EXCERPT: OCEAN OF FEAR by Helen Hanson ~ ONLY 99¢ until 8/5/13

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By six-thirty a.m., Baxter Cruise lounged at the corner table of Whitney’s coffee bar, wiping away a frothy milk moustache with his sleeve. He swirled the dregs of a Cappuccino in the ceramic mug while a gangly freshman tried to make time with the surfer-girl barista. She was clearly uninterested. The young man’s frustration passed for entertainment while Baxter waited for Professor Sydney Mantis. Syd usually sent their client’s pitch-list via email, but today, he’d sent a text from a new phone demanding face-time.

Instead of wasting a precious morning, Baxter should’ve blasted another 225,000 emails or let his ratware scrape more addresses from the geezer forums. Either action would have netted him enough cash to cover the cost of the java and maybe some additional credits at UC Santa Cruz. Unlike the rest of the losers, he didn’t plan to get stuck with any student loans to repay.

His fingertips hit the tabletop in rhythmic succession. He should have brought his laptop. Where the hell was Sydney? Didn’t he know? Time was money, man. Time was money.

A smiling coed in a UC-logo sweatshirt opened the front door for an elderly couple shuffling at the pace of the old woman’s walker. When Sydney Mantis jockeyed around all three of them to enter first, the young woman’s mouth dropped to a scowl.

Sydney hadn’t even thanked her for holding the door. His usual easy charm seemed under pressure. Wearing a Baja hoodie and aviator sunglasses, he looked like the Unabomber.

“Bax, thank God you’re still here.” Syd withdrew a shaking hand from the pouch pocket and tossed a flash drive onto Baxter’s lap. “I need you to take this to Dr. Bisch. She’ll be in the office by the time you get there. But don’t leave it on her desk.” His gaze ricocheted around the room, his voice lowering to a near whisper. “Make sure you hand it to her personally. I need to leave town for a few days.”

Baxter retrieved the flash drive from the folds around his crotch. “What about our new client?”

But Sydney’s attention fixed outside.homepage-photo

A man in harmony with the ‘60s, he dialed to mellow even if it required herbal assistance. Baxter figured he was one toke over his usual line.

“I can’t stay here.” For the first time since arriving, Sydney pulled off his sunglasses to make eye contact. “Will you take care of Gertrude for me?” A thick vein throbbed at his neck, muscles twitched across his face, and his pupils dilated to ripe-olive proportions.

Sydney didn’t look stoned. Simply terrified.

“Trudy?” Baxter always liked Sydney’s Border collie. Sure, I’ll watch her for you.” Baxter didn’t know what else to say.

“Thanks, man.” Sydney wiped an eye. “I’ve got to go.” He put on his sunglasses and returned to the dull gray of the morning fog.

Baxter stared at the front door as if it might open to a parallel universe. The good professor taught computer engineering, not theater arts. And while he tilted dramatic, this performance was worthy of a nomination. Ever since Baxter joined his gig nearly five years ago, Sydney’s feet routinely got frostbite, especially lately. But he always found something to return him to calm—usually a bong, a warm hippie chick, or both.

But something had Syd rattled. Perhaps the pitches for the new email campaign contained sensitive stuff. Sure, they were spammers, but they didn’t run just any email pitch. Baxter maintained strict standards: Viagra. Yes. Online Casinos. Yes. Girls from Russia. No. His girlfriend, Natalie, wouldn’t let him keep one anyway. Their butler robot offered enough contention. Baxter squeezed the flash drive in his fist.

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EXCERPT: 3 LIES by Helen Hanson

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Cover-380wThe water bead on her chest slalomed south to join the others on the black-diamond run to her groin. Beth Sutton wrapped the thick towel around her dripping hair. Both hung to her hip. As she stepped onto the bath mat, the arterial catheter bounced off her inner thigh muscle. She wiped down the rest of her body and draped the towel on the rack.

Clint left her house at eleven the night before with a promise to return for breakfast before their fishing trip. Another evening absorbed in unguarded conversation. Their two months together passed with an easy contentment.

She should have dialyzed last night, but she’d fallen asleep too soon, cocooned in fading dreams, down, and enchantment. The evening proved too satisfying to interrupt for blood filtering. He’d offered to help. Again.

Maybe he could really handle it. Maybe not. Maybe she wasn’t ready to test him.

A knock came from her door as she dressed.

Six-fifteen. He was early.

Once-over in the mirror-pink sweats and a thermal shirt sufficed for cooking breakfast.

Omelets. Everybody liked omelets.

She hustled to the door. The deadbolt resisted. “Give me one second.” The lock popped. She threw the door open with a flourishing smile. “Good morn-”

Her chest inflated with fear. A stocky man wearing a blue ski mask shoved her inside. He covered her mouth before a scream loosened. A piece of paper dropped from his hand. Footsteps fell behind her. She struggled, but she couldn’t escape his grip. A sharp jab pierced her bottom.homepage-photo

Her pulse staggered. A needle.  Oh dear, God.

Dreaminess surged. Her focus failed.

Clint was coming. He’d stop them.

Maybe Clint would prefer waffles.

Last night was lovely.

~ ~ ~

According to Paige Masters, Clint’s almost ex-wife, he never noticed anything. But the white Chevy van pulling out of Beth’s road caught his attention. At least the sound of the V-8 engine rumbling under the hood did. Between a full-size and a mini, that van never left the factory boasting anything larger than a V-6. Dull and gutless by reputation, the piece of junk couldn’t get jacked during a riot.

A throaty roar from the vehicle broke his expectation like a Swedish accent from the lips of a black man. While the kiddies tried to give the illusion of raw power under the hood without the trouble of an actual engine swap, this van camouflaged its strength with exhaust silencers. Sporting rear-wheel drive and a torquey V-8, that homely white box could spank a Mustang in a quarter mile.

Don’t say he didn’t notice anything. Hell yes, he noticed.

Clint parked his black pickup on the main street of Clement, Massachusetts but stayed in the cab to finish his coffee while the seaside burg enjoyed the remaining minutes of slumber. He preferred walking down to Beth’s house so his black lab, Louie, could sniff the flora on the way. Beth’s road was nearly half a mile long and ran mostly downhill on a headland. It led to four houses and a winery. Each home occupied five wooded acres; and the winery, fifty. If Clint drove down to her house without letting Louie romp, then for the duration of their visit, the young dog would whimper, paw the floor, and sulk.

Clint had heard the van coming before it emerged from the patchy fog a car length away. Two swarthy men stayed behind blue-mirrored sunglasses and Red Sox ball caps as they crested the hill. Probably a delivery to the winery. In spite of not knowing these men, Clint waved.

The men either didn’t see him or weren’t up for friendly this early. Neither waved back. The van’s rear tires spun, searching for a hold in the loose gravel. It lurched onto the roadway, staying long enough for Clint to see a dirty patch of bumper sticker glue in the shape of Australia that adorned the back door. Virginia plates. It roared off toward the highway through the dissipating mist.

A beautiful day barely underway. What’s the rush? Smell the flowers. Will ya?

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3 LIES is a Top 100 Kindle Bestselling that hit the # 1 Technothrillers

For news from Helen Hanson, sign up for her monthly newsletter here:  Helen’s Website

Purchase a copy of 3 LIES here:  iBooks  ~ Amazon US  ~  Amazon UK  ~  Paperback  ~  Barnes & Noble

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Judging a Book by Its Cover by Douglas Dorow

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The old saying goes, “You can’t judge a book by its cover”

Authors don’t like that saying. We want readers to judge a book by its cover. We believe you can judge a book by its cover, and we spend time, energy and money to create a cover that reflects the story we’ve written and delivered in our books.

When you browse the racks in a bookstore or online, what gets you to sample a book or buy it? You see the cover, the genre it’s filed under, maybe look at the blurb. That’s all you’ve got. The cover needs to convey the essence of the story, the tone, the genre. The cover needs to make you want to learn more about it, open it, sample it, buy it and read it.

Here are some samples of book covers and blurbs for a few BestSellingReads authors from different genres. Do they work, get your attention, make you want to read more? You be the judge.

Douglas Dorow – THE NINTH DISTRICT

The Federal Reserve has never been robbed. 

FBI Special Agent Jack Miller, pulled into a high-profile case to mentor a new agent, finds himself in a clash with the toughest opponent of his career. The chase culminates in the bowels of the city, in the storm sewers and tunnels beneath The Ninth District Federal Reserve of Minneapolis.

(Book Bub) Suspense, intrigue, and dazzling plot twists power this tale of an FBI special agent and rookie investigator racing through the darkest layers of Minneapolis to chase a sinister Federal Reserve robber.

When I first published The Ninth District, I hired a cover designer -Carl Graves- and he came up with this cover.

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It was well received. People really liked it. Then I wanted to publish it in Spanish and I had to use a different cover designer. I worked with Ares Jun and he came up with this one.


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To me, this one captured the story better than the first and I re-released the English version with this cover as well. Do you agree?

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Cover artist: Ares Jun

Shannon Mayer – SUNDERED

They were promised weight loss, the cure for Cancer, Parkinson’s Disease and infertility; they were promised hope.

The side effects were anything but hopeful.

Mara and Sebastian are young, in love and newlyweds.Far too soon, they will face tests to their love that most others won’t survive. Their bond strengthens with each loss, destruction and unbearable race against time.  In each other, they find the will and hope to endure.  Hand in hand, they will face the darkening of humanity with strength and integrity and an undeniable spirit to survive; together.

“Sundered is a story that will steal a piece of your heart as you cheer for both Mara and Sebastian in this unconventional love story.  It is a story of love, hope, faith and the strength to carry on after the dark times come.”  -Reviewer

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Cover by  Damon Za at www.damonza.com

Jesi Lea Ryan – ARCADIA’S GIFT

Most people who experience death don’t live to tell about it.

When sixteen year old Arcadia “Cady” Day wakes in a hospital after experiencing what can only be called a psychic episode, she finds her family in tatters. With her twin sister gone, her dad moved out, her mom’s spiralingdepression and her sister’s boyfriend, Cane, barely able to look at her, the only bright spot in her life is Bryan Sullivan, the new guy in school. When Bryan’s around, Cady can almost pretend she’s a regular girl, living a regular life; when he’s not, she’s wracked with wild, inexplicable mood swings. As her home life crumbles and her emotional control slips away, Cady begins to suspect that her first psychic episode was just the beginning…

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Cover by Phatpuppy Art.  http://phatpuppyart.com/

Helen Hanson – 3 LIES

#1 Technothriller on Kindle – # 67 in Kindle – Top 100 Paid BestSeller

At CIA headquarters, a young officer discovers that terrorists may have commandeered their computer systems to launch an unauthorized mission. Elsewhere, conspirators abduct nine people to manipulate the rules of their game. Two disparate ambitions — Clint Masters becomes the reluctant link in the chain of danger.

Ever since Clint’s almost ex-wife dumped him, he bobs along the Massachusetts coast in a sailboat with his black lab for company. He avoids all forms of technology, a counter intuitive effort for the burned-out founder of CatSat Laboratories. Tired of clutching the brass ring, he needed to untether, step off the corporate treadmill, and smell a flower. Fortunately, he met one, a beautiful, unspoiled woman who doesn’t treat him like a commodity. His relationship with Beth offers more promise than his marriage ever did, even if she is on dialysis for her recovering kidneys, until she disappears.

In spite of the evidence, her family refuses to admit she’s in danger. Without routine dialysis, she won’t survive. As Clint realizes that he loves Beth, damn-near ex-wife Paige sashays back into his life with disturbing news.

While the CIA young gun tracks his quarry, Clint enlists the help of two men to find Beth, a blithe Brit named Merlin, and Todd, his playboy partner-in-tech. But Clint must find Beth before her kidneys fail. And before someone unloads a bullet in his head.

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The artist magician is George Weiss from Tekeme Studios – www.tekeme.com

Can you judge the book by its cover? We hope so!! 

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Love on Paper, by Helen Hanson

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Cover-380wI have every electronic record-keeping device known to the general public. I have phones, laptops, electronic voice recorder, but nothing compares to the power of paper. Of all the gods in ancient Egypt, I think they overlooked this one.

I love the neatness and military corners of a fresh, crisp pad. I love the cool smooth surface that begs for the wet of your ink. I love the way the pages scrape across my thumb when I flip from the first sheet to the very last.

The touch of paper is a sensual pleasure.

My affinity for writing trade tools are without a specific beginning. A new box of Crayolas® still elicits excitement though I never much cared to color. The earthy wax smell, the theater-style seating, each chiseled point ready to brighten the dullest of pages.

bicI love pens from the humble Bic Cristal® to a weighty 18K gold-nibbed Mont Blanc®. I strive never to be without one somewhere within my ready grasp. I’d rather my wallet go missing.

My sister and I shared many a tingle in the office supply section of stores. The choices today overwhelm my senses: binders in pink and stripes, paisley folders, or clips shaped like a treble clef. Disneyland holds no greater sway.

I joined the professional ranks at the brink of office civilization. Yes, the PC was out, but I mean something else. The work of two geniuses from 3M coalesced to bring the world (cue angelic chorus) :

post itThe Post-it®

Now, my life was complete. Ideas and self-reminders ebbed and flowed on the tides of my life. In the shower and no soap? A quick note. Forgot to schedule a meeting? A quick note. A blistering new plot for my novel? Well, you get the idea.

I had a friendly, cream-yellow pad by my nightstand, outside the shower, in the kitchen, in the car, in my bike pack, by every phone, and on the coffee table. I often found these square jewels – now in many bright and attractive colors – firmly appended somewhere on my person. Cleaning my office became a ritual of collecting the notes from their various attachments, then meting the vital information contained on my beloved sticky notes to more permanent quarters, their final act of service.

Some people feel this way about manual typewriters. Computers can’t edge out the love of a trusted Underwood®. I mb1understand.

Technology can’t replace the joy in obliterating a nagging To Do item off a list with a Sharpie®. That baby is gone, permanently. I have evidence. Tangible results of my efforts are far more satisfactory than electrons merely gone missing.

My son and I are going to the museum for the King Tut exhibit. Maybe we’ll find some hidden glyph about the unknown god of papyrus. If so, we should call him ThreeEm.

______

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me

Bestselling Kindle author Helen Hanson writes thrillers about desperate people with a high-tech bent.  Hackers.  The CIA. Industry titans.  Guys on sailboats.  Mobsters. Their personal maelstroms pit them against unrelenting forces willing to kill.  Throughout the journey, they try to find some truth, a little humor, and their humanity — from either end of the trigger.

While Helen writes about the power hungry, she genuinely mistrusts anyone who wants to rule the world.

Helen directed operations for high-tech manufacturers of semiconductors, video games, software, and computers. Her reluctant education behind the Redwood Curtain culminated in a B.S. in Business Administration with concentrated studies in Computer Science.  She also learned to play a mean game of hacky sack.

She is a licensed private pilot with a ticket for single-engine aircraft.  Helen and her husband spent their first anniversary with their flight instructor studying for the FAA practical. If you were a passenger on a 737 trying to land at SJC in 1995, she sends her most sincere apologies.  Really.

Born in fly-over country, Helen has lived on both coasts, near both borders, and at several locations in between. She lettered in tennis, worked as a machinist, and saw the Clash at the San Francisco Civic Auditorium sometime in the eighties.  She currently lives amid the bricks of Texas with her husband, son, a dog that composes music with squeaky toys, and another that’s too lazy to bother.

If you enjoy her books, please consider writing a review.  If you don’t, please be kind.

Helen Hanson would love to hear from you on FacebookTwitter, or at her Website.

 Post reprinted from HelenHanson.com

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Life’s Ebbs and Flows, by Helen Hanson

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DARKPOOL6X8I tripped over to my husband’s office last week.  We live and work and school within the same walls, so the journey was short. In my office, books occupy the tables, the futon, and nearly all horizontal and vertical surfaces.  Lights are full-on for prime paper-pushing efficiency.  Here in this function-first, Shui-second environment, I manage our home, answer ceaseless tenth grade questions from our son, and write kindle bestsellers.

My office reeks of production.

By stark contrast, my husband’s office has the nuanced ambiance of a new-age day spa.  Chill music gently vibrates, thumps, or sways as a muted backdrop to the cerebrally fertile grounds.  What lighting is allowed, casts an even hue, permitting the eyes to relax in a trance-like state, conducive to a stream-of-consciousness level of technological Zen.

His wafts the sweet scent of R&D.

There was a time when his was the grunt-end of our operation, back when he created our original product offering, and I was crafting my first novel.  Then, mine was the clear desk.  But the years roll on and nature abhors a vacuum.  The disparity of our operating environs has once again reached equilibrium.  His low-pressure zone has just been filled with a small CNC milling machine. Small, yes, but it sounds like a broken tractor.

He’s welcome to visit the new sea of tranquility, at any time.  As long as he remembers to bring the hot river rocks.

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me

Bestselling Kindle author Helen Hanson writes thrillers about desperate people with a high-tech bent.  Hackers.  The CIA. Industry titans.  Guys on sailboats.  Mobsters. Their personal maelstroms pit them against unrelenting forces willing to kill.  Throughout the journey, they try to find some truth, a little humor, and their humanity — from either end of the trigger.

While Helen writes about the power hungry, she genuinely mistrusts anyone who wants to rule the world.

Helen directed operations for high-tech manufacturers of semiconductors, video games, software, and computers. Her reluctant education behind the Redwood Curtain culminated in a B.S. in Business Administration with concentrated studies in Computer Science.  She also learned to play a mean game of hacky sack.

She is a licensed private pilot with a ticket for single-engine aircraft.  Helen and her husband spent their first anniversary with their flight instructor studying for the FAA practical. If you were a passenger on a 737 trying to land at SJC in 1995, she sends her most sincere apologies.  Really.

Born in fly-over country, Helen has lived on both coasts, near both borders, and at several locations in between. She lettered in tennis, worked as a machinist, and saw the Clash at the San Francisco Civic Auditorium sometime in the eighties.  She currently lives amid the bricks of Texas with her husband, son, a dog that composes music with squeaky toys, and another that’s too lazy to bother.

If you enjoy her books, please consider writing a review.  If you don’t, please be kind.

Helen Hanson would love to hear from you on FacebookTwitter, or at her Website.

 

 

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My House Needs Vacuuming ~ Always, by Helen Hanson

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BayleyWreath I made a joke on twitter about my next dog being the color of my carpet. People thought it was funny. Then I got one, and her name is Bayley. Not so funny after all. She’s a delightful dog, but being the same color of the carpet. I trip over her. A lot. And now my house has twice the dog hair.

So what if some of it matches?

We found her outside a Sam’s Club. She’d been wandering the aisles, and a worker was trying to locate her owner. She reminded me of my dog, Maela, and I stopped to ask about her breed.

Amateur.

She’s a beautiful dog with some amount of red heeler in her blood. But, no one seemed to be missing her, and the pound wouldn’t come get her. They tied her to a fence with some water.

Sweet dog.  Friendly. Inquisitive.

I didn’t make it out of the parking lot. According to my husband and P.T. Barnum, there is one born every minute.

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My other dog, Maela, is also a heeler mix, and the herder traits dominate her personality. While the dogs share some physical characteristics–they both have ears that move like signal flags–Bayley is her polar opposite. While Maela is tenacious, hyper, territorial, wiry, and vocal, Bayley is lazy, serene, communal, fluffy, and mute. When we brought Bayley home, it was over a week before she said anything, and then it was a soft Owwwoooo to get our attention.

The last thunderstorm, Maela wanted to go outside and play as half-inch hailstones pummeled the neighborhood. Bayley, however, tried to crawl in my lap and twitched as if she had the DTs. The dogs remind me of that Star Trek episode where the opposite sides of Captain Kirk’s personality are split into different people while he’s in the transporter. Maybe Maela beamed to the Enterprise while I was gone and Bayley was the result.

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But Bayley’s been good for Maela, forcing her to deal with another dog in a non-adversarial situation. Maela bit another dog’s cheek defending my son and me one day. With Bayley around, she has to share attention, tasty treats, tummy rubs, but never will she share her toys. Maela has a squeaky-toy fetish that no 12-step program could shake. She won’t abide by Bayley’s mucking about in her toy bin. That means war.  But of course, Bayley’s not interested.MPH mutss

So the dogs shed. When we vacuum, the canister needs to be emptied–repeatedly. With what we throw out, we could make a pair of shih tzus.  My sister has a shih tzu – poodle mix that I lovingly refer to as a sh*tty-poo.  No wonder she doesn’t speak to me.

I’m the animal bringer-homer in the family. My husband’s idea of pets is an aquarium. Over the years, I’ve had three cats–to which my husband was allergic–and now, five dogs. It’s been a lifelong thing, dragging home stray critters. My husband had a dream in which I brought home an Irish wolfhound. He woke up flaming ticked. Can’t blame the guy. Vacuuming is his job.

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DARKPOOL6X8Bestselling Kindle author Helen Hanson writes thrillers about desperate people with a high-tech bent.  Hackers.  The CIA. Industry titans.  Guys on sailboats.  Mobsters. Their personal maelstroms pit them against unrelenting forces willing to kill.  Throughout the journey, they try to find some truth, a little humor, and their humanity — from either end of the trigger.

While Helen writes about the power hungry, she genuinely mistrusts anyone who wants to rule the world.

Helen directed operations for high-tech manufacturers of semiconductors, video games, software, and computers. Her reluctant education behind the Redwood Curtain culminated in a B.S. in Business Administration with concentrated studies in Computer Science.  She also learned to play a mean game of hacky sack.

She is a licensed private pilot with a ticket for single-engine aircraft.  Helen and her husband spent their first anniversary with their flight instructor studying for the FAA practical. If you were a passenger on a 737 trying to land at SJC in 1995, she sends her most sincere apologies.  Really.MySmallPhoto

Born in fly-over country, Helen has lived on both coasts, near both borders, and at several locations in between. She lettered in tennis, worked as a machinist, and saw the Clash at the San Francisco Civic Auditorium sometime in the eighties.  She currently lives amid the bricks of Texas with her husband, son, a dog that composes music with squeaky toys, and another that’s too lazy to bother.

If you enjoy her books, please consider writing a review.  If you don’t, please be kind.

Helen Hanson would love to hear from you on FacebookTwitter, or at her Website.

 

Share