Book launch day: Wired Rogue

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By Toby Neal

It’s launch day for the second Paradise Crime novel, featuring FBI Special Agent Sophie Ang—and you can win an electronic copy. Enjoy this excerpt, then enter the draw by leaving a comment.

wired-rouge-text-usa-today-high-resChapter 1

Children shouldn’t be treated like slaves. Anger tightened Special Agent Sophie Ang’s hands as she adjusted the binoculars a little more to focus in on ten kids of various ages, bent over in a water-filled patch of land planted in the deep green, heart-shaped leaves of the Hawaiian kalo. They wore bathing suits and palm frond hats as they worked in the hot sun, an adult supervising from the shade of a nearby palm tree.

Taro farming was backbreaking work, and it looked like the Society of Light cult was using their smallest members to work with the submerged tubers, a staple of the Hawaiian diet. Sophie’s partner in the operation, Ken Yamada, shifted restlessly beside her in the camouflage surveillance tent on a rise of ground across the river from the compound. “Ten is more children than we were told about,” he murmured.

“We have to locate the two targets,” Sophie said, for the benefit of their SAC, Waxman, monitoring through their comms. “Can’t identify the children positively yet.” The homemade hats hid the red blond hair the children’s mother had told the agents to look for. Sophie widened her scan, and took in the rest of the cult’s property.

A high wooden wall provided cover and security for the compound deep in the Waipio Valley on Hawaii. Surrounding their location were the vast, steep, green-jungled walls of the largest, deepest valley on the Big Island. Rising to breathless heights, bisected by a giant waterfall at the end, Waipio was a beautiful and untamed place where wild horses roamed and people lived as they had a hundred years ago. Midday sun overhead increased steamy humidity, and gnats and mosquitoes buzzed over the FBI’s pop-up cover in a noxious cloud. Coconut palms and tropical trees broke up a sweep of pastureland before the compound, dotted with livestock grazing beside the wide, jade-green river.

The site seemed to have been chosen for maximum defensibility. Set deep in a valley that was accessible only through a single steep one-lane road, the complex was walled in wood and topped with razor wire. From their vantage point, they could look down into the grounds. Yurts were clustered like chicks around the hen of a big, metal, barn-like structure, probably where the cult met as a group. Its functions would be revealed as their surveillance progressed. “See any armaments?” Sophie whispered.

“Yeah. Nine o’clock. Sniper tower disguised as a tree,” Yamada said.

Sophie’s earbud crackled with their Special Agent in Charge’s cool voice. “Get me eyes.”

“Roger that, sir.” Sophie turned and opened a plastic case. She took out the small, high-powered video camera with its instant wireless streaming abilities. The reverse camera showed Sophie’s image as she screwed the camera onto a tripod and aimed it at the area Ken had identified. Her golden skin looked sallow in the little square, her large brown eyes haunted—but at least her cropped hair was too short to be any different than usual. Sophie applied her eye to the viewfinder and adjusted the high-powered lens.

A small platform, camouflaged with branches, was built into the tall avocado tree in the far corner of the compound. A man wearing green camo gear sat in the lookout, a rifle resting on the narrow parapet around the nest.

“Seems pretty extreme. Why would a peaceful cult out in the boondocks of this valley need to be walled and guarded with firepower?” Ken said.

“And yet here we are, surveilling them,” Sophie muttered.

“Right. Just because you’re paranoid, it doesn’t mean they aren’t watching you.”

About Wired Rogue

“Neal’s writing is persistently riveting… Masterly.” — Kirkus Reviews
Paradise has no protection from an insidious cult.
“Wired in” to her computers, MMA-fighting tech agent Sophie Ang has been content in her clean, cool tech lab, where she chases criminals online, continuing a dance in the dark with the enigmatic vigilante known as the Ghost. Tumultuous changes from without and within eject her from her agency cocoon to the front lines, where she finds herself in partnership with a brilliant, overbearing, larger-than-life ex-Special Forces operative, Jake Dunn. They climb walls, dodge bullets, kidnap children and dig up bodies for a case that might cost her life—and has already taken her badge.

“Toby Neal has created a wonderfully rounded action heroine with everything: looks, brains, mixed martial arts prowess, and the ability to swear proficiently in Thai and English. Fans will love Sophie Ang, as well as the tangled web she must negotiate in the tropical setting of Hawaii.”
— Russell Blake, NYT and USA Today Bestselling Author

Get it on Amazon and other e-tailers today.

How you can win a free copy

Just leave a comment about the new book, the Paradise Crime series or what you like about mystery-thrillers. Author Toby Neal will select one at random on November 30.

About the author

Toby Neal

Toby Neal was raised on Kauai in Hawai’i and makes the Islands home after living elsewhere for “stretches of exile” to pursue education. Toby enjoys outdoor activities including bodyboarding, scuba diving, photography and hiking as well as writing. A mental health therapist, Toby credits that career with adding depth to the characters in the Lei Crime Series.

Visit her:

And follow her on Twitter @tobywneal.

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Happy New Year 2016

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happy-new-year-2016Happy New Year to all readers and writers!

2015 was an incredibly productive year for BestSelling Reads authors, with dozens of new titles published and new members joining.

2016 is going to be even better—especially for readers. We’re going to have lots of giveaways of e-books and other valuable prizes, new authors and chances to chat with your favorite writers.

Stay tuned and keep reading!

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Focus Friday: Torn Roots

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A Lei Crime World novella
TornRootsBadge

By Scott Bury

Pono recognized a thin older Hawaiian woman standing to one side of the protesters, her long gray hair reaching down her back. So old Sophia Keahi is keeping an eye on this, he thought. It figures she’d be against off-island money developing the shoreline.

Facing the protesters were what Sam assumed were the developers: a slender Asian man in a light gray suit and tie, and Tyler Lopes, the man who had brought the complaint into the Hana Sheriff’s station.

And in the middle of it, a tall, slim woman stood on the concrete form that would one day be a wharf for luxury yachts. Her shoulder-length blond hair had been styled so that it would wave in the on-shore breeze, while setting off her blazing blue eyes. She drew her lips into thin lines as she screamed at the men in front of her. “This is a fragile ecosystem! There is no justification for building a luxury marina, a playground for trust fund babies. And the slope across the highway is a recognized national forest preserve, a site to be conserved for endangered Hawaiian flora and fauna, not for mansions for the elite! We say, stop the development and stop it now!”

“No yacht club here! No land for trust fund babies!” the other protesters chanted in unison. They’re well organized, Pono thought.

To one side were a young Asian woman dressed in a dark suit, holding a microphone in one hand and a headset to her ear with the other, and two men in KHIN-TV shirts. One, a local, held a video camera on his shoulder.

“Hey, Johnny, howzit, brah?” Pono asked the camera man in pidgin.

“Hey, Pono. Protest group doesn’t want the company to build the marina, nor the housing development up the hill, neither. Chick there like beef.” He nodded at the tall blond woman, meaning she was spoiling for a fight.

“Hello, officer,” said the young woman in the suit. If she hadn’t been wearing heels, the top of her head would have come up to the middle of Sam’s chest. “I’m Aisha Chen.”

Pono nodded at her. “Where’s Wendy?” he asked, referring to KHIN’s main reporter, Wendy Watanabe.

“This story is too minor for her, so she’s letting the intern handle it,” she replied, looking toward the protest on the shore. She bounced on her toes and slapped the microphone into her palm. “Did you get the chanting?” she asked Johnny, the cameraman. He nodded. “Okay, I’m ready.” She stepped between the camera and the shore, straightened her jacket, swept a hand through her long black hair and cleared her throat. A red light came on the front of the camera.

“This is Aisha Chen from the site of the Kipahulu Marina, where an environmental group is preventing the Halawa Construction Company from proceeding with building a wharf for luxury yachts. Led by this young woman, reportedly from Canada, the group says they will not leave until Halawa and the owners of the property, Enterprise Shore LLC, cease and desist from building in what the environmentalists say is a pristine, and fragile shoreline.” She paused, looking straight into the camera, for a count of three, then visibly relaxed. “Look okay?” she asked the cameraman. He nodded.

“How do you know she’s Canadian?” Pono asked her.

“She’s been hanging around the island for a few months, now, showing up at different meetings and so on. But I think that’s all I should tell you, Officer, until I clear it with the station’s legal department.”

“Hey, sista, no get all li’dat,” Pono said. “We don’t need to get so formal.” He turned to Sam. “Canadian. What, are you all six-footers up there in the snow?”

“She’s one hundred eighty-two centimeters tall, or five-foot-eleven-and-a-half, and I’m six-four. So, no.” Sam replied.

Pono looked at him for a few seconds, head tilted. Then he smiled, a dimple flashing under his moustache. “Six-four. Okay. Didn’t mean to cut you down, haole.”

“I was born here, remember? My Dad guys haole, but my Mom guys all Hawaiian”—his father was from off-island, but his mother was Hawaiian.

“So sensitive,” Pono said, wiggling his eyebrows.

About Torn Roots

Hawaii is known for volcanoes and sandy beaches. Beauty and danger reign.

After breaking a case of murdered poachers in Maui’s national park, Detective Pono Kaihale accepts a short-term position as Acting Lieutenant in Hana on the island’s rain-forest coast. He is looking forward to redirecting lost hikers and moderating mild lovers’ spats and enjoying the natural beauty of the southeast coast. But by his second week on the job, Pono finds trouble here comes in unexpected forms.

Environmentalists, property developers, protesters, arsonists, kidnappers, and a rogue Homeland Security agent converge on his new post, Pono feels like the eye of a brewing storm. And when a new FBI agent gets involved, Pono realizes the stakes are much higher than a quiet period in his career.

Lives will be lost if he doesn’t solve this mystery quickly.

About the author

Pic-ScottBuryScott Bury is a journalist, editor and writer living in Ottawa, Canada. His articles have been published in newspapers and magazines in Canada, the US, UK and Australia, including Macworld, the Ottawa Citizen, the Financial Post, Applied Arts and others.

He was invited to write a short book for the Lei Crime Kindle World series of Toby Neal. Torn Roots appeared in July 2015, almost the same day as another Kindle World novella, Jet – Stealth, a part of the Jet Kindle World of Russell Blake.

Scott will publish a new Lei Crime Kindle World story in time for Christmas 2015. Palm Fronds and Snowflakes will feature Vanessa Storm from Torn Roots, as well as other beloved characters from Toby Neal’s Lei Crime world.

Born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, he grew up in Thunder Bay, Ontario. He holds a BA from Carleton University’s School of Journalism. He has two sons, an orange cat and a loving wife who puts up with a lot.

Read his full bio on his BestSelling Reads Author page.

And visit his:

And follow him on Twitter @ScottTheWriter.

 

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Focus Friday: Becoming

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Becoming_coverBy Raine Thomas

“Gabriel.”

Jerking away from the railing at the sound of Amber’s voice, Gabriel  turned and saw her in the driveway. A grin pulled at his mouth despite the awkwardness of the situation. Then he noticed that she wasn’t moving and her arms were stiff at her sides. The plastic bags in her hands shook.

Instantly alert, he hurried to her side and took the bags from her. “Hey, Am. You okay?”

She took a deep breath. He couldn’t see her eyes behind her sunglasses, but he feared they were more gold than her usual brown. Like last time.

Then she whispered, “I just had a surge.”

“You mean…a surge?” His voice was equally soft and intense. They hadn’t discussed this at all in the past three years. Since the last one.

“Not a full one. Maybe a, um, prelude.”

His jaw tightening briefly, he nodded. “Okay. We’ll both be on alert. You’re okay now?”

“I think so. Yeah.”

Michelle stepped off the porch and approached them. “Trying to fit in better, loser?” she said in a snarky voice, staring at Amber. “Well it’s a little late now. Four years of high school with frizzy hair, no makeup and unpolished nails, and now this? Please.”

Taking a closer look, Gabriel realized what Michelle meant. Amber’s hair had been tamed and trimmed, and was styled around her face in a way that drew attention to her features. Her full, heart-shaped lips were coated in light pink gloss. And when he glanced at her long, lovely fingers, he saw the polish Michelle mentioned.

Feeling like an ass for not noticing, he turned to Michelle. “You need to move your car.”

With a huff of disgust, she flounced past them and climbed into her car. Then she started the engine and tore out of the driveway, almost getting creamed by a car on Highway 29 in the process. They watched her departure in silence.

“There are more bags in Mrs. B’s car,” Amber said at last. Her tone clearly indicated that she didn’t want to discuss the surge. He would certainly respect that.

“Okay.” He couldn’t seem to stop staring at her.

“Mrs. B took me to her salon after karate,” she explained. She sounded as though it had been quite a trial for her. “It was my graduation present.”

“Ah.”

“Don’t you dare laugh,” she ordered. Then she sighed, lifted her sunglasses and looked at him.

“I’m not going to laugh,” he managed, hoping he wasn’t gawking like a total dweeb. “You look—” Gorgeous. Amazing. So beautiful you make my chest hurt. “Very nice.”

“Yeah, right. Well, come on. Let’s move Mrs. B’s car and get the rest of the bags.”

“Sure.”

But rather than move, they both looked again where Michelle’s car had been. Amber lifted an eyebrow and glanced at him sideways.

“You know if we had a pet rabbit that Michelle would probably end up boiling it on our stove Fatal Attraction-style after all that, right?”

“Shut up,” he said.

About Becoming:

“Here’s a book that will rock your world, make you smile, and keep you guessing.”
—Bestselling author Chelsea Fine

Every three years, Amber Hopkins explodes. Okay, not a blown-to-smithereens explosion, but whatever it is always hurts like hell and leaves her life a shambles. She’s already worked her way through five foster placements, and she’s doing whatever she can to avoid getting blasted into a sixth.

As her eighteenth birthday approaches and she feels the strange and powerful energy building, disaster looms. When the inevitable explosion occurs, her life gets its biggest shakeup yet. She’ll not only learn how her fellow foster and best friend, Gabriel, really feels about her, but she’ll discover that she isn’t really without family.

To top it all off, she’ll finally find out why she’s having the power surges: she isn’t entirely human.

Amber must Become, transitioning to another plane of existence and risking the loss of the most important relationship she’s ever had. Her choice will impact the future of an entire race of beings, and will pit her against an enemy that will prey upon her doubt to try and take her very life.

Kind of makes the explosions now seem like a cakewalk.

Where to get Becoming

About the author

Raine Thomas Headshot (small)Raine Thomas is the award-winning author of bestselling young adult and new adult fiction. Known for character-driven stories that inspire the imagination, Raine recently signed with multiple award-winning producer Chase Chenowith of Back Fence Productions to bring her popular Daughters of Saraqael trilogy to the big screen. She’s a proud indie author who is living the dream. When she isn’t writing or glued to e-mail or social networking sites, Raine can usually be found vacationing with her husband and daughter on one of Florida’s beautiful beaches or crossing the border to visit with her Canadian friends and relatives.

Where to find Raine online:

And follow her on Twitter @Raine_Thomas.

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Focus Friday: The Maltese Pigeon

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By David Bishop

TMP-1A woman in her mid-thirties sat in a law firm in front of the largest desk she had ever seen. Across from her sat attorney William Ginsberg. She presented a California driver’s license and a passport identifying her as Catherine Martin. The firm possessed a letter and a package to be delivered to Catherine four months after the death of Alice Martin, Catherine’s grandmother.

Catherine didn’t fully understand why she was there. An assistant to Mr. Ginsberg had called to set the appointment, saying nothing beyond, “We have been your grandmother’s attorney for decades. She left certain items with us for delivery to you. Mr. Ginsberg will answer any other questions you care to ask.”

The existence and contents of the letter and the package were a mystery to Catherine. She knew her grandmother had a modest sum of money, and that Grannie had always been a very private woman living a quiet life.

“What . . . Mr. Ginsberg? I’m sorry, my mind wandered for a moment. You asked?”

“Is this address on your driver’s license still good? For our file, you understand.”

Before speaking, Catherine let her eyes track a line of ornate carving on the modesty panel of Ginsberg’s desk. “Six months before my grandmother’s death I left Sacramento to move in with her here in Long Beach. Following her death, I remained in her home. Now, I’m considering moving to a hotel or renting a little place. I don’t know how long I’ll stay in Long Beach, perhaps a few months until her affairs are in order. I’m probably being silly, but after Grannie’s death her home seemed a bit . . . creepy, I guess . . . somehow. As soon as I get settled, I’ll let you know.

“If my grandmother left a letter and package for me, why didn’t she just give them to me? I was with her almost constantly during her last six months. What’s in this package?”

“Our firm does not know the contents of either the letter or package. I just buzzed my assistant to bring them in. I was surprised when I read the obituary you had published after your grandmother passed on. I only knew her as Alice Martin, but your announcement said she was born Alena Maltisi. I confess to having done little to prepare for our chat this morning. I did make a cursory review of our archived file where I found references to the name Maltisi.”

Attorney Ginsberg swivelled his chair slightly to one side to more directly face Catherine. “When your grandmother first became a client of the firm, over thirty years ago, we helped her change her name to Alice Martin. This was done with maximum secrecy. Only the judge saw the name Maltisi and the judge ordered the file sealed. All that is very unusual, I’ve never known of such an occurrence for a name change. In any event, your publishing of her obituary again brought the name Maltisi out into the open.”

“My grandmother was born in Russia. My mother and I were born on the island country of Malta where my great, great grandmother took for us the name Maltisi. When I was an infant my grandmother brought us to the United States. My grandmother always loved the name Maltisi. I often asked why we didn’t use that name in America. She would only say that one day I would understand. Beyond that, she insisted I refer to myself as Catherine Martin without reference to the name Maltisi or our life before coming to America. Long ago, I stopped asking further about the name Maltisi. When she died at age ninety, I felt it appropriate to include the name she loved in the announcements of her death. May I ask, when did Grannie . . . ah, my grandmother, give you this letter and package?”

“Thirty years ago, on your fifth birthday. I wasn’t with the firm then. The partner who originally set up the file has died. I took over your grandmother’s account ten years ago. There’s no current legal matter under contest, never has been. Our purpose today is simply to identify you and deliver the letter and package. Your grandmother and I met once each year to review and, if she wished, to amend her instructions. She paid all our fees and for all our time including carrying out her instructions today. You’ll owe us nothing unless you retain us to provide further services. With her death, our responsibility was limited to making this delivery.”

“Did I ever come here with my grandmother?”

“Perhaps as a child, I wouldn’t know. Over the ten years since I joined the firm, I don’t believe so. I can’t be certain beyond you were never here in my office where I met with your grandmother. Don’t you recall whether or not you came during any of those earlier years?”

“Not at the moment. My mother died when I was very young. I attended several boarding schools and spent summers with either my grandmother or my aunt, Natasha. If I came here it would have been during one of those summers. It’s possible, even likely, at the time I didn’t consider it important enough to remember. Forgive what that implies. It would be my immaturity that would cause that thought. If we did meet, please don’t think me rude for not recalling.”

“I understand these are not easy times.”

A light knock on the door preceded a woman’s entry. She moved gracefully across the thick carpeting, stopping at the side of Ginsberg’s desk. Her eyes were framed in mascara, her lids brushed with a faint blue. She leaned in far enough to set a small box in front of her employer. On top of the box she balanced a sealed, somewhat yellowed envelope. She stood erect, nodded slightly, said nothing, smiled at Catherine, and left. The door closed without a sound. Mr. Ginsberg pushed the box and envelope toward Catherine, just far enough to symbolize “these are for you.” He picked up the single sheet of paper Catherine had noticed at the center of his old-fashioned desk blotter when she entered.

“You’ll need to sign this.” He held the paper in his extended hand. “It’s a receipt for your grandmother’s letter and the box. I will then sign at the bottom confirming. You’ll be given a copy.”

“May I read her letter first?”

Ginsberg inclined his head and held it lowered for a moment, followed by a perfunctory smile. “Please, take the time and do it now. It may generate other questions you wish to ask. I say again, neither I nor anyone at this firm has read that letter.”

Catherine tore open the aged envelope, steadied her forearms against the chair, and began to read her grandmother’s handwritten letter. When she finished she found the envelope also contained a timeline that joined many of the events of her family’s history with that of Russia in general and the Imperial Romanov family in particular.

About The Maltese Pigeon

A shy, mysterious woman and a shadowy fat man put Matt Kile in the middle of Russian Romanov history, danger, murder, and enormous wealth.

All while Matt spars with two romantically competitive women.

About the author

DavidBishopDavid Bishop stuck his author nose under the edge of the mystery tent with his first novel in October 2011. Since then his mysteries have maintained a constant presence on Amazon Best Selling Lists in multiple categories of mystery novels. He has also been listed numerous times among the 100 best selling authors of mysteries, including appearances among the top 10.

He writes several character series :

  • Matt Kile Mysteries (in the order of release): Who Murdered Garson Talmadge, The Original Alibi, Money & Murder, and Find My Little Sister
  • Maddie Richards Mysteries (in order of release): The Beholder and Death of a Bankster
  • Jack McCall Mysteries (in order of release): The Third Coincidence and The Blackmail Club.

The stories within these series are independent, not continuing. They can be read in any order.

Visit David Bishop’s

And follow him on Twitter @DavidBishop7.

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Focus Friday: The Drone Wars

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Book 3 of The Drone Wars Series

By Frederick Lee Brooke

w2_NdsXzY1KowkK100IieFO3Q1_KMtLjS2d-OvLynNo[1]As O.C. backed out of the space, the three agents burst out of the restaurant. Their Eliminator streaked ahead and hovered, staying ten feet in front of the windshield. Matt saw a pistol in the lead agent’s hand, then saw the others drawing as they ran after them. They were flicking off their safeties. His nightmare was unfolding as reality. He wanted to rip off the bandage, but that drone was getting a read on all of them now. This was outstripping his innermost fears. What the hell was the world coming to?

“Homeland Security, stop your vehicle or we’ll shoot.” The voice came out of the Eliminator, amplified to megaphone. It must have been audible across the road.

Matt was surprised when O.C. slammed on the brakes. They stopped in the middle of the lot, fifty feet beyond the lead agent. Maybe Sander had signaled it, or maybe O.C. decided on his own. Maybe they would have shredded the tires with bullets anyway if they’d made a run for it. The agents ran up on the left side and fanned out in an arc.

When O.C. rolled down his window, Matt did the same. Matt’s window stopped halfway, some child safety regulation, but halfway was enough. Had there been a camera in the restaurant? Luke had said most stores and restaurants had cameras linked directly to Homeland Security.

“Otis Curtis from up in Dalton, that correct?” the lead agent demanded in the same southern drawl O.C. had. The agent spoke in his own voice now, not using the drone. He stood twenty feet away and gripped a nine-millimeter pistol in two hands, a pro. That was how fast their facial recognition worked. Or maybe they had linked to O.C. through the vehicle registration.

“That’s me. Who’s asking?”

“Homeland Security, jackass. We’re most interested in Matt Carney, but we’re going to bring in you other folks for aiding and abetting. I want everybody out of the truck, and real easy.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” O.C. said.

“I said out of the truck!” the agent screamed.

The agent was still bellowing, eyes shut for a fraction of a second, when a bullet exploded in the middle of his forehead. Time slowed down. Matt saw blood pouring out. The agent staggered backward, his eyes losing focus.

Just as quickly, the second agent froze up like a brick wall and fell to the ground. The third agent was zigzagging towards them in a crouch as O.C.’s shots went high. The angle was bad. In one smooth motion, Matt brought up his slingshot and fired. Aiming was as close to instinctive as nine years of practice could make it. The ball bearing hit just north of the bridge of the agent’s nose, shattering bone and digging a crater in his brain, instantly ending motor functions.

Raine was screaming, covering her eyes. The fallen men were still visibly pumping blood as O.C. hit the gas, and tossed his weapon in Sander’s direction. A huge, long-barreled pistol. Sander caught it by the barrel and instantly dropped it in his lap. Sander blew on his burnt fingers, at the same time scanning right and left for additional threats.

Hitting the street on two wheels, O.C. swerved to the right without braking. He headed south without letting the pedal up. The whining old truck engine was almost as loud as Raine’s screams.

About The Drone Wars

Matt Carney has nailed every mission underground guerilla organization March22 has given him, beating the odds time after time. But when he gets his new assignment, he quickly sees his chances of success dwindling to zero.

“Find the man,” they tell him. Except the man he is supposed to find is at the top of Homeland Security’s Most Wanted list, an expert at escape and deception.

“Stop the man,” they tell him. Except the man he’s supposed to stop is plotting the murder of millions of Americans in a sociopathic quest for a new social order.

…and this man, the one they want him to find and stop, is his own father.

Malls, airports and factories erupt in pillars of fire, thousands die, and cities teeter on the brink of collapse as Matt and his twin brother, Luke, fight to stop a man on an apocalyptic quest to obtain the final piece of his deranged puzzle—a piece that will allow him to put into motion his plans for the complete annihilation of the United States.

120,000 dead. Entire cities devastated. The country a hair’s breadth from a fate worse than death. Can Matt and Luke stop this nightmare before the world as they know it comes to a devastating end?

Get it from Amazon.

About the author

fredbrookeFrederick Lee Brooke launched the Annie Ogden Mystery Series in 2011 with Doing Max Vinyl and followed with Zombie Candy in 2012, a book that is neither about zombies nor sweets. The third mystery in the series, Collateral Damage, appeared in 2013. Saving Raine, the first book in Fred’s entirely new series, The Drone Wars, appeared in December, 2013.

A resident of Switzerland, Fred has worked as a teacher, language school manager and school owner. He has three boys and two cats and recently had to learn how to operate both washing machine and dryer. He makes frequent trips back to his native Chicago.

When not writing or doing the washing, Fred can be found walking along the banks of the Rhine River, sitting in a local cafe, or visiting all the local pubs in search of his lost umbrella.

Visit his

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Focus Friday: Strings of Glass

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StringsofGlassShadedBy Emily Kimelman

The road crumbled under my feet as I ran up it. There is no road surface strong enough to resist the pull back to dirt in this climate. In Goa, Mother Nature rules.

Blue touched my thigh with his nose, a gentle tap to remind me he was there. Thick jungle lined our path. This hill had the fewest homes on our route. No neighbors to wave a hello to or children to smile at as they raced by on bikes either too large or too small for them. There was just me, Blue, the burst of vegetation, and this road of rocks. I reached the top of the hill, my thighs and calves burned. Panting, I struggled to keep my pace.

A low growl narrowed my attention onto a black and white street dog in the brush. Ears flat to her head she curled her lips and showed us her teeth. Noting the swollen teats hanging low and exposed, I kept moving.  “I’m not going to bother you, mama,” I said in a steady voice. “We are just passing by.”

Blue slowed and when I patted my thigh for him to catch up he stopped. I turned to look back at him, my senses on high alert. Blue was a mutt the height of a Great Dane with the coat of a wolf and the long snout of a Collie, with one blue eye and one brown. Blue has saved my life more than once so when he stopped, so did I. 

I recognized a twitch on his lip and saw the hackles raise off his shoulders and back making him appear even larger. A deep and rumbling growl left his chest. It was answered behind me. There were suddenly three dogs in our path. None as big or strong as Blue but together they looked dangerous.

I’d been warned about this pack. Growing larger by the day, it was led by an aggressive alpha male the color of dirty water. This must be him, I thought, as the largest of the three, his head wide, fur the muddy brown of an engorged river, growled at Blue. The compactness of his body spoke of strength and survival. When he barked the saliva that shot from his mouth caught a ray of sunlight streaming through the thick foliage around us.

Muddy Water stepped forward, revving his growl like a teenager on a motorbike. The bitch in the brush flanked our left side and when I turned right, two young dogs, their ears still soft from puppyhood, glowered at me.

Get Strings of Glass on Amazon.

About Strings of Glass

Sydney Rye is hanging out in India with her boyfriend, Dan, reading paperbacks and sipping beer. No violence and no reminders of her past. But when she and her great dog Blue are attacked by a pack of wild dogs, Sydney starts to feel that old itch again—to do good by being bad.

Trouble finds Rye when she stops the attempted rape and murder of Anita, a reporter working on a story of corruption and child trafficking. The atrocities Anita describes send Sydney, Blue and Dan on a quest that takes them across India after a dangerous and, up until now, untouchable, figure. Sydney struggles to accept her true nature, fearing that she will lose herself, becoming no better than the monster she fights against. But what can Sydney do when she realizes it is the only way to end decades of abuse and exploitation?

Emily Kimelman’s best selling Sydney Rye series feature a strong female protagonist and her canine best friend, Blue. It is recommended for the 18+ who enjoy some violence, don’t mind dirty language, and are up for a dash of sex. Not to mention an awesome mystery with tons of action that will keep you reading late into the night!

About Emily Kimelman

Emily (author photo)Emily Kimelman is the author of the best selling Sydney Rye Series including Unleashed, Death in the Dark, Insatiable, Strings of Glass, The Devil’s Breath and Inviting Fire. This series feature a strong female protagonist and her canine best friend, Blue. It is recommended for the 18+ who enjoy some violence, don’t mind dirty language, and are up for a dash of sex. Not to mention an awesome, rollicking good mystery!

Emily splits her time between the Hudson Valley and traveling the world with her husband and dog, Kinsey (named after Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Milhone), researching exciting locations for the Sydney Rye Series. You can follow along on their adventures through Instagram, Facebook, and on Emily’s blog.

The first book in the Sydney Rye series, Unleashed, is available as a free download on all major ebook retailers.

Emily can be found:

Website   |   Facebook    |   Twitter

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Focus Friday: The Author Platform – A Beginner’s Guide

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On Sale for 99 cents today!

The Authors Platform ShadedAuthors, creating buzz for your book and your career just got easier.
The Author’s Platform will help you create, understand, and use a powerful author platform to sell your books.

Social Media and WordPress Consultant Barb Drozdowich will steer you through the technology behind book marketing without all the confusing techno-speak. She has helped many authors build an author platform that engages readers and builds sales.
This book will help you decode the mystery behind building a powerful author brand and navigating the social media platforms essential to publishing success.

The Author’s Platform teaches you why you need the various facets of the author platform to build visibility. Barb uses a simple analogy, Operation Book, to help you understand the steps to successful book marketing in the media age.

She covers:
– The difference between a website and a blog
– The important items your blog should contain
– The eleven essential social media platforms
– Newsletters
– Amazon’s Author Central
– …and many more topics!
˃˃˃ Start your journey to publishing success today!

The Author’s Platform: A Beginner’s Guide can be purchased from Amazon

*****

BarbDrozdowichPicSmallerSocial Media and WordPress Consultant Barb Drozdowich has taught in colleges, universities and in the banking industry. More recently, she brings her 15+ years of teaching experience and a deep love of books to help authors develop the social media platform needed to succeed in today’s fast evolving publishing world. She owns Bakerview Consulting and manages the popular blog, Sugarbeat’s Books, where she talks about Romance – mostly Regency.

She is the author of 6 books and 25 YouTube videos all focused on helping authors and bloggers. Barb lives in the mountains of British Columbia with her family.

Barb can be found:

Author Website  |    Business Blog  |   Facebook Author Page

Twitter  |    Google+   |   Pinterest   |   Goodreads 

YouTube Channel

Tech Hints Newsletter

*   *   *

Excerpt:

What is an author platform? As the name suggests, your platform is the launch site for all marketing activities. Book buying is a relationship activity, and you need a means to develop relationships with readers and new fans of your work. Since the Internet has brought the world to your doorstep, the process may prove easier than you think.

Do authors need an author platform? I believe they do. Many books have been written on the subject of selling books. Bookshelves, both physical and virtual, are littered with different points of view. Everyone claims they can help you sell a million copies.

What books do you know that have sold a million copies? Are they all examples of great literature? Are the authors in line to win a Pulitzer Prize? No? Then why does a particular book sell so many copies? In many cases, the book simply catches a wave of attention.

Name a book that is hugely popular and you’ve found a book built on relationships. Think about it: the majority of the time, we buy books based on a suggestion from a friend or another trusted source, or we purchase due to word-of-mouth praise or media publicity. You either wanted to see what all the fuss was about or considered reading it to see if it was really that bad!

If you are an indie author, or simply a new author, you need to create buzz about your book. I often refer to the creation and marketing tasks as “Operation Book.” Just think of Operation Book as a strategy game—the authors who learn to play this game the best will sell the highest number of books. Is it really that simple? It can be.

Once you understand the rules, you will play the game like a master. Operation Book works differently for different types of books. However, each book requires:

 

  • Readers
  • Fans
  • Methods of communication

 

You’ll notice I didn’t mention great cover art, flawless formatting, the absence of spelling mistakes or other mandatory elements of good publishing. Miss any of these elements and it can count as points against you in Operation Book. But we all know of books that have these issues yet still sell lots of copies. For our purposes, we’ll focus on how to use the author platform as a method of marketing and communication or, in other words, Operation Book.

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Focus Friday: Once Upon a [Stolen] Time

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By Samreen Ahsan

OneUponAStolenTimeShe is standing in my courtyard. Everything in nature surrounds her—hugs her and is dazzled by her…including me.

Beautiful flowers of every hue and aroma are grown in this majestic garden. My eyes are burning; I’m simultaneously overwhelmed and awed by the colorful oasis. Never have I been so close to nature, to growing things. Her alchemy drives me mad.

She’s gifted me with all the colors, but I painted her with darkness.

As much as I crave feeling the sunlight and the flowers against my skin, I want her touch too. I am cursed and doomed to never experience the beauty of the natural world, for all eternity.

She watches me with extreme hatred in her eyes—her gaze throwing fireballs at me. She doesn’t know I’m already burning, but since she despises me so much, I can’t even dare to come close to her. I want to end this tortuous distance between us—but I was the one who created this hatred in her.

She was a beautiful tender rose—I stole her fragrance, crushed her petals and burned her in hell. If I knew the fire with which I was conflagrating her would come to engulf me—I swear I wouldn’t have done it. Her spell is too strong for me not to fall; her curse is too mighty for me to run away.

Her deadly yet magical existence haunts me, excites me and has thrown me into a pit of deep lust. She is my prisoner, but she doesn’t realize that I’m the one who’s already submitted to her slavery, when I first touched her.

Despite being her captor, I am still her captive.

About Once Upon a [Stolen] Time

All her life, Myra Farrow has been obsessed with medieval castles—and the kings and princes who once inhabited them. Now, wealthy videogame designer Steve Bernard wants her to model for a princess character in his new game. Myra can’t resist his offer, especially when she learns that Steve plans to film inside the mysterious Hue Castle—a cursed, barren, colorless place forbidden to visitors for centuries. But unknown to Myra, her soul is bound to Hue Castle by blood and sorcery. When she enters its doors, she awakens dark powers that will reach through time—stealing her past, torturing her present, and rewriting her future.

1415…

Edward Hue, the last of the Hue royal bloodline, has never stood in the sunshine or held a living flower. Cursed from birth to live in darkness and bring death to all he touches, he is at the mercy of his cruel, tyrannical father, who will not rest until he shatters Edward’s soul and makes his son into a diabolical copy of himself. Edward’s one hope is the mysterious woman who haunts his dreams—who will either break his curse and bring him out of the darkness, or destroy him utterly.

For Myra and Edward, past and future collide in a tale of love, obsession, betrayal, and the hope for redemption.

Once Upon a [Stolen] Time publishes on December 1, 2015.

About the author

samreen-ahsanHistory, art and literature are Samreen Ahsan’s passions. She loves digging out information about prophecies, divine miracles and paranormal events that are mentioned in history and holy books, but don’t sound possible in today’s modern world.

She has been into reading and writing since childhood — it cannot happen without imagination, which luckily has no boundaries. Dance and music are also pastimes she enjoys, as well as reading romance fiction. I love to travel and explore historical cities.

Samreen Ahsan lives in Toronto, Canada. A Prayer Series, incorporating A Silent Prayer and A Prayer Heeded, was her first story about paranormal events based on Islamic concepts. Her new work, Once Upon a [Stolen] Time, is her third published novel.

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Friday Focus: Ghosts of a Beach Town in Winter

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Beachtown-1000px2

by Kathleen Valentine

(Five digital copies of this book will be given to people who leave a comment.)

The day of the party, while Darby decorates the Pub with orange and black crepe paper streamers and bunches of cornstalks, his friends hold a pumpkin-carving contest down on the beach leaving a mess for the gulls to squabble over. I brew up gallons of spiced cider to serve laced with rum and make up little treats—candies in black net bundles tied with orange ribbons. The pumpkins are hilarious and, with a candle in each, they make festive decorations for the party.

I tease my hair into a seventies-style mass, stroke on gobs of black mascara, and shimmy into my fabulous dress. It fits as though it’s made for me. Looking at myself in the mirror I think I was born in the wrong era. I would have made one heck of a Disco Queen.

I have no idea how many people attend, I’m too busy fixing drinks and trying not to fall off my platform heels. The Geezers all arrive, each of them wearing Groucho Marx-type glasses with an attached nose and mustache, but otherwise dressed as usual. Each of them tell me how beautiful I look. Joel escapes to his writing room at the first opportunity.

It is Turtle who first notices the new reveler when he enters. He nudges Norb, Riley, and Geezer #1, whose name I have learned, is Clay. They all turn and stare for a minute then swivel back around to their drinks.

“Asshole,” Norb mutters.

Even without the half mask covering his eyes, I doubt I would recognize the new guest. At first I think he is the horny roustabout from a few weeks back, but when he gets closer I realize that, though he is tall, the width of his chest, shoulders and arms are the result of padding, not muscles. His head is shaved and his face is further obscured by a huge handlebar mustache that is waxed to points on either end. He wears a tight-fitting, long-sleeved shirt that has tattoos drawn on the sleeves in magic marker. Over it is a muscle shirt with “The Great Hercules” stenciled across it. In one hand he carries a dumbbell made of foam. A few people laugh and he joins one of the tables near the jukebox. He clearly belongs to the bungalow crowd.

“What’s the matter?” I ask as I place a fresh whiskey in front of Turtle.

He shakes his head. “Nothing. Dumb kid probably saw one of the posters in the arcade and copied it. Probably don’t know nothing about it. No harm done.”

Norb snorts and raises his glass but says nothing.

“Was The Great Hercules a local?” I ask.

Riley reaches across the bar and pats my hand. “It was a long-time ago, honey bunch, long before you was born. Don’t pay these guys no mind.”

I wait for more but no one says a word as customers line up for drinks.

By midnight the crowd is fully inebriated and I’m afraid they’re going to stay all night. When I ring the bell for last call Darby—whose hair is dyed red and is wearing a painter’s smock, a straw hat with one side of his head bandaged, and carrying a painting of a sunflower—jumps up and begins cleaning up the tables and bar.

“Drink up,” he says as he passes the last cocktails, “everybody out. It’s All Saints Day tomorrow, I know you don’t want to miss Mass.”

Darby always makes me laugh.

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About Ghosts of a Beach Town in Winter:

Psychological horror / suspense / ghost story – When Layla’s professor husband has an opportunity to spend the winter at an old motel in a seaside amusement park resort, she reluctantly agrees to run the pub attached to it while he works on his book. The arcades, food stands, souvenir shops and tattoo parlors are boarded over for the winter but the bungalows tucked in the dunes are occupied by artists and transients looking for cheap rentals. She faces a long, cold, lonely winter but a bunch of old guys she calls The Geezers soon begin regaling her with stories about the “old days” and about an ill-fated romance between the beautiful wife of a Boston mob boss and The Great Hercules, a sideshow strongman. She is also increasingly fascinated by an elusive roustabout who flirts with her and shows her the secret spaces in an old beachfront ballroom. As winter gets darker and deeper Layla’s husband is both struggling with his writing and becoming suspicious of her behavior. What Layla doesn’t know is that nothing is what it seems and her options are growing fewer every day.

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About the Author

KV-300pxKathleen Valentine is the award-winning author of four novels, many novellas & short stories, books of knitting patterns, & a cookbook/memoir about growing up Pennsylvania Dutch. She has been listed as an Amazon Top Selling Author in Horror and in Mystery/Suspense. As a writer her primary interest is delving into the psychology of her characters. Her stories are sometimes mysterious, sometimes funny, usually romantic, and frequently frightening. Her characters range from lost children and grumpy old folks, to mysterious men and women who are not to be trifled with. She lives in Gloucester, Massachusetts, America’s oldest seaport.

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