10 Things I Never Expected to Like So Much

I’m happy to welcome Wild Rose Press author Karen Guzman. Today, Karen shares an eclectic list of unexpected likes and her new release, Arborview.

Here’s Karen!

It’s funny sometimes how we think we know our tastes, our likes and dislikes, what we’ll go for and what we won’t. In the spirit of disclosure—and self-discovery—here’s an eclectic, random list of stuff I’ve stumbled across and, to my surprise, really enjoyed.

The lesson: Give it a shot. You never know.

1. Economic theory – Not something I waded into during my MFA program, but my day job now is a writer for a graduate business school. I’ve learned so much about the way markets work, and why we’re in the mess we’re in.

2. Edamame beans – versatile, delicious, and so healthy. Who knew?

3. The Showtime series Billions – a guilty pleasure. Depraved, greedy egotists trying to outdo each other via over-the-top plot twists, but smart writing and great acting make it a hoot.

4. Microgreens – These looked like the weeds in my lawn when my husband I first saw them at our local CSA farm. Now we show up early before they sell out. Crunchy, cool, a hint of spice. Take any salad to a new level.

5. Hard Seltzer – fruity flavors, just a hint of alcohol and totally refreshing.

6. The Revenant movie – Heard it was violent and wasn’t interested in watching Leonardo DiCaprio fight a bear. In reality: a deeply spiritual tour de force with amazing performances. One of my favorite films.

7. The California desert — I’m not one for heat, so I was skeptical when we visited my mother-in-law in Palm Springs the first time. Now, wow. The vastness, the barren brown hills, the startling green of a hidden oasis, the solemn stark beauty of Joshua Tree National Park. Amazing landscape.

8. Snowshoeing – I’m a hiker, but I was skeptical about strapping these onto my boots. Now I love crunching over the surface of freshly fallen snow.

9. Local talk radio – for old cranks, right? Wrong! Informative—and often entertaining—listening to people you know hash out the issues of the day.

10. Cutting the lawn. Okay, this is a weird one. I think it’s the instant gratification. The lawn is an out-of-control mess. A little work later, and the yard is transformed.


When the recipe for a new life is bittersweet…

Ellen Cahill’s financial future rides on the success of her new pastry shop. A bruising divorce has drained her bank account, along with her spirit. A man enters her life promising love, but Ellen, haunted by the past, questions whether she can pull off this new beginning.

College student Rosa Escamilla has her own culinary dreams—and a difficult mother who’s dead set against them. Rosa won’t be deterred. She scrapes up the money to enroll at a prestigious culinary school, setting out to prove everyone wrong.

When hidden betrayals by the people they love most surface for both Ellen and Rosa, can they overcome the blows they never saw coming on the road to where they want to go?


The light was dying in Arborview. Ellen had to get going, but she wasn’t ready. Descending the ladder meant reentering her life. The time she spent here, suspended among the branches, did not banish the uncertainty that crept back when her feet hit the ground, but it did give her reprieve.

The stillness, the silence, slowed her mind. Be still and know that I am God. She used to love that old Psalm. This must have been what it meant. Her thoughts unraveled in Arborview, exposed in a cool, piercing light, a calm glow giving her hope.

It had been a week since she’d heard from Alice, and the memory of her guilty laundry-room face lingered. Perhaps Ellen had been too harsh, too judgmental. That was a big thing today, wasn’t it? Judging. Nothing was supposed to be off limits, nothing truly wrong, or shameful. Ellen had broken down and left a voicemail, but Alice had not returned the call.

The warm impression William had left in her bed, the faint whiff of his cologne on the pillows, had stayed with Ellen, too. He was coming to take her to dinner in an hour.

William had struck a chord with his pastry shop idea. It had taken root and grown all week within Ellen, its tendrils reaching into her heart. She could see it: a little storefront place, a jingling bell on the door, cakes and pies in the window, a soft wash of light on the gleaming display cases inside.

Buy Links

Amazon | Barnes and Noble

Author Bio and Links

Karen Guzman is a fiction writer and essayist. Her new novel, Arborview, will be published on September 29 by The Wild Rose Press. Her debut, Homing Instincts, was published by Fiction Attic Press in 2014. Karen’s short fiction has appeared in a number of literary magazines, and her story collection, Pilgrims, was a finalist for the St. Lawrence Book Award.

Karen is a regular contributor to the Collegeville Institute’s Bearings Online magazine. She is the recipient of a 2021 writing fellowship at the Collegeville Institute.

You can find Karen’s books on Amazon, and learn more about her work at https://www.karenguzman.com.

Website | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook | Amazon | Write Despite

Happy October!

This month’s name came from the Latin octo (meaning eight) because this was the eighth month of the early Roman calendar. When the Romans converted to a twelve-month calendar, they didn’t change the name, even though it’s now the tenth month of the year.

In Canada, we celebrate Thanksgiving on the second Monday of the month while Hallowe’en is celebrated on October 31st.

Here are 10 interesting facts about October:

1. On October 12, 1492, Christopher Columbus arrived in the Americas.

2. October babies are more likely see their 100th birthday than those born in other months. One theory: These babies were less exposed to seasonal illnesses since they avoided the extreme high and low temperatures of summer and winter.

3. People born between October 1st and October 22nd were born under the star sign of Libra while those born later in the month are under Scorpio. Compassionate and empathetic, Libras dislike conflict and avoid confrontations. Scorpios can be intimidating, but they are also the most loyal friends.

4. More American presidents were born in October than any other month.

5. A busy month for food lovers, October has been designated the national month for pizza, cookies, sausages, popcorn, and dessert.

6. October has also been designated as Italian American Heritage Month, Polish American Heritage Month, Breast Cancer Month, Healthy Lungs Month, Country Music Month, National Book Fair Month, and National Roller Skating Month.

7. Tourmaline and opal are the official birthstones of October.

8. October’s birth flowers are the cosmos and the calendula.

9. October is a big mating season for elk, white-tailed deer, moose, and porcupines.

10. A poem for October:

October glows on every cheek,
October shines in every eye,
While up the hill and down the dale,
Her crimson banners fly.
Elaine Goodale Eastman

Virtual Book Tour: Something Lost

I’m happy to welcome bestselling author Bernadette Marie. Today, Bernadette shares life lessons learned from her martial arts training and her new release, Something Lost.

10 Life Lessons I Have Learned from My Martial Arts Training

10. Lifelong friendships are forged through shared experiences.

9. Your body can accomplish amazing things when you push a little harder, especially through doubt.

8. Discipline is a key factor in your success.

7. Failure is a teaching tool.

6. Respect should be earned not demanded.

5. Muscle memory is an amazing thing.

4. Hitting someone is powerful.

3. Getting hit is powerful.

2. You can do anything at any age (even if it has to be modified.)

1. You can overcome anything.


Saying goodbye is sometimes the beginning.

Craig Turner was Coach Diaz’s star player, back in the day. He was held in high regard, until he broke the rules and dated the coach’s daughter. Young and stupid, his affection for her lasted until graduation, and then it was time to face the real world–but his love for her would never leave him.

Rachel Diaz became who her father wanted her to be, a well educated, well traveled, successful woman, but she holds a well full of secrets from the outside world. As a high school therapist, she uses her past traumas to help others overcome their own.

When the Fabulous Five arrive at Coach Diaz’s funeral, to pay their respects, a rekindling happens between them all—and between Craig and Rachel.

Is Rachel woman enough to face her demons and is Craig man enough to accept them? Or will their encounter be as brief as the affair they had a decade ago, behind her father’s back?


“Dr. Olivia Chasen,” Santa’s jolly baritone popped her mental fuzzy bubble.

She stopped as she struggled to whirl around. “Me?” She touched her chest with a dramatic flourish she didn’t know she possessed.

A powerful spotlight illuminated her; its heat burned her already flushed face.

She pressed a clammy palm to her chest. “How do you know my name?” The haze in her mind was paralyzing all cognitive function.

“My dear girl,” Santa chuckled, “you should know by now that Santa knows everything and everyone,” he tapped an index finger to his temple.

Santa Claus turned to address the waiting line. “Girls, Boys, Moms, Dads, everyone, if you don’t mind waiting for a brief moment, I’d like for Olivia,” he pointed a white gloved finger at her, “to please come up here on stage, and tell me what she wants for Christmas.”

She stood dumbfounded as the audience and the people in line clapped and chanted her name, “Olivia! Olivia! Olivia!”

Oh no! What was she going to do? She couldn’t possibly go up onto that stage. She was far too shy to address a theater full of people.

But if she didn’t go that would be so unexciting and so like the old Olivia.

But she wasn’t unexciting! She was the new Olivia, and she was exciting! And she wanted to have fun! Correction: She was determined to have fun. Besides, she’d never see these people—her fellow passengers—ever again.

Author Bio and Links

Bestselling Author Bernadette Marie is known for building families readers want to be part of. Her series The Keller Family has graced bestseller charts since its release in 2011. Since then, she has authored and published over thirty-five books. The married mother of five sons promises romances with a Happily Ever After always…and says she can write it because she lives it.

Obsessed with the art of writing and the business of publishing, chronic entrepreneur Bernadette Marie established her own publishing house, 5 Prince Publishing, in 2011 to bring her own work to market as well as offer an opportunity for fresh voices in fiction to find a home as well.

When not immersed in the writing/publishing world, Bernadette Marie and her husband are shuffling their five hockey playing boys around town to practices and games as well as running their family business. She is a lover of a good stout craft beer and might have an unhealthy addiction to chocolate.

Amazon | Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest | Email


Bernadette Marie 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 Bernadette on the rest of her Goddess Fish tour here.

Happy National Live Creative Day!

Today is National Live Creative Day, a day set aside to dream, discover, and invent. Consider resurrecting an old hobby, participating in a favorite pastime, or exploring a new passion.

If you’re feeling stuck, here are ten quotes to spark your imagination:

“You can’t use up creativity. The more you use the more you have.”
Maya Angelou

“What keeps life fascinating is the constant creativity of the soul.”
Deepak Chopra

“Creativity is intelligence having fun.” Albert Einstein

“Creativity requires the courage to let go of certainties.” Erich Fromm

“Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while.” Steve Jobs

“The creative adult is the child who survived.” Ursula Leguin

“You can’t wait for inspiration, you have to go after it with a club.” Jack London

“There is a fountain of youth: it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of people you love. When you learn to tap this source, you will truly have defeated age.” Sophia Loren

“Others have seen what is and asked why. I have seen what could be and asked why not.” Pablo Picasso

“The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.” Sylvia Plath

10 Favorite Books from Linda Griffin’s Bookshelves

I’m happy to welcome Wild Rose Press author Linda Griffin. Today, Linda shares her favorite books and new release, Love, Death, and the Art of Cooking.

Here’s Linda!

Thank you for having me, Joanne! I don’t know what these choices say about me and my work, but here are my 10 Favorite Books:

1. Fun with Dick and Jane by William S. Gray. That might sound like a joke, but I dedicated The Rebound Effect to “Dick and Jane, who first ignited my passion for the printed word.” It represents the miracle of learning to read, and I read it out loud to everyone in the house, including two captive kittens, one under each arm, and then I read it backward! As soon as I figured out somebody had to create those words, I knew I wanted to be a “book maker” when I grew up.

2. Half Magic by Edward Eager. I read this so many times as a child that I can still recite the first several pages. Four children acquire a magic coin that gives them half of anything they wish for, with adventurous and humorous results.

3. Karen by Marie Killilea. Marie was a founder of the Cerebral Palsy Association, and Karen was her daughter. I first read it when I was too young to understand all the words—I remember that decade and articulation threw me—but Karen was my hero. I’ve read it many times since and know the ending by heart. Karen’s story is cited in my story “All the Bells and Whistles,” published in Toasted Cheese in June 2021.

4. Ever After by Elswyth Thane. It’s part of her Williamsburg series, but was my particular favorite. The hero, Bracken Murray, was my ideal man through high school and college. He’s a journalist and his work takes him to many places, including up San Juan Hill in 1898. He’s also in love with young Dinah Campion, and the course of true love never did run smooth. There are probably traces of him in all of my books’ leading men.

5. Five Smooth Stones by Ann Fairbairn. This was my favorite when I was in college, an interracial love story set during the Civil Rights Movement of the sixties. It “raised my consciousness” as we called it then, and maybe it influenced my own interracial romance, Guilty Knowledge, although they’re very different.

6. A History of God by Karen Armstrong. The focus is on the three major monotheistic religions, but the book delves into other religions as well, and traces the development of man’s ideas about God as they changed over the centuries. Armstrong is uniquely qualified as a religious scholar, and she’s written a beautiful book.

7. A Stolen Life by Jaycee Dugard. I think this book gave me PTSD the first time I read it, but I keep going back to it. It’s raw and messy and harrowing, but her strength and courage shine through. Reading it led me to similar memoirs, such as Hope by Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus and 3,096 Days by Natasha Kampusch, and to the writing of several captivity stories of my own. One of them, “Rumpelstiltskin,” was published in Eclectica, April/May 2018.

8. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain. If everyone, introverts and extroverts alike, would read this, we would all understand ourselves and each other much better. Cain examines every aspect of the subject in fascinating detail, including how we can accommodate our differences at work and in relationships.

9. A Call to Action by Jimmy Carter. Not a political text at all, but a carefully researched and insightful work about the treatment of women all over the world. He points out how entitled white males of every religion have distorted sacred texts in order to oppress women, and how costly the denial of women’s rights is to the world.

10. Hunger by Roxane Gay. A searingly honest memoir by a talented writer who struggles with a traumatic past and fat shaming. I’ve loved everything I’ve ever read by her, but this one can give you a whole new perspective.


She wants to be friends. And he wants so much more.

Software engineer Reid Lucas loves to cook and has a history of falling in love with married women. When he leaves his complicated past in Chicago for a job in California, he runs into trouble and must call a virtual stranger to bail him out of jail. Alyssa Knight, a tough street cop waiting for a church annulment from her passive-aggressive husband, is the roommate of the woman Reid calls for help, and she reluctantly provides bail for Reid. He falls for her immediately, and cooking for her is an act of love. She just wants to be friends, but they keep ending up in bed together. When his boss is murdered, Reid is a suspect—or is he the intended target?


Alyssa gave him a smile that suggested she wasn’t fooled. She was knowing and affectionate and so pretty he couldn’t resist her. He put a hand on her knee and leaned in to kiss her. Her mouth was soft and willing, and he put down the coffee cup and took her face in both hands.

After a long, intense interval of suspended time, she pulled away and rested her forehead against his. “Oh, Reid,” she said—half disapproval, half sighing acquiescence. He stroked her breast, and her breathing quickened, and he slid a hand over her nylon-clad knee and under her skirt to find bare thigh. “Don’t,” she said.

He paused but didn’t withdraw his hand. “Is that no?” he asked.

She sighed. “Not yet,” she said, but she was warning him too, not to go too far, beyond the point of no return. Only it was hard to know where that was.

Author Bio and Links

I was born and raised in San Diego, California, and although I love to travel, I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. I retired as fiction librarian for the San Diego Public Library to spend more time on my writing and have had stories of every length and various genres published in numerous journals. Love, Death, and the Art of Cooking is my fourth romantic suspense novel from The Wild Rose Press, after Guilty Knowledge (2020), The Rebound Effect (2019), and Seventeen Days (2018). In addition to the three Rs—reading, writing, and research, I enjoy Scrabble, movies, and visiting museums and art galleries.

You can find me here:

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And some of Reid’s recipes can be found here.

10 Excellent Tips from Chuck Wendig

On Wednesdays, I share posts, fables, songs, poems, quotations, TEDx Talks, cartoons, and books that have inspired and motivated me on my writing journey. I hope these posts will give writers, artists, and other creatives a mid-week boost.

In his informative guide, Damn Fine Story, New York Times best-selling author Chuck Wendig shares 50 storytelling tips in the Appendix. Here are ten excellent tips about character development:

1. Characters are not role models, and stories are not lectures.

2. We care about characters we understand, so it’s your job to make us understand your characters.

3. Characters must earn their victories.

4. Characters also earn their failures and losses.

5. If your characters are getting in the way of your plot, good. Let them. They are the plot. They are the subject, so let the tale unfold in their wake, not in their absence.

6. Likeability is less important a factor in your characters than relatability. It’s not about wanting to sit down and have a beer with them; it’s about being able to live with them for the breadth of a whole novel. Forget liking them, but do remember that we have to live with them. If all else fails: Just make them interesting.

7. Characters must make mistakes. But they cannot only make mistakes. They must have triumphs, too. A story isn’t an endless array of failure and disaster—we must have some sense of success to understand why success must, above all else (and against all odds), not be lost. Further, characters who only make mistakes become intolerable to us. We start to actively root for their failure if we cannot see in them the potential for success.

8. The best villains are the ones we adore despite how much we hate and fear them. We should adore them, and we should understand them.

9. Characters don’t know what the plot is. So don’t ever expect them to follow it. We can feel when characters are forced from their own program because authors are overwriting them with the Plot Program. It feels gross. Characters only know what they want and what they’re willing to do or lose to get it.

10. Characters are more interesting when they are smart and capable instead of dumb and pliable.

Source: Damn Fine Story pp. 218-225.

Happy National Book Lovers Day!

This is a day for bibliophiles (and wannabe bibliophiles) to find their favorite reading places, a good book, and time to read the day away.

*Bibliophile – A person who collects or loves books.

Here are ten ways to celebrate:

1. Visit your local library and browse through the latest bestsellers and beloved classics. Take some time to check out the bulletin boards and pick up any pamphlets. Libraries have become hubs of activity, offering everything from author readings to craft sessions to technology workshops.

2. Support your local indie bookstore. Introduce yourself to the owner and connect with fellow bibliophiles.

3. Celebrate your favorite authors. You can follow them on Twitter, join their Facebook group, or snap pictures of their latest releases for Instagram.

4. Spend the day with an audiobook. You can purchase your own through Audible or borrow one from the local library.

5. Start a blog, booktube channel, or bookstagram.

6. Organize your bookshelves. As you tidy up, cull those books that no longer speak to you. You can “gift” them to friends, donate them to a Little Free Library in your area, or drop them off at a second-hand store.

7. Write a review. A few sentences on Amazon or Goodreads will suffice. Share what you loved, what you didn’t love, and what inspired you.

8. Invest in an eReader. Physical books take up a lot of space and aren’t too convenient when traveling. Also, ebooks are often half the price of a physical novel.

9. Participate in a virtual event. During the pandemic, authors and publishers organized online interviews, panels, and in-depth discussions. Visit your favorite author’s website for more details.

10. Use #NationalBookLoversDay to spread the news on social media. Here are four quotations you can share:

“When I look back, I am so impressed again with the life-giving power of literature. If I were a young person today, trying to gain a sense of myself in the world, I would do that again by reading, just as I did when I was young.”
Maya Angelou

“Some books leave us free and some books make us free.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Libraries will get you through times of no money better than money will get you through times of no libraries.” Anne Herbert

“There are many little ways to enlarge your child’s world. Love of books is the best of all.” Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis

Happy National All or Nothing Day!

Celebrate this day by throwing caution to the wind and going for broke.

Think of one goal you would like to accomplish but feel fearful or hesitant to do so. It could be writing a novel, running a marathon, eschewing sugar, improving your technology skills, learning a new craft, decluttering your home…

Decide to make the necessary changes and then take that first small step.

Here are ten quotations to inspire you:

Even the greatest was once a beginner. Don’t be afraid to take that first step. Mohammed Ali

The most effective way to do it, is to do it. Amelia Earhart

How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world. Anne Frank

Well done is better than well said. Benjamin Franklin

Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

I didn’t get there by wishing for it or hoping for it, but by working for it.
Estée Lauder

Small deeds done are better than great deeds planned. Peter Marshall

The secret of getting ahead is getting started. Mark Twain

The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. Lao Tzu

You don’t have to be great to start, but you do have to start to be great. Zig Ziglar

Visiting Egypt and Sudan with Caroline Warfield

I’m happy to welcome back award-winning author Caroline Warfield. Today, shares interesting facts about the setting of her new release, The Price of Glory.

Here’s Caroline!

I am an avid traveler, and the places I visit often turn up as settings for my novels. The Price of Glory, my newest work which will launch on July 7, is set in Egypt and Nubia, what is now northern Sudan. I have, alas, visited neither one. This time I had to rely on my imagination. I’m left with a longing to go there. Here is my list of ten things I wish I could see or experience that appear in the novel:

1.The Karnak Temple complex near Luxor, particularly the Great Hypostyle Hall that awed my hero. I also want to see the obelisk of Queen Hatshepsut. My hero reads the inscription to the heroine. By moonlight. That would be perfect, but I’ll settle for daytime.

2. Dahabiyas, traditional Egyptian sailing boats, with their graceful triangular sails, on the Nile. They come in many sizes, and I fell in love with paintings and photos. I would love to travel from Cairo to Khartoum on one, but I think maybe that is no longer possible.

3. The ruined pyramids at Meroë at sunrise, possibly from a tourist camp.

4. The place where the Blue Nile meets the White.

5. The rock-cut temples of Abu Simbel, even though they have been relocated due to the building of the Aswan Dam. They are now part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site called the Nubian Monuments along with the Temple of Isis at Philae. My hero laments the damage being done by Western pillaging. It is good do know this treasure was saved.

6. Cairo’s souk, Khan el-Khalili. It is no doubt a tourist trap today, but then, it probably was bit of one in 1839 when my hero scoured the back lanes looking for genuine artifacts, particularly anything from Meroë.

7. The camel market at Khartoum. The book includes a flight across the desert with a camel caravan. I’m not so sure I want to try that.

8. A fishing village along the Red Sea.

9. The historic Islamic quarter of Cairo. It is always hard to picture how a place looked 180 years ago, but I would give it a try.

10. Shepheard’s Hotel des Anglais in Cairo. Alas it is gone. It burned down during anti-British riots in 1952 after 120 years of catering to Western adventurers.

I might find time for the great pyramids and the sphinx, but I suspect a view from a distance would suit me fine. I have a weakness for museums, however, so I am certain that, if I’m ever so fortunate as to make this trip, I would spend hours in the as yet unopened Grand Egyptian Museum (also called the Giza Museum). Delayed by Covid and other challenges it will be the largest archaeological museum in the world when open. I won’t miss the National Museum of Sudan either. It houses a comprehensive Nubian archaeological collection, including artifacts from Meroë.

About the Book

The Price of Glory tells the story of one man’s pursuit of knowledge that will bring him fame and respect, only to find it upended by a woman determined to serve the people of Egypt. Neither has any idea where this journey will take them when they embark down the Nile toward Nubia and its mysteries, ancient and modern.

Richard Mallet comes to Egypt with dreams of academic glory. He will be the one to unravel the secrets of the ancient Kushite language. Armed with license to dig, he sets out for Meroë, where the Blue Nile meets the White. He has no room in his life for dalliance or entanglements, and he certainly doesn’t expect to face insurrection and unrest.

Analiese Cloutier seeks no glory—only the eradication of disease among the Egyptian women and children of Khartoum. She has no interest whatsoever in romantic nonsense and will not allow notions about a lady’s proper role to interfere with her work. She doesn’t expect to have that work manipulated for political purposes.

Neither expects to be enchanted by the amorous power of moonlight in the ruins of Karnak, or to be forced to marry before they can escape revolution. Will their flight north take them safely to Cairo? If it does, can they build something real out of their shattered dreams?

***Available on Kindle Unlimited or for purchase here***

About the Author

Award winning author Caroline Warfield has been many things: traveler, librarian, poet, raiser of children, bird watcher, Internet and Web services manager, conference speaker, indexer, tech writer, genealogist—even a nun. She reckons she is on at least her third act, happily working in an office surrounded by windows where she lets her characters lead her to adventures in England and the far-flung corners of the British Empire. She nudges them to explore the riskiest territory of all, the human heart.

Where to find Caroline…

Website | Facebook | Newsletter | Goodreads | BookBub

Spotlight on Guns & Smoke

I’m happy to welcome authors Lauren Sevier and A. Smith. Today, they share interesting tidbits about The Fool’s Adventure World and their new release,
Guns & Smoke.

10 Interesting Things About The Fool’s Adventure World

1. The Fool’s Adventure series takes place in a dystopian America. The Culling, a nuclear holocaust, devastated every major country in the world. When the first bombs dropped on the United States Congress and the White House, a wave of nuclear bombs were dropped all over the world. While Guns & Smoke takes place in what remains of the American southwest, there are many, many places that we intend to explore in this world in this series and others.

2. After the Culling, social issues such as racial discrimination and sexual orientation were no longer as important. When the key focus of a population is surviving, everything else just sort of falls to the wayside. It was incredibly important to us to show the diversity of The Fool’s Adventure world from all sides. We live in a diverse world. It doesn’t make sense to not have characters who are people of color or characters that are a part of the LGBTQ+ community. It’s even more normal in this world than it is in modern America.

3. A lot of things we consider normal are hot commodities in The Fool’s Adventure world. Because of the changing climate as a result of the nuclear bombs, coffee beans only grow in the humid climates of the Borderlands. Chocolate is something only the very rich can afford. Forget about having new clothes or fresh, organic food. Typically, you take what you can get and you’re happy with it, because it means another day of surviving instead of starving in the street.

4. Gangs reign supreme. When the government was destroyed and no one else stepped up to seize power, small factions of men and women came together to take control. Some of the more popular gangs are The Hanged Men, The Crimson Fist, and The Black Judges. Others don’t have official names, but utilize symbols to strike fear in the hearts of men.

5. Across the country, in the places that the nuclear bombs dropped, people began seeing strange creatures appear from within the crater sites. Some claim to have seen giant gator-dogs, great, snapping-lion-turtles or panther-scorpions. Our main characters in Guns & Smoke may even have a run in with one of their own crater beasts.

6. Glowroot is a nasty, spiny little plant that grows inside the crater sites beyond the fences. When it’s distilled, it has a faint phosphorescent glow and stains your lips blue. It is highly addictive, and one can find glowroot dens in their favorite cities.

7. There are eight rules to being an Outlaw:

○ Don’t fall in love.
○ Never go anywhere without telling your crew.
○ Keep your word. Outlaws may steal, lie, and cheat. But if you make a promise, you keep it.
○ Where there’s danger, listen to your commanding officer.
○ Never overstay your welcome.
○ Pay your debts.
○ No one gets left behind.
○ Know your weapons. If it’s supposed to keep you alive, you should know it inside and out.

8. Due to radiation, people who survived the Culling or have been affected by the radiation have suffered from physical deformities. They’re considered undesirable by the general population. It is rumored that they spread disease or bring trouble wherever they go. This could be, in large part, because they struggle for basic resources to survive, that they have had to possibly still or kill for basic necessities.

9. The fringes are those places around the edges. Burned out towns, small cities that never recovered after the Culling, where no one except for the undesirables or fugitives would live. It’s a hard place where resources are scarce. It’s even more “kill or be killed” here than the rest of the world. Usually marked with a white ‘X’ so that travelers know that it’s unsafe and to stay away.

10. Paper money lost all its meaning after the Culling. After plundering cities, homes, and other places for precious metals, a new system took place. Those metals were melted down and shaped into bits. There are brass, copper, silver, and gold. Gold bits are incredibly rare and worth a lot of money. Along with bits, they also utilize the barter system, and negotiate for things that can be traded instead of paid for.


Today is Lauren Sevier’s Birthday!!!!! She’s a brilliant co-author and friend and we want to wish her a great next year.


In a world where safety is a luxury and honor is found only among outlaws, two people attempt to outrun danger lurking around each corner and the tragedies that define them.

Bonnie is an outlaw on the run. Beautiful but dangerous; her dark past stalks her like the crater beasts that roam the desert. As the notoriously cruel outlaw Jones sends his henchmen to track her down and retrieve the gun she stole from him, Bonnie hopes she can stay one step ahead. Because if he catches her, a fate worse than death awaits.

Jesse always dreamed of leaving the farm to explore the ruins of the big cities. He just never imagined he’d be forced to flee after strange men burned down his rural mountain town and murdered everyone he loved. Responsible for his kid brother and searching for an uncle he’s never met before, he isn’t sure he can navigate the perils of life among con artists and thieves long enough to find him.

Their two paths collide as they find themselves thrown together on the adventure of a lifetime.

Together, they may just discover that life is about more than just surviving.


“I didn’t mean what I said earlier, about turning you over to Sixgun. I was just…” He struggled for the words.

“Hurt?” I offered, and he nodded. “I know. I have a talent for pushing people away.”

“I still shouldn’t have said it,” he muttered near my ear, his arm tightening around my shoulders to hold me closer.

“Do you really think I’m stupid?” I asked.

“No, I think you’re the smartest person I’ve ever met,” he said, with all the conviction with which he said everything else. I smiled against his shirt. “Did you really climb into my bed because you thought I was upset about the train?”

“No,” I croaked, hiding my face as best I could. “I don’t have nightmares when you hold me.”

“I don’t have nightmares when I hold you either,” he admitted.

So I let him. I let him hold me all night. We didn’t speak, we just leaned against each other until the sky began to lighten and the shadows of our pasts seemed to fade into the distance.

Author Bios and Links

Lauren Sevier & A. Smith are long time friends and co-authors from southern Louisiana. Guns & Smoke, their first joint publication, began as a “short” story after having too much wine on girl’s night. Nine years later it is now the first novel in a Dystopian/Western Romance series. The duo has plans to publish several series together in the future. A. Smith spends her time with her two rescue dogs and rescue cat surrounding herself with books and Labyrinth paraphernalia. Lauren Sevier collects antique tea cups and tries to stay sane, though as the mother of a toddler she fails brilliantly most days. She also has a growing collection of crowns and tiaras and likes to act silly on TikTok. Look for more thrilling novels from The Fools Adventure series in the future!

Lauren Sevier

Website | YouTube | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook | Goodreads

A. Smith

Website | Twitter | Instagram | Newsletter | Goodreads


Lauren Sevier and A. Smith will be awarding a $20 Amazon/Barnes & Noble gift card to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter during the tour.
Find out more here.

Follow the authors on the rest of their Goddess Fish tour here.