Tag Archive | Guest post

Wilde Horses by Jannine Gallant

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Title: Wilde Horses
Author: Jannine Gallant
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Pub Date: May 23, 2017

9781601837721_400x600The Wilde brothers may be attracted to all things fast and furious. But their spirited sister can’t be tamed when it comes to matters of the heart . . .

The beautiful vistas and peace and quiet on her family’s Wyoming ranch are a balm for Eden Wilde’s soul—and inspire a gentle touch when it comes to breaking the wild horses she loves. Though there’s no hope on the breathtaking horizon for her love life. Until her sanctuary is invaded by a movie studio shooting their latest blockbuster starring Hollywood’s man of the moment.

After a personal tragedy plays out in his real life, movie star Blake Benedict finds himself falling for the wide-open spaces and easy going pace of Wyoming—and for Eden. Around her, he feels safe shedding his public persona and letting down his guard. But then accidents begin to happen on set, mishaps that could end Blake’s career—or his life. And Eden will be forced out of her comfort zone to save the Hollywood hero from an enemy he never saw coming . . .

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Excerpt:

“You’re kidding, right?” Eden Wilde dropped her fork on her plate and glanced around the dinner table. Had her parents lost their collective minds? “I’m afraid not.”

Her father’s determined blue gaze, a mirror image of her own, met hers. “We signed the agreement this afternoon.”


Her mother reached over to pat her arm. “Think of it as an adventure.”


More like a nightmare.


“Grandpa, I can’t believe you agreed to this insanity?”


Jasper Wilde shrugged then dug into the pile of mashed potatoes on his plate. When he glanced up, his gray eyes twinkled beneath a thatch of snow-white hair. “Your dad says the ranch needs the income, and I think filming a movie here will be quite an experience. Maybe we’ll all get to be extras. Wouldn’t that be a kick?”


“Fun? Really?” Eden snorted. “From what you’ve told me, this isn’t some little documentary. It’s a major motion picture. Our lives will be in complete chaos for… How long?”


Her father laid down his steak knife as a frown knit his forehead. “The producer told me they hope to finish in four weeks. A huge chunk of the action is set outdoors, and the majority of those scenes will be shot on the ranch.”


She gripped the edge of the table. “A month?” The reality was worse than she’d imagined. “And you waited until now to tell me because…”


Her mom let out a worried sigh. “Nothing was finalized until today since the production company was considering several different ranches here in Wyoming, as well as a couple in Montana. There was no point in upsetting you if the deal for our property fell through.”


“So, you knew I wouldn’t be on board with the plan, but you still went ahead with such a major decision without discussing it with me?” Eden’s voice rose. “What am I, a child to be placated? I can’t believe this.”


“Honey, we aren’t ganging up on you. We’re just doing what needs to be done.” Her grandpa cleared his throat. “Boyd, what did that producer say he’d pay us?”


“Fifty grand.” Her dad took a swallow of his iced tea. “After two years of severe drought, we’ve dug into our reserves for cattle feed. The barn needs a coat of paint and there are a lot of costs associated with throwing a double wedding for your brothers. That check is going to help me sleep nights.”


Eden opened her mouth then closed it. She didn’t have a reasonable counterargument that didn’t make her sound petty and selfish. She let out a slow breath. “I didn’t know the ranch was having cash flow problems.


I’m sure Griff and Sawyer would be happy to chip in for wedding expenses if they knew.”


“Your brothers already have.” Her mother tucked a strand of short brown hair behind one ear. “But we’d like to lay down new gravel on the driveway and put in an irrigation system for the back lawn where the ceremony will take place so the grass will be nice and green.” She waved a hand. “Generally spruce the place up so the ranch looks its best in June.”


“Dahlia’s right.” Her grandpa forked up another bite of potatoes. “We want to impress the future in-laws.”


“Not to mention the barn is so faded it’s closer to pink than red.” Her dad winced. “We’ll have to paint it before they start shooting the movie. Our vintage barn is one of the main reasons the producers went with our spread.”


Eden let out a sigh as resignation set in. “Why’s that?”


Her grandpa reached for a roll from the basket in the center of the table. “Settlers painted their barns red, and this movie is an old-fashioned Western.” His smile stretched. “You know, the type John Wayne used to star in with cowboys and Indians.”


“Native Americans, Grandpa, not Indians.” When her parents exchanged a long moment of wordless communication, tension banded across Eden’s chest and squeezed. “Oh, now I get it. They want my wild horses.”


“They intend to use them in background shots.” Her father leaned forward to plant his elbows on the table. “I made sure the contract stipulates you have final say over anything to do with your horses.”

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Author Bio:

Gallant, Jannine - Credit Danielle Hankinson Photography_400x600Write what you know. Jannine Gallant has taken this advice to heart, creating characters from small towns and plots that unfold in the great outdoors. She grew up in a tiny Northern California town and currently lives in beautiful Lake Tahoe with her husband and two daughters. When she isn’t busy writing or being a full time mom, Jannine hikes or snowshoes in the woods around her home. Whether she’s writing contemporary, historical or romantic suspense, Jannine brings the beauty of nature to her stories.


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Guest Post:

Destroying Those Old Stereotypes!

There are certain stereotypes prevalent in romance. The Alpha hero and the heroine who needs to be saved is one of them. I like my heroes to be strong…don’t get me wrong. But I also want them to be sensitive and considerate and not total jerks. I recently saw a meme that spoke to me: Date eye candy but marry soul food. A man with substance should always win out over one who has only good looks going for him. What’s even better is a man who has both!

Which brings me to heroines. Nothing is worse than a heroine who is TSTL! You know the type, the feeble-minded young woman who goes into the creepy old house on the storm swept night…on Halloween! Honestly, she deserves what she gets, which is probably a serial killer who intends to hack her into little pieces if the hero doesn’t save her first. I want my heroines to have brains to go with their beauty. Why can’t the heroine be the one who saves the hero for a change?

All these thought were rolling around in my mind when I came up with the plot for WILDE HORSES, the final book in my BORN TO BE WILDE series. Eden is the youngest Wilde sibling, and like her brothers in the earlier books, she’s strong and confident and knows what she wants out of life. What she wants certainly isn’t a production company filming a movie on her family’s ranch. Blake Benedict is Hollywood’s premiere leading man whose name alone sells out movie theaters around the world. He has the looks and the charm, but there’s a whole lot more to Blake than eye candy. He has a personal tragedy in his life and a longing for something…and someone…who is real and true and unexpected. In short, he wants Eden. But someone may just kill him before he can convince her he’s also what she needs…unless Eden can save him first!

If you like books that are anything but stereotypical, give WILDE HORSES a try. I promise there are even more surprises you’ll never see coming…

 

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Chasing Love by Melissa West

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Title: Chasing Love
Author: Melissa West
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Pub Date: 5/30/17

9781601839909_400x600Farming family land on sunny Crestler’s Key, the sweet, sexy Littleton brothers are notorious bachelors. But all that will change when the right woman comes along…
There aren’t many things Charlie Littleton values more than his lifelong friendship with his buddy Lucas, currently home from a tour in Iraq. But when he discovers that Lucas’s younger sister, Lila, is back to assist the town’s overburdened veterinarian, Charlie is torn. She’s no longer the skinny, awkward kid he remembers, but a gorgeous woman—one Lucas would never approve of him dating. When Lucas asks him to watch out for Lila when he’s called to duty again, Charlie can’t say no—but he can’t pretend it’s easy to ignore his feelings either.

As a teen, Lila crushed on Charlie—hard—and the man he’s grown up to be is even more wonderful than she dreamed. Relationships are a tricky business, though, and too much history is at stake to risk one now. But every moment they’re together is heated by their simmering attraction—and one day an impulsive kiss leads to much more. What’s tangled in a matter of loyalty soon becomes a question of the kind of love worth chasing…

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Chasing-Love

 

 

Author Bio:

West, MelissaMelissa West writes heartfelt Southern romance and teen sci-fi romance, all with lots of kissing. Because who doesn’t like kissing? She lives outside of Atlanta, GA, with her husband and two daughters and spends most of her time writing, reading, or fueling her coffee addiction.

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Guest Post:

As an author, one of the most common questions I’m asked when someone learns what I do is, “What do you write?” This is an interesting question for me, because “romance” doesn’t seem to cover it and “Southern fiction” doesn’t quite work either. In truth, I write about life and my characters’ journeys to finding happiness in life. Sometimes that happiness involves discovering who he or she is at heart. Sometimes it’s about finding his or her career. But almost always, a part of that journey involves finding love and acceptance in another person.

Some might feel romance is a minor part of our lives, but for most people getting married and/or finding a person to spend your life with is a big, big deal. Because anyone who has been married for any amount of time knows that marriage is full of complexity. It is learning to compromise. It is learning to juggle multiple tasks. It is finding out how strong you are in the face of a newborn baby who refuses to sleep or the sudden death of a loved one.

The romance component of our lives isn’t a small detail, and it shouldn’t be trivialized in the book world either. It can’t be reduced to claims that it is nothing more than sexy covers or over-used plotlines. Love, marriage, partnership is a lot more than that, and those who write it, who read it, understand they are writing or reading about a lot more than a “shallow romance.” They are writing or reading about the largest, most important aspect of our lives.

 

Remnants by Carolyn Arnold

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Title: Remnants
Series: Brandon Fisher FBI Series, Book 6
Author: Carolyn Arnold
Genre: Crime Mystery, Thriller

All that remains are whispers of the past…

Remnants-Paperback-with-Back-2-stacked-350When 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…

**Can easily be read as a standalone!!**

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Excerpt from Chapter 18 of Remnants (Brandon Fisher FBI series):


TELEVISION WAS FOR THE WEAK-MINDED, and he found the futility of sitcoms to be tedious and mind-numbing. His thoughts would always drift—as they often did anyway—to the freedom of the spirit, to being rid of the flesh that bound him to Earth. There was one program that held his attention, though, when he decided he felt like watching something, and that was the news. Events most people considered to be tragic, to be evidence of a world full of chaos, he rather enjoyed hearing about. The car bombs, the terrorist attacks, the murders—these things only proved how fleeting an earthly existence was and how the way one spent one’s time mattered.


When he wasn’t making sacrifices, he was usually thinking about them—either past offerings or those yet to come. There was a hunger that raged through him that made such sacrifices necessary, and the constant natter in his brain told him he was living his life with purpose and according to divine plan.


He went to the fridge, took out a bunch of grapes, and broke off a cluster. He put them into a bowl and then filled a glass with cold, filtered water. Sitting down in front of the television with the bowl of grapes on his lap and the glass of water on the side table, he was ready for the eleven o’clock news.


“Hey, honey.” His mother padded toward the sofa, wearing a robe over her pajamas and slippers on her feet.


He smiled at her, yet felt nothing for the woman who had given birth to him. And she knew how he viewed her, how he didn’t have the same feelings other sons had for their mothers, but she accepted him for who he was. She didn’t try to fix him when the rest of the world saw him as a freak.


He’d had no friends in school and was teased excessively for being different, but that was a small price to pay for being chosen. It had taken him awhile to fully realize his purpose, but once he had, there was no stopping him. He lived on a higher plane of existence than his human peers, one they couldn’t comprehend. He saw the entire spectrum from life to death and beyond.

 

 Series Information:

What to expect from the Brandon Fisher FBI series:

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.

Find the series on Amazon!

 
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About the Author:

Carolyn-Arnold-Author-Photo-Hi-ResCAROLYN 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.

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


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GuestPost by  CAROLYN ARNOLD:

 

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Five Steps to Profiling a Serial Killer

 
He’s five seven, in his thirties, walks with a limp, works in temporary placements, and is single. He targets women because he was abused by his single mother, who slept around with men while he was growing up.

If you’re a fan of serial-killer fiction, whether it be on TV or in books, you are probably left shaking your head sometimes when the FBI sees some crime scene photos and immediately has a profile of the killer. What are they, psychic?

As it turns out, profiling is actually a science, though not an exact one. In fact, many profiles prove to have been wrong once the unsub is caught. So why bother profiling at all? Well, even if some facts are off, profiling establishes a foundation from which investigators can begin their search for—and hopefully catch!—the killer.

So what do investigators consider when building a profile?

1. Investigators focus on the crime itself. What do the crime scene photos show? What are the autopsy findings? Are there any witnesses, and if so, what are they saying? What have police officers noted in their reports?

2. Investigators visit the crime scene. They use their six senses—sight, sound, taste, smell, touch, and intuition—and make a record of their reactions. They analyze where the body was found, whether the murder was committed in the same location that the body was found or the body was dumped. They question any and all aspects of the location and what it might tell them about the killer and/or the killer’s victim selection, aka victimology.

3. Investigators look for a signature or method of operation (MO). Don’t confuse these two terms, though, as they are not the same thing. Every crime has a MO, which is how the murder was carried out, but a signature is not present in all cases. A signature only exists when a killer chooses to leave behind a personal mark.

4. Investigators consider what kind of unsub might commit the crime at hand. For example, are they organized or disorganized? Are they a hunter or a sexual sadist? Is gender, age, or religion relevant? Is there is a geographical element to the crimes?

5. Investigators take a closer look at the victims. They factor in similarities and determine whether the victims are low-, medium-, or high-risk people. Can any of the victims be connected to one or more person or place? How were the victims approached? Is there evidence of resistance, or is it possible the victims knew their killer?

Sometimes the answers to all these questions can be harder to piece together than others. In my most recent novel, Remnants, Brandon Fisher and his FBI team struggle to build a profile on the killer they’re hunting, as the identities of the victims are unknown and aspects of the MO vary among the murders. But when a torso painted blue and missing its heart is found—something they haven’t seen in any of the previous deaths—the case takes a dark turn that begins to provide them with some new leads. As the story unfolds, the FBI is drawn deeper and deeper into a creepy psychological nightmare. One thing is clear, though, even if they don’t have all the facts yet: The killing isn’t going to stop until they figure it all out. And they are running out of time…

 

 

 

Finding Marcus Anderson by C.L. McGrath

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Title: Finding Marcus Anderson
Author: C.L. McGrath
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Editor: Jean Hall
Cover Designer: KA Ware at Bite Me Graphic Design

 

“Your past will always catch up with you…it’s just a matter of when.”

marcus ebook coverJust when Marcus thinks things are finally falling into place, having found his beautiful Sarah, he is finally going to get his happy ever after. Until a vision from his past jeopardises everything.

Marcus and Sarah couldn’t be happier. Arriving home from their road trip, Marcus begins having nightmares. With vivid memories from his childhood haunting his thoughts, he turns to his past in search of answers.

Marcus’s search leads him to Madison Jennings, his first love. Their affair was as secret as it was powerful. He filled her loneliness after the death of her husband. She filled his need to be safe and loved.

Sixteen years later they meet again. What effect will this have on the life he has built with Sarah?

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Author Bio:

My name is Christina McGrath. Originally from Sydney Australia, I now live surrounded in lakes and beaches on the beautiful central coast of New south wales with my husband and two young children.

As a girl, I had always dreamed of being a writer, but like most people I pushed my dreams aside for reality.

Turning 40, I guess I just thought if I don’t try, I’ll never know. Here I was telling my kids they could do anything they wanted in life. They just have to try. Time to live by my own words.

So, I sat down and started to write. To my surprise, it came very naturally.

I wanted to write strong, witty, fun…REAL women. I wanted my characters to feel like someone you could easily be friends with.

CL McGrathThe hardest question I get asked is what genre I write. The truth is…to this day, I don’t know. My books thus far are definitely romance, but, they are so much more. They are funny, heart breaking, naughty and emotional. The characters are relatable and real.

All I really know is, now I’ve started to write, like any addiction…I just can’t stop. I truly love it.

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Guest Post:

Writing a new project.

Ok, well for me, it just comes to me. I could be doing anything. Next minute an idea comes in my head. If I’m out and about or busy. I send my best friend a message and say… So, what do you think of this. She will sometimes say great idea other times she will say…get back to me when you have something down. If I’m at home or I have time. I pick up my laptop and start to write. I usually write the first page with no music, then after that. Headphones go on and I just write. I usually give myself a few days. I try to write for a few days and see where that leads me. If after a week I don’t feel it…i file it away for later. Maybe I will at another stage.

If I do feel it… I simply get on the headphones and just write.

I never plan, I never write up plots/structures. For me writing is an instinct. The story plays out in my head like a movie. I see it as I write it. Most of the time I have no idea how its going to turn out…I just write what I feel.

Probably not what they teach at school, but I don’t write for fun, I write because I feel it. I need to. It’s a deep need to get the story out and share it.

What works for me, wont work for everyone. Some people need to put an idea down on paper, they need to plan things. Which is perfect. The last thing you want is for all of your writers to be the same. 

Also available:

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Finding Sarah Miller
Book One “Finding” Series

 

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Beyond Death by Deb McEwan

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Title: Beyond Death
Author: Deb McEwan
Genre: Supernatural/Suspense

 

Beyond DeathWhat really happens when we die? Twenty-something Claire Sylvester is about to find out.
The morning after the best night of her life she is taken before her time.

Claire is suspended in her mysterious new world. She watches as the secret lives of those she loves unravels, and sadistic villains are punished on the road to their own personal hell.

All the while a higher authority ponders her ultimate fate.

More than Claire knows depends on her actions and those of the unlikely partner who accompanied her on her journey.

What will be her final destination?

Beyond Death – a supernatural thriller of love and loss, deceit and revenge, with a little romance and humour.

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Author Bio:

DebFollowing thirty odd years in the British Army, Deb and her husband Allan decided to become weather refugees and settle in Cyprus.

Throughout her life Deb has dabbled with writing. Her first book was ‘Reindeer Dreams’ – a quirky rhyming Christmas story for children featuring Barry the reindeer and his family. Her first grown-up books about aliens and unearthly spiders could be explained as off the wall. The Afterlife trilogy came next with a few ‘Jason the Penguin’ books in between.
The first book in the current series ‘Unlikely Soldiers’, is set in 1970s Britain, with others to follow through the decades.

Deb now spends her time writing, working part-time, avoiding housework and playing tour guide along with Allan. She tries to keep the pounds off by playing netball and long-distance walking.

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Guest Post:

Inspired by Ants

I was sitting in the garden, chilling after a long walk and wondering what to write next.

Picture3I probably should have started book three in my ‘Aliens’ series. Ideas were swirling round in my head but nothing tangible yet. I saw movement on the ground and looked down. An army of ants were going about their business. Some headed in my direction. As one neared my foot I lifted my thumb to squish it, then hesitated as I had a fleeting thought. Looking up to the sky I wondered if anyone up there was poised to ruin the day or life of an innocent human who had taken a wrong turn, or perhaps found themself caught up in one drama or another.

Picture2This got me thinking about death, religion, the afterlife and the eternal battle of good versus evil. I left the garden and started writing straight away. And the ant? He or she lived to fight another day. Not so the many others who pushed their luck and moved into the house shortly after. No mercy was shown to this lot.

My Afterlife series is about the eternal fight of good against evil. I wanted the good guys to win but it wasn’t always easy and that doesn’t reflect real life, unfortunately. I believe in reincarnation and have always liked the idea of Karma with the hope that we reap what we sow. When some of my baddies got their just desserts it was important that they felt the pain they’d inflicted on their victims. My overactive imagination was a great help in this process. I spent some time wondering what would be really horrible but plausible (to my story) and took it from there.

When you’re dealing with the afterlife, heaven, hell or whatever you like to call it, almost anything is possible.

In this series, when there is absolutely no doubt, the really bad souls are taken to the dark, merciless world of cruelty and demons. They either serve their masters or are subjected to pain for the amusement of the demons – sometimes both. When their masters tire of them, they are returned to earth in various guises to suffer extreme levels of humiliation, pain and degradation. If they’re lucky, those in charge may return these souls to earths as humans, to carry out their evil.

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This is why the innocent suffer.

Where there is doubt, the final destination isn’t so simple.
That’s the situation in which Claire finds herself and more about this next time.

 

 

 

The Blood of the Infected Series

by Antony J Stanton

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Series: The Blood of the Infected
Author: Antony J. Stanton
Genre: post-apocalyptic/thriller/horror

Once Bitten, Twice Die

Book One

OBTD High Contrast 2017The end of the world was just the beginning.

A cure for dementia has disastrously failed. Patients are left crazed, infectious and enraged. The ensuing carnage quickly spreads the disease, and civilisation is decimated.

On London’s outskirts a military base shelters some survivors. The soldiers within must battle against the infected who now roam unchallenged. Tensions are high, relationships fraught, death commonplace.

But if they thought the end of the world was bad enough, their troubles have only just begun…

An ancient menace has long existed in secret alongside humanity – a vampire clan, which has recently encountered the soldiers. Now is their time to emerge from the shadows. First though they have to overcome their own problems. They too have to fight for survival against the infected, and they violently disagree on their approach towards the humans.

Hostilities are rising. It’s only a matter of time now…

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Once Bitten, Twice Live

Book Two

9780993428531When death is the best option, survival is no longer enough…

With a growing realization that their continued existence bestows upon them a debt to humanity, the survivors look to create a cure for the insanity that has brought civilization to its knees. But that only encourages disagreement and infighting, and comes at a heavy price, bringing various shocks and surprises.

Tensions amongst the vampires are escalating, jeopardizing the very existence of the clan itself. A battle for supremacy seems inevitable and their future is in the balance. How far will Farzin go to achieve his aims – domination of the vampires and humans alike? And how terrible will his vengeance be against any who stand in his path? Their interaction with the humans threatens to increase and not necessarily for the benefit of either group.

Meanwhile the wrathful infected grow ever hungrier…

When every day is a struggle to stay alive, survival of the fittest is never guaranteed.

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Twice Bitten, Twice Die

Book Three

TBTD front-hiWhen there’s no one left to hear you scream…

Deaths amongst the survivors are occurring at an unsustainable rate. Numbers are rapidly dwindling. Morale is plummeting. Soon they will be beyond salvation, yet their real task has only just begun. But will anyone remain alive to complete it? Nothing could have prepared the soldiers for what lies ahead. If they thought life was brutal already, they had absolutely no idea…

The vampires are in disarray. Their relationships are becoming blurred, confused and violent. A titanic clash between soldiers and vampires seems imminent but no one’s survival is assured.

In a world where life is unpredictable, the threat from the infected suddenly becomes even more unexpected and menacing. Hostilities are inevitable. Only one thing is certain: there will be blood!

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Author Bio:

AntonyStanton was born in London in 1970. Even as a child he always dreamed of becoming a published author, and he started to write a book. But, having watched the film ‘Top Gun,’ he was swayed into a becoming a military pilot. After no more than a glancing blow of a career in the British Royal Air Force he decided that his long term future lay elsewhere and he became a commercial pilot and remains thus to this day. Hence much of this trilogy was written all around the world, generally at unsociable times when jet-lag meant that normal people were asleep.

During a holiday with three friends, a bet was made amongst them. Each had a task to fulfil within the year – Stanton’s was to write a book. A little late, but five years on and his challenge has been completed. Three times.

His period spent in the RAF helped him write the military survival aspects of this book, and a kidnapping incident in Kazakhstan (*see guest post) and shooting in Ghana, amongst other ‘adventures’, provided him with a dark well of experience to draw from. Life is, after all, one big adventure. A combination of the aforementioned, along with his love of the darker sides of literature, and the results are this novel and the next two in the trilogy.

And all it took was the impetus of a friendly challenge to spur him on to his creative dream… He still lives in South London and is very much looking forward to watching his friend fulfilling his part of the challenge: demonstrating his (not-so) newly acquired break-dancing skills, surely a sight to behold

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Guest Post:

There is an incident that happened to me a few years ago, that I thought might be of interest. I love travel and have been fortunate to visit over 100 countries. You get to meet all kinds of fascinating people and as often as not it is the people who either make or break a trip.

I found the people of Kazakhstan to be incredibly warm and friendly on the whole – that is, when they are not trying to kidnap you. They are hospitable and open their arms and their houses readily to foreigners and strangers in a way that puts us in the West to shame. This part of the world really is the kind of place where intrigue and exploits abound. Anyone with the slightest inkling for adventure can find it without searching too hard. However, there is also this darker side that exists in their society; the ever-present undercurrent of corruption and bribery and, in my case, kidnapping.


It wasn’t my writing that took me to Kazakhstan back in 1999. It was my primary job as a commercial airline pilot for British Airways. We had a training contract to teach the Kazakhstanis to fly the Boeing 757, a most interesting experience in itself. When my work finished, I went travelling for a while, and that was when I had my little ‘adventure’. A lot happened. Even before I was abducted I had already had a fascinating time most worthy of narrating. I will write of that in another article as you really should know how all this began. But for now, I must tell you of the kidnapping itself, so I will jump right into the midst of the whirlwind.


I awoke at the border. The vodka was still heavy on my breath but I was sober enough to realise that I was the last person on the bus, and that it was now night-time. Alas, I was not sharp enough to understand the significance of this. I really had drunk a lot. Not my fault. The bus driver was shooing me off his bus, so I collected my day-sack and climbed down.


As the bus pulled away I realised that the border, which was rather inconveniently situated in the middle of nowhere, was well and truly closed. However, there was a car waiting. In Kazakhstan there were not many proper, bonafide taxis. If one wanted to go somewhere one hailed private cars as they went by. Someone would swerve to a halt with the screech of dodgy brakes and one could barter with the man. Well, here was a car that was ready and waiting for me. Perfect. And this one had, not one man, but two.


Soon I found myself on my way. I had told the driver and his friend that I wanted to cross the border from Kazakhstan, and go to Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan. ‘Dah, dah,’ they had assured me. I settled back into the seat but immediately something seemed wrong. Nothing definite, just an uneasy feeling. After a short while I leaned forwards.


“Tashkent?” I asked, making sure they knew where I wanted to go.


“Dah, dah,” they again said.


I left it for a minute or so, but it was clear that Tashkent was across the border and we were heading away from the border. Away from Tashkent. Away from any signs of other people and into the bleak and barren countryside.


It is amazing how sobering fear can be. Instantly I was alert. The lurch in my stomach was not due to the alcohol but to the sudden realisation of how my stupidity had actually put me in a VERY dangerous position. I repeated my request to be taken to Tashkent. Again, they tried to convince me that all was okay. But all was most definitely not okay. And if I did not do something soon, then quite possibly all would not ever be okay for me again. I leaned forward and demanded that they stop. They did not speak English but they understood well enough. And they ignored me. I was shocked at how fast the day had gone from one amazing and joyous experience to a complete nightmare.


“Tashkent, Tashkent, okay,” they said, but this was not okay and I was not okay. They were driving me further from the border, further from any semblance of civilisation and further from safety. I looked all around, and realised that I had only one option…


On these unkempt, remote gravel roads the car had slowed to take a bend. Now was my chance. Now was my only chance. Without considering the danger, I opened the door and dived out. I do not remember how quickly we were travelling, but it can’t have been very fast as I did not seem to injure myself – or maybe that was the vodka’s protective embrace. The car screeched and complained to a halt some twenty yards away. Still close, but far enough for me to be able to affect my escape. The men were shouting at me, ‘Tashkent, Tashkent, no problem.’ Only I knew that there most definitely was a problem. And now here I was, in the middle of no-man’s land, nobody else in sight in the enfolding darkness, and my options very limited.


They were clearly as surprised by my actions as I was. I guess nobody had escaped from them in such a drastic manner before. I now had to decide. I could run back to the border, and by the time they turned the car I could probably be long gone and it would be easy to hide. If they chased me on foot I was confident I could outpace them. But either way I would be without my rucksack that I had foolishly put in the car boot. Not ideal.


Alternatively, I could dash back to the car and try to open the boot and grab my rucksack before they grabbed hold of me, but that would almost certainly end in a fight. Not good.


Or I could get back in and, fingers crossed, all would be ok. I tend to have a very positive attitude to life in general. Things just seem to work out, at least that’s how it seems in my naivety. So, I dusted myself off and chose option three.


‘Tashkent? Well why didn’t you say my good man?’ Having just dived out of a moving car I have no idea what they must have been thinking as I climbed back in. Lunatic!


For the rest of the journey I was completely awake and aware of my surroundings, keenly watching where we were going, looking out for signs of civilisation or habitation (none), noting the route, and mentally preparing myself for action. They no longer tried to convince me we were heading for Tashkent. The charade was over. Finally, we arrived at a lone farmhouse where there were two more kind-hearted men, ready to assist me with my luggage, just like a first rate, international hotel. ‘Why thank you sir, so kind. Please take my bag. Oh, and my wallet too? Be my guest…’


They escorted me into the abandoned building. I noted there were no other houses around. Inside there was no furniture or decoration to speak of. Clearly it was long-since abandoned. Just a table in a rear room, a bare light-bulb swinging, and a single chair into which I was ‘ushered’. Images of the film ‘Midnight Express’ flooded my mind. I realised if I lived to see sunrise I would be extremely lucky. They took my rucksack and ripped it open it, tipping its contents onto the cold floor like spilled intestines. I started to complain but the largest of them raised a threatening fist. I saw no weapons but who’s to know whether they had knives or not. And besides, there were four of them, after all.


They spoke no English, but I understood there was some kind of hierarchy, as though they were in the military or the police. I also understood that the best thing was to comply. Comply with their every request. Comply, right up until that moment when I thought I was about to die. And then I would fight for my life. When it was clear that I was in mortal danger then I would have nothing more to lose.


They all stood over me as I sat. I reasoned, if I acted suddenly I could probably strike one or two before they would have a chance to react. I started to plan what I would do, who I would attack first, where I would hit them as I sprang into action. If I was lucky and decisive, maybe that would swing things in my favour. Maybe I would avoid death. Maybe I could facilitate an escape. But this really was a very, VERY last resort. Until then, comply.


They went through my rucksack fairly thoroughly and found my money, which they took. Obviously. They ignored my camera, passport and sunglasses which surprised me. It was only money they wanted. However, they did not search me, so they did not find the money belt I wore. I started to think they were nervous and unprofessional. I was not sure if that made them less dangerous or more.


Time passed, and they started to argue amongst themselves. I will never know what they were discussing, but the scowls, gesticulations and glances in my direction made me think they were arguing about me. And specifically, what to do with me. Do they kill me and dump my body? Or do they let me go and risk being identified? I knew that the border here was real bandit country. I knew that my chances were not exactly great. I was preparing myself for action. If it was going to happen, then surely it would be soon. I had to be ready. Complete surprise, just like my exiting their car like James Bond (or perhaps more Jonny English), was my only chance, and a slight one at that.


I had heard of the Stockholm Syndrome – where feelings of trust or affection develop in a victim towards their captor. I wondered if I could use this to my advantage, by developing some sort of positive relationship with them. To make them see me as a person, and ultimately to set me free. I hung my head and tried to look downcast, to prompt feelings of sympathy. I sighed deeply and wrung my hands in despair, and it seemed to work, with one or two of them at least. They were all smoking, so I asked for a cigarette. One of the more apparently empathic men gave me one. It felt like a condemned man’s last cigarette in a black and white film. I looked around my grim surroundings taking it all in. The bare floorboards, the peeling wallpaper, the damp stains on the ceiling, all the while drawing on my last cigarette. This shared cigarette gave us all something in common, some form of bond; I hoped. It was the oddest experience for me. I felt detached from myself, as though I was watching a movie from above. I was curious to see how it would end. Would the luckless traveller escape? Would he be set free? Or would this be his gruesome end?


The arguing amongst them continued, for a while. Fists were shaken and voices raised. The one who seemed to be in charge was still angry, but the two empathic ones definitely seemed to be fighting my corner. Or so I hoped. Finally, they handed me my rucksack, and $20, (which they then changed to $10). To me this meant life. They were not going to kill me. I felt indescribably elated. I had a rush of warmth – maybe some of that Stockholm Syndrome flooding in. I figured the money must be to pay a taxi to take me away from them. At this, the feeling of the night changed for me. If I was not going to die then this had gone from being the worst (and last) night of my life, to possibly the most fascinating adventure. I had $10 and a pack of cards in my backpack. Suddenly there were possibilities.


What if I could entice them to play poker and I was able to gamble all of my money back…? How cool would that be! What an ending to my initially unfortunate incident. I had visions of myself and my captors-turned poker friends, sitting in the smoke filled room, perhaps sharing a tot of whiskey while I hustled them and shared jokes through the international language of alcohol. But they weren’t for playing, alas. Undeterred, I thought that I really should have a photo of the event. Nobody’s gonna believe this has happened otherwise, I thought. They said no. Unsurprisingly. But wait – I wasn’t deterred. Like those books one sees written by ex-SAS soldiers with photos of troops with blacked out eyes to preserve their identities, I tried to mime to them that they could cover their eyes. Imagine, a photo of me posing with my captors, beaming at the camera with pockets stuffed full of my poker earnings, arms on their shoulders as they cover their faces. This time the leader thumped his fist on the table when he almost shouted at me. Ok, time to stop treating it like a game. Time to get away. And live.


A car finally arrived. I was ushered outside, and my captors bade me an ‘emotional’ farewell. This car had only one driver – I checked carefully this time. He whisked me away from the house, into the night. I looked back but they were quickly lost in the darkness. After all, there aren’t exactly any streetlights in that part of the world. He drove me back to the border, to the Uzbekistani side. I was alive. I was free. I was euphoric.


The driver, a grizzled and rough man who stank of cigarettes, probably in his fifties, then turned around to face me. He held out his hand, demanding money. Adrenaline had been coursing through my body for several hours now and I was still fairly pumped for action. This was just too much for me. It really was taking the mickey. They had had quite enough from me, thanks. Now I was sober and it was one against one, mano a mano. I swore at him in no uncertain terms. Despite our lack of a common tongue, he most definitely got my meaning. It would have been hard to misinterpret me. I got out and think I may even have slammed the door. This time however, I remembered my rucksack. I had been kidnapped for a few hours. It was now early morning. I was tired, cold and thirsty, and stuck at the border. What now? I may have been free, but unbeknownst to me my ordeal was far from over…


For some reason there were three other cars at the border. They seemed to have nothing to do with the kidnappers although I still have no clue what they were doing there at that time. I approached them and asked for a cigarette (they were smoking – obviously). One spoke a little English so I explained my situation to him and asked for help. Kindly he agreed to take me to Tashkent. When they’re not abducting you and threatening your life, they really are very decent people. I checked into the Sheraton, absolutely amazed that I was not dead and feeling extremely happy with life. I went straight to the bar – still open – and had the best beer of my life, whilst telling the barmaid, ‘I’ve just been kidnapped, don’t you know!’


The fact that I was now in Uzbekistan without actually crossing the border and without having my passport checked, did not register as important. Not yet, anyway!

 

 

Beneath the Night by Jen Colly

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Title: Beneath the Night
Author: Jen Colly
Pub date: 4/25/2017
Genre: Paranormal Romance

 

Beneath the Night - HighRes_512x768Sometimes survival means surrendering everything . . .

Lord Navarre Casteel wakes from a long sleep to find the vampire city he rules forever changed and his future in the hands of a mysterious beauty who offers her life for his. Fiery-haired Cat survives his feeding, fueling Navarre’s body and mind—as well as his suspicion that she is one of the Forbidden—a lethal mix of vampire and human blood. Yet that doesn’t stop the throb of Navarre’s desire, the feeling that she is destined to be his mate, to hell with consequences. . . .

A solitary fighter sworn to protect the children in her charge, Cat never expects to feel so much for Navarre in the face of his savage feeding. Which is why his offer of protection is nearly her undoing. For how can she let down her guard when she has always walked alone? But Cat has never faced an enemy like the one she faces now, never felt such a powerful need to surrender to the force of love . . .

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Author Bio:

Jen CollyJen Colly is the rare case of an author who rebelled against reading assignments throughout her school years. Now she prefers reading books in a series, which has led her to writing her first paranormal romance series: The Cities Below. She will write about anything that catches her fancy, though truth be told, her weaknesses are pirates and vampires. She lives in Ohio with her supportive husband, two kids, one big fluffy dog, and four rescued cats.

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Guest Post:

The Cities Below

Which cities? Below what? I see I’ve got some explaining to do. When I began writing about vampires I had one question that badly needed answered: What if vampires are real? Not were real in the past, but are real today. I certainly haven’t seen any, so where are they? Simple. They live out of sight. It’s hard enough to get on in this world without having an aversion to sunlight, the abnormal ability to process blood internally and heal most anything that ails you, not to mention fangs and an excessively long lifespan. I can hear the town folk with their pitchforks coming as we speak, and in all likelihood, that would be exactly what they’d faced centuries ago. Who wouldn’t want to protect their families from that kind of persecution? With sunlight being a death-inducing weakness, it only made sense for my vampires to live underground.

Several underground vampire cities are scattered throughout Europe, but France holds the largest population. The Cities Below series centers around the four major cities in France. Two cities, Balinese and Valenna, are in norther half of France. Talvane is within Paris (I can’t tell you where yet. It’s a surprise!), and Galbraith is farther south. A city full of vampires seems like it should be easy to find, right? Three of these cities are beneath structures, and though while one building is abandoned, and another visited infrequently, the third building is incredibly active. The fourth city is marked by a shed built into a hillside. Should you manage to discover which building, or which shed on a hillside marks the entrance to a city, you’ll never make it inside. Vampires guard their city’s gate, their people, and the knowledge of their existence viciously.


Do vampires live outside these cities and above ground? Of course. As with any society, this is bound to happen. But because of the creatures they are, even those living on the fringe have a rigid set of rules to follow. Exposing the existence of vampires could mean their extinction.

 

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