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Thursday, October 19, 2017

Blog Tour: Fire War Trilogy by @toddthiede



Fiction/Political/Science Fiction/Dystopian
Book 1: Fire War, published 10/3/2015
Book 2: Fire War II: Treason, published 3/31/2016
Book 3: Fire War III: Uprising, published 9/17/2016

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Fire War Book 1

“Man up,” he told himself. “Man up.” It was what his father always told him, and there was nothing more that he wanted than to be a man. So he took a deep breath, filling his nose with the scents of baseball and looked up to the sky, squinting a little.

It was a plane, not far from the blimp he noticed earlier; that was all. Nothing to be afraid of. A tiny sigh of relief escaped his lips as he saw the familiar shape outlined over his head, wings spread out against the sky.

It was the last thing he saw before the explosion ripped his small body apart with the force of a hundred suns. The quiet of thousands of lives extinguished in the blink of a second took over, disturbed only by falling rubble. The sun beat down again, hot and sticky, on what remained of Tom, his father, and all the others who had been unfortunate enough to be at Wrigley Field for the biggest game of the season."

---
Late in the 21st century, the United Continental States of America is running smoothly. 

Unemployment has been eradicated, terrorism is no more, and any internal dissent diminishes by the day. Most give credit to President Meyers, and many can no longer remember the last election, but it is a small price to pay to keep the country safe from the terrorist group Hariq Jihad.

Things aren’t as they seem, however, as Gunnery Sergeant Anthony Jackson is conscripted into the personal security detail of President Meyers. While the only thing he places above his country is his family, he begins to feel that not everyone is content with how things are. Even more, he begins to fear for his oldest daughter’s life as she begins to question the eroding personal freedoms and democratic rights. Considering that entire families have disappeared over the slightest infraction, one cannot be too careful.

Torn between liberty and safety, family and country, can Jackson balance his loyalties, or will he be lead to an explosive collision with the system he has dedicated his life to serving? In this explosive and highly acclaimed dystopian political thriller novel, the world you live in will never look the same again!




Fire War II: Treason

Anthony Jackson, military veteran, member of the Presidential security team, father, husband, patriot and spy. His daughter safely recovered from a government detention centre, Jackson's role as a spy for the anti government Apocolyte group is firmly cemented. All he needs to do is keep his head down, do his job, and get intel back to his rebel handler. But as Jackson's suspicions about President Meyers are proven true, and the tasks he's asked to handle become more and more immoral, his loyalties are becoming strained.

Where is the line between truth and lie? Between loyal citizen and blind follower? Between right and wrong? And who gets to draw that line? The Apocolytes are growing stronger, but Meyers is too, and only one of them can be the bad guy. But which? Jackson needs to choose sides, and he needs to do it fast. But in the end only the biggest tragedy of them all can force his hand.

His life will never be the same, his family will never survive, and his ideals can be shattered or overturned. Assassinations are all part of the job, he's always dealt in lies and secrets. But now there's something much more personal on the line: vengeance. Saving the world from terrorists is no big deal, knowing who the terrorists are is the real trick.

Fire War III: Uprising

Anthony Jackson. Patriot. Spy. Widower. Still reeling after the death of his wife, Jackson is numbly training antigovernment troops. Confident that his role in political affairs has dwindled to being a glorified shooting teacher, Jackson is slowly trying to piece his heart back together. Until the call comes. The rebels are far from done with Jackson, and this time the promised reward is big and juicy: the Presidency.

As the world slowly falls apart, men fight and men die, and Anthony Jackson cannot simply watch. Something has to change, and someone has to change things, and deep down, Jackson knows that he's the only man that can do the job. But as cities fall, the eternal question continues to burn in his mind: just who can he really trust?

In a world of lies and secrets, where even the ones you love can betray you, Jackson must find right and justice. Only then can he lead the country that he loves. If he survives that long.



About the Author


Perhaps you wouldn’t characterize the Finance Manager of your local automobile dealership as an Amazon best-selling author—until you get to know T.T. Michael. He has worked for the past decade at a Toyota Dealership in Illinois, but he is in the driver’s seat as the writer of, Fire War, a political thriller set in the year 2076. See what happens when the United States, Canada, and Mexico all join forces to make one super country. See more about him and his book Fire War at www.ttmichael.com

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Blog Tour: Polio and Me by Ken Dalton



Non-Fiction - Memoir
Date Published: November, 2016
Publisher: Different Drummer Press

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Polio and Me provides a view of the past, present, and future—the saga of one boy’s pain, fear, and loneliness—the long struggle to develop a vaccine and effective treatments—the world-wide goal to eradicate the polio virus, and in some twenty-first century cancer research trials, the polio virus eliminated cancerous tumors.


Excerpt

Today, seventy-two years later, as a father of three, a grandfather, and great-grandfather, the idea that an ambulance team could walk into my doctor’s office and rip my son or daughter from my arms is an appalling notion. But this was 1943, decades ago, when polio epidemics killed and paralyzed an average of 12,000 children and adults each year.
I understand that having your child taken from your arms sounds draconian, but in Los Angeles, during the summer months of the annual polio epidemics, as many as one hundred patients a day were admitted to Los Angeles County Hospital. Once the patient’s illness was confirmed as polio, those patients were moved to the Communicable Disease Building where they would remain isolated until all possibility of passing on the polio virus to a non-infected person had ended.
And Los Angeles was not alone. Public health professionals throughout the country had learned to act swiftly because when it came to a polio pandemic, the end justified the means. So the abrupt actions of the Los Angeles ambulance crew may have seemed cruel, but the fear of polio, both real and exaggerated, caused even rational professionals to overreact. The moment any patient’s illness was thought to be polio, that patient would be rushed to an isolation facility where he or she would remain for weeks if not months.
One of the major reasons a diagnosis of polio was so frightening for my parents and the medical professionals alike, was that no one could predict the eventual outcome of a polio infection for an agonizingly long period of time. While I was in the Communicable Disease Building at the Los Angeles County Hospital, my parents struggled with a list of frightening questions without a way to learn the answers.
Would their son lose his ability to breathe and die in isolation?
Would their son spend the rest of his days living in an iron lung?
Would their son remain paralyzed?
Would their son recover some use of his limbs?
Looking back, those weeks apart were among the most traumatic days of my life. But during that summer of 1943, as the summers before, and the summers that followed, children with polio, and their parents, learned to endure.


About the Author


Ken Dalton was born in Los Angeles in 1938. In 1943 he contracted polio and spent the next eleven years of his childhood in and out of hospitals.

Fifty-nine years ago he married his childhood sweetheart and is a father of three, a grandfather of four, and the great-grandfather of nine.
After a thirty-eight year management career with Pacific Telephone Company, Ken retired to write golf and travel articles for Golf Digest, Golf Illustrated, Fairways and Greens, and Golf.com.

During two NBC-TV Celebrity Golf Tournaments at Lake Tahoe, he interviewed Olympic Decathlon Champion, Bruce Jenner when he was Bruce, not Caitlyn, the mischievous Chicago Bears quarterback, Jim McMahon, the iconic Vice-President Dan Quail, and NBC Today show anchor, Matt Lauer.
Ken has published six mystery novels. Polio and Me marks his initial foray into the world of non-fiction.

Presently, Ken is working on his seventh mystery, The Heretics Hymnal, and a comedy of manners novel, Casper Potts and the Ladies Casserole club.

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Thursday, October 12, 2017

Blog Tour: H.A.L.F. : Origins by Natalie Wright @NatalieWright_ #bookreview




YA Sci Fi / SciFi Romance
Date Published: 8/24/17
Publisher: Boadicea Press (Self)

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Predator aliens attack Europe. A deadly virus spawns an epidemic. And a clandestine organization conspires to profit from chaos and forge a New World Order.

In this heart-pounding finale of the H.A.L.F. series, Tex, Erika and the rest are in a race against time. In books one and two they fought for their lives. Now they battle to save us all.

Tex and Erika are again fugitives and running for their lives. But when Tex falls gravely ill, a Navajo healer is his only hope for survival. Tex emerges changed in mind and body but with vital information: how to stop the predatory M’Uktah from destroying those he has come to love.

Erika Holt seeks a respite from the threats to her life but hasn't given up. As she and Tex launch a mission to shut down the galactic highway used by the invaders, she grows closer to her troubled human-alien hybrid companion. But what about her on-again, off-again boyfriend Jack?

Jack Wilson, along with his new friend Anna Sturgis, is determined to put an end to the Makers’ schemes for world domination. Complicating matters, the valuable medicine to counter the alien virus has been stolen.

As both alien and human forces line up against them, the destiny of all mankind is hand the hands of these young warriors. And time is running out.

“The latest satisfying addition to the H.A.L.F. series has something for everyone: exciting action scenes; great love stories; fascinating new aliens; and relatable characters fighting to save the world and find their places in it.” ~Alyssa H., Red Adept

Review

I have loved each of Natalie Wright's novels in this series. They are always so fun and so fresh while bringing a lot of action and suspense. I am blown away with her ability to bring us characters who we care about time and again, from one installment to the next.

The Author really brings the world to life through words. Get ready to be immersed in the world and captivated by the characters she has created and finally be able to wrap up any loose ends.



About the Author


Natalie writes adventurous fantasy and science fiction for teens and adults including her award-winning H.A.L.F. series and The Akasha Chronicles. Her first novel, Emily’s House, has been read over 2 Million times on Wattpad! 

When not writing, reading or questing in Skyrim, Natalie meets readers and appears on writer panels at comic cons and book festivals throughout the western U.S. She and her mascot baby alien traveled over 10,000 miles in the past year! 

Natalie lives in Tucson, Arizona with her husband, teen dauther and two cat overlords.

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Exclusives / Goodies / Extras just for Subscribing to Natalie's Newsletter here http://bit.ly/SUBSCRIBE_Natalie



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Tuesday, October 10, 2017

PROMO: The Stark Divide



Sci-Fi
Date Published: 10/10/17
Publisher: DSP Publications

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Some stories are epic.

The Earth is in a state of collapse, with wars breaking out over resources and an environment pushed to the edge by human greed.

Three living generation ships have been built with a combination of genetic mastery, artificial intelligence, technology, and raw materials harvested from the asteroid belt. This is the story of one of them—43 Ariadne, or Forever, as her inhabitants call her—a living world that carries the remaining hopes of humanity, and the three generations of scientists, engineers, and explorers working to colonize her.

From her humble beginnings as a seedling saved from disaster to the start of her journey across the void of space toward a new home for the human race, The Stark Divide tells the tales of the world, the people who made her, and the few who will become something altogether beyond human.

Humankind has just taken its first step toward the stars.

Book One of Liminal Sky


EXCERPT

“DRESSLER, SCHEMATIC,” Colin McAvery, ship’s captain and a third of the crew, called out to the ship-mind.

A three-dimensional image of the ship appeared above the smooth console. Her five living arms, reaching out from her central core, were lit with a golden glow, and the mechanical bits of instrumentation shone in red. In real life, she was almost two hundred meters from tip to tip.

Between those arms stretched her solar wings, a ghostly green film like the sails of the Flying Dutchman.

“You’re a pretty thing,” he said softly. He loved these ships, their delicate beauty as they floated through the starry void.

“Thank you, Captain.” The ship-mind sounded happy with the compliment—his imagination running wild. Minds didn’t have real emotions, though they sometimes approximated them.

He cross-checked the heading to be sure they remained on course to deliver their payload, the man-sized seed that was being dragged on a tether behind the ship. Humanity’s ticket to the stars at a time when life on Earth was getting rapidly worse.

All of space was spread out before him, seen through the clear expanse of plasform set into the ship’s living walls. His own face, trimmed blond hair, and deep brown eyes, stared back at him, superimposed over the vivid starscape.

At thirty, Colin was in the prime of his career. He was a starship captain, and yet sometimes he felt like little more than a bus driver. After this run… well, he’d have to see what other opportunities might be awaiting him. Maybe the doc was right, and this was the start of a whole new chapter for mankind. They might need a guy like him.

The walls of the bridge emitted a faint but healthy golden glow, providing light for his work at the curved mechanical console that filled half the room. He traced out the T-Line to their destination. “Dressler, we’re looking a little wobbly.” Colin frowned. Some irregularity in the course was common—the ship was constantly adjusting its trajectory—but she usually corrected it before he noticed.

“Affirmative, Captain.” The ship-mind’s miniature chosen likeness appeared above the touch board. She was all professional today, dressed in a standard AmSplor uniform, dark hair pulled back in a bun, and about a third life-sized.

The image was nothing more than a projection of the ship-mind, a fairy tale, but Colin appreciated the effort she took to humanize her appearance. Artificial mind or not, he always treated minds with respect.

“There’s a blockage in arm four. I’ve sent out a scout to correct it.”

The Dressler was well into slowdown now, her pre-arrival phase as she bled off her speed, and they expected to reach 43 Ariadne in another fifteen hours.

Pity no one had yet cracked the whole hyperspace thing. Colin chuckled. Asimov would be disappointed. “Dressler, show me Earth, please.”

A small blue dot appeared in the middle of his screen.

“Dressler, three dimensions, a bit larger, please.” The beautiful blue-green world spun before him in all its glory.

Appearances could be deceiving. Even with scrubbers working tirelessly night and day to clean the excess carbon dioxide from the air, the home world was still running dangerously warm.

He watched the image in front of him as the East Coast of the North American Union spun slowly into view. Florida was a sliver of its former self, and where New York City’s lights had once shone, there was now only blue. If it had been night, Fargo, the capital of the Northern States, would have outshone most of the other cities below. The floods that had wiped out many of the world’s coastal cities had also knocked down Earth’s population, which was only now reaching the levels it had seen in the early twenty-first century.

All those new souls had been born into a warm, arid world.

We did it to ourselves. Colin, who had known nothing besides the hot planet he called home, wondered what it had been like those many years before the Heat.

About the Author


Scott spends his time between the here and now and the what could be. Enticed into fantasy and sci fi by his mom at the tender age of nine, he devoured her Science Fiction Book Club library. But as he grew up, he wondered where all the people like him were in the books he was reading.

He decided that it was time to create the kinds of stories he couldn’t find at his local bookstore. If there weren’t gay characters in his favorite genres, he would remake them to his own ends.

His friends say Scott’s mind works a little differently – he sees relationships between things that others miss, and gets more done in a day than most folks manage in a week. He loves to transform traditional sci fi, fantasy, and contemporary worlds into something unexpected.

Starting in 2014, Scott has published more than 15 works, including two novels and a number of novellas and short stories.

He runs both Queer Sci Fi and QueeRomance Ink with his husband Mark, sites that bring queer people together to promote and celebrate fiction that reflects their own lives.

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Monday, October 9, 2017

Blog Tour: Halloween is Murder

Every Day Is Halloween

 
“A nice and fun, old-fashioned mystery. Halloween is Murder was a very well-written and fast read with great characters and a fun mystery with a resolution that I did not see coming.”
–The Reading Café
Ask anyone who loves Halloween and they’ll probably tell you their favorite part about it is dressing up. When you put on a costume, you can be whomever—or whatever—you want. It’s liberating! On top of that, it’s likely that there are all kinds of goodies lying around the house.

When I was a girl, I loved playing Barbie. I loved dressing her up and assigning her whatever life story I wanted. And, man, did I enjoy it! Maybe for a little too long, in fact. I kept playing into my early teens! At the time, I felt like some sort of freak. I certainly wouldn’t have wanted this news to get out to the kids at school. They probably would have called me a baby or something like that. So I kept this part of my life a secret, and I justified my addiction by pinning the blame on my sister, who is six years younger than me—she needed someone to play with!

Now that I’m older—much, much older—I look back and find this aspect of my past amusing. I realize that it’s absolutely nothing to be embarrassed about, but it shows me that I’ve always loved telling stories and acting them out. No wonder I became an author!

In the grand scheme of things, Halloween is very similar. The holiday allows people of all ages to participate in this fantasy, if only for one night. But as an author, I get to experience Halloween every day of the year. I become someone else every time I sit at my desk and immerse myself into the worlds of my characters. I get to delve into their minds, to know their thoughts, their feelings, their personalities, their lives. And I get to share my imagination with my readers. Now that’s a real treat!

Speaking of, I’m going to grab a small bowl of candy corn and gummy peaches and get to writing. Happy Halloween!

Carolyn Arnold
Book Overview:
Beware of all that goes bump in the night…Sean and Sara McKinley are excited about the haunted house they’ve set up as a Halloween charity fund-raiser, but things take a ghoulish turn when the reporter covering their story is found dead. With the media keeping mum about how she died, Sara’s curiosity is piqued, and she convinces Sean to take on the investigation through their PI firm.

But this case is not without its challenges. The police are actively investigating it, as well, and it’s not even clear that the woman was murdered. It will take a little cloak-and-dagger, dress-up, and finesse for the McKinleys to get to the bottom of it, but they aren’t the kind to give up.

As they troll for leads and work through the skeletons in the reporter’s closet, they unearth a few suspects, but they’ll need to carve out the whole truth if they’re going to find her killer. If they do so fast enough, there might even be time for a little trick-or-treating.
 You can buy Halloween is Murder wherever books are sold, including the following popular retailers:
To find out more about Halloween is Murder and the other installments in the McKinley Mysteries series, including box sets, visit CarolynArnold.net/Mckinley-Mysteries.



My Review

The perfect read for this month!

This is a mystery that is a quick and easy read with a lot of guts at the same time.

There are plenty of surprises woven throughout. I love the fact that Carolyn Arnold always manages to throw in plenty of wit and humor to make the story even more fun to read.

I personally liked that there were so many likely suspects. It made it even more difficult to predict whodunit.

About the McKinley Mysteries:
Romance. Humor. Murder. Are you looking for a murder mystery without all the graphic violence and foul language? Something that you can enjoy in an afternoon and walk away feeling good about afterward? How about a dash of humor and romance? If so, meet former detectives Sean and Sara McKinley. When a billionaire leaves them all his money, they no longer have to work, but they find themselves sticking to what they’re good at—solving murders. Undercover, off the books, and around the world, they’ll get to the bottom of things…and romance it up along the way.

This is the perfect book series for fans of Hart to HartCastleColomboMonkRockford FilesPsych, and Magnum PI.



About the Author
Carolyn Arnold is an international bestselling and award-winning author, as well as a speaker, teacher, and inspirational mentor. She has four continuing fiction series and has written nearly thirty books. Both her female detective and FBI profiler series have been praised by those in law enforcement as being accurate and entertaining, leading her to adopt the trademark, POLICE PROCEDURALS RESPECTED BY LAW ENFORCEMENT™.
Connect with CAROLYN ARNOLD Online:
Website | Twitter | Facebook
 And don’t forget to sign up for her newsletter for up-to-date information on release and special offers at
http://carolynarnold.net/newsletters.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Blog Tour: In the Wilderness @trincity #bookreview #womensfiction #giveaway



Women's Fiction
Date Published: Aug. 17, 2017

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In the Wilderness is a roller coaster tale of a young woman, Marva, who faces prison time or worse if she confesses to killing her father – a crime she and her sister have kept a secret for four years. Now with her former teacher-turned surrogate mother about to marry the detective who suspects her of murdering her father, Marva feels suffocated by her guilt. She can’t confide in her childhood sweetheart either because she is too ashamed. Suicide seems to be her only solution. But before she can carry out her well-laid plans, a horrible accident leaves her groping in the wilderness of amnesia. She later emerges to find that she must now trial for murder.

Written from a Christian perspective, In the Wilderness is not just about suicide. Like its prequel, Coming Out of Egypt, the dark matter covered in this book is offset by the exotic setting of Trinidad and Tobago, the one-sided romance between Marva and Jason – he loves her, she sees him only as a friend – crazy, giddy teenage love affairs and the transforming power of redemption.


Review

There were many positives about this novel, but none more than the characters. I think that the characters were so well developed and compelling. I felt so connected to their lives and what was happening, it makes you want to read and read and read and not take a break when you are invested in characters like this. 

This really is just a great show of how when plot, characters, and imagination all come together perfectly to make a great story. 

About the Author


Angela Joseph is a novelist who enjoys writing about deep-seated matters of the heart and subjects largely regarded as taboo in a sophisticated society. Angela draws upon her Trinidad and Tobago roots to paint word pictures as lush as the tropical landscape from which she hails. Angela’s hobbies are cooking, travel and curling up with a good book on a rainy afternoon.

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Monday, October 2, 2017

Blog Tour: Adoration



Alterity Series, Book 2
Contemporary/ Rocker Romance
Date Published: 9/6/17

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Desire. Surrender. Discovery.

A man committed to shaping his future…

Austin MacKenzie shares a passionate relationship with Liz Carlisle, a union rooted in mutual respect and honesty. A feat complicated by the vow of purity handed down by his Scottish forefathers and the ire of his scorned ex-girlfriend. When a series of tragedies rock their worlds, the couple must fight for their relationship and lives.

A woman about to discover the mystery of her past…

Liz Carlisle has led a challenged life. The survivor of a childhood stained by drug addiction and poverty, Austin MacKenzie’s love is helping to mend her heart from the inside out. But echoes from the past threaten to destroy her newfound happiness.

With music as a common bond…

Fate brought them together, but music remains the centrifugal force tying Liz and Austin to one another. With the popularity of their Indie rock group growing, Cupid’s Crush prepares to join alternative rock sensations, Justice Denied, on the European leg of a worldwide tour that promises to catapult them to mega stardom.

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Review

What a perfect read for someone who wants some romance along with depth. This novel will definitely pull at your heartstrings. 

This was a sweet novel about self-discovery, self-worth, and making yourself happy despite the opinions of others. I really enjoyed the romance and the connection between the leads.

The pacing in the story was well done and the story itself was well-developed. I really enjoyed Liz's character and the growth she showed. 

A well developed plot, a heartwarming romance, and characters you will cling to, Adoration is a great addition to the Romance genre! 

About the Author

Ashlynne Laynne is the author of contemporary romance and the award-winning erotic paranormal romance succession, The Progeny Series, as well as an accomplished songwriter and poet. She’s an avid horror movie fan, admitted vamp groupie, and lover of all things Celtic. A hopeless romantic, she’s always had a thing for the fanged ones and hot guys in kilts.

Ashlynne writes on the edge and combines erotica and romance in sensual tales that always feature heroes with heart. A flexitarian, Ashlynne enjoys cooking vegetarian recipes that support a healthier lifestyle. In her spare time, she likes to read, watch crime shows, and spend time with her family. Ashlynne juggles the hats of wife, mother, full time employee and part-time writer, hoping to write exclusively in the future.

Ms. Laynne is an advocate of autism research and is always looking for projects to benefit the cause. She lives in the southern United States with her husband and son.

Ashlynne Stats
Zodiac: Leo
Favorite Music Genres: Alt Rock, 90’s Grunge, Pop
Favorite Musical Acts: Maroon 5, Rihanna, Lil Wayne, Bruno Mars, Jay-Z, Beyoncé, Imagine Dragons, Florida Georgia Line, Adele, Rob Zombie, Robin Thicke, Kings of Leon, Coldplay, Drake, Justin Timberlake, Sam Smith, Ariana Grande, Eminem, Evanescence
Favorite Movie Genre: Horror
Favorite Television Shows: Family Guy, Outlander, Deadly Women, Wives with Knives, American Horror Story, Bate’s Motel, Grey’s Anatomy, Orange is the New Black
Favorite Color: Pink
Favorite Authors: Stephen King, Anne Rice, Diana Gabaldon, Sylvia Day
Book Boyfriends: Gideon Cross from the Crossfire Novels, James Fraser from the Outlander Series, Zsadist from the Black Dagger Brotherhood
Favorite Literary Heroines: Katniss Everdeen from the Hunger Games Series, Claire Beauchamp from the Outlander Series
Foods: Yogurt, Chocolate Milk, Chicken Alfredo


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Find Ashlynne’s Books at these online retailers

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Friday, September 29, 2017

Blog Tour: Beach Space


Fictional Humor
Date Published: August 15th 2017
Publisher: Grave Distractions Publications

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When seniors normally settle into Cedar Branch Retirement Community they begin a simpler and slower pace of living. Not this group! With Jack Goslin, Karl and Betty Rutherfurd, and the Stevens Sisters nothing is simple or slower after moving into the number one retirement community in the south. With the neighboring resort battling over the beach property our eccentric group of seniors avenge war on the uptight and controlling manager of the resort. And after CBC gives the green light for residents to have private golf carts, well things just get even crazier for Derrick St. Clair.

From the new exotic fitness instructor, to Violet’s secret winery, Jack’s pimped out golf cart, and a host of other new issues for the director, CBC continues to gain popularity as the most interesting retirement community in the south. If you are looking for a place to retire, settle down, or witness bizarre fiascos stop by Cedar Branch, who knows – you just might make it home!

Excerpt

Cedar Branch had a long-standing rule about BBQ grills on the balconies of The Tower apartments, a rule created by an incident five years prior to Jack Goslin moving in.  On the sixth floor facing the tranquil emerald gulf, a retired couple was enjoying the evening cooking chicken on a newly acquired stainless steel grill.  The gentleman opened the lid to inspect the meat, and their curious two-year-old Persian cat leaped on the grill, catching the hair of its tail on fire.  At the same time the cat suddenly combusted, the lady opened the door to the balcony, allowing the fire ball to run inside, catching the curtains, couch, a vase of silk flowers, and unpaid tax documents on the table on fire.  After an hour of extinguishing the flames, the couple was left with ruined furniture, burnt chicken, unreadable taxes, and a bald cat—thus generating almost instantly the “No BBQ grill” rule.
In the midst of a welcome cool front, though, the residents of CBC were out enjoying an evening without the brutal heat that the South was so notorious for developing.  On the fifth floor of the Tower apartments, Karl lifted the top off the grill to inspect the filets wrapped with bacon slowly cooking on Jack’s new grill.  Picking up a pair of cooking tongs, he gently lifted one of the pieces of meat and examined the bottom.  “You keep opening the top, they’ll never get done,” Jack said, walking back out on his balcony with a refilled glass of bourbon.
“Your fire is too hot!  They’re gonna burn,” Karl groaned.
“If you’re looking, then you’re not cooking!  The fire is fine.”
Karl mumbled a few words, then made it over to the rocking chair he had claimed weeks earlier when Jack moved in.  The sound of the construction work from below started to die down as the time neared 6:00 p.m. and quitting time.  Jack leaned over the railing and watched a few young men roll up a couple of orange extension cords while others locked down their tool boxes and work areas.  Pulling his attention back to the grill, he saw Karl lifting the lid again.
“You are as nosey as the Stevens Sisters.”
Karl closed the lid with an indignant “I am not!  Your fire is too hot.” Pouting, he made his way back to his rocking chair.
Jack sat down next to him. “You are like the wife I never had,” he chuckled while taking a sip from his 1792 Ridgemont Reserve bourbon.
“Huh.  You drink too damn much to be married to me,” Karl said under his breath.
“I’d drink more if we were married,” Jack answered even more quietly.
“What?” Karl asked.
“Nothing.”
A commotion broke out under their balcony, causing both men to exit their chairs and lean over the railing in time to see half a dozen construction workers standing below the third balcony with arms outstretched to catch the cold beer cans being tossed down.  The Stevens Sisters had moved from one side of the apartments to the other, giving them a front row to the Gulf of Mexico. “Hey, Rutherfurd!” Violet looked up, yelling at the two older men, “you on fire up there, or did you finally decide to burn that painting you made last week?”
Karl rolled his eyes. “Good Lord!  It’s like Mardi Gras meets redneck central around here!”
The six construction workers cheered and waved to the Stevens Sisters as they made their way to their trucks with half-a-dozen cold beers.  Beyond the construction and across the highway, the waves crashed on the white sandy beaches of southern Alabama, occupied at this end of the day by only a few people taking their strolls and awaiting the sunset.
“Hey Goslin!  You want a beer?” Violet shouted up toward the two men.
“Just poured a glass,” Jack held out his bourbon.  “Do you want some Mardi Gras beads?” he shouted back, looking at Karl and adding to his earlier comment.
“Hell, yea!” Violet shouted back and grabbed the bottom of her shirt to pull up, knowing what it meant to ask for beads on a parade route during Mardi Gras.
June grabbed her hand, “Violet, nobody wants to see your girls.  Jack probably doesn’t have any beads.”
“Yea, you’re probably right.  Plus who am I kidding—there’s no way in hell they would be able to see the girls from above me, they’ve been hanging around my waist for 15 years!” Violet walked back into their apartment.
The men settled back in the rocking chairs awaiting the filets and an evening that promised a colorful sunset.  “Well, I’ll hand it to those workers; they finished the bridge in record time,” Jack said, pointing at the new bridge that crossed the highway from CBC to the beach.
“It’s only one lane.  And now that we can have golf carts, it’s just going to cause a traffic jam to get to and from the beach!” Karl griped.
“Are you and Betty going to buy that four-seater?” Jack asked.
“Now why in the hell would I buy a four-seater golf cart?  I’m not running a taxi service.”
“In case I need a ride.”
“Drive your own damn golf cart.”
Jack laughed at his comment as a strong knock came from his door. “Betty?” Jack asked.
“No, she’s down at the art center with Kat.”
Jack walked through his apartment and set his glass down on the counter top before opening the door. “Jack, you know the rules,” Derrick said, leaning on the door frame as Jack opened the door.
“I’ve got you a steak on the grill, had them flown in from New York,” Jack replied, stepping out of the way to allow Derrick to walk in.
“Cooking me a steak is not going to undo the rules.”
“Maybe for tonight; I’ll get rid of it tomorrow.”
Derrick followed Jack to the balcony, adding a “Hello, Mr. Rutherfurd.”
“Have you bought that girl a ring yet?” Jack asked.
“Not yet.”
Something caught Jack’s eyes beyond the conversation, and as he focused on what was flying from the Tower Apartments, a loud explosion echoed from below, and the object flying out from the building disappeared in an orange dust cloud.  Karl spit out his drink. “Good Lord, what in the hell was that?”
A voice shouted from below them, “Pull!”
The three men witnessed another clay target leave the Stevens sisters’ balcony, followed by another explosion from the shotgun barrel following its clay target.  People on the beach ran for cover, a man riding his bicycle ran into a sign, and a flock of sea gulls scattered for their lives. “Pull!” Violet shouted again, followed by another shotgun blast.
“Keep my steak warm—I’ll be right back,” Derrick said, dashing out of Jack’s apartment on his way to the third floor.
“I swear, those damn hillbillies will be the death of us!” Karl grumbled, holding his chest.

About the Author


Lee DuCote has traveled the world researching cultures, people, and historical accounts to help create his stories.  A native to Louisiana, he writes to give hope and encouragement to others, as well as to entertain and spark the imagination.  Lee lives in the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas with his wife and family and is the author of seven novels including Camp 80 that earned him an international book award.  


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