Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Book Blitz and Giveaway: Crushing It by Lorelei Parker

Title: Crushing It
Author: Lorelei Parker
Publisher: Kingston
Publication Date: June 30th 2020
Print Length: 336 pages
Genre: Contemporary Romantic Comedy
In life, as in gaming, there’s a way around every obstacle . . .

To pitch her new role-playing game at a European conference, developer Sierra Reid needs to overcome her terror of public speaking. What better practice than competing in a local bar’s diary slam, regaling an audience with old journal entries about her completely humiliating college crush on gorgeous Tristan Spencer?

Until the moderator says, “Next up, Tristan Spencer . . .”

Sierra is mortified, but Tristan is flattered. Caught up in memories of her decade-old obsession as they reconnect, Sierra tries to dismiss her growing qualms about him. But it’s not so easy to ignore her deepening friendship with Alfie, the cute, supportive bar owner. She and Alfie were college classmates too, and little by little, Sierra is starting to wonder if she’s been focusing her moves on the wrong target all along, misreading every player’s motivations.

Maybe the only winning strategy is to start playing by her heart . . .

Relatable, funny, and charming, this gamingesque book delivers laughs and romance in a warm, satisfying bundle.” –Elly Blake, New York Times bestselling author of Frostblood

Sexy and delicious.” –Kristin Wright, author of Lying Beneath the Oaks

The spotlight was soft, not blinding, but beyond the golden radius, I could only make out the edges of the tables closest to the stage and the distant bar, an island of its own light. It gave me the impression I was only speaking to a couple of people. I found a friendly face subdued by shadows and opened my journal.

My stomach knotted, and I breathed in and out like Alfie had advised.

“This is from a writing class I took about ten years ago.” A frog caught firmly in my throat.

“Speak up.” The disembodied voice came from out in the blackness. I squinted as if I’d be able to see who’d spoken.

I leaned into the microphone and apologized. The speakers emitted a high-pitched squeal like an external representation of my mounting panic.

I took another calming breath, then repeated my opening statement, louder now.

“This is a journal from a writing class ten years ago.” I continued.

“The question I asked myself today was this: In the event of an apocalyptic catastrophe that wiped out humankind while somehow sparing my comm class, would we be able to repopulate the earth?”

A burst of laughter surprised me, and I smiled. Maybe I could do this.

“I mean, biologically, it would be feasible. The ratio of boys to girls in our class might be low, but if we’re only talking numbers, the men could spread their seed widely. It only takes one stallion. But that assumes these guys are studly enough to attract even a single woman.”

I swallowed and shot a glance over at Alfie, lit from behind at the bar. He leaned forward on his elbows, listening intently. He raised a hand and flashed a thumbs up. Relieved, I soldiered on.

“It’s a simple question of physical attraction. How many people in the class are instantly doable?

“As it turns out, a large class filled with college kids would be the ideal resource for repopulating the earth. My comm class is packed with so many pretty girls, I have to wonder if my participation would be required at all. Maybe the boys in the class would have such a luxury of options that I’d manage to remain single even when I was practically the last girl on earth.

“In my hunt for my post-apocalyptic f*ck buddy, I returned time and again to the one boy in the room who could probably single-handedly repopulate the planet. With or without the apocalypse.”

I stole a glance at the lady I’d picked as my friendly face earlier. She had a smile plastered on, so I took that as a good sign. My mouth was beginning to feel like cotton, so I gulped more water.

“Tristan Spencer is the prettiest boy I’ve ever seen. I’d have Tristan Spencer’s post-apocalyptic babies, and he wouldn’t have to ask twice. We’ve been in classes together before, but I’ve never had the nerve to talk to him. Maybe tomorrow. Maybe the world will end tomorrow.”

I closed my notebook and stepped away from the mic with a sigh of relief.

The speaker popped once, and then for a moment silence descended. I’d done it. My mouth had gone completely dry, I needed to pee, and my hands still trembled, but I’d stood in front of a roomful of strangers and shared a personal anecdote. My heart hadn’t exploded. I hadn’t vomited. I bit my lip and risked a small smile, satisfied with myself.

The audience clapped. I hadn’t fallen flat on my face or somehow managed to pour water down my shirt. I’d done it! That hadn’t been nearly as humiliating as I’d expected.

In fact, reading my old writing, I was proud of my former me. Where had that spirit gone?

I wound through the tables toward the bar to the applause generated when Miranda asked the audience to give me another round. “Remember that Sierra was contestant number thirteen. You are voting for contestant number thirteen.”

I caught Alfie’s eye, hoping for some signs of approval from my new ally, but he had a pinched expression, like the nurse just before she explained I had a UTI—concerned, slightly horrified.

My God. I’d never checked to make sure my fly was zipped. My hand flew to my crotch before I thought to take a more surreptitious examination or remembered I had on a skirt. The wheels of my imagination began to turn.

Had my mascara run down my face under the flop sweat? Did I have pit stains? I pushed my way back to my barstool as the contest continued on behind me.

Before I could ask Alfie why he looked like my nipple had popped out of my T-shirt, Miranda announced contestant number fourteen.

“Everyone please welcome Tristan Spencer.”

Bouncing all over the north throughout her childhood, Lorelei Parker grew up believing she was a Yankee. However, raised by transplanted Alabamans, she was destined to eventually wind up in the south. After graduating from Auburn University, she disappointed her entire family by defecting to SEC rival University of Florida and eventually settled as far north as central Virginia for grad school in French literature. After a major career shift and a brief detour through New York City, she now works as a computer programmer in Charlottesville. In her free time, when she isn't playing video games, she writes contemporary romantic comedy.

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Monday, June 29, 2020

Book Tour and Giveaway: The Dead Girl Under the Bleachers (A Craven Falls Mystery #1) by Donna M. Zadunajsky

Title: The Dead Girl Under the Bleachers 
Series: A Craven Falls Mystery #1
Author: Donna M. Zadunajsky 
Publisher: Black Rose Writing
Publication Date: June 18th 2020
Print Length: 264 pages
Genre: Young Adult Mystery 
Three girls…

Three dead bodies…

The quiet town of Craven Falls is depleting in population. One by one…

Scarlet Fitzgerald thought it would be fun to play a game on Laura Stevenson, a nobody at Craven Falls High. But what happens when the game unleashes buried secrets Scarlet doesn’t want anyone to know? Secrets that could get someone killed, including herself.

Three can play a game, but one of them ends up dead…

Donna M. Zadunajsky started out writing children's books before she wrote and published her first novel, Broken Promises, in June 2012. She since has written several more novels and her first novella, HELP ME! Book 1 in the series, which is about teen suicide and bullying.

- What inspired you to write this book?
I don’t know about inspired, I just love teen drama and what’s more interesting than finding a dead girl under the bleachers. You hear about teen girls having some kind of disagreement and then one of them stabs or kills the other girl because of jealousy. There was a news story, I think back on the early 1990’s when two girls brutally killed another teenage girl and it has stuck in my mind all these years. I can’t really remember why they did it.

- What can we expect from you in the future?
More books

- Do you have any “side stories” about the characters?

- Can you tell us a little bit about the characters in your books?
The book that I’m touring right now is The Dead Girl Under the Bleachers, but the one character that intrigues me the most is Reece Garran from Twisted Secrets. Reece is a male character that I love and have placed him in the Craven Falls series. He’s not only handsome, but intelligent. He’s good at finding things out, although he’s not a detective. He’s an ex-military man and works at the local grocery store during the winter months and does construction in the summer. He’s in the books Buried Secrets and The Body in the Road, which come out later this year. Book 2 and 3 of the Craven Falls series.

- How did you come up with the concept and characters for the book?
Laura is the outcast who gets bullied by Scarlet. Rachel was once Laura’s friend, but wanted to be popular and now hangs with the Queen B*tch, Scarlet. Like I mentioned in another question about three girls and two of them killing the other, this is what I had in mind, but the story has a twisted ending.

- Where did you come up with the names in the story?
The names usually come to me when I’m writing. Sometimes the name changes, but most of the time the name fits the character.

- What did you enjoy most about writing this book?
I love writing about high school drama.

- Tell us about your main characters- what makes them tick?
Scarlet is a handful and only thinks of herself, where Laura is more like I was in school. She was bullied and pretty much keeps to herself. Rachel is like the monkey in the middle. Once was friends with Laura, who she traded in for Scarlet, but realizes what a b*tch Scarlet is and makes a change.

- How did you come up with the title of your first novel? Broken Promises is a book based on a broken heart from a marriage. The novel is 75% based on real events of my marriage with an abusive alcoholic.

- Who designed your book covers?
My novel book covers are designed by Travis Miles. My children’s book covers were designed by Judith Bicking.

- If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?

- Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
Yes. I won’t lie because writing is a hard job. If it were easy everyone would be a writer. The more you read the better at writing you will get. The more you write the easier the concept will be for you. Like they say, practice makes perfect.

- If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
The Dead Girl Under the Bleachers would be a great fit for Zoey Deutch and Halstson Sage.

- Anything specific you want to tell your readers? 
Book 2 will reveal secrets that weren’t answered in book 1 and book 3 will concluded the mystery of book 1 and 2 of the series. Everything will be answered.

- How did you come up with name of this book?
I drove passed a high school and saw the bleachers and the title came to me as The Dead Girl Under the Bleachers. I’m not sure why I like to write about people getting killed, I just do. But I like reading teen romance books too, lol

- What is your favorite part of this book and why?
The night of the Homecoming dance. Why? Because it’s when everything comes out. The who, the what, and the why.

- If you could spend time with a character from your book whom would it be? And what would you do during that day?
Reece Garran, he is a character in Twisted Secrets and so hot. He would be fun to spend the day with doing whatever.

- Are your characters based off real people or did they all come entirely from your imagination?
HELP ME! Book 1 is based off of real characters as the story line is from real events. Some of my books are parts of my own life that I have placed somewhere in the book, but the book has nothing to do with me. Except for BROKEN PROMISES, which is my life with an alcoholic.

- Do your characters seem to hijack the story, or do you feel like you have the reigns of the story?
My characters at times seem to take over the story and go in a different direction, usually for the better. Like I never know the ending until I get to the ending because what I have planned sometimes doesn’t work out.

- Convince us why you feel your book is a must read.
It’s a gripping mystery that draws you in guessing who the killer/killers are.

- Have you written any other books that are not published?
Many, but they are rough drafts

- What did you edit out of this book?
A lot. The book ended with 91,000 words and is now at 75,000

- Is there a writer which brain you would love to pick for advice? Who would that be and why?
Stephen King. That’s all there is to say. He’s Brilliant.
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Book Spotlight: The Existence of Amy by Lana Grace Riva

Title: The Existence of Amy
Author: Lana Grace Riva
Publication Date: July 31st 2019
Print Length: 285 pages
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Amy has a normal life. That is, if you were to go by a definition of 'no obvious indicators of peculiarity', and you didn't know her very well. She has good friends, a good job, a nice enough home. This normality, however, is precariously plastered on top of a different life. A life that is Amy's real life. The only one her brain will let her lead.

A fictional story that depicts the reality of mental illness behind a perception of normality.


Sunday, June 28, 2020

Book Blog Tour and Giveaway: What Momma Left Behind by Cindy K. Sproles

Cindy K. Sproles

Genre: Christian Historical Fiction
Publisher: Revell
Date of Publication: June 2, 2020
Number of Pages: 256

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Worie Dressar is seventeen years old when influenza and typhoid ravage her Appalachian Mountain community in 1877, leaving behind a growing number of orphaned children with no way to care for themselves. Worie's mother has been secretly feeding a number of these little ones on Sourwood Mountain. But when she dies suddenly, Worie is left to figure out why and how she was caring for them.

Plagued with two good-for-nothing brothers—one greedy and the other a drunkard—Worie fights to save her home and the orphaned children now in her begrudging care. Along the way, she will discover the beauty of unconditional love and the power of forgiveness as she cares for all of Momma's children.

Storyteller and popular speaker Cindy K. Sproles pens a tender novel full of sacrifice, heartache, and courage in the face of overwhelming obstacles.

"Worie Dressar isn't your typical heroine—she's tough, she's opinionated, and she's loud. But at her core she wants to love and be loved—just like the rest of us. Cindy's special talent is in telling about life the way it is—hard parts and all—while preserving the beauty and wonder of love shining through even the darkest night." —Sarah Loudin Thomas, Christy Award-nominated author of Miracle in a Dry Season

"Seldom does a story move me to tears and encourage me to examine my life. A powerful story. Highly recommended." —DiAnn Mills, author of Fatal Strike

"Cindy Sproles has a way of placing readers inside the Blue Ridge Mountains. Her ability to transport readers into her Appalachian adventures is nothing short of genius. Leaving us hanging on every word, Cindy writes with feeling and incredible historical knowledge. This book is a must-read!" —LaTan Murphy, writer, speaker, author of Courageous Women of the Bible
Cindy K. Sproles is the cofounder of Christian Devotions Ministries. An author, storyteller, and popular speaker, Cindy teaches at writers’ conferences across the country and directs the Asheville Christian Writers Conference in North Carolina. Editor of ChristianDevotions.us and managing editor for Straight Street Books and SonRise Devotionals, Cindy has a BA in business and journalism and lives in the mountains of East Tennessee with her family. 

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- How has being a Tennessean influenced your writing?
I grew up in the Appalachian culture; my family roots are deep in these mountains. Being raised here, having a family that, when my grandmother was alive, still gathered together to work, making apple butter, canning, setting tobacco, etc. It’s given me the perfect insight.

- Why did you choose to write in your particular sub-genre?
I want folks to know the culture of the people in the mountains. They were very innovative. Life was hard but the people and their ways were solid and good. These things just aren’t being taught in school anymore.

- How long have you been writing?
Fifteen years seriously but, honestly, since I was a kid. I’ve always loved writing.

- In addition to being an author, you also have a number of other positions. Can you tell readers how these roles have played a part in making you a better novelist?
I’ve been fortunate to spend quality time with much better writers than myself, learning from them, picking their brains, and accepting their guidance and advice. As a managing editor for a publisher, I’ve been blessed with opportunities to have these experiences. I’ve learned to persevere and take the falls and tumbles that come with rejection, knowing that those bloody knees bring about experience. Finally, practice, practice, practice—learning the craft of writing and honing it to write the best I can.

- How does your book relate to your faith?
When you’re raised in these mountains there are certain things that are just automatic to your upbringing—religion is one. The people of the mountains are and always have been a faithful, God-fearing sort of people. I was raised with that deep faith and taught to look for the life lessons that God teaches us.

- What do you think most characterizes your writing?
Without a doubt, the mountain dialect. If you are not from the area, it may take you a page or two to fall into the flow of the mountain dialect, but after that, you’ll have no problem. The biggest thing to remember is mountain dialect is lazy. Instead of adding “ing” to the end of words, we just say “n”: seein’, feelin’, hearin’. Once you adjust to that, there shouldn’t be a problem. This, by far, characterizes my writing.

- What was the hardest part of writing this book?
Research when there is little information to research. This is the classic issue for writing based on truth in the Appalachians. Especially on things like pandemics, like influenza. Records simply weren’t kept in the deep parts of the mountains. Not only that, but doctors were a rarity. The hardest part of writing this book was piecing together bits and pieces of research to be as accurate as possible with the underlying truth of the story.

- Are there under-represented groups or ideas featured in your book?
I believe so—the children who are orphaned. Even in today’s world, our country has hundreds of thousands of children who flounder in and out of our foster and adoption systems. Adoption inside our country is expensive and difficult, and it forces many more parents who desire to adopt children [to go] out of our country to adopt. There is nothing wrong with that, but when you have so many children in your own country who need love and families, these children are definitely under-represented.

- You set your novel in the Appalachian Mountains during the late 1800s. What motivated you to write about this place and time?
The Appalachian Mountains are home. The culture of that time was strong, and the people were strong and innovative individuals. Their lives were rough, but their sense of faith, family, and community was strong. I don’t want younger people to miss out on the hardships of these people or the amazing culture they nurtured.

- What type of research was required to accurately portray this setting?
Since I live in the Appalachian Mountains, research is only a few miles away. Family stories and experiences were passed down through the years, and I had personal interviews with elderly mountaineers who were children during that time frame. I took quick visits to local areas such as Chattanooga, Etowah, Gatlinburg, and Townsend, where the culture is still very thick, and people are still willing to share information and stories. I also gleaned information from the Appalachian Studies program through East Tennessee State University.

- What are you working on next?
I am currently working on a ninety-day devotional entitled Meet God on the Mountain, and I am working on my fourth Appalachian historical novel.
First Winner: Copy of What Momma Left Behind by Cindy K. Sproles and a $20 Barnes & Noble Gift Card 
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Third Winner: Copy of What Momma Left Behind by Cindy K. Sproles
 June 23-July 3, 2020
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Book Tour and Giveaway: Out of My League by Sarah Sutton

Title: Out of My League
Author: Sarah Sutton

Publisher: Golden Crown Publishing
Publication Date: June 16th 2020

Print Length: 326 pages
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Romance

It’s all fun and games until someone catches feelings.

Sophia Wallace is convinced her life is over when her high school cuts the journalism program. Without the elective, she loses her chance to intern with the biggest newspaper company in the county, and why? All because the baseball team needs more funding.

To make matters worse, her boyfriend publicly dumps her at a party, which is mortifying. But the icing on the cake is when the captain of the baseball team and the most popular guy at Bayview High, Walsh Hunter, decides to be chivalrous. He jumps in, throws his arm around Sophia, and declares his undying love for her. In front of everyone.

Suddenly, Sophia is thrown into a world of fake relationships and undercover journalism, and she realizes she’s way, way out of her league.

Good thing she’s got the team captain to teach her how to play.

But faced with choosing between saving her journalism class or her newfound feelings for Walsh, will she strike out or hit a home run?

In the middle of the lawn sat a giant pink flamingo pool float, with throw blankets tossed over the top of it and pillows piled on. The pool float was made so that the body of the flamingo was two inner tube-like holes with a giant head poking straight up into the air. Beside the inflatable sat two clear plastic cups, and even from here I could see it was filled with something blue.

“I had to go to three different stores to find blue-raspberry. Every place had either cherry or cola. Apparently not everyone is as crazy about blue-raspberry as you.”

I stared at the giant pool float, utterly stupefied. “Why?”

“I figured since you can’t go to the bay, I thought I could bring some bay to you.”
What Are Friends For? 
By Sarah Sutton 
Genre: YA Romance 

Sarah Sutton is a YA Romance author, bringing you stories about teenagers falling in love (sometimes with magic)✨She spends her days dreaming up ideas with her two adorable puppies by her side being cheerleaders (and mega distractions).

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