Month: July 2018

Book 3 – Top Secret Hints About My Next Project

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A few weeks ago, I mentioned in my post, The Writing Race is On, that I’d started drafting two new books because I couldn’t decide which plot to focus on. After a few weeks of back and forth scribblings, I’ve finally made a decision… and I am super excited to start sharing a bunch of hints with everyone. Today I’m dropping a ton of news about the book, including the genre, setting, main character, publication schedule, and key themes the novel will cover. While you’ll learn a lot today, I promise there are tons of surprises in store over the next few weeks, including a title reveal, a cover reveal, details about the characters and setting, giveaways, pre-orders and a whole lot more. I’d love to hear all your feedback and I might even answer a few questions if you’re brave or curious enough to ask. I’ll also be on the lookout for a few beta readers in this sub-genre and some early ARC recipients this fall. Let’s take our first preview together…

Book 3

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. I write A LOT. I read A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge – words and humor. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

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The Terrace & Baxter

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Hello! It’s been a while since I’ve shared any personal posts on the blog. After returning from the trip to England and Italy in May, my schedule got busier than expected. I introduced everyone to Baxter in early June, planted all the flowers and bushes on the NYC terrace garden in mid June, kicked off the Children’s Book Readathon in late June, and mentioned I’d started writing my next book in early July. With all these priorities being the focus of my day, as well as a massive about of reading and book reviews, getting online has been happening less frequently. We start the actual children’s book reading segment of the readathon in ten days and I will announce this upcoming week which book I’ve focused on writing. For now, I thought I’d share some photos on Baxter and the NYC terrace garden.

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If you’re new to my blog, a brief introduction… I live on the top floor of a 12-floor building in the middle of New York City where there’s very little green. Without a backyard, nature, and grass, it felt too plain and dull… hence why we turned the terrace into a giant garden with potted trees, flower boxes, growing vines, outdoor furniture, and a new water feature. It runs the length of the whole apartment and then wraps around both sides part way. I’m quite lucky to have this outdoor space, and when I roll out the awning, it’s actually not too bad even on a particularly hot day given the wind this high up keeps it a bit cooler.

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Baxter, a black and tan shiba inu puppy, is officially 4 months old and proving to be quite the little devious one. He’s actually adapted quite well with the overnight sleeping and ‘doing his business’ side of things. He’s only about 15 lbs. but quite SOLID. It’s like a brick wall when he goes on a running race around the apartment and slams into me. He’s finally received all his shots and was allowed to go to the park last week. He’s learning how to walk on his leash and play with other dogs. I’m very happy with his progress to date, but he also started official training this week to fix a few small issues. He’s almost sitting on command, but next we’ll focus on come, stay, and leave it. The only real concern so far is he’s a biter! It’s totally play-biting, and he only does it to W and to me. He’s an absolute perfect angel whenever anyone else visits. I spend most of my day cleaning up dirt he’s eaten out of potted plants, stuffing from stuffed animals he’s ripped apart, and spraying bitter apple on things. Last night, as we’re watching a movie, the lights started to flicker. It was in the middle of a torrential rain and wind storm, so we assumed that was part of the issue. After a little research, we found that Baxter had actually started biting an electric cord we thought was well-hidden behind the couch. Thankfully that ended with only a harsh lecture and and early bedtime! Maybe he’s learned his lesson, too.

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More updates in a few weeks. Hope you enjoyed a little peek inside my life at home right now!

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About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. I write A LOT. I read A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge – words and humor. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

Book Review: Citadel by Kate Mosse

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3.5 stars to [book:Citadel|6952554], the third book in the Languedoc trilogy, written by [author:Kate Mosse|9343] in 2011. I read the first two books in the series many years ago and loved them both. I hadn’t been aware of this one until three years ago when I found a copy at a discount sale. I quickly bought it but it sat on my shelf for over a year until I finally read it this month. I struggled at first to get into the story, but the intrigue got better as the book progressed. Unfortunately, it was probably 200 pages too long and had a couple of side-stories that didn’t make a whole lot of sense. For those reasons, I’d rate this as my least favorite in the series and given it had only a very small connection to the previous two, it isn’t a must-read.

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At times, the language and imagery was quite beautiful. At times, it was repetitive and confusing. There were too many characters without fully fleshed out personalities or descriptions, so it seemed a bit tedious. That said, the battle scenes and the dialog were strong. I often found myself skimming a few too many times within the same hour-long reading period and not feeling the urgent need to pick up the book each night when bedtime arrived. I was glad I’d finished it, but I also felt it started to get much stronger around the 7o-80 percent mark and wished some of that beauty was present earlier on. Ultimately, I was puzzled over the entire point of the story as the ending felt very much ‘let’s just wrap this up’ which is sad.

While I seem to be focusing on the negative aspects of the book, there were many positive ones. Sandrine is a fantastically drawn beacon of strength in a time that was quite horrific for many people. What she suffered through and how she supported others was a tribute to the many women who led the pack to protect their families, friends, and even strangers in their towns during the Nazi invasion of France in the 1930s and 1940s. The book wisely left out the details of what happened in the Jewish camps (for the most part) and astutely focused on the impact on the families left behind when someone was taken from them. The worry. The questions. The unknown. So much to understand about this period in history.

Now that I’m done with this series, I’ll give some thought about what else of Mosse’s books I want to read.

 

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. I write A LOT. I read A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge – words and humor. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

Author Spotlight: Maria E. L. Thomassen & The Metanoia Phases (with Q&A)

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The life of authors and readers – besides being amazing fun – are ultra-busy and complex. With the market having tons of books that are easily accessible and full of fantastic content, how do you know which ones to choose? That’s where I come in… sharing news about new authors or old favorites who might be launching upcoming releases.

Today, I’m highlighting a fellow author I’ve come to know in the last few months, Maria E. L. Thomassen. Maria recently published the first two books in her fantasy series, The Metanoia Phases. They’ve been added to my Goodreads TBR for a future read, but I wanted to share some news with everyone sooner rather than later because Maria will launch the third book soon… stay tuned and check out her Twitter and Instagram accounts below during the week of 7/23 for the exciting release date, cover reveal, and how/where you can find the book.

When you scroll through the pictures below, pay close attention to the GORGEOUS covers she and her team have designed. That blue! The magical elements! The font! Stunning… For now, let’s recap what I know about books one and two in her very curious and powerful series… as well as her responses to my twelve interview questions. Then see if you find yourself so smitten you’ve got to get a copy.

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Get to Know the Books

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The Metanoia Phases: The Change of Heart – Kindle edition by Maria E. L. Thomassen. Download it once and read it on your Kindle device, PC, phones or tablets. Use features like bookmarks, note taking and highlighting while reading The Metanoia Phases: The Change of Heart.

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Kindle edition by Maria E. L. Thomassen. Download it once and read it on your Kindle device, PC, phones or tablets. Use features like bookmarks, note taking and highlighting while reading The Metanoia Phases: The Change of Mind & Self (The Metanoia Phases Part Two).

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Quote from the 1st Book

The tingling sensation appeared, spreading like wildfire inside me. I just wanted it to go away, I grabbed Hayden’s shirt, squeezing my eyes tighter, willing the feeling to go away, but with no luck, it was remaining, grabbing on to me. I was on fire, every inch of me was instantly burning. I wanted to crawl out of my body, just ripping off my skin to relieve the burning.”

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Get to Know the Author: Q&A

Twitter: @MariaThom002
Instagram: maria.e.l.thomassen002
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  • You have several books available in this series… tell us a little bit about your past work and the genres you most enjoy exploring.
    • Answer: Actually The Metanoia Phases is the first story I’ve been working on, It started out 14 years ago, being rewritten and reshaped many times, to the result that it is today. I love writing fantasy anything can happen. But, I can reveal that after this project is finished I will be diving into some horror/thriller. 
  • Where do you live? Country, city, area, type of home, etc. Whatever you feel comfortable with… just an opportunity for readers and fans to picture where you spend much of your time.
    • Answer: I live in the small Denmark, on the country in a big house with my dog, and my boyfriend. We have a huge garden, and the most amazing part about that, is a swinging chair I have hanging from a tree. I love to sit there; reading and writing, just feeling myself being carefully swung, that’s heaven.
  • Name a few favorite authors or influencers as well as someone you are always impressed by in the literary world.
    • Answer: Well, I’m a sucker for Nicholas Sparks. But if we dive into fantasy I really love L. J. Smith, she’s amazing, and I get inspired by her voice and stories.
  • What’s your next writing project?
    • Answer: Oh, there’s a few actually; the first new project will be a horror/thriller called Thirteen Days of Winter. And after that my mind have traveled toward a spin off, of the Metanoia Phases, showing what happens many years after the first.
  • Besides writing novels, what keeps you busy?
    • Answer: I have a full-time job on a Café, making the food. My family is very important to me, so I spent a lot of time with them. I enjoy going to the movies, playing games all night long with my girlfriend.
  • What’s the most frustrating part of the book publishing process – anything that comes to mind from the beginning to the end?
    • Answer: The worst part for me, is figuring out that you missed something critical for the book. I like the read through and the edits, seeing the book in a whole new light.
  • Have you ever co-written a book or considered doing it? How would that work?
    • Answer: No, I haven’t, and honestly I don’t think I could make it work, I’m pretty determined and stubborn as hell, I like things a certain way, and there’s no arguing once I put my mind on that.
  • What type of characters do you love and hate to write?
    • Answer: I love to write the vulnerable, but also the evil villains, I like flawed characters, and broken fighter to become stronger. I don’t think there’s any character I hate to write, not yet at least.
  • How much research do you usually put into your writing before and during the process?
    • Answer: A lot, I sat down to create a story board, writing down every character,  and basically everything about them, then I described the world, and the house they were living in, researching about every little part of that. I have a lot of different language in the books, and I did a whole lot of research on that.
  • How did you come up with the name “Metanoia” for this book?
    • Answer: It was actually called Dragonfly, but as I went on it didn’t really make sense, so I dived into researched, and then it just came to me, a picture of Metanoia written down, with the meaning of it, and I thought that’s exactly what the main character is going through, so I decided to use the phases of Metanoia for each book. Metanoia is originally Greek, which was perfect, due to the fact that I have Greek mythology in the books. Metanoia stands for changing one’s life, mind, heart and self. And that’s what the MC does through out the books.
  • What’s a perfect evening out for you?
    • Answer: going to a fancy place to eat, enjoying the company, and then a great movie. That’s always a winner.
  • What do you want to accomplish with your writing and books?
    • Answer: I hope to reach the world, sharing my stories, I want the reader to be entertained, shocked and touched, and somehow amazed by what is happening in the books. I hope that one day, I will be able to quit my day job, and work as a writer, earning enough, I don’t have to make millions, I just want to support myself by what I love to do.

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About Me
I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My debut novel, Watching Glass Shatter, can be purchased on Amazon @ http://mybook.to/WGS.  My second novel, Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon @ http://mybook.to/FatherFigure.

Beyond these two books, I have a number of short stories, poems and other novels in various shapes and forms. I also read A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, Tags, Awards, Age/Genre/Book Reads and Author Spotlights, as well as the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge.

You can also access my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

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Children’s Books Readathon – WINNING Books & Schedule (August 2018)

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Thank you to all the voters and authors for the Children’s Readathon we’re holding next month. There were a few ties and a couple of last minute additions before the final round of voting, so I broke the vote for any open items to land at a total of 10  books for August. Congratulations to our participating bloggers. Below is our schedule for the winning books. You can join in and read any or all of the books with us — options from 1, 2, 3 or all 4 weeks!

  • Picture Books – Read 8/4 to 8/9, Post Review on 8/10
    • Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
    • Oh the Places You’ll Go by Dr. Seuss
    • Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
  • Award Winners – Read 8/11 to 8/16, Post Review on 8/17
    • Winnie the Pooh #1 by A. A. Milne
    • Number the Stars by Lois Lowry
    • Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus by Mo Willems
  • Young Adult – Read 8/18 to 8/23, Post Review on 8/24
    • Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
    • The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
  • Authors Who Blog – Read 8/25 to 8/30, Post Review on 8/31
    • Maxine Sylvester (Ronaldo Series)*
    • Robbie Cheadle (Sir Chocolate Series)*

*Additionally, we will have guest posts from some bloggers all about being an author, children’s literacy, and other fun topics. Books by our Authors Who Blog will be chosen next week; more on this when I confirm the posts with the bloggers as well as Giveaways. Example: Kenna McKinnon is offering a special giveaway contest for Benjamin & Rumblechum, Laurie Woodward will share about her books and Battle of the Books.

Throw out any ideas or suggestions if you’d like to blog one day in August, too, and I’ll re-blog and share with everyone, too. Read earlier and hold your reviews until the final date if that’s easier, too. If you’ve read the book already, you can re-share your review and other content on the scheduled date. This should be fun, interactive, and helpful to spread the news. Thank you!

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Battle of the Books

A great idea by my friend and fellow writer at Creativia, Laurie Woodward, to help us think of other books or add them to the poll for voting… Check out Battle of the Books  and stay tuned for an upcoming post and more details that either Laurie or I will share. Some books listed here below…

For 4-6 Grades

Applegate, Katherine Crenshaw
Avi The Secret School
Bulla, Clyde Robert The Sword In the Tree
Cleary, Beverly Ramona the Pest
Clements, Andrew No Talking
DiCamillo, Kate The Tale of Despereaux
George, Jessica Day Tuesdays at the Castle
Gutman, Dan Honus and Me: A Baseball Card Adventure
Haddix, Margaret Peterson Running Out of Time ****
Harlow, Joan Hiatt Midnight Rider
Howe, Deborah Bunnicula: A Rabbit-Tale of Mystery
Kellogg, Steven Paul Bunyan
* Kline, Christina Baker Orphan Train Girl ***
Konigsburg, E.L. From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler
Korman, Gordon Slacker
***Lewis, C.S. Chronicles of Narnia: Lion, Witch, & the Wardrobe*****
Lewis, Gill Wild Wings
McMullan, Kate The Story of Harriet Tubman ***
Naylor, Phyllis Reynolds Shiloh ***
Park, Linda Sue The Kite Fighters
Sachar, Louis Sideways Stories from Wayside School
Seldon, George The Cricket in Times Square
Shahan, Sherry Frozen Stiff
Stewart, Trenton The Mysterious Benedict Society
Stone, Phoebe The Romeo and Juliet Code
Taylor, Theodore The Trouble with Tuck
Urban, Linda A Crooked Kind of Perfect
Weeks, Sarah Save Me a Seat
Wise, William Christopher Mouse: The Tale of a Small Traveler
Woods, Brenda Saint Louis Armstrong Beach

For 6-8 Grades

Black, Holly Doll Bones
Blos, Joan A Gathering of Days
Burnford, Sheila The Incredible Journey
Clements, Andrew The School Story
Corbett, Sue 12 Again
Cousins, Margret Ben Franklin of Old Philadelphia
Curtis, Christopher The Watsons Go to Birmingham
Cushman, Karen Midwife’s Apprentice
Erskine, Kathryn Mockingbird
Flake, Sharon The Skin I’m In
Fox, Paula One-Eyed Cat
George, Jean Craighead Julie of the Wolves ***
Henkes, Kevin Protecting Marie
Holt, Kimberly Willis When Zachary Beaver Came to Town
Horvath, Polly Everything on a Waffle
Hunt, Irene Across Five Aprils
Korman, Gordon Swindle
Lawrence, Iain The Wreckers
Levine, Ellen If Your Name Was Changed at Ellis Island
Park, Linda Sue A Long Walk to Water
Paterson, Katherine Jacob Have I Loved ****
Paulsen, Gary Hatchet
Peck, Richard A Long Way from Chicago
Ryan, Pam Becoming Naomi Leon
Soto, Gary Taking Sides
Spinelli, Jerry Maniac Magee ****
Staples, Suzanne Fisher Shabanu: Daughter of the Wind
Taylor, Mildred D. The Road to Memphis
Tooke, Wes King of the Mound: My Summer with Satchel Paige
Voigt, Cynthia Dicey’s Song

For High School

Freedman Out of the Darkness
L’Amour The Shadow Riders
Wells The Time Machine
Steinbeck The Pearl
Bronte’ Wuthering Heights
Verne 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
Hemingway Old Man and the Sea
O’Reilly Killing Lincoln
Guthrie The Big Sky
Monk-Kidd The Secret Life of Bees

 

*** PAST POSTS ***

Welcome to the Children’s Books Readathon held in August 2018. Join in the fun to read between 8 and 12 books in August 2018 and share your reviews with the group. Don’t worry about the count of books, as (1) you can read only the ones you want and (2) some are less than 25 pages! I’ve setup a dedicated page you can bookmark to see updates or any guidelines and target dates for the different weeks and winning books.

Children's Books Readathon - August 2018

  • Overview
  • VOTE in the POLL (July 6th thru 13th, 2018)
  • Winning Books & Date to Read By
    • Picture Books – 8/4 to 8/10
    • Award Winners – 8/11 to 8/17
    • Young Adult – 8/18 to 8/24
    • Authors Who Blog – 8/25 to 8/31
  • Participating Blogs & Reviews
    • Dates above are Saturdays to kick off the start and reviews posted the following Friday

 

Please Note: All the details are being posted in early July, 2018… keep checking back regularly for more updates and details.

 

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Hi… So, I’m back from vacation and ready to plan the Children’s Books Readathon. Given that there’s less than 2 weeks before July is here, I’m wondering if August would be better to give us enough time to thoroughly plan the authors, books and posts. If you’re interested in participating, please leave some thoughts in the comments on this post regarding:

  1. Who wants to join?
  2. Do you prefer July or August?
  3. What children’s books and authors should we read?
  4. Are there any children’s book authors who want to host (Q&A, offer giveaway, discuss your books, etc.) 1 of the 4 weeks to help promote their works?

Let me know by Sunday, June 24th and we’ll see what we can get scheduled! Thanks.

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What’s that saying… “Idle hands are the…” Never mind. I’m apparently not content unless I’m dreaming and planning content for the upcoming months. It’s not enough that I have two books I’m trying to market, still in the middle of the very successful and extraordinarily fun Agatha Christie Readathon, nor that I’ll be out of the country for three weeks and still trying to finalize the initial posts for all three new blog segments I’m launching, but I decided today that I want to host another Readathon. When I thought through something that might appeal to a wider variety of readers and bloggers, as well as help offer some marketing and promotional opportunities for fellow authors, I feel in love with the idea of holding a “Children’s Books Readathon” in July 2018.

My Next Readathon

If you’re unfamiliar with the Christie Readathon, follow the link from the first paragraph. A group of fans and Christie-newbies held a poll to pick four (4) Agatha Christie books, then we read one each week in April and post a review on the last day of the week. Two down, two remaining so far… everyone can comment and re-blog, but we wanted to share our love the Grande Dame. I’m thinking of hosting these Readathons quarterly, but I’ve pulled together some ideas for one focused around Children’s Books. Once upon a time, I went to school to become a teacher. I wanted to focus on middle school, and also majored in English, so I have read tons of children’s books. I also wrote tons of curriculum and pulled together lots of teacher lessons for reading in the elementary school courses. Some thoughts below on how we could make this shine:

  • We read 2 or 3 children’s books each week. It may sound like a lot, but they are relatively short and we all need a break from lengthy tomes. This may help some of us reach our Goodreads 2018 Reading Challenge goals!
  • We split the children’s books into 2 categories:
    • A: Authors we read in the past that we’d like to share
    • B: Current authors with blogs we follow to help with promotion
  • We follow the same pattern with 6 days to read, 1 day to post.
  • We ask the current authors to share a post on my blog that everyone can also re-blog to help market their books. Maybe the authors will have a GIVEAWAY, offer ARCs of something new coming out, or some other fun promotion to make this interactive.

These are just high-level ideas. Everyone could share posts on award winners, picture versus chapter books, ways to engage kids in reading. I’m open to everything that highlights children’s books and helps excite people to spread the word on our fellow bloggers and authors. Throw some suggestions out in the next two weeks. My goal is to wrap up a plan and get this scheduled and coordinated before I leave on vacation in mid-May. We’ll hold a poll and vote on which books to read and review just like before. Target would be in July 2018 to give everyone (authors and readers) ~2 months to plan, purchase, read and prepare.

Who’s in?

 

Blog Tour: Kalorama Road by E. Denise Billups

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I’m very excited to be the first post on a two-week blog tour managed by Jina S. Bazzar for the amazing Kalorama Road by E. Denise Billups. I read the book last month and thought it was a phenomenal story. You must check out my 5-STAR review after reading through today’s post. We’ve got all the links below to get to know the author and the book as well as a special Q&A section where I was lucky enough to ask Billups twelve (12) fun and frisky questions. If you’re a fan of thrillers, mysteries, suspense, and romance fiction, this is definitely one you can’t afford to miss! Let’s learn a little more about this novel… and then click on the YouTube link to watch the awesome trailer, but be ready to bite your nails or grab something to hold while your mind begins to worry what’s going on!

Book Blurb

There something Allie can’t remember, hidden memories bordering consciousness that refuse to surface until one day someone, something, ignites horrifying images of a forgotten night.

A year after graduating from Emsworth University, a mysterious email appears asking Allie one single question. What happened at 1414 Kalorama Road? Allie has no memory of that night and has tried to recapture what happened when a classmate went missing at an off-campus party. Someone wants her to remember, and they’re getting closer and more insistent. Forgotten memories gradually start to surface with gruesome images and a revelation that could ruin the reputation of her esteemed alma mater, Emsworth University.

Book 7 Kalorama Road

Book Excerpt

It’s coming. I know it is. Restless and awaiting the hour, I watch seconds tick . . . Fifty-seven . . . Fifty-eight . . . Fifty-nine . . . Midnight, my cell phone chimes. It’s here, an anonymous email that comes every month for two years posing an unanswerable question. The torture of not knowing, an insistent reminder from an anonymous sender who won’t let me forget one memory-less night is unbearable.

A night I wish never happened haunts dreamlike, vaporous, appearing and receding with crushing anxiety, preventing me from seeing clearly. I should have listened to my instincts and never gone to that off-campus party. But as Grandma Blu always said, what’s done is done.

Moments before a lousy decision always remain vivid, leaving me pondering “what ifs” and wishing time could rewind. I revisit indecisive minutes pacing my dormitory’s vestibule, debating staying or going to the off-campus party. The latter choice taken, I bolted from the dorm into the chilly autumn night toward a waiting car. Approaching the Jaguar’s tinted windows, Grandma Blu’s warning, “Never get into stranger’s cars,” roared loud.

But the person behind the wheel isn’t a total stranger, although we’d never spoken before she invited me to the party. For an entire semester, we sat two rows apart and barely acknowledged each other’s existence until she appeared one day after class. Lively and wielding a smile, she approached with inquisitive eyes, staring me up and down like a tailor. Quickly sizing me up, she invited me to a party, but her odd approach left me more than hesitant. Why after three months the sudden interest? She introduced herself as Belle, a sweet and innocent name unbefitting someone so brazen. But she was beguiling, upbeat, and fun and I couldn’t resist and accepted her invitation. In retrospect, I should have said no. But you didn’t, Allie.

Nearing the car, Grandma Blu’s warning grew stronger. “Never get into a stranger’s car unless you’re one-hundred percent sure.” I lacked one percent assurance of the blond from Literature 301.

Cautiously, I approached the Jaguar, searching tinted windows for the obscured driver. The car door flung open, Belle leaned toward the passenger side, lips curved a smile. “Girl, it’s freezing, get in.” I did with awe of her stunning transformation. She was no longer the fresh-faced nineteen-year-old student in jeans and T-shirt. Dressed in a tight black dress, heavy charcoal eyeshadow framed thick, false eyelashes, and hair, blown silken blond, transformed Belle into a sexy siren.

As we drove past Emsworth University, she grew silent. The farther we traveled from campus, the more anxious I became. Most off-campus parties are within walking distance, but this I hadn’t expected. Past Kalorama Square, I’d wanted her to turn the car around. My instincts in overdrive reared me conscious of landmarks in case I found myself without a ride back to the dorm.

As a girl, I often imagined what I’d do if kidnapped by dangerous strangers grandma alluded to. I devised a plan to memorize surroundings, street signs, and landmarks, but a foolproof escape was never conceived. Thinking about it now, the imagined getaway was incredibly comical. But the farther we traveled from campus, the higher my alarm. I revisited childish musings and studied the route past Kalorama Square.

The car slowed at an impressive home, swiveled into the driveway and through retracting garage doors. At the time, I believed it was Belle’s family’s home given access inside. When the car halted, and the garage door closed, I began to worry. We entered a space more grandiose than its exterior and much too extravagant for a student party. I’d expected a home swarming with college students, not silent halls. I thought we were the first to arrive until voices emanated from remote spaces.

Belle led me into a billiard room through sparse guest, delivering me to a wide-eyed teenage girl seated at an open bar. “Allison,” Belle said in a sweet, apologetic voice, “I have to take care of an urgent matter.” She motioned to the puckered-browed girl, “She’ll take care of you until I get back.” She leaned into her ear and whispered quickly. The girl shook her head; I assumed a yes to whatever was said. Belle smiled. “I’ll be back in a jiffy.”

She vanished, leaving me in a room of mismated young women and older men, which looked like a secret society. And from their stares, I sensed I was the evening’s main course. Belle never returned, and the young woman abandoned me at the bar.

A fiftyish looking man slid into the empty stool beside me and introduced himself as Pennington. His eyes consumed every inch of me, and I grew anxious. Pennington placed a drink in my hand. A delicate flute with a cobalt rim contained a mixture much too sweet—sugared I assumed to conceal alcoholic potency. When I finished, he refreshed my glass with more intoxicating liquid.

Soon, strangely disoriented, figures blurred, my body, a distant island, appeared detached from my head. An urgent need to flee swept over me. Then Pennington refreshed my drink again. His fingers stroked my arm as if sampling a delicate fabric. I smiled and glanced away, sensing his eyes on my body. He whispered, “Don’t be afraid, everyone’s here to have fun. Just relax.” Then I felt his hand on my thigh.

Incensed, I pushed him away and staggered from the room in search of Belle. Stumbling through the home, I wandered upstairs on invisible legs, floating with a giddy high arriving at the landing. Approaching a small alcove, moonlight revealed a concerned man who mouthed “Sweetheart, are you okay?” His words sounded miles away. My lips parted but words wouldn’t come. On wobbly legs, I continued down the hall in search of Belle, following echoing voices to the first door. With fading hands, I twisted the knob, and the door squeaked open. Several images blurred into view, shadows I couldn’t distinguish. Like a camera lens, my mind snapped shut and opened the next morning. The previous night was a blank canvas.

Several months later, rapidly advancing and receding images reemerged fuzzy snapshots. I’ve never determined the number of people in that room. However, I’ve pondered inebriated double vision. Though never certain, I suspect something evil happened in that house, and the resultant amnesia acts as a shield, protecting me from wicked horrors.

With a deep sigh, I drag my mobile from the nightstand, and as I’ve expected, my anonymous sender’s address appears with a single, bold, small-capped question.

DO YOU REMEMBER WHAT HAPPENED AT 1414 KALORAMA ROAD?

Book Links

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About the Author

An author with a rare mixture of Southern and Northern charm, E. Denise Billups was born in Monroeville, Alabama and raised in New York City where she currently resides and works in finance. A burgeoning author of fiction, she’s published three suspense novels, Kalorama Road, Chasing Victory, By Chance, and two supernatural short stories, Rebound, and The Playground. An avid reader of mystery and suspense novels, she was greatly influenced by authors of that genre. When she’s not writing or reading, you can generally find her training for road races and marathons. She’s s a fitness fanatic who loves physical challenges of all types (running, biking, yoga, dance, and more) a discipline she uses to facilitate the creative writing process.

 

Denise Cropped for Wix

 

Social Links

My Blog

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Facebook

 

Special Author Q&A Interview:

  1. Where do you live? Country, city, area, type of home, etc. Whatever you feel comfortable with… just an opportunity for readers and fans to picture where you spend much of your time. 
  • I was born in Monroeville Alabama, USA, home to author Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird and Truman Capote, In Cold Blood. At nine-years-old, I moved to New York City and have lived on the Upper East Side for many years. However, I still have strong ties to the South where my extended family remains. I’m a city gal, but every so often, I long for a quieter existence. After years of living in a culturally vibrant city, I don’t believe I could ever return to the south, but I do visit occasionally. 
  1. You have several books available… tell us a little bit about your past work and the genres you most enjoy exploring.
  • Southern culture steeped in folklore, superstitions, and ghost stories, inspired my writing.  As a child, I’d sit around the fireplace listening to my grandmother’s supernatural tales. Those stories scared the bejesus out of me but also got my adrenaline flowing. My short-lived childhood in the South is why I gravitate toward supernatural stories. I’m a multi-genre writer with a paranormal bent. I love psychological thrillers, science fiction, and mysteries. In my first novel, By Chance, I wrote about three clairvoyant women of South Carolina and threw in a bit of the paranormal present in all my books except my second novel, Chasing Victoria.  Strictly suspense, there’s no hint of paranormal … well, there’s a little fortune-telling but that’s about it.  When I started writing Kalorama Road, my intent was to write a straight thriller without ghosts, but my muse had a different idea. I’ve published two supernatural short stories, The Playground, and Rebound.  Presently, I’m working on several short stories.
  1. Name a few favorite authors or influencers as well as someone you are always impressed by in the literary world.
  • My fascination with books began in grade school. Anything I could read, I’d read. As a teenager, it was mainly classics, Emily Bronte, Jane Austen, F. Scott Fitzgerald and the list goes on. Since Harper Lee was a hometown native, To Kill a Mockingbird was compulsory reading. Bram Stoker, Stephen King, Anne Rice, Edgar Allen Poe, Ira Levin, Ray Bradbury… Jeez! The list goes on. Every author I’ve read has impacted my writing.
  1. What’s your next writing project?
  • Currently, I’m working on several short stories. I’ve also drafted an outline for another supernatural novel, one involving a Southern haunted house. I know… another haunted house story. Perhaps I can put a new spin on an old, clichéd topic. I hope to publish the short stories in a couple of months. The novel requires further research with a publication deadline of eight to twelve months.
  1. Besides writing novels, what keeps you busy?
  • If I’m not reading or writing, I’m working out. Fitness has been an import part of my life. Trained professionally as a dancer, I’ve carried this discipline throughout my life. I’m a fitness enthusiast and for years trained for endurance sports such as marathons. I’ve run both domestic and international marathons (Ireland, France, and London). My goal was to run a marathon on seven continents, but life has a way of changing goals. Now, I’m content to run locally, practice yoga, have my morning cup of coffee, and just write. I’ve recently left a time-consuming career in finance to pursue my writing passion. I’m also a Freelance Columnist at Conscious Talk Magazine.
  1. What’s the most frustrating part of the book publishing process – anything that comes to mind from the beginning to the end?
  • Marketing, marketing, marketing… I enjoy writing, but promoting my work is the hardest, although it’s necessary. I’m not big on self-promotion, something I strive to overcome. The marketing skills I’ve learned from my Masters in Business Administration (MBA) degree have been helpful in crafting a marketing plan, but it’s still a daunting effort.  I believe every writer would prefer just to write and leave marketing to someone else.
  1. Have you ever co-written a book or considered doing it? How would that work?
  • I’ve never co-authored a book. I’ve often wondered how that would work with two or three unique writing styles, especially writing a novel. I’ve read anthologies and would love to collaborate with authors using this format whereby each author contributes a short story.  It’s something I’d consider down the road.
  1. What type of characters do you love and hate to write?
  • I like writing flawed female characters thrust into danger that challenges and makes them stronger women. I’ve yet to encounter a character I hate to write. I guess because I write only what inspires me. In Kalorama Road, I had the opportunity to write a male POV which I thought would be difficult. But I enjoyed writing about this chivalrous, determined, and ethical man.
  1. How much research do you usually put into your writing before and during the process?
  • It depends on the story. I’d love to travel to areas I’m writing about, but sometimes that’s not possible. If I know the state, town, or city used in my work, I recall memories to represent the locale—sight, smells, and sounds. If it’s a topic I have little knowledge of, for example, science, medicine, and law I’ll research facts to create authenticity. I believe research provides writers with ideas they hadn’t conceived and improves the story’s quality.
  1. How did you come up with the name “Kalorama Road” for this book?
  • Kalorama Road, originally titled A Blog Affair began as a romance mystery. However, my muse derived another plot—a paranormal thriller. Because the main plot takes place in a Washington, D. C.’s residential area, (a real neighborhood) and is mentioned throughout the novel, Kalorama Road is an obvious and fitting title.
  1. What’s a perfect evening out for you?
  • Aww! The simple things in life are the best. A perfect evening is sharing good food, good conversation, and a glass of wine or two at a cozy restaurant with close friends.
  1. What do you want to accomplish with your writing and books?
  • Honestly, writing isn’t about money or becoming a best-selling author, but self-fulfillment. I love creating worlds, putting them on paper, and if others enjoy the story, that’s even better. I love the freedom and control self-publishing provides, but if by chance a publishing contract appears, I won’t ignore it.  I will always write regardless of the avenue I take.

 

Trivia

Kalorama Road is  the author’s third novel.

Originally, Kalorama Road was titled ‘A Blog Affair’.

The ending was crafted long before the author wrote the beginning.

The inspiration for Kalorama Road came from an article the author read about men and women finding true love through blogging.  The idea intrigued her skeptical mind.

The scene the author grapple with the most was the murder scene

The author is an avid coffee drinker and she’s written about coffee in most of her novels.

 

Blog Tour Banner - Kalorama Road 07-10-2018

My Very Own “Book Bucket List” – July 2018

Posted on Updated on

I’ve knocked the 14th entry off my Book Bucket List:  The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. You can see the review here. In its place, I’ve added Entrapped by Claire Ayres to round out the 12 options for the next vote (post with poll to VOTE is below).

 

The poll for the August 2018 read is open. Click below to vote by 7/20!

 

Below is the link to the on-going Book Bucket List and a background on what it’s all about. My Very Own “Book Bucket List”  —  Click the link to access everything since the beginning of this post series as well as see the 12 books currently on the list.

 

About Me
I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My debut novel, Watching Glass Shatter, can be purchased on Amazon @ http://mybook.to/WGS.  My second novel, Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon @ http://mybook.to/FatherFigure.

Beyond these two books, I have a number of short stories, poems and other novels in various shapes and forms. I also read A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, Tags, Awards, Age/Genre/Book Reads and Author Spotlights, as well as the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge.

You can also access my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.