May 112017
 

Code Blood

by Kurt Kamm

on Tour April 1 – May 31, 2017

Synopsis:

Code Blood by Kurt Kamm

Colt Lewis, a rookie fire paramedic, is obsessed with finding the severed foot of his first victim after she dies in his arms. His search takes him into the connected lives of a graduate research student, with the rarest blood in the world and the vampire fetishist who is stalking her. Within the corridors of high-stakes medical research laboratories, the shadow world of body parts dealers, and the underground Goth clubs of Los Angeles, Lewis uncovers a tangled maze of needles, drugs and maniacal ritual, all of which lead to death. But whose death? An unusual and fast-paced LA Noir thriller.

Stop by tomorrow to read my review

Book Details:

Genre: Suspense, Vampire
Published by: MCM Publishing
Publication Date: October 2012
Number of Pages: 233
ISBN: 0979855136 (ISBN13: 9780979855139)
Series: Code Blood is a Stand Alone Novel
Purchase Links: Amazon 🔗 | Barnes & Noble 🔗 | Goodreads 🔗

Code Blood Literary Awards:

  • Writer’s Type – First Chapter Competition. January 2011- First Place
  • 2012 International Book Awards – Fiction: Cross Genre Category – First Place
  • National Indie Excellence Book Awards – Faction (fiction based on fact) – Winner of the 2012 Award
  • The 2012 USA Best Book Awards – Fiction: Horror – Winner
  • LuckyCinda Publishing Contest 2013 First Place – Thriller
  • Reader’s Favorite 2013– Finalist – Horror Fiction
  • Knoxville Writer’s Guild – 2011 Novella or Novel Excerpt – 2nd Place

Read an excerpt:

Colt heard a small chopper. It sounded like a lawnmower. He knew it couldn’t be the AirSquad and looked up. A news helicopter circled overhead. He saw another coming up the coast from Los Angeles. In minutes, news crews in vans would arrive, extend their satellite transmission poles, broadcast pictures of the accident and fan out to find people to interview. In the process, several spectators would have a moment of fame on Los Angeles network television. The accident would be a good lead-in on the 11:00 p.m. Sunday night news, but the anchors would be disappointed that a Malibu celebrity wasn’t involved.

Moose joined them with the backboard and laid it down next to the girl’s body.

Brian checked the C-spine. “Ready guys? On my count.”

The men prepared to roll the girl on her side.

“Be careful,” Colt said.

Brian gave Colt a quick look and said, “One, two, three.”

In unison, they rolled her onto her side, Moose pushed the board in toward her and the men laid her back onto it.

Colt thought he heard her utter a faint moan. While Brian secured the head brace and straps across her body and prepared her for transport across the beach, he looked at her bloodied leg again. “Where’s the foot?” he shouted. “Does someone have her foot?” She still wore one delicate leather sandal.

“We can’t find the sucker,” one of the deputies told Colt.

“Can’t find it? How’s that possible?” Colt said. The girl needed her foot. They had to ice it down before the tissue started to die. It might be reattached. “It has to be here somewhere.” He went over to the damaged pickup.

The driver of the truck sat with his head down, behind the metal screen in the back seat of a black and white. A sheriff’s deputy stood outside, questioning him through the window and writing on his notepad. Colt interrupted. “Where’s the foot?” He was met with a shrug and a blank stare from the deputy. Colt looked at the driver of the pickup, a man about his own age, and hated him.

Colt walked around the pickup. Glass shards from a headlight and pieces of plastic lay on the ground. He knelt in a pool of green coolant dripping from the smashed radiator and looked under the front of the truck. The foot wasn’t there. He stood up and looked around.

Thirty or forty people stood in the parking lot watching the activity.

Excerpt from Code Blood by Kurt Kamm. Copyright © 2012 by Kurt Kamm. Reproduced with permission from Kurt Kamm. All rights reserved.

Author Bio:

Kurt KammMalibu, California resident Kurt Kamm has written a series of firefighter mystery novels which have won several literary awards. He is also the author of The Lizard’s Tale, which provides a unique look inside the activities of the Mexican drug cartels and the men dedicated to stopping them.

Kurt has used his contacts with several California fire departments, as well as with the ATF and DEA to write fact-based (“faction”) novels.

In his chilling and suspenseful multi-award winning novel, Code Blood, Kurt takes the reader into the connected lives of a fire paramedic, a Chinese research student with the rarest blood type in the world, and the blood-obsessed killer who stalks her.

Colt Lewis, a young Los Angeles County fire paramedic responds to a fatal accident. The victim dies in his arms. Her foot has been severed but is nowhere to be found. Who is the woman, and what happened to her foot? During a weeklong search, Colt risks his career to find the victim’s identity and her missing foot. His search leads him to a dark and disturbing side of Los Angeles…an underworld of body part dealers and underground Goth clubs. He uncovers a tangled maze of drugs, needles, and rituals.

Emergency medicine, high-tech medical research, and the unsettling world of blood fetishism and body parts make for an edgy L.A. Noir thriller.

Kurt has built an avid fan base among first responders and other readers. A graduate of Brown University and Columbia Law School, Kurt was previously a financial executive and semi-professional bicycle racer. He was also Chairman of the UCLA/Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center Foundation for several years.

Q&A with Kurt Kamm

Welcome!

Writing and Reading:
Do you draw from personal experiences?
My first writing instructor said, “write what you know.” I have found that you can ”know” a lot more by doing research. Today on the Internet, you can research anything, and see pictures of everything. In Code Blood, I have a scene at a funeral home. It would be easy to imagine one, but I searched for pictures until I found a unique looking place, a large house, which was much better than I could have ever imagined. Similarly, I have a scene at night on the Santa Monica Pier, and standing there at 10:00 P.M. after the shops closed, I saw and saw some pretty strange things. Also, joining chat rooms on various topics is very instructive. For Code Blood, I visited several very weird discussions where people were obsessing about vampires, discussing blood types, tattoos, and some things I would never have imagined. Personal experience can take you only so far, research and the Internet can take you anywhere.

When I finished Code Blood I had to laugh at some of the characters I had created, personalities who were not in my knowledge base when I began.

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 heard that some mystery authors outline every chapter, some even every paragraph, before they begin their novels. I’ve never even been able to list my chapters when I start a novel. I begin with an idea and a couple of vague characters and just start writing. There are adjustments, and some deleting and pasting along the way, but my characters lead me. They live their own lives and tell me what to write.

In the case of Code Blood, a paramedic at a fire station near my house on Pacific Coast Highway told me a true story about responding to an accident where the victim’s foot had been severed. It took him almost 30 minutes to find it, lodged beneath a pickup truck which was involved in the accident. That started me thinking….what if some weirdo walked out of a nearby restaurant, saw the foot and picked it up? What if it was the paramedic’s first accident and he became obsessed with finding the foot. Voila, a plot.

Are any of your characters based on you or people that you know?
I think all my characters have personality traits or quirks which I have seen in my lifetime, but no character is specifically based on a single person I have known. Again, in Code Blood, I would be embarrassed to admit I know some of the characters.

Your routine when writing? Any idiosyncrasies?
I try to write 2-3 hours most days. I write in the afternoon, and need complete silence. From my kitchen window, I can look out on the Pacific Ocean. Years ago, I was a competitive cyclist, and still do very hard, 3 hour rides every other day. During those rides, my mind can just drift. I often solve plot problems, and advance the story while I am riding. It’s a very creative time, the challenge is to remember what I have thought about by the time I get home, exhausted. Also I keep paper and pen by my bed, because sometimes in the middle of the night I will wake up with an idea which will be gone in the morning if I don’t write it down.

Tell us why we should read this book.
I think it is a fun read, filled with interesting characters. Markus, a strange kid who thinks he’s a vampire, will be someone you will love to hate. Colt, the dedicated paramedic is someone you will love. The Russian body parts dealers? Well, let’s just say I had a ball imagining them. You will also get a good look at emergency medicine, high tech medical research, rare blood types, and the underside of Los Angeles.

Who are some of your favorite authors?/What are you reading now?
I have read everything by Hemingway and F Scott. I like Ewan McGregor, James Salter and Stuart O’Nan. Recent books, which I really liked include: The North Water, The Lost City of the Monkey God, Night of Fire, and The Devils of Cardona.

Are you working on your next novel? Can you tell us a little about it?
After 6 novels in 10 years, I’m taking a break.

Your favorite leisure activity/hobby?
I am an exercise freak. Riding my bike and weight workouts are a must. I also (surprise) read a lot.

Favorite meal?
I’m glad you asked. Markus’ favorite meal would simply be a tiny vial of dark red Bombay Blood, the rarest blood type in the world. He empty a few drops at a time onto his tongue, letting it rest there while he imagined all the incredible things it would do inside his body. (Poor Markus, what a fool.) As he swallowed, he would think of how valuable Bombay Blood is, and how much money he could get if he sold it.

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

Visit his author website at kurtkamm.com 🔗 & on Facebook!

Tour Participants:

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Giveaway:

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May 102017
 

Crossing the Street

by Molly D. Campbell

on Tour May 9 – July 7, 2017

Crossing the Street by Molly D. Campbell

Book Details

Genre: Women’s Fiction
Published by: The Story Plant
Publication Date: May 9, 2017
Number of Pages: 290

Purchase Crossing the Street on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Goodreads

Synopsis:

This wasn’t the way Beck Throckmorton had planned it. She wasn’t expecting to find herself in her thirties writing erotica and making flat whites for a living while she stewed over that fact that her ex had wound up with her sister. She never saw herself living in a small suburban Ohio town with an octogenarian neighbor best friend. And she definitely wouldn’t have imagined the eight-year-old great-granddaughter of that friend turning her world upside down.

As summer comes around, Beck’s life is unsettled in every way. And that’s before the crazy stuff starts: the sister taunting her with her pregnancy, the infuriatingly perfect boyfriend, the multiple trips to the emergency room. The needy, wise-beyond-her-years little girl finding places in her heart that Beck didn’t even know existed.

Beck has found herself at an emotional intersection she never anticipated. And now it’s time to cross the street.

CROSSING THE STREET is a funny, touching novel that brims life’s complexities. Filled with characters both distinctive and welcomingly familiar, it is a story that will entertain and enlighten.

MY REVIEW

5 stars

Rebecca Throckmorton, aka Becca, leads a pretty simple life as a FT erotica author and PT barista. Never wanting children, and a bit of baggage with her father abandoning the family at an early age and her sister marrying her ex-boyfriend, she is content with just her friends including her elderly friend across the street.

Her elderly neighbor’s great granddaughter, a precocious 8 year old, moves in and to Becca’s surprise, not only befriends Bob, aka Roberta, but helps in the care of both the grandmother and the granddaughter. Becca’s life is about to change.

I loved this book! Nothing is better than an author’s descriptive writing that can transport the reader into the story, and this author did just that. Tears, laughter, compassion, anger, are just some of what this reader felt.

A poignant and compelling read. I am hoping, and even hinting to the author, that I hope there is a sequel coming!!!!!!

Read an excerpt:

My life isn’t exactly bright and shiny. My name is Rebecca Throckmorton. I live in a small town, and I muddle along as best I can. Four scenes from my world:

Scene one: I am at the grocery store. Aimlessly wandering down the produce aisle, looking at the grocery list, as usual, in my mother’s elegant hand. What the hell is a rutabaga, and why do we need one? Suddenly, I see my father, who is long gone from our family—divorce. He is wearing a gold golf shirt, his khaki slacks, crisp and unwrinkled. His hair from the back is a bit silvery, as I am sure it would be after being away from our family for all these years. My heart lurches—He’s back! He came back! I abandon my cart and nearly bowl over a woman studying kiwis, knocking the one in her hand to the ground. I don’t even stop to apologize, because my dad. I come up behind him, breathe in his cologne—yup, Eau de Sauvage. I reach out to touch his shoulder, and he turns around. I gasp. The man is definitely not Dexter Throckmorton. Instead of a Roman nose, this guy has a schnozz. There is awful hair growing out of his nostrils. His eyes are not velvety and black, like my father’s—they are a watery gray and clouded with cataracts. He hears me gasp and asks, “Do I know you?” I abandon the rutabaga and rush out of the store, grocery list still crushed between my fingers.

Scene two: My sister’s wedding. I am wearing a sleeveless, misty green satin dress with two small lines of silver sequins along the bodice. The misty green is reflected in my coloring and makes me look slightly vomitous. I feel about to vomit, since my sister Diana is marrying my former boyfriend, Bryan Dallas, who stands at the end of the aisle, beaming, his horn rims polished so highly I worry that he might start a fire with their refractions into the balcony. As D comes down the aisle on my mother’s arm (see divorce, above), my mother looking for all the world like an aging Audrey Hepburn in a slender tube of taupe silk, I look down at my bouquet and stifle the impulse to hurl it in my sister’s smug, highly-made-up-with-false-eyelashes-and-dewy-lip-gloss face.

Scene three: Me and my girlfriend, Ella Bowers. I sit with her in front of the TV. We like to watch really old reruns of Lawrence Welk that I found for her on the Family Network. Ella pats down her soft, fluffy lavender white hair, and every time Myron Floren comes on comments how much her mother “just loved that man and his accordion.” I nod and agree, because I don’t intend to hurt her feelings—Ella is eighty-three, and I don’t want her to get riled up and have a stroke. I notice my cut glass tumbler of iced tea is empty, and I offer to go into the kitchen of her cozy bungalow and get us each some more.

Scene four: My day job and what really pays the bills. I get home from my part-time job at Starbucks at four. I stretch, try to do the downward facing dog, and fail, as usual, about three quarters of the way down. My cat, Simpson, ambles over for a purr, and then I go and pee, change into sweats, and sit down at my computer, where I pound out a scene in which four orgasms occur within the space of twenty minutes between Travis and Crystal, who are extremely talented genitally. My latest book, Boys on the Beach, is under contract and due at my publisher in two months. When I think about this, sweat pools into the cups of my bra, because I am behind schedule, and erotica pays the bills, not venti lattes.

There you have it.

Author Bio:

Molly D. Campbell

Molly D. Campbell is a two-time Erma Bombeck Writing Award winner and the author of one previous novel, Keep the Ends Loose. Molly blogs at http://mollydcampbell.com. Also an artist, Molly’s work can be found at http://www.cafepress.com/notexactlypicasso;. Molly lives in Dayton with her accordionist husband and four cats.

Catch Up With Molly: Website | Twitter | Facebook

Tour Host Participants:



Here’s Your Chance to WIN!

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Providence Book Promotions for Molly D. Campbell and The Story Plant. There will be 1 winner of 1 Amazon.com Gift Card AND 3 winners of 1 eBook copy of KEEP THE ENDS LOOSE by Molly D. Campbell. The giveaway begins on May 1st and runs through July 8th, 2017. This giveaway is for US residents only. Void where prohibited by law.

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May 082017
 

Glasgow Kiss

by Alex Gray

on Tour May 15-31, 2017

Synopsis:

Glasgow Kiss by Alex Gray

Eric Chalmers is one of the most popular teachers at Muirpark Secondary School in Glasgow. Gentle and kind, he is the one adult students trust as a confidant. So when precocious teenager Julie Donaldson accuses Chalmers of rape, the school goes into shock. How could a deeply religious family man like Chalmers do such a thing? With some students and teachers supporting Julie, and others standing by Chalmers, life at Muirpark is far from harmonious. And then the situation gets much worse – Julie Donaldson goes missing, and the police are called in.

For DCI William Lorimer, this is the second missing persons case in a week. He’s had too many sleepless nights worrying about a toddler who has been missing for several days. Julie’s disappearance adds a further burden to Lorimer’s already overstretched workload. With each day, the likelihood of either girl being found alive diminishes, and Lorimer finds himself racing against the clock to save innocent lives.

MY REVIEW

5 stars

In this book, DCI William Lorimer has his hands full with 2 missing girls. One, a child snatched right in front of her house and an older female, who happens to be a student from his wife’s English class and who has accused another teacher of rape. Are these 2 cases related? But it gets worse, one of them has been found murdered and more bodies are turning up in the same vicinity.

Alex Gray’s writing style is so descriptive that it pulls the reader right into the story. The suspense continues throughout the book without pause.

This is the 3rd book in the series that I have read, THE RIVERMAN and PITCH BLACK and this one did not disappoint. I highly recommend this book and others by this author. Great reads!!!

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery
Published by: Harper Witness
Publication Date: May 9th 2017
Number of Pages: 368
ISBN: 0062659162 (ISBN13: 9780062659163)
Series: DCI Lorimer #6
Purchase Links: Amazon 🔗 | Barnes & Noble 🔗 | Goodreads 🔗

Read an excerpt:

They were walking a little apart now. Her face was in profile, half shaded by the overhanging trees so that he could not make out her expression, though from time to time he would sneak a glance to see if she was looking his way. Her long pale-golden hair was twisted into plaits, leaving the cheekbones naked and exposed. It should have made her seem like a child but instead she looked older, more remote, and Kyle wished she’d left it loose as she usually did, burnished and glimmering in the afternoon sunshine.

It hadn’t always been like this. They’d walked through Dawsholm Park loads of times, sometimes hand in hand, dawdling by the grass verges, snatching the chance to have a quick kiss.

But now, Kyle thought gloomily, these halcyon days were over. Halcyon had been Kyle’s favourite word last term. His English teacher, Mrs. Lorimer, had explained that it derived from a Greek story about a mythical bird that in the middle of winter made its nest floating upon the Aegean seas. The bird had magical powers to make the waters calm and the winds drop. Kyle loved that story and had used the word in his own mind to describe his relationship with Julie. He’d even dreamed of them once – floating together like that bird, side by side, waves lapping gently against their boat. Something made him shiver suddenly and the girl turned to him, a question in her eyes. Kyle shook his head, too full to speak. She was still watching him and must have seen the bob of his Adam’s apple as he swallowed back the tears.

‘All right?’ Her voice was full of concern, but not for what was happening between them. Not for that.

‘Aye, fine,’ he replied but failed to stifle the sigh escaping from his chest. Would she stick with him out of pity after seeing his battered face? Part of him wanted to have Julie around, her warmth and loveliness blotting out the misery of the last two days. But deep down he knew he’d lost her long before his father’s release from prison.

‘Kyle?’

‘What?’

‘D’you want to talk about it?’ She had stopped walking now and was looking at him, frowning. ‘It might help . . .’ Her voice trailed off in an unspoken apology.

Kyle shrugged. He hadn’t talked about it to anyone though he’d done a fair amount of listening. His gran’s house had been full of talk: recriminations, wild accusations and shouting. But that was because women did that sort of thing. And because Kyle was Gran’s favourite, the youngest of her three grandsons. His brothers and his gran: they all had something to say about what Tam Kerrigan had done, and not just to him. That was one reason why he was here, with Julie, to escape from all of the talk. But also he’d been interested in the bit about the murder victim, in spite of everything. What happened to a dead person at a post-mortem examination?

He’d looked up stuff on the net, reading in a detached way about incisions and bodily fluids, not really making a link with the dead man his father had killed. Even the illustrations on the Internet site hadn’t put him off. It was like selecting bits of vacuum-packed butcher meat from the supermarket shelves and not seeing the animal they’d come from. Not like in the school trip to France where you were in no doubt about the origin of your dinner. One of the lassies had nearly thrown up that time someone had served up a chicken with everything still attached, the yellow claws curled over the platter and the head all to one side; you could imagine its squawk as the neck had been wrung.

‘Kyle?’ Julie’s voice broke into his thoughts and he looked up, seeing her staring at him, a tiny crease between her eyes.

‘Och, I’m okay,’ he told her, then dropped his gaze, unable to bear the kindness in her face. ‘The bruises’ll be gone in a day or so. Probably by the time we go back to school,’ he added.

‘Are you going back right away?’

Kyle shrugged again. ‘Why not? Can’t see what good it’ll do me to hang around the house.’ He paused to let the unspoken words sink in.

Keeping out of the house meant keeping away from his father. They walked on again in silence but this time Julie reached out for his hand and he took it, feeling its warmth, glad to have her there. It would be okay. There might be folk staring at him, curious to know the truth behind what the papers said about Tam Kerrigan, but if Julie was there, even as a friend, he’d manage all right. All summer they’d talked about the advantages of being in Fourth Year, both excited, dropping the pretence of being too cool to show it. His mouth twisted at the memory. That had been another person, a young carefree creature whose whole life had stretched before him like an open road. Now that person was dead and gone, his boyhood behind him for ever.

Excerpt from Glasgow Kiss by Alex Gray. Copyright © 2017 by Alex Gray. Reproduced with permission from Harper Witness. All rights reserved.

Author Bio:

Alex Gray

Alex Gray was born and educated in Glasgow. After studying English and Philosophy at the University of Strathclyde, she worked as a visiting officer for the Department of Health, a time she looks upon as postgraduate education since it proved a rich source of character studies. She then trained as a secondary school teacher of English.

Alex began writing professionally in 1993 and had immediate success with short stories, articles, and commissions for BBC radio programs. She has been awarded the Scottish Association of Writers’ Constable and Pitlochry trophies for her crime writing.

A regular on the Scottish bestseller lists, she is the author of thirteen DCI Lorimer novels. She is the co-founder of the international Scottish crime writing festival, Bloody Scotland, which had its inaugural year in 2012.

Connect with Alex Gray on her Website 🔗 & Twitter 🔗.

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Giveaway:

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Alex Gray and William Morrow. There will be 3 winners for an eBook of THE RIVERMAN. The giveaway begins on April 13th and runs through June 2nd, 2017. This giveaway is for US residents only. Void where prohibited by law.

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Apr 292017
 

Giacomo Giammatteo

A Kiss is Just a Kiss…

Or so states the line from “As Time Goes By,” the song made immortal when Dooley Wilson sang it for Ingrid Bergman in the movie Casablanca.

While a kiss might be “just a kiss,” most of the time, there are “special” kisses. I’ll bet you remember your first kiss and maybe a few others. Some kisses are so special you’ll never forget them.

When you’re writing about a kiss, you can’t just describe it and have it mean anything. No matter how great you are at describing a kiss, it has to mean something to the characters if you want it to have meaning for the readers. In other words, if a kiss is to have impact, it has to have a story.

Different Kinds of Kisses

Peck on the cheek
Reluctant kiss
Stolen kiss
Sloppy kiss
French kiss
Passionate kiss
Goodbye kiss
A kiss hello
A good-morning kiss
A good-night kiss
An I-want-you kiss
An after-the-fact kiss.
The list goes on and on. But no matter the kiss, it has to have a story. Think of some of the most famous movie kisses:

Gone With The Wind, when Rhett Butler proposed to Scarlett and kissed her while Atlanta burned in the background.

Pretty Woman, when, after proclaiming throughout the movie that she doesn’t kiss clients, Julia Roberts’ white knight finally came to get her and they kissed.

From Here to Eternity, when Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr shocked the movie-going audiences with their passionate kiss on the beach.

Casablanca, when Bogart reunited with Ingrid Bergman in his upstairs apartment.

The Princess Bride. Who can ever forget the “kiss to end all kisses.”

I was writing a scene the other night that had a kiss in it. I got to thinking about the different kinds of kisses and realized the one I was writing had no meaning. Then I thought of a story to get my point across. Of course the story was from one of the animals on our sanctuary. In order to appreciate it, though, you’ll have to get to know my dog…

Whiskers

I’ll start off the story by telling you flat out—if Whiskers were a human, she’d be a hermit. To call Whiskers independent would be a gross understatement. Aloof wouldn’t come close. Anti-social would be closer to the truth.

We have an animal sanctuary with forty plus animals, and twelve of them are dogs. Whiskers won’t sleep or eat with any of them. Dogs are pack animals; they’re supposed to want to live together. Not Whiskers.

We first met Whiskers when she was two months old. She was living in a drainage ditch under a little bridge. I used to joke that she was like the troll from the children’s story, Three Billy Goats Gruff.

For about a year or so she lived by herself on the street. One day she got hit by a car and couldn’t walk. We took her in and tended to her. For a month my son carried her outside every day to let her go to the bathroom. He took care of her until she was able to manage by herself again. She stayed with us after that, but it was on her terms.

Whiskers’ Rules

She wouldn’t drink from inside the house
Wouldn’t sleep with other dogs
Wouldn’t sleep inside at night
Wouldn’t live with other dogs
Wouldn’t eat with other dogs
Wouldn’t stay in the fenced area
In return for our generosity, Whiskers appointed herself guardian of our property, about 15 acres. Every night for the past ten years, she has stayed outside, through heat, rain, cold…it didn’t matter. She has fought with, and driven off, stray dogs; chased deer; fought coyotes; and even held her ground against wild pigs, though she stopped short of fighting them.

A Crippling Event

A few months ago, while I was writing, I heard a noise outside. When I looked, I found Whiskers dragging herself toward the house. Her back legs weren’t working; she was crippled. I carried her in, and the next day we took her to the vet. He didn’t give us much hope. We kept her in the clinic for two weeks, but she still couldn’t walk. We decided to take her home.

For three more weeks we gave her pills and carried her out every day. There had been slight improvement, but not much. She still couldn’t walk ten feet without falling down. We decided we’d give it another few weeks.

Disappearance

The next morning around 6:30, I fed Dennis, our wild boar, fed the horse, gave Whiskers her anti-inflammatory pill and took her outside, then went to the kitchen to make coffee. When I finished my coffee I went back outside to get her—she was gone!

I looked everywhere and couldn’t find her, so I got my wife and we both looked. Then we got the tractor and drove around the property—through the woods, around the pond… She was nowhere! I got that sick feeling in my gut. Something was wrong.

We started at square one. This time I walked every inch of the property, calling her name the whole time. After almost an hour, as I was making my way around the pond for the second time, I heard a whimper. I looked but couldn’t see her. I called her name, and again I heard a tiny whimper. It was coming from the pond!

Rescue

As you can see from the picture, the pond has been invaded by giant salvinia, a species of plant from South America that takes over in a matter of weeks. It is damn near impossible to get rid of.

When I got to the edge of the pond, all I could see was her nose, and, when she bobbed her head, a bit of her mouth. She went under just as I got there. I jumped in and briefly went under, all the time I worried that the giant salvinia might be much more than an invasive plant species. Images from Aliens which I had watched a few nights before came to mind. Suddenly the salvinia seemed to have “hands” or at least “grippers.”

I grabbed hold of Whiskers and tried getting to the shore. My headset fell off and submerged. My iPhone, always in my shirt pocket, went down for the third time, and I prayed that it was not the metaphorical “third time” like in the movies. All the while, Whiskers struggled to stay afloat in my arms, and I struggled to stay on my feet, as the bottom of the pond puts the definition of slippery to shame.

To top it off, I must tell you, I’m not a water person. I have no fish in my ancestry. Not anywhere. I grew up in the city, and while we had a public pool a few blocks from the house, I think it costs a dime to get in. Dimes were better spent on cigarettes in those days.

So there I was, slipping my way toward the very-steep bank, and struggling to keep Whisker’s head above water. Oh, and I wondered aloud, with more than a few curse words, why I ever wanted to live in the country.

I managed to get Whiskers to the side of the bank and push her up on it, but she kept sliding back. The floor of the pond had a steep slope and I couldn’t keep balanced. I finally found a foothold on a branch from a tree. I gave Whiskers one big push, stabilized my position, and managed to crawl out onto the ground next to her. While I lay there on the bank with Whiskers, I leaned in close and said, “You damn crazy dog. You almost killed us both.”

She let out a small whimper, and then she did something she has never done. Not once in the ten years I’ve had her—she reached up and kissed me.

That might not seem like much for you people reading this. It’s not much for any dog. But for Whiskers—it’s a lot.

Whiskers Has Never Kissed Anyone.

Not my son, when he carried her outside every day for a month after she was hit by a car.
Not my wife, when she spent days tending to Whiskers after a copperhead bit her and her face swelled until she looked as if she had a grapefruit attached to it.
Whiskers has never kissed my grandkids, my niece, or me. No one! Ever.
That kiss was magic! There’s no doubt in my mind what it was. It was a “thank-you” kiss.

The Bottom Line

If I told someone, “I got a kiss from my dog Whiskers today,” it wouldn’t mean much. But if they knew Whiskers, and what it took to get a kiss from her, it would carry a lot more weight.

So the next time you’re writing a scene with a kiss, think about Whiskers, and make that kiss magical.

PS. Now that I know what it takes to get a kiss from Whiskers…I hope I never get another.

Ciao,

Giacomo

Author Bio:

Giacomo Giammatteo

Giacomo Giammatteo is the author of gritty crime dramas about murder, mystery, and family. He also writes non-fiction books including the No Mistakes Careers series.

When Giacomo isn’t writing, he’s helping his wife take care of the animals on their sanctuary. At last count they had 45 animals—11 dogs, a horse, 6 cats, and 26 pigs.

Oh, and one crazy—and very large—wild boar, who takes walks with Giacomo every day and happens to also be his best buddy.

Visit Giacomo on his Website 🔗, Twitter 🔗, Facebook 🔗 and Goodreads 🔗 pages!

Whiskers and Bear by Giacomo Giammatteo

Book Details

Genre: Non-Fiction, Animals

Published by: Inferno Publishing Company

Publication Date: April 2017

Number of Pages: 150

ISBN:

Purchase Links: Whiskers and Bear on Amazon Whiskers and Bear on Barnes & Noble Whiskers and Bear on Kobo Whiskers and Bear on Goodreads

Whiskers and Bear Book Launch

Out of all the books I’ve written (almost thirty), this one is closest to my heart. For twenty-four years, my wife and I have run an animal sanctuary, providing homes for dogs, cats, pigs, horses, and even a wild boar. I don’t know how many animals we’ve had through the years in total, but at one time, we had as many as fifty-five.

A Plea For Help


I don’t often ask for help, but this is important. We have run this sanctuary for twenty-four years using our own money—no donations to speak of. The feed bill alone was more than a thousand dollars per month. And there are plenty of other bills, vets, fencing, shelter, medical supplies, and more.
In early 2015, I had two heart attacks followed by two strokes. The result was that it left me disabled. Now it is difficult to continue paying for everything.
I wrote this book in the hopes that it would sell enough to help with the funds, as all sales go to the animals. And I mean that—every penny goes to help support them—nothing for anyone else.

Synopsis:

Whiskers and Bear were two of the best dogs in the world. They didn’t always listen or even try to listen, but they were loyal to a fault, and they were the best of friends. They hunted all of their food, and they protected our animal sanctuary with no regard for their own safety.

Check out my review HERE.

And don’t forget to enter the giveaway. Click on WHISKERS & BEAR (in the sidebar) for a chance to win.

I am offering a $20. GC, either Amazon or B&N, whichever the winner prefers. Just a suggestion….if you enter the giveaway, please consider purchasing WHISKERS & BEAR. Thank you.

Read an excerpt:

Another Grave

I climbed up onto the tractor, a Kubota 4630, with a six-foot bucket on the front. It was a powerful machine, and we’d put it through the hoops more than a few times. What I mean is that my wife Mikki and I had dug a lot of graves.

I tied an old cloth diaper around my forehead and draped the end of it over the top of my bald head. There wasn’t much better than a cotton cloth for keeping sweat out of your eyes, or the sun from burning your head. I turned the key and revved the engine. After letting it idle a moment, I lifted the bucket and drove toward the south side of the property where Mikki was waiting for me. She’d already gotten a few blankets and a clean sheet. For this one, she’d brought a pillow, too.

I reached up and wiped my eyes. I was getting damn tired of burying things.

An old white pickup crept down the gravel driveway, coming to a stop near the fence.

A neighbor leaned out and hollered. “What’s goin’ on?”

I wished he’d have kept going.

“Nothin’,” I said, but not loud enough for him to hear.

The door opened, and he stepped out and walked over to the fence, using his right hand to shield his eyes from the sun as he peered over the top rail.

“What are you doin’?”

I could see there was no getting away from it. I muttered my answer a few times so my voice wouldn’t crack when I yelled.

“Diggin’ a grave,” I hollered back.

“A grave? Which one died?”

Which one? That’s what it had come to for most of the neighbors and relatives and friends. Which one died. As if it didn’t matter. As if having forty-five animals made it easier to deal with when one of them died.

He came in through the side gate and headed in my direction. He walked slowly, which gave me time to compose myself. It’s never easy to bury a friend, but this one…this one was special.

Mikki walked over to me. “He’s just trying to help.”

I nodded.

I don’t need his help, I thought, but the fact of the matter was I could probably use it.

It hadn’t rained in weeks, and the damn Texas ground was as hard as concrete. Even if the tractor did cut through, it could only go so deep; we’d have hand work to do at the bottom.

Our neighbor was about twenty feet away. He took off his hat and swiped at his forehead. It was a scorcher today and had been for a month or so.

“Who was it?” he asked.

I couldn’t say, but I managed to gesture toward Mikki. She lifted the corner of the blanket so he could see.

“Oh shit!” he said. “I’m sorry.”

“Thanks,” I said.

He unbuttoned his shirt and grabbed a shovel I had leaning against a small oak tree. “Might as well get this done.”

I nodded again. He was right, of course, but I was in no hurry to put another friend in the ground. I cranked the engine up a little higher, shoved the tractor into low gear, and positioned the bucket for the first scoop of dirt. The bucket hit the ground with a metallic thud. It didn’t do much more than break the surface.

“Whew!” the neighbor said. “Going to be a long day.”

“That’s for sure.”

“How long have they been with you?” he asked.

They. I thought about what he said. I would have laughed if not for the circumstances. Everyone referred to the two of them as one. They or them. Bear and Whiskers. Whiskers and Bear. It was a cold day in July if anyone mentioned one without the other.

I handed him my bottle of water; he looked thirsty.

“They’ve been with us a long time. A damn long time.”

***

Excerpt from Whiskers and Bear by Giacomo Giammatteo. Copyright © 2017 by Giacomo Giammatteo. Reproduced with permission from Giacomo Giammatteo. All rights reserved.

Follow Giacomo’s WHISKERS & BEAR tour with Reviews, Guest Posts, Interviews and a chance to win an eBook copy starting May 1st at Providence Book Promotions

Apr 262017
 

Big City Heat: A Brack Pelton Mystery

by David Burnsworth

on Tour April 24 – May 26, 2017

Synopsis:

Big City Heat: A Brack Pelton Mystery by David Burnsworth

Lowcountry bar owner and ex-Marine Brack Pelton heads to Atlanta in the wake of a panicked 3 AM phone call. A woman is missing and Brack’s friend Mutt is in danger. Brack’s old flame, investigative news correspondent Darcy Wells, now lives there and is set to marry another man. If Brack was honest with himself, and he usually wasn’t, he’d realize that the missing woman isn’t the reason for his visit. His Semper Fi buddy Mutt can handle himself just fine.

When Brack and Mutt team up to find the woman, the Atlanta underworld revolts, the two biggest players target them, and people start dying. Most people would size up the situation, call it impossible, and walk away. But most people are not Brack Pelton. Impossible situations are his specialty. He made it through Afghanistan and when the military commanders mistook suicidal tendencies for leadership qualities they promoted him. Can Brack succeed at finding the woman, protecting his friend, and winning the girl without destroying the Capital of the South? Not since Sherman’s march across Georgia has the city of Atlanta been in this much danger.

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery
Published by: Henery Press
Publication Date: April 25, 2017
Number of Pages: 212
ISBN: 9781635111996
Series: A Brack Pelton Mystery Book, 3
Purchase Links: Amazon 🔗 | Barnes & Noble 🔗 | Goodreads 🔗

Read an excerpt:

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me…
Psalm 23:4

Atlanta, Georgia, Wednesday night, Mid-May

Brack Pelton waited in his Porsche by a no-parking zone in a very bad part of the city and watched someone he thought he knew well climb out of an old Eldorado convertible. The man entered a ramshackle building with a neon beer mug shining through its one dirty window.

Easing away from the red-marked bus stop, Brack found a better location down the block and pulled in. Before getting out of the Porsche, he woke Shelby, his tan mixed-breed dog slumbering in the backseat, and pulled a forty-five from the glovebox. He verified a round was chambered.

Shelby licked his lips and gave a quick bark as Brack slid the pistol down the back waistband of his cargo shorts.

Patting his dog on the head, Brack asked, “Ready?” A needless question. Another bark affirmed Shelby’s stand on things.

“When we get inside, your job is to find Mutt. Okay?” Shelby licked his face. Brack knew that as long as their target hadn’t escaped out some back door, Shelby would find him. Mutt was one of his favorite people. Brack’s too. That was why tracking him like this went against everything he believed in doing.

Mutt was the one who often rode shotgun with Brack as they’d right Charleston’s wrongs. Now Mutt was the one in the crosshairs. Thanks to an early morning phone call from Cassie, Mutt’s girlfriend, a life depended on answers his friend would give. The forty-five wouldn’t come out unless trouble came up.

The barroom’s rusty screen door screeched open. Shelby darted ahead, already focused on his objective. Brack entered a time warp. Uncanny how even the sour bar wash fragrance and cigarette smoke were the same. Through the old familiar haze, he imagined Mutt standing behind a peeling Formica counter pouring drinks to patrons who could barely afford their rent. Somehow, Mutt had managed to replicate his termite-infested watering hole three hundred miles west of where his original joint stood before some spoiled neighborhood brat burned it down.

“You lost?” A very large African-American man wearing a soiled wife-beater chalking a pool cue confronted the white newcomer.

Meeting his gaze, Brack said, “No. I’m looking for a loudmouth Marine named Mutt. If he’s here drinking, the rounds are on me. If he owns this place, I’m going to beat the life out of him.”

“Big talk coming from someone in yo’ shoes,” he said. Four other men flanked him, two on each side, all with arms folded across their meaty chests. Five soiled wife-beaters in a row. A worn-out AC unit clicked and sputtered, failing to condition the polluted air in the establishment.

Shelby seemed to take longer than usual to find Mutt. Only one thing could sidetrack him. But no women had ever been present in the original Mutt’s Bar in Charleston. They’d been afraid to enter the place.

Maybe Atlanta women were different. Casually Brack removed the half-smoked cigar he’d been saving in his pocket and lit it. The only faithful friend he had left at the moment was his own adrenaline. Brack was angry at Mutt and wouldn’t mind working it out of his system on these five gentlemen facing him.

Three more joined them. Okay, these eight gentlemen.

Brack felt more gather behind him. His wayward dog better have a real good excuse for not warning him.

Taking a drag on the stogie, he exhaled a cloud of smoke to add to the carcinogenic fog. “It’s going to be a bad day for some of you.”

Chuckles echoed around the room, undoubtedly at his expense.

Mutt pushed his way through the gathering mob. A few inches over six feet, he’d replaced his boxed Afro with a close trim since the last time Brack had seen him. His clothes were of a more recent vintage, another change, and to Brack’s untrained eye, quite stylish.

“Opie, you always got to do things the hard way, don’t ’cha?” Brack couldn’t decide if he wanted to punch him or shake his hand. The fact that his friend sported a bridge that replaced his missing front teeth also caught him off guard.

Shelby was not with Mutt. From behind, Brack heard the gruff words, “You want us to take this cracker out back, Mutt?”

Mutt knew as well as Brack did that they were greatly outnumbered. But Brack figured Mutt also knew that a few of his patrons would spend the next few weeks in the hospital if things went south.

Before either of them could say anything, a husky female voice came from somewhere in the crowd. “You got the prettiest dog.”

All the men turned in the direction of the voice. Through a break in the undershirt line, Brack observed a heavyset black woman in a way-too-tight purple body suit. Clearly she’d fallen in love with his dog. Her extra-long orange day-glo fingernails scratched behind his ears.

Sitting on his haunches with closed eyes, Shelby flapped his tongue and panted in what Brack recognized as pure bliss. Two other women wearing similar attire also gave Shelby their full attention. Brack was about to get pummeled by eight or more hulks itching to right the wrongs of their world, yet his dog had managed to pick up what looked like all the women in the establishment.

The spokesman for the wife-beater ensemble said, “We ain’t finished wit you, white boy.”

Brack turned back to him. Mutt got between them. “Easy, Charlie. He’s my brother.” The men looked at each other as if Mutt and Brack could possibly be related. Of course, they weren’t in the traditional sense.

“Summertime” by Billy Stewart began to play somewhere in the room. A real classic.

Circling Shelby, the women moved their ample hips to the beat. The dog, in plus-sized heaven, spun around, not sure which lady to kiss first.

A fourth woman Brack hadn’t noticed until now came from behind the bar to stand beside Mutt. Almost as tall as Brack, with dark brown skin, a buzzed haircut, and toned figure bordering on muscular. Her inked-up arms momentarily distracted Brack.

The man Mutt called Charlie said, “I don’t care who you think he is. He ain’t got the juice to come in here talking about beatin’ you up.”

Mutt turned to his old friend. “You said you was gonna beat me up?”

“Something like that.” Brack cocked his head. “I get a call begging me to drive here from Charleston. It’s Cassie. She’s scared half to death because some men threatened her, and she doesn’t know what you do when you leave her house late at night. Put yourself in her shoes.”

The woman bartender looked at him. “You must be Brack.” Mutt interrupted. “Opie, I’ma tell you like I tol’ Cassie. What I do is my bidness. She ain’t got no right to ask.”

Charlie moved in like he was about to throw a punch. Before Brack could react, the toned female bartender grabbed Charlie by the shirt collar and said, “You really don’t want to do that.”

Mutt said, “Easy there, Tara. We all friends here.” She didn’t let go. Charlie backed off. Brack dropped what was left of his cigar on the floor, crushed it with his foot, and turned back to Mutt. “You better tell me what’s going on, or I will beat the ever-living daylights out of you.”

***

Excerpt from Big City Heat: A Brack Pelton Mystery by David Burnsworth. Copyright © 2017 by David Burnsworth. Reproduced with permission from David Burnsworth. All rights reserved.

David Burnsworth

Author Bio:

David Burnsworth became fascinated with the Deep South at a young age. After a degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Tennessee and fifteen years in the corporate world, he made the decision to write a novel. He is the author of both the Brack Pelton and the Blu Carraway Mystery Series. Having lived in Charleston on Sullivan’s Island for five years, the setting was a foregone conclusion. He and his wife call South Carolina home.

Q&A with David Burnsworth

Do you draw from personal experiences and / or current events?
Great question! I get ideas from both. For personal experiences, I wait until there’s been some distance. For current events, it comes down to what interests me. In BIG CITY HEAT, animal poaching plays a minor role. Profiting from the killing of endangered species angers me. Killing elephants for their tusks and rhinos for their horns are things that need to stop.

Do you start with the conclusion and plot in reverse or start from the beginning and see where the story line brings you?
I normally don’t have a plan and don’t know where the characters will take me. It’s their story and I do my best to stay out of the way and let them tell it.

Are any of your characters based on you or people that you know?
I do my best not to use people I know as characters in my books. Sometimes mannerisms or physical similarities show up, but I don’t want to offend anyone by getting too close to reality. But, there have been a few friends and family members that have expressed interest in seeing themselves in my books.

Your routine when writing? Any idiosycrasies?
I have a day job, so my writing life revolves around it. My wife goes to work before I do so I have about an hour in the mornings to myself and then I have some time in the evenings. We don’t have children so that leaves me some time during the weekends as well. Other than that, I have found that I can write anywhere on any laptop or CPU. Although I do prefer the desk in my office and write there when I can.

Tell us why we should read this book.
My books are my kids. I’m proud of all of them. BIG CITY HEAT came about because I spent my teenage years in Atlanta and wanted to visit the place that had the most impact on my life. If you like hardboiled / noir mysteries, I believe you will like my books.

Who are some of your favorite authors?
James Lee Burke, Elmore Leonard, Michael Connelly, Mickey Spillane, John Sanford, Lee Child, J.R.R. Tolkien, C.J. Box, Stieg Larsson, Spenser Quinn, to name a few.

What are you reading now?
I just finished THE HOBBIT on audio, a book I hadn’t read in years. And I’m reading one of Spenser Quinn’s YA books. I’m on the waiting list at my local library for the latest from C.J. Box and John Sanford.

Are you working on your next novel? Can you tell us a little about it?
I’m working on a new series also based in Charleston, SC. The first book in this new series, IN IT FOR THE MONEY, releases in September. I am in the middle of final edits for it and am about a third of the way into writing the first draft of the second book in the series which will be out in 2018. The series is based on a middle aged PI named Blu Carraway who handles mostly difficult and extremely dangerous jobs. To keep himself from crossing over to the dark side, he has a small island with wild horses that he takes care of.

Your novel will be a movie. Who would you cast?
Brack Pelton, my protagonist, is perpetually suntanned because he lives on the Isle of Palms and spends time at the beach when he isn’t hunting a killer or, for BIG CITY HEAT, in Atlanta. He’s mid-thirties, six feet tall, and about two-hundred and ten pounds. In the previous book, BURNING HEAT, another character describes Brack as looking “so much like that guy from mad men that I call dibs.”
Darcy Wells, Brack’s love interest is a lot like Elizabeth Shue in her twenties.
Mutt (Clarence Alexander) could be played by Denzel Washington.
Brother Thomas is a fifty-year-old African American preacher who stands tall at six-three and wide at three-hundred-and-fifty pounds.

Favorite leisure activity/hobby?
When I’m not working or writing, I enjoy spending time with my wife, Patty. We love vacation and plan and discuss our next adventure when flying home from the end of one. I enjoy reading and some television. And I am a car fanatic. I just wish I had the space and fundage for a garage full of classics.

Favorite meal?
When I lived in Charleston, it was peel-and-eat shrimp. My wife has since converted me to steaks, chops, and pasta.

Cheryl, thanks so much for what you do! God bless!

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Giveaway:

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for David Burnsworth and Henery Press. There will be 1 winner of one (1) $15 Amazon.com Gift Card and 5 winners of one (1) eBook copy of Big City Heat by David Burnsworth. The giveaway begins on April 22, 2017 and runs through May 29, 2017. This giveaway is for US residents only. Void where prohibited by law.

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