Monday, July 4, 2016

Incendiary for 99 cents

Jake always thought bad things happened in threes. If so, he wondered what would round out the trio.
     The arson counted as number one. Tim Hagerty on his doorstep might be number two. They’d parted as friends when he left, but a lot of years passed since then. Jake had spoken to him for the first time three weeks prior to his return to Biggin Hill. In fact, he wouldn’t be back except for Tim’s offer.
     “Tim, come in.”
     “Just wanted to see how you’re settling in.”
     Jake led Tim back to his kitchen. He didn’t know what to expect of this visit. Or what to think about it. “Beer?”
     “Sure.”
     He opened two imports and handed one to his old friend. Silence ensued as Jake took a swig.
     “So, you glad to be back?”
     Jake frowned. “Not sure yet”
     Tim sat on a metal chair and placed his beer on the table. “I know it’s only been a few weeks.”
     “Not much has changed.”
     “Not much does in a small town. A few more houses built. That’s about it.”
     Jake sipped his beer. “It feels right to be back here.”

     “Does that have anything to do with Chelsea?”
     The sound of her name kicked his heart’s beat off rhythm. “I haven’t really talked to her.”
     Tim’s eyebrows shot up. “No? I would have thought she’d be your first stop. Then maybe Brad’s reaction to your relationship with her might stop you.”
     Jake rubbed the back of his neck. He ignored the comment about Brad. The two old friend’s hadn’t parted on the best of terms. “I’m not sure I’m on her A-list.”
     “True, considering how you left.”
     A stab to the heart. Was Tim after Chelsea? His hand found his chest. “Ouch.”
     Tim shrugged then lifted his beer. “Truth hurts.”
     His friend had never been the most tactful person. “So what’s your interest in her?”
     A grin broke out on his face, or a leer. “What any red-blooded American male would want.”
     “Really?” His heart hurt. “Does she return the interest?”
     Tim retained some unrequited love for Chelsea when they’d been younger. So the torch still burned.
     “I think she plays it close to the vest.”

     Jake couldn’t deny that when it came to men, Chelsea didn’t broadcast her feelings. At least she hadn’t to him. Maybe she hadn’t felt anything for him.



Sunday, July 3, 2016

Blonde Demolition for 99 cents

Booth leaned against the wall in the firehouse, his gaze glued to the beer trailer. When the contract had come down, he hadn't believed whom he would have to kill. She couldn't look any more harmless.
She did know how to defuse bombs.
Go figure.

The kill would be easy. Still, he hadn't been given the go ahead yet. He'd practice his shot until it was time.
Even if that wasn't how he'd kill her.
For a moment his heart wasn't in it. He tamped that down. It was unprofessional. Exactly what they'd feared would happen.
He shook his head. No. He'd do the kill.
Shifting his shoulders to ease the tension, he wondered if he was getting too old for this life. He longed for a beach somewhere. The millions he'd stashed away would work for him for many years.
Just one more, he kept repeating to himself.
One more dead body and he was free.
He could feel the sun on his face already. There'd be beautiful women to attend to him. There were no virgins in heaven for him and he was fine with that. He wanted his reward in this life.

He rubbed a hand down his face. The door to the beer trailer opened.
His mark stepped out.
Time to put on his concerned face.


Saturday, July 2, 2016

Incendiary On Sale

As she trudged to answer the door, she attempted to shake off her bad mood. She hoped her public face would cover the emotions churning inside of her. Taking a deep breath, she plastered a smile on her face and opened the door. "Tim?"

He leaned against the doorjamb as if he owned the place. His gray suit and brown wingtips screamed banker. His paisley tie sat loose and crooked on this neck. He didn't look rakish, just unkempt.
A smile blossomed. In the right light it resembled a leer. "Chelsea."
She hung onto the door tighter than she needed to. "What can I do for you?"
He pushed his way in and swaggered to the office. "This is a friendly call."
She bit back an oath. "Oh?"
He turned to face her. "Can we talk? Somewhere private?"
She motioned back to the office.
"You first."
Shrugging, she brushed past him, plopped into the chair behind the desk then picked up a magazine to fan her face. The air conditioner hadn't gotten up to speed yet.
"I'd offer you coffee, but we don't have any."
"How are things?"

Chelsea restrained her eyes from rolling. "Cut to the chase, Tim."
He settled himself on a chair and picked lint off his trousers.
She put her hands behind her back, instead of what she wanted to do. Wouldn't he be surprised if she grabbed his lapels and demanded to know what the hell he was doing here?
Buy here:  https://amzn.com/1926997891


Friday, July 1, 2016

A HUMAN ELEMENT for 99cents


by Donna Galanti

Two loud cracks shot out over the howling wind. The hands on him fell away. He let out a huge sigh, dizzy from holding his breath.

Ben opened his eyes and craned his head around to see what had happened. Under the bright moonlight the outline of the two big Samoans rose up from the overgrown road. They didn't move. The wind whipped the giant leaves of the banyan and guava trees about like sails on a great clipper ship. The buzz of traffic from the new Pali road carried up to him from below. He scanned the area. What had happened? Who else hid out there? He pulled at the stakes. His hands shook as he tried to break free.


"Forget it, kid, they're held down in cement," a deep voice said. "These stupid locals make up these playgrounds just to mess with us haoles."

Ben swallowed the saliva stuck in his throat and focused on his surroundings. There stood the green-eyed man, hidden in the swaying banyan trees. His black outfit blended into the dark forest. He moved toward Ben and holstered his gun, then popped open a switchblade from his back pocket.

"I am not here to hurt you," the man said when Ben shrunk into the rock. "I'm going to cut the ropes."

In a few swift movements he slit the ropes binding Ben, who staggered back. The man caught him and held him up, then ripped off the duct tape.

"Who are you?" Ben's body trembled from the rush of fear and a fierce headache pounded in his temple.

The man didn't answer. He bent over one of the dead Samoans and pulled out a wallet. He looked inside and threw it at Ben. "It's yours." Then the man led him by the arm down the overgrown road where he handed Ben his clothes from the brush. He tried to put them on but his hands shook so bad the man had to help him. He winced from the whip marks brushing against his jeans and shirt.

"Come on," the man said. Ben looked back at the dead men sprawled face down. They oozed like two fat walruses sunning themselves in the moonlight. "Don't worry about them. I'll dump them later, somewhere they'll never be found."

In a daze, Ben followed his savior up the rough road, stumbling behind him in the dim moonlight. Those men had carried him unconscious down this road.


"I'll take you back to base then you're on your own," the man said once they reached his car, parked off the main road. "Don't speak of this to anyone. Understand?"

Ben nodded and climbed in the car. He looked over at the stranger in black who had saved him.  "You were at my foster mother's funeral. Why are you following me? Why save me?"

"I'm an interested party. Leave it at that."

"I can't. I would have died up there for sure."

The man didn't respond.

"Thank you."

The man looked at Ben. His green eyes glowed in the moonlight that filtered into the car. "Someday you might not thank me. Someday you may not survive."


About A Human Element:
Evil comes in many forms…

One by one, Laura Armstrong’s friends and adoptive family members are being murdered, and despite her unique healing powers, she can do nothing to stop it. The savage killer haunts her dreams, tormenting her with the promise that she is next. Determined to find the killer, she follows her visions to the site of a crashed meteorite in her hometown. There, she meets Ben Fieldstone, who seeks answers about his parents’ death the night the meteorite struck. In a race to stop a madman, they unravel a frightening secret that binds them together. But the killer’s desire to destroy Laura face-to-face leads to a showdown that puts Laura and Ben’s emotional relationship and Laura’s pure spirit to the test. With the killer closing in, Laura discovers her destiny is linked to his, and she has two choices—redeem him or kill him.

Praise for A Human Element:
“Be afraid. Be very afraid. And be utterly absorbed by this riveting debut that had me reading till the wee hours of the night. A thriller star is born.” –M.J. Rose, International bestselling author
An elegant and haunting first novel. Unrelenting, devious but full of heart.  Highly recommended.” –Jonathan Maberry, New York Times best-selling author

About Donna:
Donna Galanti is the author of A Human Element and A Hidden Element of The Element Trilogy (Imajin Books) and the Joshua and The Lightning Road series (Month9Books). Donna is a contributing editor for International Thriller Writers the Big Thrill magazine and blogs with other middle grade authors at Project Middle Grade Mayhem. She’s lived from England as a child, to Hawaii as a U.S. Navy photographer. Visit her at www.elementtrilogy.com and www.donnagalanti.com.



Purchase A Human Element, book 1 in the Element Trilogy, here: http://mybook.to/AHumanElement

Thursday, June 23, 2016

One-Hit Wonders

Even One-Hit Wonders Deserve a Second Chance

How often have you thought about an old TV show or movie you enjoyed and wondered whatever became of the stars who kind of faded from view? When you see Sixteen Candles on AMC, for example, you don’t have to search far to find Molly Ringwald or Anthony Michael Hall because they’re still active, but oh…what about Jake Ryan? ;) Every once in a while I’ll see a “where are they now” click-bait story revealing the whereabouts of former actor Michael Schoeffling, and others like him, and it’s this curiosity that partly inspired my newest romance, Finish What You Started.

I’m not an actor, but I have undergone the career shift from teaching to writing. When we hear stories of former child stars it seems some are bleaker than others. A few transition to adulthood and keep their careers, some fall into financial or legal trouble, and others retire from the public life and start over. Finish What You Started is about two former child stars determined to shed the images thrust on them by their iconic TV roles. Gabby wants to work behind the camera, Dash wants to be a serious actor and leave the geek character he played behind. Initially it doesn’t work out, but when these two meet up after ten years they have a second chance at fame, and love.

All Dash wants to do is prove he has talent beyond his Urkel-like character on TV. Hollywood is ready to dismiss him as a one-hit wonder or one-trick pony, but he’s about to prove everybody wrong.


What is your favorite one-hit wonder? It could be a show, song, a movie, whatever. I’d love to know. I’d also love it if you entered the giveaway below. I’m sending out to one winner a prize pack featuring a delightfully snarky coffee mug, a gorgeous mini-notebook, and one audiobook from my backlist, to be gifted via Audible. Good luck!


Finish What You Started by Kathryn Lively
Contemporary Romance
Totally Bound Publishing
Buy: https://www.totallybound.com/book/finish-what-you-started

About the Book

In this business, it gets hot under the spotlight…

Once a teen idol, Gabby Randall now spends her time behind the camera. With her show Danse Macabre scripted and greenlit for a popular streaming site, she has everything she wants…except her star. Deadlines are looming and she’s desperate to cast the role of a modern-day, motorcycle-riding Grim Reaper. She never thought she’d end up hiring her former co-star, TV’s most beloved geek…and her ex-husband.

Until the day he dies, people will remember Dash Gregory as Freddie “Grody” Grodin, the token geek friend of the cool kids at Wondermancer High. After years of casting agents overlooking him for plum roles, Dash wants to show Hollywood he’s more than a one-note player. He’s ready to break the vicious typecasting cycle, and he’s set his sights on the lead role in a sexy new series too hot for network TV.

When the director yells “Cut!” the star wants to keep up the action behind the scenes. Are Dash and Gabby willing to make ratings history again?

Excerpt

When he returned to the main room, he found the trays folded and back on the rack, and Ace snuggled into Gabby’s side. “Later, buddy.” He snapped his fingers and the terrier bounced toward the bathroom. “He’s too suave for his own good,” he told Gabby with a smile, which soon fell on seeing her suddenly melancholy.

“What’s wrong? Was it dinner? Do you need—?”

“No, everything was great. Perfect.” She moved to sip her wine, but instead set it on the coffee table. “I was just thinking of what we had here tonight, and it played out like a typical night at home.” After a beat she added, “Well, a typical night if we—I—were a couple. Married…whatever.”

“I hear you.” Damn, she looked cute when she rambled. “I haven’t done typical in a while, and it’s not bad. I still owe you a dinner out, though. I do want to celebrate with something fancy.”

“I’d rather do this again.” Gabby kicked off her shoes and tucked one foot under her. Comfy, at home, not bad at all. “I’ve wanted to do something like this every day for the last ten years.”

With you. She didn’t say the words, but he imagined them on her lips as she bit down.

He sensed a flood coming as she blinked rapidly, and he looked around for something to help stem it. He never bought tissues, usually used TP if he needed to blow his nose, and the idea of handing her a full roll seemed absurd. He settled in next to Gabby, ready to lend a shoulder.

“We don’t have to talk about it if it hurts too much,” he said, more for himself. His mother had once offered to pay for therapy to help him through the worst of the breakup, but he’d refused. Work served him well, when he got it, and he preferred to keep his feelings about Gabby to himself.

Well, himself and one other person.

“I’ll be fine.” Gabby stuck a pinkie finger in her eye to rid it of a tear. “You know me, I’ve always been an emotional gal. Remember when we filmed Doctor Arturo’s death scene?” She sighed and looked at him. “I bawled for days.”

“So did he. He’d just bought a house when he was written out.”

 “I also don’t normally wear skirts this short,” she said.

He had no reason to object. “Yeah, I wondered about that. You were always a conservative dresser.” Product of a Catholic family, he guessed, but he liked that about her. Gabby wore everything well, but his mind kept returning to the naughty librarian fantasy. Maybe stick a few pencils in her hair, done up in a bun with a few tendrils hanging loose…

“What’s that look on your face?”

“Hm?” The bubble popped, and he shrugged. “I just remembered I need to renew my library card.”

“You are so silly. What does that have to do with what we’re talking about?”

He chose not to say. “I’m sorry. Just a crazy day. So there’s a reason for the wardrobe change?”

Gabby smiled, flushed. “It goes back to that ‘special friend’ misunderstanding.”

“Ah.”

“I hoped to outdo her. Yes, I’m shallow.” She rolled her eyes.

“No, you’re a human with insecurities. Just like me. It doesn’t help we both grew up in show business families where that sort of thing is encouraged.” He could spend the rest of the evening reminding her of all the crap stage parents foisted on their children. You had to have a cuter face than the other boys reading for your part. Your dimples had to go deeper, your freckles had to cross the bridge of your nose just so. How often had Walter and Marie drilled the importance of looking better than every ingĂ©nue in California into Gabby’s head?


It didn’t go away easily. He could relate. Though his mother hadn’t been as bad as Marie Randall, she’d put pressure on him more than once during casting calls.

He stretched out his arm, inviting her close. For a moment they sat on the sofa and he held her, and it felt nice. It felt like home, like what the last ten years should have been for them. “You will always have a special place in my heart,” he said. “Whatever happens between us on this show, it can only result in good things.”

She pulled back a bit to regard him. “I want to tell you something.” After a beat she added, “Since our first time in Vegas…there hasn’t been a second time for me. With anybody.”

Huh? “For real? Why are you telling me—”

“I’m not asking for you to say the same thing, Dash. I never expected you to go celibate, and I didn’t think it’d be this way for me. I just got busy with work.” She shook her head. “I wanted you to know because…” she swallowed hard, “I never wanted another first time with anybody else.”

She gazed into his eyes. Her deep brown gaze, smooth as chocolate and calling to his soul, drew him closer. He was done for.

About the Author

Kathryn Lively is an award-winning writer and editor, Slytherin, Whovian, and Rush (the band) fan. She loves chocolate and British crisps and is still searching for a good US dealer of Japanese Kit Kat bars.

COPY & PASTE TO GET KAT'S NEWSLETTER: http://eepurl.com/bq-RML

MORE ABOUT KAT:

Site & Blog: http://www.kathrynlively.com
Twitter: http://twitter.com/MsKathrynLively
Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Kathryn-Lively-Author/674430962660461
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Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/KathrynLively

Giveaway

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Monday, June 6, 2016

Blonde Demolition On Sale

Mallory bit down and then yanked at the arm. Her meager strength came from another rush of adrenaline.
"Whoa, Mallory. It's just me."
The familiar voice froze her before she could do any damage. Oh crap. As if her day hadn't tanked already.

One by one she uncurled her fingers from around his wrist. Her shaking hands grasped the steering wheel, knuckles white.
Her eyes fell closed. If she had a list of people she never wanted to see again, his name would be at the top. Why here? Why now? This was the last thing she needed.
She steadied her breath and her gaze scanned the parking lot. No one stirred or walked to their car. She couldn't be seen with him. 
"Don't turn around. Just drive. I'll be hunkered down in the back."
She started the car and drove home. Her knuckles remained white. "What the hell are you doing here?"
"I think you know."
Of course. "The bomb in our trailer?"
Emotions roiled her stomach. She'd have to stock up on antacids if Trey was back in her life. And she had just been thinking how nutty this week of fair preparations had been. Now it all looked so easy.

Her thoughts shifted to the events of the evening. Who had put the bomb there? It wasn't a prank if this guy was here. This was bigger than all of Coleville, Centre County.
She pulled in front of her house, a two-story Cape Cod set down a long driveway.
"We're here and no one can see you from the road," she said.
She got out of the car, leaving her guest to follow.


Sunday, June 5, 2016

Dancing with the Bad Guys


Thank you, Chris, for hosting me here today. You know, I get a real thrill when I come across a great bad guy or gal in crime fiction. A character I really love to hate. Unfortunately, not all writers take the same care in developing their antagonists as they do with their protagonists.
Writers put a lot of time and thought into creating their heroes, giving them backstories, motivation, even throwing in a few flaws, which they may or may not overcome. But they too often ignore their antagonists, which is a big mistake.

“Villains are some of the worst characters I meet in manuscripts, and not in a good way. What I mean is that they are frequently cardboard. Most are presented as purely evil: Mwoo-ha-ha villains, as we call them around the office.” Notes New York literary agent Donald Maass in The Breakout Novelist.
Even characters who merely oppose, rather than attack, the protagonist—and provide much-needed conflict in a novel—are often poorly developed. Without strong resistance, readers probably wonder why the protagonist has such a hard time in reaching his goal.


In my stories, I avoid completely evil antagonists because I can’t believe in them. No one is bad all the time. Antagonists lash out because of jealousy, fear or greed—feelings all of us have had. Some are driven by personal demons. And some antagonists can be sympathetic. What’s important is that they are well-rounded and believable.

I invest some time in creating my bad guys and gals, opening up their unexpected sides and justifying some of their actions. In my latest Pat Tierney mystery, Raven Lake, I have two antagonists. Both are smart and strong, as smart and as strong as Pat Tierney. One is driven by jealousy, the other by greed. I found myself really liking one of them. In other circumstances, I could see this character being my friend.

These are some of the things I like to explore in an antagonist:
·       What is his/her main problem, conflict or goal? What does he want the most?
·       Does that conflict with my protagonist’s goal?
·       How plausible is his motivation?
·       What is the opposite of what he wants? And can he want both things at the same time?
·       What are his good traits?
·       What are his secrets? Exposing them may reveal weaknesses he doesn’t want others to see.
·       What happened in his life that made him the way he is?
·       What three steps can he take towards his goal?
·       What three steps can he take away from his goal?
·       What prevents him from taking these steps away from his goal?
·       What’s at stake for him? What would be the consequences of failing to achieve his goal?
A well-rounded antagonist will enrich a novel and make plotting it easier. And a great villain can take a story to a whole new level.
* * *

Rosemary McCracken has worked on newspapers across Canada as a reporter, arts reviewer, editorial writer and editor. She is now a Toronto-based fiction writer and freelance journalist. Her first Pat Tierney mystery, Safe Harbor, was shortlisted for Britain’s Crime Writers’ Association’s Debut Dagger in 2010 and published by Imajin Books in 2012. It was followed by Black Water in 2013. “The Sweetheart Scamster,” a Pat Tierney mystery in the anthology Thirteen, was a finalist for a Derringer Award in 2014. Rosemary’s third Pat Tierney mystery, Raven Lake, has just been released. It is available at myBook.to/RavenLakeTierney.


Follow Rosemary on her blog, Moving Target, at http://rosemarymccracken.wordpress.com; on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/RosemaryMcCracken.Author/; and on Twitter @RCMcCracken. Visit Rosemary’s website at http://www.rosemarymccracken.com/.