KAREN MILLIE-JAMES THRILLS WITH NEW RELEASE ‘WHERE IN THE DARK’

Thriller writer Karen Millie-James is back with her latest Cydney Granger release. WHERE IN THE DARK is the second in the series. This time, protagonist Cydney goes after Nazi plunder and the shadowy figures that conspire to conceal and profit from it.

 

1.

Congratulations on your latest release WHERE IN THE DARK. Can you tease us with an elevator pitch?

 

The book starts with two holocaust survivors each receiving in the post a bearer bond for $1m each, completely out of the blue.  They have no idea why or from where but it strikes fear in their hearts because they have been keeping a secret since 1945.  On the other side of the Atlantic, in West Virginia, an escaped Nazi officer called Albert Whiteman, formerly Adolf Weissmuller, heads the family bank into which he married. His son is Governor and about to run in the primaries for president.  However, the bank is founded on gold looted by Weissmuller from the Jewish people of Europe.  Now he starts to feel remorse, or is he just afraid of dying and what awaits him? Cydney Granger is called upon to investigate and what she discovers is a web of deceit and lies which could ultimately bring down the entire banking system.

 

2.

Nazi loot features prominently in the news—a buried train, heated litigation—and more contentiously, the moral tension between treasure hunters versus familial claimants seeking social justice. What personally drew you to this issue and what side do your characters favor?

 

My father came out of Germany with the kindertransport in 1939.  From the end of the war until 1962 he spent his time seeking recompense for what his family had lost and finally he received the paltry sum of £1300 approximately.  For the last twenty years my family and I have been engaged with the courts of Frankfurt and Munich to discover what happened to all my grandparents’ assets and again, seek suitable recompense.  This has also involved the courts in New York and it will probably never happen because the courts have done everything in their power to delay matters and not make a judgment.

 

My two holocaust survivors seek no recompense for what they lost. They have no interest because they came to England to make a new life and want no involvement with Germany, nor do they wish to talk about what went on; it is enough that they went through the trauma and survived.  However, they are forced to face their demons, and specifically Weissmuller.

 

Yes, the question of discovering Nazi loot is in the news but these treasure hunters have no desire to recompense the people who lost everything, nor do they desire to repatriate the art, gold, diamonds and other treasures.  Their goal is to find the monies and become rich.  Again, the same desires as the Nazis which was to take what they believed was rightfully theirs from the Jewish people who were amongst the richest in the country and held the highest positions – doctors, bankers, lawyers, professors, musicians.  If they were doing this for altruistic reasons, I would applaud them, but this is blood money and should be left alone.

 

3.

DARK’s protagonist Cydney Granger is a corporate forensic investigator. Does her expertise in any way herald from your work background, or was she born from tough, dedicated research?

 

I have an international corporate consultancy which specialises in advising companies and individuals around the world how to run their businesses, and I sit on the boards of many companies in an advisory capacity.  Cydney is a fictitious character but some of the aspects of her work and mine run parallel, which is why I find her and the work she does easy to write about.  The research aspect did not encompass her, but purely the world around her and specifically, in Where In The Dark, focused around the banking world and how the gold moved from Germany and other occupied countries via Switzerland and possibly to many countries’ federal reserves.

 

4.

Cydney’s investigation is furthered with help from “beyond the grave.” Is there a paranormal element to DARK, or is Cydney’s ‘help’ the result of hard-nosed evidence gathering?

 

There is a paranormal aspect to Cydney’s investigations because she has a special gift; she can talk to people who have passed into the spirit world.  This assists her in her investigations and how amazing would that be to understand and know what the person sitting opposite you in a meeting is thinking, even to the point of wanting to commit murder.  This gift has helped her specifically in her quest for the truth in relation to the two survivors because she is drawn back into their time as children, going in the trains to Lodz Ghetto, then in the concentration camps and finally to their journey to England.  This makes her life much easier. However, she is forced to relive what they went through and this is one of the hardest things she has ever had to face.  Obviously, some of her research is purely down to fact-finding and looking through records also, something we all have to do.

 

5.

The impacts of Nazi Germany continue to be felt. How does DARK deal with history’s long shadow, and what can readers take away with them after the book is closed?

 

I think ultimately Where In The Dark is a positive story of survival against the toughest odds and bears truth to the adage that it is amazing what a human-being can suffer at the hands of another and still come out the other side with strength.  I wanted to ensure that this was the message and I did that by using Adolf Weissmuller, exploring his clearly psychopathic mind and wanting him to feel remorse for his crimes against humanity.  In some ways I gave him a voice, but this was purely to demonstrate his evil and lack of empathy against the people he had murdered.  My conclusions were that he was never going to feel sorry, but ultimately he was scared of dying and the fate that awaited him.

 

Whilst there are survivors of the atrocities of the Holocaust still alive, the entire impact of what happened in Germany during the war, will continue to be kept alive, as it should be, to ensure that such things never happen again.  Unfortunately, countries do not learn from their mistakes and atrocities are happening all over the world against innocent people.

 

A MYSTERY OUT OF THE PAST…

WITD_Visuals 8.inddTwo envelopes. Two holocaust survivors. Two anonymous bearer bonds each worth one million pounds. Corporate forensic investigator, Cydney Granger, with help from beyond the grave, enters a world previously unknown to her to unravel the truth behind a web of secrets, lies, corruption, blackmail and hidden Nazi loot as new horrors of the Third Reich come to light.

Still struggling to come to terms with the apparent death of her husband, Captain Steve Granger, five years’ earlier Cydney puts her personal feelings to one side and is determined to bring to justice

an escaped Nazi criminal, Adolf Weissmuller, living under the assumed name of Albert Whiteman, whose son is about to run for the US presidency. Can Albert ever make amends for his crimes against

humanity, or are some actions beyond forgiveness …?

Will Cydney, along with her trusted and tough protector, former sergeant, Sean O’Connell, also uncover the truth surrounding her husband?

The consequences of Cydney’s investigations, stretching back before WWII, are far reaching with the potential to bring down a banking dynasty as she faces insurmountable odds from which there is only one final solution.

The dramatic follow-up to The Shadows Behind Her Smile, a compelling debut which takes the reader from the heart of Cydney’s corporate world to the ruins of war-torn Damascus and where men will stop at nothing to achieve their goals.

 

EXCERPT

 

PROLOGUE

2005

 

It was the shock. As he fell, the pain ripped across his heart and he felt the familiar vice-like tightening of his chest as the muscles attempted to respond to the restricted blood flow, his arteries already hardened and narrowed. An overwhelming sense of anxiety enveloped him.  Harold reached into his inside jacket pocket and grabbed the pump spray he kept with him at all times containing the medicine he now urgently needed to relieve his symptoms. He opened his mouth and pressed the bottom of the pump firmly and placed a couple of squirts under his tongue; he had always hated the taste. The relief was immediate and as the pain eased he felt the onset of the pounding headache the spray always gave him.  Slowly, he managed to pull himself up into a sitting position so he could examine the cause of his attack.

The knowledge that in his hands he held a bearer bond certificate for one million dollars made Harold’s hand tremble to such an extent that he dropped the bond and the envelope in which it had arrived and saw it flutter and disappear under one of the Queen Anne chairs in his living room. It was with some considerable effort that he stretched out his arm and rescued the document with the tip of his middle finger, despite the arthritis that also beleaguered him.  He straightened up and mopped his brow with the back of his hand to remove the sweat that had accumulated, unsure if it was the shock that had brought it on, or the strain at his age that it had taken to retrieve it.

Still sitting on the floor, nervous to stand in case the pain returned, he examined the document in more detail, turned it over to check both sides and wiped away the film of dust from its fall. It was printed on thick cream quarto size parchment with a picture of Abraham Lincoln on the front in dark grey, and a red inscribed serial number to the right-hand side. The words ‘Bearer Bond to the Value of One Million Dollars’ were centred in large black letters. An utter sense of dread filled his entire being. It made no sense, unless …

Eventually, Harold got to his feet and waited for his world to stop spiralling down in front of him. He felt nothing but doom. The eyes of his parents and sisters framed within the sepia photo on his desk, taken before everything had overturned their lives, stared back at him, almost willing him to remember.  As if he were capable of ever forgetting.

His fingers shook as he ran them along the gold trim edges of the bond and stroked the red seal and ribbon at the bottom.  Further review of the envelope, including peering inside it in case there was a letter, revealed nothing further to assist him, not even after he had turned it upside down and shaken it to double check.  It bore an airmail sticker and US postage stamp, and his name and address were typed on it, however, there were no clues as to who had sent it or why it had been sent to him.  It certainly appeared genuine but the question that came to mind was whether someone was playing a joke on him.  The bond was drawn on an American bank, the name of which meant nothing.

Not only did he feel completely bewildered, but absolutely frightened. He really needed to sit again before he passed out.  He had no idea what to do so he called the person he always turned to when he had a problem. The phone was answered immediately.

“Alfie, it’s me. Harold. I have to see you.”

“I have to see you, too.”

“What?”

“You got the same envelope.”  It wasn’t a question, simply a statement, spoken in the same quiet tone that Harold was accustomed to hearing.

“That’s impossible.  How could you have got a million dollars, too?  Where did it come from?”

“You’d better come over to me.  Is the notebook in a safe place?”

“Of course it is. It’s not something I would ever lose, though heaven knows I’ve thought about destroying it so many times.”

“It’s all we have, Harold.  It’s our security.”

“Do you think it could be …?” He paused for a moment, gathering his thoughts. “Has he found us, despite all we’ve done?”

“I don’t know.  I’ve phoned Rupert.  We need his advice now.”

“We never told him, you know that.  We’ve held this secret for so long.  Can we trust him?”

“What choice do we have, my friend?”

 

GET IT HERE

 

CONTACT INFO

_92A7765 Retouched_optPR – Karen is represented by Midas PR in London

For further information on Karen Millie-James, The Shadows Behind Her Smile, Where In The Dark, or King of the Road Publishing, please contact info@kingoftheroadpublishing.co.uk or call 020 8236 8507

 

Karen Mille-James Website: www.karenmilliejames.com Twitter: @KMillieJames Facebook: www.facebook.com/karenmilliejames 

 

Thank you so much for joining us today, Karen. Best of luck with the release! — A.B.

 

FOLLOW THE TOUR

 

 

 

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FROM COMEDY TO MURDER, VERSATILE AUTHOR JACK B. STRANDBURG KEEPS ‘EM ROLLING

He began his writing career on a lark, penning a humorous tale of cowpokes with a taste for larceny. Little did he know that that work would be published years later with more to follow. Multi-genre author Jack B. Strandburg can celebrate: the muse is strong with more to come.

 

1.

Welcome to the blog, Jack. Tell me, how did you go from a pool sharking Western comedy a la Mel Brooks to a serial killer thriller?

 

I wrote the Western comedy in the mid 1980’s just for fun, with no thought or dream of ever publishing the work. Even when I wanted to become an author, I never dreamed this work was good enough to make the grade. It just happened to kick off my publishing career (if you can call it a career). I’ve always loved the mystery, suspense, and thriller genre, however, so once I decided to pursue my dream, I knew that genre would be the one of choice.

 

2.

Your current WIPs focus on investigations: one from the POV of an armed forces veteran; the other from someone inside the police force. How does this style of detective work compare? Does the veteran have more freedom than the cop, as in the case of a P.I.?

 

I don’t really focus too much on the “definition” of a P.I. vs. a cop vs. another protagonist, but you’re right in assuming the veteran will have more freedom. I’m more concerned with my protagonist making sure the antagonist gets the justice he or she deserves, even if the cop, P.I., or other have to bend the law a little.

 

3.

THE MONOGRAM KILLER has ‘history in the mystery.’ Can you give us a teaser?

 

Catherine chewed her lip before answering. “I didn’t recognize the name either, so I did some research. Herman Mudgett is the real name of Dr. Henry Holmes, allegedly the first documented serial killer in America. In the 1880s, he operated a hotel in Chicago. They called it The Murder Castle. It was a torture chamber. He confessed to twenty-seven murders but evidence suggested there were actually two-hundred or more. Some believed he was Jack the Ripper but that was never proven.”

 

4.

And of course, I’d love a look at HUSTLE HENRY. I keep thinking of A MILLION WAYS TO DIE IN THE WEST.

 

Twelve days later, Henry sat in a saloon in Flintrock, Texas sipping whiskey from a shot glass riddled with fingerprints. The barkeep claimed his towels were too soiled from wiping up beer and tobacco spit from the floor and counter to keep the glasses clean. Whatever. The saloon had seen better days. The legs on most of the chairs and tables were either cracked or broken, the walls bare, the piano hideously out of tune, and the stairs so rickety, the survival rate for getting to the upper floor was less than twenty percent. The odor of urine and vomit mixed with liquor hung in the air like a horse’s fart in high humidity. Flintrock, located two-hundred miles south of the Oklahoma-Texas border, would never rank high as an Old West tourist attraction.

 

5.

The Sahara sands paid you a recent visit. What is that like and have you dug out?

 

A few years ago I was diagnosed with allergies to dust mites and mold. Allergy shots have helped, but the dust dropped by the sandstorm flared my allergy symptoms. Unfortunately, I don’t get a runny nose, itchy eyes, or scratchy throat, my symptoms are lethargy followed by fatigue. At first I didn’t know the reason why my allergies flared up until I read about the sandstorm. People all over Southeastern Texas (apparently the storm’s destination) are flocking to doctors, many asking why they are getting symptoms they never experienced before. Those suffering with asthma and respiratory ailments are warned to stay indoors as much as possible. I guess I should consider myself somewhat fortunate I’m not more sick. The situation is improving, and I don’t have the symptoms as often, but still must fight through occasional suffering.

 

Ed. – You have my sympathies, sir. I’m currently surrounded by Ragweed!

 

6.

Any last words?

 

Anyone with creative talent and who wants to be a writer / author, keep on the lookout for sources of inspiration. They could come from anywhere. The idea for The Monogram Killer came when I was on the treadmill listening to “Hollywood Nights” by Bob Seger. The first two lines go, “She stood there bright as the sun on that California coast, He was a Midwestern boy on his own.” I had two characters, one wanting to meet the other, somehow it became a serial killer story with a paranormal twist. Go figure.

 

Ed. – I couldn’t agree more.

 

TITLES BY JACK B. STRANDBURG

Hustle Henry and the Cue-Ball Kid

Published by Solstice Publishing:

hustle_henry_and_the_cue-ball_kid_coverClarence Flannery was luckier than most men his age to discover his life’s ambition, particularly in the unpredictable years just following the Civil War. Born with an unmatched skill to play pool, he left his home in Kansas when he turned twenty-six and traveled throughout the Southwestern United States to make his mark as a legendary pool hustler, with every intention of amassing a fortune in the process.
Clarence needed help for both support and protection, and recruited James Skinner as his partner, along with nine other highly-skilled pool players to assist him in his quest.
Wanting to be included in the same sentence as Attila the Hun and Alexander the Great, Clarence changed his name to Hustle Henry, Skinner became the Cue-Ball Kid, and the eleven men would go down in history as The Hole-in-the-Table-Bunch, known far and wide for hustling wannabe pool sharks out of their life savings.
All goes to plan and life has a rosy and profitable outlook, but Henry and his men want more than what pool halls and saloons offer, so they decide to challenge the more affluent clientele on a riverboat.
Initially, the venture proves profitable, but the millionaire tycoon and owner of the fleet of riverboats, takes exception, and intends to bring down the Bunch and thrust Henry and The Kid into a life of destitution.
Taking along the Kid’s girlfriend, Penelope Henderson, the Kid and Henry flee to South America – where there will be a final showdown…
Hustle Henry and the Cue-Ball Kid is a fiction work of Western humor with an interesting and amusing cast of characters.

 

 

Reviews

 

“I have to give accolades to the author for being unique — I never would have thought of writing a historical western about a pool hustler, of all things! In my opinion the book is one that you can’t take too seriously — it’s meant to be fun and light hearted and the writer accomplishes just that. I think guys would get a kick out of this one.”

“Loved the character and the format! Very happy with the writing, an easy and very fun read! Hoping this author will work on another!”

“Very Easy reading. The story line kept me wanting to know what was next in the story. I highly recommend reading this book.”

 

 

The Monogram Killer

Published by Solstice Publishing

the_monogram_killer_coverWhen Julia Ballard meets Kelly Nichols, she believed he was the man of her dreams. Julia’s best friend has doubts, and her investigation into Nichols’s life encourages her suspicions. Despite Jessica’s warnings, Julia is convinced he is sincere and cares for her. Nichols is hiding secrets from a legacy he cannot escape, and Julia is the key to a sinister plan. When two homicide detectives combine forces to search for a serial killer, it becomes a race to see who accomplishes their goal first.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reviews

 

“Excellent story, well told. Jack leads you on an emotional roller coaster ride by the heroine and keeps you on the edge of your seat. Quick read and before you knew it, the mystery was solved. Great character development, wonderful and professionally descriptive prose and several twists and turns kept me tuned in. Need more like this!!”

“Surprise ending. Like the history behind the mystery.”

“A romance – a mystery – a surprise. Before I knew it I was at the end. A good read for all.”

 

 

Works in Progress

 

A Matter of Honor (short story) – Luke Coleman returns from the armed forces and learns the truth about the deaths of his father and brother, both police officers.

 

A Head in the Game (novel) – Chicago Homicide Inspector Aaron Randall faces his toughest case while dealing with doubts about his career and the potential of a romantic relationship. Jared Prescott, a Heisman Trophy winner and Vice President of a large and respected pharmaceutical company, is found murdered at a seedy motel. The investigation uncovers more suspects than normal, with motives ranging from jealousy to revenge to extortion. When the body of his close friend and number one informant is found stabbed to death in a deserted alley, and a woman claiming to be present at the time of Prescott’s murder is gunned down in front of him, and a woman who worked for the same company is found murdered in her home, Randall knows he is dealing with a conspiracy. Randall is hamstrung during the investigation by pressure from the commissioner down the chain of command because the president of the pharmaceutical company, anxious for resolution to Jared Prescott’s murder, is a close friend with a Senator whose sights are set on the Oval Office.

 

 

About the Author

 

jack_website_picJack Strandburg was born and raised in Cleveland Ohio.  He is a degreed professional with a background in Accounting and Information Technology and recently retired after more than 33 years working for a Fortune 500 company.  He has been writing since his teenage years.

He self-published an inspirational titled An Appointment With God: One Ordinary Man’s an_appointment_with_god_coverJourney to Faith Through Prayer, by Trafford Publishing.

His first published novel by Solstice Publishing is Hustle Henry and the Cue-Ball Kid, a parody of the movie, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

His third work, a novella titled The Monogram Killer, published by Solstice Publishing, was released in May, 2016.

He is currently working on a short story titled A Matter of Honor, revising his first mystery novel, A Head in the Game, writing journals for an upcoming inspirational non-fiction book; and completed 70% of a first draft for a second mystery novel titled War Zone.

He is an editor and proofreader for Solstice Publishing.

Jack currently lives with his wife and two grown children, in Sugar Land, Texas. He has three grandchildren.

 

 

Links

 

An Appointment With God

 

Hustle Henry and the Cue-Ball Kid

 

The Monogram Killer

 

 

Thank you for joining us, Jack. We look forward to your WIP’s. Write on!

 

TOMORROW: Author and poet A.F. Stewart shares HORROR HAIKU and the art of a line.

JOHN L. DEBOER EXPLORES TERROR IN THE BACKYARD

Seven-time thriller writer John De Boer has a new book coming out later this year. WHEN THE REAPER COMES places a coordinated multi-threat right in the backyard of the protagonist, an Ex-Navy SEAL on protection detail for a rock star with a fatwa. John has written in a number of genres. REAPER is his first foray into international terrorism.

 

1.

Welcome back to the blog, John. WHEN THE REAPER COMES is your seventh in a list of thrillers, this time with analogous threats in the protagonist’s backyard. How does terror at home differ from terror abroad?

 

Thank you for having me back, A.B. I appreciate the opportunity to discuss my latest book, When the Reaper Comes, and the issues it deals with.

Homeland terror vs. terror abroad. Naturally, the further away such incidents occur, the more they’re removed from the threat radar. I don’t know the Canadian mindset, but I think Americans are pretty much inured to the multitude of terrorist attacks that have been going on in the Middle East and Asia for generations.

But attacks in Europe is another story. Europe, for most Americans, is the land of our ancestors. When Europeans become targeted by ISIS and its ilk, the question of America being next inevitably rises – especially when isolated instances of terrorism related to Islamic extremism have occurred here over recent years. Granted, these attacks have been committed by so-called lone wolves, but we’re waiting for the other shoe to drop, in my view, wherein ISIS, and not just its ideological adherents, decides to take the war against infidels directly to America (and/or Canada!). After all, the precedent was established on September 11, 2001.

That is the premise of my book.

 

Book Description

when-the-reaper-comes-cover-artAs the NSA gets a strong lead on one of the most prominent faces of ISIS, the Islamic State embarks on a bold course of action – an attack on American soil.

Former Navy SEAL Adam Taylor, on a break between assignments for a global paramilitary security firm, is visiting his folks in his home town when he gets a new mission – provide security for a rock star who is in town for a St. Patrick’s Day concert. Unknown to Adam, a team of American ISIS soldiers will soon arrive with a plan to wreak havoc on the Jersey Shore, and Adam will get caught up in a deadly game of wits between the terrorist menace and those tasked to protect the citizens of the homeland.

 

2.

Navy SEAL Adam Taylor must coordinate security for a rock star. What was it like putting these two in a room?

 

The first meeting between my protagonist, Adam Taylor, and my fictional rock star, Brian Callahan, was revealing, and it was one on my favorite scenes in the book.

Callahan, like Bruce Springsteen, is noted for songs with patriotic themes. He had made some comments in Rolling Stone that essentially blamed Islam itself for creating ISIS. In addition, his latest album cover tried to do a Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper thing, but with various well-known enemies of the U.S., past and present, depicted on it. Also included was an image of Muhammad, which according to Muslim edicts is punishable by death. An imam put out a fatwa on Callahan, and his record company was worried an assassination attempt would occur during a St. Patrick’s Day concert he was going to put on in Asbury Park, N.J. So they hired the paramilitary security firm Adam works for to protect their cash cow. Since Adam happened to be in the area visiting his folks between assignments, he got the job.

Besides the inherent conflict between Adam and Callahan’s bodyguards, the issue of Callahan’s supposed anti-Muslim beliefs arose during the meeting. Callahan’s explanation presents a capsule of the research I did for the subject. Most notable of my sources was an article last year in The Atlantic: “What ISIS Really Wants – and How to Stop It.” I recommend that eye-opening article to anyone who hasn’t read it.

(This issue between Muslims and non-Muslim Americans is also represented by two Muslim women characters in my story, each with differing viewpoints on what it means to be Muslim in America.)

 

3.

The film LONDON HAS FALLEN was roundly criticized for playing up to people’s worst fears. What are the challenges facing thriller writers in 2016?

 

Despite the real terror extant around the world in 2016, fictionalizing it presents no problems for the thriller writer! Though I have to admit, I was a little concerned while I was writing the novel that real events were mirroring my invented ones, possibly making me look like a copycat!

There are numerous subgenres of the thriller genre – legal, medical, political, psychological, etc. – other than plots involving terrorism, providing the thriller writer with abundant themes. And there remains plenty of fodder for new terrorism thrillers. Just ask Nelson DeMille, whose protagonist, John Corey, combats terrorists in novel after novel.

When the Reaper Comes is my first foray into this subgenre. I’ve written medical, crime, psychological, and personal-revenge thrillers. Good guys vs. bad guys with potential lethal consequences is the heart of any thriller, and I see no dearth of such plots in the future.

 

4.

Give a sketch of the bad guy. Can you share an excerpt?

 

I have more than one bad guy in my book, but the main protagonist, Yusuf Khouri, is a Muslim man born to Muslim immigrants in New Jersey. He becomes radicalized, as the expression goes, in his youth, fueled by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and eventually becomes an ISIS fighter in Syria. An ISIS sheikh decides to take the fight to America by sending a team of U.S.-born-and-raised soldiers to attack the Callahan concert as their first mission. This team is led by Khouri. As Americans, they can blend in with the locals. I’ve chosen a scene for the excerpt that will show a little of that situation.

 

Excerpt from WHEN THE REAPER COMES

Angela Martin’s apartment

Friday morning

 

“I’m Joseph,” Yusuf Khouri said when Angela opened the door.

“Come in, Joseph.”

As Angela closed the door behind him, Khouri quickly scanned the living room, on alert. When he didn’t see federal agents suddenly storm into the room, he relaxed. He dropped his duffel bag on the floor, the jostling of its contents making a sound of metal on metal.

“Is Abdel here?” he asked.

“Yes. He’s in the kitchen.”

“Muhammad?”

“He called after you did last night. He’ll be here this afternoon.”

“Good.”

“I’ve made coffee. Would you like some?”

“Yes, thank you.” Khouri followed her into the kitchen where Abdel Hadad sat at the table reading a newspaper. He looked up.

“Yusuf?”

“That’s me.”

Hadad stood and offered his hand. “I’m Abdel.”

The two men shook hands. “Allah Akbar,” Khouri said, and this was answered in kind by Hadad.

“You don’t know each other?” Angela asked.

Khouri smiled. “I don’t know you, either. The sheikh brought us together. Better to have no connections from the past.”

“That makes sense.” Angela went to the coffeemaker, poured a cup, and handed it to Khouri. “Well, you can get acquainted now. I have to go to work. I’ll be back after five. There’s food in the fridge and in the pantry. See you later,” she said and left.

Khouri sat at the table across from Hadad. “Anything exciting in the news?”

Hadad laughed. “Republican senators are saying Obama is weak on combating the ISIS threat. They want boots on the ground.”

“Yes, that euphemism has become quite popular. Makes it sound less scary. As if these inanimate boots aren’t being worn by flesh-and-blood soldiers who could be shot out of them.”

“Do you think they will commit to ground troops?”

“They’re stupid enough to do that. And it would mean our campaign is succeeding, right? Get those soldiers into another war they can’t win in the Middle East. One can never underestimate the macho jingoism of Americans. And while their troops are dying over there, we’ll cause havoc over here. The two-pronged strategy will get them to fold.”

“Yeah, that’s another weakness of theirs. Okay to wave the flag and send troops into battle until the bodies start to pile up. ‘Gee, we didn’t think it would be like this. Oh, dear. This has to stop.’”

“Exactly.” Khouri sipped from his cup. “So where are you from?”

“Milwaukee. I was in Syria for six months before the sheikh sent me here. I flew into New York yesterday. And you?”

“I grew up in Long Branch, just a few miles from here. I came from Iraq through Canada.” Khouri chuckled. “Tell me, Abdel, do I look Italian?”

Hadad perused the features of the other man for a moment. “I don’t know. Maybe a little. Why?”

“That’s who I was when I crossed the border. Tony D’Agostino.” He smiled. “Fooled the Customs guy.”

“Are you back to Yusuf now?”

Khouri shook his head. “Sergio Montez, resident of Newark, at your service.”

Hadad frowned.

“What’s the matter?”

“Why all the aliases? I’m using my own passport and driver’s license.”

“But no one, Allah willing, is looking for you, my friend. I, on the other hand, have attracted the attention of the NSA.”

Hadad looked alarmed. “Really?”

“I must assume so. I made speeches for the cause in my youth. And there’s something else.”

Hadad didn’t respond, but stared intently at Khouri.

“I took over from Jihadi John when he was injured.”

Hadad’s jaw dropped. “I heard rumors he’d been hit in a drone attack when I was in Syria. So you’re the American they were talking about?”

Khouri nodded.

“I’m in the presence of a freakin’ celebrity!”

Khouri deflected the compliment by changing the subject. “Do you know anything about Muhammad Basara, the missing member of our group?”

“No, only that he’s an American, too. He was supposed to come yesterday, but he got detained at Orly because – get this – he had the same name as a suspected terrorist!” Hadad laughed.

Khouri narrowed his eyes at the other man. “Soldier for Allah, you mean.”

Hadad’s smile disappeared. “Of course. From the point of view of the French is what I was referring to.”

“Yes, the French.” Khouri shook his head and took another sip of coffee. He looked down at the table for a moment before his head came up. “Anyway, do we have the bicycle?”

“Yup. Complete with a basket that will accommodate the IED.”

“Show me what you’ve made and how it works.”

 

5.

Lew Wallace’s BEN-HUR, written in 1880, is getting a cinematic re-tell, this time with a stress on the book’s original themes, including forgiveness. What themes do you focus on in your work? Are they enduring?

 

I have read the reviews of the Ben-Hur movie remake but have not seen the film. Frankly, I can’t believe it can top the original, 1959 version! But I understand that the new one adheres to the book by Lew Wallace more faithfully, in that forgiveness, rather than revenge, plays a more important role. Christ-like forgiveness for what Judah Ben-Hur and his family suffered is certainly admirable, but is, frankly, a difficult standard for most of us – including me! – to embrace. For example, I don’t think I could do what those families of the slain churchgoers in Charleston, S.C. did – forgive the killer of their loved ones.

In my books, I focus on right vs. wrong. As I said, the good guys against the bad guys. The good guys aren’t always so good, and the bad guys can have admirable qualities, but justice for wrongdoing must be served in my stories. Ambiguity is okay for characters, but not for my plot climaxes!  In one of my books, the protagonist, while not actually forgiving the antagonist for almost doing him in, at least lets her go without retribution. If I was Wallace’s Ben-Hur, I might have left it at that. But I’m not, and I didn’t.

 

6.

Is Adam Taylor a hero?

 

Adam Taylor is a hero in the classic sense. I didn’t burden him with flaws (or ambiguity!), unlike some of my other protagonists. He had been a Navy SEAL involved in the raid that got Osama bin Laden, and when he became disillusioned because of publicity hunting by two of his comrades, he left the service. Then he traveled around the world protecting diplomats and other celebrities from harm. In my story he wins the battle of wits with Khouri and defeats him. So he is a true-blue American hero. As far as protagonist character types go, I think he comes close to the Harry Bosch character in Michael Connelly’s novels.

 

7.

When does the book come out?

 

I’ve finished the first round of editing, and there weren’t many issues to deal with, so I expect the book will be coming out before next year.

 

8.

Any last words?

 

I hope you don’t mean that in the literal sense, because I’m not ready for that yet! But if I could one day be included in a book of Famous Last Words, that would be cool.

Thanks again for letting me opine.

 

Ed – Opine as much as you like! You’re a fantastic interview!

 

About the Author

 

johns-author-photoAfter graduating from the University of Vermont College of Medicine, John L. DeBoer, M.D., F.A.C.S. completed surgical training in the U.S. Army and then spent three years in the Medical Corps as a general surgeon. Thirty years of private practice later, he retired to begin a new career as a writer. A member of International Thriller Writers, Dr. DeBoer is the author of seven published novels. For the last twenty-eight years, he has called North Carolina home.

 

Links

 

TOMORROW: Mary Ann Cortez talks SISTER SLEUTHS,  Autism Spectrum and characters finding their matching groove.

MEET DEBUT AUTHOR KAREN MILLIE-JAMES

 

KAREN MILLIE-JAMES grew up in north-west London and now lives in the Buckinghamshire countryside with her husband, daughter and their three dogs.  Karen founded her international business consultancy practice in 1993 and is widely recognised as an expert in the corporate field, sitting on many boards of directors around the globe in an advisory capacity.

THE SHADOWS BEHIND HER SMILE is Karen’s first novel.

The sequel, Where in the Dark, which continues the story of Cydney Granger,

will be available worldwide later in 2016.

Find out more at www. karenmilliejames.com

 

Blurb

41zejsiXpiL._SX321_BO1,204,203,200_As soon as corporate forensic specialist, Cydney Granger, hears the crunch of tyres on her driveway, she knows they’ve come to report her husband is dead. After all, Captain Steve Granger had barely left for Afghanistan when she’d had the first of those terrible premonitions.

Although Cydney is a psychic medium, she’s disturbed by her inability to connect with Steve. But when she’s contacted by recently deceased Ray Gordon, he agrees to help her, on one condition – can she put a stop to his brother’s greed and corruption and ensure Ray’s family get the inheritance they deserve?

Sean O’Connell, Steve’s former sergeant, had promised he would always protect Cydney and the children in the event of Steve’s death. However, during Cydney’s investigations into the scrupulous activities of two high-powered businessmen, and when George Edwards appears on the scene intent on pursuing her, Sean finds himself out of his depth.

From the heart of Cydney’s corporate world in London to the ruins of war-torn Damascus, men will stop at nothing to achieve their goals. Faced with secrets, fraud, attempted murder, and blackmail, can Cydney come out of this unscathed? And, after four years, is she ready to let Steve go?

A brilliant plot that combines the heat of the business world with the secrecy of the Special Forces.

In a genre of its own encompassing crime and mystery, this unique thriller is impossible to put down.

 

 

 

A LITTLE Q & A

 

IMG_1833If this were a Twitter pitch party, you would squeeze your tag line into a 140 characters. Would you like to try?

Transported from the boardroom to war-torn Damascus, the suspense erupts with a background of romance and a hint of the paranormal

 

Who are your main characters?

Cydney Granger – a strong, self-assured businesswoman with a hidden side.

Sean O’Connell – ex Special Forces who always gets to the truth

George Edwards – lawyer with a background he never wants to reveal

Rupert Van der Hausen – South African industrialist, whose fortune continues growing despite the circumstances

Steve Granger – Captain in the Special Forces.  A born leader of men. Killed on a secret mission – but his body was never found.

Craig Benton and Robert Crossley – accumulated their wealth through insider dealing and corruption

Ray Gordon  – in spirit, desperate to stop his brother, Charles, from defrauding his wife.

 

Tell me about the title. Are there any hidden subtexts we should know about?

Cydney has everything to the outside world but her feelings are kept firmly under wraps and nobody is allowed in especially as a result of her father dying in her childhood, and losing her husband, Steve.  Can she release those shadows and learn to love again with George.

 

How many books do you have planned?

The sequel, Where in The Dark, will be released towards the end of 2016.  There will possibly be a third book in the series.  I doubt I can let Cydney go now.

 

Tell me about your home base. Country or city?

I now live in the Buckinghamshire countryside in a cottage built in the 1890’s which has been extended and modernised.  We love the outdoor life with our three dogs.

 

Are you a fan of self-promotion? What is your weapon of choice? (I love Twitter)

I love the interaction and groups on Facebook.  I am still learning about Twitter but the social media scene helps you meet so many new people.

 

If eyes are the windows to the soul, the telly is the window to writing prompts. What are you watching on the telly these days?

I love period dramas and have just finished watching War and Peace.

 

Share your method with us.

I have no actual method.  I sit down and the story flows.  After a few chapters I read through, maybe change things around, then carry on writing.  I think through the characterisation and how the various people would react to circumstances, normally in the early hours of the morning when I can’t sleep, or when I’m driving.  Sometimes I would think of an amazing sentence or description and have to write it down to use when the occasion arises.

 

All writing and no play makes the writer suffer. What do you do in your spare time (other than work the day job)?

Believe it or not, I read.  I always have done from an early age, especially the classics.  I go to the theatre and love musicals.  I dance, particularly Ceroc and jive, and play tennis or table tennis.

 

What’s your guilty pleasure?

Sherbet strawberries!

 

What are you doing right now this minute?

Watching Would I Lie to You on TV.  So funny and makes me laugh out loud.

 

What’s next?

Continue my writing.  Possible radio and TV interviews promoting my background in business, which are in the pipeline.

 

 

Excerpt

As Ray left her, albeit reluctantly, his body melting out of the taxi, Cydney’s skin returned to normal. She was now alone and the thoughts of the man faded to be replaced by the nose-to-tail traffic as the taxi driver turned south off the Marylebone Road and into Park Crescent, a beautiful area of London with elegant stuccoed terraced houses forming a semi-circle, which linked to Regents Park opposite. As they moved between the two halves of the crescent, Cydney looked into the private garden and saw between the railings the seven feet high statue of Queen Victoria’s father, Prince Edward, wearing his field marshall uniform. Driving through brought pictures to her mind of old English gentry and41zejsiXpiL._SX321_BO1,204,203,200_ peers of the realm visiting in their private carriages.

Turning her attention to the day ahead, Cydney took the opportunity to read through her papers once again. It was important nothing should go wrong and that the client maintained his faith in her. However, thoughts of Ray wouldn’t leave her. She took out her mobile and dialled her assistant.

“Granger Associates – Jennifer Vere-Nicholson speaking.”

Cydney never tired of hearing the sound of the phone answered so professionally by the staff of her own company. Jenny was her right-hand woman and had started work the day she and Steve had established the company. She had built up her own client base and always explained that she was learning from the master. Her father had been knighted several years ago for his contribution to industry and Cydney liked the fact she had such a good pedigree. Jenny was in her mid-twenties and had joined the company straight from university where she’d read law and criminology, deciding she didn’t want to go into law itself but work in commerce. Cydney had taught her the business world she’d come to know and love and now she completely relied on her; she was worth her weight in gold. With no time for small talk she got straight to the point.

“I’m on the way to the meeting but I want you to do a complete check on a company for me called Rayshel Plastics. Get Richard to help you. I want everything by the time I come into the office tomorrow morning.”

“Not much notice then…”

“This is important – full report, records, accounts, criminal stuff.”

Cydney rang off. She knew they could trust Richard. Even though retired from CID he still had an ‘in’ to the powers that be. Now she could sit back and relax a bit whilst they did their work.

 

THE SHADOWS BEHIND HER SMILE is Karen’s first novel. Where in the Dark, which continues the story of Cydney Granger, will be available worldwide later in 2016.

Links – Multi-Media:

Find out more about Karen at:

Website: www.karenmilliejames.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/KMillieJames

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Karen-Millie-James-1672621729620381/

Linkedin: https://uk.linkedin.com/in/karen-millie-james-098a911

 

Buy Links:

UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Shadows-Behind-Her-Smile-ebook/dp/B01BQ9OY3C

USA: http://www.amazon.com/Shadows-Behind-Her-Smile-ebook/dp/B01BQ9OY3C

www.kingoftheroadpublishing.com

 

PRESENTING NATIONAL TREASURE AUTHOR SUSAN SOLOMON

Fall leaves and magic in the air. This is the season of Susan Solomon. Author, jurist, practitioner of the possible. Today on the blog she answers questions about her latest MAGIC OF MURDER as well as her penchant for snowy places. Welcome, m’ lady.

 Q & A

 

From Manhattan to Niagara Falls; Susan Solomon: please explain to our readers what draws you to snow? Describe for us your snow plow.

Actually I came to Niagara Falls from Long Island (pronounced Lon Gisland by those of us who lived there). In 1999, The VMC Group, the efficiency consulting firm I work for moved to Niagara Falls, and invited me to relocate with them. You can imagine the angst: leaving everything and everyone I knew. But at that time in my life I was ready for a new adventure. I remember the day I flew here to set up the new offices. A major snow storm hit the East Coast early that morning, and the puddle jumper that carried me was delayed for hours (oh, I just recalled a story to write about that flight). When we landed in Buffalo, I immediately learned about “white-outs”. It snowed during each of the 12 days I was here, and I remember thinking, This is another fine mess you’ve gotten us into, Ollie (yes, I’m old enough to remember Laurel and Hardy). This is the kind of snow storm described in Magic of Murder.

Funny, though. It didn’t take long for this place to feel like home. It’s the people, you see. So different from the big city in which I grew up. Here folks have time for each other. And the landscape: when spring, that coy mistress, finally unpacked her bags and moved in I drove around. Some of the places I saw were so beautiful, I had pull to the side of the road and cry. I think this is what pushed me to at last begin writing. It was then that I knew this was, and always would be my home.

But it’s the snow you asked about. Yeah. Through the years I’ve learned to enjoy even that—that is, until February when scraping snow and ice off my car every morning becomes old real fast. But at least I don’t have to plow. I have a lovely townhouse in a condo complex, so I don’t even need to own a shovel. My snow plow is big, noisy, and wielded by a couple of good-looking hunks (through my window, I get to watch then go at it—yum). One of those guys became the model for Roger Frey, the Police Detective in my novel. As to the roads…well, up here we know how to deal with the white stuff.

Your 2015 release MAGIC OF MURDER captivated me right off the bat in that it tugged at my inner girl ambition: having magical powers. Did you share the same dream/fantasy growing up?

I’ve always been fascinated by the concept of magic—not the kind seen on stage, but that which people have practiced since the days of the Druids. I hadn’t begun to learn about, though, until somewhere around 2010 or 2011 when I began to write my short story, “Witches Gumbo”—you’ll find the link to this story on my www.susanlynnsolomon.com website. When I presented an early draft to my writers group, someone suggested that if I wanted the story to ring true, I should research witchcraft and herbalism. So, I got a few books on the subject, then a few more. In a matter of days I was hooked. Everything I read made sense to me. Within weeks, I decided I would become a Wicca and practice the craft. That lasted only until my Cousin Robin (who’s always been more my sister) found out what I was up to. She yanked me aside, and explained in simple words even I would understand that with my personality and sense of humor, I’m the last person who should know how to do such things.

By the way, how Robin found out and, “Second Hand”, the story that led to is also on my website.

The thing is, though, I’ve since learned where my fascination with the craft has its roots. Researching another story that still sits someplace in my mind, I engaged in a past-life regression session. If what shocked me about that is true, I actually practiced the craft in the distant past—and paid the price for it in a prior life. I suspect this shows up in my empathy for Emlyn Goode’s (my book’s narrator) ancestor, Sarah Goode, who was hanged in Salem in 1692.

Of course, I haven’t given up the idea of practicing the ancient craft. Every once in a while during a time of a new moon… Uh, maybe this is a story better left untold. Anyway, perhaps this is why I’ve always looked forward to Halloween.

 

I hear you have a ghost in your house. Fact or fiction? Give us an anecdote.

Ohhh, yes. A ghost definitely shares my home. If theories I’ve heard are correct, I invited her in a number of years ago when I wrote “Abigail’s Window”, an as yet unpublished novel about a woman haunting an old house in the Canadian town, Niagara-on-the-Lake. So, I call my ghost Abigail, though I can’t be certain that’s her name. I know she’s here, because there are middle-of-the-nights when I wake to hear someone walking at the foot of my bed. And there are times things disappear and show up later somewhere else, or as something else. As an example (and only one of a number), one evening I was doing a crossword puzzle while watching TV. I remember clearly, I was using a green pen—not the ink, but the pen itself. I put the puzzle and pen down on my end table, and went to make a cup of tea. When I returned to my chair, the pen was gone. I pulled the cushions from my chair, moved the chair, shook the cover I’d had on my lap. I moved tables. No pen. Then, the next morning while straighten up my living room, I found a green plastic guitar pick on the carpet near the end table. A.b., the pick couldn’t have been there. First, I hadn’t played my guitar in weeks; second, I had never owned a green or a plastic pick. I have no explanation for this—except Abigail.

Abbie isn’t the first ghost to share my space. Years ago there was another far less friendly one that tossed eggs at me. That episode is recorded in a scene I wrote for the short story, “Captive Soul”, that appears in Volume 1 of Solstice Publishing’s anthology, “Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep”. The link to this is also on my website if you’d like to see a more horrific scene.

Your short stories are published in journals and you’ve won honorable mention. What inspired you to jump into novel writing?

Actually, I started out to write novels. The Niagara-on-the-lake house I mentioned earlier?—it was a bed & breakfast owned by the man for whom I work. One year, as Halloween approached he asked me if the story I written about the ghost in his B&B was true. You see, he wanted the local ghost tour people to stop by on Halloween night. I knew there really was a ghost in that house—friends and I had heard it roaming around—and had done research to learn who it was. I couldn’t find an answer, so I did what so many writers do: I made her up. Still, to please the man I work for—always a good idea—I broke the novel down to a short story, and sent it to the ghost tour people with a letter in which I swore the story was gospel, and I had witnessed the ghost (the Devil has me by the collar, and I’m headed south as soon as I die). Now I had a short story in hand—my first short story. So, I submitted it to the Writers Journal’s short romance competition, and it won an Honorable Mention. My first published piece of fiction—go figure.

Since that time I’ve stopped worrying whether something I start to write will result in a short story or a novel—in fact, I’m never sure of the length until I’m done. Also since that time I’ve had a number of short stories published. Often they result from a cue in an online journal I follow. Creative on-demand is something I learned during the years I worked at the quarterly magazine, SunStorm Fine Art where, as press-time approached I would be handed a group of slides of an artist’s work, and told to create an article of anywhere from 1,000 to 5,000 words about the artist.

As a cat owner, I’m immediately drawn to your Elvira character. Does this comely feline resemble a real life kitty?

I adore cats. Dogs, too. Elvira’s look and personality is a combination of many of the cats I’ve known, both real and fictional. And her attitude—every cat I’ve met certainly struts around with a bit of ’tude. As to Elvira being hefty (she hates being called fat) and albino…well, that part I invented because it so fits the animal I envisioned for The Magic of Murder.

As a working lawyer, did you bring any magic from your profession to the novel? (Be honest, have you ever binge watched Law and Order?)

Law and Order? Hmm. Being a writer, I lie for a living. I can’t about this because too many people know. Yes, I’ve binged on Law and Order, both the original and SVU. And I know the channels on which every day reruns of these shows can be found. Damn! I love these episodes because so much about them rings true.

Now, you asked about whether I’ve brought any magic from my profession to The Magic of Murder. Although I’ve had a lawyer narrate other stories—in particular “Kaddish” which was published by the “Tampa Review Online” on 2014, and “Yesterday’s Wings” which is in the October issue of the online journal, “Imitation Fruit”, Emlyn Goode, who narrates “The Magic of Murder” isn’t one. Still, when I write I’m constantly aware of my legal training. There’s a difference, you see, between legal writing and fiction. When I draft a contract, everything must be spelled out—the logic must be A, B, C, D, and therefore, E. On the other hand, in writing fiction leaps of logic—the things left unsaid—allow a reader to fill in the blanks, draw their own conclusions. This is part of what makes a story sing. It allows a story to ring true to different people, each in their own way. In a contract, leaving something to interpretation makes for disaster.

What’s next?

I’m currently engaged in what, for a writer, is sheer insanity (but—to use a bridge metaphor—sane has never been my strong suit). I’m about half-finished with a sequel to The Magic of Murder—in this new story, Emlyn Goode’s mother returns to Niagara Falls for her 42nd High School Reunion (a 42nd reunion should give you an idea that nothing will be as it seems). At the same time, I’m working on a fifth or sixth draft of another novel called “Search for Stonemaiden”, in which I’m having a wonderful time reliving my past as a ‘70s songwriter and rock musician. Also, I’m in the middle of a new short story, a fictionalized version of learning well after his death that my father was actually a hero in WWII—the things one doesn’t know about ones parents. And with my writers group, I’m working on a mystery short story about a group of young people who’ve formed a group they call The Holmes Society (it’s been suggested I turn this into another mystery series). All this, while I continue to be in-house counsel to an efficiency consulting firm. Does this explain why my mind seems to have taken an extended vacation?

For every writer, getting the word out is key. What events do you have planned in the coming weeks and what is your all-time favorite social media tool?

The Magic of Murder is still in pre-release mode, by which, as you know A.b., means it’s on Amazon and on the Solstice Publishing websites as available for pre-order in a Kindle version. However (oh, my, that’s such a lawyer word), I don’t yet have paper copies of the book, so actually scheduling events has to wait a few weeks. Yet, a number of friends and acquaintances—and several of my firm’s customers who’ve become friends over the years—have asked to schedule private readings and book signings as soon as the paperback is available.

Beyond this, I’ve begun to post about the novel on Facebook, and several friends (including, Robin) have begun to twitter about it. Twittering would be an impossible medium for me since on twitter one is limited to about 120 characters and, as you know, A.b., I’m incapable of saying good morning in less than 500 words. So, besides the wonderful blogs that have been done about my book, my social medium is Facebook. On it I’ve met some beautiful people who share my sense of humor, my love of cats, and my passion for a good mystery. I’ve learned so much from and about these Facebook friends—laughed with them, cried with them—I think of them as family. A number tell me they’ve already pre-ordered The Magic of Murder, and I can’t wait to hear whether they have as much fun reading it as I had in the writing.

Share with us your most inspiring witchcraft vehicle from any medium? (The old WB show ‘Charmed’ is a guilty pleasure of mine, while WITCHES OF EASTWICK by John Updike is my high brow pick).

“Charmed”, of course. Today being a day off from work, while I had my morning coffee and worked on crossword puzzles, an episode of “Charmed” was on TNT (as you can tell from my description of the stories I’m working on, I’m incapable of doing just one thing at a time). And yes, I enjoyed Witches of Eastwick (but then I’d devour anything John Updike wrote). I’m also fascinated by a series of made-for-TV films Hallmark did about “The Good Witch”—a few seasons ago this was turned into a series and, loving the characters, I try not to miss an episode when it’s on. I’m also ancient enough to recall watching the TV show about Samantha wrinkling her nose. And when Anne Rice dove into witchcraft—ohhh!

Any last words?

Someone once said if you survive childhood you have enough to write about for the rest of your life. I’m learning this is true. In everything I write is a smattering of me, what I’ve seen, how I grew up and things I experienced, family, teachers, people I’ve known. I believe we all have stories aching to be told, and I love hearing those stories. With all I’ve been through, I began telling mine later in life, and now that I’ve begun I can’t stop. For me, reading what I’ve written is a bigger thrill than passing the bar exam or my first job as an entertainment business lawyer. Bigger than the nights my band opened shows in front of crowds gathered for Lovin’ Spoonful performances. It’s second only to having seen my children grow. Had I been given a choice as to the life I’d lead, I can think of none I’d cherish more than that of a writer.

The Magic of Murder

magic of murder coverWhen his partner is discovered in a frozen alley with eight bullets in his chest, Niagara Falls Police Detective Roger Frey swears vengeance. But Detective Chief Woodward has forbidden him or anyone else on the detective squad to work the case. Emlyn Goode knows Roger will disobey his boss, which will cost him his job and his freedom. Because she cares for him more than she’ll admit, she needs to stop him. Desperate, she can think of but one way.

Emlyn recently learned she’s a direct descendent of a woman hanged as a witch in 1692. She has a book filled with arcane recipes and chants passed down through her family. Possessed of, or perhaps by, a vivid imagination she intends to use these to solve Jimmy’s murder before Roger takes revenge on the killer. But she’s new to this “witch thing,” and needs help from her friend Rebecca Nurse, whose ancestor also took a short drop from a Salem tree. Also in the mix is a rather hefty albino cat (Elvira detests being called fat). Rebecca’s not much better at deciphering the ancient directions, and while the women and the cat stumble over spell after spell, the number possible killers grows. They’d better quickly come up with a workable spell: when Chief Woodward’s wife is shot and a bottle bomb bursts through Emlyn’s window, it becomes clear she’s next on the killer’s list.

What people are saying

This book pulled me right in. I think it must have been the fact that Susan Lynn Solomon puts her characters first. The story revolves around the murder of a Niagara Falls Police officer… The adventure that ensues is absolutely entertaining and well-written. It is funny, exciting, and fast-paced. Every character has depth and is…believable. The Magic of Murder is one fun read and is definitely worthy of all 5 stars.

—Frederick Crook, author, Of Knight & Devil

Suspense, humor, compelling characters, a dash of the supernatural dating back to Salem, a powerful sense of place, and Emlyn Goode, a passionate and determined woman new to witchcraft and murder. Susan Lynn Solomon captures both the city of Niagara Falls and its quirkiest resident, an unusual sleuth. The magic of Murder is a winner and, we hope, only the first appearance of Emlyn Goode.

—Gary Early Ross, author of Blackbird Rising add the Edgar Award—winning Matter of Intent

Links Image

www.susanlynnsolomon.com

www.facebook.com/susanlynnsolomon

http://www.amazon.com/Magic-Murder-Susan-Lynn-Solomon-ebook/dp/B015OQO5LO/ref=sr_1_1?s=boo ks&ie=UTF8&qid=1443212271&sr=1-1&keywords=the+magic+of+murder+solomon

http://www.solsticepublishing.com/the magicofmurder

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Susan author photoFormerly a Manhattan entertainment attorney, and then a contributing editor to the quarterly art magazine SunStorm Fine Arts, Susan Lynn Solomon now lives in Niagara Falls, New York, where she is in charge of legal and financial affairs for a management consulting firm.

After moving to Niagara Falls she became a member of Just Buffalo Literary Center’s Writers Critique Group, and turned her attention to writing fiction. Since 2009, a number of her short stories have appeared in literary journals, including, Abigail Bender (awarded an Honorable Mention in a Writer’s Journal short romance competition), Witches Gumbo, Ginger Man, The Memory Tree, Elvira, Second Hand, Sabbath (nominated for 2013 Best of the Net by the editor of Prick of the Spindle), and Kaddish.

Her latest two short stories are, Yesterday’s Wings, about a woman searching for the courage of her past, appears in the October 2015 edition of, Imitation Fruit; and Captive Soul, which is included in Solstice Publishing’s Halloween anthology, Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep.

Excerpt from The Magic of Murder

March brought a worse storm than the one we were hit with in December. It seems that’s how we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day around here. When it ended after four days, a reserve unit from the Niagara Falls Air Base declared war on the snow. With military precision, the reservists piled the stuff into dump trucks and carted it to Lake Ontario, Lake Erie, and the Canal. They might have hauled it to the top of the mountains if their trucks’ tires could get enough traction. Since they couldn’t, it appeared as though they shoved what was left to the shoulder of River Road and into my driveway. When I gazed through the kitchen window at gray heaps so high my mailbox was buried, I was certain the dunes would still be there in July. They weren’t, of course. In two days the streets had been plowed and salted, and cars crawled past. Thanks to my neighbor, Roger Frey, even my driveway had been cleared. In Western New York we know how to deal with the white stuff.

My preferred way of dealing with it is to turn up the thermostat and remain inside, comfy and warm. At least until the sun pokes through the clouds. This is why, still in my robe and flannel pajamas with thermal socks pulled up to my knees, I was snuggled on the sofa under my grandmother’s grey wool afghan. I still wondered about the runes Grandma had sewn into the afghan. Maybe one day Rebecca Nurse would find a book to help me interpret them.

From a corner of what had become her wingback chair, the hefty albino cat—Elvira detested it when I referred to her as fat—glared at me. She seemed annoyed I was wasting the morning on a made for TV movie.

“What?” I said to her.

She rolled her eyes—well, that’s what it looked like to me.

“Give me a break, will you?” I said. “I was up half the night writing.”

She snorted.

“What do you mean I didn’t write anything that mattered?”

She tilted her head.

I shifted on the sofa and bent toward her. “I’m not bullshitting you!” My voice went up an octave. “You were there. You saw what I was—”

At the very moment I realized the cat had again drawn me into an argument, I heard a knock on my front door. My face hot—from anger at Elvira or embarrassment at letting her get the better of the argument?—I jumped from the sofa and yanked the door open.

“What?” I demanded with a sharp edge to my voice.

On my door stoop stood a black quilted jacket, green rubber boots laced over baggy jeans, a flannel scarf wound around the little I could see of a face, and a knit cap pulled so low on a head the figure looked like a cartoon character with no ears. The man on the stoop might have been a predator who intended to break into my home, ravish my body, and make off with my treasures. Okay, I’ve already admitted I have an active imagination. There are no treasures in my home, and my body—well, let’s just say it’s been a long time since anyone would risk jail for ravishing me. Besides, I knew who this was. Earlier, while I poured my coffee, through the window I’d watched my neighbor ride his snowplow like it was the mechanical bull at Flannery’s Bar.

On the frigid side of the storm door, Roger Frey swiveled his head from side-to-side, as if searching for who I hollered at.

At times, I’ve stood before a mirror, arguing with myself, and seen what I look like when I blush. My neck gets as red as my hair, then the color dashes uphill past my face to my forehead. So, I knew what Roger saw when he looked at me.

“Sorry,” I mumbled to what I could see of his face. “Cranky. I was up half the night.”

His voice muted by the scarf covering his mouth, he said, “No need to apologize.” He knew the hours I kept when the muse plopped down next to me.

The glass door misted when he leaned close to peer past my shoulder.

I looked behind me. Elvira had followed me to the door. She stared at us, head slightly tilted. The pale pink of her eyes darkened as if she’d decided something.

Roger nodded at her. “At least you’re not alone anymore.”

“Me or the cat?” I said.

“Both, I suppose.” When Roger pulled down the scarf, his grin showed the small gap between his front teeth.

“I prefer being alone,” I said. “If you want company, feel free to take the cat.”

My friend and neighbor had been alone since his wife took off for a warmer place three years ago.

Elvira sniffed once. Then she turned abruptly, wiggled her large derriere at me, and curled up on the floor at my feet.

Roger laughed out loud.

As if loosened by the laughter that exploded from deep inside him, a sheet of snow skidded off the roof. He must have heard the rumble, because he took a quick step backwards. He wasn’t fast enough, though. While half the snow thudded to the ground, the rest flattened his wool cap and spilled down his face. His hazel eyes rounded in surprise.

Now I laughed. With snow all over his body, it looked as though Frosty the Snowman was on my stoop. I opened the storm door and brushed the snow from his cheek. “Come in here,” I said. “Let me dry you off.”

He stamped his feet on the mat to rid himself of most of the snow.

As I stepped aside to make room for him to pass, I stumbled over the cat.

Roger moved faster than he had to avoid the snow drift from my roof. His arm shot out. “Careful!” he said, and grabbed me around the waist just as I began to flop like a rag doll to floor.

The man is certainly strong. In a single motion, he lifted me from my feet then set me down. His arms still surrounded me.

“You okay?”

I nodded, but couldn’t speak, not even to say yes. I’m sure it was because I was a little bit in shock.

At last he released me, and bent to stroke the cat. “That wasn’t nice, Elvira,” he said. “You could’ve hurt Emlyn.”

I also leaned down to stroke her. “This beast probably intended to do it.”

When I glanced at Roger, his face was precariously close to mine. The look in his eyes told me he might not mind being nearer still.

“Uh, yeah,” I mumbled, and pulled back to put a safe distance between us. “She probably did it on purpose…” My words drifted into a crimson haze.

His cheeks also a bit red—I told myself this was probably from the near-zero temperature outside—he straightened up, and unwound his scarf. His chin and upper lip were dark. The morning stubble enhanced rather than detracted from his chiseled cheekbones and slightly cleft chin. This was a handsome man by anybody’s reckoning. More than that, he was kind. He looked after his neighbors, and made sure we were safe. I’d often wondered why Judy, his ex-wife, would leave such a man.

“I, uh, stopped by to, um…” he said.

I looked down. I had nothing on but my pajamas and robe, and the robe had fallen loose when I nearly fell. Trying not to be obvious about it, I tied my robe closed.

Roger took a deep breath. “Yes, uh, the UPS guy brought this.”

He pulled off his gloves, unzipped his jacket, and took a cardboard box from a large inside pocket. Holding it out, he said, “It came yesterday afternoon. All the snow, the UPS guy couldn’t get to your door, so he left it with me.”

The box was about nine inches wide, a foot long, and maybe two inches thick. I turned it over in my hands, examined the label. The return address said the package came from Naples, Florida.

“It’s from my mother,” I said.

“What is it?” Roger asked.

I shrugged. “I’d have to open the box to find out.”

“So, open it.”

Glancing sideways at him, I smiled. “Later.”

“Come on,” he said, and reached for the package. “I hauled it all the way over here. Plowed out your driveway while I was at it. You gotta show me what’s in there.”

“All the way over, huh?” I laughed. “You live next door.”

“Yeah, well.” He took off his jacket, and draped it over the back of a kitchen chair. His black hooded sweatshirt barely made it to his hips. “I had to wade through three feet of snow to get here. That’s gotta be worth something.”

I laid the package on the kitchen counter. “How about some coffee?”

I yanked the wet knit cap from his head, and tossed it into the sink. Snow clinging to the fibers sprinkled onto his dark brown hair, and melted into the gray that had begun to invade his temples. While I brushed the wet beads from his curls, I said, “A gentleman takes off his hat when he comes inside.”

He picked the box up and handed it to me. “Don’t try to change the subject. I know you, Emlyn Goode. You’re dying to look inside.”

I was. But it was just so much fun to tease him. A girl’s got to do that now and then, just to stay in practice. I turned my back, and refilled my mug then poured coffee into a second mug.

He pushed the box in front of me.

“You’re a big snoop, you know that?” I said.

He let out the laugh that never failed to disarm me. “Of course I am. I’m a cop. Snooping is what I do.”

“Yup, and I’m your good buddy. Like in novels, it’s the sidekick’s job to give the cop a hard time. That’s in my job description.” I pointed at the package. “And see, it’s written right here.”

Another deep, resonant laugh burst from him.  “You’re definitely a piece of work,” he said.

Elvira seemed to grow impatient with my stalling. She leaped onto the counter and pawed at the package. How the devil did she manage to move her large body so lithely?

“Okay, okay,” I said. “I can’t fight both of you.”

I took the box to my dinette table, and sat, glancing around.

“What now?” Roger asked.

“I need something to slice the tape with.”

He tilted sideways in his chair and pulled a Swiss army knife from his pants pocket. As he flicked open the smaller blade, he said, “I was a boy scout, I’m always prepared.”

Settled on Roger’s lap, the cat smacked his hand with her paw. Then she glared at me. C’mon, knock off the flirting and get to it, she seemed to say—well, that’s what her growl sounded like.

I slit the tape and raised the cardboard flaps. Inside was what appeared to be a very old book. Without removing it from the box, I carefully lifted the leather cover. The words on the first page were faded. Still I was able to make some of them out.

“What is it?” Roger asked.

“Seems to be someone’s diary.” I suspect I sounded puzzled. Why would my mother send me something like this?

Between the next two pages was an envelope addressed to me. Inside was a note. I’ve been holding onto this, Mom wrote, hoping the line that’s led from Sarah Goode would end with me. Apparently it hasn’t, so I’m sending you this. Please, Emlyn, try to make better use of this than some of our ancestors have.

Elvira sniffed the book and purred.

Quickly, I refolded the letter.

Roger leaned over, peered into my eyes. “What is it?” he said.

“It’s…um, it’s…” I stammered as I searched for a lie he might believe. I didn’t want to tell him my mother had sent me Sarah Goode’s Book of Shadows. A guy like Roger—his life was built on the belief every mystery could be logically explained, and magic is nothing but sleight-of-hand. He’d remarked about that the night we saw David Copperfield perform at the Seneca Niagara Casino. The fastest way to end our friendship was to tell him I’m the latest in a 350-year line of witches. If I said that, he would stare at me as though I’d winked at him from a third eye in the center of my forehead. Then he’d leave and not come back. Oh, he’d be polite about it—Roger’s always polite. But our friendship would be over. I mean, if it ever got out Detective Roger Frey of the Niagara Falls Police Department had a witch for a friend, he’d die of embarrassment. Or maybe he’d have to resign his position or even move to Rochester or something. If he did, who would plow my driveway then knock on my door to share my morning coffee and help me with the Sunday crossword puzzle?

What? I already said I have a vivid imagination.

As if Sarah Goode’s book was catnip, Elvira dropped her head on it, mewed, and rubbed her paw across her face. Roger shoved her aside, and leaned over to see, I supposed, what caused my concern.

Before he could remove the book from the box, I closed the flaps.

“It’s, uh…um, just an old family diary,” I said. It wasn’t much of a lie. A Book of Shadows is a diary of a sort. Witches record their herbal mixtures in it, and the words they chant to work their magic. My friend, Rebecca Nurse, had explained that when she showed me hers.

Thank you so much for dropping by Susan. We’ll keep an eye on The Magic of Murder, a perfect Halloween read!

ABF

AUTHOR SUSANNE MATTHEWS DROPS BY WITH A NEW BOOK AND INTERVIEW

Thanks so much for having me!

My pleasure, Susanne.

On your website I count three publishers plus self published titles. How do you keep it all straight?

At one point there were four publishers, but one recently went out of business. Keeping them straight is probably easier than you think. Other than the Canadian historical novel, The Price of Honor, the work I submit to Solstice consists of short stories, although I do intend to write the sequel to the historical romance next year. For Anaiah Press, I have to keep the content squeaky clean. Since faith is an important component in my life, if I’m working on a story, and I know God and prayer have roles, I’ll develop something that will suit them. Crimson Romance was my first publisher, and I work with the same editor, so I have a pretty good idea as to what they’ll take, and what won’t make the cut. I guess the hardest part is formatting the manuscripts to suit each publisher’s taste.

Crimson Publishing offers everything from contemporary to historical romance. There’s even a reference to “spicy” titles. Which category best describes your work?

With the exception of Just For The Weekend, which is a contemporary romance, my other Crimson titles: Fire Angel, In Plain Sight, On His Watch, The White Carnation and The White Lily are all romance suspense. I think the easiest way to accurately describe them would be suspense with a touch of romance, as if Criminal Minds met Castle. The books are considered sensual, since there are a few hot scenes, but not really spicy.

You have a new release out Oct 12th. Deets please?

The White Lily is Book Two in the Harvester Series. While it’s the second book in the series, like the first, it stands alone, although I think the reader will get more out of it if he or she reads them in order. Essentially, there is a megalomaniac cult leader who sees himself as the Creator’s prophet with a mission.

The story started in The White Carnation which is book one in the series. As the blurb puts it: The last person disgraced reporter Faye Lewis wants back in her life is Detective Rob Halliday, the man she blames for ruining her career and breaking her heart. But when she finds an old friend murdered, he’s the one she calls.

For the past year, Rob and his team have been hunting the Harvester, a serial killer who ritualistically murders new mothers and vanishes with their infants. What Rob doesn’t need is another case, especially one involving his ex-fiancée.

Then Faye is assaulted, and Rob realizes the cases are connected. She may hold the answers he needs to find the elusive killer. But the more they investigate, the more complex the situation becomes. Can they set the past aside and work together, or will the Harvester and his followers reap another prize?

Rob and Faye foil the Harvester’s plans, but they don’t stop him, and the search for him and his followers continues into book 2, The White Lily. In short, The Harvester is out there…watching, waiting, biding his time.

FBI cult specialist Lilith Munroe lives in dread that one day the man who tortured her when a case went bad will find her again. So leaving her sanctuary in Quantico to join the Harvester Task Force in Boston is her version of hell. But the Harvester is kidnapping babies, and Lilith’s profiling skills may mean the difference between life and death for the most innocent in society.

Australian millionaire and former member of the New Horizon commune Jacob Andrews returns to the United States searching for his sister. Instead of the happy reunion he expects, he discovers she is dead and his twin brother may be responsible. He agrees to lend his law enforcement skills to help find his former cult leader before the man can implement his plan to kill millions.

Now uneasy partners, Jacob and Lilith must learn to trust each other even as they fight their growing attraction. But when Lilith’s greatest fears materialize, will Jacob be able to set aside his anger and save the woman he loves?

The story comes to an end in Book Three, The White Iris, due out in February 2016.

You describe your evolution into a micro publishing house. What’s that like?

I was unfortunate enough to be one of the authors sucked in by not one but two corrupt and deceitful women who set themselves up as publishers.

As a new author, getting offered a contract for a book was amazing, and seeing the book published was really something. I was over the moon when Crimson published Fire Angel, and that was my impetus to keep writing. I’d been warned about putting all my eggs in one basket. I had other new author friends who encouraged me to send stuff to their publishers, and I did. In fact, over the course of a year, I sent her three of my own books and one I co-wrote with another author to Front Porch Romance, and another to Entranced. At first it was great, but then, FPR published the books quickly, and although the editing wasn’t fantastic, it was okay, and the covers were nice. Then, people started quitting and she stopped paying royalties or paid for fewer books sold than Amazon said we had. By the time we realized we’d been screwed, it was too late. She declared bankruptcy, never paid what we were owed, but she did revert the rights to my books, but not the edits. I was faced with a choice. Lose all that work for good, try to find another publisher who’d take previously published material, or try to publish it myself. I was just coping with this when Entranced did the same thing, but because that book had never been published, I was able to send it to Crimson. One of my FPR books not yet published went to SCP, the other to Solstice. Friends persuaded me to self-publish the others, and helped with editing, formatting, and covers. That’s how I became a micro-publishing house.

I started with my historical, The Captain’s Promise and then my concurrent Christmas romances about a set of twins, Holiday Magic and The Perfect Choice. I edited all three books, got new covers for them, added significantly to the length of the Christmas ones and published them myself. When Secret Cravings Publisher went under in August, the publisher returned our rights and allowed us to keep our edits. Incidentally, she’s also doing her best to see we get the money we are owed, so very different from my first experience. I republished Echoes of the Past, which is a paranormal/romance/suspense set in Prince Edward County, Ontario. The other indie work I have consists of a sci-fi space opera called Eloisia, which comes out in monthly episodes, the way comic books used to when I was a kid. The story continues each month, the way television episodes do, building on the plot and adding new characters and new crises as needed. Each book ends on a cliff hanger. I don’t know how well it will do, but I’m happy with it. I have a beta reader and a cover artist who’ve been great. I’ll be releasing a novel on November 17, called Secrets and Lies. It’s part of a series of books about a small town called Hearts of Braden. It would’ve been published by SCP, but when the publisher failed, the other authors and I agreed to go ahead and do it ourselves.

Tell us about your Anaiah titles. How do you keep fresh, versatile?

Writing for Anaiah Press is different because of the restrictions—no sex, no swearing, etc.—but it lets me touch on the inspirational aspects of life. All For Love, currently available, and Hidden Assets which will be released in September 2016, are both romance/suspense novels, but while they look at the uglier side of humanity, they let me share my faith and my belief system. It may be naïve, but I firmly believe good triumphs over evil—it may take years, but in the end, good comes through. In those novels, it’s essential that the plot and character development be strong enough to carry the story, without hot spots to smooth over the rough places. My Crimson books have a lot that in them too, but they are grittier, earthier, and somewhat darker.

How many titles do you have to your credit? Give us your top three nearest and dearest. 

I’ve written and published 14 novels on my own since I started writing in the fall of 2012. In addition to that I have four shorts, one of which is a new Christmas story with Solstice called Her Christmas Hero, coming out on November 30, 2015. I also have 2 pieces I co-wrote, Grand Slam a baseball novella is no longer available because my writing partner has decided not to republish it, and a full length novel, to which my writing partner has given me the rights, which edited, revised, and retitled will be released independently sometime next year.

Picking the top three is difficult. Fire Angel will always have a special place in my heart because it’s the very first one I published. The Price of Honor is special because I based part of it on a romanticized view of my family history. The third is an 18 way tie. It’s like children. How does a mother pick her favorite?

Are you a method writer?

No. I’m a “fly by the seat of your pants” writer. I don’t have plot graphs or outlines, character sheets, motivation sheets. When I start writing each day, I have no idea what’s going to end up on the page. After 33 years as a teacher, a high school English teacher most of it, you’d think I would, but when I try to use an outline, it just doesn’t work.

Your thoughts on series writing? Do you use timeline packages like Scrivener to stay organized?

I’ve written what could be called four different types of series books. The first, Holiday Magic and The Perfect Choice, are written concurrently. While a lot of the content in each book is different, there are a number of similar scenes that occur in both books, but you read them from a different twin’s POV. Keeping the characters true to themselves in each book was a challenge.

The second series, the Harvester series, which I’m writing for Crimson, presented a different challenge. The romance in each book is different, but the main plot, finding and stopping the Prophet/Harvester and preventing his evil plans to destroy the country is the same. The characters from book one appear in both books two and three as do new characters, and keeping everybody in line, making the necessary references to the previous books for those who may not remember or for those who haven’t read the book without boring and turning off those who did, wasn’t always the easiest thing to do.

My space opera is the fourth type of series, and in this one, existing characters will grow and evolve as the plot does.

Do I use timelines? Sort of—scribbled pieces of paper to make sure I allow enough time to pass between scenes and keep events in order—but they get written down as they arise. How do I keep it all organized? Magic! That’s my answer, and I’m sticking to it.

What’s next?

Currently, I’m working on The White Iris, the final book in the Harvester series. When that’s done. I have another Christmas story to finish, a YA I promised my granddaughter, a fantasy about angels I want to edit, and a whole slew of plots yet to be written. I don’t know how much time God will give me to write, but I don’t want to waste a single moment of it.

Last words?

People ask me if I’m making money writing. Am I? Yeah. I think it works out to something like .002 cents per hour. I don’t write for the money. I write because the stories are screaming to get out and be heard. Do I wish I’d started writing sooner? Hell yes, but the reality is I wouldn’t have been able to do it any sooner. The technology wasn’t ready and neither was I. Maybe someday, I’ll write that bestseller and actually make some money, but for now, I’m happy that people who read my work enjoy it.

The White LilyThe Harvester is out there … watching, waiting, biding his time.

FBI cult specialist Lilith Munroe lives in dread that one day the man who tortured her when a case went bad will find her again. So leaving her sanctuary in Quantico to join the Harvester Task Force in Boston is her version of hell. But the Harvester is kidnapping babies, and Lilith’s profiling skills may mean the difference between life and death for the most innocent in society.

Australian millionaire and former member of the New Horizon commune Jacob Andrews returns to the United States searching for his sister. Instead of the happy reunion he expects, he discovers she is dead and his twin brother may be responsible. He agrees to lend his law enforcement skills to help find his former cult leader before the man can implement his plan to kill millions.

Now uneasy partners, Jacob and Lilith must learn to trust each other even as they fight their growing attraction. But when Lilith’s greatest fears materialize, will Jacob be able to set aside his anger and save the woman he loves?

Sensuality Level: Sensual

 

Buy Links

Amazon.com:

http://www.amazon.com/White-Lily-Susanne-Matthews-ebook/dp/B015P79XZ0/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1443387932&sr=8-1&keywords=The+White+Lily+Susanne+Matthews

 

B&N:

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-white-lily-susanne-matthews/1122682664?ean=9781440591228

 

KOBO:

https://store.kobobooks.com/en-ca/ebook/the-white-lily

 

 

Excerpt from The White Lily:

It was her own fault that she was in this predicament. She’d been so close to completing her assignment, but she’d made a rookie mistake, one that would end in her death and condemn who knew how many young girls to this sick lifestyle.

After weeks of kowtowing to just about everyone living in the compound, she’d finally been allowed into the “holiest of holies” the large building specifically designed to house Rivers’s mates. She’d barely recognized Kelly, now heavily pregnant. Grossed out at the thought of Rivers rutting with girls as young as fourteen, Lilith jumped the gun, approached the girl, and identified herself as a family friend sent to rescue her. Sadly, brainwashed into believing she carried God’s grandchild, Kelly had betrayed her to the man who called himself the son of God.

Before Lilith could call in and report, two men stormed into her room, tore the place apart, and found the cell phone hidden under her mattress. They’d dragged her to this hellhole for re-education and introduced her to the monster. The Spanish Inquisition could’ve learned a trick or two from this guy, but she’d clung to her cover story in spite of the torture.

Licking her swollen lips with what little saliva she could produce, the sharp pain from the tooth she’d lost for joking about a crown of thorns, reminded her that she hadn’t gone down without a fight. In spite of everything those bastards had done to her, she hadn’t broken, and there was still a chance her team would get to her in time.

Her head tipped forward, allowing her chin to brush against her grandmother’s locket. Ironically, while they’d ripped away her clothes, the good luck piece still hung around her neck, its pendant hiding a miniaturized GPS placed there by the FBI technician before she’d entered the compound.

Her legs trembled and threatened to give way again. One mistake. One stupid mistake, but there might still be a chance for good to come from it. When she didn’t report in at her scheduled time, her team would storm the compound. Kelly and the other women and children would be rescued, and Rivers and his sick cronies would pay for their crimes—crimes that would include multiple cases of statutory rape and the murder of two federal agents.

Lacking the necessary strength to raise her head from her chest, unable to stem the tears coursing down her dirty cheeks, she took another agonizing breath and sought the sanctuary inside her head, the safe place she’d created years ago when her heart had been broken, the refuge she’d escaped into during the worst of the torture.

Gunshots echoed through the stuffy basement, rousing her, pulling her out of the daydream and bringing with it all the pain she’d suppressed. Her arms ached; the open wounds from the lashes, cuts, abrasions, and burns stung. Her body was on fire, a seething mass of agony.

Familiar voices shouted her name, but she couldn’t answer. She sighed. It wouldn’t be long now. The secret panel opened, revealing her dungeon. Part of her was humiliated at having her colleagues see her this way; another part didn’t care. It was over.

“What the hell have they done to her? Is she alive?”

Fingers on her throat checked for her pulse, and she fought to open her eyes. Pain from the brightness of the LED flashlight tore through her head, forcing a groan from her parched throat.

“For God’s sake, get her down and get the paramedics in here. Hang in there, Lilith.”

“Did you get them? Did you get them all?” she asked, her voice a mere whisper, but before he could answer, the blackness swallowed her once more.

About the author:

portfolioPic-20150722Susanne Matthews was born and raised in Cornwall, Ontario, Canada. She’s always been an avid reader of all types of books, but with a penchant for happily ever after romances. In her imagination, she travelled to foreign lands, past and present, and soared into the future. A retired educator, Susanne spends her time writing and creating adventures for her readers. She loves the ins and outs of romance, and the complex journey it takes to get from the first word to the last period of a novel. As she writes, her characters take on a life of their own, and she shares their fears and agonies on the road to self-discovery and love.

Follow Susanne on her:  Website    Blog    Facebook page    Twitter @jandsmatt

Amazon author page    and    Goodreads author page

TEN AUTHORS, TEN DAYS: DAY FIVE: HOWARD GLEICHENHAUS

Blog Funkhauser is delighted to welcome versatile author Howard Gleichenhaus to Day Five of a ten day extravaganza that spotlights writers of various genres and formats. Howard’s latest THE SUBTERFUGE CONSPIRACY takes the reader on a wild ride from the shores of Lake Ontario to the backstreets of Paris and beyond with protagonist Ted Lansing who is currently evolving in an as yet untitled follow up to Subterfuge. Welcome Howard!

 

THE SUBTERFUGE CONSPIRACY

 

Book CoverThe murder of a young prostitute followed by a police shootout on a cold, deserted beach on the eastern shore of Lake Ontario draws FBI Special Agent Ted Lansing into the most deadly case of his career,

Lansing and his partner, Jennifer Fallana, have three months to lay bare the Subterfuge Conspiracy, recover a shipment of stolen radioactive cesium pellets smuggled into the country across Lake Ontario and thwart the detonation of a dirty bomb set for New Year’s Eve on the National Mall in Washington D.C.

From New York to Paris, to Yemen, and back to Washington D.C., Fargo Blake, ex military, cold and deadly, is tasked by the true conspirators to eliminate their Arab coconspirators and lay blame for the attack squarely their shoulders —The perfect subterfuge terrorist plot.

Backed by a cabal of politically powerful men tied to the highest echelons of the United States government, the conspiracy reaches all the way into the halls of the U.S. Senate. The plotter’s endgame: discredit the first elected Hispanic president’s credibility on global terrorism, bring down his administration, deny him a second term and elect their hand picked successor, a radical, right wing United States Senator.

 

Buy Link: http://www.amazon.com/The-Subterfuge-Conspiracy-Howard-Gleichenhaus-ebook/dp/B00W2256AI

 

 

  1. The Subterfuge Conspiracy reminds me very fondly of Frederick Forsyth’s Day of the Jackal: Q & Ainternational locales, multiple POVs and high stakes intrigue. What is the genesis of Subterfuge?

 

First, allow me to say thank-you for the Forsyth comparison. It is always flattering (and hopefully deserved) to have a novel you’ve written fondly compared to one of the literary giants of the genre.

Some writers plot out their story before hand and stick to the outline. For me that just doesn’t work. I prefer to allow my characters to react to the situations I place them into and ask myself what would he/she do. I dope out at least two scenarios and write them both. Subterfuge began as a standard terrorist plot with a hard-boiled FBI agent in pursuit. During one particular meeting of my weekly critiquing group The Delray Beach Public Library Writer’s Studio (I am the group moderator) an off hand comment was made by one member of the group. I doubt he even remembers making it now. “What if the plotters weren’t who the reader thinks they are?”

I made a note in the margin of my manuscript. At some point I was struck by the usual temporary writer’s block that happens every so often. Going back through early drafts I saw the margin notes I’d made weeks before. Not a bad way to go, I thought. I knew I couldn’t just drop that bomb from out of nowhere so I went back into what I had already written and began to plant foreshadows. Once the co conspirators were firm in my mind the story began to flow again.

 

  1. As a Canadian, my interest piques at the mention of Lake Ontario. What dictated your choice of location for the jump-start of the plot?

lake ontarioThat is an interesting question. My youngest son went to college at SUNY Oswego, which is on the eastern shore of Lake Ontario. Over the years I visited Oswego many times. I was familiar with the lakeshore beachfront and how desolate it looked in winter. Researching Canadian nuclear facilities I discovered that Canada had a facility close to the lake, a short boat ride from the US side. It made the perfect route to smuggle nuclear materials. What started as a rather short narrative, “telling” the reader about smuggled material I rewrote the novel’s beginning to “show” rather than tell and draw the reader in with a non stop thrilling police confrontation, totally misunderstood as a simple drug interdiction. I now had my “usual” suspects in country. I then allowed by protagonist (Ted Lansing) to uncover the plot one slow page at a time, always ending a chapter with a cliffhanger to bring the reader along.

 

  1. Let’s backtrack for the readers: Can you give us your elevator pitch?

Hours, moments and seconds tick away, with millions of lives hanging in the balance. Could the unthinkable really happen, a dirty bomb, armed with stolen cesium from a Canadian Reactor site, is set to detonate on New Year’s Eve on the National Mall in Washington DC. FBI Special Agent Ted Lansing tries to make sense of who the real enemy is in one of the most diabolical plots ever conceived to subvert the United States government.

CIAWho can Lansing trust? Are Middle Eastern Jihadists really eiffel towerbehind the plot, or is it far more sinister. Could his one time friend, CIA Paris section chief, Colin Mills. be involved? Is Mills tied to a white supremacist army led by a disgraced ex military man, an avowed racist, Lt. Colonel Kyle Nugent and his right hand, Fargo Blake? Also ex military, Blake is a stone-cold killer who strikes without conscience, until a beautiful Parisian flight attendant makes him believe that a different life is possible — But Blake is trapped, he cannot get out. High-ranking members of the United States Senate are plotting to overthrow a duly elected president. Unthinkable, that is until small inconsistencies appear sending Lansing on a nonstop coaster ride from New York City to the Adirondack wilderness in upstate New York to the National Mall in Washington on New Year’s Eve. Lansing pursues Blake, and Mills into snow covered Virginia’s countryside to a clandestine CIA training facility. Two old friends facing off in one last confrontation from which only one will emerge alive.

 

  1. Espionage (is there a better descriptor?) fiction is a favorite of mine though I lack the mental courage to ever tackle such a genre. As a writer, what goes into a work like The Subterfuge Conspiracy? What is your method?

I don’t know if it’s mental courage, but I certainly wasn’t sure when I began to write Subterfuge if  I could pull it off. There were so many unanswered questions. I knew I was going to take my readers to locations I had never visited. Sure I’d been to Paris, for example, but tourist Paris. What was a typical Paris street like, not the Champs-Élysées visitors see. No more typical than portraying Times Square as a typical New Yorker’s day of fun I need to “be” in the Paris of working Parisians. For my writer colleagues, here is a secret. A Google search of Paris neighborhoods followed by Google Earth puts you on the street in front of your location and the ability to move up and down the street. You can see cars parked in front; does the bistro have a window facing the street? What is on the menu and how are the tables arranged? It may all sound like unnecessary minutia but in my writing I create authenticity in my visuals. Readers who may have been there say “Yes, exactly how I remember it.” I believe these details enhance the plot and breathe life into the characters.

 

  1. Chicken or egg? What came first: plot or character(s)?

For me it is the plot, at least in this book. My latest project, almost 100,000 words (now in first draft) will be the other way around because Ted Lansing is my protagonist, but the book is not a sequel. Since his character qualities, warts and all, were developed in Subterfuge, I have a better framework to get him in and out of situations. That being said, I always keep in mind the fact that most readers are meeting him for the first time and I cannot assume facts not in evidence. Admittedly, my first drafts lack much foreshadowing of plot line because I tend to write a linear story in that first draft. In second draft copies, knowing where I am going, I move entire chapters, add foreshadowing, and clean up plot holes my critique group uncovered. Once plot and character are finalized (reconciled?) a third rewrite readies the manuscript for the editor. A side note for my fellow writers still trying to get published: Do not skimp on professional editing. Editors are worth their weight in gold. They can take a good manuscript and transform it into a smooth professional book.

 

  1. Care to share a publishing anecdote?

I have one that is a cautionary tale for would be writers. My first attempt at getting published, back when I knew nothing about it, was to scour the Internet for an agent. I found an intriguing ad from an agency, since discredited, that made it sound so easy. I sent my query and waited. In a month came the response that I was so good they wanted me as a client and thought my book would sell. New to writing and gullible I thought them reasonable when they asked for a moderate sum ($65) to send email blasts to publishers. A month later they told me I was “this” close and another $65 would do it. Only then did I search the web for other authors who used that agency. If I had done it sooner I might have saved the $65. Fellow writers, if they ask for money, be skeptical.

 

  1. What was the first thing you thought of after typing “THE END”?

That’s an easy question. What did I leave out and how can I fix it. There is always doubt. Even now when I reread portions of Subterfuge I ask myself why I did it that way when I could have improved on it by doing it another way. There is an adage from the Pennsylvanian Dutch, Too soon old…too late smart.

 

  1. What’s next?

My third novel, still untitled, has Ted Lansing with a new partner, an African American, Washington DC Metro detective named Arlen Drew. Lansing now lives in Washington and has remarried his ex wife, FBI Assistant Director, Felicia Albreda. In what begins as the murder of a Russian forensic archeologist at the Smithsonian, Lansing is drawn into a case of international intrigue taking him to Israel and the Sinai Peninsula in search of the Ten Commandments. Readers, who have read Subterfuge, will recognize the changes in Lansing, the developing new relationship with his wife and the renewed relationship with his son, now a junior at MIT and there in Israel to receive a prestigious award for a paper he wrote on drone technology.

 

  1. Do you ever think outside your genre? Do you have the courage to tackle romance? (This question is very tongue and cheek)

Whisper in the pinesMaybe not so tongue and cheek. My first published novel, Whisper in the Pines-Secrets of the Heart is so different from Subterfuge that a reader may not recognize it as my work until they see my name on the cover. It is an unabashed love story/mystery set in 1938, in Moultrie Georgia, about a once wealthy southern aristocrat, Reggie Laverneaux, who is trying to rebuild his life after losing everything in the Great Depression. His errant wife has returned to town followed by a sociopath she ripped off while on the run from her old life. Whispering Pines, Reggie’s decaying antebellum house in Moultrie is the setting. Long forgotten family secrets are unearthed when a stranger, an elderly Jewish businessman from New York, arrives in Moultrie with answers and a promise, hope for Reggie to rebuild his life

 

  1. Your favorite all time spy (again, is there a better descriptor) movie is….?

If I had to name one character (spy) (counterspy) from literature and film it would be Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan. Sometimes I write traits I admire in Jack Ryan into Ted Lansing’s character. Ryan is fiercely loyal with a tenacity that will not quit even under extreme duress. Lansing is often down and counted out, only to prevail in the end through sheer guts. Like Ryan, Lansing can go from dealing with violence to tenderness in a heartbeat. Unlike jack Ryan, Lansing does all of this while dealing with the demon that neatly destroyed his life.

 

biographyHoward Gleichenhaus was born in Philadelphia, PA and grew up in the Bronx, NYC and Spring Valley, New York. He earned a Bachelor’s degree in Biology from Southern Connecticut State College, and a pair of Master’s degrees from Fairleigh Dickinson University; one in Biology and a second in Psychology.

After a short career in neuro-biochemical research at Rockland

Psychiatric Institute, he taught high school biology for thirty-four years in the Clarkstown Central School District, Rockland County NY. During that time, he also operated his own portrait/wedding photography business. Self-taught in Photoshop, he keeps his hand in the portrait business and still does restoration of heirloom photographs and portrait retouching. Now retired from teaching, he and his wife Fredda now live in Delray Beach, Florida. They have two married sons, and three grandchildren.

He is currently Chairman of the Board of the Institute for Learning in Retirement in Boca Raton and moderator of the Writer’s Studio of the Delray Beach Library.

Writing fiction began after his retirement from teaching in 2001, with a couple of successful short stories published before he turned his full attention to writing novels.

 

AUTHOR’S PHOTO GALLERY

When he isn’t writing, author Howard Gleichenhaus captures memories…and escapes run-ins with the guarded and famous!

Arod Yes that is the Yankees superstar Alex Rodriguez. He took offense at my photographing him with his bodyguard in the pool at a Tampa hotel where we went to see the Yanks play the Rays. Wish I was that famous. He saw me standing at the edge of the pool, tele lens in hand and got real angry.
Arod. “Yes that is the Yankees superstar Alex Rodriguez. He took offense at my photographing him with his bodyguard in the pool at a Tampa hotel where we went to see the Yanks play the Rays. Wish I was that famous. He saw me standing at the edge of the pool, tele lens in hand and got real angry.”
Loves Three new loves came into our lives.Alexa, Levi and Casey. They say that grand kids are your reward for not killing your own kids. So true!
Loves. “Three new loves came into our lives Alexa, Levi and Casey. They say that grand kids are your reward for not killing your own kids. So true!”
Fredda. "That's the love of my life for 42 years. She is my muse."
Fredda. “That’s the love of my life for 42 years. She is my muse.”
TUX. "(Florida life is easy and laid back, especially for writers, but every once in a while a guy needs to clean up and go all James Bond."
TUX. “(Florida life is easy and laid back, especially for writers, but every once in a while a guy needs to clean up and go all James Bond.”
Dream House. "We built it in Delray Beach, Florida, and artist and writers paradise."
Dream House. “We built it in Delray Beach, Florida, an artist and writers paradise.”
St Maarten. "Chillin' on the island. We met mystery writer Cathy Ace on the cruise ship. We talked writing and publishing all day while sipping fancy colored drinks on the fantail deck. She was so, so accommodating in sharing her publishing experiences."
St Maarten. “Chillin’ on the island. We met mystery writer Cathy Ace on the cruise ship. We talked writing and publishing all day while sipping fancy colored drinks on the fantail deck. She was so, so accommodating in sharing her publishing experiences.”

Thank you so much for sharing your means and methods, Howard. There’s a lot of great advice here. Be sure and pay us a visit again when Ted Lansing’s next exploit hits the presses.

Cheers. ABF

 

“There are no laws for the novel. There never have been, nor can there ever be.”
—Doris Lessing

MONDAY:

Spotlight science fiction author Jim Cronin and his latest HEGIRA.

author photo

 

 

 

 

 

 

TEN AUTHORS, TEN DAYS: DAY TWO: HEIDI MASON

Please join me in welcoming Solstice Author Heidi Mason, whose debut novel INVESTIGATING THE HEART looks there and beyond…

INVESTIGATING THE HEART

Investigating the Heart 1After the death of her husband in a plane crash, Emma McCoy, a single mom of three, has given up on love. When she meets Liam O’Reilly, an FBI agent who is new in town, the chemistry is immediate.  Emma tries to keep her distance, but Liam is determined to win her over.  As the two navigate their feelings, Emma’s resolve begins to crumble. What Emma doesn’t know is that Liam is connected to her past in a way that she could never have imagined, and this connection could put their future in jeopardy.  In the small town of Beckland, Ohio, danger is the last thing that Emma expects.  However, since Liam’s arrival, it seems like peril is waiting around every corner. See below for a taste…

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY

Heidi Renee Mason always knew she would be an author. Heidi is passionate about writing with a flare
for fiction, as well as poetry. In her spare time, Heidi enjoys music, genealogy, all things Celtic, and chick flicks. A native of the Midwest, Heidi now resides in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and three daughters. Investigating the Heart is Heidi’s debut novel.

In the spirit of our times, the author opens up about her new novel and the novel things that drive her…

Q & A

  1. The blurb for Investigating the Heart is jam-packed with intrigue and peril, yet it hints at romance not
    unlike that shared by the famous Rick and Elsa from Casablanca. Are you a noire fan?

I am definitely a fan of Casablanca. As a matter of fact, there is a scene in my book where Emma is Rick and Elsawatching that movie. I honestly tend to lean more toward your traditional sappy romances. But, I am a sucker for a love story in any form.

  1. What inspired you to go down the romance, suspense path?

Investigating the Heart didn’t start as a suspense novel. I was planning a pretty traditional love story, but things took an unexpected turn pretty quickly. I just do what the characters tell me to do, so that’s the road we all went down. It was actually pretty fun to cross over to the “dark side” for awhile.

  1. Are you a big time reader? Who are your hero’s, mentor’s and fave’s?

green gablesI am definitely a reader. I have been from the time I learned how to string words together to make sentences. As a young girl,  my mother would actually ground me from reading when I got into trouble. She said it was the only thing that had a significant impact on me…and she was right. I love Nicholas Sparks. The way he can craft a love story is really like no one else that I’ve read. He draws you in and makes you care about his characters. I don’t think I have ever read one of his books that didn’t make me cry at some point. As an author, that’s really the goal, right? To make your readers feel something. I also have a special place in my heart for the Anne of Green Gables series. Those books were defining for me as a young girl. I love chick lit, and adore Elin Hilderbrand and Jodi Picoult. I love historical novels as well, and enjoyed the Pillars of the Earth books by Ken Follett. It’s really hard for me to choose. Books are pretty much my escape from life, and always have been.

  1. Do you find value in any other mediums such as HBO?

I don’t watch HBO, mostly because I don’t subscribe to it on cable. I do enjoy TV and movies, though. I love the Outlander series on Starz. I am a little bit obsessed with it. While I like a good movie or television show, though, I always prefer a book.

  1. What sense do you rely on most when framing a scene?

I would have to say I’m a visual person. I need to be able to see the scene playing out in my head while I write it. My goal is to craft the story in a way that my readers can see it as well.

  1. When did you start writing?

I really began to enjoy expressing myself with words when I was a teenager. I found that it was easier for me to put my emotions onto paper than to speak them. I wrote for the high school newspaper, then I worked for a time as a Staff Writer for a local newspaper after I graduated high school. Then, I began having children and I put it on the back burner for awhile. Anyone with small children knows that some days it is difficult to form a cohesive thought, let alone write something. As the girls got older, I gradually began writing again, then earlier this year, I decided it was time to write my book. So I did…in four months. I tend to be very focused on things, and once I start something I feel an intense need to finish it.

  1. Is it a Gift? Torture? Or Calling?

Yes, all of the above! I feel like it is all of those things, depending on the day. When the words are in there and don’t want to come out, it is torture. Most of the time, though, I feel like it really is my gift and calling. I feel very blessed that I get to do something that I love so much, and that people seem to enjoy what I write.

  1. Many writers thrill to that first draft: the rush of creating something new. Others love going back and layering in details and devices through the editing process. What’s your fave thing about this thing we do called writing?

My favorite part of writing is being able to take the story out of my head and put it into words. I love the way that the characters speak to me and tell me how it is all going to go. I am not in control, really, and I enjoy the surprise. I enjoy the act of creating something that will entertain, transport, and hopefully touch readers in some way.

  1. I belong to a group that says “writing need not be a solitary act”. Do you write in seclusion, or do you belong to a critiquing group?

I don’t belong to a critique group, but I’m definitely not opposed to it. I write alone, mostly because I don’t have a set time or writing schedule. I just write as I can fit it in.  I would say that I write in seclusion, but I really don’t. I write in the middle of the chaos of my house, and that’s how I work best. I have three daughters, and we home school, so it is always a delicate balance of being there for them, but finding the time to write, too.

  1. Happy endings: For? Or Against?

Most definitely FOR! I love happy endings. I am indeed a fan of them. However, happy endings don’t always have to be the expected outcome. Sometimes, the best happy endings are the ones you don’t expect.

Excerpt

Prologue

Moving as quickly as a woman seven months pregnant was capable of, Emma McCoy headed to the front door of her house. The loud knocking had awakened her from her afternoon nap. Emma yawned, trying to appear awake. She didn’t remember being this exhausted during her other pregnancies. This time, she could barely stay awake during the day.  “I’ll be right there!” She called toward the general direction of the front door.  She wondered to herself who it could be. Her best friend, Sadie, never knocked, and her husband, Jacob, was out of town on business. Mom and Dad wouldn’t have bothered knocking. They would have known she would probably be napping while the girls napped.  Opening the front door, she saw the two policemen. Fear immediately crept up inside of her chest. Her first thought upon seeing the officers was that something was wrong with her parents. Had they been hurt? Emma prayed the policemen were at the wrong address, but she had a feeling deep inside of her gut that they were not.  Investigating the Heart 1“Can I help you?” her heart raced inside of her chest. She willed herself to stay calm.  “Mrs. McCoy,” said the male officer. “Can we come inside, please?” “Of course.” Emma led them through the dining room and into her living room. She offered the officers a seat, but instead of sitting herself, she paced the living room floor, panic rising in spite of her best efforts to keep it in check. “Someone please tell me what’s going on. Has there been some kind of accident? Is someone hurt?” “Mrs. McCoy, please sit down,” said the female officer. “We need you to stay calm. Since you’re pregnant, we can’t have you getting too upset.”  Emma sat down awkwardly in the rocking chair.

The antique rocker had been in her family for generations. Her parents had given it to her as a gift when she gave birth to her oldest daughter. She ran her hands across the aged wood, thinking absently of her children, who were upstairs napping. She was aware that her palms were sweating and her heart was racing. She tried to slow her breathing, but she felt like she might throw up.  “Someone please tell me what’s wrong. I know something is wrong,” she said impatiently, looking directly at the officers for answers. “Is it my parents?” “Mrs. McCoy, there has been an accident. Your husband’s plane went down while it was descending into Canada. They searched, but there were no survivors,” said the female officer as she looked intently at Emma. “I am so sorry to bring you this news.” “What do you mean? There must be some mistake. Jacob’s plane wasn’t even flying to Canada. He was going to California on business.” Emma was momentarily thankful realizing the officers must be mistaken. “I know this is a shock, Mrs. McCoy, but it has been confirmed. The passenger on the plane to Canada was definitely your husband. We have copies of his plane ticket and his passport. We have him on the airport video surveillance. He boarded the plane with another passenger, a woman named Veronica Smith. I believe you might know her as well,” said the policeman.  “Veronica is our neighbor. I thought she was going to Pennsylvania to visit her family. That’s what she told me last week. Why were Jacob and Veronica on a plane together? Jacob was supposed to be going to California, not Canada. I don’t understand! Why was he with Veronica?” Emma demanded as a million questions filled her mind. She sat for a moment trying to wrap her brain around the information. The small voice which she had ignored for the past year spoke loudly in her head now. She had been suspicious of Jacob and Veronica, but told herself  she was just being paranoid. Jacob had told her she was just emotional because of the pregnancy. Emma had agreed that he was probably right, and had pushed aside the nagging suspicion she felt.  Images she had ignored because she didn’t want to believe them now paraded through her mind. There had been many times she had accused her husband of being friendlier with their neighbor than he should be. Jacob always got angry with her and blamed her for being paranoid. Emma always backed off, not wanting to fight with him.  In that instant, Emma’s denial came crashing down on her. She saw Jacob helping the beautiful and mysterious Veronica trim the hedge between the houses. She saw them laughing together at something Jacob had said. She heard Jacob’s insistence that he was “just being neighborly.” Emma remembered the morning she had seen Jacob and Veronica talking quietly on the sidewalk, their familiarity with each other making her jealous. Emma had chosen to ignore all of these things, but they could not be ignored now. The room began to spin. She felt faint. Jacob had been having an affair with Veronica, and now they were both dead. What was she going to do? She was alone, with two little girls and another on the way. Emma tried to stand, but her legs wouldn’t support her. The two officers rushed over and caught Emma as she slipped into oblivion.

 

Visit Heidi at:

www.heidireneemason.wordpress.com

On Twitter @heidireneemason

Or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Heidi-Renee-Mason/1588917641371359

author at www.solsticepublishing.com

 

Thank you for stopping by Heidi and good luck with your new release. Don’t be a stranger! ABF

 

TOMORROW:

Pause day or teaser? Find out at http://www.abfunkhauser.com.

SHYLA WOLFF BLOG TOUR AND GIVEAWAY

wolfThe blog welcomes author Shyla Wolff to spotlight her upcoming release SHADOWED PASSAGE and highlight her GIVEAWAY currently running from May 11 to June 7. Shyla is a new friend, kind enough to feature me on her blog not once, but twice as part of my tour. I wish this talented artist the very best.

–ABF

ROSES signature

THE BOOK

shyla book

Tariffs paid on an ill-fated decision can last a lifetime. 

A young boy—tossed an impossible situation by his psychopathic uncle, father or sister, he must kill one for the other to survive.

Two decades later, Dylan has developed his psychic talents, trained by the military, learned the skills necessary to locate the family he’d abandoned as a child and kill the devil himself, Roth. On the day he’s discharged, his ex-boss offers assistance in locating his sisters, demanding help with one more mission in exchange.

Tori, a young woman weeks away from graduating with her Psych doctorate, is torn from her stable life and thrust into a world of espionage, warriors, and unexplainable phenomenon. The man she loves, Major Clannahan, attaches her to the unit charged with locating a terrorist cell. Dylan, leading the unit, draws her like no other. Yet the darkness buried in his soul will test her skills and patience beyond anything she’s ever known.

Kiera and Kyley, identical twins challenged by the extremes of evil yet remain pure of heart, both bound to their man with a love withstanding the tests of time and tragedy.  One a warrior, the other with a warrior’s heart, each wield formidable psychic talents, sought after by a psychopath and terrorist bent on destroying the country.

A group of psychic warriors, dedicated to fighting evil in the shadows, locating and helping others develop their paranormal talents without splintering society’s tenacious perception of reality.

These are the extraordinary people living among us, protecting and preserving our way of life. Courage and honor, duty and strength of will cansustain us for only so long. Eventually, we must find our own path forward, learning to open our hearts to love even as we risk the ultimate pain.

 LINKS

Amazon pre-order

http://www.amazon.com/Shadowed-Passage-Anath-Book-3-ebook/dp/B00XFRFAXM/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1431260019&sr=8-1&keywords=shadowed+passage

Shyla facebook

https://www.facebook.com/shyla.wolff

Shyla blog

http://shylawolff.blogspot.com/

Twitter

@wolff_Shyla

https://twitter.com/wolff_shyla

 Shyla website

http://shylawolff.com/

EXCERPT

“The choice is yours, boy, but understand—not deciding is making a decision. Do it before I make the decision for you. Only difference is, I won’t kill one, I’ll kill them both. Father or sister. You have allthe power.” 

Roth kept his tone calm and gentle. The evil coiled tightly within warmed his soul. He fancied the boy killing his father, silently rooting for the infant to survive. He could have lots of fun with her over the coming years. 

The boy’s father would die either way. He’d bound and beaten him just for fun.

“Daddy? What do I do?” Tears streamed down Dylan’s face, sobs racked his entire nine-year-old battered frame. His gaze slid from his father to his baby sister, now held by Roth. When he looked back at his dad’s bruised and bloodied face, he cried harder. His dad’s eyes were swollen almost shut. 

The gun shook uncontrollably in the boy’s small hand. “Daddy?”

Boredom shadowed his mind as the excitement of the climax dimmed with the child’s indecisiveness. His gaze wandered out the window above the kitchen sink. 

In the back yard, a massive, wooden play structure stood, complete with swings, tunnels, overhead ladder, and a slide. How extravagant for just two children, one still an infant. His sister always belabored the little things. Shame she’s not present to witness this. He would’ve found this even more amusing. 

The blond haired infant cradled roughly in his left arm actually cooed at him. Disgusting. If he kept this thing, he’d have to hire a nanny. Still, the thought of it growing up with half the powers his sister enjoyed years ago made the brat worth the trouble…If she survived today. He sighed.

* * * *

“Dylan, son, it’s okay. You’re going to be all right. Look at me. Remember how we played catch this morning? When you think of me, you’ll remember how we played ball today. Okay, son?”

What else could he say in this horrific situation? His own psychotic brother-in-law was forcing Dylan to commit the most heinous act imaginable, choose between patricide and sororicide. Roth had always been the canary in the crazy mind but even Devon hadn’t seen this coming.

Awww, isn’t this touching?” Roth muttered, no doubt weary of his twisted game. “What a little wimp. I’m growing tired of your indecision, boy. I think I’ll just slice this little bitch’s throat. After all, she’d probably just grow up to be a carbon copy of her mother, stubborn and willful. Wouldn’t want more of that in the world, would we?” 

Noooo, please. Please don’t hurt her! She’s just a baby.” Facing where he knew his son to be by the sound of his sobbing stifled his thoughts. “Son, I know this is the hardest thing you’ll ever do, but you must. Please. It’s all right. I love you more than anything.” 

Dylan retched, fumbling and almost dropping the Glock 9mm pistol. It probably felt like the heaviest thing he’d ever held, certainly his first time holding a gun. 

His small frame trembled, tears streamed from his eyes, hair matted to his face. Red, swollen tissue marred the right side of his face, the result of Roth’s cold temper. The kitchen table supported his slight weight as he leaned one forearm on its edge.

“Roth, please don’t do this. He’s just a boy. Be the sniveling coward you’ve always been. Do it yourself.” Articulation was slurred through split and bloody lips. His tongue slipped between the gap of two missing teeth. 

Though partially open, his right eye refused to focus properly. Warm, wet liquid traced a path down his face. Gravity would always trump decency. Blood splattered his clothes. Patches of gray clouded the edges of his vision. Unconsciousness lumbered near. The drumming in his head kept pace with his rapid-fire pulse. No child should ever see his father this way, unable to protect his family. Even if his son survived Roth, which he began to doubt, he’d be scarred for life.

“Oh, Devon, Devon, Devon. You just don’t get it, do you? I’m not a coward,” Roth admonished. “I have no qualms about ending any of your lives. Watch, let me demonstrate.” His patronizing voice oozed in the air like oil spreading over water to corrupt with its filth. Roth pulled the six-inch blade from its sheath at his waist and held it to the baby’s throat, who lay cuddled in the crook of his left arm.

“No, don’t. You bastard!” Devon strained at the rope binding his hands behind his back. “Dylan, listen. Take the family crest ring off my finger. Go ahead, son, take it. It’s yours. It’s our coat of arms.” Twisting sideways forced the bonds to cut his wrists as he removed the ring from fingers slick with blood. 

When his son took it, he realized these would be his last words to his boy. “Put it in your pocket, you can get a chain for it until you’re grown. That ring is a symbol of your strength, son, a symbol of your commitment to do whatever’s necessary to protect your family. Remember this, Dylan.” Dear God, he’ll have nightmares the rest of his life…if he survives. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Of the many lessons life seems intent on throwing her way; the most important one Shyla’s learned is to take the time to enjoy family and friends. The flux and flow of changes aren’t something to fight, but adapt to with the best of your ability. One day’s heartbreak is often followed by another day’s triumph. The only barricades remaining are the ones we refuse to navigate. She hopes you’ve enjoyed this story. Shyla’s website, ShylaWolff.com, will be updated as Dylan’s journey continues.

NOTE: My apologies to Shyla and viewers for displaying Rafflecopter script. Haven’t figured out how to translate it directly into my blog. Just click the URL and you’re in –ABF

BLOG/FACEBOOK SHARE RAFFLE

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PUBLIC RAFFLE

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Thanks for stopping by Shyla and good luck to everyone who participates in the raffle!

The Chronically Excited Rocky Rochford, Unleashed

My friend and fellow Solstice author Rocky Rochford reminds me of my dear Doctor Who. Curious, excited and always WORKING. His latest, The Devil You Know, now available on Amazon, details one curious con’s face to face with the devil incarnate and the consequences this provokes.

Ladies and Gents: Rocky Rochford. 

Greetings to one and all, my name is Rocky Rochford, writer, poet, scuba diver and sword collector, among other things. As I have been so kindly given the space to talk about myself and my works, let’s get to it.

About me:

Scuba Diving, Photo taking, Adventure Seeking, Sword Collecting, Writer & Marine Conservationist. That’s me. I’m a handful of years into my twenties, but after living life on the road, going town to town before finally settling down, I’ve gained great insight into the world and her workings. From Day 1 I have been a Writer and a Writer I shall forever remain.

I like to consider myself to be a Student of Everything, and yet a Master of Nothing, who does not

The prolific author at home, sword in hand.
The prolific author at home, sword in hand.

choose what he writes, but writes what chooses him, be it fantasy, crime, poetry, philosophy or even adventure. After all life is a journey we all get to experience, just like a good book.

Every read of one of my typed works, is another trip into the imagination of my mixed up, crazed and deranged mind. Welcome to the World of Rochford.

And just one of those works happens to be my newly released “The Devil You Know,” an 8 Chapter long ebook to introduce you to a conman who gets an offer he can’t refuse, one that would see him return in the full length novel “The Devil You Don’t.”

            The Blurb reads a little like this:

Meet a conman who always carefully chooses his marks. Then one day he discovers that he’s been someone else’s mark, and not just for a little while, but his whole life. Think you know the Devil? You don’t know Jack.

          And if that’s got your taste-buds waging, allow me to hit you with an excerpt:

I’ll never forget the day my life changed, never to be the same again, the day I met him. I knew it was him the second he walked into the bar. I didn’t need to see those yellow eyes of his, or to notice the curve of his mouth as he smiled gladly upon the mere sight of me. Out of all the bars in the world and the Devil walked into mine.

Shit” was the word that came to mind.

The Devil You Know released on Amazon and www.solsticepublishing.com on the 30th of January and is available on every version of Amazon, so what are you waiting for and pick up your very on copy of a devilishly good tale.

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/IamRockyRochford?fref=ts
Twitter: @RockyRochford

Wattpad: http://www.wattpad.com/user/RockyRochford
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7310280.Rocky_Rochford
My personal Website:  rockyrochford.wordpress.com
Rabmad: http://www.rabmad.com/authors/Rocky-Rochford/

And of course links to my works (listed from oldest to latest). Quick little thing I should mention, I am an author of many genres, I’ve recently released a Poetry Collection. I have written a number of short stories, both stand-alone pieces and part of a continuing series. As far as genres go, I write Fantasy, Adventure, Thriller, Psychological Thrillers, Espionage, YA & Supernatural:

Phoenix Rises – a Deep Water novel: (Full length novel)

http://www.amazon.com/Phoenix-Rises-Deep-Water-Novel/dp/3854382375/ref=sr_1_7?ie=UTF8&qid=1416761419&sr=8-7&keywords=rocky+rochford

The Spirit of Iris – Part of the Rise of the Elohim Chronicles: (Full length novel)

http://www.amazon.com/Rise-Elohim-Spirit-Rocky-Rochford/dp/1625261292/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1416761121&sr=8-4&keywords=rocky+rochford

http://solsticepublishing.com/the-rise-of-the-elohim/

Dead on the Floor – Part of the Entwined Saga: (Short Story)

http://www.amazon.com/Dead-Floor-Rocky-Rochford-ebook/dp/B00NOBCNIO/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1416761121&sr=8-2&keywords=rocky+rochford

http://solsticepublishing.com/dead-on-the-floor/

Hour of Darkness – Part of the Rise of the Elohim Chronicles: (Short Story)

http://www.amazon.com/Rise-Elohim-Hour-Darkness-ebook/dp/B00O4C4ZV0/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1416761365&sr=8-5&keywords=rocky+rochford

http://solsticepublishing.com/rise-of-the-elohim-hour-of-darkness/

Don’t Turn Around – A short tale about Murder: (Short story)

http://www.amazon.com/Dont-Turn-Around-Rocky-Rochford-ebook/dp/B00NY9T8W0/ref=sr_1_6?ie=UTF8&qid=1416761396&sr=8-6&keywords=rocky+rochford

http://solsticepublishing.com/dont-turn-around/

The First Glance – Part of the Entwined Saga: (Short Story)

http://www.amazon.com/First-Glance-Part-Entwined-Saga-ebook/dp/B00PUTJPES/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1416760996&sr=8-1&keywords=rocky+rochford

http://solsticepublishing.com/the-first-glance-part-of-the-entwined-saga/

Little Boy Death The Life of: (Poetry Collection):

http://www.amazon.com/Little-Death-Life-Rocky-Rochford-ebook/dp/B00PV0MV56/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1416761121&sr=8-3&keywords=rocky+rochford

http://solsticepublishing.com/little-boy-death-the-life-of/

I Watched Her Die – Part of the Entwined Saga: (Short Story)

http://www.amazon.com/Watched-Her-Die-Part-Entwined-ebook/dp/B00Q713HCE/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1417028399&sr=8-2&keywords=Rocky+Rochford

Burning For You – Part of the Entwined Saga: (Short Story)

http://www.amazon.com/Burning-You-Part-Entwined-Saga-ebook/dp/B00Q389D8S/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1417028757&sr=8-5&keywords=Rocky+Rochford

http://solsticepublishing.com/burning-for-you/

Save Her – Part of the Entwined Saga: (Short Story)

http://www.amazon.com/Save-Her-Part-Entwined-Saga-ebook/dp/B00Q38A7LK/ref=sr_1_7?ie=UTF8&qid=1417028812&sr=8-7&keywords=Rocky+Rochford

http://solsticepublishing.com/save-her/

The Devil You Know: (Short Story)

Link coming soon

A quick thank you to our kind and lovely host and to you, the readers, for putting up with me. Till next time.

Kind and lovely host thanks you, Sir Roch. Keep writing, sir.

ABF