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Naked in Havana Book Blitz

We welcome Colin Falconer, author of the romantic suspense, Naked in Havana to The Dark Phantom!

Naked in Havana 7

Title: Naked in Havana

Author: Colin Falconer

Publisher: Coolgus Publishing

Pages: 164

Genre: Romantic Suspense

Format: Paperback, Kindle

BUY LINKS:

Available in Paperback and Kindle at Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/Naked-In-Havana-Series-ebook/dp/B00FKHRVB4

Available at Barnes and Noble:

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/naked-in-havana-colin-falconer/1117006722?ean=2940148432647

Available at iTunes:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/naked-in-havana/id719056316?mt=11

Available at Indiebound:

http://www.indiebound.org/book/9781621251026

Book Summary:

18 year old Magdalena Fuentes is lying naked next to her perfect lover when he tells her he is marrying someone else. It is soon clear her destiny lies with another man, even though she says she doesn’t believe in fate.

But fate doesn’t care whether we believe in it or not…

Havana, 1958. Magdalena Fuentes knows that Angel Macheda is the only man for her, even after he takes her virginity and then tells her he is engaged to someone else. She knows they are meant to be.

So why can she not stop thinking about Reyes Garcia? From the moment I saw you, he says, I knew there would be no one else.

From the moment I saw you, she tells him, I knew you were arrogant, conceited and rude.

Magdalena is a girl who will not let sentiment stand between her and love. But as Fidel Castro’s rebels tighten their grip around the city and she watches her family and her whole life come apart, she learns hard lessons about love and about life.

Against the backdrop of the boleristas and the gangsters, the music and the guns, Magdalena discovers just how dangerous love can be.

Naked in Havana is the first in a three part series, a sprawling epic of passion and destiny, stretching across three decades and two continents.

Excerpt:

You want Havana?

I’ll give you Havana.

I have Havana right here, in this old photograph album I keep up here on the bookshelf. It’s a little tattered and the photographs are all black and white, I can’t even see them these days without my glasses. But it’s the most precious thing I own, apart from my wedding ring. Reyes had to smuggle it out for me. I don’t have much else left of those days. I left Cuba with the clothes on my back and not much else.

Here’s my papi. Isn’t he handsome? He’s standing outside his nightclub, the Left Bank, down on La Rampa. I was sixteen then. Yes, stunning – that’s what everyone says. Being beautiful is a blessing and a curse. When you’re young you think you own your beauty like you think you own your youth. You don’t realise that you’re just borrowing both and that someday life will come to take them back. Perhaps I would have done things differently if I was smart enough to know that.

Or perhaps not. What a lowdown, spoiled bitch I was. You really want to read this? Don’t. Do yourself a favour, find some other book to read, because I swear, you’ll want to throttle me when you learn the things I did. But I learned my lesson. Take some comfort in that; life paid me back, in full.

Here’s my mother. I didn’t know her well. She died when I was ten. We are on the Malecón, by the sea wall, back in the early fifties before everything went to hell. Look how she’s holding me. She must have loved me but I can’t even remember her face now, not without this photograph to remind me.

People treat you like a princess, because they love you, because you’ve lost your mother. And because your daddy’s rich, you think it’s always going to be like that. But life always finds a way to keep us honest, that’s what I found anyway.

And if life doesn’t, death will.

But I got lucky. Reyes Garcia came along, and changed everything.

But first there was Havana.

About the Author:

Colin Falconer

Colin Falconer was born in North London, and spent most of his formative years at school playing football or looking out of the window wishing he was somewhere else.

After failing to make the grade as a professional football player, he spent much of his early years traveling, hitch-hiking around Europe and North Africa and then heading to Asia.

His experiences in Bangkok and India later inspired his thriller VENOM, which became a debut bestseller in the UK and his adventures in the jungles of the Golden Triangle of Burma and Laos were also filed away for later, the basis of his OPIUM series about the underworld drug trade.

He later moved to Australia and worked in advertising, before moving to Sydney where he freelanced for most of Australia’s leading newspapers and magazines, as well as working in radio and television.

He has over 40 books in print. HAREM was an enormous bestseller in Germany and THE NAKED HUSBAND was only kept out of the number one spot in Australia by Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code. AZTEC stayed on the bestseller lists in Mexico for four months. He is a bestseller in Europe and his work has sold into translation in 23 countries around the world.

He travels regularly to research his novels and his quest for authenticity has led him to run with the bulls in Pamplona, pursue tornadoes across Oklahoma and black witches across Mexico, go cage shark diving in South Africa and get tear gassed in a riot in La Paz. He also completed a nine hundred kilometre walk of the camino in Spain.

He did not write for over five years following personal tragedy but returned to publishing in 2010 with the release of SILK ROAD and then STIGMATA. His historical novel ISABELLA was an Amazon bestseller last year.

His likens his fiction most closely to Wilbur Smith and Ken Follett – books with romance and high adventure, drawn from many periods of history.

His latest book is the romantic suspense, Naked in Havana.

Visit his website at www.colinfalconer.org.

Connect & Socialize!

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?????????????Chuck Waldron’s latest novel, Lion’s Head Deception, is a dystopian story about an investigative blogger who uncovers more than he ever imagines…and has no idea what to do with his discovery.

An investigative blogger uncovers a sinister conspiracy, a billionaire’s plan backed by select government officials, designed to exterminate citizens who do not live up to a predetermined screening matrix; under the guise of rioting and a destabilized city, the plan is implemented and the blogger fights not only to discover and reveal the truth, but to survive.

“I grew up,” Chuck said, “listening to my grandfather, an Ozark Mountain story teller, spinning tales of the caves on his farm, describing them as hiding places once used by the Jesse & Frank James’ gang. It didn’t matter if the stories were true or not. Those legends set fire to my imagination, creating images that emerged slowly over the years, finally igniting as my short stories and novels.”

Now, thirty-plus short stories and three novels later, ideas keep coming, with more novels under development. Do they share anything in common? Each has its own unique voice and tale to tell, yet, at their heart, his stories tell about the human condition – the good, the bad and the ugly.

As Chuck tells it, “stored images that echo in my writing include train whistles in the night, Norman Rockwell childhood scenes, U.S. Army memories, blue collar jobs, university, a professional career, and finally retirement. Many of my images are drawn from this pool of memories: places visited, sights seen, and people met. The rest I fill in with my imagination: dreams of places yet to be visited, sights yet to be seen, and people yet to meet.”

His literary roots were planted in the American Midwest and thrived when transplanted to the rich, cultural soil of Ontario. He and his wife, Suzanne, are now warmed by the sun on Florida’s Treasure Coast.

His latest book is Lion’s Head Deception.

Lion's Head DeceptionWould you call yourself a born writer?

Born to write, maybe?  But, there were a lot of twists and turns on the journey to becoming a writer. Alas, I wasn’t born one. What my parents passed along was a work ethic and permission to use my imagination. Those are the skills I need as a writer. It would have helped if I paid closer attention to my days as an English student.

What was your inspiration for Lion’s Head Deception?

Writing a thriller about a conspiracy, a billionaire’s plan backed by secret government officials, to exterminate citizens to do not live up to their predetermined screening matrix, the deception part of the title seemed to fit. I set part of the novel in Ontario’s Bruce Peninsula near Lion’s Head, a prominent feature on the Niagara Escarpment.

What themes do you like to explore in your writing?

In Lion’s Head Deception  I wanted to explore what would happen if some of our core values were threatened; freedom from arrest without cause and privacy. I also wanted to feature a character who was not a superhero, but someone who has to draw on the necessary inner strength to move ahead.

How long did it take you to complete the novel?

It took longer than my first three novels, just over a year. It was sweaty work and I smile when I look at my original first chapter draft.

Are you disciplined? Describe a typical writing day.

Am I disciplined? I have to say to a degree. When the characters are speaking to me I have to follow their lead. When I’m having trouble thinking through a scene or chapter I find a long walk is a big help. I try to write every day and when the plot bunny is nipping at my heels I can write for hours.

What did you find most challenging about writing this book?

I think it was facing issues that are disturbing, especially giving voice to characters who would be willing to destroy our freedoms to shape a world they prefer.

What do you love most about being an author?

The freedom to enjoy my imagination is what I love most. It’s a way to escape into fantasy without guilt.

Did you go with a traditional publisher, small press, or did you self publish? What was the process like and are you happy with your decision?

Indie publishing has been my choice for all four of my novels.

Where can we find you on the web?

Visit me at www.chuckwaldron.com and don’t be shy about looking for Lion’s Head Deception and my other novels at the usual online sources.

 

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Becky DueBecky Due is the new voice of women’s fiction. She has the courage, honesty and writing style for today’s busy women, and she does not cringe away from hard issues. She will leave you feeling strong, self-confident, independent, and in control of your life.

Her books have won, and been finalists in, several independent competitions including the 2011 National Indie Excellence Awards, 2010 Indie Excellence Awards and the 2009 IPPY Awards.

Her novels are not the same story with different characters; she has the ability to cross genres from light-hearted romance to heart-racing suspense to keep her readers entertained and inspired.

Becky has been a guest on national TV and radio programs, and the subject of numerous newspaper and national magazine articles for empowering women with her books. She has served as a guest speaker at Women’s Resource Centers, Shelters, Colleges and High Schools throughout the United States. Becky has had extensive training at Victim Services, worked the 24-Hour Sexual Assault Crisis-Line and was a Victim’s Advocate where she offered one-on-one assistance and support to rape victims. In 2007, she started Women Going Forward, the first national women’s telephone support group, which ran for almost two years. After receiving much recognition for her books, Becky’s focus turned back to her writing and empowering women with her novels.

Her latest book is the women’s fiction, Traveling for Love: Searching for Self, Hoping for Love.

Visit her website at www.BeckyDue.com.

Connect & Socialize with Becky:

TWITTER | FACEBOOK

 

Traveling for Love lgWould you call yourself a born writer?

Yes. Writing is my life. I didn’t realize that writing was such an important part of me until my late twenties, although there were signs along the way. I wish I had listened to my teachers (and my gut) when I was younger. I remember, in seventh grade, thinking, “Maybe I should be a writer.” I’m not sure why I waited so long, maybe I needed to accumulate some life experiences… and I have. J

What was your inspiration for Traveling for Love: Searching for Self, Hoping for Love?

I hate to admit this, but I wasn’t feeling good about myself in my own marriage so I created Amanda and I went on the journey with her. I wanted to write a romance, something uplifting, but romance novels seem so far from reality.I needed her, as a forty year old, to go through what many of us go through in our twenties. She needed some heartache before discovering who she was and what she really wanted.

What themes do you like to explore in your writing?

I love all topics of women’s issues. I think most women are such nurturing givers that we often forget to take care of ourselves and give back to ourselves. All of my novels cover issues of empowerment, and encourage women to make themselves a priority.

How long did it take you to complete the novel?

Well, because I’m not a multi-tasker, once I know the basics of my storyline and I’m ready to write it, I write. I do nothing else. But like all of my books, Traveling for Love took years of experiences. I loved writing this story, it was a fun and crazy rollercoaster. Fortunately, through the process I learned a lot about myself, my choices and my marriage.

Are you disciplined? Describe a typical writing day.

I was disciplined while writing Traveling for Love, but I have to say, I’m struggling a little with the novel I’m working on now. I took a year off from writing because I was going through some life changes and I’m trying to get back into the swing of things. But typically, on a good writing day, I wake up around four or five in the morning, make coffee and start writing before I have my first sip. I lose all sense of time until around ten o’clock at night when I’m exhausted and force myself to go to bed. On my uninspired days, like what I’m currently going through, I find distractions—I can’t write today; I have to cut back the shrubs, clean the basement or buy a bike—seriously, the excuses I come up with are ridiculous. I do think off days are good for me, and during those days I’m writing in my mind, taking notes, talking into my phone recorder and putting my ring on my other finger to remember some important point I need to make in the story. I’m convinced that I can’t have good writing days if I don’t have a few unproductive writing days.

What did you find most challenging about writing this book?

Amanda, the main character, changed a few times—I changed her age and some of her choices. I wanted her to struggle with love, career and her truth, as so many of us do.In the beginning of the story, which is the ending of her marriage, Amanda doesn’t know who she is or what she wants and it takes her some time, a couple different men and some life experiences to figure that out.

What do you love most about being an author?

I love everything about being an author, even the torturous parts. I love creating stories and I especially love when people read and enjoy my stories. There is nothing better in the world. Though I have many friends, I’m kind of a loner, somewhat introverted. To me finding my passion and becoming an author was all about finding the place where I fit in. Being an author allows me to honor my introspective personality.

Did you go with a traditional publisher, small press, or did you self publish? What was the process like and are you happy with your decision?

It seems I did everything backward. I started by looking for an agent and going the traditional route with my first novel, The Gentlemen’s Club. I had 8 interested agents but they alltold me to have the manuscript professionally edited. I couldn’t afford a professional editor so my book sat on a shelf until I was in a better financial position. A couple years had passed and I didn’t want to start over again, looking for an agent, so I began working with an editor, started my own publishing company, and published several books. Traveling for Love is the first book published by another company. Because of the changing times in publishing, this has been a wonderful move for me. Luckily, I maintain all the rights and can control the price point of the ebooks, which I happily made available for only 99¢. I’ve also published all of my novels on audio; I love to listen to novels while I’m stuck in traffic. Although I have moved toward the eproducts,loving the quick ease of receiving a book I want to read within seconds, my books are available in paperback. I still love to hold a book in my hands. I’ve never been happier with the business side of writing because I’m able to focus on my favorite part—writing.

Where can we find you on the web?

I’m on Twitter and Facebook, I have a website with great information and I also blog empowering, inspiring postsa couple times a week. Oh, and if you join my Facebook page you’ll automatically receive my blog posts and you’re automatically entered to win free books in our monthly giveaway.

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Carol Nicolas lives in northern Utah (USA) with her husband. A native of Canada, she attended BYU-Idaho (formerly Ricks College) and obtained a bachelor’s degree in education from Brigham Young University (Provo, Utah USA). A teacher, mother of five, wearer of silly socks, and fan of sci-fi/fantasy books and films, she enjoys growing herbs and vegetables, painting, and researching her family history. She likes rock, pop, Celtic and classical music. She has traveled throughout Europe; her favorite city there is Paris, though the romance of Venice is a close second. She speaks American English (with a Canadian accent after she has been talking with her Canadian family on the telephone for just a few minutes), as well a basic modern Greek, which she studied for 4 years to be able to communicate with her husband’s family on their bi-annual trips to Greece. Her deepest secret: she hides chocolate in her desk for emergencies!

Her latest book is the YA paranormal, The Sixth Power.

You can visit Carol’s blog site at http://carolnicolas.wordpress.com

Carol NicolasWould you call yourself a born writer?

I’ve always been fascinated by storytelling in all its forms, but I started writing stories and poems as a teenager.

What was your inspiration for The Sixth Power?

I had the most interesting dream about three siblings sitting together in a crowded room, and the older sister and brother were breathing for their little sister.  When I woke up, I thought, Hmmm.  That would make a good story.  So I began to write.

What themes do you like to explore in your writing?  

I explore love, good versus evil, heroism, responsibility, growing up, forgiveness, healing from trauma, developing talents, love…

How long did it take you to complete the novel?

From the first time I dreamed about the characters to the day The Sixth Power was published, it was five years, but I didn’t work continually on the same story.

Are you disciplined? Describe a typical writing day.  

I can’t say I’m disciplined, as my regular life seems to encroach on my writing time way too much.  But here’s my schedule:  get up, have breakfast, get son off to school, exercise, tidy house, write, lunch, write, pick up son, run errands, make supper, eat, do dishes, write, go to bed, read, sleep.  If I had no other distractions, I’d probably spend almost all day writing.

What did you find most challenging about writing this book?

The biggest challenge was learning how to take constructive criticism, because whenever someone made a suggestion on what wasn’t working or needed to be changed, my initial reaction was, “NOOOO!”

What do you love most about being an author?

I love the process of creating characters and putting them into situations, and then just seeing where they go from there.  They take on a life of their own.  It’s really fascinating.

Did you go with a traditional publisher, small press, or did you self publish? What was the process like and are you happy with your decision?

I self published.  Marketing is a whole different animal from writing, and it requires a different set of skills.  Thanks to my wonderful husband, I haven’t had to shoulder all of the marketing myself, but I would gladly let a traditional publisher handle it next time.  However, the trend seems to be for authors to do more of their marketing, so perhaps it’s a good thing I started out this way.

Where can we find you on the web?

web/blog

http://carolnicolas.wordpress.com

Facebook

http://www.facebook.com/carolnicolaswriter

Twitter http://www.twitter.com/carolcnicolas

Goodreads http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6906036.Carol_Nicolas

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The Sixth Power

About the Book:

Tania Westing, a high school senior, is one of the Gifted Ones, descendants of an ancient family with seven special powers. Some of the powers are common, and some are rare.

Until her geneticist brother Tom was murdered, Tania lived an ordinary life. Now hidden in her mind is a clue that will reveal Tom’s research, including secret formulas to unlock all seven powers. During spring break, Tania meets and falls in love with handsome Dan Maclean. When Tania reveals her rare power to heal, the evil Gifted Ones who killed Tom suspect Tania has his research and formulas and come after her. Tania must learn to use her powers to help save Dan’s sister in time to keep Tom’s secrets safe.

Purchase your copy:

AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE

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Watch the Trailer!

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Today on The Dark Phantom is non-fiction author Dennis N. Griffin, whose latest book, Cullotta, is about the life of a controversial Chicago criminal. Leave a comment at the bottom of this post in order to be eligible to win a free copy of his book at the end f the month. To see his other stops, please visit the Pump UP Your Book Promotion Virtual Tours site

The Author:
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Dennis began writing in 1996, following a 20-year career in investigations and law enforcement in New York State. He currently has six fiction and three non-fiction books published. His non-fictions are about Las Vegas police and organized crime history. His latest release (July 1, 2007) is CULLOTTA – The Life of a Chicago Criminal, Las Vegas Mobster, and Government Witness.

You can visit his website here.

The Blurb:
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From burglary to armed robbery and murder, infamous bad guy Frank Cullotta not only did it all, in Cullotta he admits to it—and in graphic detail. This no-holds-barred biography chronicles the life of a career criminal who started out as a thug on the streets of Chicago and became a trusted lieutenant in Tony Spilotro’s gang of organized lawbreakers in Las Vegas. Cullotta’s was a world of high-profile heists, street muscle, and information—lots of it—about many of the FBI’s most wanted. In the end, that information was his ticket out of crime, as he turned government witness and became one of a handful of mob insiders to enter the Witness Protection Program.

“Frank Cullotta is the real thing,” says Nicholas Pileggi in the book’s Foreword, and in these pages, Cullotta sets the record straight on organized crime, witness protection, and life and death in mobbed-up Las Vegas.

Excerpt:

Murder in Las Vegas

At approximately 4:30 a.m. on October 11, 1979, a dead man was found floating face down in the swimming pool of his residence at 2303 Rawhide Avenue in Las Vegas. He’d been shot in the head several times by a small-caliber handgun. The corpse was that of 46-year-old Sherwin “Jerry” Lisner. His wife Jeannie, a cocktail waitress at the Aladdin, found the body. She’d left work early after becoming concerned when her husband failed to answer her telephone calls and made the grisly discovery.

According to investigating police officers, Lisner had put up quite a fight. Bullet holes were discovered throughout the inside of the dwelling, and blood was found on the walls and floor leading from the garage, through the residence, and out to the pool. Although the house had been ransacked, the cops didn’t believe robbery or burglary was the motive. They declined to speculate on the reason Lisner was killed, but they did have a theory on how the murder went down. The killer, or killers, knocked on the garage door, surprising Lisner. When he answered the knock, the shooting started. Although wounded, the victim attempted to escape his assailant, running through his home, the would-be killer in close pursuit and bullets flying. After a valiant effort to survive, Lisner’s luck ran out when he reached the pool. No murder weapon was found and no suspect named.

But the police had their suspicions on the why and who of it. They knew that the dead man had mob connections and was in legal trouble. He’d been arrested by the FBI on July 11 and charged with interstate transportation of stolen property, aiding and abetting, grand larceny, and conspiracy. Free on $75 thousand bail, Lisner was scheduled to go on trial October 29 in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C.

Lisner was also believed to have been acquainted with Chicago Outfit enforcer and Las Vegas organized crime kingpin Tony Spilotro. And it was rumored that the deceased had been negotiating with the FBI to work out a deal in the cases pending against him in Washington. Could those negotiations have included providing incriminating information against Spilotro, one of the FBI’s prime targets?

Metro investigators knew all this and suspected that Spilotro might well be behind the killing. However, they couldn’t immediately prove their suspicions and kept their thoughts to themselves.

As it turned out the cops were pretty close to the truth in their idea of what occurred at Lisner’s house that night. But they were wrong in that Lisner had not been surprised by the arrival of his killer, he had been expecting him. And the victim had drawn his last breath in his living room, not outside by the pool.

There was no error in their belief that Tony Spilotro was behind the murder, however. When the soon-to-be dead man answered his door that evening he invited his murderer inside. In a matter of moments the visitor began to fire a total of ten bullets aimed at his host’s head, with several finding their mark. The assassin wasn’t Tony Spilotro himself, but he was there at Tony’s behest. The man was Spilotro’s trusted associate who ran a crew of burglars and robbers known as the Hole in the Wall Gang. His name? Frank Cullotta.

What reviewers are saying:

“Griffin’s flat, unemotional yet potent writing makes the bloodletting, murders and mayhem chilling and unnerving throughout.”
–Publisher’s Weekly

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Today I’m pleased to have on the spotlight Scottish author Maureen Fisher, who is on a virtual book tour promoting the release of her paranormal romantic suspense, The Jaguar Legacy. Leave a comment at the bottom of this post in order to be eligible to win a free copy of her book. To see her other stops, please visit the Pump UP Your Book Promotion Virtual Tours site.

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Maureen talks about herself…

“The skirl of bagpipes still brings a wee tear to my eye. An only child, torn by well-meaning parents from my beloved Scotland at the age of seven, I sailed to Canada, kicking and screaming. I immersed myself in the imaginary world of books for ten years, surfacing only to attend school (boring) and eat (much, much better). Unfurling my wings at the University of Toronto, I studied Fine Art between social engagements. Shortly after graduation, my first marriage precipitated a move to Ottawa where I succeeded in convincing the federal government to hire a Fine Arts specialist as a fledgling computer programmer. After a rocky start in the world of bits and bytes, I discovered bridge, downhill skiing, and women’s canoe trips.

“Three years of deciphering hex dumps (probably not what you’re thinking), wrestling with card decks, and developing computer programs to generate financial statements for the federal government convinced me that there must be a better world out there somewhere. Happily, I found it as a full-time homemaker and mom, raising two wonderful sons, orchestrating countless dinner parties, playing bridge, and reading romance novels. Eight years later, I plunged back into the business world to start a thriving management consulting business in partnership with my second husband. This marriage survived because my husband and I pledged never to work on the same project again. Ever.

“After a century in the consulting world, the joys of wearing snappy power suits, squeezing into panty hose, fighting rush hour traffic, and pushing elephants up mountains (metaphorically speaking) lost their appeal. I still didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up, but was certain it wasn’t a consultant. An avid fan of romantic suspense, I announced to my long-suffering husband, “I’m going to write a book.” A five-day course entitled “How to Write a Novel” was sufficient, I figured, to quit my day job, so I rolled up her sleeves and started to write. Fifteen rejections, six tons of chocolate, and ninety-five re-writes later, Lachesis Publishing acquired my prizewinning paranormal and first book, THE JAGUAR LEGACY.

“Between as many exotic trips as we can afford, my husband and I live in Ottawa where I volunteer for an addiction family program, paint landscapes, play bridge, and slave several hours a day over my computer to improve my writing skills.”

Visiter her website.

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Blurb:

Despite baffling panic attacks that devastated her career, journalist Charley Underhill barges in on a Mexican archaeological dig, bent on sniffing out a juicy exposé that will restore her reputation and earn enough money for her mother’s life-saving treatment.

Haunted by past betrayals, Dr. Alistair Kincaid isn’t about to let a smart-mouthed reporter leak word of his latest discovery, an ancient Olmec city, to the press.

A battle of wills and wits ensues. Strands from a past life intertwine with the present, drawing the couple into a vortex of chilling evil. Torn between redeeming her soul and betraying the man she loves, Charley faces impossible choices.

Excerpt:

Wracked with chills and nausea, the high priest lay on the stone floor of the sacred space, curled into a fetal ball. The fire flickered in the stone-ringed pit, its feeble flames barely dispelling the inky darkness.

His agony was more than the old familiar price of a drug-fueled trance. The communion with his bestial god had already shown him far more than he had ever expected, ever dreamed of, ever dreaded. Death approached, padding towards him through the jungle on sure, silent feet, just like the Master of Darkness, the Jaguar God he worshipped. A worm of apprehension writhed in his belly. His end would be violent and bloody. And it would be soon. Too soon.

Shuddering, he dragged himself to a sitting position and added fuel to the glowing embers. He had not yet finished with those flames — the same flames that had disclosed his death. The twigs caught hold. A sudden flare of temporary brilliance banished the crouching shadows, blacker than the far side of midnight. “This time, I shall harness your power to serve my purposes,” he whispered on a long, slow breath. “This time, you shall disclose the identity of my successor before all is lost.”

He chewed another peyote button and swallowed the pulp. Bile pooled in his mouth, leaving a bitter aftertaste, but the drug transported him deeper into his trance. Something inside expanded, and once again, dark energy surged into his body. He stared into the fire, knowing the flames would only provide the answers he sought if he could ignore the encroaching darkness that waited to pounce. He stiffened his spine. “Show me the answers I need,” he commanded, satisfied with the renewed note of authority in his voice.

In response, the flames parted to disclose the image of a woman.

He studied her face, shocked by a jolt of recognition. Sparked by the irony of his successor’s identity, a bubble of mirthless laughter escaped his lips. Even though this woman possessed the raw talent he sought, he had never once considered contacting her.

Flames flared in a shower of sparks that drew his attention to a flicker of movement in the heart of the fire. He found himself gaping. A second form emerged from the flames, dancing and shimmering, coalescing into a dark shape that dwarfed the woman.

The priest’s heart thundered in his ears. “Who are you, and what do you want?” he whispered, barely able to force the words out of a mouth so dry he could barely move his lips.

The mysterious figure expanded, its outline rippling and shifting, wavering and solidifying, until at last, the movement ceased. A feline face hovered, motionless, above the woman’s head. The phantom jaguar opened its mouth in a silent snarl.

As if stirred by an invisible hand, a bright burst of flames shot up amidst billows of acrid smoke, concealing both figures. When the air cleared, a pair of jaguars now writhed and twisted in a sinuous struggle within the pyre before fire consumed them.

A thick queasiness coiled in the priest’s gut. He sensed this would be no ordinary rivalry. The challenger would try to destroy the legacy of dark powers bestowed on the Chosen by the Ancients, and handed down from Master to Acolyte for over two millennia.

His trivial death no longer mattered. Before the darkness claimed him, he must summon his chosen successor to his side to prepare her for the battle ahead—the battle for supremacy.

Mesmerized, he stared into the fire, which danced in the low breeze carrying the heartbreaking fragrance of the Mexican jungle into the cavern. The flames would act as a conduit to the woman. She would hear and obey his summons, drawn by the potent lure of unlimited power.

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Judgement Fire
By Marilyn Meredith
Mundania Press
ISBN: 1-59426-484-8
Copyright 2007
Trade Paperback, 140 pages, $10.00

Judgement Fire is a sharp little mystery that will keep readers guessing until the end for the culprits.

In the small town of Bear Creek, a mountain community in the southern Sierra, a battered woman is murdered. Is the killer her abusive husband? Or maybe her own son, who publicly claimed he hated her?
Or perhaps her nosy and suspicious-looking neighbor, who supposedly used to be the woman’s high-school ‘enemy’? Or was the whole thing a mistake, and it was her husband the meant target?

As Tempe Crabtree, a young and level-headed police officer with a long black tress down her back, sets out to hunt the killer, she is simultaneously drawn back to her own origins and Native American heritage and uses her roots as a way to help her memory and find the killer.

The prose is crystal clear and the author doesn’t waste time with unnecessary internal dialogues or descriptions. No word is wasted; there’s no clutter, no melodrama. The pace moves quickly and the ‘spiritual’ segments don’t slow down the story. On the contrary, I found that they make the protagonist quite unique. This is a short, enjoyable novel and one that I gobbled up overnight. This is the latest Tempe Crabtree mystery from award-winning author Marilyn Meredith.

–Mayra Calvani

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