Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Book Trailer Reveal: Napoleon by Emilia Rutigliano


Title: Napoleon
Genre: Women’s Fiction with an Attitude
Author: Emilia Rutigliano
Publisher: Emilia Rutigliano
Pages: 387
Language: English
Format: Kindle

They say that when a student is ready, a teacher appears.

What they don’t say is where to register, and how to matriculate in that teacher’s class.
That is a divine gift.

Veronica had it all:  the looks; the brains; the personality; and the wardrobe.  Not to mention a perfect husband, a fabulous career and two adorable children, until the perfect husband leaves her for another woman.

Thus begin the daily routines of a typical New York City immigrant with ambition whose teachers keep appearing, and for whom divine interventions keep affording new opportunities.

Though it starts like ordinary connections going through the tried and true, each relationship continues to delve into parts of her own universe that Veronica didn’t know existed.  A universe that is suddenly open to her.

This is a different kind of heroine…

Welcome to the New American Dream, Dare to Dream…

Thursday, January 23, 2014

How to Avoid the Rejection Blues by Brine Books, Publisher of My Whispers of Horror

How to Avoid the Rejection Blues

Don't be upset if you get rejected! Really, it isn't personal and it doesn't mean that the publisher will never accept anything from you, nor does it mean that you will never get published anywhere. Here at Brine Books Publishing we have had to decline works from authors where we had previously approved something from them. So there could be another reason for it!

Your work may need, well, more work

There is no shame in needing to work more on your written piece. Look it over. Maybe it just needs some more tinkering before they would accept it. And, if you are unsure what they may think needs to be improved... ask!

It really might not fit into their plans

They might like it. It might fit into the guidelines. But sometimes it just doesn't fit into their plans over the next few months to few years. That doesn't mean that they won't consider it down the line. If you are unsure... ask!

Maybe it doesn't fit into their guidelines

Read them over. See if it fits or doesn't. If you think it was declined for this incorrectly there is no shame in politely asking for clarification.

They might just not have liked it

If you think that this is the case it is again not personal. They might consider another piece of yours, but either way... you can submit elsewhere too. There are many publishers with a variety of different tastes and opinions. Don't give up. But if you are unsure if this is the reason or not you can always ask.

Or it could be something else. Don't be afraid to check on it.

I'm sure that you had noticed that I had mentioned about asking for clarification. That doesn't mean that you have to, but it could help you to educate yourself on why you were declined to better understand how to handle future submissions. Do not take it personally when you do either as it isn't anything against you. They often send out standard letters so as to avoid the potential conflict of some writer's taking the explanation personally, but they would probably find a way to tell you nicely if you ask them.

Of course, for some, it might be personal when declining you. But that is rare as publishers, in general, want to like you and are hoping for inspirational pieces to be sent to them. And it is possible to also turn a no to a yes if you just work with them in fitting your work into their audience.


Women search for happiness no matter where they live. They want to build a life, family, career in order to insure a wholesome future. But in much of the world the patriarchal cultures women are born into simply nip at a woman’s potential and brutally guards the slave-like position that women occupy.
Women struggle as they are bought and sold as property. Their inheritance of an unequal and corrupt system that works against them. All while being enforced by domestic violence which women must deal with alone.
These issues, and so much more, are addressed by the voices of real women in ex-USSR nations. We included anonymous letters that will touch and terrify you on a personal level, while learning what women still have to deal with today. 


We are an activist publishing company established as a partnership by a husband and wife in Ontario, Canada. The mission of this business is bring awareness for serious human rights issues around the world, while raising funds to expand our capabilities and to help fund non-profits and charities whose purpose is to better the world.
Our main purpose as a company is to find ways to better the world. We feel that if we fail in this mission then we fail as a business, so we will not give up on our goal. The release of our books and the profits that we raise are meant for this very purpose.
View their site at

First Chapter Reveal: External Forces by Deborah Rix

Title: External Forces
Author: Deborah Rix
Publisher: Dime Store Books
Pages: 268
Language: English
Genre: Young Adult Science Fiction
Format: eBook

Purchase at AMAZON

Treason, betrayal, and heartbreak.

A lot can happen to a girl between her first kiss and her first kill. 

It’s 100 years since the Genetic Integrity Act was passed and America closed its borders to prevent genetic contamination. Now only the enemy, dysgenic Deviants, remain beyond the heavily guarded border. The Department of Evolution carefully guides the creation of each generation and deviations from the divine plan are not permitted.

When 16-year-old Jess begins to show signs of deviance she enlists in the Special Forces, with her best friend Jay, in a desperate bid to evade detection by the Devotees. Jess is good with data, not so good with a knife. So when the handsome and secretive Sergeant Matt Anderson selects her for his Black Ops squad, Jess is determined to figure out why.

As her deviance continues to change her, Jess is forced to decide who to trust with her deadly secret. Jess needs to know what’s really out there, in the Deviant wasteland over the border, if she has any hope of making it to her 17th birthday. Because if the enemy doesn’t kill her first, the Department of Evolution probably will.


I haven’t slept in forty-eight hours.

It’s part of the Special Operations Assessment and Selection course, twenty-eight days of grueling work. The two days of no sleep are meant to disorient us, part of discarding our former selves. There are three hundred of us trying to figure out how to do what we’re told, when we’re told to, and how to do it correctly. Jay and I weren’t assigned to the same platoon, which was unexpected. I’m in the “civilian” platoon; we’re the ones with skills that don’t generally require brute force. I think Jay is in some kind of elite group because I haven’t seen him, I’ve only seen the G-men platoon. They are all about brute force; they’re the ones that opted for genetic enhancement at age thirteen without the supervision of the Devotees. But Special Forces is, well, special, so they have to prove they’ve got more than muscle and I’ve gotta prove I’ve got more than a quick mind.

If I don’t make it to Special Forces, my life expectancy in the regular army could be pretty short. And if I’m a complete washout, I’ll have to go to my assessment with the Devotees and they’ll find out about me, making my life expectancy even shorter. I seriously need to pass.

Zero dark thirty is when I have to haul myself out of bed in the so-called morning. My drill sergeant has been yelling at me for most of the past two days. The word “why” has been surgically removed from everyone’s vocabulary. Any individual hesitation in following orders means at least one private is getting smoked, if not the whole platoon, which usually means push-ups. We’ve done a lot of push-ups. I stare straight ahead as the drill sergeant walks by me and continues down the row of privates. I made the mistake of “eyeballing” him yesterday.

Never. Eyeball. A drill sergeant.

First Chapter:

Three weeks earlier – May, 2125

My mother thinks I’m a Deviant.

It’s the kind of thing that can really throw a girl for a loop.

The Devotees missed it when I was born, she said, but one day they would come for me. That was a few years ago, she didn’t know I was home when I overheard her; I got out of there lickety-split.

And it’s not as if I haven’t noticed the way my mother looks at me sometimes. If they had taken me when they had the chance, maybe her other baby would still be with her. I’m pretty sure that’s what goes through her head when she looks at me.

So the early assessment notice wasn’t entirely unexpected. It doesn’t necessarily mean anything. Lots of kids are called for early assessments and nothing happens; they show up at school the next day. Some of them are all excited because they got called to become a Devotee.

But some of them, well, they don’t come back.

I’m in the parking lot of my high school, West Liberty. It’s prom night, and I came with my best friend, Jay. He’s still inside; he likes this sort of thing. I haven’t told him the early assessment notice came this afternoon. I didn’t want to ruin tonight for him. The humidity has made my dress even more uncomfortable than it was inside. Jay owes me. At least he won’t mind if I go home; it’s not that kind of date.

A car door slams shut. There aren’t a lot of kids who can afford the fuel to drive their own car to the prom.

Uh-oh. Blake.

I take a step back. Blake is a popular kid, with the right look, the right home, the right pedigree.


Despite my attempts to blend in and stay in the background, Blake noticed me this year. When I didn’t respond like all the other girls do, I became his target.

His car keys jangle as he drops them in his jacket pocket. I stand still; maybe he hasn’t seen me.

“Hey, freak,” he calls as he comes around the blue pickup I was hoping would shield me. “Not leaving, are you?”

I smell alcohol as Blake backs me up against the truck.

His slicked-back hair smells slightly astringent, and his tongue slides over his upper lip as he looks me over from top to bottom. A shiver of revulsion goes through me. I can’t imagine what girls like about him. I can hear some voices, but they’re at the other end of the parking lot. It’s just me and Blake.

“I’ve got an early graduation present for you,” he says quietly. His face is close to mine, and I can see beads of perspiration on his forehead. Slick from the humidity, his hand glides down my bare shoulder, as if he’s entitled to touch me.

I don’t think I want a present from Blake.

I’m surprised when my hand moves. There is a wet sound as Blake’s head snaps back.

Blood spurts, and it seems as if time has gone into slow motion. The blood sprays toward me. I move my head to the side to avoid it, and watch it slowly drift by, suspended in the air.

I turn back to Blake and a thrill zips through me. Thick, glossy blood creeps down his chin from his mashed nose. His mouth is open in shock; blood colors his teeth and gums. He moves sluggishly, and each blink seems to take effort.

Drip by slow drip, the blood falls from his chin onto his shirt. Fascinated, I watch each droplet burst on his crisp white collar.

A wet plonk hits my forehead as a sudden coldness envelops me. The grin I’m shocked to find on my face sags. Fat droplets of rain release the pressure in the air and mix with the blood on Blake’s shiny shoes.

Hands to his face, he doubles over as time suddenly speeds up again. The rain pelts down now. I take two steps to the side and run. I hear a sob and realize it’s me.

What just happened?

It’s the morning after prom, and Jay saunters along beside me as we walk back to my house. I met him half way, as per my usual. His t-shirt is a bit wrinkled, but that’s on purpose, to go with jeans that are a little baggy in back. He’s over six feet and gets asked if he’s a model, which he laughs at, but I know he’s pleased. He could be quite popular if he wanted, but he hangs out with me instead.

Jay and me are Fifth Generation. We’re the ones born between 2100 and 2120. We found each other in the seventh grade. We were the last two kids left when we all paired up for gym class. He asked me why I wasn’t moving when we were supposed to be heading out to the field. I explained that I was trying to activate my special powers so that I could use them to transport me far away. Usually that kind of talk would send kids running, and they’d whisper that I must be a Deviant. But not Jay. He blinked at me, then asked if I would take him with me, should my special powers ever actually work. We’ve been best friends since, and tell each other pretty much everything.

“So, can you come to the thing?”

Uh oh.

I think I’m supposed to know what he’s talking about.

“Uh, when is it again?” I stall for time. What thing?

I push my hair behind my ears to help me think. It doesn’t always work. I have shoulder-length brown hair, parted on the side. My no-nonsense look is how I think of it. I still don’t know what the thing is.

“Wait. Jess. You’re joking, right?” Jay says with a laugh that’s on the edge of anger.

“I’m sorry.” I do my best pleading cringe. “I’m a little distracted.”

The early assessment and whatever that was with Blake last night are the distractions. I can’t quite believe I punched him, broke his nose by the look of it. He’s probably going to have two black eyes. But more than that punch, as surprising as it was, is the way time seemed to slow down around me. I want to say it was shock, or some kind of temporary fugue state, but that’s not what it was.

 Something happened.

“My mother’s thing, remember?” Jay practically yells at me.

“Oh, that,” I say with relief. Jay’s mother is hosting a party to celebrate his seventeenth birthday. That’s what the thing is. It’s going to be awful.

“We met up, what? Five minutes ago? And you’re already trying to drive me crazy?” He pinches my butt. Hard. He’s pretty worked up about this party.

I yelp and dance around. “No way. You are not blaming your crazy on me.” I give him a solid punch in the gut. “You had years of exposure to your mother before we even met.”

I go rock climbing, so my arms are strong. I’ve never needed to go to the gym to work out and “stay in shape” like some of the other girls do. I’m five feet ten and a half inches and the coach at school said I have an athletic body; he tried to get me to go out for track and field. I don’t like the idea of people watching me like that.

But hitting Jay is like hitting concrete. He doesn’t even notice my punch.

“And of course I’m coming, I already told you. That’s why I didn’t know what thing you were talking about. I thought you meant some other thing.”

“You didn’t actually confirm with my mother,” he complains, “and I know how you feel about people, in general.”

“I don’t have a problem with people, in general. Just the idiots,” I say. “And your mother.”

It’s kind of a toss-up, I suppose. A mother like mine, who actively avoids you and has already decided you’re not worth the effort, or one who pays too much attention and has too many expectations.

Jay nudges me as an unfamiliar dark-haired boy, a bit younger than we are, walks toward us. He doesn’t look right at us, but he flashes us two crossed fingers with his right hand.

I look up ahead and see them coming our way. Three Devotees. Jay and I mumble the greeting in unison, “Blood of our blood, flesh of our flesh, soul of our soul,” and we look down as they brush past us in their crisp white lab coats. It’s best not to be noticed.

The Devotees work for the Department of Evolution —everyone just calls it Devo— and they do the work of Creation in partnership with God. The Department of Evolution is under the direction of Secretary Galton. Basically, she’s God’s voice here on Earth. In the midst of the genetic revolution a hundred years ago, when the Genetic Integrity Act closed America’s borders, strict protocols for border biosecurity were instituted to stop genetic contamination. But we were still in danger of being overrun by the Deviants on the other side. Galton took control, ordered the fortification of our borders and gave the military the authority to do what they needed to do. Most people agree; she did what was necessary for our survival by relinquishing certain powers to the military to ensure our protection. Including the ability to create proprietary, genetically enhanced soldiers. The G-men. Since then, Galton has been leading us through the current stage of evolution, Regenesis, removing unwanted traits and improving and enhancing our best traits with the guidance of God.

In Social Biology class, Devotee Theresa taught us that we must all work for the common good, whether we like it or not. The less intelligent are more fertile and must be discouraged from breeding. Only those with desirable traits are allowed to produce the next generation.

There’s this section, practically a whole semester of tenth grade, where we studied pedigree charts, and DNA, RNA, proteins, and ribosomes. DNA is a double helix that carries the genetic information for all life. If only one part of one gene is wrong, it can create a whole generation of imbeciles, and that is not in God’s plan. Or in Devo’s plan. All Devotees have that DNA double helix tattooed on their forearm, as a constant reminder of their purpose in life.

That’s what the crossed fingers warning represents, the double helix tattoo.

We come up to the old Palace Theater. It’s been shut down for a long time, and the large sign that hangs out front lost its first A, so it says PLACE. Someone found a way in down the side alley, and now kids hang out there. They say, “Meet me at the place.” If they’re overheard or an adult sees a message, it only says “the place.” So far it’s stayed secret. I’ve heard they have illegal sim-seats in there, ones that can scramble the biometrics and mask what you’re doing.

“Jess,” Jay says as he slows right down, “something’s wrong.”

“It’s time to wake up!” a skinny boy with curly red hair yells. He’s standing on a wooden crate, and people are hesitantly milling about. “People are dying! Out there, children are starving, and you send them poison. People are sick, and you send them plagues. The blood of our blood is on your hands!”

There are gasps at his blasphemy, but a few people cautiously move toward him in morbid fascination. His eyes are wild, there’s spittle on his lips. Jay grabs my arm to tug me backward.

When the bullet enters the boy’s left temple, it’s as if he doesn’t know it’s there for a moment.
He’s about to yell, his mouth opens, his lips form a word he will never say. Then he topples backward, and I hear the terrible thud as his head hits the ground. The people closest to him quickly step back. No one screams, no one looks up to see the Guardian with the rifle on the roof across the street. Everyone wants to blend in.

Another Guardian comes toward the Palace. The Guardians work for Devo and protect us from Deviants. The stiff collar somehow makes his slightly rumpled, brown uniform shirt look crisp. The yellow double helix is on the front of his cap, and above his left shirt pocket.

“Move along,” he says. “It was just a Deviant.”

We all know that the plain fact of his yelling out crazy stuff in the street like that is proof of his deviance. It’s what happens sometimes, but it’s most prevalent during adolescence. The deviance manifests and people become dangerous, psychotic Deviants, intent on our destruction.

The Guardian rests his hand on the butt of the holstered pistol hanging from his belt and waits for the brown panel truck with the whooping siren we can hear approaching.

Jay swears at him under his breath and keeps hold of my arm. We hurry off with the rest of the crowd, wanting to move as far away as possible. I look back in time to see somebody dart in behind the Guardian, dip a hand in the boy’s blood, and leave an angry red handprint on the front of the Palace Theater. A red hand. I’ve heard the whispers but never thought it was true. As I stare at it, I bumble into Mrs. Yamoto, one of my neighbors. She walks fast, gripping her daughter’s hand tightly. Last year, I saw the brown truck with the double helix on the side parked in front of her house. The Guardians had come to take her son.


That was his name.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Book Review: ‘Knight Blindness’ by Chris Karlsen

Knight Blindness is the third installment in Karlsen’s The Knights in Time series. I have read the first two books and, as always, the author doesn’t disappoint.
The story begins at the Battle of Poitiers, France, in 1356. English knight Stephen Palmer charges into battle when he is suddenly struck by the enemy. In that instant, he plummets through time and when he wakes up, wounded and confused, he finds himself in a hospital in 2013. Not only that, but blind due to his wound. His manner of speaking, questions and claims force people to believe that he’s mad.
In a twist of fate, old friends of his who have also secretly traveled through time before, from earlier books, come to help. They assign him a tutor to help him adjust to the modern world: beautiful and warm-hearted Esme Crippen who, unfortunately, thinks Stephen adorable but also mad.
But unbeknown to Stephen, the man who struck him, French knight Roger Marchant, was also sucked into the vortex and ripped through time…and he has his own agenda and will stop at nothing to hunt his enemy down and bring him back to 1356.
This was a thoroughly entertaining and compelling read. Romance, adventure, intrigue, mystery and a touch of humor await you in Knight Blindness. With her close attention to historical detail, Karlsen brings the story to life. Stephen is a riveting hero, brave, loyal and stubborn, yet with a vulnerable, sensitive side; Esme is as sympathetic as heroines go, and I had fun watching their romance evolve. Roger is a character not many will like, but Karlsen gave him some redeeming qualities as well, making him a more complex and realistic villain. I should mention that although this is third in a series, it is also a standalone book, and the author does a good job in providing some light backstory that doesn’t get overwhelming. If you’re a fan of time-travel and historical romance, you’ll want to add this one to your shelf.
Purchase from Amazon.
Visit the author’s website.
My review was originally published in Blogcritics.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Book Blast! More Than Words by Andrea Shannon - Win a $25 Amazon Gift Card!

More Than Words Banner


9781450269476_COVER.inddTitle: More Than Words Genre: Poetry Author: Andrea Shannon Publisher: iUniverse Pages: 168 Language: English ISBN - 978-1-45026-947-6 Andrea Shannon writes poetry that reflects on life experiences and relationships – the good, the bad and the ugly. This collection of poems will draw you into her world and perhaps give you a closer look into your own. As you read, you will find yourself saying, “I know someone like that” or “I was in the same situation at one time”. See how many of your family, friends and acquaintances you can identify in these pages. You’ll find no flowery prose here; each poem is real, raw and straightforward. Ms. Shannon tells it like it is and doesn’t pull punches. Her writing takes you straight to her heart, exposing all the joy and pain, laughter and tears, anger and fear that come wrapped up in this thing we call life. This is a collection you will want to read again and again.

Purchase your copy:



ANDREA SHANNON began writing poetry in her high school years. Even then, it was noted that she had a unique style of writing. Her collection of poems is based on life experiences and observations. Andrea currently resides in Columbus, Ohio with her husband of 25 years. She is the mother of two and grandmother of three.

Pump Up Your Book and Andrea are teaming up to give you a chance to win a $25 Amazon Gift Card!

Terms & Conditions:
  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive one $25 Amazon Gift Certificate
  • This giveaway begins January 7 and ends on January 21.
  • Winners will be contacted via email on January 22, 2014.
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply.
Good luck everyone!


Book Blast! The Diabetes Slayer's Handbook by Alan D. Raguso - Win a $25 Amazon Gift Card!

About the Author:

Alan D. Raguso has developed diabetes-reversal techniques that have helped him and others. He is a member of a hospital advisory committee for diabetes education for a local nonprofit organization that provides wellness education for prediabetics and type 2 diabetics. Raguso lives in Washington State.

About the Book:

Title: The Diabetes Slayer’s Handbook

Genre: Health and Fitness Book

Author: Alan D. Raguso

Publisher: iUniverse

Pages: 116

Language: English

ISBN - 978-1-47595-003-8

Just over eleven years ago, author Alan D. Raguso was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. He spent ten years battling raging A1Cs and ever-worsening blood-glucose readings; two and a half years ago, he started developing the beginning stages of retinal problems. That’s when Raguso decided to get serious about his health and resolved to find a way to beat diabetes.

In The Diabetes Slayer’s Handbook, he narrates his journey with the disease and presents a nonsurgical, nonprescription-drug intervention program that he discovered through his research and study of nutrition. He provides an understanding of the basics of prediabetes, type 2 diabetes, excess weight, sugar and carbohydrates, and metabolism, and he outlines diabetes-reversal techniques using everyday healthy foods combined with easy low-impact exercise.

The Diabetes Slayer’s Handbook dissects the components of diabetes and offers a game plan for attacking the disease to help diabetes sufferers get a handle on their health and their life.

Purchase your copy:


Pump Up Your Book and Alan are teaming up to give you a chance to win a $25 Amazon Gift Card!

Terms & Conditions:
  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive one $25 Amazon Gift Certificate
  • This giveaway begins January 7 and ends on January 21.
  • Winners will be contacted via email on January 22, 2014.
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply.
Good luck everyone!


Special Guest: M.S. Spencer, author of 'The Mason's Mark'

Good morning and thank you for having me Dorothy. I wanted to share a bit of the background to my new mystery romance The Mason's Mark: Love and Death in the Tower (an Old Town Romance).

The Mason's Mark arose in part out of a true story. Starting in the 1940s an Italian named Licio Gelli embarked on a lifetime of bizarre scams and crimes. Alternately linked to rightists and leftists, he
bilked or used people from Italian politicians, to the Nazis, the Communists, the CIA, even to Juan Peron, dictator of Argentina. His exploits cross the globe and spanned four decades. At last check, he was still alive, in his nineties and writing poetry from prison. In 1996 he was even nominated for the Nobel prize in literature.

Gelli is most famous for founding a Masonic lodge called Propaganda Due, a renegade group that was first dissolved, then reinstated, then erased by the Grand Orient de Italia. He had ensnared many prominent Italians into P2, which ultimately led to several huge scandals.  He is the model for the shadowy puppetmaster in my new romantic suspense novel The Mason's Mark: Love and Death in the Tower (an Old Town Romance). Here's the story:

In both the best and worst first day at work ever,  docent Claire Wilding meets the man of her dreams, but her carefully rehearsed guided tour of the George Washington National Masonic Memorial falls apart when she discovers a dead body. Together with Detective Ernest Angle, she's drawn into a dark world of black ops and Italian renegade masons. Also cloaked in mystery is her new love Gideon Bliss.  A George Washington expert, he haunts the Memorial, his manner evasive. What is his secret? Claire fears she'll fall in love with him only to learn he's a thief or even a murderer.

Juggling two eccentric mothers, an inquisitive sister, and an increasingly smitten Ernest, Claire must find answers to a complex web of intrigue, including which black ops agent to trust,  whether our first president strayed, and if she and Gideon will ever be together.

Secret Cravings Publishing (released January 7, 2014)

eBook (79,000 words), Romantic suspense, M/F, 3 flames

In this excerpt we meet the beautiful and dangerous Dorcas:

Excerpt (PG) Dorcas Enters the Picture

Gideon finished his scotch and savagely ripped a piece of bread in half, scattering bits all over the table. Before he could answer, a disembodied voice spoke from the shadows. “Steak and kidney pie?”
The waiter hovered, balancing large crockery plates in each hand. As he bent down, the fire lit his face with a devilish glow.
“Here, thanks, and I’ll take a pint of Guinness. Claire? Another drink?”
Claire considered her order, a rather wilted Caesar salad. O’Connells apparently didn’t approve of vegetables that weren’t boiled to death. Or any dish that didn’t include potatoes. “A glass of the South African dry Riesling, please.”
At least the ambience fit their mood. They sat at a high oak table by an unnecessary fire, overshadowed by pendent dark wood choir stalls stolen from an Irish monastery and next to a heavily varnished organ fa├žade stolen from an Irish church. A tea light made a heroic effort to pierce the obscurity. It all served to heighten the sense of approaching doom.
“You were saying?” she prompted.
“Why is Dorcas here? Simple. She wants to make my life miserable. According to Mother, the man she left me for dumped her unceremoniously. I imagine her plan is to take it out on me.”
“Was the man with her in Paris?”
“Yes, but Dorcas told Mother he went back to Argentina. That’s where she originally met him. When she arrived here she learned that he left Buenos Aires for the States a month ago and is somewhere in the District. She claims if she finds him she'll give me my freedom.”
“That sounds promising.”
“Not if he doesn’t want to be found. This could go on forever.” He touched her hand. “I hate putting you through this.”
“Me?” Claire ignored the throbbing of a quickened pulse and did her best to assume an indifferent air. “What does it have to do with me?”
His emerald eyes bored into her blue ones. “I shouldn’t have to spell it out, should I?”
Claire blinked and took a large swallow of wine, coughing only some of it up. “I told you—I have renounced disporting with both jailbirds and married men.”
“Disport? Will you gambol with me then? Cavort?”
“The answer to any synonym you come up with is still no.”
The waiter skipped up and set a second Guinness down before Gideon with a flourish. “Compliments of the lady.” He gestured toward the long mahogany bar, sparkling with polished brass and crystal glasses.
Gideon followed the waiter’s pointing finger, and Claire followed his gaze. A woman sat alone facing away from them. She wore a burgundy Donna Karan suit and three-inch stiletto heels. The matching broad-brimmed hat hid her hair and most of her face. Claire checked the mirror behind the bar and dropped her fork when she saw what she would later describe to her sister as Audrey Hepburn’s doppelganger. A few tendrils of glistening black hair curled out from under the hat. High, aristocratic cheekbones flanked a flawlessly proportioned nose over ruby-kissed lips. The woman swiveled on her stool to face them and Claire nearly fell off her own. Dorcas—for it could only be Dorcas—would indeed easily pass as the twin of the late exquisite actress. Her huge, liquid, brown eyes locked on Claire.
If Gideon hadn’t stood up and stepped between them, Claire wouldn’t have been able to break the spell. She slumped, breathing heavily. “I feel like a trapped mouse.”
“Dorcas does that to people.” Gideon tossed the words over his shoulder. After a tense minute's staring match he swung around to Claire. “Come on, let’s go.” She didn’t argue. He dropped some bills on the table and stalked after her.
She had reached the door when she realized Gideon was no longer behind her. She turned to see him nose to nose with Dorcas, their lips moving rapidly, showing off very white teeth. Claire could have sworn Dorcas’s canines were unusually long and sharp. She waited.
A minute later Gideon swept past her out the door. He didn’t speak as he drove Claire home, unless one counts foam bubbling from his mouth and an occasional snort. He left her at the door. She trudged up the steps. As she fit the key in the lock, she heard ringing. That's the landline. Who would use that? She ran in and picked up the receiver. “Hello?”
“Claire? This is Ernest. I have news.”


Although she has lived or traveled in every continent except Antarctica and Australia (bucket list), M. S. Spencer has spent the last thirty years mostly in Washington, D.C. as a librarian, Congressional staff assistant, speechwriter, editor, birdwatcher, kayaker, policy wonk, non-profit director and parent. Blessed with two fabulous grown children, she has published eight romantic suspense/mystery novels. In an excess of optimism, she has recently heaved the entire ho to Florida with a detour to Maine, leaving behind the cherry blossoms, the monuments, and the political hacks. 



Sunday, January 19, 2014

Pieces of Me by Daron Kenneth Book Blast - Win a $25 Amazon Gift Card!

Pieces of Me Banner


Pieces of Me Book CoverTitle: Pieces of Me Genre: Poetry Author: Daron Kenneth Publisher: AuthorHouse Pages: 108 Language: English ISBN - 978-1-46852-289-1 Pieces of Me, is Daron Kenneth's newest offering of poetry that takes the reader on the real and often surreal ride through the mindscape of the author's soul. Pieces of Me is an electric journey into some of life's richest and most memorable moments.

Purchase your copy:



Author, Daron Kenneth, a teacher, writer, play wright and poet gives us his current collection of poetry and insightful observations about the things that mean the most: life, love, friendships and relationships.

Pump Up Your Book and Daron are teaming up to give you a chance to win a $25 Amazon Gift Card!

Terms & Conditions:
  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive one $25 Amazon Gift Certificate
  • This giveaway begins January 7 and ends on February 28.
  • Winners will be contacted via email on March 1, 2014.
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply.
Good luck everyone!


Saturday, January 18, 2014

Chapter Reveal: Knight Blindness, by Chris Karlsen

GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment below for a chance to win an eset of Heroes Live Forever and Journey in Time along with a swag bag. The swag bag will be a small tote with the book covers screened on, a “medieval style” bracelet and a package of soap leaves shaped like rose petals.


Ready for battle, Medieval English knight, Stephen Palmer, charges into the French enemy’s cavalry line. Heeding a warning given months before, he hesitates as he comes face-to-face with the knight in the warning. Struck down in the year 1356, he finds himself landing in the year 2013. Grievously wounded, he’s taken to a nearby hospital. Confused by the new world surrounding him, he attempts to convince the staff he’s from another time, only to find they think him mad.

Rescued by friends, who, to his surprise, have also come through time, he must find a way to function in this odd modern England. He is quickly enchanted by the kind Esme Crippen, the young woman hired to tutor him. She too is enchanted by him. Tempted to deepen the relationship, she hesitates thinking him adorable, but mad. He must discover the means for getting her to believe the truth, all the while, unknown to him, he didn’t come forward in time alone. The enemy knight has also traveled to 2013.

French noble, Roger Marchand, doesn’t question why the English knight who charged him hesitated. That fraction of a pause gave him the advantage needed and he brought his sword down upon the Englishman’s helmet hard, unhorsing the knight. He moved to finish the Englishman off when the world changed in a rush of sensations as he is ripped through time.

Seeking a reason for the terrible event, he enters a nearby chapel. There, thinking God has chosen him for a quest to turn French defeat that day in 1356 to victory, he sets out to find the English knight. The man he is convinced holds the key to time. If he returns to the day of the battle, he can warn his king of mistakes that snatched victory from them.   

Purchase on AMAZON


Stephen was singing, not along with the Righteous Brothers or other group but along with himself. Esme doubted he’d hear her knock and just came in.
“Oh, I love that song,” she said and set her laptop, purse, and store bag onto the dining table.
Unchained Melody is one of the songs Lady Shakira taught me,” Stephen told her. “She also taught me, The Way You Look Tonight. You know about Tusk.
“Begin again.”
“Which one? Unchained Melody?
“All of them.”
He clicked back to the first cut on a CD in the player. 
She sat at the table as he began with The Way You Look Tonight. If she didn’t know he was blind, she’d never think that from the way he moved and gestured. A step here and there, the slight sway, the beckoning with his hands, he acted so comfortable with the words and music. He exuded a confidence in his performance she hadn’t expected.  After he finished the three songs Shakira taught him, he sang the songs from Phantom of the Opera. What talent. Esme could listen to his rich tenor voice all day.
“Those are what I learned so far.”
“Where did you record this?”
“Alex and Shakira converted their second bedroom into a small music studio.”
Esme stood and went over to him. “When will you make the CD for me?”
“I must learn a few more songs to fill up the leftover time on the disc.”
“I can’t wait. Speaking of time, we’d better get started on your lessons. I don’t want to get into trouble.”
“You won’t. I pay you now.”
The new situation put her in an awkward position. The time they spent together away from her tutoring lessons was precious. She looked forward to their rides. Except for the sensory overload problem in the pub, both enjoyed the trip to Cheltenham. He might be daffy, but his old world craziness had a charming element. But if he’s the one employing her, it seemed rather tawdry to let herself be too charmed.
“Why the change?” she asked.
“I don’t want you to worry anymore about losing your job.”
“But where did you—“
“I made a profitable trade.”
“What did—”
He put his hand up. “No more talk of money.”
It took a moment for the penny to drop. When it did, it landed in a flurry of mixed emotions. The only time she mentioned losing her job was after he tried to kiss her. Did he intend to come on to her and this was his way of removing a major stumbling block? Or, did he and Alex have a previously agreed to arrangement for him to take over the financial details when possible all along?
Never good at sussing out the hidden meaning behind people’s actions, the last option meant he had limited interest in her, which kind of bummed her out. Part of her liked the idea he went to this trouble to pave the way for another kiss. On the other hand, if he was interested in her, she wasn’t sure how she felt about that. The ‘be a better person’ part of her knew his disability shouldn’t matter. In truth, another part of her, maybe even a bigger part, questioned if his blindness was something she wanted to handle on a more personal level and daily. The idea of someone being that dependent on her...
She refused to worry about it and let the thought fall away. She didn’t have to decide right now. Wait and see what transpired.
“Do you want to know some other songs I like?” she asked, wanting to think about something less mentally taxing. 
“For another CD, yes. For this first one, I prefer to surprise you.”
“I trust I’ll love them all. While we are on the subject of trust, do you trust me?”
His chest rose as he sucked in a gulp of air, which she didn’t see him let out. “It’s never good when a woman asks this.”
He exhaled. “I’ll speak slower. It’s—”
“You don’t need to speak slower. You need to explain the comment.”
“I’ve been asked this a handful of times in my life. Whenever it was asked by a woman, things did not work out well for me. Women either do not recognize trouble on sight or pretend they don’t. Whichever, the result rarely comes in the form of good fortune.”
“Listen to yourself. You’re such a chauvinist and you complain about Tony honking for me.”
“Cows and sheep, milady.”
“What the deuce do cows and sheep have to do with this conversation?”
“It’s an expression we have. Although they are both livestock, they are not comparable. My observations about the judgment of women and that Tony person aren’t comparable either.”
She tried to piece together his logic and gave up. “Back to my question. Do you trust me?”
“What do you plan?”
“You have great hair, very lustrous.” She ran her hand down the side of his head. “How silky it is and I like the smell of the tea tree oil shampoo.” She lifted a large lock. “But the ends are tattered and you’re looking a bit shaggy. I’d like to trim it.”
His shoulders relaxed noticeably and he smiled a smile, not of pleasure but one of relief. “You may. I’ll sit at the table.”
“Let me get a towel.” She returned and wrapped the towel around his neck, dug the scissors from her bag and began snipping.
“Do you normally wear your hair to your shoulders because I’d like to shorten it at least an inch or two.”
After a moment of hesitation, he said, “All right.”
As she combed his hair, she had second thoughts about whether or not she should ask the questions that arose from her research.
The day Stephen talked about his friend, Simon Harrow, she decided not to wait for the weekend to go to the British Museum Library. She’d researched the library online and found one book that listed Baron Guy Guiscard in relation to the Battle of Poitiers. Like Stephen had told her, Baron Guiscard was killed in the battle. The book stated he’d gone on the campaign with a large company of knights who served him. Unfortunately, the book didn’t list the men by name. It did reference the fact the baron fought at Crecy ten years earlier. Stephen said he fought alongside Simon and was himself made a knight following that battle. After an exhaustive search, Esme found a book which listed all the men the Black Prince raised up to knighthood at Crecy. A Stephen Palmer was listed. Research was one of her strengths and the obscure reference took her forever to find. How had Stephen managed to not only discover the entry but know what it said? He didn’t read.
Too curious not to hear his answer, she broached the subject of the past he believed he came from. “Stephen, did you know that in addition to the chronicles of the Black Prince’s 1356 campaign, events of the 1346 campaign were chronicled too?”
“No,” he said with a shrug.
“Don’t move your head. You’re mentioned by name in the first chronicle as having received your knighthood.”
“Makes sense. Although I’m a landless knight, the title does grant me a few privileges. A record of those entitled is required.”
In her head, she planned to go slow and lead up to the question she really wanted to hear him answer. Patience—that particular virtue skipped over her and she blurted, “How is it, Guy’s death is listed, Simon is buried in what was the family cemetery but you are here?”
He turned toward her just as she slid the scissors around a sizeable chunk of hair. Before she could stop, four inches of hair fell onto the floor.
“Oops? I don’t like the sound of that.”
“I told you to sit still.”
Stephen ran a quick palm down the back of his head. “Trust me, you said. Do you remember me saying it rarely works out well when a woman asks me that?” He ran his hand over the damage a few more times, groaning with each pass.
“Have you considered you might look better with much shorter hair?”
“It matters not what I consider now. The choice has been made for me.”
“I really am sorry.”
He waved away her apology. “Cut the rest.”
“Are you sure? I don’t know if I’ll be any good at shaping it. My plan was simply trim the ends.”
“As was my plan when I sat down.”
She started cutting small sections but feared the outcome.
“Back to my question,” Esme said. “How are you here?” Perhaps if he saw how impossible it was for him to be the knight Stephen Palmer, a flicker of his true memory might return. No doubt the Lancasters along with Miranda and Ian asked him the same question, brought up the same logic of impossibility. If he heard from enough people, the psychotic break would heal. Not that she knew anything about psychology, but didn’t think it would hurt for her to try.
“Before the campaign, Guy warned me about a French knight I’d face. He told me of the man’s heraldic symbol. On the battlefield, I encountered this knight. I hesitated, recognizing him for who he was. The hesitation cost me my sight. A blow from his sword penetrated my helm, the damage blinded me.”
Stephen reached up and found her hand, stopping her from continuing to trim his hair. He held her wrist and brought her around so she stood in front of him.
“I have told you the truth about me from the first. I am telling you the truth now when I say, I don’t know how, but I have come through time.”
She gave a silent thank you that he didn’t see her mouth fall open with the bizarre revelation.
“You’ve gone quiet,” he said.
“Stephen you are not a time traveler. I don’t know the medical or psychological reasons behind your belief that you’re Stephen Palmer, medieval knight. I’m sure it stems from the trauma of your injury. But I’m telling you the truth when I say you didn’t come forward in time.”
“Do you think I wish this on myself? Wish to be a man out of time and away from all I know of life? My friends died hundreds of years past. I’ve lost my beloved Arthur, who I trained from the time he was a yearling.”
“You have Alex and Shakira.”
“Yes, but their lives are centered on each other, as it should be, as it was in my time. I’m talking about my friends in the barracks. Men I drank with and laughed with and suffered with in battle.”
The insistence in his words, the unrelenting belief in his delusion tore at her heart. In a way, she wished she could share in the delusion just so he wouldn’t feel so alone and adrift. He spoke like a career soldier with no love interest. Odd for a nice looking man.
“You didn’t name a special woman. Was there one?”
“I was rather fond of a milkmaid. She was the cook’s daughter.”
No way did he read about a lowly milkmaid in any book Esme could think of. Curious how he’d answer she said, “Tell me about her.”
A stolen glance as he looked away revealed a wistful smile that touched his lips and disappeared.
“Her name was Rosamond,” he said, turning back to Esme. “Both her hands fit into my palm. She hummed music she heard in her head to the animals as she milked.”
“Was she pretty?”
“She had a pretty smile and a kind heart.”
“Did you court her?”
“I...we...” He shook his head. “We...flirted. I was talking to her on the stairs, when Al...Guy warned me about the enemy knight whose symbol was a panther on a sea of orange.”
“Why’d you only flirt?” she asked, relieved for some reason.
“How could I court her? I had nothing to offer. Even if I’d been given a parcel of land by Guy, I know nothing of farming. I have no trade. I can’t mill grain, cobble on shoes, or thatch a roof. My training was as a warrior. My trade was killing the enemies of the king.”
“What did you mean when you spoke of Alex and Shakira’s lives are centered on each other, ‘as it should be, as it was in my time’?”
“Their business is their own. You should put your question before them.”
Stephen phrased his answer so it sounded like they’d gone back in time at some point, which was impossible, of course. But no way was she going to question the Lancasters or even mention what he said. As his friends, they might take offense to any comment from her. A bad word from them or Miranda and her chances of any future job at the History Channel would vaporize.
“If you have come forward, then why hasn’t Alex or Shakira said something? They’d know the truth.”
“Perhaps they choose not to speak rather than hear the disbelief in other voices like that I hear in yours.”
Esme tried a different approach instead of a blanket denial. “Stephen, what’s the last thing you remember after receiving the blow to your helm?”
“I was unhorsed, crawled on the ground thinking to escape my attacker. When I thought I knocked at death’s door, I called to Arthur.”
“When do you believe the time change happened?”
“Right after that. The next thing I knew, a Frenchman who denied we were at war tried to reassure me. Wails from hell blared, strange men came and took me to the hospital, where I awoke to learn I was in a different time.”
“I want you to think about what you just said. If you time-traveled, then why did no one else come forward too? Guy died. Simon lived to die in England years later. Wouldn’t your horse have come? Wasn’t he next to you while you were on the ground?”
Stephen nodded.
“Then why didn’t he come forward? What happened to the French knight? Stephen, you have to see” Esme searched for a non-offense word. “How improbable your story is.”
He straightened. Chest out, spine rigid, his blind eyes, clear and pale blue didn’t quite fix on her. “I have been instructed to let people think I am mad as the truth is unacceptable to them. I am not mad. I told you the truth. I grow weary of living this lie, especially where you are concerned.”
“Thank you, I think.” The declaration flummoxed her. As usual, any hidden meaning was lost on her. She removed the towel from his shoulders. “Come on, I’ll take you to a barber in the town. He can finish cutting your hair. I don’t want to make a worse mess of it.”
“Ah, now you admit to being a mess maker. Handy information I could’ve used earlier.”
“It’s hair. It will grow back so stop grumbling. While you’re at the barber’s, I’m running to the library.”
“Gloucester has the best library in the shire. I need a book on French heraldic symbols. I’m going to look for your French knight.”