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Blog Tour: With Fire in Their Blood – Kat Delacorte

Packed to the brim with bisexual and queer representation, With Fire in Their Blood is a simmering supernatural romance set in the crumbling Italian city of Castello, where mafia clans make the rules, dark magic pulses the streets and the sins of the past threaten to consume the present. . . 

When sixteen-year-old Lilly arrives in Castello, she isn’t impressed.
A secluded town in the Italian mountains is not where she saw her last years of high school playing out. 

Divided for generations by a brutal clan-family war, the two halves of Castello are kept from destroying each other by the mysterious General, a leader determined to maintain order and ‘purity’. . . whatever the cost. 

Lilly falls in with the rebellious Liza, brooding Nico and sensitive Christian, and sparks begin to fly. But in a city where love can lead to ruin, Lilly isn’t sure she can trust anyone — not even herself. 

And then she accidentally breaks Castello’s most important rule: when the General’s men come to test your blood, you’d better not be anything more than human… 

Perfect for lovers of Chloe Gong, Renée Ahdieh and V.E. Schwab, With Fire in Their Blood is quality YA storytelling at its best by an exciting new voice in YA fantasy. 

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Kat Delacorte was eleven years old when her family moved from the United States to a small town in central Italy. She soon began writing stories about her new friends developing superpowers, and she hasn’t looked back since. She graduated with a BA in History from Columbia University, and lives in Venice, Italy. 

My thoughts: Lilly’s whole life, what there was of it anyway, is uprooted when her dad gets a job in a small Italian town thats proudly stuck in a sort of timeloop – no WiFi, no technology at all really. There’s a reason for that, as Lilly discovers. This town burns witches, or those it suspects of being Saints, as they’re known. And the mysterious General keeps a tight grip on everything in the town.

As Lilly investigates the town’s past and finds links to her own dead mother, she discovers she has some unusual gifts herself.

A clever and imaginative take on the witch trials of the past and the problems of living under a censorious regime. No information gets in or out.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

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Spotlight: Tune in Tomorrow – Randee Dawn

Tune in Tomorrow [ISBN-13: 978-1786186300, August 23, 2022, Solaris/Rebellion] by Randee Dawn is a curious, calamitous, cockamamie story of a small town girl and the greatest mythic reality show ever.
    Starr Weatherby came to New York to become… well, a star. But after years of unsuccessful struggling, she’s offered a big role – on a show no one has ever heard of. An over 400-year-old reality TV/docusoap, Tune in Tomorrow is shot beyond the “Veil” by mythical creatures, stars humans – and “streams” out to a fanatical audience of fantastic creatures, who are positive that they are getting a peek into real human lives. And in a way, they are.

But Starr’s transformation from astounded newcomer to fan favorite is hardly smooth: A desperate, devious diva wants her gone; a handsome Lothario’s advances are suspect; her assistant is organizing a strike – and was her predecessor dropped into a bottomless pit? Starr vows to do whatever it takes to keep her dream job, but her struggle to save the show quickly becomes a fight… for her life.

Weaving together a unique combination of pop culture, fantasy and humor, Tune in Tomorrow takes readers on a roller coaster ride behind the scenes to see how the TV sausage gets made. But amid all the wackiness, tough questions arise: What is “reality”? And what might it mean to win a prize that makes you immortal?
    “Tune in Tomorrow is a book packed with some of the things that make me happiest: TV, divas behaving badly, being torn between two lovers, magical creatures and mangoes. Yes, mangoes,” Dawn says. “It’s a nutty tale of redemption and renewals, and I’m hoping everyone will tune in!”
    A funny, thrilling and mysterious adventure into the alternate world of reality television, Tune in Tomorrow is perfect for fans of Jasper Fforde, Terry Pratchett, and Christopher Moore. 

Maryland-born Randee Dawn is now a Brooklyn-based entertainment journalist who scribbles about the glam world of entertainment by day, then spends her nights crafting wild worlds of fiction. She’s a former editor at The Hollywood Reporterand Soap Opera Digest, and these days covers the wacky world of show business for Variety, The Los Angeles Times, Emmy Magazine and Today.com. Dawn’s obsessive love of all things Law & Order led her to appear in one episode and later co-author The Law & Order SVU: Unofficial Companion.  Her short fiction has appeared in numerous anthologies and online publications; she also dreams up trivia questions for BigBrain Games. Once a month she can be found hosting Rooftop Readings at Ample Hills Creamery in Brooklyn, and when not writing she’s focused on her next travel destination, and hangs out with her wonderful, funny husband and fluffy Westie. She admits she reads way too many books and consumes far too many mangoes.

Find Randee on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, BookBub, Goodreads, and her website RandeeDawn.com

Tune in Tomorrow is available for pre-order through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, IndieBound, and anywhere books are sold.


Question: Tell us what Tune in Tomorrow is all about?

Randee Dawn: There’s the story part of the book, which is about a reality TV show run by mythical creatures, for mythical creatures … but starring humans! They just find our antics as charming and hilarious and intriguing as we do theirs: We make movies and TV shows about castles and dragons and quests and fauns; well, they love hearing about our mundane things like clipping the hedges or embezzlement or adultery or changing light bulbs! But in a bigger sense it’s also about what it might mean to be immortal, and how “reality” might mean different things to different people. And it’s about finding your inner Starr/star!

Q: You typically write non-fiction – what inspired you to write this story and take on a whole new genre?

Dawn: I have always wanted to write a novel. I actually had written several other books about fantasy and fey creatures, but they tended to be very serious – and didn’t sell to publishers. My brilliant agent gently suggested, “Maybe you should try something different.” Humor is tough, and I had no idea if I could write it successfully, if not write it all. But once I dove into Starr’s world and heard her in my head, the silliness came naturally. 

Q: Reality TV and soap operas aren’t often considered “prestige” TV – is this a mistaken perception? What are your thoughts on that, as a pop-culture writer?

Dawn: Most all of the entertainment business is goofy and strange. But it is also an endeavor people take seriously – soaps and reality shows are no different. They are their own art form, and require hard work. And, time has shown that people continue to love them!

Q: What do you hope readers will walk away with after reading Tune in Tomorrow?

Dawn: Early on, Starr gives herself a pep talk by recalling a particularly strange improv routine she had to do once: pretend to be a singing mango. It was in that strange circumstance that she was “discovered,” and also where she truly fell in love with acting. So she tells herself throughout the book, whenever she needs an extra dose of courage: Be the mango. Sometimes, being the mango isn’t sufficient to save her, but I hope that amid all the pratfalling and puns and general shenanigans that people come away feeling that they, too, have an inner mango. And all they have to do is tap into it to get that extra push to make their dreams come true.

Q: Out of all the fruits, why a mango? 

Dawn: Because it is the most delicious of all, and I am somewhat obsessed. Also, it has a delightful name that’s just fun to say!

Q: How do you get inside your character’s heads during the writing process? 

Dawn: I have the whole movie of what my stories are about in my head as I’m writing, and though I don’t think about this consciously, if I need to be in a character’s head, I just start seeing the world through their eyes, as if I’ve put on virtual reality goggles. That really helps. Also, if I do write something that doesn’t seem right for a particular character to do or say, it will just feel wrong. That’s when I know I have to go back and make it true to the person.

Q: How did your background as a national pop-culture journalist influence the way you wrote Tune in Tomorrow?

Dawn: Often, authors are told “write what you know,” which is how we as a society end up with a lot of 20-year-olds writing memoirs. Which is fine! But limiting. When you have no other expertise, you write about yourself. It took me years in the entertainment business, and years removed from covering the soap opera world, to feel ready to use that as my backdrop. And yes, it’s true: Tune in Tomorrow has its roots in soap opera. Because that’s what reality shows are, anyway! Soaps are wonderful ways to tell story, and even if they look like Keeping Up with the Kardashians or Selling Sunset or Grey’s Anatomy today, all of those formats have their roots in the greats, like General Hospital, Days of Our Lives or The Young and the Restless. I wrote what I know!

Q: What advice would you give to a writer working on their first book?

Dawn: Be in it for the long haul. Don’t expect that your first draft will be the final draft, or even the thing that you first publish. The first draft is you telling yourself the story – I heard that a long time ago, and it’s incredibly true. After that, it’s about making it into a story that’s ready for the world to read, and that can take a lot longer than you’d expect.

Q: What is next for you? Is there another installment in Tune in Tomorrow, or what can readers expect?

Dawn: A lot depends on how Tune in Tomorrow fares. If it sells well, I’ve got part of a sequel planned that takes place in some of the other TV shows and movies that mythics have been cooking up. But there’s always a chance I’ll go back to a novel I finished during the pandemic lockdown and get it smartened up to show to my agent – about a world where all the superheroes are women.

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Blog Tour: The Last White Man – Mohsin Hamid

One morning, Anders wakes to find that his skin has turned dark, his reflection a stranger to him. At first he tells only Oona, an old friend, newly a lover. Soon, reports of similar occurrences surface across the land. Some see in the transformations the long-dreaded overturning of an established order, to be resisted to a bitter end. In many, like Anders’s father and Oona’s mother, a sense of profound loss wars with profound love. As the bond between Anders and Oona deepens, change takes on a different shading: a chance to see one another, face to face, anew.

Mohsin Hamid writes regularly for The New York Times, the Guardian and the New York Review of Books, and is the author of Exit West, The Reluctant Fundamentalist, Moth Smoke, How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia and Discontent and its Civilizations. Born and mostly raised in Lahore, he has since lived between Lahore, London and New York.

My thoughts: there’s a sense of Kafka about this story of Anders, who wakes up one morning to discover that over night he has changed colour, becoming darker. He’s not alone and soon there are fewer white people than ever before. This, unsurprisingly if you’ve been paying attention to world events over even just the last few years, doesn’t go down well with everyone and there are ugly confrontations. Anders feels forced to leave his home and go to live with his dying father.

His girlfriend Oona is slow to change, and her mother is frightened of the prospect, inhaling the nonsense online – much like anti-vaxxers or covid conspiracy nuts of the last few years. But since becoming darker is inevitable in this reality, she has to come to terms with it. Although there is a suggestion that she never truly accepts it.

I was intrigued by the author’s use of the word “dark” to describe this change. It is only at the end that he says brown. But throughout he doesn’t specify how much darker, or whether it happens gradually in some cases. I don’t really have an explanation but it’s an interesting word choice.

A slight novel this does pack and punch and is very thought provoking. You find yourself wondering how you would feel or what that would be like in the world we live in – especially in a country like America, which is still so segregated.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

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Book Blitz: The Road Not Taken – Susan Rubin

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The Road Not Taken is available for a special price at participating retailers this summer! Take advantage and grab a copy today!

The Road Not Taken

Publication Date: September 4, 2020

Genre: Humor/ Fantasy

A woman suddenly widowed at 50,  left with money but no direction to her life, deep in transition from suburban housewife status, moves back to the West Village where she grew up. When she meets a woman who appears to be an identical twin, she discovers the Lost: a group of 100 fully-formed people dropped off on Earth as it cooled down they have lived on the planet as it developed the many species and geography of today.

The Lost show her the myriad dimensions of Spacetime, taking her to ancient Egypt, Weimar Germany, and planets without inhabitants, and reuniting her with loved ones she has lost to death. Through a casual affair with Osiris, god of Egypt, and her friendship with Vincent Van Gogh, she lives many truths that are new to her and learns who she needs to become to walk the road not taken.

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About the Author

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Susan Rubin has written for Funny or Die, and in contrast, she’s written more than two dozen documentaries that highlight international women’s issues like domestic violence, forced child marriage, and untested rape kits accumulating in police evidence rooms. Rubin has used her skill, empathy, and compassion to render these darkest of topics into accessible films distributed to tens of thousands of college classrooms.

As a playwright, Rubin has, for 20 years, been the recipient of Los Angeles County Arts Commission Grants and Los Angeles Cultural Affairs Department Grants. She also was honored with a six-year residency at the prestigious Los Angeles Theatre Center. Her plays have been seen at New York Theatre Workshop, Baltimore Center Stage, and at every major 99 seat theatre in Los Angeles including co-productions with Bootleg Theatre, Circle X, Skylight Theatre to name a few. She is the recipient of Garland, Ovation and LA Weekly Awards.

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Blog Tour: The Little Theatre on Halfpenny Lane – Clodagh Murphy

Aoife and her sisters know exactly what to do when they inherit their Great-aunt Detta’s theatre on Halfpenny Lane:

  • Restore the dilapidated building to its former glory.
  • Perform together on its stage to packed houses and rapturous applause.
  • Live happily ever after.
    But they didn’t count on Detta leaving a share in the theatre to her godson, Jonathan. Now they’ll have to persuade him to buy into their vision of stardust and magic – or find the money to buy him out.
    As they fight to save the theatre, Aoife also battles her growing feelings for Jonathan. Because she can’t let herself fall for the man who’s about to bring the curtain down on their dreams.

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  • Author Bio Clodagh Murphy lives in Dublin, Ireland. She has worked as a bar waitress, cleaner, secretary, editorial assistant, mystery shopper and movie extra. But she always dreamed of being an author, and after more jobs than she cares to (or can) remember, she now writes full-time. For more information about her books or to sign up to her newsletter, visit her website.
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My thoughts: this was a lovely story of sisterhood and theatre. The three sisters want to restore their great-aunt’s theatre, turn it into a going concern again and stage a production of Chekhov. But first they need to raise a lot of money. Luckily their aunt meant a lot to the Dublin theatre community and they’re all up for a fundraiser or two. And maybe Aoife might get through the tough exterior of Jonathan and her stage fright.

Enjoyable, funny and sweet, I knew I’d enjoy a story about a theatre (theatre kids never say die) and I was right!

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

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Cover Reveal: Village of Salt and Sorrow – Laura Holt

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After an incredible ARC tour, we are thrilled to finally be able to share the cover of Village of Salt and Sorrow by Laura Holt! It was absolutely worth the wait!

Village of Salt and Sorrow ebook

Village of Salt and Sorrow

Expected Publication Date: Coming Soon!

Genre: Adult Fiction/ Magical Realism

Nova McIntosh has been called many things—a witch. Dangerous. The girl with fire in her hair and salt water in her veins, whose eyes will drag you in and crush your heart like an under tow—and they’re all true.

It’s said that Loch Moira was once home to a flock of selkies, until its fishermen made a deal with a sea witch to steal their pelts. Unable to transform, the selkies were forced to retain their human forms and wed their captors. But the sea is unforgiving and eternal and demands restitution: the lives of two girls after every storm as penance for the selkies who perished on land, or it will swallow the town whole.

The youngest in a long line of magical women bound to perform these sacrifices, Nova understands the need to be cold and merciless. So, when she finds a boy washed up on the beach after a storm, she doesn’t expect to feel anything for him. However, the ocean has never given back anything alive, either, and the closer Nova grows to Arron, the closer she comes to unraveling the mystery behind his survival and discovering the key to ending her town’s curse.

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About the Author

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Laura Holt is the award-winning author of Fathoms Below, Fathoms Above, Fathoms Between, Fathoms Across, and the forthcoming final book in the Star-Crossed series, Fathomless. She is a self-professed word witch with a passion for mythology, history, and caffeine. When she’s not writing, you can find her stretched out on a yoga mat, hiking down wooded trails, or wandering the aisles at a local bookstore searching for her next great read. She lives in small-town Georgia with her daughter, three cats, and a lot of fake plants.

Follow her on Instagram at @authorlauraholt to stay up to date on bookish news, events, and book and music recs, or subscribe to her seasonal newsletter for even more exclusive content and writer resources at https://holtlara2.wixsite.com/lauraholt.

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Cover Reveal: A Lust for Blood – K.C. Smith

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How gorgeous is the cover for K.C. Smith’s debut novel, A Lust for Blood?! Read on for more info and pre-order a copy. There’s even a beautiful pre-order incentive!

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A Lust for Blood (A Realm of Curses Novel)

Expected Publication Date: November 1st. 2022

Genre: Adult Dark Fantasy

Publisher: Phantom House Press

There is no escape when the monster is you

When Oriana awakens in a field of blood and bodies, she is devastated to realize the patchwork of death was caused by her own hand. A curse lingers in the air, and there is only one option to save herself from further bloodshed. Oriana uses her magic to create an enchanted forest imprisoning the monster responsible for the massacre–herself.

Garren has built a career around slaying demons. When he learns of a centuries old creature locked away in the strange Phantom Wood, the opportunity is too great. He will stop at nothing to destroy the demon filth that lurks in those shadows if only to satisfy his own haunting memories.

Oriana soon finds herself caught in a cat and mouse game, fighting to keep her identity secret. As the two grow closer, secrets unravel. But could they each be the answer the other has been searching for?

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Pre-order a copy and you will receive a stunning art print. Proof of purchase must be sent to the author. You can email K.C. Smith at kcsmithauthor@gmail.com 

About the Author

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K.C. Smith is a writer of Adult Fantasy from Maryland where she lives with her husband and their chihuahua, Tank. Writing allows her to escape from her busy life as an Accountant and small business owner. When not writing or reading, she can be found rock climbing or traveling the world! A Lust for Blood is K.C.’s debut novel and will be releasing November 1, 2022!

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Blog Tour: Elodie’s Library of Second Chances – Rebecca Raisin

An uplifting story about fresh starts, new beginnings and the power of stories, from the bestselling author of Rosie’s Travelling Tea Shop!
When Elodie applies for the job of librarian in peaceful Willow Grove, she’s looking forward to a new start. As the daughter of a media empire, her every move has been watched for years, and she longs to work with the thing she loves most: books.
It’s a chance to make a real difference too, because she soon realises that there are other people in Willow Grove who might need a fresh start – like the homeless man everyone walks past without seeing, or the divorcée who can’t seem to escape her former husband’s misdeeds.
Together with local journalist Finn, Elodie decides these people have stories that need sharing. What if instead of borrowing books readers could ‘borrow’ a person, and hear the life stories of those they’ve overlooked?
But Elodie isn’t quite sharing her whole story either. As the story of the library’s new success grows, will her own secret be revealed?

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Rebecca Raisin writes heartwarming romance from her home in sunny Perth, Australia.
Her heroines tend to be on the quirky side and her books are usually set in exotic locations so her readers can armchair travel any day of the week. The only downfall about writing about gorgeous
heroes who have brains as well as brawn, is falling in love with them – just as well they’re fictional.
Rebecca aims to write characters you can see yourself being friends with. People with big hearts who care about relationships and believe in true, once in a lifetime love. Her bestselling novel
Rosie’s Travelling Tea Shop has been optioned for film with MRC studios and Frolic Media.

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My thoughts: Elodie is hired to reinvigorate a library – one she visited as a child. But she’s keeping a secret and her wealthy family at arms length. She wants to do this on her own, no family money, no media, no red carpets.

Her ideas are innovative and fun – I liked the idea of “borrowing” a person and hearing their life story. Unfortunately not everyone feels the same way. And there’s a dishy local journalist she’s hoping to kiss.

A sweet, fun and funny book about not judging a book by its cover and a person by what local gossips have to say.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

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Blog Tour: The Case of Elena and All That Went Wrong – Aprille Clarke

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Welcome to the book tour for The Case of Elena and All that Went Wrong by Aprille Clarke!

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The Case of Elena and All That Went Wrong

Publication Date: May 19th, 2022

Genre: Magical Realism/ Paranormal

Publisher: Moonfire Publishing

The Case of Elena and All that Went Wrong focuses on a cast of recurring main characters and their peripheral acquaintances. The characters come from a range of ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds, sexual orientations, and ages, but what they have in common is that they all must navigate the world while facing bizarre challenges. At its core, this book is about human relationships within a framework of magical realism that provides humor and opportunities for insight. How does a working-class lesbian reconcile the weird appeal of a shrinking man who wants her to swallow him? Should a middle-class white guy believe that the scrappy, probably-a-grifter man who has been dehydrated and crammed behind the tray table on an airplane really just needs some money to get home to his son? What does a black man do when his young, white, female piano student starts bleeding on his keys? In the vein of the classic Simpsons episode “22 Short Films about Springfield,” as well as Jennifer Egan’s A Visit from the Goon Squad and Junot Diaz’s This Is How You Lose Her, the overlapping characters and plotlines in this book inform one another and interweave to create a satisfying experience for the reader.

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About the Author

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After completing her MFA, Aprille Clarke spent about a decade working in higher education instructional technology. Her areas of focus included learning management system administration, consulting and training university faculty on effective uses of technology in teaching, and pedagogically sound uses of technology-enhanced classrooms. She left that work in order to focus on childrearing and creative pursuits. Currently, she is employed as a simulated patient for medical students, which involves faking sick for money. She lives with her spouse and three children. The Case of Elena and All That Went Wrong is her first book. For more information, please visit https://www.aprilleclarke.com/

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Blog Tour: Little Dirt Road & Juiced – Ted Mulcahey plus giveaway

The O’Malleys are doing what? How is it possible that dangerous complications arise from their simple vacation in wine country? With their recent move to South Whidbey Island, only the O’Malley’s would stumble upon drug smugglers, embezzlers, and murderers amongst the locals. The quirky, pastoral island, reachable by a less than speedy ferry from Mukilteo or the narrow, deteriorating Deception Pass bridge, is no match for the wicked men about to visit.

A notorious drug lord and a nondescript enforcer with freakish hell-raising skills invade the peaceful Pacific Northwest island—where not even the friendly locales and free-roaming long-eared rabbits can soften his homicidal heart.

Weeding through the facts and surprisingly connected characters with their trusted friend, Bellevue Detective Bill Owens, the narrative swirls from Mexico to Canada and throughout Puget Sound. It’s a heart-racing and outrageously offbeat adventure for two innocent people, proving once again that trouble will find the O’Malleys without the slightest amount of effort on their part.

Little Dirt Road excerpt

           “Kevin, Jenne, wow what are you two doing here?”
Robbie Burns had surprised Kevin and Jenne O’Malley as they were seated at the bar, killing time while waiting for their room to be made up.
“Mick, hey, what a stunner seeing you here.” Although slightly less than enthusiastic, Kevin’s tone seemed to escape Burns’ notice.
` “The U.S. sales division brought all the leading dealerships here for a sales meeting. I’ve never been here, but man, this is spectacular. How about you two?”
Even though the O’Malleys had stayed at the lodge a few times in the past, Kevin was reluctant to get into anything other than a cool hello with this fellow, even though they were casual acquaintances from their membership at the same golf club. “We’re here for a few days just to relax and visit a few wineries. Hope you have fun, we’re just heading over to reception to pick up our room keys. Maybe we’ll see you later.”
The two interior designers quickly made for the exit and set out for the quaint bungalow that housed the reception area. “Kinda, gave Mick the bum’s rush, eh Kev?”
“Yeah, well we’re here to unwind and the less I have to deal with that asshole the more relaxed I’m going to be.”
“Just because we stopped working for him on that barn out in Carnation doesn’t mean he’s a bad guy.” Jenne was slightly less critical of the man.
“I’m not saying he’s bad or evil. I just think he’s a pompous ass, very enamored with himself, and I rather not be around him.” Kevin, on the other hand, was less inclined to be subtle about these things.
They strode up to the reception table where Aaron was looking expectantly at them. They knew it was Aaron because his name tag said it was. The lodge was comprised of forty or so separate bungalows, each a duplex, spread over a magnificent valley with sumptuous views.
“Mr. and Mrs. O’Malley, your room is ready for you now. Would you like two keys?”
“Aaron, my man, can I ask you a question about another guest? It’s not that I’m prying, I just don’t like the guy and I don’t want our cottage to be anywhere near his. I understand you have privacy rules but we’re here to relax, and he’s not very relaxing.”
The Lodge didn’t get to be exclusive without being attentive to their guests. The staff was trained to serve, above all else.
“I understand sir, what’s the guest’s name?”
“It’s Burns, Robbie Burns.”
Aaron looked up from his screen with a pleased smile and said, “Not to worry Mr. O’Malley. He and his associates are at the far end of the property. You’re safe.”
With Aaron’s assurance that all would be well, they hopped a shuttle to their Napa-style cabin, their home for three nights.
The drive to the wine country was always relaxing. Seven hours to Ashland, OR to spend the night and break up the drive, and then only four hours or so to the epicenter of winemaking in the United States.
Staying at the famous, and very expensive Meadowlark Lodge in Rutherford, the O’Malleys had looked forward to four days of decompressing. It had been a bizarre year to say the least.
Their Bellevue Washington-based interior design firm had more business than they could handle at the moment. Their involvement in a white separatist terrorist attack at Kelsey Creek Country Club had been at the forefront of the national news for the last twelve months, the resulting unsolicited publicity a windfall to their practice.
After arriving at a lovely cottage on the hillside overlooking the valley, they unloaded their things, then sat on the deck and inhaled the fragrant lavender-filled air.
“Finally,” Jenne commented, “It feels great just to sit and listen to absolutely nothing.”
“I’m pretty sure there’s a golf tournament on, we could see who’s in the lead.” Kevin was a big fan of the sport and rarely missed an opportunity to indulge himself with some prime Golf Channel viewing.
“You turn that thing on, and you’ll be having sex with yourself the next three nights.” Jenne – pronounced “Jenny” – was less enthusiastic about the game and apparently was enjoying the “quiet time”.
“Okay, well, you put it that way then hell, I don’t need no stinkin’ TV.” Kevin needed only to be told once that the penalty for interrupting their silence was this severe. Three days in this beautiful place with no frolicking in the sheets was not an option.
After a half hour of basking in the autumn sun on a cloudless October afternoon, Jenne was ready to leisurely stroll up to the main lodge building for the daily wine tasting.
While the lodge was world famous for their hospitality, its owner was world famous for his cult wines, offered at enormous prices. The everyday tastings were of excellent producers from Napa Valley and were accompanied by appetizers.
As the couple entered the foyer of the lodge they were greeted by George Harmon, the owner of the place. He felt it was his duty to occasionally show up at these social gatherings to welcome the guests.
“Mr. and Mrs. O’Malley, welcome back and thanks for visiting us again.” Kevin had to hand it to the man, he knew his business. They had been here two years ago, so it took some effort on the owner’s part to research the current crop of visitors.
“Thanks, George, we love coming here. It’s got to be the most beautiful place in this part of the country.” That Jenne, Kevin thought, she really knew how to suck up to a potential client.
“I agree,” chimed in Kevin, “You also do a wonderful job with your staff, they always make us feel welcome.” If Jenne could suck up then Kevin wasn’t going to be far behind. Much of the O’Malleys’ work was in the hospitality segment and they were always on the lookout for marketing opportunities.
Kevin caught the immediate eyeroll from his wife and took the cue to dial back the schmooze level. He considered himself among the luckiest men alive to have Jenne for his wife and he still wasn’t certain what she saw in him.
Kevin, in his mid-fifties, and Jenne, five years younger, had been married for seven years. Strangely, it felt both old and new at the same time. Because of their design firm, they were together almost constantly, though he never tired of it.
Her stylish gray hair framed a beautiful olive complexioned face, which was only enhanced by her wide-set hazel eyes. Avid hiking and a dedicated workout routine kept her physique in better shape than women ten years her junior. Yes, Kevin concluded, he was a very lucky man.
“So what do the two of you have planned for the next few days?” Even though it seemed Harmon’s question was perfunctory, his apparent sincerity was appreciated.
“We’ll visit a few wineries, do a little hiking and just kick back. We might even play nine on your executive course.” Kevin had played the little nine-hole course here at the lodge the last time they visited and, although small in scale, it was still a hoot to play.
“If you don’t already have appointments, perhaps our concierge can set up a few things for you. There are several very small producers nearby that make fabulous wine. Because they are boutique places, smaller than a few thousand cases, most people haven’t heard of them. Most of their production is sold to upscale restaurants but you can still purchase from many of them.”
“Geez, George, that would be terrific. Who should we talk to?” Jenne was never shy about leading the way.
“I’ll take care of everything. We’ll even have our car and driver shuttle you around to insure you can enjoy yourselves without any concern about directions or driving after tasting.”
Kevin wasn’t certain why Harmon was being so solicitous but he sure as hell wasn’t going to look a gift horse in the mouth. “That’s very kind of you, George, we really appreciate it.”

After they confirmed the following day’s agenda they headed back to their cottage. Rather than eat at the restaurant, Jenne suggested room service and a nice Oakville cabernet to celebrate their first night.
Kevin was secretly hoping that the festivities would further continue in the bedroom, but he knew better than to suggest the dessert items just yet. He was thinking those things always seemed to work out better if he didn’t do the planning.
The lodge was sandwiched between two steep hillsides, making for a cozy, quiet retreat from the hustle and bustle of the real world. On this clear, moonless evening, with the temperature dipping into the forties, the climb up the gentle slope to their cabin was refreshing.
The footpath, illuminated by pools of subtle, garden lighting meandered through sweet-smelling pines, lavender and clumps of feather grass. Rounding the last turn just short of their rooms, they looked up to a darkened porch leading to their entry door. The only other cottages they could see had their porch lights on.
“Looks like our light is burned out, not something you usually see at this place with all their attention to detail.” Kevin wasn’t overly concerned given the security of the resort.
“Kev looks like the door isn’t closed all the way. I’m pretty sure I closed and locked it when we left.”
“Maybe housekeeping left it that way when they did their turndown service.” Kevin’s suggestion sounded more hopeful than reassuring. The Meadowlark just did not make mistakes like this.
“Jenne, stay here for a minute and let me take a look first.” Kevin stepped up to the porch, reached inside to find the light switch, and flipped it on. Immediately the landing was brightly lit. “I guess the light works, it just wasn’t turned on.”
“You’d think housekeeping would know better.” Jenne was happy just to write it off as a mistake, perhaps a new employee on the staff.
“Yeah, maybe. Hold on a sec until I get the lights on in here.” As he stepped inside, Kevin flicked the rest of the toggle switches up, bathing the simply but elegantly designed interior in soft, efficient lighting.
The cottage was comprised of a foyer/living room area with a wood burning fireplace which connected to a bedroom, furnished with a king-sized bed, completed with Frette linens. Carrera marble and white subway tiles were the finishes of choice in the spa-like adjacent bath.
Normally Kevin would have relaxed at the sheer comfort of the place. Unfortunately, the sight of Robbie Burns’ limp body lying at the foot of the turned down bed and the deep red blood stains on the lavish Frette linens was going to curtail the planned activities he had counted on for the evening.

An invention that can save the planet?

Somehow, someway the O’Malleys have found themselves in the thick of things once again. On peaceful, bucolic Whidbey Island, they become entangled in a corporate plot to stifle a paradigm-shattering discovery, one that promises to upend conventional thinking, topple markets, and create an entirely new industry.

Kevin and Jenne, along with scientists from the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, find themselves pitted against a band of bumbling criminals who will stop at nothing to get what they want—including arson and murder.

It’s another rollicking adventure for the retired interior designers ably assisted by their favorite detective, the FBI, and Emma, their ever-vigilant German Shepherd Dog.

Join the O’Malleys, along with their ever vigilant German Shepherd, Emma, on Whidbey Island as they take on criminals, embezzlers, drug lords, and murderers, putting themselves right in the center of all the danger. With the help of their friend, Bellevue Detective Bill Owens, will they come out on top?

Juiced excerpt

It was one of those dark, rainy afternoons in the Pacific Northwest. Four-thirty, and already the headlights were bouncing off the slick, shiny freeway. 
I was on my way back to Whidbey Island. Playing golf in Seattle in late November was not for the faint of heart. Bundled up with rain gear, umbrella stuck on the push golf cart, wet khakis tucked into even wetter socks, we had slogged through eighteen holes of betting and swearing.
Usually, the Wednesday round was followed by more swearing, drinking wine, and playing gin rummy, but today was different. Today was Jenne’s birthday. It was the big one, double nickels. Well, sort of a big one.
Of course, she told me to stay, have fun and enjoy myself – no big deal. When you’ve been married more than once, you absolutely know for sure that birthdays are a big deal. Unless, that is, you don’t care if your sexual activities are curtailed for, say, a month or two.
Well, not this husband. No sir. I managed to make the 5:30 ferry. And also had the foresight to stop at Walgreens and select a lovely greeting card. From Hallmark. I figured the card with a heartfelt message, along with the bouquet purchased at the Star Store when I drove through Langley, would put me in Jenne’s good graces.
It should have been a wonderful evening.
But it wasn’t.
I made the right onto Little Dirt Road. About five hundred yards up the hill, on the unpaved surface, I turned on the crushed gravel driveway leading to our tidy, shingled home. We live on a bluff that normally overlooks Saratoga Passage. Tonight it was dark and rainy.
And there were no lights on in the house or on the grounds.
This seemed odd. I negotiated the six steps to the porch in the dark. Emma was inside, barking as only a German shepherd can, when anything, and I mean anything, is perceived as a threat.
“Easy girl, easy. It’s me.” She quieted only slightly until I opened the door—it was unlocked—and she calmed down. I flicked the lights on, rubbed behind her ears, and stupidly called out
Jenne’s name. She’s not here, you dope. She wouldn’t be sitting in the dark. I walked to the kitchen counter. There was a note in her writing. “Went for a walk in case you get home early. Back around 4:30.” It was followed by a little heart and a smiley face.
What the fuck? It was 6:45. Still not accepting reality, I dialed her cell. The sounds of “The Irish Washerwoman,” her ringtone, came from the little nook with the fireplace, just off the kitchen.
This was strange. Even though she always thought she had forgotten her phone, she seldom did.
I stood there, searching my mind but coming up with nothing. Her car was in the courtyard, her phone in the house. Where the fuck is she?
We didn’t know that many people on the island. We knew our neighbors and a few others, but few were close friends. The only people Jenne was close to lived off-island. And they did not come up in this crappy weather.
One thing was certain, if she left around 3:30, she sure as hell wasn’t still on her walk.
I walked across the dark, grassy area separating us from our neighbors, Tim and Raye. I knocked on the door, perhaps a little too forcefully.
“Kevin. Hi, good to see you.” Tim was a gentle soul and a terrific neighbor, always there if you needed him, and highly considerate in every way.
“Hi, Tim. Have you seen Jenne? When I got home, the house was dark. She left a note saying she’d be back at 4:30. Do you know where she could be?”
“Geez, Kev, no, I don’t. I did see her a little before five. She was headed down the street. I thought it a bit odd because it was getting dark, but that was about it.”
“She was headed south?”
“Yes.”
“She always goes the other way on her walks and finishes by coming up the hill. She says it feels good to stretch out at the end of it.”
“Well, I don’t know about that, but I’m sure she was headed down.
Is there anything I can do?”
“Thanks. Not yet. Let me think about it first.”
Tim’s face showed genuine concern. “You know we’re here if you need anything.”
“I do, Tim. Thanks.”
I went back home and stood in the kitchen. “Emma, what do you think? Where the hell is your mom?”
The ninety-pound black and tan animal looked directly at me and twisted her head to the left. “Ah, I wish you could talk, kiddo.”
If Tim saw Jenne go back down the hill, maybe she was going to one of the homes on Saratoga Road. For some reason. To someone’s house, she didn’t know. Sure.
“Emma. Let’s go. Get in the truck.” Before I went entirely off the deep end, I figured a drive around the area might be productive. Maybe Emma could be of some help. Maybe.
We drove slowly down the hill, past Tim and Raye’s house and past the Robinsons, who lived on the opposite corner. Most of the properties were well over an acre. As a result, there weren’t many homes nearby.
After turning right on Saratoga, where there was no traffic, thankfully, we crept as slowly as possible. I rolled down the rear windows in case Emma caught a scent.
We passed three homes. Emma acted as though this was a simple trip to the store. Maybe even treats if she behaved.
On the left was a huge vacant field where sheep occasionally grazed. Beyond that was a long, straight two-track that served as a driveway for a home hidden by tall firs and cedars.
During our walks, we’d always speculate as to who lived there. Occasionally we would see an island car chug and sputter down the drive. Island cars are beaters that nobody would ever take on the ferry. They frequently break down, and hell hath no fury greater than ferry patrons missing the boat because some yahoo couldn’t start their fucking car.
We passed the mailbox and then the driveway. Then Emma went batshit crazy. It was close to nine o’clock when I pulled to the side of the road. I shut the engine off and turned out the lights, and tried everything to get the dog to quiet down, with no success. She had picked up a scent.

Amazon: LITTLE DIRT ROAD JUICED

Goodreads: LITTLE DIRT ROAD JUICED

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Ted Mulcahey has lived throughout the US, the past 35 years in the Pacific Northwest. He’s an Army vet, sales and marketing VP, entrepreneur, business owner, avid reader, one of nine children, former caddie, and lover of dogs and golf. The last twenty-five years were spent in partnership with his wife Patte, as the owners of a highly respected and published hospitality interior design firm in the Seattle Area. They’re now living on Whidbey Island and enjoying its rural bliss. 

Ted writes about things he’s seen and places he’s been. He tries to incorporate personality traits of people he’s known into his fictional characters, although none of them exist in reality. Many of the locations are real but the names have been changed. 

Website


Interview with the author

On writing:

How did you do research for your book?

For Juiced I found a number of articles discussing the projects (including their battery research) at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

For Little Dirt I spent many hours researching harmful drug culture as well as the geography of the Puget Sound waters.

For both, my many years in business were immensely helpful.

Which was the hardest character to write? The easiest?

The easiest, of course, are the O’Malleys. The mercenary corporate characters are fun to write but often difficult. Emma, our GSD is the dearest.

How did you come up with the ideas for your books?

The idea for Juiced began when I came across an interesting article on vanadium battery technology.

For Little Dirt, it was more of a desire to highlight the many beautiful areas of the Pacific Northwest.

Where do you get inspiration for your stories?

Mostly the quirky characters I bump into while living on an island.

What makes your books different from other cozy mysteries out there?

The locales and perhaps the sarcastic sense of humor from the principal characters.

What advice would you give budding writers?

Sit down and write. Then when you’re done for the day think about what you’ve written, but write without thinking first—that’s when the real you happens.

Your book is set in the Puget Sound area. Have you ever been there?

I live there.

If you could put yourself as a character in your book, who would you be?

There’s a good deal of Kevin O’Malley in me, but he’s likely an improved version.

Do you have another profession besides writing?

Nope.

How long have you been writing?

Off and on since my high school newspaper.

Do you ever get writer’s block? What helps you overcome it?

Not block, per se, but sometimes it’s difficult coming up with a satisfactory resolution that is somewhat unique.

What is your next project?

The O’Malleys find themselves enmeshed in nastiness among folks in the Walla Walla wine country.

What genre do you write and why?

Cozy Mysteries, mostly for an enjoyable humorous journey that takes the reader somewhere else, if only for a little while.

What is the last great book you’ve read?

It’s an old one, but Word of Honor by Nelson DeMille made an indelible impression. Probably because I was a junior officer in the US Army during the same period as the story.

What is a favorite compliment you have received on your writing?

“I really had fun reading it”, is always my favorite.

How are you similar to or different from your lead character?

Similar in life experiences but I have considerably more foibles than Kevin O’Malley.

If your book were made into a movie, who would star in the leading roles?

Paul Rudd and Sandra Bullock.

If your book were made into a movie, what songs would be on the soundtrack?

“Ripple” by the Grateful Dead

What were the biggest rewards and challenges with writing your book?

The reward is in solving the riddles and completing the story.

In one sentence, what was the road to publishing like?

Long


Gloria Steinem once said "Writing is the only thing that, when I do it, I don't feel I should be doing something else." That’s how I feel when I’m writing.
If I’m on the golf course, there are times I feel I should be home doing chores or doing something with my wife (although she’s probably just as happy in the garden than having me underfoot).
If I’m doing chores or something with my wife, there are times I feel I should be writing or maybe taking Emma for a walk. When I’m writing, though, I never feel like I’m missing out on something or feeling guilty about not doing something. There are periods I get so lost in the story, the places and the characters that I lose all sense of time. You’d think sitting in a crummy task chair for three hours with no pee or coffee breaks would force an occasional glance at a watch or clock, but that doesn’t happen.
I had dabbled with writing for a long time while I was working. Usually, it was a short story or maybe an article for a trade posting. There were dozens of openings and characters started and discarded over the years. Finally, after we sold our business, I had some time to fill and revisited the remaining detritus of my efforts. I deleted most and kept a few which turned into my first completed novel, Bearied Treasure.
The title was my wife’s idea, and I can’t tell you how many people told me I had misspelled Buried. It’s the story of a fictional cult on a small island just off the coast of Vancouver Island and features a humongous Kodiak bear. Being my first effort, it is riddled with amateurish mistakes, but I still love the characters and literally shed a tear or two when I finally typed the last period.
I think Ms. Steinem had it right, at least for me.

My thoughts: these books were a lot of fun to read. In Little Dirt Road a trip to wine country ends with a dead body in Kevin and Jenne’s hotel room bed. They head home, little knowing trouble is following them. Luckily they have a knack for making interesting friends and even a shoot out in a neighbour’s fancy wine cellar doesn’t stop them.

In Juiced, they’re at it again, embroiled in trouble – corporate espionage and murder this time. Jenne helps an elderly neighbour and inherits her house. Just in time to assist a scientist to create a battery that doesn’t need difficult to extract lithium and is cleaner too! As long as he doesn’t get killed, this will revolutionise power.

In both cases there’s crazy antics and very peculiar hitmen (the pair in Juiced in particular). Their friend Bill, a detective, cannot understand how the O’Malleys keep getting involved with criminals, from finding fentanyl hidden in a wall to scientific secrets under the floorboards, everywhere they go, they’re knee deep in chaos and intrigue. Luckily they come through relatively unscathed.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

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