Sep 172014
 


WELCOME Sydney Avey

Sydney Avey

Sydney Avey is an author of historical and women’s fiction set in California. The Lyre and the Lambs is the sequel to her first novel, The Sheep Walker’s Daughter, which won an honorable mention from the Center for Basque Studies (University of Nevada, Reno) in their Basque Literary Contest. Both novels were published by HopeSprings Books, a small publishing house that promotes realistic Christian fiction.

Sydney and a lifetime of experience writing news for non profits and corporations. Her work is has appeared in Epiphany, Foliate Oak, Forge, American Athenaeum, and Unstrung (published by Blue Guitar Magazine). She has a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of California, Berkeley and has studied writing at the Iowa Summer Writing Festival. She lives with her husband Joel the Sierra Nevada foothills of Yosemite, California, and the Sonoran Desert in Arizona.

Visit Sydney and sign up to receive her monthly News for Readers and Writers.

WEBSITE TWITTER

Q&A with Sydney Avey

Writing and Reading:
Do you draw from personal experiences and/or current events?

Both. I write about the communications gaps between the generations. Members of different generations have different frames of reference. They struggle to understand and be understood in a family setting. I have experienced this in my own family. Current events help form frame of reference, so I research the “current” events in the time period I’m writing. For example, The Lyre and the Lambs is set in the Sixties, when President Kennedy’s assassination had a huge effect. I drew from my own experience of that event to show how society changed, partly as a result of having our sense of personal security threatened.

Do you start with the conclusion and plot in reverse or start from the beginning and see where the story line brings you?

I always know how my story ends, but I never know how my characters arrive at their destination until we get there together. I begin by identifying critical plot points and outlining chapters and scenes. I tweak the outline as I go, expanding some sections, adding or deleting others. My Scrivener software makes it easy to see the story flow. The process is like starting with a rough sketch, then thickening some lines and shading for depth. Gradually, an image emerges.

Your routine when writing? Any idiosyncrasies?

I write in the morning, at my desk in the mountains or the desert. I set fingers to keyboard, rejoin my characters by reviewing the last scene, and then move with them into the next scene. Sometimes I come out of the story to research details that makes the setting jump to life. For example, what kind of equipment did the news crew that showed up on Lundy Lane use when they tried to ambush the Dolds? On site reporting was very new in the Sixties. How did the cameras and microphones work? I go down lots of rabbit holes like that! Readers don’t want an explanation of cabling technology, but knowing how it all fit together helped me write a funny scene where aggressive “reporter girl” gets tangled in a microphone cable plugged into a heavy camera shouldered by the camera man.

Is writing your full time job? If not, may I ask what you do by day?

Writing is my full time occupation. I can’t really call it a job until I start making some money! I balance my writing life with nurturing family and friend relationships and participating in church and community life, but writing is the activity that takes priority.

Who are some of your favorite authors?

The writers who make my heart beat faster are those who use beautiful language and show a grasp of deeper truths, or those who give me a sense of place or the sweep of history. I love the classics. I like historical fiction, like Edward Rutherford’s books. I admire literary fiction, like John Updike’s stories. I enjoy women’s fiction writers who have a sense of humor and are kind to flawed characters, authors like Elizabeth Strout, Elizabeth Berg, and Anne Tyler.

What are you reading now?

I just finished Slugger, debut fiction by my former HP colleague David Price. His signature humor, depictions of heart wrenching struggles with addiction, and cutaways to drama on the baseball field were brilliant. Next up on my iPad Kindle App is Lady of Devices, A steampunk adventure novel, by Shelley Adina Bates. I’m looking to her for influence for a short story collection I am preparing, Pastor Jerry and Jesus at the Beanpunk Café.

Are you working on your next novel? Can you tell us a little about it?

My third novel is about a young man with unrecognized genius who flees rural poverty for the West coast. Shadowed by the mother who abandoned him and a mentor who pursues him for decades, he will receive help from a young woman who, despite their brief attachment, will play a big role in his future on the national stage. On Edge (working title) explores the unlikely connections that make us who we are.

Fun questions:
Your novel will be a movie. Who would you cast?

A Hallmark TV movie or an Indie film, I hope. I’d love to see new faces should my novel ever reach the screen.

Manuscript/Notes: handwritten or keyboard?

My handwriting is illegible, but I touch type like the wind.

Favorite leisure activity/hobby?

I gave up hobbies when I took up novel writing. I like leisure activities that counteract all the sitting I do, yoga and exercise classes, walking on the beach or hiking in Yosemite. Also, activities that refresh my soul, movies and plays, singing, laughing with my husband, seeing God show up in daily life.

Favorite meal?

Organic, local fare, but mostly whatever I don’t have to prepare or clean up. The savory buckwheat crepes accompanied by hard cider, served in a petite Montmartre creperie using recipes that originate in Bretagne come to mind. Ooh la la!

About The Lyre and the Lambs

It’s the Sixties. Modernity and tradition clash as two newlywed couples set up house together. Dee and her daughter Valerie move with their husbands into a modern glass house Valerie built in a proudly rural Los Altos, California neighborhood. When their young relatives start showing up and moving in, the neighbors get suspicious. Then a body is found in the backyard and the life they are trying to build comes undone.

Father Mike is back to guide Dee through a difficult time with humor and grace, even as his own life is unraveling. Now he’s going to have to take some of his own advice about love.

The Lyre and the Lambs explores the passions that draw people together and the faith it takes to overcome trauma.

BOOK DETAILS:

Number of Pages:
Genre: Romantic Christian Fiction Suspense
Publisher: HopeSprings Books
Publication Date: September 3rd 2014
ISBN-13: 9781938708312

PURCHASE LINKS:

THANKS TO WOW! Women on Writing, I HAVE ONE (1) COPY TO GIVE AWAY.
OPEN TO U.S. and U.K. RESIDENTS
FILL OUT RAFFLECOPTER ENTRY FORM BELOW
GIVEAWAY ENDS 9/30 AT 6PM EST

WINNER WILL BE CHOSEN BY RAFFLECOPTER AND NOTIFIED VIA EMAIL AND WILL HAVE 48 HOURS TO RESPOND OR ANOTHER NAME WILL BE CHOSEN

a Rafflecopter giveaway

YOUR JAVA SCRIPT MAY NEED TO BE UPDATED IF YOU ARE EXPERIENCING DIFFICULTY USING THE RAFFLECOPTER ENTRY FORM

DISCLAIMER
I received a copy of this book, at no charge to me, in exchange for my honest review. No items that I receive are ever sold…they are kept by me, or given to family and/or friends.
ADDENDUM
I do not have any affiliation with Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble. I am an IndieBound affiliate. I am providing link(s) solely for visitors that may be interested in purchasing this Book/EBook.

 

Sep 162014
 


WELCOME ALI B.

Ali B.

Born and raised in farm country, Ali B now lives in San Diego with her husband, two kids, and a small herd of wily dachshunds. Books give her peace. Writing gives her life. Teaching gives her joy.
The Sixteen is her second novel and the second book in the Soul Jumpers series.

Connect with Author:

http://alibbooks.com/ TWITTER

What bothers Ali B when she’s writing?

Hmmm…. What bothers me most when writing? The first Soul Jumpers book, Iris Brave, was written in a coffee shop in San Diego. Iris’s adventure was plotted while nursing decaf lattes and refueling on bagels and cream cheese. For those of you troubled that I was there solely for the free Wi-Fi, I promise I wasn’t. I was there so I wouldn’t be bothered by my laundry.

Accumulating laundry is the bane of my existence. Okay, that might be an exaggeration, but I am really distracted by it. I tend to be a bit hard on myself, so even though I know writing is hard work, I still think I’d be a better human being if I could write a novel while simultaneously conquering household chores.

I solved the laundry problem by finding a spacious coffeehouse that serves a lovely latte and didn’t have metered parking. This charming place was miles away from my laundry room. I loved it! For about a week it was my literary oasis, but then someone sat in my spot.

I know what you’re thinking – that guy’s got a lot of nerve. That’s what I thought too. I was forced to sit at a lesser table across the room with people sitting behind me. I like my back against a wall – in case of an invasion, of course. It was unbearable. I clearly wasn’t going to get any work done. The first day he was in my spot I tried out my Vulcan mind meld powers on him. I’m sure they would have worked if I could have touched him (as is the Vulcan way) but that would have made me the creepy one.

He was there every day, in my spot, for about a week, but then he stopped. I was back where I belonged, blissfully sitting under the white rhinoceros sculpture that was oddly nailed to the wall at least two feet above anyone’s sightline. From that spot, without laundry and cheeky table stealers, I could write Iris Brave. For the most part.

Here’s a short(ish) list of other things that bother me when I’m writing.

1. Loud conversations.
2. Repetitive music.
3. Cell phone chatting.
4. Noisy eaters.
5. Noisy, slurping, coffee drinkers.
6. People who practice “spoken word” monologues at coffee houses.
7. People who meet their life coach at coffee houses.
8. People scraping their chairs at coffee houses.
9. People who stand outside the open door at coffee houses and smoke.
10. Needing to pee but not having anyone to guard your spot because everyone thinks your mean because you keep giving them dirty looks for the first nine things on this list.

ABOUT The Sixteen

There are people out there who don’t die with their bodies. Their souls live on in the bodies of others. Some good, some bad-they are soul jumpers.

Nothing in Iris Brave’s world makes sense anymore. Her father, Micah, is still alive-his soul survives in the body of a teenage boy.

It is up to Iris and a rogue group of soul jumpers called the Sixteen to save Micah. To do so Iris must take on the unscrupulous leaders of the Council. Can she save her father? Will she survive? Who can she trust when one mistake could cost her everything?

Scared and running out of hope, Iris doesn¹t know what her next move should be but she knows she must act to save the people she loves. A long way from home and surrounded by people who she knows are not what they seem, Iris jeopardizes her own freedom. Her brave rescue forces her on the run and changes her into someone she could’ve never imagined.

In the Soul Jumpers Series, Ali B. shares the message that we are more than the body we live in, everyone can be brave and while there is evil in the world, there is also infinite good.

BOOK DETAILS:

Number of Pages:
Genre: Middle Grade Fiction
Publisher: New Shelves Publishing Services
Publication Date: July 18th 2014
ISBN: 0988942216 (ISBN13: 9780988942219)

PURCHASE LINKS:

THANKS TO WOW! Women on Writing, I HAVE ONE (1) COPY TO GIVE AWAY.
OPEN TO U.S. and U.K. RESIDENTS
FILL OUT RAFFLECOPTER ENTRY FORM BELOW
GIVEAWAY ENDS 9/30 AT 6PM EST

WINNER WILL BE CHOSEN BY RAFFLECOPTER AND NOTIFIED VIA EMAIL AND WILL HAVE 48 HOURS TO RESPOND OR ANOTHER NAME WILL BE CHOSEN

a Rafflecopter giveaway

YOUR JAVA SCRIPT MAY NEED TO BE UPDATED IF YOU ARE EXPERIENCING DIFFICULTY USING THE RAFFLECOPTER ENTRY FORM

DISCLAIMER
I received a copy of this book, at no charge to me, in exchange for my honest review. No items that I receive are ever sold…they are kept by me, or given to family and/or friends.
ADDENDUM
I do not have any affiliation with Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble. I am an IndieBound affiliate. I am providing link(s) solely for visitors that may be interested in purchasing this Book/EBook.

 

Sep 152014
 


WELCOME Kimberly Belle

Kimberly Belle

Kimberly S. Belle grew up in Eastern Tennessee, in a small town nestled in the foothills of the Appalachians. Her four years at Agnes Scott College in Atlanta were a quick pit stop on her quest to see the world. After a bit of wandering she landed in the Netherlands, where she lived among the windmills and tulips for more than a decade. But the draw of Dixie was too strong. Kimberly returned and put down roots – permanent ones this time – in Atlanta, though she always makes sure to keep her passport current.

Connect with Author:

WEBSITE TWITTER

The Last Breath

From a remarkable new voice in suspenseful women’s fiction comes an emotionally searing drama about a woman who risks her life to discover the devastating truth about her family…

Humanitarian aid worker Gia Andrews chases disasters around the globe for a living. It’s the perfect lifestyle to keep her far away from her own personal ground zero. Sixteen years ago, Gia’s father was imprisoned for brutally killing her stepmother. Now he’s come home to die of cancer, and she’s responsible for his care—and coming to terms with his guilt.

Gia reluctantly resumes the role of daughter to the town’s most infamous murderer, a part complete with protesters on the lawn and death threats that are turning tragedy into front-page news. Returning to life in small-town Tennessee involves rebuilding relationships that distance and turmoil have strained, though finding an emotional anchor in the attractive hometown bartender is certainly helping Gia cope.

As the past unravels before her, Gia will find herself torn between the stories that her family, their friends and neighbors, and even her long-departed stepmother have believed to be real all these years. But in the end, the truth—and all the lies that came before—may have deadlier consequences than she could have ever anticipated…

DETAILS:

Number of Pages: 384
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Harlequin MIRA
Publication Date: September 30th 2014
ISBN-10: 0778317226
ISBN-13: 9780778317227

PURCHASE LINKS:

Sep 112014
 


WELCOME Scott L. Miller

Scott L. Miller

A licensed clinical social worker, Scott L. Miller earned his Master’s in Social Work from St. Louis University and has worked with adults, children and the elderly in state and private hospitals in St. Louis city and county. Long fascinated by the workings of the human brain, he quit writing exceptionally bad poetry and studied fiction writing under the late John Gardner and later at Washington University. His first Mitch Adams novel, The Interrogation Chair, was self-published in May 2011, has been rewritten and is due for re-release by Blank Slate Press in October 2014 under the title Interrogation. Counterfeit is the second in this series, but is a stand-alone work. Counterfeit recently took third place in the Walter Williams major work award contest at the 99th Missouri Writer’s Guild workshop for Missouri’s published authors. Miller is currently working on his third Mitch Adams novel, working title The Virtual Suicide Machine, which is slated for release in 2015 by Blank Slate Press.

Connect with Scott at these sites:

WEBSITE     

Q&A with Scott L. Miller

Writing and Reading:
Do you draw from personal experiences and/or current events?
I draw from personal experience and currents events. My writing deals with people and what motivates them to do good and terrible things. None of my recurring characters are based on one person from real life. Each book is set in present time and I always add very current topics of the year that are often hot button or polarizing ones.

Do you start with the conclusion and plot in reverse or start from the beginning and see where the story line brings you?
I used to never use an outline, even in school for papers or projects. For my first novel I didn’t use one. I often enjoyed the neat twists and turns that happen without an outline, but it took me too many rewrites and too much time to nail the ending. There’s a lot to be said for writing the ending first and working backwards (there’s a book on writing that teaches it) but I’ve found it’s best for me to have at least a basic outline of beginning, middle and end, which is how I started writing Counterfeit. That way, as I write I still have the ability to have those cool, spontaneous twists as each section evolves.

Your routine when writing? Any idiosyncrasies?
About writing routine, I almost always write in the evening when it’s quiet at home, after I decompress from work and spend time with my wife and our dogs. I write in my study, with no set length of words to produce each day. Sometimes it flows, other times it’s a trickle.

Is writing your full time job? If not, may I ask what you do by day?
I’m a part-time, wannabe be full-time writer. Right now, I think I can write a novel a year while I work full-time as a licensed clinical social worker, but doing so means I don’t sleep very much. Most of my social work career was spent in psychiatry (I’ve worked with pretty much every type of adult and child population there is) but now I’m in medical social work.

Who are some of your favorite authors?
Forced to choose just two, my two favorite authors are Robert B. Parker and Dennis Lehane. I would have loved to have met Mr. Parker but was lucky to meet Dennis and hear him speak. Gimme a good book with psychological suspense and twists and turns or a smart, quick-thinking protagonist with an attitude and I’m in heaven. The book I enjoyed the most over the last year was Gone Girl. John Irving is hard to beat for dialogue and character development. I could go on and on here.

What are you reading now?
Am trying to read authors who are new to me right now to broaden my horizons. Just started reading a signed copy of Blood is the Sky by Steve Hamilton who I met at a writing seminar last year and I like it so far.

Are you working on your next novel?  Can you tell us a little about it?
I’m working on the latter stages of my third Mitchell Adams novel, working title The Virtual Suicide Machine. Mitch bails out his best friend Tony Martin, who also appears in the first two novels. Therapists use Virtual Reality to treat certain psychiatric illnesses, but Tony takes it a step farther, the machine is stolen, and all hell breaks loose. It’s by far my most over-the-top writing, but man will possess the technology for what happens in the next decade or two. A sexy femme fatale is this novel’s villainess, perfumes, and the Middle East conflict comes into play. Due in 2015.

Fun questions:
Your novel will be a movie.  Who would you cast?
Funny you ask about Counterfeit as a movie…I had interest for movie rights from someone who works at New Line Cinema and an employee of director Sam Raimi, but talks fizzled. Also, there’s a little meta-fiction toward the end of Counterfeit in which Mitch thinks about actors who might play him if the story was made into a movie. Mitch mentions Clive Owen and Ryan Gosling, but I much prefer Clive Owen as Mitch. For Detective Baker I may go with lesser known Terry Crews (since Michael Clark Duncan has passed away) and for the villain John Maynard I think Aaron Eckhart would be a good choice.

Manuscript/Notes: hand written or keyboard?
About manuscript notes, I’m now conditioned to write on the keyboard, but if an idea strikes I’ll scribble it down whenever and wherever it occurs. I struggle to write a scene on paper anymore for some bizarre reason.

Favorite leisure activity/hobby?
For fun, of course I like to read, but also hike in Castlewood Park with my wife and our beagles, go to the horse track or a casino, and catch up with old friends while playing poker.

Favorite meal?
My wife cooks as well as a gourmet chef and her tomato and basil pie is out of this world good.

ABOUT Counterfeit

What if a man with the talent and patience to create perfect, undetectable copies of US hundred bills carries out his plan? Has a crime even been committed? What if he never spend a dime of the money on himself?

The last person social worker Mitch Adams wants to hear from is St. Louis Homicide Detective JoJo Baker, a man with whom Mitch shares a tangled past. Baker wants Mitch to see Lonnie Washington, a disabled African-American arrested for counterfeiting and armed robbery, believed to be suicidal while he sits in jail awaiting trial. The evidence points to an open and shut case, but Baker insists it’s not so black and white. Reluctantly, Mitch agrees and discovers there is more to the story–more than enough to get them both killed. At first Lonnie won’t cooperate, but as he begins to open up, Mitch comes to believe that the true criminal may not be the man behind bars, but the prosecutor who put him there–a man with far-reaching political ambitions, the approval of the public, and his very own Secret Service detail. With millions in perfect fake $100 bills up for grabs, Mitch’s life hinges on the word of a counterfeiter, the greed of a prosecutor, and his refusal to go down without a fight.

BOOK DETAILS:


Genre: Suspense, Crime Fiction

Published by: Blank Slate Press

Publication Date: Oct 2013

Number of Pages: 248

ISBN: 978-0985007119

PURCHASE LINKS:

Giveaway:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

YOUR JAVA SCRIPT MAY NEED TO BE UPDATED
IF YOU ARE EXPERIENCING DIFFICULTY
USING THE RAFFLECOPTER ENTRY FORM

DISCLAIMER
I received a copy of this book, at no charge to me, in exchange for my honest review. No items that I receive are ever sold…they are kept by me, or given to family and/or friends.
ADDENDUM
I do not have any affiliation with Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble. I am an IndieBound affiliate. I am providing link(s) solely for visitors that may be interested in purchasing this Book/EBook.

 

Sep 092014
 

Flight of the Tarantula Hawk

by Michael Allan Scott


on Tour at Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours in September 2014

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery / Thriller with a Paranormal Twist
Published by: Telemachus Press
Publication Date: 02/10/2014
Number of Pages: ~350
ISBN: 978-1-940745-00-8 / 978-1-940745-01-5
Series:2nd Lance Underphal Mystery, Can Be Read As a Stand Alone Novel

Purchase Links:

Warning: This book is not for everyone! It includes Excessive strong language, Graphic violence, & Explicit sexual scenes.

Synopsis:

Realtor Carla Simon has her first showing in nearly eighteen months. Recovering from a nervous breakdown, she arrives at the bank-owned foreclosure well ahead of her prospect. When her buyer pins her against the wall, it turns out to be the last house she’ll ever show.

Working on rebuilding his life, Lance Underphal attempts to bury his psychic curse alongside his troubled past. But when cryptic nightmares begin to plague him, he comes to know his struggles with the supernatural are far from over.

Lacking evidence, Homicide Detective Frank Salmon drags the reluctant psychic into the investigation. Underphal clues him in—this psycho is just getting started. Salmon assembles his crew and digs in.

Jack Jacobs, a PI and a shipmate of Salmon’s, fields a call from his girlfriend’s frantic daughter. She recruits him to locate her missing husband. Finding the husband’s Accord parked outside a long-vacant house, Jack senses he’s out of his league and calls Salmon.

Salmon’s manhunt ratchets up as Underphal’s predictions come to pass. Salmon, Jacobs and Underphal soon join forces, driven to stop the killings—a monumental task. And it’s not long before they disagree, each tracking their own suspect. All are led astray. A wild ride full of twists and turns, from a Goth-fest gone wrong to a shiny new morgue, they grapple with demons real and imagined.

As Lance’s dead wife Sonja whispers words of warning, he comes face to face with the murderer fresh from a kill. It’s only then he discovers it’s the murderer who’s stalking him. Lance wrestles with grim choices: Give up the chase and abandon his friends, or immerse himself in the killer’s dark past and risk annihilation. Lance’s only shot at redemption—face the horror and reveal its source.

Read an excerpt:

The Showing

 

Midday, and a crisp scent of fall fills the balmy air of late October. Sun-baked terrain has cooled, well below oven operating temperatures for several days in a row—the first time in nearly six months. Phoenix’s last Indian summer is finally laid to rest. Snowbirds and other migratory fowl flock to town, clogging the freeways and surface streets, swelling the resort hotels, RV parks, and the wallets of local merchants. A veritable desert paradise . . . almost, except for that fleshy, white underbelly that never sees the sun.

Crouched in the upscale suburb of Paradise Valley, a four-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bath contemporary ranch style sits vacant—its foyer littered with MLS flyers and Realtors’ business cards while dust bunnies breed in its corners. At the street, the “For Sale” sign declares it’s “Bank Owned”—a sign of hard times, blighting nearly fifty thousand homes in the Phoenix area alone.

Carla Simon fumbles with the lockbox’s key to open the empty house. Her hollow cheeks match the hunted look in her soft brown eyes. Nervously waiting in the foyer for her two o’clock showing, she smooths the front of her skirt with sweaty palms. It’s been a long time since she’s shown property—too long.

Carla waves vigorously, her greeting overly effusive as her prospect trudges up the walk. “Any trouble finding it?” she asks.

Her prospect seems distracted, answering, “No . . . no problem.”

Carla starts in, leading the way. “You’ll notice the hardwood flooring throughout the main living areas.”

They cross through the foyer.

As they enter the living room, her prospect suddenly grabs Carla from behind and pushes her face-first into the wall.

“OhMyGod! What are you doing!?!” Stunned, Carla struggles to make sense of it. This can’t be happening!

Her prospect spins Carla around, pinning her to the wall with a forearm. She stares at her attacker’s placid features in disbelief, frozen with terror. Her attacker’s wide eyes bore through her like red-hot lasers. Confusion scrambles her thoughts as she watches a hand rise over her head. Too late, Carla sees the gleam of a large hypodermic needle as it thrusts deep into her neck, penetrating the carotid artery. Carla’s eyes roll with panic as the stab of the big-bore needle pierces her throat, burning fluid swelling her neck.

Racing to the brain like a predator possessed, the poison’s fiery tendrils sizzle neurons, frying and then extinguishing cranial, optic and facial nerves. Burning numbness spreads, robbing Carla of all muscular control. Her eyelids droop as facial muscles go slack. Vision doubling, then blurring, then dark, the last image burned into the back of her fading retinas is her attacker’s retreat. Carla’s shrieks echo in empty rooms, soon to be stillborn in her useless larynx as paralysis sets in.

How is it possible? The ultimate betrayal. Her life had just started to turn around after all the hard work and struggle to regain her family, her career, her sanity. She needs to ask why, but deadened lips refuse to move.
Her dry mouth hangs open uselessly as her last breaths flutter from paralyzed lungs. Maybe she wasn’t meant to be happy. But why now? And why like this? Bladder and bowels let loose as her arms and legs go limp. She slides down the wall to slump into a spreading puddle of her own urine. Slowly tilting over, her torso topples to the floor. Her head, bouncing off the solid wood floor like a ripe melon.

No, No, NO!!!

Fully conscious while trapped in a cooling carcass, Carla screams hysterically to no avail; only silence and darkness ensue.

Pale moonlight floods vacant rooms, streaming through bare windows. The consciousness that was Carla Simon watches cold blue-white light creep across the hardwood floor to climb bare walls, exposing a swollen flyblown corpse. She’s lost all track of time. How many nights has it been? She tries to remember . . . where she is, how she got there. Hollow spots, holes, nothing there when she’s sure there must be. If only she could remember. Dr. Manson said there would be some confusion and short-term memory loss, common side effects of electroconvulsive therapy.
Melancholy haunts her as thoughts flit from question to question, too many loose ends. Did I lock the car? Did Howard make the house payment? Did Jimmy get his dinner?

A fine layer of dust coats the smooth planking, absorbing the lumber’s lustrous sheen. Dust motes gleam like tiny stars in the glowing blanket of moonlight that hugs the floor. Fragments whirl in Carla’s thoughts, fluttering like wounded birds. A to-do list half done, the white sheen of a prom dress, a plastic wristband from the hospital—shards of a shattered past, nothing left but scraps.

It’s so still she can almost hear the thrum of the cosmos, its pulse trembling at the edge of perception. The quiet house seems on the verge of telling her something, some deep revelation, a most intimate secret.

Something’s not quite right, but she dare not think about it. She’s certain that somehow it will miraculously all come to her and she’ll be okay.

Moonlight sifts through dust-streaked glass, exposing a void, an emptiness, as Carla absently reflects on her condition. But she’s been done with all her treatment for months now. Dr. Manson promised her it would be okay.

Cold light cuts through dead air with scalpel-like precision, illuminating tiny imperfections floating aimlessly in space. Yes, it will all be okay. Like gasping awake from a nightmare or coming to from a deep coma or a near-death experience—a grand mal seizure, like after an ECT treatment. Yet it has to be okay. How else could she still be seeing, hearing . . . thinking? It’s all just a bad dream, Carla’s sure she’ll wake up soon. Still, something’s not right. If only Dr. Manson had explained it to her, maybe then she’d understand. And she really needs to understand.

Wake-Up Call

 

Sixty miles northwest of Phoenix, just outside Wickenburg, it’s an unusually bright night for early November, the blood moon waxing full above a rugged mesa. A stiff breeze whips up into a gusty blow, kicking up dust and rolling tumbleweeds across the open desert to pile against long stretches of rusted barbwire fencing. As a lone coyote’s howl dies off, the cold wind moans, a bone-chilling song, echoing through the dry creosote and down the rocky ravines.

Gritty gusts vibrate the metal sheeting of an aging doublewide. Anchored against the elements, the weather-beaten trailer clings to a five-acre plot of raw desert. A ten-year-old Jeep Grand Cherokee is haphazardly parked nearby. The darkened trailer and old Jeep lie at the end of a narrow dirt track, the only evidence of civilization for miles.

And that’s fine with me. Just the way I like it. I’m snoring away in my new La-Z-Boy recliner, a half-empty longneck Bud sweating on the side table. A new fifty-two-inch flatscreen flashes digital images—my new surround-sound system, whispering the satellite TV’s endless monologue.

Dreaming, I catch my breath as a new reality unfolds:

A bright summer day, clear and hot. A large jet-black wasp appears overhead before I hear the hum of its Halloween-orange wings. A tarantula hawk headed straight for me. Flashes of raw panic. She’s enormous, big enough to carry me away. She lands in front of me, extending her hooked claws, wings flicking in anticipation. I rear back on hairy hind legs, baring my fangs and poking segmented forelegs at her in a valiant attempt to ward her off. She lunges, grappling with wicked claws, pulling me off balance and turning me over in one lightning-quick move. I flail wildly, arching my back, legs in the air, abdomen exposed and vulnerable. Holding fast, she thrusts her long black stinger deep into my belly, releasing her paralyzing venom. The shock-inducing sting slowly numbs me to the core as I silently scream from within its high-voltage spell. Her vile excretion robs me of all muscular control, leaving me to crackle in a hellish limbo. I can’t quite feel her dragging me away, but I fear the worst is yet to come.

A ringing in my head distracts me, growing louder, more insistent as the nightmare fades.

My cell phone’s obnoxious chirp drags me to semiconsciousness. I flail in my recliner, disoriented, trying to get my bearings. Grabbing my cell, I squint at the caller ID but can’t focus, my head spinning, drowning in dizziness.

The loud chirping stops and suddenly, it’s quiet. All that’s left is the ringing in my ears. As the ringing dies down, the dizziness fades. I decompress as the wind’s inhuman wail seeps through cracks in old weather stripping, competing with the TV’s mindless drone.

Thinking it through, it turns out the nightmare was more than just another bad dream. I know, having had more than my share. And “the worst is yet to come,” rings prophetic.

 

Q&A with Author

Writing and Reading:
Do you draw from personal experiences and/or current events?

Yes, I draw on both. The Lance Underphal mysteries are loosely based on real life experiences over a backdrop of current events extrapolated into a fictional reality.

Do you start with the conclusion and plot in reverse or start from the beginning and see where the story line brings you?

I start with an incident as an idea and throw together the basic plot and characters in the form of cryptic notes. I liken my process to my days as a jazz drummer—improvisation on a theme.

Your routine when writing?

I have to schedule my writing time. Otherwise, I’d never get to write.

Any idiosyncrasies?

Not so much, but I DO love to set the mood with music. The right piece of music is always a source of inspiration.

Is writing your full time job?

Yes. But so is book marketing and book publishing. Guess I’m the head cook and bottle washer of this outfit.

If not, may I ask what you do by day?

Additionally, I own and operate a commercial real estate company.

Who are some of your favorite authors?

I have a ton of favorites. Poe, HP Lovecraft, Asimov, Frank Herbert, Huxley, Heinlein are a few of the classic masters I love. When it comes to contemporary mystery, James Lee Burke and Michael Connelly are two of my faves.

What are you reading now?

Most of my reading these days is research for writing. However, here’s a few I’m reading now, mostly for fun: Creole Belle, by James Lee Burke; The Automatic Detective, by A. Lee Martinez; The Deep Blue Good-By, by John D. MacDonald; and Poe, by J. Lincoln Fenn.

Are you working on your next novel?

Two, actually. The 3rd in the series, Grey Daze, is with my editor now, and I’m nearly twenty thousand words into Operation: Cut-Throat, which will be the 4th Lance Underphal Mystery.

Can you tell us a little about it?

There are now three Grey Daze excerpts posted in my blog – http://michaelallanscott.com/blog/.

Operation: Cut-Throat adds elements of black-hat hacking, terrorism and international intrigue to the core elements of my paranormal murder mysteries. I can’t wait to see the ending, ha!

Fun questions:
Your novel will be a movie. Who would you cast?

In addition to Jack Nicholson or John Travolta as Lance Underphal, I’d cast Dwayne Johnson as Jake Jacobs.

Manuscript/Notes: handwritten or keyboard?

Keyboard, only. At sixty-four years of age, I don’t have enough time left to hand write anything.

Favorite leisure activity/hobby?

Leisure? What the hell is that? I spend my time creating . . .words and pictures—my joys.

Favorite meal?

Let me eat cake! CHOCOLATE cake! Yeah, baby! That’s what I’m talkin’ about!

Flight of the Tarantula Hawk – Book Trailer:

 

Author Bio:

Born and raised at the edge of the high desert in Kingman, Arizona, Michael Allan Scott resides in Scottsdale with his wife, Cynthia and their hundred-pound Doberman, Otto. In addition to writing mysteries and speculative fiction, his interests include music, photography, art, scuba diving and auto racing.

 

Tour Participants:


Giveaway:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Visit Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours and start reading the best new mysteries & thrillers today!