#Excerpt “Power of One” by Devpal Gupta

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Motivation Book/Self Help

Date Published: July 1st 2020


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 Author Devpal Gupta believes in living life according to those core values to which we we all have access: respect, positivity, and passion. In his debut inspirational book, Power of One, Devpal extracts lessons from his life’s journey which began in Tanzania and London and transplanted him to a successful life as an Arizona-based commercial real estate executive and applies them to real-life principles. With no holds barred, Devpal tells it like it is — he offers no excuse and takes no excuses when it comes to living a purposeful life. With eight hard-hitting, short-and-sweet chapters like “Get Over It” and “Why is the Brown Guy Better Than Us”, Devpal straight shoots advice on how to remain genuine, honest and real.

Devpal also introduces his own theory, the Power of One. He imparts upon readers that in order to be truly prosperous, the only one you can rely on, is yourself.

The Power of One is a fantastically quick read and a dynamic demonstration of what it takes to be resourceful and resilient in a world that rewards people for gratuitous likes rather than the efforts and principles behind hard work.

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Chapter 5:

  • When 9/11 happened, Sikhs were one of the most targeted communities because we wear turbans and we don’t shave our beards. People thought we were responsible for the terrorist attacks. Balbir Singh Sodhi, a Sikh and a local gas station owner in Phoenix, was shot and killed on September 15, 2001, because someone believed he was Muslim due to his turban and beard. No one should be killed for how they worship or don’t. Balbir’s gas station is fifteen minutes from where I live now with my family. Numerous incidents such as these happened to Sikhs across the United States because people could not differentiate between turbans.
  • When I went on interviews after graduating from Arizona State University in 2005, there were companies who loved my personality and my resume but couldn’t accept the turban. I’d walk into an interview and I’d see smiles disappear as they stared at what represented my faith, my culture and me. I have since cut my hair and stopped wearing the dastār. I often regret doing so.  That was my identity; it fit me perfectly. It was a part of me, just like a leg or hand, but I let others tell me it didn’t fit in their world. I allowed strangers to dictate how I should appear in their life. I let their relevancy make mine irrelevant.
  • Why do we let others tell us what’s right or wrong? We’re already questioning ourselves; we don’t need their help to do it. We let irrelevant people into our lives to preach and tell us what makes us relevant, and yet these people hold zero significance to our personal wellbeing and growth. Shockingly, we let them tell us what makes us relevant in this world. We need to protect that right and use it for ourselves.
  • Until you respect yourself, until you place a value on yourself that is intrinsically high because it’s what you believe in, no one else is going to place the same value on you. If you think you are only worth ten dollars an hour, how and why would you expect anyone to pay you twenty? How can you expect people to think you are relevant if you are content with being normal? How can you remain authentic to yourself if you don’t respect yourself?


 About the Author

Devpal Gupta is an Executive Director at one of the top commercial real estate firms in the greater Phoenix area. Specializing exclusively in Tenant Representation, he is responsible for servicing local clients and national
accounts. Dev started in the industry in 1997 and has always worked exclusively as a Tenant advocate. Since that time, he has completed over 200 transactions ranging in size and scope from 5,000 square feet to 500,000
square feet and involving services from conventional lease analysis, strategic planning, unique build-to-suit projects, building acquisitions and dispositions. Dev’s specialties include office and industrial leasing, relocations, renewals and acquisitions.

Dev possesses extensive experience with managing and implementing
transactions for diverse national portfolios, or large one-off deals.
In addition he has numerous companies with large sale-leaseback
transactions. His particular knowledge of real estate financial issues
enables him to proactively manage all types of transactions, minimizing
risk, increasing flexibility, and reducing overall occupancy costs. Dev won
Costar’s Power Broker of the year award in 2011, 2014, 2016 and 2018.

His dedication to his career and his craft carries over into how he lives
his life: with passion, honesty and attention to detail. Dev works hard,
plays hard and finds time to motivate people to living a meaningful life by
reminding them to return to their core values. The Power of One is his first

Dev lives in Arizona with his wife and life partner, Suprit and their two
lovely children. He has recently persuaded his parents to move from Tanzania
and into his home; Dev considers this some of his best work yet.


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#ReleaseBlitz “First Second Coming” by Jeff Pollak

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Book One In The New God Series
Supernatural Suspense, Romantic Suspense
Date Published: August 1
Publisher: Acorn Publishing
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In 2027 the deity known as NTG – short for New Testament God – retires after more than two thousand years of minding the store for his employer, Milky Way Galaxy, Inc. The new god, a planetary turnaround specialist, must decide whether Earth’s dominant species should or should not be included in his plan to bring the planet back into full compliance with Milky Way Galaxy, Inc.’s planetary operation standards.

Earth’s new God introduces himself to humanity by unexpectedly appearing on the Ram Forrester Hour talk show. Ram, an atheist, and co-host Brendali Santamaria, a devout Catholic, are stunned. God’s interview, beamed worldwide, shocks and infuriates viewers. They learn that a sixty-day conference will take place in Los Angeles to determine whether humans are capable of helping him implement his planetary turnaround plan. All mankind must do to earn a coveted spot in this God’s good graces is eliminate religious violence forever, without his heavenly help. Failure means extinction.

God designates Ram and Bren as the conference’s only authorized media reporters. This assignment, fraught with peril, ignites their romance. Not only must the harried couple attend the conference meetings by day and do their show at night, they must also outwit a fanatical religious group bent on killing them. When rising conflicts within the conference intensify, it’s up to Ram and Bren to do whatever it takes to protect their budding romance and mankind’s very survival.



Thirteen hours late, my cross-galaxy voyage to the All-Souls Transit Center ends in a puff of soft lunar dirt on Mare Tranquillitatis. I expect to meet the legendary God of planet Earth in his office but as I deplane he’s shuffling down the concourse toward his departure gate. He’s easy to spot – inside this small, sparse four gate terminal we are the only life forms in sight.

With his stooped posture and unkempt shoulder length gray hair, God reminds me of the mythical Atlas. His tremors underscore the physical and emotional toll he has had to bear. Did his mental state also degrade? He spent two millennia managing a planet populated by quarrelsome headstrong terrestrials. Over that much time any deity posted to such a world would succumb to the effects of prolonged stress.

I quicken my pace, catch up to him and extend a hand. “Good day, Lord.”

“This is how you address your superiors?” The decibel level of his gruff voice implies impaired hearing. “Where are your manners? A bow is in order.”

Though I have not yet fully adapted to the musculature of this adult male body I inhabit, my flawless execution of a deep obeisance brings a quick smile to my face.

God gives me a brusque signal to rise. “You’re my replacement, are you?”

“Correct, Lord. I am humbled and honored to take your place.” I bow again, less fully.

“Call me NTG if you wish. I prefer answering to that nickname.”

So the rumor is true. That he calls himself the New Testament God instead of his given name means he has indeed gone native. This explains a lot.

We sink into a ‘maximum comfort’ couch – or so the attached tag boasts – stuffed full of condensed nimbostratus cloud threads imported from Earth. An ugly green tarp spread over the cushions prevents our clothes from getting soaked by residual moisture.

God adjusts his overcoat and leans toward me. “I trust you had an enjoyable flight?”

“I would like to say yes, but what a hellacious trip.” That’s an understatement. “We flew through several cosmic storms, circumvented an unmapped black hole and limped here on back-up power after the anti-matter fuel engine failed. I will never fly by chartered spaceship again.”

“Now that you’ve arrived, what makes you think you can take on a tough job like this?”

“This is my fourth assignment, though the first for Milky Way Galaxy, Inc.” I place my carry-on bag on the tan moonrock table and open a side pocket. “I have a résumé, if you want to peruse it. In each previous posting, the planets I shepherded returned to optimal status. Whilst this assignment is more complex, I assure you my record shall remain unsullied.”

“Humph.” He spits into the thin puddle created by the leaky couch and waves off my résumé. “I thought those spineless MWGI decision-makers would send a rank amateur. After only three postings, you expect to fix this mess? You’re still wet around the ears, sonny. Have you even hung your precious university degrees on a wall yet?” He points at the nearby picture window. “On Earth they say you learn more through failure than success.”

“Elder, I did not travel here to fail. MWGI reached out because of my extensive training as a planetary turnaround specialist. They are confident I am the best available deity for this job.”

“And you agree with that assessment, do you?” He fidgets, as though trying to stand and walk away, but can’t get off the couch. 

“I would not otherwise have taken the job, Lord. Once I did, I undertook considerable research. The travel delays afforded me extra preparation time. I have learned everything a new deity should know about Earth and its inhabitants. I am ready to take the reins.”

“Your extensive reading helped you form opinions regarding the humans, did it?”

I disregard the sarcasm implicit in the question. If I ever reach his wizened old age, young deities will receive better treatment from me than this. His attitude is understandable, though. Forced retirement is a difficult pill for anyone to swallow, supreme beings included.

“Lord, these sentient beings do have many laudable qualities. However, whilst I prefer not to focus on the negative, on the whole humans strike me as a rather unpredictable species.”

NTG spits again and rummages through the pockets of his black overcoat, pants and vest. “Where’s the damn thing? Did I forget it? Ah, here. Since you’re not dead, you’ll need this to get into heaven.”

He hands me a Holyday Inn card key with “NTG” stenciled on the back side. I stare at the card whilst mulling over my research, which characterized heaven as an imaginary afterlife sanctuary. With a shrug, I deposit the card in the pocket of my blue denim shirt.

“Many humans call it heaven, but I consider it home.” God’s melancholic smile comes and goes in seconds. “Souls get over the false advertising once they adjust to their newly deceased status. Follow the overhead signs to the tram that’ll take you to the complex. My office is by the main gate so I can greet arrivals on St. Peter’s days off. Ask for Angie, my chief of staff. She’s a real angel in every sense of the word.”


About the Author

Jeff Pollak grew up in Riverdale – not the one in the Archie comics and movies, the one in the Bronx. After graduating college in Buffalo’s often frozen tundra, he moved to Los Angeles to thaw out and learn to play golf without losing the ball in snow drifts. While there, a law school accepted him into their night program. Now retired from life as a civil trial litigator, Jeff lives in the Crescenta Valley where the closest Jeff comes to winter is his sporadic attendance at hockey games.
FIRST SECOND COMING, Jeff’s debut novel, was inspired by 9/11. Like everyone else, Jeff was transfixed by the unfolding tragedy. Unlike everyone else, Jeff had clients in the World Trade Center, his law firm had given annual seminars at Windows of the World, at the top of the building, and he’d become familiar with some of the staff. While watching the WTC collapse, the thought “earth needs a new God who’s a planetary turnaround specialist,” came to mind. Over the ensuing decade, this odd idea germinated in the deeper recessions of Jeff’s overactive brain until this story hatched in 2015. Jeff’s been writing it ever since.
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#BookBlitz “Dark Energy (Return to Becker Circle)” by Addison Brae

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Dark Energy (Return to Becker Circle) is a stand-alone sequel to Becker Circle
Romantic Suspense; Adult/New Adult
 Date Published: June 10, 2020 (on pre-sale now)
Publisher:  Tirgearr Publishing

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Cybercrime doesn’t talk. It creeps in and destroys lives right under Gillian’s nose when a cryptojacking scheme lands her boss, Pinkie, in jail. Gillian had just started over with a new career, boyfriend, and confidence after escaping a vicious murder investigation that shattered her ability to trust. Then Pinkie’s arrest leaves her struggling to run his two bars while also unraveling the conspiracy.
Gillian will not let her mentor and friend go down for something he didn’t do. Neither will Jon, the most talented musician on the bar’s stage and the perfect boyfriend…until his good fortune sends her reeling. Gillian forces herself to trust the cops, people who hurt her, and known criminals. Will it be enough to free Pinkie and save her life?



Chapter Seven (portion)

 When I approach the entrance, a man with a tablet computer approaches my car. “Your name, please? And why are you visiting the FBI today?”

They’re holding Pinkie at FBI headquarters? He doesn’t belong at a place like this. “Yes, hello. I’m Gillian Davis, here to visit with Pinkie—I mean Patrick Cunningham.”

He fingers through pages on his screen. “Your purpose for seeing Mr. Cunningham?”

I shift in the driver’s seat. “I manage a business he owns. I need to talk to him about work—I mean what to do while he’s away.”

“You’re not listed.” The arm holding the computer relaxes to his side.

“Officer Jeff Reeves called ahead. He’s with Dallas police.”

“I’ll make a quick call.” He walks away with a phone to his ear. In a few seconds, the gate opens, and he waves me through.

I let out the lungful of air I’ve been holding and drive. Hurdle one crossed. Three flags line the entrance like they’re waving me away, or maybe they’re inviting me in. Either way, I march through the heavy glass doors, step through the metal detector, follow the signs through the cold marble and stainless steel lobby to the visitor area, and wait.

A lawyer-like young woman in a gray suit taps on her laptop across the otherwise empty room. I feel underdressed. Footsteps echo toward us, and my heart beats as fast as her fingers type. It’s a man in a dark blue suit, his eyes on me.

“Ms. Davis? I’m Agent Redman.” His voice is gentler than I expected. “Come with me.”

While we walk, the million questions I have for Pinkie parade through my head.

What happened? Who would do this to you? When will they let you out? What do I do at work tomorrow? Is your lawyer one of those hotshots who only represent innocent people? Do you have a lawyer?

He opens the door, revealing Pinkie sitting on the edge of a chair in a small room. Dark circles have bloomed like he didn’t sleep last night.

“Gillian, you’re a sight for sore eyes.” He motions to the chair on the other side of the table. “Make yourself comfortable. Can I get you a glass of wine?”

A laugh overpowers my questions. “You can still keep your sense of humor. How are you?”

“Been better.”



About the Author

Addison Brae lives in Dallas, Texas on the edge of downtown. As a child, she was constantly in trouble for hiding under the bed to read when she was supposed to be napping. She has been writing since childhood starting with diaries, letters and short stories. She continues today with articles, video scripts and other content as an independent marketing consultant.
Addison writes new adult and adult romantic suspense and young adult contemporary fiction. When she’s not writing, Addison spends her time traveling the world, collecting interesting cocktail recipes and hosting parties. She’s still addicted to reading and enjoys jogging in her neighborhood park, sipping red wine, binge-watching TV series, vintage clothing and hanging out with her artistic other half and their neurotic cat Lucy. 
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#BookBlitz “Speakeasy” by A.M. Dunnewin

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Suspense Thriller / Historical
Date Published: 12/21/2011
Publisher:  Dark Hour Press, LLC
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The novella is centered on Eddie Durante, owner of a speakeasy who’s supported by his mobster uncle—the boss of the Durante family. Eddie is a young widower after his family’s rival, the Caprice family, murdered his wife over a territory dispute. After devising a plan that retaliated against four of the rivaling capos, Eddie is left with the daunting task to try and move on. That is, until he’s notified that the Caprices have put a hit man in the speakeasy—and Eddie’s name is on the list. But things take an unexpected turn when Eddie instead starts to find the dead bodies of his relatives, the ones who had helped in the retaliation.
Behind the backdrop of jazz music and glistening flappers, murder after murder begins to unravel as revenge takes center stage, and Eddie soon learns that some secrets can’t be taken to the grave.



Once the doors were closed, Sal didn’t take long to get right to the point. “They know it was you, Eddie.”

The words slapped him across the face, but Eddie didn’t respond.

“That you were the one who came up with the idea,” Sal continued. “They’re out for retaliation, and it’s rumored that they’ve sent a torpedo into this juice joint of yours. That’s part of the reason why I’m not being too open with the information. Afraid of who might be listening.”

A hit man in his speakeasy. Eddie stared out the windshield, watching Sal begin to light a cigarette out of the corner of his eye. “I had a lot of ideas,” he remarked hoarsely, fear and dread subtly mixing into his thoughts.

“Only took one,” Sal responded as he lit the cigarette. He silently offered one to Eddie, who refused with a shake of his head. “Sorry, kid,” Sal explained as he took a puff. “After what they did to your wife, I wouldn’t have blamed ya.”

Eddie remained silent, his eyes drifting to the bootleggers who were moving the last of the crates. No wonder they weren’t laying their eyes on him. He was a dead target.

Sal took another drag on his cigarette, taking a moment for himself. “Don’t worry, though,” he finally remarked. “Your family’s got your back. My brother-in-law, your dear uncle, has requested that Joe stay by your side until we can square away if there’s a torpedo and who it is.”

“What?” Eddie balked, shattering his calm exterior.

“It’s temporary,” Sal cooed, trying to calm the young man down. “He’s just some extra protection.”

Eddie gawked, unable to believe that they’d send Joe, of all people, to protect him. “He’s crazy,” was all Eddie could summarize when it came to his cousin.

“He’s happy,” Sal tried to smooth over.

Trigger happy,” Eddie corrected.

Sal shrugged his shoulders. “He gets the job done. And when the boss’ favorite nephew needs protection, the boss will only send the very best.”

“I don’t need protection,” Eddie fought back, trying not to raise his voice to the lunacy. “And even if I did, I have Anthony and Marcus in there—”

“Little orphan Anthony and Baby Marcus?” Sal choked, half laughing, half sputtering on the cigarette smoke. “Marcus is too naive, and Anthony,” but Sal had to chuckle first before he could continue. “Well, ya better just pray your killer isn’t a female.”

“Thanks for warning me,” Eddie begrudgingly admitted as he pulled the door handle…



About the Author

A. M. Dunnewin grew up with a taste for mysteries and thrillers, inherited ever so lovingly from her family. An affiliate member of the Horror Writers Association, A. M.’s own stories cover a wide range of genres that tend to take a dark turn when least expected. With a B.A. in Psychology, she’s a gambler of words, obsessed with chai tea, and addicted to books – everything from classical literature to graphic novels. Other hobbies include art, history, music, equestrianism, and a good classic film. She currently dwells in Northern California.
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#BookTour “ONE” by Mirav Tarkka

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Non-Fiction / Wellness Guide
Date Published: March 3, 2020
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We are all looking for balance and happiness in life. Today’s society certainly isn’t making it any easier to achieve that elusive blend of health, success and well-being.
ONE is the ultimate wellness guide on balance between Body and Mind, a winning combo of 22 therapists, handpicked by Mirav Tarkka, on the subject of improving your well-being. Accessible, easy to read and full of practical tips this is book is a must have, a perfect mix of storytelling and hands-on advice on getting to live the life you deserve.
The book talks about different areas of life; nutrition, creativity, sexuality, stress, communication, power finding and creating and lots more are covered to give you a comprehensive insight on the connection between body and mind.

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Confession from the Publisher

ONE was born in my head just like my younger daughter’s name came to me; a gentle, yet certain whisper in my head, telling me to listen to it. I must do it.

That gentle voice arrived while I was showering, and I remember literally jumping out of the shower, rushing over to my computer and starting the process of creating something which simply had to be created.

As I am writing this, I have goose bumps all over my body. I still don’t fully grasp what has happened; I was led to this journey; I was an instrument in the hands of the universe. And, as always, I obeyed.

“You must do it now” the voice repeated. And so, I rearranged my priorities and my schedule, and let ONE lead the way. As the days passed, ONE was created, marvelous people came into my life, people I know will stay in my life forever, as our souls are united with the mission ONE has created.

We worked hard. Stealing time from our loved ones, sacrificing our sleep and ourselves. We created ONE, just as life is created; with unconditional love, with patience, with dedication.

It is hard to describe the feeling, the euphoria of bringing ONE to the world. It was something I couldn’t wait to do; I don’t really want it to end.

You will feel the love in the lines of this book. You will embrace the energy and accept it as yours, it is inevitable. That is, on top of the transformation this book will bring to your life and the lives of your loved ones.

To me, ONE represents a new family, a global family, people uniting together, as ONE.

Thank you  for  choosing me,  as  your  author, your  publisher, your “pachamamma”.

I am truly honoured.



About the Author
Mirav Tarkka is the bestselling author of Undefeatable, founder of Pepper Coaching and host of ONE – the online wellness tv show. She is the brainchild behind ONE the ultimate wellness book written by 20 different experts. A book on the balance between Body and Mind explained from different angles. From how to live life orgamiscally, to releasing your chakras, Chinese medicine, nutrition and the power of words are just some of the subjects covered in the book.
Through her life, Mirav has had her fair share of breakdown moments. She had to rebuild her life from scratch many times while dealing with a roller coaster of emotions, wars, challenges and pain, but she kept going – no matter what.
Through her own profound personal journey, she discovered the power of the mind to be not less important than that of the body. Mirav then created a method which combines strengthening the body while sharpening the mind, in order to help people around the world use their true, raw, authentic power, unleash their inner strength while working on their mind muscles so that they can enjoy every aspect of life to their fullest potential.
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email mirav@peppercoaching.online




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#Excerpt “The Black Cup” by Alec Lavictoire

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Middle-Grade Fantasy
Published Date: May 29, 2020
Publisher: INtense Publications LLC
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Twelve-year-old Max knows the King wants him dead. Born with his heart outside of his rib cage, Max is abandoned at birth by his father and raised by a kind witch who sacrifices all to keep him safe from the outside world. In time, Max’s father ruthlessly ascends to the throne and becomes the most feared king in history thanks to The Black Cup’s evil powers. When he learns that the baby he abandoned years ago still lives, and is now nearly a man, the King orders his troops to find and kill Max so that his rule will go unchallenged by his own blood. Rather than run away from the danger, Max embarks on a journey toward the city to seek his father and prevent further destruction of the kingdom and its people. That’s where the witch, the King, and Max are set on a collision course. The world they have known, and the lives they have lived, will be changed forever.

Purchase Link

Intense Publications



He took the cup in his large hand and brought it to his lips. He examined the coarse black mineral the cup was made of. It appeared to be so dark as to absorb light. He felt the liquid travel down his throat and his thirst was quenched as it had never been before.

“Your son still lives at this hour. He is with a witch. She is cunning. I would suggest you take care of the matter as soon as possible.”

The effects of the drink were beginning to take hold. His mind filled with euphoric visions of bloody triumph. He could feel the sheer power coursing in his veins.

“You mean for me to return in that maze to slay a mutant baby?”

“If he is your only blood as you say, then he is the only one who can ever stop you.”

“If he lives to see the sun rise, I would be stunned. He will not grow to be a warrior with the strength to slay me.”

“Very well. However, the possibility is there. Know that once you leave this forest you may never return. It is forbidden.”

“That is of little concern.”

William filled the cup from the bottle again and downed its contents. His grey eyes grew darker. He could see clearly in the darkness now.        The old man’s eyes before him were a milky opalescent. A blind man in an abandoned tavern in the middle of nowhere. This was either an old fool or a specter handing him a power from across the divide. He examined the cup again before tucking it securely beneath his breastplate.


About the Author
Alec Lavictoire was born and raised in Northern Ontario and now resides in Orangeville, Canada with his wife and two sons who served as the inspiration for the hero of this tale. Alec’s love of adventure has taken him all over the world on extended backpack treks where he thrives on coming up against the unknowns hidden around every corner. Some of Alec’s short stories have appeared in Fiction on the Web, 50 Word Stories, and Commuter Lit. This is his first novel.
Contact Links
Twitter: @LavictoireAlec
Instagram: @lavictoirealec


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#Excerpt “The Spa at Lavender Lane” by Phyllis Melhado

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Women’s Fiction
Date Published: May 7, 2020
Publisher: Black Rose Writing 
Take a peek behind the curtain of wealth and glamour in Phyllis Melhado’s sassy and sultry beach read. The guests who arrive for a
10-day stay at the nation’s premier spa at Lavender Lane seem to have
everything a girl could want: high-flying careers, social and financial
prowess, access to the top fashions and beauty products, and even a dash of
fame. Yet each woman is in need of rejuvenation from insecurities, flatlined
business motivation, or failed relationships – problems that will require more
than the spa’s renowned anti-aging quince cream to fix. As the women learn to
trust one another, they each figure out how to take a second chance at life,
and reclaim what’s most important.



Chapter Two

“We’re here, Miss,” the driver said, jarring Toni Etheridge from a state roughly approaching relaxation. She pushed her sunglasses up into her tousled auburn hair and snapped open her bloodshot hazel eyes, almost sorry the ride was over. The trip from LAX had provided the first pleasant moments in an otherwise horrendous travel day filled with an insane traffic jam on the way to JFK which nearly caused her to miss her flight, a terrible seat at the rear of the plane where the cabin staff were constantly rattling cans and refilling their carts and a raucous group of drag queens on their way to a competition in LA, who didn’t shut up for a minute during the entire five-hour flight.  But the capper was the sudden drop in altitude that put her stomach firmly in her mouth and sent her stumbling to the bathroom to make sure that her body had not betrayed her like it had done a few years before. Happily, what she found was just the result of a leaky bladder and not the catastrophe she had dreaded.

“May I help you?” asked the good-looking young man as he opened the car door and offered his hand. He smiled broadly, gleaming white teeth set off by eager blue eyes and deeply tanned skin. Even though they were miles from the sea, Toni thought he had perfect California surfer looks, complete with thick, wavy blonde hair and a tall, well-built body.

“Did you have a good trip?” he inquired.

“Good trip!” Toni grunted, pushing her glasses back down to shield her eyes from the southern California desert sun. “Do you really want to know?

She leaned back and looked at him for a long moment, then laughed. “Of course you don’t want to know! I’ll spare you.”

There was an audible sigh of relief.

“Ms.,” the limo driver interjected, appearing with two mismatched and beaten-up travel bags.

“Oh, thanks. You can dump my stuff over there,” Toni said, pointing to a collection of Gucci, Vuitton and Prada bags waiting to be delivered to the rooms of other newly arrived guests.

“Now, Michael?” she asked, focusing on the name badge pinned to the surfer boy’s neat white Lacoste shirt. “Where to?” She grabbed his arm and gave him one of her most engaging smiles.

Michael smiled politely and tried to usher Toni in through the front door. “They’ll take good care of you at the desk, Ms…”

“Etheridge,” Toni said, taking off her sunglasses, but making no move to walk in.

“We’ve got to get you checked in quickly, Ms. Etheridge. Madame Demidova runs a tight ship.”

“I’ve heard that, Michael,” Toni said, toying with his nametag. I’m sure she depends on you to, uh, keep things moving.” She flashed him a coy smile. “And I certainly don’t want to get you in any kind of trouble.”

There was an awkward pause.

“I would sure appreciate that, Ma’am.”

“Ma’am!” Toni shrieked. “Dear God. I’m not that old!”

“Of course not!” Michael said quickly as he encouraged her through the door to reception.

“Ah, Ms. Etheridge,” the front desk clerk said. “Welcome!” But before Toni had a chance to reply, the cell phone buried in her huge tote bag began to ring. Damn, she thought, remembering the rules she had read in Lavender Lane’s confirmation letter: No men, other than staff, allowed on the premises. No loud talking in the public areas. And absolutely no cell phones. She began fumbling in her bag. “Shit!” she said, quite audibly. “Where is the damn thing?”

“Ah,” she heard a voice say softly. “You must be Antoinette Etheridge. We’ve been expecting you.”

Toni looked at the small, impeccably dressed woman who had silently advanced toward her. Clearly Chanel, and definitely the real thing — and oh-oh. It could only be one person.

“Oh, dear. I am so sorry,” she said sheepishly. Her phone, which had migrated to the bottom of her bag, somewhere between a prickly hairbrush and a plastic bag full of broken pretzel bits, continued to ring. “Guess I forgot to turn the darned thing off.” Gee-sus. Do you believe this? Toni felt her face flower into a full flush. She rummaged around her bag and after two more excruciating rings, finally located the phone and turned it off.

The woman in Chanel stood silently, a patient smile on her face.

“My apologies,” Toni said.

“Nothing to be concerned about,” the woman said in a soothing tone. “You’re here, now, and it’s time to leave behind those dreadful little machines and all that New York stress.”  She offered her hand. “I’m Nadia Demidova, dear. Welcome to Lavender Lane.”


When Mavis Perkins was shown her accommodations, her gray-green eyes ignited with slow, icy fire. Her favorite suite, with some of the most magnificent sunsets in the western part of the United States, had been given to someone else, and this was simply not to be tolerated.

“What do you mean I can’t have my regular suite?” she asked, reveling in her haughtiest demeanor, making her cheekbones seem angled even higher on her fabled porcelain skin, while her chiseled nostrils arched in their most sanctimonious flare, as she pronounced the word “mean” with near biblical profundity.

“I’m so sorry, Mrs. Perkins,” Nadia answered, reaching for Mavis’s hand. Her apology was not an empty one. She always did her best to accommodate her clients’ wishes, especially those who were regulars. But as Nadia moved forward, Mavis pulled away. She simply would not be touched.

Nadia wondered how she was going to handle the situation without breaking a confidence, and for a moment she nearly succumbed to temptation. It would be so much easier just to tell Mavis who was in “her” suite, but she couldn’t. Word simply could not get out. Eleanor was a highly visible spokesperson for her company, and if the media or the internet ever got hold of information about her plastic surgery, the perception of Lavender Lane as a retreat steeped in absolute discretion would be totally destroyed.

“I am terribly sorry that your favorite accommodations are not available this visit. I know how much you like that particular suite.”

“Like it,” Mavis intoned. “I practically own it. Let me remind you that I have been coming here two, sometimes three times a year for more than a decade.” She glared at Nadia. “You add that up, it comes to a hell of a lot of cash.” She kept her eyes fixed firmly on Nadia, not allowing her a second’s grace.

“Yes,” Nadia said looking directly back at Mavis, “and you know how much we love having you here.”

“Well, I’m beyond disappointed, Madame Demidova. It never occurred to me that I might not have my usual suite. You know how particular I am.”

Nadia remained poised. “Yes…of course, Mrs. Perkins. But let me assure you that you will be more than satisfied with this suite. As you can see, it’s exactly the same, only at the other end of the house.”

Mavis appraised the sitting room with its familiar cream-colored sofa, graceful deep-green potted palms and delicately carved Cherrywood armoire, then turned her gaze slowly back to Nadia.

“Well, if it’s the same damned thing, why couldn’t you just put whoever the hell is in my suite at the other end?”

Nadia studied the difficult woman who she knew was accustomed to always getting her own way. Telling Mavis the real reason without going in to any details might get her to settle in.

“May I speak to you in confidence?” she whispered, summoning up a bit of the actress she had developed during her brief career as a ballerina.

Nadia’s tone spoke volumes, and Mavis was intrigued. Usually interested only in herself, she became curious about who might be ensconced in the coveted suite. Warming to the notion of hearing something of special interest, she leaned forward. “Of course,” she said, pursing her lips in a half-smile.

Nadia leaned forward as well, her petite frame no match for that of the regally tall Mavis Perkins. She put her hand on Mavis’s arm, and looked up.

This time, Mavis did not move away. “The guest has just had some extensive work done,” she said, “and things don’t seem to be going as well as one might expect. I’m afraid she’s forced to stay a few days longer than any of us had anticipated.”

“I see,” Mavis responded, curiosity in full throttle. “Anyone I know?”

“I doubt that you have ever met this woman,” Nadia said, choosing her words carefully because, in all likelihood, Mavis knew who Eleanor was. “The poor dear…” she continued. It was imperative that Nadia diffuse Mavis’ curiosity. “It would be so kind to just let her recuperate in peace.”

Mavis arched one meticulously tweezed eyebrow, then relaxed into a measure of acceptance. This was a problem with which she could identify. She lived in dread of the scalpel, having seen more than a few botched jobs among her friends in Chicago’s best circles.

Nadia had taken a calculated risk, but it seemed to have worked.

“Very well then. Have someone fetch my bags. And please send a masseuse up ASAP. I’m simply exhausted from the trip–not to mention all this unpleasantness about the rooms.”

Nadia had only just checked the massage schedule and was quite sure that the “therapists” were all booked, but she could not possibly say no to Mavis Perkins at this point.

“Certainly, Mrs. Perkins.  Get yourself settled in, and someone will be up to take care of you in a little while. And Mrs. Perkins, will you be joining the others for dinner this evening, or will you be dining in your suite?

“Oh, I think I’ll come down to dinner. First night, you know.” During her frequent stays at Lavender Lane, Mavis often had meals sent to her rooms, but Nadia was sure that she was not about to miss the initial dinner, with its overview of the guests in residence.

“Then we’ll see you at seven, and thank you for being so understanding about the suite. A masseuse will be up in just a little while, and, of course, the service will be complimentary to show our gratitude for your kindness.” She smiled graciously, then quickly summoned one of the attractive young attendants to bring Mavis Perkins’s considerable luggage up to the Mariposa Suite as soon as possible.

“Whoever you have to switch around,” Nadia cautioned Phoebe a few minutes later, “please make sure that Mrs. Perkins gets one of the better therapists.”

Phoebe peered over the top of the tortoise shell glasses which were perennially perched just below the bridge of her nose, a conspiratorial smile spreading over her angular but handsome face. “Without question. We can be sure that if Mrs. Perkins’ massage is anything less than celestial, we’ll hear about it.”

They both had been subject to more Mavis Perkins incidents over the years than either of them cared to remember.

“Not to worry. I’ll take care of it straight away.”

“Good. And please do your best to get back here as soon as possible. From the looks of this group, re-arranging a couple of massages will be the least of our problems.”


About the Author

The former Vice President of Public Relations for Estee
Lauder, Phyllis Melhado has had her work published in Town & Country,
Cosmopolitan, and The Scarlet Leaf Review. She has also ghosted a best-selling
beauty book as well as a nationally syndicated beauty column. She earned her
Master’s degree in Communications from NYU and lives in New York City. The Spa at Lavender Lane is her first novel. To learn more about Phyllis and her work,
visit https://www.phyllismelhado.com.
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#Excerpt “The Lazarus Charter” by Tony Bassett

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(Teacher Bob Shaw is suspicious about the new life being led by his friend, Professor Gus Morley.  Although Morley and his bodyguard Ryan Benjamin warn him off, Bob is still curious and follows the two men for a mile and a half through the streets of Fitzrovia).

‘Breathless after running the last few metres, I reached the same turning beneath a stucco entrance arch. I found myself in a smart mews – a street where, decades ago, coachmen and grooms would have kept horses and carriages.

As I squinted at the street sign, saying: ‘Hamelin Mews,’ I was just in time to observe the pair entering a quaint two-storey Victorian house twenty metres ahead of me on the right.

Curiosity overcame my fears. I walked cautiously down the cobbled street until I reached the entrance. Bright mauve wisteria clambered beside the front door and curled above the ground floor windows. To the left of the black door was a shiny gold-coloured plaque proclaiming: ‘Hamelin Clinic.’

There were no further details about the nature of the enterprise conducted within. Perhaps Gus had had a hospital operation and was receiving follow-up treatment here, I thought. I went to the window and peered through one of the square panes. It looked like a small office with a reception desk.

Suddenly, Ryan’s menacing face appeared behind the glass, baring his teeth like a fighting dog.

It was time to leave. I raced back towards the arch, but within seconds felt a powerful hand gripping my shoulder.

I spun round, ready to fight back, but my assailant – Ryan – struck me hard on the jaw, a blow which sent me sprawling onto the ground.

I quickly recovered, leaped to my feet and swung a punch at Ryan, directly hitting the left side of his head, but he hardly flinched and responded by jabbing me forcibly in the stomach.

Winded by the man for the second time and doubled up in pain, I must have staggered about in front of him like a stumbling hunchback. Then he pummelled my body with a series of further blows until I collapsed on the ground and passed out.’



Bob Shaw is baffled to see a man in a brown coat at a bustling Underground station. Surely it can’t be his friend, the scientist Professor Morley? Morley perished weeks before in a blazing car. Is the man an impostor or did his friend fake his death?

This fascinating and ingenious thriller tells of Bob’s battle to find out the truth, helped by his wife Anne.  They are confronted by ruthless enemies and forced to flee their home in this fast-paced spy thriller from the author of Smile Of The Stowaway.

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About Tony BassettTony Bassett

Tony Bassett, who was born in West Kent, grew up wanting to be a writer from the age of nine when he edited a school magazine. After attending Hull University where he won a `Time-Life’ magazine student journalism award, he spent six years working as a journalist in Sidcup, Worcester and Cardiff before moving to Fleet Street. Tony spent 37 years working for the national press, mainly for the `Sunday People’ where he worked both for the newsdesk and the investigations department. He helped cover the Jeremy Thorpe trial for the `Evening Standard’, broke the news in the `Sun’ of Bill Wyman’s plans to marry Mandy Smith and found evidence for the `Sunday People’ of Rod Stewart’s secret love child. On one occasion, while working for `The People’, he took an escaped gangster back to prison.

His first book, Smile Of The Stowaway, is one of four crime novels Tony has written over the past three years.  He has five grown-up children and eleven grandchildren.  He lives in South East London with his partner, Lin.

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#PreOrderBlitz “Absolving Blue (On Call, #3)” by Freya Barker

Title: Absolving Blue ( On Call #4)
Author: Freya Barker
Genre: Contemporary
Release Date: March 12, 2020
Hosted by: Buoni Amici Press, LLC.

For long-time Durango Fire Department EMT, Ava ‘Blue’ Navarro, her teammates at Station 3 represent a family more loyal than her own.
However, when patients start dying on her watch, she draws the attention of local law enforcement. In particular the smooth-talking detective she’s successfully evaded for years, fearing he might stir up her quiet existence.
Detective Tony Ramirez considers himself a likable guy, which is why the perpetual cold shoulder from the athletic blonde first responder is confusing.
Now he finds himself in charge of a murder investigation that threatens to shake his world both personally and professionally. A situation that won’t earn him any brownie points.
When medical examiner, Calder Stonewall, is called in to assist, it only seems to throw more suspicion Blue’s way, and Tony has to pull out all the stops to prove her innocence while securing her heart.

Pre Order Your Copy Today!!!


“I really hate this,” she says when I lift my head.
“I must be losing my touch, then,” I joke, and she slaps my chest.
“Not that, you idiot. I hate being weak.”
“Now who’s being an idiot?” I lightly shake her. “If you sprained your ankle, would you think it weak to see a doctor? Do you think the people you tend to on a daily basis are weak?” When she reluctantly shakes her head, I push my point home. “So how’s this any different? We’re just talking about another part of you that needs some healing. Shit, if you think that makes you weak, you’re calling every cop in Durango a pussy. Wait ‘til I tell the guys.”
“You wouldn’t,” she snaps, her eyes spitting fire.
“If you keep spouting that nonsense, I might.”


Award-winning author Freya Barker loves writing about ordinary people with extraordinary stories.
Driven to make her books about ‘real’ people; she creates characters who are perhaps less than perfect, each struggling to find their own slice of happy, but just as deserving of romance, thrills and chills in their lives.
Recipient of the ReadFREE.ly 2019 Best Book We’ve Read All Year Award for “Covering Ollie, the 2015 RomCon “Reader’s Choice” Award for Best First Book, “Slim To None”, and Finalist for the 2017 Kindle Book Award with “From Dust”, Freya continues to add to her rapidly growing collection of published novels as she spins story after story with an endless supply of bruised and dented characters, vying for attention!


#Excerpt “Amber Hollow” by Edgar Swamp

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Amber Hollow coverHorror
(with elements of suspense, mystery, and fantasy)
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On July 15, 1991, an isolated village in Northern Wisconsin is ground zero for an unprecedented, fiery tragedy. Of the community’s 600 residents, there are only five survivors. Detailed accounts by the victims contradict each other; the only link is a man named Anthony Guntram, but because he is presumed to be dead, this claim can’t be verified. Further investigations reveal a culture enshrouded in mystery. What are the survivors hiding? Only the villagers know the secret of Amber Hollow, a place where sanity is checked at the town line and the parameters of reality become blurred. An unconventional horror story by design, Edgar Swamp delivers an action-driven page-turner that will keep readers guessing until the calamitous ending.

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“I’m not going back!” the woman screamed, her eyes rolling in terror. “You hear me? I’m never going back!”

“We understand,” Sadie said, approaching carefully from the opposite side of her partner, although her reply couldn’t have been farther from the truth. So far, she didn’t understand anything. However, she knew for certain that this woman’s passing wouldn’t do them a damn bit of good at getting to the truth. They needed to keep her still so she wouldn’t let go.

“We’re here to help you,” Jeremy said, “in fact, we were on our way to the hospital to visit you, to ask you some questions—”

“You have questions, you can ask Anthony Guntram! It’s his fault, all his fault!”

“I’m afraid we can’t do that, ma’am.” He gazed down, saw a police boat approaching from the mouth of the river. Good timing. “Please, let us help you. Take my hand.”

“I don’t want your help!” she screamed, and in her exertion one of her feet slipped and she almost fell, the only thing keeping her from plunging over the side was her grip on the cable, which apparently was pretty tight. “You can’t help me, no one can!”

“Let us try,” Jeremy begged.

“Never,” she croaked in a husky voice, and then she let go of the cable.


About the AuthorEdgar Swamp
Edgar Swamp is the author of The Gyre Mission, Glitch in the Machine, and Blackout. His short stories have appeared in Alienskin, Macabre Cadaver, and Urban Reinventors. When he isn’t holed up in his office playing online poker, he likes to dig up the recently deceased and make furniture out of their skin. He lives and works in San Diego, California.
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