Tuesday, April 24, 2018

GHOST by Helen Grant

GHOST by Helen Grant


Langlands House is haunted, but not by the ghost you think.

Augusta McAndrew lives on a remote Scottish estate with her grandmother, Rose. For her own safety, she hides from outsiders, as she has done her entire life. Visitors are few and far between - everyone knows that Langlands House is haunted.

One day Rose goes out and never returns, leaving Augusta utterly alone. Then Tom McAllister arrives - good-looking and fascinating, but dangerous. What he has to tell her could tear her whole world apart.

As Tom and Augusta become ever closer, they must face the question: is love enough to overcome the ghosts of the past?

In the end, Langlands House and its inhabitants hold more secrets than they did in the beginning...

Hi Helen, welcome to my blog ! I love Gothic romance – I think I've read every Victoria Holt novel there is! What writers influenced you, if any?

Hi Jennifer! I love Gothic romance too. One of my favourite recent films was Crimson Peak. I just love the allure of grand but crumbling houses! 
I'm not sure any particular writers influenced me when I was writing Ghost. I definitely don't try to emulate any other writer. But I am a big fan of Gothic fiction in general. Jane Eyre has always been one of my favourite books. I love anything a bit creepy, and a bit mysterious, and I really love a big reveal! There are a few of those in Ghost.

What gave you the idea for your book? And what do you like to do when you're not writing?

I'm going to answer these two questions together because they sort of go together! I've got a passion for researching the lost country houses of Scotland; it's a topic that really fascinates me. In the 1800s many wealthy people built these enormous mansion houses that later became far too expensive and impractical to run. Sometimes they were later used as schools or hospitals but eventually many of them were abandoned. Some of them were demolished – or even blown up! – but some are just sitting there, slowly crumbling away into ruins. I have visited the sites of some of these houses. It's both exciting and eerie to see the remains of these grand buildings. Sometimes there is still glass in some of the windows, or some of the timber is still there. 
I'm always very careful when I'm visiting anywhere like that. I don't go inside anything that looks as though it might collapse! And I never take anything away with me, except photographs. 
There was one mansion that I visited which was supposedly knocked down in the 1960s, but it never actually was pulled down. That made me think: supposing there was a house like this, forgotten in the middle of a forest somewhere, but with all the contents intact? Who would be hiding themselves away in there, and why? And that was what inspired the story of Ghost.  

My other hobbies include wild swimming. I swim outdoors (without a wetsuit) between May and October. There isn't any wild swimming in Ghost, but there is a moment where someone puts their feet in freezing cold sea water, and they start to feel numb in about one minute. That is definitely based on personal experience

Who are your favorite authors?

I like a lot of the classic authors. A big favourite of mine is Wilkie Collins. He has some of the most outrageous plot lines ever, and some brilliant characters. My favourite is probably Ralph, the brother of the hero of Basil. He has worked abroad as a diplomat and consequently he can swear fluently in five different languages. He has a travelling library of dubious French novels which he keeps locked up with a golden key, and he will have nothing to drink in the morning except hot chocolate. I think Ralph deserves a novel all of his own!
My favourite living writer is John Ajvide Lindqvist, the Swedish author of Let the Right One In. I think he goes to the places that other authors don't. I really loved his book Handling the Undead, which is about what happens when all the people who died within a particular time frame suddenly come back to life. So you could say that it's a zombie novel, except it's not about the horror of people shambling about trying to bite each other. The real horror is having a lost loved one back in such a damaged state; wouldn't it be better just to let them go? Like some of his other work, it is intensely moving. I've read it twice and both times I cried at the end.   

Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?

Well, I do carry out quite a bit of "desk research" but actually I like to go out and look at things, and experience things for myself. Most of the locations in my books are based on places that I have really visited. For a previous novel, Urban Legends, I wanted to set a scene in the sewers, so I visited the Brussels sewers and the Paris sewers. It's partly about getting the details right but it's also about feeling the experience of being there. I want to be able to describe what it's like with the conviction of really knowing. One of the things that surprised me about the Brussels sewers was hearing this strange rumbling noise – it was the sound of underground trains passing by. If I hadn't been there and heard it myself, I don't think I would have thought of that.  
Over the years, I've got into the habit of visiting places that I think will be atmospheric, and using it as a way of generating ideas. A creepy location is a bit like an empty stage set; I can imagine the type of drama that might unfold there. 

What was one of the most surprising things you learned when you were writing your book?

Well, maybe I've already answered this question to a certain extent, but I think the thing that most surprised me was the extravagant scale of some of the country houses built in the 1800s. I remember reading about one that was so grand that it was impractical to live in, and was eventually demolished without the family ever having moved in! I think it's quite hard nowadays to realise just how wealthy the owners must have been to have these places built, and then employ all the domestic staff and gardeners to run them. And we're not talking about one house here or there. There were a lot of these places. It's a lifestyle I can't really imagine. 
There was one big house (now long vanished) not very far from where I live, that had beautiful ornamental gardens with fountains. Considering how rugged the landscape is, it's mind boggling to think how much work that must have been to create and maintain…

Any last words for your readers?

If you've read Ghost: thank you! The story is not told until someone listens. 

Thank you so much for stopping by!

You're most welcome! 

Author Bio

Helen Grant writes thrillers with a Gothic flavour and ghost stories. Her first novel, The Vanishing of Katharina Linden, was shortlisted for the CILIP Carnegie Medal and won an ALA Alex Award in the US. Her other books include the exciting Forbidden Spaces trilogy. 
Helen's latest novel Ghost (Fledgling Press 2018) is set in Perthshire, where she has lived since 2011. When she is not writing, Helen loves to research the lost country houses of Scotland and to visit the sites where possible. Her experiences of exploring these fascinating places inspired her to write Ghost.

Authors Twitter: @Helengrantsays 
Publishers Twitter: @FledglingPress 

Monday, April 23, 2018

Some friends of mine

I was thinking about a friend of mine.
Everyone dies, of course - that's part of life. But sometimes I think about some friends of mine who were gone too soon. And today, someone sent me a message asking about one of my friends who died a few years ago. She didn't know. It made me think of him and his incredible talent as a photographer. And it made me wonder where I put the picture he gave me. I had it framed and it followed me everywhere, From New York to Europe. And then, in one of the many moves from Margaux to Lyon to Paris to Behoust to Montchauvet or to Mantes, it disappeared. It's most likely in the armoire with the stacks of photo albums. Or somewhere else. Lost, maybe. I hope not. I can close my eyes and see it - a winter scene with a flowing stream sculpting the ice and snow. He had a stamp, a Chinese symbol in red, that he used to sign his phtotos.
I don't need to close my eyes to imagine my friend. He had a round face and laughing eyes. Even when he wasn't laughing his eyes laughed for him. He loved to joke and he loved to teach. We met when we were teens. He took some pictures of me for my first modelling book. We lived next door to each other in New York City. He was funny, kind, and talented. He gave me books on philosophy to read, like "Sophie's World", and "Zen and the Art of Archery".
He came to visit my family in St Thomas, and I still have a charm he gave me for luck. The last time we met was in NYC, I went with my twins, and we went out to lunch together then went sight seeing. He took us to the Twin Towers and then to Times Square. "Your kids can't leave the city without seeing Times Square lit up at night," he said. He was right.  And now he's gone.
So many things make me think of him - my gold charm, books on philosophy, photos of snow. And now, today, a message from someone saying, "Hey Jen, I was in NYC and thought of Sing-Si. What's he doing these days?" And I had to write back - "Sad news...".
Photo by Sing-Si Schwartz

Between Venus & Mars by S.C.Mitchell

by S.C.Mitchell

GENRE:   Fantasy
BLURB:  Once Upon a Galaxy . . .

Zana Starchild is on a mission to restore her tribe’s livestock and save herself from one more meal of kelp. Sure, it’s technically illegal to visit Old Earth, but to a rim rat like Zana, galactic laws are really just guidelines. Her wrecked starship just means she’ll need to use her backup plan to get off the abandoned world, an old Earth legend her uncle passed down to her.

Pulled from a relaxing shower, across the galaxy to Old Earth, Galactic Marshall Kyle Kepler finds himself naked and marooned with a quirky rim rat. Zana’s broken more laws than Kyle can count, and he plans to arrest her, just as soon as he can find transport off the planet and a pair of pants.

A junk heap of a starship, a magical tree, and a roving gang of mutant kangaroos are just the beginning of rollicking intergalactic journey filled with laughs, love, and adventure.


EXCERPT:   Zana Starchild banked the rickety TRS-90 quinjet, as a photon torpedo detonated off her port thruster. The explosion rocked the tiny starship, and it was all she could do to hang on.

“Okay, maybe I should have used the fuckin’ seatbelt.”

The instrument panel lit up with bright red whatcha-ma-doogers, flashing like the ancient neon sign hanging in front of Paddington’s Pastry Shop.

She grunted. “That’s probably bad.”

It would have been really nice to have someone with her who actually knew how to fly this junk-heap, or could at least tell her what the hell those flashing things meant.

It was kind of hard to check the instruction manual while these shitheads were firing phase cannons and photon torpedoes up her ass.

Not that she actually had an instruction manual.


Just her luck to find deep-space pirates waiting at this jump point.


And these had to be the dumbest pirates in the entire galaxy. Sure, it was a convenient place to surprise travelers, but this jump point didn’t go anywhere anyone wanted to be.

Well, except her, and that was completely irrelevant to her argument. Even she didn’t really want to go to Old Earth. She just had to.

AUTHOR Bio and Links:  S.C.Mitchell grew up an avid reader of comic books, science fiction and fantasy literature. He’s been writing stories for over thirty years. In 2010 he left his job as a computer desktop support specialist to pursue his passion for writing full time. He is a PAN member of the Romance Writers of America as well as the Wisconsin chapter.

As a writer of paranormal, sci-fi, and fantasy romance, S. C. Mitchell crafts unique and wondrous worlds where characters explore, romp, and fall in love. Whether traveling through dark, demon filled dimensions, the edge of wild space, or ancient mythological heavens, heroes and heroines, guided by their adventurous hearts, discover hidden strengths on their pathway to enduring love.

LINKS:   Webpage: http://scmitchellauthor.com/
Links for "Between Venus and Mars" :
GIVEAWAY INFORMATION: S.C. Mitchell will be awarding a $25 Amazon GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour:

  a Rafflecopter giveaway

A zany, tongue-in-cheek space opera! We meet our heroine, Zana, in a decrepit spaceship on her way to a forbidden planet (Earth). She is heading there to try and replace the animals that have been stolen from her planet, because they need food and the people are in danger of starving. She crash lands somewhere in California, and finds a strange tree - the "Soul Mate" tree, she has heard legends about. There is more, of course - sentient kangaroos that have taken over earth, and getting food for her people may be harder than she thought. Also, the Soul Mate tree sends her a space cop (just what she needs after breaking the law, right?) and sparks fly. It's a pretty funny and wildly imaginative sci-fi romance. There are some adult situations and strong language. It's part of a loosely joined collection (The Soul Mate Tree Series) but you don't have to read the others in order to enjoy this one.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Edger by David Beem

by David Beem


GENRE: Comedy Fiction

It’s been said every story must start somewhere. Ours begins with a professional dork. The kind who fixes computers and lives in his gran’s basement. The kind tapped by destiny (that saucy minx) to become the world’s first superhero!

And not a moment too soon…

A nano-sized artificial intelligence is on the loose! It got itself dart-gunned into a cow butt by a frog man in a porn store! Two stoners are corrupting it on twitter! And that’s just the first three pages!!

Join our dork of destiny as he channels the collective unconscious—his psychic superpower—in a harrowing tale of high drama, romance, betrayal, revenge, jesus chickens, cocaine, weirdos, magicians, ninjas, nfl spies, and disco ball water torture administered to the tune of rapture, by blondie. My god, man, what does it all mean!?

It means uncorking that next bottle of wine isn’t only a good idea—it’s advisable.

Enjoy an Excerpt:

Water and glass shower the dance floor. Needle scratches vinyl. Hattori Hanzo seizes control instinctively and I land with the grace of a ninja. Mary, who has no dead ninja in her head, thuds with the grace of a turkey carcass dropped from the Level Two parapet of Westfield Horton Plaza.

“Kill them!” someone yells.

“Don’t kill them!” I yell back, figuring that’s got to be worth a try.

Shots are fired. Screaming patrons run and duck for cover. A bullet ricochets off the wall. I grab Mary by the ropes binding her, and drag her behind a nearby couch.

More gunfire.

I chance a peek. Caleb Montana is near the front door, exchanging shots with two Nostradamus agents hiding behind a life-size statue of Caleb in his quarterback uniform, one arm cocked back, preparing to pass the football, and the other stretched out in front, pointing.

I round on Mary, who flings her wet hair back like a Sports Illustrated swimsuit model. Water sprays my supersuit’s visor.

“Cut me loose.”

“Right, right,” I say, feeling around on my utility belt. Jeez, I’ve never tried to locate anything without someone helping me from the Collective Unconscious. There are a lot of things here. I pull a tiny ball out, and the nano-technology grows into a switchblade-shaped object. Seems promising. I flick it on. Blue flame blows out from the end.

“Holy crap!”

“Come on, quit fooling around.”

“Don’t rush me! Do you have any idea how stressful this is?”

“Come on,” she says, her voice husky, cheek to floor, back arched, butt in the air.

“You never see Batman having this problem,” I mutter.

About the Author:David Beem enjoys superhero movies, taekwondo, and flossing. He lives in Djibouti with his family and crippling self-doubt. Help actualize David’s inner confidence. Visit his website today, and buy all the stuff.


Buy the book at Amazon.


David Beem will be awarding a $50 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

His Valentine by Megan Slayer

Today we welcome Meagan Slayer again, who writes sizzling M/M romance. Enjoy the blurb, excerpt, and be sure to take part in the rafflecopter giveaway!

Brandon Kidd thought he overcame his demons. He thought he’d conquered his addiction to booze and his need to be promiscuous. He thought he’d left his depression behind. Why? He met and is dating Aydin, the man who stokes his muse. But the depression and his insecurity have come back, and he’s also got to pass his annual review for his fine arts program. He’s got to get through the grueling review, open up to Aydin and have the Valentine’s Day he deserves?

Aydin loves Brandon. He sees the changes in his boyfriend and wants to help, but how do you help when you don’t know the problem exactly? To compound the problem, Brandon’s brother, Benson, has started causing trouble. Benson doesn’t want his brother to be gay, let alone in a relationship. Aydin found the strength to admit he wanted to be with Brandon. Aydin’s come into his own. Will he be enough for Brandon or will the crushing outside influence be too much to overcome?

They’ve come together for Valentine’s Day, but can the romance last?

Read an Excerpt:

©2018 Megan Slayer, All Rights Reserved

“I meant to say something, but I got so wrapped up in that review…” Brandon met Aydin’s gaze. “Babe, I’m sorry. I should’ve asked first.”

Aydin closed his eyes and rubbed his temple. He needed a moment to think. Talk about a Valentine’s surprise. What was done was done, and he couldn’t get Brandon to take the works down—not when they were part of an exhibition. Maybe people wouldn’t realize he was the one in the image.

“You’re mad.” Brandon bridged the gap between them and draped one of his legs over Aydin’s. “Babe.”

Aydin opened his eyes. Being so close to Brandon, smelling his cologne and feeling the warmth from his body seeping into Aydin’s comforted him. “I’m disappointed that you hadn’t mentioned it to me until now, but I can’t be mad. That’s your art, and I volunteered to sit for you. I knew there was a chance you’d put those images into a show.” He brushed his knuckles down Brandon’s cheek. “If we ever do anymore nudes and any with us in bed together, they will not go on display unless I know first and have given you permission. Those are our intimate moments. I don’t want to share all of them.”

“Understood.” Brandon leaned in and kissed Aydin. “I’m horrible with relationships. It’s hard, and I’m going to screw up again. I know it.”

“No, you’re still learning. We both are.” He held Brandon’s hands in his. “It’s a big step going from casual to monogamy. Some people can’t do it.” Aydin suppressed a chuckle. Normally, he was the one with the worries and fears. With Brandon on his side, he’d realized his strengths and wasn’t the timid man he’d been. He wasn’t ugly or horrible—no, he was loyal, had faith in people when most others didn’t, compassionate, and dying to be loved.

About the Author:
Megan Slayer, aka Wendi Zwaduk, is a multi-published, award-winning author of more than one-hundred short stories and novels. She’s been writing since 2008 and published since 2009. Her stories range from the contemporary and paranormal to LGBTQ and BDSM themes. No matter what the length, her works are always hot, but with a lot of heart. She enjoys giving her characters a second chance at love, no matter what the form. She’s been the runner up in the Kink Category at Love Romances Café as well as nominated at the LRC for best author, best contemporary, best ménage and best anthology. Her books have made it to the bestseller lists on Amazon.com.

When she’s not writing, Megan spends time with her husband and son as well as three dogs and three cats. She enjoys art, music and racing, but football is her sport of choice.



MLR Press: https://www.mlrbooks.com/books.php
Available from Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B079SY5HK9/
Universal Link: https://books2read.com/u/mYgOGW

Megan will be awarding a bracelet made by the author and a signed swag pack to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, April 15, 2018

What concerns me most...

There are lots of things that make me pessimistic about the future - but my main concern is inequality.

"One of the most dramatic trends since 1968 has been the growing divide between rich and poor. U.S. GDP grew by more than eighteen-fold between 1968 and 2016, but the rising tide has not lifted all boats. The top 1 percent's share of national income has nearly doubled while the official poverty rate for all U.S. families has merely inched up and down. The extreme concentration of income and wealth at the top has not only siphoned resources away from those at the bottom end of the income ladder. It has also increased the political power of the ultra-rich, which they’ve used to shape trade, tax, labor, health care, campaign finance, and other policies in their interest.

 A key driver of our growing economic divide is the steep drop in unionization. With the hemorrhaging of U.S. manufacturing jobs and the expansion of anti-labor policies, the share of U.S. workers in unions has fallen from 24.9% in 1968 to 10.7% in 2016. This has undermined workers’ ability to press for higher wages, even as the national economic pie has been growing. The decline of unions has also coincided with structural changes in the labor force, as businesses cut labor costs by reducing full-time workers.

A National Bureau of Economic Research paper found that between 2005 and 2015, all U.S. job growth was in temporary, part-time, freelance, and other “contingent” work. A recent study from the International Monetary Fund confirmed that the precarious employment trend has played a significant role in suppressing wage growth. The federal minimum wage remains a poverty wage and the federal minimum for tipped workers, at just $2.13 per hour, creates particularly high levels of economic insecurity for restaurant servers, one of the fastest-growing U.S. occupations, particularly for women and people of color. And according to Oxfam and the Economic Policy Institute, around 58.3 million U.S. workers are earning below the living wage of $15 per hour. It’s hardly a surprise that Brookings found that working-age adults account for most of the growth in the number of Americans living in poverty over the past 30 years. The number of 18-64-year-olds living in poverty has increased from 9.8 million in 1968 to 16 million in 1986 to 22.8 million in 2016."

Read this report: The Souls of Poor Folk: A Preliminary Report, Institute for policy Studies, December, 2017

GROWING DIVIDE BETWEEN RICH AND POOR Sources: Institute for Policy Studies analysis based on Thomas Piketty and U.S. Census.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Son of the Moon

In Nysa, Alexander the Great and time traveling journalist Ashley find their abducted son Paul being worshiped as “the son of the moon”. Knowing she can’t change history and that Alexander’s kingdom will be torn apart when he dies, Ashley must make the terrible decision to leave her firstborn son in the sacred valley.
Alexander presses on to India, where he and Ashley are welcomed with feasts – and treachery. They struggle through monsoons, face the might of Porus’s army, and outwit deadly Brahmin rebels. Facing the reality of Alexander’s looming death, Ashley considers the unthinkable – How to save him, and the consequences of cheating the Fates. Book III in the Time for Alexander series.
The battle that day was over by mid-morning. Alexander lost twelve men. The enemy lost half their army and sued for peace before noon.
Alexander was carried into the infirmary where I was helping Usse. His ankle had been shattered by a lance.
“Are you all right?” I asked, rushing to his side.
He stared at me, sweat pouring off his face, and his eyes two wells of pain.
“Would I come here if I was all right?” he gasped.
I sat down next to him and held his hand while Usse took off his sandal and examined the wound. When he probed, my own hand was nearly broken in Alexander’s grip, and I yelped.
“Sorry,” muttered the slender Egyptian doctor, dousing the ankle with hot water mixed with different herbs. He cleansed it and put a splint around it. There wasn’t much else he could do. Now we just had to pray it didn’t get infected.
We stayed for three days while we organized the peace talks with both tribes. Then Alexander decided to pull out and head straight to Nysa. An ambassador for the Assacenian king told us that the child of the moon was being worshipped in Nysa.
The child of the moon was Paul, my baby, now nearly five years old. I hadn’t seen him since he was ten days old.
Alexander left two divisions behind with his general Coenus while we took the rest of the army. We would all join up at the Indus River.
To buy link: Amazon kindle or as paperback 

GHOST by Helen Grant

GHOST by Helen Grant .  Synopsis Langlands House is haunted, but not by the ghost you think. Augusta McAndrew lives on...