Review & Giveaway: THE PLUNGE by Nancy G. West

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As part of a blog tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours, today’s post introduces the new newest release from Nancy G. West  – The Plunge (An Addie Mundeen Lake Mystery).

Description

perf6.000x9.000.inddWhen Aggie Mundeen accompanies San Antonio Detective Sam Vanderhoven on a weekend getaway to Lake Placid, she thinks it’s going to be fun in the sun. What could be better than caretaking a friend’s cottage on the Guadalupe River in Central Texas? Never mind that Sam intends to discretely investigate the theft of that friend’s boat…

Unfortunately, the weather has plans of its own. Buckets of rain and gusting winds roil the lake, turning the peaceful Guadalupe into an angry, raging river. As darkness descends, lightning reveals two people arguing on a dock across the river. When lightning flashes again, they are gone. Did Aggie and Sam witness an accident? A drowning? A murder?

The Plunge sweeps readers along with the threat of looming disaster, helpless before an untamable force, where sleuthing takes a back seat to survival…

My Review

Torrential rains, flooding, and life or death situations are the central themes in this mystery, which offers a moving  tribute to the emergency personnel charged with assisting the public in time of natural disaster.  Aggie and Sam must focus on making it through the storm before they can attempt to figure out what happened that night, and who stole Sam’s friend’s boat. The last line of the description sums it up – sleuthing definitely took a back seat to survival in this book.  As a result, the mystery was not as well developed as in earlier Aggie Mundeen mysteries, and the resolution felt a bit rushed. Nonetheless, it was an interesting read, and I look forward to reading more about Aggie’s adventures.

FTC Disclosure: I received an ARC of this book. This has not affected my review in any way.

Giveaway

Click here to enter for a chance to win a digital copy of The Plunge.

PlungeNancy_2015About the Author

Nancy G. West is the author of award-winning suspense and the Aggie Mundeen Mystery Series. Each book in the series has either won or been nominated for an award. The Plunge, Lake Mystery #1, takes Aggie in a new direction.

Purchase LinkAmazon

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Blurb Blitz & Giveaway: FINAL NOTICE by Van Fleisher

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As part of blitz tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions, today’s post shines the spotlight on what promises to be a good political thriller – Final Notice by Van Fleisher.

Description

BookCover_FinalNoticeThe year is the very near future.  A brilliant young doctor and mathematician, Vijay Patel, has invented a new health/sport watch that monitors blood chemistry so accurately, it can actually predict when someone will die – within 10, 20, or 30 days.  The intention of this “Final Notice,” as it is called, is to allow people to get their affairs in order and reach out to loved ones before it’s too late.  But when those notified have easy access to a gun, the result is sometimes lethal for more than just the watch-owner.

These are the stories of several people who receive their Final Notice and their very different reactions … including a desire to get revenge with impunity.  They range from an 89-year-old resident in a retirement home to a U.S. Senator…from a benevolent widow to a crass tycoon to a noted climate change scientist.

But in this fresh, fast-paced page-turner, their stories are all set against the all-too-recognizable backdrop of a guns-gone-wild America, and the relentless push by the NRA and their surrogate politicians to make guns even easier to acquire.

There is plenty of dark humor and political satire in FINAL NOTICE, as well as touching scenes and outright suspense.  So expect to laugh out loud, dry some tears, and bite your nails (not necessarily in that order).

Read an Excerpt

And sure enough, in 1.24 seconds, Trudi had 1,620,000 results. “Here it is. California law protects us if we shoot a burglar in our home. Still, it wouldn’t help if we didn’t hear them until they burst into the room. I can’t see either one of us having the presence of mind to reach for the gun, roll out of bed and blast away. What are you smiling at?”

“At the image of you doing just that!”

“Hey. I’ve been watching Angelina Jolie and I think I can manage the moves.”

Giveaway

Enter a rafflecopter giveaway for your change to win a $50 gift card from Van Fleisher.

About Van Fleisher

“After 21 years with an airline, and 30 years in management consulting, I retired and found that my phone didn’t ring and the only emails I got were asking for money. So, since I was at my computer, I decided to write a novel.”

Author ImageThis is only half the story. (Van is notoriously modest.) The author was Director of International Marketing with TWA, and an International Management Consultant – taking him behind the closed doors of boardrooms and executive offices around the world. He knows how business works, which gives the slightly “sci-fi” premise of Final Notice a realistic feel. Moreover, his two careers led him to live abroad for much of his life. After growing up in New Jersey and Florida, where he never thought much further than the length of a football field, and going to college in New Mexico, he wound up living in England, Scotland and France, travelling frequently to the Middle East and Asia. He even spent a year living in India. And his first-hand experience with – and respect for – other cultures is apparent in this book.

“Final Notice is meant to highlight, my concerns with America’s handling of three important issues: gun control (not anti-gun), ageism and the importance of immigration. The book won’t fix these issues, but there are a number of great organizations with even greater people working on our behalf to right these wrongs. Proceeds from sales of Final Notice will help support those efforts.”

Connect with Van Fleisher:

Get your copy of Final Notice Amazon:  https://www.amazon.com/FINAL-NOTICE-What-would-certain-ebook/dp/B0798XNY6P

Review: AN AFFAIR TO DISMEMBER by Elise Sax

Browsing through the countless books on my e-reader, I recently opened up An Affair to Dismember, the first book in the Matchmaker Mysteries series by Elise Sax.  Light romance and mystery are one of my favorite combinations.

41jlcipu77lDescription (on Amazon)

Three months has been Gladie Burger’s limit when it comes to staying in one place. That’s why Gladie is more than a little skeptical when her Grandma Zelda–who is more than a little psychic– recruits her into the family’s matchmaking business in the quaint small town of Cannes, California. What’s more, Gladie is also highly unqualified, having a terrible track record with romance. Still, Zelda is convinced that her granddaughter has her clairvoyant “gift.” But when the going gets tough, Gladie wonders if this gift has a return policy.

When Zelda’s neighbor drops dead in his kitchen, Gladie is swept into his bizarre family’s drama. Despite warnings from the (distractingly gorgeous) chief of police to steer clear of his investigation, Gladie is out to prove that her neighbor’s death was murder. It’s not too long before she’s in way over her head–with the hunky police chief, a dysfunctional family full of possible killers, and yet another mysterious and handsome man, whose attentions she’s unable to ignore. Gladie is clearly being pursued–either by true love or by a murderer. Who will catch her first?

My Review

This is a  light and entertaining read with quirky characters and a healthy dose of humor. Gladie was fun, though her actions were not always reasonable or realistic and often got her into trouble. Turns out learning to be a matchmaker is a challenge and a vocation that is sure to present the potential for humorous situations.  Some of her Grandma’s tips at the start of each chapter are priceless.

If you are looking for a serious traditional mystery or a sweet romance, this is not the book for you.  But, if you are in the mood to laugh out loud and forget your troubles for a few hours, then this book fits the bill.

Note: If you are offended by the use of profanity, this book might not be for you.

Guest Post & Spotlight: TO FETCH A THIEF

TO-FETCH-A-THIEF-BANNER-184As part of a blog tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours, I am pleased to have as my guest today the authors in To Fetch a Thief – an anthology of light dog-themed cozy mysteries.  They’re a great bunch, and they are doing such a fine job of squishing together on my virtual sofa to share the spotlight.


Thoughts about Writing from the TO FETCH A THIEF Authors 

Teresa Inge, Header Weidner, Jayne Ormerod and Rosemary Shomaker

What is the one thing about the writing life that you didn’t know until you were published?

Jayne: How difficult the marketing phase of things would be. I guess I thought these books would just sell themselves!

Heather: I didn’t realize how much marketing went into the book business. It takes a great deal of time to promote your work. You need to balance the writing/editing time with your promotions.

Rosemary: Until I was published, I didn’t understand the role of an editor and that the role may be different from story to story or book to book. Some editors require you accept their suggestions and changes unless you have some compelling reason to not accept them. Luckily, my first editor was a mentor and taught me what was expected and how much to discuss or argue or disagree with an editor. Other editors were unclear on the editing process logistics—the how to indicate changes or indicate non-acceptance of editing. I’ve had some snafus where edits, both mine and the editor’s, were not properly reflected in a story, and that’s frustrating.

Teresa: That I have to market, promote, and sell my books. I’ve learned a lot about promotion and scheduling book signings.

How long did it take you to get your first work published (from creation to actual book)? What was your first published work?

Jayne: I wear the “100-rejection” badge of honor. It took me almost six years to get The Blond Leading the Blond published by Avalon Books. I finally got noticed because my first chapter was a finalist in a mystery writing contest in which the final judge was the publisher.

Heather: My first mystery to be published was a short story, “Washed up” in Virginia is for Mysteries, a Sisters in Crime anthology. It took about six months to write and polish. Then the book editing/proofreading/formatting process took probably another eight months or so. My first mystery novel, Secret Lives and Private Eyes took me about five years to write and rewrite and rewrite. When it was finally accepted for publication, it took another seven months to become a book.

Rosemary: The first item I had published for pay was a short story I’d written during a long weekend. Once I submitted the story, the gentle editing needed from my end took only an afternoon. “A Fish By Any Other Name” was included in A Shaker of Margaritas: Hot Flash Mommas, the first of the Shaker of Margaritas series, in 2010.

Teresa: I was part of a creative writing group at a community college and my first story was published in a book with that group. It was around six months after my story was accepted.

Plotter (one who plans or plots out every detail of her writing) or Pantser (one who writes by the seat of her pants)?

Jayne: Plotter. You should see my story board!

Heather: I’m a hybrid. I start out as a detailed plotter, and then I write. The story and the characters always go where they want to go.

Rosemary: I’m a pantser—autocorrect keeps changing this to “panther,” and that’s funny to me because if I were an animal, I most certainly would not be a panther. I’d be a duck or some other bird, I think. But I digress. So, I am a seat-of-the-pants writer with plotter tendencies. Being a pantser is much more fun, if you ask me. Early on I thought I was a plotter because I’m very analytical. I was highly organized for the first part of my life. When I became a parent, all that flew out the window. The first story I consciously totally plotted revealed I was a pantser. By the time I finished plotting that story to the nth degree, I was so sick of the story that I didn’t want to write it. The beauty of a pantser is the creative flow. The raw material for the story emerges organically—“pantsing”—and the rewrite and editing phases allow me to be as analytical as I want to be on a project. That’s a good mix for me.

Teresa: Both. I like to plot and be creative, so I can follow where the character takes me.

What advice would you have for a new writer?

Jayne: Don’t ever, ever give up. It’s a long, long road to publication, but it’s worth it!

Heather: Be persistent. If you want to be published, keep at it. Keep writing. Keep learning, and don’t give up.

Rosemary: My advice to a new writer is two-fold. First, pick a genre. Second, join a writing group dedicated to that genre. Many new writers I meet dabble in several genres, and this wastes a lot of time, in my opinion. Much learning about professional fiction writing is transferable among genres, but one must commit to only one in order to show his or her serious intent and gain the trust of that selected genre’s writing community. For me, meeting mystery writers and hearing their explanations of “this is how mystery writers do it” was the beginning of fruitful learning.

This advice has been rejected by a few new writers who don’t see why they have to limit themselves. I’m not talking about limits. I’m suggesting concentration. I advise new writers to immerse themselves in maybe one or two genres at a time, if they really won’t choose one only. I also suggest that they not share about their dual commitments in either writing community and just focus on whatever genre project or group they attend or work with, independent of the other group. In my mind, a new writer (with a day job) could immerse himself or herself in one genre and one genre community for two years and learn enough to know if it’s his or her writing “home” for the foreseeable future.

Teresa: Go to conferences and workshops. And write. These will help develop your craft.

To Fetch a Thief is the first in the Mutt Mysteries collection. Tell us about your real dogs and what they do while you write.

Jayne: We have two rescues, Tiller and Scout. They are still puppies. I can only write while they are napping. The little one likes to curl up next to me on the sofa and rest his head on my keyboard. That is a challenge! And a distraction! But giving me lots of fodder for future cozies featuring dogs! Already working on my second Mutt Mystery.

Heather: My two Jack Russell Terriers (Disney and Riley) have beds in my office on either side of my desk. Sometimes, they help me plot or listen as I talk through dialogue. Most of the time, they snooze.

Rosemary: My dog is my comfort animal. As I raised my children, our first family dog, Mabel, and our second family dog, Current, were the loving beings in my home with the least needs. And bless their hearts, after home, house, and family needs were met, these dogs were there to provide me with easy, nonjudgmental companionship. I am not a nurturer, so family nurturing took a lot out of me. When I was exhausted and crabby, my dogs nurtured me. Now my kids are grown and my current pooch, our second family dog, “Current,” has a new role. He tears me away from my obsessing about writing and other projects and reminds me to go outside for a walk or to work in the yard with him for company. He seems to know when I really need a break. He reminds me to give him food and water, and thusly to meet my human needs to eat and drink and to step away from too much concentration and relax. He’s usually in the dog bed in my son’s old room while I write in another room nearby. He’ll walk in and interrupt me when it’s time he and I do something else.

Teresa: My dogs are Luke and Lena, both shepherd mixed. They are named after my husband’s grandparents and love to sit by me when I write.


Fetch-cover-for-ebookAbout To Fetch a Thief

To Fetch a Thief, the first Mutt Mysteries collection, features four novellas that have gone to the dogs. In this howlingly good read, canine companions help their owners solve crimes and right wrongs. These sleuths may be furry and low to the ground, but their keen senses are on high alert when it comes to sniffing out clues and digging up the truth.

Make no bones about it, these pup heroes will steal your heart as they conquer ruff villains.

The Stories

“Hounding the Pavement” by Teresa Inge
Catt Ramsey has three things on her mind: grow her dog walking service in Virginia Beach, solve the theft of a client’s vintage necklace, and hire her sister Emma as a dog walker.  But when Catt finds her model client dead after walking her precious dogs Bella and Beau, she and her own dogs Cagney and Lacey are hot on the trail to clear her name after being accused of murder.

“Diggin’ up Dirt” by Heather Weidner
Amy Reynolds and her Jack Russell Terrier Darby find some strange things in her new house. Normally, she would have trashed the forgotten junk, but Amy’s imagination kicks into high gear when her nosy neighbors dish the dirt about the previous owners who disappeared, letting the house fall into foreclosure. Convinced that something nefarious happened, Amy and her canine sidekick uncover more abandoned clues in their search for the previous owners.

“Dog Gone it All”  by Jayne Ormerod
Meg Gordon and her tawny terrier Cannoli are hot on the trail of a thief, a heartless one who steals rocks commemorating neighborhood dogs who have crossed the Rainbow Bridge. But sniffing out clues leads them to something even more merciless…a dead body! There’s danger afoot as the two become entangled in the criminality infesting their small bayside community. And, dog gone it all, Meg is determined to get to the bottom of things.

“This is Not a Dog Park” by Rosemary Shomaker
“Coyotes and burglaries? That’s an odd pairing of troubles.” Such are Adam Moreland’s reactions to a subdivision’s meeting announcement. He has no idea. Trouble comes his way in spades, featuring a coyote . . . burglaries . . . and a dead body! A dog, death investigation, and new female acquaintance kick start Adam’s listless life frozen by a failed relationship, an unfulfilling job, and a judgmental mother. Events shift Adam’s perspective and push him to act.

Links to the Book:

Amazon *   Apple    *   Barnes and Noble    *   Books to Read    *    Kobo   *   Overdrive   *  24 Symbols   

About the Authors

Teresa-and-dogs-croppedTeresa Inge grew up reading Nancy Drew mysteries. Today, she doesn’t carry a rod like her idol, but she hotrods. She is president of Sister’s in Crime Mystery by the Sea Chapter and author of short mysteries in Virginia is for Mysteries and 50 Shades of Cabernet.

Heather Weidner, a member of SinC – Central Virginia and Guppies, is the author of the Heather-and-Disney-SizedDelanie Fitzgerald Mysteries, Secret Lives and Private Eyes and The Tulip Shirt Murders. Her short stories appear in the Virginia is for Mysteries series and 50 Shades of Cabernet. Heather lives in Virginia with her husband and a pair of Jack Russell terriers, Disney and Riley. She’s been a mystery fan since Scooby-Doo and Nancy Drew. Some of her life experience comes from being a technical writer, editor, college professor, software tester, IT manager, and cop’s kid. She blogs at Pens, Paws, and Claws.

S-Parrott-9Jayne Ormerod grew up in a small Ohio town then went on to a small-town Ohio college. Upon earning her degree in accountancy, she became a CIA (that’s not a sexy spy thing, but a Certified Internal Auditor.) She married a naval officer and off they sailed to see the world. After nineteen moves, they, along with their two rescue dogs Tiller and Scout, have settled into a cozy cottage by the sea. Jayne is the author of the Blonds at the Beach Mysteries, The Blond Leading the Blond, and Blond Luck. She has contributed seven short mysteries to various anthologies to include joining with the other To Fetch a Thief authors in Virginia is for Mysteries, Volumes I and II, and 50 Shades of Cabernet.

Rosemary Shomaker writes about the unexpected in everyday life. She’s the woman Rosie-and-Dogyou don’t notice in the grocery store or at church but whom you do notice at estate sales and wandering vacant lots. In all these places she’s collecting story ideas. Rosemary writes women’s fiction, paranormal, and mystery short stories, and she’s taking her first steps toward longer fiction, so stay tuned. She’s an urban planner by education, a government policy analyst by trade, and a fiction writer at heart. Rosemary credits Sisters in Crime with developing her craft and applauds the organization’s mission of promoting the ongoing advancement, recognition, and professional development of women crime writers.

Review & Giveaway: ONE TASTE TOO MANY by Debra H. Goldstein

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As part of a blog tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours, I recently had the pleasure of reading One Taste Too Many –  the first book in a new cozy mystery series by Debra H. Goldstein.

Description

For culinary challenged Sarah Blair, there’s only one thing scarier than cooking from scratch—murder!

One-Taste-Too-Many3864Married at eighteen, divorced at twenty‑eight, Sarah Blair reluctantly swaps her luxury lifestyle for a cramped studio apartment and a law firm receptionist job in the tired hometown she never left. With nothing much to show for the last decade but her feisty Siamese cat, RahRah, and some clumsy domestic skills, she’s the polar opposite of her bubbly twin, Emily—an ambitious chef determined to take her culinary ambitions to the top at a local gourmet restaurant . . .

Sarah knew starting over would be messy. But things fall apart completely when her ex drops dead, seemingly poisoned by Emily’s award-winning rhubarb crisp. Now, with RahRah wanted by the woman who broke up her marriage and Emily wanted by the police for murder, Sarah needs to figure out the right recipe to crack the case before time runs out. Unfortunately, for a gal whose idea of good china is floral paper plates, catching the real killer and living to tell about it could mean facing a fate worse than death—being in the kitchen!

Includes quick and easy recipes!

My Review

Sarah was a fun character and easy to relate to. For me anyway. Maybe that’s because my cooking skills aren’t a whole lot better than hers.  And when it comes to investigating her ex’s murder and proving her sister’s innocence, her loyalty shines through.  She is able to identify potential suspects with a variety of motives, however an unexpected twist complicates matters – making it harder to identify the true course of events and who was behind them.  This well written read is sure to be enjoyed by  lovers of culinary cozies.

FTC Disclosure: I received an advance review copy of this book. This has not affected the content of my review in any way.

Giveaway

Enter a Rafflecopter giveaway or a chance to win one of three print copies of One Taste Too Many.

About the Author

Debra-HeadshotJudge Debra H. Goldstein’s new Sarah Blair cozy mystery series debuts from Kensington Press debuts with One Taste Too Many. She also is the author of Should Have Played Poker: a Carrie Martin and the Mah Jongg Players Mystery and the 2012 IPPY Award-winning Maze in Blue. Besides novels, Debra writes short stories. Her short story, The Night They Burned Ms. Dixie’s Place, in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine (May/June 2017) is an Agatha Award Short Story Nominee. In addition to being the Sisters in Crime Guppy President, Debra serves on the national Sisters in Crime board and is Vice-President of the Southeast Region of Mystery Writers of America.

Purchase Links:  Amazon  B&N  Kobo  Google Play

Cozy Happenings – December 2018

This month’s  “Cozy Happenings” post highlights new releases, giveaways and bargains from my author friends. Hope it helps you find something great to read.

Recent and New Releases – Check’em Out!

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Bargain Books

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And, of course, you won’t want to miss out on  the Book Bonanza (Dec. 7-9) for a great selection of free and bargain books from your favorite cozy mystery authors.

& 99 Cent mysteries
Happy reading and happy holidays to all!

Spotlight: THE SONGS THAT BROUGHT ME BACK by Mylissa Demeyere

Today’s post turns the spotlight on The Songs That Brought Me Back,  a new  romance from Mylissa Demeyere. Sounds like a good one.

Description

Cover LargeHave you ever made a mistake? One so monumental you lost everything? I did, and I hate myself for it! All I want to do is close my eyes, and let the darkness consume me. Make it all go away. The end.

Ainsley is drowning in the depth of her despair. One wrong decision left her alone, with only regret as her constant companion. To escape it all, she makes another choice. One she hopes will end everything. Instead, she’s thrown into a whole new world filled with opportunities she doesn’t believe she deserves.

Ethan gives the appearance of breezing through life. But underneath his bright facade, he’s scarred by loss. When fate leads him into Ainsley’s world at the exact moment she needs someone the most, he can’t ignore the chance to right the wrongs of his past.

Ainsley and Ethan will struggle to help each other heal and start anew.

They’ll learn that the secret to conquering their pain lies within their power, if only they can do it together.

Always together.
Sometimes the ending is really the beginning.

TIP: The book is on sale for a limited time at just $ 0.99 on Amazon.

Check out the book trailer:

Read an Excerpt

AINSLEY

Beep… Beep…
Floating…I was floating. My body…weightless. For the first time in almost three years, the constant pain that had been pushing on me, threatening to suffocate me…lifted and was gone.

I felt…free.

Beep… Beep…
Finally, I was done and untied, drifting in this place that no longer held me in its terrible grip.

Beep… Beep…
I hovered near the edge, staring down at that empty shell as the doctor and nurses fought to save me. The scene should have sent more anguish through me. The ripped clothes, the chaos, but all I felt was peace.

The body left behind looked like me, but it wasn’t, not really. It hadn’t been me for so long. I had lost myself in that person ages ago.

Something tugged at me, pulling me down, away from the peacefulness I felt and back toward that cold, empty body. My prison. I grasped out around me but only caught handfuls of air. Nothing to hold on to. The pull got stronger. Dread washed over me as I realized what was happening.

I had to go back.

“Push a dose of ketamine, now!”

The weightlessness was out of reach, leaving me confused and exhausted. A new, heavy sensation pushed down on me.

No! I screamed, but no noise left my mouth. Even as the weight of my body and my illness pressed down on me, I longed for the weightlessness I’d felt, the brief glimpse of freedom. I wanted it back.

“Give me a laryngoscope.”
A sharp pain coursed through me, down my mouth, into my throat.
I tried to raise my hand, trying to yank whatever was there away. But it wouldn’t move. The weight was pushing on my hand as well.

No! I screamed again, but no one heard me. It was pointless.

“I’m in. Tube her.”

Finally, I surrendered to the darkness as it closed in, and everything went completely black.

Excerpt from The Songs That Brought Me Back. Copyright © 2018. All rights reserved.

 

Add to Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/41837654-the-songs-that-brought-me-back

About the Author

MyllissaAuthor Pic 4Mylissa Demeyere was born in Belgium, and resides in the beautiful city of Ghent. She lives in a somewhat organized home with her four beautiful children and the love of her life. If she isn’t working, she’s writing, running, reading, or enjoying time with her kids, who are growing up way too fast.

The Songs That Brought Me Back is her second novel in The Songs Series, with a third book releasing in the middle of 2019.

Connect with Mylissa online:

Release Spotlight: KNIGHT MOVES by Julie Moffett

Today’s post celebrates this week’s release of Knight Moves by Julie Moffett.  Knight Moves is the second book in the White Knights YA mystery series, which features really cool geek girls.  I have yet to sample this series but it sounds like a fun book.

About the  Book

CoverFinalLG-KnightMovesWhen U.S. intelligence agencies invite teen geek and ace hacker, Angel Sinclair, and her friends to try out for a highly competitive school for government operatives, will she wash out or step into a future she never expected?

My name is Angel Sinclair and I’m the youngest senior at a high school for technologically-gifted students. School bored me until my friends and I were unexpectedly tapped to try out for a top-secret spy academy. I’m not sure I have what it takes to be an operative for the U.S. government, but my friends and I are going to give it our best shot.

But first I have to go up against uber-skilled candidates who can do a thousand push-ups, kill a person with a fingernail file, and make handcuffs out of paper clips. My only defining skills are my mad hacking abilities and extreme awkwardness. I don’t know what kind of spy that would make me, but I’m not going down without a fight.

With my loyal friends by my side, we’re in a race to finish at the top of the class. Together we have the smarts…but we’ll have to battle our insecurities and work together or miss out on an adventure of a lifetime.

Check out the trailer:

Buy links:

You can the book on Amazon and other booksellers.

About the Author

JulieMoffetJulie Moffett is the bestselling author of the long-running Lexi Carmichael Mystery Series and the young adult White Knights spin-off series featuring really cool geek girls! She’s been publishing books for 25 years, but writing for a lot longer. She writes in the genres of mystery, young adult, historical romance and paranormal romance. She has won numerous awards, including the Mystery & Mayhem Award for Best YA/New Adult Mystery, the HOLT Award for Best Novel with Romantic Elements, a HOLT Merit Award for Best Novel by a Virginia Author (twice!), the Award of Excellence, a PRISM Award for Best Romantic Time-Travel AND Best of the Best Paranormal Books, and an EPIC Award for Best Action/Adventure Novel. She has also garnered additional nominations for the Bookseller’s Best Award, Daphne du Maurier Award and the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence.

Julie is a military brat (Air Force) and has traveled extensively. Her more exciting exploits include attending high school in Okinawa, Japan; backpacking around Europe and Scandinavia for several months; a year-long college graduate study in Warsaw, Poland; and a wonderful trip to Scotland and Ireland where she fell in love with castles, kilts and brogues.

Julie has a B.A. in Political Science and Russian Language from Colorado College, a M.A. in International Affairs from The George Washington University in Washington, D.C. and an M.Ed from Liberty University. She has worked as a proposal writer, journalist, teacher, librarian and researcher. Julie speaks Russian and Polish and has two awesome sons.

Follow Julie on Social Media:

Guest Post: ACCEPTING CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM by Beth Rodgers

Mistletoe & Magic coverIt’s a pleasure to invite Beth Rodgers to take over my blog today as she shares her  thoughts on accepting constructive criticism – an issue that all authors have to face up to at some time in their careers.

Beth Rodgers is an accomplished author of YA fiction, who is currently celebrating the release of Mistletoe & Magic, a multi-author anthology that includes  “Hearts & Homes” – a contemporary young adult romance.


Accepting Constructive Criticism by Beth Rodgers

It may seem difficult at times to put your work out there for someone else to critique, whether it’s for editing in the process of publication, grading, or otherwise. The fact of the matter is that without hearing other people’s opinions, you are obviously bent on your own opinion on the writing you have done, and, let’s be honest – you think it’s great. We all do. It’s only natural to have emotional ties to the writing you have done. It is also possible that something you hated writing or hated the outcome of once it was fully written could be completely loved by one or more of your readers.

Criticism gets a bad rap. The word has a negative connotation. When people hear that someone is being critical or is criticizing something, they think negatively. Again, this is only natural and is a part of life. An important idea to remember, however, is that criticism does not have to be bad. Without criticism, think of how many pieces of writing, movies, TV shows, or other works of art would go out to the masses due to the biased opinion of the work’s creator.

Have you ever read a book you didn’t like? Have you ever watched a movie or TV show that you wish you hadn’t bothered with? Have you ever thought how nice it would be to be able to tell the author or creator of whatever it is you read, watched, etc. what you might have done differently? Everyone is a critic. Everyone judges. It’s something that is as normal as a typical daily routine. Yet, criticism and judgment can turn out positively. There are always at least two sides to every idea/topic/issue/etc. Just because you think something is great doesn’t mean the rest of the world does, and just because you think something was awful doesn’t mean the rest of the world didn’t love it. You are entitled to your opinion just like anyone else. Just because someone tells you that they suggest changing something doesn’t mean you have to do it. It doesn’t mean you have to agree with it. What it does mean is that you have to attempt to see that person’s viewpoint and analyze not only whether you agree with it, but determine whether you feel that others may see things the same way as the original critic. That is why having more than one person read your work and give you feedback is important. Even if the people you choose to read your work do not give the same advice, even if one person tells you how feedbackgreat it was while another says it was good but there was room for improvement, while another tells you they couldn’t stand it, sharing what other people had to say with the group of reviewers you have established for yourself will help you to gauge whether they truly noticed everything in your writing.

Just because you are the writer does not mean you are the only reader that writing will ever have. The definition of constructive criticism is “the process of offering valid and well-reasoned opinions about the work of others, usually involving both positive and negative comments, in a friendly manner rather than an oppositional one. The purpose of constructive criticism is to improve the outcome.” It is essential that this definition is not only remembered, but taken to heart. No writer has ever penned the perfect piece the first time around. If they say they have, they are lying to you. Read the following quotes from well-known people and authors to further your understanding of the power of constructive criticism:

Winston Churchill, Former British Prime Minister:
“Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfills the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things.”

Hillary Clinton, Politician and Former Presidential Candidate:
“Take criticism seriously, but not personally. If there is truth or merit in the criticism, try to learn from it. Otherwise, let it roll right off you.”

Neil Gaiman, Author:
“I suspect that most authors don’t really want criticism, not even constructive criticism. They want straight-out, unabashed, unashamed, fulsome, informed, naked praise, arriving by the shipload every fifteen minutes or so.”

user-satisfaction-2800863_1280 Why do you think there are reviews on sites that sell books, appliances, and any other item you can possibly think of? The reason is simple. It is because people want to know what others think. They want to see differing opinions to help them make the most informed decision possible. So should it be with writing. Writers must be able to make informed, intelligent decisions based on suggestions that others have made. When something sounds negative, consider the actual intent behind the suggestion, and then determine whether the person is in any way coming up with something that is a possible revision that can be made. Just as you are entitled to your opinion, so are your readers. This is why only certain books make the New York Times Bestseller list, why certain movies and TV shows win Oscars, Golden Globes, and Emmy Awards, why certain music wins Grammys and American Music Awards, etc. If you have ever thought someone unfairly lost an award, an election, or anything else, you have a different opinion than those who did the voting. You are entitled to this. Remember this when someone reads your work and gives you suggestions. Your emotional and other connections with the Beth Rodgers Author Posterwork you have written is essential to you being motivated to continue writing. This is extremely important. Never forget this. However, don’t forget that others are entitled to their opinions as well, and their opinions may just help you improve your writing and sustain a more solid style from that point forward. Every little bit helps. You just have to see it that way.

About the Author

Beth Rodgers is the author of two contemporary young adult novels, Freshman Fourteen and Sweet Fifteen, as well as “Hearts & Homes,” a short story that follows her second novel, but can be read as a standalone story. It can be found in Mistletoe & Magic: A YA Books Central Holiday Anthology. She also works as an editor and creative writing presenter.

In her free time, Beth loves to watch binge-worthy TV shows, travel with her family, and read plenty of good books that she spends time reviewing for her blog and as a staff reviewer for YA Books Central. She lives in Michigan with her husband and children.

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Guest Post, Spotlight & Giveaway: COLD BREW KILLING by Lena Gregory

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Today, as part of a blog tour celebrating the recent release of Cold Brew Killing (All-Day Breakfast Café Mystery),   Lena Gregory stopped by to share some  ideas for how to shake up your breakfast routine.


Breakfast Ideas by Lena Gregory

When I was younger, I worked the breakfast shift at my grandfather’s deli. I loved everything about it, but I especially remember enjoying the aromas; coffee brewing, bacon, freshly baked Kaiser rolls…To this day, the smell of breakfast cooking reminds me of my childhood.

lena-gregory-portraitWhen I decided to write a cooking cozy, it seemed natural to base it around breakfast, but I started wondering if there would be enough items to fill the menu. So I sat down and thought about everything you could make for breakfast, and to my surprise, the list just kept getting longer and longer. Of course, you can always go with the traditional bacon, eggs, home fries, and toast, but here are a few more suggestions from the All-Day Breakfast Café menu you may enjoy.

Omelets: Omelets can be a quick easy breakfast, especially if you prepare ahead of time like Gia does. Once or twice a week you can spend a few minutes dicing your vegetables, or frying and cutting your meat, then keep it in a covered container in the refrigerator. When it’s time to make breakfast, you just throw in whatever you want, and you have a nice, hot meal in no time at all.

There are two ways to make omelets. You can cook the eggs first, then fill the omelet and fold it over, or you can scramble the omelet ingredients into the eggs, then cook them together. Personally, I prefer everything cooked together.

And what can you put in your omelet? Pretty much anything you’d like! Some of the omelets on Gia’s menu include:

Meat Lovers – a blend of bacon, ham, and sausage, topped with American or cheddar cheese.

Veggie Lovers – any kind of vegetables you like. Some of my favorites are spinach, tomatoes, squash, and zucchini.

Western – diced ham, green peppers, and onions topped with American cheese. Western omelets are also amazing on a Kaiser roll with salt and pepper.

Breakfast Pies: Breakfast pies take time to make, but they can be prepared ahead of time and kept in the fridge, then you can simply take a slice and heat it up any time you’re ready. When Gia makes breakfast pies, she lines the pie tins with home fries or shredded potatoes, then she scrambles eggs with whatever ingredients she want to use. (Mostly the same ingredients she uses in omelets.) Once cooked, she adds them to the pie tins, then sprinkles shredded cheddar cheese over the top and puts it in the oven until the cheese melts.

Sandwiches and Wraps: You can never go wrong with a nice bacon, egg, and cheese on a roll. Not only can you make it quickly, you can take it with you and eat it on the run.

Those are just a few breakfast ideas, but you could also do pancakes and waffles, (with or without toppings) burritos, quesadillas, even a breakfast pizza. So next time you aren’t sure what you feel like having for breakfast, just give something off Gia’s menu a try.


About Cold Brew Killing

When an ice cream vendor discovers a frozen stiff, Florida diner owner Gia Morelli has to serve up some just desserts . . .

A-COLD-KILING-BREWGia has become good friends with Trevor, a fun, flirtatious bachelor who owns the ice cream parlor down the street from her popular All-Day Breakfast Café. Trevor has the scoop on all sorts of local attractions and activities. But when he bursts into her diner, trembling and paler than a pint of French Vanilla, she can tell something’s very wrong. Trevor points her toward his shop then passes out cold. When Gia runs down to his shop, she discovers a chilling sight—a dead body in the open freezer. But the ice cream man’s troubles are just beginning. The police suspect him of this murder a la mode, especially when details of his questionable past surface. Gia believes in her friend and is determined to clear his name and find the real cold-blooded killer before someone else gets put on ice . . .

Giveaway

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About the Author

Lena Gregory lives in a small town on the south shore of eastern Long Island with her husband and three children.

When she was growing up, she spent many lazy afternoons on the beach, in the yard, anywhere she could find to curl up with a good book. She loves reading as much now as she did then, but she now enjoys the added pleasure of creating her own stories.

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