Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Author Linda Pennell

It was never on my bucket list. Not even on a far flung, sorta, maybe, if I hit the lottery and have nothing better to do wish list. It was, however, on my husband’s. He had dreamed of visiting since boyhood, so it became inevitable that both of us would travel for 48 hours to reach this destination on the other side of the world. We left the plane at mid-morning, bleary eyed and disoriented. If it hadn’t been for a troop of baboons sitting on the side of the highway, I would have sworn we were in West Texas. The landscape was exactly the same. Thus was my introduction to one of the most fascinating places I have traveled.

Namibia, a former German colony, has been an independent nation since 1990 when it broke with South Africa after a protracted and bloody conflict. Located on Africa’s Atlantic coast, Namibia is bordered by South Africa, Zambia, Angola, Botswana, and is separated from a small slice of Zimbabwe where the Zambezi River arcs between the two nations. Namibia is a constitutional democracy and is the first nation in the world to include environmental protections in its constitution. It has a stable government, and since independence, has managed to avoid the internal strife that plagues so many African nations. English is the official language; although, Afrikaans, German, and native languages are also spoken. Much of the population is multilingual. Its history is like much of Africa’s: tribal rule followed by colonial rule and finally independence.

Despite the somewhat dodgy reputation of Wikipedia articles, this one gives an accurate and concise account of Nambia’s history:

“The dry lands of Namibia were inhabited since early times by San, Damara, and Namaqua, Since about the 14th century AD, immigrating Bantuarrived as part of the Bantu expansion. Since then the Bantu groups in total, known as the Ambo people, have dominated the population of the country and since the late 19th century, have constituted a large majority.
In the late 19th century during European colonization, the German Empire established rule over most of the territory as a protectorate in 1884. It began to develop infrastructure and farming, and maintained this German colony until 1915, when South African forces defeated its military. After the end of World War I, in 1920 the League of Nations mandated the country to the United Kingdom, under administration by South Africa. It imposed its laws, including racial classifications and rules. From 1948, with the National Party elected to power, South Africa applied its apartheid policy also to what was known as South West Africa. In 1878 the British Cape Colony had annexed the port of Walvis Bay and the offshore Penguin Islands; these became an integral part of the new Union of South Africa at its creation in 1910.

In the later 20th century, uprisings and demands for political representation by native African political activists seeking independence resulted in the UN assuming direct responsibility over the territory in 1966, but South Africa maintained de facto rule. In 1973 the UN recognised the South West Africa People’s Organisation (SWAPO) as the official representative of the Namibian people; the party is dominated by the Ambo people, who are a large majority in the territory. Following continued guerrilla warfare, South Africa installed an interim administration in Namibia in 1985. Namibia obtained full independence from South Africa in 1990. But Walvis Bay and the Penguin Islands remained under South African control until 1994.”

This is the center of the downtown area. Windhoek is a city of colonial German style buildings and glass towers.

Nambia’s capital and largest city is Windhoek, a place where the past and the present blend in a seamless mix that would not make sense in another place or time. On the main downtown street, merchants offer every conceivable modern item while across the street in the city park in front of government buildings, villagers from the countryside dressed in traditional garments sell their handmade baskets, carvings, and trinkets spread out on blankets in the shade of acacia trees. Only the tribe that clings most closely to the ways of their ancestors, the Himba, are not seen in Windhoek. Every other group at some point comes to the capital.

For me, the most interesting place we visited while in Windhoek was a restaurant, Joe’s Beerhouse. Not before or after have I seen anything quite like it. The roasts of game animals are served buffet style, accompanied by local fruits and vegetables. The food was delicious, but it is the venue itself that stands out in my memory. Imagine a large African mud daubed village style thatch roofed enclosure that is open to the air in the middle so that the smoke from a huge fire pit can escape. Under the roof are additional fire pits and dining tables. The walls are decorated with traditional African artifacts and craft items. The mahogany bar looks like one at which Hemingway might have once enjoyed a beer. The atmosphere is a combination of touristy commercialism and traditional African culture. Dining there on a winter evening is recommended as the fire pits will be roaring and the buffet will be groaning. It’s a hoot and would make a great setting for a novel!

Title:  Miami Days, Havana Nights
Series and Book #: sequel to Al Capone at the Blanche Hotel
Author/pen name: Linda Pennell

Genre: dual timelines of historical fiction/contemporary women’s fiction

Publisher: Soul Mate Publishing

Date of Publication:  July 18, 2018

Number of pages: 556

Word Count:  103,000


Debts. Most people have them. Many involve money. Others fall into less well-defined categories. 
1926, New York City. After witnessing a gangland murder, seventeen-year-old Sam Ackerman is sent to Miami under Moshe Toblinsky’s protection. Once in Miami, Sam is forced into bootlegging. He falls in love with Rebecca, whose devout parents refuse to approve the match until he disentangles himself from his criminal bosses. With the end of Prohibition, Sam persuades Toblinsky to set him free. The price? A debt, as Toblinsky puts it, of friendship. A debt that Sam keeps secret from Rebecca. A debt that will one day come due.

Present day, Gainesville, Florida. History of American Crime professor Liz Reams seems to have it all - early success in her field, a tantalizing discovery associated with old time gangster Moshe Toblinsky, and the love of a wonderful man. Life is perfect. So why does she keep refusing her guy’s proposals? Her journey toward understanding begins when she must confront a long-term, yet unacknowledged, personal debt. Once on the path of self-discovery, she finds clarification at every turning, most importantly during her research into Sam’s life. All of these personal revelations come at a price, however, as she becomes embroiled in emotional and physical dangers that may prove greater than she can handle.


Chapter 1

May 18, 1926
105 South Street
New York City

Knocking - sharp, loud, rapid - echoed through the empty speakeasy. Sam froze, the notes of a tune stuck in the roof of his mouth. He glanced at the entrance and leaned the handle of his push broom against his shoulder. Puffs of dust settled on the floor boards around his feet while he remained motionless.
It was late, too late, to be admitting customers, even for the city's illegal watering holes and gambling joints. Although a thick crossbar and several stout locks protected the heavy iron door, an uneasy feeling crawled down Sam's spine. Growing tension over control of the Fulton Fish Market, in fact the entire South Street area, was making a lot of people jumpy, including him.
Several seconds passed without noise from the other side of the door. Sam let out his breath and laughed at himself. Working at the fish market in the afternoon then staying up half the night at the speakeasy didn't leave much time for sleep. It kept him on edge. All the rumors and threats floating around these days weren't helping either. Inclining his ear and hearing nothing, he relaxed and gave his broom a shove.
Bam, bam, bam.
Sam's heart jumped into his throat.
"Open up, Monza. I know you're in there." The shout, colored by an Irish lilt, came from the second floor landing accompanied by renewed pounding. "I come to talk with ya. We need to settle this business. I got a proposition for ya."
Sam's breathing kicked up a notch as he looked over his shoulder toward the office. The boss didn't like to be disturbed when he was meeting with his guys. The pounding from outside in the hall returned in earnest, but the office door remained fixed.
"You gonna open this damned door or do I break it down?" The doorknob rattled and jerked.
 Behind Sam, the office door clicked open an inch. He watched in the mirror over the bar as the muzzle of a .38 Special emerged from the opening, its nickel-plated barrel glittering in the overhead lights. One of the gangsters stepped into the room, met Sam's eye in the mirror, and jerked his head, then the room went dark. Sam dropped his broom and backed into an alcove next to the bar. The office door opened wider. Several shadows scurried across the floor. Metal locks and bolts snapped and clanked, then the entrance door swung inward.

Author bio:

I have been in love with the past for as long as I can remember. Anything with a history, whether shabby or majestic, recent or ancient, instantly draws me in. I suppose it comes from being part of a large extended family that spanned several generations. Long summer afternoons on my grandmother's porch or winter evenings gathered around her fireplace were filled with stories both entertaining and poignant. Of course being set in the American South, those stories were also peopled by some very interesting characters, some of whom have found their way into my work.

As for my venture in writing, it has allowed me to reinvent myself. We humans are truly multifaceted creatures, but unfortunately we tend to sort and categorize each other into neat, easily understood packages that rarely reveal the whole person. Perhaps you, too, want to step out of the box in which you find yourself. I encourage you to look at the possibilities and imagine. Be filled with childlike wonder in your mental wanderings. Envision what might be, not simply what is. Let us never forget, all good fiction begins when someone says to her or himself, "Let's pretend." 

I reside in the Houston area with one sweet husband and one adorable German Shorthaired Pointer who is quite certain she’s a little girl.

"History is filled with the sound of silken slippers going downstairs and wooden shoes coming up." Voltaire  

Author website and social media links:

Twitter:  @LindaPennell

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Author C.B. Clark

My Favorite Vacation Spot:

My favorite get away is a secret little campsite my husband and I go to that involves a two hour drive along a bumpy, narrow, dusty, winding, gravel logging road. Once we arrive at our small clearing in the woods, we nestle our truck and camper under the trees, set out the lawn chairs, and settle down to enjoy the incredible views of the surrounding mountains and pristine lake. 

This spot has everything we like, and we spend our time fishing for rainbow trout, hiking on the nearby historic trails through verdant forests of towering fir and pine trees, canoeing the still lake waters, and observing the shoreline for otters, beaver, moose, and bear, while bald eagles soar overhead, and a loon’s haunting call echoes across the lake. 

The wilderness, the sheer abundance of nature, and the lack of other campers, soothes my soul, replenishes my spirit, and fills me with hope for the future. Many of my stories incorporate scenes of nature and wilderness. I couldn’t live without my nature fix, and my characters are the same.



Book Blurb:

After five years of hell with an abusive husband, Natasha Hartford vows never to trust another man. Then she stumbles onto a murder scene and meets sexy, stubborn Homicide Detective Chase Brandon, a take-no-prisoners tough guy who’ll settle for nothing less than the truth. Sparks fly, but Chase’s suspicions and Natasha’s innate distrust block the way to happiness.
The detective struggles with his own troubled past and is determined to find the truth behind the shadows dimming Natasha's eyes. As more murders occur and a possible connection to her ex-husband appears, Chase fears her life is in danger. 

Natasha and Chase race to find the killer before he strikes again. Their survival depends on their willingness to overcome their mistrust of one another. Will they overcome their fears and find love again? 

Tag Line: 

After escaping an abusive relationship, can she learn to trust and love again?

Buy Links:



The thick carpet muted the tapping of her high heels as she fled through the reception area and down the hall to the elevators. In spite of her cowardly retreat, she wanted to shout in triumph. She’d been terrified of angering the surly detective, but she’d dragged up her courage and told him what she thought. Blood buzzed through her veins, fueled by the adrenaline rush. Damn. It was good to have her old fire back.
She glanced down a short corridor on her left and stumbled to a stop. How had she missed the ropes of yellow police tape blocking the entry to one of the rooms? Her breath hitched in her throat. That must be where the grisly crime had occurred.
The shocking truth struck her like a blow—Jonas Waverley was dead. Murdered in cold blood. She staggered and grabbed onto the wall.
“Ms. Hartford, wait.”
She glanced back.
Detective Brandon strode along the corridor toward her, his long legs eating up the distance, a determined expression on his face.
Her earlier spurt of courage vanished, and she whirled and dashed toward the bank of elevators. Chest heaving, heart pounding, she hit the button for the elevator, jabbing it again and again.
“Look, I’m sorry,” he said, catching up. “I was hard on you, but I’m just doing my job. A man was murdered.” He rubbed the back of his neck. “I have to examine every possible lead, question every person of interest.”
She shuddered and stabbed the down button again. Person of interest? Her? She was a person of interest in a murder investigation?
“Can we go somewhere and talk?”
She shot him a look, making it clear what she thought of his suggestion.
He lifted one shoulder. “Maybe we could grab a coffee? I have a few more questions I’d like to ask.”
The elevator pinged, and the doors opened with a hiss, revealing a middle-aged man and an elderly woman who stared at them with vague interest.
Natasha stumbled toward the elevator.
Detective Brandon grabbed her arm, holding her back. “Ms. Hartford, wait.”
Warmth from his large tanned hand seeped through the thin material of her raincoat and raised goose bumps on her arm. “Let me go.” Her voice was shrill with rising hysteria. She tugged, but he held on, his grip tightening.

 Author Bio:
C.B. Clark has always loved reading, especially romances, but it wasn’t until she lost her voice for a year that she considered writing her own romantic suspense stories. She grew up in Canada’s Northwest Territories and Yukon. Graduating with a degree in Anthropology and Archaeology, she has worked as an archaeologist and an educator. She enjoys hiking, canoeing, and snowshoeing with her husband and dog near her home in the wilderness of central British Columbia.
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Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Author Kay Phoenix

Every once in awhile I guest post on my own blog.  It feels kinda funny, but hey, I travel too.  I love sharing about my trips, and I love encouraging people to travel and explore places they've never been.

Recently, my son's dad and I took him on a long-overdue trip to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks.  Long overdue because the last time I'd been up there was about 25 years ago. I'd really wanted to go back.

We planned the trip about 6 months in advance  knowing we'd have to get hotels booked fast. It was a good thing we did because hotel rooms were far and few between, even that far in advance.  I'll know better next time.  And if I ever plan to stay inside the park, I should book it out at least a year in advance (and plan to spend a lot).

We decided not to camp because time was important and we didn't want to be bogged down dragging a ton of extra gear with us. The parks are enormous, and we wanted to spend every possible moment enjoying them.

The first couple nights, we stayed in Jackson, Wyoming.  It is such a charming town, and I look forward to exploring it more someday. I'd expected the hotel there to be quite expensive, but it wasn't. And, we got a great room with a giant fireplace. How we managed that perk, I'll never know.  The coolest place we ate in Jackson was the Snake River Brewing Company. Yum!

Grand Teton National Park made for a nice drive on the first day, circling through and heading back to Jackson.  We stopped at the Jenny Lake Lodge for lunch, which was by far my favorite meal of the trip. The view was worth at least ten million dollars or more, but the cheeseburger I had was very reasonably priced.

The next few nights, we stayed in West Yellowstone, which was not as charming as Jackson, and was extremely overpriced. The hotel was mediocre, yet we spent three times as much to stay there as we had in Jackson.  But, if you've ever been to Yellowstone, you know the place is about the size of a state, and location is important when choosing  a hotel.  As we'd planned out our driving routes in advance, we were kind of stuck there. 

My son got lucky and was the only one of the three of us that saw a wild bear.  We weren't looking in the right place, and he saw the bear just as it disappeared into the woods (disappointing a few tourists as it did). We did, however, see two moose, bison, elk, an adorable red fox, and many birds of prey. The most magical experience we had was at the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center in West Yellowstone, when their wolf pack began to howl.  I closed my eyes to listen to the haunting sound while it wafted through the cold breeze like a spell.  I highly recommend a trip to the Center on your next jaunt to Yellowstone country. 



Title: Steele and Stone
Series: The Daring Hearts series, Book 1
Author:  Kay Phoenix

Genre:  Contemporary Romance

Publisher: The Wild Rose Press

Date of Publication:  November 2, 2016


Number of pages: 133

Word Count:  42,000


Elle Thompson was raised in Denver. She paints. She hikes. She knows how to avoid cougar attacks.

The only cougars Michael Williams usually worries about are the ones that wear leopard print leggings on 5th Avenue.

But, when his acquisition firm sets its sights on Elle's family business, his tidy life goes awry. As things unravel, so do all his preconceived notions of love and what makes a perfect partner.

Buy link:


     “So, how are you feeling today?” a familiar voice asked behind him. He didn’t have to turn to know who it was, but he turned anyway, temporarily forgetting about his sunburn until he saw the shocked expression on her face.
     “Whoa! No sunblock either? I had some, you could have asked,” she giggled. “That’ll peel for sure.”
     Blue! Brilliant, shimmering blue eyes. He hadn’t seen her eyes during their hike, as they’d been hidden behind sunglasses the whole time, and he’d always been a sucker for blue eyes. Her blonde hair hung long, loose and wavy as she leaned casually against the door frame.
     “I see you’ve already made yourself quite at home,” she said. “Randall told me he let you use the conference room.”
     “What are you doing here?” he asked in a tone that sounded a bit too firm.
     “Oh, no ‘How are you?’ or ‘Nice to see you?’” She tilted her head to the side, causing a loose curl to graze her breast.
     He turned back to the coffee. “I didn’t mean to sound rude. You just surprised me.”

Author bio:

Ms. Phoenix is a rare bird herself...a lifelong resident of Las Vegas, Nevada. She belongs to Las Vegas Romance Writers and has served on the board for several years. She is also a member of Romance Writers of America with PAN status.

Prior to writing, Kay was a Graphic Artist for fifteen years in the casino industry and holds degrees in both Graphic Arts and Psychology. In her spare time she enjoys hiking, traveling and photography. She is also involved in several Las Vegas non-profits, and is the current Chairman of a popular, long-running, local art show.

Kay has been blessed to be able to travel many places, which inspired her to host a weekly author spotlight called “Midweek Escapes” on her blog. It features guest author’s favorite vacation destinations, their travel tips, and, of course, information about their book releases and occasional giveaways.

Author website and social media links: