Mar 292017
 

Lisa Brunette

GUEST POST

What I’m Working on Next

I’m a ten-year veteran game writer, and right now I’m working on two unannounced projects for Daily Magic Games and Magic Tavern/Dreamics, and I’m in talks with G5 Entertainment about a third. So these projects will keep me busy for awhile, but on the side I’m working on a standalone novel, and I’m really excited about it.

The novel is based on an actual news report for an alleged murder committed in a town close to the one where I now live. A woman called 911 to report that she shot her husband in self-defense. At first, it looked like the evidence supported her claim, since both spouses’ guns were out. But then things began to look fishy. The husband was shot in the back, and someone cleaned the crime scene. I’m riveted by this. How does a woman with no priors or history of mental illness get to this point? That’s the question I’m attempting to answer in the novel.

Here’s the opening scene:

She pulled the bullet out of wall with Ron’s tweezers. They were big enough to reach in and grasp it. When she let the bullet drop into a pie tin she pulled from the pantry, it looked like a gold nugget. Dust billowed up when it hit the tin. Anna couldn’t remember the last time she’d baked a pie.

Good thing the spackling hadn’t dried out. She dug a finger in, scooping past the hardened surface, to the gooey mix underneath. She filled the hole, patting it with her finger like a kiss, the way Ron showed her once. That must have been when they remodeled the bathroom themselves. The upstairs bathroom, the one the two of them used, not the frilly pink one downstairs that the girls once adored and then came to make fun of when they were older.

She got the idea for the upstairs remodel from a magazine she bought at the convenience mart. Her coworker Kim would have stolen it, walked out with it under her jacket, which she did all the time, but not Anna, who’d been raised better than that.

Ron was getting blood all over the floor, making a mess. Anna could smell it, metallic and brassy hitting the back of her throat. Maybe that’s how the bullet would taste. But Anna didn’t have time for that. She’d have to let the spackling set while she cleaned Ron up, too. Luckily, the rug in the living room would work. She’d never liked it anyway.

I’m in the very early stages at this point on this new work, so I don’t yet have a publication date. Since indie-publishing the Dreamslippers Series over the last two years, I’ve had interest in my work from both Hollywood producers and literary agents. So rather than set a date on this new manuscript, I’ll be exploring traditional options. But first I have to finish it!

Readers can check back on my blog at www.lisa-brunette.com for excerpts and news on the book’s progress in the future.

By the way, I’ve used independent editors and a whole crew of BETA readers in the past, but this time, I’m a member of two different writing groups, both comprised of professional writers who take the craft seriously. One is entirely online; we share twenty pages each per month and send comments by email. The other is as small, with four or five of us again, but we meet in each other’s homes once per week, sharing five to seven pages at a time.

I’m looking forward to pushing my skills further with their help.

Author Bio:

Lisa was born in Santa Rosa, California, but that was only home for a year. A so-called “military brat,” she lived in nine different houses and attended nine different schools by the time she was 14. Through all of the moves, her one constant was books. She read everything, from the entire Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden mystery series to her mother’s books by Daphne DuMaurier and Taylor Caldwell.

A widely published author, game writer, and journalist, Lisa has interviewed homeless women, the designer of the Batmobile, and a sex expert, to name just a few colorful characters. This experience, not to mention her own large, quirky family, led her to create some truly memorable characters in her Dreamslippers Series and other works, whether books or games.

Always a vivid dreamer, not to mention a wannabe psychic, Lisa feels perfectly at home slipping into suspects’ dreams, at least in her imagination. Her husband isn’t so sure she can’t pick up his dreams in real life, though.

With a hefty list of awards and publications to her name, Lisa now lives in a small town in Washington State, but who knows how long that will last…

Lisa publishes a bimonthly newsletter. Sign up and receive a free book!

You can also visit Lisa on her Website 🔗, on Twitter 🔗, & at Facebook 🔗.

Check out my Review of CAT IN THE FLOCK here.

THE DREAMSLIPPERS SERIES

Click on titles below for synopsis via GR:
CAT IN THE FLOCK (Dreamslippers #1) Check out my review here.
FRAMED AND BURNING (Dreamslippers #2)
BOUND TO THE TRUTH(Dreamslippers #3)

Praise:

“A fascinating tale of mystery, romance, and what one woman’s dreams are made of. Brunette will keep you awake far into the night.” — Mary Daheim, bestselling author of the Bed-and-Breakfast and Emma Lord/Alpine mysteries

“Already hooked, this reader intends further sojourns in Cat’s dreamslipping world. Highly recommended.” — Frances Carden, Readers Lane

“Gripping, sexy and profound, CAT IN THE FLOCK is an excellent first novel. Lisa Brunette is an author to enjoy now and watch for the future.” — Jon Talton, author of the David Mapstone Mysteries, the Cincinnati Casebooks and the thriller Deadline Man

“A little Sue Grafton and a dose of Janet Evanovich… is just the right recipe for a promising new series.” — Rev. Eric O’del

“The launch of an intriguing female detective series… A mystery with an unusual twist and quirky settings; an enjoyable surprise for fans of the genre.” — Kirkus Reviews

AUTHOR OF THE MONTH ~ GIVEAWAY EXTRAVAGANZA


Entry link is located on the sidebar.

Read an excerpt:

Prologue

Sherrie marched into her daughter’s bedroom and dragged a child-sized roller bag suitcase out of the closet. The girl stood in the middle of the room, still in her pajamas. Milk from breakfast had dried around the edges of her lips.

“Ruthie,” the mother said. “I need you to get dressed. We’re going to take a…trip.” Sherrie tried to make her voice sound cheery, but the desperation she felt came through in her tone.

“What’s wrong, Mommy?”

Sherrie set the suitcase on the bed. The bubble- gum pink had once seemed innocent but now looked fleshy and indecent. She glanced at the clock over the bed. He’d been golfing for a good fifteen minutes by now, long enough for her to make sure he didn’t come back for a favorite club or the right gloves. She wanted to be on that morning flight by the time he got home and discovered them gone.

She flung open the chest of drawers and grabbed all of the girl’s socks and underwear, a pair of corduroy pants, black cotton tights, a sweater the color of a Midwestern sky. Nothing pink. Only warm things. Seattle in her memory was cold and wet. It was a grey city; grey clouds over grey buildings. Even the water was grey.

One doll would fit. Made of cloth, it could be folded in on itself and slid down the backside of the suitcase.

“Can I bring the ballerina skirt?”

Any other day, she would have corrected her daughter, who needed to learn the precise names of things. Tutu. There it was in the closet, hanging because it took up too much room in the drawer. She yanked it free, sending the hanger to the floor. Ordinarily, she would pick that up; her house was so clean it hurt her eyes with its spareness—as if theirs were a showroom house, not lived in. She left the hanger there, aware of the thrill this fraction of disobedience gave her. She shoved everything into the little pink case, but with the fluffy tulle taking up so much space, the zipper would not close. The choice was clear. The doll would be a comfort to Ruthie in Seattle, but the tutu would not.

“We’ll come back for this later,” she said, tossing the tutu onto the bed. The zipper closed, the sound of it satisfying.

“No, Mommy!” Ruthie stomped her foot. “I want it now!”

“Then you’re going to have to wear it. Now get dressed while I pack my clothes.” But she felt a pang of guilt for her reprimanding tone, and for having to leave the tutu. Bending down, she used her thumb to wipe some of the milk crust from her daughter’s face. “I’ll let you wear anything you want on this trip, okay, sweetheart? And clean your face with the cloth in the bathroom, like Mommy showed you.”

The girl nodded, as if sensing this was not the time for a tantrum.

Sherrie’s own packing, she did with even less consideration. Under things, shirts. A fleece hoodie. Warm socks. She remembered she needed layers in Seattle. Sometimes it could seem warm even though it rained and the sun had not come out for weeks. Her keepsakes in their tiny, locked chest would not fit. They were the only things she had to remind herself of her life before this, but she would have to leave them behind.

Sherrie kept watch on the clock and glanced out the window twice to make sure his car wasn’t out front even though she knew he wouldn’t be home for another hour. The sun had risen blood-red over the cornfields in the distance, lighting them as if on fire. She’d miss that. And she thought of thunderstorms, which seemed never to occur in Seattle. She’d miss those, too.

Ruthie appeared in the doorway. Her face was clean, but none of her clothes matched. She was wearing pink high-tops that seemed wrong for the city they were going to, the situation, and everything else, but she had apparently decided not to wear the tutu.

“Time to leave.” She took the girl’s hand, promising to herself she’d never let go.

Purchase Links: Amazon 🔗 | Barnes & Noble 🔗 | Goodreads 🔗

Mar 232017
 

The Echo Man

by Richard Montanari

on Tour March 20 – April 7, 2017

Synopsis:

The Echo Man by Richard Montanari

It is fall in Philadelphia and the mutilated body of a man has been found in one of the poorest neighborhoods of the city. The victim’s forehead and eyes are wrapped in a band of white paper, sealed on one side with red sealing wax. On the other side is a smear of blood in the shape of a figure eight. The victim has been roughly and violently shaved clean — head to toe — a temporary tattoo on his finger.

As another brutalized body appears, then another, it becomes horrifyingly clear that someone is re-creating unsolved murders from Philadelphia’s past in the most sinister of ways.

And, for homicide detectives Kevin Byrne and Jessica Balzano, the killer is closer than they think…

Praise:

“This tale had me gripped by the throat, unwilling to do anything but anxiously turn the pages. Richard Montanari’s writing is both terrifying and lyrical, a killer combination that makes him a true stand-out in the crowded thriller market. The Echo Man showcases a master storyteller at his very best.” -Tess Gerritsen, bestselling author of The Silent Girl

“Richard Montanari’s The Echo Man continues his work as a writer whose prose can capture quite extraordinary subtleties. When a man’s facial expression is described as “not the look of someone with nothing to hide, but rather of one who has very carefully hidden everything,” we know we are in good hands, and with The Echo Man, we are in the hands of one of the best in the business”. – Thomas H. Cook, bestselling author of Red Leaves

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery, Thriller
Published by: Witness Impulse
Publication Date: February 7th 2017 (first published January 1st 2011)
Number of Pages: 400
ISBN: 0062467425 (ISBN13: 9780062467423)
Series: Jessica Balzano & Kevin Byrne #5
Purchase Links: Amazon 🔗 | Barnes & Noble 🔗 | Goodreads 🔗

Read an excerpt:

For every light there is shadow. For every sound, silence. From the moment he got the call Detective Kevin Francis Byrne had a premonition this night would forever change his life, that he was headed to a place marked by a profound evil, leaving only darkness in its wake.

“You ready?”

Byrne glanced at Jimmy. Detective Jimmy Purify sat in the passenger seat of the bashed and battered department- issue Ford. He was just a few years older than Byrne, but something in the man’s eyes held deep wisdom, a hard- won experience that transcended time spent on the job and spoke instead of time earned. They’d known each other a long time, but this was their first full tour as partners.

“I’m ready,” Byrne said.

He wasn’t.

They got out of the car and walked to the front entrance of the sprawling, well- tended Chestnut Hill mansion. Here, in this exclusive section of the northwest part of the city, there was history at every turn, a neighborhood designed at a time when Philadelphia was second only to London as the largest English- speaking city in the world. The first officer on the scene, a rookie named Timothy Meehan, stood inside the foyer, cloistered by coats and hats and scarves perfumed with age, just beyond the reach of the cold autumn wind cutting across the grounds.

Byrne had been in Officer Meehan’s shoes a handful of years earlier and remembered well how he’d felt when detectives arrived, the tangle of envy and relief and admiration. Chances were slight that Meehan would one day do the job Byrne was about to do. It took a certain breed to stay in the trenches, especially in a city like Philly, and most uniformed cops, at least the smart ones, moved on.

Byrne signed the crime- scene log and stepped into the warmth of the atrium, taking in the sights, the sounds, the smells. He would never again enter this scene for the first time, never again breathe an air so red with violence. Looking into the kitchen, he saw a blood splattered killing room, scarlet murals on pebbled white tile, the torn flesh of the victim jigsawed on the floor.

While Jimmy called for the medical examiner and crime- scene unit, Byrne walked to the end of the entrance hall. The officer standing there was a veteran patrolman, a man of fifty, a man content to live without ambition. At that moment Byrne envied him. The cop nodded toward the room on the other side of the corridor.

And that was when Kevin Byrne heard the music.

She sat in a chair on the opposite side of the room. The walls were covered with a forest- green silk; the floor with an exquisite burgundy Persian. The furniture was sturdy, in the Queen Anne style. The air smelled of jasmine and leather.

Byrne knew the room had been cleared, but he scanned every inch of it anyway. In one corner stood an antique curio case with beveled glass doors, its shelves arrayed with small porcelain figurines. In another corner leaned a beautiful cello. Candlelight shimmered on its golden surface.

The woman was slender and elegant, in her late twenties. She had burnished russet hair down to her shoulders, eyes the color of soft copper. She wore a long black gown, sling- back heels, pearls. Her makeup was a bit garish— theatrical, some might say— but it flattered her delicate features, her lucent skin.

When Byrne stepped fully into the room the woman looked his way, as if she had been expecting him, as if he might be a guest for Thanksgiving dinner, some discomfited cousin just in from Allentown or Ashtabula. But he was neither. He was there to arrest her.

“Can you hear it?” the woman asked. Her voice was almost adolescent in its pitch and resonance.

Byrne glanced at the crystal CD case resting on a small wooden easel atop the expensive stereo component. Chopin: Nocturne in G Major. Then he looked more closely at the cello. There was fresh blood on the strings and fingerboard, as well as on the bow lying on the floor. Afterward, she had played.

The woman closed her eyes. “Listen,” she said. “The blue notes.”

Byrne listened. He has never forgotten the melody, the way it both lifted and shattered his heart.

Moments later the music stopped. Byrne waited for the last note to feather into silence. “I’m going to need you to stand up now, ma’am,” he said.

When the woman opened her eyes Byrne felt something flicker in his chest. In his time on the streets of Philadelphia he had met all types of people, from soulless drug dealers, to oily con men, to smash-and-grab artists, to hopped-up joyriding kids. But never before had he encountered anyone so detached from the crime they had just committed. In her light- brown eyes Byrne saw demons caper from shadow to shadow.

The woman rose, turned to the side, put her hands behind her back. Byrne took out his handcuffs, slipped them over her slender white wrists, and clicked them shut.

She turned to face him. They stood in silence now, just a few inches apart, strangers not only to each other, but to this grim pageant and all that was to come.

“I’m scared,” she said.

Byrne wanted to tell her that he understood. He wanted to say that we all have moments of rage, moments when the walls of sanity tremble and crack. He wanted to tell her that she would pay for her crime, probably for the rest of her life— perhaps even with her life— but that while she was in his care she would be treated with dignity and respect.

He did not say these things. “My name is Detective Kevin Byrne,” he said. “It’s going to be all right.” It was November 1, 1990. Nothing has been right since.

Excerpt from The Echo Man by Richard Montanari. Copyright © 2017 by Richard Montanari. Reproduced with permission from Witness Impulse. All rights reserved.

Richard Montanari

Author Bio:

Richard Montanari is the internationally bestselling author of numerous novels, including the nine titles in the Byrne & Balzano series.

He lives in Cleveland, Ohio.

INTERVIEW

Welcome!

Writing and Reading:
Do you draw from personal experiences and/or current events?
I’ve never taken a story from current events, or “ripped from the headlines” as they say on Law & Order. My novels are, for the most part, in a contemporary setting, so it’s impossible to avoid modern constructs in politics, technology, social movements. But because my villains tend to inhabit a deep internal part of their psyche they are, to a great extent, cut off from the modern world. It is in this internal landscape the novel is seeded.

Do you start with the conclusion and plot in reverse or start from the beginning and see where the story line brings you?
The first step in my process is always to determine the killer’s pathology. Why is he doing what he is doing? There are certain required steps in the writing of all procedurals — a body is found, police are called, investigators show up at the crime scene — so my main series characters need to be on their game early in the story. That’s the prevailing theory, anyway. Kevin Byrne, and to some extent Jessica Balzano, don’t always play by the rules. This is certainly true of my killers. Once I know what motivates my villain, and through what prism he views the world, the story begins to take shape.

Are any of your characters based on you or people that you know?
The two main characters, Kevin Byrne and Jessica Balzano, are composites of police detectives I know. Externally, the character of Kevin Byrne was a little easier to research — there are a lot of men in the homicide unit who have more than twenty years on the job. Jessica was more of a challenge because there are still not a lot of women homicide detectives. I’ve heard from a number of people in Philadelphia’s police and legal systems who say they recognize minor characters in my books. I always change the names, mostly because a lot of these people are heavily armed.

Your routine when writing? Any idiosyncrasies?
Nothing too strange. I never begin a book without a working title in mind, and I begin each day’s session on the title page. I’ve found that this helps to both fuel the narrative and keep it on track.

Tell us why we should read this book.
In all my books I try to bring readers into new worlds. These may be worlds with which readers are somewhat familiar, but I try to shine a light in a dark corner of that world and hopefully illuminate something new. I have an interest in cinema, carnivals, magic, classical music, the rites and rituals of the Catholic Church, fairy tales, Russian folklore — all topics I have explored in my work. I begin each novel with the premise, and hope, that I will learn new things, and in turn take the reader on a brief journey of discovery.

Who are some of your favorite authors?
James M. Cain, Shirley Jackson, Richard Price, Thomas H. Cook, Jim Thompson, Thomas Harris, Ira Levin.

What are you reading now?
I don’t read a lot of fiction when I’m writing. My TBR pile spilleth over. I’m in research mode for the next Byrne and Balzano novel, and am reading a lot of old medical texts.

Are you working on your next novel? Can you tell us a little about it?
I’ve just completed a very twisted story of small-town murder entitled THE LAST GIRL. Next will be the tenth novel in my Philadelphia series, which marks the return of Kevin Byrne and Jessica Balzano.

Fun questions:
Your novel will be a movie. Who would you cast?
The Byrne/Balzano books are currently being considered for both a feature film and a TV series. I would hate to jinx the process with my suggestions. I would love to hear from readers about their casting ideas!

Favorite leisure activity/hobby?
I am a film buff, as well as a devotee to all the technologies of home theater. Right now, OLED is my passion. I also love to cook.

Favorite meal?
This changes every night around seven PM. Fresh pasta or tempura when I have time. A slow cooker when a book is due.

Thank you for stopping by CMash Reads and spending time with us.

My pleasure!

Catch Up With Our Author On:
Website 🔗, Goodreads 🔗, Twitter 🔗, & Facebook 🔗!

Tour Participants:

Don’t forget to check out these other stops – they’ll be featuring reviews, interviews & More giveaways!


Giveaway:

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Richard Montanari and Harper Collins. There will be 5 winners of one (1) eBook copy of The Echo Man by Richard Montanari. The giveaway begins on March 20th and runs through April 9th, 2017.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Get More Great Reads at Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours

Mar 222017
 

Lisa Brunette

GUEST POST

The Book-Body Connection:
How One Author Integrated Body and Story

I wrote Cat in the Flock, the first book in the Dreamslippers Series, around an incredibly demanding full-time job as a game writer, with twelve-hour days spent sitting at a computer, either playing through or writing and editing games. To counteract all that chair time, I kept up a yoga practice. And that practice crept into the story I wrote in Cat in the Flock.

The plot centers on Cat McCormick, a recent college grad with a unique psychic ability: to slip into other people’s dreams. Her grandmother shares the ability and has used it as a private investigator. Cat enters into an apprenticeship with Grandmother Grace, but this means more than honing her dreamslipping skill; Grace is a lifetime practitioner of yoga, meditation, and other disciplines as well and uses them in tandem with her psychic ability.

At age 77 when the series opens, “Granny” Grace is a master on the mat:

Cat followed her grandmother in a series of sun salutations: downward dog, a lunge forward with one leg, and a standing salute to the sun. Then Granny Grace moved into crow pose, crouching forward till her knees touched her upper arms and then lifting her legs so her whole body was balanced on her arms. Cat couldn’t do that pose yet, so she sat in a wide-legged squat, watching her grandmother with admiration.

If you think this is pure fiction, think again. The inspiration for Grace came from the real-life examples I’ve read about and witnessed in my own life of women who’ve chosen movement practices that give them impressive longevity and vitality.

Grace draws upon the moving meditation of yoga when seeking insight into their criminal cases as well. In Framed and Burning, the second book in the series, she experiences a foreboding vision while practicing yoga on the beach in Miami:

And there, holding that pose, it was as if an energy whispered to her. She closed her eyes to hear it better, tuning it in. The energy was dark and red, vibrating to some frequency that wasn’t positive. She thought she heard the sound of large wings beating. Her eyes flew open. Breathing hard, losing her ujaiyi breath, she carefully extracted herself from the pose and took a resting pose on her knees, her hands in her lap. The place where her heart chakra should be ached.

Spiritfire came over to her and whispered, “Are you okay?”

Grace nodded. “I need a minute.”

“Ustrasana, camel pose, can reveal so much,” he said. “And it’s not always pleasant.”

She nodded again, rubbing the space that ached. It was an emotional ache, not a physical one. And it had to do with whoever set that first fire. The energy there was intensely negative, not accidental.

I loved writing about yoga in this way as much as I enjoyed the practice itself. But by the time I began to write the third novel in the series, I’d suffered a yoga heartbreak.

After a lifetime battle with scoliosis that often brought me pain both on and off the mat, I had to stop practicing yoga. Because yoga so often relies on arm-balance poses based on the classic downward dog and more advanced poses, I found it tough to modify around severe pain in my left shoulder. Since writing takes such a toll on the body, I felt bereft, not having a practice I could count on to undo the damage of sitting, typing, and using the mouse for long stretches at a time.

The experience forced me to acknowledge limitations, as well as the need to heal. While we all want to be Granny Grace showing up the twentysomethings at age 77, the fact is that conditions like scoliosis present challenges that can lead to frustration and chronic pain if pushed, or ignored.

I decided to try a different movement practice, one that promised to focus on self-healing and the joy of movement. Nia is a barefoot, non-impact dance that can be done by anyone at any level of fitness or with virtually any condition. The healing was slow and utterly worth it. Which is not to say that my spine miraculously straightened or I can do backflips, but I have better strength, flexibility, and mobility, as well as a growing awareness of what my body really needs.

With this experience as my inspiration, I challenged myself to confront the body’s limitations and ways of healing in my writing, within the “Amazing” Grace storyline.

So in book three, Bound to the Truth, our master yogi suffers an injury.

It’s one that would be considered “debilitating” by most. But like me, Grace discovers the healing aspects of dance. In the end, it becomes life-changing for her, in the most positive ways imaginable, bringing her a new movement practice that will carry her through the rest of her life as well as a love unlike any she’s ever experienced before, over a lifetime of fleeting romances.

Author Bio:

Lisa was born in Santa Rosa, California, but that was only home for a year. A so-called “military brat,” she lived in nine different houses and attended nine different schools by the time she was 14. Through all of the moves, her one constant was books. She read everything, from the entire Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden mystery series to her mother’s books by Daphne DuMaurier and Taylor Caldwell.

A widely published author, game writer, and journalist, Lisa has interviewed homeless women, the designer of the Batmobile, and a sex expert, to name just a few colorful characters. This experience, not to mention her own large, quirky family, led her to create some truly memorable characters in her Dreamslippers Series and other works, whether books or games.

Always a vivid dreamer, not to mention a wannabe psychic, Lisa feels perfectly at home slipping into suspects’ dreams, at least in her imagination. Her husband isn’t so sure she can’t pick up his dreams in real life, though.

With a hefty list of awards and publications to her name, Lisa now lives in a small town in Washington State, but who knows how long that will last…

Lisa publishes a bimonthly newsletter. Sign up and receive a free book!

You can also visit Lisa on her Website 🔗, on Twitter 🔗, & at Facebook 🔗.

Lisa will be back on March 29nd….Don’t miss the 5th, and final, installment for Author Of The Month and get a sneak peek for what’s next!!

Check out my Review of CAT IN THE FLOCK here.

THE DREAMSLIPPERS SERIES

Click on titles below for synopsis via GR:
CAT IN THE FLOCK (Dreamslippers #1) Check out my review here.
FRAMED AND BURNING (Dreamslippers #2)
BOUND TO THE TRUTH(Dreamslippers #3)

Praise:

“A fascinating tale of mystery, romance, and what one woman’s dreams are made of. Brunette will keep you awake far into the night.” — Mary Daheim, bestselling author of the Bed-and-Breakfast and Emma Lord/Alpine mysteries

“Already hooked, this reader intends further sojourns in Cat’s dreamslipping world. Highly recommended.” — Frances Carden, Readers Lane

“Gripping, sexy and profound, CAT IN THE FLOCK is an excellent first novel. Lisa Brunette is an author to enjoy now and watch for the future.” — Jon Talton, author of the David Mapstone Mysteries, the Cincinnati Casebooks and the thriller Deadline Man

“A little Sue Grafton and a dose of Janet Evanovich… is just the right recipe for a promising new series.” — Rev. Eric O’del

“The launch of an intriguing female detective series… A mystery with an unusual twist and quirky settings; an enjoyable surprise for fans of the genre.” — Kirkus Reviews

AUTHOR OF THE MONTH ~ GIVEAWAY EXTRAVAGANZA


Entry link is located on the sidebar.

Read an excerpt:

Prologue

Sherrie marched into her daughter’s bedroom and dragged a child-sized roller bag suitcase out of the closet. The girl stood in the middle of the room, still in her pajamas. Milk from breakfast had dried around the edges of her lips.

“Ruthie,” the mother said. “I need you to get dressed. We’re going to take a…trip.” Sherrie tried to make her voice sound cheery, but the desperation she felt came through in her tone.

“What’s wrong, Mommy?”

Sherrie set the suitcase on the bed. The bubble- gum pink had once seemed innocent but now looked fleshy and indecent. She glanced at the clock over the bed. He’d been golfing for a good fifteen minutes by now, long enough for her to make sure he didn’t come back for a favorite club or the right gloves. She wanted to be on that morning flight by the time he got home and discovered them gone.

She flung open the chest of drawers and grabbed all of the girl’s socks and underwear, a pair of corduroy pants, black cotton tights, a sweater the color of a Midwestern sky. Nothing pink. Only warm things. Seattle in her memory was cold and wet. It was a grey city; grey clouds over grey buildings. Even the water was grey.

One doll would fit. Made of cloth, it could be folded in on itself and slid down the backside of the suitcase.

“Can I bring the ballerina skirt?”

Any other day, she would have corrected her daughter, who needed to learn the precise names of things. Tutu. There it was in the closet, hanging because it took up too much room in the drawer. She yanked it free, sending the hanger to the floor. Ordinarily, she would pick that up; her house was so clean it hurt her eyes with its spareness—as if theirs were a showroom house, not lived in. She left the hanger there, aware of the thrill this fraction of disobedience gave her. She shoved everything into the little pink case, but with the fluffy tulle taking up so much space, the zipper would not close. The choice was clear. The doll would be a comfort to Ruthie in Seattle, but the tutu would not.

“We’ll come back for this later,” she said, tossing the tutu onto the bed. The zipper closed, the sound of it satisfying.

“No, Mommy!” Ruthie stomped her foot. “I want it now!”

“Then you’re going to have to wear it. Now get dressed while I pack my clothes.” But she felt a pang of guilt for her reprimanding tone, and for having to leave the tutu. Bending down, she used her thumb to wipe some of the milk crust from her daughter’s face. “I’ll let you wear anything you want on this trip, okay, sweetheart? And clean your face with the cloth in the bathroom, like Mommy showed you.”

The girl nodded, as if sensing this was not the time for a tantrum.

Sherrie’s own packing, she did with even less consideration. Under things, shirts. A fleece hoodie. Warm socks. She remembered she needed layers in Seattle. Sometimes it could seem warm even though it rained and the sun had not come out for weeks. Her keepsakes in their tiny, locked chest would not fit. They were the only things she had to remind herself of her life before this, but she would have to leave them behind.

Sherrie kept watch on the clock and glanced out the window twice to make sure his car wasn’t out front even though she knew he wouldn’t be home for another hour. The sun had risen blood-red over the cornfields in the distance, lighting them as if on fire. She’d miss that. And she thought of thunderstorms, which seemed never to occur in Seattle. She’d miss those, too.

Ruthie appeared in the doorway. Her face was clean, but none of her clothes matched. She was wearing pink high-tops that seemed wrong for the city they were going to, the situation, and everything else, but she had apparently decided not to wear the tutu.

“Time to leave.” She took the girl’s hand, promising to herself she’d never let go.

Purchase Links: Amazon 🔗 | Barnes & Noble 🔗 | Goodreads 🔗

Mar 172017
 

A Ghostly Mortality

by Tonya Kappes

on Tour February 28 – March 30, 2017

Synopsis:

A Ghostly Mortality

That ghost sure looks . . . familiar

Only a handful of people know that Emma Lee Raines, proprietor of a small-town Kentucky funeral home, is a “Betweener.” She helps ghosts stuck between here and the ever-after—murdered ghosts. Once Emma Lee gets them justice they can cross over to the great beyond.

But Emma Lee’s own sister refuses to believe in her special ability. In fact, the Raines sisters have barely gotten along since Charlotte Rae left the family business for the competition. After a doozy of an argument, Emma Lee is relieved to see Charlotte Rae back home to make nice. Until she realizes her usually snorting, sarcastic, family-ditching sister is a… ghost.

Charlotte Rae has no earthly idea who murdered her or why. With her heart in tatters, Emma Lee relies more than ever on her sexy beau, Sheriff Jack Henry Ross…because this time, catching a killer means the Raines sisters will have to make peace with each other first.

Book Details:

Genre: Cozy Mystery, Paranormal

Published by: Witness

Publication Date: February 28th 2017

Number of Pages: 336

ISBN: 0062466976 (ISBN13: 9780062466976)

Series: Ghostly Southern Mysteries #6

Purchase Links: Amazon 🔗 | Barnes & Noble 🔗 | Goodreads 🔗

Read an excerpt:

Lawdy bee.” Granny scooted to the edge of the chair and lifted her arms in the air like she was worshiping in the Sunday morning service at Sleepy Hollow Baptist and the spirit just got put in her.

I sucked in a deep breath, preparing myself for whatever was going to come out of Zula Fae Raines Payne’s mouth, my granny. She was a ball of southern spitfire in her five-foot-four-inch frame topped off with bright red hair that I wasn’t sure was real or out of a L’Oréal bottle she’d gotten down at the Buy-N-Fly.

“Please, please, please,” she begged. “Let me die before anything happens to Emma Lee.” Her body slid down the fancy, high-back mahogany leather chair as she fell to her knees with her hands clasped together, bringing them back up in the air as she pleaded to the Big Guy in the sky. “I’m begging you.”

“Are you nuts?” My voice faded to a hushed stillness. I glanced back at the closed door of my sister’s new office, in fear she was going to walk in and see Granny acting up. I sat in the other fancy, high-back mahogany leather chair next to Granny’s and grabbed her by the loose skin of her underarm. “Get back up on this chair before Charlotte Rae gets back in here and sees you acting like a fool.”

“What?” Granny quirked her eyebrows questioningly as if her behavior was normal. My head dropped along with my jaw in the “are you kidding me” look.

“Well, I ain’t lying!” She spat, “I do hope and pray you are the granddaughter that will be doing my funeral, unless you get a flare up of the ‘Funeral Trauma.’ ” She sucked in a deep breath and got up off her knees. She ran her bony fingers down the front of her cream sweater to smooth out any wrinkles so she’d be presentable like a good southern woman, forgetting she was just on her knees begging for mercy.

“Flare up?” I sighed with exasperation. “It’s not like arthritis.”

The “Funeral Trauma.” It was true. I was diagnosed with the “Funeral Trauma” after a decorative plastic Santa fell off the roof of Artie’s Meat and Deli, knocking me flat out cold and now I could see dead people. I had told Doc Clyde I was having some sort of hallucinations and seeing dead people, but he insisted I had been in the funeral business a little too long and seeing corpses all of my life had brought on the trauma. Truthfully, the Santa had given me a gift. Not a gift you’d expect Santa to give you, but it was the gift of seeing clients of Eternal Slumber, my family’s funeral home business where I was the undertaker. Some family business. Anyway, a psychic told me I was now a Betweener. I helped people who were stuck between here and the ever after. The Great Beyond. The Big Guy in the sky. One catch . . . the dead people I saw were murdered and they needed me to help them solve their murder before they could cross over.

“I’m fine,” I huffed and took the pamphlet off of Charlotte Rae’s desk, keeping my gift to myself. The only people who knew were me, the psychic and Sheriff Jack Henry Ross, my hot, hunky and sexy boyfriend. He was as handy as a pocket on a shirt when it came time for me to find a killer when a ghost was following me around. “We are here to get her to sign my papers and talk about this sideboard issue once and for all.” Granny stared at me.

My head slid forward like a turtle and I popped my eyes open.

“I’m fine,” I said through closed teeth.

“You are not fine.” Granny rolled her eyes so big, I swear she probably hurt herself. “People are still going around talking about how you talk to yourself.” She shook her finger at me. “If you don’t watch it, you are going to be committed. Surrounded by padded walls. Then—She jabbed her finger on my arm. I swatted her away with the pamphlet.

“Charlotte Rae will have full control over my dead body and I don’t want someone celebrating a wedding while I lay corpse in the next room. Lawdy bee,” Granny griped. I opened the pamphlet and tried to ignore Granny as best I could.

“Do you hear me, Emma Lee?” Granny asked. I could feel her beady eyes boring into me.

“Don’t you be disrespecting your elders. I asked you a question,” she warned when I didn’t immediately answer her question.

“Granny.” I placed the brochure in my lap and reminded myself to remain calm. Something I did often when it came to my granny. “I hear you. Don’t you worry about a thing. By the time you get ready to die, they will have you in the nut-house alongside me,” I joked, knowing it would get her goat. The door flung open and the click of Charlotte Rae’s high-dollar heels tapped the hardwood floor as she sashayed her way back into her office. The soft linen green suit complemented Charlotte’s sparkly green eyes and the chocolate scarf that was neatly tied around her neck. It was the perfect shade of brown to go with her long red hair and pale skin.

“I’m so sorry about that.” She stopped next to our chairs and looked between me and Granny. She shook the long, loose curls over her shoulders. “What? What is wrong, now?”

“Granny is all worried I’m going to get sent away to the nuthouse and you are going to lay her out here.” The words tumbled out of my mouth before I could stop them. Or did my subconscious take over my mouth? It was always a competition between me and Charlotte, only it was one-sided. Mine. Charlotte never viewed me as competition because she railroaded me all my life. Like now. She’d left Eternal Slumber with zero guilt, leaving me in charge so she could make more money at Hardgrove’s Legacy Center, formerly known as Hardgrove’s Funeral Homes until they got too big for their britches and decided to host every life event possible just to make more money.

Excerpt from A Ghostly Mortality by Tonya Kappes. Copyright © 2017 by Tonya Kappes. Reproduced with permission from Witness. All rights reserved.

Author Bio:

Tonya KappesTonya Kappes has written more than fifteen novels and four novellas, all of which have graced numerous bestseller lists including USA Today. Best known for stories charged with emotion and humor and filled with flawed characters, her novels have garnered reader praise and glowing critical reviews. She lives with her husband, two very spoiled schnauzers, and one ex-stray cat in northern Kentucky. Now that her boys are teenagers, Tonya writes full-time but can be found at all of her guys’ high school games with a pencil and paper in hand.

Catch Up with Tonya Kappes on her Website 🔗, Twitter 🔗, & Facebook 🔗

Tour Participants:

Giveaway:

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours for Tonya Kappes and Witness Impulse. There will be 1 US winner of one PRINTED set of The Ghostly Southern Mysteries #1-6 by Tonya Kappes. The giveaway begins on February 27th and runs through April 2nd, 2017.

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Mar 142017
 

Regeneration
by Stacey Berg
on Tour March 13-April 1, 2017

Book Details
Genre: Sci-Fi
Published by: Harper Voyager
Publication Date: March 14th 2017
Number of Pages: 384
Series: Echo Hunter 367, #2
Purchase Links:

Synopsis:

The Church has stood for hundreds of years, preserving the sole surviving city in a desert wasteland. When Echo Hunter 367 is sent out past the Church’s farthest outposts, she’s sure it’s a suicide mission. But just when she’s about to give up hope, she finds the impossible – another thriving community, lush and green, with a counsel of leaders who take her in.

Wary of this new society, with ways so different from the only life she’s ever known, Echo is determined to complete her mission and bring hope back to the Church. She’s unsure who she can trust, and must be strong and not be seduced by their clean, fresh water, and plentiful energy sources. If she plays her cards right, she may even still have a chance to save the woman she loves.

Read an excerpt:

Echo Hunter 367 studied the dying woman in the desert with grudging admiration. The woman had walked long past what might reasonably be expected, if that lurching stagger could be called a walk. When she couldn’t walk any more she had crawled, and after that she had dragged herself along, fingers clawing through sand until they clutched some purchase, body scraping over rocks and debris, heedless of the damage. Now and then she made a noise, a purely animal grunt of effort or pain, but she forced herself onward, all the way until the end.

I smell the water.

Desperate as the woman was, she had still been cautious. Though an incalculable distance from any familiar place, she still recognized danger: the wind-borne sand that scoured exposed skin clean to the bone, the predators that stalked patiently in the shadows for prey too weak to flee. The cliff edge that a careless girl could slip over, body suspended in space for the briefest moment before her hands tore through the thornbush, then the long hard fall.

Echo jerked back from that imagined edge. It was her last purposeful movement. From some great height, she watched herself collapse in the sand. One grasping hand, nails torn, knuckles bloody, landed only a few meters from the spring’s cool water, but she never knew it. For a little while her body twitched in irregular spasms, then those too stilled. Only her lips moved, cracking into a bloody smile. “Lia,” she whispered. “Lia.” Then she fell into the dark.

For a long time there was no sound except water trickling in a death rattle over stones.

Then the high whine of engines scattered the circling predators. Pain returned first, of course. Every inch of skin burned, blistered by sun or rubbed raw by the sand that had worked its way inside the desert-proof clothing. Her muscles ached from too long an effort with no fuel and insufficient water, and her head pounded without mercy. Even the movement of air in and out of her lungs hurt, as if she had inhaled fire. But that pain meant she was breathing, and if she was breathing she still had to fight. With enormous effort she dragged open her eyes, only to meet a blinding brightness. She made a sound, and tasted hot salt as her lips cracked open again. “Shhh,” a soft voice said. “Shhh.” Something cool, smelling of resin and water, settled over her eyes, shielding them from the glare. A cloth dabbed at her mouth, then a finger smoothed ointment over her lips, softening them so they wouldn’t split further when she was finally able to speak. Lia, she thought, letting herself rest in that gentle strength until the pain subsided into manageable inputs. Then she began to take stock.

She lay on something soft, not the rock that had made her bed for so many weeks, although her abused flesh still ached at every pressure point. The air felt cool but still, unlike the probing desert wind, and it carried, beyond the herbal tang, a scent rich and round, unlike the silica sharpness of sand she’d grown so accustomed to. Filtered through the cloth over her eyes, the light seemed diffuse, too dim for the sun. Indoors, then, and not a temporary shelter, but a place with thick walls, and a bed, and someone with sufficient resources to retrieve a dying woman from the desert, and a reason to do so. But what that reason might be eluded her. The Church would never rescue a failure.

Unless the Saint commanded it.

She mustered all her strength and dragged the cloth from her eyes. She blinked away grit until the blurred oval hovering above her took on distinct features, the soft line of the cheek, the gently curving lips. Lia, she thought again, and in her weakness tears washed the vision away. She wiped her eyes with a trembling hand.

And stared into the face of an utter stranger.

Excerpt from Regeneration by Stacey Berg. Copyright © 2017 by Stacey Berg. Reproduced with permission from Harper Voyager. All rights reserved.

Stacey Berg

Author Bio:

Stacey Berg is a medical researcher who writes speculative fiction. Her work as a physician-scientist provides the inspiration for many of her stories. She lives with her wife in Houston and is a member of the Writers’ League of Texas. When she’s not writing, she practices kung fu and runs half marathons.

Visit Stacey Berg on her Website, Goodreads Page, and on Twitter!

Q&A with Stacey Berg

Writing and Reading:
Do you draw from personal experiences and/or current events?
I don’t draw from current events on purpose, but I can certainly tell that I’m influenced by what’s going on in the world around me. Regeneration is full of characters struggling to understand whom to trust and what to believe about the turmoil in their society. As for personal experience, I don’t directly put my own experiences into stories, but when I’m figuring out how a character would feel or act, I try to find analogies in my experience and work from there.

Do you start with the conclusion and plot in reverse or start from the beginning and see where the story line brings you?
I have to know how the story ends—not necessarily the actions, but the emotional arc for the main characters. And I usually know roughly where the story starts. In between—well, I would love to be a more efficient plotter, but most of the time I finish a scene and ask myself what would logically happen next (that would be interesting), how that could steer the story towards the climax, and that’s the way the story goes. In revisions I spend a lot of time making sure that the plot events, character development, and story themes are as tightly integrated as I can make them.

Are any of your characters based on you or people that you know?
Nope  Although I will admit that sometimes I use famous people as a sort of body double for certain characters until I can get a proper hold on them. For example, former President Jimmy Carter stood in for one of the characters in Dissension, the prequel to Regeneration, until that person came to life on his own for me.

Your routine when writing? Any idiosyncrasies?
I get up very early and write before work. I really try to be consistent; otherwise I feel like it takes me too long to get my head back into the story when I’ve been away from it for more than a day or two. I don’t know if this counts as an idiosyncrasy, but when I’m brainstorming I really like to do it with a medium point gel pen in a spiral notebook, while when I’m actually writing, I much prefer to type on my computer.

Tell us why we should read this book.
If you like character-driven science fiction with a fast-moving plot and strong women characters, I hope Regeneration (and Dissension) will appeal to you.

Who are some of your favorite authors?
I love this question! I could go on for a long time, but I’ll try to keep the list short so it fits in the space. Phillip Pullman. CJ Cherryh. Patricia McKillip. Peter O’Donnell, who wrote the Modesty Blaise books. Alastair MacLean. Not only do I love these authors’ books, but I spend a lot of time dissecting how they do the things I love, so that I can write better myself.

What are you reading now?
I just started a book called The Voices Within, a nonfiction book about our internal narrative and stream of thought. It’s fascinating and I’m very curious to learn more about the stories we’re all constantly telling ourselves.

Are you working on your next novel? Can you tell us a little about it?
I am working on my next novel. It’s speculative fiction, set in a very different world from the Echo Hunter 367 books, but I think there’s going to be a similar underlying feel. It’s still early days, though, and I’m afraid if I say too much too soon, it will break.

Fun questions:
Your novel will be a movie. Who would you cast?
Halle Berry! (Lots of Halle Berrys, since there are clones). Actually this is a tough one for me. I know lots of writers “cast” their characters in their heads to make it easier to visualize them, but that doesn’t work for me. In fact, I think the most interesting thing about having a movie made from the books would be to find out how the director envisions the characters. You can never really tell if a reader is seeing what you are.

Favorite leisure activity/hobby?
Walking on the beach is my favorite thing—any beach, anywhere; although the US mid-Atlantic coast is the “real” beach to me.

Favorite meal?
I love food! For sentimental reasons, the tasting meal where my wife and I picked the dishes for our wedding dinner was my favorite meal ever. On any given day, what would I most like to eat? Pizza from Mineo’s in Pittsburgh. There’s nothing like it.

Tour Host Participants:

Visit the other stops on this tour for reviews, interviews, guest posts, and more great giveaways!!


Giveaway!!

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Providence Book Promotions for Stacey Berg and Harper Voyager. There will be 3 winners of one (1) eBook copy of Dissension by Stacey Berg. The giveaway begins on March 13th and runs through April 4th, 2017.

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