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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Cover Reveal: Life's Too Short for Leftovers by Michael Ditchfield #excerpt


Non Fiction
Date Published: July 23, 2015

Part inspirational rallying call, part first-person, autobiographical narrative, part eulogy for a treasured friend and mentor, “Life’s Too Short for Leftovers” takes the reader on a highly personal journey of self-discovery. Best-selling author Michael Ditchfield’s  “9 Lessons from a Third World Kitchen” – cleverly presented as courses on a menu – conveys a singular perspective on what it means to be human, and what is required of us as individuals to be active, engaged participants in humanity.

With delightfully dry wit and profound understanding, Ditchfield introduces us to Chef Noel Cunningham – his guide and teacher – along with a kitchen-full of congenial and extraordinarily noble real-life protagonists that have served as both lightning rods and light posts in the author’s relentless (albeit sometimes reluctant) pathway toward personal transformation.

Ditchfield is a master storyteller, and his conversational style skillfully relates timeless philosophies to contemporary challenges and opportunities that face Third World countries today. Based on his extensive experience in Africa, Ditchfield brings a generous portion of lucid insights and aha moments to the table, leading the charge toward improved, positive outcomes – in our own lives, and in the lives of others. “Life’s Too Short for Leftovers” is a stimulating and memorable must-read for students of Life.


EXCERPT

Bon App├ętit

“Example is not the main thing in influencing others. It is the only thing.”
~Albert Schweitzer

I have surrounded myself with Chef ’s nurturing wisdom every day since his ghostlike face appeared before my sheepish eyes on that memorable evening in 1992. I am forever grateful to Noel for keeping me close, transforming the course of my life. He welcomed me into his kitchen as a friend and “closet chef” to learn the finer touches of his culinary expertise … and to understand his deeper mission. I learned how to scramble eggs without using any utensil except the pan, and I endeavored to give of myself to help him offer the children of Africa a better tomorrow. He was my mentor and friend on a much deeper level than anyone else in my life. As a mentor, he schooled me for hours on end; and as a friend, he scolded and embraced me with equal vigor.

For many years, I was a student in Noel’s kitchen of wisdom, where the apron of his profession had become the very fabric of his life. The kitchen that we both shared was not limited to this country, but boiled over into the Third World, where every child has a right to live, to have enough to eat, and to be respected as a human being.

I will never graduate, because there is no graduation ceremony; I will never receive a diploma, because there is no diploma. But what I achieved in Noel’s kitchen is a degree of hope that I can make a meaningful difference in the lives of others—after changing my own life first. I took a sharp knife and burst the bubble that had become the gilded cage I’d lived in since my arrival from the shores of Jolly Olde England. Since then, I’ve made a point of surrounding myself with people wiser than me.

This book intends to illustrate how changing our lives enriches our lives. Think of the times when we sit for a long period of time and one leg starts to fall asleep; we adjust our bodies to feel more comfortable. In the big picture, life is no different. We usually only change when we are uncomfortable. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Some cooks only replace a menu item when it’s run its course. But the great chefs are always changing their menus. Whether because they are tuned in to seasonal influences or because they know they so much more to offer, they are not afraid to add or remove something. They believe in themselves enough to make those kinds of decisions.

Changing when we’re comfortable means taking responsibility early enough to avoid discomfort. We can change even when things are going well. We can’t change yesterday’s menu; we can only change today’s.

“Only a fool trips on what is behind him.”
~Proverb

Of course, there are some things that stand the test of time, like Chef Noel’s Penne Bagutta with Chicken, Mushrooms and Broccoli, or Life with Integrity, Accountability, Love, and Decency. Both are abidingly satisfying.

The nine lessons set forth herein pertain to the emotions and interactions that we all face in our daily lives. The lessons evolved as a result of me sitting down around the fire with people of the Third World, listening to their voices that collectively resound with wisdom and love. Like most of us, they want better lives for their families, and are prepared to do what it takes to get there. It’s just a little more difficult when they are dealing with the particular challenges that
life has put on their table.

These lessons slice across the cutting board of life—from the relationships we have to ourselves to the relationships we have with others.

By taking a hard look at your motives and the motives of others in Read the Recipe to observing the temperature at which you’re functioning as you Preheat the Oven, you will begin to understand. In learning patience, forgiveness, and tolerance as you Simmer, Don’t
Stir, and in overcoming procrastination as you Clean Your Plate, you will begin to understand. In simplifying your life as you Just Add Water, you will continue to understand. You will begin to exceed your seeming limitations as you Bring to a Boil, and offer life’s riches to others as you Pass the Butter. You will discover that you can make a difference in your world by getting to
know your own kitchen … and then inviting others in, who are part of the world we share.

These nine lessons are ones that matter. They will have a quiet way of sneaking into everyday life. We will never go hungry if we accept personal responsibility, and neither will the people around us. We may not see now that change is on the menu, but we will find ourselves ordering it. We’ll never know how far the ripples will travel or how many lives we might touch unless we drop the first potato into the water. Whether it’s the taste of our own enriched lives or that of others, it’s a dish that we’ll order time and time again. We should spice our own lives the way we intend them to taste—we have all the right ingredients, and we are about to learn how to use them. With these lessons, we can choose a life the way we would choose a meal: wisely




About the Author


Humanitarian Michael Ditchfield—bestselling author, sought-after speaker, entrepreneur, and former professional athlete, is committed to addressing the humanitarian plight of developing countries. Ditchfield speaks widely on how to inspire change and promote empowerment among cultures and individuals.

He has worked extensively with children in Africa using sports and culture in furthering the peace process. He remains dedicated to transforming lives by advocating for human dignity across the globe.


Contact Link







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Monday, June 29, 2015

Tour Kick Off: Scintillate by @KTjebbenAuthor




(Scintillate Series, Book #1)

Young Adult - Supernatural Romance/Thriller
Date Published: September 4, 2013



Kate Archer is instantly drawn to Nick. He's handsome, smart, and interested in her - perhaps a little too interested according to Kate's brother. And it's a good thing Nick is interested, or Kate would have died the night of the football game. Sure, Nick rescued Kate, but he can't stop the inevitable. Kate is changing; she just doesn't know it. She can't explain the visions and sensations affecting her body, but she can enjoy the pleasure of Nick's kiss - that is, until she learns the real reason he is with her. Betrayed by her genetics, Kate begins a metamorphosis that forces her to confront an unseen reality and claim her true destiny.






#1 – Do You See Writing as a Career? Of course! Although writing is not your typical career - there are no salary guarantees or health plan coverage - it can be very rewarding. Being a writer means that in all places and at all times you are gathering experiences that you can use in your work. The good times and the bad times can be rich sources that a writer can draw from and sow into her work, opening people’s minds to new ideas or by simply providing them an escape from reality. So writers, like teachers, do not work tirelessly for the money, they do it for love. Love of the characters, the escape, and the desire to bring joy to others.


#2 – What was the Hardest Part of Your Writing Process? Every part. Ha! I always have trouble with the rough draft because I don’t want it to sound rough. I think about it and dwell on words much more than I should. I’ve read that authors should just let their fingers fly over the keys and get through their manuscript, but I reread and find myself editing as I go along. This means it takes me longer than most to write my rough drafts, although I do usually finish the rough draft in 90 days. So I guess I’m not too bad. But then the revision stage is difficult too. I reread and reread again and again trying to strengthen or tighten a paragraph. At some point I have to just say I am finished because I could keep editing forever.


#3 – Did you have any One Person Who Helped You Out with Your Writing Outside of Your Family? I have to give my husband credit. He’s always willing to help me when I have a question about word choice or some other detail. However, I have two good friends, Melanie and Emily, who are always there for me. I hand over my babies (rough drafts) to them, and they give me their advice. Their help is invaluable because it’s so hard for a writer to know how a reader will perceive the events in a book.


#4 – What is next for your writing? I am working on the third and final book for The Scintillate Series. As of now, the title is SYNCHRONICITY. When I finish that, I will try a contemporary romance. I’m loving that genre right now.


#5 – Do you have an addiction to reading as well as writing? If so, what are you currently reading? Yes! I do a lot of reading when I’m at the pool with my girls or taking them to their after school activities. Every night I snuggle under the sheets with my iPhone and read until I can hardly keep my eyes open. At this pace, I can read a book within a day or two. Right now I’m reading LOVING LAUREN (The West Series Book 1) by Jill Sanders.   


DESCRIBE Your Book in 1 Tweet: SCINTILLATE-Kate can’t explain the visions & sensations affecting her body, but she can enjoy Nick’s kiss. Can he save her from her destiny?


This or That?

#1 - iPod or Mp3? Neither, but I love my TuneIn Radio app on my iPhone. I also love using Pandora through my television and blaring it throughout the house, especially at Christmas.

#2 – Chocolate or Vanilla? Chocolate. There is no competition. And if there’s caramel with sea salt – Watch out! 

#3 – Mashed Potatoes or French Fries? Fries with burgers. Mashed Potatoes with every other meat.

#4 – Comedy or Drama? Comedy if my kids are around. Drama if I’m by myself.

#5 – Danielle Steel or Nicholas Sparks? Nicholas Sparks makes me cry – always. So I have to go with Danielle Steel. 

#6 – Fantasy or Reality? Can I go with realistic fantasy? Something along the lines of GAME OF THRONES. It feels realistic, but then there are some fantastical events that blur the line of reality.

#7 – Call or Text? Text if I’m not in a hurry. Call if I’m under a time crunch or just want to hear someone’s voice.

#8 – Public School or Home School? I taught in the public school for 10 years, and my girls go to public school now. So I have to go with Public. 

#9 – Coffee or Hot Chocolate? Love hot chocolate, but it has too many calories. Coffee with creamer and a little Kahlua is almost as good.  


#10 – eBook or Paperback? eBook. Just can’t beat the convenience.





Story time always captivated Karen.  As a child, she fell in love with books that transported her to different worlds and introduced her to new creatures. As a teacher, she encouraged her students to explore different times and new worlds through literature.  Now, when Karen isn’t living in reality with her husband and daughters, she can be found creating an alternate reality filled with creatures and worlds that she hopes will delight and raise goose bumps on her readers. 


Tour Kick Off - Unlikely Allies by @authorcckoen #giveaway




Contemporary Romance
Date Published: June 13, 2015

What happens when a single mom’s four-year-old daughter falls in love with Mr. Right and she doesn’t?

Maggie Tyson’s rule: no bad boys. Her incarcerated ex-husband broke her of that attraction. Needing to escape his threats and the scrutiny of the people in her hometown, Maggie relocates to New York City. Determined to not make the same mistakes, she has a mile-long list of dos and don’ts. Unfortunately, her daughter, Cecily, doesn’t like to follow them. When Cecily wanders away from her and right into Rick Stone’s office, Maggie knows he’s the exact type she’s been trying to avoid. Can she resist him or will she succumb to his willful charm?

Rick Stone’s rule: bed them don’t wed them. Running a multi-billion dollar business doesn’t leave him with much time to do anything else, particularly with an overbearing grandfather breathing down his neck. But when a man works hard, he needs to play even harder. Voted America’s most eligible bachelor, Rick doesn’t have any problems getting women into his bed—except one.
Two auburn beauties stumble into his life.
One will break his heart.
The other—heal it.
Will he love or leave them?





C.C. Koen writes contemporary romance with a twist. An avid reader who enjoys mystery and suspense, her stories will never be what you expect. Determined to find adventure in her dreams and life, she enjoys skydiving, sailing and any activity that challenges her. Teacher by day, romance writer at night produce an active imagination that comes to life in her writing.
Blog     






June 29 - The Romance Vault - Review
June 30 - Jen's Corner Spot - Review
June 30 - The Travelogue of a Book Addict - Review 
July 1 - The Book Landers - Review
July 2 - Coffee Book Mom - Review
July 3 - Star Angels Reviews - Review
July 6 - Making It Happen - Review
July 7 - See Kiki Read - Review
July 7 - Lustful Literature - Review
July 8 - Nerdy, Dirty, and Flirty - Review
July 9 - Pure Jonel - Review
July 10 - Cheeky Pee Reads - Review
July 10 - Christy Herself - Review
July 10 - RABT Reviews - Wrap Up



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Thursday, June 25, 2015

Chapter Reveal: April Snow by Lynn Steward


Genre: Women’s Fiction
Author: Lynn Steward
Publisher: Lynn Steward Publishing


At the cutting edge of women’s fashion in the 1970s, a visionary young woman subdues her desire for love to remake retail at New York’s most glamorous department store.

Newly single, Dana McGarry learns she must divorce herself from more than a bad marriage to succeed. Not only must she prove to family and friends that she can make it on her own, but she also must challenge an antagonistic boss who keeps standing in her way. Moving out of her comfort zone and into the arms of a dynamic businessman, Dana bets it all on a daring new move that will advance her buying career, But at what price?
Her dreams within reach, Dana’s world is shattered in a New York minute when a life is threatened, a secret is revealed, and her heart is broken.

PURCHASE THE NOVEL
Amazon


 CHAPTER REVEAL

APRIL SNOW 
Chapter One

Dana McGarry, on vacation for the first time as a single woman, arrived at the Lansdowne Club at 9 Fitzmaurice Place, just steps from Berkeley Square, in London’s fashionable Mayfair on the morning of April 8, 1975.  Her lawyer had filed papers for a legal separation from her husband Brett in January, and after four months of being under the watchful eyes of well-meaning family and friends, Dana was savoring every moment of her solo trip across the pond.  She and Brett had always stayed at the nearby Chesterfield Hotel, but her beloved Colony Club in New York City enjoyed reciprocity with the Lansdowne Club, where she’d previously attended lunches and lectures while her husband met with clients for his Wall Street law firm.  Undeterred by the steady English rain and dark clouds hanging over the slick gray streets, she stepped from one of London’s fabled black taxis with renewed spirit, excited to think that the distinguished house in Berkeley Square would be her home for the next five days.    After Dana checked in, the hall porter asked her if she would like tea brought to her room and then discreetly disappeared with her luggage, a small, welcoming gesture that stood in contrast to an impersonal hotel.  Rather than immediately taking the lift to her room on the fifth floor, Dana stepped into the entrance hall and surveyed the club’s interior, intending to explore Scottish architect Robert Adam’s stately masterpiece commissioned in 1761 for King George III’s prime minister, the Earl of Bute.  Previously, she had limited herself to the dining room, never taking time to appreciate the club’s historic beauty.  Although rich with finely-crafted embellishments and Neoclassical splendor, the house was clearly showing signs of fatigue, and its understated elegance made the environment that much more comfortable.  Dana knew she’d made the right choice. The club was an oasis of tradition and tranquility affording her the peace and privacy she needed.
When Dana arrived in her junior suite, she noticed a bouquet of flowers sitting on a table in the sitting area. Thinking they were compliments of the club, Dana opened the attached note and laughed out loud.  The flowers had been sent by her childhood friend, Johnny Cirone.  The message read, “Take Phoebe shopping and buy up the town.  Whatever you do, enjoy yourself.  Love, Johnny.”
Dr. Phoebe Cirone, who was in London attending a cardiology convention, was Johnny’s sister.  Their father, John Cirone, known affectionately to Dana and her brother Matthew as Uncle John, was the head of the House of Cirone, a manufacturer of ladies eveningwear.  Having a passion for medicine from an early age, Phoebe had never expressed interest in clothes or haute couture, leaving Johnny to reluctantly carry on family tradition by working for his father.  Dana’s parents, Phil and Virginia Martignetti, had been friends with the Cirones since before her birth.
Dana, pleased to see a porcelain tea service had already arrived, took her cup to the window and sipped the Darjeeling as she observed the new plantings in the courtyard garden.  The peace she’d felt a few minutes ago was gone, however.  Something about Johnny’s note, as thoughtful as it was, unnerved her.  Johnny and her mother called daily to see how she was doing.  Dana sensed their concern, although she felt it was unwarranted.  What did they think—that she was going to kill herself because the divorce would soon be final?  They obviously didn’t recognize her personal strength and resolve.  Dana worked at New York City’s B. Altman, and the previous December she’d formed the department store’s first Teen Advisory Board.  She had also succeeded in getting Ira Neimark, the store’s executive vice president, to sign off on installing a teen makeup counter on the main selling floor over the objections of Helen Kavanagh, junior buyer, who thought youth-oriented strategies like those at London’s Biba, were a waste of time and money.   Despite these personal triumphs, she’d taken aggressive steps to further advance her career, leaving her comfortable job in the marketing department for the position of junior accessories buyer.  She had requested time off for this visit to London immediately after settling into the new assignment, and that alone was proof that she knew how to take care of herself.
Dana had been equally aggressive in terminating her marriage to Brett.  Papers for a legal separation had been filed in January by Dana’s lawyer when she discovered that Brett was having an affair with fellow litigator Janice Conlon, a saucy and impertinent young woman from California.  Negotiations for a final settlement were proceeding smoothly, with no protests originating from either Brett or his lawyer lest the firm be apprised of his misconduct with the audacious Conlon.  In the four months since their separation, Dana had realized that Brett’s dalliance with the abrasive Conlon had merely been a catalyst for the end of their relationship since there had been something far deeper and more troubling in their marriage: Brett’s growing neglect of Dana as he vigorously pursued partnership with the firm.  His work always served as a convenient excuse to pick and choose his time with Dana and in the long run, that grim reality had proven intolerable.  Within days of learning of Brett’s infidelity, Dana contacted an attorney and moved from her Murray Hill apartment to a carriage house a few blocks away in Sniffen Court.
Given the decisive actions in her personal and professional life, Dana therefore felt smothered at times by the daily concerns of others.  As for her traveling abroad alone, she felt more than competent to take care of herself.  When Brett had been with her in London, they were rarely together.  He usually spent days working, and evenings meeting with clients, joining Dana for late dinners, if at all.  He was up and out by 7:00 a.m.  She’d always hoped that the next trip would be better, but this was never the case.  Traveling alone?  It was all she knew.
Yes, it had all happened just four months ago, illustrating how the course of a life can change so radically and quickly.  But was she ecstatically happy now that a new phase of her life and career had begun, with Brett being almost surgically excised from the picture?  No, she wasn’t jubilant about anything at present, but she was content, at peace with the decisions she had made to take care of herself and her future.  In the words of her father, she had discovered that she had “a very good life” despite longstanding marital woes and formidable professional challenges.  Many of her friends had urged her to re-enter the dating scene since she was almost thirty and the clock was ticking, but Dana didn’t miss married life in the least and had no interest whatsoever in dating, especially guys described as the perfect match: upwardly mobile professionals, or “Brett clones,” the apt description provided by Andrew Ricci, Dana’s good friend and display director at the store.  Besides, marriage was not the only path to a fulfilled life.  In Dana’s estimation, happiness also resulted from pursuing a creative dream, enjoying good friendships and the myriad interests that gave her immense pleasure, such as travel, literature, films, and lectures on a wide variety of topics.  Being suddenly single was not a condition to be cured but rather an opportunity to be savored.
A line from Dickens came to mind as she thought of events that had altered her life:  “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”  Dana had survived the tumultuous weeks of the previous December, when she realized her marriage was over, but surely this was now the best of times, was it not?  She smiled as she contemplated her walk tomorrow morning to Piccadilly for breakfast at Fortnum & Mason, followed by a long and leisurely visit to Hatchards, London’s oldest bookshop.  The thought of Dickens reminded her of the delight she took in finding rare editions of the classics, or even first editions of lesser-known authors.  Today, however, she was going to enjoy Richoux’s delicious risotto when she lunched with Phoebe, who was staying within walking distance at the Grosvenor House on Park Lane.  Filled with a new surge of energy, the blue-eyed Dana freshened up, brushed her short blond hair, and grabbed a shawl and a pair of unlined leather gloves. The clouds were beginning to part, and the steady English drizzle had let up, but it was still a nippy fifty-four degrees—a perfect spring day in London.
Rays of sunshine were reflected by leaded windows in the rows of eighteenth century townhomes Dana passed as she strolled leisurely through Berkeley Square.  It was only eleven thirty and she had an hour before meeting Phoebe at her hotel, enough time for a short detour across Hill Street and Hays Mews to the Farm Street Church, also known as the Jesuit Church of the Immaculate Conception.  Years earlier, she’d been sitting on a bench in Mount Street Gardens when she looked up and beheld one of the church’s open gothic portals that seemed so inviting, beckoning her to enter and pray.  Then as now, it had been a glorious April day, the kind celebrated by Chaucer in the opening lines of theCanterbury Tales, when spring rains provide rich “liquor” for flowers suffering winter’s drought.

Dana arrived at the church and chose to enter from Mount Street Gardens rather than Farm Street, as she’d done on her original visit.  In the transept to the right of Our Lady of Farm Street statue was the Sacred Heart Chapel, and this is where Dana chose to pray in deference to the Sisters of the Sacred Heart, who’d taught her for twelve years in her youth.  She knelt in the third pew, said a decade of the rosary, and then sat, looking up to admire, as she always did, the glorious painting of the Sacred Heart flanked by four saints above an inlaid marble altar with three brass reliefs.  But instead of finding peace in this pious setting, the silence suddenly became deafening, and the alabaster walls of the chapel began to feel close, confining.  A wave of emotion engulfed her, and she cried uncontrollably, questioning her impulsive decision to end her eight-year marriage—and without considering her vows taken before God, family, and friends. What a hypocrite she felt herself to be—a selfish hypocrite who had turned her back on the faith that was such an integral part of her life.
Glancing at her watch, Dana saw that it was almost noon.  She needed to pull herself together and be on her way to meet Phoebe.  She took a deep breath, wiped away her tears, and walked outside to a bench in Mount Street Gardens, where she would spend a few moments composing herself.
In the sacristy, a priest was marking the readings for the twelve-thirty mass in the gilt-edged lectionary when he heard anguished sobs emanating from the Sacred Heart Chapel.  Curious, he stepped into the sanctuary in time to see a young woman exiting the side door leading to the gardens.  He followed her and observed her sitting on a bench fifteen yards away.  He folded his arms, closed his eyes, and said a brief prayer.  

*                                  *                                  *
Looking in her compact mirror, Dana wiped away the mascara beneath her eyes and reapplied a bit of powder to her cheeks.  She didn’t want Phoebe to see that she’d been crying.  What could she possibly say in answer to any questions her friend might have?  That she was upset over the abrupt manner in which she’d dissolved an eight-year marriage to an inattentive man who’d cheated on her?  No, the emotions that had spilled forth in the chapel had taken Dana by surprise, and they needed to be processed in private moments of reflection.
Dana had been resting her eyes when she looked up and saw a priest approaching the bench.  The Jesuit, a tall man in his early fifties, walked with a confident gait, and the smile on his face was evident when he was still several feet away.
“Good morning,” he said.  “Lovely day.”  He could tell the young woman was upset and,               in point of fact, she wasn’t the only one he’d encountered on the grounds who needed consolation or, at the very least, a friendly smile.
“Yes, Father, it is,” Dana replied.  “A splendid day.”
“Are you on holiday, or are we blessed to have you as a new parishioner?” he asked.
Dana examined the priest’s face more carefully.  He wore rimless glasses, and pale blue eyes regarded her kindly beneath close-cut salt and pepper hair.  He was dressed in a black clerical suit and looked to be strong and vigorous despite his gentle manner.
“On holiday, Father,” Dana replied. “I come here whenever I’m in London and wanted to stop in and . . . visit.  I was taught by the Sacred Heart sisters back in New York.”
“A New Yorker!” Father Macaulay said. “And a member of the family, so to speak.  May I sit?” he asked, motioning to the bench.
A member of the family, Dana thought, again fighting back tears.  Not anymore.
“I’m sorry, Father,” Dana mumbled, rising to leave.  “I’m meeting someone and I’m late.”
Father Macaulay nodded.  “I hope you’ll visit again.  I’m here in the church or the gardens every morning from nine until I say mass.  If you can’t find me, just tell the sacristan that you’re looking for Father Charles Macaulay.”
“Thank you, Father.  Have a good day.”
Biting her lip to fight back fresh tears, Dana and Macaulay shook hands. The priest watched Dana walk out of the gardens, sensing that she was in distress.  He was a good judge of people, and he thought that Dana would surely return to the church before she boarded a plane for New York City.  Somewhere in her soul, he thought, there was unfinished business.
*                                *                                  *
Wearing sunglasses, Dana walked for five minutes along Mount Street until she reached the Grosvenor House.  Phoebe was waiting in the lounge, and after they exchanged warm greetings, they left the hotel for Richoux, which was two blocks away on South Audley Street.
The two women were shown to a small table in the dimly-lit restaurant owing to the dark wood paneling in the main dining room.  When Dana removed her sunglasses, Phoebe immediately saw that Dana was upset.  Her eyes were puffy and her smile was forced.  Phoebe cocked her head and raised her eyebrows, as if to say, Do you feel like talking about it?
“I’m fine,” Dana said, brushing aside the concern.  “Nothing worth discussing.  Now tell me about you, how’s the convention?”
The two women chatted over lunch, Phoebe speaking of the lectures she’d attended on anticoagulation therapy, angioplasty, and catheterization for the diagnosis of coronary artery disease.  In turn, Dana described her new duties at B. Altman.  They laughed at Johnny Cirone’s daily calls and continued concern for Dana since her separation, although Dana was reminded yet again of the excessive attention she was receiving.
“We have to get him married off,” Phoebe said, “or at least find him a serious girlfriend.  He’s becoming a mother hen.”  She paused, knowing that Dana was holding back something painful, but decided not to press the matter.  “By the way, my dad has an offer on his house, and he’s in contract to purchase the estate sale on East 79th Street. It’s a big renovation, so he’s hoping to get approved by the co-op board quickly and start the demo. Johnny is already interviewing contractors.”
John Cirone was moving to Manhattan since his Long Island home seemed far too large since the death of his wife two years earlier.  He’d accepted a seat on the board of the Metropolitan Opera, and Johnny was helping his dad make the long-overdue transition to the city—and to the present, away from thoughts of his deceased wife, Lena.
“It sounds like the convention is keeping you pretty busy,” Dana said.  “Would you like me to pick up Uncle John’s cigars at Sautter’s?  It’s a few blocks from the Lansdowne.”
“That would be a lifesaver,” Phoebe said.  “I have two days of seminars on using something called a stent to open up clogged arteries instead of always resorting to bypass surgery.  It would be a non-invasive procedure, but most cardiologists think it’s still years away.”  Phoebe suddenly burst out laughing.  “And here I am, bringing my father cigars, which is the last thing a cardiologist should do.”
The two women finished lunch, Phoebe heading to the convention for afternoon lectures,
and Dana returning to the Lansdowne Club, where she finished unpacking.
Dana sipped afternoon tea while paging through a book of poems she’d found lying on the end table by the sofa, her thoughts returning to her display of emotion that morning.  Brett had indeed been quickly and surgically excised from her life, perhaps too quickly, and yet she had received no judgments about the decision to do so from her parents.   She was aware, of course, that Virginia had always been a bit leery of Brett, even at the very beginning of their courtship.  As for her father, he was quite unflappable and had reminded Dana that things always work out in the end, which was a part of his lifelong, homespun philosophy that she found so comforting.  And yet Dana couldn’t shake the realization that Brett, despite all of his shortcomings, was a man she’d loved for over eight years.  Should she have given him another chance?  After all, the marriage hadn’t been all bad.  The visit to the chapel, she concluded, had reminded her of Catholic dogma regarding marriage: it was indissoluble.  Mount Street Gardens, the chapel, the brass panels—they’d brought to mind her many years with the Sisters of the Sacred Heart, causing her to second guess her decision.

Leafing through the slightly-worn pages—she thought that older books had such character—she saw Wordsworth’s “Ode on Intimations of Immortality.”  It was one of her favorite poems.  She especially liked the lines towards the end.
Though nothing can bring back the hour
Of splendour in the grass, of glory in the flower;
We will grieve not, rather find
Strength in what remains behind;
In the primal sympathy
Which having been must ever be;
In the soothing thoughts that spring
Out of human suffering;
In the faith that looks through death,
In years that bring the philosophic mind.
The sentiment was essentially that of her father, who had a “philosophic mind” when it came to handling disappointment.  There had been good times in the marriage, but some things were beyond repair, and Dana had indeed retained strength in what remained behind, which was a full life that included friendships and opportunity.  Dana realized how important this trip was—far more than a break from her daily routine or an enjoyable shopping spree.  On her own, she could privately mourn her marriage and process her emotions, opening her mind and heart for whatever lay ahead.  She was at peace again, ready for the rest of her stay in London.  Still, she wondered if Father Macaulay would share her perspective.  The priest had emanated kindness and understanding in the brief minutes she’d been in his presence, and now, feeling stronger, she decided to visit him again before she left London.  He’d demonstrated genuine concern, and she wanted to hear his soothing voice one more time.


Lynn Steward is a successful business woman who spent many years in New York City’s fashion industry in marketing and merchandising, including the development of the first women’s department at a famous men’s clothing store. Through extensive research, and an intimate knowledge of the period, Steward created the characters and stories for a series of five authentic and heartwarming novels about New York in the seventies. April Snow is volume two in the Dana McGarry Series. A Very Good Life was published in March 2014.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Cover Reveal @Alawahea by @saraldaigle #excerpt



Fantasy/Sci-Fi Romance
Date Published: 7/16/2015

Tamara Carrington always felt different. One event in high school left her wondering if maybe she really was a freak, although she’d managed to leave that experience in the past—buried deep in her psyche. With the arrival of the exchange students from the planet of Azelle to her college, Tamara’s long buried memories threaten to erupt. As Tamara’s emotions build and her friendship with the Azellians grows, so does the knowledge of secrets within her own family.
With the deterioration of her mother’s health, Tamara doesn’t know where to turn for answers or solace. What has her family been hiding? Why does she feel inexplicably drawn to the Azellians? What will happen if she unleashes her long-suppressed passion? Will she survive or even recognize herself afterwards? Wanting answers, yet being afraid of what she might find, Tamara wonders if it would be better to remain asleep.



EXCERPT

As they turned to comply, the ambassador walking away with them, Tamara studied the newcomers surreptitiously. The three young men and one young woman all had an air of comfortable confidence quite at odds with their new status here. The young man closest to her was a redhead. His features, even in profile, were delicate and chiseled—his nose a fine, straight blade on his face as he leaned over the table in the far corner. He rested an ol­ive-skinned, tanned arm on the table, the muscles in his forearm etched in sharp relief by the pressure he exerted on his arm. Gen­erous lips pursed as he read the card in front of him. His broad shoulders and chest, well-defined under a white t-shirt with some type of writing on it that she could not see, tapered down to a nar­row waist and slender legs encased in light blue jeans.

The second young man leaned over the table facing her. San­dy-blond hair fell over a high forehead into amber brown eyes as he read—a slight frown between them. His features were much heavier than his companion’s, with a slightly too-long nose and a jaw that was almost too strong. A good four or five inches shorter than the redhead, his dark blue t-shirt stretched across a well-muscled chest that, despite being stocky, had no spare fat on it at all. As he wrote on the card with his left hand, she observed that he was less tanned than the redhead. He nevertheless bore the same basic olive complexion. The dark-haired young man next to him nudged him and said something she couldn’t hear. The one who spoke suddenly grinned—his wide, generous mouth flashing straight white teeth. Black hair fell into his blue eyes, and he tossed his head, catching Tamara’s expression as she looked at them. He winked and returned his attention to the table in front of him.

Not wanting to get caught staring, Tamara looked away. Af­ter a few minutes, she snuck another peek at him. His face re­minded her of someone’s, but she couldn’t place where she’d seen those features before. Relatively small and straight, his nose had a slight flare to the nostril. His jaw was fairly prominent, making his face look long. The generous mouth softened the hard, mascu­line features of his face. He wore a vividly colored t-shirt tucked into a pair of long safari shorts. His thighs were quite heavy and muscular. His upper body was broad and unfinished looking, a little more muscular than the redhead but not as stocky as the blond. Her eyes traveled around the table to the young woman. The same height as the blond, she bent over the table with her back to Tamara. She had wavy brown hair that was cut in an at­tractive, shoulder-length bob and swept behind one delicate ear as she bent over the paper. Tamara couldn’t see her features from that position, but her lithe, slender body looked athletic.

Tamara’s cautious regard swept on to the final member of the group. Standing at the head of the table, the ambassador leaned forward to answer a question posed by the woman. His expression intent on what the young woman was saying, Tamara got the op­portunity to study him more closely. Taller than the other young men, the ambassador in his suit revealed less of his body structure than their jeans, t-shirts, and shorts. She had a moment of disap­pointment. Then, as if he noticed her attention, the ambassador looked up, caught her looking at him, and dodged around the desk to come up to her. Hastily, Tamara dropped her eyes to her desk as he approached, feeling the furious blush crawl up her face.

“You are a student here?” he asked in that musical voice.

Tamara looked up, her cheeks burning. She had a hard time meeting his eyes but forced herself to do so anyway. “Yes. Uh, my name is Tamara Carrington.”

The ambassador leaned against the desk. “Carrington? Would you be any relation to James Carrington?”

“He was, uh, my grandfather.”

“Ah, this is wonderful! We in the diplomatic corps know Am­

bassador Carrington well.” He paused, then continued, “Was? Is he not still alive?”

Tamara ducked her head. “He passed away a few years ago.”

“I’m sorry to hear that.” The ambassador straightened and bowed to her, placing his hand on his chest as he did so. “He was well respected on Azelle. We knew he had been ill, but we had no idea he had actually transitioned.” He rested his hands on her desk. Leaning forward, those dark eyes appeared intent on her. He gave her a charming grin that might have even melted her grandmother’s cold heart. “Well now. Do you mind if I ask what you are majoring in?” Usually feeling fairly secure in herself, she wondered why she was suddenly blushing.

Tamara swallowed hard as she tried to regain her compo­sure—and her ability to speak. “I am, uh, in diplomatic studies. Or I will be when I declare my major this year.”

His grin widened, and he looked at her from under thick lash­es. “Any specific planet you might be interested in?”

Dizziness assailed her as she struggled to remain calm. An odd pressure built behind her eyes and she lifted her hand un­consciously to rub the bridge of her nose. “Azelle is, um, inter­esting. I know more about it than my teacher does sometimes, mainly because my grandfather used to share stories with me. All the other planets are really great, too. I really like learning about other places. I’m not positive I want to be a diplomat like he was, but I do want to learn about other cultures and planets, and diplo studies is the best place to do that.”

The pressure vanished abruptly just as it edged into pain. “Would you be willing to come to the embassy for a welcome party for these students tonight? It would give you an opportunity to mingle with embassy members and get you prepared for a possible diplomatic career.” One side of his mouth lifted higher than the other as his voice took on an almost wheedling tone. “I can also get you access to other diplomatic embassies. I have several contacts in both the Atheran and Dorbin embassies.”

Tamara hesitated only briefly. “Sure, that would be great! I’ll come to the party tonight.”

He straightened. “Seven o’clock, in the main lobby. Bring any of your friends too who you think might be interested in diplo­matic studies.”

Tamara blinked. A slight headache throbbed between her eyes. She managed to ignore it as the young woman stepped up to the desk carrying the eight cards. She smiled at Tamara. “Thank you. Here are the cards you asked us to complete.” The words flowed out of her mouth more heavily accented than the ambas­sador’s, although with the same musical lilt.

Tamara smiled back and collected her thoughts. “Now you need to go to the Dean of Students’ office and get your room as­signments.”

The five Azellians left and the room suddenly seemed empty, as if there had been a lot more than just their bodies in the room. Ta­mara shivered, her head pounding. She flipped through the cards, reading the personal information listed there as she tried to figure out which was which. The only one she successfully identified was the woman, Mellis, since she was obviously the only female in the group. If Tamara attended the welcome party that night, she was sure she’d be introduced to the others—Greg, Justern, and Alar­in—and learn who was who. Pushing aside her curiosity, Tamara focused on entering the data into the computer and tried not to wonder more about them. She’d probably get the chance to find out more, if she actually took the ambassador up on his invitation.

As soon as the five of them walked out of the office, Mer­ran reached out to Greg on his private level so he could converse with him telepathically without the others hearing. Did you pick up that she sensed me?

I caught that she was becoming rather uncomfortable. I think you were hurting her. As a Healer, with a highly specialized sensi­tivity to others’ suffering, Greg often could tell things about peo­ple that everyone else missed. Is that even possible? Do humans even have psi?

Theoretically, yes, they do. We talked about it a little bit in my training. I’m surprised Healers don’t talk about this in theirs.

Healers aren’t exactly all that interested in humans … as you know … considering the challenges I faced getting permission to come here. Back to Tamara Carrington. What did you pick up?

She was open on the surface, but her deeper levels are heavily screened by a very thick shield. When I pressed on it, it resisted me with surprising force.

Is that normal?

I don’t know. I haven’t run into a human with psi before. Wheth­er they normally have it or not, Tamara certainly has a shield, at least on the deeper levels.

Greg was silent for a moment. Shielded, huh? So, you actually think she’s psi?

Sure, why not? I think she very well could be.

Hmm. Maybe I should keep an eye on her.

Merran glanced at him. Is she giving off a Call? He had been friends with Greg long enough to know the Healer responded to things that Merran himself couldn’t sense, but that those some­times odd decisions and directions were important.

Not really. I just have a gut feeling.

I’m not one to argue with a Healer’s gut feelings. Go for it.

Heads up, humans headed this way, Alarin sent on the public level, bringing their attention back to the group. Three women walked past them, laughing and talking, casting an admiring glance at the group of Azellians.

All five Azellians heard the comment


About the Author
Sara L Daigle has been creating stories since she first forayed into the world of writing at the age of eight. As an avid reader, growing up in a small town without much access to a library, and before the birth of the Internet, Sara devoured her mother’s extensive stack of science fiction and romance novels to keep her literary thirst quenched. Soon afterwards, she began writing her own stories and entertaining her friends by composing plays for them to act out.

A passionate interest in astronomy, anthropology, and linguistics, coupled with this early background in science fiction and romance, led Sara to merge the two fields and create a series of interlinked stories built around a fictional planet’s culture and its interaction with ours.

Sara currently lives in Denver, Colorado, with her husband and three very loving but energetic dogs.

Novel Twitter: @Alawahea


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