Beyond the Books

First Chapter Reveal: Alan 2 by Bruce Forciea #cyberthriller #firstchapters

Alan 2

Title: ALAN 2
Author: Bruce Forciea
Publisher: Open Books
Pages: 278
Genre: Cyber-Thriller

A brilliant artificial intelligence (AI) scientist, Dr. Alan Boyd, develops a new program that integrates part of his brain with a computer’s operating system. The program, Alan 2, can anticipate a user’s needs and automatically perform many tasks. A large software company, International Microsystems (IM) desperately wants the program and tempts Dr. Boyd with huge sums of money, but when Dr. Boyd refuses their offer, IM sabotages his job, leaving him in a difficult financial situation.

Dr. Boyd turns to Alan 2 for an answer to his financial problems, and Alan 2 develops plan Alpha, which is a cyber robin hood scheme to rob from rich corporations via a credit card scam.

Alan and his girlfriend Kaitlin travel to Mexico where they live the good life funded by plan Alpha, but the FBI cybercrime division has discovered part of Alan 2’s cyber escapades, and two agents, Rachel and Stu, trace the crime through the TOR network and Bitcoin.

Alan 2 discovers the FBI is on to them and advises Alan and Kaitlin to change locations. A dramatic chase ensues taking them to St. Thomas, a cruise ship bound for Spain, and finally to Morocco.

Will they escape detection? They will if Alan 2’s Plan Beta can be implemented in time. Or is ‘Plan B’ something altogether different than it appears to be, something wholly sinister that will affect the entire population of the world?

Watch the trailer at YouTube!

Purchase Information:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Publisher

 

First Chapter:

Bang! Bang! Bang! The flimsy apartment door rattled on its frame with every blow.

“Kaitlin, don’t even think of answering that!” Alan growled through his teeth.

Kaitlin shrugged her shoulders and moved away from the door toward the living room where Alan sat at a table full of electronics gear.

“Dr. Boyd, are you home?” shouted the voice on the other side of the door in an Indian accent. “I want to talk to you. I have a very good offer. Please, Dr. Boyd, it will only take a minute, and I think you will be quite pleased with what we have for you.”

“Go away; leave us alone,” Alan shouted. “I don’t want your offer.”

“But Dr. Boyd, we do pay very well. We are great admirers of your work.”

“I don’t care and I don’t want your money,” said Alan. “Now go away before I call the police.”

“Think about it, Dr. Boyd; I will be in touch.”

“Incessant bastards,” said Alan as his attention turned back to his work. “I’ll cherish the day they leave us alone. Kaitlin, come over here and help me with this injection.”

Alan rolled up the sleeve of his t-shirt while Kaitlin picked up the syringe containing the gadolinium contrast. She pinched an ample section of skin and plunged the syringe into his arm. The needle stung like an angry wasp, causing Alan to grimace.

“Can’t you be gentle? You’ve done enough of these by now to get the hang of it. You shouldn’t jam it in like that!”

Kaitlin rolled her eyes and shook her head. “I think I do pretty well considering I don’t have any medical training,” she said while jerking the syringe out of his arm.

“Okay, okay. Just take your position at the console.”

She sighed, plopped onto a small task chair and rolled over to a makeshift wooden table holding a desktop PC and a large high-definition monitor. She had been through this process countless times before.

Alan entered a large metallic structure in the center of the living room. The box-like structure, made of aluminum, dominated the rectangular room which was devoid of furniture. Its dull silver hue contrasted the blank walls. He closed the door and climbed into a chair that looked like it came from an early Gemini spacecraft. The stiff plastic chair, sandwiched between two large metal discs, afforded a good deal of postural support but little comfort. He sat down and slowly slid his head between the thick metal and plastic arms of a large U-shaped device. There was just enough clearance as he wriggled his head to achieve the perfect position. He pulled down on a large metallic tube suspended above him so that it surrounded his entire head. He positioned the tube so that the rectangular slit lined up with his visual axis, allowing for a line of sight to the monitor located outside of the tube. The small fMRI scanner had taken a good deal of time and money to cobble together, but it was the only way to capture the needed information from his brain.

Alan viewed Kaitlin through a small round Plexiglas window in the door and signaled with a thumbs-up to begin the scan. She waved and entered the start sequence into the keyboard, sat back, slid an unlit cigarette between her lips and picked up a copy of People Magazine. He pushed his head back against the headrest and adjusted the monitor suspended on a boom so he could see the screen. The machine first hummed as it powered up and then made periodic knocking sounds.

Alan focused his attention on the monitor while the scanner began its first sequence. The monitor displayed a series of images designed to evoke emotions. Each image popped onto the screen and persisted for ten seconds before another replaced it. There was a small child holding hands with his father, a mother holding a baby, a couple admiring their child in a crib, and many more. All the images had been chosen to trigger emotional responses, causing changes in blood flow to certain areas of Alan’s brain. An image would appear for a few seconds and then the machine would complete a scan. The process repeated until all one hundred twenty-seven images had been displayed. The entire cycle then repeated two more times with random sequences of the same set of images.

This would be the final scan involving diffusion tensor imaging of Alan’s frontal lobes. Previous scans had involved the study of responses to a variety of topics. In addition to emotions such as sadness, joy, anxiety, and fear, there were cognitive studies that examined Alan’s problem solving techniques as well as his reaction to global events. In all, there were over one hundred fifty scans taken over the past two years.

About the Author

Bruce Forciea

Bruce Forciea is known for taking complex scientific concepts and making them easy to understand through engaging stories and simple explanations. He is an Amazon Best Selling Author and author of several books on healing and biology, along with science fiction thriller novels. His fiction writing draws on a diverse and eclectic background that includes touring and performing with a professional show, designing digital circuits, treating thousands of patients, and teaching. His stories include complex plots with unexpected twists and turns, quirky characters, and a reality very similar to our own. Dr. Forciea lives in Wisconsin and loves writing during the solitude of the long Northern winters.

Website & Social Links:

WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK

Author Interview: Historical Fantasy Author Shelley Schanfield

Shelley Schanfield’s passion for Buddhism and yoga arose sixteen years ago, when she and her son earned black belts in Tae Kwon Do. The links between the martial arts and Buddhist techniques to calm and focus the mind fascinated her. By profession a librarian, Shelley plunged into research about the time, place, and spiritual traditions that 2500 years ago produced Prince Siddhartha, who became the Buddha. Yoga, in some form, has a role in all of these traditions. Its transformational teachings soon prompted Shelley to hang up her black belt and begin a yoga practice that she follows to this day.

Because she loves historical fiction, Shelley looked for a good novel about the Buddha. When she didn’t find one that satisfied her, she decided to write her own novels based on the spiritual struggles of women in the Buddha’s time. She published the first book in the Sadhana Trilogy, The Tigress and the Yogi, in 2016 and will publish the second, The Mountain Goddess in early 2017.

WEBSITE & SOCIAL LINKS

WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK

Q: Welcome to Beyond the Books, Shelley.  Can we start out by telling us whether you are published for the first time or are you multi-published?

I have published two books: The Tigress and the Yogi and The Mountain Goddess. They are the first and second books in The Sadhana Trilogy, which tells the stories of remarkable women of the Buddha’s time.

Q: When you were published for the first time, which route did you go – mainstream, small press, vanity published or self-published and why or how did you choose this route?

I started my own imprint, Lake House Books, and I am its president, CFO, marketing and sales force, senior editor, and best-selling author!

In all seriousness, I started by finding an agent and hoping to find a traditional publisher. After a year, my agent had not succeeded in selling my manuscript and we parted ways amicably. At that time, self- and indie-publishing had really surged as viable paths to publication. My work crosses genres—historical fiction, fantasy, women’s fiction, a dash of romance—and I felt my best chance to keep it mine, that is, to write what I wanted, was to self-publish.

Q: How long did it take you to get published once you signed the contract?

If you self-publish, you can do it anytime, which is the beauty and danger of it. You should spend the money for good, solid editing and you should read the contract of the distributors and publishers you use. That said, I did a lot of research.

I compared Kindle exclusivity (KDP Select has certain advantages but serious limitations) vs. multiple e-book platforms and went with the latter. I upload to Draft2Digital which distributes to various platforms (iBooks, Nook, Kobo, many others) for you.

For the print book, I researched Amazon’s Create Space vs. vendors like Epigraph or Mill City Press or Ingram Spark and ultimately found a third way, which was to sign a contract with a local book manufacturer, Thomson-Shore, whose printed product was much higher quality than what I’d seen from the other POD vendors.

Q: How did it make you feel to become published for the first time and how did you celebrate?

It took me sixteen years to write my first two books. I published the first one in January 2016. Holding it in my hands was one of the most satisfying moments of my life, almost as overwhelming as to give birth to my two kids!

How did I celebrate? By getting back to work to get the second book published—getting ISBNs, Library of Congress cataloging and control numbers; arranging for copyediting and proofreading; working with my wonderful book designer Streetlight Graphics (creator of my first book’s award-winning cover); and finally, working on marketing. Thanks to PumpUpYouBook, this is already going better for the second book! Book Two, published February 2017, is now available!

Q: What was the first thing you did as for as promotion when you were published for the first time?

I held a book launch at local bookstore Bookbound. I read and took questions and had a great time! I sold a lot of books that day, which was a huge shot in the arm for doing additional publicity.

Q: Since you’ve been published, how have you grown as a writer and now a published author?

My belief in my own artistic process has grown deeper. I passionately wanted to tell the stories that came to me about women of the Buddha’s time and their spiritual journeys. To do that, I needed to master craft and technique and language and make it serve a thrilling story. Ultimately, this required more time spent alone than with critique groups and editors, though they are essential for support, constructive input, and wisdom. So what I’ve learned is that you must close the door and without anyone watching you must put your heart on the page. Then no matter what happens, you will have written something authentically yours.

“Publishing is the punishment for writing.” I’m not sure who said that, but it rings true! Some authors revel in the marketing you must do to find an audience, but I’m one of the many who would rather be at my desk creating characters and worlds. However, I’m learning!

Q: What has surprised or amazed you about the publishing industry as a whole?

I’m absolutely amazed at how many people have the stamina to write novels. How many novels are published every year? Several hundred thousand! It’s no easy task to stay with it when friends and family look at you like you’re crazy, when sometimes the blank page stares at you defiantly, just about daring you to write even a single word, when you’re late for work, your kid just spilled milk and cereal over today’s homework, and the cat just puked all over the carpet, and all of this with no guarantee of ever making a nickel. And writers still do it. Creating art is its own reward.

Q: What is the most rewarding thing about being a published author?

When you hear from a reader that your book moved them or helped them or took them somewhere they’d never been before.

Q: Any final words for writers who dream of being published one day?

Just two:  Keep writing!

 

 

Character Interview: Claire Conover from Margaret Fenton’s amateur sleuth mystery ‘Little Girl Gone’

character interviews logoWe’re thrilled to have here today Claire Conover from Margaret Fenton’s new mystery, Little Girl Gone.  Claire is a 30 year old social worker living in Birmingham, Alabama. It is a pleasure to have her with us today at Beyond the Books!

Thank you so for this interview, Claire.  Now that the book has been written, do you feel you were fairly portrayed or would you like to set anything straight with your readers?

I think I’m always pretty fairly portrayed by Margaret.  She used to work with child welfare social workers as the mental health consultant for the Jefferson County Department of Human Resources, so she knows about social workers and what they do every day.  She knows how difficult and draining this job can be, even if mine is at the slightly fictionalized Department of Human Services.

Do you feel the author did a good job colorizing your personality?  If not, how would you like to have been portrayed differently?

Once again, I think she nailed it.  She’s painted me as a very hard worker who’s very dedicated to her job and the kids she serves.  I don’t have much of a life outside work, a social life that is, and I wish that would change.  I could use some more friends.

What do you believe is your strongest trait?

I’m a workaholic.

Worst trait?

I’m a workaholic.

If you could choose someone in the television or movie industry to play your part if your book was made into a movie, who would that be (and you can’t say yourself!)?

What’s her name, from “When Harry met Sally”.  Hang on.  Margaret has to go look this up for me. Meg Ryan.  That’s her.  She’s a bit older than me, though.  Margaret really isn’t much a movie fan and really doesn’t know many actors and actresses.

Do you have a love interest in the book?

Oh Lord, that’s a loaded question.  I have a boyfriend and he’s really wonderful.  His name is Grant Summerville and he’s tall and handsome and owns his own business.  Really love him, but there’s this reporter named Kirk Mahoney who is always flirting with me.  And he is hot.  I know I should walk away and leave him alone but I don’t know if that’s possible.

At what point of the book did you start getting nervous about the way it was going to turn out?

Whenever I hear gunshots I get a bit nervous.  I mean I’ve had one close shave in Little Lamb Lost, and another in this book so I wonder how long my luck can hold.

If you could trade places with one of the other characters in the book, which character would you really not want to be and why?

I have a friend that I meet in Little Girl Gone, and her name is LaReesa Jones.  She’s 13 and her mother—well, let’s just say there is a lot to be desired there.  She lives with her grandmother and she’s pure hell.  But Reese has a lot of spirit and intelligence.  I wouldn’t want to be her, but I really like her!

How do you feel about the ending of the book without giving too much away?

Another close shave and a hell of a cliffhanger.  I’m really worried.

What words of wisdom would you give your author if s/he decided to write another book with you in it?

She’s working on it now.  My third book will be called Little White Lies.  There’s a bombing in Birmingham, and the victim has a baby.  Stay tuned!

Thank you for this interview, Claire.  Will we be seeing more of you in the future?

Hopefully by Christmas.  We’ll see.  She needs to get writing!

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LGGcoverTitle: Little Girl Gone

Genre: Mystery

Author: Margaret Fenton

Websitewww.margaretfenton.com

Find out more on Amazon

About the Book:

When Little Girl Gone opens, it’s September in Birmingham, Alabama, and Claire Conover is steeling herself. September—with its oppressive, unwelcome heat, back-to-school newness worn off, and skyrocketing reports of abuse and neglect—is a time of year Claire has come to dread.  As the crime rate increases, so increases the work load for Claire and the Jefferson County Department of Human Services Child Welfare Division. Seems this year is no exception.

When she takes into custody a 13-year-old girl found sleeping behind a grocery store, Claire is swept up in a case that turns out to be far more complicated, and far more dangerous, than initially meets the eye. Struggling to piece together the young girl’s identity, Claire finds herself with few answers and no shortage of questions.  Is the young girl a runaway?  An abuse victim?  Or something else?   But things go from bad to worse when the young girl’s mother is found murdered—and then the girl disappears.  Claire soon discovers that the mother was involved in an illegal gambling industry in Birmingham.  But even with this clue, the case becomes more complicated.  Could the young girl have pulled the trigger?  Is that even possible?  And where could she have run?  Did she run at all? In the midst of all the questions, only one thing is certain: Claire has to find the answers, and the girl, fast.

A swiftly paced, suspenseful, and shocking story, Little Girl Gone earns Margaret Fenton a solid spot among today’s best mystery writers.  Masterful plotting, extraordinary character development, and a pulse racer of a plot combine to create an extraordinary mystery resplendent with twists, turns, and surprises.  An unforgettable story informed by Fenton’s near decade of experience as a social worker, Little Girl Gone also shines a light on the plight of at risk children and the dedication of those tireless and compassionate workers who serve them.  A stellar entry into what Booklisthailed “a promising new series,” Little Girl Gone is mesmerizing.

About the Author:

margaretfentonbirmingham

Margaret Fenton grew up on the Mississippi Gulf Coast and moved to Birmingham in 1996. She received her B.A. in English from the Newcomb College of Tulane University, and her Master of Social Work from Tulane. Fenton spent nearly ten years as a child and family therapist before taking a break to focus on her writing. Her work tends to reflect her interest in social causes and mental health, especially where kids are concerned. She serves as planning coordinator of Murder in the Magic City, a one-day, one-track annual mystery fan conference in Homewood, Alabama. She is President of the Birmingham Chapter of Sisters in Crime and a member of the Mystery Writers of America. Margaret lives in the Birmingham suburb of Hoover with her husband, a software developer.

Connect with the author on the web:

https://www.margaretfenton.com/

https://www.facebook.com/margaret.fenton

Character Interview: Danny Baker from Philip Cioffari’s mystery/thriller, THE BRONX KILL

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We’re thrilled to have here today, Danny Baker from Philip Cioffari’s new mystery/thriller, THE BRONX KILL.  Danny is a 24 year old temporarily unemployed aspiring teacher/writer, living in the Bronx, New York.

It is a pleasure to have him with us today at Beyond the Books!

Thank you so much for this interview, Danny.  Now that the book has been written, do you feel you were fairly portrayed or would you like to set anything straight with your readers?

Do you feel the author did a good job colorizing your personality?  If not, how would you like to have been portrayed differently?

Well, I suppose any character would like to be portrayed more glamorously than he truly is, but I think my author portrayed me honestly and realistically, which I guess is all that we can really ask for. He portrayed me, flaws and all, though I secretly hope some of my charm and glamor shows through. I think it does.

What do you believe is your strongest trait?

I think I have a sense of fair play. I try to treat everyone with respect. And I’m determined to find the truth, about myself and the world I move through, even if the truth hurts—which, in the novel, it does.

Worse trait?

Because of a debt I owe him, I let myself be overly influenced by another character in the novel, my friend Charlie. Because if him, I didn’t always act as honorably as I should have, especially with regard to the drowning incident in the novel. But I guess that’s what growth is all about: moving from the “you” you don’t like, to the “you” you’re comfortable with.

If you could choose someone in the television or movie industry to play your part if your book was made into a movie, who would that be (and you can’t say yourself!)?

Some possibilities: Douglas Booth, Emory Cohen, Frank Dillane, Nicholas Hoult. Mark Wahlberg, if he were younger.

Do you have a love interest in the book?

Yes. A woman who’s in love with one of my best friends. We lose touch, but throughout the novel, I’m yearning to meet her again.

At what point of the book did you start getting nervous about the way it was going to turn out?

I could see my friends and I going downhill, getting drawn deeper into a problem of our own making. As a result, I’m put in serious danger, especially when I come up against the NYPD detective who believes we caused the death by drowning of his younger brother.

If you could trade places with one of the other characters in the book, which character would you really not want to be and why?

I would not want to be my friend Charlie because of his uncontrollable desire to be in command of everyone and everything in his life, a trait which makes him blind to the needs of others, and causes him to suffer the rage of those he’s offended.

How do you feel about the ending of the book without giving too much away?

Basically, I feel good about it. A certain peace is achieved and, more importantly, a sense of hope.

What words of wisdom would you give your author if s/he decided to write another book with you in it?

Make me older and more mature.

Thank you for this interview, Danny.  Will we be seeing more of you in the future?

Anything’s possible. But knowing my author as I do, he usually like to start each new book with a clean slate.

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phil in b&W.jpgPhilip Cioffari is the author of the novels: DARK ROAD, DEAD END; JESUSVILLE;  CATHOLIC BOYS; and the short story collection, A HISTORY OF THINGS LOST OR BROKEN, which won the Tartt Fiction Prize, and the D. H. Lawrence award for fiction. His short stories have been published widely in commercial and literary magazines and anthologies, including North American Review, Playboy, Michigan Quarterly Review, Northwest Review, Florida Fiction, and Southern Humanities Review. He has written and directed for Off and Off-Off Broadway. His Indie feature film, which he wrote and directed, LOVE IN THE AGE OF DION, has won numerous awards, including Best Feature Film at the Long Island Int’l Film Expo, and Best Director at the NY Independent Film & Video Festival. He is a Professor of English, and director of the Performing and Literary Arts Honors Program, at William Paterson University. www.philipcioffari.com

Spotlight and Chapter Reveal: Echoes of Terror, by Maris Soule

EchoesOfTerrorFrontTitle: Echoes of Terror

Author: Maris Soule

Genre: Mystery

Publisher: Five Star

Websitehttp://marissoule.com 

Find out more on Amazon

The latest release by award-winning novelist Maris Soule, Echoes of Terror is a taut, tense tale about secrets, deadly intentions, and what happens when murder hits way too close to home.   Set against the backdrop of Skagway, Alaska,Echoes of Terror introduces protagonist Katherine Ward, a Skagway police officer who finds herself thrust in extraordinary—and extraordinarily frightening–circumstances when her past, present and future threaten to collide in a most dangerous way.

About Echoes of Terror:  Rural Skagway, Alaska’s small police force is accustomed to an occasional crime–a stolen bike here, a DUI there.  But when a teenager goes missing, the Skagway Police force is hardly prepared, especially with its Police Chief  in the hospital and an officer missing. Officer Katherine Ward is assigned the case, never expecting it to parallel her own kidnapping experience seventeen years earlier.  Soon, Katherine realizes what originally appeared to be the case of a rebellious teen runaway is anything but.  There’s something—or someone—sinister at work in this usually quiet town and a teenager’s life is in danger.

But missing teen Misty Morgan isn’t your average teenage girl:  she’s the daughter of a billionaire.  Misty thought running off with a college boy would get her father’s attention, but now she and another kidnapped teen are praying for their lives at the hands of a ruthless kidnapper. Stuck in China on a business trip, Misty’s father suspected his daughter was up to something and asked his longtime friend, Marine veteran Vince Nanini, to fly to Alaska and stop Misty. Problem is, Vince arrives too late to stop the kidnapping, and the police aren’t eager to let him help find the missing teen.

When Katherine realizes the same man who kidnapped and raped her years ago is the one holding Misty and the other teenager, the terror of those months in captivity resurfaces.  Together, Katherine and Vince must figure out where the kidnapper has taken two teenagers, and fast.  But nothing is at it seems in this race to stop a madman before he kills again. The clock is ticking—and this time, the past is close behind. Dangerously close behind…

Brimming with tension, filled with twists and turns, and resplendent with pulse-quickening suspense that reaches a dramatic and shocking crescendo, Echoes of Terror is a bone-chilling tale that grabs readers and doesn’t let go. Award-winning novelist Maris Soule delivers a briskly paced, masterfully plotted, spine-tinglingly realistic thriller that will leave readers gasping for breath.

According to bestselling novelist Libby Fischer Hellmann, author of the Ellie Foreman mystery series, “The pace and writing will keep you turning pages. And the twist at the end?  I didn’t see if coming. Do yourself a favor and read this thriller now.”

CHAPTER ONE

7:25 a.m. Thursday

“That guy is a frickin’ idiot.”

“Who’s an idiot?”

Brian Bane glanced at the girl sitting next to him before again splitting his attention between the twisting road in front of his Chevy Blazer and the tailgating Ford Explorer. On their right the roadway dropped over a thousand feet. As much as he liked excitement, this Internet-born adventure was not starting out as he’d imagined.

“The guy behind us,” he said, keeping a tight hold on the steering wheel. “He came up out of nowhere. Now he’s all over my ass. Like there’s any way for me to go faster up this grade.”

Misty—or Miss T as she was known on ChatPlace—twisted in her seat to look behind them. Her wild, blonde curls brushed her shoulders, and her mini-skirt showed a teasing view of her inner thigh. “Shit,” she hissed through her teeth.

“What?” Brian said.

“He sent Vince.”

“Who sent Vince?”

“My dad.”

“Your dad?” Brain didn’t like the sound of that. “So who’s Vince?”

“He’s a guy Dad knew in the Marines. He’s supposed to do computer security for my dad’s business, but he keeps acting like he’s my bodyguard. I can’t do a frickin’ thing without him showing up.”

She flopped back against the seat, and crossed her arms over her chest. The fact that her old man had sent someone after her, and the way she was pouting, didn’t bode well. For the first time since he’d picked Misty up in Skagway, Brian wasn’t so certain she was the eighteen years she’d advertised.

“How old are you, Misty? Your real age, I mean.”

She glared at him, and then looked away. “Age is meaningless.”

Meaningless, my ass, he thought. Damn, I’m so screwed. He was about to take an under-aged girl into Canada. No wonder some steroid filled ex-Marine with an over attachment to the boss’s daughter was after him. He’d be lucky if he wasn’t arrested as an International felon.

“Do you think—?”

A thump to the back corner bumper sent the Blazer into a fishtail, and Brian gasped, clinging to the steering wheel as he fought to bring the car back under control. “Jeez, Misty, your dad’s buddy just rammed us.”

“Then step on the gas,” Misty ordered, giving a quick glance behind them. “Outrun him.”

“In this thing?” The old Blazer was tired iron. The first part of the Klondike Highway, from Skagway to White Pass and the Canadian line, was a twisting, turning two-laner that rose from sea level to over three thousand feet. The steep incline was already taxing the engine. They’d be lucky to outrun a snowplow through this stretch.

Again the Explorer rammed into them, this time lurching them straight toward the guardrail as the road turned. Misty yelped and grabbed at the door. Brian swung the wheel. The sensation of the front right fender grating on metal vibrated through the steering column. When they came out of the turn, the Explorer was nearly side by side.

“Your dad’s buddy is nuts! He’s going to kill us.”

“Just go faster!”

“I’m going as fast as I can.”

The powerful Explorer began squeezing them closer to the guardrail. Jaw clenched and muscles taut, Brian struggled to keep his SUV on the pavement. Adrenalin pumped through his body, a bitter taste rising to his throat.

And then his heart nearly stopped.

Just a few hundred feet ahead, the guardrail turned into a twisted, jagged strip of metal that hung limply to the ground. Open air replaced protection. One bump from the Explorer as they passed that broken section of guardrail, and they’d definitely be going over the edge, tumbling down the mountainside.

“That’s it, Babe.”

Brian pulled his foot from the gas and began to brake.

“What are you doing? Don’t slow down!”

“Forget it,” he said in disgust. Man, his friends had been right about this whole hooking up online thing. They’d tried to talk him out of it, but all Brian had been seeing was a summer traveling through Canada with a hot chick. Instead of lots of sex and partying, after this ex-Marine got through with him, he’d be lucky if all of his body parts were intact.

Brian brought the Blazer to a complete stop, his entire body shaking. The Explorer angled in front of him, preventing a forward escape. With a sigh, Brian shifted into park, and then turned toward Misty—the beautiful, sexy Miss T.

The beautiful, sexy, under-aged, Miss T, he mentally corrected. “Wouldn’t you know I’d hook up with jailbait.”

She glared at him. “So it didn’t work out. Stop whining. Vince isn’t going to do anything to you.”

“Oh yeah?” Brian sure hoped that was true. “So, what was this, just a little joy ride for you?”

“What it was is none of your business.” Once again she looked away, out the side window.

Brian stared at her for a second, kicking himself for being such an idiot, then he stepped out of the car. As he looked toward the Explorer, he wondered if he should act angry—after all, Misty had duped him. Or guilty—because he should have known she was under-age.

The other car door began to open, and Brian called out, “Listen, man, I had no idea she was—” He broke off as the man straightened and faced him. He almost laughed when he saw the bear mask . . .

Then he saw the gun.

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MarisSoule2015

Acclaimed novelist Maris Soule is a two time RITA finalist who has won numerous awards for her novels over the last three decades. Born and raised in California, Maris majored in art at U.C. Davis and taught art for 8 years before retiring to raise a family. Maris and her husband divide their time between Michigan and Florida. Echoes of Terror is her 30th book.  Visit Maris Soule online at: www.marissoule.com

Character Interview: Alex Moreno from Liza Treviño’s women’s contemporary fiction novel, ‘All That Glitters: A Tale of Sex, Drugs and Hollywood Dreams’

character interviews logo

We’re thrilled to have here today Alexandria Moreno from Liza Treviño’s new women’s fiction novel, All That Glitters: A Tale of Sex, Drugs and Hollywood Dreams.  Alex Moreno is a 33 year old, film director screenwriter hyphenate living in Los Angeles, California.

It is a pleasure to have her with us today at Beyond the Books!

Thank you for inviting me here.

Thank you so much for this interview, Alex.  Now that the book has been written, do you feel you were fairly portrayed or would you like to set anything straight with your readers?

Yeah, I think I might’ve been a little too fairly portrayed. Seeing it all there in black and white, well, it’s hard to believe that’s supposed to be me. Sure, there was some poetic license here and there, especially early on…and, yeah…there are a few things that I’ll say are pure speculation on the author’s part, but I get it.  She’s got to tell a story and she’s got to amp up for maximum impact. I see myself in there, and I’m not too surprised about how I come off.

Do you feel the author did a good job colorizing your personality?  If not, how would you like to have been portrayed differently?

It’s weird to read about yourself, that’s for sure.  But, I think the author wrote me as I am – without pulling too many punches.  She wrote me as a “take it or leave it” kind of chick.  That’s not so great for me, because I can come off as, shall we say, unsympathetic? And that’s fair.  What can I say, I’ve proudly been “unsympathetic” from time to time.

What do you believe is your strongest trait?

Hmmm, I guess it would be my ability to focus on a goal 100% until it’s accomplished and do whatever it takes to make the goal happen.

Worse trait?

The same as my strongest trait. Really.

If you could choose someone in the television or movie industry to play your part if your book was made into a movie, who would that be (and you can’t say yourself!)?

I’d really like a Latina to portray me. I’d love someone like a cross between Michelle Rodriguez and Salma Hayek to play me. Yeah, that would be fucking cool. 

Do you have a love interest in the book?

Yeah, I guess you could say that. I mean, definitely more than I realized.

At what point of the book did you start getting nervous about the way it was going to turn out?

Can I say the first page? I write about other people, so to start reading, and know that the person on the page is me…well, it’s surreal. I mean, it’s all right there from the first page.

If you could trade places with one of the other characters in the book, which character would you really not want to be and why? 

My ex, Nick.  It would be depressing to be that much of an asshole—sorry, to be that much of a jerk. All. The.Time.

How do you feel about the ending of the book without giving too much away?

It’s dramatic, cinematic and I like that it provides closure without feeling final. How’s that for vague?  You know, I dig the wraparound structure the author used to tell the story. So, you start with the end at the beginning and then see everything that led up to that point, like Raging Bull. That’s cool. So, when the story does “catch up” to the end, there’s a sense of, “oh, THAT’S why that was happening.”  It made the ending feel more complete overall.

What words of wisdom would you give your author if s/he decided to write another book with you in it?

I’d say, good luck with trying to keep up with my next adventures.  

Thank you for this interview, Alex.  Will we be seeing more of you in the future?

No doubt about it.

I certainly hope so. You’ll have to read the book to find out.

/////////////////

184cd-author2blisa

Liza Treviño hails from Texas, spending many of her formative years on the I-35 corridor of San Antonio, Austin and Dallas.  In pursuit of adventure and a Ph.D., Liza moved to Los Angeles where she compiled a collection of short-term, low-level Hollywood jobs like script girl, producer assistant and production assistant.  Her time as a Hollywood Jane-of-all-trades gave her an insider’s view to a world most only see from the outside, providing the inspiration for creating a new breed of Latina heroine. Website: lizatrevino.com

All That Glitters Cover

About the book: 

Alexandria Moreno – clever, sexy, ambitious and, at times, self-destructive – blazes a path from Texas to Los Angeles at the dawn of the 1980s to make her dreams of becoming an A-list Hollywood film director come true. She and her best friend arrive in Los Angeles with little more than hope and determination to make it big. Alex, her beauty as dark and mysterious as her scarred heart, stands at the bottom of the Hollywood mountain looking up, fighting for her chance to climb to the top. Will her quest to live fast and take no prisoners on her way to the top destroy her in the end?

All That Glitters is a women’s fiction Jackie Collins-type saga that introduces a strong, driven Latina heroine at the center of a rags-to-riches story spanning a decade of action. Along the way, Alexandria walks the fine line separating ambition and self-destruction, and discovers that some sacrifices will cost her everything.

Advance Praise for All That Glitters

Kudos to Liza Treviño for giving us this unique image of the New Latina! I urge reading All that Glitters. You won’t regret it. – Graciela Limón, author
Treviño tells her story with wit, intelligence, and an undercurrent of sadness at the plight women face to make a name for themselves as human beings instead of strictly as women.” Jonathan Marcantoni, author and publisher of La Casita Grande Press

Click to Buy on Amazon: All That Glitters

First Chapter Reveal: Sealed Up by Steve Dunn Hanson

sealed-up

Title: Sealed Up
Author: Steve Dunn Hanson
Publisher: Independent
Pages: 402
Genre: Action/Adventure/Suspense

The Da Vinci Code unsettles. SEALED UP shakes to the core!

UCLA anthropologist Nathan Hill, in a funk since his young wife’s death, learns of staggering millennia-old chronicles sealed up somewhere in a Mesoamerica cliff. This bombshell rocks him out of his gloom, and he leads a clandestine expedition to uncover them. What are they? Who put them there? No one knows. But, self-absorbed televangelist Brother Luke, who funds the expedition, thinks he does. If he’s right, his power-hunger will have off-the-charts gratification.

Striking Audra Chang joins Nathan in his pursuit and brings her own shocking secret. As they struggle through a literal jungle of puzzles and dead ends, she finds herself falling in love with Nathan. Her secret, though, may make that a non-starter.

When a shaman with a thirst for human sacrifice, and a murderous Mexican drug lord with a mysterious connection to Brother Luke emerge, the expedition appears doomed. Yet Nathan is convinced that fate—or something—demands these inscrutable chronicles be unearthed.

And if they are . . . what shattering disruption will they unleash?

Intricately layered and remarkably researched, this enthralling suspense-driven and thought provoking tour de force begs a startling question: Could it happen?

Pick up your copy at:

Amazon

First Chapter:

Thursday, December 21, 2000

NAJA, CHIAPAS, MEXICO

Nacom was dying.

Guanacaste trees filtered the twilight into gold slivers that shimmered across Laguna Naja. The lake bore the name of the Lacandón Maya village nestled against it. Kish squatted on the ribbon of beach that framed the giant pond and stared at the darkening blue water. His black hair hung like string around his face, and his white tunic draped him like a sack. Koh Maria told him to wait there. She said her grandfather wanted to speak with him.

Kish knew what Nacom wanted.

“Who will follow a nineteen-year-old shaman,” he groused. Guttural growls of howler monkeys sounded like mocking laughter, and his shoulders slumped. A sharp tug on his tunic pulled him from his petulance.

“Now,” Koh Maria said.

Kish followed her to Nacom’s hut where she pushed open two square-ish boards hinged to weathered posts. Inside, roughhewn mahogany planks of random widths formed the walls. The shaman’s shriveled body lay in a hand-loomed hammock of faded palm-green and corn-yellow stripes. He cracked open his eyes as Kish stood beside him. With the back of his hand, he dismissed Koh Maria.

“You. Chilam.” Nacom whispered. “Itzamná speaks.”

“Priest? Me?” Kish stuttered as he shook his head.

“Obey!” Nacom responded, and his finger pointed to the arcane mahogany box beneath his hammock. Kish did not know what was inside, but something about the box unsettled him. The old man moved his fingers back and forth. Once. Twice. Kish was to pick it up. His hands quivered as he set the box on the simple table by the hammock’s side.

Nacom mumbled something. Kish bent closer. Nacom spoke again. “What day?”

Kish replied in Hach T’ana, the pure Mayan tongue: “Lahca baktun. Bolonlahun katun. Uuc tun. Canlahun uinal. Uuclahun kin.” December 21, 2000—winter solstice.

“Yes,” Nacom slurred. “You prepare. Lahca baktun. Bolonlahun katun. Bolonlahun tun. Uaxac uinal. Hun kin.” In four-thousand-one-hundred-eighty-four days. His hand moved to a thin cord around his neck. He labored as he pulled it from under his white tunic revealing a small key. Kish was to remove it.

With care he raised the old man’s head and slipped the cord over it. For a long moment Nacom lay still; his breath hardly there at all. Then the index finger of his right hand pushed toward the box and wiggled. Kish fought his anxiety as he inserted the key.

“Should I open it?” His voice was high, tense. Nacom’s head bobbed a little. Kish turned the key and raised the lid. A rectangular-shaped object on top was enfolded in white cotton cloth. The one on the bottom, shaped the same but thicker, was wrapped tight in the black pelt of a jaguar and bound with four cords. Kish reached to pick up the white one.

“No!” Nacom’s fingers lifted an inch as he forced out the word with startling firmness. “You. Prepare. Listen Itzamná.” His breath was heavy. “You. Keep box. Sacwa’an (white). Study. Follow. I’ic’ (black). No you. Give. Lahca baktun. Bolonlahun katun. Bolonlahun tun. Uaxac uinal. Hun kin.” In four-thousand-one-hundred-eighty-four days. His breath was a gasp and almost ceased. For a long moment there was no movement; no sound, except for Kish’s own nervous panting. Then Nacom whispered, “Not fail. Lock box. Koh Maria.”

Kish closed the lid and fastened it. His hands shook as he put the cord with the key around his own neck. He scrambled to the doorway and motioned to Koh Maria. She entered, opened her eyes wide at Kish’s ashen face, then went to her grandfather and held his hand. His face puckered into a tiny wrinkled smile. With effort he lifted his eyes to reveal red-veined film, and words like a ghost-rustle parted his lips. “The box. Kish.” Koh Maria nodded.

With a gurgle, Nacom breathed in.

Breathed out.

Then no more.

About the Author

steve-dunn-hanson

I’ve lived in places that grew me . . . from a small Idaho farm town, a run-down neighborhood in St. Louis, and a middle-class southern California community, to Sydney, Australia, and Bucharest, Romania. My experiences are as varied as the places I’ve lived. I have a hopper full of “reality” including being a volunteer jail chaplain and flying with a U.S. presidential candidate in his small plane when an engine conked out. And all of this is fodder for my writing.

My latest book is the action/adventure/suspense novel, Sealed Up.

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