Monday, October 31, 2011

The Ninth District by Douglas Dorow-Interview, Giveaway:Featured Author


The Federal Reserve has never been robbed.

FBI Special Agent Jack Miller, pulled into a high-profile case to mentor a new agent, finds himself in a clash with the toughest opponent of his career. The chase culminates in the bowels of the city, in the storm sewers and tunnels beneath The Ninth District Federal Reserve of Minneapolis.

The Ninth District is approximately 74,600 words (300 pages) in length.


“Freeze it!” Staring out from the television was the face of a bank robber, a killer, in a mock salute. “What the hell? Is that who I think it is? Rewind it and play it again.”
“Jack, I’ve watched this ten times and there’s nothing there, nothing but that salute.”
“Rewind it. I want to see it again.” Jack pointed at the flat screen television on the wall and worked his thumb up and down against the imaginary remote in his hand. “Come on, let’s go, Junior. I want to see it again.”
 “It’s Ross.”
Jack glanced back at Ross and then stared at the screen, waiting for him to play it again. “Listen. The SAC asked me to help you. I’m here to help. Let’s watch it again.”
Jack Miller was in no mood for a pissing match with a new agent who had four months in the Minneapolis FBI office after graduating from Quantico. The Special Agent in Charge assigned Jack to help with this case so he could tell the media he had his most experienced agent looking into solving the string of bank robberies, especially the last one that had resulted in a murder.
Ross pointed the remote at the television and the video started again. “These bank videos suck. We’re bringing in video from the other cameras at the bank, the ATM, the highway traffic cameras, and gas stations within a two-mile radius. I know it’s the same guy.”
“OK, so what do we know about him?”
“He’s on a schedule. March, he hit a Wells Fargo branch in Duluth. April, he was at the Stillwater branch. I was looking for a May job and found one in Wisconsin after talking to the Milwaukee field office. This morning, as you see him here, he was at the TCF bank in Wayzata. That’s the June robbery.” Ross paused, inhaled, and audibly exhaled. “And no, that’s not who you think it is. It’s a guy, or a person, wearing a mask that kind of resembles a former Governor of the State of Minnesota.”
“OK, so we know what he’s done, but what do we know about him?”
“We don’t know anything about him other than he’s been robbing banks and wears a mask,” Ross said.
“Let’s call him the Governor. He hasn’t killed anybody before, has he?” Jack asked.
“Nobody has even been hurt, until now.”
“Play the video.” Jack Miller stared at the screen and watched the scene unfold a second time; he rested his chin in his hands, elbows on the table. He looked for details as he watched it again.
When it was over, Jack was talking softly to himself as much as to his new partner. “Why did he kill her?  He hasn’t done that before. There was no reason to kill her. And what’s he asking her that she doesn’t know?” He shifted in his chair, raised his arms, and locked his fingers together behind his head. “Rewind it. Let’s see it again.” 
Jack got up from his chair and paced the room while he continued mumbling to himself. “For the money?” He looked at Ross. “How much has he been getting?”
Ross reflexively patted his pockets for his notebook.
“Junior, just give me a rough idea.”
Ross stared at Jack without answering.
“Agent Fruen?” Jack asked.
Ross nodded and answered. “He’s grabbed between five hundred and five thousand and a couple of laptops.”
Jack returned to his monologue and paced around the table. “So, he’s not getting rich doing this.” He stopped and sat down in his chair. “What’s with the mask? And why’s he robbing these banks? A drug user would still be sleeping.” Jack looked up at the ceiling and raised his voice so Ross could hear him. “Did you check out the casinos or the card room at the Canterbury race track?”
 “That’s one theory for the mask. He doesn’t want us comparing videos. I’m working on it, checking on casinos in the area.”

Enter and Comment for a chance to win a digital copy of the Ninth District. This giveaway is open internationally and will end November 12th. There may be as many as five winners depending on the total number of entries. A new winner will be chosen for every 10 unique entries/comments.   ENTER BELOW


How did you start your writing career?
I've always been a big reader. Mysteries, thrillers, suspense were my genre of choice. In college, I enjoyed the couple of creative writing courses I took, but I majored in engineering. I always dreamed of writing a book and took a couple of courses at The Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis. From there I kept writing and joined a critique group that meets every 2 to 3 weeks which has helped me work on my story telling and the writing craft.

It's been a long road, but with epublishing coming into place last year and gaining acceptance I changed gears from writing query letters to independently publishing my thriller. It's an exciting future for readers and writers. 

Plotter or Pantser? Why?
I'm somewhere in between. I write a short scene outline with the order of events, time the scene takes place, the point of view of the scene and then I write from there. It gives me a rough map of the story I plan to tell, but it leaves me room to explore and learn as I go and change the story to make it the best that I can. 

What was the scariest moment of your life?
There are a couple that rate up there. I think the scariest and the most amazing is the birth of my two children. Everything is out of your hands, you have no control and just hope and pray that it will all turn out OK. 

Another, is when I was an engineer working on a construction project and an iron worker wanted to show me something. We're 20 stories up in the air and he just walks across a beam like he's walking down the sidewalk.  I sat down on the beam, straddled it and slowly worked my way across. 

What would we find under your bed?
Under my bed you would find dust bunnies, some old papers, a box of gift wrapping material and our golden retriever, Rupert. Every night he scootches under the bed to spend the night.  

Where would we find you writing your next book?
I don't write full-time, so I try and squeeze it in.  Besides a day job, I am also my son's chauffeur, so after I drop him off for his sports practice of the season I'll head to a coffee shop, buy myself a coffee, put in my ear buds and listen to music while I work on my story.

What’s next?
I'm working on a sequel to my first book, The Ninth District, which is ala John Sandford or Michael Connelly. It follows the main character and tells the story about what happens the next summer when he's on a family vacation, trying to relax and finds himself pulled into a local issue to solve.  The third book is in the thriller genre, but is the first book in a new domestic thriller more like what you'll find with James Rollins or Steve Berry. 


Douglas Dorow lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the home of many thriller/suspense writers. There must be something in the water or it's the long, cold winters.  

His thriller, The Ninth District, is about a man in a mask who is trying to rob the The Ninth District Federal Reserve which is based in Minneapolis. The Federal Reserve has never been robbed.  FBI Special Agent Jack Miller, pulled into a high-profile case to mentor a new agent, finds himself in a clash with the toughest opponent of his career. The chase culminates in the bowels of the city, in the storm sewers and tunnels beneath The Ninth District Federal Reserve of Minneapolis.

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Saturday, October 29, 2011

Committed by JW Mefford : Sneak Peek Excerpt

COMMITTED (The Michael Doyle Chronicles: Book One)
Author: John W. Mefford
Genre: Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Release date: 11.1.11

Sinful deception. A malicious corporate takeover. A grisly murder. Unrelenting greed.

We all have that inner voice, the one who knows all but refuses to let even our closest confidantes inside. The one we must calm when we’re most unsettled. The one who seeks to understand our path, our destiny.

Michael Doyle lives in emotional anonymity, resistant to fully devote himself to anyone or any cause. Without warning, a technology conglomerate acquires Michael’s company, and he quickly sees through the fog of political posturing: false hope, layoffs, and blatant dishonesty.

Then, death reaches up and grabs him. Shaken to the core, Michael leans on his live-in girlfriend, who has touched his heart like no one else. But her haunting past resurfaces, and she’s pulled into a seedy web by an outside force so cruel, so cunning it destroys every soul in its path.

Can Michael rise above his greatest fear to uncover the truth about a murder and save the life of the person he loves most?

Only if he's...COMMITTED.

On Sale on Amazon and Barnes and Noble November 1, 2011

Buy Links:

Fluorescent lights shined through stained plastic, creating a slight yellow hue in the white walled room. I sat in an ice-cold chair that must have weighed fifty pounds, in front of a square metal table that was bolted to the painted concrete floor. Comfort and style weren’t the objectives in decorating the police department interview room.

A rectangular mirror faced me on the opposite wall. It was probably one of those two-way mirrors to allow someone on the other side to study my every movement. I had nothing to hide, but butterflies fluttered in my stomach like I was preparing to perform in front of a sold-out crowd.

A microphone dangled from the ceiling. It swayed gently from the air blowing out of the filthy vent. I saw cameras placed in two corners of the square room. The thick white door opened and Detective Carl Pearson walked in, followed by another person, also in plain clothes.

“Hey, Carl, does this mean I need to worry about the DVD being sold on the black market?” I pointed at the camera, hoping my humor might reduce the pressure.

Carl gave me a mild smirk and introduced his partner.

“Michael, this is Detective Smith, Roger Smith. He’ll be helping in the investigation.”

“Any relation to the former GM CEO?” Two stern, blank faces stared back. “You know, the guy from the 1980’s who had the documentary made about him, Roger and Me?” I wasn’t sure if they knew or cared GM Roger Smith was an older white guy, while Detective Roger Smith standing before me was African-American. It was all nervous chatter.

“Michael, we’d like for you to begin by recalling any interaction you had with Tiffany, and then any interaction you personally witnessed Tiffany having with anyone else.” Carl seemed natural giving instructions.

I couldn’t provide any specific evidence that would help find the killer, but I did tell them Tiffany was sharper than your average administrative assistant and quite attractive.

“I never found Tiffany very warm, which seemed a bit odd for a receptionist,” I said, offering more opinion than fact. “She seemed emotionally distant. As far I knew she didn’t have many friends. But I sensed the wheels in her mind were always turning. Smart as a whip.”

Then, the detectives asked me to recount every step of the gloomy morning in which I found Tiffany’s arm.

My breathing accelerated as I began to think through the sequence of events. Perspiration formed on the back of my neck. I closed my eyes and felt the cold rain pelting my face as I peered up into the thick, dark sky to locate the gutter leak. I moved slowly to the right…suddenly, it felt like a hand reached up to drag me downward so I wouldn’t miss the plastic bag. It must have been Tiffany’s spirit crying out in desperation.

Once I knew something was in that bag, the weight of it made me wonder if there was a body inside. Then, the bag split open, and Tiffany’s arm slid out. I stared at the blank wall in the interview room while a slide show of pictures projected in my mind. The pale white color of the arm stood out from the darkness of the bag and the surrounding alley. A red line of what appeared to be dried blood scaled up her forearm and disappeared into the bag. Part of me wanted to look in the bag, but my flight instincts took over. I ran away as fast as I could.

I’m still not sure why I screamed for help. How could I believe anyone would still be alive? Tiffany’s arm never showed any signs of life.

Was there life after death? Can a spirit talk to us from the other side of life as we know it? Was it heaven? Was it hell? Or, was there a state in between, where some type of resolution must occur before deciding a person’s ultimate fate? Tiffany’s fate.

I was a mildly religious person, one foot in, one foot out, like many things in my life. I felt certain there was a God, an almighty being who put us on the Earth for a purpose. Beyond that, the path and ultimate destiny beyond death…I wasn’t sure.

My pulse began to slow to a more normal pace. I looked at my watch. Thirty minutes had passed. I’d lost all concept of time as I recounted the details of the day my life changed forever.

Roger turned off the recording device.

“I appreciate you being so thorough,” Carl said calmly, his head down as he finished his notes.

Roger thanked me for coming in. “We’ll let you know if we have more questions.”

“I have one question for you guys. Do you have any leads as to who did this?” I hoped he’d confide in me just as I had opened my soul for them.

“No comment.” Roger responded without hesitation.


I shut my car door and rested my head on the chilled, vinyl steering wheel, waiting for a flood of emotions to gush out. I noticed a thick layer of dust accumulating on the dashboard, then realized I wasn’t distraught or haunted by my detailed description of the events from that morning. The recounting had opened my eyes to the fragility of life and allowed me to explore a different perspective on what happens following death. It had been cathartic. I was more at peace, yet I felt my role in this ordeal wasn’t finished.

A veteran of the corporate wars, former journalist, and true studier of human and social behavior, John W. Mefford has been writing his debut novel since he first entered the work force twenty-five years ago, although he never put words on paper until late 2009.

Considered a visionary leader in his fifteen-year IT career, he quit his job and started writing, pouring out his thoughts with no net.

When he’s not writing, he chases three kids around, slaves away in the yard, reads, takes in as many sports as time allows, watches all sorts of movies, and continues to make mental notes of people and societies across the land -- even if they piss him off.

Committed is the first book in the series, The Michael Doyle Chronicles.

John lives in Frisco, Texas with his beautiful wife, three adorable kids, and a feisty fat cat.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Commonwealth Universe: Modern Era: Sunsinger Chronicles Book 1: Sunsinger by Michelle Levigne

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Told from the viewpoint of a young teen, this story easily captured my imagination. Mankind has spread to the stars. With the discovery of Knaught Points, ships are able to enter ports in space and emerge into whole new galaxies. These areas in space are beautiful, mysterious, and deadly. Now, though, humans everywhere are under attack by an aggressive and formidable alien species. Bain Kern is an orphan on a colony world that has been targeted by the aliens. He is among a group of orphans being evacuated from the colony. The captain of the ship, Sunsinger, takes a liking and interest in Bain offering him an opportunity he had dreamed of for years, if he can prove his mettle and show her he can learn quickly.

I loved the description of the Sunsinger, an old trader vessel. I felt as if I were aboard the ship experiencing the many wonders of an infinite space for the first time, too. The aliens remain a decidedly malignant and frightening force throughout this book. Mankind is being systematically exterminated. We are given the idea that in other places the fight for the very survival of our species is taking place; we are desperately fighting against a stronger, merciless invading force. But this book does not take us to those struggles, rather it focuses on the evacuation and the attempt to get the orphans safely away to a place called Refuge. It is a well-told coming of age adventure that should not be missed.

Reviewed by Laurie
Night Owl Reviews

View all my reviews

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Ward Against Death by Melanie Card :Review

Ward Against Death (Chronicles of a Reluctant Necromancer, # 1)Goodreads Summary

Twenty-year-old Ward de’Ath expected this to be a simple job—bring a nobleman’s daughter back from the dead for fifteen minutes, let her family say good-bye, and launch his fledgling career as a necromancer. Goddess knows he can’t be a surgeon—the Quayestri already branded him a criminal for trying—so bringing people back from the dead it is.

But when Ward wakes the beautiful Celia Carlyle, he gets more than he bargained for. Insistent that she’s been murdered, Celia begs Ward to keep her alive and help her find justice. By the time she drags him out her bedroom window and into the sewers, Ward can’t bring himself to break his damned physician’s Oath and desert her.

However, nothing is as it seems—including Celia. One second, she’s treating Ward like sewage, the next she’s kissing him. And for a nobleman’s daughter, she sure has a lot of enemies. If he could just convince his heart to give up on the infuriating beauty, he might get out of this alive…

My rating: 4.25 of 5 stars

Necromancer, Ward de’Ath finds himself involved in a mystery that seems totally out of his league after waking a young woman from death so that ostentatiously her family could have fifteen minutes in which to say goodbye. However, Celia claims she was murdered, possibly by her own father, and runs away, determined to uncover the truth of her demise. Ward follows her, and in so doing becomes involved in unexpected danger and intrigue. Ward is unprepared for life on the lam, and Celia’s agenda seems too risky and ill-advised. Bound by his Hippocratic oath, Ward has little choice but to support her efforts though, especially since he finds himself bewitched by her grace and beauty.

This story was patently funny and odd at the same time. I enjoyed it because it is told in a rather carefree, lackadaisical voice that I found particularly original and appealing. Ward and Celia are such opposites in so many ways but in their personal ethics they are supremely compatible. At times, I became irritated with Ward’s whining and complaining, but he did learn quickly which endeared him to me again and again. Ward’s general honesty along with his inquisitive mind also enhanced this story for me. A quick read for me because I had to know what would happen next, I recommend it to anyone who enjoys adventures spiced with the paranormal.

Reviewed by Laurie-J
Night Owl Reviews

View all my reviews

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Destined Mate by Katie Reus-Interview, Giveaway, & Excerpt: Featured Author

Official Blurb
Almost a century ago, Angela Lavigne and Alpha werewolf Knox had a shared passion neither could control. Then Angela was turned into a vampire and disappeared.

The last thing Knox expects is for Angela to show up on his doorstep on a rescue mission, as sexy and irresistible as ever. And he can sense how much she still wants him, too. She’s gone against both their species’ rules and trespassed on his land. By law he can keep her as long as he wants—and Knox doesn’t intend to let her go ever again.

As their desire explodes once again, Knox is more sure than ever that he must claim her forever. But as vampire and werewolf, they are natural born enemies. Can she truly be his destined mate?

Warning: Expect a red-hot shower scene, a smartass heroine who isn’t afraid to use her teeth and an alpha wolf who’s willing to fight anyone and anything to keep his vampire lover by his side.

Comment to win a EPUB copy of Destined Mate.
This giveaway is open Internationally and ends
October 29th 11:59 CST


Angela inhaled the various forest scents and tried to steady her breathing. She knew she was insane to sneak onto the land of the most powerful werewolf in the United States. But she had no choice.

Her best friend had been taken by these animals and she planned to get her back. She didn’t care what her tribe leader, Titus, said. She’d been stuck living with his coven for the past fifty years and while she normally didn’t mind his Draconian rules, she’d gladly suffer the consequences to get Natalia back. If she was still alive. Who knew what those animals had done to her by now? Natalia had only been gone about a week but the animosity between vampires and werewolves went back thousands of years. It didn’t matter that in a few months their two species would be signing a peace treaty. Right now nothing had been signed and her friend was fair game.

The icy wind whistled through the leaves of the giant red oak trees. Even though it was January, a lot of the foliage was still thick and would help block her scent.

She peered around the giant tree she’d been using as cover. Her eyes narrowed when she spotted the outline of a huge male by another tree about forty yards away. Even though he was in human form, she knew he was a shifter. Of the wolf variety if she scented right.

Luck was on her side since she was downwind of him. Withdrawing her gun, she glanced around the rest of the forest but didn’t see or smell anything else unusual. Since his back was to her, she darted twenty yards closer until she hid behind another large tree.

She wasn’t sure if she could take on a trained, warrior wolf by herself so she knew she couldn’t miss this first shot. Raising her weapon, she held her breath and aimed directly for the spot below his skull.

The small puff of noise the tranquilizer dart made as it shot through her suppresser was enough for him to notice.

He stiffened but it was too late.

By the time he turned toward her, the tranq was already embedded deep in his skin. The giant shifter stumbled once, twisted in her direction then narrowed his gaze at her before he fell face-first in the dirt and grass.

Her friend Mick had been right. Those sedatives did their job fast. Unfortunately it wouldn’t last long on a shifter his size. She quickly secured his hands behind his back with silver bindings, took his weapons and his radio.

If others found out about her presence, she’d know about it soon enough. She hooked the radio on her belt and tossed his guns and blades behind a nearby tree before continuing north. She’d been traveling on foot for miles so she knew it wouldn’t be long until she reached her destination.
The sound of nearby male voices made her freeze in her tracks. Instead of trying to hide, she crouched down where she was. Until she figured out where the voices were coming from, she didn’t want to make any sudden movements or risk anyone scenting her.

“I’ve been trying to get King on his radio but he won’t pick up,” one of them said.
Another male chuckled. “He’s probably getting a piece of tail… Hey, what the…”
Crap. They’d spotted her. With her heightened night vision she could finally see the two outlines of male figures near a tree line. Judging by their stiff and alert posture, they’d seen her, too. It didn’t matter that she wore all dark camouflage, blended in with her surroundings and had a much lower heat signature than they did. All they’d have to do was see something about her that didn’t blend in with nature. Like her eyes. They likely looked like freaking Christmas lights to them.

She had two options. One was running. Even if she escaped it wouldn’t matter. Her friend would still be captive.

She’d have to take the other option—go on the offensive.

Wordlessly she jumped from her position and sprinted at them. From what she could scent, there were only two of them and they hadn’t made a move to notify anyone of her presence. Probably because they thought they could take her on their own. And maybe they could.

As she ran, they silently spread out to her right and left. Despite her keen awareness she couldn’t read their expressions in the dark. Knowing she’d only be able to bring one of them down at a time, she raised her gun and fired at the one on her right.
The soft thud of the tranq hitting flesh was music to her ears.

“Oh, shit…” He hit the ground faster than the first guy.

Before she could even think about swinging her arm around to take a second shot, a heavy weight rammed into her. Damn wolves were just as fast as she was. She flew through the air and landed on her side.
All the air rushed from her lungs but she quickly jumped to her feet to square off with the werewolf. To her surprise, the male hadn’t shifted form. He still wore black cargo pants and a long-sleeved black shirt.

“What are you doing on our land, little vampire?” His voice was almost mocking.
Little? Baring her teeth, she lunged at him, fist raised.


Who is your favorite author?

I can’t pick just one! I really like: Linda Howard, Lisa Marie Rice, Cynthia Eden, J.D. Robb, Sherrilyn Kenyon, J.R. Ward, Jeanine Frost, Patricia Briggs, Karen Marie Moning and Kaylea Cross.

Morning Person? Or Night Person? How do you know?

I’ve always been a morning person (well, except in college) but very recently I’ve turned into a freaking vampire. I just had a son about 3 months ago and since it’s hard to get stuff done during the day, I have to wait to do a lot of it until he’s sleeping at night. Luckily for me, he sleeps the night through which has in turn made me a night person!

Do you have critique partners or beta readers?

Yes, I have two critique partners and they’re both amazing at helping with different things. Military romance author Kaylea Cross is one of my CPs and she’s so good at ramping up emotion. Dara Edmondson is my other CP and she’s wonderful with plot help and technical stuff. I would be lost without my two ladies J

Who are your books published with?

Carina Press, Harlequin Nocturne Cravings, Ellora’s Cave, and soon-to-be, NAL/Signet Eclipse. And I also have a couple novellas self-published.

Vampire Diaries (How can anyone not love that show? It’s full of teenage angst and a ton of supernatural creatures!). I love Psych for the comedy, Burn Notice for the awesome spy antics and Castle because of the sexual tension between Castle and Kate (and I adore Nathan Fillion and even follow him on twitter because he’s so funny). Oh yeah, and even though Sam and Dean hunt the monsters I write about, I’m a diehard Supernatural fan!

Tell us about your current release.

Harlequin Nocturne just launched their new Cravings line in September (it will eventually be replacing their Nocturne Bites line around December I think) and Destined Mate is one of the first novellas published through them.

Where do you dream of traveling to and why?

Scotland! My husband and I have traveled together and apart (before we met each other) and this is one place we both are determined to go to in the next few years. Both of us have familial roots there and the country is gorgeous so, it’s next on my list.

Thank you so much for having me, Laurie!

A little about me:
I’ve been reading romance since I discovered my mom’s hidden stash at a young age and the addiction stayed with me into adulthood. I write dark paranormal romance and sexy romantic suspense. I write for Carina Press, Harlequin Nocturne, and in early 2012 the first book in my paranormal series will release from NAL/Signet Eclipse. To learn more about me please visit my website, my blog, facebook or find me on twitter @katiereus.


Sunday, October 23, 2011

A Slot Machine Ate My Midlife Crisis by Irene Woodbury-Interview, Excerpt, Giveaway: Featured Author

Synopsis of  A Slot Machine Ate My Midlife Crisis
   Published by SnyergEbooks, August 2011

      This darkly funny novel describes Wendy Sinclair’s spin-crazy life in Las Vegas after she impulsively decides to not return to Houston following a bizarre girls’ weekend in 2005. 

          The confused, unhappy 45-year-old newlywed soon rents a ramshackle apartment in a building filled with misfits; wallows in a blur of spas, malls and buffets, and, ultimately, becomes a designer of cocktail waitress uniforms and an Ann-Margret impersonator in a casino show with Elvis. 

          She also hangs with some pretty colorful characters.  Paula’s her bold, brassy glamazon BFF who’s looser than a Casino Royale slot.  Maxine’s her saucy former-Tropicana-showgirl boss.  Paige and Serena are two twenty-something blackjack dealers she shops, gambles, and clubs up a storm with.  Major crushes on a hunky pilot and sexy former rock star are also part of the mix.   

    And then there are the phone fights with Roger, Wendy’s workaholic husband waiting impatiently in Houston.  Their clashes are louder and more raucous than a hot craps table at Caesar’s!   Does she go back to him, or does her midlife crisis become a midlife makeover? 

Now available on:  Amazon Kindle  |  | Books  |  | Goodreads  |  |  | Barnes & Noble  

Enter below and Comment for a chance to win a digital copy of A Slot Machine Ate My Midlife Crisis. The more comments the more winners! This giveaway ends Oct. 31st 11:59PM CST. 

       By Irene Woodbury
Excerpt from Chapter 18: 
    Roger and Wendy Argue in Las Vegas

           I reached for him, but he backed away. 
           “Wendy, I’ve had it up to here with this Vegas crap,” he lashed out, throwing his arms up.  “I want you to start packing right now and come home with me!  This has gone on long enough.  What the hell are you doing living in this fleabag halfway house filled with transients, the misbegotten, and a bunch of misfits on their way down?  I sat in your lobby for two hours and got a good look at some of the scum crawling around here.  And those weirdo managers and midgets putting up the trashy Christmas things.  Do you really want to be part of their warped, sicko world? 
           “Come on, it’s time for us to go home and get the house and our lives in order.  Everything’s chaotic and up in the air with you here.  My life’s on hold till you come back.  I can’t move forward, backward, or any other way.  I’m stalled indefinitely till you get your act together and come home!” 
           Like a limp rag doll with the stuffing knocked out of it, I crumpled onto the couch while he thundered on. 
           “Why did we get married if we’re going to live in different cities?  Tell me.  Why did we get married if you can’t go to something like the Wiggin Ball with me--and I end up taking Lisa--and it gets splashed all over the society pages--and you see it on the web and throw a jealous tantrum?  What the hell do you expect me to do?      
           “Meanwhile, you’re flying off to Wyoming with some pilot you ran into at the vegetable bin!  And I’m supposed to accept that with no questions asked?  Does that sound fair?  No.  I’ve had enough.  Come on.  I’ll help you pack so we can clear out of here.  This marriage is not going to become collateral damage in your midlife crisis.” 
           “Collateral damage in what midlife crisis?”  I shrieked, jumping off the couch and getting in his face.  “I don’t know what the hell you’re talking about!  There’s nothing wrong with me.  What part of I’m not having a midlife crisis don’t you understand? 
           “News flash:  I’m not leaving Vegas, honey.  Today, tomorrow, or anytime soon.  I can’t.  I’ve wanted to be a designer all my life, and I finally get this chance to make 1,000 uniforms for an entire casino of cocktailers in a major market.  I’d be crazy to walk away!  It may sound trivial to you, but it’s a big deal to me.  I’m in showbiz now big-time.  Get used to it.  The casino believes in my talent.  My boss thinks the dresses are going to be fabulous!  I’ve signed a contract, plus I’m still onstage a couple nights a week in this Ann-Margret gig.”
           “I know all about your jobs.”  Roger shouted, grabbing my arm and pulling me toward him.  “Quit both of them!  You can do better in Houston.  I’ll buy you out of the damn contract.  Come on…we’re newlyweds, for Chrissakes!  You’ve been here six months.  That’s long enough! 
           “Do you really want to live in a town where the mayor was a defense lawyer for the Mob and half the people on the street look like they’re out on bail or day passes?  Do you really want to live in a city with the highest suicide rate in the country?  And why do you think that is?  Maybe it’s because most people can’t find happiness in a town where pole-dancing, Carrot Top, and building implosions are considered art forms.  Maybe people need more than that to get them up in the morning and keep them going.  No wonder everyone’s depressed in this putrid desert hellhole!” 


How did you start your writing career?

When my husband and I would travel to Europe for vacations, he would try to get me to write travel stories.  I didn’t want to because I was a full-time student at the time, and I did enough writing during the semester.  I finally agreed to help him do a story in London in 2000.  The next thing I knew, I had written 35 pages, and I wouldn’t stop!   I took over the story, and I loved every minute.   That was the beginning of my writing career.

Tell us about a favorite character from a book?

I love Emma Bovary in Madame Bovary because she’s so vulnerable and makes so many mistakes.  She marries a dull country doctor, and somehow believes he will fulfill all her romantic fantasies.  When he doesn’t, she goes into a depression and starts looking for attention from other men.  They give it to her, but they are using her, and she ends up getting hurt.   Emma is also a compulsive shopper.  She buys extravagant things for her house and dresses for herself.  She is devastated by the men she falls in love with, and drives her husband into financial ruin with her spending.  She’s also a negligent mother to her daughter.  Emma is an intelligent, imaginative, sensitive character, but she becomes a victim of her own fantasies—and commits suicide at the end of the book.  I feel so sorry for her. 

What was your first sale as an author?

I sold my first travel story to the Los Angeles Times in 2000.  It was the London story I mentioned above.  I was so excited.  It was a great experience—writing it, selling it, and seeing it in print.

When in the day/night do you write?  How long per day?

I write from 10 in the morning till noon.  Then, from 3 to 7 pm.   I don’t like to work for long stretches of time because I lose some of my freshness after 3 hours.  I can still work, but I feel the quality goes down.

Do you listen to music while writing?  If so, what?

I listen to 60s’rock-pop:  the Critters, Grass Roots, Zombies, Peter and Gordon, the Dave Clark Five.  The 60s were a great decade.   There was innocence, creativity, and a sense of revolution.  Does it get any better than that?
What is your favorite meal?

A gluten free pizza with sliced onions, tomatoes and crushed garlic.  Yesss!

Tell us about your favorite restaurant?

I like the Mellow Mushroom in Denver because the pizza is great, and there are many televisions with all kinds of sports on them.  I never get to watch sports at home, so I love restaurants with comfortable seating where you can watch baseball or football.  It’s relaxing, a total escape from writing.

Do your friends think you’re an introvert or an extravert?  Why?

My friends think I’m an extravert because I talk a lot.  But I only talk a lot because I’m a shy, nervous introvert.

Thanks so much for taking time out to visit today.  It's been great finding out a little more about and your book!


Saturday, October 22, 2011

Hunted: The Shadowing by Adam Slater - Review

The Shadowing: Hunted
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a YA Horror and I am a mature reader – a grandma, in fact. I loved this book! Callum is an orphan who lives in a very rural area with his Gran. They are happy in their snug cottage at the edge of the Marlock Woods. For as long as he can remember, Callum has been able to see ghosts. It is bothersome to Callum who just wants to be a normal kid. He has kept this ability hidden worried that his no-nonsense Gran would not believe him – Sometimes Callum himself thinks he might be crazy.

Suddenly, though, Callum is seeing and being stalked by something much worse and when his powers intensify, Callum finds out that some things are not as they seem.

The author did a phenomenal job describing the small hamlet and the surrounding area. Beautiful, yet eerie; there is such an ethereal feel to the countryside, as if, like a ghost, one could just float through to a different place, another dimension. The ancient Marlock Woods seems like it marks a sort of boundary to the Netherworld. The tiny cottage, in contrast, feels like a safe fortress, standing strong, unyielding against the coming tempest.

This book easily captured my imagination and held me in its thrall. The spooky story, the mystery, the atmosphere, and a handful of unusual characters all conspire to make this an auspicious beginning to what I am sure will be an amazing new series.

Thanks so much to Egmont publishing and Net Galley for allowing me to read and review this novella.

Reviewed by Laurie-J

View all my reviews

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Night Walker by Lisa Kessler

Night Walker (The Night, #1)

 Synopsis from Goodreads

He gave up his soul for a second chance to love her...

Two and a half centuries ago, Calisto Terana lost everything when a zealous priest murdered the woman he loved. Now, desperate for another chance to love her, he wants redemption for the mistake that cost her life.

She's haunted by dreams of her own death...

After catching her fiance with another woman, Kate Bradley returns to San Diego to clear her head. The last thing she needs is romance, but after meeting Calisto she's drawn to him in ways she doesn't understand.

They've waited in the shadows for centuries...

Calisto has no doubt Kate is the reincarnation of his lost love, but the Fraternidad Del Fuego Santo has a new watcher with dark ambitions of his own. As old enemies reemerge and a new threat arises, the betrayal that enslaved Calisto to the night might destroy the only woman he's ever loved again.

My rating 2.5 stars

Calisto has waited and yearned for his beloved Tala to return to him, as prophesized more than 250 years ago. Accepting the burden of a horrific curse in a deal that promised him another chance with his one true love, finally Calisto may get the redemption he so desires. However, other forces intend to ensure that Calisto is thwarted fearing he may attempt to create another unnatural creature like himself.

When Kate Bradley arrives in San Diego she is hardly looking for romance. She recently broke her engagement after discovering her fiancé with another woman. Plagued by recurring nightmares, Kate wants some solitude and peace to try to soothe her troubled soul. However, when Kate meets Calisto one evening while meditating an old shrine she is inexplicably drawn to his earnest, old-fashioned manner and almost courtly charm. Unfortunately, her nightmares seem worse than ever.

I had a difficult time connecting with or liking Kate during much of the story. I would start to like her but then she would behave in a completely erratic manner. It also bothered me that Calisto’s home so blatantly seemed to cry out that it was not the abode of a normal person, yet Kate barely questioned the oddities. It seemed all the more bizarre to me because Calisto seems intelligent and worldly but he feels it is unnecessary to keep even a few food items in his kitchen, clothes in his closet, or personal items in his drawers – the rooms may be unused by him but surely he should comprehend the importance of maintaining a better façade for appearances sake. I just could not accept that, and so my suspension of disbelief became lost.

Calisto knew that Kate could very likely be in serious danger, yet he continued to keep secrets from her in the guise of trying to protect her. I got very frustrated with this behavior and several times I just wanted to throttle him. Yet again, the dichotomy between his perceived intelligence and his actions just caused me to shake my head in disbelief.

I wanted to like this novel more than I did. The idea of a man waiting 250 years for the return of his true love really appeals to me. I was put-off though by some of the religious aspects, by Kate’s personality, and by Calisto’s control issues combined with his sometimes singular naivety. I was, however, quite pleasantly surprised by the ending which I really loved.

Reviewed by Laurie-J
View all my reviews

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Last Rising by Rachel Firasek

Synopsis (from Goodreads)
After paying two millennia’s penance to Osiris, world-weary Phoenix Ice has had enough. Saving souls without any hope for her own redemption isn’t how she imagined spending eternity. Fed up, she decides her next death will be her last. But when she sacrifices her own life for a sexy Texan in a catastrophic plane crash, she has no idea the consequences will be so great…or that she’ll end up back in his life for her next assignment.

Now that Turner Alcott has survived the worst, finding a wife and mother for his son matters more than ever before. When the mysterious Ice comes into his life, Turner knows she’s the one—but love is the last thing Ice wants. If he wants to win her heart, Turner must teach Ice how to forgive herself, and prove that love is the ultimate sacrifice.

Novella - 102 pages

My Rating 4.5 stars

This is one of those stories that hooked me quickly.  While Ice often is prickly and sometimes even unlikable, she still made me ache for her, and I truly wanted her to finally get her happily ever after. Ice truly has a generous heart that she has spent several millennia locking up and blocking away after having suffered a crushing hurt.

When she saves the life of Turner Alcott, Ice begins a journey that seems to make little sense to her at the time.  Naturally, she fights the cosmic forces that seem determined to change her at a most fundamental level.

All too soon, Ice is earth-bound once again but, this time, her task is almost more than she can bear when she learns that Turner’s son, Brodie, is her student.  Brodie is a lonely, yet precocious little waif who begins immediately melting her cold, locked-away heart.  Simultaneously, fighting her growing love for both Turner and Brodie while struggling to figure out the purpose of this highly unusual reincarnation, Ice is finally given her chance at redemption. As a result, three lives may become forever changed.

This short novella flowed well.  I loved the way in which it was conveyed with a mix of humor and angst that seemed about perfect to me.  The trio of fellow phoenixes supporting Ice and also paying penance for past misdeeds brought additional depth to the story.  I hope to learn more about them in future installments.

Reviewer for Night Owl Reviews