#MondayBlogs: I DIDN’T KNOW HIS NAME – Free Short Story

Last week I talked about the Bestsellerbound Anthology – Volume 1, and shared my story from that collection. Today I’m sharing my story from the BestsellerBound Anthology – Volume 2. First, here’s a look at the book:

 

BsB2

A collection of short stories written by authors from the BestsellerBound group.

1. What Was Lost by James Sophi
2. The Art of Breathing by Jaime McDougall
3. Soul Windows by Jaleta Clegg
4. I Didn’t Know His Name by Darcia Helle
5. Red Route by James Everington
6. Make A Wish by Susan Helene Gottfried
7. The Last Chance Motel and Mausoleum by Joel Blaine Kirkpatrick
8. Isolation by Maria Savva
9. Beyond The Green Hills by Tom Gahan
10. From Joy We Come, Unto Joy We Return by Ami Blackwelder

This is a free download!

Amazon / Barnes and Noble / Smashwords / Quiet Fury Books

 

The story I wrote for this collection began like many of the short stories and novels I write – with a sentence. Of course, all writing starts with a sentence, right? What I mean is that the first sentence popped into my head one evening out of nowhere. That sentence rattled around my head all night, marinating, churning up debris, making me itchy inside. I didn’t have the vaguest idea where the sentence was leading, but I knew I had to follow. I had to write whatever story that sentence meant for me to find. And so I did. I sat with the sentence. I typed. The story and its main character came alive for me as I wrote. I hope you enjoy it.

 

I Didn’t Know His Name

The sky wept for the man about to be buried. Fat drops splattered and spread until the greedy earth sucked them in. The shower of tears added weight to the dirt, causing miniature mudslides in the growing hole.

I didn’t cry for the man whose grave I was digging. I didn’t know him. The man could have been a wealthy philanthropist, donating millions to help eradicate world hunger. Or he could have been a pedophile. As with most people, he probably spent his life in the middle of these two extremes. He’d be known by many, truly missed by only a few.

I stuck my shovel into the wet dirt. The metal clanged against something hard and I spent several minutes digging out a baseball-sized chunk of rock. The cool rain dripped down the back of my lightweight jacket, raising goose bumps on my flesh. Despite the chill, sweat sprang from my forehead and armpits. I’d been digging for twenty minutes and had barely made a dent in the ancient land.

Mud sucked at my sneakers. I stepped back from the hole and wiped the rain from my eyes. This would be the man’s final resting place. He’d be watched over by the crowd of trees and the animals and insects that made this space their home. The earth would slowly reclaim him; the ultimate form of recycling.

I didn’t know the man’s name. Names were nothing more than labels attached to us at birth. We could just as easily be assigned serial numbers.

The rain eased to a slow sprinkle. I stuck my shovel back in the ground, came up with a pile of fresh earth. I set it beside the hole, went back in for more. Lift and dump. Lift and dump. A mindless activity, perhaps, though I found it profoundly stimulating. I had chosen this place, beneath these trees, and intended to treat this final resting place with the respect it deserved.

I didn’t know his name, this man whose grave I was digging. I didn’t know when he’d come into the world or how he’d lived his life. I would know the intimate details of his last moments. I would know where he’d been laid to rest.

How we lived wasn’t as important as how we died.

My shirt clung to me, wet with both sweat and rain. I lifted another shovelful of dirt, added it to the pile. The clouds rolled and divided. A slice of blue sky brought a glimpse of the sun. It had come to say a final goodbye.

A tree root impeded my progress. I worked diligently, breaking it with the blade of my shovel, dissecting it to allow space for the body that would rest here.

I didn’t know the man’s name. Anthony or Andrew, Thomas or Timothy. The name didn’t matter, though I would like the intimacy that one provided. I could give him a name, Christen him anew on this day, in this place where he’d come to the end of his journey.

I dwelled on this momentarily as I dug. No, I thought, as I uncovered another large rock. Names came with baggage. Identities bound us to who we’d been, the person others had come to know and expected us to be. Names created portraits, with colors and symbols, distinctions and associations. We grew to look like the name and the name grew to define us.

This man, whose final resting place I now dug, would remain anonymous to me. He would leave the world the way he came, a clean slate in which the portrait could be anything of his making. No boundaries to define his life or his death.

An hour into the digging and I was halfway there. New England dirt could be difficult, challenging, relentless in its struggle to remain intact. The earth here was never eager to give up its depths. That quality made it all the more perfect for its intended use.

Many would say that what I do holds no value. Digging a hole, moving earth from one place to another then back again. Many would scoff, call what I do menial labor. We have machines now to do most everything for us. We need not strain ourselves unnecessarily, whether that strain be physical or intellectual.

I vehemently disagree, as you might suspect. Digging a hole is not simply about creating an empty pocket within the earth. The process brings me to a place of solitude. The dirt beneath my fingernails, clinging to my skin. The rich, intoxicating odors of freshly bloomed flowers and long buried sediment.

Birth and death rarely meet.

The spot of final rest is never a random choice. I do not spin my shovel and dig where the blade points. I take my work seriously and cannot leave such things to chance.

While conception is often a random, thoughtless moment in time, death can never be. To start a complicated life or a simple story requires little. You see, no one would know the difference, whether you’d done it right or wrong or not at all. That thing, the life or the story, did not exist before you chose to bring it about.

Perhaps your child or your story was conceived by accident. The conception, that brief moment, is rarely remembered and matters not. The life lived, the story told, become the focus.

Death, however, destroys that which exists. The moment takes something away and gives nothing back. That end, whether it be a slow fizzle or a grand explosion, can overshadow all else. Death becomes the defining moment of the life lived.

I didn’t know his name, this man whose final resting place I’d finished digging. The rain had ended and the sun now worked to dry the dampness left behind. Drops of water slipped from the leaves above. The sound became like a thousand tiny fairies performing a farewell tap dance.

The time had come for earth and man to meet. I looked over now, at the man I’d left tied to the tree. His frantic squirming over the past two hours had caused the ropes to dig into his flesh. Blood trickled from the raw wounds. The gag forced his tongue to remain still. I did not know this man’s name and I didn’t want him to say it aloud.

I untied the ropes, releasing the man from the tree. The binds on his ankles and wrists remained. I bent at the knees and hoisted him up. He wasn’t overly heavy but I was tired from two hours of digging. The strain of lifting him made my legs tremble.

I walked him to the hole. His eyes locked on mine. I saw his story there, details of a life lived, as he pleaded with those eyes. But I didn’t want to know those details.

Down on my knees, I lowered him into the hole. A puddle had formed there at the bottom and he shivered at the chill. I picked up my shovel and tossed the first pile of dirt over his legs. He squirmed and twisted. I stuck my shovel in the mound of dirt. Lift and dump. Lift and dump.

I saved his face for last. The weight of the soil kept him still now, though his head rolled back and forth. Fighting till the end. I looked into his eyes and absorbed those last moments. An entire life condensed into this brief exchange.

The dirt splashed over his face. He sputtered, spit at the dark loam. Then he was gone. I continued on, lifting and dumping the earth. His hands, bound together, pushed through the mound and clawed for freedom one last time.

I didn’t know his name, this man whose final resting place I had chosen. In the end, his name hadn’t mattered. They never did.

 *

If you missed last week’s post, you can find my story and information on the BestsellerBound Anthologies here: You Can Call Me Ari

Remember that all four anthologies are free!

Thanks for reading. :)

Book Review: NORMAL by Graeme Cameron

Normal

He lives in your community, in a nice house with a well-tended garden. He shops in your grocery store, bumping shoulders with you and apologizing with a smile. He drives beside you on the highway, politely waving you into the lane ahead of him.

What you don’t know is that he has an elaborate cage built into a secret basement under his garage. And the food that he’s carefully shopping for is to feed a young woman he’s holding there against her will—one in a string of many, unaware of the fate that awaits her.

This is how it’s been for a long time. It’s normal…and it works. Perfectly.

Then he meets the checkout girl from the 24-hour grocery. And now the plan, the hunts, the room…the others—he doesn’t need any of them anymore. He only needs her. But just as he decides to go straight, the police start to close in. He might be able to cover his tracks, except for one small problem—he still has someone trapped in his garage.

Discovering his humanity couldn’t have come at a worse time.

Published: April 1, 2015

Amazon / Amazon UK

 

My Review: ★ ★ ★

This story has an intriguing premise. Told from a serial killer’s perspective, we go along with him as he murders young women, abducts and keeps one, all while falling in love with an unassuming woman.

It’s a rare and fortunate man who can pinpoint precisely the moment his life began to unravel.

The dialogue kept me entertained. The killer has a dry wit and humorous comebacks during conversation. The pace is quick, though the plot doesn’t hold many surprises, at least for me. I was able to predict most of what happened along the way.

My biggest issue with this book is that I didn’t completely buy into the serial killer’s character. The main aspect of his personality is a cold-blooded psychopath who gets off on the power he holds while kidnapping and killing women. Yet there is also a soft side to him, the side that falls in love. This is sudden and new to him. While I, oddly, sympathized with his plight, I just wasn’t able to make that leap from unfeeling bad guy to a man who suddenly develops a conscience.

And now, as I sat idly tracing her cold contours with my fingertips, I felt no satisfaction at having shouted down the voice in my head.

Another problem I had was the typically inept police work. These characters felt too stereotypical. And, finally, I have no idea how this guy supported himself. I might have missed that information somewhere along the line. An inheritance, maybe? He didn’t have a job, as far as I could tell, and never worried about paying the bills.

I think the intention here was for a Dexter-like comparison, but ultimately the main character falls short. Still, there was enough here to keep me reading. This is the type of book that makes us rethink what we know about the people we interact with.

He knew, as I know now, that I was born and not made. A product of nature, and nurture be damned.

 

Thanks for reading. :)

Blog Tour and Giveaway: BLOOD OATH by Sabrina Rawson

Blood Oath Tour Banner

Title: Blood Oath
Author: Sabrina Rawson
Published: March 6th, 2015
Publisher: Titan InKorp Ltd.
Genre: Contemporary Romance Suspense
Content Warning: Violence, Rape, Kidnapping, PTSD, Human Trafficking, Sexual Content
Recommended Age: 17+

Blood-Oath Collin was prepared for anything, until he met her…

Collin spent fifteen years leading a team of operatives renowned for their zero failure rate of disrupting the horrors of human trafficking. Struggling with PTSD, he was ready to retire after one last mission. He had to stick to the mission and any distractions could lead to lives lost. His attraction to Madeline was instantaneous, a future filled with warm nights now possible. Meeting Madeline made him want to let life happen and she was the woman he wanted to share it with.

Madeline couldn’t believe her luck meeting Collin on her first vacation ever. She knew she was a workaholic, but she had to in order to be a successful business owner and overcome the stigma her parents had left behind. The more time spent with Collin, the more she wanted him to keep on looking at her for the rest of her life. Kidnapped, Madeline has trouble believing she can survive the abuse of her captors. Remembering who she used to be, Madeline retains hope the one man she loves will rescue her.

Neither will stop at anything until they can hold each other in their arms again.

Real life situations from human trafficking to PTSD. This story is about not giving up on life. Doing all things impossible to survive one more day.

Amazon / Goodreads

 

Excerpt for Blood Oath by Sabrina Rawson

The scar that ran from the side of his nose across his cheek down his throat hadn’t distracted her focus neither did his full lips. Lips she wanted to taste and feel all over her body. A body her hands itched to explore. She hadn’t seen any tattoos on his arms, but did that mean his weren’t hidden.

Flustered at where her thoughts had carried her she fidgeted with the zipper of her carryon too frustrated to pull it smoothly across its seam.

“If you pull that thing any harder the first thing we will purchase when we get there will be a new bag for you. What’s with you?” Shelly quipped, reaching over to take the bag from her before she broke the zipper. “You usually treat your luggage with delicate fingers.”

Wiping her forehead with her hand she felt like she was about to break a sweat. She knew her hot flash was because she couldn’t get rid of the images of what she wanted to happen with the man a few feet away. Naked things. Sexual things. Things she had never felt from her body before. For the first time in her life she felt desired with such intensity the feeling shocked her.

“I’m fine. A little shaken, but fine,” she admitted.

Shelly stopped what she was doing and looked at her. She tilted her head and scrutinized her with an expression she recognized as the analytical Shelly. She knew she was about to get a lecture about living in the moment, but thank God first class seats were called to board.

They rose grabbing their bags and heading embarrassingly past the men to hand the flight attendant their boarding passes. Before they walked into the Jetway, one of the men said, “The red is one classy babe, but the brunette is hot. I don’t know which one is better. They both look hot to me.”

She and Shelly gasped, but neither one of them had enough nerve to turn around. Leaving the waiting area, the last thing she heard before hurrying to their seats was an unmistakable growl followed by the possessive words that sent chills straight to her core.

“The brunette is mine.”

 

About the Author:

Sabrina-Rawson Sabrina is a cancer survivor who recently published works with Survivor’s Review and Titan InKorp Online eMag. She has published two novels within a New Adult Urban Fantasy series called A Novel of four Realms and a new Contemporary Romance Suspense Novel series called An Eagle Operatives Novel. She enjoys life happily married to a supportive husband. You can always find her reading a book or cooking a meal for her multitude of children.

Amazon Author Page | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Website

 

Getting to Know You Interview with Sabrina Rawson

What inspires you?

Survivors. It doesn’t matter what type of adversity a person could be exposed to, they are my inspiration. Recently, two women who went through cancer with me were my source of inspiration. It was at that time I said why not, I’ll give my dream a try. When they became terminal I cried because I was battling and winning when they were battling and losing. One of them, Kim, she tells me to finish writing my book because “there is nothing wrong with having the time to follow your dreams.” I spent two years writing my book in which six months was spent seeking professional advice and support stepping outside my comfort zone to achieve my dream of self-publication.

What are your three most treasured material possessions?

1. The first is a Raggedy Ann vase my mother received in the hospital the day I was born. I have it in my china hutch along with my Raggedy Ann collection.

2. The second is a book I read to my girls every night for four years Monday – Friday, right after bath time. I called it the day of the week book….LOL. It’s called, “I Love You Forever” written by Robert Munsch. I would say the chorus and the children would sing it back to me in with harmonic toddler voices…

I love you forever,
I like you for always.
As long as I’m living
My baby you’ll be.

3. The third is a wobbly bug in a hollowed nut my son gave to me before he passed. It was a lady bug with it’s legs that wobbled when you shook the shell it was encased in. I have it tucked away in my dresser, but it holds a special place holder in my heart when I think of him or it. He cracked up over the toy and I thought, “boys and their toys…here it starts,” I miss him greatly at times and looking at the toy reminds me he was real and we loved each other greatly and that was good.

What scares you the most and why?

Horror movies and books. I hate the dark imagination. I don’t believe life has happy endings all the time and I accept that life is finite, but to dwell on the horrific side of life in detail is just bleh, yuck, gross!

Do you believe in destiny?

I believe destiny is fluid and my choices help to shape that destiny.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Life moving along a little slower than the pace it is today. If I could live life on vacation and work moderately that would be perfect. A blend of relaxation and enjoyment with touch of entrepreneurship.

What is your favorite childhood memory?

Sabrina Rawson Interview Smelling flowers on a camping trip with my father in Yosemite. I must have been two or three years old and I remember the sound of rushing water, him telling me to look at the fish, but I wanted to smell the flowers. It was important to me to do that one thing and he took a picture of me doing it. I forgot about that moment for many, many years and then I stumbled on the photograph several years ago and the memory came rushing back to me clear as day.

What is your favorite food? Least favorite?

Spanish food is my favorite and my least favorite is Vietnamese food.

What is your favorite material possession?

My first Atari Game Station. My step-father bought it for the family back in 1981 and I was so excited. I mean as a kid to see that there on the big screen it was huge to see animation I could control and do it again and again. There was nothing like that. I still have the game station, games and all the controllers to this day.

What personality traits do you most admire in others?

Honesty, Integrity, Faithfulness, Witty, Outgoing,

If your life had a theme song, what would it be? Please share a bit of the lyrics and what they mean to you.

I think I can,
I think I can,
I think I can,
I’m the Little Engine that Could.

Life is all about putting one foot in front of the other. Never stop moving forward putting one foot in front of the other.

*
Giveaway Details:

There is a tour wide giveaway. Prizes include the following:

• 2 x $15 Amazon Gift Cards (Int)
• 1 Book Bag with swag (US)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

JGBS Logo

#BFMBlast – BAD FOR ME by Codi Gary – Win A Kindle Paperwhite!

bad for me tour banner

Title: Bad For Me
Series: Rock Canyon #5
Author: Codi Gary
Publication Date: April 7, 2015
Publisher: Avon Romance
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Bad For Me Callie Jacobsen isn’t about to open her heart to just anyone. Not so very long ago, trusting someone changed her life forever—and not in a fun way. Now she’s better off focusing on her career, her friends, and her dog. So when former Marine Everett Silverton takes an interest in her, Callie’s more than a little wary. No matter how charming he is, men are a bad idea. In fact, she’s got the scars to prove it. But Everett isn’t convinced Callie should shut everyone out—especially not him. He may be a hero to the people of Rock Canyon, but he’s got his own demons, and he bets they’re not that different from Callie’s. Still, he knows it’s going to take more than chemistry to get her to let her guard down. Everett will do whatever it
takes to show her she’s safe with him. All she has to do is take a chance, take a step … and take his hand.

Avon Romance / Amazon / Barnes and Noble / iBooks / Kobo / Goodreads

 

Excerpt from Bad For Me by Codi Gary

“Looks like you could use a hand.”

“Son of a bitch!” Surprised, Callie spun around from her kneeling position so fast that she fell over, landing in the softening muck with a splat. She’d been too busy cursing the shredded tire and the pouring rain to hear Everett behind her until he spoke.

Callie shook her mud-covered hands and was sure she heard a snort of laughter from Everett over the pouring rain and Ratchet’s muffled barking inside the Jeep.

“Hasn’t anyone ever told you that sneaking up on someone is rude?” Callie glared up at Everett, who was holding his hands down to her. Even though he wasn’t smiling, she’d have to be blind not to catch the amused gleam in his eyes.

Jackass.

Ignoring his offer of assistance, she climbed to her feet, but her bruised pride earned her even more mud as her jeans were soaked through. She tried to wipe off the muck, but it just smeared.

“They have, which is why I didn’t sneak; I walked. I saw you huddled over and figured I could help.”

“Thanks, but I’ve got this,” she said.

Thunder erupted over their heads, and Callie felt like the sky was laughing at her too.

“You sure? You’re shivering like crazy, and I can have this changed in under four minutes. I’ll have you know I hold the Silverton family record for fastest tire change.” Lightning lit up the sky, highlighting his cheeky grin. “And I’ve been told more than once that I’m good with my hands.”

She didn’t want to smile at his gentle teasing, but she was cold and miserable, and he was offering her a way out.

“I was just going to call triple A for a tow—”

“It will be faster if I just change it; believe me. Here.” Everett reached around her and opened the door to the Jeep. “Hop in, and I’ll grab the spare from the back.”

Callie’s face burned with embarrassment. “It’s not there.”

“What?”

“I meant to buy another one, but these suckers aren’t cheap and I just . . . I never got around to it.” She leaned her head against the door, laughing humorlessly. “Pretty stupid, huh?”

“Well, yeah, but there’s no use in me lecturing you when you already know.”

Callie glanced at him sharply. “Thanks a lot, Dad.”

“Come on; I’ll take you to Jose’s Tires, and we’ll get you a new one.”

“I told you; I can’t afford it right now—”

“I’ll take care of it. Don’t worry.”

“Um, no. I don’t like being in anyone’s debt.” She squirmed under his thoughtful gaze and added, “Thank you, but I must decline.”

“Well, I must insist. You can’t just sit here on the side of the road until payday, and triple A will ding you for using one of your get-out-of-trouble calls.” Another crack of thunder shook the sky. “Look, I get it. You don’t know me from Adam, but I can get you over to Jose’s and get you a line of emergency credit. That way, you won’t owe me anything, and I don’t have to stand out in the rain. Sound fair?”

Her insides churned, and she cursed. If she’d just gotten a new spare when she’d bought her last set, she wouldn’t be sitting in the rain at the mercy of a large former marine.

Who you can’t seem to get out of your head.

And now she was about to get into a car with him and have to make small talk. What if he started flirting with ideas that she was interested in him as anything more than an acquaintance?

Why? Because you actually feel something for him, unlike every other guy since Tristan? You gotta start to move on sometime.

But moving on meant putting her trust in another man, and she wasn’t sure she could ever make that mistake again.

“Okay,” Everett said. “I really don’t want to stand out in the rain while you debate whether or not I’m some dirt bag trying to scam you, so how about I run up to Jose’s, get the tire, and come back?”

He was giving her an out and still offering to help her. If she was smart, she would take him up on the offer and climb up into the safety of her Jeep, away from him and his warm brown eyes.

He’s Fred’s son, and everyone says he’s honorable. It’s not like you’re driving to Mexico. It’s right up the road. He didn’t even have to stop—most people wouldn’t have.

“Wait,” she said when he started to turn away. Grabbing Ratchet’s leash and her purse from inside her car, she ignored the voices in her head.

“We’re coming.”

 

bfm meet button

Codi Gary Author Photo
An obsessive bookworm, Codi Gary likes to write sexy small-town contemporary romances with humor, grand gestures, and blush-worthy moments. When she’s not writing, she can be found reading her favorite authors, squealing over her must-watch shows, and playing with her children. She lives in Idaho with her family.

Website / Facebook / Twitter / Goodreads / Pinterest / Avon Romance

 

bfm giveaway button

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

masq button

#MondayBlogs: YOU CAN CALL ME ARI – Free Short Story

Years ago, when I first ventured into self-publishing, I had the pleasure of meeting some of the nicest, most talented indie authors out there. We had a group, a kind of online author hangout, called Bestsellerbound. Over our few years together, we published four volumes of short stories, all of them free. Life and commitments and the broadening indie community caused our group to disperse, and some of us have since lost touch. But the anthologies are still out there, floating around, free, waiting to be read. Here is the first:

BsBV1

A collection of stories by a variety of authors.

Wish Upon A Star by Lainey Bancroft
Tears For Hesh by J. Michael Radcliffe
You Can Call Me Ari by Darcia Helle
Flames by Maria Savva
Minor Details by Jaleta Clegg
Ice Cream Man by Neil Schiller
No Eyes But Mine Shall See by Sharon E. Cathcart
The First Texas Twister by Magnolia Belle
Shadow Lantern by Gareth Lewis
Stained by Amy Saunders

Amazon / Barnes and Noble / Smashwords / Quiet Fury Books

 

Thought I’d share my short story today. The inspiration for this is comical, to me, though not so much to the person involved. I’d been seeing a chiropractor. One day, I was in the midst of a session, and I had this flash of an… unpleasant scene. By the time I got home, that flash had broadened into the niggling of a story that wouldn’t leave me alone. That afternoon, I wrote this story. A few days later, I returned to my chiropractor and told him that he – or his treatment – had inspired me to write this. He was not amused. The guy took himself far too seriously. :roll:

I hope you enjoy the story.

 

You Can Call Me Ari

Lorraine stepped into the waiting room. Surprisingly, she found herself alone. That was certainly a first. Every doctor’s office she’d ever been in had an overflow of patients, sitting in uncomfortable chairs with long outdated magazines and irritating music for company. Maybe chiropractors were different and didn’t load their patients in like herds of cattle.

She walked over to the reception desk but found it, too, was empty. Had she gotten her appointment wrong? Lorraine checked her watch. Nearly two o’clock. Odd that the place would be deserted in the middle of the afternoon.

She’d never been to a chiropractor before. The idea of having her bones cracked and moved around didn’t sound the least bit appealing. But it had been six weeks since the car accident and the pain in her neck and back still kept her up nights. Betty, her best friend, had convinced her to give Dr. Grant a chance. Now, here she was, standing alone in an office that appeared abandoned. This could be a sign for her to turn around and go right back home.

For a moment, Lorraine considered listening to that little voice telling her to flee the scene. Then she turned and a horrible twinge raced up her spine. She let out an involuntary gasp. Damn that hurt! With a resigned sigh, she moved gingerly toward one of the chairs.

Just as she was about to lower herself onto a seat, the door leading to the exam rooms popped open. A man, presumably Dr. Grant, smiled at her. He stood about 5’10”, had dark hair and wide-set, dark eyes. He wore tan chinos and a bold-striped, short-sleeved dress shirt. No white lab coat proclaimed him to be doctor or mad scientist.

“Lorraine?” the man asked.

“Yes.”

“I’m Dr. Grant. You can come on back.”

Nervous butterflies fluttered in Lorraine’s stomach. As she followed the doctor into the hall, she said, “It’s very quiet in here.”

“Yes,” Dr. Grant replied. “That awful flu going around seems to have struck many of my patients. Even James, my office manager, is out sick today.”

“Oh, that’s too bad. I’ve been lucky to avoid it so far.”

Dr. Grant stepped aside and motioned Lorraine into a room. “Right in here,” he said.

Lorraine’s eyes were immediately drawn to the contraption in the center of the room. Logic told her it was the exam and treatment table, though her overly active imagination saw it as a torture table. She’d been reading far too many thrillers since her retirement.

“You’re having neck and back pain?” Dr. Grant asked.

“Yes, since I was rear-ended in an accident six weeks ago,” Lorraine said. “We weren’t going fast but the jolt must have been harder than I first thought. The pain keeps me up nights and I’m having trouble getting around during the day.”

Dr. Grant smiled and nodded. He had an eager smile, almost like a child on Christmas morning. Lorraine looked away, unsettled by the enthusiasm.

“Go ahead and lie face down on the table,” Dr. Grant said, “and we’ll get started.”

Lorraine hesitated. She’d expected to sit in one of the nice leather chairs first. She hadn’t given this doctor any of her history. Didn’t he need to know the details of her accident and where her pain was? She stood in the awkward silence, with Dr. Grant’s happy brown eyes fixed on her, and suddenly felt silly. She couldn’t compare this visit to a typical doctor visit. He was the chiropractor. Of course he knew what he was doing.

The table had three sections. The top was narrow with a slit between the padding. Lorraine assumed that was for her nose, so she’d be able to breathe. She climbed on, grimacing at the pain as she maneuvered her body into the correct spots.

“Comfy?” Dr. Grant asked.

“I suppose,” Lorraine said. The words came out slightly garbled, as she did her best to speak with her face crushed into the leather padding.

A motor whirred beneath her as the table lifted. Dr. Grant ran his hand over her spine, pressing firmly in various spots. Lorraine flinched when he came to the worst. “Ahh,” said Dr. Grant. “I see we’ve found a sensitive area.”

Lorraine opened her mouth to respond but the words were sucked from her as Dr. Grant did something with the center piece of the table and the heel of his palm. The table jerked up and into her belly, while he forced her down and held her there. She gasped, then moaned. “Oh, stop!” she cried. “That’s hurts!”

“Does it now?” he said.

A moment passed, then the table jerked back to its normal position and his hand left her spine. Lorraine bit her lip to keep from crying. This had been the worst idea ever. Why had she listened to Betty? As soon as the pain eased, she was going to leave this office and never come back. She might even sue the man for torturing her this way!

She was about to lift her head, to tell Dr. Grant to lower the table so she could get off without hurting herself even further, when she felt something clamp against the back of her neck. Before her mind could grasp what was happening, the clamp continued around the front of her neck and snapped in place. He had pinned her neck to the table!

“What are you doing?” she shouted into the padding. “Take this off of me. I don’t want any further treatments.”

Dr. Grant chuckled. The sound sent a chill down Lorraine’s aching spine. “Relax,” he said. “Anxiety will only intensify the pain.”

“I said I want you to stop!”

“I heard you. And I politely decline.”

Something slipped around her right wrist and soon her arm was tightly strapped to the armrest beneath the table. She lifted her left arm, flailing it uselessly in the air. Dr. Grant’s firm grasp easily caught hold and secured that wrist to the opposite armrest.

Tears burned Lorraine’s eyes. This couldn’t be happening. What kind of doctor strapped his patients unwillingly to a table?

His hands moved almost lovingly over her spine. “Has the pain subsided?” he asked.

“I want to get up now.” Her words were a plea, rather than a command. She cleared her throat, tried again. “You need to let me off this table now.”
That chuckle again, as his hands traveled up to the back of her neck. “I might have stretched the truth earlier,” he said. “Perhaps even told an outright lie.”

Lorraine sucked on her lip in an attempt to staunch the tears. Her nose ran onto the white paper that lined the padded table. She didn’t want to hear him say what he’d lied about. By now, she’d figured it out. Hearing the words would make it too real.

The pressure on her neck increased. He kneaded a spot as he spoke. “My name is not Dr. Grant.” He chuckled and pressed harder. “In fact, I am not a doctor at all. Shame on me, I know. Sometimes I simply can’t help myself.”

His hand left her. She gasped, sucking in air that refused to fill her lungs. A moment later, she felt something hard against her spine. “My name,” the man said, “is Arian Hatch. You can call me Ari.”

The object at her back came to life, slamming her against the table with a series of intense jolts. The sound was like a jackhammer. Or one of those rapid fire guns in the old war movies. The padded leather muffled her screams. A spasm rippled through her body, setting fire to her nerves.

The sound finally stopped and whatever tool he’d been using pulled away. Again, his fingers glided over her spine in much the way a man would touch his lover. “I’m sorry to tell you,” Ari said, “that Dr. Grant is dead. I killed him earlier this morning. He deserved it, you see. He’d been giving me adjustments to ease my headaches. I get these blinding migraines from time to time. Horrible. Truly. He’d sworn he could help me. Sadly, the man’s career was built on lies and broken promises. I gained no relief. When I confronted him with this, he attempted to excuse his incompetence by claiming that he’d never promised relief. Some patients, he told me, cannot be helped with his methods. He tried and, so he said, was sorry that I’d experienced no benefits.”

Ari walked around to the other side of the table. His hand smoothed her hair down and he sighed. “Dr. Grant’s blatant attempt to deflect his inadequacies by placing the blame on my own inability to heal could not go unpunished. I easily restrained and held him right here, on his own table, for a little taste of his own snake-oil medicine. Initially, I had not intended to kill him. You see, I’m normally much more discriminative in these situations. I don’t kill randomly.”

That creepy chuckle filled the room. Ari’s hand moved down Lorraine’s spine as he continued speaking. “I must admit that I lost control. That seldom happens, mind you. But, goodness, talk about a chamber of horrors! This is an ideal setup. I kept him here for three amazing hours. By that time, the final snap of his neck became a mercy killing. Sadly anticlimactic.”

Lorraine sucked in as much air as her lungs could handle, then let out the longest wail she could manage. Much of the sound got trapped by the thick padded leather. She sobbed and rattled her arms against the restraints.

Ari bent forward. His breath became a soft breeze in her hair. “No one will hear you,” he murmured. “Trust me on that. Now, I hate to be rude but please excuse me a moment.”

Lorraine felt, more than heard, him leave the room. She couldn’t move her head at all, could see nothing. Her back ached so badly that even lifting her leg an inch off the table sent her nerves into a spasm. The insanity of the situation left her mind spinning. She was trapped by a madman, all because the doctor she’d sought help from hadn’t been able to cure migraines.

Someone would come and save her. This was, after all, a doctor’s office. Other patients had appointments. Regular patients. They would know that this man, Arian Hatch, was not Dr. Grant. Someone would alert the authorities. Lorraine clung to that belief as the pain in her spine radiated into her legs.

Minutes passed. Lorraine thought she heard voices coming from the waiting room. A surge of hope gave her a brief burst of energy. She kicked against the table and screamed into the padding. Someone would hear her. Someone would save her from this lunatic.

A moment later, Ari chuckled from the doorway. “You’re feistier than I expected,” he said. “No one is coming to save you, Lorraine. I’ve placed a sign on the door and locked it tight. You’d be wise to stop struggling. For your own good, mind you. The struggle only intensifies the pain.”

He touched her spine and his next words were a mere whisper. “And it excites me.”

In the next instant, the table jerked up and into her ribs and he slammed a hard object against the middle of her spine. He forced an enormous amount of pressure, twisted her back, not easing up until something snapped. White hot pain stole her breath, the intensity worse than anything she could have imagined. She couldn’t move, couldn’t even scream. Tears streamed from her eyes, caught in the white paper and leather padding. Her nose ran. She tasted tears and snot as she fought to pull air in through her mouth.

Lorraine had no idea how much time passed. She gasped and cried until nothing was left inside her. Ari hadn’t touched her, hadn’t spoken, for what felt like hours. She prayed that he was gone, had gotten his perverse pleasure and had no intention of killing her.

But he’d told her his name.

She bit her trembling lip, sucked in another ragged breath. Then she waited, listening. She heard nothing at all. Just as she grasped that sliver of hope that he’d really gone and would not return, a rustling from the corner of the room told her otherwise. He’d been there all along. Listening. Watching.

“I killed James,” Ari said. “The office manager. I don’t suppose you knew him, since you are a new patient. I took no pleasure in that killing. You see, James was what one might call collateral damage. He brought me into this room and he would soon bring other patients to the other rooms. I couldn’t allow that. I wanted Dr. Grant to myself and needed our time to be free of interruptions. So, yes, James had to be disposed of. Once I had Dr. Grant properly secured, I took care of James. A quick snap of the neck. Disappointing, really. I then locked the front door, ensuring the privacy I required.”

Ari stepped close again, his hand traveling like a feather over Lorraine’s spine. “My intention, dear Lorraine, was to leave once I’d finished with Dr. Grant. I’d exceeded my own expectations of the day already. Oh, but killing Dr. Grant had left me both ecstatic and deflated. Ending playtime is always somewhat of a disappointment, no matter how much fun one has during the activities. As I was preparing to leave, I glanced at Dr. Grant’s appointments for the day. He died at 1:38, in the midst of his scheduled lunch break. You were his first appointment of the afternoon. A new patient, for which he’d marked off an entire thirty minutes. Given that you were new, I took a chance in assuming that you would not know what Dr. Grant looked like. I do hope that you’ll forgive my little deception.”

Lorraine gagged as acidic vomit rose into her throat. “Please,” she said. “I’ve done nothing to you. Please. Let me go.”

Ari found that funny, chuckling heartily. “Ah, but Lorraine, don’t you see? Dr. Grant was my main course. You are my dessert.”

Lorraine felt herself deflate. That last shred of hope she’d been clinging to slipped away. His hands touched her spine. Time stopped. The things he did to her brought her close to insanity. She prayed for death, begged for it when able. At one point, she lost consciousness. She could have been out for a minute or a day. She had no way of judging and no longer cared. When awareness trickled its way back to her, she only felt sadness in finding herself alive.

Her legs were numb, as if they didn’t exist. The pain in her back was white hot, searing. She suddenly realized that she could not feel the paper and padding against her face. She opened her eyes and the ceiling swam into focus. Bright lights. Someone singing. Was that an angel? Was she dead?
Then Ari’s face swam into her vision. He grinned at her. “Welcome back,” he said. “I was beginning to wonder if you’d vacated permanently.”

Lorraine pushed her eyes closed, refusing to look at the devil who wanted to steal her soul. She wouldn’t let him have it. That was all she had left and she intended to keep it with her until the end.

“I must go now,” Ari said. “It’s getting late and I’m expected elsewhere.” His hands caressed her throat. “But I couldn’t leave without saying goodbye. That would be rude, don’t you think?”

A feathery touch floated over her cheek. “You’ve been a wonderful playmate, Lorraine,” Ari said. “Don’t you want to say goodbye?”

Lorraine kept her eyes tightly shut. She didn’t attempt to speak, wasn’t even sure she was able. Regardless, she wouldn’t give this madman the satisfaction. She hung on to her soul, keeping it close, not allowing him so much as a glimpse inside.

Ari waited. She knew what he wanted. Her soul. He wanted to own her, every piece of her.

“Lorraine,” Ari whispered. “Sweet Lorraine. Do you not wish to look at me?”

She didn’t answer, didn’t open her eyes.

His breath was against her ear. “Remember I told you that I don’t kill randomly? I meant that, my dear. I will not kill you today, though you might wish that I had. I want you to remember me always. My name is Arian Hatch. But you can call me Ari.”

 

Don’t forget that you can grab this one, along with the other three, free! Links are above.

Thanks for reading. :)

Book Review – DEAD WAKE: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larson

Dead Wake

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author and master of narrative nonfiction comes the enthralling story of the sinking of the Lusitania

On May 1, 1915, with WWI entering its tenth month, a luxury ocean liner as richly appointed as an English country house sailed out of New York, bound for Liverpool, carrying a record number of children and infants. The passengers were surprisingly at ease, even though Germany had declared the seas around Britain to be a war zone. For months, German U-boats had brought terror to the North Atlantic. But the Lusitania was one of the era’s great transatlantic “Greyhounds”—the fastest liner then in service—and her captain, William Thomas Turner, placed tremendous faith in the gentlemanly strictures of warfare that for a century had kept civilian ships safe from attack.

Germany, however, was determined to change the rules of the game, and Walther Schwieger, the captain of Unterseeboot-20, was happy to oblige. Meanwhile, an ultra-secret British intelligence unit tracked Schwieger’s U-boat, but told no one. As U-20 and the Lusitania made their way toward Liverpool, an array of forces both grand and achingly small—hubris, a chance fog, a closely guarded secret, and more—all converged to produce one of the great disasters of history.

It is a story that many of us think we know but don’t, and Erik Larson tells it thrillingly, switching between hunter and hunted while painting a larger portrait of America at the height of the Progressive Era. Full of glamour and suspense, Dead Wake brings to life a cast of evocative characters, from famed Boston bookseller Charles Lauriat to pioneering female architect Theodate Pope to President Woodrow Wilson, a man lost to grief, dreading the widening war but also captivated by the prospect of new love.

Gripping and important, Dead Wake captures the sheer drama and emotional power of a disaster whose intimate details and true meaning have long been obscured by history.

Published: March 10, 2015

Amazon / Amazon UK

 

My Review: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Erik Larson has a gift for putting readers right in the moment. This is nonfiction that reads like the best fiction. I could see the ship, smell the ocean, hear the tinkling china and the laughter on board, and feel everything as it happened. Larson is truly a master of research. Here he is able to provide us with personal touches so that we feel we know the people through their background and their daily interactions. And when we know the people involved, we care more about what happens to them.

As always there were passengers who had achieved fame, and their arrival created a stir among the thousands of well-wishers, kin, and spectators now gathered along the wharf to see the ship off. Cunard had built grandstands to honor the custom, and these were full as always; they afforded a view not just of the ship but of a portion of Lower Manhattan and the wharves and vessels jutting from the shore on both sides of the Hudson. Just north stood the piers of the White Star Line, which three years earlier, almost to the month, were to have received the Titanic. Among the spectators the attention given to the Lusitania and its passengers was more acute than usual, given the German warning published in the city’s papers that morning.

The climactic scene all this leads up to, the one history tells us will certainly occur, still manages to take me by surprise. The detail Larson provides is both fascinating and horrifying.

Shortly after noon on Sunday, Schwieger gave orders to ascend. Now came “the blind moment,” as commanders called it, that dismayingly long interval just before the periscope broke the surface. Everyone listened carefully for the sounds of ships transmitted through the hull- the rush of water past a prow, the thrum of propellers. There was no other way to tell what lay above. As Schwieger stared through the eyepiece, the water became brighter and more clear. These seconds were, according to one commander, “some of the most nerve-racking that a man can endure.”

I need to emphasize that, while Larson provides incredible detail, we are not weighed down by facts. This story is woven together so that it never feels like a history lesson.

If you aren’t familiar with the Lusitania and how the ship relates to US involvement with WWI, then you’ll likely be astounded by what you learn here. And if you think you do know the story, you might be shocked by all you were never told.

 

Thanks for reading. :)

Cover Reveal! I’LL SING FOR MY DINNER by BR Kingsolver

I'll Sing for my Dinner Banner



About the Author:

BR Kingsolver BR Kingsolver is the author of the Telepathic Clans series (The Succubus Gift, Succubus Unleashed, and Succubus Rising) and Broken Dolls, a paranormal thriller.

BR grew up in Santa Fe, New Mexico, among writers, artists and weird Hispanic and Native American myths and folklore. BR has lived all over the U.S. and earned a living doing everything from making silver and turquoise jewelry, to construction to computers. BR currently splits time between Baltimore and Albuquerque.

BR made silver and turquoise jewelry for almost a decade, ended up in nursing school, then took a master’s in business. Along the way BR worked in construction, as a newspaper editor, and somehow found a career working with computers.

Amazon Author Page | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Blog | Website

 

Title: I’ll Sing for my Dinner
Author: BR Kingsolver
Published: April 1st, 2015
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Recommended Age: 17+

I'll Sing for my Dinner When Cecily Buchanan walks into the Roadhouse Bar and Grill and offers to sing for a meal, ex Marine Jake McGarrity can’t say no. Some say Jake is too soft hearted for his own good. But letting the waif with the cover girl face and the voice of an angel walk away would be more than he could stand.

Cecily’s sweet nature, bubbly personality and obvious talent endear her to everyone she meets, and Jake soon knows his heart is lost.

Cecily has secrets and won’t talk about her past, one so dark that she has nightmares and clutches a knife while she sleeps.

When those who are chasing her close in, she faces the decision of whether to run again or to trust her life to the cowboy angel who has taught her the meaning of love.

 

Excerpt from I’ll Sing for my Dinner by BR Kingsolver

A pickup truck pulled up in front of the bar and stopped. It looked like Luke Sowers in the driver’s seat. The door on the other side opened, but I couldn’t see who got out. Then the truck pulled out again, the tires throwing gravel, and sped off.

What was left, standing in the parking lot, looked like a hippie. A girl, with a backpack and something else. She shouldered the pack and picked up what I now could see was a guitar case, and headed for the door. Apparently, she was a hitchhiker and he dropped her off at my place. Thanks, Luke.

Making her way through the door, she came straight toward me instead of taking a seat at one of the tables. The sign by the door said ‘Seat yourself.’ I wondered what in the hell this was all about.
Stopping in front of me, she looked up into my face and asked in one of the most beautiful voices I’d ever heard, “May I speak to the owner, or the manager?”

The voice was a surprise, like a flower blooming in the desert. Her face was a shock. For all the grime, she was beautiful. Not pretty, but the kind of beauty you see on the covers of magazines. Long, stringy, greasy hair fell past her small breasts. She was thin, too thin, with a look in her gray eyes I hadn’t seen since coming back to the States, a combination of shell shock and hunger. The overall impression she projected was fragility. She came up to about my shoulder and I wasn’t sure she was old enough to be in a bar. What in the hell was she doing hitchhiking alone?

“I’m the owner, and the manager,” I replied. “I’m Jake McGarrity.”

“I’m Cecily,” she said. Turning, she looked around the room. The Roadhouse is a pretty typical bar with a bandstand at the end opposite the door and an area cleared for dancing. It was six-thirty in the evening, and we had two families with kids, about half a dozen couples, and two groups of four cowboys, all eating dinner. On a Wednesday night, that was pretty good. On a weekend, we did a lot better, and lunch was usually packed.

Turning back to me, she licked her lips and then said, “You have live music in here.” It was a statement, not a question. I nodded. The bandstand with the microphones and amplifiers made that pretty obvious.

“We have a band start at nine on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights,” I said.

“Do you ever have live music for your dinner guests?”

I gestured to one of the speakers on the wall. “We use canned music.”

“Mr. McGarrity, I don’t have a red cent to my name, and I haven’t eaten in two days,” she said. “I’ll play for your guests in exchange for a meal.”

My God. The raw, naked hope in her face was almost too much for me. My eyes blurred a little bit. People tell me sometimes that I’m a soft touch. I figure that charity never hurts the giver. I was going to feed her. There was no way I was going to turn someone away after they approached me like that.

“What kind of music do you play?” I asked.

She shrugged. “I can play anything. For dinner music,” she gestured toward the customers sitting at the tables, “something soft and relaxing, loud enough to be noticed, but not so loud that people can’t carry on a conversation. People’s behavior is different with live music, you know. They stay longer after they finish their meals, and order more drinks.”

In addition to the beauty of her voice, her accent was cultured. This girl was raised with money, or at least well educated. And she hadn’t been on the streets long enough for her vocabulary to degenerate. She didn’t even speak like a normal kid.

I took a deep breath, and then she said in a rush, “Let me just play a couple of songs. Okay? Before you decide. Please? And then, if you don’t think it’s a good idea, I’ll go.”

Go where? Go out and stand beside the highway with her thumb out? Just the thought of her hitchhiking, getting in strangers’ cars and ending the night raped and dead in a ditch, scared the hell out of me. If I read about her in the newspaper tomorrow, I’d never be able to forgive myself.

Nodding, I said, “Let’s hear what you’ve got.” I pulled a menu out from under the bar and pushed it across to her. “Give me your order, and you can play until your food is ready.”

 

JGBS Logo

Russian Adoption Gone Wrong! BEAUTIFUL EVIL WINTER by Kelly K. Lavender

Beautiful Evil Winter Banner 2

Title: Beautiful Evil Winter
Author: Kelly K. Lavender
Published: November 6th, 2014 (2nd edition)
Genre: Suspense Thriller
Recommended Age: 18+

Beautiful-Evil-Winter Beautiful Evil Winter, a Russian Action Thriller, earns a list of accolades including an Eric Hoffer Award for “…writing of significant merit” and a Readers’ Favorite International Book Award. The novel takes place in the 1990s after the fall of the USSR, a time reminiscent of the unforgiving, gunslinging days of the frontier west. When mild-mannered Ethan and fiery Sophia board a plane bound for Russia, they hope to secure their son’s safe passage back to the US. An innocent encounter with the Mafia de-rails their plans. Suddenly, they become a target of the iron-fisted Mafioso that wields total control of Russian adoptions. What can make matters worse? An inexperienced untrained adoption coordinator who must complete the legal process and insure a safe return to the US. How much hardship can a couple endure when faced with do or die events? When hope fails and suffering prevails, what’s left?

Amazon / Barnes and Noble / Goodreads

 

Awards and Honors

• The Eric Hoffer Awards – Commercial Fiction – Honorable Mention. The Hoffer Awards spotlight “…writing of significant merit.”
• The National Indie Excellence Awards – The New Fiction Finalist
• Dan Poytner’s Global EBook Awards-Bronze Medalist Suspense
• Readers’ Favorite International Book Awards-Triple Genre Finalist- Suspense, Thriller and Romance Sizzle
• Readers’ Favorite International Book Awards-Honorable Mention Suspense

Readers’ Favorite International Book Awards contestants include New York Times Best-Selling Authors and celebrities, comedian Jim Carey won an award this year.

 

Excerpt from Beautiful Evil Winter (2nd edition) by Kelly K. Lavender:

The conversation with Natasha on the phone last night burns in my brain.

“Adoption very risky in Russia now. The ban make Mafia watch money very close.”

How could she say that on the eve of our trip? I play back what Natasha said.

“This trip big gamble for you. I work to keep adoption away from Mafia. If I do not, police arrest you for human trafficking or Mafia take you. Better to go to prison. My name not appear anywhere, only yours. Phone will be disconnected. And I never know you.”

“Hello, folks. This is your pilot I apologize for the delay. The maintenance crew is working diligently to insure the safety of our trip. Thanks again for your patience.”

I glance over at Ethan, who’s dozing now.

“Honey?” I place my hand on his arm, but he doesn’t stir. Probably, the fatigue finally caught up with him, or… maybe he drank a cocktail, in which case he’ll be comatose. I think I’ll go to the restroom before the plane takes off. “Be back in a minute.”

I carefully unclasp my seat belt and try to skitter by him without disturbing him. As I walk past the rows on either side, I glance at the tendrils of ear plugs reaching upward like small sun- seeking plants, and the hand-held devices, passengers attached to them like farmers admiring prized vegetables pulled from the fields.

As I reach the door, the occupied sign forces me to pause and begin to turn around. Suddenly, I hear the click of the door unlocking.

What luck! I’ll just dash in and dash out. Hopefully, I won’t have to hold my breath to stay in there. My face twists in repulsion at the thought. A haggard looking middle-aged man with a large paunch emerges and smiles too brightly at me.

That look—that look of recognition like I’m a favorite relative, but I’m not. His lids half close as he squeezes past me taking his slow sweet time. And he looks back at me before he stumbles down the aisle way.

 

About the Book Interview with  Kelly K. Lavender

What was the inspiration behind this story?

The inspiration for this story is a Russian international adoption that created our three-person family. Aside from our time spent in Russia, my father’s work in Russia dates back to the Communist era and continues today. He has always shared his travel experiences with us.

Please share a few favorite lines or one paragraph.

Having said our good-byes, we hop into the van at 11 pm. As Ivan is about to close the back door, I see a short muscular man leaning on the outer wall of the restaurant. The outside light fixture clearly defines his silhouette. He contentedly smokes a cigarette. When he turns to look at us, his eyes lock-in. The smile on his face grows as he drags on his cigarette several times and spits on the concrete. After the van door closes, I smudge the window to see him again. I see everything I need to see. I see a ponytail and a knife attached to his boot.

How long did it take you to write this book?

This book was a work-in-process for a while. Originally, it began as a diary then evolved into a memoir. When someone told me that it wouldn’t sell as a memoir because of my non-celebrity status, I decided to create a novel. Of course, editing consumed a couple of months too.

If your book was made into a movie, who would you like to play the lead characters?

Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper

How did you come up with the title?

Actually, the title appears in a line from the book. The title encapsulates everything: Beautiful refers to the purity of the journey’s purpose, Evil alludes to the danger and Winter signifies the harsh unforgiving environment in Russia.

Tell us about your cover art and how it pertains to your story.

Damon Za amazed me with this cover. He managed to include many elements in a provocative cover—the Russian Flag, a thriller aspect, and a very vulnerable family in an isolated place. It makes me shiver to look at it.

Of all the books out there, why should readers choose this one?

Beautiful Evil Winter warrants a look because it earned a bouquet of book awards, including 2 international awards and because of its captivating plot. Eric Hoffer Book Awards honored Beautiful Evil Winter for “…writing of significant merit…” Also noteworthy, Readers’ Favorite International Book Awards shortlisted my novel as a Triple Genre Finalist—Suspense, Thriller and Romance Sizzle genres. Eventually, Beautiful Evil Winter joined the Winners’ Circle in the Suspense category. Contestants vying for the Readers’ Favorite International Book Awards include New York Times Best Selling Authors and celebrities like comedian Jim Carey, a Children’s book author.

 

About the Author:

Kelly-Lavender My fascination with fiction began in middle school when I entered a book-reading contest and won. As an ardent fan of the resonating narrative and the cliffhanger, I decided to dedicate myself to becoming a skilled writer. When college professors spotlighted my writing in the classroom, it anchored my interest in becoming a novelist. I continued to pursue my education at UCLA, via the UCLA Writers’ Extension Program, where my writing earned praise from an award-winning author. Of equal and enduring importance, in my life, is a passion for horses. As an avid, lifelong equestrian and horse owner,I now live on a ranch with my family,which we share with a menagerie of four-legged friends. Beautiful Evil Winter is my debut novel.

Facebook / Twitter / Goodreads / Website

 

Giveaway Details:

There is a tour wide giveaway. Prizes include the following:

• Winner’s choice of an Amazon or Barnes and Noble $50 Gift Card.

Giveaway is International.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

JGBS Logo

New Release: TRIPTYCHS – Stories and Poems Inspired by Photographs

Triptychs Front

There are three sides to every story.

Take a mental image,
Divide it three ways,
You’ll read all the angles
in…

Triptychs

Published: March 16, 2015

Amazon / Amazon UK

 

Table of Contents

TRIPTYCH I

Photo by Helle Gade

Stories:

  1. We Came From The Ocean by Jason McIntyre
  2. A Storm Is Coming by J. Michael Radcliffe
  3. The Easygoing Widower by Geoffrey David West

TRIPTYCH II

Photo by Martin David Porter

Stories:

  1. #666 by Julie Elizabeth Powell
  2. All Questions Answered by Jay Finn
  3. A Kiss At Sunset by J. Michael Radcliffe

TRIPTYCH III

Photo by Helle Gade

Stories/Poem:

  1. Last Call by Eden Baylee
  2. Think Green by Ben Ditmars
  3. Pointless Story by Darcia Helle

TRIPTYCH IV

Photo by Martin David Porter

Stories/Poem:

  1. May Twenty-Fourth by Lisette Brodey
  2. Destiny by Helle Gade
  3. Getting Away From It All by Geoffrey David West

TRIPTYCH V

Photo by Helle Gade

Stories:

  1. Cloud Animals by Marc Nash
  2. I Wish… by Lisette Brodey
  3. The Last Dawn by Jay Finn

TRIPTYCH VI

Photo by Martin David Porter

Stories:

  1. Swans by Eden Baylee
  2. Water Fugue In C-Minor by Marc Nash
  3. All Things Being Equal by Jason McIntyre

TRIPTYCH VII

Photo by Helle Gade

Stories:

  1. Glimmer Siluridae by Maria Savva
  2. Beyond The Eyes by Julie Elizabeth Powell
  3. Fairies Wear Boots by Darcia Helle

TRIPTYCH VIII

Photo by Martin David Porter

Story/Poems:

  1. Dry Dock by Ben Ditmars
  2. Lost In You by Maria Savva
  3. Meetings in the Night by Helle Gade

 

This is the third book in the Mind’s Eye Series. Each is a separate and distinct collection of stories and poems inspired by photographs. This collection is a little different than the first two. Rather than each photo inspiring one author and one story, this time we gave the same photo to three  authors for three unique stories or poems. I was fascinated to read the various viewpoints. There are indeed three sides to every story, and three stories for every image.

Take a look at the photograph before each set of three stories. What do you see?

 

Triptychs was released today, March 16th, on Kindle! The print book will be available soon.

 

Thanks for reading. :)

Book Review: THE STOLEN ONES by Owen Laukkanen

The Stolen Ones

When you’ve got nothing left, you’ve got nothing left to lose.

Cass County, Minnesota: A sheriff’s deputy steps out of a diner on a rainy summer evening, and a few minutes later, he’s lying dead in the mud. When BCA agent Kirk Stevens arrives on the scene, he discovers local authorities have taken into custody a single suspect: A hysterical young woman found sitting by the body, holding the deputy’s own gun. She has no ID, speaks no English. A mystery woman.

The mystery only deepens from there, as Stevens and Carla Windermere, his partner in the new joint BCA–FBI violent crime task force, find themselves on the trail of a massive international kidnapping and prostitution operation. Before the two agents are done, they will have traveled over half the country, from Montana to New York, and come face-to-face not only with the most vicious man either of them has ever encountered—but two of the most courageous women.

They are sisters, stolen ones. But just because you’re a victim doesn’t mean you have to stay one.

Published: March 17, 2015

Amazon / Amazon UK / Barnes and Noble

 

My Review:

This book is largely a fast-paced police procedural, with some aspects of a thriller. While part of an ongoing series, it can easily be read as a stand-alone.

“The box,” she said. It was barely a whisper. It was capitulation. “My sister is inside the box.”

I found the plot intense and compelling. The author spotlights the real life horrors of human trafficking, which is an issue in desperate need of attention. The chapters are short, the pace quick. We’re given a variety of viewpoint characters. Laukkanen handles this well, keeping things clear so it never felt confusing.

Somewhere, there were men who’d stolen these girls, sold them. Somewhere, there were men who would buy them.

As far as characters, my thoughts are mixed. I like Stevens, whose struggles in balancing work and family feel realistic. I dislike Windermere, who is crass, often mean, intolerant, and yet men seem to fall at her feet. Some of the other characters here lacked that special something I can’t quite put my finger on. I sympathized with the women’s plight, but I didn’t connect with them enough to really feel the emotional pain. The bad guys were mostly handled well, though I did have some issues with how things played out with The Dragon. I can’t give details without also giving spoilers, so I’ll just say that the way his part wrapped up toward the end didn’t feel believable.

Despite what I felt were the flaws, this story absolutely held my attention throughout.

 

Thanks for reading. :)