Friday, September 20, 2019 | By: The Write Way Cafe
Plot is people. Human emotions and desires founded on the realities of life, working at cross purposes, getting hotter and fiercer as they strike against each other until finally there’s an explosion—that’s Plot.
- Leigh Brackett
Thursday, September 19, 2019 | By: The Write Way Cafe

The Story Behind You Say Goodbye

The Write Way Café welcomes award-winning author Keith Steinbaum, who talks about his stories and his writing process.

Tell us a little about You Say Goodbye.
The premise of the story is this: The murder of an ex-rock star’s girlfriend leads a detective to conclude that the perpetrator is not only a renowned serial killer, but probably somebody the singer knows.

I refer to my novel as a Beatles themed whodunit murder mystery. For those Beatles fans that read this, they will recognize the title as a line from, Hello Goodbye. But something that any potential reader should know is that the book isn’t one that only focuses on the basic murderer vs. detective storyline that features multiple deaths in the search for the killer. I mention this because it was as important for me to develop engaging character relationships as it was to tease the reader about who committed the crime, especially the rapport that’s cultivated between a bitter ex-rock star and a little neighbor girl fighting cancer. And, by the way, that relationship is a main ingredient through the climax so both aspects work hand in hand up to the final page.

If You Say Goodbye was made into a movie, who would play your main characters and why?
Sean Hightower is the protagonist, a fifty-year old ex-rock star who’s now a bitter guy who feels his best days are behind him. Although my character is described as a man whose blond hair is now graying, an actor who isn’t blond, Paul Rudd, the Ant Man, has the face and mannerism to be a perfect fit. He’s still youthful enough to convince an audience that he’s a rock ‘n roller at heart, yet someone who could reflect an arc of maturity very well. I can’t answer for a child actor to play the little girl, but the grizzled Latino detective, Ray Maldonado, could be played quite believably by Raymond Cruz from Breaking Bad fame.

Who is your intended audience and why should they read your book?

The answer to this one is reflected in my answer to question # 1. For people who like to channel their inner sleuth and read a fun whodunit murder mystery, I believe I’ve delivered that for you. And, for those readers who want to be given the chance to fully engage in the characters and involve  themselves in interacting relationships that are integral to the storyline, then my book gives you that as well. Let’s just say that You Say Goodbye is a Whodunit with a Heart.

How did you become involved with the subject or theme of the book?
I’ve described the origin of my story in detail with a previous Write Way Café interview, so I’ll break it down briefly here. The little neighbor girl with cancer was patterned after a true story I came across in the obituary section of the Los Angeles Times about Alexandra Scott from the Alex’s Lemonade Foundation – a charity to raise money for childhood cancer. She started selling lemonade at the age of four after being diagnosed with cancer, and by the time she died at the age of eight, Alex’s Lemonade stands were in all 50 states, in much of Canada, and parts of Europe. The story both fascinated and moved me to a point where I cut out her photo and taped it to my office wall. After a number of months, I started developing a character to play off of someone like her who was so young and fighting for her life. And that’s how my protagonist, Sean Hightower, was born – a selfish, grumpy fifty-year old who feels that his best days are behind him and that life is a bitch (something he utters often). Eventually, after a couple of short story versions focusing on these two characters, I decided to write a murder mystery with these two highly dissimilar people playing prominent roles.

Who is your favorite character from You Say Goodbye and why?
This is an easy one for me – it’s Kayleigh Michaels, the little girl with cancer. As you can see from my previous answer it’s because of Alexandra Scott that this story ever came to fruition, so how could Kayleigh not be my favorite character? When I occasionally glance at my story and read some of the passages, it’s the Kayleigh scenes that either make me smile or make me get teary-eyed. For people reading this, thinking that I’m somehow exaggerating the effect that a character of my own creation can move me emotionally like this, authors will understand. Characters are born from the heart and in looking back at the words I wrote and the people I created, it can seem as if someone else wrote the story. What I learned from many years of writing poetry and song lyrics, that a right brain/left brain disconnect is part of the creative process also applies to novel writing; but magnified by a much greater amount because there’s so much more writing involved.

How about your least favorite character? What makes them less appealing to you?
I’m going to refrain from answering this one because if I offered a name it would be logical for the reader of this interview to feel that I wouldn’t name the killer as the answer to my least favorite character because that would be too obvious and thus that person would be eliminated as a suspect. And they’d be right!

Tell us a little bit about your cover art. Who designed it? Why did you go with that particular image/artwork?
James Avery is my website designer and at first there weren’t plans for him to be involved in the cover. But when I showed him an original concept he felt he could improve upon it. While writing the story, I visualized sheet music as the primary background with a portion of a gun showing. The irony here is that I believe the use of guns in promotional visuals, especially movie posters and billboards, have reached the level of cliché because they’re shamelessly overused. So look at what I did? That said, I felt it was imperative to tell much of the story through the cover – and this includes the gun, handcuffs, and the small portion of the Jack of Hearts playing card that’s peeking through from underneath the sheet music. For those who have read the story, they’ll know exactly how each item applies, but for those who haven’t, I’m offering a tease that I hope intrigues. The stark black and red coloring is consistent with the theme of the story and that was important to me. Going back to the gun, the last thing to mention is that the murderer uses a Glock 19 handgun and coincidentally James has a friend that has one so he ‘borrowed’ his friend’s Glock for the photo.

Tell us about some of the reviews for You Say Goodbye.
Receiving good reviews from friends or family is nice, but let’s get real – the ones that truly mean something are from those who have complete objectivity such as bloggers or book site reviews. I’ll mention three here that I find so validating and gratifying of my effort. OnlineBookClub.org, Reader’s Favorite, and the Book Excellence Awards. OnlineBookClub.org has been in existence for ten years and claims to have over a million members. I received a top four out of four star rating from their reviewer. The last I checked I’ve had over 1,900 clicks on the review and 135 members have the book on their ‘to be read’ shelves so that’s very encouraging. Reader’s Favorite is another solid, reputable book site that’s been around for a number of years, and their reviewer gave You Say Goodbye a top five out of five star rating. I also recently received notification that the book received an Honorable Mention placing in the Readers’ Favorite international writing competition for the Fiction-Mystery-Sleuth category. This means that I finished in the Top 8 voting out of hundreds of entries so I was thrilled with this news as you can imagine. Through them I’ve gotten the book promoted through a large number of media outlets so we’ll see what happens with that. The Book Excellence Awards is another international competition so they consequently also receive many hundreds of entries for each genre from various countries. I placed as a Finalist in the mystery category which is a great feeling of accomplishment.

Inspired by Alexandra Scott’s story, you were able to make a unique connection with her mother. Please tell us about that connection, and what it meant to you.
I’ll never tire of telling this story and despite the need for proper brevity forgive me if this answer requires a lengthier reply than the others. At the end of each year I donate to certain charities and it struck me as ironic that when I did this again near the end of 2018 I realized I’d never given money to Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation. After doing this online, I noticed on the home page that anyone could send a message to the founder of the charity, Liz Scott – Alexandra’s mother. Her website address was listed and as I stared at it I faced a ‘do I or don’t I’ dilemma. On the one hand, it was because of her daughter’s inspiring yet tragic story from the obituary section that the origins of You Say Goodbye eventually formulated and became a reality. On the other hand, however, this is a mother who lost her child to cancer and all I did was write a fictional novel so was this something even worth contacting her about? I decided that, yes, because Alexandra’s true story became such an integral part of my fictional story it was something I wanted her to know. I wrote a message of a few sentences explaining who I was and the effect her daughter had on this author from the other side of the country. Within a few weeks I received an enthusiastic reply saying how wonderful it was to know how Alexandra affected me as it did and that she’d like to read the book. She also suggested the next time she’s in Los Angeles that perhaps we could meet.
Los Angeles Loves Alex's Lemonade, 9/14/19 at UCLA
Keith Steinbaum with Liz Scott at UCLA
on 9/14/19, attending Los Angeles Loves
Alex's Lemonade charity event.

From those two initial communiqués, Liz and I have emailed each other a few other times and, yes, I of course sent her my book – signed and with a message telling her that I hoped my character, Kayleigh, patterned after Alexandra, did justice to the spirit of her daughter. I wish I could tell you that she read the book and sent me a glowing review but at this moment, I haven’t yet received a response about that. However, the final interesting part of all of this is that 5 days previous to this September 19th interview, on Saturday, September 14th, a large charity event for Alexandra’s Lemonade Foundation, called ‘Los Angeles Loves Alexandra’s Lemonade,’ will have been held at U.C.L.A., and by the time you’re reading this, I will have finally met Liz.

Fifteen years ago, in the summer of 2004, I read about Alex in the obituary section, leading to the birth of You Say Goodbye, and now I’ll meet and have a photo taken with her mother, Liz Scott. It’s going to be as surreal a feeling as I’ve ever had and I’ll cherish that photo for as long as I live.

For anyone interested in the Alex's Lemonade Foundation, be it learning about its origins, donating, or even becoming actively involved, this website has it all:  https://www.alexslemonade.org/

What can readers who enjoy your book do to help make it successful?
An underrated area of importance is writing a review to online sites such as Amazon, Goodreads, and Barnes and Noble among others. I don’t know about the other two sites, but Amazon, with their weird metrics, does depend on review counts for book exposure (or so I’ve been told). It only needs to be a few sentences but if someone develops a curiosity about the book, it would be an expected step to go to one of these sites to read reviews from others before making that financial decision to purchase it. If someone has read my book and enjoyed it, word of mouth is another way, of course. For anyone who lives in Los Angeles that belongs to a book club, if you’d be interested in having this author speak to the group about my book, you can contact me at keith@keithsteinbaum.com. And, finally, at the end of the year during the Holiday season, if you’re looking for a gift to give to somebody…

Do you have any tips for readers or advice for other writers trying to get published?
Dave Letterman used to have a Top 10 list. Here’s Keith Steinbaum’s Top 5 list (not necessarily in this order and no doubt there’s more I could add):

1. Research which companies publish your specific genre because they’re your target audience and you want to go straight to the source.

2. Google ‘Proper query letters for aspiring authors.’ You’ll get many links about this but just focus on the few that give you examples of what makes good ones and use that as a guideline for yours. Publishers get inundated with so many that you want one that shows you’re worth the next step.

3. Expect rejection after rejection, and often times no reply at all. This is why the more query letters you can send the better for you. In a creative writing class I took long ago, our teacher told us that there’s a ‘yes’ just waiting for you. It’s an important bit of optimism you’ll need through those trying times. But that teacher also opened up the class by saying if we were there with the goal of making money on a book, that was naïve. But if we were there because we had a story to tell, then we were in the right place.

4. Relative to # 4, we writers are a sensitive, often times insecure bunch, but you better develop as thick a skin as possible because prospective publishers don’t care about that. They just want a book that has marketability and fits in with their catalogue. You are just one of thousands (hundreds of thousands) of authors seeking the same thing from them – a contract offer.

5. If you finally get to a point where you feel that you’ve exhausted your list of possible publishers, and your patience has run out on your understandable desire to finally see that hard earned work of yours in print, the other alternative is, of course, self-publishing. However, because there are so many thousands (millions) of writers that choose this route, many ‘all show no go’ indie publishing companies have sprouted like so many weeds in the landscape and it’s easy to be taken advantage of with unfulfilled promises as you dole out a lot of money. I recommend going on Google for this as well and research which indie companies have the best track records of sales from their libraries. Those are the ones to focus on.

What can we expect from you in the future?
I’m quite fortunate that Black Opal Books, my publisher for You Say Goodbye, was also open to reading my previously self-published book, The Poe Consequence, as a possible acquisition for their company (as long as I owned 100% of the rights, which I did). And, as it turned out, after the Acquisitions Editor read it, I was offered a contract. The book was originally scheduled for release last month but I asked to have the release date moved back to March of 2020 in order to give me a full year to focus solely on the promotion of You Say Goodbye. But I’m looking forward to improving the book through the billionth editing where I’ll still find ways to tweak, delete, and add for the betterment of the story.

The Poe Consequence is a supernatural thriller with the following premise: After the death of an innocent bystander in a drive-by shooting, the two rival gangs responsible for his murder face an Edgar Allan Poe inspired vow of revenge from beyond the grave.

The release of The Poe Consequence will buy me some time to find the next source of inspiration to drive me back to the keyboard. I have a shadow of an idea that involves some kind of sports analogy with social injustice. If one day this actually comes to fruition, and the book is worthy of even being thought about, remember, you read it here first.

###

After a temperamental meltdown on stage, Sean Hightower, a regretful and resentful “one-hit wonder” rock musician hoping for a comeback, returns to his girlfriend’s condo seeking comfort from the woman he loves. But after letting himself in, he discovers her naked body on the bed, murdered from a bullet to the head. When the police detective arrives and sees the two taped pieces of paper on the wall with the word, “hello,” on one and “goodbye,” on the other, he realizes that the renowned serial killer, The Beatles Song Murderer, has struck again. In the days that follow, he reaches another conclusion—the Beatles Song Murderer is probably somebody Sean knows. Now the detective needs Sean’s help to find the killer.

Black Opal Books          Amazon          Barnes & Noble

iBooks          Smashwords          Kobo          Scribd


About Keith:
     After graduating college from UCSB, I set my sights on becoming a professional song lyricist after many years of writing poetry. Had I known through the haze of my naiveté and post college optimism what a difficult task this was to accomplish as a career goal, I would have focused on my other alternative of disc jockeying somewhere. I spent a couple years doing middle of the night work at the college station playing rock ‘n roll for those few listeners either partying or working night shifts, and I had about a hundred resume cassette tapes ready to send. I’ve occasionally wondered where this would have led me had I decided on this course for my career, but as it turns out, although I did have song on a popular album in America, and other songs recorded in a number of foreign markets, I wasn’t able to make a living as a lyricist and moved on into the field of landscape. But my creative writing flame continued to burn. Understanding that idea took time to realize through initial bouts of unhappiness lasting several years. But once I started focusing on poetry again, that’s where I rediscovered the untethered freedom and joy of writing without monetary goals.
     Fast forward to an eventual desire to write a novel, culminating in the completion of The Poe Consequence. As a buildup to the idea for the book, my landscape job entailed years of working in many low-income housing projects throughout Southern California, and, consequently, many neighborhoods with gang problems. This experience played a major role in formulating the concept for my story. Originally self-published, this past June I signed a contract with Black Opal Books for it’s re-release next summer. In the future  I’d like the opportunity to delve further into all the ingredients that factored into the creation of the book but I’m certainly gratified for receiving valued blogger reviews on sites such as Amazon and Goodreads, as well as other accolades.
     Winner of Books-and-Authors.net’s Book of the Year in the Supernatural Thriller genre, the novel also made the 2015 Kirkus Reviews Books of the Year issue. And in 2017, it received a Finalist placing in the international Book Excellence Awards competition.
     My second novel entitled, You Say Goodbye, a Beatles themed whodunit murder mystery revolving around the search for a renowned serial killer, is my first with Black Opal Books. The story prominently features a one-hit wonder ex-rock star and a little girl with cancer who's a big fan of the L.A. Lakers. The child's character was inspired by the life, and unfortunate death, of Alexandra Scott from the Alex's Lemonade foundation.

I can be found online at:
Facebook     Goodreads.com        Twitter 

Here are my personal website links: KeithSteinbaum.com and ThePoeConsequence.com

Tuesday, September 17, 2019 | By: The Write Way Cafe

Tuesday Special: Wayward Shot

JOAN HAVELANGE


by Joan Havelange
When Mabel slices her golf ball into the town cemetery. She and her best friend Violet think the worst that could happen would be a lost ball. That is until they discover a dead body, and it isn't six feet under. Mabel's golf ball lays in the middle of his forehead, it’s murder.

The ladies take it upon themselves to solve the mystery of the dead body in the graveyard. Using the information gleaned from Coffee Row, a collection of eccentric townspeople. Leads them to investigate golfers and relatives of the deceased. Their investigation frustrates a newly appointed RCMP officer, who does his best to put a stop to their interference.

But nothing stops the intrepid detectives. Not the RCMP, a stampede of cattle or even shots fired at them in the dark. They have an uncanny ability to find trouble and dead bodies. Almost getting themselves killed before solving the murders.

Amazon    Apple    Barnes & Noble    Scribd    Kobo      

24symbols    thalia.de    Smashwords    Bol.de 

Indigo Books     Angus & Robertson     Mondadoristore


Joan Havelange has been writing fiction since her early twenties, beginning with romance stories. Always a fan of mysteries, she is an avid reader and writer of cozy mysteries.

She is an accomplished actor and director of community theatre, which lends well to her writing. Joan is a world traveler and enthusiastic golfer. She lives on the prairies and has three grown children.

Twitter        Instagram



Monday, September 16, 2019 | By: The Write Way Cafe

Monday Morsels: The Bloodline Trail

...a taste of romance




THE BLOODLINE TRAIL
by Lynda Rees


CHAPTER 1


Jaiden helped Mr. Bennett chase his escaping herd of cattle through the broken fence line. “Thank goodness you brought a couple buckets of grain to entice these stubborn cows to safety.” She’d blocked the road with her cruiser at one end and placed orange cones at the other to keep traffic out of danger and ensure strays didn’t accidentally get hit.

“This ain’t my first rodeo.” The old farmer grinned pushing one errant beast toward safety.

Once the country road was free from danger, she helped guard his animals so they wouldn’t run loose again while Mr. Bennett repaired busted fence. Finally finished, he shook her hand and wiped his brow. “Whew, thanks for your help, Deputy Coldwater.”

“It’s part of the job, but you’re welcome.” Jaiden loved working as deputy to Sheriff Wyatt Gordon of Sweetwater.

She made good time driving back to town. Dusk was starting. She neared the deserted Barnes farm at the edge of town. A light flashed from a window.

Damn, those kids must be partying again.

She’d arrested one juvenile last week—the one she caught. His buddies ran faster and escaped. Jaiden dragged the boy home. His dad was pissed at his son and assigned punishment. He had to clean police station bathrooms for a week.

It tickled her seeing his dad come down on him that way. It’d serve him better than any other punishment. He wasn’t a bad kid. He arrived like clockwork after school each afternoon with sagging shoulders and head hung low.

He was making friends with other deputies. Finally he had guts to look into Jaiden’s eyes. She smiled and winked. He blushed and grinned.

She hit a button to call her office. “Sheriff Gordon here. What’s up, Jaiden?” His southern twang could charm honey out of a bear’s paws.

“Wyatt, it looks like vandals sneaked into the Barnes place again. I’m going to check it out.”


“Okay, but be careful. Keep your body camera on and radio handy. Buzz me if you need backup. I can be there in five.”

“It’s probably just kids again. They’ll run, and I’ll be home in half an hour. I’ll let you know how it goes.”

“You do that, Deputy Coldwater.” Wyatt had confidence in her ability to handle a few youngsters looking for a good time; but if he thought real danger was present, he’d come running. He was a good friend and a great boss.

Jaiden drove into a dirt drive and circled behind a house. Surprisingly a vehicle parked there. Local kids typically walked, not wanting to draw attention. They usually carried a beer cooler but were too young to legally partake. They generally partied in the back woods, but once last winter they broke into the house. It looked like they were at it again.

A close look at the vehicle indicated differently. The fancy SUV probably cost around what she made in a year. This didn’t appear to be kids.

She stepped from her cruiser wearing a body camera. Warily she approached the car shining her flashlight. Tinted windows made it difficult. Close up it was apparent no one was inside or nearby. It was locked. She paced to the house and tried the back door. It opened.

Using a firm authoritative voice she called, “Police, anyone here?” Dead silence. She called out again—same response. “I’m coming in.” Holding the door wide, she entered.

The old farmhouse kitchen had seen better days. Two years of no habitation left every surface covered with dust and cobwebs.

Making her way into the sparsely furnished dining room with no sign of life, only footprints in dust proving someone recently walked through. The living room was much the same. Furniture had been covered with sheets, and still, no one in the house.

A first-floor bedroom was also filled with sheet-covered items. Its filthy floor held an expensive, pull-behind suitcase. A tag read C. Barnes.

Huh, apparently a Barnes heir had arrived.

Jaiden made her way back through the maze of rooms. She yanked the door shut behind her. No sign of C. Barnes or anyone else. Returning to her cruiser, she activated her radio.

“Wyatt?”

“Yep, I’m here, Jaiden. How are things at the Barnes place?”

“Quiet. A fancy SUV is parked in back of the unlocked house. I found footprints and a suitcase in a bedroom with a tag for C. Barnes, whoever that is.”

“C? I suppose that’s Clay, for Clay Barnes. He must’ve returned home. Wonder if he’s in town to stay or merely settling his mama’s estate? It’s been a couple years since her funeral. Too bad he let the place deteriorate during that time.”

“Yep; the kids around here haven’t helped it any.” She climbed into the cruiser. “I didn’t find Mr. Barnes or anyone else around. Maybe he’s exploring his property. Want me to search for him?”

“No, no need. If there’s trouble, he’ll let us know. Go home and enjoy what’s left of your evening. You’re off duty now, right?”

“Sure thing, boss; see you tomorrow.” Before she finished writing notes on her stop, a tall, lanky gentleman in too-new jeans, shiny boots and a crisp, white dress shirt with sleeves rolled to elbows, strolled from the woods. His smile lit his face engaging pale blue eyes like none she’d seen before, unless photos of that sexy, old actor, Paul Newman counted.

He strode purposely toward her closed door with an arm extended—not bad looking, but not a muscular. She’d always been attracted to the brawny sort. Built more like Levi—his gangling body towered above her. She shined her flashlight his way.

Pearly-blue eyes sparkled. A perfect set of shiny, white teeth flashed a welcoming smile. His hand flipped up reflecting light.

She flicked her light off. Through approaching dusk moonlight caught moisture as he self-consciously licked what appeared soft, sensual lips.

“Howdy, Ma’am. Are you the Welcome Wagon?”

“Afraid not, I’m Deputy Coldwater.  I saw a light and figured you for a trespasser.”

### 

Dear Reader:
If you enjoyed this excerpt, get the complete story at:
https://lyndareesauthor.com/the-bloodline-trail/
Please stay in touch. I’d love to hear your feedback in a review.



by Lynda Rees
Deputy Jaiden Coldwater’s fling with Dr. Clay Barnes turns serious, but neither acknowledges it. Visiting Sweetwater to settle his parents’ estate, Clay stumbles on a murder victim; and many look suspicious. His parents aren’t who he thought and never owned their farm. Clay tries to unravel the mystery, discover who he actually is, and what he wants from life, but may lose it all in a shootout when the murderer goes after the next victim.

Amazon


📚  Find Lynda Rees here:


Website         Facebook        Twitter      

Pinterest        Bookbub          Amazon        Goodreads  

Become a VIP for FREE gifts and latest news 




Friday, September 13, 2019 | By: The Write Way Cafe
Don’t expect the puppets of your mind to become the people of your story. If they are not realities in your own mind, there is no mysterious alchemy in ink and paper that will turn wooden figures into flesh and blood.
- Leslie Gordon Barnard
Thursday, September 12, 2019 | By: The Write Way Cafe

Using Setting to Maximum Effect

The Write Way Café welcomes author Bo Kearns, who shares his thoughts on where to begin a novel, and using setting to maximum effect. 

Graham Greene is one of my favorite novelists. In most of his books, he places an expat in an exotic locale and weaves a story of intrigue around their attempts to adapt to a different culture. Some of his classics include: The Quiet American set in Vietnam, The Comedians in Haiti, The Power and the Fury in Mexico and Our Man in Havana.  He’s a master at capturing setting and the local culture. In his novels, setting is a character. 

Prior to becoming a writer, I was an international banker. I lived in countries meant to be the backdrop for a Graham Greene story. One of those countries was Indonesia with its culture of mysticism, magic and superstition, is Indonesia. And that is the setting of my novel Ashes in a Coconut

The story is set in 1983’s Jakarta, a glamorous and perilous place of corruption, mysterious curses, seductive servants, ravaged rainforests, ancient Buddhist temples, and orphaned orangutans. In the story, Manhattan fashion designer Laura Harrison sets aside her career to accompany her banker husband Jack to Indonesia. 

I struggled with where to begin the story—Manhattan or Indonesia. In my early drafts, I assumed the reader would want to know everything about the characters. Manhattan provided that introduction, but not much of a hook. So I decided to begin the story in Bali, Indonesia to bring the reader closer to the action. This also served to ground the reader in the story locale. Backstory would be introduced when the reader needed to know something about the characters pertinent to that scene, and parceled out so as not to slow the pace.   

Here’s Ashes opening line—Laura Harrison stood outside the Denpasar International Airport and fingered the beads on her necklace. Though seemingly inconsequential, that simple act introduces the protagonist, her distraction, and provides a hint of foreboding. In the heat and humidity her damp silk blouse clung to her body. In the line that follows, Laura and the reader are introduced to the tropics and its discomfort. Weather as setting can be used to establish a mood, and act as story unifier. Weather affects all characters. 

In the process of writing the book, I attended several writers’ conferences. At one I participated in a first page manuscript critique. A question asked was, “Why is she there?” That prompted me to add the sentence, The island paradise was only a stopover en route to Jakarta. There she would be beginning a new life in a place she’d never been, leaving everything behind to save her marriage. The reader knows the protagonist goal, what’s at stake and can track whether she accomplishes what she’s set out to do in the face of the inevitable obstacles along the way.  

The couple arrives at the Seminyak Kebun Resort in Bali and are welcomed by a vast manicured lawn and swaying palms. “How beautiful!” Laura said. Her spirits rose. “The perfect place for a second honeymoon.” This setting changes her mood. At the registration desk, Laura sees blossoms in a small woven palm-leaf tray and picks one up to inhale the fragrance. “It’s an offering to keep away evil spirits,” the clerk said. “Oh,” Laura replied. She set the flower down and moved away. And here setting introduces Laura to the country’s culture of superstition.   

Laura and Jack follow a bellboy to a thatched-roof bungalow fronting onto a tranquil beach. Laura walks around admiring, touching. Outside in the lush walled garden, Laura notices movement off to the side. A hammock swung though the air was perfectly still. Hugging her arms across her chest, she rushed inside. Laura is superstitious by nature. In her new environment her superstitions and premonitions rise to the surface. 

From Bali, Laura and Jack move on to Jakarta. Laura expects their new home to be like something out of a classic Bogart movie—a romantic tropical hideaway where she and Jack can be happy. Instead… Laura steps into a dark room and the smell of mildew. Green velvet drapes with yellow fringe cover the windows, an oil painting of a dour knight in armor on a white stallion gazes down from the wall. The furnishings are covered in white sheets, resembling a gathering of ghosts. By using vivid, detailed description, the reader is pulled into the scene. It feels real. The prospect of residing in a spooky house becomes one of Laura’s first obstacles. And that’s amplified when she senses someone died there. 

As Jack leaves for his first day as president of a bank, Laura waves good-bye. The servant girl appears and locks the gate, a symbol of Laura’s isolation. Reality sets in. She’s in a third world country where she’s not allowed to work, can’t speak the language and doesn’t know anyone. 

At the bank Jack confronts his own set of issues. On his first day, he learns that a borrower defaulted on a million dollar loan and the case is being tried in the court. The judge wants $30,000, a bribe, to give the bank a favorable ruling. Jack, ambitious yet naïve, finds himself confronted by corruption. That setting and the decisions he makes in confronting graft and corruption will define his character. 

Laura struggles to find something meaningful to do. She recalls the menagerie of pets she had growing up in Connecticut. She goes to the Jakarta bird market hoping to find a small bird to perch on her finger and keep her company. Instead she encounters a sordid scene. There are birds and many other caged creatures—bats, small jungle cats, pangolins and snakes. She walks around and then can’t take it anymore. On leaving, a man taps on the car window. He whispers, “Baby monkey. Come see.” Curious, Laura follows him to his stall. She’s appalled to see a baby orangutan chained to a crate. It’s for sale. Laura drops to her knees. The baby twirls Laura’s red locks in its fingers. “He thinks I’m his mother,” she says. Appalled, she flees the scene, the baby’s cries resounding in her ears. In that scene setting, Laura finds her passion—saving endangered primates and their rainforest habitat. And this advances the story. In addition, the story’s underlying theme of conservation is introduced. There have been many non-fiction books written about conservation and the environment. In Ashes I hope readers might be subtly drawn to those issues through an intriguing story with relatable, sympathetic characters. 

As shown, setting can be more than just a descriptor. Used effectively, setting can advance the story, it can be the story, it can drive the action, define and change characters, convey mood and tone, and subtly echo a theme. 




by Bo KearnsTo save her marriage, Laura Harrison accompanies her husband Jack to Indonesia where he is to take over as president of troubled bank; but when her premonitions become reality, events spin out of control.

Laura expects their new home in Jakarta to be a romantic hideaway like something out of a classic Bogart movie. Instead she walks into a house of horrors. White sheets cover Gothic furnishings, and black garments hang in the closets. It’s as if the former occupants had fled from some danger. Despite feelings of doom, Laura is determined to make things work. At the local market she’s appalled to see a baby orangutan for sale, its mother having been killer by loggers. She resolves to save the endangered primates and their rainforest habitat. As Laura attempts to grow closer to her husband, they become at odds over his shady business dealings. And when his secrets and life of lies are revealed, Laura finds herself alone and responsible for her own destiny.

Amazon        Barnes & Noble        Indiebound



"...
an intriguing page-turner."—Kirkus Reviews

“…I will warn you the writing is so good that you will be left wanting more….
I can't wait for the next book.” —The Mary Reader

“…Ashes in a Coconut weaves a tale of corruption, betrayal, and ultimately redemption that had me marveling at the resiliency of the characters to the very last page. A wonderful debut!”­­­Reyna Marder Gentin, author of Unreasonable Doubts


Bo Kearns, journalist and writer of fiction, is the author of Ashes in a Coconut, a suspense novel set in Indonesia, where he lived for three years. He is a feature writer with NorthBay biz magazine and the Sonoma Index-Tribune newspaper. His short stories have won awards—First Prize- Napa Valley writing contest, Honorable Mention-Glimmer Train Fiction Open competition, Finalist- Redwood Writers On the Edge genre competition. Other works have been published in the annual California Writers Club Literary Review, Napa Valley Writers First Press, The Red Wheelbarrow Literary Magazine and Sonoma: Stories of a Region and Its People. He is a UC Naturalist, beekeeper, avid hiker and active supporter of conservation causes. He lives in the wine country of Sonoma with his wife and rescue dog Jake. https://www.bokearns.com/

Tuesday, September 10, 2019 | By: The Write Way Cafe

Tuesday Special: Fear the Reaper

JAMI GRAY


by Jami Gray
The world didn't end in fire and explosions, instead it collapsed slowly, like falling dominoes, an intensifying panic of disease, food shortages, wild weather and collapsing economies, until what remained of humanity battles for survival in a harsh new reality.

After vowing to never again put his life on the line for another’s ambitions, Reaper, leader of  Fate’s Vultures, has earned himself a formidable reputation. Unfortunately, that reputation isn’t enough to stop an old enemy from retaliating. With bounty hunters sniffing at their heels, Reaper vows retribution and takes the Vultures to the one person no one expects—Lilith, the woman he once loved.

As leader of the Rocky Mountain territory, Lilith has paid dearly for a position that kept her secrets safe. When a looming threat draws close, every devil’s bargain she’s made falls by the wayside and she is forced to partner with the man who walked away.

With no choice but to work together against a common enemy, Lilith and Reaper need to find their way through the minefield of past betrayals and broken promises to ensure a future for those they’ve sworn to protect … before it all goes to hell.

Escape Publishing       Amazon        Amazon AUS

Barnes & Noble        iBooks        Kobo


Jami Gray is the coffee addicted, music junkie, Queen Nerd of her personal Geek Squad, Alpha Mom of the Fur Minxes, and award-winning author of the Urban Fantasy series, The Kyn Kronicles, the Paranormal Romantic Suspense series, PSY-IV Teams, and her latest Romantic Suspense series, Fate’s Vultures. She writes to soothe the voices in her head.

Hunt her down at:

Facebook Author Page       Twitter       Google+

Pinterest      Newsletter        Amazon Author Page

Goodreads


Monday, September 9, 2019 | By: The Write Way Cafe

Monday Morsels: Trusting the Wolf

...a taste of romance

TRUSTING THE WOLF
by Yvonne Rediger

I woke with a start, my heart pounding like a jackhammer. The taste of blood coated the back of my throat, a ghost of a memory. I’d killed Geoff, again.

With the sheet clenched in my fists, I struggled to get my heart rate under control. I didn’t need a mirror to tell me gold rolled over my shapeshifter eyes.

The rage, fear, and revulsion faded slowly as I came back to myself. Wearily, I rubbed my face.

This was getting old.

“Get a grip, Lottie,” I told myself irritably and flung back the covers.

Geoff was a member of my pack and used to run security with me. I never much liked him. We didn’t get along, but we could work together.

Our alphas discovered the beta wolf murdered one of our pack members and poisoned another. I didn’t know anything about it until it was too late.

How did I miss the signs pointing to his guilt? I’m a security screw up, that’s how.

The need to be outside overwhelmed me. I didn’t bother to grab a robe before leaving the bedroom.

My feet unerringly took me through the dark house. From the kitchen, I exited by the back door and stepped into the walled-in back garden. The cooler night air helped and I breathed in deep. Slowly, my blood pressure dropped, but it wasn’t enough. Usually, when I was surrounded by growing things, I could unwind. Not tonight.

In daylight, the yard was a multi-hued display. After dark, the plants released their complex scents into the still night air. Surrounded by the rich, spicy perfumes, I breathed them in again, hoping to calm down. But still it wasn’t enough.

Abruptly, I opened the outside shower door. The metal spring protested with a squawk, but I was the only one to hear it.

Even though the new moon had yet to rise, the interior was clearly defined as my wolf sight took over. The teak floor, smooth under my bare feet, felt cold. My landlord salvaged the wood from a sailboat cockpit to build it. The wooden grid allowed the water from the rainspout shower head to pass through to the drainage system and water the plants. We experienced droughts more often now on the Island, and Guy Tremblay was the plan ahead type.

A bath puff and towel hung from the row of brass hooks, but I wasn’t there to shower, at least not yet. I hug my panties and tank top from an empty hook.

At five-foot, ten inches, I carried a respectable amount of muscle. With my well-developed arms extended over my head I reached for the night sky. I bent forward and placed my hands flat on the wooden floor, and felt my hamstrings stretch. None of this naked yoga was strictly necessary, but it loosened up my limbs. I felt a consuming need to shift and burn off the nightmare hangover with a run.

As I straightened, brief bloody images flashed in my head. Geoff managed to kill and terrorize his way from Campbell River to the Cowichan Valley before we made him pay. It didn’t matter that he deserved to die, I just wished I could escape the images.

I remember every detail of Geoff’s death with excruciating clarity. The feel of his flesh as it gave way under my teeth, the hot spurt of his blood in my mouth and on my face. My anger, fear, and the taste of bile, along with the rank smell of his fur. A shiver of revulsion passed through me and made me want to puke.

Instead, I shook off the overpowering feelings, took one more deep, calming breath, and my barriers dropped.

Pure, clean power washed through me, as I open myself up to the pool of magic that resided inside my human shape. The magic cleaned and transformed my spirit as it reshaped my body. The power drove away the suffocating feelings of guilt and released my wolf.

I held a considerable amount of magic and my transformation was always swift and easy. As a result, I stood on four large wolf paws and lifted my head to shake out my sable-brown coat.

My world was sharper and more distinct in my wolf form. Images hidden by the night come in to focus. Smells were sharper, like the tang of small animals, the remnants of my neighbor’s barbeque last night, and the green smells of plants around me made my nose twitch. Each sound was crisper and clearer too. Everything was less complicated in this shape. I loved my wolf, she was my release.

With my head and shoulders I pushed the double-hinged door open, and loped across the yard. There is a gate with a loop of rope attached to the latch, but it’s fiddly. Besides, it was nothing for me to clear the six-foot stone wall, and I couldn’t wait. I wanted to run, I needed to run.

I was over the fence in a heartbeat and landed with barely a sound. My claws dug into the soft dirt and dried grass, and bit deep into the turf. I gathered my hindquarters under me and thrust forward into the night.

When I ran in my animal shape it always made me feel better. With no reservations, I gave myself over to my wolf completely.

Given the reins, she consumed me and escaped the horrible guilt the dreams always invoked. I didn’t regret killing Geoff. He brought his death onto himself. What I did regret was I never questioned his behavior. My dislike for him blinded me. I was supposed to be an impartial investigator, in any given situation. Not a great recommendation for a security supervisor, charged with keeping the pack safe.

My paws hit the soft dirt in a steady rhythm and fresh air filled my lungs.

The night creatures froze in place as I passed by. I didn’t care, I wasn’t hunting. Instead, I dropped my head, laid my ears back, and pushed myself harder. Building speed to take the next ridge, and I instinctively head for pack lands and leave my neighborhood behind.

Want to read more?


by Yvonne Rediger
There’s all kinds of dangerous...

Charlotte “Lottie” Fistbinder is cocky on the outside and guilt ridden on the inside. With the changes in the hierarchy of the Vancouver Island Clan, her shapeshifter alpha promoted her to head of security, and now the safety of the entire pack is on her shoulders. Trouble is, she’s not sure she’s fit for the job. She worked alongside a whacko and never knew it until it was almost too late. What other serious threat is she missing? So, she’s thrilled when her alpha brings in help to train her and the security team…or is she?

Zavier Koering, is intrigued by Charlotte the moment he sees her file picture. Meeting her for the first time at night in the woods, and in the flesh, is everything he’s hoped for. Especially their first kiss. She’s beautiful, feisty, and gives him as good as he gets. But he has a job to do before he can get her between the sheets. Then her pack is threatened, and all hell breaks loose.

Universal buy link


📚  Find Yvonne Rediger here: 

Website       Facebook author page        Twitter       Instagram


Friday, September 6, 2019 | By: The Write Way Cafe
You don’t start out writing good stuff. You start out writing crap and thinking it’s good stuff, and then gradually you get better at it.

That’s why I say one of the most valuable traits is persistence.

- Octavia E. Butler
Thursday, September 5, 2019 | By: The Write Way Cafe

Making the Title Count by S.P. Brown

The Write Way Café welcomes S.P. Brown, who challenges writers to look for meaningful titles in their plots and characters.

We've all seen it, those penny romance novels sitting in rows at the dollar store with titles like "My Holiday Cowboy" or "His Muscles are Strong." Their message is obvious, and their one purpose is to sell themselves. Your goal as the serious and enthusiastic writer is to avoid this obvious trap, but you also want to avoid other title traps as well. The title can be just as important as the novel itself, and obviously everyone wants to write a stellar book. The great author will shoot for a title that is so much more than a catchy phrase or an noticeable attempt to just sell their work. Simply put, the title can be intriguing and provide a huge focus of discovery for the reader. Look for that 'oh yeah!' moment when the title finally jumps out at you and the meaning comes full circle.

So how can a novelist make the title of their book count? The best novel titles are very meaningful to plot and character. And the best authors make their readers work for that special moment when the light bulb pops on and the meaning of the title is glaringly clear. And they don’t just lay it out simplistically for the reader either. They make them struggle for that payoff, which makes it sweeter when the reader finally makes the connection. And if the author has packed in a huge emotional punch, well, that’s all the better.

I hope I’ve accomplished something like this in the opening volume of The Stonehenge Chronicles. The book is titled Veiled Memory, and its title is loaded with meaning. I challenge readers to look for that meaning as they immerse themselves in plot and character.

Subtle foreshadowing is one way authors like to work in bits and clues to guide their reader to a full understanding of the title. These clues are often buried in plot and character, the two guideposts or pillars of a story. We all know what plot is. Philip K. Dick, that great science fiction author, explained it best when he said, "plot is just one damn thing after another." And character is much more than the people populating the novel, it’s who they are, inside and out, and what makes them tick for good or bad.

So look for those subtle clues if you have an inkling that the title of the work is going to be meaningful to plot and character and vice versa. And have fun in the discovery.




by S.P. Brown     When Celtic historian, Dr. Madeline Alleyn, abandoned her husband, it was to protect him and her unborn triplet daughters. Now, nearly eighteen years later, her 17 year-old girls are smart, normal, but something has never been right with Madeline. There are compulsions she doesn’t understand and secrets she’s intent on keeping from her daughters, secrets her dead father never fully divulged, secrets her mysterious mother took to the grave giving her birth.
      Now, the people Madeline is hiding from have discovered a way to unite the clans. They seek her mother’s archeological find, ten stone tablets with a story to tell of the existence of the Community, the secret origin of Stonehenge, and of quantum sorcery. But the secret community is divided, and the most dangerous among them think the time is ripe for showing themselves to an unsuspecting humanity. They must conquer. The prophecy of Tarkus demands it.
      Madeline is desperate to keep her children hidden. She knows the prophecy from the night her husband revealed his true nature to her. But time is running out. Will she be able to find her mother’s hidden artifacts before her enemies discover that her children are the key to world conquest?

Amazon        Black Opal Books       Smashwords
 

S.P. Brown has been reading and writing from a very early age. He blames this on his addiction to all those great characters produced by Marvel Comics. Inevitably, this led to a passion for fantasy/sci-fi novels, which led to his first book, Phoebe Alleyn and the Quantum Sorcerer. A professor and father of three daughters, Brown lives with his wife in Starkville, Mississippi, where he is hard at work creating new mythologies for children and adults.

Website        Facebook       Twitter



Tuesday, September 3, 2019 | By: The Write Way Cafe

Tuesday Special: Can't Outrun Destiny

PATRICIA ANTONE



by Patricia  Antone
Duncanne Collinne MacKay sneaks out with the idea of seeing the fabled rune stones on her family’s property. Descended from Druids, she doesn’t believe the superstitious stories heard since childhood.  Confronted by a cousin, she insists she is going with or without him, sneaking out via an old hidden passage.

Evan, who believing the old stories true, goes strictly to keep her out of trouble. They are stunned to encounter trespassers. Trespassers, while bent on murder, also look like they stepped from the old paintings on the keep’s walls, swords and all.

Tucked away in her memory of that night is the drool worthy man in a kilt who rescues them. After warning her to stay away from the runes, Gavin Leod promises to protect her with his life. He then leaves her with the gift of a ring. The Moonstone, set in silver, says she is under his protection. The ring’s swirling stone heightens her gifts. The same gifts she keeps tucked away in denial.

Murders have her banned from visiting Scotland after that night by her family. If there is a full moon scheduled, her visit is not. As the last of the MacKay Clan, Duncanne is dragged back due to the need of settling family affairs. The job is unfortunately hers by default. Everyone else has passed and not by natural causes. More like well executed accidents, on full moons.

Unknown to Duncanne, this visit to Scotland will start a collision course that has been gearing for centuries. The Sleeping Warrior has a duty, and that duty will be fulfilled.

On his patrol, Gavin spots a woman running and the enemy searching for her. He intercepts the woman, discovering she is his thought to be lost ward.

Duncanne Collinne MacKay tried to outrun her destiny. Now she will not only carry a big sword to meet it, she will use the fabled power her family passed down to save her line.

(For the reader to note : Violence; Attempted Assault; Physical Abuse; Archaic Rules; Medieval to Modern Setting)

Amazon        Barnes & Noble       Kobo        Angus & Robertson


About Patricia Antone:  A life long resident of Central New York, I am a mom of two, who with my husband, is learning to empty nest. Then again, it isn’t quite empty with Zeus (AKA No No Bad Dog) and his newly adopted sister Toni (AKA The Town Crier) still at home to stir things up.
     When not hanging out with the hubby and fur kids on the patio, or enjoying my garden, I can be found scribbling into a notebook with a new idea I can’t wait to share.
     Recently, I helped found The Wandering Wordsmiths. A group of local authors, who as a group, travel together to celebrate reading. While we hang out with our readers, we toss all those ideas about to keep the words flowing to the pages.
     Hope we get to see you at one of our appearances!

Facebook        




 
Monday, September 2, 2019 | By: The Write Way Cafe

Monday Morsels: Touch of Breeze, The Common Elements Project

...a touch of romance



TOUCH OF BREEZE
by Lynn Crandall


Chapter One
            London Satos shivered on her home’s front porch in the October chill, but she welcomed the cold. It calmed her nerves. She stared out into the clear night sky and wrapped her arms across her chest.
            “Lincoln, where are you?” Her voice hitched. She couldn’t help it. She had bodies to prepare at her mortuary and families to console, but all she could do was think, and all her thoughts raced in circles repeating one question: Linc, are you alive? All her life she and her twin brother had shared an intuitive knowing of each other’s thoughts, but now when it would mean so much, she couldn’t reach his.
            Wind blew strands of hair across her face, and as she brushed them away, a charge of electricity snapped.
            Little hairs on the back of her neck stood on end as the air crickled and cracked. Torn between shifting into jaguar form and staying in human form, London just stood still, waiting. Parts of her wanted to run or hide. The strongest part of her wanted to face the danger and demand Lincoln’s return. A sob stuck her throat. He couldn’t be dead.
            Maybe she was mistaken, spooked. Maybe the hunters weren’t coming.
            Leaves rustled and scuttled across her yard in a gust. A low thunderous rumble sounded in the distance and clouds rolled in dark swirls in the sky above the open field behind her cabin. Lightning flashed inside the cluster of clouds. Blam, blam, blam!
            She ran inside her cabin and peered out the large window. Lightening flickered in rapid succession across the reflection of her face in the glass. The lightning storm was magnificent and beautiful but so full of malice. It advanced on her property. It was just like the one she had seen four days ago when they’d captured her brother. She knew its appearance now was no coincidence. The hunters were coming for her. A rare white jaguar just like her twin, she was a prize to Wentworth’s Crew, as the hunters were known among the Jag Council. Headed by Max Wentworth, the elite hunters were intent on adding to his collection of shifters and had already left an untraceable trail of missing persons and dead bodies. Now she knew why they’d been so hard for the supernatural community to find. They traveled by thunderclouds.
            London focused inward, deep inside her chest to where her connection to her second identity was always with her. She closed her eyes and allowed the transformation to shiver through her. In less than a minute, her hips and torso, her legs, arms, and shoulders slid in one smooth tremble into her innate animal. Through her cat eyes she saw the lightning storm slither closer, heard the thunder break near her porch, and felt the electricity firing in the air. Oh yes, the Crew was here for her. She clenched her teeth. But they would not capture her, not today. Getting captured would not help Linc at all.
            She stood in place, reaching out with all her senses for her brother. Nothing. Maybe the electric storm blocked their connection to each other. Damn it. She heard, but didn’t wait to see, the hunters appearing on her property below their evil ship in the sky. London ran down the stairs to her basement and butted her head against the hidden escape wall. It flew up and she slipped in to the tunnel before the trap door closed behind her. She waited to hear the thud of the lock.
The hard dirt floor was dry and solid against her paws. The scent of it filled her nostrils, and she breathed deeply as she trotted through the winding tunnel. When she reached the hidden door at the other end, she strode through the opening out beyond her cabin, her yard, and into the surrounding woods. Among the trees, she crawled under a row of bushes, ducking her head to peek through the low-hanging branches. She gulped hard at the sight of hunters scanning her property, assault weapons at the ready. Geez, if they came for a lone female jag loaded for a fight, did they think she was a monster? Were they expecting, an entire prowl of jaguars?
The lightning storm blotted out the full moon and stars, but her keen night vision had no problem seeing the men in the darkness. She counted them: one, two, three, four. Then another four rounded the cabin from the back. Eight men all hell bent on either eliminating her or making her their living trophy. They motioned to one another in silence as they tramped around the property and entered the cabin through the side door.
            Now was her chance to get a better look. She crept low out of her hiding place and toward the localized storm hanging in the sky until she crouched almost beneath it. Winds and lightning inside the clouds buffeted her about and she flattened into the grass. Linc, are you in there?
Her ears cocked for sounds of the hunters’ return, London opened her mind. Linc?
She held her focus tight and didn’t breathe. Linc. Are you okay? Where are you?
She released a breath. Drat. Nothing.
Footsteps grew closer and one man walked through the front door. She scrambled back to cover.
“She’s not here,” hollered the man on the porch. “Max, what do you want to do?”
“Her scent is everywhere.”
London’s ears perked. He could pick up a scent? Curious. The man’s voice coming from inside sounded like he’d been a smoker since he was eleven. She heard him perfectly. She ran her tongue over her mouth, eager to get a look at Max’s face. He strode out the door, his gaze narrowing. She shuddered. The left side of his face bore shiny, raised stripes and his left eyelid drooped. Clearly, at least one of his prey had gotten the upper hand.
“Tarsus, Faron, take the others outside,” he ordered. “I’m going to look inside a little more. See if I can find clues of places we might find her.”
“You’re the boss, Max. Let’s go guys. We can check the trees.”
            Her nerves jolted her to run. She sliced through underbrush on the other side of her yard and scaled a tree. Her pale gray-spotted white fur didn’t blend as well as a dark jaguar’s, but the dense forest hid her well enough in the treetops. If her pulse pounding in her ears would stop, maybe her brain would calm and her fears would subside. But images flashed in her mind of Linc fighting the nets the hunters had dropped over him, and how the more he fought the more it entangled him. His frantic growls still pierced her heart. Guilt gnawed at her insides for following his demand she stay hidden while he tried to draw the hunters away from her. It was her job to take care of him, not the other way around. She had watched them stun him and disappear into the lightning storm with him.
            From her perch, London held her breath and watched the men search the ground beneath her for tracks.
            “The dirt is too dry,” called one of the men. “There’s no tracks, no sign of her anywhere.”
            The men retreated and filed toward her cabin. Their scent was in her nose. Human. But it was an easy guess that their boss was a were-jag. She extended her claws. A traitor to his own kind. She heard the men exit her cabin but couldn’t see them. For hunters, they were awfully noisy.
            “Let’s get back to home base, men.” Max circled his arm above his head. He held some of London’s photographs and what looked like her daily planner.
            Damn him, stealing parts of my life. Her planner was old-school, but when it came to managing her life, a cellphone, a desk calendar, and wall calendars in every room helped her stay on top of things. Linc teased that she was obsessive, but her system worked for her and helped keep anxiety at bay. She huffed. Her planner would tell Max where she had been and where she would be.
            London climbed out of the tree and strode closer to the edge of the forest, then scrambled up another tree to get a better view of the men. The men stood en mass beneath the storm and in synchrony pressed a button on their belts. Instantly, they all disappeared.
            Like a dirigible, the storm slowly trolled across the sky into the night.
            London sat still in the tree, her heart hammering. How had they found her? The cabin had belonged to her grandparents, then it had passed to her parents and still had their names—Hisao and Akira Sato—on the deed. The world of were-jags was carefully guarded, and all were-jags knew the harsh penalties for exposing their kinds’ existence: life-long solitary imprisonment in a secret location. That they had found her meant another werejag had talked. But who?
            Oh God. Of course. Max had tortured Linc to get information. And here she sat cowering in a tree. She wanted to puke. Her muscles bunched, and she burned to race after the men but it was too late. Sounds of the Wisconsin autumn night—mice scratching around on the forest floor, raccoons splashing in a nearby creek, coyotes yipping in the distance—clued her the danger had left. She jumped to the ground and made her way to the secret passage.
            Inside she arched her head to the ceiling and roared. Anger and frustration streamed from her throat. Her cabin was in complete disarray, an indication the hunters had ripped through her belongings. Wasn’t one predator, the Oni, the evil spirit that had haunted her family for generations, enough for one Japanese American family?
She shifted back into her human form and closed all the blinds in the living room. It was a flimsy attempt to protect herself from what might be lurking outside, but it helped calm the turmoil in her gut. In her bedroom London’s shoulder’s drooped. Her drawers stood open, her bedding lay on the floor, and boxes in her closet sat opened and empty. She dropped to the floor and breathed in and out deliberately, trying to keep herself from screaming, from falling into a panic attack, or breaking something in rage. Her brother’s human face, contorted with fear and pain just before he shifted to fight off the hunters, filled her mind. She pounded the carpeting, helpless agony washing over her. “This can’t be happening.”
She didn’t want to look at the remaining photo on the wall of the two of them, but it pulled her attention. Their faces were all smiles and laughter. Good times. Would she ever see Linc again?
Fear bloomed in her chest and she had to get up, move around, get away. She couldn’t simply sit on the floor and cry. She searched for her cellphone. If the hunters had stolen it they would learn so much about her. Panic sent her running to the living room and the bookshelf where she always stuffed her phone before she shifted. Books had been pulled off and left in piles on the floor. The iron box filled with small rocks she and Linc had collected as children sat in its place, but she didn’t breathe a sigh of relief until her fingers touched her phone hidden behind it. “Oh, thank God.”
Trembling, she held it close. She had to get a grip, but all she could do was stare at the mess, her eyes following the slow movement of pages of one book atop a pile of her favorite thick, classic hardback books. The pages flipped slowly, one after another.
Her pulse pounded. She focused her mind. “Linc, is that you?”
The pages flipped faster, furiously, until finally the entire book moved eractically and danced to the floor.
“It’s you, I know it is. Where are you? Tell me something,” she begged. She perched on her knees waiting for something more concrete from Linc. A visual, maybe, of his location.  Her legs started to ache, but she didn’t move, hope burning in her chest.
Finally, she gave up, her brain exhausted. Her cellphone told her it was nine o’clock. How could she sleep in her ransacked home?
She pulled on a pair of jeans, a dark T-shirt, and a pair of running shoes. The two-mile run to her mortuary would give her body something to do besides stew. Maybe she’d even find a way to tell her parents that Linc had been kidnapped. She wouldn’t tell them she suspected he’d been tortured.

Want to read more?
by Lynn Crandall w/a Kelynn Storm
A rare white were-jaguar, she’s on a mission to save her twin brother from certain death. She didn’t plan on  teaming up with a Jag Guardian who would just as soon break her heart.

Mortician London Satos works with the dead by choice. Using her were-jaguar ability to witness their final moments, she helps them pass over in peace. Those special moments contrast greatly with the life she leads haunted by an ancient Japanese spirit with revenge on his mind. On top of that, her twin brother is missing. Just when she thinks she has enough on her hands, Breeze Dawson stumbles into her path and runs into the evil spirit. Feeling responsible, she thinks she must help him survive the evil spirit, but it doesn’t stop there. She is forced to team up with Breeze to rescue her brother from an evil madman intent on using him to fulfill a diabolical prophesy.

Recently suspended from his job as a Jag Guardian, were-jaguar Breeze finds himself looking for anything to distract him from his troubled life. So when the beautifully captivating mortician needs help fighting battles on several fronts, he becomes embroiled in a murderous plot that not only threatens his Guardian team but the supernatural community in general. Together, Breeze and London race to locate the madman’s stronghold where he has imprisoned London’s brother, all the while fighting mutual attraction that will only complicate everything.


Releasing Oct. 8! Available for preorder now at 99 cents on Amazon and other Retailers where you buy your books. 


📚  Find Lynn Crandall w/a Kelynn Storm here:
  Website      Facebook       Pinterest       Goodreads       Twitter      Instagram