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Friday, 23 June 2017

‘Choke’ – by Lisa Towles

Choke

What does a missing hospital patient in San Francisco have to do with a scientific discovery on the opposite coast that could put a serious dent in pharmaceutical industry profits? It’s a mystery that crime novelist Lisa Towles draws to a riveting conclusion in her fourth full-length novel.

Kerry Stine is a nursing assistant at a San Francisco hospital who is blamed for the disappearance of a patient from the intensive care unit, while Adrian Calhoun is a scientist on the East Coast who finds himself in danger from Big Pharma operatives after developing a cancer-curing cigarette.

Choke (Rebel E Publishers) features two seemingly unrelated plot lines, relentlessly paced through multiple layers and fascinating twists before leading its unwitting heroine down a perilous path toward truth and redemption.

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ACCOLADES

“A cleverly-written, smart thriller that kept me guessing, and at times holding my breath.”
- Christine Husom, author of the Winnebago County and Snow Globe Shop series of mysteries

“This unusual thriller completely intrigued me from the first page.”
- Marilyn Meredith, best-selling author of two mystery fiction series

“Towles takes the reader on a heart-pounding journey. The unlikely intersection of their stories delivers unparalleled suspense. It’s a smart, well-written thriller that will deliver on the big screen someday as well as it does on the page.”
- Leo Bottary, author of The Power of Peers

“A cigarette that cures lung cancer? Who could be against such a concept? If you can’t figure that out, just heed the basic advice of any crime investigation—follow the money, which is what Lisa Towles has done in her magnificent story. I read this with the pleasurable company of a pack of Marlboros … smokin’ good read!”
- Les Edgerton, award-winning author of The Death of Tarpons, The Rapist, The Bitch, The Genuine, Imitation, Plastic Kidnapping and others

“Choke’s complex characters fascinated me. Its layered dilemmas – threating both individual lives and the lives of cancer victims across the world – grabbed me by the throat. Lisa Towles’ new thriller is a must-read. It kept me in suspense the whole way through – and inspired me in the process.”
- Judith Schiess Avila, NYT best-selling author of Code Talker: The First and Only Memoir by One of the Original Navajo Code Talkers of WWII

“Lively descriptions, characters, and dialogue make this a highly readable page-turner.”
- Albert Noyer, author of The Secundus Papyrus and other novels

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY AND CONTACT

Lisa Towles specializes in writing crime mysteries when not working full time in the tech industry and completing an MBA. The author of numerous short stories (under her previous name of Lisa Polisar), Towles also has contributed feature articles, columns, art reviews and book reviews for a variety of newspapers and periodicals.

An active member of Mystery Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, Sisters in Crime, and Crimespace, Towles is a New England native who earned two journalism awards from the National Press Women’s Association and the 2016 National Engaged Leader Award from the National Society of Leadership and Success.

Towles graduated from the University of Hartford’s Hartt School of Music with a Bachelor’s degree in music, majoring in flute with a minor in psychology.

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EXCERPT

In her five decades on earth, Grace Mattson had learned to pay attention to instinct. And right now hers was telling her not to touch the envelope sitting beside Neville’s note. Instead, she gazed upon it, using her powers of perception and everything Sherlock Holmes had taught her about the observation of details. The most significant of which, however, was the churning feeling in her stomach.

“You’re right to be cautious.” The female voice startled her. “I would be too.”

Grace noticed the umbrella even before seeing the woman’s face. It was a smooth, sculpted face with mistrust woven into its elegant features. “I can’t decide whether to invite you for tea or sick my Doberman on you.”

The woman blinked, revealing dark blue eyes. “I would prefer tea with an English woman than death by an invisible dog.”
Grace allowed a momentary smirk. “I don’t suppose I look like a dog-person.”

“No.”

Something about her, this woman with impeccable taste in clothes, fashionable without a hint of overstatement, and her steely voice, caused Grace’s heart to thud inside her chest. The blue eyes stared evenly, and Grace’s palms felt clammy. What was this about, and why had this woman watched her and Adrian at Atticus?

“Come in then,” Grace said finally, “we’ll have tea in the garden.” And I hope I live through the experience.

The woman followed her inside, and Grace unlocked the back door. “I’ll boil some water. Please, make yourself comfortable.” She pointed to the back yard, to a vine-covered trellis, under which sat two Adirondack chairs adorned with flowered pillows. She hated those pillows. A gift from Neville, she’d wondered if they were Neville’s way of making her more soft or feminine, somehow.

“We’re interested in your research,” the woman said after Grace came out to meet her.

“We?

“What I mean is …very interested,” the woman went on, ignoring the question. Her voice was flat, monotone, controlled, without a hint of inflection or emotion. Was she an android? A highly functioning artificial life form such as she’d seen on the SyFy channel so many times? The woman’s face looked as though it hadn’t ever cracked a smile. The skin was beyond smooth and the eyes looked hard, almost menacing. Just as the woman used her voice simply to deliver instructions, rather than the sharing of communication.

Grace fondled the sealed black envelope. “And this is to offer me a million dollars for it?”

“It’s an offer … of exchange, yes.”

“Who’s we?”

“Me and … my employers.”

“And who are you, exactly?”

The woman slowly crossed her legs. “You can call me … Beth.”

“Well, I could call you a lot of things. But that doesn’t answer my question.”

“I’ll say it again – my employers are very interested in your research.”

“What research are you talking about exactly? I’m a retired ethnobotanist, I teach gardening classes and breed rare species of plants. It’s not very exciting, I assure you.”

“Orchids. Isn’t that right?”

“Not only orchids. But yes. You want to know how I do it? Come to my greenhouse, I’ll show you.”

“We’ve been to your greenhouse.”

Grace’s palms felt slick with sweat. She took a slow sip of tea, reminding herself to breathe.

“In fact, we’ve been going there for the past six months. It’s not there.”

“Excuse me? You’ve been … what’s not there?”

For what felt like a long time, neither of them spoke. Not one single bird chirped, no traffic sounds, pedestrians, car alarms, or sirens.

“We’re prepared to pay for what we want.”

“That’s very kind of you,” Grace joked.

“We’re not in the business of kindness, I’m afraid.”

“No?”

The woman sighed, uncrossed her legs. Then crossed them the other way. She looked uneasy, as if she were about to launch a different tactic. “The decisions we make affect the economy, on global levels.”

“Really? You don’t look like a banker.”

The woman smiled and looked toward the house.

“Water’s boiling. Pardon me, I’ll be right back.”

Grace returned with a bamboo tray containing a pot of tea, two cups, a pitcher, and tiny bowls for milk and lemon.

“Royal Doulton,” Beth commented with what seemed like admiration. But Grace knew already that she was not what she seemed.

“It was my mother’s,” Grace said and swirled the brew around in the teapot and then poured.

Beth held the cup and stared intently into the liquid, glanced at Grace, and returned her gaze to the cup.

“I’m still not clear on what research you want.”

“You know what we want.” The woman sipped the tea.

“Careful, could be poison,” Grace said and stared.

She watched the woman take two more sips and then soundlessly leave down the side walkway toward Kensington. She continued watching her all the way out toward Chapel Street, and then slowly opened the envelope. On one heavy sheet of stationary paper appeared a single typed sentence.

The research in exchange for your partner’s life.

Adrian, my God, she thought. What have you done?

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Welcoming Maggie Mundy

I’d like to welcome author Maggie Mundy to talk about her book, ‘Unmasked, published by Rogue Phoenix Press.  During this book tour, Maggie will award a prize to a randomly drawn commenter.

BANNER-Unmasked

Title: Unmasked

Author: Maggie Mundy

ISBN EBOOK: 978-1-62420-323-7

ISBN POD: 978-1547054831

Genre: Paranormal Romance

Excerpt Heat Level: 1

Book Heat Level: 4

TAGLINE

Corrupted magic is hard to fight when you’re the only one who believes something is wrong. Daria faces a battle to save her world.

BLURB

Six hundred years of peace are destroyed when Daria’s settlement is attacked. It is the start of problems for the land of Majura. Daria saves people with magic and must join the magic wielding Mask wearers who rule the land. Her dreams have warned if she became one it would be the end of Majura. Are the Mask wearers keeping secrets or is she the only one who can see the power in the land is changing. A Mask wearer called Alenze believes her and offers to go on a quest with her to fix the Essence where the magic comes from, but he is keeping secrets from her that could be the death of them all.

Unmasked

EXCERPT

If most of the other Masks were like Alenze, then she was never going to fit in. He didn't have a hair out of place. His clothes were grey but of the highest quality, with a beautifully fitted long tunic and breeches and well-made knee-high leather boots.

"During the travelling, you'll be placed in a trance. This is done so you're not alarmed by the experience. I'll be in control, and you'll not be aware of what's happening around you."

He spoke to her as if she were a child. The fact he was at least a head taller than her didn't help matters as he peered down.

"I assure you growing up here has made me resilient." Daria crossed her fingers behind her back at the lie.

"Many people struggle with the experience. I myself was glad I wore brown britches the first time. I agree though. I sense you'll not be alarmed easily," Alenze replied.

For a second Daria saw a smirk on his face. He had a sense of humor, who would have thought. He even almost looked handsome when he smiled.

"Traveler Quatrome, the sun is setting," her father interrupted. "The Chamber is ready." He bowed his head to both of them.

Alenze offered his arm to escort her into the Travelling Chamber. Daria stared at his hand as her heart pounded in fear, but knew she had no choice but to eventually take it. Pell stopped outside the Chamber and smiled at her, then looked to Alenze.

"Take care of her, and warn your fellow Masks to watch out for her temper; she didn't inherit her mother's green eyes and red hair without reason," Pell warned.

"You have my word, Master Gallo," Alenze replied as he shook her father's hand.

Atia and Chelle hugged her with tears streaming down all their faces.

"It won't be long, and I'll be back, especially if they don't want me, which is highly likely," Daria soothed them as she tried to get her tears under control.

Alenze coughed and Daria couldn't delay any more. Again, his arm was offered and this time she accepted. He escorted her into the chamber and as the doors shut behind them, she could hear Rumus howling and her breath caught in her throat.

Alenze let go of her arm and walked into the center of the circular, windowless room. With the doors closed, there was an oppressive feel to the space, with the only illumination coming from the oil lamps placed about the walls. The floor was covered with a beautiful painting. The tales were that the settlement had been built around this place.

Alenze was studying the markings on the floor. Daria's breath was catching in her throat and the room was getting smaller. She couldn't go through with this, they couldn't make her go. Her chest was getting tight as her panic increased. She ran to the door of the chamber and raised her fists, thumping hard again and again. The yells coming from her throat blanked out the pain as her fists started to redden and bleed.

"Let me out."

A hand touched her shoulder, causing her to spin around screaming, her clenched fist aimed at Alenze. Placing his hand over hers, he brought her fist down. He stared intently at her with his dark grey eyes as he spoke.

"When I went to the Domain in Denarius, I believed no one would want someone like me. Those who came with me at that time were filled with a confidence I never had. I didn't feel I'd ever belong, but now I do. Becoming a Mask has given my life meaning beyond what I would ever have thought possible. I've grown to love what I've become. You must trust me, and believe you'll feel that, too." He paused. "Are you ready?"

Daria nodded as he let go of her hands and walked over and stood over the open mouth of the winged serpent painted on the floor. She stood on the outside of the circular floor painting and thought her eyes must be playing tricks on her. The painting was starting to move as the serpent's coils began to entwine one upon another hypnotically.

"We can delay no longer. Stand on the mark of the moon." Holding out his arm, Alenze beckoned her to move forward.

She took the step, her breath coming in gasps. The outer circle had symbols of the sun, moon, stars and the Goddess Ikrar. The Goddess stood with her hands clasped around a crystal.

Alenze removed a small, plain brown mask from a pouch hanging around his neck and put it on his face. It had no hooks or fastenings, but melded to him on contact.

"Enter the circle, Daria."

Daria stepped forward onto the moving picture. Alenze took her hands in a firm grip, and needing something to hold onto, she gripped equally as hard around his wrists. She wondered if he could hear her heart beating. He should, as it felt as if it was going to explode through her chest.

"I don't want to do this. My life is here, Crane is here, I love him and I want to stay." Tears flowed down her face.

"Trust me, Daria, and you'll be safe," Alenze instructed.

"I don't want to trust you. I don't want to go and no one there will want me. They think I'm bringing doom with me because I touched the crystal," Daria sobbed, but Alenze wasn't listening anymore. His eyes were shut and he was chanting strange words over and over. There was a humming noise making her dizzy, and then something touched her foot. She jerked her knee up. Peering down, she let out a scream as the coils of the snake picture on the floor started slithering over her feet and around her ankles - where was the trance Alenze had promised? The Mask was no longer solid on his face; the flat surface was bubbling as though something was trying to erupt. Then the small heads of two snakes broke free from the surface and bit into his temples. If he felt any pain he didn't react.

More snakes oozed from the Mask until the whole of his head was a wriggling mass moving down his back and entwining around his arms. Two vipers separated from the others encircling his arms. The snakes stopped their movements at his wrists and raised their bodies up as though to get a good look at her. They swayed hypnotically. Daria tried to pull free of Alenze's grip, but he was too strong. Then without warning, both snakes struck at her wrists in unison.

"Alenze," his name burst from her mouth as the pain hit her arms and the poison burned into her. His eyes opened, looking first to her face and then at the vipers injecting their venom. She could hear his thoughts.

Forgive me, Daria.

AUTHOR BIO & LINKS:

Maggie Mundy Pic

I live in Adelaide, Australia with my husband, one cat, two dogs and a snake. I have a motorbike that I would like to ride more than I do and I love walking at the beach and listening to the waves. I've always loved reading all forms of fiction from high fantasy and paranormal to contemporary and decided the stories in my head needed to be written down. It was either that or start on medication. Unlike many, I didn’t know I wanted to be a writer until a few years back. I started off doing a degree in drama but soon realized my love was in writing, though there is a play lurking somewhere on my computer. My day job is as a nurse in the operating room. I believe romance can be fun to read and write but it’s exciting to spice it up with the uncertainty that comes with suspense where the rules can be broken.

Buy at: Amazon, Barnes and Noble

Website URL: www.maggiemundy.com

Blog URL: http://maggiemundy.blogspot.com.au

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/MaggieMundyAuthor

Twitter handle: https://twitter.com/MundyMaggie

Monday, 19 June 2017

Their Only Choice, Their Last Chance

Storm Watch - Book III in the ‘Unfinished Business’ series by Carole Ann Moleti

Storm Watch 3 Final_338x507
Mike and Liz thought they'd gotten control of the specters haunting the Barrett Inn. But things get very complicated when they're the ghosts from your past life. The Category Five Hurricane bearing down on Cape Cod appears to be headed directly for them--or has it been spawned from inside them? Knowing it’s their last chance to end the hauntings, Mike and Liz must decide whether to run or to defy evacuation orders. Will they survive the storm?

That’s the premise behind this new book by Carole Ann Moleti, the final part of the ‘Unfinished Business’ series. Having read ‘The Widow’s Walk’ and ‘Breakwater Beach’, I was delighted to be asked to preview ‘Storm Watch’ because it meant I got an early chance to find out what happened to the people who left a mark on me in the previous instalments.

The story is about how the characters and the ghosts inside them try to cope when a massive storm approaches and then hits their homes in Cape Cod. The novel has an excellent sense of location - I’ve never been to Cape Cod but came to feel I knew it well. I was so drawn in I started looking up maps and photographs, to find Moleti described everything so well the settings are just as I imagined them.
We’re not only dealing with the storm and ghosts, but multiple sub plots that are skillfully woven into the story and add interest rather than complexity. These plots drew me in because I wanted to know what would happen with each strand, until I was immersed in the whole book. I finished the novel well before I expected to because I kept wanting to read ‘just one more chapter’.

However, as so often with Moleti’s work, the real standout is the characters who are consistent and well drawn across the series’ three books. The author has a clear picture of what makes people tick and a knack for characterisation that many authors – including me – will envy. As with the series’ other books, the people in the story are largely ordinary, everyday folk on the surface, but each has depths and uniqueness that the writing brings out. It’s this depth that really had me rooting for everyone. I particularly liked the hermit, Harley, who is a new addition. His presence changes the dynamics a little from previous books which keeps the series fresh and the reader on his toes – and he’s great fun in his own right.

‘Storm Watch’ will be available on 19 July. Details are at: http://www.caroleannmoleti.com/the-unfinished-business-series/

The pre-order link for ‘Storm Watch’ is here.

Carole Ann Moleti lives and works as a nurse-midwife in New York City, thus explaining her fascination with all things paranormal, urban fantasy, and space opera. Her nonfiction focuses on health care, politics, and women's issues. But her first love is writing science fiction and fantasy because walking through walls is less painful than running into them.

The first book in Carole's Unfinished Business series, ‘The Widow's Walk’, was published in 2015.

The prequel, ‘Breakwater Beach’, appeared in 2016.

Urban fantasies set in the world of Carole's novels have been featured in Haunted: Ten Tales of Ghosts, Seers: Ten Tales of Clairvoyance, Beltane: Ten Tales of Witchcraft, and Bites: Ten Tales of Vampires.

Carole also writes non fiction that ranges from sweet and sentimental in This Path and Thanksgiving to Christmas to edgy and irreverent in the Not Your Mother's Books: On Being a Mother and On Being a Parent.

Carole is at:
http://amazon.com/author/carolemoleti
http://Twitter.com/Cmoleti
http://www.caroleannmoleti.com
https://www.facebook.com/caroleannmoleti
plus.google.com/103609323247390103301
Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/goodreadscomCmoleti
http://www.pinterest.com/caroleannmoleti/

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Rebel ePublishers

So, contracts have been signed – nice and quickly in these days of e-signatures – so I can announce that ‘The Fairy Wife’s’ publisher will be Rebel ePublishers.

Jayne at Rebel edited and generally handled my two previous novels, ‘The Footholder’s Tale’ and ‘The Door into War’, brilliantly so I was hoping Rebel would want to take on ‘The Fairy Wife,’ too.