Book Tour & Giveaway: Scattered Legacy: Murder in Southern Italy by Marlene M. Bell – Genre: Mystery/ Suspense @ewephoric @RRBookTours1 #RRBookTours

Welcome to the book tour for Scattered Legacy by Marlene M. Bell! Read on for details and the fantastic giveaway at the end!

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Scattered Legacy: Murder in Southern Italy 

Publication Date: November 4th, 2021

Genre: Mystery/ Suspense

To outsiders, the relationship between Manhattan antiquities assessor Annalisse Drury and sports car magnate Alec Zavos must look carefree and glamorous. In reality, it’s a love affair regularly punctuated by treasure hunting, action-packed adventure, and the occasional dead body.

When Alec schedules an overseas trip to show Annalisse his mother’s birthplace in Bari, Italy, he squeezes in the high-stakes business of divesting his family’s international corporation. But things go terribly wrong as murder makes its familiar reappearance in their lives – and this time it’s Alec’s disgraced former CFO who’s the main suspect.

Accompanied by friend and detective Bill Drake, Annalisse and Alec find themselves embroiled in a behind-closed-doors conspiracy that threatens the reputation and legacy of Alec’s late father – linking him to embezzlement, extortion, and the dirty business of the Sicilian Mafia. The search for the truth sends the trio straight into riddles, secrets, and an historic set of rosary beads. Annalisse leads Alec toward a discovery that is unthinkable, and events that will change their futures forever.

Scattered Legacy is the third in Marlene M. Bell’s thrilling Annalisse series, which weaves romance, crime, and historical mystery into addictive tales to instantly captivate fans of TV show Bones or Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code.

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Excerpt

The reception area is completely empty, and there’s a smell like metal in damp dirt circulating overhead. Farther in, the ceiling fan is hovering on high speed, and the windows are open.

A dead body inside a warm office leaves an unmistakable odor behind, as did the body Ethan found inside the stall at Walker Farm. Decomp is one smell that sticks with you forever. Adding to the office creepiness, who chose the interior’s decor? We’re surrounded by limestone walls painted an ugly shade of ochre, slightly more yellow and definitely more unappealing than the building’s exterior. The rooms will need another coat of fresh paint to cover a harsh stench known to stick to the walls like cigarette tar does.

No one is nearby, not even the receptionist.

The office cubicles are silent but for a few flapping papers. Not a single desk phone is ringing. It’s like the office decided to have a fire drill midday, and the employees left their computers on and didn’t bother to close folders—open to anyone passing by. Frames holding pictures of sweethearts and children stand by as guardians for the people who are absent from their high-back swivel chairs.

Officer Raffa returns and mutters in heavy Italian brogue, “Il signore is waiting for his… avvocato difensore.” He points to the room with a closed door. “Come, Mr. Zavos. Your friends stay here.”

“Josh is in there waiting for his defense attorney. Back soon.” Alec touches my arm and looks at Bill, sending him a private message.

Alec’s led to a side office, and the solid door closes behind them.

“Is Alec signing autographs, or should I even worry about what’s going on in that room? Has Josh been here the entire time messing with evidence?” I ask Bill.

“Alec’s prepared for all contingencies. I’m surprised they haven’t taken Jennings down to the station by now.”

A few minutes later, Alec emerges by himself. “They weren’t going to allow us to talk to Josh, but I persuaded him. It shouldn’t be much longer.”

For what feels like an eternity, we sit in ladderback pine chairs with brown cushions while Alec keeps adjusting his watch. I don’t know what Alec had to promise the officer. Autographs are fine with me, but if he had to pay him off, I’d rather not know.

“I hope Brad is parked in the shade somewhere.” Alec looks at his watch for the eighth time in twenty minutes and turns to me. “Now that we’re here, they seem to be in no hurry to get rid of us. I’m sorry, Anna. Hold on a little longer.” His smile is an honest one full of regret.

I’ve heard the sentiment from him so often it doesn’t even register with my brain anymore. We both have a lot of work to do in the I-promise-to-do-better department.

The closed door at the back wall opens, and a guy pokes his head out, surveying the room. He’s fiftyish and, with his reading glasses, reminds me of Gen’s studious accountant.

Alec pivots, and his earlier smile vanishes.

“That’s Jennings,” Bill says quietly.

“Yes.” Alec waves to draw the man’s attention.

A confused Josh looks at us and then the floor as if he’s embarrassed. Eventually he settles his eyes on Alec. “I wasn’t sure you’d come. My attorney should be here soon. Come back to the conference room.”

Bill asks Alec, “Is it okay to go on ahead?”

Alec must have compensated the officer well to allow us entry this close to the crime scene.

“Let’s get this over with.” Alec seems queasy.

The three of us move through the aisle between desks and toward the room with a door left open for us. Josh has already gone inside. For someone who wants Alec’s help, he sure doesn’t appear happy or grateful for his effort. A huge effort. This had better not be Josh’s way of buying himself out of the woman’s death. The disgrace of being fired from Signorile after Pearce’s tragedy has to hurt his pride.

There’s news of a deadly virus moving through Europe, and the typical handshake is no longer being used between business execs.

Bill lifts his arm and catches himself. “Mr. Jennings? My name is Bill Drake, an associate of Mr. Zavos. You’ve asked to see him, and we also have some questions for you on another matter.”

“Wonderful.” The man in a sweaty, slept-in polo isn’t thrilled with us staring him down. There’s frost in the room as testosterone flies between glances. No one wants to be the first to break the sheet of ice forming around the presumed blue-eyed killer. Alec hasn’t made any assumptions yet until we talk to him, but Josh’s cool facade feels calculated to me. A superior to Alec, or something like that. For an innocent, I don’t like his peculiar behavior in the presence of a man who’s here to keep his neck from a noose.

“I asked to see Alec. Who are the rest of you?”

He’s behind a chair, using it as a shield to save himself from a CEO who wants to take his livelihood from him again. Or is it because he’s guilty of ending a woman’s life?

Alec pulls out the chair for me, and we all sit at the long conference table with a fancy letter F embellished in the center.

Josh’s temples bead with sweat, and he’s wringing his hands next to a wool felt fedora hat with a band. They seem to be popular in Italy. The guy’s bloodshot eyes and dark circles are sure signs of insomnia and stressing to the max. Wet ovals hang beneath the armpits of his beige shirt.

Alec’s unshakable gaze lands on Jennings, who abruptly turns away.

This meeting isn’t opening well.

Bill addresses Josh. “We don’t have a lot of time. Authorities aren’t thrilled with us questioning you, but they were… let’s say, swayed. Tell us what happened here?”

“She was tied and tortured in my office after I left night before last. I opened the building in the morning at seven and found her lying on her side, strapped to a chair and wrapped in wire near my desk. Lots of blood.” Josh holds a paper towel over his mouth, then uses it to wipe away perspiration. “When I left the building, she was in the conference room. I have no idea how she ended up in the office. Maybe the cat went in there.” He slides the fedora into his lap.

“Who is she?” Alec asks.

“Benita Alvarez.”

Available on Amazon

About the Author

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“Mystery at a killing pace”

Marlene M. Bell is an award-winning writer, artist, and sheep breeder who resides in beautiful East Texas. Her renown sheep photographs grace the covers of many livestock magazines.

The third book in the Annalisse Series releases in 2021. Scattered Legacy is an international mystery with light touches of romance. Stolen Obsession and Spent Identity, books one and two, received numerous awards including the Independent Press Award for Best Mystery in 2020. Her mysteries can be found at marlenembell.com.

Marlene also writes children’s books. Her first children’s picture book, Mia and Nattie: One Great Team! is based on true events with Natalie from the Bell’s ranch. It’s a touching story of compassion and love between a little girl and her lamb. Mia and Nattie is honored to be a Mom’s Choice Gold Award winner.

Marlene shares her life with her husband and a few dreadfully spoiled horned Dorset sheep: a large Maremma guard dog named Tia, and cats, Hollywood, Leo, and Squeaks. The cats believe they rule the household—and do.

Marlene M. Bell | FacebookTwitter 

 

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Book Tour Schedule

December 20th

R&R Book Tours (Spotlight) http://rrbooktours.com

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

Books, Rambling, and Tea (Spotlight) https://booksramblingsandtea.com/

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Bunny’s Book Reviews (Review) https://bookwormbunnyreviews.blogspot.com/

December 21st

Carrie’s Book Reviews (Spotlight) https://carriesbookreviews.com/

Didi Oviatt (Spotlight) https://didioviatt.wordpress.com

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

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

December 22nd

Gina Rae Mitchell (Spotlight) https://ginaraemitchell.com/

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

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

The Faerie Review (Spotlight) http://www.thefaeriereview.com

December 23rd

  @louturnspages (Spotlight) https://www.instagram.com/louturnspages/

Stine Writing (Spotlight) https://christinebialczak.com/

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

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

December 24th

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

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@lisaeverydaylife (Spotlight) https://www.instagram.com/lisaeverydaylife/

 

Giveaway US Only:

A Signed Copy of Scattered Legacy – The Annalisse Series

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Biking in Tuscany Wooden Puzzle

Tessilechiti Italian Designer Throw Blanket (51×67 inches) Made in Italy

 

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“It’s The Babysitter’s Club meets MacGyver!” Book Tour: The Renegade Spy Project by Terri Selting David – Genre: Middle Grade/ Chapter Book/ @RRBookTours1 #RRBookTours #STEM

Welcome to the book tour for The Renegade Spy Project by Terri Selting David, a book I know most parents and readers will whole-heartedly recommend! Read on for info and a chance to win the entire trilogy!

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The Renegade Spy Project (The Renegade Girls Tinkering Club #1)

Publication Date: August 10th, 2020

Genre: Middle Grade/ Chapter Books/ Children’s Inventor Books (Ages 8 – 12)

Publisher: Spiderdust Studios 

Wren is impulsive, curious, and always in trouble. Can her flaws become her greatest asset?

Wren Sterling has a problem. She knows she’s super smart and a good friend, but no matter how hard she tries, she can’t shake her reputation as a troublemaker. It feels like the only people who believe in her are her three best friends in the Renegade Girls Tinkering Club. She’d hoped middle school would be different, but when her inability to control her temper causes an accident, even her beloved STEM Club is no longer a safe haven.

She has to find a way to fix it. When her idea to start a business inventing and selling spy gadgets succeeds, it looks like she’s finally done something right! But then the Club is accused of a crime. Can they use their own gadgets, and a little bit of trouble to solve the mystery? If they can find the real culprit, Wren may just discover she has a bright future after all. If they can’t, she could lose her best friends forever.

“It’s The Babysitter’s Club meets MacGyver!”

Build your own SPY GADGETS! Instructions included in this charming story about friendship, middle school, and the Engineering Design Process for kids ages 8-12.

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Excerpt

Technically it was Wren’s Greenhouse, hidden behind her family’s small home in the middle of San Francisco, but all the Renegades felt at home there. In the Greenhouse, they didn’t have to worry about other people’s rules and opinions. Or try to be boring or be like everyone else. The Greenhouse was their safe space. They could just be themselves. Wren’s parents let them use it as their workshop and clubhouse as long as her little sister, Trixie, could be part of the club.

When they’d formed the Renegade Girls Tinkering Club, the Greenhouse had been abandoned and filled with broken pots and spiderwebs. It was small and dirty, but had everything they needed. A door hidden like a secret behind an overgrown wisteria vine. A back wall with shelves from floor to ceiling, and excellent light from a front wall made entirely of glass. A small but sturdy potting table sat against the windows. It was pleasant and warm, with one electrical outlet and a small work sink. They loved it from the first time they saw it.

Amber, Kammie, Ivy, Wren, and even Trixie had worked tirelessly last summer, cleaning and gathering assorted leftovers, recyclables, and a mishmash of bins to put them in. They categorized and labelled, collected cardboard by cutting down shipping boxes, and saved empty toilet paper rolls from the trash. They snuck random scissors from kitchen drawers, ribbons, buttons, anything that looked useful or had an interesting shape. Amber had borrowed a folding card table from her garage, and Kammie brought in some stools her parents were getting rid of. Wren found an old glue gun, and they had even managed to find an unused sewing machine. The first purchase with their club dues had been copies of the side gate key, so everyone could head directly into the backyard when they came over.

Amber rocketed through that side gate, clutching a cardboard box protectively to her chest with her delicate arms. Beneath a spring green sundress her feet, in their pristine white flats, skipped quickly and skillfully over the ground. The September afternoon sun lit up her auburn hair like a fiery halo.

Available on Amazon

About the Author

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In 1996, Terri left Colorado, where she grew up, and headed even more West until she couldn’t get any West-er. Landing in San Francisco, her career spanned more than a decade in 3D character animation for video games, films, television shows, and even a comic book (but mostly video games.) Her work encompassed character animation, art direction, and story development before she had children and, imagining a better world for them, co-founded the Renegade Girls Tinkering Club with her friend Vicky in 2015. Since then she’s created over a dozen curricula and assisted in creating half a dozen more, encompassing more than 230 individual projects.

She lives in San Francisco with 2 rowdy children and a fabulous, brilliant husband who brings her tea every night.

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International Giveaway: The Renegade Girls Tinkering Club Trilogy (Digital)

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Book Release Blitz: Walnut Street: Phantom Rider (A Botanic Hill Detectives Mystery) by Sherrill Joseph @MysteryAuthor7 @RRBookTours1 #MG #Mystery #MGReads #RRBookTours

Happy publication day to Sherrill Joseph! Today marks the release of Walnut Street: Phantom Rider, the next Botanic Hill Detective Mysteries novel! Read on for more info and the chance to win a fantastic giveaway!

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Walnut Street: Phantom Rider (A Botanic Hill Detectives Mystery)

Publication Date: November 9th, 2021

Genre: MG Mystery/ Middle Grade (For fans of Nancy Drew type mysteries)

Objects of value have been disappearing from the Mayfield family’s rural California horse ranch. The Botanic Hill Detectives—Moki Kalani, Rani Kumar, and twins Lanny and Lexi Wyatt—are hired to come for a week to investigate.

Legend has it somewhere on the Mayfields’ forty-acre property is a long-lost gold mine. It was supposedly staked by thirteen-year-old Ben Mayfield’s five-time great-grandfather, “Papa” Mayfield, in 1875.

Adding to the excitement, a nervous Ben reveals a frightening secret to the detectives. At the ranch, he alone has seen a threatening black-clad figure on horseback whom he calls the Phantom Rider. Who is this mysterious person? Is he responsible for the thefts? Where is the lost gold mine? And what’s going on in the nearby, snake-infested ghost town of Rainbow Flats? The four intrepid detectives aim to find out.

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About the Author

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Sherrill Joseph will be forever inspired by her beautiful students in the San Diego public schools where she taught for thirty-five years before retiring and becoming a published author. 

The author has peopled and themed her mysteries with characters after her own responsible, role-model students, of various abilities, disabilities, races, cultures, and interests. She strongly believes that children need to find themselves and others unlike themselves in books if all are to become accepting, anti-racist world citizens. 

Her gift of lexical-gustatory synesthesia enables her to bring richer imagination to her writing.

Sherrill is the recipient of two Gold Awards from Mom’s Choice Book Awards, two Gold Awards from Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards, three awards from Story Monsters Approved, and numerous other children’s book awards. She is a member of SCBWI, the Authors Guild, and Blackbird Writers. Watch for many more adventures with the Botanic Hill Detectives!

Sherrill Joseph | Newsletter | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

Win a signed, personalized paperback copy of Walnut Street: Phantom Rider, some matching book swag (bookmark & sticker), and a $10 Amazon gift card (US ONLY). Giveaway will close on November 12th!

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Book Tour & Giveaway: The Cuts that Cure by Arthur Herbert @HerbertWriter @RRBookTours1 #RRBookTours #Books

Welcome to the tour for chilling new thriller, The Cuts that Cure by Arthur Herbert! Read on for an excerpt and a chance to win a signed edition of the book!

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The Cuts that Cure

Publication Date: May 11th, 2021

Genre: Dark Suspense/ Inverted Mystery

Publisher: White Bird Publishing

Alex Brantley is a disgraced surgeon whose desperation to start a new life outside of medicine leads him to settle in a sleepy Texas town close to the Mexican border, a town that has a dark side. Its secrets and his own past catch up with him as traits he thought he’d buried in the deserts on the frontiers of the border rise up again to haunt him.

To the citizens of Three Rivers, Henry Wallis appears to be a normal Texas teenager: a lean, quiet kid from a good family whose life seems to center around his first girlfriend and Friday night football. That Henry is a cultivated illusion, however, a disguise he wears to conceal his demons. Both meticulous and brutally cruel, he manages to hide his sadistic indulgences from the world. But with that success, his impulses grow stronger until one day when a vagrant is found murdered.

When Alex’s and Henry’s paths cross, a domino effect is created leading to mangled lives and chilling choices made in the shadows along la frontera, where everything is negotiable.

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Excerpt

          After fifteen minutes in the car, the pounding rain didn’t show any signs of letting up. Lozano sighed and hit pause. He found his glasses, zipped up the yellow rain slicker with SAPD stenciled on the back in large black letters and flipped up the hood. Swapping his loafers for rubber boots, he steeled himself before popping the car door enough to quickly open an umbrella and walked out into the pelting rain.

          He legged it around an ambulance parked in the spot closest to the trailhead, and as the backs of his thighs became damp he broke into a trot, headed in the direction of a small pavilion covering a single picnic table. Once under the pavilion, Lozano had just collapsed his umbrella when a Parks Department vehicle drove by too fast, throwing a wall of spray on him.

          A gangly young man with shaggy blonde hair that stuck to his cheeks like a Centurion’s helmet sat before him on the picnic table. His soul patch wicked water down his chin, and his gray Parks Department uniform—open to his navel and framing a puka necklace—now clung to his torso like he’d stepped out of the shower. He was shivering despite the warmth of the rain.

          The downpour thrummed on the pavilion’s tin roof, amplified so that Lozano had to raise his voice. “Morning, sir. I’m Detective Lozano. You the man who called this in?”

          A forlorn, “Yeah.”

          “Your name?”

          “Mitchell. Mitchell Gansereit.”

          “Mr. Gansereit, can you tell me what happened? Start from the beginning.”

          “Me and Colin McPherson was detailed to pick up some trash out of the crick that runs through the back side of the park. We knew it was ’posed to rain today so we wanted to hurry up and get to it so’s we didn’t get soaked.

          “We was at it for couple’a hours and was getting close to done when a man come up to us while we was working back there. He said he was jogging on the other side of the park over where all them cedars is and that he come up on a smell that was somethin’ awful, like somethin’ died.”

          “Did you get that man’s name?” Lozano asked, interrupting the man’s story.

          “No, he just took off jogging again. Me and Colin didn’t think much of it, lotta deer back in here, we figured one had died.

          “Anyway, I told Colin I’d go check it out, mostly just so’s I wouldn’t have to carry the bags of trash back out to the truck.

          “I went back up in them cedars and right off I could smell what the fella was talking ’bout. Smelled like Bigfoot took a shit on a pile of rotten eggs. I followed to where it was getting stronger, kept thinking I’d come up on a carcass, you know?”

          Lozano nodded.

          “Smell took me up to a blue tent about a hunnert feet off the trail. Once I figured out the smell’s comin’ from there, that’s when I started getting a bad feeling. Little sick to my stomach, not just from the smell. There’s ’bout a dozen homeless guys more or less live up in here full time. Generally, they don’t do no harm to nobody so’s we mostly don’t bother ’em. Figger live an’ let live.

          “So I come sidling up to that tent, calling out, like. ‘Hello? Anybody home? Knock, knock’, like that. But I didn’t get no answer. Man, I didn’t wanna go look up under that tarp for nothing.”

          His speech had been rapid to that point, but it slowed and he looked down between his feet where they rested on the table’s wooden bench, as though trying to read the graffiti carved there.

          He cleared his throat then continued, “Finally, though I decided it was time to nut up. I come ’round the back of the tent and looked inside.

          “Sir, if I close my eyes right now, I can see it perfect, just like I’m sittin’ here looking at you. I seen this fella, laying on his side, knees pulled up, hands folded under his head like this”—Mitchell demonstrated, pantomiming sleep—“like he was sleeping or something. I called out loud to him, ‘Hey! Wakey wakey!’ You know? But he didn’t move a muscle. Smell by then was so bad I had to pinch my nose and try just to breathe through my mouth, but that smell was so goddam strong I could taste it. It was like burning up in my eyes, my nose, all sick-sweet.”

          Here he gave another shiver, closed his eyes and shook his head.

          “I went to give him a shake, but when I took aholt of his leg, it was reeeeal cold. Then when I tried to turn him over onto his back, at first he wouldn’t budge, not an inch. Just stiff as a board. Finally, I just pulled hard on his leg and his whole body come up, but still without bending his arms an’ legs. They was frozen in place, just sticking out in the air like they was one a’ them dummies you see in a store window.

          “That’s when I seen his face and hands was all purple and green and puffed up, like somebody’d blowed him up all full of air or something.

          “But sir, it’s the last part that’ll haunt me for the rest of my days. God as my witness, it was somethin’ I’ll take with me t’ my grave.

          “When he come up off the ground, his mouth was open just a little bit, and dear sweet baby Jesus I heard him make this long moan sound, like he was in pain, and for a half a second I thought he was gonna open his eyes wide and reach out to grab me, gonna grab me and hug me to him.

          “Lord help me, I went ass over tea kettle backwards. I just remember gettin’ tangled up on that rope and that plastic and then runnin’ like the devil hisself was after me. Ran all the way back to the truck.”

          Now his voice cracked. He reached into his shirt pocket and took out a pack of cigarettes, hands trembling. He tapped one out and put it to his lips, but his fingers shook so badly he had difficulty lighting it.

          He took a long drag and restlessly bounced his leg. “Colin wasn’t no help. I asked him, hell, begged him to call it in. Chickenshit asshole kept saying that going to check out dead bodies ain’t in his job description. The son of a bitch.”

Available on Amazon and Barnes & Nobel

About the Author

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Arthur Herbert was born and raised in small town Texas. He worked on offshore oil rigs, as a bartender, a landscaper at a trailer park, and as a social worker before going to medical school. He chose to do a residency in general surgery, followed by a fellowship in critical care and trauma surgery. For the last seventeen years, he’s worked as a trauma and burn surgeon, operating on all ages of injured patients. He continues to run a thriving practice.

His debut novel, The Cuts that Cure, will be released by White Bird Publishing in Austin Texas on May 11th, 2021. He’s begun work on his second novel, a mystery with the working title Strutting Through the Storm.

Arthur currently lives in New Orleans, with his wife Amy and their dogs. He loves hearing from his readers, so don’t hesitate to email him at arthur@arthurherbertwriter.com

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Book Tour Schedule

May 17th

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

Books, Rambling, and Teas (Spotlight) https://booksramblingsandtea.com/

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May 18th

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May 19th

Didi Oviatt (Spotlight) https://didioviatt.wordpress.com/

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May 20th

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May 21st

@amysbooknook8 (Review) https://www.instagram.com/amysbooknook8/

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

@addictedtobooks86 (Review) https://www.instagram.com/addictedtobooks86/

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Publication Day: Weathering Old Souls by Didi Oviatt & James J. Cudney @jamescudney4 @Didi_Oviatt @RRBookTours1 #RRBookTours #WeatheringOldSouls

Congratulations to Didi Oviatt and James J. Cudney on the release of their novel, Weathering Old Souls!

Read on for details, an exclusive excerpt and a week full of fantastic giveaways!

Release Week Giveaways!

  • $25 Amazon Gift Card
  • $40 Psychic Services
  • 1 eBook of Weathering Old Souls
  • 1 physical book of Weathering Old Souls (US Only)

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Weathering Old Souls

Publication Date: May 15th, 2021 🎉🎉🎉

Genre: Contemporary Fiction with historical interludes, metaphysical elements, past life regression, suspense & mystery.

Publisher: Next Chapter

Abigail has always struggled with strange voices appearing inside her head. From the relentless tyranny a woman faces on an antebellum plantation to the unknown prison camps in America during World War II, our heroine discovers the past in a way that forever changes her future. There are moments from previous periods that serve as guiding posts for the country’s growth, but they also mark the transitions for Abigail’s own personal history. Her best friend, Margaret, partners with Abigail to discover the identity of these voices while focusing on her passion and quest to become a United States senator. Through it all, a serial killer torments the country, romance blossoms between some of the people they meet during the journey, and secrets long thought buried come to light in devastating ways. With the twisting of elements, numerical alignments, and the trauma of spiritual entanglements, no one will be the same… and just a few might not even be around anymore.

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Excerpt

One morning as winter should’ve been transitioning into spring, an eight-year-old Abigail awakens with a piercing scream. She bolts upright and snails herself to the edge of her bed, placing a heavy hand on her chest to help steady herself and catch her breath. Her body twinges as though she’s fallen down a flight of stairs or been slammed by a double-decker trolley. The agony starts in the muscles behind her shoulder blade. From there it feels like a rocket exploded, escaping through her chest, leaving only traces of burning gases to snake their way through the rest of her fragile body. She coughs violently as her system tries to rid itself of unknown toxins.

The bedroom is dark and frigid because the pipes broke the previous day and her father was too busy sleeping off a hangover to call a contractor to fix them. Oliver has no mechanical knowledge or experience with home repair, but he tells Abigail that the Stauntons will address the issue since their heating system has also experienced problems with the winter storms that year. It’s been an unpredictable season, much more so than the usual winter in South Carolina. Some days Abigail has played outside all afternoon, hardly catching a chill. Others she wakes to a beautifully ominous layer of frost clinging to every blade of yellow grass as if its very life depends on it. 

A thin glint of light pushes through the crack between the bottom of the broken shade and the splintered windowsill. Abigail watches as the sparkly dust settles on the foot of her bed and shines brightly. It reminds her of the quartz necklace dangling on the neck of the woman in her scary dream. It was gorgeous and made the woman feel safe and comforted as it has in every dream where it made an appearance. Abigail’s told Margaret about the necklace many times, wishing she could hop out of bed today and do it again. It’s only been two months since she saw Margaret, but missing her is more than just a faint feeling. It’s soul crushing. She aches for Margaret’s companionship like any other child would her own sibling who’s grown up and gone on without her. 

In her nightmare, Abigail was stuck inside the body of an old lady running through a field, sweat pouring from her head down the curves of her hollowed and withdrawn cheeks. It was pitch black, and there were trees all around her, the wind shaking the branches such that they whispered secret directions in an unknown language. They resembled monsters with claw-like arms and vicious teeth, ready to bite her flailing limbs. Someone had been chasing her, but Abigail never saw the figure’s face.

Confusion rocks her body. Part of her is the small innocent child who wants to scream for Elizabeth, but a stronger piece of her feels much older, more mature, as if she’s lived for decades, maybe even centuries. She shakes through the aftermath of terror, unable to make sense of what happened in her sleep. All she knows is that it was horrific and made her fear something awful was destined to happen. Abigail wonders if her nightmares relate to the bits of conversation she’s overheard between Elizabeth and Bradford in the past. Elizabeth once said something about a killer coming after them again, but they’d ultimately agreed they were much safer now.

After deliberating with Imaginary May for a few moments, Abigail announces, “I can handle this on my own. I am a big girl. Margaret’s gone, but she taught me to be strong.”

She cuddles the teddy bear that Elizabeth gifted her last month for Valentine’s Day. Elizabeth had always bought one for Margaret when she was a child, the kind of mother and daughter tradition that Abigail has always yearned for. This is the first year that Margaret has been away for Spring Break during Valentine’s Day. Elizabeth missed her daughter immensely, so she purchased two identical teddy bears at the local toy store. One for Margaret, who would be home on Spring Break soon, and one for her favorite little neighbor and second daughter.

With a heavy sigh, Abigail stretches her arms above her head, extends her legs, and spreads her toes apart. Then she drops her chin to her chest, before rolling her head around in big circles. Four times each direction, one for every major element. She studied them in school that year. With each round of her neck, Abigail breathes in and counts to ten, then she lets out the air and reminds herself of everything she has to be grateful for. Margaret once taught her this morning routine, to help her ease the body tremors brought about by a nightmare, as the last doctor she saw refused to give any pain medication or advice. The stretching and breathing exercises help, and her pains slowly evaporate like a faint mist over a swamp.

An oblong mirror that’s mounted to the wall across from her window offers Abigail a dust-clouded view of her messy hair as it knots and sticks out in every direction, along with her worn-out unicorn covered nightgown. She chuckles at the sight of herself, and the last of her anxiety and spasms disappear. She imagines the body aches to have a color, a dull shade of lilac, as they lift in a swirling pattern like hazy smoke and exit out of the beam of light coming through the window.

“Stay away, you filthy bloke,” she chastises the imaginary swirl of colorful pain. 

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Weathering Old Souls

About the Author: Didi Oviatt

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Didi Oviatt is an intuitive soul. She’s a wife and mother first, with one son and one daughter. Her thirst to write was developed at an early age, and she never looked back. After digging down deep and getting in touch with her literary self, she’s writing mystery/thrillers like Search for Maylee, Justice for Belle, Aggravated Momentum, and Sketch, along with multiple short story collections. She’s collaborated with Kim Knight in an ongoing interactive short story anthology, The Suspenseful Collection. Most recently, she published her first romance novella titled Skinny Dippin’ which was originally released as a part of the highly appraised Anthology, Sinners and Saints. When Didi doesn’t have her nose buried in a book, she can be found enjoying a laid-back outdoorsy lifestyle. Time spent sleeping under the stars, hiking, fishing, and ATVing the back roads of beautiful mountain trails, and sun-bathing in the desert heat play an important part of her day to day lifestyle.

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About the Author: James J. Cudney

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James is my given name, but most folks call me Jay. I live in New York City, grew up on Long Island, and graduated from Moravian College, an historic but small liberal arts school in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, with a degree in English literature and minors in Education, Business and Spanish. After college, I accepted a technical writing position for a telecommunications company during Y2K and spent the last ~20 years building a career in technology & business operations in the retail, sports, media, hospitality, and entertainment industries. Throughout those years, I wrote short stories, poems, and various beginnings to the “Great American Novel,” but I was so focused on my career that writing became a hobby. In 2016, I committed to focusing my energies toward reinvigorating a second career in reading, writing, and publishing.

Author

Writing has been a part of my life as much as my heart, mind, and body. At some points, it was just a few poems or short stories; at others, it was full length novels and stories. My current focus is family drama fiction, cozy mystery novels, and suspense thrillers. I conjure characters and plots that I feel must be unwound. I think of situations people find themselves in and feel compelled to tell the story. It’s usually a convoluted plot with many surprise twists and turns. I feel it necessary to take that ride all over the course. My character is easily pictured in my head. I know what he is going to encounter or what she will feel. But I need to use the right words to make it clear.

Reader & Reviewer

Reading has also never left my side. Whether it was children’s books, young adult novels, college textbooks, biographies, or my ultimate love, fiction, it’s ever present in my day. I read two books per week and I’m on a quest to update every book I’ve ever read on Goodreads, write up a review, and post it on all my sites and platforms.

Blogger & Thinker

I have combined my passions into a single platform where I share reviews, write a blog and publish tons of content: TRUTH. I started my 365 Daily Challenge, where I post about a word that has some meaning to me and converse with everyone about life. There is humor, tears, love, friendship, advice, and bloopers. Lots of bloopers where I poke fun at myself all the time. Even my dogs have had weekly segments called “Ryder’s Rants” or “Baxter’s Barks,” where they complain about me. All these things make up who I am; none of them are very fancy or magnanimous, but they are real. And that’s why they are me.

Genealogist & Researcher

I love history and research, finding myself often reaching back into the past to understand why someone made the choice he or she did and what were the subsequent consequences. I enjoy studying the activities and culture from hundreds of years ago to trace the roots and find the puzzle of my own history. I wish I could watch my ancestors from a secret place to learn how they interacted with others; and maybe I’ll comprehend why I do things the way I do.

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Book Blitz: Weasel Words (Bernard and Melody Capers Book 1) by Dale E. Lehman @lehket @RRBookTours1 #RRBookTours

Today we’re celebrating the release of crime caper, Weasel Words by Dale E. Lehman, with an exclusive excerpt and a chance to win a print copy of the book!

Weasel 2Weasel Words (Bernard and Melody Capers Book 1)

Expected Publication Date: February 15th, 2021

Genre: Humor/ Crime Fiction

Between them, Bernard and Melody Earls have looks, charm, brains . . . everything but money. That’s why they steal from the rich and give to themselves. So when Alexander Hamilton Plaskett hires them to nick a silver statuette of a pine marten from his brother Paul Revere Plaskett, they’re happy to oblige. But it won’t be as easy as it looks. For one thing, the little beast is guarded by Fitzroy Fortresses, the best security system money can buy. For another, the five Plaskett siblings are obnoxious buffoons. Still, a job is a job, and this one may offer more than it appears.

At least, that’s Bernard’s theory. The pine marten isn’t particularly valuable, so why do the Plasketts contest its ownership so fiercely? To find out, he and Melody insinuate themselves into the Plasketts’ world and enlist a college geek to hack the unhackable Fitzroy system. Failure means poverty. Discovery means prison. And the biggest obstacle to Bernard’s brilliant schemes? Melody’s penchant for running off-script!

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Excerpt

Bernard had to admit to some fascination at the floorplan being revealed in shaky lines by Ruggles’ quaking hand. If it proved at all accurate, he could use it to plot his movements almost to the second. “Pretty good for having seldom been there,” he commented.

Ruggles tapped his temple. “Muskrat trap.”

“Not much gets away from one of those, huh?”

“Not much the size of a muskrat. Bears would be another matter.” The butler set the pen down and pushed it and the napkin back to Bernard. “And you are walking into a den full of bears, Mr. Earls. If you ask me, Bear Trap Falls is aptly named.”

“Bears and one weasel. Got it.” Bernard tucked the napkin and pen into an inside pocket.

“Do you take this matter at all seriously?”

“Very seriously, Mr. Ruggles. Seven thousand dollars plus expenses seriously.”

Ruggles gave Bernard’s suit careful scrutiny. Admittedly it wasn’t a Christian Dior, but surely it didn’t warrant that dismissive smirk. “Do you consider that a large sum?”

“For a few hours’ work, sure.” Bernard performed a quick burst of mental math. “It equates to an annual salary of over four and a half million, you know.”

Had he been standing, that revelation would have rocked Ruggles back on his heels. Sitting on the bar stool, it nearly dumped him backwards onto the floor. He grabbed the edge of the bar just in time and righted himself. “I didn’t realize that.”

“Oh yes, there’s good money in my business.” If only, he didn’t add, we could actually work something approaching full time. As it was, they were lucky to pay the rent some months.

The bartender returned and slid a plate of cheese fries in front of Bernard. “Hot,” she said. He thought she probably had been, a decade or so back, but she couldn’t hold a candle to Melody, not then and not now, so he didn’t give her a second thought.

“Just relax,” he told the butler, who didn’t seem capable. “Here. Drink your drink and eat some of these. They say the bacon is real good.”

Ruggles watched the bartender move down the bar to another customer. “No doubt you wish to inspire confidence.” He pulled a fry from underneath the mass of gooey yellow, then held it as though it were poison while it dribbled cheese all over the bar. “So why am I more terrified now than when I came in?”

Bernard shook his head and shoveled a few fries into his mouth.

The bacon, it turned out, was nothing to write home about.

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About the Author

me

Dale E. Lehman is a writer, veteran software developer, amateur astronomer, and bonsai artist in training. He principally writes mysteries, science fiction, and humor. In addition to his novels, his writing has appeared in Sky & Telescope and on Medium.com. With his wife Kathleen he owns and operates the imprint Red Tales. They have five children, six grandchildren, and two feisty cats. At any given time, Dale is at work on several novels and short stories. Visit Dale at https://www.DaleELehman.com for information on his books, activities, and more.

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