Apr 222017
 

Giacomo Giammatteo

Character Development

When I’m writing blog posts I try to use experience gained from my animals and apply it to writing. Whenever you can use real-life experience, I think it’s better.

While pondering the topic of character development, which I happen to think is one of most important parts of a book, I thought about some of the things I liked and didn’t like. Near the top of that list was uncertainty. I laughed as that came to mind, because I had plenty of examples of uncertainty from the sanctuary animals. This is one of the stories, and like all of the stories, it’s true. I have no need to exaggerate as the stories are crazy enough as is.

Big Dogs Don’t Bluff

How a Character Can Interrupt Your Story

Sometimes characters do things on their own. Things you don’t want them to do.

You shouldn’t be surprised. It happens in real life too. I learned that lesson the hard way, and once again, through one of my animals. This time the culprit was Briella, the giant Great Dane. It was back when I used to play online poker. After a night of writing, and before I had too much wine, I would sit in the chair with my laptop and play a little poker. Often Brie, or one of the other dogs, would hover over my shoulder. Occasionally they would offer advice. That night it was Brie.

During a game of no-limit hold-em, a player bet \(75. The next three people folded, leaving me to act. I was up a few hundred bucks and feeling lucky, so I made a bluff at the pot, raising \)250. The people after me folded. It was now just me and the original bettor. He called.


Brie the Bluffer

The next card came off, and I still had nothing. The other person bet $300. I stalled for a few seconds, as if I had a decision to make, but I fully intended to fold. Briella had a different idea. Before I could hit the fold button, her massive paw slammed on my laptop and raised—almost $900, which was all I had left. As I watched the clock tick down, waiting for the other person to make their decision, my heart pounded. Depending on this person’s decision I was either going to give Brie some extra treats, or, I was going to threaten to kick her ass. I say threaten because she is too big for me to actually do it.

Story Climax

Now, this would have been a wonderful story if the other person folded, but…they didn’t. They called and I, or should I say Brie, was caught bluffing. Of course we lost. After that, I never played poker with Brie sitting behind me; she’s far too unpredictable.

What Does This Have to Do With Writing?

Sometimes a character does what they want, regardless of what you had in mind for them. (I know that’s impossible, but the longer you write the more involved you become in your characters.) You thought you had your plot nailed down, and suddenly—wham—one character or another does something unexpected.
You might ask, How does this happen? It’s easy, and logical. When you write, you create a character based on a specific personality. As the story moves along, that character reacts to situations based on that personality. Sometimes it is not what you anticipated.

The title of this blog was Big Dogs Don’t Bluff. Unfortunately, I discovered they really do.

Ciao,

Giacomo

Tell me what you think

As a reader, or writer, how do you feel about unpredictable characters?
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Author Bio:

Giacomo Giammatteo

Giacomo Giammatteo is the author of gritty crime dramas about murder, mystery, and family. He also writes non-fiction books including the No Mistakes Careers series.

When Giacomo isn’t writing, he’s helping his wife take care of the animals on their sanctuary. At last count they had 45 animals—11 dogs, a horse, 6 cats, and 26 pigs.

Oh, and one crazy—and very large—wild boar, who takes walks with Giacomo every day and happens to also be his best buddy.

Visit Giacomo on his Website 🔗, Twitter 🔗, Facebook 🔗 and Goodreads 🔗 pages!

A Plea For Help


I don’t often ask for help, but this is important. We have run this sanctuary for twenty-four years using our own money—no donations to speak of. The feed bill alone was more than a thousand dollars per month. And there are plenty of other bills, vets, fencing, shelter, medical supplies, and more.
In early 2015, I had two heart attacks followed by two strokes. The result was that it left me disabled. Now it is difficult to continue paying for everything.
I wrote this book in the hopes that it would sell enough to help with the funds, as all sales go to the animals. And I mean that—every penny goes to help support them—nothing for anyone else.

So How About Helping Out?


Skip the cup of coffee you were thinking of, or the pack of smokes, or glass of wine, and pick up a copy of Whiskers and Bear. I’d bet you’ll not only love reading about their exploits, but you’ll feel better about yourself for helping out. Even if you don’t read it—give it to someone who will.
And when you’re finished reading, don’t forget to leave a review.

Check out my review HERE.

And don’t forget to enter the giveaway. Click on WHISKERS & BEAR (in the sidebar) for a chance to win.

I am offering a $20. GC, either Amazon or B&N, whichever the winner prefers. Just a suggestion….if you enter the giveaway, please consider purchasing WHISKERS & BEAR. Thank you.

Giacomo will be back on April 29th….Don’t miss the 5th and final installment for Author Of The Month

Apr 212017
 

I Love You Today

by Marcia Gloster

on Tour April 17 – June 17, 2017

I Love You Today by Marcia Gloster

Book Details
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Published by: The Story Plant
Publication Date: April 18th 2017
Number of Pages: 402
Purchase Links: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, & Goodreads

Synopsis:

Maddie Samuels is a woman of – and ahead of – her time. She knows she doesn’t belong in the kitchen, and she refuses to become trapped in a secretarial pool. In mid-sixties New York City, she’s not only determined to succeed in a man’s world, but to prove her work is as good – or better – than any man’s.

With “free love” redefining relationships with head-spinning rapidity, Maddie learns how to push the accepted boundaries of established old-boy networks while refusing to accept the all-too-pervasive harassment by men in power. And yet as a woman in love, she discovers that beliefs and actions are often very different things – especially when it comes to a man like the seductive and charismatic Rob MacLeod.

Set in the era of Mad Men, I LOVE YOU TODAY is passionate, sexy, liberating and deeply moving. With a story as relevant today as it was then, this is a novel that readers will take to their hearts and their souls.

MY REVIEW

4 stars

This was the first time I read anything by this author but really enjoyed her descriptive writing style.

Maddie, a strong, career oriented woman of the late sixties meets handsome and charming Rob at her new job as an art director. As the synopsis states, it’s the decade of free love, and even though Rob is married with 2 children, an illicit affair begins. One they can’t stop and it doesn’t. (vague to not include spoiler).

The characters are well developed. The story fluid and kept my interest from the very first page to the last word.

I found myself not liking either character. Rob was, when he couldn’t control his drinking, an emotionally abusive, arrogant, lying, entitled man that continued to give idle promises. I rooted for Maddie, however, even though she was a strong and talented career woman, her love for Rob was so overwhelming that she became complaisant with matters of her heart.

I enjoyed the reminders and norms of that time. The fashion, pay phones, smoking cigarettes in offices/restaurants, the Viet Nam War, the Beatles, the landing of the first astronaut on the moon.

I definitely recommend this compelling novel, however, there is some adult language and content that may be distasteful to some. I didn’t find it offensive because I felt it was true to the time frame that the story takes place in.

An intense and powerful read!!!

Reviewers Are Loving I Love You Today!:

“Love, sex, lies, and advertising in the era of Mad Men. Compelling and provocative.” – James Wiatt, former Chairman and CEO, William Morris Agency

“A romp through the Mad Men era, told from a woman’s point of view.” – Pamela Fiori, author and former editor-in-chief, Town & Country

“Marcia Gloster paints an intimate portrait of life in 1960s Manhattan… Readers looking for a peek into the magazine publishing and advertising world of that era will be intrigued!” – Marilyn Brant, New York Times bestselling author

“I Love You Today pulled me right in, from the wrenching love story that could never have a happy ending, to the ultimate strength shown by the main character. An overall compelling journey.” – Andrea Hurst, author of Always with You

Read an excerpt:

Maddie exited the subway and walked a block to the Status offices, arriving just at three. The stark simplicity of the reception area surprised her: a white leather sofa and a glass coffee table stood on a small beige area rug with two matching Barcelona chairs on either side. The only color came from large fashion photos that covered the walls behind the couch and reception desk. She had expected a bit more glitz.

The receptionist was tapping rapidly on her typewriter while talking equally as rapidly on the phone. Seeing Maddie, she looked up with an impatient expression on her heavily made-up face and whispered that she’d call back. Maddie told her she was there to see Mr. MacLeod. After an appraising glance, the receptionist unwrapped a piece of Juicy Fruit, popped it in her mouth and dialed an extension. Maddie straightened her skirt, suddenly wondering if she should have worn something other than a suit.

Have a seat,” the girl said in a bored voice, indicating the couch. “His secretary will be right out.”

Maddie sat, feeling nervousness creep in and her earlier, all-too-fragile confidence beginning to fade. A few minutes later, a short dark-haired young woman in a miniskirt came in and introduced herself as Tara, Mr. MacLeod’s secretary. Maddie followed her along a corridor lined with several windowed offices on the left and a bright open bullpen area on the right where it looked like some assistants worked in different sized cubicles. On the far side she saw two more large, sun filled offices. In one of the doorways two men stopped talking and glanced at her.

Tara stopped at the second to last office, looked in and grinned. “Rob, this is Miss Samuels, your three o’clock appointment.” There seemed to be an inside joke somewhere in there, but Maddie didn’t get it. Not then.

As she walked in he stood up, buttoned his suit jacket and stepped forward to shake her hand. She caught her breath; not only was he attractive, he had bright emerald green eyes and perhaps the longest eyelashes she had ever seen. Wasted on a man, she thought, trying not to stare. Or, perhaps not. His dark brown hair was cut short with long sideburns that framed his handsome face.

She sat down on one of the metal and leather chairs that faced his desk. A large drawing board, covered in layout sheets, rolls of galleys and photo stats was to his right. On the left, flat files were piled high with books of typefaces and stock photos. The office wasn’t designed for so much furniture; there was little room to move around.

He sat back and asked her to tell him about herself. Interviews generally didn’t faze her, but this time she was unusually flustered. She began by mentioning Today’s Bride, saying that she had liked working there.

“Why did you leave? You weren’t fired were you?”

“No. Not at all. It was just becoming uncomfortable. I’m not sure it’s something I should talk about.”

Her answer seemed to intrigue him. A smile lit up his eyes and he leaned forward, elbows on his desk. “Now you have to tell me, Miss Samuels. I promise I won’t tell anyone. Was it some sort of conspiracy?”

“No,” she stammered, wishing she had never brought it up. “Nothing like that. I was very close to Joan, the art director who hired me. She was a great teacher, actually a mentor for me. I was a kid just out of art school. But after two years her husband was offered a job at Publicis, the big ad agency in Paris and they decided to move there. Before she left she tried to have me named as art director. By then I was doing half the work on the magazine anyway. But the publisher told her he had already decided to bring in a well-known art director from a rival publication.” She stopped, unsure how to proceed.

“So what was the problem?”

“Well,” she took a breath, “not only was he hiring her, but his weekly meetings with his so-called ‘investors’ were really long afternoons at the Biltmore, a few blocks away.”

He leaned back in his chair and laughed. “You had to leave because the publisher was screwing…pardon me, sleeping with the new art director?”

She bit her lip, sorry she had mentioned it and realizing she had backed herself into a corner.

“It wasn’t quite so simple. Over the first couple of months she did everything she could to make my life miserable. Suddenly I wasn’t allowed to cover photo shoots and then she didn’t even want me doing layouts. She began quietly bringing in her own team. By the time everyone realized what was going on, there wasn’t anything anyone could do about it. I spoke to the publisher who I knew liked me, but he said it was now up to her. It was out of his hands. So I resigned.” Taking another big breath, she looked at him, hoping she hadn’t said too much.

He shook his head. “Too bad. It sounds like you were happy there.”

“Yes. I was.”

He asked her to tell him more: what her goals were and did she really want a career or just a job until she found the right man to marry.

His questions didn’t surprise her; she had been asked the same things at every interview.

“Mr. MacLeod. I have no desire to be married. I’m focused on my career. I hope to be an art director one day.”

“And how do you plan to become one?”

She looked back at him wide eyed. It was a question she had never been asked. “I guess I’ll just have to keep on working and learning. I’m very motivated, Mr. MacLeod. If something needs to get done, I’ll make sure it happens.”

He nodded, green eyes flashing. “I’ll bet you will. Let me have a look at your portfolio.”

As she stood up, she noticed him glance at her legs. She wondered if her skirt was too short but not wanting to appear self-conscious she stopped herself from smoothing it down. Standing next to him, she answered his questions as he leafed through the pages.

“Miss Samuels, can you leave the portfolio with me? Unless, of course, you have other interviews today.”

“Yes. I mean, no.” She wanted to kick herself. What is wrong with me? “Yes, I can leave it, and no, I don’t have any more interviews today.”

He smiled, amused at her obvious discomfort. “Good. I’d like to show it to the managing editor. I’ve already seen several potential candidates and I expect to make a decision later today.”

She thanked him and he shook her hand, holding it she thought, a bit longer than necessary.

Excerpt from I Love You Today by Marcia Gloster. Copyright © 2017 by Marcia Gloster. Reproduced with permission from The Story Plant. All rights reserved.

Marcia Gloster

Meet Marcia Gloster!

After graduating from Rhode Island School of Design in the 1960s, Marcia Gloster built a career in New York City as an award-winning book designer and art director. A decade later, she founded and ran a boutique ad agency specializing in fashion. Gloster is a member of the National Association of Women Artists and Studio Montclair and exhibits her paintings in the New York area. Her first book, 31 DAYS: A MEMOIR OF SEDUCTION, was published in 2014.

Visit Marcia Gloster on her Website, Twitter, and Facebook pages!

Tour Host Participants:

Visit these tour hosts for great features, interviews, guest posts, reviews, & giveaways of Ms. Gloster’s first novel 31 DAYS: A MEMOIR OF SEDUCTION!


Giveaway

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Providence Book Propotions for Marcia Gloster and The Story Plant. There will be 1 winner of one (1) $25 Amazon.com Gift Card and 5 winners of 1 eBook copy of 31 DAYS: A MEMOIR OF SEDUCTION by Marcia Gloster. The giveaway begins on April 17th and runs through June 19th, 2017. This giveaway is for US residents only. Void where prohibited by law.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Visit Providence Book Promotions for more great reads!

REVIEW DISCLAIMER

This blog was founded on the premise to write honest reviews, to the best of my ability, no matter who from, where from and/or how the book was obtained, and will continue to do so, even if it is through PICT or PBP.
DISCLAIMER

I received a copy of this book, at no charge to me, in exchange for my honest review.
No items that I receive are ever sold…they are kept by me, or given to family and/or friends.
ADDENDUM

I do not have any affiliation with Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble. I am an IndieBound affiliate. I am providing link(s) solely for visitors that may be interested in purchasing this Book/EBook.

Apr 202017
 

Her Secret

by Shelley Shepard Gray

on Tour April 17 – 28, 2017

Synopsis:

Her Secret by Shelley Shepard Gray

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Shelley Shepard Gray begins a new series—The Amish of Hart County—with this suspenseful tale of a young Amish woman who is forced to move to a new town to escape a threatening stalker.

After a stalker went too far, Hannah Hilty and her family had no choice but to leave the bustling Amish community where she grew up. Now she’s getting a fresh start in Hart County, Kentucky…if only she wasn’t too scared to take it. Hannah has become afraid to trust anyone—even Isaac, the friendly Amish man who lives next door. She wonders if she’ll ever return to the trusting, easy-going woman she once was.

For Isaac Troyer, the beautiful girl he teasingly called “The Recluse” confuses him like no other. When he learns of her past, he knows he’s misjudged her. However, he also understands the importance of being grateful for God’s gifts, and wonders if they will ever have anything in common. But as Hannah and Isaac slowly grow closer, they realize that there’s always more to someone than meets the eye.

Just as Hannah is finally settling into her new life, and perhaps finding a new love, more secrets are revealed and tragedy strikes. Now Hannah must decide if she should run again or dare to fight for the future she has found in Hart County.

Book Details:

Genre: Amish Fiction
Published by: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication Date: March 14th 2017
Number of Pages: 272
ISBN: 006246910X (ISBN13: 9780062469106)
Series: The Amish of Hart County #1
Purchase Links: Amazon 🔗 | Barnes & Noble 🔗 | Goodreads 🔗

Read an excerpt:

CHAPTER 2

Someone was coming. After reeling in his line, Isaac Troyer set his pole on the bank next to Spot, his Australian shepherd, and turned in the direction of the noise.

He wasn’t worried about encountering a stranger as much as curious to know who would walk through the woods while managing to disturb every tree branch, twig, and bird in their midst. A silent tracker, this person was not.

Beside him, Spot, named for the spot of black fur ringing his eye, pricked his ears and tilted his head to one side as he, too, listened and watched for their guest to appear.

When they heard a muffled umph, followed by the crack of a branch, Isaac began to grow amused. Their visitor didn’t seem to be faring so well.

He wasn’t surprised. That path was rarely used and notoriously overrun with hollyhocks, poison oak, and ivy. For some reason, wild rosebushes also ran rampant there. Though walking on the old path made for a pretty journey, it also was a somewhat dangerous one, too. Those bushes had a lot of thorns. Most everyone he knew chose to walk on the road instead.

He was just wondering if, perhaps, he should brave the thorns and the possibility of rashes to offer his help—when a woman popped out.

The new girl. Hannah Hilty.

Obviously thinking she was completely alone, she stepped out of the shade of the bushes and lifted her face into the sun. She mumbled to herself as she pulled a black sweater off her light-blue short-sleeved dress. Then she turned her right arm this way and that, frowning at what looked like a sizable scrape on it.

He’d been introduced to her at church the first weekend her family had come. His first impression of her had been that she was a pretty thing, with dark-brown hair and hazel-colored eyes. She was fairly tall and willowy, too, and had been blessed with creamy-looking pale skin. But for all of that, she’d looked incredibly wary.

Thinking she was simply shy, he’d tried to be friendly, everyone in his family had. But instead of looking happy to meet him or his siblings, she’d merely stared at him the way a doe might stare at an oncoming car—with a bit of weariness and a great dose of fear.

He left her alone after that.

Every once in a while he’d see her. At church, or at the market with her mother. She always acted kind of odd. She was mostly silent, sometimes hardly even talking to her parents or siblings. Often, when he’d see her family in town shopping, she usually wasn’t with them. When she was, he’d see her following her parents. With them, yet separate. Silently watching her surroundings like she feared she was about to step off a cliff.

So, by his estimation, she was a strange girl. Weird.

And her actions just now? They seemed even odder. Feeling kind of sorry for her, he got to his feet. “Hey!” he called out.

Obviously startled, Hannah turned to him with a jerk, then froze.

Her unusual hazel eyes appeared dilated. She looked scared to death. Rethinking the step forward he’d been about to do, he stayed where he was. Maybe she wasn’t right in the mind? Maybe she was lost and needed help.

Feeling a little worried about her, he held up a hand. “Hey, Hannah. Are you okay?”

But instead of answering him, or even smiling back like a normal person would, she simply stared.

He tried again. “I’m Isaac Troyer.” When no look of recognition flickered in her eyes, he added, “I’m your neighbor. We met at church, soon after you moved in. Remember?”

She clenched her fists but otherwise seemed to be trying hard to regain some self-control. After another second, color bloomed in her cheeks. “I’m Hannah Hilty.”

“Yeah. I know.” Obviously, he’d known it. Hadn’t she heard him say her name? He smiled at her, hoping she’d see the humor in their conversation. It was awfully intense for two neighbors having to reacquaint themselves.
By his reckoning, anyway.

She still didn’t smile back. Actually, she didn’t do much of anything at all, besides gaze kind of blankly at him.

Belatedly, he started wondering if something had happened to her on her walk. “Hey, are you okay? Are you hurt or something?”

Her hand clenched into a fist. “Why do you ask?”

Everything he wanted to say sounded mean and rude. “You just, uh, seem out of breath.” And she was white as a sheet, looked like she’d just seen a monster, and could hardly speak.

Giving her an out, he said, “Are you lost?”

“Nee.”

He was starting to lose patience with her. All he’d wanted to do was sit on the bank with Spot and fish for an hour or two, not enter into some strange conversation with his neighbor girl.

“Okay, then. Well, I was just fishing, so I’m going to go back and do that.”

Just before he turned away, she took a deep breath. Then she spoke. “I’m sorry. I know I’m not making any sense.”

“You’re making sense.” Kind of. “But that said, you don’t got anything to be sorry for. It’s obvious you, too, were looking for a couple of minutes to be by yourself.”

“No, that ain’t it.” After taking another deep breath, she said, “Seeing you took me by surprise. That’s all.”
Isaac wasn’t enough of a jerk to not be aware that seeing a strange man, when you thought you were alone, might be scary to a timid girl like her.

“You took me by surprise, too. I never see anyone out here.”

Some of the muscles in her face and neck relaxed. After another second, she seemed to come to a decision and stepped closer to him. “Is that your dog?”

“Jah. His name is Spot, on account of the circle around his eye.”

“He looks to be a real fine hund.” She smiled.

And what a smile it was. Sweet, lighting up her eyes. Feeling a bit taken by surprise, too, he said, “He’s an Australian shepherd and real nice. Would you like to meet him?”

“Sure.” She smiled again, this time displaying pretty white teeth.

“Spot, come here, boy.”

With a stretch and a groan, Spot stood up, stretched again, then sauntered over. When he got to Isaac’s side, he paused. Isaac ran a hand along his back, then clicked his tongue, a sign for Spot to simply be a dog.

Spot walked right over and rubbed his nose along one of Hannah’s hands.

She giggled softly. “Hello, Spot. Aren’t you a handsome hund?” After she let Spot sniff her hand, she ran it along his soft fur. Spot, as could be expected, closed his eyes and enjoyed the attention.

“Look at that,” Hannah said. “He likes to be petted.”

“He’s friendly.”

“Do you go fishing here much?” she asked hesitantly.

“Not as much as I’d like to. I’m pretty busy. Usually, I’m helping my father on the farm or working in my uncle’s woodworking shop.” Because she seemed interested, he admitted, “I don’t get to sit around and just enjoy the day all that much.”

“And here I came and ruined your peace and quiet.”

“I didn’t say that. You’re fine.”

She didn’t look as if she believed him. Actually, she looked even more agitated. Taking a step backward, she said, “I should probably let you get back to your fishing, then.”

“I don’t care about that. I’d rather talk to you.”

Her eyes widened. “Oh?”

“Jah. I mean, we’re neighbors and all.” When she still looked doubtful, he said, “Besides, everyone is curious about you.”

“I don’t know why. I’m just an Amish girl.”

He thought she was anything but that. “Come on,” he chided. “You know what I’m talking about.”

Looking even more unsure, she shook her head.

“First off, I’ve hardly even seen you around town, only on Sundays when we have church. And even then you never stray from your parents’ side. That’s kind of odd.”

“I’m still getting used to being here in Kentucky,” she said quickly.

“What is there to get used to?” he joked. “We’re just a small community in the middle of cave country.”

To his surprise, she stepped back. “I guess getting used to my new home is taking me a while. But that doesn’t mean anything.”

Aware that he’d hurt her feelings, he realized that he should have really watched his tone. “Sorry. I didn’t mean to offend you. I was just saying that the way you’ve been acting has everyone curious. That’s why people are calling you ‘The Recluse.’ ”

“ ‘The Recluse’?”

“Well, jah. I mean you truly are an Amish woman of mystery,” he said, hoping she’d tease him right back like his older sister would have done.

She did not.

Actually, she looked like she was about to cry, and it was his doing.

When was he ever going to learn to read people better? Actually, he should knock some sense into himself. He’d been a real jerk. “Sorry. I didn’t intend to sound so callous.”

“Well, you certainly did.”

“Ah, you are right. It was a bad joke.”

“I better go.”

Staring at her more closely, he noticed that those pretty hazel eyes of hers looked kind of shimmery, like a whole mess of tears was about to fall. Now he felt worse than bad.“Hey, are you going to be okay getting home? I could walk you back, if you’d like.”

“Danke, nee.”

Reaching out, he grasped Spot by his collar. “I don’t mind at all. It will give us a chance to—”

She cut him off. “I do not want or need your help.” She was staring at him like he was scary. Like he was the type of guy who would do her harm.

That bothered him.

“Look, I already apologized. You don’t need to look at me like I’m going to attack you or something. I’m just trying to be a good neighbor.”

She flinched before visibly collecting herself. “I understand. But like I said, I don’t want your help. I will be fine.”

When he noticed that Spot was also sensing her distress, he tried again even though he knew he should just let her go. “I was done fishing anyway. All I have to do is grab my pole. Then Spot and I could walk with you.”

“What else do I have to say for you to listen to me?” she fairly cried out. “Isaac, I do not want you to walk me anywhere.” She turned and darted away, sliding back into the brush. No doubt about to get covered in more scratches and poison ivy.

Well, she’d finally said his name, and it certainly did sound sweet on her lips.

Too bad she was now certain to avoid him for the rest of her life. He really hoped his mother was never going to hear about how awful he’d just been. She’d be so disappointed.

He was disappointed in himself, and was usually a lot more patient with people. He liked that about himself, too. And this girl? Well, she needed someone, too. But she seemed even afraid of her shadow.

Excerpt from Her Secret by Shelley Shepard Gray. Copyright © 2017 by Shelley Shepard Gray. Reproduced with permission from HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.

Shelley Shepard Gray

Author Bio:

Shelley Shepard Gray is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, a finalist for the American Christian Fiction Writers prestigious Carol Award, and a two-time HOLT Medallion winner. She lives in southern Ohio, where she writes full-time, bakes too much, and can often be found walking her dachshunds on her town’s bike trail.

Q&A with Shelley Shepard Gray

Welcome!

Writing and Reading:
Do you draw from personal experiences and/or current events?
I rarely write anything that I’ve had personal experience with, beyond being able to identify with the emotions the characters might be feeling. For my Amish novels especially, I incorporate the setting and the area into the plot. For example, Hart County, KY is riddled with abandoned caves and lots of isolated, hilly farmland. It seemed a perfect place to stage a series.

Do you start with the conclusion and plot in reverse or start from the beginning and see where the story line brings you?
As much as I yearn to be an organized plotter, I’m definitely a writer who starts a book with only the bare minimum in mind. It makes for a frustrating process, but it’s also a lot of fun for me.

Are any of your characters based on you or people that you know?
No. I always make up my characters. I almost always write about people who I would want to know, however. It’s rare for me to develop a particularly awful character. Usually even my antagonists have a lot of redeeming qualities.

Your routine when writing? Any idiosyncrasies?
I try my best to write ten pages a day Monday through Friday. I write another five on Saturday or Sunday. Yep, I definitely have an idiosyncrasy! I write down the ten page numbers I hope to get to each day and cross them off as they’re accomplished. I literally have a dozen notebooks filled with numbers and X’s. On a positive note, it’s very helpful for my family to see how my day is going. If I only have 2 Xs at four o’clock, they know it’s going to be a long night.

Tell us why we should read this book.
I love to write books about the Amish that are unexpected. HER SECRET is a mixture of mystery, suspense, and romance. It’s all interwoven with a thread of inspiration and features well-researched Amish characters. Nothing makes me happier than hearing that the book surpassed a reader’s expectations.

Who are some of your favorite authors?
I really love to read and I read a lot. I love to read fiction. My favorite mystery author is Anne Perry. I’m also a fan of Anne Cleeland. I’ve also been a longtime fan of Linda Howard, Lorraine Heath, and Karen Kingsbury. Boy, I could probably name another 20 authors. If I find an author who makes me care about the characters, I’m happy.

What are you reading now?
I just judged the RITAs, so I’ve been reading a slew of romances from all different genres. I’m also reading Sisters of Sugarcreek by Cathy Liggett.

Are you working on your next novel? Can you tell us a little about it?
I always write more than one book at a time. I’m currently writing HIS RISK, which is the fourth book in the Hart County Series. I’m also working on a contemporary single title romance for a brand new series. The next novel in the Hart County series is called HIS GUILT. It releases in July and features an Amish man who returns to Hart County with a dark past. I’m excited about it!

Fun questions:
Your novel will be a movie.
Oh, I’m never good at naming actors! I think Chris Pratt would be a terrific Isaac and a young Anne Hathaway for Hannah.

Favorite leisure activity/hobby?
We are dog people, so I love taking our dachshunds out for a long walk. I also love to bake.

Favorite meal?
I grew up in Texas, so my favorite dinner is always steak and a baked potato. Beyond that, I’m always up for a really good slice of coconut cream pie.

Thank you for stopping by CMash Reads and spending time with us.

Thank you for inviting me, Cheryl! This was a lot of fun!

Catch Up With Ms. Gray On:
Website 🔗, Goodreads 🔗, Twitter 🔗, & Facebook 🔗!

Tour Participants:



Giveaway:

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Wendy Corsi Staub and William Morrow. There will be 2 winners of one $25 Amazon.com Gift Card. The giveaway begins on April 15th and runs through May 2nd, 2017. This giveaway is for US residents only. Void where prohibited by law.

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Apr 192017
 

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LUCY’S LIBRARY


JUMBO STICKERS FOR LITTLE HANDS

by Jomike Tejido

5 Stars

SYNOPSIS

UNDER THE SEA
Large vinyl, reusable stickers of sharks, fish, divers, and more.

Jumbo Stickers for Little Hands: Under the Sea has 75 large (2 inches or larger) vinyl reusable stickers and 24 pages of colorful and joyful illustrations of scenery sure to inspire play and storytelling. There are no rules or set places for stickers to go, so your child’s imagination has free reign. Jumbo stickers are perfect for learning fine motor skills, and even the youngest children who haven’t yet achieved full manual dexterity can have loads of fun.

THINGS THAT GO
Large vinyl, reusable stickers of cars, trucks, spaceships, heavy lifters, and more.

The colorful and joyful illustrations in Jumbo Stickers for Little Hands: Things That Go are sure to inspire imaginative play and storytelling. With 75 large (2 inches or larger) vinyl reusable stickers and 24 pages of roads, construction sites, and more, there are no rules or set places for stickers to go. Jumbo stickers are perfect for learning fine motor skills, and even the youngest children who haven’t yet achieved full manual dexterity can have loads of fun.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

JOMIKE TEJIDO is an architect, painter, author and illustrator based in Antipolo. He has illustrated over 40 children’s books, some of which he also authored, including the award-winning Tagu-taguan (Best Reads 2010), Ang Pambihirang Sombrero, Anvil Nature Series and Foldabots Toy Books, a series of cardboard robots kids can make. As a painter, Jomike has held six solo exhibitions of banig or mat paintings in the Philippines, Singapore, and in Tokyo for his award in the Noma Concours in 2006. He is a member of the Society of Children’s Books Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). Dabbling into applied arts, Jomike created the designer toy series, Robotars: robot tarsiers. Jomike’s latest creation is the Wood Menagerie, a series of animal wood sculptures with paintings rendered with his favorite cubist and deStijl influences.

MY THOUGHTS

These books remind me of Color Forms when I was a child.

A delightful activity book of 75 reusable stickers and colorful illustrations for a child to create their own stories. A book that would definitely entertain children for hours either by themselves or with family members and friends. A book that can spark the imagination of a child.

Can’t wait to share this with my granddaughter!!

Purchase Links:

UNDER THE SEA

THINGS THAT GO

DISCLAIMER

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from The Quarto Group. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

ADDENDUM

I do not have any affiliation with Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble. I am providing link(s) solely for visitors that may be interested in purchasing this Book/EBook.

Apr 182017
 

Pitch Black

by Alex Gray

on Tour: March 20 – April 20, 2017

Synopsis:

Pitch Black by Alex Gray

DCI Lorimer is back in the next gripping atmospheric police procedural by international bestselling author Alex Gray.

When Chief Inspector Lorimer returns from holiday on the island of Mull, he feels a welcome sense of calm. But that doesn’t last long. Kelvin Football Club’s new star midfielder is found brutally stabbed to death in his own home, and with his wife apprehended trying to leave the country, a seemingly straightforward new case begins. But the grisly murder of a referee after a Kelvin match throws light on some dark secrets. And when the newest player who signed to the club becomes the latest victim in a string of killings, Lorimer knows there’s a serial killer on the loose—one that’s only beginning to show his true colors. As lies emerge and tensions build, Lorimer must discover the truth before one of the players or managers become the next Kelvin fatality.

MY REVIEW

5 stars

I recently read THE RIVERMAN by Alex Gray and loved it giving it a 5 star review. So when I had the opportunity to read the next book in this series, I jumped at it. However, I was a bit leery, as I always am when I read a 2nd book by the same author, will it be as good or better? The answer….YES…bring on the next book!!!

Even though this is the 5th book in the series, it reads easily as a stand alone.

DCI Bill Lorimer is back and this time is investigating the murders of Kelvin Football (soccer) Organization. Two players and a referee are killed and another player is missing. And a journalist investigating the case has been shot in broad daylight. Who is the Kelvin Killer?

Alex Gray has a very descriptive writing style, which allows the reader to vividly create images, and in this book, even dialect.

Once again, the suspense had me turning the pages trying to guess who the suspect was. And once again, the ending was surprising.

Another great read by AlexGray!!! Highly recommend!

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery & Detective
Published by: Witness Impulse
Publication Date: March 7, 2017
Number of Pages: 368
ISBN: 9780062659149
Series: A DCI Lorimer Novel
Purchase Links: Amazon 🔗 | Barnes & Noble 🔗 | Goodreads 🔗

Read an excerpt:

Chapter 3

The dust motes swirled round, captured in the one beam of light that filtered through a gap in the blinds. Behind him an insect buzzed drowsily against the window, seeking to escape from the confines of the room. Listening to its feeble struggles, Lorimer felt some empathy for the tiny creature. At that moment he would have given a great deal to walk out into the warm air of the city streets. Before him on the videoscreen were pictures of the deceased, not happy snaps at all. The scene-of-crime photographer had managed to convey each and every aspect of the man’s death, from the bread knife sticking out of his chest cavity to the open-mouthed grimace portraying that final scream of agony. Close-ups of blood spatters surrounded the main pictures, adding graphically to the image.

‘It was hot,’ Mitchison commented, somewhat unnecessarily, releasing the stills and letting the film pan in on the body. The black patches around the wound showed a moving mass of flies. Lorimer could almost smell the scent of corruption and was glad for once that he had not been first on the scene. But now Mitchison’s peremptory call had stolen the final day of Lorimer’s break and he had to be brought up to speed if he were to take charge of this case.

‘We’ve got the woman in custody and she’ll appear in court in the morning,’ the superintendent began, ‘but there are some problems.’

Lorimer raised his eyebrows.

‘She says she didn’t do it, of course, despite the fact she drove all the way up to the Hebrides…’ Mitchison’s drawl tailed off.

‘So, the problems are . . . ?’

‘We need to have some forensic evidence to connect her to the crime. There’s been nothing on her person and we couldn’t find anything else in the house. Either she was extremely forensically aware and managed to remove any traces of blood from the scene, or she’s telling us the truth.’

Lorimer, fixing his gaze on the images of a man who had bled to death, wondered what had provoked the attack. ‘What’s your own opinion, sir?’

Mitchison frowned. ‘She certainly had the means to do it. There was a huge rack of knives on one of those magnetic strips. It was one of these that was the murder weapon. No prints, I’m afraid. No residual traces, either. And the door was locked. There was no sign of a forced entry.’

‘Just circumstantial evidence, then?’

Mitchison nodded and screwed up his eyes in the half-light, then blinked. He’d probably been working through the night, Lorimer realised.

Method, means and opportunity, a familiar voice intoned in Lorimer’s head. It had been old George’s mantra. A wave of nostalgia for his former boss washed over him just then. Weary or not, George would never have delegated a case like this. He’d have ferreted away at it, looking for something more than the obvious. Though a runaway wife was a fairly obvious place to begin, Lorimer had to admit to himself. The method was straightforward enough and, despite his level of athleticism, the victim might have been taken by complete surprise. His expression alone was testament to that theory. She’d had the means easily to hand. And the opportunity? Who could say? Knife attacks were usually random affairs undertaken in a moment of frenzy.

‘What d’you reckon, then? A domestic gone wrong?’

The super made a face. ‘Janis Faulkner’s saying nothing. No plea for mitigating circumstances. Just a persistent refusal to admit she’d had anything to do with her husband’s death.’

‘Anything else suspicious?’

Mitchison paused for a moment then looked past Lorimer. ‘What would I call it? A strange absence of grief, I suppose.’

Lorimer gave a non-committal shrug. You couldn’t charge the woman for failing to mourn her dead husband, but still . . . His thoughts wandered for a moment to the sight of Janis Faulkner’s face as she’d glanced up at him on Fishnish pier. Had she been showing remorse? That haunted look had stayed with him since he’d seen her yesterday.

‘What do we know about her own movements before she scarpered?’

‘Says she was down at the gym. We’ve checked and her signing in and out times tally with her story. But as for simply setting off afterwards and not returning home first, well that was fairly unlikely, don’t you think? A few rounds on an exercise bike then she suddenly decides to leave her husband. It doesn’t make sense.’

‘So she’ll be charged?’

‘Yes, first thing tomorrow. There’s not another shred of evidence to show anyone else was in the house. I don’t care what Janis Faulkner claims; she did it, all right.’

Lorimer looked at his boss. The vehemence in Mitchison’s tone surprised him. Or was it simply that he was afraid Lorimer would see things in a different light, take away his prime suspect and cause problems? There was a past between these two senior officers that had never been adequately resolved. Mitchison had been promoted to superintendent when everyone’s expectations had been on Lorimer stepping into his old boss’s shoes, but it was their different attitudes to police work that had been the real cause of friction between them. Mitchison did everything by the rule book, creating masses of paperwork for everyone, while his DCI preferred a more handson approach. Lorimer remained silent. He was being officially designated as SIO and unless something new emerged, Janis Faulkner’s guilt or otherwise remained a matter for the jury.

‘Her solicitor is bound to ask for bail to be granted, pending a full investigation. We’ll see what happens in court tomorrow, but I have my doubts.’ Mitchison passed over the case file. ‘Don’t expect you’ll have too much bother with this one.’

Famous last words, Lorimer told himself as Mitchison left the room. Whether it was that quirk of fate placing him at the scene of her arrest on Mull or the victim’s high profile, the DCI had a strong feeling that this case was going to be anything but straightforward.

The woman had been brought back from Mull and placed in the police cells for one more night until she could be brought to court and officially charged with Nicko Faulkner’s murder. Lorimer waited outside as the duty officer unlocked the cell and stood aside. The first thing he noticed was the smell. It wafted towards him, a mixture of stale sweat and something more pungent that he recognised as menstrual blood. He’d smelt it before from women banged up over long weekends without any facilities to shower or change their clothes. Janis Faulkner was sitting in a corner of the bunk, feet together, head down and clutching her stomach. A movement as the cell door was opening made him realise she had looked up for a split second but now her expression was hidden under that curtain of damp hair.

‘Anyone thought to give her some paracetamol?’ he asked the uniformed officer.

‘Hasn’t asked for it,’ the man shrugged. ‘What’s she want it for anyway?’

‘Just go and get some,’ Lorimer told him, ‘and a drink of cold water.’ He let the man close the cell door behind them and stood waiting for the woman to look his way.

‘Feeling bad?’ he asked, as if she were an old acquaintance and not a stranger who was also his prisoner. He heard the sigh first, then Janis raised her head and looked at him. There was a brightness in her eyes that spoke of unshed tears. Her little nod and a flicker of recognition were all Lorimer needed to know he’d begun to win her confidence.

The door clanged open and the uniform strode in, proffering a tumbler of water and a strip of foil containing two painkillers. Both men watched as she unwrapped them, her fingers shaking as she clutched the glass and tilted back her head, then swallowed.

‘Thanks,’ she said, her voice hoarse. But it was to Lorimer that she spoke, to Lorimer that she handed back the empty tumbler.

‘You’ll have been told that we have to keep you here till tomorrow?’ he asked quietly, a hint of apology in his voice. She nodded again, but her head had drooped once more and Lorimer sensed she was withdrawing into herself, just as Mitchison had described. ‘You can talk to me if you want to,’ he told her. There was no response at all this time and as the minutes ticked past he realised that there was little point in trying any longer.

As he turned to leave, the silence inside that cell was redolent of misery.

Excerpt from Pitch Black by Alex Gray. Copyright © 2017 by Alex Gray. Reproduced with permission from WitnessImpulse. All rights reserved.

Author Bio:

Alex Gray

Alex Gray was born and educated in Glasgow. After studying English and Philosophy at the University of Strathclyde, she worked as a visiting officer for the Department of Health, a time she looks upon as postgraduate education since it proved a rich source of character studies. She then trained as a secondary school teacher of English.

Alex began writing professionally in 1993 and had immediate success with short stories, articles, and commissions for BBC radio programs. She has been awarded the Scottish Association of Writers’ Constable and Pitlochry trophies for her crime writing.

A regular on the Scottish bestseller lists, she is the author of thirteen DCI Lorimer novels. She is the co-founder of the international Scottish crime writing festival, Bloody Scotland, which had its inaugural year in 2012.

Q&A with Alex Gray

Welcome!

Writing and Reading:
Do you draw from personal experiences and/or current events?
I draw from both personal experience and current events. I think all writers use their own experience of life to a greater or lesser extent.

Do you start with the conclusion and plot in reverse or start from the beginning and see where the story line brings you?
I start from the beginning and see where it takes me.

Are any of your characters based on you or people that you know?
Most of my characters are imaginary but Maggie Lorimer is rather like my best friend and she also has some of my own personality. George parsonage, the Riverman of the same title, is however, a real person.

Your routine when writing? Any idiosyncrasies?
I begin early in the morning and sometimes get up during the night to make notes if an idea strikes me. No real idiosyncracies except sometimes don’t get dressed for hours! The neighbours are used to seeing me in my PJs and dressing gown!

Tell us why we should read this book.
Read this book as it is a real page turner and (I am told) well written. I refuse to write rubbish and edit like crazy just to get the right word or phrase. My own standards are pretty high.

Who are some of your favorite authors?
I love loads of writers but current favourites include Louise Penny and Christopher Brookmyre.

What are you reading now?
Right now I am reading “The Dark Side of the Moon” by Scottish debut author, Les Wood. It is utterly hilarious.

Are you working on your next novel? Can you tell us a little about it?
I am working on book 15 in the Lorimer series and am about three quarters way through. It is set in Glasgow and involves people trafficking and a disputed murder.

Fun questions:
Your novel will be a movie. Who would you cast?
My novel a movie? Hm, Is Gerard Butler available to play Lorimer? He is a local boy, you know, and came from Paisley, near to where I live.

Favorite leisure activity/hobby?
Favourite leisure? Reading of course but also gardening and cooking. I enjoy watching crime dramas on TV during the winter months and birding all year round.

Favorite meal?
Favourite meal? Lobster with a nice glass of (very) chilled Chablis.

Thank you for stopping by CMash Reads and spending time with us.

Connect with Alex Gray on her Website 🔗 & on Twitter 🔗.

Tour Participants:



Check Out This Awesome Giveaway:

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Alex Gray and Harper Collins. There will be 2 winners of one (1) eBook copy of Pitch Black by Alex Gray. The giveaway begins on March 20th and runs through April 21st 2017.

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Get More Great Reads at Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours

REVIEW DISCLAIMER

This blog was founded on the premise to write honest reviews, to the best of my ability, no matter who from, where from and/or how the book was obtained, and will continue to do so, even if it is through PICT or PBP.
DISCLAIMER

I received a copy of this book, at no charge to me, in exchange for my honest review.
No items that I receive are ever sold…they are kept by me, or given to family and/or friends.
ADDENDUM

I do not have any affiliation with Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble. I am an IndieBound affiliate. I am providing link(s) solely for visitors that may be interested in purchasing this Book/EBook.