Focus Friday: Strings of Glass


StringsofGlassShadedBy Emily Kimelman

The road crumbled under my feet as I ran up it. There is no road surface strong enough to resist the pull back to dirt in this climate. In Goa, Mother Nature rules.

Blue touched my thigh with his nose, a gentle tap to remind me he was there. Thick jungle lined our path. This hill had the fewest homes on our route. No neighbors to wave a hello to or children to smile at as they raced by on bikes either too large or too small for them. There was just me, Blue, the burst of vegetation, and this road of rocks. I reached the top of the hill, my thighs and calves burned. Panting, I struggled to keep my pace.

A low growl narrowed my attention onto a black and white street dog in the brush. Ears flat to her head she curled her lips and showed us her teeth. Noting the swollen teats hanging low and exposed, I kept moving.  “I’m not going to bother you, mama,” I said in a steady voice. “We are just passing by.”

Blue slowed and when I patted my thigh for him to catch up he stopped. I turned to look back at him, my senses on high alert. Blue was a mutt the height of a Great Dane with the coat of a wolf and the long snout of a Collie, with one blue eye and one brown. Blue has saved my life more than once so when he stopped, so did I. 

I recognized a twitch on his lip and saw the hackles raise off his shoulders and back making him appear even larger. A deep and rumbling growl left his chest. It was answered behind me. There were suddenly three dogs in our path. None as big or strong as Blue but together they looked dangerous.

I’d been warned about this pack. Growing larger by the day, it was led by an aggressive alpha male the color of dirty water. This must be him, I thought, as the largest of the three, his head wide, fur the muddy brown of an engorged river, growled at Blue. The compactness of his body spoke of strength and survival. When he barked the saliva that shot from his mouth caught a ray of sunlight streaming through the thick foliage around us.

Muddy Water stepped forward, revving his growl like a teenager on a motorbike. The bitch in the brush flanked our left side and when I turned right, two young dogs, their ears still soft from puppyhood, glowered at me.

Get Strings of Glass on Amazon.

About Strings of Glass

Sydney Rye is hanging out in India with her boyfriend, Dan, reading paperbacks and sipping beer. No violence and no reminders of her past. But when she and her great dog Blue are attacked by a pack of wild dogs, Sydney starts to feel that old itch again—to do good by being bad.

Trouble finds Rye when she stops the attempted rape and murder of Anita, a reporter working on a story of corruption and child trafficking. The atrocities Anita describes send Sydney, Blue and Dan on a quest that takes them across India after a dangerous and, up until now, untouchable, figure. Sydney struggles to accept her true nature, fearing that she will lose herself, becoming no better than the monster she fights against. But what can Sydney do when she realizes it is the only way to end decades of abuse and exploitation?

Emily Kimelman’s best selling Sydney Rye series feature a strong female protagonist and her canine best friend, Blue. It is recommended for the 18+ who enjoy some violence, don’t mind dirty language, and are up for a dash of sex. Not to mention an awesome mystery with tons of action that will keep you reading late into the night!

About Emily Kimelman

Emily (author photo)Emily Kimelman is the author of the best selling Sydney Rye Series including Unleashed, Death in the Dark, Insatiable, Strings of Glass, The Devil’s Breath and Inviting Fire. This series feature a strong female protagonist and her canine best friend, Blue. It is recommended for the 18+ who enjoy some violence, don’t mind dirty language, and are up for a dash of sex. Not to mention an awesome, rollicking good mystery!

Emily splits her time between the Hudson Valley and traveling the world with her husband and dog, Kinsey (named after Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Milhone), researching exciting locations for the Sydney Rye Series. You can follow along on their adventures through Instagram, Facebook, and on Emily’s blog.

The first book in the Sydney Rye series, Unleashed, is available as a free download on all major ebook retailers.

Emily can be found:

Website   |   Facebook    |   Twitter


Focus Friday: The Author Platform – A Beginner’s Guide


On Sale for 99 cents today!

The Authors Platform ShadedAuthors, creating buzz for your book and your career just got easier.
The Author’s Platform will help you create, understand, and use a powerful author platform to sell your books.

Social Media and WordPress Consultant Barb Drozdowich will steer you through the technology behind book marketing without all the confusing techno-speak. She has helped many authors build an author platform that engages readers and builds sales.
This book will help you decode the mystery behind building a powerful author brand and navigating the social media platforms essential to publishing success.

The Author’s Platform teaches you why you need the various facets of the author platform to build visibility. Barb uses a simple analogy, Operation Book, to help you understand the steps to successful book marketing in the media age.

She covers:
– The difference between a website and a blog
– The important items your blog should contain
– The eleven essential social media platforms
– Newsletters
– Amazon’s Author Central
– …and many more topics!
˃˃˃ Start your journey to publishing success today!

The Author’s Platform: A Beginner’s Guide can be purchased from Amazon


BarbDrozdowichPicSmallerSocial Media and WordPress Consultant Barb Drozdowich has taught in colleges, universities and in the banking industry. More recently, she brings her 15+ years of teaching experience and a deep love of books to help authors develop the social media platform needed to succeed in today’s fast evolving publishing world. She owns Bakerview Consulting and manages the popular blog, Sugarbeat’s Books, where she talks about Romance – mostly Regency.

She is the author of 6 books and 25 YouTube videos all focused on helping authors and bloggers. Barb lives in the mountains of British Columbia with her family.

Barb can be found:

Author Website  |    Business Blog  |   Facebook Author Page

Twitter  |    Google+   |   Pinterest   |   Goodreads 

YouTube Channel

Tech Hints Newsletter

*   *   *


What is an author platform? As the name suggests, your platform is the launch site for all marketing activities. Book buying is a relationship activity, and you need a means to develop relationships with readers and new fans of your work. Since the Internet has brought the world to your doorstep, the process may prove easier than you think.

Do authors need an author platform? I believe they do. Many books have been written on the subject of selling books. Bookshelves, both physical and virtual, are littered with different points of view. Everyone claims they can help you sell a million copies.

What books do you know that have sold a million copies? Are they all examples of great literature? Are the authors in line to win a Pulitzer Prize? No? Then why does a particular book sell so many copies? In many cases, the book simply catches a wave of attention.

Name a book that is hugely popular and you’ve found a book built on relationships. Think about it: the majority of the time, we buy books based on a suggestion from a friend or another trusted source, or we purchase due to word-of-mouth praise or media publicity. You either wanted to see what all the fuss was about or considered reading it to see if it was really that bad!

If you are an indie author, or simply a new author, you need to create buzz about your book. I often refer to the creation and marketing tasks as “Operation Book.” Just think of Operation Book as a strategy game—the authors who learn to play this game the best will sell the highest number of books. Is it really that simple? It can be.

Once you understand the rules, you will play the game like a master. Operation Book works differently for different types of books. However, each book requires:


  • Readers
  • Fans
  • Methods of communication


You’ll notice I didn’t mention great cover art, flawless formatting, the absence of spelling mistakes or other mandatory elements of good publishing. Miss any of these elements and it can count as points against you in Operation Book. But we all know of books that have these issues yet still sell lots of copies. For our purposes, we’ll focus on how to use the author platform as a method of marketing and communication or, in other words, Operation Book.


Focus Friday: Once Upon a [Stolen] Time


By Samreen Ahsan

OneUponAStolenTimeShe is standing in my courtyard. Everything in nature surrounds her—hugs her and is dazzled by her…including me.

Beautiful flowers of every hue and aroma are grown in this majestic garden. My eyes are burning; I’m simultaneously overwhelmed and awed by the colorful oasis. Never have I been so close to nature, to growing things. Her alchemy drives me mad.

She’s gifted me with all the colors, but I painted her with darkness.

As much as I crave feeling the sunlight and the flowers against my skin, I want her touch too. I am cursed and doomed to never experience the beauty of the natural world, for all eternity.

She watches me with extreme hatred in her eyes—her gaze throwing fireballs at me. She doesn’t know I’m already burning, but since she despises me so much, I can’t even dare to come close to her. I want to end this tortuous distance between us—but I was the one who created this hatred in her.

She was a beautiful tender rose—I stole her fragrance, crushed her petals and burned her in hell. If I knew the fire with which I was conflagrating her would come to engulf me—I swear I wouldn’t have done it. Her spell is too strong for me not to fall; her curse is too mighty for me to run away.

Her deadly yet magical existence haunts me, excites me and has thrown me into a pit of deep lust. She is my prisoner, but she doesn’t realize that I’m the one who’s already submitted to her slavery, when I first touched her.

Despite being her captor, I am still her captive.

About Once Upon a [Stolen] Time

All her life, Myra Farrow has been obsessed with medieval castles—and the kings and princes who once inhabited them. Now, wealthy videogame designer Steve Bernard wants her to model for a princess character in his new game. Myra can’t resist his offer, especially when she learns that Steve plans to film inside the mysterious Hue Castle—a cursed, barren, colorless place forbidden to visitors for centuries. But unknown to Myra, her soul is bound to Hue Castle by blood and sorcery. When she enters its doors, she awakens dark powers that will reach through time—stealing her past, torturing her present, and rewriting her future.


Edward Hue, the last of the Hue royal bloodline, has never stood in the sunshine or held a living flower. Cursed from birth to live in darkness and bring death to all he touches, he is at the mercy of his cruel, tyrannical father, who will not rest until he shatters Edward’s soul and makes his son into a diabolical copy of himself. Edward’s one hope is the mysterious woman who haunts his dreams—who will either break his curse and bring him out of the darkness, or destroy him utterly.

For Myra and Edward, past and future collide in a tale of love, obsession, betrayal, and the hope for redemption.

Once Upon a [Stolen] Time publishes on December 1, 2015.

About the author

samreen-ahsanHistory, art and literature are Samreen Ahsan’s passions. She loves digging out information about prophecies, divine miracles and paranormal events that are mentioned in history and holy books, but don’t sound possible in today’s modern world.

She has been into reading and writing since childhood — it cannot happen without imagination, which luckily has no boundaries. Dance and music are also pastimes she enjoys, as well as reading romance fiction. I love to travel and explore historical cities.

Samreen Ahsan lives in Toronto, Canada. A Prayer Series, incorporating A Silent Prayer and A Prayer Heeded, was her first story about paranormal events based on Islamic concepts. Her new work, Once Upon a [Stolen] Time, is her third published novel.

Visit her

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Friday Focus: Ghosts of a Beach Town in Winter



by Kathleen Valentine

(Five digital copies of this book will be given to people who leave a comment.)

The day of the party, while Darby decorates the Pub with orange and black crepe paper streamers and bunches of cornstalks, his friends hold a pumpkin-carving contest down on the beach leaving a mess for the gulls to squabble over. I brew up gallons of spiced cider to serve laced with rum and make up little treats—candies in black net bundles tied with orange ribbons. The pumpkins are hilarious and, with a candle in each, they make festive decorations for the party.

I tease my hair into a seventies-style mass, stroke on gobs of black mascara, and shimmy into my fabulous dress. It fits as though it’s made for me. Looking at myself in the mirror I think I was born in the wrong era. I would have made one heck of a Disco Queen.

I have no idea how many people attend, I’m too busy fixing drinks and trying not to fall off my platform heels. The Geezers all arrive, each of them wearing Groucho Marx-type glasses with an attached nose and mustache, but otherwise dressed as usual. Each of them tell me how beautiful I look. Joel escapes to his writing room at the first opportunity.

It is Turtle who first notices the new reveler when he enters. He nudges Norb, Riley, and Geezer #1, whose name I have learned, is Clay. They all turn and stare for a minute then swivel back around to their drinks.

“Asshole,” Norb mutters.

Even without the half mask covering his eyes, I doubt I would recognize the new guest. At first I think he is the horny roustabout from a few weeks back, but when he gets closer I realize that, though he is tall, the width of his chest, shoulders and arms are the result of padding, not muscles. His head is shaved and his face is further obscured by a huge handlebar mustache that is waxed to points on either end. He wears a tight-fitting, long-sleeved shirt that has tattoos drawn on the sleeves in magic marker. Over it is a muscle shirt with “The Great Hercules” stenciled across it. In one hand he carries a dumbbell made of foam. A few people laugh and he joins one of the tables near the jukebox. He clearly belongs to the bungalow crowd.

“What’s the matter?” I ask as I place a fresh whiskey in front of Turtle.

He shakes his head. “Nothing. Dumb kid probably saw one of the posters in the arcade and copied it. Probably don’t know nothing about it. No harm done.”

Norb snorts and raises his glass but says nothing.

“Was The Great Hercules a local?” I ask.

Riley reaches across the bar and pats my hand. “It was a long-time ago, honey bunch, long before you was born. Don’t pay these guys no mind.”

I wait for more but no one says a word as customers line up for drinks.

By midnight the crowd is fully inebriated and I’m afraid they’re going to stay all night. When I ring the bell for last call Darby—whose hair is dyed red and is wearing a painter’s smock, a straw hat with one side of his head bandaged, and carrying a painting of a sunflower—jumps up and begins cleaning up the tables and bar.

“Drink up,” he says as he passes the last cocktails, “everybody out. It’s All Saints Day tomorrow, I know you don’t want to miss Mass.”

Darby always makes me laugh.

Buy from Amazon

About Ghosts of a Beach Town in Winter:

Psychological horror / suspense / ghost story – When Layla’s professor husband has an opportunity to spend the winter at an old motel in a seaside amusement park resort, she reluctantly agrees to run the pub attached to it while he works on his book. The arcades, food stands, souvenir shops and tattoo parlors are boarded over for the winter but the bungalows tucked in the dunes are occupied by artists and transients looking for cheap rentals. She faces a long, cold, lonely winter but a bunch of old guys she calls The Geezers soon begin regaling her with stories about the “old days” and about an ill-fated romance between the beautiful wife of a Boston mob boss and The Great Hercules, a sideshow strongman. She is also increasingly fascinated by an elusive roustabout who flirts with her and shows her the secret spaces in an old beachfront ballroom. As winter gets darker and deeper Layla’s husband is both struggling with his writing and becoming suspicious of her behavior. What Layla doesn’t know is that nothing is what it seems and her options are growing fewer every day.

Buy from Amazon

About the Author

KV-300pxKathleen Valentine is the award-winning author of four novels, many novellas & short stories, books of knitting patterns, & a cookbook/memoir about growing up Pennsylvania Dutch. She has been listed as an Amazon Top Selling Author in Horror and in Mystery/Suspense. As a writer her primary interest is delving into the psychology of her characters. Her stories are sometimes mysterious, sometimes funny, usually romantic, and frequently frightening. Her characters range from lost children and grumpy old folks, to mysterious men and women who are not to be trifled with. She lives in Gloucester, Massachusetts, America’s oldest seaport.

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Focus Friday: The Opposite of Hate


By Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar

OppositeOfHateCoverChapter One

October 1973

Luang Prabang, Laos

The scent of the Mekong River, wet earth and water, permeated the air. Dampness, like a blanket, folded around them, as the final weeks of the monsoon lingered in the air. Purple clouds of dusk populated the sky. The watchers below stretched their necks, hoping to hasten the moment when the moon would hang like a jackfruit over them, impervious to the hustle of human bodies gathered for the Lai Hua Fai festival. Only when the moon appeared could their boats set sail and signal the end of the monks’ three-month retreat, or Buddhist Lent. All along the shore, fathers prepared to light fireboats fashioned from banana stalks and leaves to send across the river while children hopped from one foot to another in anticipation of how far theirs would travel on the glass-like surface of the water. Mothers hung back, nestled on logs and blankets, putting the final touches on spicy papaya salad and sticky rice for when the stomachs of their family members would remind them of the lateness of the hour. The biggest and boldest boats would launch first under the glow of the full moon. Older children were instructed in technique. Elders, grandparents, aunties, and unmarried uncles watched with one eye for those too eager with the match or careless with the wicks, their ears attuned to the latest gossip from friends and relatives. Qui, Sengchanh’s wife, held the boat he had bought from one of the stalls.

The banana stalk boat hung in her loose grip on top of her distended belly. Qui’s hair was knotted into a bun at the nape of her neck. This time next year, they too would have a pudgy-fingered toddler reaching for a boat, a vessel Sengchanh would whittle for this long awaited firstborn. A boy, impatient for full dark and the moment when hundreds of boats would set sail across the Mekong, taking away bad luck and bringing in the good, like all the other boys up and down the shore, their parents catching on to the excitement.

For now, Sengchanh was content at the sight of Qui’s cheeks, flushed from the breeze, the color returning to her skin, hinting at the vigor of the woman she had been before.

“Now can I?” she asked, like one of the dozens of children eyeing the river, for the umpteenth time since they had arrived to the embankment. “Seng?”

He laughed. “No, we have to wait for the moon,” he said. He pointed at the visible edge of the orange-rimmed sinking sun.

They sat down again on bamboo stools near the makeshift eatery, recently established for the occasion. A balding street vendor in a grease-stained apron called out the names of meats as they were grilled. Seng signaled for a cup of rice wine and a young boy with longish hair ran one over to him. He pulled out a few hundred kip for a Green Spot, the Lao soda, for Qui. A few paces away the transaction was monitored by the wide-eyed stares of two children who bore a striking resemblance to each other. There were no adults around them, and from their worn shirts and shoeless feet, Seng wondered if there were any.

About The Opposite of Hate

During the 1960s and 70s, more bombs were dropped on a landlocked part of Southeast Asia than in any other war – and it wasn’t Vietnam. The turbulent history of the Land of a Thousand Elephants, the Kingdom of Laos, is the backdrop for this family saga, told as a historical novel. The Opposite of Hate opens a window onto a forgotten corner of Southeast Asia and brings little known history to life through vivid characters and settings which explore the cultural heritage of Lao history.

The Opposite of Hate explores the intersections of family, loyalty, and nationalism as Vientiane, the capital of Laos, is being taken over by Communists. The political instability drives Seng, a widowed engineer, to marry his best friend’s teenage daughter, Neela, so they can escape re-education or even worse, death. The unlikely husband and wife cross the Mekong River into Thailand as strangers.

Life in the refugee camp brings surprises along with the grime. As they struggle for survival, romances blossoms into an unplanned pregnancy. Seng and Neela get their wish of immigrating to the United States. Succeeding in suburbia, however, presents another unique set of challenges, ones that are not black and white.

This is a tale of intermingled violence, love and ambition.

Seng and Neela embody the historic cultural struggle of thousands who fled the threats of communism only to face the challenges of democracy.

About the author

Mohana.Family.July2014-LR-72Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar is a South Asian American who has lived in Qatar since 2005. Moving to the Arabian Desert was fortuitous in many ways since this is where she met her husband, had a baby, and made the transition from writing as a hobby to a full time passion.

Her work has been published in Variety Arabia, Brownbook Middle East, Isola Magazine, AudioFile Magazine, and Society Magazine, as well as Explore Qatar, Woman Today, The Woman, Writers and Artists Yearbook, QatarClick, and Qatar Explorer. She has been a guest on Expat Radio, and was the host for two seasons of the Cover to Cover book show on Qatar Foundation Radio. She was the Associate Editor of Vox, a fashion and lifestyle magazine.

In addition to print titles, Mohana has published five e-books including a mom-ior for first time mothers, Mommy But Still Me, a guide for aspiring writers, So You Want to Sell a Million Copies, a short story collection, Coloured and Other Stories, and a novel about women’s friendships, Saving Peace, which was a semi-finalist in the Literary category of the 2012 Kindle Review of Books.

 Visit her:



Focus Friday: Bone Hook


By Toby Neal


The latest Lei Crime novel will publish on November 10. It’s available now for pre-order on Amazon.

Chapter 1

Body retrieval in ninety feet of open ocean wasn’t for sissies. Sergeant Leilani Texeira hoped she was up to the task as she stood with her longtime partner, Pono Kaihale, on the deck of the heavy Coast Guard Zodiac while it sliced its way across the ocean toward Molokini, a tiny half-moon-shaped atoll off the coast of Maui. A Maui Police Department ball cap pulled low and tight kept the hair out of her eyes, and in spite of their urgent task, Lei enjoyed the smack of the gusty breeze on her cheeks.

“Got to keep an eye out for whales.” Pono scanned the horizon through his trademark Oakleys, worn so constantly they’d made grooves in the brown flesh above his ears. The water around them was the deep blue of lapis, streaked with whitecaps. Both of them watched for whale spouts, scanning the horizon. “We could run into one at this speed.”

Pono’s `aumakua, or ancestral guardian, was the humpback whale. Lei knew he worried about the many boats crisscrossing Maui’s warm waters between November and May, where the whales were calving and breeding.

They soon reached the shallow, sheltered bay of the atoll, a popular snorkeling and diving destination for the tourist industry. The Zodiac drew abreast of a snorkeling charter vessel that had called in the discovery of a body.

It took only moments for the snorkel boat, a big catamaran, to throw a line to the Zodiac so they could side-tie the two boats together. The Coast Guard officers went aboard the catamaran first, Lei and Pono following. Tourists, various degrees of sunburned, clustered in anxious knots watching as the captain approached them, a deeply-tanned young man in a blue polo shirt that read Hokua on the pocket.

“Hey. Pretty great response time.”

“Thanks to the Coast Guard. Took us longer to get through the Kahului traffic than it did to get out here,” Pono said.

“We need to totally clear the bay here to secure the scene.” Lei spoke to the Coast Guardman standing beside her, whose name she’d heard but missed. She introduced herself and Pono to the Hokua’s captain. “Got somewhere private where you can tell us about the discovery?”

“Yes.” The captain led them up a metal ladder to his bridge above the main cabin. “So we took some snorkelers out in a batch and a smaller group of scuba divers. The scuba divers found the body wedged between some rocks at about ninety feet. We could tell it was a homicide.”

“How did you know?” Lei asked.

“Had a spear sticking out of her back,” the captain said flatly.

About Bone Hook

Toby Neal, bestselling author of Hawaii mystery Torch Ginger

Toby Neal

Maui’s ocean is beautiful, wild… and deadly.
It’s been five years since the events of Rip Tides, and Sergeant Lei Texeira gets into hot water much deeper than she’s used to at a crime scene ninety feet down off of the tiny atoll of Molokini, where the death of beautiful marine biologist Danielle “Lani” Phillips is anything but an accident. More suspects than a school of sharks circle a case that takes Lei into territory that hits dangerously close to home, even as husband Michael Stevens heads into his own uncharted depths.