Thursday, July 30, 2020

Blog Tour: Counting Hope

Follow Up to Hopey: From Commune to Corner Office.
Memoir, Business
Publisher: Hunter Street Press

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If you thought Hopey: From Commune to Corner Office was compelling, then Counting Hope will further inspire and challenge you.

In her memoir sequel, we follow Hope Mueller's journey into adulthood as she unwittingly recreates the dark, chaotic world she was attempting to escape. As Hope finishes college, she digs herself out of drug addiction and abusive relationships to ensure her survival. She charges forward to build a better life for herself and her two daughters. Hope reveals the most intimate and painful events of her life while illustrating an unwavering motivation to improve her circumstances and discover her true worth.

Ultimately, Hope's story shows how small, daily steps towards confidence propel us forward, even beyond our darkest hours, to a place of more joy, more purpose, more fulfillment. Written in heart-pounding flashbacks and encouraging looks forward, Counting Hope is an epic journey of liberation, empowerment, and eventual success.


Ping. The elevator doors slide open. An aseptic scent bounces off gleaming white walls. My fiancé, Tom, holds my hand, and I cling to his. I am girding for a nightmare.
Mom must have heard the elevator. She is the first person I see. Her eyes. Her eyes. What is she saying? Why does she look like that?
“Hi, Mom,” I muffle into her shoulder as she surrounds me, holds me, squeezes tight. I can feel the tension in her back, the tightness of her breath. “Where is Olivia?”
Tom waits by my side. “Hi, Hope,” he says. Now it’s his turn to be embraced so radically. Olivia joins us. We hug.
She starts to cry.
“Ashlei, I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. I did everything I could.”
“Olivia . . . where is Dad? Are you okay? Where is he?
Where’s Dad?”
I look at Mom. “Can I see him?”
“Yes, of course.” Mom’s moves are jerky. She is twisted up and forcing herself to breathe.
Olivia’s fifteen-year-old face is puffy, and looks aged.
Her eyes hold a deeper despair than Mom’s. She takes my hand. “I’ll go with you. Don’t leave me, Ashlei.”
“Okay, baby, okay.” I glance back at Tom. He gives me an encouraging a nod.
I let Olivia lead me. She pushes the big button on the wall, and one heavy double door swings inward to the critical care unit. Mom is trailing us. Watching.
Beeps. Whooshes. More beeps. Tapping of fingers on keyboards. The clean scent is stronger here. It is a scene from a movie. Is this real? A tall, capable-looking nurse in blue scrubs approaches us.
“Hi,” she smiles. The smile does not reach her eyes. Her eyes have the same haunted look. What?  What is it?  Why does everyone look like that?
Mom had told me it was bad, that Olivia was right, that I had to come. Now I have seen three people with this stare.
What?  What does it mean?  I can handle it, I swear.
When Olivia called, she was hysterical and said the paramedics had taken Dad in an ambulance. She was left at a stranger’s house and didn’t know where she was. She was out of her mind. I couldn’t calm her down or understand what she was saying. Her sucking sobs garbled her words.
She couldn’t tell me who was with her. Her hiccupping wails xii
pierced through the phone. I tried to calm her down. I told her to breathe. I asked her if she had called mom yet. A tiny
‘no’ emerged through the broadband. I convinced her to call mom, even though she was worried mom would be mad at dad. She had to call mom. Mom would know what to do.
Mom would to tell me if I needed to worry.
Mom was three hours away when she got Olivia’s cal . She took the next exit and headed south toward Bloomington.
Someone needed to figure out what had happened. It was bad. Mom told me I had to come.
After the call from mom, I stood frozen, staring at my closet. I couldn’t decide. What do I take?  What should I wear?  
What if there is a funeral?   I packed everything. Maybe all the stuff could hold me to the ground. Maybe the clothes could keep me on earth.
Now Olivia is leading me to Dad’s room. But the nurse.
The nurse’s eyes look like Mom’s. Olivia’s are worse. Filled with more . . .  more what?  More something. An emotion? A truth I don’t understand? I have never seen this look before, a mixture of sadness, empathy, and knowing. It is the knowing that scares me.
“You must be Ashlei.” The nurse knows me. Knows my name.
I bob my head with a plastic smile. My face is stone. We are suspended. There is no time. Everything is moving slow xiii
and sounds are dulled. The beeping is quieter. My stomach is roiling.
“You are here to see your dad,” the nurse says. Olivia is crushing my hand so hard it aches and starts to pierce the fog in my brain.
“Yes. Can I see him?”
“Of course. You will need to put these on.” She hands me a yellow smock and a blue facemask. Olivia reaches for her own.
We turn to our right, and he is there. A million tubes. A million bags. Dad is motionless except his chest rising and falling from the air pushing through a hose snaking down his throat. I slide my eyes across five monitors. The closest one to me has ten flat lines marching across it.
Tears flood my eyes. I go to his side and take his hand.
His hand is warm. I sit on a stool. Olivia stands behind me, quietly crying. She has someone to share her grief with; I’m here. Her sister.
“Daddy, Daddy, please wake up.” I put my head to his hand and plead. Beg.
I feel Olivia’s body shaking behind me, and I turn around and sob into her waist, into her belly.
I spin back and whimper into Dad’s warm hand.
Mouthing the words on his skin. “Daddy, please . . . please wake up.”
We are like that forever, for no time, for always. Maybe xiv
we are still there. The pain does not stop. We are a well of despair. The dark, cold water threatens to consume. To bury.
Where is my dad? Did he fall into this wel ? Is he here too?
“Daddy, you have to wake up. You have to wake up.
Please, Daddy, please . . .”

About the Author

Hope Mueller is an author, inspirational speaker, and a successful executive. Hope lives in northern Illinois with her husband and actively parents her four daughters and grandson. She sits on multiple non-for-profit boards, and has launched a local scholarship fund. She is the chairman and president of a charitable organization being developed in 2019. Hope's passions are found in promoting and developing leaders, youth STEM activities, and in-need community support and investment. Her early years were marked by her experiences within a hippie commune that shaped her approach and interaction with the world, and allows her to create order out of chaos.

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PROMO: Pursuing a Better Tomorrow

Published: September 2019
Publisher: Angels Fortune Editions

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Although her origins are in Nocedo del Valle, an agricultural village in Orense, a province of Galicia, Spain, Blanca De La Rosa was born in the Dominican Republic in the bosom of a humble family. But fate had something else in store for her. 
Pursuing a Better Tomorrow is not just a novel that portrays the history of three generations, but rather an inspiring cross-generational journey from Spain to the United States. The novel details a historical overview and the ideologies of each era where the characters portray the strength of character required to achieve a better tomorrow given the twists, turns, and synchronistic events that shaped their lives.
De La Rosa candidly shares her coming-of-age story of self-discovery as she transitioned from New York City’s projects to corporate America, detailing her personal and professional journey.
This great novel will inspire you to believe in your abilities, dare to dream, and reach for your goals as you pursue a better tomorrow.
Are you ready to embark on this journey?


 About the Author

Blanca De La Rosa was born in the Dominican Republic. She grew up in the Projects of the upper west side of Manhattan in New York, during the time before the Hispanic population developed the supportive Latino community which exists today. Although she struggled without support in her cultural and linguistic transition, De La Rosa was able to graduate from Pace University with a Bachelor’s Degree in International Business Management and to establish a successful 34-year career rising through the ranks of Mobil/ExxonMobil Oil Corporation.
During her career, she held numerous positions both domestic and international in nature with increasing responsibility. These assignments took her around the United States, Europe, Central / South America, and Nigeria.
De La Rosa retired from ExxonMobil after 34 years of service. As a Business Development Manager and President of the company’s Employee Resource Group she often represented her company as lead presenter at the Regional and National Scholarship Awards hosted by the Hispanic Heritage Foundation. In addition, she represented her company as host, keynote speaker, and panelist of various events with organizations supported by the company's charity foundation. After all her time in the industry, she says her most rewarding role was serving as mentor to the young employees in her company – guiding them through the corporate maze.

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Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Blog Tour: Black Veil

Date Published: 7/1/2020
Publisher: Épouvantail Books, LLC

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Murder and Madness in the High Sierras

The tragic and gruesome story of the Donner Party is being made into a movie, a tale of cannibalism and treachery high in the snowbound mountains. The cast is made up entirely of children. One by one, they are dying. The series of deaths are haunting the production, each one of the “accidents” at the hands of Florentino Urbino. Driven by greed and jealousy, he is killing off the film’s stars to line his pockets by selling off the gruesome footage of the accidents.

Six-year-old actress SeaBee Danser in her black veil is his next target. She is the only one who can see through the black curtain that Florentino Urbino drapes over his deranged and murderous heart.

Can she survive?

Can he be stopped?

Will any of the children be left standing?


Chapter Four
Black Curtain
My name is Florentino Urbino, call me Flor, everyone else does. In the ugly world of movie- making, I’m what’s called a fixer, and no one’s better at that than me. You’re coming along with me, how can you not? I’ll lead you up and down the backside of Hollywood, including the nasty parts. Best if you buckle up because we’re headed far up the skirt of this machine, our first stop is that day’s filming of Rascals – The Sequel. Let me pull the black curtain back for you so you can get a better look.
Here we are on the movie set, as usual, with a mess on our hands. In this case, it’s Trenton’s dead body on the ground, his head a bloody melon.
“What the dog fuck was that?” the mouthy Assistant Director yelled with no filter as usual. He was standing beside me, back of Camera Two.
The other forty-seven members of our second-unit film crew kept their noses to the grindstone, maintaining their unblinking focus on equipment and tasks—all of them obscenely overpaid and overfed. They knew better than to lift until Dice broke the creative spell by shouting, “Cut.”
Because that word had not yet been called, our cast of child actors remained frozen in their poses and expressions as did the stunned audio, camera, and lighting teams.
Imagine a series of three concentric rings, each one larger than the other and, as always, in the middle —the center of attention, deserved or not—the cast, those enfants terribles with their soiled and greedy hearts.
I was in the second ring, amidst the extended boom mics, cameras, lights, and defusing panels, a single step back, a hand’s reach away, from the alleged brains of this film, Dice, our Director. Dice, both pretentious and visionary—when lucid—was our second- rate, overwhelmed, in-over-his-head leader. He was crouched to my right beside Camera Three, his eyes aligned with the lens, one hand on the shoulder of Bear the Director of Photography with his aides and writers panting at his back.

Am I jealous of Dice and all his acclaim and awards and reputation as a brilliant, hard-working visionary? You bet I am. Worse, he’s in my well-deserved role.

About the Author

Greg Jolley earned a Master of Arts in Writing from the University of San Francisco and lives in the very small town of Ormond Beach, Florida. When not writing, he researches historical crime, primarily those of the 1800s. Or goes surfing.

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PROMO: Realms of Edenocht: The War Wizard

Action Adventure Fantasy
Date Published: March 2020
Publisher: Rosecrest Publishing

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In a time of desperate measures, the Queen of the most powerful city in Edenocht threw the world into a fallen and broken state in an attempt to destroy the most powerful Necromancer the world has ever seen.  The once magically enhanced world is no more and the elemental beings that once inhabited it are gone. The only thing strong enough to bring it back is the ancient artifacts of the Sev-Rin-Ac-Lavah and the only one strong enough to use them is The War Wizard.
Edenochts only hope is a War Wizard, but none have been born in a millennium, until now. Hidden from the Necromancer in a time realm not his own, the future of the world resides in a barely grown man’s destiny. The War Wizards protectors did the best they could to prepare him without the use and teaching of his magic and Shaz must now quickly learn his true potential and battle the evils of the shadow world.
As a being which hold all the elements and the dreaded shadow magic, Shaz must find the descendants of the ancient magical races and the artifacts before the Necromancer does and the world of Edenocht’s future succumbs to the evil Shadow. 

About the Author

DS Johnson is an artist, illustrator, entrepreneur, and author of the Realms of Edenocht series for Young Adults. With over a decade of writing Young Adult novels and graphic design and an avid online role-playing gamer, DS Johnson has years of experience in the art of fantasy make believe and a love for the genre of role playing games and has endeavored to bring to life in action adventure novel form the love of the game. With quotes like ‘WOW, now that was pleasantly unexpected!’ With the natural sense of leveling up your character and developing your skills, DS Johnson has successfully combined the art of fantasy and role playing in a remarkable series for young and old readers. Even if you’re not a role-playing gamer, you will find the books Realms of Edenocht utilizes the traditional, but exciting story telling techniques with skill and flare all readers will love. DS Johnson works from home and enjoys family life and the creative process.
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Tuesday, July 28, 2020

PROMO: Dreamland

Time-Travel Romance
Date Published: 7/2/2020
Publisher: Evernight Publishing

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Dicen Burke had it all.  As lead singer in the world famous rock band, Dark Army, the world lay at his feet.  But the path to super stardom warred with a painful past and during a performance the demons haunting him finally descended.  Unable to stop the self-destructive path of alcohol and drugs, when he fell, he fell hard.
He wakes up in a world he doesn’t know.  The Twenty-first century rocker is now in the 1920’s, lost and bewildered.  He’s taken in by Juliet Fox, a beautiful woman trying to be a positive influence in her brother’s wild lifestyle among the Hollywood Motion Picture elite.
Dicen does his best to adapt, and with Juliet by his side, he discovers a world that offers him a clean slate.  But when he’s pulled back to the present, separated by time from the one person that gives him a reason to live, will he find a way to push past his demons as well as find Juliet again?


              “Hey you,” a soft voice commanded.  “Open your eyes please”
            He tried to obey, struggling to push past the lingering darkness that clung to him like a second skin.  God, he felt horrible.
            “That’s it,” she soothed.  “Open your eyes.  Look at me.”
            Finally, he managed to raise his eyelids.  An angel leaned over him, staring into his eyes.  She smiled at him so he smiled back.  He had always thought it would be demons that would come collect him when he died so it amazed him that heaven was calling.
            “Ah, a set of beautiful baby blues,” she murmured, stroking his cheek.  “Hello, handsome.”
            He opened his mouth to say something but the words wouldn’t come.  His tongue felt swollen, dry.  He forced himself to swallow to try to get some saliva flowing.
            “W-what happened?”
            She cocked her head.  “Bad hooch I’m thinking.  Gotta be careful of certain juice joints.  Come,” she said, holding out her hand.  “Let’s get you sitting upright.”
            He hadn’t realized he’d been lying down but as she helped him up, he realized the halo around her head had been nothing more but the flickering of a street light accentuating the midnight hue of her hair.  When he was vertical once more, he finally saw all of the woman’s features.  Short bobbed hair held back by a headband made of crystal beads while dark eyes watched him from under thin, perfectly arched eyebrows.  Her lips were a cupid’s bow, painted a deep red.  Her skin a flawless pale shade that contrasted sharply with her heavily made up eyes.
            “Like what you see?” she asked.
            He blinked.  “I always like my fans.  Where am I?”
            One of those thin eyebrows arched.  “That hooch must’ve really made you balled up.  You’re off Hollywood Boulevard, of course, belly up in an alley.”
            He looked around, completely baffled.  How the hell did he get here?  Where was the stage?  The screaming fans?  Kieron, Van and Tony?
            “Do you have a name, handsome?”
            “Yeah, sorry.  I’m Dicen Burke.”
            He waited.  He waited for the name to sink in, for her eyes to widen, for her to begin batting her eyes in an attempt to flirt her way into his bed.
            “Juliet,” she said.  “Juliet Fox.  I was looking for my brother, Thayer, and figured I’d find him upchucking out here and instead I find a keen big six.  Say, you’re no drugstore cowboy are you?”
            “Excuse me?”  Her lack of a response to his name, along with slang he didn’t understand, threw him.
            “You know, a guy that hangs around street corners looking to pick up ladies.  Just so we’re clear on the matter, I ain’t that kind of girl,” she informed him, the smile on her face lessening the harshness of her tone.  “Have you seen another man out here, by chance, throwing up?”
            She confused him.  He shook his head and then wished he hadn’t when it throbbed.  “God, I need an aspirin.”


About the Author
I began reading my mom’s Harlequin Presents in the fifth grade, and from the first story I knew I wanted to write romance novels. I like writing about the very ordinary girl thrust into extraordinary circumstances, so my heroines will probably never be lawyers, doctors or corporate highrollers.  I try to write characters who aren't cookie cutters and push myself to write complicated situations that I have no idea how to resolve, forcing me to think outside the box.  I love writing characters who are real, complex and full of flaws, heroes and heroines who find redemption through love. You can find me on the web at:
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Monday, July 27, 2020

PROMO: A Booktiful Love

Date Published: 08 May 2020
Publisher: The Roaring Lion Newcastle Ltd

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A Booktiful Love is a collection of poems that deal with the entirety of human experience in its various forms. Didactically rich, the poems explore ideas ranging from love, relationships, and patriotism to marriage, morality, and many other concepts pertinent to daily living.
Given its variety of themes, what unifies the poems in this collection is the simplicity and ambiguousness of language which the poet employs. The poems draw their strength from their clarity and meaning.
These are poems with a purpose. Poet Tolu' A. Akinyemi didn't shy away from this fact, as he wrote in the poems "Writers" and "Write for Rights." The poet's philosophy is evident in this collection. To him, a writer is saddled with the responsibility to use his words to teach, preach, and fight for freedom.
He writes:
"Let's change the world, one writer at a time,
Write those words till the world gets it right."
Another special attribute to this collection is the poet's experimentation with words. This is clear right from the title. The poet identifies himself as a creator of words. The reader is obliged to travel into the mind of the writer in each poem, to understand how his mind works. As readers approach the end of this collection, they not only become engrossed in its didactic richness, but also will appreciate the uniqueness of the poet's style and the sense of responsibility he carries.

 About the Author

Tolu’ A. Akinyemi hails from Nigeria and lives in the UK where he has been endorsed by the Arts Council England as a writer with “exceptional talent”. Tolu is the author of seven outstanding books, one of which is a collection of ‘short essays’ encouraging you to “Unravel Your Hidden Gems”. The five other books form the basis of his poetry collection, ripe for future growth, and which includes Dead Lions Don’t Roar, Dead Dogs Don’t Bark, Dead Cats Don’t Meow, Never Play Games with the Devil and his latest release, A Booktiful Love. He has also authored a widely acclaimed stellar collection of Short stories titled “Inferno of Silence”.

A former headline act at Great Northern Slam, Crossing The Tyne Festival, Feltonbury Arts and Music Festival, and featured in various Poetry Festivals, Open Slam, Poetry Slam, Spoken Word and Open Mic events in and outside the United Kingdom. His poems have been published in The Writers Cafe Magazine Issue 18 and 57th issue (Volume 15, no 1) of the Wilderness House Literary Review and many other literary outlets.

His books are based on a deep reality and often reflect relationships, life and features people he has met in his journey as a writer. His books have instilled many people to improve their performance and/or their circumstances. Tolu’ has taken his poetry to the stage, performing his written word at many events. Through his writing and these performances, he supports business leaders, other aspiring authors and people of all ages interested in reading and writing. Sales of the books have allowed Tolu’ donate to charity, allowing him to make a difference where he feels important, showing that he lives by the words he puts to page.

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PROMO: Zone of Action

Romantic Suspense
Date Published: 7/27/2020
Publisher: Entangled Publishing

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Former terror cell expert Audrey Jenkins has seen enough death and destruction to last a lifetime. When she uncovers her ex, Brett, a higher-ranking officer in her unit, selling military secrets, she turns him in and returns to the simpler life she has embraced since leaving the army. CID Special Agent Cam Harris is a career military man with a strong sense of duty. When a military prisoner who once saved his life in Afghanistan escapes while in his custody, he requests the assignment to track him down. Cam's manhunt leads him to Audrey's door. His prisoner—her ex—will resurface here, he’s sure of it. The feisty woman wants nothing to do with hunting down her ex, but when a terror cell she’s all-too-familiar with launches a deadly attack on army intelligence soldiers and officers, she knows it’s Brett. Helping Cam is the right thing to do. But the attraction burning between them may be the mistake that gets her and Cam killed...

Her tears had stopped. She should release him. But a new storm threatened. She hadn’t been with a man since Brett, hadn’t trusted her choices in companions. Brett’s defection, and subsequent courtroom nastiness, had cautioned her into remaining celibate. He’d been so far from what she’d imagined, she’d decided to swear off men. That had been easy, until Cameron appeared on her horizon.
His hot body in a uniform plus overall good looks had snared her attention at the court martial, as well as Elena’s. They’d salivated over him at the time, and then moved on. They’d returned to work, and she’d begun to pick up the pieces after Brett. She didn’t need a man to be fulfilled. Or so she thought. By the way she was reacting to Cam now, she realized her attraction from back then had only lain dormant. His kindness, gentleness, and quiet strength had awakened her desires. God, she felt protected in his embrace. Protected and aroused.
The arousal part scared her. Here she was, finding another soldier wildly attractive. If she was smart, she’d push him away, thank him for his kindness, and call it a night. He wouldn’t insist. He’d already proven he was a gentleman. He was nothing like Brett.
Since she’d met him a few days ago, he’d been only professional and understanding, quietly strong and reliable through the home invasion, the fire, and now their flight into the wilderness. He’d never come on to her, had simply offered opinions while listening to her explanations. She had no idea whether he looked at her that way or not. He’d make a great poker player, with no hint of what he was thinking visible to another person. Perhaps that was why she was getting more turned on as the seconds ticked by. She’d love to see him lose control.
Brett never had. He’d always been in full control in the bedroom, as well as in the war room. His orgasms had been quiet, disciplined releases, and she’d stifled her screams to match his restraint. She had no idea whether Cam would be the same. Maybe she was destined to only be attracted to cold fish.
She pressed closer to him and felt his arousal between them. So, not a cold fish. She raised her head and opened her eyes. His dark brown ones stared back at her, a glint of confused desire in their depths.
“What the hell are you doing, Audrey?” His voice was hoarse, questioning. He stepped back, arms dropping to his sides. And ran a hand over his face. She took a step forward. Their chests touched. His gaze never left hers. “What are you doing?”
Her heart skipped a beat. It had been a long, long time since she’d acted on a sexual attraction. Part of her wanted to turn tail and run to her room. It wasn’t too late. She could still keep face. A larger part of her wanted to remove Brett’s final hold on her. She didn’t want her last lover to be a traitor. She met his look head on.

About the Author
Cathy Skendrovich has always loved a good story, and spent her formative years scribbling what is now called Fan Fiction. The current heartthrob of the time featured heavily in all her stories. Unfortunately, once she went to college, her writing took the form of term papers, written on typewriters instead of computer keyboards.
Upon graduation, Cathy took a job as an English teacher in a middle school. Along the way, she married her husband of thirty-six years, and had two sons. Now an empty nester, she and her husband have embarked on their own adventure, moving to Idaho to live overlooking a pond.
Romantic suspense has always been her favorite genre to read and write, though she has dabbled in historical romance. Creating an unpredictable storyline is her goal, and she hopes she has done so in her current and previous books. Prisoner of Love is her first published novel, followed closely by The Pirate's Bride, The Pirate Bride’s Holiday Masquerade, and Undercover with the Nanny. Zone of Action is her fifth book, and her first military suspense. For research, she asks her son in Army Intelligence for up to the minute information. Lately, he’s stopped taking her calls.
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