- "For Duty and Honor" by Leo J. Maloney
- Books Direct 2016 Christmas Giveaway
- "Phil!" by R. P. Momsen
- "Cries in the Wind" by Judy Bruce
- Quote of the Week by Alberto Manguel
- "Pigeon-Blood Red" by Ed Duncan
- "The Crush Saga Box Set" by Chrissy Peebles
- "Angles" by Erin Lockwood
- "The Keep" by Tenille Berezay
- "Alycat and the Thursday Dessert Day!" by Alysson Foti Bourque
- "Escape Velocity" by Susan Wolfe
- Quote of the Week by Jean Oram
- "Out of the Nest" by Gaia B. Amman
- "Wear White to Your Funeral" by Lisa Acerbo
- "Maggie Dove's Detective Agency" by Susan Breen
- "Single Chicas" by Sandra C. López
- "Old Wounds" by Giacomo Giammatteo
- Quote of the Week by William H. Gass
- "Rachel" by Caroline Clemmons
Posted: 22 Nov 2016 01:00 AM PST
EXCERPT and GIVEAWAY
For Duty and Honor
(A Dan Morgan Thriller)
by Leo J. Maloney
For Duty and Honor is the latest release in the Dan Morgan series by Leo J. Maloney. Also available: Termination Orders, Silent Assassin, Black Skies, Twelve Hours, and Arch Enemy.
This book blast and giveaway is brought to you by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours. Please be sure to visit the other participating blogs as well.
In this action-packed novella, Black Ops veteran Leo J. Maloney delivers a heart-pounding tale as fast, cold, and sleek as a 9mm bullet ...
The unthinkable has happened to operative Dan Morgan. Captured by the Russians. Imprisoned in the Gulag. Tortured by his cruelest, most sadistic enemy. But Morgan knows that every prisoner has a past - and every rival can be used. With the most unlikely of allies, Morgan hatches a plan. To save what's important, he must risk everything. And that's when the stakes go sky-high. Dan Morgan's got to keep fighting. For duty. And honor. And even certain death ...
The prisoner's body was a brick of exhaustion and pain.
Steel cuffs chafed against his raw wrists and ankles, the rough uniform scraping the burns and cuts that lined his arms and legs and pocked his torso. Even under the blackness of his hood, the prisoner smelled stale sweat mingled with his own breath: iron from the blood, acetone from the starvation. He could barely hold himself up against the jolting ride. All that was keeping him upright were the two thick guards at his sides boxing him in. At the outset, hours ago at the landing strip, the guards were in high spirits, joking and jesting in Russian, which the prisoner could not follow. Whenever he couldn't hold himself up anymore and leaned into one of them or into the front seat, they would box the prisoner's head and laugh, forcing him to sit upright again.
But as they drew nearer to their destination, and the car's heating lost ground against the cold, the guards grew quiet, like there was something grim about the place even to them.
The prisoner swung forward as the jeep came to an abrupt stop, tires on gravel. The doors opened and the spaces on his sides cleared as the men got out, leaving him exposed to the frigid Siberian air. Against this cold, the canvas uniform felt like nothing at all.
The guards unlocked the cuffs and yanked the prisoner out. Too tired to offer any resistance, he walked along, bare feet on the freezing stony ground. Someone pulled off his cowl. He was struck by a hurricane of light that made him so dizzy that he would have vomited, if there were anything in his stomach. It took a moment for the image to stop swimming and resolve itself into the barren landscape of rock and creeping brush lit by a sun low in the sky.
The Siberian tundra.
They prodded him forward. He trudged toward the Brutalist conglomeration of buildings surrounded by tall mesh fences and barbed wire. Prison camp. Gulag. The prisoner's trembling knee collapsed and he fell on the stony ground. A guard gave him a kick with a heavy, polished leather boot and pulled him to his feet.
They reached the top and entered the vakhta, the guardhouse. He passed through the first gate and was searched, rough hands prodding and poking at him. They then opened the second, leading him through, outside, into the yard. His gaze kept down, he saw guards' boots, and massive furry Caucasian shepherds, each taller than a full-grown man's waist. He didn't look up to see the bare concrete guard towers that overlooked the terrain for miles around or at the sharpshooters that occupied them.
He was pulled inside the nearest boxy building, walls painted with chipping murals of old Soviet propaganda, apple-cheeked youngsters over fields of grain and brave soldiers of the Red Army standing against the octopus of international capitalism. On the second floor, they knocked on a wooden door.
The guards opened the door, revealing an office with a vintage aristocratic desk. They pushed him onto the bare hardwood.
A man stood up with a creak of his chair. The prisoner watched as he approached, seeing from his vantage point only the wingtip oxfords and the hem of his pinstriped gabardine pants, walking around his desk, footsteps echoing in the concrete office.
"Da," a guard answered.
The man crouched, studying the prisoner's face. "You are one of General Suvorov's, are you not?" His voice was deep and filled with gravel and a heavy Russian accent.
The prisoner didn't respond—not that he needed to.
"You are tough, if he did not break you." He stood, brushing off unseen dust from his suit jacket. "And if he had broken you, you would be dead already. I am Nevsky, the warden. Welcome to my prison."
Praise for the Book
"Leo Maloney has a real winner with Duty and Honor - Gritty and intense, it draws you immediately into the action and doesn't let go." ~ Marc Cameron, New York Times Bestselling author of Brute Force
"Dan Morgan is one of the best heroes to come along in ages." ~ Jeffery Deaver
"The new master of the modern spy game." ~ Mark Sullivan
"Rings with authenticity." ~ John Gilstrap
"Fine writing and real insider knowledge." ~ Lee Child
"Leo Maloney proves he clearly knows his stuff." ~ Hank Phillippi Ryan
"A ripping story!" ~ Meg Gardiner
About the Author
Leo J. Maloney is a proud supporter of Mission K9 Rescue, which is dedicated to the service of retiring and retired military dogs and contract dogs and other dogs who serve. Mission K9 rescues, reunites, re-homes, rehabilitates, and repairs these hero dogs. Leo donates a portion of the proceeds from his writing to this organization. To find out more about Mission K9 Rescue, or to make your own donation, please visit www.missionk9rescue.org or go to www.k9gala.org.
Enter the blast-wide giveaway for a chance to win an ebook copy of For Duty and Honor by Leo J. Maloney (US/Canada only).
Posted: 22 Nov 2016 12:00 AM PST
Note to Sponsors
It's once again time for our annual Christmas giveaway. Everyone is welcome to join in, whether you are an author, a blogger, or a reader.
The giveaway will run a bit differently this year. Rather than asking for prize donations that you have to distribute, I am seeking US$5 donations via PayPal. In return for each donation, you will receive a spot in the giveaway for one of your social media links.
Payments can be made via the following link: https://www.paypal.me/BooksDirect/5usd.Simply change the "5" to "10", "15", "20", or other amount for two or more social media links.
If you would like to participate, please submit this form and your payment by 30 November.
The giveaway prizes will be determined once all donations have been collected, e.g., first prize of a $100 Amazon gift card or PayPal cash plus several smaller prizes.
The giveaway will be open internationally and will end on 22 December. Sponsors are welcome to enter the giveaway and are encouraged to share it with their followers. The winners will be announced on my blog and notified by email.
Thanking you in anticipation,
Posted: 21 Nov 2016 12:00 AM PST
A hilarious account of everything
by R. P. Momsen
Phil! A hilarious account of everything by R. P. Momsen is currently on tour with Worldwind Virtual Book Tours. The tour stops here today for an excerpt. Please be sure to visit the other tour stops as well.
A very funny science fiction adventure that will change the way you look at life, the universe and why we're all here.
Billions of years ago, our universe was born. Not really that terribly exciting for most life forms except of course yourselves ... and, well, Phil. The poor bastard who's had to watch over all you people the last billion or so years.
Well, finally after years of listening to all your griping, bitching and whining, always with some imaginary being getting all the credit, he's finally had it!
Phil has decided to explain what the world is, why you're here and how you can evolve finally into a species worth talking about at parties.
In this hilarious actual account, Phil takes two unwitting Physicists on the adventure of their lives, which isn't saying much for a couple of physicists, and shows them what life, the universe and lovely little corner pubs really is all about. They're transported to other dimensions to meet their better looking selves, get taken prisoner by an evil but very good looking race, fly through black holes and help the creation of a new planet all while their greatest challenge hangs in the balance, saving earth from the most evil, and best dressed, species the universe has ever seen.
Will they save earth? Has all the years of hard work Phil has done creating you beings be lost? Does any of this really matter?
"You gonna answer that?" Delphinia slurred. Typically an attractive female colleague, except now she had half a glass of Pan Universal Kumquat Juice down her front, and somehow an equal amount sprayed randomly throughout her hair. We were all drunk—she was winning.
"Just another idiotic human with some whiny 'I can't do anything for myself' question." "Are they still making you do that? Didn't you create some god chat line for them to look up on their own?" asked Braithwaight, a much larger and uglier version of myself who had the unusual characteristic of having the largest nostrils in the universe. You wouldn't know them as nostrils, of course, given that their size and look is of one of your outhouses, massively uneven, bright orange and dripping with something I'd rather not discuss.
"Ya, but they seem to be using it mostly for porn and watching other humans or animals doing idiotic stuff, which is even stranger when you realize that the average human does 4.8 stupid things per week; you would think watching each other in real time would keep them amused enough," I replied. Braithwaight was correct, after all—a number of years ago, I had instructed humans to create something called God Gab to answer all their questions and, hopefully, quit bothering me. As usual, they misunderstood, called it Google, and continued to harass me anyway.
"Slow... what dey say?" Delphinia slurred, spitting Pan Universal Kumquat Juice over both of us, which as it turned out was actually rather tasty; I decided to order one next despite it being a bit of a girly drink.
"Dear Lord." (Dear Phil, it should have actually read.) Please give me strength in dealing with my two kids; I'm always so tired, they stay awake for hours on end, I seem to be the only one in the house able to nap, they eat all my food, hide my weed and are even messier than my 3 ex husbands. I can't keep doing it. What should I do?"
"Signed 'lame-ass, stoned and grumpy Mom.' I added the last part." I ordered my drink despite Braithwaighte's sudden drunken episode of visualizing me in a short skirt with nice big perky ears; an odd and very unsexy effect of the alcohol.
"So, how do you answer it?" Braithwaight asked, refocusing himself.
"I usually give some form of positive bullshit advice that they ignore, and then they continue doing exactly what they've been doing for years," I replied.
"You should just sway what you twink then; who cares what they do?" Delphinia again slurred, though this time with more drooling than spitting, which was fine with me since I now had my own drink. Oddly enough, this had never occurred to me before, which just goes to show that the advice of a really drunk person should not be discounted even when slurred, spat, or dribbled. I took two large gulps of my drink, hoping to gain some more of this wisdom; my entire mind seemed to open up and swallow everything around me; my eyes fell out of my head, dropped off the table, and rolled under my now very short skirt, and then I spat the remaining mouthful onto my two companions, to which Braithwaight said 'mmmm' before promptly ordering one for himself.
If it had seemed like a good idea before, after two sips of Pan Universal Kumquat Juice, it became the most brilliant idea since the first crossing of the universe in a giant Easter egg with very slightly modified snowshoes and a six-pack of Grantham Planetary Beers. Without putting anymore thought into it, or in fact having any more thought left, I promptly replied to my lame ass Mom message "I would suggest refraining from drinking every night until near unconsciousness, or adoption, whichever ones easier. Signed, Phil. PS. There is no Lord—Surprise!"
[Want more? Click below to read a longer excerpt.]
Praise for the Book
"This book is full of tongue in cheek humor not laugh out loud humor. But humor the kind of sneaks up on you none the less. It sci-fi fantasy comedy with some real theories thrown in. The whole concept of the book is out there which appeals to me. The whole thing is a metaphor on the relationship between God and us and how we view God done with comedy. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I would read more books by this author." ~ Pappa Place
"Very fun story in a ironic way - brings to mind the Hitchhikers Guide in style and sense of humor." ~ Donaldweissgerber
"The author, R. P. Momsen, wrote a lighthearted and fun book which is reminiscent of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy but its own take and plot. It was fun to read and I even laughed several times." ~ L. Gentry
"... the series of Phil! books is likely to bring more than an occasional chuckle to ensure you don't take life, the universe, and everything too seriously." ~ Squeaky
"I really enjoyed the humour and his idea of life. I found myself laughing out loud lots of times. BRILLIANT." ~ Knott
About the Author
R. P . Momsen was lucky enough to meet Phil in a very lovely but rather smelly pub a few years ago. After listening to the most amazing story of his life, and a half dozen pints, Rick agreed to bring Phil's story to the world and finally get Phil a vacation. Through an arduous process over the next couple years of intense notes, grand philosophical debates, lengthy trips through multiple universes and numerous beers this masterpiece of answers was named Phil! and finally released. A great friendship has been created and Rick has agreed to continue to write the real truth about everything, why it's kind of a good thing to know and what humankind could do to be invited to the really cool parties.
Posted: 20 Nov 2016 01:00 AM PST
REVIEW and EXCERPT
Cries in the Wind
(Wind Series Book 3)
by Judy Bruce
This is the fourth in our special series on author Judy Bruce. Today we feature Cries in the Wind, the third book in the Wind Series. You can read an excerpt from the book, as well as my review. Also available: Voices in the Wind (read my blog post) and Alone in the Wind (read my blog post).
For another book by this author, please check out my blog post on Death Steppe: A World War II Novel.
The third story in the Wind Series finds Megan stirred by the mystery of two strangers and the unsolved murders of two local women from decades past. Pregnant yet haunted, Megan summons the help of close family and friends then plunges into an investigation which uncovers deceit, revenge, and betrayal. As Megan nears the truth, she and her crew become endangered by the killer. When Megan persists, she faces disastrous consequences.
I killed the chief of police, but I didn't plan to tell anyone. I also shot that scumbag DEA agent. They committed crimes that rocked our small, rural community—they even killed a young autistic man. No, I didn't see it all happen, I just knew. I'm strange in some ways—I feel, I hear, I know things. And going to prison for killing two murderers wasn't going to help anybody, especially me.
Five months later, I was still trying to put it behind me. I humbly believed God gave me permission to move on with life, so that's what I tried to do. Nightmares, both bizarre and realistic, still shook me, but now only once or twice a month. I'd stopped trying to ease the horror with bourbon; after all, I was four months pregnant.
Scanning the rugged terrain to the west of the highway, I drove southward to my law office on an early summer day. This was the harsh, semi-arid high plains with scraggily buffalo grass, crusty ridges, massive bluffs, rocky buttes, and dry gullies interspersed amid the fertile pastures of the cattle ranches. Despite the brutal winters and the devastating droughts, I belonged here. I considered my land beautiful, yet haunting—the furious wind howled, taunting me with mysteries I was forced to solve.
Today, I was simply going in to my office for an unusually early appointment. People didn't usually want to meet this early, but I didn't mind. If it wasn't for the strange uneasiness that nagged at me, I would have thought this would be a Tuesday like any other. After I parked in the lot behind my law firm on Benson Street, I called my husband Brian, urging him to come as soon as he could.
My client, Frank Morgan, arrived promptly at seven. I knew nothing about him, for he booked the appointment with Glenda, my receptionist and former second grade teacher. I unlocked the front door to a stocky man of sixty or so with a gray-brown mix of thinning, curly hair. I pegged him as an office worker, for he lacked the robust, weather-hardened look of the ranchers in the area; also, he wore a fine-quality suit most men in the area either couldn't afford or didn't bother owning. As I led him across the lobby to my office, my brain told me this was merely a businessman from the suburbs, but my guts roiled, arguing to the contrary. I left the office door open during an appointment, a rarity.
After some small talk, he came to the point. His request stunned me.
"Why would anyone want to buy the old Hexam wasteland?" I asked.
"I think it can be improved," he said as he folded his arms across his chest, revealing thick wrist hair and a slim, black-faced silver watch.
"Excuse me, but I don't understand your interest. You just told me you're an insurance executive in Kansas City."
It was ridiculous—that was obvious—I didn't need my rising blood pressure to tell me what my mind understood. The back door opened and closed. As I studied the man's face, Brian walked into the lobby and looked into the office. I waved at him. He nodded and left to go to his office across the lobby. He was an accountant and taxation specialist who had intended to go to his Sidney office this morning—but he knew me well enough to heed my sense of alarm. I would feel foolish when I told him it simply pertained to an absurd request by a stranger.
"I have no intention of selling a single square foot of my family's land," I said.
"I'm just looking for a place to retire in a few years," he said.
He lied, said my bones.
"I think our conversation is at an end," I said, rising from my chair.
Something I couldn't identify flashed across his face.
"Yes, that's it, Mr. Morgan. I wish you a safe trip home."
Dejection, that's what his face revealed, and it was probably the only bit of truth he divulged. He slowly rose. I walked around my desk and held out my hand to shake his. Yet he just turned and slowly walked toward the door. I followed him to the lobby and watched him go through the front door to his car, a black Chrysler 300. Bear Lake Beulah, my elderly friend, backed her maroon Chrysler out of her driveway across the street, paused in the road, stared at the man for a few moments, looked at me in the doorway, and then drove away.
"What was that about?" Brian asked.
"Damned if I know," I said. "But I don't think I've heard the last of it."
Halfway through our lunch at Custer's, Beulah shuffled toward our table. She was trying to shove a clump of coarse gray hair back into her holder, but failed. She stared intently at me as she stopped next to the booth in which I sat.
"Scooch over, hon," she said.
I'd known Beulah since I was a toddler; yet, this was a request I'd never heard. After I moved, she yanked that ornery tuft of hair over her ear then slid in next to me. Brian and I stopped eating and leaned toward her.
"I forgot my pills this mornin'…that's why I was home. That's why I saw him. Been years, but he still looks like his dad and younger brother."
"You saw my appointment…Frank Morgan?"
"That's the name he gave? Heh. Gettin' tricky like a wizard. Gettin' fishy."
Brian broke in. "Beulah, please explain what you're getting at."
"That was Clay Bolger…though it coulda been Andy. They always looked alike."
"As in the Bolger family west of here?" I asked.
"Yep, the same. So I called Ellie Bolger and said how nice it was that her son was visitin'. She huffed and said I was seeing things. But then we chatted for a bit about nothin'. Heh…fishy…like I said."
"How bizarre," I said. "Why would he lie to me?"
"Depends on what he wanted, I 'spect."
Just above a whisper, I said, "It was strange. He wanted to buy the old Hexam land."
Her face slackened for a moment then tightened. "Don't say no more and to nobody. Read about the van. I'll see you at James' party."
With that, she slid out of the booth and hastened back to the kitchen. Brian and I sat in silence, struck by the odd conversation and the rare glimpse of Beulah hurrying to do anything or to go anywhere. We finished our meal without exchanging another word. Brian bought a copy of the Omaha World-Herald from Carol as we paid for our meal. However, we didn't have a chance to discuss the matter again, as I was tangled in a messy child custody case for most of the afternoon. I didn't even have a chance to tell him another stranger from Kansas City named Jack Haley had booked an appointment for six o'clock in the evening the next day.
That evening, I discussed the strange events of the day with Patty White Horse, our Lakota Sioux housekeeper, and my mom, Beth, who was temporarily living with us. Brian dug through our recycling bin for old newspapers. Together, we tried to make some connection between the discovery of a van in Lake McConaughy near Ogallala last Friday and my deceitful morning visitor.
My mom abruptly laughed. I didn't see the humor in any of it until she explained.
"Don't you get it—Frank Morgan and Jack Haley? And this isn't even Kansas."
"No," Patty said, "But it's lookin' more like Oz."
Brian and I grinned at each other as we finally caught on.
"On Thursday, you'll get a visit from a lady on a broom with green skin," added Brian.
"Wait…was it the Tin Man or the Lion who was played by someone named Bolger?" I wondered.
"Ray Bolger was the Scarecrow," said my mom, Beth.
"Geez, this is getting' weirder by the minute," Patty said. "And we're not going to figure this out on our own. Too bad Beulah didn't say more."
We definitely needed outside help, so for supper, we invited James Wilson, our next door neighbor, and Uncle Bill, who lived down the block.
When the two men arrived, we questioned them about the van and old Hexam land. Likewise baffled, James shrugged. Yet, it was as if a dark shadow fell upon Uncle Bill. He said he needed to eat before discussing the matter. In a flash, the mystery changed from bizarre to ominous. So the story waited for Uncle Bill to finish eating and for me to return from some hormonal nausea.
Once we had all gathered in the family room, Bill cleared his throat then said, "Been lots of buzz around town since Friday when they pulled that van out of Big Mac." He dropped his chin into his chest. The mantel clock ticked on and on till I wondered if he'd continue.
"But the newspapers don't mention the significance of it," I ventured.
"No, they wouldn't…not till they've run all the tests on it."
"Dammit, Uncle!" I said. "Spit it out or I won't tell you who shot at me this morning."
"Nobody shot at me, but you better get on with it or I won't tell you what did happen."
"Don't you be scaring me like—"
I hit him square in the shoulder with a sofa pillow.
"All right." He reached down from the recliner and picked up the pillow and held it against his chest.
"It's the van that went missing on the day of the Quinn murders. Mary, the mother, and her daughter, Julie, were killed in their house...then it was set on fire." His face reddened. "I was young, just twelve, but I knew them both."
"I remember hearing stories about those murders as a kid," I said.
"I heard about it when I was living in Denver," James said. "Nobody could believe something like that could happen in western Nebraska. Just a shocker. Walt Bolger is sitting in prison for doing it. Let's see, nearly forty-five years it'd be."
I'm sure I wasn't the only one who thought of Charles Starkweather and his murdering rampage through Nebraska in 1958. It gave me the creeps thinking about it.
"Yep…July of 1968," said Uncle Bill. "The van was found because the lake dropped so low from the drought. I wish I didn't recall it all so well. Like to forget it…but I never can."
"Wait…Bolger you said?" Brian asked. He looked at me.
My uncle nodded. "They caught Walt Bolger fleeing from the scene with kerosene and blood on his clothes. He'd burned down the house."
"I heard about it when I first moved out here. It was still a hot topic in the nineties. What's the big mystery about it?" Patty asked.
"They never found any bodies, just blood on one of the un-burnt walls," Bill said. "Oh, and the charred shoes…saw those myself."
"Well, if they didn't find the bodies, how do they know they're dead?"
"The disappearance of Mary and Julie Quinn and the blood on Walt's pants turned out to be enough to convince the jury of second degree murder and arson."
"But the sons think he's innocent," I said.
"How do you know that?" Bill inquired.
"Because one of the sons booked an appointment with me for this morning. The other son has an appointment tomorrow. They're using aliases, but Beulah spotted one son this morning."
"What'd they want with you?"
"Us. He wanted to buy the old Hexam land. I suppose the younger brother will ask the same thing."
"That was Quinn land first. In fact, that's where the house was."
That sent a shiver up my spine and made my head buzz with alarm.
"Was there a father?" Brian asked.
"Sean. But he wasn't home. Had an alibi, though I don't recall what it was."
Bill dropped his head back into his chest. I had a string of questions to ask, but I sensed he was done talking about it. I could do my own investigation now that I knew the connection to the murders. Bill roused himself from his thoughts, said goodnight to us, and then lumbered out the back door. James shuffled out the door behind him, both men in a haze of sadness.
"I think a can of worms has been opened," Patty remarked.
"Sounds more like Pandora's box," said my mom, who like Patty and Brian, sat upright and alert.
"Sounds like we need a plan," I said. "Mom, you've been antsy…so tell me, how are your research skills?"
"I'm on it, Sherlock," she said.
"If you'll focus on the murders and arson, maybe Brian could play Sam Spade and find out about that van."
"And me?" Patty asked.
"It's amazing what you can find out in a bit of small talk. Bill said the town was buzzing with the news. See what you can find out about the people involved, Miss Marple."
"And what about you?" Brian asked.
"I plan to do nothing—nothing obvious, that is—till after I meet with Jack Haley."
In fact, my mind was galloping with ideas. Getting spies on the move was a necessary tactic. By noon the next day, I received a call from my first spy, Bud, one of Bill's cowhands. Not only was a black Chrysler 300 sitting in the gravel in front of the Bolger house, a silver version was parked next to it. Also, an old white Buick was parked under the carport next to the house, which I assumed was Mrs. Bolger's car. I thanked him for the information then emailed Joy, my assistant, to send fifty bucks to him for his services. She would comply without questioning. Everybody in the office knew the golden rule—privacy was next to sacred in the law firm. Nothing seen, heard, or read was ever to be repeated or questioned.
Similar cars, similar plan—perhaps this was a brother who frequently followed his older brother's lead. My second spy, Beulah, peeked her bright-eyed, aged face into my street side office window ten minutes after Jack Haley arrived. Within a couple minutes, Brian's text message confirmed my Tin Man was actually Andy Bolger.
"Mr. Haley," I said, after some chitchat, "what can I do for you?"
"I would like to buy some land from you…a section just south of the interstate."
"Strange, but another man wanted to buy that land, the old Hexam acres. That's just wasteland. What could you possibly want with it?"
"That's my business."
"I disagree. It's acres of ugly, scraggily wild grass, dirt clods, and bluffs. It's also my backyard. I care very much about what happens to the land bordering my childhood. You see, I'm wondering if you're a front for somebody who wants to build a warehouse or a superstore in that area."
"It would be a prime spot for a mail-order warehouse with both the railroad and the interstate so close. No, I'm not interested in selling."
"But you haven't even heard my offer."
"I don't need to. I may lease that land to a company that operates wind turbines."
"Wait, no, you can't put those monster windmills on the land…it's too unsteady, there's lots—"
He stopped, fully aware that he had divulged more than he meant to. I waited, hoping he'd feel awkward in the silence and say more. He cleared his throat and shifted in his chair. His resemblance to Clay was distinct—both stood about five feet eight inches tall with a stocky build, and possessed office-worker skin and gray-brown hair in the same balding pattern. The younger man wore a fine, gray suit and his wrists revealed the Bolger hairy arms. The brothers were up to something, though I refused to show my hand. He cleared his throat again, abruptly rose, thanked me for my time, and then hastened out the door. With him went the uneasiness I'd also sensed with Clay. This man didn't seem dangerous; if he was a threat, he was less so than Clay. And what was it about that land that made it "unsteady"?
Why did I feel alarmed by it? I just wanted to be peacefully pregnant. Now this.
[Want more? Click below to read a longer excerpt.]
Praise for the Book
"Book Three in the Wind Series, Cries in the Wind by Judy Bruce, is a story that is really difficult to put down, even for a moment; a compelling, investigative story fraught with many surprises. [...] Judy Bruce is the kind of writer with a voice readers will adore - clear and utterly engaging. The author has the gift of the first person narrative and the reader feels irresistibly drawn into the story. The POV comes across well, and there is a rare clarity in the story that is uncommon with many writers using a similar style of narrative. The prose is simple yet strong, flowing with potent images that will stay with readers for a long, long time." ~ Divine Zape for Readers' Favorite
"Judy Bruce's Cries in the Wind is a well-written and fast moving story with many characters. Back stories and past events are explained so we see how each impacts the plot and how all the different threads of the story weave together. Megan is a likable, brave and gutsy character and I felt drawn into her situation from the start. Danger, mystery and red herrings abound as some alarming and tragic events unfold. I liked the way Megan gradually and unwittingly closes in on the truth and the way the author builds the tension to a most intense and unexpected point. Judy Bruce uses the plot well to convey the motivations behind actions, and we see how, despite some desperate and atrocious covering up tactics, truth has a way of outing in the end. An insightful story about the consequences of secrets and betrayal, and the impact tragedy can have on individuals." ~ Hilary Hawkes for Readers' Favorite
"While this is the third book in Bruce's Wind Series, the author includes enough background information to allow this book to be enjoyed on its own. I soon found myself involved in the story and feeling right at home with the cast of characters and the locale. [...] I was very impressed by Cries in the Wind and am looking forward to reading more of Judy Bruce's Wind Series. This mystery with elements of a legal thriller and a police procedural all rolled up into one neat plot is most highly recommended." ~ Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite
By Lynda Dickson
Five months after the incidents of the previous book, Megan is now four months pregnant. When two strangers stop by her office and offer to buy some of her land, Megan gets a bad feeling. Sure enough, this is the first in a series of events that leads Megan and her friends to investigate a forty-five-year-old double homicide - with disastrous consequences. As is true with a lot of small communities, it seems like everyone is keeping a secret. As Megan says, "Secrets - they make such a mess out of life."
Even though this is the third book in the series, it can be read as a standalone. The author provides enough information from the previous books to fill in any holes. We see the return of plenty of familiar faces, as well as a few new ones. We also get to see a bit more of Megan's softer side this time around. The mystery in this book is more complex than those in the previous books, and you'll have to pay attention to keep up.
I can't wait to see what Megan gets up to next.
Warnings: violence, alcohol abuse, domestic violence.
About the Author
Judy Bruce is a novelist and screenwriter. In addition to her acclaimed novel, Death Steppe: A World War II Novel, three stories have been published from her Wind Series: Voices in the Wind, Alone in the Wind, and Cries in the Wind. Her novel, Fire in the Wind, will be published in the early 2017 by Merriam Press. Judy maintains a website and a blog. She is a wife, mother, and sister residing in Omaha, Nebraska, and a Creighton University law school graduate. Her autistic son keeps her in touch with her quirky side.
Posted: 20 Nov 2016 12:00 AM PST
Posted: 19 Nov 2016 12:00 AM PST
REVIEW and EXCERPT
by Ed Duncan
Pigeon-Blood Red is a fast-paced and suspenseful crime thriller by Ed Duncan. Duncan says, "It's always been said that you should write what you know. I am a lawyer - as is a pivotal character in the novel who is being pursued by a hit man - and I'm excited to be able to use my legal training creatively as well as professionally."
The author stops by today to share an excerpt from the book. You can also read my review. This blog post is brought to you by Book Publicity Services.
For underworld enforcer Richard "Rico" Sanders, it seemed like an ordinary job. Retrieve his gangster boss's priceless pigeon-blood red ruby necklace and teach the double-dealing cheat who stole it a lesson. A job like a hundred before it. But the chase quickly goes sideways and takes Rico from the mean streets of Chicago to sunny Honolulu, where the hardened hit man finds himself in uncharted territory when a couple of innocent bystanders are accidentally embroiled in the crime.
As Rico pursues his new targets, the hunter and his prey develop an unlikely respect for one another and Rico is faced with a momentous decision: follow his orders to kill the couple whose courage and character have won his admiration, or refuse and endanger the life of the woman he loves?
When Rico knocked on Jean's door he was happy to hear the sound of footsteps. At least she was there. Maybe it was a good omen. Jean, a stunning redhead with a figure that made the heart leap, looked through the peephole, opened the door, and greeted him wrapped in a towel. She was even more tantalizing than she'd been in the car earlier that day. She wasn't completely dry, and here and there tiny droplets of water glistened on her arms and shoulders. Rico inhaled the subtle fragrance of her shower gel, but before it could distract him, a voice in his head reminded him, "Point one percent."
"I wasn't expecting you back so soon," she began, a playful, sultry smile on her face.
From the doorway Rico scanned the living room and saw nothing amiss. He walked in and closed the door behind him. Too bad. He only knew how to do this one way. "Jean, how long have you known me?" he asked stoically.
She was baffled. "You know as well as I do. What kind of a question is that?"
"I never tried to hide from you how I make my living, true?" They stood face to face, inches apart, before she took a few halting steps backward. "So you know what happens to people who don't tell me what I want to know, don't you?"
"Rico," she stammered, her voice trembling, "you aren't making any sense. What's this all about? I don't know what you're accusing me of, but I haven't done anything, I swear."
He took a straight razor from his coat pocket and opened it. As he walked toward her, she covered her face with her hands. He stepped behind her, thrust his left arm through the triangle formed by her hands pressing against her face, and grabbed her right shoulder. With his right hand he held the blunt side of the open razor against her right cheek.
"Where is it?"
"Please, Rico," she sobbed. "I don't know what you're talking about." He pressed harder and tightened his grip on her shoulder. "Please, please!"
"I don't believe you." He turned the sharp side to her cheek.
"Rico, not my face, please! I swear I don't know what you're talking about." Her tears puddled where the razor met her skin.
As Jean cried out he let the razor fall from his hand and, in one uninterrupted motion, expertly muzzled her scream with the same hand before the razor hit the floor. She fainted.
When she came to, she was lying on the couch where Rico had carried her. He stood with his back to her, talking to Jerry on the phone. Jerry hadn't been able to get past lobby security in Robert's building.
"He palmed it, right?" Jerry asked.
Rico glanced over his shoulder at Jean. "I'll be there in a few minutes." He hung up. "I had to be sure," he said unapologetically.
She shivered in her towel and glared at him, anger roiling in her eyes. He went to the bedroom and returned with a blanket, which she allowed him to drape around her shoulders.
"Sorry, baby. It was just business."
Still too furious to speak, she defiantly turned her back to him and silently dared him to say anything about it. A small victory but it was something. Ignoring the gesture, Rico walked out and closed the door softly behind him.
She was enraged, as much at herself as at him, because she knew that the next time he called she would answer. She tried to justify her emotions by telling herself that he'd stopped short of actually harming her and that he never would have. But who was she kidding? She could hope but she could never know for sure.
When the cab pulled up in front of Robert's building, Jerry was standing outside smoking a cigarette. It was an expensive high rise on the city's Gold Coast along Lake Michigan's north shore, with a security guard on duty twenty- four hours a day. There was no way around it; if they wanted to get into Robert's apartment, one way or another they'd have to deal with him. This was admittedly a minor detail, more of an annoyance than anything else.
Jerry knew Rico hated cigarette smoke. An icy stare from him whenever Jerry lit up was as effective a deterrent as a punch in the gut, so he put the fag out as Rico left the cab. Rico kept his body rock solid by lifting weights at a neighborhood gym, jogging regularly, and minimizing his intake of junk food. He didn't like the idea of second-hand smoke undoing any of his hard work.
"So what happened?" Jerry asked.
"She didn't have it."
"I could've told you that. She's good people."
"Don't start with me."
"But nothing. Anybody can cross the line."
"Including me?" Jerry hoped Rico might exempt him
but didn't expect it.
"Yeah, including you." The two men stared at each
other for a long moment before Rico smiled. "No, not including you." The smile vanished as quickly as it had appeared and his eyes narrowed. "You know better."
The comment stung and Jerry hung his head a little, but it was true and he knew it. It wasn't easy to get close to Rico and not many people did. He was loyal to a fault, yet distant and brooding. Deadly as a cobra but with a dry, sometimes biting sense of humor. Brutally honest, he lacked guile. Hated hypocrisy. Loathed arrogance. If you were in a fight for your life against hopeless odds and could pick just one person to help even them out, he would be your choice every time. But if you needed a shoulder to cry on or even a pat on the back, you'd have to think long and hard before you settled on Rico.
"Now, about this guy..." Rico said, ignoring Jerry's reaction.
Jerry snapped out of it. "You have to tell the security guard who you want to see. He rings the apartment. If the person answers, the guard buzzes you in."
"No wonder he's always out of money."
"How much traffic in and out?"
"Not too bad so far."
Taking in as many details as his eyes could process in one sweep of the area, Rico slowly turned in a circle, looking for anything out of the ordinary, anything that counseled against getting on with the business at hand. Outside, there were pedestrians and cars passing everywhere, but it was a busy street, so there was nothing unusual about that. Inside, the foyer was empty except for the security guard. Nothing looked menacing. Nothing looked out of place. He nodded. "Okay?" Jerry nodded back. "Let's go and talk to the man."
They walked briskly to the entrance, donning sunglasses almost in unison, then glanced behind them one last time before opening the door. Rico nodded to a spot inside. Jerry planted himself there. Without slowing, Rico continued toward an oak-paneled counter facing the door, behind which sat an unarmed security guard casually reading a newspaper. He was about forty, with a gaunt face and stringy hair reaching below his collar. He was the kind of guy who went through life trying to keep from stepping on anyone's toes and hoping everyone would try to avoid stepping on his. He looked up in time to see Rico, advancing quickly in his direction, throw open his coat and jerk a .45 out of a powder-blue shoulder holster. He leaped to his feet and raised his hands above his head. Rico slammed the gun on the counter.
"Put 'em down," Rico said. Eyes bulging and hands shaking, the guard complied and his face took on the look of a condemned man who had just received word of a reprieve. "That's right. Relax," Rico said. "Now buzz Robert McDuffie's apartment." There was no answer. "Try again." Still no answer. "Get the key and take me up there," he ordered, then nodded in the direction of the .45 resting on the counter under his hand. "This'll be pointed at the back of your head on the way. Any questions?" The guard shook his head. "Then let's go."
[Want more? Click below to read a longer excerpt.]
Praise for the Book
"Pigeon Blood Red has a dramatic and satisfying conclusion, leaving the reader nodding his head with approval." ~ Readers' Favorite
"In a novel with as much action as love, it is sure to be a story that will fulfill the desires of readers of all ages, genders, and areas of interest." ~ Red City Review
"Fast-paced and full of surprises. Will keep you on the edge of your seat!" ~ Amazon Customer
By Lynda Dickson
Robert McDuffie is a chronic gambler who, on a whim, steals a priceless necklace of pigeon-blood red rubies from loan shark Frank Litvak. Frank sends his goon Rico after Robert in an attempt to recover it. The action moves from Chicago to Hawaii, where Robert follows his estranged wife Evelyn who is on holiday with her friend Rachel. Also in Hawaii is Paul Elliott, who bumps into Evelyn, his old college girlfriend. A game of cat and mouse ensues as Rico chases them around Hawaii and then back to Chicago.
It's a pleasure to read a book with such excellent sentence structure, fine vocabulary, and near-flawless editing. Even though it is written in the third person, we can see inside everyone's head at one point or another. This is a bit disconcerting at first, but the author uses the technique very effectively. He has a great storytelling ability, creating not only an interesting plot, but providing us with extensive back stories for each character. While not all of it is relevant to the story, the characters are given so much depth that they feel like real people. The author keeps us guessing as to how all the disparate characters and events relate to each other, but it all comes together neatly in the end.
I would love to see this book made into a movie.
About the Author
Ed Duncan is a graduate of Oberlin College and Northwestern University Law School. He was a partner at a national law firm in Cleveland, Ohio for many years. He currently lives outside of Cleveland, Ohio, and is at work on the second installment in the Pigeon-Blood Red trilogy.
Posted: 18 Nov 2016 12:00 AM PST
EXCERPT and GIVEAWAY
The Crush Saga Box Set
by Chrissy Peebles
The Crush Saga Box Set by Chrissy Peebles is ON SALE for only $0.99 to 19 November.
I was born to die… But to defy fate is to control your own destiny.
Moving to Big Bear Lake was supposed to be a fresh start, but when Taylor Sparks is thrown into a supernatural world, her reality comes crashing down around her when she finds out she's a KEY player in a dangerous game created 1,000 years ago that will give the witches and werewolves the upper hand against the vampires. Blood will be spilled and secrets will be revealed in this action-packed thrill ride and paranormal romance.
Will Taylor dive into a paranormal world she knows nothing about to be with the one her heart can't live without?
Or will her life spiral out of control when she learns her blood is needed, just the serum necessary to lift an ancient curse from a group of supernatural beings and give the witches back their magic?
Werewolves will serve as her guardians and protect her until the first full moon of the new year, the night of her sacrifice…
Will she accept her destiny?
Or will she refuse to let evil swallow her up?
Grabbing my purse, I hurried out of the car and locked the doors. Just as I started to walk up the driveway, I felt the cold steel of a muzzle against my neck. My heart hammered against my ribs.
"One sound, and you're dead," a harsh, male voice said.
I froze in panic as somebody slipped a black blindfold over my eyes, then gagged me. A man duct-taped my mouth, while another tied my ankles, legs, and wrists with rope. He hoisted me over his shoulder in a fireman's carry, and horror ripped through me. Help! I'm being kidnapped! my brain yelled, but I dare not cry out for fear of what they would do to me. I did try to fight back, at least to some degree, but I was tied and gagged and could do little about being manhandled.
"Put her in the trunk!" a man yelled.
As I fought, I was thrown, neck-first, into the trunk of a car, and my mind began to race.
This can't be happening! I tried to call out for my parents. If only they could hear me. If only I could scream, maybe Max would bark, and Mom or Dad would come to the door. If only…
Tires screeched, and the vehicle took off down the street. The smell of gasoline made me gag. I tried to kick and scream, but it was tight quarters, and I was still all tied up. I cringed at their muffled voices, wondering what they wanted from me.
"I'm tellin' ya," one of the guys said, "we oughtta just kill her now."
My skin crawled at his nonchalance.
"He's right," the other said. "Just do it, right here, right now. We've outsmarted her protectors, but for how long? We need to do it swiftly and quickly, before they return."
"You know the rules," a low voice hissed. "If we just kill her, they'll have the legal right to choose another, and we'll be right back at square one again. We've gotta do this by the book."
"I agree," a woman said. "We need to stop the Millennium ceremony from happening."
"I don't want to kill her," another woman said. "She's just…an innocent victim in all this. It isn't right."
"If we don't kill her, they'll win," another said. "They'll gain the upper hand when she gives them what they need."
"Our enemy will stop at nothing to destroy us," another said tensely. "Killing her will keep them from becoming more powerful than they already are."
"It will bring them to their knees!" another shouted.
Great, I thought. A case of mistaken identity is the last thing I need. By their talk, I assumed that killing me was some way to get back at their rivals, though I had no idea who those rivals were. The mafia? Some kind of…street gang? I had absolutely no idea, but I desperately wanted to tell them who I really was, to let them know they obviously had me confused me with somebody else. Maybe if I explain that, they'll let me go. After all, I hadn't seen their faces, so I wasn't a threat. Then it dawned on me: Jesse had just revealed his identity to me. Maybe his clan wants to kill me because I know too much. I wanted to scream at them and tell them, to assure them that I'd never reveal Jesse's identity, that I'd take his deep, dark secret to the grave with me. Jesse meant everything to me, and I would never betray his trust like that; unfortunately, my captors didn't give me a chance to explain that to them. I wasn't completely sure if it was vampires that had me. But they had heard me messing with my ropes and that took Immortal hearing. No human could hear that over the sound of the engine, the radio, and voices talking.
We drove down the lonely stretch of road, and I didn't hear one car pass by. I considered trying to pop the trunk open so I could jump for freedom. I figured the car was going about eighty, but I figured it'd be easier to heal from a broken neck than a bullet to the head. The rope bindings cut into my skin and began to sting and burn. I wiggled my numbing hands, trying to find some relief, when a man yelled back at me.
"Stop it!" he said. "Or else I'll kill you right here."
I shivered at his voice, then obeyed his commands. There was no way he could have seen me no way he could have heard me picking at the ropes. I contemplated how they were going to kill me. It had to be a contract hit, but I wondered why there were so many of them there just to take out a defenseless woman. I also wondered how they could be so heartless.
The vehicle stopped, and my stomach dropped when I heard the doors swing open. This is it, I thought. My time has come. When footsteps approached, I held my breath. The trunk popped open, and strong arms lifted me out and set me down on a hard surface, maybe concrete or asphalt. My legs were wobbly, but one of the men steadied me and untied my ankles. Jerk, I sarcastically seethed. The cold night air hit and my hair blew around. I tried to see through the blindfold, but all I could see was darkness.
A man shoved me forward. "Walk!"
I let out a trembling breath and stumbled to the edge of the hard surface, then felt my shoes sink in grass and damp earth. As I carefully walked forward, a towering fern brushed softly across my face. I took tiny steps because my imagination was in overdrive; I couldn't help picturing all those pirate films I'd seen of people walking off the plank, and I knew there were a lot of cliffs around. The man behind me kept pushing and shoving, making me go faster than my hesitant feet wanted to carry me, forcing me to trip over what I assumed to be a very long log. Twigs snapped and crunched underfoot. An owl hooted, and crickets chirped. The smell of wet moss, damp dirt, and decaying leaves mingled with the scent of pines, wafting up my nostrils; any other time, the aroma would have been beautiful. My heart lurched. I was sure they were leading me to some isolated location for my execution, a place where no one would ever find me, and that thought sent droplets of nervous perspiration rolling down my face, perhaps mingled with tears.
I refused, however, to go quietly. I couldn't do much to fight them off, but I wanted to make it harder on them. They'll have to carry my corpse, because I'm not gonna walk out to the middle of nowhere and shovel my own grave. I'm not doing their dirty work for them! I took a huge step to the left, and then bolted.
Strong arms caught me within seconds, and I flailed and thrashed like a gazelle in a lion's grasp.
"If we don't keep movin', we're not gonna make it to the designated spot on time," a man said.
"Maybe I oughtta just snap her like a twig, right here, right now," said a deep-voiced man.
I screamed through my gag at the thought that the guy wanted to rush my demise.
"No!" another said. "She must be sacrificed at midnight."
Trembling with fear, I thrashed even harder in the guy's grasp. I suddenly realized that my abduction had nothing to do with a mafia hit, vampires, or a street gang initiation; rather, I was in the hands of some strange cult. I could barely breath, terrorized by fear.
"How much farther?" a man asked.
"We're here," another answered.
At that point, I was gasping for breath at the thought of being sacrificed in some weird ritual. I recalled what Fred had said about witches and realized it wasn't so farfetched of a theory. My heart had never raced so hard. The man held me tight in his grasp, and I tried to fight, but he was so strong, and I was no match for him. My feet suddenly left the ground as he picked me up and carried me. I turned and twisted in his grasp, to no avail.
He gently set me down on a cold slab of concrete and forced me to lie down, and I'd never been so terrified in my entire life.
Fingers gripped my ankles and wrists as the rope was tightened around me, securing me to a cold slab. It didn't make sense to me that they left my blindfold on and my gag in, since they were clearly going to kill me anyway. For all I knew, maybe they thought it was more humane to kill me that way. Perhaps they want to spare me the misery of watching the dagger pierce my heart. I listened intently as they shuffled around, and then I struggled in my bindings.
[Want more? Click below to read a longer excerpt.]
Praise for the Series
"This is an awesome saga that takes Taylor Sparks from being the new girl at Big Bear Lake, to finding love, discovering her blood could bring back power to witches and werewolves, and battling against evil, supernatural forces. Can she survive and be with the one she loves? I enjoyed this YA paranormal saga. Highly recommended!" ~ Lilly
"Amazing box set!!" ~ Big Apple
"I love everything Chrissy Peebles writes and this box set is not only a great deal, but will keep you interested til the very end! Loved all the stories in this one!" ~ I-heart-books
"I'm quite a fan of author Chrissy Peebles and was happy to have found this wonderful set. I enjoyed the well written paranormal plots and awesome characters - full of action and romance. No spoilers here!! This 5 book set would also make a great gift!" ~ LoveToRead
"This was a fantastic box set with magic, action, mystery, twists and turns, vampires, werewolves, witches, and gargoyles. Each book gets better and better and takes you deeper into the mystery! Book 1 is about Taylor moving to Big Bear Lake and learning it's a supernatural place and that her crush is something more. Book 2 gets deep! And this is when all hell breaks loose! Taylor is tossed into the supernatural world. She thought she was observing it from the outside, but little does she know that she's a major player! And she didn't even know it! She comes from an ancient line of witches and is supposed to be sacrificed in The Millennium Ceremony. She's stubborn and fights her supernatural enemy with everything she has. I loved how tough she becomes. There's a paranormal battle raging and I loved every page. This is one of my favorite paranormal romances ever!" ~ wanitajump
About the Author
Chrissy Peebles has always loved reading and writing fantasy from the earliest age she can remember. She lives in a busy city with her husband, two children, and one cat (Shadow) and three dogs. (Sparkles, Rosie, and Jack) Chrissy also loves to snap photos as her favorite hobby.
Enter the blast-wide giveaway for a chance to win a $100 Amazon gift card or PayPal cash.
Posted: 17 Nov 2016 12:00 AM PST
GUEST POST and GIVEAWAY
Angles: Part 1
by Erin Lockwood
Angles: Part 1 by Erin Lockwood is currently on tour with Bewitching Book Tours. The tour stops here today for a guest post by the author, an excerpt, and a giveaway. Please be sure to visit the other tour stops as well.
Cara and Sam are destined for each other, we know it the first time we meet them, and everyone else seems to know it as well. But life constantly interrupts and prevents them from taking the next step.
It doesn't help at all that Cara is in a codependent platonic relationship with Theo. Cara is forever the damsel in distress and Theo is the enabler who thrives on being needed all the time. When Sam enters the scene, it disrupts the equation between the two. Theo and Sam have a chequered history behind them and share a love-hate relationship; hate being the dormant emotion.
But destiny is a funny thing, and by the time fate is done with these characters their lives will never be the same again.
By the time I get back to dancing with Dean, I feel something, someone, watching me. The feeling I felt before my speech is stronger now. There's something consuming my surroundings—an invisible, sweltering blanket over me. As soon as I have the chance, I look around and try to find the source of this feeling—the burning eyes I can't see, yet, but I sense are focused on me.
I casually scan the room between dips and twirls.
My breath catches. There they are—the eyes I've been searching for. A man, a gorgeous man, in a perfectly tailored suit is staring at me. It's no mistake. Now that I see him, I know his eyes are the source of this feeling I've been having.
There are worse people to have stare at you. He might be a little older, but he's very attractive. He wears his dark brown hair slicked and styled up and back. It looks soft enough to run my fingers through and short enough to create a little edge to it. His blackish gray suit blends in with his olive, tan skin. Every part of him is dark and smoky, except his eyes. His turquoise-blue eyes are so bright; they're like headlights shining at me. A lighthouse warning me not to come too close or my boat will crash.
[Want more? Click below to read a longer excerpt.]
Praise for the Book
"The first in a series, Angles is a fun romance, full of chemistry. It is an enticing read leaving the reader with a yearn for more." ~ IndieReader
"... This novel was incredible and I could not put it down. You have a great, emotional, and wonderful novel here. Great writing, great story, and great characters!" ~ Wil Scot, beta reader
Guest Post by the Author
Dyslexia: Discovering, overcoming, accomplishing
I grew up a very busy kid. My alarm went off at 4 AM. I was at the ice rink practicing with my pair partner hours before most kids even woke up for school. After four hours of practice, my mom would drive the forty five minute commute it took to get me to school. My academic day began at 10 AM.
Every other month, and sometimes every month, I was taken out of school for a week to compete around the country (and sometimes two weeks when we competed internationally). My hard work paid off for many years when my partner and I placed at national competitions and competed against the best in the world. I didn't have much of a social life outside of ice skating but I had a really big support system.
One time in middle school, my homeroom teacher had the class make a banner welcoming me home after a successful competition. Sometimes my teachers would get more worked up and excited about my accomplishments than I did. You see, I never really dreamt of winning Olympic gold. That was something my mother cared a lot more about than I did. My dreams revolved more around college. I didn't know where I wanted to go. I just knew I was destined for higher education.
I didn't take P.E. like most other kids. In fact, I've never set foot in a school locker room. I never took a foreign language or an elective course in middle school or high school. All of those extra credits were made up through our local community college home courses. So, basically, my mom says "She's an ice skater - there's your P.E. Foreign language? She's traveling to Germany next month and she'll do a report." I never saw any of those courses, nor did I do any work for them. My mom felt I was doing so much as it was, she basically took care of it for me. What kid would argue with that? I didn't.
As for the few courses I took at my high school, I was behind on the material but nobody seemed to care. My parents, my teachers, they all thought I was so busy working hard with training, they didn't notice that I never read The Scarlet Letter ... or any other assigned book. And why would they notice? I was a B student.
But really, academically, I wasn't a B student. I was intuitive and manipulative. That's what earned me B average grades. I would stay an extra five minutes after class and talk to my teachers about upcoming tests. I could get a feel for the questions that might come up and what kind of answer they're expecting. I participated in class discussions even when I didn't know what I was talking about.
Don't get me wrong, I did homework. I at least attempted to read the novels assigned, but nothing seemed to absorb for me. Math was my favorite subject. It felt so much easier than all my other classes.
I finally got the courage to tell my mom and coaches I wanted to quit ice skating when I was a senior in high school. I couldn't wait to be a normal kid before going off to college. I had a rhythm with my teachers already so nothing changed for me when it came to studying and testing. It wasn't until I started my freshman year at the University of Oregon when it really hit me ... and hard.
An F! I was failing one of my courses and getting poor grades in the others. The lectures were too big for me to manipulate my way through the material. I couldn't get to know my professors well enough to gauge what kind of answers they were looking for on a test. It was a rude awakening. I stayed up hours trying to read my textbooks but I couldn't process any of the material. It was beyond frustrating.
I knew I was smarter than that. I knew I was where I was supposed to be, but something was wrong. My parents listened to my cries and they helped me get tested for learning disabilities. My result: Extreme Processing Deficit. Otherwise, known as dyslexia. Oh ya, that's what this is.
Having a learning disability awarded me some perks, or extra help. I got a note taker and extra time for tests. Honestly, I only used a note taker once. I quickly learned it was just as hard to process someone else's rushed handwriting as it was a textbook. But just knowing made a difference. I thought about what I was good at and how those skills can compensate for other areas where I wasn't as strong. I'm extremely organized, I'm very social and I'm very intuitive. I joined study groups and discussion groups and used what I learned from them and put the information on flashcards. I used highlighters and wrote side notes in my textbooks - I didn't care that I couldn't sell them for much after my course was over. I went with my gut. I learned to trust myself when taking tests. I re-read and re-read until I could process the questions but stopped over analyzing.
I ended my freshman year on the Dean's List. I didn't just make my parents proud - I made myself proud. And best of all, I learned a lot about myself. I developed skills, born from a disability. I was absorbing information in this world a different way, but just as efficiently.
I went on to graduate from the School of Journalism with many semesters of being on the Dean's List under my belt. I was a legitimate A/B student.
It took me several years to find my passion. I spent many years being a housewife and stay-at-home mom, but eventually my passion found me. My tireless mind needed to put pen to paper, or nowadays, fingers to keyboard. I wrote Angles: Part 1 of the trilogy, and I plan to write in three different perspectives (9 books total). It has been an incredible journey to get to where I am today. I wouldn't change a single thing about my personal story.
Here is a video about my ice skating.
About the Author
Erin Lockwood grew up in Castro Valley, California and attended the University of Oregon, where she graduated in 2003 with a degree in journalism. From there she moved to Denver and spent the next seven years searching for the love of her life and building the family of her dreams.
It wasn't long until, with children starting preschool and more time on her hands, Erin refocused on her career, beginning with a successful entry into the world of residential real estate as a Realtor. Free time was spent reading book after book (and binge-watching the subsequent films) in the New Adult genre. Feeling hopelessly in love with her husband, she wrote him a short story leading up to their fifth wedding anniversary. That's when she discovered her tireless passion to share her experience of falling in love through fictional characters. That story evolved into the first novel in the Angles trilogy.
Erin still lives in Denver, Colorado with her husband, Phil, and their three children.
Enter the tour-wide giveaway for a chance to win one of five ebook copies of Angles: Part 1 by Erin Lockwood.
Posted: 16 Nov 2016 12:00 AM PST
GUEST POST and GIVEAWAY
(Converters Book 2)
by Tenille Berezay
The Keep is the second book in the Converters series by Tenille Berezay. Also available: The Convergence (currently ON SALE; read my blog post).
The Keep is currently on tour with YA Bound Book Tours. The tour stops here today for a guest post by the author, an excerpt, and a giveaway. Please be sure to visit the other tour stops as well.
After a pardon from the convergence, Desiree returns to the protection of home. But safety is an illusion and her family is shattered by the violent retribution of a desperate enemy. On the run again, Desiree struggles to keep those she loves from a host of gathering threats - debilitating doubts, manipulative converters, dark technology, and a murdering madman. To save them all, Desiree will need more than her ability to convert, she'll need to redefine her strength.
"What you need is combat training." She points at the screens as they and the floor light up. The scene wavers then clears, leaving an image looking remarkably like the island outside. From the desk, Jade hands me a pair of goggles.
Since she's being difficult, I slide them on without question. The sudden realism causes me to stumble backward. With the lenses on, the trees and vegetation of the island are suddenly alive. Their appearance is so authentic, I slide the glasses on and off a couple of times.
Jade's sigh draws my attention to her rolling eyes. "Can you take this seriously?"
Tipping the goggles up, I glare at her. "Just enjoying the life I have left."
Her frown deepens. "You'll enjoy it more by learning to stay alive." She points to the scene and I slide the glasses back on. "You can interact with anything you see on screen. Use whatever you find for weapons. There are no friendlies."
Nodding as if everything she said was totally expected and commonplace, I step to the center of the lit floor. I clap my hands together. "I'm ready."
"I doubt it." I hear her say before the fight draws me in.
First, a man jumps from the tree to my right. I kick out knocking him back. He disappears. A shuffling in the trees draws my attention to another charging enemy. This one holds a knife in his hands. With a grab and a flick, I have the weapon. I slash at him and he vanishes. From above, a man drops. I roll away, throwing the knife simultaneously. It hits his chest and both he and the weapon disappear.
Two men rush me from opposite sides. Using a large nearby branch, I club one across the skull and fling one overhead with a well-placed hit between the legs. I knock the next attacker from a nearby tree by pelting him with the branch.
Then—from straight ahead—I'm threatened with a gun. I kick out, knocking it from his hands. The metal glints as it flies through the air. Sprinting, I catch it and spin to train it on the disarmed man. Seeing his hands thrown in the air, my finger eases off the trigger.
Instantly, everything disappears. Ripping the glasses away, I spin to Jade. She's sitting at the desk, her chin resting on clasped hands, her beautiful features twisted in disappointment.
I pull in a restless breath. "What?"
She gestures to the now empty space. "I'll admit you can fight."
I toss the goggles on the desk. "But?"
Her gaze is level with unflinching honesty. "But you're not going to survive." I bite back my defense—the truth is I'm not even going to fight. Jade mistakes my silence for acceptance. "I said there were no friendlies. You should have pulled that trigger without hesitation, instead you didn't pull it at all. What you lack is a killer instinct. That's something I can't train into you. You have to find it."… She spins on a precarious heel and clicks to the door.
I stop her retreat. "So I'm supposed to suddenly become a blood thirsty murderer?"
"No, Desiree Morgan. You stay on offense. Always on offense. The minute you drop to defense is the minute you die."
[Want more? Click below to read a longer excerpt.]
Praise for the Book
"Takes us right back into the crazy, fast paced world of converting, with Desiree on the run after the shocking events of the first book. I was sucked into this captivating read from page one. Berezay creates a world of supernatural and does so with a huge dose of humor, action, romance and enough inner dialogue to leave you thinking about this book long after you finish the last page. This series is one of the best in its kind and I can't wait for book three." ~ Mylissa's Reviews and Book Thoughts
Guest Post by the Author
Levels of Inspiration
I'm always asked how I came up with the idea for the Converters series. Usually, I don't walk around with a lot of fantastic ideas in my head (though there are plenty of mediocre ones), but the idea of converting started with a sudden burst of brilliant inspiration, followed by lots of tiny inspirational bits.
The initial burst hit me one day as I was driving home from a day spent working on the ranch. Some near-death experience must have happened, but for the life of me (no pun intended) I can't remember what it was ... those near-death things are pretty frequent occurrences in ranching. So, safe in my car, I start thinking about adrenaline and how cool it would be if you could get that kind of burst of energy anytime you wanted. How it would be if you could control that energy.
Next, I started studying real-life "superhumans" and the science behind our untapped mental potential. As I did, the process of converting developed in my mind. If a person could convert their emotions into energy and direct that energy into a physical or mental boost, it would create a world of realistic, believable superheroes.
Desiree came next - a kick-butt girl who has an ability she can't begin to understand. Then I needed a guy who knew what she was and trains her. Originally, I wanted this to be an older-grandfather type because the new-guy with secrets and girl hiding powers is so very, very cliché. In the end, I caved into the cliché because I think the insta-love cliché is the devil and if my hero wasn't the one with Desiree from the beginning their relationship would lack depth. It seemed a choice between an overdone cliché and an evil cliché. I chose overdone. I guess this probably qualifies as more desperation and less inspiration.
Once I started the story, inspiration came from conversations, personal relationships, and other great reads. The characters started taking on a life of their own and the story started flowing, driven by their reactions and motivations. The biggest surprise to me was the ending of The Convergence. I had something very cheesy and corny planned, but once I got there it all seemed wrong and not true to the characters. Once again, I caved in order to keep the character's more realistic and true to themselves.
Inspiration for The Keep came mostly from the characters themselves and my beta readers. I asked them what they wanted to see from Desiree and Blake and shaped all of those answers into a book. I also took my reviews into consideration, increasing the pacing and intensity. So, in a nutshell, The Keep was inspired by my readers and their love of the original characters.
Overall, I feel like inspiration is the easy part. Time is the challenge. I have lots of inspired books ideas bouncing around in my head, just waiting for all of other tiny bits of brilliance to shape them into a book worth reading. But first, I'm focusing on the third and final book in the Converters series. Hopefully, there's enough inspiration left to give Desiree and Blake the ending they deserve. And I hope you'll enjoy the first two books in their story!
About the Author
After living throughout the western US, Tenille now claims rural Northern Nevada as her home. If she's not being consumed by a book - whether her own or another author's - she'd like to be found horseback riding, backpacking with her high-school sweetheart/husband, or photographing their three beautiful children.
Tenille loves to read any genre (as long as there's great dialogue with a touch of snark). She believes in authentic characters, romantic sub-plots, and realistic, happy endings.
Enter the tour-wide giveaway for a chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card.
Posted: 15 Nov 2016 01:39 PM PST
REVIEW and GIVEAWAY
Alycat and the Thursday Dessert Day!
(Alycat Book 1)
by Alysson Foti Bourque
Alycat and the Thursday Dessert Day! by Alysson Foti Bourque has just been released and is available in hardcover or Kindle format. This release blitz is brought to you by Worldwind Virtual Book Tours. The tour stops here today for my review, an excerpt, and a giveaway. Please be sure to visit the other participating blogs as well.
When Alycat's daydreaming causes her to miss out on Dessert Day at school, she will need to rely on her imagination to satisfy her sweet tooth! With the help of her best friend Spotty, she discovers trying new things can lead to fun adventures and tasty inventions!
By Lynda Dickson
Alycat has been looking forward to Thursday all week because it's the only day the kittens get dessert at school. But, too busy daydreaming, she misses out on her special popsicle. What will it take to cheer her up?
This cute book has more text than a simple picture book, making it suitable for children ages 3 to 8. It may be a useful tool to help some children overcome minor disappointments. They'll find that, with the support of family and friends, a positive attitude, and a willingness to try something new, things may turn out even better in the end. There are even instructions on how to make Alycat's Popcorn Popsicles. And who doesn't love kittens?
About the Author
Alysson Foti Bourque is the award-winning author of the Rhyme or Reason Travels series, and the Alycat series. Alysson received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Elementary Education from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, and a law degree from Southern University Law Center in Baton Rouge.
Enter the tour-wide giveaway for a chance to win a hardcover copy of Alycat and the Thursday Dessert Day! by Alysson Foti Bourque.
Visit the website for FREE printable coloring pages and reader's guide.
Posted: 14 Nov 2016 12:00 AM PST
GUEST POST and GIVEAWAY
by Susan Wolfe
Escape Velocity is currently on tour with Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours. The tour stops here today for a guest post by the author, an excerpt, and a giveaway. Please be sure to visit the other tour stops as well.
When does the Con become the Artist?
Georgia Griffin has just arrived in Silicon Valley from Piney, Arkansas on very bald tires, having firmly rejected her beloved father's life as a con artist. Her father is in jail and a certain minister is hugging her mother for Jesus while eyeing Georgia's little sister, Katie-Ann. Georgia desperately needs to keep her new job as paralegal for Lumina Software so she can provide a California haven for her sister before it's too late.
While she's still living in her car, Georgia realizes that incompetence and self-dealing have a death grip on her new company. She decides to adapt her extensive con artist training - just once - to clean up the company. But success is seductive. Soon Georgia is an avid paralegal by day and a masterful con artist by night, using increasingly bold gambits designed to salvage Lumina Software. Then she steps into the shadow of a real crime and must decide: Will she risk her job, the roof over her sister's head, and perhaps her very soul?
Georgia followed the bouncing ponytail into a silent conference room with an immense black table. She perched on the edge of a fancy leather chair, quietly sniffed the air, and followed the scent to a tray of food on a side table: rows of colorful ripe fruit, cheerful little pots of yogurt, a tray of meat and cheese alongside glistening rolls. They hadn't mentioned it would be a lunch interview. She'd have to pace herself and not look greedy. Her empty stomach contracted in anticipation as she politely declined the offer of coffee.
"He'll be with you in a moment," the woman said. "Oh, sorry, let me get this out of here."
She scooped up the food and carried it from the room, leaving only a scent of pineapple hovering in the air.
Well. Good riddance. The last thing Georgia needed was to get all gorged and sleepy right before an interview.
And this could be the interview. This could be the interview that landed the job that allowed her to bring Katie-Ann to California until her father got out of prison. Too bad her resume was sort of bare, but the economy was finally picking up and she only needed one solid foothold. It didn't matter how many jobs she hadn't gotten. What mattered was the one she did get, and this could be that one. So what if it had been more than three weeks since her last interview? That just meant she should make this one count.
As she moved her forearm slowly across the mahogany, she could see her pale skin reflected off the glistening finish. Sure was quiet in here. You couldn't hear anything of the big company that was supposedly operating at breakneck speed just outside the walls. Fast-paced was what they called themselves. Self-starter is what she was supposed to be. Well, she was a self-starter. How else had she gotten here? All the way from Piney, Arkansas, to Silicon Valley on bald tires, a million miles from the sound of Mama's sniffling, the acrid smell of her bright pink nail polish.
Georgia wasn't wearing any makeup at all. The woman with the bobbing ponytail had on perfect makeup that made her skin look like a baby's butt. Which was great if you also knew how to avoid making yourself a magnet for perverts, but Georgia hoped she could hold her own around here without makeup. Tall and lanky and fast-moving, like a colt, her father said. (He should know, he'd boarded enough of them.) She wasn't an athlete, exactly, but definitely a runner. Dark pinstripe pantsuit from the Now and Again shop up in Palo Alto, scratchy at the back of her neck. Blueberry-colored eyes against pale, freckled skin, shiny black hair in a blunt bob as even as her dull scissors could chew through it. A smile so wide it sometimes startled people, seemed to give the fleeting impression she was unhinged. Careful with the smile. Enthusiastic, but not alarming.
The guy coming to interview her was late. She could have peed after all. This big San Jose industrial park was confusing, with boxy cement buildings that all looked exactly alike. Set back from the street behind gigantic parking lots full of glinting cars so it was impossible to see any street numbers, making it clear they couldn't care less whether a newcomer found her way. She'd ended up having to run in her heels just to get to the lobby on time.
Could she get to the john now? She squeezed her shoulder blades tightly and stretched the back of her neck away from the scratchy suit coat. The silence was making her jumpy. She left her resume on the polished table and opened the door just enough to look out.
The woman with the ponytail was nowhere to be seen. In fact, Georgia couldn't see a living soul. She took a couple of tentative steps into the hall. What if the interviewer showed up before she got back? Screw it. With a last look around the vacant executive area, she darted down the hallway.
The hall opened abruptly into an area crammed with battle-gray, fabric cubicles that created a maze the size of a football field. Had she wandered into a different company? The only thing the two areas had in common was that here, too, it was quiet. People must really be concentrating. Either that, or they'd had a bomb scare and nobody had bothered to tell her.
She was relieved to see a bald head appear above the fabric wall a few cubes down like a Jurassic Park dinosaur. (Now, that was quite an image. Did she feel that out of place around here?) She heard a printer spitting out copies somewhere in the distance as she headed toward the dinosaur, rounded a corner and stopped cold.
An unattended donut was resting on the work surface just inside one of the cubes. Barely even inside the cube, less than a foot away, almost as if it had been set down and forgotten by some passerby.
The plate slapped down in a hurry, its edge sticking out precariously beyond the edge of the work surface. Yesterday's donut, perhaps, abandoned, stale.
But no, the donut was still puffy and golden, with minuscule cracks in that shiny sugar glaze. A donut still wafting the faintest scent of the fat it had been fried in. She could almost feel her lips touching the tender surface as her teeth . . .
Had she whimpered out loud? She glanced both ways along the still-deserted hall and then returned her gaze to the donut resting on its lightly grease-stained white paper plate. Pretending to wonder if the cube was occupied, she leaned her head in and called a faint "hello?" resting her hand lightly on the work surface, a finger touching the paper plate. Staring straight ahead, she floated her fingers across the surface and up, until her palm was hovering just above the donut's sticky surface. One quick grab . . .
"May I help you?" intoned a male voice.
Georgia snatched her hand back like the donut was a rattlesnake.
She turned and found herself face to face with the Jurassic Park dinosaur, who was looking distinctly human and downright suspicious. He looked past her and surveyed the vacant cube before resting his skeptical gaze on her most winsome smile.
"Oh, hi!" she said brightly. "I'm here for an interview, and I was hoping you could point me toward the restroom?"
"And you thought it might be in here?"
"Well no, but I thought a person . . ."
"Follow me, please."
She heard her Arkansas twang vibrating the air between them as he led her down the hall a few yards, pointed a stern finger and said, "In there." He crossed his arms, and she felt the heat of his disapproving gaze on her back as she pushed through the heavy door into the privacy on the other side.
Now, that was just downright mortifying. Caught in the act of stealing a donut? A donut?? If he told somebody . . . She cupped her palm over her closed eyes and dragged it slowly down until it covered her mouth.
Of course, she hadn't actually taken the donut, so what precisely had the guy seen? A woman standing at the edge of an empty cube, leaning her head in politely to look for someone. He probably hadn't noticed the donut, and even if he had he'd never imagine how desperately she wanted it. He'd probably had steak and gravy for breakfast, and thought a hungry person in Silicon Valley was as rare as a Jurassic Park dinosaur. If anything, he probably thought she was casing the empty cube for something valuable. Which was ridiculous, because what could a cube contain that was as valuable as a job?
But if he thought it was true, he might be waiting for her just outside the door with a security guard, planning to march her out of the building and away from this rare and essential person who could actually give her a job. Busted because of a donut.
The face that looked back from the mirror above the sink was staring at a firing squad as Georgia held her icy hands under the hot water.
But then the stare turned defiant.
She hadn't driven all the way from Arkansas to live in her car and get this job interview just to become distracted at the critical moment by some prissy, no-account donut police. Who did he think he was? It wasn't even his donut, and anyway, he wasn't doing the hiring. Her only task at this moment was to deliver the interview of a lifetime and get this job.
She squared her shoulders, practiced her smile in the mirror two or three times and strode with her head erect back along the deserted corridor to the interview room.
The man who entered the conference room five minutes later had the stiff-backed posture and shorn hair of a military man. He was well over six feet tall, lean, in his late forties, wearing neatly rolled blue chambray shirtsleeves and a bright yellow bow tie. As he shook her hand and sat opposite her, she saw that his stubble of hair was red and his eyes were a muted green. Fellow Irishman, maybe. Could she forge some connection from that?
"I'm Ken Madigan, the General Counsel here. Are you Georgia Griffin?"
"Yes, sir, I am." She offered her carefully calibrated, not-alarming smile.
"Appreciate you coming in today. Sorry to keep you waiting." He tapped a green folder with her name on the tab. "I've read your resume, so I won't ask you to repeat it. As you know, we have a key job to fill after quite a hiring freeze. Let's start with what's important to you in your next job."
"Well, sir, I just got my paralegal certificate, and I'm looking for the opportunity to put my learning and judgment to use. I intend to prove that I can make a real difference to my company, and then I'd like to advance."
His smile was encouraging. "Advance to what?"
This was a variant of the 'five years' question, and she answered confidently. "In five years I'd still like to be in the legal department, but I want to have learned everything there is to know about the other parts of the company, too. My goal is to become, well, indispensable."
"Is anything else important?" Those gray-green eyes were watching her with mild interest. She decided to take a chance and expose a tiny bit of her peculiar background to personalize this interview.
"Well, sir, I'm eager to get started, because I need to make enough money to get my baby sister here just as soon as I can make a place for her."
His raised his eyebrows slightly. "And how old is she?"
"Fifteen, sir, and needing a better future than the one she's got. I need to move pretty fast on that one."
"I see. Now tell me about your work experience." Which was where these interviews generally died. She shoved her cold hands between her thighs and the chair.
"I don't have a lot of glamorous experience, sir. I cleaned houses and worked as a waitress at the WhistleStop to get myself through school. And the whole time I was growing up I helped my father look after the horses he was boarding. In fact, he got so busy with his second job for a while that I just took over the horses myself. Horses are expensive, delicate animals, and things can go wrong in a heartbeat. With me in charge, our horses did fine."
"Okay, great." He ran his palm over his stubble of hair, considering. "Now tell me what kind of people you like to work with." Not one follow-up question about her experience. Did he think there was nothing worth talking about? Just focus on the question.
"The main thing is I want to work with smart people who like to do things right the first time. And people who just, you know, have common sense."
"I see. And what kind of people bug you?" This interviewer wasn't talking much, which made it hard to tell what impression she was making. A bead of sweat trickled between her shoulder blades.
"Well, I don't much like hypocrites." Which unfortunately eliminated about half the human race, but she wouldn't mention that. He waited. "And I don't like people who can't or won't do their jobs." She stopped there, in spite of his continued silence. No need to mention pedophiles, or that nasty prison guard who'd backed her against the wall on the catwalk. That probably wasn't what Ken Madigan had in mind.
"Thank you." He tapped his pen on her resume. "Now I'd like you to describe yourself with three adjectives."
Was this guy jerking her chain? He didn't much look like he'd jerk anybody's chain, but what did adjectives have to do with job qualifications? Maybe he was politely passing the time because he'd already decided not to hire her.
"Well," she said, glancing into the corner, "I guess I would say I'm effective. Quick at sizing up a situation." She paused. "And then I'm trying to decide between 'inventive' and 'tough.'"
"Okay, I'll give you both. Inventive and tough. Tell me about a time you were quick at sizing up a situation." This didn't feel like the other interviews she'd done. Not only were the questions weird, but he seemed to be listening to her so closely. She couldn't recall ever being listened to quite like this.
To her astonishment she said exactly what came into her head. "Well, like this one. I can already tell that you're a kind person who cares about the people who work for you. I think you're pretty smart, and you listen with a capital L. You might have a problem standing up to people who aren't as smart or above board as you are, though. That could be holding you back some."
Ken Madigan's eyebrows were suddenly up near his hairline. Why on earth was she spilling her insights about him to him? Too many weeks of isolation? Was it hunger? She should have taken that coffee after all, if only to dump plenty of sugar in it. Or was it something about him, that earnest-looking bow tie maybe, that made her idiotically want to be understood? Whatever it was, she'd blown the interview. Good thing she wasn't the sort of weakling who cried.
So move it along and get out of there. She dropped her forehead into her hand. "God, I can't believe I just said all that. You probably don't have any flaws at all, sir, and if you do it isn't my place to notice them. I guess I need another adjective."
"Which would be . . . ?"
He lowered one eyebrow slightly. "Let's say 'forthright.' And I won't need an example."
"You know what, though?" There was nothing left to lose, really, and she was curious. "I'm not this 'forthright' with everybody. A lot of people must just talk to you."
"They do," he acknowledged with a single nod, his eyebrows resuming their natural location. "It's an accident of birth. But they usually don't say anything this interesting." He sounded amused. Could she salvage this?
"Well, I'm completely embarrassed I got so personal."
"You shouldn't be. I'm impressed with your insight."
"Really? Then maybe you see what I mean about being quick."
He laughed. "I believe I do."
"I mean, I can be quick about other things, too. Quick to see a problem starting up. Sometimes quick to see what'll solve it. Like when my father had to go away and I saw we'd have to sell the stable to pay the taxes . . ." Blah blah blah, there she went again. She resisted clapping her hand over her mouth. Was she trying to lose this job?
The woman with the bouncy ponytail stuck her head in. "I'm so sorry, but Roy would like to see you in his office right away. And your next appointment is already downstairs." She handed him another green folder. The tab said 'Sarah Millchamp.' "I'm going to lunch, but I'll have Maggie go down for her in ten minutes. She'll be in here whenever you're ready."
"Thanks, Nikki," he said, turning back to Georgia. "Unfortunately, it looks like our time's about up. Do you have a question for me before we stop?"
Sixty seconds left to make an impression. "I saw your stock's been going up. Do you think it's going up for the right reasons?"
There went his eyebrows again, and this time his mouth seemed to be restraining a smile. "Not entirely, no, as a matter of fact."
"I'm sorry to hear that. Do you have an opinion about improvements that would make your growth more sustainable?"
He allowed his smile to expand. "I have many opinions, and a small amount of real insight. Might be difficult to discuss right now . . ."
She held a hand up. "Oh, I understand. But do you think a paralegal could help make a difference?"
"A solid paralegal could make a big difference."
"I'd like to know more about the issues, sir, but they're probably confidential, and anyway, I know you have to leave." She leaned forward, preparing to stand up.
"You're a surprising person, Ms. Griffin, and an interesting one. I've enjoyed our conversation."
Like he enjoyed a circus freak, probably. She made her smile humble. "Thank you."
"If it's all right with you, I'd like to have somebody from Human Resources give you a call in the next day or two."
Was he serious? "That would be fine."
"If we decide to work together, could you start pretty quickly?"
The goal now was to leave without saying anything else stupid. "I'm sure I can meet your requirements."
As he walked her out to the elevator he lowered his voice. "You know, Ms. Griffin, you're an intuitive person, and you might have some insights about the Human Resources people you're about to meet . . ."
She held up her palm. "Don't worry, sir. If I do, I'll keep my mouth shut."
"Excellent. Great talking to you. Drive safely, now," he called as the elevator door closed between them.
Thank God that interview was finished. In another five minutes she'd have told him anything, she'd have told him about Robbie. Drive safely? What a cornball. But she must have said something right. He gave her that tip about getting past the Human Resources people, which meant he must like her. Landing a first job with her resume was like trying to freeze fire, but this time at least she had a chance.
Her stomach cramped with hunger as she emerged into the lobby and saw a woman in her mid-thirties glancing through a magazine. Tailored suit, precision-cut blond hair, leather case laid neatly across her lap. Completely professional, and she had ten years' experience on Georgia at least. No. No way. Georgia walked briskly over to the woman and stood between her and the receptionist.
"Ms. Millchamp?" she said quietly, extending her hand.
The woman stood up and smiled. "Sarah Millchamp. Nice to meet you. I know I'm early."
"I'm Misty. So sorry to tell you this, but Mr. Madigan's been called out of town unexpectedly. He's headed for the airport now."
"Oh!" The poised Ms. Millchamp quickly regained her composure. "That's too bad. But of course I understand."
"Thank you for being so understanding. This literally happened ten minutes ago, and I'm completely flustered. I know he wants to meet you. Are you parked out here? At least let me walk you to your car."
She put a sisterly hand against Ms. Millchamp's elbow and began steering her toward the exit. "Tell you what, can I call you to reschedule as soon as Mr. Madigan gets back? Maybe you two can have lunch. Just don't take that job at Google in the meantime."
"Now, don't pretend you haven't heard about the job at Google. In Brad Dormond's department? They're our worst nightmare when it comes to competing for good people." The air in the parking lot mingled the spicy scent of eucalyptus with the smell of rancid engine grease, and her stomach lurched. "So, see over there? That's the entrance to the freeway. Bye now. I'll call you soon."
Georgia waved as Sarah Millchamp backed her car out. Then she hurried back inside to the receptionist.
"Hi," she said. "That lady, Ms. Millchamp? She just let me know she has a migraine and will call to reschedule. Will you let Maggie know?"
The receptionist nodded and picked up her phone. "That's too bad."
"Isn't it, though?"
Done and dusted, as Gramma Griffin would say.
She still might not get the job, of course, she reminded herself as she pulled onto the freeway, nibbling a half-eaten dinner roll she'd squirreled away in the crack between her passenger seat cushions the night before. She'd gotten this far once before. And she didn't have to get it. She had another dozen resumes out, and one of those might still lead to something. Her cousin at Apple had turned out to be more useless than a well dug in a river, but that didn't mean she was desperate. If she continued sleeping in her car most nights her money could last for another five weeks. And Lumina Software might not be a great job, anyway. Ken Madigan probably just interviewed well. That's probably all it was.
[Want more? Click below to read a longer excerpt.]
Praise for the Book
"Wow. Edgar winner Susan Wolfe is back big time - with a cleverly written, wickedly hilarious, and surprisingly touching financial thriller. Or is it? The marvelous Georgia Griffin will win you over, continually surprise you - and then sell you the Brooklyn Bridge. Loved it." ~ Hank Phillippi Ryan, award-winning author of Say No More
"A financial and legal thriller with rich character development that creates an absolutely compelling stay-up-all-night read." ~ Alice La Plante, award-winning author of Turn of Mind
"Wolfe's legal expertise, good sense of humor and writing chops make Escape Velocity a real winner." ~ Deadly Pleasures
"Continuous action, sharp intrigue and memorable characters captivate in this coiling plot of a thriller. This one is definitely ahead of the pack." ~ Steve Berry, New York Times and #1 Best-sellingauthor of The 14th Colony
"Susan Wolfe's new book is wryly funny, suspenseful, and clever, and gives us an eye-opening look inside the high tech industry." ~ Dan Chaon, author of Await Your Reply and Ill Will
"Readers craving full-on immersion in the ethos of Silicon Valley will love every page of Escape Velocity. Susan Wolfe's cast of colorful villains, con-artists, and just plain folks caught up in high-stakes industry games is painstakingly drawn and always unpredictable. Good, clever fun with a thriller of an ending." ~ Laura Benedict, author of The Abandoned Heart
Guest Post by the Author
My Inspiration for Escape Velocity
My inspiration for Escape Velocity comes from my own work as a lawyer. I graduated from Stanford law school and have spent most of my adult life practicing law here in Silicon Valley. I started out at a high-tech law firm, then did criminal defense at another law firm, and then was an in-house lawyer at several Silicon Valley high-tech companies. All of my jobs were good, and some of my friends were surprised when I left this work I liked and got a fair amount of recognition for, to confront the prospect of failure and obscurity by writing my second novel. (My first novel, The Last Billable Hour, is a murder mystery set in a Silicon Valley law firm. It won the Edgar Award for best first novel, but that was a few years ago.) So why take such a big career gamble in order to write this particular novel?
Well, I liked working in-house a lot, but I sometimes got frustrated that a few people who worked for the company - from accounts payable clerks to highly paid executives - seemed unable or uninterested in doing their jobs. Due to incompetence or egotism or out-and-out self-dealing, some people just seem to burrow into a company like ticks on a tormented dog, and no amount of damage they cause ever seems to dislodge them. When you get several thousand people in a company it's like a little city: You've pretty much got one of everything. As the head in-house lawyer I was sort of the town constable, so I saw most of it. And I will tell you that after a couple of years in my job I realized it really is a miracle we put a man on the moon!
So I thought the malfeasance and nonfeasance (as we say in the law) were interesting, and even entertaining in a nice black kind of way. I thought other people might like to know about the chaos, or if they already knew about it, they might like to know that somebody else had experienced it, too. After all, as C. S. Lewis said, we read to know we are not alone.
But then I needed a main character, and along came Georgia Griffin. She is young, inexperienced and from a completely alien environment, so she experiences the wonder that is Silicon Valley high tech right along with the reader. She is also highly intuitive and a little bit tougher than people around her might expect. She is blessed with a job that makes people underestimate her. She badly needs the company to succeed in order to realize her personal goal of achieving escape velocity from the life she was born to, and she reluctantly decides to use her con artist training - sparingly - to help the company succeed.
The surprise to me was that Georgia's moral and psychological complexities gradually became central to my story. Georgia wants to be a good person, but she does a few sketchy things. At one point, I wrote out the fifteen points of Georgia's moral code. She adheres strictly to her moral code, but it's a little bit different from other people's. (For example, "Point #13: Cause the least harm necessary to be effective.") So, I ended up being interested in the question of whether Georgia achieves escape velocity from the life she was born to. I don't think that's easy to do, and neither does Ken Madigan, Lumina Software's General Counsel and Georgia's mentor whom you will meet in Chapter 1. In this scene, farther along in the book, Georgia and Ken have just managed to avert terrible damage to the company brought about by misdeeds of a crooked executive. To Georgia's consternation, the executive remains with the company:
[Georgia] decided to press her point. "But if he did know about the side deals and either encouraged it or else let it go on for years, isn't he still a huge risk to the company?"
Ken brushed his palm over the top of his hair. "Yes," he admitted, "but chances are he'll lie low for a while. This was a pretty big mess."
"Lie low until we forget. But not change his ethics about it."
"Well, now that's an interesting question." He smiled slightly as he searched her eyes. "Do you believe people ever change their ethics? I personally believe they can, but it's hard, so they have to be quite motivated. I've never seen anybody care enough to change their ethics because of work. It's always been something in their personal life."
Now that the book is finished, I am very interested in what readers think Georgia has achieved by the end of the book. She ruminates about what she hopes to achieve early on:
She'd been thinking about cheating her fate quite a lot since her father got hauled off to prison for running his con artist business, exposing the rest of the family to ostracism (by a bunch of sorry rednecks, no less, like being ostracized from a chain gang) and to financial ruin. She'd had her doubts even before he got hauled off. How many times had she told him that she wasn't ready the enter the so-called family business, that she might want to do something other than what he had carefully trained her for? Of course, she could never mention her real reason for wanting out: Making your living by tricking people out of their money, even if you loved it (which her father surely did), even if you were an outright genius at it (which her father surely was), was really just sort of no-account. She wanted to use her talents for something consequential.
I am scheduled to meet with some book groups who have chosen to read and discuss Escape Velocity. I plan to listen to their thoughts and answer their questions first, of course, but then I have one question of my own: Do you think Georgia has achieved escape velocity by the end of the book? I will be so interested in their answers.
About the Author
Susan Wolfe is a lawyer with a B.A. from the University of Chicago and a law degree from Stanford University. After four years of practicing law full time, she bailed out and wrote the best-selling novel, The Last Billable Hour, which won the Edgar Award for Best First Novel. She returned to law for another sixteen years, first as a criminal defense attorney and then as an in-house lawyer for Silicon Valley high-tech companies. Born and raised in San Bernardino, California, she now lives in Palo Alto, California, with her husband, Ralph DeVoe. Her latest novel, Escape Velocity, was published in October of 2016.
Enter the tour-wide giveaway for a chance to win a $50 Amazon gift card or one of five ebook copies of Escape Velocity by Susan Wolfe.
Posted: 13 Nov 2016 12:00 AM PST
Quote of the Week
by Jean Oram
Posted: 12 Nov 2016 12:00 AM PST
REVIEW and EXCERPT
Out of the Nest
(The Italian Saga Book 2)
by Gaia B. Amman
Out of the Nest is the second book in Gaia B. Amman's Italian Saga, a series of books following the same character throughout her life. The books are humorous and irreverent, yet insightful, dealing with themes like family, sexuality, friendship, love, and self-discovery, against the gorgeous backdrop of Northern Italy. The author stops by today to share an excerpt from the book. You can also read my review.
Also available: An Italian Adventure (read my blog post), Forget Nico, and Sex-O-S (NEW RELEASE - launches today!).
Italy, 1990. At eleven, Leda is a bookworm and a tomboy who can't seem to fit anywhere as her world splits into girls and boys. Against the background of the 14th FIFA soccer world cup, Leda embarks on a new series of adventures dealing with hormones, periods, zesty boys and her own fears in what will be the best summer of her life. Set against the gorgeous backdrop of Sardinia, the Dolomites, and Tuscany, this humorous yet insightful journey through first love, friendship, and first kisses will leave you breathless, marveling at the customs of a country most people think they know.
Video for Book 1
OCTOBER 11 WAS THE INFAMOUS day of San Firmino, Saint Fermin (a feast for every freshmen). Tradition had it that, on the doomed day, older students armed themselves with permanent markers and covered freshmen or anyone who'd let them with indecent writings, insults, mustaches and worse.
No one knew when the tradition had started, but allegedly it was due to the resemblance of Fermin to firma: signature in Italian, and the custom, as brutal as it was, was largely overlooked by the teachers.
For the first few years of elementary school, I had taken refuge at Viola and Marta's side, who at the time had attended Middle School. When my sister had moved on to her private high school in Milan, I was older and stuck with my buddies, avoiding the worst.
This year I didn't stand a chance; I was on my own and I was a freshman.
Reluctantly, I wore my oldest clothes and went to school ready to face battle. To my surprise, I made my way to our class unscathed, wading among herds of markers, choirs of derision, and cries of defeat. I almost felt sad as if, truly, I had become invisible.
A couple of strangers approached me, marker drawn and the classic grin of the wrongdoer, but my famous glare that I thought had lost much of its power was enough to send them veering toward easier prey.
I dropped my book bag by my desk, when a familiar voice chanted, almost whispered in my ear, "Baaalniii! You know what's cooomiiing!"
"Nico, one move and I'll bite your face off."
I turned around, my icy gaze melting in his amusement. I freaking blushed and pretended to get something out of my bag. In spite of the historical precedent during which, in fifth grade, I had indeed bit off Nico's arm, the kid seemed fearless. I loved that.
His skit at the gym had almost cost him suspension, but he had gotten away with a warning. Likely the teachers dreaded the idea of keeping him around an extra year as much as he did.
He smiled, "Come on, pen only, you can wash it off later."
"Well, if I get signed, you do as well, Buddy."
"Deal! Give me your arm."
"No way. I know you're a cheater, Nico! At the same time."
"Me? A cheater? I wasn't the one leafing through the geography book during the test, you know? I earn my Fs," Nico said, scornful.
Ouch. That hurt. Strangely, rather than getting all defensive and pissy as I normally did, I felt like I owed him an explanation. "Listen, it's not my fault if the crazy V took me and your new best bud under her wing," I explained as I signed my name on his arm.
"I know, I know," he answered, without contesting that Romeo was indeed his new best friend, which hurt a little too. "I see no one signed you yet," he noticed while writing on my arm.
"Of course not. Same for you."
The bell rang and Romeo's voice surprised both of us. "How sweet! Don't tell me you guys have something going on. Wouldn't that be perfect?"
Oh, merda. Can't I ever be happy for one minute?
[Want more? Click below to read a longer excerpt.]
Praise for the Book
"Out of the Nest is a great book that is very engaging to read. The author really transports you into the life and psyche of the main character, Leda, as she journeys through her formative years. I don't typically read this genre of books but these books always hold my attention and I cannot wait to see where the adventures of Leda lead to." ~ Dan Stripp
"The author has a very unique writing style. She transports you back in time to when you were younger. She tells things like they are and isn't afraid to talk about certain subjects. This book is great for teens as it speaks with experience about what thoughts enter their heads, but also great for adults who may have forgotten what teens have to go through. [...] This story was amazing! I couldn't put it down! I would recommend this book to people." ~ Tori Hoffert
"I think this series is a win win for parents with teens, and teens with parents! Super insightful and maybe more importantly, riddled with funny scenes you can't walk away from." ~ Amazon Customer
"I loved the first book, and the second was even better. By better, I'm talking about the writing. I expected to become interested in Leda's (Lee's) life because life brings depth to your years; however, I did not expect the writing to step up to the challenge of conveying complexities as well as it did. There's a fire here, a real commitment to not leaving hardships and joys to the imagination. You will experience them, too." ~ Rodney Garrison
"A tender and sparkling adventure of a girl as she discovers the preadolescent and complicated self. The story details an enthusiastic summer in authentic Italian style. Jokes, friendship, love and fear are just a few of the dimensions of this novel, one you read sinking on the couch, while happily and nostalgically letting your mind wander back in time. Gaia's work begins as an absorbing novel and becomes a pleasant reminiscence. It's a book for everyone, I sure loved it." ~ Paola
By Lynda Dickson
Set in the small town of Arese, in northern Italy, from 1989 to 1990, Out of the Nest continues the story of tomboy Leda, which began in An Italian Adventure. Leda is now eleven, her parents have separated, she's living with her mother, and her sister has gone off the college. Leda still has a massive crush of Nico but, as her little friendship group slowly breaks apart, she is thrust into new situations and finally makes friends with some girls. During a busy summer holiday, Leda spends time at the pool in her gated community, at summer camp in Tuscany, at the seaside with her father and his new family, and at Torreglia with her mother and her best friend. As the book's title implies, Leda is like a bird who has left the nest and has started exploring the world beyond her family. She experiences her first boyfriend, her first break-up, and her first kiss. But through it all, she never forgets Nico.
The author evokes the sights, sounds, and smells of the many places Leda visits throughout the story. There are references to the music videos, television shows, and icons of the era, as well as to the FIFA World Cup, which was held in Italy in 1990. Religion again features strongly, with Leda still praying regularly to Jesus. As hormones surge, sex is also a major topic of interest among Leda's new group of friends. Still, while television shows depict sex nightly, the children live with the incongruity of the taboo of talking about it.
Leda's story is written as a memoir, so she is wise beyond her years, with a vocabulary to match. Once again, the writing contains some editing errors (mainly in speech patterns and word choice), but these allow us to hear the author's true (Italian) voice. The book ends on a cliffhanger, and I look forward to the reading the next book and another chapter in Leda's life.
Discussion questions are included at the end of the book.
About the Author
Gaia B. Amman was born and raised in Italy. She moved to the United States in her twenties to pursue her PhD in molecular biology. She's currently a Professor of biology at D'Youville College in Buffalo, New York, where she was voted "the professor of the month" by her students. Her research and commentaries have been published in prestigious peer-reviewed international journals including Nature.
A bookworm from birth, she wrote throughout her childhood and won two short story competitions in Italy in her teens. Gaia is an avid traveler and her fiction is often inspired by her life adventures. She is mostly passionate about people and the struggles they face to embrace life. Her highest hope is to reach and help as many as she can through her writing as well as her teaching. She authored The Italian Saga, an irreverent series of humorous and insightful young adult novels taking place against the gorgeous backdrop of Northern Italy.
Among her favorite authors are J. K. Rowling, Jandy Nelson, Neil Gaiman, Chuck Palahniuk, Kurt Vonnegut, J. R. R. Tolkien, and Antoine de Saint Exupéry.
Posted: 11 Nov 2016 12:00 AM PST
EXCERPT and GIVEAWAY
Wear White to Your Funeral
by Lisa Acerbo
Wear White to Your Funeral by Lisa Acerbo is currently on tour with Xpresso Book Tours. The tour stops here today for an excerpt and a giveaway. Please be sure to visit the other tour stops as well.
Rory is your average high school senior. Or she was, until her mother banishes her to hell, also known as Trumbull, Connecticut. The small suburb with only a mall and movie theater, sure feels like the netherworld until Rory's first day at her new school. That's the day she meets Bowen, who begs her to join him on a class project. But when Bowen drags her to a graveyard after dark for research purposes, Rory wants to fly back home to Atlanta, or at least return to her aunt's house unharmed and unmolested.
"Dance with me," Rory begged.
She felt wild abandon take over any of her last reserve. She leaned in closer, pushed herself against him and kissed Bowen. He kissed her back and then pulled her up into a bear hug before leading her a few steps away from the fire, most likely worried that she would trip and end up like seared steak.
"Are you sure you're up for it?" he asked.
"Absolutely." She staggered a few more steps away. Bowen followed. Rory felt the music reverberating through her even though she had no idea where it was emanating from, most likely one of the trucks parked at the sandy edge of the dunes.
"You knew people were going to be here?" she asked him. "These are all your friends." Bowen grabbed her hand and spun her. "I thought you'd like it."
"Then trust me."
Famous last words. Rory snorted and stumbled in the sand, but he pulled her close. She snuggled in. Rory saw swaying bodies from the corner of her eye and something else. A dark figure in the shadows. She stared for a few seconds and then turned away, understanding she was somewhat buzzed from the alcohol.
The blurry figure had to be her imagination. She closed her eyes against Bowen's jacket. "Are you okay?"
"Um hum," she murmured. How much had she drank?
[Want more? Click below to read a longer excerpt.]
Praise for the Book
"This was a great read for me. Well written and interesting, I liked that it wasn't a classic ghost story. [...] The author does a great job creating the scenes playing out in the story. The characters are fleshed out well and it is fairly easy to grasp who they are and their motivations. I liked the development of the recurring characters that kept this young couple living a normal life amid the unrealistic story that unfolds around them. [...] I enjoyed this book and would gladly read more by this author." ~ Domi_Blue
"Wear White to Your Funeral is a fantastic read with a wonderfully narrated plot. The characters are distinct but still relatable. The book artfully combines mystery, folklore, adventure, and romance for a thrilling reading experience. Acerbo does a great job building suspense and drawing in readers from page 1. Although this book is geared towards young adult audiences, I think it's a great choice for any reader." ~ DM
"A good book to read at this time of the year, so I was looking for a good Ghost story, which we have to a certain degree. Then we have a murder with some romance. I enjoyed reading the book, and the angst was perfect. I have to say I was so involved in the story I was cold every time the temperature was mentioned, and ended up wearing a thick jumper all the time all the time I was reading this story. Overall I would say a good Young adult book. I would let the teens in my house read it."~ Book Addict
"This is a YA paranormal story that I absolutely loved reading from start to finish. The suspense built up well with detailed settings, the romance did come on quite quickly but wasn't predictable. I liked Bowen's intelligence and enjoyed seeing Rory on quite an adventurous journey. Couldn't fault the story at all, will be reading more books by this author." ~ Alice (marriedtobooks)
"This was a really fast read for me. And yes, the book is a ghost/murder story (and a romance!), but it was also quirky, funny and sweet at times. There was a lot of growing up thrown in along the way, with Rory deciding what kind of person she wanted to be. I flew through the pages of the story in one sitting because I liked the characters and I wanted to know what would happen next. There was an engaging plot that helped to move the story forward at a good pace, but the character development of all the characters, not just Rory (who was the narrator) was well done and helped to give a well rounded story." ~ Katherine Paschal
About the Author
Lisa Acerbo is a high school teacher and holds an EdD in Educational Leadership. She lives in Connecticut with her husband, daughters, three cats, and horse. She is the author of Apocalipstick and has contributed to local newspapers, news and travel blogs including The Patch and Hollywood Scriptwriter.
Enter the tour-wide giveaway for a chance to win one of two $10 Amazon gift vouchers.
Posted: 10 Nov 2016 04:28 AM PST
NEW RELEASE and EXCERPT
Maggie Dove's Detective Agency
(Maggie Dove Series Book 2)
by Susan Breen
Maggie Dove's Detective Agency is the second book in the Maggie Dove Series by Susan Breen. Also available: Maggie Dove (read my blog post).
Maggie Dove's Detective Agency is currently on tour with Great Escapes Book Virtual Tours. The tour stops here today for an excerpt. Please be sure to visit the other tour stops as well.
As Susan Breen's compelling cozy mystery series continues, Maggie Dove's budding detective agency has given her a new lease on life. Only one thing stands in the way of success: her clients - or lack of them.
After catching the killer who shook her small Hudson River town, former Sunday School teacher Maggie Dove stumbled onto an exciting new career and found a way to take her mind off her own tragic past. Now, despite her best efforts to promote the agency, Maggie can't seem to land any new cases - until Racine Stern, one of the village's wealthiest residents, offers her a thousand dollars to convince her "evil" sister, Domino, to stay out of town.
While Maggie's business partner thinks she's crazy for turning down a potential client, she doesn't want her agency to get a reputation for accommodating bizarre requests. However, Maggie is soon caught up in the family drama anyway. Racine may fear for her life - and her inheritance - but it's Domino who takes the fall when she plunges to her death from a tower at Stern Manor. Was it an accident or something more sinister? Maggie's investigation will test her faith - and her ability to survive.
Click below to read an excerpt.
Praise for the Book
"I really enjoyed this book. Good versus evil, witchcraft and a cast of characters I wish to read more of. The whodunit and why were well written." ~ Karen Kenyon
"Maggie is not a warm and cuddly person , but she inspires her friends to care about her, because no matter what, she cares about others. [...] The secondary characters add a great deal to the plot. Much of the story is developed from the past. As in real life, who people are is based on who they were. This is a story which moves the reader along at a good rate. I enjoyed it very much." ~ Texanne
"This is a complex and troubling story with Maggie feeling she is engaged in a battle between the forces of good and evil. There are witches, spells, psychedelic drugs, and the continued presence of Charlotte. This story tries Maggie's beliefs and trust. Ultimately, she finds her way through her dilemma to the truth." ~ Merrilee
"If you like cozy mysteries this is an interesting one with an unusual heroine." ~ Nancy Famolari
"Maggie Dove's Detective Agency is the second book in this series. Susan Breen provided great character background and I easily understood their backgrounds and relationships and didn't feel lost beginning with the second book. The storyline is well developed; there is an interesting mystery, some witchcraft, with a cast of unique and quirky characters. I was surprised when the villain was revealed." ~ ROG'ma
About the Author
Susan Breen is the author of The Fiction Class, her debut novel that won the Washington Irving Book Award. Her stories and articles have appeared in many magazines, among them The Best American Nonrequired Reading, Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, Compose, Writer's Digest, and The Writer. She teaches at Gotham Writers in Manhattan; is on the faculty of the New York Pitch Conference, South Carolina Writers Workshop, and the Women's National Book Association; and is a member of Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime. Breen lives in a small village on the Hudson River with her husband, two dogs, and one cat. Her three children are flourishing elsewhere.
Posted: 08 Nov 2016 12:00 AM PST
EXCERPT and GIVEAWAY
by Sandra C. López
Single Chicas (Volume 1) by Sandra C. López is currently on tour with Reading Addiction Book Tours. Get it for only $0.99 on Amazon and B&N or FREE on iTunes, Kobo, and Smashwords. The tour stops here today for an excerpt and a giveaway. Please be sure to visit the other tour stops as well.
"Perfection is a Barbie doll, and, unless you're looking for a guy with a fake smile, a hard head, and no genitalia, then you're better off NOT being perfect." ~ Single Chicas
Single Chicas is a collection of stories about modern Latinas being in, out, and around the zany hurdles of relationships. One woman receives strange calls from a lonely soul, another seeks advice on how to love herself, and another wakes up in a parallel universe to a man she's never met. These chicas will make painstaking effort to survive the complexities with humor and grace. Once again, López dazzles audiences with her brilliantly candid craft. Smart, witty, and funny, these stories will explore the true endurance of singlehood.
#1: My Brother's Funeral
I'll never forget the day my brother gave me a stroke. Of course, being that he was my little brother, a stroke should've been classified a recurring condition by then. Instead, the most he had ever given me was a chronic eye twitch, which, now that I think about it, may have been an indicator of an on-coming stroke. But, yes, it was definitely a stroke I had when Benito (I always called him Benny) came over that day to tell me he was getting married.
My brain blew a short and my whole body went numb. I think, at one point, the world before me was engulfed in a white flash, and then somehow I ended up on the floor. When I finally got the feeling back in my jaw, the only thing I could muster to say was: "Are you a moron?" The clear answer was "yes." He was a moron. Getting married? Was he out of his freaking mind? Oh, hell yeah! Let's put aside that he was only 19, not even old enough to drink, for god sakes; let's put aside that he'd only known the girl for 6 months, at most; let's even put aside how annoying the girl was and how I couldn't stand her. Why in the hell would he want to hang himself like that? Had he forgotten that marriage is basically a prison? Had he not paid attention to all the disaster stories I'd told him? Broken marriages from all around the table, starting with our parents and going all the way to our grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, to damn near everyone else we knew. It all ended the same: divorce, the blissful release from a life sentence.
"Why, Benny, why?"
"Oh, Bea, don't you even start," he retorted with a dismissive wave of his hand. "I don't want to hear your putdowns on marriage…again. I've heard them over and over and over."
"Well, have you heard that marriages basically suck the big weenie?"
"I believe I did hear that from you, yes."
"Well, then tell me why? Why the fuck would you do something like that!?" Oh, I could feel my poor blood pressure rising. Good grief, the boy was going to give me a heart attack. I tried taking in a few calming breaths, but the whole thing was basically useless. I was in total freak-out mode. "C'mon, Benny, tell me, please, because I'm not understanding here. What, did she pull that voodoo-hoodoo crap on you? Did you crack your head on something? Have you just completely lost your mind? C'mon, you gotta give me something here."
With an easy shrug, he said, "Oh...you know."
"No, I don't know!" Okay...one, two, three...breathe. I shot him a stern glance and asked directly, "Did you knock her up?"
He looked at me accusingly, his dark eyes narrowing. "You would think that, wouldn't you?"
"Well, I don't know what else to think."
Benny shook his head with a petulant eye roll. I know that eye roll. It's the same one he pulls whenever someone tells him to pick up his socks or wash his hands. In a huff, he simply stated, "No. I didn't knock her up."
"Because she's just..."
"What? Say something."
"You know..." At a loss for words, he paused then added, "she's just so...you know...great."
A literary master at work here. "Great? What's so great about her?"
He shrugged his shoulders.
"That's a good answer," I inserted wryly.
"Well, I can't think with all these questions," he snapped.
"I'm sorry, do you need a minute? I mean, I know I'm throwing really hard questions at you. Worse than poking your nose or scratching your balls, evidently."
"Why you gotta be like that, huh?"
"Hey, I'm not the one ruining my life here. I'm not the one going after those little titties."
Pulling his "talk to the hand" gesture, Benny turned to walk away.
"Furthermore," I continued, following on his ass, "she calls you forty times a day, she has you running to her every time she cries at all hours of the night, and she's dragging you to all these girly places you wouldn't be caught dead in, even if you were dead. Plus, she's annoying, she's rude, she's just plain crazy. Face it, she's nothing but a big, bi—"
"Okay, Bea, that's enough!" he yelled, twisting around to face me. For a long time, he stood there staring down at me, his nostrils flaring, his jaw tightening. I could tell he was getting pissed. What guy wouldn't? I was basically pointing out that his girl was wearing his huevos like a necklace.
"Look, bottom line: she treats you like a slave. She will ruin your life. She's gonna suck you dry 'til there's nothing left of the old Benny. Seriously, get out of this thing and go live your own life. C'mon, before it's too late."
He stood there in brooding silence for a moment, his gaze lingering on his sneakers. Then, looking back up at me in resignation, he said, "She really wants this."
"What do you want?"
"I want to make her happy."
"But what's gonna make you happy?"
Biting his lower lip, my brother shifted awkwardly, his head hung low. He had no words.
"She's already started planning with her mom," he shot out, tearing his eyes from the floor.
"Who cares!? Just don't do it."
"But I already told her I would."
"Oh, god!" My frustration had mounted to unbelievable heights. Oy, there go those chest pains again. The boy was definitely killing me here. But what else could I do? I swear he was as loyal as a dumb dog, and he was bound and determined to live out his days with his tail between his legs. I knew then that he wouldn't back out on her for any reason. Not even if she was kidnapped, I don't think (although that was an idea that crossed my mind.)
I stood quiet for a moment, taking long calming breaths. Then I looked up at him, disappointment drawn on my face, and said, "You're making a big mistake."
That day I told my brother not to expect me at his funeral.
[Want more, including the end of this story? Click below to read a longer excerpt.]
Praise for the Book
"... I will admit that I read this wonderful collection almost straight through. I found the writing so engaging, the characters so colorful, the stories such a good time, I couldn't put this short collection down. You'll smile. You'll laugh. You'll cry. Author Sandra Lopez has the recipe for slices of life with lots of spice. These stories will rock tu mundo!" ~ J. D. Rachel
"Lopez is young and hip and her vernacular shows it! Each short story is fun and each has a surprise ending that I likened to Rod Serling in modern times. It was such a fun read, I kept reading each short story until I finished the book." ~ JanetSimcic
"There's a brand new voice in Women's Fiction and her name is Sandra Lopez. Single Chicas brings a new perspective to the trials and tribulations of being a single woman. A Hispanic group of women dealing with everything from being hit on by men in the grocery store to a crank caller to learning to love oneself to trying to please your family. These six short stories will make you laugh, cry, nod your head in agreement and so much more." ~ N. N. Light
"Sandra Lopez's short story collection, Single Chicas, is the kind of book that will keep a reader's attention with its witty dialogue, compelling storylines, well developed characters, and relatable themes." ~ Gretchen
"Single Chicas by Sandra Lopez is an interesting and inspiring collection of stories about modern Latinas and relationships. Now I personally am not a Latina, but I still found the book to be an interesting and inspiring read. Some are more realistic and some are totally outlandish, yet still very entertaining." ~ SefinaHawke
About the Author
Sandra C. López is one of today's influential Latina authors in Young Adult literature. Her first novel, Esperanza: A LatinaStory, was published in March 2008 while she was still in college. Since then she has published several other books, including the Single Chicas series. She was named as one of "2011 Top Ten New Latino Authors to Watch" by Latino Stories, and her book, Beyond the Gardens, was a Silver Medal winner of the 2016 Global Ebook Awards in Multicultural Fiction and a finalist in the Int'l Latino Book Awards. Art, literature, and travel are her passions, and she aims to keep doing them as long as she can.
Enter the tour-wide giveaway for a chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card.
Posted: 07 Nov 2016 12:00 AM PST
EXCERPT and GIVEAWAY
(Redemption Book 2)
by Giacomo Giammatteo
Old Wounds is the second book in the Redemption series by Giacomo Giammatteo. Also available: Necessary Decisions.
Old Wounds is currently on tour with Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours. The tour stops here today for an excerpt and a giveaway. Please be sure to visit the other tour stops as well.
Gino Cataldi loved three things: his wife, his son, and his job as a cop. Cancer took his wife. Drugs have his son. And Gino is pulling desk duty, suspected of killing a drug dealer.
Every night he dreams of a chance to make things right. That chance comes when a high-society woman is brutally murdered, her body parts spread all over town. The investigation quickly hits a dead-end ... until a late-night caller with too much information contacts Gino. Between the mystery surrounding what she knows and his penchant for helping women in trouble, more than Gino's curiosity is aroused. He only hopes she's not the killer.
A Surreptitious Meeting
Barbara stared into the mirror and practiced her line. She wanted the recording to be just right—after all, it would be the last time anyone heard her, if things didn't go well.
She pursed her lips and said, "My name is Barbara Camwyck. If you're watching this video, I'm dead."
Barbara rehearsed it a few more times, then thought about how her life was about to change. All the shit she'd been through would finally pay off.
She slipped on a comfortable pair of jeans, turned sideways to admire herself in the mirror, and then stepped into the closet to select a top. Something light, as it promised to be another unusually warm day for January. She decided on a cream-colored wrap top, one of her more expensive casual blouses.
Sometimes subtlety worked best, but this top would work better today, especially with the sliver of skin peeking out at her waist.
Barbara reached up and pulled a pair of Giuseppe Zanotti Crystal-Embellished sandals from the shelf in her closet. They would be the perfect complement. She slipped them on, stepped back, and smiled.
She then went to the kitchen. As she brewed tea she thought about her life. It wasn't as if she hadn't done well for herself, but doing well and 7 million dollars was different; in fact, doing well and 7 million dollars was another stratosphere. And if her blackmail scheme went as planned 7 million was exactly what she'd have.
She poured the tea, and then made a call, careful to use the burner she had purchased for just such an occasion. It had gotten to the point where a disposable phone was almost a necessity—nothing more than another monthly expense—at least in her current line of work.
A woman with a smoky voice answered the phone. "Hello?"
Barbara kicked her open-toe sandals up on the coffee table and said, "It's Barbara. I'll be ready in a few minutes. How long will this take?"
"Stop by on your way. It won't take me more than a few minutes."
"And you're sure it will work. I can't afford to have this fucked up."
"It'll work. Don't worry."
A half hour later, Barbara exited the 610 Loop and found her way to the dingy barbecue place where she had arranged the meeting. It was not a place she would frequent, but for today it worked perfectly; neither one of them would be recognized.
She leaned forward and adjusted the rearview mirror so she could fix her hair. Afterward, she applied lipstick, looked in the mirror again, cleared her throat, and then started the video.
"My name is Barbara Camwyck," she said. "If you're watching this video, I'm dead."
Barbara finished recording, straightened her blouse, then spoke into her mic and said, "Okay, I'm going in now."
She opened the car door, got out, and walked into the restaurant, thankful it at least had air conditioning. From the looks of the outside she had wondered. Half a dozen people stood in front of her, a sign that maybe the food was good. Or maybe it's just cheap.
Camwyck craned her neck, scanning the place until she found the person she was searching for, sitting at a table near the back, in the corner. At least they followed directions. Camwyck needed that table so the mic didn't pick up unnecessary sounds.
She weaved her way through a mob of sweaty construction workers, careful not to touch them, and not daring to inhale the odors until she passed them. She pulled a chair out and set her purse in the seat next to it. "It's been a long time," Camwyck said.
"Not long enough."
Camwyck smiled. "Not interested in pleasantries? Good. Let's get right to business."
"Business? That's what you call this?"
The comment drew another smile from Camwyck. "I guess in your world they call it leverage, but I see little difference. Blackmail or leverage. It's all the same in the end."
"Let's discuss leverage then."
Camwyck pushed a thumbnail drive across the table. "You know the terms. I have all the proof I need. After you pay, you'll never hear from me again."
"Remind me of the amount."
"I'm surprised you've forgotten. It's an easy number to remember. Seven million."
Camwyck ignored the scoffing sound prior to them speaking. "Easy to remember doesn't mean easy to arrange—especially in cash."
"I'm certain you'll think of something," Camwyck said. "You've always been creative."
"It will take me a while."
"That's fine," Camwyck said, "But if we don't do this within the next month, I may have to resort to other means."
A waitress walked by and stopped at their table. "Ya'll need to place an order at the counter. Then they'll get you a number."
"Thank you," Camwyck said, and stood. She tossed two twenties on the table. "Order what you want. And you can keep the drive to inspect. I have the original."
"One more thing," the guest said, scooting the chair closer to the table. "If you try to come back on me, I'll make sure it's the last thing you do." A pause preceded a glare. "You understand that, don't you?"
"I understand," Barbara said, "but you don't have to worry. Seven million is enough for me. Once we conclude our business, you'll never hear from me again."
"If you try—"
"I won't," Barbara said, and she exited the restaurant.
As she walked across the parking lot, Barbara punched a number from the recently dialed list on her phone. She'd have to remember to delete that when she was done. "Did you get it?"
"Perfectly. Good sound and good video."
"Good. I need a copy, but I want the original hidden where it won't be found."
"Not a problem. I'll call when it's done."
"No. I can't know either. If I don't know, I can't tell anyone."
"However you want it," the man said.
"Good. I'm throwing this phone away now. In the future, if anyone calls you from this number, or from my regular number, ignore it. In fact, run! If I need you I'll make contact the same way as the first time."
"Thanks," Barbara said. "I'll need it."
[Want more? Click below to read a longer excerpt.]
Praise for the Book
"The story line is fast-paced and one of those 'hard to put down' novels. Gritty and shocking at times, I purposely read it at lunch time so I could limit myself from reading it in one day! The transition from chapter to chapter is smooth and nicely done. Characters are a colorful collection of police officers and politicians. contributing to much intrigue in the story. As the author writes series books, expect to see one or more of them in past or future novels. Even if you aren't a serious crime book reader, you will enjoy this fast-placed novel." ~ R. Douglas Powell
"I enjoyed reading Giacomo Giammatteo's latest crime thriller and anxiously await his next book." ~ Bookreader
"Old Wounds is a hard-hitting, fast-paced crime novel. A Redemption novel by Giacomo Giammatteo, featuring Gino Cataldi, it is not only hard to put down; it's a challenge to be able to turn the pages and gobble up the story fast enough. Every twist and turn throws a new angle into the mix. Lovers of hard, dark crime books won't want to miss this one." ~ Ann S.
"Like all Giacomo stories, it is a quick read, fast paced, sometimes humorous, sometimes sad, hold on white knuckle ride for everyone involved. Giacomo has a knack for telling a believable story and holding your attention on every page. My recommendation a good book, but don't stop here, check all his other books you will not be disappointed." ~ Joseph Schofield
"Yes, this is another great book by Giacomo Giammatteo!!! I was so glad to find out that Giacomo Giammatteo wrote another book as all are awesome! This was fast paced, well developed and very interesting. If you haven't read this fine author, try this one and then read them all!!" ~ Vincent
About the Author
Giacomo Giammatteo is the author of gritty crime dramas about murder, mystery, and family. He also writes non-fiction books including the No Mistakes Careers series.
When Giacomo isn't writing, he's helping his wife take care of the animals on their sanctuary. At last count they had 45 animals - 11 dogs, a horse, 6 cats, and 26 pigs.
Oh, and one crazy - and very large - wild boar, who takes walks with Giacomo every day and happens to also be his best buddy.
Enter the tour-wide giveaway for a chance to win a $50 Amazon gift card or one of five ebook copies of Old Wounds by Giacomo Giammatteo.
Posted: 06 Nov 2016 12:00 AM PDT
Posted: 05 Nov 2016 12:00 AM PDT
EXCERPT and GIVEAWAY
(Bride Brigade Book 5)
by Caroline Clemmons
Rachel is the fifth book in the Bride Brigade series by Caroline Clemmons. Also available: Josephine, Angeline, Cassandra, and Ophelia.
A shameful past ...
Rachel Ross' secret haunts her. She joins other women leaving Virginia for Texas, object matrimony. Vowing never to trust again, she is rebuilding her life. She likes the dusty little town of Tarnation and is attracted to Zane Evans. She accepts a job as his bookkeeper. Her past has made her cautious and she vows never to let down her guard. The attraction is there, and she allows him to court her.
Zane Evans is a former Pinkerton agent who wants to forget all he saw in that profession and in the war and build a good life in Tarnation, Texas. He has carefully planned his future. He'd never believed in love at first sight until he meets Rachel. Now he's determined to discover and remove the reason her beautiful brown eyes look haunted.
One event reveals her past in a spectacular way. Will Zane forgive her silence?
Mama glanced from Hannah to Rachel. "I've fixed you a place in my sewing room. Your clothes and things are already there."
Not even allowed to return to her former room? Scooping up her valise, she turned and fled to the sewing room. "Fine. At least I'll have privacy."
Patrick followed and caught up with her before she closed the door. "Dahlia and I've been scouring our brains since I learned of our parents' plan. I may have a solution." He handed her a folded newspaper page with one advertisement circled. "What do you think?"
Rachel read the item:
"Young women of good character desiring to go west for the purpose of marriage may apply for an interview between ten and four o'clock in the afternoon from April 5th to 10th at the Grand Hotel, Richmond, care of Mrs. Lydia Harrison."
"Good character? This Mrs. Lydia Harrison might not agree I qualify." She reread the item as she mulled over the implications. "Regardless, I'll go see Mrs. Harrison at ten tomorrow." She hugged Patrick. "I knew I could count on you, dear brother."
"You'll have to thank Dahlia for that advertisement. It wasn't in the parts of the paper I read."
All her plans for the future had changed. Instead of welcome from her family, she was ostracized by all but her brother. In her head, she saw the wisdom of her father's edict. In her heart, she was far too crushed for reason. She wouldn't stay a second longer than necessary to find a solution.
Patrick leaned a shoulder against the door jamb. "I'll take off work again to go with you and be certain this woman isn't a con artist soliciting young women for objectionable purposes."
Rachel was able to force a smile though her heart had frozen solid. "No, Patrick, thank you for coming for me and for being the same fine man I remember, but I should do this alone. The ad says 'for the purpose of marriage' and I'll be sure of the details before I commit—if she even chooses me."
"At least let me give you a few dollars to pay cab fare there and back and enough to buy lunch if you're out then." He opened his wallet and removed several bills, which he pressed into her hand.
She gazed at the amount. "Ten dollars? Patrick, this is too much."
He backed away as he held his hands palm facing her. "You don't know what expenses you'll have. I'll worry enough without thinking you have no resources."
She dropped the cash into her purse. "Thank you. You're the dearest brother who ever lived."
His cheeky grin cheered her. "Honesty compels me to modestly agree with you."
[Want more? Click below to read a longer excerpt.]
Praise for the Book
"I have read all of the five Bride Brigade books and can't pick a favorite. Each story is complete, detailed, and enjoyable. Rachel's story did not disappoint. I love how Ms. Clemmons intertwines all the bride's stories, yet each can be read alone. I look forward to the next book in the series." ~ Marianne Spitzer
" ... I enjoyed this book so very much I hated to see it end." ~ Dorothy Henderson
"Intriguing story of a woman framed for someone else's crime. Trust doesn't come easy when even her own family turns against her." ~ Beverly G.
"Oh boy, did I ever enjoy this book. Good work!!" ~ Marcia Montoya
About the Author
Caroline Clemmons is an Amazon bestselling and award winning author of historical and contemporary western romances. A frequent speaker at conferences and seminars, she has taught workshops on characterization, point of view, and layering a novel.
Caroline and her husband live in the heart of Texas cowboy country with their menagerie of rescued pets. When she's not indulging her passion for writing, Caroline enjoys family, reading, travel, antiquing, genealogy, and getting together with friends.
Enter the blast-wide giveaway for a chance to win a $50 Amazon gift card or PayPal cash.
Plus, subscribe to the author's newsletter to receive a FREE novella of Happy is the Bride, a humorous historical wedding disaster that ends happily - but you knew it would, didn't you?
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