Blog Tour & Giveaway: World-Building in Up The Tower, Guest Post by @jplantern

Up The Tower Book Cover Up The Tower

Sci-Fi, Dystopian

Disaster brings everybody together. A cloned corporate assassin; a boy genius and his new robot; a tech-modified gangster with nothing to lose; a beautiful, damaged woman and her unbalanced stalker—these folks couldn't be more different, but somehow they must work together to save their own skin. Stranded in the epicenter of a monumental earthquake in the dystopian slum, Junktown, there is only one way to survive. These unlikely teammates must go...UP THE TOWER.


“This kid comes in, okay? Starts doing all this stuff with Wallop's tech fists. Powering them up and such. You know, they can bend steel, they can punch a man so far a distance, all of that. At first, I think the kid's pretty young, but then I see his eyes—they're old enough. I seen his eyes, they're about my age, those eyes. And it’s important, okay, how old he is. Because this kid? He looks a hell of a lot like me.”“So what? Lots of kids look like you.”

“Yeah. So do Georgeson. So do Jonesboy. So do Figueroa.”

“What are you saying?”

“I'm saying…” he palmed the side of his head. “I’m saying, it ain’t no secret that you got yourself a certain type of person that you pick up. A type of boy. I sort of thought I knew why. Last night I found out for certain.”

Konnor was right. Ore was angry.

“The hell are you saying to me? Just say it.”

“You said you had a brother. His name was Samson. He was good with tech, you said. Well this kid? The one tailoring Wallop's new fists? Samson. That's what Wallop called him. ‘Samson, touch here.’ ‘Samson, look at that, is that right.’”

Ore didn't say anything.

“He's alive. Your brother. In The Tower. He’s maybe been alive this whole time.”

Silence, then. Even the eyebots outside seemed to get quiet.

That goddamn Wallop. Her job, her Haulers, and her eye. Now he had her brother, or near enough. Everything. Would he take everything from her?

Konnor stood up and headed to the door. The shack squeaked beneath him.

“If it was any other sort of job…if it was a job that maybe wouldn’t have gone against the Faces…”

“Shut up, Konnor. It’s all against the Faces. It’s under ‘em or it’s with ‘em. You know that.”

“All right. All right.” He opened the door. An argument had started down the street; someone lit a fire in a barrel on the balcony above her shack; an eyebot stopped, scanned the two, and then zipped away. “It’s a hell of a plan, though, Ore. A hell of a plan. And maybe I won’t get around to telling Wallop what’s what for a little while.”


Today,  author J.P. Lantern shares how he went about creating the ‘world’  in his latest sci-fi novel, Up The Tower.  Be sure to check out the giveaway at the end of the post, you can win a  backlist ebook copy from the author, or a $25 Amazon GC.

To see more stops on the tour. visit Goddess Fish Promotions for the schedule.

about the author


J.P. Lantern

J.P. Lantern lives in the Midwestern US, though his heart and probably some essential parts of his liver and pancreas and whatnot live metaphorically in Texas. He writes speculative science fiction short stories, novellas, and novels which he has deemed “rugged,” though he would also be fine with “roughhewn” because that is a terrific and wonderfully apt word.

Full of adventure and discovery, these stories examine complex people in situations fraught with conflict as they search for truth in increasingly violent and complicated worlds.




twitter: @jplantern

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World-Building in UP THE TOWER

My latest novel, UP THE TOWER, is a big science fiction dystopian romp, and because it is a big science fiction dystopian romp, it requires a world in which to romp about. World-building is a particularly important skill for writers of science fiction, because the audience expects a certain amount of logic. If events or actions become too unrealistic, then the audience starts to become dissatisfied that what you’re writing isn’t “real” enough.

In other words, you run a narrow edge on top of the audience’s suspension of disbelief that has probably more obstacles than most other genres. Fantasy comes close, but with fantasy, sometimes the fantastical or outrageous can become commonplace and expected, and tropes are happily welcomed (notice the sixty-plus years of orcs and elves and dragons in the genre).

The way I approach world-building for sci-fi is just to pick a few major elements from our world today that don’t seem to have many leashes on them, and then trying to apply a bit of logic about where those elements might run to if they continue to be unrestrained.

So, in UP THE TOWER, there are a quite a lot of science-fictiony elements. There’s talking robots, and jet boots, and gangsters with crazy super-tech suits, and hovercopters, and eyebot drones, and all of that. But civilizations aren’t built around technologies; civilizations are built around ideas, and technologies are used according to those ideas. So the ideas that this culture in UP THE TOWER operates with are kind of basic:
– Corporate power is restricted only by greater corporate power
– Access to technology is a symbol of status
– Class (status) is inherited more than earned; all ideas of meritocracy are false; the myth of meritocracy is nonetheless still perpetuated by society and small, carefully controlled exceptions
– Power is gained and maintained by force

If you’re a pessimist or a realist, you might recognize a lot of these elements happening today! Probably the main difference between what I imagine and what is the reality today is that corporate control isn’t overt today; it’s in the background. In the U.S. today, for example, corporations write legislation that politicians pass and donate billions of dollars to position the people they want into positions of power. But, it’s all kind of shadowy because there on the news, we still see those people in power and popping off phrases that we know and love about social rights or taxes or foreign aid, and not any kind of corporate sponsor doing that. But if you follow the actions of these politicians and the money that got them elected, you can see where their loyalties lie (it is not with the general populace).

So the sort of tipping point for the world I imagined was what if corporate control was, rather than being so shadowy, was the stated norm. And everything else—police robots and crazy gangster tech suits and massive slums run by criminals and corporate-sponsored drones monitoring consumption—were all sort of “natural” extensions of that core idea.


The author will be awarding a backlist ebook copy to a randomly drawn winner at every stop during the tour and a Grand Prize of a $25 Amazon GC will be awarded to one randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during this tour.  Giveaway end 9/19/14.
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Traveling Left of Center by Nancy Christie @NChristie_OH #Interview #excerpt #Freeread

Traveling Left of Center Book Cover Traveling Left of Center

short stories, literary fiction

The Book

There are some people who, whether by accident or design, find themselves traveling left of center. Unable or unwilling to seize control over their lives, they allow fate to dictate the path they take—often with disastrous results.

TRAVELING LEFT OF CENTER details characters in life situations for which they are emotionally or mentally unprepared. Their methods of coping range from the passive (“The Healer”) and the aggressive (“The Clock”) to the humorous (“Traveling Left of Center”) and hopeful (“Skating on Thin Ice”).

The eighteen stories in TRAVELING LEFT OF CENTER depict those types of situations, from the close calls to the disastrous. Not all the stories have happy endings—like life, sometimes things work out and sometimes they don’t.

In these stories, the characters’ choices—or non-choices—are their own. But the outcomes may not be what they anticipated or desired. Will they have time to correct their course or will they crash?

The Stories

ALICE IN WONDERLAND—Alice is constrained by circumstances and unwanted obligations to live an unfulfilling life. Books are her only way to escape, serving as sustenance to feed her starving soul. But what will she do when there are no more pages left to devour?

ANNABELLE—A lonely young woman, all Annabelle wants is to love and be loved. But she’s fighting by the twin emotions of fear and guilt, unable to let go of the past and embrace the possibilities of a future.

ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN—Sometimes, what one fears most comes to pass because of those fears. If Charlotte hadn’t been so afraid, would the outcome have been the same?

BEAUTIFUL DREAMER—For Eleanor, it was becoming increasingly more difficult to tell the difference between being awake and dreaming, reality and fantasy. The boundaries were blurring. Would she be able to see clearly again?

EXIT ROW—He wanted an escape. After all these years, he was ready to go. But could he get away before it was too late?

MISCONNECTIONS—Anna’s recurrent dreams echo through her day, as she attempts to reconcile her inexplicable feelings of loss with what would appear to be a “perfect life.”

OUT OF SIGHT, OUT OF MIND—Despite being more than three steps over the mental health line, he’s holding fast to his belief in his own sanity. Or is the rest of the world crazy?

SKATING ON THIN ICE—Is it possible to overcome childhood trauma? And, even if you do, are you ever really “cured” or simply skating on thin ice, waiting for it to crack? Sarah is trying to skate across the thin ice. Every day, she makes a new path on the surface of her life. So far, the ice has held.

STILL LIFE—Mirror images of her life: how she wants it to be and how it is. Which one would be her true reality—and does she even have a choice?

THE CLOCK—Everyone has a breaking point. For Harold, it came one fateful evening when the clock once again stopped ticking.

THE HEALER—Cassie didn’t ask for the gift. She didn’t want the gift. For all the good it had done other people, it was killing her. All she wanted was her own healing.

THE KINDNESS OF STRANGERS—Mona was relying on the kindness of strangers to rescue her. One stranger, in particular. However, thanks to the interference of others, her plans keep going awry. But she’s not giving up yet.

THE SHOP ON THE SQUARE—His attitude of superiority had gotten him quite far in life. Until a chance stop at a small Mexican town illustrated that he had much to learn.

THE STORYTELLER—Connie makes up her stories as much for the children’s sake as her own. But even her stories can’t stop the pain of reality from hurting her listeners—or herself.

THE SUGAR BOWL—Although Chloe’s life story changes with every listener, each time her tale has achieved its intended purpose. Until she chooses the wrong person to tell it to.

TRAVELING LEFT OF CENTER—Her mama was forever telling her that, on the highway of life, she was always traveling left of center. She wasn’t a bad girl, mind you—just incapable of looking down the road and seeing where her actions are taking her.

WAITING FOR SARA—Her daughter Sara is gone, and while it was by her own choice, it was a decision ill-conceived and poorly executed. And so Sara’s mother waits, alone and fearful, hoping against hope that someday her daughter will return, safe and unharmed.

WATCHING FOR BILLY—Agnes was all alone until Billy came to stay. Would he bring new purpose to her life? Or take what little hope she had for companionship?

Author Nancy Christie is here today with her latest ebook, Traveling Left of Center, a short story collection.  Just for stopping by, you can read a free story from the  book, ‘Annabelle’ . See the details at the end of the post.

NANCY CHRISTIE Nancy Christie is a professional writer, whose credits include both fiction and non-fiction. In addition to her fiction collection, TRAVELING LEFT OF CENTER, and two short story e-books, ANNABELLE and ALICE IN WONDERLAND (all published by Pixel Hall Press), her short stories can be found in literary publications such as EWR: Short Stories, Hypertext, Full of Crow, Fiction365, Red Fez, Wanderings, The Chaffin Journal and Xtreme.
Her inspirational book, THE GIFTS OF CHANGE, (Beyond Words/Atria) encourages readers to take a closer look at how they deal with the inevitability of change and ways in which they can use change to gain a new perspective, re-evaluate their goals and reconsider their options. Christie’s essays have also appeared in Woman’s Day, Stress-Free Living, Succeed, Experience Life, Tai Chi and Writer’s Digest. She is currently working on several other book projects, including a novel and a book for writers.

A member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors and Short Fiction Writers Guild (SFWG), Christie teaches workshops at writing conferences and schools across the country and hosts the monthly Monday Night Writers group in Canfield, Ohio.

Visit her website at or connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or at her writing blogs: Finding Fran, The Writer’s Place and One on One.
Social media links:
Twitter: @NChristie_OH




The characters in the stories all seem a little (in some case, a lot!) wounded or vulnerable. What draws you to write about these types of characters?

I’m not entirely sure. It’s not like I set out to write stories about odd, eccentric or unstable people. It’s just, for some reason, I am drawn to those types of people—perhaps it’s one of those “There, but for the grace of God” things.

My fiction—or at least, my short fiction—tends to be about people who are damaged in some way: by what they have done to themselves or by what was done to them, by what they have received, what they gave up, or what was taken from them. They are, for the most part, struggling to navigate through dangerous waters. Some survive and move forward toward land, some are just treading water, and some don’t even know that they have lost the battle and are, even now, drowning.

I feel sorry for those people, wish I could do something for them, and perhaps, in the writing of their stories, that is what I am doing. Because somewhere out there, there is a real person who is held in thrall by his or her obsessions, who is controlled by past or present circumstances, who wants to live a happy, normal, balanced life but finds that the tightrope of life vibrates too much and maintaining equilibrium is but a dream.

“Dream”—and there it is again. The idea of what we want and what we have. For some of us—perhaps for most of us—the former is the dream and the latter is the reality and never the twain shall meet.

Where did the idea of the cover art for TRAVELING LEFT OF CENTER come from?

From the very beginning—even before I knew it would be a book!—I had an image in mind for the book cover. The cover is a literal interpretation of each character’s metaphorical journey on the road of life. Some of them zig-zag across the center line only to pull back to the right side at the last moment, while others cross once and never make it back in time. And then, there are the few who are merrily driving right down the center, every now and then drifting first to the left and then to the right, blissfully unaware that they are courting disaster. When I shared the concept with my publisher, it took only a few tweaks before we had the “ah hah!” moment and said “This is it!” and after a few revisions, we successfully “birthed” this book cover!

Can you share what inspired some of your stories?

“Misconnections” (originally published in Wanderings Magazine) was inspired by a dream I had of a toddler wandering through plane wreckage, holding a tooth in her hand.  “Beautiful Dreamer” started when I woke up in the middle of the night, holding the telephone receiver in my hand and hearing the buzzing sound and wondering if someone had called and I talked to them in my sleep. And if I did—what did I say?

“The Healer” came after I had a series of reiki sessions and started wondering what it felt like to be the practitioner rather than the client. As for “Annabelle”—I started it so many years ago that I don’t know where it came from!

Some of my other stories that aren’t in the collection… “Aunt Aggie and the Makeup Lady,” published by The Chaffin Journal was inspired by a conversation I had with a vendor at a flea market. She said that, although being there wasn’t her favorite way of spending a Sunday afternoon, it was better than being stuck at home with her husband’s crazy Aunt Aggie. That’s all it took, and the story was born! And “Ice Cream Sunday” (published in Fiction365) came after witnessing a father and his adult disabled daughter at a local ice cream shop.

But for the most part, many of my stories are triggered by words—overheard or imagined— and I don’t know how the story will turn out or even what it’s about until it’s written.

What was your “writer dream”—your goal— when you began to write? Has it changed over the years?

I don’t think I had a dream. Certainly, I never pictured myself holding a book with my name on it. Writing is such a natural part of me that I never thought about it as an occupation or a goal, any more than I would think about breathing as a profession. It was just something I did.

Of course now, with two books—TRAVELING LEFT OF CENTER and my non-fiction book, THE GIFTS OF CHANGE— in print and two short stories as e-books plus others that have been published in literary journals, I do have a dream or two. Great reviews in The Times. Accolades from well-known literary fiction writers. An award or two to stick somewhere on my bookshelf—next to about a dozen foreign translations of my collection!

Or maybe my accountant telling me that my royalties have pushed me into a different income bracket!

Why do you write fiction?

To understand what I see or feel or am going through. To serve as a conduit for imagined characters whose voices are as loud to me as those of real people. To play with “what if” without exposing myself to any real danger—physical, mental, emotional, psychic. To escape—but I’m not sure if it’s a case of “escaping to” or “escaping from”! To get it out to make more room for new “its”—while fearing all the time that there are no more “its” left to make room for!

How do you define success as a writer? What makes you feel successful as a writer?

When someone reads a story I wrote and finds something in it that I hadn’t even realized I put there. It’s as though they uncovered some hidden piece of gold, some shiny jewel and told me about it. It becomes an interactive experience.

What is your idea of a perfect writing day?

No phone calls, No interruptions. The sound of the waves outside my window. Lots of coffee. And lots and lots of words pouring out of my head and onto the paper—the majority of which are half-way decent.


Just for stopping by, Nancy is offering a free story from her book to all my visitors!

Just CLICK HERE to read ‘Annabelle’ Now!

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Blog Tour: Real Murder by Lauren Carr @TheMysteryLadie #guestpost #mystery

Real Murder Book Cover Real Murder


When Homicide Detective Cameron Gates befriends Dolly, the little old lady who lives across the street, she is warned not to get lured into helping the elderly woman by investigating the unsolved murder of one of her girls. “She’s senile,” Cameron is warned. “It’s not a real murder.”

Such is not the case. After Dolly is brutally murdered, Cameron discovers that the sweet blue-haired lady’s “girl” was a call girl, who had been killed in a mysterious double homicide.

Meanwhile, Prosecuting Attorney Joshua Thornton is looking for answers to the murder of a childhood friend, a sheriff deputy whose cruiser is found at the bottom of a lake. The deputy had disappeared almost twenty years ago while privately investigating the murder of a local prostitute.

It doesn’t take long for the Lovers in Crime to put their cases together to reveal a long-kept secret that some believe is worth killing to keep undercover.

  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.
  • Watch the book trailer at YouTube.

Today I’m hosting author Lauren Carr who is on tour with her latest mystery novel, Real Murder.  Lauren is touring with Pump Up Your Book and you can check out her other stops here.


Lauren Carr

Lauren Carr is the best-selling author of the Mac Faraday Mysteries, which takes place in Deep Creek Lake, Maryland. Twelve to Murder is the seventh installment in the Mac Faraday Mystery series. In addition to her series set on Deep Creek Lake, Lauren Carr has also written the Lovers in Crime Mysteries, which features prosecutor Joshua Thornton with homicide detective Cameron Gates, who were introduced in Shades of Murder, the third book in the Mac Faraday Mysteries.
They also make an appearance in The Lady Who Cried Murder.
Lauren launched the Lovers in Crime (first introduced in Shades of Murder) mystery series in September 2012 with Dead on Ice. Real Murder is the second installment in this series.
The owner of Acorn Book Services, Lauren is also a publishing manager, consultant, editor, cover and layout designer, and marketing agent for independent authors. This year, several books, over a variety of genre, written by independent authors will be released through the management of Acorn Book Services, which is currently accepting submissions. Visit Acorn Book Services website for more information.
Lauren is a popular speaker who has made appearances at schools, youth groups, and on author panels at conventions. She also passes on what she has learned in her years of writing and publishing by conducting workshops and teaching in community education classes. She lives with her husband, son, and three dogs on a mountain in Harpers Ferry, WV.
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guest post     The Transformation of Homicide Detective Cameron Gates

By Lauren Carr


Have you ever read a book by a favorite author only to realize halfway through the book that you’ve read this book before, by the same author, only the setting was different and the characters had different names?

The challenge for authors who have written numerous books, like me (I’m working on book thirteen), is creating characters who aren’t clones of previous characters. That takes work. It means watching and listening to people. (Authors are no fun in restaurants. You can’t have a conversation with us because we’re watching people in search of inspiration.)

For this reason, some of your favorite characters have to go through several transformations before the writer can bring them to life.

Such was the case of Homicide Detective Cameron Gates of the Lovers in Crime.

Cameron Gates made her first appearance in Shades of Murder (Mac Faraday Mystery, Book #3).

Shades of Murder was two mysteries in one. Joshua Thornton, the male half of the Lovers in Crime, was investigating a cold case in Pittsburgh, in which Homicide Detective Cameron Gates had been one of the detectives. Meanwhile, Mac Faraday is investigating a cold case of a famous artist in Deep Creek Lake. Little do they know the two cases are connected.

Spunky and pretty, Cameron Gates is not afraid of going after what she wants. She’s impulsive. Within minutes of meeting Joshua Thornton, she kisses him, simply because she wanted to. Some of her colleagues say she’s crazy, which she proves in the opening of Real Murder when she leaps off a second floor fire escape to capture a fleeing killer. She catches the killer, but is also put on medical leave for two weeks.

My first vision of Cameron Gates was that of a lovely, seductive detective in colorful clothes, skirts, and high heels. Of course, she was a buxom blonde. Can you imagine that jumping off a second floor fire escape?

For the sake of authenticity, Cameron needed to dress more like a real homicide detective. Slacks with a utility belt, flat lace up shoes. To make her less of a glamour girl, her blonde hair style changed to short brown hair that was easier to take care of.

At the age of forty, Cameron has been around the block a few times. She’s got emotional bruises, but has the spunk to jump back up, brush herself off, and keep on going—even to the point of giving love a chance a second time around.

This is where the depth of character comes in. In her profession, and in her own experience of having been married and widowed, she has learned about how to learn from her mistakes, and then put them behind her and keep going forward.

She explains her philosophy in this scene with her new husband Joshua Thornton in Real Murder:


… Cameron resumed leafing through the books. “I finally met the infamous Lorraine Winter today,” she added in a matter-of-fact tone.

“That woman scares the dickens out of me,” Joshua continued staring out the window.

“She reminds me of an aunt I had who didn’t like children,” she said, “especially me because I would let her know how much I didn’t like her back. The sound of Lorraine’s voice makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up on end the same way it did when I heard Aunt Vivian’s voice.”

“One of my earliest childhood memories is of that witch,” Joshua said. “My grandmother about tossed her off our front porch—literally.”

“What did she do?” Cameron set down the album and went over to ask him.

“I was maybe about six years old,” he recalled. “Lorraine had come over to the house to meet with Grandmomma to go over something for some church committee they were on—”

“Lorraine went to church?” Cameron asked. “She made it very clear at lunch today that she was an atheist.”

“That happened after her son Toby killed himself,” he muttered, “probably to get away from her. Lorraine is a nutcase. She was here meeting with Grandmomma and Toby came over after school. He was a teenager then. Well, when I went to tell her that he was here, she almost knocked me over running out. She was mad as a wet hen over something. Grabbed him by the ear and dragged him bodily out onto the porch and slapped him.” He paused. “That was the first time that I had ever seen anyone hit anyone. I must have screamed, or maybe it was Lorraine’s screaming at Toby that brought Grandmomma out onto the porch just in time to see Lorraine backhand him a second time. Well, Grandmomma weighed in like a giant momma bear, grabbed Lorraine by the bun that she always wore her hair in, and gave her what for.”

“Lorraine really knows how to make friends, huh?”

“She’s a very unhappy woman,” Joshua said with a shrug of his shoulders. “She’s been playing the victim card since I’ve known her. Though as a child, I only knew that she scared the dickens out of me. But then, I got to know her story. Her husband died of a massive heart attack when he was in his thirties—leaving her with a toddler to raise alone. Then, she got mad at Grandmomma about the fight and resigned from every charity board that Grandmomma was on.  Then, more fights and arguments with more people in town. She got mad at the priest over something and left the Catholic Church. When Toby killed himself, she decided there was no God and that all of us was fools for believing there was a God who would let all of that happen to her.”

“Sounds more like she’s angry with God,” Cameron said, “not so much that she doesn’t believe in Him.”

“Didn’t you get angry with God when Nick was killed?” He watched her from over his shoulder while she paused to come up with the words to answer him.

“I don’t think I was so much mad at God as I was angry at whoever it was that took Nick from me and the lack of closure due to Nick’s killer never being caught. That’s the difference. Lorraine’s husband died of a heart attack. There’s no one to point to and blame. Toby killed himself … why did he kill himself?”

“He was in his early twenties,” Joshua said. “Imagine being told for twenty years that you’re a loser and you’re never going to amount to anything. After a while, you start to ask yourself why you bother.”

“Is that what Lorraine did?”

“Heard it myself.” He went back to peering out the window.

biking uphill button

Blog Tour: Biking Uphill by Arleen Williams

Biking Uphill Book Cover Biking Uphill
The Alki Trilogy

Women's Fiction

Biking home from the Los Arboles Sunday Market, a sun flower yellow teapot snug in her backpack, lonely college student Carolyn Bauer sees a young teenager huddling under a eucalyptus tree. Carolyn shares her food and water with Antonia as they struggle to communicate in a mix of languages. Realizing Antonia lives on the streets, Carolyn invites her home. They share a summer of friendship until the day the yellow teapot shatters and Antonia mysteriously disappears.

Fifteen years later, only Antonia recognizes her old friend when she and Carolyn meet again in an ESL classroom, but she conceals her secret. Carolyn arranges a class project for Antonia-to job-shadow her friend and housemate, Gemi Kemmal. Gemi learns Antonia's dangerous circumstances when Antonia arrives for work with bruises barely concealed by thick makeup and offers her sanctuary just as Carolyn had years earlier. Together the three women confront Antonia's abuser and build a family of enduring friendship.

Biking Uphill, the second book in the Alki Trilogy, invites the reader into a world of undocumented immigration, where parents are deported, and a young girl is abandoned to face life on her own.

Today’s guest writer is Arleen Williams. Arleen is on tour with Chic-Lit Plus this week with her latest novel, Biking Uphill, book 2 in the Alki Trilogy series. You can follow her tour here.

Arleen Williams is the author of three books: Running Secrets, the first novel in The Alki Trilogy, and The Thirty-Ninth Victim, a memoir of her family’s journey before and after her sister’s murder. She teaches English as a second Language at South Seattle College and has worked with immigrants and refugees for close to three decades. Arleen lives and writes in West Seattle.
To learn more, please visit

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Biking Uphill (Not the Novel)

West Seattle is a hill, plain and simple. A big hunk of rocky peninsula across Elliott Bay from downtown Seattle with lots of lesser hills and gorges. My husband and I live on top of that big hunk of rock in one of the lesser gorges, or gulches as they were once called when this rocky peninsula was farmland and orchards, and the Alki Beach was a playground for those wealthy enough to cross the water for a weekend or the summer.

There was a time only a few short years ago (last summer, if I’m honest) when taking a bike ride with my husband involved careful planning to figure out how to get back up the hill to our home. Sometimes we’d drop the van at the bottom so we could ride down and drive up. Other times I’d beg my husband to ride up alone and come get me. Still others, we’d resort to the bike rack on the front of a city bus to get us back to the top of West Seattle.

My second novel, Biking Uphill, was published in early spring just about the time I wiped the cobwebs off my bike and decided it was time to start training if I was really going to do the 200-mile ride in August I’d signed up for with my friend, May. The title of the novel was intended as a metaphorical reference to the challenges faced by the protagonist. When I settled on that title and submitted the book for publication last year, I had no idea the metaphor would become a reality in my own life.

When May and I headed out on one of our first rides together and she said, “I love hills,” I knew I was in trouble. The first time she suggested doing the Mercer Island loop (another hilly rock), I whined. A summer of training and a 200-mile bike ride has silenced the whining. I’m fearless now. I love hills now. I no longer avoid biking uphill.

Riding the Mercer Island loop with my writing partners and planning afternoon rides for as long as the weather holds, I mentioned all the hills in West Seattle. “You could plan a ride like the Seven Hills of Kirkland,” someone suggested. “Seven’s nothing,” I said. “We’ve got a whole lot more than seven hills in West Seattle.”

Yesterday my husband and I were out riding our West Seattle mini loop and he had a second flat tire in as many rides. I told him I’d go get the car (again). We were on the flats of Alki Beach. I had options. I could continue on our planned route and ride up Jacobsen. Or I could head straight up Hillcrest to the tippy top of Genesee Hill. It was a hill I had yet to conquer. “But you have to go higher than you need to and then drop down to the house,” my logical husband explained. “Jacobsen won’t take you so high.” But he was missing the whole point.

So last night I sat down with memory and map to figure out just how many hills there are to bike up in West Seattle. My list now includes nineteen hills. I’ve ridden up eleven of those nineteen this summer. So I have two new goals: to tackle the remaining eight hills (and any others I find to add to the list), and to map out a ride for my friends that includes as many hills as possible. Certainly more than seven.


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Design By Humans

cracks in the sidewalk

#Promo – Cracks in the Sidewalk by @BetteLeeCrosby – on sale for 99¢

Cracks In The Sidewalk Book Cover Cracks In The Sidewalk

Fiction, Family Saga
Bent Pine Publishing
A powerful story that is a heart-wrenching reminder of how fragile relationships can be. Cracks in the Sidewalk is based on a true story. 

Claire McDermott is a wife, a mother, a grandmother... Her only daughter is gravely ill... Her son-in-law is resentful and angry... Her grandchildren are missing...

After years of writing letters, hoping to find the children, hoping to bring them back, Claire receives a reply...a dog-eared gray envelope is stuffed into her mailbox, but will it bring hope or simply put an end to the waiting?

Can a single letter change the lives of four people? Claire McDermott and her grandchildren are about to discover letters are a journey of the heart which can ultimately deliver people to their destination.


Reviews for Cracks -
  • Reviewed By Samantha Rivera for Readers' FavoriteElizabeth is a woman whose sole purpose in life is to be a good wife and mother. She has no care in the world but to accomplish these goals and she works hard at them despite the treatment she is given at the hands of her husband. When Elizabeth falls ill suddenly during her pregnancy with their last child, her husband determines to have nothing to do with her. Unfortunately that means her children (including her newborn son) will also have nothing to do with her. It's almost a year before Elizabeth is finally able to see her young children again, but even then things are not what they might seem in Cracks in the Sidewalk.Cracks in the Sidewalk is the type of book that you can't stop thinking about long after you put it down. Elizabeth is a woman that any woman would be proud to be. She is able to roll with the punches and even when people behave in a reprehensible way towards her she is incapable of truly hating them and can only feel sorry for the love they don't have. Her plight is one no mother would ever want to find herself in, but at the same time it is one that will draw you in. This is a heart-wrenching story but it is also a beautiful one of love and devotion and forgiveness. For Elizabeth's children and her mother it is also a story of miracles and of overcoming any obstacle life may put in your way. An excellent book by Bette Lee Crosby.
  • A moving, emotional story...when I read this book I felt so moved, I was crying at the end...writing flowed beautifully...depth of characters and insight kept me turning pages.-Bria Burton
  • A compelling story...Well written, with a realistic, compassionate telling, Cracks In the Sidewalk will bring readers into the family, happy to be a part of it.-Angie Mangino

Literary Awards for Cracks in the Sidewalk -
Amazon Family Saga Bestseller
FPA President’s Book Award
Royal Palm Literary Award
Cracks will be on sale at all retailers.

Grab your copy of this emotionally powerful book that’s based on a true story.  Cracks In The Sidewalk is on sale for 99¢ through August 31, 2014!


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