May 112017
 

Code Blood

by Kurt Kamm

on Tour April 1 – May 31, 2017

Synopsis:

Code Blood by Kurt Kamm

Colt Lewis, a rookie fire paramedic, is obsessed with finding the severed foot of his first victim after she dies in his arms. His search takes him into the connected lives of a graduate research student, with the rarest blood in the world and the vampire fetishist who is stalking her. Within the corridors of high-stakes medical research laboratories, the shadow world of body parts dealers, and the underground Goth clubs of Los Angeles, Lewis uncovers a tangled maze of needles, drugs and maniacal ritual, all of which lead to death. But whose death? An unusual and fast-paced LA Noir thriller.

Stop by tomorrow to read my review

Book Details:

Genre: Suspense, Vampire
Published by: MCM Publishing
Publication Date: October 2012
Number of Pages: 233
ISBN: 0979855136 (ISBN13: 9780979855139)
Series: Code Blood is a Stand Alone Novel
Purchase Links: Amazon 🔗 | Barnes & Noble 🔗 | Goodreads 🔗

Code Blood Literary Awards:

  • Writer’s Type – First Chapter Competition. January 2011- First Place
  • 2012 International Book Awards – Fiction: Cross Genre Category – First Place
  • National Indie Excellence Book Awards – Faction (fiction based on fact) – Winner of the 2012 Award
  • The 2012 USA Best Book Awards – Fiction: Horror – Winner
  • LuckyCinda Publishing Contest 2013 First Place – Thriller
  • Reader’s Favorite 2013– Finalist – Horror Fiction
  • Knoxville Writer’s Guild – 2011 Novella or Novel Excerpt – 2nd Place

Read an excerpt:

Colt heard a small chopper. It sounded like a lawnmower. He knew it couldn’t be the AirSquad and looked up. A news helicopter circled overhead. He saw another coming up the coast from Los Angeles. In minutes, news crews in vans would arrive, extend their satellite transmission poles, broadcast pictures of the accident and fan out to find people to interview. In the process, several spectators would have a moment of fame on Los Angeles network television. The accident would be a good lead-in on the 11:00 p.m. Sunday night news, but the anchors would be disappointed that a Malibu celebrity wasn’t involved.

Moose joined them with the backboard and laid it down next to the girl’s body.

Brian checked the C-spine. “Ready guys? On my count.”

The men prepared to roll the girl on her side.

“Be careful,” Colt said.

Brian gave Colt a quick look and said, “One, two, three.”

In unison, they rolled her onto her side, Moose pushed the board in toward her and the men laid her back onto it.

Colt thought he heard her utter a faint moan. While Brian secured the head brace and straps across her body and prepared her for transport across the beach, he looked at her bloodied leg again. “Where’s the foot?” he shouted. “Does someone have her foot?” She still wore one delicate leather sandal.

“We can’t find the sucker,” one of the deputies told Colt.

“Can’t find it? How’s that possible?” Colt said. The girl needed her foot. They had to ice it down before the tissue started to die. It might be reattached. “It has to be here somewhere.” He went over to the damaged pickup.

The driver of the truck sat with his head down, behind the metal screen in the back seat of a black and white. A sheriff’s deputy stood outside, questioning him through the window and writing on his notepad. Colt interrupted. “Where’s the foot?” He was met with a shrug and a blank stare from the deputy. Colt looked at the driver of the pickup, a man about his own age, and hated him.

Colt walked around the pickup. Glass shards from a headlight and pieces of plastic lay on the ground. He knelt in a pool of green coolant dripping from the smashed radiator and looked under the front of the truck. The foot wasn’t there. He stood up and looked around.

Thirty or forty people stood in the parking lot watching the activity.

Excerpt from Code Blood by Kurt Kamm. Copyright © 2012 by Kurt Kamm. Reproduced with permission from Kurt Kamm. All rights reserved.

Author Bio:

Kurt KammMalibu, California resident Kurt Kamm has written a series of firefighter mystery novels which have won several literary awards. He is also the author of The Lizard’s Tale, which provides a unique look inside the activities of the Mexican drug cartels and the men dedicated to stopping them.

Kurt has used his contacts with several California fire departments, as well as with the ATF and DEA to write fact-based (“faction”) novels.

In his chilling and suspenseful multi-award winning novel, Code Blood, Kurt takes the reader into the connected lives of a fire paramedic, a Chinese research student with the rarest blood type in the world, and the blood-obsessed killer who stalks her.

Colt Lewis, a young Los Angeles County fire paramedic responds to a fatal accident. The victim dies in his arms. Her foot has been severed but is nowhere to be found. Who is the woman, and what happened to her foot? During a weeklong search, Colt risks his career to find the victim’s identity and her missing foot. His search leads him to a dark and disturbing side of Los Angeles…an underworld of body part dealers and underground Goth clubs. He uncovers a tangled maze of drugs, needles, and rituals.

Emergency medicine, high-tech medical research, and the unsettling world of blood fetishism and body parts make for an edgy L.A. Noir thriller.

Kurt has built an avid fan base among first responders and other readers. A graduate of Brown University and Columbia Law School, Kurt was previously a financial executive and semi-professional bicycle racer. He was also Chairman of the UCLA/Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center Foundation for several years.

Q&A with Kurt Kamm

Welcome!

Writing and Reading:
Do you draw from personal experiences?
My first writing instructor said, “write what you know.” I have found that you can ”know” a lot more by doing research. Today on the Internet, you can research anything, and see pictures of everything. In Code Blood, I have a scene at a funeral home. It would be easy to imagine one, but I searched for pictures until I found a unique looking place, a large house, which was much better than I could have ever imagined. Similarly, I have a scene at night on the Santa Monica Pier, and standing there at 10:00 P.M. after the shops closed, I saw and saw some pretty strange things. Also, joining chat rooms on various topics is very instructive. For Code Blood, I visited several very weird discussions where people were obsessing about vampires, discussing blood types, tattoos, and some things I would never have imagined. Personal experience can take you only so far, research and the Internet can take you anywhere.

When I finished Code Blood I had to laugh at some of the characters I had created, personalities who were not in my knowledge base when I began.

Do you start with the conclusion and plot in reverse or start from the beginning and see where the story line brings you?
I have heard that some mystery authors outline every chapter, some even every paragraph, before they begin their novels. I’ve never even been able to list my chapters when I start a novel. I begin with an idea and a couple of vague characters and just start writing. There are adjustments, and some deleting and pasting along the way, but my characters lead me. They live their own lives and tell me what to write.

In the case of Code Blood, a paramedic at a fire station near my house on Pacific Coast Highway told me a true story about responding to an accident where the victim’s foot had been severed. It took him almost 30 minutes to find it, lodged beneath a pickup truck which was involved in the accident. That started me thinking….what if some weirdo walked out of a nearby restaurant, saw the foot and picked it up? What if it was the paramedic’s first accident and he became obsessed with finding the foot. Voila, a plot.

Are any of your characters based on you or people that you know?
I think all my characters have personality traits or quirks which I have seen in my lifetime, but no character is specifically based on a single person I have known. Again, in Code Blood, I would be embarrassed to admit I know some of the characters.

Your routine when writing? Any idiosyncrasies?
I try to write 2-3 hours most days. I write in the afternoon, and need complete silence. From my kitchen window, I can look out on the Pacific Ocean. Years ago, I was a competitive cyclist, and still do very hard, 3 hour rides every other day. During those rides, my mind can just drift. I often solve plot problems, and advance the story while I am riding. It’s a very creative time, the challenge is to remember what I have thought about by the time I get home, exhausted. Also I keep paper and pen by my bed, because sometimes in the middle of the night I will wake up with an idea which will be gone in the morning if I don’t write it down.

Tell us why we should read this book.
I think it is a fun read, filled with interesting characters. Markus, a strange kid who thinks he’s a vampire, will be someone you will love to hate. Colt, the dedicated paramedic is someone you will love. The Russian body parts dealers? Well, let’s just say I had a ball imagining them. You will also get a good look at emergency medicine, high tech medical research, rare blood types, and the underside of Los Angeles.

Who are some of your favorite authors?/What are you reading now?
I have read everything by Hemingway and F Scott. I like Ewan McGregor, James Salter and Stuart O’Nan. Recent books, which I really liked include: The North Water, The Lost City of the Monkey God, Night of Fire, and The Devils of Cardona.

Are you working on your next novel? Can you tell us a little about it?
After 6 novels in 10 years, I’m taking a break.

Your favorite leisure activity/hobby?
I am an exercise freak. Riding my bike and weight workouts are a must. I also (surprise) read a lot.

Favorite meal?
I’m glad you asked. Markus’ favorite meal would simply be a tiny vial of dark red Bombay Blood, the rarest blood type in the world. He empty a few drops at a time onto his tongue, letting it rest there while he imagined all the incredible things it would do inside his body. (Poor Markus, what a fool.) As he swallowed, he would think of how valuable Bombay Blood is, and how much money he could get if he sold it.

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

Visit his author website at kurtkamm.com 🔗 & on Facebook!

Tour Participants:

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Giveaway:

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Kurt Kamm. There will be 1 winner of one (1) $20 Amazon.com Gift Card. The giveaway begins on March 30 and runs through May 1, 2017.

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May 102017
 

Crossing the Street

by Molly D. Campbell

on Tour May 9 – July 7, 2017

Crossing the Street by Molly D. Campbell

Book Details

Genre: Women’s Fiction
Published by: The Story Plant
Publication Date: May 9, 2017
Number of Pages: 290

Purchase Crossing the Street on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Goodreads

Synopsis:

This wasn’t the way Beck Throckmorton had planned it. She wasn’t expecting to find herself in her thirties writing erotica and making flat whites for a living while she stewed over that fact that her ex had wound up with her sister. She never saw herself living in a small suburban Ohio town with an octogenarian neighbor best friend. And she definitely wouldn’t have imagined the eight-year-old great-granddaughter of that friend turning her world upside down.

As summer comes around, Beck’s life is unsettled in every way. And that’s before the crazy stuff starts: the sister taunting her with her pregnancy, the infuriatingly perfect boyfriend, the multiple trips to the emergency room. The needy, wise-beyond-her-years little girl finding places in her heart that Beck didn’t even know existed.

Beck has found herself at an emotional intersection she never anticipated. And now it’s time to cross the street.

CROSSING THE STREET is a funny, touching novel that brims life’s complexities. Filled with characters both distinctive and welcomingly familiar, it is a story that will entertain and enlighten.

MY REVIEW

5 stars

Rebecca Throckmorton, aka Becca, leads a pretty simple life as a FT erotica author and PT barista. Never wanting children, and a bit of baggage with her father abandoning the family at an early age and her sister marrying her ex-boyfriend, she is content with just her friends including her elderly friend across the street.

Her elderly neighbor’s great granddaughter, a precocious 8 year old, moves in and to Becca’s surprise, not only befriends Bob, aka Roberta, but helps in the care of both the grandmother and the granddaughter. Becca’s life is about to change.

I loved this book! Nothing is better than an author’s descriptive writing that can transport the reader into the story, and this author did just that. Tears, laughter, compassion, anger, are just some of what this reader felt.

A poignant and compelling read. I am hoping, and even hinting to the author, that I hope there is a sequel coming!!!!!!

Read an excerpt:

My life isn’t exactly bright and shiny. My name is Rebecca Throckmorton. I live in a small town, and I muddle along as best I can. Four scenes from my world:

Scene one: I am at the grocery store. Aimlessly wandering down the produce aisle, looking at the grocery list, as usual, in my mother’s elegant hand. What the hell is a rutabaga, and why do we need one? Suddenly, I see my father, who is long gone from our family—divorce. He is wearing a gold golf shirt, his khaki slacks, crisp and unwrinkled. His hair from the back is a bit silvery, as I am sure it would be after being away from our family for all these years. My heart lurches—He’s back! He came back! I abandon my cart and nearly bowl over a woman studying kiwis, knocking the one in her hand to the ground. I don’t even stop to apologize, because my dad. I come up behind him, breathe in his cologne—yup, Eau de Sauvage. I reach out to touch his shoulder, and he turns around. I gasp. The man is definitely not Dexter Throckmorton. Instead of a Roman nose, this guy has a schnozz. There is awful hair growing out of his nostrils. His eyes are not velvety and black, like my father’s—they are a watery gray and clouded with cataracts. He hears me gasp and asks, “Do I know you?” I abandon the rutabaga and rush out of the store, grocery list still crushed between my fingers.

Scene two: My sister’s wedding. I am wearing a sleeveless, misty green satin dress with two small lines of silver sequins along the bodice. The misty green is reflected in my coloring and makes me look slightly vomitous. I feel about to vomit, since my sister Diana is marrying my former boyfriend, Bryan Dallas, who stands at the end of the aisle, beaming, his horn rims polished so highly I worry that he might start a fire with their refractions into the balcony. As D comes down the aisle on my mother’s arm (see divorce, above), my mother looking for all the world like an aging Audrey Hepburn in a slender tube of taupe silk, I look down at my bouquet and stifle the impulse to hurl it in my sister’s smug, highly-made-up-with-false-eyelashes-and-dewy-lip-gloss face.

Scene three: Me and my girlfriend, Ella Bowers. I sit with her in front of the TV. We like to watch really old reruns of Lawrence Welk that I found for her on the Family Network. Ella pats down her soft, fluffy lavender white hair, and every time Myron Floren comes on comments how much her mother “just loved that man and his accordion.” I nod and agree, because I don’t intend to hurt her feelings—Ella is eighty-three, and I don’t want her to get riled up and have a stroke. I notice my cut glass tumbler of iced tea is empty, and I offer to go into the kitchen of her cozy bungalow and get us each some more.

Scene four: My day job and what really pays the bills. I get home from my part-time job at Starbucks at four. I stretch, try to do the downward facing dog, and fail, as usual, about three quarters of the way down. My cat, Simpson, ambles over for a purr, and then I go and pee, change into sweats, and sit down at my computer, where I pound out a scene in which four orgasms occur within the space of twenty minutes between Travis and Crystal, who are extremely talented genitally. My latest book, Boys on the Beach, is under contract and due at my publisher in two months. When I think about this, sweat pools into the cups of my bra, because I am behind schedule, and erotica pays the bills, not venti lattes.

There you have it.

Author Bio:

Molly D. Campbell

Molly D. Campbell is a two-time Erma Bombeck Writing Award winner and the author of one previous novel, Keep the Ends Loose. Molly blogs at http://mollydcampbell.com. Also an artist, Molly’s work can be found at http://www.cafepress.com/notexactlypicasso;. Molly lives in Dayton with her accordionist husband and four cats.

Catch Up With Molly: Website | Twitter | Facebook

Tour Host Participants:



Here’s Your Chance to WIN!

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Providence Book Promotions for Molly D. Campbell and The Story Plant. There will be 1 winner of 1 Amazon.com Gift Card AND 3 winners of 1 eBook copy of KEEP THE ENDS LOOSE by Molly D. Campbell. The giveaway begins on May 1st and runs through July 8th, 2017. This giveaway is for US residents only. Void where prohibited by law.

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May 082017
 

Glasgow Kiss

by Alex Gray

on Tour May 15-31, 2017

Synopsis:

Glasgow Kiss by Alex Gray

Eric Chalmers is one of the most popular teachers at Muirpark Secondary School in Glasgow. Gentle and kind, he is the one adult students trust as a confidant. So when precocious teenager Julie Donaldson accuses Chalmers of rape, the school goes into shock. How could a deeply religious family man like Chalmers do such a thing? With some students and teachers supporting Julie, and others standing by Chalmers, life at Muirpark is far from harmonious. And then the situation gets much worse – Julie Donaldson goes missing, and the police are called in.

For DCI William Lorimer, this is the second missing persons case in a week. He’s had too many sleepless nights worrying about a toddler who has been missing for several days. Julie’s disappearance adds a further burden to Lorimer’s already overstretched workload. With each day, the likelihood of either girl being found alive diminishes, and Lorimer finds himself racing against the clock to save innocent lives.

MY REVIEW

5 stars

In this book, DCI William Lorimer has his hands full with 2 missing girls. One, a child snatched right in front of her house and an older female, who happens to be a student from his wife’s English class and who has accused another teacher of rape. Are these 2 cases related? But it gets worse, one of them has been found murdered and more bodies are turning up in the same vicinity.

Alex Gray’s writing style is so descriptive that it pulls the reader right into the story. The suspense continues throughout the book without pause.

This is the 3rd book in the series that I have read, THE RIVERMAN and PITCH BLACK and this one did not disappoint. I highly recommend this book and others by this author. Great reads!!!

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery
Published by: Harper Witness
Publication Date: May 9th 2017
Number of Pages: 368
ISBN: 0062659162 (ISBN13: 9780062659163)
Series: DCI Lorimer #6
Purchase Links: Amazon 🔗 | Barnes & Noble 🔗 | Goodreads 🔗

Read an excerpt:

They were walking a little apart now. Her face was in profile, half shaded by the overhanging trees so that he could not make out her expression, though from time to time he would sneak a glance to see if she was looking his way. Her long pale-golden hair was twisted into plaits, leaving the cheekbones naked and exposed. It should have made her seem like a child but instead she looked older, more remote, and Kyle wished she’d left it loose as she usually did, burnished and glimmering in the afternoon sunshine.

It hadn’t always been like this. They’d walked through Dawsholm Park loads of times, sometimes hand in hand, dawdling by the grass verges, snatching the chance to have a quick kiss.

But now, Kyle thought gloomily, these halcyon days were over. Halcyon had been Kyle’s favourite word last term. His English teacher, Mrs. Lorimer, had explained that it derived from a Greek story about a mythical bird that in the middle of winter made its nest floating upon the Aegean seas. The bird had magical powers to make the waters calm and the winds drop. Kyle loved that story and had used the word in his own mind to describe his relationship with Julie. He’d even dreamed of them once – floating together like that bird, side by side, waves lapping gently against their boat. Something made him shiver suddenly and the girl turned to him, a question in her eyes. Kyle shook his head, too full to speak. She was still watching him and must have seen the bob of his Adam’s apple as he swallowed back the tears.

‘All right?’ Her voice was full of concern, but not for what was happening between them. Not for that.

‘Aye, fine,’ he replied but failed to stifle the sigh escaping from his chest. Would she stick with him out of pity after seeing his battered face? Part of him wanted to have Julie around, her warmth and loveliness blotting out the misery of the last two days. But deep down he knew he’d lost her long before his father’s release from prison.

‘Kyle?’

‘What?’

‘D’you want to talk about it?’ She had stopped walking now and was looking at him, frowning. ‘It might help . . .’ Her voice trailed off in an unspoken apology.

Kyle shrugged. He hadn’t talked about it to anyone though he’d done a fair amount of listening. His gran’s house had been full of talk: recriminations, wild accusations and shouting. But that was because women did that sort of thing. And because Kyle was Gran’s favourite, the youngest of her three grandsons. His brothers and his gran: they all had something to say about what Tam Kerrigan had done, and not just to him. That was one reason why he was here, with Julie, to escape from all of the talk. But also he’d been interested in the bit about the murder victim, in spite of everything. What happened to a dead person at a post-mortem examination?

He’d looked up stuff on the net, reading in a detached way about incisions and bodily fluids, not really making a link with the dead man his father had killed. Even the illustrations on the Internet site hadn’t put him off. It was like selecting bits of vacuum-packed butcher meat from the supermarket shelves and not seeing the animal they’d come from. Not like in the school trip to France where you were in no doubt about the origin of your dinner. One of the lassies had nearly thrown up that time someone had served up a chicken with everything still attached, the yellow claws curled over the platter and the head all to one side; you could imagine its squawk as the neck had been wrung.

‘Kyle?’ Julie’s voice broke into his thoughts and he looked up, seeing her staring at him, a tiny crease between her eyes.

‘Och, I’m okay,’ he told her, then dropped his gaze, unable to bear the kindness in her face. ‘The bruises’ll be gone in a day or so. Probably by the time we go back to school,’ he added.

‘Are you going back right away?’

Kyle shrugged again. ‘Why not? Can’t see what good it’ll do me to hang around the house.’ He paused to let the unspoken words sink in.

Keeping out of the house meant keeping away from his father. They walked on again in silence but this time Julie reached out for his hand and he took it, feeling its warmth, glad to have her there. It would be okay. There might be folk staring at him, curious to know the truth behind what the papers said about Tam Kerrigan, but if Julie was there, even as a friend, he’d manage all right. All summer they’d talked about the advantages of being in Fourth Year, both excited, dropping the pretence of being too cool to show it. His mouth twisted at the memory. That had been another person, a young carefree creature whose whole life had stretched before him like an open road. Now that person was dead and gone, his boyhood behind him for ever.

Excerpt from Glasgow Kiss by Alex Gray. Copyright © 2017 by Alex Gray. Reproduced with permission from Harper Witness. 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.

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

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Giveaway:

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Alex Gray and William Morrow. There will be 3 winners for an eBook of THE RIVERMAN. The giveaway begins on April 13th and runs through June 2nd, 2017. This giveaway is for US residents only. Void where prohibited by law.

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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.

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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!

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