Summer Beach Reads Part 4

Today is June 1st and it finally feels like summer to me! Kids are out of school, the weather is (beyond) warm, and the beaches are full of tourists reading their favorite books. Here are some more novels to check out for your great summer beach read! All are priced at 99 cents (to date) so check them out.

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Guest Blog by Tracey Alley

Hi everyone, I’m Tracey Alley and I’ve just finally completed my first fantasy series, a trilogy called ‘TheWitchcraft Wars’. It wasn’t the first novel I’d ever written, not by a long shot actually, but it was the first that I truly felt was publishable. I’d had a pretty long road to publication with many mixed messages from potential publishers and agents. It seemed a lot of people liked my work but…. there was always a but and I couldn’t figure out how to find a way around that.

Then I heard about Independent publishing through Amazon and it felt right to me. I knew I had a good product, I’d received great feedback and a lot of really good critiques to make it even better. Still it was nerve wracking. I’d been offered a few contracts with smaller publishing houses but I always felt they were so constraining that I kept saying no and now I was about to go Indie I was wondering if I was doing the right thing.

In many ways the timing seemed right. Not only did I have a good product but the two badly herniated discs in my lower back had degenerated to such a degree that walking or sitting for long periods was now impossible and I was forced to take a disability pension. I’d completely finished the first book, was about two thirds of the way through the second book and now I had endless amounts of time on my hands. So I pushed the button and I’ve never looked back.

Suddenly my books were out there and they were selling. It was true there had been no huge advance or massive publicity push but they were selling, not flying off the shelves but quietly and slowly building a momentum and even better than that, people were liking them. I got direct emails from ‘fans’ who read the books and loved them, I read comments and reviews from people who also enjoyed them. I even got a couple of stinker reviews which made me feel like a real life writer. Suddenly this was what I was doing for a living, not stuck behind a desk, in an uncomfortable chair doing company accounts or working for the Tax Office. It was a very nice feeling, it still is.

I was riding so high I thought I’d never come down but… there’s always a but. Then I realised how much work I had to put in, myself, to get my book out there and noticed. I’ve never been good at sales or marketing and I stumbled around in the dark for a long time before I finally made some wonderful online friends, also writers, who helped me along the way. I still won’t profess to be the greatest at sales and marketing, it’s not something that comes easy to me but I’m working at it and as I work harder at it I see an increase in sales.

Of course now that I’ve finished the trilogy, Erich’s Plea, Ursula’s Quest and Slade’s Destiny are all out there for public consumption, along with a couple of short stories and an anthology of poetry, but the question then was – where to from here? Did I have another good story in me? Could I write another book? About halfway through writing Slade’s Destiny, which was a chore of and by itself due to some major health problems, I suddenly had the seed of an idea. That began to grow, I had characters, a basic storyline and a rough idea of how I wanted to book to evolve. The relief was unbelievable – I wasn’t going to be a one hit wonder, I did have more inside me than one good story.

So now I’m busily working away on my next project, while a third is already clamouring for attention in my brain and I realised if you really are a writer then you will always find stories to tell. All my life I’d never wanted to be anything but a writer and now I was living the dream. Sometimes I still pinch myself a little to make sure it’s all still real. I also realised something else about writing – it’s like any craft, the more you do it, the more you work at it and provided you always stay open to hard and honest criticism, the better you get.

I saw that clearly with the Witchcraft trilogy, each new book was better than the last and my current WIP is better than anything I’ve ever written before and I’m only on the first draft. I can’t speak for every writer, obviously, but for me this has been the most incredible journey I’ve ever taken. Yes, it’s hard in some ways because by putting yourself out there you become vulnerable. It’s a little bit like falling in love, you enjoy the rush and the immediate excitement of something new but it takes long term dedication and a strong, solid foundation to make it work long time. And just like being in love the relationship gets better with time, so does the writing.

It took me a very long time and a lot of very bad writing to get to the point of releasing Erich’s Plea, which now boasts several 4 and 5 star reviews. So if you’re out there and you’re thinking about it my advice is keep going, keep writing, keep improving but never forget that it takes time, patience, dedication and you have to be humble enough to hear that your work isn’t yet up to par. If you have the talent and the drive and the humility then you will get there.

TO BUY TRACEY’S NEW NOVEL, CLICK HERE

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Sample Sunday featuring Bahama Mama cocktail recipe

This week’s Sample Sunday gives you a sneak peek into my next Rachel Scott series – Asylum Harbor. And since Asylum Harbor is set in the Bahamas – I’m including a yummy tropical cocktail recipe, Bahama Mama. Enjoy!

BAHAMA MAMA
1/2 fluid ounce rum
1/2 fluid ounce coconut-flavored rum
1/2 fluid ounce grenadine syrup
1 fluid ounce orange juice
1 fluid ounce pineapple juice
1 cup crushed ice
Combine regular rum, rum with coconut flavoring, grenadine, orange juice, pineapple juice and crushed ice in an electric blender. Blend until the drink’s consistency is slushy.

CHAPTER ONE – ASYLUM HARBOR

Rachel sat in vanity room makeup chair trying to enjoy being pampered. This wasn’t her first time in front of a camera, but the butterflies still fluttered in her stomach every time she thought about millions of people watching her on TV.

In just a few minutes she would be on set at the Today Show to do an interview with Ann Curry. Her company, Florida Omni Search, had found a missing boy scout in the Florida Everglades last weekend. It was a national news story and she was thrilled to be a part of a successful recovery.

After what felt like an hour under the unnecessarily intense care of the hair and makeup crew, she looked into the mirror. It amazed her how these people made her look ten years younger and ten times prettier by just adding some heavy makeup and styling her long unruly auburn hair.

Kristy, one of the production assistants came to escort her to the set. “You look great,” Kristy said as they turned the corner into the studio.

“Thanks, I’m a little nervous.”

The Today Show studio looked much larger on TV. There was a news desk on one side of the small stage and a seating area on the other side – booms, wiring, curtains, and unused props took up much of the other space. Directly in front of her the crew was putting together the kitchen for the cooking segment which always aired last.

Ann Curry walked onto the set and introduced herself. She went on to explain how the interview would begin and which cameras she should look into and when. She fought the butterflies off and tried to remember Ann’s flurry of instructions.
The lights dimmed and Kristy made the countdown to going live. The production assistant’s bony finger pointed at them with conviction.

“Good Morning, we are back with a special guest. Rachel Scott from Florida Omni Search is with us today. Rachel played an instrumental role in locating missing boy scout, Casey Daniels, this past week. Rachel, tell us a little about how you got involved with search and rescue.”

Rachel took a deep breath and smiled into the camera. “The organization was started after my daughter, Mallory, disappeared several years ago.” She paused for a second. This was always the hardest part. Mallory was only three years old when she vanished and even though it had been five years ago, Rachel still felt a lump in her throat every time she thought about her precious little girl.

“I became frustrated with the lack of progress the local law enforcement was making. There are hundreds of people reported missing every day and not enough manpower to help with those cases.”

“What does FloridaOmni Search do for families of missing loved ones?” Ann inquired.

“We are a non-profit private search firm that has over twelve hundred volunteers from all professions including people who are trained in forensics. We have more resources and equipment than most law enforcement agencies. That is why they routinely call us when there is a difficult missing person case.”

“So last Saturday you received a request from Palm Beach Sheriff’s office to help locate Casey.” Ann said. “How did you go about finding him?”

“After consulting Casey’s troop leader we narrowed down our search grid and started from his last known position. After an exhaustive fourteen hours we finally found Casey about seven miles from their campsite.”

“What was his condition when you found him?” Ann inquired.

“He was a little dehydrated and scratched up but otherwise in good shape. It was a successful recovery and a happy ending.”

“That’s great to hear. We are all grateful for what you and everyone at Florida Omni Search do for missing persons and their families. Thank you for sharing your story with us.”

“Thanks for having me,” Rachel replied.

Ann looked into the camera. “When we come back, we will talk to Casey and his mom from the hospital in Palm Beach County.”

After the interview was over, Rachel graciously thanked the cast and crew and was driven back to the hotel. She reached in her bag and pulled out her cell phone. There were several missed calls and a voice mail message. She listened to the message which was from Drake Townsend who worked for the FBI. They had worked on numerous missing persons cases together.

“Hi Drake, its Rachel”.

“Hey Rach. Thanks for calling me back so quickly. We had a case come up that I hoped you could help with. A girl was reported missing last night in the Bahamas.”

“What happened?” Rachel asked.

“She was on a cruise to the Bahamas and the crew officials think she may have fallen overboard.”

The town car had pulled up to the hotel and she handed the driver a generous tip. “That is awful. Is the Coast Guard searching now?”

“Yes, they have had a cutter and a seaplane out since early this morning. They haven’t found anything yet.”

Rachel walked into the hotel’s grand lobby and sat down on a sofa. “I was just headed to Tampa for the week. I haven’t seen my parent’s in awhile. But I can send our Miami crew down there to help with the search.”

“We really need you Rachel. As a matter of fact, you have been personally requested.” Drake said. “The missing girl is Amber Knowles.”

The name resonated in her brain. Amber Knowles. “The name sounds familiar…” Rachel started to say.

“Yes, it should. She is the daughter of John Knowles. The governor of Florida,” Drake said.

READ THE FIRST RACHEL SCOTT SERIES NOVEL – BURN OUT

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Guest Blog by Allan Leverone

Get up and play with my granddaughter for a little while. Drink coffee. Catch up on my email. Drink coffee. Maybe do a little laundry before getting ready for work. Drink coffee. Take a shower, throw on some clothes, jump in my truck and head off to work. Stop on the way for, you guessed it, coffee. Work till midnight, while drinking coffee. Come home and catch some Z’s, then get up and do it all over again.

This is a typical day for me. Busy, sure, but probably not a whole lot busier than your typical day, right? Let’s face it, we’re all pretty much running our butts off, aren’t we? Or at least so it seems to me.

So why did I bring it up, you ask? Because if you’re particularly sharp-eyed, you may have noticed something fairly significant. For a guy that’s supposed to be a writer, a quick scan of my typical day reveals a distinct lack of…you know…writing.

I have a confession to make, and I’ve chosen Traci’s blog to come clean. Sorry, Traci, but I just can’t keep it inside any more. I’m a little jealous. I’m jealous of those full-time authors who have consistent blocks of time set aside every day for their writing. Stephen King says he writes for three to four hours every morning before breaking for lunch and then spending his afternoons accomplishing all the other things an author needs to do: promotions, etc.

But the dirty little secret a lot of readers may not realize is that most authors, once you get past the top rung of superstars, regardless of the genre they write in, are not that different from anyone else. They spend forty hours a week at their second job—you know, the one that pays the bills—then struggle to carve out enough time to write between family time, chores, and all the other stuff that demands the attention of adults in the twenty-first century.

So, when do I write?

Well, right now I’m working on this blog post with two loads of laundry going and my granddaughter sitting next to me eating lunch while Scooby Doo solves another scary mystery on TV. I’m going to have to jump in the shower soon to prepare for my two-to-midnight shift, but if I can finish this blog post before then, I will use my break time at work to hopefully pound out a thousand or so words on the first draft of my latest manuscript.

Piece of cake. And yes, I am drinking coffee.

The thing is, I need to write every day, at least six days a week, when I’m working on a writing project. If I skip more than a day or so between writing sessions, I find that any momentum I’ve built up on the manuscript is lost, and it takes a lot of time to get back the feel of what I was trying to accomplish. Time I may not have.

As an air traffic controller by trade, I’m kind of fortunate in that my days at work are divided between stints “working position” and stints “on break.” When I’m working position, my attention must be fully on the airplanes in the sky, but when I’m on break my time is my own and I’m free to devote one hundred percent of it to my writing if I so choose. Which I do.

Most authors I know are in the same boat, more or less. If they don’t have a full-time job, they might be full-time family caregivers, which can be just as time-consuming as driving to a job every day, if not more so. The myth of the author smoking a pipe in his study while wearing a velvet smoking jacket as he contemplates the mysteries of the universe is exactly that—a myth, at least where most of the authors I know are concerned.

They are much more likely to be typing madly one-handed while holding a sleeping baby on their shoulder with the other hand (yes, I’ve done that), or pounding out a few paragraphs of dialogue while boiling spaghetti for supper and trying not to burn the sauce.

And the funny thing is, not a single one of them would have it any other way.

Sure, we would love to hit it big, write a runaway bestseller, jump up and down on Oprah’s couch, tell the boss to take a hike, hire a nanny and a housekeeper and retire to our study, where we would be surrounded by volumes upon volumes of leather-bound books, all the classics, while we wear velvet smoking jackets and contemplate the mysteries of the universe, but until that happens, we are more than happy to struggle for that thirty minutes of writing time here, that forty-five minutes of writing time there.

Because we’re doing what we love.

Website: http://www.allanleverone.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/#!/Allan.Leverone

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Summer Beach Reads Part 3 – Paranormal

Get your spooky on this summer by reading some of these chillingly good novels. Click on photo and it will take you to the Amazon store for purchase. All books are under $4 – so load up your e-reader and get to reading!

and coming May 21st…the highly anticipated release of Whispers – by Kristina Jackson. Check out her blog for information on Whispers at http://wyndwitch.blogspot.com/

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Contest Winners Announced and other Stuff

I haven’t gotten any responses (but one) to my reply on the Mother’s Day contest so I thought I would do a separate thread.

Happy Mother’s Day! Lisa S. you are the winner of the Mother’s Day contest! Congrats! (I need your mailing address so please respond soon!)

And to everyone else that entered….I’m giving each of you an ebook copy of your choice – Burn Out or Asylum Harbor (out Summer 2011).

Please email me at tracihohenstein@hotmail.com to claim your prize.

In other news, BURN OUT is now available as a paperback on Amazon.com for $8.95.

My new romantic comedy, Special Delivery, will be available as an ebook this month. More to come that…

Have a great day!
Traci xx

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Happy Mother’s Day Guest Blog by Libby Fischer Hellman

Today I have a special guest blog post by Libby Fischer Hellman. Before we get to that, I just wanted to wish everyone a good weekend and to all the Mother’s…Happy Mother’s Day. I will be drawing a name for the Mother’s Day contest sometime this weekend and will post the winner on Sunday. 🙂

Here’s Libby….
We celebrate motherhood in this country with cards and flowers and phone calls. We make a big deal out of the day, but somehow, it’s never seemed fair to me that people who’ve lost a mother, or can’t, for one reason or another, have a relationship with theirs, have to endure the day. I remember when I was a little girl, one of my friends, whose mother had tragically died a few months before, spent Mother’s Day weekend with us. I remember feeling guilty, almost embarrassed, that my mother was alive. I remember wondering what my friend was thinking. How lonely and isolated she must have felt.

That was one of the themes that prompted me to write SET THE NIGHT ON FIRE, my seventh novel and first stand-alone thriller. In it I explore what happens when a mother, who died giving birth to her daughter, turns out to be a totally different person than the daughter thought. How might that affect her life, her sense of self, her future?

Lilia Hilliard, my protagonist finds out.

Lila is a thirty-something financial analyst who comes home to her father’s house in Chicago for the Christmas holidays. She goes out to do some errands, and when she returns, her father’s house has gone up in flames, trapping her father and brother inside. But that’s only the first attack. It turns out that someone is trying to kill Lila, and they’re serious. In her increasingly desperate search to find out who is after her and why, she uncovers information on her father’s computer that indicates her parents, activists during the late Sixties, were not the people her father had led her to believe they were.

The middle section of STNOF goes back to those times and traces the lives of six young idealists who came together at the Democratic National Convention of 1968 and lived together for two years. During that time, the reader will discover Lila’s parents’ secrets, secrets that threaten to kill her forty years later. But Lila still has to discover those secrets, and more important, save her life.

During the story, Lila comes to terms with her mother – and her father – and learns who she is. But she’s one of the lucky ones. For those of you whose mothers aren’t around, I would like to celebrate YOU on Mother’s Day. I hope you spend it with people you love, whoever they are.

And I hope you enjoy the read.

Here is the link to Libby’s author page on Amazon.com. You can purchase Set The Night On Fire here as well as all her other fantastic books.

Libby Author Page

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Contest Winner(s) Announced

Congratulations to….Debra McDonald who won the Great Big Giveaway contest!

My daughter Delaney drew the names and was having so much fun that I had her draw four more names for runner-up prizes. So…Jackie, Erin, Jana, and Heather also win their choice of a signed autographed copy of Burn Out (available late May) or Asylum Harbor (release date Summer 2011). Asylum Harbor is my 2nd book in the Rachel Scott series.

Please contact me with your mailing addresses. Email to tracihohenstein@hotmail.com.

I’m leaving everyone’s name in the bowl for a 2nd drawing on Friday for the Mother’s Day contest. So if you signed up – your name is entered twice now.

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A Special Mother’s Day contest

Mother’s Day is this coming Sunday and it is one of my favorite holidays. I am a mother to three terrific children and I’m lucky to have a wonderful mother and grandmother – and two sisters who are also great mothers.

To celebrate Mother’s Day I’m running a special contest. Just tell me what your plans are for this weekend – if you are spending it with someone special – and I will draw a name on Friday May 6th. Winner will receive a sun safety kit ($147 value), a special autograghed copy of Burn Out, an ebook of Special Delivery (my new romantic comedy), as well as the following ebooks:
Valerie Maarten – Second Chances

Sibel Hodge – Fourteen Days Later

Libby Fischer Hellman – Set the Night on Fire

Alex Knight -What Luck

Sarah Bernard – Portal Between

Kristina Jackson – Feathers

Autograph copy of Burn Out

Ebook of Special Delivery

Sun Safety Kit by Sephora *a $147 dollar value * What it includes: A kit with 11 sun care products, one deluxe-sized sample, and a bonus beach tote.

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Sample Sunday Featuring Upcoming Release and Recipe

Read Chapter 1 of the most anticipated chick lit book release of 2011 – Special Delivery (hey, a girl can dream right?). Then scroll down for the Flirtini cocktail recipe which is featured in the book. Enjoy!

Chapter 1

“Get it out! Get it out of me, now!”

I could hear the screaming all the way down the hall as I walked quickly to the room. I pushed the door open to Room 422 just in time to hear – “If you don’t get Dr. Love in here right now to get this thing out of me, I swear I will reach down there and pull it out myself!”

“Good evening, everyone,” I said, snapping on a pair of latex gloves. The maternity nurse, Judy, look relieved to see me.
“She’s ten centimeters dilated, been pushing for the last hour and half, and head is crowning.” Judy updated me.

I stood at the bed side of my patient, Bethany Burke. Bethany was a famous comedienne with her own reality TV show. She was also my patient, delivering her first child.

The words coming out of her mouth, however, were not so funny now.

“Where the hell have you been?” Bethany asked between panting. “I want…this baby…out of me….now!”

I smiled and pushed a piece of hair out of her eyes. “Bethany, you will finally get to meet your baby in just a few minutes.”
I glanced over at her husband, Taylor, who was nervously pacing back and forth next to her bed. Her assistant, Camille, was sitting in a nearby chair, texting furiously on her Blackberry. They barely acknowledged my presence.

I quickly examined Bethany – she was crowning and ready to deliver. Judy had alerted the nursery and they rolled the crib and stood by to wait.

“Ok now Bethany, big push!”

“Ahhhh!” Bethany screamed while bearing down.

The baby’s head popped out. “Ok, Bethany a couple more of those pushes and were done.”

This is the part of my job that I love the most. Delivering babies. Bringing precious life in the world. All the drama that goes along with it – I just tolerate.

Being a doctor in LA – a doctor to the stars – definitely has its perks. My clients were movie stars, soap opera actresses, pop singers, supermodels, and wives of the Beverly Hills elite.

Finally, at eight minutes till midnight, Bethany Burke delivered her baby.

“It’s a girl!” I exclaimed, while the baby wailed at the top of her lungs. She definitely has her mother’s mouth I thought as handed the scissors to her husband, Taylor, to cut the cord.

Suddenly, the door swung opened and two men walked into the room carrying black leather bags and train cases. Camille popped up out of her chair. “Just in time. Let’s get started guys. She needs some sprucing up pronto.”

I turned to nurse Judy in confusion.

“Bethany’s film crew is here. They want to film for her show.”

As the nurses cleaned up the baby, Bethany’s team of makeup and hair stylist cleaned her up. I watched in amazement as the makeup guy wiped the sweat off Bethany’s forehead while the hair guy sprayed something powdery in her hair and pulled it into a high ponytail.

“Ummmhuh.” I cleared my throat to get Bethany’s attention. “You still have to deliver the placenta.”

“What?” Bethany said, as the camera man poked his head into the doorway to see if he could come in.

“You aren’t done,” I said. I explained everything else to have to do, including putting in stitches.

“How long will that take?” Camille asked, fluffing up her own hair.

Judy rolls her eyes at me. This has turned into a three ring circus.

“About an hour.”

“Ok. Not a prob,” Camille said. “We will film the delivery of the placenta thingie and then we can edit to look like the actual delivery.” She looks at Bethany for approval.

Bethany just nods her head.

The nurse walks over and hands the baby to Bethany. She kisses her on the forehead and then hands her off to her husband. “Here honey. I don’t want to mess up my makeup.”

The makeup and hair crew finish up just as I do. After eighteen hours of labor, Bethany looks better than me. I have to get the name of her stylist.

Flirtini Cocktail Recipe from Special Delivery (coming May 2011)
1 oz Vodka
2 oz Pineapple Juice
2 oz Chilled Champagne (splurge on the good kind)
small chunks of pineapple
Martini picks
Ice
Cocktail shaker
Attitude
Directions: Chill martini glass in freezer. Combine vodka and pineapple juice in cocktail shaker filled with a few ice cubes. Shake until well chilled. Pour into chilled martini glass. Carefully stir in champagne until well mixed. Skewer pineapple chunks onto picks. Drop into Flirtini and serve. Go forth, mingle and flirt…with attitude!

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