Today’s Featured Author – K.M. Hodge

Please welcome author K.M. Hodge to my blog. Her latest book, The Sally Ride Chronicle, is a prequel to her Syndicate Born trilogy. And best of all it is FREE until Saturday March 3rd so get your copy today from Amazon!

Interview

Tell us a bit about yourself:

Award winning and USA Today Bestselling author, K.M. Hodge grew up in Detroit, where she spent most of her free time weaving wild tales to spook her friends and family. These days, she lives in Texas with her husband and two energetic boys, and once again enjoys writing tales of suspense and intrigue that keep her readers up all night. Her stories, which focus on women’s issues, friendship, addiction, regrets and second chances, will stay with you long after you finish them. When she isn’t writing or being an agent of social change, she reads Independent graphic novels, watches old X-files episodes, streams Detroit Tigers games and binges on Netflix with her husband.

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

I started my first novel at the tender age of 18, but my own feelings of inadequacy prevented me from finishing the novel. The novel, Red on the Run, didn’t get completed until eighteen years later. The novel eventually got picked up by a publisher and went on to win the Pinnacle Book Achievement Award for Thrillers. My advice to my younger self would be to complete the book and not give up.

How long on average does it take you to write a book?

While it took me eighteen years to write my first novel, the others have gone by much faster. In the last three years I have written almost nine novels and published seven. The fastest book I wrote was my Syndicate-born novel: Black and White Truth, which took me 60 days to write.

Please tell us about your current release.

My latest release, The Sally Ride ChronicleA Syndicate-born Prequel, gives a look at what drove Sally Ride to become a spy and take down the Syndicate. Readers asked me to write more about my characters Sally and Alex. According to the current reviews, I met reader expectations.

If you could be one of the characters from any of your books, who would it be and why?

I would absolutely be the character Sally. She is a strong, determined and feisty gal. She preservers through intense situations and fights even when it seems like all hope is gone. Her evolution through the series was the most interesting and fun to write.

Book Blurb

The Syndicate doesn’t believe in divorce, but murder is another story.

Sally wants out—out of her marriage, out of the mob, out of Ocean City. An impossible dream. That is until the MDNA, a secret hacktivist group, invites her to join the ranks of their rebellion. The goal? Take down the criminal empire.

She’s no Jane Bond, but no one in her town suspects the quiet church-going mom is a threat, especially The Syndicate’s criminal defense attorney, Michael David, who’s got a thing for mysterious blondes. His love-’em-and-kill-’em exploits, and his penchant for causing witnesses to disappear, make him enemy number one for the hacktivist group. Sally’s mission sounds simple enough—destroy the lawyer’s life and make him pay—but….

Once she starts, there’ll be no turning back.

Follow Sally as she attempts the unthinkable—take down the largest crime ring in US history—in this prequel to The Syndicate-Born Trilogy.

About the Author 

Award winning and USA Today Bestselling author, K.M. Hodge grew up in Detroit, where she spent most of her free time weaving wild tales to spook her friends and family. These days, she lives in Texas with her husband and two energetic boys, and once again enjoys writing tales of suspense and intrigue that keep her readers up all night. Her stories, which focus on women’s issues, friendship, addiction, regrets and second chances, will stay with you long after you finish them. When she isn’t writing or being an agent of social change, she reads Independent graphic novels, watches old X-files episodes, streams Detroit Tigers games and binges on Netflix with her husband. K.M. Hodge truly enjoys hearing from her readers, so don’t be shy about dropping her an email or say hit on social media: Facebook, Twitter and Google+.

You can get The Sally Ride Chronicle on Amazon for FREE through March 3.

Today’s Featured Author – Vasant Davé

Today, I would like to welcome author Vasant Davé to my blog. Please enjoy this excerpt from his historical novel Trade Winds to Meluhha. 

Excerpt – Chapter 7

Swells higher than a man’s height rocked Captain Paravar’s ship. His sailors sniggered as Sam sat at the base of the mast, gripping it like a child hugging its mother. Although he was used to the howling desert winds, he had never heard such ominous rumbling every time the lightning stabbed the darkness. The waves slapped the vessel whose woodwork screeched eerily, making Sam wish he could shut his ears just like his eyes.

Had fate saved him from execution only to drown him at sea?

Shouts accompanied by a fluttering sound told Sam that several sailors were busy taking down the sail. From the Captain’s bellows, Sam guessed that he was fighting hard along with his sailors to drain out the deluge of water from the vessel.

Perhaps the situation was not as grim as he feared. Shouldn’t he too perform his duty? “The foal would have been scared to death by now,” was his first thought.

He got up like a child learning to walk, and tottered to the animal. One look at it threw the storm out of his mind. It lay sprawled on the deck, soaked to the skin and staring at the sky.

Sam’s arms slipped around the foal’s neck, and he broke down.

He was not aware when the storm showed signs of abetting, and the sailors started gathering around him. A hand gripped his shoulder. He knew it was the Captain, but was unable to look up and meet his eye.

Then he heard the Captain’s soothing voice. “We could save it from man, but not from nature. Perhaps it was its destiny to be buried at sea.”

As the Captain’s footsteps retreated, Sam thought that his palm sensed a throb. He sat up and perceived a weak pulse. Spinning around, he shouted. A couple of sailors ran to bring warm water and dry cloth as he bade. Another hurried to fetch an earthen pot containing smouldering coal to start a fire.

Cajoling the foal, Sam cleaned and rubbed its limbs. Little by little he poured warm broth into its mouth. He saw its hide shiver, and then its chest heave. Then it neighed as if under unbearable pain. He patted and cheered it. “Captain,” he yelled, “your little one has got over the worst.”

Sam heard the Captain hollering ‘thanks’, and then asking his deputy to set free one of the two rock doves in the cage. They watched the bird taking off towards the stern and fluttering away. “Turn her around,” ordered the Captain.

As the crew started the exercise, Sam went to the head sailor and said, “Why did you release the pigeon? Wasn’t it meant for the Captain’s dinner?”

“No,” said the head sailor. “Those birds are our best friends. When we lose our way at sea, we release a dove. It always flies away in the direction of land.”

Sam saw the Captain studying the mast which whipped at the top. There was concern on his face. Summoning two sailors, he instructed them. They tied a piece of rope around their waists and scaled the mast. Suspended high above the deck, they commenced a long struggle to fix a supporting strut to the mast.

The foal had slipped into a nap and Sam watched the Captain with interest as he gave periodic instructions with one eye on the sky. At one point he said, “There, the Vata-miin is now visible. Get me the kamal.”

Following his gaze, Sam recognised the Pole Star Thuban shining in the northern sky. The head sailor came, carrying a wooden card with a hole in its centre through which passed a string. The Captain held the string between his teeth and moved the card to and fro at the Thuban. Then he marked a position on the string with a knot.

He walked towards his cabin, measuring the length from the knot to the card with his fingers. The head sailor ran ahead of him, lighted a couple of lamps and flung open an ebony chest. Selecting a tome of barks from several stored inside, the Captain studied it for quite some time. “We’re somewhere near Sutantoru1-on-Sea,” he announced at last, and strode to the rudder to take charge.

Around midnight, an excited cry woke up everybody. The Captain strained to see in the direction pointed by the sailor. “Yes,” he agreed, “we were closer to the port than I reckoned.”

Sam discerned a weak flicker of light far away. “That’s one of your regular ports of call, isn’t it?” he asked.

“No, it’s one port that prefers foreign ships to our own.”

“Any ship, whether local or foreign, pays the port for the facilities, doesn’t it?”

“Sutantoru has its reasons,” said the Captain. “One, the monsoons don’t affect its route to Suméru as they do in Alatinam and Port Lothal. This port is accessible to Sumérian ships all the year round.”

Sam waited for him to continue, but there was silence. He turned to see the Captain’s face in the dark. “What is another?”

“Sutantoru is notorious for some sort of slavery, which would never be permitted at other ports.”

“Slavery? With Sumér?”

With a sigh, the Captain started walking towards his cabin. Sam considered it best to resolve an issue that was on his mind. Catching up, he said: “The foal is too weak to continue the voyage, Captain. Shall we leave it in Sutantoru?”

“I can’t abandon it, Samorist.”

Sam thought that since he did not know where Hiwa Haqra lived, he might as well start his search from Sutantoru-on-Sea rather than from Port Lothal. “I’ll go along with the baby if its buyer provides me shelter and food,” he said.

The Captain shook his head. “Who will buy a sick animal?”

“It’s not just any animal,” said Sam, and he immediately realized that he had given away annoyance in his voice. He quickly added, “As I told you, Captain, it’s going to grow up into a lovely mare.”

“To the people who have never seen a horse, Samorist, it’s no more than an exotic breed of donkey.”

Sam considered it practical to postpone his search for Hiwa Haqra till the foal had grown up. A mare could be an invaluable help in Meluhha, the land of long distances.

“Suppose nobody takes it away, Captain,” he said quietly. “I’ll stay back in Sutantoru to look after it.”

Book Blurb

trade windsSamasin, an orphaned stable boy, rushes to help a foreigner sprawled with a slashed neck in a deserted tavern. Gasping for the last breath, the stranger presses a fish-hook in his hand and pleads, ‘Give to Siwa Saqra.’ Just then, a crowd rushes in and accuses the bewildered youngster of the Meluhhan’s murder. In order to clear his name from the stigma of manslaughter, Sam must hunt down the killer.

He flees Babylon under the darkness of night, and shivering violently, swims to a ship setting sail for Meluhha. Unknowingly, he has embarked on pursuit of an evil trade wrecking the lives of many a young Mesopotamian. A severe monsoon storm, besides ravaging their little vessel, blows it off its course. During his journey in exotic Meluhha, Sam survives several situations which would have cost him his life. However, it never occurs to the naïve stable boy that a powerful foe does not want him to see Siwa.

Sam encounters Siwa’s haughty daughter who takes an instant dislike for the grinning young man seemingly because he hails from Mesopotamia. Her slim dark form and long swinging hair steal his heart. With an eye on her as she hovers in the background, he sees Siwa staring blankly at the fish-hook and his jaw drops. Who else did the dead man actually intend to convey the ‘message’?

Inspired by Thor Heyerdahl’s voyage in a reed ship across Persian Gulf and Arabian Sea, TRADE WINDS TO MELUHHA is an adventure unfolding between two ancient lands of Mesopotamia and Indus Valley Civilization.

About the Author 

vAuthorAs a retired engineer walked through the ruins of Lothal in Western India, his mind went back to his childhood in the Kenyan port of Mombasa where, as school boy, he used to be awed by wooden dhows sailing out to the open sea. The tourist guide was showing a gigantic rectangle made from bricks on the ground level. It was almost filled to the brim with soil, “to preserve it from erosion”, he said. “It’s the world’s oldest excavated port,” he added, “which was used by Indus Valley ships trading with Mesopotamia.”

Maritime trade across 3,000 Km of sea when iron was not yet discovered, and the magnetic compass was unkown? That query set Vasant Davé on a search for more information about both the Bronze Age civilizations, which ultimately resulted in the writing of the historical novel ‘Trade winds to Meluhha’.

During his professional career, Vasant had provided Industrial Market Research services to corporate clients in Australia, China, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Israel, Singapore, the UK and the USA. His articles/anecdotes were published in Readers’ Digest, Economic Times, Business India, Dawn, Telematics India, Studio Systems and Shankar’s Weekly.

You can connect with Vasant on Facebook, Twitter or his website.

You can purchase Trade Winds to Meluhha on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo Store and Smashwords.

 

Today’s Featured Author – Maggie Spence

Today I welcome author Maggie Spence to my blog. Her second novel, The Johnson Project, came out March. (You can buy it on Amazon.)

Interview

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m a mom in a northern suburb of Chicago with three active kids and a wonderful husband. I’ve been writing since I can remember and my imagination takes me to crazy places which end up in a Word document which ultimately turns into a book.

 Please tell us about your current release.

It’s about a doctor who is frustrated with unplanned pregnancies and worldwide child abuse. He finds himself in a position to do something about it and makes that choice. I think we’ve all read the heartbreaking stories of child abuse and wondered why some people are allowed to procreate. I started thinking about what the world would look like if pregnancy could never be an accident, it had to be planned by two willing people. The Johnson Project was born. No pun intended.

What kind of research did you do for this story?

Tons! I learned so much about human rights around the world. I should say the LACK of human rights especially when it comes to children. The research was difficult to absorb and discouraging. I first intended to keep the story in the United States but was moved to go international by what I learned from the research. As an American, I’m pretty cocooned in my first world life.

Which of your characters is your favorite? Do you dislike any of them?
The whole crazy Johnson family are my favorites and I wish they were real so I could hang out with them. That would be a party! Except Penny because she’s horrible.

Have you started your next project? If so, can you share a little bit about your next book?

I am working on a cozy hometown kind of mystery not nearly as intense as The Johnson Project.

If you could pick two authors to meet, who would it be and why?
Easy. Stephen King and Anne Rice. I admire both of them so much, not just for their incredible talent but for their encouragement to hacks like me.

Book Blurb

Johnson Cover 2It’s 2017 and the Aqar virus has infected every female on the planet and left only one lasting consequence: Infertility. No more babies. The end of the human race is imminent until a renowned fertility specialist finds the cure but he’s not ready to let just anybody become a parent. Ted Johnson and his family have formed a team to decide which couples have earned the right to be called mommy and daddy. Their expectations are steep. Their motives are questioned. Their lives are threatened. The Johnsons never considered procreation a right, rather, a privilege. The world fights back.

About the Author

Maggie Spence is an award winning author from Libertyville, IL where she resides with her husband and three children.

You can find out more about her on Facebook.

You can purchase The Johnson Project on Amazon, Amazon UK and Amazon CA.

Today’s Featured Author – Belinda G. Buchanan

Today, I welcome author Belinda G. Buchanan to my blog. In September 2015, she released a stand-alone sequel to her mystery/thriller, The Monster of Silver Creek. Here is an excerpt from her latest – Tragedy at Silver Creek.

Excerpt -Chapter One

Cheryl Collins breathed sporadically through her mouth and nose, trying, without success, to ease the contraction that was currently slicing through her body.

“You’re doing great, Cheryl.”

Grimacing, she looked between her parted knees at Dr. Jensen, whose gloved hands were resting against the innermost part of her thighs, as he studied the fetal monitor beside his shoulder.  Two nurses—one, a thin redhead with a diamond stud protruding from the fold in her chin, and the other, an older, frumpy brunette with a dour expression—stood on either side of him, staring at her nether region.

Cheryl closed her eyes, wishing that the intimate act of giving birth did not have to involve being seen naked by half the staff of Memorial Hospital.

“You’re doing great, sweetheart.”

The familiar touch of Jack’s hand swept across her skin, yet she chose to keep her eyes shut, fearing that any movement, no matter how small, would bring about another contraction.

“All right, Cheryl, on the next one, I want you to push.”

Jack slipped his arm behind her shoulders.  “On the next one, you push.”

Cheryl felt her lips fold in on themselves as she glanced over at her husband.  For the past two hours, he had been repeating everything the doctor had said.  “Jack?”

“I’m right here,” he answered, patting her on the forearm.

She clutched the front of his shirt, uncaring that she’d also grabbed a handful of his chest hairs, and pulled him towards her.  Pausing to draw a shallow breath, she then proceeded to tell him to shut up in the nicest way possible—only to have her words replaced by a cry as another contraction took hold.

“Give me a big push, Cheryl.”

Jack helped her sit up, and she bared down the best she knew how.

“Okay,” said Jensen, watching the monitor, “relax for a moment.”

Exhausted and drenched in sweat, Cheryl let go of Jack’s shirt and fell back against the bed, hoping that the next one wouldn’t come for a while; however, in reality, she knew that she probably had a minute, at best.

As those precious seconds ticked by, the sun began to filter through the open slats of the dark metal blinds, enveloping the tiny room in a suffocating heat.  Cheryl pressed the side of her cheek into the edge of the pillow, seeking comfort in the coolness of its cotton fabric as she waited for the inevitable to return.

“It’s almost over,” Jack whispered, brushing a strand of hair from her face.

Incapable of answering him at the moment, Cheryl moved her head up and down in the hopes that it resembled a nod.  Earlier this morning, she had been awakened, from what could only be described as a restless sleep, to find her side of the sheets, as well as the mattress, soaking wet; it was a discovery that had brought her, along with a frantic Jack, to the emergency room.  Now, five hours and ten centimeters later, she lay in a hospital bed—with her legs spread perversely apart—about to deliver her first child.  It was a moment that was as surreal as it was sobering, as the last two weeks had been the hardest she had ever known.

The sound of the baby’s heartbeat echoed off the sterile white walls, causing a surge of desire to suddenly rise and fall inside Cheryl.  She was a firm believer that joy, as well as hope, could come in many different forms, and it was for this reason that she found herself eagerly anticipating the arrival of her daughter.  Her excitement was momentarily shelved, however, as the pain that she had become all too familiar with wrapped itself around her stomach and began to twist it.

“I need one more push,” Dr. Jensen urged.  “Come on, Cheryl…big, big push!”

Grasping the edge of the bedrails, Cheryl waited for Jack to sit her up, and then, with her teeth clenched, she pushed.  She pushed until her legs trembled.

“Okay, stop.”

Cheryl dug her fingernails into the palm of Jack’s hand as the activity at the foot of the bed increased.  Her breath fell in and out of her in jagged fragments as she kept her eyes locked on Dr. Jensen, searching the crevices in his face for the slightest hint of distress, as time—which had been passing all too quickly just moments before—stood utterly still.

A feeble cry sounded, shattering the thick silence surrounding them.  Relief, in the form of a single sob, came tumbling out of Cheryl’s mouth as ten quivering fingers attached to two tiny arms appeared in her line of sight.

Dr. Jensen thrust a small pair of scissors into Jack’s hand.  “Cut here,” he said, pointing.

The blood drained from Jack’s face as he looked down at the bluish braided rope that bound his wife to his daughter.  The color of his skin went from white, to ashen, to gray as the scissors sank into the cord.  Three ragged snips later, it finally relented.

“Great job, Dad.”  Jensen seemed to be smiling behind his mask as he took the scissors out of his trembling fingers.

Dropping his hand, Jack hurriedly retreated to the safety zone behind Cheryl’s right shoulder.

The nurse finished wrapping the infant in a blanket and came around the bed, offering Cheryl a stoic smile as she placed the baby in her outstretched arms.  Pressing her lips to her daughter’s forehead, Cheryl closed her eyes, pausing to give thanks to God for her…and for allowing Jack to be by her side.

“She’s beautiful.”

Opening her eyes, Cheryl forcibly blinked back her tears as she watched Jack caressing the tips of the baby’s fingers with his own.  For one, fleeting moment, he seemed happy—yet before the smile had fully formed upon his face, it began to fade, and she saw the sadness returning to it as the memory of what he had lost settled back into his heart.

Wanting so badly to take his pain away, Cheryl reached up and touched the side of his cheek, but upon feeling his jaw tighten, realized that it was an effort in futility and stopped.  Withdrawing her hand, she shifted her gaze back to her daughter, refusing to let the darkness overshadow this blessed day.

The nurse with the piercing in her chin leaned across the bed.  “Mrs. Collins?  I’m going to take your daughter to the nursery where they’ll get her cleaned up and weighed.”

“Wait,” said Jack, reaching into his pocket.  “Can I get some pictures, first?”

“Of course,” she answered, taking a step back.

Holding the baby close to her cheek, Cheryl sank farther into the pillow and offered Jack a weary smile.  When he had finished with the pictures, the nurse scooped up the tiny bundle and walked away, leaving her arms empty and cold.

Jack stared at the screen a long time before speaking.  “You gave me a beautiful little girl,” he said in a voice that was as uneven as it was broken.

Feeling her own emotions beginning to churn, Cheryl quickly swung her attention over to Dr. Jensen, who was still sitting between her legs, in the hopes of finding a distraction.  She watched with pretend fascination as he placed an instrument, coated in her own blood, on the tray beside him and stood up.

“All done,” he chirped, removing his mask.

Jack cleared his throat but made no motion to move out from behind Cheryl’s shoulder.  “Thanks, Doc,” he said, offering him an appreciative nod instead.

“It was my pleasure, Collins.”  Jensen stripped off his gloves and ran his fingers through a disheveled mop of silver hair before coming around the side of the bed.  “I’ll check on you later, young lady,” he said, peering down at Cheryl with a pair of bloodshot eyes.

“Thank you.”

He wrapped both of his hands around hers and squeezed.  “Be good now.”

“I will.”

After giving Cheryl his trademark wink—which in the beginning she’d found creepy but now had come to anticipate—Jensen turned and disappeared from the room; yet, as the door swung closed behind him, she was unable to shake the feeling that this time he had done it out of sympathy rather than habit.

The older nurse, whose only interest seemed to be that of doing her job as efficiently and rudely as possible, removed the sheet that had been covering Cheryl’s stomach and upper body, causing a shudder to roll across her shoulders as the cool air blowing down from the vent surrounded her.  Out of the furthest corner of her eye, she noticed Jack shifting his feet as the woman began wiping away the blood from her thighs and perineum.  She touched the sleeve of his shirt to get his attention.  “Would you mind calling my parents?  I know they’re dying to hear back from you.”

A look of gratitude, mixed with embarrassment, flooded Jack’s face as he gave Cheryl a small nod.  His blond locks fell against her forehead as he bent down and placed a well-meaning but fragile kiss upon her lips.  “It’s all over,” he whispered.

Cheryl’s sight grew blurry as she watched him turn and walk towards the door with his right arm pressed tight against his side.  The tears that had pooled in the rims of her eyelids silently began to spill down her cheeks.  It was far from over.

Book Blurb

TASC ebook coverGuilt is a powerful thing, and former deputy Jack Collins is mired in it.  Unable to forget the events that have taken place in the town he was sworn to protect, he feels as if he is slowly drowning as he tries to cope with the aftermath of a serial killer’s reign of terror, as well as his new—and unwanted—job as chief of police.

When the body of a young woman, having the same puncture wounds as the serial killer’s previous victims, is discovered, Jack must determine if this is a copycat crime or the work of a possible accomplice—either of which—could put the killer’s only surviving victim in grave danger.

As Jack delves deeper into the murder, his vow to keep the victim safe, combined with the secret he’s been harboring, begins to take its toll.  His sudden inability to confide in his wife, Cheryl, causes their home, which was once a haven for him, to become just another source of tension.

An overzealous news team, a threat from his not so distant past, and a mayor who wants the murder swept under the rug, only add to the pressure surrounding Jack as he struggles to do what’s right on all levels in this riveting, stand-alone sequel to The Monster of Silver Creek.

About the Author

Belinda BWBelinda G. Buchanan is an author of edgy, women’s fiction & mystery.  Her works include, After All Is Said And Done: A Novel of Infidelity, Healing, & Forgiveness, The Monster of Silver Creek, Seasons of Darkness, and Tragedy at Silver Creek.  When not writing, Belinda enjoys spending time with her family that includes her husband and soulmate of twenty-five years, two sons (one who loves her unconditionally and one who loves her only when not in public), and a menagerie of animals.

You can learn more about Belinda by visiting her website.  She loves to talk almost as much as she loves to write, so come chat with her on facebook or twitter.  And if you’re a pinner, join her on pinterest.

You can purchase her books on amazon, barnes & noble, ibooks, and kobo.

Today’s Featured Author – Eric Drouant

Today, I welcome author Eric Drouant to my blog to talk about Remote, his suspense thriller series.

Interview

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I work for a large company in the defense industry. I guess the most notable aspect of that career has been time spent in Iraq and Afghanistan and plenty of travel to places I never imagined seeing.

Where were you born and where do you call home?

I’m a Louisiana boy, born in Baton Rouge and raised in New Orleans. I currently live just north of the Crescent City along with a pack of kids and an even bigger pack of grandchildren.

What is the best and worst advice you ever received? (regarding writing or publishing)

The best advice I’ve ever heard is to just sit down and start writing. Write anything. It might be good or it might be crap, but you can always toss it or revise it. If you don’t do something, you have nothing. I don’t know about any bad advice. I believe you just have to find something that works for you.

What is the best thing about being a writer? The worst?

This is strange but in one of my short stories I found an incredibly original way to kill a character, which is tough to do. I was proud of that. The worst part, for me, is editing and re-writing.

How do you conceive your plot ideas?

Most of my books have begun with only the vaguest idea of what I want to do. As I move further and further into it, I’ll begin to map out a few ideas. These sometimes come to fruition and sometimes fall by the wayside.

Please tell us about your current release.

Right now, I have a three book series titled REMOTE. The first book, ORIGINS, relates the story of their discovery by a government agency and their struggle to escape being imprisoned and used as a weapon in the Cold War. FATAL, the second in the series, becomes a little more personal, but again the characters are faced with tough situations. The ending of this book caught both myself and some readers by surprise. ARTIST is the third in the series and sets the tone for further books by placing Cassie Reynold, the main focus of the first two books, into an entirely new set of circumstances in her life.

Did the story turn out the way you planned from the beginning? If not, what change happened that you didn’t expect?

The biggest surprise to me was the emergence of Cassie Reynold as the focus of the book. The original concept involved her boyfriend, Ronnie Gilmore, as the main character. As I moved through the writing, Cassie became simply overpowering and grabbed the lead without any help on my part.

Is there a specific place in the house (or out of the house) that you like to write?

I write where I can, which is usually at my kitchen table or in a hotel room on the road. If I could pick any place in the world to write, it would be in a small hotel room in Le Havre, France. Large parts of ARTIST were written t here and that location is the place I’ve been most productive. I don’t know what it is but I would go back there in a minute and I know the words would pour out again.

Book Blurb

Origins_Ebook1When CIA operatives discover that teens Cassie Reynold and Ronnie Gilmore possess uncanny psychic abilities, their seemingly normal existence is catapulted into a world of espionage,mayhem, and cold blooded murder.

Set against the backdrop of the Cold War, these two high-value targets are marked as prey for renegade agent Thorne. Capturing them will cement his position within a clandestine world, rife with danger at every turn.

The year is 1973 and the world has changed. The government is on edge, no one more so than rogue CIA operative Thorne. After discovering the pair of New Orleans teenagers and their paranormal abilities, he is determined to capture them and use them to further his own cause, but doing so will not come easily, especially when the pursuit unleashes the deadliest instinct of Cassie Reynold.

About the Author

Eric Drouant lives in Slidell, La just north of New Orleans. Born and raised in the deep south, the author spends a considerable amount of time on the road. His work has taken him to Iraq, Afghanistan, South America, and several European countries. A lifetime of reading led him to newspaper work, web content writing, and finally, a plunge into fiction.

You can buy Origins and the rest of the Remote series on Amazon.

 

Today’s Featured Author: Eric J. Gates

Today I welcome author Eric J. Gates to my blog. His latest thriller, Outsourced, was released in the fall of 2014.

Interview

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m an ex-Consultant who was specialized in Information Technology Security and I used to travel extensively internationally to undertake secret and confidential assignments for my clients. Now I can write about some of the events that I’ve been involved with in my thriller novels – What? You thought they were fiction?

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I don’t think there was a specific moment when I started to think about myself as a writer. By age eighteen (that was the week after the dinosaurs died out) I had already written a full-length spy novel and over 200 short stories. My profession involved a huge amount of ‘wait’ time in airports and hotels worldwide, and this was a great opportunity to write too. Most of what I did during that time in terms of fiction, I consider ‘polishing my craft’. I did have a large number of non-fiction articles published in several languages though. Perhaps, with the completion of my ‘2012’ novel back in 2006, I could be officially called a writer then. The seven books that followed (at the time of writing) seem like a confirmation of my sins.

How much of yourself, your personality or your experiences, is in your books?

My real life has practically been a thriller novel, so there is a huge amount I can draw from in terms of experiences. Occasionally I do allow a trait of mine to escape on the page in the form of a character’s way of doing things, but I have not modeled any specific person in my novels completely on myself. I do have an extensive training in over twenty combat (i.e. not competition-oriented) martial arts too and of course all the fight scenes in my books are based on real techniques, as is much of the computer-stuff I use in the thrillers. Scary, isn’t it? No, I’m not Jason Bourne!

Have you started your next project? If so, can you share a little bit about your next book?

At the time of this interview, I am working on Book four in ‘the CULL’ series. It will be called ‘the CULL – Blood Demon’ and will see a major rift between the two protagonists of the previous books. Katie Lindon is confronted with undeniable evidence her colleague, Amy Bree, murdered one of their team members from Book three. Katie tries to clear up the matter, but is having doubts whether she can trust Amy. Meanwhile she herself becomes the target of someone’s deadly agenda in Rome and Amy, back in Washington, is tasked with investigating who is killing people in the Witness Protection program. Bullets, intrigue and mayhem galore as in the previous three books in the series… oh, and vampires too!

What kind of research did you do for your last book, Outsourced?

Outsourced was a challenging novel to write. You might be mistaken for thinking that as an author of thriller novels, writing about a fictional Thriller Writer would be an easy proposition. Okay, maybe that bit was a breeze, but then I had to complicate matters by adding an ancient Tibetan myth and Quantum Mechanics into the mix. Don’t worry if you are not scientifically-minded; the techy parts are simply explained and don’t get in the way of a great fast-paced romp in New York. I did have to deeply research both the Tibetan angle, and received a huge amount of support from the Dalai Lama’s people, and the physics. But it did have a positive side: if they run out of particle physicists on the Large Hadron Collider, I’m available.

Can you tell us a little about the black moment in your book?

One of the ‘blackest’ moments is when the professional assassin breaks into Phil Beasley’s (the writer) apartment. There we have this stone killer searching the empty apartment (after killing two people to get there) when Beasley turns up. As I was writing this scene, I kept asking myself how I could ramp up the tension even more, so I had the hard-nosed, covert government agent, Bridget Mason, arrive there at the same moment, knowing the killer was present. Chaos ensues! Shots are fired. You’ll be biting your nails with this one.

Did the story turn out the way you planned from the beginning? If not, what change happened that you didn’t expect?

I wanted the tale to have a particular ending yet I decided that everyone was going to double-cross everyone else shortly before this. It’s curious how none of the amazing reviews I am receiving for this novel have yet picked up on the way I incorporated a reference to the cat in the box controversy (you need to read the novel to understand this) in the twists that develop near the end of the book. Was it in the box at the cafeteria, or not? Intrigued? Good, go read the novel! When I decided to play with that little moment, the ending took a slight tangent from what I had originally thought, yet, as my way of writing gives freedom to do things like this, the novel is all the better for it.

If you could be one of the characters from any of your books, who would it be and why?

Well, I’m not going to choose the thriller writer from Outsourced – too many bad things happen to him! Maybe, if a gender-jump is allowed, I could be Katie Lindon from ‘the CULL’ series – she’s an ex-NSA special operator with outstanding computer skills – sounds more like something I could do.

If you could jump in to any book, and live in that world, which would it be?

As I’m slowly revealing in my thrillers, the world where they take place is the same, present day, place and time. There are subtle crossovers in the novels, if you look for them, although I was a little more blatant about one of these in Outsourced, it wasn’t the only one in the book. It’s the world we live in today, just with a ‘touch of strange’.

Do you have a specific snack that you have with you when you write?

As someone born in the UK, I have discovered I am genetically unable to write unless a constant supply of strong Tea is at hand. A few donuts help too.

If you could meet two authors, who would you pick and why?

I would love to meet again the late John Gardner. I had the privilege of meeting him and corresponding with him when I was starting out on the writing road and his advice was so clear and useful, I still follow his guidelines today. I’d love to be able to thank him personally for the writer I have become; he had a lot to do with how I developed my own style of thrillers over the years. The other person is Charles Dickens. He’s someone whose combination of great tales with deep social comment has always impressed me.

Tell us a random fact about you that we never would have guessed.

Well, I’ve already mentioned the martial arts, so that’s not completely surprising. How about I love to cook? I lived in hotels my parents managed when I was a young lad and used to haunt the kitchens and have kept up my interest in cooking. I’ve never been formally trained as a chef but my Boeuf en Croute with Marsala Sauce has garnered a serious reputation, even though I say so myself! And as a bonus fact I’ll mention I’ve collected over 28,000 recipes from places I’ve visited too. Is a cookbook in the future? Maybe another thriller with a chef as protagonist? Provisional title – Killer Cookies! Time will tell.

Book Blurb

OutsourcedOutsourced features a New York-based writer of thriller novels who receives a mysterious package from a fan. That fan turns out to be a professional killer. That’s just the start of the writer’s problems; problems that escalate way beyond anything he could have imagined on the pages of his novels, as death and destruction follow rapidly.

Just when matter cannot get any worse for the novelist, he learns a high-tech Intelligence agency has been tasked with obtaining the contents of the package too, and they will stop at nothing to achieve that goal. They have their own global agenda. The agent assigned to the task is out of her depth working on US soil and her methods are unsuited to a civilian environment. As pressure mounts for her to achieve results, she becomes more and more radical in her approach.

And, if that’s not enough… the sender wants it back, and his methods are even more direct and violent! He believes the contents of the package were used to try to kill him and his aim is to recover them and exact his revenge on the writer.

About the Author

eric gatesEric J. Gates has had a curious life filled with the stuff of thriller novels. Writing Operating Systems for Supercomputers, cracking cryptographic codes under extreme pressure using only paper and pen and teaching cyber warfare to spies are just a few of the moments he’s willing to recall. He is an ex-International Consultant who has travelled extensively worldwide, speaks several languages, and has had articles and papers published in technical magazines in six different countries, as well as radio and TV spots. His specialty, Information Technology Security, has brought him into contact with the Military and Intelligence communities on numerous occasions.

He is also an expert martial artist, holding 14 black belt degrees in distinct disciplines. He has taught his skills to Police and Military personnel, as well as to the public.

He now writes thriller novels, drawing on his experiences with the confidential and secret worlds that surround us.

You can find out more his website and blog. You can also follow him on Twitter.

You can purchase Outsourced on Amazon.

Today’s Featured Author: Mark Terry

Today I welcome author Mark Terry to my blog.

Interview

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m a full-time freelance writer, editor, author and ghostwriter. I just turned 50, and am married with two sons, and a dog named Frodo. I’ve written about 20 books—I guess I should count them up, huh?—and probably about 700 magazine articles. When I’m not writing I study Sanchin-Ryu karate (I’m a black belt). I also work out at the gym, bike, and play guitar a bit. I live in Michigan.

Have you started your next project? If so, can you share a little bit about your next book?

The next book is a Derek Stillwater thriller. Its working title is VENGEANCE. I can tell you it starts in Syria, moves to Baltimore and Washington, DC, then to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, which is where I am at the moment. It’s like the typical Stillwater novel in that it has a lot of action and suspense, that it deals at least on one level with terrorism—Derek is an expert on biological and chemical terrorism—and Syria’s chemical weapons, but on other levels I’m peeling back Derek’s personal life a bit more, letting him face a possible career change, maybe developing a romantic life. I expect he’ll travel to Russia, Israel, and Egypt, and possibly to Switzerland in this book.

Do you write full-time? If so, what is your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?

I do. I’m usually at my desk by 7:30 or 8:00 each morning. I work until 10:00 or 10:30, then workout and have lunch. Then I’ll typically work until 5:30 or 6:00. Each day is different. Last year (2013) I spent a huge chunk of my time on a ghostwriting project, an historical novel I’m collaborating on, as well as my own novels. I’m the editor of a technical journal and I also write a lot about healthcare, so the rollout of Obamacare kept me busy. I also spent more time last year doing editing work on other novelists’ work.

What is the best and worst advice you ever received? (regarding writing or publishing)

Write what you know, is probably the worst advice, although it’s not really bad. I would argue the better version of it is, Write what you’re interested in and research it. A lot of times people know a lot, but they’re not terribly interested in it or the subject itself might be a little boring or drama-free for a typical novel. (Write what you know, on the other hand, is excellent advice for nonfiction short-form writing, which is where most of my income comes from).

Best advice was actually from a former agent, which was: Think more, write less. I think it’s great advice. Because although there’s a lot of good that can come from going with your gut instincts, it can waste a lot of time, too. And sometimes the first thing that pops into your head is not actually the best way to go.

Please tell us about your current release.

The most recent book is CHINA FIRE. It’s a thriller, as most of my novels are, but this one introduced a new character, Monaco Grace. Monaco is a Chinese-American who works for a Special Projects division of the CIA. You could think of her as James Bond with ovaries. She’s not exactly an assassin, but you might say that’s in her job description. In CHINA FIRE a CIA undercover agent in Beijing disappears and she is sent in to find him. Pretty soon she’s on the run with an American college professor, trying to stay ahead of an Chinese organized crime group, Chinese military intelligence, all while trying to figure out what happened to the missing agent. Lots of action, lots of intrigue, plenty of exotic locales and a tiny bit of romance, or at least sex.

What inspired you to write this book?

This book does have a bit of a troubled history. I wanted to write an espionage novel with a female main character. I came up with the character of Monaco and started work on it, but got bogged down on the research. Almost the entire book takes place in Beijing and that’s a big and complicated place. So I gave up on it, although I really liked the character and the idea. At one point I sent it off to a friend of mine, Natasha Fondren, who is really into spy fiction, plus she does all the layout for my books through her company, eBookArtisans. She read it and begged me to finish it. Well, I ignored her for a year or two, although I’d go back and nibble away at it. Finally I just got to a point where I said, You know what? The character’s good. The story’s good. Get over your insecurities and finish the damned thing. And I’m glad I did. I really like it.

Which of your characters is your favorite? Do you dislike any of them?

I’m not sure I have a favorite, although I would say my favorites are Derek Stillwater, Monaco Grace and Austin Davis. Austin Davis, to-date, has only appeared in one book, HOT MONEY, but he’s definitely one of my favorites. Although Derek and Monaco are very smart, they’re also action heroes in a lot of ways. Austin, who has a physical side, is quite the reverse. He is a political consultant in Washington, DC, but his real job is to solve problems for politicians. He’s sort of a private eye whose clients are all politicians. As he says, he knows where the bodies are buried, often because he’s the one who buried them. I’m slowly working on a second book featuring him and enjoying it. Lots of witty dialogue, plenty of action and intrigue, but more about figuring out a complicated political mystery. In some ways he’s the character that’s least like me, and in some ways he’s the most like me. And yes, I do plan on writing another Monaco Grace book.

Did the story turn out the way you planned from the beginning? If not, what change happened that you didn’t expect?

Let’s talk about CHINA FIRE for this one. I would say yes and no. I wanted it to be more straightaway espionage than the typical Derek Stillwater novel, which tends to be more action-adventure-ish. And it is, but what I didn’t really expect with CHINA FIRE was that a big part of the book revolves around determining the reliability of the classified information acquired. That is to say, Monaco Grace, while investigating what happened to Peter Lee, acquires coded information on a flash drive that Peter had. Once she gets hold of it and has the time to look at it, she and everyone else in the CIA and State Department has to decide whether it’s reliable. And Monaco knows she didn’t lie about the information, but she doesn’t know if Peter Lee did, or if the person who gave it to her did, or if someone else in government did. And the CIA people don’t completely trust that Monaco might have planted the information—it’s that explosive. I struggled with this a lot, partly because I had to make up my mind whether the information was accurate and who was behind it, which had a significant impact on the plot. So it was a lot like playing chess, thinking 5 or 6 or 7 moves ahead and seeing the ramifications of each move and where it would take the story.

If you could be one of the characters from any of your books, who would it be and why?

Ha! Well, probably not Derek Stillwater. He gets beat up, blown up, shot, poisoned, tortured and generally put through the wringer every book. Maybe Austin Davis. He makes a lot of money, lives in a penthouse apartment, eats out at fabulous restaurants, and is typically the smartest guy in the room. He also has a perverse sense of humor, which I happen to share. I think Austin has more fun than Derek—Derek’s trying to save the world, but Austin’s more interested in solving people’s problems for a high price. Austin is doing exactly what he wants to be doing and is enjoying the hell out of doing it. Derek in particular, but Monaco as well, often have a lot of issues with what they do for a living. My wife pointed out to me that Derek’s seen too much and as a result is pretty neurotic. He often wishes he weren’t fighting terrorists, but was living the quiet life of an academic with a house in the suburbs and a wife and children.

If you could jump in to any book, and live in that world, which would it be?

Oh, I think I would fit right into Harry Potter’s world if only I had a little magical ability. Alas, I’m a Muggle.

Book Description

China Fire #3Monaco Grace is the CIA’s top troubleshooter for all matters Asian. When an undercover agent, Peter Lee, goes missing in Beijing, her job is to find him. But almost as soon as she walks off the plane she finds herself on the run with American professor Alan Richter as members of the military, a Chinese organized crime group, and China’s intelligence agencies pursue her and the information Peter Lee left on a flash drive — information that could topple governments and change the balance of power in the world.

About the Author

Mark Terry is the author of the Derek Stillwater thrillers, THE DEVIL’S PITCHFORK, THE SERPENT’S KISS, and THE FALLEN, as well as several standalone thrillers, including DIRTY DEEDS, CATFISH GURU, and DANCING IN THE DARK. Born in Flint, Michigan in 1964, he graduated from Michigan State University with a degree in microbiology and public health, which has informed his Derek Stillwater thrillers and other fiction. After spending 18 years working in clinical genetics, he turned to writing full time. When not writing or reading, Mark Terry is a gym rat, lifting weights, biking, running, kayaking, studying Sanchin-Ryu karate, and playing the guitar. Otherwise he spends his time with his wife and two sons in Michigan.

You can find out more about Mark on his website.

You can purchase China Fire on Amazon.