Friday, March 24, 2017

Spotlight and Chapter Reveal: Echoes of Terror, by Maris Soule



Title: Echoes of Terror
Author: Maris Soule
Genre: Mystery
Publisher: Five Star


Find out more on Amazon

The latest release by award-winning novelist Maris Soule, Echoes of Terror is a taut, tense tale about secrets, deadly intentions, and what happens when murder hits way too close to home.   Set against the backdrop of Skagway, Alaska,Echoes of Terror introduces protagonist Katherine Ward, a Skagway police officer who finds herself thrust in extraordinary—and extraordinarily frightening--circumstances when her past, present and future threaten to collide in a most dangerous way.

About Echoes of Terror:  Rural Skagway, Alaska’s small police force is accustomed to an occasional crime--a stolen bike here, a DUI there.  But when a teenager goes missing, the Skagway Police force is hardly prepared, especially with its Police Chief  in the hospital and an officer missing. Officer Katherine Ward is assigned the case, never expecting it to parallel her own kidnapping experience seventeen years earlier.  Soon, Katherine realizes what originally appeared to be the case of a rebellious teen runaway is anything but.  There’s something—or someone—sinister at work in this usually quiet town and a teenager’s life is in danger.

But missing teen Misty Morgan isn’t your average teenage girl:  she’s the daughter of a billionaire.  Misty thought running off with a college boy would get her father’s attention, but now she and another kidnapped teen are praying for their lives at the hands of a ruthless kidnapper. Stuck in China on a business trip, Misty’s father suspected his daughter was up to something and asked his longtime friend, Marine veteran Vince Nanini, to fly to Alaska and stop Misty. Problem is, Vince arrives too late to stop the kidnapping, and the police aren’t eager to let him help find the missing teen.

When Katherine realizes the same man who kidnapped and raped her years ago is the one holding Misty and the other teenager, the terror of those months in captivity resurfaces.  Together, Katherine and Vince must figure out where the kidnapper has taken two teenagers, and fast.  But nothing is at it seems in this race to stop a madman before he kills again. The clock is ticking—and this time, the past is close behind. Dangerously close behind…

Brimming with tension, filled with twists and turns, and resplendent with pulse-quickening suspense that reaches a dramatic and shocking crescendo, Echoes of Terror is a bone-chilling tale that grabs readers and doesn’t let go. Award-winning novelist Maris Soule delivers a briskly paced, masterfully plotted, spine-tinglingly realistic thriller that will leave readers gasping for breath.

According to bestselling novelist Libby Fischer Hellmann, author of the Ellie Foreman mystery series, “The pace and writing will keep you turning pages. And the twist at the end?  I didn’t see if coming. Do yourself a favor and read this thriller now.”

CHAPTER ONE

7:25 a.m. Thursday
“That guy is a frickin’ idiot.”
“Who’s an idiot?”
Brian Bane glanced at the girl sitting next to him before again splitting his attention between the twisting road in front of his Chevy Blazer and the tailgating Ford Explorer. On their right the roadway dropped over a thousand feet. As much as he liked excitement, this Internet-born adventure was not starting out as he’d imagined.
“The guy behind us,” he said, keeping a tight hold on the steering wheel. “He came up out of nowhere. Now he’s all over my ass. Like there’s any way for me to go faster up this grade.”
Misty—or Miss T as she was known on ChatPlace—twisted in her seat to look behind them. Her wild, blonde curls brushed her shoulders, and her mini-skirt showed a teasing view of her inner thigh. “Shit,” she hissed through her teeth.
“What?” Brian said.
“He sent Vince.”
“Who sent Vince?”
“My dad.”
“Your dad?” Brain didn’t like the sound of that. “So who’s Vince?”
“He’s a guy Dad knew in the Marines. He’s supposed to do computer security for my dad’s business, but he keeps acting like he’s my bodyguard. I can’t do a frickin’ thing without him showing up.”
She flopped back against the seat, and crossed her arms over her chest. The fact that her old man had sent someone after her, and the way she was pouting, didn’t bode well. For the first time since he’d picked Misty up in Skagway, Brian wasn’t so certain she was the eighteen years she’d advertised.
“How old are you, Misty? Your real age, I mean.”
She glared at him, and then looked away. “Age is meaningless.”
Meaningless, my ass, he thought. Damn, I’m so screwed. He was about to take an under-aged girl into Canada. No wonder some steroid filled ex-Marine with an over attachment to the boss’s daughter was after him. He’d be lucky if he wasn’t arrested as an International felon.
“Do you think—?”
A thump to the back corner bumper sent the Blazer into a fishtail, and Brian gasped, clinging to the steering wheel as he fought to bring the car back under control. “Jeez, Misty, your dad’s buddy just rammed us.”
“Then step on the gas,” Misty ordered, giving a quick glance behind them. “Outrun him.”
“In this thing?” The old Blazer was tired iron. The first part of the Klondike Highway, from Skagway to White Pass and the Canadian line, was a twisting, turning two-laner that rose from sea level to over three thousand feet. The steep incline was already taxing the engine. They’d be lucky to outrun a snowplow through this stretch.
Again the Explorer rammed into them, this time lurching them straight toward the guardrail as the road turned. Misty yelped and grabbed at the door. Brian swung the wheel. The sensation of the front right fender grating on metal vibrated through the steering column. When they came out of the turn, the Explorer was nearly side by side.
“Your dad’s buddy is nuts! He’s going to kill us.”
“Just go faster!”
“I’m going as fast as I can.”
The powerful Explorer began squeezing them closer to the guardrail. Jaw clenched and muscles taut, Brian struggled to keep his SUV on the pavement. Adrenalin pumped through his body, a bitter taste rising to his throat.
And then his heart nearly stopped.
Just a few hundred feet ahead, the guardrail turned into a twisted, jagged strip of metal that hung limply to the ground. Open air replaced protection. One bump from the Explorer as they passed that broken section of guardrail, and they’d definitely be going over the edge, tumbling down the mountainside.
“That’s it, Babe.”
Brian pulled his foot from the gas and began to brake.
“What are you doing? Don’t slow down!”
“Forget it,” he said in disgust. Man, his friends had been right about this whole hooking up online thing. They’d tried to talk him out of it, but all Brian had been seeing was a summer traveling through Canada with a hot chick. Instead of lots of sex and partying, after this ex-Marine got through with him, he’d be lucky if all of his body parts were intact.
Brian brought the Blazer to a complete stop, his entire body shaking. The Explorer angled in front of him, preventing a forward escape. With a sigh, Brian shifted into park, and then turned toward Misty—the beautiful, sexy Miss T.
The beautiful, sexy, under-aged, Miss T, he mentally corrected. “Wouldn’t you know I’d hook up with jailbait.”
She glared at him. “So it didn’t work out. Stop whining. Vince isn’t going to do anything to you.”
“Oh yeah?” Brian sure hoped that was true. “So, what was this, just a little joy ride for you?”
“What it was is none of your business.” Once again she looked away, out the side window.
Brian stared at her for a second, kicking himself for being such an idiot, then he stepped out of the car. As he looked toward the Explorer, he wondered if he should act angry—after all, Misty had duped him. Or guilty—because he should have known she was under-age.
The other car door began to open, and Brian called out, “Listen, man, I had no idea she was—” He broke off as the man straightened and faced him. He almost laughed when he saw the bear mask . . .
Then he saw the gun.
////////////////////////////////

Acclaimed novelist Maris Soule is a two time RITA finalist who has won numerous awards for her novels over the last three decades. Born and raised in California, Maris majored in art at U.C. Davis and taught art for 8 years before retiring to raise a family. Maris and her husband divide their time between Michigan and Florida. Echoes of Terror is her 30th book.  Visit Maris Soule online at: www.marissoule.com

Monday, March 20, 2017

Sealed Up: Interview with Steve Dunn Hanson



I've lived in places that grew me . . . from a small Idaho farm town, a run-down neighborhood in St. Louis, and a middle-class southern California community, to Sydney, Australia, and Bucharest, Romania. My experiences are as varied as the places I've lived. I have a hopper full of "reality" including being a volunteer jail chaplain and flying with a U.S. presidential candidate in his small plane when an engine conked out. And all of this is fodder for my writing.

My latest book is the action/adventure/suspense novel, Sealed Up.

Website & Social Links

WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK


About the Book:

 

UCLA anthropologist Nathan Hill, in a funk since his young wife’s death, learns of staggering millennia-old chronicles sealed up somewhere in a Mesoamerica cliff. This bombshell rocks him out of his gloom, and he leads a clandestine expedition to uncover them. What are they? Who put them
there? No one knows. But, self-absorbed televangelist Brother Luke, who funds the expedition, thinks he does. If he’s right, his power-hunger will have off-the-charts gratification.
Striking Audra Chang joins Nathan in his pursuit and brings her own shocking secret. As they struggle through a literal jungle of puzzles and dead ends, she finds herself falling in love with Nathan. Her secret, though, may make that a non-starter.
When a shaman with a thirst for human sacrifice, and a murderous Mexican drug lord with a mysterious connection to Brother Luke emerge, the expedition appears doomed. Yet Nathan is convinced that fate—or something—demands these inscrutable chronicles be unearthed.
And if they are . . . what shattering disruption will they unleash?
Intricately layered and remarkably researched, this enthralling suspense-driven and thought provoking tour de force begs a startling question: Could it happen?

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

Amazon


Q: Welcome to The Writer's Life!  Now that your book has been published, we’d love to find out more about the process.  Can we begin by having you take us at the beginning?  Where did you come up with the idea to write your book?

The actual idea for my novel, Sealed Up, came to me some seven or eight years ago, and it has been five years in the writing. Much of this time was spent in research. I wanted every aspect of it to be completely authentic. Where did I come up with the idea? Actually, to say anything about that would be to give away too much of the plot and the conclusion. I will say, it has the potential to be controversial in the vein of The DaVinci Code.

Q: How hard was it to write a book like this and do you have any tips that you could pass on which would make the journey easier for other writers?

I’m not sure I could say anything that would make the journey easier for anyone. A willingness to work hard, be disciplined, and patient with yourself are all keys. Oh yes, and constantly seek objective input and read, read, read!

Q: Who is your publisher and how did you find them or did you self-publish?

Sealed Up, is self-published. I probably would have gone traditional if I could have found an agent that fit. As it turns out, I went the right way. I’ve learned a ton in the process, and my book is doing very well. The downside is the time it is taking to do everything myself. That’s slowed the writing of my next book in the series, but that’s okay.

Q: Is there anything that surprised you about getting your first book published?

I guess my big surprise was seeing it place in the top 100 Amazon Kindle books sold just two months after it was released and also designated an Amazon Best Seller. As optimistic as I tried to be, that was a shock!

Q: What other books (if any) are you working on and when will they be published?

Sealed Up is the first of three books in The Course of Fate series. I am looking to publish the second book, The Council, by the end of 2017, beginning of 2018.

Q: What’s one fact about your book that would surprise people?

I don’t believe anyone has written a novel about this topic before. Certainly not with its startling conclusion.

Q: Finally, what message (if any) are you trying to get across with your book?

One way or another and at some future time, I believe that what I have portrayed fictionally, will, in fact, happen. Prescient? I guess we'll see. 

Q: Thank you again for this interview!  Do you have any final words?

Thank you for interviewing! Enjoy the book.



Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Book Feature: Miracle Man by William R. Leibowitz & Giveaway!

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We invite you to William R. Leibowitz's MIRACLE MAN Blog Tour! Miracle Man is awarded PUYB Top Thriller Pick and is having a fantastic giveaway with 10 ways to win! Leave a comment at the bottom of this blog, fill out the Rafflecopter form below and you could win one autographed copy of Miracle Man, one of 5 e-copies or one of 4 pens! Winners will be announced on May 31. Only 18 years of age or older may enter.  Good luck!
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Title: MIRACLE MAN
Author: William Leibowitz
Publisher: Manifesto Media Group
Pages: 385
Genre: Thriller

REVERED     REVILED      REMARKABLE

The victim of an unspeakable crime, an infant rises to become a new type of superhero.  Unlike any that have come before him, he is not a fanciful creation of animators, he is real. 

So begins the saga of Robert James Austin, the greatest genius in human history.  But where did his extraordinary intelligence come from?

As agents of corporate greed vie with rabid anti-Western radicals to destroy him, an obsessive government leader launches a bizarre covert mission to exploit his intellect.  Yet Austin’s greatest fear is not of this world.

Aided by two exceptional women, one of whom will become his unlikely lover, Austin struggles against abandonment and betrayal.  But the forces that oppose him are more powerful than even he can understand.

Miracle Man was named by Amazon as one of the Top 100 Novels of 2015, an Amazon Top 10 thriller, an Amazon bestseller and an Amazon NY Times bestseller.  

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble


Book Excerpt:


A tall figure wearing a black-hooded slicker walked quickly through the night carrying a large garbage bag. His pale face was wet with rain. He had picked a deserted part of town. Old warehouse buildings were being gutted so they could be converted into apartments for non-existent buyers. There were no stores, no restaurants and no people.
“Who’d wanna live in this shit place?” he muttered to himself. Even the nice neighborhoods of this dismal city had more “For Sale” signs than you could count.
He was disgusted with himself and disgusted with her, but they were too young to be burdened. Life was already hard enough. He shook his head incredulously. She had been so damn sexy, funny, full of life. Why the hell couldn’t she leave well enough alone? She should have had some control.
He wanted to scream-out down the ugly street, “It’s her fucking fault that I’m in the rain in this crap neighborhood trying to evade the police.”
But he knew he hadn’t tried to slow her down either. He kept giving her the drugs and she kept getting kinkier and kinkier and more dependent on him and that’s how he liked it. She was adventurous and creative beyond her years. Freaky and bizarre. He had been enthralled, amazed. The higher she got, the wilder she was. Nothing was out of bounds. Everything was in the game.
And so, they went farther and farther out there. Together. With the help of the chemicals. They were co-conspirators, co-sponsors of their mutual dissipation. How far they had traveled without ever leaving their cruddy little city. They were so far ahead of all the other kids.
He squinted, and his mind reeled. He tried to remember in what month of their senior year in high school the drugs became more important to her than he was. And in what month did her face start looking so tired, her complexion prefacing the ravages to follow, her breath becoming foul as her teeth and gums deteriorated. And in what month did her need for the drugs outstrip his and her cash resources.
He stopped walking and raised his hooded head to the sky so that the rain would pelt him full-on in the face. He was hoping that somehow this would make him feel absolved. It didn’t. He shuddered as he clutched the shiny black bag, the increasingly cold wet wind blowing hard against him. He didn’t even want to try to figure out how many guys she had sex with for the drugs.
The puddle-ridden deserted street had three large dumpsters on it. One was almost empty. It seemed huge and metallic and didn’t appeal to him. The second was two-thirds full. He peered into it, but was repulsed by the odor, and he was pretty sure he saw the quick moving figures of rodents foraging in the mess. The third was piled above the brim with construction debris.
Holding the plastic bag, he climbed up on the rusty lip of the third dumpster. Stretching forward, he placed the bag on top of some large garbage bags which were just a few feet inside of the dumpster’s rim. As he climbed down, his body looked bent and crooked and his face was ashen. Tears streamed down his cheeks and bounced off his hands. He barely could annunciate, “Please forgive me,” as he shuffled away, head bowed and snot dripping from his nose.



  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • Ten winners will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive prizes.
  • This giveaway ends midnight May 31.
Good luck everyone!

ENTER TO WIN!

 
a Rafflecopter giveaway


About the Author

William Leibowitz has been practicing entertainment/media law in New York City for a number of years.  He has represented numerous renowned creative people and many leading intellectual property companies.  William has a Bachelor of Science degree from New York University (magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa) and a law degree from Columbia University.  He lives in the village of Quogue, New York with his wife, Alexandria, and dog, George.

William wrote Miracle Man because of its humanistic and spiritual messages and because he feels that in our current times--when meritless celebrity has eclipsed accomplishment and the only heroes are those based on comic books, the world needs a real hero--and that, of course, is Robert James Austin, the protagonist in Miracle Man.

WEBSITE & SOCIAL LINKS:

WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK

  This tour is brought to you by


Monday, March 13, 2017

Book of the Week & Interview: The Lord of the Infield Flies by Steve Reilly


Title: THE LORD OF THE INFIELD FLIES
Author: Steve Reilly
Publisher: Strong Books
Pages: 126
Genre: Sports Memoir

The Lord of the Infield Flies will thrill readers with Coach Steve Reilly’s harrowing, challenging, and adventuresome baseball team’s trek from Connecticut to play in Maine. As a prequel to his award winning memoir, The Fat Lady Never Sings, Reilly, a high school baseball coach, narrates the true story from the beginning of his coaching career at the age of 20. In summer 1977, Reilly plans to take his high-school-age team on a weekend trip to the baseball mecca on Cape Cod to play a Massachusetts all-star team. When plans go awry, he jumps at an offer to take the players instead to the serene surroundings of southern Maine to play that state’s all-star team. Most of the team’s starters decline; their hearts had been set on “The Cape.” Determined to go through with his commitment, Reilly gathers ten players to make the four-hour trip in a cabin truck and his car on a Friday night. Will the team arrive in time to battle Maine’s best the following morning?

After his legal alcohol-age players convince him to stop at a package store on the way to buy just a “few beers” for the idyllic cabin they will be staying at in the resort area of Old Orchard Beach, they exit the package store with hand trucks filled with cases of beer. Chaos reigns. The cabin truck with its inebriated players gets separated from Reilly’s vehicle, losing half the team traveling in the opposite direction in Massachusetts! Will the team ever get to Maine? Will the team play Maine’s all-stars? And, will the players make it back to Connecticut?  

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

Amazon


Book Excerpt:

March 25, 2005

T
HE PEARL WHITE DOOR opened before me. A gaunt man wearing a gray pin-striped suit and goatee held the door open with his left hand and gestured with his right hand for me to enter. As I passed through the door, nervousness came over me. The strong scent of roses reminded me where I was. A pedestal sign directed me to go left. After an elderly couple crossed my path with their heads down, another pedestal sign directed me to the right down a narrow hallway. To my surprise, the hallway was empty. At the end of the hallway stood a wooden pedestal with a gold banker’s lamp lit above an open book. I grasped the pen from the slot carved in the pedestal and signed the book like a schoolboy as I made sure my penmanship was within the lines. I picked up a small card from a slot in back of the pedestal and put it in the pocket of my dress shirt; there would be plenty of time to read the poem later. With no one in front of me, I stood alongside the doorway as if waiting for permission to enter, but none was needed. As I stood in the doorway about to enter the quiet room, I thought about the summer of 1977 and my Senior Babe Ruth baseball team’s trip to Maine the last weekend of July.


About the Author

Since 1976, Steve Reilly, a practicing attorney, has coached high school baseball in Connecticut’s Lower Naugatuck Valley. He has spent the last thirty years assisting other high school coaches and is currently in his seventeenth season at Seymour High. Reilly and his wife, Suzanne, live in Seymour, Connecticut.

His latest book is the sports memoir, The Lord of the Infield Flies.     

Website & Social Links:

Interview:

Q: Welcome to the Writers Life! Now that your book has been published, we’d love to find out more about the process. Can we begin by having you take us at the beginning? Where did you come up with the idea to write your book?

Well, this is the second sports memoir that I have published. I wanted to write my first book before I turned fifty years old and decided to write a memoir about a high school baseball team in Derby, Connecticut I was involved with in 1992. It was a story of redemption for some football players who allowed a long streak of successful football seasons to end. Most of the players on the baseball team also played on the high school’s football team. Despite being much maligned in football, the same players won a state baseball championship in extra innings after erasing a two-run deficit with two outs in the final inning of regulation play. The book, The Fat Lady Never Sings, was published in 2006.

The first team I coached was a high school age Summer baseball team in Derby when I was twenty years old.  In my second year of coaching the team, most of my players had played in the Spring on Derby High’s 1977 state championship baseball team. After The Fat Lady Never Sings was published, some of the players on my summer of 1977 team wondered why I had not written about them. Last year, one of my players on the 1977 summer team met with an untimely death. He was the second of my players on that 1977 team to pass away at a relatively young age. I wrote The Lord of the Infield Flies in large part to keep the memory of those unique players alive as well as to assist a scholarship fund created in memory of one of the deceased players with a local community foundation called the Valley Community Foundation. All sales proceeds, not just profits, received from sales of the book are going to the fund.

Q. How hard was it to write a book like this and do you have any tips that you can pass on which would make the journey easier for other writers?

It was at times difficult because of the fact I was writing about two of my prior players who had passed at relatively young ages. But it also allowed me to recall some very fond memories about a unique group of players.   

Since this is now my second memoir, I think have reached the stage where I can provide some hints to individuals thinking about writing a memoir to make their journey easier. Here are seven:
Firstly, if you are new to this, before choosing which way to go read everything you can about the publishing process including mainstream publishing, what is sometimes called assisted self publishing or vanity publishing, and self publishing. The internet is filled with articles and videos of what it’s all about. But, before engaging anyone to assist you with any of this, check out websites such as “Writers Beware” and “Preditors and Editors” to find out who isn’t reputable. Read current and back issues of magazines such as “The Writer” and “Writers Digest” for all kinds of hints and advice. Your local public library usually carries one or the other. 

Secondly, the best advice I think I got from an editor of my first book was to keep in mind when you are writing the first line of any paragraph or page, “Why should anybody care?” That mindset keeps your focus on the reader and your story and not on yourself. With that mindset you will be thinking about whether or not there is any tension created by your writing or your story or your descriptions of your characters.

Thirdly, a memoir is not an autobiography, so narrow your focus.

Fourth, get an editor. If you desire to make your writing of publishable quality, there is no substitute. Get one you can work with and make contact with. Assisted self-publishing companies can provide you with editing services for a charge, but they will likely not let you make direct contact with who they choose to hire. Many editors will provide you with an edit of your first chapter or a few pages. Once you see what they do, you will agree you need one. 
     
Fifth, create interesting dialogue and lots of it. Readers like dialogue. My first editor hounded me to add more dialogue after reading each of my drafts. It reminded me of Christopher Walken’s “more cowbell” skit on Saturday Night Live! However, if you are writing a memoir be careful of what you are writing. Don’t just make things up that never happened or you could run into trouble as James Fray did.  

Sixth, if you are self-publishing, engage the assistance of a professional cover designer. One that will make your cover stand out. I recommend Damonza.com as they do excellent work and are very responsive to your needs and desires.  

Seven, whether you are self publishing or not, unless you are a celebrity you will be doing the marketing yourself. No matter how good you think your book is, it won’t sell itself. Get your hands on the book “1001 Ways to Market Your Books” by John Kremer or Brian Jud’s book “How to Get Real Money Selling Books.” It will open your eyes up as to what others are doing to sell books.
       
 Q. Who is your publisher and how did you find them or did you self publish?

The Publisher is Strong Books, a small publishing company based in Avon, Connecticut. I found them from my association with the Connecticut Authors and Publisher’s Association(CAPA). The founder of CAPA, Brian Jud, a nationally known book marketer is associated with Strong Books.
  
Q. Is there anything that surprised you about getting your first book published?

Yes. That it took longer to edit the book than it took to write the first draft and how hard it was to market the book. I learned quickly that someone may very well have a desire to read your book but getting them to buy it is another matter. 

Q. What other books (if any) are you working on and when will they be published? 

I am thinking about writing a third memoir but this time it may not be about my coaching experiences. I am also thinking about jumping into the fiction arena, maybe legal mysteries. Everybody loves a mystery don’t they?    

Q. What’s one fact about your book that would surprise people?

I think the fact that I am donating all the proceeds of the book to a scholarship fund named after a character in the book.

Q. Finally, what message (if any) are you trying to get across with your book?

Like one of the themes of the Lord of the Flies, where children left to their own devices might end up killing themselves, the same may be said about teenage boys. Also, sometimes you have the fondest memories of the players who are the most difficult to coach, but live their lives without fear. Their example can motivate you to do something more with your life.  

Q. Thank you again for this interview! Do you have any final words?

While writing a book can be a very daunting and frustrating task at times, it’s still worth the effort!
  

Friday, March 10, 2017

Five Cautionary Points to Ponder Before Publishing on Amazon

So, you are about to self-publish a book in e-book or print-on-demand format. It seems like a no-brainer to sign an exclusive contract with Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) and up goes your book to Amazon’s vast online audience. After all, presumably they own 60 or 70% of the e-book market. This super rich company has overall product revenues of more than $107 billion and more than 304 million active customer accounts worldwide.

Read the rest of article at AuthorLink.

Thursday, March 09, 2017

Cyber Thriller of the Month: Alan 2 by Bruce Forciea

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We invite you to Bruce Forciea's ALAN 2 Blog Tour! Please leave a comment to let Bruce know you stopped by!
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Title: ALAN 2
Author: Bruce Forciea
Publisher: Open Books
Pages: 278
Genre: Cyber-Thriller

A brilliant artificial intelligence (AI) scientist, Dr. Alan Boyd, develops a new program that integrates part of his brain with a computer’s operating system. The program, Alan 2, can anticipate a user’s needs and automatically perform many tasks. A large software company, International Microsystems (IM) desperately wants the program and tempts Dr. Boyd with huge sums of money, but when Dr. Boyd refuses their offer, IM sabotages his job, leaving him in a difficult financial situation.

Dr. Boyd turns to Alan 2 for an answer to his financial problems, and Alan 2 develops plan Alpha, which is a cyber robin hood scheme to rob from rich corporations via a credit card scam.

Alan and his girlfriend Kaitlin travel to Mexico where they live the good life funded by plan Alpha, but the FBI cybercrime division has discovered part of Alan 2’s cyber escapades, and two agents, Rachel and Stu, trace the crime through the TOR network and Bitcoin.

Alan 2 discovers the FBI is on to them and advises Alan and Kaitlin to change locations. A dramatic chase ensues taking them to St. Thomas, a cruise ship bound for Spain, and finally to Morocco. 

Will they escape detection? They will if Alan 2's Plan Beta can be implemented in time. Or is 'Plan B' something altogether different than it appears to be, something wholly sinister that will affect the entire population of the world?
Watch the trailer at YouTube!

Purchase Information:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Publisher

EXCERPT:

Bang! Bang! Bang! The flimsy apartment door rattled on its frame with every blow.
“Kaitlin, don’t even think of answering that!” Alan growled through his teeth.
Kaitlin shrugged her shoulders and moved away from the door toward the living room where Alan sat at a table full of electronics gear.
“Dr. Boyd, are you home?” shouted the voice on the other side of the door in an Indian accent. “I want to talk to you. I have a very good offer. Please, Dr. Boyd, it will only take a minute, and I think you will be quite pleased with what we have for you.”
“Go away; leave us alone,” Alan shouted. “I don’t want your offer.”
“But Dr. Boyd, we do pay very well. We are great admirers of your work.”
“I don’t care and I don’t want your money,” said Alan. “Now go away before I call the police.”
“Think about it, Dr. Boyd; I will be in touch.”
“Incessant bastards,” said Alan as his attention turned back to his work. “I’ll cherish the day they leave us alone. Kaitlin, come over here and help me with this injection.”
Alan rolled up the sleeve of his t-shirt while Kaitlin picked up the syringe containing the gadolinium contrast. She pinched an ample section of skin and plunged the syringe into his arm. The needle stung like an angry wasp, causing Alan to grimace.
“Can’t you be gentle? You’ve done enough of these by now to get the hang of it. You shouldn’t jam it in like that!”
Kaitlin rolled her eyes and shook her head. “I think I do pretty well considering I don’t have any medical training,” she said while jerking the syringe out of his arm.
“Okay, okay. Just take your position at the console.”
She sighed, plopped onto a small task chair and rolled over to a makeshift wooden table holding a desktop PC and a large high-definition monitor. She had been through this process countless times before.
Alan entered a large metallic structure in the center of the living room. The box-like structure, made of aluminum, dominated the rectangular room which was devoid of furniture. Its dull silver hue contrasted the blank walls. He closed the door and climbed into a chair that looked like it came from an early Gemini spacecraft. The stiff plastic chair, sandwiched between two large metal discs, afforded a good deal of postural support but little comfort. He sat down and slowly slid his head between the thick metal and plastic arms of a large U-shaped device. There was just enough clearance as he wriggled his head to achieve the perfect position. He pulled down on a large metallic tube suspended above him so that it surrounded his entire head. He positioned the tube so that the rectangular slit lined up with his visual axis, allowing for a line of sight to the monitor located outside of the tube. The small fMRI scanner had taken a good deal of time and money to cobble together, but it was the only way to capture the needed information from his brain.
Alan viewed Kaitlin through a small round Plexiglas window in the door and signaled with a thumbs-up to begin the scan. She waved and entered the start sequence into the keyboard, sat back, slid an unlit cigarette between her lips and picked up a copy of People Magazine. He pushed his head back against the headrest and adjusted the monitor suspended on a boom so he could see the screen. The machine first hummed as it powered up and then made periodic knocking sounds.
Alan focused his attention on the monitor while the scanner began its first sequence. The monitor displayed a series of images designed to evoke emotions. Each image popped onto the screen and persisted for ten seconds before another replaced it. There was a small child holding hands with his father, a mother holding a baby, a couple admiring their child in a crib, and many more. All the images had been chosen to trigger emotional responses, causing changes in blood flow to certain areas of Alan’s brain. An image would appear for a few seconds and then the machine would complete a scan.  The process repeated until all one hundred twenty-seven images had been displayed. The entire cycle then repeated two more times with random sequences of the same set of images.
This would be the final scan involving diffusion tensor imaging of Alan’s frontal lobes. Previous scans had involved the study of responses to a variety of topics. In addition to emotions such as sadness, joy, anxiety, and fear, there were cognitive studies that examined Alan’s problem solving techniques as well as his reaction to global events. In all, there were over one hundred fifty scans taken over the past two years. 


About the Author

Bruce Forciea is known for taking complex scientific concepts and making them easy to understand through engaging stories and simple explanations. He is an Amazon Best Selling Author and author of several books on healing and biology, along with science fiction thriller novels. His fiction writing draws on a diverse and eclectic background that includes touring and performing with a professional show, designing digital circuits, treating thousands of patients, and teaching. His stories include complex plots with unexpected twists and turns, quirky characters, and a reality very similar to our own. Dr. Forciea lives in Wisconsin and loves writing during the solitude of the long Northern winters. 

Website & Social Links:

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Wednesday, March 08, 2017

The Writing Life with Harley Mazuk

Harley Mazuk was born in Cleveland, and majored in English literature at Hiram College in Ohio, and Elphinstone College, Bombay U. Harley worked as a record salesman (vinyl) and later served the U.S. Government in Information Technology and in communications, where he honed his writing style as an editor and content provider for official web sites.
Retired now, he likes to write pulp fiction, mostly private eye stories, several of which have appeared in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine. His first full length novel, White with Fish, Red with Murder, was released Feb. 28 of this year, by Driven Press.
Harley’s other passions are reading, his wife Anastasia, their two children, peace, running, Italian cars, and California wine. 

What’s inside the mind of a mystery author?
Murder most foul. I lean toward noir stories, so lying dames, corrupt souls with depraved sensibilities, double-crosses, nefarious schemes.

What is so great about being an author?
I could tell you it’s the recognition and celebrity, the big bucks pouring in, the glamorous women who are just dying to meet you, but so far, I’ve kept my anonymity, I’m still living on my pension, and my wife is the only glamorous woman I need in my life. Better than those things, being an author is a sort of freedom to live in my imagination, to share my ideas with others, and to create. I create characters, scenes, plots. I imagine snappy dialogue and exciting car chases. On the dark side, I can kill with impunity characters who deserve it.

When do you hate it?
I could get back to you on that if it ever happens. But in the spirit of a good interview, I’d say the hardest times are when I’m beginning a new project. I may be struggling for an idea to write about. Or if I have the idea, there may be a competition going on inside me—do I try to outline this idea, follow it through to the end, so that I know where I’m going with it? Or do I write the scene that has excited me about the idea, or create that character who’s captured my imagination. And if I start to write, how do I begin? What will that great and true first line be?

What is a regular writing day like for you?
I am usually out of bed by 6:45. This comes from nine years of delivering the morning paper as a boy. In the summer, I go out to run after my morning coffee. In the winter, I have a good breakfast first, then run a few hours later when it’s warmer. Either way after my run I sit down at my computer. I used to think I was a morning writer, but now I generally piddle away some time first on e-mail or Facebook. But when I’m writing, I don’t quit for the day until I’ve written about 500 words. Five hundred words may not seem like much, but you’d be surprised. If you have a regular writing habit and turn out 500 words a day, you’ll have a 75,000-word manuscript in six months. I’m not always composing new material—sometimes I’m revising or editing. But I’m disciplined, and if I’m not going for a word count, I try to put in two to four hours of honest work, after I get the piddling out of my system. 

Do you think authors have big egos? Do you?
Who, moi? Well, I don’t know about the big ego concept, but I do think that a well-written, published piece of writing can be a boost to one’s ego. I know it helps my self-esteem and self-confidence when a publisher accepts my work. It’s also easy for an author to become self-centered. Writing is a solitary occupation, and you need to devote time to it, so you come to jealousy guard your writing time.
Do I have a big ego? No. And if I ever grew one, all I’d need to do is compare my accomplishments to other writers.

How do you handle negative reviews?
This has not yet become an existential problem for me. I’m too new at this. I have had negative critiques in workshops and critique groups. I try to learn what I can from them. First, I make certain I understand what the reviewer is trying to say about my writing. I take notes; I ask him or her to repeat things I’m not clear on. Then I throw my chair at his head. (Just kidding.)

How do you handle positive reviews?
These give me great pleasure. As above with negative feedback, I try to make certain I’m clear on what the person liked or from what perspective the review is coming. And positive reviews give me the confidence to stretch out my writing, to try new things, to go out of my comfort zone.

What is the usual response when you tell a new acquaintance that you’re an author?
Generally it’s basic stuff—they might ask what I’ve written, or what sort of writing I do. Some people might say, “Where can I get your book?”

What do you do on those days you don’t feel like writing? Do you force it or take a break?
For the sake of discipline, it’s good to sit there and try to grind it out. You may fail, but I’ve had times where I piddle about and get nothing for the first few hours, and then with an hour to go, the writing, the ideas start to flow. If you write every day, you build that discipline, and discipline is a self-fulfilling habit.

Any writing quirks?
Not really. I’m pretty straightforward. I prefer writing on a word processor, but if I’m away from my computer, I can write longhand in a notebook. I like serif fonts on the computer, blue ink with a medium point in a notebook. Are those quirks?

What would you do if people around you didn’t take your writing seriously or see it as a hobby?
There are some different ways to interpret that question. Take it seriously like, well, your work is not like Flaubert’s or Tolstoy’s, is it? You don’t discuss the great themes, with beautiful words. That would be OK with me. I didn’t set out to write Madame Bovary or War and Peace. Or they might not take it seriously because I didn’t score a big advance, and I’m not driving a Lamborghini. That’s OK too. I’ve come this far and I’d like commercial success, but even if I don’t achieve that, writing is still fun for me. I write for my pleasure—like I run for pleasure.

Some authors seem to have a love-hate relationship to writing. Can you relate? 
I guess I should relate as I’ve heard this idea expressed before. But I don’t see it that way. Writing well is difficult. There are setbacks, and there is re-work. There are certainly days that are more difficult than others, days that are disappointing, where you know what you’ve written just isn’t that good. But I still love it.

Do you think success as an author must be linked to money?
No, but . . . I have the luxury of not needing more money. I heard an author’s talk one night. He received what I considered a great advance, $100,000 for his book. But then he told us that in the income bracket he and his wife were in, that was about $60,000 after taxes. The publisher paid him 1/3 when he signed ($20,000). He received another third a year later when the novel came out, and the last third another year later when the paperback was released. It would be difficult to live on $20,000 a year. Yet I thought of that man as a success. I think he felt he had what he needed, and was living the life he wanted.

What had writing taught you?
I remember my first agent giving up, and despairing at the set back. Would I ever get this first novel published? A writer (and bartender) far wiser than I said, “Whatever happens, you’ve achieved things 98 percent of writers never achieve. You’ve had an agent, and you’re a published author.” (I’d sold two or three short stories by that time.) That made me realize that I was a good enough writer that some people liked my work—an agent, an editor. Maybe others would too.  

Leave us with some words of wisdom.
Another writer told me “The difference between published authors and unpublished authors is perseverance. Keep at it.” In writing this applies on so many levels—keep writing, keep trying to learn your craft and improve, keep pitching your work to agents and publisher. Continue even in the face of difficulty or if you see little or no prospect of success. It might be just around the corner. Persevere.

Also, be nice. As you advance your career, it’s more important to be kind to people, than to be talented.

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Title: White with Fish, Red with Murder
Genre: Mystery, (private eye)
Author: Harley Mazuk
Publisher: Driven Press, http://www.drivenpress.net/
Find out more on Amazon

About the Book: Set against the backdrop of San Francisco and nearby wine country in 1948, White with Fish, Red with Murder is the story of Frank Swiver, a private eye in a love triangle. Frank accepts an invitation to a wine tasting on a private rail car steaming north as part of the night rattler to Seattle. He brings along his secretary and lover, Vera Peregrino. The host, General Thursby, wants Frank to find proof that a friend whose death was ruled accidental was in fact murdered. Thursby suspects Cicilia O’Callaghan, widow of his late friend and an old flame of Frank’s. But Thursby takes two slugs through the pump, and the cops arrest Vera for his killing. Frank spends his nights with Cici, and his days trying to find Thursby’s real killer and spring Vera. But when his affair with Cici turns poisonous, he realizes he must change his thinking, or risk losing both women . . . and maybe his life.