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geraldfreemanGerald Freeman left England at the age of 19, bored with his prospects and in search of something to do with the rest of his life. He hitched around Europe for  seven years, allowing fate to guide the way and he very soon realized there could never be enough years to do all the things he wanted. Gerry would like his writing to inspire people to go out and follow their dreams, instead of settling for a life that is under stimulating and does not allow them to reach their full potential. Gerald also expresses himself through sculpture, but the objective is the same: to meet and identify with people all over the planet and share experiences about the enigma of life.

Q: Congratulations on the release of your latest book, Kill Daddy. What was your inspiration for it?

A: After spending two years living with the African people in Kenya and Uganda, I returned to live and work in Portugal. I quickly discovered that people were genuinely interested in my journey and would ask me all the time the same question: What was Africa like? For some months, I tried my best to paraphrase a roller coaster of emotions and events into an intelligent and considered answer, and I just could not do the countries, or the people justice. I, therefore, decided that I had to tell the whole story. 

Q: Tell us something interesting about your protagonist.

A: Well, I would say I have lived an interesting life. I travelled for many years, using my drum as a bag and hitch-hiking as my mode of transport. I saw so many crazy and wonderful things, and lived with so many different people that I have memories and stories to tell, for years to come. My life on the road taught me not to believe in coincidences, and I am a strong believer in our spirituality.

Q: How was your creative process like during the writing of this book and how long did it take you to complete it? Did you face any bumps along the way?

ImageA: Kill Daddy began as an adventure story, and it was great fun reliving all those crazy moments in Africa, even the ones which were horrific at the time. However, halfway through the book, I realized I was telling only half the story. The part which was missing was, why I went wandering around the world on my own, in the first place. It was boring to have to relive some of those moments I had spent years blocking out, but I have to be honest if I want others to value my work. It was written and rewritten over a period of two years. 

Q: How do you keep your narrative exciting throughout the creation of a novel?

A: I try not to have too many lulls and by combining different facets. For example, something exciting can happen, but also something exciting can be said, or heard, or implied and so on. I am becoming more skillful at this with practice. 

Q: Do you experience anxiety before sitting down to write? If yes, how do you handle it?

A: I have not suffered with this, so far. If I feel uninspired, I force myself to write one sentence and then it all comes flowing. 

Q: What is your writing schedule like and how do you balance it with your other work and family time?

A: I write during the day Mon-Fri and squeeze bits in over the weekends. I am lucky, in that my wife and I have found a good balance. 

Q: How do you define success?

A: I feel successful because I have found my soulmate, and because I am with the right woman, I feel that everything which follows is part of our destiny together. I also cannot look back and say I wish I had done things differently. Of course, there are isolated incidents I regret, but overall, I am happy with the path I chose. 

Q: What advice would you give to aspiring writers whose spouses or partners don’t support their dreams of becoming an author?

A: To be honest, I find it difficult to imagine any artist being able to live with someone who doesn’t support them, for very long. 

Q: George Orwell once wrote: “Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.” Do you agree?

A: I completely agree that there is a force within you telling you to do what you do, and to ignore it would be like denying your true destiny, and life is much too important to me to do that. 

Q:  Anything else you’d like to tell my readers?

A: I hope people can relate to the issues covered in my stories, and that they are inspired to live the lives they dream of. I also hope, I can raise awareness in certain areas, and perhaps even do some good.

Connect with the author on the web:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00FQQBV2O/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w20AAAje07U

http://geraldfreeman.blogspot.pt/

http://gerryaldridgedesign.dinstudio.se/

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Kill-Daddy/443631555746921

https://twitter.com/gerryaldridge   

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7352126.Gerald_Freeman

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R. Barri Flowers is an award winning criminologist and internationally bestselling author of more than sixty books–including thriller and suspense fiction, relationship fiction, young adult mysteries, true crime, and criminology titles.

Bestselling mystery and thriller fiction, including SEDUCED TO KILL IN KAUAI, MURDER IN MAUI, MURDER IN HONOLULU, KILLER IN THE WOODS, DARK STREETS OF WHITECHAPEL, STATE’S EVIDENCE, PERSUASIVE EVIDENCE, and JUSTICE SERVED.

Author Photo R Barri FlowersOther novels by the author include the bestselling relationship novel, FOREVER SWEETHEARTS, and young adult novels, COUNT DRACULA’S TEENAGE DAUGHTER, GHOST GIRL IN SHADOW BAY, and DANGER IN TIME.

Flowers has also written a number of bestselling true crime books, including THE SEX SLAVE MURDERS, THE PICKAXE KILLERS, SERIAL KILLER COUPLES and MASS MURDER IN THE SKY. He was editor as well of the bestselling anthology, MASTERS OF TRUE CRIME.

The author has been interviewed on the Biography Channel and Investigation Discovery.

Official Website: http://www.rbarriflowers.com/

Q: Tell us why readers should buy BEFORE HE KILLS AGAIN: A Veronica Vasquez Thriller.

A: BEFORE HE KILLS AGAIN is a crime thriller written by an award winning criminologist and bestselling author of such true crime books as THE SEX SLAVE MURDERS and thriller fiction, including MURDER IN MAUI and DARK STREETS OF WHITECHAPEL.

This book is about an FBI profiler and criminal psychologist who returns to her hometown of Portland, Oregon, to assist the police in tracking down a serial killer, who murders beautiful women in pairs.

As someone who has written extensively about real life serial killers, BEFORE HE KILLS AGAIN brings verisimilitude to the perpetrator and his psyche as he pushes the boundaries in handpicking his victims.

For readers who love thriller fiction where the villain is a frightening serial killer who matches wits with the beautiful protagonist and homicide detectives on the case—or are fans of TV series such as Criminal Minds, Dexter, and Hannibal-– this is a novel you are sure to enjoy.

Q: What makes a good thriller novel?

A: A good thriller novel is one in which there is a constant sense of danger and a suspenseful whodunit, with three dimensional characters who bring you along for the ride as they converge for a heart pounding conclusion.

Within this regard, the thriller should also convey a strong plot with smart twists and turns and deft pacing that will allow the story to play itself out while keeping the reader thoroughly engaged.

Some great thrillers that come to mind include Robert Ludlum’s The Aquitaine Progression and John Grisham’s The Pelican Brief. I believe that BEFORE HE STRIKES AGAIN also fits in this category.

Q: What is a regular writing day like for you?

A: A regular writing day for me involves getting up at 6 a.m. and heading to my computer at 7 a.m. (after an hour of working out and having breakfast)—where I spend the next five hours writing and rewriting my latest book.

After a noontime lunch and chores, I am back at it by 1 p.m., where I go at it on computer till 5 p.m. (sometimes 6 p.m., if really on a roll), typing away in faithfully sticking to the plot in my head.

I call it quits for the night after that and am back in the grind the next day.

This is a routine I follow seven days a week. I am the type of writer who is not easily distracted by other things—understanding that I get out as much as I put in as an author.

Q: What do you find most rewarding about being an author?

A:  What is most rewarding to me as an author is being able to successfully write in multiple genres (thriller, true crime, young adult mysteries, and criminology). As such, I have fans in these different genes, giving me a good reason to try and keep up with them in bringing out fresh material they can take pleasure in reading.

Aside from that, I enjoy the camaraderie with other authors, having found some great friends over the years to seek advice and words of wisdom from while returning in kind.

Q: What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever received that you’d like to pass to other authors?

A: That’s a great question. Hmm… I’d have to say that the best writing advice I’ve ever received and have passed along to other authors came from a bestselling crime writer who told me when I first got started: “The thing that separates serious writers from those who aren’t in it for the long haul is the ability to shake off rejections and look at as constructive criticism rather than personal attacks—making yourself a better writer in the process with each rejection letter.”

Definitely words to live by for any writer willing to work at it to hone your craft till you get where you’re going in finding success in the business.

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Before He Kills Again_Cover

Book Description:

From R. Barri Flowers, award winning crime writer and international bestselling author of Dark Streets of Whitechapel and Killer in The Woods, comes a gripping new psychological thriller, Before He Kills Again: A Veronica Vasquez Thriller.

FBI psychologist and criminal profiler Veronica Vasquez returns to her hometown of Portland, Oregon to assist police in apprehending a ruthless serial killer dubbed “The Rose Killer,” who kills beautiful women in pairs, leaving a rose on top of each corpse.

Heading the investigation is homicide Detective Sergeant Bryan Waldicott. Veronica must win him over, along with the entire task force, and prove herself worthy of the job. Since losing her husband three years ago, Veronica had been focused on her work to escape the pain of loneliness and separation. A romance with Waldicott, who has issues of his own, complicates things for them both as they try to stop a serial murderer before he kills again.

When she begins to suspect that the new husband of her estranged sister Alexandra could be the killer, Veronica pursues that delicate angle and, in the process, becomes a target herself.

Before He Kills Again is tense thriller that will keep readers on edge till the very end.

 Purchase:

Amazon Trade Paperback / Kindle /Kindle UK / Kindle CA / Barnes and Noble Nook eBook / Smashwords / Kobo

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Before He Kills Again_CoverBook Description:

From R. Barri Flowers, award winning crime writer and international bestselling author of Dark Streets of Whitechapel and Killer in The Woods, comes a gripping new psychological thriller, Before He Kills Again: A Veronica Vasquez Thriller.

FBI psychologist and criminal profiler Veronica Vasquez returns to her hometown of Portland, Oregon to assist police in apprehending a ruthless serial killer dubbed “The Rose Killer,” who kills beautiful women in pairs, leaving a rose on top of each corpse.

Heading the investigation is homicide Detective Sergeant Bryan Waldicott. Veronica must win him over, along with the entire task force, and prove herself worthy of the job. Since losing her husband three years ago, Veronica had been focused on her work to escape the pain of loneliness and separation. A romance with Waldicott, who has issues of his own, complicates things for them both as they try to stop a serial murderer before he kills again.

When she begins to suspect that the new husband of her estranged sister Alexandra could be the killer, Veronica pursues that delicate angle and, in the process, becomes a target herself.

Before He Kills Again is tense thriller that will keep readers on edge till the very end.

My thoughts:

Before He Kills Again is indeed  a very entertaining read, one of those suspense thrillers that will keep you turning pages late into the night. At least, this was my case. I finished it in 2-3 days, as I couldn’t put it down. The heroine, criminal psychologist and FBI profiler Veronica Vasquez, is a sympathetic character, smart and independent but with a gentle side. I found all the information about serial killers fascinating, and thoroughly enjoyed all the setups, twists and red herrings devised by the author. Just when you think you know who the killer is, something happens to deter you from suspecting. The love story between Veronica and Homicide detective Bryan Waldicott  adds some spice without getting in the way of the mystery. The novel does have some graphic violent scenes, so if you’re squeamish about this sort of thing, be warned.

If you’re a fan of thrillers about serial killers, you should pick this one up!

Purchase:

Amazon Trade Paperback / Kindle /Kindle UK / Kindle CA / Barnes and Noble Nook eBook / Smashwords / Kobo

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ImageTitle: Eversworn

Author: Hailey Edwards

Series Title: Daughters of Askara

Release Day: June 26, 2012

Publisher: Samhain Publishing

Genre: Fantasy/Paranormal Romance 

Buy Links 

Amazon            B&N 

Blurb 

Steal the salt. Bind the grimoire. Escape the male. 

Daughters of Askara, Book 3 

When an exchange of stolen goods in the Feriana marketplace turns sour, Isabeau stumbles from the encounter bruised and laden with new orders to complete an even larger heist. With her child’s life at stake, there’s no room for error—or allies. 

Armed with a lethal book of spells, she strikes a dangerous bargain with Roland Bernhard. Steal a shipment of salt from the Feriana colony, and she’ll have her freedom—and her daughter. It’s all she’s ever wanted. At least it was…until she runs into Dillon Preston. 

Dillon is out of commission after a mine explosion, and itching for a distraction. He gets it when the female who saved his leg arrives at the colony with nothing but flimsy excuses and even flimsier attire. She’s after something, but is it him—or the salt? 

Trapped in a desperate bid to gain true freedom, Isabeau is willing to sacrifice her life for her daughter’s, but Dillon has other plans. He wants a package deal, and he’s not willing to lose either female, even if it means the future king of Sere’s head will roll. 

Warning: This title contains a heroine desperate to save her daughter and a hero determined to make them a family. It also includes wings, horns and other assorted appendages.  

Excerpt:

Chapter One

Realm of Askara, City of Feriana

Runes burned hot across my wrists where slave bands were inked into my skin. Inhaling the rich mélange that was Feriana on market day, I wished I was anywhere other than here, anyone other than me. Shifting my bag, I patted the bulge weighting its bottom. Good. It was still there.

As it had been the last five times I’d checked.

Guilt flavored each swallow to wet my throat. Remain calm. Impossible when my tattoos stung persistent warning. You have what he wants. All will be well.

I choked on a dry laugh. All was never well. Those who penned fairytales should be stabbed through the heart with their quill.

Pretending interest in the fresh produce, I surveyed the crowd. He was here, but where?

“Isabeau?” A firm hand tugged at my sleeve. “I asked what you thought of these dates.”

I spared them half a glance, then continued skimming the crowd. “You’ve chosen well.”

Lindsay’s smile lit the corner of my eye, and regret tugged at my conscience. She deserved more attention than I could afford to give her. I’d make it up to her later, assuming I had the chance. Procuring supplies wasn’t a priority for me, though I knew it should be. Right now, other worries occupied my mind. Such things as how willing I was to use defensive glamour if I must.

As the telltale burn of building magic scalded my palms, I supposed I’d made my choice.

Another tug at my arm swiveled my head toward Lindsay.

“I’d like to search the scarves, if I may. I had hoped to purchase a mating gift for Emma.”

Emma. What would she think if she knew my reason for being here?

Tugging at my collar, I swallowed past the sensation of her strong fingers wrapped about my throat. As acting consul of Askara, she’d wring my neck for this betrayal, and I would deserve it.

Living at the consulate with her, putting my healing craft to good use, helping ex-slaves begin new lives in either the city ofFerianaor its colony…I loved that life. And it was all a lie.

Glamour crackled over my skin, but the only things I concealed were the black spell-crafting runes inked from my forearms to my fingertips. Still, the static shock of power coating my skin led others to believe my concealment was more than cosmetic, a misconception I let flourish.

Given my consulate position, most assumed I was a female Evanti hiding in plain sight.

They were wrong.

“Go.” I indicated my favorite stall. “Enjoy yourself.”

“I will.” Swiping flaxen hair from her eyes, Lindsay cast me a broad grin. Despite being a halfling, she resembled the Askaran side of her parentage more than the human. “I promise I won’t touch anything I don’t intend to buy, and I won’t break anything.” She rushed to add, “If something happened, by accident, I’d pay the damages from my wages.”

“You’re fine.” I shooed her. “I trust you.”

Trust was a broad word. Lindsay wouldn’t break any of the wares on purpose, but she was a halfling mastering self-control late in life. Enslaved in an outland mining camp since birth, she’d had no need for learning social graces, only the art of survival. Relying on the brute strength that characterized her breed saved her from playing the role of camp whore. Now she wanted more, better, and as someone familiar with the other half of the equation, I wanted that for her as well.

Hissing as my skin throbbed with renewed heat, I gasped as the impression of male lips and teeth left their damp sting on my bare neck. Roland. Sultry whispers caressed my ears, beckoned come unto your master, and I was helpless not to obey his summons. Pressure from his phantom fingers compelled me toward a figure coalescing in the shade of a billowing tent. Swirling tendrils of power cloaked him from passersby and elicited a shiver of recognition from me. Inclining his head, he acknowledged me, and his smile made my pulse race with the stirrings of genuine fear.

Fighting the urge to check my bag, I dove into the crush of bodies, and they engulfed me.

When I reached the spot where Roland had stood, he was gone.

“You kept me waiting.” Hot breath hit my nape before he shoved me against a sandstone wall. My shoulder bounced as Roland pressed into me. His hand snaked around my waist, teased the underside of my breasts, squeezing before slipping under the flap of my bag. “Is this all?”

“It’s what we agreed upon.” I winced. “Where is my proof?”

“Are you so eager to be rid of me?” He pressed a string of kisses down my throat. “Well?”

Yes. My voice was a husky rasp. “Is bedding you a requirement for obtaining my proof?”

His chuckle caused my gut to clench. Nothing good came of his laughter.

“I prefer my partners willing.” A lie wrapped in a pretty half-truth. He was accomplished in magic, as all those trained by Sereian priests were. Glamour, the root of his power, twisted minds to suit his whims. I knew, because mine bore the spiral imprint of his amusement. “Here is the proof I promised you.” He slid an envelope in my bag and waited. “Aren’t you going to open it?”

I wouldn’t give him the satisfaction of witnessing my reaction. “I trust you.”

Trust was a broad word indeed.

“This is exquisite,” Roland murmured. I glanced over my shoulder in time to see him hold his prize aloft. A fist-sized chunk of embolite sat heavy across his palm. “You did well, but this is no longer enough.”

Stomach roiling, I pushed from the wall and said again, “It’s what we agreed upon.”

“We agreed once I had control of the mine, your services would no longer be required.” His grip on the sample whitened his knuckles. “The entire point of freeing you to work for Emmaline was to monitor the Feriana colony’s mining operation and the Evanti controlling its distribution.” He struck before I saw him swing. Jagged rock hit my cheek and sliced it open. “Such an arrangement no longer benefits me since Emmaline has mated the Evanti in charge and is more protective of Harper than ever. Since he won’t negotiate for exclusive rights to the mine, alternate means of procurement are required.” His gaze met mine. “Wouldn’t you agree?”

I swallowed past the pain. “What do you have in mind?”

“We are eager today, aren’t we?” He pocketed the embolite. “Somewhere you’d rather be?”

Anywhere other than here. “No.”

“Good,” he said, smiling, “because you’re going on a trip.”

“I am?” I glided a wary step back.

“How is that Evanti you tended?” He appeared thoughtful. “I believe he’s called…Dillon.”

My pulse spiked at the mention of his name. “I don’t know. I haven’t seen him in weeks.”

He measured me for a moment longer, and I wondered why he had mentioned Dillon at all. The wounded Evanti demon had spent weeks under my care at the consulate before returning to the freemen colony on the outskirts of Feriana.

Withdrawing a handkerchief from his pocket, Roland dabbed my split cheek. “During those weeks, nothing happened between you?”

I sensed a trap but was unable to locate its mechanism. I stilled myself against the urge to strike his hand. My blood allowed his glamour to work on me no matter what our proximity. A single drop, a murmured spell, and he could find me, taunt me, anywhere. His illusionary kiss was benign compared to the power blood sparked in our connection. But why ask if something happened between Dillon and me…?

Mortification tightened my chest. “You’re a bastard.”

Of course he would spy on me, and my behavior around Dillon made heat creep up my neck.

“I assure you, I’m not. Bastards can’t become kings. You’re Sereian.” He stalked me until I backed into the wall. “You’d do well to remember Askara’s antislavery laws don’t apply to you.”

As if he ever let me forget.

When his gaze fixated on my mouth, I reminded him, “You cast me aside years ago.”

“Still bitter are we? I’m in the market for a wife.” He cupped my cheek. “And you,” he said, so near his lips brushed mine, “are a whore.” His thumb swiped over the fresh wound he’d given me, and my wince resulted in a low growl of approval from him. “Albeit, you’re a talented one.”

“You have what you came for.” I gritted my teeth as he pressed on the cut. “Leave me.”

“Not quite and not yet.” He painted my lips with blood, its copper tang curling my tongue. “As I said, the terms of our agreement must be altered. As a token of appreciation for pleasure you once gave me, for the loyalties I still enjoy, I’m offering you a chance at earning freedom.”

I gave the ringing in my ears a chance to subside. “What are your terms?”

“I want a full shipment of salt delivered to my estate.” He patted the pocket where his core sample resided. “I don’t mean this. I have no use for embolite in the rough. I want the processed salt.” He waved a dismissive hand. “The silver portion of the shipment is unimportant. Keep it if you wish. Use it to finance your new life.” His sigh rang with displeasure. “It will mean showing restraint, but it will suffice. I must have the salt. Do you understand? It’s of critical importance.”

I blinked. “Are you mad? I’d have to steal direct from the colony, and there’s an enormous difference between me pocketing core samples after they’ve been tested and hijacking an entire caravan.” I leaned into the wall for support. “The former goes unnoticed, the latter is…suicide.”

One life exchanged for the good of many. It was Harper’s credo, and I was not of the many.

“I’m sure you’ll think of something,” he murmured. “I heard Emma and Harper are visiting their siblings, on Earth.” I gave him no confirmation. He had no way of knowing where they had gone, and I wasn’t about to tell him. “They’re no doubt spreading their happy news.” His motive became clearer. “That leaves your patient in charge of the colony in Harper’s absence. I’m sure two such friends can find understanding. After all, he owes you for saving his leg, doesn’t he?”

What he implied made my cheeks burn. Of course he would spend me so cheaply.

Still, despair and hope warred within me. “And if I manage this feat…”

He tapped my wrists, and fresh pain flared. “Then you will be freed.”

I lifted my chin. “My freedom is not the only price I require.”

“So I assumed.” His pause left me breathless. “Deliver the salt, and the girl is also yours.”

A pent-up breath whistled between my lips. “Give me your word, and it’s done.”

Words held power. Breaking his promise would weaken that power. Roland wouldn’t risk it.

Not around me.

“My word is given.” He turned and black mist shrouded him. Then he was gone.

As the sting in my slave bands lessened to a dull throb, I sagged against the wall. The girl is yours. With trembling fingers, I reached into my bag and withdrew the envelope. Tucked into the crease was a lock of auburn hair with a slight curl at the end. Fishing into a different pocket, I withdrew a similar strand and compared the lengths. One hung slightly longer than the other. I held it to my nose and inhaled the violet-scented strands until hot, useless tears pricked my eyes.

I knew this was a disaster in the making, but he’d baited his trap too well for me to resist.

Footsteps warned me in time to hide my bribe. Past the wall, I spotted Lindsay barreling toward me, scanning the area where Roland had stood seconds earlier. She ducked past the tent.

“Are you all right?” She grabbed my chin and tipped my head back. “What happened?” Her voice took on a dangerous edge. “Your poor face.” She noticed my bag. “Who did this? A thief?”

“Yes.” In a manner of speaking, he was. I choked on the insane urge to laugh, to scream that freedom was within my reach, but I tamped it down. “The thief took something dear from me.” I wiped away my tears. “Don’t worry. I will get it back.” Taking her arm, I led her from the alley into the sun. I basked in its heat. Let it chase the chill of Roland’s presence. “Are you finished?”

“I—” She frowned at my eager tone. “Yes. I suppose I am.”

“Good.” I compensated for the slip with a wobbling smile. “Let’s go home.”

I had plans to make.

 

 

Different worlds, different colonies, but still the same damn meetings.

Responsibility weighted the air on this side of the desk. Each inhale settled heavily in Dillon’s lungs. He’d much rather occupy his usual spot by the tent flap, his gaze trained on the dunes beyond than wear the mantle of interim colony leader. Harper hadn’t done Dillon any favors by yoking him to the colony bandwagon, asking him to lead with fanfare in his absence.

Rolling his shoulders, he cast aside the niggling suspicion Harper had made the appointment out of pity. Another time he might have gloated when Harper brought in two males a quarter of his age as his replacements. Instead, it made him feel every day of his ninety-eight years. No dancing around it. He was getting old, even by their race’s standards. He should be finding a female, settling down, doing his duty to pump fresh blood, pure blood, into their dwindling race.

His leg twinged when he shifted in his seat, a reminder of how he ended up paper-pushing in the first place. Pinning his shoulders to the back of his chair kept him from leaning down and rubbing the dull ache in his calf, or where his calf used to be. His jaw tightened. No need to go there. Not now. Not while two fresh faces were staring him down, looking for signs of weakness.

While drumming his fingers on his knee, he inspected the two newest transplants from Earth. Two young males eager to taste what Askara had to offer, curious to see if their memories of enslavement held up against the new reality of this being a kingdom of freemen. Their optimism made him cringe. Then again, he’d seen the files the freeborn legion had kept on them.

They had both belonged to the sthudal slave caste, and slaves with that designation recalled their time spent in labor camps with fewer nightmares than those who wore the title of sthudai.

Dillon knew which life he would have chosen.

Better to break his back in a mine, die of hunger or thirst, than live on the end of a chain like a f**king animal, fed and watered only when his performance merited such a reward. Bile rose in his throat. He swallowed hard and ground his heel into the packed sand floor. Ruined muscle screamed in protest, but the burst of agony was his reward, his reprieve from the memories always a stray thought away from choking him. Yeah, he would have loved to have been sthudal.

Figuring he’d kept the pair waiting long enough, Dillon asked, “You two have any questions?” He lifted a cup and swallowed its tepid contents down to the grit in the bottom. His teeth crunched when he set his jaw. Damn, he’d be glad when the new aqueduct was completed.

“Yeah.” Church eyed the tent flap warily. “Is there anything out here besides sand?”

“Sure there is.” Dillon suppressed a grin when Church’s shoulders relaxed. “Didn’t you see all the tents? That’s why the colonists call this place tent city. The only buildings with walls are the clinic and the stable. You’ll get acquainted with those soon enough.” Harper would strangle him for adding, “You two arrived just in time for the winter sandstorm season. When they hit, all we can do is pack ourselves like sardines into those buildings and pray the spell crafting holds.”

Church cast one more glance past the flap to the desert beyond. “Great.” He twisted in his seat and eyed the male beside him. “Russ, you got any last requests before we’re blown away?”

Russ’s smile was faint. “What are our duties while Harper’s away?”

Scratching his cheek, Dillon admitted he wasn’t sure what to do with the pair. Until his leg mended, he was on light duty, in theory. These two had prior experience, as most legionaries did, so they knew the basics of guard duty. The rest, training them as bodyguards, hinged on Harper and Emma’s return since Dillon was a big believer in learning in the field. Sink or swim.

Until that happened… “You’ve got two choices. Our courier is swamped. One of you can train with Mason. He deserves the break.” He paused in consideration. “The other can train with Uriah, our silversmith. He oversees the extraction of silver and salt from the embolite we mine.”

At their blank expressions, Dillon exhaled on a curse. Their files expounded the fieldwork each had done for the freeborn legion, and each had service records spotless enough he felt Harper would be safe with them, but his decision to skim their locational information had just jumped up and bit him on the ass. “Where were you two working when the legion found you?”

“The outlands,” they replied in unison.

Okay, so maybe he had read their information right. “Were you in the mines?”

“No.” Church frowned. “I was a brickmaker by trade. I still am, or was, on Earth.”

Ah. That explained why Harper had picked him. As the colony expanded, so did the need for structures beyond tents they used for, well, everything. Dillon sized up Russ. “How about you?”

Russ held up ink-smudged fingers. “I was a scribe employed by an exiled noble.”

A scribe was, well, less useful. Dillon asked, “Do either of you know what progesaline is?”

“Females need it during pregnancy.” Church shrugged, signaling the end of his contribution.

Russ appeared to consider his answer. “Progesaline is a supplement females of some demon breeds require during pregnancy. Without it, they become anemic. They might die before or during childbirth, as could the children, unless they consume enough to maintain healthy levels.”

Dillon blinked. Maybe having a scribe around wasn’t such a bad idea.

“It’s found in rare salt veins,” Russ continued. “While I’ve never heard of it being found in veins of embolite, it’s certainly possible. I’d think the problem would be extraction.” He paused at Church’s scowl. “Embolite is a mineral containing both salt and silver in their natural forms.”

“Someone did his research.” Otherwise, he wouldn’t have guessed embolite over chlorargyrite. Dillon gave Russ a slow second glance. There was something familiar about him.

Russ frowned. “I’d hardly accept the position otherwise.”

“So what gives?” Church twisted in his seat. “How did Harper get such a sweet deal?”

“I’ll hazard a guess the queen’s advisors signed over this tract of land for two reasons.” Russ waited until Dillon nodded. “First, it shares a city with the vernal castle, which means it’s near enough forFirst Courtto monitor and close enough for the queen’s troops to attack if necessary.”

“Go on.” Dillon caught himself leaning forward.

“Second, the mine had potential, enoughFirst Court’s gift appealed to Harper and their offer wasn’t insulting. Though I bet they assumed even if he was foolhardy enough to work the mine, he wouldn’t figure out how to process the embolite and separate the silver and the salt from the core mineral. Yet he did, and he likely doubled his profits.” Russ smiled slowly. “Am I right?”

“Damn.” Church whistled. “That explains the raiders, plus the bounty on Harper’s head.”

“Right on both counts,” Dillon said, forcing his attention from Russ.

He was right, though Dillon and Harper were just drawing the same conclusions. They had guessed the only reason the queen’s advisors had given consent for Harper to take over the mine was they were certain there was nothing here worth mining. Now that Harper had proven them wrong? Yeah, they were pissed and wanted a share. Damn if Dillon didn’t find that a little bit funny.

“This colony pays its bills with the mine, and, as Russ said, we mine embolite.” No two ways about it, Harper must have told Russ. “It’s damn hard work and not worth much in the rough, if anything at all. Then Uriah works his magic and we get pure silver and pure salt. Six times more silver than salt, but silver has its uses and our salt, well, it’s almost pure progesaline.”

Russ murmured something Dillon didn’t catch because Church stood with a grunt.

“So do we pick now or what?” His back popped as he stretched. “Mason or Uriah, right?”

Good to know Dillon wasn’t the only one bored by meetings. “Yeah, have at it.”

Church didn’t miss a beat. “I’ll take Uriah.”

Dillon almost felt sorry for him. While they were the obvious match, Uriah burned through apprentices faster than he could match faces to names. Not that he tried too hard. Mostly he called them all the same thing, dier hest eirdth or eirdth for short, which was the Demonish equivalent of dirt. Those under his tutelage chose to believe he meant they were clay and he was molding them into…whatever struck their fancy. Dillon suspected Uriah meant the more literal translation of ground beneath my feet. His attitude explained why even his ex-masters had given him a wide berth. The male was a god at his forge, and he knew it. The fact a story was floating around about him flinging molten silver in the face of an Askaran noble had cemented his reputation as a bastard. Something Dillon could respect. So long as Uriah did his job, Dillon didn’t care.

“That leaves me with Mason.” Russ slanted a look toward Church that punctured his mood. “If I’m playing courier, then I guess I’ll find out if there’s any life beyond those dunes after all.”

“Now that we have that settled,” Dillon said, giving Church time to school his glower, “you’ll each pull border patrol and sentry duty. That won’t change even after Harper gets back.”

Russ frowned. “We won’t alternate day and night shifts?”

Church stilled. “Harper needs someone watching his back at night too.”

“He has someone.” Dillon stood, Church’s restlessness feeding his own. “Her name’s Emma.” Before they earned enough rope to hang themselves, he silenced their protests. “One of you will remain on perimeter duty after dayshift ends. That means frequent passes by their tent. The trick is being close enough you can keep an eye on Harper—and Emma—while giving them the illusion of privacy.” He admitted grudgingly, “No one’s more invested in Harper’s wellbeing, and few are more capable of ensuring his safety. Plus few realize what she is before it’s too late.”

Once they moved past the honeymoon period in their relationship, Harper might not need a guard beyond his mate. Emma was a halfling, stronger than most full demon males, and Harper had trained her to protect her sister, Askara’s Princess Ascendant Madelyn DeGray, since they were children. If it meant protecting Harper and Maddie, there was nothing Emma wouldn’t do.

Dillon ignored the tightness in his chest and sharpened his scowl. He wasn’t jealous.

“Fair enough.” Russ pushed from his seat. “Where do you want us?”

“Head back to your tents for now. I’m handling border patrol tonight.” No reason not to while Harper wasn’t here to bench him. “I expect to see both of you here at six.”

Russ’s gaze dipped toward Dillon’s leg, his brow furrowing, but he kept his mouth shut. Good. He just might make it here after all.

“The faster you learn your way around, the better.” Dillon crossed the tent and brushed aside the flap. “I want you two broken in by the time Harper and Emma get back.”

His first step outside blinded him. Hot air rushed into his lungs, baking them, and his tongue dried in the time it took for his mouth to open long enough to say, “Welcome to Askara, boys.”

Author Bio 

Hailey is a wife turned mother turned writer, who loves her husband, her daughter and alone time with her computer. Whenever southern living strikes her as too ordinary, she can be found squinting at her monitor as she writes her next happily-ever-after or with her nose glued to her Kindle’s screen. Wings and/or cupcakes are usually involved… 

She loves to hear from readers. Drop her a line here

You can also swing by her blog or subscribe to her newsletter for all her latest news. 

Author Links 

Website: http://haileyedwards.net/ 

Blog: http://haileyedwards.net/blog/ 

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/authorhaileyedwards 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/HaileyEdwards

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ImageThe process Brandon and I have set up for ourselves is quite easy. We first come up with an idea for the story, the characters, their backgrounds, etc. Once the major details have been agreed upon, one of us writes the first chapter, let’s say it’s me. I then send it to Brandon so he can critique it. He then sends the chapter back to me filled with all his comments, to which I critique his critiques. Once we’re both happy with the chapter then he works on chapter 2. And the whole process repeats itself until we’ve finished the entire novel.

Though Brandon and I have developed a good working relationship, we also know co-authoring a story is not for everyone. The creative process is very personal, and some people have a hard time receiving negative feedback from someone else. But that is what needs to happen if they are to have any chance of finishing their novel.

For us, there have been the inevitable disagreements along the away, such as deciding on the structure of a particular scene, the way a sentence should be written, or the kinds of personality traits we want for a character in the novel.  In the end, the overall vision for the story is what mattered, to make it as exciting as we possibly could.  That always trumped the other’s feelings about the way a scene should be written or what to leave in or cut out of the story.  Usually, when one of us shared our reasons for why a certain part needed to be a certain way, especially when he felt pretty strongly about it, the other would usually defer to him, and then we would move on. In the end, the story always ends up being that much stronger because we both embrace the collaborative effort.

About the book: An 800-year-old letter discovered at an archeological site in Istanbul makes the astonishing claim the cross of Jesus still exists, and has been safely hidden away in an unknown location. Dr. Colton Foster and Dr. Mallory Windom, two leading archeologists, take on the hunt for the cross, but soon discover hired mercenaries are bent at stopping them at all costs. Their search eventually leads them to a small town in Israel, where they must choose between their growing love for one another and the future of the cross itself.

ImageAuthor’s bio: Mike Lynch’s first book, Dublin, came out in 2007, followed by When the Sky Fell, American Midnight, The Crystal Portal, and After the Cross. His next novel, Love’s Second Chance, will come out in 2013. He has also published numerous short stories in various magazines. He currently lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with his wife and two children.

Link to author’s website or blog: www.mikelynchbooks.com

Link to excerpt: http://www.mikelynchbooks.com/PreviewChapters/tabid/66/Default.aspx

Link to purchase page: http://www.amazon.com/After-Cross-Brandon-Barr/dp/0982624204/ref=pd_rhf_p_t_1

 

 

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Award-winning, first-time novelist Marisel Vera pens an honest, heart-felt, often sad tale of an idealistic, naïve Puerto Rican girl named Felicidad who goes to America to be with the man she loves.

The story, told from an author omniscient point of view, begins in the early 1940’s in the Puerto Rican countryside and ends about ten years later in Chicago. It follows Felicidad’s life from the time she’s a young jíbara living in appalling poverty in the mountains to the time she gets married and moves to America.

Young Felicidad lives in a tiny shack with her parents and siblings. Her father works in the fields and can barely support them. At times, Felicidad must be happy with only one meal a day. Their living conditions are so deplorable, she must tie her locks in a bun so that flying roaches in the latrine will not make a nest in her hair. Her sister dies because they can’t afford medical care. But worst of all, her mother is losing her mind. Unable to face the situation they’re in, one day her mother climbs naked onto the roof. The priest, of course, says she’s possessed by the devil.

Then Felicidad is sent to another town to live with her uncle and his wife, who own a panaderia. Though her uncle is kind and quiet most of the times, her aunt finds every opportunity to criticize Felicidad and treat her like a servant. Felicidad, naïve and good-natured, does her best to put up with her. She slaves in the panaderia and remains submissive, but she dreams of a prince who will love her and ‘rescue’ her one day. Years pass and Felicidad doesn’t hear a word from her family. She misses them terribly and would like nothing more than to visit them, but she wonders if the feeling is reciprocated and, afraid of rejection by her own flesh and blood, she stays away from them.

One day, a handsome man walks into the panaderia and Felicidad is swept off her feet. Aníbal Acevedo, a man of the world as far as women go, is taken by Felicidad’s innocent beauty. To everyone’s shock, a few days later, he asks her to marry him. Felicidad is ecstatic, filled with idealistic illusions of happiness, but is Aníbal capable of fulfilling his dreams, when he has another woman waiting for him in Chicago?

Marisel Vera’s prose flows beautifully. In a skillful, often blunt manner, she paints a painfully realistic picture of the jíbaro. In a way, Felicidad’s story is a Cinderella story but with an unusual twist. The two protagonists, Felicidad and Aníbal, come to live through the pages, each one so very distinctive from the other. It is especially fascinating to be inside Aníbal’s mind and see the world from his perspective, a brutal contrast to Felicidad. Their love story is bitter sweet. But most of all, the author gives us a powerfully sad glimpse of the jíbaro in the 1950’s in Chicago, their difficult lives and tribulations, the prejudice they had to confront. Vera is definitely a new Latina voice to be reckoned with, and I look forward to reading more of her work.

IF I BRING YOU ROSES
By Marisel Vera
Grand Central Publishing
http://www.HachetteBookGroup.com
ISBN-10: 0446571539
ISBN-13: 978-0446571531
Format: Trade Paperback
Pages: 351
Price: $13.99/$15.50 in Canada
General Fiction

Visit the author’s website at http://www.mariselvera.com/

Purchase from Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/If-I-Bring-You-Roses/dp/0446571539

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