#Spotlight M.L. Tarpley, author of “Maylie and the Maze”

Maylie Banner

I’m happy to welcome author M.L. Tarpley to Nesie’s Place today! She writes Tarpley 1stories of adventure, friendship, and fun that transport kids to amazing places across the world. She is also an award-winning journalist and world traveler. Besides writing and traveling to over a dozen countries, her other interests include hanging out at cool coffee shops, listening to vintage records, going on adventures with her family, and researching dead people in her family from long ago (*cough* it’s called genealogy). M.L. lives in Louisiana with her husband and son.

Maylie and the Maze is her debut novel. For more information about her, visit www.mltarpleybooks.com

M.L., in Maylie and the Maze you have a ten-year-old protagonist who dreams of being an author, and she has a twin brother who just wants to cause trouble. They’re traveling with family through Europe, so I know there will be an adventure. What was your inspiration for the story? Are you a twin?

Great question, but no, I am not a twin. When the character of Maylie came into my mind, she just came with a twin brother (lol). Maylie and Camden are loosely based off my oldest niece and nephew who both turned ten this year. They are only five months apart in age and therefore we tend to think of them as twins. I actually sent the illustrator photos of them to model the characters after them. They’re pretty proud of that fact and love that I used them as inspiration. I also dedicated this book to all my nieces and nephews. 😊

Maylie 3DThe inspiration for the actual story is to show kids that you can go after your dreams no matter what roadblocks stand in your way. Throughout this series, I want kids to have a chance to travel the world through fiction and along the way learn a bit. I’ve tapped into my own first-hand experiences from traveling to over a dozen countries and filtered them through Maylie’s eyes.

In this instance, the story is set in England, particularly at Leeds Castle in southern England. The castle is absolutely gorgeous! It’s known as the “loveliest castle in the world” for a reason. And it’s nearly 1,000 years old. Isn’t that amazing?!

According to the official Leeds Castle website, it has been a Norman stronghold, the private property of six of England’s medieval queens, a palace used by King Henry VIII, a Jacobean country house, a Georgian mansion, an elegant retreat for the rich and famous, and today, it is one of the most visited historic buildings in Britain.

There’s not just a castle but a hedge maze and over 500 acres of gardens, parkland, and wildlife. There are also a host of activities and attractions including falconry demonstrations, a dog collar museum, zipline and Segway tours, playgrounds, miniature golf, and more.

Do you have a favorite character in the story?

I have to say Maylie first of all because there is so much of me within her. Me from when I was ten. Me now. Subtle things. I even read my diaries from when I was her age to get into my head then and to remember what all I cared about and observed. It was so interesting and funny too! I’m so glad I wrote in diaries and kept them all these years.

What is your work schedule like when writing a book?

I work full-time as a newspaper reporter and photographer and I’m also a wife ML Closeupand mom, so I have a pretty busy schedule. I usually squeeze in my writing time on my lunch breaks, during naptimes and late at night. I am a night owl, so it works out well I think. I write most nights from about 8 to 11 p.m. When you want to write, you just got to make the time for it.

When did you write your first book?

I was age 12 when I wrote my first novel. I had written a lot of short stories before then. That novel was a great learning tool for me, and it showed me that I could, in fact, write a novel. I am not going to tell you it was a very good first attempt, but it was an attempt, which is the important part. If you don’t start writing, you can’t get better. I didn’t start working on another novel thought for ten years. I was busy writing essays and short stories for school and then papers and news articles in college. But when I was 22 I started dabbling in writing fiction again. I started taking writing classes and attending conferences and reading books on the craft of writing fiction.

Are you self-published, traditional, or hybrid?

I am self-published. I actually started my own publishing imprint this year to publish my books and later on books for other people. The publishing process has a large learning curve, but I really love the complete freedom I had to make my books the exact way I envisioned them to be.

What do you do when you’re not writing?

I love to travel the world with my family (or just around Louisiana where I live). Obviously in 2020, I haven’t been able to travel much, so I have done so through fiction and TV/movies. I also love genealogy research to learn more about where my ancestors came from. It’s so fascinating!

As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up? 

I wanted to be either an actress or a writer. I knew one day I wanted to be a published author and maybe a journalist. I can say I’ve done a bit of all three. I have done community theater. I am a journalist and now I am a published author. Hooray!

What’s your next project?

I’ve written the next book in the series and will start working with the illustrator soon on it. It will publish in Spring 2021. I am currently writing the third book, which will release Fall 2021. I am also working on a picture book series and have the idea for a chapter book series stirring in my mind.

I also recently published a non-fiction book called Young Writer’s Kit: A Guide for Young Writers that teaches kids how to write fiction and includes a fun genre matching game, writing prompts, and more. It’s a companion to MAYLIE AND THE MAZE and is currently available for purchase on Amazon.

Do you have any advice for new authors?

Make sure to read the genre you are writing to get a feel for how it’s done. Also don’t talk down to kids. Tap into that kid that’s still inside of you and how you would have reacted to what you’ve written. Invest the time to learn the craft of writing. Read craft books like Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass or Writing Irresistible Kidlit by Mary Kole. Do writing prompts. Practice. To do anything well we have to put in the time and effort. Writing is no different.

Thanks so much, M.L. and thanks for leaving us this short excerpt from Maylie and the Maze.

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“What’s with all the paper?”

Maylie sighed. “I’m trying to write a story to submit to my favorite magazine. But—” She swept her hand out. “—as you can see, it’s not going very well. I can’t finish a story. I try and try, and I just can’t. Something’s wrong with me.”

Her aunt smiled and put an arm around her shoulders. “May, there isn’t anything wrong with you. Don’t give up. You’ll get there. Photography wasn’t easy for me when I started either.”

Maylie couldn’t imagine it being hard for her.

Aunt Layla had an incredible job as a photographer for international travel magazines. She was always going on worldwide adventures.

And she was the reason Maylie, Camden, and their grandmother, Sue, who they called Grandma Suey, were going on a summer-long trip across Europe as her aunt covered photo assignments.

Maylie frowned. “No way. I’m sure you’ve always taken amazing photos.” She pointed to her

wall at a framed photo of African lions lying under a tree and another one of the shining Eiffel Tower. “You’re famous!”

And it was true.

Her aunt was famous. Her photos from across the world were published in dozens of magazines. She’d even been interviewed on television.

Her aunt rolled her eyes. “Not always. I had to do the work, prove myself as one of the best, and take a lot of bad pictures first.”

She sat back and studied Maylie. “You remind me of myself, May. You always have. There’s a curiosity within you and a determination to follow your dreams. Keep at it. When I was serious about taking the kind of photos that people wanted to publish I traveled to Europe for the first time, and it helped inspire me. It could do the same for you.”

Inspiration? That was what Maylie needed. And she had to prove herself and write not only a good story but the best one.

Maybe her aunt was right, and their trip would somehow help her. She smiled. “Thanks, Aunt Layla.”

“You’re welcome.” She bumped Maylie’s arm. “Maybe we’ll have a little fun along the way too.”

Maylie hid a grimace. Her aunt’s version of fun—mountain climbing, scuba diving, and chasing wild animals on a safari—didn’t match hers. She shuddered thinking of hanging upside down off cliffs, getting bitten by a shark, or mauled by a lion. No, thanks!

Her aunt must have seen the fear on her face.

“I’m not taking you to the jungle or under the ocean, Maylie. It’s only Europe. In fact—”

She stood and pointed to a spot on the huge world map stuck to the wall that she’d given Maylie last year on her ninth birthday. “—we’re starting here—London, England. One of my favorite cities in the world. It’s the first European city I ever visited. You’re sure to find inspiration there too.”

Maylie looked around her room at everything familiar and comfortable. She petted her cat. The thought of leaving her best friend, Sarah, and even her little sister, Jayna, fluttered her insides.

“But I’m not brave like you, and I’ve never been anywhere. What if everything goes wrong?”

Her mind raced to its place of twirling, swirling what-if scenarios that her best friend liked to call her “extreme zone.”

London might not be the danger her aunt usually faced, but what if there was a plane crash, or she got hit by a bus, or their train was robbed?

She imagined being tied to a railroad track by an evil grinning man with a curled moustache like she’d seen in a cartoon. How would she survive that?

Maylie felt a hand on her shoulder and looked up to see her aunt’s subtle smile. “It’s going to be all right.”

She helped Maylie up and with a grin said, “Finish up here, then let the adventure begin!”

You can also see M.L. read chapter one!


Maylie cover

Title: Maylie and the Maze

Blurb:

Will Maylie’s dream be crushed by her own imagination?

Ten-year-old Maylie Montes’s dream is to become an author, but she has a problem. She can’t finish a story. Not a single one.

Her second problem is Camden, her annoying twin brother, who is determined to ruin their summer traveling through Europe with their famous photographer aunt and spunky grandma.

The first stop is England where a castle and maze, a new British friend, and a lot of weird words await Maylie—but the first item on her itinerary is to learn how to write, so she can finally finish a story. However, this goal may land her a one-way ticket home after her writing targets her brother in a spooky story involving a nighttime maze full of monsters. And Camden has his own plans, leaving Maylie to wonder if her imagination has actually become a reality.

Genre: Middle Grade (Realistic Fiction)

Target Audience: Grades 3-7

Maylie and the Maze trailer


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#Featured “Saving Jason” by Kate Anslinger

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Jason Barnes is a free spirit. Underneath that fun-loving surface lurks a severe case of PTSD, his personal souvenir from the war on terror. After his young marriage breaks up, he bounces from girlfriend to girlfriend, never allowing himself to get too close, all while maintaining a friendship with his ex-wife, Samantha Colton.
Everything changes when he meets Abby Jacobsen, a smart and sassy artist – but with love comes jealousy, and Abby doesn’t stand for Jason’s cozy friendship with Samantha. Two hours after a heated argument causes Jason to storm out of their apartment, Abby receives a phone call from the intensive care unit of a New Hampshire hospital. The hospital walls close in on Abby and Samantha as they are forced to make tough decisions while trying hard not to kill each other. The two form a rare bond when Emma Jane, Jason’s mom, arrives on the scene.
Three weeks after Jason’s accident, Abby is left alone and hovering over a handful of positive pregnancy tests. During her pregnancy, Abby works with Samantha to dig up clues of Jason’s past. As the truth is discovered, their worlds are irreversibly changed. An emotionally-moving look at PTSD and the intersection of three lives, Saving Jason is a riveting glimpse into unexpected friendships and the ripples we leave without our knowledge.

KINDLE UNLIMITED

FREE at time of posting!

AMAZON US

AMAZON UK

AMAZON CA

AMAZON AU

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#Featured “Love In The Capitol” by B. Ivy Woods

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A little summer fun never hurt anyone, right?

Rae’s tired of blind dates, bad one-liners, and romance that doesn’t last. When she meets Flint, a handsome and charming Air Force pilot, she’s hesitant.

He’s everything she wants, but he’s also in the military, meaning he could deploy at any second.

However, Rae can’t deny her attraction and Flint isn’t holding back. The chemistry between them is explosive, making Rae put her reservations on the backburner. But soon circumstances turn dangerous when she starts receiving threatening messages about their budding relationship.

Will their love stand the test of time or will it crash before it can get off the ground?

A fun, short read that will leave you wanting more with a small cliffhanger! It’s a prequel to the In The Capitol series.

99c

AMAZON

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#BookSale “Flower Power Trip (Braxton Campus Mysteries)” by James J. Cudney

The 3rd book in the Braxton Campus Mysteries series is on sale for only .99 cents from 5/20 thru 5/24. You can download it to your Kindle here. This book was released on March 30th, 2019 and has been getting rave reviews from mystery fans all around the world. You can visit all the posts from the blog tour the book went on last year.

FPT download

Flower Power Trip (Braxton Campus Mysteries)
3rd in Series
Next Chapter Publishing (March 30, 2019)
Print Length: 270 pages
Digital ASIN: B07NDK76WF

FPT cover

Description of Book

At a masquerade ball to raise money for renovations to Memorial Library, Kellan finds a dead body dressed in a Dr. Evil costume. Did one of Maggie’s sisters kill the annoying guest who’d been staying at the Roarke and Daughters Inn, or does the victim have a closer connection to someone else at Braxton College? As Kellan helps school president Ursula bury a secret from her past and discover the identity of her stalker, he unexpectedly encounters a missing member of his family. Everything seems to trace back to the Stoddards: a new family who recently moved in. Between the murder, a special flower exhibit and strange postcards arriving each week, Kellan can’t decide which mystery in his life should take priority. But unfortunately, the biggest one of all has yet to be exposed – and when it is, Kellan won’t know what hit him.

Flower Power Trip Purchase Links

Kindle: http://mybook.to/FlowerPowerTrip

Paperback: http://mybook.to/flowerpowertripbraxtpb

Large Print: http://mybook.to/flowerpowertripbraxtlp

US Audiobook

UK Audiobook

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FPT tour

I appreciate watching his character evolution, and as always, his rowdy adventurous grandmother Nana D is a delight.
~Mallory Heart’s Cozies

 

The characters are all a bit quirky and eccentric, especially Nana D and her friends. They speak their mind and often had me laughing out loud.
~Carla Loves To Read

 

. . . a fast-paced, fun and enjoyable academic cozy mystery, one that is highly recommended!
~Jane Reads

 

I love this series! The characters, the setting, the plot lines, everything. This book was no exception. Between the twists and turns of the plot and the subplots becoming more and more mysterious, I was riveted to this book!
~Valerie’s Musings

Excerpt

A postcard with an image of lush sprawling foliage and a rust-covered antique carriage taunted me from the cushy passenger seat of my SUV. I almost veered off the road twice on the drive to campus because I couldn’t peel my eyes away from its persistent glare and blatant reminder of Mendoza. It had to be from Francesca. No one else knew about the remote South American vineyard we’d visited on our honeymoon many years earlier. I shook my clenched fist at the spooky vision of her vanishing in the rearview window. Was she following me everywhere now?

It was Francesca’s seventh message since leaving town and failing to inform anyone she wasn’t returning to Los Angeles. A torturous weekly mystery highlighting her whereabouts but leaving no way to contact her. At first, I thought she’d accepted my decision to remain in Pennsylvania and would wait until her parents, the heads of the Castigliano mob family, discovered a way to bring her back from the dead. Let me clarify—she wasn’t truly dead, but everyone thought she was. Upon getting caught in a vicious war with Las Vargas, a rival crime family, Francesca’s parents had faked her death as the only way to keep her safe. No one else besides Francesca’s parents and my sister knew Francesca was alive.

My wife just needed space to adjust to the changes. For two-and-a-half years, she’d been sequestered in a Los Angeles mansion watching from a distance as I raised our seven-year-old daughter on my own. Emma stayed with her nonni a couple of nights a week which made Francesca feel like her daughter was never too far away, but she couldn’t actually talk to Emma. Once I moved back home, Francesca lost her ability to see Emma and materialized from seclusion hoping to reconcile. Based on the postcards, she was visiting all the places we’d once traveled to together. Perhaps she needed to feel close to me since I’d refused to participate in whatever game her family was embroiled in with Las Vargas. Unfortunately, now that the Castiglianos blamed me for Francesca’s inexplicable disappearance, I anticipated their goons lurking around the corner and following me all the time. Dramatic stuff, huh?

I drove along Braxton’s main street cutting through the center of our charming, remote town and parked in the South Campus cable car station’s lot near Cambridge Lawn, a large open field filled with colorful flowerbeds, bright green blades of thick grass, and moss-covered stone walkways. It was Saturday, which meant graduation day at Braxton College—also my first one as a professor at the renowned institution. Although I’d only been back for a few months, it felt like I’d never left given my mother, Violet Ayrwick, was still its director of admissions and my father, Wesley Ayrwick, had just retired from its presidency. He would co-lead the ceremony with the new president to complete his responsibilities, thus allowing him to concentrate on converting the college into a university.

Although I’d been apprehensive in accepting my professorship, I grew excited about the opportunity to reconnect with family and friends whom I’d hardly seen since originally leaving town a decade ago. When my cell phone vibrated, I clicked a steering wheel button to display the text message on the SUV’s dashboard screen. The previous owner, a family friend who’d been murdered earlier that year, had added all the bells and whistles making it easy to remain hands-free. Was I the only one slightly unnerved by driving a dead woman’s car?

Nana DAre you still coming by after the graduation? I’ve got sticky buns and a broccoli and Gouda quiche for a late brunch… and I’m getting nervous about the race.

My grandmother, known as Seraphina Danby to everyone else, had finished the third and final debate in her surprise quest to become the next mayor of Wharton County, the larger geographical area encompassing Braxton and three other villages in north-central Pennsylvania. She was neck and neck with Councilman Marcus Stanton, her dreaded enemy for reasons she refused to share with anyone. I secretly suspected she was angry with him because of a bad date or his failure to flirt with her once Grandpop had left us for the great big afterlife in the sky.

Me: You’ll be the new mayor. I’m confident. Focus on the numbers. Emma doing okay?

Nana D: Yep. She’s in the stable talking to the horse groomer about finding her a puppy.

Me: Never committed to it! You told her she could have one if we moved into Danby Landing. Not me.

I’d been living with my parents in the Royal Chic-Shack, a huge modernized log cabin they’d built before I was born thirty-two years ago. When it became clear I needed my own space, Nana D thoughtfully suggested a move to her farm’s guesthouse to provide Emma and me some privacy. We’d agreed to give it a chance for the summer, but if it didn’t pan out, I’d look for our own place posthaste.

Nana D: Emma loves it here. She keeps me out of trouble. You and your mother should be grateful.

She was right. Without a chaperone or extensive supervision, Nana D often found herself skirting too close to disaster. I parked the car and told my seventy-four-year-old cross to bear—I mean that as lovingly as possible—to expect a two o’clock arrival. The graduation ceremony would last longer, but I was only making a brief presentation to declare this year’s cable car redesign winner.

Between North and South Campus ran a one-mile electrical track transporting students and faculty back and forth to dorms, academic halls, administrative offices, and other student buildings. The old-fashioned cable car was the only one of its kind in the area and often brought in visitors—and much-needed surplus income—from all over the country. Braxton’s graduating class voted each year to redesign the interior as its outgoing gift to the college. There was a surprise victor this year which would make my friend and colleague, Dean Fern Terry, quite relieved. At one point, she worried an apocalyptic dystopian world of aliens would litter the inside of the two-car transportation system she used daily. It was not happening under my watch. I checked the time, stole one last glance at the ominous postcard, and walked across Cambridge Lawn.

As I approached the last stone pathway, I heard my name being called in the distance. I turned to see Ed Mulligan talking with an unknown bald man in his mid-to-late forties. Dean Mulligan, the head of all academics at Braxton, wore an impeccably tailored three-piece suit—his normal highbrow approach to dressing—and scuttled toward me as if he were in a desperate rush to the finish line.

“Kellan, I’d like you to meet George Braun, a visiting professor who arrived in town a few weeks ago to teach a summer course,” Dean Mulligan said. When the sunlight landed on George’s face, it highlighted the rippled, leathery texture of his skin. Perhaps he suffered from the effects of a recent sunburn or battled a case of rosacea.

“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Kellan. Dean Mulligan tells me you recently joined Braxton and might lend a new guy some pointers about how to survive on this exquisite campus,” George replied with an unusual accent. Although I was adept at picking up common enunciations, his was a mixture of too many unbalanced inflections to be certain of its origin. There were hints of a gruff Midwest tone with drawn-out vowels, yet I sensed a cultured European style as he finished each of his words.

When Dean Mulligan nodded to confirm George’s statement, his jowls jiggled like Santa’s belly. “I can think of no one else more qualified,” he added with an exaggerated wink.

“Certainly, happy to play tour guide. I’m late at the moment, or I’d stay and chat. I have ceremonial duties for this morning’s graduation.” Upon shaking George’s hand, I noticed he wore a pair of thin leather gloves despite the warm temperatures making it unnecessary. Germaphobe?

I wanted to ask what area he’d be working on given my boss, the indomitable Dr. Myriam Castle, head of the communications department, had brought in a new professor for curriculum redesign and expansion. It was supposed to be a chunk of my role at the college, but she’d quickly made a play for additional money to hire someone other than me to prepare the future vision. Now that my father was no longer the president, but Myriam’s wife Ursula Power was in that role, things were changing.

“Perhaps we could have breakfast on Monday morning? I’m due on campus at ten o’clock to meet with Dr. Anita Singh about the courses,” George explained. A dark gray sportscoat covered broad shoulders and attempted to slim his stocky figure. Given he was noticeably several inches taller and wider than me, it didn’t appear to help.

“That sounds like a plan. Let’s meet at eight thirty at the Pick-Me-Up Diner?” I proposed, knowing it’d lend me an excuse to judge the eatery’s latest renovations.

Dean Mulligan haughtily teased,” Ah, George, you’ll soon come to learn the Ayrwick family has a long-standing establishment in and around Braxton. Eleanor, Kellan’s sister, owns the diner, a favored restaurant by most employed at or attending our fine institution.”

As Dean Mulligan provided directions to George, I caught a puzzled expression on the visiting professor’s face. He muttered something unintelligible before his gaze narrowed and highlighted two ultra-thin blond eyebrows. “Pardon?” I inquired.

“Ayrwick, you said?” he added, cocking his head to the left and focusing on the pastoral landscape behind me. He wouldn’t look me in the face without glancing away. Was he sensitive about his skin condition or his funny way of speaking? I hoped I hadn’t offended the man with my transitory stare and state of confusion.

“Yes, Dean Mulligan’s correct. My family’s been in Wharton County for close to three centuries. I look forward to speaking with you on Monday,” I replied, excusing myself and dashing toward the backstage area to locate Dean Fern Terry. Since she oversaw the graduation as head of student affairs, Fern could tell me when I was needed for the ceremony.

George Braun not only seemed familiar with the name Ayrwick, but I was certain that was concern or alarm etched on his face. After a quick catch-up with Fern, I found a spot on the east side of the stage as the ceremony began. I could stand there until it was time to declare the winner of the contest. Although I knew a few students in the graduating class, I hadn’t been at the institution long enough to serve as an announcer of graduate names nor to deliver any inspirational departing speeches.

Fern initiated the ceremony by reminiscing about the school’s history and highlighting the graduating class’s accomplishments. She introduced Ursula who took the stage to congratulate the outgoing students, then turned it over to my father for his last opportunity to say goodbye to the future alumni. As he spoke, Ursula navigated the stage’s steps like they were a catwalk and headed toward the back of the seating area.

Once my father finished boorishly riffing about something in Latin, Fern commandeered the stage and announced my name. I walked to the center and stood behind the lectern looking out at a mostly unfamiliar sea of people. With over two hundred graduates, the audience teetered around a thousand guests including their families and nearly all the college’s administrative and academic staff. I talked about the process to nominate and vote for different cable car designs, then explained how it was an awfully close race. Only two people had been told the final winner. Ursula and I agreed to surprise Fern with the results given how disappointed she’d be if the apocalypse had won. She’d tried to bribe me with a homemade coconut cream cake at Easter, but I stood firm. Where desserts were my weakness, keeping secrets was my strength.

“It gives me immense pleasure to reveal today’s winner,” I said, pointing and clicking the button on a tiny remote toward the digital screen. “I’ve been a huge fan of these two larger-than-life characters since I was a small boy, and I often find myself involved in solving a few mysteries of my own.” A series of conversations between Agatha Christie’s famed detectives, Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot, materialized on the large screen behind me. Various quotes and images from the books, movies, and PBS shows would appear inside the cable car to share different interpretations of the characters.

“It’s because you’re our inspiration for solving those two murder investigations,” Jordan Ballantine shouted followed by a bunch of cheers. “We wanted to honor your service to the campus!” Jordan was one of the graduates who’d be leaving Braxton to attend an MBA program in New Orleans.

In my three months at Braxton, I’d solved a couple of murders and been deemed a campus hero. I looked at Fern, Jordan’s aunt, and smiled with humility. We’d come a long way from her disciplining me when I’d been the president of my fraternity pleading forgiveness after various mischievous activities. Fern beamed back at me and lifted her hands in the air as if to say ‘holla’ like the bellowing students. Somehow the image of a sixtyish woman built like a quarterback in a gray pixie-style haircut performing such a move was frightening beyond any comfort.

As I thanked everyone for their votes, I noticed one of the graduates, Sam Taft, speaking with my brother, Gabriel. I’d caught the two of them in a cozy embrace last March shortly after someone had killed Gwendolyn Paddington to ensure an inheritance of the family fortune. I’d been shocked to see my brother after eight years but even more astonished to learn he might be gay. If you’d seen that kiss, there wouldn’t have been any question of might be, but until I spoke with him, I didn’t want to assume. Neither one had realized I’d seen them that day, and for the last seven weeks, I’d kept the information to myself. I didn’t know whether to ask Sam about it or hire a private investigator to track Gabriel.

Once I finished my speech, I sprinted down the steps to interrogate or to hug my brother—still hadn’t decided which one. I tried to reach him, but Gabriel winked and escaped in the opposite direction. Before I could rush off to beg Sam for help, Ursula stepped in the way. “Kellan, I’m glad we ran into one another. I was curious if you found out anything new?” she said with a gleam of hope.

By now, Sam had lined up on stage to receive his diploma, and Gabriel was long gone. I breathed a gulp of warm air and felt my body begin to wane. For the third week of May, the heat had come from nowhere and grown inordinately stagnant. All the comforting breezes were blocked by tall fir trees surrounding one side of Cambridge Lawn and the massive church holding firm on its southern border. I liked the hot weather, but this was intense.

Ursula had recently pleaded for help with a problem involving the past finally catching up to her. I’d learned a lot about my new boss during our conversations, some of which explained the reason she was taciturn about her history and some of which shocked me to the core. Not even Myriam knew about her wife’s tragedy or the years she’d been running and hiding from the truth about her real identity. While I felt the palpitating fear emanate off Ursula’s normally serene exterior, I tried not to judge her for the damage her prior actions had caused.

 

About The Author

Background

James is my given name, but most folks call me Jay. I live in New York City, grew up on Long Island, and graduated from Moravian College, an historic but small liberal arts school in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, with a degree in English literature and minors in Education, Business and Spanish. After college, I accepted a technical writing position for a telecommunications company during Y2K and spent the last ~20 years building a career in technology & business operations in the retail, sports, media and entertainment industries. Throughout those years, I wrote some short stories, poems and various beginnings to the “Great American Novel,” but I was so focused on my career in technology and business that writing became a hobby. In 2016, I refocused some of my energies toward reinvigorating a second career in reading, writing and publishing.

Author

Writing has been a part of my life as much as my heart, my mind and my body. At some points, it was just a few poems or short stories; at others, it was full length novels and stories. My current focus is family drama fiction, cozy mystery novels and suspense thrillers. I think of characters and plots that I feel must be unwound. I think of situations people find themselves in and feel compelled to tell the story. It’s usually a convoluted plot with many surprise twists and turns. I feel it necessary to take that ride all over the course. My character is easily pictured in my head. I know what he is going to encounter or what she will feel. But I need to use the right words to make it clear.

Reader & Reviewer

Reading has also never left my side. Whether it was children’s books, young adult novels, college textbooks, biographies or my ultimate love, fiction, it’s ever present in my day. I read 2 books per week and I’m on a quest to update every book I’ve ever read on Goodreads, write up a review and post it on all my sites and platforms.

Blogger & Thinker

I have combined my passions into a single platform where I share reviews, write a blog and publish tons of content: TRUTH. I started my 365 Daily Challenge, where I post about a word that has some meaning to me and converse with everyone about life. There is humor, tears, love, friendship, advice and bloopers. Lots of bloopers where I poke fun at myself all the time. Even my dogs have had weekly segments called “Ryder’s Rants” or “Baxter’s Barks” where they complain about me. All these things make up who I am; none of them are very fancy or magnanimous, but they are real. And that’s why they are me.

Genealogist & Researcher

I love history and research, finding myself often reaching back into the past to understand why someone made the choice he or she did and what were the subsequent consequences. I enjoy studying the activities and culture from hundreds of years ago to trace the roots and find the puzzle of my own history. I wish I could watch my ancestors from a secret place to learn how they interacted with others; and maybe I’ll comprehend why I do things the way I do.

Websites & Blog

Website: https://jamesjcudney.com/

Blog: https://thisismytruthnow.com

Amazon: http://bit.ly/JJCIVBooks

Next Chapter Pub: https://www.nextchapter.pub/authors/james-j-cudney

BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/james-j-cudney

 Social Media

Twitter: https://twitter.com/jamescudney4

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JamesJCudneyIVAuthor/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BraxtonCampusMysteries/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ThisIsMyTruthNow/

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/jamescudney4/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jamescudney4/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/jamescudney4

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jamescudney4

Genres, Formats & Languages

I write in the family drama and mystery genres. My first two books are Watching Glass Shatter (2017) and Father Figure (2018). Both are contemporary fiction and focus on the dynamics between parents and children and between siblings. I’m currently writing the sequel to Watching Glass Shatter. I also have a light mystery series called the Braxton Campus Mysteries with six books available.

All my books come in multiple formats (Kindle, physical print, large print paperback, and audiobook) and some are also translated into foreign languages such as Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, and German.

Goodreads Book Links

Watching Glass Shatter (October 2017)

Father Figure (April 2018)

Braxton Campus Mysteries

 

#BlogTour “Intimate Strangers (The Lisa Millar Series Book 1)” by Lasairiona McMaster

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Is there such a thing as too perfect?

Lisa Millar wasn’t supposed to fall in love with a guy on the Internet. But she did.

Other than living over five thousand miles away in America, AJ Williams is seemingly her perfect match. Strikingly handsome, musically talented, plays hockey and has a typical college-guy life.

In a moment of carpe diem, Lisa flies from Ireland to Alabama to surprise her internet-beau and finds herself face to face with an inconceivable reality that she couldn’t possibly have prepared for.

How well can you truly know someone you meet online?

Will true love win out, or will AJ’s secret life be too much for Lisa to bear?

Purchase Links

KINDLE UNLIMITED

Amazon US paperback

Amazon US Kindle

Amazon UK Kindle

Amazon UK paperback

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McMasterAuthor Bio

Lasairiona McMaster grew up dreaming of an exciting life abroad, and, after graduating from Queens University, Belfast, that is exactly what she did – with her then-boyfriend, now husband of almost ten years. Having recently repatriated to Northern Ireland after a decade abroad spanned over two countries (seven and a half years in America and eighteen months in India), she now finds herself ‘home’, with itchy feet and dreams of her next expatriation. With a penchant for both travelling, and writing, she started a blog during her first relocation to Houston, Texas and, since repatriating to Northern Ireland, has decided to do as everyone has been telling her to do for years, and finally pen a book (or two) and get published while she tries to adjust to the people and place she left ten years ago, where nothing looks the same as it did when she left.

Social Media Links

Facebook

Blog

Twitter

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Meet Deborah King, author of “Bedazzled Dreamer”

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Please welcome author Deborah King to Nesie’s Place! Thank you for spending a little time Deborah Kingwith us here on the blog today!

You’re welcome, it’s my pleasure.

Where are you from?

I’ve lived in St. Louis, MO, a mid-western state in the US, for most of my life. I’ve also had the wonderful opportunity to live in a rural area of the state for a few years.

Married with children, pets, or annoying roommates?

I’m married to an extremely supportive husband. I’ve been blessed with considerate adult children, a son and a daughter. I’m also a stepmom to two, teenage young men.

Are you self-published, traditional, or hybrid?

I chose the Indie author route after watching many webinars and learning about how the traditional book publishing avenues have changed over the last few years. It’s been a long drawn out process, and I continue to struggle with the marketing aspects.

How long have you been a writer?

I’ve been a writer for a little over three years, though I’ve spend most of my time learning the ins and outs of the industry, marketing, etc.

How long did it take you to write your first book?

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Daring Dreamer, book one in the Inspiration in Cologne series took me one year to write, not including my editor’s reviews and suggestions. I’ve managed to tone my writing skills and have written books two and three in six months.

Pantser or Plotter?

I do plot my stories, though my characters take over and I become a pantser!

What’s your favorite genre to write or do you only write in one genre?

I only write in one genre: romantic women’s fiction. I will continue to write in this particular genre, though will add a bit of suspense or mystery in my next series.

What’s your favorite genre to read?

I enjoy reading many different genres. If I had to pick my favorite genre, I would choose romantic women’s fiction.

What are you reading now?

I’m reading Winter Cottage by Mary Ellen Taylor. I’m enjoying her story immensely.

Where do you get the most writing done?

I write in the late afternoons until eleven or twelve o’clock in my favorite comfy chair with one or both of my cats sitting on my lap, legs, or wherever they can find a spot.

Do you have pets who “help” or inspire you?

I’m so happy you asked! I adopted two rescue kittens some years ago: tabbies, brother and sister. They are adorable! I’m honestly afraid to keep track of their age at this point in time. I wrote them into Daring Dreamer.

Totally addicted to social media or could you live without it?

I wouldn’t say I’m addicted to social media, though I love interacting with my Advanced Reader Group on Facebook. Twitter and Pinterest are fun if I’m looking for a break, though I run out of time to become overly involved.

What’s your next project or release?

I have just finished writing the first draft of book three in the Inspiration in Cologne series and am now reviewing and editing my manuscript. I will write a fourth book in the series to tie up loose ends.

I then plan on beginning my second series, which will be set in a picturesque valley of a majestic mountainous region. My favorite travel destinations are in the mountains and I enjoy hiking, which will enable me to write about another passion of mine.

Do you have any advice for new authors?

Have patience with yourself and the marketing aspects, if you go the self-publishing route. Don’t doubt your writing. But most importantly, if you think your story has been written, it hasn’t. Only you can write your story because we’re all unique and possess our own perspectives. So, of course, I would encourage someone to follow their dream of writing and advise them to continue. The process evolves with each book you write.

Thank you!

I would like to personally thank you for participating in Bedazzled Dreamer’s Rachel’s Random Resource’s tour.

You’re welcome, Deborah!

Keep scrolling to find out Deborah’s latest release, Bedazzled Dreamer, and U.S. residents have a chance to win a paperback copy of Bedazzled Dreamer simply by entering Deborah’s Rafflecopter.

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Bedazzled Dreamer cover

Bedazzled Dreamer

She’s about to launch her dream business. The last thing she needs is a distracting housemate and his son…

Shelby is excited to open a shop with her best friend. But with Janna just-married and moved out, she worries their hopes of starting a boutique will never come true. And things get more complicated when her old distrust of men is put to the test by her handsome new roommate and his little boy…

With Oktoberfest decorations forgotten and replaced by Christmas cheer, she slowly allows Shane and the child a space in her heart. But she doesn’t trust her second chance at romance or the success of her boutique when surprising news threatens her newly minted courage.

Can Shelby find the strength to let her ambitions flourish, along with her new passion?

Bedazzled Dreamer is the second touching book in the Inspiration In Cologne women’s fiction series. If you like heartwarming stories, cozy small towns, and festive holiday experiences, then you’ll love Deborah King’s romantic women’s fiction tale.

Purchase Links

KINDLE UNLIMITED

Amazon UK     Amazon US

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Deborah KingAuthor Bio

Deborah King is a spirited woman who was inspired to pursue her dreams due to her mother’s death from early onset Alzheimer’s disease. She has the unique ability to read people and tackle life’s hardships.

Deborah is a distinctive new voice in women’s fiction. After raising two children, working with a not-for-profit wildlife rescue organization, and reading too many books to count, she retired from her personal training and weight management business to follow her dream of writing.

Deborah is extremely grateful for having the opportunity to work with many different people sharing and teaching what inspires her, which you will catch glimpses of in her books.

She lives in Missouri with her supportive husband, two cats, who believe they’re dogs, her mini fitness store, and her eclectic collection of books.

For all the latest information, excerpts from her upcoming books, general fun, or to chat, join her at Facebook – Deborah King The Inside Scoop: Launch Team .

She loves to hear from her fans. To follow her social media links, reviews of women’s fiction books, blog, and to sign up for monthly updates, visit her at deborahkingbooks.com.

Social Media Links

Facebook     Facebook Launch Team     Twitter     Pinterest     Goodreads

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G I V E A W A Y

Win a Paperback copy of Bedazzled Dreamer by Deborah King (Open to US Only)

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E N T E R

*Terms and Conditions –USA entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days, then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will be passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfillment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for dispatch or delivery of the prize.

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#Review “One Summer in Paris” by Sarah Morgan

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4/5 Stars!

Generational differences have little meaning when all you need is a good friend.

Forty-seven-year-old Grace is a meticulous planner. Her chaotic childhood with an uninvolved mother and enabling father drives her need to plan and control not only her life but those closest to her.

What Grace doesn’t see coming is husband David asking for a divorce during their twenty-fifth wedding anniversary dinner… after she announces her gift of a month’s vacation in Paris.

Eighteen-year-old Audrey is coming to the end of a chaotic childhood with an alcoholic mother and dreams of being on her own in Paris.

She’ll no longer have to hide her mother’s problem from the world, make excuses for her absence, or take care of her during drunken binges.

These two women meet in Paris when Audrey becomes Grace’s shero, and a bond forms that centers on the used bookstore where the non-French-speaking Audrey has taken a job for the summer, which is the same bookstore of Grace’s grandmother’s youth.

The friendship begins with both women trying hard not to act their age.

Still reeling from the abrupt end of her marriage, Grace has little or no direction and though Audrey reminds her of her own daughter, she’s determined not to mother her.

Audrey never received attention, love or concern from her mother and rebels to keep from getting close to Grace.

They both fail—LOL!—and the support and empowerment they receive from each other forever changes their lives.

Audrey’s had to be the “adult” in her family most of her life and watching her come to terms with someone caring about her and looking out for her best interest was emotional.

Grace’s transformation was more of an awakening.

Once worried what her small Connecticut town would think of her after her husband left her for a woman half her age, Grace finally realizes it doesn’t matter. He was the cheater, not her.

I cheered for her when he offered to take the Paris vacation she’d planned for them off her hands so he could take his new woman. Seriously? Who does that? Though her heart wasn’t in it, I was glad Grace went to Paris alone.

Bolstered by Audrey, Grace makes changes instead of plans and gets her self-confidence back.

One of my favorite parts:

“Here in Paris, she was New Grace. She liked being New Grace. New Grace didn’t feel intimidated about walking around Paris alone. New Grace was happy not to plan every second of her day. New Grace occasionally left shoes on the floor where she kicked them off, and tonight New Grace was on a date with a man.

New Grace had punched Old Grace on the jaw and knocked her unconscious.”

This is one of the defining moments where Grace knows she will be okay.

With supporting characters Mimi, Tony, Etienne, Elodie, and even Phillipe, it’s shaping up to be a memorable summer for Audrey and Grace, but a plot twist and personal emergencies will force them to make decisions… and show the true depth of their friendship.

Besides allowing Grace to see her grandmother’s true self, Mimi’s story wrapped up decades-old loose ends and opened new doors. Nice plot twist.

I loved everything about this well-written journey, except for the ending.

I’m sure I’m in the minority on this, and with a nod to forgiveness and making amends, the ending felt like a disservice to Grace and invalidated the progress she’d made in self-growth in only a month. Her obsession with order and planning is what helped hold her together after a dysfunctional childhood and to have it used against her by David simply because he was too much of a wimp to own his issues felt cruel. It also felt somewhat reboundish from Phillipe [because of his personal outlook on life], and leaving her only one direction to go, instead of bracing for the world at her feet. I had no fault with Phillipe but there aren’t enough dump trunks to hold the contempt I have for David.

That being said, I still enjoyed Audrey and Grace’s story and am sure other readers will too,  and I do sincerely recommend it.

Enjoy!

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One Summer in Paris coverTo celebrate their twenty-fifth wedding anniversary, Grace has planned the surprise of a lifetime for her husband—a romantic getaway to Paris. But she never expected he’d have a surprise of his own: he wants a divorce. Reeling from the shock but refusing to be broken, a devastated Grace makes the bold decision to go to Paris alone.

Audrey, a young woman from London, has left behind a heartache of her own when she arrives in Paris. A job in a bookshop is her ticket to freedom, but with no money and no knowledge of the French language, suddenly a summer spent wandering the cobbled streets alone seems much more likely…until she meets Grace, and everything changes.

Grace can’t believe how daring Audrey is. Audrey can’t believe how cautious newly single Grace is. Living in neighboring apartments above the bookshop, this unlikely pair offer each other just what they’ve both been missing. They came to Paris to find themselves, but finding this unbreakable friendship might be the best thing that’s ever happened to them…

Releases today!

Amazon

Goodreads