Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Spotlight and Chapter Reveal: Echoes of Terror, by Maris Soule



Title: Echoes of Terror
Author: Maris Soule
Genre: Mystery
Publisher: Five Star


Find out more on Amazon

The latest release by award-winning novelist Maris Soule, Echoes of Terror is a taut, tense tale about secrets, deadly intentions, and what happens when murder hits way too close to home.   Set against the backdrop of Skagway, Alaska, Echoes of Terror introduces protagonist Katherine Ward, a Skagway police officer who finds herself thrust in extraordinary—and extraordinarily frightening--circumstances when her past, present and future threaten to collide in a most dangerous way.

About Echoes of Terror:  Rural Skagway, Alaska’s small police force is accustomed to an occasional crime--a stolen bike here, a DUI there.  But when a teenager goes missing, the Skagway Police force is hardly prepared, especially with its Police Chief  in the hospital and an officer missing. Officer Katherine Ward is assigned the case, never expecting it to parallel her own kidnapping experience seventeen years earlier.  Soon, Katherine realizes what originally appeared to be the case of a rebellious teen runaway is anything but.  There’s something—or someone—sinister at work in this usually quiet town and a teenager’s life is in danger.

But missing teen Misty Morgan isn’t your average teenage girl:  she’s the daughter of a billionaire.  Misty thought running off with a college boy would get her father’s attention, but now she and another kidnapped teen are praying for their lives at the hands of a ruthless kidnapper. Stuck in China on a business trip, Misty’s father suspected his daughter was up to something and asked his longtime friend, Marine veteran Vince Nanini, to fly to Alaska and stop Misty. Problem is, Vince arrives too late to stop the kidnapping, and the police aren’t eager to let him help find the missing teen.

When Katherine realizes the same man who kidnapped and raped her years ago is the one holding Misty and the other teenager, the terror of those months in captivity resurfaces.  Together, Katherine and Vince must figure out where the kidnapper has taken two teenagers, and fast.  But nothing is at it seems in this race to stop a madman before he kills again. The clock is ticking—and this time, the past is close behind. Dangerously close behind…

Brimming with tension, filled with twists and turns, and resplendent with pulse-quickening suspense that reaches a dramatic and shocking crescendo, Echoes of Terror is a bone-chilling tale that grabs readers and doesn’t let go. Award-winning novelist Maris Soule delivers a briskly paced, masterfully plotted, spine-tinglingly realistic thriller that will leave readers gasping for breath.

According to bestselling novelist Libby Fischer Hellmann, author of the Ellie Foreman mystery series, “The pace and writing will keep you turning pages. And the twist at the end?  I didn’t see if coming. Do yourself a favor and read this thriller now.”

CHAPTER ONE

7:25 a.m. Thursday
“That guy is a frickin’ idiot.”
“Who’s an idiot?”
Brian Bane glanced at the girl sitting next to him before again splitting his attention between the twisting road in front of his Chevy Blazer and the tailgating Ford Explorer. On their right the roadway dropped over a thousand feet. As much as he liked excitement, this Internet-born adventure was not starting out as he’d imagined.
“The guy behind us,” he said, keeping a tight hold on the steering wheel. “He came up out of nowhere. Now he’s all over my ass. Like there’s any way for me to go faster up this grade.”
Misty—or Miss T as she was known on ChatPlace—twisted in her seat to look behind them. Her wild, blonde curls brushed her shoulders, and her mini-skirt showed a teasing view of her inner thigh. “Shit,” she hissed through her teeth.
“What?” Brian said.
“He sent Vince.”
“Who sent Vince?”
“My dad.”
“Your dad?” Brain didn’t like the sound of that. “So who’s Vince?”
“He’s a guy Dad knew in the Marines. He’s supposed to do computer security for my dad’s business, but he keeps acting like he’s my bodyguard. I can’t do a frickin’ thing without him showing up.”
She flopped back against the seat, and crossed her arms over her chest. The fact that her old man had sent someone after her, and the way she was pouting, didn’t bode well. For the first time since he’d picked Misty up in Skagway, Brian wasn’t so certain she was the eighteen years she’d advertised.
“How old are you, Misty? Your real age, I mean.”
She glared at him, and then looked away. “Age is meaningless.”
Meaningless, my ass, he thought. Damn, I’m so screwed. He was about to take an under-aged girl into Canada. No wonder some steroid filled ex-Marine with an over attachment to the boss’s daughter was after him. He’d be lucky if he wasn’t arrested as an International felon.
“Do you think—?”
A thump to the back corner bumper sent the Blazer into a fishtail, and Brian gasped, clinging to the steering wheel as he fought to bring the car back under control. “Jeez, Misty, your dad’s buddy just rammed us.”
“Then step on the gas,” Misty ordered, giving a quick glance behind them. “Outrun him.”
“In this thing?” The old Blazer was tired iron. The first part of the Klondike Highway, from Skagway to White Pass and the Canadian line, was a twisting, turning two-laner that rose from sea level to over three thousand feet. The steep incline was already taxing the engine. They’d be lucky to outrun a snowplow through this stretch.
Again the Explorer rammed into them, this time lurching them straight toward the guardrail as the road turned. Misty yelped and grabbed at the door. Brian swung the wheel. The sensation of the front right fender grating on metal vibrated through the steering column. When they came out of the turn, the Explorer was nearly side by side.
“Your dad’s buddy is nuts! He’s going to kill us.”
“Just go faster!”
“I’m going as fast as I can.”
The powerful Explorer began squeezing them closer to the guardrail. Jaw clenched and muscles taut, Brian struggled to keep his SUV on the pavement. Adrenalin pumped through his body, a bitter taste rising to his throat.
And then his heart nearly stopped.
Just a few hundred feet ahead, the guardrail turned into a twisted, jagged strip of metal that hung limply to the ground. Open air replaced protection. One bump from the Explorer as they passed that broken section of guardrail, and they’d definitely be going over the edge, tumbling down the mountainside.
“That’s it, Babe.”
Brian pulled his foot from the gas and began to brake.
“What are you doing? Don’t slow down!”
“Forget it,” he said in disgust. Man, his friends had been right about this whole hooking up online thing. They’d tried to talk him out of it, but all Brian had been seeing was a summer traveling through Canada with a hot chick. Instead of lots of sex and partying, after this ex-Marine got through with him, he’d be lucky if all of his body parts were intact.
Brian brought the Blazer to a complete stop, his entire body shaking. The Explorer angled in front of him, preventing a forward escape. With a sigh, Brian shifted into park, and then turned toward Misty—the beautiful, sexy Miss T.
The beautiful, sexy, under-aged, Miss T, he mentally corrected. “Wouldn’t you know I’d hook up with jailbait.”
She glared at him. “So it didn’t work out. Stop whining. Vince isn’t going to do anything to you.”
“Oh yeah?” Brian sure hoped that was true. “So, what was this, just a little joy ride for you?”
“What it was is none of your business.” Once again she looked away, out the side window.
Brian stared at her for a second, kicking himself for being such an idiot, then he stepped out of the car. As he looked toward the Explorer, he wondered if he should act angry—after all, Misty had duped him. Or guilty—because he should have known she was under-age.
The other car door began to open, and Brian called out, “Listen, man, I had no idea she was—” He broke off as the man straightened and faced him. He almost laughed when he saw the bear mask . . .
Then he saw the gun.
////////////////////////////////

Acclaimed novelist Maris Soule is a two time RITA finalist who has won numerous awards for her novels over the last three decades. Born and raised in California, Maris majored in art at U.C. Davis and taught art for 8 years before retiring to raise a family. Maris and her husband divide their time between Michigan and Florida. Echoes of Terror is her 30th book.  Visit Maris Soule online at: www.marissoule.com

The Heatstroke Line by Edward L. Rubin

Title: THE HEATSTROKE LINE
Author: Edward L. Rubin
Publisher: Sunbury Press
Pages: 223
Genre: Scifi/Cli-Fi (Climate Change Science Fiction)

Nothing has been done to prevent climate change, and the United States has spun into decline.   Storm surges have made coastal cities uninhabitable, blistering heat waves afflict the interior and, in the South (below the Heatstroke Line), life is barely possible.  Under the stress of these events and an ensuing civil war, the nation has broken up into three smaller successor states and tens of tiny principalities.  When the flesh-eating bugs that inhabit the South show up in one of the successor states, Daniel Danten is assigned to venture below the Heatstroke Line and investigate the source of the invasion.  The bizarre and brutal people he encounters, and the disasters that they trigger, reveal the real horror climate change has inflicted on America.  

BUYING INFORMATION:

Amazon | Sunbury Press  | Walmart | B&N


Book Excerpt:

(Excerpted from Chapter 8)

They were in some sort of garage, with several other vehicles and various pieces of equipment scattered around.  The two men who stood beside them, watching, were the ones who had taken him out of the auto-car, one white, one black, both very big.  Three people approached from a doorway to Dan’s right.  In front was an attractive woman with blond hair, wearing an elegant leopard print dress and the long, pointed shoes that were the latest fashion.  Behind her stood a man and a woman, both much bigger, and dressed in work clothes like the two men who were guarding them.
            The woman in the leopard dress looked at her wristlink, then at Dan and Stuart, and smiled at them in self-satisfied manner.  She motioned to the woman beside her and then to one of the two guards, and they led Stuart, still complaining about his arm, through the doorway they had come from.  Then she turned toward Dan and motioned to the man beside her and the other guard, who grabbed Dan’s arms and started to lead him toward the same doorway.
            “Who the hell are you?” he said, trying to turn toward the woman.  “Are you aware that we’re part of a diplomatic mission from Mountain America to Jacksonia authorized by President Peter Simonson?  I don’t know what you’re trying to do, but if you - - - “
            One of the men let go of Dan’s arm, grabbed his cheeks to force his mouth open, and plunged a plastic gag into it.  Dan felt himself choke and struggled for breath.  The gag had a slightly sour, greasy taste.  Then both men grabbed his arms again and led him through the doorway.  Dan suddenly felt an overwhelming sense of dread, stronger even than he had felt when the men first pulled him out of the car.
            Beyond the doorway was a narrow corridor with dirty green walls covered with beads of water.  Clearly, they were underground.  The men lead Dan through the first opening along the corridor and into a small, dimly-lit room with three chairs facing a transparent plastic window.  Through the window was another room, painted grey and brightly lit.   Dan was forced into the chair at the back of the room, his handcuffs were removed and his arms were strapped to the armrests, and then, to his increasing dread, some sort of metal device was placed over his head and tightened so that he was forced to look straight ahead into the room beyond the window.  He felt saliva dripping down his chin.  The woman in the leopard dress came in, sat down in the chair placed to his left and closer to the window, looked at him up and down, then crossed her legs and turned to the window. 
            A moment later, Stuart was led into the brightly lit grey room by his two guards.  All his clothes except his undershorts had been stripped off.  He had always been slender, but now he looked emaciated and pathetic.  He was obviously in pain. Dan felt tears coming to his eyes despite his own discomfort.  The woman turned to him, smiled, and then turned back to the window.   By now, one of Stuart’s handcuffs had been removed and re-attached to a metal loop that was built into the wall.  The two guards left and Stuart was alone in the room, one arm fastened to the wall, the other hanging limply at his side. 
            With a sense of horror, but not, for some reason, of surprise, Dan saw a dark shape fly through the air and attach itself to Stuart’s thigh.  It was a biter bug, shiny black and nearly three inches long.  Stuart jumped and writhed, turning one way and the other, but Dan didn’t need to see clearly to know what was happening.  The bug’s six legs had plunged immediately into Stuart’s skin; now its two sharp mandibles, each half an inch in length, were folded under its body, tearing his flesh.  Blood welled up from under the bug, and as it moved down his leg, it left a trail of raw, bleeding flesh behind.  Stuart clawed weakly at the bug with his other arm, which was obviously disabled.  That didn’t matter because Dan knew that tearing a biter bug off your body was virtually impossible.  As soon as you started, its legs dug deeper, and you would wind up tearing out a chunk of your own flesh, which was just as painful, and somehow more awful, than letting the bug continue for the half minute or so until it was satisfied and flew away.     
            Dan wanted to yell.  He heard the words “Why are you doing this” form in his throat, but he couldn’t speak.  He tried to lift the chair to get out of the room, to smash the window, to kill the woman sitting calmly next to him, but the chair was bolted to the floor.  He couldn’t move -- he couldn’t even look away.  The first bug was gone, leaving an oozing wound behind, but two more bugs had been released and attached themselves to Stuart’s body, one to his chest and one to his arm.  Helpless and in agony, he was trying to pull away from the wall and he was screaming.  No sound came through the window and the silence, compounded by Dan’s own inability to speak, made the scene somehow more horrible. 
            Dan closed his eyes.  If there was nothing else that he could do, he could at least deny this woman the satisfaction of making him watch his friend be tortured.  Beneath his sorrow, fury and horror, he sensed another feeling, some indefinable nausea that lay deep inside him.   After a few minutes, he felt compelled to look again.  Stuart had collapsed and was lying against the wall.  There were four or five bugs on his body now, and one was on his cheek, moving toward his eye.  He was still writhing, but had also begun to shake compulsively.  Blood was oozing from bug tracks on his arms, legs and stomach, covering his body and dripping onto the floor.  He was going into shock; they were killing him.  Dan had never felt so angry or so powerless.  It was hard to believe that this was real, that Stuart was really dying, that in a few more minutes he would cease to exist.  The bugs flew away, one leaving a pool of blood in his eye socket, and then three more, five more, came flying in.  Dan closed his eyes again.  They were wet with tears; he felt himself sobbing and gasping for breath through the greasy gag. 
            Suddenly, there were people around him, three or four.  They released his head, unstrapped his arms, stood him up, handcuffed his arms behind him again, turned him around and dragged him out into the corridor.  In the process, he caught a glimpse of Stuart’s prostrate, motionless body through the window, covered in blood, with bugs still crawling over it.   Once in the corridor, he was dragged a short distance, through an opening, and into an even narrower corridor.  One of his captors opened a door and he was pushed into a brightly lit grey room.  The steady sense of dread that Dan was feeling congealed into panic.  They were going to set the bugs on him the way they did to Stuart. They were going to kill him.  He was going to die.
            His gag was removed, his handcuffs were opened, and then one arm, still cuffed, was attached to a metal loop in the wall, just the way that they had done to Stuart.  Then all the guards left the room and closed the door behind him.  He was alone.   In front of him was a large plastic window, dark and blank.  The woman was sitting behind it, he was certain, and she was going to watch as the biter bugs killed him.
            How could this be happening?  He felt a roaring in his head, he couldn’t think.  There was something he had to figure out, something he had to make sense out of, but he didn’t know what it was.  Would he really die, would he really stop existing?  What about his children and Garenika?  “If I die now, I’ll never see them again” he realized. “No, there will be no ‘I’ not to see them.  The world will come to an end.  It can’t be, it can’t be.”
            He heard the unmistakable, high pitched buzz of a biter bug flying toward him through the air.  Instinctively, he knew what to do—he had been trained in Mark Granowski’s department before he went to central Texas for a research project.  The bugs flew in straight lines when they were attacking.  He waited until it almost reached him, then slapped it with his free hand.  It fell to the ground with a sickeningly solid thud, but right side up.   Black and huge, it crawled a few inches, its long mandibles opening and closing.  Even though he had his shoes on – he realized that they hadn’t taken off his clothes – he knew there was no point trying to crush the bug; its carapace was much too hard.  After a few moments, the bug’s wings started vibrating, it rose up in the air, and flew toward him once more.   Again, he slapped it and it fell down right side up.   The hideous thing crawled a few inches and rose up again.  Once again he slapped it and it thudded to the ground, right side up again.  Its wings vibrated, it rose up and flew toward him, he slapped it hard and it fell down again, this time on its back.  Immediately, he stamped his foot on it and felt the satisfying crunch as its body cracked beneath his shoe.
            But what was the point, he asked himself a moment later.  They could release another bug, five more, fifty more.  The pain would become worse and worse and he would die, just like Stuart.    No, not just die -- the world would end, there would be nothing.  The roaring in his head returned, the sense of dread and disbelief.  It couldn’t be.   He heard himself bellowing “No, No, No, No.”   There was a high pitched buzz behind him, and as he spun around, the biter bug slammed into his upper arm.  He felt its feet dig in, and then the burning, searing pain as its huge mandibles, now tucked under its carapace, began to tear his flesh.  He could only stare at it in horror.  Blood rose up under it and turned his light blue shirt sleeve sickly purple.  The bug moved slowly down his arm, leaving a track of bloody, torn up flesh, visible inside the inch-wide tear in his shirtsleeve.  The pain was unbearable. He couldn’t believe that the twenty five or thirty seconds that they bug was on him seemed so long, and he felt a moment of relief when it finally flew away, dripping blood behind it. 
            He had to organize his thoughts, there was something that he had to do, but what was it?  How could he stop existing?  Would he live somehow, because of his research?  Would he live in the memories of Josh, Senly, Michael and Garenika?  But he wouldn’t be here, there would be no world for him.  An image, a memory, suddenly came into his mind.  He was walking across the University of Utah campus with Garenika.  They had just met, he had said something to her and she laughed, in a soft, silvery tone, and he wondered if they would end up having children together.  Now he saw his home in Arches Park City.  His father was reading to him, his mother came into the room with the poster of the Milky Way, the one he had wanted and that hung in his room when he was growing up.
            After a few minutes, he realized that no more bugs had come.  A sudden surge of hope passed through him.  He was afraid to even form the thought, afraid that it would somehow preclude the actuality.  But the door opened, one of the guards came into the room with a suppressed smile on his face, removed the handcuff from his wrist, removed the other part from the loop on the wall and walked out with it.  The lights in the room suddenly dimmed.  Dan sank down onto the floor.  He took the bottom of his shirt and pressed it against the wound on his arm, as much to relieve the burning pain as to staunch the flow of blood.  He became aware that he was sobbing, but whether it was with relief or anguish was impossible for him to say.
            Several hours later, the door opened, and before Dan could react, a tray with clothing, a plate of food and an inflatable mattress was pushed into the room.  The door closed again.   The clothing was an ordinary, open collar white shirt, a pair of dark brown trousers and dark green undershorts.  Dan became aware that the front of his own pants was wet and realized he had pissed himself when the bug attacked him.  Next to the clothes was a large blue, disinfectant bandage.  Slowly and deliberately, Dan stripped off his clothes, wrapped the bandage around his arm, which immediately felt a bit better, and put on the clothes he’d been given.  Looking around, he saw an open hole in the opposite corner of the room, walked over and peed down the hole. 
            He went back to the tray, took a bite of one roll.  All at once, he felt nauseated, ran to the hole and vomited.  He couldn’t stop; he vomited repeatedly and convulsively, long after there was anything left in his stomach.  The roaring in his head returned, he felt intensely chilled and his body began shaking uncontrollably.   After what seemed like a long time, the shakes and chills subsided, but they were followed by a slowly intensifying fear.  Suppose they turned off the lights and began to fill the room with water.  He could feel himself being forced to the top of the room, feel his head pressed against the ceiling when only a few inches of air remained, feel the water filling his nose and mouth as he gasped helplessly for breath.  Suppose the walls of the room began to close from both directions, pressing against his body until he was trapped tiny, pitch black space.  Suppose they raised the temperature until searing air burned his lungs with every breath as he began to suffocate.
            Dan tried to calm himself.   He wondered if he should use Jiangtan –why hadn’t he thought of it when he was watching Stuart die -- but somehow didn’t think that it would help.  Had the bread been poisoned?  That wouldn’t make any sense.  Clearly, they meant to keep him alive.  Were they holding him for ransom or as a hostage for some political purpose?   In any case, once the Mountain American government found out about it, they would arrange for his return, he reassured himself.  He decided he should try to sleep; he was obviously exhausted.  He inflated the mattress, lay down, and closed his eyes. The biter bug wound on his arm was still throbbing and his head ached.  He tried to think his college days, of his evenings with friends, of nineteenth century novels, of Garenika, but it all seemed thin and pointless.   Finally, his thoughts returned to his early fascination with astronomy, and he pictured himself touring the moons and planets of the solar system and then venturing out among the undiscovered worlds that orbited the distant stars.



About the Author


Edward Rubin is University Professor of Law and Political Science at Vanderbilt University.  He specializes in administrative law, constitutional law and legal theory. He is the author of Soul, Self and Society:  The New Morality and the Modern State (Oxford, 2015); Beyond Camelot:  Rethinking Politics and Law for the Modern State (Princeton, 2005) and two books with Malcolm Feeley, Federalism:  Political Identity and Tragic Compromise (Michigan, 2011) and Judicial Policy Making and the Modern State:  How the Courts Reformed America's Prisons (Cambridge, 1998).  In addition, he is the author of two casebooks, The Regulatory State (with Lisa Bressman and Kevin Stack) (2nd ed., 2013); The Payments System (with Robert Cooter) (West, 1990), three edited volumes (one forthcoming) and The Heatstroke Line (Sunbury, 2015) a science fiction novel about the fate of the United States if climate change is not brought under control. Professor Rubin joined Vanderbilt Law School as Dean and the first John Wade–Kent Syverud Professor of Law in July 2005, serving a four-year term that ended in June 2009. Previously, he taught at the University of Pennsylvania Law School from 1998 to 2005, and at the Berkeley School of Law from 1982 to 1998, where he served as an associate dean. Professor Rubin has been chair of the Association of American Law Schools' sections on Administrative Law and Socioeconomics and of its Committee on the Curriculum. He has served as a consultant to the People's Republic of China on administrative law and to the Russian Federation on payments law. He received his undergraduate degree from Princeton and his law degree from Yale.
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He has published four books, three edited volumes, two casebooks, and more than one hundred articles about various aspects of law and political theory. The Heatstroke Line is his first novel.

Website & Social Links:

WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK




Monday, March 20, 2017

Book Launch Q&A: Randi M. Sherman, author of Big & Fabulous: The Life and Times of Brenda Cankles



Randi M Sherman is the award winning author of humorous fiction books.

With an eye for detail, an ear for well-tuned dialogue and an incredible grasp of the obvious, all honed while performing stand-up comedy in Los Angeles and improvisational theater in San Francisco, Sherman adds just enough bawdiness to deliver character-driven contemporary novels that will have the reader laughing, thinking and connecting with the characters in her books.

A native Californian, Randi makes her home in California's wine country. Trying her hand at country living Randi describes herself the Eva Gabor of the Sonoma/Napa area.

Randi earned a Bachelor of Science Degree from Chapman University.

WEBSITE & SOCIAL LINKS:

WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK


About the Book:

The time for BIG & Fabulous, The Life and Times of Brenda Cankles is now! The emphasis is on positive body image, Big & Fabulous is a truly entertaining story that’s strongly written, funny, insightful and bitingly smart. Inside it’s covers, readers will find no shortage of acidly hilarious
accounts of the highs and lows of living life inside a big and fabulous body.

Imperfect, impervious and improving Brenda Cankles is an unlikely heroine. Unfazed by the enduring censure of society, she is determined to realize the fabulous life that she has always believed is her destiny.

Brenda’s story – written in unflinching first person – is utterly unvarnished. Here, find a fantastically real person, sometimes struggling to fit in, but mostly giving the rest of the world the mother-lovin’ bird. From her clunky childhood, through her stumbling yet optimistic adolescence to her full figured and unapologetic emergence into adulthood. Brenda is a special brand of warrior. She is big, bold and beautiful. While the quirky cast of characters who surround her is eternally insistent that Brenda live her life in the background and fit into society’s mold, she will have none of it.

Author, Randi Sherman’s experience as a stand-up comedienne is evident as she delivers, BIG & Fabulous, The Life and Times of Brenda Cankles, the hilarious, often laugh-out-loud novel about the inner most thoughts Brenda Cankles, a very real character who is confident and brave enough to expect the world to accept her on her terms.

BIG & Fabulous, The Life and Times of Brenda Cankles is Sherman’s fifth novel, her fourth THE LOBBY has won 17 Awards for Humor and General Fiction.

Watch the book trailer at YouTube.

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble


After your book was released, what was the first thing you did when getting ready for your book launch? 

I wrote a detailed promotion plan. In it, I compiled contacts, emails, websites, tv & radio producers and bloggers to contact. I made my social media plan and who, what, when and how to contact everyone and I created a timeline and budget for promotions and ads.

After that, what was your next step?

After celebrating - I wrote press releases and launched my promotion plan


Did you do anything different to spice up your website in lieu of your upcoming book release?

In preparation of the launch, I refreshed my website, moved things around, added new colors, added new pages for the new book and included any early reviews.

Did you ever consider using a PR agency to help you promote your book or did you prefer the DIY route?

Promoting an indie book is an uphill battle as it is. I used a PR agency in the past. It fed my ego more than it helped promote the book. It was expensive and I found that they used tools that are available to me if I looked hard enough for them. Their “contacts” didn’t really pay off. This time I started early and built a solid contact list planned to use tools that worked in the past and took time to develop new ones. I became my own PR agency. Let me warn you. It’s practically a full time job.

Were finding reviews a top priority for you and, if yes, how did you approach that? 

Reviews are important and they’re helpful and I work hard to get them, however it is not THE top priority for me.

What are your views on social media for marketing your book?

I loathe using social media but it’s a necessary evil for book promotion. It’s always changing and the learning curve seems to be a vertical line.

What social media has worked best for you?

What works for me may not work for other authors. I suggest that each author look at the statistics and metrics. Some author’s readers use twitter, or Instagram while other authors’ audience uses facebook or pinterest.


Did you write a press release and do you think it worked for you?

Yes, press releases work for me. I write several - each geared for a different audience and for different reasons and goals.

Did you revamp your author’s page at Amazon in any way to prepare for the launch (https://authorcentral.amazon.com/)? 

Just updated it a little - not much

Did you have other books you offered for free in order to help sell your present book?

I do giveaways all of the time.

Did you set up book signings and, if so, how did that work for you?

As of yet, I have not set up any book signings for Big & Fabulous, The Life and Times of Brenda Cankles. Last year, I did a do book signing at Book Expo America for my book The Lobby. People seemed excited about the book and I believe it received a few reviews from it. I felt like an author. It was a great experience.

Did you create a book trailer? 


Did you time your book launch around a certain holiday? 

I did not launch during the holiday season.  I like to launch my books in late winter or early Spring - they are great beach-reads.

What was the best money you ever spent on your book launch?

Champagne, press releases boosts and my trip to BEA.

Any tips for those authors wanting to set up a successful book launch?

Plan your promotions, focus on a set audience (you can always expand from there) and be patient. Smile politely and say “you should” when everyone seems to say “You know, I could write a book,” as if it’s an easy thing to do. But most importantly - celebrate your accomplishment. You wrote a book. It’s published. You are friggin’ a super hero!


Monday, March 13, 2017

Spotlight: 'White with Fish, Red with Murder,' by Harley Mazuk


WhiteFish_RedMurder Final.jpgTitle
: WHITE WITH FISH, RED WITH MURDER
Genre: Mystery
Author: Harley Mazuk
Publisher: Driven Press
Purchase on Amazon
About the Book:
P.I. Frank Swiver accepts an invitation from a wealthy connoisseur to attend a wine tasting on a private rail car. The host, General Lloyd Thursby, entices Frank with an offer of much-needed work, and the other guests with the promise of a pour of a rare California wine, Ravensridge Blackbird Noir.  On board, Frank, accompanied by his secretary and lover Vera Peregrino, finds an old flame, the recently widowed Cicilia O’Callaghan, among the guests.  It turns out that Thursby wants Frank to investigate the murder of his good friend, Rusty O’Callaghan, Cicilia’s late husband.  But all does not go as planned:  General Thursby is murdered before the wine tasting has even begun. Locked into the private carriage and steaming north from San Francisco, the guests proceed to pull some corks and theorize who among them could be the killer. The cops arrest Vera for Thursby’s murder and while she languishes in her cell, Frank’s renewed affair with Cici heats up.  But another murder follows and Frank realizes that his romance with Cici is poisonous.  He’ll have to change his perceptions and find the real killer—or lose both Cici and Vera…and maybe even his life.

EXCERPT:
A few lights were on in the lounge; I could see burgundy wallpaper with dark wood trim. To my right were two dining tables, each with four seats, and on the left an upright piano with a light oak finish. Beyond that, a group of folks sat in the far end of the car. I led Vera partway down, until the man facing us spoke.
“Ah, you must be Frank Swiver,” he said.
“I am, and this is Vera Peregrino.” There were nods and greetings, and the man who had spoken rose. I strode across to shake his hand.
“Lloyd Thursby,” he said. He was an older gent with gray hair and clear, alert blue eyes. He wore a camel hair topcoat draped on his shoulders like a cape, over a dark brown, well-cut suit. He stood a couple of inches taller than me, maybe six foot two, and he carried himself ramrod straight, so he appeared even taller. I had the idea he was fit and powerful for his age. “This is my majordomo,” he gestured at a man standing near the rear corridor of the train car, “Fenwick.” He was younger and three or four inches shorter than Thursby.
Fenwick stepped forward. “I’ll take your bags, sir.”
I gave him my duffel and Vera’s suitcase, and when he reached out his arms to take them, his sleeves slid up, revealing thick, dark hair on the backs of his wrists and hands. He carried the luggage into the corridor, and his wrists stayed down out of his sleeves making his arms appear long and apelike.
General Thursby held out his left hand toward a dame in a chair on my right. “This is Sally DeBains.” She was well dressed and well coiffed, fiftyish, and blond—though I suspected the hair color came out of a bottle.
“How do you do?” she said. She had plenty of ice on her fingers, and I clasped the hand she extended and gave it a light kiss. I thought about biting one of the rings, but she didn’t strike me as a big Three Stooges fan.
“I’m well, thanks,” I replied. “How do you do?” More jewelry drooped around her neck, and she obviously had gained a couple of pounds as she aged. She may have been shaking her maracas a bit lower than she used to, but she had probably been a hot number twenty years ago. For my money, she was still hot enough.
Thursby stepped back toward his chair and extended his right hand. “Over here, allow me to present Marcus Aurelius Wolff, our philosopher, and a fellow collector.”
Wolff was a huge, fat man, whose bulk blocked much of the light from the window behind him. His three-piece charcoal  pinstriped suit oozed polish and quality, and he held a pearl-gray hat in his lap. Although it was cool, and I still had my trench coat on, the fat man was perspiring. He beamed and drew a silk hanky out of his breast pocket, then wiped his bald head.
“An honor, sir, an honor to meet you,” said Wolff.
I assured him the honor was all mine. “A collector of what?” I asked.
“Why wine, Swiver, wine, of course.” Thursby laughed. “That’s what brings our little group together, you know. We taste wine, we savor it, we debate about it.”
“And what do you do, sir?” Wolff asked me.
“I drink it.” I gave him a grin.
Thursby stepped in. “Frank is a writer working on my biography.” Writer was as good as anything. General Thursby had enclosed a hand-written note with his invitation:

Swiver,

I hear you know a little about wine, but that’s not the only reason I’m inviting you to my tasting. I’d like to hire you. I’ll brief you about the job on the train. You can bring another operative if you like. Make it look as if you’re along for the party—I don’t want to tip my hand. Whether you take the case or not, I’ll pay you for your time and you’ll get to taste some good wines.

Thursby

That was all I knew; it wasn’t much, but it was enough to get me there. I hadn’t had a case for weeks, other than the contract work at the hotel, and I needed the money. He didn’t want to tip his hand. I would play along.
“Miss Peregrino is my research assistant,” I said. Vera smiled.
And so we circulated around the room and met the guests, and Vera and I shook hands like a couple of politicians at the Orange County Fair.
And then as the introductions were coming to an end, I saw her, to my left, by the piano. A short black dress, low cut, raven-dark hair, emerald eyes that almost glowed, over robust cheekbones—it was Cicilia Ricci, girl of my dreams.
“And last, this is Cicilia O’Callaghan,” the general went on. “Cicilia—”
“We’ve met.” A chill ran up my spine.
“Hello, Frank. It’s been a while.”
“Fourteen years. You look good, Cicilia.” The widow O’Callaghan, formerly Cicilia Ricci. Her hair was cut a little shorter than when I knew her—wavy on top, parted in the middle, and falling down to her shoulder blades in curls. Her dark eyebrows curved high over her big eyes in graceful roman arches. She’d been seventeen when I met her; she’d be thirty-two now. No longer a budding teenager but a woman in her prime, and more ravishing than ever, if that was possible.
“You look well too, Frank.” Her voice was deep, smoky, seductive. It was Cici’s normal voice.
I shook another Pall Mall out of the pack and fumbled with a box of wooden matches like a nine-year-old trying to light up in the schoolyard. “Having a little trouble, Frank?” Vera noticed. She tilted her head down and to her right, and angled an eye up at me, amused. She relieved me of the matches, struck one and held it out, steadying my hand as I lit up.
C’mon, Swiver, get a grip on yourself. You’re on a case. I clenched and unclenched my fists, and turned away from Cicilia to face the general.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Spotlight: Ghost Touch (Touch by Afterlife Book I), by LA Dragoni

For fifteen minutes each night a portal opens in Tamara’s barn and a horde of ghosts spills into her yard. She and Dex work together to find a way to help Cal and the thousands of spirits stuck in the void to cross over. When she learns she has the ghost touch—the ability to touch the ghosts as if they were corporeal—and she accidentally helps a little boy cross, she believes it might be possible. But not all the spirits play nice and when they learn they can sip energy from her ghost touch, they become greedy putting her life at risk.

Each time Cal has to pull her from the mass of ghosts, her touch restores him more and more until he is at danger of being stuck on earth—forever, which is very enticing to Tamara the better she knows him. Will she and Dex figure out how to help the spirits cross and if they do, will she be able to let Cal go?

This new adult paranormal romance is available in ebook, and audiobook from Amazon, and now available in print!
Also available on Barnes and Noble, Kobo, iTunes, and other e-tailers.

Excerpt:

The newest face in Tamara’s latest nightmare was about to be revealed when a loud SLAM woke her. Still anxious from the events of the night before, Tamara had slept lightly all night. She pulled the shotgun from where she’d tucked it under her bed, slipped into a pair of sneakers and headed out to the barn. The hairs on the back of her neck rose when she found Ruff cowering and whimpering in front of the doors where he’d sat menacingly the night before. She hesitated as she drew up next to him. A faint blue light seeped through the crack between the large doors. There were no windows on the front of the building, so there was no way she could know who was in there or where they were. Even though it would be embarrassing, she decided to call the police again.
As she turned toward the house, the large barn doors swung open. Her heart kicked into high gear. She leveled the shotgun, pointing it straight at the doors as they glided open on their own accord, hoping the sight of the gun would be enough to scare the intruder away.
An unnatural blue-white light spilled outward, making her squint. Blinding bright in the center, it faded to murky shadows in the corners. Tamara’s heart all but stopped when shapes developed within the bright center. A crowd of people surged forward, scattering in all directions across her yard.
There were so many. Panic filled Tamara while she tried to figure out what to do, how to defend herself against so many. Who were all these people? Why had they been in her barn? Why is that man digging?
“Hey, stop!” she yelled.
A woman in a torn red dress stumbled up the hill reminding Tamara of herself in last night’s dream. The woman’s long blond hair streamed behind her in the windless night. She continually glanced over her shoulder, a terrified expression gnarling her beautiful face, though no one pursued her.
Then a single man sauntered forward, his attention intent on Tamara. The bright light behind him made it impossible for her to make out any detail, but his manner seemed equal parts commanding and relaxed. Her heart fluttered madly, and she felt the muzzle of the rifle dip toward the ground as she considered fleeing. A flat, wide-brimmed cowboy hat sat straight on his head. Well-worn leather chaps covered his bowed legs. Strange clicking noises accompanied him across the lawn. As he drew closer his image sharpened. When Tamara saw his face, she lowered the gun barrel. “Sheesh, I am dreaming.”
She looked into the skinless face of her latest nightmare.
“Ma’am, I can assure you, this is no dream.”

Reviews:

LA Dragoni weaves several interesting and unique premises about the afterlife into this story -- and the love triangle is only two parts living! The story has eerie, vivid descriptions of the ghosts, and the emotional turmoil of all three of the main characters is very well defined. Dragoni provides an awesome villain to hate and then masterfully manages to change the reader's opinion of the villain.


There are several twists and surprises in the plot, and the ending is satisfying but absolutely leaves questions that hopefully will be answered in a subsequent novel.


-Hall Ways blog


About the author: LA Dragoni isn’t too particular about who falls in love or where they fall in love. She simply considers it her job to capture the story about their love. Whether it’s paranormal, mythical, or time travel, LA will be there to divine their story for you. She lives in Central Oregon with her husband and children, but haunts ghost towns and cemeteries up and down the west, in search of the next adventure to sift through her storytelling brain. Follow LA on Facebook and Twitter. Subscribe to her mailing list and learn more about LA and her work at www.ladragoni.com

Friday, March 10, 2017

Alan 2 by Bruce Forciea



Title: ALAN 2
Author: Bruce Forciea
Publisher: Open Books
Pages: 278
Genre: Cyber-Thriller

A brilliant artificial intelligence (AI) scientist, Dr. Alan Boyd, develops a new program that integrates part of his brain with a computer’s operating system. The program, Alan 2, can anticipate a user’s needs and automatically perform many tasks. A large software company, International Microsystems (IM) desperately wants the program and tempts Dr. Boyd with huge sums of money, but when Dr. Boyd refuses their offer, IM sabotages his job, leaving him in a difficult financial situation.

Dr. Boyd turns to Alan 2 for an answer to his financial problems, and Alan 2 develops plan Alpha, which is a cyber robin hood scheme to rob from rich corporations via a credit card scam.

Alan and his girlfriend Kaitlin travel to Mexico where they live the good life funded by plan Alpha, but the FBI cybercrime division has discovered part of Alan 2’s cyber escapades, and two agents, Rachel and Stu, trace the crime through the TOR network and Bitcoin.

Alan 2 discovers the FBI is on to them and advises Alan and Kaitlin to change locations. A dramatic chase ensues taking them to St. Thomas, a cruise ship bound for Spain, and finally to Morocco. 

Will they escape detection? They will if Alan 2's Plan Beta can be implemented in time. Or is 'Plan B' something altogether different than it appears to be, something wholly sinister that will affect the entire population of the world?
Watch the trailer at YouTube!

Purchase Information:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Publisher

EXCERPT:

Bang! Bang! Bang! The flimsy apartment door rattled on its frame with every blow.
“Kaitlin, don’t even think of answering that!” Alan growled through his teeth.
Kaitlin shrugged her shoulders and moved away from the door toward the living room where Alan sat at a table full of electronics gear.
“Dr. Boyd, are you home?” shouted the voice on the other side of the door in an Indian accent. “I want to talk to you. I have a very good offer. Please, Dr. Boyd, it will only take a minute, and I think you will be quite pleased with what we have for you.”
“Go away; leave us alone,” Alan shouted. “I don’t want your offer.”
“But Dr. Boyd, we do pay very well. We are great admirers of your work.”
“I don’t care and I don’t want your money,” said Alan. “Now go away before I call the police.”
“Think about it, Dr. Boyd; I will be in touch.”
“Incessant bastards,” said Alan as his attention turned back to his work. “I’ll cherish the day they leave us alone. Kaitlin, come over here and help me with this injection.”
Alan rolled up the sleeve of his t-shirt while Kaitlin picked up the syringe containing the gadolinium contrast. She pinched an ample section of skin and plunged the syringe into his arm. The needle stung like an angry wasp, causing Alan to grimace.
“Can’t you be gentle? You’ve done enough of these by now to get the hang of it. You shouldn’t jam it in like that!”
Kaitlin rolled her eyes and shook her head. “I think I do pretty well considering I don’t have any medical training,” she said while jerking the syringe out of his arm.
“Okay, okay. Just take your position at the console.”
She sighed, plopped onto a small task chair and rolled over to a makeshift wooden table holding a desktop PC and a large high-definition monitor. She had been through this process countless times before.
Alan entered a large metallic structure in the center of the living room. The box-like structure, made of aluminum, dominated the rectangular room which was devoid of furniture. Its dull silver hue contrasted the blank walls. He closed the door and climbed into a chair that looked like it came from an early Gemini spacecraft. The stiff plastic chair, sandwiched between two large metal discs, afforded a good deal of postural support but little comfort. He sat down and slowly slid his head between the thick metal and plastic arms of a large U-shaped device. There was just enough clearance as he wriggled his head to achieve the perfect position. He pulled down on a large metallic tube suspended above him so that it surrounded his entire head. He positioned the tube so that the rectangular slit lined up with his visual axis, allowing for a line of sight to the monitor located outside of the tube. The small fMRI scanner had taken a good deal of time and money to cobble together, but it was the only way to capture the needed information from his brain.
Alan viewed Kaitlin through a small round Plexiglas window in the door and signaled with a thumbs-up to begin the scan. She waved and entered the start sequence into the keyboard, sat back, slid an unlit cigarette between her lips and picked up a copy of People Magazine. He pushed his head back against the headrest and adjusted the monitor suspended on a boom so he could see the screen. The machine first hummed as it powered up and then made periodic knocking sounds.
Alan focused his attention on the monitor while the scanner began its first sequence. The monitor displayed a series of images designed to evoke emotions. Each image popped onto the screen and persisted for ten seconds before another replaced it. There was a small child holding hands with his father, a mother holding a baby, a couple admiring their child in a crib, and many more. All the images had been chosen to trigger emotional responses, causing changes in blood flow to certain areas of Alan’s brain. An image would appear for a few seconds and then the machine would complete a scan.  The process repeated until all one hundred twenty-seven images had been displayed. The entire cycle then repeated two more times with random sequences of the same set of images.
This would be the final scan involving diffusion tensor imaging of Alan’s frontal lobes. Previous scans had involved the study of responses to a variety of topics. In addition to emotions such as sadness, joy, anxiety, and fear, there were cognitive studies that examined Alan’s problem solving techniques as well as his reaction to global events. In all, there were over one hundred fifty scans taken over the past two years. 


About the Author

Bruce Forciea is known for taking complex scientific concepts and making them easy to understand through engaging stories and simple explanations. He is an Amazon Best Selling Author and author of several books on healing and biology, along with science fiction thriller novels. His fiction writing draws on a diverse and eclectic background that includes touring and performing with a professional show, designing digital circuits, treating thousands of patients, and teaching. His stories include complex plots with unexpected twists and turns, quirky characters, and a reality very similar to our own. Dr. Forciea lives in Wisconsin and loves writing during the solitude of the long Northern winters. 

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