Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Straight Browsing from the Library: The Royal Nanny by Karen Harper


This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Enter the Rafflecopter below for a chance to win a copy of Karen Harper's newest historical novel The Royal Nanny. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

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In 1897, a young cockney nursemaid takes her first train ride, leaving London for the lush and sprawling Sandringham Estate, private home to Britain’s royal family. Hired by the Duke and Duchess of York to help rear their royal children, Charlotte Bill is about to become privy to all the secrets families hide, and caught between the upstairs and downstairs worlds.

READ AN EXCERPT


Truth was, I used to wish the widowed Dr. Edwin Lockwood, my former employer, would marry me, though I knew that was quite out of the question. But when I first went to work at his house as nursemaid, I was only thirteen and such a dreamer. People think I’m a no-nonsense person, but I still harbor flights of fancy in my head and heart, and to mean something to someone else is one of them.

But in the nearly ten years I worked in London, I knew it was not that I loved the doctor, but that I did love his two little daughters and hated to leave them, especially after I’d been promoted to nurse after five years there. Now his new wife didn’t want me about because her stepchildren doted on me. But the doctor gave me a good character, which the Duchess of York’s friend, Lady Eva Dugdale, had somehow seen. So here I was, headed to the Duke and Duchess of York’s country house to help the head nurse of two royal lads, one called David, nearly four years of age, the other, Bertie, a year-and-a-half; and a new baby to be born soon.

Beat down the butterflies in my belly and practiced saying, “Your Grace, milord, milady, sir, ma’am,” and all that. What if Queen Victoria herself ever popped in for a visit, for the duke was her grandson—well, there were many of her offspring scattered across Europe in ruling houses, but he was in direct line to the British throne after his father, the Prince of Wales. And since the Prince and Princess of Wales often lived on the same Sandringham Estate, so Lady Dugdale said, I wager I’d see them, right regular too, that is if the head nurse, name of Mary Peters, let me help her with the royal children when their kin came calling.

“Ticket, please, miss,” the conductor said as he came through the carriage. I had a moment’s scramble but handed it to him and had it marked. When he passed on, I put it as a keepsake in my wooden box of worldly goods, which sat on the floor next to my seat. The carriage wasn’t too full, not to Norfolk with its marshy fens and the windy Wash my papa had described to me. Oh, I was so excited I could barely sit still. I was to disembark at a place called Wolferton Station where someone was to meet me. I was just so certain everything would be lovely, and fine and grandly, royally perfect.

MEET THE AUTHOR


NEW YORK TIMES and USA TODAY bestselling author Karen Harper is a former university (Ohio State) and high school English teacher. Published since 1982, she writes contemporary suspense and historical novels about real British women. Two of her recent Tudor era books were bestsellers in the UK and Russia. A rabid Anglophile, she likes nothing more than to research her novels on site in the British Isles. Harper won the Mary Higgins Clark Award for DARK ANGEL, and her novel SHATTERED SECRETS was judged one of the Best Books of 2014 by Suspense Magazine. The author and her husband divide their time between Ohio and Florida.

Website


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Straight Chatting from the Library: Isabelle Gecils


This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Isabelle Gecils will be awarding a $30 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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Tell us about your current book in 10 words.

An excerpt from Kirkus Review for Leaving Shangrila: “A well-paced memoir steeped in strife, struggle, sorrow, and, eventually, freedom."

What are you reading right now?

What seems to be everyone’s favorite: The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah. I love this book. It is written in such a compelling engaging way. You feel connected to the various characters and can understand their motivations, even if not agreeing with them. I particularly related to the character of Isabelle (irrespective that we share the same name) because she had such inner strength and a desire to make a different in her world.

What books do you have on hold at the library?
>
Most of the books my book club plans to read this year: The Notorious RBG, I am Malala. I suppose we are big on memoirs too, but also historical fiction.

Do you have any bad book habits?

I would not necessarily call it a bad habit… but I will stop reading a book if it does not grip me somehow. There are millions of books to read, and reading time is so precious. But when I find one of those, I don’t put it down.

E-Reader or print? and why?

Definitely print. For a number of reasons. The first, is that I try to model to my children that time away from the screen is time well spent (they can’t tell if I am reading a book, or watching a video if I am using the Kindle for example). But mostly because I like holding books. If I feel particularly attached to a character or am worried about the outcome, I sometimes turn pages to see what happens to settle my heart… and that is easier done via a printed book.

One book at a time or multiples?

For entertainment purposes, typically one book at a time. For professional purposes, several.

When do you do most of your reading?

At night, right before I go to sleep.

Favorite place to read?

An airplane seat. Because it gives me hours of uninterrupted reading time.

How do you keep your books organized?

I keep my all-time favorites and those that I could potentially one day re-read. Everything else I donate to the library. Re-reader or not?

There are some books that compel you to read them again and again. For me, the Forgotten Garden, The Other Boleyn Girl and the Harry Potter series fall into this category. And there are those that should be read multiple times because they have lessons in them, that take time to sink in, or that you have to try out in the real world. The best example of that for me is Emotional Intelligence from Daniel Goleman.

What would make you not finish a book?

Books that are too descriptive. I enjoy books that are fast paced, that are action oriented. While context and descriptions are important to give a sense of place, they can be overdone.

Keep books or give them away?

In my day job, I focus on getting people to reduce their carbon footprint in the world. Part of that, is recycling, including books. Unless I believe I will reread a book, or they have a particular sentimental value, I donate them.

READ THE BLURB


Leaving Shangrila: The True Story of A Girl, Her Transformation and Her Eventual Escape by Isabelle Gecils, is the captivating memoir of a charmingly complex heroine.

Isabelle paints a colorful world as she tells the tale of how she forged her own path in the midst of turmoil. The story, set in Brazil where she grew up, is populated with fascinating characters, both good and bad. From a narcissistic mother to her perpetually flawed lovers to three resilient sisters, Leaving Shangrila’s motley crew make for an endlessly intriguing storyline.

Leaving Shangrila begins with young Isabelle, trapped in a hellish world. Surrounded by lies, manipulation, and abuse, Isabelle is desperate to escape the adversity of this place. Filled with tremendous strength and an unyielding drive to survive, she begins her journey toward freedom and self-realization. Through the trials and obstacles along the way, Isabelle goes back and forth to balance who she is with what she must do to survive.

With themes of perseverance, self-reliance, and the resilience of the human spirit, Leaving Shangrila: The True Story Of A Girl, Her Transformation and Her Eventual Escape highlights the important character traits one discovers on the path to finding their self. Truly empowering and inspirational, readers everywhere will relate to this coming of age story.

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My entire class staged a school play, except that, unlike everybody else, I watched it rather than act in it. Joining the theater troop required almost daily rehearsals at one of my classmates’ lavish colonial homes near school. I was not invited to join the group. They already knew I would not come.

At the school grounds, my classmates cracked jokes about what happened during their afternoons together. They perched on one another as they traded stories and exchanged hugs. I heard about the English classes they took after school, their boat trips around the bays of Rio de Janeiro, the excited chatter that accompanied field trips I was never allowed to join. When the entire class decided to spend a lightly chaperoned weekend in Cabo Frio, a town with white, sandy beaches and coconut trees lining the boardwalks, my jealousy meter spiked. For two months, that is all anyone talked about. Since I did not even receive an invitation, nobody spoke with me.

I felt lonely observing them. I longed to be as adored as were the two most popular girls in my class: Isabela and Flavia. Isabela, despite the discolored white spots all over her skin due to type 1 diabetes, was the reigning queen. The boys swooned over Flavia, two years older than the rest of us although she repeated third and fifth grade due to her poor academic performance.

I observed these two girls, searching for what it was about them that made them special. Yes, they were both beautiful. While their beauty may have helped with their popularity, it surely was not the main factor, as there were other pretty girls too. I decided that what they had in common, what nobody else had, was that they were the best athletes in my class, even perhaps the best in all of the school.

Isabela and Flavia were always the ones everybody wanted to have on their team and as their friend. They were either team captain or the first pick. They seemed to try harder than everybody else. So I thought that if I truly focused on sports, then I could be just like them. If only I could excel on the handball field—as girls did not play soccer, despite the madness surrounding the most popular sport in Brazil—then maybe, just maybe, my social standing could change too. I made a plan. One day, I would be just as great as these two. One day, I would be chosen first.

At the beginning of each week, the P.E. teacher assigned two captains. They, in turn, each picked a team for the week. We played handball on Tuesdays, volleyball on Thursdays. And every week, for the past three years, I was the captain’s last, grudgingly chosen pick. I knew why. Had I been captain, I would have chosen myself last too.

I did not score any goals in handball. My throws were either too weak or out of bounds. Knowing this, my team did not bother passing the ball to me. I spent the game playing defense, barely succeeding at blocking the other team’s powerhouse players as they demolished the team I was on. When an opponent charged towards me dribbling the ball, I got out of the way. In volleyball, I removed my thick glasses for fear they’d be broken, and as a result, I could not see the ball coming to hit me in the face.

I did not particularly enjoy playing sports. However, to change my standing in the team-selection pecking order, I practiced with a purpose. During games, I became more aggressive. I wore my glasses. I reached for the goal, whereas before I simply stood on the sidelines. I blocked more aggressively too—even if it meant pulling my opponent’s shirt or hair—no matter that this often led to a penalty against my team. During these early weeks, I returned home with two broken eye glasses, earned a couple of red cards, and made my teammates angry.

At home, after completing my homework, I begged my two sisters to play ball with me. They did play, but not for long. When they grew tired, I threw the ball against the wall, attempting to increase my arm strength. When my arms felt tired, I ran around the farm to increase my speed and reflexes by dodging a pretend ball. At night, as I drifted to sleep, I prayed silently so that my sisters would not hear me plead: “God, please, make me be chosen first.”

As weeks turned into months, I became quite adept at catching the ball as it ricocheted from the wall towards me. I was no longer chosen last. That horrible fate was bestowed on a shy and almost as awkward classmate who had the extra disadvantage of being overweight, which slowed her down compared to me; I was slight and scrawny. Yet, despite months of effort, I did not score any more than before, did not throw the ball any harder or more accurately, and hardly touched the ball at all. Since I often increased the penalty count with my new, more aggressive tactics, the coach had me sit out whenever there was an odd number of players.

A year into this futile attempt, I felt a deep sense of disappointment but realized the foolishness of pursuing an utterly impossible dream. Maybe one had to be content with their lot in life, I concluded. Any attempts to try to change who one was, or what one wanted, were futile. Feeling defeated and deflated and knowing that, despite any effort, the sports court was not a place for me, I talked myself out of my goal. I stopped practicing in the afternoons. I removed my glasses again during games. I accepted that I was not meant to be popular and that the world where my classmates lived did not belong to me.

I hated my life. I hated going home where there was nothing to do and nobody to play with. I hated how different we were—with our round house, with our religious meetings, with our inability to do anything other than go to school. Not knowing what to do to change any of it, I returned to my routine, finding friendship in books and getting all my validation from my grades.

Two months later, I felt sick.

My head and muscles hurt; my nose was running; and I coughed uncontrollably. I barely slept. My mother suggested I stay home. No matter how sick I felt, I would never choose to stay home with my stepfather lurking around. Anywhere was better than home. Despite my illness, I dragged myself to school that day. It was a Tuesday, which meant handball day. That morning, I walked to the handball court, hoping my swollen eyes and drippy nose would help me avoid playing at all.

“Coach, I am sick,” I said with narrowed eyes. “Can I sit out the game today?”

“Being sick isn’t enough reason not to play,” the P.E. teacher said, not even bothering to look at me. “So, go play.”

Although students never questioned the decisions of a professor, I protested feebly.

He dismissed me again, treating me as a little pest who could not be taken seriously.

“Here is what you will go do,” he told me. “Your team needs a goalie. Go defend it,” he said, pointing towards the goal. The regular goalie was also sick that day, but unlike me, she had the good sense to stay at home.

Off to guard the goal post I went, grateful at least that I did not have to run or be pushed around on the court. I hoped that a strong team defense would prevent me from having to exert much effort. My teammates groaned and shook their heads in disbelief as they saw me standing in front of the goal, mumbling that the team had already lost. The opposing team congratulated themselves before the whistle blew. “This will be easy,” they bragged within earshot, ensuring I knew they considered themselves to have already clinched victory. Having me guard the goal was the same as having no goalie at all.

A surge of anger and despondency bubbled up within me upon hearing their snickers. I felt tired of always being at the bottom of the totem pole, tired of feeling ridiculed and different. I puffed my chest as if this would make me larger, ignoring how painful it felt to take deep breaths.

My team’s defense did not keep its end of the bargain. The balls from the opposing team flew towards the goal at unreasonable speeds, from what appeared to be impossible angles. Yet, I blocked them out. I blocked every single ball that came towards me. I shielded that goal as if my life depended on it. At the end of the game, my team won by a landslide.

Not used to the taste of victory, I did not distinguish the elation I felt from the confusion at this unexpected turn of events. My dumbfounded classmates looked at me as if they saw me for the first time, trying to make sense of what had just happened.

They, and I, were in awe.

My feat as the goalie made the gossip circuit and by the following week, despite some lingering doubt about my abilities, I was picked third in the line-up. I had jumped seven places in one week! This was better than an improvement; it was a major victory!

At the sound of the whistle, the players moved. I tried to concentrate. Not feeling as angry as I did the previous week, my confidence waned even before the game started. But I wasn’t playing for the game. I was playing for my dream, my rank in the social pecking order, and my desire that for once, people would pay attention to me.

Nobody pierced my defense of the goal. My team won again.

Two weeks later, the captains planned the team selection for the school’s annual Olympic Games. The teams played together for two months in preparation for the week-long competition, held at a sports complex where all the parents—and the large, extended families that most Brazilians had—watched the games. The Olympics was the talk of the school.

My class split the girls into teams; these teams would play both handball and volleyball. The P.E. teacher selected the team captains. To my utter surprise, Isabela was not one of them. Thus, there was a possibility that Flavia and Isabela, the two best players, could be on the same team together. And that, I was sure, would lock in victory for whichever team they were a part of. I hoped that I would be chosen, even if last, to the better team. It was obvious to me that the opposing team would have no chance and would simply be crushed.

There was an air of excitement and nervousness at the school playground as the captains readied themselves to make their picks. Flavia was one of the captains. Ana Cristina, a strong but not stellar player, was the captain of the opposing team. After a coin toss, Ana Cristina was first to select players.

“I want Isabelle,” she said pointing at me.

She clearly meant Isabela, with an “a”, and not me, with the French spelling of a name most Brazilians did not get right. It made no sense to me that she would have chosen otherwise. So I did not budge.

“You heard her, Isabelle,” the coach said, tapping me on my shoulder. “Hurry up and move to Ana Cristina’s side.”

I was too stunned to hear the loud murmur emanating from the cluster of the other girls at this unexpected choice. This could not be right. I thought Ana Cristina had been crazy to select me. This choice guaranteed that Flavia would pick Isabela next. Ana Cristina’s team would be decimated. No team could win against the two stronger players.

I looked at Ana Cristina with panic in my face and shook my head. “Don’t do it,” I whispered. “Pick Isabela first.”

She looked at me, puzzled.

“Why?” she asked

“Get the next strongest player. Don’t let them be on the same team. Worry about the goalkeeper later!” I stated, with a modicum of desperation in my voice.

She stared at me with a serious frown on her face and gestured impatiently, beckoning me.

“Isabelle, just come over here.”

As I walked, she spoke loudly enough for all the other girls to hear. “If I do not choose you, Flavia will. Then my team will not ever have the slightest chance. Nobody can score when you are defending that goal. You are the most important player here and the one I want on my team.”

Still stunned, I moved next to Ana Cristina as the selection continued until all girls were sorted into teams. Once I got past my horror that we would now face Flavia and Isabela together, I remembered my wish made months earlier, the one I gave up so easily, about being chosen first. Yet, even in my wildest dreams, I had never expected that it would happen during the most important and visible athletic event of the school year. I felt an unfamiliar feeling of elation fill my chest. I felt I could burst. A broad smile spread across my face. I went home, screaming with joy: “I was chosen first! I was really chosen first!”

And for the first time in my life, I believed I was good at something.

MEET THE AUTHOR


Isabelle Gecils grew up in Shangrila, a remote farm in a lush jungle in Brazil. But who really knows where she hails from? Her immediate family hailed from 6 different countries: France (dad), Egypt (mom and grandma), Turkey (grandpa), Lithuania (grandpa) and Poland (grandma). There is a freedom in belonging nowhere and everywhere at the same time. Leaving Shangrila is the story of Isabelle’s journey from a life others choose for her to one she created for herself. To support the writing of this memoir, Isabelle completed the Stanford Creative Nonfiction Writing certificate program. She currently lives in Saratoga, California, with her husband, four sons and two territorial cats.

Isabelle_gecils@yahoo.com
www.Isabellegecilsauthor.com
https://www.facebook.com/IsabelleGecilsAuthor
@IsabelleGecils
www.Isabellegecilsauthor.com

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Monday, June 20, 2016

Straight Chatting from the Library: R.F. Dunham


This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. R.F. Dunham will be awarding $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.

READ THE GUEST BLOG


What are some of the challenges faced when re-writing history to fit the story?


Thanks for the fantastic question! You’ve hit on one of the main challenges of writing alternate history. It was an especially big obstacle in the writing of The Other Side of Hope because the point of divergence (the thing about the past that is different from “real” history) is so far removed from the time of the story. That left a lot of space for things to change!

In order to fully answer your question, let me give just a little bit of actual history. That way we can make sure everyone knows where we’re starting from. The point of divergence for The Other Side of Hope is the Battle of Tours, fought in France in 732 A.D. In real history, Charles Martel led the armies of Christian Europe and defeated the invading Muslim forces under Abdul Rahman Al Ghafiqi. This battle is viewed by many historians as the event that halted the Muslim advance into Europe. Muslim armies had invaded Spain from North Africa and continued working their way north. After Tours, they never made it any farther.

But in the world of The Other Side of Hope, Charles Martel did not win that battle. This history is only vaguely referenced in the book itself but the effects of it are felt everywhere. There were countless things to consider when rewriting the history. I started with the assumption that the Muslim armies would go on to conquer Europe. This of course alters the history of the entire western world. The Renaissance, the Colonial period, the American Revolution; everything is different. One of the first things I did was sketch out a brief history of what we know as the Americas. Because with no Colonial period, I needed some other way to get my characters that were supposed to be on this continent across the ocean.

One of the most interesting issues I ran across was language. Because history shapes language so much, the overall linguistic situation of the world is going to be vastly different. I started by thinking, “I’ll just have Arabic or maybe Turkish be the dominant global language, and the characters in the ‘Americas’ will speak English.” Then I realized that in this timeline, there would be no such thing as English! If the British Isles have a different history, there’s no Saxon invasion, no French occupation, none of a dozen other events that shaped the English language into what it is today. So, while I did end up designating Turkish as the world’s lingua franca, I had to come up with an entirely different set of languages for the Christian characters. I didn’t do any Tolkien-level language creation, but I did put a lot of thought into what the languages of a fractured America settled by Christian refugees from Europe would be like. I ended up with a patchwork of languages and dialects that are a blend of Germanic, Romance, and Native American languages all held together by a regional trade language. None of those language exist in full detail, of course. I just have a general idea of how they sound and which ones are mutually intelligible.

The core of the challenge with all of this history re-writing is to make the world of the story feel real. I found that the best way to do that was to focus on the small details and how to reveal them in a natural way. That will pull readers into the story more than spending pages reviewing my fictional history. So I was constantly looking for those subtle ways to hint at the different culture by referencing wars that didn’t “really” happen and mentioning the cultural practices that define my fictional society. The temptation is to spend pages and pages spelling out the alternate history and made up culture. But that forces readers out of the story instead of pulling them in so I had to find more subtle ways to work it in. One cultural detail that’s important in the story is the naming of children. But there are no paragraphs explaining this practice, just passing references that assume it has a pivotal role in the culture. That way, you learn it’s important without getting a history lesson.

Those are just a couple of examples of the difficulties I sorted out while creating this world. Honestly, there are hundreds of more implications that I never worked out. I could go into much more detail about why the Battle of Tours had such a different outcome and what happened in the years following. I could focus more on the effects this timeline would have on the rest of the world. The possibilities are almost literally endless. My editor did in fact suggest that I write a story based on this alternate Battle of Tours and its immediate aftermath. At this point, I don’t have any plans to do that, but who knows? If enough people really want to read that story, I just might consider it!

READ THE BLURB


In 732 A.D., the Frankish and Burgundian forces led by Charles Martel defeated an army of the Umayyad Caliphate led by Abdul Rahman Al Ghafiqi and halted the Muslim advance into Christian Europe. At least, that's what happened in the world as you know it.

Step into the world of The Other Side of Hope, where the world as you know it is turned on its head. A world where Charles Martel fell on that field south of Tours, France and was never given his nickname, "The Hammer." A world where Europe came under Muslim rule and Christianity was eventually forced to flee to the shores of a distant land in search of religious freedom. A land where, without support from European colonial powers, they found only conflict and poverty.

In the modern day, this world remains divided. The wealthy Muslim East and the poverty-stricken Christian West are constantly at odds. A single spark is all it takes to ignite fresh conflict and the cycle seems never-ending.

Follow the paths of Ethan Lewis and Hamid Damir as they are put on a collision course with the other side. Will they find hope for a brighter future or be lost in the despair of intractable conflict?

READ AN EXCERPT


When Ethan saw Elisa turn the corner, his eyes lingered on her face for only an instant. The familiar details of her delicate features filled his mind at once and he wondered how they could have ever become blurred. He would have focused on those features longer, much longer. Would have memorized every inch of her face, from the curve of her cheeks, to her soft nose, to the gentle slope of her chin, to her soft red lips, and shining blue eyes.

He would have stared for hours and maybe he would have never left again. But his eyes were immediately drawn away from her face and to her belly, which was large and round.

Ethan stared at her pregnant stomach for a heartbeat that stretched on endlessly. He blinked once and then hot anger, augmented by the sharp pain of betrayal, flared. He’d been gone for months and she’d gotten pregnant with another man’s child while he was fighting for their future.

He took a step toward her and she must have seen the rage in his eyes because she rested a hand on her stomach and backed away. Seeing her fear broke through Ethan’s anger and he stopped.

“Is it…?” he asked softly, almost breathless.

Elisa nodded once, just a small dip of her chin and Ethan knew it was true.

It was his child she was carrying. He was suddenly ashamed that he could have ever thought anything different. Elisa would never betray him.

Even though the revelation of her pregnancy was a shock, Ethan had to admit that it was possible. He hadn’t truly even considered the possibility that it would happen, that she would become pregnant before they were married. Or maybe he had just assumed that it wouldn’t matter if she did, that they would be married either way and no one would ever know the difference.

Yet here they stood.

Ethan stood just inside the doorway, wrestling with feelings of desperation and duty. Elisa at the end of the hallway, eyes wide with a potent mixture of fear and hope.

Ethan held those eyes with his own for a moment longer, then came to his decision. “I’m going to Turkey. Today.”

MEET THE AUTHOR


R.F. Dunham writes with one purpose: to take you places you've never been before. That might be a distant fantasy land, the far reaches of space, the future of earth, or simply to an idea you've never encountered. A student of language and culture, Dunham's stories will pull you into complex worlds that challenge your perception of your own surroundings.

After working for over two years as a professional ghostwriter, the time has finally come for him to release his first full-length novel published in his own name, The Other Side of Hope. His short story, “Just a Drop,” was recently published in Nebula Rift Science Fiction magazine and an interactive version of the story is currently in beta testing. When he’s not writing, R.F. can be found playing the trumpet, writing his thesis in Arabic linguistics, or hiking in the mountains of Virginia.

Website: https://crossfirefiction.wordpress.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/dunhamwriter
Facebook page for TOSOH: https://www.facebook.com/TheOtherSideofHope/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/DunhamWriter
Amazon page: http://www.amazon.com/R.F.-Dunham/e/B015P01IW8/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1456088645&sr=8-1

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Thursday, June 16, 2016

Straight Browsing from the Library: Song of the Oceanides by J.G. Zimbalist


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/BN.com gift card. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour. And... exciting news...the book is now permafree wherever it's sold!

READ THE BLURB


Song of the Oceanides is a highly-experimental triple narrative transgenre fantasy that combines elements of historical fiction, YA, myth and fairy tale, science fiction, paranormal romance, and more. For ages 10-110.

READ AN EXCERPT


Dyce’s Head, Maine.
31 August.

Rory Slocum had only just returned home from Putnam’s General Store and Newsagent when he noticed the girl standing in the heart of the garden. She seemed to be lost in the music of the wind chimes dangling from Mother’s lilac tree. Still, despite the girl’s seeming innocence, somehow he just knew that she must be one of the Oceanides who had been taunting him all summer long.

She must have heard his footsteps in the salty afternoon breeze because she turned to look upon him. What a comely girl too.

A bit of jam and then some! He stopped in his tracks and studied her classical features.

She had plum-black hair, eyes of sea green, bold chiseled planes to her face, fine hallowed cheeks, and a sharp jaw line. How could she be anything but an Oceanide?

Slowly he advanced as far as the fog cannon where he paused a second time. Perhaps he would do something so as to entertain her, and once she realized how amusing he could be, she would tell the others to leave him be. He walked over to the lilac tree. “Look what I’ve got here!” With that he held up his copy of Sir Pilgarlic Guthrie’s Phantasy Retrospectacle.

She must have resented the whole notion that a boy like Rory would even think to approach someone like her. Grimacing, she called to another girl who had just walked up through the gale-torn bluffs. The two of them spoke in a tongue resembling the Byzantine Greek in which the drunken churchwarden sometimes delivered his public addresses.

As giddy as ever, Rory advanced a few more steps. “You know what they call this sort of picture book, do you? Down at Putnam’s, they tell me it’d be un comique pittoresque. Just like the newsagents sell down there in Paris.” Now he pointed to the picture on the dust jacket—the Oceanides’ long flowing hair and the mint-cream linen gowns reaching down to their ankles. Afterward he pointed at the girls themselves standing there in their own creamy-white gowns. “Sir Pilgarlic Guthrie, he’s the bettermost! Everything bang up to the elephant and—”

“Have you any idea how odd you are?” the first Oceanide asked. “And you’ll be beginning your fifth year in school next fall, isn’t that right? They’ll tear you apart, a beanpea like you.”

MEET THE AUTHOR


J.G. ┼╣ymbalist began writing Song of the Oceanides as a child when his family summered in Castine, Maine where they rented out Robert Lowell’s house.

The author returned to the piece while working for the Martha’s Vineyard Historical Society, May-September, 2005. He completed the full draft in Ellsworth, Maine later that year.

For more information, please see http://jgzymbalist.com.

AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE: http://www.amazon.com/JG-Zymbalist/e/B01B1ZLE2A/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1
GOODREADS: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14930590.JG_Zymbalist

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Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Straight Browsing from the Library: How to Draw Cool Stuff by Catherine V. Holmes


This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Catherine will be awarding a $50 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner, and another winner will receive a print copy of How to Draw Cool Stuff (international) both via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

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How to Draw Cool Stuff: Holidays, Seasons and Events is a step-by-step drawing guide that illustrates popular celebrations, holidays and events for your drawing pleasure. From the Chinese New Year to April Fools' Day, Father's Day to Halloween, Christmas and New Year’s Eve - this book covers over 100 fun days, holidays, seasons and events, and offers simple lessons that will teach you how to draw like a pro and get you in the spirit of whichever season it may be!

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This book evolved out of necessity. After exploring art catalogs and libraries and wading through the "how to draw" section of book stores, I found a few good resources but none that had all the qualities I was looking for in a drawing book. Some ideas were too basic and often insulting to my older, more artistic students. Other material seemed to serve as a showcase for beautiful artwork but lacked any concrete instruction.

As a "travelling" art teacher with a limited budget and limited preparation time, I need a single resource that is easy to transport and can be used to teach all levels of students from middle school to high school and beyond. This book was created to fill that need and I want to share it with teachers and artists in similar situations. These projects will allow you to bring interesting and informative lessons that offer clear objectives and foster achievement without the need for expensive/multi-dimensional supplies: a regular pencil and eraser is all that is needed (sometimes a ruler or fine pen). Fancy art pencils, costly paper or kneaded erasers are not required for success. All pages have been student tested and approved.

MEET THE AUTHOR


Catherine V. Holmes is an art/ELA teacher and visual artist from historical Plymouth, Massachusetts. She studied at Boston University and at Bridgewater State College where she earned her BFA and MA in ED. She is currently working towards her second Master's from the University of Scranton. Catherine Holmes specializes in portraits, architecture and illustrations. Her art is inspired by her feelings, ideas, and experiences, whether they are found in nature, the media or in man-made structures. Catherine is also heavily influenced by the interests and suggestions of her students. "To see success through their eyes inspires me to be a better teacher and creator of art."

FACEBOOK: http://goddessfishpromotions.blogspot.com/2016/06/book-blast-how-to-draw-cool-stuff.html
WEBSITE: http://www.howtodrawcoolstuff.com

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Monday, June 13, 2016

Straight Browsing from the Library: The Girl Who Could Change Fate by Cassidy Ostergren


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

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Lacey Joy White considers herself unremarkable in every way: she worries over choosing the right clothes, tries to maintain a D in chemistry, and spends nights creeping on her crush on Facebook. And she can alter the future.

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“How did you guys know we were here?” asked Christian quietly.

Dawson dispelled his gaze from his dead friend. “Some drunken buddies of mine told me they couldn’t believe part of the party was making fireworks out of my barn. I came to check out what they meant when I ran into Brandon and Courtney. They called the police and the Regime right away.”

I gaped at him. Party? What party? And then it jolted me—Dawson’s Halloween shindig, where normal people were getting sloshed and making out with friends and not getting killed. Had that all really been a mere half an hour or so ago?

I knelt down and cradled my face in my hands. Trinity stooped to rub my back. But her motherly caressing couldn’t stop the silently spreading need inside of me…I wasn’t normal, no—not like Emily Boyle and her Creepe cronies and all those others. I had my gift, the one which I couldn’t help but seek to use…And did Christian undergo any of this when he exploited his Memory Shifting?

I glanced up at him, hoping to recognize any sign that he had enjoyed manipulating his power, savoring that untamed triumph, in that moment where he had control like no one else did. But he just stood there, defeated, shaking his head absently.

MEET THE AUTHOR


Cassidy Ostergren was born and grew up in the DC metropolitan area. She attended Roanoke College in Salem, VA, where she majored in Creative Writing and English, and published several of her works in both the college and local magazines. She is currently a full-time novelist of YA fiction and lives on Oak Island, NC, where she enjoys taking walks on the beach with her dog and composing her newest stories.

CREATIVIA WEBSITE: http://www.creativia.org
AUTHOR PAGE: http://www.creativia.org/cassidy-ostergren.html
TWITTER: https://twitter.com/GrooveyGirl14
FACEBOOK: http://www.facebook.com/ctivia

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Friday, June 10, 2016

Straight Browsing from the Library: Falling for Sarah by Cate Beauman


This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Click on the tour banner for more chances to win a $25 Amazon or B/N GC.

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Widow Sarah Johnson struggled to pick up the pieces after her life was ripped apart. After two years of grieving, she's found contentment in her thriving business as photographer to Hollywood's A-list and in raising her angel-faced daughter, Kylee... until bodyguard and long-time friend Ethan Cooke changes everything with a searing moonlight kiss.

Sarah's world turns upside down as she struggles with her unexpected attraction to Ethan and the guilt of betraying her husband's memory. But when blue roses and disturbing notes start appearing on her doorstep, she has no choice but to lean on Ethan as he fights to save her from a stalker that won't stop until he has what he prizes most.

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Sarah had feared this day would never come for her friend. After Jake’s death, Hunter had closed himself off to happiness, blaming himself for something that had never been his fault. A month on duty in the mountains of Yellowstone protecting Morgan had taken care of that. He’d lost his heart while they’d dodged gunfire and run from corrupt government officials. Now, in less than twenty-four hours, Morgan and Hunter would be married.

“Are we finished here?” Hunter said as he set Morgan down.

“Yes, the torture is officially over,” Sarah said, smiling.

Morgan enveloped her in a hug. “We really do appreciate you doing this for us.”

Sarah hugged her back. “I’m happy to.”

Hunter moved in, giving Sarah a quick kiss on the forehead. “Yes, we do. Thank you.”

“You’re welcome.”

Morgan glanced at her watch. “We’re cutting it a little close. We need to get home and change before we head over to the resort. Do you want to ride with us, Sarah?”

“No, I still have to pack a few of Kylee’s things and make sure Hailey can join us tomorrow. Are you sure you want us staying with you tonight? You need a good night’s sleep.”

“Of course I do. Hunter will be with Ethan. I want my Matron of Honor and flower girl with me.”

“Then we’ll be there.” Sarah shouldered her camera bag, and they made their way to their cars. She unlocked her blue sedan and got in. “I’ll see you in a bit.”

MEET THE AUTHOR


International bestselling author Cate Beauman is known for her full-length, action-packed romantic suspense series, The Bodyguards of L.A. County. Her novels have been nominated for the National Excellence in Romance Fiction Award, National Indie Excellence Award, Golden Quill Award, Writers Touch Award, and have been named Readers Favorite Five Star books. In 2015, JUSTICE FOR ABBY was selected as the Readers' Favorite International Book Award Gold Medalist, while SAVING SOPHIE took the Silver Medal. SAVING SOPHIE was also selected as the 2015 Readers Crown Award winner for Romantic Suspense and FALLING FOR SARAH received the silver medal for the 2014 Readers' Favorite Awards.

Cate makes her home in North Carolina with her husband, two boys, and their St. Bernards, Bear and Jack. Currently Cate is working on Deceiving Bella, the eleventh novel in her popular Bodyguards series.

For information on Cate's new releases, monthly giveaways, and upcoming events, sign up for her newsletter at: http://www.catebeauman.com/author/home.html#!newsletter-sign-up/c9td

Cate can be reached at www.catebeauman.com and www.facebook.com/catebeauman. You can follow Cate on Twitter @CateBeauman

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