Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Memoir Book Blast: A Cat Taught Me That by Charlotte Gerber


http://fireandicebooktours.wordpress.com/2014/09/12/memoir-book-blast-a-cat-taught-me-that-lifes-lessons-from-felines-by-charlotte-gerber-1012014/


Book Blast Date: 10/1/2014
Genres: Memoir, Humor






Blurb:
Catnap often. Don’t be a stalker unless food is involved. Despite the rumor, it is okay to be curious! A Cat Taught Me That is filled with humorous advice and the wisdom of elder cats that includes information on how to get more out of life, and how to avoid common pitfalls along the way. Cat lovers will enjoy the adorable photographs and cute illustrations throughout.
Celebrity cat ‘Awesome Louie’ provides insight with his gritty cat interviews, as well as sage advice with his “Mewsings” column. Short essays from the cat-lady author will bring smiles to the faces of readers who have learned that “Not All That Glitters is Gold” and “To Be Kissed By a Cat” can have unintended consequences.

Excerpt:



“A Little Indulgence is Okay”
I’m Louie and I’ve been told I have a problem with cat treats. Of course, a problem is in the eye of the beholder. In my eyes, loving cat treats isn’t a problem unless I run out of them.
After I was rescued, I learned three things about my caregiver and new best friend. First, food was readily available day or night; I would never be hungry again. Second, I was now living in a house that was warm and cozy; freezing outside in the winter was highly unlikely. Third, I learned about this tasty food called “snacks”. I would come to love it when my caregiver announced the magical words with enthusiasm – “Kitty treats!”
When I was first introduced to this fabulous dining experience, the flavors included turkey, beef and chicken. Eventually catnip and dairy-flavored treats entered the scene. Once I tasted those little nuggets of goodness, I was hooked.
I perfected the sad kitty face, which is subtle and very effective when done properly. The trick is to look longingly at your target and try not to blink. Raise a paw in a slightly pathetic manner towards the treat container as the caregiver opens it – a classic move.
While my owner swears that she may check me into a clinic for cats with food addictions, she is more purr than hiss. I know that the next time she comes home from the pet store with kitty snacks, she’ll rattle the bag because she knows I’m listening. I’ll come racing into the kitchen like a furry, 16 pound bowling ball on steroids, and she’ll love me for it. And give me treats.
Take it from me, you can never be too furry or have too many treats!

Buy Links:
Amazon
Createspace
Barnes and Noble



About the Author:
Charlotte Gerber began her writing career penning content articles on the Internet. Her articles have appeared on LoveToKnow.com and the New York Times/About.com Disability site, as well as numerous other outlets. She is also the author of Murder in Middleton and I Dream of Zombies (Rose Lee’s Zombie Adventures series).
Charlotte lives in upstate New York with her husband Gregg, two teenage children, one dog and ten rescued cats.  She is a disability advocate, a supporter of animal rescue missions and the U.S. Military.

Connect With the Author:
Website
Twitter

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Science Fiction/Fantasy Spotlight and Giveaway: Jigsaw World by JD Lovil

http://fireandicebooktours.wordpress.com/2014/08/30/fantasy-book-tour-giveaway-jigsaw-world-by-jd-lovil-91514-92214/


Virtual Book Tour Dates: 9/15/14 – 9/22/14
Genres: Science Fiction, Fantasy, Metaphysical
Tour Promotion: This book will be FREE 9/17 to 9/21 and $.99 after this





Blurb:

In some worlds, there are monsters behind every catastrophe.

Tom lives in one of those worlds, and he is blessed, or cursed, to be able to see the monsters. He learns that the world is not supposed to be that way, and it is a symptom of the breakdown of Reality.

Sometimes, the world drafts you to save it.

Tom realizes that he and the people he gathers in his travels are supposed to fix the world. He doesn’t know how, and he doesn’t know why, but the fates are conspiring to make him a reluctant hero. Anyone that knew Tom would know that was not flattering, just inconvenient and idiotic. Tom suspected that he should be siding with the monsters.

What do you do when the Monster is in the mirror? 

People around Tom have a habit of turning up dead. Some of the deaths he knows he had a hand in, and most of those deserved death, at least in some psychedelic lights. Others turn up dead, and Tom has no memory of it, but he does have a suspect; Himself.

If he repairs the world, will there still be a place in it for a monster like him?

Excerpt:
Something soft and pliable surrounded his face, and his hands were clutching the same sort of thing. Tom still smelled the aroma of Lavender. He opened his eyes, and looking up slightly, he saw the well proportioned navel in the black landscape that was Veritasia. His hands gripped her beautiful ass, and her legs were wrapped comfortably around him. Being properly positioned, he went in for a quick kiss on the lips that never speak.
This must have served for waking her up. The next few moments were taken up by the need to renew and reinforce some late night memories that they had created last night. Tom had always considered Halle Berry to be an ideal womanly body of sorts, but he would not have traded the acrobatics that he and Veritasia engaged in last night, even for Halle. If there was anything wrong with Halle’s body, it would be that her boobs were just slightly too big. Veritasia’s was perfect.
They had pulled into this rest stop for the night, and everyone had taken advantage of the opportunity to sleep. Tom had also taken advantage of the opportunity of trying for touching that irresistibly gleaming dark skin that was consuming his attention.
To his surprise, she had responded very positively to his advances. This came as a relief to Tom, as he had determined to have her, and he really didn’t want to have to clean up any loose ends afterwards. He also wasn’t sure how many others of the group would have become loose ends if they saw him dispose of her. All water under the bridge now. He could have his fun, and everybody got to live.
He went out to find whatever passed for a tourism building in this rest stop. He finally found it on the last path that he looked for it, and found that it had a map showing that the border of Arkansas was ten miles ahead, and at the border they would be treated to the great Metropolis of Paw Paw, Arkansas, population 812.
He returned to the RV, where he found that the womenfolk had banded together to brew a pot of coffee, cook an egg, bacon and toast breakfast, and gossip. He got a cup of the coffee and a plate of the breakfast. He also got a lingering kiss from Veritasia, fetching immediate glares from Sally and Charla. Tom wasn’t sure why Charla would be upset, but he decided to file it away for a rainy day.
Tom had a vague sense that a long time ago, this sort of situation would have been much more traumatic to him then than it was now. He had no memory of this, for the period was probably back more than the twenty year limit on his memories. Somewhere along the way, he had got the hang of being unconcerned by other people’s reactions to him or about him. You get more girls, you get less pain, and it makes disposing of loose ends a much simpler matter.
“Our next stop will be the wonderful Arkansas town of Paw Paw, which is one of the thousands of towns that has apparently popped up out of thin air.” Tom said to the group. “It seems to have replaced the city of Texarkana.”


Buy Links:
Amazon





About the Author:
JD Lovil is the writer of a series of cross genre science fiction novels dealing with the existence of a multitude of parallel earths as required by the Many Worlds interpretation of Quantum Theory. He enjoys writing books which are essentially ‘stand alone’ books, but with similar rules and circumstances, and with some cross-over of characters. 
Originally from Arkansas, JD Lovil now lives in Phoenix, Arizona. Visit his website at http://jdlovil.jimdo.com/


Author Links:
Website
Facebook
Twitter
Goodreads


Giveaway 9/15/14 – 9/22/14:
Two Prize Packages!
Package Number One: Win a $25 Amazon gift card and an ebook copy of the ‘Worlds of Man’ anthology of the first three novels .
Package Number Two: Win ebook copies of ‘Worldship Praxis’, ‘Shadow of Worlds’, and ‘Vanguard of Man’.
Winners will be randomly selected after the tour is over and contacted by the author for delivery. Open internationally. To enter, simply leave a comment on the tour post with your email address! For more chances to win, follow the tour and comment at every stop.
 

New Adult Spotlight/Giveaway: A Soul To Shine by Jennifer Ott


http://fireandicebooktours.wordpress.com/2014/08/29/new-adult-book-tour-giveaway-a-soul-to-shine-by-jennifer-ott-91114-10914/


Virtual Book Tour Dates: 9/11/14 – 10/9/14
Genres: Literary Fiction, New Adult







About the Book:

Quote:
“You and I are now time itself, not just the city,
The whole world is taking part in our decision.
We are more than just the two of us now.
We embody something.
We are sitting in the People’s Square
And it’s full of people with the same dream as ours.
We define the game for all.
I’m ready.”
Wings of Desire
Wim Wenders
Peter Handke
 

Blurb:
From the outside, starlet Olivia Hammond has it all—fame, fortune and a Hollywood hunk boyfriend. No one suspects her rising self-doubts and anxieties. In order to escape the realities of her chaotic world, she dives into an Oscar quality role of a young woman trapped in the horrors of postwar Berlin. It is here that Olivia feels most comfortable.
Her real and fictional lives collide when the director casts Dimitri Malakhov, a Russian porn star, as her costar. She immediately fears her image and reputation will be tainted. Personally and professionally, she must face what frightens her most—exposing herself, her fears, her imperfections and her desires to the world.
The experience of filming the movie with Dimitri and being on location in Berlin destroys her prejudices and judgments. It shatters all her illusions and perceptions. When liberated from her own confines, her life and love truly shine.
Manchmal das Herz muss zerstört werden, um zu heilen.
Sometimes the heart needs to be broken in order to heal.

Excerpt:
Wings of Desire
The theater was surprisingly crowded for a weekday afternoon. Olivia wondered if the patrons were tourists or Berliners. From the voices, she heard they were mostly native. Olivia paid for their tickets. Dimitri bought a round of beers and the two found seats in the darkened theater.
Both were sullen and quiet as other people entered to watch the movie. Olivia listened to the soft German whispers. She glanced at Dimitri, who seemed a mile away. There was no doubt his mind was on Daniella. It had to be the worst feeling, making love to a man knowing he loved another woman. Guilt, shame and overwhelming disappointment shrouded her once liberated mood.
Soon after the movie began, Olivia started to cry, but it wasn’t the movie. She felt as though she was watching her own life. Why am I me? Why am I not you? Who am I? The questions were so complex, yet so simple. If the questions were so simple, why are they so hard to answer?
She didn’t remember when sadness annexed her life, but she was able to see it in pictures and hear it in her voice. She became crass and blunt. What was it that made me this way? Was it really Trent? I care for him. He is a good man. Is it movies? Is it the fans, the media? There was really no one she could blame her angst on; it just existed inside her. Numbness arose when there was no release. Sex became unfulfilling. The limelight ceased to excite. Designer gowns did not differ from ten-dollar rags. The movies she made no longer inspired.
Wings of Desire character Marion struck her deeply—the winged beauty on the trapeze. She flew so high and with ease for everyone to admire, but inside she was haunted by sadness and fear. No one saw her pain; she never showed it, yet every performance she thought of letting go and falling to her death. Every performance was a near act of suicide. This is my life, Olivia thought.
 
Buy Links:
Amazon


About the Author:

 
Inspiration comes from watching way too much Monty Python. The abstract and the absurd way of looking at normal life, not only offers humor, but questions many problems in society in a light-hearted manner. If we can laugh at ourselves, if we can laugh at life, problems do not seem quite so difficult to tackle.  In fact, problems are not as complicated as they seem; everything is very simple. If you can laugh at it, write about it and read about it, most likely one would think about it.
Author Jennifer Ott has written several satire fiction, Wild Horses, The Tourist and two non-fiction books Love and Handicapping and Ooh Baby Compound Me! She recently published, Serenidipidus and Edge of Civilization. She also is the host of the SuperJenius Internet Radio show on Artist First radio Network.
Jennifer Ott lives in Long Beach, California, enjoys the sun, the sand, the surf and lots of Mexican food.

Connect With Jennifer Ott:
Twitter
Pinterest 
Website 
The Super Jenius Show
Youtube
 
Giveaway:
There are two giveaways on this tour! Enter to win a $50 Amazon gift card through Rafflecopter. Open internationally! Then, enter to win one of two print copies of A Soul To Shine through Goodreads! This giveaway is restricted to residents of the US, UK, Australia and Canada. The giveaways will run the length of the tour.
a Rafflecopter giveaway



Goodreads Book Giveaway

A Soul To Shine by Jennifer Ott

A Soul To Shine

by Jennifer Ott

Giveaway ends October 10, 2014.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win


Friday, September 5, 2014

Science Fiction Spotlight: The Survivors by Angela White

http://fireandicebooktours.wordpress.com/2014/08/12/free-fantasy-book-tour-the-survivors-by-angela-white-81814-91514/


Virtual Book Tour Dates: 8/18/14 – 9/15/14
Genres: Fantasy, Action Adventure, Science Fiction
Tour Promo Price: Free









Blurb:

“This is Safe Haven Refugee Camp. Can anyone hear me?
Hello? Is anyone out there?”

“The End of the world has given us a harsh, merciless existence, where nature tries hard to push mankind to the very brink of extinction. Everything is against us, between us… 

“Untold miles of lawless, apocalyptic roads wait for our feet, and the Future, cold and dark, offers little comfort. Without CHANGE, there will be no peace. Only Survivors.”

Set along the lines of The Stand and The Postman, this is a chilling vision of the collapse of all society in the year 2012 and the rebirth of a nation by those who survived. It’s so much more than just another fantasy series.”  -The Review Shop

From dangerous trips into dark, apocalyptic cities, to patriotic rescues and furious revelations, Life After War is an action packed fantasy series where those left alive must come to terms with their mistakes in the old world, while fighting for a place in the new one. It’s the apocalyptic fantasy series that Stephen King fans have been searching for. This way, please…

Summary in 20 words or less
An action adventure quest, with a supernatural romance, and many other subplots, set during the aftermath of the apocalypse.

So what’s really in this series? Here’s a short list:

*The End of the World, right-up-close and full of apocalyptic horror.
*A government conspiracy that caused the apocalypse.
*An adventure into the wastelands to find family, supplies, and safety.
*A supernatural romance with a dangerous secret about a child’s parentage and a love strong enough to survive the end of the world.
*An invasion, ambushes, attacks from Nature and man – guns and magic.
*A refugee camp with very different laws, picking up those who’ve survived.
*A Hero you’ll love, even as you ponder the secrets that could lose him leadership.
*A Witch, a Doctor, a government Storm Tracker, a TV Star, and three Marines struggling to keep their people alive and together as they prepare to defend themselves against Cesar’s Slavers.
*A constant battle for survival that includes deadly trips into decaying American cities, insanity, relics of the past, and ghosts that stalk their every move.

Life After War. Magic and Reality blended into a post-apocalyptic fantasy series that you won’t ever forget.

The Survivors (book one) has been a bestseller on multiple retailers in fantasy series, dark fantasy, science fiction adventure, and romance series. It has sold, or been downloaded, more than 100K times.

www.amazon.com/Survivors-Book-One-Life-After-ebook/dp/B0049B31FW



Watch the book trailer on Youtube


Excerpt:
Like most days, the sound of the ocean haunts me.
My name is Angela. I’m a mother, doctor, soldier, and now, in the year 2017, I am a leader of men. Thanks to the nuclear war that ended our world, I’ve become the guardian of an American refugee camp called Safe Haven.
Surrounded by carefully watching guards, I sit in front the immense Pacific Ocean as my people work and play nearby, confident my army will look after them while I tell you about the War, and about how we were forced to flee our beloved country in the awful aftermath. The apocalypse was a nightmare from which we couldn’t wake. Some of us still haven’t, and soon we’ll be at the water’s mercy again. In less than two months, we are going home.
The real America waits for us to reclaim and to rebuild, but mostly, simply, for us to return. Before we undertake that perilous journey, I have to get the three hundred fifty-seven souls here ready for the trip, and I only know one way it can be done—Adrian has to come back and lead us home, as he promised.
Adrian… That incredibly patriotic man has been exiled, even though he is the only reason we survived. His secret was the excuse the camp needed to turn on him, but I won’t do that. I can’t. I swore myself to him the same as the rest of his Council, and like them, I still believe.
I’ve gotten way ahead of myself, far beyond the beginning, when our future didn’t look as good is it does now. Most people here in New America won’t talk about the War or the long, ugly journey we made together. They say the memories have faded, but I know a lie when I hear one. Some horrors you never forget. Like our final battle with Cesar and his large band of ruthless Mexican guerillas.
It’s been five years, but I still see the deep red streams of blood running down rain-soaked trees. I still smell men burning alive in their metal coffins. I dream of it sometimes, of the cold, wet night when I was the bait, and I’m sure Adrian does too. It was the moment we knew our people would live—because of one man’s dream and his terrible lies.
Adrian kept us alive, gave us everything he had, and he always did what was best for the camp, no matter what it cost him personally. He taught us to be stronger than we thought we could be, to look out for each other and ourselves and through it all he lied by omission. He knew these scared, hurting survivors would never have trusted him, would never have given him a chance, if they’d known who he really was.
We came a long way together in the year after the War, thousands of miles of heartbreaking devastation, and it hurts those of us who remain loyal to see him accept their unfair judgment without a fight. It makes everything we went through seem less important than it was, weakens the magic somehow, and I can’t allow that.
I’ve been seeing open doors again, and that sly ocean cautions me, says the return trip will be just as hard as the one we undertook to get here. If there’s a storm headed toward the flock, it’s our Shepherd we’ll need to see us through it.
So, for Adrian and for those of us standing by him, still ready to die for him, and for the dreams he made me believe in from almost the first minute I set foot in his refugee camp, I will tell our story and leave nothing out. Maybe then, these people will realize what he did for our country, accept how much we owe him, and allow him to reclaim what’s rightfully his—us.
Before I tell you about our harsh, ugly journey, let me show you what happened on that day, what they did to us and what we did to each other. This is how America’s story of survival began…

Buy Links:
Amazon
Barnes and Noble
iTunes
Smashwords
Kobo





About The Author:
Hello,
I’m Angie. (Pen name)
Little pleases me more than to explore the dark fantasy and horror stories in my head. Knowing other people like them, is second only to the magic of this new career I’ve chosen. As a die-hard Cincinnatian, I much prefer writing to the stresses of being a city Taxicab dispatcher. Thank you for making my dreams possible, and for looking at this page!
Now that the pleasantries are out of the way, lets you and I take a little stroll. There’s a story I need to let out of its cage and I think it’s one you need to hear. It’s about the end of the world as we know it…
Note: Many of my books were removed until the new editors, Kim and Sharon, and I, could get them into top shape. It was clear from the reviews, that we had a lot of work to do. We began in Feb. As of Oct., we now have 9 of 11 titles finished and back online for your reading pleasure. The remaining books will return as soon as we finish them.

Connect With The Author:
Website
Facebook

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The Tender Herb: A Murder in Mughal India by Lexie Conyngham #Guestpost & Spotlight

http://fireandicebooktours.wordpress.com/2014/08/15/historical-crime-fiction-tour-giveaway-the-tender-herb-a-murder-in-mughal-india-by-lexie-conyngham-9114-91514/


Virtual Book Tour Dates: 9/1/14 – 9/15/14
Genres: Historical Crime Fiction, Scottish, Georgian, Early 19th. Century
Tour Promo Price: $.99





Blurb:

1812 – Recovering in Naples from the intrigues of Scottish politics, Charles Murray is drawn further afield by urgent news of an old servant in distant Mughal India. Going to the aid of one woman, he finds another and is pursued by a third. But that is no recipe for an easy life, and with imperial spies on the streets of Delhi, Murray must investigate the murder that brought him to the East, and redeem himself in his own eyes.
The Tender Herb is the sixth in the Murray of Letho series.


Excerpt:
Mary was in trouble.
The words, echoing like gunshots, had been bouncing around Henry Robbins’ head since the letter had arrived in Edinburgh – well, since it had reached him in Queen Street, a few days later. Mary was in trouble, and everything since had been a scramble, a rush, as near a panic as Robbins ever came, to think of and prepare for the best way of extracting her.
Part of the problem, even with hurrying, was that the letter had taken ten months to arrive. That was not a bad time for letters from inland India, but it still mocked his urgency. Then, even when the ship had arrived in Leith, he had not been there to collect the letter, had not even been expecting it. Patie, the groom next door, had happened to be at Leith waiting for a horse and had picked up the letter from a shilpit manservant who was trying to see the contents against a watery sun. He had delivered it triumphantly to Robbins and had then hung around for nearly an hour, clearly wearing to find out what was in it. Robbins, however, was impervious to Patie’s hint-dropping blather, and Patie eventually left unrewarded, except by a tankard of very good ale.
Robbins did not touch the ale. Instead, he waited until he had heard the mews gate close behind Patie, and then, alone in the big blue-green kitchen, he broke the seal and drew a breath.
Mary’s handwriting, as sharp and black as her extraordinary triangular eyebrows, strode forcefully across the cover, undeterred by whatever horrors the letter had seen on its travels through the Presidencies of the Honourable East India Company. She had left Edinburgh for India with her new husband, Aeneas Maclachlan, in the autumn of 1810, so this must have been written almost as soon as she had arrived. Robbins, losing in the one woman a fellow servant and a friend, had done his best to forget all about her: he had not expected a correspondence. Now that it was here, he was almost reluctant to open it.
Since he had, and had read the determined lines inside, he had scarcely paused to eat or sleep. In the course of a day or two, he had visited Simpson, his master’s man of business; he had written to his master’s estate in Letho to summon a servant to replace him in the Edinburgh house, and he had called on his master’s oldest friend in the Old Town, seeking information and advice, and receiving it. Finally, he walked down the hill to Leith, and purchased himself a passage – not to India, but to Italy. Then he went back to Queen Street, to pack.

II
‘I don’t care if you have to turn Hindoo, Daniel: you’ll still marry the girl.’
Daniel, his usual confidence somewhat diminished in the face of his master’s anger, stood looking sheepish in a pool of hot July sunlight. Murray had opened one of the tall wooden shutters, hoping for a breath of air to drift in from the rose-pink Neapolitan piazza, but even in his shirtsleeves he felt stifled. Daniel was wearing his usual thick coat and, irritatingly, did not even seem to be sweating. Daniel had adapted to the Neapolitan life very well – perhaps a little too well, to judge by the present situation.
‘When is the child due?’ Murray asked reluctantly.
‘In October, she reckons, sir.’
‘Then you haven’t much time, have you? You’d better find an accommodating priest.’ Murray rose and stalked over to the window, wishing Daniel had announced his unplanned breeding in a colder season. He stood with his back to the hot light, and studied his manservant. The room about them was solid, spare and a little severe, old white walls, stone floor and wooden furniture anciently dark. Daniel was a contrast, though: young, cheerful and daft. The trouble was – well, there were several troubles, for the girl so inconveniently expecting Daniel’s child was also Murray’s cook – the trouble was that you could not help liking Daniel. He was even becoming quite a competent servant, and given a few decades might make a reasonable husband and father. ‘Do you love the girl?’ he asked in the end.
He half-expected Daniel to shrug, to look bewildered as he searched for some meaning in Murray’s words, but instead an expression of determination came over his healthy face.
‘I do, sir,’ he announced. Murray nodded.
‘Then try Father Piero at Santa Croce – I hear he is a kindly man. You’d better go now, Daniel. Wait – is the girl keeping well?’
‘Aye, sir,’ Daniel beamed suddenly. ‘She’s blooming like – like a morning glory!’
‘My, Daniel,’ Murray remarked drily. ‘Off you go before you start writing poetry.’ He turned back to the window, and his sharp intake of breath stopped Daniel in his tracks.
‘What’s the matter, sir?’
‘You’ll never believe who’s just appeared in the street,’ said Murray, a worried frown on his face. Daniel’s eyebrows asked the question for him. ‘It’s Robbins,’ announced Murray, ‘unless I’m very much mistaken, it’s Henry Robbins.’


Buy Links:
Smashwords
Amazon Kindle
Amazon Paperback
Amazon UK
Amazon UK Paperback


About The Author:
Lexie Conyngham is a historian living in North-East Scotland and has been writing stories since she knew people did. When she can escape from teaching, she divides her time between writing, gardening and knitting.


Author Links:
Website
Pinterest


Giveaway:
Three lucky winners will win Death in a Scarlet Gown, first in the Murray of Letho series, signed by the author. Open internationally. Enter at Goodreads by clicking here.



Goodreads Book Giveaway

Death in a Scarlet Gown by Lexie Conyngham

Death in a Scarlet Gown

by Lexie Conyngham

Giveaway ends September 16, 2014.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win


Guest Post by Lexie Conyngham:




A writer in the art gallery.

I often pootle round art galleries (Aberdeen City Art Gallery or the National Gallery in Edinburgh are my most frequent haunts, but I’ll go anywhere there’s art), or sit either staring at one painting or watching the people who visit. I’m interested in many forms of art, but for me the figurative is most likely to lead to the narrative.

Alexander Carse’s painting, The Visit of the Country Relations (1812) is an excellent example and nearly does all the work for you. It’s not only a fine interior scene but a beautifully observed socially awkward moment as the old-fashioned aunt and cousin arrive to a languidly welcoming fashionable city family.

The first painting directly to influence a book was John Pettie’s Two Strings to her Bow (1882, but a Regency image). I saw it on the cover of Scottish Memories back in 1997, and had to buy the magazine so that I could take the cover home. It inspired a chunk of my fourth book, An Abandoned Woman, which I was writing at the time. The picture is of a girl on the arms of two gentlemen, neither of whom looks too happy to be sharing her favours. The girl in my head is Parnell Kirk, a pretty flirt, who only really comes to life when men are around: the cheery painting conveys the girl’s delight at having the undivided attention of two beaus, just like Parnell. It also inspired the song she sings in the book, ‘The first I saw my lady it was in the month of May’.

The next is a painting I bought in an antique cum junk shop about ten years ago, an amateurish copy of a more famous painting I completely failed to recognise. What I saw was a stylish young man, not very grand but confident, against a background that to me looked semi-tropical, with a small domed building in the distance. This was the very image in my head of Sparrow, a young man Murray meets on his way out to India. As I paid for it, the shopkeeper said, ‘A copy of the Burns portrait, of course – that’s the Burns Memorial in Alloway in the background.’ I kicked myself. But it’s not awfully like Burns, and anyway, who better to overlook a Scottish writer’s desk than the National Bard of Scotland?

This next picture is no use. I fell for it in the National Gallery of Scotland a few years ago. It’s a small, discreet, charming French oil painting of a half-fallen tree in open woodland, clear and bright transport to an exact place and weather as the sunlight falls on pale, broken wood and fresh green leaves. It caught me like a view through an unexpected window. There’s no story in it, for me, anyway. I just know the place exactly and the light, though I’ve never been there. I love woodland.

A Mythological Subject by Piero di Cosimo is the next painting, previously thought to be the Death of Procris, but why would a satyr be there? A satyr mourns over a dead nymph: she is wearing a particularly elaborate pair of sandals, and in the background hounds and herons mind their own business. The hand the satyr lays on the nymph’s bare shoulder is solid, brotherly, as his finger brushes her white forehead. Her hands are strangely contorted in death. Here there’s definitely a story, and one day I’ll work out how to tell it.

Then finally there’s the one that got away. There’s a story, too, in Paolo Uccello’s Hunt by Night: the riders, the runners, the horses, light as the deer they are pursuing, dogs and prey, the mingling converging figures sucked into a distant darkness. But Uccello tells this one too well: I could never improve on it. Its power is not to be told any further than it already is.

There’s a postcard of another painting on my desk at present, Sir David Wilkie’s portrait of William Chalmers Bethune and his wife and daughter (1804). In my next book, Death of an Officer’s Lady, there’ll be an older couple and their young maid and this is what they look like. This time the painting’s not telling the story, just giving me the materials to work with.

And next time I’m hunting for a plot or a character, I’ll be back in a gallery, communing with the art works, and whether I find what I’m looking for in the paintings or the visitors, I know I’ll not come away empty-handed.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Sci-Fi Spotlight: Twinkle by SJ Parkinson #Giveaway

http://fireandicebooktours.wordpress.com/2014/07/16/science-fiction-book-tour-giveaway-twinkle-by-sj-parkinson-73114-82814/


Virtual Book Tour Dates:  7/31/14 - 8/28/14

Genres: Science Fiction







Blurb:
The richest man in the world wants to celebrate the July 4th holiday as never before. In a bid to get into the record books, a global fireworks show is staged from orbit. Satellites drop pyrotechnics into the atmosphere, thrilling everyone from the Arctic to the Antarctic with their rich colors and massive explosions in every time zone.

The next day, people around the globe begin to lose their sight. Governments crumble, society degenerates, and infrastructure falls into chaos. Humanity finds itself stumbling in the dark and losing all hope.

A few fortunate individuals retain their vision. Attempting to deal with the growing despair around them, they come together to discover the true purpose and origin of the affliction. They race to find a cure before the world is subjugated under an invading power.



Excerpt:
Keith Hurst’s secure telephone rang, waking him from a sound sleep. He opened his eyes and looked at the LED clock on his nightstand. It said 3:12. As national security advisor to the president of the United States, middle-of-the-night calls were common. His staff did their best to filter out the less important matters until his morning brief, but there were times when an emergency forced sleep into second place.
Hurst grabbed the handset by the second ring. He had to wait for the encryption to handshake before he could say, “Hurst.”
“Good morning, sir. This is the night watch officer. We have several NSA intercepts from the following countries: India, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, and Russia all placing their militaries on high alert. We’ve had sporadic reports of multiple air, car, and rail accidents, resulting in thousands of deaths. Many radio and television stations have gone off the air in those countries.”
Hurst snapped on his bedside light and sat up. “Accidents? Do we know the cause?”
“No, sir. The strange thing is, NSA claims many of the foreign military units that were signaled never acknowledged the alert. There also appears to be a major communication disruption with U.S. CENTCOM units in Afghanistan and our embassies in the aforementioned countries.”
“Are the comms being hacked, or is there some sort of natural phenomenon like sunspot interference?” Concerned about the call, Hurst looked at the empty space beside him. His wife had left him several years before, directly because of the election campaign and the late-night calls.
“No, sir. Not that we can see. The circuits are up, and the phones are ringing, but no one is answering.”
Hurst swung his legs out of bed. Has someone come up with a way to simultaneously disrupt communications with American bases, embassies, and headquarters, or is this some sort of terrorist attack? “Does NRO have anything on overhead imagery?”
“No, sir. No major troop movements in the CENTCOM area. In fact, NRO reports minimal movement overall.”
“I’ll be in the office in thirty-five minutes. I’ll want everyone in for an early brief for the president. Get the joint chiefs and SECDEF up to speed. Warn the Secret Service that we may be moving POTUS with short notice. If this is an attack, I want to stay ahead of it. See if we can get drone surveillance of any U.S. bases in Afghanistan ASAP. We need answers.”
“Yes, sir.”
Hurst hung up and hit the bedside crash button to summon his protection detail. This was no time for subtlety. He needed to be in the White House as soon as humanly possible.

Buy Links:





About The Author:
Mr. Parkinson was an Air Force avionics technician, a decorated veteran of the Persian Gulf War, and several United Nations peacekeeping missions. He has lived overseas in numerous countries and travels extensively. His novels have been praised for their realism and have sold in fourteen countries, winning multiple international awards.
“I don’t incorporate overt sex, profanity, or extreme violence in any of my writing. I prefer the story to be the main focus and want my novels to be accessible by all.” -SJ Parkinson



Author Links:


Giveaway:
One Lucky Winner Will Win All 3 Books in The Legionnaire Series and Another Lucky Winner Will Win Two Science Fiction Books – Twinkle and Predation – By SJ Parkinson.
The giveaway will run the length of the tour. Open internationally. Enter through Rafflecopter.



a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Calculated Risk by K S Ferguson: Mystery/Sci Blog Tour, Guest Post, & Giveaway

http://fireandicebooktours.wordpress.com/2014/07/10/mystery-book-tour-giveaway-calculated-risk-by-k-s-ferguson-71814-81514/


Virtual Book Tour Dates: 7/18/14 – 8/15/14
Genres: Mystery, Thriller, Sci-Fi





Blurb:
Rafe McTavish, charming self-made businessman, owns the most successful private security firm in the galaxy. Estranged from his family since his wife's bloody suicide fourteen years earlier, he's honor bound to find out why his brother-in-law, CEO of the family mega-corporation, has jeopardized the company by purchasing a dilapidated deep-space mining station. Arriving at the station to investigate, Rafe takes on hostile miners, faces accusations of murder, chases a blackmailer bent on his destruction, and matches wits with a beautiful corporate-hating computer hacker, Kama Bhatia, who just may be the love of his life—if they both survive.

Excerpt:
“I apologize for disturbing you outside our normal communication channels,” Kama said, acknowledging their unsecured line. “I wanted to let you know that I’d arrived safely. I would have contacted you sooner, but the station experienced communication issues.”
One almond-shaped eye twitched. “Issues?”
“Yes, but it didn’t prevent me from sending your… birthday present. It’s on a cargo drone headed for Earth orbit. It left here shortly after I arrived. I wasn’t able to check your present’s condition.” She held her breath.
Samir went very still. She expected frost to form on the view screen so cold was the displeasure in his gaze. He hated complications, and she’d barely started listing them.
“Inconvenient. I’ll see the package is retrieved.” He smoothed the front of his immaculate gray suit with long, thin fingers.
She plunged on. “Unfortunately, your present isn’t complete. Pieces are missing, and other collectors have taken an interest.”
His hand stopped in mid-stroke. “Other collectors?”
Kama swallowed. Sweat moistened her palms where they rested on the console. He really wouldn’t like the next news. “There’s also a problem with the grant work I’m to do here for Independent Mining. Seems EcoMech claims to have bought the place, and Leon Goldman came in person to take possession. He has Rafael McTavish in tow.”
The intensity of Samir’s stare rocked her back from the console.
“Is Mr. McTavish aware of your presence?” he asked in a deadly calm voice.
“We’ve been introduced.”
“It’s a large station. Enjoy those parts where Mr. McTavish is not found,” he ordered, his brows pulling down.
“Well, that’s the thing,” she said, her voice rising in pitch. “There’s a bit of a shooting war going on here, and he’s been taken prisoner by the miners.”

Buy Links:

About The Author:
K S Ferguson has already published one critically-acclaimed novella, Puncher’s Chance (co-written with James Grayson,) which appeared in the June 2006 edition of Analog Science Fiction and Fact, America’s longest-running science fiction magazine. She enjoys writing suspense and murder mysteries in futuristic and fantasy settings, and also writes fiction in the guise of technical manuals for unfinished software—otherwise known as help documentation.

Author Links:


Giveaway:
a Rafflecopter giveaway
 
Guest Post by K S Ferguson:
 
Thanks for inviting me!

For me, the joy of mystery fiction lies in the challenge. Of course it's a challenge to plot and write a satisfying mystery—how to balance characterization against action, setting against pace, complexity against accessibility—but the real satisfaction comes from setting a challenge for readers. Regardless of genre, most everyone likes to guess how a story will end (how will the hero get the girl, how will the evil queen be defeated?), but in a mystery story this is more than an idle pastime.

A mystery story is about a contest between the writer and her audience—it's me throwing a gauntlet down to you guys. Your average mystery reader is smart and analytical and enjoys the challenge of sorting the clues from the red herrings, getting inside the characters' heads and using what's there to pull the puzzles apart and get to the answers—and before the hero manages it, if possible.

The struggle on the page between Detective and Villain is matched off the page in the contest between reader and author. No one wants to work out a mystery in the first ten pages and be proved right—there's no satisfaction in solving a puzzle that's too easy. Equally, not many readers seem to enjoy finding out they were a million miles away from unmasking the killer. As a writer, pitching a mystery at that perfect level is the most mouth-watering challenge in the world, and the most scary.

I also love writing mysteries because of the genre's amazing flexibility. While a lot of fiction genres can be quite prescriptive, mystery plays nice with everyone. Everyone has a sense of curiosity that a good mystery will tweak, just as everyone's sense of justice is aroused by the eternal battle for the truth.

Crossovers with genres like history, sci-fi, and speculative fiction are as natural as they are satisfying, because mystery is universal across the world and across history. The tangled web of lies and obfuscations, the dogged detective matching wits with the criminal, the search for truth against the odds and against the system; these are universal concepts that apply in any time, any place, and any reality. I've written murder mysteries in settings as wildly varied as the space-borne near-future of Calculated Risk and its sequel, Hostile Takeover, and the demon-haunted streets of 1960s California in No Place Like Hell. There's no end to the places a good mystery can take you, and that's what excites me when I get up each morning to write.

What about it, readers? What do you love about mysteries?