Saturday, October 18, 2014

My Town in Three Photos - Kansas City

by Heather Manning
1. Kansas City is known as the city of fountains. So what better way to celebrate our baseball team, the Royals, making it to the World Series than dyeing all of our fountains Royals blue?


2. Kansas City is a city rich in its history. (Perfect for a historical author!) Its the home of President Truman, the site of a gigantic Stockyard, and much more. Here's our gorgeous, historical Union Station all dressed up for Christmas.


3. Not all of KC is historical! This town also has a surprisingly expansive theatre scene. This is our almost-brand-new Kauffman Center for Performing Arts. Looks straight out of Sydney, Australia! This center is home to two theatres and can be used for events. I have seen my share of musicals there!


Thursday, October 16, 2014

AP Author Spotlight: Mercedes King

Mercedes King


Twitter ID: @Mercedes_King_

Describe yourself in three words:

Stubborn. Control-freak. Hates-being-late-anywhere. Oops, wait, that's my husband describing me...Okay. Three words. Creative. Passionate. Intuitive. Yeah, let's go with those...

Tell us a little about your latest release:

Plantation Nation is the story about Emma Cartwright, a 16 year old girl who leaves her family's rice plantation and joins the Union Army--disguised as a young man. She's an idealist, passionate and devoted, but sorely unprepared for the sacrifices and challenges she faces. Complicating matters further, she falls in love for the first time...with her commander.

That is your earliest memory?

I can remember a big yellow Ryder truck in my driveway and my family packing to move from Kentucky to Ohio. I was a toddler, and for some reason that "One Way" logo printed on the side of the truck scared me. Fortunately, I got over it. No issues today with yellow trucks.

What would you consider the greatest moment in your life?

Definitely becoming a wife and mom were the greatest moments! There's no better gift, no higher calling. And I have to say, when it comes to my husband, wow, I chose well.

What’s the hardest thing in in life you’ve done?

The hardest thing ever was taking care of funeral arrangements for my mom after her battle with cancer. You never see something like that coming and wrecking your treasured relationships. But, I'm thankful she's in a better place, healthy and whole.

What have you learned in life so far?

I've learned that common courtesy and respect for ALL is so important. For me, I also feel that we need to love those important to us in big ways and small ways. Life is pretty precious and laughing, making memories, enjoying each day should be a priority.

Everyone’s favourite question: if you could invite five people for dinner, who would it be?

First off, please tell me I'm not cooking! While I can 'cook', I think my guests might not be enthralled with...toast. Anyway, five people: Jackie Kennedy, Marilyn Monroe, Tim Gunn (of Project Runway), Luis Ortiz (of Million Dollar Listing), Lu Ann (from Real Housewives of NYC). Wait, is my addiction-affection for reality TV / pop culture showing? Maybe I just need to hang out in New York. Nobody cooks there, right?

Chance for our readers - what else would you like to know about Mercedes King?

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

RELEASE DAY: J.L. Salter "The Ghostess & Mister Muir"

Though he doesn’t even believe in spirits, it takes only one haunting for Levi Muir to become entranced with the beautiful ghostess.
            A young veteran recovering from a wrecked relationship, Muir moves to Magnolia for his first year teaching high school English and resides in the renovated old hotel, which everyone knows is haunted.
            Despite his skepticism, Muir senses a presence, then smells a unique perfume. Later, he locates an old portrait of beautiful Danielle Gregg, who lived in that suite a century ago, but experienced a tragic death.
            His lovely new colleague, Lucy (science teacher and dedicated Spirit-Chaser), tries to convince Muir that the supernatural is real… and not to be taken lightly. Though Muir has been attracted to Lucy since the first day he spotted her, something begins to jam his thoughts whenever she enters his mind.
            Intrigued by the beauty and sensuality of the mysterious woman in the portrait, Muir tries to learn more about the ghostess and her untimely demise. Though still skeptical of ghosts and hauntings, Muir can’t shake the feeling there could be more to Danielle’s mysterious 1914 death than the locals believe.
            The more Muir encounters the lovely ghostess, the stronger his desire for even more contact! But Lucy’s willing to fight for Levi’s heart, because no self-respecting Southern girl takes second place to a spook.
My newest novel is “Hid Wounded Reb,” released by Astraea Press in August 2014. My other published novels (with Astraea) are: “Called to Arms Again” (May 2013), “Rescued By That New Guy in Town” (Oct. 2012), and “The Overnighter’s Secrets” (May 2012).  Also released through AP are the short novellas, “Echo Taps” (June, 2013) and “Don’t Bet On It” (April, 2014). Also, “Curing the Uncommon Man-Cold,” a screwball comedy released by Dingbat Publishing in December 2013… and its prequel, “Scratching the Seven-Month Itch,” which is due for release by September 2014.
Romantic comedy and romantic suspense are among nine completed novel manuscripts.
I’m co-author of two non-fiction monographs (about librarianship) with a royalty publisher, plus a signed chapter in another book and a signed article in a specialty encyclopedia. I’ve also published articles, book reviews, and over 120 poems; my writing has won nearly 40 awards, including several in national contests. As a newspaper photo-journalist, I published about 150 bylined newspaper articles, and some 100 bylined photos.
I worked nearly 30 years in the field of librarianship.  I’m a decorated veteran of U.S. Air Force (including a remote tour of duty in the Arctic, at Thule AB in N.W. Greenland).
I’m the married parent of two and grandparent of six.
Now available on
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Chapter One
Friday, August 15
“Aren’t you the new teacher who lives in the spooky old downtown hotel?” asked the female voice behind Levi Muir. Lurching into the flimsy cart against the faculty lounge wall almost caused him to spill his freshly poured coffee.
Turning, Muir realized the speaker was his attractive young colleague with lovely tanned legs. “I’ll be at the Whitecliff Apartments. Don’t know anything about a hotel.”
She moved closer and extended her sun-bronzed hand. “I’m Lucy Tierney, science department. Starting my sixth year.”
Nice to know there were some five year survivors at Magnolia High. “Levi Muir, English department. Rookie.”
“I know, Levi. We can all spot a newbie, but you look older than most.” Intently peering into his eyes, she smiled faintly. “Were you held back in college?”
Muir shrugged but didn’t explain.
“Have you been assigned a mentor yet?”
“Uh, don’t think so. Don’t recall it coming up.” His eyebrows lifted. “Are you…?”
“Oh, heavens no. Not me. I won’t serve as a mentor until my seventh year, at the earliest.” Then she lowered her voice. “The School Board even requires our principal to mentor someone each term and I’m betting she’ll take you on herself.” Lucy winked. “Mrs. Gull isn’t very inspiring and doesn’t make the time for effective mentoring, but she likes bossing the young single guys.” She pointed to his left hand.
Is she fishing for my status? Muir couldn’t arrive at an appropriate reply.
“So what do you think of your apartment in the legendary old Majestic Hotel?”
He winced with his bum ankle as he stepped to one side to let others access the dinged thirty-cup percolator. It was the final day of orientation and professional development training; Monday would be D-Day… when the students began classes. “Haven’t really stayed there yet, Miss Tierney. Tonight’s my first night.”
“Lucy. You’ve been here every day this whole week. Where have you been staying?” She pointed vaguely south, toward town.
“An aunt lives in Magnolia. My apartment wasn’t ready yet. Didn’t realize school started so early here. In fact, all I got was a nickel tour from a shrimpy manager who kept looking over his shoulder.”
Lucy nodded like she knew the man. “Where’s all your stuff?” She looked behind him as though it would be near. “Piled in the driveway at your aunt’s?”
Muir shook his head. “Left some things at my aunt’s, but I don’t really have too much besides what’s in my pickup. That’s why I was so intent on finding a furnished apartment.”
Her nicely-toned arm tensed as she reached for an empty cup, but she frowned and put it back down. “The coffee’s awful here.”
Already noted.
“Have you seen those old hotel furnishings?”
“Didn’t really notice, except to be sure I had a bed and a chair.”
“What about table and stove for cooking your meals? Plus couch and extra chair… for all your visitors?” Her warm smile suggested she’d be willing to be among them.
And attractive company she’d be. But Muir wasn’t ready to engage any new females right away… not after that awful split with Eva. “Don’t really cook, at least not worth mentioning. And not expecting many visitors, since I really don’t know anybody here except Aunt Martha.”


RELEASE DAY: Dana R. Lynn "An Inconvenient Courtship"

Mr. Darcy is determined to find a wife he can love and respect.  He is fascinated by the lively Miss Elizabeth Bennet, but is determined to forget her due to her low connections.  Until an act of jealously puts her life at risk.  Faced with the bleak reality of living without her forever, Mr. Darcy must examine what he really wants.   With the assistance of Colonel Fitzwilliam, his sister, and Elizabeth’s father, Mr. Darcy works to save Elizabeth’s life.  If he is lucky, he will then be able to win her heart.
Dana R. Lynn grew up near Chicago, but now lives in rural Pennsylvania with her husband, three children, and enough animals to fill a small petting zoo.  She is an avid reader, and enjoys a wide variety of genres and authors, although her favorite will always be Jane Austen.  She loves writing inspirational stories, both contemporary and regency.
Now available on
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Chapter One
What was the matter with him?
Darcy scowled as he paced back and forth across the length of the library. He could barely believe his actions of the past few days. To allow his control to slip so badly! And all because of a mere country girl, who was far beneath him. No money, no connections, and that family of hers!
But in spite of these objections, Darcy continued to find Miss Elizabeth Bennet everything that was fascinating and lovely. Not that he had always thought so. No, indeed. When he had first spied her several weeks ago at a dance, he had barely noticed her. His mood had been too dark. He even allowed himself to make a disparaging remark about her to his persistent best friend, Charles Bingley. He had come to Hertfordshire to help Bingley get his new estate in order, not to socialize with the local beauties. Yet, he found his interest in Miss Elizabeth growing with every meeting. Still, he was able to squelch this unseemly fascination with the second of the five Bennet sisters. Or so he had thought. Then, several days ago, the eldest Bennet sister, Miss Jane Bennet, had become ill while visiting Bingley’s sisters. Of course, she had to stay as their guest until she was healthy enough for travel.
Although Darcy thought of Bingley as a brother, he didn’t much care for Bingley’s sisters. Miss Caroline Bingley had travelled to Hertfordshire to act as Mr. Bingley’s hostess, for it was one of the unwritten rules of the gentry that a single man could not entertain guests at his house without a hostess. Darcy would have been fine with Miss Bingley if she would leave him alone. But Miss Bingley had decided she wanted to marry Darcy. For his estate, no doubt. She was constantly batting her eyes and complimenting him. Louisa Hurst, Bingley’s married sister, was slightly better. Still a snob, but less obvious about it. She had dragged her husband to Hertfordshire so she could keep Miss Bingley company.
Darcy chuckled as he remembered the expressions on the faces of Bingley’s sisters when Miss Elizabeth had been shown into the breakfast room the next day.  They were appalled to learn she had walked three miles to visit her sister. Three muddy miles, judging by the state of her skirt. Darcy admitted that he had enjoyed the past few days in her presence. She was unlike any woman he had ever known. Her conversation was witty and clever, and her playful manner challenged him. She paid him none of the compliments he was used to receiving from young women desiring his attentions. He had even allowed himself to forget his objections against her. Until her mother and younger sisters paid a visit, that is.
Darcy grimaced as he thought of Mrs. Bennet and her three youngest daughters. Their behavior was thoroughly shocking. It was the first time he could ever recall being in accord with Miss Bingley. She had openly disparaged the family to her brother, trying to point out the disadvantages of the connection. Bingley, however, stood firm in his defense of Miss Bennet, whom he declared an angel. But even Bingley could not defend Mrs. Bennet. He remembered Mrs. Bennet’s taunts as she and her youngest daughters visited Netherfield Park under the guise of checking on “Dear Jane”. She had apparently decided that Darcy was the enemy and aimed poorly veiled barbs his way throughout the visit.
Miss Elizabeth, however, had tried to defend him, her cheeks scarlet with mortification. Darcy came to a stop as he remembered the agonized, apologetic glance she had shot him with her spectacular eyes. Those gorgeous, sparkling hazel eyes with dark lashes made for flirting…
Flirting? Good heavens. What was wrong with him? Darcy strode to the window and stared out, not seeing the breathtaking view as dawn softly crept over the landscape. Instead of the trees and the vast array of flora, his mind was wholly absorbed with a beautiful face, its eyebrows arched provocatively as she teased him.
Today she would be leaving, going home where she belonged. He should be grateful. He could put distance between them. Then he would be able to regain his control and focus on more appropriate things. Even as he told himself he would forget her and move on, he felt a strange ache inside his breast at the thought of never seeing Miss Elizabeth’s beautiful eyes again.

RELEASE DAY: Nicole Zoltack "Love before Honor"

Honor. Truth. Loyalty. Love. All of these matter most to Sir Gerald. To avenge his love's death, he challenges her murderer to a duel. Her twin, however, feels that Alice never loved Gerald and gives him a tea. Alice had also given him teas, which enhanced his love for her, but this tea is different. This tea sends him to into the future, to the Regency era.
Lady Vanessa seeks a Christmas treat when she hears something outside the manor. Upon investigation, she sees a man dressed in armor. Unwilling to turn away a confused man with the approaching holiday, she convinces her parents to house Gerald until the new year.
Scandal has forced her parents to accept William as their daughter's best chance at marriage. Although rich, he does not understand her or her love of books and only sees her for her looks, whereas Gerald listens to her, confides in her and she him. With the approaching holiday, nothing is certain – not whether Gerald can discover a way back to his duel, whether he can move on from Alice, and not whether this Christmas will be a happy one for either Gerald or Vanessa.
Nicole Zoltack loves to write in many genres, especially romance, whether fantasy, paranormal, or regency. When she’s not writing about knights, superheroes, or zombies, she loves to spend time with her loving husband and three energetic young boys. She enjoys riding horses (pretending they’re unicorns, of course!) and going to the PA Renaissance Faire, dressed in garb. She’ll also read anything she can get her hands on. Her current favorite TV show is The Walking Dead. To learn more about Nicole and her writing, vis-it
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Chapter One
Honor. Truth. Loyalty. All noble. All good.
Most of the time.
Sir Gerald sharpened his blade, the clashing sound of metal on metal, the sparks flying pleasing him. He had never dueled before, but a few hours' time and that would change.
Blood pounded through him, hot and steady, a constant reminder of all he still had and all his love had lost.
"I can do that," Edwin said. Shadows from the flickering flames within the smithy covered his hand that reached toward the sword.
Gerald merely glared at his squire. Competent, yes, if a tad overeager. "I do believe I told ye several times now that your services are not required this day."
"I will not leave ye." Edwin lifted his chin. A gesture of both defiance and loyalty at the same moment.
He grunted.
"The blade willna sharpen more." The blacksmith picked up a hammer. Evidently some aspect in the fire told him the temperature now burned hot enough to temper new weapons.
With a great deal of reluctance, Gerald handed the fourteen-year-old his sword.
The blacksmith nodded and returned to his work.
The smithy felt like the gate to Hell, the heat immense and growing ever hotter. Still, Gerald did not move, mesmerized by the licking, greedy flames. It had been a fiery night when he first met her. Ever since, he stopped by the smithy daily, paused whenever he saw a flame, and lingered by the dying embers of his campfires.
It was she who necessitated his duel.
"Are ye certain about this?" Edwin asked.
A question the boy had asked many a time after Gerald laid down the gauntlet.
"Quite." Ever his reply. How could he not? As a knight, duty dictated his actions.
"But…" Edwin shifted his weight from side to side. Always boundless energy. His tongue never stopped wagging. It could cause him trouble down the cobbled road if never did he learn to appreciate silence.
For now, at least, Gerald would humor him. "Go on."
"Ye and she… Ye were not even promised to one another."
True, but in their hearts they were. The problem lay with that, that and jealousy.
Gerald filled his broad chest with a strong inhale. "One day, ye will understand. Honor, truth, and loyalty will only get ye so far. Love, though, it lifts ye up, alters your very outlook on life, changes your life itself. Love is all that matters."
The hammering stopped. Although the smithy was loud and prone to echo, Gerald and Edwin had long ago learned how close to be, how loud to speak to be heard despite it. The silence now prevailing in the smithy unnerved Gerald far more than the prospect of dying that late afternoon.
Almis the blacksmith grunted. "Love be not so grand. Love be trouble." His dark eyes fixed on Gerald. "Love be death."
"Death is release," Gerald countered. Perhaps death would be best. Not that Victor would grant him a merciful one.
"Sir Gerald will not fall."
Edwin's confidence lifted a small smile to Gerald's lips. "Is my armor ready?"
The red-haired boy jumped up. "A-almost!" He scampered away, out of the smithy faster than a hare chasing its supper.
The redness of the flames only served to remind Gerald of blood, and he turned away, for once finding no comfort here, wishing for mead to swallow instead of his sorrows.
The dings and clangs resumed, its steady beat almost matching his steady heartbeat. No matter what the outcome, he would do all he could. She, and her memory, deserved that much.
She who never should have felt the sharp end of a blade. She who never stepped near such a place as this. With its burning stove and already forged weapons hanging on the walls, the smithy proved as dangerous as any duel ground. Mayhap a second weapon would not be remiss. Bow and arrows would be less than worthless. A spear or lance, though...

RELEASE DAY: Lesley Downie "Tunnels"

Katherine Goldstein, the sleuth of all sleuths living in Citrus Grove, has uncovered amazing finds from the past. Join Kat and her friends as she delves into another mystery surrounding her city. Will she uncover the truth? Will Kat finally get the chance to talk to her crush? As you turn the pages of Tunnels, be ready for adventure, intrigue, and a fun, all-around story written for children. A very ‘tween type book, but fun to read as an adult as well. This would make a great family read-aloud. -Pamela Bunch, Youth Services Librarian, A.K. Smiley Public Library
Lesley Downie divides her time between writing, work, and family in Redlands, California, the very place where her current story began so long ago when she was a kid running over and under the historical streets of her hometown. Tunnels is Lesley’s second novel.
Now available on
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Chapter One
Bet I can beat you for most embarrassing moment. I'm living it right now and no, it doesn't involve a toilet paper tail stuck to the bottom of my shoe while walking down the hallway at school. Instead, four firemen (why can't they be ugly?) just yanked me out of a sewer hole and were staring at me like I was insane. But it wasn't the three super old twenty-somethings who made me want to die. It was the one on the end who made me squirm and doubt whether I should give them my real name.
Because I absolutely knew who he was. My crush. David Perkins, a whole grade older than me and the cutest guy in the seventh grade class, let alone all of Crossley Prep. Only he could take my mind off of my Life's Mission. But more on that later—just as soon as Mr. Perfect, the guy most unlikely to be my first boyfriend, isn't right in front of me. I stared up at him. His junior fireman-in-training badge glimmered in the sun.
Sigh. He was never going to think of me that way. Instead his eyes said, This girl's psycho for sure. And clearing up the crazy question was most def out. That would mean I'd have to tell him the real reason I'd ended up six feet below street level. Rule number one about a top-secret investigation: keep your mouth shut and look nuts if you have to. Definitely had an A+ in that department.
"Hey," David breaks the stare-down. "I know you from somewhere?"
But before I could answer, one of them plops this box in front of me and pulls out some pretty official doctor-y stuff from it. The others began talking to each other because apparently I've worn out their interest. Except David. He's still staring like I'm some hot new…circus act.
"Okay, Katherine, is it?" the guy asks, practically choking me with this ugly collar thingy. "I'm Matt. Hold still while I get your vitals. We need to monitor you to make sure you aren't in shock."
The padded collar was tight and I couldn't move, which I guess was the point. I pushed my hair out of my eyes. My curls were super annoying, bouncing around like everything was great.
"But I'm fine!" I finally said. "I don't need you to monitor anything." And I was. I'd taken CPR two years in a row so I could be a junior lifeguard. I was breathing, my heart was beating, so back up, fella. But no one was listening to me. Instead they were all jokey-jokey with each other. I mean, excuse me for not being closer to death.
"Fine, huh?" Matt said. "Let me be the judge of that, Red." He tousled my curls like I was a cocker spaniel. Or maybe I should say like a puli, because I'm the human equivalent with my big, fat, red cigar curls. You know those dogs that run around looking like an old-fashioned mop? Cute hair on a puli, not so cute on an almost-twelve-year-old girl like myself. David laughed and his eyes got all squinty, but in a cute way. Too bad he was laughing at me, not with me.
Then I overheard some official fire-chief-guy (thought they only wore those big red hats in the movies) say, "Yes, Mrs. Goldstein, we're at the scene right now. Your daughter's okay and you can meet us over at Citrus Grove Community."
Crud. The rest of my day was about to become epically messed up. Solitary confinement once the Unit (Unit = Mom = the General) gets ahold of me. I know there'll be mounds of dishes to wash and toilets to scrub. She'll never understand I had a good reason for doing what I did. I mean, what would you rather do? Study for a stupid math test or carry out your Life's Mission, aka hunting for secret tunnels? Talk about total unleashing of parental ridiculousity—made up words are sometimes the best words—on me. Did I mention yet that being in sixth grade has serious drawbacks?
But wait. What if I seemed more hurt? Would I still be grounded for life? I started second-guessing my injuries. Was that a muscle spasm in my back?

Saturday, October 11, 2014

My Town in Three Photos - Fremont


by Joselyn Vaughn

Fremont is a small, rural community in west Michigan that appreciates art in many forms.
This one is called the Writers’ Scribe. In my head I call it the Writers’ Block.
I love these flowers. I wish my yard was big enough. These are outside of a place that offers classes for all ages in a variety of crafts from pottery to dyeing silk to metalworking.
This sculpture celebrates the agricultural heritage of our community.