Thursday, December 15, 2016

Paradise Series Book Blast

We're happy to host Deborah Brown's PARADISE SERIES Book Blast today! Please leave a comment to let her know you stopped by!

Title: Paradise Series
Author: Deborah Brown
Publisher: Paradise Books
Pages: 626 (total in series)
Genre: Mystery/Humor

Crazy in Paradise: Dying in the middle of the summer in the Florida Keys is sweaty business. Welcome to Tarpon Cove. Madison Westin has inherited her aunt's beachfront motel in the Florida Keys. Trouble is she’s also inherited a slew of colorful tenant's - drunks, ex-cons, and fugitives. Only one problem: First, she has to wrestle control from a conniving lawyer and shady motel manager. With the help of her new best friend, whose motto is never leave home without your Glock, they dive into a world of blackmail, murder, and drugs.

Deception in Paradise: Madison Westin is back!! The Florida Keys are hotter than ever.
With Madison's never-say-no style she's smarter and packing an attitude not to mention her Glock. This time, trouble rolls into Tarpon Cove in the form of Madison's ex-husband, Jackson Devereaux, whom she hoped to never see again. His arrival brings unparalleled chaos and an uninvited corpse. Teaming up with her hot friend, Fabiana, the two women go from chasing the usual cast of misfits and weirdos to hunting down a murderer. The action turns deadly serious when they stir up a nasty enemy as they try to stay one-step ahead in a game of cat and mouse that threatens their lives.

Trouble in Paradise: What is big news in small town Tarpon Cove? An accidental drowning or perhaps a ruthless murder? When a dead fisherman rolls up on shore, Madison cannot resist jumping into her new role as Private Investigator. But she soon discovers the people in The Cove who normally gossip about everybody's business are unusually tight-lipped. The bad tenant radar still not working, the cottages continue to be full of riffraff. Madison gets arrested, shot at, and outsmarted. She teams up with her best friend – the Glock carrying Fabiana. Together they take on cases no other investigators would ever touch!



Book Excerpt:
There should be a law in South Florida that a person can’t die during the summer. The death of a loved one was hard enough without the added humiliation of sweat. I felt it rolling down my back, like a stream trapped by the belt of my dress with nowhere to go.
My name is Madison Elizabeth Westin, and I’m seated at the funeral of my favorite aunt, people watching, of all things. Most of the mourners looked ready for a pool party, some of them in shorts and bathing suit cover-ups. I was the only one dressed in black; even my brother wore khaki shorts.
The minister began, “We are gathered here today to give thanks for the life of Elizabeth Ruth Hart, who shared herself with us. It is in her memory we come together and, for all she meant to us, we are thankful.”
My mother had named me after her older sister. Elizabeth was like a second mother to my brother Brad and me. We spent summers with her in Florida, running and playing on the beach, building sandcastles, and she was a regular visitor to our home in South Carolina.
After five years of not seeing her, I had packed for a several-month stay and planned to spend the summer with her. That’s when I got a phone call from her lawyer telling me she had died. I still found it difficult to believe it had happened so suddenly.When I walked into the funeral home earlier, the heat had smothered me; this main room was suffocating. The air conditioning wasn’t working and it felt as though it was more than one hundred degrees. The director, Dickie Vanderbilt, had apologized for that, telling me that the central unit had gone out earlier in the day. He informed me he had all of the ceiling fans on high, which, in my opinion, were only circulating hot air.
Dickie Vanderbilt gave me the creeps. He had a slight build, pasty white skin, and long skinny fingers. When he reached out to touch my arm, I tried hard not to squirm.
I’m not a big fan of shaking hands. I find people only want to shake your hand when they can see you’re not interested. A friend suggested I perfect the dog paw shake for those who insist. I extend my hand like a paw and let it hang loose. Often times, they jerk their hand away and give me an odd stare, which makes me want to laugh every time.
The minister rambled on. I found him to be uninteresting, his speech dry. He talked about Elizabeth as though she were a stranger to him and everyone here. Apparently, Elizabeth’s jerk attorney, Tucker Davis, hadn’t given the minister any information about her. I didn’t understand why my aunt left all of the details of her funeral to Tucker. Why would she exclude the people who loved her and knew her best from having input? I wished I had one more day to walk along the beach to laugh, talk, and collect shells with her.
On Sunday, Tucker called to inform me that Elizabeth had died in her sleep from a heart attack. “The funeral is Wednesday, 1:00 p.m. at Tropical Slumber Funeral Home on Highway 1 in Tarpon Cove,” he told me.
“I want to help plan the funeral.”
“All of the arrangements have been made.” He sounded impatient, emphasizing his words. “If you want to, you can call anyone else you think should be informed.”
“My aunt would’ve wanted her family to be involved in the decision-making for her funeral. After all, my mother, brother, and I are the only family she had.”
“Elizabeth appointed me executor. She left me written instructions for everything she wanted done after her death, including her funeral.”
I didn’t believe him. Elizabeth loved us. She never would’ve excluded her family in this way, knowing how important it would be to us.
“I oversaw all of the arrangements myself. I’m sure you’ll be satisfied. If you have any other questions you can call my assistant, Ann.” He hung up the phone.
My aunt never once mentioned Tucker Davis to me or anyone else in the family. Here he was, a stranger, handling her estate.
The next day, I called the lawyer back to tell him that Elizabeth’s sister Madeline, her nephew Brad, and I, would attend. He refused to take my phone call, and I was frustrated.
“This is Madison Westin. May I speak with Tucker Davis?”
“I’m Ann, Mr. Davis’s assistant. He’s not accepting calls at this time. Can I help you with something?”
“I wanted to ask again if there was anything I could do in preparation for Elizabeth Hart’s funeral? Surely, you can understand how her family would want to be involved in any final decisions.”
“Mrs. Hart wanted Mr. Davis to make those arrangements, and he has. She didn’t indicate that she wanted anyone else involved in the planning. I can assure you he’s seen to all of the details. He worked directly with Mr. Vanderbilt at the funeral home.”
“I’ll be arriving later today. Would you tell Mr. Davis I’m available to help with anything that needs to be done? He can reach me at Elizabeth’s house.”
“Does Mr. Davis know you plan to stay in Mrs. Hart’s house?”
“I don’t need Mr. Davis’ permission. I’ve never stayed anywhere but the Cove Road house, and this trip won’t be any different. If Mr. Davis has a problem with my staying there, he can call me,” I said.
“Any more messages?” Ann sniffed and, without waiting for a response, hung up on me.

About the Author

Redhead. Long legs. There's nothing like a strawberry-lemonade in summer. Favorite activity: Filling my pockets with seashells. An avid rule follower when eating Animal Cookies: Broken ones get eaten first, match up the rest, duplicates next, line them up favorite to not, least favorite go first. South Florida is my home, with my ungrateful rescue cats, and where Mother Nature takes out her bad attitude in the form of hurricanes.


Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Interview with Chef Wolfgang Hanua, author of My Travel Adventures and Secret Recipes

Inside the Book:

Title: My Travel Adventures and Secret Recipes
Author: Chef Wolfgang Hanau
Publisher: iUniverse
Genre: Cooking
Format: Ebook/Paperback
Chef Wolfgang Hanau, born and educated in Eastern Europe, learned to love good cooking from an early age, so it was only natural that he’d go on to become a world-renowned chef.
What isn’t so natural, however, is his willingness to share the secret recipes he’s learned over a decades-long career at some of the world’s most exclusive restaurants, luxury hotels, and resorts.
In this memoir/recipe book, he revels in dishes with a French flair, Bavarian specialties from Munich’s Oktoberfest, Switzerland’s renowned international cuisine, and dishes from the many great places he’s practiced his craft.
You’ll laugh and smile as he enjoys camelback rides in the Sahara desert, cruises on luxury ocean liners, and meets celebrities at culinary destinations that offer sun, fun, and escapes from the ordinary.
Along the way, he shares recipes that will impress your relatives and friends, including German Warm Potato Salad, the Allenstein BBQ Recipe, Bearnaise Sauce, Rainforest Acai Berry Cookies, Amstel Light Portobello Gorgonzola Burger, Golden Apple Cheddar Pancakes, Apple Jam-Filled Cookies, and Apricot-Glazed Mushrooms over Mixed Baby Greens.
There’s an exciting story and a tasty dish for everyone in this book of secret recipes and travel adventures.

How did you come up with the title of your book?
My fondest experiences in my life are the adventures in my travels to 26 countries and learning the secrets of fine cooking from great chefs - mostly ethnic foods from Europe, Asia and South America.

What is your writing environment like?
Our old Palm Beach brick house and gardens of flowers and tropical fruit trees.

What are some of the best tools available today for writers?
The creation of individual files and folder that are available at a moments notice.

What inspires you to write?
My desire to share my life.

Did you learn anything while writing this book?
How beautiful and divine life is.

Meet the Author:
Chef Wolfgang Hanau, a native of Bavaria, graduated with a bachelor’s degree in culinary arts from the Culinary Institute in Munich. He has worked in Switzerland, Paris, and London and has practiced his craft at many popular hotels and resorts. He lives with his wife, Diana, in West Palm Beach, Florida.

Book Blast: A Honeyed Light by Freddie Milano

Inside the Book:

Title: A Honeyed Light
Author: Freddie Milano
Genre: Contemporary Paranormal

Kunal, relative newcomer to the strange town of Harmony, has his hands full preparing for Diwali. That should be enough to keep anyone's mind pre-occupied, but Kunal can't really ignore that he's nearly thirty, single, and still buried in the closet.

Out of town at a gay club one night, he bumps into Oscar, proprietor of Harmony's only sex shop, and figures his secret is now officially out. What he doesn't expect is a slow seduction, or to have to decide what it is he really wants in life.

Cover design:


Freddie Milano lives with her partner-in-crime, two adorable and devilish cats, and far more ideas than she really has time to set down on (electronic) paper. She's been writing since she could hold a pen, though most of the embarrassing stories thankfully never made in onto the internet, and can stay safely buried.

She loves wine, Korean pop music, tea, chocolate, coffee, mythology, and both video and tabletop gaming. An ESFJ surrounded by introverts, Freddie has learned the art of socialization in moderation. Besides, staying in just leaves her more time to write. Find more at

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Cover Reveal: Rig 'Em by Delphine Dryden

Inside the Book:

Title: Rig 'Em
Author: Delphine Dryden
Publisher: Lyrical Press
Genre: Women's Fiction
Format: Ecopy 

Thanks to a boots knockin’ schedule of both vanilla and kinky events, the Hilltop Guest Ranch is more successful than ever. And with their hemp rope skyrocketing into a sought-after bondage staple, Chet is fielding a lot of questions about his cousins’ business . . . and indulging his own kinky side with the help of Diego, the ranch’s hot, accommodating gamekeeper . . .

The fun is kicking into high gear until Chet ropes in a roving reporter trying to crash a private event. But Nicole’s not just any reporter—she’s Diego’s former Mistress. And she’s not crashing, she’s trying to win Diego back and enjoy a weekend of open-air pleasure . . .

Chet’s not willing to give up his favorite sub so easily, and he doesn’t trust Nicole. He fully intends to keep an eye on her. But Diego wants them both and he has a plan to turn observation into participation. It seems the best kind of trouble comes in threes . . .



Delphine Dryden majored in English at the University of Texas at Austin, and probably should have gone ahead and gone for that MFA and PhD to become an English professor like she planned. Instead, she took a detour through law school, practiced law for a woefully brief time, and wound up working in special education for the next fifteen or so years (first as a teacher, then as an educational diagnostician). Somewhere in there, she also obtained a Master’s in Educational Psychology/Special Education.

Delphine has written contemporary and erotic romance for Carina Press and Harlequin, and mainstream steampunk romance for Berkley Publishing. She has also self-published. Her writing has earned an Award of Excellence and Reviewers’ Choice Award from Romantic Times Book Reviews, an EPIC Award, and a Colorado Romance Writers’ Award of Excellence. She was the also the inaugural winner of the Science in My Fiction contest. When not writing, she can be found editing for various freelance clients and for Riptide Publishing.


Friday, December 9, 2016

Book Feature: Unraveling the Pieces by Terri DuLong

 Dog Eared Publicity is pleased to bring you Terri DuLong's UNRAVELING THE PIECES virtual book tour November 22 - December 16!

Inside the Book:

Title: Unraveling the pieces
Author: Terri DuLong
Release Date: November 22, 2016
Publisher: Lyrical Press
Genre: Women's Fiction
Format: Ebook/Paperback

"DuLong reminds me of a Southern Debbie Macomber but with a flair all her own." --Karin Gillespie

New York Times bestselling author Terri DuLong casts on her newest tale of heartbreak and hope in Ormond Beach, Florida, a sun-dappled haven where one woman finds the comfort she's always needed...

Petra Garfield has no real attachments tying her down to one place. She's ready for an adventure, so what could be better than an extended stay at Koi House with new friends and old in enchanting Ormond Beach. Having recently lost her mother, Petra is riddled with questions about the father she never knew. She certainly never thought she'd begin to find the answers in a tiny town in Florida...

As much as she wants to search for the truth, Petra knows she can't spend all her time wallowing in the past, and her friends at the Dreamweaver yarn shop aren't about to let her. The ladies encourage her to volunteer at a local animal shelter, where she hits it off with a young boy--and his handsome father. Tangled in secrets she didn't even know she had, Petra must learn to stitch her life back together even as she unravels lifelong mysteries--and perhaps she'll find unexpected happiness along the way...

Includes An Original Knitting Pattern! Praise for Terri DuLong's Cedar Key Novels

Meet the Author:

Born and raised north of Boston, Terri DuLong was a previous resident of Cedar Key, Florida. She now resides on the east coast of the state in Ormond Beach with her husband, three dogs and two cats. A retired Registered Nurse, she began her writing career as a contributing writer for Bonjour Paris, where she shared her travel experiences to France in over forty articles with a fictional canine narrator. Terri’s love of knitting provides quiet time to develop her characters and plots as she works on her new Ormond Beach novels.

You can visit her website at or at her Facebook fan page,

Book Feature: Unraveling the Pieces by Terri DuLong


Inside the Book:

Title: Unraveling the pieces
Author: Terri DuLong
Release Date: November 22, 2016
Publisher: Lyrical Press
Genre: Women's Fiction
Format: Ebook/Paperback

"DuLong reminds me of a Southern Debbie Macomber but with a flair all her own." --Karin Gillespie

New York Times bestselling author Terri DuLong casts on her newest tale of heartbreak and hope in Ormond Beach, Florida, a sun-dappled haven where one woman finds the comfort she's always needed...

Petra Garfield has no real attachments tying her down to one place. She's ready for an adventure, so what could be better than an extended stay at Koi House with new friends and old in enchanting Ormond Beach. Having recently lost her mother, Petra is riddled with questions about the father she never knew. She certainly never thought she'd begin to find the answers in a tiny town in Florida...

As much as she wants to search for the truth, Petra knows she can't spend all her time wallowing in the past, and her friends at the Dreamweaver yarn shop aren't about to let her. The ladies encourage her to volunteer at a local animal shelter, where she hits it off with a young boy--and his handsome father. Tangled in secrets she didn't even know she had, Petra must learn to stitch her life back together even as she unravels lifelong mysteries--and perhaps she'll find unexpected happiness along the way...

Includes An Original Knitting Pattern! Praise for Terri DuLong's Cedar Key Novels

Meet the Author:

Born and raised north of Boston, Terri DuLong was a previous resident of Cedar Key, Florida. She now resides on the east coast of the state in Ormond Beach with her husband, three dogs and two cats. A retired Registered Nurse, she began her writing career as a contributing writer for Bonjour Paris, where she shared her travel experiences to France in over forty articles with a fictional canine narrator. Terri’s love of knitting provides quiet time to develop her characters and plots as she works on her new Ormond Beach novels.

You can visit her website at or at her Facebook fan page,

Book Feature: The Bone Cave by Sarah Remy


Inside the Book:

Title: The Bone Cave
Author: Sarah Remy
Publisher: Harper Voyager Impulse
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Format: Ecopy /Paperback

Past Stonehill Downs, beyond unforgiving scrubland and perilous mountain peaks, militant tribes gather on white sand . . .

With the Red Worm plague vanquished, and Malachi and Liam safely returned from Roue, Avani expects life in Wilhaiim to return to normal. But Mal has been changed by his journey across the long sea, and now walks dangerously close to the edge of madness, while the horrors of war in a foreign land have transformed Liam from a naïve lad to a young man seeking his place as sidhe among mortals.

And the plague has left chaos in its wake: Wilhaiim’s priests are rising against King Renault, a serial killer is taking vengeance on His Majesty's unwary subjects, and someone is using forbidden bone magic to kindle the Automata—mechanized monsters born of ancient necromancy.

As Avani works to contain unrest and expose a murderer, she is unaware that a far greater threat is rolling in from the east: a bloodthirsty desert army intent on destruction. Magic will be tested and friendship tried as Avani and Mal battle new peril and old temptation in this stunning follow up to Across the Long Sea.


What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
That I'm capable of writing in any surroundings no matter how busy if a deadline is pressing.
How many books have you written? Can you pick a favorite?
Five or six, now. My favorite is WINTER, a YA urban fantasy set in DC and Manhattan. I'm really attached to Winter as a character; he reminds me of myself. THE BONE CAVE is a close favorite. I'm enjoying the writing both Avani and Mal as they struggle with the temptation that comes with too much power. They both deal with that temptation in such different ways.
What do you think makes a great story?
An interesting character, a believable conflict, and a relatable resolution.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A veterinarian or an author. I'm not a vet, but I do have half a million animals. …maybe not that many. I've lost count.
What books have influenced your life the most?
Honestly, it changes depending on where I am in the adventure that is my life.  THE HOBBIT, when I read it in third grade, made me want to write fantasy. Harry Potter, when I read it in college, made me want to protect the magic that is my own individuality. Conan Doyle taught me about mysteries, Stephen King made me want to write monsters.
Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
I'm late to Maggie Stiefvater, but I read all of THE RAVEN CYCLE in a five day break I took between deadlines and adored them. As someone who dreams vividly every night, I was fascinated by the idea of dreaming things - wonderful things and evil things both - into reality.
If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?

I don't have a mentor; applications are open! 


In 1994 Sarah Remy earned a BA in English Literature and Creative Writing from Pomona College in California. Since then she’s been employed as a receptionist at a high-powered brokerage firm, managed a boutique bookstore, read television scripts for a small production company, and, more recently, worked playground duty at the local elementary school.

When she’s not taking the service industry by storm, she’s writing fantasy and science fiction. Sarah likes her fantasy worlds gritty, her characters diverse and fallible, and she doesn’t believe every protagonist deserves a happy ending.

Before joining the Harper Voyager family, she published with EDGE, Reuts, and Madison Place Press.

Sarah lives in Washington State with plenty of animals and people, both. In her limited spare time she rides horses, rehabs her old home, and supervises a chaotic household. She can talk to you endlessly about Sherlock Holmes, World of Warcraft, and backyard chicken husbandry, and she’s been a member of one of Robin Hobb’s longest-running online fan clubs since 2002.

Find Sarah on Twitter @sarahremywrites, and on Tumblr at huntpeck.

For More Information

Visit Sarah’s website.
Connect with Sarah

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Cover Reveal: Seducing Mr. Sykes by Maggie Robinson

Inside the Book:

Title: Seducing Mr. Sykes (Cotswold Confidential)
Author: Maggie Robinson
Publisher: Lyrical Press
Genre: Historical Romance
Format: Ecopy 

 In Maggie Robinson’s sparkling new series, the quaint village in Gloucestershire is where the wayward sons and daughters of Great Britain’s finest families come for some R&R—and good old-fashioned “rehab”. But sometimes they find much more . . .

No one at Puddling-on-the-Wold ever expected to see Sarah Marchmain enter through its doors. But after the legendary Lady’s eleventh-hour rejection of the man she was slated to marry, she was sent here to restore her reputation . . . and change her mind. It amused Sadie that her father, a duke, would use the last of his funds to lock her up in this fancy facility—she couldn’t be happier to be away from her loathsome family and have some time to herself. The last thing she needs is more romantic distraction . . .

As a local baronet’s son, Tristan Sykes is all too familiar with the spoiled, socialite residents of the Puddling Rehabilitation Foundation—no matter how real their problems may be. But all that changes when he encounters Sadie, a brave and brazen beauty who wants nothing more than to escape the life that’s been prescribed for her. If only Tristan could find a way to convince the Puddling powers-that-be that Sadie is unfit for release, he’d have a chance to explore the intense attraction that simmers between them—and prove himself fit to make her his bride . . .



Maggie Robinson is a former teacher, library clerk and mother of four who woke up in the middle of the night, absolutely compelled to create the perfect man and use as many adjectives and adverbs as possible doing so. A transplanted New Yorker, she lives with her not-quite perfect husband in Maine, where the cold winters are ideal for staying inside and writing hot historical romances. Her books have been or will be translated into French, German, Portuguese, Turkish, Russian, Japanese, Thai, Dutch and Italian.

CONNECT WITH MAGGIE: Website|Facebook|Twitter|Goodreads

Book Spotlight: Macaroni and Cheese for Thanksgiving by Cheryl C. Malandrinos

We're happy to host Cheryl Malandrinos' MACARONI AND CHEESE blog tour!  Please leave a comment to let Cheryl know you stopped by!

Author: Cheryl C. Malandrinos
Publisher: Guardian Angel Publishing
Pages: 16
Genre: Children’s Picture Book

Ten-year-old Macy is waiting for her grandparents to arrive on Thanksgiving. When the front door swings open, Grandma and Grandpa are covered with hugs and kisses. Crash! Everyone rushes in to find the dog gnawing a meaty turkey leg. Can Macy’s quick thinking save dinner?

Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Book Excerpt:

Moments later, the front door swung open. In walked Macy’s dad and grandparents. The family raced to the door to hug them.


“Oh no!” cried Mom. “What was that?”

About the Author

Cheryl C. Malandrinos is a freelance writer and editor. She is the author of Little Shepherd and A Christmas Kindness. A blogger and book reviewer, she lives in Massachusetts with her husband and two daughters. She also has a son who is married.


In the Spotlight: Unawqi: Hunter of the Sun by Kali Kucera

We're happy to have with us today Kali Kucera, author of the mythical realism book, UNAWQI, HUNTER OF THE SUN. Please leave a comment to let him know you stopped by!

Title: Unawai, Hunter of the Sun
Author: Kali Kucera
Publisher: Independent
Pages: 218
Genre: Mythical Realism

In a time when supernatural and industrial worlds are staged to collide, an Andean boy finds himself in the center of an epic struggle between the cosmos and the earth. Unawqi is born with both insurmountable power and a fate of certain death, both of which are challenged by his hunt of the emperor, Aakti, the Sun: the very force that desires to abandon the earth unless Unawqi can overcome him.

Premise: How easily we take the Sun for granted. We are conditioned to its rising and setting on time, and assume it enjoys doing so, or more likely is indifferent. Unawqi, Hunter of the Sun reveals a more perilous tale: the Sun, Aakti, is a being who is a reluctant player in providing light and warmth to our world, and even more has always desired to leave us to die if he didn’t have certain personal complications standing in his way. Aakti will stop at nothing to get what he wants, even if that involves murder of his own kin or annihilation of an entire living planet. Ironically, what holds him back is the very life he is creating; the family from which he tries to but cannot wrest control, and among them a young intrepid boy emerges, a hunter who sets out on a journey, not to stop the Sun, but to overcome him with a force we also take for granted: our humanity.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Book Excerpt:


Beware the empty chair. 
It was the only one unclaimed in the room of hungry diners in the basement of St. Rita’s church in Tacoma.  The legs were slightly turned out, as if an invisible waiter had pulled it back to let me slide in.  

Guilt had gotten the best of me to be there in the first place.  It was Thanksgiving morning, and a day earlier, my neighbors, who were never ones to shirk a promise, came to me with panic on their faces.  Their son’s house had burned down, they said, and they needed to leave immediately.  

I gave them my sympathies, but something else was bothering them still.  They had obligated themselves to help prepare free breakfast at St. Rita’s in the morning, an annual tradition for the city’s homeless.  I tried not to wince at the pious sound of it all, but I could sense what they were leading up to and I remembered the many times they'd watered my garden when I was out of town.  I knew my morning would be free before needing to drive to my aunt’s house for our family dinner, so, of course, I told my neighbors I would be glad to fill in for them and they should think no more of it.
Never having even been to St. Rita’s, I was loathe to socialize and threw myself into the work, but after a couple hours of scrambling eggs, I was impressed by my neighbor’s commitment to do this year after year.  My feet felt like two ends of a barbell, and I was just about ready to grab a plate myself and take a break.

If I had not been so tired, my finicky nature would have guided me to pass up the solitary chair and look for a less conspicuous corner of the room where perhaps there were fewer people.  The less forgiving angel on my shoulder bit me with the words: “You hypocritical, insincere, lazy ass.” It was right.  The people were streaming in through the door. Most had no home, no job, and no money.  Their bodies told their stories of broken dreams, crippling work, and damaged minds.  And here I was, fancying an emperor’s throne somewhere, so I could separate myself off to swallow my grits and baked apples?    

The lonely chair in front of me could have been reserved for someone else, so I asked the person sitting on the opposite side of the table if it was taken.  He said no, gestured for me to claim it, and I sat down with my plate and coffee without giving it another thought. 

It wasn’t until I looked back up that I noticed something about him seemed out of place.  I glanced at him across the table as he salted his eggs, observing how his right hand moved gracefully to the shaker.  He had none of the typical displays of mental edginess.  He was not disheveled, or weary on the brow.  His hair was combed, and he wore a leather jacket that didn’t bear a single tear.  His eyes were calm, like having emerged from a prayer, and he was happily occupied with his own thoughts. 
But his left hand remained fixed in place on the table, appearing to be hiding something underneath his palm.  

I must admit, it was also plain to me how strikingly handsome he was.  His jet black hair, and his face with the sheen of a brown eggshell suggested he was Latino, and I wondered what had brought him here, far from where he might have been born.

Normally, it’s prudent in these settings not to ask.  People are scarred enough by their circumstances and they don’t want to be interviewed as the price for their meal.  I wanted to protect his privacy and let him eat in peace, and in my own defense, didn’t want to unleash an emotional outbreak.  But still, his appearance challenged me, and his seeming self-confidence broke through my etiquette, and I asked him that inadvisable question anyway:  “So, what’s your story?”

His face sprung up like a soldier’s salute and he gave me a smile, wide with contentment.
“I am Unawqi.  I am hunting the Sun.”

It was such a terse thing to say, and he was so oddly composed in saying it, that I could only smile and nod back, disguising my disappointment, sure he was just as crazy as the rest, albeit happily crazy.  

I thought some more about the strangeness of his name, sounding out the phonemes in my mind.  Was it Finnish or Japanese?  Apache, perhaps?  A second later I thought again that maybe he was making a clever joke in order to break the ice.  After all, Tacoma has plenty of days of being overcast with gloomy clouds refusing to budge, and talking about the weather is indeed how we all usually start a conversation.  So I returned to him again and said, “Yes, the Sun has a lot of good hiding places in November.”

Unawqi dropped his fork on his plate and his eyes bore into me as if I had just given him the key to paradise.

“So you have seen him?” Unawqi beamed.

Regretting, now, that I had not taken the warning sign of the empty chair, I searched my mind for an excuse to get up and return to the kitchen.  But before I could finish my breakfast, Unawqi had lined out enough of his story that I found myself not only glued to my seat, but devoid of any fatigue or hunger but for the feast of his very next word.

I fell in love with Unawqi instantly, as I imagined everyone did.  In the first thirty minutes he made me laugh more than I had over the course of a year.  It puzzled me how such an energetically positive young man could end up in a basement of broken heartedness, but this only compelled me to listen all the more.

I wouldn’t be telling you this story if Unawqi was, in fact, merely making a joke about the weather.  His opening line was literally and plainly what he'd meant: he was a hunter, the Sun was his prey, and his extraordinary pursuit, which had begun ages ago, had finally brought him here, to Tacoma, of all places.  And it was here, in Tacoma, that he was just as zealous as he had always been to see his hunt come to an end.

Naturally, I had to ask why would one hunt the Sun, and this was when his story grew more complicated, his face showing pain, at many points, as he struggled to justify the emotional struggle of his journey.  

He set his plate aside, for the heaviness in his heart overtook any appetite he had left, and he reached out and took my hand, asking me to listen.

“Think back, if you will, to the first time your father took you for a walk in the night.  The darkness, how it horrified you.  It swallowed you whole, and the only link you had to the light was the touch of your father’s fingers in your palm.  So small and tenuous a wall, you remembered, separating your life from your death.  

"For a brief second he let go of your hand, to, instead, put it on your shoulder, and in that moment you felt what it was like to be forsaken.  You cried out in terror, and even when his hand returned, you realized it could leave again, throwing you into the vastness of space to be on your own.
"Still, he urged you to continue, to go further, deeper into space, farther away from home.  So you trusted him again, and you walked together until you shivered from the cold.  

"But for some reason still a mystery, imagine that he truly chose to let his hand go, and his voice to go silent.  You would pray it wasn't true, that he must soon return, and yet he would not.  No matter how many times you called, he would not answer.  He just left.

"This time you would be all alone, a boy, abandoned to face the boundless night, led to the loveless abyss, rejected by your own genesis, without a compass or line to find your way  back.

"No greater a cruelty can be imagined than this.  But this is just between one father and his son.  How much greater is the cruelty when the father casts a million sons, indeed, the whole world, to the abyss?

"That is the crime.  That is why I'm here.  

"But there is more, for now the father is no less the boy, and the boy no less his father.

"We are all in danger of casting each other out.”

Unawqi told me he was not hunting for sport or pleasure.  He was a bounty hunter of sorts, and the Sun had committed a crime against humanity, a preconceived crime that had not yet come to pass, but still could, if the right conditions were met.  It was a crime that Unawqi said he himself needed to overcome. Indeed, that we all must do the same, at some point or another.

My mind came around again to his left hand, which still had not moved. 
“And what is this you’re keeping?” I asked.

“Oh, this,’’ he answered with a little chagrin and lifting his palm.  “This is a gift.  A little silk worm I hope will bring me good fortune and make things right.”

The tiny insect was crawling around in a nest of straw, making spindles of silk that played with the overhead light.  This smallest of living things, manufacturing the miraculous in the middle of such a somber place, enchanted me to no end.  

Unawqi, of course, wanted to protect it, which is why he kept it covered so securely.  His hand was its shelter, its mighty fortress, and he would be certain to never abandon this creation for as long as he lived.

His story would not have come from Finland or Japan or the mesas of Arizona.  His beginning belonged to a patch of green, high in the Andes, where farmers herded goats, and unearthed potatoes, when they were not dancing to the sounds of their magical flutes.  It was a peaceful place, and he longed to return home, as soon as he was able, but only if he could bring the whole world home with him.

About the Author

Kali Kucera is an American lorist and short story writer living in Quito, Ecuador, where he also rides and writes about bus and train travel. Since he was 9 years old he has been composing plays, operas, short stories, and multi-disciplinary experiences. He has been both a teacher and performer as well as an arts mobilizer, and founded the Tacoma Poet Laureate competition in 2008.

His latest book is the mythical realism novel, Unawai, Hunter of the Sun.


Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Colorado Dream Book Blast!

We're happy to host Charlene Whitman's COLORADO DREAM book blast today!  Please leave a comment to let her know you stopped by!

Author: Charlene Whitman
Publisher: Ubiquitous Press
Pages: 450
Genre: Sweet Historical Western Romance

Yearning to become a concert musician, a young woman from New York travels to Colorado to purchase a violin, but when she meets a wild, untamable cowboy, her dream is threatened and her heart torn ...
In New York in 1877, Angela Bellini longs to become a concert violinist and get away from her abusive father. When her dream takes her to Greeley, Colorado, to purchase a violin from a master instrument maker, she learns she must wait three weeks until her violin is ready before she can head home.
Angela is determined not to let anything or anyone waylay her dream, but when she meets rough-and-tumble cowboy Brett Hendricks, her heart is torn. He is her opposite in every way—uncouth, cocky, and reckless. But she is hopelessly drawn to him, like a moth to flame.
Brett Hendricks is on the run—not just from an angry rancher who is tracking him down for shooting his son but from a dark and troubled past plaguing him with guilt and shame. A wild, untamable cowboy, Brett can break any horse with a soft touch and soothing word, but nothing in the world can bring him peace. He fears he will never stop running, never see his dreams of ranching realized.
But then, one evening, he hears sweet violin music that seeps deep into his soul--music that floods him with peace. He falls hard for Angela but knows she plans to leave Colorado. All his attempts to win her heart fail disastrously, and though he buries himself in the cattle roundup, when he helps thwart a rustling outfit, his enemies multiply.
Somehow he must find a way to gain Angela's heart and trust. And somehow Angela must break past her distrust of men to discover the love awaiting her with open arms.
Pick up your copy at:


Book Excerpt:
Chapter 1

September 9, 1877
New York City, New York

The slap on Angela Bellini’s cheek burned, but not as fiercely as the hurt in her heart. The pain and disappointment smoldering there sizzled like hot embers, threatening to reduce her to a pile of ash. She glared at her father’s back as he stomped out of the room.
Why couldn’t her papá understand? She would not marry Pietro, no matter how wealthy his family was, no matter how many years her papá and his had planned such an arrangement. “It is our way, Angela,” he had told her again, his face hard and eyes dark and menacing, leaving no room for debate. “And you will marry him. You are twenty years of age—you are lucky he is still willing. You’ve made him wait long enough.”
When she forced her objections past the rock lodged in her aching throat, she knew what would follow. What always followed. Her papá’s rage erupted in a torrent of Italian curses that ended with a slap that knocked her nearly senseless against the foyer wall before he stormed out the apartment.
As she slid down in a heap by the front door, she had caught a glimpse of her mamá in the kitchen, her back turned to her in unspoken submission. Angela huffed. I will never marry and become like you, Mamá—squashed under the thumb of some man who wants only subservience and a crowded apartment full of squalling babies.
 She swallowed back tears. She would not cry—not today. Today she would take the first steps—real steps—toward her dream. And no one, not even the powerful and prominent Giusepe Bellini could stop her.
Their tiny stuffy apartment rumbled—as it always did six times a day and twice each night—from the Third Avenue El Train fifty feet away. The noise of the wheels clacking and the platform rattling mingled with the loud voices of her downstairs neighbors arguing—Mr. Paolino’s tenor to his wife’s shrill soprano. Outside her window, carriages clattered on cobblestones in sharp staccato, and shoppers and merchants carried on in boisterous conversation, sounding no more pacifying than an orchestra tuning their instruments.
On most days Angela could drown out the suffocating symphony of Mulberry Bend by rehearsing violin caprices in her head, imagining her fingers flying over the fingerboard, her right hand bowing the strings, eliciting the sweet and sonorous timbre of her instrument.
But on this stifling, humid September afternoon, the many pieces she’d memorized—no, absorbed into her very soul, as if food that nourished her—flitted away, out of reach, as she pulled down the heavy carpetbag from the hall closet—a bag that she’d found months ago stuffed behind a stack of wool blankets.
She stopped and listened. Her mama was humming in the back room as she folded laundry. Her two younger siblings were off playing with neighborhood children—in the street, no doubt, as the sweltering heat was worse indoors.
Angela’s hands shook as she dabbed her perspiring forehead and neck with a handkerchief and went through her mental list of all she would need on her trip. Not much—she’d only be gone ten, perhaps, twelve days, if all went as planned. She pushed from her thoughts her papá’s impending fury at her insolence and the resulting punishments that would await her upon her return. But she had made her decision, and there was no turning back.
Hurry, she told herself. Her papá had gone downstairs to the corner market, and while he often spent an hour or more on Sunday afternoons smoking cigars with the men of the neighborhood, discussing the politics of her close-knit Italian community and their various business ventures—and arranging their daughters’ marriages, she thought bitterly—he could return at any time.
In her bedroom, she gathered the neat stack of clothes she had put in her bottom dresser drawer, then stuffed them into the traveling bag along with her few womanly items, her prayer book, some sheets of music, and a spare pair of shoes. She checked her reticule and found the roll of bills—the money she’d earned over the last two years from babysitting and teaching music lessons through Signore Bianchi’s instrument shop on Second Avenue. She hoped it would be enough for the quality of violin she planned to buy.
Mr. Fisk hadn’t answered her inquiry regarding pricing in his letter. He merely assured her he would provide her with an exceptional instrument and that they would work out the financial details once she arrived in Greeley, Colorado.
Would her meager savings be enough? It had to be, for she couldn’t return to New York and face the audition committee without a proper instrument.
The director’s words still stung. “You’re a talented musician, Miss Bellini. But you bring shame to your craft by playing on such an inferior violin. Come back when you have an appropriate instrument.” The three committee members had politely frowned when she flustered an apology and hurried to the exit of the symphony hall, pressing down her humiliation and frustration as tears welled in her eyes.
Her papá could well afford to buy her a violin of exceptional quality, and every year at Christmas she begged him to indulge her love of playing with the purchase of a new one, but he only laughed in cool disdain and waved her away. “Give up your foolish dreams, Angela. Your place is in the home, with a husband and children. Not on the stage.” Her papá regarded music appropriate only at holidays and festivals and family gatherings, and only traditional song and instrumentation. He didn’t—couldn’t—understand this dream she nursed. The dream to play in the New York Philharmonic, to play on stage before an audience, to be a part of the creation of ethereal music that filled a great performance hall and moved listeners to tears.
To make matters worse, her older brother, Bartolomeo, sided with their papá, constantly nagging her to “get married already and stop being a burden on the family.” Although he was but two years older, he and Dora had three children. And Dora—and most of Angela’s other girlfriends from her school days, who were also married—gave her constant looks of pity, as if Angela was missing out on life’s greatest joy. But they just didn’t understand.
She had to fan the tiny spark of her dream to keep it alive, to prevent it from being snuffed out by her papá’s stern expectations and society’s demands. And it had nearly been extinguished a month ago, upon her papá’s brash public announcement of her engagement to Pietro—an arrogant youngest son of a successful wine merchant who had no love for music—none whatsoever. She harbored no hope that he would ever understand her passionate need to play the violin, and no doubt he’d forbid her pursuit of her dream.
And then she’d read an article in the Times about one George Fisk, a master violin maker in a newly founded town in the West—a place called Greeley. On a whim she’d written him. Why? She didn’t know. She could purchase a violin in Manhattan—one of sufficient quality. But there was something about the description of this man, Fisk. The way he spoke about the instruments he made. The care and time and love he put into each one. He built his instruments with a passion and love for beauty and music that resonated with her. For, she wanted more than a good violin. She wanted one that spoke to her soul, one made just for her. George Fisk promised he could provide just that. But she had to travel halfway across the continent. Was she willing? he’d asked her.
Yes, she wrote him. Yes, more than willing. Although, she’d never traveled outside of the city, and the thought of venturing into wild country, alone, made her stomach twist. But Fisk had told her not to worry. He would see to her accommodations and show her around his “wonderful little Western town.” And she had to admit—she was ready for an adventure.
She looked around her cramped tiny bedroom situated in a crowded apartment in a busy, noisy city. I’m more than ready for peace and quiet, and to get away from Papá’s mean spirit and violent temper.
What must it be like to stand under a wide-open sky spattered with stars, with no neighbors quarreling or trains rattling or horses’ hooves clacking on stones? Her heart yearned for such open space, for such silence. Silence that longed to be filled with beautiful music. She imagined nature itself performing a symphony of birdsong and coyote howls and water cascading over rocks. Those were some of the images her mind drifted to as she played, and she longed to merge her own musical voice to that of creation, if even just for a day or two.

About the Author

The author of "heart-thumping" Western romance, Charlene Whitman spent many years living on Colorado's Front Range. She grew up riding and raising horses, and loves to read, write, and hike the mountains. She attended Colorado State University in Fort Collins as an English major. She has two daughters and is married to George "Dix" Whitman, her love of thirty years. 

The Front Range series of sweet historical Western romance novels (set in 1876) includes Colorado Promise, set in Greeley, Colorado; Colorado Hope, set in Fort Collins; Wild Secret, Wild Longing, which takes readers up into the Rockies, and Colorado Dream (release date 11/15/16) and Wild Horses, Wild Hearts (release date 1/1/17).

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