Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Meet Alicia Dean and Enter Her Contest to Win an Amazon Gift Card

Alicia has been my guest many times, and for Friday the 13th, she and twelve other authors (13 total, get it? 😊) each wrote a spooky, suspenseful story in the ‘A Friday the 13th Story’ series. They are stand-alone but have recurring threads and they were all released on Friday, November 13th.

Alicia's contribution to the series is titled Blood and Breakfast. Check it out below. And be sure to check out her contest where you can win an Amazon gift card! 

Click here for details. (Contest ends Dec 15, 2020)



Fun Fact from Alicia:

 

I was plotting my story and trying to figure out why a normal family man would suddenly snap and murder his family. I realized that hallucinations could cause people to do crazy things, so I researched what could make people hallucinate. I discovered that the plant, jimson weed, can cause serious hallucinations. I also wanted to incorporate some kind of an authentic local legend in my story, so I researched legends in various states and came across the Devil’s Footrock in Rhode Island.  I was able to mesh the two–jimson weed and the Devil’s Footrock–to come up with how the husband/father in my story lost his mind and killed his family. It’s so much fun when ideas click and make a story come together. Here’s a photo of Devil’s Foot Rock:



About BLOOD AND BREAKFAST

Determined to boost the sagging ratings of her internet radio show, “A Dark Place,” murder junkie Sasha Gillette checks into the Talley House Bed and Breakfast in North Kingston, Rhode Island. She and her co-host plan to broadcast an episode about the murders that took place there thirteen years earlier on a Friday the 13th, when a man butchered his entire family.


Not long after Sasha arrives, the other guests begin to disappear. Has a killer from the past resurfaced or is there a copycat on the loose?

One of the lone survivors, Sasha finds herself trapped with a sadistic killer and, suddenly, murder isn’t as much fun as she thought.

Excerpt 

“I’m going to look for her. It’s not okay that she’s been gone for hours when she said she’d be back in thirty minutes. Do you know where she was taking her walk?”

“I-in the woods.”

“Well, of course she was,” I muttered. “Agnes, do you have a flashlight I can borrow? And maybe something I can use for a weapon?”

Agnes nodded. “I’ll get you a flashlight. I have a hammer.”

Dorset rose as well. “I’ll go with you.” He cut his gaze to Bradley, but the dufus just sat there without volunteering to help. “Nothing, old chap? Not going to offer to come along?”

“I should stay here in case she comes back,” Bradley murmured but he didn’t look at them. Was he afraid…or feeling guilty?

 I shivered when we stepped outside, drawing my hoodie tighter around my body. The nearly half full moon hovered in the cloudy sky behind the branches of a Tulip tree. Lightning flashed, illuminating the back yard. The icy air held the scent of rain. “We need to hurry,” I told Dorset. “It looks like it might storm.”

He nodded. “I’d say let’s split up to cover more ground, but with one flashlight and hammer, and with the odd happenings lately, maybe we should stick together.”

“Agreed.” My teeth chattered, though it wasn’t all that cold.

We walked along the wood line, shouting for Macy, shining the flashlight between the trees. Nothing. As if by mutual agreement, we entered the woods. I shuddered, not only concerned about a potential maniac, but also leery of whatever creatures might be scurrying around at my feet. I was a city girl and didn’t even own a pet. I was not okay with encountering an animal, of any kind.

We searched for another half hour with no sign of Macy. We were deep into the woods when the sky opened up and doused us with buckets of rain. Thunder rumbled and more lightning flashed. We gave up and hurried back to the house.

The others were waiting for us.

“Anything?” Bradley asked, his voice high-pitched with anxiety. He seemed much more concerned about Macy than he had been about his wife.

“Not a sign,” I said. “We need to call the police.”

“I did.” Agnes was seated in the forest green wing chair in the corner of the library. “They took the information but said she’s an adult and can leave any time she wants.” She rose. “We waited dinner for you. Let’s eat.”

A pall hung over the room as we ate in silence, the air thick with fear and confusion.

Afterward, I excused myself and headed upstairs, anxiety weighing on me. I had an overwhelming feeling that I wouldn’t sleep a wink. Nor would anyone else.

 

 

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~


Purchase BLOOD AND BREAKFAST on Amazon


 

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All stories in the Friday the 13th series:

 

Links to Evil by Rolynn Anderson

Till Death by Maureen Bonatch

Blood and Breakfast by Alicia Dean

Retribution by D.J. FitzSimons

Shattered Reflections by Tamrie Foxtail

A Deadly Game by Jannine Gallant

Dead to Rights by Margo Hoornstra

In the Still of the Night by Callie Hutton

Glimpse, the Dinner Guest by Stephen B. King

Scorned by Anna Kittrell

Vanity Kills by Dianne McCartney

Fatal Legacy by Krysta Scott

Azrael’s Chosen by Leah St. James


Friday, November 20, 2020

November 22, 1963...THE END OF CAMELOT

 

November 22, 1963, a day that changed America forever. Who killed President Kennedy?

 I've been a HUGE JFK assassination buff since that very day. Everyone who was alive on November 22, 1963 knew exactly where they were and what they were doing when they heard the news. I was in my first grade classroom. The teacher got a call on the classroom phone and told us ‘the president was shot.’ A collective gasp went around the room. I was 6 years old and in first grade. It was ten years before I saw the footage of Ruby shooting Oswald, on an anniversary documentary. 

          But it was my grandmother who got me interested in the biggest mystery since 'who killed the princes in the Tower?' (I'm a Ricardian; that's for another post).  She got me embroiled right along with her.
          She listened to all the radio talk shows (those who lived in the New York area might remember Long John Nebel, on WOR, WNBC, and WMCA, all on AM radio (FM was really 'out there' at that time).
          She recorded all the radio talk shows. She bought whatever books came out over the years, along with the Warren Commission Report, which I couldn't lift at the time, it was so heavy. But my interest never waned in the 51 years that followed.
          In 2000, I began the third book of my New York Saga, set in 1963. The heroine is Vikki McGlory Ward, daughter of Billy McGlory, hero of the second book, BOOTLEG BROADWAY, set during Prohibition. This was my opportunity to write a novel showcasing all my current theories, and continue the saga. It took a minimum of research, since I remember all the 60's brands, (Bosco, Yum Berry, Mr. Bubble...), the fashions, the songs, and I even included a scene set on that unforgettable night when the Beatles first appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show, February 9, 1964.



About THE END OF CAMELOT  (in print, on Kindle, and now on audio with the expressive animated Nina Price)    

The third in the New York Saga, The End of Camelot centers on Billy McGlory’s daughter Vikki, whose husband is murdered trying to prevent the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Vikki uses her detective skills to trace the conspiracy, from New York to New Orleans to Dallas, and at the same time, tricks her husband’s murderer into a confession. A romance with her bodyguard makes her life complete.

November 22, 1963: The assassination of a president devastates America. But a phone call brings even more tragic news to Vikki Ward—her TV reporter husband was found dead in his Dallas hotel room that morning.

Finding his notes, Vikki realizes her husband was embroiled in the plot to kill JFK—but his mission was to prevent it. When the Dallas police rule his death accidental, Vikki vows to find out who was behind the murders of JFK and her husband. With the help of her father and godfather, she sets out to uncover the truth.

Aldobrandi Po , the bodyguard hired to protect Vikki, falls in love with her almost as soon as he sets eyes on her. But he's engaged to be married, and she’s still mourning her husband. Can they ever hope to find happiness in the wake of all this tragedy?

Purchase THE END OF CAMELOT on Amazon

 Excerpt:

It was New Year’s Eve, they were alone, and he was harmless. So far. So she took the necessary two paces over to him and placed the honey ball between his custom-made choppers.

He closed his eyes, and she watched him savoring the sweetness. She didn’t dare say another word as she ran her index finger over a glob of cream on the cannoli plate, raised it to her lips and licked. “Mmmm,” she voiced, wishing she hadn’t.

Their eyes met and locked. Faster than lightning, they came together like magnets. Their lips met, sweet and sticky and hot. She didn’t want him to stop, but her inner voice screamed how wrong it was—It’s forbidden!—echoing the nuns in Saint Gustina’s. She shooed it away like an annoying fly. Leave me alone, I’m not a kid anymore. Her arms circled his neck, and his hands slid down to the curve of her back. Dare she move in closer, pelvis to pelvis, an unthinkable act three seconds ago? Her body was betraying her, betraying Jack, taking on a will of its own as she crushed herself to him. The kiss intensified. She tasted cannoli, and her fogged mind told her he’d been sampling them all day. She breathed in his cologne, so foreign it repelled her, so new it aroused her even further. Her tiara slipped off her head. She caught it just as he pulled away.

He held her at arm’s length as in a tango. “Oh, cara mia,” he growled—and if he said another word in Italian, she knew she’d explode. A passion long dormant stirred inside her.

My favorite passage from the book:

Billy came down the stairs for a nightcap and glanced into the living room. He noticed the glow in the fireplace, Vikki’s eyeglasses and the anisette bottle on the table. The couch faced the other way, but nobody was sitting on it. “Where’d they go?” Then he realized they hadn’t gone anywhere—and they were on the couch, but not sitting. Before he got out of their way, he placed a long-playing record on the phonograph. Jackie Gleason’s “For Lovers Only.”

An Audible review:

The End of Camelot is a fabulous read. It takes place back in time when President Kennedy was tragically assassinated. The main character is Vikki Ward, who is dealing with her own tragedy when her husband is also assassinated. She is determined to connect the two murders and find out the truth of what had happened. I enjoyed the mystery and suspense. It kept me intrigued throughout. I never knew what was going to happen next. I recommend it to other readers, especially the fabulous performance of Nina Price in the audio version. She does a great job! --Amy C.

 

Friday, November 13, 2020

Meet Gwendolyn Whisper Stone, Author of MALICE: THOMAS JEFFERSON'S CONSPIRACY TO DESTROY AARON BURR

I met Gwendolyn through the Aaron Burr Association, which I joined when researching my biographical novel of Burr's last wife Eliza Jumel. She's a true Renaissance woman. 

About Gwendolyn

Gwendolyn has been writing on law and politics for twenty years. She became an investigative reporter and legal commentator (sub nom Jennifer Van Bergen) for various online news outlets after 9/11 and has published two books prior to MALICE: THOMAS JEFFERSON'S CONSPIRACY TO DESTROY AARON BURR as well as several scholarly law journal pieces. 

Her research on Burr's friend and protege, novelist Leonora Sansay uncovered and established that mysterious woman's true origins and biographical history for the first time since her first anonymous novel came out in 1808, the year of Burr's treason trial. 

A former theatrical actress and director, singer/songwriter, poet/playwright/short story writer, Gwendolyn has also been developing a musical based on her "Malice" book (12 songs already produced), and is circulating her 3-scene, one-act short play using mostly actual words of those involved in the Jefferson conspiracy. She is presently outlining a film screenplay, as well, based on the same story.

She has a law degree from Cardozo School of Law (1999) but does not practice law due to a long illness from Lyme disease, contracted in 1992. She also has a Master of Science in Int'l Education (2009) and 30 credits towards an LL.M. in Environmental Law from Vermont Law School (earned in 2011). She taught Archetypes for Writers for ten years (1993-2003) at the New School University in NYC and taught law at the Anglo-American University in Prague (2009). See her profile on Facebook. 

About MALICE: THE THOMAS JEFFERSON'S CONSPIRACY TO DESTROY AARON BURR




The conspiracy conducted by President Thomas Jefferson to destroy his former Vice President, Aaron Burr was covered up and buried for more than 200 years. Van Bergen has unearthed the details, the elements of the crime, and the conspirators in this scholarly, nonfiction book that dips in and out of various aspects to make the case.










Sunday, November 8, 2020

Meet Award-Winning Romance Author Marie Lavender and Read About UPON YOUR RETURN, Book One of the Heiresses in Love Series

I've known Marie for several years, and am happy to host her again. Her latest release, UPON YOUR RETURN, will be on sale November 23, in which Marie brings excitement and passion to two coastal France towns in this captivating love story about a young heiress and a devilishly charming ship captain. 


About Marie

Multi-genre author of Victorian maritime romance/family saga, Heiresses in Love, and 20 other books. Marie Lavender lives in the Midwest with her family and two cats. She has been writing for a little over twenty-five years. She has more works in progress than she can count on two hands. Since 2010, Marie has published 21 books in the genres of historical romance, contemporary romance, romantic suspense, paranormal romance, romantic comedy, dramatic fiction, fantasy, science fiction, mystery/thriller, literary fiction and poetry. An avid blogger on the side, she writes adult fiction, as well as occasional stories for children, and has recently started some young adult fiction. She also contributed to several anthologies. Though Marie has standalone titles on the market, her current published series are The Eternal Hearts Series, The Magick Series, The Code of Endhivar Series, The Misfits Series and The Blood at First Sight Series, but she has many others planned. Her Victorian maritime romance series is returning, and the second editions of the trilogy will be released under her new publisher, Foundations Books. Discover more about her and her work at the following links.


About UPON YOUR RETURN 

Utterly captivated by a man who rescues her one night, Fara embarks on an unexpected journey…

 After being raised to believe that love is just a frivolous endeavor, French heiress Fara Bellamont has always kept her dreams of adventure and discovering a soul-searing passion to herself. So, when Captain Grant Hill makes his grand entrance into her life by way of rescuing her one fateful night, she knows she’s in trouble. He completely steals her heart.

But, as far as society is concerned, he’s also not a suitable husband.

Grant Hill, a beguiling, rugged ship captain, is just as enthralled with Fara as she is with him, but he too knows such things aren’t so simple. Not only must they overcome social expectations to be together, but wars, and lies, as well. And with a long-time yearning neither has managed to achieve, the pair must fight to attain their deepest desire:

Happiness.

If you loved Surrender of a Siren by Tessa Dare or The Other Miss Brigerton by Julia Quinn, you’ll love this “exciting” and “intricate” standalone Historical Romance set by the sea. Get your copy today…

Goodreads

BookBub

Universal Purchase Link


Connect with Marie

 Universal Author Links

Fan Mail Email


Brief Excerpt

Fara fought the blackness to the coming light. It was so easy to stay in the dark. It was comforting like a warm blanket. But, the light held such possibilities. She knew she must rouse, as if something significant lay in wakefulness. She stirred and felt a pair of arms holding her. Then she heard a heartbeat beneath a rough fabric, felt a coarse texture of chest hair. It was so secure within that embrace.

When she finally realized it was a man who held her, she gasped and tried to retreat from the cord of muscles. She glanced up to be temporarily blinded by the lamplight to her left.

“Don't move,” said a soft but deep voice.

He spoke with the assurance of authority, likely used to ordering people around. Well, he wouldn't command her. She lifted her heavy head and whimpered as a stab of agony sliced through her skull. Fara squeezed her eyes shut tight. It was so much easier to be left in the dark for it was as if her head was being cut with so many knives.

“I will have you more comfortable in a moment. Please don’t move.”

How could she possibly move with all this pain and that large man rendering her limbs useless?

Suddenly, she felt a light cushion beneath her. The glare from the lantern came across her vision again when she opened her eyes and was then replaced by the outline of a man towering above her. On a panicked breath, she crawled away from him, but his hold on her waist hauled her back. Her head hurt so as he studied her face.

Madame, the pain will lessen if you stay still. I promise I didn’t bring you here to harm you in any way.”

She gradually settled back on the pillows and looked at her keeper. He was an attractive man, if one liked the rough, indignant kind. Dark layers of soft waves covered his head and ended at the nape of his neck. He was large, but slim in the right places...it spoke of years of hard physical labor.

His eyes captivated her as she studied him in such proximity. The shade of his eyes...a charcoal color; they were the most intense and unreadable eyes she'd ever seen. It was an odd, yet strikingly beautiful color for a man.

Oh, you silly girl, she thought. Really...how ridiculous for her to be wooed by only a pair of eyes.



An Interview with Marie

 Let’s start with your inspirational journey to publishing.  

I’ve been writing stories for nearly all my life. From the age of nine, I knew exactly what I wanted to do for a living – to be a novelist. I lived to fuel my creativity into a passion that might eventually result in a writing career. By 2010, I was ready to try the world of indie publishing. I began planning and released three literary fiction and poetry collections in subsequent years. After that, I tried publishing books in other genres – contemporary romance, romantic suspense, mystery, even a paranormal thriller. By 2012, I’d received my first official book contract with a traditional publisher. I kept stories and novels in various subgenres of romance with that company for a while. I also learned to focus on one project a time, and to stick with one pen name. The rest, as they say, is history. 

  1. Other than historical romances, what genre(s) would you consider writing and why? 

I have written all sorts of books, even comedy, sci-fi, paranormal, and fantasy. I guess what I have not yet achieved – and I’ve considered it for a while – is a horror story. The idea I have for it has a touch of paranormal and mystery, but it would have enough horror to please that audience. I’m hesitant to dive into it, but I shouldn’t be because I’ve tried other genres and those journeys have turned out well. Why wouldn’t that one, too? I try to not to box myself into always writing one type of book. 

  1. If you were going to write a non-fiction book, what would the title be? (this is my novelist’s version of the Barbara Walters’ special question of “If you were a tree, what kind would you be?”) 

I have often thought I probably would never write non-fiction books, as I get enough of that when I write articles for different blogs. But if I’m going off the top of my head, perhaps 101 Ways to Write the Novel of Your Dreams

  1. Who is your favorite romance author? Who’s your favorite non-romance author, if any? What books are you reading these days? 

I would still have to say my favorite author right now is J.R. Ward. I can always count on her to produce a steamy and exciting story. As for non-romance…that’s a tough one. I used to enjoy Kurt Vonnegut’s and Barbara Kingsolver’s books. Very diverse authors, of course, but I can’t say there was much romance in their tales. 

I’m currently reading The Sight by Chloe Neill. That series has become an unusual, dystopian take on urban fantasy.

 Tell me your favorite most zany “when I was doing research for this novel you wouldn’t believe what I did/what happened” story: 

The wildest thing about it is that it was a nine-year project. Life and the roller coaster of creativity – plus my unwillingness to pin the story down to a specific era – conspired to delay the completion of Upon Your Return. But in 2011, it was finally done, and I handed it over to my critique partner circle. After that was polished, I began submitting queries to publishers and literary agents. The book remained with my former publisher for six years before they handed the rights back to me. Last year, I submitted queries all over again, and soon I found my current publisher. 

So overall, what really stands out about the process is how long it took to write the book, and the pile of rejections I had to plow through to get this historical romance published.

 6.How long, on average, does it take you to write a 100,000 word novel?  What is your typical writing schedule like when you’re on deadline for a novel? 

The rate at which I wrote Upon your Return is hardly typical. For a full-length novel, it often takes me a year to write. Maybe a year and half if the concept is more complicated, or if I’m dealing with unforeseen family emergencies. When I am focused on finishing a manuscript, I make it a point to work on the project every day, even if all I accomplish is research or outlining the synopsis. 

7. I know you’ve had a few, so please share your other fascinating jobs/careers.  Do you, or will you ever, write full-time? 

Hmm. The types of jobs I’ve had included working in a tuxedo warehouse in the shirts and accessories department, being a hostess at two different restaurants, a reservation agent for the U.S. national parks, cell phone data support, a booking agent for a talent search audition camp, and a few other customer service representative jobs. And, at the moment, I do a lot of blogging on the side. 

Honestly, I’d love to write full-time and dedicate myself to the task at hand. It’s such a distraction to get bogged down in the business aspects of being an author. 

8. If you could be one of the characters from any of your books, who would it be and why?

I would be hard-pressed to pin it down to a specific character, but I know I’d definitely choose a heroine from the Heiresses in Love Series. I relate so well with them. Weird, right, since those books are historical romance. Maybe that makes me an old soul?

9. If you could jump into any book, and live in that world, which would it be?

Perhaps the Chronicles of Narnia series by C.S. Lewis. It seems like there would never be a dull moment in that fictional world.

10. Do you have a specific snack that you have with you when you write?

My ideal snack is sweet and salty, so maybe a combination of pretzels and M&Ms. Anything to stave off cravings during the creative process. Also, one of my weaknesses is dark chocolate.

11. Do you have an all-time favorite book?

I love far too many! But because of my fondness for J.R. Ward, my favorite of hers is probably Dark Lover.

12. If you could meet two authors, who would you pick and why?

I already made the mistake of meeting my idol years ago, and I found out one of my fave authors was a total jerk to people. So, I’d have to say that if I did plan to meet another in real life, I would rather go back in time and meet two legendary writers. 

The first is Samuel Richardson, who wrote Pamela, or Virtue Rewarded, the first official romance novel (1740). I’ve often wondered what inspired that book. Did he witness a strange courtship between a gentleman and his servant? Was it, perhaps, a personal story? So, I think I would want to discover what drove him to write the book, which is so unique, as it’s told through a series of letters the heroine pens to her parents. 

The second author I’d wish to meet in person is Kurt Vonnegut – of course, before he died. He was from Indiana too. I guess I’d like to pick his brain, see how he came up with some of his books. Judging from the style and voice of his stories and novels, as well as former interviews I’ve read, he appeared to be quite an interesting guy. 

13. Tell us a random fact about you that we never would have guessed.

I can actually sing. I used to be in a choir, and I sang soprano. I also took a voice class for fun in college. Once upon a time, I’d entertained the idea of being a real singer in life, putting myself out there like that on stage. But the dream just kind of faded, and I found that becoming a writer was a far more fulfilling experience.

14. Anything else you’d like to share with readers that I haven’t asked? 

Please join or share my official launch party for this upcoming historical romance release on Facebook. We look forward to seeing you stop by then! Click here to join