Friday, May 24, 2019

Straight Browsing from the Library: Murder by Munchausen by M.T. Bass

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


A police procedural sci fi thriller ripped from future headlines!

After Jake shoots and kills a murder suspect who turns out to be the son of a powerful city councilman, he finds himself demoted to the Artificial Crimes Unit, tracking down androids hacked and programmed to be hit men.

When his case of an “extra-judicial” divorce settlement takes a nasty turn with DNA from a hundred-year-old murder in Boston and a signature that harkens back to the very first serial killer ever in London, Jake finds himself tangled up in the brutal slayings of prostitutes being investigated by his former Robbery/Homicide partner, Maddie–who is now his lover.

But a madman, The Baron, is just getting started with his AI recreations of Jack the Ripper's brutal crimes. And Maddie and Jake are teamed up again to stop the carnage as the Baron's army of human replicants imitate history's most notorious serial killers.

"It might not make sense, but the beloved Media tags it 'Murder by Munchausen.' For a price, there are hackers out there who will reprogram a synthoid to do your dirty work. The bad news: no fingerprints or DNA left at the crime scene. The good news—at least for us—is that they’re like missiles: once they hit their target, they’re usually as harmless as empty brass. The trick is to get them before they melt down their core OS data, so you can get the unit into forensics for analysis and, hopefully, an arrest." [excerpt from Murder by Munchausen]

Artificial Intelligence? Fuhgeddaboudit!

Artificial Evil has a name…Munchausen.


From Murder by Munchausen (#1)

This particular Android Subject apparently went off the rails and killed a luckless pedestrian on his way to a bodega for some iced tea or bottled water to quench his thirst. A one-in-a-million occurrence, but every so often it still happens. Anyone who believes technology is infallible is a fool. The incident didn’t appear all that nefarious when first reported, but shortly thereafter the Atlas data stream went dark and patrol called our unit in. It quickly became obvious we were dealing with a malware hit, not a malfunction. The luckless pedestrian was actually not so luckless, being on what appeared to be the winning side of a particularly nasty termination suit with his ex, who we suspected had outsourced the final settlement to extra-judicial parties.

It might not make sense, but the beloved Media tags it “Murder by Munchausen.” For a price, there are hackers out there who will reprogram a synthoid to do your dirty work. The bad news: no fingerprints or DNA left at the crime scene. The good news—at least for us—is that they’re like missiles: once they hit their target, they’re usually as harmless as empty brass. The trick is to get them before they melt down their core OS data, so you can get the unit into forensics for analysis and, hopefully, an arrest.


M.T. Bass is a scribbler of fiction who holds fast to the notion that while victors may get to write history, novelists get to write/right reality. He lives, writes, flies and makes music in Mudcat Falls, USA.

Born in Athens, Ohio, M.T. Bass grew up in St. Louis, Missouri. He graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University, majoring in English and Philosophy, then worked in the private sector (where they expect “results”) mainly in the Aerospace & Defense manufacturing market. During those years, Bass continued to write fiction. He is the author of eight novels: My Brother’s Keeper, Crossroads, In the Black, Somethin’ for Nothin’, Murder by Munchausen, The Darknet (Murder by Munchausen Mystery #2), The Invisible Mind (Murder by Munchausen Mystery #3) and Article 15. His writing spans various genres, including Mystery, Adventure, Romance, Black Comedy and TechnoThrillers. A Commercial Pilot and Certified Flight Instructor, airplanes and pilots are featured in many of his stories. Bass currently lives on the shores of Lake Erie near Lorain, Ohio.

Amazon Author Page:

Murder by Munchausen Trilogy Purchase Links


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Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Straight Chatting from the Library: Russell

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


I must share some exciting news with all of you!

My new book, DERRICK, just won in 2018 New Apple Literary Awards Contest as Official Selection in Psychological Suspense. I am completely surprised, flattered and humbled by the honor!

Also to add, GAVIN (Part 1 of The Gavin Nolan Trilogy) won 2017 New Apple Literary Summer E-book Awards as Official Selection in Horror.

What are 10 items on your bucket list?

I could not resist choosing this one. While my list is extensively long, I think most of them are attainable. Yet, couple of them you might consider a stretch. You decide. I do admit much of it is just travelling the globe…

1) Live in London. After visiting the city many years ago, I remember all the details and nuances of the fantastic city. What makes it even more exciting—um duh, royal family—is the blending of the ancient, renaissance and modern structures that become a unique cityscape. Plus, it is the cosmopolitan melting pot of different cultures all messed into a sprawling metropolis.

2) See The Great Wall of China. Think that would be the highlight to my trip to visit Bangkok, China, and after I go to the Panda sanctuary. I cannot imagine what people thought when they first encountered the formidable structure 1000s of years ago.

3) Snorkel over the Great Barrier Reef. To be frank, snorkeling makes me nervous (for very different neurotic reasons that would require a martini). To admire the indigenous sea life up close would be unbelievable.

4) Experience Southeast Asia. I guess I generalized that statement too much. Visiting Vietnam, Laos and Thailand seem like an exotic and electrifying destinations. Indeed, I am a true gourmand and would relish in the endless savory dishes throughout these countries.

5) Visit Easter Island. I would love to see the Moai up close and personal. The mystery behind the structures and ancient civilization who created it just seems so intangibly tangible. Seeing so many documentaries and specials on the subject, I would like to visit it up close and draw my own conclusions. Echoing Mulder from the X-Files, I want to believe.

6) Go to Manchu Picchu. Since you have to go to Peru anyway to get to Easter Island, the ancient ruins of the city seem so intriguing. After visiting Incan ruins in Mexico and Central America, my growing interest for the ancient civilization increased. Then again, while I’m close by, I would like to take a plane and see the Nazca Lines.

7) Go to Space. Yep, I stated it! Now, I’m talking crazy, and space travel is still out of reach. However, developments for prototyped commercial aircraft are being produced in order to send passengers up to the highest point in the Earth’s atmosphere. Think that would be awe inspiring!

8) Write and produce a play for Broadway/ West End in London. Enough said. :-)

9) Ride a bullet train from Tokyo, Japan. I think that would be exhilarating.

10) Run 5 consecutive marathons in the following cities: Paris, France; Sydney, Australia; Dubai, UAE; Rome, Italy; and Victoria Falls, South Africa. I’m what you call an amateur athlete. I work out/train at least six days a week. I powerlift/lift weights three/four times a week, run at least four times a week, occasionally swim a mile once a week and do CrossFit three times a week. In fact, I did over 15 sprint triathlons, 3 Olympic triathlons and ran 2 marathons. Because I’m sitting behind a laptop so much, I like to remain active.

Well that’s about it…

Please check out my books, GAVIN (Part 1) and now DERRICK (Part 2)…both great dark, gritty, provocative thrillers.

What is yet to come? Currently I’m editing QUINN, which is the final part of the Gavin Nolan Trilogy. I hope to have it out next year Spring 2020. In between, I wrote another book, a sci-fi, horror thriller, called The Eradication Initiative. Because I just can’t stop writing, I’m penning another untitled piece, which is a ghost story set in Up State New York.

Thanks for spending time with me today!

Please check out my website at Follow me on Twitter and Instagram @Russell_Writer.

Read to Escape…


In Hyde Park, a movie theater erupts in flames on a bitterly cold November evening.

It seems like a job for the fire department, but under Captain Creighton’s direct orders, Detective Gavin Nolan and his partner, Derrick Williamson, must investigate. Arriving on the chaotic scene, they find multiple fatalities —but one of the victims is most peculiar…

Gavin soon discovers that this fire wasn’t the first of its kind. The arsonist has set ablaze other buildings around Chicago, and more female victims left in the same gruesome state have been discovered.

Gavin and Derrick determine that the arsonist is not an arsonist at all—but a sinister serial killer with an agenda.

Juggling the unexpected events in his personal life, Gavin digs into the locations of the explosions. At the same time, Derrick probes into the victims’ lives, searching for any possible connection.

However, when the next explosion occurs, the killer leaves behind a significant object, and Derrick becomes noticeably reserved. Gavin soon uncovers an enigmatic link, one that points to Derrick’s military past. A time that his partner had wished to forget. Yet, to catch the vicious maniac, Derrick must tell Gavin everything.

In a suspenseful, gripping ride to the end, it is up to Gavin to rescue his partner from the clutches of a killer. But will he make it in time?

WARNING: This book contains graphic scenes, explicit language, and violent sexual situations.


The Opus Theater was a gouged-out smoldering shell of a building, resembling a nefarious beast defeated at the hands of a mob of local villagers. Its massive first-floor entrance breathed out the last of the smoke, the toothy marquee scarred with black soot. Above, its blackened window-eyes stared down upon the people menacingly. As Gavin ambled closer, avoiding the other officers, a gripping scent of chemicals, fabric, and noxious gas filtered into his nostrils, then wafted away with the wind. Next to the theater, a pair of smaller sibling buildings, a shoe business and a comic magazine shop, were scarred and smoldering as well. Even from here, Gavin could make out the shattered glass sparkling grimly against the siren lights.

As he had seen on the news, the fire trucks clustered near the front of the buildings. The crews were already wrapping up their gear, and one was lowering its long ladder. Firemen dashed from the trucks into the dark façade of the building, being swallowed up by the dying beast. Other men tugged on the thick gray hoses that were haphazardly tossed around on the street. Already, pockets of ice were forming on the standing water and small icicles began to grow from the edges of the building. Gavin carefully stepped over the hoses, which reminded him of ripped-out intestines from the gut of the savage beast, and tried to get out of the firemen’s way.

Hastily, a fireman rushed past him and knocked him slightly. Grunting an apology, the man kept talking into his radio and rounded one of the trucks. The smell of smoke invaded Gavin’s nostrils once again.

From behind him, Derrick shouted, “About time you fucking got here.”


Russell has been writing for the majority of his life. Slipping into alternative universes allows him to enjoy the process of creativity from the novel’s conception to its final draft. Currently, he lives in South Texas with his wife, two kids and several cats.

DERRICK is a 2018 Winner in the New Apple Literary Awards, receiving Official Selection in Psychological Suspense.



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Straight Browsing from the Library: Shades of Justice by Carolyn Arnold

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Carolyn Arnold will be awarding a personalized paperback copy of Power Struggle to a randomly drawn winner (International Giveaway) via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.


The line between good and evil isn’t always clear…

Detective Madison Knight has risked her badge—and her life—in the pursuit of justice before, and she just might need to do so again. Two victims are found murdered and naked in the home of Steven Malone, who is the largest contributor to the Stiles PD. One victim is his wife. The other victim is a John Doe. This high-profile double homicide immediately pits Madison against her sergeant, who seems more intent on protecting the Malones’ reputation and retaining a benefactor than catching a killer.

Madison will need to pull on her tenacity and courage if she’s going to follow the evidence without prejudice. In the process, it becomes clear that finding justice isn’t always black and white, and often the shades in between tell the fullest story—and it’s not something she will forget anytime soon.


They say someone’s always having a worse day than you are. Who the heck are “they,” and how would they know, anyway? Madison was pretty sure days couldn’t get much worse than the one Kimberly Olson-Malone was having. Madison couldn’t imagine finding her own mother dead—and naked with another man, no less. As much as she felt for Kimberly, she couldn’t let it cloud her judgment. Kimberly had been the one to find them and that alone made her the first suspect.

Terry pointed to the next street as they drove. “Turn right there.”

Even though Terry knew where they were going, Madison was the one driving.

She took the corner, and he pointed at a two-story, gray-brick mansion. With the exception of the forensics van and a police cruiser parked in the three-car driveway, the house had terrific curb appeal with its large front windows and double-door entry.

Madison parked out front on the street.

“Before we go in, I’m going to give you a warning,” Terry said.

She glanced over at him, her hand letting go of the door handle. Was he going to tell her it was a messy scene? There wasn’t much else that turned her stomach as did the sight and stench of a lot of blood. She gulped. The victims had been shot.

“Okay,” she said with trepidation.

“Cynthia’s on the warpath,” Terry said. “She makes your bad moods look like—”

“Be careful of your next words.”

“Or what?” He wriggled his fingers as if to say, Bring it on.

Terry really was the brother she never had. “Why’s she in a bad mood?” Madison asked but could think of at least one off the top of her head: her wedding was mere days away, and a case like this would take a lot of time for evidence collection and processing. That thought led to another. “Oh, no.”


“We had plans for a final dress fitting tonight. We might have to push that off.”

Terry arched his brows. “I’m not a wedding planner, but shouldn’t dress fittings have been done ages ago?”

It wasn’t for the lack of trying, but it turned out that when dresses were ordered from different shops, they could be made from different dye lots. With Cynthia’s sister and bridesmaid, Tammy, living in Alabama, she’d gotten hers there while Madison ordered hers in Stiles. With take two, they returned their initial dresses and arranged to get new ones from the same bridal shop in Stiles. “It’s a long story,” was all she said.


CAROLYN ARNOLD is an international bestselling and award-winning author, as well as a speaker, teacher, and inspirational mentor. She has four continuing fiction series—Detective Madison Knight, Brandon Fisher FBI, McKinley Mysteries, and Matthew Connor Adventures—and has written nearly thirty books. Her genre diversity offers her readers everything from cozy to hard-boiled mysteries, and thrillers to action adventures.

Both her female detective and FBI profiler series have been praised by those in law enforcement as being accurate and entertaining, leading her to adopt the trademark: POLICE PROCEDURALS RESPECTED BY LAW ENFORCEMENT™.

Carolyn was born in a small town and enjoys spending time outdoors, but she also loves the lights of a big city. Grounded by her roots and lifted by her dreams, her overactive imagination insists that she tell her stories. Her intention is to touch the hearts of millions with her books, to entertain, inspire, and empower.

She currently lives in London, Ontario with her husband and beagle and is a member of Crime Writers of Canada and Sisters in Crime.

Connect with CAROLYN ARNOLD Online:

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Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Straight Chatting from the Library: The Hierophant's Daughter by M.F. Sullivan

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. One randomly chosen winner via rafflecopter will win a $50 Amazon/ gift card. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.


Character creation

Character creation is always my favorite part of the writing process. Discovering the plot with and through that character is a blast, of course, but meeting a new main character feels, when you’re doing it right, like making a new best friend. This is something that lots of starting writers struggle with. I remember checking a book about writing out of my high school library, and it included one of those enormous inventories where you fill out a character’s eye color, hair color, nose shape, childhood memories, favorite pets, favorite this and that—ugh! Even then, I remember thinking to myself, “Is this really going to help me write this story?”

There is so much more to a character than that. In real life, we bond with people not because of their aquiline nose and piercing aqua eyes, but because we can relate to them on an emotional or psychic level. Maybe we share a similar background, or we have a similar burden or dilemma with which we can assist one another. There’s always something deeper there, beyond the superficial qualities—even superficial or negative relationships are driven by a complex array of emotional scarring. Therefore, to create your character, you have to get to know them as a person.

When I first started writing The Disgraced Martyr Trilogy, it was in the early evening, after I was finished with my work for the day. I had been sort of kicking around the plan to start work on my next project soon—and I knew the main character’s name, her wife’s name, the villain and the rest of the Holy Family, but I knew really very little about them or their world. Yet, that evening, I felt urgently called to sit down at my keyboard, and though I only expected to produce maybe an opening paragraph at most, I suddenly found myself with half a chapter—the next day, I finished that chapter, and kept plunging through, not knowing what would happen or who half these people were. Words and names and things I didn’t recognize or didn’t plan came bubbling out of my keyboard, but by far, the most amazing discovery and the most amazing character was General Dominia di Mephitoli, the trilogy’s heroine.

I didn’t even know she was a General when I first started! I didn’t even know her wife was dead. I just knew she was running—running from what? Dogs. Okay, dogs—and? Through trees. To? A farmhouse. Why? Because her wife was dead, and she needed to flee the country to try to bring her back.

And so the next eighteen months of my life vanished in a clatter of keys, and with each chapter I learned something new about this woman who, once the Governess of the United Front, is demoted to General within our first few minutes of knowing her. This is important—I can’t emphasize enough to the young writer how much I did not know about Dominia or her world.

Because, ultimately, the way you develop a character is by writing about them. True character development in the most literal sense of the term is what happens to a character over the course of the story. You don’t need to develop a character before you write, because if you do that you don’t need to write. If you want to flesh out traits you learn about them later, you can do that in editing. But for a first draft, you have to be an observant student of the character’s mind and actions. What are their hearts telling you? What are their motivations, why are their motivations—and how can you relate to those motivations? As soon as you can grasp those questions, you’ll be off and running.


By 4042 CE, the Hierophant and his Church have risen to political dominance with his cannibalistic army of genetically modified humans: martyrs. In an era when mankind's intergenerational cold wars against their long-lived predators seem close to running hot, the Holy Family is poised on the verge of complete planetary control. It will take a miracle to save humanity from extinction.

It will also take a miracle to resurrect the wife of 331-year-old General Dominia di Mephitoli, who defects during martyr year 1997 AL in search of Lazarus, the one man rumored to bring life to the dead. With the Hierophant's Project Black Sun looming over her head, she has little choice but to believe this Lazarus is really all her new friends say he is--assuming he exists at all--and that these companions of hers are really able to help her. From the foulmouthed Japanese prostitute with a few secrets of her own to the outright sapient dog who seems to judge every move, they don't inspire a lot of confidence, but the General has to take the help she can get.

After all, Dominia is no ordinary martyr. She is THE HIEROPHANT'S DAUGHTER, and her Father won't let her switch sides without a fight. Not when she still has so much to learn.

The dystopic first entry of an epic cyberpunk trilogy, THE HIEROPHANT’S DAUGHTER is a horror/sci-fi adventure sure to delight and inspire adult readers of all stripes.


Cassandra’s absence was not her first discovery. That was her (officially) broken watch, whose blank face reflected her own bleary one. Then came the porter’s uniform, folded beside her unconscious body with such tight creases it looked as if it had been ironed: it smelled like the lavender of the woman who had pinned her against the cool metal of the train car to multiply the current’s kick. That, plus the ache in her stiff muscles, meant the woman was no hallucination. Dominia had escaped Japan, and now had a whole new level of problems. Who was she? Miki Soto. A card sat atop the uniform, its front embossed with a black-petaled, red-outlined lotus. Familiar symbol, but one she couldn’t place in her post-electric haze. She sat up to rub her head and neck with a pained sigh that turned into suffocation as her hand found the necklace gone from her throat.

Her palms were wet with sweat beneath her gloves. She stripped them off to feel around on her chest, then cried out to confirm Cassandra gone. Up the General sprang, then back down on hands and knees in search of her beloved’s remains. No trace.

Dominia knew where she was: with that same woman who had left the uniform. A disguise for the train, in exchange for her wife’s body. Cassandra! Oh, poor Cassandra, forever dying in Dominia’s mind, much as she forever stood in her flowing black dress, whose lace she smoothed while they waited outside the throne room of the Hierophant. Telling her, “You look beautiful, don’t worry; you’re so smart and funny, everyone will love you.”


M.F. Sullivan is the author of Delilah, My Woman, The Lightning Stenography Device, and a slew of plays in addition to the Trilogy. She lives in Ashland, Oregon with her boyfriend and her cat, where she attends the local Shakespeare Festival and experiments with the occult. Find more information about her work (and plenty of free essays) at! Author Links:

Amazon Author Page:
Goodreads Author Page:

Barnes & Noble:
Hardback: 978-0-9965395-6-2
Paperback: 978-0-9965395-7-9
eBook: 978-0-9965395-8-6


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Thursday, May 16, 2019

Straight Chatting from the Library: Revelations by Robert Sells

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Robert Sells will be awarding a $40 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.


Chis Wallace chuckled while he watched the technician hook up the acoustics on his guest. The guy was flirting with the attractive technician. From the smiles across the face of Mary, Alcroft was apparently having some success. Finally, she patted the scientist’s shoulder and pulled away. Alcroft offered her a card from his pocket. With a nervous look at Wallace, she took it and hurried away.

The red light blinked and they were live.

“Doctor Alcroft, thanks for coming in this afternoon. You guys don’t give many interviews, do you?”

A handsome face smiled into the camera. “Well, Chris, the First Contact Team channeled all its findings through Dr. Worthington. She was better looking than any of us. But she’s hard to pin down for interviews. Busy girl.”

“You are a linguist, correct?”

“Hmm. Sort of. I work for the CIA and analyze speech patterns. It helps with encrypted messages.”

“The message from Lambda was the ultimate encryption. How did you guys figure it out?”

“Very difficult. And boring.”

“The New York Times reported something about an unusual spacer. What exactly is a spacer?”

Alcroft shifted in his seat. Wallace saw he was unsettled by the question.

“Well, the code in any computer message is a binary series, just ones and zeros. Those ones and zeros translate into numbers and letters. But which ones and twos go with this number and which goes with that letter? You have to have a space between the symbols to separate them. The spacer does that.”

“So, maybe four zeros in a row might always be a space.”

Alcroft leaned forward, now eager to explain. Good, thought Wallace.

“Right, Chris. But, four zeros wouldn’t do it. They pop up too often in the message to make numbers and words. So, it has to be a larger number.”

“The Times article agreed it had to be a large number. I guess a whole bunch of ones and zeros. A special pattern, repeated often.”

“Ahh, now you got it, Chris.”

“Probably too many numbers for even you to remember.”

“Oh, no. I remembered the number. When I changed it from binary format to regular numbers it was-“

Alcroft stopped and gulped.

“Come on, Henry,” urged Wallace. “It’s been seven years. Surely you can tell us the number now.”

Dr. Henry Alcroft looked away, his lips pressed tightly together, his brow furrowed. Wallace sat back in his seat. Let’s tweek his egotism a bit.

“The Times article alluded to a strange number, but they didn’t say what it was. They probably didn’t have as knowledgeable a source as you.”

Alcroft shrugged and turned back to Chris Wallace. “No”, he replied. “Everyone on the team would remember the number. Strange coincidence. But, as you said, it’s been seven years and we’ve already gotten so much information from the Lambdons. Good stuff, you know? Okay, Chris. The spacer number…”

Wallace leaned forward.


Wallace’s astonished blink was caught on camera. A producer a few hours later decided to include that image after the revelation from Alcroft. The scene was played over and over again the next day.

“The number of the devil… from an alien message.”

“Just coincidence. Chris. Recall the Lambdons have three fingers… two hands… six would be a base number for them. Just like 10 is for us.”

Alcroft held up both hands. “10.”

Alcroft gave the camera his most engaging smile. “Just a coinci-“

Alcroft’s cell phone rang. He picked it up. Listened. The smile left. His face paled.

“Is everything okay, Dr. Alcroft?”

“Yeah, fine. Don’t worry. Look I gotta go.”

“One more question.”

“Now, God damn it! I gotta go now! Something has happened… that- ahh- needs my attention. Sorry.”


Aster Worthington spearheads the First Contact Team who are unraveling a message from an alien race. The altruistic extraterrestrials promise free energy and an excited Earth builds a massive structure called the Dome to house the alien enterprise

Seven years later, no "free energy" and strange things are reported in and around the Dome. When Aster and her colleagues mount an expedition to investigate the interior, they are shocked to find it filled with humanoids having insect-like deformities. It becomes obvious their true purpose is to take over our planet. Now Aster and the scientists are trying to come up with a defense to fend off the invasion. A defense that is tied to a 2000 year old document hidden by the church. But, will it be too late?


The Locusts

Dozens of the strange locusts had descended on the marine nearest her. Gun dropped, with arms, torso, and legs covered with the little creatures, his hands were frantically brushing off the locust-like creatures, but more and more took their place. Some had purchased holds on his hands, their small heads stubbornly attached like ticks on dog while their bodies bounced up and down with soldier’s panicky movements. More and more landed on his face and he started to run wildly, screaming all the while.

One of her earliest memories from childhood was her grandmother, a farmer’s wife, chopping off a chicken’s head. Headless, the poor bird ran in one direction, then another, somehow keeping its balance. After too many horrible seconds, the poor chicken fell to the ground, twitching. The man’s aimless running reminded her of the chicken running, not knowing it was already dead.

The man screamed again, fell to his knees and ripped his shirt open. The locust must have burrowed through his clothes because they now covered his entire chest. With each locust plucked away, a red wound appeared. She watched in horror as the man fell to his knees first, his arms by his side. Then he collapsed, face first, to the floor.

She pulled her eyes from the soldier only to witness other soldiers swatting at the locust or brushing them off their clothes, all experiencing the same horror. Some held tight to their guns while they tried to wipe the locusts off their uniforms. Others had discarded their weapons and employed both hands in ridding themselves of the vile little creatures. Small bumps of cloth rippled along their shirts and pants, giving the impression the uniforms were alive. There were more and more screams.


Robert Sells has taught physics for over forty years, but he has been a storyteller for over half a century, entertaining children, grandchildren, and students. He has written the award-winning novel, Return of the White Deer, historical fiction about Penda of Mercia. His second fiction book, Reap the Whirlwind, was a thriller about the dawn of artificial intelligence and the subsequent decline of humanity. His third book, The Runner and the Robbery, was a young adult novel about a teenager and his grandfather who had Alzheimer’s disease. Revelations, a science fiction novel, is his fourth book.

He lives with his wife, Dale, in the idyllic village of Geneseo, New York with two attentive dogs who are uncritical sounding boards for his new stories. He is intrigued by poker and history, in love with Disney and writing, and amused by religion and politics.

Amazon Author Page:
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Straight Browsing from the Library: Joy After Noon by Debra Coleman Jeter

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Debra Coleman Jeter 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.


Joy marries a widowed bank executive caught in an ethical dilemma and misreads his obvious frustration while struggling to integrate into her new family. Inspired in part by Love, Come Softly, this novel explores the challenges of second marriages and dealing with step-children during the crucial years of puberty and teenage angst. A college professor coming up shortly for the huge tenure decision, Joy finds herself falling apart as her career and her home issues deteriorate and collide.


Joy opened a cabinet door to gaze at the rows of hand-painted spices, little bottles labeled in delicate, loopy cursive and decorated with yellow daffodils, each flower unique. What kind of woman would take the time to transfer store-bought spices into hand-crafted containers? The same woman who painted the daffodils? As a teacher of finance, Joy would question whether she could sell the hand-painted jars for enough cash to compensate for the materials and labor.

In this new universe, the question was altogether different. What was the question? Joy felt lost.

The jars appeared to be aligned in alphabetical order, and she checked to be sure. Coriander seed, cumin ... tarragon, turmeric. They probably hadn’t been used since Carolyn died. Either that, or Carolyn had trained Ray and the girls to keep them in their proper sequence.

The phone rang, startling Joy in the unaccustomed setting. She recognized the voice at once. Her colleague and coauthor Natalie. Yes, the honeymoon was wonderful, Joy told her. She elaborated on the brilliant turquoise of the water, the amazing world she and Ray explored together beneath the sea. She couldn’t tell Natalie the real wonder. To be held, to be nurtured, to feel cherished for the first time in so many years. For the first time ever by a man. She flushed at the thought of confessing as much, at her age.

“I haven’t forgotten our paper,” she said instead. “I know I’ve been negligent lately. But I’ll get on it. Right away.”


Debra Coleman Jeter has published both fiction and nonfiction in popular magazines, including Working Woman, New Woman, Self, Home Life, Savvy, Christian Woman, and American Baby. Her first novel, The Ticket, was a finalist for a Selah Award, as well as for Jerry Jenkins’ Operation First Novel. Her story, “Recovery,” was awarded first prize in a short story competition sponsored by Christian Woman; and her nonfiction book “Pshaw, It’s Me Grandson”: Tales of a Young Actor was a finalist in the USA Book News Awards. She is a co-writer of the screenplay for Jess + Moss, a feature film which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, screened at nearly forty film festivals around the world, and captured several domestic and international awards.

Website and Blog:
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The Ticket trailer:


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Thursday, May 9, 2019

Straight Browsing from the Library: By the Light of Embers by Shaylin Gandhi

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Shaylin Gandhi will be awarding a $25 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.


It's 1954, and twenty-two-year-old Lucia Lafleur has always dreamed of following in her father’s footsteps. While sock hops and poodle skirts occupy her classmates, she dreams of bacteria and broken bones—and the day she’ll finally fix them.

After graduation, a letter arrives, and Lucia reads the words she’s labored a lifetime to earn—"we are pleased to offer you a position at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine." But in the midst of her triumph, her fiancé delivers a crushing ultimatum: forego medical school, or forego marriage.

With fractured hopes, she returns home to Louisiana, expecting nothing of the summer of '54 but sweet tea and gumbo while she agonizes over her impending choice. There, she unexpectedly befriends Nicholas, a dark-skinned poet whose dignity and intellect are a salve to her aching heart. Their bond, initially forged from a shared love of literature, soon blossoms into something as bewitching as it is forbidden.

Yet her predicament deepens when a trivial misunderstanding between a local white woman and a black man results in a brutal lynching, and the peril of love across the color lines becomes chillingly real. Now, fulfilling her lifelong dream means relinquishing her heart—and escaping Louisiana alive.


I snuck a glance at him as he looked into the distance. Something had sprung to life inside me—and for a moment, I ignored all the complications. Suspended in the blossoming evening, I admitted that undiscovered pieces of myself were surfacing, opening before him like flowers.

“Any minute now.”

I followed his gaze. Inverness, a distant castle of pale light, was just visible over the treetops. Beyond it, the ashes of the day clung to the horizon in a lingering afterglow. Above, the sky’s vaulted reaches shimmered.

Suddenly, a flower of green fire bloomed over the swamp. My breath caught as bursts of blue and white spiraled through the night. I leaned forward, enraptured, and Nicholas made a soft sound just before the percussive booms reached us.

Jeweled showers thundered on a stage of starlight, in plumes of green and red, in staccato diamond haloes and fountains of pink. The glistening river reflected each spark, surrounding us with flowers of flame.

I watched, slack-jawed, my heart soaring.

“Magnificent,” he said, each unfurling shower shining in the mirrors of his eyes.

I couldn’t say how long we stood there, but eventually the display came to its final salvo. Fireworks illuminated the night as the explosions reached a deafening roar. Then, as quickly as the show had begun, the last dandelion of blue faded to an incandescent shadow.

The bayou lay still.

I held my breath, unwilling to break the silence. The air ripened, heavy with magic. I looked up at Nicholas with widened eyes.

“Worth the walk?”

I nodded. “It was beautiful.”

So was he. It was all I could see now—the line of his jaw, the sweep of his eyelashes. His lips, their lush curves.

I said, “It would’ve been worth it without the fireworks.”

Gilded eyes searched my face. “Why’s that?”

The humid night pressed in, gathered between us like a palpable force, pulling me forward until I found myself leaning into his question. He must have felt it too, because he raised a hand. I braced myself for contact, for his skin to touch mine for the first time. The pale pad of his thumb hovered inches from my cheek.


SHAYLIN GANDHI secretly stole her mother’s copy of Clan of the Cave Bear at age ten, and fell madly in love with love stories. Now, as an author, she still can't get enough, and the tales she spins all center around affairs of the heart. To her, that's what makes a story truly worth telling.

Besides writing, she tries to stamp her passport at every opportunity. Traveling has been a lifelong passion, and she’s lucky to have done it a lot. Shaylin and her husband once spent an entire summer living in their van while touring the Pacific Northwest, British Columbia, and Alaska. Her most memorable trips often tie in with writing: her books are usually inspired by majestic places that stole her breath.

In addition, Shaylin practices medicine, scuba dives, plays the piano, and once rode her bicycle from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic. She now lives in Denver with her incredible husband, their identical twin daughters, and two adorable rescue dogs. The family can usually be found in the mountains, either hiking up or skiing down.

You can find Shaylin online at or on Twitter @shaylingandhi. Please get in touch—she would love to hear from you!



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