Beyond the Books

First Chapter Reveal: THE DESIRE CARD by Lee Matthew Goldberg

 

Title: THE DESIRE CARD
Author: Lee Matthew Goldberg
Publisher: Fahrenheit Press
Pages: TBA
Genre: Crime/Suspense

BOOK BLURB:

Any wish fulfilled for the right price. That’s the promise the Desire Card gives to its elite clients. But if the Card doesn’t feel like they’ve been justly compensated, the “price” will be more menacing than the clients could ever imagine.

Harrison Stockton learns this lesson all too well. Harrison has lived an adult life of privilege and excess: a high-powered job on Wall Street along with a fondness for alcohol and pills, and a family he adores, yet has no time for. All of this comes crashing to a halt when he loses his executive job and discovers he has liver cirrhosis with mere months left to live.

After finding himself far down on the donor list, Harrison takes matters into his own hands. This decision sparks a gritty and gripping quest that takes him to the slums of Mumbai in search of a black market organ and forces him under the Desire Card’s thumb. When his moral descent threatens his wife and children, Harrison must decide whether to save himself at any cost, or do what’s right and put a stop to the Card.

THE DESIRE CARD is a taut international thriller that explores what a man will do to survive when money isn’t always enough to get everything he desires. It’s the first book in a series followed by PREY NO MORE that focuses on other people indebted to this sinister organization, where the actual price is the cost of one’s soul.

PRAISE:

“Careful what you wish for, especially from a nefarious shadow organization, in this gripping start to Lee Matthew Goldberg’s fast-paced, highly compelling, buzz worthy new series. If you love characters morally compromised, richly drawn, and constantly surprising, you’ll love THE DESIRE CARD. I burned through the first book and can’t wait to get my hands on PREY NO MORE to see where this endlessly exciting story takes me next! Loved it!” – Daniel Palmer, critically acclaimed suspense author

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Chapter 1

HARRISON SAT OUTSIDE THE OFFICE OF THE MANAGING DIRECTOR AWAITING HIS FATE. The end of the month meant slash and burn time, but he had successfully avoided the axe for twelve months now. Something told him this wasn’t going to be lucky number thirteen. After almost twenty years of dedication, he swore he wouldn’t beg, wouldn’t give that fucker Thom Bartlett any satisfaction in letting him go. Thom, with his faux British accent even though he lived in the U.S. since he was two, his nose up the CEO’s ass at every chance, his chastising of Harrison’s “extracurricular activities,” even though Thom was just as guilty of similar vices. Harrison stared at this fucker’s door, as if by monitoring he could will it to stay closed and ensure that he’d forever remain a part of Sanford & Co.’s Mergers and Acquisitions team.

A sharp pain in his abdomen caused him to pitch forward. His stomach churned as a flood of bile crept up his throat. Thom’s door now appeared so out of focus that for a second Harrison forgot where he was.

“Bad lunch?” his buddy Whit whispered, from a nearby seat.

Thom’s ancient secretary glanced up at them from her fury of typing and went back to punishing the keys.

Harrison clutched his stomach and let out a stifled belch. The air now smelled like he’d been dining on garbage. His chronic halitosis had only been getting worse. He could barely recall the last time he’d kissed Helene like when they were young with an appetite to devour. At most he received a peck while she held her breath. It’s not like her body hadn’t also changed, and yet he still found her a knockout: whip-smart and sophisticated, alluring whenever she was in deep thought and chewed on the earpiece of her reading glasses. Only once had he participated in a particular “extracurricular activity” outside of their marriage. It was something he instantly regretted—but she had been treating him like a pariah in the bedroom for almost a year, and he found himself in the arms of another. So now he let her give those little digs about his hygiene, one of the small pleasures she seemed to have during the scant few hours a day when he was home.

Whit seemed to inch his chair away from Harrison’s death burp and occupied himself with the new Breitling hanging from his wrist. Here the two were about to be sliced up and gutted and Whit had spent last weekend dropping $10K on a watch. Sure Harrison indulged in more luxuries than most and hated his old Tag enough to go splurging, but unlike Whit, he had two kids in uptown private schools to worry about.

“Drinks at Mobeley’s later tonight?” Whit asked, placing his hand on Harrison’s shoulder. “Whatever the outcome of this summons might be?”

Harrison nodded with tired eyes.

“You’re a VP here, Harry. Higher up on the rung than me. You’ve got a better chance of surviving.”

Whit’s hand still massaged Harrison’s shoulder, but his encouragement was not convincing. He had probably expected a similar consoling reply, except the room was spinning too much for Harrison to care.

“You’re not looking well,” Whit said. Thom’s secretary seemed to glance up from her typing again to nod in agreement. The two of them caught each other’s eye, as if they were conspiring against him. Well, we couldn’t all look like Whit. Just a few years younger but still with a full head of thick black hair only slightly graying at the temples, something that made him appear even more distinguished. Pecs and abs that he never shut up about. A terror on the racquetball courts who slaughtered Harrison every time. The son of a well-known surgeon at N.Y.U Medical with a hot Japanese wife barely out of her twenties whose goal in life was to be at his beck and call. Whit had been made an Associate two years earlier than Harrison and was able to maintain a rapport with the higher ups that Harrison could never manage: calling the CEO Dougie to his face instead of Mr. Sanford and still having a job the next day.

The secretary picked up the phone on her desk while still typing away.

“Certainly, Mr. Bartlett,” she chirped into the receiver, and then turned her disapproving gaze to Harrison. “Mr. Bartlett will see you now, Mr. Stockton.”

Harrison gathered up his briefcase and overcoat. He had to hold onto the seat as he stood, his feet pivoting and almost sending him to the ground.

“Gotta watch those martini lunches,” Whit said, slapping Harrison on the back and pushing him toward his doom.

Harrison put one foot in front of the other slowly, avoiding Thom’s inevitable decision for as long as possible.

Even if he wound up getting let go today, an outsider looking in might assume that his life was still going well: two decades of marriage, healthy kids, and a fantastic New York apartment; but he felt like he’d just been going through the motions for too long. A major chunk had been missing, a spark of excitement, adventure, and meaning. He couldn’t put his finger on what it was, just that he desperately longed for it to exist.

As he put his hand on the doorknob and turned, he tried to think of what would make him happy, something he wanted more than anything that would cause him to shoot out of bed every morning with a smile.

He squeezed his eyes shut, willing this desired vision to appear, but all he saw was darkness.

Who in their right mind didn’t covet Thom Bartlett’s office? High floor with downtown skyline views, fluffy clouds outside of the windows, a wet bar that Harrison eyed. Some good Scotch had already been opened. Harrison had forced himself to keep sober during a gobbled lunch of an Italian sub without his trusty flask to chase it down. Now his hands trembled at the thought of that Scotch burning his throat.

“Can I offer you something?” Thom asked, indicating the bar with a grand sweep of his arm, as if to say, yes, I have a bar in my office, which you, dear sir, never had here and regrettably never will.

“I might as well,” Harrison coughed, scooting over and pouring two shots worth into a glass. He sat across from Thom and put the comforting drink to his lips.

Thom fiddled with a stack of papers in a folder on his desk. He looked up at Harrison through the thick frames he kept low on his sloping nose, almost touching his top lip.

“So Sanford & Co. has become swollen lately. We’re too big for our own good right now and need to restructure–”

“Just spit it out,” Harrison said, knocking back half the glass of Scotch.

“I’m sorry, Harrison. We’re going to have to let you go, effective today.”

Thom delivered this news while fixing his Windsor knot, which Harrison figured had taken him numerous tries that morning to perfect. Harrison wanted to grab him by that knot and choke his tiny little bird head until it popped off.

“I’ve given practically twenty years to this firm,” he said, running his hands through his thinning hair. “I sleep here, I eat here. I barely exist at home anymore.”

“It’s the same for all of us, mate.”

“I’m not your fucking mate,” Harrison said, finishing the rest of the Scotch and starting to sway.

“Old boy, I am not the villain here. Every firm on the Street has been feeling this strain since the economy collapsed. Now we are offering you a solid severance package, which I think is more than generous. I’ll also save you the spectacle of having security escort you out.”

“What was Sanford’s reason?” Harrison asked quietly, not wanting to hear the answer but knowing that he’d be unable to leave without one.

Thom had already started pushing the folder across the desk, shutting Harrison up, getting this over with. His face looked exhausted from delivering executions.

“We’ve heard from some clients,” he said, taking off his glasses and pinching the bridge of his nose.

“Heard what…?”

“Have you looked at yourself in the mirror lately, huh, Harry?” he asked, his voice rising to the level of an uncomfortable squeal. “Your skin, mate…sorry, but you’re looking rather yellow, and your eyes, well there’s this permanent creaminess to them… I’m just using the client’s words–”

“Which client?”

“Which one hasn’t mentioned this is more like it.”

Harrison went to respond but now Thom was on a roll.

“As a VP, this is a face-to-face business. I go for manicures, mate, you think I like it–it’s a requirement. Maybe if you cut back on the drink….”

“I’ve advised some huge mergers here over the years.” Harrison pointed at Thom with his empty glass. “I didn’t realize this was only a pretty boys game.”

“You’ve let some messy pitchbooks slide through recently, as well.”

“Shouldn’t the analysts be blamed for creating them?”

“Don’t think they haven’t been dealt with, too.”

“So maybe I’ve gotten lax with a couple of pitchbooks for smaller clients, but never any of the big ones.”

“When…was the last time you’ve been to a doctor, Harry?”

“Doctors,” Harrison said, brushing them all away with a flick of his wrist. He had always believed that no matter what, doctors tried to find something wrong with you so you’d give them more business. And yeah, his skin had developed a yellowish hue as of late and sometimes his gut felt like it was rotting. Varicose veins had multiplied along his thighs and there were moments when he’d lose balance and have to go and dry heave in an empty stall once no one else was around, but he was a professional drinker just like his dad had been, and that son-of-a-bitch had put back a liter of gin and a pack of smokes a day up until the ripe old age of eighty-eight. Hell, who needed to live longer than that anyway? Life could be brutal, and if some booze, some smokes and some pills provided a relief from the banality of it all, then screw any doctor who’d tell him otherwise.

Thom tapped on the folder to indicate that it was time to wrap this up.

“I have to make sure that you understand what’s in the package,” he said, pushing it closer to Harrison until it practically fell off the desk.

Harrison opened it up and flipped through: six months pay, benefits as well, blah, blah, blah. He closed it shut and went to throw it in his briefcase.

“Tut tut,” Thom said, wagging his finger. “There’s something you missed that Mr. Sanford wanted to make sure you saw.”

Harrison re-opened the folder and spied a card clipped to the first page.

[]

“What the hell is a Desire Card?”

Thom reached over and un-clipped the card.

“You have been a valued employee here. Mr. Sanford wanted to make sure you understood that we’re not parting on bad terms. This is what’s best for everyone.”

Thom handed him the card. Harrison turned it over and over with his stubby fingers.

“It’s like…a phone or something too?”

“Of sorts, just to keep their network as secure and exclusive as possible. We didn’t include this in everyone’s package, so you know. This is an organization that Mr. Sanford has a long history with, very hush-hush obviously, very elite. If you want something…anything…they have the power to make it happen.”

“Can they get me my job back?”

“Cute, Harrison, don’t ever lose that charm.”

Thom reached over to take the empty glass away.

“So tonight, Harry, instead of drowning your sorrows in a bottle, give the Card a try and have them ring you up a girl I guarantee you’ll enjoy. Or whatever else you wish. We promise we’ll give a glowing report to any future job prospects so consider this the start of a paid vacation.”

Thom stuck out his hand to shake, the nails manicured, no rogue cuticles to speak of; but the hand was delicate and unassuming, not someone with the power to hold Harrison’s life in his palm, just a meager messenger. Harrison slipped the Desire Card in his pocket and shook Thom’s hand, squeezing hard as Thom grimaced.

“And see a doctor,” Thom replied, giddy now that this ordeal was over.

“Watch out, you’ll be gutted next,” Harrison said, rising and feeling his legs give out. He collapsed back into the chair as Thom let out a spurt of a laugh.

“You all right there, mate?”

“Piss on England.”

Harrison gave standing up another try. He gripped Thom’s desk for support. Thom looked worried that Harrison might take the whole desk down with him, but Harrison was doing his best to maintain even though it felt like he was viewing Thom through the wrong end of a telescope.

“You can go ahead and send Mr. Carmichael in,” Thom said, fixing his Windsor knot again that had become slightly askew. “Best to Helene and the children.”

Harrison slung his coat over his arm and gripped his briefcase as he headed for the door. After a few steps, his vision became cloudier and he could feel the creamy tears falling from his eyes. They stung his cheeks as he grappled with the doorknob and lurched into the hallway.

In the front office, Whit was leaning over the secretary’s desk; the two engaged in hushed words that stopped once Harrison emerged. Harrison ran his finger from one side of his neck to the other. Whit gave him a solemn nod back, but Harrison couldn’t hold it in any longer and puked up the barely digested Scotch.

“Oh my!” he heard the secretary say.

He stared at his sickness bubbling on the floor, a mix of half-chewed capicola and salami in an amber soup with specks of dark red blood throughout, the clots of blood so dark they looked like tar. He wiped his mouth and trudged past all the onlookers toward the elevators outside, glad that a part of him would remain embedded in Sanford & Co.’s carpet.

As the elevator arrived and he stepped inside, he wished for the undoing of everyone involved in his termination, knowing that only their collective downfall could get him to shoot out of bed with a smile.

 

Lee Matthew Goldberg is the author of SLOW DOWN and THE MENTOR (St. Martin’s Press), which was acquired by Macmillan Entertainment with the film in development. He has been published in multiple languages and nominated for the 2018 Prix du Polar. The first two books in a thriller series, THE DESIRE CARD and PREY NO MORE, are forthcoming from Fahrenheit Press in winter 2019. His pilots and screenplays have been finalists in Script Pipeline, Stage 32, We Screenplay, the New York Screenplay, Screencraft, and the Hollywood Screenplay contests. After graduating with an MFA from the New School, his writing has also appeared in the anthology DIRTY BOULEVARD, The Millions, The Montreal Review, The Adirondack Review, Essays & Fictions, The New Plains Review, and others. He is the co-curator of The Guerrilla Lit Reading Series (guerrillalit.wordpress.com). He lives in New York City. Follow him at www.leematthewgoldberg.com and @LeeMatthewG.

 

 

Character Interview: Dr. Jane Beekman from Dwaine Rieves’ literary novel ‘Shirtless Men Drink Free’

character interviewWe’re thrilled to have here today Jane Beekman from Dwaine Rieves’ new literary fiction work titled, Shirtless Men Drink Free.  Jane is a 49-year-old pathologist and business entrepreneur living in Atlanta, Georgia.

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

Thank you so for this interview, Jane.  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?

It hurts to admit it, but yes—I think the novel’s portrayal of my role (including my failures) in this tough election year is accurate.  I like to think I’m a good doctor, but I do confess to weaknesses when it comes to what some people might call superstition.  But, tell me, who doesn’t have few superstitions—let’s call them

inexplicable beliefs—hiding away deep within him or herself?  I was rattled—my mother had just died, my husband was obsessed with clearing the name of his father—and here I was in the middle of a campaign trying to help my brother-in-law become the next governor.  And, Yes.  I’ll always believe it.  One morning, I saw the soul of my mother. 

Do I believe in ghosts or messages coming to us from some vaporous world?  No.  But the book is correct—I saw my mother’s soul. Only briefly, there—above her dying body.  I’ll never doubt it.  I felt her soul arise in the air, felt it hesitate, felt it come to me alone.  She knew I would believe in the sight, and so she kept fighting until her soul just couldn’t take any more.  My mother was a fighter right up until the end—even after the end.  Get it?  In the air, her soul was fighting, agitated, trying to tell me something.  You can call it crazy, but I know what I felt, what I believe.  I just wish I had known what the others were feeling.  Especially Jackson.  He is, thank goodness, the main character.  I so wanted him to succeed.  Selfish, I guess.  Now, I guess we can all see why.

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

Oh, I have sometimes wondered what it would have been like to be the main player in this story.  But that Jackson!  Such a talker, such a personality, such a hard campaigner.  And that body!  Teaches you all about the sacrifices a politician must make.  But Georgia is a tough old place, full of tough people.  It takes Jackson’s kind to win.  Despite all, I think my mother would have been proud of him.  Maybe she actually is!  There I go again—the soul thing.

What do you believe is your strongest trait?

I’m a worker.  When Jackson’s team asked me to help in his campaign, I only pretended to balk.  I was eager to work the crowds, to put my people-skills to work for the greater good.  God knows, you learn to work people in the business world.  Besides, I’m a pathologist—put me before a voter and I’ll show you where his weak parts are.  After all, medicine is an art, much like politics.  Jackson would agree with that—I’m sure of it.  Shitless Men Drink Free—it’s far more than a bar slogan.  I learned the hard way.  In politics, who doesn’t?

Worse trait?

I was selfish.  I wanted too much to please my mother—her soul—to help it find some peace in Jackson’s victory.  My husband Price was like that also, a fixer.  Only Price wanted to fix the legacy of his father.  Price calls it our Hamlet complex—Remember?  The ghost of the dead father-king telling Hamlet to “Remember me.”  Remembering too much can make you selfish, make the memory itself a king.  But that soul—I saw it.  I felt it.  I did.

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!)?

Oh, Sweetie.  I’ve got Meryl Streep written all over me.  But that’s a cliché, isn’t it?  My selfishness again!  Oh, I’d be pleased with any woman who can put up with all the Georgia election shenanigans.  The harder role would be Jackson’s.  He has to be a doer and a looker—and with the smarts to make a great governor.  Folks in Georgia are not that easy to please. 

Do you have a love interest in the book?

Of course, I do—I’m married to him!  But, as you know, there are a great many kinds of love, like that love you have for your parents.   Sometimes, I think that’s the strongest kind, the most moving.  Love for a parent—you just can’t break free of it.  Ask Jackson.  Remember Hamlet.  Sometimes—at least when it comes to strong-opinion people—I think Georgia’s not all that different from Denmark.

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

I don’t want to give away too much, but when that jaundiced guy showed up at the house, I knew things were going to get a whole lot more complicated.  That’s when I began to pay the penalty for my selfishness.  But I still believe it was worth it.  Her soul—I saw it.  I did. 

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?

Of course, I would like to be Lily—Jackson’s campaign manager.  Lily is smart—probably the wealthiest black woman in Atlanta.  Lily always believed me, believed in me.  Lily, in a way, was a substitute for my mother, the embodiment of my mother. “Poor people,” she kept saying.  “We are such poor people.”  And she was right.  It was her soul speaking.  There I go again.

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

Sweetie, the soul has no ending.  This I learned from my mother.  Or maybe it was Atlanta teaching me this lesson, maybe the campaign.  Maybe it was all that time we spent in Baltimore.  Shirtless Men Drink Free is a lesson I’ll always remember.  Even though I’m a woman; in my soul, I’m a shirtless man drinking free.  Let’s just say things turned out the best for Georgia.  And, considering Jackson, even the nation. 

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

I’d tell him to not worry so much about us folks in Atlanta.  He sure as hell can’t change us.  I’d tell him to rip off his shirt, to drink free when he starts thinking about that next campaign.  Isn’t that the dream for us all?  To be out there, free.  No.  It’s not about winning.  It’s about the soul we have to set free.

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

You’ll be seeing a lot more of my world in a poetry book that hopefully is arriving soon.   We’re not settled on the title yet, but it will have a lot to do with sex, greed and fried pies.   I’m from the South, see. 

RievesImage

Dwaine Rieves was born and raised in Monroe County, Mississippi.  During a career as a research pharmaceutical scientist and critical care physician, he began writing poetry and creative prose.  His poetry has won the Tupelo Press Prize for Poetry and the River Styx International Poetry Prize.  His writing has appeared in The Washington Post, The Baltimore Sun, Virginia Quarterly Review, The Georgia Review and other publications.  He can be reached at http://www.dwainerieves.com. 

ABOUT THE BOOK

In Shirtless Men Drink Free, Doctor Jane Beekman has seen her dying mother’s soul, a vision above the bed—a soul struggling with a decision, some undone task, something in this world too noble to leave.  The question that lingers—why?—prompts a shift in the doctor’s priorities.  In this election year, Jane must do what her mother, an aspiring social activist, would have done. Soon, Jane is embroiled in the world of Georgia politics, working to make sure her dynamic younger brother-in-law Jackson Beekman is selected the next governor, regardless of what the soul of the candidate’s dead father or that of his living brother—Jane’s husband—might want done. 

Indeed, it is a mother’s persistence and a father’s legacy that will ultimately turn one Beekman brother against the other, launching a struggle with moral consequences that may extend far beyond Georgia. Set amidst 2004’s polarizing election fears—immigrants and job take-overs, terrorists in waiting, homosexuals and outsider agendas—Shirtless Men Drink Free makes vivid the human soul’s struggle in a world bedeviled by desire and the fears that leave us all asking—Why? 

Engaging, beautifully written and resplendent with realism, Shirtless Men Drink Free is a standout debut destined to stay with readers long after the final page is turned.  A meticulously crafted tale that showcases an outstanding new voice in Southern fiction, Shirtless Men Drink Free has garnered high advance praise:

“This is brilliant and rare work, as attentive to an absorbing plot as it is to a poetic, chiseled cadence.”—Paul Lisicky, award-winning author of The Narrow Door: A Memoir of Friendship 

“These characters are all too real. Rieves, as Faulkner, McMurtry and Larry Brown, writes people and story that will worm, burrow into you.  Change you even.” Adam Van Winkle, Founder and Editor, Cowboy Jamboree

“Vividly sensuous, this novel is full of textures, sounds and smells.  Rieves tells a terrific story with the sensitivity of a poet.” —Margaret Meyers, author of Swimming in the Congo

Published by Tupelo Press joint venture partner Leapfolio, Shirtless Men Drink Free will be published in trade paper (ISBN: 978-1-946507-04-4, 326 pages, $16.95) and eBook editions.  The novel will be available where fine books are sold, with an arrival on January 22, 2019.

SHIRTLESS MEN DRINK FREE is also available for pre-order on Amazon or at Tupelo Press:

https://www.tupelopress.org/product/shirtless-men-drink-free/

 

Character Interview: RahRah from Debra H. Goldstein’s cozy mystery, ‘One Taste Too Many’

character interviewWe’re thrilled to have here today RahRah from Debra H. Goldstein’s new cozy mystery, One Taste Too Many.  RahRah is a five to seven-year-old Siamese cat living in Wheaton, Alabama.

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

Thank you so for this interview, RahRah. 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?

one taste too manyEven though there were times I came across as a little demanding or bossy, I think I was fairly portrayed in One Taste Too Many. There is one incident I’d like to clarify. My owner, Sarah Blair, thought my behavior occasionally was generated by fear, but the reality is that whenever I realized I might be in danger, I used my intellect to take steps to protect myself. In retrospect, it might have been a good idea for Sarah to often do the same thing.

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

Debra H. Goldstein did a good job showing how strong and independent my personality is. She caught my looks, humor, playfulness and intelligence. Occasionally, she gave the impression I might be a tad stubborn, but believe me, there always is a good reason for whatever I do.

What do you believe is your strongest trait?

My strongest trait is my loyalty to the owners who care about me. When the senior Mrs. Blair, who everyone called Mother Blair, plucked me from the swirling New Orleans’ hurricane waters, we became devoted to each other. After she died and her son, who was divorcing Sarah for Bimbo, refused to let me live with him because of his cat allergy, Sarah adopted me. I sometimes give her a hard time because I’m the head of our household, but we care deeply about each other.

Worse trait?

I don’t have a worse trait. Sometimes people think I’m stubborn, but it simply is because I know what I’m doing and don’t tolerate fools lightly.

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 think Sarah could have been played perfectly by the younger Sandra Bullock from her Miss Congeniality days, but we’d need a star search to find the right actor to portray me. Grumpy Cat is too serious and fat and most of the cats in the food commercials don’t have my style or tan coloring.

Do you have a love interest in the book?

No, I don’t have a love interest. I adore my owner and on her behalf check out any person who might have an interest in her, but at least in One Taste Too Many, the first book of the Sarah Blair cozy mystery series, I’m condemned to be single.

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

Between you and me, I was nervous from page one. When Sarah found out Bill, her ex, was dead, I had a bad feeling. It was only a few pages later when I discovered his bimbo wasn’t content with breaking up their marriage. She wanted me, too.

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?

Because I lead a comfortable life of luxury, the last person I’d want to trade places with is my owner, Sarah Blair. Married at eighteen, she now finds herself starting over and it isn’t easy. Sarah’s twenty-eight, working as a law firm receptionist, and living in a studio apartment with me. The idea of me giving up having no responsibilities, soaking up rays of sunshine whenever I want, and having my food prepared exactly as I like it is not a lifestyle I want to live.

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

I love the ending of the book. I’m in it. What could be wrong with that? I also like the front of the book. In case you didn’t notice, I’m the only character the artist featured on the cover.

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

Subsequent books, like Two Bites Too Many, which comes out in October, will always include me, but may add other animals, too.  Because of that, Debra and I already discussed this topic. Whether you call it words of wisdom or rules of the roost, she understands I always expect to be the front and center animal.  After all, I’m a main character with my own cover to prove it.

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

Definitely. Sarah can’t live without me. I hope you enjoy our One Taste Too Many adventures and look forward to seeing what happens in Two Bites Too Many.

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

debra headshot (1)

Judge Debra H. Goldstein is the author of One Taste Too Many, the first of Kensington’s new Sarah Blair cozy mystery series. She also wrote Should Have Played Poker and 2012 IPPY Award winning Maze in Blue. Her short stories, including Anthony and Agatha nominated “The Night They Burned Ms. Dixie’s Place,” have appeared in numerous periodicals and anthologies including Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, Black Cat Mystery Magazine, and Mystery Weekly. Debra is president of Sisters in Crime’s Guppy Chapter, serves on SinC’s national board, and is president of the Southeast Chapter of Mystery Writers of America. Find out more about Debra at www.DebraHGoldstein.com .

ABOUT THE BOOK

For culinary challenged Sarah Blair, there’s only one thing scarier than cooking from scratch—murder!

Married at eighteen, divorced at twenty‑eight, Sarah Blair reluctantly swaps her luxury lifestyle for a cramped studio apartment and a law firm receptionist job in the tired town she never left. With nothing much to show for the last decade but her feisty Siamese cat, RahRah, and some clumsy domestic skills, she’s the polar opposite of her bubbly twin, Emily—an ambitious chef determined to take her culinary ambitions to the top at a local gourmet restaurant.

Sarah knew starting over would be messy. But things fall apart completely when her ex drops dead, seemingly poisoned by Emily’s award-winning rhubarb crisp. Now, with RahRah wanted by the woman who broke up her marriage and Emily wanted by the police for murder, Sarah needs to figure out the right recipe to crack the case before time runs out. Unfortunately, for a gal whose idea of good china is floral paper plates, catching the real killer and living to tell about it could mean facing a fate worse than death—being in the kitchen!

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Taste-Many-Sarah-Blair-Mystery/dp/1496719476

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/one-taste-too-many-debra-h-goldstein/1128297322

Books-a-Million:  https://www.booksamillion.com/p/One-Taste-Too-Many/Debra-H-Goldstein/9781496719478

IndieBound: https://www.indiebound.org/book/9781496719478

Walmart: https://www.walmart.com/ip/One-Taste-Too-Many/309566204

Hudson Booksellers: https://www.hudsonbooksellers.com/book/9781496719478

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5 Questions with John Ford Clayton, Author of ‘Manipulated’

The Dark Phantom Review

John Ford Clayton lives in Harriman, Tennessee with his wife Kara, and canine companions Lucy, Ginger and Clyde. He has two grown sons, Ben and Eli, and a daughter-in-law, Christina. He earned a BS in Finance from Murray State University and an MBA from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. He is active in his East Tennessee John Ford Clayton Photocommunity having served on the local boards of the Boys and Girls Club and a federal credit union, on church leadership and creative teams, and on a parks and recreation advisory committee. When he’s not writing he works as a project management consultant supporting Federal project teams. John is a huge fan of Disney parks and University of Kentucky basketball. Visit his website at www.johnfordclayton.com.
Find out more about Manipulated.

Q: What’s inside the mind of a political thriller author?

A: In our hyper-polarized 2018 political climate, where any discussion of politics…

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Character Interview: Samuel from ‘Secret Agent Angel’

We’re thrilled to have here today Samuel, an angel, from Ray Sutherland’s new inspirational suspense novel Secret Agent Angel. Samuel is an angel who comes to earth disguised as a human.

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

Thank you so for this interview, Samuel.  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?

front cover finalSince I’m the narrator, I have no complaint. I would like to point out how different it is to be here on the earth instead of in my natural home in Heaven. That’s one of the most interesting and fun parts of coming to earth disguised as a regular human.

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

In narrating the book I tried hard to let my personality show. That’s one element of angels that’s the same on earth and on the other side. So the book shows my personality quite well, I think.

What do you believe is your strongest trait?

Persistence, or dedication, which might be a better label. That’s built into me. Sometimes I have to change plans in the middle of a job  and now and then I even have to admit failure. But perseverance in the work I’m sent to do isn’t a choice I make. It’s a compulsion.

Worse trait?

I’m a junk food junkie. When I’m here on earth, I enjoy taking advantage of the physical process of gaining energy and mass which is to say eating. I have a sweet tooth when I’m in human form and I love all kinds of food.

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 have a very different appearance every time I come over to the earth so there’s no one actor to portray me in all of my jobs. In the stories in Secret Agent Angel, I’m here in the non-descript appearance of everyman so any character actor could do the job quite well. Ben Foster would be a good choice. Or Jakob Oftebro, the Norwegian actor. Possibly one of the Wahlbergs.

Do you have a love interest in the book?

I’m not made for romantic relationships. Our relationships with each other are of a very different sort, so while I have a strong interest in romance, my role is to enjoy watching humans who are in love. Seeing young people fall in love is wonderful.  Old people, too.

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

When I come over in human form, I’m normally limited to human senses and knowledge-mostly. So usually I don’t know how it’s all going to turn out any more than do the people I’m with. As a result, I’m always nervous about the outcome. My being there doesn’t ensure that everything turns out right and sometimes it doesn’t. That makes things more interesting.

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 think that Frankie the young criminal was the saddest part of the story. He had talent, skill, and opportunity, but he wasted it all on criminal pursuits. To have such opportunities and to do nothing with them is very sad.

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

The ending is uplifting and optimistic but with just a small undercurrent of pathos. It’s a mostly happy conclusion-with, of course, enough loose ends for a sequel.

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

If Professor Sutherland does a sequel, I hope he will continue to let me speak in my own voice. Narrating this story was a lot of fun.

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

We angels are always around and working, even when you can’t see us. There are a lot more stories that could be told. I’ll be here, one way or another.

Headshot

Ray Sutherland is a Kentucky native who grew up on a farm outside of Bowling Green. He served in the Army, spent two years in Germany, received his B.A. in religion from Western Kentucky University, and his PhD in the Bible from Vanderbilt University.  Ray has served of Professor of Biblical Studies at the University of North Carolina-Pembroke for over thirty years, pastored a small church for nine years, and is retired from the Army Reserve. He and his wife Regina live in North Carolina. They have two sons and four grandchildren. Visit him at www.raysutherland.com. Find out more about his book on Amazon.

Spotlight and Filling in the Blanks with Linda Lo Scuro, Author of ‘The Sicilian Woman’s Daughter’

Sicilian Woman-US-revised.indd

Genre: Mystery/Women’s Fiction

Author: Linda Lo Scuro

Publisher:   Sparkling Books

https://www.sparklingbooks.com/

Purchase link:

https://www.sparklingbooks.com/the_sicilian_womans_daughter.html

Follow the author:

Twitter /  Facebook

About The Sicilian Woman’s Daughter

When the novel opens, Maria, the novel’s protagonist is living a charmed and comfortable life with her husband, banker Humphrey and children, in London.   The daughter of Sicilian immigrants, Maria turned her back on her origins during her teens to fully embrace the English way of life.

Despite her troubled and humble childhood, Maria, through her intelligence, beauty and sheer determination, triumphantly works her way up to join the upper middle-class of British society.  But when a minor incident awakens feelings of revenge in her, Maria is forced to confront–and examine—her past.

As she delves deeper into her mother’s family history, a murky past unravels—and Maria is swept up in a deadly and dangerous mire of vendetta.  Will Maria’s carefully-constructed, seemingly-idyllic life unravel?  Expect the unexpected in this outstanding new mystery….

The Sicilian Woman’s Daughter is a brilliantly-plotted, exceedingly well-told tale.  Novelist Linda Lo Scuro delivers a confident and captivating tale brimming with tantalizing twists, turns, and surprise, a to-die-for plot, and realistic, multi-dimensional characters.  Thoughtful and thought-provoking, rich and riveting, The Sicilian Woman’s Daughter is destined to stay with readers long after the final page is turned.

Filling in the Blanks with the Author…

The best part of writing is being engrossed in the story.

The most challenging part of writing is finding the time to do it.

My absolute favorite part of the writing process is being engrossed in the story, seeing how the characters develop and what they do.

My absolute least favorite part of the writing process isediting.

I seem to come up with the best writing ideas when ….the ideas come at different times, even when it’s inconvenient so I have to rush off and write them down.

If I ever get “stuck” when I am writing, I get through it bydoing some editing.

Pride and Prejudice is the book that changed my life.

Pride and Prejudice is the book I wish I had written.

Life is better with a book.

Interview with Jamell Crouthers, Author of Code Blue

Police Chief Bulletin #1
My fellow police officers, thank you for
your hard work,
Putting your life in the line of duty
every day.
This will be the first of many bulletins
that I will be sending,
Your supervising officer will be having
meetings about my bulletins.
I want to address an issue that’s been
going on in our community,
There have been too many minorities
driving in our neighborhoods.
I’ve been told by residents that they’re
scared and afraid of them,
I don’t know exactly why as I am not in
the streets everyday.
In order to get control of our community
again we must pull over cars,
Any car that is expensive and they look
out of place, pull them over.
Find a reason to pull these cars over,
whether it’s a tail light,
Or they can be driving too slow, too fast,
failure to signal when changing lanes.
There are certain cars to look for,
especially tinted windows,
Ferraris, Bentleys, Mercedes Benz,
Lamborghinis, you get my drift.
You know the procedure, asking for a
driver’s license and registration,
Make sure that you’re assertive in your
behavior and taking control of situations.
I want officers to be partnered up in the
cars while you’re on duty,
We need to conduct these pullovers between
7pm and 5am daily.
It seems to be that at night these
minorities are driving through our neighborhood,
Even if you recognize cars and know who
these people are, pull them over.
I can’t have our citizens of our community
constantly calling me about this,
So let’s clean this up as soon as possible
and I want it tracked how many you do.
I want three done a week amongst partners
and body cams will show that,
If you have to agitate a driver to
escalate a situation, do it.
Cars swerving means they must be drunk or
high so sniff out the car,
Find a purpose and reason to search the
car without a warrant.
I appreciate your time in reading this
bulletin,
If you have any questions or concerns,
please consult your supervising officer.
Police Chief”
–From Code
Blue
by Jamell Crouthers
Jamell Crouthers is a poet, author, blogger and podcaster who has taken on a journey of writing in the prime of his life. He has been writing poetry since the age of 13 but never thought he could utilize his talent to tell stories and write books. He is not the traditional author as he writes his books in poetry format with a focus on storylines and societal issues.
After publishing 11 books (so far), his goals and plans are to continue writing books on taboo subjects that aren’t discussed enough in today’s world and bringing those main subjects tothe forefront. Jamell’s blogs tackle societal issues, how he writes his books, his journey as an author and some motivational blogs that will get you to focus on your goals. His goal and moniker is, “to change the world, one book at a time.”
Book Description:
The Code Blue: An Oath to the Badge and Gun series chronicles a police officer named Gary who has been on the force for a few years. He soon is entrenched in a lot of lies, corruption, racism and agendas being pushed by his superiors. The question throughout this series is whether he as a good cop becomes part of the corruption or does he report it?
Part of this series features his son Gary, Jr who is a young teenager wanting to be like his father and go into the police force. He soon learns through the news daily that the police force is not what it really is. Gary ends up having to share the truths of what goes on at work and the relationship between him and his son changes because of it. Now it becomes up to Gary what he is going to do about what goes on at work.
Interview:
Welcome, Jamell! Your series, Code Blue, sounds thrilling! Can you tell us why you wrote it?
Jamell: I wrote the Code Blue series because of all that’s been going on in America with police brutality, racism and corruption on the police force. I felt that I needed to write something but it had to be different than the average police book you would read. With all of the news coverage, I wanted to ask the
all-important question, do good cops know who the bad ones are.
Your protagonist, Gary, is put in a sticky situation. Does he become part of the corruption or does he report it? What a situation to be in. Can you tell us more about Gary?
Jamell: I don’t want to give away too much but if it’s a series, you can say he condones the corruption and is involved in it to where he covers up for his partners and lies to his family about what’s going on. Let’s just say it takes
him time to report all of it and his guilty conscience and sanity become a major component to his life. Gary is a compassionate person who wants nothing more than to make the neighborhood he grew up in and his city a better, safer place to live. He’s definitely a family man who has a young son and a wife that he loves dearly and has great parents who raised him to do right by others. The only problem is he’s involved in a lot of things he never thought he would be and it ends up costing him the most important people in his life, his family and friends.
Can you tell us a little about the other main characters?
Jamell: The other main character in this series is Gary, Jr. He is a young teenager who is growing into his own and starting to see the world for what it really is. He’s no longer living in this shell that his father tried to put him in (moving to the suburbs, putting him in a better school, living in a nice home). The series takes a different dynamic where Gary and Gary, Jr talk to each other through letters and it gets to a place where their relationship becomes
tumultuous and it’s due to Gary not being honest with what goes on in the streets every night he goes to work.
They say all books of fiction have at least one pivotal point where the reader just can’t put the book down. What is one of the pivotal points in your book?
Jamell: In Code Blue Part 1, I will say the pivotal moment is when Gary’s partners shoot and kill a man who wasn’t the suspect in a store robbery. They botched the ID because the suspect was wearing a hoodie and so was the man that they killed. Gary’s ride to the police station that night was very long and the question is, will he write up another falsified report of what happened or will he tell the truth.
Over the years, what would you say has improved significantly in your writing?
Jamell: I definitely will say yes my writing has improved and it’s because I’m constantly challenging myself to write story lines that have relevance to what’s currently going on in the world. With me working on various series, and
a plethora of characters, there’s always the challenge of how can I keep a reader engaged in these characters? How can I make the reader feel, emote and understand these characters and where they are coming from. It’s all about
putting the reader in these character’s shoes to make them say, “Hey this character is me, or I know someone who has gone through this.”
Do you proofread and edit your work on your own or pay someone to do it for you?
Jamell: I edit and proofread my work and it’s a tedious and arduous process but eventually, it gets done.
Do you believe a book cover plays an important role in the selling process?
Jamell: Yes it does in some ways, which is why some of my books I’ve paid someone to make them for me and some I’ve been fortunate to make on my own. One of my series I’ve changed the book cover 3 times to make it more appealing.
What did you want to become when you were a kid?
Jamell: I wanted to be a lawyer at first, I was into police shows like New York Undercover, Law and Order: Criminal Intent and SVU (I’ve literally grown up watching Mariska Hargitay) and then I wanted to be a sports broadcaster (I have old YouTube videos of me talking about the NBA).
Do your novels carry a message?
Jamell: My novels definitely do, each book carries a message and I want readers to take the time to think about the world, discuss it with others and try to make the world a better place to live in. A lot of us are fortunate to live
comfortable lives but there are others who need us to be there for them or to understand them and who they are. We spend too much time being judgmental of others and not being compassionate enough.
Is there anything you’d like to tell your readers and fans?
Jamell: There are a lot of books coming in the near future, I do podcasts where I discuss societal issues and in my spare time I’m always listening to music. I love my sports (basketball, football and baseball) and I’m big on family and
keeping my close knit friends around me. My quote with my writing journey is, “Trying to change the world, one book at a time.”
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