Tag Archives: humor

Author Showcase – Rebecca Chastain (Madison Fox Urban Fantasy Series)

Reading Order

1. A Fistful of Evil

Madison Fox just learned that her ability to see souls is more than a sight: It’s a weapon for fighting evil. The only problem is she doesn’t have a clue what she’s doing.

On the positive side, her money problems are over and her coworker is smoking hot. On the negative side, evil creatures now actively hunt her, and deadly experiences are becoming the norm.

When she thinks it couldn’t get worse, a powerful evil sets up shop at a local hotel’s video game convention, and it’s got its eye on more than the gaming geeks—it’s hungry for Madison’s soul. Madison needs to become an expert illuminant enforcer overnight to save her job, her region…and her life.

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2. A Fistful of Fire

 

Madison Fox survived her first week as California’s newest illuminant enforcer, but if her grumpy boss, Mr. Pitt, was impressed, he hasn’t told Madison. In fact, there’s a lot her boss has been closemouthed about, including the dark secret haunting his past.

But Madison’s problems are just igniting. Neighboring regions report an uncharacteristic flare-up of evil, fire-breathing salamanders blaze unchecked across the city, and Black Friday looms. Trapped doing cleanup amid mobs of holiday shoppers, Madison watches from the sidelines as dubious allies insinuate themselves in her region.

As suspicions kindle and the mysterious evil gains strength, Madison must determine who she can trust—and whose rules to follow—before her region and career go up in flames.

 

 

 

2.5 A Fistful of Flirtation 

Madison finally gets her date with Dr. Love—and if they had picked any other restaurant, she might have had a chance of enjoying it, too . . .

~~ NOTE TO READERS  (From Rebecca) ~~

If you have not read A Fistful of Evil and A Fistful of Fire, this novelette will include SPOILERS. Catch up on the series first so you don’t miss out! 

A Fistful of Flirtation will be available to readers who sign up for my VIP newsletter http://www.rebeccachastain.com/newsletter/

 

 

3. A Fistful of Frost

Madison’s job—and soul—are on thin ice.

Madison Fox is determined to reform Jamie, her half-evil pooka, but the bond linking her to Jamie works both ways. Already, it has manipulated her into bending the rules. If she continues down this path, she could doom her soul. Since her judgment can’t be trusted, a high-ranking inspector now dictates Madison’s every interaction with Jamie, and each directive drives them further apart. 

Unfortunately, Madison has bigger issues than the potential degradation of her soul. Winter has struck with a vengeance. Frost moths plague the entire state, reinforcing the artificially frigid temperature. Worse, cold-blooded, soul-stealing enemies are flocking into her region from the north—creatures Madison has little defense against. 

With the inspector scrutinizing her every misstep, Madison is in for the battle of her life. If she hopes to survive, she must make an impossible choice: save herself and her region or save Jamie.

An imaginative urban fantasy filled with heart, humor, and plenty of butt-kicking action—A Fistful of Frost is a book you won’t want to miss.

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I expected the inspector to look like an Army Ranger, tall, muscular, and radiating an “I could kill you if I wanted to” vibe. The woman who stepped from the car shattered my assumptions. Midfifties, petite, and pale, with a slash of bright auburn in her chin-length white-blond hair, Inspector Pamela Hennessey didn’t look authoritative until her assessing gaze landed on me. Then I fought not to squirm.

“Madison Fox and the pooka Jamie,” she said, not quite a greeting and not a question. It would have sounded rude if not delivered in her posh British accent. “I’ve heard a lot about you.”

“All good, I hope,” I quipped.

She eyed me up and down, giving me a noncommittal, “Mmm.”

My smile froze at the corners.

Rose climbed from the driver’s seat and shut the car door with more force than necessary. The Latina empath gave me a curt nod, as if we were strangers and not coworkers and friends. What the hell? I stopped pretending to smile. Jamie shifted closer, brushing his gloved hand against mine, worry crinkling his eyebrows as he read the tension of the group. I gave him a shoulder bump to reassure him, pretending to be relaxed. Pamela’s gaze snapped from our touching hands to our shoulders to our faces, and I fought the urge to leap away from Jamie as if I were doing something wrong.

“Give me a net and let’s get your purity test out of the way, Madison,” the inspector said.

“Pardon me?” Wasn’t a purity test a medieval way to judge a woman’s virginity? Not only had that ship long since sailed, but I also didn’t see how it would be relevant—or anyone’s business. I checked Brad’s neutral expression. Did details about my sex life fall under the impress her or don’t embarrass me category?

The inspector rounded on Brad, wispy-fine hair flaring on either side of her pink headband earmuffs. “She doesn’t know what a purity test is? You haven’t tested her once in the last five days?”

“Madison’s purity has never been in question.”

A warning frizzled down my spine at Brad’s bland tone. She’d put him on the defense. I glanced to Rose for a clue, but she only grimaced and looked away.

“Don’t let your recent victories make you arrogant, Brad,” Pamela said. “Of course her purity is in question. She’s bonded to a pooka.”

Aha! This wasn’t about virginity; this was about Jamie’s dual nature and the metaphysical bond he’d placed on me. I’d been warned—repeatedly—to be careful of Jamie’s darker half; more than one bonded enforcer had been corrupted by a pooka’s morally ambiguous influence. No one had mentioned purity tests.

“This is to see if Jamie has . . . changed me?” I asked, choosing my words carefully in deference to Jamie. Nothing in his expression said he took offense to the insinuation that our link might have tainted me. He saw nothing wrong with wielding atrum as readily as lux lucis, and if I failed a purity test, it’d probably make him happy.

“Changed you?” Pamela echoed. “No. I need to know if the pooka’s bond has sullied you.”

So much for being tactful. I peeked sideways at Jamie, but he hadn’t reacted, his gaze focused beyond Pamela on the people walking by.

“Is there a problem?” the inspector asked.

“No. Of course not, but, Inspector Hennessey—” I shot Brad a desperate look.

“Call me Pamela. Never Pam.”

“Got it. Um, Pamela—”

“She doesn’t know how to make a net,” Brad said for me.

“Why not?” Pamela demanded, spinning to confront my boss again, the hem of her wool coat flaring to reveal the calves of her pale leather boots.

“I haven’t had the luxury of instituting a methodical training regimen with Madison.”

“Mmm,” Pamela said.

I was starting to hate that noise.

“And if she encountered a frost moth?” she asked.

“She has a lighter.”

One I’d purchased this afternoon at Brad’s insistence. Shaped like a small blowtorch, with a trigger to ignite the flame, it was the fanciest lighter I’d ever owned. It also had the distinction of being the only lighter I’d ever purchased with the intention of using as a weapon—or at least I thought that was the plan. I pressed my lips together. Now wouldn’t be a good time to confess that after reading Val’s entry on sjel tyver, I’d completely forgotten to ask the handbook about frost moths—what they looked like, where to find them, or how to kill them.

“I can instruct Madison on nets now,” Brad offered.

The inspector shook her head. “Let’s get the inquisition out of the way.”

The what?

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Buy books 1,2, and 3 today: 

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REBECCA CHASTAIN is the USA Today bestselling author of the Madison Fox urban fantasy series and the Gargoyle Guardian Chronicles fantasy trilogy, among other worksInside her novels, you’ll find spellbinding adventures packed with supernatural creatures, thrilling action, heartwarming characters (human and otherwise), and more than a little humor. Rebecca lives in Northern California with her charming husband and two bossy cats.

Website: http://www.rebeccachastain.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/rebeccachastainnovels
Twitter: @Author_Rebecca or https://twitter.com/Author_Rebecca
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5660379.Rebecca_Chastain

 

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Author Showcase – Anna Durand (Hot Scots series)

~~ BUY ALL THREE BOOKS TODAY ~~

When American girls collide with hot Highlanders, sparks fly. Take off on romantic adventures full of steam, humor, and heart — and get whisked away to Chicago, New Orleans, the wilds of Michigan, and the ruggedly stunning Highlands of Scotland.

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~~ BOOK ONE ~~

A feisty American. A hot Scot. Passion ignites.

Good-girl Erica Teague is out on bail, charged with a crime her ex-lover committed. A lifetime of sticking to the rules has left her broke, burned, and facing a trial and certain conviction, thanks to the evidence planted by her trust-funder ex. Desperate to experience one wild night of sizzling sex before her freedom is torn away from her, Erica heads to a notorious night club in search of a one-night stand — where a case of mistaken identity lands her in the arms of a hot Scot with a secret past.

The passion igniting between them is explosive, but Lachlan MacTaggart wants nothing to do with relationships or commitment. When he offers Erica one month of sex and companionship with no strings, she can’t resist succumbing to her electric lust for the Scotsman. Soon, though, Erica’s ex begins harassing her and Lachlan’s haunted past catches up with him. When their hot fling gets personal, the last thing either of them wanted may become the one thing that frees their imprisoned hearts.

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~~ BOOK TWO~~

An even feistier American. A wickedly hot Scot. Passion ignites.

Calli Douglas has avoided romance for five years, bound by a promise she never should’ve made to a man she doesn’t love. Now, he refuses to let her go. When she leaves her backwoods hideaway to attend her cousin’s wedding, Calli has no intention of meeting a man. But fate has other plans–in the form of one scorching-hot Scotsman.

Aidan “Don Juan” MacTaggart is the living embodiment of carnal pleasure and seductive prowess, but he longs for love and commitment. The moment he sets eyes on Calli, the stunning American captivates him. Though she’s sworn off sex and romance, unraveling the mystery of why tantalizes Aidan almost as much as her sensual curves.

As their passion for each other inspires them to explore their naughtiest desires, a deeper bond takes root. But when secrets from both their pasts threaten their happiness, they must confront their fears or lose everything.

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~~ BOOK THREE ~~

A free-spirited American. An uptight hot Scot. When passion ignites, no rules can survive the heat.

An office drudge by day, a free spirit by night… For Emery Granger, getting laid off from her job as a computer programmer liberated her from imprisonment in an office cubicle. The problem? Now she has no career and almost no money. Desperate to forget her quandary for one weekend, she takes off on a spontaneous trip to New Orleans — where the unconventional American collides with a sizzling-hot Scot.

Uptight lawyer by day, steamy seducer by night… After surviving three disastrous failed marriages, Rory MacTaggart has no desire to get entangled in another relationship. But with his two brothers now living in wedded bliss, he’s enduring the well-meaning pestering of his entire family. Rory’s solution? Get himself a trophy wife.

A one-night stand in New Orleans leads to a strange proposal, but Rory’s ordered life skids off the rails when his trouble-free marriage of convenience catches fire. The reluctant husband may just have met his match in the passionate, adventurous wife he swore he could never love.

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Gift-Wrapped in a Kilt: A Hot Scots Christmas Tale (book 4)

Here’s a sneak peek at the newest addition to the series, coming in November 2018!

 

My name is Emery MacTaggart, and I’m the newest member of the American Wives Club, three girls from the U.S. of A. who each married one of the hot-Scot MacTaggart brothers. I want to tell you a story. It’s about two people who believed nothing could save their love. But they’re wrong, and I’ve resolved to prove it. They are my family, after all, and I fight for the ones I love — even if it means meddling.

Ex-Marine Gavin Douglas first met Jamie MacTaggart when his sister hooked up with her brother. Though Gavin loves Jamie with all his heart, the past has reared up to haunt him once more. He’d thought he was over the pain of his divorce, but when he decides to propose to Jamie….Well, things don’t go as planned. His stupid mouth won’t let him speak the right words. And before he knows what’s happened, Jamie has dumped him.

Jamie MacTaggart didn’t want to break up with the only man she’s ever loved. After more than a year of intercontinental romance, though, she needs a commitment — not a credit card to earn her mileage points every time she flies to America to visit Gavin. But that’s what he gave her. Not a ring, a credit card. Heartbroken, she cuts Gavin out of her life — which is harder than it sounds, what with his sister married to her brother.

Led by Emery, the MacTaggart clan embarks on a well-meaning, if misguided, effort to bring the erstwhile lovers back together by any means necessary — and in time for Christmas. Will they succeed? Or will their meddling push Jamie and Gavin further apart?

(Links unavailable at this time)

 

 

Anna Durand

Anna Durand is an award-winning, bestselling author of sizzling romances, including the Hot Scots series. She loves writing about spunky heroines and hunky heroes, in settings as diverse as modern Chicago and the fairy realm. Making use of her master’s in library science, she owns a cataloging services company that caters to indie authors and publishers. In her free time, you’ll find her binge-listening to audiobooks, playing with puppies, or crafting jewelry. She’s also a member of Romance Writers of American and its Published Authors Network.

Check out the Upcoming Books page for information on what she’s working on now and subscribe to her newsletter for regular updates.

Find me on:

Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Goodreads ~ Pinterest ~ Google+ ~ Amazon

 

2017 Readers’ Favorite Book Awards

Dangerous in a Kilt, honorable mention

2017 National Readers’ Choice Awards

Dangerous in a Kilt, 1st place

2017 Sexy Scribbles Contest

Dangerous in a Kilt, 2nd place

Fired Up, semifinalist

2016 International Digital Awards

Reborn to Avenge, fifth place

2016 Readers’ Choice Awards (The Romance Reviews)

Tempted by a Kiss, finalist

Intuition, nominee

2016 Great Beginnings Contest

Dangerous in a Kilt, 1st place

2015 Melody of Love Contest

The Mortal Falls, 1st place

Fired Up, 2nd place

2015 Hot Prospects Contest

The Mortal Falls, 3rd place

2015 Emerald City Opener Contest

Fired Up, 3rd place

2015 Diamonds in the Desert Contest

Intuition, 2nd place

2015 Beacon Contest

Fired Up, 1st place

2014 Heartbeat Contest

Intuition, 1st place

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Author Showcase / Interview – Patricia Panahi (Veil of Walls)

Welcome, Patricia Panahi!

 

  1. For those who might not be familiar with you, would you be a dear and tell the readers a little about yourself? How did you get your start in the writing business?

(Patricia) Originally from Massachusetts, I moved to Iran at the age of nine. I later returned to the States and completed my graduate work at San Diego State University. I have taught English in Iran, California, and Hawaii, owned and operated The Light Spot Bookstore and Coffee House in San Diego, and directed English language programs for international students for the University of Hawaii. Due to the many misconceptions about Iran and Iranians, and considering my direct experience and knowledge of the people and their culture, I decided to begin my writing career with a novel that portrayed them in a more realistic light.

 

 

  1. All writers fear the dreaded “block”. Please tell us how you handle it.

(Patricia) I began my writing career late in life and have not experienced writers block to date. If I don’t feel inspired, I just wait until inspiration comes.

 

 

 

  1. Will you please share with the visitors what genre(s) you write? Also, when you’re not writing, how to do you spend your time?

(Patricia)  I write literary fiction and non-fiction books. I am also retired and live in Hawaii, enjoying the beautiful nature, yoga classes, good friends and good books.

(Kam) I’ve been to Hawaii only once (so far). It’s absolutely gorgeous and the people are very friendly. 

 

 

  1. I know many writers, such as myself, keep their pastime/career a secret. Do those close to you know you write? If so, what are their thoughts?

(Patricia) Everyone who knows me, also knows that I write and completely supports me. I have done local presentations and book signings that were well attended.

 

 

      5. Will you share with us your all time favorite authors? If you’re like me, it’s a long list so give us  your top ten. 

(Patricia) 

  • Deborah Harkness
  • Marion Zimmer Bradley
  • Katherine Howe
  • Arthur Golden
  • Anne Rice
  • Amy Tan
  • Alice Hoffman
  • Barbara Kingsolver
  • Richard Bach
  • Michael Cunningham

(Kam) Thank you for the list. You’ve gave me (us) some new authors to possibly fall in love with. 

 

 

 

  1. If you could choose one book to go to the big screen, yours or otherwise, which book would you choose and whom would you love see casted in the parts?

(Patricia) I would love Veil of Walls to go to the big screen. No preference on actors.

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  1. Would you care to tell us what you’re working on now? That is if it’s not top-secret information. If so, just whisper it in my ear. I swear it’ll go no further.

(Patricia) The Nature of Love, a novel tells the story of five Iranians whose lives intersect as they learn about love and life during the tumultuous 2009 Iranian election protests.

 

 

  1. Where can we find your stories and is there a particular reading order?

(Patricia) I have a novel and a nonfiction book on Amazon.

Veil of Walls, the struggles of an American girl who visits her father’s relatives in Iran and not permitted to return home.

God Outside the Box – a spiritual memoir.

If you liked Eat, Pray, Love, The Celestine Prophecy, or The Way of the 
Peaceful Warrior, you will likely enjoy this true story of a journey to spiritual awakening.
 
An ordinary woman finds extraordinary potential within herself in this narrative of spiritual awakening and exploration.

Born to a New Jersey Catholic mother and an Iranian Muslim father, author Patricia Panahi was never quite sure exactly who she was from the very beginning. This early confusion would lead her on a rollercoaster ride of a spiritual journey for years to come – an amazing journey chronicled in her inspirational new book, God Outside the Box: A Story of Breaking Free (published by AuthorHouse).

After exploring a variety of religions and traditions, Panahi discovers that none of them truly “speak to her soul.” She begins to question if there really is a God at all and, finding no answers to satisfy her, becomes an agnostic. But at 28 years old, Panahi’s world is rocked by a surprising diagnosis: cancer. Feeling lost, alone and afraid, groping through the dark with a weak-willed Persian husband and without a religion or solid tradition to turn to, she begins the search for a spirituality that would fill the large and heartbreaking void.

At 32, Panahi’s painful childhood memories – her mother’s abandonment and her forced relocation to her father’s country – resurface. She is able to heal and find inner peace, but discovers that her “journey of transformation” has only begun when she makes contact with her inner voice and begins to experience extrasensory perceptions. It is after a particularly vivid dream that Panahi opens The Light Spot Bookstore and Coffeehouse, where her spiritual search continues with the help of the many fascinating people who come through its door.

As her spirituality grows, so does the gap between Panahi and her husband. Her inner voice and visions call her to move to Hawaii, where two years later she meets and marries her “true soul mate” and begins a new life. Her happiness is challenged quickly, however, when she is suddenly afflicted with Bell’s Palsy – a paralysis of one side of the face – in 2002. As traumatic as this experience is, it finally leads her to face her doubts and fears while fully committing herself to her spiritual path and purpose in life. Firmly rooted and happy, her life is shaken up once again when she receives the call to let go of her secure career as a university faculty member and become a writer.

Today, this move still terrifies Panahi, but she feels that she has made peace overall with her new calling. “A spiritual life is not about complacency and comfort and self-satisfaction,” she says, “but the ability to accept and flow with change.”

It is Panahi’s hope that her readers of God Outside the Box will “gain a new understanding of their own search for answers” as she unveils “universal truths and discovers a rich spiritual path that crosses the boundaries of culture, tradition and belief.”

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  1. Would you please share how your present and future fans can contact you?

(Patricia) Facebook / Twitter / Website 

 

 

  1. Before we conclude this enlightening interview, do you have anything else you’d like to share? The stage is all yours.

(Patricia) I hope my first novel, Veil of Walls, can provide readers with a new perspective of a country and a people.

 

Anahita Sadeghi, a typical, happy-go-lucky American ten-year-old, was not too keen on traveling to the other side of the world to meet her father’s family. But her month-long vacation turns into a nightmare when her Persian relatives refuse to let her return to the States.

She is forced to deal with the dizzying maze of social customs, resist her grandmother’s efforts to mold her into the proper Persian girl, dodge her aunt’s schemes of marriage, and fight to make her own life choices until she can find a way to return home. Longing for her friends and her freedom, only the enigma of her missing aunt, Scheherezade, gives Ana a glimmer of hope of one day escaping Iran for good.

Will Ana’s family marry her off and forever bind her to this country, or will she break free of Iran’s walls and find her way back to America?

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Chapter One

The blue Aerogram with its scribbles of Dad’s native language lay open on the breakfast table like an ancient spell. It was 1962, a nippy New England morning just like any other in the snow season; snug in our thick winter robes over a Sunday feast of johnnycakes, corned beef hash, fried eggs and the rich aromas of percolating coffee and hot cocoa, my parents dropped a bombshell – we were going to Iran. Just for a month, they said. In March – for the Persian holidays. A surgeon at St. John’s Hospital in Lowell, Dad rarely took more than a week off, but the Shah of Iran was abolishing the feudal landlord system – whatever that meant – and my father had been summoned home on family business.

I was ten and not too keen on traveling across the globe to meet a slew of strangers, so I whined and pouted and complained that I’d miss a whole month of school, that Grandma and Grandpa promised to take me to Beantown to watch the Saint Patrick’s Day parade, and we had to consider Angel, our cocker spaniel. Wouldn’t it be better if I stayed with Grandma Brigid? But Mom believed it was an opportunity for me to finally meet my Persian relatives and all my pleading landed on deaf ears. So they dragged me away from my shady New England neighborhood to the walled-in courtyards of Tehran.

***

March 1962 – Tehran, Iran

I stood before the dancing flames, unable to move. A row of bonfires crackled and popped. The earthy scent of burning brush teased my nostrils; the smoke burned my eyes. Branches of persimmon and pomegranate cast eerie shadows on the courtyard walls. I bit my lower lip so hard it bled.

My cousin nudged me forward. “Jump, Ana. It’s Chaharshambeh Suri – Red Wednesday. You have to purify yourself in the fire to let go of the old year and welcome the new one.”

I fixed my gaze on the flames, my heart skipping a beat.

Parvaneh pushed strands of dark hair away from her face and tilted her head. “It’s safe, Ana. Iranians all over the country are jumping over fire tonight.”

But I’m not Iranian. I grimaced at my cousin, trying to wrap my head around these weird Persian rituals. Her name means ‘butterfly’ in Farsi, but with her rose-bud lips and dark liquid eyes, she looked more like a princess out of One Thousand and One Nights. I thought her name suited the way she flitted about without a care in the world.

Roxanna and Kianoosh, my other cousins, their faces luminous in the firelight, called out and waved from the far end of the line. I liked Roxanna. The girl had spunk. Kianoosh, on the other hand, thought he was God’s gift to the world.

“Go on, Ana. You’ll be fine, sweetheart,” Mom called from the veranda, her ginger curls dancing in the breeze. A nurse of Irish descent, Mom loved Iran – the food, the hospitality, the multicolored Persian carpets. She waved in a big arc, her face lit up with a smile. A smile that always calmed and anchored me. She looked happy this evening, glowing even.

But tonight her smile didn’t work its magic on me. My leg muscles tightened further. The family didn’t understand just how much a burn hurt. How it ripped your skin. I pictured the flames licking at my feet, my dress catching fire and going up in flames. Why did Dad have to bring us here?

Parvaneh poked my arm. “Trust me, Anahita. You’ll be all right.”

I felt trapped, still not sure why my cousin insisted I jump into the flames. Trying to buy time to calm my jitters, I cleared my throat and spread my hands. “Why do they call it Red Wednesday when it’s Tuesday night?”

Parvaneh rolled her eyes. “The night before Wednesday is Wednesday night. Everybody knows that.”

Like many other things that everybody knew in Iran, this made no sense. After two weeks, I still found myself scrambling to digest this exotic land of my father’s.

With a sigh of exasperation, Parvaneh shook her head and nudged ahead of me. Bunching her skirt, she leapt over the bonfires, chanting the ritual words.

I sucked in air and faced the fire. Sparks escaped, floated for a time like fireflies then winked out. My cousins hollered and whistled. They had jumped across all seven bonfires. No one had burned. No one’s clothes had burst into flames.

A stream of relatives flowed down the steps and lined up behind me. I recalled the ritual words Dad had taught me. The words all Iranians chanted while jumping over fire. Not wanting to look like a sissy in front of my Persian relatives, I pushed back the fear, gathered my skirt, and jumped.

“Zardi-eh man as toe – I give my yellow, my sickness and pallor, to you,” I chanted, the Farsi words feeling strange in my mouth. The flames licked my feet, teasing me, daring me. I sailed over the first fire and landed safely on the other side. Elated, I braved the next one.

“Sorkhi-eh toe as man – I take from you your red, your ruddiness and vitality,” I sang to the flames, imagining the energy of the fire soaking into my skin, my bones, filling me with strength and courage. Then I skipped over the remaining bonfires, chanting the words again and again. I turned to my cousins, arms raised in triumph.

Parvaneh and Roxanna hooked their arms in mine and pulled me to the back of the line “Again,” they said in unison.

I imagined telling my friends all about the fire festival when I got back home to Lexington. Becky, her pudgy cheeks dotted with freckles, would stand there with arms folded and refuse to believe I jumped through flames. But Julie, my other best friend, would probably stare at me with those big brown eyes and say ‘Wow!

**For a longer FREE PREVIEW of Veil of Walls, please visit Patricia Panahi’s WEBSITE.**

 

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(Kam) Thank you Patricia Panahi for allowing me the chance to interview you. I wish you much success in life and look forward to what you create next. 

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Review of “Seashells, Spells and Caramels” – Erin Johnson

Murder at a magical baking contest off the coast of France.

Imogen’s spent her twenties in Seattle, saving every penny and missing every party, to follow her dream of opening her own bakery.

When that dream goes up in flames, she accepts a spot in a mysterious baking contest—one she doesn’t remember entering. She travels to a bustling, medieval village off the coast of France and discovers an enchanting world of magic and mystery, and learns that she, too, possesses powers.

Unable to so much as cast a spell, Imogen struggles to keep up with the other witches and wizards who have come from all over the magical world to the Water Kingdom’s big competition. She juggles relationships with a sweet new friend, a snarky baking fire, and a brooding, handsome baker. As Imogen falls for this bewitching world, she fears she won’t master her magic in time to win the job of Royal Head Baker, and will be forced to return to the shambles of her non magical life.

It only gets worse, when a competitor drops dead in the middle of the big white baking tent, and Imogen’s the prime suspect. Now, she’ll not only have to survive the vampire and psychic judges, but also clear her name by finding the real murderer, before they strike again.

With a killer on the loose, a missing prince, and the Summer Solstice Festival fast approaching, Imogen will have to bake like her life depends on it- because it just might.

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EXCERPT

The string quartet, persuaded into playing the conga, churned out the familiar song as a middle-aged man sat next to them, an upended ice bucket between his knees, playing the “drum.” The line of rehearsal dinner guests snaked between tables. I peeled my eyes away from the conga line as a beautiful guest sauntered toward me.

She smiled, her teeth bright against her dark skin. Her hair, tightly curled and piled atop her head in an enormous bun, bounced as she swayed her hips to the music, her snow-white gown catching the candlelight from the tables.

“Cake or a cupcake?” I asked for the umpteenth time. I smiled and held up one of each.

She tapped a slender finger against her lips as her dark eyes darted from one to the other. The diamond bracelets she wore slid up toward her elbows as she threw her hands in the air. “Oh, ow about zem both, eh?”

I grinned and handed over the plates. I loved French accents. Not that I’d ever been to France, or anywhere really. Before I’d moved from St. Louis, I’d never even been out of state.

“Are you ze baker?”

I nodded.

“I’ve been earing all night about ze desserts.” She stepped closer and lowered her voice. She smelled like jasmine. “I eear they’re just bearsting weeth mageeck.” She winked, then held the cupcake up to her mouth, gingerly taking a bite around the wrapper. She moaned and bent her knees, sinking halfway to the ground. “Incredible. Just incredible. You should enter ze contest, you reeally should. And I don’t do false flattery, believe me.”

I raised a brow. “The contest?”

She looked me up and down. “You reeally don’t know? Ze Water Kingdom’s holding a contest for ze new royal baker. Last one died recently.” She looked around and leaned closer, her voice hushed. “Ze official word is she died of a ‘art attack, but if you ask me, eet was dark mageeck. Somezing underhanded, you know? Murder.” She leaned back and straightened. How much had this woman had to drink? “Zat shouldn’t scare you zough. I reeally zink you should enteer, zhere’s steel time. I probably ’ave a flyer somewhere.” She set the plates down and fished around in her sparkly white clutch.

“Zey’ve been distributing zem all over ze kingdoms. Anyone can apply, anyone at all… well almost, no shifters, ze usual, but ze’ll take emigrants like you.” She poked around some more in the tiny clutch.

Pretty sure if you haven’t found it by now, it’s not going to suddenly appear. The bag looked like it could barely hold a credit card… maybe.

She looked at me and shrugged her slender shoulders. “Can’t find one.” She glanced around and then winked. “Don’t usually break ze rules when traveling on visa, you know.

But I am here as ze date of ze retired ambassador, so if I geet in a beet of trouble, he’ll just geet me out.”

I scanned the conga line. Did she mean Ben’s grandpa?

A small sound, a zap, like snuffing a candle out with wet fingers, made me turn toward her again. In her hand she held a large, brown sheet of paper. “We’ll just keep zat between us, eh?”

Goose bumps prickled up the back of my neck and arms. I looked between the paper and her face. Where had it come from? It was too large to fit in her bag without folding, yet it was completely smooth and crisp. She handed it to me. The oddly thick paper seemed to be coated in wax. I sniffed it and smelled honey.

“Well, I’m off.” She lifted the plates. “Thank you for ze delicious treats. So good to have met you.”

I nodded, not sure how I felt about this strange and beautiful woman. “You too.”

“Think about eet.” She lifted her chin toward the flyer in my hand and danced her way back to the party.

I held the waxy paper up to my face and read, “The Magnificent Contest for the Water Kingdom’s Next Royal Baker.”

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(review request submitted by the author for an honest critique) 

 

I absolutely adore watching cooking competition shows so reading a story where competitors are magical, paranormal beings sounded too good to pass up.  Much like  Master Chef and Top Chef, in Seashells, Spells and Caramels, readers will be treated to theme challenges where contestants will be voted off until a winner is crowned. As with the other popular shows, there are baking mishaps, rivalries and tears.

However, Seashells, Spells and Caramels had a few things you’d NEVER see on any primetime competition show.

1.) You’ll never see a REAL vampire judging the sugary concoctions.

2.) You’ll never witness a flame speaking to you. 

3.) A murder mystery probably won’t pop up when watching Hell’s Kitchen.

 

Seashells, Spells and Caramels had humor, mystery, and a hint of romance. A truly magical, delicious read…..one I’m sure will be a bestseller for the talented Erin Johnson. 

 

Heart Rating System 

1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 

 Score: ❤❤❤❤1/2

 

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ALSO AVAILABLE

Book 2

A dark carnival and a dire prophecy lead to murder and mayhem.

With the Summer Sea Carnival visiting the enchanted island of Bijou Mer, Imogen jumps at the chance to help run the royal bakery booth. It’ll get her out of the palace and allow her to continue avoiding her feelings for a certain engaged prince.

Imogen’s plans to lay low are shattered when the world-famous necromancer, Madame Zerna, is found dead, sawed in half on the dark magician’s table and Imogen’s friend Rhonda is caught red-handed. With incriminating evidence piling up against Rhonda, Zerna’s rival, Imogen promises to help clear her name by finding the real murderer. 

But between running the booth, encouraging Maple as she struggles to lead as head baker, and taking spell lessons from the friendly strong man, Imogen’s got her hands full. And it’s no easier getting information from the evasive dark magician or Madame Zerna’s secretive assistant. Even Rhonda’s hiding something. 

With the Night of the Dead fast approaching, and Rhonda headed for a maximum security witch prison, Imogen races to unearth the real killer in time to save her friend. But in a mysterious carnival where nothing’s as it seems, will Imogen have the magical powers to keep from being on the chopping block herself?

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Book 3

Murder at a Mermaid Nightclub

The enchanted village of Bijou Mer’s on high alert, with the villainous Horace on the loose. Imogen’s excited to escape the tension with a trip to the underwater Mermaid Kingdom to bake for the young mermaid queen’s engagement to the pirate king.

But when the mermaids turn out to be less French Riviera and more Jersey shore, the bakers are wrapped up in their world of clubbing in sea caves and fighting off seals for the best tanning spots, and are embroiled in a pirate smuggling scandal. It gets worse when a member of the mermaid court is found dead in a fishing net, and one of Imogen and Maple’s baked goods seems to be the murder weapon.

Imogen tries to fish out the real murderer to clear their names, while struggling with her romantic feelings for Hank. At the same time, she’s working with him to learn to control her magic and investigate Horace’s riddle and her own mysterious past.

As the mermaid court’s freewheeling lifestyle rubs off on the bakers, the gang lets loose and passions rise to the surface. But with a giant octopus crawling the ocean floor, the mermaid court filled with simmering secrets and scandals, and the ever present threat of the Badlands Army, Imogen must solve the murder before she ends up fish food herself.

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A native of Tempe, Arizona, Erin spends her time crafting mysterious, magical, romance-filled stories that’ll hopefully make you laugh. In between, she’s traveling, napping with her dogs, eating with her friends and family, and teaching Pilates (to allow her to eat more).
 

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Author Showcase / Interview with Jay A. Blum (Over the Ocean and to the Links: A Golfer’s Journey)

Welcome, Jay A. Blum!

 

 

  1. Welcome, For those who might not be familiar with you, would you be a dear and tell the readers a little about yourself? How did you get your start in the writing business?

(Jay) I have always been an avid reader, devouring anything I can get my hands on. In 2009 my step-father used his 401K to play golf on Scotland’s link courses. When he came home, he began telling us all these great stories and I told him he should write a book. Well he did and gave it to me for review. It was less than perfect and I asked him if I could rewrite it for him. I did and “Over The Ocean and to the Links: A Golfer’s Journey” was born. Now I have an additional three books in various stages of completion. It is taking me a little longer to write these book as I recently lost 90% of my vision in June of 2017.

(Kam) I’m sorry for all that you’ve endured but I’m thrilled to see it hasn’t deterred you from reaching and taking hold of your dreams! 

 

 

  1. All writers fear the dreaded “block”. Please tell us how you handle it.

(Jay) I don’t know any author that never had writer’s block. The way that I write is free-flowing. I used to sit at the computer and stare at the keyboard and whatever came to mind I would write, then proof, edit and rewrite the next day if needed. Now that I do less typing and more talking to the computer to do my writing, sometimes the speech-to-text software has a hard time keeping up and I often lose that train of thought. When it happens, I walk away from the computer, hang out with my son and forget about the book. Within a day or two, mostly less, my brain refocuses in the background and I race to the computer to start again.

 

 

  1. Contrary to what some people envision about a romance writer’s life, it’s not all glitz and glam. Well not for the majority of us. With that bubble sadly busted, when you’re not writing, how to do you spend your time?

(Jay) When I am not writing, I spend as much time with my Wife and Son as possible. At 47 years old, I have a limited time on this earth as I lost both of my kidneys and my sight to cancer. When not writing and spending my time with family, I am in a dialysis chair trying to stay alive to continue to be with my family and to continue to write. I have a lot of stories in my head, and a lot to say. So when not writing I do everything I can to say alive, enjoy life, live, love and write my behind off.

(Kam) I am in awe of your strength and positive attitude towards life. So many people would’ve rolled over and let life pass them by. I am happy to see you are not wasting a moment. Others will be inspired by your bravery and it’ll give them incentive to NEVER LOSE HOPE. KEEP FIGHTING! I wish you many more years with your family. 

 

 

  1. I know many writers, such as myself, keep their pastime/career a secret. Do those close to you know you write? If so, what are their thoughts?

(Jay) Everyone that is dear to me knows that I am a writer. Once I lost my sight, they became even more encouraging while some were shocked that I could still do it since they didn’t know about speech-to-text software or any of the other augmentative equipment I have had to acquire, at great expense, to continue writing. My friends and family are very pleased that I have found my post cancer passion and they have embraced my efforts as much as I have embraced my passion for story telling.

(Kam) Amazing! 

 

 

  1. Will you share with us your all time favorite authors? If you’re like me, it’s a long list so give us your top ten.

(Jay) You are right, it is hard to limit it to just ten as there are so many great wordsmiths out there. If I have to pick a favorite it would be Brad Thor. Followed by Clive Cussler, Jay Allen, Daniel Arenson, Larry Bond, Me, Dale Brown, Elle Casey, Arthur C. Clark and a ton of Indie authors that I wish I could name them here.

(Kam) I’ll have to check them out. Thank you! 

 

 

  1. If you could choose one book to go to the big screen, yours or otherwise, which book would you choose and whom would you love see casted in the parts?

(Jay) I just finished an awesome book by Indie author Arthur David titled “Agents of the Third Party: The Beginning”. I think it would be cool to see Maggie Q as Blackmail and Piper Perabo as Jade.

 

The Third Party is a secret organization dedicated to moving humanity towards a future of peace and prosperity. A future where hunger, poverty, and war no longer exist. An organization so dedicated to its ideals that it is made up of spies, saboteurs and assassins for whom the ends justify the means, no matter how atrocious. BlackMail has spent her entire adult life dedicated to the cause of The Party. She has lived her life knowing that she is working for the greater good of humanity and the world, and it doesn’t matter how they achieve that. Her dedication has made her one of The Party’s top agents, and The Party has tasked her with training a young woman, Jade, who they believe will become The Party’s next top agent. When The Party sends them on a mission that goes horribly wrong it will forever change BlackMail, Jade, and The Third Party.

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  1. Would you care to tell us what you’re working on now? That is if it’s not top-secret information. If so, just whisper it in my ear. I swear it’ll go no further.

(Jay) As I said previously, I have three books currently in some form in production. One is about my will to live and my fight against kidney cancer, doctors, hospitals and my own mind titled “I Want To Live”. The other, also stemming from disappointment is titled “When Religion Failed Us”. This is a compilation of stories from people all over the globe, interwoven within my own issues and really takes a hard look at organized religion. The third book goes back to my roots and is, as of yet, untitled and hopefully begins a series of fresh and relevant espionage / counterespionage thrillers.

 

 

  1. Where can we find your stories and is there a particular reading order?

(Jay) Thankfully, my books can be found on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, GoodReads, Kobo and a slew of independent sites out there. I even found one of my signed copies of “Over The Ocean and to the Links: A Golfer’s Journey” on E-Bay that was sold at auction for $67.09. Pretty cool.

 

 

  1. Would you please share how your present and future fans can contact you?

(Jay) This a great question as I truly love talking with readers. Some of these conversions translate into story ideas or I name characters after them. I can be reached in many ways. They include my BLOG: www.jayablum.com, Facebook: @AuthorJayABlum, Twitter: @AuthorJayABlum, LinkedIn: JayABlum, Instagram: Author_Jay_A_Blum, and Pinterest: JayABlumAuthor

 

 

  1. Before we conclude this enlightening interview, do you have anything else you’d like to share? The stage is all yours.

(Jay) I would like to thank my gracious host for allowing me to talk about myself, my inner thoughts and demons, oh and my books too. I would really like to thank all of the readers that downloaded “Over The Ocean and to the Links: A Golfer’s Journey” which brought it to #5 in its category in May of 2017. Thank you for all the Twitter messages, Facebook posts, emails and really great book reviews. I may be blind but I read them all and answer as many as I can and still be able to write and attend dialysis. On a really personal note I want you to know that no matter what obstacle is thrown in your way, mine being cancer, dialysis and blindness, ever push you off the path to fulfilling your dreams. Sure you can be depressed and curl up in a ball why cursing the world around you. I certainly did. But, one morning I woke up and told myself that I was done wasting energy on something that I cannot change. This is who I am now and there isn’t a doctor in the world that can tell me how much time I have left. I pulled my head out of my behind and told myself that I was going to move forward with my dreams and concentrate on today. As suck I now live every moment as if it will be my last, I sing like no one is listening, dance like no one is watching and love life, my family, and friends until my heart explodes. Keep that mindset and there isn’t anything you cant accomplish; no matter what is thrown in your path. Thank you for your time and follow your dreams.

A hilarious story of a simple man that blows his minuscule IRA to play some of the world’s famous golf courses in the home of Golf, Scotland. Stubborn as Jeff is, he knew he could do better than the “golf tours” offered by many companies. As a result, the book is a tee by tee description of Jeff’s trip from deciding which courses to play, how much he wanted to spend, the trials of driving on the wrong side of the road, and the simple beauty of Scotland. Here is my story. – Jeff Foulk

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Jay, I have read dozens upon dozens of interviews and your personal story has left an imprint on me and I think it will leave a lasting mark on others as well. You are an inspiration to others battling illnesses, who’ve suffered the loss of a sense, an internal or external part of their body, and so forth. You keep fighting every day. You haven’t given up and that determination will pave the road for others to keep moving forward, through the hard days. 

I’m thankful to have “met” you and I wish you a long life full of happy, peaceful days. 

 

Kam

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