Book Promo and Giveaway: EXIT ROW by Judi Culbertson

Exit Row by Judi Culbertson
ISBN: 9780062365163 (ebook)
ASIN: B00OG9067S (Kindle version)
Publication Date: March 22, 2016
Publisher: Witness Impulse (a HarperCollins imprint)


Judi Culbertson returns with a page-turning mystery that answers every frequent flyer’s fear: What happens if I never make it home?

Journalist Fiona Reina had every intention of picking up her boyfriend, Lee, from the airport and heading out for a nice dinner together. But when Lee isn’t on the plane, Fiona begins to get nervous. It seems Lee isn’t the only passenger who never arrived. Three other people are also missing. Worse, it seems they were never on the flight.

With no help from the airline, it’s up to Fiona and the friends and family of the missing passengers to discover what happened—and, more importantly, to find Lee. But when Fiona receives a mysterious note—It happened in between Denver and Taos—the patchwork team is thrust into a dangerous race against time…a race that could cost them more than who they’ve already lost.



Meet the author:


Judi Culbertson draws on her experience as a used-and-rare book dealer, social worker, and world traveler to create her bibliophile mysteries. She has co-authored five illustrated guides with her husband, Tom Randall, of such cities as Paris, London, and New York. She is also the author of the acclaimed nonfiction titles Scaling Down and The Clutter Cure


To learn more about Ms. Culbertson, please click here for the author’s biography.


Connect with the author:  Website










Enter to win a digital copy of Exit Row by Judi Culbertson. This giveaway is brought to you courtesy of the publisher, Witness Impulse (a HarperCollins imprint). Thank you HarperCollins for your generosity. This giveaway is open to residents of the US only. 

Giveaway ends 11:59 PM ET on Saturday, April 2, 2016, and the winner will be announced on Sunday, April 3, 2016. All entries must use the Rafflecopter form found below.

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 Exit Row

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Exit Row

Book Promo: BLESSED ARE THOSE WHO MOURN by Kristi Belcamino



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<span style="font-family: Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 16pt; line-height:

115%;”>Mystery / Detective
ISBN:  9780062389428 (Ebook)
ASIN:  B00SG1ELNW (Kindle version)
Date Published: September 29, 2015

Publisher: Witness Impulse / HarperCollins Publishers

San Francisco Bay Area reporter Gabriella Giovanni has finally got it all together: a devoted and loving boyfriend, Detective Sean Donovan; a beautiful little girl with him; and her dream job as the cops’ reporter for the Bay Herald. But her success has been hard-won and has left her with debilitating paranoia. When a string of young co-eds starts to show up dead with suspicious Biblical verses left on their bodies—the same verses that the man she suspects kidnapped and murdered her sister twenty years ago had sent to her—she begins to question if the killer is trying to send her a message.

It is not until evil strikes Gabriella’s own family that her worst fears are confirmed. As the clock begins to tick, every passing hour means the difference between life and death to those Gabriella loves…




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<span style="font-family: Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 12pt; line-height:

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<span style="font-family: Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 12pt; line-height:

115%;”>Saturday

The setting sun turns my family into dark silhouettes as I step onto the warm sand. The beach is nearly deserted, except for a lone figure walking north of us along the sand where the waves are crashing in from the Pacific Ocean.

A cool breeze makes me glad I trekked to the car to retrieve my daughter’s little lavender parka. We promised her we’d stay until the sun set.

Donovan’s back is turned, phone held to his ear. He’s pacing in his bare feet, his jeans rolled up, a scowl on his face from what he’s hearing. A murder. Every once in a while he glances back at Grace kneeling in the sand playing.

Grace has dug deep channels with a small red shovel, chatting to herself, weaving tales about mermaids and sea creatures and fairies. She bounces a plastic dinosaur along the sand, a prize won in kindergarten for reading two books in one week.

Everything I’ve ever wanted is on that beach—Donovan and our daughter, Grace. My own little family. My life.

I’m still far away, closer to the parking lot, when I see the figure walking along the shore is growing closer.

It’s a man. His shadow, with its elongated arms and legs, stretches across the beach until it seems to take on a life of its own. Something about his movements seems angry and frenetic—instead of the wandering gait of a casual sunset stroll—and sets off small alarms in my head. I walk faster, the sand seeming to reach up and grab at my ankles, slowing my progress.

Donovan’s pacing takes him in the opposite direction, away from Grace. He’s not paying attention to anything besides his phone call. The man is now closer to Grace, who seems alone on the beach, although Donovan is twenty feet away. Donovan squints up into the pink and orange clouds, raking a hand through his perpetually spiky hair.

The man’s path takes him straight toward Grace. My heart races. I can’t tell for sure, but it seems like he’s watching her. He walks at a determined clip, covering ground much faster than me in my flat, strappy sandals. I lean over in mid-stride and rip a sandal from one foot without stopping. Then I scoop up the other in one fluid motion.

Still, each step feels like my bare feet are being sucked into quicksand. I hurry, but feel like I’m moving in slow motion.

“Grace.” I shout, but my words are carried away on the wind. I’m breathless from fighting the sand tugging at my feet. The breeze, which has grown stronger in the past few minutes, whips my hair.

Grace’s brown ringlets bob as she hops her plastic dinosaur around, not noticing anything else.

Donovan isn’t far from Grace, but now the man is closer.

At the same moment Donovan turns and sees the look on my face, the man reaches Grace. His long shadow falls over her small figure. She looks up with a smile and starts chatting. He leans down. His hand reaches toward her, his fingers millimeters from her arm. A wave of dread ripples through me. My feet feel cemented into the sand. My mind screams, but no words come out of my open mouth. Inside, I’m flailing and thrashing to get to Grace, but on the outside, I’m struck immobile.

The man reaches down and grasps Grace’s arm, turning her toward him, and the spell is broken. I’m on wet sand running, the scream caught in my throat coming out as a birdlike garble. I scoop Grace up onto one hip and take a step back. I gasp for air, but I can’t breathe. My heart is going to explode in my chest.

The man looks at me with surprise and for a split second, there is something in his eyes that sends panic racing up into my throat, but then the look is gone, as if I imagined it.

“Gosh. I’m so stupid,” he says in a nasally voice. He wipes his palms on the legs of his jeans, as if he is sweating even though the temperature is rapidly dipping along with the sun.

Donovan is at my side. “Gabriella, is everything okay?”

He’s used my full name and he’s looking at me instead of Grace in my arms. Guilt flicks through me. I’m not acting irrational or hysterical. A strange man walked up to our daughter and grabbed her arm.

Any mother would react the same, wouldn’t she?

At first glance, the man seems boyish with his bowl haircut, baggy jeans, and sneakers. Up close, a few crow’s feet shows he is older. Maybe even my age—thirty. He has feminine pink lips, and piercing blue eyes, the color of the arctic sea. The collar of his black jacket is pulled up. His smile is all “gee, golly, shucks,” abashed and embarrassed but doesn’t reach his eyes. He paws at his jeans with his palms. He’s done that twice now. He’s nervous.

When he meets my eyes again, I realize that something about him seems off, something about his eyes, more than just their intense color. One eye is close to his nose and the other set far apart. It’s jarring and somehow unsettling to make eye contact.

“I’m so sorry,” he says in that same stuffed-up sounding voice. “What a knuckle-headed move. I should know better than to walk up to someone else’s kid like that.”

Donovan grips my arm.

“What’s going on here?” His words are clipped.

I’m panting, but finally able to catch my breath. Still, the words will not come.

“Your kid is so darn cute. She looks just like my little sister used to look. I just wanted to say hi to her and didn’t even think that was a total bonehead move to walk up to someone else’s kid when her parents weren’t around.” He gives an odd smile as he says this.

“We were around.” Donovan says in a monotone, staring the man down.

The man looks down at the sand.

Grace is kicking and trying to get down. My knuckles are white gripping her.

“Ow, mama, you’re hurting me,” she says and tosses her curls in irritation.

Donovan shoots a glance our way before turning his attention back to the man.

“You live around here?” Donovan asks, seemingly casual, but the muscle in his jaw is working hard. His dark eyes under thick eyebrows have narrowed and hold a glint of menace. In a second, it alters him from the man on the cover of the “Sexiest Bay Area Cops” calendar into something feral and dangerous.

The man meets Donovan’s eyes and for a second it looks like he is challenging Donovan to dispute his story, but then he looks down again and digs a sneakered toe into the sand, reinforcing my impression that he’s a kid not a man.

“Marin. Meeting some friends here in the city for dinner. Was early so came here to kill some time. I didn’t mean to cause any problems. I just wanted to say hi to her. Maybe you’re over-reacting a bit.”

Donovan runs a hand through his hair. His posture relaxes. Instinctively—or luckily—this man has honed in on Donovan’s Achilles heel. We’ve talked at length about our tendency to be overprotective parents because of our jobs, me as a crime reporter, and him as a detective. Donovan has argued we can’t
let this affect Grace’s childhood. We need to protect her, but let her grow up carefree. I agree.

But it’s easier said than done.

We’ve, also, talked about my irrational fear that something will happen to Grace.

This man may not realize it, but he’s instantly off the hook with this one simple
word—Overreacting.

“Why don’t you go head on out,” Donovan says, dismissing him.

“My bad, really. Wasn’t using my head. Have a nice night,” the man says and turns to leave.

I set Grace down and Donovan wraps his arm around me.

“You okay?”

“I don’t know.”

I don’t tell him that it felt like I was having a heart attack, that I couldn’t breathe or move. A stranger walked up to my daughter and I stood there, weak, helpless, frozen.

Donovan gives me a look before we both turn and watch the man’s figure growing smaller. We watch without saying a word. We stand there until the man turns and heads toward the wooden boardwalk bordering the road. He never looks back.



About the Author


Kristi Belcamino is a writer, photographer, and artist. In her former life as a newspaper crime reporter in California, she flew over Big Sur in an FA-18 jet with the Blue Angels, raced a Dodge Viper at Laguna Seca, watched autopsies, and interviewed serial killers. She is now a journalist based in Minneapolis and the Gabriella Giovanni mysteries are her first books. Find Kristi on Facebook
www.facebook.com/kristibelcaminowriter or on Twitter @KristiBelcamino


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Book Promo: FOUND NEAR WATER by Katherine Hayton









Crime / Thriller / Mystery


Date Published: July 2014



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Rena Sutherland wakes from a coma into a mother’s nightmare. Her daughter is missing – lost for four days – but no one has noticed; no one has complained; no one has been searching.


As the victim support officer assigned to her case, Christine Emmett puts aside her own problems as she tries to guide Rena through the maelstrom of her daughter’s disappearance.


A task made harder by an ex-husband desperate for control; a paedophile on early-release in the community; and a psychic who knows more than seems possible.


And intertwined throughout, the stories of six women; six daughters lost.














About the Author




Katherine Hayton is a 41 year old woman who works in insurance, doesn’t have children or pets, can’t drive, has lived in Christchurch her entire life, and currently resides a two minute walk from where she was born. For some reason she’s developed a rich fantasy life.





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Book Showcase: THE WALK-IN CLOSET by Abdi Nazemian



The Walk-In Closet by Abdi Nazemian
ISBN: 9780615988689 (paperback)
ASIN: B00KHZ8CQ2 (Kindle edition)
Publication date: June 3, 2014
Publisher: Curtis Brown Digital


Kara Walker has never found much glamour in her own life, especially not when compared to the life of her best friend Bobby Ebadi. Bobby, along with his sophisticated parents Leila and Hossein, is everything Kara always wanted to be. The trio provides the perfect antidote to what Kara views as the more mundane problems of her girlfriends and her divorced parents. And so when the Ebadis assume that Kara is Bobby’s girlfriend, she willingly steps into the role. She enjoys the perks of life in this closet, not only Leila’s designer hand-me-downs and free rent, but also the excitement of living life as an Ebadi.

As Kara’s 30th birthday approaches, Leila and Hossein up the pressure. They are ready for Kara to assume the mantle of the next Mrs. Ebadi, and Bobby seems prepared to give them what they want: the illusion of a traditional home and grandchildren. How far will Kara be willing to go? And will she be willing to pull the Persian rug out from under them when she discovers that her own secret is just one of many lurking inside the Ebadi closet? 


Read an excerpt:

1

“I have the perfect shoes for you.” Leila said with a smile. “They are just a little tight on me, so they should fit you perfectly.” We were in her enormous walk-in closet, really more like a wing in the Ebadi house. It had once been an exercise room, but Leila got rid of the Solorflex and converted the gym into an immaculately organized, white-lacquered dressing room. The clothes were arranged by color. Sharp white suits on one end, slinky black dresses on the other, with yellow tanks, red skirts, and navy blazers between.

Leila popped open a white-lacquered panel, revealing rows and rows of shoes. Pumps. Stilettos. Boots. Hermès sneakers in every color. “You know you’re like a daughter to me,” she said. Music to my ears. Now, I loved my mother Harry. She had her endearing qualities, like the fact that she never cheated at online Scrabble, and that she made me matzo ball soup when I was sick even though we’re not Jewish. But who wouldn’t have traded in Harry for a mother who conducted spring cleaning by giving last season’s couture to you? I’m not sure Harry even knew what couture was. Born and bred in Thousand Oaks, Harry lived in a world (not coincidentally, the world in which I was raised) of strip malls and outlet stores.

“Has Babak played you the new Omara Portuondo CD?” Leila asked.

“I don’t think so,” I responded.

“It’s incredible, the music that comes out of Cuba. Repression always makes for such moving art.” Leila pondered her statement and then added, “Of course, when we were in Havana a few years ago, the people didn’t seem repressed at all. They actually appeared quite joyful. Ah, here they are.” Leila handed me a pair of Prada flats adorned with lavender gemstones. “Aren’t they pretty? Try them on.”

“Leila, I can’t.”

“Just one week until Nowruz,” she said. “You know it’s customary to conduct an extensive spring cleaning before the New Year and replenish the closet.”

“I just feel like you’re spoiling me.”

“What am I going to do? Give these clothes to somebody who will not appreciate them? Give me your foot,” she ordered. She was a difficult woman to disobey. I kicked off my ratty old Steve Maddens and lifted my right foot, worried that she would make note of my chipped pedicure. Gently, she slipped the right flat on my foot. It fit flawlessly. As stylish as a stiletto, as comfortable as a slipper.

“Who needs Prince Charming,” I joked, “when I have you?”

Never one to dwell on a sentimental moment, Leila immediately noticed an imperfection. “One of the amethysts fell off. I forgot.”

“I don’t care. They’re beautiful.”

“Here.” Leila dug through a drawer full of old buttons and thread until she pulled out an amethyst and placed it carefully into my hand. “Rosa Maria can re-attach it. She was a seamstress before she came to us. She’s very talented.”

“You’re too good to me.”

“Do you wear Chanel, or is it too old for you” she asked.

“I’m turning thirty in less than a month. I think I can rock the Chanel now.”

Leila flinched at my use of the word rock. To her, a rock was something you either kicked on the beach or put on your finger. She pulled a pink Chanel suit off the rack. Very Jackie O. “I never wear it anymore.”

“I can’t, Leila, you’ve given me enough.”

“Stop with the tarof,” she said.

Tarof was one of the untranslatable Farsi expressions I had picked up from the Ebadis and their friends. Basically: don’t bother arguing when offered something, just accept graciously.

“Well, okay then. No more tarof. I’ll take the whole closet.”

“That’s more like it, Kara djoon.” I love when she speaks that beautiful endearment after my name.

I slipped the suit on in front of her, and it fit perfectly. It did make me look older, but in a sophisticated way. I assessed my reflection. My blond hair had recently been layered and highlighted at Leila’s favorite salon. My skin was still glowing from the oxygen facial that Leila had treated me to the week before. And my body was looking firm from the Pilates session of Leila’s that I’d crashed. For a single woman on the precipice of earliest middle age, I was looking pretty good. Of course, I wasn’t single in Leila’s eyes. I was abruptly reminded of that when “Gimme More,” Britney’s latest hit, rang from the cell phone in my purse.

Leila looked inside and pulled it out. “It’s Babak,” she said as she handed me the phone. On its screen was a photo of Bobby, reclining on the blue Astroturf of the Standard Hotel, palm trees reflected in his Aviator shades, his wavy jet-black hair almost blue in the glare of the sun.

“Getting impatient?” I answered.

“What are you two doing up there? Bobby whispered urgently.

“Trying on clothes.”

“Well, hurry up. You know I can’t stand this much one-on-one time alone with my dad. He’s making me watch golf.”

“Where are you calling from?”

“The guest bathroom. Just hurry.” Bobby hung up.

“What does he vant?” Sometimes Leila slips and her Ws come out as Vs.

“Nothing.”

“I don’t see why he can’t do without you and just watch golf for thirty minutes while we try on a few things. His father was never so possessive, thank goodness.” She ran her hands along one of the immaculate white-lacquered shelves. “When we built this house, it was the beginning of the eighties–Babak was five when we were renovating it, so it was 1982. I always knew I wanted a large closet, and I wanted the shelves to be white lacquer, because it allows the colors of the clothes to dominate the room. There was one day–it was when the house was still under construction–the closet was one of the first rooms to be almost done. Maybe that’s because I knew exactly what I wanted it to be. I sold the gym equipment that was in it and redesigned it immediately. So one day, we were walking the children in to choose their bedrooms, and Babak walked into this closet, and he shouted, ‘This is mine.'”





About the author:



Abdi Nazemian is the screenwriter of The Quiet, Celeste in the City, Beautiful Girls, and the short film Revolution, which he also directed. He is an alumnus of the Sundance Writer’s Lab, a mentor at the Outfest Screenwriter’s Lab, and has taught screenwriting at UCLA Extension. He lives in Los Angeles with his two children and his dog, Hedy Lamarr. The Walk-In Closet is his first novel. 






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Book Showcase: THE REVEALED by Jessica Hickam

The Revealed by Jessica Hickam
ISBN:  9781940716008 (paperback)
ISBN:  9781940716015 (ebook)
ASIN:  B00L1P1RZ0 (Kindle edition)
Publisher: SparkPress
Publication date: June 15, 2014

Lily Atwood lives in what used to be Washington, D.C. Her father is one of the most powerful men in the world, having been a vital part of rebuilding and reuniting humanity after the war that killed over five billion people. Now he’s running to be one of its leaders.

But in the rediscovered peace in this new world, a force has risen. They call themselves The Revealed — an underground rebel organization that has been kidnapping 18-year-olds across the globe without explanation. No one knows why The Revealed is taking these teens, but it’s clear something is different about these people. They can set fires with a snap of their fingers and create wind strong enough to throw over a tree with a flick of their wrist. They are unstoppable, and they have targeted 18-year-old Lily as their next victim.

Lily is too close to breaking free from her father’s shadow to let The Revealed ruin things, especially her developing relationship with the mysterious Kai Westerfield — the sun of her father’s rival. Lily isn’t about to lose her future just when it’s starting to look promising. Not without a fight.


Read an excerpt:

Chapter One

If I’m going to be taken, I plan on having at least a little fun first.

Sleek and silver with the latest technology, including dent-resistant metal, my father’s Aston Martin is made to drive. The doors recognize DNA and I’m half him, so it’s easy to break inside. I just press my hand against the door. The car needs a moment to analyze, then lifts the door, allowing me to slide into the driver’s seat. I toss the still-sealed letter onto the passenger seat.

There’s no need to open it. I know what it is.

The car’s ignition can either be started with fingerprint recognition or overridden by the key. I took the keys from the shelf by the front door while my mother wasn’t home earlier this morning.

I shift gears and press my ballet flats on the gas, not wasting any time.

The odometer climbs higher as the car smoothly accelerates.

The sensor in the car’s front mirror triggers our gate, and it opens just in time for me to speed through. Let security try to track me down now.

Pulling out onto the main road, I press my foot to the floor, going well over the speed limit.

I glance in my rearview mirror.

Security doesn’t stand a chance!

My eyes return to the road.

Strategically placed, black SUVs block my path to the freeway. My lungs constrict, forcing the air from my chest. Somehow they’re already one step ahead of me.

I grip the wheel.

I’m driving too fast.

My foot hits the brake.

Tires sear the road.

Adrenaline spins through me as I brace the wheel, keeping the car straight.

My knuckles tighten. I feel the road beneath my slipping under my feet.

The Aston slams to a stop, throwing me up against the wheel. THe first SUV is only inches in front of me. Relief fills me but is quickly erased by mounting frustration.

I rip off my seatbelt, stomping out of the car.

Jeremy, head of my father’s security, stands at the front of the line. There are half a dozen other members of security lounging against the cars as they wait for me to arrive. They straighten to a standing position once I storm toward Jeremy.

Jeremy’s lips are carved into a thin line. He looks like he’s expecting me to barrel into him and continue running down the road. “Did that scare you enough to get these insane ideas out of your system?”

“You could have made me crash?” I advance on him.

“Good thing you were paying attention then,” Jeremy says, opening the backdoor of the SUV. I had over the Aston’s keys and slump inside. The smell of the black leather reminds me of past trips to speeches and conventions. My father used to let me pick the music on the touch screen positioned in the side-door panel, anything I wanted, while my mother would chastise me for turning it up too loud. But my father would just laugh and tell her to let me be a kid. I feel like a kid now more than ever, and it’s a hard reminder that I don’t get to make significant decisions. Especially when it comes to my life. It has already been laid out for me.

Jeremy tosses the Aston’s keys to one of the security guards standing behind him. He’ll drive it back into the garage. “You’re gonna get yourself killed if you keep pulling these stunts,” he continues his lecture.

“Either I do it or The Revealed does,” I say as he slams the door trapping me securely in the back.

Two hundred fifty-two days until I’m nineteen. If I make until then.



About the author:

After graduating from Arizona State University in 2011, Jessica relocated to Los Angeles where she now works in the film industry. From acting to assisting on the Paramount feature Star Trek: Into Darkness, her experiences have only reinforced her love for living in other worlds – whether they be from her own imagination or someone else’s. The Revealed is her first novel.

Connect with the author:
Website     |     Facebook     |     Twitter 




Buy the Book:

Available at:         BookDepository


Book Showcase Post: HIDE AND SEEK by Amy Shojai

Hide and Seek

by Amy Shojai

on Tour June 1 – July 31, 2014


 
 


Book Details:


Genre: Suspense/Thriller

Published by: Cool Gus Publishing  

Publication Date: January 2014 

Number of Pages: 254 

ISBN: 978-1621251477 

Purchase Links:    




Synopsis:

A mysterious contagion will shatter countless lives unless a service dog and his trainer find a missing cat . . . in 24 hours.

A STALKER hides in plain sight.

A VICTIM faces her worst fear.

AND A DOG seeks the missing—and finds hope.

Eight years ago, animal behaviorist September Day escaped a sadistic captor who left her ashamed, terrified, and struggling with PTSD. She trusts no one—except her cat Macy and service dog Shadow.

Shadow also struggles with trust. A German Shepherd autism service dog who rescued his child partner only to lose his-boy forever, Shadow’s crippling fear of abandonment shakes his faith in humans.

They are each others’ only chance to survive the stalker’s vicious payback, but have only 24 hours to uncover the truth about Macy’s mysterious illness or pay the deadly consequences. When September learns to trust again, and a good-dog takes a chance on love, together they find hope in the midst of despair–and discover what family really means.



“Recommended for anyone who likes a ‘bite-your-nails, hold-your-breath’ kind of thriller.” — Dr. Lorie Huston, Cat Writers Association President


Read an excerpt:

HIDE AND SEEK
Prologue

Tommy Dietz grabbed the car door handle with one bloody fist, and braced his other hand against the roof, worried the carcasses in the back would buck out of the truck’s bed. Despite the precaution, his head thumped the muddy window. He glared at the driver who drove the truck like he rode a bronco, but BeeBo Benson’s full moon face sported the same toothless grin he’d worn for the past two weeks. Even BeeBo’s double chins smiled, including the rolls at the nape of his freckled neck.

The ferret thin guy in the middle snarled each time his Katy Railroad belt buckle chinked against the stick shift he straddled. Gray hair straggled from under his hat and brushed his shoulders. He had to slouch or he risked punching his head through the rust-eaten roof. Randy Felch’s snaky eyes gave Dietz the shivers even more than the freezing temperatures spitting through windows that refused to seal.

Three across the cramped seat would be a lark for high school buddies out on the town, but the men were decades beyond graduation. Dietz was in charge so Felch could either ride the hump or share the open truck bed with two carcasses, and the new Production Assistant.

Dietz stifled a laugh. Not so high-and-mighty now, was he? The man must really want the job. Vince Grady had turned green when he was told to climb into the back of the truck. Just wait till he got a load of the dump. Dietz remembered his first visit three years ago when he’d been out scouting locations. He wondered how the spit-and-polish Grady would react.

He’d hired locals for the rest of the crew. They needed the work, and didn’t blink at the SAG ultra-low pay scale, the shitty weather, or the stink. In this business, you took anything available when pickings were slim. Then the show got picked up and union fees grabbed him by the short hairs. Amateur talent screwing around and missing call times cost even more money, so he needed a Production Assistant—PA in the lingo—with more polish and bigger balls to keep the wheels greased. A go-to guy able to think on his feet, get the job done. No matter what.

If Grady wanted the PA job, he’d have to be willing to get his hands dirty, and stand up to BeeBo and his ilk. Riding in the open truck bed was illegal as hell, though here in North Texas even the cops turned a blind eye unless it was kids. This was an audition, and Grady knew it.

He had to give Grady props—he’d not blinked, but clenched his jaw and climbed right in when they collected him at his hotel. He’d been less enthusiastic after following the hunters most of the morning, tramping to hell and gone through rough country until his eyes threatened to freeze shut. Something drove the man, something more than a PA credit for piss-poor pay and worse conditions. Hell, something drove them all to work in this unforgiving business. Dietz didn’t care about anyone else’s demons as long as they let him feed his own.

Dietz craned to peer out the back to be sure the man hadn’t been tossed out the tailgate. Grady gave Dietz a thumbs-up. Probably wants to point a different finger, Dietz thought.

Grady wore the official Hog Hell blue work gloves and ski mask—dark blue background and DayGlo red star on the face—or he’d be picking his frostbit nose off the floor.

Prime time in the back woods. Dietz’s quick smile faded. Nothing about this trip was prime, not even the butchered Bambi in the back. Deer season ran November through early January, and it was always open season on hogs, so they were legal for any follow up film footage. The two deer hadn’t looked good even before BeeBo dropped them, but that’s what viewers wanted. Crocodile wrestlers, duck dynasties, and gold rush grabbers with crusty appeal and redder necks.

Nobody wanted actors anymore. Casting directors looked for “real people.” So he’d caught a clue, jumped off the thespian hamster wheel, moved to New York and reinvented himself as Tommy Dietz, Producer. He’d found his calling with a development company relatively quickly.

A movie star face didn’t hurt. Everyone these days had a little nip-and-tuck; it was part of the biz. He’d been selling his version of reality for years anyway, and always came out on top. He hit it out of the park on his third project. Hog Hell kicked off the next step with a Texas-size leap. He’d show them all, those who’d laughed at his dreams, calling him a loser. And he’d make them sorry.

The shabby pickup lurched down and back up again, and its engine growled and complained. Dietz was surprised the seat hadn’t fallen through the floor. The overgrown road the hunters called a pig path consisted of frozen ruts formed from previous tire treads. They damn well better not get stuck out here.

“Don’t worry, she’ll make it.” BeeBo talked around the stub of his unlit cigar. “This ol’ warhorse made the trip so often, she could drive herself. Ain’t that right, Felch?” BeeBo reached to downshift and Felch winced as the other man’s ham-size fist grabbed and jerked the stick between his knees.

Dietz sighed. Out the window, skeletal trees clawed the pregnant sky. Weird flocks of blackbirds moved in undulating clouds, exploding from one naked tree after another to clothe the next with feathered leaves. Spooky.

Thank God the icy weather stayed dry. Heartland, Texas had dug out of a record-breaking snowfall, and the locals hadn’t quite recovered. It put a kink in Hog Hell filming and they’d barely met the deadlines. Delay turned his balance book bloody with red ink.

Back home in Chicago they’d been hit with the same blizzard and so had NYC. But big cities knew how to manage winter weather. Apparently North Texas rolled up the sidewalks with even the hint of flurries. He wondered if BeeBo and Felch knew what to do in the snow, and didn’t want to find out. The thought of hunkering down overnight in the truck with these men turned his stomach.

Dietz adjusted his own ski mask. He’d folded it up off his face so the blue cap hugged his head while the red star painted a bull’s-eye on his forehead. He wore the official coat, too; dark blue and a bright hunter-safe star on the front and back, with the Hog Hell logo. The Gore-Tex fabric crackled with newness, and his blistered feet whimpered inside wet, dirt-caked boots. No way would he wear his new $300 Cabela’s, purchased for photo ops at the upcoming watch party. He had a gun, too. In Texas nobody cared if you carried. They expected it.

BeeBo’s preferred weapon, an ancient short barreled shotgun loaded with deer slugs, contrasted sharply with Felch’s double gun he’d had custom made last season. Felch shot 44 Magnums, and the cut down double barrel rifle boasted enough firepower to take out an elephant, or a charging feral boar hog.

They sleeved the guns in canvas cases stowed in the back of the truck, but the hunters cared far less about their own attire.

BeeBo and Felch would wear official Hog Hell gear at the watch party in five weeks, but not before. Dietz didn’t want them stinking up the outfits. Today they wore wash-faded coveralls, heavy work coats, earflap hats, clunky boots with thorn-tangled laces, and frayed gloves with fingertips cut out. A bit of peeling DayGlo tape formed an “X” on the back and front of each coat after Dietz insisted on the nod to safety, even though he knew the two hunters paid little mind to official start and end dates during hunting season.

That was the point of the original reality program Cutting Corners that focused on people forced to skirt the rules to make ends meet. The unlikely stars of a single episode, though, turned Felch and BeeBo into overnight sensations and birthed the new show after Cutting Corners tanked. The two hunters were experts at skirting rules. Dietz was no slouch, either.

In the truck bed, Grady swayed back and forth. He’d pushed up the ski mask enough to expose his mouth. White breath puffed out in a jerky tempo, and Dietz wondered if the man would pass out. If Grady took a header off the truck bed, the liability would kill the show. “Find a spot to stop, BeeBo. I think our new team member has had enough.”

Felch grunted. “No place to stop till we get there. Unless you want us to get stuck.” He grinned, but the expression never reached his eyes. “You don’t want us lugging that shit back to your hotel. The stink ain’t something you want close by.”

BeeBo guffawed. “Got that right. With all the hunters unloading, it’s what y’all might call a ‘renewable resource.'” He twisted the wheel and the truck bucked, jittering the decades old pine-shaped deodorizer suspended from the rear view mirror. “The critters take care of the stink pretty quick, though.” His hairless wide-eyed face was a ringer for the Gerber baby. “It’s around that next bend. You might even catch a whiff of Jiff by now.”

Dietz wrinkled his nose. The pungent aroma wasn’t assuaged by the air freshener that had probably come with the vehicle. He shielded his head from another thump, and squinted ahead through the crusty windshield. Wiper blades had torn loose on the passenger’s side and smeared the detritus rather than clearing the view. It didn’t bother BeeBo.

The trio remained silent during the final bump-and-grind through the trees. They pulled halfway into the clearing, and Dietz waited impatiently until BeeBo cranked the steering wheel, turned, and backed beneath a massive tree with pendulous clusters decorating the branches. Grady ducked, or he would have been scraped off by low limbs.

Several similar trees bordered the clearing, and another smaller truck squatted at the far end of the area. An elderly man stood in the truck bed and flailed tree branches with a long pole, while the woman dodged and weaved beneath to gather the resulting shower in a bucket.

“What’s that?” Grady wasted no time jumping off the truck bed. He gagged when the wind shifted.

“Nuts.” Felch unfolded himself from the cramped middle seat. “Pecan trees. They’re gleaning the nuts.”

Dietz’s stomach clenched. He pulled the ski mask over his lips and breathed through his mouth, imagining he could taste the odor that closed his throat. Neither Felch nor BeeBo seemed to notice the stench.

Grady wiped his watery eyes. The breeze paused and he gulped a less contaminated breath. “Pecans? To eat?”

The truck squeaked, rocked and grew two inches when BeeBo stepped out. “Back in town they’ll pay $8 to $10 per pound, once shelled. I got my daddy’s old commercial sheller—held together with baling twine and spit, but works okay. I only charge fifty-cents a pound to shell.” He shrugged. “Every little bit helps. It’s too early for most of the big-name commercial farms, but for the gleaners, if ya wait too long the squirrels get ’em off the trees, or the pigs root ’em off the ground. Pigs eat lots of the same stuff the deer and turkeys eat, acorns and suchlike. But they get ground-nesting bird eggs, too. Pigs’ll root up and eat damn near anything.” He jerked his chins at Felch. “Gimme a hand.” He lumbered toward the back of the truck and waited by the taillights.

Felch vaulted in the bed of the vehicle, and adjusted his gloves. He pointed. “Smorgasbord, y’all. Hey Slick, you might want to get video of this. Bet your big-city cronies never seen the like.” His yellow teeth gleamed. He bent low, and grunted as he pushed and tugged the black plastic bag to the tailgate, hopped down and joined BeeBo. Together they slung the truck’s cargo into the pit.

Yipping and growls erupted from below. Dietz stayed back, he’d seen it before. This stuff he wouldn’t put on the air. This’d be too much even for the hardcore viewers without the added value of aroma.

Grady covered his mouth and nose in the crook of his elbow. He edged closer to the deep trough, a natural ditch-like runoff that sat dry three-quarters of the year. Piles of gnawed and scattered bones mixed with carcasses in various stages of decomposition. A family of coyotes tried to claim BeeBo’s tossed deer remains, but was bluffed away by a feral boar.

Grady ripped off his ski mask, puked, wiped his mouth, and grabbed his camera with a shaking hand. He spit on the frozen ground and jutted his chin at Dietz. “So?”

Dietz smiled. “You got the gig.”

***

The damn ski mask dragged against his hair so much, the normally clear adhesive had turned chalky. Victor had removed the wig after dissolving the glue with a citrus-scented spray, a much more pleasant olfactory experience than the afternoon’s visit to the dump. A shower rinsed away any lingering miasma, but he gladly put up with the stink, the rednecks, and the sneers. The payoff would be worth it.

Until then, he couldn’t afford for anyone in Heartland to recognize him. His tool kit of fake teeth, makeup and assorted hairpieces kept him under the radar. For the price, nearly fifty bucks for a four-ounce bottle of adhesive, it damn well better hold the new wig in place for the promised six weeks. He rubbed his hands over his pale, bald head and grinned. Even without the wig, she’d be hard pressed to recognize him.

Muscles had replaced the beer gut, Lasik surgery fixed his eyes, a chin implant and caps brightened his smile. He’d done it all, one step at a time, over the eight years it took to track her down. He’d even changed his name and transformed himself into a man she couldn’t refuse.

He’d done it for her. Everything for her.

He dialed his phone. “I want to order flowers. Forget-Me-Nots, in a white box with a yellow ribbon. Got that? And deliver them December eighteenth. It’s our anniversary.” He listened. “Use red ink. The message is ‘payback.’ Got that? No signature, she’ll know it’s me.” He picked up a news clipping that listed the address, and admired the picture. She was lovely as ever. “Two-oh-five Rabbit Run Road, Heartland, Texas. Deliver to September Day. The name is just like the month.” He chuckled softly. “Yes, it will be a lovely holiday surprise.” He could hardly wait.


Author Bio:

Amy Shojai is a certified animal behavior consultant, and the award winning author of 26 bestselling pet books that cover furry babies to old fogies, first aid to natural healing, and behavior/training to Chicken Soupicity. She is the Puppies Expert at puppies.About.com, the cat behavior expert at cats.About.com, and has been featured as an expert in hundreds of print venues including The New York Times, Reader’s Digest, and Family Circle, as well as national radio and television networks such as CNN, Animal Planet’s DOGS 101 and CATS 101. Amy brings her unique pet-centric viewpoint to public appearances. She is also the author of the critically acclaimed dog viewpoint thriller LOST AND FOUND.  



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Promo Book Blitz: CALCULATED by Renee Novelle












Calculated


By Renee Novelle


Psychological Thriller


Date Published: August 30, 2013




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An investigative journalist gets an unlikely tip from a mysterious informant. Dismissing it as impossible, she disregards the information and drops the story. Until the informant turns up dead, as predicted.




Plunged into the murky waters of a seedy underground prostitution ring, this psychological thriller provides twist upon dark twist in a story that would ultimately pin the church and several government officials in the largest murder cover-up the city has ever witnessed.




But is it true, or has the journalist merely been used as a pawn in a greater scheme? And how many people is she willing to sacrifice trying to figure it out?






EXCERPT




When she arrived at the little facility her building provided, a quick look around confirmed she was the only one there. Just as she’d hoped, and exactly how she liked it to be. Smiling in satisfaction, she flipped on the television that was perched on the wall, and turned up the music on her iPod as loud as she could handle it. The multiple distractions would help her get through the extra mile she was planning to conquer. With chilled water bottle in place, she cranked up the treadmill to a nice brisk pace.




As her breathing picked up speed and her muscles began to warm, Ana’s eye caught a red flash along the bottom of the screen. Breaking News filled the bar, and the too-chipper-for-their-own-good reporters were suddenly getting serious. Since the volume was still muted, Ana couldn’t understand exactly what was going on, only that they were showing the wide stretch of river that ran along the outskirts of the city. She wiped the first beads of sweat from her brow, and used the remote to turn the volume of the television higher while simultaneously adjusting her music.




As the reporters spoke, home-video footage of something floating in the water rolled before her eyes. The camera zoomed in, the frame ever so shaky, and it became clearly apparent that the “something” was a person – face down with long brown hair spread out like a Catholic halo. It appeared another victim had been pulled out of the water; the count was quickly tallying up. A young woman this time, and possibly one who had gone missing the night before.




Ana’s pulse skipped a few beats as they replayed the video over and over. There was something familiar about the long, lean body. Slowing the treadmill to a stop, she ripped the ear buds from her head to give the segment her entire attention.




…it appears at first glance that the victim suffered from a deep cut to the throat, and received multiple stab wounds to the chest…




The beads of accumulated sweat turned cold on Ana’s brow. She immediately reached for her phone and dialed Kylie’s number.




“What the hell, Ana?” Came her friend’s groggy voice.




“Turn your TV on. Channel four. Hurry.” Ana said, eyes transfixed to the screen in front of her. “Recognize that face?”




…It’s thought the victim may be one of the young girls recently reported missing. The screen flashed candids of three possible women. All brunettes. All tall and thin. All roughly the same age. Among them was a photo of Mara, just as Ana had expected there would be.




But the body was too bloated and disfigured to be absolutely certain, and an autopsy would be needed.




… The body will be taken in for processing where officials hope to shed more light on the case in the near future. In the mean time, they’re cautioning residents to avoid….




“Did you see that?” Ana’s voice escaped in more of a demand than a question. “Please tell me I’m seeing things.”




“Oh my god…” Kylie whispered into the receiver, confirming the dread that was building in Ana’s stomach. “Do you really think it’s her?”




“I know for a fact it is.” Ana declared, the pull in her gut getting stronger by the minute. “The autopsy will confirm it.”




“So, what does this mean exactly now?”




“That maybe I should have been listening a little closer when I was talking to Mara.” She said with regret as she swiped her forehead with the back of her hand. “And maybe I should have asked more questions. There’s a story here, I’m sure of it now.”




“What are you going to do?” Kylie’s voice was decidedly more alert now.




Ana shook her head. “I have no idea.”




Though if she were to be truthful with herself in that moment, she’d already made up her mind. Ana flipped off the television, and left the little gym to get started.






About the Author: Renee Novelle
Author Renee Novelle photo 13_zps447ee6c5.jpeg




Formerly a freelance journalist, Novelle has found placement of her pieces in both online and print publications since 2008. Additionally, she has written multiple screenplays, and contributed her writing to many non-profit and for profit organizations. She has launched several blogs over the years, which garnered international attention.








In 2013, Novelle returned to her first love – fiction. Writing under the names Renee Novelle and R.S. Novelle, she has a publication schedule that includes Psychological Thrillers, Suspense, Paranormal Fiction, Contemporary Women’s fiction, Chick Lit, and New Adult.






Though she received her Bachelor’s of Science in Communication, summa cum laude, she considers herself a constant student of the written word. She’s an avid reader, an enthusiastic quote poster, and rarely takes “no” as a final answer. She has an unhealthy obsession for theater, dance, music and art, and strongly believes that wine is simultaneously the beginning of, and resolution to, all of life’s problems. She believes in following dreams, and that in the end, you always end up where you’re meant to be.




Author Links





Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads




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Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Smashwords | iTunes




  


  






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Book Promotional Post: SCARLET REVENGE

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Scarlet Revenge – PROMO Blitz

By Ann McGinnis

Date Published: January 21, 2014

Romantic Suspense

The FBI doesn’t know what to do with Analyst Caycee Scarlet. She’s brash, brilliant & brutally relentless when tracking a serial killer. But she also has a temper, problems with authority figures and recognizing the chain of command.

Things go sideways for Caycee when she uncovers a lead that saves the Omega Killer’s latest victim. Rather than working the system and making nice with her pompous boss, sparks fly and she gets into an altercation with the lead Special Agent on the case, resulting in a transfer to another assignment.

Caycee finds herself transferred to an FBI interrogation facility where she assesses the most dangerous of criminals in custody. She struggles to get over the loss of her dream job, but her new boss, handsome Special Agent Gil Graham, may soften the blow. Sparks, of a different variety, fly between the Special Agent and his new Analyst, as they work together to crack the most difficult cases.

Just when Caycee’s wounds are healing from her expulsion on the Omega Killer team, she is dragged back into the thick of it. Caycee and her new team are front and center, focused on an interview of a bombing suspect, when Omega comes looking for revenge. His attack wounds her team, leaving Caycee with only one option for help—the devastatingly handsome bombing suspect. It will take all of Caycee’s wits, and a kiss for luck, to stop Omega and save her co-worker.

EXCERPT

Chapter One

Our steps echoed down the stark hallway. Clean. Institutional. And utterly amazing. Caycee Scarlet was finally walking along the hallowed hallways of the FBI. It was a good day for me.

“Say nothing, Scarlet,” Special Agent in Charge Tony Wilkes ordered. He threw me a look over his shoulder. “Even if someone asks you a question, keep your mouth shut.” He laughed to himself. “No one will ask you a question.”

Wilkes had already made it clear that I was the newest member of the Omega Killer Task Force. As such, I should listen more than talk, act fast when given orders, and let the seasoned team members guide my every move. It seemed like the equivalent of an FBI-whipping boy. Or girl, in my case. I didn’t care. Everyone started at the bottom. I was ready to put in the time needed to earn their respect.

At least, I looked good in a form-fitting black suit. It was more than I could afford, but I figured I would live in the outfit. Besides, it sent a message. I valued my appearance, even if I had to dress like a man, I’d still look like a woman.

I’d had the suit cut to fit my curves, which were on the athletic side. My auburn hair pulled into a no-nonsense ponytail. It hung past my shoulders, showing off my best feature – my eyes. As a window into my soul, they were unflinching. I did admire my own intelligence, probably a character flaw, but hopefully that wouldn’t show in my eyes. The traits I wanted to show: no nonsense, quick witted, relentless.

“You get the crap jobs,” Wilkes said, acting as if his honesty was attractive. A few hours in the gym and hair implants, maybe. Not that I didn’t find bald men attractive, just not this one. “I can’t lie,” he continued, “we’ll be throwing you every crap job that this case delivers, but you’re on a big case. That don’t happen to many newbies.”

I wasn’t that new, but I guessed he didn’t count the eight months of testing and background checks. I did. Or my training at Quantico. It all counted to me.

The agency gave us two years to prove ourselves. After that, candidates either earned their spot or were let go. I couldn’t imagine putting in all that time and failing.

I had a feeling success would require long hours and serious ass-kissing. I just needed to find someone with a cute ass. It sure wasn’t Wilkes.

We passed three large rooms filled with personnel. One looked to be the size of a football field filled with cubicles. “You’ll be in here,” Wilkes waved, “but first I want you to see the Dugout.”

He led me to a large conference room, its walls filled with crime photos, running news feeds and a huge whiteboard for pertinent case data. “The Omega Killer is priority number one,” Wilkes said, opening the conference room door for me. “This is where the main players are at bat.”

I slowed at the door, sensing a real sports theme to the way he liked to operate. Perhaps one day, I’d be his most valuable player. It looked competitive, though. Wilkes’s team already consisted of veteran agents and analysts. They seemed a cohesive group, working in unison to stop a psychotic killer.

Wilkes quickly ran through Omega’s deadly stats, but he didn’t need to bother. I knew the case inside and out. Killers were my hobby.

I made the mistake of saying that to a date once. I never saw a man escape faster, admonishing me by exclaiming: “You’re sick, truly sick.” Hopefully, my academic interest in killers wouldn’t repel men in the FBI.

Not that I was here to find a man, but I was twenty-eight and no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t shake the feeling that somewhere in this organization was my perfect match. After all, I needed a man who liked to catch killers.

“Are you listening to me?” Wilkes sounded irritated.

“Yes, sir,” I answered. “The Omega Killer marks his victims’ forehead with the sign of the Omega. All indications are that it signals the moment he’s ready to make the fatal cut, into his victim’s left breast. Such a wound, based on other serial killers, suggests Omega has mommy issues, but I personally believe that it signals a desire to find love.”

Wilkes made a face at me. Clearly he did not care for my analysis. “That’s not what I was talking about. Geez, he wants to find love? Table that thought, quickly, and get back in the game.”

He raised his arms, showing off the Dugout. “Welcome to the nerve center of our investigation. We call this the show,” he said, then clapped his hands together to get the room’s attention. “Everyone, this is Intelligence Analyst Caycee Scarlet.”

The agents, analysts and techs turned from their work. Some at laptops along one side of a long mahogany conference table and others working on reports across from them. Several agents were standing, talking in a small group. They barely looked over at me, too busy for someone below them on the FBI food chain. The analysts nodded an acknowledgement. Matter-of-fact. No smiles. No words of welcome.

I gave a half-hearted nod to the room, hoping I’d make a better impression later. Probably much later, if I was reading the total lack of interest correctly. It must be the pressure of catching Omega. Tension hung in the room. With twelve victims to date, catching the killer had them all wound up.

Wilkes pointed to a side table stacked with boxes. The top one filled with old cell phones, victim personal effects and police reports. “We need them properly catalogued. You know, a searchable database. I’m told you were the most anal student in your class. Go at it.”

His voice trailed off, but I didn’t know if he’d stopped talking or I’d stopped listening. Maybe a little of both, because I read the whiteboard. One of the hand-scribbled numbers was written incorrectly.

Without thinking, I went over to the board and used the heel of my right hand to wipe off an area code. Everyone in the room stopped working and screamed at me.

“What have you done?” Wilkes shouted louder than anyone else.

I came out of my trance and blinked at him. Whatever I said next could make or break me, so I said nothing.

“Every piece of information is vital to solving the case,” he scolded. He turned to the room. “Can we fix it? What was that number?”

Blank stares.

I quickly picked up a dry erase marker and wrote the numbers back on the board. It was only three digits.

Screams went up all around me again.

“What?” I asked. “That’s the number I erased. But it’s wrong. It’s a phone number, right? Someone transposed the area code. 3-7-1 is not an area code, but 7-3-1 is New Jersey.”

No one screamed at me that time, but their looks were deadly.

“Is that right?” Wilkes asked the room. His eyes darted from the whiteboard to the closest agent. He wanted confirmation before his head exploded.

“Shit,” the agent said.

Wilkes grabbed his head.

The agent couldn’t look at me. “She’s right, sir.”

“Okay, we’re okay, fix it and double-check everything that goes on the board, people,” Wilkes barked.

The agent took the dry erase marker from me and fixed the numbers. Wilkes waved two fingers at a petite woman with raven hair twisted into a bun. “Take care of this.” He pointed at me.

FBI Analyst Nina Dunbar instantly responded. She rolled her eyes and grabbed a stack of boxes, indicating with her elbow that I was to take the rest. “Follow me,” she sighed. “Consider this your first and last favor.”

I shot a glance at Wilkes, but he already had his nose in a file folder, barking orders to the closest agent. He had no time for me. No one did. I exited the conference room, utterly deflated by my welcome to the FBI.



Ann McGinnis


 photo Ann20Photo_zps844d346c.jpgAnn McGinnis started writing romantic suspense to combine two things— thrillers & foreplay! Connect with Ann and upcoming news about the Scarlet Suspense Series:

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On Pinterest: pinterest.com/scarletsuspense

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Showcase post & Giveaway: THE ALMOND TREE by Michelle Cohen Corasanti

The Almond Tree by Michelle Cohen Corasanti
ISBN:  9781859643297 (paperback)
ASIN:  B008XM0AZM  (Kindle edition)
Publisher: Garnet Publishing
Publication date:  September 30, 2012

Gifted with a mind that continues to impress the elders in his village, Ichmad Hamid struggles with the knowledge that he can do nothing to save his Palestinian friends and family. Ruled by the Israeli military government, the entire village operates in fear of losing homes, jobs, and belongings. But more importantly, they fear losing each other. On Ichmad’s twelfth birthday, that fear becomes a reality. With his father imprisoned, his family’s home and possessions confiscated, and his siblings quickly succumbing to the dangers of war, Ichmad begins the endless struggle to use his intellect to save his poor and dying family and reclaim a love for others that was lost when the bombs first hit.”The Almond Tree” capitalizes on the reader’s desire to be picked up and dropped off in another part of the world. It tackles issues that many Americans only hear about on World News or read about at The Huffington Post, such as the Israeli Palestinian conflict, the scholasticide that is being imposed upon the Palestinians in Gaza and the current Gaza blockade. But even more, it offers hope.



Click here to read some excerpts from the book.


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About the author:

Michelle Cohen Corasanti has a BA from Hebrew University in Jerusalem and a MA from Harvard University, both in Middle Eastern Studies. She also holds a law degree. A Jewish American, she has lived in France, Spain, Egypt, and England, and spent seven years living in Israel. She currently lives in New York with her family. The Almond Tree is her first novel.

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Book Giveaway:

Ms. Corasanti, via Authors on the Web, has graciously offered to giveaway two copies of The Almond Tree to readers of The Book Diva’s Reads (two winners, one copy per winner). Regrettably this giveaway offer is limited to residents of the US and Canada. To enter the giveaway, please click here and complete your entry using Rafflecopter (comments are appreciated but are not considered an official entry). This giveaway ends on September 2, 2013. The winner will be announced on September 3, 2013.



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Showcase post: STRONG RAIN FALLING by Jon Land




Strong Rain Falling


by Jon Land


on August 12 – September 30, 2013

 


Book Details:
Genre: Thriller
Published by: Forge Books
Publication Date: August 13, 2013
Number of Pages: 368
ISBN: 978-0765331502
Series: Caitlin Strong, 5 (Can be read as a Stand Alone)
Purchase Links:    


Synopsis:

Mexico, 1919: The birth of the Mexican drug trade begins with opium being smuggled across the U.S. border, igniting an all-out battle with American law enforcement in general and the Texas Rangers in particular.
The Present: Fifth Generation Texas Ranger Caitlin Strong and her lover, former outlaw Cort Wesley Masters, both survive terrifying gun battles. But this time, it turns out, the actual targets were not them, but Masters’ teenage sons.
That sets Caitlin and Cort Wesley off on a trail winding through the past and present with nothing less than the future of the United States hanging in the balance. Along the way they will confront terrible truths dating all the way back to the Mexican Revolution and the dogged battle Caitlin’s own grandfather and great-grandfather fought against the first generation of Mexican drug dealers. 
At the heart of the storm soon to sweep away America as we know it, lies a mastermind whose abundant power is equaled only by her thirst for vengeance. Ana Callas Guajardo, the last surviving member of the family that founded the Mexican drug trade, has dedicated all of her vast resources to a plot aimed at the U.S.’s technological heart.
This time out, sabotage proves to be as deadly a weapon as bombs in a battle Caitlin must win in cyberspace as well. Her lone chance to prevail is to short-circuit a complex plan based as much on microchips as bullets. Because there’s a strong rain coming and only Caitlin and Cort Wesley can stop the fall before it’s too late.


Read an excerpt:
CHAPTER 1
Providence, Rhode Island
Caitlin Strong was waiting downstairs in a grassy park bisected by concrete walkways when Dylan Torres emerged from the building. The boy fit in surprisingly well with the Brown University college students he slid between in approaching her, his long black hair bouncing just past his shoulders and attracting the attention of more than one passing coed.
“How’d it go?” Caitlin asked, rising from the bench that felt like a sauna in the sun.
Dylan shrugged and blew some stray hair from his face with his breath. “Size could be an issue.”
“For playing football at this level, I expect so.”
“Coach Estes didn’t rule it out. He just said there were no more first year slots left in the program.”
“First year?”
“Freshman, Caitlin.”
“How’d you leave it?” she asked, feeling dwarfed by the athletic buildings that housed playing courts, training facilities, a swimming pool, full gym and the offices of the school’s coaches. The buildings enclosed the park-like setting on three sides, leaving the street side to be rimmed by an eight-foot wall of carefully layered stone. Playing fields took up the rear of the complex beyond the buildings and, while waiting for Dylan, Caitlin heard the clang of aluminum bats hitting baseballs and thunks of what sounded like soccer balls being kicked about. Funny how living in a place the size of Texas made her antsy within an area where so much was squeezed so close.
“Well, short of me growing another four inches and putting on maybe twenty pounds of muscle, it’s gonna be an uphill battle,” Dylan said, looking down. “That is, if I even get into this place. That’s an uphill battle too.”
She reached out and touched his shoulder. “This coming from a kid who’s bested serial killers, kidnappers and last year a human monster who bled venom instead of blood.”
Dylan started to shrug, but smiled instead. “Helps that you and my dad were there to gun them all down.”
“Well, I don’t believe we’ll be shooting Coach Estes and my point was if anybody can handle an uphill battle or two, it’s you.”
Dylan lapsed into silence, leaving Caitlin to think of the restaurant they’d eaten at the night before where the waitress had complimented her on having such a good looking son. She’d felt her insides turn to mush when the boy smiled and went right on studying the menu, not bothering to correct the woman. He was three quarters through a fifth year at San Antonio’s St. Anthony Catholic High School, in range of finishing the year with straight “A”s. Though the school didn’t formally offer such a program, Caitlin’s captain D. W. Tepper had convinced them to make an exception on behalf of the Texas Rangers by slightly altering their Senior Connection program to fit the needs of a boy whose grades hadn’t anywhere near matched his potential yet.
Not that it was an easy fit. The school’s pristine campus in historic Monte Vista just north of downtown San Antonio was populated by boys and girls in staid, prescribed uniforms that made Dylan cringe. Blazers instead of shapeless shirts worn out at the waist, khakis instead of jeans gone from sagging to, more recently, what they called skinny, and hard leather dress shoes instead of the boots Caitlin had bought him for his birthday a few years back. But the undermanned football team had recruited him early on, Dylan donning a uniform for the first time since a brief stint in the Pop Warner league as a young boy while his mother was still alive and the father he’d yet to meet was in prison. This past fall at St. Anthony’s he’d taken to the sport again like a natural, playing running back and sifting through the tiniest holes in the defensive line to amass vast chunks of yardage. Dylan ended up being named Second Team All TAPPS District 2-5A, attracting the attention of several small colleges, though none on the level of Brown University, a perennial contender for the Ivy League crown.
Caitlin found those Friday nights, sitting with Cort Wesley Masters and his younger son Luke in stands ripe with the first soft bite of fall, strangely comforting. Given that she’d never had much use for such things in her own teenage years, the experience left her feeling as if she’d been transported back in time with a chance to relive her own youth through a boy who was as close to a son as she’d ever have. Left her recalling her own high school days smelling of gun oil instead of perfume. She’d been awkward then, gawky after growing tall fast. Still a few years short of forty, Caitlin had never added to that five-foot-seven-inch frame, although the present found her filled out and firm from regular workouts and jogging. She wore her wavy black hair more fashionably styled, but kept it the very same length she always had, perhaps in a misguided at-tempt to slow time if not stop it altogether. 
Gazing at Dylan now, she recalled the headmaster of his school, a cousin of Caitlin’s own high school principal, coming up to her after the victorious opening home game.
“The school owes you a great bit of gratitude, Ranger.”
“Well, sir, I’ll bet Dylan’ll do even better next week.”
The headmaster gestured toward the newly installed lights. “I meant gratitude for the Rangers arranging for the variance that allowed us to go forward with the installation. That’s the only reason we’re able to be here to-night.”
She’d nodded, smiling to herself at how Captain Tepper had managed to arrange Dylan’s admission. “Our pleasure, sir.”
Now, months later on the campus of an Ivy League school in Providence, Rhode Island, Dylan looked down at the grass and then up again, something furtive lurking in his suddenly narrowed eyes. The sun sneaking through a nearby tree dappled his face and further hid what he was about to share. 
“I got invited to a frat party.”
“Say that again.”
“I got invited to a party at this frat called D-Phi.”
“D what?”
“Short for Delta Phi. Like the Greek letters.”
“I know they’re Greek letters, son, just like I know what goes on at these kind of parties given that I’ve been called to break them up on more than one occasion.”
“You’re the one who made me start thinking about college.”
“Doesn’t mean I got you thinking about doing shots and playing beer pong.”
“Beirut.”
Caitlin looked at him as if he were speaking a foreign language.
“They call it Beirut here, not beer pong,” Dylan continued. “And it’s important I get a notion of what the campus life is like. You told me that too.”
“I did?”
“Uh-huh.”
“I let you go to this party, you promise you won’t drink?”
Dylan rolled his head from side to side. “I promise I won’t drink much.”
“What’s that mean?”
“That I’ll be just fine when you come pick me up in the morning to get to the airport.”
“Pick you up,” Caitlin repeated, her gaze narrowing.
“I’m staying with this kid from Texas who plays on the team. Coach set it up.”
“Coach Estes?”
“Yup. Why?’
Caitlin slapped an arm around the boy’s shoulder and steered him toward the street. “Because I may rethink my decision about shooting him.”
“I told him you were a Texas Ranger,” Dylan said, as they approached a pair of workmen stringing a tape measure outside the athletic complex’s hockey rink.
“What’d he think about that?” Caitlin said, finding her gaze drawn to the two men she noticed had no tools and were wearing scuffed shoes instead of work boots.
“He said he liked gals with guns.”
They continued along the walkway that curved around the park-like grounds, banking left at a small lot where Caitlin had parked her rental. She worked the remote to unlock the doors and watched Dylan ease around to the passenger side, while she turned back toward the hockey rink and the two workmen she couldn’t shake from her mind.
But they were gone.
CHAPTER 2
Providence, Rhode Island
“What’s this WaterFire thing?” Dylan asked, spooning up the last of his ice cream while Caitlin sipped her nightly post-dinner coffee.
“Like a tradition here. Comes highly recommended.”
“You don’t want me going to that frat party.”
“The thought had crossed my mind, but I’m guessing the WaterFire’ll be done ‘fore your party even gets started.”
Dylan held the spoon in his hand and then licked at it.
“How’s the ice cream?”
“It’s Gelato.”
“What’s the difference?”
“None, I guess.
They had chosen to eat at a restaurant called Paragon, again on the recommendation of Coach Estes, a fashionably loud, lit, and reasonably priced bistro-like restaurant on the student-dominated Thayer Street across from the University bookstore. Dylan ordered a pizza while Caitlin ruminated over the menu choices before eventually opting for what she always did: a steak. You can take the gal out of Texas, she thought to herself, but you can’t take Texas out of the gal.
“I hear this Waterfire is something special,” Caitlin said, when she saw him checking his watch.
“Yeah? Who told you that?”
“Coach Estes. What do you say we head downtown and check it out?”
* * *
They walked through the comfortable cool of the early evening darkness, a welcome respite from the sweltering spring heat wave that had struck Texas just before they’d left. Caitlin wanted to talk, but Dylan wouldn’t look up from his iPhone, banging out text after text. 
They strolled up a slight hill and then down a steeper one, joining the thick flow of people heading for the sounds of the nighttime festival known as WaterFire. The air was crisp and laced with the pungent aroma of wood smoke drifting up from Providence’s downtown area, where the masses of milling people were headed. The scents grew stronger while the harmonic strains of music sharpened the closer they drew to an area bridged by walkways crisscross-ing a river that ran the entire length of the modest office buildings and residential towers that dominated the city’s skyline. A performance area had been roped off at the foot of the hill, currently occupied by a group of white-faced mimes. An array of pushcarts offering various grilled meats as well as snacks and sweets were lined up nearby, most with hefty lines before them.
The tightest clusters of festival patrons moved in both directions down a walkway at the river’s edge. Cait-lin realized the strange and haunting strains of music had their origins down here as well and moved to join the flow. The black water shimmered like glass, an eerie glow emanat-ing from its surface. Boaters and canoeists paddled lei-surely by. A water taxi packed with seated patrons sipping wine slid past followed by what looked like a gondola straight from Venice.
But it was the source of the orange glow reflecting off the water’s surface that claimed Caitlin’s attention. She could now identify the pungent scent of wood smoke as that of pine and cedar, hearing the familiar crackle of flames as she and Dylan reached a promenade that ran di-rectly alongside the river.
“Caitlin?” Dylan prodded, touching her shoulder.
She jerked to her right, stiffening, the boy’s hand like a hot iron against her shirt.
“Uh-oh,” the boy said. “You got that look.”
“Just don’t like crowds,” Caitlin managed, casting her gaze about. “That’s all.”
A lie, because she felt something wasn’t right, out of rhythm somehow. Her stomach had already tightened and now she could feel the bands of muscle in her neck and shoul-ders knotting up as well.
“Yeah?” Dylan followed before she forced a smile. “And, like, I’m supposed to believe that?”
Before them, a line of bonfires that seemed to rise out of the water curved along the expanse of the Providence river walk. The source of these bonfires, Caitlin saw now, were nearly a hundred steel braziers of flaming wood moored to the water’s surface and stoked by black-shirted workers in a square pontoon-like boat, including one who performed an elaborate fire dance in between tending the flames.
The twisting line of braziers seemed to stretch for-ever into the night. Caitlin and Dylan continued to follow their bright glow amid the crowd, keeping the knee-high re-taining wall on their right. More kiosks selling hotdogs, grilled meats to be stuffed in pockets, kabobs, beverages, and souvenirs had been set up above the river walk on streets and sidewalks. The sights and sounds left her homesick for Texas, the sweet smell of wood smoke reminding her of the scent of barbecue and grilled food wafting over the famed San Antonio River Walk.
Caitlin was imagining that smell when she felt some-thing, not much and not even identifiable at first, yet enough to make her neck hairs stand up. A ripple in the crowd, she realized an instant later, followed almost immediately by more of a buckling indicative of someone forcing their way through it. Instinct twisted Caitlin in the di-rection of the ripple’s origin and the flames’ glow caught a face that was familiar to her.
Because it belonged to one of the workman she’d glimpsed outside the hockey rink back at Brown University. And the second workman stood directly alongside him, hands pulling their jackets back enough to reveal the dark glint of the pistols wedged into their belts.


Author Bio:

Jon Land is the author of more than 30 thrillers, including the bestselling Caitlin Strong Texas Ranger series that includes Strong Enough to Die, Strong Justice, Strong at the Break, Strong Vengeance and, coming this August, Strong Rain Falling. This past fall he resurrected his longtime series hero Blaine McCracken in the E-Book Original Pandora’s Temple, which became a bestseller on both Apple and Amazon and was nominated for a Thriller Award as Best E-Book Original. A follow-up, The Tenth Circle, is slated for release in time for the holiday season. Jon’s first nonfiction book, BETRAYAL, meanwhile, was a national bestseller and was named Best True Crime Book of 2012 by Suspense Magazine. He lives in Providence, Rhode Island and can be found on the Web at jonlandbooks.com.


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