[Guest Post]: Why Book Covers are So Important by Karen Randau, the author of “Mystery Bones Murders”

I have a new guest-author on my blog today. Please, give a warm welcome to Karen Randau, the author of a mystery/thriller “Mystery Bones Murders”. Karen talks about her new release and how a well-designed book cover can catch readers’ attention.

Why Book Covers are So Important

There is more to a well-designed book cover than lovely art. It needs to grab a potential reader’s attention while also convincing them that your book is the one into which they should immerse themselves for the next few hours or days.


Discovery
To sell your book, it must be found among millions of others. The number one way people find books is through recommendations. Lacking that, they search Amazon or Google. Keywords are vital for showing up in search results. That isn’t the subject of this post, but you need to learn about keywords and research those used for your kind of book. Do this before you even start writing in order to use the right keywords throughout, including on your cover. Your marketing that uses these same keywords will help your book get discovered.


Conversion
Once your book is discovered, it competes with a swarm of other books for the sale. Conversion is the job of your cover and description. These need to appeal to the potential reader, not you. And the cover needs to be designed by a professional designer.
The cover should give potential readers the overall message that your book is what they like to read and convince them it will entertain them. To do that, you must understand your market and what those people are looking for. So what are they looking at on a cover?


Title


Image


Reading Line


Your Name


Blurb


Title is a king on a book cover. Despite men and women responding to different kinds of messages, the title is what first gets their attention. Not only must it be searchable (for discovery), it must communicate the mood, genre, and content of your book. And it must be done in a way that appeals to them, not necessarily you. Try not to give it the same title as another novel or movie that isn’t anywhere close to your message.


The image you use should expand on the title. It doesn’t have to show a face or a shirtless man or even have a complex design. It just needs to communicate the mood of your title in a way that appeals to your readers, and it must look professional.


A Reading line—one or two short, snappy sentences that describe your book’s content—greatly contributes to conversion. The book research firm, Codex-Group, study found that many books don’t have these despite their vital role in conversion. Include one to make your book stand out.


Your name also must be prominent, especially if you have established fans. Even if you don’t, be consistent and professional in how you show your name and brand.


Blurbs from famous authors only help if the author writes the same kind of books you write. Otherwise, don’t waste the real estate. Put those above the book’s description on your Amazon sales page and your website. For print books, the back cover description also needs to be engaging and pull a reader in. Keep it short, and don’t give away the ending.
In summary, research, write, and design your cover with the same care you’ve given the pages of your book. Give a lot of attention to keywords. Use the same messaging in all your marketing. Have your cover designed by a professional. Sticking to these rules won’t guarantee sales, but they’ll give you a greater chance at converting more sales.

About the Book


Notorious Minds Crime Mystery Thriller Boxset

Genre: Mystery/Thriller 

Date Published: 13th October 2020

Publisher: Fire Quill Publishers

Frankie Shep is still mourning the deaths of her husband and young son when she finds a bone in the far corner of her Wyoming cattle ranch.

Excited to think she may have discovered an ancient Native American village, she takes the bone to a lifelong friend who is now a forensic anthropologist on contract with her county. 

After a cursory inspection, he turns a blood-chilling stare at Frankie. The bone isn’t ancient. Worse, the victim could be the remains of Frankie’s mother. She disappeared from her own bed more than a decade ago.

And now her retired father is missing.

As Frankie digs deeper, she discovers the terrifying truth that a serial killer is using her land to bury his victims, all members of her family and inner circle.

And now he’s watching her.

Mystery Bones Murders is a story of love, heart-wrenching deception, and finding redemption.

Available exclusively in the Notorious Minds box set!

What does it take to commit the perfect crime?

Delve into these dark and twisted tales by twenty USA Today and International Bestselling Authors.

No matter what kind of crime story typically catches your imagination, there’s sure to be something for everyone.

Conspiracies, political plots, and yes, even murder, are just a few of the crimes waiting inside this box set.

Discover a narcissistic grandmother running an underground syndicate, or a support group bent on murder…and even a serial killer who turns his victims into fairytale creatures.

Uncover the passion, jealousy, and fear lingering in every tale.

This box set is packed with thousands of pages that will hold you on the edge of your seat, crying for answers.

About the Author

Karen Randau authors fast-paced stories with intricate plots and lots of actione. Her debut novel, Deadly Deceit, was the first in her four-book Rim Country Mysteries and has twice reached the #1 slot in Amazon’s amateur sleuth category. The fourth book in the series, Deadly Payload, was a finalist in the 2019 Book Excellence Awards and the 2018 Beverly Hills Book Awards®. She was one of seven authors in the Tawnee Mountain Mystery Series with Deadly Reception and now is joining 19 other others in the Notorious Minds Crime Mystery/Thriller boxset.
A native of the southwestern U.S., Karen has traveled internationally and witnessed famines, violence, and hopeful people working to overcome abject poverty. She draws on both her creativity and personal experience to weave together an interesting cast of characters with rollercoaster-like twists and turns.
 

Contact Links

Website: http://www.karenrandau.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/karenrandauauthor

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/klrandau

Blog: http://www.karenrandau.com/blog/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/491463.Karen_Randau

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/klrandau/

Purchase Links

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B085S2DYPH 

Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/notorious-minds-boxset-judith-lucci/1136637311;jsessionid=3541E059F0E700CF07D1A2662AA6DC82.prodny_store01-atgap16?ean=2940163815098

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/za/en/ebook/notorious-minds-boxset-mystery-thriller-crime

iBooks: https://books.apple.com/us/book/id1502417965

Giveaway

Amazon gift card

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/408264011184/

[Book Blitz]: The Price of Safety by Michael C. Bland

Genre: Science Fiction/Thriller

Date Published: 6th April 2020

Publisher: World Castle Publishing

By 2047, no crime in the U.S. goes unsolved. No wrongdoing goes unseen. When Dray Quintero learns his nineteen-year-old daughter Raven committed a heinous act, he covers it up to save her life. This pits him against the police he’s respected since he was a child and places him in the crosshairs of Kieran, a ruthless federal Agent. To survive, Dray must overcome the surveillance system he helped build and the technology implanted in the brains and eyes of the citizens.

Forced to turn to a domestic terrorist group to protect his family, Dray soon realizes the sheer level of control of his adversaries. Hunted and betrayed, with time running out, will Dray choose his family or the near-perfect society he helped create?

Excerpt

Chapter 1

Igniting a miniature sun was the riskiest thing we’d ever attempted, yet we were doing it in front of the entire planet. 

While Nikolai bragged about our innovations to the cameras, reporters, and two hundred VIPs assembled, I stood sixty feet away, facing the control panel of our unlit sustained-fusion reactor, searching for any indication our creation would explode. The seven-foot-long, concave control panel displayed the time remaining until ignition. Forty-five seconds. 

I didn’t use the control panel to conduct my search. Instead, I projected our schematics and stress tolerance estimates onto the lenses in my eyes, the data hovering before me like a clear computer screen stretched across my vision. Hidden from everyone.

 “…each pod contains the highest concentration of dark matter ever collected,” said Nikolai, the CEO of our company, who’d been my friend once. “Eighteen months’ worth of space harvesting efforts.”

 We’d designed not only the pods but the entire ten-acre complex: the energy grid, the fifty-yard-wide containment chamber where we’d try to light the “sun” that would power our reactor, the domed observation room with celestial images on the ceiling and a massive window that revealed the chamber, and Nikolai’s temporary stage in front of the window. We’d also devised the safety protocols, power regulators, and energy-capture systems. The biggest risk was the medicine-ball-sized metal core we hoped to ignite. A single flaw could doom everyone here. 

If we succeeded, though, our reactor would provide mankind with cheap, reliable energy—and us a spot in the history books. Nikolai would become richer than ever, with countries begging for our reactor. I’d see my creation come to life, which would tangibly better mankind, fulfilling a promise I’d made. 

My personal cell phone buzzed in my pocket, a number I didn’t recognize flashing in the corner of my augmented sight. I ignored the call and reluctantly stopped my search as the countdown neared zero. Years of planning, of calculations and simulations and more money than I cared to contemplate, came down to this moment. 

Beside me, Amarjit, my bushy-eyebrowed director of robotics, took a deep breath as I activated the reactor. Four titanium-geared positioning robots, each twenty feet tall, stepped forward in unison inside the solar-cell-lined, circular containment chamber, and lifted the dark matter containment pods to precise spots around the core. Reinforced metal rods moved two additional pods into position, one rod descending from the ceiling and the other rising from the floor. 

“Dark matter is the key to our efforts,” Nikolai continued, his sharp chin pointing at the crowd. He wore his graying hair short, his thin frame coated in a pale suit. He also wore his datarings, which was odd, as my team and I were handling the sequence. “This unique substance causes regular matter to draw on itself. The resulting compression, which will occur at the molecular level throughout the core, is what we’re confident will create the fusion spark.”

The robots locked their joints into place. 

I hadn’t wanted anyone here but was outvoted by our board, my simulations used against me. But the simulations were distorted with assumptions. I wasn’t sure the core had the right mix of elements, wasn’t sure about the pressure needed. Wasn’t sure about a lot of it. 

I took a breath myself—aware of the lives at risk, the stakeholders and VIPs and broadcasting cameras—and powered up the dark matter. 

The robots’ hands and the two cradles glowed as they released energy into the pods, activating the matter. Combined reverse-gravitational pressure enveloped the core to five hundred million newtons per square meter, squeezing it from all sides. 

There was supposed to be light, the purest imaginable, maybe preceded by a flash. But nothing happened. 

Our readouts measured the core’s compression, but showed nothing that indicated an ignition: no fusing of molecular fuels, no sign of liquefaction. 

As anxiety crawled up my spine, I increased pressure, but nothing changed other than rising stress levels in the robots’ joints. I maxed the energy to the pods, compressing the core to pressure levels found under the Earth’s crust. 

Amarjit shot me a look, his caterpillar-sized eyebrows squeezing together. 

I knew the danger. 

The pods were made of aluminum, the only metal that could contain energized dark matter without interfering with its reverse-gravitational force. But the dark matter became more volatile the more we assaulted it with energy, and the pods had limits to what they could hold.

With the forces we were manipulating, it felt like depending on a balloon to contain a shotgun blast. If one ruptured, our entire complex would be decimated, along with a portion of Los

Angeles. The city south and west of here should be protected from the blast by the mountainside we’d carved into, but maybe not. The amount of destruction would depend on the energy levels when everything went to shit. 

The readouts on my lenses flashed red. We’d reached our thresholds, yet the core remained unchanged.

My personal cell phone buzzed again, the same unknown number. 

Ignoring the call, I told Amarjit, “We’re aborting.” I touched the control panel to kill the power to the pods, but the system didn’t respond. “What the hell?”

I waved Nikolai over, but he wasn’t looking at me; he faced the chamber instead, his determined expression one I’d seen countless times. His hands hung at his sides, but his fingers were moving, entering commands. His silver datarings flashed as he typed on his legs, the rings registering his fingers’ movements as keystrokes—tracking where each finger moved as if he was typing on a keyboard—and sending his commands to his neural net, which I realized was now the only access point to the fusion reactor.

Behind him, the crowd became restless.

“Boss,” Amarjit said.

I followed his gaze. Inside the chamber, the robots extended their arms, moving the dark matter closer to the core. First two inches. Then four. Then six.

“I’m not doing it,” he said.

“It’s Nikolai.” I slapped at the digitally-projected controls, but they didn’t react. “He fucking cut us off.”

WARNING flashed red in my vision as alarms sounded.

The faceplate of one of the robots buckled from the reverse-gravitational forces emanating from its pod. The knee joint of another started to twist.

“Dray,” Amarjit said.

“I see it.” My hands skittered across the control panel as I tried to reboot the system but failed, my brow damp with sweat.

A strained sound reverberated inside the chamber, followed by a pop, and a crack stretched across the curved window before us. The air surrounding the robots shimmered like asphalt on a summer day.

I brought up the master settings to search for a power override. “Can you take command of the robots remotely?”

“No,” he said as he jabbed at the panel. “They can only be controlled from here.”

Robot Number Two—with the twisted knee—contorted further as the pressure from the dark matter mounted, sparks flying from its wrists. None of our simulations had covered this, but I knew what would happen. A few more degrees and its joint would shatter. It’d be thrown against the wall, the pod ripped open. We’d be obliterated in the explosion.

I needed to cut Nikolai’s signal.

The control panel rested on a bioplastic-enclosed base connected to a hollow metal railing. The dataring receiver had to be in the base. I hadn’t included one in the panel’s design, but it would’ve been easy for him to add. I wondered what else the self-serving bastard had done. 

“You bring any tools?” I asked Amarjit, who shook his head. “Get everyone out of here.”

“There’s no time.”

He was right. “Then save yourself. Go.”

As he hurried away, I squatted below the panel, took my metal ID badge from around my neck, jammed it into the cover’s seam, and tore away the bioplastic to expose the motherboards, quantum cubes, and fiberwires that connected to the panel. I spotted the receiver immediately, an inch-long, fan-shaped device, and ripped it out, severing Nikolai’s connection.

I stood and hit the sequence to reestablish a link to the robots. 

As systems came online, I wondered why the core hadn’t sparked. The reaction sequence should’ve initiated, especially with so much pressure. That’s when I noticed the liquefaction gauge. A section of tritium had liquified but was stunted, limited to the second quadrant.

Closest to Robot Number Two.

Where the pressure was angled.

I’d approached this wrong. I’d directed pressure uniformly around the core.

Regaining control, I linked with the robots to pull them back, but first shifted Robot Number Three—the least-damaged one—to the right, angling the pressure from its pod—

The core ignited.

Throughout the tritium veins that threaded the core, protons added to atoms in a domino effect, the veins turning into contained plasma, and brilliant light burst forth, painting the chamber. No explosion threatened us, no pressure, unlike the destructive effect of nuclear fission. Instead, warmth from the molten metal reached me through the glass, the chain reaction spreading over the core’s surface to begin consuming the denser, solid metals that would feed it for the next twenty years. 

The warnings in my lenses, thrown in stark relief by the star we’d created, turned green as I pulled the robots back to reduce the pressure to acceptable levels, though one regarding the robots’ structural integrity remained red. 

The chamber’s window tinted, returning our vision to us.

Nikolai threw up his arms to the crowd. “As promised, nuclear fusion! The first of many Gen Omega plants we’ll build across the country to address America’s energy needs.” 

Applause washed over us.

“Bastard,” I murmured, shaking with adrenaline.

I reduced the dark matter’s energy to the minimum amount needed to keep our newborn sun suspended in position, while Amarjit, who’d rushed back to help, ran diagnostics on his robots, two of which no longer stood straight.

A phone number flashed on my lenses, the same one as before. This time it was calling my work cell. Possibly one of my employees. “Dray here.”

“Dad, I need help,” my nineteen-year-old daughter said.

I was caught off-guard, not only because it was Raven’s voice, but because of the fear in it. I’d never heard her so afraid.

Concerned, I moved away from Amarjit. “What happened?”

“You’ve got to come.”

“Are you hurt?”

“Not me. It’s….” Someone else. Trever Hoyt, her boyfriend, who Raven had gone out with tonight. He was a decent kid, though opinionated and a little snobbish. I had hoped she wouldn’t get serious with him, but they’d dated for almost a year. “Do you remember the time in

New Trabuco when I hit that rock? It’s worse than that.”

She meant there was a lot of blood. His blood, presumably. “You need to call the po—”

“I would, except it’s me.”

I didn’t understand, then did. She’d caused the bleeding.

I started to ask if they’d been in an accident, but she was being cagey for a reason. 

Normally talkative and bright, she was avoiding saying certain words, aware that spiders patrolled the airwaves. 

Watching what she said. Trever bleeding. The way she was acting, it could only mean one thing: she’d done something illegal, as hard as it was to believe.

Though I was still sweating, I felt a chill. No one got away with a crime. Not in 2047.

The people around me, the media and VIPs and shining fusion core, Nikolai waving at me to join him on stage as he said my name and proclaimed this was the start of “more wonders to come.” None of it mattered now.

I squeezed my finger-thin phone. “Where are you?” 

“His parents’ place. Their work. There’s a spot we made where you can get in. I’m in a small building just past a maintenance road.”

My concern increased. She meant Trever’s parents’ facility. I’d never been there and didn’t know what they did, but I’d heard visitors required a security clearance due to the sensitive nature of government contracts the Hoyts had. It was a place she never should’ve been.

“On my way.”

* * * 

I exited the 605 at Beverly and raced through Whittier, passing countless neighborhoods, most of which were dark this time of night. I closed my data streams to reduce my digital trail, and tried to avoid the surveillance that existed even in this sleepy part of Los Angeles, the cameras and traffic scanners and microphones that monitored most of the country. I wanted to take side streets to further reduce my history, but needed to get to Raven. She wasn’t the type to ask for help. Strong and resourceful, she helped others, cared about the neglected and abused—otters, immigrants, the homeless—and debated fiercely, but never with a mean spirit. She would become a force as an adult—though with the way she’d sounded, I worried for her future. 

My thoughts flickered to my son Adem, who’d died before he learned to talk. Even with how safe I’d helped make our world, I couldn’t protect him. Couldn’t save him. I feared I wouldn’t be able to save Raven, either. 

I passed the guarded entrance to Hoyt Enterprises and followed the fortified, ten-foot-high wall for blocks until I located Trever’s red-and-black McLaren. I tried to tamp down my fear as I parked my Chrysler E-650 sedan beside the metal wall. I had to be level headed and calm, though I didn’t feel either.

Spotting the hole Trever and Raven had created, two of the vertical panels pried apart, I went to it. I’d maintained my weight over the years, but I’d always been thick. As a result, I had to squeeze my way through the gap.

Multi-story buildings occupied most of the compound’s interior—production, office, warehouse—though they stood back from the wall, the structures dark, the only light in the complex coming from the entrance far to my left. Closer to me, one-story storage structures stretched in long rows, the nearest five yards away. Straight ahead was an empty space followed by an asphalt road and a cluster of residence-type buildings barely visible in the darkness. To my right, a flat-topped building sat on top of an unlit hill adjacent to the facility. The property was fenced, and the two parcels shared a wall.

I started toward the residence-type buildings, sticking close to the nearest storage structure, followed the structure to the far end, and found a security camera staring at me. I froze, but my image had already been captured.

My apprehension growing, I continued forward and crossed the road.

The buildings were old, possibly the property’s original development. Three could have been homes, another a garage, a fifth some kind of lab. I hesitated, unsure which one she might be in, heard a sound to my left, and cautiously proceeded toward the residence in that direction.

“Raven?”

She appeared in the shadowed doorway, pulled me inside, and hugged me, trembling.

“What are you doing here?” I asked.

“It was Trever’s idea. Dad, he attacked me. He tried to rape me.”

I stepped back. As my eyes adjusted to the darkness, I saw the swelling in her face, her bloody lip. Her shirt was torn.

A primal rage began to grow. “Did he…?”

“No.” Her composure, thin as it was, cracked. “I didn’t mean to hurt him.”

Her words tempered my anger and fear, though not by much. “Whatever you did was

self-defense. You were justified. The police will see the truth.”

“I can’t.”

“They’ll listen.”

She grabbed my arm. “His implant. I ripped it out.”

His neural net, the implanted technology that linked our brains to the web, work, and every other digital source. Federal law required that every citizen have one, and tampering with them was punishable by death, regardless of the circumstances. There had been complaints about the law’s extremity, even demonstrations, but nothing had changed, and most people didn’t care, too enamored with the access their implants granted.

My lips felt numb. “Is he alive?”

“I don’t think so.”

She led me to the next room, where Trever lay in a pool of blood, his body contorted, his implant nearby.

I’d never seen an implant outside of a person’s head. The part that was usually visible, the silver-dollar-sized reflective end, stuck out no more than a quarter-inch from a person’s temple. However, the entire implant was over an inch and a half long, with two curved leads that jutted deeper into the brain: one about two inches long and the other about five inches.

“He grabbed me and tore at my clothes,” she said. “I tried to crawl away, but when he grabbed me, I kicked him as hard as I could, and he rolled off. That’s when I saw the pipe.”

She indicated a rusted drainage pipe, one end curled back where it had broken off.

I squatted beside it, careful not to touch it. “You hit him with this?”

She nodded.

“How many times?”

“Just once. When I swung, the pipe caught the edge of his implant. I didn’t mean to.”

Trever wasn’t the first corpse I’d seen, but he was the first born of violence, which made me unsettled. His right temple was caved in where his implant had been. The metal ring that had secured his implant in place was missing, along with a chunk of his skull. Raven’s years of playing softball had saved her from a heinous act—but at a terrible price. 

A fierce protectiveness rose inside me, joining my fear. The police would be methodical. I had to anticipate what they’d find.

The building we were in was being renovated. The floor had been reduced to a concrete slab and the walls gutted, with spools of wire stacked in a corner and construction supplies strewn about. A nearby wall had blood splattered in an arc. 

Nothing contradicted her story, though doubt nagged at me. “Ripping out his implant was a fluke,” I told her. “It was self-defense. A jury won’t convict you.” 

“He didn’t rape me. I stopped him. If people could’ve seen his face, how he lunged at me, what he said, they would understand, but there aren’t cameras in here. No one will believe me.”

A prosecutor could claim her injuries were self-inflicted. Say she’d torn her own clothes. Without hard evidence, she was in danger.

She didn’t have to add that Trever’s parents were politically well-connected. Mina frequently interacted with them as chief of staff for the mayor of Los Angeles. Jesus, Mina. She was going to be horrified.

“What do we do?” Raven asked.

“I don’t know. Who knows how many cameras I passed getting here, not to mention the GPS in my car?”

When I left the reactor, I’d shielded my face from the cameras I knew about, but dozens of others had probably nailed me, including the one inside the facility. Hell, our phone call could be used against us. My work cell had a built-in scrambler, so the cops would only get one side of our conversation, but with the other evidence, it’d be enough.

She didn’t plead, didn’t back away. “I’ll turn myself in.”

I started for her, careful not to step on Trever’s implant, but paused.

 The implant. 

If she hadn’t ripped it out, hadn’t killed him, I would’ve wanted her to confess to the police. But if she did, she would pay the ultimate price. 

She couldn’t just leave. Not only had she been caught on camera, she was leaving DNA: blood, hair, dead skin. I was, too.

We had to do this a different way and hope it worked, because I couldn’t lose her. She and her sister were my world.

“I have an idea. You’re not going to like it,” I told her. “I’ve heard rumors about people stealing implants. Cops don’t want to admit it happens, because it’s one of the only crimes they struggle to solve.”

“Why would people steal…? Oh. To become someone else.”

I nodded. “Each has a unique code cops can use to identify us if they get a warrant. A criminal who wants to hide from authorities can’t unless they obtain a new code, which means a new implant—one that’s been stolen, wiped, and recoded.”

“You want to blame Trever’s death on implant thieves.”

“To do that, I’ll have to take yours.”

Her eyes grew big. “What?”

“If yours isn’t stolen, the authorities won’t believe you.” I held out my hands. “I’ll take it out straight, minimal damage. You can tell the police you two were here hiding out or whatever when men jumped you. Trever tried to defend you, but they overwhelmed him and ripped out his implant. They were easier on you, as you didn’t fight, using the same pipe—”

“The same pipe? Dad, I don’t want to die.” She looked panicked.

I took her in my arms. “You won’t. I promise. Tell the cops the men were masked and didn’t say anything.”

When I let go, she wiped her cheeks. “How do the police find me?”

“As soon as I take your implant, I’ll call 911.”

She paled further, eyes darting, but nodded.

I had her lay near Trever, yet far enough away that she didn’t touch his blood.

“I’m scared,” she said.

I wasn’t a father. I was a monster for suggesting this. But I had to keep her safe.

I touched her cheek. “I’ll make it as clean as possible. With the right amount of force, it’ll pop out.” I had the strength. I’d manhandled the robots we’d used in the reactor. “This is the only way.”

As she rolled onto her side, I picked up the pipe. I placed my hand on her head, my calloused fingers nearly palming it. “I love you.”

I gently slid the hooked lip of the pipe under the edge of her implant, wincing when the pipe touched her skin. After seeing Trever’s neural net, I knew Raven’s had been implanted straight into her skull. If I pulled up, like removing a nail, it’d minimize the damage. I didn’t want to do this, and would probably never forgive myself, but it needed to look like a criminal stole her neural net. 

I had an image of her in prison garb, curled on a metal cot. Another of her strapped to a gurney, getting a lethal injection.

I couldn’t let that happen, whatever the cost.

I held her in place with my free hand and pulled on the pipe, at first gently and then as hard as I could. For the briefest of moments, the ring held—she screamed—then gave way with a wet sound. The implant tumbled to the ground as I fell back, the pipe nearly flying from my hand.

She started to shake and gasp. Sparks flickered in her eyes, and blood welled up in the hole I’d opened in the side of her head.

A panic unlike anything I’d ever felt seized me.

What had I done?

About the Author

Michael C. Bland is a founding member and the secretary of BookPod: an invitation-only, online group of professional writers. He pens the monthly BookPod newsletter where he celebrates the success of their members, which include award-winning writers, filmmakers, journalists, and bestselling authors. One of Michael’s short stories, “Elizabeth,” won Honorable Mention in the Writer’s Digest 2015 Popular Fiction Awards contest. Three short stories he edited have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. Another was adapted into an award-winning film. Michael also had three superhero-themed poems published in The Daily Palette. He currently lives in Denver with his wife Janelle and their dog Nobu. His novel, The Price of Safety, is the first in a planned trilogy, and has been recognized as a finalist in both the National Indie Excellence awards and the Next Generation Indie Book Awards.

Contact Links

Website: www.mcbland.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mcblandwriter

Twitter: https://twitter.com/mcblandwriter

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/51062587-the-price-of-safety

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/mcbland107/

Purchase Links

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Price-Safety-Michael-C-Bland/dp/1950890805

Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-price-of-safety-michael-c-bland/1133768415

Indiebound: https://www.indiebound.org/book/9781950890804

Bookshop: https://bookshop.org/books/the-price-of-safety/9781950890804

[Release Blitz]: Moon in Bastet by E S Danon

Genre: Magical Realism, Jewish Fiction

Date Published: 29th September 2020 

Publisher: Hurn Publications 


A memoir turned into thrilling fiction; Moon in Bastet is based on the life of author E. S. Danon. The story follows a fourteen-year-old girl named Eva, an orphan living in the Negev desert of Israel who is working as a custodian of Cirque Du Christianisme. Her life is controlled by a volatile drunk named Bella who favors a group of equally volatile teenage bullies over her and her own safety or sanity. 


Bullied, neglected, and alone – Eva’s only friends are an odd, thirteen–year–old Sephardic boy named Jack and a small cohort of Bedouin sister-wives. On the brink of giving up on life, Eva stumbles upon a mysterious cat in the middle of the desert. Or really, did the cat stumble upon her? 


Together they must fight to stay alive, win the battles thrown at them, and Eva must learn to not only lean on others but to trust in herself. 


Filled with mystery, magic, and symbolism – Moon in Bastet is a story of resilience, survivorship, forgiveness, and women empowerment. This is a work filled with Jewish mysticism that can be enjoyed by people of all races, ages, and religions everywhere.

About the Author

Elizabeth Danon received her B.S. in Marine Science from Stony Brook University before working as a Marine Biologist for the National Marine Fisheries Service. She traveled the U.S. Eastern Seaboard and Gulf of Mexico, collecting data aboard commercial fishing vessels and dredges. 
When that didn’t pan out to be the glorified job that she expected, finding herself covered in shark snot and fish scales daily, Elizabeth became a technical writer. In her spare time, she began doing stand-up comedy after taking comedy bootcamp with the Armed Services Arts Partnership. At this time, she married the most wonderful man who also provides most of her joke writing material. Unfortunately, because he’s Indian he has also enabled her Maggi addiction… Like she needed that on top of her already long-standing iced coffee issues. 
Her favorite show is Schitt’s Creek, as she feels a special bond to her fellow comedians – and Sephardic brethren. Growing up half-Jewish herself, Elizabeth eventually converted to being full-Jewish with Temple Israel as a student of Rabbi Panitz. 
Her enriched, but complicated, heritage has been an inspiration for most of her creative writing. Being an Aries, she has always felt like a leader and has therefore integrated her feminist beliefs into her work, albeit dropping every women’s studies course that she ever elected in college. Additionally, her writing has an unmistakable international presence. Elizabeth wanted to discover as much as she could about her Sephardic Heritage and went on Birthright, followed by her independent travels to over ten other countries… carrying nothing but a red bookbag. 

Author’s Links: 


Website | Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest | Goodreads Twitter | LinkedIn |Amazon

Buy Links: 

 

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Kindle 

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Publisher

Amazon AU 

The Book Depository

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[Guest Post]: How to sell your First Fiction Book by Roger L. Liles, the author of “The Cold War Begins”

Today, I’m pleased to introduce you Roger L. Liles, the author of The Cold War Begins, which was just released in September 2020. Roger talks about benefits and downfalls of finding a traditional publisher.

How to sell your First Fiction Book

Only a tiny fraction of first-time writer’s fiction submittals to the big five publishers or even to other smaller firms ever get into print. But you’re the exception. Your manuscript and a cover letter got the attention of the individual who is tasked with separating the wheat from the chaff at every publisher. You’re really good or have had your manuscript professionally edited and formatted. You’re cover letter really got their attention. Perhaps you are so good that you’ve got an agent interested in your book and he/she is pitching it to one or more publishers.


Your first chapter is a real attention grabber. The editor who is assigned the manuscript gives it to one on the new college graduates in the firm to read all the way through. That individual is bowled-over by your book. Your editor reads it and is soon pitches it to the editorial staff in their weekly meeting—all the editors agree that your book must be published. You’re being touted as a part of this publishing firm’s future.


Your agent gets a low six-figure advance (say $100,000), but there are catches. The publishers are in business to make money. First and foremost, it’s a three-book deal, and it will take you at least 18 months to finish the manuscript your working on and write another whole book. You have to give your agent his/her 15%. Are eighty-five thousand dollars enough to support you and your family for perhaps two more years? That $25 an hour job at Home Depot may pay more per hour than you are going to make since you’ve already invested two years of your life in your first book.


Next, you’re told you must give up all rights to the story and characters. You know that Michael Connely was forced to pay $6.8 million to buy back his Hermanus Bosch character, but you don’t care your riding high. The publisher will take care of promoting your book and you’ll sell enough copies to get rich. Then you’re told that about a dollar for each paperback and ebook copy sold will be applied to reducing your advance balance and that your advance must be paid back in full before you will receive any royalties. Since few writers sell 100,000 copies of their first book, you may not receive any royalties until the second or third book comes out. You’re told that audiobooks are selling big, and you will receive several dollars in royalties for each audiobook sold. Your agent says, “It’ll take them almost a year to publish your book in all forms. But don’t worry in less than two years, you’ll start receiving regular monthly royalty checks—they may be small, but they’ll be something.”


There are two viable alternatives. One is Hybrid Self-Publishing which essentially involved you paying an experienced third party to serve as the publisher. You learn what is required to get your book published and pay for everything including advertising which can be expensive and also not as effective as you might desire. You’ll learn a lot and may even be able to publish as many books as you want for little money after that.
The second is total self-publishing (there is no room to explore that minefield here). Both of these alternatives involved untold man-hours and your success will depend on a little bit of luck and a lot of diligent effort on your part.


Having a well-written manuscript that is expertly edited and formatted on a topic of interest to a lot of people is the key to success no matter which publishing path you select. If you’re young, the traditional publishers may take a chance on you with a one book offer of $20,000 to $30,000. If that book is a flop, your dead in the publishing field. You’ll have to change your name before trying again.


When your 79 years old like me, no one is going to take a chance that you’ll even be around to write your next book. We write because it is a compulsion and we love it. Good Luck in your writing endeavors.

About the Book

Second Volume of the Berlin Tunnel Trilogy

Genre: Historical Fiction

Date Published: September 8, 2020

From Amazon bestsellers list author Roger L. Liles comes the second volume of his Cold War trilogy—THE COLD WAR BEGINS. The setting is war-ravaged Berlin in late 1946. Spies from both sides begin to move with relative ease throughout a Germany occupied by British, French, American and Russian military forces. Kurt Altschuler, our hero, soon becomes one of them.

While working behind enemy lines as an OSS agent in France during World War II, Kurt learns that intelligence collection involves both exhilarating and dangerous encounters with the enemy. He relished every moment he spent as part of the vanguard confronting the Nazis. 

That war has been over for 18 months when he is offered a job as a CIA deep-cover agent in the devastated and divided city of Berlin. He jumps at the opportunity, but is concerned that his guise as an Associated Press News Agency reporter will offer little action. He need not worry. Soon, he is working undercover, deep inside of Russian-controlled south-eastern Germany. Eventually, KGB agents waylay him and tear his car and luggage apart. His chauffeur is beaten. He is threatened with prison, torture and death.

Enter Erica Hoffmann, a very attractive, aspiring East German archaeology student. Any relationship between an undercover CIA agent and an East German woman is strictly forbidden; she might be a KGB or Stasi agent or operative. But he cannot help himself—he has fallen hard for her. Kurt strives assiduously to maintain their tempestuous, star-crossed relationship. 

Eventually, Kurt works to counter the efforts of Russian and East German spies, especially a mole who is devastating Western Intelligence assets throughout Europe. He also must work to identify and expose enemy spies who have penetrated the very fabric of the West German government and society. He frequently observes to others that: “the spy business is like knife fighting in a dark closet; you know you’re going to be cut up, you just don’t know how bad.”

About the Author

Roger L. Liles decided he had to earn a living after a BA and graduate studies in Modern European History. He went back to school and eventually earned an MS in Engineering from the University of Southern California in 1970. 
In the 1960s, he served as an Air Force Signals Intelligence Officer in Turkey and Germany and eventually lived in Europe for a total of eight years. He worked in the military electronics field for forty years—his main function was to translate engineering jargon into understandable English and communicate it to senior decision-makers in the government.
Now retired after working for forty years as a senior engineering manager and consultant with a number of aerospace companies, he spends his days writing. His first novel, which was published in late 2018 was titled The Berlin Tunnel—A Cold War Thriller. His second novel The Cold War Begins was published in late 2020 and is the second volume in his planned The Cold War Trilogy. This trilogy is based on extensive research into Berlin during the spy-versus-spy era which followed World War II and his personal experience while living and working in Europe. He is in the process of writing its third volume of the trilogy which will be titled The Berlin Tunnel—Another Crisis and takes the story into 1962 and the era of the Cuban Missile Crisis.
 

Contact Link

Website: RogerLLiles.com

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[Guest Post]: The Books that Rocked My World by Russ Colchamiro, the author of “Crackle and Fire”

Today, I have a new guest on my blog. Russ Colchamiro, the author of sci-fi/mystery novel “Crackle and Fire”, talks about his favourite books and their influence on his writing.

The Books that Rocked My World

By Russ Colchamiro

Everyone has their favorite books. I’m not sure I can narrow my list down to only 10, but dangle me over a pot of boiling acid and starving crocodiles, here’s what I’d say to avoid a dunk (in no particular order):

The Stand, by Stephen King: I’ll admit, the ending left me a little flat, but the first 800 pages reveal the most engrossing, thrilling, terrifying, and unforgettable journey I’ve ever read by characters I can’t forget. Wow.

Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury: I first read this masterpiece in grade school and it’s never left me. The imagery and themes—that words aren’t just ink on a page, but the soul of person, and a culture—resonates as much today as it ever has.

Body of a Girl, by Leah Stewart: Probably the least-known book on this list, Body of a Girl is a moody thriller set in the sweltering Memphis summer, about a young crime reporter investigating the murder of a similarly-aged young woman, and just how closely linked their two lives seem to be.

Lamb, by Christopher Moore: We all know the story of baby Jesus and then his time as an adult. But what happened to him during those twenty years he was gone? In maybe the funniest book I’ve ever read, Christopher Moore answers those and more.

The Cather in the Rye, by JD Salinger: Holden Caufield is a complicated teen suffering from overwhelming survivor’s guilt at a time when such a phrase didn’t even exist. I reread this book every five years or so, and each time it’s an entirely new experience.

Claire DeWitt and The City of the Dead, by Sara Gran: The first in an ongoing series, Claire DeWitt is a modern day private investigator, in this story investigating a murder set in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. We not only learn about the lives impacted by that horrific storm, but a glimpse into Claire’s complicated past, including a missing person—and a rare book—that set her on the path to becoming a private eye in the first place.

Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline: Maybe it’s because I spent my adolescence in the 1980s, but Ready Player One had me hooked from the first page to the last, a scavenger hunt, video game bonanza, and quest to save humanity from evil, corporate overlords all in one.

The Sirens of Titan, by Kurt Vonnegut: A trippy, future-set sci-fi novel about a man who phases in and out of time, seemingly able to predict a future we are unable to change. And maybe that’s a good thing.

The Great Bridge, by David McCullough: This fascinating and immaculately researched recounting of the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge and the herculean efforts required to make it happen is one of the greatest stories I’ve heard. Read this book and you’ll never forget it.

Mindhunter, by John Douglas and Mark Olshaker: If you’ve seen the similarly titled series on Netflix you know about the formation of the FBI’s branch of investigators studying the minds of serial killers. But the book on which the series is based goes much deeper into the minds of these killers and the processes the investigators developed to better understand how to track and capture the most dangerous criminals alive.

About the Book

Genre: Sci-Fi, Mystery

Date Published: September 1, 2020

Publisher: Crazy 8 Press 

Angela Hardwicke isn’t just any private eye. She’s a PI from Eternity, the cosmic realm responsible for the design, creation, and maintenance of the Universe.

When accountant Gil Haberseau hires her to find an intern with stolen corporate files, Hardwicke soon finds herself embroiled in a deadly case of lies, intrigue, and murder, clashing with vengeful gangsters, MinderNot rallies, and a madman who’s come a long way to get what he wants.

In Russ Colchamiro’s thrilling Sci-Fi mystery Crackle and Fire, Angela Hardwicke learns once and for all that when it comes to being an intergalactic private eye, there’s no telling what threats she may face on-realm and off… including the demons that lurk deep within her soul.

Bonus story included! The AI-themed Angela Hardwicke murder mystery, “The Case of Jarlo’s Buried Treasure

About the Author

Russ Colchamiro is also the author of the rollicking sci-fi adventure, Crossline, the zany sci-fi/fantasy backpacking series Finders KeepersGenius de Milo, and Astropalooza, editor of the sci-fi-themed mystery anthology Love, Murder & Mayhem, and co-author and co-editor of Murder in Montague Falls, a noir-inspired collection of novellas.

Russ is also the creator and host of Russ’s Rockin’ Rollercoaster podcast, where he has interviewed several NY Times and USA Today best-selling sci-fi, fantasy, and mystery authors. Russ has also contributed short stories to more than a dozen sci-fi and fantasy anthologies.

He lives in New Jersey with his wife and two children.

Contact Links

Website: www.russcolchamiro.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RussColchamiroAuthor/

Twitter: @authorduderuss

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCUb7MDUNQxyVRBDOTVEqOaw

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4450877.Russ_Colchamiro?from_search=true&from_srp=true

Instagram: @authorduderuss

Purchase Links

Amazon:

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[Book Blitz]: Two for the Road by Henry Hoffman

An Adam Fraley Mystery

Genre: Mystery, Crime Mystery

Published: September 2020

Publisher: Melange Books

Private investigator Adam Fraley and his colleague, Tamra Fugit, the woman to whom he is engaged, travel vastly different paths, as they take on two seemingly unrelated missing person cases.

The trails take them through idyllic lands darkened by underworld intrigue, twisted relationships. carnal temptation, physical danger, and personal tragedy. Such are the legal ramifications they confront during their crossing of both state and international boundaries, that the FBI is eventually drawn into the matter.

From the very beginning, little did the investigators realize that the two roads they were travelling eventually would come crashing together in a manner entirely unexpected, testing not only their professional skills and resolve, but their personal faith in each other.

Excerpt

Chapter One

April 1997

The paramount lesson Adam Fraley learned early on in the private investigation business was to place a premium on case selection. Much like personnel hiring, you want to make sure you take on the right case, just as you would the right person, lest you end up drowned in disappointment and endless damage control. Fortunately, he had thus far successfully managed this aspect of the business. First, by hiring Tamra Fugit several years ago as his office manager. Secondly, by relying on her knack for making the right choices. Still, no selection system was foolproof. As an old boss of his was fond of saying, “You can only ride horses so many times before you get bucked off one.” Consequently, the admonition was always in the back of his mind when he and she met for their regular Monday morning caseload review.

“What’s on the agenda?” he asked from a visitor’s chair positioned in front of her desk.

“Two cases—one for you and one for me,” she said, working her desktop computer.

He halted in mid-motion the sip of coffee he was about to take to look askance at her.

She swiveled her chair to face him. “I’ve assisted you in nearly every case we’ve taken on since I was hired here, Adam. And thanks to your generosity, I will soon own half of the business. No better time for me to start taking half ownership of some of the cases, don’t you agree?”

“By ownership you mean taking to the street—the actual gumshoe part.”

“Yes…surveillance and tracking.”

“Who’s going to take care of the office end of it while we’re out gumshoeing?” he asked, carefully setting his coffee cup on her desk.

“Think of it this way,” she replied. “As with the modern family, the mother sometimes stays home to tend to the house and kids while the father is at work. Conversely, the husband stays home while the working wife takes to the road. We are destined to become a family business, are we not?”

“You’re looking terrific today,” he abruptly said to the woman who would have to be subjected to prolonged physical duress, say like an extended hike through the Mohave desert, to look bad—the woman, by the way, he happened to be betrothed to. But for her presence, the Adam Fraley Private Investigations office could best be described as nondescript, he opined.

“Do you realize your auburn hair, beautiful green eyes, and bright yellow dress offset very well the dull cast of this office?” he continued.

“You’re digressing,” she said. “Or are you stalling?”

“Okay, what are the two?” he asked in resignation.

“The first is for you,” she said, sorting through some notes on her desk. “I received a call from a woman by the name of Carmen Rivera. She was calling from Bogota, Colombia, where she lives. She has a son by the name of Manny who is attending Coastal State College here. She and her husband have not heard from Manny in over a month. Normally, he checks in with them at least once or twice a week. He lives in an off-campus home which he shares with another student who, for whatever reason, claims no knowledge of his whereabouts.”

“She’s contacted the cops?”

“Yes, and received the standard reply. Since he is an adult and there is no evidence of foul play, they will not get involved at this point.”

“We should send the department a thank you note, considering how much business that policy of theirs generates for us. You have the address for the kid?”

She again scrambled through the notes on her desk, picked one out and handed it to him. “Here you go.”

“Before we get started, how are we handling the fees? It’s not like we have a history of job requests from overseas on which to draw from. In fact, we have no history of it…right?”

“Correct,” she said. “However, if we do take the case, she will wire us a down payment upfront with the remainder to follow once we have concluded our investigation.”

“What do you think?” he asked. “Legitimate?”

“She spoke in a very cultured voice and with a mother’s concern. My sense is the Rivera family could very well be one of the five percent of the populace who control the wealth of the country.”

“Five percent…is that a fact or your opinion?”

“It comes from a former roommate of mine who spent a half year in the country.”

“Doing what?”

“Studying the Colombia rainforest region.”

“For what?”

“Six course credits,” she cracked. “She was in a study abroad program.”

“Well, it’s not likely we’re going to break the parents financially,” he said. “And the second case—the one you’ve put a claim to?”

Tamra glanced at another note on her desk. “I received a call from a man named Mickey Riley. He says his sister went missing about four weeks ago. He wants us to find her.”

“Let me guess…the cops don’t want to get involved because she is an adult and there is no evidence of foul play.”

“You got it.”

“So, does Mickey have any idea where his sister might be?”

“With her husband somewhere, he says.”

“And that’s a bad thing?” Adam asked, no doubt repeating the same question the cops asked the brother.

“According to Mickey, the husband, himself, is a bad thing…a very bad thing. Apparently, his sister has become a virtual prisoner of her husband, to the point he won’t even let her out of the house. A control freak, to say the least.”

“So, you aim to free her?”

“I aim to find her. It’s up to the brother to free her. He’s coming in for a meeting this afternoon. I should know more then, including where would be a good place to start looking for her. Meanwhile, your mother called. She’d like to know if we want a wedding planner. If so, she knows of a good one.”

“We’ve already decided we don’t need one, don’t you remember?”

“I certainly do, but apparently you failed to pass that bit of info along to her.”

“I’ll tell her when we finish with these two cases,” he sighed, perturbed by his oversight.

“You know, this will be a good time to go on the road,” he followed. “Noelle will be on her school-sponsored camping trip. We should be home by the time she returns.”

“If all goes well,” Tamra responded with a deadpan expression.

Adam leaned across the desk. “I have a proposition for you. How about we flip the cases? You trail after the missing student and I chase after the missing sister? You know how volatile these simmering domestic situations can get. They’re invariably about some demented guy’s passion to control another, usually a helpless woman, like the one you describe in this case. The moment you show up, you become a threat to take away that control. Needless to say, he’s not going to like that at all.”

“Are you worried for my safety? Would you rather I go chasing after porch poachers…sit in the car for hours on end waiting for a home delivery to be stolen? We still have one of those requests on the back burner waiting for a decision.”

“No, I’m not worried for your safety. It’s the safety of the captive wife’s husband, I’m worried about,” he joshed, rising from his chair to give her a quick kiss, followed by a longer one, before heading out of the office. “Before you leave, I have two other items to run by you,” she said, halting his movement.

“Okay…the first?”

“Harold Jenkins, the attorney from The Justice Brigade called. He wants to know if you’d like to meet with him regarding the merger idea that he discussed with you over the phone a while back.”

Adam slipped back into the chair, indicating it was a subject requiring immediate attention. “What do you think?” he asked of her.

Tamra gave a slight shrug. “I remember you mentioned the idea at the time. Run it by me again.”

“They’re interested in bringing us into their fold via some sort of a partnership, whether it be a corporate takeover, merger, or retainer-type arrangement. Whatever it takes to get us on board.”

“A big operation like theirs? What for?”

“Law firms have a need for tracking missing persons or conducting background checks, as you well know…”

“Yes, we’ve conducted several for them recently,” she interjected.

“Right, and apparently they liked the results. The Justice Brigade is one of those young, aggressive, fast-growing firms looking to gain a leg up on their competition. It’s not like they don’t have many law firms to compete with.”

Tamra flashed a look of surprise. “By doing their own detective work?”

“My guess is they’re planning to become a one-stop shopping operation, so to speak.”

“What’s in it for us?”

“Well, it could mean a steady work flow, which is no small matter. Looking down the road a way, there’s Noelle’s college tuition costs looming on the horizon. Right now, we’re operating at a small profit margin, enough to keep us afloat for the time being. However, as you and I have discussed, we’ve reached the stage where we’re either going to have to raise production or raise prices. I have a hunch joining forces with the Justice Brigade would lessen our office management burden significantly. Taking on the bulk of our paperwork would be an insignificant addition to their overall workload. Doing so would allow us to concentrate on the detective work.”

“You’re making it sound like—what do they call it in the business world—a white knight coming to the rescue. I don’t see it as magnanimous move on their part, Adam. They are simply making a business pitch.”

“Oh, I agree, but at the moment we’re discussing potential benefits, not the drawbacks. Jenkins also pointed out we would be working under their legal umbrella.”

“Meaning?”

“Meaning they would provide us free legal service, both personal and professional. And depending on the business arrangement, perhaps even corporate benefits, like retirement plans, something foreign to us.”

“Adam, we may be gaining corporate benefits, but would we not be losing our corporate identity?”

“That’s going to depend on the details of the proposed agreement. The question is how much independence we would be surrendering, starting with the case selection process. Who is going to have the final say on which ones we take on?”

“I do see one potential benefit in that regard,” Tamra opined. “They could serve as a filter to the possible legal landmines of each case. There are always those we have to consider.”

“True, but then there are other issues—potential conflicts of interest, the need to report to a supervisor, how it may affect the positive relationship we’ve developed with local law enforcement officials over the years—not to mention the more logistical items like office location. No question, there would be details galore to be worked out. Perhaps not so many if it was a retainer-type agreement, which could suffice, for all we know.”

“Something along the lines of a rental car company operating in the maintenance section of a car dealership,” Tamra suggested. “Have you consulted with your old boss on this?”

“Pete? No, though I definitely intend to before any final decision is made.”

Adam was already having second thoughts on the proposed relationship, particularly its impact on the freedom of choice regarding the case selection guidelines. Currently, the procedure was greatly influenced by their location. They were operating out of a street-level office situated on the corner of a moderately busy street. Walk-in traffic was steady—granted, not always a good thing for a P.I. outfit. It led to a significant amount of “impulse buying,” which was not in tune with most of the trade’s target base. Passersby would spot the store sign and on the spur of the moment decide they would rid themselves of lingering suspicions that their spouses were cheating on them, or an employee of theirs had his or her hand in the till, or they wanted their outdoor cat trailed so they could find out where it was spending the day. Following one walk-in guy’s request that they conduct a background check on his neighbor whom he suspected was a mass murderer, he joked to Tamra that they should post a sign on the front entrance stating We don’t do serial killers. It was one of the reasons a growing number of private investigators were forsaking the brick-and-mortar store for the home office where there was less chance of the delusional individual wandering in off the street to seek their assistance. In a home-based operation it was much easier to concentrate on corporate clients who were interested in tackling problems like insurance fraud or employee theft. That’s where the money was.

Yet, despite all the challenges posed by the walk-in trade, it did offer what Adam considered the most rewarding aspect of the profession—the opportunity to fix a family for the man or woman in the street. Tamra had picked up on this preference of his early on and had developed the skills to take on cases based on the attributes of clients, more so than the task involved, a distinction that greatly reduced the possibility of subsequent regret.

“In selecting clients, you want to pick someone whose side you wish to be on,” he had advised her. “There are no honeymoon, probation, or engagement periods with clients. Therefore, you want to be on the same page with them from day one. Lawyers may look at it differently, giving greater consideration to the case.”

Her earlier mention of a white knight potentially acting as a filter for the business brought him an inward smile, for there was no better filter than her in screening out the nightmare client.

“Maybe these two cases we’re taking on simultaneously will give us an indication of how raising the production end of the operation impacts us…office-wise and field-wise,” Tamra continued.

Adam glanced at the wall clock. “Maybe so…now, what was the second item you wanted to bring up before I head off?” he asked, hurrying her along.

“I received my first subpoena.”

“Relating to Adam Fraley Private Investigations, I assume.”

“Yes.”

“Another good reason to join The Justice Brigade,” he quipped. “Seriously, you are to be congratulated. I’m surprised it took this long. In this business you come to expect them. What does it pertain to?”

“Do you recall those background checks I conducted for the Midtown Mall security people for that job opening they had a few months back?”

“Sure do.”

“One of the applicants is suing, claiming she lost out to a far less qualified candidate. I’m not sure why they want my testimony.”

“Which side are you testifying for?”

“The security firm…any tips?”

“Stick to the facts of the background checks and be very careful with your opinions. I had a similar case not long after I first got into this business. I conducted background checks on a group of applicants for an upper level position in a banking firm. As in your case, one of the applicants sued for being bypassed for what she called a less qualified candidate. The bank felt they had a solid case and, in my opinion, they did. In the court testimony, however, one of the bank’s personnel managers on the hiring panel stupidly commented on the witness stand that he considered the plaintiff a dullard. When the judge’s final ruling came down in favor of the plaintiff, the word ‘dullard’ appeared five times in the written decision. He cited it as an example of a preconceived bias. As a result, the plaintiff ended up getting the job and the careless personnel manager wound up without one. He was fired.”

“I’ll be sure to watch my language,” Tamra declared.

“When’s the court date? It’s not going to interfere with present business, is it?”

“No, it’s a month away.”

“You’re fortunate, though I should say we’re fortunate. Often those subpoenas are served hours in advance,” he said. “Nothing like having a monkey wrench thrown into your regular workday plans before you even get started on them.”

Adam paused a moment, reflecting on Tamra’s proposal about who would handle which assignment. Both cases could present dangerous circumstances, he knew from previous experience, so trading cases based on the facts as presently known could be premature.

“Tamra, I’m not comfortable leaving you in charge of a domestic case that could go awry,” he said.

“The future is always unclear, no matter what type of case we take on,” she countered.

“This is the nature of the business we’re in.”

“Then promise me that you’ll fill me in the moment your intuition tells you that you’re in over your head.”

“You’ll be the first to know, she said, gathering her notes. “With that in mind, we best hit the road.”

About the author

Henry Hoffman is a former newspaper editor and public library manager. He is the author of the Adam Fraley Mystery Series and is the recipient of the Florida Publishers Association’s Gold Medal Award for Florida Fiction.

Contact Links

Website: http://www.henryhoffman.net

GoodReads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/87713.Henry_Hoffman

Promo Link: http://bookbuzz.net/blog/mystery-two-for-the-road-by-henry-hoffman/

Purchase Links

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Two-Road-Adam-Fraley-Mystery-ebook/dp/B08GMC5JBV/

B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/two-for-the-road-henry-hoffman/1137540074?ean=2940162699859

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/two-for-the-road-14

iBooks: https://books.apple.com/us/book/two-for-the-road/id1529531031?mt=11&app=itunes

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/1039966

Publisher: http://www.melange-books.com/authors/henryhoffman/tworoad.html

[Release Blitz]: Starfighter Rising by Daniel Seegmiller

Genre: Science Fiction

Date Published: 17 September 2020 

The enemy wanted him. The galaxy needed him.

Sixty years ago Nolvarics nearly conquered the solar system. They were defeated by starfighters.

Konran dreamed of becoming a starfighter, but he blew his one shot five years ago. Now his life is stuck in neutral as a glorified rock hauler.

He didn’t expect to find Nolvarics lurking within the solar system. They didn’t expect him to survive the confrontation.

Now all eyes are on Konran as he is plunged into a whirlwind of space battles, peril, and conspiracy. The Nolvarics will stop at nothing to catch him, dead or alive.

Can Konran rise up and claim his destiny, or will the galaxy fall?

Excerpt

Finally, his target comes into view. Barely visible despite the sparkling backdrop of one hundred million Milky Way stars, an icy, gravitationally bonded cluster of space rocks emerges through the inky darkness of deep space: one of a hundred Nolvaric operating bases lurking out here in the Kuiper Belt.

Some of the ice rocks loom large with the diameter of Neptune’s Nereid. Others glisten like meteors, swirling dangerously throughout the chaotic cluster on rapid, angular orbits. Ambient light is scarce at 5.9 billion kilometers from the sun, but Konran has no trouble seeing. Holographic overlays enhance his vision, displaying the objects teeming about by rendering their infrared emissions and quantum gravity distortions. Augmented so, the scene almost looks like a video game from the ’80s—the 2180s, to be precise.

Nolvaric starfighters converge on Konran like bloodthirsty mosquitos at sunset. With four wings like crab legs, pointed fuselages like herons’ beaks, and shark-fin masts protruding from the top and bottom, the enemy starfighters glint like demon spiders against the galactic backdrop. Known as Askeras, these are the nimblest, nastiest, most infamous of all Nolvaric starfighters. No longer able to ignore the escalating starfighter threat, Konran’s plasma cannons unleash upon his foe. Mounted in rotating turrets at his Sparrowhawk’swingtips and nose, the cannons gyrate like shoulders in sockets, auto-tracking Nolvaric targets and spraying plasmic death in all directions. Enemies surround him, and Konran jolts and jags through their ranks. Askeras explode like firecrackers as he evades their return fire.

Passing through their midst, he stabilizes his trajectory and slows down just enough, letting them get close. The Askerasflock behind him, closing in as if for the kill.

Works every time, he thinks with a grin.

Konran inverts his Sparrowhawkand his cockpit and craft reorient in an instant, flipping his point of view toward his aft thruster. In the same instant, his wingtip and nose-tip plasma cannons transmute from guns to gravito-nuclear rocket engines, providing him maneuvering capability as his formerly aft thruster assumes the role of megacannon.

Konran’s fingers find the targeting solution before his computer signals a lock.

He pulls the trigger, unleashing a concentrated kiloton blast of plasmic devastation from what moments before had been his backside. Fifteen Askeras disintegrate as forty more scatter. Konran reverts his Sparrowhawk, his weapons and propulsion systems resume their standard roles, and he rockets once more toward the gravitationally bonded cluster of chaos that was the Nolvaric operating base.

His Sparrowhawk careens around the diameter of an ice-encrusted, Texas-size rock, skirting no more than a dozen meters above its surfaceMore crablike Askerasdescend upon him, and he releases his orbit, quickly dodging through a cloud of man-size space debris before losing the Askeras between a scattering of larger space rocks.

Gravity switches constantly within the agitated anarchy of asteroids, but Konran adjusts effortlessly, surfing the gravitational gradients like he was born for this kind of action. His guns tear through another pack of Askeras as he winds around an oblong icicle half the size of Portugal. And then there it is: a glowing, pulsating ice rock at the center of the swirling chaos—the heart of the Nolvaric operating base.

It rotates there, seemingly slower than the surrounding bedlam. It beckons to Konran, washing his cockpit in an ethereal, incandescent green. More Askeras focus on him, and he diverts all power to his aft thruster, jetting forward on the power of a thousand sequential gravito-nuclear explosions.

This will be the only attack run, the one chance to win or die.

Konran inverts his Sparrowhawk. His cockpit flips and his craft reorients in preparation for the killing stroke. A green light appears at the edge of the energy source, then another and another, revealing the deadliest of the Nolvaric defenses: concentrated plasmic energy bundles propelled like cannonballs from the heart itself. The green plasma balls fill the vacuous space before him, each trying to end him. They destabilize as they get close, exploding with vicious stored energy and rocking his Sparrowhawkwith relentless plasmic shockwaves. Konran dodges one, then ten, then fifty of the blasts, intent on his target.

His megacannon comes within range, and he depresses the trigger.

A column of orange plasma leaps from his Sparrowhawk: a kiloton of destruction inbound on the target as if someone had just hooked a firehose up to a hurricane and funneled in all the lightning at once. The green Nolvaric heart shudders, wracking and cracking beneath the blast. Konran’s sensor displays indicate massive fissures forming within the glowing green asteroid—but it isn’t dead yet. His trigger finger itches as his megacannon cycles and he dances between waves of green plasma balls.

One more well-placed shot will complete the job.

Konran knows the spot, feeling it more than seeing it within the monstrosity of a space rock. He takes aim, angling slightly with a careful boost from his dual nose-tip cannons—which, inverted so, are presently providing propulsion to his Sparrowhawk.

He squeezes the trigger.

And with an enormous green flash, a Nolvaric plasma ball smashes straight into his cockpit. And everything goes black.

About the Author

Daniel Seegmiller grew up loving Star Wars, Mech Warriors, and all things sports. He started out as an English major before switching to his other love, science. He has an MS in mechanical engineering and has worked on everything from biomechanics, to machine learning, to defense technology. 

Daniel loves dreaming up awesome adventures…like, literally, he wakes up in the middle of the night with the best ideas. Most of the stories he writes are for his kids. Starfighter Rising is his debut novel.

He lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico with his wife and three squirrelly children.  

Contact Links

Website: www.danielseegmiller.com

Facebook: Daniel Seegmiller Author

Twitter: @DanSeegWrites

Goodreads: Daniel Seegmiller

Purchase Link

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2ZkVwJU

Giveaway: Amazon gift card

https://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/408264011187

[Guest Post]: Opening and Closing Done Right by Stu Jones & Gareth Worthington, the authors of “In the Shadow of a Valiant Moon”

Today, I’m hosting not just one but two award-winning science fiction authors. Stu Jones and Gareth Worthington are talking about their latest release “In the Shadow of a Valiant Moon”. You can find my post about this new release here: https://saltandnovels.wordpress.com/2020/08/25/release-blitz-in-the-shadow-of-a-valiant-moon-by-stu-jones-gareth-worthington/

Genre: Sci-fi, dystopian, apocalyptic 

Date Published: May 22 2018

Publisher: Vesuvian Books

The world you know is dead. We did this to ourselves.

The epidemic struck at the end of the Third World War. Fighting over oil, power, and religion, governments ignored the rise of an antibacterial-resistant plague. In just five years, the Earth was annihilated. Only one city survived—Etyom—a frozen hellhole in northern Siberia, engulfed in endless conflict.

The year is 2251.

Two groups emerged from the ashes of the old world. Within the walled city of Lower Etyom dwell the Robusts—descendants of the poor who were immune to the New Black Death. Above them, in a metropolis of pristine platforms called lillipads, live the Graciles—the progeny of the superrich, bio-engineered to resist the plague.

Mila Solokoff is a Robust who trades information in a world where knowing too much can get you killed. Caught in a deal gone bad, she’s forced to take a high-risk job for a clandestine organization hell-bent on revolution.

Demitri Stasevich is a Gracile with a dark secret—a sickness that, if discovered, will get him Ax’d. His only relief is an illegal narcotic produced by the Robusts, and his only means of obtaining it is a journey to the arctic hell far below New Etyom.

Thrust together in the midst of a sinister plot that threatens all life above and below the cloud line, Mila and Demitri must master their demons and make a choice—one that will either salvage what’s left of the human race or doom it to extinction …

        

Awards:

Bronze Medal Winner — 2019 Independent Publisher Book Awards — Science Fiction

  Gold (1st Place) Winner — 2019 Feathered Quill Book Awards — Science Fiction/Fantasy

 Finalist — 2018 Dragon Awards — Science Fiction

  Winner — 2018 New York Book Festival — Science Fiction

     First Place Ribbon — 2018 Chanticleer International Book Awards — Science Fiction

Purchase link: https://books2read.com/IntheShadowofaValiantMoon

Opening and Closing Done Right

by Stu Jones and Gareth Worthington

The art of opening and closing as a writer is of vital importance, but it is a skill often overlooked. Many authors labor over character, style, prose, and descriptive world building. All of these things are important – but none of them matter if your reader doesn’t keep reading.

In today’s fast-paced, on-demand, caffeine-fueled, internet culture, every entertainment option a person could possibly want is right there at their fingertips. Video games, movies, YouTube, and social media are constantly in competition, all jockeying to gain the attention of the public. Each provides it’s own unique brand of distraction and entertainment, and each can supplant the other at a moment’s notice at the whim of the consumer.

The art of opening and closing as a writer is of vital importance, but it is a skill often overlooked. Many authors labor over character, style, prose, and descriptive world building. All of these things are important – but none of them matter if your reader doesn’t keep reading.


In today’s fast-paced, on-demand, caffeine-fueled, internet culture, every entertainment option a person could possibly want is right there at their fingertips. Video games, movies, YouTube, and social media are constantly in competition, all jockeying to gain the attention of the public. Each provides it’s own unique brand of distraction an entertainment, and each can supplant the other at a moment’s notice at the whim of the consumer.


Writer’s beware: This is your competition, and if you do not move fast and seize the moment, your hard work, that story you labored over, will be lost in the swirling tide of entertainment options.

Gone are the days of the Tolkien-style rambling epic. As wonderful as they are for the patient reader, stories that begin lazily or end safely do not have the capacity to compete in an era driven by consumerism and never-ending scramble for more entertainment. What does that mean for you? Your story has to grab the reader and sink its hooks in deep. Your opening chapter has to start and end with a BANG! And the end of it, the reader must feel like they are compelled to continue. They have to know what happens next.

We agonize over our opening chapter. We write and re-write and re-work until it’s just right. After all, it’s the most important section of your book. You have to grab your reader with that very first line. Then hit them again at the end of the first paragraph. Then again at the end of the first page. All the way down to the final line of the opening chapter and the inevitable cliffhanger. Will the hero survive? Will the heist be foiled? Will the lovers reunite? Throw your readers into the middle of the action, right from the start, and never let up.


To illustrate here are the opening lines from two of our favorite projects:

“No matter how badly I want it to be different this time, in the end I still die. We all do.”
~ It Takes Death To Reach A Star

“In the darkness behind my eyelids all other senses are heightened. The murmuring of the witnesses seems deafening. Damp air clings claw-like to the nape of my neck. The stench of fear and evacuated bowels wafting from the other stalls, threatens to choke me. But above it all, the pain of betrayal, cold and fatal, stabs like the piercing edge of a blade in my heart.” ~ In the Shadow of a Valiant Moon

Notice the urgency, the intensity, right from the start. This is a trick. Its sole purpose is to hook the reader – and it works. These opening chapters end with little cliffhangers as well, in order to suspend any resolution. To draw out the tension. To cause the reader to have to read just one more chapter.

“Yet Bilgi’s words follow me, clinging to the dark recesses of my heart: We have one life to live, Mila. Use yours to make a difference.” ~ It Takes Death To Reach A Star

“Yes, my name is Death, and Hell follows with me.~ In the Shadow of a Valiant Moon

Once you’ve got your first chapter’s opening and closing honed and razor sharp, then you do it again on the next chapter and the next, until you reach the end. Don’t let up because the moment you make things too nice and comfortable, dear reader is off to check Instagram or watch cat videos. Start and end with a bang, and you’re on your way to writing great fiction.

About the authors:

A veteran law enforcement officer, Stu Jones has worked as a beat cop, an investigator, an instructor of firearms and police defensive tactics and as a member and team leader of a multi-jurisdictional SWAT team. 
Gareth Worthington BSc PhD EMBA is a trained marine biologist and holds a doctorate in comparative endocrinology. Gareth works in the pharmaceutical industry helping to educate the world’s doctors on new cancer therapies.

[Release Blitz]: The Cold War Begins by Roger L. Liles

Second Volume of the Berlin Tunnel Trilogy

 Genre: Historical Fiction

Date Published: September 8, 2020

From Amazon bestsellers list author Roger L. Liles comes the second volume of his Cold War trilogy—THE COLD WAR BEGINS. The setting is war-ravaged Berlin in late 1946. Spies from both sides begin to move with relative ease throughout a Germany occupied by British, French, American and Russian military forces. Kurt Altschuler, our hero, soon becomes one of them.

While working behind enemy lines as an OSS agent in France during World War II, Kurt learns that intelligence collection involves both exhilarating and dangerous encounters with the enemy. He relished every moment he spent as part of the vanguard confronting the Nazis.

That war has been over for 18 months when he is offered a job as a CIA deep-cover agent in the devastated and divided city of Berlin. He jumps at the opportunity, but is concerned that his guise as an Associated Press News Agency reporter will offer little action. He need not worry. Soon, he is working undercover, deep inside of Russian-controlled southeastern Germany. Eventually, KGB agents waylay him and tear his car and luggage apart. His chauffeur is beaten. He is threatened with prison, torture and death.

Enter Erica Hoffmann, a very attractive, aspiring East German archeology student. Any relationship between an undercover CIA agent and an East German woman is strictly forbidden; she might be a KGB or Stasi agent or operative. But he cannot help himself—he has fallen hard for her. Kurt strives assiduously to maintain their tempestuous, star-crossed relationship.

Eventually, Kurt works to counter the efforts of Russian and East German spies, especially a mole who is devastating Western Intelligence assets throughout Europe. He also must work to identify and expose enemy spies who have penetrated the very fabric of the West German government and society. He frequently observes to others that: “the spy business is like knife fighting in a dark closet; you know you’re going to be cut up, you just don’t know how bad.”

About the author

Roger L. Liles decided he had to earn a living after a BA and graduate studies in Modern European History. He went back to school and eventually earned an MS in Engineering from the University of Southern California in 1970. 
In the 1960s, he served as an Air Force Signals Intelligence Officer in Turkey and Germany and eventually lived in Europe for a total of eight years. He worked in the military electronics field for forty years—his main function was to translate engineering jargon into understandable English and communicate it to senior decision-makers in the government.
Now retired after working for forty years as a senior engineering manager and consultant with a number of aerospace companies, he spends his days writing. His first novel, which was published in late 2018 was titled The Berlin Tunnel—A Cold War Thriller. His second novel The Cold War Begins was published in late 2020 and is the second volume in his planned The Cold War Trilogy. This trilogy is based on extensive research into Berlin during the spy-versus-spy era which followed World War II and his personal experience while living and working in Europe. He is in the process of writing its third volume of the trilogy which will be titled The Berlin Tunnel—Another Crisis and takes the story into 1962 and the era of the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Contact Link

Website: http://RogerLLiles.com

Purchase Link

Amazon Link Coming Soon

Giveaway

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/408264011182/

$5 Amazon Gift Card & eBook Copy