Blogging, Book Love, writers life, writing

THE LITTLE BOOKSHOP ON THE SEINE by Rebecca Raisin – Blog Tour

Cover_THE LITTLE BOOKSHOP ON THE SEINE

THE LITTLE BOOKSHOP ON THE SEINE

It’s The Holiday on the Champs-Élysées in a great big love letter to Paris, charming old bookstores and happily-ever-afters!

When bookshop owner Sarah Smith is offered the opportunity for a job exchange with her Parisian friend Sophie, saying yes is a no-brainer—after all, what kind of romantic would turn down six months in Paris? Sarah is sure she’s in for the experience of a lifetime—days spent surrounded by literature in a gorgeous bookshop, and the chance to watch the snow fall on the Eiffel Tower. Plus, now she can meet up with her journalist boyfriend, Ridge, when his job takes him around the globe.

But her expectations cool faster than her café au lait soon after she lands in the City of Light—she’s a fish out of water in Paris. The customers are rude, her new coworkers suspicious and her relationship with Ridge has been reduced to a long-distance game of phone tag, leaving Sarah to wonder if he’ll ever put her first over his busy career. As Christmas approaches, Sarah is determined to get the shop—and her life—back in order…and make her dreams of a Parisian happily-ever-after come true.

Excerpt

CHAPTER ONE

October 

With a heavy heart I placed the sign in the display window. 

All books 50% off. 

If things didn’t pick up soon, it would read Closing down sale. The thought alone was enough to make me shiver. The autumnal sky was awash with purples and smudges of orange, as I stepped outside to survey the display window from the sidewalk. 

Star-shaped leaves crunched underfoot. I forced a smile. A sale wouldn’t hurt, and maybe it’d take the bookshop figures from the red into the black—which I so desperately needed. My rent had been hiked up. The owner of the building, a sharp-featured, silver-tongued, forty-something man, had put the pressure on me lately—to pay more, to declutter the shop, claiming the haphazard stacks of books were a fire risk. The additional rent stretched the budget to breaking level. Something had to change.

The phone shrilled, and a grin split my face. It could only be Ridge at this time of the morning. Even after being together almost a year his name still provoked a giggle. It suited him though, the veritable man mountain he was. I’d since met his mom, a sweet, well-spoken lady, who claimed in dulcet tones, that she chose his name well before his famous namesake in The Bold and the Beautiful. In fact, she was adamant about it, and said the TV character Ridge was no match for her son. I had to agree. Sure, they both had chiseled movie star cheekbones, and an intense gaze that made many a woman swoon, but my guy was more than just the sum of his parts—I loved him for his mind, as much as his clichéd six-pack, and broody hotness. And even better, he loved me for me.

He was the hero in my own real-life love story, and due back from Canada the next day. It’d been weeks since I’d seen him, and I ached for him in a way that made me blush.

I dashed inside, and answered the phone, breathlessly. “The Bookshop on the Corner.”

“That’s the voice I know and love,” he said in his rich, husky tone. My heart fluttered, picturing him at the end of the line, his jet-black hair and flirty blue eyes. He simply had to flick me a look loaded with suggestion, and I’d be jelly-legged and lovestruck.

“What are you wearing?” he said.

“Wouldn’t you like to know?” I held back a laugh, eager to drag it out. So far our relationship had been more long-distance than anticipated, as he flew around the world reporting on location. The stints apart left an ache in my heart, a numbness to my days. Luckily I had my books, and a sweeping romance or two helped keep the loneliness at bay.

“Tell me or I’ll be forced to Skype you and see for myself.”

Glancing down at my outfit, I grimaced: black tights, a black pencil skirt, and a pilled blue knit sweater, all as old as the hills of Ashford. Not exactly the type of answer Ridge was waiting for, or the way I wanted him to picture me, after so many weeks apart. “Those stockings you like, and…”

His voice returned with a growl. “Those stockings? With the little suspenders?”

I sat back into the chair behind the counter, fussing with my bangs. “The very same.”

He groaned. “You’re killing me. Take a photo…”

“There’s no need. If you’re good, I’ll wear the red ones tomorrow night.” I grinned wickedly. Our reunions were always passionate affairs; he was a hands-on type of guy. Lucky for him, because it took a certain type of man to drag me from the pages of my books. When he was home we didn’t surface until one of us had to go to work. Loving Ridge had been a revelation, especially in the bedroom, where he took things achingly slow, drawing out every second. I flushed with desire for him.

There was a muffled voice and the low buzz of phones ringing. Ridge mumbled to someone before saying, “About tomorrow…” He petered out, regret in each syllable.

I closed my eyes. “You’re not coming, are you?” I tried not to sigh, but it spilled out regardless. The lure of a bigger, better story was too much for him to resist, and lately the gaps between our visits grew wider. I understood his work was important, but I wanted him all to myself. A permanent fixture in the small town I lived in.

He tutted. “I’m sorry, baby. There’s a story breaking in

Indonesia, and I have to go. It’ll only be for a week or two, and then I’ll take some time off.”

Outside, leaves fluttered slowly from the oak tree, swaying softly, until they fell to the ground. I wasn’t the nagging girlfriend sort—times like this though, I was tempted to be. Ridge had said the very same thing the last three times he’d canceled a visit. But invariably someone would call and ask Ridge to head to the next location; any time off would be cut short.

“I understand,” I said, trying to keep my voice bright. Sometimes I felt like I played a never-ending waiting game. Would it always be like this? “Just so you know, I have a very hot date this afternoon.”

He gasped. “You better be talking about a fictional date.” His tone was playful, but underneath there was a touch of jealousy to it. Maybe it was just as hard on him, being apart.

“One very hot book boyfriend…though not as delectable as my real boyfriend—but a stand-in, until he returns.”

“Well, he better not keep you up half the night, or he’ll have me to answer to,” he faux threatened, and then said more seriously, “Things will slow down, Sarah. I want to be with you so much my soul hurts. But right now, while I’m freelance, I have to take whatever comes my way.”

“I know. I just feel a bit lost sometimes. Like someone’s hit pause, and I’m frozen on the spot.” I bit my lip, trying to work out how to explain it. “It’s not just missing you—I do understand about your job—it’s…everything. The bookshop sales dwindling, the rent jacked up, everyone going on about their business, while I’m still the same old Sarah.”

I’d been at this very crossroad when I’d met Ridge, and he’d swept me off my feet, like the ultimate romance hero. For a while that had been enough. After all, wasn’t love always the answer? Romance aside, life was a little stagnant, and I knew it was because of my fear of change. It wasn’t so

much that I had to step from behind the covers of my books, rather plunge, perhaps. Take life by the scruff of the neck and shake it. But how?

“You’ve had a rough few weeks. That’s all. I’ll be back soon, and I’m sure there’s something I can do to make you forget everything…”

My belly flip-flopped at the thought. He would make me forget everything that was outside that bedroom door, but then he’d leave and it would all tumble back.

What exactly was I searching for? My friends were getting married and having babies. Buying houses and redecorating. Starting businesses. My life had stalled. I was an introvert, happiest hiding in the shadows of my shop, reading romances to laze the day away, between serving the odd customer or two—yet, it wasn’t enough. In small-town Connecticut, there wasn’t a lot to do. And life here—calm, peaceful—was fine, but that’s just it, fine wasn’t enough anymore. I had this fear that life was passing me by because I was too timid to take the reins.

It was too hazy a notion of what I was trying to say, even to me. Instead of lumping Ridge with it, I changed tack. “I hope you know, you’re not leaving the house when you get home. Phones will be switched to silent, computers forgotten, and the only time we’re leaving the comfort of bed is when I need sustenance.” A good romp around the bedroom would suffice until I could pinpoint what it was that I wanted.

“How about I sort out the sustenance?” he said, his voice heavy with desire. “And then we’ll never have to leave.”

“Promises, promises,” I said, my breath hitching. I hoped this flash of longing would never wane, the sweet torture of anticipation.

“I have to go, baby. I’ll call you tonight if it’s not too late once I’m in.”

“Definitely call tonight! Otherwise, I can’t guarantee the book boyfriend won’t steal your girlfriend. He’s pretty hot, I’ll have you know.”

“Why am I jealous of a fictional character?” He laughed, a low, sexy sound. “OK, tonight. Love you.”

“Love you too.”

He hung up, leaving me dazed, and a touch lonely knowing that I wouldn’t see him the next day as planned.

I tried to shake the image of Ridge from my mind. If anyone walked in, they’d see the warm blush of my cheeks, and know exactly what I was thinking. Damn the man for being so attractive, and so effortlessly sexy.

Shortly, the sleepy town of Ashford would wake under the gauzy light of October skies. Signs would be flipped to open, stoops swept, locals would amble down the road. Some would step into the bookshop and out of the cold, and spend their morning with hands wrapped around a mug of steaming hot tea, and reading in any one of the cozy nooks around the labyrinth-like shop.

I loved having a place for customers to languish. Comfort was key, and if you had a good book and a hot drink, what else could you possibly need to make your day any brighter? Throw rugs and cushions were littered around seating areas. Coats would be swiftly hung on hooks, a chair found, knitted blankets pulled across knees, and their next hour or two spent, in the most relaxing of ways.

I wandered around the shop, feather duster in hand, tickling the covers, waking them from slumber. I’m sure as soon as my back was turned, the books wiggled and winked at one another, as if they were eager for the day to begin, for fingers of hazy sunlight to filter through and land on them like spotlights, as if saying, here’s the book for you.

Imagine if I had to close up for good, like so many other shops had in recent times? It pained me to think people were missing out on the real-life bookshop experience. Wasn’t it much better when you could step into a dimly lit space, and eke your way around searching for the right novel? You could run a fingertip along the spines, smell that glorious old book scent, flick them open, and unbend a dog-eared page. Read someone else’s notes in the margin, or a highlighted passage, and see why that sentence or metaphor had dazzled the previous owner.

Secondhand books had so much life in them. They’d lived, sometimes in many homes, or maybe just one. They’d been on airplanes, traveled to sunny beaches, or crowded into a backpack and taken high up a mountain where the air thinned.

Some had been held aloft tepid rose-scented baths, and thickened and warped with moisture. Others had childlike scrawls on the acknowledgment page, little fingers looking for a blank space to leave their mark. Then there were the pristine novels, ones that had been read carefully, bookmarks used, almost like their owner barely pried the pages open so loath were they to damage their treasure.

I loved them all.

Excerpted from The Little Bookshop on the Seine by Rebecca Raisin. Copyright © 2015 by Rebecca Raisin. Published by HQN Books.

Author Bio

Rebecca Raisin_AuthorPhoto.jpg

Rebecca Raisin is the author of several novels, including the beloved Little Paris series and the Gingerbread Café trilogy, and her short stories have been published in various anthologies and fiction magazines. You can follow Rebecca on Facebook, and at http://www.rebeccaraisin.com

Connect with Rebecca here:

Twitter: @JaxandWillsMum

Facebook: @RebeccaRaisinAuthor

Instagram: @RebeccaRaisinWrites

Goodreads

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Blogging, Book Love, writers life, writing

A Love Hate Thing by Whitney Grandison – Blog Tour

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A fantastic enemies to lovers romance about an It girl whose world is upended when a boy from the past moves into her house after tragedy strikes. For fans of Ibi Zoboi’s Pride, Mary H. K. Choi and Samira Ahmed. Wattpad author Whitney D. Grandison’s traditional publishing debut.

 

When they’re stuck under one roof, the house may not be big enough for their hate…or their love

 

When Tyson Trice finds himself tossed into the affluent coastal community of Pacific Hills, he’s ready for the questions, the stares, and the total feeling of not belonging in the posh suburb. Not that he cares. After recovering from being shot and surviving the mean streets of Lindenwood, he doesn’t care about anyone or anything. He doesn’t even care how the rest of his life will play out.

 

In Pacific Hills, image is everything. Something that, as the resident golden girl, Nandy Smith knows all too well. She’s spent most of her life building the pristine image that it takes to fit in. After learning that her parents are taking in a former childhood friend, Nandy fears her summer plans, as well as her reputation, will go up in flames. It’s the start of summer vacation and the last thing Nandy needs is some juvenile delinquent from the ’Wood crashing into her world.

 

Stuck together in close quarters, Trice and Nandy are in for some long summer nights. Only, with the ever-present pull back to the Lindenwood streets, it’ll be a wonder if Trice makes it through this summer at all.

Author Bio

WhitneyGrandison_Credit_JenniferMPhotography

 

Whitney D. Grandison was born and raised in Akron, Ohio, where she currently resides. A lover of stories since she first picked up a book, it’s no surprise she’s taken to writing her own. Some of her works can be found on Wattpad, one of the largest online story sharing platforms, where she has acquired over 30,000 followers and an audience of over fifteen million dedicated readers.

Instagram: @wheadee

Twitter: @whitney_DG

Excerpt

 

1 | TRICE

 

Getting shot isn’t the worst part. It’s the aftermath that really fucks you up.

Six months ago, on a dark December night, I was lying in a pool of my own blood on the living room floor. Six months later, I was sitting in a car on the way to a new town to start fresh. In some ways, yeah, the wound had healed. In others, it never would. I didn’t care, though. The last thing I’d cared about got me where I was.

“You’ll like it there, Tyson. The Smiths have prepared a new home for you,” Misty from social services was saying as she drove the long stretch of highway toward Pacific Hills. It was only an hour away from where I used to live in Lindenwood, California.

I didn’t respond. Home was a meaningless word to me now.

Misty peeked at me. “Aren’t you going to say anything?”

“I can leave as soon as I turn eighteen, right?” That was all that mattered. Fuck the rest. Five months, aka one hundred and sixty days, to go. On November twelfth, I’d be free.

Misty sighed. “Look, I know what you’re going through—”

“Word? You’ve been shot too and all’at?” I glanced her way. This lady was going home to a millionthreadcount sheetandpillowcase set, resting easy once I was off her hands.

Fuck outta here.

“Well, no, but—”

“Then shut up.” I faced the road ahead, done talking. 

 

Misty let out a breath, her light tan skin no doubt holding a blush upon her cheeks. “Do you kiss your—” She caught herself, as if realizing where she was about to go. “I—I’m sorry. You just shouldn’t speak that way.”

I felt an ache in my chest, but I let it go.

 

I didn’t care.

Half a beat later Misty was rambling on about food. “Do you wanna stop and get something to eat, you must be starving.”

“I told you I wasn’t hungry.”

“Oh, well, are you nervous?”

I hadn’t thought about being nervous or the fact that I would never return home again and lead a normal life. Not like I’d ever led one to begin with.

“No.”

“Well, good. Think of it as going to a sleepover at an old friend’s house.”

One thing was true, the Smiths were old friends, but this setup was for the next five months.

“It’s been ten years since I last saw them,” I spoke up. “This ain’t no damn sleepover, and it’s not about to be all kumbaya, neither.”

 

At least they were black. Moving into the uppity setting of Pacific Hills was sure to be hell, but at least I would be with a black family. Even if I wouldn’t exactly fit in.

 

I didn’t look the same. I didn’t act the same. I wasn’t the same. And I didn’t care.

 

“Tyson—”

 

“It’s Trice.” I had asked her to call me that from jump street. No one called me Tyson.

 

I didn’t want to think about that. I didn’t want to think about anything. I didn’t care.

 

“Trice, please, try? I know it’s been rough these past few months, but you have a chance at something fresh. The Smiths are good people, and Pacific Hills is a lovely town. I’m sure soon you’ll be close to your old self.”

 

Misty had no clue what she was talking about. My old self? She obviously hadn’t paid attention to my file, or she would’ve been smart enough to leave it at fresh and not bring up my past.

 

Tyson Trice was dead.

 

He died on the f loor in the living room that day, and he was never coming back.

 

When I didn’t respond, Misty let up, probably getting that I didn’t give a shit either way.

 

I didn’t care.

 

2 | Nandy

 

I told myself I didn’t care about the juvenile delinquent my parents were moving into our home. I told myself it was no big deal an excon would be sleeping right next door to me. I told myself that my parents hadn’t made the worst decision in everdom.

 

It was just an everyday occurrence in the Smith household.

 

Still, it wasn’t fair.

 

As I paced around the pool in my backyard and complained to my best friend, Erica Yee, over the phone, I expected her to be on my side and console me.

 

“This was supposed to be a great summer and they pull this?” I whined.

 

“You can still have a good summer,” Erica responded. “This doesn’t have to be the end.”

 

But it was the end. My parents hadn’t gone into detail about the boy’s situation, just that he was in a “rough spot” and would be living with us for now. And that he was from Lindenwood, otherwise known as the ghetto.

 

I’d never gone there, but I’d heard enough stories to know to be cautious. When my parents watched the news, there was always a segment on some tragedy that had happened in Lindenwood. Some highspeed chase, or little kids killed during a driveby, or a robbery gone wrong among the usual clutter of crime that kept the LPD busy. Lindenwood was notorious for its drugs, thefts, assaults, and murders.

 

I shivered.

 

It probably hadn’t been the best idea to stay up lurking on the local news feeds right before the delinquent moved in.

 

Everything would be ruined.

 

“It is the end,” I insisted. “I mean, they spent all this time whispering and having these hushed conversations behind closed doors, and they barely revealed last night that he’s from Lindenwood!”

 

Maybe I was acting childishly, but I felt like a kid with the way my parents had shut me out on the biggest detail of all when it came to the boy coming to stay with us out of nowhere. For two weeks, they’d been scarce on the topic and evaded any and all questions. Now it felt like they’d dropped a bomb on me.

 

For all I knew, this kid was a total exgangbanger and my parents were intent on opening our home to wayward souls.

 

Dramatic? Sure.

 

Precautions? I was definitely taking them.

 

“Right now, you’re probably pacing around your pool in a Gucci bikini while your happilyinlove parents are inside preparing dinner together. God, Nan, your life is incredibly boring. You could use this delinquent to spice things up.”

 

Well, it was a Sunday evening, and the sun was beginning to set. My parents always made dinner together on Sundays, because they were both off work and able to do so.

 

I stopped pacing and glanced down at my white Gucci bikini. “Yee, you try new hobbies to spice things up, not invite excons to move in with you. Look, whatever, let’s just get away for a few hours. The longer I put a halt on this, the better.”

 

“When is he supposed to show up?”

 

“Sometime today. I just wanna blow it off. Maybe you, me, and Chad could grab a bite at the club or something.”

 

My boyfriend’s family had a reserved table at the local country club. Anything would be better than dinner with the delinquent. I wasn’t 100 percent sure he was a criminal, but I wasn’t taking any chances. When it came to Lindenwood, you couldn’t be too sure.

 

“You in?” I asked.

 

“If we must.” Erica pretended to sound exasperated. “Call me with the details in twenty, okay?”

 

“Deal.” I hung up and sighed, tilting my head back toward the darkening sky and questioning what I had done to deserve this.

 

It was the first week of June, and school had ended last week. I intended to spend this summer before senior year going to beach bonfires and parties with my friends, lounging around, preparing for cotillion, and just staying as far away from home as possible.

 

With a plan in motion, I went around my pool and stepped into our family room through the patio doors.

 

“Shit!” I jumped back, dropping my phone and barely registering the sound of its rough slap against the hardwood floor.

 

My parents were standing in the room with an Asian woman who was dressed in a violetred pantsuit. But it was the boy beside her that startled me. He towered over my father, with broad shoulders and a wide chest, and arms that let me know he worked out, even though he seemed drenched in black with his longsleeved shirt and matching pants. He had deep, dark brown skin with a clean complexion. But what really stood out was his hair. The boy had cornrows braided to the back of his head—well-aged cornrows.

 

Ugh, he looked so unpolished.

 

Suddenly I remembered my fallen phone and looked down to discover the screen was cracked. Because things aren’t messed up enough already.

 

“And you remember our daughter, Nandy.” My mother played it cool, gesturing toward where I’d frozen near the patio doors.

 

Everyone faced me, looking just as uncomfortable as I felt.

 

Great, I was making my first impression completely inappropriate in a bikini.

 

Awkwardly, I waved and forced a smile onto my face, showing off the result of two years of braces.

 

“Nandy, this may be a little bit of a surprise, but you remember Tyson Trice, don’t you?” my father asked, looking between the two of us. 

 

At first, the name vaguely rang a bell, but then it hit me. Tyson, the boy I’d played with when I was younger. He used to come by in the summers when his grandfather would do lawn work around our subdivision. There’d been a few times during the school year when he’d come by too, but it was mostly a summer thing. Until he stopped coming altogether.

 

The revelation brought a sense of relief followed quickly by a foreign anger that I couldn’t explain.

 

That was then; this is now.

 

Now Tyson Trice had hit a mega growth spurt and stood before me nearly a man, appearing not at all like the seventeen years young that we both were.

 

“Right.” I nodded my head. “Tyson, hey.”

 

Tyson didn’t shift focus to my body. He stared straight into my eyes and bore no friendly expression or a tell of what he was thinking. He was far across the room, but I didn’t need to be right up on him to know that he had the angriest eyes I’d ever seen. Dark, soulless abysses stared at me, making me shiver.

 

Right on, Dad. Thanks for inviting a possible murderer into our home.

 

“And this is our son, Jordy.” My mother didn’t miss a beat as she went on, downplaying how awkward everything was.

 

Jordy, my elevenyearold little brother, was sitting against the ottoman, playing a video game on his handheld.

 

Tyson glanced at Jordy, and I felt protective, seeing curiosity briefly cross his face as he laid eyes on my Thai brother.

 

Jordy looked up from his game. “Hey.”

 

Tyson lifted a brow and turned to face my parents in that familiar way most outsiders looked at my family once they realized a black family was raising a Thai son.

 

Jordy smirked, shaking his head. “They wish they could’ve spawned a kid as goodlooking as me.”

 

My father chuckled. “We spoke about adopting for years after having Nandy, and right around the time she was eight, we got approved and Jordy came into our lives.”

 

“He was just two years old,” my mother gushed. “He was so adorable, we fell in love with him instantly.”

 

I came more into the room, wanting to shield my brother from Tyson. Someone had to think of the kids.

 

“Nandy, why don’t you go put some clothes on.” It wasn’t a question. My mother was ordering me to cover up and look more presentable for our guests.

 

“I was actually on my way out to meet up with Erica, we’ve got this—”

 

“Right now?” she asked. “We’ve got company.”

 

I glanced at Tyson, hating him again for spoiling my summer. I’d seen him, and I’d spoken to him. What more did she want?

 

“Yeah, but Erica and I had plans to go to the country club and talk about cotillion.”

 

My mother pursed her lips. “Nandy—”

 

“You know what,” my father stepped in, “that’s a great idea. Nandy could take Tyson and the two could get reacquainted, and that’ll give us time to talk to Ms. Tran here.”

 

My eyes practically shot out of their sockets. There was no way in hell I’d share a car with Tyson.

 

After thinking it over, my mother seemed to agree. “That is a great idea. We can all sit down together later.”

 

My jaw hit the ground.

 

I shook my head. “You know, never mind, suddenly I’m not as hungry as I thought. In fact, I feel sick to my stomach. I think I’ll go lie down.”

 

By the way my mother narrowed her eyes, I knew she’d be giving me hell later about my behavior. I didn’t care. It wasn’t fair to me to force some scarylooking guy into my hands to be babysat.

 

With one final look at the newest arrival to the Smith household, I picked up my phone from the floor and made my way up to my room.

 

Long after Ms. Tran had left and my mother had scolded me in our family office, I sat in my room, maneuvering with a broken phone as I texted my boyfriend. Going on a hunger strike didn’t last long for me. After having refused to go down for dinner, I was starving.

 

My cell phone chirped as Chad texted me back.

 

Chad: Outside

 

Me: Thank God

 

My parents were probably still up, no doubt discussing either my punishment or how we were going to work Tyson into the family.

 

With their bedroom being in a different wing of our house, sneaking out was always an easy feat. Still, I made sure to keep extra quiet as I crept out of my room and slipped down the staircase.

 

Chad was waiting for me out front. He’d been pacing back and forth in front of our walk as he waited, and as I stepped outside I was elated to see him.

 

“I’m thinking sushi, you in?” I asked as I walked past him, heading for his car.

 

“Yeah, sure. What’s going on?” Chad asked as he caught up to me and fell into step.

 

I peered up into his blue eyes. “You don’t want to know.”

 

Chad ran a hand through his auburn hair, appearing confused but conceding. “Okay, let’s go get some sushi.”

 

At the feeling of being watched, I glanced back at my house. On the second floor, through one of the large bay windows, I caught sight of a silhouetted figure.

 

It was him.

 

Creep.

 

I turned back to Chad and reached out and caught his hand. “Yeah, let’s get out of here.”

 

This was my summer, and no one was getting in the way of that.

 

Excerpted from A Love Hate Thing by Whitney D. Grandison. Copyright © 2020 by Whitney Grandison. Published by Inkyard Press. 

Pick up your copy here: 

Harlequin

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Blogging, Book Love, writers life, writing

FIRST CUT by Judy Melinek & T.J. Mitchell – Blog Tour

FIRST CUT cover

 

Wife and husband duo Dr. Judy Melinek and T.J. Mitchell first enthralled the book world with their runaway bestselling memoir Working Stiff—a fearless account of a young forensic pathologist’s “rookie season” as a NYC medical examiner. This winter, Dr. Melinek, now a prominent forensic pathologist in the Bay Area, once again joins forces with writer T.J. Mitchell to take their first stab at fiction. 

 

The result: FIRST CUT (Hanover Square Press; Hardcover; January 7, 2020; $26.99)—a gritty and compelling crime debut about a hard-nosed San Francisco medical examiner who uncovers a dangerous conspiracy connecting the seedy underbelly of the city’s nefarious opioid traffickers and its ever-shifting terrain of tech startups.

 

Dr. Jessie Teska has made a chilling discovery. A suspected overdose case contains hints of something more sinister: a drug lord’s attempt at a murderous cover up. As more bodies land on her autopsy table, Jessie uncovers a constellation of deaths that point to an elaborate network of powerful criminals—on both sides of the law—that will do anything to keep things buried. But autopsy means “see for yourself,” and Jessie Teska won’t stop until she’s seen it all—even if it means the next corpse on the slab could be her own.

Excerpt

PROLOGUE

Los Angeles
May

The dead woman on my table had pale blue eyes, long lashes, no mascara. She wore a thin rim of black liner on her lower lids but none on the upper. I inserted the twelve gauge needle just far enough that I could see its beveled tip through the pupil, then pulled the syringe plunger to aspirate a sample of vitreous fluid. That was the first intrusion I made on her corpse during Mary Catherine Walsh’s perfectly ordinary autopsy.

The external examination had been unremarkable. The decedent appeared to be in her midthirties, blond hair with dun roots, five foot four, 144 pounds. After checking her over and noting identifying marks (monochromatic professional tattoo of a Celtic knot on lower left flank, appendectomy scar on abdomen, well-healed stellate scar on right knee), I picked up a scalpel and sliced from each shoulder to the breastbone, and then all the way down her belly. I peeled back the layers of skin and fat on her torso—an ordinary amount, maybe a little on the chubby side—and opened the woman’s chest like a book.

I had made similar Y-incisions on 256 other bodies during my ten months as a forensic pathologist at the Los Angeles County Medical Examiner-Coroner’s Office, and this one was easy. No sign of trauma. Normal liver. Healthy lungs. There was nothing wrong with her heart. The only significant finding was the white, granular material of the gastric contents. In her stomach was a mass of semidigested pills.

When I opened her uterus, I found she’d been pregnant. I measured the fetus’s foot length and estimated its age at twelve weeks. The fetus appeared to have been viable. It was too young to determine sex.

I deposited the organs one by one at the end of the stainless-steel table. I had just cut into her scalp to start on the skull when Matt, the forensic investigator who had collected the body the day before, came in.

“Clean scene,” he reported, depositing the paperwork on my station. “Suicide.”

I asked him where he was going for lunch. Yogurt and a damn salad at his desk, he told me: bad cholesterol and a worried wife. I extended my condolences as he headed back out of the autopsy suite.

I scanned through Matt’s handwriting on the intake sheet and learned that the body had been found, stiff and cold, in a locked and secure room at the Los Angeles Omni hotel. The cleaning staff called the police. The ID came from the name on the credit card used to pay for the room, and was confirmed by fingerprint comparison with her driver’s license thumbprint. A handwritten note lay on the bed stand, a pill bottle in the trash. Nothing else. Matt was right: There was no mystery to the way Mary Walsh had died.

I hit the dictaphone’s toe trigger and pointed my mouth toward the microphone dangling over the table. “The body is identified by a Los Angeles County Medical Examiner’s tag attached to the right great toe, inscribed LACD-03226, Walsh, Mary Catherine…”

I broke the seal on the plastic evidence bag and pulled out the pill bottle. It was labeled OxyContin, a powerful painkiller, and it was empty.

“Accompanying the body is a sealed plastic bag with an empty prescription medication bottle. The name on the prescription label…”

I read the name but didn’t speak it. The hair started standing up on my neck. I looked down at my morning’s work—the splayed body, flecked with gore, the dissected womb tossed on a heap of other organs.

That can’t be, I told myself. It can’t.

On the clipboard underneath the case intake sheet I found a piece of hotel stationery sealed in another evidence bag. It was the suicide note, written in blue ink with a steady feminine hand. I skimmed it—then stopped, and went back.

I read it again.

I heard the clipboard land at my feet. I gripped the raised lip of my autopsy table. I held tight while the floor fell away.

Judy&TJ (c)Amal Bisharat

 

Judy Melinek was an assistant medical examiner in San Francisco for nine years, and today works as a forensic pathologist in Oakland and as CEO of PathologyExpert Inc. She and T.J. Mitchell met as undergraduates at Harvard, after which she studied medicine and practiced pathology at UCLA. Her training in forensics at the New York City Office of Chief Medical Examiner is the subject of their first book, the memoir Working Stiff: Two Years, 262 Bodies, and the Making of a Medical Examiner.
T.J. Mitchell is a writer with an English degree from Harvard, and worked in the film industry before becoming a full-time stay-at-home dad. He is the New York Times bestselling co-author of Working Stiff: Two Years, 262 Bodies, and the Making of a Medical Examiner with his wife, Judy Melinek.

Connect with them at the following spots:

Twitter

Judy: @drjudymelinek

TJ: @TJMitchellWS

FB:

@DrWorkingStiff

Insta

Judy: @drjudymelinek

Goodreads

Judy

TJ

 

You can pick up your copy here:

Harlequin 

Indiebound

Amazon

Barnes & Noble 

Books-A-Million

Target

Google

iBooks

Kobo

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Blogging, Book Love, writers life, writing

A New Year

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Hi friends,

I’m sorry I didn’t finish the #12DaysofWriting series. December ended up being a lot busier than I anticipated. Thanks for sticking with me last year. I appreciate all the comments, shares, and likes ❤ 🙂

My goal for this year is to learn more about my process as a writer. I’d like to learn how to go from a finished draft of a novel to a polished and revised piece ready to send to betas and agents.

So far, I have only revised one novel-length project. I need some new editing tools. If you have any tips, I would love to hear them ❤ If I come across any interesting videos or sites, I will share them.

What are your writing goals for the year?

Until next time,
Loie

12 Days of Writing, Blogging, Book Love, fairy tales, writers life, writing, Writing Submission

On the 2nd and 3rd Day of Writing

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Hi writing friends,

I have two anthology submission opportunities for you to check out. Let’s take a closer look.

StormDance Publications: Be My Grumpy Valentine! V6

Submit a speculative fiction story between 3000-4000 words and include one goddess or god. Show your main character finding their happy ending, regardless of the ‘help’ from the deity. Perhaps the love god/goddess needs to retire soon.

They are anticipating a lot of stories with Cupid, so find a different one to add. Read more about the submission details here if this sounds interesting. The deadline is January 3rd, 2020

Note* I wrote a short story last year for their first anthology. It wasn’t accepted, but they gave me kind and helpful feedback. I was able to lengthen that original story into something longer, and hope to return to it early next spring.

World Weaver Press – CLOCKWORK, CURSES, AND COAL

For this anthology, Rhonda Parrish is looking for steampunk fairy tales. What is steampunk? It’s a genre that explores an imaginative 1800s, where people use steam-powered technology. Include airships, exploration, and high teas in your story. Don’t forget bustles and parasols. Keep reading about steampunk here.

You can create an original fairy tale, but Rhonda also invites retellings. You can set your story all over the world; it doesn’t have to be in Victorian England or the wild west of America.

Learn more about the submission details here. Keep the story length under 7,500 words. The deadline window is between February 1st-March 31st, 2020.

Happy writing, friends!

 

12 Days of Writing, Blogging, Book Love, writers life, writing, Writing Submission

On the 1st Day of Writing: Cast of Wonders

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Hi everyone,

Welcome to the #12DaysofWriting blog series. Today, I found a fantastic submission prompt. Without further ado, let’s check out the submission opportunity with Cast of Wonders.

Cast of Wonders

If you write YA short fiction, consider sending in a story up to 6000 words. They tend to prefer flash fiction below 1000 words, and stories between 3000-4500 words. They seek stories that spark a sense of wonder in the reader. Read a few of the staff’s favorites.

 

Their deadline is December 15th. If you don’t have time to write something new, consider editing an older piece.

Cast of Wonders read the chosen stories out loud. They are a qualified market for the SCBWI and SFWA. Learn more about the submissions process.

Happy writing, friends!

Loie

Blogging, Book Love, writers life, writing

The KILL CLUB by Wendy Heard Blog Tour

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  • The Kill Club by Wendy Heard
  • On Sale Date: December 17, 2019
  • Fiction / Thrillers / Psychological 

 

Synopsis

A haunting thriller about a woman who attempts to save her brother’s life by making a dangerous pact with a network of vigilantes who’ve been hunting down the predators of Los Angeles.

 

Jazz can’t let her younger brother die.

 

Their foster mother Carol has always been fanatical, but with Jazz grown up and out of the house, Carol takes a dangerous turn that threatens thirteen-year-old Joaquin’s life. Over and over, child services fails to intervene, and Joaquin is running out of time.

 

Then Jazz gets a blocked call from someone offering a solution. There are others like her, people the law has failed. They’ve formed an underground network of “helpers,” each agreeing to murder the abuser of another. They’re taking back their power and leaving a trail of bodies throughout Los Angeles—dubbed the Blackbird Killings. If Jazz joins them, they’ll take care of Carol for good.

 

All she has to do is kill a stranger.

 

Jazz soon learns there’s more to fear than getting caught carrying out her assignment. The leader of the club has a zero tolerance policy for mistakes.

 

And the punishment for disobeying orders is death.

Author Bio

Wendy Heard Author Photo_Credit Courtest MIRA Books.jpg

Wendy Heard, author of Hunting Annabelle, was born in San Francisco and has lived most of her life in Los Angeles. When not writing, she can be found hiking the Griffith Park trails, taking the Metro and then questioning this decision, and haunting local bookstores. Connect with Wendy on her Author website

You can also follow her here:

Twitter: @wendydheard

Instagram: @wendydheard

Facebook: @wendydheard

Excerpt

THE CEILING ABOVE the crowd sparkles with strings of golden lights. They twinkle just bright enough to illuminate the faces. I adjust a microscopic issue with my toms and run my fingers through my bangs, straightening them over my eyes. The guys are tuning up, creating a clatter of discordant notes in the monitors. When they’re done, they approach my kit for our usual last-minute debate about the set list. Dao humps his bass in his ready-to-play dance, black hair swishing around his shoulders. “Dude, stop,” Matt groans and readjusts the cable that connects his Telecaster to his pedal board.

“Your mom loves my dancing,” Dao says.

“You dance like Napoleon Dynamite,” Matt retorts.

“Your mom dances like Napoleon Dynamite.”

Andre raises his hands. “Y’all both dance like Napoleon Dynamite, and so do both your moms, so let’s just—”

I wave a stick at them. “Guys. Focus. The sound guy is watching. We’re three minutes behind.” I have no patience for this shit tonight. This all feels extra and stupid. I should be doing something to help Joaquin. His dwindling supply of insulin sits at the front of my brain like a ticking clock.

The guys get into their spots, the distance between them set by muscle memory. Andre leans forward into the mic and drawls, “Arright DTLA, lez get a little dirty in here.” His New Orleans accent trickles off his tongue like honey.

The room inhales, anticipates, a sphere of silence.

“Two three four,” I yell. I clack my sticks together and we let loose, four on the floor and loud as hell. I’m hitting hard tonight. It feels great. I need to hit things. My heart beats in tempo. My arms fly through the air, the impact of the drums sharp in my joints, in my muscles, the kick drum a pulse keeping the audience alive. This is what I love about drumming, this forcing of myself into the crowd, making their hearts pound in time to my beat.

Dao fucks up the bridge of “Down With Me” and Andre gives him some vicious side-eye. The crowd is pressed tight up against the stage. A pair of hipsters in cowboy hats grabs a corresponding pair of girls and starts dancing with them. I cast Dao an eye-rolling look referring to the cowboy hats and he wiggles his eyebrows at me. I stomp my kick drum harder, pretending it’s Carol’s face.

The crowd surges back. Arms fly. A guy in the front staggers, falls. A pair of hands grips the stage, and a girl tries to pull herself up onto it.

Matt and Dao stop playing. The music screeches to a halt.

“What’s going on?” I yell.

“Something in the pit,” Dao calls back.

Andre drops his mic and hops down into the crowd. Dao and Matt cast their instruments aside and close the distance to the edge of the stage. I get up and join them. Together, we look down into the pit.

A clearing has formed around a brown-haired guy lying on the floor. Andre and the bouncer squat by him as he squirms and thrashes, his arms and legs a tangle of movement. Andre’s got his phone pressed to his ear and is talking into it urgently. The bouncer is trying to hold the flailing man still, but the man’s body is rigid, shuddering out of the bouncer’s grip. He flops onto his back, and I get a good look at his face.

Oh, shit, I know this guy. He’s a regular at our shows. He whines and pants, muffled words gargling from his throat. Some of the bystanders have their phones out and are recording this. Assholes.

The man shrieks like a bird of prey. The crowd sucks its whispers back into itself, and the air hangs heavy and hushed under the ceiling twinkle lights.

Andre is still talking into his phone. The bouncer lifts helpless hands over the seizing man, obviously not sure what to do.

I should see if Andre wants help. I hop down off the stage and push through the crowd. “Excuse me. Can you let me through? Can you stop recording this and let me through?”

I’m suddenly face-to-face with a man who is trying to get out of the crowd as hard as I’m trying to get into it. His face is red and sweaty, his eyes wild. “Move,” he orders me.

Dick. “You fucking move.”

“Bitch, move.” He slams me with his shoulder, knocking me into a pair of girls who cry out in protest. I spin, full of rage, and reverse direction to follow him.

“Hey, fucker,” I scream. He casts a glance over his shoulder. “Yeah, you! Get the fuck back here!”

He escalates his mission to get out of the crowd, elbowing people out of his way twice as fast. I’m smaller and faster, and I slip through the opening he leaves in his wake. Just before he makes it to the side exit, I grab his flannel shirt and give him a hard yank backward. “Get the fuck back here!” I’m loose, all the rage and pain from earlier channeling into my hatred for this entitled, pompous asshole.

I know I should rein it in, but he spins to face me and says, “What is your problem, bitch?” And that’s it. I haul back and punch him full in the jaw.

He stumbles, trips over someone’s foot and lands on his ass on the cement floor. His phone goes clattering out of his hand, skidding to a stop by someone’s foot. “The hell!”

“Oh, shit,” cries a nearby guy in a delighted voice.

“Fucking bitch,” the guy says, and this is the last time he’s calling me a bitch. I go down on top of him, a knee in his chest. I swing wild, hit him in the jaw, the forehead, the neck. He throws an elbow; it catches me in the boob and I flop back off him with a grunt of pain. He sits up, a hand on his face, and opens his mouth to say something, but I launch myself off the ground again, half-conscious of a chorus of whoops and howls around us. I throw a solid punch. His nose cracks. Satisfaction. I almost smile. Blood streams down his face.

“That’s what you get,” I pant. He crab-shuffles back, pushes off the ground and sprints for the exit. I let him go.

My chest is heaving, and I have the guy’s blood on my hand, which is already starting to ache and swell. I wipe my knuckles on my jeans.

His phone lights up and starts buzzing on the floor. I pick it up and turn it over in my hand. It’s an old flip phone, the kind I haven’t seen in years. The bright green display says Blocked.

Back in the pit, the man having a seizure shrieks again, and then his screams gurgle to a stop. I put the phone in my pocket and push through the onlookers. I watch as his back convulses like he’s going to throw up, and then he goes limp. A thin river of blood snakes out of his open mouth and trails along the cement floor.

The room echoes with silence where the screams had been. A trio of girls stands motionless, eyes huge, hands pressed to mouths.

The flip phone in my pocket buzzes. I pull it out, snap it open and press it to my ear. “Hello?”

A pause.

“Hello?” I repeat.

A click. The line goes dead.

A set of paramedics slams the stage door open, stretcher between them. “Coming through!” They kneel down and start prodding at the man curled up on the concrete. His head flops back. His eyes are stretched wide and unseeing, focused on some point far beyond the twinkling ceiling lights.

Next to him on the concrete lies something… What is it? It’s rectangular and has red and—

It’s a playing card.

 

Excerpted from The Kill Club by Wendy Heard, Copyright © 2019 by Wendy Heard. Published by MIRA Books.  

Pick up your copy here:

Harlequin

Apple Books

Barnes & Noble

Books-a-Million

Google Play

Indie Bound

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