Blurb Blitz: Big Shot

I’m happy to welcome author Kirsten Weiss. Today, Kirsten shares her new release, Big Shot.

Blurb

Small Town. Big Murder.

The number one secret to my success as a bodyguard? Staying under the radar. But when a wildly public disaster and a dead client blew up my career and reputation, it turned my perfect, solo life upside down.

I thought my tiny hometown of Nowhere would be the ideal out-of-the-way refuge to wait out the media storm.

It wasn’t.

My little brother had moved into a treehouse. The obscure mountain town had decided to attract tourists with the world’s largest collection of big things… Yes, Nowhere now has the world’s largest pizza cutter. And lawn flamingo. And ball of yarn…

And then I stumbled over a dead body.

All the evidence points to my brother being the bad guy. I may have been out of his life for a while—okay, five years—but I know he’s no killer. Can I clear my brother before he becomes Nowhere’s next Big Fatality?

A fast-paced and funny cozy mystery series, buy Big Shot now to take advantage of the special pre-order price of 99 cents.

Murder mystery game included in the back of the book!

Excerpt

My low heel caught on something, and I stumbled backward.

Normally, this wouldn’t have been an issue. I was fairly light on my feet. But a howling mass of gray fur flew around the corner of the building at the same moment. I threw up my hands to protect myself and thudded into something hard and muscular.

Powerful arms wrapped around my chest. And since my hands were protecting my face, the arms grabbed a very sensitive spot. Two sensitive spots, actually.

“Watch it,” a masculine voice rumbled.

I jerked away, and he released me. Embarrassed and indignant, I whirled and glared into a pair of green eyes full of mirth.

My gaze moved upward to his dark, curling hair. For the first time since the accident, I felt like I was in the real world. He was real.

He was also at least six-foot-two, because he was four inches taller than me. He looked like the Greek god of war—not the Ares from the marble statues, the one from that old TV show, Xena, Warrior Princess (my secret hero). The effect was in no way diminished by his white t-shirt and jeans stained at the knees.

“There are easier ways to get to know me,” he said.

Buy Links

Kindle | Apple Books | Nook | Google Play | Kobo

NOTE: The book will be on sale for $0.99 during the tour.

Author Bio and Links

Kirsten Weiss writes laugh-out-loud, page-turning mysteries. Her heroines aren’t perfect, but they’re smart, they struggle, and they succeed. Kirsten writes in a house high on a hill in the Colorado woods and occasionally ventures out for wine and chocolate. Or for a visit to the local pie shop.

Kirsten is best known for her Wits’ End, Perfectly Proper Paranormal Museum, and Tea & Tarot cozy mystery books. So if you like funny, action-packed mysteries with complicated heroines, just turn the page…

Website | Facebook | Instagram

Giveaway

Kirsten Weiss will be awarding a $10 Amazon/Barnes & Noble gift card to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter during the tour. Find out more here.

In addition to the Rafflecopter, the author is running a pre-order promotion on her website.

Follow Kirsten on the rest of her Goddess Fish tour here.

Virtual Book Tour: My Dearest Miss Fairfax

I’m happy to welcome author Jeanette Watts. Today, Jeanette shares ten important rules about dancing and her new release, My Dearest Miss Fairfax.

Here’s Jeanette!

I am a dance teacher. I teach belly dance, and swing, and tango, and foxtrot, and waltz, and polka, and any number of other historical dances. I started a French Cancan troupe and ran it for 20 years (it is now under the direction of one of the dancers from the troupe, and still going strong!). I adore moving to music, and I adore the process of teaching people to dance. It’s a beautiful, powerful process of self-discovery that everyone goes through when they learn to dance.

Every single one of my books has some dance references snuck in them. Which was really fun for my current book, “My Dearest Miss Fairfax,” because Jane Austen’s “Emma” spends a lot of time and attention to scenes that talk about all the decision-making that goes into throwing a ball. I laughed with recognition as I was re-reading the discussion about where to put the food, and will the hall be big enough, and where do we put the music, and who will be able to come/did we give the people on the invite list sufficient notice? I have those same conversations, all the time.

So, here is my contribution:

10 Important Rules About Dancing

1. Unless you really like performing, you can ignore all that “Dancing with the Stars” nonsense. Dancing is for everyone. It is something you do WITH people, not AT them.

2. The whole point of dancing is to create moments of meaningful contact with other people. It has been said over and over again: “no one cares if you dance well. Just get up and dance.” It’s true. Better to get up and try than to sit there like a lump and refuse to participate. It is actually spelled out in dance manuals in the early 1800s, “If you are not inclined to dance, don’t come to the party.” (Notice how that contrasts with Mr. Darcy’s behavior at the ball where we first see him! He is in violation of the social code of the time, and Lizzie’s indignation is more than just her injured vanity.)

3. Stop agonizing over mistakes. Dancing is done in the moment. The music goes on, so the mistakes are almost immediately part of the past, not the present. When something goes wrong, shake it off with a smile or a laugh and let it go. (Unlike Mr. Collins, who makes his dancing worse by constantly apologizing for the last mistake – which contributes to him making another one!)

4. A smile for your partner is worth more than you can imagine. If you are a beginner, there is nothing wrong with admitting to your partner that you are new at this, and a smile makes partners much more charitable to you than a frown. If you have been dancing a long time, remember what it was like to be a beginner who needed some reassurance. Go out of your way to make new dancers feel welcome: they will become your favorite dance partners soon, if they keep coming back. They won’t come back if you scare them away with a frown.

5. If you are going to a dance (English Country Dance for Jane Austen-era dances), try to get to the class ahead of time. If you are a beginner, you will feel much more comfortable having a preview of the material. If you are not a beginner, it is a kindness to go to the class anyway. Beginners learn faster with more experience points on the dance floor. And even for experienced dancers, it can be good to learn what the local dialect is. (Yes, dances have local dialects!)

6. Wear appropriate shoes. This is for safety as well as comfort. The wrong shoes get in your way while trying to dance, and it is easy to injure yourself while trying to dance in a pair of gym shoes. If your foot stops but your knee or ankle doesn’t, it’s not going to go well. Dance shoes slide along the floor as you push your foot along it. But you also don’t want something too slippery. Sliding so much that you are out of control is a great way to slip and fall and injure yourself in a different way.

7. There are lots of kinds of dancing in the world. Again, “Dancing with the Stars” and Arthur Murray studios don’t even begin to touch on the great, wide dance universe. Irish dancing means you get to dance to that fabulous bouncy Irish music, with minimal physical contact with other dancers, just shaking hands. Salsa dancing, and bachata, and Brazilian Zouk, and blues has a lot more physical contact. The last two are kind of like very, very fancy prom dancing. Give your partner a hug (who doesn’t want to go hug people after two years of quarantine!), now stay there and do some dancing. Scottish and English Country dancing, and their American cousin, contradance (the dances from Jane Austen’s books) are figured dances. Some footwork required, but less complicated than Irish dancing. The focus is on the figures. A line of couples go through the figures of the dance, and you dance with several people in the course of one dance. Each dance is a new configuration of usually 4-6 figures. Then you find a new partner, form new lines, and start a new dance.

8. Leading and following are two mechanical parts of a whole, not a judgement. Our modern world is a weird place. I have heard and read many a biased commentary upon leading and following. Generally, the idea is that following is a subservient role. This prejudice is often embraced as truth, and I’m sorry, that’s a completely ignorant attitude. No one says a musician is subservient because they are following the conductor.

There are simply two skill sets in partner dancing. The lead makes suggestions, the follow interprets them. Historically, the expectation was that men lead and women follow. But watch an episode of American Bandstand in the 1950s: there are plenty of girls dancing together. One of them is leading, one is following. They can even decide to trade roles in the middle of the dance. (One of my lovely dance friends from Massachusetts and I will trade roles back and forth many times over the course of one dance! It’s heaps of fun. Of course, it helps that he and I are both perfectly comfortable with both leading and following – we’ve both been dance teachers for a long time.)

Following is not in the least a passive skill set. You don’t just hang on and let your partner drive. You have to have a good frame, good footwork, and think quickly. Every small gesture might be a signal to lead a move. It is like playing defense in basketball. You are anticipating signals and body language and comparing what information you have available against all the dance vocabulary in your head, and making a decision upon how you intend to respond. You are doing this every 6 or 8 beats of music.

Leading means listening to the music, listening to your partner’s responses, and also checking the list in your head of all known dance vocabulary and selecting which ones fit the occasion. But just because you’re driving the car right now doesn’t mean that you are master and commander and your partner’s only job is to obey. You are making suggestions, not orders, and you are constantly adapting to this partner’s responsiveness. Dance is a PARTNERship.

9. Be courteous. This can take all kinds of forms. Don’t talk while the teacher is trying to teach. The person you are talking to probably wants to hear what the teacher is saying. If you are swing dancing, don’t do aerials in a crowded room. Save that kind of showing off for performances. No one will be impressed with you when someone gets hurt. Watch for “wallflowers.” I don’t care what gender role you are following; even if you are at a Vintage dance dressed in a hoopskirt and trying to be historically accurate with ball cards (which were not used yet in the Regency era), if someone has sat out two dances, go over and ask for a dance. Or send your spouse/significant other over to go ask that person for a dance. As a Vintage dancer myself, I like to use the phrase, “Are you sitting out on purpose, or would you care for a dance partner?” because I am living in a world full of gentlemen who will dance with me, even if their feet hurt and what they REALLY want to do is sit this dance out. I like to give them an “out” if they want it. It’s part of being courteous.

10.All dance communities are not the same. There are great dance communities full of wonderful, people, who are great playmates, and your life will be richer for having them in your world. But I have seen many, many toxic dance groups. I have watched dance teachers insult their students, tear down their egos, and then slowly give a little bit of praise now and then, making their students eager for those little nuggets of approval. Those students can pay a fortune in dance lessons, just to earn those little bits of praise that eventually rebuild their ego. It’s horrifying. I always warn my dance students to watch out for those kinds of groups and teachers. You don’t need to take that kind of abuse. It’s NOT you, it’s them. Walk away. Find someplace else to go dancing.

The most important thing that matters is finding a dance community that meets YOUR needs. If you want to perform, find dance groups that perform. If you don’t want people watching you dance, you don’t need to be on a stage. If you go to a swing dance, or an English Country dance, no one is watching you dance. Everyone is busy dancing. The people sitting on the side? They are wishing they were on the dance floor but they don’t have a partner. If you are competitive, studio ballroom and Irish dancing has a lot of competitions. If you are NOT competitive (that’s me. I do not acknowledge that anyone out there has the right to judge dancing. Get off your butt and dance, jerk!), there is a ton of dancing that’s done for fun, not levels and medals.

Blurb

How much would you gamble for true love? Jane Fairfax dreaded her future as a governess. But genteel solitude seemed her fate. Then handsome, charming, rich Frank Churchill asked to marry her – IF his rich aunt agreed. If their secret engagement was discovered, Jane would be ruined. Frank seemed worth the risk; but the stakes got higher when the aunt refused her consent!

Excerpt

Mr. Churchill caught the end of one of the long ribbons from her bonnet, which were flying madly in the strong breeze. He toyed with it for a long while, then looked up into her eyes. “Do you believe in love at first sight?” he asked.

“No, I don’t suppose I do,” Jane answered. Her heart started beating harder. That was a lie. Maybe her breath was catching in her throat because she was lying: she fell in love with him the moment she saw him, rescuing the poor store clerk. Or maybe it was because he was standing so close to her, just on the other end of her bonnet ribbon. She felt her cheeks growing warm, and tried to talk herself out of blushing. He was not standing any closer to her than when they danced together, or sat on the same bench at the pianoforte. Why should it fluster her that he was wrapping the end of her bonnet ribbon around his fingers like that?

“Neither did I.” He tied a knot into the very end of the ribbon, then caught the other flying ribbon, and did the same to its end. “I thought love requires mutual respect and understanding, and complementary temperaments that can only be discovered with a judicious application of time and conversation.”

Jane hid her trembling hands inside her muff. She wished there was a way to hide the fact that she was trembling all over. “I understood you from the first moment I saw you,” she admitted, her voice little more than a whisper.

Author Bio and Links

Jeanette Watts has written three Jane Austen-inspired novels, two other works of historical fiction, stage melodramas, television commercials, and humorous essays for Kindle Vella.

When she is not writing, she is either dancing, sewing, or walking around in costume at a Renaissance festival talking in a funny accent and offering to find new ladies’ maids for everyone she finds in fashionably-ripped jeans.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Pinterest | Instagram | Amazon

Giveaway

Jeanette Watts will be awarding a crazy quilt tea cosy to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter during the tour. Find out more here.

Follow Jeanette on the rest of her Goddess Fish tour here.

10 Interesting Facts About My Protagonist – Chloe McIntyre

I’m happy to welcome back multi-published author Linda Bradley. Today, Linda shares ten interesting facts about the protagonist of her new release, Unbranded.

1. At the age of seven, Chloe McIntyre first appeared in my debut novel, Maggie’s Way. Chloe was a supporting character with a mission to make friends. She was also a supporting character in Maggie’s Fork in the Road, Maggie’s Montana, and A Montana Bound Christmas. In my new release—Unbranded, Chloe has grown into a determined young woman and is the star.

2. Chloe can ride and wrangler better than any hired hand.

3. Chloe would rather spend her life wrangling and ranching than being married and having a family.

4. Chloe was raised by her father and her grandfather on the family’s 617 ranch. Her relationship with her mother is rocky, and they rarely see each other. Chloe is everything Montana. Her mother is pure Hollywood. The two women spend more time trying to change each other than appreciating unique differences.

5. Chloe is like the Doctor Dolittle of her grandfather’s Montana ranch. There isn’t an animal that doesn’t love her.

6. Chloe is as close to the ranch foreman, Trout as she is to her father and grandfather. Their relationship consists of lively banter, honesty, and life lessons.

7. Chloe was not a strong reader growing up, but thanks to neighbor, Maggie Abernathy, now stepmom, Chloe loves reading and has developed an interest in poetry.

8. Chloe’s desire to be independent drives her ambition.

9. Chloe does not accept coming in second very well. Her box of childhood rodeo trophies is proof.

10. Chloe’s habit of taking in strays included taking in broken people. Despite her father’s request to limit the animals, Chloe’s heart does the talking when she meets an animal with purpose.

Blurb

Threatened by the unexpected, a devoted rancher refuses to compromise her ambition or her legacy.

CHLOE MCINTYRE is determined to become the co-CEO of her grandfather’s Montana ranch, but her father isn’t ready to become partners—yet.

Jaded memories of her parents’ shotgun wedding gone wrong cloud her attraction for best friend Matt Cooper when she discovers she’s pregnant—with his baby. Chloe believes raising a child isn’t in her genes, and she doesn’t expect a marriage proposal. She keeps her condition a secret to hold her position on the ranch and continue what she does best: wrangling strays and working alongside hired hands.

After her father announces his first choice for co-CEO, a wild ride jeopardizes the pregnancy, and Chloe questions life choices. Will the cowgirl grit she has inherited from her grandmother be enough to rein in her disappointment, or will she walk away from everything that could flourish into love?

Endorsement

“Linda Bradley’s magical manipulation of words creates a symphony in the reader’s mind, building lasting impressions to savor. If you love young women with grit and determination, then this is the story for you.” – Roni Hall, author of Montana Wild and Third Man on the Left

Buy Links

Amazon US | Amazon CA | Amazon UK | Amazon AU

Author Bio and Links

Linda’s inspiration comes from her favorite authors and life itself. Her character-driven stories integrate humor found in everyday situations, family drama, and forever love. Her distinct voice creates memorable journeys and emotion.

Linda’s been a finalist in the Booksellers Best Contest and Romance Reviews Readers’ Choice Awards. Linda lives in Michigan with her artist husband, sons, and rescue dog. Linda loves art, animals, and stories with hope and heart.

Website | Facebook Author Page | Book Bub | Amazon

More Artwork by Linda Bradley

A Unique Perspective on Camping

I’m happy to welcome back bestselling author Liz Flaherty. Today, Liz shares her perspective on camping and her new release, Life’s Too Short for White Walls.

Here’s Liz!

1. I don’t do it. But don’t think too much of that—I wish I did it. However, I’m at a time of my life that I want the hardest work I do on “off-duty” times to be deciding where we’re going to have dinner.

2. Camping creates the most beautiful memories. Decades after many camping weekends with my friend Shirley and her parents, I remember hayrides, firesides, cute boys, instant friends we walked campgrounds with, square dancers, and the most wonderful food.

3. Camping creates community. Shirley’s parents made and kept friends from among other campers. My daughter and son-in-law have done the same thing.

4. If you are camping in a tent a long way from restrooms, the first thing you will need to do when you lie down in your sleeping bag is go to the bathroom.

5. Campgrounds are fun to create for fiction titles. Believe me, everyone will want to go to Banjo Creek Cabins and Campground after they read Life’s Too Short for White Walls.

6. Glamping is a wonderful alternative to camping. Other than the fact that I think it would be a pain to haul or drive your house around with you, motor homes and travel trailers have lovely amenities to recommend them. I am frankly horrified at how much they cost, but then, I’m horrified by motel prices “in season,” too.

7. There is intimacy to camping. I’m a “heart on my sleeve” girl anyway, but sharing a campfire with girlfriends (and wine) must surely be one of the most therapeutic things in the world. My only experience with this is gathering around a fireplace at a writers’ retreat, but it was wonderful. Crickets in the background and a circle of lawn chairs would only make it better.

8. This may be a stretch, but I think a campfire creates a level playing field. Everyone smells like smoke. Designer jeans, sweatshirt, and windbreaker don’t look any better than the ones off the clearance rack at Walmart. If it’s rained—which it usually does while camping, doesn’t it? —everyone’s hair is frizzy and hastily applied lipstick looks the same whether it cost $25 or $3.99 a tube.

9. You don’t have to like hot dogs or marshmallows to like roasting them, nor do you have to like s’mores to enjoy squishing them together for a kid waiting anxiously for you to hand it to them.

10. The lyrics to Cole Porter’s “Don’t Fence Me In.” Yes, those. I was so surprised when the setting of Life’s Too Short for White Walls was a campground. It was intended to be Joss’s grandparents’ farm, but somewhere between her adolescence and her search for a safe place half a lifetime later, it became a campground owned by a retired helicopter pilot and college professor Ezra McIntire. I was also happy. I love their story. I hope you do, too.

Blurb

Still reeling from her divorce, Joss Murphy flees to Banjo Bend, Kentucky, where she’d been safe and happy as a child. The family farm is now a campground. Weary and discouraged, she talks owner Ezra McIntire into renting her a not-quite-ready cabin.

With PTSD keeping him company, Ez thrives on the seclusion of the campground. The redhead in Cabin Three adds suggestions to his improvement plans, urging color and vibrancy where there was none.

Neither is looking for love, yet the attraction they share is undeniable. Can the comfort of campfires, hayrides, and sweet kisses bring these two lost souls together?

Buy Links

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Apple Books

Author Bio and Links

Liz Flaherty is rather bewildered by where she’s at in life. She doesn’t feel…er…elderly, but the truth is that she is. The Magnificent Seven grands have grown up on her, her own kids are all now older than she is, and her husband Duane has the same firm hold on her heart he’s always had.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Newsletter Signup

Giveaway

Liz Flaherty will be awarding a $5 Amazon gift card to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter during the tour. Find out more here.

Virtual Book Tour: horse/man

I’m happy to welcome equestrian and author Julia Merritt. Today, Julia shares equine tips and her debut novel, horse/man.

1. Horses are wonderful creatures with far more intelligence and ability than they have been given credit for. There’s new research coming out every day that illuminates difference facets of their capabilities, and a growing number of equestrians who want to honour and work with horses as partners using their language and perspective.

2. Horses are a mirror of ourselves, and they will teach the humans that interact with them – whether the humans want to learn or not! If you become involved in horses, make sure you invest in some serious self-reflection. The journey is very rewarding.

3. There’s a discipline for everyone! Whether you prefer the adrenaline rush of galloping over fences cross-country, or having a quiet walk together, there are a multitude of option. You don’t even have to ride to be involved and find great joy in them.

4. There are many ways to participate as an athlete, and you don’t have to own a horse to do it. You can take lessons and book extra practice rides, lease a horse owned by someone else, or even find an arrangement to trade stable work for riding time.

5. Horses may seem like a thing of the past, but there are millions in North America, and there’s undoubtedly a community of horse people near you. If it’s not the discipline you like, they can probably refer you to the right people in the area.

6. The financial costs of being involved in horses are scalable to many levels of income. The glittery photos from the top levels of the sport may look intimidating, but there are many ways to contain the costs – and having to count our pennies is more common than you may think.

7. Horse people can be a little eccentric, often preferring animals to humans. If you find someone who’s unfriendly or bad at business, don’t let it spoil your whole experience of the sport. There are many people who are trying to make the sport more welcoming, so pay the crusty ones no mind and find someone who cares about new riders.

8. Equestrian sport is something that a person of any age or ability can do. Riders can be eighty years old, have a physical disability, be two years old, or anywhere in-between. Not every horse or stable can help every rider, but once you find the right match, it is a wonder. The horse equalizes and unites us.

9. Horses are livestock, not house pets. They have physical and mental needs that are very different from dogs and cats, and these must be respected. When people ignore those needs, the animals struggle.

10. Horses will captivate you. You can spend a lifetime learning about them. They will delight you and break your heart, but the effort is worth it.

Blurb

What happens when your entire identity revolves around a way of life that is becoming obsolete?

In the 1920s, as Canada progresses through the Industrial Revolution, horses are still the rural engines of survival. As a child Adam lives this reality on his family’s farm in the Ottawa Valley, planning to take over one day and have a family of his own. When his parents die during the Great Depression, nineteen-year-old Adam is disinherited in favour of his brother and is forced to move to the city to find work. Without a formal education his choices are few, yet he finds a place to use his horsemanship skills in the dwindling forces of the Canadian cavalry based near Montreal. There he finds pride in being a mounted soldier, and friendship with his fellow dragoons. But the cavalry units are mechanized by the beginning of World War Two, and when Adam is sent to Europe, he must abandon his equine partners for trucks and tanks. In the catastrophic experience of war, he will lose everything once again.

Broken in body and spirit, he returns to Canada where he must confront the question of survival in a world that doesn’t seem to have a place for an injured soldier. Full of poetic reflections on what it means to work with horses, horse/man is a powerful story about a man searching for dignity and connection in the face of a rapidly shifting world.

Excerpt

Adam got onto his knees for a better view, holding on to the side of the wagon.

The car revealed itself to be a shiny Model T. Perhaps the driver, like the horses, could not resist the lure of moving in the sunshine. Adam watched the car bump slowly over the ruts, advancing towards them. Grey smoke wisped behind it.

Ciaran slowed the team to a walk, and they could hear the engine, a hum that grew to a rumble. Pete and Jack jerked their heads as it got close, banging into each other.

“Go on, get up,” Ciaran growled. The horses’ ears twisted sideways and forwards, trying to decide between the driver or the instinct to flee. The wagon’s tongue rattled as their legs jostled.

The car driver slowed and lifted his hand as he passed the wagon. Ciaran raised his hand in response, the other clenched on the lines attached to Jack and Pete’s gaping mouths. When the car had gone safely by, he reached over, picked the buggy whip out of its holder, and smacked each rump with the corded lash.

“Go on, trot!” he commanded, loosening the lines. The team straightened out and carried on with their jobs. Adam stared at the receding vehicle, wrinkling his nose at the stench of the fumes.

Buy Links

Amazon US | Amazon CA | Indigo | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Smashwords

Author Bio and Links

Julia Merritt has been captivated by horses ever since she could see out of the car window. Then she grew up and became a public library CEO and certified animal bodyworker. She lives in Ontario, Canada, with her thoroughbred horses and smooth collie dogs. This is her first novel.

Connect with Julia Merritt:

Website | Facebook | Instagram | TikTok | Goodreads

We’re giving away 100 e-copies of horse/man, the new historical fiction novel by Julia Merritt. Don’t miss your chance to win! Click to enter here.

Giveaway

Julia Merritt will be awarding a $15 Amazon/Barnes & Noble gift card to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter during the tour. Find out more here.

Spotlight on Win Place Show

I’m happy to welcome Wild Rose Press author Liz Crowe. Today, Liz shares her new release, Win Place Show.

Tag Line

Win Place Show: All bets are on!

Blurb

Start with a perfect spring weekend full of pretty dresses, high heels, fancy hats, horse races, and bourbon.

Combine with a friends-from-childhood couple whose ongoing misunderstandings have led Lucy Granger to swear she’ll never move back home.

Mix in a splash of combined family pressure for Lucy and Nate Hawthorne to be The Golden Couple.

Pour over crushed ice and garnish with plenty of hot, secret hookups.

Win. Place. Show.

A funny sort of romance chock full of dressing up, mint juleps, an axe-throwing bar, and a huge winning bet at the big race.

Excerpt

Lucy dropped the phone to her side, wishing she could sleep another three hours to skip the whole still-a-tad-drunk part of the hangover. She had, indeed, made some poor choices the night before. Beginning with thinking she could slide back into easy, sexy time with Nate. She’d already more or less decided against it before he’d gotten there. But, of course, he’d shown up looking so flipping edible in a pair of dark jeans and a form-fitting purple polo with the Trifecta logo stitched where the little polo guy usually sat. Damn the man. He had no right to go around being so…hot.

He’d always been vain about his hair, something he’d discovered was a featured benefit about the same time he decided she no longer deserved his friendship. It was a wavy strawberry blond, cut just short enough so he didn’t have to use any products while it was full and tempting to female fingers. His eyes were so green, people accused him of wearing contacts to make them that way. Someone had obviously told him the trick about green eyes, that wearing purple made them even more striking.

“Some woman, I’m sure,” she said, lying flat on her back a few more seconds before hauling herself up and limping toward the shower.

Maintaining her anger at Nate was easy. She’d been ready to outright reject him. But when he’d shown up looking like some kind of a male model, turning every damn female head in the place, she’d stumbled. He was such a good dancer, not to mention a top notch kisser. So she’d gone with it, fueled by too much booze, ready to leap back into bed with him as if no time had passed since they last hooked up.

Thankfully, he’d given her an out by going all talkative. That was the last thing she wanted from him. So she’d walked away. And subsequently had a lot more to drink, hence her current condition, ergo she planned to lay blame for her pounding head and queasy stomach at his feet, too.

So there, Mr. Perfect.

The shower transformed her from being a woman with a hangover into a clean woman with a hangover and many regrets. She glared at her bloodshot eyes in the foggy mirror, hating herself for being here, in her stupid bathroom where she’d spent so many hours as a little girl and later a teenager, second guessing herself and her relationship with Nate.

She slapped on some rudimentary makeup, dried and styled her hair enough to pass her mother’s scrutiny, then stood in front of the dresses hanging in her closet. A line of matching shoes were on the floor beneath them. Several hatboxes stacked on the shelves to one side. The floral-patterned one made her headache worse, so she chose a light blue option, with a halter neckline, tight-fitting bodice and skirt. It was a beautiful choice, as they all were. One thing she could never accuse her mother of was shopping poorly.

She slid her feet into a pair of cream-colored high heels, then pondered the hats with a sigh. When they were little, she and Mimi loved this weekend more than any other. The opportunity to put on a pretty new dress, hat, and shoes had been the highlight of their year. The hours spent at the track over the course of Derby weekends were some of her best memories.

Buy/Read Links

Amazon | Universal Buy Link | Goodreads | ARC Sign Up

Author Bio and Links

Liz Crowe is a Kentucky native and graduate of the University of Louisville living in South Carolina. She’s spent her time as a three-continent expat trailing spouse, mom of three, real estate agent, brewery owner and bar manager, and is currently a digital marketing and fundraising consultant, in addition to being an award-winning author. With stories set in breweries, on the soccer pitch, inside fictional television stations and successful real estate offices, and even in exotic locales like Istanbul, Turkey, her books are compelling and told with a fresh voice. The Liz Crowe backlist has something for any reader seeking complex storylines with humor and complete casts of characters that will delight and linger in the imagination long after the book is finished.

Twitter | Facebook | Facebook Chat Room | Instagram | TikTok | BookBub | Amazon Author Page | Goodreads| Website | Newsletter & Free Book

Interview with Winona Kent

I’m happy to welcome back multi-published author Winona Kent. Today, Winona shares her creative journey and new release, Ticket to Ride.

Here’s Winona!

Q. What was your inspiration for this novel?

A. The idea actually came from Lost Time, the novel I wrote just before Ticket to Ride. Normally, my main character, Jason Davey, can be found at the Blue Devil Club in London’s Soho, where he has a permanent gig with his jazz combo. But in Lost Time, Jason has taken a leave of absence from his Blue Devil residency, and is rehearsing for a tour of England with his mum’s old folky-pop band, Figgis Green, while he solves the mystery of a young woman who went missing in the 1970s.

I had so many notes left over, and so much wonderful research that I hadn’t used, that I thought it would be a great idea to write a book about the actual tour. So in Ticket to Ride, Jason and the Figs are on the road. While they travel around England, Jason tries to get to the bottom of who his maternal grandfather really is—and at the same time deals with a series of seemingly-unrelated mishaps that eventually lead to a deadly encounter at a concert in Tunbridge Wells.

Q.Are any of your characters inspired by real people?

A. I actually originally created the character of Jason Davey about ten years ago in a standalone novel called Cold Play. Jason was working an entertainer on board a cruise ship in Alaska. My husband and I had taken a Holland America cruise that followed the same itinerary as the one in the novel, and we spent a lot of time in the lounge at the top of the ship. There was a guy performing there every night with his guitar—his name was David Alan Oates. My husband got into some great conversations with him. I decided to use David as the basic inspiration for Jason. A couple of years ago, my sister and I went on a short Princess Cruises repositioning cruise from Seattle to Vancouver. While we were sitting in the atrium on the ship, we were entertained by a very good guitar player. I did a double-take – it was David! I ran up to him and introduced myself and told him about how he’d been the inspiration for Jason—and, amazingly, he remembered my husband—without me even mentioning him.

I can also tell you that Figgis Green, Jason’s mother’s band in both Lost Time and Ticket to Ride, was inspired by a couple of real-life bands, the Seekers (from Australia), and Steeleye Span (from England).

Q. What’s the best part of being an author? The worst?

A. Honestly, being a writer has given me the opportunity to play at being someone who has far more courage and confidence than I do. I do have some things in common with Jason, but I could never do what he does to investigate the mysteries he’s presented with. I’m actually quite a timid person, and while I’m ok pursuing stuff by email or text, if I have to ask questions in person or on the phone, I tend to run away and hide. In fact, I almost have a phobia about talking on the phone. I’m not sure how it happened, but I suspect it has to do with my years working as a travel agent. Jason has no qualms about using whatever means he has at hand to contact people to get to the bottom of things—phone, public postings on social media, private messages, texting, and of course, straight face to face conversations. And I love exploring all those platforms. In Ticket to Ride, I brought back a character who I’d first created in Cold Play—Jilly, who is Jason’s self-appointed “guardian angel”. In Cold Play, she communicated with him via private messages on Twitter. In Ticket to Ride, she reappears on Instagram—much to Jason’s complete surprise.

The worst thing about being an author…to be honest, I don’t feel anything negative. I guess it’s because for most of my career, I’ve had to write in my spare time, in order to accommodate my full-time job. I retired in 2019 and finally became a full-time author, and I’m enjoying it so much, I wish I’d been able to do it earlier. But my financial situation would never allow it. If there’s anything negative about being an author, it’s probably the effect it has on my family. I tend to spend long hours immersed in research and correspondence and actual writing, and while it suits me perfectly, my husband and my sister sometimes find it annoying and frustrating that I’m so distracted.

Q. Describe your writing space.

A. It’s a little IKEA desk, just large enough for a laptop and a coffee cup. It sits next to my balcony window, which opens onto a wonderful little potted garden, complete with lavender, solar tiki lights, a hummingbird feeder (and hummingbirds), miniature gnomes, fairy lights, and little lighthouses which have lights which, at night, rotate just like real lighthouses. The balcony is seven storeys up in the air, and has an unimpeded vista view of the Fraser River, which is busy with marine traffic 24 hours a day. I should also add that I have a little glazed clay pot out there which contains some of my mother’s ashes. She died last May—and very soon afterwards, I started to be visited by those hummingbirds. It’s the most perfect writing space—and so inspiring.

Q. Besides writing and reading, what are some of your hobbies?

A. I have a few interesting hobbies. One of them is family tree research. I have a very mysterious great-grandfather whose birth record I can’t find and whose parentage is quite murky. I’ve done the DNA test and plunged into genealogy head-first. My Ticket to Ride hero, Jason Davey, shares that interest with me—and it actually figures quite importantly in the storyline. My other passionate interest is the London Underground–and more specifically, abandoned Underground stations. A few of my novels and short stories have included current and abandoned stations in their plots. And, finally, I knit. I’m almost ashamed to admit it. When I’m trying to work up my next storyline, or I’m stuck on a particularly tricky plot development, I resort to knitting tams and berets. I have quite a collection now, as you can imagine!

Q. What are you working on next?

A. I’m just starting to research and outline my next Jason Davey mystery, Bad Boy. It has a rather startling opening, involving The Shard in London. In fact, I’ve just got back from England. The original purpose of the trip was to scatter my mum’s ashes in her birthplace (she died in May 2021) but while I was there, I took the opportunity to conduct a lot of first-hand research—which included going up The Shard and taking part in a 4 ½ hour walking tour of Soho’s Musical Venues—Soho being where Jason works, in the Blue Devil jazz club. I also plan on taking Jason to Derbyshire, which is where some of my cousins live, in a lovely little village called Winster. I got some amazing ideas for the book on this trip, which will feature the return of one of my favourite all-time baddies, Arthur Braskey (from Notes on a Missing G-String).

Blurb

In Lost Time, professional musician / amateur sleuth Jason Davey was rehearsing for Figgis Green’s 50th Anniversary Tour of England. Now they’re on the road.

But when a fortune-teller in Sheffield warns them of impending danger, the band is suddenly plagued by a series of seemingly-unrelated mishaps.

After Jason is attacked and nearly killed in Cambridge, and a fire alarm results in a very personal theft from Mandy’s hotel room, it becomes clear they’re being targeted by someone with a serious grudge.

And when Figgis Green plays a gig at a private estate in Tunbridge Wells, that person finally makes their deadly intentions known.

Jason must rely on his instincts, his Instagram “guardian angel,” and a wartime ghost who might possibly share his DNA, in order to survive.

Ticket to Ride is the fourth book in Winona Kent’s mystery series featuring jazz musician-turned-amateur sleuth Jason Davey.

Buy Links

Amazon CA | Amazon US |
Amazon UK
| Barnes & Noble | Apple Books | Kobo

Social Media Links

Website | Figgis Green Tour Website | Blue Devil Books | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook

Spotlight on Lost Among the Stars by Vicky Burkholder

I’m happy to welcome Wild Rose Press author Vicky Burkholder. Today, Vicky shares her creative journey and new release, Lost Among the Stars.

Interview

What inspired the story?

That’s probably the hardest question to answer. I was just “what iffing” and went through the “what if you were really rich (I wish!) and everyone thinks you have everything going for you. What if you don’t? What if there’s a madman who wants what you have and will do anything—including killing—to get it? What if this all happens on a spaceship so there’s no escape? What if…? Like that. I do a lot of that kind of thinking when I’m working on a book.

In writing Lost Among the Stars, what was the most fun?

I’ll admit it, I’m a nerd. So the research on what makes a planet livable for humans was the most fun for me. I have a master’s degree in library science and absolutely love doing research. So much so that I often get lost in the world building. But… how far does it have to be from a sun? What are the climates like? The land forms? The animals? And so on. I love that stuff.

Are you working on other books in this series?

Yes, definitely. I have two more books to come in this series: “Searching Among the Stars” and “Found Among the Stars”

Did you ever have a character surprise you?

Yes. All the time. I think they’re going to do one thing and…there they go, off on some tangent I never had in mind. And it usually works out better.

Who is your favorite character and why?

It depends on the story I’m writing. In one of my books, “Revenge Among the Stars”, SAMI, the AI, was actually my favorite character because he’s so…human. He’s a computer with attitude. In another (a fantasy with dragons), Crumb is my favorite. In another book, it will be someone else. Each book has someone I love. Someone who will stick in my mind.

What was your funniest moment as an author?

Weird as it may sound, a vacation I took with my family to the ocean. I was in the middle of creating the world for another book and just couldn’t figure out the landscape, so, my kids and I sat on the beach and built a world out of sand, kind of like the guy in “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”. We built mountains and rivers, towns, everything. People looked at us kind of funny, but it all worked out. The kids and I had a ball and I got my world built. I took pictures of it all to take home before the tide washed it away.

What do you find more challenging about writing than you expected?

Two things: the actual writing and the promotions. I have a ton of stories in my head, but actually sitting down and putting them on paper is often a challenge. There are some days when the words just won’t come. When you stare at the blank screen and wonder what the heck you’re going to write that’s new and different and exciting. If you’re not careful, you can become jaded after a while. And then there’s promoting your books and yourself. For a strong introvert like me who doesn’t travel, this can be the hardest thing in the world to do. But it’s necessary.

Are you a pantser or a plotter?

A little of both. I don’t plot the entire story out, but I know where I’m starting and where it’s going and a little of what happens in the middle. It’s a very loose sort of plotting.

What time of day do you feel most creative?

Very early in the morning. I’m definitely a morning person—I’m usually up around five or five-thirty (with no alarm clock) and use that time before my husband is up to write and work. The dark hours before dawn are the best time of day for me. But don’t ask me to do anything after 9:30 p.m. Not going to happen. 😊

When you’re having a problem with a book, what do you do to solve it?

I have an amazing group of writing friends. We call ourselves the Boot Squad because we kick each other’s butts if we’re not getting the work done. Of the five of us, two are my best friends and I can turn to either one of them for brainstorming. They are my worst critics and my best supporters. I’d never be able do what I do without them.

Tagline

How do you escape death when you are lost in space and a killer is aboard your ship?

Blurb

Amanda Ki’s humanitarian trip to Xy-Three is fraught with assassins and saboteurs who are popping up faster than she can deal with them. Caught up in a web of intrigue, kidnapping, and terror, Mandy joins forces with the captain of the Phoenix, Declan Chalmers. Declan is tall, dark, handsome, and probably the most arrogant, dictatorial man she has ever met. He’s also one of the few people she can trust. Declan doesn’t know what to expect from the VIP who heads up a million-dollar enterprise, when she boards his ship. The tiny, exotic, and packed full of grit woman is not only drop dead gorgeous and smart, she’s also deadly when it comes to martial arts. A skill he wants on his side when the space craft is sabotaged. Thrown together, the two form a tight bond, but if they aren’t careful, they could end up dead.

Excerpt

Declan took in the woman sitting in front of him, from the long, coal-black hair held back with a tie, to the expensive, but practical jumpsuit. She was everything Declan disliked—a bureaucrat of the worst type—stubborn, fiery, and determined. Revising his earlier thoughts, she was neither old, nor wrinkled, but Dec wasn’t sure about the coddling yet. “There’s no need to thank me. You handled the situation exceedingly well. However,” his voice changed from silky smooth to one of warning, “in the future, please don’t give my crew any orders without checking with me first.”

Miss Ki stared at him. He could see the muscles in her jaw working. Fine, so she was angry. Dec wasn’t exactly happy with the way this trip was starting out either.

“I wasn’t aware I needed your permission to do my job. These people are my responsibility.”

“And this ship and her crew are mine. While you’re on my ship, you will follow my orders. Is that clear, Ms. Ki?”

Mandy stood, bracing her hands on the desk. “Like hell I will. You may be in charge of this ship, but I am in charge of this mission. Is that clear, Captain?” Without waiting for an answer, she stalked from the room.

Buy Links

The Wild Rose Press | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Google Books

Author Bio and Links

As her alter-ego, Vicky has multiple homes all over the universe. She looks human – for the most part – but when she starts writing about characters being able to move things or flicking fire from their fingertips, or changing the course of rivers, people tend to get a little freaked out. She found the one guy out there in the universe who loves her for who she is and they’ve been together forever and raised four wonderful (now) adults. Her career includes work as a technical writer/editor, a stringer for the local newspaper, and an editor and copy editor for various publishers. At various times in her life, she has been a teacher, a secretary, a short-order cook, a computer specialist, a DJ, and a librarian. When not editing or writing, she can be found in the kitchen creating gluten free goodies for her family.

Website | Amazon Author Page | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter | Bookbub

Blurb Blitz: Late for the Wedding

I’m happy to welcome back husband-and-wife team, M.K. Scott. Today, they share their new release, Late for the Wedding.

Blurb

The Senior Sleuths don’t mind a little peace now and then, but after a long bout of nothing out of the ordinary, they’re eager for some excitement.

No one could’ve imagined it would arrive with such a bang.

A mysterious explosion has rocked the assisted living community, disrupting life for everyone.

Despite the stern warnings from authorities, one of the Senior Sleuths can’t help but get involved. This is their home, after all.

Herman, always eager to root out the truth, ignores the warnings and hunts for answers. He’s convinced the explosion was a rouse to cover up something far more sinister. But the other seniors aren’t as eager to get involved. They’re focused on Marcy and Lance’s upcoming wedding.

Without his usual sidekicks, can Herman track down the bomber and a missing veteran who no one else remembers?

Excerpt

A loud boom erupted behind Herman, resulting in him jumping to his feet, placing a hand on his

“Keep going.” A sizable woman employee, garbed in a cartoon smock that hinted at a playful personality on better days, shouted as she pointed at a thin line of ornamental trees that served as a barrier between the center and the nearby neighborhood. “Head toward the Bradford Pear trees!”

The majority of residents complied without a peep, moving as fast as they could go. As children, they must have listened to their teachers and made their parents proud. Not all of the residents qualified as rule followers, however.

One slender woman with a still firm chin turned to address the shouting aide.

“Is this a drill?” Eunice’s shrill voice carried over the hubbub. “I hate these stupid fire drills.”

A continual beep, beep, beep of an alarm carried across the parking lot as doors opened on different wings emitting a steady parade of confused residents and agitated employees. A ladder fire truck’s brakes squealed as it made a hard right into the parking lot attracting attention. The exasperated aide in the cartoon smock, probably never guessing she’d be shepherding reluctant residents to safety when she woke this morning, pointed to the fire truck. Her harsh tone conveyed her tension. “Does this look like a drill?”

Eunice swung her attention from the woman to the dire track and back to the woman again. “It could be a trick question. A while back firefighters showed up for a grease fire. Another time, when a dryer caught on fire because the lint collector was full, they came, too.”

“Go on!” the woman shouted. “My job is to make sure you don’t burn up. It’s not going to happen if you keep asking questions.”

“Geesh!” Eunice huffed, then moved to where many other residents waited. The assisted living center’s residents, some in wheelchairs and a few taking a break on their walker seats waited along the edge of the property along with the uniformed staff. A few even broke into applause as the firefighters arrived, confident that whatever happened would be put right due to the efforts of the courageous first responders.

Author Bio

M. K. Scott is the husband and wife writing team behind the cozy mystery series, The Painted Lady Inn Mysteries, The Talking Dog Detective Agency, The Way Over the Hill Gang, and Cupid’s Catering Company.

Morgan K Wyatt is the general wordsmith, while her husband, Scott, is the grammar hammer and physics specialist. He uses his engineering skills to explain how fast a body falls when pushed over a cliff and various other felonious activities.

The Internet and experts in the field provide forensic information, while the recipes and B and B details require a more hands on approach. Morgan’s daughter, who manages a hotel, provides guest horror stories to fuel the plot lines. The couple’s dog, Jane, is the inspiration behind Jasper, Donna’s dog.

All the series are full of quirky characters, humorous shenanigans, along with the occasional murder.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Pinterest | Amazon

***The book will be on sale for $0.99 on the day of the tour.***

Amazon Buy Link: https://www.amazon.com/Late-Wedding-Over-Hill-Gang-ebook/dp/B09LTCHFY3/

Giveaway

MK Scott will be awarding a $40 Amazon or Barnes and Noble gift card to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter during the tour. Find out more here.

Follow MK Scott on the rest of their Goddess Fish tour here.

Blurb Blitz: The Flapper, the Scientist, and the Saboteur

I’m happy to welcome award-winning author Charlene Bell Dietz. Today, Charlene shares her novel, The Flapper, the Scientist, and the Saboteur.

Blurb

A workaholic bio-medical scientist, Beth Armstrong, is torn between saving her sabotaged ground-breaking multiple sclerosis research or honoring an obligation to care for her chain-smoking, Cuba Libre drinking, ex-flapper aunt. Nursemaid ranks just above catching the plague on Beth’s scale, yet her ex-flapper aunt would prefer anything deadly to losing her independence under the hands of her obsessive-compulsive niece. While a murderous culprit runs loose in the science institute, the raucous aunt entertains Beth’s neglected husband with nightly cocktails and stories form the Roaring twenties. The Flapper, the Scientist, and the Saboteur intertwines a corporate espionage mystery with a generational battle-of-wills story between a dedicated professional intent on fighting chaos to restore order and a free-spirited aunt who needs her niece to live in the moment.

Excerpt

“Are you making this up?” Harold frowned.

It sounded like something out of a movie, but Kathleen’s face told otherwise.

“I was still in my dance costume, so Max thought I could slip in unnoticed.” Kathleen grinned. “Now how fine was that? Two big-muscle men hide in the car while I go and get my brains blown out.”

“Did my grandparents know you were an entertainer?” Beth pictured herself with cropped hair, long pearls, and a life of pure fun. “My parents would have a cow.”

“I didn’t want to be in that neighborhood alone, day or night.” Kathleen spoke low.

“Why would your friends put you at risk?” Beth cringed. That sounded like her mother.

“They found a guy named Sullie to be my escort. But Max said we had to be careful because Sullie played both sides, which can get a person a ticket to the bottom of the river.”

Beth and Harold looked at each other, then burst out laughing.

“Child, what’s so funny?”

“Go on, we’ll be quiet—honest.”

“Sullie was waiting on the corner where they let me off. We sauntered along as if we were doing the town. We all agreed, if it was Sophie, we wouldn’t do anything, and Max insisted we leave right after her number. She wouldn’t be able to see us because of the stage lights.”

Beth could feel the cold night air, the rush of adrenaline.

Author Bio and Links

Charlene Bell Dietz writes science and historical-suspense, award-winning mystery novels and short stories. Her award-winning short stories have been published in the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers 2016 Anthology and SouthWest Writers 2019 Anthology. The Flapper, the Scientist, and the Saboteur combines family saga with corporate espionage. The Flapper, the Impostor, and the Stalker propels readers back into 1923 frenetic Chicago during the Roaring Twenties. Both these novels were named to Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books of 2018, and each won the coveted Kirkus Starred Review. Her latest novel, The Scientist, the Psychic, and the Nut, gives readers a frightening Caribbean vacation. Her current work in progress, a biographical historical novel, starts in England in 1638 and ends in precolonial Maryland. Charlene, a retired educator, traveled the United States as a consultant for Houghton Mifflin Publishers after a career of teaching little ones, older ones, and college graduates. Surrounded by forests and meadows, she currently lives in the foothills of the mountains in central NM several miles from the small village of Torreon. Charlene is the current president of Croak & Dagger, New Mexico Chapter of Sisters in Crime. She belongs to Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, Rocky Mountain Mystery Writers, Mystery Writers of America, and SouthWest Writers.

Facebook | Website | Buy Link

Giveaway

Charlene Bell Dietz will be awarding a $25 Amazon/Barnes & Noble gift card to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter during the tour. Find out more here.

Follow Charlene on the rest of her Goddess Fish tour here.