Wednesday, May 24, 2017

FEATURED BLOG TOUR: GRAYSON

FAMILY HISTORY, SECRETS, AND RIVALRIES
FIVE STARS!
Families can be complicated enough, but if you mix in race and egotism they become even more so. Grayson explores the connections between mothers and daughters and what daughters don't know about mothers and mothers don't know about daughters. Each character is keeping explosive secrets in this story, from who is whose father and who is actually related to whom and, more interestingly, why the characters are so at odds.

I can't say I enjoyed this book, but I was awed by the Ms. White's ability to make her characters come right off the page. She is a hell of a writer. It was well worth the read for the people in it.
--G. Lloyd Helm

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Buy at: Rogue Phoenix Press, Amazon, Barnes and Noble

COMMENT FOR A CHANCE TO WIN!
The author will give a digital copy of Grayson to one randomly drawn commenter.

AUTHOR BIO
Tamara White is married and lives in Illinois with her husband, children and dogs. She enjoys photography and reading.

Website URL: under construction 
Twitter handle: @twhitebutblack



EXCERPT

Grayson took a moment to soak up the quietness of the afternoon before they headed inside. The country air tickled her nose. Grayson had forgotten how clean air could smell. The sweet smell of the honeysuckle lingered over the slight breeze and settled her stomach as it occupied her lungs. She enjoyed how the crisp air danced on her skin, and brushed away the city of Boston's lingering aroma. Grayson turned her eyes towards the estate she had grown up in, and saw Lakeland in a way she never had before.

The unusually harsh winters over the past few years had abused the hand-made clay shingles and caused a distinct discoloration. The landscaping was neat, but not kept to the same standard it had been when her grandfather was alive. Grayson knew her grandfather would have never allowed the forsythia bushes to expand and move about the grounds freely. He would have demanded the gardeners control the beautifully bright yellow shrubberies and conform them to the Harrow standard. Wild is for the wilderness, Grayson's grandfather would have said. Grayson smiled at the absence of the ancient oak tree she'd fallen out of when she was ten. The enormous oak tree with the giant knock hole had shaded her bedroom, and helped her sneak out when she was sixteen to Elizabeth Brownsworth's end of the year party. The white washed bricks demanded a thorough cleaning, and the cliché, Gone with the Wind pillars pleaded desperately for a fresh coat of cloud white paint. Lakeland looked miserable. It was as if Lakeland knew her final chapter was already written.

"Lakeland is really showing her years." Grayson stared at the midnight black, heavily ornate front door with the bulky lion head doorknocker, and equally obnoxious doorknob she swore she'd never enter again, every time she walked out. Grayson picked up her laptop bag and started her pilgrimage towards her past.
"Relax," David whispered from behind her. "Everything is going to be fine."
Her mother, Vivianna, opened the front door and stood in the archway like a Grand Duchess impatiently awaiting the arrival of her audience. "Grayson, put the bag down!" she snapped in an egotistical tone. "We don't carry our bags. We have them carried. Has city life caused you to abandon your upbringing? Ladies of means do not carry bags."
Five seconds. That's how long it took Grayson to go from a strong, accounting firm executive, to the shy, chocolate-skinned, frizzy haired, correction-shoe girl of her past.
"Mother," Grayson retorted in the stiff flat tone she reserved for addressing Vivianna. "So nice to see―"
"Never mind all that." Vivianna motioned them towards the front door. "Inside quickly. No need for some of us to get any darker than we already are, darling." Vivianna paused in the foyer to admire her creamy beige skin in the mirror before entering the sitting room. She never passed on an opportunity to admire what she perceived as her greatness. "Grayson, I don't see how you're able to endure. I don't know what I would do if my skin was permanently darkened by the sun." The physical differences in Vivianna and Grayson went beyond skin tone. Vivianna was thin in stature. She never had an issue maintaining a hundred and ten pounds on her five foot three frame. Her nose was narrow, her lips thin, and her eyes were almond shaped. People, mostly women, assumed her green eyes were fake, but they were indeed real. Vivianna was everything a color-complex struck Black man found irresistible. She was their must-have. Grayson, on the other hand, possessed curves for days, full lips, and a round face with a button nose to match her high cheekbones. She had the type of body hip-hop artists paid homage to in their lyrics, minus the chocolate-colored skin.
"Come, Grayson ... sit. I want to know how things are going. Was the flight enjoyable? I hope you flew first class. I've heard people in coach can have an odor to them."
Grayson rolled her eyes behind Vivianna's back. And so it begins...


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Buy at: Rogue Phoenix Press, Amazon, Barnes and Noble


ABOUT THE COVER FROM THE AUTHOR
"I love the home you chose and the use of willow trees...I like how it looks!"
--Tamara White

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

FEATURED BLOG TOUR: PERFECT TIMING

BLURB
Caught in a crossfire of bullets, carefree caterer Crik Duvall is accidentally transported to the future.

Vigilante Voltak pursues Crik and his cat-woman guide, Tepper — could she be his great-great-great granddaughter? — to return the “Pastian” runaway before his allotted 24 hours are up.

On the run, Crik seeks clues to prove he was the founder of Geotopia — where buildings grow, people incorporate animal powers, smart phones know it all, and vehicles defy gravity.

If he can prove he was the agent of change who put society on its path toward universal prosperity and harmony with nature, he lives.

If he can not, the future authorities must return Crik to the exact second he left  — when a hail of gunfire bears down on him.


ENTER FOR A CHANCE TO WIN!
The author will be awarding a digital copy of Perfect Timing to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

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AUTHOR BIO 
Jeffery J. Smith’s credits are in nonfiction, being published in both the popular and academic press on “geonomics” (ecological economics). Before switching to fiction, he edited the news site, the Progress Report and contributed regularly to TruthOut. His newsletter, The Geonomist, won a California Greenlight Award. He taught both English and composition and was a graduate scholar in linguistics. An inventor of games and engines, he lives on the West Coast and winters in Latin America, listening to tall tales.

ABOUT THE COVER FROM THE AUTHOR
"I think we may have gotten it as good as it can get, my 'expert' collaborator. Thank you!"
--Jeffery J. Smith

Thursday, May 11, 2017

THROW-BACK THURSDAY: REVISITING OLDER COVERS

I've designed a lot of book covers, most of them for Rogue Phoenix Press. (Thank you, RPP, for giving me the opportunity to do something I love!) I so much enjoy working with authors to come up with a design that conveys their story in one cover image. 

We're doing some work with older books right now, which has triggered memories of great stories I've read and fun I've had working with authors. So in addition to featuring newer releases on this blog, I will occasionally feature an older cover. Hope you enjoy!

This week's featured throw-back-Thursday cover is 
Helping Hand for Ethan. 



I also read this book and rated it with something I seldom do--five stars! This is one of those rare stories that evokes an incredibly peaceful, satisfied feeling every time I think about it. It's labeled "young adult"--not exactly my age range! Yet I have enjoyed a number of young adult books. Perhaps because I've become a prudish old woman and there's an innocence to these stories unlike the no-holds-barred language and situations of other books. Yet this story deals with tough life situations. With tragedy. With risk. And, finally, with believing when there is no logical reason to believe. 
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Wednesday, May 10, 2017

FEATURED BLOG TOUR: TODAY'S SPECIAL

We’re sometimes forced to face impossible circumstances. 
Tom’s story shows why true love 
is the answer to life’s most difficult questions.
FIVE STARS!
Today’s Special touched my heart. 
The book is full of surprises and 
will keep you glued to the page 
until its satisfying conclusion.
--Catherine DePino

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COMMENT FOR A CHANCE TO WIN!
The author will be giving away a digital copy of Today's Special 
to one random commenter.

BLURB
What’s your version of an ordinary day?

For Thomas Danielson, it’s the constant strain of keeping the restaurant he owns from going under. His friends and family depend upon his success but the outlook is dismal. It demands his entire focus until tragedy strikes and his soul-mate is ripped from his arms.

Can Tom recover from the absolute worst event that could possibly happen?

A twist of fate crushes Tom’s world and sends him on a journey of discovery for what’s truly important in life. With guidance from friends, loved ones, and an unassuming chalkboard there just may be some hope in his struggles.

Nothing in life is guaranteed and we are sometimes forced to face the impossible. Tom’s story shows how, even in the darkest times, there is a ray of light shining though the clouds.


AUTHOR BIO
Jonathan Dimmig was born and raised in Buffalo, NY. He earned a BA and MBA from the University of Rochester. After graduating, he worked in the field of Corporate Finance for nearly a decade before quitting his job and moving to Las Vegas to become a professional poker player. In 2014, he won a World Series of Poker event that had almost 8,000 players. Around that same time, he had an unusually vivid dream that inspired him to write "Today’s Special". He hopes the story in this book will impact others as much as it has impacted himself. Jonathan currently resides in Las Vegas, NV. He is often found at the poker tables, playing ice hockey, or working on creative inspirations that can positively impact the world. He can be reached at zpuckman@gmail.com.



Monday, May 8, 2017

NEW COVER REVEAL!

New cover! 
Same zany family!
The third story in
Aunt Maddie's Doggone Misadventures
has a new cover!

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Digital version just 99 cents
for a limited time!

Devastated by grief when her husband was killed, Daphne Madison retreated to the innocent era of the 1950s. With her children now grown and finding their own lives and loves, Daphne decides to trade her poodle skirt for a career. 

With the support of her eccentric family, she stumbles into a world where she isn't sure she wants to live. While helping her sister paint a mural at the homeless shelter, their lives become entwined with residents of the shelter and a stray dog who talks.  

When work on the mural is threatened by the oversized ego of the small-town mayor and his Chihuahua-fearing hired muscle, the homeless residents team up with the town's blue-haired ladies to thwart his villainous plan. 

After losing his wife and all he owned, Brenner Buildman focuses on constructing a new life for his two young children. Helping out at the homeless shelter is temporary. He didn't plan to fall in love or have his precocious son disappear into a time machine hidden by a cloaking device.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

FEATURED BLOG TOUR: A GENTLEMEN'S AGREEMENT

A love story at the time of the Regency 
about an aristocratic family and 
the trials with which they are faced.
4 STARS!!!!
A Gentleman’s Agreement is a period piece 
that takes the reader back to a time 
when a gentleman’s word was just as strong as a contract. 
...A beautifully crafted story...
--Tamara White

COMMENT FOR A CHANCE TO WIN!
The author will give a digital copy of her previous book, Dress With Grace, to one randomly drawn commenter.


About the cover from the author:
"...the cover looks very good, thank you."
--Sheila Sharpless

EXCERPT 
The moon was full that night, shedding its light on the ripples of the tide, as it covered the fine sand in the cove; a beautiful sight, to lovers a backdrop to a romantic evening; to the artist an invitation to capture on canvas that magnificent prospect. Perhaps, for some, it was simply a pleasurable experience. But there are those who shy away from such beauty, preferring to go about their business in the dark.
For the solitary figure standing on the shore, it was everything he did not enjoy, so, as he turned to view Karidan, the wonderful Elizabethan manor house behind him, set in magnificent parklands, and saw every window ablaze with candle light, he cursed under his breath. He knew the extravagance of so many candles meant the Marquis was hosting another party, perhaps a ball with champagne flowing, beautiful, assured ladies in gowns which would, for some, cost the equivalent of six months' food. He smiled to himself. Little did they know.
But, he caught his breath. For all his envy, he knew the Marquis was good to him, always gave him his due, and sometimes more for his wife and children.
Yet, for all that, he knew that it was people like the Marquis and the Marchioness who were the reason why his life was haunted by shadows, why sometimes the vision of the gallows filled his dreams.
Standing alone, Cooper began to think of what he knew of the history surrounding this place. Built during the reign of Henry VIII while he was still married to the tragic Jane Seymour and intended to be the later home of his heir, it was a beautiful building where nothing had been spared. The walls, the windows, the altar in the chapel on the ground floor were all a miracle of workmanship, lined and fluted in gold. The rooms were spacious, light and there were many. Twenty-four bedrooms, seven sitting rooms, the kitchen in the basement of the building was apparently the largest ever designed with the big fireplace holding a spit big enough to cook a whole ox or deer.
It was said, although he doubted it, that during Elizabeth I's reign, she visited Karidan with her entire household when it was sensible to be away from her home for a while, but finding a very poor deer population, she moved to Berkeley Castle where she knew there were many deer. Before she left Karidan she told the Lord that she would send him a number of deer and because she had been so comfortably housed, she would increase his title from Lord of Karidan to the Marquis of Karidan, and the present Marquis was a descendent of this long aristocratic line.
During her stay at the castle, history books tell us, she used her first skill with bow and arrow and, to the horror of the Lord of the castle, she shot thirty-six of his prize deer.
Shaking his head, Cooper returned to the present and banned those thoughts. What did ancestry mean to him anyway?
If he could see inside that house, however, he would indeed be greeted by music, dancers, the well-bred conversation between men and women, the light laughter, characteristic of the young ladies enjoying themselves at their first ball. Among those young ladies were the two daughters of the house and several of their close friends, feeling alternately grown up, sophisticated or overwhelmed, shy. The Lady Cassandra now seventeen, and her sister the Lady Charlotte nearing her sixteenth birthday, were the daughters of the Marquis and the Marchioness, while the Lord Augustus of Sharpfield, a cousin of the Marquis, held sway among friends, the other side of the ballroom. The other young ladies similarly aristocratic, showed little sign of wonder but were obviously enjoying the party, which this time was celebrating Cassandra and Charlotte's Aunt's fiftieth birthday. She was almost a permanent visitor, although she had her own mansion and staff some fifty miles away. She loved her time at Karidan, enjoyed the company, but, although she would never say it within hearing at her home, the Marchioness's cook was infinitely preferable to her own. She looked now at her two beloved nieces, seeing two beautiful young women, smiling and talking animatedly to their friends. She knew the girls' gowns, as had their mother's, been made by Madame Frederica, a French seamstress, who had created many beautiful gowns for the Marchioness and her friends. The young ladies, of course, had all been presented at Court, welcomed by the Prince who definitely approved of pretty young ladies. Not for nothing had he been called The Prince of Pleasure. Her two young nieces had their dance cards, beautifully engraved, hanging from their wrists and were excited but shy as the young men came to claim their dance.
They had each danced before sitting down at their chosen table, when Lady Charlotte nudged her sister, saying, "Who is that lovely young gentleman talking to Augustus? I've never seen him before."
"Well," replied the Lady Cassandra, "I'm surprised you have not met him. His parents own 'Birkham Manor' not far from here. He is Lord Dominic of Birkham. I believe he has been touring Europe after leaving Cambridge, but he has been home for a few weeks I think."
"I wonder what he has been doing with himself. I am sure we should have seen him before this."
Cassandra went on to say that as far as she knew no-one had mentioned him, although maybe her parents knew him because he was here at Karidan at the ball for dear Aunt Agatha. Cassandra remembered that she had heard of his beautiful horse, a black stallion which was, apparently, the envy of all who knew of him.
"Perhaps Papa or Mama knows the family. I'd like to meet him, wouldn't you?" Charlotte asked.
"Yes, I think we'll find out a little more."
It was while these two young ladies were wondering about him that Dominic began his own story to Augustus and Charles. He was laughing as he said, "I had been looking forward to spending three years at Cambridge. Good company, plenty of fun and opportunities. I was not wrong. There were of course obligatory essays and papers, but the tutors were terrific. More like friends than anything. Like us they enjoyed some fun and a drink or two. Quite frankly they were nearer our age than one could have expected. There were rules of course, but only those which kept the College on an even keel. It was suggested that I should take up fencing and I believed that to be a good idea. I had not tried anything like it before, but it really appealed to me; developing muscles I didn't know I had."
Charles interrupted. "I tried that once but I was absolutely useless; no sense of balance. Naturally, I gave it up as a bad job."
"Bad luck, but you should have kept going, it was good fun. Anyway, I was introduced to the professional and he was happy to tell me a bit about the history of the sport and suggested I came to the exercise class the next morning. So, interested but a little perturbed as to what I had let myself in for, I met the like-minded fellows, a pleasant group of men. Firstly, I was given a rope and was told to skip for ten minutes without stopping. That was taxing to start with, but when I managed to get my breath back, I found I had enjoyed it. It gave me a sense of achievement. Despite the effort, I was looking forward to doing it again. The next session, I was told, would be an introduction to how one handles the foil. I felt confident that I could master that. It seemed easy enough. And I really enjoyed the exercise. I knew then that taking up fencing was a good thing. It was great fun and after our strenuous exercises, it was down to the bar for a well-earned beer."
"Well I was wondering when the beer came in."
"Ha, you would, Augustus. I was feeling quite content with my new life in Cambridge. It was amazing how my interest in fencing grew until I was giving up several seminars a week to attend practice and much to my surprise, I was getting quite skilled and becoming stronger and fitter.Although I never imagined I would progress to professional fencing, it gave me more than I had expected including self-confidence and simply an enjoyment of using my body in a way I had never done before and pitting my strength and skill against an opponent.
"But," Dominic continued, "I haven't mentioned Claire. A rather delightful young lady who had taken my eye. She had two excellent character traits. One a great sense of humour and the other enjoyment of any new activity. Her full name was the Right Honourable Lady Claire Phlemorton-Bragg. She told me that her father had just bought her a beautiful Palomino stallion. She had not had the chance to ride him yet but suggested we take a ride together. Happily, I agreed and so it was, a few days later we set off on a cross-country ride. Her horse was very frisky, but she handled him well but unfortunately, at the third jump he refused, throwing his rider into a muddy puddle. She swore that it was my fault and when she saw me laughing at her, she was not at all pleased and that, my friends, was the end of the romance."


Monday, April 24, 2017

FEATURED BLOG TOUR: TORN SPEEDOS!

A “shaggy dog” is a story of less than 1000 words 
that ends on a groan-inducing pun. 
What happens when a guy accused of stealing a type of onion defends himself by saying, “I was only taking a leek”? 
Or at the insect Olympics, where certain bugs hold the stopwatches, because “flies time”? 
That’s when you’re in the world of the “shaggy dog,” a type of story that ends on a funny, if horrible, pun that leaves the reader moaning and groaning...but laughing and eager to be abused by the next distortion of the English language. We have 101 such crimes against the mother tongue in this amusing collection.

COMMENT TO WIN!
The author will be awarding a digital copy of his book, 
Meanwhile Back at the Ranch, to a random commenter. 
Just comment to be entered!

FIVE STARS!
Reviewed by Jeffrey Ross
Five Stars—Funny and Clever! 
This is a fun book for everyone—especially if you love word play and the nuances of the English language! 
Included in the 101 Shaggy Dogs are topics from dictators to dentures to small towns to colonialism and humanitarianism. Each of the 101 stand-alone 1000-word stories (all finely crafted, I might add) end with a word play phrase. 

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AUTHOR BIO 
Elliott Capon has three novels in print: the thoughtful horror story The Prince of Horror, and two funny whodunits that take place in the world of Poverty-Row Hollywood of the 1930s, The Corps Vanishes and Meanwhile Back at the Ranch, the latter two published by Rogue Phoenix Press. He has had stories (and reprints!) in Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, Frostfire Worlds, Disturbed Digest, and the original-story anthologies Zippered Flesh and Uncommon Assassins. He lives with his current wife and as-yet undisowned son.  

Find out more about the author at:

EXCERPT 
Sy Donovan was the biggest man at American International Relief Services ("AIRS" to English speakers; just "RELIEF" to the rest of the world). It wasn't that Sy was a top executive: he was the biggest man in the organization because he was six-five and weighed two hundred and ninety pounds.
RELIEF was a group much like CARE or the Red Cross, which responded to disasters all over the world: floods, famines, fires, plagues, the aftermath of war. RELIEF workers would, pushing aside bureaucrats and the obstructive complaints of tinhorn dictators, literally invade an area in need and set to work. RELIEF had doctors, nurses, engineers, epidemiologists, nutritionists, psychologists, and caring professionals in dozens of other professions, all of whom would, at a moment's notice, drop their regular practices and lives in order to fly halfway or all the way around the world to come to the aid of people who needed help.
Sy Donovan was RELIEF's most active field administrator. He had a working knowledge of medicine, logistics, and most of the other skills possessed by the RELIEF volunteers, but his job was to see that things got done. He was usually on the first plane or helicopter to reach the disaster area, he decided where the medical tents would go up, where the portable latrines would be placed (don't laugh), who would look after the children. With his imposing size and full head of bushy gray hair and Linolnesque beard to match—and blessed with the personality of the offspring of Alexander the Great and a lioness—Sy Donovan backed down from no one. People who "didn't want to" or "couldn't do" something to help, when confronted by the formidable giant, found themselves suddenly very willing and able. Sy Donovan had saved more lives than penicillin.
After a drought of several years, the tiny African nation of Tomalaland was hit by weeks of ferocious rains. The ground had dried to the consistency of concrete and therefore could not absorb the water; flooding was of almost Biblical proportions. Entire towns had been buried under a combination of water, mud, and uprooted trees; two million people found themselves homeless, foodless, clothesless, medicineless, hopeless. The day after the rains stopped, RELIEF got to work. A huge plane was quickly loaded with all the supplies to sustain at least a few thousand people for a few days. Other planes, trucks, and ships were to following within the next few days, but one plane had to get there first. Sy Donovan was, of course, aboard this plane.
In what had once been the capital of Guaziville, and which was now a sea of muck and debris, five thousand weary people made their way to the remains of the airport to await this lifebringing plane. The airport's single working radio was in contact with the plane, and the soldiers nursing the radio had found enough dry wire and undamaged equipment left over to hook the radio up to loudspeakers so that everyone present could share the joyful anticipation of the arrival of their saviors.
Unfortunately, the storms were not quite finished; when the plane was still an hour out of Guaziville, the pilot radioed—and five thousand people heard—that the plane had been struck by lightning. Two of their four engines were dead; a third was laboring. He was losing altitude, struggling to get to the airport.
Five thousand people prayed: to the gods of Islam and Christianity and to smaller, lesser-known, older tribal deities. The pilot reported that he was skimming the treetops, hoping to get as close to the airport as possible before the plane with its food, medicine, clean water and warm blankets finally hit the ground. The five thousand people at the airport were praying aloud now, crying out to the various parts of Heaven for assistance, for a miracle.
Then, in the distance—a speck! It was a plane—the RELIEF plane! Smoke poured from three of the four propellers. The sound that reached ten thousand ears was of a sputtering and choking. The plane dipped and bounced and rose and fell as if it were riding over invisible speed bumps. The people at the airport prayed like they had never prayed before.
Incredibly, the plane kept coming closer. A few people dared hope it would make it all the way to the runway. Then…closer…closer…closer… Hope was reborn! A few more feet…a few more seconds…! Come on…come on…yes…yes, yes….??
YES! The plane touched down on the holed, muddy runway just as the fourth engine exploded with a tired-sounding whuff! and the propeller stopped turning.
Five thousand people breathed out all at once, each silently thanking their God or gods. The miracle had happened. The plane had landed safely.

A few seconds later, a door on the side crashed open, and from the plane itself emerged a big Sy of RELIEF.

ABOUT THE COVER
Note from Ms. G: 
I was intrigued by this book as soon as I saw the title! 
I had such a good time working with the author on this cover. 

THIS IS ABSOLUTELY DELIGHTFUL!!!  
...almost exactly what I had in mind.  Thank you!!!!!
--Elliott Capon

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