Thursday, June 30, 2016

The Purse by Julie A Burnes - Author Interview and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Julie will be awarding a free Paperback copy of The Purse OR a eBook copy plus and additional eBook to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

What do you write in your genre?

My first novel is a mystery/thriller. It can be classified under several different genres, which is what I love about it. There is mystery, murder, intrigue, and a touch of romance. The romance is LGBT and straight alike. The mixture of these worlds is what draws me. These are people one would meet in real life. I enjoy the element of surprise and the build up to something no one expected.

Research required?

The research I did for The Purse was really plotting out biographical identities. Because it involves decades of time going by and the timeline had to coincide with events, I had to figure out who was born when, ages when certain events happened, etc. It was quite a daunting task and I had to refigure it many times to make it believable. That is the essence of research and why we do it.

Name one thing you've learned from your heroine.

Perseverance. My main character, Lydia, has lived her entire life thinking she knows her origins. She keeps going, trying to find out the answers to the past, and she won’t stop until she gets those answers. In the meantime, obstacles keep popping up and she has to plow her way through. I am not sure I would have the energy!

An odd thing you do

An odd thing I do when I am finished writing or sometimes half way through, I like to print a paper copy of my novel and put it in a three-ring binder to read it myself as a whole. It helps me get a feel for the tone of the story, along with some editing. I have found some plot holes this way and it’s been a lifesaver.

Plotter or Pantser?

Definitely a plotter. I am constantly plotting characters—even minor ones—with events and playing with dialogue. I enjoy the process of plotting because it’s never the same twice. The possibilities are endless!

Look to the right—what is there?

A three-ring binder with a printed copy of my second novel. The pages are folded over, both chicken scratches and regular ones—roughed-up copy for sure. Having it here reminds me I need to get busy editing!

Anything new?

My second novel, Dreamers and Thieves, is due out in February 2017. I am very excited, as it is a complete departure from The Purse. It is what I call a psychological thriller. It is about one woman’s story of survival, not once but twice.

Questions for readers?

What keeps you motivated to turn the page until you are finished with a book? What kinds of stories will cause you to follow an author and each book they write?

When Lydia Blackwell visits her dying father for the last time, he reveals the deeply hidden truth about her mother. After the funeral, the stranger Derek Meade gifts her with a gorgeous antique purse. But before she has the chance to connect with the man who knew her father intimately, Lydia finds Derek murdered in his home.

Lieutenant Sonja MacIntosh is assigned to investigate Mr. Meade’s death, but her career on the force never prepared her for Lydia Blackwell. As Sonja works to solve the murder, Lydia takes the greatest risk of her life in leaving Chicago to search for clues to her mother’s past. Their instant attraction surprises them both, but even through the chaos Lydia can’t deny the intensity of her feelings for the strong willed Lieutenant.

Lydia’s possession of the antique purse throws her already chaotic life into a whirlwind of kidnapping, blackmail, vengeful mob bosses, and mind-numbing revelations. Through it all, Lydia must find the strength to accept herself – and those closest to her – despite their darkest secrets.

Enjoy an excerpt:

As she walked into the bedroom, the smell of her father’s cologne lingered even through all the sickness that had been in the air. Stepping over to the deep walk-in closet, Lydia opened the double doors to reveal her father’s suits, ties, and shoes. She made a mental note to have Rosita donate her father’s clothes so they didn’t hang like a shrine. She stared at every inch of the closet until her eyes fell on a small shoebox buried on the top shelf. Lydia retrieved the step-ladder from within a hidden compartment in the closet’s wall and stood on it to pull down the shoebox. Without thinking, she strolled over to her father’s bed, sat down, and went through all the memories kept in the cardboard box.

Many were just baby pictures of Lydia, and then she discovered a picture of her mother when she was pregnant. How beautiful she was; she looked so happy and carefree. What in the world could have happened? More questions, no answers. Lydia decided to keep the picture with her. Digging deeper yet into the box, she also found pictures of her father and Derek together. They made a handsome couple, though it was still difficult to believe her father had been involved with a man. At least true love hadn’t escaped him as she’d previously thought.

About the Author:

Julie A. Burns is a native Iowan born in Marshalltown, Iowa and raised in Davenport, Iowa. After her parent’s divorce at age 7, she took to writing, whether it was her diary or poems about people she met or situations that bothered her. After graduating from high school in 1983, she spent time working as a Nurse’s Aide in different nursing homes in Iowa. In 1989, she gave birth to a daughter, Brittany and raised her as a single parent. In the same year, she enrolled at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa. She graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology in 1994. Since then, Julie has spent time working with developmentally disabled adults and the mentally ill throughout Iowa and also in Wyoming, where she lived for 6 years. Julie currently lives in Waterloo, Iowa with her spouse. When she’s not writing, she enjoys being a grandmother to 3 year old Sophie.

Publisher author Page:
Smashwords author page:

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Tuesday, June 28, 2016

This Madness of the Heart by Blair Yeatts - Guest Blog and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Blair Yeatts will be awarding a $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Five Things You Might Not Know About Blair Yeatts

I was only four, but my parents never let me forget. It bordered on the unforgiveable sin, since my mother’s lemon meringue pie verged on sacrament. She grated lemon rind until the whole house smelled of lemons, and then pressed the lemon halves down over the glass juicer, collecting juice like nectar, enough to make your mouth twist in a helpless pucker of ecstasy, even mixed with milk and eggs. The pie pan stood ready: pulverized vanilla wafers and melted butter pressed into a crust. After saying some mysterious spell over insignificant egg whites, my mother turned on the mixer, scooped the fluffy mass into the pan, and slid the masterpiece into the oven. As the daughter of the house, I bore the first huge slice to my father, who sat at the head of the table. I took the plate carefully, turned toward the table, raised the pie slice on one hand, just like a waitress . . . and slammed the plate against the wall. Lemon pie oozed down the paint in deadly silence. Until my father’s bellows began. I can still hear them. But my punishment burns in memory: “Consider that piece your share,” he growled, and said no more.

I was a child, and the statute of limitations has run out, so I’ll confess. I went on a crime spree with the little girl across the street when I was six. We crept outside in the heavy heat of a Sunday afternoon, armed with roofing nails. I suspect she was angry with her father, because we approached his car first. Very carefully, we stood the nails upright, pressed firmly under the tire, front and back, so that whichever way the car rolled, the nail would find its mark. We set nails beneath one tire of every car on the block, and were immensely gratified by the epidemic of flat tires next morning. But we never said a word, and it remained a mystery—to this day.

I was 13 when my parents planned a day’s hike into—and out of—the Grand Canyon. Summer temperatures in the canyon hung around 115, and Bright Angel Trail was 20 miles round-trip. My father filled two of our canteens with grape juice rather than water, so we were vomiting and dehydrated by the time we reached the river. Did you know that the USPS kept extra beds and mules at Phantom Ranch (on the Canyon bottom) just for idiots like us? My father and brother had to walk out next day, because there were only two spare mules. But we never decided who suffered more—my father and brother from blisters on top of blisters and outraged muscles, or my mother and I, from saddle sores, blisters and two entirely different sets of outraged muscles.

My first summer out of college I went to a rock festival near Atlanta. Mostly I remember the heat—and the mud holes (normally little ponds, but with 1000 or so overheated rock fans, mud). Skinny-dipping in a coat of mud became part of the day. Unfortunately, as soon I climbed out of the hole with my mud, I fainted. Everyone gathered around, full of concern. I got up . . . and fainted again. Three times. I’ll always have that niggling question in my mind: what must I have looked like, mud-coated, sprawled naked, and unconscious in a Georgia cow pasture?

I was driving through Joshua Tree National Monument—infamous for peculiar vibes—when I stopped at a sign for a scenic overlook. I’d noticed a raven keeping pace with my car ever since I entered Joshua Tree, flying and landing and flying again, always right alongside me, but when I stopped he disappeared. I followed the path where the sign pointed, but within 50 yards it vanished. Common sense would have had me turning back, but I kept on, clambering over rocks until I was thoroughly lost, down low in a chaos of twisty little tracks and high boulders—with no water or hat. I was settling into some serious panic when “my” raven reappeared. Ok, some raven. I couldn’t swear it was the same one. He quorked at me from a boulder until I got up and followed where he led—out of the boulders and up onto a high ridge that I hadn’t been able to see . . . overlooking the road. He flew off at that point, but swooped down across my windshield as I was leaving.

Bad religion can be deadly. So Miranda Lamden, small-town religion professor, discovers in This Madness of the Heart. The dark hollers of Eastern Kentucky offer fertile soil for shady evangelist Jasper Jarboe, new president of Grace and Glory Bible College, as he beguiles the small mining town of Canaan Wells with his snake-oil charm.

When Miranda isn’t teaching at Obadiah Durham College, she’s investigating paranormal phenomena—or enjoying a turbulent romantic relationship with backwoods artist Jack Crispen. JJ’s inquisition-style gospel has alienated her long since, but when he announces his plan to transform her forest home into an evangelical Mecca, complete with neon cross and 40-foot Jesus, Miranda girds her loins for war. But JJ isn’t finished: he goes on to launch an attack on her friend and fellow professor Djinn Baude with an avalanche of vicious rumors. Not only does he accuse Djinn of demonic communion with the old Voudon witch whose curse killed the college’s founding family, but he also smears her with insinuations of lechery and vice.

With JJ’s urging, hate boils over into violence and tragedy, sweeping Miranda up in its flood. One death follows another as a miasma of evil overwhelms the tiny community, and only Miranda can see clearly enough to halt its spread.

This Madness of the Heart is the first in a new series of Gothic mystery-thrillers featuring Professor Miranda Lamden, whose spiritual gifts have drawn her beyond university walls to explore the mysteries of other world beliefs. Her unique vision brings her into repeated confrontations with evil, where too often she finds herself standing alone between oblivious onlookers and impending disaster.

Enjoy an excerpt:

The night turned around her, until, in the darkest watches before dawn, she rose from her knees, abandoning the bloody altar with its guttering candles. A queen entranced, she paced slowly down the hill toward the sleeping house, her eyes blind with visions. Through the front door she walked, into the hall’s center, to the foot of the great staircase. There she raised her bloody hands and cried aloud in a high-pitched wail, sinking at last to a low hissing hum.

“Guede-z-araignee! Come a-hungered! Drink di lifeblood o’ dis evil man! Drink he mem’ry away! Tak he woman int’ di night, Tak’ he chillun, tak’ dem all! Tak’ dem int’ di darkness! Tak’ dem all—tak’ dey lives, tak’ dey bodies, tak’ dey souls! Gi di blood o’ di murderer no rest, not in dis life, not in di next. Spill dey blood on dis bloody land! Come, Guede-z-araignee! Come an’ drink!”

Like a snake swaying on its coils, a tendril of smoke emerged from the darkness, swelling and growing, rising and twisting toward the upper floors of the plantation house. Tiny rainbow-hued flames licked at the polished floor. Then, with a screaming roar, fire like a spider’s bloated body engulfed the great hall, swallowing the keening woman and gathering the curving staircase to its tumid breast. A billowing inferno exploded into the long upper halls, curling and crisping the fine imported wood, sealing bedroom doors with sucking flame, feeding on the agonized cries within: a holocaust offered to a vengeful deity, sated at last with the charring bodies of the landowner’s family... the whole family, save one, a tiny boychild, carried sleeping from his father’s house by an old black nurse, terrified by the fiery havoc she had witnessed in her dreams.

About the Author:
Blair Yeatts grew up in the midst of a large, old southern Virginia family, much like the family of her main character. She followed her parents into a career in academia and taught religion at the college level in Kentucky for many years. Her special areas of expertise are psychology and Earth-based religions, in which she has done considerable research.

From childhood, Ms. Yeatts has been a fan of mystery fiction, starting with Nancy Drew and moving through Agatha Christie to twentieth century giants like Dorothy L. Sayers, P.D. James, and Nevada Barr. She is fulfilling a life’s dream in writing her own mysteries.

Ms. Yeatts shares her home with her photographer husband, two cats, and a dog. She has a lifelong love of wild nature, and prefers to set her stories in rural areas, where threads of old spiritual realities still make themselves felt. Her first three books take place in different parts of Kentucky and Tennessee.

Twitter: @blair-yeatts
Linked In:

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Monday, June 27, 2016

Deadly Season by Alison Bruce - Guest Blog and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Alison Bruce will be awarding a $10 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Five fun, interesting, edifying or even embarrassing thinngs you might not know about Alison Bruce

The first thing I did when I read the topic for this blog was to go ask my friends what was fun, interesting and edifying about me. (Embarrassing I can do on my own.)

#1: Nancy, my oldest friend, reminded me that we were Stratford Festival fanatics. From the year I got my driver’s license, until the season the ticket prices shot out of our reach, we’d go to Stratford Ontario and see two or three plays a summer. We were predominantly Shakespeare fans but there was the year I saw Shaw’s Arms and the Man four times.

#2: This reminded me of a truth most people wouldn’t expect an author to admit to: I hated English class. The only good thing about high school English studying the requisite Shakespearean play. The only English course I took that that didn’t involve Shakespeare, was Science Fiction. The only reason I took it was because it had a writing component.

#3: My children can honestly say that their mother wore army boots. I did basic training with the Canadian Army when I participated in Katimavik— a Canadian youth program. Although technically in the Reserves, for three month we lived and trained like regular army recruits. For a while I even considered enlisting. But this was a very different army than the one we have today. The most likely trade I’d get after basic training would have been administrative. Now, if they let me become a driver-mechanic, as my aunt was before me (albeit during WWII) my career path might have been military.

#4: Instead, after earning bachelor degrees (with honors) in History and Philosophy, I became a comic book store manager. I was already a reader and collector. Comics were my relaxation reads when I needed a break from dialectical materialism (good and evil are relative to context) and deontological rationalism (duty-based ethics). Of course, comic books are also a treasure trove of examples of philosophical theories, especially ethics. (So is The Game of Thrones. Ned Stark is a textbook example deontological ethics in action.)

#5: Everything I learned about writing I learned through reading. Yes, I took a course in Science Fiction that included writing, but I already knew about Clarke’s Laws, Heinlein’s Rules (much harder to keep) and Suspension of Disbelief (high school English does have its uses.)

I’m not dissing writing courses. Had I the time and the money, I probably would have taken them. Unfortunately, student debts put the kibosh on that. When I had time, I had no money. When I had money, I had no time. And then there were those periods when I had neither time nor money.

However, if nothing else, university had taught me how to read critically, whether it was for research or analysis. I also learned that many of my favorite authors wrote about writing. Long before the blog, authors were using their introductions and author’s after words to share their process. Some even wrote books on the topic. Even if they didn’t, everything you need to know about authors can be divined by reading their books.

Kate recently inherited half her father’s private investigation company and a partner who is as irritating as he is attractive. Kate has been avoiding Jake Carmedy for years, but now her life might depend on him.

Kate and Jake are on the hunt for a serial cat killer who has mysterious connections to her father’s last police case. Kate’s father had been forced to retire when he was shot investigating a domestic disturbance. Is the shooter back for revenge? And is Kate or Jake next?

Read an Excerpt:

Hungry, I reached for my dinner bag. To give him his due, Carmedy put together a good sandwich. Not as good as David’s Reuben but way better than ham and processed cheese sandwiches my mother put in my lunch before she decided I was old enough to make my own.

Half a sandwich later, I moved to a new spot with a view of the park. Someone was taking a walk. Doing up my coat, I decided to see who was out so late. As soon as I stepped away from the car I activated the recorder on my eCom. In a low voice I told it where I was going and why. An app would add the time and GPS coordinates to my report and a code word from me would download the information with a request for help to Emergency Response Coordination.

We hadn’t had a major snowfall yet. The paths were clear and grass was visible through the light powder. I plotted an intercept course across the lawn, walking purposefully but not rushing. As I walked, I sent out a ping to make sure this wasn’t a member of the watch. It was the same app that people had been using since the turn of the century to tell them when their friends were close by.

Not a member of the watch.

I took a couple of photos. Even with enhancement, they were probably too far away. While I kept my eye on my quarry—who was probably some innocent guy out for a stroll—I tried to work out height, weight and gender, even the colour of his coat. I should have been looking where I was stepping. My heel set down in something soft and slid forward. I tried to catch myself but ended up landing hard on my tail bone.

“Fu—” Then the smell hit me. “Crap!”

I’d landed in dog shit. In my pocket my eCom alarm went off. My quarry was now running away.

“What is the nature of your emergency?” asked the ERC operator.

“False alarm,” I said.

“You really have to come up with a better emergency word, Garrett.”

“I thought I had.”

When I got back to the car, a blue and white was waiting. It looked pretty sleek beside the company clunker.

“What’s up, Garrett? You stink.”

Just my luck, it was Zander Mohr. He was one of my father’s old cronies. He was also my field training officer when I was hired. He saw it as his duty to keep me humble.

“Hold on a sec.”

I wrenched opened the passenger side door of Dad’s car and grabbed a handful of napkins from the glove compartment. Heading for the nearest receptacle, I wiped the worst of the mess off as I walked. When I got back, Mohr was holding out an industrial sized wet-wipe.



“I was checking on someone in the park and slipped on dog poo.”

“I can smell that. What happened to the other guy?”

“Got spooked and ran away.”

“Natural response to an alarm going off. I heard it from the other side of the park.”

I winced. “Too loud?”

“Nope,” said Mohr, shaking his head. “Just loud enough. Go home, Garrett. Or go to a laundry. Get outta here. The cats are safe tonight.”

About the Author:
Alison Bruce has had many careers and writing has always been one of them. Copywriter, editor and graphic designer since 1992, Alison has also been a comic store manager, small press publisher, webmaster and arithmetically challenged bookkeeper. She is the author of mystery, romantic suspense and historical western romance novels. Three of her novels have been finalists for genre awards.  (author and business website)

Alison Bruce is also a regular contributor to:

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