Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Straight Chatting from the Library: Lisa Diane Kastner

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Lisa Diane Kastner will be awarding a $50, a $25 and a $10 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winners (three winners) via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.


What is the favorite book you remember as a child?

I loved the Count of Monte Cristo. I loved it so much that when we had to do an oral book report on it, I winged it and animatedly recited the story.

What is your favorite book today?

Ohh … I’m only allowed one? Eep. I can’t really name one. I’ll name one of them – Junot Diaz. The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao was sheer genius. I savored each and every page. I loved the side comments as footnotes. They really brought the story to life.

What books do you have on hold at the library?

I tend to buy my books either new or at a used book store.

Do you have any bad book habits?

Bad book habits? I tend to read a book and then put it down for a while. Pick up another book, put it down for a while, and so on. That said, I always pick it back up and finish it.

E-Reader or print? and why?

Both. Sometimes I find a book and I really just need to have the printed version in my hands. I have an eReader because when I travel it’s much easier to download a bunch of books and dive into the stories.

One book at a time or multiples?

Multiple. More fun that way. I get to jump among worlds. How fun.

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

Both. Depends on if I have something to use as a bookmark.

Favorite book you've read this year?

The Book Thief.

When do you do most of your reading?

On a plane, on the couch. I don’t typically read before going to bed unless I’m really enthralled in a book. Otherwise, I’ll just fall asleep (not due to anything wrong with the story. Only because I’m pretty exhausted.)

Favorite place to read?

On my front porch with a steaming cup of coffee.

Favorite genre?BR>
Cross genre – lots of magical realism as of late.

Do you loan your books?

I give my books away. The best gift you can give someone is a great story.


Lauren has a dead end job as a waitress at the Oaklyn Diner. She becomes ecstatic when the diner is chosen to be the focal point of an upcoming movie, *Jersey Diner,* starring Jonathan Pearce. When filming ends she moves to California to start a new life with him. Lauren quickly discovers that all that she thought was real and true are in question.


“Here’s a copy of the script, read through it and then go over the scenes with the girl.”

“I can try. I never acted so I don’t know how much of a help I’ll be.”

He plopped it into my arms. The script weighed more than a stacked tray.

“This isn’t about acting. It’s about realism. That’s why we need your help. You’re a real waitress and this one just doesn’t get it.” He smirked. “If I could get ten cents for every time one of these actresses thought they could feel their way through a part. I’d be a zillionaire. Then give me a dime for every time they were wrong. Oh. I’d be …” He stopped. “Start reading.”

I had opened the cover and started flipping through the pages.

“Good. I knew you’d be the right person for the job. We’ll pay you for your time. You can be our ‘Resident Expert on Serving.’ Ya know, like a martial arts expert.”



Lisa is a former correspondent for the Philadelphia Theatre Review and Features Editor for the Picolata Review, her short stories have appeared in magazines and journals such as StraightJackets Magazine and HESA Inprint. In 2007 Kastner was featured in the Fresh Lines @ Fresh Nine, a public reading hosted by Gross McCleaf Art Gallery.

She founded Running Wild Writers and is the former president of Pennwriters, Inc. (www.pennwriters.com). She received her MFA in Creative Writing from Fairfield University, her MBA from Pennsylvania State and her BS from Drexel University (She’s definitely full of it). Her novel THE KEEPER OF LOST THINGS was shortlisted in the fiction category of the William Faulkner Words and Wisdom Award and her memoir BREATHE was a semi-finalist in the nonfiction category of the same award.

Lisa presented at a TEDx in Seattle on The Power of Connecting. And presented at the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) on the “You Sent Us What?” panel.

Born and raised in Camden, New Jersey The Redness migrated to Philadelphia in her twenties and eventually transported to Los Angeles, California with her partner-in-crime and ever-talented husband. They nurture two felonious felines who anxiously encourage and engage in little sparks of anarchy.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/fieryredone
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/lisadkastner
Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/60shadesofred
Website: http://lisadianekastner.com

Buy the book for only $0.99 at Amazon.


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Monday, May 22, 2017

Straight Browsing from the Library: The Debra Holt Books

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Ms. Holt will be awarding a $10 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.


Fighting for his life after an ambush, Sheriff Josh Wellman awakes to find himself looking into the eyes of a real-life angel of mercy. Despite his groggy condition, he knows his life has changed the instant their hands touch. Devastating heartbreak has left Mercy Smith's faith in tatters, her heart guarded against more loss. Her dedication to the air evac trauma team she leads has insulated her from the realities of the earth below, so now Josh faces the biggest challenge of his life. Can he find a way around the walls that fortify her heart and convince this angel to stay on the ground with him? Can Mercy open herself to life again and find a way to restore her faith in God ... as well as love?

J.D. Sterling shook the dirt of the small Texas town from his boot heels a dozen years before. Now, he’s returned… not as the poor country boy who left to follow his dream, but as country music’s sexy superstar. He has everything he always wanted except for the girl who holds his heart. Mandy.

Years come and go and people change. Amanda Lawson has grown up. From heartbreak and struggling to survive to becoming a successful businesswoman, she has taught herself to never look back. Once before, she had survived the wild, green-eyed cowboy with only a guitar to his name and a pocketful of dreams. Then he left her behind with nothing but his hollow vows and a shattered heart.

Mandy was his muse. J.D. was her dream. But tragedy and broken vows can be insurmountable obstacles. Can they find their way home to each other again… or is it too late?

"Sheriff's Department! Raise your hands above your head and don't move."

She’s a runaway bride who left her two-timing fiance at the altar. He’s a county sheriff determined to keep the peace in his country and leave city girls alone after his own fiance left him for the bright lights of the city. Neither of them planned on running straight into each other...over a burning wedding dress.

Ellie and Lucas planned on never trusting their hearts to love again. When danger follows her from the city, the sheriff must do his duty to protect her. However, it isn’t long before he discovers the real danger may be to his heart. Ellie just might teach him that even a city girl can be a country girl at heart.


She ventured a quick look but didn’t see a wedding ring. That meant nothing—many men didn’t wear rings. Her David would not have worn one either. He’d often said a ring would only get lost when he removed it to do surgery. The dark cloud of remembrance jolted her back to reality. Her job was done; she passed her patient over to the trauma team. There was no need for her to stay. With a last look at the man currently the focus of everyone’s attention, Mercy stepped outside the room. Her steps faltered as she realized that she’d automatically send a brief request on his behalf to whatever power the man might believe in; a request that the trauma specialists behind her would be able to use their combined expertise to keep him in this world for those who loved and needed him.

“Three minutes out. Descent begins in one.” The pilot’s voice crackled through the headset as he tossed a look over his shoulder to Mercy, strapped into the jump sear. She responded with a quick thumbs-up. “They’ve secured the scene,” he added. “We’re in and out fast. There’s only one to transport.” A dull, leaden weight sank to the pit of her stomach. Mercy Smith knew his words meant the other injured person had died before their arrival. “We can’t save them all, Mercy.” Paul Robards, the second medic onboard and seated across from her, responded to the shadowed look that crossed her face. “Some things are out of our control.”


Born and raised in the Lone Star state of Texas, Debra grew up among horses, cowboys, wide open spaces, and real Texas Rangers. Pride in her state and ancestry knows no bounds and it is these heroes and heroines she loves to write about the most. She also draws upon a variety of life experiences including working with abused children, caring for baby animals at a major zoo, and planning high-end weddings (ah, romance!).

When she isn’t busy writing about tall Texans and feisty heroines, she can be found cheering on her Texas Tech Red Raiders, or heading off on another cruise adventure. She read her first romance...Janet Dailey's Fiesta San Antonio, over thirty years ago and became hooked on the genre. Writing contemporary romances, is both her passion and dream come true, and she hopes her books will bring smiles...and sighs...to all who believe in happily-ever-after’s.

Debra invites you to visit her website at http://www.debraholtbooks.com. She loves to hear from other aspiring authors or readers via email at debraholtbooks@gmail.com.

Twitter: https://twitter.com/DebraHoltBooks
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DebraHoltBooks


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Friday, May 19, 2017

Straight Browsing from the Library: Social media Just for Writers by Frances Caballo

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Frances Caballo 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.


You wrote your book and sold copies to everyone you know. But you have goals that extend beyond a few dozen copies sold.

How do you achieve your dream of selling books around the world? With social media, you can build your platform and reach readers in locales you never imaged possible before.

In this book, you’ll learn how to:

• Create a Facebook fan page and actively engage with your readers.
• Optimize your LinkedIn profile.
• Tackle Instagram, Tumblr, and Snapchat.
• Build and optimize Pinterest pinboards for SEO to maximize exposure of your books, blog, and other landing pages.
• Improve your blogging.
• Excel on Twitter.
• Create images for your blog and social media posts.

The second edition of Social Media Just for Writers is both a primer for authors new to social media and an advanced study of platforms that weren’t widely known four years ago. Whether you write romance, historical fiction, young adult, or steam punk novels, you’ll find help in reaching your online audience of new and dedicated readers.


Among all the rules you’ll find online – the 80/20 rule (only 20% of your posts should be about your books or blog posts while 80% of your posts should contain content from other sources), the admonitions against using social media as a bullhorn, the warnings about over automating – there’s also an unspoken tenet.

This tenet isn’t a rule that comes up on the blogosphere. Instead, it’s more of a system of approach and an acronym that I created while preparing for the San Francisco Writers Conference.

If you follow the approach I’m about to explain, you can be sure that the time you spend on social media will generate the type of engagement with readers that you want to have.

Once you start to use social media, be prepared to CARE about people. I know that it seems evident to care about people online but give me a moment to break down the acronym.

• C - Communicate with your readers.
• A - Answer your readers’ questions.
• R - Relate to your readers.
• E - Educate with stellar content.

And most of all simply care about people.

Joanna Penn devised the term social karma. As she explains it, if you want book sales, buy books. If you want book reviews, write reviews for all of the books you read. If you want people to like your Facebook page or follow you on Twitter, like your readers’ and friends’ Facebook pages and follow them on Twitter.

Reciprocate actions. And just as you might offer money to a homeless stranger, smile at a person walking down the street, or invite a new family from your church over for tea or dinner, take the types of actions online that will help you to get to know the people who follow you and want to connect with you.

In other words, be kind online. Be inquisitive. Be responsive. Be open to meeting people and revealing parts of your life.

Let’s look more closely at CARE.


Frances Caballo is an author and social media strategist and manager for writers. She’s a regular speaker at the San Francisco Writers Conference. In addition, she’s a contributing writer at TheBookDesigner.com, and blogger and Social Media Expert for BookWorks. She’s written several social media books including The Author’s Guide to Goodreads and Social Media in 30 Minutes a Day. Her focus is on helping authors surmount the barriers that keep them from flourishing online, building their platform, finding new readers, and selling more books. Her clients include authors of every genre and writers’ conferences.

WEBSITE: http://www.socialmediajustforwriters.com
FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/FrancesCaballoAuthor/
PINTEREST: https://www.pinterest.com/fcaballo/social-media-just-for-writers
TWITTER: https://twitter.com/CaballoFrances


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Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Straight Reading from the Library: Man Down by Tracy Tappan

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Tracy Tappan will be awarding one *authentic* military "LCDR Jason 'Casanova' Vanderby" coffee mug, one scented sachet (for the panty drawer) with MAN DOWN cover, one Hershey's chocolate bar, and one Wings of Gold bookmark to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour (US ONLY). Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.


Book 3 in Wings of Gold (standalone novel):

After being shot down by the Taliban on a Special Operations mission, a Navy pilot and Navy SEAL rescue a beautiful humanitarian doctor. While the three of them evade capture in a race for their lives across northern Pakistan, the two former boyhood friends heal a 10-year breach, and the pilot and doctor find a way to let go of their painful pasts to find love.

Content guidelines: Contains profanity and adult situations. Sensitive readers might find a scene depicting the death of a pet upsetting.


Well, that was one heck of an intro to author Tracy Tappan!  I'm a fan of action-packed romance stories, so was excited to give this a try.  It's apparently book three of a series, but I didn't feel like I was missing anything at all.  I do think, however, that I'll be heading back and trying the first couple of books.

We're thrown right into the action with hell week for SEAL training.  I gotta admit, even just reading about it was hard. I can't imagine actually going through it.  Our guys are tough!  Shane and Jason are great guys, and I have to admit, I wasn't entirely sold that what split up their lifelong friendship was something that actually would have done so.  It seemed like a small thing for such close friends.  What they went through as kids welded them tightly together.  Still, that's a small niggle in a really good book.

Ms. Tappan knows how to torture her characters for sure. My heart aches for the boy Jason was. His father was unbelievably horrible.  It was quite possibly the worst child abuse I've ever read about that didn't leave so much as a physical scratch or bruise. No ... his method was worse, I think.

And Farrin?  I can't imagine being in an arranged marriage as a teenaged girl ... especially not to a sixty year old man.  Her life, while perhaps not as abusive as Jason's, was still scarring.  She's such a strong woman to have come through it so well.

The first half of this book is all action, except for a few flashbacks to show us what exactly our characters went through as kids.  Jason, Shane and Farrin are fleeing the Taliban and the odds are not exactly in their favor.

Man Down is a page-turner.  Yes, there is a romance, but ultimately I think it was more about seeing Jason and Farrin (and to a lesser degree, Shane) grow and change.  I was so pleased how Farrin reacted to something at the end of the book (no spoilers here!) and the ending was so sweet, my teeth ached.  There's a lead in to the next book a bit, too.  So glad Shane gets his story!

Yes, I enjoyed the story. Sure, I had a few quibbles, but I never for a moment wanted to stop reading. In fact, even though my life is crazy busy, I made it through this book in just two days.  High praise, indeed, and it earns a solid 4 stars.  I really enjoyed it!

Jason planted a boot on the bed and hoisted himself up level with one of a string of windows lining the upper wall of the post-op ward. He hadn’t really expected to see anything when he shoved aside the curtain to verify the security of the front gate, but—

The gate was wide open, and through it was pouring a boatload of men!

“Taliban!” Jason snarled over his shoulder at Shane. “About fifty or sixty men, incoming.”

“Shit!” Shane bit out. “We need to set up a firing position. Pick off squirters as they arrive.” He tried to heft himself to a sitting position but didn’t make it.

“With you still seeing cross-eyed? Negative.” Jason jumped off the bed. “Besides, there are too many tangoes.” Who would cover the space between the front gate and this medical tent in about three minutes. “We need to hide, then get the hell out of here.” As soon as fifty backs are turned.

He scanned the room for hiding places. His vision fell on a six-foot-tall cabinet pushed against the wall at the end of one row of beds and set next to a crude nurse’s station. He raced to the cabinet and wrenched open the double doors. Shelves on one side and—yes!—closet space for white lab coats on the other. Hurrying over to Shane, he grabbed two fistfuls of the man’s hospital gown, yanking so hard to get him up, the ties snapped off the back of the gown and the material tore away. Jason stumbled backward, the hospital gown in his hands, leaving a naked and pissed-looking Shane on the gurney.

If Jason had been a woman, he would’ve been impressed. Your friend is packed with solid muscle, Farrin had said. But a quick check of her showed her still pale and distracted.

He charged back over. “Come on!” Looping one of Shane’s arms over his neck, he hauled him off the gurney.

Shane’s IV bag tumbled down to his knees, bobbing on its rubber line.

Jason ripped the needle out of Shane’s wrist while Farrin observed in horror. Sorry, but I don’t have time to follow AMA nursing standards right now. He hustled Shane over to the cabinet and maneuvered him into the coat side. “If it’s me, I’ll knock.” He thrust the H&K 416 rifle into Shane’s hands. “Anybody else opens this door, start firing. And don’t,” he ordered sharply, “pass out while you’re in there.” Sweat beads as big as matchstick heads were already standing out on Shane’s brow.

Jason shut the door, then grabbed his own rifle and the two packs out from under the gurney.

Foreign voices drawing close…


Tracy is the bestselling and award-winning author of gritty romance, her books spanning genres across paranormal (The Community Series), military romantic suspense (The Wings of Gold Series), and medieval historical (The Baron’s War Trilogy). She is married to a former Navy helicopter pilot who served his country for thirty years. During their tours of duty, they lived all over the United States and in Europe, enjoying seven years overseas in the diplomatic community, first in Rome then in Madrid, before settling back in San Diego. She has a master’s degree in Marriage, Family, Child Counseling (MFCC), volunteers for the USO and Wounded Warrior program, and raised Guide Dog puppies.

She loves to play tennis, enjoys a great glass of wine, and talks to her two Labradors like they are humans (admittedly, the wine drinking and the dog talking probably go together). Her website is a fount of information and sexy fun. http://www.tracytappan.com

Social networking links:
Website: http://tracytappan.com/
Facebook: Tracy Tappan Romance Author http://on.fb.me/1hs0Z3L
MAN DOWN Book Group: http://goo.gl/HB5YT6
Twitter: @TracyTappan
Instagram: Tracy Tappan Romance Author

Buy links:
Amazon: https://goo.gl/j42GZv
Amazon UK: https://goo.gl/fn9SjF
iBooks: https://goo.gl/6rvIYz
Kobo: https://goo.gl/W5KxiG

** FREE to readers in Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited program (as a part of normal subscription fees):
Amazon: https://goo.gl/pq5hzR

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Straight Browsing from the Library: The Devil Orders Takeout by Bill A. Brier

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. The author is awarding a randomly drawn commenter a $25 Amazon/BN GC. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.


A tax attorney with integrity...a powerful mobster determined to bend his will...

Grayson Bolt isn't about to compromise his integrity to help a notorious crime boss escape the cross-hairs of the IRS. But there's a steep price to pay for defying The Man--Grayson's beloved wife and older son.

There's only one way for Grayson to prevent his younger son, Jim, an innocent golf prodigy, from also being taken out: play a dangerous game of cat and mouse. And what will Jim be forced to do when the woman he loves gets ensnarled in a web of betrayal and deceit?


“I’m afraid you’re going to get it hard, Mr. Bolt.” Costanzo had that fatherly tone of this will hurt me more than you. “Did you ever stop to think that there’s only one way of being dead, but many ways of dying?”

Grayson felt something cold touch his spine, all the way down. “I don’t follow.”

“Take your man Stockard. He killed two of your beloved family members, wife and eldest son. Isn’t that right?”

A strangling tightness gripped Grayson’s throat. “That— that’s right.”

“Wouldn’t you say a part of you died too?”

“What’s your point?” Grayson’s voice erupted in suppressed panic.

“You don’t have to die to feel dead. I’m going to kill your other son. That’ll be your punishment.”

The blood drained from Grayson’s face. Just like that. Most people held the basic principle that no man should be punished for the deed of another. Costanzo was not one of them. Grayson would be cut right to the bone, and his son would be the sharpest knife Costanzo could use. Costanzo had spelled out the thought in invisible brushstrokes. It was there and Grayson had tried not to see it.


Bill grew up in California and went to Hollywood High School, then served in the Air Force as a combat cameraman.

After hiring on at Disney Studios as a film loader, he soon advanced and moved on to other film studios.

He earned a master’s degree in psychology. A big help when working with Trumpish Hollywood producers. You're fired!

During his more than twenty-five years in the movie business as a cameraman, film editor, and general manager, Bill worked on everything from the hilarious, The Love Bug, to the creepy, The Exorcist, to the far out, Star Trek and Battle Star Galactica.

Eight years ago, Bill switched from reading scripts to writing thriller/mysteries and driving racecars. After completing three award-winning novels, he signed with Black Opal Books. His first novel, The Devil Orders Takeout, is about a devoted father and husband who makes a deal with a real-life devil to protect his golf-prodigy son after his wife and older son are killed in a mysterious accident — and pays hell for it.

Bill’s second mystery, The Killer Who Hated Soup, is Book One in the 1950s The Killer Who series, and it launches this Summer. The Internet? Never heard of it. Smart phones? Who you kiddin’?

Energetic and eager to make his mark on what Time magazine called the next great boom town, Bucky Ontario leaves his daddy and little sister in Louisiana and rides a bus to Defiance, Oklahoma, a town not particularly adverse to murders, just the embarrassment of them when committed by high officials.

Book Two, The Killer who Wasn’t There, will be on bookshelves this fall.

Bill writes every day and golfs infrequently (that damn right knee!). His five children and eight grandchildren keep him busy going to birthday parties, and he never misses a one!

The Brier Patch is Bill’s wildly entertaining blog about his shameless early days in Hollywood. It’s on his website along with a contest linked to The Devil Orders Takeout, which will award the grand prizewinner $1,000.

Bill is a member of Mystery Writers of America.

Interview: http://happyeverafter.usatoday.com/2017/04/24/bill-a-brier-interview-the-devil-orders-takeout/

Website: http://www.billbrier.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Bill-A-Brier-Author-1651581281813646/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/billbrier
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16577326.Bill_A_Brier


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Monday, May 15, 2017

Straight Chatting from the Library: Behind the Mask

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. The authors 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 banners to see the other stops on the tour.


BIO: Ziggy Schutz is a young queer writer living on the west coast of Canada. She's been a fan of superheroes almost as long as she's been writing, so she's very excited this is the form her first published work took. When not writing, she can often be found stage managing local musicals and mouthing the words to all the songs. Ziggy can be found at @ziggytschutz, where she's probably ranting about representation in fiction.

What is the favorite book you remember as a child?

I read Lord of the Rings at quite a young age, and I just remember being in awe. I didn't know you could make made up words with that many details, it felt so vast and exciting.

Do you have any bad book habits?

I'm an all or nothing reader. I pick a book up, and I either read the whole thing or I put it down and don't come back to it for months. Even if I love it! I stash it away somewhere like a squirrel hiding food for the winter.

Favorite book you've read this year?

I read C.B. Lee's Not Your Sidekick and had so much fun with it. It read like a comic book, and it was such a cool world and such a great origin story. Also, it was a story with people like me! Bisexual girls coming of age and into their superpowers? That was teenage me's goals, honestly.

Can you tell I like superheroes?

Favorite place to read?

On transit. I've usually got at least two books in my bag and another few on my phone. I take the bus a lot, and often find myself looking forward to longer bus rides because it means I get to sit and read and not have to worry about the stuff that needs doing at home.

Favorite genre?

Fantasy is where I grew up, and it's what I keep coming back to, whether it be high fantasy or urban fantasy or the fantastical-but-not-technically-fantasy world of superheroes and mutants and the like.

Lately I've been branching out, looking more for books with good queer representation above all else, or just diverse casts in general. Got tired of reading books where magic was commonplace but someone liking someone of the same gender was too outlandish to look for, you know? Still love some good fantasy, but it's got to have solid representation in it for me to really be engaged.

Do you loan your books?

At this point, I'm practically a miniature library. I'm always recommending books and shoving them into my friends' hands. There's even a few books I have multiple copies of, because I lent them out and then rebought them and then got the lent book back. I have a little notebook where I try to keep track of who has what, and my only rule is you've gotta discuss the book with me after. The easiest way to find reading buddies is to make your own, right?

Favorite book to recommend?

Right now, it's probably Six of Crows. I just finished my second read through of the duology, and the writing is so tight, the characters are so brilliant and real and unpredictable... It's a fantasy heist story. What's not to like about that?

I also shove Tamora Pierce's stuff into the hands of anyone who didn't grow up reading her. She was such an important part of my own childhood, and I still catch myself using a skill and being like 'hey, I learned this from one of Tamora Pierce's books.'

How do you keep your books organized?

I used to work at a bookstore, so my books were all properly arranged by author's last name, and I would get stressed when they weren't. Then I realized that was a silly way to live, and redid all our bookshelves into a big rainbow. It's very aesthetically pleasing, and it means I can trust people other than myself to put books back, too.

"Where does this one go?"

"Oh, just stick it with the other orange ones!"

Re-reader or not?

I often read my favourite books over and over again. With the best ones, I'm still discovering new stuff even after my third, fourth time through. Also, there's something so comforting, almost like coming home to old friends.


Behind the Mask is a multi-author collection with stories by award-winning authors Kelly Link, Cat Rambo, Carrie Vaughn, Seanan McGuire, Lavie Tidhar, Sarah Pinsker, Keith Rosson, Kate Marshall, Chris Large and others. It is partially, a prose nod to the comic world—the bombast, the larger-than-life, the save-the-worlds and the calls-to-adventure. But it’s also a spotlight on the more intimate side of the genre. The hopes and dreams of our cape-clad heroes. The regrets and longings of our cowled villains. That poignant, solitary view of the world that can only be experienced from behind the mask.


It's been ten months since Pen's concussion, and she's pinned underneath some concrete. Her helmet and mask are gone-must have been knocked off when the giant lizard thing they were fighting flung her several blocks with its surprisingly quick tail. The sun is at just the wrong angle, or maybe that's her head, because no matter how she twists, it's still shining right in her eyes. Her head is already feeling strange, like it isn't attached to her body quite right, and if Pen could feel pain, she's pretty sure she'd be hurting right now.

Well, her body is getting crushed by the remnants of what looks like a wall of the library, so she'd be hurting regardless. That's beside the point.

It takes her longer than it should to find her voice, and her chest clenches at the thought of having to start over, of new holes in her vocabulary when she's just started to patch the old ones. But after a few moments of struggling, a strangled "Help!" leaves her lips, and within the minute, Davie is standing over her.

"Pen?" He's shaken enough that he forgets to use her codename. It's okay. There's no one around. "Don't worry, we'll get you out of there, okay? Hold on."

Whether by accident or design, Davie stands in the light as he works, grabbing gears and other bits of metal from the various pockets hidden in his suit. Pen loves watching technopaths work, and Davie's the best she's ever seen. Her panic fades away, leaving her more than a little embarrassed, because this is nowhere she hasn't been before. Just not since the injury.

"I didn't realize it was you at first," Davie says as he guides his creation to where it will have the best leverage to lift the rubble enough for Pen to get out from under it. "I wasn't aware that 'help' was in your vocabulary."

Privately, Pen didn't think it had been, either. She can't ever remember saying it out loud before. It doesn't feel as shameful as she thought it would.

Out loud, she groans, "Less talking, more lifting, little brother."

But her mask is gone, so there's nothing to hide her proud grin.

The fight does make her lose a few things. But no more than the sirens and flashing lights did that night she walked home without her shades. It's predictable: this two steps forward, one step back. Aggravating, but it no longer feels like her world is falling out from under her every time she has a bad day. That's what progress feels like, right? Like finding balance in a mess. Like finding new words under the rubble.

Pen stops thinking about "getting things back to normal" and starts thinking about what she can do to feel better, what she can do to be better. Even if better looks different than it used to.


Kate Marshall lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and several small agents of chaos disguised as a dog, cat, and child. She works as a cover designer and video game writer. Her fiction has appeared in Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Crossed Genres, and other venues, and her YA survival thriller I Am Still Alive is forthcoming from Viking. You can find her online at katemarshallwrites.com.

Chris Large writes regularly for Aurealis Magazine and has had fiction published in Australian speculative fiction magazines and anthologies. He's a single parent who enjoys writing stories for middle-graders and young adults, and about family life in all its forms. He lives in Tasmania, a small island at the bottom of Australia, where everyone rides Kangaroos and says 'G'day mate!' to utter strangers.

Stuart Suffel's body of work includes stories published by Jurassic London, Evil Girlfriend Media, Enchanted Conversation: A Fairy Tale Magazine, Kraxon Magazine, and Aurora Wolf among others. He exists in Ireland, lives in the Twilight Zone, and will work for Chocolate Sambuca Ice cream. Twitter: @stuartsuffel

Michael Milne is a writer and teacher originally from Canada, who lived in Korea and China, and is now in Switzerland. Not being from anywhere anymore really helps when writing science fiction. His work has been published in The Sockdolager, Imminent Quarterly, and anthologies on Meerkat Press and Gray Whisper.

Adam R. Shannon is a career firefighter/paramedic, as well as a fiction writer, hiker, and cook. His work has been shortlisted for an Aeon award and appeared in Morpheus Tales and the SFFWorld anthology You Are Here: Tales of Cryptographic Wonders. He and his wife live in Virginia, where they care for an affable German Shepherd, occasional foster dogs, a free-range toad, and a colony of snails who live in an old apothecary jar. His website and blog are at AdamRShannon.com.

Jennifer Pullen received her doctorate from Ohio University and her MFA from Eastern Washington University. She originally hails from Washington State. Her fiction and poetry have appeared or are upcoming in journals including: Going Down Swinging (AU), Cleaver, Off the Coast, Phantom Drift Limited, and Clockhouse.

Stephanie Lai is a Chinese-Australian writer and occasional translator. She has published long meandering thinkpieces in Peril Magazine, the Toast, the Lifted Brow and Overland. Of recent, her short fiction has appeared in the Review of Australian Fiction, Cranky Ladies of History, and the In Your Face Anthology. Despite loathing time travel, her defence of Dr Who companion Perpugilliam Brown can be found in Companion Piece (2015). She is an amateur infrastructure nerd and a professional climate change adaptation educator (she's helping you survive our oncoming climate change dystopia). You can find her on twitter @yiduiqie, at stephanielai.net, or talking about pop culture and drop bears at no-award.net.

Aimee Ogden is a former biologist, science teacher, and software tester. Now she writes stories about sad astronauts and angry princesses. Her poems and short stories have appeared in Asimov's, Fantasy & Science Fiction, Daily Science Fiction, Baen.com, Persistent Visions, and The Sockdolager.Kate Marshall lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and several small agents of chaos disguised as a dog, cat, and child. She works as a cover designer and video game writer. Her fiction has appeared in Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Crossed Genres, and other venues, and her YA survival thriller I Am Still Alive is forthcoming from Viking. You can find her online at katemarshallwrites.com.

Nathan Crowder is a Seattle-based fan of little known musicians, unpopular candy, and just happens to write fantasy, horror, and superheroes. His other works include the fantasy novel Ink Calls to Ink, short fiction in anthologies such as Selfies from the End of the World, and Cthulhurotica, and his numerous Cobalt City superhero stories and novels. He is still processing the death of David Bowie.

Sarah Pinsker is the author of the 2015 Nebula Award winning novelette "Our Lady of the Open Road." Her novelette "In Joy, Knowing the Abyss Behind" was the 2014 Sturgeon Award winner and a 2013 Nebula finalist. Her fiction has been published in magazines including Asimov's, Strange Horizons, Lightspeed, Fantasy & Science Fiction, and Uncanny, among others, and numerous anthologies. Her stories have been translated into Chinese, French, Spanish, Italian, and Galician. She is also a singer/songwriter with three albums on various independent labels and a fourth forthcoming. She lives in Baltimore, Maryland with her wife and dog. She can be found online at sarahpinsker.com and twitter.com/sarahpinsker.

Carrie Vaughn is best known for her New York Times bestselling series of novels about a werewolf named Kitty, who hosts a talk radio show for the supernaturally disadvantaged, the fourteenth installment of which is Kitty Saves the World. She's written several other contemporary fantasy and young adult novels, as well as upwards of 80 short stories. She's a contributor to the Wild Cards series of shared world superhero books edited by George R. R. Martin and a graduate of the Odyssey Fantasy Writing Workshop. An Air Force brat, she survived her nomadic childhood and managed to put down roots in Boulder, Colorado. Visit her at www.carrievaughn.com.

Cat Rambo lives, writes, and teaches atop a hill in the Pacific Northwest. Her 200+ fiction publications include stories in Asimov’s, Clarkesworld Magazine, and The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. She is an Endeavour, Nebula, and World Fantasy Award nominee. Her second novel, Hearts of Tabat, appears in early 2017 from Wordfire Press. She is the current President of the Fantasy and Science Fiction Writers of America. For more about her, as well as links to her fiction, see http://www.kittywumpus.net

Keith Frady writes weird short stories in a cluttered apartment in Atlanta. His work has appeared in Love Hurts: A Speculative Fiction Anthology, Literally Stories, The Yellow Chair Review, and The Breakroom Stories.

Book Page: http://meerkatpress.com/books/behind-the-mask-a-superhero-anthology/#mbt-book-purchase-anchor
Publisher: http://www.meerkatpress.com


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Straight Browsing from the Library: The Call House by C.P. Stiles

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. The author 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.


A war on vice In Washington, DC—a city constantly awash in scandals? Hard to believe, but it really happened. Only not exactly the way it’s told here.

All Mattie Simon knows is that she wants adventure and her hometown doesn’t have any. She wants independence, maybe some romance. All Andrew Stevens wants is to do his job as a newly-elected congressman.

But Washington has a way of changing people—even when they get what they want.

Fast-paced and funny, The Call House takes you back to a time of relative innocence, when people flocked to the nation’s capital to do good works and instead got caught up in sex, money, and politics. What else would you expect?

BETTY Prince gently tugged on the frayed cord from the Venetian blinds. If she pulled too hard, the blinds would slip off their brackets and crash to the floor, startling the Congressman awake. She only wanted to let in the sunlight, to let Congressman Stevens know his long night of working in his office was over. It was the third time this week she’d found him asleep on that cracked leather couch. He was working too hard.

Andrew Stevens kept his eyes shut against the sun. He could feel the stiffness in his neck from sleeping without a pillow. His legs felt tight from trying to fit his six-foot-two-inch frame onto a couch four inches too short. He could tell he needed a shower. But he wasn’t ready to face the day and he wasn’t ready for another one of Betty’s lectures. She meant well, but the last thing he needed in Washington was another woman watching over him.

Too many of his colleagues’ wives had already overwhelmed him with kindness. His small refrigerator held more casseroles, more congealing dishes of Welsh rarebit, than he could eat in a month. Plus, all the dinner invitations. Always to meet some eligible niece in town visiting. Some dear female friend.

The wives embarrassed him by saying they were sure he’d be one of the brightest stars in Congress. They insisted he needed a good woman behind him to help him get ahead. His own mother, back home in Michigan, wrote him weekly to say the same thing.


C. P. Stiles is a fiction writer living in Washington, DC. This is her first novel.

From the Author

I've been writing all my life.

When I first heard the story about the best-known, high-priced call house on the East Coast located right in the middle of a nice residential neighborhood - I was intrigued. I'm still not sure why. Even after spending a few years researching and many more years writing. Maybe it's the idea of having something sort of shady going on right down the street and none of the neighbors had the faintest idea. (Warning: No sex or even steamy scenes)


C.P. Stiles: http://www.cpstiles.com
The Call House: http://www.thecallhouse.com/
Twitte: http://www.twitter.com/carostiles.com
Kindle buy link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06ZZM1LFX

Bacon Press Books:
website – http://www.baconpressbooks.com
blog – http://www.baconandbooks.com


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