Tag Archives: Cargo

Update on Kate and Another #Freebie

So I’ve been working away on the next Kate Jones thriller, and wanted to try something new and give y’all a taste of what’s coming. As of yet I don’t have a title or a cover, although I’m working on the first, and Deranged Doctor Designs is doing the latter. Since it’s from the first draft, it’s possible that this scene won’t survive the editing knife, but I thought I’d post anyway to see what you guys thought. Comments and/or suggestions are welcome 🙂

One more thing: CARGO, the 4th Leine Basso thriller, is free through Monday. Here’s a link to the book’s page on my website where you can get the details: http://dvberkom.com/book/cargo-leine-basso-crime-thriller-4/ Enjoy!

Cover for Cargo

EXCERPT from the next KATE JONES thriller:

One

I stood in the dark hallway, going over what Angie had taught me. The knife blade had heft, a last-minute gift from my mentor. I knew all the moves, had practiced them with relentless determination, unwilling to make a mistake when I did the deed.

Committed the act.

Went off the rails.

What are you doing, Kate? Whispers from my good girl-self, long-buried all these years, echoed through my head.

Shut up and let me do what needs to be done. I’ll deal with the fallout later.

But isn’t that how you’ve always done things? Act first, ask questions later?

This is different.

How?

Be quiet. I’m in no mood to argue.

Angie had delivered her last lesson that morning. The memory came galloping back with a force that was difficult to comprehend.

I’d been lucky to survive.

My gaze cut to my right arm, as though I could see through the darkness and under the bandage, at the angry red wound it covered.

Angie didn’t dick around. I asked her to help me, had been shocked when she agreed.

I shouldn’t have been surprised. Money dictated her loyalties. With no current contract connected to my death, she couldn’t have cared less if I was standing in front of her at point-blank range, handing her a gun.

In her world, Kate Jones had ceased to exist.

But wave a bundle of crisp, hundred-dollar bills at her? Why, yes ma’am, what can I do for you this fine summer evening? Her southern red-head turned so fast, I was afraid she’d get whiplash.

A relief, really. After all those years of running, of looking over my shoulder, waiting for Angie or one of the others to strike.

Gone.

Poof.

One minute I’m scanning restaurants and street corners for suspicious activity, and the next, nothing. Nada.

Zilch.

From what I understand, it’s a lot like giving up smoking. All of a sudden, you have so much extra time on your hands. You’re at a loss, really.

And so it is with normal life. No more running. No more death threats.

No more fear.

But then again, there’s all that muscle memory. The fight-or-flight response that’s hardwired into our brains.

Kind of like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Maybe exactly like PTSD.

What else would explain my over-the-top reaction to, say, a book falling to the floor? Or a backfiring car? Or my obsessive situational awareness? Put me in a room and I instinctively move away from windows to the best vantage point in the space, eyes on the exits and back to a solid wall, checking out every person present, wondering if they’re a threat.

That’s no way to live when no one’s trying to kill you.

The bedroom door opened, and I moved deeper into the shadows. Soft footsteps padded along the corridor to the bathroom. The silhouette confirmed my suspicions.

It was time.

My good girl had evidently left the building, her recriminating voice finally silenced.

I crept toward the bathroom, my feet whispering silently along the polished wood floor. I was glad I’d used the disposable booties like Angie suggested. Not only did they reduce evidence left behind by my sneakers, but they silenced my footsteps as well as if I’d worn only socks.

What if Sam finds out?

There she was again.

I thought you left. Good girls need their sleep, right?

Not gonna happen, Kate. You know me. I’m tenacious.

Yeah, probably because of that damned “Minnesota Nice” I could never quite lose. There’s something to be said for growing up in the Midwest, although I can’t remember what. Polite is my default—even when I’m up to my neck in it and can’t see daylight.

It does have its uses.

Kind of like Angie’s southern charm. She may be a paid assassin, but she’ll give you a sweet smile as she pulls the trigger.

Or knifes you in the back.

The idea of Sam finding out that this was my doing gave me pause. A cop-turned-private I, Sam Akiaq was a long-distance runner, martial arts master, and the most accurate marksman I’d ever met. He was also an enigma, as he lived by a spiritual code I couldn’t begin to understand. It most likely had something to do with his Native Alaskan heritage. Either that, or it was all a ruse to get me into bed.

If so, it worked.

Being involved with a private investigator was the reason I crouched in the dark hallway of a remodeled Craftsman in a funky Seattle neighborhood, holding a wicked-looking knife and about to commit an act that badly needed to be committed. Although, if you asked Sam, he’d never believe I was capable of going through with it.

Me either. Except…

At the familiar sound of a flushing toilet I snapped back to the present and sprinted along the hallway to the open bedroom door. I’d surveilled the house long enough to know that my target didn’t do sleepovers, and that no one else was inside.

At least not tonight.

My sister Lisa’s face sprang unbidden into my mind. My cheeks flushed warm and my respiration increased, tightening my chest and giving rise to a mini-panic attack. I took a deep breath and slowly released it, just like Angie taught me to do, and the bands around my chest loosened. The assassin’s ability to remain calm under pressure still astonished me, although I don’t know why. She was a stone-cold killer with the personality to match.

You shouldn’t be here. Go home to Sam, now.

Ignoring the good girl and wondering where the hell my bad girl had gone—because I really could have used her at that moment—I crossed the room, skirted the queen size bed, and slipped inside the closet, leaving the door cracked open while I waited. The smell of cedar laced the air as I kicked a pair of shoes out of the way.

The bathroom door creaked open, followed by the sound of feet scuffling into the bedroom. I gripped the hilt of the knife and waited as the occupant kicked off their slippers and sat down heavily on the bed. The sound of covers being thrown back and a faint sigh as they settled in told me it was time.

Knife in my right hand, I stepped into the room.

END EXCERPT


Celebrate with a Book

So today I’m being featured along with CARGO on this cool site called Celebrate With A Book. The blog owner asks the same question of all her author guests: “What makes you write what you write?” Click here for my answer and to find out  which genre I chose for my first-ever book (hint: it’s sort of like fantasy…)

Cover for Cargo


Fun New Audio Interview on CrimeFiction.FM

Had a GREAT time chatting it up with Stephen Campbell about Leine Basso on CrimeFiction.FM… Tune in to find out how much of the material I include in the books is actually autobiographical 🙂

http://crimefiction.fm/d-v-berkom/


Where Did Summer Go: Part 1?

Holy cow! Where did August go? That’s the first time an entire month whooshed by so fast I was caught unprepared for the next. When I finally lifted my head up and realized it was September, I decided to take stock of the month to see why I was stumbling around in a daze with my coffee cup held out as I blinked from the blinding sunlight. (I’ve now switched to straight espresso and wear sunglasses…hasn’t helped.)

Cargo 3DAugust 1st saw the release of CARGO, the 4th Leine Basso thriller. Book launches always seem to consume more time and energy than I remember from the last one, and CARGO was no different. Add to that putting the finishing touches on the new website, signing off on new covers for the series, and making SERIAL DATE permafree, not to mention my parents being here for an extended visit, and the first week barely registered.

The second week of August had me scrambling to get everything into place before the big promotional push for SERIAL DATE, which was August 11th. I was lucky enough to score an ad with both Bookbub and EreaderNewsToday and can I just say, WOW.  The amount of downloads was stunning, with sales of the second, third, and fourth books shifting at a brisk pace (including print, eBook, and audiobook). Peripherally, the Kate Jones series also picked up several new readers. I’d decided to make the first in the series permafree across all platforms, and would do it again in a heartbeat. Sales continue on all of the sites, as do new reviews.cover for Serial Date

Which brings me to the one caveat I have in doing this kind of promotion for a free book: you’re opening said book up to a LOT of people who will download and read it, even if it’s not in their preferred genre, which is great and all, but keep in mind that book is, in all probability, going to start racking up some not so great reviews. As of this writing, the book has garnered a few 1- and 2-star reviews from folks who, in no uncertain terms, REALLY did not like the book. I’m absolutely fine with that, since SERIAL DATE has a boatload of profanity and some seriously twisted scenes. Unfortunately, I can’t control what people think (except in my books 🙂 ) and always expect differences of opinion, most obviously with this book. But, be prepared–especially if you’ve written something that isn’t exactly all kumbaya…

Next, I took a break from August 14-16 to drive up to Mount Rainier with my family, where we stayed at Paradise Inn for two nights. We all had a fabulous time: the food was great,

dining room at Paradise Inn

photo of Paradise Inn at Mt. Rainierthe weather was phenomenally clear (we saw the mountain all three days, which is unheard of–she makes her own weather and her peak is generally obscured by clouds),

photo of Mt Rainier

and the hiking sublime.

DV hiking

The first night we went to to a presentation by a couple of visiting astronomers and it was clear enough to see the Milky Way and several different constellations–we were at the tail end of the Perseid meteor showers, too, and saw a plethora of shooting stars. The next day Mark & I hiked the Skyline Trail and got up close and personal to Nisqually Glacier. As an Eagle Scout Mark had hiked the trail many times with his troop, and hadn’t seen the glacier for several years. He was shocked by how much it has receded. Still and all, it was an amazing visit.photo of Mark on Skyline Trail

A day after we got back from Rainier, I flew to Appleton, Wisconsin to attend the fabulous Writers’ Police Academy. Stay tuned for Where Did Summer Go: Part 2 tomorrow…

 

 


Writing and the Unsung Heroes: Enter the Expert

BBC creditsHow many times have you watched a movie in a theater and actually stayed through the credits? You know, when stuff like “Best Boy Grip” or “Assistant to Mega Star” or “Star Stalker Head Buster” is listed on-screen? With all the films adding extra scenes at the end these days, it’s almost mandatory.

The sheer number of people required to make a movie always amazes me. The idea’s hard to wrap your head around, right? What? They need that many assistants for what’s his face because he rocks his inner diva better than a Kardashian?

Well, it got me thinking (be afraid) about what goes into writing a novel. Novelism (okay, not a word, but it should be) does not always involve the solitary wordsmith slaving away in a garret in Paris with only a flagon of wine and five-year-old cheese to sustain her. Oh, contraire, mes amis (and yes, that is the extent of my French, except for maître d’. And champagne.)

May I present the idea that it may take a village to raise a kid, but it takes many, many patient and Cargo 3Dhelpful people to finish a novel. For instance, in the latest Leine Basso, Cargo (Shameless Plug: available right now, today! Links to your upper right 🙂 ) I was unsure how many containers I could stack on a container ship, and how big of a ship I was going to need for some pivotal scenes. I began my search online, of course, but if you’ve ever looked for something on the interwebz, you know it can leave a LOT to be desired. Mainly, is the source valid? Can I believe what I’m reading? Are there extenuating circumstances I need to be aware of?

First level of twistlocks on a containership deckEnter The Expert. For this particular subject I was able to check in with my brother-in-law, Brian, who spent many years as a merchant marine aboard container ships sailing to points hither and yon. He steered me toward the perfect sized ship and corrected several of my assumptions about safety and security on board. Of course, actually knowing the expert is a plus, but I could have also called or emailed a shipping company and asked to speak with someone who would be willing to answer my questions. Most folks are happy to talk about their work, and some even enjoy helping an author out.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, writing Cargo was a huge stretch for me (as was A One Way Ticket to Dead—more about that later) but the perfect expert uncannily appeared at every stage of the book. The story deals with trafficking—human, ivory, endangered species, you name it—and sheds light on the dark, disturbing underbelly of the criminal world. Since I’ve written about the subject before, I have a crap-load (scientific term) of information on human trafficking, but when it came to smuggling, ivory poaching, Thailand, Africa, snipers, etc. I needed to turn to far more knowledgeable people.

Okay, confession time here. I set Cargo in Tanzania instead of Kenya or Democratic Republic of the Congo or New Jersey because I have a good friend who lives there. Mike has been an invaluable resource and has given me a resident’s perspective, ramping up the believability factor. The insider angle combined with hours of research has hopefully made the sections of the book set in Africa much more realistic than I could have ever done on my own. I mean, did you know that when a hyena crunches through bones it sounds similar to someone eating popcorn?Hyene amneville

Yeah. You don’t hear that every day.

Another challenge to writing this novel (and the Leine Basso series in general) is that I have not been trained as an assassin, nor have I ever killed anyone.

I know. Shocking.

In yet another spooky cool, writer-geek moment, I reconnected with an earlier contact that had served in Special Forces and now trains Special Ops. The first time I worked with him was on Yucatán Dead (I’ll refer to him as Special Forces Dude, or SFD). I’d decided to create an ex-SF operative who was helping vigilante groups fight the Mexican drug cartels, except I didn’t have a contact in that arena.

Until Zumba.

Suffice it to say, a writer friend introduced us (and yes, Zumba was involved), and SFD agreed to read the scenes I was unsure about and give me feedback. The character of Quinn and his group of soldiers is based on his detailed comments, as are the scenes involving them. Needless to say, I think they are some of the best characters and scenes I’ve written.

Then came A One Way Ticket to Dead. Wow—did I have help with that book.

cover for A One Way Ticket to DeadThe novel began as a Kate Jones/DEA/FBI thriller. I reconnected with Gary, a retired DEA supervisor from Texas who had rescued me from making some truly horrible mistakes in Bad Spirits. In the course of discussing several scenes involving my drug lord character, he suggested I use steganography which became a major plot point in the book. I’d also been introduced by a writer friend to another LE adviser for the FBI scenes, so I had that angle covered. Then I ran a gun scene past SFD, and he suggested I bring Quinn back and have Kate help with recon, exponentially upping the stakes.

Well, yeah.

So I learned about HALO jumps, extractions, how to do reconnaissance the SF way, and all sorts of amazingly cool stuff, ripping open my inner warrior—which, relatively speaking, I never knew existed. Being the amazing teacher that he is, SFD uses PowerPoint presentations to explain tricky concepts, ensuring that I understand. The visuals go a long way toward helping me write scenes.military dog w chute

There’s nothing worse than not knowing what the hell I’m writing about. To be honest it keeps me up at night. I want the best possible experience for the reader and getting details wrong prevents that from happening. There is so much I don’t know. Having access to people who do is an amazing resource and reduces the cost of therapy.

In Cargo there’s a scene where Leine reverts to her old ways. Quelle surprise (and you thought I wouldn’t find another place to insert my limited French 😀 ). As it involved taking someone out with a sniper rifle, I wanted authenticity. And yes, I’ve used a rifle, but have never been a sniper. Turns out, SFD had it covered. He also tweaked the big gunfight scene at the end. Surprisingly, I’d gotten a lot of it right.

sniper rifleWell, when you consider all the help I’ve received, maybe it’s not so surprising.

Along with several kick-ass alpha and beta readers (one of whom is turning out to be a fantastic developmental editor), a truly supportive critique group, and a flat-out sterling editor, I’m so grateful to the generous people who have shared their time and knowledge with me. Because of them I’m able to craft exactly the stories I envision, and I can’t thank them enough. As others have said before, writing a novel is not a solitary endeavor.

How about you? Writers, what types of experts have you worked with? Readers, how much does it matter to you that the writer gets the details right?


Giveaway Mania

Got a couple of giveaways happening with the Leine Basso series and wanted to share. But first, look what came in the mail today 😀

photo of Cargo advance copies

Always a treat when the ARCs come…

back cover for Cargo

Back cover

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

YAY. CARGO is almost live! The book is set to drop August 1st (Saturday). If all goes well, the print version will be available at the same time as the eBook, so if you’re a fan of paperbacks, I’ve got you covered.

I’m oh so happy with the cover art by Deranged Doctor Design~ it didn’t hurt that they were a dream to work with 😀 I think the back cover turned out pretty well, too. This time I broke down and finally ordered matte covers and I LOVE them. Yeah, I know they’ve been available for a while (okay, a long while) but what can I say? I’m stubborn. This shit takes time.

And now, on to the free stuff!

First up is a chance to win a signed ARC (advance review copy) of CARGO from the fine folks over at Goodreads. (Who knows? The copy in the photo above could be yours!) Ends this Friday, July 31, 2015. (If you’d rather read an eBook, you can click on the pre-order links at the top right of this post and order your very own copy today. C’mon. You know you want to 🙂 )

 

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Cargo by D.V. Berkom

Cargo

by D.V. Berkom

Giveaway ends July 31, 2015.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

Next, I wanted to let y’all know that the first book in the series, SERIAL DATE, is FREE to download oncover for Serial Date most platforms:

iBooks

Barnes & Noble

KOBO

Amazon hasn’t reduced the price yet, but if you need a copy for your Kindle you can download the MOBI file from Smashwords here.

And there you have it. I’m still working on some posts for later in the week, so I hope you’ll stop by. I’ll be giving away more stuff, of course 🙂

Have a spectacular Monday!


All The News That’s Fit to Print

Cover for CargoWell, it’s official– CARGO, Leine Basso #4, is available for pre-order! (link is to Amazon–other retailers coming soon.) Here’s the description:

Money—the universal merchant. Anyone can be bought, anyone can be sold.

Anyone.

Haunted by memories of an op gone bad, former assassin Leine Basso travels to Bangkok in search of a missing backpacker. With help from an old contact, she discovers the man responsible for the girl’s disappearance is connected to a violent Hong Kong triad and is the linchpin of an extensive trafficking network—both animal and human.

Making enemies isn’t new for Leine, but making one in the triad is—she soon finds herself a prisoner on board a cargo ship headed for sub-Saharan Africa. To ensure her survival and to continue her hunt for the missing girl, she must join forces with Derek, an ivory poacher who promises to help her.

For a price.

As her involvement intensifies, Leine delves deeper into a disturbing and treacherous criminal underworld where everything has a price.

Click here for an excerpt.

CARGO was pretty far outside my comfort zone (so what’s new, right?), but the perfect contact/information appeared each time I needed it–so often, in fact, that it became downright spooky. The book contains a scene that was one of the hardest I’ve ever written and deals with an issue I feel strongly about. I’ll do a post on that (and other interesting factoids I discovered) in the near future.

I’ve also been working with a designer over at Demented Doctor Design (fitting name, right?) to re-brand the Leine Basso series. Here are the new covers:

Serial Date eBook Cover1563x25001563x2500 eBook Cover Bad TraffickeBook Cover 1563x2500 The Body Market Cover for Cargo

 

 

 

 

I wanted a more cohesive feel as well as something instantly recognizable, and I think they nailed it. I absolutely love the model–she reminds me of Leine: cool and classy, and sexy in a slightly intimidating way… 🙂

Only thing, though. You know when you paint a room a different color and all of a sudden the furniture looks out of place? Yeah. When I embarked on changing the covers, I realized my website was looking a little tired and I did a complete overhaul. You can check it out here. It’s a work in progress, but you’ll get the idea. It is now mobile-friendly and I think easier to navigate. Using WordPress.org was a steep learning curve for me since I’d created the old site with Dreamweaver, but I’ve been able to figure out what I needed to, in no small part to the awesome tutorials at StudioPress.

audio book -the body marketSome GREAT news for all you diehard audiobook fans–the fabulous Kristi Alsip has agreed to continue on as the voice of Leine Basso, and will narrate both The Body Market and Cargo. Look for the new titles on Audible, Amazon, and iTunes in the near future.

One last thing. While completing the final edits for CARGO, I got the exciting news that THE BODY MARKET was chosen as a B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree. Whee! The medallion is a much-coveted indie award given out by a groupBRAG Medallion of international readers, and I’m pretty stoked. I’ll be doing an interview with one of their affiliates in August and I’m really looking forward to it.

Well, that’s it for now. In the coming weeks I’ll (hopefully) be back to posting more often. I hope y’all stay tuned! Happy summer 😀


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