#RRBC “TREAT” Reads Blog Hop – Day 3 Gwen Plano

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“Greetings!  Welcome to the 2nd RRBC “TREAT” Reads Blog Hop!  These members of RRBC have penned and published some really great reads and we’d like to honor and showcase their talent.  Oddly, all of the listed Winners are RWISA members!  Way to go RWISA!

We ask that you pick up a copy of the title listed, and after reading it, leave a review.  There will be other books on tour for the next few days, so please visit the “HOP’S” main page to follow along.

Also, for every comment that you leave along this tour, including on the “HOP’S” main page, your name will be entered into a drawing for a gift card to be awarded at the end of the tour!”

Author, Gwen Plano

Gwen Plano (1)

Book: LETTING GO INTO PERFECT LOVE https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00K7WYTW6/

Letting Go

 

Book Blurb: Inspiring and unforgettable, Letting Go into Perfect Love is a riveting account of a journey through the terror of domestic violence to a faith that transforms all. As a college administrator, Gwendolyn M. Plano lived her professional life in a highly visible and accountable space–but as a wife and mother, behind closed doors, she and her family experienced unpredictable threat. The statistics are staggering–every 9 seconds in the United States, a woman is assaulted or beaten–but to Gwen, this was her secret; it was her shame. When her husband eventually turned his brutality on her son, she knew she could no longer remain silent.

 Alternately heart-wrenching and joyful, this is a story of triumph over adversity–one woman’s uplifting account of learning how to forgive the unforgivable, recover her sense of self, bring healing into her family, and honor the journey home. Accompanied by glimpses of celestial beings, Gwen charts a path through sorrow to joy–and ultimately, writes of the one perfect love we all seek

Twitter: @gmplano

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#RRBC “TREAT” Reads Blog Hop – Day 2 – M.A. Adler

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“Greetings!  Welcome to the 2nd RRBC “TREAT” Reads Blog Hop!  These members of RRBC have penned and published some really great reads and we’d like to honor and showcase their talent.  Oddly, all of the listed Winners are RWISA members!  Way to go RWISA!

We ask that you pick up a copy of the title listed, and after reading it, leave a review.  There will be other books on tour for the next few days, so please visit the “HOP’S” main page to follow along.

Also, for every comment that you leave along this tour, including on the “HOP’S” main page, your name will be entered into a drawing for a gift card to be awarded at the end of the tour!”

Author, Mary Adler

Mary RRBC 2

 

Book: IN THE SHADOW OF LIEShttps://www.amazon.com/dp/B00K7WYTSU/

In The Shadow of Lies by Mary Adler

Book Blurb: Richmond, California. World War II.  Marine Lieutenant Oliver Wright comes home from the war in the Pacific injured and afraid his career as a homicide detective is over.  But when an Italian Prisoner of War is murdered the night the Port Chicago Mutiny verdicts are announced, and black soldiers are suspected of the crime, the Army asks Oliver to find out the truth.

 He and his canine partner Harley join forces with an Italian POW captain and with a black MP embittered by a segregated military. During their investigation, these unlikely allies expose layers of deceit and violence that stretch back to World War I and uncover a common thread that connects the murder to earlier crimes.

 In the Shadow of Lies reveals the darkness and turmoil of the Bay Area during World War II, while celebrating the spirit of the everyday people who made up the home front. Its intriguing characters will resonate with the reader long after its deftly intertwined mysteries are solved.

Twitter: @MAAdlerWrites

 

#RRBC “TREAT” Reads Blog Hop – Day 1 RON YATES!

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“Greetings!  Welcome to the 2nd RRBC “TREAT” Reads Blog Hop!  These members of RRBC have penned and published some really great reads and we’d like to honor and showcase their talent.  Oddly, all of the listed Winners are RWISA members!  Way to go RWISA!

We ask that you pick up a copy of the title listed, and after reading it, leave a review.  There will be other books on tour for the next few days, so please visit the “HOP’S” main page to follow along.

Also, for every comment that you leave along this tour, including on the “HOP’S” main page, your name will be entered into a drawing for a gift card to be awarded at the end of the tour!”

Author, Ronald Yates

RON YATES PIC

Book: THE IMPROBABLE JOURNEYS OF BILLY BATTLES https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01GKU3P28/

Billy_Battles

Book Blurb: The year is 1894 and Billy is aboard the S S China sailing to the inscrutable Far East. Trouble is not far behind. He has met a mysterious and possibly dangerous German Baroness. He has locked horns with malevolent agents of the German government and battled ferocious Chinese and Malay pirates in the South China Sea.

Later, he is embroiled in the bloody anti-French insurgency in Indochina–which quite possibly makes him the first American combatant in a country that eventually will become Vietnam. Then, in the Philippines, he is thrust into the Spanish-American War and the brutal anti-American insurgency that follows. But Billy’s troubles are only beginning.

 As the 19th century ends and the 20th century begins, he finds himself entangled with political opportunists, spies, revolutionaries, and an assortment of vindictive and dubious characters of both sexes. How will Billy handle those people and the challenges they present? The answers are just ahead.

Twitter: @jhawker69

Mountain Laurel – Segment #2

We met our main character in the first segment of Mountain Laurel last week. So far, all we know about him is that his name is Mr. Roberts and he’s obviously a country music star in Nashville.  We also know he lost his father in a coal mining accident when he was a young boy. A reporter is trying his best to get an interview out of him and so far that isn’t going well. Let’s head back to the bar and see how he fares.

###

I had a little brother, Timmy, seven years younger. Timmy had been born different. They said his brain never developed the way it should. He’d sit for hours and play with the dust that danced on the sunbeams through the windows, lost in his own little world. Oh, how Papa doted on him.

After that fateful day in the coal mines of Kentucky, the life we’d known as children of Robert Anderson was over. Mama fell into a deep depression and locked everyone out. If it hadn’t been for April, us Anderson kids might’ve starved to death.

My one solace was music. I’d often disappear for hours at a time, taking my guitar with me. A stream ran a few hundred yards from our miner’s shack on the side of the Cumberland Mountains. That’s where I’d go. I played my guitar and sang to the fish that jumped out of the water, turtles that sunned on a log and frogs that leaped from stone to stone.

The fat man cleared his throat loudly. “Mr. Roberts, I don’t think you’ve heard a word I’ve said. Would you at least answer one question?”

Oh yeah, I’d forgotten all about the insistent reporter. I turned to look squarely at him. “What’s your name?”

“Lewis Washington, sir. What inspired you to write your hit song, Cumberland Mines?”

“It was a tribute…to my father.” I motioned to the bartender and returned to my thoughts.

Not too long after we lost Papa, the local welfare lady came. I hid under the porch and listened.

Mountain_Shack

“Mrs. Anderson, we’re sorry for the loss of your husband, but it has come to our attention that your young son, Timmy, may need to be placed in an institution where he can get the kind of help he needs.”

I didn’t have to see Mama’s face to know she gave the lady a blank stare. That’s all she’d managed to give any of us for months.

The welfare lady droned on and on. By the time she drove her ’49 Ford down the dirt road that had brought her to our shack, I knew she’d be back to get Timmy. I crawled out from under the porch and kicked at the dust that settled under my feet.

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Anger took over and I bounded up the porch steps and into the house. Brushing past April, I went straight to Mama. Nothing I said would make her look at me. She was gone.

The worst thing a boy can do is cry in front of his older sister. Once I’d said my piece, I grabbed my guitar and headed for the creek as I’d done a hundred times since Papa died. Oh, how I pounded on the guitar that day. The more I cried, the harder I hit the strings. But, by the time I dragged myself back to the house, I’d written my first song about a tragedy in a Cumberland Mountain coal mine.

“Ahem. I heard Andy Roberts ain’t your real name.” The reporter didn’t give up.

I glanced at his flushed face. “Nope.”

“What’s your real one?” The way he held the pencil over the paper reminded of me a bird about to dive for its prey.

“You’re getting awful personal,” I growled. For a long minute, I considered punching him in the face.

TO BE CONTINUED……

The Button by D.L. Finn #RRBC #RWISA

Thank you, Jan, for inviting me to be on your blog to help celebrate this week’s release of The Button!

Button_covEbkFinal

Blurb:

Lynn Hill left a difficult childhood behind when she turned eighteen. The 1980s were going to be the beginning of a great life. Then what started as an ordinary evening out with her best friend, Stacy, turns into a nightmare. Lynn hears warnings: “Go!” “Leave!” Believing she is hearing things after partying too much, she goes back for one more drink before going home. That decision sets off a chain of events that nothing could have prepared her for. While humans and not-so-human beings are attempting to either help or harm her, Lynn risks everything to find the only person she trusts, Stacy. Who can help her? The stepbrother who shows up right when she needs him or the attractive, helpful bartender who gives her his phone number? Lynn must learn to trust again. Her survival depends on it in this paranormal thriller.

Excerpt:

PROLOGUE

Castro Valley, California, 1976

Lynn was suddenly aware of her surroundings. It was tranquil floating above her still body next to angels. She felt indifferent at seeing her pale form hooked up to wires and IVs, although the beeping machines indicated that her body was still alive.

“You have to go back—you have more to do,” the female angel informed her.

Lynn met the angel’s steady gaze. While she was in awe of her beauty, it was the angel’s silver dress that drew her attention. It reminded her of how the water in her grandmother’s pool had wrapped her in serenity when she sat at the bottom. She’d loved doing that for as long as she could hold her breath. It was one of the few times she felt safe, cocooned in water where no one could hurt her. That dress, flowing like water around the angel, affected Lynn in the same way as the pool did—it made her feel safe. The angel pushed her hair back, causing it to cascade over her peacock-green wings.

Lynn turned her attention to the male angel. His smile was mesmerizing—like a lava lamp, hot and fluid. What a babe! With his long brown hair, strong chiseled features, and green eyes she could get lost in, she felt she could totally spend eternity with him. He smiled broadly at her, but the smile quickly disappeared when the female angel scowled at him. Wait a minute—do they know what I’m thinking? Not cool! Lynn felt her face redden.

The embarrassment was quickly erased as both angels smiled at her again. Lynn wished they’d say more, but she wanted to continue to hang out with them. She was feeling a peace she’d never felt before.

She started to express her desire to stay. “I don’t—” was all she got out before images of an older version of herself filled her mind all at once. Then she was thrust back—into her life and that pallid body hooked up to the beeping machines…


Random Finn facts:

  1. One of my favorite poems is “A Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost. I have a framed print of it above my computer.
  2. I love the seasons: the red leaves of fall, the first flowers in spring, stargazing on a warm summer night, watching the landscape change during a snowstorm and listening to it rain–no matter what season it is.
  3. I prefer to drink my tea out of a coffee cup, although I collect teacups.

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D.L. Finn is an independent California local, who encourages everyone to embrace their inner child. She was born and raised in the foggy Bay Area, but in 1990 relocated with her husband, kids, dogs, and cats to the Sierra foothills in Nevada City, CA. She immersed herself in reading all types of books but especially loved romance, horror, and fantasy. She always treasured creating her own reality on paper. Finally, being surrounded by towering pines, oaks and cedars, her creativity was cradled until it bloomed. Her creations vary from children’s books, young adult fantasy, adult paranormal romance to an autobiography with poetry. She continues on her adventure with an open invitation to her readers to join her.

D.L. Finn’s social media:

Twitter

Facebook

Instagram

Pinterest

Linkedin

Google

Links to Purchase:

Amazon

Smashwords

Barnes & Noble

D.L. FINN BANNER WITH WORDS

D.L. Finn is an uber-supportive member of the RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB and RAVE WRITER’S INT’L SOCIETY OF AUTHORS

Do Press Releases work?

Press Release Crossword

As a staff writer for two magazines, I receive a plethora of Press Releases every day.

I can tell you some grab my eye immediately and some I never open. So what is the secret?

First of all let me answer the question: Do Press Releases have value?

The immediate and short answer is “Yes.”

The longer answer is:

  • Press Releases are a great way to shout out an accomplishment
  • Press Releases can open doors for interviews
  • Press Releases can gain you new followers and fans
  • Press Releases offer a way to reach many with one click

So, what is it about these Press Releases that prompt me to open or delete them?

The first thing I watch for is relevance. I write for music magazines, so a press release about a new company opening down the street will not get my attention (unless it is a recording studio or music store).

That is the number one point I’d like to make. If you are considering sending out a Press Release about an award you received for a book, don’t send it to a publication that only specializes in politics (unless your book is about politics). You wouldn’t want to send your press release to a publication that only does music reviews (unless your book is about music.) I’m sure you get the idea.

In my case, if the press release I receive is not about an artist relevant to Texas or Oklahoma, I delete it.

The headline of the press release is the next most important aspect to me. It can make or break the effort. A boring headline won’t prompt me to open it, but an excited, energetic headline will draw me every time. I’ve even opened Press Releases that I knew had no relevance to me just because of the compelling subject title. They made me want to know more. That is probably the single biggest challenge for anyone writing a Press Release.

Here is a formula that might be useful.

Headline Formula

If you can get them to open it, you at least have a 50-50 chance of some follow-up action.

Since my book of short stories, “Two Shorts and a Snort,” won the Grand Prize in the RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB 90-day Alpha/Omega Beginning to End Short Story contest, I will be sending out press releases locally and statewide.

Here is my headline for local media:

Local Indie Author wins the Grand Prize in an International Short Story Challenge

And for statewide media:

Texas Indie Author wins the Grand Prize in an International Short Story Challenge

Then, in the body of the ONE page Press Release, I can give more details. To me, the draw in the headline is three things – One that I am a local author, two this was not a local contest and three I am an indie author.

What are your thoughts? Have you sent Press Releases in the past? Did you get any results?  I’ll keep you posted as to my results. I’ve had a good response in the past, getting two newspaper features and a TV appearance.

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In the meantime, if you haven’t yet picked up your copy of “Two Shorts and a Snort,” here is the purchase link: https://www.amazon.com/Two-Shorts-Snort-Jan-Sikes-ebook/dp/B07DY8FSWL/

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End of Day by Mae Clair – Cover Reveal!

Book cover for End of Day, mystery/suspense novel by Mae Clair shows old dilapidated church with bell tower and a cemetery in the background overgrown with weeds

Release Date: January 15, 2019
Genre: Mystery/Suspense/Supernatural Thriller
Publisher: Kensington Publishing • Lyrical Underground Imprint

BLURB:
The past is never truly buried…

Generations of Jillian Cley’s family have been tasked with a strange duty—tending the burial plot of Gabriel Vane, whose body was the first to be interred in the Hode’s Hill cemetery. Jillian faithfully continues the long-standing tradition—until one October night, Vane’s body is stolen from its resting place. Is it a Halloween prank? Or something more sinister?

As the descendants of those buried in the churchyard begin to experience bizarre “accidents,” Jillian tries to uncover the cause. Deeply empathic, she does not make friends easily, or lightly. But to fend off the terror taking over her town, she must join forces with artist Dante DeLuca, whose sensitivity to the spirit world has been both a blessing and a curse. The two soon realize Jillian’s murky family history is entwined in a tragic legacy tracing back to the founding of Hode’s Hill. In order to set matters right, an ancient wrong must be avenged…or Jillian, Dante, and everyone in town will forever be at the mercy of a vengeful spirit.

End of Day can be read as a stand-alone novel or as a follow-up to book one of the Hode’s Hill series, Cusp of Night.

End of Day is available for pre-order through this link
and available to add to your Goodreads to-be-read list here.

Connect with Mae Clair at BOOKBUB and the following haunts:

Amazon | BookBub | Newsletter Sign-Up
Website & Blog | Twitter | Goodreads | All Social Media

 

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Mountain Laurel – Segment #1

If you follow my blog, you know that a big part of my life revolves around all kinds of music, but country, folk, and Americana music in particular. Why? Because most of the songs in these genres are story-driven. As a writer, that is what I gravitate to. That is not to say that I don’t enjoy classic rock and blues, because I love them. But, ultimately it’s the stories that draw me.

There are certain songs that invoke the desire to expand and tell the story in greater detail than what you get in three minutes. That is the case with “Mountain Laurel.”

“Rocky Mountain Music” by Eddie Rabbitt is the inspiration. I hope you enjoy the story and here’s a link to the song, if you want to give it a listen.  The storyline does not follow the song a hundred percent but does take bits and pieces of it to weave into this tale.

Segment 1

“Tell me, Mr. Roberts. What’s it like bein’ a big singin’ star?”

The afternoon sun reflected off the lone front window of the Nashville bar. I turned my attention from the shot glass nestled comfortably in my hand to the watery blue eyes of an overweight fellow in a cheap leisure suit. “I reckon it’s okay.”

The heavyset man eased his rear up on the bar stool next to me and motioned to the bartender. “I hate to intrude, but I’m tryin’ real hard to get established as a reporter in the music industry and I need a story bad. What was it like for you growing up?”

Shifting away from the obtrusive interviewer, I stared past him at a memory as vivid as if it were yesterday.

Wide-eyed, I watched as my mama sank into the nearest threadbare chair and crumpled into a heap of sobs.

I could hear the words that fell out of the foreman’s mouth as he laid a clumsy hand on Mama’s shoulder, but it took a while for them to register in my twelve-year-old brain.

coal miner

“Miz Anderson, I’m sure sorry. We tried everything to get Robert out, but when the back section of the mine gave away, it was awful bad.” The miner sighed and shoved a hand covered with coal dust in his pocket. “I’ll have the missus come around and check on you if that’s okay.”

Mama didn’t answer. The kind of grief a person only feels when everything they love is snatched away wracked her body causing her frail shoulders to heave. Guttural cries sprang from her throat making the hair on the back of my neck stand up.

Thank heavens my older sister had the good sense to see the man to the door. After all, April was the strong one. Barely fifteen, she had long dark ringlets that hung down her back and violet eyes that Papa often said could turn any man’s head. She looked more like Papa than the rest of us.

I spared Mama a glance. She was broken. Deep down that day, I knew I no longer had a mama or a papa.

“Mr. Roberts, sir. I really would like to ask some questions if you can spare me five minutes.” The reporter fished out a pencil and tablet while he sipped on a foamy draft beer.

It wasn’t that I minded being interviewed; it was just the memories his questions stirred. No matter how much I drank, how many women I slept with or how many shows I sold out, the guilt was always there.

Papa was my best friend. I admired everything about him; the easy way he moved through life, always smiling and tipping his hat to the ladies, but most of all the ease that music flowed through him. He could play damn near any instrument.

That was the gift he’d passed on to me. From my barstool, I could picture him in his favorite rocker on the front porch blowing smoke rings from his pipe, plucking on his banjo and nodding at me when it was my turn to play my old beat-up Harmony guitar.

banjo man

TO BE CONTINUED NEXT SUNDAY…

 

Blown Away!

I am astounded to learn that my collection of short stories, “Two Shorts and a Snort” won the GRAND PRIZE in the #RRBC 90-day Alpha/Omega short story writing challenge!!

TWO SHORTS&A SNORT_Final2

Wow! I certainly was not expecting this. I have read a lot of the short stories that were created for the challenge and I have to say that some of them were outstanding. You can see all of them in the RRBC Catalogue.

The first story in my book, “Obsession,” was inspired by a song, “Loving County” by Charlie Robison and Jack Ingram. I posted a link before, but here it is again if you want to listen.

I am grateful, honored and humbled to receive this award.

And, it couldn’t have come at a better time. If you follow my blog, you know that I’ve been trying to get a publisher interested in my latest novel. I had begun to feel like I didn’t have what it takes.

This award gives me much-needed validation. It also gives me the motivation to push forward.

You can pick up your copy of “Two Shorts and a Snort” for 99 cents on Amazon. Just click on this link: https://www.amazon.com/Two-Shorts-Snort-Jan-Sikes-ebook/dp/B07DY8FSWL/

That being said, I’d also like to announce the winners from my last blog post. They are:

Janet Gogerty, John Howell, and Craig Boyack. Watch your mailboxes for “Two Shorts and a Snort.” I sincerely hope you all enjoy the short read. 

Next, I’d like to recognize the 1st Place Runner-up

“Tequila Rose Virginity Blues” by Wendy Jayne is a great short story!

Tequila Rose

BLURB:

Tequila Rose may have met the man of her dreams. Unfortunately, she wakes up suffering from alcoholic amnesia and doesn’t remember anything about the night before. Tall, dark, and Jack may be the cure her jaded heart desperately needs, but Tequila’s wary as friends warn her that Jack hangs out with the local drug dealer. Thrust together at a Speed Dating event, their chemistry sizzles, but is Jack after a different kind of fix?

You can read my 5 Star review HERE: https://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-reviews/R1J5Y7KX7QH80Y/

AND you can pick up a copy for 99 cents while you are there!

A HUGE THANK YOU to the RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB for all the amazing benefits offered to authors and for encouragement when we need it the most!

Thank-You-Red-Clipart

 

Taking a break?

takeabreak

Or is it? Are you like me and feel that you have to work like a Trojan workhorse every day, day in and day out?

But what happens when we do? I can only speak from my own personal experience.

  1. Creativity all but comes to a screeching halt
  2. I find it hard to shut my brain off at night for sleep
  3. I feel exhausted all the time
  4. I get grouchy when I am not creating
  5. I get tunnel vision

Here’s the truth of it. Most of us are ambitious and anxious to write great books and get them into the hands of readers. But, no matter how much we do, there is always more to do: more writing, more marketing, more admin. A writer’s work is never done.

Writer's Work

I have one novel already written and two more in the series vaguely outlined and waiting. I fear I have failed miserably, as an author, this year. Yes, I put out several short stories and maintained my blog, but have not given much more than a glance toward my next full-length book. There’s a couple of reasons for that. I have been in this state of limbo since last year, waiting with bated breath to see if a publisher will take the first book of The White Rune Series. Guess what? I’m still waiting.

So, why couldn’t I force myself to work on the next one while I’m waiting? That would be the smart thing to do. I guess the truthful answer is I need to feel like it is worthwhile. Yes, I know. Everything we are inspired to do is worthwhile in some way or another. Maybe the better word for it is validation.

In telling Rick’s and my stories, I had passion. I was driven to get the story down and out into the hands of readers. I need to feel that burning passion again.

burning passion

I’m open to any advice. My sister tells me that if you don’t write a story, you lose it. I don’t want to lose them because they are good stories. Such a dilemma.

Then I have to ask myself this question. If the publisher that currently has the manuscript passes on it, what then?

Yes, I know I can self-publish, but I don’t have another $2,000 to $3,000 to invest with little hope of ever recouping. Since I suck at cover design and formatting, I’d have to pay for both of those services plus editing. If anyone ever said writing and publishing books is easy, they told a big lie.

So, the bottom line to all of this is that I took a break from working on the novels. Is that good? I suppose only time will tell.

How about you? Do you take breaks? Do you have books waiting to be published? Please tell me I’m not in this boat alone.

alone-in-a-boat

Everyone who leaves a comment will be entered into a drawing for my latest collection of short stories, “Two Shorts and a Snort.” I’m giving away three eBooks.

TWO SHORTS&A SNORT_Final2

This book consists of two short stories and one poem from award-winning author, Jan Sikes, in response to a writing challenge from the RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB.

Obsessed:

How far will one man go to satisfy an obsession? The price could cost him his life.

Maggie:

It is possible to pray up a baby? Frank and Mary Pyburn are convinced that is what they’ve done.

Friends Instead of Lovers:

Sometimes it’s better to remain friends instead of giving in to desires and crossing a line.