Books are food for my soul! Pull up a beach chair and stick your toes in the sand as the Jersey surf rolls in and out, now open your book and let your imagination take you away.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Layers of Her by Prescott Lane (Book Review)

In association with Ardent Prose PR, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the virtual book tour event for Layers of Her by author Prescott Lane!

A Letter to my Readers

Rape. Just typing that word makes my gut tie up in knots. And that’s part of the problem.

Because it’s so uncomfortable, we don’t want to talk about it. So it gets buried at the bottom the newsfeed or forgotten altogether, like the backlog of untested rape kits.

Last March, I released Quiet Angel in which the heroine is a survivor of childhood sexual assault.

A few weeks later, my husband became gravely ill, and we spent the rest of the year (5 long hospital stays and 4 long surgeries) fighting to regain his health. As I sat in the hospital chair next to his bed night after night, I got messages from women about how my book touched them.

Some shared their reasons, and others didn’t.

I came to learn that April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. How could I not know that? just released a book on the very topic. Yet I didn’t see one post about it on any of my social media accounts.

Early this year, I began writing Layers of Her with the intent to spread awareness and donate of April's profits to charity. I was nervous when I started, and I still am. I mean, how much the profits be? Will readers assume I’m a survivor or I know one? Will I do the topic justice?

Why am I doing this? It’s a whole lot easier to stay silent. But that’s the whole problem, isn’t I work in a field, in the genre of fiction, that is mostly comprised of women, where sexual assault is one of the most common tropes. And with each passing page, we pull for our broken heroes and heroines to heal, find love, forge a new path. That's all we want for them. We need to do same for the real life heroes and heroines, those brave souls who fight the real fight every single day. So join me this April in making some noise to raise awareness, not only for the survivors but for those who love them.


About The Book

Layer of Her by Prescott Lane
Publisher: Independent Self Publishing
Publication Date: Paperback - April 6, 2016 / eBook - April 8, 2016
Format: Paperback - 158 pages
               Kindle - 456 KB
ISBN: 978-0997197426
Genre: Contemporary Romance 

Buy The Book:

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author in exchange for my honest review and participation in a virtual book tour event hosted by Ardent Prose PR. 

Book Description:

People always say it’s what’s on the inside that matters. If that’s the case, I’m screwed. On the outside, everything looks put together — blonde hair, blue eyes, tall and lean. By society’s standards, I’d be considered attractive. But f*ck society, I know what I am. I know what I’m made of. The recessive genes that reared their heads and created a decent looking package on the outside don’t make me who I am. What about all the evil lurking inside? What about all the other parts of me that aren’t so easy to see? Some of the most beautiful animals are also the deadliest. Take the polar bear, for example. Cute and cuddly on the outside, but it’s really a predator that will bite your f*cking head off. That’s a dangerous combination.

And that’s exactly like me, exactly who I am. Bad — and once you go bad, you can never go back.

WARNING: This book deals with the harsh reality of rape that could be upsetting for some readers.

Book Excerpt:

“What made you come for me?” she asks.  I tell her my theory about men making decisions based on one of three body parts — head, heart, dick.  “So which led you to my house tonight?” she asks.

“Let’s just say two out of three ain’t bad.”

Her giggle fills up the room.  “Stone?”


“Don’t let me forget.”  

“Forget what?”

“How good I feel right now,” she says.

I know exactly what she’s feeling.  She doesn’t think she deserves to be happy.  It’s a constant waiting on the other shoe to drop so you can prove to yourself that all the bad shit you fill your head with is true.  That you’re bad, and that’s why bad things happen around you, or to those you love.  Dealt with that myself when Tate got her diagnosis.  Who am I kidding?  I still fight those demons, knowing she’s suffering because of my mistakes.  Self-blame is a bitch.  Self-hatred is even worse.  Guess I’ll just have to teach Campbell to love herself as much as I love her.

Yeah, yeah, it’s fast.  But how long does it really take to fall in love with someone?  A minute?  An hour?  A day?  A year?  For me, it took exactly one kiss.  The moment her lips touched mine in that hospital room, I was gone.  

Besides, what do you really have to know about a person to love them?  Not a damn thing other than how they make you feel when you close your eyes at the end of the day with them wrapped in your arms.

Book Teaser:

Layers of Her - Teaser 01 v2.jpg

Layers of Her - Teaser 02.jpg

My Book Review: 

Layers of Her is an emotional story of survival, healing, new beginnings, and a redeeming love that will tug at the heartstrings and stir the soul.

Campbell May is a NICU nurse who is haunted by her traumatic past. 

Stone Delhomme is a retired MMA fighter, gym owner, and a single dad to his one and a half year old daughter Tate, who has a severe hearing loss. 

From the day that Campbell steps into Stone's gym, Stone is attracted to Campbell, and he is determined to break down Campbell's walls of defense, while he tries to help, protect, and take care of her. 

Written in an alternating first person narrative and set in the vibrant city of New Orleans, author Prescott Lane weaves a beautifully written tale full of pain, angst, drama, humor, and tender romantic moments that easily draws the reader into Campbell and Stone's story. The slow building development of their relationship makes this compelling story worth the read, as their connection and and sexual chemistry is put to the test by the remnants of their dark pasts. You can't help but feel for Campbell as she struggles with deep traumatic scars, as well as for Stone who struggles with his own emotional baggage, but he is just the person that can help Campbell conquer her inner demons and heal. 

The author does a wonderful job of interweaving the serious issues of rape, survival, and healing, with the blossoming of Campbell and Stone's amazing relationship. I admired Campbell's strength and commiserated with her traumatic past; and I loved Stone's badass exterior and tenderhearted interior when it came to Campbell and Tate, and his awesome dedication to empowering women through his self-defense class; but I would be remiss if I didn't mention that it was sweet little Tate who completely stole my heart. 

Layers of Her has an intriguing cast of characters who are realistic, flawed, and easy to relate to; witty dialogue and engaging interactions; a flirty fun New Orleans setting; and a breathtakingly compelling and powerful storyline that will take you on a hauntingly beautiful journey where you will experience the full gamut of emotions.

If you are looking for a hopeful and heartwarming love story that follows the journey of two broken people who learn to let go of their dark pasts, and open themselves up to a healing and loving relationship, then Layers of Her is the story for you!


About The Author

Prescott Lane is the author of First PositionPerfectly Broken, and her new release, Quiet Angel. She is originally from Little Rock, Arkansas, and graduated from Centenary College with a degree in sociology. She went on to receive her MSW from Tulane University, after which she worked with developmentally delayed and disabled children. She married her college sweetheart, and they currently live in New Orleans with their two children and two crazy dogs. Prescott started writing at the age of five, and sold her first story about a talking turtle to her father for a quarter. She later turned to writing romance novels because there aren't enough happily ever afters in real life.
Happily Ever Afters Guaranteed!


Veil Of Deception by Michael Byars Lewis (Author Guest Post / Book Review)

In association with Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the virtual book tour event for Veil Of Deception by author Michael Byars Lewis!

Author Guest Post

Want To Write That Novel?

Every author has met someone who said, “I’ve always wanted to write a novel.” We’ve said the same thing to ourselves. Because we were readers first. Maybe you, the reader, have aspirations of writing “the great American novel.” It’s within your grasp. I hope that I can shed a little light on how I did it, so perhaps someone out there might find it possible to write his or her novel as well.

Have a story to tell. Many years ago, I was in Los Angeles visiting John Mese, one of my college roommates who beginning a very successful acting career. I had this gnawing feeling that I wanted to write a novel, but I knew I had absolutely no idea how to do it. I talked to John about it and his words had a profound impact. He said, “Everybody has a story to tell. Some people just tell it better than others.” Wow. Simple, yet profound. John, a writer also, still works as an actor today and is an award-winning director of independent films.

What’s the first step? Read. A lot. Okay that’s a given. The second step? Learn how to write a novel. How do you “learn” to write a novel? Read what you want to write, write what you want to read. That’s the simple answer. Narrow your focus. Read the type of novels that you want to read.

It’s kind of like eating an elephant. How do you do that? One bite at a time. Same thing with learning to write a novel. Read books on writing. There are numerous books that cover the topic; from the very broad to the very specific. My recommendation is to start big, then work small. By that I mean, find a book or two for the beginner and familiarize yourself with the overall format and aspects of novel writing. I can’t remember the names of the books I first read on writing novels, they were destroyed years ago in a hurricane. But I remember the books I used as I narrowed down my scope. Writer’s Digest used to have a series of books called the Elements of Fiction Writing, I think they are still in print today. These broke down the concepts of Plot; Setting; Characters and Viewpoint; Dialogue; Conflict, Action, and Suspense. These books are a great starting point for phase two, but can be overwhelming if you try and use these initailly. Of course, books on writing are coming out every day. I always pick up books I think I can glean a little bit of insight from. If I can get one piece of information from a book, it was worth it. Never think you are too good to learn.

Don’t operate in a vacuum. Find other writers to learn from and grow with. Do your best to find a writer’s group to participate in. If you can’t, create your own. Open up your mind; it’s amazing what you can learn from others who are pursuing the same goal. But you’d better check your ego at the door. You’ve slaved over your project, putting blood, sweat, and tears into it; you want everybody to love it. And they won’t. Your friends and family will tell you how great it is and how you’re the next Hemingway or Nora Roberts. But you’re not. And that’s okay. You have to keep an open mind and learn as much as you can. If no one tells you what they don’t like, or what you’ve done wrong, you’ll never get better. Bad critiques can hurt. I know. Every author gets them. But learn to celebrate the good things and learn from the bad.

Have fun. It really is a great journey.

About The Author

Michael Byars Lewis, is a former AC-130U ‘Spooky’ Gunship Evaluator Pilot with 18 years in Air Force Special Operations Command. A 25-year Air Force pilot, he has flown special operations combat missions in Bosnia, Iraq, and Afghanistan. His first novel, Surly Bonds, won three awards—2013 Next Generation Indie Book Awards: Silver Medal Finalist 1st Novel (Over 80,000 words), 2013 Readers’ Favorites: Bronze Medal (Fiction-Intrigue), and the 2014 Beverly Hills Book Awards: Winner (Military Fiction). Michael has an extensive social media footprint on Facebook, Goodreads, Twitter, and Pinterest. Michael is currently a pilot for a major U.S. airline.

Author Website

Book Review

Veil Of Deception by Michael Byars Lewis
Book 2: Captain Jason Conrad Series
Publisher: SATCOM Publishing
Publication Date: Paperback – November 25, 2015 / eBook - April 17, 2016
Format: Paperback - 444 pages
               Kindle - 2940 KB
               Nook - 579 KB
ISBN: 978-0991476428
BNID: 2940152603880
Genre: Military - Political Thriller

Buy The Book:

Buy The Series: Captain Jason Conrad Series
Book 1: Surly Bonds
Book 2: Veil Of Deception

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author / publisher in exchange for my honest review and participation in a virtual book tour event hosted by Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours.

Book Description:

For years, Air Force Captain Jason Conrad flew and instructed in the supersonic T-38. Despite his decline into a self-destructive lifestyle, he was considered one of the best instructors on the base. Following a terrifying jet crash, Jason finds himself on a very short list of people on their way out the door. It is a surprise to everyone when he is assigned to the home of the U.S. Air Force Flight Test Center. Jason should have known that in a ‘one mistake Air Force’ where you ‘do more with less’, everything would not be what it appears. Attached to a secret project with a shadowy contractor, Jason is caught between two complications; an overbearing, retired general determined to see him fail; and an aggressive television reporter who wants him in prison. When a ghost from the past shows up and a beautiful, yet mysterious woman enters his life, Jason soon discovers his special project has more secrets than anyone knows about . . . and it could cost him his life.

Book Excerpt:

Chapter 1

April 14, 2001

SHERRI DAVIS APPROACHED THE ENTRYWAY, already regretting her decision. After filling out paperwork and release forms for thirty minutes, she stood hidden behind the filthy curtain covering the doorway, the knot in her belly growing tighter. She pulled a small section of the worn fabric to the side. Colored lights blinked rapidly, and several spotlights locked on the mirrored ball above the stage, creating hundreds of dancing reflections around the large room.
“It doesn’t hurt, ya know,” a voice said over the loud music.
Turning her head, Sherri spied a girl in her late teens standing next to her.
“You look nervous. It’s your first time, isn’t it?” the girl said to Sherri.
“Yes,” she said, releasing the curtain and facing the woman. In the dark hallway, Sherri could barely make out the girl’s features, though her heavy eyelashes and straight black hair were clearly prominent. It was the young girl whose locker was next to hers.
“It’s not like sex. Doesn’t hurt the first time.”
Sherri nodded. “Got any advice?”
“Have fun sweetie, that’s my advice,” the girl said. “Go out there and relax. You’ll do fine.”
“Relax,” Sherri replied. “Right.”
“Honey, once those assholes start handing you twenties to sit on their lap, you’ll relax,” the girl said. “Now get on out there and bring home the bacon,” the girl said as she patted Sherri on the rear. Sherri noticed the pat was a little too soft and lingered a little too long before the girl retreated back down the hallway toward the stage entrance.
Sherri sighed heavily, her hands pressing the pleats of her skirt. She cupped her breasts for a quick adjustment and pulled her shoulders back. Her transition from the dark hallway to the work area was dramatic. The mist spewing from the smoke machine burned her eyes, and her ears pulsed each time the deep bass vibrated through the speakers. Her steps were short and deliberate, as if she had a choice in these five-inch stiletto heels. She gave up the security of the doorway, crossed her arms in front of her breasts and meandered between the tables, dodging a waitress carrying a tray full of beers.
The girl, nineteen at most, took the stage like a veteran and danced around the pole while a variety of wishful male suitors watched her every move. Sherri scanned the crowd. The darkness of the bar, the mist, and the flashing lights made it difficult to see anything in detail. The music made her head hurt. Unable to see the two men she was looking for, she began to worry she might be wasting her time.
“Hey, baby,” an overweight, drunk businessman said as he reached out and tried to grab her arm.
“Not tonight, sweetie,” Sherri replied, pulling away, never making eye contact. She gave the bald drunk the brush-off with her right hand. He shook his head and walked off toward another girl; alcohol making him more optimistic than he had a right to be.
While she looked the part—plaid miniskirt and a white button-down tied in front of her push-up bra—she realized she wasn’t acting the part. She sensed her movements through the bar were awkward. Relax. Standing in place, she tapped her foot to the music and rhythmically swayed her body. Sherri closed her eyes and started a slow, seductive dance in place. Her hips swayed like sea oats blowing in the ocean breeze. It didn’t take long before the men nearby stared at her instead of the stage, waving twenty dollar bills at her. Feeling more confident, she moved around the bar again. She had to work fast, as she was scheduled to make her stage debut in half an hour.
After a couple minutes meandering through the crowded bar and refusing three more requests for lap dances, she saw the first subject. He had come out of the men’s room and returned to a table located away from the stage. His name was Ahmed Alnami, a Saudi Arabian living in and moving around the United States. Now he was in Pensacola, sitting at a table with Saeed Alghamdi, his partner now getting a lap dance from one of the girls. Alnami sat at the table where he took a long swig of his beer and gave his partner a big smile. Weren't these two supposed to be devout Muslims? Why were they here?
Sherri recognized her opportunity and approached the table. She leaned toward Alnami, her breasts at eye level, right in front of him. He stared in her eyes, looking fearful. Not the fear of danger. The innocent fear, like a teenage boy about to lose his virginity. “Hey, big boy,” she cooed, “are you lonely?” Alnami continued to stare, clearly unsure what to do.
Sherri smiled and pointed at her eyes. “Honey, you need to change your focus from here, to here,” she said as she moved her hands to her breasts. Alnami’s face beamed.
“Yes, please to sit,” he said in broken English. Sherri sat on his lap. He was a small man; Sherri was taller than he. No wonder he was smiling—a blond Amazon had landed in his lap. She reached over and ran her hand through his hair. It was oily and hadn’t been washed for a while. Wiping her hand on the back of his shirt, she cringed, yet forced a weak smile. Alnami lunged his face forward and buried it in her breasts. Sherri pushed him back. She wanted to punch him, but that would undo all she’d accomplished.
“Settle down, big boy, we need to get to know each other first.”
“This is what I want,” he said, pointing at his partner, whose lap dancer was grinding aggressively into him.
“Oh, you’ll get that and more,” she replied. “We’ve got to do some talking first.”
“What is this talking?” he said in a louder voice. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a roll of bills. The smile faded and his eyes bulged. “I want boobies! I want the grind-a-grind!” The teenage innocence disappeared, and the self-absorbed arrogance of the immature adult surfaced. He started to push her off his lap. Sensing she was losing her opportunity, she grabbed his head and shoved his face back into her breasts.
“Better?” She pulled his face from her bosom, and the big smile had returned.
“Yes please.”
“Now, before I give you the grind-a-grind, we’ve got to get to know each other. What’s your name?”
“Ahm—” He paused. “Keevin. My name is Keevin.”
“Kevin? Okay, Kevin will work for now. My name is Bambi. What do you do, Kevin?”
“I do fine. Thank you, Bom-bi.”
Sherri cringed. This was painful. “What’s your job?”
“Oh, I train to be pilot.”
Interesting. She shifted herself on his lap and ran the fingers of her left hand along the buttons of his shirt. “Are you out at the Navy base?”
“Yes.” His eyes remained focused on her breasts.
“How long are you in town?”
“Two more weeks.”
Sherri thought for a moment. The two Saudis had already been in Pensacola for two weeks. Obviously, they weren’t students, and they weren’t flying with the Navy, but they were there to fly something.
“You must be really smart,” she said. “Not everybody gets to fly airplanes.”
“I am one of Allah’s warriors,” Alnami said, his voice rising. “Allahu Akbar.”
Sherri studied Alnami. “What is Allah having you do?” She bit her lower lip, realizing she might have pushed the conversation too far, too fast.
His eyes moved from her breasts back to her eyes. His nostrils flared as he bared his yellowing teeth. “No more talk of this!” Alnami shouted, unnoticed by the rest of the room. “I want grind-a-grind from you!” He pulled a fifty out of his pocket and waved it at her. Sherri sighed, realizing she would not get any more information unless she took it to the next level. That was not going to happen. She took the bill and stuck it in her bra.
She rose from his lap and posed in front of him, hands on her hips. He’s done talking. It’s time to get out of here. She slowly swayed back and forth, running her hands along the sides of her hips up to her breasts. The dancing must have been good, because she noticed his partner staring at her while still getting his lap dance.
Sherri leaned forward, nearly rubbing her breasts from his knees to his head, her body barely missing contact with his. She said in his ear, “How about you and me leave this place?”
Alnami’s smile grew bigger. “Yes, please!”
Pushing herself away from him, she moved behind his chair and ran hands down the front of his chest. “Okay, I’ve got to go clock out and change clothes. I’ll be back here in fifteen minutes. Don’t move.”
“I not move. Don’t change your clothes! You sexy momma!”
Sherri forced a weak smile. “Okay, baby. Whatever you want.”
She left the table and headed to the entryway with the dirty curtain.
She walked through the dark hallway, entered the dressing room, and pulled the door behind her, shielding her eyes from the steady light. As her eyes adjusted, she walked to her locker and gathered her things. Standing in front of one of the mirrors, she pulled off the blond wig, and her deep red hair fell to her shoulders. Pulling out a brush, she touched it up from where the wig had pressed it down or tangled it. She then grabbed her tan overcoat and slipped it over her shoulders. Retrieving her clothes from her locker, she knew making a quick exit was more important than comfort. A few of the other girls gazed at her with curiosity and envy.
“Sorry, ladies, I’m not cut out for this,” she said. She turned and walked out the back door of the strip club.
Reaching the exit, she glanced left and right as she walked out the door. The light by the back door was burned out, making the parking lot dark. She clutched her purse tightly and gripped the can of mace in her coat pocket as she walked to her rental car, a shiny new red Toyota Celica. She grabbed her keys and cell phone from her purse and climbed in. Kicking off the stiletto heels, she cranked the engine and pulled on to Highway 98, dialing on her cell phone as she drove.
The phone answered on the first ring. “Did you get it?” the voice asked.
“No, I didn’t get that far. Alnami was getting a little too friendly.”
“I told you this might happen. Did you find out anything?”
“They’re here two more weeks, and they’ll be flying next week, but I don’t know what and I don’t know why. Sorry, it’s the best I was willing to do under the circumstances.”
“Okay,” the voice replied. “Get back here tomorrow. I’ve got something else for you.”
“Like what?” She was more interested in getting some rest at this point.
“Our informant in New York wants to meet with you ASAP.”
“All right,” Sherri said begrudgingly. “I’ll see you tomorrow.” As she hung up the phone, the car lurched forward. The phone slipped from her fingers, falling to the floorboard as her body slammed into her seat belt. She glanced in the rearview mirror as a car slid back and accelerated toward her again.
“What the hell?” she said, assessing the situation.
She put both hands on the wheel, and her foot pressed the accelerator as the car made contact with the red Celica a second time. As she reached the Pensacola Bay Bridge, the vehicle behind her changed lanes. She struggled as it maneuvered to strike her car in the left rear fender in an attempt to spin the car. She accelerated again, making the assailant miss his mark. Traffic was light this time of night, but there were enough vehicles to put between her and her attacker.
The mystery car pulled behind her, two car lengths back. She managed to accelerate away from it, but still had a good two miles to go on the bridge. Every time she passed a vehicle, the car followed her. Who the hell was attacking her? Could it be Alnami? No, she hadn’t been gone long enough. He would still be waiting for her inside the strip club, probably constructing ridiculous fantasies in his head.
It was a dark, starless night, and the rise in the bridge was a half mile away. This hump in the bridge allowed larger boats to enter and exit Pensacola Bay from the Gulf. Once on the other side, she would be in civilization again.
Vinyl and glass shards flew everywhere inside the vehicle as bullets pierced the back window of her car and hit the passenger side of the dashboard. She screamed and let go of the steering wheel, her foot coming off the gas for an instant.
“Holy shit!”
Her eyes darted back and forth as her car veered toward the rail to her right. Grabbing the steering wheel, she pressed the accelerator once again as she jerked her car away from the side rail.
“Oh, God,” she said, “why the hell are they shooting at me?”
She swerved to put another car between them, then pushed the accelerator to the floor. The innocent car she just passed bumped into the guardrail, sending sparks flying. It spun around as the assailant hit the car from the rear, then continued on. The dark sedan accelerated and closed the distance between them. She felt trapped as her Celica could not gain any more speed.
Another burst of machine-gun fire. Sherri screamed as the bullets struck the rear of her vehicle. At the bottom of the hump, she checked her rearview mirror. Shattered glass and bullet holes in the rear window were all she could see. There was no sign of the vehicle chasing her. Her heart raced as she hoped they’d stopped their pursuit. Based on the lights in the distance, she estimated she’d reach the end of the bridge in less than a minute.
With a quarter mile to go until she reached the end of the bridge, the car shuddered. Sherri’s gaze shifted to the front of her car, and her shoulders slumped. She beat her fist against the steering wheel as smoke rose from under the hood and the car started decelerating.
The speedometer read 80 mph at this point, but the car no longer responded to her foot pressing the accelerator. She pushed it all the way to the floor, but nothing. In her rearview mirror, she noticed the assailant closing in behind her. The car had closed within three car lengths when another round of bullets hit her vehicle.
Her heart raced as she reached the end of the bridge and the Celica slowed to 55 mph.
“Shit! If I break down on this bridge, I’m done,” she said as she pumped the accelerator. “Who the hell are these guys?”
The Celica slowed to 25 mph now, and other cars quickly caught and passed her.
Searching for her assailant in the mirror, she saw the dark-colored sedan make a U-turn at the end of the bridge and head toward Pensacola.
In front of her, red-and-blue lights danced on top of a parked car. Sherri had driven into a speed trap, and her assailants had turned and run.
“Yeah!” she shrieked. “Take that, asshole! You’d better run!”
A faint nervous smile eased across her face as she glided the unpowered vehicle into the right lane and onto the side of the road. The car came to a stop, and as soon as she put it in park, her body began shaking as the adrenaline faded. Leaning forward on the steering wheel, she started sobbing. She had almost been killed. A myriad of thoughts raced through her head as the police car pulled in behind her. The officer walked up and tapped on the window with his flashlight. Her finger pushed the button aft, lowering the window, and she covered her eyes as he shined the light in her face.
“Driver’s license and registration,” he said.
“No problem,” she replied. Automatically, she dug in her purse for her driver’s license. When she reached into the glove box for the rental agreement, she glanced in the passenger’s side mirror and saw the dark outline of the officer’s partner approaching the other side of her vehicle. You think he’d say something about the smoke coming from under the hood, she thought, or the blown-out back window.
She stopped digging and glanced back at the officer who spoke to her. Is he wearing jeans? With a quick glance back to the passenger-side mirror, she saw his partner approaching the vehicle was wearing—shorts? Wait, how could this guy not have noticed the bullet holes?
“Hey, what agency are you guys with?” she said as she turned back to the cop. Before she could react, he jammed a long stick through the window and pressed it into her neck. The electric shock was fast and intense, then—blackness.

Chapter 2

April 15, 2001

A SMALL SLIVER of glistening sunlight cut through the dark hotel room, illuminating its small interior. Dust particles danced through the piercing beam like fireflies on a clear summer night. The light pried into his consciousness while the grinding gears of a construction vehicle outside ripped it open. Jason Conrad buried his face in a pillow and moaned as his head felt ready to explode. He recognized this place, barely. The hangover reminded him that his recent lifestyle choices had their consequences.
It didn’t take long for his body to tell him he needed to relieve himself. Sitting up, he swung his feet off the bed and glanced next to him, rubbing the sides of his throbbing temples with his fingertips. The blonde lay strewn out, nude on top of the sheets. She had every appearance of being attractive from here, but he struggled to remember her face. He definitely could not remember her name.
Jason tiptoed to the bathroom, as much to protect his pounding head as not to wake the blonde. After relieving himself, he washed his hands and face and brushed his teeth. When he left the bathroom, she was sitting up in the bed, watching him. She is pretty. Now, what is her name again?
“Good morning, sexy,” she said. She sounded much more awake than he did.
“Hi,” Jason said. She was too bubbly for early morning.
“I can’t believe you’re up,” she said in a strong Texas drawl.
“Am I still beautiful?”
Jason grinned. “Absolutely.”
“You’re quiet this morning. You wouldn’t stop talking last night.”
Vague memories of the night before pushed themselves into his consciousness. He crawled back into the bed, and she leaned over and kissed him.
“Oh, you brushed your teeth. I’ll be right back,” she said, climbing out of bed and walking to the bathroom.
Jason studied her figure. She had all the right equipment. He could see why he would have been talkative. Now he wished he didn’t drink as much. He realized this was a night he would have liked to remember.
Yesterday started off well. As flight lead of a four-ship of T-38s, they’d done a flyover for a Texas Rangers game. It was a great TDY, or temporary duty, to Dallas, with per diem. The flyover during the national anthem at the Ballpark in Arlington was uneventful, and they landed at Naval Air Station Fort Worth, formerly known Carswell Air Force Base, right afterward.
When they finished securing their jets, a limousine arrived to pick them up outside Base Operations. One of the Rangers’ owners provided the limo for their ride to the stadium. It contained a cooler full of beer and a tray of cheese and crackers to tide them over until they arrived at the stadium in Arlington.
It was a tight fit with eight sweaty, cocky T-38 instructors, but they didn’t care. They were amazed at the red carpet treatment and relished every minute of it. The pilots were treated like rock stars in the owners’ VIP suite, with all the food and alcohol they wanted. After the game, the limo drove them to the West End in Dallas. Jason and his buddies found themselves in Gators, a piano bar/restaurant with dueling white grand pianos and a rowdy crowd. He remembered meeting her at Gators. What is her name?
Jason rolled over on his back and stared at the ceiling. What have I become? Is this the life I want to live? The nameless faces of his women over the years skipped through his thoughts. He felt empty. Like every other one-night stand, she crept back into his head. What happened to the one who’d slipped away six years ago? Whatever happened to Kathy Delgato?
The door to the bathroom opened, and the blonde sauntered back into the room. She took the time to brush her hair and put on lipstick. Posing at the end of the bed, she riveted her eyes at him wantonly.
“Oh, good, you’re still awake.” She traipsed around the bed to the window and opened the curtain, standing nude in front of the window.
“I can’t help it,” she said with a wry smile, turning to face him. “I’m an exhibitionist.”
“What time do you fly back?” She posed seductively in front of the window.
Jason glanced at the clock. Red digital numbers displayed eight thirty-three. The pilots planned to leave the hotel at noon. “I need to be at the base at eleven,” he lied.
“Oh,” she said, sauntering toward him.
“Do I…” He paused. “Do I need to get you a ride home?” Jason couldn’t remember how they made it back to the hotel.
“No silly. I drove us, remember?”
No, and I can’t remember your name either, so please don’t ask.
“Well,” he said, glancing at the clock, “we have some time.”
The blonde smiled and crawled back onto the bed. Jason stopped hating himself as she wrapped her arms around him. Even drunk, he had done very well.

SHERRI SHIVERED from the cool breeze as she lay on her back. Fading in and out of consciousness, she tossed her head from side to side. Various colors edged their way into her brain as she awoke. She writhed in place, and the ground shifted slightly. Her muscles ached, but the sun on her face was irritating. When she tried to open her eyes, her hand shielded them from the brightness. The smell of saltwater filled her nostrils as waves crashed onto the shore.
She was at the beach.
The sun glared as she struggled again to open her eyes. The sky was a bright blue, and seagulls called out to her as they bobbed and weaved ten feet overhead, floating rather than flying.
Her body ached. Rolling her head to the right, she saw nothing but white sand and sea oats. To the left was more of the same, but with a stinging sensation as she turned her head. Sherri managed to roll over on her left side and prop herself up on her elbow. Her joints were stiff and her skin covered with goose bumps. Her head hurt as she tried to figure out how she ended up here, wherever here turned out to be.
Shifting her weight, she managed to sit up on her knees and check herself out. Nothing was broken, and she didn’t notice any injuries other than the neck pain, stiff joints, and sore muscles. She realized she still wore the schoolgirl outfit from the strip club the night before. Checking her bra and panties, she found everything in place and Alnami’s fifty-dollar bill still tucked in her bra.
What the hell happened? Someone chased her on the bridge and shot up her car, but she managed to escape. The cop. He did something to her. When she placed her hand on the left side of her neck, the pain shot through her body again. The cop shocked her with something. Only he wasn’t a cop. Who were those guys? They had to be working together. She was an easy target and nobody is that bad of a shot to miss her for that long. Whoever it was, they were sending her a message. The thoughts made her head hurt as she shielded her eyes from the sun, which was inching its way above the horizon.
Sherri rose to her feet and realized she had no shoes. She inspected her clothes, what little she wore. Rolling off the white stockings, she tossed them in the sand and untied her white shirt to cover her belly. She buttoned up her shirt and felt a little more comfortable. She slowly brushed the sand off her thighs, waist, and arms. Placing her hands in her deep red hair, she desperately tried to shake out the sand. It would take days, she determined, if not weeks, to get all of the sand out. She searched around her immediate area: no purse, no phone, and no car keys.
When she started on this story, Sherri never realized she would experience something like this. She always enjoyed the sense of accomplishment from hard work. As an investigative reporter, she put herself in many compromising situations, but this had been the worst. Being shot at wasn’t something new, but being shot at with automatic weapons was a twist. Even in Sarajevo, she hadn’t faced such firepower. There she’d been dodging sniper fire.
Sherri tried to analyze the events, but her head ached, and she realized she was dehydrated. She scanned the beach. The closest people to her were an elderly couple using metal detectors a hundred yards to the east. To the west, more people in the distance, the silhouettes of condos and hotels, and the familiar water tower of Pensacola Beach. She guessed it was about three miles away. Leaving the solitude of the sea oats and sand dunes of this isolated portion of the beach, Sherri trudged toward the water, then west, toward civilization.

My Book Review:

In Veil Of Deception, the second book in the Captain Jason Conrad Series, author Michael Byars Lewis weaves a riveting military thriller that follows the latest adventure of Air Force Captain Jason Conrad.

The reader was introduced to Captain Jason Conrad, a jet pilot instructor at Vance Air Force Base in Oklahoma, in Surly Bonds, the first book in the series. Now in Veil Of Deception, Jason's adventures continues when he is assigned to Edwards Air Force Base in California, the home of the U.S. Air Force Flight Test Center, to assist in the testing of a new top secret Air Force project, the F-2000 fighter jet. But the secret project goes anything but smooth when there are secrets and deception by the contractor, and dangerous espionage from foreign countries who want to take the U.S. down.

Author Michael Byars Lewis utilizes his vast experience as an Air Force pilot to weave a gripping and complex military / political thriller that will captivate the reader's attention, and keep them sitting on the edge of their seats.

Veil Of Deception is a fast paced multi-layered tale that is masterfully interwoven with international intrigue and espionage; secrets, deception, and hidden agendas; political posturing, plots, and threats; surprising twists and turns; a subtle mysterious romance; and an epic military air-to-air dogfight. The reader follows along as Jason is caught in the middle of a dangerous web of deceit as this realistic story unfolds. This is an exciting and dramatic story that engages the reader to figure out who is hiding behind a veil of deception, it will keep them guessing until all the puzzle pieces are put together, and the explosive truth is unveiled in this dangerous international cat and mouse game.


Book Trailer

4/18 Showcase @ Reading Renee
4/19 Review @ Book Reviews from an Avid Reader
4/20 Review @ Vics Media Room
4/21 Interview @ BooksChatter
4/22 Review @ Jaquo Lifestyle Magazine
4/23 Showcase @ Hott Books
4/25 Review @ Marys Cup of Tea
4/26 Interview @ Deal Sharing Aunt
4/27 Showcase @ Mythical Books
4/28 Showcase @ Its a Mad Mad World
4/29 Review & Guest Post @ Jersey Girl Book Reviews
5/02 Review @ Just Reviews
5/04 Review @ Booklishly Me
5/05 Guest Post @ Mystery Suspense Reviews
5/09 Showcase @ Writers and Authors
5/10 Guest Post @ Books Direct
5/23 Showcase @ Celtic Ladys Reviews

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

The Tao of Book Publicity by Paula Margulies (Author Interview / Book Review)

Author Interview

Welcome to Jersey Girl Book Reviews, Paula!

You have been a book publicist for more than 25 years. What made you finally decide to write a guidebook on promotion for authors?

In the course of my publicity work, I’ve received calls from hundreds of authors, many of whom ask the same questions: When do I start my publicity campaign? How much should I plan to spend? Do I need a website? How do I build a platform? What price should I give my book? Do I have to use social media and, if so, which sites are best? Should I print a hardcover version, or will a paperback suffice? Do I need to enter contests? How can I get more reviews?

These are all important questions, and since so many authors seem to have the same concerns about their books, I decided to share what I’ve learned over the years as a publicist in one convenient, inexpensive resource guide.

The Tao of Book Publicity has a Zen look and feel to the cover and title. How does understanding the Tao principles help authors to promote their books?

I chose the Tao as a way of offering authors a practical philosophy on how they might approach book marketing. There are many authors who find promotion crass and time-consuming; a good majority would rather be writing than spending time trying to develop promotional material and schedules for themselves and their work. But I’ve found that book promotion can be a rewarding and fulfilling activity if done with the right perspective in mind.

As I describe in the book, most book publicity comes from a place of not-knowing; there are people we approach, for example, for reviews or interviews, but we cannot strong-arm those individuals into giving us what we want. Instead, we take the time to think about what our message is, who we are targeting with that message, and how to propose it in the most succinct, relevant, and motivating way we can. We then present our message (what most in my business call our “pitch”), and then follow-up with persistence to try to get a yes response. Our results are never guaranteed – it is up to the reporters or editors we contact to decide if the message we’re sharing is right for them. But when we come from a place of humility and unattachment, we tend to do a better job of both preparation (in which case, we usually achieve the goals we’re attempting) and managing our expectations.

What other aspects of book publicity do you cover in the book?

I provide how-to explanations for developing publicity material, including front and back cover text, press releases, Q&As, media and blog tour queries, and newsletter and media lists. I also cover topics such as social media, book pricing and sales, book tours and media interviews, and author websites. In addition to explaining how book publicity works, I also discuss practical topics such as publicity costs, timing, and considerations when hiring a publicist; I’ve found that many authors want to know upfront about fees for services and what steps they should have completed before they contact a publicist like me.

If you have one piece of advice for new authors, what would it be?

That’s easy – write a good book!

Of course, that’s easier said than done. I’ve found that oftentimes authors, especially those who have chosen to self-publish, are in a rush to get their books out. In their hurry, they forgo important steps like workshopping the book, spending time on revision, hiring a professional editor and cover designer, and developing their platforms. As a result, many of their books, sadly, don’t sell. If authors want their books to be well-received by booksellers, the media, and (most important) readers, they must take the time to carefully edit, polish, and package them well – there is no substitute for these steps in the publishing process.

Can you describe how an author might use this book as a guide to his or her own publicity plans?

Authors can read the chapters in any order they like (each chapter is designed to be read as stand-alone unit) and see what sounds as if it might be a good fit for them and their books. If something doesn’t sound right, they don’t have to use it. The information in the chapters is there to provide guidance and insight into what I believe are the common practices of most book publicists, but none of what’s there is meant to be a hard-and-fast prescription for any author’s individual book publicity plans.

Are you working on another book? If so, what can you tell us about it?

In addition to this latest book, I’m also the author of the short story collection, Face Value: Collected Stories, and two novels: Coyote Heart, which is a modern-day romance about a married woman who falls in love with a Pala Indian man, and Favorite Daughter, Part One, a first-person retelling of the life story of the famous Native American legend, Pocahontas. I’d like to get back to writing fiction and plan to spend the next year completing Part Two of Favorite Daughter

About The Author

Paula Margulies is the owner of Paula Margulies Communications, a public relations firm for authors and artists. She has received numerous awards for her essays and works of fiction, including her nonfiction handbook, The Tao of Book Publicity, her historical novel, Favorite Daughter, Part One, her first novel, Coyote Heart, and her short story collection, Face Value: Collected Stories. She has been awarded artist residencies at Caldera, Red Cinder Artist Colony, the Vermont Studio Center, and Centrum. Margulies resides in San Diego, California. 

Book Review

The Tao of Book Publicity: A Beginner's Guide to Book Promotion by Paula Margulies
Publisher: One People Press
Publication Date: March 9, 2016
Format: Paperback - 156 pages
               Kindle - 285 KB
               Nook - 302 KB
ISBN: 978-0991354535
BNID: 2940152774658
Genre: Non Fiction / Book Publishing & Promotion Guide 

Buy The Book:

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author / publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Book Description:

The Tao of Book Publicity: A Beginner’s Guide to Book Promotion is a handbook designed to provide new and experienced authors with information and insight into the process of selling their books.

In The Tao of Book Publicity, publicist Paula Margulies outlines the basics of book promotion and explains how the business of publicizing a book works. Designed for beginning authors but also useful for those with some experience in book publishing, The Tao of Book Publicity provides information on the importance of writing a good book and the need for developing a platform, as well as how-to explanations for creating publicity material, including front and back cover text, press releases, Q&As, media and blog tour queries, and newsletter and media lists. 

The Tao of Book Publicity also covers social media, book pricing and sales, book tours and media interviews, and author websites. In addition to explaining how book publicity works, this valuable handbook explores practical topics such as publicity costs, timing, and considerations when hiring a publicist. 

Simple, straightforward, and informative, The Tao of Book Publicity includes expert advice on all aspects of book promotion and is a go-to reference guide for beginning and experienced authors alike.

“I wrote this book to help authors understand what’s involved in promoting a book and what they should expect if this is their first time trying to sell a book they’ve written,” said Margulies. “The Tao of Book Publicity is based on years of experience working with both traditionally and self-published authors and answers the most common questions I hear from new authors when they contact me about representing their work.”

The handbook has received early praise from the publishing community, including Huffington Post contributor and Author Magazine editor, Bill Kenower, Southern California Writers’ Conference director, Michael Stephen Gregory, and UCSD writing instructor, Marni Freedman, who writes, “The Tao of Book Publicity is filled with easy-to-implement, savvy, practical advice from an experienced industry insider. Paula Margulies breaks down the often-confusing landscape of book publicity with clarity, humor, and insight. Don't promote without reading it first!”

 My Book Review: 

In The Tao of Book Publicity, author Paula Margulies utilizes her thirty years of experience as a book publicist to provide authors and the literary community with a comprehensive and informative self-help guide to book promotions.

This is an all inclusive a-to-z guide that provides valuable insight into the common practice of book publicity.  With simple steps that will take the stress out of the marketing side of book publishing, this useful reference guide will definitely benefit the traditional and self-published author.

Utilizing the Tao Philosophy, the author provides the author with informative chapters on all aspects of book promotion: author platform, working with publicists, writing and editing, choosing book covers, press releases, timing of book publicity, booking events, working with book review bloggers and virtual blog tours, book distribution, social media, and links to helpful publishing resources.

As a virtual book tour coordinator and book reviewer/blogger, I think that Ms. Margulies provides authors and those involved in the literary industry with a helpful guide that can be easily referenced back to from time to time.

I think the most important advice that Ms. Margulies provides the author is: "rushing a piece of writing to market without the proper preparation, revision, editing, and packaging, can be a recipe for failure." "Write the best books that you possibly can. If a book is poorly written or riddled with typos and grammatical errors, the book isn't likely to move. Likewise, if the book title is off-putting, or the cover art is wrong for the book or the target audience, the book won't fly when you are trying to promote it." I can't tell you how true this advice really is, as a book reviewer, if the book is poorly edited, than no matter how intriguing the book topic and description is, the enjoyment of reading the book is greatly diminished in the eyes of the readers.

I would definitely recommend adding The Tao of Book Publicity to your collection. This is a resourceful guide for everyone who is involved in the literary industry.