Thursday, May 31, 2018

Old appliances

 My car is awfully old and falling apart. Lately it’s started backfiring. The first time it happened my daughter panicked. I just told her the car was getting old and starting to fart. The passenger side door doesn't open. It seems to be held together with rust. I’m hoping it will last one more year (I say that Every year).
What other things do I want to see lasting the year?
My computer. (please please please last one more year – at least – you’re 3 now, that’s young – you can do it!)
My refrigerator*. (Yes, I know you are second hand. Yes, I know you make funny noises and suddenly get either way too hot or too cold – but I need you. Honest. You’re my widdle wefwigerator *gives it a pat* Hang in there!)
Note* - soon after this post, the poor fridge gave up the ghost. I have a new one, and it has most likely saved us from getting food poisoning, so it was probably for the best.
My hairdrier. (It’s already broken – parts of it keep falling off. But it dries my hair – keep blowing!)
My keyboard. (I keep swearing at it and swearing I’ll get a new one, but all the buttons still work, so I guess it’s a keeper. For now.)
My vacuum cleaner. (I’m not really worried about it breaking, I’m worried that the filter will get so absolutely full of dust it will break, and the model is so old I won’t be able to get a new filter. Filter, keep breathing!!)
My jeans. (You still fit, even if the zipper is wonky. Who cares? You don’t have any holes. Keep it that way.)
My blender. (I got it for a wedding present. I have lost all the extra ‘whistle and bell’ accessories. But the basic blender is still there – still intact, and still working even though the speed can’t be adjusted anymore (it’s full speed or nothing) – it still chops, blends, mixes and makes soup. What more do I need?)
My dishwasher. (I fixed you three times. The repairman said there won’t be a next time – you’re old, everything is working through sheer stubborness and a refusal to break that I admire, even though your electronic panel is shot and I can’t tell what cycle you’re in – and you only have one cycle that works anyhow – I still think you’re terrific and could you please last another year?)
My favorite shoes - There is silver duct tape inside to cover the fact that the lining is gone - but I love my little black slides; they are black patent leather, open toe slide-ons with a comfy fiit. Please don't break! I don't have any more silver duct tape left...
What appliances are you praying will last out the year?

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Ruby: The Smokey Blues, Book 8 by Emily Mims

The Smokey Blues, Book 8
by Emily Mims
GENRE: Contemporary Romance

Forty years ago Lexi Barstow and Collins Wentworth thought they had made the biggest mistakes of their lives. Heartbreaking choices and bitter tears cemented a pact that would shape who they were and what they would be. But now so much has changed...except the passion they share and the differences between them. But some things are fixable, and with forever staring them hard in the face, they learn all their decisions brought them to this ever after filled with love.

Read an excerpt:

The club was even more crowded than it had been earlier and the audience was lively for a Sunday evening, clapping and stomping and answering Lonnie’s quips with boos and catcalls. There was electricity in the air. They were a fun crowd tonight.

Lexi’s eyes danced as they sang their first song. She was in her element.

They were about halfway through their second set when the front door opened and a familiar figure stepped into the club. The hostess’s eyes widened and the bartender did a double take. It wasn’t all that often a United States Senator darkened their doors.

Lexi’s curiosity burned as the flustered hostess showed Collins to the last vacant table by the front window. There was a bit of a stir as a good percentage of the audience recognized the man who had joined them, and then realized Lexi was performing for her old lover.

Whatever was he doing here tonight? This wasn’t his kind of club. It wasn’t even his kind of music anymore. She’d overheard him tell Danny he loved listening to him and his mother on their dulcimers, but that given the choice he was fonder of the classical music Chessie and Isabel played.

Had he come to hear Lexi sing? Had he come to repeat his invitation to join him on an evening out?

The thought sent chills up her spine.

She tore her eyes away from him. No way could she concentrate on her singing if all her attention was on Collins. Ever the professional, she didn’t miss a beat in the song they were singing, or the next, or the one after that. If anything, her voice became sultrier and her smile wider. Collins had come to hear her sing. She wanted him to know that she still had it, and she wanted to rub in what he’d missed all these years.

About the Author:
The author of over thirty romance novels, Emily Mims combined her writing career with a career in public education until leaving the classroom to write full time. The mother of two sons, she and her husband split their time between central Texas, eastern Tennessee, and Georgia visiting their kids and grandchildren. For relaxation Emily plays the piano, organ, dulcimer, and ukulele for two different performing groups, and even sings a little. She says, “I love to write romances because I believe in them. Romance happened to me and it can happen to any woman—if she’ll just let it.”


Amazon Author Page:

Emily will be awarding digital copies of books one and two in the Smoky Blues series, Mist and Smoke to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour
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Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Joan the Made by Kristen Pham

Joan the Made
by Kristen Pham

GENRE: YA science Fiction


On Joan Fasces' eighteenth birthday, she discovers that she is cloned from the famous Joan of Arc. But being cloned in America comes at a steep price. Segregated and oppressed, clones are forced to act as docile servants to the rest of the Evolved population.

Joan can either run from her fate and spend the rest of her life in hiding, or she can join a Throwback rebellion populated by clones of the greatest leaders in history.



The doorbell rings, and I bound down the steps. My parents hover beside the front door. Mom doesn’t comment on my appearance, even though I can tell she notices my skinned elbows. When I see her knuckles, red and raw from all her hand-wringing, a strange dart of fear pings through my body.

A tall woman with tan skin and short, cropped hair enters our house and shakes my parents’ hands after she sets her briefcase on the ground.

Jayne Piers, from the Department of Genetic Evolution,” she says, introducing herself.

She shakes my hand, and her stare is piercing, like she can read the truth of my DNA in my eyes.

Joan Fasces,” I say, willing my voice to stop trembling.

Mom leads us into the dining room, which is elegantly decorated for the birthday lunch she insisted on hosting for me to celebrate being Confirmed as Evolved.

Jayne sits and opens her briefcase. Her movements are efficient as she attaches a needle to her smartphone and pulls my arm toward her. The sharp tip stings my index finger as it collects a drop of my blood for analysis. When she’s done, she sprays my finger and the needle with a sanitizer mist.

This won’t take long,” Jayne says as data about my DNA rapidly fills the screen of her phone.

I look up for the first time since Jayne took my blood and see that my parents are gripping each other’s hands tightly. Mom’s eyes meet mine and fill with tears, and the realization hits me right before the words come out of Jayne’s mouth.

Your DNA is cloned. You’re a Genetic Replicant,” she says. There’s no judgment; she’s stating a fact.

I’m a Throwback.


AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Kristen Pham is a YA science fiction and fantasy writer who lives for really great fudge, roller coasters, and exploring new worlds via fiction. She lives in San Jose, CA with her children and husband, where she eagerly waits for her kids to turn 11 and receive their invitations to Hogwarts.

If you would like to hear about Kristen's new releases and giveaways, sign up for her newsletter on her website ( You can also reach her on Twitter (@KristenNPham) and Facebook (



Kristen Pham will be awarding a $10 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

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Sci-fi made smart - I really enjoyed this story. It had history, science, politics, and a kick-ass heroine. The story is a look into the future, if mankind decides to clone famous people from the past. What would you do if you found out you were actually the clone of someone dead for centuries - even if that person was famous? What would you do if you discovered that who you thought you were was a lie. And now, you had to comply to a set of laws that, by all rights, is unfair? Dealing with identity is tough when you're a teen, so imagine if your identity has already been mapped out, and with it, your destiny - a second rate destiny, that you can no longer control. This was a thought-provoking look at an all-too-possible future. 

You Never Forget Your First Earl by Ella Quinn

 Ella will be awarding a signed copy of the book (International Giveaway) to 5 randomly drawn winners via rafflecopter during the tour.

With her three good friends all recently married, Elizabeth Turley is ready for some husband-hunting of her own. One gentleman in particular sparks her interest. Geoffrey, Earl of Harrington is tall, handsome, and dashing. He’s also just a bit too sure of himself. But Elizabeth has observed enough about the rules of attraction to pique the earl’s attention. Yet once she has it, the discovery of a troubling secret taints her future happiness . . .

Lord Harrington must marry or lose a prestigious position in Brussels, and pretty, well-connected Elizabeth fits his needs admirably. But could it be that he has underestimated his bride? She doesn’t bat an eye in the face of the danger they encounter overseas. She’s strong-willed, intelligent, and more enticing each day—yet also more indifferent to him. Now Geoffrey faces his greatest challenge: to woo and win his own wife, or risk losing her for good . . .

Read an Excerpt:

“Harrington.” Mr. Gavin Turley, the eldest son of Viscount Turley, hailed Geoff as he stepped through the door. “Haven’t seen you in weeks. What have you been up to?”

“I’ve been with my father.” He sat in the large leather chair on the other side of a low table. A footman brought him a cup of tea, and he took a sip. It was comfortable being known in a club well enough that they knew what a fellow drank. Coffee might smell good, but he couldn’t stand the taste. He thought of not mentioning his most pressing dilemma, but he was desperate. “If you must know, I’m in the market for a wife.”

Turley stared at Geoff for a few moments, then turned his attention to the teacup that he twisted around before looking up again. “Are you indeed?”

“Yes.” Geoff nodded. “And quickly. You might have heard . . . Well, it is no matter.” There was no need for the whole world to hear from him how shoddily he had been treated by Lady Charlotte. Making sure that others knew he wished to marry, however, was prudent. After all, he was an eligible match for any lady.

“Tell you what,” Turley said, leaning forward. “Come around to my father’s house this afternoon on Green Street and join us for tea.” Turley raised a dark blond brow. “If you don’t have other plans, that is.”

An image of a lady with the same light flaxen hair came to Geoff’s mind. Lady Charlotte had introduced him to Miss Turley. The sister of Mr. Turley and the daughter of Viscount Turley. “Do I recall correctly that you have a sister who is out?”

“You do.” He leaned back in the dark brown leather chair. “She is enjoying her first Season. She is very pretty—at least I think so—and amiable as well. Even when I try her temper, she manages not to give me a bear garden jaw.”

He debated telling the man that he had already been introduced, but decided not to. Joining Miss Turley for tea was as good a place as any to begin, Geoff supposed. “I have no other obligations. In fact, I would be delighted.”

About the Author:
USA Today bestselling author Ella Quinn’s studies and other jobs have always been on the serious side. Reading historical romances, especially Regencies, were her escape. Eventually her love of historical novels led her to start writing them. She is married to her wonderful husband of over thirty years. They have a son and two beautiful granddaughters, and a Portuguese Water Dog. After living in the South Pacific, Central America, North Africa, England and Europe, she and her husband decided to make their dreams come true and are now living on a sailboat. After cruising the Caribbean and North America, she completed a transatlantic crossing from St. Martin to Southern Europe. She's currently living in Germany, happily writing while her husband is back at work, recovering from retirement. Website:
Blog: http://ellaquinnauthor.wordpresscom/

Amazon: Barnes and Noble:

 Ella will be awarding a signed copy of the book (International Giveaway) to 5 randomly drawn winners via rafflecopter during the tour.

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Monday, May 28, 2018

Writing and rewriting history

I was never into history when I was in school. Having a mother who was a history teacher meant hearing about it all the time, so maybe, like osmosis, it seeped in. When I started writing about Alexander the Great, it was to be a short story. I had been publishing short stories in magazines, had a good number under my belt as well as a couple literary prizes and a nomination for the Pushcart prize. So, it was in all confidence that I started a short story about a journalist who goes back to interview Alexander the Great - slaps a mosquito - and changes time. The "Butterfly Effect" - a small action with huge repercussions, a little like Ray Bradbury's short story "A Sound of Thunder". 

But things soured quickly. I had no idea where the story was set – ancient Greece? Persia? Babylon? Where did he die, anyway? I got out my encyclopedia and looked up Alexander the Great - and found a half a page with an illustration of a man with curly hair and dreamy eyes, and there was a map with an incredible voyage traced upon it. 

I had read Mary Renault's books on Alexander and loved them, but to me, they had been so fictionalized that I had never really made the connection between the real man and the books. I remember being crushed when he died at the end, and his young wife dying of poison just after. Well, I remembered that, at least. So, I needed some more information. I headed to my library and hit the history section, and there I was in luck - there was a book by someone called Plutarch and he'd written extensively about the young leader and his battles. Very cool. Especially the one against Porus in India. 

Wait a minute – back up. India? How did he get there? I read Plutarch's book, which was good, but he didn't really care for Alexander and it showed. I went back to the library, and found 'The Campaigns of Alexandere by Arrian. Again, all the battles, but very little about the man - unless he was glorified or maligned beyond reason I searched for a biography by a more modern writer, Valerio Massimo Manfredi, but again, it didn't seem very balanced. Something was odd - again, the author seemed to glorify him beyond humanity. Finally, I found a book called "In the Footsteps of Alexander the Great", which was terrific for tracking Alexander's movements. I could see where he went, and when he went, and even how he went. 

So, armed with this, I started the short story, and right away hit a bump. I still hadn't set the story anywhere precise, and when, exactly did this story take place? I picked after the battle of Issus, when he defeats Darius, and he's moving his army slowly towards Babylon. They're camped out on a river (more research - what did the army camp look like? How were the tents made? How many soldiers, horses - and who cooked for them and how? What did they eat? What languages did everyone speak?) The research was taking a ridiculous amount of time, and the short story hadn't even gotten started. I realized that I'd been researching for the better part of a year. I had notes plastered all over my desk - books piled up - and, darn, my library books were overdue. 

I sat myself down and wrote a page, and the journalist was not cooperating. He was not thrilled with Alexander, who was everywhere at once - with his generals, with the grooms, with the doctors, and with the astrologists. He was too busy to talk, and the journalist was struggling to keep up. He only had twenty hours in order to get his interview and go back to the future, because I'd decided to use time travel and send a modern person back to try and see who this Alexander person really was. But there was no spark. The journalist hated the dust, hated the bustle, hated not being taken seriously by this barbarian from the past, and when Alexander introduced him to Bucephale - the horse took a chunk out of his arm. That's when I knew that I had to fire the journalist and get someone else. Someone who would be fascinated by Alexander and someone who would, in turn, intrigue the young man. What better than a young woman? And in a land of olive-skinned, sloe-eyed beauties, she'd be a Viking princess, with frost in her eyes and heart - a match for the legendary hero. 

So I started the short story again and had Ashley come back in time to interview Alexander. And everything went wrong: she got drunk, she fell into his arms, she made love to him, and then she had to pack up and leave - after slapping a pesky mosquito and hopefully changing time. But everything I'd planned backfired. Ashley intrigued Alexander to the point where he was convinced she was Persephone, goddess of the dead, and off he went to her rescue - he wrenched her from the time-travel-tractor beam - and she was stuck. Stuck in 333 BC, with a terrible hangover, no decent shampoo, and, as she wryly puts it, now over three thousand years older than her own mother. 

I kept on writing. Ashley would just have to adapt. And adapt she did. Seven books later, I finally reached the end of the story. But like Ashley says, "It's not the end. Because, you see, in three thousand years I'll be born again. I'll win a prestigious prize and be chosen to go back in time, where I'll meet Alexander again. I'm looking forward to meeting Alexander again." 

Along the way, I deviated from Alexander's history and created my own, which meant a whole lot more research. There was ancient Greece, and fledgling Rome, and the Eaters of the Dead, and the druids, and the Tenes, and the oracle of Siwa...and Alexandria. Each book, after book IV, took a pile of research, which I dove into happily, finding a love of history along the way. Now you can talk to me about the demons in the Game of Phersu, the Thief of Souls, and how long it took an ancient sailboat to go from Alexandria to Massalla (Marseilles). I learned about what they ate, how they washed, and the stories they loved to hear - because all through the ages, stories have been told. First about nature, then the gods, and then the heroes. This is a story about a hero, and the woman who traveled three thousand years in time to meet him. I hope you enjoy it. 

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Dialogues of the Dead with Alexander the Great



You cannot deny that you are my son this time, Alexander; you would not have died if you had been Ammon's.
I knew all the time that you, Philip, son of Amyntas, were my father. I only accepted the statement of the oracle because I thought it was good policy.
What, to suffer yourself to be fooled by lying priests?
No, but it had an awe-inspiring effect upon the barbarians. When they thought they had a God to deal with, they gave up the struggle; which made their conquest a simple matter.
And whom did you ever conquer that was worth conquering? Your adversaries were ever timid creatures, with their bows and their targets and their wicker shields. It was other work conquering the Greeks: Boeotians, Phocians, Athenians; Arcadian hoplites, Thessalian cavalry, javelin-men from Elis, peltasts of Mantinea; Thracians, Illyrians, Paeonians; to subdue these was something. But for gold-laced womanish Medes and Persians and Chaldaeans,—why, it had been done before: did you never hear of the expedition of the Ten Thousand under Clearchus? and how the enemy would not even come to blows with them, but ran away before they were within bow-shot?
Still, there were the Scythians, father, and the Indian elephants; they were no joke. And my conquests were not gained by dissension or treachery; I broke no oath, no promise, nor ever purchased victory at the expense of honour. As to the Greeks, most of them joined me without a struggle; and I dare say you have heard how I handled Thebes.
I know all about that; I had it from Clitus, whom you ran through the body, in the middle of dinner, because he presumed to mention my achievements in the same breath with yours. They tell me too that you took to aping the manners of your conquered Medes; abandoned the Macedonian cloak in favour of the candys, assumed the upright tiara, and exacted oriental prostrations from Macedonian freemen! This is delicious. As to your brilliant matches, and your beloved Hephaestion, and your scholars in lions' cages,--the less said the better. I have only heard one thing to your credit: you respected the person of Darius's beautiful wife, and you provided for his mother and daughters; there you acted like a king.
And have you nothing to say of my adventurous spirit, father, when I was the first to leap down within the ramparts of Oxydracae, and was covered with wounds?
Not a word. Not that it is a bad thing, in my opinion, for a king to get wounded occasionally, and to face danger at the head of his troops: but this was the last thing that you were called upon to do. You were passing for a God; and your being wounded, and carried off the field on a litter, bleeding and groaning, could only excite the ridicule of the spectators: Ammon stood convicted of quackery, his oracle of falsehood, his priests of flattery. The son of Zeus in a swoon, requiring medical assistance! who could help laughing at the sight? And now that you have died, can you doubt that many a jest is being cracked on the subject of your divinity, as men contemplate the God's corpse laid out for burial, and already going the way of all flesh? Besides, your achievements lose half their credit from this very circumstance which you say was so useful in facilitating your conquests: nothing you did could come up to your divine reputation.
The world thinks otherwise. I am ranked with Heracles and Dionysus; and, for that matter, I took Aornos, which was more than either of them could do.
There spoke the son of Ammon. Heracles and Dionysus, indeed! You ought to be ashamed of yourself, Alexander; when will you learn to drop that bombast, and know yourself for the shade that you are?


Dear me, Alexander, you dead like the rest of us?
As you see, sir; is there anything extraordinary in a mortal's dying?
So Ammon lied when he said you were his son; you were Philip's after all.
Apparently; if I had been Ammon's, I should not have died.
Strange! there were tales of the same order about Olympias too. A serpent visited her, and was seen in her bed; we were given to understand that that was how you came into the world, and Philip made a mistake when he took you for his.
Yes, I was told all that myself; however, I know now that my mother's and the Ammon stories were all moonshine.
Their lies were of some practical value to you, though; your divinity brought a good many people to their knees. But now, whom did you leave your great empire to?
Diogenes, I cannot tell you. I had no time to leave any directions about it, beyond just giving Perdiccas my ring as I died. Why are you laughing?
Oh, I was only thinking of the Greeks' behaviour; directly you succeeded, how they flattered you! their elected patron, generalissimo against the barbarian; one of the twelve Gods according to some; temples built and sacrifices offered to the Serpent's son! If I may ask, where did your Macedonians bury you?
I have lain in Babylon a full month to-day; and Ptolemy of the Guards is pledged, as soon as he can get a moment's respite from present disturbances, to take and bury me in Egypt, there to be reckoned among the Gods.
I have some reason to laugh, you see; still nursing vain hopes of developing into an Osiris or Anubis! Pray, your Godhead, put these expectations from you; none may re-ascend who has once sailed the lake and penetrated our entrance; Aeacus is watchful, and Cerberus an awkward customer. But there is one thing I wish you would tell me: how do you like thinking over all the earthly bliss you left to come here—your guards and armour-bearers and lieutenant-governors, your heaps of gold and adoring peoples, Babylon and Bactria, your huge elephants, your honour and glory, those conspicuous drives with white-cinctured locks and clasped purple cloak? does the thought of them hurt? What, crying? silly fellow! did not your wise Aristotle include in his instructions any hint of the insecurity of fortune's favours?
Wise? call him the craftiest of all flatterers. Allow me to know a little more than other people about Aristotle; his requests and his letters came to my address; I know how he profited by my passion for culture; how he would toady and compliment me, to be sure! now it was my beauty—that too is included under The Good; now it was my deeds and my money; for money too he called a Good—he meant that he was not going to be ashamed of taking it. Ah, Diogenes, an impostor; and a past master at it too. For me, the result of his wisdom is that I am distressed for the things you catalogued just now, as if I had lost in them the chief Goods.
Wouldst know thy course? I will prescribe for your distress. Our flora, unfortunately, does not include hellebore; but you take plenty of Lethe-water—good, deep, repeated draughts; that will relieve your distress over the Aristotelian Goods. Quick; here are Clitus, Callisthenes, and a lot of others making for you; they mean to tear you in pieces and pay you out. Here, go the opposite way; and remember, repeated draughts.


Libyan, I claim precedence of you. I am the better man.
Pardon me.
Then let Minos decide.
Who are you both?
This is Hannibal, the Carthaginian: I am Alexander, the son of Philip.
Bless me, a distinguished pair! And what is the quarrel about?
It is a question of precedence. He says he is the better general: and I maintain that neither Hannibal nor (I might almost add) any of my predecessors was my equal in strategy; all the world knows that.
Well, you shall each have your say in turn: the Libyan first.
Fortunately for me, Minos, I have mastered Greek since I have been here; so that my adversary will not have even that advantage of me. Now I hold that the highest praise is due to those who have won their way to greatness from obscurity; who have clothed themselves in power, and shown themselves fit for dominion. I myself entered Spain with a handful of men, took service under my brother, and was found worthy of the supreme command. I conquered the Celtiberians, subdued Western Gaul, crossed the Alps, overran the valley of the Po, sacked town after town, made myself master of the plains, approached the bulwarks of the capital, and in one day slew such a host, that their finger-rings were measured by bushels, and the rivers were bridged by their bodies. And this I did, though I had never been called a son of Ammon; I never pretended to be a god, never related visions of my mother; I made no secret of the fact that I was mere flesh and blood. My rivals were the ablest generals in the world, commanding the best soldiers in the world; I warred not with Medes or Assyrians, who fly before they are pursued, and yield the victory to him that dares take it. Alexander, on the other hand, in increasing and extending as he did the dominion which he had inherited from his father, was but following the impetus given to him by Fortune. And this conqueror had no sooner crushed his puny adversary by the victories of Issus and Arbela, than he forsook the traditions of his country, and lived the life of a Persian; accepting the prostrations of his subjects, assassinating his friends at his own table, or handing them over to the executioner. I in my command respected the freedom of my country, delayed not to obey her summons, when the enemy with their huge armament invaded Libya, laid aside the privileges of my office, and submitted to my sentence without a murmur. Yet I was a barbarian all unskilled in Greek culture; I could not recite Homer, nor had I enjoyed the advantages of Aristotle's instruction; I had to make a shift with such qualities as were mine by nature.—It is on these grounds that I claim the pre-eminence. My rival has indeed all the lustre that attaches to the wearing of a diadem, and—I know not—for Macedonians such things may have charms: but I cannot think that this circumstance constitutes a higher claim than the courage and genius of one who owed nothing to Fortune, and everything to his own resolution.
Not bad, for a Libyan.—Well, Alexander, what do you say to that?
Silence, Minos, would be the best answer to such confident self-assertion. The tongue of Fame will suffice of itself to convince you that I was a great prince, and my opponent a petty adventurer. But I would have you consider the distance between us. Called to the throne while I was yet a boy, I quelled the disorders of my kingdom, and avenged my father's murder. By the destruction of Thebes, I inspired the Greeks with such awe, that they appointed me their commander-in-chief; and from that moment, scorning to confine myself to the kingdom that I inherited from my father, I extended my gaze over the entire face of the earth, and thought it shame if I should govern less than the whole. With a small force I invaded Asia, gained a great victory on the Granicus, took Lydia, Ionia, Phrygia,—in short, subdued all that was within my reach, before I commenced my march for Issus, where Darius was waiting for me at the head of his myriads. You know the sequel: yourselves can best say what was the number of the dead whom on one day I dispatched hither. The ferryman tells me that his boat would not hold them; most of them had to come across on rafts of their own construction. In these enterprises, I was ever at the head of my troops, ever courted danger. To say nothing of Tyre and Arbela, I penetrated into India, and carried my empire to the shores of Ocean; I captured elephants; I conquered Porus; I crossed the Tanais, and worsted the Scythians—no mean enemies—in a tremendous cavalry engagement. I heaped benefits upon my friends: I made my enemies taste my resentment. If men took me for a god, I cannot blame them; the vastness of my undertakings might excuse such a belief. But to conclude. I died a king: Hannibal, a fugitive at the court of the Bithynian Prusias—fitting end for villany and cruelty. Of his Italian victories I say nothing; they were the fruit not of honest legitimate warfare, but of treachery, craft, and dissimulation. He taunts me with self-indulgence: my illustrious friend has surely forgotten the pleasant time he spent in Capua among the ladies, while the precious moments fleeted by. Had I not scorned the Western world, and turned my attention to the East, what would it have cost me to make the bloodless conquest of Italy, and Libya, and all, as far West as Gades? But nations that already cowered beneath a master were unworthy of my sword.—I have finished, Minos, and await your decision; of the many arguments I might have used, these shall suffice.
First, Minos, let me speak.
And who are you, friend? and where do you come from?
I am Scipio, the Roman general, who destroyed Carthage, and gained great victories over the Libyans.
Well, and what have you to say?
That Alexander is my superior, and I am Hannibal's, having defeated him, and driven him to ignominious flight. What impudence is this, to contend with Alexander, to whom I, your conqueror, would not presume to compare myself!
Honestly spoken, Scipio, on my word! Very well, then: Alexander comes first, and you next; and I think we must say Hannibal third. And a very creditable third, too.

LUCIAN OF SAMOSATA was a Greek satirist from the region of Commagene near Syria in the C2nd A.D. He was the author of numerous works of which the Dialogues of the GodsDialogues of the Sea Gods and Dialogues of the Dead are of particular interest in the study of myth.
The Works of Lucian of Samosata. Translated by Fowler, H W and F G. Oxford: The Clarendon Press. 1905.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Enchanted by Him by Jacey Holbrand

Hey folks! Jacey Holbrand here. I'm happy to announce I have another story in my Helldorado Mongrels MC series out now: Enchanted by Him!

~ * ~ ABOUT THE BOOK ~ * ~
Erotic M/M romance

The timeline of Enchanted by Him overlaps the one set in the second book Seduced by Him. (The stories in the series can be read as standalones, but as with most series, it's best if they're read in order). In Enchanted by Him, we're reintroduced to the character Sloth—the man Tex, from Seduced by Him, is forced to ride up to Las Vegas with.
We follow Sloth and learn why he splits off from Tex, we learn Sloth's secret, and of course, we go on a journey with Sloth as he discovers his mate and falls in love. We also see what finally happens to Inferno, the leader of the Helldorado Mongrels MC.
Come be enchanted!
~ * ~ BLURB ~ * ~

Helldorado Mongrels MC member, Sloth, is a man with secrets. He’d joined the club with a specific goal in mind, and when three visitors arrive, he fears one of them will turn his world upside down. Especially since that newcomer is a witch and his mate.
Shaman, the medic from the Skinwalkers MC, was hired to find the woman after the Mongrels’s gold and has secrets himself. When he meets Sloth, the man he knows is destined for him, Shaman begins to reconsider his evil, witchy ways, and his internal conflict irritates him.
Despite the constant clashing of their differences, passion ignites between the two men. But will their secrets cause betrayal and hurt? Destroying their relationship before it even has a chance to fully develop? Or will love ultimately triumph?

~ * ~ EXCERPT ~ * ~

Shaman chuckled, and once Sloth’s gaze connected with the medic’s gray-eyed gaze, Shaman lifted the corner of his mouth in a mischievous grin.
Sloth sucked in a stream of air as the man’s compelling and magnetic gaze held tight to his. Under the intense stare, Sloth’s body crackled and his joints hissed. The tingly sensations and odd sounds made him realize Shaman was stripping away all his cloaking spells. He tried to combat the psychic assault. His own powers weakened as Shaman continued to stare at him. All he had left was the mind block he’d put in place, and even that felt tenuous.
He attempted to step back and found he couldn’t move. Shaman had “frozen” him into place. Sloth thanked the Great Spirit he hadn’t actually been turned into an ice pop. He hated wintery cold temperatures. On top of it all, without the magic that’d been surrounding him for so long, he felt completely bare and exposed.
Again, Shaman offered a short laugh, this time snapping his fingers as well.
Sloth’s clothes disappeared. Not a stitch of fabric remained on him. To his dismay, he truly was naked.

~ * ~ BIO ~ * ~
Jacey Holbrand believes life and love comes in all forms and should be celebrated. She’s committed to her muse and writing so she can share her stories with readers. Hot days. Sexy nights. Come play in her world.
Jacey loves to hear from readers! Click the link to eMail her:
~ * ~ STALK ~ * ~

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Just say no

"Why can't women just say 'no'?" 
I heard that from another woman. She was speaking about the #metoo movement. She was an intelligent woman, independent, with a good job, and she was financially solid and had been all her life. She was attractive. Had been married. Had children. When she said "No", people respected her.
I wasn't in the mood to argue. Besides - too many people feel this way. Just say no, they sneer. Look at those movie stars, rolling in dough, owing their whole careers to a serial rapist. If they didn't want to sleep with him, they should have just said 'no'. What's more important? A career or your pride?
I don't know what to say to these people.
I don't know everyone's situation.
Sometimes, you can't say no.
Sometimes, when you say no, you put your career on the line.
Sometimes, when you say no, you put your life in danger.

The first time I said no to a boy, he beat me up. I don't know what the question was. After the first beating, my mother wanted to teach me to fight back. She got a cardbard box and had me punch it. "What do you do when that boy comes back again?" she said.
"Hit the box," I replied.
I don't remember any of this - this is my mother's story. She tells it half laughing, half furious. I must have been only two or three - the boy was a neighborhood bully.

The next time I stood up to a boy, he was teasing a friend. He'd tossed her bike on the ground and kicked it. I had no idea what the fight was about, but I kicked his bike over then put myself between her and him. He punched me and gave me a black eye. Our parents called his parents, and I remember standing in the living room, explaining what happened, my eye swollen shut.
"You shouldn't have kicked his bike," said the boy's father. I was eight years old, but even then, I knew enough to look at the floor and say, "I'm sorry." That the boy was punished too didn't tilt the scales back. The boy was two or three years older than I was, a foot taller, and twenty pounds heavier. But he struck me, and got away with a scolding. I was struck, and got away with a scolding, a black eye, and a healthy fear of bullies.

I said no in highschool to a boy who wanted to date me. He got all his friends to pressure me. When I still said no, he spread rumors about me. I walked into the cafĂ© where I used to hang out with my freinds. One of his friends was there, playing the guitar that evening. When I walked in, he said into the microphone, "I"m not playing anymore until She leaves." I was ostracized from the group for weeks - until he fell for another girl. To an adult, this might seem trite. To a teen, it was agony.  All I did was refuse to date a boy.

I said no to a boy who came to the house where I was babysitting. I was surprised to see him. I didn't invite people over when I was caring for children. But this young man had been chasing me for a while, I went on a few dates with him. He was good fun. He liked music, and bought me a record album. This must have seemed like a golden ticket to him. He walked into the house and remarked that the parents were gone - the kids were alseep - it was the perfect time. The perfect time for what?  I wasn't buying it. I didn't want to make out or sleep with him. I said no. He'd been drinking. He picked me up and threw me across the kitchen. I was stunned, bruised, frightened. I said no again, and he hit me. I crawled under the table. He cried for a while, then left. He pretended nothing happened afterwards. He was older than I was, but he was immature. I told myself it was just that he was immature. But I didn't return his calls.

I graduated and started working in a jewelry warehouse. One night, my boss sent me on an errand and when I came back, the office was empty except for him and me. He locked the door and told me I was beautiful, that he was unhappy with his wife, and that he'd really like to just cuddle for a moment. Maybe take it further - who knows? He smiled at me like a jolly Santa. I ran. I ran away from him. He ran after me, cornered me, I hid behind a jewelry display, he lunged at me, knocked everything over. Started screaming at me to get out. I was fired. I lost my job. I had an apartment. I had bills to pay.
I lost my apartment.
I moved in with my boyfriend. He was a nice person - one of the good ones. There are men out there who are beautiful, kind, and who can take no for an answer. This isn't about all men. Maybe that's part of the problem - maybe some women only meet the nice ones - maybe the others are not as common - or maybe it's something in my personality that brings out the worst in some people. That's why you can't put the #metoo movement in a file and use it as proof.

I found work as a model. Money was tight. I owed money, the city was expensive. I had no degree, no education to speak of - modelling was my ticket out of poverty. Let's admit it - we were poor. So I was glad to find a job that I could do without having to go nto debt for college - a job that I didn't need any qualifications or experience for. The second or third job I got was with a famous photographer. I was thrilled; until he started trying to feel me up. Then I told him no. I just said no. He just fired me. The next day, I was told to go home. I'd never work again, he threatened. I was numb. Saying no had so many consequences. How much easier to just go along with men - just agree - close your mouth - don't argue. Don't say 'no'. I nearly lost my career. Thankfully, my agency sent me to Europe - far away from Mike and his roving hands. In Europe, I continued to say no, and I got fired from a job for refusing to let someone cut my hair. A 'no' is a 'no'- if it's about sex or a haircut - someone is trying to control your body, so Just Say No. But I got fired. I started getting a reputation of being "difficult".  I was called in "for a talk" at the agency. I learned my lesson the hard way. After that, I was more inclined to say yes. Yes, go ahead, fondle me. Yes, go ahead - cut my hair, dye it if you like, touch me where it makes me uncomfortable, laugh, get too close. I smile. I move away subtly. I learn to deflect better, see things coming and react before I actually have to say No.

What happens when a girl starts saying yes? She faces a new barrage of problems - her reputation suffers, her family can cast her out, some religions are exceedingly cruel to a woman who says 'yes' too often. Some societies are built on bullying women so they dare not say no, but they dare not say yes. Where does that leave us, the ones who navigate in the middle - trying not to make anyone angry enough to hit you or fire you, trying not to lose the last shreds of dignity left.

Thank goodness for the good people. Thank goodness for the ones who take "no" gracefully, who are not threatened, who are not violent. Thank goodness for the ones who care what you feel, who are careful, who are thoughtful and kind. Girls, boys - look for these people. Avoid the others if you can. But I won't say "Just say 'no'", because sometimes you just can't.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Phantoms by y Michael Leon & Chrissie Anthony

by Michael Leon & Chrissie Anthony
GENRE: Fantasy/romance
NOTE: The book will be on sale for $0.99.

BLURB: Phantoms is an adult fiction that tells the story of Erik Destler, a latter day Phantom of the Opera. Erik sets out to take over and rule the Palais Garnier with La Divina -  Carlotta Caccini, as his queen, but at each turn, is seemingly thwarted by his nemesis - the original Phantom of the Opera, now the Opera Ghost. Phantoms is set in that same famous Paris opera house, amidst the staging of Guiseppi Verdi’s opera, Macbeth, one hundred years on from the first appearance of Le FantĂ´me de l'OpĂ©ra in 1910.

EXCERPT:   The water gently lapped on the man-made shore, dampening the mirror black of Erik's infantry boots, the only flaw in his freshly pressed military outfit. Dressed in jet black formal uniform with only his cape of royal blue providing a splash of colour, he gazed out on to his private lake. He tenderly held a bouquet of fresh cardinal roses and studied his reflection. It took Erik back to a past life, so far removed from his present, that he wondered if it really had happened. He smiled cynically. It could have been his wedding day.

Rose's enchanting smile haunted him. He turned to look behind, certain he saw her standing in the shadows of the gothic pillars that surrounded his subterranean water world. Rose faded from his mind, before he studied the bouquet he fastidiously prepared. Then he remembered there would be no wedding this day. Not any day. He dropped the bouquet on to the tightly bound woman he cradled in his left arm. She was peaceful now, free from the terror that had been inflicted on her.

"This is for Rose. You will not be forgotten, my love."

Erik caressed the face of his victim before taking her rope-entwined torso in his powerful arms to stand up on the water’s edge. He peered out to the middle of the lake and watched the current of the man-made cistern suck the murky water to its centre. The current was at its most powerful as he tested its flow. The bouquet drifted quickly to the focal point before disappearing from Erik's sight. Water was his world now. Strange that the creator of life could just as easily extinguish it.

AUTHOR Bio and Links:  
Michael Leon is a science fiction/fantasy writer with three published novels, Cubeball, Emissary and Phantoms. Besides those, Michael has written Extinction and Adaption and is currently writing Emissary and Phantoms: Act 2, both novels to be released in 2018. His work ranges from speculative fiction to fantasy romance. Michael Leon's work has been labelled by reviewers as speculative fiction with a thriller element. For more information, go to Michael's website:

Chrissie Anthony is the romantic alter ego of Melbourne writer, editor, and publisher, Christine Lister. After a successful career in education, Christine started writing and editing. Her books are The Hidden Journey – Melanoma Up Close And Personal, Tahlia You Can Do It! and In the Garden of my Delights. Chrissie’s books are Quiver – Awakening the Goddess Within, and How Do I Love Thee?

Buy Link:


Michael Leon & Chrissie Anthony will be awarding a $15 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

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REVIEW: This was a stunning take on the original Phantom of the Opera - one of my favorite stories and operas (think Andrew Lloyd Webber's 'Phantom of the Opera - and there were even excerpts from the famous musical')! I was thrilled to find the cast of characters: Eric, Christine, Carlotta - and life at the Paris Opera Garnier at the turn of the century was beautifully described. The writing was excellent, drawing me into the tale, first from Eric's point of view, then Carlotta's, and Christine's. The story took twists and turns as the tale unfolds. Eric is a serial killer hiding in the tunnels beneath the opera - Carlotta is insanely jealous and is seduced by Eric, Christine is a prima donna with the voice of an angel, and as their destinies collide, the ending seems inevitable. With the backdrop the Opera "Macbeth", the story is absolutely captivating. A must read for anyone who loves "The Phantom of the Opera".

Accidental Jesus Freak by Amber Lea Starfire

Accidental Jesus Freak
by Amber Lea Starfire

GENRE: Memoir


In 1973, Linda was a flute player and music major at a California community college, until she met and fell madly in love with a charismatic piano player, plunging into his world of music-making and drug-fueled parties. When, just three weeks after their wedding, he reveals that he's been "born again," Linda makes the spontaneous decision to follow him into his new religion and, unwittingly, into a life of communal living, male domination, and magical thinking.

With unflinching candor, Amber Starfire chronicles her journey as Linda Carr into the evangelical church culture, where she gives up everything for her husband and their music ministry. But in the process, she loses her most valuable assets: her identity and sense of self-worth. It is only when Linda returns to live with her birth family and faces her complicated relationship with her mother that she finds new purpose and the courage to begin to extricating herself from the limiting beliefs of her past.

Accidental Jesus Freak is the story of one woman, one marriage, and one kind of fundamentalism, but it is also the story of the healing that is possible when we are true to ourselves. Both a cautionary tale and celebration of personal empowerment, Accidental Jesus Freak is a powerful reminder for anyone who seeks to live a life authentic to who they truly are.

By spring we were behind on rent and utility payments and were running out of food. Paul was deep into one of his depressions, so the Beulah Band wasn’t practicing or performing. Without the focus provided by our music and without Paul’s guidance, the commune began to erode at the edges, crumbling into the sea of reality. One by one, people drifted away, most moving back to Portland to take up residence with family or friends. Soon there was just a core of us left: three families, including Paul and Barney’s, two married couples without children, and a few young bachelors.

I remember quite distinctly the day we gave up. The group had exactly $20 remaining in our coffers—not enough to pay any of our bills. Not even enough to buy food for dinner. So, in typical throw-it-to-the-wind fashion, we traipsed up the street to the local Dairy Queen and bought $20 worth of banana splits to share. It felt reckless and fitting to celebrate the demise of our grand communal experiment in this fashion.

I have a polaroid taken that day outside the Dairy Queen. Fourteen adults and five children smile and squint into the sun like one big happy family. Eric and I stand at the back of the group, round-faced in our youth, his hand placed protectively on my arm. I remember feeling both relieved and sad. I was tired of the strain of trying to keep food on the table, tired of the squabbling, the lack of privacy, and feeling shut out by the men. I was ready to live like a normal married couple, just Eric and me on our own. Yet there was a bitter-sweetness to those banana splits.


Jennifer   Thank you for joining me today. Your book sounds fascinating! It also sounds crazy — did you really marry a Jesus Freak? Did you realize beforehand how religious he was?

Amber: I did marry a Jesus Freak, though I think at that time, his religious fervor was evolving. And no, before I married him, I didn’t even know he’d been “born again.” For some reason I’ll never understand, he hid it from me. Perhaps he was afraid I’d change my mind about getting married. So when he did reveal his beliefs to me, we were already married, and I felt I had to make a choice between our life together — between love — and myself.

Jennifer: You use your hippie name for the book — do you still use your birth name? Do you feel more Linda or Amber Starfire?

Amber: I don’t consider my name to be a hippie name (though I can understand why you might think it is), as it wasn’t until 2002 and I was well away from the hippie world when it came to me. For those who are interested, I include an essay at the back of the book that explains my name change and how it occurred.
No, I never use my birth name. And the members of my family have fully adopted my new name, as well, which is my legal name, by the way. When I remember Linda, I’m remembering someone different from who I am today — and though we have a shared past, the present and future belong solely to Amber.

Jennifer: Were you cut off from the outside world, or were you able to leave easily and communicate with others?

Amber: As part of the cult — and I do think that we were a cult, though I have defined the term broadly — I cut myself off from the outside world. I was able to communicate with my family, especially my mother, but I had cut myself off emotionally from them. We immersed ourselves within our religious bubble and had as little to do with the outside world as possible.
Technically speaking, I could have left at any time. No one was imprisoning me. I had imprisoned myself, though I didn’t know it. It’s like the story of the frog and the boiling pot: if you put a frog into a pot of boiling water, it will jump out, but if you put the frog into a pan of room-temperature water and turn the heat up slowly, the frog will adjust to its environment; it will not realize the water is getting hotter and hotter until it’s too late.
It’s like that for people who end up in extremist religions or cults. You are manipulated and introduced to ideas and behaviors over time, not all at once, so you don’t perceive how much your environment is changing you and your view of the world.

Jennifer: The blurb says “male-dominated commune.” I think this is interesting, and also true to most religions. (I can't think of any that are not male-dominated, actually!) From your experience, do you think it’s possible to be a fundamentalist and not male-dominated? 

Amber: No, I don’t. I haven’t studied all religions, of course, but I do know that all of the major religions in the world today are male-dominated and operate on the premise that women are inferior to men. And the more fundamentalist someone is in any of those religions, the more they believe that women should submit to men’s authority over them.

Jennifer: If you had to do it over again, would you follow your new husband?

Amber: That’s a tough question. If it were just about our beliefs and where they led me, the answer would be no. But Eric and I had two beautiful children together, who I am glad to have brought into the world. And my experiences have made me who I am today. I would love to know how life could have been different had I made a different choice, but there’s no point in those kind of regrets.

Jennifer: People can get very defensive about their religions — did you get in trouble with the evangelical church culture?

Amber: You can only “get in trouble” if you stay and allow them to continue to have influence over you. If you leave, they have nothing to say about it. If you don’t believe the way they do, most evangelical fundamentalists will have nothing to do with you. They fear their own faith could be somehow influenced or contaminated by nonbelievers, so their reaction, when they find you’ve left the church, is to try to “save” you. Then, when they see you will not “return to the fold,” they turn away. I understand; I was the same way.

Jennifer: What was the catalyst for starting this book?

Amber: I have known for a long time that I wanted to write this story. But first, I felt I needed to write the story of my mother and our relationship — my previous memoir, Not the Mother I Remember. As soon as I had finished that book, I turned my thoughts and attention to this one.

Jennifer: What do you want readers to take away from this book? What message would you like to tell your readers? 

Amber: My story may be unique to me, but it is also not unique, in that so many people (mostly women, but not only women) end up giving themselves to a cause or belief system that is not true to who they really are. 
So my main message is this: trust yourself more than anyone else. No one other than you can tell you how to live or what to believe in or how to become who you should be. Listen to your own heart. It will guide you to your life purpose and to realizing your potential.

Jennifer: Thank you so much for being on my blog! 

AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Amber Lea Starfire MA, MFA, is an author, editor, and creative writing coach whose passion is helping others tell their stories. She has published two memoirs: Accidental Jesus Freak: One Woman’s Journey from Fundamentalism to Freedom (2017) and Not the Mother I Remember: A Memoir — finalist for both the 2015 Next Generation Indie Book Awards and the 2013-2014 Sarton Women’s Literary Awards. She has also published several books of non-fiction, including Journaling the Chakras: Eight Weeks to Self-Discovery, and Week by Week: A Year’s Worth of Journaling Prompts & Meditations. Amber is co-editor of the award-winning anthology, Times They Were A-Changing: Women Remember the '60s & '70s. Her creative nonfiction and poetry have appeared in numerous anthologies and literary journals.

Website and Social Media Links:

Amazon Link for Accidental Jesus Freak:

Barnes and Noble:


GIVEAWAY INFORMATION: Amber Lea Starfire will be awarding a $50 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Please use this rafflecopter code on your post: a Rafflecopter giveaway

Silhouette by Paul Swingle

  This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions . Paul Swingle will be awarding a $15 Amazon or B/N GC to a...