Sunday, October 17, 2021

Release Blitz ~ The Ripening: A Canadian Girl Grows Up by Lily Iona MacKenzie

 

Title: The Ripening: A Canadian Girl Grows Up
Author: Lily Iona MacKenzie
Genre: New Adult/Adult Coming of Age Novel
Paperback Release Date: October 15, 2021
eBook Release: November 14, 2021


Sexual awakening can be messy business.
Tillie Bishop never knew her father, and when her mother abandons her, Tillie quickly becomes streetwise. Even in Calgary, forces of the coming 1960s—a decade of rebellion, discovery, and upheaval—are already at work within her. As a Canadian Girl in Training, she’s tried to follow their Christian guidelines, but she prefers to make up her own. She smokes cigarettes in the church bathroom during the group’s meetings and plays kissing games afterward with neighborhood boys. Barely a teenager, glamour becomes her new guiding star, and she fantasizes about a future of dating men and having sex.

At seventeen, during a stay in Toronto, she becomes a band groupie and throws herself into the “sex, drugs, and rock ’n’ roll” scene—just what she she’s been looking for. Then, seeking more adventure, she moves to San Francisco, drawn to its psychedelic night life, leading to a deeper downward spiral. However, Tillie’s grit and ability to face life’s challenges are inspiring, the seeds for later discovering her artist self.

Tillie takes readers on a wild ride through a period of riotous personal and cultural change. Join her if you dare!

 



eBook Releasing November 14, 2021



One night, Tillie and Gwen had visited a neighborhood bar and picked up a couple of guys. The four of them decided to visit a nearby spiritualist church. Tillie had heard of weird things happening there, and they all thought it would be good for laughs. The minister called up people from the congregation’s past, living or dead. Tillie was hoping to learn something about her real dad. He could be anywhere, maybe even in Frisco.

The four of them joined the long line filing into the building for the evening service. A donation basket sat on a table in front of a woman who was greeting everyone. Some people put checks into it; others bills. Tillie looked around at the notices on the bulletin board as she passed by, pretending she didn’t see the basket or the woman. She needed her money more than they did.

Inside, an usher handed each of them a piece of paper and a pencil, pointing to seats on one side of the pulpit that gave them a side view of the minister. A little tipsy, the four giggled nervously, stumbling over people’s feet on the way to their seats in the wooden pews. The place smelled like dust.

They were the youngest there. Most were middle-aged or older. Some knew each other and chattered away until a tall, stout woman, wearing a white lace dress, climbed the platform. Her short, permed, steel-gray hair tinted blue, she stood behind the podium and looked around the room. Then she spoke with a strong Scottish accent.

“We’re all gathered here this evening to share together in the spirit world and the Divine presence among us. Let us pray.

“Our Creator, we place ourselves in your hands, from whatever religious background we come from, to be melted down and made into new beings. We welcome your Spirit tonight. Help us to connect with our loved ones who’ve gone on to be with You, or to answer any questions residing in our hearts. Amen.”

Tillie, Gwen, and the guys glanced at each other, stifling giggles.

“If you’re a first-time visitor,” and here the minister looked right at Tillie, “we’ll be sending around a basket soon. Write your question on the paper the usher gave you and put it in the basket. If it’s a deceased person you want to ask a question of, give the person’s full name. If you don’t have a loved one you want to contact, just write your question. Don’t give your actual name—just an initial or a nickname if you like. I’ll look at all your inquiries and let the spirits speak through me, God willing.”

Tillie stared at her piece of paper, afraid to put the question in writing, not sure she really wanted an answer. She looked at Gwen, then at the guys. Gwen’s date, Malcolm, and Tillie’s date, Jerome, was Malcolm’s friend. They were all scribbling away.

She looked back at her sheet. Before she could chicken out, she wrote: “Where is my father? What can you tell me about him?” After signing it Athena, she folded the paper several times before dropping it in the basket when it passed. She suddenly felt sober. Cold sober.

The baskets quickly made it around the room, and the ushers carried them up to the minister. She stood, opening her arms wide and throwing back her head: “Almighty Creator, fill our minds with pure thoughts and our hearts with sincere feelings so we can all participate in bringing these concerns to the light of Your wisdom.”

Then she looked at everyone again and gave instructions: “When your answer comes through me, don’t leave. Please sit quietly till the end of the service. We need your presence to help the spirits do their work.”

Soothed by the minister’s Scottish brogue, she was reminded of her mum and grandpa’s accent. She might not have a father she could call on, but she did have roots somewhere. The minister’s voice washed over her like water in a brook, lightly touching Tillie’s body. It went on and on.

Then she said, “This message is for Athena. The subject of your inquiry is married and currently has two children.”

Married? Two children?
“You’ll find your father in Calgary.”
Calgary! He’d been there all the time and he’d never looked up his daughter? Tillie had pictured him on the road, his life filled with ad- ventures, father and daughter two chips off the old block. But married? In Calgary?

She closed her eyes and pretended she was sleeping.




A Canadian by birth, a high school dropout, and a mother at 17, in Lily Iona MacKenzie’s early years, she supported herself as a stock girl, as a long-distance operator, and as a secretary. She also was a cocktail waitress at San Francisco’s Fairmont Hotel, briefly broke into the male-dominated world of the docks as a longshoreman (she was the first woman to work on the SF docks and almost got her legs broken), founded and managed a homeless shelter in Marin County, co-created The Story Shoppe, a weekly radio program for children that aired on KTIM in Marin, and eventually earned two Master’s degrees (one in Creative writing and one in the Humanities).

She has published poetry, short fiction, and non-fiction in over 165 venues. She also has published three novels: Fling! (2015), Curva Peligrosa, (2017), and Freefall: A Divine Comedy (2019). A sequel to Freefall, The Ripening: A Canadian Girl Grows Up, will come out in October 2021. Her poetry collection All This was published in 2011, and her poetry chapbook No More Kings in 2020. She currently teaches creative writing at the University of San Francisco’s Fromm Institute for Lifelong Learning and blogs at http://lilyionamackenzie.com.



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Saturday, October 16, 2021

Book Tour ~ QUEST by Victoria Danann

 

 


Quest

Warlock Coven Book 1

by Victoria Danann

Genre: Paranormal SciFi Fantasy Romance



AN INTRODUCTION to the fun making, risk taking, hard loving members of the Second Sursolid Warlock Coven.

Seven warlocks. Seven contests made more interesting by magical handicaps and strangers for teammates.

From the "Queen of Alpha Males", Victoria Danann (Slashed Reads). The warlocks as introduced in Wednesday, Witches of Wimberley, are taking you on the adventure of a lifetime.

Heart-seizing adventure.
Breathless suspense.
Romance to die for.
Let's find out if you want more!!

LET THE GAME BEGIN!

It's hard to find new experiences when you're hundreds of years old and have no financial or geographical limitations. But when it was Rally's turn to suggest the next "Boredom Break", they got the adventure they were craving and the romance they wanted, even if they hadn't known they wanted it.


**Only .99 cents!!**

Goodreads * Amazon


EXCERPT FROM Quest, Warlock Coven Book One




Each and every coven member stared at Rally with a blank look until Turf started

laughing. “Oh, well. Let me make sure I’ve got this straight. We don’t know what

we’ll be doing, why we’re doing it, or who we’re doing it with. The only thing we

know for sure is that we’ll have to deal with fucking Breitlingers. And that means

we could end the game with nothing to show for it but funeral rites for our friends,”

Turf said what everybody was thinking out loud. 

“All true,” Rally said, “but apparently there are a group of artifacts that, if gathered

together in the same place, could create a power shift. In comic book terms, you

might call it a win for the good guys.”

“Would it be too great an assumption to take it that we’re the good guys?” Aodh asked.No, it wouldn’t,” Rally said. “And, yes, we are. The good guys, I mean. Pertama says. . .”“Why don’t we just hold up right there?” Turf jumped in. “How did this convo come about? Did the crypt-keeper ask you over for psychotherapy?”

Rally stared at Turf for a few beats. “If you’re referring to Pertama as the crypt-keeper’, you’re the one in need of psychotherapy. He’s been prophet to warlocks for. . . ell, as long as there’ve been warlocks, I guess. You need to show him a little respect.”Wolfram sighed, rested his elbows on his knees, and said, “Second that. I want to hear everything he said before I make up my mind.”

Rally nodded. “As to how I came to be talking to him, he sent

e a wedding present. I sent a thank you. He responded by teleporting

me to his, ah. . . cave?

Anyway, he broad-brushed this competition thing and asked me to

pass along

that he thinks we should enter.”

“Hate to sound like I’m stuck on a loop,” Turf said, “but again, what do we

get out of this?”

“In Turf terms,” Rally said, “something different. In coven terms, it’s a

chance to bring in something like a magical Age of Aquarius.”

Aodh laughed. “Good one.”

“No. Really,” Rally said, not sharing the amusement. “There are seven

legs of the race. One of seven artifacts is up for grabs during each leg.

The first team to get the thing and hold onto it long enough to cross the

finish line gets to keep it. The only way we find out what happens if all

seven artifacts end up in the same place at the same time is if we,” his hand

made a circular motion to indicate the coven, “enter and win every leg.”

“Sounds intense,” Jean Mar said.

Turf scoffed. “If you believe the old buzzard’s on the level and not delusional.”

Mallach ignored Turf. Like everybody else. “High pressure for sure.”

“Yeah,” Rally agreed. “I said the same thing to Pertama. Know what he said?”

The others murmured an interest. “That we’ve been training for this for

centuries while we thought we were just fucking around.”

Wolfram cocked his head. “Pertama said ‘fucking around’?”

Rally turned to Wolfram. “No. Paraphrasing.”

“Come on,” Turf said, “Y’all are not buying into this. It’s. . .


preposterous.”

“Such a big word for such a small mind,” Aodh said. “Except

for a teeny

fraction of supernatural outliers, the world’s population of

two-legged creatures would say the idea of real warlocks is preposterous.”

“He has a point,” Jean Mar said. 

Turf made a scoffing noise. “Look. None of us mind being called crazy.

We do stuff that’s extreme, even for us. But this ain’t crazy. It’s insane.”

“Perhaps it’s a language issue, but I don’t get the difference,” said Jean Mar.

Aodh was quick to reassure Jean Mar that there was nothing wrong with his English.

“Neither does anybody else. The difference exists solely in

his own mind.”

“Pros and cons?” Wolfram suggested, using verbal shorthand.

Mallach turned to Rally. “Do we have all the deets on the table?”

Rally nodded. “Yeah. You know what I know.”

“Madness,” Turf muttered. 

“Knock it off,” Harm said. “Let’s hear the ins and outs.”

Aodh shot him Turf a look. “Harm’s right. Everybody knows where you

stand without further belaborin’ of the point.” He turned toward Rally.

“There’s a couple of things I’d like to know. First, who else is entering.

Second, I’m no’ clear on the rules.”

Rally moved to sit at the edge of his tufted leather chair. It gave him a

couple of inches of extra height, not to mention an added air of authority.

“It’s invitational. We’ve been given seven out of twenty-eight invitations.

The other twenty-one have been offered to pretty much the whole

supernatural world. If we’re in, we’ll be competing against, you know,

demons, midgarts, fae, sorceri . . . maybe weres. I don’t know. Those

that accept the invitations will be sending their best.

“Each leg has a winning team and a losing team. If you win an artifact,

you’re done. If you’re last, you’re done.”

Wolfram spoke up. “So you could have a demon for a teammate.

Say you win. Who gets the artifact?”

“That’s a good question,” Rally said. “I don’t know. I guess you work it

out between you.”

Turf barked out a laugh before saying, “Work it out with demons!”  

Jean Mar said, “I hate to say this, but Martins is right. Demons do not

play well with others.”

“We’re getting ahead of ourselves,” Rally said. “I just. . . I don’t think

Pertama would say we should enter without a good reason.”

“Also a good point,” Jean Mar said.

“Congratulations, Frenchie,” Turf said. “I’ll bet you were a fine jellyfish

in a former life.”

Unfazed by ridicule, Jean Mar lifted and dropped a shoulder. “Be careful,

mon ami. The jellyfish sting is most unpleasant.”

“So,” Mallach said, “one of us has to win every challenge and none of

us can ever be last.”

Everyone looked toward Rally for confirmation. “That’s my understanding.

Yeah.”

“And what, may I ask, are the challenges to be?”

Rally could tell by Aohd’s question, and by knowing him so well,

that

he was definitely interested. “No one knows. Everybody starts at the

same place with the same clues,” Rally said.

“Weird,” Jean mar offered.

“Well said.” Aodh clapped his hands together and rose making a gesture

with his right hand that resembled a complicated means of knuckle cracking.

A holographic screen, about the size of a common dry erase board,

appeared and hovered in the air. Aodh used his finger to draw a P column

and a C column. “First up in the tank?” he asked.

“I have a pro,” Rally said, “It’s something to do.”

Sounding like a game show host, Aodh said, “Man says something

to do.”

He looked at the holographic board and the words “something to do”

appeared in one-inch flames that flared then died away leaving glowing

text next to Pro number one.

“I have a con,” Wolfram said. “Breitlingers.”

“And the big dog says Breitlingers,” Aodh pointed at the board and the

word appeared as number one under the C column. 

“I’d like to put an asterisk next to that one,” Jean Mar said. 

“Asterisk next to Breitlingers,” Aodh pointed at the board and an asterisk

flamed to life then died.

“Are they really that bad?” Harm asked.

Wolfram gave up a long sigh. Aodh looked away. 

“Yeah,” Rally said quietly. “Being real. There are only two kinds of good

Breitlinger. Dead or sound asleep.”

“So they’re. . .?” Harm started to ask.

“Succubi,” Turf answered.

Mallach jumped in. “And not the good kind.”

Harm stared at Mallach. “There’s a good kind of succubi?”

Mallach unsuccessfully fought a grin for a few minutes before Jean Mar

playfully pushed him off the couch. 

“Am I supposed to feel like I know more than when I asked if they’re bad?”

Harm said. 

“If they wake up, they’ll be consumed by a compulsion to mate with us,”

Wolfram said. 

The room fell quiet for a few beats. “And that’s bad because. . .?”

Harm asked. When no one replied, he ventured, “They’re hideous?”

“They’re not hideous,” Mallach said. “Just insistent.”

Jean Mar nodded. “Really insistent.”

“And lethal,” Turf added. “Don’t forget the lethal part.”

“We’re not forgettin’,” Aodh said. “If they’re successful, they like to

kill us off afterward. They only beget daughters and they’re adamant

about not sharing custody.”

“So just don’t fuck them,” Harm said. “Problem solved.” The other six s

hared looks and glances. “Okay. What am I missing?”

“When Mallach said they’re insistent,” Aodh said, “he means they’re

strong and they hunt in packs.”

“Hunt?” Harm was beginning to sound alarmed. “In packs?”

The others

nodded, refusing to meet his eyes. The warlocks looking

uncharacteristically uncomfortable with the topic led Harm straight

to a horrific guess. 

“Like. . . gang rape?”

“Well,” Rally said. “Sort of. There’s no point in sugarcoating it.”

 “So why are we even talking about this?” Harm asked. “I don’t car

e about pros and cons. I’m not up for, uh . . . that.”

 Jean Mar answered. “If boredom breaks didn’t come with risks,

they’d

be boring? No?” 

“Look at it this way,” Aodh said, “you’d die happy.”

Mallach formed a ball of blue flame and threw it at Aodh, who

easily

deflected and doused it, laughing. “Very funny, Aodh. But Breitlingers

are nothing to laugh about.”

“Everythin’ is somethin’ to laugh about,” said Aodh. “

“Besides,” Rally continued, undeterred, “If we’re all racing,

they’ll

split up

. There’re not that many of them left.”

“He’s right,” Aodh said, “ there’d probably be, say, two after

each of us.

‘Twould be somewhat manageable.”

Harm gaped before finally managing to say, “Somewhat?”

“We’re also at a disadvantage because the Breitlingers

won’t be i

nterfering with the others,” Mallach said. 

“Right ye are. Goes without sayin’,” Aodh said,

“Anythin’ else?”

“Ah, yes,” Jean Mar said. “We don’t know the prize. Or

prizes.”

“Is that a pro or a con?” Aodh asked. 

“Con,” Jean Mar said at the same time Rally said, “Pro.”

Rally spoke first. “I think not knowing what we’re racing

for makes

it more exciting. The point of boredom breaks isn’t to

win prizes.

It’s to give us a new experience. What’s a better counter

to boredom

that jumping off into the unknown?”

“That is not an informed decision. That is ridiculous,”

Jean Mar said. 

Rally chuckled. “Informed decision? When did you get so

straight-laced?”

“I’m not straight-laced, whatever that is, but I do have a

brain,” Jean Mar defended.

“Since when?” Turf asked. 

Aodh decided to end the argument. He turned to the display. “Ref says

the point goes in both columns. What else?”

“Random teammate assignments. Gods only know who we could

end up with,” Turf said. 

“So ‘tis a con then?” Aodh couldn’t resist pushing Turf’s buttons.

“Yes, Aodh,” Turf mocked patience. “Put it in the bad column.”

“Hold on,” Rally said. “Maybe this one needs to go in both columns.”

“How do you figure that?” Mallach asked.

“Because the factor of unknown, not knowing who we’re going to draw. . .

that is for sure not boring,” Rally replied. 

Turf narrowed his eyes. “Easy for you to say since you already know

who your partner is.”

Rally chuckled. 

Jean Mar shrugged. “Rally’s right. Not knowing who we’ll

be paired

with is not boring. Both columns is okay with me.”

“Someone needs to state the obvious,” Wolfram said. “It’s a

supernatural event. That means we could be killed.”

Jean Mar pointed to the holograph board. “That is a con.”

“When has fear of bein’ killed ever stopped us from doin’ what we

want? Aodh said as he directed flamed text to light up the board

under the con column.

To everybody’s surprise, Turf said, “Man’s right. There’re a lot of good

reasons to pass on this suggestion, but pussying out isn’t one of them.”

That simple statement threw down a gauntlet clearly understood by

everybody in the room, as could be told by the collective sigh.

“We don’t

decide boredom breaks based on what’s safest.”

“Yeah. If we’re going there, we might as well buy Buicks,

live in the

suburbs and sell insurance,” Mallach said. “Maybe the element of

risk goes in the pro column.”

Nodding, Aodh said, “Risk is the heart of boredom breaks.”

“Let’s vote,” Wolfram said. “But before we do, let’s agree that we

will all abide by the majority. Like it or not.” After nods and murmurs,

he clarified. “Any dissenters speak up. Say it clearly and say it now.”

Silence. 

“Alrighty then,” Aodh said. “Who’s in?”

Rally raised his hand without hesitation. Aodh and Turf quickly

added their agreement. Jean Mar, Mallach, and Wolfram followed

one at a time until there was only one left. Harm. 

Harm was relatively new to the coven; relatively meaning that the

others had been part of a pledged collective for hundreds of years.

He wasn’t sure he was wholeheartedly up for anything, but he was

sure he didn’t want to be kicked out. And he was just as sure that

he didn’t want the others to think less of him. 

He raised his hand. 

With a grin Aodh waved his hand and the holographic board

disappeared. “The ayes have it then. Looks like we’re bound

for glory.”

“I’m going home to write my eulogy,” Harm told Jean Mar.

“Just in case.”

Overhearing that, Turf said, “You think people would come to

your sendoff?”



New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of nineteen romances. Victoria's Knights of Black Swan series won BEST PARANORMAL ROMANCE SERIES FIVE YEARS IN A ROW. Reviewers Choice Awards, The Paranormal Romance Guild. Eight times #1 Amazon bestseller. Over two million books sold. Her paranormal romances come with uniquely fresh perspectives on "imaginary" creatures, characters, and themes. She adds a dash of scifi, a flourish of fantasy, enough humor to make you laugh out loud, and enough steam to make you squirm in your chair. Her heroines are independent femmes with flaws and minds of their own whether they are aliens, witches, demonologists, psychics, past life therapists. Her heroes are hot and hunky, but they also have brains, character, and good manners. **Usually. Victoria lives in The Woodlands, Texas with her husband and a very smart, mostly black German Shepherd dog.


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