Books: The Cheapest Vacation You Can Buy

We’re celebrating the release of Every Time I Think of You by best selling Author Tracey Garvis-Graves! Check out how Tracey came up with the idea for the book and take a peek at the excerpt below. Don’t forget to enter the giveaway!

Title: Every Time I Think of You

Author: Tracey Garvis-Graves

Age Group: Adult

Genre: Romantic Suspense


Amazon US (e-book and paperback) | Amazon UK | Amazon Canada | Amazon Australia  | Barnes & Noble | Apple | Kobo



Thirty-year-old Daisy DiStefano has two people she holds dear: the grandmother who raised her, and her three-year-old son, Elliott. But when Daisy’s grandmother is killed in a seemingly random act of violence, Daisy must take steps to protect herself and her child.

Despite a thriving career in San Francisco, thirty-six-year-old Brooks McClain has returned home to spend what little time his mother has left before she succumbs to the deadly disease that is ravaging her. The seasoned investigative reporter has taken a position with the local newspaper and been on the job less than twenty-four hours when he’s summoned to cover the death of Pauline Thorpe.

Brooks is all business, but the more time he spends with Daisy DiStefano, the more invested he becomes; there’s something about a single mother, a defenseless child, and an unsolved crime that has stirred Brooks’s protective instincts like nothing ever has before.

And when the unthinkable happens, Brooks will do whatever it takes to clear the name of the woman he’s fallen for and the child he’ll protect at any cost.

Romantic and suspenseful, Every Time I Think of You shows how far two people will go to fight for the ones they love, and the life they’ve always imagined.


An Idea Was Born: A Guest Post

by Tracey Garvis Graves

One of the questions I’m often asked is, “How did you come up with the idea for this book?” My books are fairly plot-driven, and Every Time I Think of You was no different. I could see the opening scene in my head like a movie so I knew what the inciting incident – in other words, the event that would send the main characters’ lives in another direction – would be. But in this case, my opening scene was the result of not only plot, but also a character. I have wanted to write a book where the main character was a crime reporter for a while now. I tend to gravitate toward heroes who are regular guys, and I wanted to see what would happen when I put this particular hero into various situations (and a little hot water). What would he do? How would he react? What, exactly, was he made of?

However, if main character Brooks McClain was going to be a crime reporter, that meant I had to come up with a crime (which ultimately, I’d have to solve). I’ve never written a book with a mystery or suspense element before, but I wasn’t going to let a little thing like that get in the way of telling this story. I’ve said time and time again that I never want to be an author who writes the same book over and over, but with that motto comes challenges. I have to deal with the discomfort that comes from tackling something different than I’ve done before, and often this means learning new things.

I have a love/hate relationship with research. I keep telling myself I’m going to write a book that doesn’t require as much research, and then I write a book that requires extensive research. I should really start listening to myself! Some of the things I did in the name of research for Every Time I Think of You included taking a four-hour firearms safety course and learning how to load and shoot a gun, which was something I didn’t have any experience with.

I also studied ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, by reading memoirs and poring over countless websites dedicated to the disease. Although the timing of the recent ALS ice bucket challenge is merely a coincidence, it makes me happy to know that this devastating illness is receiving such an outpouring of support from the general public.

I studied addiction, specifically methamphetamine addiction. What I learned was heart-wrenching, eye-opening, and often tragic. In total, I read six memoirs about addiction and read countless online articles. I watched a fascinating Frontline documentary from PBS about methamphetamine addiction and its effects on law enforcement and the community.

I reached out to a criminal defense attorney in California so that I could gain an understanding of that state’s legal processes, and I spent several hours in person and on the phone with my cousin Jack, who is a detective with the Des Moines Police Department. Jack was instrumental in explaining the outcomes of all the different scenarios I proposed (naturally, I named the detective character after him). I interviewed three different crime reporters (who all told me slightly different things), and one of them saved me from a potentially embarrassing gaffe. In Every Time I Think of You, I include an actual newspaper article written by Brooks McClain. Newspaper reporters use the Associated Press Stylebook to ensure that their articles are written correctly whereas The Chicago Manual of Style is the go-to guide for fiction writers. The crime reporter who proofed my article had me make a small tweak so that it was correct in form.

I spoke to a nurse, to make sure I got the details of Daisy’s DiStefano’s work schedule correct. There were less significant things I needed the answers to, such as what kind of jewelry a nurse would be permitted to wear to work and what floor she might work on if she were involved with a particular patient.

In addition to the factual research necessary to write this story, I also had to choose the path I’d take to solve the crime. I learned that there were a few different ways I could handle this: One, I could write the story in such a way that the reader would probably not know who committed the crime until the very end. Two, I could choose the slightly-less-suspenseful route and let the reader be privy to clues that would allow them to guess the identity of the perpetrator much earlier. That way, I could let the focus of the story rest on how the person would be brought to justice. I chose option two because I felt it would lend emotional resonance and depth to the story.

Now that I knew how I’d tell the story, I needed to concentrate on the characters. I usually have a pretty good outline in place before I sit down to start writing. This method doesn’t work for everyone, but for me it helps to have a roadmap of sorts so that I don’t waste too much time writing myself into corners. This is not a spoiler because you know from the blurb that the book deals with the aftermath of the death of Daisy’s beloved grandmother. However, once I was about a fourth of the way through the first draft, I realized that the character I’d chosen to commit the crime didn’t actually do it.

I fought it for a while, but the more I got to know these characters, the more I realized my inner muse was right. This person couldn’t have done it.

Delete, delete, delete, delete. Sigh.

The real perpetrator had a motive, but it was subtle and at first I couldn’t see it. And the person who I’d originally intended to commit the crime was actually somewhat responsible. But it will be up to the reader to draw their own conclusions about what transpired that evening in Daisy’s grandmother’s apartment, because the opening chapter of the book is narrated by Daisy’s three-year-old son, who has a very limited ability to explain it. I actually first wrote this opening chapter from the point-of-view of Daisy’s grandmother, Pauline. It gave the book a much darker tone than I wanted so I scrapped it and decided to let Elliott take the reins.

There is also one final plot thread that I chose not to tie up with a big red ribbon. Initially I wrote a paragraph that would have explained why a certain character made the choice that he did, but then I realized it wasn’t necessary. Readers are smart and book discussions are extra fun when there’s a bit of speculation involved.

I’m not an especially fast or prolific writer, and that’s fine with me. Between the research and the actual writing time, this book took fourteen months to complete, and there were times I wanted to pull my hair out. I’d told my husband there were a couple of twists I was hoping to pull off, but wasn’t sure I knew how to accomplish them. I told several people that writing this book made my brain hurt (but one of the readers who received an advance copy told me she kept saying to herself as she read it, “This book is so smart!”). When I hear feedback like that, it tells me that everything I did in the name of Every Time I Think of You was worth it.

I hope you enjoy Brooks and Daisy’s story.


I glanced at my watch. “I need to get going.” I stood and Daisy followed me toward the door. “Don’t hesitate to call the police for any reason. Pay close attention to your surroundings. Keep your door locked. Don’t ever open it without the chain on.” I paused, once again struck by how alone she seemed. Was anyone watching out for her? “Listen, I don’t mean for this to sound as sexist as it’s going to, but is there a guy around?”

Rarely did I ask such a personal question, especially when the answer was absolutely none of my business.

And I’ll admit to being more than just professionally curious as I waited for her answer.

“There was, but not anymore,” she said. “It’s just Elliott and me. We’ll be okay. When someone knocks, I look through the peephole. If I don’t recognize the person, I leave the chain on when I open the door. I also bought a gun.”

She said that last part with such nonchalance that it took me a second to process it.

“You what?” I probably said it with a little more force than I should have.

She looked taken aback. “Shane helped me pick it out.”

I was speechless. “I’m sorry, but you don’t—”

“Look like the type of person who would own a gun?”

It was hard to argue with that statement when it was exactly what I was going to say. “Yes.”

“I didn’t buy the gun because I wanted to. Frankly, I would rather not own one. They scare me,” she said. “But I bought one anyway because the thought of looking something evil right in the eye and knowing that I’m more than likely going to come out on the losing end of it terrifies me. The fear that I’ll be assaulted, or raped and left for dead, or worse yet, that someone will try to harm my child, is the reason I have this gun. That’s the type I am.”

I saw her then, really saw her. Five foot seven, maybe, but small-boned. She was wearing a fitted V-neck T-shirt that emphasized her slight build. I could see the prominent ridge of her collarbone and the deep hollow at the base of her throat that I suddenly couldn’t stop looking at. She’d be no match for anyone. If she wanted a gun, I was hardly in a position to tell her she couldn’t have one.

“I’m sorry,” I said. “I was out of line. It’s really none of my business what you do.”

“It’s okay. Pam reacted the same way you did. But I’m doing everything I can to be a responsible gun owner. I’ve signed up for the safety class so I can learn how to handle the gun. How to shoot it. I’ll apply for the permit as soon as I have my certificate. I’ll go to the shooting range, and I’ll practice.”

Taking her to the shooting range was something I could do to help her. It would also give me a chance to spend time with her, which was something that was becoming more appealing by the minute. I could feel the boundary between witness and reporter starting to blur, but I really didn’t care. It had been a while since a woman had sparked my interest the way Daisy had. “You don’t have to justify anything to me. It sounds like you’re doing everything right,” I said. “I’ll let you know if I hear anything on the case.”

“I would really appreciate that.”

Elliott put down his coloring book and ambled across the room.

Daisy lifted him into her arms. “You look tired, buddy. Are you ready for your nap?”

“I’m not tired,” Elliott said, yawning and rubbing his eyes.

“Oh, my mistake,” Daisy said, smiling at him. “I think we’ll try a nap anyway, just in case.” She looked at me. “Thanks for stopping by.”

“It was no problem. I’ll see you soon.”

As I stepped into the hallway she said, “Brooks?”

I turned around. “Yes?”

“Maybe I’m reading this wrong, but you seem to genuinely care about my safety, and I want you to know that I appreciate it. I need all the help I can get.”

I met her gaze and held it for a moment. “You aren’t reading it wrong at all. Take care, Daisy.”

She smiled and it illuminated her face, making every feature even prettier. She closed the door, and I made my way down the hall.

It was true that I cared about Daisy’s safety. Maybe Scott DiStefano had never abused or neglected Elliott, but Daisy’s decision to arm herself made me wonder what he’d done to her.





ONE signed copy of On the Island, Covet, and ETITOY. Also included, a $50 gift card to Barnes & Noble and Amazon. Also, the winner will receive an ARC of Tracey’s next work-in-progress, The Girl He Used to Know (an adult contemporary second-chance romance novel). And finally, Tracey will either use the winner’s name in The Girl He Used to Know (first name or last name only, or the actual real name if comfortable) OR the winner can suggest a name for a character.

**The restrictions to this are that it will not be the name of a main character. It will be a supporting or minor character. Also, this is a fictional character. It is not a character based on the winner.

Enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway!


About the Author:


Tracey Garvis Graves is a New York TimesWall Street Journal, and USA Todaybestselling author. Her debut novel, On the Island, spent 9 weeks on the New York Timesbestseller list, has been translated into twenty-seven languages, and is in development with MGM and Temple Hill Productions for a feature film. She is also the author ofUncharted, Covet, Every Time I Think of You, and Cherish. She is hard at work on her sixth book.

Tracey loves to interact with her readers and can be found on Facebook and Twitter.



X and YFrom Goodreads: Olivia Adonane has it all; remarkable intelligence, stunning beauty, and – as the daughter of the head of the Triad, Society’s top three Human Designers – immeasurable wealth. Yet, all is not as it seems. Olivia discovers a dark secret about her homeland, formerly known as Great Britain, where humans are designed in the womb, and she watches her best friend, Lily, die in a secret chamber below the Triad Building in London. From here on, she has a choice. Will she continue on her pre-designed path, following in her father’s footsteps to become the country’s most powerful Human Designer? Or will she seek to rebel against the government, attempting to expose and overthrow the seemingly-invincible regime so that her fellow citizens can be truly free?


Finlayson’s novel, X&Y, thrusts readers into a society that designs and tags its population, keeping the wealthy beyond rich and the poor barely scraping by. Everyone is designed for a reason, and no one goes against the system; it’s in place for their own protection, and it’s existed long enough that no one really questions it. After all, everyone has a purpose. It’s destiny.

Told in a series of sections, readers really get to know Olivia as she goes from timid high school student to determined university student. Questioning everything she’s ever known, watching people disappear, and believing the worst of her parents, Olivia’s struggles are very real, and though I didn’t always agree with her decisions, it’s easy for me to take the high road as an outsider looking in; it always is. But what isn’t easy is deciding to do what’s right when you know it could end with your death, and worse, the death of those you love and hold dear. This is the obstacle that Olivia is up against, and as she struggles and comes into herself, it’s impossible not to fall in love with her. As the novel progresses, what seems like a lifetime passes as Finlayson weaves together her tale, giving it life and validity. I enjoyed the sectioning within the novel, allowing time to pass easily without any sudden transitions, and for a novel that takes place over a span of years, it was the perfect execution.

What I think perhaps floored me the most about this novel is the fact that the genetic engineering imposed in former Great Britain is actually happening under the radar of the rest of the world. Indeed, the rest of the world, the United States in particular, has continued its existence and democracy much as if this were a present day novel and not a dystopian one, and it was both jarring and awesome when I realized that Olivia’s country was on its own in the technological advances and misuse of genetic engineering. Ingeniously, former Great Britain has adopted this strategy unbeknownst to the rest of the world, and I found that really interesting as Finlayson ties it all in to the idea of world police, a topic that has been in the news much recently due to the civil unrest in many countries, causing the United States to once again attempt to police other countries.

Overall, this was a great read. If you enjoy movies like Gattaka, I think you’ll definitely love this X&Y.  Four stars.

4 stars

I received this novel from the author in exchange for an honest review.


Check out Rebecca Finlayson’s Guest Post!


A Guest Post with Rebecca Finlayson–author of X & Y

“Olivia Adonane has it all; remarkable intelligence, stunning beauty, and – as the daughter of the head of the Triad, Society’s top three Human Designers – immeasurable wealth. Yet, all is not as it seems. Olivia discovers a dark secret about her homeland, formerly known as Great Britain, where humans are designed in the womb, and she watches her best friend, Lily, die in a secret chamber below the Triad Building in London. From here on, she has a choice. Will she continue on her pre-designed path, following in her father’s footsteps to become the country’s most powerful Human Designer? Or will she seek to rebel against the government, attempting to expose and overthrow the seemingly-invincible regime so that her fellow citizens can be truly free?”


X and YEvery author has a dream of where their book could end up – top of the New York Times list, worldwide bestseller, movie deal . Sure, they may not believe it could ever happen but dreaming is still fun. At least, that was the case for me.

The problem I had was to not let those dreams distract me from the actual novel-writing process.

When I sat down to type the first words of “X&Y” I had to forget about all the YA novels I had read, particularly the Dystopian ones, and just focus on my story. How could I make “X&Y” the best it could be on its own terms, and not compared to, say, The Hunger Games? How could I make Olivia, the protagonist, successful as a character in and of herself, and not trying to live up to Katniss Everdeen’s reputation?

Good writers read and learn from successful writers, but for me there came a point where I just had to forget about all the rest, otherwise I would lose sight of what I was doing, which was trying to communicate something about the world I had built in my head. I wanted to build good relationships with my characters because they’re great characters (at least, I think so). I wanted to do something that many good authors have done successfully – i.e. portray a vision of the future as a warning to our society. ‘Society’ (the futuristic new version of Great Britain in X&Y) could exist. At the rate our technology is developing, it wouldn’t be crazy to think so.

Dreams of a movie deal aside, I am personally very proud of “X&Y”. I am letting others decide whether it can stand up to other YA Dystopian novels, but I am glad that it’s out there and that readers are enjoying it. I hope whoever reads this post will join them!

—Rebecca Finlayson


Rebecca FinlaysonAbout Rebecca Finlayson:

Since graduating in 2010 with a degree in Classical Civilisation, Rebecca worked as a Special Educational Needs Teaching Assistant at Blue Coat Academy in Coventry. She took a year off from September 2012 to July 2013 in order to engage in charity work and concentrate on some writing projects. During that time she completed two novels and began work on a third. Her debut novel, a YA Dystopian fiction called “X&Y,” is now available on Amazon Kindle. Her second novel, an epic fantasy entitled “The Secrets of Nethiaria: The Magician’s Book” will be released as an ebook in Spring 2014. 

Connect with Rebecca Finlayson


Twitter: @Finlaysonauthor



Be sure to stop by the blog tomorrow for my review of X&Y!


Author: Eric Garrison

Featured Book Release: Sinking Down

Book Two of the Road Ghosts Trilogy

February 24 to March 2, 2014


Write Like a Roleplayer: How Gaming Shaped My Storytelling
by Eric Garrison

I’ve always been both a writer and a gamer. As a Dungeon Master, I did some very literal worldbuilding, with intricate maps with writeups of the places depicted. But true life wasn’t breathed into those colored-pencil-on-hexpaper realms until stories happened in them, laid out one adventure at a time by player characters. Same with online games like MUSHes, designing a character description was fine, but to truly know that character, they had to interact with other characters.

I see writing the same way. I’ve said elsewhere that I’m a seat-of-the-pants (pantser) writer who has come to do some planning over time. But I feel that those plans are just a framework, like a Gamemaster designs a roleplaying adventure. A favorite quote, Helmuth von Moltke the Elder said, “No battle plan ever survives contact with the enemy.” Many Gamemasters will tell you that no adventure they’ve written survives contact with the players. Coming from this background, I can say my writing works similarly: No matter how detailed my plans ahead of time, the characters tend to do things that are in character and thwart those plans, forcing me to replan on the fly.

But that’s okay. I’m used to players doing that to my adventures, so I am accustomed to adjusting plans to fit the story as it unfolds. One major difference between writing and gaming is that I have the option of making the characters do as I please. Maybe so, but often the result rings false to me, I can almost hear the characters whining that they wouldn’t have done it that way. Sometimes they go on strike, it seems, and dialogue becomes stilted and flat until I let the characters do what they want to again.

Another luxury a writer has is the ability to change earlier parts of the book. Does the main character need a knife in Chapter 22? I have the option of rewinding to Chapter 5 and having her think to slip a folding knife in her purse, “just in case”. Does killing off the villain’s henchman in the first act mess up the ending? Well, a few tweaks of the wording and he’s merely wounded and is dragged off to heal up for a surprise appearance in the big fight scene (and this time, it’s personal). I can’t tell you I’ve never done that, because it’s as handy as a trash can with Wyld Stallyns graffiti on it to be able to do that when necessary.

My roleplaying roots make me resist going back and changing the plot. In gaming, that’s a story-destroying taboo we call “retconning”. Sure, you may just have realized that Wolfraven should have had 2 additional hit points regenerated, and that he should have been conscious to keep Eldrad the Merciless from throwing all the characters in his Gaol of Despair half an hour ago. That would change everything. We’ve moved on since then, and going back just feels wrong, and undoes all the brave deeds that have been done since then. In writing, I try to always write forwards until the first draft is done. Second drafts are for revisions and tweaks. I still resist major retconning in revisions.

So while you won’t hear dice rolling when you read my stories, you may notice a certain organic flow to them. That’s my gaming heritage shaping how I see storytelling. It’s not for everyone, but I think my writing is better for it.


SinkingDownCover_1200X800Book Synopsis Sinking Down: Poor Little Ghoul

Paranormal investigators Brett and Liz find themselves back in over their heads when a forest hunt for a roadkill-eating creature offers up a little surprise. Back home with their ghoulish house guest, it becomes clear there’s more to this investigation than either of them thought. Worse than that, Brett’s own fate is linked to the little ghoul’s.

So it’s back out on the road, with plenty of time for pit stops with a greedy ex, a convention of ghost hunters, partying with fake vampires, and even drinking and fighting alongside good ole Uncle Gonzo. But as the investigation goes deeper, and unseen connections come to light, Brett finds there’s much more at stake than getting through a rough patch with Liz.

A rescue mission. A race for a cure. New friends and old adversaries. Unbreakable bonds and supernatural danger. It’s going to be a wild ride. Can the friends save the nearly undead tween? Can she and Brett stop themselves from …Sinking Down?

Sinking Down is the 2nd Book in the Road Ghosts Trilogy!

Amazon Links for Sinking Down

Print Version | Kindle Version


EricGarrison_authorpicAbout the Author: Eric Garrison is active in the writing community in Indianapolis, Indiana. He lives in the Circle City with his wife, step-daughter and four cats. He also enjoys gaming and homebrewing beer.

Seventh Star Press published the first of his Road Ghosts trilogy, Four ’til Late, in July of 2013. Sinking Down was released in December of 2013, with the final title to appear in 2014.

Eric’s novel, Reality Check, is a science fiction adventure released by Hydra Publications. This book reached #1 in Science Fiction on Amazon’s Kindle store during a promotion in July 2013.

Eric’s short story, “Drag Show” appeared in the Fall 2011 edition of Strange, Weird and Wonderful Magazine and Volume 2 of that magazine’s anthology series. His flash piece, “Dark Reflection”, appeared in the Indiana Horror 2011 anthology. He’s competed twice in the Iron Writer Challenge with two 500-word flash pieces, “Killer Cure” and “Moby Me.”

Author Links:



Twitter: @erichris




Tour Schedule and Activities

2/24 Beauty in Ruins Guest Post

2/24 Laurie’s Thoughts and Paranormal Reviews Promo/Spotlight

2/24 Deal Sharing Aunt Tour Wide Contest

2/24 Lost Inside the Covers Review

2/24 John F. Allen Writer Promo Spotlight

2/24 Beagle Book Space Promo/Spotlight

2/24 Seers, Seraphs, and More Promo/Spotlight

2/25 Vampires, Witches, and Me, Oh My! Character Post

2/26 Bee’s Knees Reviews Guest Post

2/27 Sapphyria’s Book Reviews Promo/Spotlight

2/27 fuonlyknew ~ Laura’s Ramblins and Reviews Review

2/27 I Smell Sheep Guest Post

2/27 Jess Resides Here Character Interview

2/28 A Book Vacation Guest Post

2/28 Armand Rosamilia, Author Guest Post

3/1 Sheila Deeth The Art of Sinking Down

3/2 Come Selahway With Me Guest Post

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