#BookTour “Mercy Creek” by M.E. Browning

Mercy Creek by M.E. Browning Banner

October 11 – November 5, 2021 Tour

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Synopsis:

 

In an idyllic Colorado town, a young girl goes missing—and the trail leads into the heart and mind of a remorseless killer.

The late summer heat in Echo Valley, Colorado turns lush greenery into a tinder dry landscape. When a young girl mysteriously disappears, long buried grudges rekindle. Of the two Flores girls, Marisa was the one people pegged for trouble. Her younger sister, Lena, was the quiet daughter, dutiful and diligent—right until the moment she vanished.

Detective Jo Wyatt is convinced the eleven-year-old girl didn’t run away and that a more sinister reason lurks behind her disappearance. For Jo, the case is personal, reaching far back into her past. But as she mines Lena’s fractured family life, she unearths a cache of secrets and half-lies that paints a darker picture.

As the evidence mounts, so do the suspects, and when a witness steps forward with a shocking new revelation, Jo is forced to confront her doubts, and her worst fears. Now, it’s just a matter of time before the truth is revealed—or the killer makes another deadly move.

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery

Published by: Crooked Lane Books

Publication Date: October 12th 2021

Number of Pages: 288

ISBN: 1643857622 (ISBN13: 9781643857626)

Series: A Jo Wyatt Mystery, Book 2 || Each mystery in the A Jo Wyatt Mystery series is a stand alone novel.

Purchase Links: Penguin Random House | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

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Read an excerpt:

Chapter One

Everyone had a story from that night. Some saw a man, others saw a girl, still others saw nothing at all but didn’t want to squander the opportunity to be part of something larger than themselves. To varying degrees, they were all wrong. Only two people knew the full truth.

That Saturday, visitors to the county fair clustered in the dappled shade cast by carnival rides and rested on hay bales scattered like afterthoughts between games of chance and food booths, the soles of their shoes sticky with ice cream drips and spilled sodas.

Detective Jo Wyatt stepped into the shadow of the Hall of Mirrors to watch the crowd. She grabbed the collar of her uniform and pumped it a few times in a futile attempt to push cooler air between her ballistic vest and sweat-sodden T-shirt.

The Echo Valley Fair marked the end of summer, but even now, as the relentless Colorado sun dipped, heat rose in waves around bare ankles and stroller wheels as families retreated toward the parking lots. An older crowd began to creep in, prowling the midway. The beer garden overflowed.

Within minutes the sun dropped behind the valley walls and the fairground lights flickered to life, their wan orange glow a beacon to moths confused by the strobing brightness of rides and games. Calliope music and the midway’s technopop collided in a crazed mishmash of notes so loud they echoed in Jo’s chest. She raised the volume of her radio.

The day shift officers had clocked out having handled nothing more pressing than a man locked out of his car and an allegation of unfair judging flung by the second-place winner of the bake-off.

Jo gauged the teeming crowd of unfamiliar faces. Tonight would be different.

#

Carnival music was creepy, Lena decided. Each ride had its own weird tune and it all seemed to crash against her with equal force, following her no matter where she went.

The guys in the booths were louder than they had been earlier, more aggressive, calling out, trying to get her to part with her tickets. Some of the guys roamed, jumping out at people, flicking cards and making jokes she didn’t understand while smiling at her older sister.

Marisa tossed her hair. Smiled back. Sometimes they let her play for free.

“Let’s go back to the livestock pavilion,” Lena said.

“Quit being such a baby.” Marisa glanced over her shoulder at the guy running the shooting gallery booth and tossed her hair. Again.

Lena rolled her eyes and wondered how long it would be before her sister ditched her.

“Hold up a sec.” Marisa tugged at the hem of her skintight skirt and flopped down on a hay bale.

She’d been wearing pants when they’d left the house. The big purse she always carried probably hid an entire wardrobe Momma knew nothing about. Lena wondered if the missing key to grandma’s car was tucked in there too.

Marisa unzipped one of her boots and pulled up her thin sock.

Lena pointed. “What happened to the bottom of your boot?”

Her sister ran her finger along the arch. “I painted it red.”

“Why?”

“It makes them more valuable.”

“Since when does coloring the bottom of your shoes make them more valuable?”

Marisa’s eyes lit up in a way that happened whenever she spoke about clothes or how she was going to hit it big in Hollywood someday. “In Paris there’s this guy who designs shoes and all of them have red soles. He’s the only one allowed to do that. It’s his thing.”

“But he didn’t make those boots.”

“All the famous women wear his shoes.” She waved to someone in the crowd.

“You’re not famous and you bought them at Payless.”

“What do you know about fashion?”

“I know enough not to paint the bottom of my boots to make them look like someone else made them.”

Marisa shoved her foot into her boot and yanked the zipper closed. “You bought your boots from the co-op.” She handed Lena her cell phone.

“You should have bought yours there, too.” Lena dutifully pointed the lens at her sister.

“Take a couple this time.” Marisa leaned back on her hands and arched her back, her hair nearly brushing the hay bale, and the expression on her face pouty like the girls in the magazines she was always looking at.

Lena snapped several photos and held out the phone. “All those high heels are good for is punching holes in the ground.”

“Oh, Lena.” Marisa’s voice dropped as if she was sharing a secret. “If you ever looked up from your animals long enough, you’d see there’s so much more to the world.” Her thumbs rapidly tapped the tiny keyboard of her phone.

In the center of the midway, a carnival guy held a long-handled mallet and called out to people as they passed by. He was older—somewhere in his twenties—and wore a tank top. Green and blue tattoos covered his arms and his biceps bulged as he pointed the oversized hammer at the tower behind him. It looked like a giant thermometer with numbers running along one edge, and High Striker spelled out on the other.

“Come on, men. There’s no easier way to impress the ladies.” He grabbed the mallet and tapped the plate. “You just have to find the proper motivation if you want to get it up…” He pointed with his chin to the top of the game and paused dramatically. “There.” He craned his neck and leered at Marisa. Lena wondered if he was looking up her sister’s skirt. “What happens later is up to you.”

Never breaking eye contact, he took a mighty swing. The puck raced up the tower, setting off a rainbow of lights and whistles before it smashed into the bell at the top. He winked in their direction. “Score.”

Twenty minutes later, Marisa was gone.

#

Lena gave up looking for her sister and returned to the livestock pavilion. Marisa could keep her music and crowds and stupid friends.

Only a few people still wandered around the dimly lit livestock pavilion. The fireworks would start soon and most people headed for the excitement outside, a world away from the comforting sound of animals snuffling and pawing at their bedding.

Marisa was probably hanging out near the river with her friends, drinking beer. Maybe smoking a cigarette or even a joint. Doing things she didn’t think her baby sister knew about.

Lena walked through an aisle stacked with poultry and rabbit cages. The pens holding goats, swine, and sheep took up the middle. At the back of the pavilion stretched a long row of three-sided cattle stalls. The smells of straw, grain, and animals replaced the gross smell of deep-fried candy bars and churros that had clogged her throat on the midway.

Near the end of the row, Lena stopped.

“Hey there, Bluebell.” Technically, he was number twenty-four, like his ear tag said. Her father didn’t believe in naming livestock, but to her, he’d always be Bluebell—even after she sold him at the auction to be slaughtered. Just because that was his fate didn’t mean he shouldn’t have a name to be remembered by. She remembered them all.

She patted his hip and slid her hand along his spine so he wouldn’t shy as she moved into the stall. She double-checked the halter, pausing to scratch his forehead. A piece of straw swirled in his water bucket and she fished it out. The cold water cooled her hot skin.

“You did good today. Sorry I won’t be spending the night with you, but Papa got called out to Dawson’s ranch to stitch up some mare.”

He swished his tail and it struck the rail with a metallic ring.

“Don’t get yourself all riled. I’ll be back tomorrow before you know it.”

If she hadn’t been showing Bluebell this afternoon, she’d have gone with her father. Her sutures had really improved this summer and were almost as neat as his. No one would guess they’d been made by an eleven-year-old. If nothing else, she could have helped keep the horse calm.

Instead, she’d go home with Marisa and spend the night at Momma’s. She wondered if Marisa would show up before the 4-H leader called lights out in the pavilion or if Lena would have to walk to her mom’s house by herself in the dark.

She reached down and jiggled the feed pan to smooth out the grain that Bluebell had pushed to the edges.

“That’s some cow.”

The male voice startled them both and Bluebell stomped his rear hoof. Lena peered over the Hereford’s withers. At first all she saw were the tattoos. An ugly monster head with a gaping mouth and snake tongue seem to snap at her. It was the carny from the High Striker standing at the edge of the stall.

“It’s a steer,” she stuttered. “And my sister isn’t here.”

“Not your sister I wanted to talk to.” He swayed a bit as he moved into the stall, like when her mother drank too much wine and tried to hide it.

Lena ducked under Bluebell’s throat and came up on the other side. She looked around the pavilion, now empty of people.

“Suspect they’re all out waiting on the fireworks,” he said.

The first boom echoed through the space. Several sheep bleated their disapproval and Bluebell jerked against his halter.

“Shhhh, now.” Lena reached her hand down and scratched his chest. “All that racket’s just some stupid fireworks.”

“Nothing to worry about,” the man added. He had the same look in his eyes that Papa’s border collie got right before he cut off the escape route of a runaway cow.

A bigger boom thundered through the pavilion. Halter clips clanged against the rails as uneasy cattle shuffled in their stalls. Her own legs shook as she sidled toward Bluebell’s rear.

He matched her steps. “What’s a little thing like you doing in here all by yourself?”

“My father will be back any minute.” Her voice shook.

He smiled, baring his teeth. “I’ll be sure to introduce myself when he arrives.”

A series of explosions, sharp as gunfire, erupted outside. Somewhere a cow lowed. Several more joined in, their voices pitiful with fear.

“You’re upsetting my steer. You need to leave.”

“Oh, your cow’s just fine. I think it’s you that’s scared.”

He spoke with the same low voice that Lena used with injured animals. The one she used right before she did something she knew would hurt but had to be done.

“You’re a pretty little thing,” he crooned. “Nice and quiet.”

Her tongue stuck to the roof of her mouth. She stood frozen. A warm trickle started down her leg, and the wet spot expanded on her jeans.

He edged closer. “I like them quiet.”

#

Jo ran.

The suspect veered off the sidewalk and slid down the hillside toward the creek.

She plunged off the side of the embankment, sliding through dirt and duff, closing the distance. She keyed her shoulder mic. “Entering the creek, heading west toward the Animas. I need someone on the River Trail.”

Narrow-leaf cottonwood and willows shimmered silver in the moonlight and wove a thicket of branches along the water, herding the suspect toward the cobbled stream bed.

Jo splashed into the ankle-deep water. Close enough now to almost touch.

Her lungs burned. With a final burst of speed, she lunged. Shoved his shoulder while he was mid-stride.

The man sprawled into the creek. Rolled onto his feet with a bellow. A knife in his hand.

Without thinking, she’d drawn her gun. “Drop it!”

Flashlight beams sliced the foliage. Snapping branches and crashing footsteps marked the other officers’ progress as they neared. Estes shouted Jo’s name. Her eyes never left the man standing just feet away.

“Over here!” She focused on the man’s shoulder, watching for the twitch that would telegraph his intentions. “You need to drop the knife. Now.” Her voice rose above the burble of the stream. “Or things are going to get a whole lot worse for you tonight.”

She shifted her weight to her front leg and carefully shuffled her rear foot until she found firmer footing and settled into a more stable shooting stance. “Drop the knife.” She aimed center mass. Drew a deep breath, willed her heart to slow.

The knife splashed into the creek near the bank.

“On your right.” Estes broke through the brush beside her.

“Get down on your knees,” Jo ordered. “Hands behind your head.”

“It’s my friend’s truck,” the man said.

Jo holstered her gun and moved forward while Estes covered her. She gripped his fingers and bowed the suspect backward, keeping him off balance while she searched him for weapons, then cuffed him.

“Not according to the owner.” She double-locked the cuffs while Estes radioed dispatch they had one in custody.

An explosion above the treetops made Jo flinch. Fireworks slashed the darkness and burst into balls of purple and green and dazzling white that sparkled briefly, then disappeared.

***

Excerpt from Mercy Creek by M.E. Browning. Copyright 2021 by M.E. Browning. Reproduced with permission from M.E. Browning. All rights reserved.

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Author Bio:

M.E. Browning

M.E. Browning writes the Colorado Book Award-winning Jo Wyatt Mysteries and the Agatha-nominated and award-winning Mer Cavallo Mysteries (as Micki Browning). Micki also writes short stories and nonfiction. Her work has appeared in dive magazines, anthologies, mystery magazines, and textbooks. An FBI National Academy graduate, Micki worked in municipal law enforcement for more than two decades and retired as a captain before turning to a life of crime… fiction.

Catch Up With M.E. Browning:

MEBrowning.com

Goodreads

BookBub

Instagram – @mickibrowning

Twitter – @MickiBrowning

Facebook – @MickiBrowningAuthor

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Tour Participants:

Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaways!

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ENTER TO WIN:

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for M.E. Browning. There will be TWO winners. ONE winner will receive (1) Amazon.com Gift Card and ONE winner will receive one (1) physical copy of Mercy Creek by M.E. Browning (U.S. addresses only). The giveaway runs October 11 through November 7, 2021. Void where prohibited.

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#BookRelease “Pretty Deadly” by Kelsey Josund

PrettyDeadly copy

Happy book birthday to author Kelsey Josund! Today marks the release of her murderous Cinderella retelling, Pretty Deadly! Read on for details.

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Pretty Deadly

Publication Date: October 26th, 2021 (TODAY 🎉)

Genre: Dark Fantasy/ Fairytale Retelling (Not YA)

Cinna would quite literally kill for the throne.

She’s spent years forced to serve her wealthy cousins rather than attend society events alongside them, waiting for the chance to prove herself and exact revenge. When a ball is announced at the castle, promising to bring many powerful people to town, she seizes the opportunity to strike.

She bets her best friend, a small-time thief and con-man, that she can land a greater score the night of the ball than he can. They embark on parallel heists. But as their plots unfold, things begin to unravel: by the end of the night, the castle’s on lock down, a duchess is dead, a mansion has burnt to the ground, and Cinna hasn’t stolen anything. Or has she stolen something more valuable than gold and jewels?

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Excerpt

How interesting, Cinna thought. She had spent so many hours bent over a stove in the kitchen or crouched before the hearth, stoking flames carefully that refused to light. But she had prepared: this house was waiting tinder, ready to be consumed.

She couldn’t hear the screams over the roar of the flames, but surely they were there. Strangely, she didn’t feel cheated to have not heard their voices. It was fine that they died in silence.

It did not take long for the neighbors to begin streaming out of their own houses, and she did hear their screams. They swarmed around the flames, politely mute once they realized they could not do anything, full of awe before the enormity of the fire. Cinna blended into the crowd, nearly invisible in her costume.

At last, just as she had always pledged she would, she watched the house fall in on itself.

Now Available on Amazon

About the Author

kelsey-josund-sq

I am a software engineer and author living and working in Silicon Valley, California. I studied computer science at Stanford University, but I’ve always loved stories in all their forms. I approach writing fiction the same way I approach writing code: I like to know where it’s going, but I want to figure out the details as I go along. Good software is a lot like a good story, full of neat and clever solutions to tricky problems, beautiful at a granular level but also from a distance.

Originally from Seattle, I love getting outdoors and living in places that allow me to escape to the mountains on the weekends, and I care deeply about the ecosystems that humans impact and that impact us. My writing explores these issues while also following classic coming-of-age arcs in science fiction and fantasy. I’m also very interested in stories and characters that complicate the traditional and familiar, leading me to fairytale retellings from unexpected angles.

Kelsey Josund | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

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#BookTour #GuestPost “New York: Give Me Your Best or Your Worst” by Elizabeth Crowens

New York: Give Me Your Best or Your Worst BannerOctober 25 – November 19, 2021 Virtual Book Tour

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~ Guest Post ~

Get Thee to Poe Cottage—in the Bronx!

By Richie Narvaez

 

 Too many tourists traveling to New Yawk are drawn to the trite, teeming tackiness of Times Square, the Highline, or, ugh, the Vessel. But should they be lovers of literature and/or devotees of the dark, they would be better served to look north. There in the busy, bustling, brash Boogie Down Bronx—the borough politicians like to forget, the borough too many people think still burns like a coal-seam fire in PA (but does not!)—is the Edgar Allan Poe Cottage.

I highly recommend your checking out this quaint and curious landmark.

The great writer, inventor of the modern detective story (Western canon), Poe rented the cottage for $100 a year in 1846. He moved there with Virginia, his ailing wife, and his mother-in-law, Mrs. Clemm, in the hopes that the Bronx country air—that’s right, I said the “Bronx country air”—might cure Virginia’s tuberculosis. Sadly, she passed away in 1847.

Poe Cottage

The cottage, a white frame farmhouse built as a laborer’s dwelling, is modest. You enter into the kitchen (now also the gift shop), with its small table, hearth, and stove, and walk through the living room, pass a small bedroom, and up stairs to more small rooms. Only a few items of Poe’s original furniture are within—a mirror, a rocking chair, and the bed that Virginia died in. He wrote “Annabel Lee,” “Eureka,” “The Bells,” and “The Cask of Amontillado” in these rooms, and it doesn’t take much to imagine him sitting at the writing desk or pacing on the porch contemplating a rhyme. With the imposing artwork of Poe there, you might say the cottage remains “By good angels tenanted.”

The writer resided there until his death—in Baltimore, under mysterious circumstances—in 1849.

Poe Park sign

The house was originally located on Kingsbridge Road, but was moved—as if borne by wingèd seraphs (but actually rolled on logs)—less than a block away, and is now nestled in a park named for Poe. In 1962 the cottage was designated a landmark.

Poe and Ritchie

Nearby is a Visitors Center, its roof lines suggestive of a raven’s wings, a gallery/cultural programming space for visual, literary, and performance arts. I’ve been privileged to run writing workshops there, which ain’t easy, with the cottage looming in the background, and Poe’s spirit staring at me through the huge windows.

Take the D train to Kingsbridge Road, or the 4 train, or the BxM4 express bus from Manhattan. Entry is only five bucks for adults, three for students, kids, and seniors. (Note: The cottage is currently closed due to COVID restrictions.) Afterward, you can have some tasty comida criolla or go for Italian on Arthur Avenue.

For more on the cottage, go to: http://bronxhistoricalsociety.org/poe-cottage/.

Bio

A born-and-bred New Yorker, Richie Narvaez has several short pieces coming up in the photo anthology New York: Give Me Your Best or Your Worst, edited by Elizabeth Crowens. His most recent novel is the historical YA mystery Holly Hernandez and the Death of Disco, and his latest book is the anthology Noiryorican.

www.richienarvaez.com

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New York: Give Me Your Best or Your Worst

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Presented by: Elizabeth Crowens

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Synopsis:

 

An Anthology and Celebration of the Big Apple

I’m an unabashed, unapologetic lover of New York City, my hometown, and New York: Give Me Your Best or Your Worst is right up my dark, deserted alley. New York’s at its best when you sneak up on it, glance at its sideways, or let it glance sideways at you. The pros and photos in this collection all show New York’s best, even when they purport to be showing its worst; in NYC, that’s how we roll. A fine addition to your New York bookshelf, a collection to savor.
~ SJ Rozen, best-selling author of The Art of Violence

Book Details:

Genre: Coffee Table book of Photography with Short Stories

Published by: Atomic Alchemist Productions, LLC

Publication Date: Oct 25, 2021

Number of Pages: 150

ISBN: 1950384136, 9781950384136

Purchase Links: Amazon | BookBaby | The Mysterious Bookshop | Goodeareads

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Read the Intro:

It is daunting to be asked to say something about New York City that hasn’t already been said with more eloquence than I could muster. As with many of the writing gigs I’ve accepted without carefully considering the consequences, I suppose I would have been better off letting someone else tilt at this windmill. With all due respect to Don Quixote, here goes.

My initial inclination was to do something about how New York City, because of its geography, is fated to be a place of stark contradictions: of churning and yearning, of inclusion and exclusion, of acceptance and denial. Unlike other cities, New York cannot expand outwards, only upwards. While that sounds great and may make for glorious postcards of a majestic, everchanging skyline to send to the folks back home, it leaves out New York City’s most valuable commodity—its people.

I could have written about the unknown or unseen New York, the scores of little islands—some populated, some not—in Jamaica Bay, in the harbor, in the East River, in the Hudson. Places like Ruffle Bar. Ruffle Bar? Google it. Places once home to psychiatric and typhoid quarantine hospitals. Buildings abandoned or demolished. Islands whose only residents are the dead buried there and forgotten. Interesting, certainly, but again it would have left out the thing that makes New York City what it is.

As a crime fiction author who sets much of his work in New York—largely in Brooklyn and Manhattan—I have done countless panels and interviews about the city. My friend and award-winning colleague, Peter Spiegelman, says that setting is the soil in which you grow your characters. He is so right. Ask any author worth his, her, or their salt, and they will tell you that a book that can be set anywhere isn’t much of a book at all. A book must be of its place. So too must a person.

New York City isn’t one place. It is a thousand places, ten thousand places. And because it is all those places, its people are different neighborhood to neighborhood, sometimes street to street. Certainly, house to house, apartment to apartment. Do we shape the place or does the place shape us? Instead of doing an overview, a sort of general discussion of this question, I think it better to talk about one place—Coney Island—and how it shaped one person—me.

I grew up in the shadow of Coney Island Hospital, about a mile or so away from the amusement park. I was right on the border of Brighton Beach, Gravesend, Sheepshead Bay, and Coney Island. I could explain how each of these neighborhoods differ, how, for instance, Sheepshead Bay is, for all intents and purposes, a fishing village. But no, not here, not now. At one point in my life or other, I have claimed to be from all these places. Yet it is Coney Island that resonates.

When I was four, my dad—a bitter, blustery, and angry man—was diagnosed with an aggressive bone sarcoma which he battled to a standstill for thirty plus more years. After his initial round of surgery and treatment, he was instructed to not do any activities that might jar or adversely affect his leg. Yet on summer Sundays, he would tell my mom that he was taking me for a car ride. We took car rides, alright, straight into Coney Island.

He would put me on the kiddy rides, take me to Nathan’s Famous, buy me pistachio soft serve. Then, in one of the few acts of true defiance I ever saw from him, he would get on the carousel and grab for the brass rings. On one of these Sundays, he pointed to the Parachute Jump. The “Jump” rose into the air two hundred and sixty feet. All orange steel, it looked like a cross between the Eiffel Tower and the skeleton of a giant umbrella.

“When that ride opened up,” he said, “my best pal Charlie and me got on it. The parachute dropped a few feet and then … nothing. We were stuck up there for forty-five minutes just hanging in the air. It was great.”

Of course, by then, the Parachute Jump, once part of Steeplechase Park, had been closed for years, its parachutes and rigging long gone. That day, those days, have stayed with me ever since. And when, as a teenager, I would go back to Coney Island with my friends, get high and ride the Cyclone, I would always look up at the Parachute Jump. It came to symbolize my dad to me. Mighty, impressive, but abandoned, and powerless. I loved my dad because I could see past his bluster. He let me see past it. All because of those few Sundays in Coney Island.

As if by osmosis, Coney Island began imposing itself in my work. My series character, Moe Prager, worked in the Six-O precinct in Coney Island. Scene after scene in the nine Moe books take place there. Even twenty-plus books later, in my new series, I cannot escape the gravity of Coney Island. It calls to me in a way I cannot explain other than to say it is romance in the way the Romantic poets understood it.

In my Edgar Award–nominated short story “The Terminal,” I wrote this:

“…He liked how Coney Island displayed its decay as a badge of honor. It didn’t try to hide the scars where pieces of its once-glorious self had been cut off. Stillwell Avenue west was like a showroom of abandonment, the empty buildings wearing their disuse like bankrupted nobility in frayed and fancy suits. He had come to the edge of the sea with the other last dinosaurs: the looming and impotent Parachute Jump, the Wonder Wheel, Nathan’s, the Cyclone.”

I could never have written those words in that way had I grown up in Washington Heights or Rego Park. New York City poets and writers are shaped by their families, yes, but shaped as much by where as by who. That is the magic of New York. This book will shine a light on the rest of that magic. By the way, my children and I have slightly different tattoos of the Parachute Jump: My son and I on our forearms; my daughter on her triceps. In those tats my dad and the Coney Island that was will live on.

***

Introduction from New York: Give Me Your Best or Your Worst by Reed Farrel Coleman. Copyright 2021 by Elizabeth Crowens. Reproduced with permission from Elizabeth Crowens. All rights reserved.

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About New York: Give Me Your Best or Your Worst:

Elizabeth Crowens with Author photo with Reed Farrel Coleman

Writer and photographer, Elizabeth Crowens is one of 500 New York City-based artists to receive funding through the City Artist Corps Grants program, presented by The New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA) and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs (DCLA), with support from the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment (MOME) as well as Queens Theatre.

She was recognized for New York: Give Me Your Best or Your Worst, her photo-illustrated anthology, which brought her published book along with ten other authors to Mysterious Bookshop in Lower Manhattan at 58 Warren Street on Monday, October 25, 2021 at 6:30 p.m. for an in-store event and author signing along with a simultaneous Facebook Live presentation and recording for Jim Freund’s WBAI program Hour of the Wolf.

Author contributors include:

  • Reed Farrel Coleman, New York Times bestselling author of over 31 award-winning mystery and thriller novels, including the Jesse Stone series for the estate of Robert B. Parker. Called a hard-boiled poet by NPR’s Maureen Corrigan.
  • Charles Salzberg, former magazine journalist, crime novelist of the Shamus Award-nominated Henry Swann series, founding member of the New York Writers Workshop.
  • Tom Straw, Emmy and WGA-nominated writer-producer, credits include Nurse Jackie, Night Court, Grace Under Fire, Whoopie, and the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson. Crime novelist under the pen name of Richard Castle.
  • Randee Dawn, Entertainment journalist for Today.com, Variety, and the Los Angeles Times. Co-editor of Across the Universe: Tales of Alternative Beatles and The Law & Order: SUV Companion, and speculative fiction writer of the upcoming Tune in Tomorrow.
  • Barbara Krasnoff, Reviews Editor at The Verge, over 45 published short stories, Nebula Award finalist, author of the “mosaic” novel The History of Soul 2065.
  • Steven Van Patten, TV stage manager by day, horror writer by night. Co-host of the Beef, Wine and Shenanigans podcast, winner of several African American Literary Awards.
  • Triss Stein writes mysteries that all take place in Brooklyn.
  • Marco Conelli, former NYPD detective, consultant to Mary Higgins Clark, and Silver Falchion award-winner for young adult mysteries and the police procedural Cry For Help, taking place in The Bronx.
  • R.J. Koreto, historical mystery writer focusing on New York during the Gilded Age.
  • Richie Narvaez, award-winning mystery author of Hipster Death Rattle, Holly Hernandez and the Death of Disco, and Noiryorican.
  • Elizabeth Crowens, over 25 years in the entertainment industry, member of the International Cinematographers Guild as a Still Photographer (Imdb.com credited: Sheri Lane), award-winning writer of novels in the Hollywood mystery and alternate history genres. Recipient of the Leo B. Burstein Scholarship by the NY Chapter of Mystery Writers of America. Editor and photographer for New York: Give Me Your Best or Your Worst based on her Facebook Caption Contests. elizabethcrowens.com, @Ecrowens on Twitter, and Elizabeth Crowens on Facebook!

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Tour Participants:

Visit the stops on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, and guest posts from our hosts and authors!

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#BookBlitz “Heart Stealer” by Delaney Diamond

Heart Stealer
Delaney Diamond
(The Cordoba Agency, #3)
Publication date: October 22nd 2021
Genres: Adult, Romance, Suspense

The last thing he wants to do is play bodyguard to the woman who broke his heart.

As the wife of a pioneer in the field of biotechnology, Katherine Stallworth had an up-close view of the ugly underbelly of corporate espionage and the cutthroat nature of competition. When her husband is murdered and her life threatened, she turns to Raheem Miller, the one man she can trust–despite their sordid past.

Years ago, Raheem fell in love with Katherine–older, sophisticated, and way out of his league. And nothing has changed. While he’d rather avoid this assignment, he’ll never forgive himself if anything happened to her. In the middle of conducting an investigation into her husband’s death, he discovers a conspiracy that could rock the very foundation of the United States.

Now he must bring the culprits to justice while keeping Katherine alive and his desire in check. Easier said than done.

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EXCERPT:

Katherine Stallworth stared in horror at the carnage before her and the foul stench of death. Nothing could have prepared her for this.

Her husband’s body lay sprawled across the duvet in the dimly lit room, his dark shirt darker from the uneven circle of blood that covered his entire chest. Dead, and so were his bodyguards.

Keith lay face down at the foot of the bed, his arm at an awkward angle, his weapon butted up against the wall as if someone had kicked it away from his hand. His suit jacket was soaked with blood, and so was the cream-colored carpet beneath him.

Ivan was on the floor, slumped with his back against the bed and his temple touching the nightstand. He would look like someone who’d fallen asleep sitting up, except half his face had been blown off and his white shirt was drenched in blood.

Blood.

Blood everywhere.

Katherine walked slowly over to the bed on shaky knees. Her husband’s pale skin was ashen and drained of life, his mouth open as if in the middle of a scream, and his sightless eyes staring up at the ceiling.

She lifted both hands to her mouth as tears filled her eyes and pain wrenched her heart. “Thurgood,” she whispered into her cupped palms. Who had done this, and why?

Then she heard a noise in the walk-in closet. Her heart jumped, and her mouth fell open in silent panic. She wasn’t alone. The killer was still there!

She backed away slowly, chest tight as she tried hard not to make a sound. When her foot breeched the entrance to the door, a shadowy figure dressed in black exited the closet, and she turned swiftly, rushing down the hall toward the staircase. Breathing accelerated, she gripped the wooden railing with a trembling hand and moved down the stairs as quickly and silently as she could on her toes.

These shoes! The pretty gold heels she’d worn with such pride to the reception she now cursed for their impracticality. Her pounding heart was so loud in her ears and her breathing so shallow, she wondered if the intruder could hear the evidence of her fear.

Her driver and the other bodyguard had already left for the night, but she had to get out of there. She had to get to the garage.

“Hey!”

Halfway down the stairs, she stopped and turned.

A man stared at her from the catwalk. He wore a black ski mask over his head, with openings for his mouth and eyes—eyes that locked with hers and reeked of venom. His menacing posture and the death she’d witnessed provoked an immediate response.

Run!

Katherine took off down the stairs.

“Stop!” he bellowed.

There was no way she was stopping.

Almost to the bottom, a gunshot shattered the wood railing she clutched. She screamed and, in her panic, missed her footing on the stairs. She twisted her ankle. Sharp pain jiggered up her leg, and she went down. Her hands flew out instinctively to protect her face, but she skidded along the edge of the last two steps, scraping her knees, shins, palms, and forearms.

She lost one shoe and landed in an ungainly heap at the foot of the stairs in the foyer with her evening gown crumpled around her upper thighs. Heavy footsteps pounded behind her. Too terrified to turn around, Katherine ignored the burn of the bruises and scrambled to her feet as another man appeared in the open doorway to her right.

“Get her!” the one on the staircase yelled.

She kicked off the other shoe and gathered her full skirt to keep from tripping over the hem. She limped away from them both as fast as possible, fueled solely by adrenaline as she raced into a second hallway and pushed open the door to Thurgood’s study. She slammed it closed and quickly turned the lock but knew her actions would not keep them out for long.

There was a loud boom as one of the men slammed his body against the door, which sent her scrambling across the room. She stubbed her little toe on a chair and cried out, wincing at the debilitating pain but didn’t dare stop, and hopped over to the bookcase beside her husband’s desk.

The master bedroom, where Thurgood was murdered, was also a safe room. But fortunately, there was a second safe room inside his study.

She yanked away two books hiding a plain-looking piece of metal in the wall and pressed her thumb to the silver disc. Right away, the entire shelf popped out, and she swung the door open.

The office door was kicked in at that very moment. The frame splintered and pieces of wood spewed through the air. Both men rushed in, but Katherine slipped between the shelf and the wall and yanked the door closed.


Author Bio:

Delaney Diamond is the USA Today Bestselling Author of sensual, passionate romance novels, and was born and raised in the U.S. Virgin Islands. She reads romance novels, mysteries, thrillers, and a fair amount of nonfiction. When she’s not busy reading or writing, she’s in the kitchen trying out new recipes, dining at one of her favorite restaurants, or traveling to an interesting locale. To get sneak peeks, notices of sale prices, and find out about new releases, visit her website and join her mailing list. Enjoy free stories on her website at http://www.delaneydiamond.com.

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#NewRelease “A Kiss at the Mistletoe Rodeo (Montana Mavericks: The Real Cowboys of Bronco Heights Book 5)” by Kathy Douglass

A Kiss cover

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“One little kiss won’t hurt anything.”

Rodeo superstar Geoff Burris is adored by legions of female fans, but life on the road makes him shun commitment. During a rare hometown visit to Bronco for a holiday competition, he’s sidelined by an injury—and meets Stephanie Brandt. She’s a local nurse who is not dazzled by his fame—and prefers to keep out of the spotlight! Geoff is captivated by the no-nonsense introvert. He’d never planned to put down roots, but when Stephanie is in his arms, all this cowboy can think about is forever…

From Harlequin Special Edition: Believe in love. Overcome obstacles. Find happiness.

Montana Mavericks: The Real Cowboys of Bronco Heights

Book 1: The Rancher’s Summer Secret by Christine Rimmer
Book 2: For His Daughter’s Sake by Stella Bagwell
Book 3: The Most Eligible Cowboy by Melissa Senate
Book 4: Grand-Prize Cowboy by Heatherly Bell
Book 5: A Kiss at the Mistletoe Rodeo by Kathy Douglass
Book 6: Dreaming of a Christmas Cowboy by Brenda Harlen

Amazon

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#ReleaseBlitz “The Immortal Blood (A Reign of Blood and Magic, Book 3)” by Abby Lane

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A Reign of Blood and Magic, Book 3

Dark Fantasy, Epic Fantasy

 

Date Published: October 26, 2021

Publisher: SPK Publishing

A slain god and a crippled queen with stolen powers join forces to battle a mutual enemy in this dark fantasy.

When Queen Cynara summons magic into the king’s forest, she cannot know how a stolen power will cripple her, or that an orb used during her spell has let loose a single droplet of blood. Now, immortal blood is multiplying, and breeding with living creatures, which includes the statue of an undead king.

Resurrected from the dead, Anastacio once lived in the Otherworld. With his godly life reborn, he resolves to find the goddess from his past and avenge the injustice done to both of them, but to thrive, in life and in health, he requires assistance from someone without trust. Queen Cynara has a secret that may provide the answers, but she’s trapped inside her frozen body, similar to the husband she encased in mortar. Why would anyone help her?

How will a god oversee the kingdom; the royal family, a former queen and a true born prince whose secret has been kept from everyone? With help from a witch and Norse goddesses from the Otherworld, might blood and magic seed the ultimate revenge? Or will an enemy hated by everyone claim victory—again.

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Other books in the A Reign of Blood and Magic series:

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The Scarlett Mark

A Reign of Blood and Magic. Book 1

In The Scarlett Mark the first novel in A Reign of Blood and Magic, Princess Scarlett tests her stepbrother, unaware that her behavior will endanger her father the king, threaten her royal sisters, and help her power-hungry step-mother—the queen. The sorceress plans to steal the throne and rid the castle of her stepchildren, but a risk taken forces the queen to banish Scarlett, delivering her to certain death.

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The Ebony Queen

A Reign of Blood and Magic, Book 2

In The Ebony Queen, the second novel in A Reign of Blood and Magic, the devil Daemonis schemes with Queen Cynara, enabling her to conjure the highest level of Solomonic magic. Using this mega-spell, she deploys tempests against three princesses, casting a blanket of evil on her enemies. The ensuing storm ushers Ruby into the night, stifles Rose at sea, and threatens Scarlett in a home where she thought she’d be safe. A lord and two guardians cannot protect their wards and not even a god is safe from the queen’s sorcery. But power comes with a price, and unknown to Cynara, the devil has a secret strategy. When a blood moon eclipses the night sky, Cynara invokes her magic in the king’s forest.

Amazon

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About the Author

Abby Lane is the author of several novels in genre fiction, including her latest release, The Immortal Blood. She appreciates the many ways myths, fairy tales, and epic fantasy tell a story, and credits Disney’s Sleeping Beauty and George R. R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire, with inspiring her love of storytelling. A history enthusiast, she’s traveled to the United Kingdom and France to explore secret gardens and medieval castles, having an avid interest in the Tudor period. Abby shares her life with her husband and adores her adult children, including three special grand pups named Bella, Arya, and Charlie. When she isn’t at her home in Calgary, she’s admiring the ocean from her cottage in Maple Bay.

Contact Links

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Purchase Links

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RABT Book Tours & PR

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#FREE “What My Friends Don’t Know (The Alex Chronicles Book 2)” by Tracy Reed

book cover

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Secrets.
Lies.
Threats.
And an unforgettable kiss.

“With one kiss, he branded me his.”

Alex Miller has a secret which she’s kept buried in the cellar of her heart for close to twenty years. A secret so powerful it could destroy her first love and the fantasies of a life she longed for.

Or she can leave the past behind for passion and love with a man willing to give her the reality she desires.

FREE at time of posting!

(check price before downloading)

Amazon

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#FREE “Girlfriends & Secrets (The Alex Chronicles Book 1)” Tracy Reed

Reed 1

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Alex Miller has a secret that could bring down a multi-billion dollar empire, get her husband back and endanger her life.
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“Planning to elope with my college boyfriend, but marrying his best friend is a small secret compared to the one I learned about the family I married into.”
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Alex is sitting on a few secrets all tied to one man, her first love. If her best friends opened her box of secrets, they’d be surprised.

Alex and her best friends, long for the fairytale complete with a happy ending. Unfortunately, the road to a happy ending is paved with grenades.

A secret is only a secret if no one knows about it. But what do you do when the person who shares your secret wants to tell it?

FREE at time of posting!

(check price before downloading)

Amazon

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#BookSale “I Got This: How I Changed My Ways and Lost What Weighed Me Down” by Jennifer Hudson

book cover

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An honest and inspirational story of dreaming big, winning big, and losing big, by one of today’s most-beautiful voices and brightest Hollywood stars.

Exciting, inspirational, and honest, I Got This is Jennifer’s journey from a girl growing up on Chicago’s South Side to performing on the American Idol stage, where she heard not one but numerous remarks about her look not being right for stardom.

Tired of always trying to look the part, and raising a son for whom Jennifer wanted to set a good example, she decided to get healthy. She would lose the weight, once and for all—not for a role, not for a record label, but for herself. Teaming up with Weight Watchers and using their PointsPlus® program, Jennifer learned how to think about food differently, and in the process, changed her life for the better. In I Got This, she’ll show you how she embraced Weight Watchers as a realistic, healthy way of life and helps anyone who has ever suffered from a weight problem to do the same.

1.99 at al online digital retailers for a limited time!

Amazon

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#BookBlitz “Blessed to Have Been Abandoned: The Story of The Baby Box Lady” by Monica Kelsey

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The Story of The Baby Box Lady

Date Published: April 9, 2021

Publisher: MindStir Media

She went from being ABANDONED, to saving abandoned babies.

Poignant, brutally honest and triumphant; Blessed to Have Been Abandoned is the true story of Monica Kelsey, the founder of Safe Haven Baby Boxes. Follow Monica’s story as she discovers the secrets of her painful beginnings, the painful journey of her birth mother, wrestling with being abandoned as an infant, yet being given the gift of an amazing forever family. Watch as Monica’s personal struggle births the vision for a national organization that is saving the lives of abandoned infants across the United States.

A heart wrenching yet ultimately victorious story, Blessed to Have Been Abandoned will take you through the pain, struggle, valleys and mountain tops of Monica’s life, all of these pointing to the amazing hand of God. A testimony to God’s faithfulness and His plan and purpose, this book will encourage your own heart and help you find purpose through pain and we trust it will bring Glory to God, the Author of each one of our complicated, messy and inspiring journeys.

Praise

“Monica Kelsey’s Blessed to Have Been Abandoned: The Story of the Baby Box Lady is an uplifting inspirational story of how one woman answered God’s call on her life, transforming her difficult beginning into a mission to protect the most vulnerable among us in her home state and beyond. It’s exactly the kind of story we need. Highly recommended!” -J.J. Hebert, #1 bestselling author

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About the Author

Monica Kelsey is the founder and Executive Director of Safe Haven Baby Boxes, a 501c3 non profit whose mission is to prevent infant abandonment and give mother’s in crisis a safe, legal and completely anonymous option of surrendering their unharmed newborn. Monica’s personal story of being abandoned at birth by a teen mom who had been raped and hidden away for her entire pregnancy propelled her to speak on behalf of babies like herself as well as her birth mother who desperately needed a safe option. Monica is also a firefighter/paramedic and knows first hand how important first responders are to state Safe Haven laws.

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