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Low Water Crossing: Interview and Giveaway


LOW WATER CROSSING
Book Two of the Sulfur Gap Series
by
DANA GLOSSBRENNER

Genre: Literary Fiction / Family Saga 
Independently published
Date of Publication: July 19, 2020
Number of Pages: 476

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Low Water Crossing is a tribute to those who endure heartache and nevertheless celebrate, to those who wait—and live full lives while waiting.

A backhoe unearths a human skeleton buried on Wayne Cheadham’s West Texas ranch. The investigation points a grisly finger at Wayne’s first wife. And so begins the wild ride through twenty-five years of love and heartbreak. 

Wayne’s a highly eligible bachelor who runs into trouble, first because he’s naïve, and next because, well, life is unpredictable. He’s a loveable guy with a peaceful outlook. Just about anyone wants the best for him, dang it. To cope with sadness, he arranges for an old steel-girded bridge to be placed in the dry pasture in front of his house. Says it helps him adjust his perspective. Others say it’s the world’s largest yard ornament. He takes in stray emus and abandoned horses and becomes a mentor to a loveable little boy without much family. He sits and ponders his plight at a low-water crossing over the creek.

A cast of characters from the fictional small West Texas town of Sulfur Gap
the staff of a high school burger shop hangout on the Interstate, coffee groups at the Navaho Café, hair stylists from the Wild Hare, a local sheriff and his deputies, and the band at the local honky-tonkknits together the community surrounding Wayne, and all bring their own quirks. People you’d find anywhere, some with thicker Texas twangs than others. 

The town, the ranch, and familiar Texas cities such as San Angelo, Abilene, and Austin provide a backdrop for universal themes of love, grief, and loyalty.
                          
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Interview with Dana Glossbrenner, author of Low Water Crossing

  

How has being a Texan influenced your writing?

Living in Texas all my life has made me acutely aware of speech patterns of Texas—the small-town accent versus the urban accent, the regional variations from the soft “r” of East Texas to the harder, flatter “r” of West Texas. I’ve known many people that stereotypes are based on: ranchers, oil-field workers, cowboys, bartenders. When I use these expected “stereotypes” as characters, I present them as unique individuals with their own souls, aspirations, and quirks.

 

How does your book relate to your faith?

Low Water Crossing brings faith to the table, but not blatantly. Faith, for me, is fluid and adaptable, not a rigid set of beliefs. Cynthia exemplifies the struggle with rigidity and moving beyond. Lucy is without faith, because of her upbringing, but develops a faith in herself, relying totally on herself (a former version of myself). Lou is a person of faith in that she prays, forgives, loves, and practices mindfulness (the way I try to). From a spiritual point of view, one can see the central character, Wayne, as having cultivated an accepting, noncombative attitude toward others and the events of life. He loves more deeply as he matures, and he grapples with the low points with a knowing that he’ll move on—a spiritual approach.

 

What made you decide to write a sequel?

Low Water Crossing is what I call a “spin-off” to The Lark. LWC is set in Sulfur Gap, Texas, with many of the same characters appearing as in Lark. Main character Wayne, Charley’s mentor from Lark, is the focal point. Readers expressed a desire to see more of Wayne—and Lou—so I decided to tell their story. It was already outlined for me! One scene in Lark had a mention of Wayne having two previous marriages—with one wife deserting, and the other being killed in a traffic mishap. Because of those few words, I had a broad outline but also a hurdle—I had to kill the second wife! I liked Cynthia, the Bible-thumping Southern belle. I tried to think of a way out, but there’s no way to say someone died in one book and have them escape that death in the next, unless you’re writing fantasy! The advantage of my liking Cynthia—admiring her parenting skills and commitment to family—was that I didn’t have to use a lot of imagination in describing the feelings of loss that came with her death.

 

Why did you decide to self-publish?

On my first novel, I had experienced working with a small publisher, but they closed down. In searching for another publisher, I didn’t find one that seemed to fit. I wrote queries to maybe thirty literary agents, which I know is not an exhaustive search. Learned a lot. Did lots of research. The first queries were so lame compared to later ones, which benefitted from reading online blogs and taking a class.

I know that the next thing I’m saying here could come back to bite, but it’s true for me. I learned, in looking at literary agents’ profiles and gauging their responses, that they, of course, wanted some or all of the following: a famous name, a massive social-media presence, trendy subject matter, and an author who has the potential to crank out ten books in the next five years. It was daunting as someone getting started and not getting a second book out for four years (because I was learning). Also, I was not the youngest of potential clients.

I felt moved to self-publish because I wanted to try it and see what happens (it’s a learning experience for sure!). I don’t rely on book sales as a livelihood, so self-publishing can be looked at as a luxury (even though I’d love to have the partnership of a bona fide publisher or agent).

 

What was the hardest part of writing this book?

Balance. There’s a lot of pain in Low Water Crossing. And yet, someone told me it was a feel-good book. (I immediately went into my Amazon Sponsored Ad campaign and added that as a keyword: “feel-good.”) It nails what was hard in writing: Keeping away from the maudlin in tragic life events. Allowing humor into the story without insensitivity. Describing recovery from hard life events without being sappy.

 

Okay, the wedding at the end might be a little sappy, but I still think it’s realistic. I tried to humanize Wayne with his long-term animosity toward the sheriff, his running away from Lucy and returning three days later with red eyes and beard stubble, wanting a divorce, and so on. In short, the hard part was balance. What goes down, comes up, as reflected in the title.

 

What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

I enjoyed playing with first-person POV. There are four narrators: Wayne, Lucy, Cynthia, and Lou. I enjoyed getting immersed in the mind and voice of each one.

 

Are there under-represented groups or ideas featured if your book?

Yes. A victim of child abuse whose cry for help wasn’t answered. A person with a serious mental illness left to her own devices. A ten-year-old boy who’s beginning to figure out he might be gay. A nerdy West Texas sheriff who tries to pull off a studly image and fails but is still a really good law officer. A Hispanic game warden married to a Minnesota beauty queen who looks like Michelle Pfeiffer (that reference fits with the time frame).

 

Who are some of the authors you feel were influential in your work?

Paulette Jiles’s lyrical writing; Elmer Kelton, in describing the lives of Texans and physical reality of the land; Larry McMurtry with his sense of humor.

I’ve always read, from classics to best-sellers, so it’s hard to say what had the most influence. Certainly, the great Texas writers. James Michener inspired me to strive for a leaner style (he never left a detail out, it seems).




Dana Glossbrenner has lived in West Texas all her life. She is the author of Women Behind Stained Glass: West Texas Pioneers (non-fiction) and The Lark: Book 1 of the Sulfur Gap Series.




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 October 6-16 , 2020
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FOR DIRECT LINKS TO EACH POST ON THIS TOUR, UPDATED DAILY. 
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10/6/20

Review

Reading by Moonlight

10/7/20

Excerpt

Texas Book Lover

10/7/20

BONUS Post

Hall Ways Blog

10/8/20

Playlist

The Adventures of a Travelers Wife

10/9/20

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Bibliotica

10/10/20

Deleted Scene

All the Ups and Downs

10/11/20

Author Interview

The Page Unbound

10/12/20

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Chapter Break Book Blog

10/13/20

Scrapbook Page

Max Knight

10/14/20

Review

StoreyBook Reviews

10/15/20

Review

The Clueless Gent



   
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Escape From Wheel: Review and Giveaway


ESCAPE FROM WHEEL
Conquest of the Veil, Book Two
by
MICHAEL SCOTT CLIFTON

Genre: YA / Fantasy / Magical Realism / Sword & Sorcery 
Publisher: Book Liftoff 
Publication Date: August 4, 2020
Number of Pages: 302 pages

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New Life, New World, New Problems
Alexandria Duvalier’s new life on the magical world of Meredith takes a shattering twist when her father, the Duke of Wheel, pledges her hand in marriage to the cruel lord, Rodric Regret. Desperate to escape his clutches, Alex flees the city with the help of her friend, Tell Tollet, a handsome lieutenant in the city guard. But their freedom is short-lived when Rodric’s brutal brother, Stefan, joins in the pursuit.
Hotheaded Prince Tal, heir to the throne of Meredith, has but one goal: kill the Dark Queen and destroy the Veil, the enchanted barrier which has ensnared generations of his people. He discovers a breach in the magical wall and leads an army through, bent on completing his mission.
When an unusual and potent magic calls to him, he follows its trail back to Alex. Thrown together by circumstances and chased across the wilderness by the ruthless Lord Stefan, Tal and Alex are drawn to each other by the greatest magic of all—love. Now they just need to stay alive . . .

  


An arrange marriage to a wicked lord, Alex flees the city with her friend Tell Tollet. But Lord Rodric isn’t about to let her go. His brutal brother Stefan is on the hunt to find Alex and bring her back tot he dark lord. Her journey sets her in the path of the handsome but hot tempered Prince Tal of Meredith with the intent of killing the Dark Queen and bring down the veil. Escape from Wheel is a magical read that ensnares you from page one. 

The characters and their interactions with others was the heart of the story here. I really enjoyed reading from both Alex’s and Tal’s point of view. Perhaps my favorite thing in this whole entire book was the villain. Rodric Regret was so well written! He was witty and charming, and at times quite comical to me. I loved the dialogue he shared with others. And though he was a terrible person, I still couldn’t help but be charmed by him.  

Another thing I thoroughly enjoyed about Escape From Wheel was the magical creatures. There were flying horses and crazy combinations of different animals that were so vividly described that I loved reading and picture how they would look. 

One thing that I wasn’t expecting but quite surprised me in this book was the drawings. The detail is picturesque and helps to paint the picture of the wonderful story Clifton has created. I loved this contribution to the text. 

Though this book is book two of the series, I couldn’t help but fall into this magical world. The characters, the world building, the magic, adventure, and romance, was exactly the kind of book I have been looking for lately. I’m a huge fantasy fan and Escape From Wheel was fast pace, imaginative and purely enjoyable.

Rating: 4.5/5

Multi-award-winning author Michael Scott Clifton was a longtime public educator as a teacher, coach, and administrator. Professional credits include articles published in the Texas Study of Secondary Education Magazine. He currently lives in Mount Pleasant, Texas, with his wife, Melanie, and family cat. An avid gardener, reader, and movie junkie, Michael enjoys all kinds of book and movie genres. His books contain aspects of all the genres he enjoys: action, adventure, magic, fantasy, and romance. 

His fantasy novels, The Janus Witch and The Open Portal, received five-star reviews from the prestigious Readers’ Favorite Book Reviews, and he has been a finalist in a number of short-story contests, with “Edges of Gray” winning first place in the Texas Authors Contest. 

The Open Portal, winner of the Feathered Quill Book Finalist Award, launches the fantasy book series, Conquest of the Veil. Michael’s latest release, Escape From Wheel, is book two in this fantasy series. Visit Michael’s official websiteor google him @authormsclifton.

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One Winner:
signed paperback copy + $15 Amazon gift card
Three Winners: Kindle e-book copy
OCTOBER 1-11, 2020
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FOR DIRECT LINKS TO EACH POST ON THIS TOUR, UPDATED DAILY, 
or visit the blogs directly:

10/1/20

Review

Chapter Break Book Blog

10/1/20

BONUS Post

Hall Ways Blog

10/2/20

Review

Jennifer Silverwood

10/3/20

Review

Book Fidelity

10/4/20

BONUS Post

All the Ups and Downs

10/5/20

Review

The Book Review

10/6/20

Review

The Page Unbound

10/7/20

Review

Momma on the Rocks

10/8/20

Review

Forgotten Winds

10/9/20

Review

Missus Gonzo

10/10/20

Review

Reading by Moonlight

10/10/20

Review

The Clueless Gent




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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?


  
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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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Book Trailer
8/18/20
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8/19/20
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8/20/20
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8/23/20
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8/24/20
Scrapbook
8/24/20
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8/25/20
Character Interview
8/26/20
Review
8/26/20
Author Video
8/27/20
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8/27/20
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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
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(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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 August 11-21, 2020
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FOR DIRECT LINKS TO EACH POST ON THIS TOUR, UPDATED DAILY. 
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8/11/20
Author Interview
8/11/20
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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
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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.
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Four Winners: Signed copy of The Black Midnight 
AUGUST 6-16, 2020 
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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
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All Things Left Wild: Review and Giveaway


ALL THINGS LEFT WILD
by
James Wade

Genre: Adventure / Rural Fiction / Coming of Age Publisher: Blackstone Publishing Publication Date: June 16, 2020 Number of Pages: 304 pages

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After an attempted horse theft goes tragically wrong, sixteen-year-old Caleb Bentley is on the run with his mean-spirited older brother across the American Southwest at the turn of the twentieth century. Caleb’s moral compass and inner courage will be tested as they travel the harsh terrain and encounter those who have carved out a life there, for good or ill.  Wealthy and bookish Randall Dawson, out of place in this rugged and violent country, is begrudgingly chasing after the Bentley brothers. With little sense of how to survive, much less how to take his revenge, Randall meets Charlotte, a woman experienced in the deadly ways of life in the West. Together they navigate the murky values of vigilante justice. Powerful and atmospheric, lyrical and fast-paced, All Things Left Wild is a coming-of-age for one man, a midlife odyssey for the other, and an illustration of the violence and corruption prevalent in our fast-expanding country. It artfully sketches the magnificence of the American West as mirrored in the human soul. PRAISE for All Things Left Wild: “A debut full of atmosphere and awe. Wade gives emotional depth to his dust-covered characters and creates an image of the American West that is harsh and unforgiving, but — like All Things Left Wild — not without hope.” — Texas Literary Hall of Fame member Sarah Bird, Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen “James Wade has delivered a McCarthy-esque odyssey with an Elmore Leonard ear for dialogue. All Things Left Wild moves like a coyote across this cracked-earth landscape—relentlessly paced and ambitiously hungry.” — Edgar Award finalist David Joy, When These Mountains Burn

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All Things Left Wild was so beautifully written. The story follows two different POV’s, Caleb and Randall, which leads you on quite a ride! James Wade poetically describes much of Texas that leaves the reader envisioning themselves as they read. Though it’s a true grit Texas read, I really enjoyed James Wade’s writing style and found myself devouring the ink on the pages. 

I really enjoyed reading from Caleb’s POV, here you have this young man who is trying to move on from his former life and to try and find some sort of redemption. There’s alot of growth that takes place with him, both good and bad, and I enjoyed seeing his character change and evolve throughout the story. Randall was a little harder for me to read, perhaps it was the switch from first person (Caleb) to third person (Randall). His character I think was a bit rougher around the edges. He’s a man set on vengeance despite the cost. Both though are on a collision course!  I’m not sure why the author decided to do first-person and third-person, I’ve seen this done with other authors as well. The switch is hard for me, it feels unnatural. But that is my only critique on the novel as everything else about it was wonderfully crafted. 

Overall I enjoyed the characters, I think they all had their flaws, and they all had very interesting character arcs. I loved how everything came to a close at the end and I enjoyed the plot twists and unravels. 

But let’s get to some AMAZING writing here for just a moment.

One of my favorite ways that Wade describes the landscape is when Caleb is describing it to Sophia: “beyond to the blue water and great hills dotted with green and then finally the horizon as it held up the clouds bleeding into the purple sky.”  That imagery is simply breathtaking and the entire novel is filled with it. And not just with the landscape either, he is illustrative and vivid with his descriptions throughout the entire novel. 

Another description that I just loved was how he described the shooting stars: “and all the while ignoring the shooting stars as they emblazoned their legacy across the sky in an extremity of drama and dying, never to be seen again by this world or another.”

That star just pierced my heart!

Oh and there’s more… there’s so much more! Words are so powerful and James Wade’s is not shy of enchanting his readers with his eloquent narration. 

I’m telling you, I craved these words! James Wade is the Lani Taylor of historical westerns! I’m not saying that all I need is beautiful words to keep me reading a book, I enjoyed so much about this novel, the characters, the plot, the twists, the way the story tugged on my heart at the end. But sometimes I really enjoy reading a book for how it is written, for the words used to describe the story. All Things Left Wild is Texas poetry to be sure. And to be honest, it inspires me to be a better writer. 

This historical western is an adventure you don’t want to miss so open the book and fall right in!  



James Wade lives and writes in Austin, Texas, with his wife and daughter. He has had twenty short stories published in various literary magazines and journals. He is the winner of the Writers’ League of Texas Manuscript Contest and a finalist of the Tethered by Letters Short Fiction Contest. All Things Left Wild is his debut novel.
  Website ║ Facebook Blog 
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TWO WINNERS: A signed copy of All Things Left Wild
JUNE 18-28, 2020
(US ONLY)

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

6/18/20
Author Video
6/18/20
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6/19/20
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6/19/20
Scrapbook
6/20/20
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6/21/20
Author Interview
6/22/20
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6/23/20
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6/23/20
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6/24/20
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6/25/20
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6/25/20
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6/26/20
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6/27/20
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6/27/20
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The Outlaw’s Daughter: Review and Giveaway

THE OUTLAW’S DAUGHTER

HAYWIRE BRIDES, BOOK 3
by
MARGARET BROWNLEY

Western / Historical Fiction / Clean & Wholesome Romance Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca Date of Publication: May 26, 2020 Number of Pages: 384

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He may be a Texas Ranger, but he only has eyes for the outlaw’s beautiful daughter . . .  Texas Ranger Matt Taggert is on the trail of a wanted man. He has good reason to believe that Ellie-May’s late husband was involved in a stagecoach robbery, and he’s here to see justice done. But when he arrives in town, he discovers the thief has become a local hero . . . and his beautiful young widow isn’t too happy to see some lawman out to tarnish her family’s newly spotless reputation. 
Ellie-May’s shaken by her encounter with the ranger. Having grown up an outlaw’s daughter, she’ll do anything to keep her children safe—and if that means hardening her heart against the handsome lawman’s smiles, then so be it. Because she knows Matt isn’t about to give up his search. He’s out to redeem himself and find proof that Ellie-May’s husband wasn’t the saint everyone claims . . . even if it means losing the love neither expected to discover along the way.

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Right from the beginning, The Outlaw’s Daughter had me eager for more. We’re first introduced to Ellie-May when a Texas Ranger comes knocking on her barn door. Ellie-May isn’t afraid to defend her home and family as she points the shotgun at him. Matt Taggert is on the hunt for those responsible for a robbery that had happened a year prior, right around the time that Ellie-May’s husband had died in a fire. He’s determined to uncover the truth no matter the costs and has questions for the husband, not knowing that he had died. But there’s only one problem, Matt hadn’t expected to fall for the confident and sharp Ellie-May. 

To be honest, I hail from Washington State, and never really got into cowboy love stories much (though there is a few I’ve enjoyed over the years). But a TEXAS RANGER? Yes please! This was exactly the kind of love story I needed right now! This story is told from the POV’s of Matt and Ellie-May, and both are surely to grip your heart and send you to the skies. Ellie-May is determined to make sure her children remember all the good their father had done in the world since she had been robbed from it herself when her dad had hung for being an outlaw. And Matt, he isn’t just someone investigating a crime, he’s compassionate and sincere, he not only wants to be good and thorough with his job, he cares and wants to help others. A pure good soul. And though Ellie is rough around the edges due to her past, she too has a heart of gold. 

Another character I simply loved from this book was Anvil. At first I wasn’t sure about him, and to be honest I worried about his role in the story, but as you get to know him more it’s clear that he is an honest man looking out of Ellie-May. 

I loved the dialogue in this book. The interactions between the main characters are wonderfully crafted. I also enjoyed the way the love story evolves, it isn’t your average dramatic love story, it’s a love about respect and earning trust, a love story built on a foundation. It’s realistic and memorable. Add a dash of mystery suspense, and cunning, strong characters, and it’s the perfect summer read.  

This is a make you feel good, swoon-worthy read you won’t want to miss!

Rating: 5/5
  

New York Times bestselling author Margaret Brownley has penned more than forty-six novels and novellas. 
A two-time Romance Writers of American RITA® finalist, Margaret has also written for a TV soap and is a recipient of the Romantic Times Pioneer Award. Not bad for someone who flunked eighth-grade English. Just don’t ask her to diagram a sentence.
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 TWO WINNERS each receive signed copies of the first two books in the Haywire Brides series, Cowboy Charm School and The Cowboy Meets His Match
  May 26-June 5, 2020
FOR DIRECT LINKS TO EACH POST ON THIS TOUR, UPDATED DAILY.  Or, visit the blogs directly:


5/26/20
Promo
5/26/20
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5/27/20
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5/27/20
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5/28/20
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5/28/20
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5/29/20
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5/29/20
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5/30/20
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5/31/20
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6/1/20
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6/1/20
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6/2/20
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6/3/20
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6/4/20
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6/4/20
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The First Emma Promo and Giveaway

THE FIRST EMMA
by
Camille Di Maio Historical Fiction / Historical Romance / Women’s Fiction
Publisher: Wyatt-MacKenzie Publishing Date of Publication: May 5, 2020
Number of Pages: 315

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The First Emma is the true story of Emma Koehler. Whose tycoon husband Otto was killed in a crime-of-the-century murder by one of his two mistresses – both also named Emma – and her unlikely rise as CEO of a brewing empire during Prohibition. When a chance to tell her story to a young teetotaler arises, a tale unfolds of love, war, beer, and the power of women.
PRAISE for The First Emma
“Di Maio’s take on a shocking American drama pleasantly blends romantic and historical fiction . . . a sweet memorialization of a real-life female business pioneer in San Antonio.” —Kirkus “A beautifully crafted portrait of an intriguing woman. Mystery and romance are set against the backdrop of fascinating pieces of twentieth-century history, and a richly drawn setting leaves the reader feeling wholly immersed. Historical fiction fans will love this one!” —Chanel Cleeton, NYT bestselling author of Next Year in Havana
“Di Maio does a brilliant job of weaving together all the threads—from past to present—while unearthing a tale of blossoming love, the power of our chosen family, and the losses that make us whole again.” —Rochelle B. Weinstein, USA Today bestselling author of This Is Not How It Ends
CLICK TO ORDER ON:   Amazon  ┃  Barnes and Noble    Indiebound┃  Bookshop.org  


THE FIRST EMMA

PROLOGUE, PART THREE

(To read Part One of the Prologue, visit All the Ups and Downs; to read Part Two of the Prologue, visit Story Schmoozing Book Reviews)
San Antonio, Texas
November 12, 1914
Emma had told him no. She would not consent to him divorcing his wife on her account. She would not marry him.
But he continued to beg.
Emma grabbed his wrist and threw it from her, satisfied with the slight thud as it fell against the corner of the nightstand.
“Darling,” he whispered as he hovered over her ear. “Please reconsider. Marry me and you’ll make me the happiest man alive.” “No,” she insisted. The third such rejection in as many weeks. She propped herself up on her elbows.
“Emma,” he pled. He put his knee on the mattress and spoke in a low, heavy moan that indicated how eager he was to return to her bed.
“No,” she said again with all the force she could muster. “Otto, I’m not going to marry you. It’s over. All of this is over.”
She clutched his shirt in her hands and shoved him off the bed. He fell against the nightstand with all his weight this time, sending her silver hand mirror across its marble surface. It stopped just short of crashing to the ground. A precious memento of the life she’d once had on the other side of the world.
A reminder that she wished she had never left.
It was difficult to see his reaction in the dim room where he was nearly a silhouette. But he righted himself and moved forward again. A shot of fear rushed through Emma’s body. Otto had never had so much taken away from him in so short a time: his wife’s health, his first lover’s marriage, his second lover’s refusal. A desperate man might do anything.
As he drew nearer with wide steps, Emma slipped her finger under the pillow and felt around for the .32 revolver he’d bought for her to protect against coyotes. Its cool metal frame gave her some reassurance.
Just in case.
She felt his body fall upon the mattress, his hot breath landing on her neck in frenzied kisses. His hands trying all the things in all the places that had once excited her.
“Get off of me!”
“Don’t leave. Don’t leave me,” he begged. His tone had turned to one of despair and each sob was more wretched than the last.
So much could be hers if she acquiesced. Wealth. Comfort. Affection. It was all very tempting.
But some things were worth more than that.
Emma threw the blankets toward the foot of the bed. “It’s over!” she insisted.
She listened for sounds from the kitchen but couldn’t hear the other Emma in the house anymore. Had she gone outside when Otto arrived? That had always been their arrangement before she left to marry Mr. Daschiel. Only one woman in the house when Otto came around to visit.
She slid her hand under the pillow again, this time clutching the revolver. The sweat on her hand fell on its leather grip. She pulled it out in a quick motion and placed the barrel against Otto’s chest, pushing him away as she sat up.
He jumped back, sweat rippling down the wrinkles on his forehead. “You’re crazy.”
Otto waved a finger at her and turned toward the living room.
Emma lifted herself out of bed, arms weakened after convalescing. She walked across the wood floor in bare feet, avoiding the board that had worn and would splinter her skin. The light from the next room sent more pain to her head and her eyes winced as they took it in.  But she could see Otto standing in front of her, just beyond the sofa, a case knife drawn from his pocket.
His hand shook, but his eyes fixed a hard gaze on her.
Her heart beat quickly and a sense of terror seized her.
He’d called her crazy? She’d only meant to frighten him away. But there was a look about him that that held more than a threat.
He stepped toward her and the knife slashed her arm.
She fired the trigger in response. Three times.
Neck.
Face.
Heart.
Otto crumpled to the floor, clutching his chest. Heat raced to her cheeks and she dropped the revolver on the ground next to her. She collapsed next to his body and pulled away his vest, ripping the buttons from their threads.
What had she done?
Only then did she hear the other Emma, who ran in from the porch. A look of horror passed between the women.
Otto’s thin-framed body writhed on the wool rug, a thick red pool forming on his white shirt. His blood mixing with hers. His eyes fluttered, looking between them.
“Emma,” he whispered as he took his last breath.
But they didn’t know which woman he called out for.
Emma, his first mistress.
Emma, his second mistress.
Or Emma, his wife.




Camille Di Maio always dreamed of being a writer, though she took a winding path of waitressing, temping, politicking, and real estate to get there. It all came to fruition with the publication of her bestselling debut, The Memory of Us, followed by Before the Rain Falls, The Way of Beauty, and The Beautiful Strangers. In addition to writing, she loves farmers’ markets, unashamedly belts out Broadway tunes when the mood strikes, and regularly faces her fear of flying to indulge her passion for travel. Married for twenty-three years, she home-schools their four children. (Though the first two are off at college now!) She is happy to live in Virginia near a beach. 
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ONE WINNER receives a signed copy of The First Emma  May 19-29, 2020
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:

5/19/20
Promo
5/19/20
BONUS Post
5/20/20
Review
5/21/20
Author Video
5/22/20
Review
5/23/20
Excerpt Part 1
5/24/20
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5/25/20
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5/26/20
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5/27/20
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5/28/20
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Storms of Malhado: Notable Quote and Giveaway

STORMS OF MALHADO by
MARIA ELENA SANDOVICI

Genre: Historical Fiction / Ghosts Publisher: Independently Published Date of Publication: March 26, 2020
Number of Pages: 252


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Galveston Island, Texas, September 2008 Katie doesn’t believe in ghosts. And she certainly doesn’t believe the rumors that her family’s home is haunted, despite its tragic history: two young women who lived there in different eras died in hurricanesone during Hurricane Carla in 1961, one during the Great Storm of 1900, the greatest natural disaster to befall the United States. But that was the past, a fact Katie reminds herself of when she returns to Galveston to await Hurricane Ike with her parents and boyfriend in her family’s Broadway mansion, hoping to rekindle her flailing relationship. While Katie is not afraid of the ghost stories she’s heard, she is afraid of the monster storm approaching. As even die-hard Islanders evacuate, her fears grow—fear of the looming hurricane, fear that she’s talentless as a painter, fear that her relationship with her boyfriend is already over. As Katie struggles against her fears, the past whispers to her of the women who died there and the haunting similarities they share with Katie’s own life. 
Through three different timelines, Storms of Malhado weaves a story of Galveston’s past, underscoring its danger and isolation, as well as its remarkable resilience, and its capacity for both nostalgia and reinvention. Full of contradictions, at once insular and open to the world, Galveston Island is as much a character of the novel as Katie, Suzanne, Betty, their lovers, and their confidantes.

PRAISE FOR STORMS OF MALHADO:

“Taking place entirely on a beautifully moody Galveston Island, Ms. Sandovici weaves three simultaneous stories with ease. With a timeless tale, ethereal language, and complicated characters, readers will be entranced by this modern ghost story. How many times can the past repeat itself? How do we recognize people through generations? The author tackles this topic amid a backdrop of violent nature and intangible dreamscapes.”  —Courtney Brandt, author of The Queen of England: Coronation, Grand Tour, Ascension ”Three women, three great storms, and one house, haunted by forbidden love and frustrated ambition. Get ready to be swept away by Sandovici’s foray into Galveston Island’s tempestuous history in this tale of lives intertwined across time.” —Donna Dechen Birdwell, author of Not Knowing

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Maria Elena Sandovici is a full-time writer, artist, and gallery owner living in Houston, Texas. After obtaining a Ph.D. in political science from the State University of New York at Binghamton in 2005, her curiosity led her to Texas, where she taught at Lamar University for fourteen years. She felt attracted to Galveston Island from her first visit and lived there part-time for three years before her artistic career took her to Houston. 
Sandovici is a 2008 graduate of John Ross Palmer’s Escapist Mentorship Program, a program that teaches artists business skills. She resigned from her tenured academic position in December 2018 and opened her own private gallery space. Her previous works of fiction are Dogs with Bagels, Stray Dogs and Lonely Beaches, Lost Path to Solitude, The Adventures of Miss Vulpe, and Lone Wolf. She is also the author of Stop and Smell the Garbage, a volume of poetry in the voice of her dog, Holly Golightly. You can follow her daily adventures on her blog HaveWatercolorsWillTravel.blog.
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ONE WINNER receives a signed copy of Storms of Malhado
MAY 21-31, 2020
FOR DIRECT LINKS TO EACH POST ON THIS TOUR, UPDATED DAILY.  Or, visit the blogs directly:
5/21/20
Notable Quotable
5/21/20
Review
5/22/20
Author Video
5/22/20
Review
5/23/20
Playlist
5/24/20
Excerpt
5/25/20
Character Interview
5/25/20
Review
5/26/20
Review
5/27/20
Excerpt
5/28/20
Guest Post
5/28/20
Review
5/29/20
Scrapbook
5/30/20
Review
5/30/20
Review
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Thank You Garden Blitz

THANK YOU, GARDEN
By LIZ GARTON SCANLON
Illustrated by Simone Shin
Children’s Picture Book / Poetry / Environment / Ages 3-7 Publisher: Beach Lane Books / Simon & Schuster
Date of Publication: March 3, 2020
Number of Pages: 32
A community garden unites neighbors in this celebration of all the things that grow there, from flowers and fruits, to friendships!  This ode to working together for a better world will have young readers wanting to plant gardens of their own!
CLICK TO PURCHASE
Liz Garton Scanlon is the author of many beloved books for kids, including the brand new Thank You, Garden, as well as the Caldecott Honor book All the World and others, including several co-authored with her pal Audrey Vernick. Scanlon also wrote the middle grade novel The Great Good Summer and is published in numerous poetry anthologies. She serves on the faculty of the Vermont Faculty of Fine Arts and is a frequent and popular presenter at conferences and festivals. Find more about her life and work at www.LizGartonScanlon.com
Follow illustrator Simone Shin on Instagram!
———————– GIVEAWAY! GIVEAWAY! GIVEAWAY! THREE WINNERS Each winner gets an autographed/personalized copy of THANK YOU, GARDEN and ANOTHER WAY TO CLIMB A TREE MAY 14-21, 2020 (US ONLY)
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