#BookBlitz “Lily Fairchild” by Don Gutteridge

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Historical Fiction

Lily Fairchild follows the life of a pioneer woman on the Canadian frontier over 77 years of her long life. She is witness to and a pawn of the great historical events of that period: the Underground Railroad, the clearing of the forest, the coming of the railroads, the discovery of oil, the two Riel Rebellions in the West and the flu pandemic of 1918. A story of love and survival.


KIRKUS REVIEW

Long-haul, multigenerational historical fiction such as this is often a victim of skewed perspective, as authors, deeply ensconced in often years of research, often overestimate how much detail their readers will want to endure. Gutteridge’s narrative is prodigiously researched (and includes a bibliography), but he never overloads his audience; instead, he seamlessly works the historical grounding into what is, first and foremost, an intensely personal story. The book’s large and varied cast is uniformly well drawn, but Lily towers over the rest; from her earliest scenes, she’s by far the most compelling figure in the narrative. Gutteridge believably and effectively captures her youthful exuberance, as well as her resilience, even in the face of a heartbreaking tragedy in the book’s final pages. He combines his character study with beautifully evocative prose; at one point, for instance, after sunset, “Lily was sure she could hear the River tuning up for its nightsong”; at another, a character’s skin is described as having “the pallor and touch of gray-white mushrooms too long in the rain.” Overall, the author does an excellent job of giving his narrative the feel of a life as it is lived. Readers of such books as Larry McMurtry’s Lonesome Dove (1985) or Anna Waldo’s Sacajawea (1978) will see a similar kind of storytelling here; it’s a difficult feat to manage, but Gutteridge does so. A long but intensely involving tale of a tempestuous life.


About the Author

Don Gutteridge is the author of 71 books, including 22 novels and 39 books of poetry. He is a graduate of Western University, where he is currently Professor Emeritus. He lives in London, Ontario.

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RABT Book Tours & PR

#GuestPost Heather Redmond, author of “A Christmas Carol Murder”

A Christmas Carol Murder by Heather Redmond Banner

on Tour November 1 – December 31, 2020

~ London Landmarks ~

by

Heather Redmond

I like to paint London images to spiff up my marketing pieces for my A Dickens of a Crime historical mystery series, since I am a keen watercolorist. In August, thinking about the coming release of A Christmas Carol Murder, I thought a nice Tower Bridge painting would be a good idea.

When I started looking for images, I was confused very quickly. Did you know that the iconic towers of the bridge were not built until the late 1800s? The current bridge was built between 1886 and 1894, long after author Charles Dickens, the hero of my series, died. I’d had it in my head that the castle elements must be a very old feature, being an American. I had assumed the average modern bridge was all sleek design, not, well, towers.

Not only that, if you start looking for Tower Bridge images, they can be deceptive, because some of what is out there is concepts, rather than the bridge as it ever existed. Fifty designs were submitted before the current version by Sir Horace Jones was chosen in 1884, and those concepts still exist and are displayed and discussed. Therefore, the hopeful painter has to be careful to look for actual paintings of the period they desire, which for me is the mid 1830s. In reality, no bridge existed between what was then known as Iron Gate and Horselydown Lane, and any bridge paintings or engravings from the 1830s are of other bridges. Uh oh!

If I can’t find a scene I want, I have to reorient it in my mind until it matches my idea. Further confusion can ensue. While painting for me is a hobby, and I’m looking to create a mood, rather than total accuracy, I still want some sense of history.

Meanwhile, I have a lovely background painting with the wrong bridge penciled out over top, since even I, with all these years of 19th century research behind me, had the wrong idea about Tower Bridge.

What London landmarks do you think of as Victorian that aren’t in the landscape as that period began? The Houses of Parliament? Big Ben? Trafalgar Square? All later than the start of Queen Victoria’s reign in 1837. Yes, that means the images on my book covers are wrong. At least they give a general sense of nineteenth century London!

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Synopsis:

A Christmas Carol Murder by Heather Redmond

The latest novel from Heather Redmond’s acclaimed mystery series finds young Charles Dickens suspecting a miser of pushing his partner out a window, but his fiancée Kate Hogarth takes a more charitable view of the old man’s innocence . . .

London, December 1835: Charles and Kate are out with friends and family for a chilly night of caroling and good cheer. But their blood truly runs cold when their singing is interrupted by a body plummeting from an upper window of a house. They soon learn the dead man at their feet, his neck strangely wrapped in chains, is Jacob Harley, the business partner of the resident of the house, an unpleasant codger who owns a counting house, one Emmanuel Screws.

Ever the journalist, Charles dedicates himself to discovering who’s behind the diabolical defenestration. But before he can investigate further, Harley’s corpse is stolen. Following that, Charles is visited in his quarters by what appears to be Harley’s ghost—or is it merely Charles’s overwrought imagination? He continues to suspect Emmanuel, the same penurious penny pincher who denied his father a loan years ago, but Kate insists the old man is too weak to heave a body out a window. Their mutual affection and admiration can accommodate a difference of opinion, but matters are complicated by the unexpected arrival of an infant orphan. Charles must find the child a home while solving a murder, to ensure that the next one in chains is the guilty party . . .

Book Details:

Genre: Historical Mystery
Published by: Kensington Publishing
Publication Date: September 29th 2020
Number of Pages: 320
ISBN: 1496717171 (ISBN13: 9781496717177)
Series: A Dickens of a Crime #3 || A Stand Alone Mystery
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

Chapter One

Hatfield, Hertfordshire, England, December 1, 1835

They hadn’t found the body yet. Old Sal was surely dead. Feathers had caught on candles, igniting the blaze. Maybe a yipping dog had some part in the fiery disaster. The marchioness’s advanced age had surely contributed to the fatal misadventure. The marquess, her son, had nearly killed himself in a futile attempt to rescue her.

Charles Dickens’s cough forced him to set down his pen. Ink dribbled from it, obscuring his last few words. He found it hard to stay seated, so he pushed his hands through his unruly dark hair, as if pressing on his sooty scalp would keep him on the pub bench. Only three hours of sleep before being dragged from his bed to make the twenty-three-mile journey from his rooms at Furnival’s Inn in London that morning. Nervous energy alone kept his pen moving.

He rubbed his eyes, gritty with grime and fumes from the fire, both the massive one that had destroyed the still-smoking ruins of Hatfield House’s west wing, and the much smaller one here in the taproom at Eight Bells Pub. Some light came in from out of doors, courtesy of a quarter-full moon, but the windows were small.

He called for a candle and kept working.

Putting the messy slip of paper aside, he dipped his pen in his inkwell. Starting again, he recalled the devastation of the scene, the remains of once noble apartments now reduced to rubble and ash. He filled one slip after another, describing the scene, the architecture, the theories.

When he ran out of words, he let his memories of massive oaken Tudor beams, half-burned; heaps of bricks; lumps of metal; buckets of water; black-faced people; and unending, catch-in- your-throat soot—all that remained of forty-five rooms of storied, aristocratic things—fade away.

The ringing of St. Ethelreda’s venerable church bells returned him to the moment. Had it gone eight p.m. already? Hooves and the wheels of a cart sounded in the narrow street outside. A couple of men passed by, discussing the fire. The door of the pub opened and closed,allowing the flash from a lantern to illuminate the dark room.

Charles noted the attempts to make the room festive. Greenery had been tacked to the blackened beams and draped around the mantelpiece. He thought he saw mistletoe mischievously strung up in that recess to the left of the great fireplace.

Next to it, a man slumped in a chair. He wore a tired, stained old surtout and plaid trousers with a mended tear in the knee. Next to him waited an empty stool, ready for an adoring wife or small child to sit there.

Charles stacked his completed slips of paper on the weathered table and took a fresh one from his pile, the pathos of that empty seat tugging at him. He began to write something new, imagining that last year at this time, a sweet little girl sat on the stool, looking up at the old, beaten man. How different his demeanor would have been then!

Charles drew a line between his musings and the lower blank part of the page. His pen flew again, as he made the note. Add a bit of melancholy to my Christmas festivities sketch.

Unbidden, the serving maid delivered another glass of hot rum and water. The maid, maybe fourteen, with wide, apple- colored cheeks and a weak chin, gave him a sideways glance full of suspicion.

He grinned at her and pointed to his face. “Soot from the fire. I’m sending a report back to London.” His hand brushed against his shoulder, puffing soot from his black tailcoat into his eyes.

She pressed her lips together and marched away, her little body taut with indignation. Well, she didn’t understand he had to send his report by the next mail coach. Not much time for sentiment or bathing just yet.

By the time he finished his notes, the drinks hadn’t done their job of settling his cough. He knew it would worsen if he lay down so he opened his writing desk to pull out a piece of notepaper.

Dearest Fanny, he wrote to his sister. Where to begin? I wrote to my betrothed this morning so I thought I should send my news to someone else. Was ever a man so busy? I am editing my upcoming book. Did I tell you it will be called Sketches by Boz? I have to turn in the revisions for volumes one and two by the end of the year, in advance of the first volume releasing February eighth. I am also working on an operetta, thanks to that conversation with your friend John Hullah, in my head, at least. I hope to actually commence writing it as soon as my revisions are done.

I remember all the happy Christmas memories of our earliest childhood, the games and songs and ghost stories when we lived in Portsmouth, and hope to re-create them in my own sweet home next year. How merry it will be to share Christmas with the Hogarths! To think that you, Leticia, and I will all be settled soon with our life’s companions. Soon we will know the sounds of happy children at our hearths and celebrate all the joys that the season should contain in our private chambers.

He set down his pen without signing the letter. It might be that he would have more to add before returning to London. He had no idea how long it would be before they recovered the Marchioness of Salisbury’s body, if indeed, anything was left. Restacking his papers, he considered the question of her jewels. Had they burned? At least the priceless volumes in the library all had survived, despite the walls being damaged.

His brain kept churning, so he pulled out his copy of Sketches by Boz. He would edit for a while before retiring to his room at the Salisbury Arms. No time for sleep when work had to be done.

Pounding on the chamber door woke him. Daylight scarcely streamed around the tattered edges of the inn’s curtain. Charles coughed. He still tasted acrid soot at the back of his throat. Indeed, it coated his tongue.

The pounding came again as he scratched his unshaven chin. Had the Morning Chronicle sent someone after him? He’d put his first dispatch from the fire on the mail coach. Pulling his frock coat over his stained shirt, he hopped across the floor while he tugged on his dirty trousers. Soot puffed into the air with each bounce.

“Coming, coming,” he called.

The hinges squeaked horribly when he opened the door. On the other side stood a white-capped maid. She wore a dark cloak over her dress. A bundle nestled between her joined arms. Had she been kicking the door?

“Can I help you?” Charles asked, politely enough for the hour. To his right, his boots were gone. He had left them to be polished.

The girl lifted her bundle. The lump of clothes moved.

He frowned, then leaned over the lump. A plump face topped by a thatch of black hair stared back. A baby. Was she hoping for alms? “What’s your name, girl?”

“Madge, sir. Madge Porter.”

“Well, Madge Porter, I can spare you a few coins for the babe if you’ll wait for a moment. Having hard times?”

She stared hard at him. He realized the cloaked figure was the tiny serving maid from the Eight Bells. “He’s my sister’s child.”

“I see. Is she at work?” He laugh-choked. “She’s not in here with me, if that’s what you’re thinking.”

Her mouth hung open for a moment. “No, sir, I don’t think that.”

“What, then?” He glanced around for his overcoat, which had a few coins in a pocket. “What is the babe’s name?”

“Timothy, sir.” She tightened her weak chin until her pale skin folded in on itself. “Timothy Dickens?” she warbled.

“Dickens?” He took another glance at the babe. Cherry red, pursed lips, and a squashed button of a nose. He didn’t see any resemblance to his relatives. His voice sharpened. “Goodness, Madge, what a coincidence.”

Her voice strengthened. “I don’t think so, sir.”

He frowned. The serving maid did not seem to understand his sarcasm. “I’ve never been to Hatfield before. My family is from Portsmouth. I don’t know if your Timothy Dickens is a distant relative of mine or not. Who is his father?”

“She died in the fire.”

He tilted his head at the non sequitur. “Who?”

“My sister. She died in the fire. She was in service to old Sarey.” Charles coughed, holding the doorjamb to keep himself upright. This was fresh news. “How tragic. I didn’t hear that a maid died.”

“They haven’t found the bodies.”

“That I know. I’m reporting on the fire, but then, I told you that. Thank you for the information. I’ll pay you for it if you wait a moment for me to find my purse.”

She thrust the bundle toward him. “Timothy is yer son, sir. You need to take him.”

Charles took a step back, waving his hands. “No he isn’t.”

“He’s four months old. It would have been last year, around All Hallow’s Eve. Do you remember the bonfire? She’s prettier than me, my Lizzie. Her hair is lighter, not like yers or mine.”

“Truly, I’ve never been in Hatfield before now,” he said gently. “I work mostly in London.”

She huffed out a little sob. He sensed she was coming to a crescendo, rather like a dramatic piece of music that seemed pastoral at first, then exploded. “I know yer his daddy, sir. I can’t take him. My parents are dead.”

He coughed again. Blasted soot. “I’m sorry. It’s a terrible tragedy. You’re young to be all alone with a baby.”

Her entire being seemed to shudder, then, like the strike of a cobra, she shoved the wriggling bundle into his arms and dashed down the passage.

His arms fluttered like jelly for a moment, as if his bones had fled with the horror of the orphaned child’s appearance, until the baby opened its tiny maw and Charles found his strength.

Then he realized the blankets were damp. Little fatherless, motherless Timothy whoever-he-was had soiled himself. The baby wailed indignantly but his aunt did not return.

Charles completed his reporting duties with one hand while cradling the infant, now dressed in Charles’s cleanest handkerchief and spare shirt, in the other arm. Infant swaddling dried in front of the fire. When Charles had had his body and soul together well enough to chase after little Madge Porter, the proprietor of the Eight Bells had told him she wasn’t due there until the evening.

He’d begged the man for names of any Porter relatives, but the proprietor had been unhelpful. Charles had tripped over to St. Ethelreda’s, still smelling smoke through a nose dripping from the cold. The canon had been of no use and in fact smelled of Hollands, rather than incense. He went to a barbershop, holding the baby while he was shaved, but the attendant refused to offer information.

When the babe began to cry again, he took him to a stable yard and inquired if they had a cow. A stoic stableman took pity on him and sent him to his quiet wife, a new mother herself. She agreed to nurse the child while Charles went to Hatfield House to see if the marchioness had been found yet.

He attempted to gain access to the marquess, still directing the recovery efforts. While waiting, he offered the opinion that they should pull down the remaining walls, which looked likely to kill the intended rescuers more assuredly than anything else in the vast acreage of destruction. Everyone coughed, exhausted, working by rote rather than by intelligence.

After a while, he gave up on the marquess. He interviewed those working in the ruins to get an update for the Chronicle, then went to the still-standing east wing of the house to see the housekeeper. She allowed him into her parlor for half a crown. The room’s walls were freshly painted, showing evidence of care taken even with the servant’s quarters. A large plain cross decorated the free space on the wall, in between storage cupboards.

The housekeeper had a tall tower of graying hair, stiffened by some sort of grease into a peak over her forehead. Her black gown and white apron looked untouched by the fire. When she spoke, however, he sensed the fatigue and the sadness.

“I have served this family for thirty-seven years,” she moaned. “Such a tragedy.”

He took some time with her recital of the many treasures of the house, storing up a collection of things he could report on, then let her share some of her favorite history of the house. But he knew he needed to return to gather the baby from the stableman’s wife soon.

“Do you have a Lizzie Porter employed here?”

“Yes, sir.” The housekeeper gave a little sob and covered her mouth. “In the west wing, sir. I haven’t seen her since the fire.”

His fingers tingled. “Do you think she died?”

“I don’t know, sir. Not a flighty girl. I doubt she’d have run off if she lived.”

“Not a flighty girl?” He frowned. “But she has a babe.” He was surprised to know she had kept her employment.

The housekeeper shook her head. “She’s an eater, sir, but there never was a babe in her belly.”

The story became steadily more curious. “Did she take any leave, about four months ago? In July or August?”

The housekeeper picked up her teacup and stared at the leaves remaining at the bottom. “An ague went around the staff in the summer. Some kind of sweating sickness. She had it like all the rest. Went to recuperate with her sister.”

“Madge?”

She nodded absently. “Yes, that Madge. Just a slip of a girl. Hasn’t come to work here but stayed in the village.”

“I’ve met her. How long was Lizzie with her?”

“Oh, for weeks. She came back pale and thin, but so did a couple of other girls. It killed one of the cook’s helpers. Terrible.” The housekeeper fingered a thin chain around her neck.

It didn’t sound like a group of girls made up the illness to help Lizzie hide her expectations, but the ague had been timed perfectly for her to hide wee Timothy’s birth. Who had been the babe’s wet nurse?

“Do you know where Madge lives?”

“Above the Eight Bells, sir. Servants’ quarters.” The housekeeper set down her cup and rose, indicating the interview had ended.

Charles checked around the pub again when he returned to town, just a short walk from the grand, if sadly diminished, house. The quarters for servants were empty. Madge seemed to have gone into hiding. How she could abandon her nephew so carelessly, he did not know, but perhaps she was too devastated by her sister’s death to think clearly.

A day later, Charles and the baby were both sunk into exhaustion by the long journey to London. Charles’s carriage, the final step of the trip, pulled up in front of a stone building. Across from Mary-le-Bow Church in Cheapside, it had shop space, three floors of apartments, and a half attic on top. He’d had to hire a carriage from the posting inn where the coach had left them on the outskirts of town. While he had no trouble walking many miles, carrying both a valise and an infant was more than he could manage. At least they’d kept each other warm.

He made his awkward way out of the vehicle, coughing as the smoky city air hit his tortured lungs. In his arms, the babe slept peacefully, though he had cried with hunger for part of the long coach journey.

Charles’s friends, William and Julie Aga, had taken rooms here, above a chophouse. The building exuded the scent of roasting meats. His stomach grumbled as he went up the stairs to his friends’ chambers. William was a reporter, like Charles, though more focused on crime than government.

Charles doubled over, coughing, as he reached the top of the steps. He suspected if he’d had a hand free to apply his handkerchief, it would come away black again.

The door to the Agas’ rooms opened before he had the chance to knock.

“Charles!” William exploded. “Good God, man, what a sound to torture my ears.”

Charles unbent himself and managed a nod at his friend. William had the air of a successful, fashionable man-about-town, even at his rooms on a Thursday evening. He wore a paisley waistcoat under an old black tailcoat, which fit him like it had been sewn directly on his broad-shouldered body. They both prided themselves on dressing well. His summer-golden hair had darkened due to the lack of sun. He had the look of a great horseman, though Charles knew that William, like he, spent most of his time hunched over a paper and quill.

“I like that fabric,” Charles said. “Did Julie make you that waistcoat?”

“Charles.” William waved his arms. “Whatever are you carrying in your arms?”

Charles dropped his valise to the ground. It grazed his foot. He let out a yelp and hopped. “Blast it! My toe.”

William leaned forward and snatched the bundle from Charles’s arm. The cloth over little Timothy’s face slid away, exposing the sleeping child. “No room in the inn?”

“Very funny,” Charles snarled. He rubbed his foot against the back of his calf. “That smarted.”

“Whose baby?”

“A dead serving maid’s. I remember you said that a woman across the hall from you had a screaming infant. Do you think she might be persuaded to feed this one? He’s about four months old.”

William rubbed his tongue over his gums as he glanced from Timothy to Charles, then back again.

“He needs to eat. I don’t want to starve him. Also, I think he’s a little too warm.” Charles gave Timothy an anxious glance.

“Let’s hope he isn’t coming down with something.” William stepped into the passage and gave a long-suffering sigh. Then, he crossed to the other side and used his elbow to bang on the door across from his. “Mrs. Herring?”

Charles heard a loud cry in the room beyond, a muttered imprecation, and a child’s piping voice, then the door opened. A girl about the age of his youngest brother, Boz, opened the door.

“Wot?” she said indistinctly, as she was missing several teeth.

“I need your mother,” William said, smiling at the girl.

The girl turned her head partway and shrieked for her mother. A couple of minutes later the lady of the house arrived, a fat babe burping on her shoulder. She appeared as well fed as the infant, with rounded wrists tapering into fat fingers peering out from her cotton dress sleeves.

“Mr. Aga!” she said with a smile.

Charles instantly trusted Mrs. Herring’s sweet smile. Her hand had gone to the top of her daughter’s head for a caress, the sort of woman who genuinely enjoyed her children.

“Good lady,” Charles began. “I’ve been given the custody of this orphaned child due to a rather dramatic situation. Might you be able to take him in to nurse?”

Mrs. Herring stepped toward William. She took one look at the sleeping Timothy and exclaimed, “Lor bless me!” She handed her larger infant over to her daughter, then reached out her hands to William. He promptly placed the bundle into the mother’s arms.

Charles saw Timothy stir. He began to root around. “Hungry. Hasn’t been nourished since this morning.”

“Poor mite,” Mrs. Herring cooed. “How could you have let this happen? They must be fed regularly.”

“I don’t know how to care for a baby,” Charles admitted.

“But I remembered my friends had you as a neighbor. Can you help him?”

“We’ve no room for the tiny lad,” Mrs. Herring said sternly. She coaxed her daughter back inside.

“I can pay for his board,” Charles responded.

Mrs. Herring didn’t speak but her eyebrows lifted.

“Just for tonight at first,” William suggested with an easy smile. “You can see the situation is desperate.”

Charles reached into his pocket and pulled out a shilling. “I’m good for it. Truly. This would pay for days of his care if I hire a wet nurse. He has an aunt but she disappeared. I couldn’t find her before I had to return to London.”

“We’ll talk to you again in the morning,” William said. “I won’t leave the building until we’ve spoken.”

“Where am I to put him?” she asked, staring rather fixedly at the shilling. “The bed is full and we don’t have a cradle.”

William nodded wisely, as if he’d thought of this already. “Mr. Dickens and I will consult with my wife and bring something suitable. If you can feed him while we wait?”

Mrs. Herring reached out her free hand. Charles noted she had clean nails. She seemed a good choice for wet nurse. He placed the shilling in her palm and prayed they could make longer-term arrangements for a reasonable price.

Timothy let out a thin wail.

“He sounds weak,” Charles said, guilt coloring his words.

“I’ll do what I can.” Mrs. Herring glanced at the babe in her arms, then shut the door.

***

Excerpt from A Christmas Carol Murder by Heather Redmond. Copyright 2020 by Heather Redmond. Reproduced with permission from Heather Redmond. All rights reserved.

 

 

Author Bio:

Heather Redmond

Heather Redmond is an author of commercial fiction and also writes as Heather Hiestand. First published in mystery, she took a long detour through romance before returning. Though her last British-born ancestor departed London in the 1920s, she is a committed anglophile, Dickens devotee, and lover of all things nineteenth century.

She has lived in Illinois, California, and Texas, and now resides in a small town in Washington State with her husband and son. The author of many novels, novellas, and short stories, she has achieved best-seller status at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Her 2018 Heather Redmond debut, A Tale of Two Murders, was a multi-week Barnes & Noble Hardcover Mystery Bestseller.

Her two current mystery series are A Dickens of a Crime and “the Journaling mysteries.” She writes for Kensington and Severn House.

She is the 2020-21 President of the Columbia River Chapter of Sisters in Crime (SinC).

Catch Up With Heather Redmond:
HeatherRedmond.com, Goodreads, BookBub, Instagram, Twitter, & Facebook!

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Tour Participants:

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

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This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Heather Redmond. There will be 1 winner of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card (U.S. ONLY). The giveaway begins on November 1, 2020 and runs through January 2, 2021. Void where prohibited.

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#AudioTour “Lina (Mail-Order Brides of the West Book 2)” by Debra Holland

Author: Debra Holland

Narrator: Lara Asmundson

Length: 6 hours 15 minutes

Series: Mail-Order Brides of the West, Book 2

Publisher: Debra Holland

Released: Oct. 16, 2014

Genre: Romance; Historical Fiction

Mail-Order Brides of the West is a collaborative series by New York Times best-selling author Debra Holland and USA Today best-selling author Caroline Fyffe.When Lina Napolitano’s nanny position ends, she has no desire to return to the crowded family compound in St. Louis and endure the pressure from all her boisterous and overbearing Italian relatives to marry a local man. After eight years of living away from her family, she’s accustomed to making her own decisions. Lina wishes to be a wife – just not of the local garbage man or fishmonger. Traveling as a mail-order bride to Sweetwater Springs, Montana seems like the perfect solution to escaping her smothering family and forging her own life. After childbirth robs Jonah Barrett of his Indian wife, he is left to raise their toddler Adam alone. When Adam falls into the fireplace and burns his hand, Jonah becomes desperate to find the boy a mother – one who’ll care for him and accept the child’s half-breed heritage. And a woman who doesn’t know Jonah’s whole past.Will outgoing, demonstrative Lina fit into his solitary world and want to stay? Or will this mail-order marriage be over before the relationship really begins? Mail-Order Brides of the West: Lina takes place simultaneously with Mail-Order Brides of the West: Heather and is set seven years before Wild Montana Sky. See Caroline Fyffe’s companion book, Mail-Order Brides of the West: Heather to find out what happens to Lina’s friend and fellow mail-order bride when she travels to Y Knot, Montana to become the wife of lumber mill owner Hayden Klinkner.

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Debra Holland wears many “hats.” She’s a psychotherapist and corporate crisis/grief counselor, as well as a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Montana Sky Series, sweet, historical Western romance. She’s a three-time Romance Writers of America Golden Heart finalist and one-time winner. In 2013, Amazon selected Starry Montana Sky as a top 50 greatest love stories pick. She is also the author of The Gods’ Dream Trilogy (fantasy romance). Dr. Debra received a master’s degree in Marriage, Family, and Child Therapy and a PhD in Counseling Psychology from the University of Southern California (USC). She has written the nonfiction books, The Essential Guide to Grief and Grieving and Cultivating an Attitude of Gratitude: a Ten-Minute eBook. She’s a contributing author to The Naked Truth About Self-Publishing.

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Narrator Bio

Lara Asmundson is a voice actor based in the SF Bay area with many VO credits including radio and TV commercials, industrial narration, video game characters and of course audiobook narration. She has even given voice to an animated toy cat!Her journey to voice acting was a bit unusual having started her career life as a biomedical clinical researcher. The voice acting journey began as an exploration in creativity but quickly developed into a passion and finally a new career. She has been a working voice actor for 10 years. With over 40 audiobook titles to her credit she has given life to countless characters from young immigrant women seeking new lives and love in the 1890’s Western US to modern day romantic heroines. Her warm voice and conversational style draws the listener in and holds them through the ups and downs of the stories she tells.

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#PromoTour “Confessions in B-Flat” by Donna Hill

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CONFESSIONS IN B-FLAT

BY DONNA HILL

Essence bestselling author Donna Hill brings us an emotional love story set against the powerful backdrop of the civil rights movement that gripped a nation‹a story as timely as it is timeless…

The year is 1963. In Harlem, the epicenter of Black culture, the fight for equality has never been stronger. The time is now. Enough is enough. Yet even within its ranks, a different kind of battle rages. Love thy neighbor? Or rise up against your oppressors?

Jason Tanner has just arrived in New York to help spread the message of his mentor, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., of passive resistance, while beat poet Anita Hopkins believes the teachings of Malcolm X with all her heart: that the way to true freedom is “by any means necessary.” When Jason sees Anita perform her poetry at the iconic B-Flat lounge, he’s transfixed. And Anita has never met anyone who can match her wit for wit like this…

One movement, two warring ideologies—can love be enough to unite them?

Confessions in B-Flat is a celebration of the hard-won victories of those who came before us, and a stark reminder of just how far we still have to go.

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EXCERPT

When Jason returned with the supplies, he and Michael got to work. Jason ditched his shirt, tie, and jacket; filled a bucket with hot, sudsy water; and began washing the storefront windows until the sun bounced off them like a new penny on a hard mattress.

While he worked, he took the opportunity to watch the comings and goings on the street, sharing greetings with the array of folks who came and went. There were parents pushing baby carriages, delivery men, toddlers with grandparents, students on their way to Columbia University—not too far away—and a cluster of young men who hung on the corner smoking cigarettes and swapping stories about their sports heroes’ latest feats. He smiled. How many corners had he and Jeff hung out on, just shooting the breeze and enjoying life? He wiped the perspiration from his head with his forearm, gathered up his cleaning supplies, and was heading back inside when he glanced up and stopped short. His heart raced. She was coming across the street.

He’d only seen her once, but he’d know that halo of hair and that face anywhere.

As she drew closer, he watched as her expression changed from determination to shock. She tipped her head a bit to the side, squinted with a half smile on her face.

Anita stopped in front of him, adjusted her tote higher up on her shoulder, and stuck her hands in the back pockets of her capri pants. “Do-gooder! I’ll be damned.”

She was shorter than he’d thought she was on the bus, came somewhere under his chin, but she was still larger than life. Vibrant energy flowed from her.

“Fancy seeing you here,” he said and knew he sounded ridiculous.

“Not really. I live around here.” Her smile showcased the tiny dimple in her right cheek. “Fancy seeing you here, though.” She adjusted her weight to her right leg, jutting out a round hip.

Jason grinned and nodded sheepishly. “So do I. Well, not right here exactly, but close.”

She lifted her chin in the direction of the storefront. “What’s going on here?”

He cleared his throat, remembering her heated remarks on the bus. “Actually, I’m opening a local office for Dr. King.” Her brown eyes widened, raising her thick brows in the process. “Really?”

“Yep.”

“So what are y’all gonna be doing exactly?” She squinted at him.

“Training. Recruiting volunteers. Spreading information…”

“Hmm. Well, good luck with that.”

“Thank you, I think.”

“Look, do-gooder, I admire what you’re trying to do. But look around you.” She waved her hand. “These people need more than platitudes and marches. They want respect, dignity of work, to be treated like a human being and not by bowing their heads, turning cheeks, and accepting what ‘they’ decide they want to give us.”

“Dr. King wants the same thing,” Jason insisted. “But violence is not the way to get what we want.”

“Guess we gonna have to agree to disagree, do-gooder.” He tucked in a smile at the barb, which he’d gladly wear as a mantle. “It’s Jason, by the way. Jason Tanner.” He wiped his hand on his pants leg and extended it to her.

She pursed her lips, paused, then accepted the olive branch. “Anita Hopkins.”

“Nice to meet you—again, Anita. Looks like we keep meeting under strained circumstances.” That seemed to let some of the steam out of her. Her slender body visibly relaxed, even as a shadow of something he couldn’t define passed across her eyes.

She shifted her weight again. “How long you been in the city?”

“Couple of weeks.”

“How long you staying?”

“As long as it takes.” He watched her throat work.

“Guess you haven’t had a chance to see much of Harlem.”

He wasn’t sure if that was a question or a statement. “Uh, not really. Takes a bit of getting used to.”

She licked her bottom lip, then dug in her tote and pulled out a stack of papers. She peeled one off and handed it to him.

“Friday nights at B-Flat Lounge.” Her eyes picked up the light, turning them a brighter shade of brown. She shrugged slightly. “You might like it. Give you a real feel for Harlem.” She smiled.

He took the flyer. “Thanks.” He paused. “Will you be there?”

She shoved the papers back in her tote. “Guess you’ll have to stop by and find out. Take care, do-gooder.” She breezed by him and started off down the street.

Jason turned to watch her departure and wondered if she always swayed her hips like a metronome or if it was purely for his benefit.

She turned the corner and was gone.

He took a look at the flyer. B-Flat Lounge. Hmm. Maybe.


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ABOUT DONNA HILL

My official writing career began in 1987 when my first short story was published. My first novel, Rooms of the Heart was published in 1990. Since then there have been a slew of books and short stories that I’ve had published, from romance to women’s fiction, chic-lit, erotica and mysteries. I enjoy them all. Three of my novels were adapted for television so that was exciting. I’ve had the honor of conceptualizing and editing several collections: After the Vows, Midnight Clear, Where There’s a Will, Indecent Exposure, and The Hot Spot. I currently teach at Medgar Evers College and live in Brooklyn, NY with my family.


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#AudioTour “The Adventures of Tom Finch, Gentleman” by Lucy May Lennox

Author: Lucy May Lennox

Narrators: Duke DeFoix, Duchess DeFoix, Olivia Featherton, Earl Tyrone

Length: 14 hours 56 minutes

Publisher: Lucy May Lennox

Released: Oct. 10, 2020

Genre: Historical Fiction

London, 1735. Covent Garden offers a world of pleasures and diversions, even for a blind man. Tom Finch approaches life with boundless good cheer and resilience, whether he’s pursuing a musical career or pursuing women. And as for his blindness, to him it’s merely an inconvenience.Join Tom for a picaresque romp through high and low Georgian society among rakes, rovers, thieving whores and demi-reps, highway robbers, bigamists, and duelists, bisexual opera divas, castrati, mollies, and cross-dressers, lecherous aristocrats, and headstrong ladies. This meticulously researched, witty and lively tale overturns stereotypes about disability and revels in the spectacle and excitement of 18th century opera.

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Lucy May Lennox loves immersing herself in various historical periods and imagining the lives of people who don’t usually make it into the history books. A lifelong lover of classical and folk music, she has performed as a chorus member in operas and concerts in three countries, and once won first place in a sean nos (traditional Irish singing) contest. She lives in the beautiful Pacific Northwest USA with her husband and children.

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Narrator Bio

Growing up in a family devoted to the performing arts, Duke started his acting career a little later than expected. Since then he has performed internationally on both stage and screen. He has voiced characters in animated series, features, and video games.He enjoys working with his lovely Duchess on audiobooks whenever he can find time away from galloping his trusty white stallion across the windswept moors, rescuing beautiful, clever, and passionate ladies in distress, and fighting sabre wielding brigands on the high seas.

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Q&A with Author Lucy May Lennox
  • Tell us about the process of turning your book into an audiobook.
    • It happened on a whim! I was looking around at the Amazon publishing tools and saw the link for ACX. When I saw how easy it was to publish an audiobook, I thought I’d at least try auditioning producers and see how it went. Without really expecting much, I posted a sample. I was overwhelmed to get twenty auditions posted within a few days, most by very talented narrators. It was so gratifying to get so many positive comments from prospective narrators just based on the short sample I posted. Because the novel is about opera, the content really resonated with narrators who have a background in theater and singing. The whole process was so much fun right from the beginning.
  • Was a possible audiobook recording something you were conscious of while writing?
    • Not at all, to my regret. I might have phrased some things differently after hearing it read aloud. I also would have changed some aspects of the music to make it easier to integrate. For my future novels, it’s definitely something I’m keeping in mind.
  • How did you select your narrator?
    • It really felt like fate! When I discovered the ACX website, the first thing I did, even before posting a call for auditions, was to search for narrators who specialize in a standard BBC accent. The Duke and Duchess DeFoix of Her Grace Reads Studios were the first search result, and I fell in love with their samples. Their voices seemed perfect for my characters. But when I looked at their website, they had so many titles forthcoming, I was certain they would be too busy. Two days after I posted my call for auditions, the Duchess sent me a message saying, “Don’t accept any other offer before you hear our audition.” I was amazed and delighted that they were so keen on this project. Right from the start we seemed to completely understand each other. Then they volunteered to actually sing the songs, not just read the words, and even to engage an opera singer. How could I go with anyone else?
  • How closely did you work with your narrator before and during the recording process? Did you give them any pronunciation tips or special insight into the characters?
    • I gave Her Grace Reads Studios the entire book to read before we agreed on a contract, so they would know the content. The Duke read it all in a day—it’s over 400 pages! I can’t believe how fast he reads. Before recording, I sent them character notes saying what type of accent each major character should have, high class or low class or something in between. I made a pronunciation guide and glossary for all the foreign words, slang terms, and archaic words. It was a long list! I was particularly concerned about the one line of Gaelic poetry, but the Duke handled it flawlessly. For the music, I made a list of all the songs, which character sings each one, and a link to YouTube. It’s amazing that they learned all the music so quickly.
    • Only one of the songs didn’t have an audio reference: “Among our own selves we’ll be free,” which is sung in the molly-house. I found references to it in histories of gay culture in the 18th century, but no music. Her Grace Reads Studios hired composer Varya Rubin to write music so it could be sung in the audiobook. It sounds authentic, and I’m so grateful to them for bringing this bit of gay history to life.
  • Were there any real life inspirations behind your writing?
    • A lot of my experience with backstage drama as a regular chorus member in two semi-professional opera companies found its way into the story. The scene where a character angrily throws her shoe at her dressing-room door is based on a real incident, as is the rivalry between two women for a young feckless tenor.
    • I’m lucky enough to have visited London often, including while I was writing the novel, and walked around Covent Garden and the houses on Maiden Lane. It really helped to get a concrete sense for the setting. All the operas and composers are real, and I drew inspiration from many real events of the era, including riots in the theater over ticket prices.
  • What about real life inspirations for the characters?
    • There were quite a few blind men in the 18th century who were highly accomplished in their professions: Sir John Fielding, composers John Stanley and Turlough O’Carolan, among others. John Stanley conducted several oratorios for Handel, learning all the notes by ear, as Tom does. I borrowed the scene of Tom recognizing a woman by holding her hand as she steps into a boat from the life of Carolan. His drinking and flirting with women also come from Carolan, at least in part. I borrowed Tom’s unusual method of cane use and echolocation from the real life of James Holman.
    • At the beginning of the novel, Tom is composing a ballad called “London.” The real composer is Henry Carey, who like Tom was the illegitimate son of a nobleman, and made his living composing both operas and ballads. His life was a model for a character who is educated but not upper class, and who alternates between high and low society.
    • Many of the secondary characters are based on real people of the era: Betsy Careless, Sally Salisbury, Princess Seraphina, Lord Mordington, Farinelli, Anna Maria Strada, Veracini, among others.
  • Is there a particular part of this story that you feel is more resonating in the audiobook performance than in the book format?
    • The way the Duke voices Tom’s dialog is exactly how I heard it in my head as I was writing. I’m so pleased with how perfectly he interprets the lines. I particularly love the way he says “Whaaat?” whenever Tom is surprised by something. It’s so lively and expressive.
    • I’m in awe of how amazingly well Olivia Featherton brings the character of Sal to life. Every line of dialog from her is a delight, and I only wish there was more. I admit when I first began writing Sal, I felt a bit intimidated about getting the slang right, so I cheated and used a lot of indirect narration. I got more confident writing her dialog as I went along, but now I wish I had many more lines for Sal. I feel like she really steals the show, much more in the audiobook than in print.
    • Of course it adds a whole other dimension to have the music in the audiobook. I could hear the music in my head as I was writing, but most readers are probably not familiar with all of it. It’s so exciting to actually hear Tom sing the songs he is composing, or hear Tess sing an aria. The music at the start and close of each chapter adds so much as well. I love how the selection shifts to represent the mood of each chapter—it sets the scene so well.
  • If you had the power to time travel, would you use it? If yes, when and where would you go?
    • Obviously, I’d love to see London of 1735 in real life, but not to stay. I would not want to experience the sexism and racism of that period in person, not to mention the filth and disease. I’m sure if I ended up there, I would immediately die of smallpox. But I’m so curious to see it briefly, just to see and hear how people actually talked and dressed, and to hear what the music sounded like. There are attempts to recreate baroque music using period instruments and tuning, but we don’t know for sure if it sounded like we imagine.
  • Have any of your characters ever appeared in your dreams?
    • Yes! Actually the character of Tom first came to me in a dream—I saw a tall, thin blind man with a walking stick, wearing 18th century clothing and a tricorne hat. I immediately had such a clear sense of who he was, and I knew I had to create a novel for him to inhabit.
  • What’s your favorite opera?
    • To be honest, Handel’s operas are not my favorite. By far my favorite composer is Mozart. I love all his operas, especially The Marriage of Figaro. Every note is perfect; it’s funny but also with incredible generosity of spirit and love for the human flaws of the characters. I considered using Mozart’s operas in the novel instead, but I don’t know anything about Vienna, while London is a very familiar setting to me, and I wanted to keep the time period to the early 18th century, to avoid the political turmoil that came later. Using that setting meant using Handel’s operas as the backdrop. But in terms of tone, I tried to capture the blend of comedy and deep compassion of The Marriage of Figaro. I still listen to it over and over again.
  • What’s next for you?
    • I’m working on another historical fiction novel, this time set in Japan in 1825, during the Edo period. It’s almost finished; I hope to publish in the next month or two. Look for it on my Amazon page! I will definitely look into turning it into an audiobook as well.
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#PreOrder “The Girl at the Back of the Bus: An absolutely heart-wrenching historical novel” by Suzette D. Harrison

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For readers of The Help, Orphan Train and Before We Were Yours comes a heartbreaking and inspirational novel about redemption, family secrets and the spirit of survival found at the hardest time.

Montgomery, Alabama, 1955
On a cold December evening, Mattie Banks packs a suitcase and leaves her family home. Sixteen years old and pregnant, she has already made the mistake that will ruin her life and disgrace her widowed mother. Boarding the 2857 bus, she sits with her case on her lap, hoping that the driver will take her away from disaster. Instead, Mattie witnesses an act of bravery by a woman named Rosa Parks that changes everything. But as Mattie strives to turn her life around, the dangers that first led her to run are never far away. Forging a new life in a harsh world at constant risk of exposure, Mattie will need to fight to keep her baby safe.

Atlanta, Georgia, present day
Ashlee Turner is going home. Her relationship in ruins, her career held back by prejudice, she is returning to the family who have always been her rock. But Ashlee’s home is not the safe haven she remembers. Her beloved grandmother is dying and is determined to share her story before she leaves…

When Ashlee finds a stack of yellowing letters hidden in her nana’s closet, she can’t help the curiosity that compels her to read, and she uncovers an old secret that could wreak havoc on her already grieving family. As she tries to make sense of what she has learned, Ashlee faces a devastating choice: to protect her loved ones from the revelations, or honor her grandmother’s wishes and follow the path to the truth, no matter where it may lead.

What readers are saying about Suzette D. Harrison:

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ “Couldn’t sleep until I finished… A beautiful story of betrayal, deception and genuine love.” Goodreads reviewer

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ “Amazing! This book was everything.” Goodreads reviewer

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ “An amazing story from beginning to end! Captivated my attention and was hard to put down!… LOVED IT!” Goodreads reviewer

PreOrder now for 99 cents!

Publication Date: February 8, 2021

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#BookBlitz “Passengers” by Elizabeth Collums

Passengers

Congratulations to author Elizabeth Collums on the release of her epic family drama, Passengers! Read on for an excerpt and more book details!

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Passengers Publication Date: November 12, 2020 Genre: Historical Fiction A mysterious letter arrives from America to the village of Highland Way, where Annie, the oldest daughter in the Ewing Family was left to care for her mother and younger sister after her father left to find work in Dublin. Soon, Annie, Lily, and Katy find themselves on a harrowing journey. The hand-written note not only will expose deep secrets, it will also challenge the strength and fortitude of the Ewing women, leading each member into their own soul searching voyage. Follow this extraordinary passage that begins in Ireland and leads each woman to uncover their own courage and truths in this new world. Add to Goodreads

Excerpt

“For the first time since they left the farm, Annie was sure she wouldn’t be confused for either a farmer’s daughter or a servant. Mrs. Molly was so remorseful for her ill treatment that she made her three new outfits while they were there and she cried and kissed each of the Ewing girls as they loaded up that morning. Today she had on a pink and white gingham short sleeve top with pearl buttons down the front and a crisp new pink matching long skirt. She had pulled her hair up in a soft bun that she and Mrs. Molly had worked on for days trying to copy her Grandma Lizzie’s hairdo. Her feet had grown enough so that she and Katy could share the several pairs of shoes from Liz.

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About the Author

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Ann C. Purvis, chose to publish her first novel under her birth name, Elizabeth Collums; this is her true roots and where she has drawn from many of the experiences she wrote about. She lives in Denham Springs, Louisiana and enjoys DIY projects. She has two daughters, a step daughter, son-in-law, two amazing granddaughters, and her dog Daisy. Rope Swing Publishing Book Blitz Organized By:

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#BookSale “The Son” by Philipp Meyer

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Soon to be a TV Series on AMC starring Pierce Brosnan and co-written by Philipp Meyer.

Now in paperback, the critically acclaimed, New York Times bestselling epic, a saga of land, blood, and power that follows the rise of one unforgettable Texas family from the Comanche raids of the 1800s to the oil booms of the 20th century.

Part epic of Texas, part classic coming-of-age story, part unflinching examination of the bloody price of power, The Son is a gripping and utterly transporting novel that maps the legacy of violence in the American west with rare emotional acuity, even as it presents an intimate portrait of one family across two centuries.

Eli McCullough is just twelve-years-old when a marauding band of Comanche storm his Texas homestead and brutally murder his mother and sister, taking him as a captive. Despite their torture and cruelty, Eli–against all odds–adapts to life with the Comanche, learning their ways, their language, taking on a new name, finding a place as the adopted son of the chief of the band, and fighting their wars against not only other Indians, but white men, too-complicating his sense of loyalty, his promised vengeance, and his very understanding of self. But when disease, starvation, and westward expansion finally decimate the Comanche, Eli is left alone in a world in which he belongs nowhere, neither white nor Indian, civilized or fully wild.

Deftly interweaving Eli’s story with those of his son, Peter, and his great-granddaughter, JA, The Son deftly explores the legacy of Eli’s ruthlessness, his drive to power, and his life-long status as an outsider, even as the McCullough family rises to become one of the richest in Texas, a ranching-and-oil dynasty of unsurpassed wealth and privilege.

Harrowing, panoramic, and deeply evocative, The Son is a fully realized masterwork in the greatest tradition of the American canon-an unforgettable novel that combines the narrative prowess of Larry McMurtry with the knife edge sharpness of Cormac McCarthy.

On sale for a limited time!

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#AudioTour “Trudy (Mail-Order Brides of the West Book 1)” by Debra Holland

Author: Debra Holland

Narrator: Lara Asmundson

Length: 6 hours 41 minutes

Series: Mail-Order Brides of the West, Book 1

Publisher: Debra Holland

Released: Jun. 27, 2014

Genre: Romance; Historical Fiction

The well-educated daughter of a lawyer, Trudy Bauer arrives at the St. Louis based Mail-Order Brides of the West agency full of excitement for an adventure of a lifetime. She befriends the agency’s maid, Evie Davenport, and the two form a strong and lasting friendship. They vow to stay in contact through letters when Evie takes hold of her destiny and arranges a marriage on the sly. Each brave young woman is ready to face whatever an unknown groom and life in Montana can throw her way.In Holland’s book, bride-to-be Trudy Bauer rides the train to Sweetwater Springs, in a Montana Sky Novel. In Fyffe’s novel, house servant Evie Davenport travels by stagecoach to Y Knot, Montana in a McCutcheon Family Novel. Through their correspondence, the friends keep each other abreast of their hardships, trials, and tribulations – some of heartbreak, some of love.

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Debra Holland wears many “hats.” She’s a psychotherapist and corporate crisis/grief counselor, as well as a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Montana Sky Series, sweet, historical Western romance. She’s a three-time Romance Writers of America Golden Heart finalist and one-time winner. In 2013, Amazon selected Starry Montana Sky as a top 50 greatest love stories pick. She is also the author of The Gods’ Dream Trilogy (fantasy romance). Dr. Debra received a master’s degree in Marriage, Family, and Child Therapy and a PhD in Counseling Psychology from the University of Southern California (USC). She has written the nonfiction books, The Essential Guide to Grief and Grieving and Cultivating an Attitude of Gratitude: a Ten-Minute eBook. She’s a contributing author to The Naked Truth About Self-Publishing.

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Narrator Bio

Lara Asmundson is a voice actor based in the SF Bay area with many VO credits including radio and TV commercials, industrial narration, video game characters and of course audiobook narration. She has even given voice to an animated toy cat!Her journey to voice acting was a bit unusual having started her career life as a biomedical clinical researcher. The voice acting journey began as an exploration in creativity but quickly developed into a passion and finally a new career. She has been a working voice actor for 10 years. With over 40 audiobook titles to her credit she has given life to countless characters from young immigrant women seeking new lives and love in the 1890’s Western US to modern day romantic heroines. Her warm voice and conversational style draws the listener in and holds them through the ups and downs of the stories she tells.

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Q&A with Author Debra Holland
  • Tell us about the process of turning your book into an audiobook.
    • I’m a technophobe, and the idea of figuring out how to produce an audiobook was so overwhelming that I avoided the whole idea for about a year. That turned out to be a good thing, because an Audible/ACX rep approached me in 2013 with an offer to pay me to produce an audiobook. At the time, my “big” Montana Sky Series books were under contract with Montlake Romance, I’d only begun writing the Mail-Order Brides of the West book, and my other Montana Sky stories were too short for audiobooks—or so I thought at the time.So I started with the first book of my fantasy romance series. One of my friends suggested using her narrator, and he kindly walked me through the whole process. I loved the end result so much I became an audiobook fan. I, then, began production on the Mail-Order Brides of the West with a different narrator.
  • Do you believe certain types of writing translate better into audiobook format?
    • I think any kind of book-length writing can become an audiobook. However, I’m more aware of paying attention to the overuse of the dialogue tag—said. There’s no need for he said, she said, he said, when the narrator will make the distinction with his or her voice.
    • I’m also careful to watch for the overuse of two, to, too in the same paragraph. When you read, those three words are distinct. But not when you listen.
  • Was a possible audiobook recording something you were conscious of while writing?
    • Not when I wrote Mail-Order Brides of the West: Trudy and Mail-Order Brides of the West: Lina. But by the time I wrote Darcy’s story, I knew the book would be in audio.
  • How did you select your narrator?
    • My friend Caroline Fyffe, who also wrote some Mail-Order Brides of the West books, found Lara Asmundson. I listened to Lara’s samples and loved her voice, too. She’s done all my indie Mail-Order Brides of the West and Montana Sky Series stories.
  • How closely did you work with your narrator before and during the recording process? Did you give them any pronunciation tips or special insight into the characters?
    • I don’t usually tell Lara anything beforehand, unless I’m warning her about a foreign language that will appear in the book. Sometimes, I’ll add a note about how I want a name pronounced. For example, I wanted Aun-drea, rather than Ann-drea.I edit chapter by chapter as Lara does them. That way I can catch any voices I want changed. For example, Lara isn’t good at a German accent, and I finally had her change the dialogue and not give a character that accent.
  • Are you an audiobook listener? What about the audiobook format appeals to you?
    • Yes. I like listening to nonfiction audiobooks and read fiction books. I’m a psychotherapist, so there are always plenty of books I “should” read for my profession. But I’d rather read a story. I’m an avid book-a-day reader. So listening in my car or when I’m doing chores around the house is a good trade-off.
  • Were there any real life inspirations behind your writing?
    • Sometimes a hero comes along, sweeps you off your feet, and changes your life. That happened to me. But instead of living the happily ever after, I started writing about happily ever after.On New Year’s Eve, I was celebrating with friends at a cowboy dance bar in Orange County, California. As the old year drew to a close, I started dancing with a handsome young cowboy—a real one. (Cowboys are scarce in the OC.) We shared a midnight kiss. He asked me out, and still reeling from that kiss, I agreed. The two of us began to date. We had nothing in common, but he was sexy and fun, and we had a good time. After a few weeks, I started thinking: What if we met a hundred years ago in the Old West? Who would he be? How would I be different, and would our relationship have worked? And so the idea came to me for the story that I titled, Wild Montana Sky, which became the first book of the Montana Sky Series. I physically modeled the hero, Nick Sanders, after my cowboy, and I made the heroine, Elizabeth, a little like me. I started to write some of the scenes that popped into my mind, beginning with the one where Nick and Elizabeth ride their horses by a stream—a beautiful Montana setting. After that, I had to figure out who these two characters were and what their story was. And I had to learn to write fiction. After a few months, my cowboy and I drifted apart. His work at the racetrack came to an end, and he moved north. I never saw him again. But Wild Montana Sky is dedicated to him—to the cowboy who came into my life and changed it forever, setting me on a new trajectory and an unexpected and wonderful journey. Because of our brief romance, I became a writer. The book he inspired won the Romance Writers of America’s Golden Heart award and later hit the USA Today Bestseller list. Now there are over thirty books (counting the Mail-Order Brides of the West) in the Montana Sky Series. I’ll be forever grateful to my young cowboy.
  • What do you say to those who view listening to audiobooks as “cheating” or as inferior to “real reading”?
    • First of all, I’ve never heard of such a thing! So I’d start by saying, “You sound so judgmental. Why do you care what other people are doing/reading/listening?”Then I’d say, “Are you going to tell someone who’s hearing impaired that he or she is inferior?” I might add, “Didn’t you have to study Shakespeare’s plays in school? Wouldn’t they have been so much easier to follow if you could listen (like they were meant to be heard) instead of read?” And if that hasn’t gotten the point home, I’d say, “Have you tried listening to audiobooks? What’s your favorite book? Before you say another word against audiobooks, go listen to that title on audio, and then get back to me with how you found the experience.”
  • How did you celebrate after finishing this novel?
    • Usually, I am writing and editing until the very last minute and send off the manuscript at about 3 a.m. This comes after a week of long hours, little sleep, and no pleasure reading. So I celebrate by sleeping and reading for the next several days.
  • Do you have any tips for authors going through the process of turning their books into audiobooks?
    • I have a long chapter on audiobooks in the free ebook, The Naked Truth About Self-Publishing. The book has been out for a few years now so it’s somewhat out of date. But most of the audiobook information is still helpful.
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#BookBlitz “The Blind Boxer” by Jim Lester


Sports Fiction, Historical Fiction, Fiction

Published: September 2020

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“Rocky meets the Shawshank Redemption”

Set in the real American dystopia of the Great Depression, The Blind Boxer is the story of a prison inmate known as Harvard who is offered his freedom if he will participate in a mysterious boxing match. Harvard, who is a former professional fighter, suffering from failing eyesight, is joined by two other fighters, but when the Big Fight begins the inmates learn that the rules of prize fighting and fair play no longer count and survival is the name of the game.


About the Author

Jim Lester holds a Ph.D in history and is the author of four successful young adult novels as well as a history of college basketball in the 1950s.

Contact Links

Website

Promo Link

Purchase Link

Amazon


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