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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Lights Over Emerald Creek #Excerpt by @ShelleyDavidow #AmReading #SciFi #YA

The Phonecall

‘Hi this is Lucy.’
‘Lucy, it’s Jonathan. So glad you’re there.’ The roundness and beauty of rocky hills and misty lochs sounded in his voice. It was a young voice, but had an edge of manhood about it. He wasn’t a boy.
Warmth seeped from the top of her head, into her heart.
‘That’s nice of you to call,’ she said, desperately casual. ‘What time is it there?’
‘It’s almost seven,’ he said. ‘But I’ve been up for hours.’ She liked the way he rolled his ‘r’s. ‘I can hear the sun in your voice,’ he said.
‘Really?’ she laughed. ‘But it’s been raining all day!’
He laughed too. ‘I can still hear it. It must be warm there.’
‘Yeah, sticky and hot. But I want to know everything. Is this going to be expensive for you?’
‘Not at all. In fact I have this calling card that’s a really good deal. I can call you cheaper than I can call my neighbours.’
‘What does it look like in Scotland today?’ Lucy said, nervously winding a pipe of hair around her finger and then sticking the end into her mouth.
‘It’s grey, and it’s freezing. The Firth of Forth is foaming and frothy, and beating the land into shape, fed by the cold North Sea. The clouds are low and dense. People are really grumpy as they huddle against the wind and drag themselves to work. But I’m lucky … I’m all bundled up in my pyjamas listening to cheesy eighties music in my grandpa-slippers, drinking hot tea and talking to a girl with a beautiful sunny voice on the other side of the world.’
Lucy felt herself blush.
‘What’s Australia like today?’
‘It’s hot. Probably thirty-four degrees. That’s Celsius. Humid too. Been raining all this time. From my window I can see two Kookaburras — I gave them names a while back — Kevin and Evan. My dog Jaffa’s at my feet. The hills are green outside and … I don’t know …’ she laughed. ‘Is this small talk and should we get to the point?’
Jonathan laughed too. ‘If you like. Kookaburras. I can hardly imagine.’
‘Yeah, sometimes if you give Kevin a juicy bit of sausage outside our kitchen and you time it right you can gently stroke his back as he eats. You have to be fast though. Sneak in a cuddle before he turns his beak on you.’
‘I’m jealous,’ Jonathan said. ‘Well, I wish I could see you Lucy. No chance of Skype?’
‘Maybe it’s better you don’t see me anyway, I’m as pale as an albino earthworm after months without sun. But I’d like to see you, if I could.’
‘Well, that wouldn’t be fair, would it?’
‘I suppose not. Would you send me a picture? Email it?’
‘Only if you send me one at the exact same time,’ she said smiling. ‘Whether you’re an earthworm or not.’

Lucy Wright, sixteen and a paraplegic after a recent car accident that took her mother’s life, lives in Queensland on a 10,000 acre farm with her father. When Lucy investigates strange lights over the creek at the bottom of the property, she discovers a mystery that links the lights to the science of cymatics and Scotland’s ancient Rosslyn Chapel.
But beyond the chapel is an even larger mystery. One that links the music the chapel contains to Norway’s mysterious Hessdalen lights, and beyond that to Saturn and to the stars. Lucy’s discoveries catapult her into a parallel universe connected to our own by means of resonance and sound, where a newly emerging world trembles on the edge of disaster. As realities divide, her mission in this new world is revealed and she finds herself part of a love story that will span the galaxy.

Sample & Purchase Links 

Genre - Young Adult SF
Rating - PG
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Connect with Shelley Davidow on Facebook & Twitter

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Pendelton Wallace on Studying Other Authors #WriteTip #SelfPub #AmWriting

Practical Advice for Beginning Fiction (or other genre) Writers

Read, read, read. You need to know your genre. If you’re writing about zombies and vampires, what kind of mythology has already been created? Look for common threads in other works in your genre. Get to know what the reader expects, then excite and thrill them. Exceed their expectations.

Study other authors; find out what makes their stories successful. If you’re writing Romance novels, then read the leading authors in that genre. If you write horror, read everything Steven King has written. Learn from the experts.

I really admire Elizabeth George. I try to write character driven thrillers as she writes character driven mysteries. This goes against the grain. Most thrillers are plot driven and all action. If you read The Da Vinci Code, you will notice that there is no character development in the entire novel. The characters are the same at the end of the book that they were at the beginning. I want my characters to have an arc and to grow and develop as a result of the situations they are placed in. But I got this from reading many, many thrillers and consciously deciding what I wanted to do.

Be disciplined. Create your writing time and environment, then stick to it. I write every morning, seven days a week. It’s my most creative time. I get up, make coffee and sit down at my computer. After a couple of hours, I get up, make breakfast, then go back to work.

When I was working, I got up at 4:30 every morning and wrote for two hours before I went to work. I produced a prodigious amount of work.

Don’t let life’s little detours stop you. We all have them. I sometimes have temporary road blocks, but I always get back to work as soon as possible. As I write this, we are six miles off of Cape Colonet Mexico, heading north for San Diego.

Before we left La Paz, the bearings on the drive shaft on my boat burned out. We spent two long hard weeks repairing them and getting ready for the voyage. I got no writing done during this period.

However, as soon as we were off shore and headed north, I started writing everyday again.

Sometimes you experience hardships. I can’t tell you how hard it is to type when the boat is heeled over and I keep sliding away from the keyboard. But, I keep writing anyway. I have to maintain my discipline.

Find a writers’ critique group. I can’t over emphasize the importance of having peers review your work. They find all sorts of little (and big) problems with your writing that you might miss.

Look hard and find a group of people who can help you. I was in two critique groups before I found the right one.

The first group was a group of ladies that were hobbyist and beginning writers. They didn’t want to say anything negative. They were very nice people, but they weren’t helping me. I needed to hear what was wrong with my writing.

The second group included a woman who was brutally honest. She tore me to pieces and I went home thinking I would never write again. After three or four days, I finally admitted that she had a point and I needed to re-work that piece.

The problem was not her criticism, but how she gave it. I always valued what she had to say, but she said it in such a mean way that it was crushing.

Finally, I was lucky enough to fall in with a group of writers who were all better than me. I listened and learned, contributing what I could. They really made me a writer.

Be persistent. Never give up. Never stop trying. So what if an agent rejects your work? That’s only one person’s opinion. Until you have twenty or thirty rejections, just keep going. When you reach critical mass on rejections, then it’s time to stop and think about what you’re doing. What can you change to make your work more appealing.

But for heaven’s sake, don’t give up. Keep at it.

Let me leave you with a little story.

As I was preparing to make my epic voyage south to Mexico, I decided that I needed to read John Steinbeck’s The Log of the Sea of Cortez. Steinbeck is one of my favorite authors and I was surprised that I hadn’t read this book yet.

Finding the Log was not easy. Your corner bookstore probably doesn’t carry it. While I was searching for a copy, I discovered that Steinbeck wrote a book about pirates, A Cup of Gold. That’s right, one of my favorite authors wrote a pirate tale about Captain Morgan and I never heard of it.

I increased my search parameters and eventually found both The Log of the Sea of Cortez and A Cup of Gold.

I eagerly read A Cup of Gold and learned an important lesson. It was Steinbeck’s first book, and it was awful. If he could start out with a book this bad and still become John Steinbeck, then there is hope for all of us.

Keep at it. Work hard every day. Learn. Grow. Get better at your craft. Success does not come to the faint of heart.

If Clive Cussler had written Ugly Betty, it would be Hacker for Hire. 

Hacker for Hire, a suspense novel about corporate greed and industrial espionage, is the second book in a series about Latino computer security analyst Ted Higuera and his best friend, para-legal Chris Hardwick. 

The goofy, off-beat Ted Higuera, son of Mexican immigrants, grew up in East LA. An unlikely football scholarship brought him to Seattle. 

Chris, Ted’s college roommate, grew up with a silver spoon in his mouth. His father is the head of one of Seattle’s most prestigious law firms. 

Ted’s first job out of college leads him into the world of organized crime where he faces a brutal beating. After being rescued by beautiful private investigator Catrina Flaherty, Ted decides to go to work for her. 

Catrina is hired by a large computer corporation to find a leak in their corporate boardroom when the previous consultant is found floating in Elliot Bay. 

Ted discovers that Chris’s firm has been retained by their prime suspect. Now he and Chris are working opposite sides of the same case. 

Ted and Catrina are led deep into Seattle’s Hi-Tech world as they stalk the killer. But the killer is also hunting them. Can Ted find the killer before the killer finds him? 
Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre – Mystery, Thriller
Rating – R
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Thursday, September 11, 2014

The Dangerous Writing Mind of Roland Hughes #Dystopian #AmReading #AmWriting

I must warn you, my mind is a dangerous place.  My friends have been hearing that since we were teenagers but it wasn’t until I started writing novels that they began to realize it was just a joke.
As a writer/author one question gets asked countless times.  I has many different wordings, but it is the same question.  “What lead you to write this story?”  “What was going through your mind as you wrote this story?”  “How did you come up with the idea for this story?”  The wording doesn’t matter, it is the same question no matter how it is phrased.  What they are really asking, even if they won’t admit it is “How can I (or my readers) write a story like this?”
Most author interviews I’ve read seems to indicate they become calloused from this question and toss out the same response no matter how it is phrased, like a politician with talking points.  In the past I have been innocent and tried to actually answer the way it was phrased in a politically correct manner.  Nobody wants to hear the honest answer.  The honest answer is “You can’t because I certainly didn’t.”
Shocked?  It’s true.  I didn’t get a writing degree, create an outline, or follow any rules other than grammar and spelling.  The character chose to tell its story.  I wrote it down as best I could then fixed a few things.  Quite honestly, if you wish to become a writer you just need to be adequate with spelling and grammar, able to hire professional editing and, most importantly, listen to the character.
If you are not a writer and reading this I fully understand if you are shaking your head.  It defies what most people are told when they are young, but it is the truth.  If you want to know how to be the kind of author who gets some good/great reviews on their work the honest answer is “you cannot be told.”  There is no response or set of rules one can provide you with.  There is no formula to creating something nobody has ever thought of before.  There is no college course you can take or degree you can get which will make you an author who gets good/great reviews no matter what admissions tells you when you are handing over your money.
You can learn all you need to know by reading two short stories in a single book.  The book is Skeleton Crew.  The first short story to read out of it is Ballad of the Flexible Bullet.  This simple tale explains in detail what the mind of a writer is really like and where stories really come from.  If you don’t believe that after reading it then either switch to non-fiction writing or choose a new line of work.
The second story you need to read (and in this order) is Word Processor of the Gods.  This one story tells you everything you need to know about every story you will ever write.  Your mind and story are both free to travel as far as they wish if and only if they keep a tether to that subset of things which define humanity.
Fornit Some Fornus

“John Smith: Last Known Survivor of the Microsoft Wars” is one big interview. It is a transcript of a dialogue between “John Smith” (who, as the title of the book implies is the last known survivor of the Microsoft wars) and the interviewer for a prominent news organization.
Buy Now @ Amazon & B&N
Genre – Dystopian Fiction
Rating – PG
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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

@KentBurden on What You’re Going to Write & How to Decide #NonFiction #Wellness #AmWriting

I often get the question “how do you decide what you’re going to write about?” it’s a pretty valid question, unlike someone who writes fiction I don’t have to come up with a story or a plot I just have to come up with a subject, but what subject? As a health and wellness expert my choices are endless, exercise, stress reduction, weight loss, nutrition and all the sub categories that go along with healthy living. But how do you decide what to spend your valuable time and energy writing when we all know that some books will sell and some won’t. How to chose a topic that people will want to buy and will be something I want to delve deeply into. I’ve written 7 books (and counting) and I’ve chosen subjects based on key word searches, surveys, market research and a coin flip. But sometimes a topic just chooses you.
 A few years ago while working at a high end California spa,  I was sitting at my desk in my office reading a popular men’s magazine (I was on my break– I swear) when I came across an article that said new research proved that sitting for extended periods of time increased your risk of getting diseases like diabetes, heart disease obesity and certain forms of cancer and that doing 30-60 minutes of exercise a day wasn’t enough to counteract the damage that sitting did. The article even claimed that as far as negative health effects were concerned, sitting was just as bad as smoking! To top it off it stated that people who sat more during the day were heavier than people who moved around and spent more time standing during the day regardless of how much they exercised.
I remember sitting there feeling like I had just been kicked in the crotch by Chuck Liddell. This is not what they had taught me in my six years of college. It’s not in the literature they give you for your personal trainer certification and no one was talking about this at fitness conferences. This had to be complete and utter bull s#!t. So I did some research myself and what I found shocked me, and the deeper I dug the more I began to think this new discovery might just have merit. 
The first thing I did was go back through my records. As a trainer you always have clients that trouble you. They work hard in their sessions, say their doing all the things you tell them to do on their own, insist they are sticking to their diet program, but never can get to the goal weight loss they set or they can’t seem to get their blood work numbers were they need to be. I always chalked it up to the “they think they are but there not syndrome”. Many people fool themselves into thinking they are doing things that they aren’t actually doing, you’ve seen it. The person who says they eat healthy but over the course of the day eats 20 mini Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups from the office candy dish and then scarf down half a quart of Ben & Jerry’s Chunky Monkey Ice Cream while watching Game Of Thrones just before bed. But maybe I was wrong, maybe they had been doing everything I had been telling them to do but what I was telling them to do just wasn’t enough. Low and behold when I checked all of my trouble clients had jobs like accountant, lawyer, software designer and author all jobs that had them sitting all day long.
I called a couple of the researchers that had been quoted in the article and came away with the distinct feeling that this was big. I mean the-sky-is-falling big. This was when I decided I HAD to write the book. I pulled together all the research I could find, I talked to all the major players in the field. I collected opinions on how best to counteract the deadly effects of prolonged sitting,  then created movements that could be done anywhere (even in the office) so people could discover new ways to be healthy. For me the hardest part was figuring out how to make all these facts and medical research interesting enough to actually read. The bottom line is I was on fire!  I needed to spread the word and get these simple, effective tools into people’s hands. That’s how my book, “Is Your Chair Killing You? A Healthier You in 8 Minutes a Day” was born. No market research, no key word searches and no coin flips. It also happens to be my bestselling book so far. Things that make you go hmmmmm.

Sitting for extended periods of time is as bad for your health as smoking cigarettes. And exercising for 30-60 minutes a day isn’t enough to undo the damage from extended periods of sitting. Is Your Chair Killing You reveals shocking new research showing that sitting for long periods greatly increases your risk of developing obesity, heart disease, diabetes, stroke and cancer. Our bodies were designed to move constantly over the course of the day, but most of us sit for hours a day at work and at home! Fitness and wellness expert and award-winning author Kent Burden has created brief, simple movements you can incorporate into your daily life to combat the damaging effects of sitting. These simple movements, done standing for 1-5 minutes each hour will burn calories, energize and refresh you, and you won’t even break a sweat; you’ll even improve your back pain. This book is a how-to for weight loss and disease prevention. Read this book–you’ll be healthier in as little as 8 minutes a day.
Nominated for the Dan Poynter Global Ebook Awards and won honorable mention at the Los Angeles Book Festival
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Genre – Non-Fiction
Rating – G
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Saturday, September 6, 2014

10 Things You Didn’t Know About LOCK READY by @JimRada #Historical #Fiction #AmReading

10 Things You Didn’t Know About Lock Ready
I was asked to give you a little insight on me by telling you 10 things that you might not realize about my newest historical novel, Lock Ready.
  1. While Lock Ready is the last book in the Canawlers trilogy, I also wrote a short novella using the same characters. The novella was written as a promotional item for Canalfest in 2003. The story is called The Race and is set 10 years after Lock Ready. While the hard copy version is out of print, you can still purchase an e-book version.
  2. It has been 13 years since the first book in the trilogy was published. Canawlers came out in 2001 and the second book, Between Rail and River, was published in 2003.
  3. Lock Ready is the first historical novel that I’ve written since 2007. After October Mourning was published that year, I wound up working on a number of non-fiction history projects and my fiction writing kept being put on the back burner.
  4. The Canawlers trilogy was inspired by a bike ride. I biked the C&O Canal towpath with my wife in 2000. During that 5-day trip, I realized that a lot of history had happened along the C&O Canal. Being a writer, I started trying to figure out a story that I could build around it. Once I realized that the most-interesting period along the canal was probably during the Civil War, I started thinking about how the canal and war collided and came up withCanawlers.
  5. Hugh Fitzgerald, who was killed in the first book of the trilogy, Canawlers, was supposed to live. I hit a snag during my first draft of the book and couldn’t move it forward. When I started examining the structure of the story and character arcs, I realized that Hugh needed to be written out of the story. Doing so put an obstacle between David and Alice, was the catalyst for George joining the army and forced Alice to stand on her own.
  6. Writing the Canawlers trilogy led to my interest in history. Once Canawlers was written, my editor at theCumberland Times-News where I was working started giving me assignments that were history oriented. One of these assignments led to me writing my second historical novel, but more importantly, it led to me realizing that history was filled with lots of interesting stories.
  7. I had planned at one point to write a Canawlers novel set in 1924. I imagined that the story would be told by an elderly Tony Fitzgerald as the canal was preparing to close. I originally put the story off because it was such a large gap in time between Lock Ready and the novel. I realized that if I was going to write that story, it would either have to stand alone or I would have to write a couple books that bridged that gap between Lock Ready and the 1924 book.
  8. I have a small collection of C&O Canal memorabilia. This includes nails from canal books, old books, bank notes and maps. I had started gathering the items originally to help with my research, but it evolved into adding some of the ephemera. It probably isn’t worth too much, but it’s a nice collection.
  9. The final version of Lock Ready is far different than the original drafts. One of the reasons that it took me so long to write Lock Ready is that I kept changing the story. I had always known how I wanted the story to end, but just about everything else changed at one time or another. Certain story lines just didn’t work out. I kept bits and pieces, researched more and developed new story lines. Once things finally clicked, writing the entire story worked out pretty easily.
  10. One of the fun research trips I did for the Canawlers trilogy was to ride on a canal boat. Though the canal is no longer in service, there are stretches that the National Park Service keeps operational and where you can ride a canal boat through a lock. I like the Great Falls Visitors Center. It is set back in the woods and the NPS personnel dress in period costume. You feel like you are stepping back in time. Riding the boat through the lock is very fun, but even in the short ride, you can see how laid back life was generally on the canal.

The Civil War split the United States and now it has split the Fitzgerald Family. Although George Fitzgerald has returned from the war, his sister Elizabeth Fitzgerald has chosen to remain in Washington to volunteer as a nurse. 

The ex-Confederate spy, David Windover, has given up on his dream of being with Alice Fitzgerald and is trying to move on with his life in Cumberland, Md. Alice and her sons continue to haul coal along the 184.5-mile-long C&O Canal. It is dangerous work, though, during war time because the canal runs along the Potomac River and between the North and South. 

Having had to endured death and loss already, Alice wonders whether remaining on the canal is worth the cost. She wants her family reunited and safe, but she can’t reconcile her feelings between David and her dead husband. Her adopted son, Tony, has his own questions that he is trying to answer. He wants to know who he is and if his birth mother ever loved him. 

As he tries to find out more about his birth mother and father, he stumbles onto a plan by Confederate sympathizers to sabotage the canal and burn dozens of canal boats. He enlists David’s help to try and disrupt the plot before it endangers his new family, but first they will have find out who is behind the plot.

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Genre – Historical Fiction
Rating – PG-13
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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

THE BEAUTIFUL AMERICAN #Excerpt by @M_Holdsworth #WomensFic #HistFic

from THE BEAUTIFUL AMERICAN by Marilyn Holdsworth
A stiff breeze was blowing across the Chesapeake Bay the next morning when the Cincinnatus pulled away from Cheapside Wharf, leaving Baltimore Harbor to make her way toward the open seas. Although it was early, all the ship’s passengers gathered on deck for the sailing. I stood at the railing, holding Eliza’s hand. The wind blew through our hair, as we watched the quay grow smaller and smaller.
“Do you think we’ll ever come back, Jasmine?” Eliza suddenly whispered, clutching my hand tightly.
“Course we be comin’ back,” I told her stoutly, hoping I sounded more sure than I was feeling. The roll and pitch of the ship plowing through the waves gave me little assurance. I felt like I was leaving everything the least bit familiar and comforting behind forever. I had heard Master Monroe talking to Mistress Elizabeth about gaining her sea legs, and I wondered about my own now as I watched the shoreline being replaced with the heaving, rolling seascape before us.
We had been sailing for about four hours when the sky suddenly darkened and the waves grew higher and heavier. Captain Joshua Barney walked the deck advising all of us to go to our cabins. “Ladies,” he warned, “you must prepare yourselves for a bit of roughness. I fear a slight squall is building.”
Rain pelted, the wind howled, and great waves crashed over the ship’s side,sending torrents of water rushing along the deck. The Cincinnatus pitched and rolled unmercifully for the rest of the afternoon and through the night. I lay on my floor pallet next to Eliza’s bunk, listening to her tossing and crying. Too wretchedly sick to comfort her, I clutched my charm bag and rabbit’s foot, praying that the good lord would take me. “Dear, lawd,” I prayed, “I be ready if youse would only take me now.”
You can read more about The Beautiful American, by Marilyn Holdsworth at:

As a novelist, I draw on many real life experiences to provide background for my books. After completing studies in Literature and History at Occidental College, I became a staff writer on a travel magazine, and throughout my career I have traveled extensively all over the world. Because I love horses, I owned and trained them. I support horse rescue and wild mustang preservation. Based on my experience with horses and my research on abuse issues, I wrote Pegasus.

As a descendant of James Monroe, I did extensive research at the James Monroe Museum in Virginia about him and his wife Elizabeth Kortright Monroe. I also visited their home, Ashlawn/Highland in Albemarle County. This resulted in my novel, The Beautiful American. Making Wishes, was based partly on my experiences as creator, owner and operator of a greeting card company.

Making Wishes

Elloree Prince is an attractive, creative young woman who marries a wealthy businessman, Tom Randall. After courting his bride with unrelenting determination, Tom moves her into old-moneyed Oak View, where generations of Randalls have lived for years. Outwardly, Elloree appears to settle into raising their two sons within Oak View's stifling social structure, but inwardly, she yearns for her artistic work. 

An unexpected phone call from Mark Williams, her former employer, offers her the career opportunity of a lifetime, and she must make a choice. She is torn between her devotion to her sons and her love for her work. Her decision to return to Wishes, Inc. brings dramatic life changes to her and the people she loves.

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Genre - Women's fiction
Rating – PG-13


"Abby Long is thrilled when she offers the winning bid for an antique desk at an auction. With its intricately inlaid woods and elegant style, the desk is perfect for Abby; it is the gift she promised herself to finally celebrate her thriving antique business. She has no idea that the antique desk holds a secret that will lead her on a fascinating, life-changing journey back in time.
When Abby discovers a hidden diary stuffed inside a secret compartment in the desk, she can hardly wait to read the spidery, faded script. As she carefully turns the tattered pages, she reads the captivating story of two remarkable women from opposite backgrounds who somehow manage to form an unforgettable bond against the backdrop of a fledgling America struggling to find its place in the world. Elizabeth Kortright Monroe, the wife of James Monroe, and Jasmine, a young slave girl, develop an extraordinary relationship as they are united by pivotal historic events, political intrigues, and personal tragedies.
 From a bucolic Virginia plantation to the bloodied, starving streets of post-revolutionary Paris, this powerful tale follows the lives of two courageous women from the past as they quietly influence—and inspire—a woman of today’s world."

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Genre - Historical fiction
Rating – G


Widowed at thirty, Hannah Bradley is a successful journalist focusing on animal abuse issues. An accidental meeting introduces her to lawyer, Winston Caughfield III. Drawn to Hannah’s gentle beauty and fierce commitment to her work, Win joins her in a fight to save wild mustangs from slaughter. Together they rescue a badly injured horse with a mysterious background. Hannah’s search to discover the animal’s true identity leads them into a web of black marketeering and international intrigue. 
Action packed with crisp colorful dialogue the story propels the reader to a race against time conclusion. Marilyn Holdsworth delivers a gripping tale of mystery, adventure and romance guaranteed to hold the interest and capture the heart. She brings true-life characters together with real-life issues to create a fast-paced irresistible story.

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Genre - Contemporary fiction
Rating – PG
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 Connect with Marilyn Holdsworth on Facebook & Twitter