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What If You Planned a Party and Nobody Came?

May 13, 2021 by in category From a Cabin in the Woods by Members of Bethlehem Writers Group tagged as , , , ,

What if you spent a year planning a party, sent out the invitations, and nobody came? For the past year, that has been the scenario for writers and readers. Each writer’s plan was simple: write the book and go on tour launching it. Readers looked forward to the party aspect of interacting with authors at bookstores, libraries, and conferences. Then, on March 14, 2020, the world shut down.

That weekend, I was in Washington, D.C. at a family function, not knowing it would be a year or more until I saw those loved ones again. Before arriving in Washington, I had been on a whirlwind tour for newly released Three Treats Too Many, the third book in Kensington’s Sarah Blair mystery series. The tour had taken me to Los Angeles, San Diego, Phoenix, Denver, Memphis, Fairhope, New York, and Atlanta in two months. More stops were planned for April through August, but they were canceled.

I, like many authors, had to pivot. We spoke to groups or participated in panels virtually. Authors learned to sit up straight, use microphones or earphones, adjust lighting and backgrounds, and provide bookplates instead of only bookmarks. Using Zoom, Crowdcast, or other platforms was a good substitute, but not the same as live interaction with readers and bookstore owners. Reaction times were different, especially for webinar platforms where readers could only communicate by leaving a chat message.

Although readers still establish links between themselves and the characters in books they choose to read, experimentation with new authors dropped. Why? Housebound, people found comfort spending time with familiar characters and scenes that brought back good memories.

Four Cuts Too Many, the fourth Sarah Blair book releases May 25. In it, Sarah, who finds being in the kitchen more frightening than murder, has no desire to learn knife skills from her friend, sous chef and adjunct college instructor, Grace Winston. But, when Grace’s department chair is found dead with one of Grace’s knives in his neck, Sarah is forced to sharpen her own skills to uncover the elusive killer. The premise and the book are fun, especially for a summer beach, airplane, or bath read, but how to launch it to the most people is a dilemma.

It is a problem that is not mine alone (although it sometimes feels like it). Most authors with release dates that would offer readers the perfect summer book are finding that stores are still not having large in person book parties nor are the usual conferences taking place. Consequently, we’re planning individual virtual store appearances or panels, we’re increasing our number of Facebook parties and group take-overs, more blogs are being written, and we’re hoping for word-of-mouth help.

Whether it is Four Cuts Too Many or any other book you read, review it, and tell your friends about it. Publishers look at sales and numbers, so it is important that readers and writers work together if favorite series and characters are to be survive the pandemic.

I know I can’t wait to see you in person again, but in the meantime, do you have any ideas how you’d like authors to connect with you? I’ve got my pen and paper ready to take notes.




Judge Debra H. Goldstein is the author of Kensington’s new Sarah Blair cozy mystery series, which debuted with One Taste Too Many on December 18, 2018. She also wrote Should Have Played Poker and 2012 IPPY Award winning Maze in Blue. Her short stories, including Anthony and Agatha nominated “The Night They Burned Ms. Dixie’s Place,” have appeared in numerous periodicals and anthologies including Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, Black Cat Mystery Magazine, and Mystery Weekly. Debra is president of Sisters in Crime’s Guppy Chapter, serves on SinC’s national board, and is president of the Southeast Chapter of Mystery Writers of America.

Find out more about Debra at any of the following links:

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Debra’s Newest Sarah Blair Mystery

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The Sarah Blair Mysteries

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ONE TASTE TOO MANY

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ONE TASTE TOO MANY

TWO BITES TOO MANY

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TWO BITES TOO MANY

THREE TREATS TOO MANY

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THREE TREATS TOO MANY

FOUR CUTS TOO MANY

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FOUR CUTS TOO MANY

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Dark Secrets of the Bayou Book Tour and Excerpt

February 23, 2021 by in category Apples & Oranges by Marianne H. Donley, Rabt Book Tours tagged as , , , ,
 

 

 

 

 

 

Mystery, Suspense

 

Date Published: November 2020

Publisher: Raven South Publishing

 

 

 

To avenge the past, one must first unearth its secrets.

 

Catherine “Tink” Mabrey, an up and coming attorney, is shocked by her recent inheritance from her estranged family on the bayou. After her mother died during childbirth, Tink’s father had quickly relocated them to the big city of Atlanta, Georgia. With no memory of her mother, she is determined to learn more about her lineage and decides to visit the bayou town of Kane, Louisiana. Candace, Tink’s co-worker and best friend, agrees to make the trip with her.

 

Before she has time to explore her family’s history, or decide what to do with the declining property, local murders plague Tink’s homecoming. She quickly finds herself caught in the middle of a multiple murder investigation – and quite possibly, the prime suspect. When Candace retreats back to Atlanta, Tink, with the support of an unlikely cast of characters, sets out to discover clues that have haunted and tormented her family for generations.

 

Could a concealed crime from the 1800’s, or the family’s estate itself, harbor keys to unlocking the past? The more they learn, the more they question whether some secrets are best left buried.

 

Other Books By Kim Carter:

 

 

Sweet Dreams, Baby Belle (2017)

Murder Among The Tombstones (2017)

No Second Chances (2017)

Deadly Odds (2018)

And The Forecast Called For Rain (2018)

When Dawn Never Comes (2018)

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About The Author

 

 

Kim Carter is an author of suspense, mystery and thriller novels. She was a finalist in the 2018 Killer Nashville Silver Falchion Award and recipient of the 2017 Readers’ Choice Award for her book Murder Among The Tombstones. This is the first book in her Clara and Iris Mystery series. The characters in this series are a couple of overly curious widows who become private investigators and were inspired by Kim’s mother and her mom’s best friend.

Her other titles include: When Dawn Never Comes, Deadly Odds, No Second Chances, And The Forecast Called For Rain, and Sweet Dreams, Baby Belle.

Kim’s writing career started after she suffered an illness that made her housebound for a couple of years. An avid reader of mystery novels, she embarked on writing as a means of filling her time. Kim shared those early writings with friends and family who encouraged her to pursue writing professionally. Her health struggles and successes have been chronicled on The Lifetime Television in early 2000, The Atlanta-Journal Constitution, Women’s Day Magazine, and Guideposts.

Prior to her illness, Kim worked in many different capacities in county government ranging from Park Director with Parks and Recreation to the Grant Department with Human Services. But, ultimately, it was her job as a correctional officer that provided her the opportunity to interact with a variety of people from all walks of life. Her experiences ran the gamete of inspiring success stories to tragic endings, much like her mysteries.

She self-published her first book No Second Chances. One of the guest speakers at the launch party she had at the Performing Arts Center in Newnan, Georgia included her close friend retired Atlanta Police chief Eldrin Bell. This connection would become helpful as she started doing more research for other books, this time working with a small publishing house.

Kim started networking and made connections with the Fulton County Medical Examiner’s Office. Her research has taken her many places including morgues, death row and the occasional midnight visit to cemeteries.

She is a college graduate of Saint Leo University, has a Bachelor Degree of Arts in Sociology. Kim and her husband have three grown children and live just outside of Atlanta, Georgia.

 

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Excerpt

Dark Secret of the Bayou

Kim Carter

KANE, LOUISIANA, 1859

EMMANUEL SINCLAIR STOOD BACK and surveyed the sprawling plantation that had encompassed his life for the past two years. He nodded with pleasure as if someone were there awaiting his approval. Placed perfectly amidst rows of river oaks, magnolias, and sycamores, the estate was breathtakingly beautiful. The well-designed landscape surrounding the home contrasted sharply with the bald cypress and coastal willows rising prominently from the waters in the bayou. 

Emmanuel had no doubt, Lucretia, his soon-to-be bride, would be delighted with her stately new home. Within the next twenty-four hours, she was scheduled to go by train from Baltimore to the Ohio River. 

Lucretia would then travel by steamboat via the Ohio and the Mississippi to New Orleans, where Emmanuel would be waiting for her. Lucretia’s trip would be grueling, but she’d experienced many challenges over her eighteen years. Her grandparents had been part of the Expulsion of 1755 when the British ejected all French-Acadians refusing to pledge allegiance to the King of England. Originally settling in Maine, her family relocated to New York before putting down permanent stakes in Baltimore. 

Young Lucretia longed for consistency, and it had been Emmanuel’s stability that’d won her over. By the age of thirty-five, he’d already made his fortune in the cotton business. His father had died seven years earlier, leaving Emmanuel a sizeable concession of land and a fledgling cotton crop, which, at best, kept the plantation self-sufficient. But it was the combination of Emmanuel’s business savvy, the increase of cotton production, and Louisiana’s strategic ports that’d quickly increased his wealth. 

AS EMMANUEL HAD BEEN STEADILY BUILDING a prosperous empire, Thaddeus Jackson had been constructing a flourishing kingdom of his own, on an equally expansive plantation a few miles away. Thaddeus had his father, Mathias, to thank for being born a free man of color. He had caught Andrew Jackson’s eye as a standout on the battlefield during the War of 1812. His grueling work ethic and leadership skills played pivotal in constructing breastworks, later referred to as Line Jackson. 

Thaddeus had quickly tired of the story, even as a young boy, and considered his father nothing more than a yes-man who’d covered cotton bales with logs and mud to protect the white army. However, Andrew Jackson had been quite impressed— enough so, in fact, that he’d facilitated Mathias’s freedom. Not one to take any blessing for granted, Mathias had chosen to acquire Jackson’s surname out of gratitude. 

Thaddeus had found much to dislike about his father, but he’d inherited many of his most admirable traits. He was a powerful leader and quick learner with a sense of adventure. These characteristics had led to his success as a Mississippi River privateer. His tall frame and good looks didn’t hinder him either. Both his appearance and self-confidence had also captured Fatima Lambert’s attention. 

Fatima came with quite the story of her own. With a shortage of white women in the state of Louisiana and laws forbidding interracial marriage, the institution of plaçage enabled her to be a mistress to the very wealthy, and incredibly old, William Lambert. She’d been merely a teenager when he’d spotted her working his fields and had quickly arranged for her to be a kept woman. 

Accustomed to hard labor and the unrelenting heat, she hadn’t objected to being at his beck and call and his bed when he’d insisted. Fortunately for Fatima, she’d only had to suffer through a few sessions of his sexual desires before he’d dropped dead of a heart attack at the ripe age of seventy-eight. 

With William being a childless widower and having no other heirs with whom to split his fortune, Fatima had become the proud owner of not only his cotton plantation but his slaves as well. It wasn’t her attractiveness as a mulatto that’d lured Thaddeus to pursue Fatima; it’d been her property and the glorious cotton fields that promised a lifetime of financial security. Once he’d set his sights on her, there was little Fatima could do but concede to his advances. After all, who wouldn’t want a bright, handsome husband to take care of things? 

A RABBIT SCURRIED beneath some underbrush, drawing Emmanuel’s attention to the cool, damp breeze and dark clouds promising an impending storm. He walked to the front porch, paused long enough to grab his oil lamp, and made his way inside. Emmanuel hesitated briefly to take in the magnificence of the grand staircase winding its way, like an ornate ribbon, up to the second and third floors. One of his slaves, who’d been trained as a blacksmith, had spent the past few months creating it, and he hadn’t disappointed. 

It would surely take Lucretia’s breath away. Aside from a bed and some office necessities, the remaining furnishings would be left to Lucretia’s desires. Yet another of Emmanuel’s wedding gifts to her. Although it was midday, and the many windows gave way to ample light, thunder clouds had begun to darken the home’s interior. Emmanuel made his way up the stairs, down the corridor leading to the west wing, and entered his office. He slid the mantel a smidgen to the left. 

This released the mechanism holding the entire faux fireplace intact, enabling him to unlock the steel door leading to an array of complex tunnels, and ultimately, his concealed vault. THIS WAS where the lives of two greedy and shrewd businessmen merged. 

This was the beginning of a tale older than time, filled with greed, lust, superstition, and murderous secrets they’d both take to their graves. 

It was a story meant to be locked away forever…


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FORGIVING STEPHEN REDMOND BY A.J. SIDRANSKY—A REVIEW BY VERONICA JORGE

January 22, 2021 by in category Book Reviews by Veronica Jorge, Write From the Heart by Veronica Jorge, Writing tagged as , , , ,

Forgiving Stephen Redmond: A Kurchenko & Gonzalves Mystery, Book 2 of a series

By A.J. Sidransky

Black Opal Books 2021   

ISBN 978-195343-4036

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Stephen Redmond never understood his late father, Maximo Rothman, or the mysterious ‘other life’ he never spoke about. He considers that maybe, like the changing neighborhood, his dwindling religious community, and the old ways that are disappearing, he should let go of the past and move forward.

But when Detectives Kurchenko and Gonzalves arrive to discuss the dead body found sealed in the wall of a building his father co-owned, Stephen realizes that the past has a will of its own and an iron grip. Shaken by the news of such a gruesome discovery, and knocked off balance by a murky memory he often wondered whether it was real or imagined, Stephen drags himself back through the past forty years in search of the truth. But if and when he finds the truth, what will he do with it?

Sidranky’s first book in this series, Forgiving Maximo Rothman, (reviewed by this writer on December 22, 2020), introduced us to Stephen’s father Maximo: his harrowing escape out of Nazi Europe, life as a refugee in the Dominican Republic, the horrific event that forces him to flee to New York City, and his attempt at creating a better life for his son.

In this second novel, we find Maximo’s son coming to terms with his father’s secret life, and facing the buried ghosts of his own past actions, as he tries to heal the broken pieces of his heart in the hope of finding a peaceful and blessed life.

Forgiving Stephen Redmond is a moving and memorable mystery that touches on themes of the relationship between fathers and sons, confronting a past that won’t let go, guilt, love, learning how to forgive others, and above all, the importance of forgiving ourselves. 

Forgiving Stephen Redmond will touch your heart!

~Veronica Jorge


Other Books Reviewed by Veronica Jorge

#PLEASE SAY YES (#HermosafortheHolidays Book 1)

A DRAKENFALL CHRISTMAS

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A DRAKENFALL CHRISTMAS

FOREIGN RELATIONS

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FOREIGN RELATIONS

FORGIVING MARIELA CAMACHO

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FORGIVING MARIELA CAMACHO

FORGIVING MAXIMO ROTHMAN

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FORGIVING MAXIMO ROTHMAN

FORGIVING STEPHEN REDMOND

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FORGIVING STEPHEN REDMOND

MIGUEL’S BRAVE KNIGHT

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MIGUEL’S BRAVE KNIGHT

MY FRIEND JACKSON

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MY FRIEND JACKSON

ONE TASTE TOO MANY

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ONE TASTE TOO MANY

THE LAST GOODNIGHT

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THE LAST GOODNIGHT

SECRET RELATIONS

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SECRET RELATIONS
SERIOUSLY, MOM, YOU DIDN’T KNOW?

SEVERED RELATIONS

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SEVERED RELATIONS

THREE TREATS TOO MANY

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THREE TREATS TOO MANY
THE RELUCTANT GROOM AND OTHER HISTORICAL STORIES

THE ALLIANCE

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THE ALLIANCE

THE SCRIBE OF SIENA

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THE SCRIBE OF SIENA

TWO BITES TOO MANY

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TWO BITES TOO MANY
THE DAY BAILEY DEVLIN’S HOROSCOPE CAME TRUE
THE DAY BAILEY DEVLIN PICKED UP A PENNY

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My Brother’s Keeper

December 18, 2020 by in category Guest Posts, Rabt Book Tours tagged as , , , , ,

 

 

 

A Pale Woods Mystery: Book One

 

 

Mystery

 

 

Date Published: June 26, 2020

 

 

Publisher: Jan-Carol Publishing, Inc.

 

 

 

Seventeen-year-old Jerrod has struggled with the guilt of his actions for an event that took place almost a year ago. His friends have abandoned him, his family ignores him, and he lost his best friend. To make matters worse, he was unable to access records that may have revealed his father’s whereabouts. His sister, Ella, guides Jerrod as he tries to learn and accept secrets his family has tried to hide. However, a sinister spirit may be influencing Ella’s actions, and it has an agenda of its own.

 

 

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My Brother’s Keep

Excerpt

Chapter 19

I had been thinking a long time about the past, and early morning light had run away the shadows. I didn’t want to relive those terrible moments in time, but my mind kept pushing me back to them.


My mother’s bedroom door creaked open, and her feet padded softly down the carpeted hallway. I thought she would go downstairs, but her footsteps stopped outside of my room.


I lay frozen on my bed, looking at the door. I could hear my mother’s breath, soft and sad.


The knob turned, and the door inched open slowly. My mother stood in the doorway with a laundry basket against her hip.


Oh, she was putting away laundry. No big deal.


“Hey, Mom,” I said, rising from my bed. “I’ll get that for you,” I offered, motioning to the laundry basket.


My mother didn’t move or look at me. She seemed like she was unsure about something.


She was trying to get her emotions under control, but she let a tear fall as she looked at the floor. “I never blamed you,” she whispered. “You never hurt anyone.”

The last words seemed to be too much for my mother, and she burst into tears. I watched her with my hands up. What was I supposed to do?


Before I could decide on a course of action, my mother turned around and closed my door. I lowered my hands and stared at the door.


I had waited almost a year for my mother’s forgiveness. Now that she had pardoned me, I still felt cold and alone. I had pictured us holding and hugging each other, but my mother had left without a show of affection.

My mother may have been trying to keep her emotions in check, like her father had taught her to do when she was young. She was probably ashamed of her tears. Besides, she was from the city, and city girls weren’t supposed to cry.


I settled under my comforter and tried to push the gnawing emptiness away. I tried to pretend my twin was on the bed above me and that he was only sleeping. I wanted to talk to him, and I knew he would understand.
No matter how mad I made him, he always listened to me and tried to help.
The morning light landed on Josh’s model car collection, but it was dusty and mostly forgotten. One of the models was missing because of me.


I enjoyed most of my memories of the past, but I had been avoiding one of the worst times for our family. My thoughts shifted back to the day I had hidden my brother’s favorite model truck in the kitchen stove.


It was nice to hear that my mother didn’t place blame on me, but her actions over the past year suggested otherwise. We both knew I had hurt a lot of people during my seventeen years, and Josh wasn’t the only brother who had died because of me.


 

 

About the Author

 

Courtnee Turner Hoyle was raised in Unicoi County, surrounded by the traditions and dialect of the area. She embraced the regional stories, mountain views, and culture -except sweet tea and unannounced visits – and sought to correct the misconceptions about the local people and the town stories that turned into rumors.

Despite the challenges that face a young mother, she graduated East Tennessee State University with a Bachelor of Arts in English, with an emphasis in technical writing, and a Bachelor of Business. She received a Master of Arts in Teaching from the same university, and began writing novels. She volunteers with community organizations, and she has been involved with Girl Scouts of the Southern Appalachians for several years as a Troop Administrator. She also volunteers with the Girl Scout Service Unit in her area. Her responsibilities include planning events, organizing social media releases for the service unit, and writing articles about the activities and accomplishments of all the troops in her county.

She resides in Erwin, Tennessee, with her children and husband. She has hiked the section of the Appalachian Trail near her home, has visited many of the caves and other mountain trails in the area, and is fascinated by their enigmatic appeal. She likes reading, writing, and any reasonable music. Most of all, she enjoys sharing adventures with her children and making memories through their experiences.

 

 

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Coming Soon by Jenny Jensen

November 19, 2020 by in category On writing . . . by Jenny Jensen tagged as , , , , , ,

Every writer is subject to the influences of their time, influences that shape their work in some way. From Stephan King’s brand of horror—which he’s said was influenced by the pervasive fears of the cold war — to the oh so mannerly and delicately choreographed plots of Regency era literature, a reader can feel the spirit of the author’s era. I think that’s why I love H. G. Wells and his manly adventurers whose waistcoats and stiff collars are never out of place despite the monsters and hazards that beset them, and they always have time for a full service tea.

Covid is the strongest influence on us at present, changing behavior at a really basic social level, and I am eagerly anticipating how that will be reflected in contemporary fiction. Each genre presents a host of different affects to play with. How will full dress PPE impact the mystery and crime genre? With my mask in place, my sunglasses on my nose and a cap on my head, I am hard to recognize. Add gloves to that, and I don’t have to sweat over fingerprints. And if you’re not short and a touch chubby like me, it would be easy to quickly blend in with the (6 feet apart) crowd and make a smooth getaway. Does anyone want to get near enough to grab a suspect?

Science fiction, viewed through this lens, might use the long-lasting effects of a worldwide pandemic in interesting ways. The population has been decimated, but the disease is at last eradicated. Does the population retain a fear of personal distance? Does it become ritualized? Do they formalize ways of washing their food, like futuristic raccoons? Has public dining or public attendance at an event become distasteful, and if it is replaced, what with? That could be really fun.

Fantasy always gets a lovely reality pass. That’s part of why we love it. Fantasy isn’t required to reflect anything about the real world. But again, every writer is working through the lens of their own reality and all these new behaviors and social concerns are bound to be reflected somehow. Maybe it’s a race of creatures that are forever shunned—The Cooties. You can’t ever get close to them or they will sicken you, but the hero requires the help of those outcasts and so the taboo has to be overcome. It could be that a virus has been locked in a magic cave and as the ultimate weapon, it must be guarded by the heart of a dragon. The influence of this pandemic will be in there somewhere.

Then there’s Romance! I am especially eager to see how this genre deals with our current reality. One of the hallmarks of Romance fiction is its timeliness. We never tire of boy meets girl stories set in the shared here and now. These are tales that reflect our contemporary social and moral norms with the clarity of a mirror image. How will masks and gloves and 6 feet apart influence a love story? How will a chance meeting play out? Is love at first sight possible?

I have complete faith in Romance authors to create inventive and realistic approaches to this current social reality. I haven’t come across any yet. I may not have looked hard enough, but if you know of a romance in the time of Covid, I hope you’ll share it with me. I can’t wait to read it.

Jenny

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