A Dog’s Day: Scrapbook Page

I AM JAX, 
PROTECTOR OF THE RANCH 
and 
I AM AVA, 
SEEKER IN THE SNOW
A Dog’s Day Series, Books 1 and 2
By CATHERINE STIER
Illustrated by Francesca Rosa
 
Animals / Adventure / Farm Life / Ranch Life / Chapter Books 
Date of Publication: April 1, 2020
Number of Pages: 96
 
Scroll down for the giveaway!

Spend a day in the life of a livestock guardian dog! Jax the Great Pyrenees has a big job. After the Texas sun goes down, it’s up to him and two other LGDs to protect their ranch from predators. But when the lead dog gets hurt, Jax and a
young pup are the only ones left to protect the flock through the night. Told from the dog’s perspective, this story also includes back matter about the breed and role of the working dog.

 
 
 
 
 
 
Spend a day in the life of an avalanche rescue dog! Ava is a chocolate Labrador retriever with a big job. She and her handler have trained for years to be ready to help people at their ski resort if an unexpected avalanche hits. But Ava quickly finds out there’s much more to being an avy dog than daring rescues. Told from the dog’s perspective, this riveting story also includes back matter about the breed and the role of the working dog.
 

 

 

 

I Am Ava, Seeker in the Snow

Scrapbook Page by Catherine Stier

Catherine Stier, a former Midwesterner, now lives deep in the heart of Southwest Texas, on the edge of the beautiful Hill Country. Her children’s books have received honors and awards from the Society of School Librarians International, the International Reading Association, and the Bank Street College of Education.

Stier has served as a frequent contributor to Woman’s Day Magazine and as a newspaper columnist. Her work has also appeared in Highlights for Children, My Friend, Child Life, and several newspapers, including the Chicago Sun-Times and the San Antonio Express-News.

Stier’s lively and interactive Author’s Visit programs have entertained, educated, and inspired thousands of children. Visit Catherine Stier’s website at www.catherinestier.com for more information, activities, and free curriculum guides.

 
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ONE WINNER: Hardcover copy of I Am Jax, Protector of the Ranch (Book 1), hardcover copy of I Am Ava, Seeker in the Snow (Book 2), $15 gift card to The Twig Book Shop, stuffed animal – adorable “Ava” Lab dog toy, dog stickers, dog socks.  
September 17-27, 2020 
(US ONLY)
 
CLICK TO VISIT THE LONE STAR LITERARY LIFE TOUR PAGE FOR DIRECT LINKS TO EACH POST ON THIS TOUR, UPDATED DAILY, 

or visit the blogs directly:

9/17/20
BONUS Post
9/17/20
Review Jax
9/18/20
Character Interview
9/19/20
Review Ava + BONUS Jax Review
9/20/20
Jax Scrapbook
9/21/20
Ava Scrapbook
9/22/20
Review Jax
9/23/20
Review Ava
9/24/20
Sneak Peek Jax
9/25/20
Review Jax
9/26/20
Review Ava
 
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The People We Meet Along the Way: Blitz

The People We Meet Along The Way
Beth Rinyu
Publication date: September 17th 2020
Genres: Romance, Women’s Fiction

Would you be able to grant the same forgiveness to someone else that you’re so desperately seeking yourself?

Jillian O’Rourke’s marriage died long before her husband’s tragic accident. Years of battling with infertility and demanding careers melted their once solid relationship. Bearing the burden of guilt over his death, Jillian gets lost in despair and a series of what ifs. But one chance encounter with a stranger, changes everything. Now being faced with newfound knowledge and a painful decision, Jillian must push past her anger, learn to forgive and open her heart in ways she never could’ve imagined. As she comes to grips with the devastation of her past, she learns to embrace the possibility of a future she never thought possible. A bittersweet story of love, forgiveness, and the unexpected destiny that is sometimes handed to us in life from the people we meet along the way.

Goodreads / Amazon

EXCERPT:

“I just wish you didn’t hate me so much.” I concentrated on the coffee in my cup as I swirled the wooden stirrer round and round.

“I don’t hate you,” I said, focusing my attention back to him. “I hate what we did. I hate that I let it define who I was for so long, and I hate that I hurt someone I cared about so much because of it. But I don’t hate you—you were just one of the many cracks in my life.”

He creased his forehead. “I don’t understand.”

I gazed at him long and hard, finally fearless of the shame the man staring back at me conjured up inside of me. He held no control over me, and he never had. I stood up and pushed my chair in as he sat there waiting for an explanation. “And I wouldn’t have expected you to. Goodbye, Jonathan.”

Author Bio:

Ever since I can remember, I have always enjoyed Creative Writing. There was always something about being able to travel to a different place or become a different person with just the stroke of a pen – or in today’s world a touch of the keyboard. I love creating deep characters who you will love or love to hate.

My life is not as interesting as my books or the characters in them, but then again whose life is? My happy place is a seat by the ocean with my feet in the sand or on the busy streets of New York City. You will more than likely find one of these places as the setting for most of my books.

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Beginning’s End: Blitz

Beginning’s End
M. Dalto
(The Empire Saga #3)
Published by: Parliament House
Publication date: September 8th 2020
Genres: Fantasy, New Adult

Ever since her unexpected return to the Empire, all Queen Empress Alexstrayna wanted was to protect her family. Despite of the life-altering events that occurred within the Borderlands, her family – those that remained- were all she had left, and as Empress is was her predestined duty to protect the while ensuring the safety of the Empire.

But when the ever-threatening forces from the Borderlands challenge all she has worked towards to maintain that peace, she must search within herself to discover a new magic stronger than anything the Annals have foretold before.

Goodreads / Amazon

Previous books in the series:

EXCERPT:

The lords from the outlying territories began arriving a week later.

Alex and Reylor had made the decision together that the lords would be called to the palace as soon as Alex was well enough to receive them. Rumors spread since the incident within the Borderlands, with some even questioning the health and well-being of the Queen Empress. That Alex had returned was one thing—it was as if the lords flocked to them only to see her in the flesh, living and breathing, to decide if she was truly capable of leading them.

War was coming.

There was nothing Alex could do to stop it. She knew she needed lords on her side, to believe her position, and to listen to her when the Empire needed them the most.

She had taken up residence in the rooms that once belonged to Reylor. They were a few of the only rooms that hadn’t been affected by the library’s explosion, and therefore were not disturbed by the ongoing efforts to stabilize the palace and return it to its former glory. She had initially insisted Reylor have his own rooms back, but he refused to have her reside anywhere else, and instead he took up residence in the Council’s chambers; the proper place for the Lord Steward, he told her.

One benefit of her title Alex did not reinstitute were her Mistresses.

With two of them dead, and the third dismissed for her own safety before she left the Empire, she didn’t have it in her to petition any more innocents to wait on her when there was too much at stake being a member of her inner circle. She looked after herself—dressing herself, doing her own hair. It was no different than when she was on her own in Boston, and she appreciated the time alone when she had it.

She had just finished donning her dress—simple yet elegant enough the lords wouldn’t question her level of formality when she greeted them. Her jewelry and crown and all other frivolous items were lost when the palace collapsed and she was in no state to replace them.

Wartime was not a time for embellishment.

She assessed her reflection in the mirror in passing as she grabbed her hairbrush. Alex had lost weight—she had been bedridden for a week and never regained any of it back. She ate, but nowhere near enough; nothing satisfied her. Yet, by some magic of the Empire, she looked…beautiful. As if her perfect hair, bright eyes, and flawless skin was enough of a mask to hide the destruction beneath.

Alex was a mess, but the power of the Empire refused to show the truth behind the mask.

She hated it.

She wasn’t sure she would ever be how she was supposed to be. She knew Reylor tried to keep her mind from drifting—the constant stares, taunts, dinner invitations. Perhaps he thought it would keep her preoccupied, but it wasn’t working. Or it hadn’t been working. More recently, she found herself thinking about his invitations…for no other reason than she was lonely.

A mess.

A desperate mess.

Author Bio:

M. Dalto is a bestselling New Adult author of adventurous romantic fantasy stories, having won a Watty award for excellence in digital storytelling for her debut novel, Two Thousand Years, in 2016. She spends her days as a full-time residential real estate paralegal, using her evenings to pursue her literary agenda, and when she’s not writing, she enjoys reading fantasy novels, playing video games, and drinking coffee. She currently lives in Massachusetts with her husband, their daughter, and their corgi named Loki.

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The Edge of Belonging: Top Five

THE EDGE OF BELONGING

by AMANDA COX 

Genre: Christian Contemporary Fiction 
Publisher: Revell
Date of Publication: September 8, 2020
Number of Pages: 400

Scroll down for the giveaway!

When Ivy Rose returns to her hometown to oversee her late grandmother’s estate sale, she soon discovers that the woman left behind more than trinkets and photo framesshe provided a path to the truth behind Ivy’s adoption. Shocked, Ivy seeks clues to her past, but a key piece to the mystery is missing.

Twenty-four years earlier, Harvey James finds an abandoned newborn who gives him a sense of human connection for the first time in his life. His desire to care for the baby runs up against the stark fact that he is homeless. When he becomes entwined with two people seeking to help him find his way, Harvey knows he must keep the baby a secret or risk losing the only person he’s ever loved.
In this dual-timeline story from debut novelist Amanda Cox, the truthboth the search for it and the desire to keep it from otherstakes center stage as Ivy and Harvey grapple with love, loss, and letting go.
 

My Top 5 Ingredients for Character Creation

by Amanda Cox, author of

The Edge of Belonging

Character creation is one of my favorite elements of writing. Characters often come to me before the plot. Once I know the character, I’m able to see what the plot needs to take a character from where they start at the beginning of the book to the character they grow to be at the end. I often tap into my experience as a counselor to make these story decisions. These are my top five things that make characters come alive for me.

1. The brokenness they enter the story with, or their backstory: We all have a story behind who we are and why we are motivated to make certain choices in life. If we all have a story of where we came from, my fiction characters need that too! I often know the character’s backstory before I know the plotline that appears on the page. Elements from the character backstory usually provide barriers between the character and their deepest desire (or even being able to name what that desire is). This was especially true for one of my point-of-view characters, Pearl, in The Edge of Belonging.

2. The people/events who shape my characters, for better and worse: All of my characters have both positive influences and negative influences that have shaped them. I need to understand who and what those influences are as a part of character creation. Those positive and negative people and circumstances build my characters’ strengths. After all, most weaknesses are strengths that are overly relied upon, placing the character in unhealthy behavior patterns. In The Edge of Belonging, Harvey’s staunch independence, resulting from his experiences in foster care, was necessary for his survival and resilience, but that same coping skill is the very thing that has kept him from a deep human need he can’t even bring himself to admit.

3. Deeply held values: I have to know what matters to my characters: values of family and connections, values related to safety and self-preservation, values of independence or the opposite of that. My characters’ deep-seated values will inform me of how they will react to the events of the plot. In creating Ivy, I thought a lot about what it would have been like to be raised by her family—this cast of characters who would never take family for granted because they each had to fight so hard to find it. Forsaking this deeply held value is part of why Ivy finds herself feeling quite lost at the beginning of The Edge of Belonging.

4. Identifying their deepest desire: I often identify my characters’ deepest desires by looking at their brokenness. When we are broken as people, there is something there that craves restoration and redemption of the thing lost. By digging around in that space, I find what my character truly wants, which shapes the way they move through the story. Identifying Harvey’s deepest desire was a tender process. It involved looking back into his painful past and feeling what he must have felt. Acknowledging the heartbreaking truth that Harvey believed he was incapable and unworthy of his childlike desire for love was such an important part of the process for developing his character.

5. Discovering the catalyst for change: Anytime someone, fictional or real, makes a true and lasting change in their life there has to be a catalyst for that change. Not just any event will do, and it must happen at the right moment in the story for the character to be ready for that change to happen. It also has to be something that will impact a character in a very specific way. It might be a big event or a subtle, slow burn that makes that impact. But there comes a point about midway through the story in which a character is like a caterpillar in their cocoon. They aren’t a butterfly yet and don’t exactly know how their transformation will complete itself, but they know there is no going back to the person they once were. They can’t return to their previous state. One such point for Harvey occurs when he realizes that he is angry at another character named Pearl, and this anger causes him to realize that something in him has shifted. He realizes that this anger means he has forged a human connection beyond the infant he has rescued. It leads him to wonder if there is more love accessible to him than he previously believed.

While there are many other important ingredients in character creation, these are my top five must-haves for every character before I start writing my plot.

Amanda Cox is a blogger and a curriculum developer for a national nonprofit youth leadership organization, but her first love is communicating through story. 

She holds a bachelor’s degree in Bible and theology and a master’s degree in professional counseling. Her studies and her interactions with hurting families over a decade have allowed her to create multidimensional characters that connect emotionally with readers. 
 
Amanda lives in Tennessee with her husband and their three children.
————————————-
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THREE WINNERS 
1st: Copy of The Edge of Belonging + Fern Tote Bag 
+ $25 Barnes and Noble Gift Card 
2nd and 3rd: Copy of The Edge of Belonging
+ $10 Barnes and Noble Gift Card 
September 1-11, 2020
(U.S. Only)
FOR DIRECT LINKS TO EACH POST ON THIS TOUR, UPDATED DAILY. 

 

Or, visit the blogs directly:

9/1/20
Author Interview
9/1/20
BONUS Promo
9/2/20
Excerpt
9/3/20
Review
9/4/20
Review
9/5/20
Playlist
9/6/20
Author Interview
9/7/20
Review
9/8/20
Top Five List
9/9/20
Review
9/9/20
BONUS Promo
9/10/20
Review

   
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A Vote Is A Powerful Thing: Blitz

A VOTE IS A 
POWERFUL THING
By CATHERINE STIER
Illustrated by Courtney Dawson
 
Children’s Picture Book / American Historical Fiction / Elections and Voting 
Ages 4-7
Date of Publication: September 1, 2020
Number of Pages: 32
 
Scroll down for the giveaway!

 

Callie knows there’s a presidential election coming up, and people will soon vote to decide the country’s leader. 
 
Her class is having an election too, about an issue that affects them all–the class field trip. Should they choose the cookie factory or the wilderness park? 
 
Join Callie as she campaigns for the wilderness park she loves and learns how people have organized, marched, and protested for the right to vote. And find out how a vote–even just one vote–can make a difference!
PRAISE FOR A VOTE IS A POWERFUL THING
“Gets the job done.” ―Kirkus Reviews 
 
“A galvanizing read for children interested in politics or parents who hope to instill such interests.” ―Publishers Weekly
 
CLICK TO PURCHASE

 

Catherine Stier is the author of several awarding-winning children’s books. Her titles include If I Were President, If I Ran for President, If I Were a Park Ranger, and the A Dog’s Day chapter-book series. In grade school, Catherine ran a class campaign for student council with handmade signs, and, although she didn’t win, she found the process exciting! She went on to earn an MA in reading and literacy from the University of Texas at San Antonio and has conducted children’s literature research. She now resides with her husband in San Antonio and volunteers at a local wilderness park.

 

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GIVEAWAY! GIVEAWAY! GIVEAWAY! 
ONE WINNER: Copies of each of the three election-series books;
patriotic socks, button, and pencils; plus a $15 gift card to The Twig Book Shop.
 
September 4-10, 2020 
(US ONLY)

CLICK TO VISIT THE LONE STAR LITERARY LIFE TOUR PAGE FOR DIRECT LINKS TO EACH POST ON THIS TOUR.
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Airborne Blog Tour: Author Video and Giveaway


AIRBORNE
by DiANN MILLS

Genre: Christian Romantic Suspense 
Date of Publication: September 8, 2020
Number of Pages: 400 Scroll down for the giveaway!


Heather Lawrence’s long-awaited vacation to Salzburg wasn’t supposed to go like this. Mere hours into the transatlantic flight, the Houston FBI agent is awakened when passengers begin exhibiting horrific symptoms of an unknown infection. As the virus quickly spreads and dozens of passengers fall ill, Heather fears she’s witnessing an epidemic similar to ones her estranged husband studies for a living—but this airborne contagion may have been deliberately released. While Heather remains quarantined with other survivors, she works with her FBI colleagues to identify the person behind this attack. The prime suspect? Dr. Chad Lawrence, an expert in his field … and Heather’s husband. The Lawrences’ marriage has been on the rocks since Chad announced his career took precedence over his wife and future family and moved out. 
As more victims fall prey days after the initial outbreak, time’s running out to hunt down the killer, one who may be closer to the victims than anyone ever expected.

=== A NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR The story line for Airborne came to me three and a half years ago. All I had was a what-if: A virus unleashed on an international flight. The search to find experts who were willing to give me accurate information took another year. Along the way, God placed the right people in my path: a woman and new friend whose doctorate is in microbiology and immunology, a man who trains flight attendants for the airline that I envisioned in my story, a pilot who not only flies for my designated airline but is also a suspense and thriller writer, the amazing people and resources of the CDC, and the wisdom and guidance of the FBI. Tyndale House Publishers saw my passion for Airborne. This book was completed and edited before COVID-19 spread across our globe. My mission then and now is to show a story that weaves hope, reality, and the sacrificial work of first responders when a deadly virus spreads through innocent people. My prayer is people will experience God’s presence during our current global crisis. Will you join me in that prayer?


  
CLICK TO PURCHASE






Research Behind Airborne by DiAnn Mills



DiAnn Mills is a bestselling author who believes her readers should expect an adventure. She is a founding board member of the American Christian Fiction Writers; director, alongside Edie Melson, of the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference and Mountainside Retreats; and a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and International Thriller Writers. DiAnn is passionate about helping other writers be successful and speaks to various groups and teaches writing workshops around the country. She and her husband live in sunny Houston. DiAnn is very active online and loves to connect with readers on social media and at diannmills.com

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FOUR WINNERS Each gets a signed, personalized hardcover edition of Airborne choice of either $25 Amazon or $25 Barnes and Noble e-Gift Card August 18-28, 2020
(U.S. Only)

FOR DIRECT LINKS TO EACH POST ON THIS TOUR, UPDATED DAILY. 

Or, visit the blogs directly:
8/18/20
Book Trailer
8/18/20
Review
8/19/20
Author Video
8/19/20
BONUS Post
8/20/20
Guest Post
8/20/20
Review
8/21/20
Review
8/22/20
Excerpt
8/23/20
Excerpt
8/24/20
Scrapbook
8/24/20
Review
8/25/20
Character Interview
8/26/20
Review
8/26/20
Author Video
8/27/20
Review
8/27/20
Review

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Nacho’s Nacho’s: Review

NACHO’S NACHOS
The Story Behind the 
World’s Favorite Snack
by
Sandra Nickel
Illustrated by 
Oliver Dominguez

Genre: Picture Book / Nonfiction / Food History / Latinx Interest 
Publisher: Lee & Low Books
Publication Date: August 11, 2020
Number of Pages: 32
Scroll down for the giveaway!

NACHO’S NACHOS is the deliciously true story about how nachos were invented—about what happened when a regular customer asked Ignacio “Nacho” Anaya for something new, and there were no chefs in the kitchen. 

 
2020 is the eightieth anniversary of the invention, and Oliver Dominguez’s illustrations transport us back to the border of the Rio Grande in 1940, when Nacho’s quick thinking resulted in a snack now eaten everywhere from Texas to Paris to Hong Kong!

 

CLICK TO PURCHASE:


This book basically has two of my favorite things in it. Art and cheese related food. I’m not ashamed to say it. So I’ll split it into parts.

 

The Art:
I will try to express how much I love the art style in this book. I was instantly blown away by the composition and level of detail. Dominguez truly shows such care and passion in his artwork. The expressions of every person jumps out from the page, bringing it to life with joy and spirit. It also brought back those great memories of making tortilla’s with my mom and grandma in her kitchen. I’m fairly sure my grandma used to have the shirt Ignacio’s foster mom was wearing as well. I especially love the use of colors that stay in theme throughout and makes the story flow. The use of texture and point of view keep you interested and brings energy to every scene. The neon lights were very impressive too! I seriously loved it beginning to end.

 

The history of Nacho and nachos:
Do you ever hear the history of something and wonder why you never thought of it before? I never thought about where or when nacho’s came into being. It just seemed like an obvious snack that everyone knows about. However, my eyes and tastebuds have opened because there’s so much more to the story. To read Ignacio’s history was an absolute treat. I never knew that nacho’s started out so simple and spur of the moment. From Nickel’s research to finding an interview of Ignacio himself, I was really impressed by the easy to read backstory and additional history of its popularity at the end. Plus the recipe! I’ve never tried Nacho’s nachos recipe but I certainly shall!

 

There’s a great giveaway included in this tour so take your chance now to win a copy! I want to thank Lone Star Book Blog Tours for allowing me to review this book and inspire me to find out more about the history of what brings smiles to the world. We need it!

 

Sandra Nickel writes books and poetry for young readers. In 2020 and 2021, she has three books coming out: Nacho’s Nachos: The Story Behind the World’s Favorite Snack (Lee & Low), The Stuff Between the Stars: How Vera Rubin Discovered Most of the Universe (Abrams), and Breaking Through the Clouds: The Sometimes Turbulent Life of Meteorologist Joanne Simpson (Abrams). Sandra’s poetry can be found in SCOOP magazine. 

 
Sandra holds an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts and has presented workshops on writing for children and young adults throughout Europe and the United States. Sandra has twice won the Katherine Paterson Prize for picture books.
———————————
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FIVE WINNERS! 
3 Winners: Print Copy + Recipe Card; 2 Winners: Recipe Card.
AUGUST 20-30, 2020
(US ONLY)
FOR DIRECT LINKS TO EACH POST ON THIS TOUR, UPDATED DAILY, 

or visit the blogs directly:

8/20/20
Author Interview
8/20/20
Sneak Peek
8/21/20
Review
8/21/20
Guest Post
8/22/20
Review
8/23/20
Author Interview
8/24/20
Review
8/25/20
Review
8/25/20
Scrapbook Page
8/26/20
Guest Post
8/27/20
Review
8/28/20
Review
8/28/20
Top Ten
8/29/20
Review
8/29/20
Review
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The Secret of You and Me: Guest Post and Giveaway

THE SECRET OF YOU AND ME
by
MELISSA LENHARDT
Genre: Women’s Fiction / Romance  Publisher:  Graydon House (Harlequin)
Date of Publication: August 4, 2020
Number of Pages: 352 Scroll down for the giveaway!
True love never fades—and old secrets never die . . . 
Nora hasn’t looked back. Not since she fled Texas to start a new life. Away from her father’s volatile temper and the ever-watchful gaze of her claustrophobically conservative small town, Nora has freed herself. She can live—and love—however she wants. The only problem is that she also left behind the one woman she can’t forget. Now tragedy calls her back home to confront her past—and reconcile her future. Sophie seems to have everything—a wonderful daughter, a successful husband, and a rewarding career. Yet underneath that perfection lies an explosive secret. She still yearns for Nora—her best friend and first love—despite all the years between them. Keeping her true self hidden hasn’t been easy, but it’s been necessary. So when Sophie finds out that Nora has returned, she hopes Nora’s stay is short. The life she has built depends on it. But they both find that first love doesn’t fade easily. Memories come to light, passion ignites, and old feelings resurface. As the forces of family and intolerance that once tore them apart begin to reemerge, they realize some things may never change—unless they demand it.
                          
PRAISE FOR THE SECRET OF YOU AND ME: “A compelling story of second chances and being true to yourself.” —Harper Bliss, bestselling author of Seasons of Love
“Lenhardt convinces in her portrayal of the conflict between desire and control.” —Publishers Weekly
CLICK TO PURCHASE
(Personalized/signed copies available through Interabang)
A portion of royalties are going to the It Gets Better Project (Click for more details.)

It Gets Better

by Melissa Lenhardt,

author of The Secret of You and Me

I have been trying to write a modern-day version of Persuasion for over a decade. When I had a break between contracted books at the beginning of 2016, I decided to tackle the project again. I would set it in Texas, naturally, and went about staring at walls and the tree outside my office window for character inspiration. When Nora and Charlie walked into my head, I tried to imagine who would have the outsized influence on Nora that Lady Russell had on Anne Elliott. If I stuck with the Persuasion outline, it would be a mother figure. Nothing about writing that scenario appealed to me. (I decided early on not to do a faithful scene for scene, character for character retelling, but more of an homage to Persuasion, like Bridget Jones’s Diary is to Pride and Prejudice.) Then Sophie Russell knocked on the door of my imagination and said, “Hi, I’m about to take over your book. Hope you don’t mind.”

 

As Nora, Sophie, and Charlie coalesced, I realized something; Sophie was in love with Nora, and the feeling was mutual.

 

As someone who didn’t identify with the LGBTQ community, I needed to ask for help, do my research, listen to feedback from lesbians and bisexual women, and admit, I’m ignorant; please help. I have a lovely friend, Kat, who encouraged me to write the story and offered to read it and help me with representation.

 

I expected this book to be challenging to write since it wasn’t my lived experience. But, falling in love is falling in love, and it was easy to imagine Nora and Sophie feeling the same as I did when I fell in love with my husband. I didn’t realize until I read the first draft that Sophie’s experiences and challenges mirrored the challenges I observed firsthand of a loved one of mine who’d been closeted in a small town. I thought about what they’d gone through and how it affected their happiness and success for years and determined to do what I could to help. Shutting up and listening and believing the experiences of marginalized communities is the first step to understanding. I wasn’t about to barrel my woke-white-lady way into a movement and try to take over or even ask the community to do the work for me by saying, I’m here to help. Tell me what to do.

 

I decided the best way to support the community, at present, is to donate a portion of my royalties to an LGBTQ youth charity, and the It Gets Better Project fits perfectly.

From the It Gets Better Project website:

 

The It Gets Better Project is a nonprofit organization with a mission to uplift, empower, and connect lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer youth around the globe. Growing up isn’t easy, especially when you are trying to affirm and assert your sexual orientation and/or gender identity. It can be a challenging and isolating process—but, the good news is, no one has to do it alone.

 

I don’t want LGBTQ youth to have to go through the same struggles my loved one did, which is why I’m donating 10 percent of my royalties from The Secret of You and Me to the It Gets Better Project. Visit their website for more information or to donate directly.



Melissa Lenhardt is a women’s fiction, mystery, and historical fiction author. Her debut mystery, Stillwater, was a finalist for the 2014 Whidbey Writers’ MFA Alumni Emerging Writers Contest, and Sawbones, her historical-fiction debut, was hailed as a “thoroughly original, smart and satisfying hybrid, perhaps a new sub-genre: the feminist Western” by Lone Star Literary Life. The New York Times called her sixth novel, Heresy, “An all-out women-driven, queer, transgender, multiracial takeover of the Old West.” The Secret of You and Me, her seventh novel and her first contemporary women’s fiction novel, was published on August 4, 2020. When Melissa isn’t writing, she’s thinking, “I really should be writing,” and eating Nutella or peanut butter straight out of the jar. A lifelong Texan, she lives in the Dallas area with her husband, two sons, and two Golden Retrievers.
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TWO WINNERS each get a signed hardcover copy of the book and their choice of either a FaceTime call or virtual book-club visit with the author.
 August 11-21, 2020
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FOR DIRECT LINKS TO EACH POST ON THIS TOUR, UPDATED DAILY. 
Or, visit the blogs directly:

8/11/20
Author Interview
8/11/20
Review
8/12/20
Review
8/12/20
BONUS Post
8/13/20
Review
8/14/20
Top Six List
8/14/20
Review
8/15/20
Excerpt
8/16/20
Guest Post
8/17/20
Review
8/17/20
Review
8/18/20
Audio Spotlight
8/19/20
Review
8/19/20
Review
8/20/20
Review
8/20/20
Review

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The Black Midnight: Excerpt and Giveaway


THE BLACK MIDNIGHT
by
Kathleen Y’Barbo

Genre: Fiction / Historical Mystery / True Crime  
Publisher: Barbour Books 
Publication Date: August 1, 2020 
Number of Pages: 257

 Scroll down for the giveaway!


Two killers, two detectives, and a menace called The Black Midnight may be the death of both of them. Three years before Jack the Ripper began his murderous spree on the streets of London, a killer struck fear into the hearts of the citizens of Austin, Texas. Some believe one man is responsible for both, while others lay the blame at the feet of someone close to the queen herself. With suspicion falling on Her Majesty’s family and Scotland Yard at a loss as to who the Ripper might be, Queen Victoria summons her great-granddaughter, Alice Anne von Wettin, a former Pinkerton agent who worked the unsolved Austin murders case, and orders her to discreetly form a team to look into the London matter. One man is essential to her team, and she doesn’t want to consider taking on this challenge without his expertise. Unfortunately, he’s back in Texas, with a bad attitude and a new profession. 
The prospect of a second chance at catching the man who terrorized Austin three years ago just might entice Isaiah Joplin out of his comfortable life as an Austin lawyer, even if it does mean working with the Queen’s great-granddaughter again. If his theories are right, they’ll find the Midnight Assassin and, by default, the Ripper. If they’re wrong, he and Annie are in a bigger mess than the one the lady detective left behind when she departed Austin under cover of darkness three years ago. 
Can the unlikely pair find the truth of who is behind the murders before they are drawn into the killer’s deadly game? From Texas to London, the story navigates the fine line between truth and fiction as Annie and Isaiah ultimately find the hunters have become the hunted.
PRAISE for The Black Midnight: 
“Warning! Don’t read this historical romantic suspense at night!” DiAnn Mills, Expect an Adventure 
“Impeccably researched with sparkling dialogue and riveting history, Kathleen Y’Barbo’s The Black Midnight puts a pair of star-crossed Pinkerton detectives on the trail of a Texas killer who may also be the notorious Jack the Ripper. Very highly recommended and sure to keep you reading well past your bedtime!!” Colleen Thompson, RITA-nominated author of Deadly Texas Summer 
“You’re in for a wild ride as Kathleen Y’Barbo takes you on a story through some of America and Britain’s grisliest murders and somehow manages to weave in a delicious romance. From Texas to London, the ties that bind may be more linked than you previously believed. Settle in for a novel of suspense and romancejust be sure to look over your shoulder every now and then!” Jaime Jo Wright, 2018 Christy Award-winning author of The House on Foster Hill and 2020 Inspy Award-nominated The Curse of Misty Wayfair

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Excerpt from Chapter 22 of The Black Midnight

by Kathleen Y’Barbo

Part 1 

A meeting with Queen Victoria’s advisors

Buckingham Palace, London

April 1889

 

“You may speak freely here,” Annie told him.

“Very well, it concerns your relative, Prince Albert Victor.”

Her attention went to the prime minister who showed no reaction. Then she turned to Kellum.

“I see.” Annie folded her hands in front of her. The man she knew as Uncle Eddy, that the public called Prince Eddy, had a rather interesting reputation, to put it mildly. Still, murder was well beyond anything she would expect of him. “Go on.”

“There have been some rumors…”

He paused, obviously uncomfortable with the topic. Annie wondered if he’d drawn the short straw in the competition to see which of them would be speaking today. Or rather, which would not.

“That is it has been whispered, quietly of course and certainly not intimated in the press or amongst those who might speak publicly…”

Annie shook her head. “If you could just say it, that would be most helpful, sir. I assure you I am not the delicate sort, and I prefer a man who speaks his mind plainly and clearly.”

Kellum gave Simon a helpless look, prompting the police officer to nod. “What Lord Brixton is saying is that there is a theory that the prince could be the killer—this Jack the Ripper–that we are looking for.”

Lord Brixton. Yes, she remembered him now. Papa hadn’t particularly cared for him.

“I-I-I am not advancing that theory,” Mr. Kellum stammered. “However sordid or false, which it likely is, what I am saying is that it is something that has been spoken about, though not publicly. At least not in the newspapers. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention it.”

He looked around to the other advisors, and they all nodded. Then he returned his attention to Annie. “If we did not mention it,” he amended. “Our hope is that this investigation might prove that the prince is innocent of any atrocities. Were it to be found otherwise, I do not know how we would manage to tell Her Majesty.”

“So she hasn’t heard these rumors?” Annie asked. “Are you certain? I have found that the Queen is quite intelligent and generally well informed, even about rumors. Nothing gets past her, so do not underestimate her knowledge on this subject.”

“We have heard these rumors.” Granny swept into the blue room with a sea of courtiers following in her wake. “And we are much distressed.” She focused on Annie. “Thank you for the compliment, kitten. However, there must be no preferential treatment for Eddy. I want him properly investigated and I will not abide any editing of the facts.”

“Yes ma’am,” Annie said as she bowed to her grandmother.

She turned to inspect the men in the room. “Prime Minister, we did not expect to see you here.”

Lord Salisbury cleared his throat, his hands clasped behind him. “I am here on an unofficial basis, ma’am. What concerns the nation, concerns me.”

She held his gaze then nodded. “Yes, of course.”

Silence fell. After a moment, her steely gaze landed on Isaiah.

(To read part 2 of the excerpt, please visit Story Schmoozing Book Reviews.)




Bestselling author Kathleen Y’Barbo is a multiple Carol Award and RITA nominee and author of more than eighty books, with almost two million in print. A tenth-generation Texan and certified paralegal, she has been nominated for a Career Achievement Award as well a Reader’s Choice Award and several Top Picks by Romantic Times magazine. Kathleen celebrated her fifteenth year as a published author by receiving the Romantic Times Inspirational Romance Book of the Year Award for Sadie’s Secret, a Secret Lives of Will Tucker novel. Her novels celebrate life, love, and the Lord—and whenever she can manage it, her home state of Texas. Recent releases include The Pirate Bride, River of Life, and My Heart Belongs in Galveston, Texas.
  Website Bookbub  Facebook Instagram ║ Amazon  Goodreads 
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FIVE WINNERS!  One Winner: Signed copy of The Black Midnight + $20 Amazon gift card 
Four Winners: Signed copy of The Black Midnight 
AUGUST 6-16, 2020 
(US ONLY)


FOR DIRECT LINKS TO EACH POST ON THIS TOUR, UPDATED DAILY, 
or visit the blogs directly:

8/6/20
Notable Quotable
8/6/20
BONUS Post
8/7/20
Author Interview
8/8/20
Review
8/9/20
Excerpt
8/10/20
Excerpt
8/11/20
Review
8/12/20
Guest Post
8/13/20
Review
8/14/20
Author Interview
8/15/20
Review

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Enemies of Doves: Playlist


ENEMIES OF DOVES
by
Shanessa Gluhm
Genre: Historical Fiction / Mystery Publisher: TouchPoint Press Publication Date: March 20, 2020 Number of Pages: 324 pages Scroll down for the giveaway!


Told in alternating timelines from World War II to 1992, debut author Shanessa Gluhm’s Enemies of Doves is a tale of family secrets, jealousy, and deception perfect for fans of Kate Morton and Katherine Webb. On a summer night in 1932, twelve-year-old Joel Fitchett wanders into an East Texas diner badly beaten and carrying his unconscious brother, Clancy. Though both boys claim they have no memory of what happened, the horrific details are etched into their minds as deep as the scar left across Joel’s face. Thirteen years later, both men still struggle with the aftershocks of that long-ago night and the pact they made to hide the truth. When they find themselves at the center of a murder investigation, they make a decision that will change everything. A second lie, a second pact, and, for a time, a second chance. In 1991 college student Garrison Stark travels to Texas chasing a rumor that Clancy Fitchett is his biological grandfather. Clancy has been missing since 1946, and Garrison hopes to find him and, in doing so, find a family. What he doesn’t expect to discover is a tangle of secrets spanning sixty years involving Clancy, Joel, and the woman they both loved, Lorraine.


PRAISE for Enemies of Doves: Enemies of Doves weaves a timeline of events that makes for compelling reading. It’s an ecological system of interlocking decisions, discoveries, and circumstances that spans some sixty years of love, danger, and revelations.” —D. Donovan, senior reviewer, Midwest Book Review “I’ve read some amazing thriller and suspense stories this year, but Enemies of Doves takes the mid-year prize. I’m not one for dual timelines, but this one was perfection with the fifty-year time-span moving forward in tandem. Garrison’s search will cause time to collide, unlocking a lifetime of secrets, and THE PLOT TWIST OF 2020!” —author Felicia Denise “Shanessa Gluhm is a brilliant writer. I very seldom read a book that I cannot figure out how it will end, but this one literally blew me away!” —Lori Thomas Harrington, author of The Point

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I listened to a lot of songs set in the ’40s and early ’90s as well as a couple of newer ones that I felt really fit the scene I was writing at the time. —Shanessa Gluhm, author of Enemies of Doves

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Songs:

I’ll Be Seeing You, Billie Holiday

In the Mood, The Glenn Miller Orchestra

Fast Movin’ Train, Restless Heart

Maybe it was Memphis, Pam Tillis

What Might Have Been, Little Texas

You and Forever and Me, Little Texas

The Bluest Eyes in Texas, Restless Heart

The Song Remembers When, Trisha Yearwood

Smells Like Teen Spirit, Nirvana

Burning House, Cam

Let It Go, James Bay 



Shanessa Gluhm works as a librarian at an elementary school in New Mexico, where she lives with her husband and children. It was during her own elementary days when a teacher encouraged Shanessa to write and share stories with the class. She hasn’t stopped writing since. Enemies of Doves is her debut novel. 

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TWO WINNERS!  1st: Signed Copy + $20 Amazon Card 2nd: eBook  JULY 28-August 7, 2020 (US ONLY)

FOR DIRECT LINKS TO EACH POST ON THIS TOUR, UPDATED DAILY, 
or visit the blogs directly:

7/28/20
Playlist
7/28/20
BONUS Post
7/29/20
Top Ten List
7/30/20
Review
7/31/20
Review
8/1/20
Author Interview
8/2/20
Scrapbook Page
8/3/20
Review
8/4/20
Deleted Scene
8/5/20
Review
8/6/20
Review

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