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Blog Tour: To Be Enlightened – Alan J. Steinberg

Enlighyened copy

Welcome to the tour for “cosmic love story”, To Be Enlightened by Alan J. Steinberg. Read on for details and a chance to win a $100 Amazon e-gift card!

Copy of To Be Enlightened book coverTo Be Enlightened

Publication Date: February 27, 2021

Genre: Contemporary Fiction/ Literary Fiction/ Romance

To Be Enlightened is a cosmic love story that follows Professor of Philosophy Abe Levy as he grapples with what it means to love both his wife, Sarah, and the ocean of silence within. It is also an intellectual exploration of the most intimate of subjects: our consciousness.

Abe Levy’s long tenure as a philosophy professor has motivated thousands of students to ponder age-old questions in light of New Age ideas. Though Abe is passionate about his teaching, he is obsessed with a powerful childhood dream of heaven. To return to that heaven, he must reach enlightenment in his lifetime. Day after day, Abe settles into deep meditation, reaching the very cusp of his goal but unable to cross the threshold. Desperately, he commits to doing whatever it takes, even if it means abandoning his wife for a more ascetic life-a decision that sets off a cascade of consequences for Abe, Sarah, and those he loves the most.

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Excerpt

Vedic wisdom holds that during the forty-eight minutes prior to sunrise, which is called the Brahma Muhurta, a wave of purity and balance sweeps through the world, gently waking it up, along with the birds and other animals. I sip my coffee, enjoying the silence and morning calm. About fifteen minutes before sunrise, the birds start singing praises, enlivening and infusing the atmosphere with optimism for the approaching day. The transition rarely fails to uplift me.

A high-pitched fluttering followed by a distinctive buzzing draws my attention. I look up to see a large, shiny purple hummingbird hovering about a foot above the center of the table, looking at me as if wanting to speak. It flits its beak up, down, and sideways, and—zip! It’s gone. I don’t remember ever seeing a hummingbird so close. I sit for a moment. I know that hummingbird! I’ve seen her many times before in my dream. But she was always a bee.

I do asanas and pranayama and then walk toward our bedroom for my morning meditation. The hummingbird gets me thinking about omens. If there really are omens, does it mean that God communicates with us only at specific, special times? Or is it that at certain times we become still enough to precipitate an omen? Maybe there are always omens and we aren’t aware enough to appreciate them? I bet it’s even more complex than that. I adjust my pillows for meditation. In a half lotus, my eyes close.

Mantra, mantra, maaaantra, mmmannntraaaa, maaa…mantra emerges from shimmering pool, drop of water in reverse. Mantra, mantra, mmmmaa…the place on surface of pool where mantra will emerge begins to move, vibrate…I am observing and hearing the mantra’s emergence from my consciousness. It is separate from the real Me, the observer…The school’s administrative board has asked me to head the search committee for a new chief of campus security. I don’t know anything about security. I’m not going…I observe that thought, and this thought, arise in the same way the Mantra emerges.So interesting…Mantra, mantra, mantraaaaa, maaaantra…surface of pool, no ripples, no thoughts, no feelings coming from body or mind, endless…one side, silent awareness; other side, activity. Mantra, maantraa, mmmmm…mantra barely tickles my expansive surface…Bliss surges through body, mind. Bliss is caused by awareness of subtle disturbance at junction between…Mantra, mantra, mantraaaaa, mmmmmmaaaaaaa…flowing outward, all directions; I am a boundless, luminous mirror between my self and my Self… Mmmaaaa…mmmm…maaaaa…I am the surface of the ocean, impossibly still, deafeningly silent…needing to let go…ready to let go…fearing loss…Mmmmmmmm…decision made, must go forward, will go forward…surrendering all I thought I was for what I am…individuality dissolves: raindrop, ocean…

I am.

I am—the vast, unbounded ocean of consciousness. I am—unmoving wholeness. I was never that body or that mind. I have been observing Abe Levy since the moment he was born, and much, much longer than that. I am—at peace. I am—now awake. I was sleeping before. I can see the sun and the planets clearly. They are so dear to have nurtured Mother Earth, allowing her to birth humanity. I notice distantly that my body is glowing. Time is immaterial and has lost its grip on me…

* * *

Back in my body, I look over at my bedside alarm clock. More than an hour has gone by. I lie down to rest and a deep sleep envelops my body and mind, though I am awake, aware, and witnessing.

I get up and put on my robe. Something is very, very different. It’s as if I am still meditating even though my body and I are active in the world. I am in two places at the same time—the unbounded ocean of consciousness and the bounded world of activity and senses. I have never, ever, felt so good and so focused. I walk to the kitchen, but I don’t seem to be moving.

It happened. The thought comes that I should be jumping with joy, but I’m past that. A more pressing, evolving issue appears to be whether my body can contain my joy. I close my eyes and watch as thin, sparkling beams of Bliss increasingly poke their way through the shell that is my old body, shining out from my new one in a myriad of luminous, waving threads of various lengths and hues. The brightest and most numerous ones are congregated around my solar plexus and the top of my head. The weirdest part of all is that I’m not surprised or concerned by this in the least.

I make oatmeal with whole milk, dried cherries, roasted almond slivers, cinnamon, cardamom, and a hint of nutmeg. I notice something is gone. I am not, in general, an anxious or fearful man, but I now realize I had significant anxiety and fear all my life. I know this because, for the first time, I am completely without those constant companions. Along with my anxieties and fears, my worries about leaving Sarah to go to Fairfield have evaporated. I don’t have to go anywhere now. I am where I have always wanted to be. I’m Here. The weight of responsibility that I had shouldered in guiding Sarah around her triggers has lifted. I think that I can now lovingly support her without feeling bogged down or burdened.

I shower, shave, dress for class, and it all seems to happen automatically, as if I’m uninvolved in the process. I was somewhat intellectually prepared for this, but even after over fifty years of meditation, I’m not prepared experientially. This will take some getting used to.

Walking to my office, the world is delicious. The singing birds are part of me, thrilling me thoroughly from the inside with our perfect twittering. My heart sings with them. My body hums with a hymn as my feet beat the rhythm into the sidewalk.

Available on Amazon

About the Author

Alan Steinberg

Alan J. Steinberg, MD is board-certified in Internal Medicine and practices with the Cedars-Sinai Medical Group in Beverly Hills, California. He also serves as one of the attending physicians for the NBA’s Los Angeles Clippers. He grew up in Las Vegas, Nevada, where he learned Transcendental Meditation (TM) in 1975. Earning his undergraduate philosophy degree at Pomona and Pitzer Colleges in Claremont, California, he went on to attend the University of Nevada School of Medicine, receiving an MD degree in 1984. His first book was a non-fiction consumer’s guide, The Insider’s Guide to HMOs (Plume/Penguin), which garnered favorable reviews in the Los Angeles Times and other publications as well as appearances on The Today Show20/20 and C-Span. The book helped sway the direction that healthcare was heading in the late 1990s. His debut novel, To Be Enlightened (Adelaide Books, 2021), is a work of visionary fiction, inspired by some of his own experiences as a lifelong practitioner of TM. Dr. Steinberg lives with his wife of over thirty-five years in Los Angeles, California. They are the proud parents of three young adults.

Alan J. Steinberg | Twitter | Instagram 

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Spotlight: Everyday Magic – Charlie Laidlaw

EverdayMagic

I am so thrilled to share Charlie Laidlaw’s latest novel with you all, Everyday Magic! Read on for an excerpt and a chance to win a signed edition of the book!

Everyday Magic Front cover FINAL

Everyday Magic

Publication Date: May 26th, 2021

Genre: Literary fiction/ Contemporary Fiction/ Humour

Publisher: Ringwood Publishing

Carole Gunn leads an unfulfilled life and knows it.  She’s married to someone who may, or may not, be in New York on business and, to make things worse, the family’s deaf cat has been run over by an electric car.

But something has been changing in Carole’s mind.  She’s decided to revisit places that hold special significance for her.  She wants to better understand herself, and whether the person she is now is simply an older version of the person she once was.

 Instead, she’s taken on an unlikely journey to confront her past, present and future.

Everyday Magic is an uplifting book filled with humour and poignancy, and reminds us that, while our pasts make us who we are, we can always change the course of our futures.

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Chapter One

When Carole was little, she found a magic clearing in the woods near her home.  She had been exploring, surrounded by oak, birch, and hazel trees, picking her way carefully between bramble and nettle.  There was birdsong, squirrels darting across branches, and patterns of sunlight on the woodland floor.  She had been looking for bilberries, and her hands were full of small black berries.  She stopped to sit on an outcrop of rock by a wide stream that, in winter, could quickly become a torrent of brown water.  In summer, it was comforting; in winter, treacherous.  She ate her bilberries, the stream cascading over a small waterfall; the sound of water in her ears.  It was summer and the stream bubbled crystal clear.  The woodland rose in folds from the stream, and she climbed steadily upwards.  Here, the trees crammed in on her; it was darker.  When she looked up, she could only see sunlight trapped on leaves far above.  It was a part of the old woodland that she’d never been to before, but she pushed on, feeling that she was on an adventure and might suddenly come across a gingerbread house or wizard’s cottage. 

At the top of the hill she found herself in a small clearing.  It was only a few yards across, framed with oak trees, and perfectly round.  Sunlight from directly above made the clearing warm, and she stood at its centre, wondering if she was the first person to have ever discovered it.  Each of the oak trees around the clearing seemed precisely set, each one a perfect distance from the next, and she walked around them, touching each one, wondering if someone had planted the oak trees, or if the clearing really was a magic place.  She still sometimes believed in magic.  Then she stood again at its centre, wondering at its symmetry and why a long-dead sorcerer might have planted the oak trees.  Then, realising that the sorcerer might not be dead, and that she had walked uninvited into his private domain, she hurried away, not sure whether to be frightened or excited.  It was a place she often went back to that summer, and on following summers, sometimes alone and sometimes with her little brother.  They would sit in the centre of the woodland circle, eating bilberries, hoping to meet the sorcerer who had built the clearing.  She wasn’t frightened of him anymore; the clearing was too peaceful to have been made by a bad wizard.  It was their secret place, but mainly Carole’s, because she had found it.  It was a comforting place: it was somewhere she would go if she was sad or angry about something, because the woodland circle and its shifting half-shadows offered calm and new perspectives.  She could almost hear the trees speak to her, the wind in their branches making the leaves whisper, but so softly that she couldn’t understand.  She would listen, eyes closed, the leaves rustling, but she never understood what they were saying.  The circle of trees stood solid and immovable, dark and stoic, old and wise, and each one the colour of stone.

Available Here and on Amazon!

About the Author

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Charlie Laidlaw lives in East Lothian, one of the main settings for Everyday Magic. He has four other published novels: Being Alert!, The Space Between Time, The Things We Learn When We’re Dead and Love Potions and Other Calamities. Previously a journalist and defence intelligence analyst, Charlie now teaches Creative Writing in addition to his writing career.

Charlie Laidlaw | Facebook  | Twitter

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Book Tour Schedule

June 14th

Reads & Reels (Review) http://readsandreels.com

@esmeralda_lagiggles18 (Review) https://www.instagram.com/esmeralda_lagiggles18/

Phantom of the Library (Review) https://phantomofthelibrary.com/

Books, Ramblings & Tea (Spotlight) https://booksramblingsandtea.com/

June 15th

@swimming.in.books (Review) https://www.instagram.com/swimming.in.books/

Jessica Belmont (Review) https://jessicabelmont.wordpress.com/

Books Teacup & Reviews (Review)  https://booksteacupreviews.com/

Rambling Mads (Spotlight) http://ramblingmads.com

June 16th

Nesie’s Place (Spotlight) https://nesiesplace.wordpress.com

@geauxgetlit (Review) https://www.instagram.com/geauxgetlit/

@greeneyedgirl0704 (Review) https://www.instagram.com/greeneyedgirl0704/

@m_books.dogs (Review) https://www.instagram.com/m_books.dogs/

@reads.by.the.sea (Review) https://www.instagram.com/reads.by.the.sea/

June 17th

B is for Book Review (Interview) https://bforbookreview.wordpress.com

The Librocubicularista (Review) https://thelibrocubicularista.wordpress.com/

@theculture.hunter (Review) https://www.instagram.com/theculture.hunter/

Banshee Irish Horror Blog (Review) www.bansheeirishhorrorblog.com

June 18th

The Photographer’s Way (Review) http://www.thephotographersway.org

@jypsylynn (Review) https://www.instagram.com/jypsylynn/

@jenniferclaywood (Review) https://www.instagram.com/jenniferclaywood/

Liliyana Shadowlyn (Review)  https://lshadowlynauthor.com/

@jeyreads (Review) https://www.instagram.com/jeyreads/

The Magic of Wor(l)ds (Review) http://themagicofworlds.wordpress.com

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Spotlight: The Fire God – Michelle Sims

thefiregodtour

Welcome to the book tour for The Fire God Tour by Michele Sims. Read on for more details about this genre-blurring romance! There’s also a chance to win a signed copy of the book!

The Fire God Tour

Publication Date: May 29th, 2019

Genre: Romantic Suspense/ Magical Realism

Miles Moore is obsessed with fire. He can’t help it—it’s in his genes. He’s also the famous performer Ari, an international hip-hop sensation. There are some negatives that come with fame—death threats and life on the road among them—but there’s also a lot of good: fast cars, fast women, international travel, and more money than he can handle. When Bella Wahlberg joins his team as the chief of marketing, she seems like the antithesis of what he’s looking for, so much so that Miles dubs her Belsa the Ice Queen. It would be unprofessional for them to get together, but more than that, she’s unavailable—and deathly afraid of fire. But as they prepare for The Fire God Tour, Miles can tell something is changing. Is he ready to commit himself to one woman? Can fire and ice come together?

EACH BOOK IN THIS SAGA IS A STANDALONE STORY!

Excerpt

Bella powered down her computer in time to see her phone buzzing with a message: the limo driver was minutes away. After locking the front door just as the driver pulled up, she waited while he parked and got out of the car to open the door.

“Thank you.” She got in and sighed, feeling torn that she had to work on her day off instead of enjoying a long hike; yet also wanting to be seen as a team player. Resolved that even though she’d agreed to do this favor for Darien, she would accomplish it as quickly as possible and get away to enjoy nature with Corey.

Traffic was light and the car arrived at the estate quicker than she expected. The butler, Mr. Curtis, dressed in a black suit with a starched white shirt, dark tie, and spit-shined black shoes, greeted her at the door. She sensed he disapproved of her casual attire as he looked her over, jutting out his chin, giving her a loud sniff.

“Good morning, Bella. Darien left instructions to take you to Miles’s bedroom to get the papers.”

She hesitated a bit but followed him as he walked up the stairs to the space regarded as off limits.

“This is quite unusual, since Mr. Moore rarely allows employees other than Parker, Darien, or myself in his personal space, but I was assured it would be okay for you to go into his private suite of rooms to search for the contracts in question.”

She was also uncomfortable being in Miles’s private space, but Darien had been frantic when he’d called. He knew NeNe would be angry if all the documents weren’t there for her review even if she was on a conference call with them and not there in person. He assured her Miles wouldn’t be at the house and he would handle any fallout if he discovered she had been in his bedroom without his permission.

“He had a date last night and planned to stay at his penthouse in the city,” Darien had assured her on the phone before she’d agreed to do him the favor.

Bella and Mr. Curtis were at the top of the stairs when she began wondering if changing her plans with Corey was such a good idea. She liked the hardware store entrepreneur and was glad things were working out between them. He seemed okay with her work obligations in general, but she shrugged at the gnawing idea that Corey might not be okay with anything out of the ordinary at AriMusic, especially if it involved close collaborations with its CEO.

Mr. Curtis opened the door to the bedroom, and she took in the view of the massive mahogany bed, with etches of rams carved into the posts. Tastefully decorated, the room had touches of black and bold red accents. There was a very masculine feel to the room.

Looking around, she discovered his desk with papers on top of it. What piqued her curiosity was the old-style lamp filled with oil next to an ornate candle on his desk.  She began looking for the papers Darien had asked her to find and didn’t notice the bathroom door opening or the presence of someone else in the room.

“What the—” The loud verbal bomb startled her, causing her to spin around and throw the papers in the air.

Miles abruptly cut off the f-bomb and stood still, a few feet away from her, while she froze as she viewed his nude body. She knew he had a great one, but she’d never imagined she would meet Adonis in this lifetime. His beautiful pecs, six-pack abs, and his.. oh my, made her gasp. His thick muscular legs had her face feeling hot and her heart racing.

“Why are you here, Bella?” He initially made no effort to cover himself.

The papers scattered across the floor, blown by the air currents from the ceiling fan whirling above. “Darien asked for a favor, and he said you wouldn’t be at home. He needed these papers for a meeting later today,” she stammered and tried but couldn’t hide her tremulous voice or the shaking of her hands as she tried to gather the papers.

 Breaking her stare, embarrassed by the impropriety of their meeting, she knelt to pick up the papers scattered throughout the room.

Available on Amazon!

About the Author

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Michele Sims is the “author-ego” of Deanna McNeil and creator of the Moore Family Saga. She loves writing hot love stories and women’s fiction with multigenerational characters. She is the recipient of the 2019 RSJ Debut Author Award, the 2018 RSJ Aspiring Author Award, and first runner up in the Introvert Press Poetry Contest for February 2018.  She is a member of  LRWA, in Charleston, SC, and the NK Tribe called Success.

She lives in South Carolina with her husband who has been her soulmate and greatest cheerleader. She is the proud mother of two adult sons and the auntie to many loved ones. When she’s not writing, she’s trying to remember the importance of exercise, travelling, listening to different genres of music, and observing the wonders of life on this marvelous planet. She is currently working on several collaboration projects.

Michele Sims | FacebookInstagramTwitterNewsletter

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Book Blitz: Time Ripper – D.E. McCluskey

TimeRipper

Welcome to the book tour for time-travelling, sci-fi, TimeRipper by D.E. McCluskey! Read on for more details and a chance to win an amazing giveaway– A copy of the book AND a $20 or £20 Amazon gift card! 

516jOXX7aqLTimeRipper

Publication Date: February 25th, 2021

Genre: Time Travel/ Thriller/ Historical Fiction/ Sci-Fi

Publisher: Dammaged Productions

It is the year 2288, and Earth is reeling from the most horrific terrorist attack it has ever endured.The Quest, a pseudo-religious splinter group, have taken a stance against the Earth Alliance’s authority of the planet.It is down to Youssef Haseem, now the highest-ranking official left in the EA, to build a team to face the threat of total inhalation if he doesn’t stand down and bow to The Quest’s demands. Then the leaders of The Quest disappear, and a legend emerges in the year 1888. But just who is the mysterious stranger stalking and viciously killing women on the streets of Whitechapel, London?A mission is launched! A battle of wits against time itself. A fight to be played out in the present and the past, with the fate of humanity at stake.Legends can happen anytime…

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About the Author

Author Photo

My name id David McCluskey, I am an author from Liverpool in the UK. I have written seven novels so far. TimeRipper is my latest. I started writing about 15 years ago, beginning with short horror stories for children that were written in rhyme. I enlisted the services of an artist and created my very first comic from them. Interesting Tymes is a great seller at comic conventions around the UK, as it offered something that a lot of comics these days don’t, something for the children to get their teeth into (so to speak).

I then began to create more comics, some for children, some for adults, before creating my own graphic novels. Doppelgänger is a dark psychological horror, Olf is a children’s graphic novel about Father Christmas and his reindeer, A Christmas Carol is a rewriting of the original tale, but in rhyme, and DeathDay Presents is an adult comedy based in Hell.

From there I moved on to writing novels. My debut novel The Twelve is still my best seller on Amazon.

I write under the name of D E McCluskey for my adult fiction, and I will be launching a children’s range of novels this year under the name Dave McCluskey (I don’t want children buying some of the other horror based stuff by accident).

I still live in Liverpool with my partner, Lauren, and our children, Grace and Sian. We have a sausage dog called Ted, who likes to leave little sausages around the house, just to remind us why he is a sausage dog.

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Book Blitz: Born in Salt – T.C. Weber

I’m thrilled to share this brand new Dystopian Thriller, Born in Salt by T.C. Weber with you all today! Read on for more details and a chance to win a digital copy of the book, in your format of choice!

PSSSST! It’s also available for review! Contact R&R Book Tours for more info!

BornInSalt_ebook_cover_FINAL

Born in Salt

Publication Date: May 1st, 2021

Genre: Alternate History/ Dystopian

Fifty years after a coup replaced President Franklin D. Roosevelt with a fascist dictatorship, America is a land of hopelessness. Ben Adamson, a 19-year-old farm boy in southern Illinois, wants only to spend his time fishing and hunting. But when his dead brother demands justice for his suspicious fate in a colonial war, Ben and Rachel, his brother’s fiancée, are drawn into an underground revolutionary movement.

After staging a rally against the war, Ben and Rachel are arrested by the Internal Security Service, who have perfected the science of breaking people. Ben is given a choice: betray the rebels, including his best friend from childhood, or Rachel will be lobotomized.

Although traumatized and addicted to a powerful drug, Ben refuses to doom anyone he cares about. Can he find a third option? Can he free Rachel and strike back at the dictatorship, while dodging the suspicions of police and rebels alike?

Excerpt

The New Bethany Town Square was a small grassy space in front of the county courthouse. Main Street split into two here, running to either side of the square and the courthouse before recombining. To the south of the square, it ran past most of the stores. To the north, it passed the city and county police stations, then a stretch of newer buildings and houses.

The year after I was born, 1965, was the twentieth anniversary of retaking the Philippines from the Japanese, forcing them into an armistice. Every town got a statue. In New Bethany, the government erected a marble Marine in the middle of the town square, rifle held high in triumph. It wasn’t an ideal spot to call for an end to war, but it was the only public space in town.

Rachel lived only a few blocks from the square, but I insisted on picking her up. The police would have seen the flyers by now, and might want to arrest her before we even started.

I was late again. Rachel stood on her front porch, wearing her funeral dress and tapping a foot. She carried a paper shopping bag in one hand, and scowled at me.

“Sorry I’m late.” At Rachel’s insistence, I’d put on my suit, and it took me forever to get the damn tie right. “Are you sure you want to do this? Talking to people one on one is a lot safer.”

Her face tightened even more. “It’s a little late to back out now. Besides, God blesses the righteous and Jake will be with us.”

I led Rachel to the truck and opened the passenger door for her. “Let’s get it over with, then.”

I parked on Lincoln Street, just off Main, and we hopped out into chilly gloom. Dark clouds gathered in the west, threatening rain. I focused on the task—swung down the tailgate and pulled out the mike and amp I’d borrowed from Jesse, the band’s bassist. He’d kill me if they got wet.

The amp had a power inverter so you could run it off a car battery. Together they weighed at least a hundred pounds, so I’d strapped them to a stand-up dolly. No mike stand, but I had enough to carry as it was. I handed Rachel the black microphone case and cables and she slipped them in her bag.

A couple dozen people were in the square, wearing coats over Sunday suits or dresses, the women’s hats sprouting feathers of near-extinct birds. I recognized Alyce and maybe half the others.

Rachel’s face fell. “I was expecting a lot more.”

“Maybe they’re afraid,” I said. “Or it’s the weather.”

“Or they don’t care. The weather is fine.” She straightened. “We’re early. More will come.”

My stomach seized. Figures squatted or lay on rooftops around the square, pointing guns and cameras.

Atop the three-story law office building, a suited man held a long-lensed camera. Next to him, a man in black body armor braced a high-powered rifle on a tripod while another peered through binoculars. Opposite the courthouse, on the First Consolidated Bank roof, more of the same. On the east side of the square, city police aimed guns out the second-floor windows of the column-fronted City Hall.

The courthouse itself had a peaked roof. After the coup, the government had added a wooden bell tower on top, from which, I supposed, you could see the whole town. Beneath the purely decorative bell, half hidden by white columns, a dark-suited man stared at us through binoculars. A sheriff’s deputy pointed a rifle with a fancy scope.

I’d never seen anything like it. Security for visiting politicians, sure, but nothing like this.

The clock on the bottom of the tower read 12:18. We had twelve minutes to prep or escape.

“Do you see the snipers?” I whispered to Rachel.

“Yes.” Her voice quivered. “But we’re not doing anything wrong. They’re just trying to intimidate us.”

She was probably right. They wouldn’t actually shoot us. Or would they? We were easy targets, standing still in the open. They could take their time and go for a head shot.

Past the bank, I spotted Paul standing outside the New Bethany Diner, sipping soda or something from a jumbo-sized paper cup. No sign of the others. Not surprising, since the group hadn’t approved our rally. And it was better Sarah wasn’t here—that would just add to my worries.

Rachel hugged Alyce and other people she recognized, then reached in her bag and pulled out my brother’s portrait, the one that had been propped on his casket at the funeral. She leaned it against the base of the soldier statue.

Behind the picture glass, Jake smiled at me. I plugged the mike into the amp and clipped the amp to the car battery. I flipped a switch and the power light turned green. I tapped the mike, and the speaker thumped.

I wanted to hurry this up and waved Rachel over. I handed her the mike. “You’re on.” The battery would last at least an hour, but I doubted we would have that long.

Rachel examined her filigreed watch. “Let’s let the crowd grow.”

I glanced at mine. 12:30.

More people arrived. But half were cops—city police, county police, state police, and eight men wearing silver long-sleeved shirts, black pants, and matching ties. Their caps bore a perched eagle clutching a saber and whip. Internal Security.

New Bethany’s gray-haired police chief paced back and forth, carrying a megaphone. The Internal Security troops stared at us, long batons and compact submachine guns fastened to their belts.

My knees shook. “Rachel, I’ve got a bad feeling. Really bad. We should go, right now.”

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About Author

TW author photo

Ted Weber has pursued writing since childhood, and learned filmmaking and screenwriting in college, along with a little bit of physics. Trapped at home during the “Snowmageddon” of 2010, he transformed those interests into novel writing. His first published novel, a near-future cyberpunk thriller titled Sleep State Interrupt, was a finalist for the 2017 Compton Crook award for best first science fiction, fantasy, or horror novel. The two sequels, The Wrath of Leviathan and Zero-Day Rising, are also available. His latest release, Born in Salt, pits an Illinois farm boy against a ruthless fascist government that took power in a coup. Mr. Weber is a member of Poets & Writers and the Maryland Writers Association, and has run numerous writing workshops. By day, Mr. Weber works as an ecologist, and has had a number of scientific papers and book chapters published. He lives in Annapolis, Maryland with his wife Karen. He enjoys traveling and has visited all seven continents.

For book samples, short stories, and more, visit https://www.tcweber.com/

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Blog Tour: Ellipsis – Kristy McGinnis

Ellipsis

We have a very exciting week ahead for Kristy McGinnis and her novel, Ellipis! Both a blog tour AND a bookstagram tour are kicking off today! Read on for more info!

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Ellipsis

Publication Date: February 5th, 2021

Genre: Women’s Fiction/ Literary Fiction

Publisher: Glassy Lake Publishing

The future looks promising and it’s supposed to come easily.

Smart, determined and beautiful; college student and art model Nell seemed to be the girl who had it all. When she finds herself engaged in a passionate relationship with one of the art students, the future seems only brighter. Unplanned pregnancy will change everything though, and she has to find a way to build a very different life than she envisioned. For thirteen years she and her son Charlie are a unit and her world is complete. That world will stop spinning though, when there’s a shooting at Charlie’s school. As she reaches out via text in desperation, only the words and the animated ellipsis on the phone screen offer a buffer between life and death. Can she save the person on the other end of the messages in time, and in the process can she save herself too?

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“Once, on a family trip to Tucson, I witnessed a blooming cereus cactus. The fragile snow-white flower bloomed just one night a year, stretching greedily for sun’s rays it would never feel. I can’t help but wonder now, did it know about its short-lived fate, or did it preen with clueless vanity under the haughty glow of moonlight?

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About the Author

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Kristy spent her childhood as a Navy “brat” and her adult years first as a service member and then as a Coast Guard wife. A lifelong wanderer and now emptynester, she’s set permanent anchor in Virginia Beach, Virginia with her husband and that most rascally of rascals- her cat Percy. When not plucking away at her keyboard or eagerly devouring every book she can get her hands on; she enjoys theater, beach combing, hiking, wine tasting, and obsessively planning the next journey.

Kristy McGinnis | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook | Goodreads

Ellipsis

GIVEAWAY: SIGNED COPY OF BOOK (INTERNATIONAL)

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Blog Tour: Murder, It’s All in Your Head – Cynthia Hilston

MurderIt'sAllinYourHead

Welcome to the book tour for supernatural thriller, Murder: It’s All in Your Head by Cynthia Hilston!murder_ it's all in your head_new

Murder: It’s All in Your Head

Publication Date: December 5, 2020

Genre: Supernatural Thriller/ Horror

Someone has been getting away with murder for over 100 years in the small town of Hurston, Ohio. But the wrong person has been convicted of those murders every time. In 2018, Cassie Meadows is on her way to school when a bright flash comes out of nowhere, and she wakes in millionaire Randy Davis’s body with blood on her hands…the blood of Randy’s wife, who lies in a pool of crimson in the bathtub with her throat slit. Meanwhile, an old man everyone calls Jimmy Williams raves that he’s the real Randy Davis as he lives out his days in a ward for the criminally insane. In 1914, young Helen Hawkins is unloved and repetitively abused by her father, who is also the town’s pastor. Her only escape is in her dreams, where she wakes in others’ bodies, living other lives, but when her dreams turn out to be reality, the tables are turned on her father. In a story where no one is who they seem, how can Cassie, the latest victim accused of a murder she didn’t commit, end the cycle?

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Excerpt

Cassie pedaled her bike faster to school as thoughts of staying home alone on senior prom night plagued her. A flash of light blinded her. She shielded her eyes. Horns blared and tires squealed, and the whole bike shook to a stop.

When she opened her eyes, a wall of old books stared back. She rubbed her eyes and blinked rapidly, taking in her surroundings. Gone was the familiar tree-lined street with rows of 40-year-old ranches and split-levels. Sunlight filtered in through parted drapes. Unlike her house, where dust danced in light beams, this room sat still.

Her sweaty hands clenched into fists at her sides, her nails digging into her palms. A chill jolted up her spine and extended down her arms, freezing her in place. She gazed across the room. Marble pillars flanked an archway to another room across the vast library.

A faint noise came from another part of the building. Curiosity claimed her caution as she took a step. Realizing her fingers were wet, she glanced down and nearly fell over. Blood covered her large hands all the way to her thick fingertips!

Cassie gasped. She reached for her throat. A sharp intake of breath.

“What?” she croaked in a foreign voice.blo

A dream. This must be a dream. Her voice rang through her mind, but when she opened her mouth to speak again…

“This can’t be happening.”

Cassie’s hands grasped her throat, in a failed attempt to excise the vocal cords responsible for this new voice. When her fingers grazed whiskers, she raked them over the jaw and cheeks.

“No. N-no.” What the hell?

She closed her eyes and forced herself to take a long, slow breath. Okay, okay. Calm down.

When her eyes opened yet again to this new reality, Cassie gave a shuddering gasp. She felt like she was doused with ice water, the burn throbbing through her body. She tried to step again, but she wavered in this oversized body that wore like a linebacker’s uniform. The large feet lumbered with a clumsiness contrary to her agile body. For a girl who had taken gymnastics since she could walk, the dragging, teetering movement of this form almost stopped her efforts. But Cassie willed herself to move. One step at a time.

Just do the best you can. Her mom’s words echoed through her mind.

Her steps were short-lived as her dad’s advice died. She halted. A trail of red on the spotless marble floor led to an archway. Her nerves fired in overtime, and her head spun. She followed the path and exited the elaborate room into a hallway.

The sound was louder now. The unmistakable sound of running water.

“What’s going on?” Cassie whispered. She tried to ignore the voice. Really tried.

Something moved out of the corner of her eye. She turned her head to the right and landed on her reflection, only it wasn’t her face. A tall man of about thirty stared back. She ran her hands through the trim brown beard that contoured the strong jawline, confirming what she felt earlier. Liquid brown eyes under thick, wavy hair and a deep brow held confusion, panic. A sleek black business suit covered her well-built frame—fit for an executive who dined on caviar and champagne and rode in chauffeured limos. But against the black of her suit the blood extended, weaving an unknown horror story.

She shook her head. “This is impossible.” Yet the voice told a different story.

Her body trembled, and her whole being felt different. Cassie’s eyes fell on a picture frame below the mirror. Her fingers fumbled to pick it up. A younger version of the man in the mirror gazed out of the photo. He smiled, his face next to a gorgeous auburn-haired woman. The woman’s hazel eyes crinkled around the edges, her freckles standing out against her fair skin in the sunshine. It was a happy couple’s wedding photo.

Cassie returned the picture to its place, the frame now coated in blood. A drop of crimson marked the floor every few inches. This body must have come from the opposite direction through the house, for how else could she explain the blood everywhere? She rested a hand on the railing at the base of the stairway and gazed up the twisting steps. The running water came from upstairs. She took the first step and steadied herself. Something drew her toward the source of that sound.

Cassie reached the landing and glanced behind her. Her mark was on the railing, another path of blood. The tell-tale trail continued, decorating the floor in a macabre design, as she went down the hallway toward the sound. Her knees wobbled as a dizzy spell overtook her. She steadied herself with a hand to the wall and blanched at the red print she left.

Call the cops.

I don’t know what the hell’s going on.

She pushed herself from the wall and arrived at the bathroom. Water leaked under the door.

The knob slid under her slick hand. She used the end of her sleeve to grip it and pushed the door open enough to peek inside. Pink water flooded the marble floor. Her gaze traveled to the bathtub. Water spilled over the tub’s edge. A woman lay sprawled in the tub, her vacant eyes staring at the ceiling, her mouth open in a scream. Her head lay at an odd angle, her neck nearly cut in two. Blood ran from the gaping gash into the water.

Cassie tried to scream, but her stomach tightened. Bile rose and she vomited into the pooling water and blood. She slammed the door and collapsed against the outside, pulling her knees to her chest. Water soaked her pants, making the fabric stick to her clammy skin. The tall frame of the man’s body convulsed with the sobs of a teenage girl as she cried into her hands. Hands that weren’t hers.

“I want my mom.”

She couldn’t get the dead woman’s face out of her mind. As the scene replayed through her head, Cassie realized where she’d seen the woman before. In the photo. She had been this man’s wife.

Available on Amazon

About the Author

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Cynthia Hilston is a stay-at-home mom of three young kids, happily married, and lives in the Cleveland, Ohio, area. Writing has always been like another child to her. After twenty years of waltzing in the world of fan fiction, she stepped away to do her debut dance with original works of fiction.

In her spare time – what spare time? – she devours books, watches Supernatural and Outlander, pets her orange kitty, looks at the stars, drinks wine or coffee with good friends, and dreams of what other stories she wishes to tell.

Cynthia Hilston | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

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Blog Tour: Nothing Man – R J Gould*

One man in need of an overhaul. Two women determined to drag him there.
Neville Watkin’s life is so rubbish surely things can’t get any worse. Yes they can, because his wife leaves him, he loses his job, has a car crash and ends up in hospital.

Feisty Laura, the other party in the car crash, befriends him and sets out to turn his life upside down.
For reasons he struggles to understand, Caroline, her equally feisty mother, seems to like him.
Rather a lot.

All in all things are looking up, but is Neville courageous enough to seize these new opportunities?

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Richard writes under the pseudonym R J Gould and is a (rare male) member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association (RNA). His first novel was shortlisted for the Joan Hessayon Award following his participation on the RNA New Writers’ Scheme. Having been published by Headline Access and
Lume Books, he now self-publishes.

He writes contemporary literary fiction about relationships, loosely though not prescriptively within
the Romance genre, using both humour and pathos to describe the tragi-comic journeys of his protagonists in search of love.

Nothing Man is his sixth novel, following A Street Café Named Desire, The Engagement Party, Jack and Jill Went Downhill, Mid-life follies and The bench by Cromer beach.

Ahead of writing full time, Richard led a national educational charity. He has been published in a wide range of educational journals, national newspapers and magazines and is the co-author of a major work on educating able young people. He lives in Cambridge, England.

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Blog Tour: Shame of it All – KT Grant

Shame of it All

Welcome to the blog tour for new Psychological Thriller, Shame of It All by K.T. Grant! Today I have an excerpt for you to read and a chance to win  1 of 3 digital copies of the book!

55850991._SY475_Shame of It All

Publication Date: December 6th, 2020

Genre: Psychological Thriller

*Trigger Warning : Violence/ Sexual Assault

Revenge is a dish best served cold. But for Mercy Pryce her revenge will scald one’s soul and leave behind a burnt-out husk if she has her way.

Mercy has returned to her hometown of Cartleigh, New York after twenty years. The lakeside community is the perfect location for Yakim Zeldovich, her Russian billionaire employer’s state of the art manufacturing facility. Acting as a consultant for Zeldovich, she’s on an undercover mission, not as an angel of mercy, but one of mischief, deceit and torture. Her ultimate goal is to ruin Cartleigh because of a horrible trauma she suffered in high school. The one responsible for her wrath is Colton Hahn, Cartleigh’s  beloved mayor, and the object of her retaliation. The town’s golden boy, who she once adored as an impressionable teenager, brutally raped her and left her for dead at seventeen.

Consumed by years of grief and growing rage, she has targeted Colton, who may also be responsible for the death of her best friend, Marina, his fiancé. She will avenge Marina and finally take down the monster who tried to ruin her life.

Her success may come at a horrible price. But it will all be worth it if she can take away everything Colton holds dear, including him surrendering his heart and soul to her in the process.

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Excerpt

The Grand Oaks was a well-known venue for sophisticated affairs. Valet parking was a given, which Ari didn’t complain about, although he acted a bit embarrassed by his eight-year-old sedan. I didn’t mind because the make and model didn’t prove the worth of the individual driving it. Most of those who drove luxury cars were trying to make up for something they lacked. Yakim had many cars at his disposal, but he always stuck to his Lincoln Navigator, since the car reminded him of his grandfather. His father had the same fondness for that type of car but mainly used chauffeurs to get around.

“You’re probably used to all this glitz and glamour,” Ari said as we walked up the short flight of stairs into the foyer.

“I’ve attended my share of swanky parties and balls but they can be exhausting. Unless you want to, we don’t have to stay until it ends. We could always have a nightcap at one of our houses.”

“We’ll see how the night goes.” He twined our fingers together as we moved toward the banquet hall. “The only type of event I’ve been to that compares to this was my sister’s wedding, and there were a hundred guests, give or take.”

I laughed and rubbed his arm, wishing if only for the next few hours, we were an actual couple. But I wasn’t here to engage in that fantasy for either one of us. I had to find my mark and entice him in more than just conversation.

Most of the men wore tuxedos like Ari’s. The women showed off their attributes with their dresses and hair, much like I had done. The room swelled with so many people, it made me wonder if it was a safety hazard even though the majority of the guests remained at the bars on each side or surrounded servers passing trays of food. A few occupied the small dance floor near the bandstand. Based on attendance, I would say the event was a success. Yakim would be pleased because not everything would be fake when he pulled out of the negotiations. I would be long gone when the deal collapsed and those in this room realizing they had been conned.

“Are your feet hurting? Want to sit down, and I’ll get us some drinks?” Aril led me to a table and pulled out a chair.

“That would be nice.” I accepted the seat and glanced around while he did, finding Karine and her husband nearby, along with Agnes. Not surprising, Colt was next to them. They had formed their own intimate circle near the corner of the bar. I leaned into Ari so I could stare at the group over his shoulder.

“Get me a cabernet.” I kissed his cheek and hugged him at the exact moment Colt turned his face toward me. He stiffened.

“You got it.” He kissed me back and walked to the bar where Colt stood. Ari stopped near two men who shook hands with him. Since he might spend some time talking, I decided to disappear for a few minutes. But before I did, I posed for Colt’s benefit. He moved in my direction, and I backed away and left the room.

I strolled down to the lower level where a sign on the wall pointed me in the direction of another set of restrooms. I glanced behind to see Colt stopped by some people. I kept moving because the only reason anyone would venture here was to use the toilets. He would eventually find me.

I entered the restroom consisting of a small sitting area that led to three stalls and a sink. The light automatically came on when I entered, but it could also be turned off manually. I sat on a love seat and waited all of three minutes before the door opened and Colt entered, shutting it behind him.

He blocked the door but didn’t lock it. I wasn’t worried because for him to attack me again would be monumentally stupid on his part. The camera in the hallway had recorded him entering after me. I could bring it up as an extra layer of protection but only if necessary. Plus, I would be taking control of this situation, not him.

“Nice dress. It suits you.” He leaned on the door with his hands in his coat pocket.

He was dressed in an almost-identical tuxedo to most of the men here. Other than his good looks, nothing would make him stand out in this crowd. But I would be nice and play along with the compliments.

“You look good in a tuxedo, but you already know it.” I stood, laying my clutch on the seat next to me.

“In my line of work, wearing a tux or a suit is a given.” His sad sort of smile didn’t move me in any way.

“Why did you follow me here?” The answer would be obvious, but I wanted to hear him say it.

“You wanted me to.”

The lack of accusation in his voice annoyed me. He was stating a fact, but his words had a huge underlying meaning because of our past. A man accusing a woman of wanting something from him was beyond insulting. Because it was Colt, I assumed it would be sexual in nature. What I would give freely, he would take.

“You assume I want many things from you. Have you thought I just want you to notice me and nothing else? You used to do the same in high school, before and during our hidden affair.” I used air quotes around the word affair and approached him.

“Did you ever tell Ari about us?” He took his hands out of his pocket and lowered his arms to his sides.

“Why would he care about something twenty years ago that doesn’t concern him?” I folded my arms behind back.

“He doesn’t know anything?” He shifted closer.

“What is the anything you’re worried I’ll tell him about?” I tapped my chin with a lacquered nail. “Perhaps the same anything you didn’t share with your dead fiancée?”

He grabbed me by the arms and spun around, shoving me into the door. He breathed heavily, and his grip tightened to the point he might leave marks.

“Have I triggered you without saying the actual words? What if I say them?” I wanted to snarl and hit him but remained impassive, as if he wasn’t manhandling me.

He closed his eyes and inhaled through his nose, ending with a short rattle. “I can’t do this with you. It’s…shit.”

I should be impressed I had such power to affect him in such a way he was torn up inside. If only I had the same power when we were teenagers. It was going to be easier than I thought. I relaxed into the door. “You want me.”

He opened his eyes and mouth but didn’t make a sound until he groaned and knelt in front of me and clutched my hips. He pressed his face in my stomach, making me spread my legs open so I wouldn’t join him on the floor.

If he expected me to rub his head and hold him while he was wracked with guilt, he would be horribly disappointed. Any sympathy would be a mockery. Any intimacy acted upon was a means to an end for me. This time, I would have all the power.

“You want me to forgive you for raping me?” Finally saying to him directly what he did to me should have been cathartic, but I wanted to be cruel. I tugged on his hair, making him stare up at me as vindication swept through my body. For the first time since Marina died, I felt so alive.

“I don’t know.” He fell back on his heels. “What I did was wrong but it was so long ago, so if you’re thinking of—”

“Hush.” I tapped his nose and stepped around him to sit on the love seat. “You can make it up to me, and no, I’m not going to blackmail you.” Yet. “What I want from you will be enjoyable for us both.”

I wanted to cackle, not that I had ever done anything like it, but the astonishment on Colt’s face was beyond comedic. He must think I was crazy since it was beyond comprehension his victim would proposition him for some type of sexual act after he violated her violently years ago.

If he had dropped to the floor in shock, I wouldn’t have been surprised. But he remained standing, just staring like one would do if they saw a car accident.

“What do you want from me?” His voice cracked, but the front of his pants tented with his penis.

“You owe me gratification because you took it away from me so long ago.” I hiked up my skirt to my thighs and then checked my watch. “You have less than eight minutes to make me come. I’ve been in here long enough, and Ari will start to worry.”

Either mentioning the time restraint or Ari’s name forced Colt to act. He took a huge step toward me, bent down, and braced his hands behind me. It was the closest we had been to each other since that night at the lake. Back then, I was terrified. Now, I was calm and collected because I held all the power. He couldn’t hurt me even if he wanted to because he was transfixed, under my spell.

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About the Author

KT Grant Bio Picture

KT Grant is a self-proclaimed eccentric redhead who not only loves to read a wide variety of romances, but also loves writing it. As a former book blogger and entertainment columnist with a bad coffee and Twitter addiction, she still doesn’t shy away from voicing her opinion. A proud native of New Jersey, KT is multi-published and writes Gay, Lesbian and Straight romance. KT has also been a top ten best-selling author at Amazon. KT loves to hear from readers. You can drop KT an email at ktgrnt@gmail.com.

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Shame of it All

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Blog Tour: Portrait of a Man – Vicky Adin

PortraitofaMan

We’re celebrating the release of Vicky Adin’s latest historical fiction, Portrait of a Man! Read on for an exclusive excerpt and a chance to win a print copy of the book!

518bD0tN5FLPortrait of a Man

Publication Date: October 23rd, 2020

Genre: Historical Fiction

Will the secrets of the past destroy an artist’s legacy?

Matteo Borgoni is a desperate man. He must succeed if he is to free his beloved wife, held captive by her father in Melbourne. His picture framing skills establish him with the artists of Dunedin in 1863, but he has many doubts, and many more obstacles to overcome.

Fifty years on, Luciano, a rakish Italian portrait artist on the run from his past, turns up at the Invercargill branch of Borgoni Picture Framers seeking refuge. As the ravages of World War One escalate, fear is constant, but compassion brings unexpected consequences. A terrifying pandemic is the last thing they need.

Over a century later, a man recognises a portrait in an Auckland gallery, and demands it back. Amid another global pandemic, a marriage on the brink of failure, and a life and death struggle, the portrait exposes generations of family secrets and deceptions with life-changing results.

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Excerpt

January 1863

The Arrival

Matteo Borgoni walked off the ship like a man reprieved. He closed his eyes and inhaled the early morning air, detecting the usual animal dung and the grease and tar of a busy harbour, but also something fresher, more life- giving. Seagulls squawked overhead, searching for tiny fish among the seaweed rippling against the wharf piles for their breakfast. “This,” he sighed with a lighter heart than he’d had in a long time, “this is where life begins again.”

At first glance, Port Chalmers was more makeshift and primitive than he’d expected after Melbourne. Wooden buildings stood haphazardly along the main street and scattered over the hillside. The port hummed with activity, which pleased him. A busy port was good for business, but he hoped the city of Dunedin – some eight miles south-west – would be more prosperous. He heaved his bag onto his shoulder and, dodging horses, carts, trolleys and people laden with goods and baggage, he followed the steady stream moving along the wharf to where the authorities were waiting.

He’d seen the likes of many of his fellow passengers before. Poor miners and prospectors coming from the gold rushes of Victoria hoping for better luck. Most would move on again, empty-handed and defeated. A few had families, dragging them from one rough-and- ready tent town to another in the hope of striking the big one. He’d met a handful of Italians among them. Crazy people, in his opinion.

A voice from behind announced the presence of a toffee-nosed Englishman.

“This way, my dears, follow me.” He pushed his way forward as he escorted his wife and daughters to wherever they were going. “Make way, I say. Make way for the ladies. Coming through.”

Eventually, the queue moved along, and Matteo’s turn came.

“Name!” barked the official, who ticked him off the passenger list and waved him on.

At thirty-five, Matteo had seen a lot of living. He was barely twenty-one when he left his home near Lake Garda in Northern Italy – a tiny hamlet surrounded by snow-capped mountains in the Dolomites, where life was measured from one festival to another filling the square with customs and chatter. On the odd occasion, he’d returned when money allowed. When he didn’t have the funds, he wrote to his sister, Gabriella, who understood him; understood why he needed to leave the traditions and shackles of the small village behind and find a new life; why he had no freedom in their tiny three-storey brick home living the peasant lifestyle. His dreams were too ambitious to be confined.

As he walked towards the village, the sun pleasantly warm on his back, he let his dreams fly free again.

“Hey, Matteo,” a fellow Italian called in heavily accented English. “You come?”

“Si, I come.”

Over the years living in Melbourne, Matteo had learnt to speak English. Now it was his everyday language, even with other Italians. There were too many regional differences to speak his mother tongue to passing strangers.

The younger man clapped him on the back and together they made their way along the dirt road. Trees covered the hillside, and the lush, green countryside appealed to Matteo.

He’d arranged for his packing crates to be transferred directly to Dunedin, but the new paddle steamer, designed for the shallow waters of Otago Harbour, wouldn’t be leaving for a while yet – and he needed a drink.

“Let’s go.”

With a beer in hand, they sat in a crowded barroom of the Royal Hotel, taking in their new surroundings.

“So, tell me, what brings you here?” asked Stefano, his accent far stronger than Matteo’s.

“A new adventure.” Matteo shrugged away thoughts of his past failures.

“Gold. You look for gold. I go look.” The young man’s eyes gleamed at the thought of making his fortune, as many others had yearned to do in the goldfields of Australia and New Zealand.

“No, I’m a businessman; a craftsman. I set up shop here.”

Matteo had soon learnt that life was a case of ‘each man for himself’ when the madness of gold took hold. He’d seen too many fools work themselves to death for a few ounces of the shiny metal hidden in veins in the rock, and had far bigger plans than living the filthy, harsh life of a miner.

“What, no gold? Then why you leave if you have business?”

“Leave where? Home, or Melbourne?” He didn’t want to talk about why he’d left Melbourne. No one here needed to know.

Stefano pulled a face. “I think I know why you left home. My papa say things not the same since Risorgimento. Si? Unification. Phht! He asks how can the north be like the south when our food and our words are different? People fight to keep what is theirs of right; they don’t want change. They don’t need one nation. They want to be Trentino men like you, or Tuscan like me. Friends, but not the same.”

“Si, infatti,” Matteo agreed, wondering how much Stefano had experienced first-hand, given his youth, and how much was his father’s opinion. Nothing was as simple as he made it out to be. “I left during the ’48 revolution – it was that, or fight, and I did not want to fight. Detesto politica. Generation after generation, many revolutions. One side say this; the other that. I don’t want to know.” But if what his cousin Alessandro had written was true, there was much infighting and disagreement still going on. “But it is better to be one people – Italian people – than be ruled by foreigners, si?” He sipped his beer and curled his lip at the bitter taste.

The men continued to chat about the strife still going on at home as the states fought to become a kingdom, or not – depending on which reports came from where – resolving nothing, and agreeing life was better away from it all.

 “Which way you go to Dunedin?” asked Stefano. “By paddle steamer, why?”
“I’m told there’s a new road now, over the hills.” “So I heard, but by all accounts it’s no more than

a bridle path and not suitable for wagons. And I need to transport some goods – belongings I brought from Melbourne. Do you have a horse?”

Stefano shook his head. “No. I use all my money on the ship here and on a licence and tools for mining. I walk.”

“There are many seagoing craft between here and Dunedin; perhaps you could work your way …” Matteo paused before he came to a decision. “But come with me. I could do with some company on our first night. I buy a ticket.”

“Truly? You let me travel with you?”

Matteo nodded, glad to have someone to talk to for a while until he got settled.

They ordered some food and more beer while they waited for the ship’s whistle to alert them to its departure. Within the hour, they were boarding The Golden Age.

“A good omen for me, si?” laughed Stefano on seeing the name.

“Maybe it is,” agreed Matteo as they made their way up the gangplank.

“Welcome aboard this magnificent vessel during her first week of operation in this wonderful harbour,” said the captain. “It is my pleasure to transport you to Dunedin, and I personally guarantee your safety.”

Matteo leant against the rail admiring the new paintwork and studying the intricate construction of the paddle wheels and saloon facilities.

“I hope he’s right,” he said to Stefano in a soft voice. “From what I hear, all is not well. They left one of their owners behind. He was supposed to captain it on its maiden voyage over here. And then they struck a big storm and the ship was damaged.” Matteo wondered how unusual a rough crossing was, given his own less- than-comfortable passage. “They left the cook behind, too. Locked up, they say, for stealing the engineer’s watch. Not a good start.”

“How you know all this?”

Matteo lifted his shoulder. “I ask questions.” He looked around to make sure no one could overhear him. “I heard another story. About a Signor Alexander Leys, the engineer, who disappeared overboard a few days ago. I wonder how the captain can say everyone is safe when he lose someone.”

“Incredible!” said Stefano, agog at Matteo’s words.

“Not so much. Pays to be careful, that’s all,” said Matteo in warning. “But I’ve got better things to worry about. First task, find good vino – if such a thing is possible. I cannot survive on that beer.”

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About the Author

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Award winning historical fiction author, Vicky Adin is a genealogist in love with history and words.

After decades of research Vicky has combined her skills to write poignant novels that weave family and history together in a way that makes the past come alive.

Fascinated by the 19th Century women who undertook hazardous journeys to find a better life, Vicky draws her characters from real life stories – characters such as Brigid The Girl from County Clare and Gwenna The Welsh Confectioner, or Megan who discovers much about herself when she traces her family tree in The Cornish Knot.

Her 2019 release, The Costumier’s Gift, is the dual-timeline sequel to the family sagas of Brigid The Girl from County Clare and Gwenna The Welsh Confectioner.

In 2020, Vicky released Portrait of a Man, the soul-searching and heart-warming conclusion to The Cornish Knot.

Vicky Adin holds a MA(Hons) in English and Education. When not writing you will find her reading – she is an avid reader of historical novels, family sagas and contemporary women’s stories; travelling – especially caravanning, and cruising with her husband and biggest fan; and spending time with her family.

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