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Interview with Jermaine Gadson, Author of Tactics, Trends, and Traits of the Enemy

Jermaine Gadson headshotJermaine Gadson is the Senior Pastor of Faith Ministries, Inc., a non-traditional church located in Birmingham, AL. Prior to starting Faith Ministries, he served as an associate minister, youth minister, and pastor for local churches and ministries in the greater Birmingham area.  While, growing up in the Baptist church, he gave his life to Christ at an early age, and is a third generation minister of the Gospel. 

He holds a B.A. in Religion with a Concentration in Congregational Studies and a Minor in Classics from Samford University, and a Master of Divinity from Beeson Divinity School of Samford University.  He is currently a Doctor of Ministry student at Beeson Divinity School.  

Gadson enjoys reading, writing, sports, outdoors, movies, and spending time with his family. He is happily married to his wife Kristy and they have one beautiful daughter, Khloe. 

Visit Pastor Gadson online at www.JermaineGadson.com.

Thank you for this interview, Jermaine. Can you tell us what your latest book, Tactics, Trends, and Traits of the Enemy, is all about?

Yes, Tactics, Trends, and Traits, of the Enemy is about equipping people with the knowledge and wisdom to overcome various struggles in life that are a direct result of spiritual adversity. This book takes the spookiness out of spiritual warfare by exposing the Enemy’s strategies that present themselves in struggles that people face every day, that they may not be aware of as demonic attacks.

How did you come up with the idea?

The idea for the book came from reflecting on my own life and some of the experiences that I have had, thinking about questions and concerns that I have encountered in providing pastoral counseling to others, as well as gleaning from a Bible study series that I taught at my church.

What kind of research did you do before and during the writing of your book?

Most of the research for the book came from studying the Bible, and looking at various stories, passages, and illustrations that dealt with the various topics that are dealt with in the book.  A person who is interested in the Bible or who enjoys Bible study material will enjoy this book.  Those who are familiar with the Bible, as well as those who are not as familiar, will be challenged to look at certain passages of Scripture in a new way.  The material in this book is not what you would find in a typical Sunday school lesson. You will be inspired, encouraged, enlightened, and even surprised by what you will find.

If a reader can come away from reading your book with one valuable message, what would that be?

One valuable message that a reader can come away with is the understanding that knowledge is power.  People are destroyed because of a lack of knowledge. The more we know about the Enemy and his strategies, the better we are equipped to identify his tactics, and ultimate defeat him.

Can you give us a short excerpt?Tactics, Trends and Traits of the Enemy Cover

As human beings, we are not just flesh and blood. We are spirit beings also. Our lives are shaped and impacted by the reality and intertwining of two realms: the spirit and the natural. The natural realm is the one that we are the most familiar with. However, our lack of familiarity with the spirit realm does not negate its existence, nor render powerless its influence in our lives. The spirit realm is just as real and impactful as the natural, and even more so. For everything that you see and experience in the natural, there is something that corresponds to it in the spirit.

With that being said, we have to understand that we have an enemy: a real enemy, a spiritual enemy. This enemy is an adversary against God, humanity, and everything that God has created. His name is Satan. He and his army of countless devils will stop at nothing to destroy God’s great creation, namely the human race.

In this book, I am sharing insights that I have gained from my study of the Bible, personal experiences as a believer, and nearly ten years of experience as a pastor and fifteen years as a minister. God’s people are being destroyed from a lack of knowledge. It is not God’s will for His people to be ignorant of Satan’s devices. It is God’s will that His people be equipped to stand strong and boldly against the Enemy and his devilish schemes. The purpose of this book is to equip the body of Christ to be prepared to recognize demonic tactics and attacks, resist the Devil and his forces, and stand firm in the victory that is already ours in Jesus Christ.

In your own experience, is it hard to get a nonfiction book published today?  How did you do it?

This is my first book, and it is self-published.  Self-publishing is hard work, but if you are willing to do the work to get your message out it won’t seem so bad.  Trying to get published by a traditional publisher has different dynamics, and may be more difficult for some than for others, depending on the topic, genre, publisher, and current market.

What’s a typical day like for you?

A typical day includes getting my family ready to leave home in the morning, spending time in prayer and devotion, writing, blogging and posting for my social media sites, preparing the media presentation and message for Sunday service, run errands or attend to business affairs, picking my daughter up from school, preparing and eating dinner with my family, enjoying some downtime or playtime with my daughter, debrief the day with my wife, and finally, get ready for the next day.

What’s next for you?

Next, I plan to work on a curriculum to accompany the book.  I am also preparing to write a second book to be released later this year or next year.

Thank you so much for this interview, Jermaine.  We wish you much success!

Thank you, so much for this interview. I appreciate it!

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Interview with Mary Carter, author of ‘Three Months in Florence’

Mary Carter 2Mary Carter is a freelance writer and novelist.  Three Months in Florence is her seventh novel. Her other works include:  The Things I Do For You, The Pub Across the Pond, My Sister’s Voice, Sunnyside Blues, She’ll Take It, and Accidentally Engaged.  In addition to her novels she has written three novellas: A Kiss Before Midnight in the anthology, You’re Still the One, A Very Maui Christmas in the New York Times best selling anthology Holiday Magic, and The Honeymoon House in the New York Times best selling anthology Almost Home.

Mary is working on two more novellas for winter and summer of 2014, as well as her eighth novel.

Visit her website at www.MaryCarterBooks.com.

Connect & socialize with Mary at Twitter: https://twitter.com/marycarterbooks

Like her on Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/pages/Mary-Carter-Books/248226365259

Click here to enter the $25 Amazon Gift Card + Books Giveaway!

About the Book:

Three Months in Florence 2Lena Wallace was supposed to go to Italy on her honeymoon. That was sixteen years ago. Instead, she settles for cooking Spaghetti Bolognese for her two children while her husband, Alex, is on yet another business trip to Florence without her. Lena deals with his absences in the same stoic way she deals with all her responsibilities. And then comes the call that changes everything–the one from Alex’s Italian mistress.

Stunned and heartsick, Lena flies to Florence to confront Alex. The city is every bit as beautiful as she imagined, from its glittering fountains and cafés to the golden sunsets over rolling hills. But the further she goes to salvage her marriage, the less Lena recognizes herself–or the husband she’s trying to win back. Instead, she’s catching glimpses of the person she once hoped to be and the life and family she truly wants. Most of all, she’s wondering if the real journey is only just beginning. . .

In a novel as warm and vibrant as its rich Italian setting, author Mary Carter explores the intricacies of marriage, the ways love can both liberate and confine, and the journey to happiness that begins with one surprising step. . .

Purchase your copy at AMAZON.

Q: Thank you for this interview, Mary. Can you tell us what your latest book, Three Months in Florence, is all about?

It is about Lena Wallace, a stay-at-home Mom who learns her husband is having an affair while teaching abroad in Florence Italy. Lena flies the family to Florence to confront her husband and his mistress.

Q:  Can you tell us a little about your main and supporting characters?

Lena Wallace is a devoted mother, an artist who let her canvas lapse, and a wife desperate to save her marriage. Alex is a professor of art history, and a man tempted by a beautiful, young woman. Alexandria is a drop-dead gorgeous Italian woman. She’s feisty and in love with a married man. Marco, is her equally handsome boyfriend who is also upset by the affair.

Q: Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?

I think a little of myself can’t help but eke into each character, and for Lena I borrowed the name and her looks from a true-life friend of mine, but the similarities stop there. The characters always end up taking off and becoming their own fully-fleshed-out people.

Q: Are you consciously aware of the plot before you begin a novel, or do you discover it as you write?

Truly, a bit of both. I’m required to write an outline for my publisher but he always knows I’m going to veer from it in the process of writing. Sometimes I take huge detours. Writing as you go tends to feel a lot more natural to me, but there are other times where outlines are extremely helpful.

Q: Your book is set in Florence, Italy. Can you tell us why you chose this city in particular?

Simply because I fell absolutely in love with it when I went to visit and I wanted to live there for a year. I didn’t get to, but I did get to experience it again through Lena.

Q: Does the setting play a major part in the development of your story?

Absolutely. Besides seeing it through Lena’s touristy eyes, it was a challenge to have something so ugly happening to Lena in a city so magical and beautiful. That was part of the challenge of writing the novel. And since Florence is such an artistic city, the element of art played a large role in the plot as well.

Q: Open the book to page 69.  What is happening?

Lena and the kids are waiting at The Fountain of Neptune for Alex to arrive. He’s coming now….

Q: Can you give us one of your best excerpts?

I would have to sit down and re-read the novel for the best excerpt, but here is a teaser from when Lena is “meeting” the mistress for the first time:

The young woman looks me in the eye, her pretty little chin tilts up, and she keeps her gaze steady. “Yes. I speak English.” She sits back in her chair and waits. Now that her face isn’t taking up the entire screen, I can clearly see that she isn’t in Alex’s dorm. Gone are the plain white walls and the MIchelangelo calendar perpetually open to the statue of David. Here I can make out a kitchen behind her with a squat white refrigerator covered in pictures, and a counter littered with empty bottles of wine, their corks bobbing next to them like murder weapons carelessly dropped next to dead bodies. Besides the wine there is a large basket of fruit and a hunk of yellow cheese sitting on a cutting board. It’s like an Italian still-life painting and it feels as if I can reach out and touch it.

Q: Have you suffered from writer’s block and what do you do to get back on track?

Write. One of my favorite writing quotes—paraphrased—My father drove a truck for twenty years. I don’t ever remember him getting “Truck Drivers Block.” Writing is a job. You just have to do it.

Q: What would you do with an extra hour today if you could do anything you wanted?

I’m going to go against the grain here. I actually have a lot of time on my hands. I can only write so many hours a day, I don’t have kids, and my other freelance work has been quiet lately. So I don’t want an extra hour today. I would probably feel guilty that I wasn’t doing something productive. Were you trying to get me to say I’d use it to write?

Q: Which already published book do you wish that you had written and why?

There are too many of them to mention. A recent one would be Gone Girl. I love psychological suspense and enjoyed the novel along with many others. The Hunger Games—I loved the series. Brilliant premise too. Time and Again by Jack Finney. I wish I had a tenth of the beautiful prose of Colum McCann. Gone With the Wind, of course. City of Thieves, Bel Canto, Racing in the Rain, The Room, Turn of Mind….You’re depressing me now. Can I change my answer to the question above and use my extra hour to drink and think of all the novels I wish I had written?

Q: What kind of advice would you give other fiction authors regarding getting their books out there?

Promotion is a tricky one. It really is. I haven’t hit on a magic formula yet. The one I try to hold onto is that the best thing to do is concentrate on making your next novel as good as you can get it. Oh—and I also wish I had written As Good As It Gets…. I might need an extra two hours….

Q: Thank you so much for this interview, Mary. We wish you much success!

Thank you! I can be found on Facebook, twitter, and marycarterbooks.com.

 

 

 

 

 

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Guest Blogger Stefan Vucak: The Drive to Write

The Drive to Write…

By Stefan Vucak, author of ‘Cry of Eagles’

Bright sunshine has flooded the landscape with light and shifting shadows as the wind whips branches into restless frenzy. A thin tendril of steam is rising from my cup of coffee and I gaze at it momentarily, captivated by the patterns it makes. I am staring at the computer screen, at the paragraphs running into each other, making no sense as I search for inspiration. No, that’s not quite right. I am driven by inspiration to pour out the words clamoring to get out, my characters screaming at me to write down what they have to say. I just don’t hear them, my Cry of Eaglesmind wandering as I look out the window at the shadows, the light and the patterns they make. There is an avalanche of ideas waiting to be unleashed, but I have stumbled into a pothole and I am too weary to drag myself out. I take a sip of coffee, taking in the aroma and the satisfying taste, and sigh as I stare at the words across the screen…

It’s strange, but I always wanted to write. Ever since as a kid when I stumbled across an illustrated book of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, I was hooked. A whole new universe was opened for me, one I never knew existed, one far beyond the narrow confines of my childhood pursuits and shallow games. When I discovered a library not far from the primary school, I gladly plunged into that universe. Of course, reading led me to think that I could also create a universe of my own, something others could share and hopefully enjoy. It didn’t look all that hard. After all, it was simply putting down words on paper. Although the drive to write never left me, it was some years later that I could unleash that part of me and allow my imagination full flight. But like Pandora, I unleashed a part of me that ever since has given me moments of intense pleasure, soul-wrenching frustration and disappointment.

Part of the frustration was mastering the mechanical craft of writing, learning how to write good dialogue, not allowing myself to get swept up in flowery prose, how to plot, research…a raft of skills a writer needs in order to produce something good. And I am still learning. But why put myself through all that pain, accumulating a stack of rejection slips along the way, harboring murdering thoughts at authors whose crappy books are on the stands while stuff I produced cannot make it? Why put up with lonely hours cooped up in my study, bent over my notebook or pounding away at the keyboard, enduring cramped muscles, mental blocks, endless hours of tedious editing, simply to turn out that novel? Why do I write?

The answer is simple as it is complex. I am driven to write. It is a fire that burns within me and one I cannot quench. I tried to once or twice, but that urge to write, to create, never let go, could not be extinguished. It’s a curse and it is also a gift. Once I recognized that I could not change what I was, I accepted my fate and allowed myself to soar. All the frustration and tedious work, the attention to detail and the rewriting, it fades into insignificance when I look at the rewards of my creativity. When the words flow and I can hardly keep up with them, when my characters live and laugh and cry with me, and come alive on paper, when it all clicks and my spirit cries like an eagle high in the sky, the buzz of pure creation can be giddying and addictive. And it is addictive, far better than any smoky weed or pill.

I write primarily because I must and because I want to share with others the joy of my creations. Once that book is done, the moment of accomplishment passes, but there is always a sense of power, knowing I have left something behind that is lasting. The doubts about getting published, having the thing sell, marketing, all those things will weigh on me later. But even if one person reads what I have produced, I am satisfied, although I am egotistical enough to want as many readers as possible. Then there is a period when I must recharge and get ready for another book, more frustration, more loneliness, more tedium. Sometimes I really wonder why I put myself through all this.

I’m driven and I’m cursed and I must write. The passion and the drive that keeps pushing me is relentless and won’t give me peace. But I have ceased fighting the current and have accepted my destiny, because there is nothing more fulfilling in life.

I take another sip of coffee, now gone cool, flex my fingers and smile at the keyboard. I have come for you, I tell my characters…

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Stefan VucakStefan Vucak is an award-winning author of seven techno sci-fi novels, including With Shadow and Thunder which was a 2002 EPPIE finalist. His Shadow Gods Saga books have been highly acclaimed by critics. His recent release, Cry of Eagles, won the coveted 2011 Readers Favorite silver medal award. Stefan leveraged a successful career in the Information Technology industry and applied that discipline to create realistic, highly believable storylines for his books. Born in Croatia, he now lives in Melbourne, Australia.

WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK

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Read-a-Chapter: Shuffle Up and Deal by Susan DiPlacido

Read a Chapter is *NEW* added feature at As the Pages Turn! Here you’ll be able to read the first chapters of books of all genres to see if you like them before you buy them. Today we are featuring the erotica romance/romantic comedy, Shuffle Up and Deal by Susan DiPlacido. Enjoy!

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Shuffle Up and Deal

    • Print Length: 427 pages
    • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 145058859X
    • Publisher: Neon Fiction (March 3, 2010)
    • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.

Meet Izzy Santillo. She’s a charming-but-lonely thirty-four year old woman who loves poker and harbors a secret crush on the reigning king of Hold ‘em.

Meet Nick Nolan, the reigning king of Hold ‘em. On the tables, he’s fast and loose and almost always wins. But when it comes to women, playboy Nick holds his cards too close and always loses.

When Izzy and Nick meet in embarrassing fashion at a Las Vegas poker tournament, Izzy’s secret dreams turn into a public nightmare. But despite her humiliation, she may have finally sparked Nick’s interest in something other than cards. Before long, Nick takes a gamble on Izzy and raises the stakes when he offers to help her sharpen her game. But Izzy’s convinced that Nick is bluffing and will fold his hand after he’s had her on the flop. But a string of outrageous proposition bets and steamy trips on the poker tour, from Los Angeles to Miami, make these two fierce competitors realize that it may be time to put all their chips on the table. Will Izzy and Nick pair up? Or will they lose it all if they go all-in for each other? Sit down, ante up, and hang on, as Nick and Izzy get ready to Shuffle Up and Deal.

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Chapter One

“Izzy,” he whispers in my ear as he nudges me from behind.  It’s gentle, but I was in a deep sleep, so I’m groggy and slow to respond.

I had forgotten he was even here.  My boyfriend du-jour.  It’s an on and off relationship that, for tonight at least, is on.

He pushes his body closer, spooning me, wrapping an arm around my waist.  His breath is warm and sultry in my ear.  His erection is pressed against my thigh.  “You awake, Iz?”

“Mmm,” I mumble, slowly swimming back up from the depths of sleep to regain conscious thought.
His hand moves under the covers, caresses the front of my thigh and starts pulling up my nightgown.  His hand is sure and soft, the fabric silky as it glides across my skin.  “Wake up,” he urges as his hand moves back down, between my legs.

“Sleepy,” I murmur.  I could easily go back to sleep.  But the sad fact is that since we’re more “off” than “on,” I really don’t get much fun in the sack, so I’m happy to forego sleep for sex tonight.

“I’ll make it worth your while,” he says as he gently but firmly coaxes my thighs apart.  I’m mostly awake, but still hovering on the brink, too lazy to engage with him, but also lacking the will to resist, mostly just content to wait a few seconds and see if I’ll wake up enough or doze back off.  He moves back from me slightly, his hand holding my inner thigh, leveraging to pull that leg back as he agilely shimmies himself between my legs and rolls me on my back.  He’s warm and I like the weight of him on top of me, the warmth of his groin pressed against mine.  Awake enough now that I could engage, I still play it lazy and just sigh and keep my eyes closed.

“I know you’re awake,” he says, calling my bluff.  He kisses the side of my cheek, uses one elbow for support as he reaches between us to tug at my nightgown again.  Quickly, it’s up over my hips, so we’re skin on skin contact below the waist.  I grin, realizing he must not have just rolled over and started in on me.  He must’ve been horny enough and taken the time to pull off his boxers and pull on the condom before waking me up.

I decide to tease him a bit for it.  Asking, “What would you have done if I hadn’t woken up?”  What I’m hoping for is a little bit of dirty talk.

“I knew you were awake,” is all he says as he goes for the top of my nightgown, pushing the skinny strap to the side and then gliding his whole hand beneath the silk to cup my breast.  He gives a firm squeeze as the heat of his palm makes my nipple react as I keep my eyes closed in blind surrender, heightening the other sensations.  As my nipple hardens, he rubs and squeezes again, grinds his hips to press his erection right up against me.

A sigh escapes me.

“You ready?” he asks me.

“Doubtful.”

He goes to work kissing me.  He really is an excellent kisser.  He slips me some tongue as his fingers playfully pinch around my nipple.  He slides down, kisses my neck, warming me inside and out.

I’m getting tuned up, definitely.  Flushed skin, those wonderful quivery feelings running through my blood as he dips down and catches my nipple in his mouth.  No fooling around taunting me, he sucks.  And sucks.  It rocks me.

Taking a breath, he asks me again, “You ready?”
Eyes still closed, reveling in the dreaminess mixing with the rushes, I say, “Go ahead and check.”  That’s what I’m longing for now, for his hand to reach down and stroke me, build the heat right there.

But he declines.  Instead answering, “You’re ready.”  He scootches back up, reaching down and taking hold of himself instead of pleasuring me.  His skin is fevered, his shoulders taut under my hands, and already there’s a trace of humidity and salt in the air between us.  Though I can’t see it, I can feel his hand moving as he strokes himself a few times.  It drives me crazy with heat and I lift my hips in offering.

Wordless, he aligns himself and thrusts inside of me.  I was ready, and he glides in, filling me up, making me sigh again.

“Good to go?” he asks as he pumps a few times.

“Go,” I tell him, pulling his shoulders down closer to me so I get the full heat of his body.

“Going,” he says, picking up the pace quickly.  He props himself on his elbows for more leverage so I release his shoulders and raise my knees, wrapping my legs around his waist.  “Going harder,” he tells me as he pumps more furiously.

I still don’t open my eyes, instead reveling in the physical sensations and conjuring images of what we look like.  Hot.  We look hot.  It feels so good, him jacking away inside me, the heat between us.  Instead of watching, I imagine Nick’s face this way.  I’m fantasizing about him watching me.  I can feel beads of sweat forming at my hairline, I know my mouth tightens and muscles twitch when he suddenly goes harder, quite hard, quite deep.

I moan and then bite my lower lip as he starts panting above me.  I can imagine his face perfectly like this.  His deep blue eyes staring rapt as he makes me react beneath his control.  His well chiseled jaw, his normally serene, unreadable face betraying him now.  There’s no way he’d be able to keep that mask in place as he drives into me with power, as I clench tight around him and thrust back against him.

“Izzy,” he pants.

“Keep going,” I encourage him, but I can tell this late-night round won’t last much longer because he’s straining and panting, giving it to me with all he’s got.  So I take matters into my own hands.  I reach between us, the heat palpable to my hand, and slide a few fingers across my clit.  No fooling around, I press hard and rub furiously, already sensitive and responding.

“So hot,” he says, and I know he’s watching me.  He barely loses a pump but I know he’s watching me work myself into a frenzy beneath him.

God, imagining Nick watching me and getting off on it just prods me along.  Shameless, I’m utterly shameless about it.  I know just what he’d look like, hovering over me, his long, lanky frame, his buttocks clenching with each and every delicious pump.  His face betraying every ripple of intense pleasure.  “Oh,” I moan as I feel him tense, know he’s close.

I’m right on the edge, but I need a little more, just a little more time.  My hand strokes furiously, I buck against him.  “Keep going,” I plead with him.

“Close,” he says, and I know it’s my warning.

“Please.  Please!  Keep going,” I tell him again, setting myself on edge.  “Keep going, Nick!”

“Oh, no,” he grunts, then rasps my name.  Pained sounding, but still frantically pumping.

“Oh Nick!”

“No! Izzy!” he howls again, but his hips thrust, seemingly involuntarily.

“No,” I tell him, but I’m so close now it might not matter.  “Not yet, Nick!  Keep going!”

“Coming.” He says that quietly and the pumping stops, but my hand doesn’t.  Luckily, I’m there.  Just a couple more rough rubs and I erupt, coming with him still buried inside me, clenching around him, the mental image of his face watching me egging me on to milk every last aftershock.

Rapt in the hazy glow, I’m catching my breath as he pulls out and climbs off of me and rolls to the other side of the bed.  A harsh edge to his voice as he says, “You did it again.”

“Mmm?”  I ask distantly, still sprawled out and pleasantly holding my hand to crotch.

Over his shoulder, he hisses, “You said his name again!”

My eyes snap open and the glow evaporates.  Ashamed now, I close my legs and wiggle upright as I arrange the nightgown to hurriedly cover myself up.  Softly, I say, “I’m sorry.”  I reach out a hand but he moves away and sits up and gets off the bed.  He stalks over to the chair in the corner where his clothes are neatly folded and grabs his pants.

“Andy,” I say.  “Don’t go.  I really am sorry.”

“Hmph.  At least you do know my name.”

“Don’t be silly.”

“Silly!” He shouts it.  “You think it’s silly of me to be upset that my girlfriend called another man’s name while we were making love?”

I know he’s pissed, and I don’t blame him.  I feel guilty and deserve his anger.  And I will gladly grovel and make it up to him.  But right now it’s the middle of the night and I just want to defuse the situation, so I try to cajole him and lighten him up.  Coyly asking, “Would you rather I called his name while I was having sex with you?  Or would you rather I call your name while I have sex with him?”

He gives his shirt a snap in the air but doesn’t miss a beat.  Says, “That’s a flawed question, Isabella, and you know it.”

“Why?”

He does stop fiddling with his clothes as he looks at me and says, “It’s flawed because it’s unrealistic.  You can’t sleep with him.”

“I know!” I say cheerily.  “So it’s not like I’m cheating on you.”

Exasperated, “Please,” is all he says as he starts pulling the shirt on.  “I just don’t understand it.  You don’t even know this person.  What could you possibly be so attracted to?”

I know that this is not the place for me to respond honestly.  His tall, lanky body, his penetrating eyes, his beautiful little mouth, but, mostly, how incredibly sexy it is to watch him at the poker tables.  How, with just a glance, he can seemingly see and understand everything the other players are thinking.  And yet, I can never see the machinery in his mind working.  He’s completely unreadable.  Like the most glassy-surfaced lake that plunges to unknown depths.  All that intelligence and intuition are just…

Andy is staring at me, and I wonder if he can tell what I was just thinking about.  He looks cross. “You’re unbelievable,” he says, buttoning up.

Shit.  He could tell.

“Andy, please.  You’re right.  You’re absolutely right.  It was terrible of me and I’m so sorry.  But please don’t leave.  It’s the middle of the night and it’s cold and rainy out there.  Tomorrow is Easter!  Just come back to bed and I’ll make it up to you.”

He picks up his socks and shoes and takes a seat in the chair, but he stops dressing.  Says, “I just don’t even have a fundamental understanding of what you’re attracted to.  You don’t know him, Izzy!”

“I know,” I say with a shrug.  Then, “What attracts you to Jessica Simpson?”

“Stop it,” he says.  “There’s a basic difference between men and women and how we process attraction.  Men are visually stimulated.  Women intellectually.”

“Well, maybe I just have some male tendencies is all,” I say, lying.

“I don’t call out the name Jessica when we’re making love!”

“So you’d prefer I call out the name of someone I know, then?  Perhaps it’d be better if I’d fantasize about one of your friends?”

“Perhaps I’d prefer if you’d fantasize about me and call out my name!”

He’s got me there.  If I wanted to turn this around on him, I could start a real brawl by pointing out that it hasn’t escaped my attention how much attention he lavishes on Jennifer every time she’s around.  I could point out how I’ve caught him being visually stimulated by her while I was sitting right next to him.  But I don’t want to do that, because what I have done is wrong.  It’s not about winning this fight so much as about reassuring him and making it up to him.  I’ve hurt him.  Worse, maybe he’s worried because next week I’m going to Vegas, and there is a small chance I could run into Nick.

Realizing that, I feel even worse, and even somewhat flattered.  Maybe Andy’s just worried and jealous.  But I’d never cheat on him.  I just need to reassure him.  So I bite my tongue and measure my words and say, “Andy.  I am really sorry.  And you’re right about all this.  I promise I’ll stop thinking about him.  But for right now, you don’t need to worry anyhow.  Like you said, I don’t know him, so there’s no chance we’d ever be together.”

“Oh, don’t flatter yourself, Iz.”  With that, he starts pulling on his socks.

“What do you mean?”

“I mean, darling, that even if you did know him, you wouldn’t be sleeping with him.”  He pauses to pull on a shoe, then looks me in the face as he says, “Don’t get your hopes about that trip to Vegas.  Sure, you might meet him.  But remember, men are stimulated visually, Iz.”

I drop my gaze and pull the blanket up to cover myself, twice as ashamed of myself now.  Andy’s right, of course.  That’s why the comment stings.  There’s nothing Nick Nolan would ever see in geeky me.

Across the room, Andy rises, and I realize how badly I’ve screwed up.  He’s a decent, good-looking, smart guy, and I’ve alienated him by not appreciating what I have.  Worse, I’ve hurt him.  “I’m really sorry,” I whisper.

“And do you really have to be so slutty all the time?”

“Sorry,” I say, knowing what he means.

“I know we’re familiar and all, and it’s hot in a pornographic way that you like to get off.  But you’re just so selfish and slutty about it.  It’s pretty off-putting afterward.”

“You woke me up,” I say.

“I woke you up.  You got yourself off, though.”

“Someone had to do it,” I mutter under my breath.

“You know, babe, you should try appreciating me more.  I’m a great guy, Izzy, and I’ve been good to you over the years.”

“I know,” I answer.

“Sweet dreams, Isabelle,” he hisses as he walks out the door.

But that just sparks my anger.  He knows I hate that.  I know I shouldn’t, but I can’t help myself.  “Isabella!” I shout after him, just before the back door slams shut.

I stew in it a minute.  I’m a shit, without question.  But he does oogle Jennifer in front of me. I flop back on the bed and close my eyes and indulge myself with visions of Nick Nolan.  Sweet dreams, indeed.

 

Reprinted with permission from Shuffle Up and Deal by Susan DiPlacido. © 2010 by Neon Fiction

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Talking Books with Cynthia Gail, author of WINTER’S MAGIC

Please welcome my special guest, contemporary romance author, Cynthia Gail. Cynthia is here today to talk about her latest release just in time for Christmas, Winter’s Magic (Book 1 in the Music City Hearts series).
My husband and I live in the suburbs of Nashville, Tennessee with our teenage son and three dogs. Life is busy, but when I have free time, I love to read. A math/science girl at heart and a retail analyst by trade, I never thought I’d be writing romance. But one day, a story popped into my head and I had to write it down. The fantasy, escape, and wonder of just reading multiplied by ten-fold and I couldn’t stop my fingers from typing my own fairy tales.

I hope you enjoy my stories. Each one touches on modern day issues, fears, and challenges that women face every day. And each one illustrates that love is within reach if you let down those walls and allow your heart to open. Our lives and experiences are so much more meaningful when we have someone to share them with.

Cynthia’s latest book is the contemporary romance, Winter’s Magic (Book 1 in the Music City Hearts series).

Visit her website at www.Cynthiagail.com.

Why was writing Winter’s Magic so important to you?

Spring’s Surprise, now book #2 in the Music City Hearts series, was actually the first book I wrote. At the first draft stage, I hired an editor to give me feedback and direction. She suggested I take Beth’s character from book #2, create her own story, and plan a full series. I’d already fallen in love with writing, but the guidance and validation from a professional, award-winning author, stirred a deeper passion and I jumped right in.

What was the experience like writing Winter’s Magic?

It was so exciting to write with a purpose. I’m a planner at heart and I felt like I was finally on a path that I had confidence in. Beth is probably my favorite heroine in the series. She’s a strong woman, she’s worked hard to get where she is, and as a result, runs a successful, elite day spa. But even strong women have vulnerabilities. It’s how we face our weaknesses that counts and I think Beth handles adversity with a lot of grace and fortitude.

Can you tell us more about Beth Sergeant and Nick Chester?

Beth’s parents were middle-class, but found a way to send her to the most prestigious, private high school in Nashville, Tennessee. While the invaluable experience prepared her for college, she never felt as if she fit in.

After losing his parents to a car accident at a young age, Nick Chester was raised by his grandfather, the wealthiest man in Nashville. At the age of thirty, he’s built his own business and experienced enough of life to realize everyone has an agenda.

Despite her deep-seated insecurities, Beth can’t resist Nick’s charm and finally accepts an invitation to dinner. She proves she’s nothing like other women Nick’s dated and she slowly learns to trust him in return. But just as the last of their resistance crumbles and true love is within reach, challenges from Nick’s past threaten to destroy everything and force Beth to reveal her most guarded secret.

Are there any supporting characters we need to know about?

Sara and Jenny are Beth’s two best friends. Spring’s Surprise is Sara’s story and Summer’s Family Affair is Jenny’s.

Can you open to page 25 and tell us what’s happening?

This is the end of a scene where Nick realizes how different Beth is from other women in his circle. Due to his family’s status, he’s constantly pursued by women looking for prestige and money. But Beth isn’t pursuing him and he can tell by her genuine interaction with his grandfather that she’s someone special he simply has to know more about.

What about page 65?

In a previous scene, Beth’s bank calls a surprise audit of her day spa’s construction expenses, based on allegations from an anonymous source. Nick offers to use his grandfather’s influence to get the audit dismissed, but Beth won’t let him. She has nothing to hide and doesn’t want to ‘use’ his connections. In the scene on page 65, Nick’s ex-girlfriend makes a surprise visit to his office. During the conversation, he realizes she’s the anonymous source. Though he’d promised Beth that he wouldn’t interfere, he can’t stop himself, and calls his grandfather.

Now that Winter’s Magic has been published, what’s your next project?

Spring’s Surprise is under contract and expected to release in March or April 2013. I’m just starting to work with the first draft of Summer’s Family Affair and I’m outlining Fall’s Redeeming Grace.

Do you have anything else you’d like to tell our readers?

Christmas is my favorite time of the year. It’s no surprise that my first book had to celebrate the season. I hope you enjoy Winter’s Magic as part of your holiday collection.

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Read-a-Chapter: Deadly Plunge by Greg Messel

Read a Chapter is *NEW* added feature at As the Pages Turn! Here you’ll be able to read the first chapters of books of all genres to see if you like them before you buy them. Today we are featuring the mystery fiction, Deadly Plunge, by Greg Messel. Enjoy!

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  • Paperback: 420 pages
  • Publisher: Sunbreaks Publishing (October 8, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0985485922
  • ISBN-13: 978-0985485924

Former baseball player and newly-minted private investigator, Sam Slater is hired to find out why a rich, politically-well connected San Francisco man, Arthur Bolender,  suddenly ended his life by plunging off of the Golden Gate Bridge. All those who know Arthur say unequivocally that he did not commit suicide.  However, Bolender’s body was found floating in San Francisco Bay and his car was abandoned in the traffic lane of the bridge.  Meanwhile, Sam’s romance with glamorous TWA stewardess Amelia Ryan continues to blossom and deepen. She is now his secret fiancee. Amelia also eagerly helps Sam solve his cases when she’s in town. The key to unraveling the mystery seems to be a strange old Victorian-style house. Bolender’s widow, a rich, seductive socialite named Maggie Bolender, was not even aware that her husband owned the house. What is really going on behind the doors of the mysterious house?  Finding the answers will plunge Sam and Amelia into a dangerous world of political intrigue in the exciting sequel to “Last of the Seals.”

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Chapter One

When a jumper leaps off of the Golden Gate Bridge it takes only four seconds to hit the waters of San Francisco Bay.

From the pedestrian walkway on the iconic bridge there are breath-taking vistas of the beautiful city. The water below looks shimmering and soft.

It is not.

Instead of gently leaping into the hereafter, the jumper dies the same death he or she would suffer if being hit by a fast-moving car.

There is still something deceptively appealing to those who want to escape life’s problems.

A leap over the railing 245 feet above the water will seemingly work magic in a troubled life. In just four seconds financial problems are over. In four seconds a hated spouse vanishes. In four seconds a broken heart will stop hurting. In four seconds all of the problems with a job or an obnoxious boss disappear.

The water of San Francisco Bay is a frigid 47 degrees and the wind can be bone-chilling on most nights.  There are believed to be more suicides at the Golden Gate Bridge than at any other site in the world.

Those who want to end it all even travel long distances to San Francisco to jump off of the Golden Gate Bridge. Rental cars, belonging to suicide victims, have been found in parking lots at the end of the bridge’s span.

The impact of hitting the water is horrendous.  The jumper’s body is falling at a rate of 80 miles per hour when it slams into San Francisco Bay and essentially stops. However, due to inertia, the internal organs keep traveling, tearing loose from the body.

Autopsy results for jumpers commonly show lacerations to the liver, heart, spleen, and aortas. The skeletal structure takes a pounding as well. There are usually broken sternums, pelvises, necks, and skull fractures.

Some have survived jumping off of the Golden Gate Bridge, but not many. Death is almost certain and happens quickly.  Generally, the impact of hitting the water kills the jumper. Occasionally, the jumper is knocked unconscious.

There have been times when the person jumping off of the bridge briefly survives and can be seen flailing around in the water, trying to stay afloat before succumbing to extensive internal bleeding.

Not all jumpers are detected. Some bodies are never found and apparently wash out to sea.

Generally the shattered body of the person plunging off of the bridge is picked up by the Coast Guard and taken to Fort Baker on the shoreline of San Francisco Bay.  It is there that the Marin County Coroner’s office begins tying up loose ends. The body is identified, relatives are notified, and there is an autopsy.

After the body is retrieved, it is placed in a long carrier with handles and covered with a yellow tarp to await the arrival of someone from the coroner’s office. Any personal items are placed on top of the corpse.

On a rainy Monday night in January 1958, Scott Perkins, a young stockbroker was leaving San Francisco, carefully heading across the Golden Gate Bridge to his home in Marin County. Scott had stayed much later at the bachelor party for his friend than he had intended. Tomorrow was a workday and the last thing he needed was to start his Tuesday with no sleep and a hangover.

After work on Monday, Perkins had met a group of friends at a bar on Van Ness for dinner. It was a bachelor party for his co-worker and friend, Michael Smith. But things had gotten out of hand. It was now nearly midnight and he had way too much to drink.

Scott’s hope was to carefully drive over the bridge to the exit near his apartment building without hitting anything or encountering a cop. If either of those things did occur, Scott was undoubtedly on his way to jail.

He was in the home stretch.  Scott slowly navigated his red 1953 Ford through the streets of San Francisco and had successfully found the on-ramp to climb onto the Golden Gate Bridge.

Now all he had to do was to drive straight across the bridge and take the off-ramp near his house, just over a mile into Marin County.

There were very few cars on the Golden Gate Bridge at this late hour on a Monday night. Suddenly, Scott spotted a car in the traffic lane just ahead of him. Struggling with his slow reactions, Scott thought of switching lanes to go around the slow-moving car but for some reason he didn’t.

Then to his horror, Scott realized that the car was stopped in the traffic lane.  He slammed on his brakes.

Scott winced, praying that he had hit his brakes in time. It was going to be close.

He then heard a sickening thud and felt the impact. Scott’s Ford slid on the wet pavement into the back of the giant fins of a 1957 red Chrysler New Yorker.

Hopefully, it was just a fender bender.  Scott glanced over at the nearby lane to make sure there were no cars coming. He bailed out of his Ford and went to survey the damage.

Scott’s Ford had a broken headlight and maybe a small dent in the front bumper.  The back of the Chrysler had more damage. The taillight on the driver’s side of the Chrysler was broken and the large fin was crumpled.

Scott staggered forward to see if the driver of the Chrysler was all right.

Why was this car stopped in the middle of the Golden Gate Bridge? It wasn’t stalled. The engine was still running and the automatic transmission was in park.  He couldn’t see the driver.

In his confused state, he opened the door of the Chrysler. There was no driver. He glanced into the backseat, which was empty. The scene was surreal to Scott Perkins in his altered state. For some reason Scott could hear Connie Francis singing, “Who’s Sorry Now?” Then he realized that the radio was playing and the windshield wipers were running.

Where was the driver?

Scott was sobering up quickly. He was mystified at the abandoned car.

It was then that an explanation occurred to him. He glanced towards the nearby pedestrian walkway and the railing of the Golden Gate Bridge.

The driver had apparently stopped his car and jumped off of the bridge.

Reprinted from Deadly Plunge by Greg Messel. © 2012 by Greenbriar Book Company

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Interview with Kay Marshall Strom, author of ‘The Love of Divena’

Kay Marshall Strom

Kay Marshall Strom is the author of forty published books.  Her writing credits also include numerous magazine articles, short stories, curriculum, stories for children, two prize-winning screenplays, and booklets for writers.  Kay speaks at seminars, retreats, and special events throughout the country.  She and her husband Dan Kline love to travel, and more and more Kay’s writing and speaking take her around the word.

Her latest book is the Christian historical fiction, The Love of Divena.

To find out more about Kay, or for contact information, check her website at www.kaystrom.com.

Visit Kay at Twitter: http://twitter.com/kaysblab

Like Kay at Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=251622274091&id=738699091#!/profile.php?id=738699091

Pick up your copy of The Love of Divena at Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/The-Love-Divena-Blessings-India/dp/1426709102/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1348760002&sr=8-1&keywords=the+love+of+divena

Pick up your copy of The Love of Divena at the publisher’s website: http://abingdonpress.com/forms/ProductDetail.aspx?pid=7312

Q: Thank you for this interview, Kay. Can you tell us what your latest book, The Love of Divena, is all about?

The trilogy centers around an Untouchable family and the high caste landlords who own them. Set in rural India in 1990, this final book tells the story of a little girl abandoned by her father and left on the doorstep of her desperately poor grandmother. Practically every area of the grandmother’s life is bound up in the constraints of society: her outcaste status, her poverty, her religion. But Divena sees the promise of a wider world. The choices she makes rock the world of both families and shake the foundation of an entire culture.

The Love of Divena

The main character of each of the books in the trilogy has a name that means “blessing” in Hindi.  Hence the series title, Blessings in India. Divena, the main character in this book, loves her grandmother dearly, but she cannot accept the older woman’s resigned attitude of “This is how it has always been, and this is how it always will be.”  Adventurous and persistent—also desperate—Divena determines she will change her life.  She does, in ways her grandmother Shridula (book 2) and her great-grandfather Ashish (book 1) never could.

Divena’s grandmother is Shridula, the young mover and shaker of book 2 (The Hope of Shridula). But the years have weighed heavily on her. Trapped by poverty and her low status as a female outcaste, the spark of hope has long since faded away.  When she sees the scrawny waif left on her doorstep, she is overcome by memories. Yet she tells the child, “You did not want to be left in my doorway, and I did not want you left here because I have no money to buy food for you. But here you are, so we will live together.”  When she changes the girl’s name from Anjan (fear) to Divena (Blessing), she has no idea how prophetic that name is.

The other major character is the wealthy, educated young man being groomed to inherit his father’s land—and also his father’s village of bonded servants.  The family is Christian, though that means little to them beyond freedom from Hindu constraints. But the son is a far different person than his father. In his objection to his father’s oppression of the laborers, he is drawn back to his family’s true Christian roots where he finds more than he bargained for.

Q: Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?

Without a doubt, characters are inspired by people I’ve met on my nine trips to India. There really was a little girl abandoned by her father and left on her unsuspecting grandfather’s doorstep.  I think this reality base is important for a book such as this because so many people find it absolutely unbelievable that such oppression and abuses are still around today.

Q: Are you consciously aware of the plot before you begin a novel, or do you discover it as you write?

Yes and yes. I write out a basic chapter outline before I begin, sort of like a map to where I’m going with the book. But as I write, things change.  Some events seem contrived, so I change them.  Or I drop them altogether. Characters get pushy and begin to go their own way, to get themselves into more difficulties than I anticipated.  Thanks to discoveries along the way, I end up with a better book than the one I plotted in the beginning.

Q: Your book is set in South India.  Can you tell us why you chose this place in particular?

Several years ago I had the opportunity to travel throughout Ireland with the advance team of the movie Amazing Grace. Sam Paul, a team member from India, spoke about modern day slavery as it exists there. It is the most prevalent cause of slavery today.  On the last day of our time together as a team, Sam Paul asked me, “Why don’t you write about my people?  We need someone to speak for us. Why don’t you write about us?”  So I did.  I chose to set the story in rural South India because that is an area in which I have spent quite a bit of time and where I know a number of people.

Q: Does the setting play a major part in the development of your story?

Absolutely. Without the setting, there would be no story.  The location—as well as the Indian society in which it is immersed—forms the only world in which the story could exist.

Q: Open the book to page 69.  What is happening?

Oh, good spot!  Sixteen-year-old Divena has spent the past years trudging back and forth from the market with a basket of vegetables from her grandmother’s garden balanced on her head. In blistering heat and in monsoon rain. Lots of work for so few pennies earned.  Beckoned by the sweet fragrance of ripe mangos hanging on a tree, but warned by the tree’s owner not to touch them, Divena proposes a trade: some of her vegetables for a couple of mangos.  The woman drives a hard bargain, but the barter pulls Divena into a much wider world of possibilities. On Page 69, Divena makes her first foray into business.

Q: Can you give us one of your best excerpts?

Little Daniel stood up and scowled at his leaning block tower. “Not good!” he pronounced, and he kicked it over.  Joanna giggled and clapped her little hands.

“Would it not be wonderful if we could solve our problems so easily?” Ramesh asked with a laugh.  “If all of India could?”

Baruch grabbed his son and pulled the child to him. As Daniel squirmed, Joanna climbed onto her father’s lap.  “Here it is, right in my grasp,” Baruch Sundar said as he hugged his children.  “New hope for India.”

Q: Have you suffered from writer’s block and what do you do to get back on track?

I have to say, I don’t believe in writer’s block.  I mean, what happens if a dentist gets dentist’s block?  He gets busy and works on teeth.  When I get writer’s block, I get busy and write.  It helps that I generally have a couple of projects going.  If I’m stuck on one, I work on the other.

Q: What would you do with an extra hour today if you could do anything you wanted?

Mmmmm, what a delightful thought!  I think I would head out to our hot tub/spa and read.

Q: Which already published book do you wish that you had written and why?

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.  I love the way C.S. Lewis wrote a book that works on so many different levels.  Eight-year-olds are transfixed with the tale of talking animals and witches, families read the book together for its moral values, and theology students take entire courses on it.  What a gift to be able to write a book like that!

Q: What kind of advice would you give other fiction authors regarding getting their books out there?

It is a tough field today, with so many books out there. I would say, demonstrate your writing by blogging.  Offer to write guest posts for other bloggers.  Speak wherever you can—at the library, at service clubs, in your church or other associations—and always have your book on hand.  But remember, you must not come across sounding like an advertisement.  Your listeners will be asking, “What’s in this for me?”  What they want to hear from you is, “A wonderfully entertaining story, and even more.  Much, much more.”

Q: Thank you so much for this interview, Kay.  We wish you much success!

Thank you for talking with me.

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