Posted in Giveaway, Guest Post, Interview, mystery, suspense, Young Adult on April 20, 2017

EVIDENCE OF THINGS NOT SEEN
By Lindsey Lane

 

  Genre: YA /  Mystery / Suspense

Publisher: Farrar Straus Giroux

Date of Publication: December 16, 2015

Number of Pages: 240

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Tommy Smythe is missing.

Fact: Tommy was good at physics and less good at basic human interactions.

Fact: Tommy recorded his thoughts and observations in a notebook.

Fact: Tommy believed in the existence of parallel universes.

Fact: Tommy was adopted.

The facts are simple. The conclusions to be drawn from the facts are not simple. Did he run away to find his birth parents? Did he slip through a wormhole and enter one of the multiple universes he believed in? Did he simply wander off?

Only one thing is certain: until a possibility is proven true, all possibilities exist.

Told through multiple perspectives, here is a story about how residents of a small town seek answers to the mystery of a teen’s disappearance.

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Praise

“In her first novel for teens, Lane offers a gripping and genre bending mosaic.” – Publishers Weekly

“Complex and Rich” – Horn Book

“This is the kind of book you tuck in with and escape into, and it will stay with you long after you finish the last lines.  Haunting and beautiful.” – Jennifer Mathieu, author of The Truth About AliceDevoted, and Afterward

“The narrative jiggers between unexpected opposites—joy and fear, love and violence, grief and hope—all the while holding forth the constant idea that the world offers us credible evidence of what seems impossible if we only know where to look.”  J.L. Powers, author of Amina, This Thing Called The Future, and the forthcoming Broken Circle

“Ever look at a pearl and notice that its one color is, in fact, many colors? That’s the beauty of EVIDENCE OF THINGS NOT SEEN, the stunning debut novel by Lindsey Lane.” – Conrad Wesselhoeft, author of Adios Nirvana, Dirt Bikes, Drones and Other Ways To Fly

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A Dead End That Changed My Direction

Guest Post by Lindsey Lane

In a way, the beginning and ending of every book must be discovered.

Let me explain. For Evidence of Things Not Seen, there were a few beginnings. There was the beginning when I woke up from a dream where I saw a boy standing in a pull out by the side of the road. I wondered what that boy was doing there, so I began writing into the dream, into the place by the side of the road, into that landscape and its people.

But there was also the beginning several years before when I wrote a play called The Miracle of Washing Dishes, which was a play about the epiphanies characters had while washing dishes. The epiphanies and the dishes held the play together. I think the play was a success because people like to witness epiphanies. They like to feel their world can be shifted even if they are too afraid to do it themselves.

There was also the beginning when Alexander Calder’s mobiles touched my work and I realized that I could fracture a storyline and that all the fragments would still hold together and tell a complete story with spaces for the reader to enter in and make it their own.

These few beginnings above informed me as a writer. They brought me to the place of telling this particular story. The boy led me into the world of the pullout where everyone who came there had some sort of epiphany. The characters each had their own gossamer thread and, because the center of the story was missing (Tommy), the threads wobbled (like pieces of a mobile) as they do when some thing has gone missing from our lives. Each time we come to the pages of our manuscripts, we bring our history as well our intention to tell a true and honest story. We quarry for the best nuggets and we line them up one by one leading the reader deeper into the world we have created.

But where do we take our readers once we have them traveling the bloodlines of our stories? Where do we want them to land? What feeling do we want them to have as they step away our stories? Comfort? Despair? Promise?

My original ending had a bow on it. Luckily enough, an agent was reading my manuscript and she was quite enthused about it. She kept emailing me all the way along, saying how much she liked each chapter and how deep and finely woven each character was. When she got to the ending, she wrote, “With the tenor of this book, I don’t believe you can wrap things up so neatly. “

I took another look.

If each story line shakes the characters to their core and brings them to a revelation, could I really wrap the whole kit and caboodle in a bow?

I knew that I didn’t want to land in a place of despair. That wasn’t the essential truth in each character. Each epiphany, each revelation was meant to be positive. You see, essentially, I believe that people treat people like they want to be treated and that given a choice, we fall on the side of good. But at the same time, there is a natural anxiety in being alive. We don’t know what will happen tomorrow. We don’t know what will happen when we wake up in the morning. We can feel afraid. Or we can live with the mystery and find the promise that something good might happen. That’s where I landed the book: there is promise in the mystery.

Lindsey Lane is the author of the young adult novel Evidence of Things Not Seen (Farrar Straus Giroux) and the award-winning picture book and iTunes app Snuggle Mountain (Clarion/PicPocket Books). She is represented by Erin Murphy Literary Agency. Before she received her MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts in 2010, Lindsey was a features journalist (Austin Chronicle and Austin American Statesman) and an award-winning playwright (The Miracle of Washing Dishes). Lindsey is a featured presenter at schools and conferences and universities and also teaches writing at Austin Community College, Writers League of Texas, and the Writing Barn. She lives in Austin, Texas but loves to travel, especially to the ocean. She loves books, films, good food and her cadre of dear friends. Her idea of a perfect evening is having a dinner party at her home with friends from around the world and discussing everything under the sun while eating, drinking, and laughing.

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4/15 Excerpt Take Me Away
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4/17 Review It’s a Jenn World
4/18 Scrapbook Books in the Garden
4/19 Review CGB Blog Tours
4/20 Guest Post StoreyBook Reviews
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Posted in Giveaway, Interview, suspense, women on April 17, 2017

THE GRAVE TENDER
By Eliza Maxwell

  Genre: Women’s Fiction / Psychological Suspense

Publisher: Lake Union Publishing

Date of Publication: April 11, 2017

Number of Pages: 248

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A chilling psychological suspense novel, The Grave Tender explores the dark boundaries people cross to save loved ones, and the limits of family bonds tested by the deepest of betrayals.

Endless questions from a shadow-filled East Texas childhood haunt Hadley Dixon. People said her mother, Winnie, was never quite right, but with one single, irreparable act, life as Hadley knew it was shattered. The aftershocks of that moonlit night left her reeling, but the secrets and lies had started long before

When a widowed and pregnant Hadley returns years later, it’s not the safe harbor she expects. The mysteries surrounding a local boy’s disappearance remain, and the townspeople still whisper about Hadley’s strange and reclusive Uncle Eli—whispers about a monster in their midst.

But Hadley’s father and grandmother, the cornerstones of everything safe in her world, avoid her questions. If Hadley stays here, will she be giving her children the family they need or putting their lives in danger?

The hunt for answers takes a determined Hadley deep into the pine forests, in search of sunlight that will break through the canopy of lies long enough to reveal the truth.

“The Grave Tender will grasp you in its hooks from the beginning as you try to figure out the truth behind each character, because no one is truly what they seem … Addicting, easy to read, and hard to put down.”Shelbi LeMeilleur, Insite Magazine

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Please welcome author Eliza Maxwell to StoreyBook Reviews!  We wanted to get a feel for Eliza and her writing and so we hope this interview with her answers all those burning questions!

Where did your love of writing come from?

I’m a mom, and honestly, if I could get anyone to listen to me at home, I probably wouldn’t feel the need to write stories to send out into the world.  I wouldn’t trade it for anything, but sometimes I do feel a bit like I’d imagine the zookeeper at the monkey house feels.

What was the hardest part of writing this book? 

The Grave Tender was my first book, and the toughest part was learning a system that worked for me through good old fashioned trial and error.  There are as many different ways to write a book as there are voices to write them, and the advice of others can only take a person so far.  I took the long, hard road with The Grave Tender, but I hope I learned a few things along the way, about myself and about how to build a book.

What literary character is most like you?

I’ve always had a fondness for Agatha Christie’s Miss Jane Marple.  I think I’d be perfectly content in an English village, gardening, gossiping, and solving the occasional murder.  English villages do seem to have more than their fair share of dead bodies around, at least in fiction, don’t they?  Yes, when I grow up, I definitely want to be Miss Jane Marple.

What does your perfect writing spot look like? Is that what your ACTUAL writing spot looks like?

When the weather is willing, I prefer to write outdoors.  My amazing husband has helped me turn our deck into a bit of an oasis, and that’s my favorite place to write, hands down.  Occasionally though, when I need to leave the distractions at home, I like to sit at a bench in the local cemetery with a pen and notebook.  A bit odd, maybe, but it’s peaceful and it feels connected to the kinds of stories I write.

If you could time travel, what time period would you first visit? 

Funny, when I think of time travel, the first thing I’d love to do would be to go back and meet my family when they were young.  I’m fascinated by the idea that our parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, each led unique lives long before we ever came on the scene and how those lives influence the generations that came after.

If you could speak with any accent from anywhere in the world, what would you choose and why?

British.  No hesitation.  I’d love to be able to get away with saying things like, “Cheeky bugger,” and “Bloody hell”.  In fact, I might go around saying nothing but that.  All day.  Every day.  Perhaps with the occasional, “Murder is never simple, Inspector,” thrown in for good measure.

What is your favorite quote?

“You’ve always had the power my dear, you just had to learn it for yourself.” –Glinda the Good Witch

Eliza Maxwell lives in Texas with her ever patient husband, two impatient kids, a budgie named Sarah, and a bird dog who lives a tortured existence.  She’s an artist and writer, an introvert and a British cop drama addict.  A former bookseller with a lifelong love of the written word, she can often be found barefoot on the front porch lost in a good cup of coffee and a great book.

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Paperback copy of THE LIFE WE BURY by Allen Eskens

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Posted in excerpt, Giveaway, suspense on April 7, 2017

Synopsis

First in a chilling new paranormal romantic suspense series from award-winning author Abbie Roads

He’s found her at last

Cain Killion knows himself to be a damaged man, his only saving grace the extrasensory connection to blood that he uses to catch murderers. His latest case takes a macabre turn when he discovers a familiar and haunting symbol linking the crime to his own horrific past—and only one woman could know what it means.

Only to lose her to a nightmare

Mercy Ledger is brave, resilient, beautiful—and in terrible danger. The moment he sees Mercy, Cain knows he’s the one who can save her. He also knows he’s beyond redemption. But the lines between good and evil blur and the only thing clear to Cain and Mercy is that they belong together. Love is the antidote for blood—but is their bond strong enough to overcome the evil that stalks them?

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Excerpt

He stepped out of the shower, nabbed a towel and dried himself as he walked into the bedroom.

And nearly ran into her.

A towel—a mere piece of cloth—wrapped her body, the edge of it tucked in just above the swell of her left breast. Her skin shone pink from her bath and her hair hung in a tangled wet mess over her shoulders. She’d never looked quite so lovely.

When she didn’t say anything he forced his gaze to rise above the towel to her face. Her eyes were aimed downward, toward his—

“F*.” He’d been standing there just holding the towel in his hand, not even thinking to hide the log—that hadn’t gone away—jutting straight out from his body. He slapped the towel over his dick, nearly decapitating it.

“I was…” She swallowed and looked at him. “…looking for something to wear. I didn’t want to interrupt you.”

She wanted something to wear? His ears heard the words, but all his brain could focus on how easy it would be to get that towel off her. She didn’t need to wear anything.

“Cain?” Alarm sounded in her voice. Her eyes widened.

He took a step back, ass-smacked into the edge of the bathroom door.

“You’re bleeding.”

It wasn’t her words, but the concern in her voice that knocked him out of the stupor he’d been in. He glanced down at himself. A rivulet of blood ran down his chest from the gunshot wound high up on his shoulder.

She moved closer to him. He couldn’t move away. All he could do was press his ass harder into the wall.

With steady hands, she unhooked the secure edge of her towel, let it swing from one hand in front of her. He caught a glimpse of pink breast and pale thigh, before he clamped his eyes shut. But he’d seen enough. His dick went granite. The unrequited longing painful. He smothered a groan.

She pressed her towel low on his abdomen, so low her hand brushed his—the one covering himself with a towel. His dick leaped, strained for her touch.

She raised the material, stroking up his skin, higher and higher—until she gently pressed it to his wound. “You want me?” Her voice was thick and husky as if she were having a hard time talking.

He forgot how to speak, but his body remembered the universal sign for yes. He nodded. Or at least he tried to. Maybe he was having a stroke or something because suddenly he felt paralyzed. And confused.

“Open your eyes. Look at me.”

Disobedience didn’t exist. He opened his eyes. She looked at his hand trying to cover his erection, then met his gaze. “I can tell. I just thought I’d ask.” A sweet smile—shy as a spring sunrise, and stunning as summer sunset settled on her lips.

She peeked under the towel on his shoulder and he peeked at her body.

Glorious. Long slender muscles and bones. Her breasts weren’t large, instead they were perfect with peach colored nipples he longed to taste. The only imperfections—the fading green bruise on her ribs and the filigreed cross scarred into the flesh over her heart.

He pointed at the cross. Jesus. What was wrong with him? He’d forgotten how to use words.

She glanced down at herself and then settled her hand over the raised flesh as if to pledge her allegiance. “It’s to protect me. I know it sounds weird, but I felt that if I had this symbol carved into my body I’d be safe from the demons in the world.”

She grabbed his free hand and placed it over the scar. The coolness of the damaged flesh imprinted on his palm. She tugged at his other hand—the one covering himself with the towel. No way could he deny her. The material fell from his fingers and she guided his other hand up to the puckered ring around her throat—where his father had cut her neck—and settled it on that scar as well.

A jolt, almost a shudder ran through him at the dual connection. He melted in to her. Merged with her. Became a part of her. Somehow touching those places was more intimate than anything they could do sexually. She had given him her greatest gift. Her vulnerability and trust.

About the Author

Abbie Roads is a mental health counselor known for her blunt, honest style of therapy. By night she writes dark emotional novels, always giving her characters the happy ending she wishes for all her clients. Her novels have finaled in RWA contest, including the Golden Heart. She lives with her family in Marion, OH.

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Posted in 3 1/2 paws, Review, suspense, Thriller on March 26, 2017

Synopsis

When you’ve lost it all, how far would you go to get it back?

Bennett Covington has a good life. The support of a loving, growing family. A satisfying job. A roof over his head. Not perfect, but close enough.

Nothing lasts forever, of course. After stumbling into the middle of a back-alley murder, Bennett becomes entangled in a web of violence set in motion by members of a shadowy criminal organization.

Subjected to psychological torment, Bennett struggles to understand the depth of their evil intentions – intentions that threaten to take much more than just his life.

Through it all, one question endures: why have they taken such a keen interest in him? When he runs, they catch him. When he hides, they find him.

The only way out is to fight back.

Review

I thought this was a mystery but it is more suspense with a sci-fi twist. There are many things that are not really explained at the end – like Poe, what exactly is he but he isn’t human!

The book did keep moving on at a pretty quick pace and kept me interested in what would happen next. Would Bennett get out of the situation he was in? Would his family be ok? Why did they keep calling him Yannick?

There were many times at the beginning when Bennett first got involved with these characters by accident and why he kept going back – was it curiosity or was it more?

There was a twist at the end that leaves the book open for a sequel or just leave you wondering what could possibly happen next.

We give this 3 1/2 paws

About the Author

Chip Scarinzi is an award-winning communications executive and the author of two books. His first book, Diehards, is a work of non-fiction about sports fandom. Ghosts is his first novel. Scarinzi lives in the San Francisco Bay Area island community of Alameda with his wife and two young daughters.

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Posted in excerpt, Historical, Spotlight, Supernatural, suspense on March 12, 2017

Synopsis

Devil in the Countryside is a story about the most famous werewolf investigation in history, brimming with intrigue and war, love and betrayal, and long-kept vendettas.

It’s 1588, the height of the Reformation, and a killer is terrorizing the German countryside. There are reports that the legendary Werewolf of Bedburg has returned to a once-peaceful land. Heinrich Franz, a cold and calculating investigator, is tasked with finding whomever — or whatever — the killer might be. He’ll need all the help he can get, including that of a strange hunter who’s recently stumbled into town. Though they’re after the same thing, their reasons are worlds apart. And through it all, a priest tries to keep the peace among his frightened townsfolk, while a young woman threatens his most basic beliefs.

In a time when life is cheap and secrets run rampant, these four divergent souls find themselves entwined in a treacherous mystery, navigating the volatile political and religious landscape of 16th century Germany, fighting to keep their sanity — and their lives.

Excerpt

Chapter 1

1588 – Near the town of Bedburg, Germany

It had been some time since Investigator Heinrich Franz had inspected a murder scene, and he relished the opportunity. As he removed his black gloves to inspect the body, a tingle ran down his spine.

The victim’s body was situated near a tree, tucked away from any trails or passing eyes.

“Our killer wanted to make it difficult to identify the victim, but not to find her,” Heinrich said to his right-hand man and bodyguard, Tomas.

He crouched over the body. Her exposed entrails had been dragged around the trunk of the tree, separating her legs from her torso. Her right foot was missing three toes, and her left arm was missing altogether. Her mangled face was a canvas for flesh-eating insects. He could only tell the victim was female by the tattered blue dress she wore and the stringy blonde hair plastered against her head.

Heinrich glanced at the dress. Maybe it will help to identify her, he thought, and then looked at her face. Because that certainly won’t.

Heinrich prodded beneath the dress, but found no signs of defilement. The stench of decay was not yet overwhelming, but still strong enough to offend his keen nose.

“She’s been dead for less than twenty-four hours,” the investigator said. He turned to the frightened farmer standing behind him. “And you found her when?”

“This morning, sir.” The farmer held a grimy cap close to his chest. “I was walking my dogs when the wind brought her smell right to me. Then I saw crows circling—”

“I didn’t ask how,” Heinrich said, “just when.

The investigator circled the tree and bent down to examine the torso with a magnifying glass. Flies and maggots crawled over her body and through her deep cuts. Heinrich put a finger to one of her small, exposed breasts. It was cold and clammy.

“She was killed in broad daylight, sir?” the farmer asked.

Heinrich ignored the man. He pocketed his magnifying glass, stood up with creaking knees, and wrestled his hands back into his gloves. “Judging by the size of her breasts and feet, I’d say she was no more than fifteen years of age.”

“Just a child,” the farmer murmured. He started fidgeting with his cap, and then stammered. “There wouldn’t perhaps be any kind of . . . reward for finding the body, would there, sir?”

Heinrich gave the man an icy glare and spat on the grass. Heartless swine, he thought, shaking his head. Trying to profit on the death of a child. He started pacing in front of the farmer, and then stroked his chin and twirled his thin, wispy mustache. He stared at the man’s fat, doughy face. He was middle-aged, with a patchy gray beard. His eyes were soft, and he looked harmless, but Heinrich knew that appearances never made the man, nor told the whole story.

“The real question I have,” Heinrich said, “is what was a young girl doing out here alone, so far from any roads?”

“Perhaps she was lured here?”

The investigator eyed the farmer. “A fine observation,” Heinrich said with a disingenuous smile. Then it vanished. “My next question is what were you doing out here so far from the trails?”

The farmer scratched his scalp, and then his face slowly distorted and his mouth fell open. He stammered some more. “Y-you can’t believe that . . . that I . . .” he trailed off. “I told you, sir, I was leading my dogs—”

Heinrich nodded and Tomas came to the farmer’s side and grabbed his arms. The farmer shouted and squirmed and tried to break free.

“You can’t do this, sir! I came to you only trying to help!”

Yes, trying to help your purse.

Tomas looked pale and queasy as he wrestled with the farmer.

“Take him to the jail,” Heinrich ordered. “I’ll be by a bit later. Find out whatever you can.”

Tomas nodded and turned away.

“And Tomas,” Heinrich added. The soldier spun on his heels, and Heinrich stared into his eyes. “Whatever means necessary.”

Tomas nodded again. “What are your thoughts, sir?”

Heinrich sighed and put his hands on his hips. “I’m thinking the Werewolf of Bedburg has returned.”

About the Author

As far back as he can remember, Cory Barclay has always loved the “big picture” questions. How much knowledge did humanity lose when the Library of Alexandria was burned down? Why has the concept of Heaven remained intact, in one form or another, throughout most of human history and how has it impacted life on Earth?

And even before that, when he first began writing stories in grade school, he’s been fascinated with histories and mysteries. Whether Norse mythology, the Dark Ages, or the conquests of great leaders, Cory’s been that kid who wants to know what’s shaped our world and write about it. Especially the great unsolved mysteries.

So Devil in the Countryside was a natural for him.

Born and raised in San Diego, he graduated from University of California, Santa Cruz, where he studied Creative Writing and Modern Literary Studies. He’s also a songwriter and guitarist, and – no surprise – many of his songs explore the same topics he writes about – the great mysteries of our crazy world.

Devil in the Countryside is his second novel and he’s hard at work on its sequel.

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Posted in Crime, Spotlight, suspense, Trailer on February 7, 2017

Synopsis

When you’ve lost it all, how far would you go to get it back?

Bennett Covington has a good life. The support of a loving, growing family. A satisfying job. A roof over his head. Not perfect, but close enough.

Nothing lasts forever, of course. After stumbling into the middle of a back-alley murder, Bennett becomes entangled in a web of violence set in motion by members of a shadowy criminal organization.

Subjected to psychological torment, Bennett struggles to understand the depth of their evil intentions – intentions that threaten to take much more than just his life.

Through it all, one question endures: why have they taken such a keen interest in him? When he runs, they catch him. When he hides, they find him.

The only way out is to fight back.

About the Author

Chip Scarinzi is an award-winning communications executive and the author of two books. His first book, Diehards, is a work of non-fiction about sports fandom. Ghosts is his first novel. Scarinzi lives in the San Francisco Bay Area island community of Alameda with his wife and two young daughters.

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Posted in excerpt, suspense, Thriller on January 1, 2017

Synopsis

A man serves on a jury for the trial of a murder that he committed.

Peter Robertson, 33, discovers his wife is cheating on him. Following her suspected boyfriend one night, he erupts into a rage, beats him and leaves him to die – or so he thought. Soon he discovers that he has killed the wrong man – a perfect stranger.

Six months later, impaneled on a jury, he realizes he realizes that the murder being tried is the one he committed. After wrestling with his conscience, he works hard to convince the jury to acquit the accused man. But the prosecution’s case is strong as the accused man had both motive and opportunity to commit the murder. As the pressure builds, Peter begins to slip up and reveal things that only the murderer would know – and Christine, a pretty and intelligent alternate juror, suspects something is amiss.

Meanwhile, Peter’s wife leaves him, his mother suffers a series of debilitating strokes, and his best friend and employee, accused of sexual harassment, needs Peter’s help that he’s too preoccupied to give. As jurors one by one declare their intention to convict, Peter’s conscience eats away at him and he careens toward nervous breakdown, revealing details about the crime that had not been disclosed in court.

“Lying in Judgment” is a 95,000-word story about a good man’s search for redemption for his one unfortunate mistake, pitted against society’s search for justice.

Excerpt

Two hours late.

Peter checked his voice mail. No messages from Marcia.  After eight years of marriage, he should know better, but hell. Hope springs eternal.

So much for surprising her with dinner and flowers tonight.

He rested his elbows on the dining table, careful not to disturb the place settings – his on the end, hers around the corner, close enough so their legs could touch during dinner. For the third time ever, he’d broken out the good Waterford china and hand-polished the silver – even the little salad forks neither of them ever used. The crystal wine glasses and tumblers. Good cloth napkins that matched the tablecloth. A big deal for her, God knows why.

For grins, he leaned his full weight, 190-ish pounds, onto the table. It didn’t wiggle in the slightest. Good, good. While Marcia worked long hours to build her career, he’d spent countless evenings and weekends building this beast – cutting, sanding, gluing, and finishing hundreds of dollars worth of select cherry. As lumber manager at Stark’s Building Supply, he could hand-pick the very best pieces from his suppliers’ stocks, all at wholesale price. That was his second-favorite perk of the job. Number one was taking the occasional afternoon off to turn it into beautiful furniture, cabinets, and picture frames for his wife’s art.

But too often lately he’d been enjoying his creations all alone.

He speed dialed her. Two rings, then voicemail. “Hi, you’ve reached Marcia Robertson, Vice President for Business Development at Metro Dental. I’m sorry I missed your–”

He punched the pound key to bypass the greeting. “It’s me again. Did you have plans I didn’t know about tonight? Oh, wait a sec.” The rays of the September sunset reflected off the hood of her charcoal Ford Explorer easing into the driveway. He hung up, opened a chilled bottle of Pinot Blanc, and lowered the dimmer over the dining table. He lit the tall scented candles and slid them apart so they wouldn’t singe the
arrangement of fresh lilacs and wild African daisies – her favorites.

She entered the front door moments later, cell phone stuck to her ear. Her oversized handbag dangled from her other shoulder. “Sure, I can make the seven a.m. if you can reschedule the finance briefing with Marwick to Friday. (Hi, hon.) What? No, I was talking to my husband. I’m just getting home.” She gave him a quick wave and pointed to the phone. “Sylvia,” she mouthed – her secretary.

“I’ve been waiting–”

She held one finger to her lips and turned away. He tapped her arm. She extended her hand behind her, and he slid a glass of Pinot between her fingers. “Thank you,” she mouthed over her shoulder, and drained the drink in one gulp.

“Sylvia, I gotta go.” She set the empty glass on the coffee table. “I’ll let you know about dinner Friday. See you in the morning.” She sighed, clicked her phone shut and leaned against the back of a recliner. “What a day. How was yours?”

“Oh, fine.” He leaned in for a kiss. She pecked him on the mouth and bent down to remove her two-inch heels. Her black slacks hugged the slender arc of her hips. Nice. “Nobody’s buying lumber today, so I put Frankie in charge and cut out early. Thought I’d surprise you by having dinner ready when you got home.” He pointed at the table. “I expected you two hours ago.”

“Sorry. I thought I told you I had drawing class.”

He frowned. “Drawing’s on Tuesday, isn’t it? Today’s Wednesday.”

For a second, she looked panicked, but her confident smile returned. “Yeah, but we had an extra session. Field work.” She brushed a stray curl away from her face.

About the Author

Gary Corbin is a writer, actor, and playwright in Camas, WA, a suburb of Portland, OR. In addition to his novels, he writes on assignment for private sector, government, individuals, and not-for-profit clients, and his articles have been published in BrainstormNW, the Portland Tribune, The Oregonian, and Global Envision, among others.

Gary earned his B.A. in Political Science and Economics at Louisiana State University (Geaux Tigers!) and his Ph.D. at Indiana University (Go Hoosiers!), writing his dissertation on the politics of acid rain (1988). After working variously on farms, construction, in restaurants, and in various information technology positions, in 2005 he founded Gary Corbin Writing and Consulting.

Gary is a member of the Willamette Writers Group, the Northwest Editors Guild, the North Bank Writers Workshop, PDX Playwrights, and the Portland Area Theater Alliance, and participates in workshops and conferences in the Portland, Oregon area. A homebrewer as well as a maker of wine, mead, cider, and soft drinks, Gary is a member of the Oregon Brew Crew and a BJCP National Beer Judge. He loves to ski, cook, and garden, and hopes someday to train his dogs to obey. And when that doesn’t work, he escapes to the Oregon coast with his sweetie.

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Posted in excerpt, paranormal, Spotlight, suspense, Thriller on December 19, 2016

Synopsis

Out of darkness and danger

You can’t hide your secrets from Lathan Montgomery—he can read your darkest memories. And while his special abilities are invaluable in the FBI’s hunt for a serial killer, he has no way to avoid the pain that brings him. Until he is drawn to courageous, down-on-her-luck Evanee Brown and finds himself able to offer her something he’s never offered another human being: himself.

Dawns a unique and powerful love

Nightmares are nothing new to Evanee Brown. But once she meets Lathan, they plummet into the realm of the macabre. Murder victims are reaching from beyond the grave to give Evanee evidence that could help Lathan bring a terrifying killer to justice. Together, they could forge an indomitable partnership to thwart violence, abuse, and death—if they survive the forces that seek to tear them apart.

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Excerpt

Minds of Madness and Murder. The glossy poster advertising today’s seminar was taped to the closed auditorium door. Someone had drawn tears of blood dripping from each of the M’s.

Lathaniel Montgomery’s gut gnawed at his backbone, but not because of the poster or the bloody tears.

Holy Jesus. How was he going to manage being in an audience surrounded by hundreds of people, with all their smells, all their memories?

Gill touched his arm like he always did to get Lathan’s attention. “Going in?”

“Yeah.” But Lathan’s feet had grown roots into the floor. He hated how nothing in his life was normal. He hated the f*ed-up sequence of genetic code that had enlarged the olfactory regions of his brain. He hated that he smelled everything. And he especially hated the ability to smell the energy imprints of people’s memories. Scent memories. Memories that could overwhelm him and annihilate his reality.

Gill stepped up close and examined Lathan’s left eye—the eye the SMs always invaded first, the eye that would roll around independently of the other one, making him appear in need of an exorcism.

“Quit with the eye exam. I’m all right.” For now. Concentration kept the SMs out of his mind. Vigilance kept them under control.

“Your seat is directly in front of the podium. You won’t have any trouble reading Dr. Jonah’s lips. After the presentation, introduce yourself. He’ll recognize your name.” Gill gave him the don’t-screw-this-up look. “Convince him about the Strategist.”

The Strategist.

Lathan’s freakish ability had generated leads for nearly every cold case he worked. Except for the Strategist’s.

“Explain how each person has a scent signature. Explain that you smell the same signature on thirty-eight unsolved murders. Explain that the FBI won’t do anything unless he confirms there is a connection among the kills.”

“Save the lecture. This whole f*ing thing was my dumbass idea.” Could he maintain control of the SMs long enough to make it to the end of the presentation? “If I—”

“There is no if. You’re not going to lose control.” Gill had read his worries as easily as Lathan read his friend’s lips. “Maybe I should go in with you.”

“I don’t need you holding my hand.” Lathan showed him a raised middle finger—a salute they always used in jest, forced a smile of bravado across his lips, and then pushed through the doors before he made like a chickenshit and bolted from the building. Barely inside, the SMs hit. Millions of memories warred for his attention, tugged at the vision in his left eye. He sucked air through his mouth to diminish the intensity, to maintain control.

Never in his life had he been around so many people at once and been coherent. Maybe he should leave.

No.

He clenched his fists. Knuckles popped, grounding him, giving him an edge over the SMs.

He strode down the steps toward the front of the room. Thank whoever-was-in-charge the presentation hadn’t started yet.

An empty seat in the front row had a pink piece of paper taped to it: RESERVED. Lathan would’ve preferred the anonymity of the back row, but he couldn’t see Dr. Jonah’s face from that far away. He ripped off the sheet and sat in the cramped space.

His shoulders were wider than the damned chair. His arms overflowed the boundary of his seat. The woman on his left angled away from him, the cinnamon scent of her irritation infusing the air. Typical reaction to his size. And with the tattoo on his cheek, she probably assumed he’d served a sentence in the slammer.

The woman on his right reeked. But it wasn’t her fault. The rot of her body dying was a stench he recognized, along with the sharp chemical tang of the drugs that were killing her so she could live. Cancer and chemo. Her emaciated features evidenced the battle she fought. And yet, she was here. At this presentation. She was a warrior. And he was a f*ing pussy for bellyaching about the SMs.

His ears picked up a faint snapping noise. Clapping. Everyone applauded enthusiastically.

Dr. Jonah walked to the podium. His clothes were baggy and ill fitting, his face wrinkled, his head topped with a mass of fluttery gray hair. Even though he looked like he’d just awakened from sleeping under an overpass, he possessed the look of frazzled genius. The look of someone whose work mattered more than living life. The look of the nation’s most respected profiler.

A door on Lathan’s right opened. A young woman lugged a folding chair across the room. Toward him.

He held his breath.

No. She couldn’t be there for him. No one here knew him. Knew about him. Except Gill. And Gill wouldn’t—

She opened her chair and sat facing him. With an overly enthusiastic smile that showed the silver in her back molars, she started to sign.

He looked away. A long bitter whoosh of air escaped his lips.

About the Author

Abbie Roads is a mental health counselor known for her blunt, honest style of therapy. By night she writes dark, emotional novels, always giving her characters the happy ending she wishes for all her clients. Her novels have finaled in RWA contests including the Golden Heart. Race the Darkness is the first book in the Fatal Dreams series of dark, gritty romantic suspense with a psychological twist.

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Posted in Giveaway, Interview, Spotlight, suspense on November 22, 2016

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Synopsis

The Indian Queen would risk torture and worse to keep her secrets from these barbarians in suits of metal and their search for cities of gold. They never found the gold. Empires rose; empires fell, the centuries passed. Legend became fireside myths, but no treasure was ever found. Yet, among the grey-green drapes of wisteria and wild jasmine along the misty shrouded lowlands of bayous and marshes of the Westo River, the folktales persist.

In the lazed creep of a near-tropical dawn lit the pungent Turkish coffee permeates Moccasin Hollow. Beyond the kitchen door Lucky, Craige Ingram’s German shepherd gnaws a favorite bone. Looted burial mounds seem a world away until plundered mounds on Moccasin Hollow land brings amateur archaeologist PI Craige Ingram into the cross-hairs of kidnapping. Stealthy hideaways are concealed in old colonial brick-lined river grottoes beneath the big house of Ardochy plantation. Sex-tape underage blackmail and thrill killings on federal land spur a medical examiner’s preliminary postmortem to more than a hired cleaner’s quickie cover-up passed off as drug deals gone sour. Greed tangles a witch’s pigswill of illicit affairs and murder-to-hide-murder. Shady investigators and shadier politics stir an unexpected concoction that threatens the lives of those at Moccasin Hollow in a spiteful plot against ex-SEAL Craige Ingram and the woman he loves.

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Interview

Do you write every day? 

Absolutely…even if that comes down to scratching notes between airport boarding gates or boarding an overnight sleeper riding the rails–laptop gadgets really do come in handy for the quickie note-takin’.

Where do you write?

In a secluded no-window study…UNLESS…I’m out and about where there’s lots of warm bodies letting me make notes for downside-up characters/faces/body-shapes/clothes/ruffle-hair…the out of the ordinary or blend into the wallpaper.

What is your writing schedule?

Though not a written in stone schedule – early in the sunrise a.m. after my sunrise cup of Marine bilge-slurry coffee…then brunch…then afternoon usually deleting or editing “stuff” followed by an early snack. Take a walk or go to the gym and p.m. editing.

In today’s tech-savvy world, most writers use a computer or laptop. Have you ever written parts of your book on paper?

All of them. For the written word computers/laptops are typewriters with pages made into pictures; paper and pen bundled into printers/copiers/faxes. These contraptions are tools, and make 15-20 edits/drafts possible for a manuscript. First drafts are written pen-to-paper for scribble and scratch-outs…churning imagination/fantasy into warp-drive…developing characters, grabbing the setting, pace, theme, conflict and so much fun.

If you’re a mom writer, how do you balance your time?

Balancing time isn’t gender related. It’s a budget with one EXCEPTION…a body can’t buy more time. Spend more money (or time] than one has…one’s peace of mind vanishes. Cram one’s time beyond the rim of the proverbial over-filled glass can be destructive…Mother Nature will win – and sometimes win very unpleasantly. Keeping that in mind, I always try to pace myself and not schedule more in a day than I know I can handle.

If you could go back in time, where would you go?

…back to my horses and dogs BUT only if I could take what I’ve learned from my mistakes. I miss unencumbered country living with all its worldwide ‘tools’ it hammered into me.

About the Author

Internationally acclaimed author and public speaker, Hawk MacKinney began writing mysteries for his school newspapers. He served in the US Navy Reserve for over 20 years, and was a tenured faculty member at several state medical facilities, teaching postgraduate courses in both the United States and Jerusalem, Israel. Since retiring Hawk has authored several novels that have received national and international recognition. Moccasin Trace, a historical novel, was nominated for the prestigious Michael Shaara Award for Excellence in Civil War Fiction and the Writers Notes Book Award. The Cairns of Sainctuarie, his science fiction series, includes The Bleikovat Event and The Missing Planets, with a third book in the works. Hawk’s latest project focuses on The Moccasin Hollow Mystery Series. Book 1 in the series, Hidden Chamber of Death, was released early 2016.

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Posted in Book Release, mystery, suspense on November 15, 2016

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WINTER SONG

Book 1 of the SEASON PASS Series

by Susan C. Muller

Genre: Mystery/Suspense

I’m excited to announce Susan C. Muller’s new four book series:

Seasons Pass: Murder is always in Season.

Starting in November, and releasing one each month, enjoy Winter Song, Spring Shadow, Summer Storm, and Autumn Secrets.

Meet Homicide Detective Noah Daugherty and his partner, Conner Crawford. Follow them through four seasons worth of cases full of hit men, stalkers, vigilantes, and serial killers.

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Synopsis

In Winter Song, homicide detective Noah Daugherty is on a mission: solve cases, lock up murderous scum, and get on with what’s left of his life. He’s on the clock, and his time is steadily ticking away. His path leads him to an icy Houston street, where a car has careened out-of-control and crashed, the driver, a beautiful young socialite, is dead. All the clues lead straight to her husband, but Noah’s intuition screams the case is more than meets the eye.

Not willing to give up until he solves this cold-blooded murder, he finds the unthinkable . . . a hitman no one saw coming, with a chilling personal agenda that now targets Noah.

Can he solve the case and save himself before winter is finished singing her song?

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About the Author

susan-mullerSusan C. Muller is a fourth generation Texan. She attended Stephen F. Austin State University where she studied business administration but took creative writing classes on the side. She started her first novel at age eleven, but it wasn’t until after she had worked many years and raised a family that she returned to her first love, writing.

She enjoys speaking to book clubs and writer’s groups. Susan lives in Spring, Texas with her rescue dog, Maggie. She loves to travel and has been fortunate to see much of the world. Her favorite places include Kenya, New Zealand, and the Galapagos Islands.

When not writing, she can be found doing volunteer work at a local hospital. Her hobbies include reading, traveling, snorkeling and taking long walks.

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