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How Many Years to Write?

Two Thousand Years Book Cover Two Thousand Years
The Empire Saga #1)
M. Dalto
Genres: Fantasy, New Adult
Independently published
Publication date: December 11th 2018

Two thousand years ago, the Prophecy of Fire and Light foretold the coming of the Queen Empress who would lead the Empire into a time of peace and tranquility. But instead of the coming of a prosperous world, a forbidden love for the Empress waged a war that ravaged the land, creating a chasm between the factions, raising the death toll of innocent lives until the final, bloody battle.

Centuries later, Alexandra, a twenty-two-year-old barista living in Boston, is taken to an unfamiliar realm of mystery and magic where her life is threatened by Reylor, its banished Lord Steward. She crosses paths with Treyan, the arrogant and seductive Crown Prince of the Empire, and together they discover how their lives, and their love, are so intricately intertwined by a Prophecy set in motion so many years ago.

Alex, now the predestined Queen Empress Alexstrayna, whose arrival was foretold by the Annals of the Empire, controls the fate of her new home as war rages between the Crown Prince and Lord Steward. Either choice could tear her world apart as she attempts to keep the Empire’s torrid history from repeating itself. In a realm where betrayal and revenge will be as crucial to her survival as love and honor, Alex must discover whether it is her choice – or her fate – that determines how she survives the Empire’s rising conflicts.

  1. Can you tell your readers something about why you chose this particular topic to write about? What appealed to you about it? Why do you think it is different and your approach is unique? TWO THOUSAND YEARS was actually inspired by Billy Joel’s song of the same name. When I first heard the song many years ago, the lyrics themselves told a story that needed to be told. It referenced battles and true love, and my romantic, fantasy-loving mind started concocting a story all my own. In fact, the initial draft used song lyrics as its chapter titles.
  2. How long do you think about a topic before deciding to write about it? Do you have a set of notes or a note book where you write down topics that appeal before making a decision as to which topic this time? TWO THOUSAND YEARS actually took me over 20 years to start writing. I had first heard the song when it was released in 1993 and didn’t sit down to draft the story until 2014. Otherwise I rarely plan out my stories- I start writing when the ideas come to me, which also means I have a lot of unfinished projects to juggle.
  3. What resources do you use? In general and for the last book that you wrote? I confess that Google is my main source when it comes to research. I do consider what the internet provides me with a sound mind and a grain of salt, and if there’s more I need to know I’ll visit my local library.
  4. How many times have you been rejected before your first novel was accepted? In the months that I had queried it, TWO THOUSAND YEARS was sent out to 12 agents, and all agents rejected it. No requests for partials or the full manuscript- just flat out rejections, if I received a response at all. I gave it a break for a while until I had seen a friend have her book release with The Parliament House, so I reached out to her for her insight on the publisher and her process as a while. I think I submitted a week or so later, received a request for my full manuscript a month later, and a week after that received my contract.
  5. Did you need to self-publish on e-books before a publisher took you up? Not an eBook as we know them on Amazon, no. I did have my work out there on Wattpad though. I felt having that exposure, building that following, and receiving that feedback was the most beneficial aspect to my publishing journey. You want to know, someway, somehow, if your work can be received by an audience. I chose to use Wattpad for that, and I know there are others who go the route of beta readers and critique partners. Whatever you choose, make sure a decent pool of readers have given you feedback on your work, and it will help make things more relatable when looking for a publisher.
  6. Would you recommend self-publishing and building an audience before approaching a publisher? If so, what benefits do you see that it might have for the aspiring novelist? If you can get yourself out there and build a following for yourself, do it. It doesn’t necessarily need to be self-publishing either. I, personally, had an audience on Wattpad before I began my publishing journey, and sometimes making your brand is as simple as joining the writing community on Twitter. But I definitely think it’s something that an aspiring novelist needs to do- it’s not easy, maintaining your presence before, during, or after you’ve been published. It takes effort, but it also pays off when you realize you have those fans and followers who want to know more about your work and continue to support you through the processes.
  7. What do you read when you are ill in bed? I actually read all the time, and though taking a sick day for myself is rare, I do read when in bed whenever I can. With my schedule, it’s really the only time I can find for myself to read.
  8. What is your favourite genre? Fantasy, for both writing and reading. I’ve always been a fan of using my imagination, and the Fantasy genre is the best outlet for that, at least for me.
  9. Which author had the most influence on your writing? Your writing style? Your writing genre? Recently I think it’s been Sarah J. Maas. Ever since I fell in love with her A Court of Thorns and Roses series, she has been an inspiration not only as an author, but for a fanbase. To affect so many people as she has through her writing alone is definitely something I hope to on day strive for.
  10. Do you have any pets? I do!

If so, what are they?  He’s an 11-year-old corgi

And what are they called?  His name is Loki

Do they help you write? If lying under my desk while I’m at my laptop constitutes as help, then sure!

What is the funniest thing they have done while you are writing? He’ll jump up on the edge of my chair and nudge my arm if he thinks I’ve been writing for too long, and/or believes he requires more attention than I’ve been giving him.

Do you want to add a photo of them to this Q&A? Sure!


Goodreads: 
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/37534507-two-thousand-years?ac=1&from_search=true
Purchase: https://amzn.to/2RxDUIbhttps://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/two-thousand-years-m-dalto/1129581675?ean=2940156091058https://www.kobo.com/ca/en/ebook/two-thousand-years

AUTHOR BIO:

M. Dalto is a fiction author of adventurous romantic fantasy and her debut novel, Two Thousand Years, won one of Wattpad’s Watty Awards in 2016. She continues to volunteer her time as an Ambassador, where she hopes to engage and inspire new writers. She spends her days as a full-time residential real estate paralegal, using her evenings to pursue her literary agenda. When she’s not writing, she enjoys reading fantasy novels, playing video games, and drinking coffee. She currently lives in Massachusetts with her husband, their daughter, and their corgi named Loki.
Author links:

 https://authormdalto.wordpress.com/https://www.facebook.com/MDalto/https://twitter.com/MDalto421https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17495218.M_Dalto





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A Spell lies under?
Books/blogtour/Fantasy/Romance
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A Spell lies under?

Under Your Spell 
Cajun Demons MC
by Cynthia Rayne
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
 Publication date: December 17th 2018

Chloe
After my grand-mère was murdered, I returned to Bayou Noir to find the killer, because the police won’t do their freaking jobs. And I have just one suspect, Xavier Richelieu. But I forgot just how crazy the folks in my old hometown can be. A voodoo priestess, a supposed vampire, and a grumpy gator are on the loose. I don’t believe in crazy supernatural stuff, but I am worried about seeing my old crush again, Saint. And I should be. Somehow, he’s even more drop dead gorgeous than I remember. 

Saint
I’m a member of the Demons MC, Cajun Chapter and I’ve got better things to do than follow Chloe around who seems bound and determined to get herself killed. But someone needs to watch her back and I don’t see anyone else lining up to do the job. Once upon a time, she was a chubby kid with a school girl crush. Now, she’s a mouthwatering woman, who wants nothing to do with me. One way or the other, I’m gonna help her avenge her grand-mère and sweet talk her into my bed. Maybe not in that order.  

 EXCERPT

 “Now, you have to let me touch you. I’ll take care of you and you don’t have to do a thing.”

Despite myself, my noble intentions started to crumble under the onslaught. I’d be lying, if I said I wasn’t tempted to take him up on his offer—the promise of pleasure, without any strings.

But I didn’t trust him. Saint had an agenda. If I let him touch me, he’d want more. Who are you kidding? You’d want more, too.

“I thought we agreed to be friends earlier.”

“It’s what you wanted, not me. Come on, Little Bit, all you’ve gotta do is say the word. I’ll take care of everything else.” 

Saint? or Demon?

The way he looked at me, set me on fire.  The front door was still open and for a second, I thought about dashing out of it, so I could avoid this discussion.

But I had to shut this down. “I appreciate your impression of Lucifer with the apple, but I’m not an idiot.”

“What do you mean?”

 “Don’t play dumb, Saint. You’re betting I’ll get carried away and let you do anything you want.” And I would. When I got turned on, I’d forget to be upset with him.

“I don’t have a clue what you’re talkin’ about.”  His eyes widened in shock, as though the idea had never occurred to him. “This is all about you. Not me.”

“Well, I know myself. Once we started down this road, I wouldn’t be able to refuse.” 

His expression was wolfish. “Then you should definitely let me make you cum.”

Excerpt 2

“So, is Chloe rentin’ this place out to you?” Saint asked.

“Chloe?” The sound of my own name startled me so much, I dropped the keys.

Saint bent and picked them up, before handing them to me. I glanced up, meeting those startling, swallow-me-whole blue eyes. Somehow, I couldn’t look away.

 Saint cleared his throat. “What was I sayin’? Right. Chloe’s the girl who owns this place. Her grandmother passed a few weeks ago. She must’ve rented it out to you.”

“Oh, uh, um, yes.” The lie clogged my throat, and I had to force the words out.

“What’s wrong?” He studied my face.

“Nothing. I’m fine.”

And then his eyes widened. “Wait a minute. No.”

“What?”

“Holy shit.” Saint stabbed an accusatory finger at me. “You’re her.”

“Who?” I played dumb, desperately clinging to the plan.

“No fuckin’ way.” He backed off. “You’re Chloe!”

“Yes, but—”

“But you’re…Little Bit.” He trailed off.Saint had given me the nickname when I was a kid because I’d been short. Not to mention, round. “No, I can’t do this. It ain’t right.” Saint shook his head as if trying to clear the cobwebs away.“Sorry. I have to go.”

Saint raced back down the path. He straddled his motorcycle and then took off, leaving a cloud of dirt and smoke in his wake.

And I was left on the front porch, watching him leave.

Well, that didn’t go according to plan.

  Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/42653926-under-your-spell?ac=1&from_search=truePurchase:Amazon: https://amzn.to/2LcJEkK

AUTHOR BIO:

Cynthia Rayne is a USA TODAY bestselling author of the Black Star Security, Kinky Security, Lone Star Mobster, and the Four Horsemen MC Series. While Cynthia was born and raised a damn Yankee in Ohio, her parents hail from Dixie, and she grew up on homemade buttermilk biscuits and southern wisdom. In her spare time, she enjoys shopping, reading way too many romance novels, and drinking a truly obscene amount of coffee.
Author links: http://www.cynthiarayne.com/https://twitter.com/RayneCynthiahttps://www.facebook.com/cynthiarayneauthor/https://www.facebook.com/groups/122768298075763/https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2030751.Cynthia_Raynehttp://eepurl.com/cKmtIr

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Lucky Xmas through the author’s words






A Very Lucky Xmas Book Cover




A Very Lucky Xmas





Lilac Mills





Genre: Women’s Fiction




Canelo




Release Date: 20th August 2018

Things can't get worse for Daisy Jones... can they?

Christmas is meant to be the happiest time of year so why is absolutely everything going wrong for Daisy? Reeling from a bad breakup, moving back in with her parents and hounded by trouble at work she really shouldn’t be surprised when things go from bad to worse..and she ends up in A&E!

Her great-grandmother persuaded her to plant a silver sixpence in the Christmas pud for luck but choking on the coin isn’t the ‘change’ she’d wished for. Yet when dashing Dr Noah Hartley saves the day things finally start to look up. With Christmas Day just around the corner Daisy’s determined to make her own luck...and hopefully bag herself a dishy doc in the process!

A heart-warming christmas romance perfect for fans of Holly Martin, Debbie Johnson and Daisy James

Lilac Mills tells us about Xmas

  1. How long do you think about a topic before deciding to write about it? Do you have a set of notes or a note book where you write down topics that appeal before making a decision as to which topic this time?

Oh, I can mull something over for years before I bite the bullet. I’m currently just finishing up some edits for Canelo (the book is due to be published in the spring) on a story I first began about 13 years ago. I wrote about thirty-thousand words, then life got in the way and I did other stuff instead, but I always intended to come back to it, and when my lovely editor asked me if I had any ideas in the pipeline, it seemed an ideal time to develop and complete this poor little book-baby. The story has changed considerably from the very first half-draft, but then novels often tend to, but the concept is the same.

I also have an ideas folder, which I’m continually adding to, but what usually happens is that something will come to me which takes precedence over all of them, and I simply have to write it until the story is out of my system.

  1. How long does it take to research a topic before you write? And for this book?

It depends on the book, but so far not too long, because I’m writing about what I know or have experienced myself. A Very Lucky Christmas came about from my grandmother’s tradition of making her own Christmas pudding and putting a sixpence in it for luck. Unlike Daisy, no one in my family actually swallowed the darned thing, but there were a couple of near misses and one cracked tooth.

  1. How many times have you been rejected before your first novel was accepted or before this book was accepted?

I was accepted by a publisher on the first submission, but that wasn’t just luck. I had invested a great deal of time in researching publishers, and I knew what Canelo was looking for, so my pitch to them was right, and I sent them the sort of novel I knew would fit in with other novels in their chick lit stable. Of course, there was always the possibility that they did not want to take on another author in my genre at the time I submitted to them and I was fully prepared for that, or that my writing wasn’t as good as I hoped it was!

 4. Did you need to self-publish on e-books before a publisher took you up?

Not necessarily, and many authors don’t. I just happened to think going down the self-publishing route was viable for me at the time. I’m quite impatient, and want my stories to be published as soon as they are ready, and not to have to wait to fit in with a publisher’s time-frame. Self-publishing has been a worthwhile experience though, as I have gained insights into marketing and advertising that I otherwise might not have done.

  1. Would you recommend self-publishing and building an audience before approaching a publisher? If so, what benefits do you see that it might have for the aspiring novelist?

My publisher liked the fact that I had an online presence and also liked that I had already published three books which were fairly well received by my target audience. It could very well have gone some way towards influencing Canelo to make me an offer. Self-publishing can be a risky business though and may backfire if you don’t do it right. Editing and proofreading is a must, as is a professional cover. The right marketing helps too, because no matter how slick and polished your novel might be, if readers aren’t aware of it, it’s not going to sell.

  1. Does writing provide sufficient income to live on? And how long did it take before this happened?

It hasn’t happened yet, but I’ve only been writing chick lit for eighteen months, with four novels published so far. Unless I write something which catches the imagination of the public in a huge way, I think it will be a while yet before my income from writing matches my income from my day job. And even then, I’m not sure I’m prepared to give up my job. It’s steady income, I know what is going into my bank account at the end of every month. I can’t say that about my income from book sales.

  1. What do you read when you are ill in bed?

Nothing. I’m rarely ill, but when I am it tends to be the flu, and all I want to do is to curl up in a ball and feel sorry for myself.

 8. What is your favourite genre?

It has to be chick lit, although I do like the occasional psychological thriller. Besides writing in the chick lit genre, it does help to read it too, to keep abreast of trends and to see what other authors are writing about.

  1. In your opinion who is the funniest author now writing?

I’ve just read a book by Stephanie Dagg called Fa-La-Llama-La: Christmas at the Little French Llama Farm. It was hilarious. Her second in this series is due out soon, and I can’t wait to read it. There’s something about her dry humour that strikes a chord in me.

 10. What have you done with the things you wrote when in school?

I didn’t write in school, apart from those things pupils were forced to write. I didn’t do any creative writing under my own steam. I don’t think I thought it was possible. To me, authors were magical beings, creating stories out of thin air. I didn’t ever believe I could join their ranks. I didn’t actually start writing until I was in my early forties, but I didn’t start with a short story, or a novella, or even a 100,000-word novel. Nope, I went for it big time, and produced a massive 320,000-word effort. Looking back, some bits of it weren’t too bad, a few bits were actually quite good, most of it was meh, and there were some parts which were pretty dire. It will never see the light of day, but I cut my authory teeth on it, so to speak. It’s hidden safely away in the depths of my laptop and there it will stay.

Authors’ bio

Previous Books: Summer on the Turquoise Coast, Sunshine at Cherry Tree Farm and Love in the City by the Sea

Lilac Mills writes feel-good romantic women’s fiction, and is the author of Love in the City by the Sea, A Very Lucky Christmas, Summer on the Turquoise Coast, and Sunshine at Cherry Tree Farm. Lilac spends all her time writing, or reading, or thinking about writing or reading, often to the detriment of her day job, her family, and the housework! Home for Lilac is Worcester, England.

Twitter: @LilacMills

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Daisy admits to liking Xmas treats!






Mistletoe & Mystery Book Cover




Mistletoe & Mystery




Paradise Cookery School #3





Author Name: Daisy James





Genre: Women’s Fiction, food, travel




Canelo




Release Date: 8th November 2018

Welcome to the Cotswolds Festive Feast cookery course...

Fresh off the successful opening of the Paradise Cookery School in St Lucia, Millie Harper is headed to the Cotswolds for Christmas!

Co-presenting Claudia Croft’s famous Festive Feast cookery course at Stonelea Manor is a dream come true for Millie…as is reuniting with gorgeous estate manager Zach Barker.

But arriving in a winter wonderland Millie learns the manor is under a mysterious threat. It’ll take a holiday miracle, but Millie is determined to save the school and get Zach under the mistletoe to finally finish what they started in the Caribbean!

Cosy up with this fun, festive visit to the Cotswolds premier cookery school! Perfect for fans of Jenny Oliver and Sarah Morgan

If you loved Mistletoe & Mystery, why not read the first two stories in The Paradise Cookery School series? Sunshine & Secrets and Confetti & Confusions are both available now!

Mistletoe & Mystery – Daisy James

  1. Can you tell your readers something about why you chose this particular topic to write about? What appealed to you about it?

I loved writing Mistletoe & Mystery, which is the third book in the Paradise Cookery School series. The story combines two things that really fire my imagination – and my taste buds! First of all, the story takes place in a fabulous country manor in the Cotswolds where the cookery school is based and is filled with a kaleidoscope of delicious recipes. Baking is one of my favourite things to do – I find it so relaxing and there’s usually something fabulous to eat at the end of it! Secondly, the story is set at Christmas and that gave me the chance to write about all the wonderful things we do to celebrate – not to mention all the foodie treats we associate with that time of year.

  1. How long do you think about a topic before deciding to write about it? Do you have a set of notes or a note book where you write down topics that appeal before making a decision as to which topic this time?

I always do a lot of research before I start writing a new novel. I really enjoy this part, and to be honest, I think I probably spend too much time on it. The first two books in the Paradise Cookery School series are set on the beautiful island of St Lucia, so I had an amazing few months taking virtual tours of the fabulous beaches, the lush rainforests, and the picturesque towns and markets all over the island. I listened to Caribbean music, learnt about the food and spices that are grown there, and tried out lots of amazing recipes. Cocoa beans are grown in St Lucia, so there had to be plenty of chocolate-filled desserts too.

Yes, I have a notebook where I jot down details that interest me, and I also have a collage of photographs and interesting articles that might come in useful for inspiration. I also always change my screensaver to a picture of the location I’m writing about.

  1. What resources do you use? In general, and for the last book that you wrote?

So far I’ve always set my books in places that I’ve visited, but then I make sure that I back my personal experience up with detailed research, either by borrowing books on the topic from the library or spending time on the internet. The book I’m writing at the moment is set in Tuscany, so I’ve been spending lots of time reading up on that area, especially the local cuisine – and of course sampling it!

  1. How helpful do you find authority figures, such as the police, when you say you want to write about them?

I write romantic comedy, so thankfully the police don’t make a regular appearance! But I agree with you, if I’m going to write about a particular profession it makes sense to approach someone who has in depth knowledge of the industry, such as the daily routine, the procedures they have to follow, what qualifications they need, or any quirks that readers would find interesting. The main character in my next book is an interior designer. I love interior design, and I actually have a qualification in it, but I also have friends who can help if I’ve got any questions. I hope it will add a level of authenticity.

  1. What is the funniest thing that happened to you on a book tour?

I really enjoy doing blog tours. I’m always interested to hear what readers think of my books, but, of course, there’s always that little kernel of anxiety about how the story will resonate with people. In my experience, the book blogging community is a very friendly and generous community and I’ve had some fabulous comments and reviews over the years for which I’m very grateful. I can’t think of anything funny that has happened, or even that has gone wrong, but that’s probably because everyone has been so professional!

  1. What is your favourite genre?

My favourite genre to read is travel autobiographies. I love those stories of people who have undertaken amazing journeys around the world and come home to write about them. I’ve recently read books about two girls who drove a Tuk-Tuk from Thailand to London, a woman who cycled around the world, a guy who hitchhiked to Australia and back, and a folk band who drove a red double-decker bus around the world. I really enjoy Simon Reeve’s books, Levison Wood’s books, Patrick Leigh Fermor & Nick Hunt. One of my favourites is Driving Over Lemons by Chris Stewart – what a fabulous title – so evocative of the part of Spain where he lives.

  1. What have you done with the things you wrote when in school?

I’ve always loved writing and started to scribble stories when I was about eight years old. I even illustrated them myself and glued them together like a real book. I really wish I still had them now. I do have my very first full-length novel – handwritten in five exercise books – which is still in a shoe box on top of my wardrobe. I doubt it will ever see the light of day, but I won’t throw it out. It took me three years to write and I learned loads – mainly what not to write!

Amazon (UK)

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Apple Books (UK)

Author Bio:

Daisy James is a Yorkshire girl transplanted to the north east of England. She loves writing stories with strong heroines and swift-flowing plotlines. When not scribbling away in her summerhouse, she spends her time sifting flour and sprinkling sugar and edible glitter. She loves gossiping with friends over a glass of something pink and fizzy or indulging in a spot of afternoon tea – china plates and teacups are a must.

 

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Death and Destruction?






Death & Damages: A Mystery and Thriller Collection  Book Cover




Death & Damages: A Mystery and Thriller Collection 





multi





Genres: Adult, Mystery, Thriller, anthology




Publication date: November 27th 2018




kindle

Fans of Lee Child, James Patterson, Gillian Flynn, Paula Hawkins, and John Grisham will devour these puzzling mysteries and gripping thrillers.

Book & Author Details:
Synopsis:

Danger lurks around every corner!

Courageous cops, adventurous agents, and daring detectives hunt for the answers to stop crimes by vicious killers.

But what if the damage is already done?

Inside these pages you’ll find 24 adventures full of captivating conundrums, hair-raising homicides, and suspenseful secrets from today’s USA Today & Wall Street Journal bestselling and award-winning authors.

Become a private investigator yourself. Inspect plots of deadly assassins, cold-blooded killers, and bone-chilling suspense inside the pages of DEATH AND DAMAGES, an enthralling mystery and thriller boxed set.

Fans of Lee Child, James Patterson, Gillian Flynn, Paula Hawkins, and John Grisham will devour these puzzling mysteries and gripping thrillers.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/41572884-death-damages

https://amzn.to/2r4iJOZ

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/death-damages-patricia-loofbourrow/1128811305?ean=2940155519492

https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/death-damages-a-mystery-and-thriller-collection/id1391338389?mt=11

https://www.kobo.com/ca/en/ebook/death-damages-a-mystery-and-thriller-collection

Patricia Loofbourrow;

Pauline Creeden;

John Ling;

Alexa Padgett;

Siera London;

Shereen Vedam;

Deborah Shlian;

Kelly Hashway;

Maggie Carpenter;

Tiana Laveen;

Angela Sanders;

Karen M. Bryson;

Aime Austin;

Lisa B. Thomas;

Fiona Quinn;

Kerry J. Donovan;

Jane Blythe;

Dan Alatorre;

Muffy Wilson;

Dariel Raye;

Ja’Nese Dixon;

Terry Keys;

Bill Hargenrader;

Judith Lucci;

Maria Grazia Swan

Excerpts

Maggie Carpenter: 

He hadn’t noticed her carrying the package. He chided himself. He’d been so taken with her baby blues, wavy blonde hair, and pouty scarlet mouth, she could have brought a suitcase into his office and he wouldn’t have seen it. He hesitated. Based on her frantic demeanor, the innocuous brown paper bag could contain anything from a body part to a gun.

Pausing to take a quick breath, he unfolded the top and peered inside. “Why am I looking at a shoe?” “A red stiletto to be exact.” “You need to explain,” he said, lifting his gaze. “Why did you bring me a shoe?” “I didn’t know what else to do. I didn’t know where to go.” “Mrs. Rose—” “Ruby,” she said hastily, cutting him off. “Call me Ruby.”

“What’s so special about this shoe? And please, as simply as you can, tell me why you need my help?” “Take  it out. Take it out and look at it.” Her voice was growing shrill, and hoping she wasn’t on the verge of hysteria he reached in and pulled it out. The shoe was glossy patent leather with an unusually high narrow heel. “I don’t think I’ve ever laid eyes on a shoe like this. How can you walk?” “Look! Look! Don’t you see it?” “See what? It’s a red shoe with a very narrow, very high heel that’s clearly expensive, and—” “Blood! It’s covered in blood!” she exclaimed cutting him off a second time. “It was sitting next to my husband when I found him.”

A sudden chill rippled down his spine.

Suicide Blonde  Karen M. Bryson

When I left Florida as a wide-eyed twenty-year-old, I vowed never to set foot in the Sunshine State again. I was determined to do whatever it took to make it in Hollywood. I wanted to be better than where I came from.

Now here I am right back where I started twenty-five years ago.

Apparently that old saying is true: you can take the girl out of the south, but you can’t take the south out of the girl.

As I pull my rental car into the Swamp Angel Trailer Park all kinds of memories flash through my head. None of them positive. This is the place where my sister, Layla, and I grew up. The place where she apparently still lived. The place I couldn’t wait to escape from.

I rented a Jeep for one week. I don’t plan on extending the rental. My plan is to get my sister’s affairs in order and get the hell out of Florida for good.

While most of this booming bayside city has experienced a major revitalization, entering the trailer park is like stepping back in time. It’s barely changed in the last quarter century.

It’s still a festering sore in the armpit of the city.

Swamp Angel Trailer Park is right in the heart of Suitcase City. It’s a seedy part of town a few blocks west of Big State University. The rundown section of town was so named because many of its residents are so transient, they never bother to unpack their bags. It’s the kind of place where nobody knows your name and people like it that way.

When Layla’s father died, she inherited the trailer we grew up in. I’d be surprised if it’s worth forty thousand. I can make that in a month renting out my beach house in Malibu.

As I pull the Jeep up to the front of the trailer, I notice there aren’t any other vehicles parked outside. Layla was a graduate student at Big State University. We’re a few miles from campus, not really close enough to walk. I wonder how she got to class without a car.

Seeing the crime tape over the front door feels surreal. You’d think after playing a detective on television for twenty years I’d be used to it. But when it’s stuck across the door of your childhood home it feels a lot different.

I don’t have a key to her place, but I do remember where the spare keys were hidden. One was underneath a garden gnome in a patch of weeds that was supposed to be the front yard. The other was under the upper left corner of the tacky straw welcome mat outside the front door.

The straw welcome mat must have bitten the dust because it’s been replaced with an even cheaper looking Wipe Your Paws fake grass mat.

With no spare key underneath.

Fortunately, the sun-cracked garden gnome produces the goods. The key is old and a little rusty, but it still manages to unlock the trailer door.

My plan is to sell anything that’s worth selling. Donate what’s still usable to a thrift store. Then toss whatever remains into the trash.

Armed with heavy duty plastic bags and a pair of rubber gloves, I charge into the trailer ready for action.

Forbidden Distraction  Siera London

“Where did I go wrong?” Jared whispered. He felt the muscles along Vivianne’s back tense. “Have I hurt or offended you in some way?”

He couldn’t stop himself from massaging the tension from her lower back. Maybe, she thought he slept with the women who’d accompanied him to SCMC fundraisers. Jared thought of his parent’s marriage. He grew up watching how his father’s betrayals chipped away at his mother’s adoration. Johnson Pierce thought his money would cover his sins. That trinkets and trips could sustain his wife’s love and his only son’s respect—he’d been wrong. His father’s infidelity was one of the reasons that Jared had waited until the right woman had come along before he gave his heart. Vivianne was smart, funny, and giving. She was it for him and he could never be unfaithful to the woman he loved.

“No,” came her soft reply, a slight moan escaping on the tail end. “Of course not.”

Yet, she was leaving him.

They’d reached his corner office. With a touch of added pressure, she walked through the door he held open. Once she was inside, he engaged the lock. She jumped when the ‘click’ sounded in the room. In a flash, he had her back pressed against the closed door, his big body trapping her.

“Then why try to leave without my knowing?” She let her head fall back against the door. For the first time, he could see the mental anguish she was under. She was suffering, too. “You want another man?”

He had to hear her say the words. After more than a year of torturing himself to stay away from her, he needed to understand her reasoning. Before Vivianne, he’d been with women who only wanted sex. He’d felt deep in his soul that Vivianne wanted more from him. The way she’d touched him, caressed his face during their lovemaking like she was imprinting his every nuance into her memory. She’d tempted him beyond sanity with her slow and thorough exploration of his body. Dark hair to match his own, dark eyes that flamed higher with each touch, skin so rich, he’d be the wealthiest man in the world if he possessed her.

“It’s purely for therapeutic reasons…”

So, she would share her body, a body that occupied his dreams, with another man for medicinal purposes?

Love Thy Sister  Maria Grazia Swan

Crawling away from the pain. She had to get up from the floor. Her mouth foamed. She felt like her chest was exploding.

“One big explosion, followed by a smaller one. Just as pleasurable but not as powerful,” the man had said last night in the bonding anonymity of the dark motel room, his voice an oily whisper.

What was that smell? Maybe decaying food the other girls left behind. She concentrated on the noises from below. A door slammed somewhere in the building. She didn’t care who saw her, she needed help.

Air, she had to get some air. She grasped the front of her smock until it ripped. Her long black hair fell over her breasts.

“One big explosion….”

Was it last night or just a few hours ago?

VENGEANCE John Ling

Maya Raines hated the idea of walking into a trap, but she decided to do it anyway.

She was dressed in a Muslim robe — long and loose and rustling in the wind. Her face was covered by a veil. She carried a grocery bag as she moved along the sidewalk, being careful not to trip on the pockmarked concrete and scattered rubble.

All around her, ominous black flags hung from the shopfronts and soared from the rooftops, declaring the rise of an Islamist caliphate. And just ahead, a roadblock had been set up, manned by jihadi fighters. A modified pickup truck — a technical — was parked on the intersection, with a machine gun mounted on its rear bed.

Maya could hear Arabic being spoken in the distance. It sounded harsh and strident; completely different to the gentle melodic rhythm of the Malay language that she was used to. These men were foreign Sunnis. They had come from as far afield as Egypt and Libya, drawn to Malaysia by the promise of killing local Shiites.

Maya felt the slow burn of anxiety in her stomach…

Facing the Past  Alexa Padgett

“Hank. Thirteen hours. At dawn, Jonathan, gone for thirteen hours.”

Hank turned toward Nancy, his look hollow. Nothing moved across his face, through his eyes. He tilted his head, marginally interested as she swallowed then gasped for air. Hank closed his eyes. “I can’t see any better in the dark than they can,” he said. “You heard the detective say they brought in the dogs. A helicopter from Fort Worth. It’s a full-scale search, almost everyone in town was out looking till it got too dark.”

A faint hum. Louder, a thwap, thwap overhead, a blinding spotlight. Again.

“They could miss him from up there.”

“We’ve already missed him,” Hank shot back, eyes glinting in the semi-darkness.

Nancy shrank back, away from him.

He lowered his head nearly to his knees. Inhaled, exhaled. “My son.”

Cicadas hummed, pressing their bodies against the house. Nothing could hold them together. Not with Jonny missing.

A whippoorwill called. Hank stood there, between the foyer and the living room where Nancy huddled.

“What are we going to do?” she asked him.

Another pass from the helicopter. A dog barking.

Hank hesitated again before seeming to consciously lift his leg to step into the room.

He lay his hand on her shoulder, fingers against her collarbone, his face telling Nancy he was too used up to do more as darkness crowded out the faint porch light.

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