Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Straight Browsing from the Library: The Last Dreamgirl by Shane Hayes


This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Shane Hayes will be awarding a $20 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

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For every man there’s a girl who grips his imagination and his heart as no other girl ever did or will. She may be in her teens or a mature woman. He responds to her as a boy to a girl. Whether she comes early in his life or late, there is a throne in his subconscious that she takes possession of, without trying, often without wanting to.The image he forms of her reigns there in perpetuity, even if she has left his life, or this life. Her enchantment never fades or fails, and he is never immune to it. She may not be for him the last wife or paramour, but she is the last dreamgirl.

READ AN EXCERPT


"Look, my mother’s worried sick. I need to go home.”

“Is home such a happy place?”

“Yes!” she lied.

“Then why do you walk through the streets crying every night?”

“I don’t!”

“You do! I saw you twice this week. That’s why I picked you.”

“What? Picked me? What do you mean ‘picked’ me?”

“That’s why you’re here—because you looked so unhappy.”

She squinted at him like he was mad. “Are you saying you brought me here to cheer me up?”

“No, not that exactly. I wanted your company. A girl’s company. A girl who was kind of pretty and… unhappy. You were both.”

She looked confused and angry. “What do you know about my unhappiness?”

“Not much,” he said, “but I know it’s there. And it’s a little like mine. You seem very shy. People scare you. You’re not comfortable with them. You can’t talk to them. Your nose is always in a book. You read sometimes even in the schoolyard. You hang on to the edge of a crowd, but you’re not really part of it. Like me, you don’t seem to have any friends. When I saw you walk down the street Monday night crying, I knew you were probably unhappy at home too. That clinched it. You were the one. And you were crying again last night when you passed my car.”...

Sandra’s astonishment had deepened. She hadn’t dreamed anyone would watch her like that. “What do you mean, I was ‘the one’?”

Ollie hesitated. “The one… I needed,” he ventured. “The one… to be my friend.”

She was glad he avoided terms of romance or passion. “Because I looked lonely and I cried?” she said.

“You passed the unhappiness test with flying colors.... Please, Sandra, let me get you something. Even if it’s just orange juice or coffee.”

She said coldly: “The only thing you have that I want is freedom. Offer that and I’ll accept it.”

Ollie sighed. “That’s not on the menu this morning. But it will be. I promise it will be. Not today, though.”

Sandra objected. “Not even later today? This afternoon or tonight?”

“Not till we’ve been friends for a while, Sandra. Absolutely not till we’ve been friends for a while. If you freeze me out, our time of friendship won’t begin. And I won’t let you go till we have it. This will last longer if you don’t cooperate.”

“What do you mean ‘cooperate’?”

“Talk with me, read books with me, listen to music with me, look at paintings and sketches with me, tell me about yourself and your life. Let me tell you about myself and my life. Be my friend. Let me be your friend. Share meals with me. Share breakfast now, that’ll be a start.”

Sandra cried, “I can’t be your friend if you keep me in a cage. I’m your prisoner or your pet, not your friend.”


MEET THE AUTHOR


A native Philadelphian, Shane Hayes earned his bachelor’s and his law degree from Villanova University, and studied for a year at Princeton Theological Seminary. He worked as a writer/editor for Prentice Hall and an attorney for the federal government. He is married, has four children, and lives in suburban Philadelphia. His nonfiction book The End of Unbelief: A New Approach to the Question of God was released by Leafwood Publishers in the fall of 2014.

Two young men meet on ship when both are recently out of college. They share a flaming ambition. Each aims to write novels that will be internationally acclaimed and win him a place in American letters. One of them, Paul Theroux, achieves the dream in all its glory: becomes world famous, writes over 40 books, and three of his novels are made into films. The other, Shane Hayes, fails completely, but keeps tenaciously writing, decade after decade, plowing on through hundreds of rejections. Then almost half a century later, Shane contacts Paul, who remembers him, reads three of his books, likes them, and praises them with endorsements.

In writing to agents and publishers Shane could now say, “Query for a novel praised by Paul Theroux.” No one offers a book deal because of an endorsement, so rejections keep coming. But more people let him send at least a sample and are predisposed to see merit in it. At his age, time is crucial. In the month he turns 75, Shane receives contracts on two of his books from different publishers. He will always be grateful to the literary giant who remembered ten days of friendship half-a-lifetime after it ended.

Website: http://www.shanehayes.org/
Blog: http://www.shanehayes.org/blog.html
Twitter: https://twitter.com/ShaneHayes732
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/shane.hayes.9256

Buy the book at Amazon (print)/(digital) or Barnes and Noble (print)/ (digital).

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Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Straight Chatting from the Library: Becky Wicks


This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Becky will be awarding a $50 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

READ THE INTERVIEW


Hi Becky, we want to know you. Can you tell us somethings about you?

Hi! Thanks so much for having me on the blog and for supporting my historical romance, The Day Of The Wave! I'm a freelance writer, in Vancouver right now, but when it rains I'll probably go back to Bali, where I lived on-and-off for the past couple years before this. I have three books published by HarperCollins but now I'm self-published as I love the freedom to control, connect and market for myself. It's an adventure, and hard work too, but lots of fun.

The Day Of The Wave is the name of your book. How did you come up with this name?

It's a story about events following the Boxing Day tsunami, which affected 15 countries on December 26th 2004. I needed a title that wasn't as obvious as 'Tsunami' but was still powerful and memorable. I think The Day Of The Wave might make you wonder what it's all about, and hopefully get you to start turning those pages.

You are an author. I'm assuming that you're reading books. How much do you read in a year?

I wish I had more time to read, honestly, but I try to read at least one book a month. I love all genres, especially autobiographies, books about spirituality and of course, romance novels!

What's your expectation about your book?

I really just want to reach as many people as possible with this story as I feel like it's the one I'm most proud of writing, and self publishing. I had to do a lot of research about the actual 2004 tsunami in order to get my facts straight and to make it believable. I hope I've done the deceased, and the survivors justice because it was really a passion project that I put my heart into. I hope people like it.

Are you hanging out in any social media? Which ones you're using mostly?

I'm kind of obsessed with Twitter (follow me on bex_wicks) and Instagram (beckywicks). Obviously I use Facebook - I live away from home so it's all a great means of communication with the people I love and miss.

What's your all-time Best/Worst Book?

I love The BFG. It stuck with me all these years and I know I'll read it to my kids too. I don't have a worst book, because all books are art and all have been created with passion and care. I think it's important to remember that. It takes a lot of work and bravery to write and publish a book! Authors put themselves out there and these days, that takes bravery!

I've been writing stories on my own since I was a child. Can you give advice to others like me?

It depends on your goals. If you want to be published, make your work as good as you possibly can and approach agents looking for work in your genre. Otherwise, do your research on how to write and sell for Kindle. It's what I did and I'm still enjoying the journey. Whatever happens though, don't stop writing. It's the most important thing a writer can do, at the end of the day, whether you want others to read your work or not!

Do you have/have you had another job besides being an author?

I do a lot of social media monitoring for clients all over the world. I also write freelance travel and lifestyle articles, but not as many as I did. I'm trying to concentrate on books now.

What do your family and friends think about your being an author?

I think they're proud, and I have friends who tell me they're inspired. Not everyone I know reads my work because of course, it doesn't appeal to everyone, but that's the way it goes. I know they're behind me anyway, which is just as great! I'm hugely appreciative of the support I've had for my writing over the years. It keeps me going.

It was so lovely to talking with you. Is there a something you want to add?

Thanks for having me on the blog. I'd just like to add that once you've read The Day Of The Wave, don't forget to email me your reviews to get the bonus chapter! I hope you love it as much as I loved writing it.

READ THE BLURB


Torn apart by the tragedy. Thrown back together ten years later by destiny... Isla and Ben were just sixteen when the Boxing Day tsunami ripped through their beach resort in Thailand. Just days after forming a life-changing bond, both were missing and presumed dead.

Based on real life events, The Day of the Wave is a story of healing, learning to let go, and figuring out when to hold on with everything you have left.

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'Isabella,' I said to the girl in braids behind the computer. She was frantic, tapping away a million miles an hour. A line of people were behind me. All of them were bedraggled and beside themselves, like the cast of a war movie. 'Isabella from England. Izzy. I left her on the beach. Can you look again?'

'We don't have any Isabella's yet, I'm sorry,' she said. I asked a hundred times about Toby, too, and Charlie and Van and Tee, but I always got the same answer.

They'd brought in experts from everywhere - Austria, the Netherlands, Australia, Germany, and all of them I realized quickly were carrying out the gruesome tasks it took to identify the dead. Most of it wasn't even happening behind closed doors. There weren't enough doors.

After a while, no one was bringing the injured in anymore. It was just more bodies and still none of them were Toby. Still none of them were Charlie or Izzy... at least, I didn't think they were. There were panels of photos of the bodies as they were brought in, on the walls. But they were all so horribly deformed. You can't even imagine what water does. People go black, their eyes bulge out of their sockets. The only way to recognize somebody at first is by their jewelry.

They were fingerprinting the corpses, I discovered. They gave them full dental examinations and took X-rays, then they sent the DNA samples away for analysis. It was when I learned they were matching them to a missing-person's list in Phuket that I begged to be taken there, to the International Hospital. I knew more bodies were there. Maybe I'd find Toby there.

I found my mom instead. She'd just flown in and been allowed a transfer. 'My baby,' she cried when she found me, pulling me against her and sobbing. I was sixteen but her words hit hard. I felt like a baby; a useless, helpless, broken baby. Glenn stood solid like a tree behind her. He hugged me too. It was the first and last time he ever did.

We moved to a hotel, where we stayed for two weeks and I made it my job to look out for Sonthi. He was going through the same thing, only he was still searching for twenty people he loved. We played guitar at night. We knew the same Beatles song so we sang together outside, taught ourselves the harmonies to take our minds off all the tragedies. Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away, Now it looks as though they're here to stay, Oh I believe in yesterday.

Even though Sonthi didn't know the meaning of the words, I think they helped us both somehow. The yesterdays we missed were haunting everyone but at least we escaped with our lives.

I went with mom to the councilor, too, but she cried all the way through, and she cried so much at the hotel that I didn't sleep for days. I was a shell. I had no tears left. 'They're gone, they're never coming back,' mom yowled.

'We don't know that!' I yelled at her, but she yowled even more into the walls and the floor and the pillow, while a thousand other people doing the same made even the hotel feel like a funeral parlor.

We got told that DNA breaks down once bodies decompose. The longer we had to wait, the less chance we had of identifying anyone. Eventually I had to say goodbye to Sonthi and everyone at the hospital I'd gotten to know. Our flight was booked; my brother and uncle and Izzy were officially missing, assumed dead. My mom was a pale-faced Martian I didn't know anymore and she hadn't really spoken to me in days. 'Toby, my baby, Toby!,' she wailed into Glenn's expensive shirt as he helped her outside and into the taxi.

I was just about to leave for the airport when the girl in braids came to grab me. 'Ben,' she said, leaning down, putting a hand to my shoulder. I could tell by her face she had bad news. 'We found Isabella, from the UK,' she said as the tears careened down her face. 'There's only one on the list. I'm so sorry.'

It was raining when I got outside. It was a real tropical downfall; the kind of rain that lashes and hurts. I turned my face up to it and let it hit me as the wind howled. I wanted to feel the physical crash of everything that had been breaking my heart. The only thing I felt was how it wasn't rain at all. It felt like my brother and Izzy and Charlie and two hundred thousand other souls were crying.

MEET THE AUTHOR


Becky Wicks is mostly powered by coffee. She had three travel memoirs published by HarperCollins before going the indie route. Her first book in the Starstruck Series, 'Before He Was Famous' recently reached #1 in Amazon's Coming of Age and New Adult & College categories. The second in the series, 'Before He Was Gone', and the third, 'Before He Was A Secret' are both out now along with 'The Day Of The Wave' - a romance based around the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami.

Becky blogs most days at beckywicks.com and always welcomes distractions on Twitter: @bex_wicks (especially if you have cat photos)

Buy the book at Amazon
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25040673-the-day-of-the-wave
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Becky-Wicks-Author/242645109127479?ref=hl
Blog: http://www.beckywicks.com
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/bex_wicks

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Straight Reading from the Library: A Thin Slice of Heaven by p.m. terrell


This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. p.m.terrell will be awarding a Celtic Butterfly Suncatcher similar to the one mentioned in the book, symbolizing both the never-ending cycle of life and the metamorphosis of a butterfly to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

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She had arranged to meet her husband in Northern Ireland for a second honeymoon, but when Charleigh arrives at the remote castle, she receives a message that he won’t be coming—and that he’s leaving her for another woman.

Stranded for the weekend by a snowstorm that has blocked all access to the castle, she finds herself three thousand miles from home in a country she knows nothing about.

She is soon joined by Sean Bracken, the great-grandson of Laird Bracken, the original owner of the castle, and she finds herself falling quickly and madly in love with him. There’s just one problem: he’s dead.

As the castle begins to come alive with secrets from centuries past, she finds herself trapped between parallel worlds. Caught up in a mass haunting, she can no longer recognize the line between the living and the dead. Now she’s discovering that her appearance there wasn’t by accident—and her life is about to change forever.

READ THE REVIEW


This is a charming story from Ms. Terrell. She really made you feel the pain Charleigh went through as her plans to re-ignite her marriage fell apart. And Sean... oh, my... what a wonderful person he is and the love he feels for Charleigh is shared so wonderfully. I don't want to say too much about the plot, because I don't want to give you any spoilers, but just know that the storyline gave this reader shivers...in a good way.

The book is very much a page turner-- I read it in one siting just because I had to find out what happened. It had everything I could ask for in a ghostly romance story! Great job! 4 stars.



READ AN EXCERPT


A movement caught her eye and Charleigh started, whirling around. No one was there. She laughed nervously; no doubt, it had been a bird outside the window, its reflection caught in the mirror. Still, she returned to the door. There was a simple doorknob lock which seemed woefully inept, but she quickly recognized a thick piece of wood standing against the wall as an old-fashioned bar, and slipped it into place. It was better than a deadbolt, she reasoned.

She kicked off her shoes and checked her cell phone again. Finding no reception, she returned to the window and held it aloft until a weak bar appeared.

The phone beeped, causing her to jump, as a text message appeared.

She stared at it, not realizing that she’d been holding her breath until it expelled in a whoosh that left her dizzy.

“Charleigh,” it read, “I can’t do this. I’m not in love with you. I’m in love with someone else.”

“The feckin’ arse.”

The sound of the man’s deep, rich voice startled her and she spun around. No one was there. The bar remained across the door. There were no blind spots in the room; it was circular and plainly, though tastefully, furnished. She strode purposefully to the bathroom. A set of candles blazed on the countertop and though the shadows danced in the corners of the room, she could clearly see that she was alone.

Yet she could not have imagined it. The tone had been resonant and almost gravelly, the timber of a man’s voice upon first arising. The brogue had been both commanding and melodious.

But as her heart stilled and her mind allowed the words in the message to sink in, she realized that Ethan was not coming. He perhaps had never intended to join her. And now she was stuck in Ireland as a snowstorm raged outside her windows, three thousand miles from home.

MEET THE AUTHOR


p.m.terrell is the pen name for Patricia McClelland Terrell, a multi-award-winning, internationally acclaimed author of more than twenty books in five genres: contemporary suspense, historical suspense, romance, computer how-to and non-fiction.

Prior to writing full-time, she founded two computer companies in the Washington, DC Metropolitan Area. Among her clients were the Central Intelligence Agency, United States Secret Service, U.S. Information Agency, and Department of Defense. Her specialties were in white collar computer crimes and computer intelligence, themes that have carried forward to her suspense.

She is also the co-founder of The Book ‘Em Foundation, an organization committed to raising public awareness of the correlation between high crime rates and high illiteracy rates. She is the organizer and chairperson of Book ‘Em North Carolina, an annual event held in the real town of Lumberton, North Carolina, to raise funds to increase literacy and reduce crime. For more information on this event and the literacy campaigns funded by it, visit www.bookemnc.org.

Author’s website: www.pmterrell.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/pmterrell
Blog: www.pmterrell.blogspot.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/author.p.m.terrell

Buy the book at Amazon (paperback), Amazon (Kindle), Barnes and Noble (print), Barnes and Noble (Nook), or Smashwords.

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Thursday, July 23, 2015

Straight Browsing from the Library: The Summer Diary by Elyse Douglas


This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Elyse Douglas will be awarding a $50 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

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After her best friend and husband are killed in an airplane crash, a young woman finds her best friend’s diary and learns that she was secretly in love with another man, a soldier. Determined to find the secret lover, Keri sets off on a journey and discovers the key to her destiny.

READ AN EXCERPT


Keri stopped, hovering on the edge of an absurd thought. Should she try to find Ryan? The thought gave her a sudden electric thrill. She stared down into the sand, seeing the eroded ruins of an old sandcastle that had been punished by the hostile tide.

“Ryan,” she said aloud, the sound instantly swallowed up by the beat of waves striking the beach.

Keri circled the space, gently kicking at the sand castle, mentally kicking at “what ifs.” What if he’d been killed? What if he’d moved away? What if he was married and didn’t want to remember Sophia? What if Sophia hadn’t revealed the whole truth about the relationship because there was some awful truth about him?

And how could she possibly ever locate Ryan without a last name? Sophia had never once mentioned it.

In an instant, Keri knew the decision had already been made: She had to find a way to track down and speak to this man. She whirled and marched back across the beach to where she’d left her chair and the diary. There had to be clues in the diary—had to be phrases that could help her find Ryan. At the very least, she could discover what had happened to him.

MEET THE AUTHOR


Elyse Douglas is the pen name for the married writing team Elyse Parmentier and Douglas Pennington. Elyse grew up near the sea, roaming the beaches, reading and writing stories and poetry, receiving a Degree in English Literature. She has enjoyed careers as an English teacher, an actress and a speech-language pathologist. She and her husband, Douglas Pennington, have completed five novels: The Other Side of Summer, Christmas for Juliet, Wanting Rita, Christmas Ever After, The Christmas Town and The Christmas Diary.

Douglas grew up in a family where music and astrology were second and third languages. He attended the Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music and played the piano professionally for many years. His two detective books include Death is Lookin' for ELVIS and Death is a TAPDANCER. His great, great grandfather lived to be 132 years old, and was the oldest man in the world when he died in 1928.

Website: http://www.elysedouglas.com
Book Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RCbgXr0xXjg
Twitter: https://twitter.com/douglaselyse
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Elyse-Douglas/e/B0080S51TE/

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Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Straight Browsing from the Library: Hungry as a Wolf by Elizabeth Einspanier

MBB_TourBanner_HungryAsAWolf copy

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Elizabeth will award a $25 Amazon/BN gift card to a randomly drawn commenter. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

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MediaKit_BookCover_HungryAsAWolfWolf Cowrie is back in his second adventure! In the Black Hills of the Dakota Territory in 1865, tensions run high between white settlers looking for gold and the Sioux people who consider this region their holy ground. When Wolf is hired to find out what happened to the workers of a mining outpost in the area, the general theory in Goldwater is that they were slaughtered by the Sioux. Wolf discovers something far more sinister lurking in the Black Hills, an ancient evil whose unending hunger drives sane men to ghoulish extremes.

READ AN EXCERPT


Smythe greeted the two men with a horrified look and a startled oath.

“Yar Doc is dead,” Wolf said. “Again. This time I think he might stay down. Ken we come in?”

Smythe backed up, still staring. “You’re… you’re covered in…” he managed to squeak.

“It ain’t mine,” Wolf said, wiping his feet on the welcome mat before walking into the front hall. “Now go get yar master so’s we can give him the good news. And… I need a basin of water to wash up.”

The servant returned a minute later with a pitcher of water and a basin, and Wolf endeavored to scrub his hands and face until his flesh stopped crawling. He was halfway through when Hartford uttered a syllable that made his blood run cold.

“Ma’am.”

Wolf looked up, gory water dripping down his hands and chin, to find Susannah in the doorway. She was staring at him in a mixture of horror and concern, and he was acutely aware of the results of an exploded skull still clinging to him. He swallowed hard, wishing fervently that the ground would just swallow him up right there.

“Miss Twohill,” he greeted her. “I… I took care of the problem ya had running around. He won’t get any more of the townsfolk. Don’t you worry none.”

“What… what happened?” she asked. “Are you…? Did he…?”

“No,” he said. “I ain’t bit. This is just… well... we, ah… blew his... brains out.” He glanced at Hartford for assistance, but the other man was steadfastly looking out the window. The message was clear: he was staying out of this conversation.

MEET THE AUTHOR


MediaKit_AuthorPhoto_HungryAsAWolfElizabeth Einspanier is the self-published author of the Weird Western novella Sheep’s Clothing and the upcoming sci-fi romance novel Heart of Steel. Her short stories have been published in Down in the Dirt and Dark Fire Fiction. She is a member of the St. Louis Writer’s Guild and an associate member of the Horror Writers of America. She lives in St. Louis, but frequently spends extended periods in worlds of her own creation.

http://elizabetheinspanier.com
http://calliopeskiss.blogspot.com
https://twitter.com/GeekGirlWriter
https://plus.google.com/u/0/+ElizabethEinspanier
http://amazon.com/author/elizabetheinspanier

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Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Straight Chatting From the Library: Jeanne Mackin


This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Jeanne will be awarding a $15 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

READ THE INTERVIEW


Tell us about your current book in 10 words.

The Gilded Age, romance in Italy, gardens, choices to make.

What are you reading right now?

Schubert’s Winter Journey: An Anatomy of an Obsession, by Ian Bostridge. Bostridge is a classically trained singer of Lieder – art songs – and his voice is a miracle. The book is a lyrical, gossipy, intensely felt analysis of the songs in Schubert’s song cycle, and every night I read a chapter, and then listen to the song on a C.D. Beatrix Farrand, the main character of my novel, A Lady of Good Family (a real historical figure) trained as a singer before she decided to become a professional garden designer instead – this in a time when even the men in a certain class of family didn’t ‘work.’ Bostridge is helping me make the connection between beauty in songs and beauty in the garden.

E-Reader or print? and why?

I still prefer the printed page over the electronic page. I do write historical fiction, after all! Sometimes I wish I could read by candle or gas light instead of electricity. Keep in mind, that when I was a quilter I did all the stitching by hand rather than by machine. I stopped quilting because my cat used the quilting hoop as a trampoline one night. Fun to watch, but the end of a great hobby!

One book at a time or multiples?

Always multiples. A different book for each mood, and I am a person of far too many moods, I fear. If I’m sad, I read nonfiction. Reality is a great lifeboat for me, it keeps me from wallowing. When I prefer adventure or romance, I go to fiction. To stir up the imagination when it gets sluggish, I keep a volume of poetry going, usually Hopkins or Yeats. I usually have four or five books in progress at the same time.

Dog-ear or bookmark? (don't worry—Librarian Judith won't hold it against you—much)

Neither! I love post-its, those sticky things that come in all colors and shapes. I don’t like to mark in books, and with the sticky things I can both bookmark the page and write comments and questions without marking up the book. And I’m pleased to report that even after having had post-its on the same page for several years they still pull away without tearing the paper. When I taught graduate school one student told me that my advice to use post-its as she read was the most valuable advice she got that year. Don’t quite know how to take that!

Least favorite book you've read this year?

I would never, ever say. Writers need all the support they can get, and it’s mostly personal opinion, right?

When do you do most of your reading?

I like to read in the evening, when everything quiets down, I have a glass of wine, and the day’s work is either finished or pushed aside. I have my favorite chair, soft music in the background, a salt lamp on dim for the positive ions. It’s a lovely, lovely time and it keeps me sane. Well, maybe. Some would argue with that.

Favorite book to recommend?

Back to the mood and genre thing. For readers/writers of historical fiction, I would argue that if you haven’t read Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys you don’t know the true beauty and capability and wonder of the genre. If you need humor, anything by P.G. Wodehouse. Even his name, Pelham Grenville, makes me chuckle…as it did him, hence the initials. For nonfiction, Becky Conekin’s Lee Miller – A Life in Fashion, is a great blend of text and illustration about the life and times of the famous Vogue model. It’s like taking a time trip through the 30’s and 40’s in Paris and London.

What would make you not finish a book?

A good story badly told is, to me, as bad as a failed romance. So much potential! Such a waste! What ruins a story for me, in fiction or nonfiction, is a too-intrusive author, someone whose style is always saying “Look at me! Look at me!” rather than, as an author’s style should ,”Read this story!” Of course, simply not writing well, and by that I mean grammatically and with good pacing, structure and language, turns me against an author. And the real test – depth of perception. When an author just repeats platitudes and phrases and doesn’t even try to show the world or us in a somewhat fresh way, they aren’t worth reading. I used to force myself to finish every book I started, because we writers might learn even more from a bad author as a good one. I don’t do that anymore. I don’t eat garbage, and I don’t read garbage. But every reader has to figure out for herself what she thinks is garbage.

Keep books or give them away?

Books make me realize the concept of limitation and the finite, in terms of space. If I kept every book I read (I’m a very fast and persistent reader) I’d have filled houses and houses by now. The real question is knowing when a book has to go, to make room for others. There’s a real sadness to this process, unless it’s one of the books discussed above, in which case I can’t wait to get rid of it. My town has a fabulous Friends of the Library sale and I figure my cast-offs have earned them a bit of cash!

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Raised among wealth and privilege during America's fabled Gilded Age, a niece of famous novelist Edith Wharton and a friend to literary great Henry James, Beatrix Farrand is expected to marry, and to marry well. But as a young woman traveling through Europe, she already knows that gardens are her true passion. How she becomes a woman for whom work and love, the earthly and the mysterious, are held in delicate balance is the story of her unique determination to create beauty while remaining true to herself.

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1920
Lenox, Massachusetts

My grandparents had a farm outside of Schenectady, and every Sunday my father, who worked in town, would hitch the swayback mare to the buggy and take us out there. I would be left in play in the field as my father and grandfather sat on the porch and drank tea and Grandma cooked. My mother, always dressed a little too extravagantly, shelled the peas.

A yellow barn stood tall and broad against a cornflower blue sky. A row of red hollyhocks in front of the barn stretched to the sky, each flower on the stem as silky and round as the skirt on Thumbelina’s ball gown. In the field next to the barn, daisies danced in the breeze. My namesake flower.

I saw it still, the yellows and red and blues glowing against my closed eyelids. The field was my first garden and I was absolutely happy in it. We usually are, in the gardens of our childhood.

When I opened my eyes I was on a porch in Lenox, a little tired from weeks of travel, a little restless. My companions were restless, too, weary of trying to make polite conversation as strangers do.

It was a late-summer evening, too warm, with a disquieting breeze stirring the treetops as if a giant ghostly hand ruffled them. Through the open window a piano player was tinkling his way through Irving Berlin as young people danced and flirted. In the road that silvered past the inn, young men, those who had made it home from the war, drove up and down in their shiny black Model T’s.

It was a night for thinking of love and loss, first gardens, first kisses.

Mrs. Avery suggested we try the Ouija board. Since the war it had become a national obsession.

“Let’s,” I agreed eagerly.

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Jeanne Mackin ‘s latest novel, A Lady of Good Family, explores the secret life of gilded age Beatrix Jones Farrand, niece of Edith Wharton and the first woman professional landscape design in America. Her previous novel, The Beautiful American, based on the life of model turned war correspondent and photographer, Lee Miller won the CNY 2015 prize for fiction. She has published in American Letters and Commentary and SNReview and other publications and is the author of the Cornell Book of Herbs and Edible Flowers. She was the recipient of a creative writing fellowship from the American Antiquarian Society and her journalism has won awards from the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education. She lives with her husband, Steve Poleskie, in Ithaca.

Twitter: https://twitter.com/jeannemackin1
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JeanneMackinAuthor
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/36613.Jeanne_MacKin

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Straight Browsing from the Library: A Time for Everything by Mysti Parker

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This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. The author will be awarding a $10 Amazon/BN gift card to a randomly drawn commenter via Rafflecopter. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

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MediaKit_BookCover_ATimeForEverythingAfter losing her husband and only child to the ravages of the Civil War, twenty-five-year-old Portia McAllister is drowning in grief. When she sees an ad for a live-in tutor in another town, she leaves everything behind in hopes of making a fresh start. But as a Confederate widow in a Union household, she is met with resentment from her new charge and her employer, war veteran Beau Stanford.

Despite their differences, she and Beau find common ground and the stirrings of a second chance at love—until his late wife’s cousin, Lydia, arrives with her sights set on him. Burdened with a farm on the brink of bankruptcy, Beau is tempted by Lydia’s hefty dowry, though Portia has captured his heart.

In another time and another place, his choice would be easy. But love seems impossible amid the simmering chaos of Reconstruction that could boil over at any moment into an all-out battle for survival. Will Beau and Portia find their way into each other’s arms, or will they be swept away by raging forces beyond their control?

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“Goodbye, Frank.” The words were just as difficult as she imagined.

The buggy lurched forward. Frank raised his hand in farewell, standing there in the dim lamp-lit shadows of early morning. Legs twitching, she had a sudden inclination to jump out and run after him. Maybe he was right to be worried, and maybe she was being unrealistic. Good Christian women didn’t leave home and hearth when life turned sour. The great Psalmist himself said, “The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.”

They rounded a corner and she couldn’t see Frank anymore. She sat back in the padded seat and let out a sigh. Funny how Bible verses still lectured her when she had no faith left to back them. If she was anything, it wasn’t contrite. She had neither asked for nor wanted this life God had thrust upon her. He could go be nigh unto someone else and leave her be for all she cared.

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MediaKit_AuthorPhoto_ATimeForEverythingMysti Parker is a wife, mom, author, and shameless chocoholic. She is the author of the Tallenmere standalone fantasy romance series and The Roche Hotel romantic comedy series. Her short writings have appeared in numerous anthologies and magazines. Her award-winning historical romance, A Time for Everything, will be published this summer by EsKape Press.

Other writing pursuits include serving as a class mentor in Writers Village University's seven week online course, F2K. She has published two children's books (Quentin's Problem & Fuzzy Buzzy's Treasure) as Misty Baker.

When she's not writing fiction,Mysti reviews books for SQ Magazine, an online specfic publication. She resides in Buckner, KY with her husband and three children.

Website: http://www.mystiparker.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Mysti-Parker/103786449704221
Twiter: https://twitter.com/MystiParker

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