Nov 062019
 

The Fixer: The Last Romanov by Jill Amy Rosenblatt Banner

 

 

The Fixer:

The Last Romanov

by Jill Amy Rosenblatt

on Tour October 21 – November 23, 2019

Synopsis:

The Last Romanov by Jill Amy Rosenblatt

“My name is Katerina Mills. Make sure I disappear.”

Katerina Mills is getting out . . .

Desperate to escape a psychotic former client, a vengeful mobster, and a dirty DEA agent, professional “fixer” Kat Mills is ready to drop out and disappear.

She doesn’t trust her employer, the shadowy MJM Consulting, but Katerina can’t say no to one last job for the biggest score yet, enough money to get lost for good… until the client asks the impossible…

Dmitry Zilinsky claims he is a direct descendant of Russia’s last Tsar, Nicholas II, and he demands Katerina steal the item that will prove it.

Kat must get the job done or she can’t make her escape. But when professional thief Alexander Winter reappears in her life, Katerina Mills faces a new choice: go it alone or risk everything to be with the one person she doesn’t want to live without?

Book Details:

Genre: Suspense, Thriller
Published by: Jill Amy Rosenblatt
Publication Date: October 22, 2019
Number of Pages: 692
ISBN: 978-1-7332560-0-1
Series: The Fixer #3
Purchase Links: Amazon Goodreads

 

Author Bio:

Jill Amy Rosenblatt

Jill Amy Rosenblatt is the author of The Fixer (Katerina Mills) series. The Last Romanov is the third book in the series. Book 2, The Killing Kind, was the 2017 Beverly Hills Book Award Winner for Suspense. She previously published Project Jennifer and For Better or Worse through Kensington Press. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in Writing and Literature and her Masters Degree in Literature and Creative Writing from Burlington College in Vermont. She lives on Long Island and is currently at work on book four of The Fixer series, The Good Criminal.

Q&A with Jill Amy Rosenblatt

Welcome and thank you for stopping by CMash Reads

What inspired you to write this book?

The Fixer: The Last Romanov is the third book in The Fixer series. Katerina Mills’ story continues to grow and change and I’m excited to see where her journey is headed. I’m always surprised and humbled after so much time and work to see the final product. I was so excited to hold the paperback ARC in my hand!

What was the biggest challenge in writing this book?

There were a few things. The first was simply getting enough time to sit down and write the book. I work a day job that demands a lot so it’s not easy to have the time or energy to write at the end of the workday. Second, several storylines continue throughout the books and it’s important to double check all the details and make sure all the elements are correct. Sometimes I have to force myself to slow down! Sometimes, a scene won’t sit right with me and it’s in those moments I have to force myself to stop and think about it for a few days until I find what’s bothering me and then go back and do rewrites.

Give us a glimpse of the research that went into this book.

A ton of research goes into every book. I am so lucky to have a lovely group of kind people who give their time and expertise to answer my questions about topics such as Russian history and language translation, police procedural, forensics, Italian and Spanish translation, Carl Faberge, Balboa Island, the Romanovs, and other topics. I also spend a lot of time reading books, articles, looking at photographs, and searching the Internet to make sure if I’m mentioning something in the book, I have done my homework.

How did you come up with the title?

The title came out of one of the plotlines of the book; it refers to Kat’s client.

Your routine in writing? Any idiosyncrasies?

Lots of idiosyncrasies!! I work very loose, mostly because I’m afraid if I put any pressure on myself, I will fall into another bout of writer’s block! I don’t do anything in particular; my characters are running wild and I’m just writing it all down! Whatever plot point comes to mind, even if it’s for a later book in the series, that’s what I think about. If I don’t need the scene for the current book, I just make notes and keep it for later.

I write the first draft in long hand in pencil; I can only write in journal books. I do have a list of scenes I think I will be using but the story changes so many times through the process. When I sit down to write, I write whatever scene comes to mind; when the journal books are filled and I feel I’m finished, all the scenes are out of order so I have to make new lists to put it in the right sequence. It’s messy and disorganized but it works for me so I would never try to do it differently; I would be afraid I would cause a problem.

Tell us why we should read your book?

The Fixer series is written to be fast-paced and action-packed. There is a cast of recurring supporting characters I hope readers will enjoy seeing in each book. I think Katerina is a character that readers can root for as she struggles with her own ethics and values vs. the decisions she must make to survive this dark, dangerous world. There’s a romance too!

Are you working on your next novel? If so, can you tell us a little bit about it?

I will be starting shortly on book four of the series, The Fixer: The Good Criminal. Katerina is in a very tough spot and she will need to step up her game to get out of the mess she’s in. She’ll need more than a little help from her friends, too.

Fun Questions:

Your novel will be a movie. You would you cast?

Love this question!! Jennifer Lawrence as Katerina, Max Martini as professional thief Alexander Winter, Daniel Craig as mysterious client Thomas Gallagher, James Badge Dale as fellow thief Daniel Clay, and Sebastian Stan as Detective Ryan Kellan.

Favorite leisure activities/hobbies?

I like to draw. I have an interest in computer art/animation; I’m trying to learn. I’m currently taking Italian lessons, and of course I love to read. I’m also a big ice hockey fan so I will be trying to find time to watch the NY Rangers now that the new season has started.

Favorite foods?

Dark chocolate. I like Dominican food, chicharrones, maduros, mofongo – delicious! I’m a big coffee drinker, I have a weakness for Starbucks Columbia coffee and McDonald’s hot French vanilla lattes.

Thank you very much for having me for an interview, I appreciate it. It was a lot of fun!

Catch Up With Jill Amy Rosenblatt On:
jillamyrosenblatt.com, Goodreads, BookBub, Twitter, & Facebook!

 

Read an excerpt:

CHAPTER 1

Katerina Mills sat in the silver Honda Civic, peering through the lenses of the binoculars. The factory parking lot loomed larger as she watched the first shift employees filing out, heads bowing to brace against the frigid Vermont winds, and dashing to their cars.

Katerina knew every inch of the toy factory her father had managed. In high school, she had helped out after classes, typing, filing, and bookkeeping. Following graduation and while caring for William Mills through his bout of cancer, Kat worked a few hours a day and carried paperwork back and forth to her father at home.

Can you keep an eye on things for your old man?

Bullshit, Kat thought. It was time to find out the truth.

Kat snapped out of her thoughts as Richie Calico emerged. She watched him turn up the collar of his jacket as he hustled toward a shiny, red Dodge Durango. Kat knew Richie as a third-generation, blue-collar working stiff, always looking for an angle and an easy buck.

That looks new, Kat thought as she sharpened the binoculars on the Durango.

Richie’s head swiveled back and forth as he hurried to the SUV.

That’s not the confident man I remember strolling up to my desk with a singsong “Kat-a-reeena.”

As if we shared a secret.

Richie slid into the Durango, revved the engine, and took off, speeding out of the lot.

Time to spill your secrets, Richie.

Kat put the Civic in gear.

***

Katerina watched Richie pull into a strip mall, park in front of a run-down pub, and get out. She followed, parking in the back of the lot and cutting the engine.

Leaning forward, Kat wrapped her arms around the wheel. I have to go in. I need him to fill in the blanks. How do I get in and out without being noticed? Steal in and out. Like a thief.

She sighed. It had been a little more than two months since her first B and E. Alexander Winter, “Bob,” and “Professor,” to Kat, a good man and an expert thief, had walked her through it and brought her out. He would know what to do. She closed her eyes, the familiar ache of missing him threatening to overwhelm her.

Not now, Katerina thought, opening her eyes and forcing herself to return to the business at hand. There’s a reason Richie is looking over his shoulder. Remember what Winter taught you, she thought. Once you go in, you give yourself five minutes. Every minute you linger, your risk of getting caught rises.

Scanning the lot one more time, she flipped the fur lined hood over her chestnut hair, opened the door, and got out.

***

Slipping in through the back door, Katerina stepped into the shrouded gloom of the deserted dive bar. She came up behind Richie as he slouched in a booth, drinking alone.

Suddenly, Richie’s eyes shot up from his Coors and he jolted at the presence of a person looming over him. Shifting to face him, Kat brushed her hood back and watched his eyes grow wide. He gaped at her as she slid into the booth.

“Katerina,” Richie said, his Adam’s apple bobbing as he swallowed hard. “Uh . . . Merry Christmas, Happy New Year . . . when did you get home?”

“Hi Richie,” Kat said. “How’s the heroin business?”

***

Excerpt from The Last Romanov by Jill Amy Rosenblatt. Copyright 2019 by Jill Amy Rosenblatt. Reproduced with permission from Jill Amy Rosenblatt. All rights reserved.

 

 

Tour Participants:

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Giveaway:

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Jill Amy Rosenblatt. There will be 3 winners. One (1) winner will receive an Amazon.com Gift Card and Two (2) winners will receive The Fixer: The Last Romanov by Jill Amy Rosenblatt (eBook). The giveaway begins on October 21, 2019, and runs through November 25, 2019. Void where prohibited.

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Oct 102019
 

A Pocketful Of Lodestones by Elizabeth Crowens

 

The Time Traveler Professor, Book Two:

A Pocketful of Lodestones

by Elizabeth Crowens

on Tour October 1-31, 2019

Synopsis:

The Time Traveler Professor, Book Two: A Pocketful of Lodestones by Elizabeth Crowens

In 1914, the war to end all wars turns the worlds of John Patrick Scott, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, H.G. Wells, Rebecca West and Harry Houdini upside down. Doyle goes back to ancient China in his hunt for that “red book” to help him write his Sherlock Holmes stories. Scott is hell-bent on finding out why his platoon sergeant has it out for him, and they both discover that during the time of Shakespeare every day is a witch-hunt in London. Is the ability to travel through time the ultimate escape from the horrific present, or do ghosts from the past come back to haunt those who dare to spin the Wheel of Karma?

The Time Traveler Professor, Book Two: A POCKETFUL OF LODESTONES, sequel to SILENT MERIDIAN, combines the surrealism of Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five with the supernatural allure of Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell set during WWI on the Western Front.

The Time Traveler Professor, Book Two: A POCKETFUL OF LODESTONES was the First Prize winner of the Chanticleer Review’s Paranormal Fiction Awards.

Book Details:

Genre: Alternate History, Mystery, Fantasy Noir
Published by: Atomic Alchemist Productions LLC
Publication Date: August 1st 2019
Number of Pages: 334
ISBN: 9781950384051
Series: The Time Traveler Professor #2
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

 

Author Bio:

Elizabeth Crowens

Crowens has worked in the film and television for over twenty years and as a journalist and a photographer. She’s a regular contributor of author interviews to an award-winning online speculative fiction magazine, Black Gate. Short stories of hers have been published in the Bram Stoker Awards nominated anthology, A New York State of Fright and Hell’s Heart. She’s a member of Mystery Writers of America, The Horror Writers Association, the Authors Guild, Broad Universe, Sisters in Crime and a member of several Sherlockian societies. She is also writing a Hollywood suspense series.

Q&A with Elizabeth Crowens

Welcome and thank you for stopping by CMash Reads
Reading and Writing:

What inspired you to write this book?

On my book tour this summer, I’ll be giving a lecture in London on using metaphysical concepts in literature. There isn’t a lot of decent, entertaining literature which embodies these concepts on a level where “Muggles” will understand them. I spotted the parallels in Star Wars Episode IV, A New Hope right away in regards to the Force, which is similar to ki (as in Aikido) or chi (as in Tai Chi). In fact, Star Wars inspired me to wind up getting a black belt in martial arts and to live in Japan. That experience helped me write our protagonist’s time travel adventure back to feudal Japan.

During the nineteenth century, there was a surging interest in the occult, seances and paranormal phenomena that inspired the Gothic writers like Mary Shelley to write Frankenstein and Bram Stoker to write Dracula and Edgar Alan Poe to write horror and some of the first detective stories. New technologies inspired authors like Jules Verne and H.G. Wells to write some of the first science fiction, known back then as scientific romance. There was also a group of metaphysicians, primarily in Britain, that attempted to write fiction with occult themes: William Butler Yeats, Aleister Crowley, Sax Rohmer and Dion Fortune. Rohmer became more famous for his Dr. Fu Manchu series instead of his dream detective. Yeats was more well-known for his poetry, Dion Fortune’s material only made sense if you read and understood her non-fiction work, and Crowley was more of a poet with a reputation that undermined much of his credibility. Hermann Hesse attempted with Siddhartha and some of his other stories, but by and large, there has been a dearth of good metaphysical fiction. Ironically, many of these authors I mentioned had cameo roles in my novel.

The details for my book tour are on my website, including when I’m going to be giving that lecture in London. Sign up for my monthly newsletter at elizabethcrowens[dot]com/contact for updates and for free eBooks I give away to my subscribers.

What was the biggest challenge in writing this book?

Lack of available research material. I’m a stickler for fact-checking. The protagonist, John Patrick Scott, was based on a real, but largely unknown person, and there wasn’t a lot of information available. I had to play “Sherlock Holmes” and do a bit of detective work, but at least this is a novel and not a non-fiction reference book. Silent Meridian was much easier to research than its sequel, A Pocketful of Lodestones, because I had already written articles for magazines on feudal Japan which is featured in the main time travel subplot. Lodestones, which launches August 1st, tackles several historical time periods that I wasn’t that familiar with.

Which of your characters do you like and dislike the most and why?

I like my protagonist, John Patrick Scott, the best. He definitely goes through a character arc and learns something from past mistakes. He’s also far from perfect, although he strives to make himself a better person. Honestly, I don’t dislike any of my characters.

Give us a glimpse of the research that went into this book.

Five trips overseas with another one coming up this August. Plus, I had to invest in a lot of out-of-print antiquarian books that couldn’t be found in local libraries or libraries in London, Edinburgh or various cities in Germany where I wouldn’t have enough time to read them. I have to admit it was really fun to spend four and a half days in the Rare Books Room at the British Library reading handwritten letters by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. When I’m abroad for my book tour, I’ll be doing research in St. Petersburg and Moscow — spoiler alert for Book Three.

How did you come up with the title?

Originally, the title of the first book was simply, Silent Meridian, but it wasn’t obvious what it meant and might’ve confused readers as to whether to buy the book. The term Silent Meridian is explained in a conversation our protagonist, John Patrick Scott has while consulting with the famous psychologist, C.G. Jung. It’s defined as the fine line between waking and dreams and parallel realities, and its transition can be as imperceptible as the effect Leonardo da Vinci creates on his famous paintings like the Mona Lisa where boundaries and edges seamlessly blend together. Yes, I know… It’s a mouthful. Now the book has been retitled, The Time Traveler Professor, Book One: Silent Meridian to focus more on the concept of time travel. It will also help if you are searching online for books on that subject. It’s a search engine thing.

Your routine in writing? Any idiosyncrasies?

Catch as catch can, but often my best time is in the middle of the night which doesn’t help my insomnia. For those of you who are writers, I use a combination of outlining and pantsing. For me, outlining is essential, because my plots are very complicated.

Tell us why we should read your book?

If you love time travel, I present a unique angle by tying it in with the concepts of karma and reincarnation. If you love steampunk or the Victorian era, you’ll love to plunge into that world. For those who appreciate Conan Doyle and Sherlock Holmes, it’s something completely different. The book appeals on many different levels.

Are you working on your next novel? If so, can you tell us a little bit about it?

I’m juggling three book projects at the moment. The Time Traveler Professor, Book Three: A War in Too Many Worlds, the third novel in a Hollywood suspense series I’m trying to get a literary agent to pick up, and an independent “chick lit” novel about three eccentric sisters trying to escape their problems in the States by hiding out in Mexico. Never a dull moment.

Fun Questions:
Your novel will be a movie. You would you cast?

You’re asking that question to someone who wore many hats in the entertainment industry for over twenty years. Conan Doyle? No question about it, I’d cast Hugh Jackman. They are close to the same height and build, and if you compare photos of them side by side when Hugh is dressed in 19th century attire, it wouldn’t take much to make the transformation. Besides, Hugh is a big box office draw. Edward Norton could pull off H.G. Wells. Depending on how old we want to make Francois Poincaré, I’d go for Sasha Baron Cohen or Rami Malek, because the character has a Freddie Mercury-like quality. Cohen was one of the first choices to play Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody. For the protagonist, John Patrick Scott, I’ve had my eye on Robert Sheehan, an Irish actor who recently was in The Umbrella Academy and National Geographic’s Genius series on Picasso.

Favorite leisure activities/hobbies?

Who has time for that? Just kidding. I enjoy going to author readings and traveling to conventions, although it’s for business as well as pleasure. This year I have a convention in Dublin. Next year I have one in New Zealand. While I’m there, you better believe it… I’m going to see some of those locations from Lord of the Rings.

Favorite foods?

Coffee and chocolate — the essentials. LOL

Catch Up With Our Author On:
elizabethcrowens.com, Goodreads, Bookbub, Twitter, & Facebook!

 

Read an excerpt:

Chapter One: Kitchener’s Call to Arms

August 1914

“Have you ever killed a man before?”

I had, but close to three hundred years ago. So, I lied and just shook my head.

“Your name, son?” the recruitment officer asked.

“John Patrick Scott,” I said, with pride.

The officer handed me a card to fill out. “Write your date of birth, where you live and don’t skip any questions. When finished, bring this over to Line B.”

Born during the reign of Queen Victoria, somehow or other I managed to travel to the 23rd century, feudal Japan, and ancient China long before the Great War started. The army wanted to know all the places I had traveled, but it was doubtful that much information was required.

Since the war to end all wars commenced, recruiting centers sprang up like wildflowers. This one took over an Edinburgh public library. If unaware as to why the enthusiastic furor, one would’ve guessed the government gave away free land tracts with titles.

“Let’s see how clever you blokes are. Tell me the four duties of a soldier,” another enlistment administrator called out.

An overeager Glaswegian shouted, “Obedience, cleanliness, honesty and sobriety, sir!”

The chap next to him elbowed his side. “Takes no brains to read a bloody sign.”

Propaganda posters wallpapered the room with solicitous attempts at boosting morale. Kitchener wanted us and looked straight into our eyes. Proof of our manhood or perhaps stupidity. Queues of enthusiasm wound around the block. Impatient ones jumped the lines. We swore our allegiance to the King over a bible. As long as the war lasted, our lives were no longer our own.

Voices from men I’d never see again called out from the crowd.

“It’ll be over in six weeks.”

“Are you so sure?”

“Check out those men. All from the same cricket team. Play and die together. Medals of Valor in a blink. Local heroes with celebrations.”

“I’ll drink to that.”

A crusty old career soldier yelled out to the volunteers, “Does anyone speak Flemish?”

Suddenly the place got quiet. Then he looked at me. “Soldier, do you know anything besides the King’s English? French?”

“Fluent German,” I said. “That should be helpful.”

“Since when were you with the Bosches?”

“Fourteen years, sir. Before the war.”

“And what were you doing in enemy territory?”

“Worked as a teacher. A music professor and a concert pianist when I could get the engagements and sometimes as an amateur photographer. They weren’t our enemies then, sir.”

“Have you ever shot a rifle, son?”

“Actually, I have…”

“Find a pair of boots that fits you, lad. Hustle now. Time’s a wasting.”

The Allied and German armies were in a Race to the Sea. If the Germans got there first, then England was in danger of invasion. Basic training opened its arms to the common man, and it felt strange to be bedding alongside Leith dockworkers and farmers, many underage, versus the university colleagues from my recent past. Because of the overwhelming need for new recruits, training facilities ran out of room. The army took over church halls, local schools and warehouses in haste. Select recruits were billeted in private homes, but we weren’t so fortunate.

Except for acquired muscles, I slimmed down and resembled the young man that I was in my university days except with a tad more gray hair, cut very short and shaved even closer on the sides. No more rich German pastries from former students as part of my diet. At least keeping a clean-shaven face wasn’t a challenge since I never could grow a beard. Wearing my new uniform took getting used to. Other recruits laughed, as I’d reach to straighten my tie or waistcoat out of habit despite the obvious fact that I was no longer wearing them.

While still in Scotland during basic training, I started to have a series of the most peculiar dreams. My boots had not yet been muddied with the soil of real battlefields. New recruits such as I, had difficult adjustments transitioning from civilian life. Because of my past history of lucid dreaming, trips in time travel and years of psychical experimentation I conducted both on my own and with my enthusiastic and well-studied mentor, Arthur Conan Doyle, my nightmares appeared more real than others. My concerns were that these dreams were either actual excursions into the Secret Library where the circumstances had already occurred or premonitions of developments to come.

The most notable of these episodes occurred toward the end of August in 1914. In this dream, I had joined another British platoon other than my own in Belgium on the Western Front. We were outnumbered at least three to one, and the aggressive Huns surrounded us on three sides.

Whistles blew. “Retreat!” yelled our commanding officer, a privileged Cambridge boy, barely a man and younger than I, who looked like he had never seen the likes of hardship.

We retreated to our trenches to assess what to plan next, but instead of moving toward our destination everyone froze in their tracks. Time was like a strip of film that slowed down, spooled off track, and jammed inside a projector. Then the oddest thing happened to our enemy. For no apparent reason, their bodies jerked and convulsed as if fired upon by invisible bullets over the course of an hour.

When the morning fog lifted, the other Tommies and I broke free from our preternatural standstill and charged over the top of the trenches with new combat instructions. Half of our platoon dropped their rifles in shock. Dead Huns, by the thousands, littered No man’s land long before we had even fired our first retaliatory shot!

I woke up agitated, disoriented and in a cold sweat. Even more disturbing was finding several brass shell casings under my pillow — souvenirs or proof that I had traveled off somewhere and not imagined it. I roused the sleeping guy in the next bed and couldn’t wait to share this incredible story.

“Shush!” he warned me. “You’ll wake the others.”

Meanwhile, he rummaged inside his belongings and pulled out a rumpled and grease-stained newspaper clipping that looked and smelled like it had originally been used to wrap up fish and chips.

He handed it to me with excitement. “My folks sent this me from back home.”

The headlines: “Angels sited at the Battle of Mons”

Almost as notable was the article’s byline written by my best friend from the University of Edinburgh, Wendell Mackenzie, whom I had lost track of since the war started.

He begged me to read on.

“Hundreds of witnesses claimed similarities in their experiences. There were rumors aplenty about ghostly bowmen from the Battle of Agincourt where the Brits fought against the French back in 1415. Inexplicable apparitions appeared out of nowhere and vanquished German enemy troops at the recent Battle of Mons.”

“This looks like a scene from out of a storybook.” I pointed to an artist’s rendition and continued.

“Word spread that arrow wounds were discovered on corpses of the enemy nearby, and it wasn’t a hoax. Others reported seeing a Madonna in the trenches or visions of St. Michael, another saint symbolizing victory.”

“Now, I don’t feel so singled out,” I said and handed the newspaper articles back to my comrade.

For weeks, I feared talking to anyone else about it and insisted my mate keep silent. Even in wartime, I swore that I’d stay in touch with my closest acquaintances, Wendell Mackenzie and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. It was easier to keep abreast of Arthur’s exploits, because of his public celebrity. On the other hand, Wendell, being a journalist, could be anywhere in the world on assignment.

* * *

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Mackenzie,

I regret having missed Wendell when he never made it over to visit Scotland, and you wonder if someone up above watches over us when we make decisions where to go and when. In my case it was when I decided to take a summer vacation and travel to Edinburgh before the war. Those without passports or proper documentation endured countless detours and delays getting back to their respective homelands. One of Mrs. Campbell’s lodgers had been detained in France.

With nothing to return to back in Germany, I joined the Royal Scots. Military training commenced in Edinburgh, and at least they had us wearing uniforms of pants tucked into gaiters as opposed to the Highland troops who wore kilts. Although I was born and bred in Scotland, as a Lowlander that’s one outfit you’d have to force me into with much duress.

Our tasks would be in the Scots Territorial units deployed on our coastline in case of an enemy invasion. Potential threats could come from spies or submarines, but most say that the worst enemy has been the frigid wind blowing off the North Sea.

As there is always talk about combining forces and transfers, my aunt can always forward letters. It would mean more than the world to hear from Wendell saying that not only is he all right, but also in good spirits.

Yours most devoted,

Private John Patrick Scott

* * *

Dear Arthur,

In our last correspondence, I conveyed that I was unable to return to my teaching post in Stuttgart. With your tour in the Boer War as my inspiration, I joined the military. We learned the basics: how to follow commands, first aid, march discipline and training in all matters of physical fitness. My feet have been in a constant state of rebellion, since my previous profession as a pianist was a sedentary occupation.

Deployment was supposed to be along the coast of Scotland, but the army reassigned me despite first promises because of too many staggering losses on the Western Front. I requested to be part of the air corps and a pioneer in new battle technology, but my recruiting officers had other plans. Our regiment left for Ypres in Belgium. None of the Tommies could pronounce the name of this place, so everyone called it Wipers. You’re no stranger to war, but everyone has been surprised that it lasted longer than anticipated.

Yours Most Devoted,

Private John Patrick Scott

* * *

Troops from all over under the wing of the British Expeditionary Forces piled on to ships to sail out to the continent. The locals from Edinburgh didn’t expect to leave bonnie ole Scotland. They told us we’d defend our shores from foreign invasions. I’d crossed the North Sea before, but then it was a sea of hope and a new life full of opportunity when I got my scholarship to continue my musical studies in Germany, now the enemy.

I turned to the nearest stranger, hoping that a random conversation would break the monotonous and never-ending wait until we set anchor in Belgium. “How was your basic training?”

“Three months at an abandoned amusement park,” the soldier replied. “We trained for the longest time in our street clothes and were told they ran out of uniforms. Probably sent recycled ones after the first troops died. Used wooden dummy rifles until the real ones arrived. What about you?”
“We used an abandoned dance hall. Never could get used to waking at 5:30 a.m.”

“Word got around that in Aldershot soldiers had luxury facilities with a billiards room, a library, private baths and a buffet. I suspect that was for the regulars, the old-timers, not new recruits like us.”

“I should’ve enlisted elsewhere,” I grumbled, not that it would’ve made much of a difference if we’d all die in the end.

He pointed to my face and examined my flawless hands. “You don’t look like much of an outdoorsman. Pale, hairless complexion. No scars.”

“I’m a concert pianist.”

“Not much use on the Front.”

“Probably not. Excuse me, I need some air.” I bundled up in my great coat, wrapping my muffler a wee bit tighter.

Wasn’t sure which were worse — the soldiers with their asphyxiating cigarettes or numbing sleet turning into ice pellets. Hadn’t gotten my sea legs, yet. Stormy swells churned my stomach. Sweet Scotland. Lush green grass and the sky the color of blue moonstone. Never thought I’d be so sentimental. Continued staring until brilliant hues of the shoreline merged into dismal grays of a foggy horizon. In the transition from civilian to soldier, I stepped through a door of no return unless I desired to come back home in a coffin.

Chapter Two: The Other Lost World

Ypres, Belgium Late fall, 1914

A sea of strange men, but all comrades-in-arms, all recent transplants marched to their assignments and followed orders without question to who-knows-where on the way to the battlefield sites. We sallied forth, anonymous troops with a distorted sense of time and distance through the streets of has-been cities, once thriving communities. Poetry in ruination.

As we marched through the Grote Markt (Grand Market) heading out toward the Menenpoort (or Menen Gate) I didn’t expect to get an education. The soldier to my left kept talking out loud and compared notes of local tourist attractions. He was probably unaware that anyone else had overheard his comments.

“That long, distinctive building with the church hiding behind it must be the Hallen… or their Cloth Hall. There were impressive paintings on the interior walls of the Pauwels Room depicting the history of this town and its prosperous textile trade.”

“How do you know this?” I asked, trying not to attract too much attention.

“I’m a historian. Used to teach at a priory school in Morpeth.”

Perhaps I was naïve, but I asked, “Why would the armed forces recruit someone with a background in history?”

“That didn’t influence my enlistment although I’m sure it’ll come in handy somewhere. Before the war, I traveled all over Europe when time permitted. I brought original postcards with me as to what this town used to look like. It’s frightening to see the difference.”

“Your name?” I asked.

“Private Watson. What about you?”

“Not John Watson, by any chance?”

“No, Roger Watson, why?”

I shook my head thinking about Arthur and bit my lip to hide a slight smile. “Oh nothing… My name is Private Scott, John Patrick Scott.”

“What brings you to this dismal corner of the earth?”

“Ich war ein Musiklehrer. Pardon me, sometimes I break into German. I’m from Edinburgh but was living in Germany as a music teacher. Can’t be doing that sort of thing now.”

“I suppose not.”

“Roger, sorry to have eavesdropped, but it sounded so interesting. Then you are familiar with the area we just marched through?”

“That was the central merchant and trading hub of Ypres and has been since the mid-fifteenth century. On the north side over there is St. Martin’s Cathedral. You can already see the damage from German attacks.”

There was no escaping the needless destruction by aggressive enemy bombing. We continued marching forward in formation. A little way beyond the city gate, we passed by the remains of a park and children’s playground. The soldiers took a rest break and snacked on portable rations.

Many of them took off their boots and massaged their feet. Not too far away, I found a shattered brick in the rubble of what had been a schoolhouse and brought it back to where everyone was having his makeshift picnic.

Watson noticed that I kept twirling the small fragment in my hand while intermittently closing my eyes. “Scott, what are you doing?”

“Pictures form in my mind similar to movies. It’s the art of psychometry,” I replied.

“Psycho — what?” Another soldier overheard us talking.

“Sounds like something from Sigmund Freud,” one called out.

“Not at all, it’s like a psychical gift or talent. It has nothing to do with psychoanalysis.”

“What’s the point?” the first one asked.

I felt under pressure to put my thoughts into words. “I can understand what building this brick was part of when it was intact and what was here before it was destroyed.”

“That’s incredible!” Watson exclaimed. “If you are able to uncover bygone times by psychical means, I am all ears.”

When everyone else discounted my talent, Watson gave it full praise. Others became impatient and weren’t interested in our sidebar history lesson.

“Can you use those skills beyond inanimate objects?” one soldier asked.

“Find me an object, someone’s former possession,” I said.

Another soldier found a broken pocket watch not far from a trampled garden. He tossed it over, and I caught it with both hands. When I closed my eyes, the images materialized in my mind’s eye.

“A loving grandfather was reading to his grandchildren from an illustrated story book. He was balding. Wore spectacles. Had a trimmed white beard.

“‘Time for bed,’ he said, looking at his watch. Tick tock, tick tock. It was a gift from his father.

“He kissed each grandchild on the forehead as they scampered off. Two girls, one boy, all in their nightgowns. The tallest girl was a redhead with… pink ribbons in her long, curly hair. Then the bombs dropped. Fire. The roof collapsed. All was lost. Then… then… Oh my God!”

“Scotty, what’s wrong?” Watson asked.

I looked at the blank faces around me. “You don’t see him?”

Watson was baffled. “See who?”

“That grandfather,” I said, horrified and clutching onto that timepiece. His ghost was standing right in front of me!

Then I realized that no one else was capable of seeing him. Inside, I panicked until my frozen fingers let go of the watch, and it tumbled into the dirt. That’s when his phantasmal form vanished, but there were still indelible memories impressed upon the ether that refused to fade with the passage of time.

Warning bells tolled from a nearby church. “Quick, run for cover!” our commanding officer shouted.

Double-time over to shelter. Incoming bombs whistled and boomed in the distance. Civilians followed, carrying their most precious possessions, also fleeing for their lives.

The sanctuary already suffered from shell damage that left large gaping holes in its roof. Birds nested above the pulpit. Cherished religious statuary had been knocked over and broken. Several nuns rushed up and motioned the way for us to take refuge in the basement. We joined the crowd of scared families, members of the local community.

“Isn’t Britain giving them haven?” I asked Watson. “I thought most of the civilians evacuated by now.”

“There are still the ones who want to hold out,” he explained. “Wouldn’t you if your entire life and livelihood were here for multiple generations? That’s why they’re counting on us, but the Germans are relentless. Ypres is right on the path of strategic routes to take over France.”

When several farmers brought over their pigs and chickens, our retreat began to resemble a biblical nativity scene. From inside the cellar, we could hear the rumble of the outside walls collapsing.

“We’ll be trapped!” People yelled out in panic.

A group of sisters prayed in the corner. Our trench diggers readied themselves to shovel us out if it came to that. One terror-stricken woman handed me a screaming baby.

“I found him abandoned.” At least that’s what I thought she said in Flemish, but none of us could understand her. Confused and without thinking, I almost spoke in Japanese, but that would’ve been for the wrong place and an entirely different century during a different lifetime.

“What will I do with him?” I said to her in German, but she didn’t comprehend me either. I couldn’t just place him down in a corner. We’d be marching out in a matter of minutes.

I approached a man with his wife and three other children. First I tried English, then German, random words of French, and then I tried Greek and Latin from my school days. Finally I resorted to awkward gestures to see if he’d take the child. But he shook his head, gathered his brood and backed off.

Troops cleared a path out of the cellar. We needed to report to our stations before nightfall.

“Sister, please?” I begged one nun, interrupting her rosary. To my relief, she took the infant.

“Oh Mon Dieu!” I cried out in the little French that I knew. “Danke, thank you, merci boucoup.” Then I ran off to join the others.

Watson slapped me on the back. “Looked like you were going to be a father, mate.”

“Not yet. Got a war to fight,” I replied.

***

Excerpt from The Time Traveler Professor, Book Two: A Pocketful of Lodestones by Elizabeth Crowens. Copyright © 2019 by Elizabeth Crowens. Reproduced with permission from Elizabeth Crowens. All rights reserved.

 

 

Tour Participants:

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



 

 

Giveaway!!!

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Elizabeth Crowens. There will be 8 winners. One (1) winner will receive an Amazon.com Gift Card. Seven (7) winners will each receive A Pocketful Of Lodestones by Elizabeth Crowens (eBook). The giveaway begins on October 1, 2019 and runs through November 2, 2019. Void where prohibited.

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Sep 202019
 

Silent Voices

by Fran Lewis

on Tour September 1-30, 2019

Synopsis:

Silent Voices by Fran Lewis

Driving down a rocky road I saw the overgrown grass, weeds, and poison ivy overtaking the outer perimeter of the bushes. The smell of mildew permeated the air, along with the stench of animals killed by cars coming up from the ground along this dirt road. I could see the sadness on the faces in the cars behind me; I could feel the pain and sorrow. As I looked inside the cars and saw the faces of the drivers, I began to wonder what they were thinking, their thoughts and feelings as they traveled down life’s highway, maybe for the very last time.

What stories lay behind the faces behind the wheel of each oncoming car?

What stories were hidden?

Whose voices are now silenced?

 

Reviews:

“Unique, haunting, terrifying, incredibly moving: Fran Lewis’ SILENT VOICES is all that and more as people tell spell-binding stories of their lives – and their deaths – from beyond the grave. You won’t forget this one!” – R.G. Belsky, award-winning author of the Clare Carlson mystery series.

“Silent Voices is a shrewd, sensitive and scintillating collection of short stories that make us feel and think. Noted talk show host Fran Lewis proves herself to be as skilled a storyteller as she is a listener, adept at both tugging on our heart strings and exposing the raw emotion between the lines. Her tales reach beyond the grave in fashioning rich tapestries drawn on a sprawling landscape at once both rich in color and gray-toned. A can’t miss effort certain to live with you far beyond the turn of the final page.” -Jon Land, USA Today bestselling author

“Once again, Fran Lewis knocks it out of the park with the latest in the Silent Voices series. At once chilling, but also inspirational, these stories do not fail to entertain. They will also raise the goosebumps on your skin. Prepare to be thrilled.” Vincent Zandri, New Your Times bestselling Thriller Award winning author of The Remains and The Caretaker’s Wife

Check out my Review HERE

Book Details:

Genre: Horror, Suspense
Published by: Southern Owl Publications, LLC
Publication Date: June 10th 2019
Number of Pages: 51
ASIN: B07S75JPQW
Series: Silent Voices
Purchase Links: Amazon | Goodreads

 

Author Bio:

Fran Lewis

Fran Lewis taught for 36 years as a staff developer in reading and writing and a dean. She is the author of the Bertha and Tillie series and the author of the Faces behind the stones series as well as her books for caregivers on Alzheimer’s and mj magazine and mj network.

Q&A with Fran Lewis

Welcome and thank you for stopping by CMash Reads
Reading and Writing:

What inspired you to write this book?
Walking the cemetery after my sister died I wondered what really happened to her and I asked her as I looked at her headstone what she would tell me if she could about that day she had the massive heart attack and what she think caused her to fall over and hit her head. Then I looked at the other stones and wondered if each person was put there because of a bad deed and deserved to be there or someone caused them to be there.

What was the biggest challenge in writing this book?
Deciding which characters or main protagonists to write about and creating their back stories.

Give us a glimpse of the research that went into this book.
The first two stories are based on real life experiences and I did do some research about Polish serialization camps and my cousins did help me with the story about Bertha and her past.

How did you come up with the title?
After visiting the cemetery, I decided that some of these people needed to be heard and their voices should no longer remain silent while others deserved their fate.

Your routine in writing? Any idiosyncrasies?
I can start at five in the morning or anytime during the day. At times I just pick up my phone and write notes on my notepad and email them to myself.

Tell us why we should read your book?
The concept of voices and faces behind a gravestone is original I think, and my stories teach lessons to those that need to understand what happens when you do something to hurt someone else.

Are you working on your next novel? If so, can you tell us a little bit about it?
I did start Faces 6 and I have added a new twist; The Bodies will still be behind smaller stones but in a forest, what is desolate, isolated and the trees are practically bare. I did start some, but I won’t give away who will be behind the stones and in this forest.

Fun Questions:
Your novel will be a movie. You would you cast?

I would need many actors or actresses that have been in science fiction movies or horror.

Favorite leisure activities/hobbies?
Walking, reading, love doing hook rugs and color by numbers of coloring books

Favorite foods?
Pizza and nondairy vanilla cupcakes with nondairy whipped cream.

Catch Up With Fran Lewis On:
tillie49.wordpress.com, Goodreads, BookBub, Twitter, & Facebook!

 

 

Tour Participants:

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Aug 292019
 

Eye for Eye

by JK Franko

on Tour July 22 – September 20, 2019

Eye for Eye by JK Franko

 

“NEW TWIST ON STRANGERS ON A TRAIN”
~ THE SUNDAY TIMES

Roy and Susie are on a skiing holiday, trying to take a break from the constant reminders of their daughter, tragically killed by a careless driver. Out of the blue they meet Deb and Tom, another couple with a tragic past and a shocking proposal to put things right.

As the bodies accumulate, secrets are revealed and alliances crumble. Ultimate survival depends on following the rules for a perfect murder. And the first rule is… leave no singing bones.

 

Book Details:

Genre: Crime & Mystery
Published by: Talion Publishing
Publication Date: June 22nd 2019
Number of Pages: 400
ISBN: 1999318803 (ISBN13: 9781999318802)
Series: Talion #1
Purchase Links: Amazon | Goodreads

 

Author Bio:

JK Franko

J.K. FRANKO was born and raised in Texas. His Cuban-American parents agreed there were only three acceptable options for a male child: doctor, lawyer, and architect. After a disastrous first year of college pre-Med, he ended up getting a BA in philosophy (not acceptable), then he went to law school (salvaging the family name) and spent many years climbing the big law firm ladder. After ten years, he decided that law and family life weren’t compatible. He went back to school where he got an MBA and pursued a Ph.D. He left law for corporate America, with long stints in Europe and Asia.

His passion was always to be a writer. After publishing a number of non-fiction works, thousands of hours writing, and seven or eight abandoned fictional works over the course of eighteen years, EYE FOR EYE became his first published novel.

Q&A with JK Franko

Welcome and thank you for stopping by CMash Reads
Reading and Writing:

What inspired you to write this book?

I was actually driving home from the grocery store when the idea hit me—a book about what it would take for a normal married couple to plan and commit a murder. I could see the whole book clearly in my mind by the time I got home and was unloading the groceries, and I knew I was going to write it.

What was the biggest challenge in writing this book?

About halfway through, I had an editor quit on me claiming that the morality of the story was “questionable”—particularly Chapter 19. That was when I knew I was onto something interesting.

Give us a glimpse of the research that went into this book.

One of my prior careers was as a trial lawyer, so the legal aspects came easy. The research into planning the perfect murder was very detailed, and is actually very clearly set out in the book. Then of course, I had to make all of those trips to the Bahamas on yachts…

How did you come up with the title?

The working title was actually “What makes you stronger.” But, when I got down into it, I wanted something much more primal and archetypal. The Old Testament just worked.

Your routine in writing? Any idiosyncrasies?

I write from both ends to the middle. Prologue, Epilogue, Chapter One, last Chapter, Chapter Two, next-to-last Chapter, and so on until everything meets in the middle.

Tell us why we should read your book?

I am a voracious reader myself, and I am always looking for tightly woven stories that serve up unexpected twists and bring everything brilliantly together. That’s what Eye for Eye is.

Are you working on your next novel? If so, can you tell us a little bit about it?

There are three books currently planned for the Talion Series: Eye for Eye, Tooth for Tooth, and Life for Life—with a surprise prequel coming out as well. All I can say about Book Two, without spoilers, is “What goes around, comes around.”

Fun Questions:

Your novel will be a movie. You would you cast?

I actually can’t say because we are currently in discussions regarding just that!
That’s GREAT!!!! Congratulations!!

Favorite leisure activities/hobbies?

Boating, of course.

Favorite foods?

Fava Beans

J.K. Franko now lives with his wife and children in Florida.

Catch Up With JK Franko On:
jkfranko.com, Goodreads, Twitter, & Facebook!

 

Read an excerpt:

When I try to piece together how this whole mess began, a part of me thinks it may have started over thirty years ago. At least the seeds were planted that far back, in the early 1980s. What happened then, at that summer camp in Texas, set the stage for everything that was to come.

Odd, how something so remote in time and geography continues to impact me here, today.

Sometimes I try to imagine her, how she felt—that eleven year-old girl—as she ran, stumbling and tripping through the woods that night. I try to put myself in her shoes. When I do, I wonder if she was frightened.

Did she understand the consequences of what she’d gotten herself into? I imagine it felt otherworldly to her, like a dream. But not a good dream. No, one of the bad ones—the ones that make your heart machine-gun as you try to outrun some dark thing that’s chasing you. But the faster you try to run, the slower you go, your legs feeling leaden, clumsy, useless.

Panic sets in. Tears of frustration form. Fear takes hold and won’t let go. You open your mouth to scream but realize, to your horror, that you’re paralyzed. It’s not that you can’t scream; you can’t even breathe. Not a dream—a nightmare.

Then again, all that may simply be my imagination. It could just be me projecting what I might have felt onto Joan. Maybe she wasn’t scared at all.

True, it was dark out. The night smelled of rain, but there was no lightning, only the far-off rumble of thunder hinting at a distant storm. There were no trail lights, no visibility but for the moon peeking out intermittently from behind a patchwork of clouds. But, Joan had been down this trail before. She was running toward the main cabin.

She had been at Camp Willow for almost two full weeks. She had been up and down that trail at least ten times a day, every day. Of course, that was during the day, and always with her buddy, or a camp counselor (the children called them troop leaders). Joan had never been on the trail at night. And never alone.

Maybe I imagine Joan was scared because, as an adult, I believe that she should have been. I would have been terrified.

***

Excerpt from Eye For Eye by JK Franko. Copyright © 2019 by JK Franko. Reproduced with permission from JK Franko. All rights reserved.

 

 

Tour Participants:

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Enter The Giveaway!!!:

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for JK Franko. There will be 6 winners. Two (2) winners will each win (1) Amazon.com Gift Card. Two (2) winners will each win a signed copy of EYE FOR EYE by JK Franko (Open to U.S. addresses only) and Two (2) winners will each win a Knife set (Open to U.S. addresses only). The giveaway begins on July 22, 2019 and runs through September 22, 2019. Void where prohibited.

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Aug 282019
 

Silent Meridian by Elizabeth Crowens Banner

 

 

The Time Traveler Professor, Book One:

Silent Meridian

by Elizabeth Crowens

on Tour August 18 – September 21, 2019

Synopsis:

The Time Traveler Professor, Book One: Silent Meridian by Elizabeth Crowens

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is obsessed with a legendary red book. Its peculiar stories have come to life, and rumors claim that it has rewritten its own endings. Convinced that possessing this book will help him write his ever-popular Sherlock Holmes stories, he takes on an unlikely partner, John Patrick Scott, known to most as a concert pianist, but a paranormal investigator and a time traveler professor to a select few.

Like Holmes and Watson trying to solve a mystery, together they explore lost worlds and their friendship is tested to the limits when they go back in time to find it. Both discover that karmic ties and unconscionable crimes have followed them like ghosts from the past, wreaking havoc on the present and possibly the future.

The Time Traveler Professor, Book One: SILENT MERIDIAN reveals the alternate histories of Conan Doyle, H.G. Wells, Houdini, Jung and other luminaries in the secret diaries of John Patrick Scott, in an X Files for the 19th century. First Prize winner of Chanticleer Review’s Goethe Award for Turn-of-the-Century Historical Fiction and First Prize for Steampunk in the Independent Press Awards. Stay tuned for A POCKETFUL OF LODESTONES; Book Two in the Time Traveler Professor series by Elizabeth Crowens.

Book Details:

Genre: Alternate History, Mystery, Fantasy Noir
Published by: Atomic Alchemist Productions LLC
Publication Date: June 12th 2019
Number of Pages: 384
ISBN: 9781950384 (ISBN13: 9781950384044)
Series: The Time Traveler Professor #1
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

 

Author Bio:

Elizabeth Crowens

Crowens has worked in the film and television for over twenty years and as a journalist and a photographer. She’s a regular contributor of author interviews to an award-winning online speculative fiction magazine, Black Gate. Short stories of hers have been published in the Bram Stoker Awards nominated anthology, A New York State of Fright and Hell’s Heart. She’s a member of Mystery Writers of America, The Horror Writers Association, the Authors Guild, Broad Universe, Sisters in Crime and a member of several Sherlockian societies. She is also writing a Hollywood suspense series.

Q&A with Elizabeth Crowens

Welcome and thank you for stopping by CMash Reads

What inspired you to write this book?

On my book tour this summer, I’ll be giving a lecture in London on using metaphysical concepts in literature. There isn’t a lot of decent, entertaining literature which embodies these concepts on a level where “Muggles” will understand them. I spotted the parallels in Star Wars Episode IV, A New Hope right away in regards to the Force, which is similar to ki (as in Aikido) or chi (as in Tai Chi). In fact, Star Wars inspired me to wind up getting a black belt in martial arts and to live in Japan. That experience helped me write our protagonist’s time travel adventure back to feudal Japan.

During the nineteenth century, there was a surging interest in the occult, seances and paranormal phenomena that inspired the Gothic writers like Mary Shelley to write Frankenstein and Bram Stoker to write Dracula and Edgar Alan Poe to write horror and some of the first detective stories. New technologies inspired authors like Jules Verne and H.G. Wells to write some of the first science fiction, known back then as scientific romance. There was also a group of metaphysicians, primarily in Britain, that attempted to write fiction with occult themes: William Butler Yeats, Aleister Crowley, Sax Rohmer and Dion Fortune. Rohmer became more famous for his Dr. Fu Manchu series instead of his dream detective. Yeats was more well-known for his poetry, Dion Fortune’s material only made sense if you read and understood her non-fiction work, and Crowley was more of a poet with a reputation that undermined much of his credibility. Hermann Hesse attempted with Siddhartha and some of his other stories, but by and large, there has been a dearth of good metaphysical fiction. Ironically, many of these authors I mentioned had cameo roles in my novel.

The details for my book tour are on my website, including when I’m going to be giving that lecture in London. Sign up for my monthly newsletter at elizabethcrowens[dot]com/contact for updates and for free eBooks I give away to my subscribers.

What was the biggest challenge in writing this book?

Lack of available research material. I’m a stickler for fact-checking. The protagonist, John Patrick Scott, was based on a real, but largely unknown person, and there wasn’t a lot of information available. I had to play “Sherlock Holmes” and do a bit of detective work, but at least this is a novel and not a non-fiction reference book. Silent Meridian was much easier to research than its sequel, A Pocketful of Lodestones, because I had already written articles for magazines on feudal Japan which is featured in the main time travel subplot. Lodestones, which launches August 1st, tackles several historical time periods that I wasn’t that familiar with.

Give us a glimpse of the research that went into this book.

Five trips overseas with another one coming up this August. Plus, I had to invest in a lot of out-of-print antiquarian books that couldn’t be found in local libraries or libraries in London, Edinburgh or various cities in Germany where I wouldn’t have enough time to read them. I have to admit it was really fun to spend four and a half days in the Rare Books Room at the British Library reading handwritten letters by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. When I’m abroad for my book tour, I’ll be doing research in St. Petersburg and Moscow — spoiler alert for Book Three.

How did you come up with the title?

Originally, the title of the first book was simply, Silent Meridian, but it wasn’t obvious what it meant and might’ve confused readers as to whether to buy the book. The term Silent Meridian is explained in a conversation our protagonist, John Patrick Scott has while consulting with the famous psychologist, C.G. Jung. It’s defined as the fine line between waking and dreams and parallel realities, and its transition can be as imperceptible as the effect Leonardo da Vinci creates on his famous paintings like the Mona Lisa where boundaries and edges seamlessly blend together. Yes, I know… It’s a mouthful. Now the book has been retitled, The Time Traveler Professor, Book One: Silent Meridian to focus more on the concept of time travel. It will also help if you are searching online for books on that subject. It’s a search engine thing.

Your routine in writing? Any idiosyncrasies?

Catch as catch can, but often my best time is in the middle of the night which doesn’t help my insomnia. For those of you who are writers, I use a combination of outlining and pantsing. For me, outlining is essential, because my plots are very complicated.

Tell us why we should read your book?

If you love time travel, I present a unique angle by tying it in with the concepts of karma and reincarnation. If you love steampunk or the Victorian era, you’ll love to plunge into that world. For those who appreciate Conan Doyle and Sherlock Holmes, it’s something completely different. The book appeals on many different levels.

Are you working on your next novel? If so, can you tell us a little bit about it?

I’m juggling three book projects at the moment. The Time Traveler Professor, Book Three: A War in Too Many Worlds, the third novel in a Hollywood suspense series I’m trying to get a literary agent to pick up, and an independent “chick lit” novel about three eccentric sisters trying to escape their problems in the States by hiding out in Mexico. Never a dull moment.

Your novel will be a movie. You would you cast?

You’re asking that question to someone who wore many hats in the entertainment industry for over twenty years. Conan Doyle? No question about it, I’d cast Hugh Jackman. They are close to the same height and build, and if you compare photos of them side by side when Hugh is dressed in 19th century attire, it wouldn’t take much to make the transformation. Besides, Hugh is a big box office draw. Edward Norton could pull off H.G. Wells. Depending on how old we want to make Francois Poincaré, I’d go for Sasha Baron Cohen or Rami Malek, because the character has a Freddie Mercury-like quality. Cohen was one of the first choices to play Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody. For the protagonist, John Patrick Scott, I’ve had my eye on Robert Sheehan, an Irish actor who recently was in The Umbrella Academy and National Geographic’s Genius series on Picasso.

Favorite leisure activities/hobbies?

Who has time for that? Just kidding. I enjoy going to author readings and traveling to conventions, although it’s for business as well as pleasure. This year I have a convention in Dublin. Next year I have one in New Zealand. While I’m there, you better believe it… I’m going to see some of those locations from Lord of the Rings.

Favorite foods?

Coffee and chocolate — the essentials. LOL

Catch Up With Our Author On:
elizabethcrowens.com, Goodreads, Bookbub, Twitter, & Facebook!

 

Read an excerpt:

Edinburgh, 1898

Scotland was just barely crawling its way out of the nineteenth century. I was a naïve, but ambitious student studying music at the University of Edinburgh hurrying over to meet Arthur Conan Doyle, the man who would change my life forever.

“John Patrick Scott, sir,” I said and approached Mr. Doyle, who was already seated at a back corner table of the Deacon Brodie, the pub that inspired the Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

I extended my hand to greet him and removed my rain-soaked hat, while my overcoat slipped out of my hands and fell on the floor by accident. It was still hard to believe that good fortune finally brought us together, but we were both nervous. “Mr. Conan Doyle, or should I call you Doctor Doyle?” I was unsure how to address him.

Doyle scrutinized me from top to bottom as he signaled the waiter. “John, call me Arthur.”

“Sir, I’m so honored that you agreed to discuss this matter. Perhaps you can enlighten me in a way that I’ve failed to comprehend.”

I wanted to ask him about my unusual turn of events straight away but he caught me off guard and was dead set on pulling me into the swift current of an unexpected conversation.

“Can I assume you believe in the transmigration of souls?” he asked.

“Until now, I haven’t given it a lot of thought,” I said, unsure as to which direction he was leading.

“Did you ever read those books about that Swiss doctor who felt his body and soul had been taken over by a Benedictine monk? That presented a curious case. He claims that he was approached by the spirit of an elderly monk before he died, and that the monk needed to rent his body to continue his spiritual mission.”

“Rent?” I choked in disbelief.

“We truly don’t take anything with us when we pass on, do we? This monk knew he was dying and therefore needed to replace his physical body with something more youthful and vital.”

“That’s incredible. It debunks the theory that you need to die and be reborn as an infant to carry on your spirit.”

Mr. Doyle had the tinge of excitement in his voice.

“John, here’s another instance. I’ve had my suspicions about a famous musician who had an obsession about a notorious and controversial mystic. You’d surmise by his overwhelming attraction to that person he might’ve been him in a previous lifetime, but facts were clear he was born three years before the mystic died. My understanding is the mystic was aware he didn’t have long in his present incarnation. Therefore he made plans for some sort of partial soul transference while he was still alive to imprint his essence upon the child. That would’ve allowed him to carry on and accomplish unfinished business, which couldn’t have been executed otherwise. Essentially he had the ability of being two places at once.”

“Sounds more like Spiritualism,” I replied.

“Honestly, John, I don’t think there are any steadfast rules when it comes to this matter. That’s what makes it so intriguing.”

I sensed he had a secret agenda.

Doyle reloaded his churchwarden pipe with fresh tobacco and continued, “This is not at all like anything you’ve ever read from H.G. Wells or Jules Verne. We’re poking holes in every treatise written on the subject — the idea of being able to reincarnate a part of yourself while you are still alive into another soul.”

Our conversation was quickly becoming like a speeding train ready to jump the tracks. Realizing this, Doyle slowed down the pace and took a deep breath. He carefully composed his next statement.

“Fiction it may seem to be but it’s not hocus pocus. Don’t you also find it strange that you somehow found yourself initiated into a mystical order on a commuter train bound from London to Edinburgh when the instigators kept on mistaking you for me? There are no accidents.”

I became silent for a moment, stalling for time as I slowly raised my glass of ale to my lips. As soon as I fished a small red book out of my coat pocket and placed it on the table in front of us Arthur eyed it intently. It had been the source of intrigue, which led me to Doyle in the first place and piqued his curiosity as much as it did mine.

“Could I have done something terrible in my youth that caused this to happen?”

“You have no recollections, John?”

“I remember so little of my childhood. I wish I could.”

“You’re a smart young man. I’m sure you’ll come up with a clever deduction.”

Mr. Doyle paused to relight his pipe. He had an unnerving look in his eye, which I vainly tried to read into, but he took me for a spin when he brought up the next topic.

“On another note, John, have you ever considered that people are capable of communicating without speech, and I’m not talking about writing letters?”

“Pardon me?”

“Imagine communicating by mere thoughts. I’ve always wanted to experiment with someone open to these concepts. God knows — my brothers at the Society for Psychical Research certainly talk enough about it. My wife, Touie, has been an unwilling subject and is not the most objective choice.”

I looked at him, somewhat perplexed. “Are you asking me to accurately guess what you’re thinking?”

“Come now. We’ll play a game. I’ll form an image in my mind, and for the next minute I will try to project it into yours. Clear your thoughts of any distractions and be as receptive as possible,” he explained.

As much as I tried, I couldn’t have been more preoccupied. Images of that fateful event flashed through my brain. My recollections revealed my rain-soaked train ticket. I kept arguing with the steward about putting me in the wrong cabin. An erroneous judgment had been made when three strangers insisted I was Arthur. We were so different in physical appearance. He was a large, athletic man with a distinguished moustache. On the other hand, I had baby smooth skin and couldn’t grow facial hair to save my life. I was nearly twenty years younger and much shorter with wild auburn hair that resembled Maestro Beethoven’s with the exception of premature strands of gray.

So why was I singled out? Was there laudanum in my brandy? Details spun like a whirlwind. I must’ve been in a drug-induced stupor but I was initiated into some secret Masonic-like society, and when it was all over those mysterious men were gone. What remained were an engraved silver ring on my finger and an ominous red book on the seat beside me.

“Looks like you’ve seen a ghost.” Arthur broke my trance and realized my thoughts had been elsewhere.

“I felt like I had.” Barely able to articulate, I tried to tame my wild mane in place. Visions faded in and out. Timelines jumped. So I gulped down another swig of ale to focus on the present.

Arthur leaned in closer. “I can see you’re still worried about that event on the train. Those men have been after me for some time. Why? It’s hard to fathom. I’ll dilly dally with notions here and there about Sherlock Holmes and his partner, Watson, who fancy themselves as detectives. Me? I’m just a simple doctor and writer with interests in Spiritualism trying to find scientific explanations for the unknown.”

“Arthur, what would anyone want with an unassuming music student like me?”

“Personally, I don’t think this was A Case of Identity,” Arthur replied with a smile.

Obviously he meant to say my dilemma was not a case of mistaken identity, not the name of one of his famous Sherlock stories. He was pleased I caught the humor of his play on words.

“Perhaps it has something to do with that book,” he said pointing to the one I brought.

“I’m concerned it’s dangerous, that it’s a curse. I wish I had never found it.” I shoved it back into my pocket and drained my glass.

* * *

One week later as I was returning home from school, my landlady, Lydia Campbell, yelled from the kitchen as I trudged my muddied shoes through the front door of her boarding house. “John, a letter from Undershaw arrived for you today! I wonder whom it could be from? You don’t know anyone from Undershaw, do you?”

Oh, yes I did. I grabbed the letter and ran upstairs so fast I nearly tripped on my muffler and fell on my face. I poured myself a glass of port to calm my nerves, doffed my wet garments and sank into my most comfortable brass-studded leather chair I affectionately named my thinking chair, where I created many a melody in my head, could think deep thoughts, and drift off to dreamland.

* * *

Dear John,

I wholeheartedly enjoyed our conversation at the Deacon Brodie and kept my promise of a prompt reply. By now, you are well aware of my passion to explore the realms of Spiritualism and related paranormal phenomena far surpasses any personal interests involved with Sherlock Holmes. Public demand for my writing, however, exerts a strain on how much I can overtly reveal to even my most trusted colleagues. Whenever I indulge in any activity, be it a simple séance, investigating a revered medium or attending a meeting of the British Society for Psychical Research, it never fails to raise the eyebrows of my wary publishers and critics. It’s God’s honest truth that I believe in many of these inexplicable accounts. Even my father painted beautiful renditions of fairies, which I trust he witnessed with his own eyes. The betterment of mankind rests on embracing such theories once they are proven to exist by the scientific community. Thus, I’ll have to continue more controversial and debatable endeavors in utmost secrecy, or at least for the time being until more evidence can be brought to light.

Since you seem to be an open-minded young man who has already experienced some effects of the preternatural, this is my proposal: At midnight every night, we should conduct a variety of remote operations with the primary purpose of communicating through means of telepathy. Since I have a tendency to travel, we’ll have to make some sort of adjustment to take into account the different time zones. Of course, you must share this secret with nobody. Besides us, only my wife will know, although she will not participate.

When you shared the account of the strange commuter train incident that was enough to convince me that you would be the perfect partner for this private undertaking. Most assuredly, there was something you did in the past in the realm of the arcane to warrant such a chain of events. That was not mere happenstance, and now since you possess that enigmatic red book, I’m sure it will affect your life in ways you’ve never imagined.

My intentions have been to perform similar trial and error enterprises with Harry Houdini, a rising star whose stage performances have been astounding audiences, but his busy schedule has made it nearly impossible to coordinate such engagements with any sort of regularity. One of these days we’ll catch up. Meanwhile, I collect whatever news comes from across the herring-pond. At one point, he and I will develop a special relationship based on mutual interests.

Regarding the two of us, however, we’ll back up our observations with letters or telegrams as often as possible as proof of results, but those must be destroyed as soon as they are read. Once again, I cannot over emphasize the importance of confidentiality. Regardless, we must keep a faithful agreement, as skill will come with practice.

If you are willing to put aside any apprehensions regarding trains, I’ll pay for you to travel down to Undershaw and visit me on weekends whenever possible. My driver can meet you in London at a pre-arranged time. You’ll stay in one of our guest bedrooms, and as long as you don’t mind the children and can tolerate what our kitchen staff provides, you’ll be well taken care of. That’ll give us the opportunity to expand our repertoire and commence further psychical experimentation with ectoplasm, spirit photography and astral projection. And bring the red book. I’d like a chance to look at it.

I’ve also desired a partner to accompany me for ghost sightings and occult investigations. For all we know with the knowledge gained, we might even break through the barriers of time. That would certainly give Bertie (H.G. Wells) a shock to the senses, proving his imagination does not merely dwell in the realm of fiction. We’ve been at odds on this topic for years.

Regarding telepathic technique, I can only suggest you conduct yourself in a way as you see fit. Personally, I don’t give credence to things like magical amulets, but if it helps to have an etheric link, use this letter you hold in your hand, as it contains my heart, soul and signature with a drop of blood, which I added to the ink. You might wish to reciprocate.

Let’s raise our glasses to honor the quest of conquering the unknown.

Arthur Conan Doyle

* * *

So, Arthur was serious when he first brought up the subject. When he and I left the pub, I really didn’t know what to think. After all, he was a famous author, and I was merely a student. What possessed him to choose me for such an engagement?

I shuffled through my schoolwork to find my pen and ink and a fresh sheet of paper. Blood, I needed blood. Ah, my razor! That would work. I fetched my shaving kit and winced as I drew a few drops. I scribbled a swift, affirmative reply with the blood-tainted ink, mailed the letter the following day and looked forward to our first otherworldly encounter.

***

Excerpt from The Time Traveler Professor, Book One: Silent Meridian by Elizabeth Crowens. Copyright © 2019 by Elizabeth Crowens. Reproduced with permission from Elizabeth Crowens. All rights reserved.

 

 

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