Saturday, March 31, 2018

This Week on Books Direct - 31 March 2018

This Week on Books Direct -
31 March 2018

This Week on Books Direct -  31 March 2018

Here's a list of some great articles you may have missed this week. Enjoy!

According to their website, the International Edible Books Festival (IEBF) “unites bibliophiles, book artists and food lovers to celebrate the ingestion of culture and its fulfilling nourishment. Participants create edible books that are exhibited, documented then consumed.”

Everyone Get Ready For The International Edible Books Festival by Simon Reichley for Melville House

How Writing Poetry Helped My Prose by Ban for Mythic Scribes
Find out how practising writing poetry improved this author’s prose.

How Writing Poetry Helped My Prose by Ban for Mythic Scribes

Publishers Are Urged To Monitor Amazon Buy Buttons by Jim Milliot for Publishers Weekly
Amazon’s year-old policy of letting third-party sellers compete for buy buttons is here to stay.

Publishers Are Urged To Monitor Amazon Buy Buttons by Jim Milliot for Publishers Weekly

If you have an interest in starting to write fiction or improving your writing, this course is for you.

Free How To Write Fiction Course With Future Learn by Penelope Silvers

A bookseller has been convicted of stealing a rare edition of a Harry Potter book worth £1,675 by swapping it with a novel of “very little value”.

Bookseller Convicted Of Stealing Rare Harry Potter Novel by BBC News

Folio Academy members have overwhelmingly said prize should be closed to US novelists.

Top Authors Make Mass Call On Man Booker To Drop American Writers by The Guardian

Independent booksellers in the US have said the online release of John Oliver’s surprise title is ‘a slap in the face’ for stores on the frontline of diversity.

Marlon Bundo: Booksellers Furious Over Decision To Launch On Amazon by Allison Flood for The Guardian

Writing might seem to many to be a solitary activity, but actually, community is a huge part of being a writer. A creative writing group is a great way to motivate yourself to keep writing, to give and get support from other writers, and to receive feedback on your work.

11 Tips For Starting A Creative Writing Group That Works For You & Your Fellow Writers by Melissa Ragsdale for Bustle

If you have writer's block, maybe try wearing a hat like Dr. Seuss!

The Weird Habits Of These Famous Writers Will Surprise You by Arianna Rebolini for BuzzFeed

If you enjoyed this blog post, please visit the other This Week posts for links to more great articles.

Friday, March 30, 2018

"The Day I Saw the Hummingbird" by Paulette Mahurin

The Day I Saw the Hummingbird
by Paulette Mahurin

The Day I Saw the Hummingbird by Paulette Mahurin

Author Paulette Mahurin stops by to share an excerpt from her latest book, The Day I Saw the Hummingbird. You can also read my review.
For more books by this author, please check out my blog post on The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap and my blog post on The Seven Year Dress.

On the eve of his tenth birthday, a young slave’s life is turned upside down. The unthinkable events that led up to the day Oscar Mercer saw a hummingbird test the limits of this young boy’s body, mind and soul. Gripped with fear and filled with anger, Oscar faces raw, crushing hatred aimed at him and everyone he loves. In a time when a nation was ripped apart geographically, economically, politically and morally, comes a story of a courageous boy who began life as a slave on a sugarcane plantation in Louisiana and escapes via The Underground Railroad. Through the efforts and good will of kind, brave people determined to free slaves, Oscar faces devastating obstacles and dangers. Struggling with his inner impulse to seek revenge for the injustices and violence levied on his family and friends, he discovers that in bondage you pray to God, but in freedom, you meet Him.
From the award-winning, best-selling author of The Seven Year Dress comes a story that brings another cadre of memorable characters alive on pages that pulse with hatred and kindness, cruelty and compassion, despair and hope. Oscar’s journey on the Underground Railroad is a heart-pounding ride that the reader will remember long after this story ends.

I came to understand that freedom wasn’t just escaping the chains, guns, dogs, and oppressive laws - the institutional barriers that existed for me and people like me. And still do to this day. No! My personal freedom came from inside of me when I realized that, no matter where I am, my thoughts and feelings are the invisible chains shackling me, the master enslaving me. My attitudes shaped my life. And life is too short to harbor bitterness. There is too much to be grateful for to burn daylight on resentment. That was the realization that set me free.
[Want more? Click below to read a longer excerpt.]

Praise for the Book
"A superb portrayal of courage and strength of the human spirit. A poignant and unforgettable page-turner. I loved every page." ~ Jan Petken, bestselling author of The Guardian of Secrets
"Riveting must read that presents a deep and textured depiction of slavery and the nightmare to freedom. A story that must be told. A true masterpiece." ~ Ellie Midwood, bestselling and award winning author of The Girl from Berlin and Emilia
"This was a novel I will not forget for a long time, as it depicts not only the evils of slavery and racism, but the solidarity and compassion of friends and strangers who work for good. It is a journey for the reader that is highly recommended." ~ Oregongirl
"Another fine example of history brought to life. The book is filled with words of wisdom about life and endurance - not only for slaves seeking freedom, but also for those never bound by the chains of slavery. In a world filled with hatred, this book gives hope for a way to stop perpetuating the violence. The writing and characters will touch your heart." ~ R3
"Ms. Mahurin's book offers both insights and hope with regard to our past, present, and future." ~ Chris

My Review
I received this book in return for an honest review.

By Lynda Dickson
The book begins and ends in 1914, when Oscar Mercer attends a talk given by Booker T. Washington honoring Harriet Tubman, the woman responsible for coordinating the Underground Railway and, therefore, securing Oscar’s freedom.
Oscar reminisces about his life, from his birth in 1852 into a life of slavery until the time he gains his freedom, aged ten. As a child, he stands by helplessly as friends and family members suffer the cruelty inflicted by the plantation’s foreman. When he is five, the slaves start hearing tales of “a Negro woman who was working with a group to help free slaves.” That woman is Harriet Tubman. We never meet her, but her presence runs through the narrative. Another milestone in Oscar’s life is when he gets the opportunity to learn how to read and write. He is drawn to comment, “Why do learning things feel so good?” Then, on the day he sees the hummingbird in the field, a chain of events is set into motion that ends in tragic consequences but eventually leads to his freedom. Armed with a Bible, a dictionary, and the skills taught to him by “conductors” with the Underground Railway, Oscar finally makes it to freedom. It is a gruelling journey from Louisiana to New York City, during which his faith is tested and he learns the true meaning of freedom.
Throughout, Oscar maintains his spirit and resolve by recalling his mother’s words of wisdom: “My mama’s womb had given me life, but it was her wisdom implanted in my brain that kept me alive.” She imbues in him the belief that “Skin color don’t make us no less a person.” This belief is reinforced when he meets the many (white) people who are willing to help him on his trip along the Underground Railway: “I was overwhelmed with relief when I realized that people are people. Simple as that. And the color of my skin doesn’t make me less of a person. It doesn’t separate or define my humanness. No, what makes some less human is hatred and hateful actions.”
In the Foreword, the author gives us some background into how she came to write this story: “In many southern states, educating slaves to read or write was illegal. […] I incorporated the element of educating slaves into this story and, in particular, with the protagonist and narrator of the story. […] Many of the scenes depicted were adapted from historical notes, letters, and other documentation from slaves who lived to tell their stories.” She succeeds admirably in giving us a look into the psyche of the young slave Oscar and rendering a heartbreaking account of the atrocities committed in the name of greed and prejudice.
Oscar’s story will haunt you for a long time after you have finished reading.

About the Author
Paulette Mahurin
Paulette Mahurin is a best selling literary fiction and historical fiction novelist. She lives with her husband Terry and two dogs, Max and Bella, in Ventura County, California. She grew up in West Los Angeles and attended UCLA, where she received a Master’s Degree in Science.
Her first novel, The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap, made it to Amazon bestseller lists and won awards, including best historical fiction 2012 in Turning the Pages Magazine. Her second novel, His Name Was Ben, originally written as an award winning short story while she was in college and later expanded into a novel, rose to bestseller lists its second week out. Her third novel, To Live Out Loud, won international critical acclaim and made it to multiple sites as favorite read book of 2015. Her fourth book, The Seven Year Dress, made it to the top ten bestseller lists on Amazon US, Amazon UK, and Amazon Australia. Her fifth book, The Day I Saw the Hummingbird, was released in September 2017.
Semi-retired, she continues to work part-time as a Nurse Practitioner in Ventura County. When she’s not writing, she does pro-bono consultation work with women with cancer, works in the Westminster Free Clinic as a volunteer provider, volunteers as a mediator in the Ventura County Courthouse for small claims cases, and involves herself, along with her husband, in dog rescue. Profits from her books go to help rescue dogs from kill shelters.


Thursday, March 29, 2018

"Comes the Winter" by Samantha St. Claire

Comes the Winter
(The Sawtooth Range Book 3)
by Samantha St. Claire

Comes the Winter (The Sawtooth Range Book 3) by Samantha St. Claire

Comes the Winter is the third book in The Sawtooth Range series by Samantha St. Claire. Also available: Kat’s Law and High Valley Promise.

Kat’s Law by Samantha St. ClaireHi Valley Promise by Samantha St. Claire

This book blast and giveaway is brought to you by I Am A Reader.

Avalanches, isolation and snow blindness were stark realities for those daring to remain in Idaho’s Sawtooth Range through the harsh winter months. For city dweller, Lena Sommer, the warnings seemed exaggerated.
In the fall of 1886, Lena leaves behind a life fraught with disappointments and loss only to arrive in Sawtooth City and find the man she’d pledged to marry has been killed. To return east is unthinkable; to stay is ill-advised, but she resolves to remain and manage the man’s lodging house despite the warnings. More than her stubborn nature influences her decision. From her first glimpse of this mountain valley, she falls captive to its wild beauty. Feeling she has at last found a hearth to call her own, she eagerly puts down roots. Sharing her love of literature with her lodgers before a warming fire, she builds a family of lonesome souls, where dreams awaken.
However, one man stands apart, disturbing her peace with ominous warnings to leave before winter comes. Evan Hartmann knows from personal loss that winter snows bring to these mountains both unimaginable beauty and death. He is also a man conflicted, because as much as he’d like for Lena to leave the mountains, his heart longs for her to stay.

Book Video

Dead tired, Evan stumbled up the steps to the porch. His body yearned for sleep even more than food. A full day of back-breaking work followed by a one-hour ride in a stiff saddle made the prospect of a soft bed all the more enticing.
A sound and small movement to his left brought him fully alert. An animal, a bear perhaps? One had taken to roaming the river bank this summer looking through garbage. He pulled his gun from its holster, taking slow quiet steps across the porch. The shadow moved. Now he could discern the pattern not of fur but a quilt. Maybe one of the men had come home drunk and decided to sleep it off out here.
Then a slender, bare ankle, attached to a pale white foot, emerged from the corner of the quilt. A woman? Here?
He slid the gun back into its holster. Standing in front of her now, he saw the face framed by dark curls, softly falling across her cheek. Standing there with the moonlight caressing each curve of her face, he wondered if he were asleep. Maybe he’d come off the mountain, walked inside the house and was already dreaming of this angel.
She shifted, sending Evan scuttling back into the shadowed edge of the porch. He held his breath lest she see him and think him up to some mischief. Drawing her foot back within the folds of the blanket, she settled back into sleep. In a moment, her breathing changed to that of a very human being, not at all angelic. He considered that for a moment. Who was he to say angels didn’t snore?
He remembered then, Nash’s expected lady. This must be her. Most conjectured her to be an older woman, certainly not a woman possessing such an ankle as this one, or a cheek as comely.
Evan frowned. Bad business, this. The poor woman. He scratched at his beard, newly sprouted for the coming winter months. Turning back to the door, he left the sleeping angel to her dreams. He had little doubt she’d be on the first wagon out of the basin, off the mountain before winter locked the doors to the outside world. Or she would if she knew what was good for her.
[Want more? Click below to read a longer excerpt.]

Praise for the Book
“This story has a surprise ending which will delight fans of romance/adventure novels who have read too many scripted endings. This is a terrific read, a great novel!” ~Readers’ Favorite five-star review
“St. Claire has a wonderful ability to make the characters, the history and the scenery come alive. She is an enchanting writer! Romances normally would not be my genre of choice, and yet I find myself totally engrossed in her stories. I have actually found it difficult to put the book down. Wonderful job! I look forward to more of her writing.” ~ Amazon customer
“A most emphatic 5 stars. I’ve already bought the first two now that I finished this one, and will bookmark this author as one to follow. I will recommend this book to anyone – wonderful!” ~ Amazon customer

About the Author
Samantha St. Claire
Samantha St. Claire was born in 2016, the alter-ego and pen name of an author of historical fiction born a few decades earlier. She may have found her niche in western historical fiction, served up sweet. Never faint of heart, her signature protagonists face the hazards of the frontier with courage, wit, and a healthy pinch of humor.
The road from college graduation led due west where teaching in a small Arizona town fulfilled childhood fantasies on multiple levels. Hiking and backpacking the canyons and desert fed her imagination with the landscapes she would use later in life as an author. A few years passed before a change in jobs took her to California where her love of western history was further fed and her first novel of Russia’s Fort Ross Colony came to life. But Idaho sparked her interest in the history of the magnificent central mountain ranges and Samantha St. Claire began her first series, The Sawtooth Range.
Follow her blog to read more about the research that has helped develop the characters, towns and stories of The Sawtooth Range series and the Whitcomb Springs series.

Enter the blast-wide giveaway for a chance to win a $50 Amazon gift card or PayPal cash.


Wednesday, March 28, 2018

"Crossing the Line" by Ellen Wolfson Valladares

Crossing the Line
by Ellen Wolfson Valladares

Crossing the Line by Ellen Wolfson Valladares

Crossing the Line by Ellen Wolfson Valladares is currently on tour with YA Bound Book Tours. The tour stops here today for an excerpt and a giveaway. Please be sure to visit the other tour stops as well.

Laura, who died thirty years ago, enlists the help of a tenacious high school reporter named Rebecca, who is very much alive. Rebecca, although skeptical and conflicted by her supposed encounters with a spirit, determines to learn the truth about Laura’s tragic death. As the clues unravel and their worlds collide, Rebecca finds herself at a dangerous crossroads.
Laura, now pulled back into everything she left behind when she died – her old high school and memories of her life and death - has been in training for this exact moment. And nothing means more to her than succeeding at her assignment.
It is her one chance to make sure that what happened her does not happen to anyone else, and especially not to her new friend, Rebecca.

Chapter 2 - Laura
I bolted out of my chair, ran out of the library, across the lawn, and up the twenty-some steps of Academy Hall. I couldn’t wait to tell Danny and everyone my good news. I looked up at the red brick bell tower and realized the bells hadn’t chimed. What was I hurrying for? Class wasn’t starting yet.
I sat down at the top of the steps. It was a gorgeous, sunny, breezy day, as always. Students were sitting by the lake, walking on the paths, and hanging out on the lawn. I’m finally getting used to this place, I thought.
I looked over at the wide, green lawn area, remembering my first day here.
“You’ve been selected to attend The Academy,” a voice had said to me.
Then suddenly, I was sitting on a big field of damp grass with a bunch of other kids my age. I was sure I had finally woken up.
“I guess it was a dream,” I said.
“What?” A boy sitting next to me had overheard me.
“Where are we?” I asked him.
“The Academy. They didn’t tell you?”
I ran my fingers through the soft blades of grass. It felt so real.
“Yeah,” I said. “But where exactly are we? This might be a strange question, but we’re alive, right?”
Then this boy, who was wearing a Members Only jacket, broke out into annoyingly loud laughter. He stopped abruptly when he saw that I wasn’t finding it funny.
“Oh, no,” he said, catching his breath. “You’re still dead. I promise.”
“Oh.” If it was true, assuming this kid knew what he was talking about, it was just so different from anything I’d experienced so far.
“Are you sure?” I questioned him. “Because this all looks so real. You look real. I think I can even smell the air.” I inhaled. “Yeah. That’s nice.”
He nodded and smiled. “I know. It’s amazing, isn’t it? I can’t get over it either. They want us to feel like we’re really in school. It’s like this agreed-upon visualization stuff they do in the Spirit world, I forget what they call it. Like the hospital I was in before here. Man, it felt real, ’cept no drugs or nothing.”
The boy reached out his hand. “I’m Gary.”
“Hi. Laura.” When I shook his hand, I knew he was right. What I felt wasn’t the touch of another person’s skin. It was more like the subtle energy bumps I’d gotten used to in the Spirit world. Where I’d been was nothing like this place, though. After my death, some beautiful angels and my Aunt Rita, who’d passed away from cancer, had led me to this place called the Transition Zone. They told me I would rest and rejuvenate there. It was this vast oasis of light and all of us there were formless bodies of light within it. Strangely enough, while there were no physical bodies to distinguish us, we still had some individual energy that helped us recognize others. I was told by this important being of light to think about what I desired next. The options were endless, including going back to a new life in the physical world. All I knew was I wanted to help others and then I ended up here. Now I had a body again, and from what I could tell, I looked and felt pretty much the same. There were other people around me, and grass I could feel, and buildings in the distance, so much like the physical world. What the heck was going on?
Gary got up and put out his hand.
“C’mon. Ceremony’s about to start.” He pulled me up.
[Want more? Click below to read a longer excerpt.]

Praise for the Book
“Ellen Valladares delivers a unique coming of age story that delves deep into teenage angst with a believable and fresh take on the supernatural.” ~ Book critic Oline Cogdill
“What a great read! I did not want to put it down, and it kept me interested and curious right up to the very satisfying end.” ~ Lisa V.
“This book is one of a kind, captivating and engaging no matter what your age. The story is creative, the characters are well developed, interesting and totally relatable if you were ever a teenager, parent, or adult.” ~ PrudentPennies
“Such a creative story! The dialog was spot on and it really made you think about the beyond! I am not normally a believer of spirits and mediums, but this book definitely had me imagining the possibilities. Very entertaining for all ages!” ~ Dana

About the Author
Ellen Wolfson Valladares
Ellen Wolfson Valladares is an award-winning writer/author, workshop facilitator, community volunteer, and mother. A native Floridian, she grew up in St. Petersburg and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism from the University of Florida. She has worked as an editor, public relations professional, and freelance writer. Her newest release, Crossing the Line from WiDo Publishing, is a young adult novel about a teenage spirit from the 1980’s who befriends a current-day high school girl in the hopes of preventing a similar tragedy from occurring again.
Her first book, a middle grade novel entitled Jonathan's Journey to Mount Miapu, received several awards, including a Mom’s Choice Gold Award and the 2009 Coalition of Visionary Resources Visionary Awards Book of the Year award. She also has a meditation CD, entitled “Healing and Manifestation with the Archangels.”
After her first child was stillborn in 1995, Valladares became dedicated to helping families suffering a similar loss. She volunteered as a peer counselor to help bereaved moms, ran a support group called “Surviving Pregnancy After a Loss,” and helped create and run an annual event for grieving families. In addition, she is a past president of the Board of Directors of Healthy Mothers-Healthy Babies Coalition of Broward County, Inc.
Valladares has also taught numerous workshops in the South Florida area on a variety of metaphysical topics, including angels, intuition, meditation, and life purpose.
Today, Valladares continues to work as a freelance writer. Currently, she writes for several alumni magazines at Nova Southeastern University in Davie, Florida. She is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI) and a member and former Board member of the Florida Authors and Publishers Association (FAPA). She also enjoys working as a college essay coach for high school students and helping other writers realize their dreams.
She has been married to her husband, Manny, for close to 30 years (May 2018) and they have two sons, Gabriel and Michael, two dogs, Flash and Chili Pepper, and a crazy cat named Zelda. They live in Weston, Florida.

Enter the tour-wide giveaway for a chance to win one of three signed copies of Crossing the Line by Ellen Wolfson Valladares.