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Tuesday, February 28, 2023

The Phantom Glare of Day



The Phantom Glare of Day

by M. Laszlo

 

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GENREHistorical (Metaphysical) Fiction / Coming of Age Fiction

 

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BLURB:

 

In this trio of novellas, three game young ladies enter into dangerous liaisons that test each one’s limits and force them to confront the most heartrending issues facing society in the early twentieth century. The Phantom Glare of Day tells of Sophie, a young lady who has lived a sheltered life and consequently has no idea how cruel public-school bullying can be. When she meets Jarvis, a young man obsessed with avenging all those students who delight in his daily debasement, she resolves to intervene before tragedy unfolds. Mouvements Perp├ętuels tells of C├Ącilia, a young lady shunned by her birth father. She longs for the approval of an older man, so when her ice-skating instructor attempts to take advantage of her, she cannot resist. Not a month later, she realizes that she is pregnant and must decide whether or not to get an abortion. Passion Bearer tells of Manon, a young lady who falls in love with a beautiful actress after taking a post as a script girl for a film company—and is subsequently confronted with the pettiest kinds of homophobia.

 

 

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EXCERPT:

 

London, 29 September, 1917.

 

Sophie paused beside a stock-brick building, and she listened for the unnerving rumble of an airship’s engine car. How long has it been since the last bombardment? Sometime before, as she had stood in this very spot, she had heard the Zeppelin clearly enough. 

 

At that point, a Royal-Navy carbide flare had streaked heavenward. Then, from the neighboring rooftops, fifty or more pom-pom guns had opened fire–and the night air had filled with the odor of something like petroleum coke.

 

Yes, I remember. Now she braced herself for a salvo of fire.

 

No deafening tumult rang out. Neither did any sickening, stenchful fumes envelope her person.

 

No, it’s just my nerves. She glanced at the sky, and she whispered a simple prayer of thanksgiving. 

 

From around the corner, an omnibus approached.

 

She climbed aboard and rode the way to Mayfair Tearoom.

 

The establishment had never looked so inviting as it did that night. By now, the proprietress had decorated the tables with Michaelmas daisies the color of amethyst, and she had adorned the china cabinet with ornamental cabbage. Moreover, how appetizing the scent of the fresh Eccles cakes.

 

The tearoom had attracted quite a crowd, too, the young ladies all decked out in silken gowns. 

 

I wonder why. Sophie removed her coat, and she suddenly felt underdressed—for she had not worn anything too fancy that evening, just a puffed blouse and a fluted skirt. At once, she sat down at one of the last available dinette tables.

 

An eclipse of moths fluttered through the transom, meanwhile, and even they looked better than she did. What beauty the creatures’ wings—a fine royal purple.

 

Don’t look at them. Alas, when she turned her attention to the doorsill, a dull ache radiated up and down her left arm.

 

Not a moment later, a tall, gaunt lad, his eyes a shade of whiskey brown, entered the tearoom. 

 

For a time, he glared at the patrons—as if at any moment he might remove a musketoon from beneath his frock coat and shoot everyone. 



A Word With the Author


 Can you describe your dream home?

A cottage beside an ocean beach where lots and lots of seagulls regularly congregate and call to one another.

 

If we were to come to your house for a meal, what would you give us to eat?

Pancakes. They’re not just for breakfast. They also happen to be the perfect supper.

 

Tell us about the absolute BEST fan letter you have received.

A young lady once wrote me to tell me that she really believed in me—that she really believed in what I’m doing. She understood that it was my purpose or fate to really try to find the meaning of things and to explicate that meaning via the written word.

 

Say your publisher has offered to fly you anywhere in the world to do research on an upcoming book, where would you most likely want to go?

The Wave, Arizona (the Coyote Buttes North area.) It would be great to live there and to imagine that the whole place is Planet Mars. Of all the possible settings in our solar system, it’s hard to imagine one more alluring than Mars. 

 

Who designed the book cover for the book you are touring?

Julie Metz (of metzdesign.com) designed the cover. The greatest thing about the cover is that it shows two young women of the WW-I era, but despite the trying times in which they are living, there can be no doubt as to their indomitable spirit. In their faces and body language, it seems clear that these women believe in something—and it looks as if their beliefs can and will sustain them.

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AUTHOR Bio and Links:

 

M. Laszlo is the pseudonym of a reclusive author living in Bath, Ohio. According to rumor, he based the pen name on the name of the Paul Henreid character in Casablanca, Victor Laszlo. 

M. Laszlo has lived and worked all over the world, and he has kept exhaustive journals and idea books corresponding to each location and post. 

 

It is said that the maniacal habit began in childhood during summer vacations—when his family began renting out Robert Lowell’s family home in Castine, Maine.

 

The habit continued in 1985 when, as an adolescent, he spent the summer in London, England. In recent years, he revisited that journal/idea book and based his first work, The Phantom Glare of Day, on the characters, topics, and themes contained within the youthful writings. In crafting the narrative arcs, he decided to divide the work into three interrelated novellas and to set each one in the WW-I era so as to make the work as timeless as possible.

 

M. Laszlo has lived and worked in New York City, East Jerusalem, and several other cities around the world. While living in the Middle East, he worked for Harvard University’s Semitic Museum. He holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Hiram College in Hiram, Ohio and an M.F.A. in poetry from Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, New York. 

 

His next work is forthcoming from SparkPress in 2024. There are whispers that the work purports to be a genuine attempt at positing an explanation for the riddle of the universe and is based on journals and idea books made while completing his M.F.A at Sarah Lawrence College.  

 

https://www.amazon.com/M-Laszlo/e/B09PGPTWQ5/ref=aufs_dp_fta_dsk

 

NOTE: THIS BOOK WILL BE $0.99 DURING THE TOUR.

 

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GIVEAWAY INFORMATION 

 

One randomly chosen winner via rafflecopter will win a $50 Amazon/BN.com gift card.

 

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Beyond the Book: Social Media

 How has your use of social media changed over the years? 

When I had my first book published, I really started paying attention to social media. I joined some Yahoo (I think) groups for the sake of learning what to do with my book. I did get some good advice, but the thing I liked best was that I met a wonderful bunch of people with the same interests as mine. I can still remember how we’d hash out problems that we’d run into. They all told me that I should get a My Space account so I did. About the only think I remember about that was that people posted little stickers on your page. Things like have a great weekend, etc. My granddaughter put music on my page, which I hated. I found it too distracting when I was trying to actually use My Space.

My new friends told me I should start a blog, make a website, and try something new called FaceBook, which I did. They also told me to take advantage of opportunities to be a guest on different author blogs. Boy, did I ever! A few years ago you could find pages of guest appearances on other blogs. I also opened a Twitter account, a Pinterest account, and a Linked In account. There’s probably more that I don’t remember. Oops. Almost forgot GoodReads.

Today, things are different. Most of my social media use revolves around my FaceBook friends. It’s been a couple of years since I released a new book, and if I do send another book out and it should be accepted, I’d probably have to start all over finding out how best to promote my work. I know about things like Instagram, but I’ve never used them, so I’d have to work hard.

So, authors, give me some advice. If I did sent that book out, how should I promote it using social media?

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

The Secret of Alviton

 


The Secret of Alviton

by L.V. Clark

 

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GENRE:   YA Fiction - Fantasy

 

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BLURB:

 

Alviton was a strong, prospering country, full of light. The people worked side by side with the Fae, creatures blessed with magic. But that was before the war. Massive genocide and fear of the Fae touched everyone as brother turned against brother. Years later, and still reeling from the war, the new generation has clawed and connived to remove the stains left by their predecessors.

Sheltered from this reality, Nydia lives her life relatively happy and ignorant, surrounded by smoke and mirrors. But eventually glass shatters and smoke settles. As she struggles to unveil the truth about herself and the people around her, danger lies on the horizon, threatening to extinguish the small flicker of light in this dark and twisted country.

 

 

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EXCERPT


“Magic is as real as you and me. It flows, like life, throughout everything, though humans don’t necessarily have access to it, though I hope to figure out a way,” he mused. 

 

“Well, have you ever heard of a human using them to share visions like this?” I asked. 

 

“Heh,” he lugged over two large blue and red books, “I haven’t even read of the Fae doing something like that. So, you’ve actually given me something else to be looking into.” 

 

I wrung out my hands, feeling anxiously defeated. “So, tell me more about yourself Brian. You’re obviously different from most people in our kingdom,” he asked, not really looking up from his desk. “Well, I’m a merchant. I’m married to a designer named Lillian. I grew up in Valicitor,” I started. 

 

“Ah, Valicitor? That’s interesting.” 

 

He looked at the map again. “You wouldn’t happen to be related to the new governor of that city, Kale Valen?” 

 

A mix between pride and shame that I couldn’t quite pin shadowed over me. “Yes, he’s my brother.” 

 

“No kidding? Heh,” he crossed his arms and propped against the table. 

 

“Please tell me how a man like Governor Valen and you get along?” 

 

I looked at the ground, conflicted. “It’s okay. It must be hard, but rest assured my family and I are doing everything in our power to stop the branding, isolating, selling, and abusing our citizens because they lack a piece of paper stating their lineage. Such an outdated practice that has only been proliferated by greed and selfishness.” 

 

A ray of light shone through the shadows of my mind. “You are?”



A Word With the Author

 

1.Did you always want to be an author?

 

No. I was writing this for my own personal reasons and as a creative outlet. I never in my wildest dreams thought I'd actually be brave enough to publish it.


2.Tell us about the publication of your first book.

 

I wasn't going to publish at first, but with the persistence of my family and beta readers, I took the plunge. I decided to self-publish to retain the rights to my work, but I used Tellwell's services to help me accomplish that.


3.Besides yourself, who is your favorite author in the genre you write in?

 

Sarah J. Maas or Suzanne Collins


4.What's the best part of being an author? The worst?

 

The best and the worst thing is the knowledge that people are reading my book. It's great because people are meeting the characters that I love so much, and living the story I have has player over and over in my mind. 

It's horrible because people are reading. My. Book! And that makes me so nervous. Because… what if they talk to me about it? Haha! It just makes a perfect storm of excitement and anxiety.


5.What are you working on now?

 

The sequel! ;)

 

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AUTHOR Bio and Links:

 

Clark has had this story in their head for over a decade, and they finally got it on paper. Clark used their other hobbies—weight lifting and crocheting—to help develop ideas and work through any blocks. They grew up in the south of the United States with their large family. Clark is happily married with two sweet dogs and an apathetic ball python.

 

I hope you enjoy this book as much as I enjoyed writing it. Expect more to the story!

 

CONNECT WITH L.V. CLARK

 

WEBSITE: LVClarkauthor.com

INSTAGRAM: @lvclarkauthor

 

 

PURCHASE LINKS ${book title}                 

 

AMAZON.COM

https://amazon.com/dp/0228883172

 

BARNES & NOBLE

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-secret-of-alviton-lv-clark/1142525851

 

BOOK DEPOSITORY

https://www.bookdepository.com/The-Secret-of-Alviton-L-V-Clark/9780228883173

 

 

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GIVEAWAY INFORMATION 


L.V. Clark will be awarding a $15 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.


 

a Rafflecopter giveaway




Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Beyond the Book: Sci-Fi anyone?

 

Book Review: Colony on Fire

Blurb:

When she came to Haven Two Dr. Saffia Mandell expected to grimly do her five years of medical service as the colony’s only doctor, work off her medical school debt and leave. Then she’d fallen in love, handled an epidemic and become an accepted member of the community. Now, in her second year, she faces new challenges as the tinder dry planet heads into a fire season and a mysterious food allergy threatens the local restaurant’s reputation.


Chief Ranger Micah Navonn of the Calinurra never expected to fall in love with a human woman but Saffia was a special person who captured his heart and now means everything to him. Not all of his people are as enthusiastic about the situation and his efforts to handle the politics are getting complicated. Add to that an infestation by insects from another world, causing portions of the forest to die off and his plate is full.


When the jet stream shifts course and the fires rage, will the colonists and the Calinurra set aside their differences? With Saffia’s life hanging in the balance, can Micah arrive in time to save her and the colonists in jeopardy? Life on Haven Two never lets up…


This is the sequel to COLONY UNDER SIEGE: INTERSTELLAR VIRUS, which told the story of Saffia’s first year at the colony, but can be read as a standalone. The story is set in my Sectors scifi universe.

My Review

I’ve mentioned before that I like science fiction, and Veronica Scott often piques my attention and compels me to buy her book. This one was no exception. I had read the first book in the series without knowing that it was a series, so when I found this book I bought it. I liked it as much as I had the first book. There are several reasons why I like her work.

First, the book is definitely a science fiction story, but it isn’t what I’d call hard science fiction. By that I mean the majority of the novel isn’t focused on describing complicated technology. I’s a part of the story, but the focus is on the romance between the doctor and the ranger.

Second. her characters are interesting and fairly well-drawn. She does a great job on the bad guys. Her description of some of them was chilling.

Third, her plots are well thought out. Everything hangs together very nicely. 

Last, in the books I’ve read she always finishes with a happy ending. She’s not afraid to kill off her characters if she thinks it’s necessary, but in the end all is well.

What do you think? Could you be happy reading a sci-fi romance?


Monday, February 20, 2023

Family Gatherings at Promise Lodge

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This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Charlotte Hubbard will be awarding a $15 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

In the year since he lost his wife in a tragic accident, Lester Lehman has found healing and purpose—helping construct Dale Kraybill’s new bulk store, enjoying the Kuhn sisters’ hearty meals, and settling in a tiny, built-for-one lakeside house. Falling in love again is surely not on Lester’s mind. Yet despite his firm “no,” two available ladies have set their kapps on the handsome widower—in a boisterous rivalry that weaves mayhem among Gloria’s wedding festivities.

A welcome escape comes from a fresh-faced newcomer. Marlene Fisher disarms Lester with her witty quips on his romantic predicament, while her sparkling eyes inspire surprising thoughts of a shared future. But the heartbreak that brought Marlene to Promise Lodge runs deep, and the pretty maidel believes she’s not meant to marry. In a season of vows to love and honor, scripture holds the key to building their happiness together: love is kind, and above all patient.

Read an Excerpt

Out-of-town families would start arriving today to attend his niece Gloria’s wedding on Wednesday as well as Laura Hershberger’s wedding on Thursday, when they married the Helmuth brothers, Cyrus and Jonathan—but for now, Lester could revel in the hush of a solitary sunny afternoon. Living alone in his tidy house all winter had taught him a sense of self-reliance that had cleared his soul—had given him an unencumbered sense of freedom he’d never expected. His bobbing dock rocked him like a cradle. He felt far, far removed from the grief and despair that had followed the loss of his wife, his son, and his brother last spring, and as Lester eased into a state of semi-sleep, he knew the true meaning of inner peace.

At long last, all was well with his life. With the help of his family and friends here at Promise Lodge, he was moving forward . . . floating on the fluffy clouds of a nap . . .

“Yoo-hoo! Lester, honey! Thanks to Delores, I’ve found you!”

Lester jerked awake. Whose voice was that? nd why had she implied that his dear, deceased wife had led her here?

When he opened one eye, he saw a pudgy little woman starting across the expanse of grass that surrounded Rainbow Lake. Her brown cape dress fluttered around her thick legs as she hurried toward him. Clutching her kapp with one hand to keep it from flying off her head, Lester’s uninvited guest appeared so excited—and in such a state of overexertion—that he feared she might be bringing on a heart attack. He remained absolutely still, hoping she’d believe he was asleep.

“My stars, here you are at long last!” she blurted out, huffing between phrases. “I’ve ridden all the way from Sugarcreek—for Gloria’s wedding—because with my Harvey gone—Delores has been telling me—for quite some time now—that she wants me to take care of you, Lester! So here I am! Because I know better than to—to ignore heavenly guidance.”

Lester sighed. Agnes Plank, his wife’s best friend, had never known the meaning of silence. She barely drew a breath at the end of one sentence before she shot headlong into her next burst of words. There would be no ignoring her now that she’d almost reached his dock, so Lester reluctantly raised the back of his chaise. All hope for a nap was gone. He felt a headache prickling around his temples.

About the Author:
In 1983, Charlotte Hubbard sold her first story to True Story. She wrote around 70 of those confession stories, and she’s sold more than 50 books to traditional or online publishers. A longtime resident of Missouri, she’s currently writing Amish romances set in imaginary Missouri towns for Kensington. She now lives in Omaha, NE with her husband and their Border collie, Vera.

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Friday, February 17, 2023

Sanctuary on Victoria Island


 

Sanctuary on Victoria Island

by Karen Andover

 

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GENRE: Romantic Suspense

 

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BLURB:

 

 

Victoria Island is an idyllic place to live and work. Or so Emma Rutledge had always thought. Working for her family’s property company, she enjoys professional success. But her personal life is more complicated. She struggles to move past her childhood infatuation with Donovan, her brother’s best friend, and to cope with his callous rejection of her feelings.

 

But things are not always as they seem on the picturesque island. The sunny and peaceful haven conceals dangerous secrets. When Emma unexpectedly stumbles across the darker side of life, her life is threatened.

 

Donovan Evans is leaving the military after fifteen years and returning home to Victoria Island. He is ready to start the next chapter of his life with a different job and the hope for a new relationship. But old hurts frustrate his plan. And unforeseen violence transforms his priorities. Suddenly Emma and Donovan have more at stake than getting past their troubled history. They must work together to say alive.

 

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EXCERPT

 

“I’m not sure I’m up for going out.”

 

Donovan reached out to touch her but thought better of it and let his hand drop. “It doesn’t have to be right away. It can wait until you’re well again.”

 

Emma looked up at him briefly, then returned her attention to the vegetables on the chopping board. “I just—” She broke off, swallowing deeply. “I just don’t know that it would be a good idea.” She set the knife down and combined the vegetables and marinade in the bowl, which added a liquid sheen to the contents. Donovan let out a breath he hadn’t even realized he was holding. He hadn’t felt this awkward since he appeared to represent his first client at a court martial and the judge called him on the carpet for not being properly prepared. He looked at her resignedly. “Maybe we can talk again in a few days?” he quietly asked. He swallowed the sudden lump in his throat. He wasn’t going to give up. Nothing worthwhile ever came easily.

 

 

 

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AUTHOR Bio and Links:

 

Karen Andover is an author of romantic suspense, contemporary romance, and science fiction.  Karen lives an idyllic island life and her goal is to share her happy place with readers one book at a time.  She lives in Florida with her family and rescue pup.

 

www.karenandover.com

 https://www.facebook.com/karenandover

https://www.amazon.com/Sanctuary-Victoria-Island-Book-ebook/dp/B0BQGTFFWJ/ref=sr_1_1

 

 

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GIVEAWAY INFORMATION 

 

 

 

Karen Andover will be awarding a $15 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

 


 

a Rafflecopter giveaway



Thursday, February 16, 2023

My Best Friend Athena


 

My Best Friend Athena

by Dana Hammer

 

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GENRE:   Middle Grade Fantasy

 

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BLURB:

 

Fanny Fitzpatrick has the coolest best friend ever. Athena is smart, and pretty, and brave, and kind. Fanny loves her friend, but sometimes, she feels a little jealous of how perfect Athena is.

But even “perfect” girls make mistakes, and Athena makes a big one when she accidentally turns the school bully into a cockroach. He was picking on their friend Gemma and Athena lost her temper and her magic powers just slipped out right in front of Fanny.

Now Fanny knows that Athena isn’t an ordinary girl – she’s the reincarnation of a Greek goddess, powers and all – and now she needs Fanny and Gemma’s help to hunt down the bully-turned-cockroach and turn him back into a human boy.

Fanny doesn’t want to spend all her time looking for a cockroach. She’s got the Junior Miss Super Pretty Pageant to prepare for, if she can get over her stage fright. Besides, Athena’s Dad, Zeus, has forbidden the girls from meddling with any more cockroaches or magic, and Zeus is a god you don’t want to mess with.

Fanny has to make a choice. Should she pursue her pageant dreams, or risk Zeus’ wrath to find the cockroach-boy? What’s the right thing to do? And how do you hunt down a cockroach anyway?

 

 

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EXCERPT

 

Normally, when I arrive at school, I’m tired and cold and grumpy, but not today! Because today I’ve got the World’s Coolest Necklace, and everyone’s gonna notice it and give me compliments. It’s a “statement” necklace, and I got it at an old lady’s estate sale yesterday. I was shopping with my best friend, Athena, when I saw it. It was sitting on a dresser, with a bunch of other jewellery, but this necklace was the only one that caught my eye. It’s a large octopus, with jewel-covered tentacles, and two pearls for eyes. I tried it on, and it looked like the tentacles were reaching around my neck, trying to choke me. I’d never seen anything so cool in my life. It was $20, which was more than I had, but luckily Athena was there, and she bought it for me. Athena always has lots of money, because she’s a rich kid, but that’s NOT why I’m friends with her. 

 

Anyway, she saw how sad I was that I couldn’t afford the necklace and she just bought it for me, probably because she has excellent taste and could see what a great investment it would be. She said it was “quirky” and “an interesting piece,” which I happen to know is code for “high fashion”. 

 

My mom said it was “tacky garbage” but she doesn’t know about fashion. She mostly wears gym clothes, even when she’s not at the gym, and she never wears jewelry, except her wedding ring. 




A Word With the Author


1.Did you always want to be an author?

This is a complicated question. The way I was raised, “author” wasn’t a realistic job prospect. I knew very few people who even went to college, much less worked in the arts. Writing was a hobby, not a way to pay bills, and so it wasn’t something I was encouraged to focus on, professionally. Writing wasn’t discouraged, exactly, but it was more like “Well, that’s a nice way for Dana to spend her time, I guess.” 

 

That being said, I always wrote, because I would get uncontrollable urges to do so. So, I suppose I did always want to be an author, in the way little kids want to be basketball players or the President of the United States, but no one really takes those goals seriously, the kids included.

 

Basically, I’m really, really, really lucky I’m able to do what I do. 


2.Tell us about the publication of your first book.

Sigh. Do I have to? LOL. The first book I published was a self-published horror novel, which should have been kept on my iPad. It was a good practice novel, but it wasn’t great. At the time, I knew very little about the publishing industry, and I wasn’t a polished writer, by any means. I kind of/sort of edited it, published it, and expected the profits to roll in. It’s just…let’s move on.


3.Besides yourself, who is your favorite author in the genre you write in?

In horror-comedy, I’m a big fan of Christopher Moore, Jeff Strand, and Stephen King. I don’t really have a favorite middle grade author. Maybe Meg Cabot. Her stuff is pretty cool. 


4.What's the best part of being an author? The worst?

The best part is that I get to write,of course! And I don’t have a boss, or office hours, or a dress code. I feel like it’s a more natural, organic lifestyle. The worst part is how little it pays, unless you’re EL James or JK Rowling. I would very much like to make more money. 


5.What are you working on now?

Right now, I’m working on a horror/magical realism novel about a teenage girl who eats a watermelon seed, and a watermelon grows in her belly. I remember when I was a little girl, my aunt told me that could happen and it completely terrified me. 

 

I also just finished the first draft of a sequel to My Best Friend Athena. It still needs editing, but it’s all on the page. So we will see how it goes! 

.

 

 


 

 

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AUTHOR Bio and Links:

 

Dana Hammer is a novelist, screenwriter and playwright. She has won over forty awards and honors for her writing, few of which generated income, all of which were deeply appreciated. She is not a cannibal, but she is the author of A Cannibals Guide to Fasting. Dana is also the author of middle grade fantasy My Best Friend Athena which was inspired by a desire to write something her 9 year old daughter could read.

https://www.facebook.com/Dana-Hammer-Author-Page-1707631229449685

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/10794904.Dana_Hammer

https://www.danahammer.com/

https://www.amazon.com/Best-Friend-Athena-Dana-Hammer-ebook/dp/B0BHH74MNM/

 

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GIVEAWAY INFORMATION 

 

Dana Hammer will be awarding a $10 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.



a Rafflecopter giveaway



Wednesday, February 15, 2023

The Key to Circus-Mom Highway.


 

The Key to Circus-Mom Highway

by Allyson Rice

 

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GENRE: Contemporary fiction (family dramedy)

 

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BLURB:

 

In an attempt to secure an unexpected inheritance—and hopefully find a few answers—two estranged sisters and their newly discovered brother embark on a comically surreal trip through the Deep South to retrace the life of the mother who abandoned them as infants.

 

On a Tuesday afternoon, sisters Jesse Chasen and Jennifer McMahon receive a phone call notifying them that their birth mother has died, leaving behind a significant inheritance. But in order to obtain it, they must follow a detailed road trip she designed for them to get to know her—and that includes finding a brother they never knew existed.

 

For the next week, this ill-assorted trio treks across Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia to meet their mother’s old friends, from circus performers to a juke joint owner, each of whom delivers a shocking vignette into the life of a young mother traumatized by loss and abuse. Along the way, these three siblings—Jesse, whose fiery exterior disguises a wounded, drifting musician stuck in a rut; Jennifer, whose carefully curated family life is threatened by her husband’s infidelity; and Jack, whose enigmatic Jackie, Oh! persona in the New Orleans drag queen scene helps him escape the nightmares of Afghanistan that haunt him at night—must confront their own demons (and at least one alligator). But in chasing the truth about their real mother, they may all just find their second chance.

 

This uproarious debut novel is a reminder that sometimes, the family you’d never have chosen may turn out to be exactly what you need.

 

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EXCERPT


Westley re-entered with five boxes of food that said Zunzi’s on the side. “Best sandwiches in Savannah! We’re going on a traveling picnic. There’s a young couple, just got married, staying here tonight too, so they’re going to join us. I hope you don’t mind.” 

 

Duke and Ivy Parker had met at the Monster Truck Destruction Tour in Lubbock, Texas a mere two weeks ago. Christian Rock radio station KZOL was having their annual Monster Truck ticket giveaway to the first two callers who could answer these two questions correctly: 

 

1) What former WrestleMania star has driven a Monster Truck in a movie and has also founded a church? (answer: Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson); and, 

2) According to Wikipedia, what Christian Grindcore band has said that their band name was inspired by Revelations 3:15-16? (answer: Vomitorial Corpulence) 

 

Complete strangers, Duke and Ivy had been the first two correct callers, at number fourteen and number thirty-one, respectively. When they both showed up at the Monster Truck event wearing the same vintage edition Bigfoot Monster Truck t-shirt, they were convinced that it was The Lord that had guided them to each other in Section 104 Row 25 Seats 16 and 17. They knew it was literally “a match made in Heaven,” and so they eloped.

 

Right on cue, Ivy and Duke, an excruciatingly gung-ho couple in their early twenties dressed in color-coordinated NASCAR gear, entered, holding hands.




A Word With the Author


 Did you always want to be an author?

No. That desire came much later in life. When I was very young (3rd or 4th grade -ish), I remember thinking that I wanted to be either an archaeologist (fascinated by ancient Egypt), a horse trainer, or Secretary of State. Don’t ask me how I latched onto the idea of Secretary of State! I have absolutely no idea. I must’ve heard about it on the news, or heard adults mention it, or heard that the job takes you on travels around the world. I suppose that sounded fun to me. (It definitely cracks me up thinking about that now!)

By the time I was 12, I had changed my mind about all of those. I had a friend in elementary school who performed in dinner theatre musicals. I went to see her in The Sound of Music and I was enthralled. I decided then and there that I wanted to be a dancer/singer/actress. I started taking classes in all 3 of those disciplines, and that’s the path I stayed on until I was in my 30s. I was fortunate to work consistently in the theatre, in commercials, and after college, when I lived in LA and NYC, on television.

I didn’t start writing until my late 40s. I had a TV show idea and wrote a pilot for it, then wrote a pilot and several episodes of another sitcom idea with my son’s stepmom who had become a good friend of mine. It wasn’t until after that that I decided to try my hand at writing a novel, and I loved it. There’s so much more freedom in writing novels because you’re not locked into a very strict format/length/etc. like you are writing scripts.

 

 

Tell us about the publication of your first book.

After two years–and over a hundred query letters–of not being able to entice a literary agent into reading my manuscript for The Key to Circus-Mom Highway (and through a lit agent is the only way to get your manuscript in front of publishers), one day at the beginning of 2021 I decided I was done trying to go the traditional publishing route. I needed to get my book out there in the world so that I could focus my attention on other projects that had been on hold. I decided to publish it through The Total Human Press. That’s my own publishing arm that I created years ago to publish my women’s coloring books (with inspirational writing). This was a few years before adult coloring became all the rage and I hadn’t been able to find any publishers who saw the viability of adult coloring books. So I did it myself.

Since its release a few weeks ago, I’ve been focused on Virtual Book Tours and in-person book signings. I’m also beginning to do Zoom Q&As with Book Clubs that have chosen The Key to Circus-Mom Highway as one of their selections. (I’m offering that to any Book Club, btw.)

 

 

Besides yourself, who is your favorite author in the genre you write in?

I tend to love individual books by many authors. I don’t know that I have one favorite “women’s fiction” author. (Sorry, I know that’s a boring and generic answer!) Though I do love the humor and gentle wisdom of Anne Lamott. My mom gave me Anne’s book Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son’s First Year when I was pregnant with my son. It was perfect. I’ve been a fan ever since. I’m actually re-reading Bird By Bird right now. 

 

In terms of “contemporary fiction”–I sometimes put my book in that category– I love the humor of Carl Hiaasen. I’ve loved every book of his that I’ve read. I love how the worlds in his novels are populated by very funny, over-the-top characters. That’s been a huge influence on my writing because it’s my type of humor.

 

 

What's the best part of being an author? The worst?

One of the best parts is that I can write wherever and whenever I feel like it. I don’t have to go into an office every day, and I can write in sweats or my PJs if I feel like it! Though I do a lot of writing at home, I often find it harder to write there because there are so many distractions and chores that need doing. So I’ll sometimes go to the public library to write, and sometimes I’ll find a good diner nearby where they bring food to me, keep my coffee cup filled, and the noise all blends together in a way that’s easy to block out. It’s a wall of indistinct chatter and the clanging of plates and silverware. That’s honestly my favorite place to write. It also makes the writing process not quite so solitary. I’m an introvert by nature and do like my own space, but it’s also nice to have human interaction, especially after all the alone time over the past few years during the pandemic. Another favorite part of being an author is that I can write about whatever I feel like! I get to make all the decisions, and that’s really fun to build the world in your book and populate it with characters that you love. 

The absolute worst part of being an indie author is the staggering amount of work you have to do in terms of marketing and promotion, especially as a debut author without a large social media following. It’s why I really hadn’t wanted to go the indie author route. It’s all up to you because you don’t have the huge traditional publishing machine behind you to spearhead getting reviews, and lining up interviews and book signings for you, etc. And the promotional stuff has been expensive. I’m really hoping that I don’t have to do all of this again with my next novel. My goal with the next one is a literary agent and a publishing deal. Hopefully, having a first novel with great editorial reviews from BookLife/Publisher’s Weekly and Kirkus Reviews and Midwest Book Reviews (among many others) will help land me a lit agent next time around. (Fingers crossed…)

 

What are you working on now?

 

After all the initial book launch promotion is finished, I’ll get back to work on that next novel. It’s a comedy about a woman on the verge of turning 50, newly divorced and entering the online dating world for the first time, and she’s trying to decide the direction she wants her life to go. It includes her friendships with two women she’s known since college and a new friendship with a feisty 80-year-old she meets by accident during a panic attack in front of a retirement center. And there’s an Australian paragliding instructor she meets on one of her new adventures who gets under her skin and she’s not quite sure how she feels about that. I can’t wait to find out how it ends! 

 

I’m also working on my fourth women’s coloring book, and I’m always working on my mixed-media art. Then there’s the screenplay I recently finished a detailed outline for, a crime drama set in 1920. And I’m working on creating a home recording studio space in my closet. I had so much fun recording the audiobook for The Key to Circus-Mom Highway that I’d like to make myself available to record other authors’ audiobooks too. So many projects, so little time!

 

Btw, I’m also working on expanding my newsletter mailing list (hint, hint…) You can sign up on http://allysonrice.com I give away a free book to a subscriber in each newsletter, and a random newsletter subscriber will have a funny supporting character in my next book named after them. It could be YOU!  :-D 

 

 

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AUTHOR Bio and Links:

 

Allyson Rice is the author of the novel The Key to Circus Mom Highway. ("Fans of family drama, road trips, and non-stop laughs will love this cross-country adventure."–BookLife/Publisher's Weekly). She's an award-winning mixed media artist, and a producer with Atomic Focus Entertainment. 

 

After spending many years as an actress on stage and on television, she left acting and spent the next decade running yoga/meditation retreats, women’s retreats, and creativity retreats around the country. After that, she pivoted to focus once again on her own creative work. In addition to her writing and art, she’s also a photographer (her work was most recently seen in an exhibition at the Soho Photo Gallery in NYC).

 

Some random bits of Allyson trivia: 1) She’s been skydiving, paragliding, bungee jumping, ziplining through a rainforest, and scuba diving with stingrays; 2) she has an extensive PEZ dispenser collection; 3) she played Connor Walsh on As the World Turns for seven years; 4) she’s been in the Oval Office at the White House after hours; 5) she’s related to the Hatfields of the infamous Hatfield/McCoy feud; and 6) her comedic rap music video “Fine, I’ll Write My Own Damn Song” won numerous awards in the film festival circuit and can now be seen on YouTube (https://youtu.be/7Xe3nuVDkC4).

 

Also available from Allyson Rice is her line of women’s coloring books (The Color of Joy, Dancing with Life, and Wonderland), and The Creative Prosperity PlayDeck, an inspirational card deck about unlocking and utilizing your creative energy in the world. She’s currently at work on her second novel and her fourth women’s coloring book. But she is most proud of being mom to musical artist @_zanetaylor.

 

 

My Websites:

 

www.AllysonRice.com  (My Author Site)

www.Allyson-Wonderland.com  (My E-commerce site)

 

 

Social Media Links:

 

IG:

https://www.instagram.com/allysonriceauthor/

https://www.instagram.com/officialallysonrice

https://www.instagram.com/allysonriceart

 

FB:

https://www.facebook.com/AllysonRiceAuthor/

 

Twitter:

https://twitter.com/CircusMomHwy

 

 

Buy Links:

 

Amazon book Link

https://www.amazon.com/Key-Circus-Mom-Highway-Allyson-Rice/dp/0982185545/

 

Barnes & Noble book link

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-key-to-circus-mom-highway-allyson-rice/1142037363?ean=9780982185544

 

KOBO book link

https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/the-key-to-circus-mom-highway

 

Target book link

https://www.target.com/p/the-key-to-circus-mom-highway-by-allyson-rice-paperback/-/A-87939489

 

Goodreads book link:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/62003645-the-key-to-circus-mom-highway

 

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GIVEAWAY INFORMATION 

Allyson Rice will be awarding a $20 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

 


 


a Rafflecopter giveaway