Excerpt: GAIJIN COWGIRL: A Val Benson Thriller by Jame DiBiasio

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Aboutthebook

Working Tokyo nightclubs is easy money for beautiful and troubled American Val Benson – until a wealthy client with a dark past – reluctantly gives up a map to a stash of Japanese war loot and tempts his favourite girl into a dangerous treasure hunt.
But the Congressman’s daughter is not the only one interested in the map: Yakuza, bent cops, human traffickers, rogue CIA agents and her father are hot on her trail, snapping at her high heels.

So begins the dark, epic journey of a new anti-hero of Asian Noir, a protagonist both ambiguous and courageous, and utterly unreliable. From comfort women and tomb-raiding in Japanese-occupied Burma to the murderous echoes of the Vietnam War, long forgotten crimes come roaring back to life, as Val leaves a trail of destruction and chaos in her wake.

Together with her best friend, the equally unreliable nightclub hostess Suki, a British kickboxer and a washed up Australian treasure hunter, Val travels through Tokyo, Hong Kong and Bangkok to the Thai-Burmese borderlands for a dramatic showdown with her pursuers. Finding the treasure before someone less deserving does is her only hope for survival, and perhaps redemption.

Gaijin Cowgirl by American writer Jame DiBiasio is a breathless page turner with a beautiful, dangerous heroine to match.

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Excerpt

Gaijin Cowgirl Chapter One

 

abouttheauthor

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Jame DiBiasio is the author of thrillers “Gaijin Cowgirl” (Crime Wave Press) and “Bloody Paradise” (Water Street Crime), as well as the non-ficiton “The Story of Angkor” (Silkworm Books). He is based in Hong Kong. Visit him at www.jamedibiasio.com.

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Guest Post: PULLING OFF A POLARIZING CHARACTER by Melissa Chambers

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Writers want our heroes and heroines to be likable so our readers will attach to them and root for them. We can give them all sorts of characters quirks like type-A personalities, neuroticism, perpetual clumsiness, etc., all treated in a lovable and forgivable way. But every once in a while, it’s fun to challenge ourselves with a heroine who may be tougher to like.

One of my favorite examples of an unlikable character carrying a book is Darcy in Emily Giffin’s Something Blue. We met Darcy in book one, Something Borrowed. (Remember the movie? Kate Hudson played Darcy.) Darcy is the obnoxious best friend in book one who always gets everything she wants, including the guy who Rachel (our lovable heroine) has feelings for. Book one ends with Darcy losing everything she held dear, so book two starts us out with Darcy pissed off, resentful, and downtrodden. She’s not at all the kind of girl I would ever typically see myself connecting with, but I did right from page one. It probably didn’t hurt that I’d read a couple of Ms. Giffin’s books and knew that I was in good hands with this author.

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When I set out to write book one in my Before Forever series, I went with a heroine who was shy and awkward. We learn right in the first chapter that Chloe has been through a serious situation that is easy to sympathize with. She has a best friend who outshines her in every way possible, and a tense, almost cringe-worthy situation with her father. She’s sweet and polite, but not overthetop precious. So out the gate, I set myself up for a likable and endearing heroine that the reader would hopefully want to root for. My job from that point was to not screw it up.

However, in book two, my challenge was much greater. Jenna Quigley, Chloe’s best friend, couldn’t be more opposite. Extrovert doesn’t begin to cover it. She’s confident, talented…just placed eighth on the fictional show America’s Newest Sensation (think The Voice or America’s Got Talent), and is ready to take on the world. She’s also a little self-absorbed, but fiercely loyal and encouraging to Chloe. I heard mixed reviews of what readers from book one thought about Jenna. Some loved her to pieces while she rubbed others the wrong way, which honestly, was the job of her character in that book. Chloe needed to break out of her shell, and I wanted to pair her with a best friend who would make her life uncomfortable to help her do that.

So my challenge with making Jenna a likable, relatable heroine of her own story was quite large. I had to show the reader that what Jenna portrays on the outside may not always reflect what’s going on in her head. Additionally, I wanted readers to see that life at home wasn’t always hearts and flowers for her, as one may think when they saw how close she was with her dad. I also needed to pair her with a hero who was going to constantly call her out on her crap and set her firmly in her place, helping her gain perspective and learn some things about herself by the time the book came to an end.

I had so much fun writing Jenna. She’s so opposite from me, so I was able to sort of try on a different personality in writing her. I would keep on writing her if someone would let me! But alas, there are different characters banging away at my brain, begging for their stories to come out.

Characters need flaws, because none of us are perfect. Seriously flawed characters need high arcs and plenty of time for redemption (which may be why this book ended up a little on the long side!). Sometimes the job of a polarizing character may be to get us out of our comfort zones. I know Jenna got me out of mine!

 

 

Aboutthebook

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The second Jenna Quigley turns eighteen, she’s headed to L.A. to extend the timer on her fifteen minutes of fame. Too bad her dad made her promise to graduate high school first. Silver lining? Her new school has a serious talent competition with a $25,000 cash prize, which would go a long way in L.A. Jenna’s got plenty of talent—she didn’t almost win America’s Newest Sensation for nothing. But it’ll take everything she’s got to bring down the music nerd with a stick up his butt…no matter how cute he is in those glasses.

Miles Cleveland needs to win that talent contest. When some hot girl stole his audition spot on America’s Newest Sensation, his chance to study music flounced off to New York with her. Now, not only can he win enough money to pay for his education, he can get revenge on that very same girl. He can’t start to question his plan, though…no matter how deep Jenna buries into his heart.

 

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abouttheauthor

 

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Melissa Chambers writes contemporary novels for young, new, and actual adults. A Nashville native, she spends her days working in the music industry and her nights tapping away at her keyboard. While she’s slightly obsessed with alt rock, she leaves the guitar playing to her husband and kid. She never misses a chance to play a tennis match, listen to an audiobook, or eat a bowl of ice cream. (Rocky road, please!) She’s a member of RWA and serves as the president elect for the Music City Romance Writers. She is the author of The Summer Before Forever and Falling for Forever (Entangled Teen).

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Review: BLOOD OATH by Melissa Lenhardt – Badlands Blog Tour

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BADLANDS
Sawbones, Book 3
by
MELISSA LENHARDT
!!NEW RELEASE!!
  Genre: Historical / Western / Action-Adventure / Romance
Publisher: Redhook
Date of Publication: June 27, 2017
Number of Pages: 416

Outlander meets post-Civil War unrest in the conclusion to Melissa Lenhardt’s fast-paced historical series.

Laura’s worst fears have been realized: Kindle has been taken into custody and she is once again on the run. The noose awaits her in New York, but Laura is realizing that there are some things worse than death. Finally running out of places to hide, it may be time for Dr. Catherine Bennett to face her past.
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I was eager to get my hands on this after having read the author’s first book in the series, SAWBONES.
I was not disappointed. Lenhardt’s writing is raw, gritty and doesn’t hold back.
As the story begins, Laura and Kindle are on the run again.  Their path has been wrought with death and violence, and they are running away from what has happened as much as the Army and bounty hunters.  Life in 1800’s frontier wasn’t easy and the author captures the sense of danger and desperation these characters faced and holds no punches.
Lenhardt really knows how to put her characters through the wringer!  Just about the time you think you’ve figured out what’s about to happen, she rips the story open and twists it in a whole new, white-knuckled direction.  So I guess I don’t need to tell you that I’ve already started BADLANDS, Book 3 in the series.  I’ve got to know how this all works out and if our hero and heroine get their day in the sun.
I highly recommend this book to lovers of historical mystery/thrillers and love the frontier setting.  Even though you don’t HAVE to read the first book, SAWBONES first, I recommend you do, or you’ll miss out on the tension and conflict at the beginning of the story.

Melissa Lenhardt is the author the Jack McBride mystery series, as well as the Laura Elliston historical fiction series. Her debut mystery, STILLWATER, was a finalist for the 2014 Whidbey Writers’ MFA Alumni Emerging Writers Contest, and SAWBONES, her historical fiction debut, was hailed as a “thoroughly original, smart and satisfying hybrid, perhaps a new subgenre: the feminist Western” by Lone Star Literary Life. A lifelong Texan, she lives in the Dallas area with her husband and two sons.

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Guest Post: What is Noir? by Elka Ray

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As an author, editor and avid reader, I’m excited to have been invited to write a guest post for The Librarian Talks.

My name’s Elka Ray. I write crime fiction, mystery, suspense and noir.

If you’re like me, up until fairly recently, I didn’t actually know what noir was. So I’m going to explain it today.

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Noir is the French word for Black – which is a clue. There stories are not about rainbows and unicorns – it’s a dark genre.

Noir has its roots in the hard-boiled private eye stories of the 1920s – you know the kind – gritty tales of violence, murder, dirty cops and dangerous dames.

What sets noir apart from those hardboiled PI stories is the main character – in those old PI stories, while the world around them is grim, you know the hero’s a good guy trying to do the right thing. That is not the case in noir. In noir, you’re not really sure if the lead is a good person. Can they justify what they’re doing? Maybe. Is it morally right? That’s trickier to answer.

It’s this moral ambiguity that defines noir.

My latest book – Saigon Dark – is noir and follows a woman who – faced with tragedy – makes a terrible choice. She’s not necessarily a bad person – but she is selfish, isolated and deceitful.

In noir, the main character is often cynical and self destructive. A modern day example would be Gone Girl – you just can’t trust the main point of view. Or The Girl on the Train. The main character is not doing herself any favors.

Another great example of a contemporary noir author is Dennis Lehane. In Live by Night, for example, he leaves you questioning whether a gangster can be a good person.

If you want your stories to be black and white – with a happily ever after ending – noir is not for you. But if you like mysteries that are complex and thought-provoking, give this genre a try.

You can find my latest book – Saigon Dark from Crimewave Press – on amazon. Or visit me at elkaray.com – Happy reading!

abouttheauthor

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Elka Ray is a UK/Canadian author and illustrator based in Hoi An, Vietnam. The author of one novel, Hanoi Jane, Elka also writes and draws an expanding series of children’s books about Southeast Asia, including Vietnam A to Z, 123 Vietnam! and The Warrior Queens.

For adults, Elka focuses on crime fiction and mysteries. Her short stories have appeared in Monsoon’s Crime Scene Asia: Asia’s Best Crime Fiction 2014 (Hong Kong); New Asian Fiction (India) 2013 and Lontar: The Journal of Southeast Asian Speculative Fiction (Singapore) 2014. Her travel writing has run in a wide range of publications, including Fodor’s, Forbes, Executive Traveller and Persimmon Asian Arts. Elka holds a Canadian degree in Journalism and Asian Studies and a Canadian diploma in Creative Writing. She has a sporty husband and two kids, works as a magazine editor, and has an author’s site at www.elkaray.com.

When Elka’s not writing or drawing, she’s in the ocean.

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Check out her introduction video here

Aboutthebook

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SAIGON DARK

Good and bad. Life and death. Some choices aren’t black and white.

A grief-stricken young mother makes a rash decision, then spends the next decade living a lie. She’s rebuilt her life and is starting to feel safe when she gets a note: ‘I know what you did’.
Can she save her daughter from her dark secret?
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Excerpt

Saigon Dark

by Elka Ray

Black and white. Life and death. She made a choice. Can she live with it?

~~~

I am on a Ferris wheel by the sea, in the tropics. Although it’s dark, it’s still hot. A warm breeze lifts my hair and pushes the night’s smells into my nose. I can smell salt, woodsmoke and frangipani flowers, plus the irresistible scent of Vinh, a mix of warm skin, tobacco and cinnamon. The lights of distant squid-fishing boats sparkle on the horizon.

Vinh has both arms around me, shielding me. We are laughing. Our carriage rises and stops to allow more passengers onboard, sways a little. This is repeated: rise, stop, sway. But each time, I’m caught off guard, that heady mix of anticipation, excitement and unease, deep down in my belly.

When the last carriage is full we glide upwards, smoothly. Down below, the town’s lights twinkle. There are more diamond-lit boats out at sea. Vinh pulls me even closer and begins to kiss me.

I have never been happier. I have everything I want and yet the best is still to come. I am heavy with fulfilment and buoyant with anticipation. We glide higher, Vinh’s long fingers twisting in my hair. The carriage sways a little.

And then we are at the top, poised, and everything changes. That warm, salty breeze turns cool. I smell decay instead of flowers. My heart plummets. I will fall. I know this with total certainty, the way you know a dropped stone won’t float. It’s a natural law. It’s the order of things.

I start to twist away, frantically, but Vinh has a hold on me. Just before he throws me out, I wake up.

The dream is always the same. I wake up screaming.

Part 1: Ho Chi Minh City

April 9th, 2005

I’m woken by the sound of breaking glass. A woman screams. It’s the neighbours, again. A boy—one of the older kids—yells, and a younger child starts to sob. I roll over. If only it would stop. Their youngest is smaller than my daughter.

Tired as I am, I know sleep is impossible. How can I sleep when the kids next door are being tortured? Without turning on the light I walk to the window. A row of trees hides their shack from view. I can hear the dad yelling. I want to punch him. But given that I’m five foot one, it wouldn’t help. Another bottle shatters.

Even with the aircon full-blast, I’m sweating. April in Saigon. The hot season. I press my forehead against the glass. My yard lies dark. The child’s cries are louder now. I think of Evie.

The man bellows. While my Vietnamese isn’t perfect, I can understand this obscenity. He’s calling his wife a fucking whore. I unlatch my window. “Stop it!” I yell. “I’m going to call the police!” I wish my voice sounded tougher, without that waver in it.

For a moment there’s silence. But then the guy yells back. “Mind your own business you foreign traitor slut!”

I lean back. While this insult shouldn’t matter, it does, for some reason. I left Vietnam at the age of three, on an overloaded boat. I was lucky to end up in the States. Behind the trees, I can hear the woman sob. I slam my window shut.

What am I doing here?

For a moment, I think of calling Vinh. But what good would that do? Why would he help with this when he’s made it clear he wants nothing to do with us? He’s never even seen his own daughter.

I sit on the bed, fighting the urge to cry. Should I call the police? Would they even come? But then I remember my maid’s warning: The family next door are squatters, landless peasants come to Saigon from the countryside. The authorities would just evict them. Then where would they go—that small, thin woman with her thin dark children and her alcoholic asshole of a husband? I make a fist, feeling angry and helpless.

I’ve just gotten back into bed when my phone rings. My bedside clock glows 2:14. My heart rate picks up again. Is it about my mom? Or an emergency at the hospital? A ringing phone in the middle of the night is never good news. Unless it’s Vinh, calling to say sorry. I take a deep breath, absurdly hopeful. “Hello?”

Lily?” It’s Yna, my best friend in Seattle. Just from the way she says my name, I know everything is fine.

“Yna,” I say. “It’s two in the morning.”

“Oops.” There’s apause. “Sorry.” She doesn’t sound sorry at all. “I guess I got the time difference wrong.”

I met Yna at the University of Washington, where we all went to med school. She and Vinh were the stars of our class, the ones everyone wanted to be–or jump into bed with. During the time Vinh and I specialised as surgeons, Yna did an MBA at Stanford. She just got a new job, managing some investment fund. “Is it something important?” I try to keep the irritation out of my voice. Brilliant as she is, Yna is a ditz—and details like time differences mean nothing to her. Like my ex-husband, she barely needs sleep.

“What’s up with you?” she says. “You sound upset, Li.”

For a moment, I consider telling her about the guy next door, how he beats his wife and kids. How helpless I feel. But how could Yna understand? She lives in the kind of gated community where people call security if neighbours play loud music after 9pm. I can picture her now. Sharp black bob. Size nothing suit. Smart, successful and beautiful.

“I’m just tired,” I say. “It’s been a long week. I’ve been working double shifts. “

“How’s Evie?”

I fight back a sigh. I don’t want to talk about Evie, especially not now. “She’s fine,” I say. “Look, I need to work early, Na, so I’d better get some sleep.”

“The Evergreen Clinic is looking for a plastic surgeon. I told Harvey you might be interested. They have a lot of paediatric patients–“

“I’m not interested,” I say.

“But it’s a great place to work,” says Yna. “Great neighbourhood. Not far from a good school.”

“Yna,” I say. “I’m not ready to leave.”

Throughout our conversation, I’ve heard her tapping on a keyboard. Multitasking. The tapping now stops. “But why?” she says. I can hear the mystification in her voice.

Why indeed? Although I was born in Saigon, I never felt any desire to return. I came because of Vinh, who was raised in an orphanage in Go Vap, then got a full scholarship to study in Seattle. He wanted to go home, said he wanted to give back. Like a fool, I believed him.

“Lily?”

I realise I’ve been lost in thought, trying to work out why Vinh changed. Or didn’t he change? I rub my eyes. It’s a waste of energy thinking about my ex. And it makes my stomach hurt. I take a deep breath. “It’s interesting work,” I say. “Meaningful work. Kids without access to modern medicine. Kids with facial tumours and cleft palates. I…I’m doing god things here, Na.”

She sounds unmoved. “Those problems exist here too.”

“I know,” I say. But I also know that the bulk of my work at the Evergreen Clinic would be cosmetic. “I ah, I like it here.” This comes out sounding lame, as it should, since the truth is, I don’t like it here. The real reason I’m staying, which I can’t even explain to myself, let alone Yna, is that being here helps distract me from my failed marriage. If I were back in the States, and back in real life, I’d feel even more humiliated. Everyone I know knew Vinh. They all loved him. How can I explain he was Jekyll and Hyde, the perfect husband back in the States, then AWOL in Saigon’s sleazy bar scene?

These thoughts are interrupted by a child’s scream in the shack next door. My grip on the phone tightens.

“Lily? Are you still there?” From Yna’s somber tone, I know what’s coming next. We’ve had this conversation before. “It’s time you came home,” she says. “Why would you want to deal with this on your own? Has Vinh even seen her yet? Are you still hoping to work it out with him? Two epileptic fits in three months!” Her voice has risen. “She needs medical care they don’t have over there. What tests are you running? Lily? Can you hear me?”

I’m tempted to hang up. I can call her tomorrow and say we were cut off. Instead, I take a deep breath. I know Yna means well. She was charmed by Vinh too, his dark dazzle. She’s almost as bewildered as I am.

I take a deep breath. “I’m a physician,” I say. “And I’m her mom. I’m on top of things, Yna.”

I can hear her sigh. “I hope so,” she says. “I just… You’re so far away. First, everything with Vinh, and now Evie. I feel helpless. It’s like…like bad luck over there.” She gives a nervous laugh. “You know what I’m saying?”

“Evie will be fine,” I say. I have to believe this. “How’s Sofia?”

Sofia is Yna’s baby, conceived after four rounds of IVF. Her voice lifts. “She’s great, Lily. Six months old and already sitting up.” I try to pay attention as she fills me in on Sofia’s latest achievements. But I’m tired. She must realise she’s been rambling because she says: “Wait. It’s the middle of the night. I should let you sleep.”

“Good night Na.”

“Yeah, sleep tight. Don’t let the bed bugs bite.” I hang my head. Vinh and I used to say that to each other. How could he have left me when I was eight months pregnant?

Only after I’ve hung up do I notice that next door, all lies quiet. No yelling. No crying. I guess that bastard passed out.

I wish he’d choke to death on his own vomit.

Guest Post: Karen Witemeyer, author of Heart on the Line

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HEART ON THE LINE
Ladies of Harper’s Station #2
by
Karen Witemeyer
  Genre: Christian / Historical / Frontier Romance
Publisher: Bethany House
Date of Publication: June 6, 2017
Number of Pages: 336
Scroll down for Giveaway!
 

Grace Mallory is tired of hiding. She hungers for a normal life, perhaps even a suitor like two of her friends in Harper’s Station have found. But when the man she believes responsible for her father’s death discovers her whereabouts, survival takes priority.

Amos Bledsoe prefers bicycles to horses and private conversations over the telegraph wire to social gatherings with young ladies who see him as nothing more than an oddity. His fellow telegrapher, the mysterious Miss G, has been the ideal companion. For months, their friendship—dare he believe, courtship?—over the wire has fed his hope that he has finally found the woman God intends for him. However, when he intercepts an ominous message and discovers her life is in peril, Amos must shed the cocoon of his quiet nature to become the hero Grace requires.

PRAISE FOR HEART ON THE LINE:
“Witemeyer blends history, suspense, and romance with touches of humor. Women will enjoy this story that proves heroes come in unexpected shapes and sizes and not always on a white charger.”Christian Market

“Online dating meets 1890s Texas in this charming, spiritually deep, laugh-out-loud funny romance!”—reader review on Goodreads
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Ten Fun Facts about Karen Witemeyer
  1. I live next door to my in-laws . . . and LOVE it! From built-in day care for the kids when they were smaller to easy family meals together, to shared grills and shared newspaper subscriptions, having my husband’s family move in next door a decade ago was an unexpected blessing.
  2. I once lost the diamond out of my wedding ring only to find it a week later (after searching everywhere at home and at work) when I pulled a tissue out of my bathroom tissue box. Somehow the stone had fallen into the box and when I pulled out a new tissue, I heard a tinkling sound and found the diamond on the Guest Post 2 Image 1counter. Never have I thanked God more for a runny nose!
  3. My oldest child (my only daughter) graduated from high school last year on my 45th birthday. No, I didn’t feel old or anything (OK, maybe a little). I was too proud listening to her valedictorian speech. Smart and sassy, just the way I like my heroines.
  4. I have a black thumb. Well, not literally. In respect to plants. I have a tendency to kill the majority of plants that have had the misfortune to come home with me. A few hearty ones have survived, like the aloe vera plant in the kitchen window that continues to survive despite my best efforts to do it in. And the roses on the side of the house have managed to pull through despite a run in with some sort of blight last year. I should post a sign on my back door that says, “If you contain chlorophyll, enter at your own risk.”
  5. My favorite animal is the hippopotamus. When I was in junior high, one of my friends and I decided we were going to have unique favorite animals. No cats or dogs for us. She selected the armadillo and I selected the hippo. When I was 16, I took a mission trip to Kenya, and was so excited to see my favorite animal in his natural habitat. I’ve been hooked ever since. This year for Christmas, my hubby got me a hippopotamus shirt and socks. Fun new outfit!Guest Post 2 Image 2
  6. I’ve ridden a mule in Bryce Canyon, swum with sea turtles in Maui, and when I was young and stupid, held a 13 pound boa constrictor around my neck. I recommend the first two but not the third.
  7. I was a band nerd all through junior high and high school but switched to choir in college because of the boy I was dating. Ended up marrying that fella, and now we have our own harmonizing quintet on the church pew every Sunday. Love it! (Though, I’m raising band nerds at the same time. My daughter plays my old flute, my older son plays the French horn, and my youngest plays the trumpet.)
  8. I don’t drink coffee. Ever. I know, I know. It’s shameful. Coffee’s supposed to be the elixir of life, right? Especially for writers. But I never developed a taste for it. I prefer a simple cup of Lipton hot tea sweetened with honey. Mmmmm.
  9. Whenever I have free time (a very RARE commodity), I love to cross stitch. Here’s a set of simple cameo silhouettes I made for my editors a couple years ago for Christmas.Guest Post 2 Image 3
  10. Even though I write historical romance, I hated history classes in school. Math was more my style. Maybe it was because my teachers always seemed to be coaches that got stuck in the history classroom, or maybe it was because all the textbooks emphasized wars and politics. Boring. Yet I loved historical novels. Little House on the Prairie, Anne of Green Gables, THAT was the history I fell in love with. So when you read one of my novels today, you won’t find a plot that centers around war or political intrigue or even key historical events. No, my books are focused on people and the lesser known, yet meaningful aspects of life in 19th century that shaped their lives and their loves.
 
Winner of the HOLT Medallion and the Carol Award and a finalist for the RITA and Christy Award, bestselling author Karen Witemeyer writes historical romance to give the world more happily-ever-afters. Karen makes her home in Texas, with her husband and three children. 

 





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The Unstuck Story of THE WALLS AROUND US

Wednesday Writing Inspiration from Nova Ren Suma

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Paperback Release Day! The Walls Around Us available in paperback March 22!


THE WALLS AROUND US is now available in paperback! Here we are in the woods of the Djerassi Resident Artists Program in California. THE WALLS AROUND US is now available in paperback! Here we are in the woods of the Djerassi Resident Artists Program in California, where I’m away leading writing workshops the day this post goes up!

Once upon a time, there was a writer who was filled with doubt and questioning her every move. She was stuck. She had published three books, but now that she was facing what would be the fourth she didn’t know what to write or how to write it. She thought for sure she should try to be more commercial and relevant and give people what they wanted from her, if only she could figure out what that might be (???!!!???). She worried about all of these things until she worried herself into a stupor. And before her, staring back with ugly intensity…

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Sneak Peak: HITCHIN’ POST by Julie Barker

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HITCHIN’ POST
by
Julie Barker
 Genre: Children’s Picture Book / Rhyming / K-3
Publisher: LifeRich Publishing
Date of Publication: July 14, 2016
Number of Pages: 46
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Hard work and the cowboy life on the 6Bs Ranch is nothing new to old jackrabbit Hitchin’ Post.  Hitchin’ Post is a picture book written in rhyme describing old Hitch’s life on the 6Bs Ranch and his journey in finding what it truly means to be thankful.  His beloved ranch goes through a terrible drought, but Hitch decides that despite challenges, there is always something to be thankful for. He discovers that it is relationships with his friends and his beloved ranch that makes him feel rich.

 

 

PRAISE FOR HITCHIN’ POST:
**2017 North Texas Book Festival Honorable Mention award*
Wonderfully told with beautiful, rustic illustrations. — Emily-Jane Hills Orford, Readers’ Favorite 
I can’t wait to share this book with my granddaughters! –- Amy, Goodreads Review
Hitchin’ Post is the most adorable story with the best illustrations! We love, love, love it!!! Cory, Amazon Verified Customer
PURCHASE LINKS:
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Hitchin Post image
 
Julie Barker was born and raised in west Texas, and currently resides in Quanah, Texas, with her husband and three children.  She maintained her west Texas roots into college when she attended Texas Tech University in Lubbock, receiving a degree in social work.  Julie has grown up surrounded by the ranching heritage, and felt drawn to share this way of life through the adventures of the little cowboy jackrabbit, Hitchin’ Post.  Hitchin’ Post marks Julie’s debut into the world of children’s literature.  She was fortunate to have her mother, artist Carolyn Altman, provide the cute, whimsical illustrations of old Hitch and the 6Bs, making this project extra special.
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1st Place Winner receives an eBook AND a Signed Print Copy
4 Runners-Up each have a choice of eBook OR Signed Print Copy
June 26-July 6, 2017
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CHECK OUT THE OTHER GREAT BLOGS ON THE TOUR:
6/26
Review
6/27
Sneak Peek
6/28
Excerpt
6/29
Review
6/30
Character Interview
7/1
Scrapbook Page
7/2
Promo
7/3
Review
7/4
Cover Reveal
7/5
Review
   
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Special Preview: Educator’s Guide to THE ELDRIDGE CONSPIRACY by Don M. Winn

 BNR Sir Kaye 4 PNG
THE ELDRIDGE CONSPIRACY
Sir Kaye the Boy Knight, Book 4
by
Don M. Winn
  Genre: Children’s Chapter Book / Adventure / Medieval
Publisher: Progressive Rising Phoenix Press
Date of Publication: June 16, 2017
Number of Pages: 166, B&W illustrations
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Cover med res SK4.jpg
Kaye’s father is in danger! The young knight, Kaye, and his friends Reggie and Beau enter Eldridge in search of the only man who can save Kaye’s father. During their journey, they encounter and make a powerful enemy of Baron Thomas—the self-proclaimed heir to the throne of Eldridge—who also has his sights set on ruling the country of Knox. Together, the boys dodge the baron’s henchmen and race against time to stop an assassination that would plunge the two kingdoms into war in this exciting conclusion to the series.

PRAISE FOR THE ELDRIDGE CONSPIRACY:
“This set of books just gets better and better. Yes, it’s a non-stop adventure, packed full of nasty barons and battling knights. But it’s also a story which is strongly-themed and where the bond between the characters is highly prized.” —The Wishing Shelf Awards Book Review

“Books of adventure and challenge that still offer an emotional component are hard to come by for middle-grade readers—and even more so for middle-grade boys—yet Don M. Winn hits the mark dead center with The Eldridge Conspiracy.” —Patricia Reding, 5-Star Readers’ Favorite Book Review
“This is more than just a fictional story; it teaches children about life, about friendship, making decisions, and about not putting too much stock in pride all the time – sometimes pride gets in the way of making the right decision. Great story. I would recommend that the whole series be read in order to get the most out of it and I think all kids will enjoy this tale.” —Ann-Marie Reynolds, 5-Star Readers’ Favorite Book Review

“The Eldridge Conspiracy was a rewarding read due to a wonderful writing style of incorporating dynamic characters, humor, relevancy, and the thought that even without superpowers, children can be heroes.” —Stacey Waltzer, Urban Mommies 
PURCHASE LINKS:
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Sir Kaye Series Study Guide

A complete classroom study guide is now available for the entire Sir Kaye series on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online retailers. The Sir Kaye Study Guide is also available directly from the publisher (Progressive Rising Phoenix Press) for schools that order the Sir Kaye books for the classroom.

This comprehensive study guide contains teaching materials for all four of the Sir Kaye the Boy Knight books. The classroom lessons help students improve reading comprehension, build vocabulary, and expand their writing skills. This study guide also includes fascinating supplementary historical material to help students get a feel for what life was like in the Middle Ages.

Study Guide Summary for Book 3, Legend of the Forest Beast:

Sir Kaye the Boy Knight Book Three: Legend of the Forest Beast is an adventurous installment in the series portraying complex and relatable characters while teaching kids that they are capable of great things. The story and lesson plan teach the importance of humility while challenging students’ creative and objective writing skills. Beginning with fun trivia to test reading comprehension, the lesson plan also provides activities to help students create their own fictional characters and questions to stimulate comprehensive classroom discussions about what humility looks like in contemporary life. Vocabulary activities help students understand the story and improve dictionary and writing skills.

Study Guide Sample from Legend of the Forest beast:

Introduction to a Main Theme: Humility

Throughout the story, there are many times when the characters have to do embarrassing things or things that make them seem smaller or less important in order to accomplish their goals.

Ask the class if they can think of any examples of this: i.e., Kaye riding a donkey instead of Kadar; Kaye being called Sir Donkey; Kaye having to deal with the villagers making up mean songs about him; Reggie having to dye his hair; Reggie being called Ugly; Reggie working in the kitchen and as a page for Sir Bragwayne

Ask the class if they know what is it called when you lower your own importance to get the job done.

Introduce class to the word and definition: Humility – lowering your own importance to get the job done, not proud : not thinking of yourself as better than other people

Ask the class if they can think of any examples of what might have happened if the characters hadn’t practiced humility: i.e., Kaye would have never made it out of Castle Forte without riding Grumble; Reggie wouldn’t have gotten into Bragwayne’s manor without dyeing his hair and working in the kitchen;

Ask students for examples of times they have practiced humility or could in the future: i.e., When their little sister wants to play dress up and put crazy makeup all over their faces; When they are playing sports and have to play a different position than what they want

Activity: Royal Chronicler

At Castle Forte, Reggie has been given the job of the Royal Chronicler, which means he has to write about everything that happens so no one will forget the adventures of Kaye, Reggie, and Beau. Today, give students the chance to document the goings-on of the class. Have the kids go out to playground to play, or even just do activities in the room for ten to fifteen minutes. Then have them write a few sentences about what happened. Don’t forget to ask if anyone would like to share their work with the class when everyone is finished.

Vocabulary Activity

Have students select 1-3 words (depending on time restraints) from the vocabulary list, and ask them to write original sentences using the words. Then, ask students to share their sentences (preferably one for each vocabulary word) with the rest of the class, either by writing it on the board or reading it out loud

 

Don M. Winn is a multiple award-winning children’s author of eleven picture books and four children’s novels. His Sir Kaye the Boy Knight® series of novels for independent readers include The Knighting of Sir Kaye, The Lost Castle Treasure, Legend of the Forest Beast, and The Eldridge Conspiracy. Don’s picture books include The Higgledy-Piggledy Pigeon; Superhero; Twitch the Squirrel and the Forbidden Bridge; Shelby the Cat; Space Cop Zack, Protector of the Galaxy; and many others. 

Don has been writing for over 20 years. After beginning with poetry, Winn moved on to writing children’s picture books. Almost immediately, his growing young readers begged for chapter books, which led to the creation of the Sir Kaye series. As a dyslexic, who well knows the challenge of learning to love to read, Winn’s goal is to write books that are so engaging they will entice even the most reluctant or struggling reader. Winn lives in Round Rock, Texas.

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  June 14-June 28, 2017
CHECK OUT THE OTHER GREAT BLOGS ON THE TOUR:
6/14
Book Trailer
6/15
Review
6/16
Guest Post 1
6/17
Review
6/18
Author Interview
6/19
Excerpt
6/20
Review
6/21
Scrapbook Page 1
6/22
Guest Post 2
6/23
Review
6/24
Character Interview
6/25
Educators’ Special
6/26
Review
6/27
Scrapbook Page 2
6/28
Review

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Blogger Recognition Award

I was nominated by Becca Cahill for the Blogger Recognition Award!

Thanks so much Becca for the recognition of The Librarian Talks.  Blogger love is much appreciated.  You can check out Becca’s blog, and what she’s up to with her writing (sooooo excited about this) at https://beccacahill.blogspot.com/.

Here’s what the Blogger Recognition Award is all about (taken from Ashe from Subliminal Wish‘s blog):

“If you’re not already familiar with the concept, the Blogger Recognition award is just an “award” given to a blogger by another blogger to appreciate and recognize all the hard word that we all put into publishing new content and keeping our websites fresh and updated. Blogging takes quite a bit of work and this is just a small way of showing our fellow bloggers that we all see the effort they put into their little corners of the internet.”

How did I get the award?

I was nominated by Rebecca Cahill for the award.  Becca is an aspiring author, and I’ve been following her journey closely.  I’m super excited to see what she’s writing!!  You should check it out too, at https://beccacahill.blogspot.com/.

How did my blog start?

I started this blog as an extension to my internet radio talk show, The Librarian.  Since I only interviewed romance authors there, I wanted to extend my coverage to all subjects and genres.  A Librarian has to be open and willing to share all kinds of books with potential readers.  So my vision was to stay away from promotional materials, and include interactive posts from authors, librarian, bloggers and writing/publishing professionals.  So far, I’ve really enjoyed the interaction with my guests and readers.

Advice for new bloggers:

Blog about what you love.  Your passion will come through in what you write and share with you audience.  If you have a particular love for one genre or subject, don’t be afraid to concentrate on that.  You WILL find an audience for your blog.  People have widely diverse tastes/likes.  Live it up!  Share, share, share!
Also, cross-post on all the social media outlets.  You’ll find an audience there that you wouldn’t reach otherwise. Engage with other bloggers.  We love to share great content with our audience, even if we borrow it from other bloggers (with attribution, of course). And we all follow back, because blogging is a community.
bloggerrecognition

 

My nominations:

  1. Hall Ways by Kristine Hall. Once a librarian, ALWAYS a librarian!  Kristine blogs about books.  She also runs the Lone Star Literary Life Blog Tours, which features authors who are from Texas, or write about Texas (a matter of the heart for us Texans).
  2. Stephanie’s Book Reports by Stephanie Phillips, et al.  TONS of reviews from these ladies! A great place to find a new book or author to read.  Stephanie also owns the boutique literary agency, SBR Media.
  3. Books and Broomsticks by Belle Whittington. Belle is the author of the Young Adult series, Cicada, set in East Texas (her author website is here – http://www.bellewhittington.com/).  LOVE LOVE LOVE these books! And I love this quirky woman’s blog.
  4. Miss Riki by Riki Cleveland. Book lover and publicist extraordinaire.  Heavy on romance, but I like heavy romance (giggle).
  5. Jami Gold by author Jami Gold.  Jami is a Paranormal Author.  Her website is fantastic, but I am a HUGE follower of her blog, which celebrates its 7th Blogiversary in July!  Check it out for lots of fantastic tips on writing.  I’ve pinned a TON of her posts to my Pinterest – Writing board.
  6. MuseTracks by Jennifer Bray-Weber and Stacey Purcell (with a few others occasionally). Great stuff for writers, including a weekly writing prompt (HUMP DAY KICKSTART) to get your muse talking to you!
  7. History Imagined by Linda Pennell, et al.  If you love historical fiction (like I do), this is a blog filled with fascinating historical tidbits, author interviews, and writing tips.  Get your nerd on!
  8. Now Novel part of the Now Novel Website.  Probably my most “pinned” blog, choc full of excellent writing tips.
  9. Blogging for the Love of Authors and Their Books by Nicole and Kim.  Two ladies, blogging about the books they love from across the pond.  Lots of news on new releases. Lots of romance and YA.
  10. YA Outside the Lines by a dozen plus, fabulous Young Adult Authors.  I can never get away from my YA roots.  LOVE this blog and these authors’ perspective.

 

Nominees – Here’s what you need to do now:

  1. Thank the blogger who nominated you and provide a link to their blog.
  2. Write a post to show your award. Feel free to download the pic above to use on your blog.
  3. Give a brief story of how/why your blog started.
  4. Give two pieces of advice to new bloggers.
  5. Select 10 other bloggers you want to give this award to.
  6. Comment on each blog and let them know you have nominated and provide the link to the post you created.

Review: THE SWIMMING HOLES OF TEXAS

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THE SWIMMING HOLES
OF TEXAS
by
Julie Wernersbach & Carolyn Tracy
  Genre: Travel / Outdoors / Swimming
Publisher: The University of Texas Press
Date of Publication: May 16, 2017
Number of Pages: 240, 100 color photos
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review

A Must-Have, So-Much-More-Than a Guide Book – helping Texan families survive the summer (and learn a little too).

I absolutely loved The Swimming Holes of Texas.  Of course, majoring in geography and being a “fun fact” junkie might make me a bit biased.  The comprehensive information about each location, including historical, geographical and geological information, alongside the wonderful photography, serves the reader so much more deeply than the average “travel guide”.  

As mentioned in the introduction, summers are unbearable here in Texas and free time usually includes finding a way to cool off from the heat.  This book is a fantastic guide to the oasis that is the swimming hole.  Don’t miss the “pro-tips” for insider info (so you don’t get caught with your pants down – literally).  And most importantly, I think, the author stresses the importance of taking care of our natural sites.  Clean up after yourselves so that we leave it for others to use.  Kudos for making sure to reiterate that point.  We love our state, hence the motto, “Don’t Mess with Texas”.

Whether you’re a traveler just visiting, or a family looking for a unique place to have fun, you’ll find something to meet your needs in this book. The photographs are fantastic, capturing the magnificence of these unique places.  No matter where you are in Texas, you’ll find a place not too far away to make a day trip worthwhile.

I highly recommend this book, and will be keeping it handy to find a spot to cool off this summer.

 

Nothing beats a natural swimming hole for cooling off on a scorching summer day in Texas. Cold, clear spring water, big old shade trees, and a quiet stretch of beach or lawn offer the perfect excuse to pack a cooler and head out with family and friends to the nearest natural oasis. Whether you’re looking for a quick getaway or an unforgettable summer vacation, let The Swimming Holes of Texas be your guide.

Julie Wernersbach and Carolyn Tracy highlight one hundred natural swimming spots across the entire state. The book is organized by geographic regions, so you can quickly find local places to swim—or plan a trip to a more distant spot you’d like to explore. Each swimming hole is illustrated with an inviting color photo and a description of what it’s like to swim there, as well as the site’s history, ecology, and conservation. The authors include all the pertinent info about admission fees and hours, parking, and on-site amenities such as showers and restrooms. They also offer tips for planning your trips and lists of the swimming holes that are most welcoming to families and pets.

So when the temperature tops 100 and there’s nothing but traffic in sight, take a detour down the backroads and swim, sunbathe, revel, and relax in the swimming holes of Texas.




Julie Wernersbach, Austin, is the literary director of the Texas Book Festival and a former marketing director at BookPeople, Austin’s largest independent bookstore.
Carolyn Tracy, Austin, is a freelance photographer who works for an animal welfare nonprofit. They are the authors of Vegan Survival Guide to Austin.

Connect with The University of Texas Press:
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  June 8-June 22, 2017
CHECK OUT THE OTHER GREAT BLOGS ON THE TOUR:
6/8
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6/9
Review
6/10
Sneak Peek 1
6/11
Promo
6/12
Review
6/13
Guest Post
6/14
Review
6/15
Sneak Peek 2
6/16
Excerpt
6/17
Review
6/18
Promo
6/19
Sneak Peek 3
6/20
Review
6/21
Promo
6/22
Review

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