Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Interview with Cheryl C. Malandrinos, author of 'Macaroni and Cheese for Thanksgiving'

Cheryl C. Malandrinos is a freelance writer and editor. She is the author of Little Shepherd and A Christmas Kindness. A blogger and book reviewer, she lives in Massachusetts with her husband and two daughters. She also has a son who is married.


About the Book:

Ten-year-old Macy is waiting for her grandparents to arrive on Thanksgiving. When the front door swings open, Grandma and Grandpa are covered with hugs and kisses. Crash! Everyone rushes in to find the dog gnawing a meaty turkey leg. Can Macy’s quick thinking save dinner?

Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Thanks for this interview, Cheryl.  Can we begin by having you tell us about yourself from a writer’s standpoint?
Sure thing. I’m a freelance writer, children’s author, and editor. A 2005 graduate of Long Ridge Writers Group, I began my career focusing on article writing. In 2008, I switched to fiction writing for children. I’m the author of Little Shepherd, A Christmas Kindness, and Macaroni and Cheese for Thanksgiving.
I’ve edited numerous manuscripts in a variety of genres and ghostwritten a Christian chapter book. In addition to being a book reviewer and blogger, I am on the planning committee for a local writers conference that takes place each fall at Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, MA. Though it’s been a few years, I’ve also held numerous writing workshops in our local school district.
When not writing, what do you like to do for relaxation and/or fun?

I’m a busy mom, but I do try to take some time for myself. I read most days and I garden when I can.

Congratulations on your new book! Can you give us the very first page of your book so that we can get a glimpse inside?

On the first page the reader meets ten-year-old Macy and her twin brothers. Macy is taking a breather from helping her mom with holiday preparations when Mark and Billy get into a fight over a video game.

Would you say it’s been a rocky road for you in regards to getting your book written and published or pretty much smooth sailing?  Can you tell us about your journey?

Since this is my third book, I know what to expect. The waiting time for an illustrator to be assigned to the project was the hardest part—it took a while because Guardian Angel Publishing (GAP) is such an active publisher of children’s books. Artist Marina Movshina created beautiful illustrations for this story. I can’t wait for you to see them.

If you had to summarize your book in one sentence, what would that be?

Ten-year-old Macy uses what she learned about the first Thanksgiving to help her family when the dog swipes the turkey off the table.

What makes your book stand out from the rest?

It’s not a Thanksgiving book about being thankful. When I first told our children’s librarian about the story that was what she liked about it. There are plenty of books out there to teach kids about being thankful. Macaroni and Cheese for Thanksgiving isn’t one of them. It might also stand out to readers of my books because it’s not the sweet story they find in my previous work. While there is a good message, it’s a zanier story than the others. 

If your book was put in the holiday section of the store, what holiday would that be and why?

Thanksgiving because the setting is Thanksgiving Day at Macy’s house.

Would you consider turning your book into a series or has that already been done?

This is really a stand-alone book. Little Shepherd and the next book that GAP has under contract, Amos Faces His Bully, are books in a series where I place fictional characters in the middle of Biblical events. Little Shepherd was about a shepherd boy on the night of Christ’s birth and Amos Faces His Bully is about a young boy who stands up to his bully when he hears about David facing Goliath.

What’s next for you?

I’m hoping to finish a middle grade historical novel I’ve been working on for the past few years. Feedback from my writing group has been very positive. In addition, I have several other picture books waiting for homes, so I want to focus on that in 2017.

Monday, December 19, 2016

T.O.E. Trilogy Sales Blitz!


Ground Zero
T.O.E Trilogy, Book 3
Author: Alecia Stone
Genre: YA Fantasy
Publication Date: February 17th, 2016

Book Description:
It happens every 26,000 years.

Only a few ever survive.

This time ...

No one will.

That is unless Charlie Blake can locate all four diamonds to restore the Talisman of El and receive his calling from the remaining three elements before the Annus Magnus strikes. With both Arcadia and the mortal world in a state of unrest, his life quickly spirals out of control as it seems everyone has put a bounty on his head. Maybe even his closest allies.

Not knowing who to trust, Charlie starts to dig up the past. When new revelations arise, he begins to question whether the Legion of Light really is what it claims to be and whether he's been fighting for the wrong side all along. The line between good and evil is no longer as clear-cut as it used to be, especially when it appears Charlie's destiny could very well be to destroy everything he loves.

Hero or villain? Charlie isn't so sure anymore.

Buy Links:

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Paradise Series Book Blast!

We're happy to host Deborah Brown's PARADISE SERIES Book Blast today! Please leave a comment to let her know you stopped by!

Title: Paradise Series
Author: Deborah Brown
Publisher: Paradise Books
Pages: 626 (total in series)
Genre: Mystery/Humor

Crazy in Paradise: Dying in the middle of the summer in the Florida Keys is sweaty business. Welcome to Tarpon Cove. Madison Westin has inherited her aunt's beachfront motel in the Florida Keys. Trouble is she’s also inherited a slew of colorful tenant's - drunks, ex-cons, and fugitives. Only one problem: First, she has to wrestle control from a conniving lawyer and shady motel manager. With the help of her new best friend, whose motto is never leave home without your Glock, they dive into a world of blackmail, murder, and drugs.

Deception in Paradise: Madison Westin is back!! The Florida Keys are hotter than ever.
With Madison's never-say-no style she's smarter and packing an attitude not to mention her Glock. This time, trouble rolls into Tarpon Cove in the form of Madison's ex-husband, Jackson Devereaux, whom she hoped to never see again. His arrival brings unparalleled chaos and an uninvited corpse. Teaming up with her hot friend, Fabiana, the two women go from chasing the usual cast of misfits and weirdos to hunting down a murderer. The action turns deadly serious when they stir up a nasty enemy as they try to stay one-step ahead in a game of cat and mouse that threatens their lives.

Trouble in Paradise: What is big news in small town Tarpon Cove? An accidental drowning or perhaps a ruthless murder? When a dead fisherman rolls up on shore, Madison cannot resist jumping into her new role as Private Investigator. But she soon discovers the people in The Cove who normally gossip about everybody's business are unusually tight-lipped. The bad tenant radar still not working, the cottages continue to be full of riffraff. Madison gets arrested, shot at, and outsmarted. She teams up with her best friend – the Glock carrying Fabiana. Together they take on cases no other investigators would ever touch!



Book Excerpt:
There should be a law in South Florida that a person can’t die during the summer. The death of a loved one was hard enough without the added humiliation of sweat. I felt it rolling down my back, like a stream trapped by the belt of my dress with nowhere to go.
My name is Madison Elizabeth Westin, and I’m seated at the funeral of my favorite aunt, people watching, of all things. Most of the mourners looked ready for a pool party, some of them in shorts and bathing suit cover-ups. I was the only one dressed in black; even my brother wore khaki shorts.
The minister began, “We are gathered here today to give thanks for the life of Elizabeth Ruth Hart, who shared herself with us. It is in her memory we come together and, for all she meant to us, we are thankful.”
My mother had named me after her older sister. Elizabeth was like a second mother to my brother Brad and me. We spent summers with her in Florida, running and playing on the beach, building sandcastles, and she was a regular visitor to our home in South Carolina.
After five years of not seeing her, I had packed for a several-month stay and planned to spend the summer with her. That’s when I got a phone call from her lawyer telling me she had died. I still found it difficult to believe it had happened so suddenly.When I walked into the funeral home earlier, the heat had smothered me; this main room was suffocating. The air conditioning wasn’t working and it felt as though it was more than one hundred degrees. The director, Dickie Vanderbilt, had apologized for that, telling me that the central unit had gone out earlier in the day. He informed me he had all of the ceiling fans on high, which, in my opinion, were only circulating hot air.
Dickie Vanderbilt gave me the creeps. He had a slight build, pasty white skin, and long skinny fingers. When he reached out to touch my arm, I tried hard not to squirm.
I’m not a big fan of shaking hands. I find people only want to shake your hand when they can see you’re not interested. A friend suggested I perfect the dog paw shake for those who insist. I extend my hand like a paw and let it hang loose. Often times, they jerk their hand away and give me an odd stare, which makes me want to laugh every time.
The minister rambled on. I found him to be uninteresting, his speech dry. He talked about Elizabeth as though she were a stranger to him and everyone here. Apparently, Elizabeth’s jerk attorney, Tucker Davis, hadn’t given the minister any information about her. I didn’t understand why my aunt left all of the details of her funeral to Tucker. Why would she exclude the people who loved her and knew her best from having input? I wished I had one more day to walk along the beach to laugh, talk, and collect shells with her.
On Sunday, Tucker called to inform me that Elizabeth had died in her sleep from a heart attack. “The funeral is Wednesday, 1:00 p.m. at Tropical Slumber Funeral Home on Highway 1 in Tarpon Cove,” he told me.
“I want to help plan the funeral.”
“All of the arrangements have been made.” He sounded impatient, emphasizing his words. “If you want to, you can call anyone else you think should be informed.”
“My aunt would’ve wanted her family to be involved in the decision-making for her funeral. After all, my mother, brother, and I are the only family she had.”
“Elizabeth appointed me executor. She left me written instructions for everything she wanted done after her death, including her funeral.”
I didn’t believe him. Elizabeth loved us. She never would’ve excluded her family in this way, knowing how important it would be to us.
“I oversaw all of the arrangements myself. I’m sure you’ll be satisfied. If you have any other questions you can call my assistant, Ann.” He hung up the phone.
My aunt never once mentioned Tucker Davis to me or anyone else in the family. Here he was, a stranger, handling her estate.
The next day, I called the lawyer back to tell him that Elizabeth’s sister Madeline, her nephew Brad, and I, would attend. He refused to take my phone call, and I was frustrated.
“This is Madison Westin. May I speak with Tucker Davis?”
“I’m Ann, Mr. Davis’s assistant. He’s not accepting calls at this time. Can I help you with something?”
“I wanted to ask again if there was anything I could do in preparation for Elizabeth Hart’s funeral? Surely, you can understand how her family would want to be involved in any final decisions.”
“Mrs. Hart wanted Mr. Davis to make those arrangements, and he has. She didn’t indicate that she wanted anyone else involved in the planning. I can assure you he’s seen to all of the details. He worked directly with Mr. Vanderbilt at the funeral home.”
“I’ll be arriving later today. Would you tell Mr. Davis I’m available to help with anything that needs to be done? He can reach me at Elizabeth’s house.”
“Does Mr. Davis know you plan to stay in Mrs. Hart’s house?”
“I don’t need Mr. Davis’ permission. I’ve never stayed anywhere but the Cove Road house, and this trip won’t be any different. If Mr. Davis has a problem with my staying there, he can call me,” I said.
“Any more messages?” Ann sniffed and, without waiting for a response, hung up on me.

About the Author

Redhead. Long legs. There's nothing like a strawberry-lemonade in summer. Favorite activity: Filling my pockets with seashells. An avid rule follower when eating Animal Cookies: Broken ones get eaten first, match up the rest, duplicates next, line them up favorite to not, least favorite go first. South Florida is my home, with my ungrateful rescue cats, and where Mother Nature takes out her bad attitude in the form of hurricanes.



Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Character Interview with Baldebert, star of The Bone Cave by Sarah Remy


Inside the Book:

Title: The Bone Cave
Author: Sarah Remy
Publisher: Harper Voyager Impulse
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Format: Ecopy /Paperback

Past Stonehill Downs, beyond unforgiving scrubland and perilous mountain peaks, militant tribes gather on white sand . . .

With the Red Worm plague vanquished, and Malachi and Liam safely returned from Roue, Avani expects life in Wilhaiim to return to normal. But Mal has been changed by his journey across the long sea, and now walks dangerously close to the edge of madness, while the horrors of war in a foreign land have transformed Liam from a naïve lad to a young man seeking his place as sidhe among mortals.

And the plague has left chaos in its wake: Wilhaiim’s priests are rising against King Renault, a serial killer is taking vengeance on His Majesty's unwary subjects, and someone is using forbidden bone magic to kindle the Automata—mechanized monsters born of ancient necromancy.

As Avani works to contain unrest and expose a murderer, she is unaware that a far greater threat is rolling in from the east: a bloodthirsty desert army intent on destruction. Magic will be tested and friendship tried as Avani and Mal battle new peril and old temptation in this stunning follow up to Across the Long Sea.


Thank you so for this interview, Baldebert. Now that the book has been written, do you feel you were fairly portrayed or would you like to set anything straight with your readers?
It's a fair portrayal of how I was treated, I'll give Sarah that much. I'm not a popular fellow, not since I stole away their magus. But I returned him in one piece, didn't I? Mostly in one piece. Malachi Doyle was mad to begin with, if you ask me.
What do you believe is your strongest trait?
Only one? I'm quick, I'm sturdy, and I'm clever. I'm a decorated ship's admiral, I know how to win a land war, and I make a fine cup of tea.
Worst trait?
Do you have a love interest in the book?
Nay. I'm a busy man with little time for romance. Which isn't to say I don't vision Whore's Street on occasion. But that's got nothing to do with love, has it?
At what point of the book did you start getting nervous about the way it was going to turn out?
To be honest, from the very beginning, when the good people of Wilhaiim began calling for my death.
If you could trade places with one of the other characters in the book, which character would you really not want to be and why?
That bloody black raven seems to have his stars aligned. Always conjuring up trouble, isn't he, but never catching any of his own? I wouldn't mind Jacob's lot in life. I think flying must be a little like sailing the ocean, don't you think?
How do you feel about the ending of the book without giving too much away?
I'm not one of the ones that get murdered, so I can't complain. Is that a spoiler?
What words of wisdom would you give your author if she decided to write another book with you in it?
She is writing another, and in it she's sending me to war in the desert, so I'd appreciate a few good soldiers to walk beside me. Also, I despise being parched, so mayhap an occasional surprise desert downpour. I think there's wisdom in survival, after all.
Thank you for this interview. 
My pleasure, I'm sure.


In 1994 Sarah Remy earned a BA in English Literature and Creative Writing from Pomona College in California. Since then she’s been employed as a receptionist at a high-powered brokerage firm, managed a boutique bookstore, read television scripts for a small production company, and, more recently, worked playground duty at the local elementary school. When she’s not taking the service industry by storm, she’s writing fantasy and science fiction. Sarah likes her fantasy worlds gritty, her characters diverse and fallible, and she doesn’t believe every protagonist deserves a happy ending. Before joining the Harper Voyager family, she published with EDGE, Reuts, and Madison Place Press. Sarah lives in Washington State with plenty of animals and people, both. In her limited spare time she rides horses, rehabs her old home, and supervises a chaotic household. She can talk to you endlessly about Sherlock Holmes, World of Warcraft, and backyard chicken husbandry, and she’s been a member of one of Robin Hobb’s longest-running online fan clubs since 2002. Find Sarah on Twitter @sarahremywrites, and on Tumblr at huntpeck.

For More Information

Visit Sarah’s website. Connect with Sarah Social-Network-Twitter    

Book Feature: Beckham 101 by Suzanne Eglinton

We're happy to host Suzanne Eglington's BECKHAM 101: THE KATE AND ROBERT CHRONICLES blog tour today! Please leave a comment to let her know you stopped by!

Title: Beckham 101: The Kate and Robert Chronicles
Author: Suzanne Eglington
Publisher: Xlibris
Pages: 280
Genre: Romantic Suspense

BECKHAM 101 is the third installment in the Kate and Robert Chronicles by author Suzanne Eglington. Eglington invites readers into the intimate inner world of the newly wedded duo as they learn to navigate life as a committed couple. Settling down brings new perspectives and people into Kate’s and Robert’s lives, along with the exposure of more of Robert’s mysterious past. For Kate, being married to a top cop means managing both desire and reality.
Following a one-week courtship, Kate submits to her love for Robert, an intense super cop who has been patiently waiting for his opportunity to seize the one women he truly desires. Their quick marriage means frequent amorous entanglements, but it also means that Kate’s knowledge of her new husband’s personal history is limited. Kate must steady herself to cope with the slow unveiling of her husband’s past.
Being the wife of an influential and respected police officer means a change in lifestyle for Kate. Robert is fiercely protective of his wife and enjoys spending as much of his free time with her as possible. Marriage to Robert means Kate has inherited a family of high-performing cops who not only open their hearts for her but also provide protection when ghosts from Robert’s past threaten to harm her.         
In BECKHAM 101, the author introduces new characters into the series, including Robert’s best friend, Jimmy and Kate’s wise and skilled Uncle Jack. As with the two previous books in the Kate and Robert Chronicles, Eglington’s mission is to offer readers a respite from their daily lives. “First and foremost,” Eglington says she wants her readers to feel “I have entertained you with my characters and possibly left a lasting enjoyable impression that fed the passion and intensity of the love between Kate and Robert. Second, that I was able to take you away from your everyday routine to enjoy some downtime with a story you are falling in love with.” Beyond the steamy intimacy and the thread of danger embedded in her stories, Eglington’s books also highlight the lives of cops. “My stories are about the lives cops lead away from the police department. I want readers to think of the men behind the badge and the people who could be in their lives.”
By gradually revealing some elements of Robert’s past in BECKHAM 101, Eglington is priming readers for the fourth book in this sexy and suspense-filled series.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Book Excerpt:

Everything Robert had said to me was playing over and over in my head.
“Don’t open the door for anyone. Liam and Kevin have a key. They will call first.”
     They will call first. . .  they will call first . . .
    Why would they break protocol? They were under Robert’s orders.
                  Liam phoned to tell me he had to go out on a call. “Don’t open the door for anyone. . .” And stupid, stupid me, here was “anyone” forcing her way into our home, radiating with conflict. She had caught me off guard, and as my brain started taking in what was happening, I had two choices because this was going to end badly. I could run downstairs, which would be another bad decision on my part. She knew the setup very well because that is where my husband used to take her and all the women he slept with. Talk about feeling used—he never let them sleep over or spend time with him. Hell, he didn’t even let them touch him. It was just sex and then they left.
                  This bitch in front of me—Ms. Fellow officers Christine Foss—was one of his regulars. I hated her so much. And I still hadn’t paid much attention to how the bottom floor was laid out. There was the gym, the bathroom, and a bedroom with a big storage area in the back. Did it have a door? Where was it located? Damn it! I do not like being vulnerable. Everything I needed was located upstairs. Outside of cleaning down there a few times, it was pretty much forgotten that it was part of the house.
                  Survival mode began to erupt. My dad’s poker face slipped on just like he and Uncle Jack taught me to show no emotion in a conflict. Uncle Jack said once they read fear, it’s all over.

About the Author

Suzanne Eglington is the author of the Kate and Robert Chronicles series. The three-book series follows the unfolding romance of top cop Robert Beckham and the ravishing Kate Quinn. The titles in the series are Inceptions, You and I, and the recently released Beckham 101. A fourth book in the Kate and Robert Chronicles series is forthcoming.

Suzanne currently resides in Central Massachusetts with her family.



Talking Books with Mike Hartner, author of 'I, Angus'

Mike Hartner was born in Miami in 1965. He’s traveled much of the continental United States. He has several years post secondary education, and experience teaching and tutoring young adults. Hartner has owned and run a computer firm for more than twenty-five years. He now lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, with his wife and child. They share the neighborhood and their son with his maternal grandparents.

Mike’s latest book is I, Angus (The Eternity Series Book 4).

For More Information
About the Book:

During a time of civil strife and purging the North has lost more men to Wars then it ever did to Nature.

Angus has grown up learning that his life is better off with only him and a family. But is that really in
the Grand Plan.

The North needs someone to build community.

But first, Angus needs to be forged... beaten, shaped, bolded and trained.

Watch as Angus hits both lows and highs across the lands of England, Scotland and France, before meeting a challenge of new land.


Thanks for this interview, Mike Hartner.  Can we begin by having you tell us about yourself from a writer’s standpoint?

  From a writer’s standpoint I’m constantly learning new things about characters, and conversation, and points of view.  And I’m trying to incorporate that into my next book.

When not writing, what do you like to do for relaxation and/or fun?

The question’s a bit backwards.  Writing is my relaxation and fun.

Congratulations on your new book! Can you give us the very first page of your book so that we can get a glimpse inside?

It is a few days before my fifteenth birthday, and I have been scrubbing the castle floors all morning. I stand and the wind blows hard in my face, moving my reddish-orange hair from in front of my hazel eyes as I stretch my 5-foot 7-inch frame and look out the window.
The sky is dark and gloomy, but I can’t smell the rain yet, so I know a long time will pass before it pours down on our shire in North Scotland. In the far distance, I observe something moving toward our castle. It’s not long before I recognize my da’s charger. I can see others giving chase, although they’re quite a ways back. I run to open the gate and lower the drawbridge. I yell for my sister Janet to help me, because cranking it upright in a hurry is no small chore for one person.
The drawbridge has just been lowered when the hooves of Da’s horse, Spirit, come galloping across it. My sis does her part, and we quickly raise the bridge and race to the stallion and its rider. We arrive to hear the sound of arrows hitting the drawbridge and men yelling imprecations.
The heavily lathered stallion stands impatiently. On the horse’s back is its owner, Sir Donald Mackenzie, my da’. He is doubled forward, holding on to the mane, with an arrow in his upper left shoulder and another sticking out from his right calf. He wears a blue bonnet, along with a plaid kilt depicting our family’s lineage. A true archer, Da’s bow dangles on his back, diagonally between his shoulders.
The men on horseback, of which there are four, think better of trying to ford our moat, and they ride off. Lucky for us they don’t know that at that moment we are alone in the castle. Sis and I remove Da’ from the horse, and supporting our father between us we hurry him to his bed, where she begins ministering to his wounds.
I wonder what has caused this terrible event? My father had left several days ago with my much younger sister, Alice, to take her to a neighboring laird who had offered to have her schooled. I had watched my da’ the night before give Alice a family heirloom. It wasn’t much, but it was a locket that his great-grandmother had passed down to my grandmother who had passed it down to my mother, who was no longer with us. I remember Da’s telling us once that the tiny case had been given to our family on the occasion of an aunt’s marriage into the Clan MacDonald. I’d seen the engraving it held: two shields together, with their crests, one on the front, one on the back. And I recall Alice's telling him, as he fastened it to her neck, that she’d forever wear it proudly.
I’d learned, however, not to believe much of what Alice said of late, as she was always coming up with whatever she thought would gain her purchase. But Alice was the oldest daughter—now eleven while Janet, who is every bit as tall as her and twice as strong, is but nine—so the keepsake rightfully should go to her.
Da’ was onto her though, and I think he’d worked out something with Laird MacLaren to see that she learned manners and honor as much as anything. Aye, but I also thought it might do her good to get set down a peg, as the MacLarens were wealthy landowners and not to be trifled with. It crossed my mind as well that Da’ hoped she might find a man of some stature someday who’d marry her, which would solve all the problems with Alice’s odd ways, as she never seemed happy with what Da’ provided for her. No matter, she would be schooled, and if nothing else she’d see other girls her age and how they acted. She would come back a better person—if she chose to return at all, which I highly doubted.
Da’s ride should have been a day out and a day back, with a day in-between to enjoy the hospitality of the laird. You see, this is the North of Scotland, and all of our families know each other, and no one just comes and goes, even if they are not related.
My da’ is hurt bad, and even with Janet and me by his side, the conditions are grim, as there is only so much we can do. I bring him food when sis has it ready, but I take it away when it isn’t touched four hours later. All he can do is let out an occasional groan.

Would you say it’s been a rocky road for you in regards to getting your book written and published or pretty much smooth sailing?  Can you tell us about your journey?

 The journey to publish has been fairly consistent.  I went through the processes during the run up to the publish of I, Walter.  And I listened to the feedback that I received.  The gist of the replies was that there were two many cross genres in my writings, and nothing stood out to make it easier for them to sell.  So, I went with a small publisher:
Eternity4Popsicle Publishing. And never looked back.

If you had to summarize your book in one sentence, what would that be?  

I, Angus  is the story of Angus Mackenzie, a Scottish lay-priest.

What makes your book stand out from the rest?

 I believe that what makes I, Angus stand out, much like the rest of The Eternity Series, is that all of these books deal with the human condition.

If your book was put in the holiday section of the store, what holiday would that be and why?

I think that I, Angus, like the rest of The Eternity Series, feed the soul, and as such can be placed in any holiday’s section. Because I, Angus is less of a romance and more of historical fiction, his story is more likely in the section around Christmas for the uplifting struggle to help others; or Summer Reads,  for the independent spirit in the story.

Would you consider turning your book into a series or has that already been done? 

Definitely. That’s already been done.  This is book four in the series. And book 5 is being worked on.

What’s next for you? 

Next is book five. I, Alice should be a challenge to write.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Book Spotlight: Journey To The Cross by Shane Cloonan

Inside the Book:

Title: Journey to the Cross
Author: Shane Cloonan
Publisher: State Street Publishing
Publication Date: September 11, 2015
Pages: 35
Genre: Children's Christian Fiction

This is the story of the Jesus donkey, a fictional tale that takes readers on a journey from our Lord's birth to his ultimate crucifixion. Though written and illustrated for young readers, this book is perfect for people of all ages who want a fresh, youthful perspective on the life of Jesus. The book's message is imbued in the strength and simplicity of hearts that are linked to other hearts by Jesus. Journey to the Cross follows the light of hope that first appeared on that special night in Bethlehem.

Journey to the Cross helps answer questions that young people ask about the life of Jesus.

For More Information:
Journey to the Cross is available at AmazonBarnes & NobleGoodreads
Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club on Goodreads

Meet the Author

Shane Cloonan began writing Journey to the Cross as a sixth-grader at a Chicago-area Catholic school.

While his own journey to the publication of this book took three years, it was a complete labor of love. Shane is an avid outdoorsman. He also is an accomplished woodcarver. Shane took third place in his age group and category two years ago at the Ward World Championships Wildfowl Carving Competition in Maryland, then followed that up with a first-place finish in the International Woodcarvers Congress competition in Iowa.

Animals and pets of almost every shape and size have always been a big part of his life. It’s one of the reasons why he used a donkey as his lead character—a donkey that tells the most profound story in human history.

You can visit Shane’s website at www.shanecloonan.com

For More Information:
Author Website

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Colorado Dream Book Blast

We're happy to host Charlene Whitman's COLORADO DREAM book blast today!  Please leave a comment to let her know you stopped by!

Author: Charlene Whitman
Publisher: Ubiquitous Press
Pages: 450
Genre: Sweet Historical Western Romance

Yearning to become a concert musician, a young woman from New York travels to Colorado to purchase a violin, but when she meets a wild, untamable cowboy, her dream is threatened and her heart torn ...
In New York in 1877, Angela Bellini longs to become a concert violinist and get away from her abusive father. When her dream takes her to Greeley, Colorado, to purchase a violin from a master instrument maker, she learns she must wait three weeks until her violin is ready before she can head home.
Angela is determined not to let anything or anyone waylay her dream, but when she meets rough-and-tumble cowboy Brett Hendricks, her heart is torn. He is her opposite in every way—uncouth, cocky, and reckless. But she is hopelessly drawn to him, like a moth to flame.
Brett Hendricks is on the run—not just from an angry rancher who is tracking him down for shooting his son but from a dark and troubled past plaguing him with guilt and shame. A wild, untamable cowboy, Brett can break any horse with a soft touch and soothing word, but nothing in the world can bring him peace. He fears he will never stop running, never see his dreams of ranching realized.
But then, one evening, he hears sweet violin music that seeps deep into his soul--music that floods him with peace. He falls hard for Angela but knows she plans to leave Colorado. All his attempts to win her heart fail disastrously, and though he buries himself in the cattle roundup, when he helps thwart a rustling outfit, his enemies multiply.
Somehow he must find a way to gain Angela's heart and trust. And somehow Angela must break past her distrust of men to discover the love awaiting her with open arms.
Pick up your copy at:


Book Excerpt:
Chapter 1

September 9, 1877
New York City, New York

The slap on Angela Bellini’s cheek burned, but not as fiercely as the hurt in her heart. The pain and disappointment smoldering there sizzled like hot embers, threatening to reduce her to a pile of ash. She glared at her father’s back as he stomped out of the room.
Why couldn’t her papá understand? She would not marry Pietro, no matter how wealthy his family was, no matter how many years her papá and his had planned such an arrangement. “It is our way, Angela,” he had told her again, his face hard and eyes dark and menacing, leaving no room for debate. “And you will marry him. You are twenty years of age—you are lucky he is still willing. You’ve made him wait long enough.”
When she forced her objections past the rock lodged in her aching throat, she knew what would follow. What always followed. Her papá’s rage erupted in a torrent of Italian curses that ended with a slap that knocked her nearly senseless against the foyer wall before he stormed out the apartment.
As she slid down in a heap by the front door, she had caught a glimpse of her mamá in the kitchen, her back turned to her in unspoken submission. Angela huffed. I will never marry and become like you, Mamá—squashed under the thumb of some man who wants only subservience and a crowded apartment full of squalling babies.
 She swallowed back tears. She would not cry—not today. Today she would take the first steps—real steps—toward her dream. And no one, not even the powerful and prominent Giusepe Bellini could stop her.
Their tiny stuffy apartment rumbled—as it always did six times a day and twice each night—from the Third Avenue El Train fifty feet away. The noise of the wheels clacking and the platform rattling mingled with the loud voices of her downstairs neighbors arguing—Mr. Paolino’s tenor to his wife’s shrill soprano. Outside her window, carriages clattered on cobblestones in sharp staccato, and shoppers and merchants carried on in boisterous conversation, sounding no more pacifying than an orchestra tuning their instruments.
On most days Angela could drown out the suffocating symphony of Mulberry Bend by rehearsing violin caprices in her head, imagining her fingers flying over the fingerboard, her right hand bowing the strings, eliciting the sweet and sonorous timbre of her instrument.
But on this stifling, humid September afternoon, the many pieces she’d memorized—no, absorbed into her very soul, as if food that nourished her—flitted away, out of reach, as she pulled down the heavy carpetbag from the hall closet—a bag that she’d found months ago stuffed behind a stack of wool blankets.
She stopped and listened. Her mama was humming in the back room as she folded laundry. Her two younger siblings were off playing with neighborhood children—in the street, no doubt, as the sweltering heat was worse indoors.
Angela’s hands shook as she dabbed her perspiring forehead and neck with a handkerchief and went through her mental list of all she would need on her trip. Not much—she’d only be gone ten, perhaps, twelve days, if all went as planned. She pushed from her thoughts her papá’s impending fury at her insolence and the resulting punishments that would await her upon her return. But she had made her decision, and there was no turning back.
Hurry, she told herself. Her papá had gone downstairs to the corner market, and while he often spent an hour or more on Sunday afternoons smoking cigars with the men of the neighborhood, discussing the politics of her close-knit Italian community and their various business ventures—and arranging their daughters’ marriages, she thought bitterly—he could return at any time.
In her bedroom, she gathered the neat stack of clothes she had put in her bottom dresser drawer, then stuffed them into the traveling bag along with her few womanly items, her prayer book, some sheets of music, and a spare pair of shoes. She checked her reticule and found the roll of bills—the money she’d earned over the last two years from babysitting and teaching music lessons through Signore Bianchi’s instrument shop on Second Avenue. She hoped it would be enough for the quality of violin she planned to buy.
Mr. Fisk hadn’t answered her inquiry regarding pricing in his letter. He merely assured her he would provide her with an exceptional instrument and that they would work out the financial details once she arrived in Greeley, Colorado.
Would her meager savings be enough? It had to be, for she couldn’t return to New York and face the audition committee without a proper instrument.
The director’s words still stung. “You’re a talented musician, Miss Bellini. But you bring shame to your craft by playing on such an inferior violin. Come back when you have an appropriate instrument.” The three committee members had politely frowned when she flustered an apology and hurried to the exit of the symphony hall, pressing down her humiliation and frustration as tears welled in her eyes.
Her papá could well afford to buy her a violin of exceptional quality, and every year at Christmas she begged him to indulge her love of playing with the purchase of a new one, but he only laughed in cool disdain and waved her away. “Give up your foolish dreams, Angela. Your place is in the home, with a husband and children. Not on the stage.” Her papá regarded music appropriate only at holidays and festivals and family gatherings, and only traditional song and instrumentation. He didn’t—couldn’t—understand this dream she nursed. The dream to play in the New York Philharmonic, to play on stage before an audience, to be a part of the creation of ethereal music that filled a great performance hall and moved listeners to tears.
To make matters worse, her older brother, Bartolomeo, sided with their papá, constantly nagging her to “get married already and stop being a burden on the family.” Although he was but two years older, he and Dora had three children. And Dora—and most of Angela’s other girlfriends from her school days, who were also married—gave her constant looks of pity, as if Angela was missing out on life’s greatest joy. But they just didn’t understand.
She had to fan the tiny spark of her dream to keep it alive, to prevent it from being snuffed out by her papá’s stern expectations and society’s demands. And it had nearly been extinguished a month ago, upon her papá’s brash public announcement of her engagement to Pietro—an arrogant youngest son of a successful wine merchant who had no love for music—none whatsoever. She harbored no hope that he would ever understand her passionate need to play the violin, and no doubt he’d forbid her pursuit of her dream.
And then she’d read an article in the Times about one George Fisk, a master violin maker in a newly founded town in the West—a place called Greeley. On a whim she’d written him. Why? She didn’t know. She could purchase a violin in Manhattan—one of sufficient quality. But there was something about the description of this man, Fisk. The way he spoke about the instruments he made. The care and time and love he put into each one. He built his instruments with a passion and love for beauty and music that resonated with her. For, she wanted more than a good violin. She wanted one that spoke to her soul, one made just for her. George Fisk promised he could provide just that. But she had to travel halfway across the continent. Was she willing? he’d asked her.
Yes, she wrote him. Yes, more than willing. Although, she’d never traveled outside of the city, and the thought of venturing into wild country, alone, made her stomach twist. But Fisk had told her not to worry. He would see to her accommodations and show her around his “wonderful little Western town.” And she had to admit—she was ready for an adventure.
She looked around her cramped tiny bedroom situated in a crowded apartment in a busy, noisy city. I’m more than ready for peace and quiet, and to get away from Papá’s mean spirit and violent temper.
What must it be like to stand under a wide-open sky spattered with stars, with no neighbors quarreling or trains rattling or horses’ hooves clacking on stones? Her heart yearned for such open space, for such silence. Silence that longed to be filled with beautiful music. She imagined nature itself performing a symphony of birdsong and coyote howls and water cascading over rocks. Those were some of the images her mind drifted to as she played, and she longed to merge her own musical voice to that of creation, if even just for a day or two.

About the Author

The author of "heart-thumping" Western romance, Charlene Whitman spent many years living on Colorado's Front Range. She grew up riding and raising horses, and loves to read, write, and hike the mountains. She attended Colorado State University in Fort Collins as an English major. She has two daughters and is married to George "Dix" Whitman, her love of thirty years. 

The Front Range series of sweet historical Western romance novels (set in 1876) includes Colorado Promise, set in Greeley, Colorado; Colorado Hope, set in Fort Collins; Wild Secret, Wild Longing, which takes readers up into the Rockies, and Colorado Dream (release date 11/15/16) and Wild Horses, Wild Hearts (release date 1/1/17).

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