Chasing Quetzalcoatl to the American Dream



 photo Chasing Quetzalcoatl to the American Dream_zpsgjocjmp8.jpg
War, Fiction
Publisher: Xlibris

 photo add-to-goodreads-button_zpsc7b3c634.png


Set in the Southwest, this is a story of soul evolution – the story of a soldier who came back from Vietnam and knew he had to adapt to a rapidly changing world.  The story chronicles his transformation from a soldier to a man of God, but for him the process of change was not always kind.  Making his journey more difficult is the fact that he comes from a mixture of two cultures, Native American (Navajo) and white.  He encounters people who are further along the path in their soul evolution than he is, along with incredible obstacles to his education and business endeavors.  But most importantly, he must learn to reconcile his warrior nature with God’s plan for him.



About the Author

 photo Chasing Quetzalcoatl to the American Dream Author_zpsex82whwf.jpg
Garret Godwin received his BA in English from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and his MA in English literature from Temple University in Philadelphia.  He was the Robert Sterling Clark scholar in classics at St. John’s College in Sante Fe, New Mexico, and he holds an MBA from the University of Pittsburgh.  He is the author of True Philadelphia Stories (aa collection of short stories and essays)< three novels – “Chasing Quetzalcoatl TO The American Dream:, :Down and Out in Philadelphia and New York:, and “Through THe Dark Looking Glass” and an anthology of poetry, “As You Sow”.  He lives in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania.



Contact Link




Purchase Links

Amazon  

RABT Book Tours & PR

The Last Van Gogh



 photo The Last Van Gogh_zpswyriu8vb.jpg
Mystery, Thriller
Date Published: March 2019
Publisher: Black Rose Writing

 photo add-to-goodreads-button_zpsc7b3c634.png


“The Last Van Gogh” received the 2019 Maxy Award for Best Mystery-Detective Novel



A brilliant and troubled artist. A lost masterpiece. The desperate search for the truth.

An unknown Van Gogh painting disappears from France at the outbreak of World War Two. A notorious con man later claims he smuggled the immense painting to the U.S. where it is never seen again. Ninety years later, his two sons, Adam and Wesley Barrow, discover letters that supposedly confirm the painting’s existence, now valued at $250 million if it exists.

Dogged by a dysfunctional childhood and skeptical of his father’s tale, Adam at first dismisses the old letters.

The painting’s possible existence also attracts the attention of three unscrupulous collectors, all  former associates of his  father, one of whom engages a professional killer to find the painting.

Doubtful of its existence, Adam teams with Katya Veranova, a beautiful KGB defector and ex-assassin, as they travel to Holland, Paris, California, and New York on a desperate mission, forming an intimate but tenuous bond. Tracked by the unseen contract killer and threatened at every turn, Adam and Kat face increasing danger in their quest to find the last Van Gogh.





Excerpt

Chapter Four



            The ambulance bearing Wes disappeared around the corner onto Wells Street, siren moaning as traffic pulled to the curb to let Chicago’s latest casualty pass. They’d removed Vasily’s body after a flurry of police photographs, Chicago’s finest dispersing the gawkers. The storm whipped gray curtains of rain off Lake Michigan, washing blood from the sidewalk as I surveyed the damage.

            Red and blue strobes atop the remaining police cars illuminated my gallery like a roadside strip club. Inside the shattered window, a desecrated painting hung askew on the nearest wall, its frame splintered, the canvas holed by bullets. Beneath the destroyed Expressionist nude, crumbled wallboard fragments littered my proud new carpet. None of it mattered so long as Wes was alive.

             I raised my coat collar and retreated beneath the awning followed by a bored Chicago police sergeant, glass crunching under our shoes. The cop was a street veteran down to a scarred chin and wary expression, his belly encroaching on his belt buckle. He removed his brimmed hat and brushed rainwater from the clear plastic covering, wiping the checkered band with a thick thumb before he tugged it back on with a street-weary sigh.

            “Looks like you and your brother dodged a bullet,” he said with a caustic half-smile. Discomfited by my expression, he said, “Well, he didn’t actually dodge it. The EMT’s said the bullet nicked the back of his calf without finding bone. Some blood loss but no permanent damage.”

            “I’ve got to call his wife,” I said.

            “Sure, in a minute. First, you wanna tell me what happened?”

            Across the rain-slicked street, the space sat empty where the Lincoln had waited for us. “We walked out and someone started shooting from a car parked across the street.”

            The cop contemplated my shattered window. “I don’t figure the boys from the projects, but you never know about those crazy bastards.” 

            I shook my head, recalling the tinted window sliding down. Maybe a loan shark fed up with Wes’s late payments? “The car was a black stretch Lincoln, the kind limo owners drive.”

            The cop took a cheap spiral notebook from his yellow raincoat and made a note. “But it could be gang bangers the projects. They like to cruise the streets at night,” he said. “Lot of random shootings. The worst call themselves the Deuce’s Disciples.” He kicked at the glass rubble around our feet. “I think tonight probably was a screw-up. Mistaken identity or drug deal gone bad.”

            I didn’t say so but the cop’s reasoning didn’t feel right, a bunch of brainless bangers shooting up an art gallery from a limousine. Glad to be out of the rain, the cop made another note and took on the jaded expression of investigating endless mayhem. Another Saturday night shooting and one more bewildered citizen he was supposed to protect.

           “The dead guy,” he asked. “Customer?”      

           “One of my artists.” I almost told him about Vasily’s uncle and decided against it. The police would find out soon enough, and a whole new avenue of investigation would begin, including my association with Viktor Krushenko. I didn’t want to think about it.

            The sergeant closed the notebook. “The detectives will want to talk with you tomorrow.” He frowned at the rain blowing through my broken window. “Lousy fucking weather. Better get something over that hole. We’ll keep a man here until you leave,”

            He ambled back to the circus parade of flashing lights and I went inside, wondering where in hell I’d find someone to board up a window on Saturday night. I’d lugged the exposed paintings to the work area, too disheartened to touch the ruined painting. I thought about Viktor and knew I should call him, but I put it off. Viktor would know about the attack soon enough and I tried not to think about what might follow. Vasily was dead and that would bring repercussions for someone. Possibly me.

            I called Barbara and got her calmed down after a few minutes, explaining Wes was basically okay. She kept asking me why Wes had been shot but I had no answer. I gave her the name of the hospital where they’d taken him and said I’d meet her there. Hanging up, I stared at the jagged hole where my front window once existed. I waved to the cop stationed at the door and went to my office. Thumbing my iPhone for repair companies I located one open 24/7. The answering service claimed they’d be on their way within the hour and I almost believed the voice. Bundled in a raincoat I walked outside and told the patrolman to go home, that I’d wait until the hole was boarded up.

            I pulled up a chair by the front door as the adrenaline ebbed, watching cars slow to ogle the destruction. Gusts of rain gleefully destroyed my new carpet and I tried not to calculate replacement cost, wondering if my insurance covered gunfire. To my surprise a panel truck arrived half an hour later. Two workmen hammered up plywood sheeting, the rough wooden patch blighting the front of my beautiful gallery.

            Not owning a car in a city where parking was a mixture of fate and voodoo, I called Uber to take me to the hospital. During the ride, it occurred to me the gunshots had been oddly muffled. I hadn’t told the cop, but the recollection increased my uneasiness. Why would underage gangsters or a shyster bother with a silencer?


                                                            ***


            Wes had been discharged by the time I reached the hospital. A young black intern assured me the injury wasn’t serious enough to keep him overnight. In the midst of usual Saturday night mayhem and need for beds, they’d bound the wound and released him with a supply of pain killers.

            It was still raining as I called Uber again and headed for Wes’s apartment. Barbara let me in and I found Wes with a glass in his hand, leg propped on an ottoman, his smile vacant.

            “Hey, this Vicodin is great stuff,” he said as if he’d discovered the solution to world peace.

Barbara sat on the arm of his chair and shook her head at me with less than fawning eyes. She inclined her head at the glass in his hand.

            “Water,” she informed me.

            Maybe the shooting would prove a respite for him. Provide an enforced vacation from his favorite lounges and liquor stores. Barbara sure as hell wasn’t going to let him mix painkillers with booze. I pulled up a straight-backed chair from the dining room and tried to smile.

            “You okay?” I asked.

            “Is Vasily dead?”

            I nodded.

            “Damn. He seemed like a great guy.”

“He was.”

            Wes shifted his weight and winced. I looked around. The apartment was sparser than I remembered, and Barbara appeared five years older. She was a lean woman who never worried about her weight, a great wife to Wes but not my biggest fan. She believed I enabled him with loans and bail money, short term solutions to his deeper issues. But what was I supposed to do? Leave him to the mercy of the drunk tank? She loved him in her own patient way that allowed me to look beyond her faults, mainly her dislike of me.

             She hovered over Wes, curly auburn hair and blouse still damp from the rain, her face wet with tears. “This is quite a night,” she snapped, her voice trembling as she brushed away a limp strand of hair. “Our home gets broken into, then you call to tell me Wes has been shot.”

            “You got robbed?” was all I could think to say.

            “Never imagined the art business was this violent,” Wes laughed, his eyes swimming with the Vicodin. “Russian gangsters and artists murdered in the street.”

            “You sure you’re alright?”

            He held up the glass of water. “I’m fine, but I never needed a drink more in my life. What the hell happened?”

            “The cops aren’t sure.”

            “Great location you picked, Adam” Barbara said over her shoulder as she strode to the kitchen. “A trendy neighborhood. You serve Sneaky Pete wine at your gala last night?”

            “C’mon, Barbara,” Wes croaked.

            I resented her criticism. I hadn’t envisioned a shooting gallery when I selected the location. “You’re clear on the other side of town and you got robbed,” I reminded her, although the sparse apartment didn’t appear a likely target.

            “We need to talk about what happened,” Wes said.

            “I’ll talk with detectives tomorrow. The cop told me…”

            “Not about the shooting,” Wes said. “The break-in.”

            “Wes,” Barbara called from the kitchen, “don’t start again.”

            “He needs to know.”

            “Know what?” I asked.

            Barbara sat on Wes’s chair arm again and lightly ran her fingers through his hair. “He’s not making a lot of sense, what with the pills and all,” she said. “Something about a Van Gogh painting your father claimed to have owned.”

            “He told me about that, but what am I missing here?”

            “The letters are gone,” Wes said. “We checked but they’re not here. Nothing else was taken.”

            “You sure the letters were here?”

            “I changed clothes before I came to the gallery. They were in my jacket.” He looked on the verge of bursting into tears. “Our one link to the painting.”

            “You’re sure they were stolen.”

            “I’m a recovering drunk, not a moron,” Wes snapped, slumping back in the chair as the pills worked their magic.

            Barbara shot me a warning look that hovered between ‘help me’ and ‘get the hell out of here.’ It was obvious they’d fought a war over a fictional masterpiece that would solve their problems.

            Wes bent forward and winced. “Dammit, Barbara, it’s real.”

            She searched his haggard face, her own reflecting defeat fostered by years of disappointment. She started to reply but looked away.

            “Okay, I’ll agree our old man was crazy,” Wes admitted, “but he had no reason to lie to us. No money in lying. If he owned a forgery, why didn’t he pawn it off on somebody years ago? God knows he always needed money.”

            “This is crazy,” Barbara said. “What about us? You’re putting this fantasy before everything we’re trying to do. You’re in no shape to traipse after some painting. In case you haven’t noticed, we’re almost broke. Where do you think we’ll find money to search for your Eldorado? You have a portfolio or bank account I don’t know about?”

            “Maybe we can find a backer.” Wes insisted. I’d heard the same desperation when he discovered a liquor bottle was empty. He looked up at me. “What about your gangster friend?”

            “Viktor Krushenko is not my friend.”

            “He was Vasily’s uncle. He could help us.”

            “Wes, do you have any idea who these people are? Where their money comes from? It’s possible Viktor was trying to get rid of me after our argument. The bastard’s crazy, you saw that. You heard how unhappy he was about the split Vasily was getting. Maybe he meant the shooting as an object lesson to me and he screwed up. Either way, he won’t be a happy Boy Scout when he finds out Vasily’s dead.”

            “We need to find a way,” Wes said, his optimism bolstered by the pain killers.

            Barbara turned away again and I was out of arguments. Our dead father was ripping our lives apart yet again, his sons lost in his dysfunctional shadow.


About the Author

 photo The Last Van Gogh Author Will Ottinger_zpscedmoyas.jpg
Will Ottinger spent his early life in Savannah, Georgia. A graduate of Emory University with a BA in history, he is also a graduate of Northwestern Graduate Trust School in Chicago.

His first novel, A Season for Ravens, published in 2014, was named by Reader Views as one of its top-three Historical Fiction works of 2014-2015.  The second novel, The Savannah Betrayals, was published in March, 2018.  His third novel, The Last Van Gogh, was released in March, 2019 by Black Rose Writing. Windrow and Greene Publishers in Great Britain earlier published his non-fiction work on the art of historical miniatures, an art form in which he gained international recognition as a Grand Master painter.  He authored a magazine column for seven years, trained and lectured extensively in the financial field, wrote articles for trust and investment publications, and has spoken to large and small audiences. He served as president of Scribbler’s Ink, a Houston writers’ group.

Former founder and owner of a wealth management training/consulting firm, he and his wife also owned an art gallery in downtown Chicago. Both are inveterate fly fishermen and now live in Atlanta Georgia.


Contact Links



Purchase Links

Kobo  
iBooks  

RABT Book Tours & PR

Warlord


 photo Warlord_zpsambsmsnz.jpg
Outcasts Book 5
Sci-fi Romance
Date Published:  May 4, 2019
Publisher: Anything-but-Ordinary Books

 photo add-to-goodreads-button_zpsc7b3c634.png


When Shivon Roxtin tries to incite a rebellion among the human females on the Outcast planet, she’s sent to the Relentless. The ship’s commander, Warlord Torak Payne, thrives on challenge, so he’s looking forward to taming the fiery human. Still, war with the Sarronti is creeping ever closer, and the last thing he needs is an unruly mate. Tempers flare, and sparks fly from the moment they first meet. Their battle of wills is quickly surpassed by their consuming need for each other, but can they channel the emotional intensity into something constructive before they’re consumed by the flames?



Other Books in the Outcasts Series




 photo Heretic 1_zpsbx4b5glm.jpg
Heretic
Outcasts, Book 1
Publisher: Anything-but-Ordinary Books
Published: April 2018

Restless and embittered by an abusive past, Arton the Heretic finds himself in a battle of wills with Lily, a gorgeous geneticist. She holds the key to the future of his people, but she was brought to this savage world against her will and that’s an insult she’ll not soon forget. Their attraction is instantaneous and intense, yet each has valid reasons for mistrusting the other. He wants her, is consumed with the need to claim her, but he can’t focus on the future until he deals with the past.





 photo Marauder_zps8rpos00z.jpg
Marauder
Outcasts, Book 2
Publisher: Anything-but-Ordinary Books
Published: June 28, 2018

Rex Dravon, a notorious smuggler, is one of the Outcasts’ most important allies. Many of the Outcasts’ philosophies and approaches to life in general appeal to him, but he’s hesitant to commit to any cause. Hoping to entice Rex into committing, Arton the Heretic, tells Rex that he is genetically compatible with one of the “captive brides”, a feisty blonde named Thea Cline.

Thea is still enraged that she was dragged from Earth without her permission, and she’s recovering from a horrendous tragedy. She sneaks aboard the Marauder hoping to steal a weapon. Instead she’s confronted by the ship’s handsome commander. She knows to be wary of Rex because of his reputation, but she’s instantly, and powerfully, drawn to him. His offer to help her escape comes a little too quickly and she fears he has ulterior motives. Is he simply hoping to lure her into his bed—a fate she’s not sure she’d mind—or is his motivation more nefarious?





 photo Tracker_zpsfd6znbfn.jpg
Tracker
Outcasts, Book 3
Publisher: Anything-but-Ordinary Books
Published: September 2018

Xorran, a famed tracker, is sent to find two human females kidnapped by the Outcasts’ enemy. His search seems futile until he encounters Sara and a feisty battle cat cub. He’s fascinated by the tiny animal, but feels an immediate and powerful connection with the wisecracking human.

Sara is still angry about being brought to the Outcasts’ planet without her permission, yet her stubbornness is no match for “the pull”. As they work together to rescue her friend, their passion flares ever hotter. Can Xorran prove to Sara that he wants more than a torrid affair? Now that he’s found a potential mate, he will settle for nothing less than forever.





 photo Assassin - Outcasts Book 4_zpseymsk8eb.jpg
Assassin
Outcasts Book 4
Publisher: Anything-but-Ordinary Books
Published: January 2019

Torrin’s simple mission is seriously complicated when he finds Arrista, a lovely Sarronti female, in need of rescue. The Sarronti resent the Outcasts and continually sabotage their efforts to build a settlement on the primitive planet. But Arrista isn’t just any Sarronti. She’s the personal servant of one of the most powerful Sarronti. The information Arrista can provide would be vitally important to the Outcasts, so Torrin is ordered to use their mutual attraction to question her.

Arrista has been taught to fear and mistrust the savage Outcasts, so why does she find Torrin so fascinating, so desirable? It’s not just his muscular body and rugged features. He is kinder and more protective than any male she has ever known. She is drawn to him by a force so compelling it leaves her no choice but surrender. She wants him, needs him, but can she trust him not to break her heart?

Note to Readers: This book contains detailed descriptions of sizzling passion only suitable for mature readers. Certain plot elements carry on from book to book. Though Assassin can be read as a standalone, it’s more fun to read the series in order.




About the Author


 photo Warlord Author - Cyndi Friberg_zpsxyr0tfpw.jpg
Passionate Sci-Fi with a touch of danger and a whole lot of sass. Cyndi has written about rock stars, vampires, and cat shifters, but she’s currently focused on outer space. Her stories are fun, fast-paced, and seriously hot. She has made the USA Today Top 100, and every book in the Battle Born series landed on Amazon’s Top 100. She is currently working on Outcasts, a spin-off series set in the Battle Born universe.



Contact Links

Website   
Twitter   


Purchase Link

RABT Book Tours & PR

Stars…Mountain




Wendy C. Jorgensen grew up in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, and began writing in second grade, furiously recording her hopes and dreams in a denim-covered diary. Besides hanging out at the library, she loved soaking up the rays—while reading a book, of course. During her sophomore year of high school, Wendy’s family moved to Carson City, Nevada, and she thought her life had ended. The desert, sagebrush, and cowboys were a far cry from the ocean, palm trees, and surfers of Florida. Fortunately, within six months, the family relocated to Lake Tahoe, and her outlook improved dramatically.
Wendy started college at the University of Colorado in Boulder, followed by a year at the University of Nevada in Reno and two years at Brigham Young University, where she worked as a reporter and copy editor for The Daily Universe. A decision to take a short break from school turned into a twelve-year college hiatus in Lake Tahoe. After a two-year stint in the civil engineering program at California State University in Sacramento, Wendy returned to Colorado and graduated from CU with a degree in English Writing. It was a long, but valuable, educational journey.
After twenty years in Colorado, Wendy recently moved back to Northern Nevada, close enough to Lake Tahoe to enjoy the beautiful scenery but far enough away to escape the heavy winters. She lives with a wonderful husband and a golden retriever who’s often mistaken for a sloth. Her two brainy and creative sons make her want to be smarter. Wendy hopes someday to journey to the stars.



Facebook ~ Website ~
Twitter ~ Instagram ~



A teenage girl recovers in a Sacramento hospital, the sole survivor of a terrible accident that killed her parents—parents she can’t remember. All she knows for sure is she’s in danger. For the girl, known only as Angie, staying put is not an option.


After saving a friend from a vicious attack reveals she’s no ordinary human, Angie races to find a safe place. A chance encounter with the intriguing Michael Winter leads her over the Sierras to Lake Tahoe, where she’s nearly abducted. As she escapes to Colorado, she struggles to unravel who she is and where she came from; instead the mystery of her identity deepens.

Her only hope is to find the truth before it’s too late.



Snippet:

I saw him first, probably because I was looking. Not looking for him specifically, but searching for someone, anyone who might seem familiar at the bus station. Including the police.
            He reclined on a graffiti-covered bench across from the ticket counter, his head propped up against a massive orange backpack. Longish blond hair touched the collar of a gray t-shirt, and black jeans covered his impossibly long legs. His face was somewhat ordinary, except for thick, blond eyebrows that gave him a rather intense look. What really caught my attention was the book he had clasped in his hands—Contact by Carl Sagan. Instantly, I remembered it was one of my favorites.
I focused all my energy on the book, struggling to remember the story. It had something to do with an astronomer who makes contact with aliens. A memory surfaced of my mom giving me the book. Her expression could only be described as hopeful.
The boy must have felt my gaze, because he turned toward me. Kaja! What happened next was like anticipating the taste of plain vanilla yogurt but getting a mouthful of almond cheesecake instead. As our eyes met, a pulsating shockwave coursed through my body, triggering a flash of recognition. Without even knowing what I was doing, I moved toward him, pulled forward by something powerful.  



To view our blog schedule and follow along with this tour visit our Official Event page 




Walking the Talk


 photo Walking the Talk_zpsitjkqua5.jpg
Christian Living
Date Published: August 2018
Publisher: Christian Faith Publishing

 photo add-to-goodreads-button_zpsc7b3c634.png


Heaven or Hell?
Every person has that decision to make. Choosing Jesus as your Lord and Savior is the only way to Heaven. As believers, we have the opportunity every day to lead our lives in a way to impact those around us. We may be the only Bible some folks read.
Grab your Bible and join us. We’ll focus on the Lord and growing together. Our goal is leading a lifestyle that meets people where they are at daily. Where we can share Jesus and His love with them. Who are you bringing with you?




About the Author


 photo Walking the Talk Author Logo 2_zpsqh2ag4qn.jpg
Sheila Srna grew up on a farm in a Christian home.  Her family attended church and Bible study each Sunday.  Her husband farms while she works as an accountant.  Over the years, she has served the Lord in youth ministry, stewardship, evangelism, and Strategic Ministry teams.  Sheila loves the Lord and always looks forward to worship services and Bible study.  Her day starts and ends with prayer and includes Bible study time in the evening.  Precious moments with the Lord.



Contact Links

YouTube  



Purchase Links

B&N  

RABT Book Tours & PR

Courage to Stand

 photo 7_Sandra_Spurgeon_Bestseller_zpsnl3rfpck.jpg

Non-Fiction / Law
Published: May 21st, 2019

 photo add-to-goodreads-button_zpsc7b3c634.png

Success Through Passion and Endurance

As a leading expert in trial law, Sandra Spurgeon masterfully outlines the art and science of case-winning strategies inside and outside the courtroom.  Having successfully litigated thousands of cases, with over 120 of them litigated to verdict in both state and federal jurisdictions, she reveals the secrets of successful litigation techniques.

You will learn her highly effective strategies for:

Case Selection

Discovery Process

Trial Preparation

Execution in the Courtroom

Spurgeon not only clearly describes these methods, but also demonstrates how to apply them – through real examples of courtroom “war” stories.  Based on her vast experience spanning nearly two decades, Courage to Stand – Mastering Your Trial Strategy, is designed to not only help the beginning attorney, but to also sharpen the skills of veteran lawyers.

This work goes far beyond theory and reaches into the trenches to reveal how some of the most difficult cases can be won by utilizing a proven synthesized plaintiff and defense litigation practice which has collected millions of dollars in settlements and verdicts for her clients.  Having successfully litigated 1000s of cases with 120+ litigated to verdict in both state and federal jurisdictions, she reveals the secrets of successful litigation techniques.



About the Author


 photo author_zpswcv9afhg.jpg

Sandra Spurgeon has been a practicing trial lawyer since 1990. In that time, she has successfully litigated in excess of 120 cases through verdict in both state and federal jurisdictions.

Throughout her career, Sandra has synthesized a plaintiff and defense litigation practice that has afforded her great insight and a unique perspective in “getting to the heart” of the case from the beginning stages thru trial. Thru experience, she has achieved trial excellence in the courtroom.

From a defense perspective, Şandra’s includes not only the handling of commercial litigation but also, the defense of insurance claims, healthcare professional liability claims, coverage and extra-contractual issues and fire & casualty claims.

In Kinney vs. Butcher, 131 S.W.3d 357 (Ky. App. 2004), her successful argument presented to the Kentucky Court of Appeals resulted in the decision delineating the standard for an award of punitive damages. In Pike vs. GEICO, 174 Fed. Appx. 311 (6th Circ. 2006), she successfully litigated the prescribed time period for filing an underinsured motorist claim in KY.

Sandra’s practice also includes the representation of victims and families who have suffered catastrophic losses and has collected settlements and judgments in excess of $50,000,000. In 2016 & 2017, she collected in excess of $16,000,000 in settlements and/or judgments. In 2017, Sandra litigated a Federal Tort Claim to judgment with the verdict in excess of $2,000,000. Chrispen vs. United States of America, 7:16-132. Although she has always allowed her verdicts and results to speak for themselves, she considers the verdict in Dotson vs. Sony Electronics, 7:02-CV-35 among one of her biggest accomplishments. Sandra successfully litigated this res ipsa loquitor products liability claim to a multi-million-dollar judgment unanimous verdict in federal court on behalf of a burn victim.

Through experience Sandra has developed a systematic approach for handling of complex litigation matters beginning at case selection, through the discovery process, trial preparation and execution in the courtroom. Additionally, she serves as an expert witness and lectures before various organizations and clients on trial practice, evidence and Kentucky law. Sandra is adept at handling complex legal issues and is a skilled legal writer. Sandra is active in her community where she currently serves on the Board of Directors for Foster Council and Women Leading Kentucky. She has also served as parent representative for the Fayette County School Systems. She is an advocate for children and families in her community and was instrumental in the drafting of the Michelle P. Waiver program for children in KY. She is the proud mother of two adult daughters, Victoria and Elizabeth.



Contact Links



Purchase Links


RABT Book Tours & PR

A Savage Kultur


 photo A Savage Kultur6_zpsusf5swr3.jpg
Historical Fiction
Date Published: May 1, 2019

 photo add-to-goodreads-button_zpsc7b3c634.png

In Oxford, England, Ava, a Jewish art student at Oxford University, receives a heart-wrenching letter from her grandfather after he dies. From the letter, she learns that her grandfather has given her his London art gallery, which he says will secure her future, as well as provide a place for her to grow her artistic talents and follow her passion for art. The letter also describes his one last wish—that she find a treasured Vincent van Gogh painting, The Lovers: The Poet’s Garden IV, that belonged to her grandparents and was deemed degenerate and looted by the Nazis in 1937.

Arriving for the first time at the gallery, she discovers old photographs in a secret room that recount the harrowing past—a Nazi propaganda parade in 1937. She quickly becomes aware that the room and the gallery, with an empty frame for the missing van Gogh, hold such rich memories of her grandparents. As conversations with her family members and those connected to the painting spur memories, the book switches back and forth between the current timeline and the timeline during the war to tell the stories of those affected by the painting and its fate.



On the train to her grandfather’s funeral, she meets Gordon Rose, an FBI agent, disguised as an art restitution lawyer. He helps her track down the missing van Gogh, while at the same time, he goes after an Neo-Nazi albino art forger named Luther.



Ava pays several visits to her grandmother, her only living relative who lived through the war, hoping she remembers something about the past that will be a clue to the missing painting and their lives in Germany during the war. It is in these hours that she sits with her grandmother that she learns about her grandparents finding refuge on an Austrian farm after they flee Munich and of Charlotte, a local farm girl who lives at Lake Toplitz.

Ava’s grandmother who struggles with dementia recalls Charlotte’s last name. With this information, Ava tracks down Charlotte at her home at Lake Toplitz and questions the old woman about what happened at the lake. On her last breath, Charlotte speaks of the secrets hidden in the lake.

When Gordon breaks into Luther’s Austrian hideout, he believes Luther has forged the missing van Gogh painting. Luther claims it is the real deal. To right a wrong and under the duress of Gordon and law enforcement, Luther returns the painting to Ava.

Ava takes the van Gogh painting to her grandmother. Still not sure if it’s the real thing or not, Ava wants to bring her grandmother closure during her last days. Gordon wonders if they should call an art expert to examine the painting. She believes it was meant to be there, whether real or fake. In the end, Gordon and Ava reveal their true feelings for one another.



 Excerpt



Ava stared at the envelope and then at her mother.

“What do you mean by ‘change my life?’”

 “Just open it, darling. I believe what’s inside will shape your life in so many amazing ways.”

The envelope was sealed close and Ava took the knife from the table and gently passed it under the seal.

“I have not read this letter,” Vivienne said. “This was left for your eyes only.”

Ava’s heart began to pound in her chest. She pulled out a handwritten letter and a gold key.

“A key?” Ava asked, looking up at her mother.

“Read the note, daughter.”

Hands shaking, Ava opened the letter and began to read.



My dearest Ava:

I have wanted to give you this special key to a remarkable place—my gallery—for a long time. Do you remember eight years ago when I sold the gallery? How very sad I was, but I stayed with that decision because, at the time, it was the right thing to do. It was a thorn in one’s side, to a degree, too much work and responsibility for an old man like me. Then, your grandmother became ill and so I sold the gallery. In an extraordinary circumstance, I was walking by the gallery many months ago and I discovered it was for sale. The current owner had fallen ill and no one in his family wanted the gallery. I stood in front of my old gallery as I did the day I bought it 30 years ago. Tears in my eyes and a flutter in my heart, I always knew that showplace was my destiny. Well, dear Ava, I had to have it and so I bought the salon that very day. Now it is yours, and while I am not there to see you flourish and grow in the most special of places, I know you will thrive in that gallery, as I did. You, my darling, are the only person who can carry on this legacy. Art links us. It makes us human, almost spiritual.

You are truly unique and gifted with a beautiful mind and an extraordinary artistic talent. You will be finished with school one of these days and now you have a way to make a living and I know you can make this burgeon. Daunting…yes…but always remember that I am always with you in your heart, an angel to guide you, and keep in mind what I always said that nature has no straight lines. A Beech tree does not grow straight and smooth, but twists, sprawls, and bulges. I have always believed, and more and more towards the end of my life, that the shortest distance to somewhere, to something, is never a straight line, instead it is a curvy one, zigzagging in the course of life amid conflicting forces. A very complex path; indeed, and the path you take will not be easy and straightforward. It’s twisting and bumpy, but it offers the greatest opportunity. Keep the gallery safe and make it vibrant. Give it a boost, and make art thrive in this ever changing, complex world. Without art, the world would be less bright, less beautiful. N’est-ce pas?

Listen carefully now, granddaughter. I dislike speaking of the past, a grievous time I buried deep inside the darkest cavities of my soul. The war caused your grandmother and me a great amount of angst and suffering. I have never felt terror like I did then, and I hope you never will. At night, I often would wake in a cold sweat from awful, vivid dreams, and unfortunately, when I opened my eyes, reality did not seem much better. We lived in a horrific world filled with extreme hatred during the war. When it was all over, it was far easier to close that part of me off and never speak of it again. These wounds don’t heal; they are forever ingrained in my soul.

A monster of the worst kind, Hitler’s greed was unlimited, his Nazi reign of terror horrifying. As evil spread across Europe, I saw the death of humanity and I witnessed a world where owners of great art exchanged their treasures for their lives—the plunder of Europe was the greatest art theft in history. The Nazis waged a cultural war on Europe’s Jewish community, and it is quite ironic how ardent and persistent they were about collecting and preserving art works as they went about completely ruining the lives of their Jewish owners. Art became a symbol of status for the Nazi regime. Hitler’s pillaging armies snatched countless pieces of valuable art off museum walls and from private collections across Europe. Hitler wanted to create the greatest collection of art in the world—a Führermuseum—his mission became stealing art from the rest of the world. Of the 600,000 works of art looted during the Nazi era, tens of thousands are still missing and unidentified. Amazing, isn’t it? Stealing art is like stealing someone’s soul. This is the final unfinished business of the war, and it will take the persistence and fortitude of your generation and future generations to continue to locate pieces adrift in the teeming and complex art world. My hope is that every piece the Nazis stole is found and returned to their Jewish heirs. Justice must be sought, and you and others of your generation and even those who come after you, must help to awaken the present to realize the wrongs of the past.

The events of the war are losing their immediacy; they are being shelved like any other major event in the history of time. Questions about it will remain probably forever and some will never have answers. The Jews of today have inherited the obligation to provide future generations with information so they can better understand the past for a better, more peaceful future. I only know of and see the past, Ava, but you are the present. Going forward, you must help right the wrongs of the past—a very dark and haunting time. I believe that an understanding of the past and preserving the memory of the past, can bring an understanding of the present and the future.

 This is my last secret, my last wish: A great family heirloom—a splendid painting by Vincent van Gogh, The Lovers: The Poet’s Garden IV— was confiscated from our family by the Nazis in 1937. It was declared “degenerate” and it has been missing ever since they took it in 1937. Your great-grandfather, Joseph, bought the piece at an auction. As you can imagine, it cost a large sum of money even then, and today, it is worth a great sum of money.

After the war, your grandmother and I put forth an immense effort and all of our energy into rebuilding our lives and starting a family, rather than tracking down lost art. We needed a break from the past and looking ahead at a brighter future somehow helped us slowly forget the past and hide it away deep inside. It was a time for us to heal and find peace, and a time to heal our saddened souls. I could not speak of my experiences for a long time, and nor could your grandmother, and until now, I did not want my experience with the past to contaminate you in any way. Some things remain secrets because there isn’t really a great way to tell them to the ones we love. It was meant to protect you. Now I believe these secrets are crucial to your life and your identity.

I have searched for this painting for quite some time, and now I must turn that extraordinary task to you, Ava. Searching for lost art is very different today than it was when I tried. Today, the internet is filled with articles about looted art, as well as searchable databases to locate missing and looted art. So many resources are now available to you. Ava, you have the energy and the determination to seek what we lost. I hope this is not a burden, but a quest to find something of tremendous value and beauty—just one of countless cultural treasures that vanished without a trace. This painting is part of your heritage and is something you can pass on to your children, and so forth.

There is much to tell about this wonderful work of art—The Lovers: The Poet’s Garden IV. I’ll begin with a letter the talented van Gogh wrote to his brother, Theo, in October of 1888. He wrote a fabulous description: “Here is a very vague sketch of my last canvas, a row of green cypresses against a pink sky with a pale lemon crescent. The foreground is vague land and sand and some thistles. Two lovers, the man in pale blue with a yellow hat, the woman with a pink bodice and a black skirt.”

The painting was completed in 1888 as an oil on canvas. In February of that same year, van Gogh arrived in the southern Provencal town of Arles, France. With the financial help and support of his brother, he moved into the Yellow House. His bedroom overlooked Place Lamartine, a small public park. This lush oasis provided much inspiration and joy for the artist. The Poet’s Garden IV was the fourth work in a four-painting series as a decoration of linked pictures for the guest bedroom Paul Gauguin would occupy in the Yellow House. Unfortunately, sweet Ava, this house no longer exists as it was destroyed by bombs in the 1940s during World War II.

I think this glorious painting expresses so many things, such as emotions of mourning and loss and immortality. The garden’s vitality still lives somewhere with someone who is probably undeserving of its infinite beauty and value; for someone who steals art; therefore, steals its brilliance, its soul, its life. Stolen art is a great theft to an individual, to society, and to the world.

Art can make us feel small in the most beautiful way, the same way that man can make us feel insignificant in the absolute worst way.

We need more beauty in this world, Ava. Embrace this, my dear. Be determined, courageous and steadfast in this journey and in all you do. It’s transformative. Believe me. You are always up to a challenge, so why not this one?

And always remember that everything goes by like a dream, Ava…life can be fleeting, so use your beautiful eyes to capture all the most precious moments…flashes in your memory that create heartfelt moments. I love you ‘til the end of time and beyond.

Follow your heart and live your dreams.



Forever yours,

Your Dearest Poppy



Ava read every word through tears. “Oh, Mother,” Ava whispered, her head in her hands. “How beautiful.”

She took deep breaths to stop herself from crying out. She would be stronger than that, she told herself. He would want her to be stronger, to not break down. Something in those words awakened her. With her eyes closed, she vowed from within that with all the might and strength God could give her that she would fight to recapture the priceless van Gogh painting her grandfather, and even her great grandfather, admired and loved.


About the Author

 photo mon copy_zpsy3yyq4iv.jpg
Monique’s passion for writing began as a young girl while penning stories in a journal. Now she looks forward to deepening her passion by creating many unique stories that do nothing less than intrigue her readers.

Monique holds a degree in journalism from Southern Methodist University in Dallas. She is the author of a middle-grade book Once Upon a Time in Venice, historical fiction novel Across Great Divides, and historical fiction novel A Savage Kultur.

Monique was born in Cape Town, South Africa, and her grandparents were European Jews who fled their home as Hitler rose to power. It’s their story that inspired her to write Across Great Divides, her first historical novel.

Historical fiction lets you escape to another time and place; and Monique likes to explore the past so that we can potentially better understand the future.

Monique resides in Dallas, Texas, with her husband and son. She also works as a freelance writer.


Contact Links



Purchase Links



RABT Book Tours & PR