Monday, November 24, 2014

Beautiful Evil Winter by Kelly K. Lavender: Tens List with Excerpt

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What 10 things do you most enjoy?


I carefully plan, plot and schedule to add one or more of these activities into my week.


 As a life-long equine addict, I have to say horses hold a special place in my life. They heal injured souls, they help children with special needs and war vets with PTSD, they empower, they instill confidence, teach responsibility, and they enchant, especially Mustangs who warrant our reverence as hardy, smart survivors.


 Many Mustangs don’t have the luxury of a daily bucket of feed or flake of hay, or a pond of water to drink from, shelter in a storm or strong federal protections from human predatory practices. A google search will reveal the names of the culprits in government, past Presidents and a legislator from Montana. An article on the subject appeared in The Washington Post.
Shame on the government officials, past and present, who ignore this atrocious injustice and instead adopt the blind eye approach! Horses and mules play an important role in our armed forces as they have throughout our history, Special Forces teams now learn to navigate and fight in difficult terrain in Afghanistan and other third world countries with their help.


 Reading will always be a favorite activity for me. Reading greatly reduces stress and sharpens my writing skills. My September blog-“The Bedazzling Benefits of the Bountiful Book” details the various ways people can enrich their lives with books, both fiction and non-fiction.


 A newly added activity to my Favorites List—once a week dog training classes with my Great Pyrenees, Scotty. Contrary to popular thought about the breed, Scotty excels in obedience and will soon graduate with a Good Citizenship certification. When we complete more classes, Scotty will be certified as a Therapet dog and will be able to offer a loving glance, a wagging tail and a silky snuggle to seniors in nursing homes.   


 Wanderlust tops the chart both on my FL and my bucket list. Travel enlightens, educates and entertains. I don’t want to wait until I retire to travel because planes are transportation, not flying hospitals. I’ve seen many people postpone family vacations or trips, hoping for a more optimal time, and actually, never going. Travel ranks high on our priority list as a family because we know we will not pass this way again, and we may not be well enough to board a plane or sit comfortably in a car for long stretches of time.


 Travel, often times, ties to social events like book signings, book award ceremonies and book festivals. I enjoy meeting new people, and learning from them. I consider it a privilege to introduce them to my hybrid novels. My father says, “You can learn something from anybody.” Over the years, the truth of that statement resonates with me time and time again.


 Sometimes, fund-raising events require travel, and we’ll happily make the effort and time for worthy causes whether a fundraiser car show to support our local library or Nevada Childhood Cancer Foundation. 


 My family and I like to find a car show wherever we may venture because we have a shared passion for cars. When I was a young girl, I played with the Hot Wheels speedway, a Christmas gift from Mom and Dad, daily. In later years, any movie featuring fast cars and stunts became a must-see.


 Fast forward to today, we own a Mustang GT loaded with $20,000 with of racing equipment. No, we didn’t have the money to pour into aftermarket equipment, but the previous owner did. It was a thrill to find out that we didn’t have to pay extra for the: cold air kit, Flowmaster headers, supercharger and racing tires. The car rockets away with just a touch; so, I had to add a special pulley system to protect the hood because accidental, not really, quick acceleration dimpled it. The experts at the shop told me that if I added anything else to the engine, it wouldn’t be street legal. Heeding their advice, I resisted the urge to install adapt it for nitrous oxide, opting for Carroll Shelby’s signature on the interior dash instead.


 When I take the Stang to car shows, magic happens: people-fathers and sons, seniors and young men-pose for pictures in front of it, people offer to buy and one man asked me to marry him, LOL. I especially love to drive through neighborhoods in parade formation post show, and watch kids wave, smile and point at the Mustang. At one show, a spectator made the mistake of leaning against the parked Stang while he talked to a group of guys. My fury hit a new high when he flicked his cigarette ashes onto the just detailed shiny black beast. I knew just what to do. Since his back was turned to me, I settled into the car, I approaching the driver’s side door from behind the scoop, climbed into the car, settled in, careful not to shut the door, and started it. With a request for a response, it growled my commentary with the force of 450 horse power, scared the wide-eyed smoker who dropped his cigarette into the grass, while he stumbled away from the car. Yes, I adore the black Mustang with the California interior, the mighty engine and the gold racing stripes.


 Food-I’m a foodie with a special fondness for chocolate chip cookies. I eat 4 a day always dipping them into a cup of 30 calorie almond milk. Yum, yum… I recommend tasty kinnikinnick’s gluten free, diary free, nut free chocolate chip cookies. The low fat, sugar and calorie counts complement my effort to keep my daily sugar intake low. I believe Dr. Oz’s assertion that sugar acts as a sweet tooth trigger.   


 Last but not least, writing infuses joy, a sense of accomplishment, creativity and intellectual challenge to a day. Writing symbolizes a fortified bridge to happiness in future years when physical pursuits will be out of reach. Writing books that readers find enjoyable and useful provides a way to give back, to help others with life lessons learned. As Jodi Piccoult succinctly said, “...Fiction is the backdoor to truth.”

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Title: Beautiful Evil Winter

Author:  Kelly K. Lavender

Published:  November 13th, 2013

Word Count:  60,000

Genre:  Suspense Thriller

Recommended Age:  18+

Synopsis:  Beautiful Evil Winter is about an international adoption in one of the most dangerous countries in the world. When Sophia and her husband Ethan set off to Russia to adopt a baby boy, little do they realize they are headed straight into the open arms of the Mafia. To make matters worse, an untrained, inexperienced adoption coordinator orchestrates the effort to complete the task and keep the American couple safe as they deal with ironfisted syndicate control of orphaned children. Beautiful Evil Winter is a modern-day odyssey about the human capacity for hope, the traumas that shape our lives, and the hardship we’ll endure for love. What will devoted parents do for their child? Anything.

Awards and Honors for Beautiful Evil Winter:
  • The Eric Hoffer Awards - Commercial Fiction - Honorable Mention. The Hoffer Awards spotlight "...writing of significant merit."
  • The National Indie Excellence Awards - The New Fiction Finalist
  • Dan Poytner's Global EBook Awards-Bronze Medalist Suspense
  • Readers' Favorite International Book Awards-Triple Genre Finalist- Suspense, Thriller and Romance Sizzle
  • Readers' Favorite International Book Awards-Honorable Mention Suspense
Readers' Favorite International Book Awards contestants include New York Times Best-Selling Authors and celebrities, comedian Jim Carey won an award this year.

Will it happen this time? The ban announced last night—will it ruin everything? Dad says Russian law takes effect the moment it’s ratified. I’m so worried, Ethan.”

I rub my eyes and lean my head back while the jet engines roar in the background. My head throbs and my hands sweat as we try to begin our 13-hour journey. We’ve been sitting on the tarmac for two hours due to a mechanical problem.

Ethan grabs my hand and squeezes it softly, leaning over to plant a kiss on my forehead. I gaze at his face, bags frame his red eyes. I look out the window to distract myself. It’s a sunny cold day, the sky clear of clouds and full of promise for flight.

“One step at a time, Sofia. We’re closer than we’ve ever been. Remember that,” he says soothingly.

Turning back to him, my body becomes rigid as anger spills over me like hot molten lava. “You’re thinking the same thing I am! We should be overjoyed at the prospect of meeting our son! This is a time for celebration, a time for effervescent bottles of uncorked champagne! But this do-it-yourself adoption is a nightmare! How much longer can we handle disappointment after disappointment? The closer we think we are—the farther away we are,” I vent.

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

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

How could she say that on the eve of our trip?

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

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

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

“Honey?” I place my hand on his arm, but he doesn’t stir. Guess the fatigue finally caught up with him. If he had a drink, he’d be comatose. I think I’ll go to the restroom before the plane takes off. “Be back in a minute.”

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

As I reach the door, the occupied sign forces me to pause and begin to turn around.

Suddenly, I hear the click of the door unlocking.

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

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


I push the door open and inhale a shallow breath. The smell of pump soap greets me. All clear. I can breathe.

Ting, Ting. The strained voice of the stressed-out flight attendant echoes through the tiny bathroom cabin.

“Within the next twenty minutes, The Captain will be turning on the fasten seat belt sign. Until then, you can use your electronic devices. We apologize for the inconvenience”

Turning from the sink to the opposite side to grab paper towels, all 5’2” 115 pounds of me twists like a corkscrew to move around. A quick swipe of the towels, a glance at my nostrils, a push of the lever, and I’m free to escape into the main cabin.

As I near my seat, I notice that “Mr. Too Brightly” is sitting next to Ethan.

Damn! I have to sit next to him! Looks like comatose Ethan has just re-positioned himself to face the aisle way. Why doesn’t this plane offer two across seating instead of three?

My steps slow, but I don’t want to wake Ethan up to swap seats since he’s so tired.

As I stand next to our row of seats, Mr. Brightly realizes with a dazzling repugnant smile that I’ll be seated next to him.

“Don’t tell me you’re with that guy,” he says, gesturing at Ethan. “He’s out cold. Between the screaming baby and me trying to wedge past him, he hasn’t moved an inch.” He smirks, his smile now a beacon of light.

I grit my teeth and carefully squeeze by Ethan’s knees grabbing the headrest of the seat in front of me for support. Glancing back over my shoulder, I see him looking at Ethan. I focus on the seat space next to him, zeroing-in on the instructions on the pocket pouch for my seat. Someone scribbled in red pen, HELL A MILE HIGH. As I wiggle into my seat and grope for my seatbelt, he watches my every move.

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About the Author:

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

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Giveaway is International.

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