Sunday, August 28, 2011

Markan Throne by Nicholas A. Rose


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Epic Fantasy

Two rival claimants to the empty Markan Throne meet in battle. When Marcus Vintner defeats his cousin Branad, it seems the matter is settled. But Marcus is implicated in a murder and his claim to the throne is suspended.

Zenepha, an intelligent and literate sylph, is plunged into the depths of Markan politics when he is thrust, unwillingly, onto the throne.

Hingast, a third claimant, is also traveling to Marka, determined to press his claim and prepared to use force to get his way.

Marcus must prove his innocence before it is too late and the throne again falls into abeyance.

Amazon/Kindle




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Nicholas A. Rose has been an avid reader for most of his life and a writer for almost as long. He is the author of the ilvenworld novels and novellas.

He enjoys anything to do with the sea, the outdoors and mountains, all of which he finds inspirational, and the rather more sedentary pastimes of chess, photography, real ale, reading and, of course, writing.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Lia Fairchild: The IAN Interview



Born and raised in Southern Californian, I love reading, writing, movies, and anything else related to the arts. Writing is something I’ve thought about my whole life, so the completion of her first novel, In Search of Lucy, is truly satisfying. I have a B.A. degree in Journalism and a Multiple Subject Teaching Credential. My most enjoyable moments are spent with my family, traveling, spending time outdoors, or simply laughing and being together. Our long-time tradition is family movie night where we sit on the floor, eat dinner and watch a movie. You can find out more about “In Search of Lucy” including sample chapters and reviews at http://www.liafairchild.com or follow me on Twitter at https://www.twitter.com/#!/liafairchild


IAN. Please tell us about In Search of Lucy

LF. For fans of Nicholas Sparks, King of read em and weep, this emotional tale will appeal to anyone that has ever experienced love, loss, and friendship.

Thirty-year-old Lucy Lang’s in freefall. Unfulfilled at work and abandoned by both her alcoholic mother and the sister she helped to raise, she's become cynical and depressed. Then, just as romance strikes, she finds out her sister needs a kidney transplant and only Lucy can help. Bolstered by new found friends, Lucy sets out on a road trip to save her sister's life and in the process, makes discoveries about the kind of person she truly is.

This romantic drama will pull you into the world of its heroine and inspire you to see the true power of human relationships.

IAN. How long did it take to write the book?

LF. It took less than a year to write In Search of Lucy. I think it was about 10 months, so it was kind of like my little baby.

IAN. What inspired you to write the book?

L.F. I’ve always loved creativity and always wanted to create something big and lasting. That feeling intensified when I started having children. I guess that’s what happens when you see your replacement. I had been trying to find my place in a career and made two major career changes, but I still wasn’t content in what I was doing. It dawned on me that I needed to put all of the ideas running through my head to good use. When I finally made the commitment and the idea of In Search of Lucy came to me, I felt such a drive to write the story. The most important thing to me was that I didn’t give up and I saw the project through to completion.

IAN. Talk about the writing process. Do you write at night or in the morning?

LF. During the school year, I’m a substitute teacher. On days that I’m not working, I write while the kids are in school. It helps to have a nice quiet house. Once I got the book out there, I soon discovered I had a lot to learn about marketing and the process of getting your book to the public. Now, I struggle to fit everything in; family, marketing, writing, living.

IAN. Did you use an outline or do you just wing the first draft?

LF. I didn’t need an outline because the whole idea came to me at once. I already knew exactly where the story was going to go. The one thing I did do was keep a chapter log as I went. It basically summarized in a sentence or two what the chapter was about. This helped me to make sure the flow of the book was right and that it kept a nice pace.

IAN. How is In Search of Lucy different from others in your genre?

LF. One of the reviews I received said they liked that my main character was not a perfect heroin. Lucy has flaws, but she is trying to overcome most of them. I think another reason my book is different is the story line is a unique one. The idea that someone may not want to live their life any longer but suddenly has no choice to save a loved one is interesting to me. I think readers will agree.

IAN. Is your book published in print, e-book or both?

LF. You can get In Search of Lucy in print or as an e-book and is available on several sites, including Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Smashwords.

IAN. What do you hope your readers come away with after reading In Search of Lucy?

LF.I hope readers will simply enjoy the story. I want them to feel that they’ve really got to know some interesting characters. I hope that they will see how important the relationships in our life are and how they affect our perception of own identity.

IAN. Where can we go to buy the book?

LF. Amazon US

Amazon UK

Barnes and Noble

Smashwords

IAN. Tell us about your next book or a work in progress. Is it a sequel or a stand alone? http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/66116 and Feedbooks

LF.I just released two short stories. The first is a romance called Special Delivery and is about a widow that wins free flowers every month for a year. It’s been on the Amazon Kindle Indie book “Hot New Release” list for a few weeks now and has been downloaded more than 18,000 times. You can get it now for just .99 cents http://amzn.to/nAjQGh


At the opposite end of the genre spectrum, I released A Hint of Murder: The Writer. This is the first in the new murder mystery series A Hint of Murder. In The Writer, a killer recreates the murders from a bestselling author’s novels. Just two weeks out and it already received a 5 star review on Amazon which includes these thoughts from the reviewer: “I haven't read that many short stories I was willing to review, but I have to say that I was impressed with this one. Fairchild achieved what is not often accomplished in short stories.” Available now for just $1.99
http://amzn.to/pW5oB0

IAN. Any other links or info you'd like to share?

You can find me on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/lia.fairchild.author

Watch the trailer for In Search of Lucy at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wvp7vItINng


In Search of Lucy by Lia Fairchild
292 pages Drama, Romance

Kyle had a black Toyota Four Runner and was parked just outside the club. As he opened her door in the full gentleman role, she felt a hint of hesitation. These were the situations that parents warned you were dangerous. Lucy knew that, but was in the mood to take chances. She got in and while Kyle walked around to the driver’s side, she took a quick look in the mirror. She felt a twinge of excitement as he rounded the back end of the car and opened his door.

In the car, there was a brief moment of awkward silence until he began to search for music. He pressed number three on the CD player. “You like Green Day?” he said looking straight ahead.

“Sure.”

“I remember now…you never did talk that much in school.” He chuckled.

That was an unsettling statement to respond to. She didn’t want to just start rambling like an idiot to prove him wrong, or keep sitting there like some wallflower. The pressure of the silent seconds ticking in her head caused a sudden, yet casual, “Sor-freakin-ry.”

Taken by total surprise he burst out laughing. “Well I didn’t expect that.” He put a hand on her knee. “I’m the one who’s sorry,” he said. “Listen, I’m supposed to meet some friends for a get together. Do you want to go? It’s just a few people for drinks and it’s not too far from here.”

“Sure, why not,” she replied surprising herself.

“I just need to stop by the store. I always hate walking in empty handed.”

Now at JPs Market, Lucy waited in the car while Kyle ran in to grab some wine for the party. Sitting there, Lucy suddenly began to feel that this was a big mistake. Her fight or flight was kicking in and she thought the latter would be a much better option. She wondered why she had agreed to go with him. But, she knew why. Did she really think she could make it through a party being nice and polite to total strangers; enough for Kyle to like her and want to spend the night with her? Was she even sure that was what she wanted? The anxiety was rising in her and she was starting to lose the buzz she earned earlier in the evening.

Nervously, Lucy looked at her phone, then out into the store window. She glanced around all the angles of the car to see who was around. For a second she almost opened the door to get out and leave. In the back seat she noticed a small bag that looked like it was for toiletries. She grabbed it and began to rummage through it. It seemed to hold the usual stuff: mini toothpaste, floss, shampoo. Then she saw a prescription bottle. She yanked out the bottle and turned until she saw what it was; Vicoden.

Looking up she noticed that Kyle was not at the cash register yet. What was she considering here? What would he think of her if he found out? At this point she didn’t really care. Besides, he wouldn’t miss a few and it’s always good to have a few pain killers around for emergency. Not to mention the fact that she needed to ease her current tensions. Popping open the bottle, she poured four pills into her hand. Holding them tightly in her hand, she replaced the cap and put the bottle back in the bag. She opened her purse and pulled out her wallet. On the side there was a zipper which she opened and tried to pour the pills in. To her dismay, only one pill fell in and the other three dropped between her legs. She looked up in a panic to see where Kyle was and found him paying at the counter. Now she really felt idiotic. She dug down and pulled one out and dropped it in the wallet. Two more she thought. Kyle grabbed his change and headed back to the car as Lucy dropped her wallet in her purse and set it on the floor.

“Hey,” he said as he slid in the car. He reached in the bag, pulled out a candy bar and handed it to her. “Here, I got you a treat,” he said smiling.

Lucy took the chocolate and replied, “Oh…thanks.” She couldn’t decide if that was strange or sweet, but she was leaning more towards sweet.

Kyle set the bag on the back seat next to the little black bag.

Lucy smiled, trying to act casual, and put her hands between her thighs as if she was cold, which actually she did feel a little chill. In the dark he wouldn’t notice her looking for the pills so she began feeling around.

“Oh, I’ll turn the heater on for you,” he said.

“Thanks,” she said still running her fingers around. Then, she felt them in the crease of the seat. “Mind if I have a sip of your water?” She gestured to a bottle with her head.

“Sure, but it’s been there a few hours.”

“That’s okay. My throat is really dry.” She turned her head to look out her window, popped the two of them in her mouth and took a long drink from the bottle. “Thanks.”

“No problem.” He smiled but kept his eyes on the road.

Ten minutes later they arrived at a two-story home in a family-style neighborhood. Kyle grabbed the bag, got out of the car and started to walk around to her side intending to open her door. Before he got there she was already opening the door to get out. The cool breeze felt exhilarating on her skin and flying through her hair. She froze for a brief moment to enjoy it and then her expression faded.

IAN Member page

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Larry Enright is the Author of Four Years From Home and A King in a Court of Fools


Larry Enright (1949- ) was born to Irish Catholic firstgeneration immigrants and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. After college, he moved to the Philadelphia area where for the past 40 years he has filled his life with many careers including teacher, musician, computer programmer, researcher, and writer. He has written three novels. "Four Years from Home" (2010) is his first published work.



His Books:


Four Years From Home


Tom Ryan — firstborn of five children in a large, Irish Catholic family, smart and acerbic, a cheat and a bully — calls himself the future king of the Ryans. There are other opinions. His mother calls him a holy terror. Mrs. Ioli calls the police on him. His father says that had Trouble been a saint, that would have been Tom's middle name. But his parents, neighbors, peers, and siblings all must bow down before him or suffer the consequences. Just ask the Christmas turkey leftovers he buried in the side yard.

Harry, the youngest Ryan, was the shining star of the family. Bright, sensitive, and caring, he was protected by parental radar, called by God and Grandma Ryan to the priesthood, and was in Tom's eyes, a brown
nosing little punk who had become a threat to his kingdom and the primary target of his search and destroy missions.

Then Harry changed. He abandoned his vocation and quit the church, and when he left for college, he left for good. He never called. He rarely wrote. His picture disappeared from the mantle. It was as if he had ceased to exist and his shining star had been but a passing comet. The enemy had retreated and Tom's war was over.

"Four Years from Home" begins on Christmas 1972 during Harry's senior year at college. The Ryan family has gathered without Harry for another bittersweet holiday celebration. When an unexpected and unwelcome gift arrives, the family demands answers and Tom Ryan, bully cum laude, must make a reluctant journey of discovery and self
discovery into a mystery that can only end in tragedy.

Written by the son of Irish Catholic immigrants, "Four Years from Home" redefines brotherly love in the darkly humorous and often poignant actions of its principal skeptic, Tom Ryan.

A King in a Court of Fools

First published as a free, serialized novel and soon to be available in paperback and e-book, A King in a Court of Fools by H. Ryan is the adventures of the anti-hero from Four Years from Home, Tom Ryan, as told by his brother Harry. Set in the 1950s, A King... is a nostalgic story of friendship, love, rivalry, and growing up. Suitable for ages 12 to infinity and beyond.

Amazon.com

Barnes&Noble.com

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Avid Reader's Cafe: Great Reads In Store

Looking for something different in your next book?

Independently published books offer reading experiences not found in mainstream publishing. Mainstream publishers only release books they believe will make them money.

Independent publishers work with authors who bring a unique voice to literature. Self-published authors don’t have agents and editors telling them what they can and cannot write. Self-published books have one limitation, the human imagination.

You will find mainstream published ebooks selling for Kindle and NOOK at $9.99 or more. Independently published books retail from 99 cents for these same eBook readers.

Open your reading world to independently published books and discover endless possibilities.

The Avid Reader’s Café features the best in indie and self published books. All titles are available in eBook format (Kindle/Nook) and most are print published.

All genres of fiction and non-fiction will be represented. Fifty to sixty books are featured here and the titles will change frequently.

Leave your thoughts at the Comments page or sign up for the Newsletter for a chance to win Starbucks and Amazon cards. Prizes awarded monthly.

The Avid Reader’s Café Great reads in store!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Surviving the Fall by William Potter (Sample Sunday)



Chapter I

DECEMBER 26


James Goodal jarred the oversized revolver from a dying man's hand and then tossed the weapon across his living room. Even in the after-midnight darkness, he could see blood, soaking red the beige carpet near his feet. The man no longer stirred so James averted his gaze to the top of the staircase and to his surprise, he couldn't see or hear her.

"Ashley," he called.

No answer.

"ASHLEY!" he yelled as loud as his voice would allow.

Still no answer.

Fear held James in place; fear of what he would find if he ascended to the second floor of his home. He thought he heard a faint, weak whisper calling to him. A shiver went through him, and he knew he had to move.

He stepped over the body and charged up the stairs for the second floor, and after an instant, he found her a few feet from her bedroom.

"Oh god, Ashley, no!" The teenager had both of her hands clutching her left thigh a few inches below her crotch. Blood was seeping between her fingers. James knew that if the bullet had cut the main artery in the leg she could bleed out.

His mind was adrift in panic, searching for what he should do. Then it slammed into his brain. "I'll call an ambulance." He jogged for the phone next to his bed and quickly dialled 911.

"Ambulance!" he blurted when the operator asked for his emergency.

"My roommate was shot in the leg. It's bleeding badly!"

While sprinting back to where Ashley lay, he pulled off his pajama top and placed it on Ashley's leg.

"Apply pressure!" the operator said.

"I am!" He kneeled next to Ashley with one hand on his portable phone and the other holding the shirt to the wound.

"Is she breathing?"

"Yeah, she's looking right at me." The horror in Ashley's eyes sunk into him and panged his heart. He had never in his life felt so worried for another human and so utterly useless to help.

"The ambulance is just a few minutes away, sir," the operator said.

Then the operator began asking about how Ashley was shot, about the kind of firearm, and who fired it.

"Is the shooter still in the house, Mr. Goodal?"

"Yes, I think he's dead."

"Dead, sir?"

"Yes, I killed him."

James set the phone aside and took Ashley's hand in his. "It's okay, Ashley. They're coming. Just hold on, sweetie. Hold on."

"I love—you—James," Ashley said almost silently, and then her body wilted and her eyes rolled back and closed.

"ASHLEY, No!"


Smashwords.com


Amazon/Kindle

B&N NOOK

Apple/iBook Store

Friday, August 12, 2011

Lisa Vaughn: The IAN Interview


I'm a self-proclaimed hippie chick that enjoys living easy with my husband and four cats. As an artist, I'm always looking for a creative outlet to express myself, 'The Gifted Ones' is my latest creation in self-expression. "I'm just a chick with a story...everyone has one, this just happens to be mine."



IAN. Please tell us about The Gifted Ones.
LV.The Gifted Ones is my journey, my coming-of-age story, with a huge twist. Set in the 1970's-1980's, in a small midwest town, where dreaming was meant for sleeping and minds were closed as tightly as the closets.
Through a chance meeting of a classmate, I suddenly found myself on a path I had no idea even existed, much to the dismay of my very Catholic family. My story covers six years of self-discovery...my struggles, my euphoria, my love, my loss, and everything in between! It's raw, honest, and frank. I'm out to get the message across that everyone has the right to love. Plain and simple.

IAN. How long did it take to write the book?
LV. The rough draft (very rough) took less than two weeks! But it would take two years before I was ready to publish-both mentally and physically!

IAN. What inspired you to write The Gifted Ones?
LV. Actually it took the death of my mother in 2005. I noticed I still held a lot of pent-up anger towards her (and others), so through intense self-discovery (and a lot of beach walks) I started to put the pieces together-the how and why's of it all. But not until I put the story, that I held secret in my head for 30+ years, down in black and white, did I make the connections that released me. Through my writing I was able to finally put it all into perspective, to forgive and move on...for good!

IAN. Talk about the writing process. Do you write at night or in the morning?
LV. Once I started, I couldn't stop! My 'purging' ruled my world, so I wrote every minute I could, most days into the wee hours of the night-sleeping, eating, socializing, and living took a back seat!

IAN. Did you use an outline or do you just wing the first draft?
LV. I let my memory and my need to purge flow through my fingers...if I remembered it, felt it, I wrote it.

IAN. How is The Gifted Ones different from other memoirs?
LV. Like I say, everyone has a story, especially when it comes to the infamous 'coming of age' tale, but in mine there is a twist that not everyone has to deal with. I'm raw, honest and out to get my message of acceptance to the world. It's different, but at the same time it speaks to everyone.

IAN. Is The Gifted Ones published in print, e-book or both?
LV. You can get The Gifted Ones in print through Amazon or Createspace. All ebook versions are on Smashwords, and Amazon carries the Kindle version too.

IAN. What do you hope your readers come away with after reading your book?
LV. My main message, especially to parents of teens, is ACCEPTANCE! It's the one thing we all have in common - we all want to be accepted. If we don't get that, especially from our own family, it changes who we are.

IAN. Where can we go to buy your book?
LV. Amazon.com (print & kindle version)
Smashwords.com (all ebook versions)
Createspace:
www.createspace.com/3538123 (print only)

IAN. Tell us about your next book or a work in progress. Is it a sequel or a stand alone?
LV. I never say never...there might be a sequel or perhaps another 'life lesson' still in my head. I'll cross that bridge when I feel it needs to get out of my head! As of now though, just concentrating on getting my message (and book) out there.

IAN. Any other links or info you'd like to share?
LV.
www.thegiftedonesmemoir.blogspot.com - for all info & teasers!



The Gifted Ones by Lisa Vaughn
281 pages
Memoir

From Chapter 5: 'THE Year'

The topic soon turned towards me, as I complained of feeling like I had a fever. Maybe I was coming down with something - our faces just inches apart. Selina leaned toward me, her movements slow and smooth, as she quietly asked if I knew the only true way to test someone's body temperature? I swallowed hard while she continued to explain. “A true reading of a fever could only be felt by putting your lips on the person's forehead”, she said. I stared at her with wonder and fright, as a strange feeling washed over me. Something was different. I noticed her whole demeanor had changed. Was she about to play a joke on me, or was she being serious? Something crucial was about to happen, I could sense it. I instinctively laid there, my breathing becoming shallow, as I quietly waited. She leaned towards me, proceeding to do what she had just described. Surprisingly, I felt her thin lips pressing onto my forehead. Time literally stood still. There were no outside noises, no outside thoughts, no outside world. Hell, I don't even think I was breathing at this point, but I was certain my pounding heart was loud enough to blow our cover. It was just her and I, in a cold barn, with her lips on my forehead. My eyeballs as big as plates by then, I'm sure. Slowly, she moved down the bridge of my nose, her lips touching me in small, even increments. A lifetime seemed to have passed before I felt her lips touch mine. A dizziness swept over me as my world fell even more silent. My “fever” taking on a whole new meaning.

There we were. My best friend, my idol, my mentor - with our lips pressed together! We stayed in that position for what seemed like forever, neither of us making a sound. Each carefully calculating the other's next move. I surprisingly didn't have the urge to move, get upset, or even put a stop to what was happening. Maybe this was the moment I had been waiting for, but didn't know it? It just felt right to me. Perhaps she was testing me? I certainly didn't want to fail. Instead of freaking out, I surprisingly kissed back, and she instinctively followed my signal. Our fate was being sealed, yet we had no clue of the monstrosity of this moment....



Monday, August 8, 2011

Meg Mims:The IAN Interview

Author Meg Mims celebrates the release of
Double Crossing. August 9/2011 (Historical Western Romantic Suspense)









IAN: Good morning Meg. Please tell us about Double Crossing.

MM. A murder arranged as a suicide … a missing deed … and a bereft daughter whose sheltered world is shattered.

August, 1869: Lily Granville is stunned by her father’s murder. The police believe it was a suicide but she knows the truth. Guilt plagues her, since she argued bitterly with her father about the family lawyer’s loyalty. And only that lawyer knew her father had possession of a valuable California gold mine deed—a deed vital to fight a court battle against another claimant in California. Now the deed and the lawyer are missing.

Determined to track her father’s killer and join her uncle in Sacramento to fight the court case, Lily heads west on the newly opened transcontinental railroad. After her baggage is ransacked in her Omaha hotel room, she realizes she is no longer the hunter but the prey. It seems her father’s killer believes she is taking the deed west to Sacramento. And as things progress from bad to worse, Lily is uncertain who to trust—the China-bound missionary who wants to marry her, or the wandering Texan who offers to protect her … for a price.

Danger, intrigue and a second murder turn this adventure west into true peril. Will Lily survive the journey and unexpected betrayal?

IAN. How long did it take to write the book?

MM. I wrote Double Crossing’s first draft one summer, and then revisited it several years later after earning my MA in Writing Popular Fiction at Seton Hill University. By that time, I’d learned exactly what I needed to do for revisions – adding more plot twists and characters’ emotions. I knew it was pretty solid after that.

IAN. What inspired you to write Double Crossing?

MM. The 1969 movie True Grit originally inspired me long ago. While researching another book, I came across the history of the 1869 transcontinental railroad, and decided to use the “Iron Horse” to twist the premise of a girl’s father being murdered and how she would act to track the killer. The Coen brothers’ version that came out last year helped me to realize that westerns are still quite popular and give a unique flavor to the historical genre.

IAN. Talk about the writing process. Do you write at night or in the morning?

MM. My freshest time is early morning. I tend to write scene by scene, with a fairly complete outline so I don’t stray from the path. My process is more of an “ocean wave” where the tide comes in and goes out, LOL. I like to end up with a full 2nd draft when I’m done.

IAN. Did you use an outline or do you just wing the first draft?

MM. I’m an outline writer. I’m too much of a control freak to wing it!

IAN. How is your book different from others in your genre?

MM. Double Crossing is a historical western romantic suspense, which makes it quite unique! It’s more focused on the suspense than romance – and has vivid imagery and history details infused within the heroine’s first person point of view.

IAN. Is your book published in print, e-book or both?

MM. Both, first an e-book and then in print. Astraea Press operates through PayPal, and Double Crossing will also be available through Amazon and B&N.

IAN. What do you hope your readers come away with after reading your book?

MM. A sense of history, since the transcontinental railroad’s debut changed so much after the tragedy of civil war, plus a sense of justice being served. In real life, we can’t always achieve that. In genre fiction, readers can enjoy the story characters’ journey and be certain that the villain will be overcome.

IAN. Where can we go to buy Double Crossing?

MM. http://www.astraeapress.com at first, and then Amazon and B&N’s websites. Print copies will be the same.

IAN. Tell us about your next book or a work in progress. Is it a sequel or a stand alone?

MM. Double or Nothing is the sequel to Double Crossing, and I’ll see how that goes if I need to expand to a trilogy. I’m revising Heaven Sent, a stand-alone historical romance with a suspense twist, and have finished a traditional mystery, FIRE POINT, which is being considered by another publisher. Lots on my plate!

IAN. Any other links or info you'd like to share?
MM. Book Website - http://www.double-crossing.com

Book Trailer - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2mDe17A5aF8

Facebook - http://www.facebook.com/authormegmims

Twitter - https://twitter.com/#!/megmims

Website – http://www.megmims.com


DOUBLE CROSSING by Meg Mims

CHAPTER ONE of Double Crossing, Meg Mims… Astraea Press, August 2011

Evanston, Illinois: 1869

I burst into the house. Keeping the flimsy telegram envelope, I dumped half a dozen packages into the maid’s waiting arms. “Where’s Father? I need to speak to him.”

“He’s in the library, Miss Lily. With Mr. Todaro.”

Oh, bother. I didn’t have time to deal with Emil Todaro, my father’s lawyer. He was the last person I wanted to see—but that couldn’t be helped. Thanking Etta, I raced down the hall. Father turned from his roll-top desk, spectacles perched on his thin nose and hands full of rustling papers. Todaro rose from an armchair with a courteous bow. His silver waistcoat buttons strained over his belly and his balding head shone in the sunlight. I forced myself to nod in his direction and then planted a quick kiss on Father’s leathery cheek. The familiar scents of pipe tobacco and bay rum soothed my nervous energy.

“I didn’t expect you back so early, Lily. What is it?”

With an uneasy glance at Todaro, I slipped him the envelope. “The telegraph messenger boy caught me on my way home.” My voice dropped. “It’s from Uncle Harrison.”

Father poked up his wire rims while he pored over the brief message. His shoulders slumped. “I’ll speak plainly, Lily, because Mr. Todaro and I were discussing this earlier. My brother sent word that George Hearst intends to claim the Early Bird mine in a Sacramento court. Harrison believes his partner never filed the deed. He needs to prove our ownership.”

“Hearst holds an interest in the Comstock Lode, Colonel.” Todaro had perked up, his long knobby fingers forming a steeple. The lawyer resembled an amphibian, along with his deep croak of a voice. “His lawyers are just as ambitious and ruthless in court.”

Father peered over his spectacles. “Yes, but I have the original deed. I didn’t plan to visit California until next month, but we’ll have to move up our trip.”

“Oh!” I clasped my hands, a thrill racing through me. “I’m dying to visit all the shops out there, especially in San Francisco. When do we leave?”

“We? I meant myself and Mr. Todaro.”

I stared at the lawyer, who didn’t conceal a sly smirk. “You cannot leave me behind, Father. I promised to visit Uncle Harrison, and what if I decide to go to China?”

“Lily, I refuse to discuss the matter. This trip is anything but a lark.”

“It’s a grueling two thousand miles on the railroad, Miss Granville. Conditions out west are far too dangerous for a young lady,” Todaro said. “Even with an escort.”

“The new transcontinental line has been operating all summer. Plenty of women have traveled to California. I’ve read the newspaper reports.”

“I’m afraid the Union and Central Pacific cars are not at all as luxurious as the reports say. You have no idea. The way stations are abominable, for one thing.”

I flashed a smile at him. “I’m ready for adventure. That’s why I’ve considered joining the missionary team with Mr. Mason.”

Father scowled. “You are not leaving Evanston until I give my approval.”

“You mean until you dissuade me from ‘such a ridiculous notion.’”

“Need I remind you of the fourth commandment, Lily?”

Red-faced, annoyed by being reprimanded in front of Todaro, I ignored the rest of the conversation. I’d always wanted to see the open prairie and perhaps a buffalo herd chased by Indians, the majestic Rocky Mountains and California. California, with its mining camps, lush green meadows and warm sunshine, the cities of Sacramento and San Francisco that had to be as exhilarating as downtown Chicago. I’d pored over the grainy pen-and-ink drawings in the Chicago Times. Uncle Harrison, who’d gone west several years ago to make a fortune and succeeded, for the most part, would welcome me with open arms. I plopped down on an armchair and fingered the ridges of the brass floor lamp beside me.

Somehow I had to persuade Father to let me tag along on this trip.

When Mr. Todaro’s bulky form disappeared out the door, Father glanced at me. “All right, my dear. Let’s discuss this business about California.”

Heart thudding, I stood up. “Why do you need Mr. Todaro, Father? I don’t trust him one bit. Uncle Harrison has a good lawyer in Sacramento.”

“He insisted on accompanying me. Emil has a quick mind in court.”

“Maybe so, but—”

“I wouldn’t be alive if not for his help. He pulled me out of a heap of bodies at Shiloh, remember. I know you don’t like him, Lily, but I will keep him as my lawyer.”

Frowning, I swallowed further protest. True, I disliked him. Something about the bulbous-nosed, oily man sent shivers up my spine. I crossed to the window, remembering the time I’d seen Todaro aiming a kick at my pet lizard in the garden. Telling Father about the incident now would make me sound childish and petty.

“Tell me about the Early Bird mine, Father. Is it like the Comstock Lode?”

“Quicksilver. Your uncle is set on new technology, hydraulic mining. It uses high pressure jets of water and is quite expensive. He knows more about it than I do.”

I chose a toasted point topped with cheese, tomato and spinach. “Then I’d better travel with you to California so I can ask him myself.”

“You need to stay here where it’s safe.”

After gulping some chilled lemonade, I set down the glass. I’d prayed on my knees every night and morning, waiting for some sign, but nothing changed. I didn’t love Charles, and didn’t share his missionary dream. If I rejected him, I might be stuck in a loveless marriage to someone else. If I married Charles, perhaps my inheritance money would come to good use once I turned twenty-one. But I’d be thousands of miles away from home, among foreigners, and might never see Father again. Neither choice led to happiness.

Tiny dust motes danced in a ray of late sunshine beaming through the window’s lace curtain. Cicadas droned outside among the trees. The mournful sound, buzzing low and then high, sent a shiver down my spine.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Douglas Dorow: The IAN Interview

Douglas Dorow is a thriller writer from Minneapolis Minnesota, the home of many thriller/suspense writers. Is it something in the water or the long, cold winters?

He's been a thriller reader for a long time and finally decided to craft one himself. The result is his first book, a thriller, The Ninth District, which was released in June as an ebook.

Douglas was born and raised in Fargo, North Dakota. He's worked as a civil engineer and an information technology professional.

He's continuing to write in the thriller genre with a follow-up to the first book in the works and a separate stand alone started.

IAN. Tell us about The Ninth District

DD. The Federal Reserve has never been robbed.

Special Agent Jack Miller, pulled into a high-profile case to mentor a new agent, finds himself in a clash with the toughest opponent of his career. The chase culminates in the bowels of the city, in the storm sewers and tunnels beneath The Ninth District Federal Reserve of Minneapolis. The Ninth District is a thriller approximately 74,600 words (300 pages) in length.

IAN. How long did it take to write the book?

DD. Boy, I worked on this book a long time, years. They say you should put your first book away and count it as practice. I feel I did that with all of the rewriting and deleting I did. I didn't publish the first book I wrote, but I did publish the first book I started.

IAN. What inspired you to write the book?

DD. I've always been a big reader; spy and espionage, thrillers, mysteries, horror. I enjoyed my creative writing classes in college and got some good feedback from my professors, but finished my schooling in engineering and years later decided to take a writing course and try my hand at writing. I kept telling people I was going to write a book and then I finally did it. I'd been primarily a reader of thrillers the years before that so decided to see if I could craft one myself.

When I started writing this book there seemed to be a lot of thrillers with detectives, police, sheriff's as the protagonist. I had a friend who was an FBI agent and decided that that would fit my protagonist. He was going to focus on solving bank robberies. Then I read a local story about urban explorers in the Minneapolis area exploring tunnels and sewers under the city and how they were afraid to explore the area by the Federal Reserve after 9/11 because of increased security concerns. That brought everything together for the thriller I wrote.

IAN. Talk about the writing process. (do you write at night or in the morning)

DD. I write best either at home at night after everyone has gone to bed and there are few distractions or at coffee shops with my ear buds and music after dropping my son off at one of his sports practices.

IAN. Did you use an outline or do you just wing the first draft?

DD. I didn't do a detailed outline, but I did create a list of scenes, each with the main action, the POV and the timeline. I used that as a guide, but allowed myself to be open to new ideas and questions as I went along. One thing that I found this allowed me to do was to jump ahead if I got stuck on a particular scene.

IAN. How is your book different from others in your genre?

DD. I don't think it's greatly different, but I've decided to write a thriller with a setting local to Minnesota. Other Minnesota authors have used the local color to attract an audience that may not be familiar with the midwest. John Sandford writes about the Minneapolis/St. Paul metro area primarily, Brian Freeman's stories are set primarily around Duluth on Lake Superior. William Kent Krueger's stories take place in northern Minnesota. Mine will be throughout Minnesota and North Dakota.

IAN. Is your book published in print, e-book or both?

DD. I chose to only publish this as an e-book at this time due to the changing options for authors to share in a bigger percentage of the sales. I've thought about exploring CreateSpace as an option to offer a paper version, but the price point for the reader is pretty high so I decided to wait and see if there was any demand other than from my older relatives who don't want to invest in e-reading devices. And surprisingly some of them have instead read it on their computer using the kindle or nook app.

IAN. What do you hope your readers come away with after reading your book?

DD. I just want the reader to be entertained. Hopefully, they were able to escape into the story for a short time and enjoy the experience.

IAN. Where can we go to buy your book?

DD. The book is available on kindle, nook, smashwords, and iBook.

IAN. Tell us about your next book or a work in progress. Is it a sequel or a stand alone?

DD. I'm currently working on two books.

The first is a sequel to The Ninth District following Special Agent Jack Miller the next year on vacation where he is dragged into another adventure/investigation bringing down a criminal family.

The second is the first in a new series.

IAN. Any other links or info you'd like to share?

DD.

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Kindle Nook

The Ninth District by Douglas Dorow

Approx 300 pages

Thriller / Suspense

“Junior has a good start on this. I’ll let him fill you in on the Governor.” Jack walked over to the window and took in the view of the neighboring downtown buildings and Mississippi beyond them.

“The Governor?” the SAC asked.

“That’s what we’re calling him. Go ahead, Agent Fruen.”

Ross opened his notebook and cleared his throat. “Well, sir, we’ve linked four bank robberies together over the past four months. We’re pretty sure all four have been committed by the same person wearing the same mask, which appears to be custom made. It’s a very good likeness of the governor from a few years back.” Ross paused, cleared his throat, and continued.

“The MO is very similar, other than the murder this morning. And he’s exhibited the same habit leaving each of the banks.”

“What’s that?”

“Well, sir, he salutes the security camera as he leaves the building.”

“Salutes?”

“Yes, sir. Like this.” Ross imitated touching the first two fingers of his right hand to his eyebrow. “Every time.”

“Don’t publicize that detail. What’s next, Jack?”

“It’s his case.”

Ross glared at Jack, and thought for a second. “I have a couple of interviews I want to follow up on. I’d like to revisit the crime scene and we have the videos from the banks and the surrounding area from the bank this morning being looked at by the lab.”

The SAC took off his glasses, leaned back, and looked at Ross. “Sounds like you have a mask, a salute, and nothing else. We’re not too close to nailing this guy, are we?”

Ross kept his head up, but his voice gave away his lack of confidence. “No, sir.”

“Well, I told you how the media’s all over this one. Keep digging. Follow procedure. It’s your case, but use Jack’s help and experience, don’t be afraid to ask questions and bounce things off him.” He nodded towards the door. “Why don’t you give Jack and me a minute?”

“I’ll meet you at the parking lot door,” Jack said to Ross.

Once Ross had left, the SAC asked Jack to sit. “Is he up to this?”

Sitting in the comfortable chair, Jack thought of his first field office assignment. He was Junior once; a fresh agent full of confidence, wanting to prove himself, looking for that case that would make a difference and help accelerate your career. This was one of those.

“Sure. He’s full of energy, smart, wants to do well. He’ll nail it, but it’s going to take some time.” Jack leaned forward. “This guy in the mask is smart, but he’s cocky. That’s how we’ll catch him.”

“Jack, I know you’ll support Ross and help him out. But, if he’s not up to it, you have to step in. This one is going to get noisy. Nobody likes multiple bank robberies; throw in the murder in Wayzata, politicians will start talking, and Washington will call me. We don’t need that. You need to catch this guy before he robs another bank or kills somebody else. It’s starting this afternoon with a news conference in Wayzata. I want this to be an FBI case; don’t let the police take it. Our spokesperson will be there, but keep this one on our side. The bank robberies are ours and we’ll help with the murder investigation too.” He turned and looked out the window. “Are you doing OK, Jack?”

“I’m doing OK.”

“This case can be a springboard, Jack. Things are good here, not that I want to lose you, but this case can do something for your career.”

Jack was surrounded by the SAC’s hall of fame; pictures on the wall with politicians and celebrities. He had comfortable chairs, four walls, and a door. Jack thought about his cube and his call with Julie.

“I know it’ll be under the microscope. I’ll work with Junior and we’ll get this guy.”

“OK.” The SAC leaned forward on his desk. “You and Julie OK? This job can be hell on relationships.”

“We’re working on it.” Jack stared at the SAC. “Why, did somebody say something?”

“Just noise.”

“We’re fine.”

The SAC waited a couple of beats for Jack to go on. Jack stayed quiet and they stared at each other. The SAC blinked first and turned to some papers on his desk.

“All right, go see if you can help Ross and let me know if you need anything. Anything needs to go public, you work it through our spokesperson. I don’t think Ross is ready for the media circus without your guidance, yet. Stay ahead of this one.”

Jack got up to leave. When he reached the door, the SAC called out, “Hey, Jack.”

“Yeah?” Jack was halfway out the door and turned around.

“Please don’t call him Junior in public. And happy birthday.”

Jack smiled and gave him a little salute.