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MIRACLE MAN BOOK BLITZ

Miracle Man book blitz banner

We’re happy to be hosting William R. Leibowitz and his Miracle Man Book Blitz today!

About the Book:

Miracle Man 7

Title: Miracle Man
Author: William Leibowitz
Publisher: Manifesto Media Group
Pages: 428
Genre: Cross-genre Thriller
Format: Paper/Kindle

Purchase at AMAZON

REVERED   REVILED    REMARKABLE

The victim of an unspeakable crime, an infant rises to become a new type of superhero.

Unlike any that have come before him, he is not a fanciful creation of animators, he is real.

So begins the saga of Robert James Austin, the greatest genius in human history.  But where did his extraordinary intelligence come from?

As agents of corporate greed vie with rabid anti-Western radicals to destroy him, an obsessive government leader launches a bizarre covert mission to exploit his intellect.  Yet Austin’s greatest fear is not of this world.

Aided by two exceptional women, one of whom will become his unlikely lover, Austin struggles against abandonment and betrayal.  But the forces that oppose him are more powerful than even he can understand.

Book Excerpt:

A tall figure wearing a black-hooded slicker walked quickly through the night carrying a large garbage bag.  His pale face was wet with rain.  He had picked a deserted part of town.  Old warehouse buildings were being gutted so they could be converted into apartments for non-existent buyers.  There were no stores, no restaurants and no people.

“Who’d wanna live in this shit place?”  he muttered to himself.  Even the nice neighborhoods of this dismal city had more “For Sale” signs than you could count.

  He was disgusted with himself and disgusted with her, but they were too young to be burdened.  Life was already hard enough.    He shook his head incredulously.  She had been so damn sexy, funny, full of life.   Why the hell couldn’t she leave well enough alone?    She should have had some control.

He wanted to scream-out down the ugly street, “It’s her fucking fault that I’m in the rain in this crap neighborhood trying to evade the police.”

But he knew he hadn’t tried to slow her down either.   He kept giving her the drugs and she kept getting kinkier and kinkier and more dependent on him and that’s how he liked it.   She was adventurous and creative beyond her years.  Freaky and bizarre.  He had been enthralled, amazed.  The higher she got, the wilder she was.  Nothing was out of bounds.  Everything was in the game.

And so, they went farther and farther out there.  Together.  With the help of the chemicals.  They were co-conspirators, co-sponsors of their mutual dissipation.  How far they had traveled without ever leaving their cruddy little city.  They were so far ahead of all the other kids.

He squinted, and his mind reeled.  He tried to remember in what month of their senior year in high school the drugs became more important to her than he was.  And in what month did her face start looking so tired, her complexion prefacing the ravages to follow, her breath becoming foul as her teeth and gums deteriorated.  And in what month did her need for the drugs outstrip his and her cash resources.

He stopped walking and raised his hooded head to the sky so that the rain would pelt him full-on in the face.  He was hoping that somehow this would make him feel absolved.  It didn’t.  He shuddered as he clutched the shiny black bag, the increasingly cold wet wind blowing hard against him.  He didn’t even want to try to figure out how many guys she had sex with for the drugs.

The puddle-ridden deserted street had three large dumpsters on it.   One was almost empty.  It seemed huge and metallic and didn’t appeal to him. The second was two-thirds full.  He peered into it, but was repulsed by the odor, and he was pretty sure he saw the quick moving figures of rodents foraging in the mess. The third was piled above the brim with construction debris.

Holding the plastic bag, he climbed up on the rusty lip of the third dumpster.  Stretching forward, he placed the bag on top of some large garbage bags which were just a few feet inside of the dumpster’s rim.   As he climbed down, his body looked bent and crooked and his face was ashen. Tears streamed down his cheeks and bounced off his hands.  He barely could annunciate, “Please forgive me,” as he shuffled away, head bowed and snot dripping from his nose.

About the Author:

William Leibowitz

William R. Leibowitz has been practicing entertainment/media law in New York City for a number of years.  He has represented numerous renowned recording artists, songwriters, producers and many of the leading record companies, talent managers, merchandisers and other notable entertainment businesses.  At one point, he was the Chief Operating Officer/General Counsel for the Sanctuary Group of Companies, a U.K. public company that was the largest ‘indie’ music company in the world (prior to its acquisition by the Universal Music Group).

William has a Bachelor of Science degree from New York University (magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa) and a law degree from Columbia University.  He lives in the village of Quogue, New York with his wife, Alexandria, and dog, George.

William wrote Miracle Man because of its humanistic and spiritual messages and because he feels that in our current times – when meritless celebrity has eclipsed accomplishment and the only heroes are those based on comic books, the world needs a real hero –and that, of course, is Robert James Austin, the protagonist in Miracle Man.

For More Information

Character Interview: Caleb Madroc from Donna Galanti’s paranormal suspense, ‘A Hidden Element’

?????????????????????????????????????????????We’re thrilled to have here today Caleb Madroc from Donna Galanti’s new paranormal suspense novel, book 2 in the Element Trilogy, A Hidden Element.  Caleb is 25 and an Elyon Community cult member living in the wilds of Oregon in a secret community his father created.

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

Thank you so for this interview, Caleb. 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 am not as saintly as the author makes me out to be. I train our community to kill people with their minds, and I cannot save all the lost souls hurt by my father’s oppression. I should do more to escape his evil rule, and stop him! He believes I’m weak and I can never be as strong as he, and I think he may be right. But I should still try to stop him, even while he threatens to kill my sons if I don’t obey him! And I know I’m weak, because I’ve never tried to stop my father’s hateful leadership because he is my father. Even while I hate him, part of me still loves him and yearns for his fatherly love that I once had as a child.

What do you believe is your strongest trait?

I help others in my community. I save them from severe punishment, and even death, and in doing so put myself in the position to be punished by whipping. I can stand the whippings—if it means sparing the punished some pain. Those scars I can bear. The scars of my lost love, Rachel, and not knowing my sons sear my heart forever.

Worse trait?

Not having the strength to fight my father and stop him from his evil oppression of our people. I fear he will kill my sons if he does.

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!)?

Sam Winchester from Supernatural! He is strong and tormented and on a dangerous mission like me, yet has a full heart ready to give away if he only had the chance.

Do you have a love interest in the book?

In my community we are forced to breed as dictated by my father. This sickens me and so for years I pretended to be impotent, but lost my will just once at nineteen. She had been such a beautiful, sweet female. Rachel was her name and she pleased me across a sea of soft nights. I fell in love with her from that first night, possessing her body, soul, and mind. But our bond was soon severed. She was sent to mate with another…and then another and another. But she was already pregnant then with our twins I would never know, raised by a community of women. And I would never get to touch her again, until the day I led her to her death. You can read about my first love interest before I came to Oregon in The Dark Inside.

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

When I was betrayed by an evil whore, my father was taken away, and I thought I’d lose my sons forever. I grew so weary of helping everyone else and never helping myself. All seemed lost.

If you could trade places with one of the other characters in the book, which character would you really want to be and why?

Ben Fieldstone. He and I are very much alike. We both are willing to sacrifice all for our families, and for love. Yet he’s lucky as he got to be a father to his son, unlike me who’s been separated from my own sons. He also gets to love Laura, who is beautiful inside and out. I will always keep close in my heart the secret night I spent with her where we were forced together in an intimate space. We did not betray Ben, though it was difficult to not make love to her. My desire for her was – and is – very strong.

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

Torn. I get a sense of hope, but what I also know about normal society drives fear in me that all may not go well. I am afraid of going from one prison to another prison of a different making.

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

Please give me someone to love of my own choosing. Live has been so full of ugliness and loneliness these past few years. And let me watch my sons grow to become the amazing men I know they will become.

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

I am hopeful I can assimilate into regular society and that the world can accept me, even with the terrible things I’ve been forced to do. Don’t judge me by what I’ve done through oppression rather judge me for what’s in my heart.

ABOUT A HIDDEN ELEMENT:

Evil lurks within…

When Caleb Madroc is used against his will as part of his father’s plan to breed a secret community and infiltrate society with their unique powers, he vows to save his oppressed people and the two children kept from him. Seven years later, Laura and Ben Fieldstone’s son is abducted, and they are forced to trust a madman’s son who puts his life on the line to save them all. The enemy’s desire to own them—or destroy them—leads to a survival showdown. Laura and Ben must risk everything to defeat a new nemesis that wants to rule the world with their son, and Caleb may be their only hope—if he survives. But must he sacrifice what he most desires to do so? 

PRAISE FOR A HIDDEN ELEMENT:

“Chilling and dark…a twisty journey into another world.” —J.T. Ellison, New York Times bestselling author of When Shadows Fall

 “Fascinating…a haunting story…”—Rebecca Cantrell, New York Times bestselling author of The World Beneath

 “Will keep you up long past your bedtime…a pulse-pounding read.”—Allan Leverone, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of Final Vector

Donna GalantiABOUT DONNA:

Donna Galanti writes murder and mystery with a dash of steam as well as middle grade adventure fiction. She is the author of books 1 and 2 in the paranormal suspense Element Trilogy, A Human Element and A Hidden Element, the short story collection The Dark Inside, and Joshua and The Lightning Road (Books 1 and 2, 2015). She’s lived from England as a child, to Hawaii as a U.S. Navy photographer. She now lives in Pennsylvania with her family in an old farmhouse. It has lots of writing nooks, fireplaces, and stink bugs, but she’s still wishing for a castle again—preferably with ghosts.

Website: www.ElementTrilogy.com

Blog: http://www.elementtrilogy.com/blog/
Twitter: http://twitter.com/DonnaGalanti
Facebook: www.facebook.com/DonnaGalantiAuthor
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5767306.Donna_Galanti

BUY THE ELEMENT TRILOGY BOOKS:

Purchase Book 2 in the Element Trilogy, A Hidden Element: http://amzn.to/1p1YD1o
Purchase Book 1 in the Element Trilogy, A Human Element: http://amzn.to/1mNcyCO
ON SALE NOW THROUGH 8/31 FOR JUST $.99cents!

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Profile: Donna Galanti, Author of ‘A Human Element’

Donna Galanti writes murder and mystery as well as middle grade adventure fiction. She is an International Thriller Writers Debut Author of the paranormal suspense novel A Human Element, the short story collection The Dark Inside, and the forthcoming Joshua and The Lightning Road.

Galanti, Donna 2An avid reader as a child, Galanti grew up in a nurturing environment, immersed in books such as The Hobbit,Little House in the Big WoodsThe Island of the Blue Dolphins, My Side of The Mountain, Call of the Wild and White Fang. “My favorite author was Roald Dahl and my favorite book of his was Danny the Champion of the World,” says Galanti, whose dark imagination ran wild from the start.

From her early years in England to her later work in Hawaii as a U.S. Navy photographer, Galanti always dreamed of becoming an author. She wrote her first murder mystery screenplay at the tender age of seven. She had a career in writing for marketing and communications and ran her own resume writing service, but it wasn’t until her mother died five years ago that she began writing novels out of her grief. Eventually, that grief turned to peace, when she fully realized what it was she truly loved to do: becoming a storyteller. In addition to being a full-time author, Galanti also works part time as a freelance copywriter for an advertising agency.

“I write from the dark side with a glimpse of hope. I am drawn to writing the hero’s journey – more so the tormented hero, and tormented villain. I enjoy creating empathy for both by blurring the lines between good and evil,” states the author, whose first two books in The Element Trilogy, A Human Element and A Hidden Element (Imajin Books, August 2014) are both full of murder and mystery with a dash of steam, and both have their own tormented hero and villain. “I slay my own demons through my writing – and I highly recommend it!” she says.

A Human Element, just released by Imajin Books, is the thrilling, unrelenting page-turner story of Laura Armstrong. Her friends and family members are being murdered and, despite her unique healing powers, she can do nothing to stop it. Determined to find the killer, she follows her visions to the site of a crashed meteorite in her hometown, where she eventually unravels a terrifying secret that binds her to the killer.

The book has already garnered excellent praise from New York Times bestselling author Jonathan Maberry and international bestselling author M.J. Rose.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000040_00067]Galanti lives in an old farmhouse – sadly, with no ghosts – with many fireplaces where she often curls up to create her page-turners. Other times she works in her office overlooking the woods. Throughout the year she meets weekly with a women’s writing group at a café where they write together and share advice and their success stories.

“When I am creating a new book I love to sit outdoors overlooking the woods with a pen and notebook and handwrite my ideas. My thoughts are slowed down this way as my brain connects to pen in hand, and it opens my mind up to brainstorm,” says the author, describing her creative process. “There is nothing more freeing creatively to journal story ideas and throw all sorts of ‘what if?’ questions out there to find the kernel of a good story you want to pursue. Then I create character worksheets and type up a ten page synopsis of the book. I do all this before I write that first word of the story. And I always create a title first! It’s what drives my inspiration for the story.”

Galanti began writing A Human Element seventeen years ago from a vision she had while driving to work one day. She wrote two chapters and shelved them for over a decade. When she finally decided to continue the story, she wrote Monday through Friday from 4:30am to 6:30am. After seven months she typed THE END.

All writers have their stronger and weaker points, and for this author, revision is her favorite process. That’s where she can make her story shine. “Knowing how important this process is has been one of my strong points,” she says. “There are many layers to a story to be found after you write that first draft, and that’s what I love to do: peel back the layers.” One area she struggled in for a long time was to slow down her writing. She can be a very fast writer, creating pages and pages of words that often would need to be trimmed down. She has since then learned to slow down her writing and craft her words with care as she writes them, so she doesn’t have to spend so much time on revision.

In an era when small presses, the good, the bad and the ugly, abound, Galanti’s experience has been nothing but positive. “My experience with Imajin Books has been amazing!” she says of her Canadian-based publisher. “Imajin Books is dedicated to working with me to help my books succeed. The owner, Cheryl Kaye Tardif, is a bestselling author in her own right.” Imajin Books was very responsive and provided in-depth editorial guidance as well as marketing plans, not to mention fantastic book cover designs. The publishing industry is notorious for being slow-moving, but in the case of The Element Trilogy, Imajin Books made the process quick and efficient.

As with many authors, Galanti finds starting a new book most challenging. The first blank page can be a scary thing, until the story takes over, propelling your main character into his new unbalanced world toward the ultimate end. However, being an author can be extremely rewarding. “When it comes to readers, there is nothing more thrilling than reading wonderful reviews about your book that you spent months, or years, creating and shaping,” she says. “It’s from that private place in your heart, where you love the most – and hurt the most – that you pour out pages to show the world. And it’s all worthwhile when you discover that others have been touched by your story, just as you were touched while you were writing it. Second, it’s rewarding to pay it forward to up-and-coming authors. There is a wonderful feeling that comes from speaking to writers about your publishing journey and sharing advice and techniques on how to find success as an author, and hope that they do.”

Galanti is currently working on the idea for the third and final book in The Element Trilogy called, A Healing Element, and gearing up to release book 2, A Hidden Element, on August 28th. A native of upstate New York, the author now lives in Southeastern Pennsylvania with her family in an old farmhouse. It has lots of writing nooks, fireplaces, and stink bugs, but she’s still wishing for a castle—preferably with ghosts.

Connect with the author on Facebook Twitter and her Blog.

This profile was originally published in Blogcritics

Interview with Richard Hacker, author of ‘Chain Reaction’

Richard Hacker 7Richard Hacker is the author of CHAIN REACTION, the third installment in the Nick Sibelius crime series. Champagne Books released DIRTY WATER, the next novel in the Nick Sibelius series after TOXIC RELATIONSHIP, in June, 2013. His first novel, TOXIC RELATIONSHIP, released August, 2012 by Champagne Books was a 2011 Writer’s League of Texas (WLT) finalist,where in addition, SHAPER EMERGENCE won best novel in the Science Fiction category. He is a member of the Pacific Northwest Writers Association.

After living many years in Austin, Texas where he worked as a leadership coach, public speaker and management trainer, he moved with his high school sweetheart to Seattle. While he misses the big skies of Texas, Richard has grown fond of the Pacific Northwest. His writing partner, a springer spaniel named Jazz, helps with proofreading and ball fetching.

You can visit Richard’s website at www.richardhacker.com.

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

CHAIN REACTION is the third book in the Nick Sibelius series, published by Champagne Books

Chain Reaction 7Q: 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?

Champagne Books is a small press eBook publisher. I pitched to the publisher as a writer’s conference. We hit it off. I liked her approach and integrity, she liked my manuscript.

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

About six months.

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

Pretty darned good! I popped a bottle of champagne with my wife, but I think it really hit home when I did a book release party. Reading selections of the book to a live audience was a special moment.

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

I solicited some quotes from folks I thought might add a little legitimacy to the novel. For example, Pam Binder, the president of the Pacific Northwest Writer’s Association was kind enough to offer a quote I could use in my marketing.

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

The most significant growth has been in the critical assessment of my writing. I no longer look for compliments. I want the cold, hard truth—which is more difficult to find that you might imagine. A knowledgeable critic who doesn’t pull any punches is worth his or her weight in gold.

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

How incredibly chaotic it is. Writers don’t know whether to self publish, go small press or push from a big publisher. And within each of those directions, there’s an army of people who want you to believe they know the ‘true’ path. For readers, we’re inundated with thousands upon thousands of books. And the quality varies wildly. I’ve been disappointed with the quality of novels in all three publishing avenues as much as I’ve been delighted.

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

My knee-jerk response to that question is “monkey off the back.” Once the published thing is done, you realize almost immediately that what matters is what’s next. I recall attending workshops and conferences, pitching to agents and sending out queries thinking if I can only get published, then I’ve done it. However, getting published, while it might seem like the summit, is actually the foothills. There’s always more to learn and more to write.

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

Be persistent, be open to criticism and brutally honest with yourself, and continue to work on your craft. And have fun. Writing ia a release, a joy.

Character Interview: Mike Zorich from Ken Malovos’ Legal Thriller Contempt of Court

We’re thrilled to be talking to Mike Zorich, a trial lawyer from Sacramento, California whose story is told in Ken Malovos’ legal thriller, Contempt of Court.

Contempt of Court cover Thank you so for this interview, Mike.  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 that I was accurately portrayed, although there is so much more to me than was stated in the book.  I realize that most of my life is pretty boring, so it was good that that not everything was included.  But I do love to cook and would love to have you and others over to my house to share a meal, a good glass of Chardonnay or Zinfandel and to talk about writing fiction.  I love the outdoors, as you might guess from my running.  I love reading books when I have the time. I really care about others, especially those in my life.

What do you believe is your strongest trait?

My strongest trait is my desire for justice.  I feel that I need to do my absolute very best for all of my clients, and I will fight for them and do whatever is needed.  This desire keeps me going when it is darkest or when I have suffered some setbacks.  When I was a kid, my father always encouraged me to be for the underdog.

Worse trait?

I get too personally involved in the sense that I sometimes lose my objectivity.  I identify with my clients.  As a result, I don’t do my best for them.  I constantly have to work on stepping back a bit and looking at the big picture.  This is true not just for my law career but for my relations with others in general.

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 who played Mickey Haller in The Lincoln Lawyer (book by Michael Connolly), is like the lawyer I would want to be, but he doesn’t look like me at all.  Maybe, Richard Gere would be a better fit.  Anyway, I come out better on this deal.

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

I was nervous from day one.  When I got mugged on the bike trail when I was out for a morning jog, I was very concerned. That kind of thing just doesn’t happen to people in their normal lives.  When the mugger told me that I wasn’t such a big shot lawyer, I instantly knew that he knew who I was. That scared me.  Then when my car was stolen, my home was ransacked and my office was burglarized, I knew I was in big trouble.  As bad as that was, the order by the judge to hold me in contempt of court and to throw me in jail took the cake.  I was in way over my head.  Then everything got worse and I was really worried that I was going to be killed.

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 don’t think I could be Robert Cannes, the opposing lawyer in the Darnoff case.  He went along with the system and took advantage of another lawyer.   That was just wrong and he knew it but did it anyway.   I don’t like to look at life or at the practice of law that way.

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

I liked the ending.  For me, it meant that I had no regrets and that I could live with myself and with those I love.  Maybe there was a bit too much excitement for my rather boring life.

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

Be true to my character and don’t make me out to be someone I am not.  I have my faults, for sure.  I am not perfect.  I still have not quite figured out how to resolve my feelings for my wife who died six years ago and I don’t quite know what to do with this new woman that I think I love.  I could probably learn how to handle alcohol a bit better.  I know that, but easier said than done.

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

Yes, I understand that I will be next appearing in Fatal Reunion.  I am asked to represent an innocent man, who is accused of killing his old girlfriend when they hook up at a 20-year high school reunion.   The evidence is weak and winning the case should not be a problem.  It makes it so much better that the man I am representing is a likable high school English teacher with no prior record, but I do hate the cases when the defendant is obviously innocent. They are the hardest and put a lot of pressure on me.  Oh well.

About the book: Sacramento trial lawyer, Mike Zorich, is finally coming to grips with the death of his wife from cancer five years ago. There is a new woman in his life.  His son is making his way in the business world. His law practice is going well. And he has a new case that promises to be very demanding.  Members of the Darnoff wine family are at odds with each other, amidst a divorce and partnership dissolution. Then things go wrong. Mike becomes the target of some unexplained personal attacks.  He is mugged on the bike trail and his house is ransacked. Is it someone connected to the Darnoff case?  Is it an old client from his years in the Public Defender’s Office?  Is it some disgruntled witness from a trial? To top it off, Mike is held in contempt of court and remanded to jail.  The attacks continue and only get worse. The authorities don’t have a clue. Can Mike figure it all out before someone is killed?

Purchase on AMAZON! Ken Malovos photo About the author: Ken Malovos is a mediator and arbitrator in Sacramento, CA. Previously, he was a trial lawyer, a public defender for 12 years and a business litigator for 25 years. He is a graduate of Stanford University (philosophy) and UC Hastings College of the Law. Ken is a past president of the Sacramento County Bar Association and Legal Services of Northern California. He is a panel member for the American Arbitration Association, a fellow in the College of Commercial Arbitrators, a member of the National Academy of Distinguished Neutrals and a member of the California Academy of Distinguished Neutrals. Contempt of Court is his first novel. He lives in Sacramento with his wife. You can visit Ken Malovos’ website at www.malovoslaw.com

Character Interview with Rosemary Sanchez from ‘The Black Song Inside’ & Win $100 Amazon Gift Card!

We’re thrilled to have here today Rosemary Sanchez from Carlyle Clark’s Mystery Thriller, The Black Song Inside. She is coming to us all the way from the great state of California.  It is a pleasure to have her with us today at Beyond the Books!

Thank you so for this interview, Rosemary.  Now that the book has been written, do you feel you were fairly The Black Song Inside 7portrayed or would you like to set anything straight with your readers?

Well, fair is a relative term. There weren’t any inaccuracies, however, I do do something really humiliating to myself and I’d like to point out that it could have happened to ANYONE. Other than that no one likes to have all of their nitty gritty insides spilled out all over for anyone with eyes to goggle at. It’s embarrassing, but I guess that’s the fate of the fictional.

What do you believe is your strongest trait?

Sheer stubbornness. I may not be the strongest or the fastest or the smartest or the most beautiful or whatever, but once I get on to something I just have to keep at it, which isn’t always a good idea.

Worst trait?

Loyalty. Even though that’s generally a good trait, I just can’t help believing the best about people I care about. It’s probably part of my natural bullheadedness. God knows my gangsta brother Johnny has given me plenty of reason to give up on him but I can’t help thinking he’s going to turn it around despite the Mt. Everest of evidence to the contrary.

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!)?

It would have to be Naya Rivera from Glee. I’m nothing like the character but the resemblance is pretty good.

Do you have a love interest in the book?

Yes, my co-protagonist Atticus Wynn. He’s smart, tough, sexy and funny as hell, but don’t tell him all that. I don’t want his head to swell. He’s this weird mix of humble and borderline overconfident that’s as maddening as it is irresistible.

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

Very early on. Almost at the beginning we realize we’re dealing with the Mexican drug cartels and that’s like defusing a bomb blindfolded, and that fact that Atticus’s ice queen Ex is the one who put us in their crosshairs by making us investigate the murder of her latest boyfriend puts us well on down the road past nervous to near blind panic . . . and then things start to get really scary.

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?

That’s an easy one. I’d have to say I’d be terrified to be The Priest, because he’s a merciless messianic megalomaniac mercenary whose scary smart and cunning. Just the things he actually does are scary enough, but I don’t ever want to know what thoughts are in his crazy cranium.

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

As a novel the ending is apt, but for me personally it was very very trying and troubling. I’m damn glad it’s over.

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

Remember, like you did with this novel that it’s not just about what happens. Life is about people and relationships or emotions, otherwise we’d all just be The Nicaraguan, who’s another scary dude in the novel.

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

Definitely, Carlyle Clark’s already cooking up another mess Atticus and I will have to sort out, but that is the life we chose.

 About the Book:

Atticus Wynn and Rosemary Sanchez, newly engaged private investigators, have seen the dark and violent side of life. Nothing, though, has prepared them for an explosive murder investigation that threatens to tear their relationship apart as they struggle to solve a case that could leave them in prison or dead.

Atticus’s manipulative ex-girlfriend bursts back into their lives wielding a secret about Rosemary’s family that she exploits to force the couple into investigating the execution-style slaying of her lover. The case thrusts Atticus and Rosemary headlong into the world of human trafficking and drug smuggling, while rendering them pawns in Tijuana Cartel captain Armando Villanueva’s bloody bid to take over the cartel.

The Black Song Inside is a vivid crime thriller rife with murder and madness, melded with gallows humor and the heroism of two flawed and compelling protagonists who, if they can save themselves, may learn the nature of redemption and the ability to forgive.

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About the Author:

Carlyle ClarkCarlyle Clark was raised in Poway, a city just north of San Diego, but is now a proud Chicagolander working in the field of Corporate Security and writing crime and fantasy fiction. He has flailed ineffectually at performing the writer’s requisite myriad of random jobs: pizza deliverer, curb address painter, sweatshop laborer, day laborer, night laborer, security guard, campus police, Gallup pollster, medical courier, vehicle procurer, and signature-for-petitions-getter.

He is a married man with two cats and a dog. He is also a martial arts enthusiast and a CrossFit endurer who enjoys fishing, sports, movies, TV series with continuing storylines, and of course, reading. Most inconsequentially, he holds the unrecognized distinction of being one of the few people in the world who have been paid to watch concrete dry in the dark. Tragically, that is a true statement.

His latest book is the mystery thriller, The Black Song Inside.

Visit his website at http://carlyleclark.wordpress.com/.

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First Chapter Reveal: The Black Song Inside by Carlyle Clark

The Black Song Inside 7Title: The Black Song Inside
Author: Carlyle Clark
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Pages: 435
Language: English
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook

Purchase at AMAZON

Atticus Wynn and Rosemary Sanchez, newly engaged private investigators, have seen the dark and violent side of life. Nothing, though, has prepared them for an explosive murder investigation that threatens to tear their relationship apart as they struggle to solve a case that could leave them in prison or dead.

Atticus’s manipulative ex-girlfriend bursts back into their lives wielding a secret about Rosemary’s family that she exploits to force the couple into investigating the execution-style slaying of her lover. The case thrusts Atticus and Rosemary headlong into the world of human trafficking and drug smuggling, while rendering them pawns in Tijuana Cartel captain Armando Villanueva’s bloody bid to take over the cartel.

The Black Song Inside is a vivid crime thriller rife with murder and madness, melded with gallows humor and the heroism of two flawed and compelling protagonists who, if they can save themselves, may learn the nature of redemption and the ability to forgive.

 

First Chapter:

PROLOGUE

BARTOLO AGUILAR SQUATTED beside a rutted dirt road in the Anza-Borrego Desert, two hours east of San Diego, and savored the emotional and spiritual insanity of the woman who was watching the dying girl spasming in the sand, gurgling and frothing, her bloodshot eyes rolled up in her head so that they looked like a pair of crimson moons.

Bartolo favored dawn in the desert for these birthings. Dusk would work, but there was nothing like the biting crispness of daybreak, the dark sky marbled with orange light, the desert awash in the smoldering winds sweeping off the mountains–like amniotic fluid, bathing all three of them in the warm righteousness of the womb: the unknowing convert, the sacrifice, and of course himself, the man of God.

That this dying birthing had been not the result of careful choice on his part, but rather a fortuitous order from his current employer, Armando Villanueva, made it no less sacred. The Tijuana Cartel captain hadn’t ordered the birthing nor was he aware of Bartolo’s faith; Villanueva just wanted a problem to disappear. He would be furious to discover Bartolo, on divine impulse alone, had brought the woman to witness. Villanueva didn’t understand that the will of the Lord came before worldly duties.

Bartolo had founded his own religion according to three words on an aged and scorched parchment he had carried every day since discovering it squirreled away in an ancient hut next to a jungle-shrouded temple, just before he and his comrades roped the shack’s occupant, a wizened shaman, to his cot and set the hut ablaze. Now, decades later, Bartolo Aguilar was the sole surviving member and self-anointed High Priest of the Church of the Aloned, and it was baptism time.

The dying girl was nothing as a person but everything as a sacrifice, a vessel whose perfect suffering could draw into the light that which hunkered in the shadows of the woman’s soul, of everyone’s soul. The girl wasn’t even worthy of being a floor scrubber in his congregation. She was just another throwaway who’d fooled herself into thinking that a high school dropout, who couldn’t even handle the pressures of the fast-food industry, could earn the respect of drug cartels by allowing herself to be exploited in perhaps the world’s highest-risk, lowest-reward job: drug mule “swallower”.

Her belly held twenty condoms filled with highest-grade heroin. Had she made it to the drop, they’d have given her laxatives and waited until she shit out fifty thousand dollars worth of product, and then paid her only five hundred. But one of those condoms had ruptured. Maybe her stomach acid had eaten through it. Maybe the guy who filled the condoms had been tripping on his own product and fucked up. Didn’t matter. Not to Bartolo. Not to the guy who loaded the condoms. Not to the man who ran the whole thing. Not even to the girl–now.

So the girl didn’t count. Was she Aloned? Certainly, but she had started near the bottom. Died at the bottom. A little tumble like that didn’t warrant membership. To sit in the pews in the Church of the Aloned, you must have tasted the dizzying heights of the exalted, been respected and admired, yet have cast it all away for the basest of reasons, which were, as far as Bartolo was concerned, the hidden truths of everything. Hidden that is, until Bartolo came striding into your life, clutched the nape of your neck, and forced you to stare long and deep into the mirror to see what you could do. Would do. Will do. Are doing. Have done.

The woman was in that most precarious of moments. She was doing nothing to help the girl. That the girl couldn’t be helped was both the least and most critical element.

“She’s dying,” the woman said again, her hands tucked under her armpits as if she were cold despite the ninety-degree desert morning, her feet shifting as if she had to urinate.

“A cock-sized hit of heroin will do that to you,” he said, his voice quiet but ragged, like the sound of saw cutting bone behind a closed door. He stood up, wiped his wet and grimy face with a black-and-white checkered bandanna, and adjusted his sweat-darkened cowboy hat.

“I only came with you because you said there was a way to help her. So what do we do? Why not take her to a hospital. We have to do something.”

“She’s got enough pure H in her now to kill a fucking rhino. There’s a drug you could give her that might counteract that, but I don’t have any. There’s nothing to do but wait until she dies, and then we cut the rest of the product out of her belly.”

“You don’t know that. You’re not a doctor.”

“You can always call 911.” He stepped back and leaned against his white pickup, thick arms crossed over his barrel chest, the old truck creaking with his added bulk.

“Like you’d let me.”

“Sure, I would. I wouldn’t stick around after, of course. You might as well, though. You use your cell phone, and they’ll know you were here anyway. When someone dies during the commission of a felony–your felony–that’s first-degree murder. You ready to ride the needle when it wasn’t even your fault? For a girl who’s going to die anyway?” He let that sit out there for a while.

It’d be easy to reel the woman in later. Give her a few news stories about mules who had survived. Hell, maybe it would be easier than that. The girl might survive the overdose, only to die of dehydration alone in the desert. If the woman saw that story, he would fucking own her. Perhaps she would be his first acolyte. It was time to branch out anyway. Why not start with a pretty woman like this one was? On the outside, anyway. Ugly inside now. A perfect match. The things they could do together. But first they needed to cherish this moment. Worship the girl’s birthing.

“Bullshit. You’d never let me call 911,” the woman said. “You’d be afraid that I’d . . .” She balled her fists and finally looked him in the eye. “That I’d tell them about you.”

He shook his head slowly, grinning when she looked away–probably unable to bear seeing her twin, miniature, distorted selves in his mirrored sunglasses. “I got ten guys,” he said, “All solid citizens, who’ll swear I was chasing tail with them down in Mexicali.”

“You still wouldn’t take the chance.”

“Bigger chance they’d do something to you. For a nothing like the girl, as long as it looks like what it is, they’ll sleepwalk through the motions, then head to the bar early for beers and baseball. That’s why we’re going to wait awhile after she dies to cut her open. So there’s no doubt it was the drug that killed her. But, for someone like you, they’ll break out all the CSI forensics shit to find you. Maybe try to make it go federal. Not worth the risk. Don’t pretend like you haven’t thought of that.”

She flinched. “Wha . . .what do you mean?”

“You see the girl is suffering; you know we aren’t going to do anything.” He patted the pistol in his waistband. “And you haven’t asked about this, because you know the difference. Now we can walk away from it, and only we know that we were ever here. If we put her out of her misery, that’s not manslaughter. It’s murder. No statute of limitations. The rest of your life waiting for the knock on the door. Let’s get it flopping around on the table. She’s going to die, and we ain’t gonna do shit about it.”

“You fuck! You fuck! You fuck! You lied when you told me there was something I could do for her just to get me out here, you twisted freak.”

“No, you’re doing something for her right now.” The priest’s voice deepened and thrummed as though he spoke in synchronicity with something dark and unseen; his westward gaze seemed to stretch beyond her, chasing the darkness around the rim of the world as it fled the rising sun. “You are bearing witness to her end. You are grieving for the loss of her. Is that not doing something for her? Would it be better to let her die out here alone and unmourned with no one to remember? Now, she will be remembered, won’t she? That is something I have given unto you for her. She will be as much in your thoughts as any child from your womb. She will have a mother who wakes screaming with the vision of her lost child still floating before her eyes in the darkness. What better homage to a dead child than a mother’s endless grief?”

The woman gaped at him. “What are you?”

The priest shook his head, his gaze returning to normal, his voice again seeming harsh and whispery and human. “Look, this is just one shit day. You put it behind you. You make up for it by doing good. What good can you do rotting in prison? What good will going to prison do for all the people who look up to you? Trying to do what would make you feel better would just be selfish on your part. You need to look at the bigger picture here. You’ve got to suck it up and do the hard thing.”

Bartolo stopped, luxuriating in the words he would say next, which even now seemed almost like a caress in his throat. A revelation. He now knew who should be his acolytes. Who knew the greatest height of human purpose? Mothers. How easily that purpose could be diverted? Perverted? Bent to the will of the Church of the Aloned? That had to be why the Lord had inspired him to bring the woman, so he would come to just that epiphany. Mothers would be the foundation of his church.

His body alive with zeal, words rolled out–not from him, but from the one true God using him as He should use his prophet–fashioning a lifeline that was a noose around the neck of her old self. “So the question is,” he said, “are you going to throw away a whole life and reputation, and all the goodwill you’ve built up, just so you can feel better? Think of your children.”

The woman collapsed into the sand, sobbing.

How he loved these rare moments when God spoke through him and blessed his desire to step free of the roles society forced him into–to speak the stark truth and watch the comprehension of it rip away the flimsy masks of humanity that society demands people wear.

In these quickening moments, when the convert was accepting the baptism, washing her old self away with the burning tears of the Aloned, he thought of the truth he’d first learned from the old map he’d carried next to his heart as a child soldier for the FARC rebels in the jungles of Colombia. The very same map he carried now.

After a day of dog-trotting through the jungle, or machine-gunning villagers, or dismembering refugees, or beating a man unconscious only to wake him up with a pail of fetid swamp water and start over, or being forced to hold girls down while older boys grunted and thrust atop them, he would sneak away with his penlight–careful to keep his tears, blood, and sweat off the yellowed and wrinkled parchment–and study the ancient map.

Those sessions, hunched in darkness, swarmed by mosquitoes and the cries of the damning and the damned, were when he founded the Church of the Aloned with the certainty that, like the prophets of old, the suffering he’d felt and inflicted had revealed to him searing truths of human instinct that were his burden and privilege to share.

The exquisite nautical and geographical details the long-dead cartographer had so painstakingly sketched held no appeal for him. What riveted him was what the man had scrawled on the other side of the line that marked the end of the known world: Beyond Here Be Monsters.

It was the child soldier Bartolo Aguilar, alone, his body wracked with sickness and exhaustion, his physical and spiritual suffering forging him into something new to the world, who realized the ancient cartographer had inserted an extra word that rendered the whole phrase backward.

Now, immersed in the languid heat of the coming day, ensorcelled by the brilliance of the orange-fingered dawn spreading across the lightening sky, Bartolo looked first at the dying girl, then the weeping woman, and finally, nodding, studied himself in the side mirror of his pickup, his face a blank shadow, his head haloed by the rising sun. Not Beyond Here Be Monsters, but simply Here Be Monsters.

Chapter 1

 

ATTICUS WYNN’S GAZE locked on the distorted twin reflections of himself in Detective Meadows’s sunglasses as he prepared to spur himself toward an action that had, for countless people, led to immediate and violent death.

The two men stood in Atticus’s driveway, facing each other a body length apart. Bloated clouds riddled with darkness, threatening to add to San Diego’s record summer rainfall, bunched and rolled across the noon sky as though something large and better unseen moved restlessly inside them. The moisture and heat conspired to transform the air into the breath of a beast.

Detective Meadows stood spread-legged in a pair of khakis, his palms upturned, fingers hooked. His gray golf shirt bulged across his waist, but his arms and shoulders were humped with muscle. His smile was as unnatural as his gel-spiked hair. “Are you going to help us out or not” he asked. “We’re just looking for some professional courtesy here.”

Atticus, back to the wall of his Spanish-style stucco home, hands jammed beneath his armpits with the thumbs skyward, narrowed his eyes. Professional courtesy? That meant Meadows knew Atticus was a private investigator. The subtext was also clear–tell us what you know or lose your license. What had Claire gotten him into? No way to know but to go with Meadows. Before he did however, there was one ploy he could try. It was risky, perhaps fatal. Like every other African-American man, Atticus’s elders had jack-hammered into him the need to never surprise a cop, and he never had, until now.

Atticus lunged into Detective Meadows’s personal space, his face wrangled into a grin. His hand darted up to clutch and squeeze the tall man’s shoulder as he said, “I’d be glad to help.”

The detective flinched, shoulder flexing under Atticus’s palm, fair-skinned cheeks roaring with redness. Atticus stepped back, hands dangling at his sides. He gauged Meadows’s reaction, expecting threats, a tirade, a freckled fist crashing into his jaw–anything but a conciliatory nod and a thin-lipped grin like a slit in an overripe peach.

The black-veined clouds felt very close then, their shadows obscuring the rules of the world Atticus knew. In his experience, men like Meadows considered every encounter a confrontation and would have it no other way. What could motivate him to meet Atticus with such a commitment to faux friendliness?

The detective stepped over to his gray, unmarked cruiser; its buggy whip antenna, fastened into an arc like a scorpion’s tail, quivered with the opening of the door. The back door.

“What happened to professional courtesy?” Atticus said.

Meadows held the smile, the tendons in his neck as taut with potential as the power lines overhead. “Regulations”.

“Of course,” Atticus said, walking toward the cruiser. “What other reason could there be?”

An hour later in police headquarters, Atticus had spent forty-five minutes alone in an interrogation room that reeked of ammonia and fear, with no idea whether his wait was to last seconds or hours. He expected that. It’s part of how they break you. The waiting and wondering make you feel powerless even when you know that’s what it’s supposed to do. If it were important, they’d talk to you immediately, right? So it’s probably no big deal. No need to keep your guard up. By the time they finally come for you, you’re desperate to talk yourself out of your situation. And getting you anxious and talking is what interrogation is all about.

In the age of the smartphone, the isolation ploy doesn’t work as well with a cooperative witness like Atticus. But smartphones create problems too. Like trying to explain why you didn’t call your fiancee, who’s also your partner in your PI business, the moment you had a chance. Pondering Rosemary’s reaction, Atticus shook his head.

No way could he actually talk to her. She’d hear the stress in his voice before he finished his first sentence. And what could he say? “Why am I stressed, honey? Well, the cops are questioning me. Why you ask? Well, it’s like this. Remember Claire? That’s right–my ex, Claire. You know, the sister of your former fiance who killed himself after you dumped him? The one who despises you, swore she’d never forgive you. Well, funny thing, hon. Guess what! She’s blackmailing me into helping her beat a murder charge. What has she got on me, you ask? What could she possibly blackmail me with? Oh nothing. Nothing at all. Actually, the person she’s got something on is you.”

He compromised and texted Rosemary, asking her to shoot him as much info as she could on Meadows ASAP.

Meadows shoved the door open and marched in with a man he introduced as Detective Morales, his partner. Morales stood behind Meadows, thumbs hooked in his belt, and smiled vaguely at Atticus. He seemed to be trying for harmless, but stocky and clad in a bright-banded shirt, his dark-skinned face spattered with nodules and pockmarked, black-pebble eyes measuringly cold, and a bald head, he looked like a Gila monster eyeing a wounded rabbit.

Meadows sat at the head of the table and plunked down a tape recorder. “We’re going to play a 911 call. Please tell us if you recognize the voice of the caller or have any idea what she’s talking about.”

Atticus nodded, suspecting the real reason they wanted to play it for him without a hint of what it was about was to keep him from having the chance to guard his reaction. That didn’t worry him. His childhood had trained him to hide his feelings well. The question was how was he going to glean more information than he gave?

“911, what’s your emergency?” the dispatcher said.

“There’s a girl,” a woman said, choking back tears. “She needs help.”

“Is she there with you?”

“No, no, oh God help me. I left her out there.”

“Left here where, ma’am?”

“In the desert. She was dying and I . . .I just left her there. You have to understand! She was already dying. There was nothing I could have done. It was hours ago. She’s dead by now anyway.”

Meadows leaned toward Atticus. Morales seemed to stop breathing, but who can tell with a Gila monster?

Then came the sound of five quick thwacks that sounded like the receiver was being banged against something while the woman repeated “fuck” over and over.

“Listen, ma’am,” the dispatcher said, “you need to calm down and tell me who you are, where you are, and where the girl is. We can send people to give you whatever help you need.”

The woman was suddenly back, her voice tight and venomous. “You can send me whatever help I need? That’s so wonderful. Can you send someone who can tell me how to get my soul back?”

“Ma’am, I–“

“It’s a very simple fucking question! Can you send me someone who can help me get my fucking soul back, or can’t you?”

“Ma’am, you need to calm–“

“GOD HELP ME!” the woman shrieked.

There was banging again, but this sounded different, not something hard against something hard, but soft against hard. The woman’s crying grew fainter, along with the sound of footsteps walking away, and then came the roar of a car engine and the squeal of tires. The tape ended.

“What was that at the end there?” Atticus asked. He hadn’t recognized the voice or had a clue what was going on, which was good, for him at least. For that woman and that girl, the moon was closer than good.

Morales and Meadows glanced at each other. Morales shrugged. Meadows said, “She was calling from one of those three-quarter phone booths. We’ve got a witness who said she went crazy at the end, banging the plastic with her fists, palms, elbows, her head, everything. Then she staggered away crying, got into a car, and drove away.”

“Was she alone?”

“Yes.”

“Do you know what girl she was talking about?”

“The question is, Atticus, do you?”

“Not a clue.”

“When was the last time you saw Clarice Rousseau?”

Atticus blinked, paused, blurted too late, “About two hours ago.”

Morales tilted his head, his brow furrowing, a caricature of confusion.

Meadows leaned forward and said, “Took you awhile to remember. Weird, isn’t it?”

So much for not giving anything away, Atticus thought. Damn. He had been foolish to think he could spring a trap laid by professionals, snatch the bait, and spring away unscathed. Now they had him on the ropes, and the way to get off them was by swinging. “I wasn’t remembering. Just found it quite a coincidence that you would ask about her right after the first time I’ve seen her in years. You were following her, huh? Then you followed me. The timing’s about right. You ran my license, pulled my files, and then decided to drag me in here. But you came to see me alone, Detective. Isn’t that a break with your beloved regulations?”

Meadows’s blue eyes were almost as unreadable as his sunglasses were. “Was your meeting with Claire planned?”

“My lawyer said she wanted to see me. I met her there.”

“Why did she want to see you so bad?”

“Claire didn’t really want to see me,” Atticus said, skating the rim of a lie. “She was just hoping I would clean up her mess like I used to.”

“Mess?” Meadows asked.

“She said you guys think she killed her boyfriend, and the Tijuana Cartel thinks she has the drug money her boyfriend supposedly had.”

When the detectives heard “drug money”, their gazes sharpened. Atticus couldn’t tell if he had surprised them or confirmed something they suspected.

“How much money?” Meadows asked.

“You guys don’t know?” Silent stone cop faces was the reply, so Atticus said, “Don’t know. Way she talked, it sounded like a lot.”

“Why come to you?”

“We dated in college. Maybe she thought I was still carrying a torch for her and would be eager to help her out.”

“Will you?” Meadows was poking around, feeling out whether Atticus was a broken-hearted puppet awaiting the return of his puppeteer, a pathetic man who would murder on command for a lover who’d scorned him.

Atticus shook his head. “Seeing her was the best thing that could have happened to me. Now I know I’ve moved on. I don’t wish her any ill, but she’s on her own.”

Meadows’s expression told Atticus that the last line sold it–the jilted lover taking a smidgen of pleasure in his ex’s pain, but not enough to be suspected of being the cause of it. Pettiness can be useful.

“Do you know a Steven Delacroix from Morgan City, Louisiana?”

“No, but I know he’s the victim,” Atticus said. Claire was from Morgan City, but she had never mentioned Delacroix back when she and Atticus were together.

Meadows and Morales eyed him expectantly. When you’re innocent, they expect you to proclaim it loudly and passionately, to anyone who will listen, but to Atticus that felt like begging, and begging he would never, ever do. But show emotion? That he could do, just by cracking open the bottle he kept it in. Instead, he stared into the space between the detectives, keeping his face pleasant and quizzical, knowing that few could bear a charged silence like the detectives had created. Atticus let the moment stretch.

What were the detectives really up to? Too many things from the moment Meadows stopped him in his driveway didn’t make sense. They were too loose with information without knowing what he knew. Like they needed him to know certain things. Could the interrogation be a ruse? If so, why? What did the girl and woman on the tape have to do with the murder of Claire’s boyfriend and the missing drug money?

Atticus knew that despite what primetime TV might say, cops never turn to civilians looking for Sherlock Holmesian feats of investigation. They use civilians as informants, willing or unwilling, knowing or unknowing, pawns pushed into battle with knights, bishops, rooks, and queens. As for the fate of the pawn, that’s on him. It’s a blame-the-victim world.

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