Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Book Tour and Giveaway - Hard Conversations: Book 1: Breadcrumbs to the Past by BJ Communicates

Welcome to my stop on the book tour for Hard Conversations: Book 1: Breadcrumbs to the Past by BJ Communicates. This book tour was organized by Write Now Literary. On my stop, I have an excerpt from the book as well as a helpful guest post from the author. There's also the tour wide giveaway for a chance to win a $50 Amazon gift card. Enjoy!
Title: Hard Conversations: Book 1: Breadcrumbs to the Past
Author: BJ Communicates
Publisher: BookBaby
Publication Date: June 22nd 2021
Print Length: 88 pages
Genre: Urban Fiction
Sometimes it’s the conversations not had that do the most damage to the people in our lives. Hard Conversations is a collection of short stories detailing the lives of five urban people who are standing at the intersection of their past and their potential. Sensing that something is still off in the lives that they have built, each has to make the crucial decision whether to address their secrets long buried, or to continue living in the uncomfortable matrix they created. Only they can decide what their future will bring.

Our gifting often becomes our prison. I wrote this book to pull back the mask on our experience in the hopes that it compels us to confront our learned ability to white wash our pain with our talent and giftings. We are often taught that the greatest value that we bring to the world is solely present in what we do, what we earn, or how well we play. In reality our greatest value is in the stories that we can articulate to those we influence once we have reached the other side of trauma. Trauma that tried to silence our voice, trauma that caused a part of us to die in the fight, and trauma that threatened us to stay silent after our experience with it because we should just be grateful that we made it to the other side.
BJ Communicates, aka Dr. Brad Johnson, LSSBB, CSM, is a Kingdom writer, a communication practitioner, and an influential Bible teacher. Given the assignments of assisting urban believers in articulating their stories, finding resolution, and gaining the language of the Kingdom, BJ continually creates and releases inspirational media content that highlights their stories and experiences. “The Holy Spirit is constantly giving me things to write; sometimes it’s a book, sometimes it’s an article for a Christian publication, sometimes it’s something for my blog site or social media, and sometimes it’s a song for me or another recording artist, I’m just the pen in His hand,” says BJ. In addition to faith-based media creator, he is the owner of Communic8 Life Consulting, a communication consulting firm that specializes in assisting couples, families, and business teams in improving their interpersonal communication skills; and is the co-pastor of the urban cafe church Transformed City in Richmond, VA.

How to make your characters believable…
by BJ Communicates

The most believable characters are the ones that are based on personalities that we have encountered before. Most writers have lived long enough to have encountered various types of people from all walks of life. The best advice would be to create character concepts that are multidimensional and multifaceted. Most individuals don’t always act, talk, or express emotions in the same way, so our characters should reflect the diversity of the human experience. I hate when I read stories about characters that seem to be based on a stereotypes with no variation or depth to who they are; it shows that the author either hasn’t spent time with people who are similar to the characters that they are writing about or didn’t spend enough time researching and studying people to authentically articulate their stories because of laziness or their own personal biases. Do your research, people watch in public places, have conversations with people from diverse backgrounds, and read well written autobiographies to help you develop well rounded characters that represent real life. Our characters should step off the page and into the living rooms of our readers to the point that they begin to visualize and feel like they are meeting a real person.
Win a $50 Amazon gift card!

(All the Ups and Downs is not responsible for this giveaway, its entries, or the prize. Write Now Literary assumes all responsibility for everything related to this giveaway.)

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Book Blitz and Giveaway: All Men Love Leah by Ksenija Nikolova

Title: All Men Love Leah
Author: Ksenija Nikolova
Publisher: Kingsley Publishers
Publication Date: September 24th 2021
Print Length: 250 pages
Genre: Contemporary Romance

A gripping, powerful emotional page turner with a heartbreaking twist.

‘A story that runs deep; filled with emotional truth.’ – Ferial Mohamed

All Enzo wants is a reason to believe it’s all worthwhile. Stuck in a world that doesn’t fulfil him, he meanders through his days feeling empty, lost, and left out of the real world that is moving by without him. He is cynical but gifted, and when he meets the beautiful and enigmatic Leah she turns his universe upside down.

Leah and Enzo are exact opposites, but she is drawn to his darkness just as he is drawn to her light. She is a woman who lives by her own expression and challenges his dismal character down to its most frightening corners, awakening in him something he didn’t know he had the capacity to experience.

But everything is not what it seems. There is a secret that threatens the happiness that Leah represents in Enzo’s life. She is the one who embraces his flaws and uncovers his bravery by teaching him to love, and for the first time in his life he feels like a real man, but in the end, will Enzo survive Leah’s heartbreaking truth?

Goodreads * Amazon

The sound carries me, leading me somewhere, and I feel happy. My body moves with it. There is a smile on my face that can’t be wiped off. I don’t stop and I don’t want to stop. I feel joyful and I dance to the music like I never thought I could, in all my life. At the moment it is clear to me that I should have tried to do all the things I thought I couldn’t do, because I know how to dance very well. It’s only a pity that I never dared to try it before.
Ksenija Nikolova is a fiction author from Macedonia.

She is the author of six books.

All Men Love Leah” is her first book published in English language.

She writes about life, love, relationships, family, pain and fears. Her books bring joy, tears and finally - relief.

Goodreads * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram
Win a $25 Amazon gift card!

(All the Ups and Downs is not responsible for this giveaway, the entries, or the prize. Xpresso Book Tours assumes all responsiblity with this giveaway.)

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Monday, September 27, 2021

Excerpt Tour and Giveaway: Stargazer by David Scott

Welcome to my stop on the excerpt tour for Stargazer by David Scott. This tour was organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. On my stop, I have an exclusive excerpt from the book. There's also the tour wide giveaway for a chance to win a $15 Amazon or Barnes & Noble gift card. Be sure to follow the rest of the tour for more exclusive excerpts. Enjoy!
Title: Stargazer
Author: David Scott
Publisher: Tellwell Talent
Publication Date: January 27th 2020
Print Length: 385 pages
Genre: Autobiography
For thousands of years, stars have held our attention and imagination. They influence our life—we wish upon them, sing songs about them, navigate by them, write about them, follow them, and even give their name to the actors we love. My memories have revealed a lifetime of navigating by the stars, and moving beyond the fear and anxiety that self-doubt so insidiously cloaks us in. Yes, as Jiminy Cricket sang for us in Walt Disney's Pinocchio, "when you wish upon a star . . . fate steps in and sees you through."

Memories and influences have a profound effect on our lives. I look back on my childhood years—the 1940s to mid-'50s—and I can recall the people who were inspirational to me. Mostly it was my family, but there was also Jiminy Cricket. You no doubt recollect the song "When You Wish Upon a Star," with its lyrics that lift the spirit and let you believe anything is possible. I didn't doubt Jiminy for a minute.

The early years of my life were a time of innocence, security, adventure, and family love. How quickly my situation changed—one decision by my parents, made with my best interests foremost in their thoughts, shattered the world I had known. Through the fear, torment, isolation, and loss of my own identity, my memories and influences would come to have an overwhelming power on the choices I was to make.

My transition from teenager to adult seemed to happen overnight, but my unflappable outward appearance belied the struggles of a boy coming to terms with his guilt, and an irresistible need for his parents to be proud of him. My future was being shaped from the past, but it took me a long time to realise it. I chose the road less travelled, steeped in the wonder of the cinema and accompanied by my beloved animal companions, and it has been intriguing, daunting, rewarding, and, at times, solitary, but I always felt it was the path I was meant to take.

Like so many people, I let the emotions attached to memories hold me captive, and I missed opportunities to choose with more clarity. A near-death experience helped me to live a simpler life. Participating in a creative writing course inspired me to engage in script writing, stage work, and novel writing. This is my third book, an autobiography that has revealed more of me than I ever intended to share, and fate has led you to it.

My popularity in the boarding house zoomed whenever my parents visited. Mum always stocked my locker to the gunwales with fruit and home-baked cakes and biscuits. At those times, “mates” came out of the woodwork to help me devour the feast, my best-friend status as transient as the last morsel of food.

Boarding school suited gregarious personalities, but for a family-protected country boy like me it was overwhelming, so I stayed as inconspicuous as possible, hanging out with a couple of like-minded friends. I had led a cloistered life with my family until going to boarding school, fishing, bait-collecting and watching plenty of movies. Being the youngest child of my family, I was used to my parents or siblings looking out for me. Consequently, I was ill-prepared for standing on my own feet and went along with what anyone proposed without thinking twice.

That was 1957, which I survived reasonably unscathed.

The next year placed me in a neutral zone, out of new-boy classification but not empowered with the dubious honour of providing initiations—that was the domain of third- and fourth-year students.

During the summer break I had experienced strange happenings with my body. Erections came at all times of the day and night and, not having a clue about the birds and bees, I was embarrassed by it. I was totally ignorant of sex; subjects like that were not mentioned at home—it would have been too embarrassing for everyone. Movies of the time didn’t broach the subject either—kisses were closed-mouth pecks, overly suggestive dialogue was banned, and waves crashing onto a beach represented intercourse, something that washed over my head. Whenever my puberty issue arose, I stayed in my room with the door closed until it subsided, or if that wasn’t possible I wore a long shirt outside my shorts and sat as much as possible. I awoke some nights thinking I was starting to wee and would grab myself to stop, little realising what was happening. It was most disconcerting.

At college, Aunty Vi taught biology (her nickname remains, whereas time has eroded remembrance of her real name), and her lessons were so clinical they held no personal relevance for me. If my mates sniggered I did too, even if I wasn’t always sure why. She was a kindly lady with a sense of fun, ending classes with, “Okay, boys. Down tools and out!” I was not a complete fool, so I’d worked the double meaning out by my erections, but my knowledge bogged down at the physical discomfort without understanding why. I even wondered if something may be wrong with me.
David Scott is a playwright, director and novelist – among other things. His career included forty years as a film exhibitor; establishing a horse stud; managing a motel; working in the hospitality industry, and a few other experiences along the way.
David’s latest book, Stargazer, is an autobiography highlighting the value of family, ingenuity, bravado, old-fashioned common sense, colourful characters and unfailing good humour. From rural towns in Victoria and New South Wales, to the mountain life in Queensland, the constant has been faithful canine companions, perseverance and a joy for living.

David Scott will be awarding a $15 Amazon or Barnes & Noble gift card to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter. Good luck!

(All the Ups and Downs is not responsible for this giveaway, its entries, or the prize. Goddess Fish Promotions assumes all responsibility with this giveaway.)

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Book Blitz and Giveaway - Atlas Memorial: Love, Lust & Saving Lives by Krista Harper

Title: Atlas Memorial: Love, Lust & Saving Lives
Author: Krista Harper
Publisher: Southside Mountain Press
Publication Date: September 29th 2020
Genre: Romantic Comedy

Recent college graduate Stella Reynolds has sworn off men in order to focus on passing her nurse residency, but when she gets caught up in a steamy love triangle between a gorgeous new physician and the playful paramedic next door, her ability to concentrate takes a backseat to love and lust.

Will she miss out on a chance at romance and risk losing her nursing career before it even begins? Or will she pick the best suitor while also mastering her nursing skills in a high stress unit?

It’s just another day of love, lust and saving lives at Atlas Memorial.

Here’s what you can expect from Atlas Memorial:
♥ Quirky & Hilarious Female Lead
♥ Sexy New Physician vs Swoony Paramedic Love Interest
♥ Fast-Paced Urban Hospital Setting
♥ Medical Romance
♥ Laugh-Out-Loud Romantic Comedy

Goodreads * Amazon

I stood inside the automatic doors; hands clenched. This is it. Taking a deep breath, I took a step forward, dodging a group of men in surgical scrubs, and taking a sharp left towards what I thought was the elevator bank. A few steps in and I quickly realized I had gone the wrong way. Instead of elevators, a coffee cart with a line of customers wrapped around the corridor stood in its place. I must have gotten turned around and needed to go right, not left. I spun around to change course only to plow directly into someone holding a fresh cup of scolding hot coffee.

“Oh my god.” I stumbled backwards, my heel catching on the toe of my other shoe.

“Hot. That’s hot.” The guy swiped at his chest, coffee running down the front of his shirt and tie.

I looked up into the face of one of the most gorgeous men I had ever seen. “Oh my god, you are hot.”

“What?” He pulled at his clothes.

“I mean, er, yes. Your coffee. It’s super hot. I’m so sorry.” Heat spread across my cheeks for the second time this morning. I reached over the counter for a stack of napkins, trying to remove all evidence of our meeting from his shirt. “Did I burn you?”

“No it’s… I’m fine. I’m good.” He tossed the empty cup into the trash and took the remaining napkins from me.

“That was completely my fault. I’m gonna be late and I got totally turned around and I wasn’t paying attention to where I was going and…”

“It’s okay.” He smiled. “Apology accepted.”

His voice was deep and sensual, forcing my thighs to squeeze together at his words. For a split second I took the risk of looking him in the eye, but quickly decided my knees weren’t strong enough to handle it. His complexion was a creamy sand and his black pearl eyes were warm but mysterious. Longish onyx hair, a direct contrast to the professional business attire, fell slightly into his face as he looked down at me. My insides melted into warm pools when he reached for my hand, shaking it firmly in his grip.

“Ryan,” he said, licking his lips.

“Stella.” I breathed, barely audible. Whoa. Electricity passed between us as my heart fell into my stomach. Who was this guy?

“Well it was nice meeting you Stella, but I’m running late myself.” He dropped my hand. The warm burn remained like a phantom ghost in my palm. “Have a good day.”

“You too,” I said.

He disappeared through the crowd of visitors pushing in through the Emergency Department and I inhaled a deep breath, allowing my heart to slow down to a normal rate. Several stunned moments passed as it took me to realize that what I had experienced just then was in fact not an out of body experience. That guy, that… Ryan really existed. I caught my reflection in the window and saw my face and chest were still burning a deep red. Plus I was pretty sure my loins were hanging out completely exposed. Not a good look for a positive first impression. I took another deep breath and got myself turned in the right direction, realizing I was supposed to go right instead of left to find the elevators. I was never going to make it on time but at least I wouldn’t be lying when I claimed that I had gotten turned upside down, and not just by the building.
Krista Harper is a contemporary romance and romantic comedy writer.

The first in her family to attend college, she received a practical degree in nursing before pursuing her MFA at the age of 40.

A Chicago native, Krista currently resides in the Colorado mountains with her husband, two kids and four rescues, where she enjoys being nature adjacent.

Website * Goodreads * Facebook * Instagram
Win a $20 Amazon gift card!

(All the Ups and Downs is not responsible for this giveaway, the entries, or the prize. Xpresso Book Tours assumes all responsibility with this giveaway.)

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Sunday, September 26, 2021

Blog Tour and Giveaway: Bly by Kelsey Ketch

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Bly by Kelsey Ketch. This blog tour was organized by Lola's Blog Tours. On my stop, I have an excerpt from the book as well as a ghostly guest post from the author. There's also the tour wide giveaway for a chance to win a signed copy/eCopy of the book and a lavender wand. Be sure to visit the other stops on the tour for more content. Enjoy!
Bly book cover
Title: Bly
Author: Kelsey Ketch
Publication Date: September 22nd 2021
Genre: New Adult Contemporary Supernatural Mystery
I left the United States to find inner peace. Instead, I find myself confronting a malicious ghost.

Astyr Salt is a spiritual and emotional empath who moved to England with the intent to forget about a traumatic, supernatural event that occurred during her freshman year of college. However, when she takes a spiritual cleansing assignment in a haunted country home in Essex, she is isolated with all her own pent-up emotions.

These emotions energize the ghosts inhabiting the country home, helping them draw their own tragedies to the surface. Searching for the truth, Astyr is forced to relive the past. And the deeper she dives into the country home’s horrific history, the more the intertwined memories place her in the path of an evil and demented predator.

A blend of contemporary fantasy, horror, and mystery, Bly is inspired by Henry James’s classic novella, The Turn of the Screw.

I stand under an elaborate tray ceiling, painted in patterns of faded indigo, gold ochre, and linen. The heels of my flats click against the white marble floor tile as I wander farther inside. The echo of which radiates throughout the house and back. Before me, in a wide hallway that could fit six average-sized cars, are five staircases. Two Grecian columns flank each of the four grand staircases. Two leading to the upper levels, with one extending toward the east wing and the other extending to the west wing. Another grand staircase leads to an empty wall panel. Yet another leads straight into the ceiling. And the fifth and final staircase doesn’t even fit the rest of the d├ęcor. It’s a metallic, spiral staircase placed right in the center of the hall, leading beyond the hanging, crystal chandelier.

A familiar anxiety begins to gnaw at my gut. Once again, I’m alone. In an unfamiliar house. I slowly spin around, looking at every door and stairwell. Someone is missing. Someone who has been around me so long, it’s as if they have become a part of my life.


I pause to look at the five staircases. One of these has to lead to Nolyn. But which one?

As before, I sense a presence watching me, hovering over my shoulder. The energy is unreadable. Like a brick wall is between us, even though the presence is so close. However, there is a second presence. A soft tingling that brushes my upper arm and side of my leg, as if someone just walked by. I follow the new energy, letting it guide me to the spiral staircase in the middle of the hall.

My fingers slide over the cold, metal railing. Echoes of my steps radiate throughout the house and back as I climb higher. The staircase is narrow and tightly curled around itself, like those you find at the top of a lighthouse. Yet, it carefully winds around the crystal chandelier and the chain that suspends it in midair. I approach an opening in the ceiling, where a weak, flickering light shines through inky shadows. I ascend into the darkness, finding a small beeswax candle sitting in an old-fashioned tin holder upon a side table. I pick it up and move slowly down the hall. Unlike the hall before, there is no odd staircases. Only wooden door after wooden door after wooden door. All lined up on the walls, floors, and ceiling.

I hear a male voice muffled in the distance, which lightens my heart. Had I actually found Nolyn? I carefully make my way around the doors on the floor, sticking to the white plaster that covers all surfaces of the hallway. It reminds me of the servants’ halls one sees when touring a historical estate. Only, this one appears to be endless. The male voice grows in volume as does a young woman’s voice. One I do not recognize. Why would Nolyn be talking with a young woman? As I near the source, I realize the man’s voice is not Nolyn’s at all. In fact, it sounds eerily similar to Mr. Hellings’s instead. I step up to the door I hear the murmurs drifting through, place my hand on the doorknob, and open the door only a crack.
Kelsey Ketch is a young-adult/new-adult author, who works as a Wildlife Biologist and Data Analyst. During her free time, she can often be found working on her latest work in progress. She also enjoys history, mythology, traveling, and reading.

- Have you ever encountered anything supernatural? If so, what happened?

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been very sensitive to spiritual energy. I can often sense spirits, memories, or any energy imprint. Even when it’s connected to the smallest of objects. Sometimes I hear them, and occasionally, even see them. One of my more notable experiences occurred while staying in Ouray, Colorado. It was the summer semester of my sophomore year, and I was traveling across the state as an intern for my university’s herbarium. During these travels, my mum and I decided to spend the weekend in Ouray to take in Cascade Falls Park.

Walking along Main Street after an evening meal, I got a familiar sensation. Not the classic tingling of goosebumps nor the raising of hairs others often describe. In my case, it’s more like a heavy blanket has been draped over my aura or a lingering touch to certain parts of my skin. I instinctively turned my attention to the third-floor windows of a historic brick hotel, where I feel the presence’s gaze. All the white curtains are drawn. Yet, in one of the windows, I spied an outline of a woman gazing out at the street. Her figure was transparent enough to see the curtains behind her, but opaque enough to note her skin was pale and her hair was as black as night, tied in a bun on top of her head. And her old fashion blouse was as white as the curtains behind her.

As with other ghosts I have encountered, I know she’s there, yet at the same time, something in the back of my mind always doubts my senses. So, to be sure, I asked my mum if she sees anyone standing in any of the third-floor windows. After a moment, she confirms she does not.

The woman didn’t disappear as we continued down the street, nor did the woman take notice that I was continuously watching her from the street. It was the longest a spirit had appeared to me since I was a small child. On top of that, questions plagued my thoughts. Why was I seeing this spirit? What was the building’s history? Was there a known haunting in the hotel, or have I stumbled on something no one knows about? As we walked back to our hotel (which was three blocks from the historic hotel on Main Street), my mum finally convinced me to ask the receptionist.

Self-conscious about the matter, I start the conversation with a simple question: does the historic hotel up the street have a haunted history? The receptionist first verified which hotel I was speaking about, smiled, and then went on to tell us of a woman who was murdered there. A woman whose spirit was said to still be seen wandering the halls by many of the guests who witnessed her.

It was at that moment I figured I had seen the same woman the receptionist described in her story. Only I hadn’t seen her in the halls of the building, but in the window of one of the rooms. I didn’t ask anymore questions, but when walking the town, I continued to look up at the third-floor windows. I didn’t physically see the spirit during the rest of my weekend trip, but I knew she was still in the building, somewhere. I felt her energy every time I walked past.
One Winner: A signed copy of Bly by Kelsey Ketch and a lavender wand. (US only)
Ten Winners: eBook of Bly by Kelsey Ketch sent through Bookfunnel (Worldwide)

(All the Ups and Downs is not responsible for this giveaway, its entries, or the prizes. Lola's Blog Tours assumes all responsibility for this giveaway.)

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Saturday, September 25, 2021

Book Blitz and Giveaway - Mistle Text: 'Twas the Text Before Christmas...(An Accidentally in Love Story #5) by Whitney Dineen & Melanie Summers

Title: Mistle Text: ‘Twas the Text Before Christmas…
Series: An Accidentally in Love Story #5
Authors: Whitney Dineen & Melanie Summers
Publication Date: September 25th 2021
Print Length: 310 pages
Genre: Romantic Comedy

Twas the text before Christmas…

Twenty-eight-year-old Holly Snow is the only mother her four-year-old niece remembers. Three years earlier, when her sister and brother-in-law were killed, Holly’s dream of becoming an international flight attendant was put on hold so she could be home for baby Faith. Holly is doing everything she can to keep the rent paid, including working as an online travel agent, filing medical claims, and cleaning apartments in her building. When her friend Maggie tells her that her boss needs someone to buy his Christmas gifts, she leaps at the opportunity.

Tall, dark and Scroogy, investment banker, Archibald Harrington is too busy to do his own Christmas shopping. When his assistant tells him she knows of a professional shopper, he happily checks another dreaded task off his holiday list. The last thing Archie is expecting is for his hired elf to text him insistently to find out more about the people on list. The last thing Holly expects is to develop feelings for grumpy man who’s stealing her Christmas spirit.

Will there be a Holiday miracle, or will Holly and Archie miss their chance at love? Find out in the fifth installment of the Accidentally in Love Series.

Goodreads * Amazon

When we walk into Farantelli’s, we see Toni standing in line. She’s holding our place, which is good because the line wraps around the room nearly twice. Everyone wants to eat out on Saturday.

“Heya girlies.” She turns to hug us. “Lunch is on me today.”

“No way, Aunt Toni, I’m buying,” Faith says.

“Your money’s no good here,” Toni tells her. Then she looks at me and says, “We’re celebrating!”

“What are we celebrating?” I could really use some good news right about now, so I hope it doesn’t have anything to do with the Jets winning. I couldn't care less about sports.

“I may have figured out a way to solve your cash flow issue.”

Please God, let it not involve lap dances. Toni’s sister works at a gentlemen's club and the last time I complained about money, she suggested asking Tonya if there were any openings.

I give her a skeptical look while we take a couple steps forward in the line.

Toni immediately knows what I’m thinking of and whispers, “Not that. Although, cha-ching! Tonya’s pulling in eight hundred in tips on the weekends alone. She figured out this new way to slide down the pole … apparently it’s quite the hit.”

“What pole?” Faith asks in her loud preschool voice. “And how does Auntie Tonya slide down it so special?”

I glower at Toni, who gives me an apologetic look. “You’ve got such good hearing, kiddo.”

“The one at the big park,” I tell her.

“Oh yeah, that’s the best pole in the city,” Faith announces authoritatively.

We’re next in line, so by the time we order, get our food, and snag a table up against the window, I’ve all but forgotten about Toni’s latest “get rich quick” plans. We peel off our jackets and breathe a collective sigh of relief as the air becomes less stifling. After we hang them over the wooden chairs, we finally settle down to eat. Faith unwraps her sandwich and carefully smooths out the paper to turn it into a makeshift plate while I open her bag of plain chips for her.

“Okay, so I’ve got three words for you,” Toni says, her words muffled by her tuna salad on rye. “Rent-a-Pal.”

“What?” I ask, pouring out the chips.

“Rent-a-Pal. It’s a new website that people can advertise themselves on. You can make anywhere from twenty to fifty bucks an hour, just hanging out with someone who needs a friend,” she says.

“That sounds really sketchy.”

“It’s not. I read an article about it on Buzzfeed. Totally above board. For the most part,” Toni says.

“Come on, for fifty bucks an hour, there’s got to be a catch,” I tell her, having my first bite of my clubhouse. Oh, yes … salty bacon goodness with just the right amount of melted cheese, crisp lettuce, fresh tomato, turkey, and ham. It’s my meat for the entire week, so I’m going to enjoy every bite.

“Well, I guess some of the people have some … odd hobbies that they want you to participate in,” Toni admits. “Like this one old lady who wants someone to praise her while she licks stamps during their hang out sessions.”

I narrow my eyes. “Okay, yup. Let’s strike Rent-a-Pal off the list.”

“Fifty bucks an hour,” Toni says slowly. “You’re telling me you can’t say ‘good job’ to someone for that kind of cash?”

“You mean a total weirdo,” I say.

“Auntie Holly, you said it’s not nice to call someone a weirdo,” Faith tells me, giving me a look more suited to a sixty-year-old librarian.

“You’re right, Faith, that wasn’t kind of me.” I wipe some red sauce off her chin, and I turn back to Toni. “I really appreciate you coming up with ideas. Honestly, I do, but I can’t see myself wanting to get involved in that sort of work.”

“All right,” Toni says with a shrug. “But your insurance is due soon and last time we talked, you couldn’t cover it.”

Insurance is our code word for the Dartmouth tuition fee—who names a preschool after an Ivy League university? Talk about overselling yourself. I lose my appetite the second the topic of insurance comes up. I was supposed to have paid for the next semester already and I’ve just been sent my third reminder notice. If I don’t scrape it together by Christmas, they’re going to “rescind her invitation.”

“I know. But I should have it soon. That woman I’ve been trying to sell the Disney cruise package to is making her decision today, and honestly, I think this one is going to happen. Family reunion for twenty people. Twenty. It’ll cover the … insurance for sure.”

Toni’s eyebrows knit together. The last three “sure thing” vacation packages I was about to sell all fell through.

I’m lucky to have such a good friend who cares so much, not only about me, but about Faith too. Needing a break from my problems, I shift the conversation to Toni’s job as the executive assistant to Archibald Harrington the Third, bazillionaire investment banker and workaholic extraordinaire. Toni’s always got stories about him that make Faith and me laugh.

“His Highness has decided we all need to work through Thanksgiving this year,” she says, rolling her eyes. “Apparently ‘hostile takeovers don’t care if I want to eat pumpkin pie.’”

“Seriously?” I ask. “You should just quit. Or at least threaten to quit so he’ll give you the holiday off.”

She slides a chip off Faith’s wrap and pops it in her mouth with a wild grin on her face. “Mr. Harrington’s not the kind of man you play chicken with, or as he would say, ‘with whom you play chicken.’ If I threaten to quit, I have to be prepared to walk, and it’s too good of a job for that.”

I let out a sigh that’s meant to permanently expel my frustration at the ways of the world. “That’s why the rich just get richer …”

“True,” Toni says. Then she smiles at me. “Which is why I’m going to learn everything he knows about getting rich. Then we’ll do it too.”

“Um … I’m pretty sure being born one of the heirs to the Harrington fortune is step one, and neither of us was lucky enough to be born into that family,” I say, chewing on my bottom lip instead of my sandwich.

“Buck up, little camper,” she says. “And remember, we can do this. We just have to embody our inner Oprah.”

Oprah’s our touchstone for going from rags to riches. She did it on her own without compromising her values. “You’re right,” I say, glancing at my niece who is now building a teetering chip tower. “I can be Oprah.”

“Yes, you can, Holly. You just have to figure out what path is going to lead you there.” And that’s the problem …
Whitney loves to laugh, play with her kids, bake, and eat French fries -- not always in that order.

Whitney is a multi-award-winning author of romcoms, non-fiction humor, and middle reader fiction. Basically, she writes whatever the voices in her head tell her to.

She lives in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with her husband, Jimmy, where they raise children, chickens, and organic vegetables.

Gold Medal winner at the International Readers' Favorite Awards, 2017.
Silver medal winner at the International Readers' Favorite Awards, 2015, 2016.
Finalist RONE Awards, 2016.
Finalist at the IRFA 2016, 2017.
Finalist at the Book Excellence Awards, 2017
Finalist Top Shelf Indie Book Awards, 2017

Melanie Summers also writes steamy romance as MJ Summers.

Melanie made a name for herself with her debut novel, Break in Two, a contemporary romance that cracked the Top 10 Paid on Amazon in both the UK and Canada, and the top 50 Paid in the USA. Her highly acclaimed Full Hearts Series was picked up by both Piatkus Entice (a division of Hachette UK) and HarperCollins Canada. Her first three books have been translated into Czech and Slovak by EuroMedia. Since 2013, she has written and published three novellas, and eight novels (of which seven have been published). She has sold over a quarter of a million books around the globe.

In her previous life (i.e. before having children), Melanie got her Bachelor of Science from the University of Alberta, then went on to work in the soul-sucking customer service industry for a large cellular network provider that shall remain nameless (unless you write her personally - then she'll dish). On her days off, she took courses and studied to become a Chartered Mediator. That designation landed her a job at the R.C.M.P. as the Alternative Dispute Resolution Coordinator for 'K' Division. Having had enough of mediating arguments between gun-toting police officers, she decided it was much safer to have children so she could continue her study of conflict in a weapon-free environment (and one which doesn't require makeup and/or nylons).

Melanie resides in Edmonton with her husband, three young children, and their adorable but neurotic one-eyed dog. When she's not writing novels, Melanie loves reading (obviously), snuggling up on the couch with her family for movie night (which would not be complete without lots of popcorn and milkshakes), and long walks in the woods near her house. She also spends a lot more time thinking about doing yoga than actually doing yoga, which is why most of her photos are taken 'from above'. She also loves shutting down restaurants with her girlfriends. Well, not literally shutting them down, like calling the health inspector or something--more like just staying until they turn the lights off.

She is represented by Suzanne Brandreth of The Cooke Agency International.

Website * Goodreads *
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Win a $25 Amazon gift card - two winners!

(All the Ups and Downs is not responsible for this giveaway, its entries, or the prizes. Xpresso Book Tours assumes all responsibility for this giveaway.)

Friday, September 24, 2021

Blurb Blitz and Giveaway: Hunt (Sin City Wolf #2) by January Bain

Welcome to my stop on the blurb blitz for Hunt (Sin City Wolf #2) by January Bain. This blitz was organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. On my stop, I have an excerpt from the book. There's also the blitz wide giveaway for a chance to win a $50 Amazon or Barnes & Noble gift card. Be sure to check out the other stops on the blitz for more content. Enjoy!
Title: Hunt
Series: Sin City Wolf #2
Author: January Bain
Publication Date: September 21st 2021
Print Length: 171 pages
Genre: Paranormal Romance
To be chosen is everything.

Billionaires. Scholars. Relic hunters.

Alessandro and Maximus Luceres are a united force and dangerous wolves to cross. Members of the powerful House of Luceres, they have spent their lifetimes searching the world over for the Lupus Sanguis Chalice, the fabled wolf blood chalice reputed to save the life of a human bitten by a werewolf during the first full moon.

But never in all their travels did the twins expect to find their possible Forever Mate, much less discover the beautiful Trinity Wells to be in league with their sworn enemies, the nefarious House of Ribelle, who are seeking the precious chalice by any means necessary and want Trinity to mate with one of their own.

Shockingly, Trinity is bitten by a Nomad wolf, starting the clock ticking down to her possibly fatal transformation and making the discovery of the chalice all that more vital.

Will Trinity survive the change…and unite the pair of brothers rivaling to be her Forever Mates?

Trinity Wells laid the four of spades atop the ace and six of clubs, adopting an innocent and surprised expression. The male dealer frowned, unhappy that she’d beaten him yet again. All a card counter required was an eidetic memory and a family screaming at her to bring home the goods and they, too, would win as many hands of blackjack as humanly possible.

Maybe they can also earn a nickname. Not that The Chameleon was negative, more like appropriate considering the many appearances of Trinity, all devised from a one single suitcase stuffed with useful disguises. But then wasn’t everyone something of a chameleon, as John Locke suggested in Some Thoughts Concerning Education? We take our hue and the color of our moral character, from those who are around us.

There was nothing Trinity enjoyed more than a wise quote. She sprinkled her life and her research notes with them, trying to make sense of the world and the people in inhabiting it, especially her family. Her stomach tightened with thoughts of that complicated relationship. A childhood that had guilted her to the point she pretty much let them run amok over her needs. But what else was there to do?

Her parents had been there for her when no one else had been, had kept her from being driven crazy by her growing abilities when her brain couldn’t seem to shut itself off, taunting her day and night with thoughts and ideas. Making peace with her abilities had not come easily and as a small child she’d been certain that men in white coats would come for her, haul her away and lock her up tight in some dismal prison. Her parents had saved her from that. Kept her safe. And now I owe them big time.

She gathered up her chips and, tossing the dealer one, turned to make her escape. Never get greedy and take too many hands in any one place. Though her luck was better than average at the Glitter Palace—always a plus no matter how brilliant one was at counting cards—there was no point in pushing it.

“Miss, you need to come with us,” a security guard said, his face inscrutable, laying his hand with authority on her shoulder. He was a sturdy guy with wide shoulders and a well practiced ready-for-any-kind-of-action look.
January Bain has wished on every falling star, every blown-out birthday candle, and every coin thrown in a fountain to be a storyteller. To share the tales of high adventure, mysteries, and full-blown thrillers she has dreamed of all her life. The story you now have in your hands is the compilation of a lot of things manifesting itself for this special series. Hundreds of hours spent researching the unusual and the mundane have come together to create books that features strong women who live life to the fullest, wild adventures full of twists and unforeseen turns, and hot complicated men who aren’t afraid to take risks. She can only hope her stories will capture your imagination.

If you are looking for January Bain, you can find her hard at work every morning without fail in her office with her furry baby, Ling Ling. And, of course, she’s married to the most romantic man! Who once famously remarked to her inquiry about buying fresh flowers for their home every week, “Give me one good reason why not?” Leaving her speechless and knocking her head against the proverbial wall for being so darn foolish. She loves flowers.

If you wish to connect in the virtual world she is easily found on Facebook. Oh, and she loves to talk books…

January Bain will be awarding a $50 Amazon or Barnes & Noble gift card to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter. Good luck!

(All the Ups and Downs is not responsible for this giveaway, its entries, or the prize. Goddess Fish Promotions assumes all responsibility.)

a Rafflecopter giveaway