Book Showcase: ABDI’S WORLD by Abdi Abdirahman

SOULstice Publishing Virtual Book Tour, ABDI'S WORLD: THE BLACK CACTUS ON LIFE, RUNNING, AND FUN by Abdi Abdirahman with Myles Schrag and foreword by Mo Farah, photo of Abdi Abdirahmah in white Nike track uniform, with Abdirahman name tag pinned to front of shirt, holding an American flag up in his arms behind him in victory.

Abdi’s World: The Black Cactus on Life, Running, and Fun by Abdi Abdirahman and Myles Schrag with a foreword by Mo Farah
ISBN-10: 1733188789 (paperback)
ISBN-13: 9781733188784 (paperback)
Release Date: August 16, 2021
Publisher: Soulstice Publishing, LLC
Genre: Nonfiction | Memoir | Sports Biographies | Running & Jogging

 
ABDI'S WORLD by Abdi Abdirahman

Abdi’s World is a quirky place where the only American distance athlete to qualify for five Olympics shares the stories that shaped his enduring love of running and his laid-back approach to life. Abdi Abdirahman arrived in Tucson, Arizona, as a teenager when his family escaped civil war in their home country of Somalia. How the “Black Cactus,” as he is affectionately known, stumbled upon a career as one of the world’s most durable and beloved track and road racers of the 21st century is a story of resilience, commitment, and respect for friends and competitors alike—told here in a guide that is part life lessons, part training tips, part autobiography, and all Abdi. He has traveled the globe and shared his joie de vivre at every stop, showing a magician’s ability to balance work and play that anyone young or old, in or out of running, could learn from to live a more meaningful life. Enter Abdi’s World to join him on his insightful journey—and see what happens when you meet his stride.

Purchase Links #CommissionEarned: IndieBound.org | Amazon | BookDepository.com

 

Read an excerpt:

Chapter 3
Representing America . . . Second Time’s a Charm

 

Have you ever been to Seville, Spain?

Neither have I.

I had plans to be there in August 1999, but I didn’t get to go—and I had only myself to blame.

So much was happening to me so fast that year. I was finishing my second year of classes at the University of Arizona and my final year of collegiate eligibility on the track. On the heels of the NCAAs came the USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships at Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon. I was running the 10,000m there in my first post-collegiate race. Though my fitness was still good, I had no idea what to expect in terms of my performance or how a big meet like this would be conducted.

Among those who would be competing—the very best professional distance runners in the country—I recognized plenty of names from the Pac-10 Conference. The top three in each event would qualify for the IAAF World Track and Field Championships, which would be held in Seville. Representing the United States at the Worlds and the Olympics was the best opportunity for these guys to make their money. They weren’t going to show me any mercy.

I felt strong and played it smart in my event. From the start, I and the rest of the field deferred to Alan Culpepper, the favorite. He took charge and we let him. But I hung close and managed to take third place in 28:28.26, six seconds behind Culpepper and four seconds behind runner-up Brad Hauser, one of the Stanford twins I had run against many times over the past two years. In an instant I had achieved something I didn’t think possible—competing at a world-class competition as an American.

Soon, reality replaced my excitement. Paperwork, man. Take care of the details. That’s my hard-earned advice. When you make a national team, the USA Track & Field officials spring into action. Seville was less than two months away even as we crossed the finish line. USATF makes sure you have everything in order so you can make the international trip—passport, visa, fingerprints, shots, a lot of stuff I had never given any thought to. When they said to send them my passport so they could process my application for the trip, I sent them the only document I had: my green card. I didn’t think anything more about it until they called me a few days later and said, “Abdi, we need your passport.” A green card shows you’re in the United States legally, but it doesn’t make you a citizen.

I hadn’t been out of the United States since I arrived in 1993 through a program for Somali refugees. I’d been running and going to school for the past six years. My parents had always taken care of life’s details. They gained citizenship while I was in college, so I assumed that meant I was a U.S. citizen too. What I discovered was that my two brothers and four sisters, all under age 18, received automatic citizenship when my parents did. But I was an adult by then; I had to apply on my own. The clock to Seville was ticking down, and time wasn’t in my favor. I tried to fast-track citizenship, and there are mechanisms for doing that. But I couldn’t get it done soon enough.

When Culpepper and Hauser were running around the track at Seville’s Estadio Olímpico, I was watching it on TV in Tucson. While I was frustrated with myself and understood how I had made the mistake, I also felt like I had let down Meb Keflezighi, my UCLA friend who placed fourth at nationals and would have earned the third spot had I not been there. Meb didn’t have a qualifying time that met the standard required to go to Worlds. By the time I got this all sorted out, he didn’t have time to run a race that might have gotten him a qualifying mark. I’m a laid-back guy and don’t mind making fun of myself. I let things go pretty quickly . . . grudges, regrets, mistakes. But more than 20 years later, this is still a little embarrassing because it wasn’t fair to Meb.

Surely I’m the only athlete who has missed being on a national team because he didn’t know he wasn’t a citizen. Since then, I’ve been proud to represent the United States at the Olympics and the World Championships in track and cross country 13 times. But I can’t count this one.

If anything, this incident reminds me how naïve I was back then. I didn’t have big ambitions of being a runner; I had no big plans at all. Not getting the opportunity to be on the track in Seville in 1999 was an eye-opener. It made me realize I needed to take care of the details if I wanted to run at this level. The Olympic Trials were less than a year away, and I really wanted to wear a USA jersey. I barely remembered Somalia, but in America I had found a place where I could feel at home.

It was time to make it official.

***

As it turns out, if you allow enough time, the process of becoming an American isn’t so difficult. After passing the citizenship interview and exam, I was ready. I became a U.S. citizen on January 28, 2000, just under a month after I “officially” turned 23 years old. Like many refugees who arrive at a border without proof of birth, I was assigned a January 1 birthdate by immigration officials when I entered the United States. My actual birthdate is March 21, 1977, according to my mom, but you won’t see that anywhere else but here.

In just a few weeks, I would compete for a spot on the U.S. team that would go to the IAAF World Cross Country Championships. My family had moved to Seattle, Washington, while I was in college, so Coach Murray joined me for a simple naturalization ceremony at the Pima County Courthouse in Tucson.

When you become naturalized as an American citizen, you stand in a strange sort of limbo. You are asked to support and defend the U.S. Constitution and the laws of the United States against its enemies. You give up allegiance to any other nation. I had no problem committing to that and taking the oath of allegiance. Also on that day, the emcee names each of the former countries of the new citizens. When I heard “Somalia,” I stood up to acknowledge that was my old country. It’s a funny place to stand. I felt like I had been practicing becoming an American for the past six-plus years. Because of my incredibly rewarding college experience—which was still happening, since I would be taking a few more classes to complete my degree—I was comfortable saying I wanted to be a permanent part of American society. I felt American.

It was humbling and thrilling—I could feel a transition happening in real time. But as with my early days at U of A, where I felt increasingly accepted and open to all that was going on around me, it didn’t change how I saw others. I didn’t feel better than non–U.S. citizens I knew, just like I didn’t feel better than other students at Arizona. I didn’t feel like I was turning my back on Somalia, either. I was just stepping into who I wanted to be: an American. Likewise, I didn’t feel better about myself when I beat other guys in races during my college career, and I didn’t feel worse about myself when I lost to them. In all these situations, if you compare yourself to others and try to take on their journeys, you lose sight of where you want to go.

Excerpt from Abdi’s World by Abdi Abdirahman and Myles Schrag. Copyright 2021 © by Abdi Abdirahman and Myles Schrag. Reproduced with permission. All rights reserved.

Meet the Author

Abdi is an American long-distance runner and a five-time Olympian competing for the United States in the marathon in the upcoming Summer Olympics (July).

Born in Hargeisa, Somalia, Abdirahman graduated from Tucson High School in 1995 and attended Pima Community College before transferring to the University of Arizona for his junior and senior years. At Arizona, Abdirahman was named the 1998 Pacific-10 Conference Cross Country Male
Athlete of the Year. He finished second at the 1998 NCAA Cross Country Championships.

He launched his Olympic career when he competed in the 10,000 meters at the 2000 Summer Olympics. Abdirahman has competed in three Summer Olympics since and is the first American distance runner ever to make five Olympic teams.

At the 2020 United States Olympic Trials in Atlanta, Abdi finished 3rd in the marathon with a time of 2:10:03, securing his place on a fifth Olympic team, and, at 43, becoming the oldest American runner ever to make the Olympic team.

Connect with the Abdi via: Instagram | Twitter

 

This excerpt and virtual book tour brought to you by PR By The Book

Book Showcase: PRIMORDIAL by David L. Sobel

PRIMORDIAL Virtual Book Tour Banner, Red background with white torn paper listing all of the virtual book tour stops between June 14 through June 18; book cover, white background, with blood droplets beside the tips of opened surgical forceps, PRIMORDIAL is in large red letters across the forceps, David L. Sobel, MD, JD is also in red below the forceps.

Primordial by David Sobel
ISBN: 9781736303504 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781736303511 (ebook)
ASIN: B08Q7Z9MZF (Kindle edition)
Release Date: December 7, 2020
Genre: Fiction | Thriller | Medical Thriller

Primordial by David Sobel, is a Crichton-like thriller that centers on the plights of two scientists separated by decades and borders but united in their obsessive quest for the physical location of the soul. Jonas, a hospital attorney, begins to suspect that someone is targeting patients in his NYC hospital. With the help of two residents, his search for answers will bring him face to face with a killer.

Thought-provoking, both scientifically and ethically, Primordial is a story that spans decades of medical and legal mystery, history and suspense. It will transport readers to a Nazi medical laboratory in World War II, then back to present day New York City where an unlikely trio, Jonas the experienced hospital lawyer, “Early” the quirky urology resident, and Rachel, the wickedly smart neurosurgery resident, struggle to piece together a series of unexplained killings. Debut author Dr. Sobel weaves his medical expertise and extensive historical research in a twisted tangle of secrets that will keep readers on the edge of their seats.

Read an excerpt:

Rudolph “Rudy” Walla was sweating.

He stood, perfectly still, within the one-meter square sentry post that was positioned just inside the back gate of the Seelentor concentration camp. The post was a tiny glass and wood structure with a small external cut-out that housed a potbelly stove. The stove, on this bitter February night, poured molten heat into the structure. Rudy’s breath, exhaled in the long drawl of the bored and tired, condensed on the front pane of glass, obscuring his view. He was just able to discern the shadowy outline of the SS-Schutze—the private—who had occupied the post before Rudy came looking for a reprieve from the cold. He smiled at the thought of a sentry post with a frosted view and of the private, hunched and angry, pacing in the cold. Not much to see anyway, he thought to himself, returning to his slow, metered breathing. Rudy was in a corner of Poland—forgotten, miserable, stoic, and sweating. God, was he sweating.

Rudy’s wool uniform, the severe black of the SS, was plastered to his body. Each movement was a sticky uncomfortableness. The commander of the camp had called the sentry post the Aufrechten Sarg—the “upright coffin.” And, as horrible as the coffin was, it beat the blistering cold that was just on the other side of the glass. It was early morning. Dawn was approaching and the sun was just tickling the sky, turning the black into a bruised dark blue. The earth felt as if every ounce of heat had been stolen away. A brittle and broken, icicle-white wasteland. His sanctuary was a stifling coffin. Rudy thought of Ishmael and the white whale. And, not uncommon on a lonely, sleepless night, he thought of the hand of fate that had steered him all the way from his childhood in Berlin to this tiny box in this foreign land.

Excerpt from Primordial by David Sobel. Copyright © by David Sobel. Reproduced with permission. All rights reserved.

Meet The Author

Author - David Sobel MD JD

David Sobel, M.D./J.D. is a board-certified practicing urologist who specializes in sexual medicine and is a faculty member at the University of Colorado. He has over 21 years of experience and graduated from the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine. Prior to becoming a physician, he was a corporate lawyer with Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison in NYC. Dr. Sobel is also a founder of Emmi Solutions, a company that creates education modules that assist patients with their medical care. He lives in Denver with his wife and two children.

Connect with the Author:

Facebook | Goodreads | Instagram | Twitter

 

This excerpt and virtual book tour brought to you by PR By The Book

Book Showcase: CATCH 42 by Felix Holzapfel

CATCH 42 Virtual Book Tour banner; May 17 through May 21; PR by the Book Virtual Book Tour

CATCH 42 - FHolzapfel

Catch-42 by Felix Holzapfel
ISBN: 9781736164112 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781736164105 (ebook)
ASIN: B08PD9KRBC (Kindle edition)
Publisher: Quovabiz Inc.
Release Date: May 13, 2021
Genre: Fiction | Tech Thriller

 A glimpse of a future that may be right around the corner.

Tech thriller Catch-42 offers a mind-blowing tour of potential uses for AI, biotech, quantum computing, and robotics, all within a suspense-filled story packed with unexpected twists.

Dan is an ordinary guy, scrambling to make a living, who has the most extraordinary dream. A mysterious voice from the future asks for his help. He finds himself transported to a technological wonderland where everyone’s dreams can come true. Could this be nirvana, a peaceful and clear state of mind, or is this life destroying the one thing that makes us human? Whose vision of the future should Dan believe: that of the New World Order of WeYou, or the revolution of an underground movement called Teccupy?

Before Dan can make his choice, he must learn how we got from here to there. We are with Dan at every moment as he is forced to choose sides and think the unthinkable, make the impossible possible, and turn a hopeless situation into a solvable problem in his search for the ultimate catch-42.

Brimming with current scientific findings, Catch-42 is a novel like no other that raises fundamental and philosophical questions whose answers depend on us all.

 
 Purchase Links #CommissionEarned: Indiebound.org | Amazon | Amazon Kindle | Barnes and Noble | BookDepository.com | Kobo eBook

 

 Read An Excerpt:

 

1) Daydream

The first contact

Damn! This dull light throbbing in my head is going to drive me insane—as if how completely drained I feel after my eight-hour shift at the construction site isn’t enough. I know, I know, I’m lucky and shouldn’t complain with jobs being so scarce. Still, I’m only thirty-five. Instead of a machine running at full speed, my body feels like its engine is about to explode. I have five minutes in this parking lot before I have to head to my second job. How can I extricate myself from this dark despair that threatens to smother my last spark of—

A deep voice sounds in my mind.

“Hi, Dan. A lot has changed recently, hasn’t it? And not for the better, right? You think your life sucks? Frankly, this is nothing compared to the future challenges in the world from which I’m speaking to you—the world of WeYou. Despite an explosion of innovation and some unbelievable breakthroughs, we’re stuck—trapped in a dead end. We believe we’ve found everything we need to achieve humanity’s ultimate target: immortality. Yet something mysterious we can’t explain and don’t understand prevents us from using that knowledge. We feel like the final breakthrough for humanity is hidden behind a door that we can’t open no matter how hard we try—and the longer we take to open that door, the more people become victims of a strange phenomenon that destroys their brains. We urgently need to open this door and reveal the secrets behind it to rescue humanity and move to the next level, or we will soon become extinct. We believe we lost the key to this door somewhere between your time and ours, and we need your help to find it.”

What a weird daydream! I want to open my eyes, but for some reason I can’t. The mysterious voice continues:

“Look. You have a major problem with reuniting your family. Well, we have a major problem, too—tick-tock, tick-tock—and you may be the only one who can solve it. Here’s the deal: help us find the, and we’ll see that you get your family back, save your family business, and we’ll throw in a bonus. You scratch our back, and we’ll scratch yours. That simple. What do you say?”

My brain feels like it’s functioning at snail pace. How the heck can I be any help to anyone in this condition?

“Don’t worry. You may have heard that humans use only ten percent of their brain’s capacity. That’s a myth. The majority of your brain is active—even when you rest, sleep, or perform simple actions. But only a minority of your brain is more active, while the majority is less active. If you come to our world, you’ll be able to use all your brain capacity at full speed at the same time, one hundred percent—or more. No more snail pace but thinking with the speed of light, baby. Your world won’t even notice you’re gone! You can continue living in your own world using the more active part of your brain; we just need to transfer parts of your less-active brain capacity to our world. Using your brainpower for only a couple of hours should do the job. What we actually need isn’t your brain capacity so much as your way of thinking. Your brain’s navigation system works differently from the way ours works today. We believe this minor difference in brain function is critical to our finding the lost key and discovering the secrets for which we’re searching. If you help us to solve this ultimate challenge, we’ll be able to help you, too.”

“Once we find the lost key, you can return to your world with the ability to use the full capacity of your brain. Think about what you would be able to achieve! You could invent almost anything you can imagine and pave the way to immortality in your world, too. In addition, you could solve all your problems: fix your relationship with your wife, see your kids again, save your family business, get rich, help others. You could do whatever you want. How does that sound?”

Crazy—that’s how it sounds! I’m no Newton, Einstein, or Hawking. I’m an ordinary guy whose life has become a nightmare. How am I supposed to discover the ultimate secret of humanity? It doesn’t make any sense.

“Did you know, Dan, that Albert Einstein was an ordinary civil servant at a patent office in Switzerland before he became one of the most famous scientists ever? He seemed to be nobody special, but extraordinary skills are hidden in all of us. You need to find them and push the right buttons to activate them. In the world of WeYou, you’ll be able to do exactly that. You can be and do whatever you want without limitations. We scanned all humans in your time. Based on the structure of your brain and your way of thinking, and because of your current circumstances and the prospect of improving them, our analysis predicts that you are the most likely candidate to help us accomplish our mission. Think about it . . . Will you help us?”

What do I have to lose? Right now, nothing. But only if I can wake up. Then they can do whatever they want with the capacities of my brain, especially if nobody will notice anyway. All I wanted was a little break. Now I really must get going to my next job.

Just as I’m about to open my eyes, a massive flash hits me, sharpening all my senses. Another voice—a soft voice—whispers from somewhere far down in my subconscious:

“Don’t trust them; they’re evil! WeYou is based on a huge lie! Be careful. Things are not what they seem. After you enter the world of WeYou and the time is right to introduce you to the Teccupy rebellion, we’ll be in touch. Together we’ll rouse humanity and end the WeYou nightmare. Together we’ll bring real enlightenment and freedom to everyone.”

I start, fully awake, as if nothing has happened. All that remains is a strange feeling somewhere deep inside, but I don’t have time to think about any of this. I need to hurry up.

Excerpt from Catch-42 by Felix Holzapfel.

Copyright © 2021 by Felix Holzapfel. Published by Quovabiz Inc.

All Rights Reserved. Used With Permission.

 

Meet The Author

Steven Zeh Photography // http://www.stevenzeh.de

Thinkers360 recognized Felix Holzapfel as a Top10 Global Thought Leader in Digital Transformation. During the last two decades, Holzapfel has been privileged to support many global players on their way to the digital age. While he has published several books about technology, trends, and the shift in our media landscape, Catch-42 is his first novel and a book he has wanted to write for a long time. Having sold his digital marketing agency to one of the world’s leading IT services providers, he now has time for this passion project.

Connect with the Author:

Facebook | Instagram | LinkedIn | Twitter | Website | Author Website

This excerpt and tour brought to you via PR By The Book

Guest Post: W. Craig Reed – STATUS-6

Good day, my bookish peeps. I hope you’re all enjoying the warmer weather and getting plenty of reading done. Since the pandemic began, I’ve been reading quite a bit of romance, not to mention re-re-reading some favorites. This Spring has been the first time in almost year that I’ve been reading other genres, namely more historical fiction, mystery, thrillers, suspense, etc. Yes, I know that I have thousands of titles already on my TBR list, but I’m always looking for new books and new-to-me authors. This is just one of many reasons I love virtual book tours. Today, I get to introduce you to a new-to-me author and I hope that you’ll be adding his books to your TBR list. Please help me welcome, W. Craig Reed, author of Status-6, a military thriller. Mr. Reed is retired submariner and a writer of nonfiction as well as fiction oft focusing on the military. I’m incredibly honored to welcome him to the blog today as he discusses the Kursk submarine disaster. Thank you, Mr. Reed, for taking the time to join us today, the blog is now yours.

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The Untold Truth About the Kursk Submarine Disaster

August 12, 2020 marked the twentieth anniversary of the most terrifying tragedy in submarine naval history. The Russian submarine Kursk was lost with all hands—118 souls—during a naval exercise in the Barents Sea. The Russians claimed that an antiquated torpedo had exploded and caused the incident, that the twenty-three survivors in the aft section died on the first day, and that a U.S. spy submarine had collided with the Kursk. The first two claims were lies. The last may have been true. Moreover, the Kursk submarine propelled Putin to power and its demise allowed him to rebuild Russia and ignite a new cold war with the West.

In August 1999, the Kursk undertook a secret mission to sneak in close to the USS Theodore Roosevelt—an aircraft carrier featured in the news in 2020 due to a COVID-19 outbreak. At that time, U.S. antisubmarine warfare (ASW) forces could not detect the Kursk, which could have obliterated the Roosevelt with one push of a button.

The Kursk returned to fanfare, and Vladimir Putin, struggling in the polls with only 2 percent of the presidential vote, met with the Kursk’s captain and praised the crew. Putin, whose father had been a Russian submariner, later visited a Russian naval base and completed a ceremony to become an honorary submariner. He then pointed to the Kursk’s mission success and promised to rebuild the Russian navy, which would provide jobs and prosperity to an impoverished nation. This platform propelled Putin to 53% of the vote in March 2000.

Eight days after Putin was elected president, he ordered a U.S. spy—former naval officer Edmond Pope—thrown into jail for trying to obtain plans for Russia’s top secret Shkval rocket torpedo. This frightening weapon used secret technology that allowed it to hit 200 knots underwater, making it four times faster than a U.S. MK48 torpedo. Now desperate for intelligence information, the NSA tasked two spy subs, the USS Memphis and USS Toledo, to monitor an upcoming Russian naval exercise in the Barents Sea in August 2000.

The Kursk had been selected to test fire the Shkval torpedo during the exercise, and on August 12, the USS Toledo snuck in close to record the firing. The tragic events that unfolded during this exercise were covered up by Russian and NATO officials for almost twenty years.

The Russians claimed that an unstable propellant in an outdated Type 65 torpedo caused the initial explosion. They suggested that the torpedo was loaded into an unclean tube moments before the scheduled firing, and the irritants ignited the unstable fuel. Any torpedoman, whether NATO or Russian, knows that torpedoes are loaded and ready in clean tubes hours before a test-firing. Also, two civilian experts from the Dagdizel military plant were in the torpedo room monitoring the exercise and would not have allowed an unstable weapon to be mishandled.

Several high-ranking officials aboard the Kursk and the target warship, the Peter the Great, observed the exercise. The two vessels were thirty miles apart. A Type 65 torpedo at top speed would have taken thirty minutes to reach the target and would have run out of fuel before arriving—an event not likely to attract an audience of senior military personnel. Experts and officials have since revealed that the Kursk was not test firing an old Type 65 weapon, but rather the new Shkval rocket torpedo.

Interviews with numerous experts and officials have verified that a Shkval became lodged in the tube during the firing exercise. After the firing mechanism was triggered, the Shkval was programmed to light off the rocket engine. Unable to leave the tube, the torpedo blew off the aft torpedo tube door, and two minutes later, the fire ignited the fuel in other torpedoes and caused the second, catastrophic explosion. Interviews with submariners aboard the USS Memphis and Toledo, the two U.S. spy subs monitoring the exercise, also reveal that a U.S. sub may have inadvertently caused the Shkval to become lodged in the tube due to a scrape or near-collision with the Kursk.

The secondary explosion disintegrated the forward sections of the Kursk, but the aft compartments remained intact. Twenty-three survivors awaited a rescue that never arrived. New and shocking evidence revealed by the dive teams involved in the rescue operation show that the Russians, while using antiquated rescue vehicles, may have accidentally flooded the aft escape trunk on the Kursk, which led to the demise of the survivors.

A month after the incident, Vladimir Putin and Bill Clinton met in New York and inside sources believe they conspired to cover-up facts to prevent a conflict or even a war. Putin then leveraged the Kursk tragedy to wrest control of energy firms from oligarchs and rebuild Russia’s wealth. He invested much of that wealth into building a formidable new navy that now threatens vital sea lanes.

Given that 90 percent of the goods we buy are transported across ocean sea lanes, any compromises or conflicts that disrupt shipping might cause shortages and economic hardships that could be worse than what we have witnessed during the pandemic.

Now that Putin has been granted an extension of power until 2036, what’s next on his agenda and how might that affect all of us? China, Iran, and North Korea have reverse-engineered the Russian Shkval torpedo to create unbelievable weapons of mass destruction that now threaten sea lanes and could one day trigger another world war. Perhaps this is why the infamous Doomsday Clock is now at only two minutes to “world annihilation” midnight.

Source: http://wcraigreed.com/nonfiction/spies-of-the-deep/


STATUS-6

by W. Craig Reed

May 1 – 31, 2021 Tour

 

Synopsis:

 

Deep beneath the Arctic Ocean, a covert team of Chinese operatives uses stolen U.S. technology to capture Russia’s newest attack submarine. Loaded with 100-megaton nuclear torpedoes, the sub is headed west. The Americans want to sink her, the Russians want her back, and the Chinese claim they’re not responsible.

NCIS agent Jon Shay is a former SEAL Team Two operator. Still shattered by the murder of his wife a year earlier, he places the barrel of a revolver against his temple, spins the cylinder, and squeezes the trigger. He hears only a click—and the chime of his phone. Activated for a mission in the Arctic, Jon pairs with British scientist Kate Barrett to battle a ticking clock, trained operatives, and top government officials. Together, they must find and stop the world’s most lethal submarine. The stakes are raised when they learn that the Russian sub is controlled by an infected AI system bent on completing its mission to create a nuclear winter.

 

Praise for Status-6:

“W. Craig Reed’s Status-6 is my vote for Thriller of the Year. The protagonist is Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan meets Lee Child’s Jack Reacher.” — Grant Blackwood, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Tom Clancy’s “Under Fire

“W. Craig Reed’s latest novel, Status-6, is the best book I’ve read this year—a ripped-from-the-headlines military technothriller that literally left me awake at night, fearful of where we’re headed as a nation and a species. What’s next after the nightmare coronavirus pandemic? Don’t miss this first book in the NCIS Special Ops series that promises to shatter the thriller genre.” — James Rollins, #1 New York Times bestselling author of “The Demon Crown (Sigma Force)”

“W. Craig Reed’s Status-6 grabs you from page one and doesn’t let you go. The global security crisis revealed in this book is all-too-real and could well be tomorrow’s headlines. The characters are well-nuanced and provide a powerful urge to root for or against them. Don’t read this thriller before going to bed—you’ll be awake all night!” — George Gladorisi, New York Times bestselling author of the Tom Clancy Op Center series

Status-6 Book Details:

Genre: Military Thriller
Published by: Post Hill Press
Publication Date: April 13th 2021
Number of Pages: 256
ISBN: 1682619354 (ISBN13: 9781682619353)
Series: Status-6 is the first book in the NCIS Special Ops Thriller series.
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Author Bio:

Author - W Craig Reed

William Craig Reed is the New York Times bestselling author of thrillers and non-fiction military and business books including Spies of the Deep: The Untold Story of the Most Terrifying Incident in Submarine Naval History and How Putin Used The Tragedy To Ignite a New Cold War and the critically acclaimed Red November (HarperCollins). Also, The Seven Secrets of Neuron-Leadership (Wiley), an award-winning business book, and Tarzan, My Father (ECW) co-written with the late Johnny Weissmuller, Jr.

Reed served as a U.S. Navy submariner and diver during the Cold War and earned commendations for completing secret missions, some in concert with SEAL Team One. Reed’s military experience and inside contacts help infuse his writing with intrigue and realism, and inspired his next non-fiction book, Also, this novel: STATUS-6 about a former SEAL Team Two operator turned NCIS agent that teams with a British female scientist to stop a Russian submarine controlled by an infected artificial intelligence.

Reed holds an MBA in Marketing and was a former vice president and board director for the Silicon Valley American Marketing Association. Reed is the co-founder of Us4Warriors, an award-winning Veterans Non-Profit and serves on the Board of Aretanium, a wellness firm that leverages the neuroscience he wrote about in his leadership book to provide personalized wellness and professional development programs to accelerate brains, careers, and relationships.

Catch Up With W. Craig Reed:
WCraigReed.com
Goodreads
BookBub: @wc14
Instagram: @wcraigreed
Twitter: @wcraigreed
Facebook: @wcraigreed

Tour Participants:

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Book Showcase: DON’T F*** THIS UP! by Fred Stuvek Jr.



Don’t F*** This Up!: A Guide for Students and Graduates or Anyone Making A Fresh Start by Fred Stuvek Jr.
ISBN: 9781732306042 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781732306059 (ebook)
ASIN: B08C5MQVSV   (Kindle edition)
Publisher: Triumvirate Press
Publication Date: July 7, 2020



The margin of error is shrinking…



Has the new normal just f***ed up the future for young adults? 

Thanks to a global pandemic, they’re entering adulthood, their college career, or the workforce during record unemployment, a terrifying economy, and social guidelines that have all but eliminated life as we knew it. 

And what about the millions of newly unemployed workers in America? As they look for a fresh start, how will they overcome the challenges of an economy decimated by COVID-19?

If having a strategy for the future was important before, now it’s critical. The choices new grads, young adults, or the newly unemployed make and the practices they adopt right now are going to shape not only their career but every other aspect of their life as well. 

Fred Stuvek, Jr. has some hard-earned life lessons to share with them. As a former athlete who served in the military and successfully started his own business, he has advice for those looking to thrive in this battered economy. 

In Don’t F*** This Up!, he explains how harnessing certain proven success principles will help guide those looking for a new start in a world where the margin of error is narrower than ever. He can explain the following in more detail:


  • Adopt high standards and become disciplined
  • Learn how to focus on goal setting from a Hall of Fame athlete turned soldier
  • Develop and improve essential relationships from someone who has built successful businesses
  • Establish a high level of personal integrity through the right actions and attitude 
  • Develop the resilience and grit to overcome adversity







Purchase Links: #CommissionEarned   IndieBound  |  Amazon  |  Amazon Kindle  |  Barnes & Noble  |  <Nook Book  |  BookDepository  |  Kobo eBook





Author Q&A



Don’t F*** This Up!: A Guide for Students and Graduates
or Anyone Making a Fresh Start



1.  Your book is titled, Don’t F*** This Up!. That is pretty direct. What exactly do you mean by it and how did you decide on it?

Due to this pandemic students and graduates will be facing one of the bleakest employment environments in generations. Opportunities will be limited, and the margin of error is much less than in former times. While the title is visceral, I wanted to emphasize the importance to my target audience that now, more than ever, it is critical to be prepared and get it right the first time.


2.  You have excelled in sports, the military, and in business. What is the key piece of advice you have gained from this trifecta of experience that you want to give to those making a fresh start in this bad economy?

Nothing gets accomplished without discipline, commitment, and a team working together. Your discipline will ensure you follow through on your plan; that firm commitment in your mission will ensure you have the resiliency to stay the course when adversity strikes; and everyone has each other’s back.  


3.  How is your book unique from other self-help books out there?

Success is not one dimensional, it entails a number of issues that must converge. The absence or weakness in one area of more will impact your ability to reach your full potential. To the best of my knowledge, there isn’t a book out there that comprehensively and specifically addresses the entire range of issues for someone to be successful by telling them WHAT is important, WHY it is important, and HOW you do something about it. 


4.  You say that your advice may be hard for people to hear. Why is that?

You are responsible for you and accountable for yourself. You are not a victim of circumstances. The life you are living is based on the habits you have formed, the decisions you made, and the people you associate with. If you want a better life, develop better habits, make better decisions, and re-evaluate who you are hanging out with.


5.  Can you go over a couple of the core ideas for success that you outline in the book?

In order to be motivated and fulfilled there are two issues that are important – alignment and filling in the gaps. When I say alignment you have to understand what motivates you and match those beliefs with your personality, skillset, interests, and values. The other issue is the gaps – you need to understand what areas you fall short in and work on improving your skills in those areas. You also have to be honest with yourself and don’t try to be something you are not. Otherwise, you have a mismatch which ultimately will result in dissatisfaction, stress, burn-out, and spill over into your personal life.  


6.  You say that the margin for error is narrowing for people starting out in the workforce. What do you mean by that?

Many companies are streamlining, cutting costs, or putting plans on hold until they are better able to gauge the impact COVID19 will have on the economy and their business. As a result, there will be fewer jobs available which will translate into fewer opportunities for them. This may also translate to new business models where companies revert to a hybrid version of their former self from both an expense and staffing standpoint. They say “you only get one chance to make a first impression.” The same holds true here.  


7.  COVID-19 has decimated the economy. For those who have been laid off, what is your biggest piece of advice as they look for a fresh start?

Your mindset, preparation, and commitment will carry you through. Be prepared, be positive, and persevere. Understand there will be rejection and frustration, don’t take it personally, it is part of the process, so put it behind you. Learn from it and move on. Your determination and zeal will ultimately resonate with someone, so never give up, never surrender, and always move forward, even if it is one small step at a time. 


8.  Ultimately, what do you hope readers take away from your book?

Your achievement in life will be determined by the belief and confidence you have in yourself and what you do. You need to develop the right mindset, develop good habits, and make good decisions. To make those decisions you need to know what questions to ask, how to get the answers, and a process to follow. This book is a roadmap to do exactly that and will be a valuable ongoing reference. 


9.  How/where can readers purchase Don’t F*** This Up!?#

It is available in hard copy and eBook through a number of sources such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Apple. You can also go to my website https://fredstuvek.com, where the purchase tab on my home page will direct you to a number of sources where you can purchase either version. 
(#NOTE: Purchase Links are also provided at the top of this post.)

10.  Is there anything else you’d like to tell us about the book?

What is laid out in my book is not based on theory. What I recommend is proven, it works. 




Meet The Author


FRED STUVEK JR. has achieved extraordinary success in diverse realms. He has been inducted into the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame for achievements in football, basketball, baseball, and track. He graduated from the United States Naval Academy, after lettering three years as quarterback for the Midshipmen. After serving as a Naval Officer, he transitioned to the business world where he has held senior leadership positions in private and public companies, both domestically and internationally. Key successes include an international medical imaging start-up that led to a successful IPO and forming a private medical services company, which he subsequently sold. From the playing field to the war room, to the board room, his leadership and accomplishments have given him a distinct perspective and a results-oriented mindset.



Connect to the author via his Website, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter, or YouTube.




Giveaway

Enter to win a print copy of Don’t F*** This Up! by Fred Stuvek Jr. This giveaway is limited to US residents only; non-US residents will be disqualified. Giveaway begins at 12:01 AM ET on 08/25/2020 and runs through 11:59 PM ET on 09/01/2020. The winner will be announced by 10:00 AM ET on 09/02/2020. Book will be provided by PR by the Book at the conclusion of the tour. Void where prohibited by law.


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This Q&A, giveaway, and tour brought to you by PR By The Book

Book Showcase: THE KIDS ARE GONNA ASK by Gretchen Anthony


The Kids Are Gonna Ask by Gretchen Anthony
ISBN: 9780778308744 (trade paperback)
ISBN: 9781488051005 (ebook)
ISBN: 9781488208720 (digital audiobook)
ASIN: B07R16ZYV2   (Kindle edition)
Publisher: Park Row Books
Publication Date: July 28, 2020


A whip-smart, entertaining novel about twin siblings who become a national phenomenon after launching a podcast to find the biological father they never knew.

The death of Thomas and Savannah McClair’s mother turns their world upside down. Raised to be fiercely curious by their grandmother Maggie, the twins become determined to learn the identity of their biological father. And when their mission goes viral, an eccentric producer offers them a dream platform: a fully sponsored podcast called The Kids Are Gonna Ask. To discover the truth, Thomas and Savannah begin interviewing people from their mother’s past and are shocked when the podcast ignites in popularity. As the attention mounts, they get caught in a national debate they never asked for—but nothing compares to the mayhem that ensues when they find him.

Cleverly constructed, emotionally perceptive and sharply funny, The Kids Are Gonna Ask is a rollicking coming-of-age story and a moving exploration of all the ways we can go from lost to found.






Purchase Links: #CommissionEarned   IndieBound  |  Amazon  |  AppleBooks  |  Barnes & Noble  |  BookDepository  |  Books-A-Million  |  Google Play



Read an Excerpt

JULY



The house had become an aquarium—one side tank, the other, fingerprint-smeared glass—with Thomas McClair on the inside looking out. There had been a dozen protests outside their home in less than a week, all for the McClairs to—what, enjoy? Critique? Reject? There was no making sense of it. 

Tonight, Thomas pulled his desk chair up to the window and kicked his feet onto the sill. He’d been too anxious to eat dinner, but his mind apparently hadn’t notified his stomach, which now growled and cramped. He was seventeen. He could swallow a whole pizza and wash it down with a half-gallon of milk, then go back for more, especially being an athlete. But that was before. 

Before the podcast, before the secrets, before the wave of national attention. Now he was just a screwup with a group of strangers swarming the parkway across the street from his house because he’d practically invited them to come. 

He deserved to feel awful. 

The McClairs had been locked in the house for a week, leaving Thomas short of both entertainment and sanity. He had no choice but to watch the show unfolding outside. Stuck in his beige bedroom, with the Foo Fighters at Wembley poster and the Pinewood Derby blue ribbons, overlooking the front lawn and the driveway and the hand-me-down Volvo neither he nor Savannah had driven since last week. There they stood—a crowd of milling strangers, all vying for the McClairs’ attention. All these people with their causes. Some who came to help or ogle. More who came to hate. 

Thomas brought his face almost to the glass and tried to figure out the newly assembling crowd. Earlier that day, out of all the attention seekers, one guy in particular had stood out. He wore black jeans, black boots, a black beanie—a massive amount of clothing for the kind of day where you could see the summer heat curling up from the pavement—and a black T-shirt that screamed WHO’S PAYING YOU? in pink neon. He also held a leash attached to a life-size German shepherd plushy toy. 

Some of the demonstrators had gone home for the night, only to be replaced by a candlelight vigil. And a capella singing. There were only about a dozen people in the group, all women, except for two tall guys in the back lending their baritones to a standard rotation of hymns. “Amazing Grace” first, followed by “Jesus Loves the Little Children.” Now they were into a song Thomas didn’t know, but the longer he listened, he figured hundred-to-one odds that the lyrics consisted of no more than three words, repeated over and over. They hit the last note and raised their candles high above their heads. By daaaaaaaaaaaayyyy. 

“No more,” he begged into the glass. “I can’t take any more.” 

A week. Of this. 

Of protests, rallies and news crews with their vans and satellites and microphones. 

Of his sister, Savannah, locked in her room, refusing to speak to him. 

Of his grandmother Maggie in hers, sick with worry. 

Of finding—then losing—his biodad, the missing piece of his mother’s story. And his own. 

Thomas was left to deal with it all. Because he’d started it. And because he was a finisher. And most of all, because it wasn’t over yet.



Excerpt from The Kids Are Gonna Ask by Gretchen Anthony. 
Copyright © 2020 by Gretchen Anthony. Published by Park Row Books. 
All Rights Reserved. Reprinted with permission.





Meet The Author


Author Photo by M. Brian Hartz
GRETCHEN ANTHONY is the author of Evergreen Tidings from the Baumgartners, which was a Midwestern Connections Pick and a best books pick by Amazon, BookBub, PopSugar, and the New York Post. Her work has been featured in The Washington Post, Medium, and The Write Life, among others. She lives in Minneapolis with her family.



Connect to the author via her website, Goodreads, Instagram, or Twitter.



This excerpt brought to you by Park Row Books

Book Showcase: TOOTH FOR TOOTH by JK Franko

Tooth for Tooth

by JK Franko

on Tour June 1 – July 31, 2020




Synopsis:

Tooth for Tooth by JK Franko


What would YOU do?



What would you do if you got away with murder? Would you stop there? Could you?

Susie and Roy thought that they committed the perfect crime.

Their planning was meticulous. Their execution flawless.

But, there is always a loose end, isn’t there? Always a singing bone.

Now, while enemies multiply and suspicions abound, their perfect world begins to crumble.

The hunters have become the hunted.

IN THIS BLISTERINGLY RELENTLESS SEQUEL TO HIS DEBUT SHOCKER, EYE FOR EYE, J.K. FRANKO TAKES READERS ON A BREATHTAKING JOURNEY OF CAT AND MOUSE




Book Details:


Genre: Thriller, Suspense, Crime, Legal
Published by:Talion Publishing
Publication Date: April 4th 2020
Number of Pages: 400
ISBN: 9781999318819
Series: Talion Series, #2
Purchase Links: Amazon || Goodreads




Read an excerpt:

[NOTE: Contains Mild Profanity]


PROLOGUE



Before meeting Susie and Roy, I had never met a murderer. But then, I had also never lied to the police or destroyed evidence. I had never seen the inside of a jail cell. And I had most certainly never been complicit in a homicide.

I have to reluctantly admit that I am a better person for the experience. I now appreciate that murderers really are just regular people like you and me. Indeed, I have come to consider Susie and Roy more than mere patients… they are friends. And I think back on our time together with nostalgia—fondness, even.

This did not happen overnight. It was a process.

What would you do if you found out that your neighbor was a murderer? Would you double-check that you’d locked your doors every night? Keep an eye out for strange comings and goings? Would you ultimately put your house up for sale, not disclosing what you knew about the folks next door to potential buyers?

For most people, being in the proximity of a killer is neither pleasant nor desirable.

Imagine how I felt about having not one but two as-yet-undetected murderers as my patients. Sitting with each of them for hours every week. Trying to guide them toward more moderate conflict resolution techniques. And failing.

Well, I’m here to tell you that despite the complexities inherent in that situation, I found my path to inner peace and happiness.

I know. I may have said elsewhere that, as a psychologist, I’m not a big believer in “happily ever after.” But my thinking has evolved.

I’ve come to believe more in choices—in the power of decision. This is the key nugget of wisdom I have taken away from this whole mess: We are not what happens to us. We are what we choose.

And I am pleased to report, for the first time in years, that I can finally say I am happy.

You have to understand that my unhappiness was not due to lack of trying. Chalk it up to naiveté—but, at first, it was difficult to process everything Susie and Roy told me and still be happy.

It’s hard to put a positive spin on murder.

Selfishly, I was overwhelmed by the fear that they might turn on me. They had shared everything about their crimes with me in meticulous detail. It was manifestly apparent that I was the weak link. The one person who could bring them down.

I was not just a loose end.

I was the loose end.

And, though I tried, I could not initially find peace under these circumstances. But, as I said earlier, happiness is a choice. And it was a choice that I made which finally ended my torment and brought me to a place where I could be at peace—even though everything ended tragically: my relationship with Susie and Roy, their marriage, the whole mess.

For you to understand the rest of my journey with Susie and Roy, I must share with you something that happened years ago at an ostensibly happy event. I say ‘ostensibly’ because it was a wonderful night for almost everyone concerned.

There were two people at that event who figure in this story—in my story.

The first is Sandra Bissette. For her, the night in question was the beginning of what would become a successful career in politics and law.

For the other, Billy Applegate, the night would end in tragedy.

PART ONE


Billy Applegate


1974



Everybody loves a party.

And there’s nothing quite like an election night party. What makes an election night celebration different?

The guest of honor. You see, all parties—birthdays, anniversaries, wakes—feature a guest of honor. But an election night party is a completely different animal because it isn’t about any one person or couple. It’s not even about the candidates.

At an election night party, the guests of honor are the attendees.

The people who gather to watch election results together are all of one mind. Of one spirit. They are like pack animals, all focused on the same outcome. They all share the same heroes and the same enemies.

If their candidates win, they all win. And a “win” means real-world changes for them—tax breaks, preferential government spending, judicial appointments—and money in their pockets.

Now, that’s a party.

This particular election night party took place in Maryland in 1974. To be precise—because I can be—this party was held on the night of the 1974 midterm elections, on Tuesday, November 5th.

It was a good year for Democrats.

This was the first national election after Watergate. Nixon’s resignation had severely damaged the Republicans’ chances in the election. Gerald Ford was just three months into his presidency, having taken over from Richard Nixon a few months earlier. And, of course, having pardoned Nixon in September, Ford had destroyed his own hopes for re-election and added to the national animus against Republicans.

This election night party took place in a spacious colonial-style home decorated in red, white, and blue, with American flags hanging from the windows and banisters. It featured a spacious living and dining area. The kitchen was large and well-equipped. There was a generous backyard with a comfortable deck and a terrace around the pool. All four bedrooms—aside from one guest bedroom—were upstairs.

There was even a “pin the tail on the donkey” game set up near the bar, for those with a sense of humor. No one actually played.

This house belonged to Dan and Annette Applegate, two proud and active members of the Democratic Party in Maryland.

Dan’s family had always been active in politics. His grandfather had been a state representative. His father had served as a county judge for most of his career. Dan—born Daniel Parsons Applegate IV—was the fourth generation of Applegates admitted to the Maryland bar. While he would never actually serve in public office, he understood the value of political contacts and actively cultivated them.

This party was part of that effort.

Dan was dressed in a three-piece, tan wool suit, a white Brooks Brothers shirt, and a burgundy silk tie. The lapels and tie were wide, and the shirt collar oversized—all very fashionable at the time. Annette wore a slim, gold-belted, navy blue flare-leg pantsuit with a pale blue silk blouse and a pair of simple gold earrings. Apropos for the gathering, and it went quite nicely with all the flags, she’d decided.

Their twelve-year-old son, Billy Applegate, was in dark green overalls with a white shirt and blue Keds. A handsome boy, Billy had inherited his mother’s cornflower blue eyes and his father’s thick sandy blond hair, which he wore in a neatly trimmed surfer cut.

Billy was an only child. His parents doted on him, as did his grandparents since he was the only grandchild in both families. Even so, Billy was a good boy and knew to stay out of the way when his parents had guests, though he stayed close enough to be in the mix and see what was going on. He was at the age where he still enjoyed watching the grown-ups. Spying on them. In fact, he was familiar with many of the faces that night from other events of this kind. It was a small community.

Tonight, Tuesday night, the guests were arriving early, many coming over straight after work before polling places even closed.

It was going to be a long night.

The band played. Alcohol flowed. Anticipation and excitement were in the air at the prospect of big Democrat wins. And, after everything Nixon had put the nation through, how could voters not want a change?

In the living room, a handsome mahogany console TV with a big twenty-five-inch-diagonal color screen announced results as they came in. Dan was loitering by the avocado green Trimline rotary phone, mounted on the kitchen wall, that rang periodically with live information. The spring-coiled, twelve-foot receiver cord allowed him to pace anxiously as he fielded calls from the few Democrats charged with providing up-to-the-minute results from county polling.

Remember, this was back in the days before computerized voting machines. Back then, voters travelled to their precinct’s designated polling station and used a machine to punch holes in their ballot. These were then collected and transported to a central counting center where the ballots were put through a counting machine which tabulated the results that were then released to the public.

Dan relayed results to his guests, with each ring of the phone bringing more good news. More cheering and more drinking.

It was a good year to be a Democrat.

At the peak of festivities, there were over 250 guests in and around the property, to the point where the party overflowed onto the street, which was not a problem. No one was going to complain, as most of the neighbors were in attendance. And these were all good white folk. The police were kind enough to block off both ends of the street and make sure that those who’d had too much to drink made it home safely.

Inside, the house was a political orgy. Supporters rubbed elbows with candidates. Candidates rubbed elbows with incumbents. Incumbents rubbed elbows with donors. And lobbyists rubbed elbows with everyone except each other.

There were a number of judges in attendance. Several city council members hovered by the buffet, and a few state representatives were sprinkled through the crowd.

It was into this whirlwind of excitement that Sandra Bissette arrived.

At a time when men still ran everything in politics, Sandra hoped to make a name for herself. The fact that she was a Yale-graduated lawyer didn’t hurt, nor did the fact that she had both the figure and the looks of Jackie Kennedy.

Sandra was the daughter of lifelong Democrats, and her father happened to be the county sheriff. Although Sandra was not part of the elite set in Maryland, she was making her way. She was two years into working as an associate at a top law firm after having done a couple of high-level summer internships in D.C.

That night, Sandra was primarily interested in meeting two people: one was Annette Applegate. Although Sandra knew that both Dan and Annette were active in the Maryland Democratic Party, Dan was known to be a snob—his career consisted of riding on his family’s coattails. Annette was universally recognized as the nicer of the two. Annette knew everyone, and everyone loved Annette. It was with her that Sandra was hoping to build a connection.

The second person who Sandra had added to her charm offensive for the evening was Harrison Kraft—another young Yale lawyer who, unlike her, was connected in all the right ways. Having graduated a few years ahead of her from law school, Harrison was running for state representative. He checked all the right boxes— family pedigree, education, professional credentials. There was no doubt the man was going places. Sandra had heard good things about him as a person and was interested in seeing for herself.

It was a little after 9:00 p.m.—Dan had just announced the results from Precinct Four in Montgomery County when Sandra saw an opening. Annette was by the buffet chatting with Howard Patrick, an older lobbyist—handsy, and a bit of a bore. Sandra straightened her back, raised her chin, and approached.

“Hello Howard,” she said with a big smile.

“Sandra! Hello, my dear. Don’t you look beautiful tonight?” “Why, thank you, Howard. Ever the charmer,” she said, allowing him to kiss her hand.

“Have you met our hostess, Annette Applegate?”

As Sandra turned to greet Annette, she noticed that the woman was looking past her, over her shoulder.

“Um, excuse me, young man!” Annette said, eyebrows raised and pearly white teeth dazzling.

Sandra turned and followed Annette’s gaze to a young boy in green overalls filching shrimp from the buffet. She guessed he was just shy of being a teenager.

“Aw, crap,” said Billy as he chewed.

“Come here, you,” Annette said, narrowing her eyes in mock disapproval.

The boy hesitated as he took in the young woman, the fat old man, and his mother, who stood waiting for him expectantly with her hands on her hips. He’d never seen the young woman before. She was new.

Unconsciously, he slowly moved to return the three shrimp in his sticky hand to the platter.

“With the shrimp, silly,” his mother said, shaking her head. Billy moved toward her, chewing rapidly so he could stuff the other shrimp into his mouth.

Howard put his hand against the small of Sandra’s back, a little too low, and harrumphed to her under his breath, “Better seen, not heard. That’s how it used to be.”

Sandra tried to smile and fought the instinct to pull away.

Howard’s breath smelled of scotch and cigarettes.

Annette overheard, but ignored the old lobbyist’s comment.

“I suppose I don’t need to ask if you’ve had dinner? I left meatloaf for you in the kitchen.”

“I know. But, Mom, these shrimp are amazing.”

“And the meatballs?” asked Annette, looking over Billy toward the platter on the buffet.

Billy blushed. “Those, too.”

“Well, it’s getting a bit late for you,” Annette said, ruffling her son’s fair hair and then kissing him on the forehead, making him squirm. “Finish up the shrimp and get to bed.”

“What about Dad?” Billy asked, looking around. Annette’s face darkened, and she sighed. “I’ll send him up for a goodnight kiss. But you come along now, young man.” She put her hands on her son’s shoulders and steered him towards the stairs. “Excuse me for a moment,” she said over her shoulder.

Shit, thought Sandra as she twisted politely away, getting the old lobbyist’s hand off her lower back as he struck up a conversation. While she tried to focus on what he was saying, it was all she could do not to stare at the green thing wedged in between the man’s tar-stained teeth.

It took her ten minutes to extricate herself from Howard, thanks to Alan Watts—a wiry man who was only modestly more interesting. His family ran a small chain of grocery stores. Alan had asked her out a while back, and though she’d declined, he still had hopes—she could tell.

After a few more minutes of polite conversation, Sandra fell back on “old reliable” with a forced smile. “Excuse me, gentlemen… ladies’ room.”

Once she was sure she had escaped, she continued to work the room. About half an hour later, as she accepted another glass of white wine from a passing waiter, she felt a hand pressing low on the small of her back.

Oh fuck, not again.

“Yes, Howard?” She turned, fake smile firmly in place, to find Annette Applegate standing behind her.

“Gotcha!” laughed Annette.

Sandra laughed, both from relief and from delight at the inside joke made by the woman to whom she’d hoped to ingratiate herself.

This is going to be a great night.

While Sandra and Annette chatted amiably, many other members of the party were well beyond civility.

The drinking had begun five hours earlier, but there was more than just alcohol flowing. Other substances were being abused. It was all very discreet, of course. Most were partaking solely for recreational purposes, but a few were ingesting more heavily. Beyond alcohol and drugs—and most hazardous of all, given that it was infecting everyone to some degree and was in ample supply—was the potent and dangerous combination of two psychological stimulants, victory and power.

You see, politics doesn’t attract only “normal” people. As in every part of society, there is a spectrum. And politics, too, has its outliers. The smug and the superior. The arrogant and the snide. And the sociopaths.

Victory and power are dangerous to all, but more so to the sociopath.

Do not consume alcohol or operate heavy machinery while taking…

For these select few, the alcohol, drugs, and victory combined with power was toxic. It created a euphoria that knew no rules.

No limits.

No fear.

* * *

Upstairs, Billy had fallen asleep with the soothing press of his mother’s goodnight kiss still fresh on his cheek.

A small nightlight plugged into a wall socket illuminated his bedroom, casting a warm glow on a baseball snuggled in a catcher’s mitt that lay in a corner next to a wooden Adirondack baseball bat.

On one end of his small dresser sat a model airplane—a Douglas A-20 Havoc that he’d built with his grandfather. It was a replica of the plane Gramps had flown during World War II. The model was flanked by a teddy bear that Billy claimed he’d outgrown but refused to give away. The other end of the dresser was reserved for the little boy’s current prized possession—Rock’em Sock’em Robots. A gift from his parents for his birthday.

The room was quiet, the party sounds muffled.

Suddenly, the door opened, spilling light into the little boy’s room along with the blare of music and the chaotic chatter of voices. Then, just as quickly, the door shut, returning the room to calm semi-darkness.

Billy was groggy and didn’t try to open his eyes. Instead, he just spoke out loud. “Dad?”

He felt the bed sag as his father sat next to him in a cloud smelling of alcohol and cigars.

Then he felt dry lips on his forehead. The kiss made him smile sleepily.

A hand stroked his head and his hair as Billy snuggled into his pillow and drifted back to sleep.

Suddenly, the same hand that had been stroking his hair gently clamped over his mouth. It was a man’s hand, but it was soft. Clammy. It was not his father’s….

Billy tried to sit up, but the hand squeezed harder, the man leaning into him, pushing him down and pinning him to the bed as a second hand groped at him, pulling away his sheets.

Billy didn’t know what to do. He was terrified. He opened his eyes, but with just the little nightlight on, he couldn’t see anything other than the vague shape of the form pressing down on him. He could smell booze and food on the man’s warm breath.

Tears came as the vise over Billy’s mouth forced him to suck air noisily through his nose as the groping continued—searching, finding, fondling, stroking, then reaching, penetrating, sending a hot shard of searing pain through his body. Inside.

He tried to fight, but couldn’t. The hands were too strong. The body too heavy. He felt sick. The stench of cigars, food, and alcohol on fetid breath was nauseating. And he was scared. Terrified. In pain.

Bile rose in Billy’s throat. But the hand over his mouth prevented him from vomiting. He gagged, then swallowed everything back down.

His body began to convulse.

To thrash.

As it did, the second hand stopped.

The man’s weight eased on top of his body, no longer pinning him down. The hand over his mouth loosened slightly, and Billy felt the other stroking his hair. He wanted to move, but he was paralyzed with fear.

The  whole ordeal lasted minutes, but it felt like hours.

Then the presence leaned over and whispered, “Sleep. Sleep.

You were dreaming. Go back to sleep.”

The weight lifted from the bed, and as it did, the hand fell away from Billy’s mouth, leaving him shivering in the aftermath.

The door opened, first slightly. Through the crack, the man looked out into the hall as the babble of music and voices invaded the bedroom. Then the door swung fully open, and as it did, Billy saw the man clearly in the light from the hallway. The image burned itself into his memory. The image of a stranger whose identity he would eventually learn.

The door closed and the crowd cheered as the band started playing—”You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet.”

And Billy Applegate cried himself into a fitful sleep.

***



Excerpt from Tooth for Tooth by JK Franko.  Copyright © 2020 by JK Franko. Reproduced with permission from JK Franko. All rights reserved.





Author Bio:



JK Franko

J.K. FRANKO was born and raised in Texas. His Cuban-American parents agreed there were only three acceptable options for a male child: doctor, lawyer, and architect. After a disastrous first year of college pre-Med, he ended up getting a BA in philosophy (not acceptable), then he went to law school (salvaging the family name) and spent many years climbing the big law firm ladder. After ten years, he decided that law and family life weren’t compatible. He went back to school where he got an MBA and pursued a Ph.D. He left law for corporate America, with long stints in Europe and Asia.

His passion was always to be a writer. After publishing a number of non-fiction works, thousands of hours writing, and seven or eight abandoned fictional works over the course of eighteen years, Eye for Eye became his first published novel.

J.K. Franko now lives with his wife and children in Florida.



Catch Up With JK Franko On:



jkfranko.com, Goodreads, Instagram, Bookbub, Twitter, & Facebook!



Tour Participants:



Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaways!







Enter To Win!!:



This is a Rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for JK Franko. There will be six (6) winners. Two (2) winners will each win one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card. Two (2) winners will each win Tooth for Tooth by JK Franko (print) and two (2) winners will each win Tooth for Tooth by JK Franko (eBook). The giveaway begins on June 1, 2020, and runs through August 2, 2020. Void where prohibited.


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Book 302: MEAN STREAK Review


Mean Streak by Sandra Brown
ISBN: 9781455581122 (hardcover) 
ISBN: 9781455581139 (ebook)
ASIN: B00HQ2N52K (Kindle edition)
Publication date: August 19, 2014
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing


Dr. Emory Charbonneau, a pediatrician and marathon runner, disappears on a mountain road in North Carolina. By the time her husband Jeff, miffed over a recent argument, reports her missing, the trail has grown cold. Literally. Fog and ice encapsulate the mountainous wilderness and paralyze the search for her.

While police suspect Jeff of “instant divorce,” Emory, suffering from an unexplained head injury, regains consciousness and finds herself the captive of a man whose violent past is so dark that he won’t even tell her his name. She’s determined to escape him, and willing to take any risks necessary to survive. 

Unexpectedly, however, the two have a dangerous encounter with people who adhere to a code of justice all their own. At the center of the dispute is a desperate young woman whom Emory can’t turn her back on, even if it means breaking the law.

As her husband’s deception is revealed, and the FBI closes in on her captor, Emory begins to wonder if the man with no name is, in fact, her rescuer.



Dr. Emory Charbonneau is kind, selfless, and generous. Emory also has great wealth and does a lot of good with her wealth. She works hard as a pediatrician and enjoys her work. She also enjoys running and is training for an upcoming marathon that she organized for a charity. Emory also knows that her marriage is on shaky ground but stands firm about her intent to get away for the weekend to do some mountain training. Her husband, Jeff Surrey, is her opposite. Jeff is self-absorbed, disingenuous, and petty. When Emory is reported as missing, her husband quickly becomes the prime suspect. But all is not what appears. Yes, Jeff is arrogant, self-absorbed, and quick to anger. Yes, he’s also been having an affair, but is he capable of murder?

I had some difficulties initially with Mean Streak. How can you empathize with a nameless character? Yet I did empathize with him as well as with Emory. (The other difficulty was the female character named Emory. I have an uncle with that name and couldn’t quite get past it being used for a female.) Emory’s savior/captor hints at being a bad guy with a mean streak, yet everything he does for her proves the exact opposite. As Emory recovers from a head wound and concussion, she begins to bond with her savior. It isn’t until an incident with one of his neighbors that Emory truly begins to see his true character. When Emory is returned to “civilization” she quickly begins to realize that the four days she spent with this man in the wild was more valuable and important to her than the entire time she’s been married to Jeff. Just when Emory thinks her life can get back to normal she begins to realize her husband may have been responsible for her injuries and her savior reappears just in the nick of time.

Ms. Brown has a way of creating romantic suspense stories that pulls me in and makes me want to continue reading just to find out what will happen next. Mean Streak is slightly different in that we have an unnamed protagonist and we fall for him as quickly and easily as Emory. (There’s just something about those strong, silent types!) I enjoyed Mean Streak and found it to be a fast-paced read. I enjoyed all of the characters, even the bad guys, and found them to be realistic. If you’re like me and enjoy suspense or romantic-suspense then you’ll definitely want to add Mean Streak to your TBR list. 


Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book free for review purposes from the publisher via NetGalley. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”



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Available at:     Grand Central      |     iTunes      |     BookDepository     |     Alibris
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Book Spotlight: MEAN STREAK by Sandra Brown



Mean Streak by Sandra Brown
ISBN: 9781455581122 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9781455581139 (ebook)
ASIN: B00HQ2N52K (Kindle edition)
Publication date: August 19, 2014
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing


Dr. Emory Charbonneau, a pediatrician and marathon runner, disappears on a mountain road in North Carolina. By the time her husband Jeff, miffed over a recent argument, reports her missing, the trail has grown cold. Literally. Fog and ice encapsulate the mountainous wilderness and paralyze the search for her.

While police suspect Jeff of “instant divorce,” Emory, suffering from an unexplained head injury, regains consciousness and finds herself the captive of a man whose violent past is so dark that he won’t even tell her his name. She’s determined to escape him, and willing to take any risks necessary to survive. 

Unexpectedly, however, the two have a dangerous encounter with people who adhere to a code of justice all their own. At the center of the dispute is a desperate young woman whom Emory can’t turn her back on, even if it means breaking the law.

As her husband’s deception is revealed, and the FBI closes in on her captor, Emory begins to wonder if the man with no name is, in fact, her rescuer.


Read an excerpt here.


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Meet the author:

Sandra Brown is the author of more than sixty New York Times bestsellers, including Deadline (2013), Low Pressure (2012), Lethal (2011), Tough Customer (2010), Smash Cut (2009), Smoke Screen (2008), Play Dirty (2007), Ricochet (2006), and Chill Factor, all of which have jumped onto the Times bestseller list in the number one to five spot.

Brown began her writing career in 1981 and since then has published over seventy novels, bringing the number of copies of her books in print worldwide to upwards of eighty million. Her work has been translated into thirty-four languages.

Brown holds an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Texas Christian University. She served as the president of the Mystery Writers of American in 2012 and was named ITW’s Thriller Master for 2008, the top award given by the International Thriller Writer’s Association. Other awards and commendations include the 2007 Texas Medal of Arts Award for Literature and the Romance Writers of America’s Lifetime Achievement Award.


Connect with the author:

Website      |     Facebook      |     Twitter      |     Goodreads      |     Pinterest 



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Guest author post: Danielle E. Shipley – INSPIRED



The Book Diva’s Reads is pleased to host a visit from Danielle E. Shipley, author of Inspired. Today Ms. Shipley will provide some food for thought for all of you that are trying to make the leap from reader to writer.





From Reader to Writer 
By Danielle E. Shipley

Thinking about taking the leap from lover of books to writer of books? Anyone can tell you that there’s no one way to go about it. But if you’re looking for a little inspiration to get you started, you can always consider Annabelle Iole Gray’s 5-step plan to authorship!

Step One = Hang around a bookstore. If any muses are on the hunt for brand new authors with which to start up a creative partnership, it’s probably the first place they’ll look. And hey, even if a muse doesn’t show up right away, there’s still plenty of inspiration to be found. It’s a store full of books!

Step Two = Keep an open mind. Your muse is on your side and wants to fill your head with brilliant ideas. The sparks of those ideas may come to you in a dream, in a snatch of a music, in a glimpse of something out the corner of your eye… You never know where, when, or how inspiration will strike, so don’t dismiss anything out of hand. What seems pointlessly silly one second may have you shouting “eureka!” the next.

Step Three = Write everything down. All those brilliant ideas won’t do you much good if you can’t remember them. There will always be distractions and non-writing responsibilities clamoring for your attention, so whenever possible, jot your ideas down right away. Feel free to think out loud – or rather, on page. Let yourself ramble, “stream of consciousness”-style; the good stuff may be hiding somewhere in all those messy, half-formed thoughts. This sort of note-taking also makes a good warm-up for actually tackling the book. Writing is writing, after all, so keep the muscle loose!

Step Four = Fail a lot. Writing a book is hard. You may enjoy it, you may even be a natural at it, but it will still be hard. There will be plenty of times you can’t find the words you’re looking for, or the story doesn’t seem to want to make any progress. This is both frustrating and perfectly all right. Just keep writing it wrong until you find a way to write it right. Try to be patient with yourself, even if the people in your head are getting cranky at the delay.

Step Five = Succeed at last! You may have to spend weeks, months, or years on Step Four, but if you give it your ninety-nine percent perspiration and that last one percent of inspiration from your muse, you will have the triumph of a completed book. A published book? Well, that’s another bucket of fish entirely, to be saved for another day. In the meantime, you lover of books, you, guess who’s just created a brand new book to love? That’s right. You. Right on, and write on.




Danielle E. Shipley’s first novelettes told the everyday misadventures of wacky kids like herself. …Or so she thought. Unbeknownst to them all, half of her characters were actually closeted elves, dwarves, fairies, or some combination thereof. When it all came to light, Danielle did the sensible thing: Packed up and moved to Fantasy Land, where daily rent is the low, low price of her heart, soul, blood, sweat, tears, firstborn child, sanity, and words; lots of them. She’s also been known to spend short bursts of time in the real-life Chicago area with the parents who home-schooled her and the two little sisters who keep her humble. When she’s not living the highs and lows of writing young adult novels, she’s probably blogging about it.

Connect with Danielle: 

Twitter: @DEShipley


Inspired by Danielle E. Shipley
ISBN:  9781937744434 (paperback)
ISBN:  9781937744441 (ebook)
ASIN:  B00IWBT898 (Kindle edition)
Publisher: J. Taylor Publishing
Publication Date:  March 17, 2014

For a muse like Lucianíel, one story’s end is another’s beginning. 

In the wake of his author’s sudden death, Luc takes ownership of her surviving creations—four fantastical characters with tales yet to be told—saving them from unwritten lives crumbling around them and giving them a second chance at a literary future. 

Luc finds that chance in the unsuspecting mind of Annabelle Iole Gray, a quirky teen with her head in the clouds, nose in a book, and imagination ripe for a brilliant muse’s inspiration. 

Or so he hopes. 

Neither Luc nor Annabelle, however, realize all they’ve undertaken. Even with a to-write list including accounts of a shape-shifting cat creature, gentle knight-in-training, vigilante skater girl, and a mystery boy smothering in unspoken fear, the most remarkable saga created between author and muse just may turn out to be one stranger than fiction. 

Their own.

Read an excerpt from Inspired by clicking here.



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Also available from J. Taylor Publishing by clicking here