Friday, September 30, 2022

Book Blitz and Giveaway: Half Moon Whim (Half Moon Bay #5) by Erin Brockus

Title: Half Moon Whim
Series: Half Moon Bay #5
Author: Erin Brockus
Publisher: Green Sage Press
Publication Date: September 30th 2022
Print Length: 318 pages
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Sara and Jack… Will her searing flame scorch him to the bone?

Sara Collins never wanted to put down roots. When her sister offers her a job at the sunny Caribbean scuba diving resort she owns, Sara jumps at the chance to manage her own spa. Even if it means interacting with the divemaster who humiliated her.

Jack Powell is finding out his dream life is more challenging than expected. Especially after his boss’s sister moves to town—they don’t exactly get along. He tries to avoid the situation, which is difficult when he can’t stop thinking about her.

Throw in a handsome, successful developer who offers Sara everything she ever dreamed of, and she finds St. Croix might be exactly what she’s always wanted. But which man holds the key to her heart and her greatest dream?

Half Moon Whim is a standalone, sensual beach romance. This curvy girl, enemies-to-lovers novel is Book 5 of the Half Moon Bay series, and is the springboard into the next phase of this captivating series. Dive in today!

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Jack and Sara swam parallel to the beach and toward the apartment complex. She had to conquer her fear if she was going to pass her swim test. Once again, she felt the push of the water against her. She was already tired, and her heart pounded. Worse, the negative chatter in her head rose in magnitudes.

What am I doing out here? I’m not an athlete! I’m going to drown. Head back to shore before it’s too late!

She growled and told her inner voice to shut up, but a peek at the shore revealed they hadn’t moved much, though the beach was closer now—Jack was angling them in. Her stomach plummeted but she was determined to forge on, placing her head in the water and forcing her fatigued arms to turn over. Several strokes later, she couldn’t resist another peek at the shore.

The landmarks were nearly identical. The small sphere of dread that had been building in her stomach became a beach ball and tears threatened. Sara pulled up, breathing hard. “Jack! We’ve hardly moved. I can’t do this.”

“Sara, it’s fine.”

“What was I thinking? This was a stupid idea.”

He put both arms on her shoulders. “Sara—”

Her breath was coming faster and faster. “At this rate I won’t even be able to finish my swim test tomorrow.”


His shout finally got through to her and she snapped at him. “What?”

“Put your feet down.”

“And drown? You’re supposed to be helping me!”

He arched a brow. “Put. Your. Feet. Down.”

She did, and they landed in silky sand. The water was waist deep. “Oh. Ok, then.”

His face immediately softened, and a small grin cracked it. “See? You’re perfectly safe. But we’ve still got a way to go yet, so we need to get back to it. Just remember, if you get too tired or get nervous, you can always stand up. There’s no danger.”

“You’ll stay with me?”

“Of course. You got this.”

“I got this.”

They started swimming again, and Sara continued chanting, I got this. Now she stroked more confidently. It could have been due to the current slowing or the fact that she could stand whenever she wanted to, but she didn’t care. Jack stayed by her shoulder, and her self-confidence grew with each passing minute. His encouraging presence further reassured her, and they stroked their arms in unison, occasionally brushing fingers. A tingle of electricity rocketed through her every time they touched. The next time she sighted, their beach chair was closing in, and she increased her pace, a grin spreading across her face.

When the chair was directly across from their position, Sara stood and raised her arms toward the darkening sky. “Ha! I did it.”

The light was fading around them as Jack matched her smile. He reached up and gave her an enthusiastic high ten. “Of course you did!”

They smiled at each other as he entwined his fingers with hers, standing in the warm water with their hands clasped above their heads. Breathing hard, Sara stared into his beautiful, warm brown eyes. Their gazes locked and their smiles faded. She could feel every inch of where their hands touched, and she brushed her thumb over the back of his hand. Now her deep breathing wasn’t because of the swimming, and her desire to kiss him was overpowering. From the way he dropped his gaze to her mouth and held on, she wasn’t the only one.

Without a word, they moved toward each other. She met his lips, letting go of his hands to encircle his waist. His mouth was soft and warm, and the only sound around them was the ocean softly washing up on the shore. Jack cupped her head with one hand and wrapped the other around her shoulders, pulling her tightly to him.
Dive into a romantic escape!

Erin Brockus writes sensual contemporary romances set in exotic, tropical locales. Her books provide the perfect beachy escape from everyday life, and she features mature, relatable characters you actually enjoy getting to know. Count on plenty of adventure with a focus on the ocean, especially scuba diving.

Two of her greatest passions are scuba diving and travel, which combined to form the inspiration for her characters and stories. Sipping a cocktail on the beach after a morning of diving is her idea of the perfect day. Erin has even been known to pull on a drysuit and explore the cold, murky waters of the Pacific Northwest. She is also an avid runner and cyclist.

Erin lives with her husband (a scuba instructor) in the middle of Washington wine country. She is currently at work on the next Half Moon Bay installment.

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

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Thursday, September 29, 2022

Excerpt Tour and Giveaway: The Lost and Found of Green Tree by Bobbie Candas

Welcome to my stop on the excerpt tour for The Lost and Found of Green Tree by Bobbie Candas. 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 $25 Amazon or Barnes & Noble gift card. Be sure to visit the other stops on the tour for more exclusive excerpts. Enjoy!
Title: The Lost and Found of Green Tree
Author: Bobbie Candas
Publication Date: September 29th 2022
Print Length: 384 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction
Both heart-warming and gut-wrenching, the merging stories of Mariah and Nanette reveal their grit and determination as they attempt to carve out a better life for themselves during one the twentieth century’s most arduous decades.

Growing up in the rural village of Green Tree, Nanette is convinced she’s meant for a bigger life, perhaps in the spotlight of Hollywood. But selling popcorn in a Minnesota movie theater is a far cry from the glamor she dreams of; nevertheless, Nanette is undaunted by challenges.

Mariah, living just outside of Green Tree, yearns to move off the family farm and take on a modern job in a bustling city, but she’s sidetracked by love. By eighteen, she finds herself married to her high school sweetheart, giving birth to twin daughters, and living only a few miles from the home she grew up in.

As the economy worsens during the Great Depression, Nanette’s and Mariah’s lofty goals are forced to change as early tragedies confront both women. Brought together by a mutual friend, Nanette extends a generous offer to Mariah, but in time she exacts a frightening price.

**The book will be on sale until October 7th.**


Outside, I took in hungry gulps of the dark, frigid air, pounding on Samuel’s chest, then caressing him. In a pleading tone, with tears dripping on his face, I whispered, “Wake up Samuel. Come back. You are my life.” I gently laid him out on the snow-dusted yard, then ran to the garden shed, grabbed the wheel barrow, put him in it haphazardly. and pushed it back to the house. Dragging him inside, I placed him on the scuffed planked floor in the mud room.

I closed the door between the front room and kitchen, and lit a lantern. Holding it up to his face, I came to the sickening revelation that he was never coming back to me. The left side of his skull was crushed, probably from a fatal cow kick. Laying my head close to his chest I listened for a heartbeat, feeling for a pulse that was now gone. My stomach lurched as my hand grazed his head injury. I sat back on my knees, stunned, and began wailing while my entire world broke apart. Sam was everything to me and now that world was crashing in around me. Everything we had built together was in shambles.
I'm a Texas girl: grew up in San Antonio, went to school at UT in Austin where I earned my degree in journalism, and settled in Dallas where I raised a husband, two kids and a few cats. My husband, Mehmet, and the cats will probably disagree on who raised who, but I'm a sucker for a robust discussion.

For years I was involved in retail management, but have more recently focused on my writing, taking deep dives into the lives of my characters. When you can pry my fingers off the keyboard, I enjoy entertaining, sharing food and drink with friends and family. I enjoy shopping, usually on the hunt for apparel, with a special weakness for shoes, and will frequently jump at the opportunity of an unexpected trip to a far-away place.

And I always make time for reading. I keep a stack of novels ready and waiting on my night stand, with a few tapping their toe in my Kindle. I bounce around genres, and I’m always ready for a good recommendation.

Bobbie Candas will be awarding a $25 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 and the author assume all responsibility over this giveaway.)

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Book Blitz and Giveaway - Green House Haunting: An Andy Watts Ghost Column by Olivia York

Title: Green House Haunting: An Andy Watts Ghost Column
Author: Olivia York
Publisher: Lilac Ink Books LLC
Publication Date: September 29th 2022
Print Length: 208 pages
Genre: New Adult Supernatural Suspense

A terrible tragedy dead and buried. Can a young woman dig up the haunted truth without falling into madness?

Andy Watts needs a break. So when the struggling journalist is asked to revisit a fifty-year-old mystery, she jumps at the chance to move into an abandoned house and honor her long-gone mom by becoming a respected reporter. But she’s shocked when she discovers not only did a polio-stricken boy disappear from within its rooms, but his mother took a fatal tumble down the stairs.

Stonewalled by the locals and unnerved by unexplained events in the eerie home, Andy fears the town would rather bury evidence than admit one of their own could commit murder. And with the ghostly image of a youngster in leg braces persisting, she’s terrified by hints that the awful answer is calling from beyond the grave.

Can Andy deliver justice for the voiceless before she becomes the next victim?

Goodreads * Amazon *
Barnes & Noble * Kobo

Pushing the paper away, Andy sat back in the old, creaking dining room chair, half expecting it to crumble beneath her. She wasn’t sure what she had been looking for, but it was exactly as Lillian had said. Nothing more or less. Somehow, a chunk of her hair found its way between her teeth, and she chewed silently. She couldn’t help but feel like there should be more. However, a small piece of her psyche was screaming to be heard. Of course it feels that way. You know what it’s like to lose someone to an accident. It never feels right.

From where she was sitting, the family in the portrait she now knew to be Lillian, Anna, and little Linus caught her eye. She stared at it, imagining one of the fixed figures springing to life and starting up a conversation with her. Even from a distance, she recognized Anna hunching ever so slightly to prop her son up from under his arms. The boy’s quiet grin hid the terrible struggle he must have faced every day. No other word could describe this family’s life other than tragedy. Andy had an overwhelming desire to get as close to this family’s pain as possible. She tried to shake it off, but it clung to her like a cloak she couldn’t take off.

The moisture in her mouth evaporated, half from her nerves and half from the saltines she had downed. She knew where she needed to go before moving on with her research. Hanging prisms on the chandelier swayed, startling Andy. It must be a draft in the house, she thought.

She picked up the worn jean jacket she kept hanging on the hook in the foyer, rubbing her arms to keep the chills at bay. The door under the stairs stood tall and proud as if waiting patiently to be opened at last. She wiped off the sweat accumulating in her palm to get a good enough grip to turn the aging knob. Andy gritted her teeth as the door hinges shrieked before the silence strangled them upon stillness.

Darkness enshrouded the floor, but thankfully, the daylight, though obscured by thin clouds, still illuminated most of the stairs on the way down. Andy couldn’t help feeling strange as she hovered at the top of the stairs. The dark cavern below stared up at her. Something was moving. She watched, hypnotized by the ink black waves crashing against the sandy steps.
Olivia York writes supernatural suspense novels with family drama woven throughout (and hints of mystery). After a stint working for a local news station as reporter/anchor in the Midwest, she decided to make the switch to her imaginative side and write.

She is a lover of cats, road trips, and visiting old fashioned candy shops along the coast. Olivia lives with her husband and two cats, who are kind enough to humor her love of paranormal TV shows and never-ending collection of horror films.

Sign up for Olivia York’s Newsletter to find out about new releases, updates, cover reveals, and more!

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(All the Ups and Downs is not responsible for this giveaway, its entries, or the prize. Xpresso Book Tours and the author assume all responsibility over this giveaway.)

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Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Excerpt Tour and Giveaway: God of Summer by Kat Chant

Welcome to my stop on the excerpt tour for God of Summer by Kat Chant. This tour was organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. On my stop, I have an exclusive excerpt from the book as well as the tour wide giveaway for a chance to win a $25 Amazon or Barnes & Noble gift card. Be sure to visit the rest of the stops on the tour for more exclusive excerpts. Enjoy!
Title: God of Summer
Author: Kat Chant
Publication Date: September 12th 2022
Print Length: 380 pages
Genre: Dark Paranormal Fantasy
Back in the Bronze Age, Angus McCraggan sacrificed his life to break the Celtic curse laid on his kind. He failed. Millennia later, he returns to modern Ireland to find his people have become feral, vengeful shadows. With his hollow hill now packed with tourists, he uses his power to keep his past hidden.

Until an American calls him out.

Since a banshee attacked her as a teen, Erin De Santos has been tormented by dreams of a boy she’s never met. Armed with a new identity, she returns to the Emerald Isle determined to face her nightmare. But her discovery turns fatal.

When the banshee strikes again, Angus surrenders his heart—and his hope of freeing his people—to save her. With his life now hers and his curse descending, Erin must make a terrible choice: kill her savior or share his doom.

“You’re siding with him.” Gorge rose in his throat. “Several millennia to plot and scheme and this is your solution?” He shook his head. “I’ve had seven years living in this world, reliant upon those Manann considers our enemies, and they do not deserve this.”

“We cannot allow you to forsake your duty just because you would prefer to forget your past.”

“Forget?” Angus returned to his feet, the better to loom. “What happened feels like yesterday to me. And yet I can forgive those who played no part in our fate save to inherit what their ancestors took.”

“And so, after drinking yourself senseless, you betray your kin and destroy our hopes by wedding the O’Neill girl in front of witnesses with the Sight?”

“Caer shredded her soul, Bree. On my watch in a territory I defended.”

“Which justifies your decision?”

“I was no more going to restore a crazed killer with my heart than I’d offer it to you. I thought we had that long established, my sweet sister. If anything, I’d expect you to be grateful you’re spared the trauma of me marrying you.”

“It would be a trauma for you, too.”

She turned from him to look toward Newgrange. The rear of his monument, lacking the white quartz façade, could have been an ordinary hill.

He shook his head though she couldn’t see. “Not once you Chose me. You forget I held our father in my arms, covered in his blood. I know exactly how much he continued to love my mother even after she called for his death.”

“You shared your weak and broken heart with a dead woman. How can I explain what you’ve done so you understand?”

Breda’s voice licked at him with the low, intense heat of a furnace, each word a flame. As if he didn’t know he’d restored Erin to life by usurping rights that were not his and abdicated his responsibility to his kin by giving his heart.

“Perhaps use small words when you tell me.”

“Telling you teaches you nothing! I once thought as you did. To bridge our peoples, I saved a soul. The price I asked was so small: to be a friend to one in need. It proved too much to ask of an enemy. If you do not fulfill our Lord’s task, then he will use my act of mercy to betray us both, you thick-headed, noble-hearted fool.”

Her posture straightened and her expression grew distant, as it did when she drew on her authority as the Lady of the Land, the Bantiarná na hÉireann. “I grant you until summer’s peak to guide your people into the light and restore them to flesh, Óenghus Óg who some call Angus McCraggan. Should you fail in the attempt, or attempt to fail, then my Chief’s curse will fall on you in full.”
Kat Chant is an award-winning writer. A bookworm who grew into a history buff, she swapped beaches for castles and moved from Australia to the UK. When studying medieval history, she fell in love with a lad from Ireland…and fell in love with his country, too.

She and her family live in the heart of Ireland, surrounded by fields in forty shades of green.

Kat is a keen cook and often experiments with traditional farmhouse foods such as making bread, cheese, jam and liqueurs. She also decorates the occasional cake.

Kat Chant will be awarding a $25 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 and the author assume all responsibility over this giveaway.)

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Book Blast and Giveaway: An Amish Christmas Star with stories by Shelley Shepard Gray, Charlotte Hubbard, and Rosalind Lauer

Welcome to my stop on the book blast for An Amish Christmas Star with stories by Shelley Shepard Gray, Charlotte Hubbard, and Rosalind Lauer. This book blast was organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. On my stop, I have an excerpt from a story by Charlotte Hubbard. There's also the blast wide giveaway for a chance to win a $15 Amazon or Barnes & Noble gift card. Be sure to visit the other stops on the tour for more content. Enjoy!
Title: An Amish Christmas Star
Authors: Shelley Shepard Gray, Charlotte Hubbard, and Rosalind Lauer
Publisher: Kensington Books
Publication Date: September 27th 2022
Print Length: 352 pages
Genre: Amish Inspirational Romance Anthology
The crisp fragrance of pine trees and the warm spice of fresh cookies aren’t the only blessings that Christmas brings, and no one knows more about happy homecomings than three couples who are celebrating the greatest gift of all . . .

STAR OF WONDER by Charlotte Hubbard
When Raymond Overholt comes to Promise Lodge, hoping to sell the barnboard signs he’s painted with stars and Christmas messages, spirited young Mennonite Lizzie Zehr is intrigued. But any courtship between them will face fierce opposition from the bishop of Raymond’s Old Order community—unless someone can convince him that at the heart of faith lies love . . .

From Star of Wonder
by Charlotte Hubbard

After a deadly dull Monday morning of filling small plastic containers with colored sugars and Christmas jimmies, Lizzie Zehr loaded them onto her wheeled cart and headed into the main room of Promise Lodge’s new bulk store. It was boring work, all that scooping and labeling—repetitive and downright lonely, being stuck back in the warehouse by herself.

But compared to slaving in her older sister Maria’s bakery or, for years before that, running the household for their eldest, crippled sister, Malinda, it was a piece of cake.

And because Dale Kraybill was paying her, it was freedom. This job was her ticket to independence, an escape from the two bossy sisters who’d been running her ragged for most of her eighteen years. Their parents had passed when she was very young, so Lizzie’s sisters had raised her as best they could—and they expected her to be grateful. She was, of course. But she was also really tired of being at their beck and call.

Lizzie’s thoughts shifted into a higher gear the moment she spotted the guy who was talking to Dale. The two fellows were hanging wooden signboards, which caught her eye because of their sparkly gold stars—but the shimmer of their glittery paint paled the moment the younger fellow turned around. In his green paisley shirt, red jeans, and backswept black hair, he looked anything but Plain, and when he met her gaze through his red-framed glasses, Lizzie immediately knew they were soul mates. Like her, this free spirit was gnashing at the bit and refusing to conform to the religious limitations he’d been raised with.

Like her, he wanted out.

“Hey there,” he said. His voice, barely audible from across the cavernous room, spoke volumes to Lizzie’s restless heart.

Afraid to say something stupid, she merely nodded and held his gaze. She heard the secretive whisper of soft, small objects hitting a hard surface—or maybe it was the feathery swishing of angels’ wings—

“Lizzie, watch what—you’re spilling jimmies all over the floor!” Dale cried out.

She blinked. She had no memory of picking up a container, just as she didn’t realize she’d been squeezing it so tightly that the lid had popped off. The sight of red and green jimmies bouncing off her bare feet—she wore flip-flops year-round to show off her painted toenails—was suddenly the funniest thing she’d ever seen. As Lizzie sprinted into the warehouse for a broom, her laughter filled the store.

Her life was finally taking a turn for the better. She just knew it.
In 1983, Charlotte Hubbard sold her first story to True Story. She wrote around 70 of those confession stories, and she’s sold more than 60 books to traditional or online publishers. A longtime resident of Missouri, she’s currently writing Amish romances set in imaginary Missouri towns for Kensington. She now lives in Omaha, NE with her husband of 40+ years and their Border collie, Vera.
Charlotte Hubbard 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 and the author assume all responsibility over this giveaway.)

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Book Blitz and Giveaway: Escape Room Tango by CC Bridges

Title: Escape Room Tango
Author: CC Bridges
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Publication Date: September 28th 2022
Print Length: 292 pages
Genre: Contemporary Romance

David never expected to fall for his rival. After getting fired and dumped, he wasn’t even looking for a relationship. But she’s the one woman he can’t have—his business is the reason hers is failing.

Elena built her escape room like she rebuilt her body after the accident—piece by piece with determination. And this guy thinks he can show up and put in the minimal work? He deserved to have the fire inspector called on him.

But Elena can’t ignore the connection between them. Will she have to sacrifice her dreams for a chance at love?

Goodreads * Amazon *
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“Friendly competition? Is that why you chose to open directly across the street from me? I filed the permits and the business name with the city. You had to know I was about to open.” She watched confusion grow on his face. It made him look younger, almost vulnerable. She quashed any sympathy she had. “Don’t tell me. You didn’t do the market research?”

He shrugged. “I chose the strip mall because Tony’s dad owns it, and he gave me a good deal on rent.”

“Well, that sounds like a smart marketing plan.” She heard the edge in her voice. She had no patience for incompetence. Before she started this venture, she had done her homework, including taking business classes at the local library. Like her dancing, she poured all her time and attention into her business. To meet someone who didn’t do basic market research, who chose a location due to the cheap rent, well, that got her back up.

“My master’s degree is in chemistry, not marketing,” he snapped. “I don’t know everything.”

“Shocking to hear you admit it.”

He stared at her for a moment, his hands clenched into fists at his sides. “Are you seriously not going to let me into your room?”

She almost laughed. In any other situation the words would be incredibly suggestive. Instead she shook her head. “I’m sorry. I have to protect my work.”
CC Bridges spent her childhood visiting other worlds in books, comics, and the starship Enterprise. It's no surprise that she ended up a librarian, being surrounded by the books she loves so much. She writes about amazing worlds with honorable heroes. Her hobbies include paying money to get locked in a room for an hour so she can solve puzzles to escape, along with the aforementioned reading. She lives with her husband and son on the Jersey Shore. She is currently pursuing an MFA from Southern New Hampshire University.

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

(All the Ups and Downs is not responsible for this giveaway, its entries, or the prize. Xpresso Book Tours and the author assume all responsibility over this giveaway.)

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Tuesday, September 27, 2022

NBtM Virtual Tour and Giveaway: Welcome to Ms. Nelly's Sunday School Class by Chetoca Barfield

Welcome to my stop on the NBtM virtual tour for Ms. Nelly's Sunday School Class by Chetoca Barfield. This tour was organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. On my stop, I have an excerpt from the book as well as some sage advice for those wanting to get into writing or to become a published author. There's also the tour wide giveaway for a chance to win a $10 Amazon gift card. Be sure to visit the other stops on the tour for more content. Enjoy!
Title: Welcome to Ms. Nelly's Sunday School Class
Author: Chetoca Barfield
Publication Date: July 16th 2022
Print Length: 92 pages
Genre: Christian Children's Non-Fiction
Join in on the fun as Ms. Nelly teaches her Sunday school class how to interact with God. Each story in this collection is ideal for reading aloud in just five minutes - a perfect fit for bedtime, story time, or anytime!

Forgive Others as God Forgives

Victoria: Ms. Nelly, I have learned that forgiveness is hard to do.

Ms. Nelly: Yes, it is Victoria. Are you having a hard time forgiving someone?

Victoria: Yes, ma’am. I mean, it wasn’t even my fault.

Ms. Nelly: What wasn’t your fault?

Victoria: My sister and I argue all the time, but she has taken it too far this time.

Ms. Nelly: Ok. What happened?

Victoria: Our dad gave my sister and I a necklace. My sister loves this necklace. She wears it all the time except when she is playing sports or taking a shower.

Ms. Nelly: I see. Am I assuming your sister lost the necklace?

Victoria: No. The other day I went into my sister’s room while she was taking a shower. I saw her necklace on the dresser, and I wanted to try it on. When I picked up the necklace, I noticed it was broken.

Ms. Nelly: Oh dear, I’m guessing your sister is very upset with you?

Victoria: Yes, she is. This necklace is very special to my sister. This is the last piece of jewelry our father gave her before he passed away, but Ms. Nelly, I didn’t break the necklace; it was already broken.

Ms. Nelly: Did you explain that to your sister?

Victoria: I tried to, but she will not talk to me. When my sister walked into her room, she saw me holding the necklace and thought I broke it. She will not forgive me Ms. Nelly.
My name is Chetoca Barfield. I was born and raised in a small town located in Eastern North Carolina with my parents and 2 siblings; and older brother and younger sister. Growing up I had dreams of becoming a lawyer. There wasn’t anything that sparked this interest, but I knew early on in grade school that I loved to research and explain how things came to be.

Graduating from high school I knew that I would pursue criminal justice studies at Elizabeth City State University (i.e., ECSU) with hopes of having a career as a criminal prosecutor.

My freshman year in college I laid eyes on my dream guy who has been my husband for the last 19 years. I knew the moment I saw him walk out of the café I was going to marry him.

I know that may sound weird, but it’s the truth. Michael (my husband) and I didn’t begin dating until one year later. It’s funny how things happen, but that is a story for another day. In 2000 I graduated from ECSU and began working in corporate America a customer service representative. At the same time, I was studying to taking the LSAT to enter law school.

In 2003 Michael and I wed. Marriage was fun, enjoyable, and I didn’t want anything to interrupt our marital bliss 😊 except for the mini dachshund I adopted; his name is Baxter. Baxter was a welcomed interruption, but I thought that was all the interruption we needed. I made the decision to no longer pursue law school.

To be honest studying has never been my strong suit. Law school demands a lot of time and at that point in my life I wasn’t ready to commit. I enjoyed working in corporate America but knew staying in a customer service role wasn’t my “forever” career choice as I wanted to pursue a leadership role.

In 2006 I received my MBA degree from Strayer University. During this time my corporate career was starting to take off. I moved into a supervisory role and lead an operations team for a few years within the financial industry. In 2011, I was offered a higher-level leadership opportunity with a different financial institution.

It was the best decision I could have made for my career goals as I have thrived promotionally ever since. Leading teams for the last 15 years led me down an unexpected path; mentoring. I’ve mentored many colleagues and peers from a career development perspective. I must say this was an un-disclose passion that I didn’t know I had until I was knee deep in it.

As time progressed, mentoring evolved into to helping individuals, groups, etc. navigate life challenges. Growing up in my household my parents had a rule for my siblings and me. If we didn’t attend church on Sunday’s, we couldn’t go anywhere for the rest of the day. Every Sunday we were in church.

While I didn’t appreciate going to the church as much as I did at that time, I’m thankful that I did. It was through my Sunday school teacher that I learned how to develop a relationship with God. As I’ve grown in my walk with Christ this vital lesson has helped me through many difficult moments.

When COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020 all our lives were altered. The daily routines that were once in place was replaced with social isolation, mental health challenges, social injustice, and doubting faith. The need of having a healthy support system was magnified and this need lead to the birth of Treasured Possession.

Treasured Possession is a mentoring community that I created to provide encouragement, support, and tools to equip the body of Christ to lead healthy lives in body, mind, and spirit. The name Treasured Possession comes from Deuteronomy 7:6 (ESV) “For you are a holy people to the Lord your God; The Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.”

You & I are his most Treasured Possession.
- What is your number one piece of advice for someone looking to break into writing and/or getting a book published?

Times have changed from the days of when you needed a publishing house, the right PR firm, and so on and so forth. Today, you can be a self publishing author, but in order to do that you have to BEGIN. I think the best advice I've ever received was from my husband. He would say, "Chetoca, you have the world at your fingertips. Use it." I pass that same advice on to others who are looking to write and be published. Don't over complicate the process. You are looking at someone who has never had a desire to write let alone become a published author. If I can do it you can do really is as simple as BEGIN.
Chetoca Barfield will be awarding a $10 Amazon 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 and the author assume all responsibility over this giveaway.)

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Blog Tour: Beneath the Smiling Moustache: Love and Catastrophe in Istanbul—How I Was Swept Off My Feet by a Turkish Doctor (and a Ten Tonne Bus) by Belinda Lara Robinson

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Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Beneath the Smiling Moustache: Love and Catastrophe in Istanbul—How I Was Swept Off My Feet by a Turkish Doctor (and a Ten Tonne Bus) by Belinda Lara Robinson. This tour was organized by Lola's Blog Tours. On my stop, I have an excerpt from the book as well as a sweet guest post from the publisher. Be sure to visit the other stops on the tour for more content. Enjoy!
Beneath the Smiling Moustache book cover
Title: Beneath the Smiling Moustache: Love and Catastrophe in Istanbul—How I Was Swept Off My Feet by a Turkish Doctor (and a Ten Tonne Bus)
Author: Belinda Lara Robinson
Publisher: Belinda Lara Robinson Book Trust
Publication Date: April 25th 2021
Print Length: 348 pages
Genre: Non-Fiction Travel Memoir

When twenty-two-year-old Belinda Robinson travels to Turkey in 1990 as a part of a backpacking trip through Europe, she’s looking for an exciting adventure steeped in culture and history. What she doesn’t expect, is an avalanche of catastrophes that threaten to dramatically derail her plans.

After a harrowing and traumatic accident with a bus in Istanbul, she finds herself alone in a foreign country, abandoned by a heartless Australian Government. This poignant story of courage, resilience and accidental love is a journey of surprise as Belinda encounters a procession of compassionate Turkish people, in the most bizarre situations.

Beneath the Smiling Moustache is a comical, inspiring true story of humanity at its best, offering a unique insight into the challenges of travelling alone as a young woman, at a time of rising tensions in the Middle East.

A mosque whizzed past on the right-hand side, then another. It seemed like there was hardly enough time to count one before the next was there.

The speedometer now passed one hundred and sixty.

And ahead the road forked. The car veered left. A billboard promoting life insurance loomed, then receded. I glanced over the front seat at George—knees pressed together, hand clutching the door handle—I felt kind of lucky to be sitting in the back.

CLANK! I heard a piercing screech of metal. My heart dropped. Sparks trailed behind us as the screeching noise grew louder and louder. ‘George, what THE HELL was that?’

‘Whaaaat … I can’t HEAR you, BELINDA.’

‘I said,’ now shouting, ‘WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT NOISE?’

‘The EXHAUST. I think we just lost the EXHAUST.’

‘Oh Lord, that can’t be good!’

The congested terrain slid past, this way and that.

The driver, unfazed by the mayhem surrounding us, casually reached for his packet of Marlboro that was tucked behind the sun visor.

Surprisingly, he offered George and then myself a cigarette. The act reminded me of a gesture usually expressed to some poor soul about to face a firing squad. Neither of us smoked—but if I was ever going to take up smoking, now was the perfect time. He then lit one for himself.

We were still on the move, and ahead was a red light at a five-way intersection, and we were not slowing down.

‘STOP, you mad bastard,’ George yelled. With no form of safety restraint, he strangely leant forward and rested his arms and forehead on the dash in the brace position used for crashlandings in aircraft.

I heaved myself up and groped the driver’s arm. ‘Stop! STOP!’

The brakes squealed. The car slowed. Adrenalin surged through me once again, and I let out a deep sigh.

The more he slowed, the more I realised how fast we’d been going. Halfway across the line, we came to an abrupt halt. I looked at the driver. He was now glaring at the red light as if he were the victim of some type of injustice.

When the lights turned green, we moved off the highway and began to plough our way through the hordes of people that filled a maze of narrow inner-city streets and tiny alleyways.

To my relief, the din of urban clatter was soon drowned out by the powerful vocals of the muezzin when he called the faithful to noon prayer. Across the entire city, the call, the Adhan, was amplified from the speakers positioned on each mosque’s set of soaring minarets. Delivered melodiously, this mysterious voice was as soothing on the nerves as a big, fat, glass of red wine.

As I clutched a door handle with one hand and fanned myself with my hat with the other, I sat silent, smiling with apprehension. I couldn’t help but think that it was going to take more than a prayer to get us safely across town. It was going to take a miracle
Belinda Lara Robinson author picture
Belinda Lara Robinson was born in Sydney in 1968 and from a young age was determined to see the greater world outside of her childhood home in Macquarie Fields, Australia. In adulthood this drive took her around the world, and she travelled extensively through the Middle East, Asia, Europe, Britain and the United States.

Everywhere she went, Belinda was determined to experience and empathize with cultures different to her own. In her early twenties, she saw the warmth and generosity of a foreign culture first-hand when she was cared for by Turkish people after being struck by a bus in Istanbul. The memory of that time stayed with her and forms a key part of her memoir, Beneath the Smiling Moustache.

Belinda was a fighter with a heart of gold. She was passionate and thoughtful and determined to share the lessons she’d learned from her travels along with her innate joy and positivity in life.

Beneath the Smiling Moustache is Belinda's legacy and was brought to publication by a group of devoted friends and family determined to see Belinda’s dying wish become a reality after she was diagnosed with a rare form of blood cancer in 2018.

In 2021 I was approached by friends of the late Belinda Lara Robinson to help them realize her dying wish, which was to publish her memoir of the time her rollercoaster experience of visiting Istanbul as a young woman in the 90s.

I was living in Istanbul myself at the time—having settled there to wait out the pandemic after Australia locked its foreign residents out of the country—and was intrigued to learn about another Aussie woman’s experiences in a city I’d fallen madly in love with. After only a minutes of talking to Belinda’s friend Mark, hearing how vibrant and loving Belinda was, I knew I had to help.

Mark sent me Beneath the Smiling Moustache, and from the first page I was hooked. I recognized Istanbul immediately in the way Belinda described places that I walked past every day. She also talked about her love of the Turkish people with an openness I found charming. I could feel her personality and humor leaping off the page. I’d never met Belinda, but through reading her story, I felt like we would have definitely been friends.

Beneath the Smiling Moustache is not just a travel memoir, it’s also a tribute to a vivacious, incredible woman who was determined not to give in to the cancer that took her life until she finished writing it. As an author, I could relate to that.

If asked what my favorite part of Beneath the Smiling Moustache is, I’d say it’s the love behind the creation of the book, the love for Istanbul and its people that Belinda infused into her writing and the love of her friends and family that drove them to undergo the momentous task of realizing Belinda’s dream.

Beneath the Smiling Moustache is a brilliant story, but the story behind its creation makes it even more special.

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