Buzzing Book: The Brandon Fisher FBI Series by Carolyn Arnold #Interview #Giveaway

About the Book

Title: The Brandon Fisher FBI Series

Author: Carolyn Arnold

Publisher: Hibbert & Stiles Publishing Inc.

Genre: Thriller, Police Procedural

Synopsis

Profilers. Serial killers. The hunt is on. Do serial killers and the FBI fascinate you? Do you like getting inside the minds of killers, love being creeped out, sleeping with your eyes open, and feeling like you’re involved in murder investigations? Then join FBI agent and profiler Brandon Fisher and his team with the Behavioral Analysis Unit in their hunt for serial killers.

This is the perfect book series for fans of Criminal Minds, NCIS, Silence of the Lambs, Seven, Dexter, Luther, and True Crime.

Read in any order or follow the series from the beginning: Eleven, Silent Graves, The Defenseless, Blue Baby, Violated, Remnants.

Grab your copy of the first book, Eleven, for FREE on Kindle and Nook!

Amazon | Goodreads | Barnes & Nobles

About the Author

CAROLYN ARNOLD is an international bestselling and award-winning author, as well as a speaker, teacher, and inspirational mentor. She has four continuing fiction series—Detective Madison Knight, Brandon Fisher FBI, McKinley Mysteries, and Matthew Connor Adventures—and has written nearly thirty books. Her genre diversity offers her readers everything from cozy to hard-boiled mysteries, and thrillers to action adventures.

Both her female detective and FBI profiler series have been praised by those in law enforcement as being accurate and entertaining, leading her to adopt the trademark: POLICE PROCEDURALS RESPECTED BY LAW ENFORCEMENT™.

Carolyn was born in a small town and enjoys spending time outdoors, but she also loves the lights of a big city. Grounded by her roots and lifted by her dreams, her overactive imagination insists that she tell her stories. Her intention is to touch the hearts of millions with her books, to entertain, inspire, and empower.

She currently lives just west of Toronto with her husband and beagle and is a member of Crime Writers of Canada and Sisters in Crime.

Amazon | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Newsletter

Interview

When you first begin writing a new book, is your main focus on the characters or the plot?

I’d have to say it’s really a blend of both. I approach writing a book without an outline and with merely an idea of the storyline. Oftentimes, I don’t even know the identity of the killer until my characters work through the investigation. Both the characters and the plot are strengthened through the editing process.

Why do you write within your chosen genre?

I love the logical progression and intrigue that goes with the mystery genre. The fact that I love to read mysteries and watch crime dramas has also made writing in the genre only a matter of time.

How much research goes into your fiction writing? What is your approach?

As an author of police and FBI procedurals, a lot of research goes into each of my books. I need to know how real life police or FBI would handle situations, have an understanding of forensics and weapons, as well as a grasp of the human aspect—the interaction between departments of law enforcement and within a department.

I’m grateful to have contacts from law enforcement who are generous in sharing their wisdom and experience with me.

Is there a time of day or night when you’re most creative?

It used to always be the morning, but that’s not always the case anymore.

Describe your writing environment. (Do you prefer noise or silence? Is your work area messy or neat? What do you see when you look around you?)

Oh, I love working in my office for the most part, but sometimes during the summer, I’ll take my laptop outside and write on my patio.

I prefer just above tomb silent and my work area is somewhat messy with papers everywhere… (bows head in embarrassment).

Giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

JGBS Logo Bkg SM

Buzzing Book: Remnants by Carolyn Arnold #Giveaway

About the Book

Title: Remnants

Series: Brandon Fisher FBI Series, Book 6

Author: Carolyn Arnold

Published: April 11th, 2017

Publisher: Hibbert & Stiles Publishing Inc.

Genre: Thriller/Police Procedural

Synopsis

All that remains are whispers of the past…

When multiple body parts are recovered from the Little Ogeechee River in Savannah, Georgia, local law enforcement calls in FBI agent and profiler Brandon Fisher and his team to investigate. But with the remains pointing to three separate victims, this isn’t proving to be an open-and-shut case.

With no quick means of identifying the victims, building a profile of this serial killer is proving more challenging than usual. How is the killer picking these victims? Why are their limbs being severed and bodies mutilated? And what is it about them that is triggering this killer to murder?

The questions compound as the body count continues to rise, and when a torso painted blue and missing its heart is found, the case takes an even darker turn. But this is only the beginning, and these new leads draw the FBI into a creepy psychological nightmare. One thing is clear, though: the killing isn’t going to stop until they figure it all out. And they are running out of time…

Amazon | Goodreads | Barnes & Noble

About the Author

CAROLYN ARNOLD is an international best-selling and award-winning author, as well as a speaker, teacher, and inspirational mentor. She has four continuing fiction series—Detective Madison Knight, Brandon Fisher FBI, McKinley Mysteries, and Matthew Connor Adventures—and has written nearly thirty books. Her genre diversity offers her readers everything from cozy to hard-boiled mysteries, and thrillers to action adventures.

Both her female detective and FBI profiler series have been praised by those in law enforcement as being accurate and entertaining, leading her to adopt the trademark: POLICE PROCEDURALS RESPECTED BY LAW ENFORCEMENT™.

Carolyn was born in a small town and enjoys spending time outdoors, but she also loves the lights of a big city. Grounded by her roots and lifted by her dreams, her overactive imagination insists that she tell her stories. Her intention is to touch the hearts of millions with her books, to entertain, inspire, and empower.

Amazon | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Website | Newsletter

Excerpt

PERIMETER MALL, ATLANTA, GEORGIA
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 10, 11:30 AM EASTERN

THE TIME HAD COME TO select his next victim. He had to choose carefully and perfectly—he wouldn’t get a second chance. The mall was teeming with life, and that made for a lot of eyeballs, a lot of potential witnesses. But he supposed it also helped him be more inconspicuous. People were hustling through the shopping center, interested solely in their own agendas. They wouldn’t be paying him—or what he was doing—much attention.

He was standing at the edge of the food court next to the hallway leading to the restrooms eating a gyro. The lidded and oversized garbage bin on wheels that was behind him would ensure that anyone who did notice him would just think he was a mall janitor on his lunch break.

The pitchy voice of a girl about eight hit his ears. “Daddy, I want ice cream.”

Trailing not far behind her were a man and woman holding hands. The woman was fit and blond, but his attention was on the man beside her. He was in his twenties, easily six feet tall with a solid, athletic build. He’d be strong and put up a fight. Yes, this was the one. And talk about ideal placement—he was across from the Dairy Queen.

He wiped his palms on his coveralls and took a few deep breaths. What he was about to do wasn’t because of who he was, but rather, because he had to do it.

And he had to hurry. The family was coming toward him.

“It’s almost lunchtime,” the woman said, letting go of the man’s hand.

“Daaaaaaddyyyyy.” A whiny petition.

The man looked to the woman with a smile that showcased his white teeth. “We could have ice cream for lunch?”

The little girl began to bounce. “Yeah!”

“Really, Eric?” The woman wasn’t as impressed as the girl, but under the man’s gaze she caved and smiled. “All right, but just today…”

“Thank you, Mommy!” The girl wrapped her arms around the woman’s legs but quickly let go, prancing ahead of her parents and toward the DQ counter.

“Brianna, we wash our hands first.” The woman glanced at him as she walked by and offered a reserved smile. Had she detected his interest in them?

Breathe. She thinks you work here, remember?

Smile back.

Remain calm.

Look away and act uninterested.

“Oooh,” the girl moaned but returned to her mother anyway.

“We’ll just be a minute,” the woman said.

“Hey, doesn’t Daddy have to wash his hands?” the girl asked.

Sometimes things just work out…

The woman smiled at the man. “Eric?”

“Yes, he does,” he playfully answered in the third person.

Mother and daughter headed to the restroom, the man not far behind.

It was time to get to work.

He took the last bite of his sandwich, crumpled the wrapper, and tossed it into the bin. He casually moved behind it and pushed it down the hall into the men’s room.

He put up a sign that said it was closed for cleaning and entered, positioning himself next to the door. From there, he could see his target at one of the urinals and another man washing his hands at the sink. Otherwise, it was quiet.

Just as if it was meant to be…

The stranger left the restroom without a passing glance. This left him alone with his target.

He twisted the lock on the door and then moved behind the man, who paid him no mind. He took the needle out of his pocket and plunged it into the man’s neck.

The man snapped a hand over where he’d been poked. “Hey!”

It would take a few seconds for the drug to fully kick in. He just had to stay out of the man’s way and block the exit in the meantime.

“What did you…” The man was away from the urinal now, coming toward him on unsteady legs. Both his hands went to his forehead and then it was lights-out. He collapsed on the floor.

He hurried to the bin, wheeled it over to the man’s body, and lifted him just enough to dump him inside. Once the man was in there, he lowered the lid, unlocked the restroom, collected his sign, and left.

His heart was thumping in his ears as he wheeled the bin out a back service door. Some people were milling around, but they didn’t seem curious about him. He went to his van and opened the back door. He put the ramp in place and simply wheeled the bin inside.

When he was finished, he closed the doors and headed for the driver’s seat. He wanted to hit the gas and tear out of the lot. The adrenaline surging through his system was screaming, You got away with it again, but he didn’t like to get too cocky.

Still, he did take some pride in the fact that he’d gotten what he’d come for—and it had been so, so easy.

Giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

JGBS Logo Bkg SM

Buzzing Book – Lord of the Flies: Fitness for Writers by Ace Antonio Hall #Giveaway

About the Book

Title: Lord of the Flies: Fitness for Writers

Author: Ace Antonio Hall

Published: April 25th, 2017

Publisher: Omnium Gatherum

Genre: Non-Fiction

Synopsis

I’m not letting age change me, I’m changing the way I age.

Lord of the Flies: Fitness for Writers will show you how to take a day-by-day approach to living a healthier lifestyle. You’ll learn how to unleash hidden energies that can alleviate stress and disease in your life and improve concentration. Finding time to be more active can help you overcome writer’s block and procrastination caused by fatigue. Starting today, you are on your way to doing just that! By adding just fifteen to thirty minutes of physical activities to your day, you not only add years to your life and lower the risk of many common health problems, you’ll improve your focus and concentration and make your mind sharper.

Amazon | Goodreads

About the Author

Ace Antonio Hall (born July 4th, 1966) is an American urban fantasy and horror writer. He is best known as the creator of Sylva Slasher, a teenage zombie slasher who also raises the dead for police investigations, which includes novels and short story collections. He was born in New York, but grew up in Jacksonville, Florida with his grandmother, Sula G. Wells. He is the youngest son of artist and jazz songwriter, Christopher Hall and RN Alice Hall (Thomas). A former Director of Education for NYC schools and the Sylvan Learning Center, Hall earned a BFA from Long Island University. While teaching English, he studied to be a certified ACE personal trainer with the Equinox Fitness Club one summer, but never pursued it professionally. Hall currently lives in Los Angeles with his bonsai named Bonnie.

Amazon | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

Excerpt

You want to feel better, and everything you’ve tried has not had the results you expect. Perhaps, you want to look better as you age or, while you’re young, you want to be the best that you can be. This book can help you. If you’re an author or you work at a computer, you may sit for half of your day only getting up to make another pot of coffee, grab something to snack on, or to use the bathroom. In other words, you spend most of your time being inactive. Heck, it’s no wonder after you’re done, all you want to do is sleep or veg out in front of the TV.

I went from a pot-bellied two hundred ten pound, thirty-eight-inch waist semislob to a fit-bodied one hundred sixty-four pound, twenty-nine inch waist semistud, but it wasn’t easy. It wasn’t hard, either. It was a process, a slow one. I didn’t rush; I just stayed persistent and created a new lifestyle that was focused on feeling better and dealing with stress more easily.

Talk about late bloomer. I can’t believe it. At fifty, I’ve never felt and looked better! The purpose of this book is to show you how to take a day-by-day approach to living a healthier lifestyle. How amazing will it be to unleash hidden energies that can alleviate stress and disease in your life? You will even have more energy to write! Literally, being more active can help you overcome writer’s block and procrastination caused by fatigue.

Giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

JGBS Logo Bkg SM

Buzzing Book: Emerge Beyond Circles by John Geers #Interview #Giveaway

About the Book

Title: Emerge Beyond Circles

Author: John Geers

Published: January 7th, 2017

Genre: Fantasy

Synopsis

Two couples from Madison, with entwined destinies, both seeking love, are connected by a single element: the ancient Siberian witch, Thuban-Pol. Her magic will either be their savior or their ruin.

Thuban-Pol is the latest in a lineage of Siberian witches. Their eternal aim is to guide humanity to true love. Their guiding tenet, “For love to bloom, these three endure: sacrifice, perseverance and suffering. But the greatest of these is suffering.”

Since the dawn of humanity, they have summoned countless couples, inflicting suffering with the intention to grow true love. They have never succeeded…but now they have their best opportunity in two couples from Wisconsin.

If they succeed, love will finally bloom for all of humanity, if the suffering inflicted on these couples doesn’t kill them first.

Amazon | Goodreads | Barnes & Noble

About the Author

John Geers drew inspiration to begin Emerge Beyond Circles from a dream he experienced.

Hours spent in the caffeinated air of his favorite coffeehouse proved to be the perfect place to complete the first book in the Eternal Coven Series.

John is a middle school literacy educator, where he inspires and is inspired by the writers of tomorrow. He is the founder and facilitator of his school’s Creative Writing Club. He is also a columnist for the online magazine Elephant Journal. He loves a good story, being on the water, and witty puns. He can be found hiking the wilderness, biking big hills, sipping dark coffee, and looking for a chair in the mall.

He loves a good story, shopping farmers markets, being on the water, and witty puns. He can be found hiking the wilderness, biking big hills, sipping dark coffee, and looking for a chair in the mall.

Amazon | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Website | Newsletter

Interview

1) Describe your relationship with a good book.

I dive in and don’t stop until there are about 20 pages remaining. Then I wait a few days to savor and process everything I have read thus far. Then I dive in and finish it. Then I tell everyone I know about it. You could say that I read and tell.

2) When did you first start writing and what was the first thing that you wrote that you were proud of?

I have written since forever. I always knew I liked it. I remember writing quite moving greeting cards as a boy.

3) Please describe your work ethic as an author.

I work hard, simple as that. I rarely view writing as romantic or relaxing. I see it in the same light as going into the forest, chopping down a tree and turning it into fire wood.

4) How do you balance your work as an author with the other aspects of your life?

I don’t do this very well. When I am writing, just about all else gets neglected. It probably is not the healthiest way, but it is my way.

5) Why did you write this book?

Ha! I wrote this book because it was in me and it forced its way out. It is my love letter to the world.

6) What experiences from your past do you find yourself drawing upon repeatedly for inspiration in your work?

I often go to my childhood. It was lonely and forced internal examination.

7) What do you hope to accomplish in the next five years, both as an author and in your outside life?

I am not too sure. I have some ideas to write more and explore more, but I am open to anything.

8) Since you are a storyteller, please tell one good lie about yourself.

I am a secure and confident person 😉

Excerpt

She patted the volume with the wood cut flower on the cover. “These rules, they put us at ease. The fences they built are too safe. Love constrained by rules is not love. Love is caribou in stampede, Salix in full summer whip. It is frost on a wisp of caribou moss. Love is as dark as Siberian winter and as rugged as Ural peaks. Consider the orbit of our star in the heavens, how dare we contrive rules to direct the path. The Kara Sea knows love. Waves batter and smash and settle to a tickle and are whipped to batter again, their cycle of passion is eternal. These are love. Can we apply rules to these? Are we not revealed as fools if we try? Draconis, we are revealed as fools! The time has come to put aside childish ways and deliver love to humanity.”

Giveaway

WIN ALL THIS! $25 Amazon Gift Card, a signed paperback edition of EBC, and an adorable Draconis stuffed tiger.

ENTER HERE

 

JGBS Logo Bkg SM

Buzzing Series: The Adventures of Fawn by Al E. Boy #Excerpt

adventures-of-fawn-banner

About the Book

The trilogy, The Adventures of Fawn is an entertaining, imaginative, heartwarming excursion into the magical, mythical world of the North Pole, Santa, his friends and reindeer. Through Fawn’s many exploits you’ll watch her grow and mature as she learns about life and the world she lives in. And…you’ll also learn the answers to many questions and mysteries surrounding the North Pole and Santa himself.
til-the-last-snowflake-falls

Title: ‘Til the Last Snowflake Falls

Series: The Adventures of Fawn

Author: Al E. Boy

Published: 2014

Genre: Children’s Fiction/Fantasy

Synopsis

Legendary reindeer,Comet and Vixen, have a daughter named Fawn. Fawn yearns to explore the world outside Santa’s Village, but her parents tell her she’s much too young to go off by herself.

“I want some fun and excitement! I don’t care how dangerous it is!”

When the young reindeer utters these words, and begins sneaking out each day…she has no idea what’s in store for her!

Along the way, Fawn does make friends with a snow bunny and a short snowman…Snowboy. But all is not so rosy, as she comes to realize the dangers her parents warned her about, are actually very, very real!

Hungry, wild animals, a deadly North Pole blizzard, and dangerous strangers capturing animals to sell to a New York City zoo are just some of the situations she’s going to have to face.

It’s going to be an incredible, exciting, and unforgettable week!

Amazon | Goodreads

About the Author

Al E. Boy is an English teacher, originally from Canada, but currently residing in Seoul, South Korea.
Through almost 40 years as a Santa Claus, Al E. Boy developed quite a repertoire of tales to explain and answer the many questions children ask about Santa, the North Pole, his reindeer, and his friends, the elves.
It was this collection of tales which prompted him to begin writing The Adventures of Fawn. Through the young daughter of legendary reindeer Comet and Vixen, he’s been able to weave an exciting, colorful, imaginative world which will delight readers of all ages!

Amazon | Facebook | Goodreads | Website

Excerpt

From Book #1-‘Til the Last Snowflake Falls:

Today was going to be the day!
Fawn had it all planned out. The young reindeer would wait until her dad and mum, Comet and Vixen, came home to the stable, and she was going to calmly explain how unhappy she was.
Sure…she’d mentioned it before, (more like every other day), but each time her bad mood had gotten the better of her and she’d wound up arguing with her parents. Each time they had told her she wasn’t old enough…not mature enough…to be going out on her own.
Fawn had often pondered over their words.
Not mature enough?!
She wasn’t exactly sure what that meant…but just the same she didn’t like the sound of it!
I think it’s like saying I’m still a baby! Darnit! I’m four and a half months old!!
Fawn was convinced fun…excitement….maybe even friends could be hers to enjoy if she was free to explore the world outside Santa’s Village.
I blew it those other times by getting too excited. If I can plainly and calmly explain to mum and dad how bored and lonely I am…how I need some friends…surely they’ll see how much I’ve changed…how much more ‘mature’ I am now…whatever that means! I’ll wait for them to come home…and then I’ll show them.
Yes, indeed! She had it all planned out!
But sometimes even the best laid plans can fall apart.

Also Available

the-ona-pendulum

Synopsis

The Adventures of Fawn continue as an evil former elf Princess is trying to destroy The Ona Pendulum…a device that enables Santa, Wajic, his elves and reindeer to live for hundreds of years. So Fawn and her friends are off to the rescue to save Santa and company…Christmas 1849….and every other future Christmas, as well! In the process they’ll learn how a young toymaker named Kristoff Kringle became Santa Claus, how he met the elves, and where his famous, “Ho-Ho-Ho” comes from. They’ll also learn about the Rua Ondos…wonderful, magical shooting stars which fell to Earth on the very first Christmas. The Ona Pendulum is an adventure the whole family will enjoy!!

Amazon | Goodreads

far-and-yet-so-near

Synopsis

The Adventures of Fawn continue in “Far and Yet So Near’, as the young reindeer, Bunny, Doctor Weather and friends find themselves trailing Santa’s reindeer after they come under the control of a mysterious stranger, and suddenly, mindlessly march off together. Set in the year 1849, “Far And Yet So Near” sees the group led to an underground cavern where they learn the mystery man intends to steal the team of reindeer. Santa and his wizard friend, Wajic turn up in the nick of time…and it looks like everyone is rescued. But the stranger has a few tricks up his sleeve, and explosions unexpectedly rock the cavern as he makes good his escape.

But not before he ‘reindeer-naps’ Fawn and carries her off to a waiting ship. She soon finds herself a pet in an English manor house near London. Will Fawn ever return to the North Pole? Will she ever see her parents again? Will anyone ever be able to find her? Did Santa, Wajic, Doctor Weather and the reindeer perish in the explosions? Read “Far And Yet So Near” to find out!

Amazon | Goodreads

JGBS Logo Bkg SM

Buzzing Book: Catalyst by Kristin Smith #Giveaway

catalyst-banner

About the Book

catalyst

Title: Catalyst

Series: The Deception Game, book 1

Author: Kristin Smith

Published: November 21, 2016

Publisher: Clean Teen Publishing

Genre: Action & Adventure / Survival Stories, Dystopian, Dystopian, Science Fiction

Synopsis

Too pretty. Too smart. Too perfect.

In a crumbling, futuristic Las Vegas where the wealthy choose genetic modification for their children, seventeen-year-old Sienna Preston doesn’t fit in. As the only “normal” girl, everyone around her is a little too pretty, a little too smart, and a little too perfect. But when her father dies suddenly, her world changes in an instant.

With little skills to help provide for her family, Sienna clings to the two things that come easily—lying and stealing. But not all thief-for-hire assignments go as planned. When a covert exchange of a stolen computer chip is intercepted, she becomes entangled with a corrupt government official who uses her thieving past as leverage, her mother as collateral, and the genetically modified poster boy she’s falling for as bait.

In order to rescue her mother, there may only be one option—joining forces with the Fringe, an extremist group, and their young leader who’s too hot to be bad. Problem is, these revolutionaries aren’t what they seem, and the secrets they’re hiding could be more dangerous than Sienna is prepared for. In the end, she must be willing to risk everything to save the one thing that matters most.

Catalyst is a thrilling adventure of danger, romance, intrigue, and deception.

Amazon | Goodreads | Barnes & Noble

About the Author

kristin-smith

Kristin Smith writes young adult contemporary and science fiction novels with enough kissing to make her mother blush. She’s a beach lover and a Just Dance guru who enjoys belting out karaoke (from the comfort of her own home). As a self-professed chocoholic, Kristin is a firm believer that if a dessert doesn’t have chocolate in it, then it’s not considered a dessert. (Except for crème brûlée. She can always make an exception for crème brûlée.) Kristin currently resides in the middle-of-nowhere North Carolina with her husband and five incredibly loud but extremely cute boys.

Amazon | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Website | Instagram | Newsletter

Giveaway

Clean Teen Giveaway
a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

JGBS Logo Bkg SM

Buzzing Book: George Bailey Gets Saved in the End by Ken O’Neill #Interview #Giveaway

george-bailey-banner

About the Book

george-baileyTitle: George Bailey Gets Saved in the End

Author: Ken O’Neill

Published: October 17th, 2016

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Age Recommendation: 18+

Synopsis

George Bailey, who has made a fortune selling Christmas ornaments, is having a rough few days. He’s thrown his back out lifting the Thanksgiving turkey; his father has died and his wife has left him. He’d turn to his best friend for support, but said BFF is having an affair with his wife.

Let the holiday season begin!

On the heels of all this misery George meets a new woman, and he also meets Jesus (or perhaps just an awfully nice guy named Jesus). As he scrambles to hold together his floundering family, he must figure out if these strange and wondrous events are miracles or symptoms of a nervous breakdown.

Amazon | Goodreads | Barnes & Noble

About the Author

ken-oneill

Ken O’Neill is the author of The Marrying Kind, which won the 2012 Rainbow Award for best debut, and the 2013 Independent Publisher Award Silver Medal for LGBT fiction. The Marrying Kind was also a finalist for the 2013 International Book Award in the Gay and Lesbian fiction category. The book was included on Smart Bitches Trashy Books list of top three favorite novels of 2012.

Ken lives in NYC with his husband and their two cats who think they’re dogs or, perhaps, people. When Ken is not checking his Amazon rating to see if anyone has purchased his books, he enjoys reading, dancing (though usually only when no one is watching) and eating dark chocolate, purely for medicinal reasons. He is at work on his third novel.

Amazon | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Website

Interview

1) Describe your relationship with a good book.

It’s very much like the early stages of a romance:  All I want is to shut out the rest of the world, and spend time together with this fascinating, wonderful, beautiful book. I want to learn everything I can, and just being close to it.

2) When did you first start writing and what was the first thing that you wrote that you were proud of?

By the third or fourth grade I was definitely writing stories. I wrote a series of mysteries featuring two brothers (the Ashe family) and two sisters (the King family) who were amateur detectives. They were called the King/ Ashe Adventures. In my memory they were great! Any resemblance to my brother and me and to the girls who lived across the street, or to The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew for that matter, is purely coincidental.

3) Please describe your work ethic as an author.

It’s not great. If I had a boss other than myself I might be fired. Certainly I’d be reprimanded, given a verbal warning. I have written two novels. My debut was THE MARRYING KIND. So I do write eventually, but there are a lot of fits and starts and procrastination along the way. I’m hoping to be more disciplined with the third. I have about 60,000 words of a work-in-process. It will probably end up being shorter in length than George Bailey… Still I imagine I have another 25,000 words to go (before I begin the massive rewriting phase.) Wish me luck!

4) How do you balance your work as an author with the other aspects of your life?

Poorly. (See my answer to question 3.) When I’m really in the zone of writing I don’t want to do anything else. But often I’m not in the zone. I’m trying to carve out time for writing and commit to it. That’s my goal! (Wow, my time chatting with Melissa is providing me with insights and proving to be so much more cost effective than hiring a life coach would have been.)

5) Why did you write this book?

This question has more than one correct answer. In my first book there was a character based on my Romanian grandmother. And the main characters were Macedonian/Romanian, which is my ancestry on my mother’s side. My father’s parents were born in Ireland. And my Irish grandmother, Nan, was an amazingly spiritual woman, but not at all sanctimonious. She was a remarkable woman. I knew I wanted to place her, or someone like her, into a made up story. So for a while all I knew was that I wanted to write about Irish/American people, which in and of itself is not a story.

But because of my grandmother’s sweet disposition, I knew I wanted to explore the concepts of kindness in someway. Still not a story. But I was starting to feel like maybe something would come to me. And then one day I forced myself to sit down and write, and out came a scene about a man who walked into a bar and began talking to a woman he’d never met before about It’s A Wonderful Life. I still didn’t know much. But I knew the guy was Irish, had a grandmother, was falling in love with this woman and I knew he hated that Christmas movie.

All that was left for me to do was to keep writing, so I could find out the rest. The little bit I had intrigued me. I really did want to find out what was going to happen. I kept writing.

6) What experiences from your past do you find yourself drawing upon repeatedly for inspiration in your work?

As you can probably guess, my family is a big source of inspiration. Specifically my characters often seem to be working through issues with their siblings. I think this is because I only had one sibling, a brother. But he died of AIDS. So I have gone from having a brother to being an only child.  Had he lived, I don’t really know what kind of relationship my brother and I would have. I’d like to think it would be good, but I know from my friends’ experiences that that is not always the case. I know many people who don’t speak to their siblings, which I understand, but it saddens me nonetheless. In my books, brothers (and sisters) usually work things out. Or they try to, anyway.

7) What do you hope to accomplish in the next five years, both as an author and in your outside life?

As an author, I’d love to complete at least two more books. I know a lot or writers finish two novels a year, but that really seems like falling into the category of Overachiever to me. As for my outside life, I love travel. I’d like to do more of that. Perhaps spend six months living in London.

8) Since you are a storyteller, please tell one good lie about yourself.

Had my family not been forced into exile, I would be seventh in line to be crowned King of Macedonia.

Excerpt

All the usual invitations had been extended. Yet oddly, not a single friend—The Strays, they always called them—joined the Baileys for dinner this year. The lack of guests in no way altered the quantity of food the family prepared. It mattered not whether thirty people attended, or just the eight of them. As far as George’s mother, Claire, and his wife, Tara, were concerned, you could not call the day Thanksgiving unless the turkey weighed more than twenty-five pounds. Theirs weighed in at record-breaking twenty-nine point four. Add the stuffing, all the pan drippings, and the cast iron Le Creuset roasting pan to that number, and George was hoisting a weight just shy of forty pounds when his back went out.

Considering George’s relative level of fitness, which was extremely high by American standards, though only average when compared to other Manhattanites, he did not believe it was the weight per se that precipitated his injury. Rather he suspected his troubles were brought on because he had been forced to crouch down when removing the turkey because his wife, for reasons still unknown to him, insisted that the bird go in the lower oven. Not that George blamed her for his mishap. Just at the moment George was taking the pan out of the oven, he remembered being told something about bending with his knees. But by then it was too late. Something deep within his core seized up. As his knees buckled, he lurched forward to the sound of Tara shouting, “Don’t you dare drop that bird, George!”

He didn’t.

George spent most of the day alternating between ice packs and a heating pad, because his wife said cold but his mother said hot, and he figured it was easier just to keep them both happy.

Giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

JGBS Logo Bkg SM

Buzzing Book: Collateral Damage by Susan Harris #Giveaway

collateral-damage-banner

About the Book

collateral-damage

Title: Collateral Damage

Series: The Ever Chace Chronicles #2

Author: Susan Harris

Published: October 31st, 2016

Publisher: Crimson Tree Publishing

Genre: Fairy Tales/Folk Tales/Legends & Mythology,Fantasy/Paranormal

Synopsis

When Derek Doyle wakes up next to a ripped-apart body, he’s terrified he’s about to lose everything he holds dear—Ever, his job, and his family. Dealing with his past has never come easy to Derek, especially since he’s too afraid of what people would think if they knew exactly what kind of monster he really is. But finding out who’s setting him up could be harder than the team thinks. As long as Derek has lived, there’s bound to be a long list of enemies.
Ever Chace has a lot on her plate. Confronted with the possibility that she is indeed losing her mind, Ever tries to push it aside as they deal with the ramifications of Derek’s past. Every new relationship has teething problems, but learning to deal with a mate who’s used to being a lone wolf has its own set of issues.
Can the team figure out how to save Derek from a swift execution? And just how much strain will the revelations put on Derek and Ever’s shiny new relationship?
Collateral Damage is the exciting sequel to Skin and Bones by Susan Harris.

Amazon | Goodreads | Barnes & Nobles

Pick up the first book in this series, Skin and Bones by Susan Harris FREE on Amazon!

About the Author

susan-harris

Susan Harris is a writer from Cork in Ireland. An avid reader, she quickly grew to love books in the supernatural/fantasy genre. When she is not writing or reading, she loves music, oriental cultures, tattoos, anything Disney and psychology. If she wasn’t a writer she would love to be a FBI profiler or a PA for Dave Grohl or Jared Leto.

Amazon | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Instagram

Interview

Describe your relationship with a good book.
A good book provides an escape for the reader and that’s how it should always be. When I’m engrossed in a story, the real world slips away and for a short period of time, I feel as if I am sucked into a world where I am an observer in faraway worlds where magic is real and heroes can still win. I fall in love with characters and places that only exist on the pages of a book, or in the authors mind.

When did you first start writing and what was the first thing that you wrote that you were proud of?
I started concocting stories from a young age. My mother says that as soon I could form sentences with pen and paper, I was writing. Whether it was poems of short stories. I’m very proud of the first novel I had published properly. Shattered Memories helped me heal old wounds and tell an unconventional story.

Please describe your work ethic as an author.
I’ve been told that I am very strict with myself about making time for writing. I normally start early in the morning and work until late in the evening, trying to get in as many words as possible. I also tend to have to finish a chapter before I can finish up; my OCD won’t allow me to stop mind chapter in case I lose the train of thought for the chapter.

How do you balance your work as an author with the other aspects of your life?
Reminding myself that it’s important to have a work/life balance is essential. Taking time out to enjoy the little things is vital in order for me to not feel bogged down by the sometimes-dark aspects of my stories.

Why did you write this book?
I wrote the Ever Chace Chronicles after watching an episode of Criminal Minds and thinking “What would Hotch be like if he was a werewolf?” I also happen to love psychology and creating a team of supernatural profilers is probably the closet I will ever get to being a profiler.

What experiences from your past do you find yourself drawing upon repeatedly for inspiration in your work?
Collateral Damage, which is book 2 in the series, tells the story of a man haunted by his past. Like Derek, I’ve been left with a few scars from my past that continue to haunt me. I’ve also been told on numerous occasions that I’m not good enough to be a writer. But this I use as motivation. There are a lot of people out there I’m determined to prove wrong.

What do you hope to accomplish in the next five years, both as an author and in your outside life?
As an author, I want to continue to publish books that readers enjoy. Personally, I hope to continue feeling comfortable in my own skin, laughing more, and enjoying the little things.

Since you are a storyteller, please tell one good lie about yourself.
I can play many different instruments, but I am most effective on the tin whistle.

Excerpts

Melanie

His words were cut off as Melanie sprang forward and pinned Ricky against the wall. She brushed her nose against the curve of his neck and inhaled the scent of him—leather and motorcycle oil and just him, just Ricky. Her fangs sprang free of their own accord, and she fought against the urge to sink them into the curve of his neck where that delicious vein pulsed.

“You just had to come back early, didn’t you?” Donnie growled.

“Well, if you had fucking told me why I was sent on babysitting duty, then I might have had the sense to stay away.”

Melanie snarled at the idea that he would have stayed away from her. She pressed herself closer to him, her body flush against his, and felt his arousal. Her lips peeled back, and she whimpered, “Donnie, help me…”

Ricky set his hands on either side of her hips as Caitlyn inched forward. Melanie hissed at Caitlyn, her fingers wrapping around Ricky’s throat. When Caitlyn took another step, Melanie heard a guttural voice coming from her own lips.

“Mine.”

Caitlyn guffawed. “I have no interest in your paramour, Melanie. I just don’t wish for you to do something you may regret.”

Hunger punched her stomach, lust curled inside her, and she lifted her gaze to meet Ricky’s own. She was surprised to see him grin.

When Donnie made to grab her, Ricky shook his head. “She can do this on her own, Donnie. Can’t you, Lanie? Once you think about it, you’ll step back, and I’ll leave until it’s easier for ya’, babe.”

Her grip tightened on his throat.

“Possessive little vampire. I like it. Nice to know you still have that fire in you, babe.”

“It hurts.”

His hand squeezed her hip, and she shuddered. “I know babe, and I’m sorry. If I’d known this was why they were keeping you away, then I’d have listened, I promise. Now, wanna let me go so Donnie isn’t forced to do something he really doesn’t want to do?”

She growled again, not wanting to let him go. She wanted to sink her fangs into his neck and taste him.

A slow, sexy smile crept across the warlock’s face, and he lowered his voice. “I know, babe, but think about it. The first time you sink those pretty little fangs into my neck, I wanna be inside you, too.”

Giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

JGBS Logo Bkg SM

Raising Mary: Frankenstein by Ace Antonio Hall #Interview @SylvaSlasher

Raising Mary Banner

About the Book

Raising Mary

Title: Raising Mary: Frankenstein

Author: Ace Antonio Hall

Published: August 26, 2016

Publisher: Bards and Sages

Genre: Horror

Synopsis

Down in the Catacombs, No One Can Hear You Scream But the Dead.

Sylva Slasher has a unique job for a high school senior: she raises the dead for criminal investigations…and parties. Her latest client is a seven-year-old dying from Leukemia who has requested that she raise Mary Shelley. Sylva wants to make sure the event goes perfectly for her special client, which, of course, means things go horribly wrong.

Amazon | Goodreads

WOTF-HONORABLE MENTION-#31

About the Author

Ace Antonio Hall

Ace Antonio Hall is the author of the horror novel, Confessions of Sylva Slasher (Montag Press, April 2013). His short stories They, Raising Mary: Frankenstein, and Bated Breath have been awarded Honorable Mention for the Writers of the Future Awards 2013, 2014 and 2016. He published his short story Dead Chick Walking in Calliope Magazine Fall 2013 #141 and The Eldáling in their Spring 2016 issue.

In 2015-2016, Hall sold his short stories to be published with Weasel Press/The Haunted Traveler, Bride of Chaos/9 Tales, Pure Fantasy & Science Fiction, Vol. 4, Jitter/Prolific Press, Calliope Magazine, Bards and Sages, Bloodbond Alp and Night to Dawn Magazine #29. Hall received a BFA from Long Island University and taught English for more than a decade. He is a native New Yorker who now resides in Los Angeles, CA.

Follow Ace on Twitter @sylvaslasher, Facebook, Instagram, and/or Tumblr.

Amazon | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

Interview

What is the hardest part of writing your stories?

Making sure that I don’t put too much action in them. I like my stories to be scary, but my character is also a martial artist. When you balance your time between watching horror and reading/watching Marvel Superhero films, the hardest part is keeping the goosebumps rising on my reader’s flesh.

What are your favorite TV shows?

In no particular order, Penny Dreadful, Fringe, The Twilight Zone, X-Files, Qunicy, M.E., Rockford Files, Star Trek (Original series), Daredevil (Netflix), 24, The Blacklist and the Creature Feature TV movies that came on back when I was a kid. Anyone who is keen on those shows will definitely see the influence in my stories, and novels. Rod Serling probably influenced me the most, as many of my stories have big twists and elements of speculative fiction. J. J. Abrams and Alex Kurtzman are geniuses. Besides Cowboys and Aliens, everything that Alex tapped his creativity in, I love. From Spider-Man to Star Trek to Ender’s Game. He just gets the kind of science fiction that I live for.

What do you do to unwind and relax?

I go to the movies to watch horror films. There’s nothing better than a bucket of popcorn and screaming women to give me the adrenaline rush I love that inspires me to tap on the keyboard, the minute I get back home.

Who is your favorite author?

It’s a toss up between Octavia Butler and Stephen King. Many of my peers complain that King is too wordy, but the way he can slow down a moment and make it terrifying is worth the extra descriptions. He’s also phenomenal at characterizations. He writes his characters in such a natural way that the reader can bet his life’s salary that they know someone exactly like one of them.

Parable of the Sower seems to seep into every one of my novels. Octavia is such a powerful storyteller that uses symbolism and vivid imagery that not only entertains but inspires.

Do you have any suggestions for beginning writers? If so, what are they?

Yes. Here are the top things that publishers look for in the first ten-to-fifteen pages:

1) State the name of the protagonist.

Many have said otherwise, stating that it is boring and not creative, however, I have found that if you’re trying to get past the slush pile, there is nothing more irritating to the agent or publisher reading your manuscript as to not knowing who the protagonist is, and much worse, not knowing if it is a male or female.

2) Introduce all the main characters (or make a reference to them) by pages 6-10.

3) State the age of the protagonist. (Especially, if you are writing YA. Publishers and Agents want to know right away the age group of the target audience. For YA, it is 12-18)

4) Reveal the ghosts of protagonist. What pains the character? This information is not only good to allow the reader to empathize with the character but also allows the reader to relate to the character’s pains. Needless to say, the pain must be an emotional one that most people in your target audience can relate to. Remember: The thought process that many publishers and entertainment producers have is, “Show me something I’ve seen before, but differently.” Also, you must insert, masterfully (or as best as you can), the internal/external conflict of the character, thus showing the beginnings of the arc, which sets up the arc’s path and destination.

Before page ten, we should know some of the demons that plague the protagonist, and show things that makes the character likable. Unless you want your protagonist to be an unlikable character, which is probably not the best idea (unless she is an anti-hero, even then, be cautious). Also, writing an action(s) which make the reader, in this case, the Publisher or Agent, like the character is also key. For example, when the hero helps his neighbor get a cat out of a tree even after telling the neighbor about his allergies to cat fur. The reader can’t help but like your hero. See how powerful that tool is?

Note how long this point is—that’s because I feel it is Very Important!

5) Setting. The setting is more than the place, it is the environment, the weather, time of day, and date. You can barely get through the first paragraph of any good novel and not know if it is hot or cloudy, cold, or windy.

The weather, as well as your descriptive word choices, will help set the tone whether you want the mood to be dark, or sarcastic, colorful, humorous, or Gothic.

The time of day is simply letting the reader know if it is day, or night, morning, or midnight. The date can be literal:

On October 29th, 2008, I helped my mother kill her abuser; dad.

Or it can be more ambiguous:

Long, long ago, in a world where zombies were as common as the cold, I’d finally learned how to throw a curve ball.

6) Inciting incident/Call to Action. Sometimes, these are two different occurrences, many times, they are the same. In either case, this is where your plot truly begins, letting the Agent or Publisher know what your story is about. Wait until after page ten to do this, and it is highly plausible that your story will not catch their attention.

7) Use the 5 senses, thematic elements (many first time authors simply have the character state the theme), mold the tone, and have the opening images set up the mirror images of what the character will have to walk into upon his/her adventure–the normal world before they enter the STRANGE NEW WORLD.

8) If it’s a Science Fiction story, technology must be introduced immediately. If the character is a bad-ass, show the reader why within the first six pages, but also remember that it is so important to integrate the ghosts, and characteristics that the reader can relate to, as well, or you chance making the reader not care about your numero uno character. Not good.

9) Lastly, if the character is employed, either use an immediate reference to what their job is, or allow the reader, in this case, the Agent or the Publisher, see the protagonist in their workplace immediately. For example, a witch bewitching, a vampire feeding, a teacher instructing a class, an agent on a mission, an athlete in a competition, etc.

Excerpt

For more than nineteen hours, I inhaled death. Darkness crawled around my soul and ripped jagged holes in my sagging heart. The death I inhaled spilled out of my lungs, oozing acidic poison so damaging to my spirit, it was scarred for life. I pressed play one last time before getting off of the plane which had just traveled from Bournemouth to Hawaii.

A warm hand came down gently on my shoulder.

Her voice eased out a gentle tone. “Are you ready to go, “Sylva?”

My best friend, Emily. She knew not to utter another sound, for I had no voice in which to answer. The moving image began again, and almost for an instant, I smiled. But seeing that sweet little girl in the video again—those tiny dimples, that heart-warming smile, and hearing her cheerfully sing, dancing like a ballerina on that small airplane monitor only reminded me that I would never, ever see her again.

As I watched, my thoughts drifted omniously like black clouds floating into the stormy memories of the past downpour of chaos, the last forty-eight hours. I knew for certain that I wouldn’t study for my AP necromancy exam for Monday, tomorrow. Mom would chew me out because I’d miss yet another day, or two, of senior high school.

I wouldn’t eat. I wouldn’t sleep much either. I’d spend that dreary time obsessing about how, for a seven-year-old girl named Dresette Swansea, raising Mary Shelley from the grave sealed her walking papers in an envelope marked death.

Giveaway

Win an autographed, print copy of Sylva Slasher.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

JGBS Logo Bkg SM

Buzzing Book: Recipe for Lust by Alice Ward #Interview

Recipe for Lust Banner

About the Book

Recipe for Lust

Title: Recipe for Lust

Author: Alice Ward

Published: August 19th, 2016

Genre: Romance

Age Recommendation: 18+

Synopsis

When Claire, a young and ambitious cook, decides to audition for Extreme Cuisine, she has no idea just how much her life will change in just nine weeks. Having just gotten out of a long term relationship, she is ready for a new chapter, and maybe even a hot fling or two. Though she’s never been formally trained as a chef, Claire holds her own in the competition which pairs amateurs and professional chefs side by side. Her biggest surprise comes when her celebrity chef crush, Scott Maxim, becomes a fellow competitor. Sparks fly between the two both on and off the screen, and her crush quickly grows for the kitchen bad boy.

As the competition continues, everything seems to be going well for Claire. She holds her own in the competition and gets along with the other chefs, including Shep Thompson, Extreme Cuisine’s host and chef to the stars. As Claire’s relationship with Scott grows, however, her other cast mates begin to get jealous, especially Shep. Shep is quiet and kind, and Claire hardly notices his advances until he takes out his jealousy on Scott in the competition. Tension between the three grows, and the drama it creates angers the other competitors who think Claire is receiving special treatment.

Claire is pulled away from the competition when she gets news that her pregnant friend, Kennedy, has been hospitalized. Claire joins her friends in Boston, but is shocked to learn that Shep has followed her there out of concern that she may not return to the show. The two get even closer over one steamy night.

Claire decides to return to the competition, but with only a few weeks left, secrets and betrayal begin to surface. She realizes that nothing is what it originally seemed. With all revealed, Claire faces her biggest challenge yet: beating the professional chefs at their own game.

Amazon | Goodreads

About the Author

Alice Ward Logo

Alice Ward is an Amazon Bestselling author who loves to write hot & steamy contemporary romances.

Reading and Writing romance is her passion and she writes with her true heart.

Living in Miami, the beach is her favorite place to relax with her laptop and write her next spicy romance.

However, when she is not reading or writing romance, she also enjoys being with her beautiful family.

Amazon | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

Interview

1) Describe your relationship with a good book.

Books are sacred so I never dog ear the pages or break the spine and I never, ever read the last page first!

And, before you ask… Yes, I have a Kindle and read eBooks but I still love the feel of a physical book in my hands. That’s why I publish my books in both formats, eBook and paperback.

2) When did you first start writing and what was the first thing that you wrote that you were proud of?

Before we were married, my husband and I wrote love letters to each other. I’m very proud of them because they helped me to land the most amazing man ever, but they’re not for publication, of course.

3) Please describe your work ethic as an author.

I make it a point to sit my butt down in a chair and write every day. It’s as simple and as hard as that.

4) How do you balance your work as an author with the other aspects of your life?

My schedule allows me a set number of hours per day to write. Even if I’m having a bad writing day and don’t get my normal word count in, I never go past my writing time. Time with my husband and family is very important to me.

5) Why did you write this book?

I love cooking shows and can watch them for hours. I might even be secretly in love with Bobby Flay.

6) What experiences from your past do you find yourself drawing upon repeatedly for inspiration in your work?

I think this is, for me, the opposite. I was a shy kid so a big part of why I started to write was so I could have the adventures in my own head that I thought other people were having in real life. So, I guess I might be writing about the things I might want to do and then I just let my imagination take off from there.

7) What do you hope to accomplish in the next five years, both as an author and in your outside life?

Family, children, and a legacy of good books for the generations to come.

8) Since you are a storyteller, please tell one good lie about yourself.

Well, my mother brought me up to never lie so I guess I’ll have to tell you now that all my books are based on my own life. Before I settled down and got married, I had one hell of time!

Excerpt

“Welcome to United Airlines.” A woman with a tight blonde ponytail and a name tag that read ‘Sara’ greeted me at the counter.

She took my ticket and waved to another employee who quickly jumped to her side. “Please escort Miss Walker to her terminal,” she ordered and gave me a warm smile.

The boy — his name was Thomas according to his name tag — was friendly and eager to help me through the security counter. The line was long, and I was worried that I’d spent too much time saying goodbye to Lauren, but he quickly ushered me through to the side where there was no wait.

Wow, I could get used to first class.

We approached the terminal riding a gold cart, which Thomas had commandeered at the security station. He handed me my purse and carry-on and moved quickly to the counter where another blonde with a tight ponytail stood. Her face looked sour, and she seemed unimpressed that I had arrived in such style. “You’re free to board whenever you like,” she said, her tone clipped and efficient.

Thomas, on the other hand, was still eager to please and extremely friendly. “There are refreshments available onboard, or if you like, the first class waiting area is just down that way.” He pointed down the long corridor.

Other passengers who had obviously been waiting for their turn to board looked at me with resentment. I wasn’t prepared to come across so pompous and just wanted to board. “I’ll go ahead and board now. Thank you, Thomas.” I shot the sour blonde a fake smile.

She took my ticket and motioned for me to pass. I held the stub in my hand and walked down the long tube that was supposed to resemble a hallway. I felt my nerves rattle as I took each step. I hated flying, especially alone. What was I doing?

“Right this way, ma’am.” A perky brunette with a bob hairstyle greeted me at the entrance of the plane. I followed her as she guided me to the left, a section I’d never seen before. It was magnificent, better than I ever imagined. The seats were slick black leather and were equipped with massage options and had the ability to stretch out into a bed. I was in my own cubicle-like area, no other passenger to sit next to and listen to stories about their family, or their illness, or God forbid, their cats.

“Can I get you a drink?” the woman asked.

“A mimosa?” I asked, uncertain if that was an option.

She smiled and nodded before disappearing. On her return, a tall glass topped with an orange slice was quickly handed to me. Yes, I could get used to this.

The flight was amazing, even taking off and landing seemed easier in first class. I wasn’t sure if it was the feeling of being packed in like sardines in a flying can that usually stressed me out, but this was easy and made me want to travel more. I was ready to see the world.

The first class passengers were allowed to exit the plane first, giving the coach passengers their first glimpse of the pretentious asses that enjoyed hot towels, fruity drinks, and enough space to stretch out during the flight. I felt bad as I walked past the couple with two small children, both of which were puffy eyed from crying and out of their seats begging to be let off the plane. “I’m hungry!” one screamed, while the other sucked vigorously on his thumb with tears still wet on his face. No, I didn’t feel bad for them, at least not as badly as I felt for the ones around them who endured that endless chaos.

I ducked into the nearest restroom and rinsed my hands under the water. Even in first class, I still felt clammy from being on the metal deathtrap. My face looked refreshed, a slight glow shining on my skin from the excitement, or fear. Either way, it suited me well.

The crowds of people pushed me through the airport towards the luggage claim. The conveyor belt started, and suitcases rolled towards the waiting crowd. The woman who had the two children on my flight smiled as she leaned in and grabbed a torn suitcase that looked like it came from Goodwill. Her two kids were climbing on the belt, trying their best to take a turn on what must have looked like a fun ride. I watched as the dad effortlessly pulled each one down and showed no expression on his face as he repeated the procedure each time they climbed back up.

Finally, my suitcases appeared. I grabbed them and walked towards the front of the airport. A woman with thick rimmed cat eye glasses and short black hair stood holding a sign with my name. I walked towards her. “Hi, I’m Claire Walker.”

She extended her hand and smiled. Her hair style and glasses made her look older from afar, but now up close she couldn’t have been more than twenty-five; no older than me. Her tone was perky and her demeanor bubbly as she shook my hand. “I’m Gretchen, the production assistant for the show. Welcome.”

It took no time for her to take one of my bags and start walking towards the exit. “These are your only bags?” she asked without stopping to hear my answer.

“Yes,” I said as I almost ran to keep up with her.

“I’ll be taking you directly to the hotel. From there, you’ll be checked in where you can settle in your room, freshen up if you wish, and then promptly return to the lobby where you’ll be introduced to the other contestants and be briefed on the show.” Her lips moved as quickly as her feet.

“That sounds great. Anything I should know beforehand?”

She stopped at the sidewalk, let a tall man with gray hair take the bag from her hand, then motioned for him to take the one I’d been lugging around as well. Her glasses pushed down from her eyes to her nose, and she looked me up and down. “Like what, dear?”

I had no response. I didn’t know what. That was basically what I was asking, wasn’t it?

“Anyway, everything you need to know will be clear at the briefing,” she said.

Gretchen climbed into the back seat as the driver held the door open and then looked to me as if I were holding her up. “You coming, dear?”

Dear? I didn’t like that. She was the same age as me, maybe younger. The dear seemed to be condescending.

I climbed into the back of the black Lincoln and looked ahead as the driver pulled away from the airport.

Gretchen shuffled through papers and ignored the fact that I was sitting right next to her, eagerly waiting for information on the show, on the procedures, on anything really. It was obvious she wasn’t into small talk, and she was too busy to worry herself with my concerns, so I slouched down into the leather seat and stared out the window as we drove through the large city.

“We’re here,” she announced.

I opened my eyes, not realizing I’d fallen asleep and hoped I hadn’t snored, or drooled. I wiped my mouth. It was dry, thank God.

Gretchen was already out of the car and the driver had my suitcases pulled from the trunk as I stood for the first time on Austin’s soil. Well, maybe not soil. It was a beautiful cobblestone drive, but soil sounded so much more poetic and soothed my frazzled nerves.

The bellhop took my bags and rolled them on a gold metal cart inside the hotel. The lobby was impressive with its marble columns and large white plush sofas and dark wood furniture. Gretchen was already at the check-in desk and filling out paperwork for my room. “She needs your identification,” she said quickly and returned to the forms.

I pulled my driver’s license from my wallet and handed it to the woman behind the counter. “Here’s your key, ma’am,” the woman said with a strong southern accent.

Ma’am. I wasn’t sure I liked that any better than dear.

I took the key and felt my stomach ache with anxiety. Gretchen’s bubbly but to-the-point personality quickly pulled me out of my attack and brought me to a place of order.

“Your room is on the fifth floor. There’s a vending machine right outside your door, and you have exactly thirty minutes before you’re to meet back here,” Gretchen ordered as she pointed to the large sectional sofa in the corner of the lobby.

My room was equipped with a large king-sized bed, marble countertops in the bathroom, and a view of the city’s skyline. It was breathtakingly beautiful.

After wasting several minutes scoping the place out, I realized I’d better get myself freshened up and back down to the lobby. I pressed my clothes with my hands and ran a brush through my hair before exiting the hotel room I’d been assigned. A large man with a bald head was bent over at the vending machine outside my door. His pants were falling down to show the crack of his ass, and as he stood to apologize for being in my way, I couldn’t help but wonder if he was one of the contestants.

I smiled graciously and moved towards the elevator where a hand reached out and slapped the side to keep it from closing. “Thank you,” I said without seeing who I was thanking just yet.

“Not a problem,” a voice replied. A familiar voice.

I turned towards the stranger who sounded so familiar, and my heart fluttered in my chest. I knew I must be staring, and there was no doubt that my mouth was hanging open at the sight of one of my favorite chefs.

“I’m Aiden Maxim, nice to meet you,” he said with a charming smile.

I wanted to scream. Jump up and down. Fangirl him for hours on end. “Yes, I know who you are,” I admitted, proud that my voice sounded clear and professional.

He smiled, and his eyes roved down my body. They felt like snakes slithering against my skin as I pressed myself hard against the elevator wall. He had been a regular on my favorite cooking show for a couple years at least, and his bad boy persona was what kept many women tuning in when he was a guest. Now, here he was, in the flesh — tattooed and muscle-bound flesh — introducing himself to me, like I wouldn’t know who he was. Aiden Maxim. Wow!

“But yet, I don’t have any idea who you are,” he said with a crooked smile that did interesting things to my lower belly.

His eyes were still on me, smothering me, caressing me, causing me to become more and more anxious.

“I’m Claire,” I said, my voice becoming shakier the longer I was in his presence.

My palms were sweating as I rubbed them together in front of me. “Are you part of the show?” I asked, figuring he may be a host or a guest chef.

“Yes, one of the contestants,” he said proudly.

“C-contestants?” I stuttered, my shakiness now replaced with pure fear in my voice.

“Yes,” he confirmed.

“I thought this was an amateur cooking competition?” I asked, hoping I had misunderstood him.

“They decided to switch things up and add some professionals, semi-professionals, and amateurs together,” he said. “Better ratings, ya know.”

Yeah, better ratings, my ass. This would be a televised slaughter. And great, I get to be a part of it all!

The elevator door opened, and Aiden motioned for me to exit first. A gentleman was underneath that onslaught of tattoos and wolfish grin. Nice.

Even though it was a few minutes early, people were already gathering near the large sectional sofa that Gretchen had designated as the meeting spot in one of the private conference rooms. Some of the faces were familiar, some not. My stomach flopped as I moved towards the group, wondering if I should just run back to my room and call Lauren and Asher to send me another first class ticket home. I enjoyed that part of the trip. The rest of this production I’d gotten myself into, I wasn’t so sure would be as enjoyable.

Gretchen appeared with a clipboard and wasted no time getting right to it. She went around the room to each contestant and read a short bio. I was relieved when I realized that there were more amateurs than professionals, but some of the names that were read off gave me chills. This was the real deal. No more playing in the kitchen, it was time to get to work.

“We’ll have you each create an intro for the show. Just be yourself and tell us a little about why you’re here, what you do for a living, why you love cooking, why you want to win, whatever comes to mind.”

Panic set in at the thought of being pushed in front of the camera so suddenly. As each person took their turn, I realized they were all as nervous as I was, or at least many of them were.

“Aiden Maxim,” Gretchen called out.

Aiden had been behind me, something I wasn’t aware of until he placed his hand on my hip as he passed by. He winked, smiled in that sexy crooked smile of his and whispered, “Wish me luck, sweetheart.”

Even his swagger was cool. He stepped up to his spot and looked completely at ease in front of the four cameras aimed at his face. He spoke without any sign of pressure or nervousness. I listened, soaking up every last word — how he used to help his grandma in the kitchen, how he’d dedicated his life to feeding the poor, and how he planned on opening his own culinary school for underprivileged children with the winnings from this show.

Adrenaline rushed through my veins as I watched him make love to the camera. “That was perfect,” Gretchen said with a smile. It was obvious as her eyes lingered on his chest that she found him attractive. How could anyone not find Aiden Maxim attractive? He was hot, a bad boy with a big heart, and he could cook.

My name was called, and my fingers went numb. My throat felt tight, and my heart raced. Oh God, I don’t know if I can do this!

 

JGBS Logo Bkg SM