The Lost Melody: Deleted Scene

THE LOST MELODY
by
Joanna Davidson Politano
Historical Romance / Christian Fiction
Publisher: Revell
Pages: 384 pages
Publication Date: October 4, 2022
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When concert pianist Vivienne Mourdant’s father dies, he leaves to her the care of a patient at Hurstwell Asylum. Vivienne had no idea the woman existed, and yet her portrait is shockingly familiar. When the asylum claims she was never a patient there, Vivienne is compelled to discover what happened to the figure she remembers from childhood dreams.
The longer she lingers in the deep shadows and forgotten towers at Hurstwell, the fuzzier the line between sanity and madness becomes. She hears music no one else does, receives strange missives with rose petals between the pages, and untangles far more than is safe for her to know.
But can she uncover the truth about the mysterious woman she seeks? And is there anyone at Hurstwell she can trust with her suspicions?
Joanna Davidson Politano casts a delightful spell with this lyrical look into the nature of women’s independence and artistic expression during the Victorian era–and now.

PRAISE FOR THE BOOK: “Haunting. Riveting. Filled with hope. The Lost Melody is all these things and more. Author Joanna Davidson Politano delves into the dark world of Victorian mental health, and it’s the reader who comes out the winner after being enchanted by this tale of identity lost. After you read the last page, the characters will live on in your mind. Truly a fantastic read!” — Michelle Griep, author of Lost in Darkness “Joanna Davidson Politano’s stories go on my bookshelf as a favorite! The stories she pens entice my Gothic-loving senses, thrill my literary soul, and inspire the dark romantic inside my spirit. I cannot emphasize enough how strongly I adore each story from this vivid and insightful author, and how badly I wish for all readers to experience her tales!” — Jaime Jo Wright, author of The Souls of Lost Lake, and Christy Award-winning The House on Foster Hill
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THE LOST MELODY

Deleted Scene from

by Joanna Davidson Politano

Context: At the start of the story, Vivienne Mourdant, a concert pianist, has just lost her musician father and received a surprising inheritance. She isn’t sure what to do about it yet, until her manager slips in and tells her what she shouldn’t do. This was originally the second or third scene of the book, in the first chapter or two.

Reason for deletion: I ended up rewriting most of the book after the first draft and totally reordering the way the mystery unfolded and the timing of each piece of information being laid out. The beginning also stretched for far too long before she was onto her quest, so I deleted a lot of the lead-up scenes and got into the action a little quicker.

When the solicitor departed, shrugging into his shabby coat and top-hat, before I’d calmed my nerves, another knock sounded at the study door. “Come in.”

The peculiar and erratic Marcel Beauchene bowed low in the door, his dark curls falling over his face, then flying back as he popped up. “You’re holding up well, are you?” He eyed me as he said it, approaching the desk where I sat.

“Well enough to maintain my performances.” 

His expression melted into a broad smile. As my longtime manager, he was an honorary uncle of sorts but Marcel loved the way a scientist would. He went out of his way to keep me safe and flourishing, a machine he kept oiled and maintained, but he never descended into flowery shows of affection. It was always about music for him, and exposing the world to its beauty at any cost. It was not me but my musical talent he looked after with such care.

He slipped into the chair opposite me and set his hat on the desk. “Forgive the intrusion, but I happened to be standing outside, waiting on an audience with a most sought-after young lady, it would seem. Your father’s solicitor, I believe?”

I leveled my gaze at him. “You sneak.”

“Concerned party.” He threw his hands up, palms out. “A family friend looking out for a newly orphaned client.”

“I’ve always held my own.”

He exhaled. “Yes, but you needn’t. Not while I’m around.”

I eyed this man I’d known for so long. Perhaps he did care after all, just a tad under his passionate love for beautiful art.

“You won’t be concerning yourself with this ward of his, I hope, will you?”

My skin went cold. “You heard that part?”

“Because if you do, people will begin associating your name with an asylum. You know what that’ll do for your career, and I don’t want you becoming all tangled up in whatever mess your father has left behind.”

“Marcel, I wasn’t—”

“Now, don’t let’s argue about it. I know you’re a sensible girl who’ll keep clear of all these family secrets and odd goings-on now that your father is gone, so you can focus on your performances.” He sat back, watching me. “Night has gone and it is day now, isn’t it? Time for music at last. For beauty.”

“Yes.” I took a breath, but he spoke first.

“And time for a whole new beginning for you.” He patted my hand and rose, plopping his hat over his curls again. “Come next season, we’ll have you on the most glorious—”

“What about this season? It’s barely spring.” Awareness of those unpaid notes tightened my chest.

“Tsk, and your father barely in the ground. I’m your manager, my dear, and that extends to managing your reputation as well. How unseemly it would be, parading around the continent giving performances while you’re meant to be in mourning? Rest for the summer, enjoy the scent of flowers, and we’ll meet in a few months to discuss what comes next.”

“And until then?” Emptiness sliced through me. Not even one performance? “How will I make my living?”

“You’re a clever woman, Vivienne Mourdant. I’m positive you’ll manage something.” The Frenchman bowed low, dipping his hat then rising to pop it back on his head. “Well, then. You know where to find me if you need anything, yes?” His gaze searched my face. “He spoke fondly of you, that last time I saw him. He was quite aware of your immense talent, even if he wouldn’t say it to you.”

I clamped my hands into fists in my lap. “I think perhaps you misheard him.”

“I may be aging, but my hearing is impeccable. He always knew you had immense talent.” He offered a quick smile. “And I’m glad I can count on you to stay out of this mess with his ward. You’re nothing if not sensible, dear Vivienne, and I know you want nothing to do with this sort of thing.”

Few people actually knew me, as it turned out. I was a Chopin Nocturne—surprising, complex, and impossible to master. Many tried. I’m happy to report that they all failed.

Well, nearly.

Joanna Davidson Politano is the award-winning author of Lady Jayne Disappears, A Rumored Fortune, Finding Lady Enderly, The Love Note, and A Midnight Dance. She loves tales that capture the colorful, exquisite details in ordinary lives and is eager to hear anyone’s story. She lives with her husband and their children in a house in the woods near Lake Michigan.
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A Time to Fly!: Review

A TIME TO FLY!
by
Diann Floyd Boehm
Illustrated by Nancy Hoover
Children’s Picture Book
Publisher: Texas Sisters Press
Pages: 28 pages
Publication Date: August 2, 2022
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This baby bluebird will capture your heart as he shares with his momma why he doesn’t want to leave the nest and join his siblings.
The momma listens to her baby bird and, with gentleness, helps him build the courage to fly and join the rest of his family.
So come along for the journey and become excited for the baby bird as he discovers he can fly and soar through the sky.
It is a heart-warming story and beautifully illustrated with a powerful message of “I Can Do It.”
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This story focuses on the last baby bluebird leaving the nest while it’s mother encourages them. I like the concept of the book. The example of gentle teaching and opportunity to think about a decision before acting quickly. Even though it’s siblings have readily left, this bluebird needs more time and that’s not seen in the negative.

This relatively short story doesn’t lack in the emotion involved with leaving the nest (or experiencing new things). Change can be scary, maybe not as comfortable as a current place. However, with listening to each other and positive encouragement, this baby bird has good things in store.

The illustrations have a great sense of color and perspective that is perfect to keep a child entertained. One of the reasons I love to review these types of books are to see the different art styles and grow in my own art. Nancy Hoover did a great job at accompanying the story with a sense of motion and detail in her art. I loved the note about her grandchildren reading this book one day.

Overall, this is a great story to read to children in that bedtime routine!

Diann Floyd Boehm is an award-winning international author, community volunteer, humanitarian, and former classroom teacher. She is passionate about storytelling. She has nine published books for children and young adult historical fiction. Diann is the cohost of four shows on USA Global TV. She is married, a mother of three, and has one grandchild. She loves to help young and old to Embrace Imagination!
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Whiskers Abroad: Review

WHISKERS ABROAD
Ashi and Audrey’s Adventures in Japan
by CARRIE CARTER
Graphic Designer: Stacy Vickers
Fiction / Travelogue / Japan
Publisher: Bayou City Press
Pages: 170 pages
Publication Date: October 6, 2022
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Whiskers Abroad is a lively and charming travelogue featuring a trip to Japan shared by two main characters, Audrey and Ashi, who alternate recounting their versions of events. Audrey, having won the chance to write a magazine article about traveling in Japan, takes along her cat, Ashi. Over the course of a twelve-day trip, the pair visit Tokyo, Wakayama, Shirahama, Kyoto, and Miura Peninsula. Food is of great interest to both, as they sample typical Japanese dishes from ramen to sushi to tuna specialties. They also explore Japanese culture, including food markets, a family farm, temples, and Tokyo nightlife.

Adventures abound, from Audrey losing Ashi in the fish market to Ashi slipping out of the hotel at night to go to a cat café, where he meets an alluring feline. Audrey is still trying to find her place in the universe, while Ashi believes Audrey would sink beneath the waves were he not present to rescue her time and again. Audrey is a dedicated reader of her horoscope, and the prediction for each day offers tantalizing clues as to what’s in store for the pair.

Written by author Carrie Carter and beautifully designed by Stacy Vickers, Whiskers Abroad is both an amusing travel story with unforgettable characters but also a useful guide for tourists going to Japan about such basic travel issues as how to get from the airport to central Tokyo, how to purchase a rail pass, what to visit in Tokyo, and what to eat. Lavishly designed with full-color photographs and arresting page layouts, Whiskers Abroad will delight both your eyes and your sense of adventure.

PRAISE FOR WHISKERS ABROAD:

Whiskers Abroad is simply a delight, offering respite and reflections that bring readers into Japan from different perspectives, capturing a writer’s journey through new foods, a different culture, and a cat’s eyes. It’s very highly recommended for its ability to reach beyond the usual travelogue audiences to immerse all ages in its fun adventure.” The Midwest Book Review

Whiskers Abroad takes off with a woman in the ultimate moral dilemma. How can she possibly leave her cat behind for weeks?! Simple answer, she doesn’t. In fact, she takes it upon herself to travel to Japan with her cat in tow. Though, along the way, she and Ashi discover they are their best as a team.

First of all, this has to be one of the most energetic books I’ve read. It’s filled with creative storytelling on every page; horoscopes, candid photos, amazing views, and of course Ashi. It was honestly a work of art and you could see the feat that went into creating this book.

As a pet owner (dog mom), it’s always been in the back of my mind to take her on my trips. Whether that is across the country or just a few hours away. I’ve even researched camper vans with dog accommodations inside. Who knows…it may happen one day! Suffice to say, this book, while fiction, shows the opportunities possible. Pet passports are a thing!

The different purrspectives of this journey makes Whiskers Abroad an easy and quick read. The daily journal style and graphics create an easy pace and have you looking forward to the next experience. I enjoyed the down-to-earth way of traveling, history sprinkled in, and travel tips as well.

I’d love to see Carter write another adventure with Audrey and Ashi, or perhaps other amazing duos!

Carrie Carter has a profound love for Japan, cats, sumo, dioramas, and eating unusual foods. She has traveled with her husband Jim to Japan fourteen times, so her numerous holidays across her favorite country were the inspiration for her first book, Whiskers Abroad: Ashi and Audrey’s Adventures in Japan. Carrie has run multiple marathons including the Tokyo Marathon, and as expected, Carrie and Jim live with an adorable cat named Frenemy, who was unhappy at not being selected as the model for the book.
Carrie lives in Houston, Texas, and graduated from the University of Texas at Austin. At home, she loves to cook, design/create Halloween costumes, and daydream about meeting Jacques Pepin. She dislikes overly dramatic music used in reality TV shows. Currently, Carrie is working on her second book, a sequel to Whiskers Abroad, where Audrey and Ashi explore further into Japan and get themselves into even more interesting predicaments.

Love And The Dream Come True: Guest Post

LOVE AND THE DREAM
COME TRUE
State of Grace Trilogy, Book 3
by
TAMMY L. GRAY
Contemporary Christian Fiction / Clean Romance
Publisher: Bethany House
Pages: 368 pages
Publication Date: August 2, 2022
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The Anticipated Series Finale to the 2021 Carol Award-Winning Novel, Love and a Little White Lie Their faith will face its toughest test yet.
Four years after getting the biggest break of his life, Cameron Lee’s music career has taken a nosedive, leaving him two options: become a sellout or give up on his lifelong dream. He reluctantly returns home for his sister’s wedding, hoping to avoid his past and find his love for music again.
Single mom Lexie Walters has suffered her fair share of tragedies and setbacks, but she has finally scraped together the money to achieve her dream of going into business with her cousin as an interior designer. When Lexie’s life is at an all-time high, she runs into her teenage crush, Cameron Lee.
Lost in the emotional turmoil of failure, Cameron is immediately drawn to Lexie and her infectious smile and optimistic spirit. Moreover, he adores her mouthy, no-holds-barred daughter. But fantasies only last so long, and soon Lexie and Cameron must face the real world, the one fraught with heartbreak, disappointment, and questions that sometimes can only be answered by a leap of faith.
“Cameron and Lexie’s chemistry is palpable, and readers will root for their happily ever after. This tender tale hits all the right notes.”Publishers Weekly
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The Bravery of the Young

Guest Post

by Tammy L. Gray

I’ll never forget the first time I met Tayler. She was barely nineteen, recently engaged, and had just accepted a position as the receptionist at our church. In her lap was a squirmy seven-month-old little girl. I asked the girl’s name and, after a few inquiries, learned that little “Lilli” was Tayler’s niece. What I didn’t learn until a while later was that only three months prior, Tayler had taken full guardianship of her sister’s daughter after finding her niece in a state of severe neglect. This girl, barely out of high school, took on the responsibility of raising a child when she was still a child herself. What amazed me more was that her fiancé, Luke, accepted that responsibility as well and became a full-time parent before he was even twenty. I asked Tayler what it felt like to make that decision knowing it would forever alter her future. She just shrugged and said, “There was no decision. She needed me.” In that moment, I saw more bravery and commitment in Tayler’s eyes than I’d seen in the eyes of men and women three times her age.

I also knew in that moment that one day I wanted to write a version of her story. So, ten years later, I sat down again with Tayler as she walked me through the fight they were still in to gain custody of Lilli, of the struggle she’s had watching her sister’s life crumble due to continued addiction, of the fear she constantly dealt with of losing her daughter, and of the challenges of being a mom in every way but one. But never in that conversation did she question her choice or the gift God had given her. Thus, the inspiration for Love and the Dream Come True was born, and soon my heroine, Lexie, and her daughter, Morgan, became as real to me on paper as Tayler and Lilli were in real life.

But Lexie and Morgan’s journey isn’t the only one inspired by real events. My hero, Cameron, was also inspired by my own struggles as an artist. As I questioned the gifts God had given me and struggled with the pressure of perfection and sales and marketing, those dark moments of doubt found their way onto the pages of the story.

And what I realized in writing both character arcs was that each one of them was at their bravest when they were young, when they hadn’t yet suffered defeats and disappointments. They were willing and open and ready for the challenges God threw their way. And I began to ask myself, when did I lose this freedom? When did I begin taking each step forward with doubt and caution until I couldn’t even see the path ahead anymore? There’s a reason Jesus applauded the faith of children. They are willing, pliable, and fearless.

Love and the Dream Come True isn’t a story about fighting to make your dreams happen; it’s a story about surrender. Surrendering your dreams to the path God has for you. It’s about recognizing that God doesn’t want perfection. He wants real, true faith. He wants you to say yes when your fears are saying no. And when you do, wow, does He ever bless you for it.

I’m so thrilled to say that on December 10, 2021, after a ten-year-long legal battle, Lilli officially became the adopted daughter of Tayler and Luke. I was in that courtroom when the judge declared them a family, and I literally thought my heart might explode. This is the promise fulfilled. This is what happens when faith overcomes fear.

Since that day, God has asked me to take some mighty steps. And with each one, I remind myself of His faithfulness even when it’s hard, and some of them have been. But my hope as I age in years is that my faith and heart stay young and brave. Because the journey only ends when we become unwilling to step forward.

Tammy L. Gray lives in the Dallas area with her family, and they love all things Texas. Her nine modern and true-to-life contemporary romances include the 2017 RITA Award-winning My Hope Next Door. When not taxiing her three kids to various events, Tammy can be spotted crunching numbers as the financial administrator at her hometown church.
Bethany House
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8/23/2022

The Page Unbound

Guest Post

8/23/2022

Hall Ways Blog

BONUS Series Spotlight

8/24/2022

Book Fidelity

Review

8/24/2022

LSBBT Blog

BONUS Promo

8/25/2022

The Adventures of a Travelers Wife

Notable Quotables

8/26/2022

Carpe Diem Chronicles

Review

8/27/2022

The Clueless Gent

Excerpt

8/28/2022

All the Ups and Downs

Excerpt

8/29/2022

Librariel Book Adventures

Review

8/30/2022

Rebecca R. Cahill, Author

Deleted Scene

8/31/2022

StoreyBook Reviews

Review

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In Honor’s Defense: Scrapbook Page

IN HONOR’S DEFENSE
Hanger’s Horsemen, #3
by
KAREN WITEMEYER
Fiction / Christian / Historical / Inspirational
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
Date of Publication: June 7, 2022
Number of Pages: 384 pages 
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He’s Faced Countless Perils on the Battlefield, but Nothing so Dangerous as Falling in Love.
Luke Davenport has been fighting all his life–for respect, for country, and for those unable to fight for themselves. But now that his Horsemen brothers are domesticated, he’s left alone to battle the wildness within. When an opportunity arises to take a job on his own, tracking down a group of rustlers, he jumps at the chance.
Damaris Baxter has mastered the art of invisibility. Plain and quiet, she hides in books and needlework, content to be overlooked. Until her brother dies suddenly, leaving her custody of her nephew. She moves to Texas to care for Nathaniel, determined to create the family for herself that she never thought she’d have and to give him the family he desperately needs.
When Nate finds himself knee-deep in trouble, Luke’s attempt to protect him leaves Damaris feeling indebted to the Horseman. But suspicions grow regarding the mysterious death of Damaris’s brother. And the more questions they ask, the more danger appears, threatening the family Luke may be unable to live without.
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Karen Witemeyer’s Scrapbook Page

The heroine from In Honor’s Defense enjoys needlework and has several cross-stitch samplers on display in her home. In fact, when she creates a special space for the hero during his recovery, one of the things that makes it feel like home to him is the stitched sampler with a Bible verse that she uses to adorn the wall.

I share my heroine’s love of needlework. I’ve been cross-stitching since my teen years and love to adorn my own walls with my needle art or give projects away as gifts. As most things do, the craft of cross stitching has evolved over the years. Back in the 1800s, most designs consisted of rudimentary figures (houses, trees, flowers) along with alphabets, special dates, and Bible verses or inspirational sayings.

In this virtual scrapbook, I’ve compiled photos of some of my modern projects that I consider to be most similar to those Damaris might have completed.

Sampler-type designs featuring Bible verses and inspirational sayings.

A hand-sewn pillow Christmas ornament with a design reminiscent of 19th century stitching – simple flowers and a Bible verse.

Damaris is also an avid reader, so I can picture her stitching this quick bookmark with the candle and mantel clock reminiscent of her era.

These designs are more modern than what Damaris would have likely stitched, but with her affinity for novels, I think she would have enjoyed stitching this pair of medieval maidens.

With Damaris’s dedication to family, I can easily picture her stitching a wedding sampler similar to the one I stitched for my son and his bride this past year. This mimics the nineteenth-century style of commemorating an important date with a piece of heirloom stitchery.

Voted #1 Reader’s Favorite Christian Romance Author of 2019 by Family Fiction Magazine, bestselling author Karen Witemeyer offers warmhearted historical romance with a flair for humor, feisty heroines, and swoon-worthy Texas heroes. She makes her home in Abilene, Texas, with her husband and three children.
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6/28/22 Notable Quotables Chapter Break Book Blog
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6/28/22 Review It’s Not All Gravy
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6/30/22 Author Interview The Adventures of a Travelers Wife
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7/1/22 Review Shelf Life Blog
7/2/22 Excerpt All the Ups and Downs
7/3/22 Excerpt Reading by Moonlight
7/4/22 Review StoreyBook Reviews
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The Mischief Series: Excerpt

THE MISCHIEF SERIES
Mischief in the Mushroom Patch
A Fairy Match in the Mushroom Patch
Spider Web Scramble
Stranger in the Mushroom Patch
by
AMANDA M. THRASHER
Chapter Book / Fantasy / Action & Adventure / 2ND-4TH Grade
Publisher: Progressive Rising Phoenix Press
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Mischief in the Mushroom Patch, 2/2013, 146 pgs
Where do fairies get their magical fairy dust? After leaving the mushroom patch without permission, two mischievous fairies find themselves in more trouble than they can handle. Boris, with a broken ankle and a bent wing, is unable to walk or fly, and Lilly must devise a plan to escort him safely back to the mushroom patch. As with all actions, there are consequences! Lilly and Boris have broken colony rules and wasted precious fairy dust. Sentenced to work in the dust factory, the two learn a valuable lesson about the production of fairy dust, but can they survive the foreman?
A Fairy Match in the Mushroom Patch, 2/2013, 162 pgs
Lilly, Boris, and Jack are back! The three friends are together again in this newest addition to the Mischief Series. A natural disaster has taken the elders by surprise, and the scientists are unprepared. Damage to the colony is inevitable! Can the Master Engineers devise a plan to save the colony before they lose their home? The fairies’ Kick-a-Berry Match has been postponed as well, and the fairies must find new ways to entertain themselves until the pitch dries up. Along the way, they make a new friend named Pearle, and though she cannot walk, she can fly with ease. Valuable lessons about friendship, teamwork, and perseverance will be learned as the fairies embark on their newest adventure.
Spider Web Scramble, 2/2016, 170 pgs
Every third year, on the fifth full moon, the Mushroom Patch holds a magical Spider Web Scramble. Excitement buzzes through the forest as the fairies prepare to scramble the magical webs in order to complete the course. As a special treat, the elders disclose that the stars will be coming down to join in and play. A wish will be granted for the fairies who are pure of heart and manage to beat the clock, locating the star that has their name etched on it. With the no-fly rule in place, teamwork is the only way Pearle can complete the course. But little do they know that possible danger is in their midst. Will the magical spider web scramble be postponed? Will the stars grant Lilly, Boris, and Jack their wishes? Find out in this delightful magical adventure.
Stranger in the Mushroom Patch, 2/15/22, 212 pages
Gold Recipient of The Mom’s Choice Awards® (MCA)
Lilly, Boris, and Jack Are Back! Get Ready for a Human Attack!
Who knew a slimy moss bomb war between friends would lead to an adventure of a lifetime! From strategizing with the elders for their playful battle to, of all things, escaping the clutches of a human! It doesn’t take long to learn the fairies shockingly have more in common with the child than they ever could have imagined. Broderick, everyone’s favorite spider, provides the goodies, and Lilly supplies the fairy songs and games. Filled with twists and turns, adventure, and fun, find out if the fairies and the elders can help the stranger reunite with her family. Or will there be a human attack?!

EXCERPT FROM

STRANGER IN THE MUSHROOM PATCH

THE MISCHIEF SERIES, BOOK 4

BY AMANDA M. THRASHER

Monsieur Pierre appeared out of nowhere and stood behind Boris as he released a slimy bomb. He grabbed Boris by the scruff of his neck, but it was too late. Boris, dangling a foot off the ground, watched his moss bomb rip through the air and splat all over Jack. Stinky slimy moss ran down the left side of Jack’s temple. Though Jack should have been expecting an attack, he’d momentarily let his guard down, and the stinky moss bomb took him by surprise.

The sting forced Jack to yelp out loud and jump right out of his chair. His eyes searched the room for Boris. Monsieur Pierre, though he dared not say it out loud, recognized the skill it took to pull off such a sneak attack while dangling in midair.

As soon as Jack spotted Boris’s predicament and realized Boris had managed such a hit, he mumbled a compliment under his breath.

“Nice one, Boris.”

Boris, a good-sized fairy, looked down at the floor he no longer touched with his feet and was reminded that Monsieur Pierre was quite strong indeed.

“How many times have you been told not to pelt moss bombs in the dining hall, Boris?”

Boris shrugged his shoulders. He wasn’t trying to be rude; he honestly had no idea how many times he’d been told not to do it. He hadn’t been keeping up and was trying to calculate how many times it had actually been.

“Whatever it is you’re going to say, don’t,” Monsieur Pierre added as he set Boris back down on the ground with a loud thump. “I would confiscate them,” Monsieur said as his eyes darted toward Boris’s pocket, where another moss bomb had already appeared and was ready to go, “but we all know there’s no point!”

Amanda M. Thrasher was born in England, moved to Texas, and resides there still. She’s an award-winning author of Young Adult, General Fiction, Middle Grade, Early Reader Chapter, and Picture Books. Amanda is a multiple Gold Recipient of The Mom’s Choice Awards® (MCA), earning the award in multiple categories, including Young Adult, General Fiction, and Early Reader Chapter Books. She is also a multiple Gold Medal winner of the Readers’ Favorite International Book awards, a New Apple Literary Award, and has earned a first-place North Texas Book Festival award.
Amanda founded and is the CEO of Progressive Rising Phoenix Press, an independent publishing company. She shares her writing and publishing experience with others through school visits, book signings, trade conferences, and workshops for aspiring writers of all ages.
In addition, Amanda was contracted to write a graphic novel for the Driving on the Right Side of the Road Program. The publication is part of the Driving on the Right Side of the Road (DRSR) program, developed by the Law-Related Education Department of the State Bar of Texas Law Focused Education, Inc., and the Texas Municipal Courts Education Center with funding from the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals and the Texas Department of Transportation. The program’s purpose is to offer a preventive educational program to encourage responsible decision-making when it comes to obeying traffic laws and following safe practices. The graphic novel titled What If … A Story of Shattered Lives was adapted into a reader’s theater for as few as five speakers or as many as twenty-six.
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Betting on Love: Review

BETTING ON LOVE

by

MARY BEESLEY

RomCom / Contemporary Romance

Publisher: Wild Rose Press

Date of Publication: March 24, 2021

Number of Pages: 193 pages 

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Tempest Swan is out for revenge. Billionaire Leonard Allred’s software program has put her out of a job. She makes a bet with a friend that she’ll get Leonard to take her on a date so she can get retribution, but a fortuitous accident with an adorable nerd might just derail her vengeance.


Leonard has reasons for hiding his identity from the public. It’s worked well for him so far, until he starts falling for the honest and witty Tempest. But how can he destroy their budding romance by admitting he’s actually the guy she hates?


PRAISE FOR BETTING ON LOVE:


“If I could give Betting on Love more stars I would because 5 stars aren’t enough.” -Jacky, Goodreads reader

“BEST BEACH READ!! Witty and fun and it was super hard to put down.” – Katherine, Goodreads reader

“It had just enough spice to make you feel the sparks.” – Rebecca, Goodreads reader

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Betting on Love is a witty comedy with well developed characters and odes to sports and nerdiness mixed in. Awkward dating, bad job markets, tension filled holiday dinners, camping trips that no one is prepared for but ‘seem like a great idea at the time’. What a great recipe for book.

Tempest is passionate about her job and after five years, a meeting that she expects to be a raise turns into her life spiraling. I have to give it to her. She still keeps her head high and with a bit of savings, manages to still have some fun while looking for another job. What’s more fun then ‘not stalking’ someone outside their house on a bet to date then dump him?

In short, Tempest fumbles a word around her vivacious roommate and somehow makes her way into awkward romantic tension with a man she keeps running into.

The switch between our main character point of views was effortless. The author did a great job with making the story flow. It also added quite a bit of humor seeing both sides of the awkward and flirtatious encounters. Leo, or Arty, does live up to a few stereotypes though. Genius nerd that doesn’t know how to properly talk to women? Check! Though I did appreciate the nerd aspect, in both of them. But I had to agree with Blair sometimes:

“Is there anything you do like about him?

Blair smiled. “His money.” Her lips turned down. “But otherwise, nothing right now. He hurt you and didn’t fix it when I told him to, so he’s on my shit list.”

Honestly, I’d read a spin-off of Blair and her quest to open a sweet shop of some kind. Been there!

This was a great, comedy romance, that I could see on the screen one day. I’d definitely recommend this one for you to read.

Mary Beesley is a Whitney Award Nominee and received a Crowned Heart of Excellence Review and a 5-star Reader’s Favorite Award.

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6/14/22ReviewBoys’ Mom Reads
6/14/22BONUS PromoHall Ways Blog
6/15/22ReviewRebecca R. Cahill, Author
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6/16/22ReviewThat’s What She’s Reading
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The Stealing Time Series: Excerpt

THE STEALING TIME SERIES

Stealing Time

Shattering Time

Killing Time

by

KJ WATERS

Time Travel / Suspense / Romance / Alt History / Mystery

Publisher: Blondie Books

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Stealing Time, December 20, 2014, 319 pages

A devastating hurricane. A time travel betrayal. Will Ronnie survive the witch hunt or forever be lost in time?

Stealing Time is the first book in the “breathtakingly original” Stealing Time Series of time travel wrapped in a hurricane. If you like strong-willed modern women and gripping stories that transport you back in time, then you’ll love KJ Waters’s Books. As Hurricane Charley churns a path of destruction towards Orlando, Florida, Ronnie Andrews scrambles to prepare for the storm and seeks shelter at her boyfriend’s weather lab. What she finds there is more terrifying than Mother Nature’s destruction. During the peak of the hurricane, Ronnie is hurtled back in time to eighteenth-century London where she is caught in a web of superstition, deception, and lies in a life and death struggle to return to her own time. Her best friend Steph is thrust into the middle of the hurricane.

Shattering Time: June 27, 2017, 336 pages

A hurricane the size of Texas. Another time travel betrayal. Will Ronnie figure out how to return home or die trying?

Shattering Time is the second book in the best-selling “Breathtakingly original” time travel series that will keep you on the edge of your seat.

Ronnie Andrews returns from 18th-century London shell-shocked from her first terrifying time travel encounter. Her boyfriend, Jeffrey Brennan, casts doubt on her sanity leaving Ronnie wondering if she went back in time or is having a mental breakdown. To add to the tension, Hurricane Francis, a storm the size of Texas, is barreling towards Florida and her fears of a repeat time travel experience mount. Ronnie’s best friend Steph, along with her friend Nick and Steph’s younger brother Ian, shield Ronnie from the dangers of Francis but cannot save her from traveling back in time. Unfortunately, their meddling brings Ronnie to the brink of destruction as they are caught in the throes of the hurricane’s wrath.

Once again, Ronnie is transported to dangerous places and desperate situations, while experiencing perilous cultures including one of America’s first mysteries — the Lost Colony of Roanoke Island. A stunning conclusion brings Ronnie face to face with a dangerous ally who may hold the key to her past while offering salvation for her future.

Killing Time: August 27, 2021, 437 pages

When the Strongest Hurricane in Decades Takes Aim at Florida, Ronnie Tries to Escape its Wrath. Will she Die in the Storm or Be Lost in Time Forever?

Ronnie Andrews is lucky to be alive after a time travel glitch nearly took her life during Hurricane Frances. When Hurricane Ivan, one of the strongest storms in decades, sets its sights on Florida, Ronnie jumps at the chance to join Mike, her mysterious new boss, on a business trip to Puerto Rico. Sparks fly, but when a newspaper article surfaces with horrific pictures of a woman who may have died at Mike’s hands, Ronnie regrets the decision. Before she can confront Mike about what she knows, Hurricane Jeanne forms off the coast, trapping them on the island. Her doctors warned that another time-travel-induced illness may kill her. Mike may be her only salvation.

The storm strikes and Ronnie time travels to Texas in 1872 where she is taken by Comanches. A rescue party saves her life led by Jesse and Frank James, hiding under assumed names.

Will Ronnie find a way to make the time-traveling episodes stop before the dangers of the past, and the damage from the journey destroy her?

Timely Discoveries

Excerpt from Chapter 7 of Stealing Time

Book One in the Stealing Time Series

By K.J. Waters

  “Miss Regina,” Margaret interrupted Ronnie’s thoughts. “Are you feeling a mite brighter now that ye’ve had a bit of a rest?”

  “A bit better now,” Ronnie said, keeping up the fake English accent.

  “If I may be so bold, ma’am reckon I know what you need. Some of Mrs. Baird’s cake. Ain’t nuthin’ better.” Margaret walked over to the tray of food and filled a plate, poured a cup of tea and brought it to Ronnie.

  “Oh, thank you Margaret.” Ronnie devoured the second piece of cake. The tea was almost hot enough and did a lot to restore her.

Ronnie ate and thankfully Margaret quietly tidied the room while she continued her ruminations. Did she switch places with Regina like Freaky Friday? Would another hurricane bring her back? That was rather unlikely to happen in London. She eyed Margaret. Was this woman really from 1752? By all outward appearances it would seem so.

  As she took the next bite a glint of metal caught her eye. She lifted the white lace of her sleeve and saw rose gold. It was the watch—the one Jeffrey had given her! If she were in Regina’s body how was the watch on her wrist?

Was Regina already wearing it when she … what would you call it … arrived? Looking down at the strange hand she moved the lacy sleeve aside to look at it again hoping Margaret didn’t notice. It was new like the one Jeffrey gave her, and didn’t have the smooth edges of the antique she had seen in London. But it wouldn’t be an antique in this time period. Is that what connected her with Regina?

The shopkeeper said it was from the early nineteenth century, so that didn’t fit. Could she have brought the watch with her? An image of her body lying lifeless on the floor of the lab bathroom hit her. Is that where her body was?

If she could see the back of the watch she would know. Jeffrey’s watch looked completely different with the modern backing and waterproofing. Ronnie didn’t want to draw any attention to herself with Margaret nearby so she continued eating the cake.

The antique she had found was in London and here she was in London. Is that why she was here? She laid back down, head spinning with implications of time travel and being in 1752.

  “Miss Ingram, are you feeling a bit out of sorts, you’re looking as pale as a death. Shall I run and fetch the doctor?” Margaret headed towards the door.

  “No!” Ronnie was dreading seeing the doctor. “I’m just a bit tired.”

  “Well I never! Bless me if they’re not on their way here as we speak.” Margaret went out of the room. Ronnie touched the watch, and turned her wrist over. The clasp was complicated. Before she could figure it out she heard footsteps coming into the room. Pulling the sleeve over the watch she looked up. On first sight of Jack’s tidy figure Ronnie inhaled sharply.

Margaret followed Jack into the room wringing her hands. “Mrs. Ingram, sir? Is she unwell?”

  “Catherine is resting comfortably,” Jack said. He headed towards Ronnie.

The doctor opened the black case he had left on the table. He took out a sheet of thick paper and rolled it into a tube.

  “Miss Regina. Forgive me, but ’tis vital that I should listen to your innards and make a thorough examination of the rest of you.” His hot foul breath wafted towards her. She turned her head away and breathed through her mouth.

Jack moved to the other side of the bed to give the doctor room and to block her escape. “Regina. You will lay quietly while Dr. Wiggams attends to his duties with you.”

  What does it look like I’m doing? Ronnie thought, but kept her expression neutral, not wanting to see the wrath of Jack again.

The doctor brought the rolled-up paper close to Ronnie’s chest. What the heck was this quack going to do, give her a paper cut? He put one end against her chest and the other end to his ear in a makeshift stethoscope.

Click to continue reading chapter 7 of Stealing Time!

KJ Waters is the international best-selling author of Stealing Time, Shattering Time, and short story Blow. She is currently working on book four, Fracturing Time.

In addition to her writing, she runs KJ Waters Consultancy and is the co-host of the popular podcast Blondie and the Brit, and she provides author consulting services covering branding, social media, and publishing.

She has a master’s degree in business and over eighteen years of experience in the marketing field. Before quitting her job to raise a family and work on writing, she was the Director of Marketing and Communications for a national behavioral healthcare company.

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Odd Birds: Author Interview and Giveaway


ODD BIRDS
by
SEVERO PEREZ
Genre: Literary Fiction
Publisher: Texas Christian University Press
Date of Publication: September 24, 2019
Number of Pages: 278 pages 

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Synopsis
The year is 1961. Seventy-year-old Cosimo Infante Cano, a Cuban-born artist in need of inspiration, follows his lover to Texas in what was to be a temporary sabbatical from their life in France. Unexpectedly, he finds himself stranded in San Antonio, nearly penniless, with little more than the clothes on his back and an extraordinary pocket watch. His long hair and eccentric attire make him an odd sight in what he has been told is a conservative cultural backwater.
Cosimo’s French and Cuban passports put a cloud of suspicion over him as events elsewhere in the world play out. Algeria is in open revolt against France. Freedom Riders are being assaulted in Mississippi, and the Bay of Pigs debacle is front-page news. Cosimo confronts nightmares and waking terrors rooted in the horror he experienced during the Great War of 1914–1918. His friends—students, librarians, shopkeepers, laborers, lawyers, bankers, and even a parrot—coalesce around this elderly French artist as he attempts to return to what remains of his shattered life.
His new friends feel empathy for his impoverished condition, but his unconventional actions and uncompromising ethics confuse them. He creates charming drawings he refuses to sell and paints a house simply for the pleasure of making a difference. In the process he forever alters the lives of those who thought they were helping him.
PRAISE FOR THE BOOK
“A pitch-perfect picaresque tale” –John Phillip Santos, Texas Monthly
“Judge this book by its cover. It’s a stunning… captivating read.” –Alice Embree, Rag Radio Blog
An “elegantly conceived tale–boasting a culturally and historically astute plot–that demands to be read.” –Kirkus Reviews

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A Wall of Bright Dead Feathers: Author Video

A WALL OF BRIGHT DEAD FEATHERS
By Babette Fraser Hale
Pages: 216
Pub Date: March 1st, 2021
Categories: Short Stories / Literary Fiction

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Most are newcomers to the scenic, rolling countryside of central Texas whose charms they romanticize, even as the troubles they hoped to leave behind persist. Twelve stories highlight “the book’s recurring theme of desire—for freedom, for clarity, for autonomy, and for personal fulfillment…When women are alone, unencumbered and unbeholden to anyone, they engage in intense internal reflection and show reverence for nature—and during these scenes, Hale’s language is luminescent” (Kirkus Reviews).
PRAISE FOR A WALL OF BRIGHT DEAD FEATHERS: 
“Hale shows a great respect for her characters and for the difficulty of their deceptively ordered existence, as well as for the problems they suffer because so much cannot be spoken.” — Francine Prose, on “Silences”

“A vivid set of tales about connection to other people and to the natural world…Hale’s lovely prose shows a keen eye for detail…” 

Kirkus Reviews

Purchase Links: 

Winedale PublishingBrazos Bookstore | Amazon

 

 

Author Babette Fraser Hale introduces, A Wall of Bright Dead Feathers, a new story collection set in central Texas.

Babette Fraser Hale’s fiction has won the Meyerson Award from Southwest Review, a creative artist award from the Cultural Arts Council of Houston, and been recognized among the “other distinguished stories” in Best American Short Stories, 2015. Her story “Drouth” is part of the New York Public Library’s digital collection. Her nonfiction has appeared in Texas Monthly, Houston City, and the Houston Chronicle. She writes a personal essay column for the Fayette County Record.
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3/23/21

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3/24/21

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3/26/21

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3/26/21

BONUS Promo

3/27/21

Excerpt

3/28/21

Guest Post

3/29/21

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3/29/21

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3/31/21

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3/31/21

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