Friday, 22 June 2018

Leah's Story: A #LiteraryFiction #Novel by C.M. Huddleston

Connie M. Huddleston loved history and dreamed of writing a book even as a child. However, she got sidetracked. She became an Army wife, a mother, an elementary school teacher, an archaeologist, and a historic preservation consultant, before publishing her first book! In 2018, she published her eleventh and twelfth volumes, all dealing with her first love, our nation’s past. Five are fiction, four for children and one for YA/Adult, all under the name C.M. Huddleston. Her other works are histories for adults on a variety of subjects including three about President Theodore Roosevelt’s maternal family.

Now a full-time author, Connie resides in a log cabin near Crab Orchard, Kentucky, with her husband and their Australian Shepherd Katie. They all enjoy the quiet of rural Kentucky. Except when Katie barks at deer, turkeys, and of course, the UPS truck!


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About the Book


Leah's Story tells of an African-American girl born on a rice plantation, who grows up serving her rich owners in Georgia. Her life, like so many others, could have ended there were it not for a bit of education and Emancipation, which gave her, and later her children, opportunities to fulfill their dreams. Told in journal form, taken down by the mysterious “Miss Elliott,” Leah’s personal history comes to life like the tiny birds she carves, revealing a lifetime of love and opportunity amidst a culture filled with hardship, pain, and loss.

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Keep reading for an interview with the author:


Why did you decide to be a writer?


Writing was my childhood dream. I think many avid readers dream of putting their own characters in a book, telling their own story, and becoming known for making people want to read their books. Despite this dream, life got in the way, and I was almost 60 when I printed my first book. Now I have twelve in print!

Did you have a hard time sharing your work with the public?


Not until this most recent book, Leah's Story. I was told I was the wrong color to write about slavery. However, I felt that more than twenty years of archaeological and historical research into the South's African-American slave plantations gave me the necessary background to address the subject. My own imagination could fill in the rest.

Where are you from?


Currently, I live in rural Kentucky. I just recently discovered the very rich writing community in nearby Berea, a town and college known for its artistic ventures and support. I am now working to join that community.

Do you have a "day job"?


I'm a retired school teacher, archaeologist, and historic preservation consultant. Now I get to write full time!

What genres do you write?


Nonfiction history for adults. Middle grade, time travel historical fiction and historical fiction for teens and adults - Can you see I love history?

Is there a genre that you've been wanting to experiment with?


I think I'd just better finish up all the books I have started. No new genres for me, although, I joke with my daughter, a science-fiction author, that I'm going to write a steamy romance just so I can make some money!

If you could be one of your characters for a day, who would it be and why?


Oh, I would be Rose, the female lead in my Adventures in Time books. Rose and Greg can time travel into history. I think that's really every historian's and archaeologist's dream. What better way to explore and learn history than to see it happen.

What is the oddest thing you've ever researched for one of your books?


How to harness oxen to a wagon! Thank God for YouTube videos!

What is the most difficult thing you've ever researched?


Slavery. Even after twenty years of reading first-hand accounts and scholarly research, I often find the information to be heartbreaking.

What authors have most influenced you?


Robert Morgan's "Boone: A Biography" Morgan was/is a novelist and his biography reads like a novel. It showed me how you can transform history into a readable subject.

When did you first consider yourself an author?


Before my first book, I was the author/co-author of over twenty archaeological reports. But I truly felt like an author when, in 2014, I published "Greg's First Adventure in Time." Of, course, winning a gold medal from Literary Classics in 2016 for the book certainly re-enforced that feeling.

What are you working on now?


I am finishing the edits of "Greg's Fourth Adventure in Time" and working on two new historical novels, one middle-grade and one adult.

Wednesday, 20 June 2018

Veznek: A #SciFi #Novel by Andrew Gates

Formerly an on-site educator at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC, Andrew Gates is now a Virginia-based science-fiction writer and magazine contributor. He is best known as the author of the Color of Water and Sky series.

Gates has always been fascinated by science-fiction and fantasy ever since he was a kid. His writing style has been compared to that of Isaac Asimov, author of the Foundation series. Gates's multiple POV writing style focuses on world-building and large scope politics. Though his stories take place in a fictional world, his characters are realistically portrayed and grounded in reality.

When Andrew Gates is not writing, he enjoys running competitively and watching films.


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About the Book


Kholvaria has been attacked. Its greatest city destroyed. A cloud of debris now covers the void once filled by Vigilant Behemoth. In the wake of this unexpected assault, the Chiefdom’s leadership is promptly evacuated to a fallback shelter beneath the surface. But the horrors of the Behemoth’s destruction cannot be forgotten. Here in the grimy confines beneath the Earth, Kho Veznek, second-in-command of the Chiefdom, will stop at nothing to claim vengeance on those responsible for his city’s destruction… even if that means going through his own people to do it. As tensions mount between the ranks of humans and Kholvari alike, the fate of the world comes to its ultimate tipping point.

Author’s Warning: This novel contains scenes of graphic sexual trauma and physical torture and is intended for mature audiences. Reader discretion is advised.

Veznek is the third book in the Color of Water and Sky series by Andrew Gates.

Get it today on Amazon!


Keep reading for an excerpt:


Veznek
The biochemist held the stopped vial in his right hand, staring at the vivid color as it gleamed in the light. It looked so pure, like a cloudless sky on a sunny day. It was hard to believe this small sample of liquid could be the key to saving humanity.

It had been too long since there had been any hope.

“It’s beautiful,” Carla added, leaning in over David’s shoulder. She pressed her human hand against his back, comfortingly. “Now just don’t drop it.”

“Very funny, Carla. You know if I dropped this thing, that’s years of research down the drain.”

David carefully placed it back in the tray. Good, he thought, it’s secure.

“I know, I know,” she replied. “I’m just giving you a hard time. I know how much this moment means to you, to the world.”

“It means a lot. That’s why I made a backup. I put it in that case over there,” he said, motioning to a black box on a rack.

“And here you had me worried.”

David removed the safety goggles and turned to face her.

As always, Carla’s robotic left arm was first to catch his eye. It extended well past the sleeve of her lab coat, almost a full hand’s length longer than her natural right arm. The metallic prosthetic came in handy when working with hazardous or heavy equipment. If resources had been what they used to be, David would have gotten the same procedure for himself.

Today Carla wore a lab coat with a pink t-shirt underneath. He always liked the way pink looked on her. It complimented her rosy cheeks and thin lips. Carla’s short brown hair appeared unkempt, suggesting she had gone without a shower for far too long. David guessed his own hair did not look much better.

Vigilant Behemoth
“Now doctor, if I didn’t know any better, I’d say you were eyeing me up,” Carla noted.

David smiled as he stood to join her.

“Tracking my eye movements, are you? I know you have enhanced vision, but it’s not that good.”

“Oh, you can’t be so sure, mister.”

They leaned in and shared a kiss. Her lips felt soft against his. They held this moment for a few seconds. For the first time in a long time, David felt truly at peace.

“You did it,” she said, congratulating him as they pulled away. “Your formula… it’s done! It’s all done.”

“Mostly done,” David admitted. “Testing on squirrels is one thing. A live human is…” He shook his head. “Very different.”

“It’ll work,” Carla said, reassuringly. “I know it will.”

“It had better,” he replied. For all our sakes.

Monday, 18 June 2018

Broken Lives: A #Mystery #Novel by Cesario Picca

I'm Cesario Picca, I was born and bred in Salento (South Italy) thanks to my parents Francesco and Antonia. For 25 years I worked as a crime and judicial reporter, now I devote my time to my thrillers.

I have already published (2005) the juridical essay Ungagged - the developing concept of freedom of the press.

My love for thrillers blossomed with Murder in the Tremiti Isles (She, the other and death…) in which the main character is a reporter from Salento, Rosario Saru Santacroce, who is involved in a femicide. But you can also find Saru Santacroce in the thrillers Gioco mortale - delitto nel mondo della trasgressione (Because transgress also means dying…), Il dio danzante - delitto nel Salento (It is hard to deal with our own certainties…) and Broken Lives (The monsters from the past destroy the future…), a psychological thriller set in London, dedicated to victims of abuse and inspired by Criminal Minds.

In 2002 I was awarded the Piero Passetti prize for Chronicler of the year. I’m a speaker or moderator at numerous conferences and participate in many radio and television broadcasts.

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About the Book


The monsters from the past destroy the future…


A monster from the past reemerges in the present destroying the lives of three young students and engaging in a fight against time with the promising Scotland Yard detective, Sonny D’Amato, in charge of solving the difficult case. The suffering of someone who as a child doesn’t know about love but suffers only abuse can turn into the worst nightmare when it triggers that dangerous stress factor that makes anger push a person to cross the hellish threshold of no return. Thanks to the precious help of the coroner July Pence, the detective digs in the past in search of the logical thread that will allow him to solve the intricate enigma. He will most likely get the promotion that he feels he deserves, but without being able to rejoice. In fact, his soul will be hostage to the pain emanating from this sad inquiry that will make him lose sight of the difference between the victim and the executioner. Because, as Alexandr Solzhenitsyn wrote, “the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being”. Set in London, Broken lives, the new thriller by Cesario Picca, sees once again the reporter from Salento Rosario Saru Santacroce looking for news to inform the readers about these crimes which are worrying a city already wracked by terrorist attacks.

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Keep reading for an interview with the author:


Why did you decide to be a writer?


I’m a crime and judicial reporter and I work breathing crimes, murders, thrillers and suspense so it was not difficult to start writing. But I think there’s always a turning point in our life, the right moment to start doing something and I was looking for it. I started in 2004. It was a frozen evening and I was waiting for police to explain what happened in an apartment where an old woman died. The real story turned the beginning on in my mind. So I started thinking about a thriller and I wrote it.

Do you have a "day job"?


Yes. I'm a journalist, I create events, I'm a problem solver so I work with lots of enterprises

What genres do you write?


Thrillers

Is there a genre that you've been wanting to experiment with?


I love mystery and suspense so I've not still thought about another genre

What inspires you to write?


I’m a crime and judicial reporter and when I write I’m inspired by the reality, by my work, by what I see and I hear, by the life. I love hearing, seeing and feeling what happens around me and I write it in a romance way. I mix real-life experiences and imagination. But I think reality is the most important mine we can draw fully from

What books have most influenced you?


I always read thrillers but as I said the reality is a good mine.

If you could choose an author to be your mentor, who would it be?


Criminal Minds' creator because inspired me to write the psychological thriller Broken Lives

What are your goals as an author?


I will be very happy if I will be alive, and I can continue to enjoy my life, amusing readers of my thrillers

Does your family support you in your writing, or are you on your own?


Yes, my family supports me.

What is the best compliment you've ever received as an author?


The best compliment is when readers tell you the liked your thrillers.

What do you enjoy doing aside from writing?


I love footing. Until now I have run 12 marathons all over the world. A good way, in my opinion, to relax, feel good, think and avoid putting on weight especially if you love eating and cooking like me. I like travelling and knowing people, new point of view, new cultures, new feelings. In my opinion, the best way to spend money. Then I love reading. In the past I read lots of politics and historical essays, now I prefer thrillers. And, if I can, I love the other half of the sky…

If you were stranded on a deserted island, and you could only have five books with you, what would they be?


I usually read classics and Bible. I don’t have a favorite author. It depends on the moment and on my readings. In the past, I read Edgar Wallace, Ellery Queen, Cornell Woolrich, Arthur Conan Doyle, Agatha Christie, Jeffery Deaver, John Grisham, Ken Follett.

What made you decide to self-publish?


I don’t like the policy used by traditional editors. Particularly, I’ve never found a serious or professional editor and so I decided to become an indie author. In this case, I am grateful for the Internet and its revolution which is breaking the mortal grip of traditional editors where a connection can make the difference. I don’t think all indies will become writers like someone say because readers (and market) always give you your real value. But a good prayer and some luck can help to be successful.

What fears do you have about writing and being an indie author?


I think self-publishing is a challenge and I love challenges.

What is your writing process?


I write when I feel the story and I go.

Friday, 15 June 2018

Altered Seasons: Monsoonrise - A #SciFi #Novel by Paul Briggs

Paul Briggs learned to read and write when he was two, the same time he was learning to talk. He spent the next twenty years learning that nobody talks the same way they write, or vice versa.

He lives in Easton, Maryland, has a master's degree in journalism from the University of Maryland, College Park, and is the author of two middle-grade science fiction novels, "Locksmith's Closet" and "Locksmith's Journeys." He is working on the concluding volume of the trilogy, "Locksmith's War." Paul has also written several short plays, two of which ("The Worst Super Power Ever" and "The Picture of Health") have won awards.



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An unexpected chain reaction in the climate creates a new weather pattern, bringing devastating floods every autumn after the droughts and heat waves of summer. Follow five people in their struggle with this new environment.

Carolyn Camberg is trying to save America.

Henry Pratt is trying to save his administration.

Isabel Bradshaw is trying to save her family.

Walter Yuschak is trying to save freedom.

Sandra Symcox is trying to save the world.

Who will survive? Who will succeed?

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Keep reading for an excerpt:


“So you’re the analyst,” he said. “What’s your name?”

“Isabel Bradshaw, sir.” Her mind raced. Had Martineau called her in here because he didn’t trust Eveland and the others anymore? Or was it just that the news was so bad he needed to hear it from as many different people as possible before he accepted it?

“Get over here.”

Sketch of Isabel
Isabel stepped over to his desk, trying to ignore the unmistakable aroma of real coffee coming from the cup on his desk. Then she glanced at the computer screen and made an involuntary noise in the back of her throat that sounded like “eep.” The screen was divided into four parts. The silver-haired man watching from the upper right, bronze-framed reading glasses perched on his nose… You have got to be kidding me, she thought. She’d just barely managed to work herself up to speak in front of the governor of Louisiana and the head of the Corps, and now they’d brought in President Pratt himself… and whoever those other three guys were? But then, the ORCS really was that important.

Martineau quickly introduced them. They were the secretary of the interior and the mayors of New Orleans and Baton Rouge.

“It’s an honor,” she said in a voice that came out a lot smaller than she’d intended. From the looks of the wall behind him, Pratt was on Air Force One right now. She thought about telling him she’d voted for him, but decided not to.

“You’re the one who’s been collecting the info and running the simulations?” said Martineau.

“Yessir.”

“Tell everybody what the situation is.”

“All right,” she said. “With near one hundred percent certainty, the water will crest over the top of the Low Sill tomorrow. As of noon today, we estimate a sixty-four percent chance some part of the ORCS fails.”

There was a long, long silence after that.

“This is the worst-case scenario, right?” the governor finally said.

Isabel glanced at Martineau, hoping he’d say something. He looked expectantly at her. She glanced at Roth and Horrocks. Roth kept his face neutral. Horrocks shook her head.

Crap. They hadn’t told him. Isabel sighed. For her next trick, she was going to make her career disappear. At least she had a hell of an audience.

“Actually, sir, this is the best-case scenario,” she said.

As one, Eveland and Hickman rose to interrupt.

“What she means is, it’s an aggregate of possible—”

“Our analysts are trained to think in terms of—”

“Quiet,” said Martineau, not loudly but firmly.

As one, Eveland and Hickman shut up.

Martineau stood up and clapped a hand on Isabel’s shoulder. “I want everybody but this young lady out of the room now.”

Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Angel of Destruction: A #Fantasy #Novel by Virgil Debique




Virgil is an aspiring author who has travelled extensively and uses his experiences to build fantastic and imaginative worlds for his readers.

Using his own personal experiences and taking inspiration from his travelling, Virgil draws upon everything he has seen in his life to create fantastic worlds and insightful characters. An engineer by trade, Virgil has always enjoyed writing, but only recently found the time to follow his passion.

As a self-published author, he has several stories already available for the Kindle, but he has been concentrating on fulfilling his lifelong dream of publishing a novel. With the novel almost complete and several other ideas sketched out, he is on his way to achieving his goal.

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We follow an assassin who was born of deceit and betrayal. Feeling bitter and angry against the world, Salabane decides to find the one responsible and bring him to justice for his actions. So starts his quest, from the floating city of Elysia to the caves in Dhandaruhm, his journey brings him face to face with his enemy. An enemy that has responsibilities to the people, but Salabane’s thirst for vengeance must be quenched.

This book is about those we look up to and how they should be held accountable for their actions. When in power, there is a responsibility to those you are responsible for. ‘If you want to know a man’s worth, ask not his equal, but those beneath him.”

Get it today on Amazon!



Keep reading for an interview with Salabane, a character from the book:


Where were you born, and what was it like growing up there?


Apparently, I was born in a small village called Lohlin. My earliest memories are of growing up in the Sanctuary with the priests.

Did you have a close relationship with your family?


I never knew any of my family growing up. For years I had assumed I was an orphan, my family gone.

What is the happiest memory from your childhood?


I don’t really have any. My time at the Sanctuary was pleasant and I was taught a lot, but there wasn’t really any time for fun. There were always chores to do.

Who was your best friend growing up?


I never had any, but if I had to choose, it would be the priests who taught me.

Who is your enemy?


My enemy is still unknown to me, but I will find him. It is the thing that drives me. He took away my chance of a normal life. He took away my family and made me what you see before you.

Tell us a little about your world, and where you fit in?


My world is like most other worlds. We have kings and queens, witches, sorcerers, good people, bad people and then we have those that watch down on us from above. The angels.

Me? I’m just a small person in a large world looking for revenge. On my quest, I will have to face those who most people fear.

What is the most important lesson you've learned about life?


That you can only depend on yourself. Trust no one and hold no one close to you.

Do you have a secret you've never told anyone?


We all have secrets, it’s part of being human. Unlike most, my secrets are too horrific to discuss in polite company.

If you could change something about yourself, what would it be?


I would change everything. I was made this way through circumstance and brutality. I would want parents and friends, but that is never going to happen.

If you had one day left to live, what would you do with your last day?


I hope that happens after I have found my enemy. My only goal in life is to find the one who made me and hold him accountable.

Monday, 11 June 2018

The Illumination Query: A #SciFi #Novel by Sarah Baethge

I was born in Houston in 1982. I grew up in Texas and Louisiana. I was an intern for Lockheed-Martin out of high school and got to work on computers at NASA Houston. I graduated with a national merit scholarship in 2000. In November of 2000 I was in a car wreck that left me in a coma for 6 months. After waking, I have written and self-published short fantasy and science-fiction stories.

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About the Book


The Eclipse is a company of evil.

Ronald Carpenter finds himself stuck helping them after they assist him.

Dr. Nigel Hunter gets caught up in mad experiments for The Eclipse, and doesn't know how he can escape once the company turns on him.

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Keep reading for an excerpt:


To regard bats as evil is silly, or so I’d always thought. However, when I came upon that dark shrieking, flapping cloud of shadows, the parts of my life that I’m most ashamed of started.

Before I ever got into business with The Eclipse, most people who saw me at work would say I was a zookeeper. I worked at The Central Park Zoo, in New York City. I might not have ever studied as a vet, but I probably do know some less ordinary bits of animal care that are slightly beyond what is needed for your everyday pets.

I suppose some would have no qualms with calling me a trainer, but I didn’t really train anything. That sounds to me more like what you would call someone who is putting together circus or theme-park shows.

I have actually heard some people say that using animals in such a way is cruel, but those performance animals are generally more loved and better cared for than many a child’s small pet in a cage (you know, that fish or hamster who can get left alone to starve if, perhaps, it’s owner might become a little distracted by something unrelated...)

Because I can usually get along well with animals myself, I was more than happy to spend my time working to provide the feeding and cleaning up that their comfort and display requires. Sure I dealt with escapes a time or two, on a need-be basis- if and when it happened, but dealing with escapes could hardly even be listed as the description of what my job was.

And while you could say that my successful escapee-recovery efforts ultimately led to the change there was in my career, you might also argue that the resourcefulness I used in my problem-solving chained me inescapably into serving as a zookeeper wherever it was that I finally ended up.

My name is Ronald Carpenter. Back at that time, I’d lived in New York for all of my life. I happened to be working, like I said, at The Central Park Zoo, at the time when I first noticed that something had changed in my working environment. On that day, I had one of those automatic split-second thoughts that I felt slightly reluctant to try explaining to someone else.

Don’t make me ask you to get your mind out of the gutter- my thought can hardly be construed as anything other than innocent. The idea that whizzed through my head as I heard the short motor run for the automatic bat-enclosure food-dispenser was: ‘That sounds too green.’

Friday, 8 June 2018

Texas Banker/Oklahoma Hunter: A #Narrative #Nonfiction Book by Ken Mixon

Ken Mixon was raised in Atoka, Oklahoma and graduated from Atoka High School in 1974. He attended Oklahoma Baptist University and graduated in 1977 with a degree in business administration. He has an extensive career in banking that began in 1977 as an auditor with First National Bank in Oklahoma City. From there he worked at a variety of different banks and concluded when he became President and CEO of City National Bank in Corsicana Texas, where he remains today.

Ken is a member of First Baptist Church in Richardson and is very proud to be a Rotary member in Corsicana. One of his biggest passions is being involved in selecting the high school senior to receive the Corsicana Rotary Scholarship each year. Ken is a big fan of the Dallas Mavericks, Dallas Cowboys, and Oklahoma Sooners. He enjoys hunting and fishing and being with family and friends.

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About the Book


Who do you think of when you think of a banker? Perhaps you think of the bankers trying to foreclose on Kevin Costner's farm in Field of Dreams? Bankers are usually portrayed as jerks who are trying to foreclose on widows and orphans. I have been a banker for nearly forty years and I want to show you some different sides to one banker - me.

I come from a family of storytellers, from my father's mother's family, the Gillhams. When a Gillham told a story at the campfire, you could feel the heat of the sun beating down and hear the calling of an owl just as if you were there.

The stories in this book are half from banking and half from my hunting, my dogs, and my childhood. Some of the stories are humorous, some are serious, and some are a little of both. As you read, you will hopefully share my puzzlement as I listen to a loan request, feel the pounding of a buck's hooves on the dirt as it gallops toward me, and hear my father's whistle. If you do, I have accomplished my goal in writing this book.

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I discovered Roy’s con game when I reviewed a loan that the Garland bank had made three years earlier. The customer, Bill, had retired from a major corporation after working there for forty-five years. Bill had a nice retirement plan and he had managed to save quite a bit of cash over his lifetime. Bill had always wanted to own his own business and that is how he met Roy in 1985.

Roy had purchased a closed car wash a year earlier. He had replaced the equipment and put the eight bay, self-service, car wash for sale for $500,000.

Roy met with Bill and Bill agreed to purchase the car wash for $475,000. Bill came to the Garland bank and agreed to put 20% down ($95,000) so he could get the loan. He had a great credit score of 800 and a significant personal financial statement so he got the loan.

I got involved with Bill and this loan three years later. Bill came into the bank a few months after I became president of the bank. Bill sat down with me and explained that the car wash was not bringing in enough money to pay half of the payment on what was now a $345,000 loan. He had been withdrawing cash from his savings for three years in order to pay the bank. He said he did not want to default on the loan, but that he had exhausted his savings and that he did not see any other alternative. He was a good man and he was ashamed to be in the situation he was in.

We foreclosed on the car wash. It took me some time to piece together what had happened, but I did figure it out eventually.

Roy’s staff greatly inflated the income that the car wash would produce. Neither Bill nor the bank nor the appraiser had any expertise in car washes so no one questioned the income information. Later, I figured out that Roy had under $200,000 invested in the car wash when he sold it so he made a profit of $275,000 on the sale.

In Bill’s case, he purchased a car wash for $475,000 that should have sold for a price closer to $225,000 (based on the actual income figures we had after he owned it three years). Bill was a good man who was fleeced by an excellent con man.

If the cash flow projections had been based on real numbers, it would have been clear that the car wash could not provide the income to pay a loan of $380,000. The appraisal, based on real numbers, would have been closer to $225,000 rather than $475,000. Roy had figured out how to “game” the banking system.

Roy discovered that he could con the buyer and the bank if there were five key things in place when a buyer was purchasing a business from him. The keys were that (1) the purchaser had to have good credit, (2) the buyer had to have at least 20% cash to put down on the purchase, (3) the business had to have no current verifiable income figures, (4) the purchaser must have no experience in the particular business he is purchasing and most importantly, (5) Roy’s staff had to inflate the projected income to a number that would cover the payment at least 1.25 times.

The most amazing thing about this story is that Roy continued to con people in this manner for the next thirty years. In each case, it appears his company would use the same inflated projected income approach as well as the other keys mentioned above. He and his company would get sued on occasion when the businesses failed, but he continued to play his con game. You may wonder what finally stopped him after all those years? He died.

I would not wish death on anyone. Roy took people’s dreams of owning their own business and turned it into nightmares. He cheated many fine people and cost banks in North Texas millions of dollars in losses. He will not be missed by me.

Wednesday, 6 June 2018

War Party: An #Action #Adventure #Novel by J Drew Brumbaugh

J Drew Brumbaugh lives in northeast Ohio where he spends his time writing sci-fi, fantasy and suspense novels, teaching, and training at the karate dojo he and his wife founded, building a Japanese garden in his backyard, and taking walks in the local metro parks. He has five novels in print, a collection of short stories, and a co-authored children’s book. He continues to work on his next book and seems to always have several stories in various stages of completion.







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A terrorist plot is underway on American soil. There are clues but the FBI remains several steps behind the sleeper cell. A determined journalist has clues too but can’t zero in on where or when the terrorists will strike. The only one who knows what is about to happen is a Native American high school boy who saw it in a vision. Who will believe him? What can he do?

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Keep reading for an excerpt:


Chapter 1
Paiute Reservation, Utah, Thursday the 9th, Early Evening


Tommy Galiwee gripped the horse's ribs firmly with his knees and raised himself up high enough to scan the landscape ahead. His dark eyes burned with fire, his long black ponytail swished in the hot, dry breeze that kissed his dark cheeks, cheeks that already bore traces of weather lines. Legends of Geronimo filled his head. For the moment, Tommy envisioned himself as a proud warrior contemplating his enemy and the ensuing battle. Somewhere hiding among the rocks up the dry wash the white cavalry waited in ambush. An adrenaline rush surged through Tommy's veins. The thrill of battle seized him as it did every time he fought the enemy in Cavalry Canyon.

Glancing behind him at the imaginary war party waiting for his signal, he raised his right arm high, holding his bow proudly overhead. With a loud war whoop, he dug his heels into Chief's flanks and the dusty tan, old mustang charged down the dry riverbed. The horse still had some spunk in him and, drawing intensity from his youthful rider, was momentarily transformed into the warhorse of Tommy’s fantasies. While his body rose and fell in tune with the galloping horse, Tommy deftly brought his bow down to ready position. Expertly he pulled an arrow out of his handmade deerskin waist pouch and nocked it in his well-used Bear 60-lb compound bow. He drew back ready to fire on the first white soldier he saw.

Griping the modern bow, Tommy wondered whether the Apaches could have held off the white onslaught a bit longer if they had had bows like this.

Down the deepening draw they flew, the walls climbing up around them. Interspersed between the gray, dried scrub brush, black boulders of volcanic rock littered the dry riverbed forming a natural obstacle course. Tommy loved to race through the twists and turns on Chief’s back. The pair dashed down the center of the wash, gliding left then right as they weaved around the bigger rocks. Chief flowed over smaller rocks in the middle of their path, sailing over them as if he could fly. The faithful horse drew strength from somewhere; his old bones always seemed to grow younger when Tommy took him out for war games. Maybe the horse, too, dreamed of battle.

Monday, 4 June 2018

State of Grace: A #Romance #Novel by Elizabeth Davies

Elizabeth Davies is a paranormal author, whose books have a romantic flavour with more than a hint of suspense. And death. There's usually death...

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About the Book


A time-travel vampire romance.


Grace has a terminal brain tumour and will die in the next few months. Roman has an addiction to blood, and could possibly live forever.

Grace is twenty-seven years old. When they meet in the twelfth century Roman is several hundred years old.

And Grace has another problem - she's from his future and neither of them believe it.

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I didn’t need to open my eyes to know I was in the little bed in the cottage. I didn’t need to open my eyes to know I was alone. I knew what he was. All the pieces of the puzzle that was Roman fell into place and I accepted it with ease, surprised at how little fear I felt.

When I stretched, my bruised muscles protested. My throat was sore from Godfrey’s near strangulation, my stomach was tender from his punch, and my head ached, but I’d never felt so good, so absolutely at peace.

It was still daylight and I speculated on how long I’d slept. Although time appeared immaterial here, I missed the comfort and predictability of my watch. My life had been so bound by time I found it difficult to let go of the inexorable motion of the minute hand. It seemed important to know the hour, yet knowing the time was the least of my worries.

Vampire.

The knowledge echoed in my mind, lying in wait to ambush me when I tried to think about something else, catching me unawares. I analysed my conclusion, probing it for weak spots; he was incredibly fast – check; unnaturally pale – check; stronger than any human had a right to be – check. And he drank blood.

My hand strayed to my left breast. I gingerly touched the twin holes his teeth had made in my fragile skin. To my surprise they were partly healed. I craned my neck to look, pushing down the scratchy blanket. Yup – if I didn’t know better I would have thought they’d been made a few days ago. I wished I had a mirror because straining hurt my neck. It also made me cross-eyed.

I thought some more.

He was incredibly handsome, and the attraction was far more than just good looks. Wasn’t that supposed to be one of the signs of a vampire? Perhaps that was why there weren’t any mirrors in the cottage, because of the reflections. I put a tentative tick in another box.

I hadn’t seen him eat or drink anything, except me. And he had a sort of ‘alien-ness’, an other-worldliness about him. They both did. If Roman was a vampire, then Viktor had to be one, too. Then there was all that talk about ‘their kind’ and ‘humans’, and the mention of living for centuries. Weren’t vampires supposed to be immortal?

Friday, 1 June 2018

Drunken Angel: A #Suspense #Thriller by Charles Stoll

Charles Stoll was born on Long Island in 1956. He began to write seriously at sixteen as therapy when several friends died in a fire. In high school, he won a national award in writing (N.C.T.E.) and was granted a scholarship to Syracuse University. Charles was in the Honors Program and joined the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity. A favorite writing professor challenged him to write three books in three years to hone his writing skills. He accomplished that goal forty years later when life stopped interrupting.

“My pet peeves: books I feel that I’ve read before, that repeat the same ideas ad nauseum, that don’t answer questions they pose and that have characters that are blatantly good or bad. In my books, I try to place all the truths I have discovered in my own life. My characters have not only bodies, but minds and spirits and their own philosophy of life. The novels all offer fresh perspectives, insightful observations and a deeper message. My objective is to leave the reader with a deeper sense of the wonder and the mystery we call life.”

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About the Book


Daisy Perlman is the uneducated, unloved daughter of a whore. Lacking any comfort or trust in her life, she develops a philosophy of life from her walks through the woods. She makes many mistakes due to her circumstances, including murder, but she becomes the best-loved murderer and one of the most respected citizens in the town of Marmalade. Drunken Angel is the story from the eyes of a serial killer who regrets her actions later in life when she knows better. But it is precisely Daisy’s ignorance of the civilized world and her lust for life that will make you love her, too.

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Keep reading for an excerpt:


* 1985 – Age 72 *


The old man sputtered and pointed a liver-spotted finger toward the door. "Get out of my room and let me die in peace." He sniffed at the air as if the sanitized smell would kill him.

"You don't mean that, Old Man," his niece said, mascara running down her cheek. “I'm too old to take your crap anymore.”

"Maybe it's my fault. I've always protected you from reality. I should have let you face the monsters that were always there." He mimicked a menacing animal to make her laugh. He realized she was forever lost to him.

She remained stoic. "You were the only monster I faced. If it weren't for you, I wouldn’t be walking with a limp today.” She pulled a hanky from her purse and blew into it.

“Stop your fucking crying. I wish you didn't react that way to every fucking little problem. I couldn’t just let you wind up a spineless faggot. You were too stupid to know how people would’ve treated you.”

“How dare you?” She spat at the man and threw her tissue at his face. Then she composed herself and faced him. “This is your last chance for forgiveness. I was the only member of the family who was willing to speak with you, but even I am at wit's end. So, if there're any regrets you wish to relay to your family, tell me now.”

"Yeah, my whole fucking life was regrets. None of it went the way I planned. Any satisfaction I ever got was cheap and fleeting. Your aunt was the bane of my existence. She demanded things I couldn't provide."

He looked around the pleasantly furnished room as if he was in hell. His niece nervously shuffled her feet, avoiding direct eye contact with him. He strained to lift himself up in the bed, but his muscles felt paralyzed. He continued, "I'm not sorry about what I did, Anna. I was the only one who had the balls to stop you before you made a big mistake."

Her face reddened, and she slapped the man hard. “You don't get to say that anymore. If I had the strength, I'd strangle you myself, right now. But it's better I just go and never think of you again. It's up to Daisy now to do the rest.” She started toward the door.

"What the hell do you mean by that? And who the hell is Daisy?" His face began to sweat profusely.

Her silence was his answer. Then her eyes darted nervously about the room, her face full of resignation. "Listen, is there anything I can get you before I leave?"

"No! It's a little late to start paying attention to my needs now. Just leave me here to die.”

His hand reached out for her, but she remained by the door. His speech grew more distant, but impassioned. “I only wish to know what lies on the other side now. Either I will fade into oblivion or all the answers to life's questions will be revealed to me." He looked giddy, repressing laughter. "I'm going on life's greatest adventure, far more daring than anyone can go on in this physical life." He laughed out loud and stared right through her. "But all of us take the ultimate trip in the end. Are you even a little bit jealous? Want to come with me?"

"You are a piece of work. You always manage to take me to a darker place. You never knew what love was." She fell into a chair and wept uncontrollably. “At least, I’ve found love in this world with Angela.”

He snorted. "You’ll never learn. Girls shouldn’t be with girls. But you’ll just continue to sniffle and blubber your way through life. Just acknowledge what has happened and move on.” He shot her a look of disgust and then looked away. “Most of all, never lie to family.”

"Sometimes people lie to you for your own protection," she cried.

"The truth doesn't always take you where you need to go. Sometimes, it just leads to pain…or even death.”

"You still should have told me—"

She walked back to the bed and reached over to grab his hand, but he pulled it away. “There are times when you just have to let others make the important decisions for you. I learned long ago I could never trust you."

"Not this place. I don't deserve this."

"It's for the best, Mr. Hoffman," she said.

"You should have told me—"

"I forgive you."

She ran from the room past Daisy Perlman who was lingering by the door, nodding her head in sympathy for the words she had overheard. Daisy, a large formidable woman with short orange curls and an innocent-looking face full of freckles that belied what lay beneath, entered the room and approached the man on the bed.

A frail, thin woman with short black hair accompanied her. She darted behind the man as Daisy commanded his full attention. The old man attempted to raise himself up on one arm to confront the larger woman. With nimble dexterity, the thin woman injected a small syringe into his left arm. He fell back and lay unconscious.

“Now you will be more compliant,” Daisy said.

Wednesday, 30 May 2018

Once... A #Fantasy #ShortStory Collection by Ronel Janse van Vuuren




Ronel Janse van Vuuren is the author of New Adult, Young Adult and children’s fiction filled with mythology and folklore. Her dark fantasy stories can be read for free on Wattpad and on her blog Ronel the Mythmaker. She won Fiction Writer of the Year 2016 for her Afrikaans stories on INK: Skryf in Afrikaans. Her published works can be viewed on Goodreads.

Ronel can be found tweeting about writing and other things that interest her, arguing with her characters, researching folklore for her newest story or playing with her Rottweilers when she’s not actually writing.




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About the Book


Damsels in distress, curses, echoes of faery tales and tragic love affairs swirl together in sixteen stories found in a dragon’s lair by a curious half-fae.

Unexpected changes to reality cause more than one damsel to turn into a strong, independent woman who takes charge of her own life.

A collection of short stories about Faerie and the fae that live in the human realm. A few of the stories had won competitions and all of them had enchanted readers.

Learn their secrets and enter the realm of the fae…

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Keep reading for an interview with the author:


Did you have a hard time sharing your work with the public?


Yes. Joining online writing groups like Wattpad and INK forced me to share my writing with others while honing my skills with their writing competitions.

What genres do you write?


Dark Fantasy, with New Adult and Young Adult as sub-genres.

What is the oddest thing you've ever researched for one of your books?


I research a lot of folklore for my stories, all of it odd, but I think when I had to research the nutritional value of worms it got really weird. One of my characters from "Once..." loves fried worms for breakfast. It turns out it isn't all that strange: worms are a staple food in many communities.

When did you first consider yourself an author?


When I won "Fiction Writer of the Year" on the writing platform INK: Skryf in Afrikaans. It was the first time I knew that my writing was making an impact.

What are your goals as an author?


In five years I would like to be able to make a living from my writing. I want to have a proper backlist and a dedicated publishing schedule. (I've already mapped it out.) Taking over the world doesn't sound too bad, either ;-)

Do you prefer ebooks, print or both?


I like ebooks for non-fiction (unless it's a workbook type) and print for fiction.

What made you decide to self-publish?


I'm from South Africa, which makes getting an agent quite difficult (we have none so I have to query overseas). After winning a publishing competition last year hosted by a local author services company, I knew then that my writing is liked by more than just my family and friends. It was my aha! moment to become an indie author.

What is the best thing about self-publishing?


I get to choose what to write, what to publish, when to publish, who to work with and what the cover will look like. I like the idea of being in charge of my own destiny. It's a powerful feeling to know that getting published doesn't rely on anyone but myself.

What fears do you have about writing and being an indie author?


That I'm deluding myself or running a great con. Getting amazing feedback on my writing -- I got a 5-star review from a book blogger for "Once..." -- helps me dispel those fears. Also, I'm part of the Insecure Writer's Support Group that meets monthly -- it really helps to know that I'm not alone.

Do you write in first or third person, past or present tense, and why?


I prefer to write in limited third person and in past tense. It helps to stay focused on the main character and bring in a bit of mystery -- after all, with a limited view, you only know what the main character knows even if you can guess at what others are thinking when they interact with the main character.

Do you write about real life experiences, or does everything come from your imagination?


My stories start off with something real, but by the time I'm done with it, the story reads like pure fantasy. I like to layer my stories with the real and the imagined.

Do you ever base your characters on people you know?


I have. It makes for fun writing -- especially tormenting a nemesis or "fixing" something in someone's life. Not that I can name names or hint at the stories... You never know when someone might take offense. I can admit, though, that all the faery dogs are based on my rottweilers.

What are you working on now?


A Young Adult retelling of "Snow White" in Afrikaans for the Sanlam Youth Literature Prize. It deals with loss, friendship, love, and other issues teenagers deal with.

What inspired your current work?


I wanted to share the story behind the changes in Faerie and how it influenced the mortal realm when magic and fae were let loose. It is a sort of prequel to other (yet unpublished) books I've written.

What was the hardest part about writing your latest book?


Having to feel the emotions of the various characters as their stories developed -- it made for great plot twists, but I had to deal with emotions not my own.

Friday, 25 May 2018

Sleepless Flame: A #SciFi #Cyberpunk #Novel by Odin Oxthorn

A chronically bored spooky creature, Odin dabbles in a strange array of interests to keep their wandering brain in check. When not writing under the influence of caffeinated drinks and sugary snacks, Odin can be found escaping reality with video games or getting their fingers tangled in a mess of threads and needles. Provided their cats do not scatter the contents of their workspace across oblivion, Odin also creates beaded jewelry and video lessons on YouTube.







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About the Book


How much havoc could one upstart young Upworlder create?


Thirty years after her exile from her homeworld, Nara was growing weary of the monotony of mercenary life: Do job for Company A, anger Company B, survive the inevitable retaliation. Repeat ad nauseam.

Most importantly, try hard not to anger Galavantier Corp again.

Evading the reach of the ubiquitous Biotech enterprise in the shadows of the Undercity was easy enough. That is, until the unconscious body of the CEO's heir lands at her feet.

Both ignorant of their mutual vendetta, the brazen noble offered a proposal: help him escape Uppercity, and he'd buy every tool of destruction her heart desired. But it was the danger that tempted Nara, not money.

As their business relationship evolves into a tenuous comradery, Nara is thrown into the jaws of her most ruthless adversary. She must now decide what to do with her strange bedfellow-and hope to survive the aftermath.

Sleepless Flame is a faced-paced action-packed scifi story that features a nonbinary protagonist. Follow the exploits of a disgraced war criminal as they navigate a vibrant cyberpunk world full of corporate intrigue while using fascinating automated combat technology and computer skills. Great for readers who enjoy Bladerunner and Shadowrun games.

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“Ouch! –Oof, yeah?” a voice squeaked through the box.

“It’s Nara. Got something I need.”

“Oh, hi! Come on in.”

After a series of cluttered crashes, screeching metal, and intermittent distressed yelps from the intercom, the door buzzed open. Nara heaved the vault open, waving a hesitant Garrett inside the dark corridor.

With a heavy, echoing clunk, the cavern burst with light, revealing a techno geek’s wildest fantasy. Wires and computer parts were haphazardly strewn all over the floors and the walls, emulating a nest of an enormous gadget-obsessed vermin. Half-built robotics and cybernetic body parts stood vigilant amid the labyrinth of cluttered workbenches overflowing with tools and broken electronic boards. Glinting LEDs flashed sporadic, garbled messages, illuminating the path with a rainbow of jarring beacons.

Making their way gingerly through the shiny perilous mess, the duo entered a clearing in the madness occupied by a desk and a few chairs, also piled with half-finished projects. A scrawny young man emerged from the chaos, bits of shredded circuitry slung around his neck. Upon noticing the visitors, he hastily removed the wiry adornments, placing them on top of a teetering pile.

“What can I do for you?” he asked cheerfully, wiping his hands clean on his jumpsuit.

“This is Art,” she said to Garrett, gesturing toward the technophile. “Art, this is an annoying little sod who keeps following me around.”

“My name is Garrett, actually.” He offered his hand to Art, who energetically shook it. “I hired Nara as a bodyguard.”

“An Upworlder, eh? Well, you certainly have an eye for quality.” The quirky man scratched his nose, leaving a black streak of grease on his tawny beige skin.

“Need a Hawk kit for the armor.” Nara tossed over the newly purchased badge.

The glinting projectile landed squarely on Art’s chest, causing him to perform an impromptu flailing dance as he fought with his limited coordination. He raised it to his face, scrutinizing the serial number on the back of the case.

“Whoa, nice! It’s one of those new Nexuz models,” Art marveled, the enthusiasm radiating across the room.

“It does what I need it to. I don’t care who made it,” Nara stated.

“You know, I could probably tweak its performance a little,” he offered, her remark falling on deaf ears as he mentally tore apart the device. “Make it a bit sturdier, if you know what I mean.”

“You break it, you buy it at double cost,” she warned.

“That’s not fair. You know me well enough.” Art jabbed a defensive finger into the air.

“Exactly. I do know you well enough.” She sighed with a defeated wave. “Eugh, do what you want. It isn’t on my tab.”

“Really? Awesome! You will be totally psyched with what I can do with this thing.” Art’s eyes lit up with glee. He then met Garrett’s worried expression and restrained his excitement with a cough. “Don’t worry, it won’t cost much. I should be able to get what you need in a few minutes. Just let me do this one thing and . . .”

Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Is This Me? - A #Romance #Novel by Tricia Copeland

Tricia Copeland grew up in Georgia and now lives in sunny Colorado with her family. In addition to the award-nominated Being Me series, her books include Best Book Award Fantasy Finalist series, The Kingdom Journals, Lovelock Ones, a post-apocalyptic dystopian adventure, and Drops of Sunshine, a YA paranormal novella. Find all of Tricia’s books on her website!








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About the Book


Have you ever chosen a path that led you astray?


Amanda has no trouble choosing a college or picking a major. What she does have a problem with is what she would have least expected, a guy. Smart and sexy, Doug is focused on school responsibilities and post-graduation plans. Their paths intersect and Amanda must accept his help or risk losing her scholarship. Determined to maintain appearances, Amanda begins to lie to family and friends. The ease at which she repeatedly deceives those closest becomes disturbing and leaves her questioning: “Is this me?”

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Keep reading for an excerpt:


“You stink, and I already took a shower,” Lila squealed, bringing me out of my trance. Ross grabbed her and slung her over his shoulder, carrying her across the lawn and towards the house.

Mark tapped me on the shoulder. “Hey, I need a shower, too. I’ll be back in a few minutes. Do you want to hang out here?”

He’s abandoning me? In front of two good-looking, shirtless strangers? “Sure,” I heard myself say.

Thankfully, he stood there a minute longer. “I’ll grab a round of drinks.” He darted away.

“Nice spike there at the end,” I commented to Zack.

“Thanks. I see you have a shadow.” He bent down and patted the dog still glued to my leg.

Excusing themselves to replace their shirts, Doug and Zack once again towered over me. Even in my wedges, the top of my head barely reached the middle of Zack’s chest.

Zack spoke before the silence became obvious. “So, Amanda Avery of the famed Avery sisters?”

“In the flesh.” I waved my hands past my legs, not quite sure where he was going with the conversation. Obviously they knew their alums.

Doug continued in an Elizabethan tone. “The beauty of the Avery girls has inspired many brothers to greatness.”

“I’m just glad no one remembers when I flashed everyone on the front lawn when I was three.”

“Your reputation is still intact.” Doug winked at me with his blue eyes.

Mark approached with three plastic cups filled with amber liquid. I wondered if this counted as taking an open drink from someone. At the very least, it went against the no alcohol rule. Not even six hours in, and I was already contemplating being an illegal drinker. Maybe I needed that orientation more than I thought.

Even though I didn’t like beer and had never drunk a whole glass, I wasn’t going to stand there and do nothing. The sip I took tasted bitter, and I hoped my face didn’t betray my attempt at a relaxed facade.

“Not that great, is it?” Doug asked.

“It’s relatively cold.”

Zack held up his cup. “Cheers to that.” Doug and I did the same, and we clunked the cups together. “If I may, my lady, I’m not sure you’re going to maintain your virtue drinking that.”

Doug punched Zack. “Dude.”

I winked at Zack. “Maybe you should stick with flattery and leave Shakespeare to Doug. You have to stay in your niche.”

I was surprised how comfortable I felt with them. Their knack for humor immediately put me at ease, despite their magazine model aura. “So do you guys do this routine on a regular basis?”

Zack held his cup out. “This is a one-time only special showing. If we hope to win the heart of an Avery girl, we have to be creative.”

“And there are only two of us left to be wooed.”

“We would be nothing without your inspiration.” Doug bowed towards me, one hand over his heart.

Zack and I both faked a cough.

Doug grabbed a Frisbee from the lawn. “Frisbee?”

Monday, 21 May 2018

Saving Dabba: A #Mystery #Novel by Randy Rawls

Randy Rawls was born and reared in Williamston, North Carolina, a small town in the northeastern part of the state. From there, he says he inherited a sense of responsibility, a belief in fair play, and a love of country. As a career US Army officer, he had the opportunity to learn, travel, teach, and hone talents inherited from his parents. Following retirement, he worked in other ventures for the US Government. Every job has in some way been fun. Even the dark days of Vietnam had their light moments, and he cherishes the camaraderie that was an integral part of survival in that hostile world.

Today, he has short stories in several anthologies and a growing list of novels to his credit. As a prolific reader, the reads across several genres and takes that into his writing. He has written mysteries, thrillers, a historical, and two fantasy/mystery/thrillers featuring a Santa Elf. The count is now at fourteen and growing. He is a regular contributor to Happy Homicides, a twice-annual anthology of cozy short stories. He also has a series of short stories featuring a cattle-herding burro. Wherever his imagination will take him, he follows.

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Beth Bowman is a PI in Coral Lakes, FL who works with a homeless group. When one of them turns up brutally beaten to death, Beth feels obligated to become involved. She learns there is a group in town to demonstrate, Friends Intent on The Environment (FITE) who could be involved. Another murder occurs and evidence points to Dabba, one of Beth's friends. Beth sets her sights on FITE as their demonstrations become more violent. Cloie Morales, the leader of FITE is a formidable adversary, causing Beth to reach deep inside herself.

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Keep reading for an excerpt:


CHAPTER ONE


The first blow killed him. If the attacker had looked, he’d have seen the side of his victim’s head caved in, pieces of the shattered skull exposed. A section of one-inch diameter Number 8 rebar, swung through a full arc, tended to do that to a human head. But the assailant did not notice. His adrenalin flow was too high, his mood too joyous. He swung again—and again. After a few more cranium-crushing blows, his partner grabbed his arm. “That’s enough. Let’s get out of here.”

* * *

Beth’s cell phone went through its standard number of chimes, then fell silent. A few seconds later, it repeated itself. The third time, Beth fumbled on the nightstand, pulled the phone to her ear, and mumbled, “Hello.”

“Beth, I need you to come into the station,” she heard. “How long before you can get here?”

“Huh? Who . . . who is this?” Through sleepy eyes, she saw the call was from the Chief of Police of Coral Lakes. While she had worked with him before, his contact had always been during normal working hours, or better said, after the sun came up. She shook her head, trying to throw the sleep out of it, then rose and stumbled toward the bathroom. “Chief, what are you doing up at this ungodly hour? It’s only five in the morning. One of the things I like about being a PI is that if I do anything at this hour, other than snooze, I get my full hourly rate. Are you hiring me?”

Beth’s experience with Chief Elston began on a negative note when defense attorney John Hammonds all but ordered the chief to stand down from investigating the kidnapping of his five-year-old daughter. Instead, he named Beth to lead the investigation and recover her—at any cost. Since Hammonds had extensive political contacts in the state capitol in Tallahassee, the chief had no choice but to back off and assume a supporting role. Beth’s success raised her profile in his estimation from poor to competent Private Investigator. Didn’t put her on his A-List, but did give her a high B List position.

“Simply another early morning, Beth. It’s the job. And, no, I’m not offering you a position.” The chief chuckled. “I need you to come in though. We have a situation that might affect you.”

She turned on the cold water and put the phone on speaker. “Tell me about it.”

“Not until you’re here. It’s too complicated to tackle over the phone. You might misunderstand and do something rash.”

She doused her face with water, then grabbed a towel to dry it. “Chief, you’re not making any sense. Tell me what’s up.”

“When you get here. I’m putting together a team, and I want you involved. Soon, Beth, please.”

Beth frowned and stopped her drying action, wondering what the hidden message was. What could have happened that would cause the chief to act so strange? Since when was she important enough to be included on a team of his? But, he sounded sincere.

“Alright, give me an hour, and I’ll be there. Make sure the coffee is fresh and hot—and I don’t mean that sludge you serve in the break room. Also, have some donuts brought in. Breakfast is on you.”

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