Friday, January 31, 2014

Getting to Know #Author C.S. Reid (#Juvenile)

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Image of CS Reid

Do you have any advice for writers?
Keep writing the narratives that you want to tell.

Do you have any specific last thoughts that you want to say to your readers?
I just want to convey a sincere “Thank You” to everyone that has purchased an ebook and or, stopped to read the excerpts that are available on the Internet.
Believe you me; I know that it is asking a great deal to read a narrative composed by a complete stranger.

What do you do to unwind and relax?
I produce music, sing, write, and frequent music venues that feature live Jazz/R&B Bands.

How important do you think villains are in a story?
Villains and or the antagonist(s) are instrumental in creating textures of opposition throughout the narrative. The anti-voice must be allowed to air its dissatisfaction with the protagonist(s) aims and or underlying agenda. The aforementioned opposition creates the tension that is necessary for an interesting story to take shape.

Can we expect any more books from you in the future?
Yes. I am one of those who plans on writing throughout the course of my life.
I have several YA books that are essentially completed, but I continue to add more chapters.

Are you reading any interesting books at the moment?
James Baldwin, Early Novels and Stories; Paul Bowles, The Collected Stories; Sylvia Plath, The Collected Poems.

PluckingPoetryFromTheAir
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Genre - Juvenile Fiction, Careers
Rating – G
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Connect with CS Reid on Goodreads

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Lisa J. Hobman - Scotland – My land of Inspiration @LivingScottishD

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Scotland – My land of Inspiration

For the last ten years my family and I have been coming to Scotland on holiday. Part of this is due to the fact that I hate flying but mainly it’s because I’m a sucker for amazing scenery. I remember my first holiday to Scotland vividly. It was in the month of October but you’d have been forgiven for thinking it was August! The weather was glorious. Bright cornflower blue skies, fluffy white clouds and a warm summer-like breeze were all part of my first experience of Scotland.

Now I know that Scotland isn’t exactly notorious for its summers but I have to say that even in Autumn and winter the place is stunning. Around every corner is a different view. Whether it’s the rocky, bracken covered outcrops of Rannoch Moor, the rugged peak of the Buichaille pointing toward the sky from where it rises out of the ground or the majestic loch Shiel as it ambles towards the shingle shore at Glenfinnan. The country has so much to offer. I will share with you a few of the photos I have taken on my various holidays and also snaps taken closer to home now that I live in Scotland.

clip_image002This is the actual Bridge Over the Atlantic; the stone structure that joins Easdale to mainland Scotland. It’s a stunning place and the view from here is just wonderful. It’s also known as Clachan Bridge. It’s the place where my debut novel takes place and I had an emotional visit there just before the book was published.

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This is the beautiful shore of Loch Shiel at Glenfinnan to the north of the loch. We’ve sat here for many hours just listening to the water wash over the shingle and looking out at the stunning view.

 
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This is the Buchaille, also known as the Buckle. If you have read Bridge Over the Atlantic you will know that this place is very special to Greg. It was where he met the love of his life, Mairi. It’s stunning mountain and seeing it for myself was another emotional experience.
For those of you who have read Through the Glass, this is the view in the family photo that Jim had kept. It’s also where he liked to sit with a good book and a flask of coffee. It features a few more times in the book too but you will have to read it to find out how ;-)


Edinburgh features in my third book which will be published in early 2014. This particular shot is of the vibrant Grassmarket which I have visited many times since relocating to the area. Edinburgh is a wonderfully cultured place with its museums and history.

The Fringe Festival is something I can highly recommend if you visit around August time. Lots of wonderful talent to make you laugh, sing along and think deeply.


So, I’m sure from seeing the photos you can understand to some extent why the place is my inspiration and why I love it so very much. I’ve been called an honorary Scot’s lass and I’m very happy with that title. Long may it continue.

And as long as this beautiful country continues to inspire me I will continue to write about people falling in love here both with the place itself and, of course, with each other.
ThroughTheGlass
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Genre – Contemporary Romance
Rating – PG-17
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The Soul of the World (Legends of Amun Ra #2) by Joshua Silverman @jg_silverman

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*   *   *

Kem dives to the ground in desperation, covering his head and neck from the rocks raining down. I didn’t see that coming. I thought I was quiet, he thinks.

The announcement of Cadmus’ elimination booms over the intercom. Well, at least I don’t have to worry about a vengeful brother.

The dust and debris settle from the crumbled wall. Find Kesi. Kem trots towards the end of the path. Before he gets there, he sees a shadow along the wall.

Dio turns the corner and spots him. She’s already throwing blue spheres before he knows what happened.

Kem hits the floor hard, dodging the first two. Dio hurls more at him.

His heart beats like a jackhammer in his chest. He is covered in dirt and sand. Kem swerves left, then right, ducking from a shot aimed at his head. He looks back at Dio, who walks with determination, shooting at him. Will she not let up a little? Got to slow her down.

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Genre – Science fiction, Fantasy

Rating – PG-13+

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Website www.legendsofamunra.com; www.joshuagsilverman.com

Through the Glass by Lisa J. Hobman @LivingScottishD

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Although he was raised in Scotland, Jim was by no means heading home. Dumbarton, place of his upbringing, held no pull for him now with his parents gone. They had put every penny they could aside for their sons. The brothers discovered after their parents’ deaths that this was the reason for their frugal existence. The modest town house they inherited on top of the savings had meant that Jim could buy himself a place, albeit small and a little run down. Although the money had always been intended to set him up in a home with Felicity, he’d sat on the money for years not daring to dip into it lest it be swallowed up on minor frivolities. But that home—their home—clearly was never meant to be.

The choice of his new location, Shieldaig in the West Highlands, was more of an escape. He had visited as a child with his family when they were on holiday, but he didn’t remember too much about it. His memories were all in the family photos he’d kept. He just knew that it was a peaceful, almost undiscovered place, certainly more his pace of life than London. Because he had no memories of Flick here, he knew he could start afresh.

Wipe the slate clean.

There would be nothing around each corner to remind him of what a mess he had made of things. He could reinvent himself if he so wished. Not that he would do that. He wasn’t pretentious. That had kind of been the problem really. He couldn’t pretend to be anyone but himself and this hadn’t been good enough. He’d come to realise, in recent years, that Flick was out of his league. But he also knew that he wasn’t a bad person. Other than a failed marriage he had nothing to be ashamed of. He had loved his wife more than life itself. He’d tried so damned hard to fit in with her life and all its glamour. But he simply wasn’t that good an actor.

His brother, Euan, had escaped too. He had emigrated to Australia to be with the woman of his dreams whom he had met two years ago whilst travelling through Europe.

Jim was slightly envious of Euan’s relationship with Tara. She was very easy going and fun to be around. Every bit the beach babe, she had a petite frame, sun bleached curly hair, and eyes as green as the brightest emeralds. Euan had always been into sports and had excelled in football at school. He had been travelling around Europe with some of his football team mates when he was introduced to Tara in a bar in Germany by one of his friends.

Euan was due a visit to the UK. He had promised Jim, during their phone call a few days ago that he would be back at some point this year and would be bringing Tara back with him.

“It’ll be great to see you, bro! I can’t wait! I’m looking forward to seeing where you end up living now that you’re rid of Cruella De Ville!” Euan chuckled. He had actually always seemed to like Felicity but in recent years that clearly had changed.

ThroughTheGlass

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Genre – Contemporary Romance

Rating – PG-17

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Connect with Lisa J. Hobman on Facebook & Twitter

Website www.lisajhobman.co.uk

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Author Interview – Shanna Hatfield @ShannaHatfield #thechristmascowboy

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Image of Shanna Hatfield
What scares you the most?
Snakes. I really, really don’t like snakes.
What makes you happiest?
I find happiness in many places – like a cup of fragrant tea, a good visit with a friend, a bouquet of beautiful flowers, finding money in a coat pocket I forgot was there. But I’d have to say my husband (lovingly referred to as Captain Cavedweller) makes me the happiest.
Why do you write?
I write because I can’t imagine going through life not writing. It is part of who I am, what I do, and always will be.
Have you always enjoyed writing?
Always. I think I wrote my first work of fiction in third grade. It was about a raccoon.
What motivates you to write?
My desire to capture the stories floating around my head on paper is a motivator. When someone tells me something I wrote made a difference in her life, it motivates me to keep on writing, and write better. The fact I recently left my “day” job to write full-time is definitely motivation.
The Christmas Cowboy
"10% of the net proceeds from all my book sales December 1-24 will be donated to the Justin Cowboy Crisis Fund®"
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Genre – Romance (contemporary western)
Rating – PG
More details about the author
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The Jonas Trust Deception by A.F.N. Clarke @AFNClarke

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The Jonas Trust Deception

by AFN Clarke

AFN CLARKE is the author of 8 books, including the best selling memoir CONTACT, that was serialized in a British newspaper and made into an award winning BBCTV film.  His latest novel, The Jonas Trust Deception, is a Thomas Gunn thriller and follows the success of The Orange Moon Affair.  Readers have called it “classy, complex and cunningly compelling” and a “powerful force in the thriller genre”.  In solving the mystery of an ongoing conspiracy involving his old friend Morgan, Thomas Gunn, ex-Special Forces, takes an action so shocking and bold, that even his team fear he’s lost his mind.  The question is, has he?  To get a taste of things to come, here’s an excerpt from the book.  And for more information visit www.afnclarke.com or the Amazon Kindle store.

There is something so totally desolate about sitting in a prison cell staring at the blank grey walls that, unless you’ve experienced it, you’ll never understand. There is a finality and hopelessness that is almost beyond comprehension. A despair that sucks at your soul. My salvation was that I knew that my stay here was going to be short-lived, but what the future held was one big question mark. I had the distinct feeling somebody had put a ring in my nose and was leading on a mystery tour with more questions than answers.

Left alone with just the usual sounds of dissatisfied inmates, clinking keys and slamming doors for company, I thought back to the frantic last few days.

Confusion would be an apt description of my state of mind.

What facts could I scramble together?

Several dead bodies at Morgan’s ranch.

A small but ruthless Mexican Mafia gangbanger, with the unlikely nickname of ‘El Cobra Poco’, who seemed as if he could be a strange ally.

And the mysterious Robert Sutherland.

What other questions remained?

There were many, starting with who would have wanted to kill Morgan? Everything went back to my request for her to investigate the financial dealings of the Griffin Trust and its Chairman Ted Lieberman.

How was the Mexican Mafia involved if what Sutherland said about Morgan working for him was true?

I could just lie here all night long and create imaginary scenarios, but that wouldn’t supply any answers, so I closed my eyes and concentrated on emptying my mind.

Sleep was what I needed.
It must have been two hours after the jail cell lights went out, that the goons came for me. Dragged me off the bed and frog marched me down the corridor to the back of the jail and down narrow stairs to a basement garage without saying a word. There was a nondescript cream coloured painter’s van waiting with the rear doors open, and I was unceremoniously bundled inside.

THE JONAS TRUST DECEPTION

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Genre – Thriller

Rating – PG-13

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Website http://www.afnclarke.com/

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Sunspots by Karen S. Bell @KarenSueBell

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* * *

As I lie in bed with these thoughts, I finally notice that Marina has quietly come back into my room and is sitting in the armchair watching me. She offers me some more medicine and I shake my head, “no.” I don’t want to sleep, and I don’t want to be awake. There is no comfort in anything. She says, “Come. We’ll have a nice cup of tea.” And I follow her downstairs and into the kitchen, zombie-like. I watch her with dull eyes that do not see her movements as she opens cupboards and finds a teapot, cups, and tea bags. I listen with deaf ears to her hum a Russian tune. I sit patiently with no patience sipping the tea I cannot taste. In silence, we sit. In silence, we speak without speaking. Marina’s life force wills me to feel her love.

And then she tells me her plan. “Maybe, I’ll stay with you awhile. Nothing back in Brooklyn right now.” I answer, mouthing words that I want to feel and yet cannot feel because I have closed myself off to the emotions of life, “Oh yes, please stay, Marina. I couldn’t bear all this alone.” I’m overwhelmed by her generosity, my loss, and the hidden truths lurking under the surface waiting to be revealed. Then the cordoned off person inside me breaks through all my controls again and unwonted tears erupt in a torrent of suppressed anguish. I am enveloped in her arms and her soothing voice whispers calming words as I try to regain the safety of stoicism.

Marina and I, sisters of a sort, sit together in my huge kitchen, in my huge house, sharing the huge hole in my heart as my tears pour down my face, flowing as if someone has turned on a spigot. Two small souls in a too-big kitchen of a too-big house silently wondering about the business problems of which his lawyer spoke using carefully chosen words somberly executed while his eyes burned with deep meaning. Problems that would have to be sorted out after I finished sitting “Shivah.” How can one cope with all of this? When will I wake up from this nightmare?

Eventually, it is dawn and I must sit on the wooden bench that signifies my mourning as memories cloud the present and I relive a life that is no more.

Sunspots

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Genre – Contemporary romance, Magical Realism

Rating – PG-13

More details about the author

Saturday, January 25, 2014

The Man Who Lived at the End of the World by Robert Davies @ahundredstories

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The Man Who Lived at the End of the World

September, 2013: When the summer ended, so did the world.

Staggering under a volley of meteorite hits, cities the world over are evacuated by the military as violent earthquakes, floods, storms and fires rage across the planet.

The journey unfolds through the jaded yet childlike eyes of Silas Stanley, a recently escaped psychiatric patient who must travel hundreds of miles across a devastated Britain to find his dying daughter before the world ends. Through ruined and deserted cities, flooded countryside and burning fields, Silas makes his way from an evacuated London all the way to his old home town in the Lake District, all the while startled and amazed by the world around him. En route he must avoid the strict martial law that is in force, and steer clear of the huge nuclear explosions being set off by the military in a last-ditch attempt to correct the earth’s faltering orbit.

On a world knocked off course and brought to its knees, love for his family finally forces Silas to face the enormity of his own past with just as much bravery as his uncertain future.

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Genre - Apocalyptic fiction

Rating – PG

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Website http://robertdavies.co

Friday, January 24, 2014

Absolution (The #Vampire Alliance) by Angela Louise McGurk @Angela_McGurk #PNR #MustRead

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Absolution

Eve Blakethorn can barely remember what it was like to be unaware of the vampire world around her. Many years have passed since she met the stranger, the man who saved her life, gave her the world and promised her immortality. Unfortunately for Eve someone in power had not wanted her to have the world. Within days of her marriage her life is shattered. Everyone Eve cares for, vampire and human, is taken from her and she is left alone to fend for herself in a world she neither understands nor fits into.

How can she hope to survive her dark and lonely existence while still plagued by the horrors she witnessed when her husband died? How can she avoid becoming prey to the monster who stalks her footsteps, the devil she has long suspected to be the one who brought about her husband’s downfall?
Desperation drives her every move, leading her into the darkness where monsters wait. Can Eve discover the truth about how her world came to crumble and who was really responsible? Is there another stranger out there capable of bringing her some sense of peace? And just what is the vampire government, The Senate, hiding in the dark tunnels under the city?

Praise for Absolution*: 
“I enjoyed every chapter haven't stayed up so late for a book in so long I just couldn't put my phone down. Great book.”

“Wow! It's a nice change to read something in the vampire category with a more mature storyline. Your story was interesting and had me captivated from the beginning until the end. It was beautifully written, and falling in love with with the characters was easy. Great job absolutely loved it!”

“I have thoroughly enjoyed this book! I think this has been one of the most original, mature vampire stories I have ever read... The lives of your vampires are fully realised, their abilities are believable, and the twists in your story are sublime.”

*All comments are from readers.

Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre - Urban Fantasy, Paranormal Romance
Rating – R
More details about the author
Connect with Angela Louise McGurk on FacebookTwitter

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Author Interview – Kristine Mason @KristineMason7

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What makes you angry?

Mean people. It’s just not necessary.

Are you a city slicker or a country lover?

I’ll take the suburbs, thanks!

What’s your next project?

I’m currently writing Ultimate Kill, which is the first book in my next CORE suspense trilogy.

Do you find the time to read?

I try! Reading is one of my favorite pastimes and I just don’t have the opportunity to do it as much as I used to.

Who do you admire?

Anyone who sets goals for themselves and does their best to accomplish them.

What is your favorite quote, by whom, and why?

“Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try!”

Dr. Seuss

Are you kidding me? This quote is awesome! This is me. This is what I do. Think, think, think. About my characters, how I can motivate them, develop them, make them come to life. Next to writing them, brainstorming stories/characters is one of my favorite things to do. I love taking an idea, adding twists and turns that end up taking that same idea to a whole new level.

What is your favorite color?

Pink

What is your favorite food?

Cheesecake and dark chocolate.

How has your upbringing influenced your writing?

My mom used to make up stories all of the time. She would take me to old cemeteries (yeah, strange but interesting), look at headstones and ask me to come up with a story about the person who had died. She’d ask, “What do you think this person’s dash between their birth and death represents?” Together we’d make up all sorts of things. My mom inspired my imagination.

lovemeorleaveme

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Genre – Contemporary Romance

Rating – PG-13

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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Author Interview - Stan Spencer @DrStanSpencer

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Image of Stan Spencer

How do you think people perceive writers?

As kind of strange.

What’s the reason for your life? Have you figured out your reason for being here yet?

My purpose is to be an ambassador of truth and to love others, particularly my family.

How do you feel about self-publishing?

I like it. It allows me to remain true to what needs to be said.

Do you know your neighbors?

Yes, I just walked with my wife and some kids to take Christmas plates to some new neighbors. People are interesting.

How important are friends in your life?

My family members are my closest friends, and they are very important.

How many friends does a person need?

One.

What does love mean to you?

Love means striving to understand another person’s point of view and showing that you respect and value them.

When you get free time on the internet or you go to the library – what do you want to read about?

Health, happiness, great people.

Do you find the time to read?

I don’t read fast and have little time to read, so I don’t get much reading done.

Who do you admire?

Ernest Shackleton, the author and subject of one of my favorite books: South. He was a true hero to his men.

What is your favorite quality about yourself?

My love for learning and truth.

Diet Dropout's Guide to Natural Weight Loss

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Genre – Non-fiction

Rating – G

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Author Interview – AFN Clarke @AFNClarke

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You are self-published, what led to you going your own way?
My first 6 books were traditionally published, but I’ve stepped out of that system in more recent years. I found I had to do most of the marketing myself anyway, so why not take back control and reap the rewards? So I did, I got my rights back and released all my work as eBooks in the Amazon Kindle Store. Interestingly, after 30 years Random House agreed to hand back the rights to my bestseller CONTACT as the book was supposedly “too old”. I am glad to say I have proven them wrong! It’s still one of my bestsellers and resonates with readers all over the world. I love the freedom self-publishing brings, though would still work with a good publisher on a more equal footing if that were possible.
Do you plot your stories or do you just get an idea and run with it?
I am more of a “stream of consciousness’ writer. Although I have a clear idea of the plot and a definite focus I simply start and then the book takes on a life of its own. The characters are, after all, people, and how they react to different situations determines what happens next – and so as my characters grow they help develop the twists and turns of the story in a way that often surprises even me. I think this gives my writing a greater immediacy, vibrancy, and feeling of being “real” even if it’s a highly fanciful story.
Do you have to do much research for your stories?
I am always researching but I am blessed with a “colourful” life as fodder for my books as well. My father was an MI6 operative and I’ve been an Officer in Britain’s elite Parachute Regiment, a race-car driver, pilot, screenwriter, computer programmer and proud father of 4 daughters. I’ve lived in Hong Kong, India, Iran, Libya, Europe, the UK, USA and Australia and so have been immersed in different cultures, political and religious systems. This blend of my background, insatiable curiosity about everything and my on-going research is an important part of every book, so that the boundaries between what is real and what is not are always intriguingly blurred, adding, I hope, a depth and breadth to my work.
What is your most recent book?  Tell us a little about it.
The Jonas Trust Deception, which is actually the second book of a new thriller series. It follows the success of the The Orange Moon Affair which features Thomas Gunn, ex-Special Forces, who is dragged back to his old life of international intrigue and danger following the brutal murder of his billionaire father.  In The Jonas Trust Deception, the fallout from the Orange Moon conspiracy throws Thomas and his girlfriend Julie into the deadly path of Mexican drug cartels, corrupt politicians, unscrupulous financial brokers, and the US and UK intelligence services. Outraged by the feeling of constantly being “played”, Thomas decides to take an action so shocking and unexpected, that even his team fear he’s lost his mind.  The question is – has he?
I’m loving writing this series and am already part-way through the third book “Running with the Bonefish”, which I expect to release in early 2014.
What inspired you to write your new thriller series?
My inspiration is the person the first book, The Orange Moon Affair, is dedicated to – Terry Forrestal, ex-British SAS, brother-in-arms and a dear friend, may he rest in peace. His life read like a Hollywood movie, indeed he was a stunt man, actor and stunt coordinator (The Killing Fields, Titanic, Brazil and more), and he had that streak of larrikin in him, so I think he would enjoy these books. He – like myself, and the central character Thomas Gunn – was always torn between the “trained killer” part of himself and the more caring, emotional part that simply wanted a more “normal” and peaceful life. That inner turmoil is an integral part of the book and it’s what makes Thomas so vulnerable. It also makes for an interesting relationship with his girlfriend Julie.
I was also inspired to take on the challenge of a series  – and believe me it is a real challenge – because I wanted the opportunity to develop a number of inter-related themes and characters over a longer period of time, allowing the reader to go on a continuing journey as if they were a part of the main characters’ lives.  It’s not easy, but I’m loving the process and excited about continuing with many more books to come.
THE JONAS TRUST DECEPTION
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Genre – Thriller
Rating – PG-13
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Order of the Seers by Cerece Rennie Murphy @CereceRMurphy

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Chapter 1: The End

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Liam was losing his patience. “Aw, come on! Are you serious? You can’t want to ride this thing again!”

Instead of answering her older brother, Lilli remained in her seat as the Ferris wheel conductor looked on expectantly, hand outstretched and waiting for another two tokens.

The way Lilli’s skinny arms hugged her book bag while she stared blankly at the pressed metal floor of their “Fairy Land Caboose” made it hard for Liam to stay angry. The sight of her looking so dejected softened him enough to give the conductor his fifth set of tokens in less than 45 minutes. Liam settled back into his seat just as the lap bar clamped down uncomfortably against his thighs.

“Lilli, say something. Why’d you drag me out here if you were just gonna sulk? I hate the carnival, you know that.”

“I know something… okay? Just… trust me. We have to stay here.” Her voice was so low he could barely hear her over the wind-up music that was blaring from the overhead speakers.

“Did Mom say something to you?”

Lilli responded to his question with silence and a barely discernable shake of her head back and forth. He tried again.

“Lilli! Did Mom…?”

“Yes,” she snapped.

They both fell silent again as Liam took in the latest weird thing of the day. Lilith Knight, or Lilli as she preferred to be called, had always been strange. Even when she was five, she could beat Liam at chess lazily, without even thinking about it. She would find things and give them to you before you asked for them. Before you, or even she, knew why. Up until recently, he thought she was just a freak. No biggie. All little sisters are like that, he told himself.

It was only in the past few months that his perception of her began to shift, after her prediction that he would catch his new girlfriend, Krista, kissing his teammate Lance in the locker room after their championship game. At the time, he’d brushed off her premonition as meddling. Krista wasn’t even his girlfriend and his team was 1-1 with the whole basketball season ahead of them.

He’d forgotten her warning completely until two months later when he ran back into the locker room after winning the championship to get the jacket he’d left behind and immediately smelled Krista’s perfume. When he found them, two thoughts overshadowed the scene unfolding in front of him. The first was that what they were doing wasn’t really “kissing,” though he could see how a sheltered thirteen-year-old would describe it that way. His second thought was that Lilli was right; she was exactly right. He was so stunned by Lilli’s accuracy that he didn’t even bother to disturb them, leaving his new ex-girlfriend and her new boyfriend to their business. From that moment, Liam understood that Lilli wasn’t just a freak, or more accurately, that she wasn’t a freak at all. She was special…gifted.

The sound of Lilli’s sniffling followed by the trembling of her body as she began to cry uncontrollably broke the long silence that had fallen between them. What the…, Liam half-mumbled as his mind swung from irritation to absolute bewilderment. Slowly and deliberately, Liam moved his palms down the front of his face as he fought the urge to shake the truth right out of her and end whatever this was. But he couldn’t. She’s so brittle already, he thought, without any idea as to why. So instead, he reached out to envelop his sister in his arms, trying to soothe her and comfort her from some unknown force.

“Lilli, it’s all right. I’m sorry, okay? Don’t cry. Just… tell me what’s going on. Why are we here?”

He tried to wait patiently, to rein in the confusion and frustration that had been piercing through the calm day he had planned for himself when he woke up that morning, as cool and carefree as any sixteen-year-old boy. It was Lilli who had dragged him out of the house before he could even wolf down his second bowl of Honeycombs. “Mom said you have to take me to the carnival. NOW!” She had demanded.

He had started to head upstairs to launch his appeal when his eye caught his mother’s note on the refrigerator door. “Take Lilli to the fair. NOW.—Love, Mom,” it read. He knew that meant his mother had left the house early; there was no appeal to be made. Begrudgingly, he slipped on his sneakers and grabbed the car keys, all the while wondering if Lilli was still too young to be left at the fair by herself.

His earlier thoughts of abandonment brought him back to his sister’s form beside him. Not knowing what else to do, Liam simply held her tight as her convulsing turned to trembling, and finally, back to stillness. At the top of the Ferris wheel, she finally spoke.

“It’s over now, we can go home,” she whispered. But as impatient for answers and a reprieve from big brother duties as he was, Liam knew that it was not over. The emotionless tone in her voice scared him. It made him want to stay on the Ferris wheel he’d been begging to get off of a few short minutes ago. As the music died down and their feet got closer to the ground, he suddenly felt conflicting urges to stay where he was and to rush home to his mother. As the ride came to a stop, he suddenly realized with profound certainty that this was much more than one of Lilli’s “episodes.” Something was very, very wrong.

When Liam pulled his father’s green 2002 Saab in front of their small brick house, everything seemed as it always did—quiet and predictable in their modest yet comfortable home. They had lived in a much bigger house before his father died, but Liam never minded sharing a bathroom with his mother and sister. All the toys and trinkets that had mattered to him when he was a child were rendered insignificant the moment his mother told him that his father would never come home again. As he got out of the car and began to take the front steps two at a time, he noticed that Lilli had stopped at the tree stump his mother had cut down the week before. Sitting down, her eyes remained on the ground. Just as his mouth formed the shape of a question, she spoke.

“No, you go. I can’t see it again.”

Liam didn’t stop to ask what she meant. Whatever she meant, he was sure it was worse than he thought. He tried to hold back the swell of fear in his chest as he ran to the front door, but his emotions spun out of control the moment he tested the front door knob and found it opened—easily. They never left the front door unlocked.

When he stepped into the house, he actually felt the life, the person he had been, rush past him and out the door as his eyes took in the overturned, splintered remains of their living room. It was a feeling he’d felt only once before, when his father died. But what made it worse, what made it permanent, was lying in the middle of the floor, with its contents thrown everywhere. It was his mother’s purse, which had not been there when he left that morning.

“Mom!” he shouted as he raced up the stairs to her room. “Mom. Please!” he shouted again, but no one answered. In every room he looked, it was the same - scattered clothes, broken mirrors, and silence—a deafening silence that rang louder than the sound of his own shallow breathing.

If he took the stairs at lightning speed to make it to the second floor, an age could have passed during his descent. The entire house consisted of three bedrooms, one and a half bathrooms, a kitchen, a living room, and a small open dining area that you could see clearly from the front door. As he walked down the steps, he knew there was only one room left to check. His mind was frozen on what to hope for as his hand reached the end of the banister. If she wasn’t in the kitchen, she might have been taken, but at least there was a chance she was still alive. If she was in the kitchen, it was unthinkable.

Lilli’s words came to him just as he rounded the doorway to the kitchen.

No, you go. I can’t see it again.”

He found his mother sitting with her feet planted on the floor, shoulder width apart, bright eyes open and cast to the ceiling, with a hole blown through the middle of her chest.

Liam braced himself against the door frame as he began to sob, the sounds seemingly emanating from a place far away from where he stood. He could not look away from the horrific image before him, the last image of his mother. He stood there with wide-eyed and tear-stained pain as the last measure of his youth drained from him like blood rushing from an open vein. When it was done, his body slid to the ground.

We are alone, he thought. There’s no one left.

Ever since his father had died, Liam lived in fear that one day he would lose her. Unable to tear his eyes away from her body, he could hear her vehemently denying that there would ever be a time when she wasn’t with them. “Never,” she would say.

Never, he thought, has finally come.

Though Liam had been staring at her body since he entered the kitchen, he had not seen the gun in her hand until he noticed a fly land on it. Years of training to keep the gun out of Lilli’s sight made him jump to his feet until he remembered that Lilli was still outside. He knew the gun well; it was his mother’s. She had taught him how to use it and to keep it out of Lilli’s reach when she was small.

At first his mind could not decipher the meaning of the scene before him. Was he meant to believe that she did this to herself? Why would the people who broke into their house ransack the place and then try to make it look like a suicide? But he couldn’t think straight, couldn’t figure out the logic or the answer to any of the crazy questions running through his mind. Why would she kill herself? He was sure the answers were obvious; he just wasn’t making sense. None of this was making any sense.

His confusion caused him to draw closer to her body. Kneeling down beside his mother, Liam took the lifeless hand that dangled at her side, the one that was not holding the gun. Though his eyes were still filled with tears, they were no longer breaking through the barriers of his lower lids. This momentary fortitude allowed him to have the courage to look directly into her face and see her open smile. The sight of it knocked him down and back into the base cabinets. She was smiling. She was smiling, he thought. She had known what was coming, and she was smiling.

Suddenly, he remembered his mother’s constant warning every time they went to the shooting range. “Don’t pick up a gun unless you mean to use it. There can be no hesitation. Do you understand me?” she would ask him sternly. Liam knew Jill Knight was skilled at using a firearm. If she had a chance to draw her gun, no one could take it from her. The implications made him immediately sick and angry before their full meaning could even register.

As if retching the contents of his stomach into the kitchen sink made room for clarity, he suddenly understood the reason behind her smile. She had killed herself. She had done this to herself, on purpose. He threw up again in a wave of protest at the notion that she would abandon them, even as the resentment of her betrayal took root. When he was done, he didn’t want to turn around, didn’t want to face her.

How could she do this? She wouldn’t do this. She promised.

Holding himself up at the sink, his thoughts turned to Lilli. Is this what she saw?, he wondered, fighting a new wave of nausea. No wonder she cried like that. No wonder… Rather than try to sort out the conflict of thoughts and emotions inside him, he decided to check on Lilli and make sure that she remained outside while he tried to figure out what to do next.

As he peered over his shoulder toward the doorway, his eyes caught the folded cuff of his mother’s sweatshirt, which was turquoise save for the blood, and a little corner of white paper that was peeking out. He knew his mother hid things in the cuff of her sleeve all the time; it was one of the many old lady habits Liam enjoyed teasing her about. He stared at the white edge of paper for a long time, warring with his own feelings of anger and grief before simple curiosity forced him to bend down and retrieve it. As his fingers curved around the edge of her sleeve, he could feel something flat and hard inside. When he rolled down her sleeve to get it, the key to his gym locker at school slipped out before he could fully unroll the note. When he did, it unleashed a new avalanche of questions upon heartbreak over questions.

In his mother’s tiny cursive handwriting, the note read, ‘Go now. Protect her.’ Liam felt a new level of understanding peel back in his mind as he read her note again. He began to see the very real possibility that perhaps his mother had not wanted to do this to herself. Perhaps she was forced by the same people who came into their home. The same people who she wanted him to protect Lilli from now. Liam grabbed the key off the floor before rising to meet his mother’s eyes one last time. They looked so different from how they had even two minutes ago and held so much he couldn’t understand, couldn’t handle right now. He closed his eyes and softly kissed her on her forehead before running out of his home for what he knew would be the last time.

Liam closed the front door behind him and turned to find Lilli sitting exactly where he left her twenty minutes before. He had only two objectives at that point - making sure that she was safe, and getting the hell out of there. As Liam scanned the neighborhood for anything suspicious, he took in the studied quiet of his block. There was no one on the street at 11:23 am on a beautiful Sunday morning. Where is everyone, he wondered, suddenly wary of the neighbors with whom he had grown up. How had no one heard the gunshot? Why didn’t anyone call the police?

The tremor in his neighbors’ curtains gave credence to the sensation that they were being watched, but no one would step outside to help them. This realization came over him with a bitterness that cast itself over all the sorrow he held inside. They had all been witnesses, he guessed, but they would no longer be friends.

Watching Liam as he crossed the small front lawn to reach her, Lilli was struck by how much older her brother looked compared to just a few hours ago. Though his straight black hair hung as sloppy and heavy as it always did over his blue-green eyes, there was none of the playful nonchalance that usually characterized her brother’s disposition. His hair was slick, spiked, and jet black with sweat, and it framed the angles of his face in a way that made her easy-going brother look cold and menacing. But it wasn’t a surprise, Lilli could see everything Liam felt on his face—anger, sorrow, betrayal, and a ferocity emerging that she did not understand. Seeing her brother so unlike himself made Lilli’s face crumple in agony as she trembled under the weight of her own choices.

“I’m sorry, Liam,” she begged in between sobs. “I know you’re mad at me for not telling you. Mom told me that if I did, they would kill you. She said I had to be strong enough… strong enough to save you.”

“Shhh, Lilli. It’s all right. We’ll talk about this later. Don’t cry. Shhh.”

Lilli knew Liam meant his response to be soothing, but his words came out cold, devoid of any life or feeling behind them. When she looked up to search his face and understand the hollowness in his voice, she found him scanning the street with the same look of fierceness. Something in the clenched set of his jaw made her finally understand. He was determined, to keep her alive, to protect the only family he had left.

“We need to go,” he said, as he led her to the car.

“Where?”

“I don’t know, Lilli. I don’t know.”

Order of the Seers

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Genre – Science Fiction

Rating – NC-17

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Website http://www.crmurphybooks.com

Monday, January 20, 2014

The Sovereign Order of Monte Cristo by Holy Ghost Writer @SultanOfSalem

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After the much-needed bath, Dantes puts on his dressing gown and lies down on his old bed, which he finds deeply comforting. He has played and traveled hard over the past few busy years, and he knows it has worn on him; there is more silver in his hair than before. He hopes to slow down soon, for he loves his new home with his family close by and misses them terribly. The sweet, baby faces of his daughters loom in the darkness of his closed eyes. How blessed he is! He resolves to enjoy Paris while he is here, though. He wants to go to the opera while he is in town and also visit a few of his favorite haunts. Finally, he falls fast asleep, only to awaken to a servant telling him the meal is nearly ready.
The servant helps Dantes dress and leads him to the dining room.
“The table looks divine,” Dantes says, thinking how nice it is to be out of his traveling clothes and into something more refined. He looks at the spread before him—fresh fruit and vegetables, as well as two huge pheasants with mint jelly. The yeasty smell of homemade bread fills the air and makes his mouth water.
“I hope this pleases you, sir,” Valentine tells him. “I know the food in America is quite different. Perhaps you have become too accustomed to their fare to appreciate ours.”
“Oh, nothing can compare to a good French meal, although American food has its own charms. When the baby is old enough to travel, you will all have to visit my estate in Georgia. It’s a different world, but one I believe you will enjoy,” Dantes tells them.
Just then, he hears the creak of a wheelchair. In comes M. Noirtier. Dantes rushes over to him and bids him hello.
“My old friend!” he says. “My heart fills with joy to see you—let us enjoy this magnificent feast as well as one another’s company.”
The next morning, Dantes plans to visit more of his old friends, at least those who still reside in Paris. A carriage awaits him in the hazy light of dawn, and he is flooded with memories as he drives through the streets. He wishes Mercedes and Haydee could be at his side, but knows his daughters are far too young for such travel; it would exhaust them.
Holy Ghost Writer
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Genre – Action, Adventure
Rating – PG-15
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Quality Reads UK Book Club Disclosure: Author interview / guest post has been submitted by the author and previously used on other sites.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Author Interview – Karen S. Bell @KarenSueBell

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Image of Karen S. Bell

What inspired you to write your first book?

I grew up in a world where most mothers stayed home and cared for their kids. My mother worked with my father out of necessity. Today, most mothers work out of necessity or greed. We have to have two BMWs and so on. But for whatever reason, mother’s work. And we have lousy maternity leave. No real balance for families. One day, I went into the ladies room and a woman was pumping her breast. Somewhere there is a baby crying right now, I thought. How twisted is that, that this young woman is here and not with her baby? The feminist movement was about equal pay for equal work, not hurting families. But woman are in the workforce now and still not getting equal pay. I felt women needed to start a dialogue about better balance of work and family, about longer maternity leave. No one is talking about that. I hoped I could start that conversation. I wrote that book ten years before any of the others on that topic came out, but I couldn’t find a publisher. But you know what? Women still aren’t pushing for better work/life options. We are still paying outrages costs for daycare. No help for the working mother and no one fighting for it.

Where do you get your inspiration from?

My life, movies, books, tv shows, the news, my kids.

What does love mean to you?

Unconditional acceptance. Nothing will shake it. Friendship, trust, sexual fulfillment.

When did you first know you could be a writer?

When I wrote my first short story and the narrative wrote itself. I couldn’t get the words out fast enough.

Tell us a bit about your family.

I am married and have four grown children and three grandchildren. My youngest daughter is an opera singer living in Germany, and one of my two sons is an actor married to a model/actress and they live in LA. My other son and oldest daughter live in the DC area. I live in Florida, so right now my immediate family under my roof are my two little kitties that bring my husband and I such joy. They are our furry kids.

Sunspots

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Genre – Contemporary romance, Magical Realism

Rating – PG-13

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Quality Reads UK Book Club Disclosure: Author interview / guest post has been submitted by the author and previously used on other sites.

Malpractice! The Novel by William Louis Harvey @sexandlawnovel

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Despite Paul’s sexual frustration, his high-school years passed relatively happily, as they did for most of the boys in town. (p. 21)

Malpractice_Cover_sansback1

Malpractice! the Novel is an electrifying work of realistic fiction written by an anonymous insider who worked the frontlines of the clash between the medical and legal professions during the California medical malpractice insurance crisis, which began in the 1960s. William Louis Harvey, a nom de plume, takes readers on a steamy adventure involving power, sex, lies and money in this candid courtroom suspense thriller. While Malpractice! The Novel, is a work of fiction, it is rooted in the personal experiences and firsthand knowledge the author acquired during his decades of working inside the medical industry. California in the 1960s and first half of the 1970s had already seen a dramatic increase in medical malpractice lawsuits as juries awarded progressively higher sums for “pain and suffering,” a category that had no concrete limits and caused physicians’ insurance premiums for malpractice to skyrocket. Harvey chaired a committee that reviewed all malpractice claims involving a major California hospital during the crisis. Details of some of the cases he experienced are engraved in his memory, and small portions of these tidbits find their way into Malpractice! the Novel, his first novel. Roused by a recent New York Times article about the American male novelist’s fear of addressing sexuality, Harvey interleaved honest sex histories for his novel’s characters, adding a titillating sensuality to the suspenseful novel.

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Genre – Steamy Courtroom Drama

Rating – R

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Tales of Mi7: The Kramski Case by J.J. Ward @MI7Ward

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Chapter 1: Them Ol’ Paparazzi Blues

Kendal, Cumbria.

Someone called Jilly’s name, then the name of her band, Four Girls on Fire. At first, she thought she was dreaming – they’d just won the nation’s biggest talent show all over again, and from now on, life was going to be really amazing! - then her stomach turned over.

She disengaged herself from Rob, got out of bed and went to the window. Bloody hell, yes, down in the narrow cobbled street that fronted the guest-house. Paparazzi, sixteen or seventeen of them, all men, full of last night’s chip fat and strip-club testosterone, leering up at the net curtain like they could see through it. She swallowed.

The other girls had warned her about dating a member of a boy band, but only tongue in cheek. Twice the publicity, babes, sure you can handle that? She couldn’t help herself, though. Two years ago he’d been her hero and she’d been a nobody. Now they were equals.

“They’ve found us,” she told him.

Rob stretched and yawned. He discarded the bedclothes, picked up his boxer shorts and put his foot in one leg. “The press?”

“You don’t seem very bothered.”

“You were bloody brilliant last night, Jilly.”

“How did they know we were here?”

“I mean it. Outstanding.”

She realised she didn’t even like him much. “Did you tell them?”

“Me?”

“Wake up, Rob! It’s the press! I said the press have found us!”

He pulled on his boxers and put his arms round her. She disengaged herself, plonked herself at the dressing table and brushed her long brown hair, pulling halfway down as if it was full of knots. She was trying to stop herself shaking.

“Anyone could have told them,” he said. “It definitely wasn’t me, babe.”

“Put your clothes on. We’re leaving.”

“Why? They can’t get in here.”

She fished her bra from the pile of clothes on the floor and put it on. “We’re in the bloody Lake District, Rob. We’re supposed to be miles from anywhere. How did they find us so quickly?”

She looked round the room: the plaid curtains, the beds with valances, the 1920s lampshades, all the varnished wooden surfaces, so unlike the places she always stayed when she was touring with the girls. She’d fallen in love with it at first sight. She’d been drunk, true, but she’d never wanted to leave.

Rob pulled his socks and T-shirt on then looked at her. “You’re not frightened, are you?”

“They’ve probably got the place surrounded. And yes. Yes, I am frightened.”

“We’ll just call a taxi. We can be downstairs and in the car before anyone knows it.”

“I’m not bothered about us, Rob. I’m bothered about them.” Tights, tights, where were her bloody tights?

“‘Them’?”

“Yeah, ‘them’. The photographers, journalists, whatever they call themselves. Them!”

He laughed. “First time anyone’s cared what happens to paparazzi. Anyway, what could happen to them?”

“Haven’t you been watching the news recently? Are you really that self-obsessed?”

“Hey, now - ”

“Four photographers shot dead in four weeks. Following Bobby Keynes, Zane Cruse, Mikey from Bad Lads Zero, Stallone Laine - ”

“No such thing as bad publicity, from what I hear. Not that you need it, girl, but it won’t hurt. Besides, they’re all douche bags, right?”

She pulled her dress on and smoothed the waist. She’d had enough now. She wanted out. Of everything. “I misjudged you, Rob. They’re still human beings.”

“No, they ain’t. Anyway, what are the chances?”

“I don’t want to think about it.”

He picked up the telephone. “Is that reception? Hi, yeah … Room …”

“Fourteen,” Jilly said.

“Fourteen. Could you get a taxi pronto for me and the shorty? And fetch us the bill for the room? … Yeah, we’re leaving … Yeah, all good things have to come to an end sooner or later … Yeah, we’re disappointed too.” He put his hand over the receiver. “She knows us,” he told Jilly. “It’ll be her that told the reporters.”

“Bitch.”

He put the phone down. “About fifteen minutes. Get your face on, gorgeous.”

“I’m not waiting for her taxi to come, Rob. Not if she’s with them. I’ll get my own. There’s a rank down the road. Come on.”

“What about your make-up?”

She rammed a pair of sunglasses on and picked up her travel bag. He followed her downstairs. They didn’t stop at reception. Rob reached into his wallet, pulled out four fifties and thrust them at Mrs whatever-she-was-called, the proprietress. “Keep the change.”

Suddenly, they were out on the street. Paparazzi to their right, shouting Jilly. Jilly take off your shades, Jilly flick your hair, Jilly wave, Jilly smile, Jilly stop, who’s that with Jilly, that’s Rob from Simply Boyz, Rob give us a smile, Rob –

She took off her glasses, grabbed Rob’s hand and turned left and accelerated. She almost changed direction. There was a loud crack and she jumped like she’d been hit.

Behind them, the paparazzi roared. One of them – a photographer, about twenty-five - lay prostrate and bloody. Four others photographed him, ten or twelve were in full flight, one was trying to get a signal on his mobile. No one was interested in Jilly and Rob any more.

Rob looked at them then at her. “Oh, my God. Oh, my God.”

Jilly started screaming.

Tales of MI7

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Genre – Espionage Thriller

Rating – PG

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Saturday, January 18, 2014

Come & Meet #Author Deborah Hawkins (Dance for a Dead Princess) #Romance @DeborahHawk3

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Image of Deborah Hawkins
Are you a city slicker or a country lover?
I really love both.  I’ve always lived in the city, but my grandparents had farms.  I loved to visit them when I was little.  Farm work is very hard work, but there is a wonderful rhythm to it as the seasons pass. I loved visiting the garden and feeding the animals.
When you are not writing, how do you like to relax?
I play clarinet in a woodwind quintet, cook, read, make jewelry, and play with my Golden Retrievers.
What movie to you love to watch?
Moonstruck. I’ve seen it too many times to count.
How do you feel about Facebook and Twitter?
I like both, but I tend to be more of a Facebook person.  I really enjoy keeping up with friends on my personal page, and I love hearing from readers on the Dance For A Dead Princess Facebook page.
What’s the reason for your life? 
I’m here to tell stories, to celebrate love and family, and to make people laugh.
How many friends does a person need?
If you have just a few really loyal friends, that’s all you need.
Do you find time to read?
Yes.  I read every day although a lot of it is “day job” related.  I read fiction at night after I’m finished working on my current novel.
Last book you purchased.
I’m currently reading John Grisham’s Sycamore Row.  It’s a sequel to his very first book A Time to Kill.   He writes about the rural South that I know well because of relatives who live there.  And, of course, he writes about lawyers, a world I know well because I am one.
What makes you happiest?
I am happy when the people (and dogs) that I love are happy.  And I am always happy when I’m writing or playing my clarinet. I’ve been studying music since I was nine, and I love to play.  I also love to take care of the people I love.  I like to cook for them or bring them a special little pick-me-up or tell a joke that makes them smile.
What’s your greatest character strength?
I’m an optimist.  I’m always ready to pick up the pieces and go on.  And I look for the lessons in everything and try to use what I have learned to improve my next performance whether it’s writing or music or my “day job.”
What is your favorite quote?
“It doesn’t happen all at once.  You become.”   Margery Williams, The Velveteen Rabbit.
What writing are you most proud of?
My first published novel, Dance For A Dead Princess.  It was not easy to weave  together a modern mystery-love story with a historical mystery-love story and have both be relevant to each other.  I was excited when I read  Diane Donovan’s review at the Midwest Book Review because she really understood what I was trying to do and made me feel great about my work!
(Link to book review)
(Link to book)

http://www.orangeberrybooktours.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/DanceForADeadPrincess.jpg
In January 1997, Princess Diana received a phone call telling her she would be assassinated. She recorded the information on a secret video tape, naming her killer and gave it to a trusted friend in America for safekeeping. It has never been found.
Diana's close friend, Nicholas Carey, the 18th Duke of Burnham and second richest man in England, has vowed to find the tape and expose her killer. After years of searching, he discovers Diana gave the tape to British socialite Mari Cuniff, who died in New York under mysterious circumstances. He believes Wall Street attorney Taylor Collins, the executor of Mari's estate, has possession of it. He lures Taylor to England by promising to sell his ancestral home in Kent, Burnham Abbey, to one of her clients, a boarding school for American girls. Nicholas has dated actresses and models since the death of his wife, ten years earlier, and has no interest in falling in love again. But he is immediately and unexpectedly overwhelmed with feelings for Taylor at their first meeting.
Taylor, unaware that Diana's tape is in her long-time friend and client's estate and nursing her hurt over her broken engagement to a fellow attorney in her firm, brands Nicholas supremely spoiled and selfish. She is in a hurry to finish the sale of the Abbey and return to New York. But while working in the Abbey's library, Taylor uncovers the diary of Thomas Carey, a knight at the court of Henry VIII and the first Duke of Burnham.
As she reads Thomas' agonizing struggle to save the love of his life and the mother of his child from being forced to become Henry's mistress, she begins to see Nicholas in a new light as he battles to save his sixteen-year-old ward Lucy, who is desperately unhappy and addicted to cocaine. But just as Taylor's feelings for Nicholas become clear and at the moment she realizes she is in possession of Diana's voice from the grave, she learns that Nicholas may be Lucy's father and responsible for his wife's death at the Abbey at the time of Lucy's birth. When Nicholas is arrested for Lucy's murder and taken to Wandsworth Prison, Taylor sets out to learn the truth about Nicholas, his late wife, and the death of the Princess of Wales.
Dance for A Dead Princess is a the story of two great loves that created and preserved a family that has lasted for five hundred years.
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Genre – Contemporary Romance,Mystery
Rating – G
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