Rik Stone on His Inspiration for “Birth of an Assassin” #Thriller #GoodReads

What inspired me to write my book?

Lots of people feel the need to write almost as soon as they learn to put words together. I went to school with girls who kept diaries and diligently made entries on a daily basis. Not me, I was like the other boys. If there was a ball to play with, we’d play football. If there was no ball, we’d find an old tin, maybe in a dustbin, and play kick the tin. In the late 50’s, early 60’s, where I came from that was what life was for a young lad – and I loved it.

I don’t remember the exact age, let’s say fifteen for the sake of argument, but I picked up a book I think was my uncle’s and began reading it. The novel was called The Carpetbaggers and was written by Harold Robbins. The first chapters, when the protagonist’s parents were murdered, absolutely enthralled me. I couldn’t put it down. Unfortunately, not enjoying the greatest of concentration at that time, I found the book too long, too slow, and soon got bored. However, when another novel by the same author showed up in the house, The Adventurers, I thought I’d give it a go. Once again the first chapters had me living the pages, but, yet again, as I delved further into the book my interest waned.

So, you might think, no signs of a budding writer here. But no, those first chapters in The Adventurers were about an author who’d made it to the top of his trade. He lay next to his private swimming pool in the garden of his grand house musing over what the point of his life was now he’d done it all. Without realising it at the time, that man by the pool had been so believably drawn by Robbins that he weaved himself through my skin. Over the years he held on to a compartment of my mind. I wanted what he’d had. You might think I mean his wealth and position. That would be nice, but no, my reasoning was that the stories of that fictitious writer were adored by all who read them. He had a worldwide following and his works were renowned. I think what I felt was that age old sin… envy.

This figment of some writer’s imagination grabbed a space in my mind from where he occasionally popped up to make sure I hadn’t forgotten him. I was fifty when I retired and I had no intention of donning a new harness belonging to someone else. At the same time I’m not one to sit around contemplating life and I’d been an avid reader for many years. The little man in my head chose that moment to highlight an opportunity. I did creative writing courses, bought and read a multitude of ‘how to write anything’ type books and started writing… and there I was, proudly presenting my debut novel Birth of an Assassin. An interesting offshoot to this tale; you can carry ambition around for many years without even knowing it.

Birth of an Assassin

Set against the backdrop of Soviet, post-war Russia, Birth of an Assassin follows the transformation of Jez Kornfeld from wide-eyed recruit to avenging outlaw. Amidst a murky underworld of flesh-trafficking, prostitution and institutionalized corruption, the elite Jewish soldier is thrown into a world where nothing is what it seems, nobody can be trusted, and everything can be violently torn from him.

Buy Now @ AmazonB&NKobo & Waterstones

Genre - Thriller, Crime, Suspense

Rating – R

More details about the author

Connect with Rik Stone on Facebook & Twitter

Website http://rik-stone.simdif.com

Julia (The Good Life #Romance #Series) by Sarah Krisch

Julia

A failed actress, twenty-something Julia McCarthy begins writing a fictionalized blog as a form of self-therapy. Based on her carefree summers at her grandparents’ farm, she never expects her little experiment to garner a viral following, but it does. Boy, does it ever.

Now, with thousands of loyal blog followers, and a syndication deal with the Chicago Herald, Julia is approached by GreenTV to adapt her blog into a TV show. The producers see her as a “Rachel Ray on the Prairie-type”. She sees herself as a fraud.

In Julia’s fictional world, she’s successful. She can pay her bills on time. Heck, she even has a fictional gorgeous husband and charming little boy. Ready to realize her dreams, Julia returns to her grandparents’ farm to shoot the TV pilot.

Brad Taylor is definitely not her type: he’s rugged, sensible, and oh-so smug about learning that Julia’s blog is a farce. As the manager of her grandparent’s farm, Brad doesn’t have time to deal with whimsical women who don’t even know how to cook.

Julia can’t allow her attraction to Brad to distract her, not when her dreams are about to come true. But are these truly her dreams, her good life?

A fun, fast (150 pages) contemporary romance

Buy Now @ Amazon

Genre – Contemporary Romance

Rating – PG-13

More details about the author

Connect with Sarah Krisch on Facebook

The Power Of Book Covers – Regan Black @ReganBlack

The Power Of Book Covers

Thanks so much for having me here today. It is with a great deal of pleasure that I am gallavanting about the internet with the Bulletproof book tour, all because of the tremendous talents of the staff at Orangeberry Book Tours!

Early in my writing career I was taught that the first sentence of your story makes a promise to the reader and the rest of the book needs to fulfill that promise. The same is true for book covers in that they need to let the reader know what grand adventure, mystery, or romance (or all of the above) is waiting for them behind that breathtaking cover.

With so many books coming available to readers every day, the book cover is the first impression. It has to capture attention, reflect author branding, and accurately convey the mood of the story. In short, it has to rock.

The Bulletproof and Unknown Identities series came about as a collaborative brainstorm with my mentor Debra Webb, author of the acclaimed Faces of Evil series. Talk about book covers that accomplish the goals. Her covers convey the danger and suspense waiting inside, the film strip and colorful backgrounds have become synonymous with the Faces of Evil series and the fonts and titles reinforce her overall author branding.

So when it came time for making decisions about the Bulletproof cover art, I was a step ahead of the game with a romantic suspense marketing guru like Deb in my corner.

The Unknown Identities series focuses on the mysterious heroes who come from dark and dangerous pasts to tackle current missions that could set them free, if they don’t die first. A market study of my target audience and looking at comparable titles in the genre, and we made the final choices for overall look for Bulletproof, Double Vision, and the upcoming titles.

Cover art, like anything is subjective, but only to a point. Market trends within genres have an impact on what a reader expects to see when they are shopping for books. The cover art is the first impression and it needs to meet those current expectations.

While I wouldn’t recommend changing up a cover willy-nilly, it’s necessary to learn what readers will respond to. Keeping tabs on how comparative titles are presenting themselves can be essential to knowing when it’s time to try something new.

I remember Sherrilyn Kenyon’s first Dark Hunter novel, Fantasy Lover. The cover featured a stunningly hot painting of a Greek god. But on the following reprints the publisher changed up the cover art to coordinate with the subsequent covers in the series. I loved that original cover (and I’m glad I still have my autographed copy) but it was a smart move as it let readers know the books were connected.

Book covers are a little like the fashion industry as the trends come and go and leaders in each genre set the pace. These days changes crop up even faster with myriad new options available to readers on any given day. I’m grateful for the experts and the tools that guide me and help me respond quickly and positively to reader expectations.

Do you have a favorite ‘cover style’ from the past or present?

Live the adventure!

Regan

Bulletproof

Buy Now @ Amazon

Genre – Romantic Suspense

Rating – R

More details about the author and the book

Connect with  Regan Black on Facebook & Twitter

Website http://www.reganblack.com

Whitley & Austin, Where Truth and Fiction Meet by Parker Paige @parkerpaige86

Daylight savings time brought in the night sky earlier this time of year. At five o’clock, darkness had already fallen when Charlie arrived home. It would have helped to open her mini-blinds once in a while. Instead, they remained closed while she enjoyed the sense of freedom it induced, freedom to do whatever, without being watched.

Her visit to her family’s gravesite seemed to have worsened her mental state. She believed that maybe, just maybe, if she traveled there a second time, she might finally move past her anguish. She wanted to move forward, but at that point, all she wanted to do was go to sleep and never wake up.

Her once semi-contented spirit was now replaced with a somber one, and she considered taking a nap in the early evening. After she thawed out from the cold, she poured herself a glass of Chardonnay in her rose-colored champagne glass. She didn’t even bother to remove her coat as she stood at the kitchen counter. She began drinking after the death of her family, probably because her sister used to drink wine with her dinner all the time. Somehow Charlie adopted that habit as her own. Only in Charlie’s case, more times than not, no dinner accompanied this new practice. Though not a permanent solution, it served its purpose for now.

Charlie hung up her coat and after two long sips of Chardonnay, she found herself standing in the center of the living room. Her eyes panned across several eclectic hand-painted pictures of flowing water, which lay on the floor against the sofa.

With the temperature outside reaching almost freezing, winter made its presence to the city early, but she found great comfort from the intense heat that circled her apartment. Her eyes perused the mantle of the framed family portrait. She couldn’t help but focus on her sister. The picture seemed to stare back at her as she remembered how her sister Sandy always cared for her, looked out for her and encouraged her to value herself for her own unique abilities and talents. Now Sandy was gone, all because of the secret life she chose to live, a secret life which led to her demise.

Encouraging, compassionate, adventurous and free-spirited were the words that best described her sister, Sandy, which explained Charlie’s private wish to be like her. Charlie felt her eyes well up with tears; so much that she could barely see the picture in front of her. She then headed into the bathroom and stood in front of the bathroom mirror. She stared at the bun in her hair, which gave her the appearance of an astute and very plain-Jane librarian. When she removed the large hairpin, her dark brown hair splashed against her shoulders. A few grey strands patterned the sides of her head, and it could only be stress because she was only a few days shy of her thirtieth birthday. With a somber expression on her face, Charlie stared at her reflection in the mirror, the tears trailing down her face.

How could she go on without her family?

How could she go on without her sister Sandy? She just wanted the pain to stop, all the suffering and all the heartache. As she contemplated putting an end to her emotional pain, she removed the belt from her corduroy pants, then gently placed the belt around her neck. With a determined gesture, she buckled the belt around her neck. She pulled it snug, tighter and tighter until she could hardly breathe and a wonderful thought came to mind.

This could end it all. Right here. And right now. All the suffering and all the heartache could be a thing of the past, and she would not have to live another day. Charlie continued to stare at the reflection of hopelessness on her face and surprisingly, out of nowhere, she heard a female voice ring out from the other room, calling her name.

“Charlieeeee? Charlieeeeeee?”

It startled her, and she thought she must be hearing things, but as quickly as she dispelled the voice, it rang out again. This time louder and longer.

“Charlieeeee? Charlieeeeeee?”

The voice sounded so familiar, too familiar. It was the voice of her sister, Sandy. Charlie released the belt from her neck and hurried into the front room. But the voice mysteriously stopped. Charlie stood there motionless, wiping the tears from her eyes, wondering if she was losing her mind when she heard the voice again.

“Charlieeeee? Charlieeeeeee?”

This time it came directly from the full-length hall mirror, framed with dark red trimming. Charlie approached the mirror fast, and to her amazement, in her own reflection was an image of her sister Sandy. She was as beautiful as always, long curly red hair, flawless makeup and a smile that could light up any room. She was draped with expensive shiny earrings and necklaces to match. She was the elegant side of Charlie, if Charlie possessed red hair and were not so plain looking. If this was how you look once you die, then Charlie could not wait until it was her turn.

But this didn’t make any sense. How could her sister be in her reflection when her sister was dead? In shock, Charlie turned her eyes away from the mirror for a moment before returning her focus to it, but, still, an image of her smiling sister remained.

“Is that you, Sandy?” Charlie asked.

“How are you, Charlie?”

“It is you,” Charlie uttered in amazement. She was stumped for words. Here she was having a conversation with her dead sister. “I don’t understand. I thought you were─”

“Dead,” Sandy said, finishing Charlie’s sentence. “I’ve been so worried about you, Charlie. I thought you might need someone to talk to.”

“You did?” Charlie asked, as a tear made its way down her face.

Her sister’s words brought back many memories, memories of times when her sister stepped in to comfort her in times of great need. And now was definitely one of those times. Sandy seemed to have a flair for sensing when Charlie was in need of her assistance.

Charlie touched the mirror, hoping to connect with Sandy, but Sandy was just an image.

“I saw what you were about to do in there,” Sandy said. “I’m disappointed that you allowed yourself to become so hopeless.”

Charlie was speechless. Not just because her sister was right, but because she was curious how her sister always seemed to know these things.

“It’s certainly not the answer,” Sandy continued. “And I think you know that.”

“You’re right. I do know better. Of course I wasn’t really going to do it. I just needed to toy with the idea for a moment and exorcise my demons, if only to realize my foolishness.”

“Are you feeling any better now?”

“Only because you’re here with me. I miss you so much, Sandy. I don’t think I can make it without you.”

“Of course you can. You’re stronger than you think.”

“No, I’m not.”

“Do you remember who loves you no matter what?”

Charlie didn’t even think about it before she blurted out, “Sandy loves me.”

“That’s right and don’t you ever forget it. I have to go now, but we’ll talk again soon.”

“Don’t go, Sandy. Please don’t go.”

Charlie didn’t move her eyes from the mirror, hoping that if she didn’t blink, Sandy might not disappear. But it was no use.

Sandy was gone.

Whitley_Austin

Buy Now @ Amazon

Genre – Romantic Suspense

Rating – PG-13

More details about the author

Connect with  Parker Paige on Twitter

Website parkerpaige.wordpress.com

P.T. Macias’ Top Ten Favourites @pt_macias #romance #suspense #mustread

Ten of my favorite things
by PT Macias
My husband and family
Writing
Reading romance and paranormal books
Red, hot pink and white roses
Jewelry-keys and hearts with precious stones – diamonds, pearls, blue topaz, alexandrite, and aquamarine
Sexy High Heels Shoes, Cowboy boots
Music
Perfume – Ralph, Pleasures, Romance
Laptop
Travel

LocoRazer

The hard driven, ambitious delta force operative is immune to women. His heart has been destroyed by a treacherous woman and the unexpected loss of his family. These events have driven him nearly into insanity. The hard knocks in life propel him into grasping his emotions, his thoughts, and his physical condition. He focused on his goal. Loco doesn’t allow any type of distractions or obstacles to stop him. His actions and recklessness have earned him his nickname, Loco.

The Infinite power, Razer 8 operatives, are united and linked for infinity. His team mates recognize his pain, anger, and strength is derived from the intense impotency he feels from his loss.

The unexpected mission and unexpected encounter with his soul mate, tests his strength. His mind, heart, and soul recognize his love even before the actual encounter. The ruthless criminals threaten to harm his soul mate, pushing and transforming him into a fearless warrior.

Buy Now @ Amazon

GhostRazer

Ghost is an old-fashioned Southern boy fighting hard to forget his pain. He’s forced to protect his Mama and sister from their abusive Pa. Ghost is strong, silent, and soft spoken. He works hard against all obstacles and hurt.

Ghost grows up to become a Delta Force. He meets and falls for a hot Latina who sets him on fire! She captures his soul and brightens his world. He would do anything to protect her.

Duty calls and he’s forced to leave her unprotected. The unspeakable happens! Ghost calls on Infinity. Infinity aids to extract his woman from the clutches of a soulless prostitution mob. Time is running out!

Buy Now @ Amazon

BulldogRazer

Bulldog is the youngest of the Razer 8 Delta Force Operatives. He enjoys life. He’s called upon to help out one of his team operative. Infinity is there.

He runs into Katherine Morgan, a sweet young victim. In the the process of extraction he gets caught by the prostitution gang. They mistake him with being her boyfriend.

Bulldog grabs onto that line and poses as her boyfriend. In the process of rescuing Katherine from the mob he becomes entangled in her web. Will Bulldog’s skills and training save him from falling under her spell? Will he be able to outrun the mob and his soul?

Buy Now @ Amazon

Redfox, Razer 8 10-13-13

Redfox, Razer 8 operative mission is to infiltrate the Police Commissioner’s office and home. He has 72 hours to gather the intel on the Commissioner’s dirty business.

Redfox charms his way into the Commissioner’s home, throwing him into the arms of his soul mate. The unexpected love rocks his world and the success his mission.

The Commissioner’s daughter, Marsha Diane Bryant is a lovely sweet young girl. She falls under Redfox spell and unconditionally bestows her soul.

Redfox fears losing his soul mate in the process of completing his mission. Can their love survive the storm?

Buy @ Amazon

Genre – Romantic Suspense

Rating – PG 13

More details about the author

Connect with P.T. Macias on Facebook and Twitter

Website http://ptmacias.com/

Dora Machado & the Story Behind “The Curse Giver” @DoraMachado #Fantasy

The Story Behind The Curse Giver

By Dora Machado

The Curse Giver was an accident, a professional indiscretion, if you will, conceived during one of my little escapades, and born out of unchecked passion. Yep, I might as well come clean. Even the most disciplined writer can be unfaithful to her projects, and no matter how thoroughly taken one is with one’s current novel, the danger for a tangent is always there when venturing into the world of research.

So there I was, researching one book, working hard to finalize the Stonewiser series, when I came across this insidious little idea that kept disrupting my train of thought.

Now, to understand the story behind The Curse Giver, you must understand my writing habits. I’m not easily distracted. When I’m writing a novel, my brain goes into hyper mode. I’m disciplined, motivated and focused to the point of obsession, which is why The Curse Giver was such a surprise to me.

The subject of curses has always fascinated me, not only because curses are such a vital part of magic and fantasy, but also because they are so prevalent to the human experience. To be honest, I had always been intrigued by the subject. Then I found them, one night, very late—or was it very early morning?—when the wind rattled my window as a coastal storm blew in from the sea.

The clay tablets that popped up on my screen dated from 600 BC and were part of the library of Nineveh, the oldest surviving library of cuneiform tablets. This is the same collection that gave us the famous Gilgamesh epic. Visually, the tablets weren’t much to look at, chicken scratches on clay. But the translated words had an impact on me.

May all these [gods] curse him with a curse that cannot be relieved, terrible and merciless, as long as he lives, may they let his name, his seed, be carried off from the land, may they put his flesh in a dog’s mouth.”

I know, hardly an inspiration for most. Me? I immediately thought of the man who had been thus cursed, of the pain and hardship such curse would bring upon him and his people, of the character that eventually became Bren, Lord of Laonia in The Curse Giver.

From there on, the curses flowed before my eyes, mysterious ones from ancient civilizations in Egypt, India and the Far East; thin lead tablets dating from the Greco-Roman world, judicial prayers, secret invocations, warnings and love spells that streamed into my consciousness. I knew I should get back to my original research, and yet I was smitten with the subject.

There were curses quoted from the Bible, medieval curses, real and forgeries, Viking, Celtic, Germanic, Visigoth, Mayan, Incan, Hopi, you name it. There were ancient curses but also modern curses, some associated with Santeria, voodoo and the 21 Divisions, religions that are common in the Dominican Republic where I grew up.

Who would cast these curses and why? What kind of creature could be capable of such powers? What would motivate a person to curse another one? As I explored these questions, a character profile began to emerge in my mind, someone whose understanding of good and evil was very different from my own.

Sorting through the research, I could see that some curses had practical applications to make sure people did what they were told. They served as alternate forms of law enforcement in lawless societies. Some were obviously malicious. They were meant to frighten and intimidate. Some were more like venting or wishful thinking. It turns out that mankind has been casting curses since the beginning of time and will probably continue for as long as we have the imagination and faith to do so.

A new question formed in my mind. Once cursed, what could a person do to defend himself? A third character emerged from this question, Lusielle, a common remedy mixer, a healer of hearts and bodies, someone who didn’t realize the scope of her own power until it began to transform her life.

Eventually, I wrestled myself out of the trance. I had a book to write and a series to complete. I had deadlines. But my little detour had made an impact. The concepts were at work in my subconscious, coalescing into a new novel, fashioning these powerful characters who demanded their own story. My encounter with curses had been but a slight detour from my research plan, a tiny deviation, an indiscretion to my schedule, but the seed had been planted and The Curse Giver thrived, even if I didn’t know it yet.

****

Dora Machado is the award-winning author of the epic fantasy Stonewiser series and her newest novel, The Curse Giver, available from Twilight Times Books. She grew up in the Dominican Republic, where she developed a fascination for writing and a taste for Merengue. After a lifetime of straddling such compelling but different worlds, fantasy is a natural fit to her stories. She lives in Florida with her husband and three very opinionated cats.

To learn more about Dora Machado and her novels, visit her website at www.doramachado.com or contact her at Dora@doramachado.com.

For a free excerpt of The Curse Giver, visit:  http://twilighttimesbooks.comthingsTheCurseGiver_ch1.html.

E-mail:Dora@doramachado.com

Website: www.doramachado.com

Blog: http://www.doramachado.com/blog/

Newsletter: http://doramachado.com/newsletter.php

 

 

Why Book Covers are So Important – Regan Black

Why Book Covers are So Important

Thanks so much for having me here today. It is with a great deal of pleasure that I get to reveal a new look for the Shadows of Justice series with the help of Orangeberry Book Tours!

Early in my writing career I was taught that the first sentence of your story makes a promise to the reader and the rest of the book needs to fulfill that promise. The same is true for book covers in that they need to create the mood and let the reader know what grand adventure, mystery, or romance (or all of the above) is waiting for them behind that cover.

The new look for the five Shadows of Justice novels: Justice Incarnate, Invasion of Justice, Veil of Justice, Tracking Shadows, and Shadows to Light is all about honoring where I’ve come from as an author as well as celebrating where I’m headed.

Cover art, like anything is subjective, but only to a point. Market trends within genres have an impact on what a reader expects when they are shopping for books. The cover art is the first impression and it needs to be the best it can be.

While I wouldn’t recommend changing up a cover willy-nilly, it’s necessary to learn what readers respond to. Keeping tabs on how comparative titles are presenting themselves can be essential to knowing when it’s time to try something new.

This dynamic redesign has been months in the planning and I couldn’t have done it without a supportive team of friends, artists, and tech experts. And I can safely say all of us are thrilled to share it with the rest of the world.

I remember Sherrilyn Kenyon’s first Dark Hunter novel, Fantasy Lover. The cover featured a painting of a Greek god and was beyond hot and sexy. But on the following reprints the publisher changed up the cover art to better match the covers in the rest of the series. I loved that original cover (and I’m glad I still have my autographed copy) but it was a smart move as it let readers know the books were connected.

While I adored the previous design of the Shadows of Justice novels and those covers stood out among similar books at the time of publication, things have changed a great deal in a few short years. Romance readers are the biggest book buyers – they always have been – and the previous covers didn’t accurately convey the romance at the heart of each of the novels.

If I’ve learned anything about my writing during my journey, it’s that I have been and always will be a “happily ever after” kind of author. Romantic love is an essential part of real life and that treasured joyful relationship will continue to be an essential part of the stories I tell.

Book covers are a little like the fashion industry as the marketing trends come and go and leaders in each genre set the pace. But it happens on an even faster scale with so many options available to readers these days. I’m grateful for those options and the tools that help me respond positively to reader expectations.

Do you have a favorite ‘cover style’ from the past or present?

Live the adventure!

Regan

Justice Incarnate

Buy Now @ Amazon

Genre – Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy

Rating – PG-13

More details about the author and the book

Connect with  Regan Black on Facebook & Twitter

Website http://www.reganblack.com