I’m guest blogging at Canadian Lesfic!

Today over at the Canadian Lesfic site, I’m blogging about writing local, the how and why I like to set some of my stories in the Great White North of Canada.

http://canadianlesfic.com/writing-local-by-alyssa-linn-palmer/

When I first started writing fiction seriously, I hardly even considered setting a book in Calgary. Why Calgary when there were so many more fascinating places? Calgary felt dull; it had the wear of the familiar, the everyday. It was the place where I’d grown up, gone to school, and worked. But yet, for this story, nowhere else seemed to work nearly as well. As much as I love the cosmopolitan feel of a city like Paris, or San Francisco, or New York, this story felt like it needed to be home.

Bold Strokes Flash Sale! 20% off Goldie Award finalist Midnight at the Orpheus!

My latest book, Midnight at the Orpheus, is a finalist in Historical Fiction at the Goldie Awards! To celebrate, my publisher (Bold Strokes Books) has put all the finalists (and there are many, many excellent books) on sale for 24hrs only!

Go get 20% off!

MidnightAtTheOrpheusChicago, the Roaring Twenties.

Cecilia Mills is new to town and struggling to survive. Her world is turned upside down when she falls for gangster Franky Greco’s moll Nell Prescott. Working at The Orpheus dance hall thanks to Nell, she becomes known as CeeCee and rubs elbows with gangsters and the city’s elite, and she and Nell hide their affair from Greco.

Patrick Sheridan is fresh out of prison, bent on revenge, with Greco in the crosshairs. He gets a job as CeeCee’s bodyguard, and despite her infatuation with Nell, love blossoms between CeeCee and Sheridan. When Sheridan sees his chance, thanks to a disillusioned cop seeking his own revenge, he must choose where his loyalties lie as CeeCee and Nell are caught in the middle.

You’re losing an hour, but here’s a great read for when the time’s short… and it’s on sale!

BSB_The_Artists_MuseBold Strokes Books is having a promo for Daylight Saving Time, and my novella The Artist’s Muse is a part of it. Thru Sunday evening, select novellas are now only $1.99, a huge savings!

Broke and desperate after her girlfriend leaves her for a man, Colette finds a job as an artist’s model. When she arrives for an interview, she’s surprised to meet a striking young woman, Lise Beauclerc. Her relief at not having to pose for a man turns to infatuation as she observes Lise during their sessions, creating fantasies in her mind during the hours she poses.

Colette has no idea if Lise would return her affections, and when she finally gets up the courage to ask her out, their connection is more than she’d ever hoped for. However, a few days later, Lise introduces her to Marcel, her former fiancé. They seem intimately involved, and Colette is devastated. Will her dreams of Lise be unrequited?

 

Book Review, Giveaway AND Guest Post: In Another Life, by Julie Christine Johnson

In Another LifeJulie Christine Johnson

on Tour March 1-10 with

In Another Life

(Historical Fiction/Contemporary Women’s Fiction/
Fantasy/Romance)
Release date: February 2, 2016
at Sourcebooks
368 pages
ISBN: 978-2954168197
Website | Goodreads

Read the GUEST POST here.

SYNOPSIS

Historian Lia Carrer has finally returned to southern France, determined to rebuild her life after the death of her husband. But instead of finding solace in the region’s quiet hills and medieval ruins, she falls in love with Raoul, a man whose very existence challenges everything she knows about life–and about her husband’s death. As Raoul reveals the story of his past to Lia, she becomes entangled in the echoes of an ancient murder, resulting in a haunting and suspenseful journey that reminds Lia that the dead may not be as far from us as we think. Steeped in the rich history and romantic landscape of the Languedoc region, In Another Life is a story of love that conquers time and the lost loves that haunt us all.

MY REVIEW

This book kept me absolutely intrigued all the way through, wondering at what was real and what was not, and what was going to happen. I read a lot of books, and this one was fascinating. There’s something about the combination of historical fiction, with the touch of the supernatural, that I really enjoy. Rather like the classic Anya Seton novel “Green Darkness” (which also involves a sort of ‘time travel’ in history, and past lives).

Lia’s grief was very well portrayed, and I felt bad for her, and already from the first paragraphs, wanting for things to go well. Of course, they don’t, and the ensuing tangles kept me reading late into the night, wanting to know what happened next.

I’m trying to think of what I could say about the book without giving too much away. The history goes back to Templar times, so it’s quite a range, and I learned a lot about history as well as being entertained by the book. I think readers of books like Outlander, and the aforementioned Green Darkness, would really like this one. I’m already planning to recommend it to several people.

Don’t forget to read the author’s guest post, here, and to scroll down to enter the giveaway (below).

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

In Another Life- Julie Christine Johnson

Photo by Al Bergstein

 

Julie Christine Johnson
is the author of the novels In Another Life
(February 2016, Sourcebooks Landmark)
and The Crows of Beara (September 2017, Ashland Creek Press).
Her short stories and essays have appeared in several journals,
including Emerge Literary Journal, Mud Season Review;
Cirque: A Literary Journal of the North Pacific Rim;
Cobalt, the anthologies Stories for Sendai;
Up, Do: Flash Fiction by Women Writers;
and Three Minus One: Stories of Love and Loss
and featured on the flash fiction podcast, No Extra Words.
She holds undergraduate degrees in French and Psychology
and a Masterís in International Affairs.
A runner, hiker, and wine geek,
Julie makes her home on the Olympic Peninsula of northwest Washington state
with her husband.
In Another Life is her first novel.

***

Visit Julieís website and blog
Follow Julie Christine Johnson on Twitter | on Facebook
Sign up to receive her Newsletter.

***

Global giveaway open to US residents only:
5 participants will each win a print copy of this book.

Be sure to follow each participant on Twitter/Facebook,
for more chances to win

Visit each blogger on the tour:
tweeting about the giveaway everyday
of the Tour will give you 5 extra entries each time!
[just follow the directions on the entry-form]

***

CLICK ON THE BANNER
TO READ REVIEWS, EXCERPT, INTERVIEW, GUEST-POST

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Guest Post: Divine Sparks, by Julie Christine Johnson, author of “In Another Life”

In Another LifeJulie Christine Johnson

on Tour March 1-10 with

In Another Life

(Historical Fiction/Contemporary Women’s Fiction/
Fantasy/Romance)
Release date: February 2, 2016
at Sourcebooks
368 pages
ISBN: 978-2954168197
Website | Goodreads

Divine Sparks
By
Julie Christine Johnson

“Certain bodies… become luminous when heated. Their luminosity disappears after some time, but the capacity of becoming luminous afresh through heat is restored to them by the action of a spark, and also by the action of radium.” ~ Marie Curie

I’d been warned by authors who’ve launched many a book before me that the muse would flee in the weeks and months leading up to and following the release of In Another Life; all my energy would be taken up by the demands of supporting my book virtually and in person. It would need to be nudged along, out of the nest, set free to soar on its own, but I’d need to remain close by, watching, guiding, occasionally letting the book draft behind my lead.

And to be sure, these past weeks have been filled with a busyness bordering on frantic. There’s a sense that no matter what I do, it, it isn’t enough. And then there is a novel I’m on deadline to revise. So I carefully apportion my time and energy, reminding myself to focus, to breathe, not to skip yoga or a hike or making dinner or folding the laundry—the meditative, restorative, ya-ya releasing activities that take me out of mental chaos into the sweet comfort of routine.

One of the unintended consequences of writing/talking about my book’s subject matter, its themes, the research, characters, setting and inspiration, is to be enthralled again by the Cathars, Languedoc, the tangle of history and geography, the wonder of an afterlife that weaves reincarnation with redemption with angels with good and evil and all the layers in-between.

And somewhere in those layers, my imagination, my writer’s soul, continues to work, digging in, excavating, uncovering ideas and holding them in her hand, like tiny embers just waiting for the breath of words to burst into the flame of a story.

In this time, when my attention and energy is as far from the blank page as it’s been since I committed to a writer’s life, a torrent of sparks has burst into the air.  A character has risen—a bit wobbly and unformed, a slip of clay that needs other elements to take solid form—but she is there, complex, a little feverish with her own possibility.

And then came a scribble on scrap paper, an opening line of humor for my upcoming author readings. I pulled my pen away and laughed for a different reason. I’d just released an idea that I may love. A story idea crazywonderfulsparklethisisnutsbutiloveityesyesyes 

The Cathars regarded stars as divine sparks—angels if you will—created by one fallen angel from the crown of another who had dominion over the waters of the earth. From half the crown, the Fallen Angel made the light of the moon and from the other half he created starlight.

Somehow, that starlight-moonlight illuminated the parts of me gone dark in this rushed and anxious and excited time. Though I can’t pull away just yet to follow the tendrils of light, I no longer fear the luminosity will fade. I hold the divine spark in my hands.

CLICK ON THE BANNER
TO READ REVIEWS, EXCERPT, INTERVIEW, GUEST-POST

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Book Review, Giveaway, and Excerpt: Messandrierre, by Angela Wren

MessandrierreAngela Wren

on tour February 23-27 with

Messandrierre

(murder mystery/romance)
Release date: December 8, 2015
at Crooked Cat Publishing Ltd
119 pages
ISBN: 978-1910510759
Website | Goodreads

 

SYNOPSIS

Sacrificing his job in investigation following an incident in Paris, Jacques Forêt has only a matter of weeks to solve a series of mysterious disappearances as a Gendarme in the rural French village of Messandrierre. But, as the number of missing persons rises, his difficult and hectoring boss puts obstacles in his way. Steely and determined, Jacques won’t give up and, when a new Investigating Magistrate is appointed, he becomes the go-to local policeman for all the work on the case. Will he find the perpetrators before his lover, Beth, becomes a victim? Messandrierre – the first in a new crime series featuring investigator, Jacques Forêt.

MY REVIEW

I’ve had a bit of a thing for French  mystery novels (having indulged myself in the books put out by publisher Le French Book, for one), and this is another excellent French mystery, albeit less gory than Frederique Molay’s novels, for which I was thankful. It’s not every day that I want to read about violent, awful, vivid killings.

Forêt is an interesting fellow; he’s a former Paris cop now in a small town, and he seems to be still adjusting. He’s an occasional babysitter for a five-year-old boy who idolizes him, chasing up those who haven’t paid their car tax, and finding stolen bicycles. And then there’s the tourists that keep going missing, which no one seems to notice until a young man disappears and his friend insists that he wouldn’t have. He definitely was an engaging character, and I was intrigued by his previous history with Englishwoman Beth. I’m hoping there will be another book, so that I can find out more.

This book starts quietly, and you think that nothing bad at all could possibly happen in this small French town, where everyone seems to know everyone else. But as more and more evidence comes to light, it’s apparent that not all is what it seems, especially when it comes to the missing tourists.

I’m usually really awful at guessing who the villain(s) is(are), but this one was a little easier than most. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or not. :) But the book is definitely worth reading, even if it was fairly easy to figure out who (although not necessarily the why).

EXCERPT

it begins

I died beneath a clear autumn sky in September, late in September when warm cévenol afternoons drift into cooler than usual evenings before winter steals down from the summit of Mont Aigoual. My shallow grave lies in a field behind an old farmhouse. There was no ceremony to mark my death and no mourners, just a stranger in the darkness spading soil over my body. Only the midnight clouds cried for me as they carried their first sprinkling of snow to the tiny village of Messandrierre. My innocent white coverlet allowing the earth around me to shift and settle unseen and become comfortable again.

september 2007

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Messandrierre Angela Wren

Angela Wren
Having followed a career in Project and Business Change Management, I now work as an Actor and Director at a local theatre. I’ve been writing, in a serious way, for about 5 years. My work in project management has always involved drafting, so writing, in its various forms, has been a significant feature throughout my adult life.
I particularly enjoy the challenge of plotting and planning different genres of work. My short stories vary between contemporary romance, memoir, mystery and historical. I also write comic flash-fiction and have drafted two one-act plays that have been recorded for local radio. The majority of my stories are set in France where I like to spend as much time as possible each year.

***

Visit her website and her blog. Follow her on Facebook, Google +

Connect with her on LinkedIn

Buy the book on Amazon or on Smashwords

***

Global giveaway open internationally:
5 participants will each win a copy of this book:
print or digital for Europe residents
digital otherwise

Be sure to follow each participant on Twitter/Facebook,
for more chances to win

Visit each blogger on the tour:
tweeting about the giveaway everyday
of the Tour will give you 5 extra entries each time!
[just follow the directions on the entry-form]

***

CLICK ON THE BANNER
TO READ OTHER REVIEWS AND EXCERPT

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Romantic Valentine’s Day book sales!

Betting on Love 300 DPIHappy Valentine’s Day!

Bold Strokes Books is having a Valentine’s sale on their website, with 10% all romantic fiction. Check out my motorcycle romance, Betting on Love, there! (use the code LOVE16)

Also, All Romance eBooks is having a sale! 50% off via rebates! Check out all my books there, too.

Book review, excerpt & giveaway: The 6:41 to Paris, by Jean-Philippe Blondel

641to_paris_digital-3-900x1200Jean-Philippe Blondel

on Tour January 25-29 with

The 6:41 to Paris

(fiction)
Release date: December 1, 2015
at New Vessel Press
153 pages
ISBN: 978-1939931269

Website | Goodreads

 

SYNOPSIS

Cecile, a stylish 47-year-old, has spent the weekend visiting her parents in a provincial town southeast of Paris. By early Monday morning, she’s exhausted. These trips back home are always stressful and she settles into a train compartment with an empty seat beside her. But it’s soon occupied by a man she instantly recognizes: Philippe Leduc, with whom she had a passionate affair that ended in her brutal humiliation 30 years ago. In the fraught hour and a half that ensues, their express train hurtles towards the French capital. Cécile and Philippe undertake their own face to face journey—In silence? What could they possibly say to one another?—with the reader gaining entrée to the most private of thoughts. This is a brilliant psychological thriller, a high-wire act of emotions on rails, about past romance, with all its pain and promise.

REVIEW

I’d heard many good things about this book, and I was eager to read it. At first, the switch in point of view confused me, before I realized that we get both Cecile and Philippe’s point of view (though they are not marked). Once I sorted that out, the book flowed smoothly, and I found it to be one I couldn’t put down.

The plot is quite reflective, as memories for both characters are triggered by the appearance of the other. Philippe is quite unhappy in life, at where he has ended up, and how he looks now (as compared to when he was a teenager). Cecile, on the other hand, is at the top of her game, though she too is not entirely satisfied with life. The book progresses with flashbacks for both characters, giving the reader their history, both together and apart, and you begin to feel like you know them, at least in this sliver of time.

I tended to sympathize more with Cecile, as she was wronged by Philippe thirty years ago, but I sympathize with both of them because neither have really gotten over what happened. The book also made me think of my own missteps as a teenager, and how everyone, when growing up, makes mistakes, and hurts others.

This book is thought-provoking, reflective, and somewhat nostalgic, and if you’re in that kind of mood, it’d be perfect.

EXCERPT

No, I had something to do with it, too.
I shouldn’t be disingenuous. I wasn’t the type of girl who had men turning around as I walked by. And I didn’t do anything to encourage them. I preferred wearing baggy clothes and shapeless sweatshirts; guys must’ve thought I spent my weekends sprawled in front of the television. And so they were often pleasantly surprised when I took my clothes off. And discovered that I actually had a figure.

Plus shyness.
No, that’s not it, either. I’ve never thought of myself as shy. It was just I didn’t feel like struggling for hours to impose my taste or my point of view, to defend a particular film or rock band or politician. It all seemed useless. I would look at them, all those strutting peacocks, puffing out their chests and crowing louder than anyone. And sometimes there in the barnyard a few hens would cackle as they pecked around the cocks, and the peahens would spread their feathers, because their song was so horrible; and then there were the graylag geese. Pasionarias who took every subject to heart, and they could easily go up an octave to stand up to the kings of the farm, another way of getting attention, of displaying their charms. And it worked. Men like it when you stand up to them. It arouses their hunting instinct. I wasn’t that kind.
I was worse.
I was one of those girls who are said to have a blank gaze, simply because behind our expressionless masks we hide our true contempt for all the jousting, for all those tinsel princesses and papier-mâché knights in shining armor. And for ourselves, above all. My self-contempt was equal to my disdain for them. A pretty picture.

But it didn’t show, at all.
I know what people said about me in those days. She’s nice. She’s easygoing. Not the sharpest knife in the drawer. Quiet. Reserved. A little empty, maybe. Having said that, you can always count on her.
And in bed, did any of that cross his mind, Philippe Leduc? No. He would only have been thinking about his erection, which he had trouble maintaining. He must have been conjuring images of girls who were flashier than me—famous actresses, rocker chicks in leather pants—and his only aim would have been to stay hard, as long as possible. And to what end? Not for my pleasure, surely, he couldn’t have cared less. Not even for his own. Just out of pride. So he could say, “Sure, I scored.”

Don’t you think we might have missed something then, Philippe?
Because our bodies were a good fit; because there were times you managed to forget your fear, your obsession with performance, because our skin would touch and the tenderness that came from that caress surprised both of us. We didn’t know that life is long, that our alliances would change, and that, anyway, over time we’d lose that urge to boast. We didn’t know we might have been a good match, one of those couples who understand each other intimately, who exchange knowing glances when other people go on and on.
Do you at least remember what it was like afterward?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

portrait de Jean-philippe Blondel

Jean-Philippe Blondel
was born in 1964 in Troyes, France
where he lives as an author and English teacher.
His novel The 6:41 to Paris
has been a bestseller in both France and Germany.

ABOUT THE TRANSLATOR

Alison Anderson is a novelist and translator of literature from French. Among the authors she has translated are JMG Le Clézio, Christian Bobin, Muriel Barbery and Amélie Nothomb. She has lived in Northern California and currently lives in a village in Switzerland.
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***

You can enter the global giveaway here
or on any other book blogs participating in this tour.
Be sure to follow each participant on Twitter/Facebook,
they are listed in the entry form below
.

Visit each blogger on the tour:
tweeting about the giveaway everyday
of the Tour will give you 5 extra entries each time!
[just follow the directions on the entry-form]

Global giveaway open to US residents only:
= 2 participants will each win a print copy of this book.

***

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TO READ OTHER REVIEWS

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