Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Review and Giveaway: Triple Love Score by Brandi Megan Granett

What happens when you stop playing games?

Miranda Shane lives a quiet life among books and letters as a professor in a small upstate town. When the playing-by-the-rules poet throws out convention and begins to use a Scrabble board instead of paper to write, she sets off a chain of events that rattles her carefully planned world. 

Her awakening propels her to take risks and seize chances she previously let slip by, including a game-changing offer from the man she let slip away. But when the revelation of an affair with a graduate student threatens the new life Miranda created, she is forced to decide between love or poetry.

Publisher: Wyatt-Mackenzie – Sept. 1, 2016

My Thoughts 
What an amazing story and I LOVE that Scrabble is such a fun theme all the way through. 
Miranda has always been in love with Scott - since she was a young kid.  He always seemed to treat her like a little sister though, how would she ever break that mold in his mind?   Then one day he came to visit her at college and they kissed...then he disappeared...for over 6 years!

Then Scott comes home for a holiday and he brings ...someone special.  Wow, things have changed in 6 years.  At this point, Miranda had started seeing a student, yes a student.  He came on to her and she fell for Ronan's Irish charm and well she was lonely so why not?  If your like me, I WOULD never have a relationship of anyone that I teach...I'm sure you all the same.

As time goes on her feelings drift to other places and she falls into an amazing money making opportunity with her Scrabble poems of all things!

Life has taken so many twists and turns and Miranda truly doesn't know which way is up right now.

You will love this book from page one and won't be able to put it down til you know how it ends!

Being the theme drifts around my favorite country for a little bit, Ireland, I will list a Irish Car Bomb.  I wouldn't personally drink one, yuck, but it fits perfectly with this book!
I loved this book from beginning to end and I would recommend to everyone.  Pre-order it today!  You will LOVE it!
5 wine glasses it is!
What readers are saying . . .

“A poignant plot and genuine characters build a creative premise to make this novel a must-read.”
  • RT Book Reviews, 4 stars

"An entertaining romance novel with an engrossing plot, a conflicted heroine, and a couple of surprising, poignant takeaways."
  • Kirkus Reviews

“Combustible romance and fame slather a sexy gloss over more complex issues of familial love and true accomplishment for Granett’'s cast of endearing characters. An entertaining and perceptive story of our times.”
— Kathryn Craft, award-winning author of The Far End Of Happy and The Art Of Falling

“Brandi Megan Granett’s beautifully written debut novel, full of twists, turns and truths about the ups and downs of life, had me spellbound from the very first page. Triple Love Score proves that, in matters of the heart—as in Scrabble—when you get it right, it’s nothing short of poetry.”
  • Kristy Woodson Harvey, author of Dear Carolina and Lies and Other Acts of Love

“A love story that is on one hand sweet, but on the other full of surprises and intrigue, set against the background of competitive…Scrabble? It sounds entirely unlikely but this is exactly what Granett has spelled out in a slim novel that deserves kudos (using that ‘k’) and could easily become a guilty pleasure.”
  • Jacquelyn Mitchard, author The Deep End of the Ocean
“A charming mash-up of viral poetry, relatable characters, and slow-simmering romance. Granett explores how doing the unexpected might lead to what you had always wanted.”
  • Amy E. Reichert, author of The Coincidence of Coconut Cake and Luck, Love & Lemon Pie

“Like tiles on a Scrabble board, Granett's characters unfold and connect and diverge again. Readers will be spellbound as they follow Poetry Professor Miranda Shane's unlikely adventures - ones that take her across the country and as far away as Istanbul and France - as her long-held dreams concerning love and career are both challenged and re-defined.”
  • Amy Impellizzeri, author of Lemongrass Hope

Triple Love Score is a wonderful love story and a novel with such intriguing twists and turns that it kept me turning those pages until the very end! A fun, unique read.”
  • Anne Girard, author of Platinum Doll 

"Women seeking a solid story of a poetry professor's awakening will find Triple Love Score a delightful romp through options Miranda never realized she had."
  • Midwest Review of Books

“A romantic pleasure with delightfully unique characters and a plot that takes you on an unexpected journey. Granett has a clear writing style that brings each scene to life and makes for a tremendously engaging read. As a fan of love and poetry, I highly recommend it!”
  • Anita Hughes, author of Santorini Sunsets

    About the Author

    Brandi Megan Granett is an author, online English professor, and private writing mentor. She holds a PhD in Creative Writing from Aberystwyth University, Wales, an MFA in Fiction from Sarah Lawrence College, a Masters in Adult Education with an emphasis on Distance Education from Penn State University, and her BA from the University of Florida.

    Granett is the author of My Intended (William Morrow, 2000). Her short fiction has appeared in Pebble Lake Review, Folio, Pleiades and other literary magazines, and is collected in the volume Cars and Other Things That Get Around. She also writes an author interview series for the Huffington Post.

    When she is not writing or teaching or mothering, she is honing her archery skills. She lives in New Jersey with her husband and daughter.


Author Social Media Links

Website:      www.brandigranett.com/
Facebook:      Brandi Megan Granett, Author
Twitter:      @brandigranett
Instagram:    mrsgranett
Goodreads:     Brandi Megan Granett

Purchase Links 
Barnes & Noble

Publicity Contact 
Suzy Missirlian
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Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Blogiversary Book Excerpt and Giveaway - Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris


The champagne bottle knocks against the marble kitchen counter, making me jump. I glance at Jack, hoping he won’t have noticed how nervous I am. He catches me looking and smiles.

‘Perfect,’ he says softly.

Taking my hand, he leads me to where our guests are waiting. As we go through the hall, I see the flowering lily Diane and Adam brought us for our garden. It’s such a beautiful pink that I hope Jack will plant it where I’ll be able to see it from the bedroom window. Just thinking of the garden makes tears well up from deep inside me and I swallow them down quickly. With so much at stake tonight, I need to concentrate on the here and now.

In the sitting room, a fire burns steadily in the antique grate. We’re well into March but there’s still a nip in the air and Jack likes our guests to be as comfortable as possible.

‘Your house is really something, Jack,’ Rufus says admiringly. ‘Don’t you think so, Esther?’

I don’t know Rufus or Esther. They are new to the area and tonight is the first time we’ve met, which makes me feel more nervous than I already am. But I can’t afford to let Jack down, so I fix a smile on my face, praying that they’ll like me. Esther doesn’t smile back, so I guess she’s reserving judgement. But I can’t blame her. Since joining our circle of friends a month ago, I’m sure she’s been told over and over again that Grace Angel, wife of brilliant lawyer Jack Angel, is a perfect example of a woman who has it all—the perfect house, the perfect husband, the perfect life. If I were Esther, I’d be wary of me too.

My eyes fall on the box of expensive chocolates she has just taken out of her bag and I feel a flicker of excitement. Not wanting her to give them to Jack, I move smoothly towards her and she instinctively holds them out to me.

‘Thank you, they look wonderful,’ I say gratefully, placing them on the coffee table so that I can open them later, when we serve coffee.

Esther intrigues me. She’s the complete opposite of Diane—tall, blonde, slim, reserved—and I can’t help respecting her for being the first person to step into our house and not go on about how beautiful it is. Jack insisted on choosing the house himself, telling me it was to be my wedding present, so I saw it for the first time when we came back from our honeymoon. Even though he’d told me it was perfect for us I didn’t fully realise what he meant until I saw it. Set in large grounds at the far end of the village, it gives Jack the privacy he craves, as well as the privilege of owning the most beautiful house in Spring Eaton. And the most secure. There is a complicated alarm system, with steel shutters to protect the windows on the ground floor. It must seem strange that these are often kept shut during the day, but as Jack tells anyone who asks, with a job like his, good security is one of his priorities.

We have a lot of paintings on the walls of our sitting room but people are usually drawn towards the large red canvas that hangs above the fireplace. Diane and Adam, who have already seen it, can’t help going over to have another look, and Rufus joins them, while Esther sits down on one of the cream leather sofas.

‘It’s amazing,’ Rufus says, looking in fascination at the hundreds of tiny markings that make up most of the painting.

‘It’s called Fireflies,’ Jack offers, untwisting the wire from the bottle of champagne.

‘I’ve never seen anything quite like it.’

‘Grace painted it,’ Diane tells him. ‘Can you believe it?’

‘You should see Grace’s other paintings.’ Jack eases the cork from the bottle with only the slightest of sounds. ‘They really are quite something.’

Rufus looks around the room with interest. ‘Are they here?’

‘No, I’m afraid they’re hanging elsewhere in the house.’

‘For Jack’s eyes only,’ Adam jokes.

‘And Grace’s. Isn’t that right, darling?’ Jack says, smiling over at me. ‘For our eyes only.’

‘Yes, they are,’ I agree, turning my head away.

We join Esther on the sofa and Diane exclaims in pleasure as Jack pours the champagne into tall glasses. She looks across at me.

‘Are you feeling better now?’ she asks. ‘Grace couldn’t make lunch with me yesterday because she was ill,’ she explains, turning to Esther.

‘It was only a migraine,’ I protest.

‘Unfortunately, Grace is prone to them.’ Jack looks over at me sympathetically. ‘But they never last long, thank goodness.’

‘It’s the second time you’ve stood me up,’ Diane points out.

‘I’m sorry,’ I apologise.

‘Well, at least you didn’t just forget this time,’ she teases. ‘Why don’t we meet up next Friday to make up for it? Would you be free, Grace? No dental appointments for you to suddenly remember at the last minute?’

‘No, and no migraines either, I hope.’

Diane turns to Esther. ‘Would you like to join us? It would have to be at a restaurant in town because I work.’

‘Thank you, I’d like that.’ She glances over at me, maybe to check that I don’t mind her coming along and, as I smile back at her, I feel horribly guilty, because I already know I won’t be going.

Calling everyone to attention, Jack offers a toast to Esther and Rufus, welcoming them to the area. I raise my glass and take a sip of champagne. The bubbles dance in my mouth and I feel a sudden flash of happiness, which I try to hang on to. But it disappears as quickly as it came.

I look over to where Jack is talking animatedly to Rufus. He and Adam met Rufus at the golf club a couple of weeks ago and invited him to join them in a game. On finding Rufus to be an excellent golfer, but not quite excellent enough to beat him, Jack invited him and Esther around for dinner. Watching them together, it’s obvious that Jack is out to impress Rufus, which means it’s important I win Esther round. But it won’t be easy; whereas Diane is simply admiring, Esther seems more complicated.

Excusing myself, I go through to the kitchen to fetch the canapés I made earlier, and to put the last touches to the dinner. Etiquette—Jack is pedantic about it—means I can’t be gone for long, so I quickly whisk the egg whites that are waiting in a bowl into peaks, and add them to the soufflé base I made earlier.

As I spoon the mixture into individual dishes, I glance nervously at the clock, then put the dishes into a bain-marie and place it in the oven, noting the exact time. I feel a momentary wave of panic that I might not be able to pull everything off, but reminding myself that fear is my enemy I try to remain calm and return to the sitting room with the tray of canapés. I pass them around, accepting everybody’s compliments gratefully, because Jack will have heard them too. Sure enough, with a kiss to the top of my head, he agrees with Diane that I am indeed a superb cook, and I breathe a silent sigh of relief.

Determined to make some headway with Esther, I sit down next to her. Seeing this, Jack relieves me of the canapés.

‘You deserve a rest, darling, after all the hard work you’ve done today,’ he says, balancing the tray on his long elegant fingers.

‘It wasn’t hard work at all,’ I protest, which is a lie, and Jack knows it, because he chose the menu.

I begin to ask Esther all the right questions: if she has settled into the area, if she was sorry to leave Kent behind, if her two children have settled into their new school. For some reason, the fact that I am well informed seems to irk her, so I make a point of asking the names of her son and daughter, even though I know they are called Sebastian and Aisling. I even know their ages, seven and five, but I pretend that I don’t. Aware of Jack listening to my every word, I know he’ll wonder what I’m playing at.

About the Author
B.A. PARIS grew up in England but has spent most of her adult life in France. She has worked both in finance and as a teacher and has five daughters. Behind Closed Doors is her first novel.

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Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Blogiversary Giveaway - 2 Books by Brenda Jackson

Giveaway - US ONLY

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Blogiversary Giveaway - Falling by Jane Green US Only

                        Giveaway - US Only

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Book Spotlight and Giveaway: The Year We Turned Forty by Liz Fenton & Lisa Steinke

If you could repeat one year of your life, what would you do differently? This heartwarming and hilarious novel from the authors of The Status of All Things and Your Perfect Life features three best friends who get the chance to return to the year they turned forty—the year that altered all of their lives, in ways big and small—and also get the opportunity to change their future.

Jessie loves her son Lucas more than anything, but it tears her up inside that he was conceived in an affair that ended her marriage to a man she still loves, a man who just told her he's getting remarried. This time around, she’s determined to bury the secret of Lucas’ paternity, and to repair the fissures that sent her wandering the first time.

Gabriela regrets that she wasted her most fertile years in hot pursuit of a publishing career. Yes, she’s one of the biggest authors in the world, but maybe what she really wanted to create was a family. With a chance to do it again, she’s focused on convincing her husband, Colin, to give her the baby she desires.

Claire is the only one who has made peace with her past: her twenty-two year old daughter, Emily, is finally on track after the turmoil of adolescence, and she's recently gotten engaged, with the two carat diamond on her finger to prove it. But if she’s being honest, Claire still fantasizes about her own missed opportunities: a chance to bond with her mother before it was too late, and the possibility of preventing her daughter from years of anguish. Plus, there’s the man who got away—the man who may have been her one true love.

But it doesn’t take long for all three women to learn that re-living a life and making different decisions only leads to new problems and consequences—and that the mistakes they made may, in fact, have been the best choices of all…

About Liz and Lisa
Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke have been best friends for 25 years and survived high school and college together. Liz lives in San Diego, CA with her husband and two children. Lisa, a former talk show producer, now lives in Chicago, IL with her husband, daughter and two bonus children.

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Sunday, August 21, 2016

Bogiversary Guest Post and Giveaway with Rochelle B. Weinstein!

First let me thank Bethany Clark for hosting me on her fabulous blog. If you’re here it’s because you, like me, love to read and/or write books. Let’s applaud Bethany and her fellow book bloggers for sharing their passion and keeping the relevance of books alive on these pages.
Now a little about me. I know Bethany has shared her selfie interview with you all and I’m going to give you a little bit of background about me and how I got here.
My name is Rochelle Weinstein and I am 46 years young. My husband and I have been married a blissful 19 years and we are the parents to twins, Brandon and Jordan, who are 16 going on 24.

Born and raised in Miami Beach, Florida, I have lived in College Park, MD and Los Angeles, CA before returning to Miami. I’m what we call a boomeranger. My career began in the entertainment industry, notably film and music, and I eventually parlayed the experience into writing books. My women’s fiction titles are WHAT WE LEAVE BEHIND, THE MOURNING AFTER, and most recently, WHERE WE FALL. I have self-published and I have published through Lake Union, an imprint of Amazon. We call that a hybrid!
When I’m not reading or writing, I love to be with my husband and kids, hike in the mountains of North Carolina, yoga, Pilates, go for long walks, visit the beach, watch a movie, listen to music and drink good wine, dinner with friends, and catch up on binge TV.

Now for the inspirational component of this entry.
The Top Ten Nuggets For Aspiring Writers:
1)    First Drafts Always Suck. Put simply, your book is a house. The first draft is the foundation. Flattening the earth, laying down the cement, driving piles. The obligatory, necessary components. The editing is the heart and soul of the house. Furnishing, polishing, adding color and shine. Learn to love the editing process. It’ll make a you a  much better writer.
2)    You Are Not Going To Be The Next #1 Bestseller. If you are, congratulations, because that is a ridiculously high goal that many successful authors never achieve. Successful. Did you hear that? If your book doesn’t make a bestseller list, don’t fret. The majority of authors don’t fit into that category and they still manage to have a meaningful career, a healthy following, and an income. Write your book and congratulate yourself on that feat (because it’s a big one) and focus on sharing it with the world.
3)    Writing The Book Is The Easy Part. Yes, you heard me correctly, though that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still congratulate yourself. Bravo! But the hard part comes next: determining who is the right agent to champion your work, querying literary agents, handling rejections from agents, finally signing with an agent, getting rejected by a house, deciding what to do next, researching self-publishing, getting a publishing deal, learning the ins and outs of said publishing deal, editing your book again, marketing and promoting your book, navigating social media, breaking out of the masses, bad reviews, writing your next book, and writer’s block.
4)    Speaking of which, Embrace Writer’s Block. As an author, I’ve been asked for the secret sauce to cure writer’s block. I’ve given plausible answers to shake up the juices and jumpstart your writing. Until I experienced a severe case this summer. I won’t bore you with the details, but a back injury sidelined me and even when I was able to sit at my desk with ice and heat across my bottom, I couldn’t string together a single coherent sentence. At the time, I was going through some other author-related issues. In hindsight, the back injury was a blessing. It forced me to slow down and move away from my work. The voices in my head were pressuring me to return to writing, but it wasn’t the right time. When you find yourself blocked, don’t fight it. There’s usually a reason for the block ,and when you unlock it, I can guarantee the creativity will flow. Mine did.
5)    Don’t Get Hung Up on A “Traditional” Deal. As a hybrid author, I have been labeled  and criticized for everything from destroying indie bookstores and their physical books, for selling out (whichever side you sit on), and lacking credibility. If you’re lucky enough to have a choice, publishing is a personal decision. Whether you self-publish or try the traditional route, or if you self-publish and transition to traditional, be true to your craft.  There are good books. There are bad books. And they come from self-publishing houses and even the Big Five. Do not let the rhetoric squash your dreams. If you write passionately, your work will shine through, no matter the platform.
6)    Which brings me to this: Write From Your Heart. Write what you know and what you care about. Where there’s passion, there’s a beautiful story to be told.
7)    You Will Feel Very Alone At Times. Besides sitting at your writing desk (alone) day after day, there are many aspects to a writer’s world that inhibit interaction. Take for instance that most of your friends and family will never understand or grasp the commitment or the harrowing roller coaster ride of querying, getting rejected, or reading reviews. Writing is a personal art form. You’ll be judged, critiqued and compared. If you can find at least one author to share your journey with, it will make the experience a whole lot easier.
8)    Don’t Read Reviews. But if you must peek, don’t take them too seriously. You’ll know you’ve reached a healthy stage in your literary career if you can read the one-star reviews with the same gusto as the five-stars. Why? Because you can’t base your writing solely on others’ critiques. Does what I’m saying remind you a little of middle school? It should. The gold star must come first from within.
9)    But then again, once in awhile, One Reader Can Make A Huge Difference. True story. An email I received via my website www.rochelleweinstein.com after aforementioned writer’s block and seismic changes with my publishing house and agent. Subject: Great work! Message: I don't usually send emails to the authors whose books I read, but in this case I had to. I read all 3 of your books this weekend. They were great! I read A LOT, and I don’t like to waste time on frivolous books with no meaning. I guess I am very picky when it comes to what I read. You have a talent. Great characters and great storylines. I finally had a weekend to spend on myself and luckily I found your books on Kindle. It was a very nice weekend! Keep doing what you're doing....please! We may write the books, but readers are our inspiration.
10)    Don’t Forget To Pay It Forward. I was fortunate to have numerous authors and industry insiders help me with my writing career. One of the most gratifying aspects of my being a successful author today is mentoring new writers and giving back to the writing community. Anyone who reaches out to me on my site gets a response. I’m happy to share my advice, author tips, and my contacts (when applicable). I’m a true believer in Karma boomerangs.
11)    Okay so I added one. A bonus. Always Remember Why You Write. This is one of the most important pieces to the writing and publishing process. Whether the answer is to make a living and travel the world, or to simply explore a hobby and touch people’s lives, be honest with yourself. Having a clear goal paves the way to reaching it and makes the process that much more rewarding. Knowing why you write is also relevant in choosing your publishing path. Dig deep and be clear. It can make all the difference in your career and your expectations.  

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Saturday, August 20, 2016

Blogiversary Excerpt and Giveaway: So Close by Nicola Kraus

From international #1 best-selling authors Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus comes a story about a girl from the trailer parks of central Florida and the two powerful men who shape her life one of whom will raise her up to places she never imagined, the other of whom will threaten to destroy her.

Amanda Beth Luker has spent her whole life desperately looking for someone who can show her the way out of her trailer park Florida town. And then, finally, help arrives in the form of Tom Davis, a successful lawyer with political aspirations who grew up just a few towns over from Amanda. But it's his wife, Lindsay, who really captures Amanda's imagination. Strong, smart, and determined, she gives Amanda something she's never had: a role model. Meanwhile Amanda is introduced to the wealthy, charismatic, and deeply troubled Pax Westerbrook. He clearly desires Amanda, but if she gives in will that move her closer to the life she's always dreamed of or make it impossible?

Amanda rides Davis's political success all the way to Washington, where he becomes Senator and will later be tapped for president and even make a bid for the White House. But when Amanda starts to suspect, and later confirms, his moral indiscretions, her loyalty is tested. Will a girl from a trailer park even be believed if she goes public with damning information? Will she be willing to risk losing everything she's gained?

By August I thought I was a seasoned hangover veteran, but the pain radiating behind my eyelids that Saturday morning shocked me. I was immediately aware from the thread count of the sheets that I was somewhere I shouldn’t have been. I just prayed to God that I wasn’t already late for my hostess shift.
Whipping upright on the king-sized bed, I braced my head with my fingers, my eyes focusing on the fading blue Sharpie blob next to my belly button—the vestiges of the flower my ex, Diego, had been trying to convince me I should get tattooed. The marker he’d used had outlasted his devotion. I angrily scrubbed at it every morning in the motel shower while I tried to make sense of his abrupt departure. He’d left me with an apartment I couldn’t afford, a security deposit I couldn’t get back, and one wheezing Honda hatchback.
Forcing my eyes to stay open, I realized where I was and it wasn’t good. Beside me, in the mess of deflated pillows, a tan frat guy with rooster boxers was splayed as if on a pool float. I stood, compelled to pause for a second until my balance returned.
Hunting for my dress, I took a squinting survey of the trashed penthouse suite. The Raleigh hostess and Fontainebleau waitress whom we’d met up with the night before were sprawled on the couches in the adjoining living room. One of my roommates from the motel, Alicia, was curled beside them. The recently reddened tips of her hair made it look like a wild fox had found its way inside. Alicia had been the one to convince me to leave the club for that new place where she knew the bouncer, and I had blindly followed her behind another velvet rope damp from the salty air.
A guy stirred from the flokati rug at the girls’ feet just as I spotted my dress in a heap by the glass doors to the balcony. Swiping it up, I stepped outside through the billowing curtains and into the sun banking off the white tiles. A breeze as refreshing as a close-panting dog rippled the Jacuzzi. A flash of the evening came back to me while I retrieved my bra from where it’d been discarded with the other girls’, as if my fifth-grade teacher’s rainbow rubber band ball had exploded. Dropping my dress on the baking stone, I re-cinched the yellow lace.
I was bending to grab my dress when I spotted him on the far end of the vast terrace. He was leaning on his forearms, blowing out a stream of smoke that dissipated over the ocean thirty floors below, his khakis and caramel skin and hair giving the impression of camouflage. He looked bemused as I clutched my dress in front of me. Did we hook up? I would have remembered that. I darted my eyes for a changing spot that didn’t involve dealing with the passed out revelers inside. You’d think a terrace of that size would at least have had a potted palm.   
    “I’d offer you one,” he called over.
    “A cigarette. But I know how you feel about that.”
    “Do you?” Fuck it. I dropped my dress to step into. I wasn’t about to shimmy-tug it on with an audience.
    “Yeah.” He hung his head, his hair sifting over his cheekbones, his muscular shoulders rolling leisurely forward. “I don’t recall much from last night, but you made your opinion on smoking pretty clear in the limo.”
    I remembered. He’d rolled in behind a crowd of guys with appraising eyes and monogrammed money clips. I thought he was an asshole. All of them were. But that was my last clear memory before we accepted their bottle service. I nodded and slid my arms through the straps of my dress as if this was just another day. Flicking his cigarette over the edge, his finger and thumb made a ring around a pale stripe  on his wrist.
    “I lost my watch. My Dad’s. Which kind of sucks.”
    “I’m sorry.” I spotted my heels under a chaise and strode over to push them on.
    “You sound surprised.” I glanced over my shoulder to see him staring at me.
    He shrugged. “Didn’t expect your sympathy.”
    “Just my opinions.”
    “Yes. Got a full tank of those last night, thanks.”
    Whatever. “Well, you don’t really have it.” Where the fuck was my clutch? “My sympathy.” I stepped back and tried to nonchalantly search under the row of chaises.   
    “Looking for your bag?”
    “Target would like you to think so, yes.” I finger combed my blond hair, the sun-bleached ends still damp.
    “Powder room by the front door. You left it there when you, uh—” He averted his eyes. “Went in with Trevor.”
Uck. Rooster boxers. Awesome. “Thanks.” I nodded and clicked toward the rippling curtains.
“Now you sound surprised.”
“Didn’t expect your assistance in my departure.”
“Well.” He grinned. “You don’t really have it.” We held eyes for a moment across the mess of white furniture. If my brain hadn’t been screaming, it would have been a cologne ad. The wash of blue behind him, his tanned hip bones arching out from those sagging pants. The instinct to prowl my way across the chaises flickered.
But I couldn’t be late to work.
And there was the unfortunate fact of Trevor.
I managed one more nonchalant step through the billowing drapes before I flat out ran past the sleeping partiers to the powder room, then the hall, where I tucked my head against the security cameras and remained tucked all the way down to the lobby’s side entrance, then out to my car. Jamming my key in the ignition, I tugged my gas station sunglasses from the glove compartment and then slammed it a thousand times to get it to stay closed. I had exactly twenty-three minutes to get home, get changed, and get to work— at the exact hotel I’d just woken up in.

About Nicola 
Kraus graduated from New York University's Gallatin School of Individualized Study. She met Emma McLaughlin while both were attending New York University, and working as nannies. She lived as a child at 1000 Park Avenue, whose residents she claims inspired some of the characters in her fiction.

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Friday, August 19, 2016

Blogiversary Guest Post and Giveaway with Beth Albright, author of Stardust in Dixie

The Real Magic In Dixie

I had a little epiphany the other day when a reader wrote to me and asked me why I started writing. I’ve always known why: my heart needed to speak—I write to satisfy my heart, to express my heart, to share my heart.
My heart resides way down in the Deep South, where the most hilarious, most passionate, most resilient women I have ever known live. Tuscaloosa, Alabama is home for me, although I have lived quite literally all over this country. Still, the college town of Tuscaloosa, with our famous national champion football team, The Crimson Tide, The Black Warrior River that runs through town, and the tremendous mouth-watering food all beg me to come back and nestle myself on the banks of the ink-colored river under a brilliant turquoise and creamsicle sunset; the moss hanging in lacy shawls across tree-tunneled streets— it all whispers to me to come home.  
But mostly it’s the strong funny women-- the women who supported my mom and had her back constantly helping her raise my brother and me after my Daddy died in a car accident. My mother was a young widow at twenty-five with two babies. I was only four years old and my brother was barely two. Over my whole life, during tragedy or triumph, we broke out the Krispy Kremes and sat around my grandmother’s yellow 1950s styled kitchen table laughing until we couldn’t. I learned a lot about life from those loud, funny, opinionated women and it’s them I love to write about. They are and always will be my inspiration. My mother’s mother, my daddy’s mother, my aunts, my mother’s hilarious strong-willed friends—they make me want to tell our stories.
In the South, we are good at stories. We hold them close like fine diamonds, polish them up like precious silver, and we hand them down like a priceless heirloom to our young with the hope that they will tell our stories for us when we are buried beneath the red clay of home.
These women who surrounded me were always telling their own stories of growing up down south. They are my passion and inspiration. They were hilarious. That’s why comedy is such a huge part of my stories. In my life, we couldn’t have made it without all the laughter. Fun is the way I remember it all, and happy—happy in the face of real life that was sometimes tragic.
It’s the southern way—laughter in the face of adversity. And to simply believe in the magic of tomorrow—as our favorite southern heroine, Scarlett O’Hara always said, “ I’ll worry ‘bout that tomorrow. Tomorrow is another day.”
Writing was the way I could be home—home in Tuscaloosa with my circle of hilarious, strong, resilient women. And of course all that delicious food, along with a string of pearls, a good bit of Aquanet, some bright lipstick and high heels—cause, honey, even in a crisis, a southern woman has to look good after all! It’s in our raising—part of the tradition that has been carried down from mother to daughter for hundreds of years.
I go home to Alabama as often as I can. On a recent visit I was staying with my nephew and his fiancé. It was the wee hours of a fall morning before the sun came up. A gentle rain was falling and I found myself standing on my nephew’s back porch, musty air mixed with damp cool, his tiny aging starter home nestled cozily back into an older part of town, edged by an overgrown lush backyard—so perfectly imperfect. I was exactly where I wanted to be and I could have stayed there indefinitely, cradled in memories and love and quiet. I wanted that small moment to last, to pause, and just hold it close for just a bit longer, but it slipped away too quickly.
The rain is so soft there, the fragrance sweetened by boxwoods, magnolias, fig trees and the wet ground—I stood still and inhaled a South I miss every single day. It was a slow moment of southern nature at its soft ending, as if taking a bow at the end of an emotional play. I alone was the standing ovation, watching the rainfall, tears sliding down my cheeks mixed on my face with the pouring steady rhythm of the rain.
My books are a piece of me I give to every reader. I love writing about the Deep South. My passion to write was born there and to this day, I always find there’s still so much MAGIC IN DIXIE.

Abigail Harper Cartwright was coming undone.  As the promotions director for a Tuscaloosa radio station, a huge upcoming Mother’s Day live event could make or break her career.  But at the same time, two former lovers have stumbled back into the picture turning her life upside down.

One old boyfriend – who works for a competing radio station, seems to be out to sabotage everything she does, while another may just be her knight in shining armor. But after being dumped during a very public marriage proposal, he may not be able to give Abby a second chance.

To make matters worse, a nosey neighbor has started an epic turf war and azalea bushes, a stolen mailbox and some front porch graffiti are the result.

As event day draws near, the dirty tricks at work get more intense and Abby has to call on her sassy sisters to help get to the bottom of it.  

And Abby’s new/old love has another love of his own – a three year old thoroughbred horse whose name holds the secret to some long harbored feelings.
It all culminates in some Derby Day and Mother’s Day fireworks that will get your heart pounding and tears flowing.

National best-selling author Beth Albright does it again with this new Southern page-turner filled with romantic comedy, emotion, passion and laugh-out-loud humor.  Grab your best girlfriends and hang on tight for this hilarious, exciting, sassy, southern tale.

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About Beth!
Beth Albright is the author of the award-winning, best-selling series The Sassy Belles, and the nationally best-selling series In Dixie. After spending nearly 15 years as a talk radio host in talk radio, acting as a principal character on the soap opera, DAYS OF OUR LIVES, owning her own acting school and children’s theater, and raising a son who was a nationally ranked figure skater, Beth returned to her roots; storytelling. “In the south, we are good at stories. We hold them close like fine diamonds, polish them up like precious silver, and we hand them down like a priceless heirloom to our young with the hope that they will tell our stories for us when we are buried beneath the red clay of home.” Except from Southern Exposure, Tales From My Front Porch. (Beth’s Memoirist book of essays.)
“It’s just what we do down south, pass on our stories,” she says.
Though Beth has had a remarkable career, literally from New York City to Hollywood, she has never forgotten where she came from, and what she loves: The Deep South!
Beth is also a screenwriter, a voice-over talent for commercials, and a nationally known speaker and emcee. Beth lives with her TV producer husband, award winning promotions and branding executive, Ted Ishler. Her son, graduating with Distinction from Berkeley in the top 10%, is on his way to graduate school in the fall.

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