Category Archives: Kindle

A One Way Ticket to Dead is NOW LIVE

cover for a one way ticket to deadIT’S ALIVE! The latest Kate Jones Thriller, A One Way Ticket to Dead is now LIVE. This book has been a loooong time in coming and I am really stoked.  It will be available March 7th-15th for the special price of $2.99 at all your favorite etailers. (After March 15th, the price changes to $4.99.) Here are the links: Amazon, BN. The Smashwords version will be available either later today or tomorrow (The print version will be available later this month. Look for it at the iBookstore, Diesel, Kobo, et al.) **UPDATE** Here is the Smashwords link.

There’s plenty of action and suspense in A One Way Ticket to Dead, and some of your favorite characters are back: Sam, Cole, Angie, and the commandos from Yucatan Dead all make an appearance in this high-octane, edge of your seat thriller. To celebrate (and because I can’t wait, either) here’s a taste:

Chapter 1

 I NEVER DREAMED I’d come back.

I shouldn’t have.

Even though I told myself things were safer compared to when I’d passed through all those years ago, deep down I knew I was only kidding myself.

The deepening shadows brought scant relief from the blistering heat, although the lower the sun dipped on the horizon the more bearable it became. The sun set early in this part of the world. I took a deep drink from my water bottle and wiped the sweat from my face with the back of my hand.

And waited.

I’d changed my hair for the umpteenth time and wore brown-tinted contacts so I’d blend, but there’s only so much a girl can do to change her appearance short of surgery. Thanks to Quinn and his lies, the men who had tried to kill me thought I was dead. For now. The ruse wouldn’t last long, not if someone from the old days got curious about the new American woman in town.

No sense lingering longer than I had to. Find the stash if it was still there, then get the hell out of Mexico.

The tiny house on the even smaller lot looked like the owner had lost interest and decided to let nature take its course. Dirt-green vines strangled the walls as if they were trying to squeeze the last drop of moisture from the filthy stucco. The cracked and faded flower pots flanking the walkway grew dirt in profusion, their long-dead occupants a distant memory. Two lime trees in the side yard still shaded my target. The ground looked like it hadn’t been disturbed in all the time I’d been gone.

If my luck held.

I’d spent the day and evening before casing the place, watching for signs of life. The house appeared abandoned. How much longer could I stay without arousing suspicion? More time than absolutely necessary in Los Otros made me nervous, and I itched to get the deed done.

My stomach growled as I walked back to the rental. With a loan from Luis, my contact in the Drug Enforcement Administration, I’d chosen an unassuming Nissan Versa with plenty of dings and scratches. I told him I needed to find someone before going back to the States now that Roberto Salazar was dead. At first Luis had argued, asking why I’d even consider staying in Mexico, but finally relented when I told him I owed my life to this person. Nothing he said would change my mind.

Memories of the old man who’d saved me from being gunned down in the street eleven years before flooded my mind. Oggie. Vincent Anaya’s right-hand guy, Frank Lanzarotti, put a bullet in him as we left Oggie’s house. I’d never forgiven him and felt grim satisfaction when Frank had been shot. This final trip through cartel-country wasn’t only about the money.

I got in the car and turned on the air while I ate the now-cold tamale I’d bought earlier. I could have gone back into town and gotten something else, but wanted to keep my visibility to a minimum. Old friends would not be a welcome diversion and I’d already risked discovery by staying the previous evening at a nearby hotel.

Hours later, after I’d moved the car twice and taken a fitful nap, I parked in the dirt-track alley behind the house and cut the lights. From behind, the abandoned house took on a miserable, thoroughly depressive mien. I could almost make out the dark windows and back door, all three of which appeared as though they hadn’t been seen to in years. The backyard where Lana served me dinner so many lives ago was grown over with tenacious vegetation, the kind that could survive drought-ridden, remorseless summers.

What had finally prompted Lana to leave? I tried to imagine her happy, dragging her sadness and the fallout from the choices she’d made to wherever the wave of her life deposited her. All that came to mind were bottles of cheap tequila on a beat-up nightstand and dark, lonely sojourns with men who didn’t care.

Bad choices put me in this backyard of a tiny, run-down two-bedroom casa at the end of an unpaved street in a one-horse Mexican town. I hoped this wasn’t another of those.

Bad choices, I mean.

I popped the trunk and walked around to grab the pickaxe and shovel I’d purchased the day before, along with a large backpack. My idea was to work as quickly as possible until I’d unearthed the stash of gallon-sized plastic bags, backfill the hole and leave. I glanced through the rear window at the glowing clock on the dash: a quarter past three. The post office wouldn’t be open for hours. I’d have a long wait.

I walked along the back of the house to the side yard, picking my way past rampant prickly pear and creosote and paused in the shadows to listen. The wind slid past me, circling my bare legs, churning the dirt at my feet into a dust devil that swirled and crested, and then disintegrated into the night. The breathy hoo of an owl nearby assured me I wouldn’t work alone.

The three other homes on the street remained dark, signifying no one on the block suffered from insomnia, at least not tonight. The houses were far enough apart and on the opposite side of the unlit street from where I’d be working so it was reasonable to assume my efforts would go unnoticed. One of the three boasted a noisy swamp cooler that clanked in protest at the stifling night air, helping to further disguise my activities.

I proceeded to the lime trees and leaned the shovel against the house. The new pickaxe broke through the caliche easier than I remembered and soon the earth resembled a miniature plowed field. Afraid I’d damage the plastic bags or wake up light-sleeping neighbors I reined in my enthusiasm a few inches deep and switched to the spade.

Though not as noisy, the shovel took much longer to dig the remaining depth of the hole. About an hour later, when I still hadn’t hit what I was looking for, worry crept in like a feral cat scrounging for food. What if it’s not here? What if Lana somehow found it, dug it up, and is now living large somewhere in South America?

Well, then I’d have to figure out something else. If it was gone, I’d be shit out of luck. I straightened and took a deep breath, collecting my thoughts. Panicked and wired from dodging death that night so long ago, I thought I’d be back to retrieve the stash long before now. A faulty memory could be the reason I hadn’t found it yet.

Or Lana was dancing the tango in Argentina.

Discarding the tango possibility, I stepped past the freshly dug hole to survey the yard. Closing my eyes, I thought back to that night, the memories resurrecting long-buried emotions. So many years of running, of looking over my shoulder, never being able to live a normal life.

So many friends lost.

Fallout from a bad choice made long ago. Payback, I supposed, for being stupid and young and attracted to shiny things. My fingers curled around the onyx jaguar figurine I wore around my neck. Now that Salazar was dead, I hoped my life could get more or less back to normal.

Then again, what the hell was normal?

I opened my eyes and took in the lime trees, the house, the surrounding vegetation. The yard had looked different back then. Well-tended. Then it hit me.

Unchecked catclaw choked the tree trunks, creating an optical illusion. I’d misjudged the distance of the stash from the base of the tree and had dug too far out. Once again working the pickaxe, I hacked away with new purpose at the base of the overgrown shrub until I cleared a space where I gauged the target should be.

Rinse, repeat. Switch to the shovel.

Focused on digging, I didn’t realize I had company until it was too late.

“Hey,” a voice demanded in slurred Spanish. “What’re you doing?” The rank smell of cheap tequila accompanied the words. Slowly, I turned.

His features semi-distinct in the darkness, the man swayed on his feet, his thick torso and muscled arms reminiscent of a man who worked long hours lifting heavy things. I gave him a half-smile and tightened my grip on the shovel.

“My friend Lana asked me to stop by her house and pick something up for her. I noticed the vines were choking the tree.” I glanced over my shoulder at the offending catclaw. “She’d be very upset if one of her trees died, so I thought I’d clear some of it away before I left.” Not a great story, but the man was obviously drunk, so I didn’t think I’d have to be too convincing.

With a puzzled expression, he swiveled unsteadily on his feet, glancing first down one side of the street, and then back the other way before returning his bleary gaze to me and the shovel. His expression morphed from perplexed to concerned, transitioning to a leer.

“You’re a liar,” he slurred as he lurched toward me. “No one lives here.” He took another step closer. “You do somethin’ nice for me, an’ this’ll jus’ be our lil’ secret, yes?” he stage-whispered, reaching for his fly. I hoisted the shovel over my head. I couldn’t afford to wake the neighbors.

“One more step and you’re going to have one hell of a headache come morning,” I said, my voice low.

“Huh?” He gaped at the shovel in my hands, incomprehension clouding his face. Frowning, he wiped his hands down the front of his shirt, his confusion obvious. He closed his eyes for a moment but lost his balance and stumbled to one side, barely catching himself before taking a header onto the street.

Aye carumba,” he muttered, shaking his head. Obviously unhappy with the way things were turning out, he waved me away, mumbling incoherently to himself as he zigzagged a path down the street.

I lowered the shovel with a sigh. I’d have to work faster, in case he came to his senses and raised an alarm.

Forty-five minutes later the muted clang of metal against dirt changed to a dull thud. I cut in around the spot with the edge of the shovel and then scooped out the rest by hand, revealing a dirt-encrusted bundle. My heart beat faster as I slid the tip of the shovel underneath the plastic bag and pushed down on the handle, leveraging the first package out of its resting place.

Eight gallon-sized bags later, I stopped to take a breath. I leaned the shovel against the tree and knelt down. The outer bags had become stiff from the dry and the dirt and the heat, but remained intact. I grabbed one and opened it, removing the inner bag, which was surprisingly flexible. I flashed on how long it would take for plastic to degrade when it wasn’t subjected to light, like in a landfill. Our civilization would be long gone before that ever happened. For now, I had immense gratitude for the durability of plastic.

I slid open the plastic zipper holding the bag closed and reached inside for a stack of bills. Money in hand, I flipped through the hundreds with my fingers, fanning my face.

Still there. Still intact.

Yes.

Once all eight bags were safely inside the backpack, I zipped it closed and stood, kicking some of the dirt back into the hole to make it look less obvious. Since the house had evidently been abandoned and my visitor had been quite drunk, I doubted anyone would take notice, at least long enough for me to disappear. I picked up my tools and the hefty pack and returned to the car, my heart light. With Salazar dead, even if the home had been on a cartel watch list, it wouldn’t be now. They were tenacious, yes, but that would be too obsessive, even for cartel thugs. Besides, they thought I was dead.

I threw everything in the trunk and climbed into the driver’s seat. One more errand and I’d be long gone.

Goodbye, Mexico. Hello, freedom.

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Awesome Authors–Ellis Vidler

photo of the authorMy guest today on Awesome Authors is the fabulous mystery-suspense author, Ellis Vidler. I’ve known Ellis since I found the supportive writer’s group, Sisters-in-Crime, and their sub-group, the Guppies. Ellis is an author, editor, and speaker. She grew up in North Alabama, studied English and art at All Saints College for Women, and thoroughly enjoyed studying creative writing under the great Scott Regan. She also taught elements of fiction at a community college. Her home is now the South Carolina Piedmont with her husband and dogs.

(From the author’s bio): As a child in the South, Ellis spent long, hot days imagining herself an Indian or pioneer or musketeer. At night she (and her whole family) read. From Tarzan and D’Artagnan to Anne Shirley and Nancy Drew, she lived them all. No angst in her childhood. So what did she do as an adult? Write fiction, what else? She loves creating characters and making them do what she wants, but mostly they take off on their own and leave her hurrying to catch up.

Hi Ellis! Thanks for joining us 🙂 Tell us a little about yourself and your writing:

EV: I grew up on everything from Tarzan to Nancy Drew and Jane Eyre, and I’ve always loved reading and writing. My career began with illustrating and morphed into editing and technical writing. Now I write fiction and love it.

DV: When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

EV: I can’t remember not wanting to be a writer.

DV: What compels you to write?

EV: The characters in my head—they want to have their stories told, even though the stories evolve and shoot off in new directions as I write them.cover for cold comfort

DV: What do you enjoy most about writing in the crime genre? Dislike? How much research goes into one of your books?

EV: Suspense is what I aim for, but there’s always an element of romance. Relationships are part of life, and for me, they make a story richer. I can’t stick with the required elements long enough for them to be called romances. For example, in Prime Target (coming out late this year) the main characters don’t meet until Chapter 10, a no-no in romance, but that’s the way it worked out. It’s a love story on my terms.

I research everything, trying to get the details right. It’s an obsession, but it’s also a good way to get sidetracked. One interesting fact can lead me down a lengthy detour.

“Relationships are part of life, and for me, they make a story richer…”

DV: Sounds familiar 🙂 In the McGuire Women series, your protagonists have psychic abilities. Why did you choose to go in that direction with your main characters? What were the challenges you faced?

cover for time of deathEV: My grandmother was psychic. I think hers was considered telepathy. She knew when any of her family was ill or injured, no matter where they were. I was there and saw it, so I know it was real. After Haunting Refrain came out, I found out her brother had the same ability. Psychic ability has always fascinated me, in spite of the charlatans. One of my cousins has some of it; however, none of the family “gift” passed to me.

DV: Do you ever include your own life experiences in your plots?

EV: Yes, they do work their way in, but I alter them to fit the story. My main characters tend to like what I like and experience many of the same things. In Cold Comfort, Claire is with Riley in a small plane. The events of the flight and the storm actually happened to me and my husband—proof that ignorance is bliss.

DV: What are you currently working on?

EV: I just approved my first audio book, Time of Death (Note: see link at end of interview) Haunting Refrain will be out next month. I have two terrific narrators and can’t wait for the books to be released. Also, I’m trying hard to wrap up Prime Target and get it to my beta readers. I love it, but the story is different, and I don’t know how it will go over.cover for prime target

DV: That sounds intriguing! I can’t wait… What’s your process when you write? Do you outline or just get an idea and run with it?

EV: Until now I’ve been a pantser, running with a vague idea, but I’m determined to have something of an outline for the next book. I’d like to know if something’s not going to work before I’ve written 100 pages.

DV: I know that feeling 😛 Tell us about your road to publication. What words of wisdom would you like to impart to writers who are just starting out?

EV: Study your craft and persevere. My first book, Haunting Refrain, was much more luck than judgment. I had no idea how little I knew. It’s amazing that a publisher actually wanted it. I’ve been both traditionally and self-published. There are pros and cons to each. Writers have to decide which one suits them. Personally, I like the control I have in doing it myself and intend to stick with “indie” publishing.

“…I’m determined to have something of an outline for the next book. I’d like to know if something’s not going to work before I’ve written 100 pages.”

DV: Where do you see yourself in 5 years? Where do you see the publishing industry in 5 years?

EV: Ideally, I’d like to have several more books out. Ebooks are becoming more and more popular, but I don’t think print books are going to disappear. With the advent of earbuds and tiny players, audio is gaining too. It’s a very exciting time for writers—lots of change and opportunity but the main thing is still to produce a good story. That won’t change.

DV: What strategies work best for you when promoting a novel?

EV: Goodness, I’ve tried so many. Twitter, Facebook, freebies (I doubt if I’ll do any more of those), ads on certain reader sites… I have a blog with lots of articles, I but rarely post now.

Luck, timing, and word of mouth are the best, and you have no control over any of those things.

“It’s a very exciting time for writers—lots of change and opportunity but the main thing is still to produce a good story.”

DV: If you could travel back in time (or forward) where would you go and why?

EV: I wouldn’t give up electricity, hot water, the microwave, or the Internet. I like my creature comforts. 🙂  I’d probably go back to my twenties (a long time ago) and get serious about my writing sooner.

DV: Hmm. Good idea. Now, if I could just figure out where I put that pesky Time Machine… Thanks so much for stopping by today, Ellis! Good luck on your new releases 😀

If you’d like to find out more about Ellis and her work, please check out the links below:

Amazon author page:

Facebook

Twitter

Website

Blog

Buy links (Amazon):

Haunting Refrain

Time of Death

Time of Death Audio (NEW!)

Cold Comfort  (On sale for .99!)


Thriller Ink Interview

Keyboard and penThere’s a fun interview over at Thriller Ink today–find out why I write action/adventure and whether I put real people in my novels 🙂

http://thrillerink.com/d-v-berkom-author-interview/


ENT Picks Up Kate!

Ereader News TodayWoohoo! EReaderNewsToday has picked up the Kate Jones boxed set as a Bargain Book! ENT is one of the best venues to get your books out there (very solid results) and they’re the nicest people to work with 🙂 Here’s a link to the page: http://ereadernewstoday.com/more-bargain-and-free-books-for-12-7-13/6738079 (there are other bargain and free books included, too)

And here’s a link to their Facebook Page where you can find even more bargains (and FREE books, too!):  https://www.facebook.com/EreaderNewsToday


Boxed Set on Sale Today Through Sunday

Cover for The Kate Jones Thriller SeriesThe Kate Jones Thriller Series (Boxed set) is on sale today through Sunday! Here are the links:

NOOK

KINDLE (it’s a featured book today on Kindle Books & Tips-the link there will take you to whichever Amazon site you need)

This is the only sale I’m running for the holiday season, so if you haven’t already grabbed it, now’s your chance 🙂

And here’s a big, HUGE thank you for all your support–I truly appreciate it!

xoxoxoxox


Awesome Authors–K.S. Brooks

Today I am forced get to interview the curmudgeonly fabulous K.S. Brooks, multi-talented, multi-genre author and co-administrator of the global powerhouse that is Indies Unlimited. (Full disclosure: I am a contributing minion and I had to resort to extortion KS has graciously agreed to allow me an extra ration of gruel for posting this travesty interview.) What follows is the bio her hockey playing pool boy sent for me to use. I would be remiss if I didn’t warn you gentle readers that this insane concoction information could possibly be true–or not. Just remember, we’re talking about K.S. Brooks here. Consider yourself warned…

KS BrooksK.S. Brooks is an award-winning novelist and photographer, author of twenty-two titles, and co-administrator of the multi-author, multi-national website IndiesUnlimited.com. She is the creator of the Mr. Pish educational children’s book series as well as the Agent Night suspense series. Brooks’ feature articles, poetry, and photography have appeared in magazines, newspapers, books, and other publications both in the U.S. and abroad. In November 2012, she founded Indie Authors for Hurricane Sandy Library Recovery which provides brand new books to libraries in need at no cost. For more about K.S. Brooks, visit her website or her Amazon.com Author Page.”

And, without further ado, heeeeere’s K.S.:

D: Hi K.S.! Thanks for being here 🙂 Tell us a little about yourself and your latest release.

K: I’m an old, yet somewhat sexy (well, to people with bad eyesight), curmudgeonly hermit, who for the time being lives in the wilderness of northeastern Washington State. My first book was published in 2001. I came out here late in 2008 to write (and to get away from people – I told you I was a curmudgeonly hermit) and since then I’ve published 21 additional titles. (Technically, I started writing full-time in 2009.) My latest release of a novel is Triple Dog Dare, a humorous chicklit story I co-wrote with Evil Mastermind, Stephen Hise. The book was inspired by my dear, sweet, and somewhat mischievous Mr. Pish.cover for triple dog dare

D: Where do you find inspiration for your writing?

K: I get this question so often (at least I did back in 2011 when I was doing a ton of interviews. I’ve pretty much stopped doing interviews because of how time-consuming they are and because I hate answering questions.) that I actually wrote a post about it: http://www.indiesunlimited.com/2012/04/09/inspiration-phooey/

D: When did you realize you were a writer?

K: It might have been third grade. I’m not completely certain, but I do recall writing a ton of stories back then. I think when I saw that HG Wells had ripped off my story about the island of talking animals – well, that’s probably when it sank in.

“What the hell is this? is commonly heard in my home…”

cover for Mr. Pish Goes to the Farm

D: What has your road to publication been like? What made you decide to eventually go ‘indie’?

K: Well, that’s a long and complicated story, since I was literally – and quite accidentally – one of the first indie authors. The story of my bizarre journey was actually the first thing I ever wrote for Indies Unlimited – here – http://www.indiesunlimited.com/2011/10/25/my-strange-new-world-by-special-guest-author-k-s-brooks/

D: You are obviously a prolific writer. How hard is it to switch between writing children’s educational books, snark, and action/adventure?

Cover for Night UndoneK: I have ADHD, so it’s not difficult at all. In fact, I welcome the change in gears. It’s easy to burn out on a project. Having another one or two or ten in process simultaneously is very appeasing to my multiple personalities. The biggest problem I have, actually, is trying to figure out how to classify (by genre) what I’ve written once I’m done. Is it a romance? A mystery? A character-driven drama? I dunno. What the hell is this? is commonly heard in my home.

D: What are you working on now?

K: Now? If I told you, I’d have to kill you. Really. It’s top secret. Like really secret. Sorry. After the first of the year, however, I’ll be able to discuss the upcoming and long-awaited sequel to Lust for Danger, possibly a couple of comedies, a vampire book I have to write under a different name, a mystery, perhaps another Mr. Pish book, and if the Feds come through with my Witness Protection Program credentials, a seedy tell-all about some not-so-nice people.Author with Mr. Pish

D: What is your process like? Do you write every day? Have a certain word count? Do you have a ritual that you enjoy doing before sitting down to write?

K: I don’t have a process. I do what needs to be done. Usually that means doing nothing for most of the year and then cramming and releasing three or four books in one month. Rinse, repeat. Next thing you know – 7 titles added to the backlist! That looks really impressive to people who don’t realize the rest of the year I sat around eating bon-bons, watching Oprah, and getting my feet rubbed by the Indies Unlimited chimp. Life is trying, isn’t it?

D: Do you find you work better with or without deadlines?

cover for IU SnarkopediaK: I always make my own deadlines. I like doing that because then I can use it as an excuse not to do things that other people ask me to do which I frankly don’t want to do.

D: How much research do you do when you write your books?

K: Depends on how well I know the subject. I tend to over-research, which sometimes slows me down, but hardly ever is a waste of time. I’ve done research on everything from bomb detonators (why I’ve been on the FBI’s favorite people list since like 1991) to desert survival to marine life in the Falkland Islands. I’ve also taken a few punches, and gotten a concussion during the process. I wrote an article about some of my more extreme research “experiences” here: http://www.indiesunlimited.com/2012/06/21/dont-try-this-at-home/

D: In light of the huge changes in publishing, where do you think the industry is headed? Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

K: I have no idea. The way things change, so rapidly, anything could happen. One thing I know will not happen, however, is I will not be growing a beard like Konrath. A hockey player once told me that I am by far the least hairy person he’d ever met.

 “I sat around eating bon-bons, watching Oprah, and getting my feet rubbed by the Indies Unlimited chimp…” 

cover for Lust for Danger

D: What advice would you give to new writers?

K: Seriously – do your homework. You wouldn’t start a company without doing market research, interviewing vendors, and doing credit checks. You wouldn’t let your company put a product to market without testing it or researching your distribution choices. Give your work the same amount of attention, if not more.

D: If you could time travel, either to the past or into the future, where would you go?

cover for A Year with Mr. PishK: I would like to go to France, in the mid-1800s and be the first person to taste a croissant as it was invented. It would be nice if Alexandre Dumas was there, as well, so I could smack him for stealing my musketeer story ideas. And I took French for 6 years in school, so at least I could say those six years weren’t a total waste of time.

D: Thanks for stopping by, K.S. I assume the purple llama is yours, right? Right. He left a present on the carpeting. Most generous.

Anyway, here’s the description and an excerpt from Brooks and Hise’s new release, Triple Dog Dare. To find out more about K.S. Brooks, please see the links at the bottom of the post.

Triple Dog Dare.

When wealthy champion dog breeder Stu Hockersmith presents prize pup Lord Louis to lovely Bianca Jameson, he hopes to win her heart. Things don’t always go as planned. Bianca, oblivious to Stu’s amorous intentions, takes the adorable pooch back to California where she goes on to become a celebrated author, writing books about little Lo-Lou.

Bianca thinks she’s living the good life with her Norse god of a fiancé, former fashion photographer Lars Lundgren. When she realizes Lars has spent all their money and committed her to a new book with a looming deadline, Bianca pulls out all the stops to get the job done. But she doesn’t know about all of Lars’ deals.

To make matters worse, Stu is informed that gifting Lord Louis broke the kennel club bylaws and he now must get the pup back before his father’s legal team takes action against the woman he still loves.

Stu needs Lo-Lou to satisfy his father. Bianca needs Lo-Lou to finish her book. Lars needs Lo-Lou to work out a secret deal with a movie producer. Lo-Lou can’t be in three places at the same time. Or can he?

Triple Dog Dare is available from Amazon.com and Amazon UK.

From Chapter 23:

Terri started to protest, but Bianca spoke first. “I’m sorry Stuart. You’re right. We haven’t been honest with you.” She glanced down at her lap as if mustering courage. “The truth is, I’m in trouble. I foolishly let Lars handle the money so I could concentrate on my writing. He got us – got me – way in over my head. Among other things, he bound us to a contract to do another book without telling me about it, and we are way past the original deadline and even the publisher’s legal, lawyer-type period.” She seemed uncertain how to word her last sentence and fumbled a bit before looking over to Terri who nodded nervously and fervently.

Bianca swallowed and took a deep breath. “Luckily I bumped into Terri and she talked to the publisher and got us another two weeks to get them a manuscript. Even if we can actually finish a book in two weeks, that will only solve one of my problems. So there is the ugly, embarrassing, and humiliating truth.” When she finished speaking, she drooped a bit and stared vacantly at the plate before her.

Terri reached over to place a hand on Bianca’s arm in consolation and said, “We were hoping you might help us, Stu. I know now we should have been honest with you. I’m sorry. It was my idea, not Bianca’s.”

Stu felt the weight of his own scheme pressing hard upon his better conscience. He tried to tell himself it was okay, because he was actually trying to help them while they, on the other hand, had been hoping to finagle money from him. But there was Bianca – so sad – and showing genuine remorse, as was Terri.

“I haven’t been completely honest with you either. You may as well know the Colonel has initiated legal proceedings to recover Lord – I mean Lo-Lou. Under the Oakwood Hills Charter, the dogs technically belong to the corporation. It’s something that is done to protect the bloodlines. The long and short of it is that I didn’t really have any right to give him to you in the first place.”

The expression on Bianca’s face changed from one of regret and guilt to one of shock and horror. Her mouth dropped open. “You came out here to take away my dog?” Her posture stiffened and she sat back away from the table. Tears welled in her eyes. “On top of everything else? Lo-Lou is the only thing I have left!”

Stu felt a near-panic surging up inside him at her reaction. “Oh, no. No, not that. No no no no no. Well, yes, but not exactly.” Bianca burst into tears as he heaped this final, large straw onto her already heavy burden. Terri leaned over to hold Bianca in a consoling embrace and shot Stu a harsh, narrow-eyed look.

END EXCERPT

www.ksbrooks.com (official website)

https://www.facebook.com/KSBrooksAuthorcover for Bad Book

https://twitter.com/AuthorKSBrooks

http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3418971.K_S_Brooks

http://www.youtube.com/agentnight

More links at: http://ksbrooks.com/contact/links/

cover for Mr. Pish's Woodland AdventureMr. Pish:

www.MrPish.com (official website)

https://www.facebook.com/MrPish

https://twitter.com/MisterPish

http://www.youtube.com/mrpishvideos

More links at: http://mrpish.com/about-mr-pish/links/

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Awesome Authors–T.D. McKinnon

Today on Awesome Authors I’m thrilled to interview TD McKinnon,  author of multiple genres including speculative fiction, sci-fi and adventure-thrillers. Along with his eclectic writing interests, TD is a fellow Indies Unlimited contributor, an expert martial artist, and all around lovely human being.

Photo of TD McKinnon

TD McKinnon

(From his bio):

Born in Scotland in 1950 and raised in the coal mining communities of Scotland and England, T.D. McKinnon joined the British Parachute Regiment when he was just fifteen years old.  After spending five years in the British army he worked at a number of occupations, but for many years he was in high risk security.  A martial arts master in several forms he represented at national level, both in Scotland and Australia, and became a national referee.  Among many high-profile clients, his close personal protection company was responsible for the protection of a member of the Spanish royal family, and was also part of the local contingent, anti terrorist, security team for President George H W Bush’s Australian visit. 

Whilst at school, T.D. Mc Kinnon displayed a natural talent for writing, but it wasn’t until the 1980s, after moving to Australia, that he began writing again; submitting articles and short stories to various magazines, including Impact, Blitz and Combat, martial arts magazines, The Green Earth, an environmental newspaper, and  Cosmopolitan, to name a few.  However, it wasn’t until semi-retiring and moving to Tasmania in 2004 that he began writing seriously. Since then, writing prolifically, he has published five books, contributed to a children’s story book, has several projects currently in progress, and is a contributing author at Indies Unlimited.

D: Hi TD! Thanks for being here 🙂

T: It’s my pleasure entirely, DV.  Thank you for the opportunity.

D: Tell us a little about yourself and your writing.

T: I’m originally from Scotland, and I now live in North West Tasmania with my wife, Zoë, where I moved in 2004 to concentrate on my writing.  Since then I have completed five books.

D: Where do you find inspiration for your writing?

T: Many things can inspire me to write; usually it’s an idea that just won’t leave me alone.  My natural inclination has always been to write: to express myself, to work out a problem or look at an idea that has sprung to life in my head.  For instance, Surviving the Battleground of Childhood was something I had to get out of my system; it wasn’t until I wrote it that I was truly cured of my childhood devils.Cover for Surviving the Battleground of Childhood

 “…In my story I right the injustices that in reality weren’t necessarily rectified…”

Ideas come to me (sometimes in the dead of night) and, soon there after the characters speak to me, the story just cries out to be told.  It’s not like I have a choice.  I am quite an emotional person, and so I might be motivated by something that makes me angry, like injustice, for instance.  The outrageous injustice of a half buried, half told story about a chapter of Tasmania’s past inspired me to write Terra Nullius.

Injustice also inspired Utrinque Paratus; the story has a lot of truth wrapped up in it you see – some mine and some of several other people I know.  In my story I right the injustices that in reality weren’t necessarily rectified.

cover for Utrinque ParatusEach of my stories has enough truth in them for me to believe, to be involved and be totally invested in them.  Inspired by hope, Psychic Warrior is one of those stories that would wake me in the night; some might call it dreams but to me it’s a very personal story, containing a large portion of personal truth.  Lynne Cantwell said of Psychic Warrior:

I would put it squarely in the sci-fi quadrant of the speculative fiction roundhouse, except for a ‘whoa!’ twist at the very end that kind of made me wonder what McKinnon was on when he wrote it.  And I mean that in a good way.  And when you get to the last few pages of the book and go, ‘whoa!’ let me know what genre you think it ought to go into.”

D: Now, that’s an intriguing review! When did you realize you wanted to write?cover for Heathy Skye Wilson is the Psychic Warrior

T: I was seven years old and after coming first in my school year’s writing competition I was given pride of place at the school open-day.  After reading my story, Snowdrop the Polar Bear, the headmistress smilingly announced, “I do believe we have a budding author in our midst.”  Even though it would be fifty years before I published my first book; I knew from that moment that I was a writer.  By the way, I remember being motivated to write that story after first hearing about animals being killed for their skins.

D: What has your road to publication been like? What made you decide to ‘go indie’?

T: I couldn’t even begin to count the amount of rejections I received for my first book – firstly by the Big Six, and then by every major authors agent I could find to apply to; and that was at a time when most of them required hard copy submissions.  Eventually, my first book, Surviving the Battleground of Childhood, a memoir – the title gives a broad indication of the subject matter – was traditionally published by a small, UK publisher in 2008.  I traveled to the UK to do a four-week book signing tour at the Waterstones book stores, in and around the places I grew up; and although the tour went well, sales began stalling as soon as I returned to Australia.  Returning to Australia I did the same thing, with the same results.

cover for I was a Teenage Devil-But I'm alright Now!During all of that time, you can imagine there wasn’t much writing being done; having had enough of the getting published game, I went back to writing.  During the following three years I completed the sequel to Surviving: I was a Teenage Devil – But I’m Alright Now! which covers my time in the British Parachute Regiment (the infamous Red Devils).  I also wrote John Farrell is Utrinque Paratus, an adventure/thriller; Heather Skye Wilson is The Psychic Warrior, a speculative fiction; and Terra Nullius an historical fiction.  Along the way I was hearing more and more about the ePublishing scene and when I had five completed works, I finally decided to take the plunge.  That was at the beginning of 2012.

D: You write in several different genres: speculative fiction, memoir, historical fiction, action-thrillers. Which genre do you prefer?

T: Just as I don’t have a genre preference for reading, I don’t really have a genre preference for writing, and the best way I can answer that question is to say…  The one I am invested in at the time; if that makes any sense to you.

D: More than you know 🙂 What are you working on now?

T: I’m just finishing off a sci-fi novelette, which I’ve been going back and forward to for some time.  I am also in the process of writing an historical fiction based on the true story of the tragic events following the Battle of Culloden Moor (the last battle between the Scots and the English in the 18th century), which is redolent with history, mystery, deception and atrocities committed by the marauding English troops of the Duke of Cumberland; the real reason why, even to this day (just under the surface), the Scots despise the English.

D: I know of several friends who are interested in the Battle of Culloden Moor. Most are of Scottish ancestry. I’ll let them know when it’s released 🙂

What is your process like? Do you write every day? Have a certain word count? Do you have a ritual that you enjoy doing before sitting down to write?

T: After helping Zoë with the cats, I meditate and stretch most mornings, but truthfully, DV, I am not a very disciplined writer.  I can write up a storm when the mood, or rather the muse, takes me.  However, too often life gets in the way.  Unfortunately I still need to earn a crust doing things nonliterary, and along with one or two other commitments, as well as no longer being a young man, I am bound by certain physical limitations.

“…I believe the general consensus is, not so much ‘write what you know’ as, ‘know what you write.’  In other words, if you don’t know it, research it!”

D: Do you find you work better with or without deadlines?

T: I must admit that a deadline does make me perform; I don’t like them… but sometimes they might be necessary to make me shake a leg.

D: How much research do you do when you write your books?

T: That very much depends on what I’m writing; sometimes a lot of research is necessary, while at other times I need to do a damn sight more.  Seriously though, there is research to do no matter what the genre.  I have a good general knowledge in the areas I write, and we all have (what might be termed) specialist areas; I certainly utilise mine accordingly.  I also know my shortfalls (in terms of knowledge base) and do the applicable research.  This subject gets touched upon all the time at Indies Unlimited and I believe the general consensus is, not so much ‘write what you know’ as, ‘know what you write.’  In other words, ‘If you don’t know it, research it!’

D: In light of the huge changes in publishing, where do you think the industry is headed? Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

T: For the industry: I see hard copy books always being there, but as a niche market.  I see the big publishers scrambling for a place in tomorrow’s (into the future) market.  I see the independents dominating for a while but, as will always happen in a capitalist, structured society, someone will find a way to take control, capitalise and profiteer.  Hopefully, it will still be a better environment for serious authors, than the one we are currently leaving behind and, hopefully, a discerning, reading public will be the ultimate decision makers.

 On a personal level: over the years, as I was (honouring my commitments) doing what I was able in respect of supporting and bringing up a family et cetera, I was squirreling away ideas, concepts, story outlines (I have more than fifty projects at various stages) and basically preparing to do what I really wanted to do; and that is to write stories until I shrug off this mortal coil.  In real terms I have only just begun, I have confidence in the quality of my writing and I am counting on that discerning, reading public I mentioned to continue to take me, more and more, to their hearts.  As far as career goals, if that’s what you’re talking about (five-year plan); I will continue to ePublish, and if someone taps me on the shoulder and offers to do hard copies I’ll consider it.  I will always be open to movie offers of course… ha ha.  For various reasons, since the ePublishing move, I’ve been a bit slack in terms of completing another writing project (publishing another book) but I see for the future, on average, one or two books per year.

D: What advice would you give to new writers?

cover for Terra NulliusT: Writers write; what I’m saying is, if you are a writer, new or otherwise, you really have no choice about whether you will write or not.  You can choose how much and what direction you might take.  I believe you should write what pleases you most, what gives you the most value fulfillment.  Learn your chops, of course, by whatever means is available, and give some thought about what you want to achieve from your writing.  I would also advise that your incentive not be money.  If you, by your writing, happen to make money that’s excellent, but if money is the motivation you could be looking at a whole lot of misery; you would be better advised to seek your fortune elsewhere.  There has never been a better time for writers to get their work to an audience; however, you will be competing for readers in a saturated marketplace.

D: If you could time travel, either to the past or into the future, where would you go?

T: Hmm… interesting question, DV, and I would answer with a definite, ‘it depends on the rules!’ I know, I know… as it is not technically possible to time travel, the rules are what you make them.  OK, I was a collaborating author on a time traveling children’s story book, A Tumble in Time, in which I wrote the concluding two chapters.  When you write about time travel there has to be rules, they can be loose or they can be tight, but there has to be rules.  This was a children’s book (aimed at primary school children) and so the principles had to be fairly simple: you could not time travel to a time/space coordinate where you already existed, so you could go forward to anywhere because once you disappeared from this time you weren’t anywhere in the future until you turned up there; however, going back, the fabric of time would not accept you between your birth and the moment you disappeared.  That makes sense, doesn’t it?

My personal beliefs concerning time are far more complex: there are an infinite number of probable moment points – in the present, past and future – and, hypothetically, we slip seamlessly from one to another in our present all the time, depending on the choices we make.  So, if I could time travel, there would be no restrictions except perhaps that I could only visit a recent probable past in which I wasn’t currently taking part.  Seriously though, the simple answer to your question would be that I wouldn’t mind a peek at one million years in the future; it would be interesting to see if the human race is still around; because if it is, it will have had to evolve somewhat, both ethically and psychically.  Of one thing I’m sure, should we survive, we will still be telling stories and writing books in some manner.

D: Great answer 🙂 Thank you again for being here today, TD, is there anything you’d like to add?

T: Just that, as an independent author, there is a vast amount of work involved outside of the writing part; that can be said to be (for a writer) the easy part.  There is so much more to do, and I know that some independent authors manage it all by themselves; however, the majority of us have a lot of support from various sources.  You need the support of people who care.  I am very fortunate in that my wife, Zoë Lake, is an extremely talented individual, who handles most of the tasks and responsibilities, outside of actually writing my books, including proof reading and editing everything I write, book cover designs and artwork.  Zoë designed and constructed my website: http://www.tdmckinnon.com/ and she is my strongest advocate, my harshest critic, and my inspiration.  She also produced, directed, wrote my introduction speech, and did the voice over, on my recent YouTube promotion for Terra Nullius:

 So, for any writers out there thinking of going the Indie route, there is a lot to consider.  A good support group of people in a similar position is a wise idea too: for ideas, tips, general guidance and just to know that you are not alone.  I’ve looked at a few and rejected most; I was extremely fortunate here also to stumble across the best bunch of online, fellow independents you could wish to meet: at Indies Unlimited.  Being an independent author is not an easy route, but it is a very liberating road.

Thank you again, DV, for the opportunity to be here today.

D: Here’s a short excerpt from TD’s adventure-thriller, John Farrel is Utrinque Paratus:

EXCERPT

Breakfasting with MacGreggor and Bell, while making our training arrangements for the day, I slip in a casual, “I wonder what makes winning a relatively unimportant, unofficial competition so important to your boss?” In my peripheral vision, I observe the effects of my apparently casual comment, while seemingly focussed on my steak, eggs and mushrooms.

Dinga Bell seems to be sneering, and I don’t get the impression it’s directed at me; Alec MacGreggor shoots me an anxious glance before bringing his demeanour under control. But it’s Bell who, after a moment, says, “Fuckin’ stupit, if y’ ask me!”

“Naibdy’s askin’ you!” snaps MacGreggor, “An’ A’ve telt ye afore… A bit o’ respect!”

“Fuck you!” snarls Bell, defiantly, giving MacGreggor a full blast of those malevolent, cold eyes.

What happens next takes me completely by surprise as MacGreggor, moving extremely fast for such a big man, knocks the breakfast table across the room with a sweep of one brawny arm while reaching for Bell with the other. Bell is on his feet in an instant, a bone handled, open bladed razor suddenly in his hand. Flashing twice, the wicked blade lops three fingers from MacGreggor’s reaching right hand and opens up his face in a diagonal slice, like a ripe melon, from the corner of his right eye to the left-hand corner of his big, lantern jaw!

Instinctively moving back from the mêlée, I observe with a vague feeling of detachment as MacGreggor, initially not realising the extent of the damage, attempts to say something, but of course his mouth won’t work. Then the bleeding starts and, stunned, he looks down at his hand.

Bell, showing no emotion at all, backs off a step, glances briefly at me and wipes his razor on the white tablecloth from the next table; folding and putting away his blade, he casually turns and walks out of the dining room.

Ten minutes later, the hotel staff assisting throughout, I have a tourniquet on MacGreggor’s right wrist, his fingers are in an ice bucket, and with the help of a tablecloth I’m making an effort to hold his face together until the ambulance arrives. Had we not reacted promptly MacGreggor would probably have died from loss of blood. It’s going to be touch and go as it is.

 It’s at this point Sandy Campbell walks in. Giving me a perfunctory nod, he sits down and puts a gentle hand on MacGreggor’s shoulder.

“Oh… Alec… I told you to be careful of that wee boy,” he says soothingly, and as MacGreggor tries to respond he adds. “Hush now… don’t try to speak, I’ll hear all about it from Mr. Farrell here, later. You just relax, the ambulance will be here any second now, and they’ll have you fixed up in no time.” As if on cue the double doors to the dining room burst open and the ambulance men come rushing in.

END EXCERPT

To find out more about TD, check out his links below:

http://www.tdmckinnon.com

http://www.indiesunlimited.com/author-bios/

http://www.linkedin.com/pub/t-d-mckinnon/29/80/14a

http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5360776.T_D_McKinnon

Mobile site QR code or type this address: m.tdmckinnon.com

 qr code for TD's website

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