CH A P T E R 1The dust covered yellow school bus rumbled down the cracked asphalt road,
shaking the children inside. Tommy’s body was inclined back against his
seat, his feet planted at the top of the green vinyl covered seat in front of
him. He alternated between glancing at his best friend Brian and peering
out the window at the blur of the fading autumn colors along the road.
Kevin was sitting rather imperiously at the back of the bus, grimacing down
at his cell phone that he removed from his pocket every couple of minutes.
Unable to resist commenting, Carlos leaned across the aisle. “Alright,
what’s the deal, Kevin? You got a hot date or something?”
Kevin’s face flushed slightly. “Uh…yeah! Jealous much?”
Despite his retort, his hands were shaking. Sunlight streaming through
the windows revealed a rather puffy ring of black and blue flesh underneath
his right eye. Tommy spotted the clumsy attempt to hide the bruise with
makeup. For an instant, the two boys’ eyes met but Kevin cast his eyes
downward, looking ashamed. He looked at his phone again, and Tommy
A smirk curled across Carlos’ lips as he quipped, “Yeah, right. Your left
hand isn’t a date!” A chorus of chuckles emanated from the kids sitting in
front of the group of boys.
Kevin turned to face him and punched the boy in the shoulder with a
dull thwack. Before he could say anything, Kevin leaned back in his seat
and said, “Just FYI, it’s my right hand.” The children in earshot giggled at
After rubbing his shoulder, Carlos looked back at Kevin. “Seriously,
dude, what’s up?” Tommy looked over at him and discreetly touched his
own face, to draw Carlos’ attention to Kevin’s bruise. After Carlos had realized
what he meant, the group became quiet.
Kevin put his phone away, leaned back against the window facing his
friends and forced a smile. “The only problem I have is your ugly face.”
Carlos flipped Kevin off, and poked Jacob who was giggling at his expense.
Tommy glanced at Brian and smiled. When he returned the smile,
Tommy looked down, his face brightening. Carlos and Jacob nudged one
another and pointed at the pair. Carlos was dozing in the sunlight, while
Jacob leaned against him listening to music on his headphones, watching
Tommy and Brian with bemused interest.
Kevin shook his head and grinned knowingly back at Jacob. Tommy
caught the boys’ conspiratorial glances and turned his head to the side. He
felt he was the punch line of an inside joke sometimes, but wasn’t quite sure
why. His curiosity was interrupted by his cell phone vibrating in his pocket.
He dug the phone out and read the text message from his mother.
“Yeah! It’s here!” Tommy exclaimed as he pumped his fist in the air
His voice rousted Carlos from his slumber. “What’s here? Another My
Little Pony?” he asked.
“Your birthday was last month, dork. No, my Halloween costume,”
Tommy responded matter-of-factly.
Kevin spun his hand around in a circle. “Uh, and…”
“It’s a surprise!” Tommy said with a mischievous grin, staring into
Brian’s grey eyes.
Carlos huffed with annoyance. “Dude, if you wear the same costume as
me again this year I’m going to kick your ass.”
“You’re still going as the red Master Chief, right?” Tommy asked with
Carlos nodded affirmatively. “You’re going as a Templar, right,
Brian responded affirmatively, “I got some chain mail, and Mom
bought me a historically accurate tabard and helmet to go with it! Now if I
could use Dad’s old sword, the outfit would be perfect.”
“Even with the sword, I’m still going to own you,” Carlos said confidently.
He looked over at Kevin. “You decide on an outfit yet?”
Kevin shrugged, breaking eye contact with the others. “I don’t know if
my father’s going to let me go.”
“He’s gotta! There’s going to be ten thousand dollars in prizes. This is
going to be the best Halloween ever!” Tommy said exuberantly.
“And, you know, nobody does Halloween better than us!” Brian proclaimed
“Alright…alright. I’ll come up with something, I’m sure,” Kevin assured
“What about you, Jacob?” Kevin asked.
Jacob smiled. “It’s a secret.”
“I’ll take care of this,” Carlos said, poking him mercilessly in the side,
causing him to squeal. The bus driver cleared his throat loudly, glaring at
the boys through the rear view mirror.
“Quit it!” Jacob protested, his face turning red enough to mask his pale
freckles. “I’m going as a vampire,” he surrendered begrudgingly.
“God, another sparkly vampire!” Carlos teased.
“No way, dork! A real vampire!” he retorted. Tommy and Brian laughed
Tommy leaned back and peered out the window again. The bus sputtered
to a stop, letting a few children out. He sang under his breath, “Eight
more days to Halloween, Halloween. Eight more days to Halloween, Silver
Shamrock.” Brian’s reflection in the window beamed at him while Carlos
and Kevin simultaneously rolled their eyes.
As the bus rounded a bend adjacent to the swamp that surrounded
much of the town, Tommy caught a glimpse of a boy wearing filthy blue
denim overalls and a wool beret. However, the boy disappeared behind the
veil of swirling white smoke left by the bus’s exhaust. There was something
inherently disquieting about the boy.
The bus ride grew progressively quieter as the bus approached the end
of its daily journey. His eyes widened when he saw the same boy from earlier
emerging from behind a row of wild hawthorn bushes. This time he
made direct eye contact with the mysterious boy. A wicked smile danced
across the child’s otherwise emotionless face, causing Tommy’s body to
shudder involuntarily. There was something terrible in the child’s visage,
forcing him to look away from those hollow, soulless eyes that invaded his
consciousness. Tommy looked up to see the bus driver staring intently at him through the rear view mirror. The rest of the group had fallen into
their own little worlds, lulled into virtual slumber by the constant droning
of the engine and swaying of the bus. He sank down in his seat, trying to
avoid the bus driver’s penetrating stare. He glanced over at Brian, who was
playing with his phone.
Tommy felt some relief when the final stop was reached and it was time
to offload. Carlos, Jacob and Brian were already halfway down the aisle
before the bus reached a stop, leaving Kevin and Tommy as the last passengers
to disembark. As Tommy descended the stairs, the bus driver reached
out and grabbed his hand. “You’ve seen them, haven’t you?” he asked.
A startled Tommy gave the bus driver a bewildered stare as he struggled
to withdraw his hand from the man’s tight grasp. “Seen who? What are
you talking about?” he asked, growing fearful of the man’s narrowing eyes.
“The children of the Great Unseen have revealed themselves to you,
and now it’s your turn to hear HIS call,” the man whispered in a raspy
voice. He tried to back away as the man’s eyes darkened, much like the boy
he had seen earlier.
“You’re hurting me!” an increasingly flustered Tommy stammered, trying
to pull away from the man’s grip.
Like a passing summer storm, the man’s face brightened, and he released
Tommy’s wrist. “Well, what are you waiting for, boy? It’s Friday night. You
got the whole weekend ahead of you. Now git!” He smiled warmly at the astounded
boy. Tommy stepped off the bus, confronted by Kevin and Brian.
“What the hell happened?” Kevin demanded.
Tommy could do little but shrug his slender shoulders. “I don’t know.
He was mad about something; it didn’t make any sense. Whatever it was,
he got over it quickly.”
Kevin watched with concern as the bus disappeared down the road, before
turning his attention to the dilapidated two-story greyish white house
in front of him. “Well, I can’t stall any longer,” he said with a sigh.
“What are you doing guys doing tonight?” Tommy asked.
Kevin shifted his weight. “I think I better stay in and work on
Brian said, “I promised Mom I’d clean up around the house tonight,
but I’ll have the rest of the weekend free after my homework is done.”
Tommy looked a little dejected, but at least this afforded him some time to
check out his Halloween costume.
“We’ll see you tomorrow morning, right?” Tommy asked Kevin
Kevin forced a smile and gave him a playful push. “Yeah, Bro, I’ll see
you guys tomorrow. We’ll go into town or something.” Tommy and Brian
said their good-byes and the boys parted company for the day.
Tommy’s house was a little larger than Kevin’s, painted a similar
weather-beaten white although clearly more care and maintenance has been
put into his house than Kevin’s. He bounded through the front door, his
eyes scanning the entranceway and hallway for any signs of his package. He
poked his head into the kitchen, spying the nondescript brown box sitting
on the table between his mother and father.
He made a beeline for the package before his mom intercepted him.
“Not even an acknowledgment of us being in the room?” she mockingly
admonished him, wiping the curly locks of blonde hair from his face.
“Stop, Mom! Hi, Dad!” he blurted out as he reached for the box.
“So, remind me why you needed to spend six months of your allowance
for this?” his father asked while Tommy tore open the package
“It’s a surprise for…” Tommy cut himself short. “I mean, I’m just
looking forward to Halloween.” The boy delved into the contents of the
package, procuring large sheets of fine brown fur wrapped in translucent
“Is there something you’d like to talk to us about?” his father asked
softly, casting a glance at his wife.
“You know, you can talk to us about anything,” Tommy’s mom said
Tommy pulled out the lower jaw of the werewolf costume, running his
fingers along the jagged teeth as he looked up at his parents with confusion.
“What are you talking about?”
“Well, we thought maybe you’d like to talk about someone,” Tommy’s
Tommy thought for a moment, unsure where his parents were going
with this line of questioning, though admittedly he felt embarrassed as a
sloppy grin crossed his face imagining Brian’s reaction when he sees the
costume. Before he could assemble the pieces in his mind, he blurted out
“Kevin? What about him?” his mother asked, casting a confused gaze
over at her husband on this unexpected subject.
“I think his dad beat him up last night. He was wearing makeup to
cover up a black eye, but he didn’t have it yesterday,” Tommy said, looking out the kitchen window toward Kevin’s house. “I’m worried about him,”
“That’s a serious accusation, Tommy. Has Kevin given you any indication
of this?” his father asked, looking troubled.
Tommy shook his head. “No, but he acts afraid to go home. Every day
on the bus you can see him start shaking the closer we get.”
“That’s a worrying sign, Tommy, but we need to know the whole story.
Kevin is lucky to have you as a friend. I think the best thing you can do
right now is be there for him, and let him know that when he’s ready to talk,
you’ll listen,” his father instructed.
“Is there anything else, anything Kevin’s said that would make you feel
there’s trouble with his father?” his mother interjected.
Tommy thought for a moment. “Kevin’s mentioned his dad drinks a
lot. I think that’s when he gets in trouble.”
His mother rolled her eyes and shook her head. “Isn’t it always?” she
whispered to no one in particular. “Your father is right, Tommy. Let know
Kevin that you’re there for him. There is a counselor at your school trained
for this kind of thing, so Kevin has options if he’s in trouble.”
“Couldn’t you talk to his dad, make him stop?” he asked his father.
Tommy’s father leaned back in his chair and sighed. “It’s not that easy,
kiddo. Nobody likes to be told how to raise their child, and I’m afraid if we
stick our noses into his business, he might take it out on Kevin. It would be
best if the school became involved in this.”
Disappointed, Tommy knew this was a problem that couldn’t easily be
solved. He pulled out the remaining mass of soft brown fur and the upper jaw of his werewolf costume. “Some assembly required,” he moaned, pulling
out a plastic bag full of plastic claws.
“I hope you’re not expecting me to do all the work,” Tommy’s mother
“Uh, no, of course not, Mom!” he replied, his bright, blue pleading eyes
belying his underlying intent.
“Well, if you like I can take the measurements and help you get started
this weekend,” his mom offered diplomatically.
His face brightened. “Thanks, Mom, that’d be awesome!”
“Alright, go get started on your homework. Dinner will be ready in
about an hour,” she concluded, sending the Tommy and his costume out
of the kitchen.
His father shook his head and laughed. “I have a feeling this is going to
be an unforgettable Halloween.”
Tommy bounded into his room, and spread all the individual components
of the werewolf costume across his bed. The macabre mass of soft
fur, jaws and claws melded naturally with the horror movie posters hanging
on the far wall, above the shelves filled with rows of horror movie
DVDs and a couple dozen similarly themed novels. He plopped himself
down in his wooden desk chair and rummaged through his backpack for
his homework assignments.
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As the Hispanic American population of the U.S. increases, with influences ranging from Mexico to Central America and the Caribbean, so does interest in literature inspired by those cultures.
Award-winning author Mayra Calvani has now edited a collection of interviews with 40 Latina authors living in the U.S. and writing in English. Latina Authors and Their Muses is an inspirational and informative book focusing on the craft of writing and the business of publishing, one that provides aspiring writers with the nuts and bolts of the business.
Official paperback release date: December 15, 2015
About the Editor
Award-winning author Mayra Calvani has penned more than ten books for children and adults in genres ranging from picture books to nonfiction to paranormal fantasy novels. She’s had over 300 articles, short stories, interviews and reviews published in magazines such as The Writer, Writer’s Journal and Bloomsbury Review, among others. A native of San Juan, Puerto Rico, she now resides in Brussels, Belgium
to travel more than seven thousand miles, and now he was going to have to kill
hotel at the American Naval base in Bahrain.
Sergeant Connor Button wanted was to find a bed and crash for a few hours.
some idiot striking out with a hot blonde and not taking it well.
tried to bring her closer. “Aw, come on, sweetheart.”
across the short distance. “No.”
dude, time to retreat. Only, the guy didn’t. He grabbed her by the back of
the neck, hard enough to make her gasp in pain, and leaned down, his mouth
aimed for hers.
didn’t get that hint either, just grabbed her hand and twisted it behind her
for a second. One second, so he could throttle back the instinct to beat the
stupid fuck to death.
His jaw flexed. He wouldn’t kill the asshole, but he could hurt him real bad.
and stomped toward the woman and the moron whose arm he was about to break.
attention. He glanced up, saw Con coming and his eyes went wide. He let go of
the woman so fast she wobbled off balance and fell to the floor. Con stopped to
help her while the moron ran like a track star down the hall and around a
to the woman. “Are you okay?”
at him with eyes that didn’t miss a thing. She scooted away, leaving his hand
hanging in the air, then stood. Her shoulders went back and her chin rose.
interested in another man getting all up in her business. He’d make sure she
was all right, then he’d back off.
framed by white-blond hair hanging in a sheet down to the middle of her back.
She was also stacked, though she wasn’t showing it off. She was following
military clothing requirements, wearing long pants and a collared shirt one
size too big, buttoned up to her neck. An asshole had just tried to sexually
assault her, but Con would bet a year’s pay that had he not come along, the
moron would have had his hands full with a pissed-off female trying to smash
his balls into paste.
angry line, but her hands were shaking.
something other than anger or despair slammed into him.
on adrenaline and looking for a target.
his mouth to make some inane comment or other to show her he was no threat, but
she raised a hand to stop him.
you.” And then she was gone, inside the room closest to her. The click of the
lock being engaged echoed down the hall.
wasn’t sure she was okay, but those shaking hands and that locked door sent a
pretty clear signal that she didn’t want another man anywhere near her.
checked his room number again and discovered he was next door to the blonde.
if Moron came back.
any noise that might indicate a problem in the room next door, but it had been
church-quiet. He got up at 0700 base time, then went in search of his new
commanding officer, Colonel Maximillian. The man had an interesting reputation,
but he trusted what his buddy, Jacob “Sharp” Foster, a former Special Forces
soldier, had to say about him. Everyone else said the colonel was one bullet
shy of a magazine. Sharp had warned him that the colonel wasn’t exactly regular
army, but he gave a shit about his people, and that was number one for Con. If
your CO had your six, at least you didn’t have to take your attention off what
was coming at you.
didn’t exist on the base, according to official records. Officially, the lab
that did exist on paper was rated for level two containment. Good enough to run
the sort of tests any big city hospital conducted. In reality, the lab was
capable of level four containment testing. The stuff you needed to wear a
bio-suit for and breathe your own oxygen supply.
internal checkpoints to gain entry to the nondescript building that was his
destination. Colonel Maximillian’s office was the first one inside the prefab
rectangle that housed the lab and offices. A soldier who didn’t look a day over
sixteen sat typing on a computer facing the entrance to the building.
uniform, then he stood and saluted. “Private Eugene Walsh.”
expecting you.” Walsh extended his hand in the direction of the first office.
“Go right in.”
into the office.
salt-and-pepper-haired man, who stood and saluted back. “Sir, Sergeant Button
reporting for duty.”
came around his desk and offered his hand.
released a hand that hadn’t tested him beyond what would be considered polite.
gesturing at one of the chairs facing his desk. “I’d like to go over your
assignment and answer any questions you might have.”
adopted a neutral body posture, back straight and hands resting lightly on his
thighs. It was harder than it should have been.
Middle East he’d been deployed with his unit, attempting to ascertain the
military strength of two groups of extremists in Northern Iraq and Syria. Both
groups had threatened multiple American and allied targets, as well as calling
for sympathetic citizens to carry out terrorist acts inside their own
Middle East, he’d been the only survivor of an IED that took out their vehicle.
Fortune had smiled on him that day. He’d been thrown clear.
hadn’t been so lucky.
stare at him and seemed content to not say anything for several moments.
man who’d waited days for just the right moment to take a shot at his target.
much do you know about your mission here?”
“Sharp said you were smart. Are you, Sergeant Button?”
definition of smart.”
able to see unusual relationships between people and information.”
Holmes. He’s a fictional character.”
face. “How would you describe yourself?”
lowered over his eyes. “Were you aware General Stone had some reluctance in
assigning you to this mission?”
had he had recently? Five, six? “Sir, I received injuries in an attack that
killed all the men in the armored vehicle with me. I’d be surprised if he
wasn’t hesitant.” No officer wanted to have a suicidal or homicidal soldier on
a mission. Survivor’s guilt could lead to either one. Or both.
was in a man’s head. What was in his head was not pretty, and not to be shared.
country. My service isn’t done.”
side. “That is one of the best non-answers I’ve ever heard.”
it. Con leaned forward and said in a less civilized tone, “I got thrown off
the horse. I need to get back on and finish my ride.”
thought can’t be in my head.”
inquisitiveness for a moment, replaced by a surprising level of comprehension.
A second later it was gone and he was flipping through pages on his desk.
“You’ve had some problems with your temper since you returned to duty.”
easy. Acting on it was even easier.
couple more seconds, then nodded briskly. “My Biological Response Team is
tracking a very dangerous man who’s created his own extremely deadly strain of
anthrax. We managed to prevent an attack on a base in Afghanistan, but not
before nearly one hundred people died of the infection. We think he’s not done.
We think he’ll continue to strike at high-quality American or allied targets,
and we don’t know where he is or where he will attack next.”
homicidal nutcase wasn’t the sort of duty he’d taken on before, but it sounded
successful in preventing the last attack because we had one of our infectious
disease specialists embedded with an A-team training members of the Afghan
military. General Stone agrees with me—until this man is found, we need more
cooperation between my team and army Special Forces. I asked for specific men
to work with my people. Men who are not only well trained and smart, but also
creative and who can take a step back and support his teammate or take charge
of a situation if that’s what’s needed. Jacob Foster says you’re that kind of
man. Are you?”
enemy, with a face and a name, rather than a faceless one who could be anybody.
The need to kill, to avenge his dead, was a relentless voice in the back of his
head. This mission could get him the opportunity to give himself that, and
maybe a measure of peace.
to come on too strong. If he lost this chance, he might not get another. “I’m a
team player. That means I’ll play whatever role is needed by the team.”
mind working with a woman?”
possibility I’d be paired with a woman.” Man, woman, two-headed alien, he
didn’t care as long as they shared a common enemy.
the hell? While he might smack down a fellow Special Forces soldier, he’d never lay a hand on a woman.
children with four older sisters. Working with or for a woman is nothing new to
don’t mean to sound paranoid, but the doctor you’re going to be working with is
the wrong description. She doesn’t trust…people. I’ve been trying to find a
suitable partner for her, but I’ve been unsuccessful.”
young woman who looks as if she’d have trouble with breaking a nail. Coddle her
in any way and she’ll find a way to make you miserable.”
cold. “So why me?”
challenging combat situations and I think that will give you a level of
experience she’ll respect.”
of his voice. “I’m not going to sit around the campfire telling her war stories.”
What he’d seen wouldn’t instill confidence in anyone.
best with people who are highly competent, who don’t brag or try to impress.”
on his ability to keep his trap shut.
young, she’s a genius and she has absolutely no idea how to talk to anyone who
isn’t a scientist or doctor.”
people. “Genius, as in graduated from medical school really young?”
youngest physician in the USA to have a double speciality in virology and
could work with that. “So, work is her life, and before that, it was school?”
married to a physicist. He speaks math, and we get along just fine.”
“You speak math?”
has something to say about properly grilling a steak.”
Time to meet her.” He stepped out of his office and led the way down a hall.
“Oh, and call me Max. It’s shorter.”
a key and preceded Con inside.
office and part lab, with a couple of desks and two tall microscopes set up on
the end of each. Papers and boxes of slides littered both surfaces. Only one of
the desks was occupied.
lens of one of the microscopes. Her hair was white-blond and pulled back into a
severe bun. She wore an army uniform with a lab coat over top. When she saw
Max, she pushed away from the scope, stood and moved to meet them.
her hair pulled back, she could have passed for even younger than twenty-four.
gorgeous. He took that thought, hog-tied it and shoved it into a dark
corner. His personal mission left no room for anything beyond a professional
someone’s head off.
new partner, Communications Sergeant Connor Button.” He turned to Con. “Connor,
this is Captain Sophia Perry.” Her mouth, pressed into a thin line, convinced
him to pretend last night hadn’t happened. He nodded at her respectfully. “Good
to meet you, ma’am.”
arms over her chest and displaying a huge bruise on her right hand.
me, Max? A fossil?”
he’d let her win this bout. Con managed to keep a straight face and said in a
hesitant voice, “I’m only twenty-nine.”
with someone who follows all the
rules and regulations?” Max asked her, irritation showing in his rigid posture.
“This guy—” he pointed a thumb at Con “—hates inside-the-box thinking as much
as you do.”
full in the face. A challenge. Why was she so pissed off? Because she didn’t
think she needed a babysitter?
chuckle. If he laughed now, she’d think he was laughing at her. “I don’t like
boxes. They’re never big enough, and they’re too…square.”
her gaze. “What did you do to draw this duty? It had to have been bad.”
didn’t want to escalate things, so he spoke first, and went with the
unvarnished truth. “I got blown up. I spent almost seven months in hospitals
and physical therapy. The last three or four months I’ve been instructing and getting
back into shape.” He smiled at her. “When I found out what my first mission was
going to be, bodyguarding some army doctor, I thought what the fuck? I sure as shit didn’t want easy duty. But having talked with Max here, I’ve changed my mind.”
He shifted his gaze to Max’s face. “This isn’t easy duty, is it, sir?”
weapon attack somewhere in this part of the world, it’s when.”
Dr. Perry, is it?”
forth between Con and Sophia. “We have intel that points to the Biological
Response Team as a specific target. I don’t want you to just protect Sophia, I
need you two to be a team. All of us are being paired with Special Forces
soldiers, even myself.”
idea of it made the back of his neck itch.
Beret were nearly killed in a trap I believe was set for them. We have an enemy
who is intelligent, ruthless and fearless.”
this guy?” Con asked.
for you in an hour or two.” Max turned to him. “Have you been assigned
room next to Sophia’s.”
mouth to say something unpleasant—he was sure from the way she’d screwed up her
nose—which is why Con spoke first again. “Are you sure that’s necessary?” He
looked down, like he was thinking hard. “Do you want to advertise to the whole
base that I’m her bodyguard, or would you like to keep it below the radar?”
side are you on?”
impatient edge to his voice. “I’ll check to see where you’re housed now. If
it’s not too far, you can stay where you are.” Max pressed his lips together,
glared at them both, then stomped off.
went back to her microscope. “Nice attempt to come to my rescue. Again. But I
don’t need anyone to rescue me.”
the moron. To prevent fear and anger from getting too deep a hold on her brain.
happened, the human mind had a way of warping events so the memory of them
seemed to take a thousand times longer than the reality had.
for how three seconds of hell could totally screw up the rest of a man’s life.
her mental state, when he’d done his level best to keep the shrinks out of his.
Right now, he just had to convince her he was on her side. He wanted this assignment. “I know.”
into something sharp and heavy. “You just met me. How would you know that?”
expression on her face was a mixture of anger, fear and disgust. A second
later, it was gone, smoothed away as if it had never been there.
What was that?
“Babysitting me is going to be a complete bore for a soldier’s soldier like
you. I’ll tell Max to find someone else.”
Discuss this book in our PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads by clicking here: https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/17506509-lethal-game-by-julie-rowe
Julie Rowe’s first career as a medical lab technologist in Canada took her to the North West Territories and northern Alberta, where she still resides. She loves to include medical details in her romance novels, but admits she’ll never be able to write about all her medical experiences because, “No one would believe them!”.
In addition to writing contemporary and historical medical romance, and fun romantic suspense for Entangled Publishing and Carina Press, Julie has short stories in Fool’s Gold, the Mammoth Book of ER Romance, Timeless Keepsakes and Timeless Escapes anthologies. Her book SAVING THE RIFLEMAN (book #1 WAR GIRLS) won the novella category of the 2013 Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence. AIDING THE ENEMY (book #3 WAR GIRLS) won the novella category of the 2014 Colorado Romance Writer’s Award of Excellence. Her writing has also appeared in several magazines such as Romantic Times Magazine, Today’s Parent, and Canadian Living.
Finley Martin was born in Binghamton, New York and grew up in Scranton, Pennsylvania. He received a B.A. degree in English at the University of Scranton, and during the 1960’s he served as an officer with the United States Marine Corps at posts in America, the Caribbean, and Asia.
After he returned to civilian life, he worked as a free-lance writer, p.r. consultant, and photographer and became public relations director at International Correspondence Schools. In the 70’s he received an M.A. from the University of Ottawa and a B.Ed. from the University of Prince Edward Island. For many years he taught English literature at high school and writing courses at university. He has also worked as a truck driver, labourer, carpenter, boat builder, and deckhand aboard commercial fishing vessels and passenger ferries.
During his writing career he published numerous magazine and newspaper articles, poetry, and short stories in Canada and the U.S. He produced a mini-series for CBC Radio and has given numerous poetry readings.
He authored three books: New Maritime Writing, Square Deal Pub., Charlottetown, PE; A View from the Bridge, Montague, PE; and The Reluctant Detective, The Acorn Press, Charlottetown, PE.
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guitar amp, annihilating the harmonious blend of drums, bass guitar and
electric piano. Jack winced as he fumbled for the volume knob on his guitar,
pretending he didn’t see Tommy, the lead singer, shoot him a furious glare.
Head down, Jack concentrated on the next few chord progressions, until Tommy
launched into his signature vocal screaming. Then Jack stole a glance to his
left and caught the eye of his best friend, Wes, who skillfully delivered the
pulse of the track on his bass guitar. Wes lifted his eyebrows and Jack
answered with a slight shrug and an apologetic frown.
this opportunity for himself, but Wes had talked the band into giving Jack a
chance this summer when they’d lost their lead guitarist to college. Jack
didn’t want to embarrass Wes, or give Tommy a reason to give his friend a hard
time. The singer hadn’t wanted Wes in the band either, but when the other
members heard Wes play and realized he was a wizard on the bass guitar, Tommy
had been out-voted. It had taken two years for Wes to earn the lead singer’s
grudging respect and Jack hated to mess that up.
ducked out of his guitar strap, leaning the instrument against the cinderblock wall
of Fletch’s—the drummer’s—basement. He ran both hands through his thick curls,
for the first time thankful that his mom had insisted he get a haircut before
school started. Shoulder-length for most of the summer, his dark brown mane was
now tamed to a mass of loose curls that ended at the base of his jaw—not as
rock and roll, but certainly cooler.
Tommy. “What’s up with the feedback, Ironwood? We’ve got a gig in two
his head. He noticed John, the keyboardist, give him and Tommy a wide berth as
he beat a hasty retreat. “Just having an off day. I’m low on sleep.”
together by Monday. A lot of people come out to the park on Labor Day, and we
don’t need you making the rest of us look like amateurs.” He spun on his
heel and stomped up the steps before Jack could reply.
“You’ve been playing good all summer. Just don’t choke when you get on
stage.” He laughed, but his eyes were serious.
plastic bottle and cracked the lid open. “I’ll be fine. I promise.”
He took a long drink, letting the slightly salty, citrusy liquid soothe his dry
tongue and throat before bending to put his guitar into its case.
metal sounded from the base of the stairwell. “Ready?”
a bundle of keys into the air and then catching them. “Yep.” He
noticed that Wes had decided to leave his guitar at Fletch’s. They were going
to rehearse again tomorrow, but Jack felt like he ought to go home and get in
some extra practice. He followed his friend out to the minivan, which smelled
like the burgers and fries they’d eaten on the way to rehearsal, and loaded his
gear into the back.
passenger seat and closed the door, Wes spoke up. “Dude.” He drew out
the solitary word and added a sigh, conveying both disappointment and sympathy.
quickly. “I’m not a hundred percent today. Yesterday was my end-of-summer
Kate Dolan began her writing career as a legal editor and then newspaper columnist before she decided she was finally ready to tackle fiction. As the author of more than a dozen novels and novellas, she writes historical fiction and romance under her own name and contemporary mysteries and children’s books under the name K.D. Hays. When not writing, she enjoys volunteering as a living history interpreter and riding roller coasters with her daughter.
Her latest book is the cozy mystery, Roped In.
For More Information
- Visit Kate Dolan’s website.
- Connect with Kate on Facebook and Twitter.
- Find out more about Kate at Goodreads.
- Contact Kate.
About the Book:
Life has settled into a more stable pattern for fledgling investigator Karen Maxwell of DS Investigations, but that stability is precarious. At work, she has an uneasy truce with Rodney, the “office maximizer” hired by her brother to do some of the administrative work she used to do. Her brother has not assigned her any real cases and she thinks it’s because he doesn’t trust her after she was fired from her last major assignment.
But she soon gets her chance. The firm’s insurance agent calls in a favor and asks them to investigate whether a valuable parrot was killed as a result of snowfall damage to a house. Karen is pretty sure Dave will assign this to her, since the investigation will involve no money or prestige. But it may help earn back his confidence.
Then Gina Callaghan hires DS Investigations to find out who sabotaged her daughter Hayley’s rope at a jump rope competition. Hayley competes in power jumping events, and she failed to make the top four in the regional tournament. If Karen can prove that one of those top four jumpers behaved unethically, then Hayley, (who was fifth) will have a spot at the national competition, and a chance to go to the World tournament. Dave assigns Karen the lead role in this case, so now she has a chance to prove to her brother that she can conclude an investigation before the client is ready to pull the plug.
Karen bribes her son to take a jump rope class on the day when the jumpers she needs to watch have their practices. Initially, Hayley Callaghan does not want the matter investigated so Karen has to be a subtle as possible. Meanwhile, in the parrot case, Karen’s investigation seems to indicate that the parrot’s owners are telling the truth and not trying to defraud the insurance company. But the picture they offer as proof somehow arouses Karen’s suspicion.
At jump rope practice, she finds a lot of masked hostility and a host of possible suspects, but no one who saw anything. Then Hayley’s sister steps forward and admits that she saw someone rummaging through her sister’s rope bag. Circumstances point to two possible suspects, in addition to the sister herself. But Karen can find no proof of wrongdoing and thinks the break was most likely an accident. Then Hayley changes her position and urges Karen to follow through with her initial suspicions. She immediately wonders why.
But she doesn’t have time to wonder. Her brother insists that she stop working on the insurance case and her client insists that she write up suspicions against one of the other jumpers so they can file a complaint with the national sanctioning commission. Working against the clock, Karen finds proof that the picture is fake, proving that the insurance clients were trying to defraud the agency. But time runs out on the jump rope investigation—once again the dissatisfied client fires Karen before she solves the case. This time, she knows an innocent girl is going to face blame and could be banned from the sport she loves. So she digs on until she uncovers the truth —and possible destroys a family in the process.
For More Information
Q: Welcome to Beyond the Books, Kate. Can we start out by telling us whether you are published for the first time or are you multi-published?
Roped In is my tenth full-length novel, so I guess that makes me “multi-published,” but I still feel like a beginner in many ways.
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?-
By the time I was ready to submit my work, most mainstream publishers were not taking unsolicited submissions directly from authors, so I tried to get an agent. I failed. In the process, though, I did submit my first novel, Langley’s Choice, to a mid-sized publisher who requested the full manuscript. I floated on Cloud Nine for about a week. Then I started to sink and as weeks dragged into months, I was hanging on tenterhooks (is there a cliché I haven’t used yet? Don’t worry, I’ll get to it by the end of this interview.) When the rejection came, it was almost a relief. Almost. Well, not really at all. But at that point I established a goal to always have at least two pieces “out”—either entered in a contest or submitted to an agent or publisher. That way, if I got a rejection or poor score, I still had hope that the second one would come through.
After that crushing rejection, I started looking online for small press publishers and eventually found an editor who liked my voice and offered me a contract. So I was back on Cloud Nine.
Q: How long did it take you to get published once you signed the contract?
It was almost exactly a year and I’d like to say I spent that time profitably marketing and working on my next novel, but I didn’t do enough of either. But I was still learning and it’s a long learning curve that never ends, so maybe I shouldn’t be too hard on myself.
Q: How did it make you feel to become published for the first time and how did you celebrate?
I’m afraid I got a little smug once I was a Published Author. I entered contests and submitted my book for reviews thinking that of course my work would be well received because I was Published. I was Wrong. I wasn’t any better after publication than before. But it took me a few months to realize that. In the meantime, I had two huge book release pirate parties with my friends. One party was at Jerusalem Mill Village, the 18th Century historic site where I used to regularly volunteer as a living history interpreter. So most of the attendees at that party wore 18th Century garb and the atmosphere was just right – it was a blast. But then we had to drive 45 minutes to get home and that wasn’t so much fun. The second party was at my house with family and friends closer to home. The pirate decorations were left over from my son’s birthday party so it wasn’t quite as authentic as pirate parties go, but still quite fun.
Q: What was the first thing you did as for as promotion when you were published for the first time?
I know the first thing I should have done, and that was to set up a website. But believe it or not, it took me at least a year to get a site going. I honestly can’t remember the first thing I actually did. I created bookmarks. And I sent out flyers. Probably the most unique thing I did was to make soap. Since Langley’s Choice has a scene where the heroine learns to make soap, I decided to wrap small pieces of homemade soap in period linen fabric and tie them up with a little note about my book. I gave those out at the Baltimore Book Festival. One lady thought I was handing out peppermint fudge and she ate it. Not surprisingly, she did not come back and buy my book. But some people did.
Q: Since you’ve been published, how have you grown as a writer and now a published author?
I’ve learned that I have a lot to learn and always will. There are always ways to improve my writing, and the best way that I know to do that is to read a variety of authors and think about what I like and don’t like about their work AND to give my writing to people I trust to give me honest feedback about what works and what doesn’t.
Q: What has surprised or amazed you about the publishing industry as a whole?
I am amazed that some publishers will invest money in a book, pay an advance, pay a series of editors and cover designers and the costs of print set up, and still put no effort into marketing the book to help ensure a return on their investment. I am also amazed at some of the truly awful covers that get approved (including at least one of my own).
Q: What is the most rewarding thing about being a published author?
A couple of times I have been able to get into historic sites when they were closed to the public because I begged and said I needed the research for an upcoming project. Of course, if I’d just done my research about the opening days and hours of the sites, I wouldn’t have needed to beg! But it still felt good to get extra access when I was desperate for it.
Q: Any final words for writers who dream of being published one day?
Unlike dreams of winning the lottery or being a movie star, the dream of being a published author is completely under your control and that means it’s within your reach. Technology has made it possible for anyone to turn a manuscript into a published book. But to make it a good dream, you need to put in the work to make your book the best it can be. First, you need to put your butt in the chair, as they say, and commit to finishing your book. And then you need to show it to someone who can help you make it better and then (this is crucial) don’t give up on it! Problems can be fixed. Storylines can be changed, awkward phrasing can be edited. But you can’t revise an empty page. So get your butt in the chair and make that dream a reality.
Thanks so much for having me here today!
It is a pleasure to have him with us today at Beyond the Books!
Thank you so much for this interview, Doug Landry. 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 feel I was fairly portrayed. The author seems to have a very good grasp of what it means to be an anesthesiologist—perhaps because he is one himself.
Do you feel the author did a good job colorizing your personality? If not, how would you like to have been portrayed differently? Yes, the author definitely shows my inner conflict with displaying emotion. He also does a good job showing my marriage in jeopardy as I struggle with my desire for Jenny, the beautiful new SICU nurse. I wish I would have done better dealing with my temptation, but then I guess the story wouldn’t have been as interesting.
What do you believe is your strongest trait? I’m an intelligent, skilled anesthesiologist who cares about his patients. I also care about my wife and three young sons.
Worse trait? Sometimes in medicine, patients have bad outcomes—it’s the nature of the beast. Nowadays, I tend to bury my emotions and detach from my patients, owing to past bad experiences where I’ve been burned by caring too much. Unfortunately, this conflict is spilling over into my personal life and causing problems. I also have a bit of a wandering eye and struggle now and again with this affliction. Nothing serious—until . . .
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!)? Matthew McConaughey or Matt Damon or Tom Cruise
Do you have a love interest in the book? I love my wife, Laura, but we’re going through a bit of a rough patch in our 20-year marriage. We’re fighting more now and did I mention I have a wandering eye. So as luck would have it, after a particularly nasty fight, I run into a new co-worker nurse—Jenny—at the gym and she sure seems to be coming on to me. I am flattered, but confused. And of course she’s gorgeous.
At what point of the book did you start getting nervous about the way it was going to turn out? Right after I meet Jenny, the SICU nurse at the gym. I know she’s trouble for me and I do my best to avoid her at the hospital, but she has other ideas.
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 definitely wouldn’t want to be Mike Carlucci, my best friend and colleague. As much as I have problems, he has real difficulties. I catch him doing drugs in the operating room and I really worry about his future. Should I turn him in? He’s likely to hurt some innocent patient. But, he’s my best friend. Guess what—Laura and I fight about this too.
How do you feel about the ending of the book without giving too much away?
I like it! It’s very exciting and it’ll keep you guessing what’s going to happen and who’s going to survive, right up until the end.
What words of wisdom would you give your author if he decided to write another book with you in it? He needs to focus more on my relationship with my wife Laura and how we can make it better.
Thank you for this interview, Doug Landry. Will we be seeing more of you in the future? Well, I have it on good authority that I’ll be back—this time in a spooky, dark medical thriller called The Edge of Death.
Dr. John Benedict graduated cum laude from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and entered medical school at Penn State University College of Medicine. While there, he also completed an internship, anesthesia residency and a cardiac anesthesia fellowship. He currently works as a physician/anesthesiologist in a busy private practice in Camp Hill, Pennsylvania.
Dr. Benedict has been writing stories since high school, but his creative side was put on hold to pursue a medical education and start a family—he now has a wife and three sons. Finally, after a 15-year pause, his love of writing was rekindled and his first novel, Adrenaline—a gritty medical thriller with a realism borne of actual experience—was born.
Besides creating scary stories, the hallmark of Dr. Benedict’s writing is genuine medical authenticity—something in short supply these days in thriller fiction. He draws on his 25+ years of experience as a board-certified anesthesiologist to infuse his writing with a realism that renders it both vivid and frightening. As one of only a handful of anesthesiologists throughout the country writing fiction, he gives readers a taste of what really goes on in the operating room, the human drama inherent in this high-stress, high stakes environment where lives are continually on the line. Readers will find out what it’s like to hold a patient’s life in their hands, as the author provides an illuminating glimpse into the fascinating, but poorly understood realm of anesthesia.
Author: JOHN BENEDICT
Purchase on Amazon
About the Book: A sensational, skillful and highly suspenseful tale, Adrenaline introduces anesthesiologist protagonist Doug Landry. About Adrenaline: When patients start dying unexpectedly in the O.R. at Mercy Hospital, Doug Landry finds himself the focus of the blame. Is he really incompetent or is there something more sinister going on? As Doug struggles to clear his name and untangle the secrets surrounding these mysterious deaths, it becomes exceedingly clear that someone is serious—dead serious—about keeping the devastating truth from ever seeing the light of day. As he launches a pulse-quickening race against time to prevent more deaths, Doug soon finds that the lives of his patients aren’t the only lives at stake. Seems that someone will stop at nothing to keep Doug from revealing the truth. Could it be that murder is the ultimate rush?
About the Author: Pennsylvania native John Benedict graduated cum laude from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and entered post-graduate training at Penn State University College of Medicine, where he completed medical school, internship, anesthesia residency and a cardiac anesthesia fellowship. Benedict currently works as an anesthesiologist in a busy private practice in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania