Hidden Sea: Playlist and Giveaway

HIDDEN SEA
by
MILES ARCENEAUX
  Genre: Mystery / Thriller / Suspense
Date of Publication: November 2017
Number of Pages: 384
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Charlie Sweetwater saw Mexico—especially the Mexican Gulf Coast—as a spiritual second home. He’d worked, played and lived there for much of his life, and thought the country suited him better than anywhere this side of his home on the Texas Coast.
But now a worrisome and potentially dangerous development has shown up on Charlie’s radar. Young Augustus Sweetwater, affectionately known as Augie, hasn’t reported in after completing a south-of-the-border sales trip for Sweetwater Marine. Raul, Augie’s father and Charlie’s nephew, is worried sick. Drug cartel violence in Mexico has reached epidemic proportions and Augie’s path took him through the heart of the narcotraficantes’ territory.
Charlie figures Augie just went off the grid to do some well-deserved fishing, surfing and beer-drinking at the end of his trip. He’d done the same in his time. But as Augie’s unexplained absence grows, Charlie and Raul become increasingly alarmed and set off for Mexico to bring their boy home.
What they unearth is far more than the sum of their fears. The familiar and friendly Gulf of Mexico has turned into a hidden sea plagued by smugglers, human traffickers, crooked politicians and even pirates. And Augie is lost somewhere in the middle of it all.
Charlie and Raul must summon an unlikely cast of characters to aid them, including a hilariously dissolute ex-pat musician, a priest whose faith struggles against the rising tide of refugee migration, a Mexican tycoon who may have secrets of his own and a beautiful maritime “repo man”. At the end of their quest, as the deepest secret of all is revealed, Charlie Sweetwater learns that neither Raul and Augie, nor the Gulf of Mexico, nor even himself, will ever be the same again.
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Praise for Hidden Sea:

“A riveting story from Texas that wanders down the cartel-invested Gulf Coast of Mexico and drifts across to lawless Cuba. The characters are as salty as the sea and the plot pulls you along as powerfully as the loop current.
W.F. Strong, Stories from Texas, Texas Standard Radio Network
“Hidden Sea is a total blast: smart, funny, and riveting, with unforgettably colorful characters and a world so alive that you’ll swear you’re really there.”
Lou Berney, Edgar Award-winning author of The Long and Faraway Gone
  
“In Hidden Sea, Miles Arceneaux tosses us in the drink of a timely contemporary adventure tale with the Sweetwater clan, complete with pirates, slave ships, family secrets, and the mother of all plot twists, in his patented Gulf Coast noir style.”

Michelle Newby Lancaster, Contributing Editor, Lone Star Literary Life, NBCC Literary Critic

Purchase Links:
 

Check out Miles Arceneaux’s playlist for Hidden Sea

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“Miles Arceneaux” is the pen name of three long-time Texas friends. James R. Dennis is a former attorney turned Dominican friar who lives in San Antonio. Brent Douglass is an international businessman from Austin. John T. Davis, also of Austin, is a journalist and author. Together, as “Miles,” they have been featured authors at the Texas Book Festival, the San Antonio Book Festival, and the Lubbock Book Festival.
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Two Runners-Up: Each win an autographed copy of Hidden Sea

October 11-October 20, 2017
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The Unremembered Girl: Review and Giveaway

Rating:


THE UNREMEMBERED GIRL

by
ELIZA MAXWELL
  Genre: Psychological Suspense / Mystery
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Date of Publication: November 1, 2017
Number of Pages: 332

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In the deep woods of East Texas, Henry supports his family by selling bootleg liquor. It’s all he can do to keep his compassionate but ailing mother and his stepfather—a fanatical grassroots minister with a bruising rhetoric—from ruin. But they have no idea they’ve become the obsession of the girl in the woods.
Abandoned and nearly feral, Eve has been watching them, seduced by the notion of family—something she’s known only in the most brutal sense. Soon she can’t resist the temptation to get close. Where Henry’s mother sees a poor girl in need, his father sees only wickedness. When Henry forges an
unexpected bond with Eve, he believes he might be able to save her. He doesn’t know how wrong he is.
Eve is about to take charge of her own destiny—and that of Henry’s family. As both their worlds spin violently out of control, Henry must make an impossible choice: protect the broken young woman who’s claimed a piece of his soul, or put everyone he loves at risk in order to do the right thing.


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Praise for The Grave Tender, Maxwell’s previous book:

“An emotional powerhouse of a story that will leave readers reeling from the beginning to the end.” —Christena Stephens, Forgotten Winds

“Beautiful and intoxicating.” —Chelsea Humphrey, The Suspense is Thrilling Me

“Haunting. Lyrical. Beautiful. Dark. At times, sickening.” —Julia Byers, Books in the Garden

“This is dark psychological suspense that skillfully inspires a slow-dawning dread. . .It will shred you.” — Michelle Newby, Lone Star Literary Life
CLICK TO PURCHASE

Check out the book trailer!


The Unremembered Girl is a riveting and captivating story. For fans of Shutter Island, this story will surely unravel your heart just as deeply. It’s a psychological suspense with a heart wrenching twist that you won’t see coming. It’s dark, its gripping, and it’s the kind of read that will keep you up late at night just so you can tear through the pages. A novel worth devouring!


The Unremembered Girl is told by multiple points of view. There’s Henry, Caroline, Eve, Jonah, Del, Alice, and Livingston. Henry has longed to serve his country but remains at his sick mothers side to help take care of her. In the mean time, his mother Caroline takes in a damaged and quiet girl Eve that has been living in the woods. This girl has been emotionally broken and hurt in absolutely horrible ways. Caroline gives her a home, gives her love, and does her best to take care of the girl. Henry too begins to feel like he’s Eve’s protector and does everything he can to help the girl with her haunting past. A past that has twisted and tormented the poor girl into something dark that Henry isn’t sure he can save her from.

I loved everything about this book, from the characters, to the driven and fast pace plot, and to the suspense and thrill of the mystery behind Eve. This book is gripping and truly an unstoppable force. You won’t be able to put this book down. Get ready though for some heartache!

Eliza Maxwell, whom gave us a gripping read with The Grave Tender, has truly done it again! You don’t want to miss this truly spectacular read!

Eliza Maxwell lives in Texas with her ever patient husband and two kids. She’s an artist and writer, an introvert and a British cop drama addict. She loves nothing more than to hear from readers. You can find her at theelizamaxwell@gmail.com
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2nd Prize: Autographed copy of The Unremembered Girl, $10 Amazon Gift Card
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October 5-October 14, 2017
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A Memory of Fire Excerpt and Giveaway

A Memory of Fire
R.L. Stedman
(SoulNecklace Stories #3)
Publication date: October 1st 2017
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult

About my wrist is a tattoo of roses, strung like beads on a bracelet of thorns. I have a past, if only I could remember — but I cannot remember.

Held captive in a strange city, Dana dreams of fire and flight. There is something she must find, but she does not know what it is, or why it is important. If only her dreams would let her rest.

Half a world away, Will studies a new, exciting discipline. But while N’tombe the enchantress is impressed by his newfound skills, inside he feels only desperation. A terrible moment is approaching; soon, Dana must face her final ordeal. Is his new power enough to save her? And is he prepared for what might happen next?

In this thrilling conclusion to the award-winning SoulNecklace Stories, Will and Dana must make a heart-breaking choice. A choice that may change their world forever.

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Kobo / iBooks

Excerpt:

“Will never enjoyed sea travel. At best it was boring; at worst it was downright dangerous. He preferred solid ground. Traveling on foot might be tiring and hard on the shoes, but it carried one advantage: you couldn’t be drowned.

“Ready?” TeSin asked.

Will settled the blindfold across his eyes. “Not really.”

The strangest part of this journey was that TeSin, a warrior Will had left for dead, was teaching him a new fighting technique! Who would have thought an enemy might become a teacher?

TeSin laughed. “I will be kind.”

Will doubted this, but he raised his staff anyway. Clack! TeSin knocked it aside. “Hey!” Will rubbed his stinging palms.

“You must try,” TeSin said.

“I am trying.”

“You think you try.”

Lifting his blindfold, Will peered in irritation at the older man. “What more can I do?”

TeSin raised his staff. “Try again.” 

Above in the rigging sailors made bets with each other: which fighter would take the first hit, when would Will be knocked out, how long each bout would last. None of the bets favored Will.

Focus.

The sailors fell silent. TeSin’s feet moved just as the ship lifted on the swell, and for a moment Will knew exactly what TeSin would do; he would lift his sword arm, raise the other as a guard, then lunge forward, drive the point home. Will swung his staff down, blocking the lunge, and twisted. A sailor howled in annoyance (ha! Someone lost their bet), and the Noyan’s warm breath touched Will’s face. Will swept his left leg forward and bashed his head toward TeSin. Their foreheads connected, hard.

“Ugh!” TeSin grunted.

Will heard the man stagger sideways. The Noyan was a bad sailor. Perhaps he had a chance after– “Uh!” he grunted, as TeSin’s staff caught him in the belly. Will staggered backwards and fell hard on the wooden deck.

From above, the sailors cheered. “Come on, lad!” “My money’s on the foreign one!” “Get up, boy!”

Awkwardly, Will got to his feet and, catching his breath, stood listening. The soft plut-plut of the waves; the snap of the wind in the canvas above; the shouting of the sailors; the soft glide of the Noyan’s bare feet on the deck.

And here comes the lunge. Will ducked, felt the sideswipe skim across his back and his kick. He jumped backwards and felt the Noyan’s foot just miss his face. Quite suddenly, the dance of the fight caught him. Oh, he loved those moments; when everything focused on the now. Will didn’t need to see. In the very center of his being, Will knew TeSin’s next move. He feinted; left, right, and barreled forward. His shoulder caught the Noyan hard in the belly (fighting like children!) and the man toppled backwards.

“Go lad!” shouted one sailor, but the rest booed. Doubtless they had lost money.

Will grinned and tore off the blindfold. TeSin lay on the deck coughing, but he smiled, and lifted an arm to Will. “You do well.”

Will took the offered hand and pulled the Noyan onto his feet. “Thank you.” He waved the blindfold at the sailors. “So. Who bet on me?” Two swarthy men raised their hands, grinning. “Thank you, boys. When we’re next in port, I’ll be buying you drinks.” “

 

Author Bio:

Award-winning author Rachel Stedman lives in Dunedin, New Zealand with her husband and two children. Her first novel, A Necklace of Souls, won Best First Novel at the New Zealand Post Book Awards 2014. In 2012 Rachel was the winner of the Tessa Duder Award and was shortlisted for the Tom Fitzgibbon Award. If she’s not got her nose in a book, she’s on instagram or twitter (@rlstedman) or at her local library. Her website is www.RLStedman.com.

Want a FREE collection of fairytales? Then copy and paste this link into your browser: https://dl.bookfunnel.com/k9dl7iv39v

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Across the Darkling Sea: Review and Giveaway

Rating:

Across the Darkling Sea
K. Ferrin
Publication date: November 12th 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Rating: 3/5

Book Summary:

Across the Darkling Sea is the first book in the new serial fantasy series Magicfall, by K. Ferrin!

Magic is forbidden in Brielle, but that never stopped Evelyn. Until Now. Because Evelyn has discovered she is magic, and now she is running for her life.

Her only hope is on an island cloaked in shadow, an island of dark magic and even darker beasts. An island warlocks call home.

Evelyn’s friends have turned against her, her own mother tried to kill her, and the place she calls home has banished her. Hidden away in the belly of a riverboat, a stowaway, her journey begins.

Across the Darkling Sea is book one in a serial series. Each book is roughly 50,000 words or about 150 pages. To emphasize, this is a serial series, meaning it’s one story that stretches across multiple books.

 

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Kobo

My Review:

Across the Darkling Sea is a charming and captivating tale about a girl named Ling whom finds out that she is a changeling, finds the “her” she thought she was in a deep sleep, and decides to find her maker and be unmade so that the girl, Evelyn, can wake up from her sleep. Beautiful premise and it instantly wove a place in my heart as Ling set out on her daring quest. Ling is everything you want in a classic heroine, driven, brave, and sincere.

As for other characters go, I simply loved Dreskin, but he wasn’t in it enough! He’s a certain ship member that decides to help Ling on her journey. He’s mysterious and I found myself eagerly wanting to know more about it. Perhaps we will find out in book 2!

The only thing I wasn’t a fan of with this book is that it does sort of just end. But it’s the kind of ending that makes you ready and excited for book 2!

If you like magic and fairies and ships and fantasy then this book is definitely for you!

Author Bio:

K. Ferrin spends her days surrounded by engineers, technology, and humming

machinery, but her evenings are steeped in magic, myth, and adventure. She writes fantasy, loves gardening, and eats way too much pie. She lives at the foot of the Colorado Rockies with her husband and two pooches.

Her novels include the stand alone YA fantasy novel Magicless, as well as Across the Darkling Sea, and A Dying Land, the first two books of a series. You can find her online at www.kferrin.com.

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Racing Storms: Playlist and Giveaway


RACING STORMS
Chasing Desire Trilogy #1

by
SARA RUSSELL
  Genre: Clean Contemporary Romance 
Publisher: North Loop Books
Date of Publication: April 25, 2017
Number of Pages: 198

Scroll down for giveaway!

 

Decoursey dreads the upcoming weekend. A big NASCAR race is taking place at the speedway near her home–and her abusive, murder-threatening ex-husband just so happens to be a member of a NASCAR pit crew. Determined not to let her ex-husband have a decent opportunity to make good on his threat, Decoursey puts an ad online, hoping to find some security in the form of a guy needing a place to crash. 

Enter Kennan, a storm chaser looking to get away for a few days. Fresh off a failed storm chase, Kennan doesn’t make the best first impression. But that quickly changes as Decoursey gives Kennan a chance and finds the recently broken heart of a gentleman hidden beneath the surface. As sparks fly, so do hopes that they can dream of romance once again. But when their newfound trust is broken, will Decoursey and Kennan weather the storm to find a love that lasts? 
Racing Storms, the exciting debut in Sara Russell’s Chasing Desire trilogy, will get your heart pumping all the way to the finish line.
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Praise for Racing Storms:

“In Racing Storms, fresh new voice Sara Russell begins her three-book series with a courageous and adorable hero, a sassy but vulnerable heroine, spicy love scenes and an insider’s view of daredevil storm chasers! What more could you want from a romance?” 
— Vicki Lewis Thompson, New York Times bestselling author

 


Russell’s debut successfully tackles the idea of finding love when you least expect it.” 
–RT Reviews

“Austin-area writer Sara Russell’s self-described ‘first foray into fiction’ is a smoothly written, nicely plotted romance novel that will entertain many readers who like books with contemporary Texas settings.” 
–Lone Star Literary Life
CLICK TO PURCHASE:
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Author Sara Russell’s Playlist

I listened to these songs while writing Racing Storms, and while they may not represent specific aspects of the book, I’ll always connect them to Kennan and Decoursey.

Sara Russell is a near-native Texan who sees nothing wrong with using “y’all” in formal conversation. She maintains that one can do practically anything in a cute dress and flats, including storm chasing, attending motorsports events, and exploring the endless delights of the Austin area, where she’s lived since childhood. When not writing or hunting & gathering at Whole Foods, Sara spends time with friends & family and enjoys live music and dancing.

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September 19-28, 2017
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These Healing Hills: Review and Giveaway

Rating:
THESE HEALING HILLS
by
ANN GABHART
  Genre: Historical Romance / Christian
Publisher: Revell
Date of Publication: September 5, 2017
Number of Pages: 368
Rating 4/5
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Bestselling Author Transports Readers to the Appalachian Mountains for Adventure and Healing

Packed with history, These Healing Hills by bestselling author Ann H. Gabhart introduces readers to the fascinating and difficult life of frontier nursing.

When the soldier Francine Howard planned to marry after WWII writes to tell her he is in love with a woman in England, Francine is devastated and in need of a change. She seeks a fresh start in the Appalachian Mountains, training to be a nurse midwife for the Frontier Nursing Services.

It is in these mountains that Francine crosses paths with Ben Locke, a soldier still very much suffering from the horrors of war. With his future shrouded in as much mist as his beloved mountains, he’s at a loss when it comes to envisioning what’s next for his life.

While Francine and Ben find they are from completely different worlds and possess very different values, they both learn that things don’t always go the way we plan. Ann H. Gabhart invites readers to witness the healing power of love and step forward to tantalizing new possibilities. 
Praise for These Healing Hills:
“Reading These Healing Hills is like wrapping up in a beloved quilt and stepping back in time. Ann H. Gabhart captures a fascinating slice of Appalachian history in this tale of a mountain midwife and a soldier, bringing it to life as only a native Kentuckian can. Poignant and romantic, witty and wise, with enduring spiritual truths, this is my favorite novel of hers to date.”
—Laura Frantz, author of A Moonbow Night

“What a wonderful story! Filled with true-to-life characters (including some four-footed ones) and fascinating historical details, These Healing Hills is a beautifully written, heartwarming story of life in the Appalachian Mountains at the end of the Second World War. Ann Gabhart combines vivid descriptions, meticulous research, and a deep understanding of the human heart to create a story that will linger in readers’ memories long after the last page is turned. This is a book to savor, not just once, but over and over. A true keeper.”
—Amanda Cabot, bestselling author of A Stolen Heart

“Ann H. Gabhart delivers a rich tale set in Kentucky’s Appalachian Mountains at the close of World War II. Francine buries the painful loss of the man she loves beneath the difficult work of a frontier nurse-midwife. The mountain people touch a place deep in her heart, and she gladly sacrifices the life she always wanted in order to serve them. But can she ever be truly happy among the hills and hollows where modern medicine often gives way to ancient folk cures? These Healing Hills is a fascinating and beautifully crafted story that I highly recommend.”
—Virginia Smith, bestselling author of The Amish Widower

“You are sure to enjoy this endearing story of love lost and found in the enchanting hills of Kentucky.”
—Jan Watson, author of the Troublesome Creek series
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These Healing Hills was the perfect evening breeze to still my soul. The story follows Francine Howard, a nurse leaving her home behind for a new place to belong. She goes to nursing school and the town instantly falls for her charming personality. Fran is kind and honorable, and dedicated to her work through and through. I loved her from the beginning. She’s fierce and fearless, and takes pride in her work. The story also follows Ben Locke, a soldier in the war. When he comes home from war he is instantly drawn to Fran. Both Fran and Ben have wounds that need healing. Ben is wonderful, to put it simply. And it’s thanks to him that there’s a certain adorable dog named Sarge in the story. A dog that will take you by surprise and make you fall in love as well!

To be honest, I never pictured myself as a fan of historical fiction. But lately I’ve thoroughly enjoyed travelling to the past and being able to envision myself in that time and place. These Healing Hills was calm, enjoyable, comforting, and exactly what I needed as my days have become so busy. I don’t know how else to describe other than that it’s a very gentle story about two people finding love again and discovering where their home is.

It’s a great read! Be sure to check it out!

Ann H. Gabhart is the bestselling author of several Shaker novels—The Outsider, The Believer, The Seeker, The Blessed, and The Gifted—as well as Angel Sister, Small Town Girl, Love Comes Home, Words Spoken True, and The Heart of Hollyhill series. She lives with her husband a mile from where she was born in rural Kentucky. 
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Copy of These Healing Hills + The Kentucky Snack Basket (11 items including a Derby Pie Tart, Bourbon Pecan Brittle,
Bourbon Chocolates, Spiced Pretzels, Modjeskas, Coffee, Snack Mix, Candy Bar, Caramel Corn, and a Horseshoe from Churchill Downs!)
First Runner-Up:
Copy of These Healing Hills + $25 Barnes & Noble Gift Card
Second Runner-Up:
Copy of These Healing Hills + $10 Starbucks Gift Card
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Death Made Me Review

Rating:

My rating: 4/5

Book Synopsis:

Some people live each day as if it were their last, embracing every possibility. What if today was your last day? Have you lived enough? Barry never took chances. Today he tried. Katherine was out of his league: beautiful, kind, well-travelled. What would she ever see in him? Successful in his line of work, but sadly lacking in every other aspect of life. On his last day, he got his wish to be with Katherine. Only, fate bestowed a bittersweet irony upon him, forcing him to watch as she was mistreated by the one person he hated the most. Unbeknown to them both, Barry would leave a mark on Katherine’s life that would impact generations of her family yet to come.

Purchase Links:

My Review:

Death Made Me is a haunting tale about a man named Barry that dies and for reasons beyond his understanding, is a ghost that follows Katherine, the love of his life, around. As a ghost he’s able to ponder things and recognize things that perhaps he hadn’t realized when he was alive. Things that he would have done differently. As he follows Katherine around, we learn many things about her, including her kind heart and good natured soul. Katherine’s story, seen through the eyes of Barry, is tragic to read. And poor Barry, who wishes he could do whatever he could to rid Katherine of the man that plagues her life. But Katherine’s life takes unexpected turns and sheds light in the distance.

Barry’s story is not the only story in Death Made Me. We also are introduced to Emily. I will tell you very little of Emily because her story is so intricately tied in to Katherine’s and Barry’s story that I wouldn’t want to spoil anything for you. But Emily’s story is definitely worth nothing. Her is where the tale takes on a supernatural like quality in that we are introduced to psychics. Which I personal feel was a lovely spin on the overall progression of the story.

Death Made Me is very well crafted. There’s tragedy, heartbreak, love, and wonder. It’s such a poetic and thoughtful story. A wonderful tale of self discovery. It makes you take a moment to study your inner self and the difference you might make. It also reminds you that life sure is precious.

Be sure to check it out!

About the Author:

I’m a Mum to two beautiful children that keep me very busy. When I’m not knee deep in laundry and housework I love to either read or write.

My favourite genre is crime fiction, specifically anything with serial killers or something clever with a twist.

I’ve just published my first book Death Made Me which is quite a mix of genres it’s a paranormal/romance/suspense thriller! I intend to keep on writing and just hope that people will enjoy my books.

Author Links:

Dori Ann Dupré: Interview and Excerpt for Scout’s Honor


Dori Ann Dupré

I am so excited to have Dori Ann Dupré on the blog with us today. Dori is the author of newly released Scout’s Honor! Dori shares with us about her writing experience and tips for other aspiring writers. Be sure to check out a great excerpt from Scout’s Honor in the interview too! Can’t wait to read this one!

Interview with Dori Ann Dupré

Tell us a little about yourself:

I am a first time published novelist. My book, Scout’s Honor, was published on April 14th, 2016. I’m originally from New Jersey, hold a BS in History and a Post Bac Paralegal Certification, and I’m a veteran of the US Army. I’ve lived in North Carolina for over 17 years now, where my husband and I raised our two daughters. He passed away last Fall at the age of 47 from Colon Cancer. Scout’s Honor and my second book, Good Buddy, which was inspired by my husband before he became ill, have saved me throughout this very difficult period in my life and in the lives of our daughters.

What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?

I think most indie authors have under-appreicated novels. It is hard to get it out there in order for it to be appreciated by the masses. In that light, I am choosing an indie author’s novel for purely personal reasons. Eight Days by Scott Thompson came out in March 2016. Scott Thompson is an author who is also signed with my publisher, Pen Name Publishing. I received an ARC copy just a couple of days after my husband’s terminal diagnosis. His novel is about a man who dies and is caught between life and death. He has to reckon several events from his lifetime in order to move on to Heaven. There are 8 events, which is why the book is entitled Eight Days. He is guided through this process by his long passed grandfather. The story is one of hope, love and family and a creative peek into the hearts of men who must examine their lives. My husband found himself in a similar situation because he was dying, and dying young. It helped me to understand the context of some of his struggles, even if I could not put myself in his shoes. I highly recommend the book for anyone, but also for people who are grieving the loss of loved ones.

Who were your favorite authors growing up?

Growing up, I liked S. E. Hinton, the Bronte sisters, Jane Austen, Judy Blume. I was a normal girl in that regard.

If you could join any literary world, what would it be and why?

I would want to be in Hogwarts. I mean, who wouldn’t? It’s classic good versus evil while in school. The closest thing we get to Hogwarts is the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and that’s just not good enough.

What inspired you to start writing?

I’ve never been inspired to write specifically. I’ve always just been a writer. My first book, Scout’s Honor, was inspired over 20 years ago from an anonymous call for help to an advice columnist. It was written by a young teenaged girl who had been taken advantage of by a much older man, who was a Deacon in her church. I always wondered what happened to her and how that man’s selfishness and cruelty affected her life long term. This kind of thing happens all the time and girls usually keep silent about it for all kinds of reasons. I had the idea for years, and it wasn’t until my youngest daughter went off to college that I had the time and determination to start writing it. Once I started, it only took me 5 months to complete the first draft.

How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?

Going through my manuscript with an actual editor during the publishing process helped me think of my writing differently. I think bigger now and try to get out of my characters’ heads more. I also try to write in smaller chunks. My second novel, Good Buddy, which will hopefully come out in 2018, was written in 3rd person vignettes within chapters. The chapters include flashbacks and current day. I found this to be a rewarding experiment in storytelling and I can’t wait to see what readers think! It’s written quite differently than Scout’s Honor. Scout’s Honor was written in 1st person, multiple narrators.

How do you write? Do you plot? Or do you just go for it?

I have a basic idea in my head but honestly, I just go for it. I am a classic Type A personality. If I start out with an exhaustive outline and To Do List, which is how I run the rest of my life, I would never do the actual writing. I’d be too busy trying to check things off. Creatively, for me, I have learned that I just need to DO. It comes out naturally.

How long on average does it take you to write a book?

My first book took 5 months to write. (20 years and 5 months if you count from the idea!) My second book, Good Buddy, took longer. Because I was dealing with the Scout’s Honor launch and promotion, it was on the back burner for awhile. It started out with one idea, inspired by my husband’s selfless act of becoming a stepfather as a young man. Then because of what happened to him and our family, Good Buddy became so much more than that. I had to finish it so he could read it before he passed away. Good Buddy took just over a year from original concept to complete manuscript. It was the last book my husband ever read.

How do you select the names of your characters?

Scout’s Honor had family member names strewn throughout it. Because her identity was wrapped around Scout Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird, there are also names in there related to that book. For example, Scout’s daughter is named Jemma (and called Jem for short sometimes). Scout meets a man named Thom Robinson later in the book. Also, because my books take place in North Carolina, I try to make names fit the region and times.

How many hours a day do you write?

If I’m writing a book, I will be in a zone until it’s done. Because I work a “real job” in the “real world,” I don’t have all the time in the world to dedicate to my writing. This is hard to classify, but if I’m writing a novel, it could be 2 hours a day during the work week. I will use lunch breaks too. If I’m just in between books, like now, I write every day, just a bit at least, to keep me sane.

What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?

My publisher, Pen Name Publishing, has been instrumental in helping me forge writerly relationships. The house uses an app where we can all communicate with one another about our writing, resources, share about events and press. It is a wonderful tool and whenever you need feedback, there’s always a slew of other authors offering their support. We have also had some YouTube based author forums to discuss author topics, and interacting in this manner has been great. My most interactive writer friends include: Scott Thompson, Mike Hansen, Ralph Pullins, Amanda Hanson, JM Sullivan, Leslie Hauser, Dionne Aboulelela (who is also the House’s CEO), Jenny Milchman, and Seamus Gallacher. I am grateful to them all for all they’ve helped me with as a fellow author and writer.

What are the first 5 things you do to prepare yourself for a day of writing?

I really do not have any kind of prep for this. I know that’s a horrible answer, but I really do not prepare to write.

Tell us a little about Scout’s Honor, can you share an excerpt with us?

Scout’s Honor is a story of a self, lost…a self, loathed…and a self, rediscovered. The protagonist is named Scout Webb, and she comes of age in 1980s rural North Carolina. She heads off to Camp Judah, a Christian camp on the Catawba River, and while at camp, she suffers a profound emotional trauma that will affect her well into adulthood and middle age. Scout’s Honor starts off in the Summer of 1983, when Scout is 14 years old, and ends in the modern day. It addresses issues such as faith, morality, identity, marriage, parenting, love, family, forgiveness, friendship and emotional trauma.

 

Here is an excerpt from the book:

 

SCOUT WEBB, AGE 14

The ball flew toward me in a mad spiral as I stood, stomach churning, wrapped up in anticipation. It was coming to my left so I turned my legs back and ran to position myself to catch it. I don’t know exactly how my body knows what to do and when to do it at the right time, but even “for a girl” my body knew just the same. My gloved left hand reached just high enough to snatch the speeding baseball out of flight and I stopped myself from stride so I could get the throw into the cutoff man at shortstop. Also known as Charlie. My best friend.

“Good catch, Scout!” I heard someone yell. I felt a sense of relief come over my whole body. I did my job. I caught the well-hit fly ball that should have been a single. The boy who hit it was pissed off, no doubt, because some stupid wiry girl in the outfield caught it and how embarrassing is that and I hope she falls and breaks her arm. Heard it all before.

I love summer. Summertime is baseball season. People like to complain about the heat and humidity here in Haddleboro, North Carolina, but it doesn’t bother me all that much. It doesn’t keep me inside playing Space Invaders or Pong on Atari or watching reruns on TV like my brother Jonny and his friends. It doesn’t keep me from sleeping, even if I’m dripping in sweat on my bed all night and have to wrap a cool wet towel over my head. No homework, no worries but for my paper route — and the promise of Camp Judah ahead.

On Sunday, I get to go to camp for three weeks. I’ve gone every year since I was seven. It will be my last summer there because I’m aging out. The next time I can go back is as a counselor after I’m eighteen. I’m turning fifteen in a couple of months, so that is a long time. Three whole years. Actually more like four because I won’t turn eighteen until October when camp is over for the summer. What am I supposed to do for the next four years? Get a job or something? No one will hire me next summer because I’m too young. I’ve only ever had camp to look forward to.

Charlie turned around and hollered to me, pulling me from my Camp Judah daydreams. He shouted that I needed to be ready because the last time this kid hit, it went in between us for a single.

“Move in! He can’t hit it over your head!” I moved in closer to Charlie, who held his spot at short.

Bobby was pitching. He’s too slow at everything. He moves slow, preps the ball slow, kicks around dirt on the mound slow. Even chomps on his Big League Chew slow. I’m getting anxious again, on high alert, scared to let my team down by screwing up. My stomach’s in knots, but it’s not clear if it’s because of how close we are to winning this game or how close I am to going away to camp.

I stand ready, waiting for Bobby to pitch the ball, then watch the batter swing and miss. And again. Foul ball. Then my mind goes back to Camp Judah and to Brother Doug with the ice blue eyes, the gorgeous lifeguard who I’ve been practically in love with since I was seven years old.

At Camp Judah, we always address the counselors and other people who work there as “Brother” and “Sister.”

“Why do we call all the counselors Brother and Sister?” I asked Brother Doug a few years ago, as I helped him carry some life jackets back to his storage shed.

“Because here at Camp Judah, we are all family. We are brothers and sisters in Christ and all of us are God’s children,” he answered with a wink.

When I saw Brother Doug for the first time, my camp group (the Lions for Jesus!) was coming out of the lake because our allotted time for swimming was up for the afternoon. A tall, fit, tan man stood at the foot of the water wearing swim trunks that matched the color of his eyes. He counted us as we came out and directed us where to stand to meet our counselor.

I was the last one out of the water, of course. I was always the last one out. I never wanted to leave the cool lake water because the sand was always hot on my bare feet. Some of the kids had flip-flops to put on, but I didn’t.

As I walked up the wet sand from the water, Brother Doug said to me, “Hey Shorty, I like your chubby cheeks.” I looked up at him, the sun blaring down on his almost-white, blond hair. He looked back down at me with squinted eyes, expanded his cheeks with air, and put his fingers on both sides to pop them. Then he smiled. “Those things are so big you should be able to pop them like that.”

He became my favorite person right away.

“I’m Brother Doug. What’s your name?”

“Scout,” I said.

He laughed. “Really? That was my dog’s name when I was boy!”

Heard it before. Someone always had or knew a dog named Scout. Never a cat, though, I noticed.

I’ve learned to become proud of my name over time. I’m named after the main character in one of the most beloved books in American fiction — from my mom’s favorite book, To Kill a Mockingbird. And since my mom was a reading teacher at Haddleboro Elementary School, she knew something about books.

So Scout, the little girl in the famous novel, is my namesake. Really, her name was Jean Louise and Scout was just her nickname. But my name-name is Scout. Scout Elizabeth. Elizabeth for my grandmother.

After reading the book when I was eleven years old, I was at ease with my unconventional name. I liked the name Scout and, the truth is, there were too many Jennifers and Lisas and Michelles anyway. Scout was a different kind of name and I was a different kind of girl. My friend Jenny (see?), who is a year older, told me that in ninth grade English, her class read To Kill a Mockingbird and everyone was talking about me and my name.

But since I was only seven when I met Brother Doug, and I didn’t fully understand the significance of my name, I felt a little uncomfortable about it being so unique. Because I didn’t want to make this Brother Doug person laugh at me, I just asked him if he missed his dog, Scout.

He grinned and said, “Sure I miss him. He was a great dog. The best one I ever had.”

I think Brother Doug noticed my uneasiness, so he got down to my level. He peered into my eyes, still grinning, and put his hand on my shoulder. He continued to squint from the bright sunny afternoon. His unusually light blue eyes were no doubt affected by the sunlight more than other peoples’ eyes. “Hey, I will give you a special name, just between me and you, okay?”

I nodded, wondering what in the world he was going to call me.

“I will call you Squirrel-Girl because you got the fattest, cutest cheeks I’ve seen at camp this whole summer — just like a squirrel hiding acorns in them.”

He waited for my reaction and I could tell that he was trying to make me feel comfortable with him. It worked. He had my complete trust at that moment and for the next seven summers.

Smiling back at him, I said, “Okay, Brother Doug.”

As I started to walk away toward the other campers, I stopped and turned to him, inflated my cheeks, and popped them like he did earlier. That one gesture became our special greeting every summer.

Now, I couldn’t wait to pop my cheeks at him on Sunday. No matter how much time had passed since I met him as a little girl, I was still his Squirrel-Girl and we always popped our cheeks at each other. I hoped he would be back again this summer because I hadn’t heard from him in a long time.

While waiting for Bobby to move along with his pitches, I started thinking of how scared I am that Jesus and the Rapture might come tonight as I lay sweating in my bed. I pictured myself hearing those “Trumpets of the Lord” and then getting raptured up with all the other Christians. Then I’d have to miss out on going to camp. I think I would demand that Jesus let me go back so I could go to Camp Judah — but then I realized that all the people at camp would be raptured, too, so it would be a waste of an argument with the Son of God.

I said a quick prayer as we all watched Bobby taking his sweet time on the mound, “Jesus, please please please don’t come again until after camp is over.” I often said this kind of prayer on Christmas Eve, on the eve of the first day of school, and on the eve of Halloween.

The boy up at bat strikes out and the game is finally over. I’m relieved. My mind is too cluttered today for this game. I’m too excited, too jumpy, and too anxious for everything. Especially Camp Judah and Brother Doug.

Really, for Brother Doug.

I jog in from the outfield and my team’s coach, Mr. Faulkner, who’s also Bobby’s dad, congratulates us on doing a great job.

“We have four more games this summer,” he said. “We are undefeated, boys,” he stopped and looked at me, “and Scout,” he added with a wink. “Not bad for a team full of scrappy kids just out of junior high.” He looked around and continued, “We need to practice on Sunday and Monday, so don’t miss. We can go far with this group. I just know it!”

Mr. Faulkner sounded pretty excited and he never sounds excited.

When everyone dispersed, he came over to me and said, “I’m sorry you’re going away to camp, Scout. We need you.”

I was glad he said that, but humbly replied, “There are lots of boys on the bench who can play just as good as me. I hate to miss so much, but if we win the rest of the games, I’ll be back in time for regionals.”

To be honest though, if Brother Doug wasn’t at camp anymore, I would have considered missing my final summer at Camp Judah to play baseball instead. I’m kind of over all the Bible verse competitions, the devotionals every morning, and the constant segregation of boys and girls in the teenager groups.

Last summer, this boy named Carlo from Philadelphia liked me and tried to kiss me. He was a nice boy, but I didn’t want him to kiss me because I’d never want Brother Doug to hear about it. It really wasn’t a big deal, though.

“Scout, I think you’re pretty,” Carlo said to me. “Can I kiss you? Just one time so I can remember you?”

I was flattered because Kelly was the prettiest girl at Camp Judah that summer — and probably every summer. All the boys wanted to kiss her. But Carlo liked me instead.

“I don’t think so, Carlo. I don’t want to get in trouble,” I told him.

Well, some girl named Pepper, who nobody liked, went and told a counselor about what Carlo said to me. Poor Carlo got in all kinds of trouble. His parents were called and he missed a whole day of activities. They probably would’ve sent him home if it wasn’t so far away. So some of the camp rules are starting to annoy me.

But Brother Doug is there. At least, I hope he is. I think he is. He has to be! And I know he misses me. He has told me so in his letters.

Mr. Faulkner told me before the season started that I’m lucky I can play baseball at all. He had to do some convincing with the people in charge of the county because there were no other girls playing this level of baseball anywhere in the state. Since there wasn’t a summer softball league for girls, and I was just as good as the boys, they decided to let me play.

Usually by this age, girls and boys go their separate ways in sports. Girls chase softballs or chase dreams of being on some stage or just chase boys. Once I overhead someone’s dad say, “Teenaged girls are chasin’ either one set of balls or another.” I didn’t think it was funny, but the other dads sure did.

I played softball in the spring with the county league last year, but it was boring and everyone stunk except for some girls from another town called Black Hill. I couldn’t stand the fact that most of them actually did throw like girls and I hated the bigger-sized ball. So instead of doing that again, I got permission from the principal to play boys’ baseball for the school team. Since they didn’t have a softball team for the girls, he told me that the baseball coach agreed to let me try out. Well, I made the team and had so much fun playing with the boys and Charlie all the time.

Next year, I could only try out for the girls’ high school softball team and not the boys’ baseball team. I was warned about that. “The girls in high school will be much better players. Some of those girls from Black Hill go to Haddleboro High,” Charlie had promised me.

“I hope you’re right,” I said, unconvinced. But really, I was sad that I would not be playing with Charlie.

The thought of going into high school both excited and terrified me. I was excited to be able to experience new things and meet new people. But the thought of not being with Charlie all the time was scary. We were a pair. I didn’t want things between us to change too much.

“Listen, you can’t worry about stuff like that,” Charlie told me last week, while we were walking into town for an ice cream. “Nothin’s gonna change. I promise.”

“I don’t know Charlie. It’s so much bigger there and maybe you’ll meet people you like better than me,” I said, feeling really stupid and insecure, especially because of how much attention he had been paying lately to a girl named Katie Smith.

He stopped me on the side of the road and made me face him. “Scout. Stop it. You’re my best friend. It will all be just fine.” Then he put his hand on my head like I was a puppy. “I don’t know what I’d do without you.”

I felt a little better about it all after he said that.

After Mr. Faulkner let us go, Charlie and I hopped on our Schwinn banana-seat bikes and pedaled off to his house, which was just three blocks away from the town baseball field. His uniform was covered in dirt from one messy slide into third base. I only managed a grass stain on my knee this game. I hoped I could get it out in the laundry. I hated a dirty uniform for the start of a game.

********

Dear SG,                                                                                                          September 12, 1982

I was so happy to get your letter. It made my day. I was having a tough day at school because one of the younger kids got hurt in a game we were playing and he may have broken his foot. I felt really bad about it, so your letter cheered me up a lot. It sounds like you are doing good. I know it was hard for summer to end, but you should enjoy your last year in junior high because it will go fast. Before you know it, we will be racing down the water slides again.

You asked me if it was OK if you wrote to me. Of course it is! I love getting letters from my campers.

Well, I am going to close for now. I hope you have a great school year. Keep in touch!

Your friend,

Brother Doug

********

 

What inspired you to write your Scout’s Honor?

Like I said above, I was inspired to write Scout’s Honor when I read an anonymous letter to an advice columnist from a young teenaged girl who had been taken advantage of by a much older married man in a position of trust. I often wondered what happened to that girl and how that entire situation affected the rest of her life.

What’s your favorite thing about Scout’s Honor?

My favorite thing about Scout’s Honor is that I tried to be fair to men. In fact, it was my goal. It’s easy to cast people as villains and heroes, when really, villains are usually just people who are hurting and not dealing with it like a mature adult. It is difficult to write from a man’s perspective when you are not a man, so I made it my mission to be fair in how Rob’s, specifically, internal struggles and failures were portrayed. I wanted to be fair to the character because he was worth a second chance and he was worth redeeming. He was a good person who lost his way for a while. Personal failures happen to almost everyone at some point, men and women alike. The difference between Rob and other men and women in these situations is that he owned up to it and did everything he could to make it right. But what he didn’t realize in the moment, was that while he was repairing his own life and relationship with his wife, he seriously altered the course of a very young woman’s life. These are the unintended consequences of redemption.

Before you go, is there anything else you would like to share with us? 

Yes! The proceeds from the sales of my book, Scout’s Honor, go toward a fund I established in my husband’s memory. The Eric DeJong Memorial Fund at the Gary Sinise Foundation supports the RISE Program. This money goes toward building smart homes for severely disabled veterans. My husband was a United States Military Academy graduate and he served his country honorably in the US Army. I am proud to associate his good name and memory with this worthwhile grassroots charity. I am more than half way to my fundraising goal for 2017.

About Dori Ann Dupré: 

Dori was born and raised in New Jersey. She graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Science in History and is a veteran of the United States Army. She is the author of the two-time international award winning debut southern novel, Scout’s Honor, and several published short stories and poetry. Her second novel, Good Buddy, is expected to be released in 2018. Proceeds from her writing go toward charitable efforts in memory of her husband. Dori works in the legal field and resides with her two daughters and dachshunds in North Carolina.

Author Links:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | LinkedIn | Google+
YouTube | Pinterest | Instagram | | Goodreads  

About Scout’s Honor:

2016 Bronze Medalist – Southern Fiction, Readers’ Favorite International Book Awards
2017 Finalist – Eric Hoffer Book Awards


Book Summary:

In Haddleboro, North Carolina, Scout Webb is a 14 year old kind and spirited small town southern girl and a tomboy much like her namesake, the young narrator from her mother’s favorite book. With both her name and her Christian faith deeply woven into the fabric of her identity, Scout always felt like she had a lot to live up to and was the kind of girl who made her parents proud.

It’s August 1983, and Scout is playing on a summer baseball team with Charlie Porter, her best friend since Kindergarten. More than anything,  she is looking forward to her last few weeks at Camp Judah, a Christian camp near the Catawba River. She can’t wait to see her big crush “Brother Doug,” the thirty-two year old camp lifeguard who has watched her grow up each summer since she was seven years old. But after a fateful few days and one catastrophic event during her last day at the camp, Scout was changed forever.

Written through multiple narrators over the course of twenty years, this story follows Scout’s personal struggles as a freshman away at college in Raleigh and later as an overworked single mother approaching middle age, where she is forced to confront the causes of her own quiet suffering, the consequences of her actions and why even the eternal love and devotion of just one true friend can’t save her.

A story of a self, lost…a self, loathed…and a self, rediscovered…it examines the harsh and cruel ways in which otherwise well-intentioned and decent people treat each other…even those they claim to love, but even more so…ultimately, how we treat our own selves.

Scout’s Honor is for sale at all major online book retailers:

Pen Name Publishing | Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Books-a-Million | Kobo Books | Indiebound | Smashwords

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Wheels of Justice: Giveaway

WHEELS OF JUSTICE
The Redwood Series, Volume 2
by
Vickie Phelps
Genre: Christian Romantic Suspense
Date of Publication: July 18, 2017

Number of Pages: 324

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When Connie Knight applies for a job at McKinney’s Fine Cars in her hometown of Redwood, Texas, she has no idea what she’s getting into. Buford McKinney is a mean, evil bully who thinks women are the ground God made for men to walk on. The only reason she stays at McKinney’s is the fear of being without a paycheck and ending up homeless. And then there’s Rick McKinney, Buford’s son. In spite of his daddy’s contempt for Connie, Rick is attracted to her and Connie to him. But will their feelings for each other be enough to keep Connie safe? Just how far will Buford go to get rid of her?

“Great book, read it through in one sitting since I couldn’t put it down.  Very real, strong characters, and satisfying ending. An easy book to recommend.” – Terry Burns, author of The Badge and the Bible series and The Sheriff.

CHECK OUT THE BOOK TRAILER!
VOLUME ONE IN THE REDWOOD SERIES: Postmark from the Past  
In November 1989, Emily Patterson is enjoying a quiet life in West Texas. She lives in the same house she grew up in, has a great job, and good friends. But emptiness nips at her heart. Then a red envelope appears in her mailbox. It’s a letter from Mark who declares his love for her, and promises to come to her if he makes it home alive. But who is Mark? She flips the envelope over, but there is no return address and it is postmarked 1968. Over the next few days more letters mysteriously appear in her mailbox and odd things start happening. Is someone playing a cruel joke? Her friends say it is the season for miracles. As Emily seeks to solve the mystery, can she risk her heart to find a miracle in the Postmark from the Past?

CLICK TO PURCHASE 

Vickie Phelps writes to encourage, inspire, and influence. She has published 200 articles, devotionals, and essays in more than fifty magazines and contributed to several anthologies. Vickie is the author of the novels, Postmark From the Past, Moved, Left No Address, Waiting for Joy, and a devotional book, Psalms for the Common Man. Vickie is coauthor with Jo Huddleston of the gift book, Simply Christmas, and Writing 101: A Handbook of Tips & Encouragement for Writers. 

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