Saturday, September 5, 2015

PROMO Blitz: Melody Hill by @/RickDeStefanis with #excerpt & #giveaway

Military / Espionage Thriller
Date Published: April 2015

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Surrounded by misty Tennessee mountain tops and thundering river gorges, Melody Hill is Duff Coleridge’s home town, one he believes is as close to heaven as one can get on this earth. Yet, he is leaving. He has joined the military and heading to the war in Vietnam. With the instincts of a natural warrior the young paratrooper quickly proves himself a more than capable soldier and is recruited into the shadowy world of black-ops. Despite months of jungle fighting, Duff soon finds counter-espionage is an even more dangerous proposition when he is approached by a female South Vietnamese intelligence operative. Are her advances based on true attraction, or are they merely a means of exploitation? Is this beautiful French-Vietnamese woman, as his CIA boss claims, a Vietcong spy? Duff must depend on his natural intuition and instincts to know who is telling the truth. His CIA boss, who seems more rogue than company man, is dealing arms on the black market when he’s not delivering an arbitrary and ruthless justice to the local populace. Duff realizes he must get out before it’s too late, but only then does he discover he is already trapped in a lethal game of cat and mouse.


The Hills of Tennessee

Duff Coleridge stood over a freshly killed deer, one he hadn’t meant to kill. It was a stupid mistake, one a seasoned hunter shouldn’t have made. He had watched a buck threading its way along a distant wooded ridge that late afternoon. Visible one moment and hidden in the shadows the next, the buck reappeared far back in the trees as Duff steadied his rifle. This was his last opportunity to stock the family freezer with much-needed venison before leaving. Again the buck disappeared, but then it was there in his crosshairs. At nearly four hundred yards, Duff found only the deer’s front shoulder visible. That was all he needed. Holding fifteen inches high, he squeezed off the shot.

There weren’t a lot of deer in the area, and conservation laws forbade the killing of does, but after the long walk to the top of the ridge, Duff found he had done just that. Somehow, the buck had traded places with a doe, one he hadn’t even realized was around. Duff ran his hand gently over the deer’s grayish-brown hide. She wouldn’t go to waste, but neither would she have any more fawns. His foster brother, Brady, who was hunting nearby, would arrive in a while to help carry the deer down the mountain. Duff would have to admit to a careless mistake. It was a hell of a way to end his thirty-day leave.

After making quick work of field-dressing the deer, he pulled it out to a high bluff on the edge of the woods where he awaited his brother. Far below, the waters of the Hiwassee spilled over the rocks in shimmering ripples and swirling eddies, curling their way to the distant horizon. Out beyond where the river disappeared into the hills, the winter sun offered a silent requiem to another day, and it brought back another ache that never quite left his heart.

Duff loved the Tennessee mountains and the town of Melody Hill. Growing up here had been as close to heaven as he could imagine being, but it was a bittersweet love, because despite all their beauty, it was these hills that had taken his father. And if he had learned anything the day they buried William Coleridge in the church cemetery, it was that life could come and go as quickly as summer rain. Perhaps this was what drove him to leave—to before his life, too, passed like the clouds on the horizon.

It wasn’t going to be without risk, but the military was his ticket to life, and he had taken what was offered. Duff had enlisted in the army, and he had no misconceptions about Vietnam. During Basic, and later at Fort Polk, the drill instructors said this new war was a bad one. Not that any war was good, but this one was like none before. There were no front lines. There was no easily recognizable enemy, but they left calling cards everywhere in the form of booby traps. Over the years, many of the men from around Melody Hill had done it— off to war. Most came back— didn’t.

He looked down at the dead deer lying at his feet. There would be little room for mistakes like this in Vietnam. He had to get his head right. Duff’s orders had come after jump school at Benning. He was going to the First Brigade of the 101 st Airborne, Phan Rang, Republic of South Vietnam. In five days his military leave would end. He was a paratrooper going to war.

Duff gazed out at the distant mountains. It seemed a natural progression of events had brought him here, almost as if his entire time growing up he had been guided by some invisible hand. Even as he played with Brady and Lacey in the hills and streams around home, every experience had somehow brought him to this point, experiences like the day down in Etowah when they saw the trick marksman. Only now did he realize it had been a seductive siren’s call.

Duff remembered that magnificent autumn morning with its Indian summer sun shining brightly on colorful handmade quilts. His mother had sewn the quilts to sell at Trade Day, but she had three kids to keep busy that day. She gave each of them, Duff, Brady, and Lacey, a quarter, and turned them loose. Feeling like a twelve-old rich man that morning, Duff struck out across the grounds with his siblings. The Tennessee hills rose all around as the three kids kicked off their shoes and tromped barefoot through the thick, cool winter rye, talking, laughing, and soaking up the autumn sun.

Duff was almost a year older than the others, a little taller and burdened with the responsibilities of a big brother, even to Brady, who was as much a friend as he was a foster brother. With his two siblings in tow, Duff led the way as they wandered through the vendors’ booths searching for the one trinket they had to have— long as it didn’t cost more than twenty-five cents. It was midmorning when the crisp mountain air cracked with the sound of a rifle. It came from the far end of the grounds.

Etowah Trade Day was as much a community fair as it was a market. Guitar, mandolin, and fiddle players sat in a clutch of chairs circled beneath the sweet gums, while people plied wares that ran from home-baked pies to pickled okra and live goats. The kids ran along a row of cars and pickups parked in the grass as they heard more shots and the oohs and aahhs of a crowd gathered in the field beyond. It was a man doing a marksmanship demonstration.

Duff turned. “Come on, guys, hurry up.”

Brady was with him step for step, but Lacey was in no particular hurry as she ran her little fingers over jars of honey on a vendor’s table.
“Come on, Lacey,” Duff pleaded.

She turned and ran his way, and Duff led them toward the sound of the gunshots. The kids squeezed through the crowd of adults to the front row. A man wearing a white shirt with a dark brown vest and khaki trousers held a rifle high in the air. He was smiling, and his vest was filled with colorful championship patches.

“This, my friends, is the Remington Arms, Nylon 66, .22 caliber longrifle, and this particular model is the Apache Black version with a chrome barrel and receiver. It holds fourteen rounds.”

“Whoa, check it out,” Duff said.

The reflection was almost blinding, as the shiny black and chrome rifle glistened in the morning sunlight.

“Yeah,” Brady said, his eyes wide with amazement.

Lacey shaded her eyes with her hand and squinted, but said nothing.

“On the fence rail behind me you see seven cans filled with water,” the man said. With a quick but incredibly smooth motion, he pivoted and fired seven rounds inside of two seconds, sending each can bursting into a shower of water, jerking and tumbling through the air.

“Wow!” Brady said. “He’s good.”

The men in the audience hooted, cheered, and clapped, and the marksman held up a small object. The anticipation built as he waited for total silence. The last of the mumbling in the back tapered off as the crowd grew quiet with expectation.

“This, my friends, is your common, everyday black walnut, the wild variety, hardly fit for consumption, unless you own a sledge hammer to crack it.”

A ripple of laughter filtered through the crowd.

“I have several of these tasty little morsels, but I have no hammer. So, let’s see if we can do it another way.”

After setting them on a small table, the man began rapidly tossing walnuts one at a time into the air with his left hand, firing at them with the .22. As he did, each burst into a black cloud of fragments and dust, until he had shot seven in all. More applause and a loud whistle came from the crowd, and Duff, too, found himself clapping in amazement. The man began reloading his rifle, and Duff looked around at Lacey and Brady. The crowd behind them had grown to at least thirty people.

“For my final demonstration of the morning,” the man said, “I’m going to fire a bullet through the hole in this washer.”

He held a large metal washer on his index finger for the crowd to see. Another round of chuckles circulated through the crowd.

“Oh no, I’m not joking,” the man said.

With that he tossed the washer high into the air. His motions weren’t jerky, but fluid and focused as the rifle came to his shoulder. When the washer reached the apex of its climb, the man fired a single shot. The crack of the Nylon 66 quickly faded in the distance as the crowd remained silent and watched the washer fall to the ground.

“Wow,” Duff exclaimed.

The man beside him patted his head.

“It’s a joke, sonny boy. He didn’t really shoot through the hole.” Overhearing him, the marksman said, “Oh, but I did, sir, and it’s even more difficult to shoot two washers with two shots at the same time.”

With that, he quickly turned and tossed two more washers, and fired two more shots. Both washers fell, seemingly untouched, back to earth.

“Bull feathers,” the man said.

“No, sir,” the marksman replied. “It’s not.”

He tossed yet another washer into the air. The crack of the rifle was followed instantaneously by the zing of the washer as it rocketed away.

“You see, I can hit the side of the washer if I want.”

“So, how are you gonna prove you really shot through the hole in them others?” the man asked.

The marksman smiled.

“If I can prove it, will you take a friendly wager that I can shoot through the holes of three washers on the same toss, say a quarter a shot?”

“I reckon so,” the man said.

“Would anyone else like to make a bet?” the marksman asked. Men began stepping forward and tossing their quarters, dimes, and nickels on the table.

“Heck fire,” another man said. “I don’t doubt you, but reckon I’d pay seventy five cents just to see you do it.”

When they were done, the man quickly counted the money. “There’s eighteen dollars here,” the marksman announced.

“Anyone who placed a bet, regardless of the outcome, is entitled to a free box of Remington .22 longrifle ammunition, courtesy of Remington Arms Company. Just pick it up here at the table.”

He pulled a wrinkled twenty from his pocket and laid it atop the money on the table.

Duff had never seen so much money at one time.

“Now,” the man said as he laid three more washers on the table. “I’m going to place a postage stamp over each of the holes in these washers.” He licked the stamps and stuck them to the washers. When he was done, he held them up for everyone to see, then picked up the Nylon 66. Again, washers sailed upward. Again, the marksman fired shots. Again, the washers fell back to the ground, seemingly untouched. The marksman laid the rifle on the table and turned to
Duff and Brady.

“Would you boys mind going over there and finding the three washers with postage stamps?”

The boys scrambled forward and searched the grass. Brady found the first one. Holding it up to his eye, he peeked through the small hole in the stamp. Duff picked up the second. It too had a .22 caliber hole. When they had found all three, there came applause and the crowd began dispersing, but Duff, Brady, and Lacey lingered as the boys admired the shiny new Nylon 66.

“How did you learn to shoot like that, mister?” Duff asked. The man smiled.

“Practice, practice, and more practice,” he said. “Do you own a rifle?”

Brady and Duff nodded together. “Yes, sir. We both do, but they’re just old JC Higgins single shots. My mama got them for us here at Trade Day last year.”

“Well, those old JC Higgins rifles will shoot just as accurately as this rifle,” the man said.

“Really?” Duff said.

“Really,” the man answered. “You just have to shoot them. Like I said, practice, practice, and practice.”

“We do, when we have bullets,” Brady said.

“Do your rifles shoot .22 longrifle cartridges?” the man asked. “Yes, sir.”

He reached into a box on the table.

“My sponsor, the Remington Arms Company, supplies me with free ammunition. I’m sure they won’t mind my sharing a few boxes. Here.”

With that, he placed two boxes each in front of Duff and Brady.

“Wow! Thanks, mister.”

“Just be safe. Don’t aim at anything you don’t intend to shoot, and remember that ninety-nine percent of making a good shot comes from that little knot-head of yours.”

That had been almost seven years ago, and Duff had since become an exceptional marksman, but the dead deer at his feet presented a new realization. Such talent brought with it a huge responsibility. From the opposite side of the mountain came the distant sound of chimes from the Melody Hill church, signaling another day’s end. With dusk quickly fading into nightfall, he decided to go find Brady. Having his help carrying the deer down the mountain would make the task easier. He turned, and there came a soft whistle from back in the trees. Duff whistled back. A moment later, Brady appeared from the shadows.

“You’re not going to believe what I did,” Duff said. Brady looked down at the deer.

“I was looking at a buck,” Duff said, “and I don’t know how, but—”

“Stop your worrying,” Brady said. “We’ll get her skinned-out and in the freezer. You’ve got more important things to think about.”

“You mean like leaving?” “Exactly,” Brady said.
Duff nodded. “Reckon you’re right.”

There remained only five days before he departed, and though it was late fall, they planned to spend the next afternoon down at the river. A rocky shallows of gravel bars where the kids hung out, the shoals were part of the Hiawassee where they built campfires, floated the rapids with inner tubes, and often had their first taste of liquor. Tomorrow it would be just the three of them, Duff, Brady and Lacey. It would be their last time together down at the river— time for Duff to say his good-byes

About the Author

Writer, photographer, and avid outdoorsman Rick DeStefanis lives in northern Mississippi with his wife of forty years, Janet. While his nonfiction writing, such as The Philosophy of Big Buck Hunting, focuses on his outdoor excursions, it is his military expertise that informs his novels. His works, Raeford’s MVP (coming fall, 2015), Melody Hill, and the award-winning novel The Gomorrah Principle, all draw from his experiences as a paratrooper and infantry light weapons specialist serving from 1970 to 1972 with the 82nd Airborne Division. Learn more about DeStefanis and his books at, or you can visit Rick on Facebook at Rick DeStefanis Books and Photography

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Friday, September 4, 2015

Blog Tour: The Faberge Entanglement by @tymslyder

Romantic Suspense
Date Published: July 14, 2015

Sabinne ‘Saber’ Darrieux’s father, the billionaire CEO of Frontenac Global Security has been kidnapped. His ransom is not cash in a numbered offshore account, or a briefcase of Bearer Bonds but something utterly unique, incredibly valuable, and until recently, hidden away from the world. 
The kidnapper seems to know Saber very well, and knows that the next day, through her work as an elite translator she will be in the same location as the Object. She must steal the Object and deliver it to the kidnapper to ransom her father.
Adrian Steele, a British Intelligence agent has just come off of two harrowing missions. Upon returning to London for a well-earned rest, he learns that his friend and fellow agent, has been murdered in Moscow, but not before he made use of a unique Object as a mobile ‘drop site’ for the valuable intelligence he was carrying. 
The drop site is traveling from Moscow to England. Steele insists on completing the mission to honor the death of his friend, Gerry Cornell.
At an ultra-chic quasi-diplomatic gathering in a mansion in Windsor, England, Saber and Steele meet and find themselves faced with a powerful, undeniable attraction.  But at the moment, this compelling attraction is very inconvenient. 
In reality they are at the mansion to check out the security arrangements -- for their own reasons -- to steal the Object, a FabergĂ© egg worth thirty million dollars. But who will get to the egg first?
 FabergĂ© eggs are very famous for their unique surprises. Saber and Steele are about to be very surprised, indeed.
 And when Saber clashes with Steele; more than sparks will explode!

Enjoyed an exotic, adventure-filled childhood, following her anthropologist father and travel writer mother to the farthest corners of the world. She later took inspiration from her Aunt Sophia Francesca and became the author of romantic adventure novels. She alternates her time between Los Angeles, and a family property located in Yorkshire England.
She is the author of the first two books of the Time Frame Series. Loves travel, discovering new foods to try, reading and writing. She currently lives in the central highlands of Costa Rica with her dog Pixie and her hedgehog Quiller.

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Twitter: @tymslyder

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Blog Tour: In Full Voice by Fiona Havlish with a #review

Non Fiction - Memoir
Date Published: August 25, 2015

Fiona Havlish is an engaging inspirational speaker and success coach whose stories entertain and inspire those going through drastic life transitions. You would never guess that she stuttered as a child and spent the better part of her life trying to remain invisible while navigating her own journey in silence, hiding behind her roles as wife, mother, and nurse.
On September 11th 2001, after dropping her daughter off at childcare, she answered her cell phone oblivious to the fact that she was about to be shaken out of her hiding place and awakened to her own gifts of intuition, clairaudience, and healing.
In Full Voice is a story about one woman's triumphant journey through trauma, loss, grief, illness (and even a flood) that led her to find her own voice so that she can help others uncover and share their own gifts with the world.


What a powerful novel and powerful voice Fiona Havlish has on a subject that every American has heard about over the years. This is a heartwrenching story that teaches us that while life throws us major curveballs, we are able to overcoming. Empowering and Thought-Provoking and extremely emotional. 

Fiona Havlish is an intuitive healer through the use of life’s transformational wake up calls.  She has a BSN degree, is a reiki master and success coach who works through the energetic spiritual realm. She currently lives in Boulder Colorado with her daughter, Michaela, where she enjoys sharing her newest energy practice, Raindrop Technique, and singing duets with her Boston Terrier, Molly, who is an amazing singer herself.

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Chapter Reveal: Blessed Are Those Who Mourn by @kristibelcamino

Mystery / Detective
Date Published: September 29, 2015
Publisher: HarperCollinsPublishers

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San Francisco Bay Area reporter Gabriella Giovanni has finally got it all together: a devoted and loving boyfriend, Detective Sean Donovan; a beautiful little girl with him; and her dream job as the cops' reporter for the Bay Herald. But her success has been hard-won and has left her with debilitating paranoia. When a string of young co-eds starts to show up dead with suspicious Biblical verses left on their bodies—the same verses that the man she suspects kidnapped and murdered her sister twenty years ago had sent to her—she begins to question if the killer is trying to send her a message.

It is not until evil strikes Gabriella's own family that her worst fears are confirmed. As the clock begins to tick, every passing hour means the difference between life and death to those Gabriella loves...


Chapter 1
The setting sun turns my family into dark silhouettes as I step onto the warm sand. The beach is nearly deserted, except for a lone figure walking north of us along the sand where the waves are crashing in from the Pacific Ocean.
A cool breeze makes me glad I trekked to the car to retrieve my daughter’s little lavender parka. We promised her we’d stay until the sun set.
Donovan’s back is turned, phone held to his ear. He’s pacing in his bare feet, his jeans rolled up, a scowl on his face from what he’s hearing. A murder. Every once in a while he glances back at Grace kneeling in the sand playing.
Grace has dug deep channels with a small red shovel, chatting to herself, weaving tales about mermaids and sea creatures and fairies. She bounces a plastic dinosaur along the sand, a prize won in kindergarten for reading two books in one week.
Everything I’ve ever wanted is on that beach—Donovan and our daughter, Grace. My own little family. My life.
I’m still far away, closer to the parking lot, when I see the figure walking along the shore is growing closer. It’s a man. His shadow, with its elongated arms and legs, stretches across the beach until it seems to take on a life of its own. Something about his movements seems angry and frenetic—instead of the wandering gait of a casual sunset stroll—and sets off  small alarms in my head. I walk faster, the sand seeming to reach up and grab at my ankles, slowing my progress.
Donovan’s pacing takes him in the opposite direction, away from Grace. He’s not paying attention to anything besides his phone call. The man is now closer to Grace, who seems alone on the beach, although Donovan is twenty feet away. Donovan squints up into the pink and orange clouds, raking a hand through his perpetually spiky hair.
The man’s path takes him straight toward Grace. My heart races. I can’t tell for sure, but it seems like he’s watching her. He walks at a determined clip, covering ground much faster than me in my flat, strappy sandals. I lean over in mid-stride and rip a sandal from one foot without stopping. Then I scoop up the other in one fluid motion.
Still, each step feels like my bare feet are being sucked into quicksand. I hurry, but feel like I’m moving in slow motion.
“Grace.” I shout, but my words are carried away on the wind. I’m breathless from fighting the sand tugging at my feet. The breeze, which has grown stronger in the past few minutes, whips my hair. Grace’s brown ringlets bob as she hops her plastic dinosaur around, not noticing anything else.
Donovan isn’t far from Grace, but now the man is closer.
At the same moment Donovan turns and sees the look on my face, the man reaches Grace. His long shadow falls over her small figure. She looks up with a smile and starts chatting. He leans down. His hand reaches toward her, his fingers millimeters from her arm. A wave of dread ripples through me. My feet feel cemented into the sand. My mind screams, but no words come out of my open mouth. Inside, I’m flailing and thrashing to get to Grace, but on the outside, I’m struck immobile.
The man reaches down and grasps Grace’s arm, turning her toward him, and the spell is broken. I’m on wet sand running, the scream caught in my throat coming out as a birdlike garble. I scoop Grace up onto one hip and take a step back. I gasp for air, but I can’t breathe. My heart is going to explode in my chest.
The man looks at me with surprise and for a split second, there is something in his eyes that sends panic racing up into my throat, but then the look is gone, as if I imagined it.
“Gosh. I’m so stupid,” he says in a nasally voice. He wipes his palms on the legs of his jeans, as if he is sweating even though the temperature is rapidly dipping along with the sun.
Donovan is at my side. “Gabriella, is everything okay?”
He’s used my full name and he’s looking at me instead of Grace in my arms. Guilt flicks through me. I’m not acting irrational or hysterical. A strange man walked up to our daughter and grabbed her arm. Any mother would react the same, wouldn’t she?
At first glance, the man seems boyish with his bowl haircut, baggy jeans, and sneakers. Up close, a few crow’s feet shows he is older. Maybe even my age—thirty. He has feminine pink lips, and piercing blue eyes, the color of the arctic sea. The collar of his black jacket is pulled up. His smile is all “gee, golly, shucks,” abashed and embarrassed but doesn’t reach his eyes. He paws at his jeans with his palms. He’s done that twice now. He’s nervous.
When he meets my eyes again, I realize that something about him seems off, something about his eyes, more than just their intense color. One eye is close to his nose and the other set far apart. It’s jarring and somehow unsettling to make eye contact.
“I’m so sorry,” he says in that same stuffed-up sounding voice. “What a knuckle-headed move. I should know better than to walk up to someone else’s kid like that.”
Donovan grips my arm.
“What’s going on here?” His words are clipped.
I’m panting, but finally able to catch my breath. Still, the words will not come.
“Your kid is so darn cute. She looks just like my little sister used to look. I just wanted to say hi to her and didn’t even think that was a total bonehead move to walk up to someone else’s kid when her parents weren’t around.” He gives an odd smile as he says this.
 “We were around.” Donovan says in a monotone, staring the man down.
The man looks down at the sand.
Grace is kicking and trying to get down. My knuckles are white gripping her.
“Ow, mama, you’re hurting me,” she says and tosses her curls in irritation.
Donovan shoots a glance our way before turning his attention back to the man.
 “You live around here?” Donovan asks, seemingly casual, but the muscle in his jaw is working hard. His dark eyes under thick eyebrows have narrowed and hold a glint of menace. In a second, it alters him from the man on the cover of the “Sexiest Bay Area Cops” calendar into something feral and dangerous.
The man meets Donovan’s eyes and for a second it looks like he is challenging Donovan to dispute his story, but then he looks down again and digs a sneakered toe into the sand, reinforcing my impression that he’s a kid not a man.
“Marin. Meeting some friends here in the city for dinner. Was early so came here to kill some time.  I didn’t mean to cause any problems. I just wanted to say hi to her. Maybe you’re over-reacting a bit.”
Donovan runs a hand through his hair. His posture relaxes. Instinctively—or luckily—this man has honed in on Donovan’s Achilles heel. We’ve talked at length about our tendency to be overprotective parents because of our jobs, me as a crime reporter, and him as a detective. Donovan has argued we can’t let this affect Grace’s childhood. We need to protect her, but let her grow up carefree. I agree. But it’s easier said than done.
We’ve, also, talked about my irrational fear that something will happen to Grace.
This man may not realize it, but he’s instantly off the hook with this one simple word—Overreacting.
“Why don’t you go head on out,” Donovan says, dismissing him.
“My bad, really. Wasn’t using my head. Have a nice night,” the man says and turns to leave.
I set Grace down and Donovan wraps his arm around me.
“You okay?”
“I don’t know.” I don’t tell him that it felt like I was having a heart attack, that I couldn’t breathe or move. A stranger walked up to my daughter and I stood there, weak, helpless, frozen.
Donovan gives me a look before we both turn and watch the man’s figure growing smaller. We watch without saying a word. We stand there until the man turns and heads toward the wooden boardwalk bordering the road. He never looks back.

About the Author

Kristi Belcamino is a writer, photographer, and artist. In her former life as a newspaper crime reporter in California, she flew over Big Sur in an FA-18 jet with the Blue Angels, raced a Dodge Viper at Laguna Seca, watched autopsies, and interviewed serial killers. She is now a journalist based in Minneapolis and the Gabriella Giovanni mysteries are her first books. Find Kristi on Facebook or on Twitter @KristiBelcamino

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Thursday, September 3, 2015

PROMO Blitz: The God Thought by @DC_Ravens with #excerpt & #giveaway

Science Fiction
Date Published: April 23, 2015

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A MASSIVE EXPLOSION… levels a small town in Kansas and rips apart the commercial airliner flying overhead. The wife and child of Oliver Wells are among the thousands reported dead. Authorities blame the tragedy on an accident at a fertilizer plant not up to code. A year later, still grappling with his depression, Oliver is accosted by a mysterious stranger who offers another answer:



Thrust into a hidden world of conspirators and luminaries who would do anything to attain the farmer's knowledge, Oliver finds himself in a race to confront the man who killed his family. To do so, he must test the limits of his sanity... AND UNLOCK THE POWER OF THE GOD THOUGHT FOR HIMSELF.


San Diego, CA.
May 4 – one year after the Bloomington Blast

Oliver Wells drew an exhausted breath as he stepped out of the deplane tunnel and into the airport lobby. His weary eyes scanned the blank faces of those who trolled about at the midnight hour. Though he knew it wasn’t possible, Oliver entertained the idea that the same oblivious souls who ignored his departure fifteen months prior were present to ignore his return.
Nothing has changed.
The same dank smell of cleaning chemicals assaulted Oliver’s nose just as they did before. The same broken electronic kiosk remained under repair. Even the advertisements shouted the same message from a year ago in their gaudy backlit colors. It was as if the entire San Diego International Airport had been perfectly preserved in a protective bubble, completely untouched by the hands of time.
Why did I come back?
“Holding up the line, Shaggy,” a man barked from behind.
Oliver snapped to attention. Shaggy? He looked behind himself to realize he blocked the exit for a number of passengers who flashed him glares of disdain without so much a stutter in their own cell phone conversations. Oliver stepped to the side. Before he could apologize, the offended blew past to continue their business.
 The sight of the cell phones reminded Oliver of his own. He fumbled inside his duffle bag to retrieve a phone wrapped in a filthy ziplock bag along with a house key and a wad of carefully folded paper money from various countries. The phone appeared alien to Oliver as he palmed it for the first time in several months. To his surprise, the dark display and blank reflective screen provided a crude mirror. Oliver recognized only the cold, blue eyes of the thirty-five year old that stared back at him—a scruffy brown beard and long, matted hair obscured the remainder of his face.
Who was this guy?
Oliver turned his phone on. When the device finally booted up, it occurred to him—who would he call?
No wife or child awaited Oliver’s return. His cousin would be too eager to pick up and ask where the money he owed him is. Jeff? Michael? Gretchen? The phone’s depleted battery solved the dilemma.
Oliver casually tossed the phone into a garbage can as he exited the terminal. The weary traveler stepped out onto the sidewalk to find himself immediately accosted by a Prius taxi driver desperate to earn a fare.
“Where to?” the cabbie offered a kind Latino smile as he took Oliver’s duffle bag. The man’s silver hair and laugh lines hinted at a confidence Oliver longed for.
“I used to live in Orange County,” managed Oliver. He wondered if his house was still standing and if the teenage neighbor he’d paid in advance to tend the lawn lived up to his promise.
“Used to? Is that where you want to go? Long drive. Should’ve flown into John Wayne.”
Ollie hunched his shoulders. “You want the fare or what?”
The cabbie looked Oliver up and down, his smile noticeably absent. “You have cash?”
Oliver lifted up a wad of twenty and fifty dollar bills. The cabbie’s smile returned as he opened the passenger door.
Traffic proved unusually sparse as the cab sped up the northbound five. Unable to sleep, Oliver stared blankly out the window, watching the lights flicker by in various rhythms. Thirty minutes into the drive, they coasted along the Pacific just north of Oceanside—one of the few stretches of freeways in Southern California not littered with homes or industry, illuminated only by the starry night sky and the headlamps of cars.
Oliver studied his driver through the rearview mirror, who hummed along to the mariachi songs that were emitted from the radio in low volume. That’s when Oliver noticed a familiar object resting on the cabbie’s dashboard.
“That book. It’s yours?” Oliver asked.
The cabbie smiled. “This?” he responded, holding the paperback up. The faded cover proudly announced Our Secret History in bold bronzed letters that hovered ominously over a group of men in dark cloaks, their faces masked by shadows. Behind them, a tree of light branched up majestically toward the book’s title. “Who else’s would it be?”
“Right,” sighed Oliver. Published twenty or so years ago, Our Secret History was written by the eccentric billionaire Lord Montague Graves. It portrayed a controversial esoteric view of the entire world’s history from the dawn of man. Each chapter exposed classified documents, alternative theological texts, ancient alien theories, transcribed oral histories, and new age thinking. Such a cocktail of ideas invited ridicule from the general public. The work proved disastrous and led to near financial ruin for the publisher, White Tower Books. To find a physical, paperback copy that survived the retailers’ purge was nearly impossible, and here, this cabbie from San Diego had one on his dashboard.
“It’s not that, it’s just—” Oliver reached into his duffle bag and produced his own worn out copy. “It’s a rare book. Not many people have read it, let alone owned it.”
“I see,” said the cabbie. “How did you come across it?”
“Read it as a kid—I was into anything that bent toward the unusual or fantastic back then. Lost track of it as I grew up. Then, when my wife—” Oliver choked on his tongue. Really? She’s been gone a year! Oliver swallowed. “The book turned up when I was selling off some old things. I thumbed through it again. It inspired me to travel, actually.”
“Travel where?”
“Stonehenge, Jerusalem, Tibet—places I’ve just always wanted to go to since reading about them. There are a lot of silly ideas about history in this book, probably none of which are true, but the destinations are real.” Oliver hid his copy away. It all sounded so childish now.
“Most history is written through the lens of victory and power,” the cabbie mused. “That same lens will blur any details that surround its focus on ‘truth.’”
“I’m an accountant,” explained Oliver, surprised he still described himself by a job he hadn’t held for a year. “Things either add up or they don’t. Therein lies truth.”
“So—do things add up for you?”
Oliver grimaced. He had strictly followed the tried and true Wells Family Formula for Success during most of his life. He became an accountant like his father and his father’s father. He married a beautiful, prominent business woman at the age of twenty-five, bought a modest three-bedroom single-detached home, all of which were supposed to add up and equal “happy.” But he wasn’t happy. Happiness didn’t enter the equation until he met Audrey, the woman who would prove to be the love of his life. In a random moment of chance, she’d received his order by accident at a coffee shop. The instant their eyes met to exchange drinks, any and all math that had ruled Oliver’s world seemed to break down. A messy divorce led to a second wedding and the birth of a beautiful baby girl, Ava, followed by the eight most glorious years of Oliver’s personal life. Professionally he took a hit—his ex-wife saw to that. Even when investments went bad and money became tight, Oliver didn’t seem to care. All he needed was Audrey and Ava for the equation to balance and equal happiness.
Then in a flash he’d lost them both. A small piece of debris shot up from an explosion over Kansas, Kansas of all godforsaken places, and started a fire in the airliner’s engine. No one survived the crash. How the hell does that add up?
“It doesn’t, does it?” The cabbie flashed his knowing smile again in the rear view mirror. “That’s why you found the book again. The ideas in it inspired you to search for another truth. Your own truth.”
Oliver leaned back in his seat, now regretting the conversation. “Maybe. I don’t know. Doesn’t everyone do that?”“Many are satisfied with the truth provided to them.”
Oliver closed his eyes and drew a deep breath. Stop talking. Please, just stop.
“So did you find it? Did you find your truth?”
“I’d rather not go into it.” Why am I philosophizing with a cabbie?
“If you don’t know, then you didn’t find it, Oliver.”
The accountant’s eyes popped open. The hairs on the back of his neck stood at attention. “I don’t recall giving you my name.”
“You didn’t.” Wheels screeched as the cabbie abruptly turned the car off the freeway and exited onto a bumpy dirt road. Oliver had driven this stretch of freeway probably a hundred times, but never noticed such a road’s existence. If one hadn’t known exactly where the path lies, he or she would surely miss it.
“What the—what are you doing? Is something wrong with the car?” yelled a jostled Oliver.
The cab skidded to a halt, kicking up a cloud of dust that glowed an eerie red from the brake lights. “Relax, Oliver. Nothing is wrong with the car.”
“Why did you pull over? How do you know my name?”
The cabbie turned around to face Oliver. His smile was absent again, but a great calm remained about him despite his passenger’s nervousness. “You’re at a crossroads,” he answered.
  “What the hell are you talking about? The freeway is right over there! All you had to do was drive straight to remain on it!”
“You can return to the freeway if you want,” the cabbie hunched his shoulders. “But I’ve been sent to make you aware of another path.”
“What?” Oliver kicked open his door, threw his duffle bag onto the dirt, and frantically climbed out of the car. The cabbie followed. “Stay away from me!” Oliver stretched his arms out as if to hold the man at bay. “I said stay away!”
“Take the moment, Oliver. You’ll need a clear head to make your decision,” the cabbie replied with a nod.
Oliver surveyed his surroundings. It was probably three hundred meters to the empty freeway. There were no other cars in sight that he could flag down for help. To the opposite side was a desert brush that faded into the soft outlines of starlit foothills. For all intents and purposes, he was stranded alone with this mad cabbie.

About the Author

Dave Cravens has written, edited and directed for a wide range of entertainment media since 1992, including award winning video games, TV commercials, promotional trailers and documentaries. The God Thought is his first science fiction novel. Dave lives in Southern California with his wife and three children.

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Wednesday, September 2, 2015

PROMO Blitz: American Woman by @JoWritesRomance with a #excerpt & #giveaway

Contemporary G/G Romance
Date Published: June 17, 2015

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Rock chicks are more complicated than they look, especially when one is becoming her destiny, the other following a classical career, and the third wheel the steaming hot lead singer of the new big thing. Scarred hearts bleed pain when the pulse of love blurs to jealousy and rage. Between family, ex-lovers, and their own clashing issues, this complicated love triangle becomes a tangled mess, leaving the shy and the reckless reeling. The future is bleak, they're isolated and misunderstood, and pride ruins passion.

Drunken mistakes haunt Molly and Justine; their spiral into misery riveting. Strumming emotions more than guitar strings, the dynamic Justine, Tessa, and Molly, will keep you on tenterhooks of suspense in this lady-on-lady romance.


Darkness and light tango across the ceiling when wind strip searches trees, blocking the streetlight's glow when the bluster sways branches. The eerie shapes skittering overhead would be frightening if I was a child, or if I allowed my imagination to take hold.

Instead, lying in the darkness, they are soothing somehow. I shiver as the howling outside mimics the shadows stretching in front of me.

The snoring besides me escalates, and I sigh. I love Alex, in my own way. As much as I can love him. It isn’t his fault our relationship is mundane and our sex life so routine. It took both of us to destroy the foundation of our life together. He can't read minds.

About the Author

Joanne Sexton is an Australian romance writer and mother of two. She had always dreamed of writing novels and has been an avid reader most of her life. In between being a mum and writing, she runs a small bookkeeping business. She has recently become a qualified florist.

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