[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

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$5 Amazon Gift Card & eBook Copy

[Release Blitz]: In the Shadow of a Valiant Moon by Stu Jones & Gareth Worthington

Genre: Sci fi, dystopian, apocalyptic

Date Published: Aug 25 2020

Publisher: Vesuvian Books

Four years have passed since the lillipads fell and Etyom slipped into darkness. The New Black Death has mutated again, spreading to near epidemic proportions. What little order existed in Earth’s last city has disintegrated into chaos.

Rippers roam the Vapid, robbing and leaving their victims butchered. The Robusts have spilled out of their broken enclaves and hide in any dark corner that will conceal them. Meanwhile, the elite Graciles, fallen from their pristine towers in the sky, have all mysteriously disappeared.

Demitri is a prisoner in his own mind. His demon, Vedmak—now known as the Vardøger—is manipulating Demitri’s body to execute a secret plan far more disastrous than even the Gracile Leader dared.

Mila, her status among the fractured resistance elevated to that of Paladyn—a protector of the people—leads the fight against zealots intent on destroying what little remains of Etyom. It is a responsibility she never wanted, a calling that prevents her from doing what she truly desires.

Yet, Mila should be careful of what she longs. Caught between annihilation and loyalties that refuse to die, she must reconcile a single immutable truth: following your heart comes at a price.

Previous Book in the Series

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 …

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

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

EXCERPT from Book 2

MILA

The young man in the brown jacket spins, arms raised high, a blood-curdling scream issuing from his lips. A few awkward steps and he falls, sprawling headlong across a pile of slush and rubble. A crimson fan spreads out under his corpse, staining the snow red. Another death, another friend of the cause, gone.

He was seventeen.

All around the pop-whizz of gunfire followed by deafening explosions from detonating grenades reminds us all the Kahangan stronghold of Nazal will not fall easily. I slide farther into the frozen mud of the ditch and scrunch into a ball.

“Mos.” Where the hell is he? “Mos, you with me?”

“I’m here, Mila.” The barrel chested Kahangan with midnight skin crawls up next to me, careful to keep his bulk below the rise.

“Who’s hit?”

“Mauricio.”

“Is he dead?”

“He’s not moving.”

“Sniper?” Mos jerks his head in the direction of the building before us. Politsiya in faded Cyrillic letters adorns the ruined facade.

“Knows what they’re doing too.” I pull a small mirror from the arm pouch on my leather jacket and slowly raise it to get a better view.

In the reflection is the form of a person, prone on the roof of the palace—if you can call it that.

A glint of light bounces off the glass.

I snatch my hand down and pinch my eyes shut as a chunk of earth explodes from the rim of the ditch, showering us with wet clods of cold mud. The lingering crack of a rifle follows. He’s got a sarding scope and a good, stable position. Guy definitely knows what he’s

doing.

“There’s a way up to the roof on the back side,” Mos says. “I can flank his position and approach from behind if you can keep his attention.” He cocks his head. “That’s probably stupid, huh?”

“It’s only stupid if it doesn’t work.”

Mos, already shuffling away, motions to a few others hiding in another ditch to follow.

“What are you going to do?” I ask.

“Wait for my call.” Mos grins, revealing large, square, white teeth, then creeps away and seems to vanish into thin air.

The cold seeps through my clothing, stealing the fading warmth of the sun. My scarred Kalashnikov rifle feels like a cold, lead weight. I exchanged my bean-bag propelling weapon for a death-dealing one some time ago. I don’t even remember when that happened. Like everything else in this forsaken city, it just sort of did. Yeos forgive me. I loose my canteen from my satchel and take a shaky swallow of the nearly frozen water.

A bark, much like a wild dog.

The signal. “Now!”

I drop the canteen, roll to the left, and rise to one knee. Three more of my fighters appear and the air ignites with the sounds of war. Dust and stone billow around the sniper’s nest. Our suppressive fire has the desired effect: he’s blinded by debris.

“Ceasefire!” I kneel again, the Kalashnikov pressed into my shoulder, watching as the dust clears. “Stand ready.”

We wait in silence, a bitter wind snapping at our scarf-covered faces.

Another flash of light from the roof.

“Get down!” I flop into the muck.

This time there is no report. No exploding clump of earth. A cry of terror fills the air, followed by the sounds of a struggle. I chance a glance. Mos is standing tall and proud on the roof.

“Hold your fire!” I yell.

My comrades lower their weapons. Mos reaches down and plucks up a skinny Kahangan who drops a long-barreled rifle. The little man screams, flailing madly against my friend’s superior strength.

“Traitor.” Mos bellows loud enough to be heard, even from down here. With a single heave, the large Kahangan hurls the sniper over the edge. The man’s hollow scream is cut short as he strikes the frozen ground some ten stories below.

I force myself to peer down at his mangled corpse, twisted like a broken doll in the ice and mud below. The Kalashnikov drops to hang from its canvas strap across my chest. My people follow suit, relaxing their guard, their eyes glazed over in a mixture of relief and stress. They’re all good soldiers. Committed to the cause—peace in Etyom, the last city. The Kahangan civil war has been going on for too long. Kapka—who somehow managed to survive the RPG blast on the platform four years ago—continues his campaign against the followers of Yeos with renewed vigor, but has so far not managed to take this Musul faction. Instead, in this desolate place, power-hungry warlords fight over resources while the people suffer. Here, it’s not Kapka who reigns, but Nazal.

Little is known of the origins of this despot. Some say, like all warlords, he simply rode to power on the broken backs of the Kahangan people. That there was nothing he wasn’t willing to do and no one he wasn’t willing to betray to claim the power he felt was owed to him. Others seem to whisper of his evil deeds like he’s some sort of phantom—a terrible consequence of our own divisiveness. Whatever the case, Nazal is a plague. He’s no Kapka, but the piles of corpses he’s left in his wake can no longer be overlooked. The resistance will stop him because someone must.

Trailer: In the Shadow of a Valiant Moon

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.

Contact Links

Website: www.ittakesdeathtoreachastar.com

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5976521.Gareth_Worthington https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5266877.Stu_Jones

Instagram: @garethworthington @stujonesfiction

Purchase Links

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

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[Book Blitz]: The True Adventures of Gidon Lev by Julie Gray

 

Bookcover

 

Genre: Narrative non-fiction/biography

Date Published: July 01, 2020

Publisher: Lightning Source

Of the approximately 15,000 children imprisoned in the Nazi concentration camp of Térézin (Theresienstadt ) near Prague, less than 100 survived. Gidon Lev is one of those children.

On the face of it, The True Adventures of Gidon Lev is the story of an elderly Holocaust survivor—a man who made it through horrifying events and lived to tell the tale. But Gidon (pronounced “Gid-awn”) did more than survive—he thrived. Gidon’s is the story of a little boy who never truly grew up, with a desperate need to belong and to build a family for himself. His story spans the beginnings of a fledgling country, a first marriage gone seriously wrong, a second marriage that lasted for over forty years and a late-in-life relationship with a writer and editor, thirty years his junior with whom his adventures continued, apace.

 

The True Adventures of Gidon Lev Blitz

 

About the author 

 

JGGL

Julie Gray was born in 1964 in the San Joaquin Valley in California. A longtime Huffington Post contributor, Julie has been published in the Sanskrit Literary Journal, Moment Magazine, The Times of Israel, MovieMaker Magazine, Script Magazine, and Hip Mama. Her essay “The Freaking Autumn of My Life” was included in the anthology “Aging: An Apprenticeship.” A veteran essayist and editor, Julie moved to Israel in 2012 and is working on her memoir “They Do Things Differently Here.”

 

Contact Links

Website: www.juliegray.info

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pg/MyLovingLifeBuddy/posts/?ref=page_internal

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JulieGray972

Blog: https://www.thetrueadventures.com/blog-1

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

Instagram: Https://www.instagram.com/Gidon&Julie

 

Purchase Links

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Giveaway

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[Book Blitz]: A Time Traveler’s Guide through the Multiverse by Steven M. Moore

 

A Time Travelers Guide through the Multiverse

 

Genre: Science Fiction, Time Travel, Sci-fi Rom-Com

Date Published: July 2020

Publisher: Carrick Publishing

Enrico Fermi wasn’t the last physicist who was both an experimental and theoretical genius, but Professor Gail Hoff will never receive the Nobel Prize. She wants to travel through time but discovers she can only go forward. She goes time-travelling through several universes of the multiverse, never to return to her little lab outside Philly. Jeff Langley, her jack-of-all-trades electronics wizard, accompanies her.

Their escapades, both amorous and adventurous, make this sci-fi rom-com a far-out road-trip story filled with dystopian and post-apocalyptic situations, first encounter, robots and androids—all that and more await the reader who rides along.

 

 

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About the author 

 

 

A Time Travelers Guide through the Multiverse Author Steven M. Moore

Steven M. Moore was born in California and has lived in various parts of the US and Colombia, South America. He always wanted to be a storyteller but had to postpone that dream to work in academia and R&D as a physicist. His travels around Europe, South America, and the US, for work or pleasure, taught him a lot about the human condition and our wonderful human diversity, a learning process that started during his childhood in California’s San Joaquin Valley.

Steve is now a full-time writer who has written many sci-fi, mystery, and thriller novels, some of them contained in six series. He and his wife now live in Montclair, NJ, only thirteen miles west of the Lincoln Tunnel.

You can learn more about Steve and his books at his website: https://stevenmmoore.com. Use the contact page there to communicate with him…and to sign up for his email newsletter.

 

Contact Links

Website: https://stevenmmoore.com

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/StevenMMoore4

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

Promo Link: http://bookbuzz.net/blog/time-travel-sci-fi-rom-com-a-time-travelers-guide-through-the-multiverse/

 

 

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Smashwords

[Guest Post]: A Venomous Love by Chris Karlsen

 

Writing an Old Fashioned Detective

 

I spent nineteen of my twenty-five years in law enforcement as a detective. Long before I became a police officer, I wanted to be a writer. But I feared it wasn’t a practical profession and lacked the confidence to an attempt at it. Shortly after I retired from law enforcement, I found the courage to try my hand writing a story that I had floated around in my imagination for years. I started taking classes to learn the craft and began my first book at the same time.

When I went to conferences and seminars the same question was asked: why don’t I write a cop story? I never had the desire to write a contemporary one murder/suspense. I enjoy a good police story as much as anyone. My favorite authors in the genre are Mike Connelly, Joe Wambaugh, and John Sandford. I just didn’t want to take that road.

I love history and began a series of historical romances involving time travel. While writing that series I got the idea for an old fashioned detective. I knew he’d work in London and I couldn’t think of a better setting for murder/suspense than Victorian England. From that idea, Detective Rudyard Bloodstone (Ruddy) was created.

When I started the Bloodstone series, it hadn’t occurred to me how much of my personal experience as a detective would influence the stories. I used my years of interviewing suspects to enhance the mindset(s) of the killers. I found including the POV of the antagonists added a lot of interesting aspects to their characters. They remained villains, but they weren’t flat, black and white ones.

In the first book, Silk, Detective Bloodstone must battle politics and the class structure while pursuing his suspect. In Snifter of Death, the second book, he and his partner find themselves investigating a killer that is the last person anyone would suspect. In my latest book, A Venomous Love, there are two villains. An added twist to the case is the murderer’s use of a most unusual weapon.

My detective experience became important in the execution of Ruddy’s investigations. Silk is set in 1888, Snifter of Death in 1889 and A Venomous Love in 1890. He literally has no forensic science to help him. With each murder, I had to walk the scene with him, observe with him, and consider what could possibly serve as a clue. To stay true to the period, I had to strip away everything I knew from modern investigations and fall back on old fashioned police work.

Detectives everywhere, and over time, have all handled the occasional bizarre case. One of the main elements of A Venomous Love is the weapon used. It is based on an actual event related to me years ago by a London police officer friend of mine. The setting, the time of the story and the weapon add a colorful angle.

I found the challenge of writing a cop story with a Victorian setting surprisingly fun. Detective Bloodstone has become my favorite character to write. I love filling his world with people from all walks of life in that period. He definitely will get more cases to solve in the near future.

 

 

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About the book 

 

A Venomous Love final cover

 

Book 3 of the Bloodstone Series

Genre: Historical Suspense/Thriller

 Date Published: February 28, 2020

Publisher:  Books to Go Now

The killer whispered-“A pretty damsel…worth a pretty risk.”

 

A veteran, Detective Rudyard Bloodstone has fought a brutal battle and witnessed war horrors that haunt his nightmares. Now one of those horrors has followed him home from Africa.

A vicious predator, the Cape cobra, can kill a man in thirty minutes. A suspect using the snake as a weapon in robberies is terrorizing London.

When the crimes escalate into murder, a victim’s daughter, Honoria Underhill, becomes the focus of the killer. After several attempts on her life, Scotland Yard threatens to take over the high profile case. With few leads to follow, Bloodstone and his partner must now fight department politics and catch the killer before Underhill becomes another murder victim.

 

A Venomous Love Tour

 

About the author 

 

 

ChrisAuthor

I was raised in Chicago. My father, a history professor, and my mother, a voracious reader passed on a love of history and books along with a love of travel.

I am a retired police detective. After twenty-five years in law enforcement I decided to pursue my dream of writing. I write a historical-time travel romance series called Knights in Time and a historical suspense called The Bloodstone Series.

I am also working on a world war two series of novella romances. The first is Moonlight Serenade and currently available. The second is my work in progress at the moment and will be titled, The Ack-Ack Girl.

 

Contact Links

Website: https://chriskarlsen.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ChrisKarlsenAuthor/?eid=ARDwh1KvkROLq57XcR6XR9Bbw_-Chyy4hL-c5wrq0kQK2lKjUGjl-FSfdpl_iDk3HEqVCT150TFk0jPq

Twitter: https://twitter.com/chriskarlsen1

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4822048.Chris_Karlsen

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/chriskarlsen/boards/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/?hl=en

Subscribe: https://www.subscribepage.com/Moonlight_Serenade

 

 

A Venomous Love Giveaway

 

Purchase Links

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Giveaway

2 e-copies of A Venomous Love, 1 Amazon gift card for $20 to a random winner

[Book review]: Das Boot by Lothar-Günther Buchheim

 

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Genre: Historical drama/Anti-war drama

Published: 1973 (1st edition)

 

It is autumn, 1941, and a German U-boat commander and his crew set out on yet another hazardous patrol in the Battle of the Atlantic. Over the coming weeks, they must brave the stormy waters of the Atlantic in their mission to seek out and destroy British supply ships.

But the tide is beginning to turn against the Germans in the war for the North Atlantic. Their targets now travel in convoys, fiercely guarded by Royal Navy destroyers, and when contact is finally made the hunters rapidly become the hunted. As the U-boat is forced to hide beneath the surface of the sea a cat-and-mouse game begins, where the increasing claustrophobia of the submarine becomes an enemy just as frightening as the depth charges that explode around it.

Of the 40,000 men who served on German submarines, 30,000 never returned. Written by a survivor of the U-boat fleet, Das Boot is a psychological drama merciless in its intensity, and a classic novel of World War II.

 

 

About the author

 

Lothar-Günther Buchheim (February 6, 1918 – February 22, 2007) was a German author, painter, and art collector. He is best known for his novel Das Boot (1973), which became an international bestseller and was adapted in 1981 as an Oscar-nominated film.

Buchheim was a Sonderführer in a propaganda unit of the Kriegsmarine in the Second World War, writing as a war correspondent about his experiences on minesweepers, destroyers and submarines. He also made drawings and took photographs.

As a Leutnant zur See in the autumn of 1941, Buchheim joined Kapitänleutnant Heinrich Lehmann-Willenbrock and the crew of U-96 on her seventh patrol in the Battle of the Atlantic. His orders were to photograph and describe the U-boat in action. From his experiences, he wrote a short story, “Die Eichenlaubfahrt”.

 

 

My review

 

I wanted to read this book, researching for my writing project. It helped me to understand better not only how U-boats operated and why during the war they became the Allies’ worst nightmare, but also gave me great insights into the life of a crew onboard German U-boat.
Written by a survivor of the U-boat fleet, the book is a fictionalised memoir of Lieutenant Werner (Lothar-Günther Buchheim)who was assigned as a war correspondent to U-96 during her last patrol in the North Atlantic.
This book is more than just a historical drama. The author takes his reader through all circles of hell–from an endless storming the Atlantic and pointless “frigging around” which almost destroyed the crew’s spirit to the two attacks and the crazily dangerous voyage through Gibraltar which almost smashed the U-boat.
Some readers can find the book a bit too long and monotonous, with the author’s endless descriptions of the Atlantic and the Mediterranean weather(the stormy sea, the calm sea, the sea at dawn, etc.) and wordy explanations on how the different compartments of the vessel operate, etc. However, it creates a certain atmosphere. A reader can actually feel dripping of condensation from the ceiling of the boat, smell of machine oil in the engine room, hear explosions of depth charges during attacks.
The author doesn’t give names to most of the crew. We know the men only by their ranks or nicknames: The Old Man/Herr Kaleun(Herr Kapitänleutnant), the Chief, the First Watch Officer, Number One, etc. It doesn’t prevent a reader from connecting to all of them.
Although during the war we were on opposite sides of the barricade, the book made me feel compassionate towards these young men (the Old Man was actually in his mid thirties, the rest of the crew–in their late teens, early twenties) who went through all the horrors of the war, but didn’t lose their honour, bravery, kindness, and ability to help others. Clearly,these men were not evil, brainwashed Nazis. They were just men who were pushed to fight. All they wanted is just to survive and finish the war.
Despite the lack of female characters in the book, can a girl like me relate to main characters? “Jawohl, Herr Kaleun!” Absolutely.

 

[Book Blitz]: Edge of Extinction by Kim Borg

 

Edge of Extinction

 

Genre: Science Fiction/Adventure

Date Published: April 2020

 Publisher: E. L. Marker / WiDo Publishing

The year is 2086 and the planet is deteriorating fast. Extreme weather events and unseasonable climate have become the norm. Millions die of famine and drought each year and yet the population continues to grow, reaching well over 10 billion people. After millions of years of evolution, humanity faces collapse.

But all is not lost.

There is another planet, far from our solar system, which may be capable of supporting human life – Arcadia. Dr. Amber Lytton and Dr. Joel Carter, life-long friends and academic colleagues, along with a team of international scientists, are sent to determine if the planet is suitable for colonization.

But their awe and wonder at the similarities between Earth and Arcadia fade quickly as they learn they are not the only complex lifeforms to set foot on this planet. Sharing is not an option.

 

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Excerpt 

Prologue

Jungle, Unknown—

22:30, 9 March, 2086

 

Alone, he ran.

Wet ferns slapped against his face and arms as he pushed forward blindly. The moonlight could barely penetrate the thick canopy above, blanketing the jungle in shadows. Soft rain droplets mixed with the sweat dripping down his face. Despite the rain and the darkness, he ran. Terrified, he advanced through the trees, moving quickly but cautiously, trying not to lose his footing against the slick gnarled roots. His ears throbbed with the sound of his own heartbeat.

Don’t slow down.

Don’t fall.

Need to hide, need to get away.

The thumping of heavy footsteps followed close behind. The trees rustled in the distance from some unknown force, some unknown creature, as it chased him through the black, storm-lashed night.

Ahead the forest thinned slightly as a clearing opened up, a path in the jungle. The man felt a small sensation of dread swell in his chest. He slowed a fraction as he burst from the thick undergrowth onto the enormous dirt path.

A shadow flashed across the path before him. It was small, about the size of a human, but it moved with incredible speed. For a moment he wondered if his eyes were playing tricks on him. The shadow reappeared, closer this time and moving slower. As it came toward him it was growing in extent. It was not human sized at all. It was enormous; a monstrous figure obscured by the darkness. And it was coming toward him.

The man panicked. He tried to stop running mid-step, but in doing so he lost his footing. He slipped in the mud and hit the ground hard, rolling several times before sliding to a stop on the wet earth. A rising pain began to fill his abdomen; the impact must have been more severe than he realized. He was in the middle of the path, totally exposed. With his face buried in mud, he opened a single eye in time to see an enormous three-toed claw sinking into the sludge beside him. He squeezed his eyes shut again, ignoring the pain coursing through his gut.

Hold still.

Maybe it didn’t see.

He held his breath. He could hear the creature standing above him, breathing deep hollow breaths. It was sniffing, searching. He could feel the warmth of its breath against his back.

Don’t move.

Don’t breathe.

From behind, the man heard the nearby trees shake and snap as something else huge crashed onto the path. The creature that had been pursuing him had finally caught up.

The second creature entered the clearing and paused. For a moment, the jungle was quiet as the two beasts sized each other up. Suddenly the creature with the huge three-toed foot hovering over the man broke the silence with an ungodly roar; a deep resonating bellow which vibrated the ground beneath the man’s face. In return the second animal snarled aggressively; it was a guttural, gravelly hiss. Suddenly, three-toes lunged forward, stepping clear over the man who still lay silently in the mud.

Without missing a beat, the man sprang to his feet. To his right was a large tree with thick buttress roots which wound together creating a hollow, just big enough for a small person to fit inside. He ran to the tree, clutching at his stomach, and jammed his body into the crevice. His ears were ringing from the trumpeting roars and growls as the two titans brawled behind him. He could still feel his heart thumping in his ears. He tried to turn his body to see the creatures outside but he couldn’t move. Glancing down, he saw his field-medic kit. The carabiner which connected the kit to his belt had jammed between the intersecting roots.

He was stuck, facing the huge tree, staring into darkness.

From behind, he could hear the battle raging; the wet smacking of flesh against flesh, the crunching of bones, the snapping of nearby branches. The sounds of these monsters were from another world. The three-toed creature moaned and growled from deep in its throat, projecting a profound and deafening sound, reminiscent of a lion’s roar. The second beast hissed and snarled, more like a crocodile or snake. Each sound sent shivers down the man’s spine.

Another blood-curdling wail rang out, vibrating the man’s eardrums. Judging by the sound, it was the second creature, the one that had pursued him

through the night. Warm thick liquid splashed across his back. He reached a loose hand to his shoulder and felt the sticky substance: blood. The hissing and snarling slowly subsided, giving way to deep and raspy breathing; followed by a loud thump as a huge body crashed onto the earth. Lightning cracked and thunder rolled as the victor bellowed a deep and triumphant howl over its adversary.

The man held his breath again, praying the winner would not come looking for him. After a few moments he could hear the sound of large footsteps moving away, into the jungle, into the distance.

The man remained frozen for several minutes, too terrified to move. He could still feel the warm and sticky blood on his shoulders. After a few moments, his heartbeat began to slow, his breathing returned to normal. A shiver rippled across his body as he started to feel cold. The jungle was silent again, save for the sound of the pounding rain and the occasional distant thunder crack.

He’d made it.

The man tried to wriggle free from the hollow but he was still attached to the medical kit, which was firmly wedged between the tree-roots. Carefully, he maneuvered a free hand down to his waist and unclipped the carabiner, and the kit, from his belt. As soon as he was free he backed away from the roots clumsily.

He looked up and down the path for any signs of movement. As he did so, he stepped backward, slipping slightly as he came into contact with the huge pool of blood seeping toward him. The man turned sharply and found himself standing only meters from the fallen creature. It was a hideous beast, like something out of a child’s nightmare. Its hulking mass moved slightly. A shiver skipped across the man’s spine. For a moment he made eye contact with the beast, his stomach tensed; but its eyes were empty and dull; it was dead.

The man clutched his stomach as the pain continued to intensify. He pressed lightly on his right side, just below the ribcage, and groaned in agony. He doubled over, trying to breathe through it. As he opened his eyes again, the man saw something strange. Lying on the ground at his feet was a beautiful yellow feather the size of his forearm. It was completely out of place in the depths of the jungle. He crouched down and picked it up. It was unlike anything he had ever—WHACK.

Darkness.

 

 

Edge of Extinction on tablet and phone with bookstore logos

 

 

About the author

 

Edge of Extinction Author Kim Borg

Kim Borg is an academic, author, and self-proclaimed nerd. She is a Social and Behavioural Researcher at Monash University in Australia and is one of few people to actually enjoy undertaking a PhD. In all her work you’ll see elements of science (behavioural/fiction), the environment, and animals. Through her research and her novels, Kim’s ambition is to educate as well as entertain.

 

 

 

Contact Links

 

Website: https://kimborg.net/edge-of-extinction

Twitter: https://twitter.com/KimBorgAU

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

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/kimborgau

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

Promo Link: http://bookbuzz.net/blog/science-fiction-edge-of-extinction/

 

 

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