Wednesday, 29 January 2014

The Jonas Trust Deception by A.F.N. Clarke @AFNClarke

The Jonas Trust Deception

by AFN Clarke

AFN CLARKE is the author of 8 books, including the best selling memoir CONTACT, that was serialized in a British newspaper and made into an award winning BBCTV film.  His latest novel, The Jonas Trust Deception, is a Thomas Gunn thriller and follows the success of The Orange Moon Affair.  Readers have called it “classy, complex and cunningly compelling” and a “powerful force in the thriller genre”.  In solving the mystery of an ongoing conspiracy involving his old friend Morgan, Thomas Gunn, ex-Special Forces, takes an action so shocking and bold, that even his team fear he’s lost his mind.  The question is, has he?  To get a taste of things to come, here’s an excerpt from the book.  And for more information visit or the Amazon Kindle store.

There is something so totally desolate about sitting in a prison cell staring at the blank grey walls that, unless you’ve experienced it, you’ll never understand. There is a finality and hopelessness that is almost beyond comprehension. A despair that sucks at your soul. My salvation was that I knew that my stay here was going to be short-lived, but what the future held was one big question mark. I had the distinct feeling somebody had put a ring in my nose and was leading on a mystery tour with more questions than answers.

Left alone with just the usual sounds of dissatisfied inmates, clinking keys and slamming doors for company, I thought back to the frantic last few days.

Confusion would be an apt description of my state of mind.

What facts could I scramble together?

Several dead bodies at Morgan’s ranch.

A small but ruthless Mexican Mafia gangbanger, with the unlikely nickname of ‘El Cobra Poco’, who seemed as if he could be a strange ally.

And the mysterious Robert Sutherland.

What other questions remained?

There were many, starting with who would have wanted to kill Morgan? Everything went back to my request for her to investigate the financial dealings of the Griffin Trust and its Chairman Ted Lieberman.

How was the Mexican Mafia involved if what Sutherland said about Morgan working for him was true?

I could just lie here all night long and create imaginary scenarios, but that wouldn’t supply any answers, so I closed my eyes and concentrated on emptying my mind.

Sleep was what I needed.
It must have been two hours after the jail cell lights went out, that the goons came for me. Dragged me off the bed and frog marched me down the corridor to the back of the jail and down narrow stairs to a basement garage without saying a word. There was a nondescript cream coloured painter’s van waiting with the rear doors open, and I was unceremoniously bundled inside.


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Genre – Thriller

Rating – PG-13

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Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Beyond Neanderthal by Brian Bloom @BrianB_Aust

From Chapter 12 – Visit to a Blue Amber Mine

As Tara alighted from the vehicle, she found herself facing a ghostly white haze of wispy, low-lying clouds that hung as if suspended in time above the undulating hilltops. The peaks rose from the variegated emerald and olive valley below and stretched into the distance amid a virginal mixture of lush equatorial undergrowth. She drew a deep, involuntary breath.

‘Wow!’ There were no other words to describe the feeling of awe-inspired privilege that washed over her. The vista was about as far removed from Central Park as a New York city skyscraper was from the little pastel coloured huts lining the Carretera Turística.

Aurelio smiled. Intuitively, he seemed to understand that the most appropriate response to this magnificent sight was silence. It was a full two minutes before Tara gathered her thoughts.

‘Let’s get going,’ she said.

They made their way carefully—gingerly climbing over dead logs, negotiating their way around rocky outcrops, and grabbing onto available plant life to steady themselves as they walked and stumbled their way towards the valley below. On either side of the track, a mixture of tall, fronded plants grew in an array of shapes and sizes beside stunted and gnarled old trees with deep green foliage. Tara thought of the trees like friendly bystanders, their leafy branches protectively shading Aurelio and her from much of the glaring sunshine above. They came across a trickling stream, which they followed for a while; Tara ever mindful and vigilant, watching for any sign of wildlife in the undergrowth. Except for the background humming of insects, the occasional noisy squawking of a flock of parrots flying past overhead and, once, the silent imprint of a shoe sole on the muddy banks of the stream, they seemed to be alone.

Then, in a clearing, they came across a group of young men standing seemingly relaxed and chatting. A few feet away, under a lean-to made of branches and palm fronds, one of them squatted while cooking something on a small paraffin or gas stove. Aurelio and Tara had arrived at the mine.

Again, there was a short conversation in Spanish. Again, there was a wrinkling of noses followed by broad smiles of understanding and agreement. There were also some side comments and laughter amongst the men. The word ‘gringa’—foreigner from America—came up a couple of times. Tara thought she also heard the words ‘bonita’, and ‘sexual’, but she couldn’t be sure. She decided to keep a slight distance for the time being. They were in the middle of nowhere, miles from the nearest civilization.

Aurelio walked back towards her. ‘They will be happy to show you around, but we should remember our time limitations. We cannot spend more that half an hour here if we are to return to Santo Domingo before dark.’

‘Are you trying to protect me from these guys?’ she asked with a smile. Aurelio looked embarrassed.

‘What’s he cooking?’ she asked to change the subject. ‘It smells great.’

‘That is called arroz con abichuelas, a mixture of rice and beans. He is probably cooking some small pieces of beef with it, but it could be any meat.’

‘Can one buy that in a restaurant in Santo Domingo?’

‘Of course, but not exactly the same. This is a local dish for locals. To sell food like this to tourists would be like offering leftovers to your guests. It would not be right. In the restaurants it is much more carefully presented and is usually served with salads.’

The word ‘dignity’ popped into Tara’s mind. Aurelio seemed to have it, and that was what she had seen on the faces of the fruit vendor and the amber polisher and, now, even the miners as she approached them. Other than their initial jocularity, they seemed to consider her as their guest and themselves as hosts who happily welcomed visitors into their world. The men were just being men.

As they approached the entrance to the mine, a happy looking miner wearing a backward facing baseball cap sat with a short-handled pick in one hand, a lump of soft rock in the other.

Hola, señorita,’ he said, grinning broadly.

She smiled back at him, lifted her hand in greeting, but continued to follow Aurelio to the mine entrance. It was like standing at the entrance to the burrow of a large animal.

Beyond Neanderthal

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Genre – Thriller

Rating – MA (15+)

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Monday, 27 January 2014

The Forgotten Child by Lorhainne Eckhart @LEckhart

“Please sit down, Emily.” He extended out the flat of his hand, very much in control.

“Ah, thank you.” She perched on the edge of the soft leather seat across from a man who was too damn good to look at—a man obviously comfortable in his own skin.

Hardness set his jaw as he studied her. The tick of the wall clock seemed to echo in the silence, and Emily squirmed in her seat. Why was he looking at her like that? Maybe it was her outrageous entrance and he was wondering what kind of kook she was, whether he could entrust her with his child. Yes, that had to be it.

She swallowed hard. “I’m Emily Nelson; I talked to you yesterday on the phone about the job.”

He blinked before closing those exquisite eyes, as if he’d forgotten the reason she was here. When he opened them again, his hard judgmental expression seemed to have softened a bit.

Again he extended his large hand, taking hers in a firm grip. Just the touch of his solid calloused hand and the secure squeeze was enough to teeter her nerves back to that awkward woman at the door. She wondered what it would be like to have a man like this run his hands over you. She snatched her hand back before her face burned any brighter. Finally, he introduced himself. “The name’s Brad Friessen.” Emily kept quiet. He didn’t run on with his words. He must be a deep thinker, a doer. She could relate to that… but not to him. Her sly eyes glanced down at his left hand: no gold band, no white line, no wife or significant other. Or maybe he was one of those arrogant guys who wouldn’t wear a ring, a lady’s man. He had the looks and the attitude. Now was the time to ask about the woman who answered the phone when she called. Who was she?

“This is a working ranch I run, and I need a woman to look after my son. I’m old fashioned in my values. Children should be at home, not stuck in daycare. I’m looking for someone who’s comfortable in a kitchen and looking after children: a role that should come natural to a woman. I don’t want someone who’s got the phone stuck to their ear half the day. It’s a decent job and good pay; $500 a week, room and board, and includes all your meals.”

Her heart sank about the same time the bottom dropped out of her stomach. It was too good to be true. She wanted to cry. “But I… I have a little girl, I didn’t realize–”

His face hardened and he looked away. For some reason he was angry with her… no, furious. Emily didn’t know what to say when he let out a heavy sigh. He closed his eyes, rubbing his hand over the light brown shadow that appeared over his jaw. Then he faced her again, with those deep brown eyes now turned to steel. Emily saw that he could be a hard man.

Lorhainne Eckhart

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Genre – Contemporary Western Romance

Rating – PG

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Sunday, 26 January 2014

How the English Establishment Framed Stephen Ward by Caroline Kennedy @StephenWardBook

FBI director, J.Edgar Hoover, was convinced that British society was riddled with whores, pimps, sex maniacs and Soviet agents. His conviction was given a boost on Sunday, 16th June, when an article by British solicitor, Michael Eddowes, appeared in the Journal-American. In it Eddowes told of his meeting with Yevgeny Ivanov during the Cuban missile crisis. Eddowes described Ivanov as highly aggressive and full of blustering threats to wipe out England and to drop an atomic bomb in the sea 60 miles off New York. According to Eddowes, Hoover immediately ‘instructed’ him to make further enquiries into the security aspects and report back to him.
Washington was now buzzing with as many rumours as had swept London during the height of the scandal, so what happened next was not entirely a surprise. The White House became involved. The most likely explanation for President Kennedy’s sudden interest in the affair is that his brother, Attorney-General Robert Kennedy, told him of the long report from Hoover.
There were then both political and personal reasons for the President’s interest. One was that the scandal could provide Kennedy’s opponents in Congress with ammunition to attack his plans for a multi-nation NATO nuclear force. If Britain was so leaky, why should the US share it’s defence secrets? Another was a call in the Washington News for Kennedy to cancel his scheduled visit to London because it would provide moral support for the foundering Government of Harold Macmillan. ‘We can think of no better time for an American President to stay as far as possible away from England.’
And a third reason, a personal one, was that given Hoover’s animosity for the Kennedy family, the President became concerned that Hoover would somehow use the scandal against him….The only feasible reason for this widespread fascination is that all these people feared that the President of the United States was about to be dragged into the scandal, not on a political level, but on a sexual one…..The reason was that Robert Kennedy was worried that Christine or Mandy, or even both girls, might have slept with the President during their recent visit to the United States and he needed to know for certain so that he could protect the President from the scandal that would follow if the girls blabbed. It would have been simpler for Robert Kennedy to ask his brother if he had slept with either of the girls. But, as we now know, John F. Kennedy’s sexual appetite was so prodigious and so indiscriminate that he would not have been able to remember.
How The English Establishment Framed
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Genre – Politics, Espionage, Scandal
Rating – PG-16
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Sunspots by Karen S. Bell @KarenSueBell

* * *

As I lie in bed with these thoughts, I finally notice that Marina has quietly come back into my room and is sitting in the armchair watching me. She offers me some more medicine and I shake my head, “no.” I don’t want to sleep, and I don’t want to be awake. There is no comfort in anything. She says, “Come. We’ll have a nice cup of tea.” And I follow her downstairs and into the kitchen, zombie-like. I watch her with dull eyes that do not see her movements as she opens cupboards and finds a teapot, cups, and tea bags. I listen with deaf ears to her hum a Russian tune. I sit patiently with no patience sipping the tea I cannot taste. In silence, we sit. In silence, we speak without speaking. Marina’s life force wills me to feel her love.

And then she tells me her plan. “Maybe, I’ll stay with you awhile. Nothing back in Brooklyn right now.” I answer, mouthing words that I want to feel and yet cannot feel because I have closed myself off to the emotions of life, “Oh yes, please stay, Marina. I couldn’t bear all this alone.” I’m overwhelmed by her generosity, my loss, and the hidden truths lurking under the surface waiting to be revealed. Then the cordoned off person inside me breaks through all my controls again and unwonted tears erupt in a torrent of suppressed anguish. I am enveloped in her arms and her soothing voice whispers calming words as I try to regain the safety of stoicism.

Marina and I, sisters of a sort, sit together in my huge kitchen, in my huge house, sharing the huge hole in my heart as my tears pour down my face, flowing as if someone has turned on a spigot. Two small souls in a too-big kitchen of a too-big house silently wondering about the business problems of which his lawyer spoke using carefully chosen words somberly executed while his eyes burned with deep meaning. Problems that would have to be sorted out after I finished sitting “Shivah.” How can one cope with all of this? When will I wake up from this nightmare?

Eventually, it is dawn and I must sit on the wooden bench that signifies my mourning as memories cloud the present and I relive a life that is no more.


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Genre – Contemporary romance, Magical Realism

Rating – PG-13

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Saturday, 25 January 2014

Absolution (The #Vampire Alliance) by Angela Louise McGurk @Angela_McGurk #PNR #AmReading


Eve Blakethorn can barely remember what it was like to be unaware of the vampire world around her. Many years have passed since she met the stranger, the man who saved her life, gave her the world and promised her immortality. Unfortunately for Eve someone in power had not wanted her to have the world. Within days of her marriage her life is shattered. Everyone Eve cares for, vampire and human, is taken from her and she is left alone to fend for herself in a world she neither understands nor fits into.

How can she hope to survive her dark and lonely existence while still plagued by the horrors she witnessed when her husband died? How can she avoid becoming prey to the monster who stalks her footsteps, the devil she has long suspected to be the one who brought about her husband’s downfall?
Desperation drives her every move, leading her into the darkness where monsters wait. Can Eve discover the truth about how her world came to crumble and who was really responsible? Is there another stranger out there capable of bringing her some sense of peace? And just what is the vampire government, The Senate, hiding in the dark tunnels under the city?

Praise for Absolution*: 
“I enjoyed every chapter haven't stayed up so late for a book in so long I just couldn't put my phone down. Great book.”

“Wow! It's a nice change to read something in the vampire category with a more mature storyline. Your story was interesting and had me captivated from the beginning until the end. It was beautifully written, and falling in love with with the characters was easy. Great job absolutely loved it!”

“I have thoroughly enjoyed this book! I think this has been one of the most original, mature vampire stories I have ever read... The lives of your vampires are fully realised, their abilities are believable, and the twists in your story are sublime.”

*All comments are from readers.

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Genre - Urban Fantasy, Paranormal Romance
Rating – R
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7 Questions with #Fantasy #Author C.D. Verhoff (Promised Land: A Galatia Novel)

1.  C. D. Verhoff – why do you use initials instead of your given name?
It fits easier on a book cover. Outside of writing, I usually go by Deanna, my middle name.
2.  Tell us a bit about your family, Deanna.
I grew up in a working class Catholic family from Fort Wayne, Indiana. I was the fourth of five sisters (no brothers). My mom was a file clerk and self-taught artist of local renown. My dad worked at a tire plant. He had a tough exterior. All the neighborhood kids were scared of him because he yelled a lot, but he was a good father.
As a child, money was tight, but I never lacked for necessities. I fantasized about having less sisters and more Christmas presents. Now that I’m older, I realize that my siblings are best gifts my parents ever gave me. Even though we live hundreds of miles away from each other, they are my best friends in the world.
Unfortunately, only one of my sisters is open to fantasy and science fiction. It’s definitely not her first choice though. She hasn’t even watched any of the Star Wars movies. Can you imagine? My other sisters are into romance novels. They used to devour Danielle Steel and Nora Roberts paperbacks like candy. I try to be respectful of their reading tastes, but I’m not above bugging them to beta read for me.
Enough about them. Let’s move onto how I met my husband. I’ll start by saying I wasn’t looking for one. Since grade school, I was determined to stay single. When asked why, I’d explain that I had never seen a marriage I’d want to be in. Then I met this one guy. He talked too much, wore his pants too high, raised chickens for a hobby, had zero housekeeping skills, went to Mass every Sunday and my resolve flew out the window (I will testify in court that love isn’t rational). My friends said he wasn’t my type, but we hit it off. It was a whirlwind romance and a year later we were married. My husband has only read one book since I’ve known him...and it wasn’t one of mine. I suppose I wouldn’t want him to bring an inmate home for me to babysit (he’s a prison guard), so we’ll call it even. We have a daughter and a son (in that order).
Moving onto my favorite subject—my babies. Well, they’re adolescents now, but a part of me will always think of them that way. Until I became a mother, I didn’t understand the meaning of unconditional love. It’s fierce, protective, incredibly painful at times and wonderful. Being a mom is my calling. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
3.  How do you work through self-doubts and fear? 
I’m still working through the self-doubts and fear, so I’m not sure how to answer this one. My approach might be overly simplistic. I acknowledge my feelings, but I don’t dwell on them. My internal pep talk goes like this:
Don’t worry about stupid shit. Just keep your eyes on the goal and write the damn book.
4.  What makes you happiest? 
Spending time with loved ones, Christmas, warm chocolate chip cookies, a clean house, alone-time to work on story, French vanilla cappuccino, the sound of summer rain against the roof, the first snow fall, autumn leaves, the crackle of a fire in the hearth, cozying with the kids on the couch to watch a movie, a good book, those rare moments in prayer when I feel God’s presence, walking through an old cemetery, making a book sale, getting a good book review, finding a ten dollar bill left in my coat pocket from last winter, reminiscing about younger days with old friends, enjoying a good meal that I didn’t have to make myself.
5.  Why do you write? 
I’m addicted. When a scene comes together, it gives me a high. When I’m forced to stay away from my computer too long, I get jittery until I get my daily fix of wordage. The compulsion sometimes interferes with my other responsibilities—housework, social life, and even my health. Writing is my blue meth, I guess.
6.  What writing are you most proud of?
Glory Alley and the Star Riders. I wrote the skeleton of the book, from beginning to the end in less than three days. Didn’t eat, didn’t sleep, it was as if the story poured into me from some other realm. I haven’t had the same experience with any of my other books.
7.  Who is your favorite author? 
From a purely entertainment standpoint, I’d have to say Dean Koontz. I like the way he portrays ordinary people in heroic ways. With Dean as the guide, when realistic people get thrust into bizarre situations, it’s always a fun trip. He frequently contrasts the worst of the human condition against the best and the latter usually wins out. I like that kind of optimism.
The last survivors of the human race are riding out nuclear winter in an underground bunker when disaster strikes. Forced to the surface centuries ahead of schedule, what they find blows their minds. Who can explain it? Two social misfits work together to unravel the mystery.

After living in a posh underground shelter his entire life, Lars Steelsun is plunged headfirst into a mind-blowing adventure on the surface of the Earth. As Lars and his displaced bunker mates are led across the grasslands by Mayor Wakeland, a man of questionable sanity who claims to talk with God, they discover a primitive world where human beings are no longer welcome. Even more mystifying is the emergence of new senses and abilities from within. 

Learning to use them has become a priority, but his biggest challenge comes from the vivacious Josie Albright. Her lust for glory is going to get them both into trouble. Sparks fly when her gung ho ways clash with his cautious personality. Can they overcome their differences to find love and a homeland for their people?

May not be suitable for younger readers. 
Contains mild profanity, sexual situations (infrequent), and violence. 

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Genre - Epic Fantasy
Rating – R
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N.S. Wikarski's Pet Peeves of the #Publishing Industry #AmReading #AmWriting

Pet Peeves Of The Publishing Industry 
by NS Wikarski 
Everybody knows that one of the chief benefits of hitting yourself over the head with a hammer is that it feels so good when you stop.
The hammer analogy aptly describes my experience with traditional publishing (aka legacy publishing). My first two books were published conventionally and I suffered through all the usual steps of producing a trade paperback. Editor, proof reader, formatter, cover artist, printer, distributor, publicist, book signings, fan conventions. I learned an enormous amount about the book business but, unfortunately, all the effort expended didn’t translate into much net income.
Then came Kindle ebooks and Createspace print on demand paperbacks. At first, I was hesitant to go the digital route but an author friend pointed out that since I still controlled the rights to my work, I might as well make a few pennies by selling electronic copies of what I’d written. Fortunately, my previous work experience included a few decades as a computer consultant so I was quite comfortable with formatting my own manuscripts. Given how many years I’d spent designing graphic user interfaces, I was equally comfortable with designing my own covers.
The distance from writing a novel to seeing it sold online was shortened by a couple of years. The markets that I could reach via Kindle and Createspace were global, not local. I could promote my work via cyberspace tours rather than packing a suitcase to head to yet another low turnout book signing.
Considering the months and months of work it took to create, warehouse, distribute, and market the legacy print copies, I was staggered to discover that my net royalty for each ebook or print on demand copy was exactly the same as what I was netting for the legacy print version of the same book. Best of all, in two years as a digital author, I’ve sold twice as many copies of my work as I was able to sell in nine years as a print author.
In my opinion, digital books are every writer’s dream come true. So why isn’t everybody doing this? I’ve had this conversation with several of my writer friends who are hesitant to take the plunge. For some it comes down to technical timidity. They’re afraid to format their own books much less tackle the daunting task of designing the covers. I have pointed out that they can hire knowledgeable people to help with these chores but they shrug their shoulders. They have no head for business. It’s not for them.
Other writers are extremely uncomfortable without the blessing of an agent and editor from a big six publishing house. It doesn’t occur to them that in order to receive that blessing, they are parting with their own intellectual property and the lion’s share of the income it could generate. These writers have forgotten that without the content they supply, the entire structure of legacy publishing would crumble like a house of cards. I believe the marketplace, not an agent or editor in New York, should decide the value of a writer’s work. Amazon has removed the middleman from the equation. As far as I’m concerned, Vive La Difference!

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Genre - Alternative History Fiction
Rating – PG
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Thursday, 23 January 2014

#Free #NonFiction Showtime at the Apollo by Ted Fox @Kindleexpert

Showtime at the Apollo is the definitive history of Harlem’s world-famous showplace. Home to nearly every great black star including: James Brown, Aretha Franklin, Richard Pryor, Gladys Knight, Michael Jackson, Ray Charles, Redd Foxx, Dizzy Gillespie, Count Basie, Sarah Vaughn and “Bojangles” Robinson, – the theater still hosts contemporary luminaries like The Roots, Mary J. Blige, Chris Rock, Wynton Marsalis and Whoopi Goldberg. Numerous performers relate their own poignant, exciting and sometimes hilarious stories. Some 150 photographs – many never before published – are interspersed throughout.

For African-Americans, the Apollo was the greatest black theater, and a special place to come of age. For whites – including Elvis Presley and the Beatles – the Apollo was as close as they could come to the reality of the black experience.

Still thriving, the Apollo has exerted an unprecedented influence upon popular culture. Since 1934, the Apollo has been at the forefront of African-American music, dance and comedy. It’s legendary Amateur Night spawned countless stars. Renowned for having the world’s toughest and most appreciative audience, it is the place where, as Dionne Warwick says in the book,

“Everyone gave their best performance".

"The essential book, mandatory for the most casual student as well as the most ardent fan." – David Hinckley, Daily News

"Ted Fox made the Apollo come alive for me again."– Jerry Wexler, co-founder of Atlantic Records

"Ted Fox mows through the 20th century's mind blowing cavalcade of segregation byproduct, inhumanity producing creative transcendence. The survivors of the era provide Fox with a front-line document." - Raoul Hernandez, Austin Chronicle

"A wonderful book." – Tavis Smiley, National Public Radio

"I could almost feel and taste the Apollo again." – Doc Pomus, classic songwriter

"The definitive history of Harlem’s (and black America’s) essential theater." – New York Magazine

"Showtime at the Apollo is not only a history of that wonderful theatre, but also a fascinating insider’s view of the Harlem music scene." – John Hammond, legendary producer and talent scout

TED FOX is also the author of In The Groove a collection of interviews with men who have shaped the music industry. He produces and manages Grammy-winner Buckwheat Zydeco and lives in upstate New York.

Showtime at the Apollo by Ted Fox
Rating – PG
Genre – Music History & Criticism
4.8 (7 reviews)
Free until 24 January 2014

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

7 Questions with #Author Lauren Linwood @laurenlinwood #Romance #MustRead

1. *Can you tell us about your main character? My hero Jed was raised by a midwife after his mother died in labor, but what he doesn’t know is that a baby was born just minutes before him and taken away by his father. He’s a Civil War veteran and now a gambler who’s made his way to San Francisco, a very cosmopolitan city back in 1870. My heroine Lily is the daughter of the most famous whorehouse owner in the city, and she’s been kept isolated away from that life, first with a governess and then attending boarding school back east. 
2. *How did you develop your plot and characters? I’ve read quite a bit about the California Gold Rush and the American West after the Civil War. I wanted to create a story that combined aspects of both eras. Once a storyline started developing, it was easy to add characters that fit it.
3. *What was the hardest part about writing this book? I think in writing historical novels, the toughest part is getting those historical details right. I researched San Francisco in the 1870s, learning about its gaming halls, restaurants, and places of interest. I try to weave historical fact into my narrative to give it that air of verisimilitude. History and the setting can often prove to be a powerful tool and even a character itself in my historical romances.
4. *Will you write others in this same genre? I love the American West after the Civil War. I’ve written a previous western historical romance, Outlaw Muse, and I have another coming later in 2014 entitled A Change of Plans. I think I have several more western historicals still to write, probably in different eras. My debut novel, Music For My Soul, takes place in medieval times. I’d like to return to that portion of history and try my hand at something new that takes place then.
5. *How important do you think villains are in a story? Villains are a key aspect in a romance. Of course, every villain is the hero of his own story in his mind! A villain needs to be fully formed and not a stereotype. He needs to be as smart as the hero and heroine so that he’s a real threat and challenge to them.
6.  *Have you started another book yet? I’m writing another western historical romance at this moment. It’s about a Pinkerton detective hired to protect an opera diva singing in Colorado and a runaway heiress he gets mixed up with—and falls head over heels in love with.
7. *Do you have any advice for writers? Keep writing your heart out. Don’t write to the market. Write the story you wish, one that you’d like to read yourself. Writing is like anything—the more you do it, the better you get at it. So continue to write whenever you can and as much as you can.

Lily Frontiere returns from a costly European trip to find her mother has accumulated large gambling debts. Things grow worse as her mother’s health deteriorates and she can no longer run Lucky Lil’s, the most famous whorehouse in San Francisco. Though Lilian shielded her only child from house life by sending her away to boarding school, Lily takes over and poses as Madam Lil. Her intelligence and astonishing resemblance to her mother help, but she’s entering a world she knows little about. Lily tries to extract the house from impending financial ruin until a handsome stranger turns up with the deed to Lucky Lil’s in hand.

Gambler Jed Stone journeys to California to track down Simon Morgan, the man responsible for his best friend’s death. Arrested for robbery and murder upon arrival, he is shocked to see his face on a wanted poster. Jed escapes before his hanging, unaware that the man guilty of those crimes is the twin brother he never knew existed. In a case of mistaken identity, Jed acquires Lucky Lil’s in a rigged card game his twin is meant to win. Jed asks Madam Lil to stay on as he learns the business. 

Lily clashes with the new owner over ways to make the establishment profitable, yet she is attracted to the charming risk taker at the same time. Jed is fooled by Lily’s charade until he stumbles upon the real Madam Lil and learns the truth behind Lily’s deception. His admiration for Lily blossoms into love. But Simon Morgan seeks both Lily’s hand and ownership of Lucky Lil’s—and he will go to any means to possess both. Will Jed foil his nemesis while bringing his outlaw brother to justice? 

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Genre - Western Historical Romance
Rating – PG
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Order of the Seers by Cerece Rennie Murphy @CereceRMurphy

Chapter 1: The End

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Liam was losing his patience. “Aw, come on! Are you serious? You can’t want to ride this thing again!”

Instead of answering her older brother, Lilli remained in her seat as the Ferris wheel conductor looked on expectantly, hand outstretched and waiting for another two tokens.

The way Lilli’s skinny arms hugged her book bag while she stared blankly at the pressed metal floor of their “Fairy Land Caboose” made it hard for Liam to stay angry. The sight of her looking so dejected softened him enough to give the conductor his fifth set of tokens in less than 45 minutes. Liam settled back into his seat just as the lap bar clamped down uncomfortably against his thighs.

“Lilli, say something. Why’d you drag me out here if you were just gonna sulk? I hate the carnival, you know that.”

“I know something… okay? Just… trust me. We have to stay here.” Her voice was so low he could barely hear her over the wind-up music that was blaring from the overhead speakers.

“Did Mom say something to you?”

Lilli responded to his question with silence and a barely discernable shake of her head back and forth. He tried again.

“Lilli! Did Mom…?”

“Yes,” she snapped.

They both fell silent again as Liam took in the latest weird thing of the day. Lilith Knight, or Lilli as she preferred to be called, had always been strange. Even when she was five, she could beat Liam at chess lazily, without even thinking about it. She would find things and give them to you before you asked for them. Before you, or even she, knew why. Up until recently, he thought she was just a freak. No biggie. All little sisters are like that, he told himself.

It was only in the past few months that his perception of her began to shift, after her prediction that he would catch his new girlfriend, Krista, kissing his teammate Lance in the locker room after their championship game. At the time, he’d brushed off her premonition as meddling. Krista wasn’t even his girlfriend and his team was 1-1 with the whole basketball season ahead of them.

He’d forgotten her warning completely until two months later when he ran back into the locker room after winning the championship to get the jacket he’d left behind and immediately smelled Krista’s perfume. When he found them, two thoughts overshadowed the scene unfolding in front of him. The first was that what they were doing wasn’t really “kissing,” though he could see how a sheltered thirteen-year-old would describe it that way. His second thought was that Lilli was right; she was exactly right. He was so stunned by Lilli’s accuracy that he didn’t even bother to disturb them, leaving his new ex-girlfriend and her new boyfriend to their business. From that moment, Liam understood that Lilli wasn’t just a freak, or more accurately, that she wasn’t a freak at all. She was special…gifted.

The sound of Lilli’s sniffling followed by the trembling of her body as she began to cry uncontrollably broke the long silence that had fallen between them. What the…, Liam half-mumbled as his mind swung from irritation to absolute bewilderment. Slowly and deliberately, Liam moved his palms down the front of his face as he fought the urge to shake the truth right out of her and end whatever this was. But he couldn’t. She’s so brittle already, he thought, without any idea as to why. So instead, he reached out to envelop his sister in his arms, trying to soothe her and comfort her from some unknown force.

“Lilli, it’s all right. I’m sorry, okay? Don’t cry. Just… tell me what’s going on. Why are we here?”

He tried to wait patiently, to rein in the confusion and frustration that had been piercing through the calm day he had planned for himself when he woke up that morning, as cool and carefree as any sixteen-year-old boy. It was Lilli who had dragged him out of the house before he could even wolf down his second bowl of Honeycombs. “Mom said you have to take me to the carnival. NOW!” She had demanded.

He had started to head upstairs to launch his appeal when his eye caught his mother’s note on the refrigerator door. “Take Lilli to the fair. NOW.—Love, Mom,” it read. He knew that meant his mother had left the house early; there was no appeal to be made. Begrudgingly, he slipped on his sneakers and grabbed the car keys, all the while wondering if Lilli was still too young to be left at the fair by herself.

His earlier thoughts of abandonment brought him back to his sister’s form beside him. Not knowing what else to do, Liam simply held her tight as her convulsing turned to trembling, and finally, back to stillness. At the top of the Ferris wheel, she finally spoke.

“It’s over now, we can go home,” she whispered. But as impatient for answers and a reprieve from big brother duties as he was, Liam knew that it was not over. The emotionless tone in her voice scared him. It made him want to stay on the Ferris wheel he’d been begging to get off of a few short minutes ago. As the music died down and their feet got closer to the ground, he suddenly felt conflicting urges to stay where he was and to rush home to his mother. As the ride came to a stop, he suddenly realized with profound certainty that this was much more than one of Lilli’s “episodes.” Something was very, very wrong.

When Liam pulled his father’s green 2002 Saab in front of their small brick house, everything seemed as it always did—quiet and predictable in their modest yet comfortable home. They had lived in a much bigger house before his father died, but Liam never minded sharing a bathroom with his mother and sister. All the toys and trinkets that had mattered to him when he was a child were rendered insignificant the moment his mother told him that his father would never come home again. As he got out of the car and began to take the front steps two at a time, he noticed that Lilli had stopped at the tree stump his mother had cut down the week before. Sitting down, her eyes remained on the ground. Just as his mouth formed the shape of a question, she spoke.

“No, you go. I can’t see it again.”

Liam didn’t stop to ask what she meant. Whatever she meant, he was sure it was worse than he thought. He tried to hold back the swell of fear in his chest as he ran to the front door, but his emotions spun out of control the moment he tested the front door knob and found it opened—easily. They never left the front door unlocked.

When he stepped into the house, he actually felt the life, the person he had been, rush past him and out the door as his eyes took in the overturned, splintered remains of their living room. It was a feeling he’d felt only once before, when his father died. But what made it worse, what made it permanent, was lying in the middle of the floor, with its contents thrown everywhere. It was his mother’s purse, which had not been there when he left that morning.

“Mom!” he shouted as he raced up the stairs to her room. “Mom. Please!” he shouted again, but no one answered. In every room he looked, it was the same - scattered clothes, broken mirrors, and silence—a deafening silence that rang louder than the sound of his own shallow breathing.

If he took the stairs at lightning speed to make it to the second floor, an age could have passed during his descent. The entire house consisted of three bedrooms, one and a half bathrooms, a kitchen, a living room, and a small open dining area that you could see clearly from the front door. As he walked down the steps, he knew there was only one room left to check. His mind was frozen on what to hope for as his hand reached the end of the banister. If she wasn’t in the kitchen, she might have been taken, but at least there was a chance she was still alive. If she was in the kitchen, it was unthinkable.

Lilli’s words came to him just as he rounded the doorway to the kitchen.

No, you go. I can’t see it again.”

He found his mother sitting with her feet planted on the floor, shoulder width apart, bright eyes open and cast to the ceiling, with a hole blown through the middle of her chest.

Liam braced himself against the door frame as he began to sob, the sounds seemingly emanating from a place far away from where he stood. He could not look away from the horrific image before him, the last image of his mother. He stood there with wide-eyed and tear-stained pain as the last measure of his youth drained from him like blood rushing from an open vein. When it was done, his body slid to the ground.

We are alone, he thought. There’s no one left.

Ever since his father had died, Liam lived in fear that one day he would lose her. Unable to tear his eyes away from her body, he could hear her vehemently denying that there would ever be a time when she wasn’t with them. “Never,” she would say.

Never, he thought, has finally come.

Though Liam had been staring at her body since he entered the kitchen, he had not seen the gun in her hand until he noticed a fly land on it. Years of training to keep the gun out of Lilli’s sight made him jump to his feet until he remembered that Lilli was still outside. He knew the gun well; it was his mother’s. She had taught him how to use it and to keep it out of Lilli’s reach when she was small.

At first his mind could not decipher the meaning of the scene before him. Was he meant to believe that she did this to herself? Why would the people who broke into their house ransack the place and then try to make it look like a suicide? But he couldn’t think straight, couldn’t figure out the logic or the answer to any of the crazy questions running through his mind. Why would she kill herself? He was sure the answers were obvious; he just wasn’t making sense. None of this was making any sense.

His confusion caused him to draw closer to her body. Kneeling down beside his mother, Liam took the lifeless hand that dangled at her side, the one that was not holding the gun. Though his eyes were still filled with tears, they were no longer breaking through the barriers of his lower lids. This momentary fortitude allowed him to have the courage to look directly into her face and see her open smile. The sight of it knocked him down and back into the base cabinets. She was smiling. She was smiling, he thought. She had known what was coming, and she was smiling.

Suddenly, he remembered his mother’s constant warning every time they went to the shooting range. “Don’t pick up a gun unless you mean to use it. There can be no hesitation. Do you understand me?” she would ask him sternly. Liam knew Jill Knight was skilled at using a firearm. If she had a chance to draw her gun, no one could take it from her. The implications made him immediately sick and angry before their full meaning could even register.

As if retching the contents of his stomach into the kitchen sink made room for clarity, he suddenly understood the reason behind her smile. She had killed herself. She had done this to herself, on purpose. He threw up again in a wave of protest at the notion that she would abandon them, even as the resentment of her betrayal took root. When he was done, he didn’t want to turn around, didn’t want to face her.

How could she do this? She wouldn’t do this. She promised.

Holding himself up at the sink, his thoughts turned to Lilli. Is this what she saw?, he wondered, fighting a new wave of nausea. No wonder she cried like that. No wonder… Rather than try to sort out the conflict of thoughts and emotions inside him, he decided to check on Lilli and make sure that she remained outside while he tried to figure out what to do next.

As he peered over his shoulder toward the doorway, his eyes caught the folded cuff of his mother’s sweatshirt, which was turquoise save for the blood, and a little corner of white paper that was peeking out. He knew his mother hid things in the cuff of her sleeve all the time; it was one of the many old lady habits Liam enjoyed teasing her about. He stared at the white edge of paper for a long time, warring with his own feelings of anger and grief before simple curiosity forced him to bend down and retrieve it. As his fingers curved around the edge of her sleeve, he could feel something flat and hard inside. When he rolled down her sleeve to get it, the key to his gym locker at school slipped out before he could fully unroll the note. When he did, it unleashed a new avalanche of questions upon heartbreak over questions.

In his mother’s tiny cursive handwriting, the note read, ‘Go now. Protect her.’ Liam felt a new level of understanding peel back in his mind as he read her note again. He began to see the very real possibility that perhaps his mother had not wanted to do this to herself. Perhaps she was forced by the same people who came into their home. The same people who she wanted him to protect Lilli from now. Liam grabbed the key off the floor before rising to meet his mother’s eyes one last time. They looked so different from how they had even two minutes ago and held so much he couldn’t understand, couldn’t handle right now. He closed his eyes and softly kissed her on her forehead before running out of his home for what he knew would be the last time.

Liam closed the front door behind him and turned to find Lilli sitting exactly where he left her twenty minutes before. He had only two objectives at that point - making sure that she was safe, and getting the hell out of there. As Liam scanned the neighborhood for anything suspicious, he took in the studied quiet of his block. There was no one on the street at 11:23 am on a beautiful Sunday morning. Where is everyone, he wondered, suddenly wary of the neighbors with whom he had grown up. How had no one heard the gunshot? Why didn’t anyone call the police?

The tremor in his neighbors’ curtains gave credence to the sensation that they were being watched, but no one would step outside to help them. This realization came over him with a bitterness that cast itself over all the sorrow he held inside. They had all been witnesses, he guessed, but they would no longer be friends.

Watching Liam as he crossed the small front lawn to reach her, Lilli was struck by how much older her brother looked compared to just a few hours ago. Though his straight black hair hung as sloppy and heavy as it always did over his blue-green eyes, there was none of the playful nonchalance that usually characterized her brother’s disposition. His hair was slick, spiked, and jet black with sweat, and it framed the angles of his face in a way that made her easy-going brother look cold and menacing. But it wasn’t a surprise, Lilli could see everything Liam felt on his face—anger, sorrow, betrayal, and a ferocity emerging that she did not understand. Seeing her brother so unlike himself made Lilli’s face crumple in agony as she trembled under the weight of her own choices.

“I’m sorry, Liam,” she begged in between sobs. “I know you’re mad at me for not telling you. Mom told me that if I did, they would kill you. She said I had to be strong enough… strong enough to save you.”

“Shhh, Lilli. It’s all right. We’ll talk about this later. Don’t cry. Shhh.”

Lilli knew Liam meant his response to be soothing, but his words came out cold, devoid of any life or feeling behind them. When she looked up to search his face and understand the hollowness in his voice, she found him scanning the street with the same look of fierceness. Something in the clenched set of his jaw made her finally understand. He was determined, to keep her alive, to protect the only family he had left.

“We need to go,” he said, as he led her to the car.


“I don’t know, Lilli. I don’t know.”

Order of the Seers

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Genre – Science Fiction

Rating – NC-17

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7 Questions with #Author Kenneth Eade (The Involuntary Spy) #Thriller

1. Who is your favorite author?
I like the classic authors like Oscar Wilde, Charles Dickens, Ray Bradbury and John Steinbeck.  They have written books that never disappear from a modern reader’s library because the books are so good.  My favorite contemporary author is Paolo Cohelo, whom I had the honor of meeting several years ago.  He is a genius and his books are philosophical and say a lot about life.
2. What book should everybody read at least once?
“The Believing Brain,” by Michael Shermer.  This book has to be one of the most interesting books I have ever read. The way the brain formulates beliefs is told in a detailed but understandable way by self-confessed skeptic, Michael Shermer. It is interesting to note that how strongly we will fight to self-validate our beliefs, no matter how ridiculous they may be. This is a very good approach to explaining the science behind our brain and how it perceives things, recognizes patterns, forms beliefs and enforces and rationalizes them. It has fascinating explanations of religion, conspiracy theories, and other adamant belief systems and I highly recommend it. The procedures and approaches to beliefs and science in this book helped me to be impartial during the making of some of the most important arguments that I find myself having beliefs about, and grounded me to stick to the scientific principles and studies in my book about the demise of the bees and what we can do to stop bit.
3. Location and life experiences can really influence writing, tell us where you grew up and where you now live?
I grew up in the suburbs of Los Angeles until I was about 8 years old.  Then we moved to Oklahoma City for a year.  After that, my father got a job with an American company working overseas, which I personally think was a front for the CIA because it was a turbulent time for the country and his company was charged with the task of “improving the Greek infrastructure.”  We lived in Athens, Greece for about three years, and that’s where I really grew up.  When we moved back to the states I was 12 and felt like a stranger in my own country.  I had to make all new friends and couldn’t really relate to anyone because of the differences in my upbringing.  I finally made a friend with one person, and that friendship has lasted a lifetime.  I lived in the states until about 2002, when I started going back and forth between California and the south of France, where I live now.  For the past four years, I have been a gypsy, living between the far East of Russia, where I met my wife, Valentina, and the south of France.
4. Where do you get your inspiration from?
I try to write about real life subjects; things that are important to people.  I have a wealth of life experience to draw from; both from my career and my travels.  To find inspiration, I will go on a long walk and think about what is happening in the current chapter I am working on and ideas come to me.
5. What is hardest – getting published, writing or marketing?
Getting published nowadays is easy, because you can do it yourself.  Thanks to the changing nature of the publishing industry, having a publisher is not as important as it used to be.  Writing takes time, but marketing is by far the most difficult task.  Marketing has been changed by the Internet as much as the publishing business, and it is tedious.
6. Is your family supportive? Do your friends support you?
My wife is very supportive.  She reposts all of my social media posts and reads all my books.  We worked together on Bless the Bees  She is a professional photographer and shot many of the images in the book.
7. Do you plan to publish more books?
Yes.  I’m working on a new book called, “Predatory Kill,” which centers around a lawyer who has taken on a client against a major “too big to fail” bank for a wrongful foreclosure case.  The hitch is that the client believes that a bank official murdered her mother and incapacitated her father in order to get their beautiful home in Montecito, and tries to convince the lawyer that it was fraud turned to murder.

The #1 Best Selling Thriller
Get the book that breaks open the GMO controversy

Seth Rogan was a shitty spy. Actually, he wasn't a spy at all. Just a guy trying to do the right thing. As a biologist for the largest biotech company in the world, he had a great job, and thoroughly enjoyed all the perks. But when asked to do some tests on the company's genetically engineered foods, he became entangled in a trail of corruption and fraud that he wanted no part of, but could not escape from. In a story so true to life it could almost be from today's newspapers, Seth, having bit the hand who fed him, is on the run from them, and the full overreaching strength of the United States government as a fugitive, who finds temporary refuge with an old enemy of the U.S. But his peace is about to be broken as he finds himself in the role of an involuntary spy.  

This is a thriller with mystery, suspense, twists and turns and non stop action that will pull you in and captivate you with all the elements you would expect from the genre; spies, CIA, Russians, FBI; but not how you would expect them.  Being centered around the controversial subject of the danger of genetically engineered foods, the book breaks open the controversy.

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Genre - Thriller
Rating – PG
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