Cover Reveal: Welcome To Your Life by Katrina Marie

Welcome to Your Life
Katrina Marie
Publication date: August 3rd 2017
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance

Tonya discovers she’s pregnant a month after breaking up with her high school boyfriend, Jake. She can’t decide whether to tell Jake she’s pregnant when he sees her at the mall with a maternity bag.

Tonya struggles to adjust to working, attending the local community college, and pushing off Jake’s advances to get back together. When she’s paired with the good looking guy from her Art class, Reaf, she has to battle the confusing emotions swirling through her brain and heart.

Can she find love, herself, and become the parent she hopes to be while dealing with pregnancy hormones and drama?

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Author Bio:

Katrina Marie lives in the Dallas area with her husband, two children, and fur baby. She is a lover of all things geeky and Gryffindor for life. This is her debut novel and she hopes you enjoy reading it as much as she enjoyed writing it.

Website / Goodreads / Facebok / Twitter

 

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Cover Reveal: Breached by K.I. Lynn

Cover Design: Mayhem Cover Creations

Release Date: July 19, 2017

 

Synopsis

 

My life was ash. Burned to the ground. Razed with no chance of rebuilding.Empty.Alone.

Just as I had to be.

No one else was going to get hurt because of me. No more deaths.

For years I’ve secluded myself, stayed in the darkness, and tried to melt into the background. Hiding in plain sight.

Taking a new job, working in close confines with a new partner, is risky, and I thought I was up to the task. So I hide behind a mask of my own making, a façade for the world.

The problem is, I can’t stop thinking about my new partner. I hate her, but I crave her like she’s the most intoxicating thing I’ve ever encountered.

It’s maddening, but I need to stay away. I have to stay away.

I can’t love anyone ever again.

 

Goodreads

 

 

Giveaway

One of Five ARC’s for Breached

 

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About the Author

K.I. Lynn is the USA Today Bestselling Author from The Bend Anthology and the Amazon Bestselling Series, Breach. She spent her life in the arts, everything from music to painting and ceramics, then to writing. Characters have always run around in her head, acting out their stories, but it wasn’t until later in life she would put them to pen. It would turn out to be the one thing she was really passionate about.

Since she began posting stories online, she’s garnered acclaim for her diverse stories and hard hitting writing style. Two stories and characters are never the same, her brain moving through different ideas faster than she can write them down as it also plots its quest for world domination…or cheese. Whichever is easier to obtain… Usually it’s cheese.

Connect with KI Lynn

 

Newsletter Sign Up: http://bit.ly/2ruu5Kt

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Facebook Reader Group: http://bit.ly/2tinVhV

Goodreads Author Page: http://bit.ly/2tD4zDR

Goodreads Reader Group: http://bit.ly/2rujf7x

Twitter: http://bit.ly/2tD1ZgP

Instagram: http://bit.ly/2sgNGkp

Amazon Author Page: http://amzn.to/2sIocO8

 

ML:

Taking Chances by Kimberley O’Malley Book Blitz

 

Contemporary Romance
Date Published: 20 June, 2017
Publisher: Carolina Blue Publishing
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Katie Fitzgerald learned the hard way about love. She vowed to never get involved with a doctor at work, and when she did, he broke her heart. Older and wiser, Katie is serious about never getting hurt again. Dr. Flynn Reynolds, staff cardiologist at Windsor Falls Memorial, just might be the man to change her mind. Attraction explodes between the two from their very first meeting. But Katie is determined to protect her heart. Will Flynn convince her to take another chance?
About the Author

Kimberley O’Malley is a recent transplant to Charlotte, North Carolina from the frozen North. She is learning to say y’all but draws the line at sweet tea. Sarcasm is an art form in her world. When not writing, she is a full-time nurse and part-time soccer Mom, but not necessarily in that order. She shares her life with an amazing husband of more than twenty years, two teenagers, and one very sweet Shetland Sheepdog, Molly.
Contact Links
 
Facebook: Author Kimberley O’Malley
Twitter: @K_OMalley67
Instagram: kimberleyomalley67
 
Purchase Links
 
Reading Addiction Blog Tours

Gate of Air by Resa Nelson Book Blitz

Gate of Air
Resa Nelson
(Dragon Gods, #1)
Publication date: June 19th 2017
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult

Frayka must find and convince the dragon gods of the Far East to appease the gods of her Northland heritage. If she fails, her own Northlander gods will destroy all the mortals who once promised to worship them.

The Far East is a mysterious place of legend to Northlanders like Frayka. Only an old map can show her how to get there. Once she arrives, all of Frayka’s sensibilities put her in danger. And every dangerous turn delays her from finding the dragon gods whose help she so desperately needs.

Although Frayka looks like a Far Easterner, she is a powerful Northlander warrior who is quick to voice her thoughts. She is trained to fight and won’t hesitate to do so.

But everything about Frayka puts her in deadly peril in the Far East, where the laws are strict and the punishment cruel.

Especially when the one being punished is a woman.

Goodreads / Amazon

CHAPTER 1:

How did my life become so turbulent?

As the pale blue and pink light foretold the dawn of a new day, Frayka walked the narrow length of the Northlander ship, a long and sleek vessel that looked like a sea dragon slicing through the choppy ocean waves. The oars piled on the center of the deck rattled against each other. The scent of fish and brine permeated the air. The taste of salt in the air gave her a thirst that seemed impossible to quench. Frayka focused on the horizon instead.

She approached the rail and leaned on it, barely noticing the sound of her sweetheart Njall grunting while he adjusted the sail. After several days at sea, Frayka recognized the coast of her homeland, the Land of Ice, in the distance ahead. But instead of filling her heart with happiness or even meager content, the sight made her stomach twist into knots.

All her life, Frayka had given no thought to the fact that she looked like no other Northlander. Everyone in her homeland—including her own family—stood tall with long blond hair and blue eyes. While Frayka stood as tall as any Northlander woman, she inherited her looks from her father’s grandmother, a woman from the Far East who must have died many years ago.

Although Frayka’s skin looked similar to everyone else’s during the winter months, too much exposure to the sun simply turned Frayka’s skin a golden brown while the skin of all other Northlanders burned bright red. And her long black hair, straight as rain, made her stand out, as well as her dark brown eyes.

Njall joined her side and draped an arm across her shoulders. “Home at last.”

Exhausted from the journey and lost in worry about the days ahead, Frayka didn’t respond.

Njall squeezed her shoulder. “Why so glum?”

“No one told me I’d be meeting a Northlander god,” Frayka said. “I’m still reeling from what the All-Father told me.”

Weeks ago, a shaman led Frayka to the ethereal world of the gods. The god of all Northlander gods—the All-Father—singled out Frayka because she dared to live as a Northlander despite her Far Eastern looks.

To appease the anger of all Northlander gods, the All-Father tasked Frayka with the duty of finding the dragon gods of the Far East. The All-Father told Frayka she then must figure out how to make peace between those dragon gods and the Northlander gods. If Frayka failed, the Northlander gods would kill her.

Why did all gods have to act so foolish and petty?

Why should it be her problem that Northlanders had once worshipped the dragon gods instead of their own gods?

Why should the Northlander gods involve her just because they felt angry and rejected by the mortals who adopted the dragon gods in their absence?

Frayka knew the dragon gods destroyed the Northlands and surrounding countries, even though she’d been an infant at the time. The full blame for that destruction fell on the true Northlander gods, who were enraged first for being ignored and then for being faulted for something they didn’t do.

Why should I care that mortals blame the Northlander gods for the sins of the dragon gods?

The task given to Frayka by the Northlander gods overwhelmed her. Frayka wished she could crawl below deck, curl up in a corner, and sleep until her life felt normal again.

But Northlanders never talked of such feelings. If Frayka admitted to any of them, she would appear weak in Njall’s eyes. He loved her because of her strength and courage. And right now, only Njall knew about the task she’d been given. If no one else believed her, she’d still have Njall by her side.

I can’t afford to lose him, too.

Njall laughed. “You’re spoiled by your own portents. Welcome to the ordinary world that the rest of us live in.”

Frayka knew Njall was right. Since birth, her portents gave her regular glimpses into the future, something no other Northlander could do. She’d known for years that Njall would someday marry her, and her faith never waived. Years ago, he teased Frayka about her portents. Thinking about those days, she said, “Remember when you used to call me Frayka the Freak?”

“Be fair,” Njall said, failing to hide his shame. “I don’t call you that anymore.” He ran his rough hand against her silky black hair. “Not since I saw you become a brave warrior. Not since you saved my life. Once I tell everyone what you’ve done, everyone will love you as much as I do.” Njall hesitated. “Wait. That’s a terrible idea. Someone might try to marry you before I can.”

“If anyone tries to get between you and me, I’ll kick him in the shins.” Frayka laughed briefly before worry overtook her again. “But it’s not my portents I’m worried about. It’s what the gods want me to do. What I have to do.”

“This isn’t like you. You never worry.”

Frayka cleared her throat, knowing the time to keep secrets had to end. “I had a portent last night after you fell asleep. A portent about the gods.”

His arm tensed. “What kind of portent?”

Frayka looked at the sea. “I saw what will happen if I fail. If I don’t do what the gods ask.” When Njall stayed silent, she continued. “They will kill every Northlander who still survives. They will kill you and me and our families and everyone in the Land of Ice.”

“But your portents,” Njall said. “Sometimes they give you an idea of the future. They’re not always exact.”

“This one was,” Frayka said. “Very exact and very clear. I have to find the dragon gods and figure out how to make peace between them and the Northlander gods. Otherwise, we all die.”

Njall shifted his weight when the ship tilted. “Then let’s fight the Northlander gods. Let’s kill them before they can kill us.”

Frayka shook her head. “You don’t understand. All the stories we heard about gods are lies. Northlanders thought the dragon gods were their gods, but it’s not true. Mortals thought the Northlander gods forced the dragon gods to destroy our homeland, but that’s not true either.” She frowned. “Not entirely. Even if we could find the Northlander gods—which is impossible—it wouldn’t solve anything. The All-Father told me what I have to do, and nothing else will satisfy him.”

Njall wrapped his arms around Frayka and held her close. “You’re not alone, you know,” he said. “You’ve got me, and I’ll walk by your side every step of the way.”

His words comforted Frayka. For a moment she found hope and felt excited about the chance to make a difference in the world. She felt no fear of the danger she might face.

Njall pointed at the coastline, now close enough that Frayka saw its black sandy beaches glitter and sparkle in the sunlight. “We’re home,” Njall said. “Look how beautiful it is.”

Taking his advice, Frayka stared at the waterfalls falling from the high cliffs standing behind the beaches. Pointing, she said, “There’s Blackstone.” The settlement of small stone houses rested a short distance from the shore, and grassy hills stretched behind it. In the far distance, a mountain of ice glinted. “What are we going to tell them about why we left?” Frayka said.

“The truth always strikes me as a good idea,” Njall said.

But the truth would involve stories about Frayka’s portents and gods and strange lands.

“What if they don’t believe me?”

“Be yourself!” Njall said. “This is your home! Your family knows you. Everyone in Blackstone knows you. And I know you, too.”

But I befriended someone who suffered because she looked different. Because she came from a different world than the people she lived with. Because she walked with one foot in each world: the one she came from and the one she lived in.

And if I do what the gods ask me to do, won’t I have to do the same?

“Frayka?” Njall said. “Did you hear me?”

“Of course.” Frayka straightened her spine and drew again on her new-found hope. “Let’s go home.”

Author Bio:

Resa Nelson is the author of the 4-book Dragonslayer series: The Dragonslayer’s Sword (nominated for the Nebula Award, finalist for the EPPIE Award), The Iron Maiden , The Stone of Darkness , and The Dragon’s Egg . Her 4-book Dragonfly series takes place after the Dragonslayer series.

Her standalone novels include the mystery/thrillers All Of Us Were Sophie and Our Lady of the Absolute .

Resa has been selling short stories professionally since 1988. She is a longtime member of SFWA (Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America), and she is a graduate of the Clarion SF Workshop. Resa was the TV/Movie Columnist for Realms of Fantasy magazine for 13 years as well as a regular contributor to SCI FI magazine. She has sold over 200 articles to magazines in the United States and the United Kingdom.

Website / Goodreads / Twitter

 

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Cover Reveal: Dear Bridget by Penelope Ward and Vi Keeland

We are excited to bring you the next cover from New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal Bestselling Authors Penelope Ward & Vi Keeland.

DEAR BRIDGET, I WANT YOU is the next standalone Contemporary Romance Novel from this sensational duo releasing on September 18, 2017!

 

 

Model: Philip Van den Hoogenband – Chadwick Models Melbourne
Photographer: Brian Jamie
Cover designer: Letitia Hasser, RBA Designs

 

 

 

Dear Bridget,

I’m writing this letter because it’s highly doubtful I’ll ever garner the courage to say this to your face.

So, here goes.

We’re totally wrong for each other. You’re the proper single mum with a good head on your shoulders. I’m just the carefree British doctor passing through town and temporarily living in your converted garage until I head back to England.

But here’s the thing… for some bloody reason, I can’t stop thinking about you in very inappropriate ways.

I want you.

The only reason I’m even admitting all of this to you right now is because I don’t believe it’s one-sided. I notice your eyes when you look at me, too. And as crass as I appear when we’re joking around about sex, my attraction to you is not a joke.

So, what’s the purpose of this note? I guess it’s a reminder that we’re adults, that sex is healthy and natural, and that you can find me just through the door past the kitchen. More specifically, it’s to let you know that I’m leaving said door cracked open from now on in case you’d like to visit me in the middle of the night sometime.

No questions asked.

Think about it.

Or don’t.

Whatever you choose.

It’s doubtful I’ll even end up sliding this letter under your door anyway.

–Simon

 

 

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PURCHASE LINKS:

iBooks exclusive ebook pre-order | Amazon paperback

**No Amazon ebook preorder. Will go live on Amazon on release day.

Sign up for Penelope & Vi’s mailing list now and be the first one notified when it goes live!

 

 

 

Penelope Ward is a New York Times, USA Today, and #1 Wall Street Journal Bestselling author of thirteen novels. With over a million books sold, her titles have placed on the New York Times Bestseller list fifteen times. She is the proud mother of a beautiful 12-year-old girl with autism (the inspiration for the character Callie in Gemini) and a 10-year-old boy. Penelope, her husband, and kids reside in Rhode Island.

 

Connect with Penelope Ward

Facebook Fan Group | Facebook | Website |Twitter | Instagram

 

 

 

Author photoVi Keeland is a #1 New York Times Bestselling author. With more than a million books sold, her titles have appeared in over fifty Bestseller lists and are currently translated in twelve languages. She resides in New York with her husband and their three children where she is living out her own happily ever after with the boy she met at age six.

 

Website | Facebook Fan Group | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

 

 

 

Other books from Vi Keeland & Penelope Ward:

Cocky Bastard
Amazon: http://amzn.to/1LfN3fc
iTunes: http://apple.co/1PffE2J
B&N: http://bit.ly/1EjxNpY
Kobo: http://bit.ly/1UxCSUO

Stuck-Up Suit
Amazon: http://amzn.to/1S3LnpZ
iBooks: http://apple.co/1Qbwy57
B&N: http://bit.ly/29vrQhV
Kobo: http:// bit.ly/1RJdUif

Playboy Pilot
Amazon: http://amzn.to/2d5I5rS
iBooks: http://apple.co/1Wb06Cf
Nook: bit.ly/2caXPEK
Kobo: http://bit.ly/2cJDXO1

Other books from Vi Keeland:

Standalone novels

Egomaniac
Amazon: http://smarturl.it/b1gi74
iBooks: http://apple.co/2fIsmvC
B&N: http://smarturl.it/t4ohsv
Kobo: http://smarturl.it/azmhq9

Bossman
Amazon: http://amzn.to/2a8D5B6
iBooks: http://apple.co/25x2jyX
B&N: http://bit.ly/29sL4H2
Kobo: http://bit.ly/29lW19I

The Baller
Amazon: amzn.to/1PBF2hG
iBooks: http://bit.ly/iBooksBaller
B&N: http:// bit.ly/BarnesBaller
Kobo: http:// bit.ly/KoboBaller

Left Behind (A Young Adult Novel)

First Thing I See

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/first-thing-i-see-ms-vi-keeland/1114703332

Life on Stage series (2 standalone books)
Beat
http://www.amazon.com/Beat-Vi-Keeland-ebook/dp/B00ZOMUV12/ http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/beat-vi-keeland/1121715501 https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/beat/id983959123 https://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/beat-5

Throb

https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/throb/id948747986
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/throb-vi-keeland/1121112695
https://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/throb-4

MMA Fighter series (3 standalone books)
Worth the Fight

https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/worth-the-fight/id805540252
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/worth-the-fight-vi-keeland/1117014180
http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/worth-the-fight

Worth the Chance

https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/worth-the-chance/id813714461
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/worth-the-chance-vi-keeland/1118634058
http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/worth-the-chance

Worth Forgiving

https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/worth-forgiving/id906130022?ls=1&mt=11
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/worth-forgiving-vi-keeland/1120173153
http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/worth-forgiving

The Cole Series (2 book serial)
Belong to You

https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/belong-to-you/id639401754
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/belong-to-you-vi-keeland/1114962845
http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/belong-to-you

Made for You

https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/made-for-you/id84550637
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/made-for-you-vi-keeland/1115883225
http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/belong-to-you

Other books from Penelope Ward:

Mack Daddy:
Amazon: http://amzn.to/2kWzE1S
iTunes: http://apple.co/2iNrIPj
B&N: http://hyperurl.co/aiypfj
Kobo: http://hyperurl.co/r3hv19

RoomHate
Amazon: http://amzn.to/1TksrpE
iTunes: http://apple.co/1PgsvE7
B&N: http://bit.ly/1PLGnSL
kobo: http://bit.ly/1POvSnW

Stepbrother Dearest
Amazon http://amzn.to/1mFNMeg
ITunes: http://bit.ly/YER0mT
B&N: http://bit.ly/1taMFjG
kobo: http://bit.ly/1fJaaBs

Neighbor Dearest
Amazon: http://amzn.to/2aS8BPa
iTunes: http://apple.co/29mC6L8
B&N: http://bit.ly/2akQ2aq
Kobo: http://bit.ly/2axt1SY

Sins of Sevin
Amazon: http://amzn.to/1F9tbc3
iTunes: http://apple.co/1K8mzGg
B&N: http://bit.ly/1hTKAKE
kobo: http://bit.ly/1OaGY3D

Jake Undone (Jake #1)
Amazon: http://amzn.to/1dJrHBC
iTunes: http://apple.co/1fJayQ8
B&N: http://bit.ly/1obAwJ6
kobo: http://bit.ly/1SPKl0M

My Skylar
Amazon: http://amzn.to/1obOG2F
iTunes: http://bit.ly/SLNOTR
B&N: http://bit.ly/SLO1qi
kobo: http://bit.ly/1kNrtAB

Jake Understood (Jake #2)
Amazon: http://amzn.to/1GFdves
iTunes: http://apple.co/1DQQwgC
B&N: http://bit.ly/1FwJC0z
kobo: http://bit.ly/1LQ7Fvk

Gemini
Amazon: http://amzn.to/1vgk1SE
iTunes: http://apple.co/1QTaONj
B&N: http://bit.ly/1KfmLHD
kobo: http://bit.ly/1BGJ2wu

Cover Reveal: Southern Nights Series by M. Never

Cover Design: Cover Me Darling, LLC

Release Date: July 18, 2017

 

Synopsis

Kamdyn Ellis is the man.Mr. All-Star athlete and resident bad boy. #7 quarterback on the field, and #1 player off.Every guy at school wants to be him, and every girl at school wants to date him. Well, except Laney Summers that is. The sassy city girl is the only one immune to Kam’s clear blue eyes and arsenal of southern charm. But when a debilitating injury sidelines Kam’s future and ability to play football, it’s Laney who is tasked to be his tutor while he recuperates at home.The chemistry between Kam and Laney is undeniable, and after months of ignoring what’s clearly evident, Laney gives in. Allowing herself one night with Kam, no strings attached, no commitment to speak of. Alone, under the stars, on the fifty-yard line, Kam and Laney set out to discover if what they have is real, or just one steamy southern night.The Southern Nights series is a compilation of three novellas following the story of Kam and Laney, an all-star football player destined for greatness and the sassy city girl who challenges him on every level. This collection is steamy, fun, flirty and full of heart!

Goodreads

Giveaway

One of Five ARC’s for The Southern Nights Series

 

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About the Author

M. Never resides in New York City. When she’s not researching ways to tie up her characters in compromising positions, you can usually find her at the gym kicking the crap out of a punching bag, or eating at some trendy new restaurant.
She has a dependence on sushi, a fetish for boots, and is stalked by a clingy pit bull named Apache.
She is surrounded by family and friends she wouldn’t trade for the world and is a little in love with her readers. The more the merrier. So make sure to say hi!

 

Connect with M. Never

 

Newsletter Sign Up: http://bit.ly/2rS667z

Facebook Author Page: http://bit.ly/2sTlbdq

Facebook Reader Group: http://bit.ly/2rOfcqV

Goodreads Author Page: http://bit.ly/2sQHKAf

Goodreads Reader Group: http://bit.ly/2snbu60

Twitter: http://bit.ly/2sT69oa

Instagram: http://bit.ly/2sxOgbN

Amazon Author Page: http://amzn.to/2tKXh0N

Mind Virus by Charles Kowalski Spotlight

 

 

 

 

AWARD-WINNING DEBUT NOVEL TO BE PUBLISHED BY LITERARY WANDERLUST

Denver, CO, July 1, 2017— Mind Virus, the debut novel from short story author Charles Kowalski, will be published by Literary Wanderlust in summer 2017.  Mind Virus recently won the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers’ Colorado Gold Award.

The story follows Robin Fox, an ex-Army interrogator and current professor of world religions, who is unwillingly drawn back into the ranks of the CIA and FBI when a terror suspect is caught attempting to disperse a deadly virus. Fox reluctantly agrees to help and uncovers an international conspiracy to attack the Vatican. Later, he learns that a deadly sleeper cell is on the move with an agenda the harm the British Royal Family. Fox must go undercover to infiltrate a terrorist organization bent on eradicating all religions, and attempt to defuse the situation before everything he holds dear explodes.

“A fiendishly clever stew of mind games, bioterror, and a new breed of extremist malice. Mind Virus is one heck of a ride,” says Barry Lancet, award-winning author of The Spy Across the Table.

Mind Virus is set for publication on July 1, 2017.

About Charles Kowalski

Charles Kowalski currently divides his time between Japan, where he teaches English at a university, and his family home in Maine.

His previously unpublished debut novel, Mind Virus, won the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers’ Colorado Gold Award and was a finalist for the Adventure Writers’ Competition, the Killer Nashville Claymore Award, and the Pacific Northwest Writers’ Association literary award.

Other novels and short stories by Charles Kowalski:

“Let This Cup Pass From Me” (Finalist, American Fiction Short Story Award (New Rivers Press); Honorable Mention, The Maine Review Short Story Competition)

“Arise, My Love”

“The Evil I Do Not Mean To Do”

Charles can be found at his website, and on Facebook and Twitter (@CharlesKowalski).

About Literary Wanderlust

Literary Wanderlust publishes well-written novels and short story anthologies in the romance, science fiction, fantasy, mystery, and thriller genres, as well as obscure history and research topics. Visit us at www.literarywanderlust.com.

  1. Author Biography

Charles Kowalski is almost as much a citizen of the world as his fictional character, Robin Fox, having lived abroad for over 15 years, visited over 30 countries, and studied over 10 languages. His unpublished debut novel, Mind Virus, won the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers’ Colorado Gold Award and was a finalist for the Adventure Writers’ Competition, the Killer Nashville Claymore Award, and the Pacific Northwest Writers’ Association literary award.

Charles currently divides his time between Japan, where he teaches English at a university, and his family home in Maine.

Mind Virus is scheduled for publication by Literary Wanderlust on July 1, 2017.

Other novels and short stories by Charles Kowalski:

“Let This Cup Pass From Me”

“Arise, My Love”

“The Evil I Do Not Mean To Do”

Charles can be found at his website, and on Facebook and Twitter (@CharlesKowalski).

 

 

 


 

III. Author Photo


 

  1. Book Photo

 


 

  1. Sample Q&A

Can you describe what your book is about in one sentence?

A peace-loving religion professor, striving to atone for his crimes as a military interrogator, must help stop deadly biological attacks on the world’s great pilgrimage sites on their holiest days.

What is the theme of Mind Virus?

Mainly, that the fanaticism that leads to violence can be found anywhere, whether among religious believers or nonbelievers, and the will to seek peace and understanding can also be found anywhere.

How do you develop your plots and characters?

Everything begins with “What if…?” In this case, the question was, “Everyone is always talking about terror in the name of religion; could there be terror in the name of atheism?” From this question flows the rest of the plot and the characters. It was easy to develop Robin Fox; he’s the person I might have been if my life had taken a slightly different turn. As for the other characters, they may be loosely patterned on a real person, or a composite of several. If a minor character doesn’t seem sufficiently well-developed, I ask myself: if I were an actor, how would I play this character? How would I see the story from his or her point of view, since in our own minds, we’re always the central character of any story we appear in?

What was your favorite part of writing Mind Virus?

Following in my protagonist’s footsteps in Israel, Vatican City, and England.

Give us some insight into your main character. What does he do that is special? What are his character flaws?

One reader described Robin Fox as “Indiana Jones meets Sherlock Holmes: brilliant, moral, instinctive, with uncanny powers of perception.” Having seen a great deal of the world as the son of a Foreign Service officer, he is multilingual, culturally adaptable, able to survive in just about any country, but never completely at home anywhere. After his traumatic experience in Iraq, he is passionately committed to peace and nonviolence, to the point where he sometimes hesitates when decisive action may be called for.

If you could spend time with a character from your book, which character would it be? And what would you do during that day?

I would love to spend a day with Robin Fox, listening to his stories about all the places he’s traveled in search of enlightenment—meditating with monks in the Himalayas, whirling with dervishes in Turkey, sweating with shamans in the American Southwest—and asking what conclusions he’s drawn about the beliefs that unite the world’s faith traditions.

Tell us about the conflict in this book. What is at stake for your characters?

There are many layers of conflict. The main one, of course, is the race to stop the villain before he can start a worldwide epidemic. There’s also the undercurrent of tension between Fox and his CIA counterpart, John Adler, and Fox’s anxiety that the more he cooperates, the deeper he’s dragged back into a chapter in his life that he wanted to keep closed forever. And to top it all off, there’s danger to the woman for whom Fox secretly harbors an impossible love.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating Mind Virus?

I learned a great deal about the subtle art of interrogation. Stories of “enhanced interrogation techniques” (a code word for torture) dominated the news during the Iraq War, but the best interrogators would probably dismiss those as crude and ineffective. Good interrogators have to be keen students of psychology and talented actors, capable of improvising themselves into whatever role will help them earn the subject’s trust. Fox summed it up when he reflected, “In any interrogation, the most important questions are the ones that aren’t asked. Who is this person? What does he want most? What does he fear most? Once you know the answers to those, the field is won.”

Mind Virus seems to have some technical aspects that appear to require some expertise or background in the field. How did you come by this information? (Is it in your background, or did you just do research?)

Mind Virus was a very research-intensive book. Very little in my own background prepared me for it, so I read everything I could get my hands on and consulted everyone willing to share their experience and expertise with me.

How do you choose which genre to write in?

I chose the mystery/thriller genre because as long as there’s an unsolved mystery or a looming danger, readers will keep reading, and a great deal of philosophy can be woven into the narrative as long as the action keeps moving along.

What makes your book different from other books in your genre?

Mind Virus isn’t the typical thriller that pits the infallible West, led by the invincible United States, against the dark forces of Islam. It paints the world in more shades of gray (though perhaps not fifty!). And Fox is quite different from the standard-issue action-adventure protagonist; he’s a reluctant hero, tormented by remorse and self-doubt, who always prefers nonviolence over violence when he has a choice.

Of all the characters you have created, which is your favorite and why?

Of course, Robin Fox is my favorite, but his antagonist is a close second. It was great fun to read authors from Nietzsche to Harris and combine the nastiest parts of their philosophies into one monomaniacal psychopath from hell. His appearance may be brief, but he gets some of the best lines in the book.

Tell us about your background. What made you decide to pursue writing?

I’ve been writing stories ever since I learned to write, and finished my first (unpublished) novel at the age of 17. I write fiction because my mind naturally frames things in terms of stories; that’s how I try to make sense of complex issues. I also find that, especially on controversial and polarizing issues, the best way—perhaps the only way—of getting people to see an alternative point of view is through story.

What is your writing process?

I’m a plotter. I can’t start a manuscript without a clear idea of how the story is going to go. Once I have the plot in mind, I write the scenes I’m inspired to write, in no particular order, and often in layers: dialogue first, then narration, and finally description. And of course, however carefully I plan, there are always surprises, and the finished product is never quite what I had envisioned at first. I find that telling a story isn’t like carving wood or stone, it’s more like cultivating a bonsai. You’re not working with a slab of lifeless material but with something living, and you can try to direct it into the shape you want, but you also have to pay attention to the way it naturally grows.

Tell us about the challenges of getting your book published. How did it come about?

It was indeed a challenge. The manuscript won more than its fair share of awards and nominations, and agents and editors found the premise intriguing, but not enough to sign, possibly because they felt the story was too controversial to make it past a risk-averse editorial board. But after dissipating my savings in writers’ conferences, I finally met—on a Twitter pitch fest, of all places—an editor willing to take a leap of faith, Susan Brooks.

What is your favorite genre to read?

I like to read in the genre I like to write in: mysteries and thrillers. I also read a fair bit of middle-grade fantasy these days, since I have a son who’s that age, and I’m working on a project in that genre as well.

What are some of your favorite authors or books?

Of course, I took some inspiration from the big names in the genre, like Lee Child. Tana French showed me it’s possible to write genre fiction with a literary flair. Dan Brown, Daniel Silva, and Jeffrey Small paved the way for thrillers with religious themes. Barry Eisler and Barry Lancet showed me it’s possible for Japan-based authors to produce books with worldwide appeal; I’m hoping the same will prove true even for one who isn’t named Barry! And the list wouldn’t be complete without Leo J. Maloney, who ever since our chance meeting at Killer Nashville has been very generous with his time and expertise and always gave me a dose of encouragement at just the time I needed it.

What other projects are you working on?

I have other Robin Fox novels in the works, the next one set in my adopted homeland of Japan. I’m also working on a standalone thriller featuring an archaeologist who, in the course of an undercover operation to recover artifacts stolen from Iraq, finds evidence that she is descended from an extraterrestrial race tasked with saving humanity from an impending disaster.

Do you have a day job in addition to being a writer? If so, what do you do during the day?

I teach English at a university in Japan. Living abroad adds an extra layer of challenge to the writing process. I often feel somewhat out of touch with contemporary American culture, and research that for a U.S.-based writer would take only a simple trip to the local library, or a call to a local expert, for me requires careful planning and considerable expense. But on the other hand, field research in exotic locations is easier, and living at a distance from my native culture gives me a different perspective from writers who are immersed in it.

What motivates you to write?

50% inspiration and 50% desperation. Sometimes a story appears out of nowhere, grabs hold of me, and won’t let me go until I tell it, and Mind Virus was one such. Also, as a long-term expatriate, writing was also a way for me to maintain a connection with the world I left behind.

Why did you write Mind Virus?

The idea came about in response to the “New Atheist” movement, and the way its icons—Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, David Silverman, the late Christopher Hitchens—proclaim that all the world’s problems would be solved if we could just get rid of religion. Living in a very secular country, I often hear this sentiment echoed, to the point where I began to wonder: What if someone were to carry this idea to its extreme, and decide religion must be eradicated by violent means if necessary? It started out in a satirical, tongue-in-cheek vein, putting atheists in the shoes of Muslims, always under suspicion because of the acts of a few extremists (“Do not, under any circumstances, attempt to carry books by Christopher Hitchens through airport security”), but the more I wrote, the more frighteningly plausible it felt.

Who did you write Mind Virus for (audience)?

Anyone who enjoys a thriller with philosophical underpinnings. People of faith and lovers of peace will identify with Fox most closely, but it was very gratifying to discover that nonbelievers and military veterans also enjoyed the story.

Where can we find you online?

On my website, charleskowalski.com, on Facebook at charles.kowalski.author, or on Twitter at @CharlesKowalski.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Forget what they say about “write what you know.” Write what excites your imagination, and the knowledge you need can be acquired. And if a story grabs hold of you and won’t let go . . . tell it! Pay no attention to the inner voices that say “this is no good” or “no one else will be interested in it.” Believe in yourself, even when it feels like no one else does. To paraphrase Florence Foster Jenkins, people may say you can’t write, but never let it be said that you didn’t write.

What are the most important elements of good writing? According to you, what tools are must-haves for writers?

The writers I most enjoy reading, even in gritty, down-to-earth genres, have a touch of the poet in them; they can create original, evocative images and make words do things they hadn’t known they could. Writing my first novel left me feeling that the most important quality for a writer is empathy, the ability to see the world through the eyes of someone from a vastly different background. Especially, to create engaging villains, you have to see how the world makes sense from their point of view, even if it’s the polar opposite of yours. For me, a good villain is one who makes the reader ask, “If I had the same experience as this person, can I be absolutely sure I wouldn’t have done the same things?” Apart from that, I’ll let W. Somerset Maugham have the last word on this one: “There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.”

Any last thoughts?

I hope you enjoy Mind Virus—and if you do, please help spread it!


 

  1. Book Synopsis

Robin Fox, peace-loving professor of world religions, wants only to leave his dark past as a military interrogator behind him. But when an unknown suspect tries to disperse a deadly virus in downtown Washington, Fox is unwillingly drawn back into the shadowy world of intelligence.

The FBI and CIA automatically suspect Islamic terrorists, but Fox digs deeper to discover the far more frightening truth: a global conspiracy to eradicate all religion from the face of the earth.

From Washington to Jerusalem, from Rome to London, Fox must use all his wits in a perilous race to stop a psychopathic mastermind from unleashing worldwide devastation.

 

 

VII. Sample Chapters

4

WASHINGTON, D.C.

SATURDAY, MARCH 28

The coroner’s report confirmed that Thom had died of cyanide poisoning. The news claimed the top spot on all the networks, and even the BBC gave it airtime, right after a fire in the chapel of Windsor Castle. Thom’s name had clearly been known far beyond the Oberlin College campus.

The president of USAtheists called a press conference. “The murder of Thom DiDio is a tragedy and an outrage. Whether he was killed because of what he believed, or because of whom he loved, is irrelevant. What matters is that the world has lost a great intellect and a great humanitarian, and his blood is on the hands of religious fanatics.”

Fox flinched at the incendiary last line. That’s not how Thom would talk. But if the man needed to lash out, Fox could scarcely blame him.

He and Emily had worked with the FBI to help create a composite sketch, which was now being broadcast regularly on television. But so far, it had yet to yield any leads.

“Any progress with Harpo?” Fox asked once he was back in the incident room at FBI headquarters.

Adler shook his head. “We kept him under observation last night. Gave him a box of books, as you suggested, but he didn’t read any.”

“What did he do?”

“Just lay on his bed.”

“The whole time? You never saw him perform salat?”

“Sorry?”

“Say his prayers facing Mecca?”

“Well, he’s been in a cell without windows. He has no way of knowing what time it is, or which way Mecca is.”

“John, even at Gitmo, we showed the detainees at least that much courtesy. We gave them copies of the Qur’an, a qibla sign to point the way to Mecca, and even played a recording of the adhaan at the proper times.”

Adler shrugged. “If you want, you can take it up with the FBI; this is their turf. Now, the technician has him all hooked up, and they’re waiting for you in the interview room.”

The room held Harpo, Kato, Malika, the technician, Fox, and the extra guard he had requested. The polygraph apparatus, the projector, and a tripod-mounted video camera were crammed into the little space that remained. There was barely room to take a deep breath.

Fox kept a close eye on Harpo, and the readout from the polygraph. Harpo’s breathing was very steady and regular, three seconds in, five seconds out. Fox suspected that he had been trained in ways to “beat the box,” to fool a lie detector.

“Do you speak English?”

Fox watched the readout. It showed no variation in his blood pressure, heart rate, or galvanic skin response, either then or when Malika tried him in Russian and Chechen.

“Are there six people in this room?” This was a control question, to show what his vital signs looked like at baseline, after he was over his initial nervousness.

“Are you an American citizen?” No change in his vitals for that either, nor for the Eastern European equivalents.

“Can you hear me? Testing? One, two, three? Four, five? Six, seven?” Then, with a little extra emphasis: “Eight, eight?”

No variation. That diminished the likelihood that he was a white supremacist. The number 88, if letters were substituted for the numerals, became “HH”—a code for “Heil Hitler.”

“All right, let’s try some names. Do you know A.J. Muste? George Fox? Gene Hoffman?” These were control questions. All those names were peace philosophers, whom Fox thought it highly unlikely that he had ever heard of.

“Venera Goridze?”

No change in the readout. No flicker of recognition on his face.

“Do you realize that if you answer our questions, the prosecutors will be much less likely to ask for the death penalty?”

That finally got to him. The readout showed a slight increase in his vital signs. A normal fear reaction to the threat of death? Or excitement at the prospect of martyrdom?

And they had also established that he understood English. They would have no further need of Malika’s services. It was just as well; the smell of her perfume in that confined space had been a little overpowering.

“You know, it must be awfully boring for you, cooped up in a cell all that time,” Fox continued. “I’ve put together a little video for you. I’m curious to see how you’ll like it.”

He put in a DVD that he had made, a montage of various clips garnered from the Internet. It began with innocuous natural scenes—flowers, mountains, waterfalls—with a background of soothing classical music.

Then came the scenes meant to show his reaction at times of emotional arousal. A battle scene from a movie, with loud explosions and bursts of gunfire. There was a slight rise in his vitals—the startle reflex—but he soon reverted to baseline, and stayed there as the video switched back to the control images.

A clip of a shapely blonde model sliding a gossamer silk robe off her shoulders to reveal her lingerie, and then reaching behind her back to unfasten her brassiere. Fox kept his eyes fixed on the readout, ignoring the stern look he got from Kato and the blush on Malika’s face.

Such an image would usually provoke an involuntary response in any red-blooded young male, but Harpo showed no more reaction than at baseline. Clearly, he was very well trained.

The control images again, this time alternating with others meant to provoke an emotional response. A sermon by the Reverend Hill. A cross being set alight by white-robed Klansmen. A muezzin intoning the call to prayer from a minaret. The second plane crashing into the World Trade Center. A speech by Osama bin Laden. A speech by President Obama, announcing the death of Osama bin Laden.

Then came the part that Fox had wanted extra protection for: a clip from a back-alley YouTube video making a mockery of the prophet Mohammed. For this one, he stepped out of Harpo’s reach, anticipating that he might jump up and attack even if he had to drag the entire polygraph apparatus behind him.

Harpo showed no inclination to move. The readout showed no reaction. If he was indeed a fanatical Muslim, he had a level of mental discipline worthy of a Zen master.

Fox stepped out of Harpo’s field of view again. “All right, we’re done. You can turn it off now,” he told the technician, while gesturing that he should keep it going. “Very interesting, don’t you think? These results indicate…” He put in a dramatic pause, then looked at Harpo and enunciated ominously: “N-S-R.”

Harpo’s shoulders relaxed slightly, and he let out a long breath. It was barely visible when you looked at him, but it showed up on the readout. A well-concealed sigh of relief.

Fox’s suspicions were confirmed. “NSR” meant “No Significant Response,” but there was no way Harpo could know that unless he had studied polygraphy.

Even so, the results were remarkable. The most common technique for beating a lie detector involved focusing on some frightening or exciting image after every question, to cause an artificial jump in the vital signs. The goal was to bring up the baseline, creating so many false positives that the polygrapher would have trouble distinguishing them from significant responses. Harpo had done the opposite, bringing everything down to a level where hardly any reaction was perceptible. How much mental training had he had to undergo in order to do that?

When Harpo had been disconnected and returned to his cell, Fox went back to the conference room to watch the video, together with Kato and Adler. The first time through, Fox kept his eyes on the readout. Neither the Klansmen nor President Obama did anything for Harpo; he appeared to feel no particular animosity or affinity toward either. The most noticeable reactions came with the images of the Reverend Hill’s sermon, the muezzin, and the Twin Towers.

They played the video again, this time concentrating on his face, looking for microexpressions—facial reactions that may be as brief as one twenty-fifth of a second, but are almost impossible to suppress. Harpo was very good at keeping his face impassive, but not perfect. He could have won big at poker but was not quite ready to stand guard at Buckingham Palace. With the Reverend Hill’s sermon, his upper lip curled in a slight but unmistakable expression of scorn.

Fox thought he noticed a very slight microexpression at one point, during the clip mocking Mohammed. It was so unexpected that he thought he must be imagining it, and backed up the video a couple of times to make sure.

“Are you seeing what I’m seeing?” he asked.

“Maybe,” Kato said in a voice that sounded as mystified as he felt. “That looks like Action Unit 12A, neutralized.”

“Which means?” asked Adler.

“A trace contraction, quickly suppressed, of the zygomaticus major and risorius.”

“In English, please?”

“She said,” Fox translated, “that he was hiding a smile.”

 

 

 

5

WASHINGTON, D.C.

SUNDAY, MARCH 29

PALM SUNDAY

The Reverend Hill divided his time between Arlington Bible Church, “ABC,” a megachurch in an affluent Virginia suburb where he served as associate pastor, and the church he had recently founded in a run-down neighborhood in Anacostia, playfully named “Hill City Church.” Fox took the Metro to Anacostia, climbed a staircase masquerading shamelessly as an escalator, and followed the directions from the church’s website.

The faces Fox saw around him were of many hues, but his own was the palest among them. This was unusual. His grandfather had come back from the Pacific Theater with a Filipina bride, and Fox carried enough of her legacy in his face that whichever country he went to, people tended to assume that he was from one of its neighbors. This trait had often come in handy in countries where white visitors were the favorite targets of thieves and con artists, where the prevailing rule was “fair hair, fair skin, fair game.” Even so, he felt conspicuous, and the suspicious stares he drew made him feel that he was somehow trespassing.

The church grounds were surrounded by a brick wall, decorated with an elaborate graffiti mural of Biblical scenes. Fox joined the line at the gate, which extended a good way down the block. He wondered whether the line was always this long, but then saw the reason: two ushers at the gate, in double-breasted suits that were bulky enough, even on their already burly frames, to suggest bulletproof vests underneath. They greeted every arrival with a polite smile and a “Good morning, brother! Good morning, sister!” as they subjected each person’s bag to a thorough inspection.

At how many other churches across America, Fox wondered, would this be happening today? And how far would it escalate? How long would it be before the Department of Homeland Security established a second TSA—a Temple Security Authority, tasked with defending every place of worship in the country?

If Harpo had been hoping to diminish either the size or the enthusiasm of the Reverend Hill’s following, his plan had backfired dramatically. Spacious as it was, the church was filled to capacity with men in suits, women in elegant dresses, and young people in blue jeans and white hoodies silkscreened with wings, a halo, and the words “Hill’s Angels.”

Now that, Fox thought, was just a bit much.

After the service, Fox found the pastor’s office, which took up most of the top floor of the parish hall. The dark wooden walls were covered with banners bearing Scripture verses, and a line of portraits: Frederick Douglass, Martin Luther King, and the Reverend Hill. Evidently, he had already decided on his place in the pantheon.

The Reverend Hill rose from behind the massive desk. “Professor Fox. Thanks for coming.” He had shed his voluminous black robe embellished with strips of Ghanaian kente cloth, and was now wearing a gray suit, wine-colored shirt, and gold cross.

“Thank you for agreeing to meet me, Reverend.” Fox shook his hand. “You must be very busy, and I appreciate your making the time for me.” He looked around. “This is quite impressive, I must say.”

“Well, the Lord has looked with favor on the works of my hands. Please, have a seat.”

“Thank you.” Fox sat down in one of the leather chairs facing the desk. “You’re also associate pastor at Arlington Bible Church, right?”

“That’s right.”

“That sounds like a pretty big job in itself. And yet, you seem to be spending most of your energy these days on this church.”

He nodded and smiled. “ABC would be a thriving church with or without me. But this one…” he spread his hands, “…is my baby.”

“Hence the name, Hill City Church?”

“You know what the Bible says. ‘A city on a hill cannot be hid.’ ”

“ ‘Neither do men light a candle and put it under a bushel,’ ” Fox finished for him. “Can I ask what inspired you to choose this neighborhood for your baby to grow up in?”

“I was born not too far from here, in Washington Highlands. If you’ve seen the church’s website, you probably know my story. I hung with a bad crowd, took some wrong turns, landed in jail. And I probably would have stayed there if my uncle, who was a pastor, hadn’t kept coming to visit me. Thanks to him, I ended up going to college instead. Ever since then, I’ve had a dream of starting a church like this one back in my old neighborhood, hoping that I’ll be able to do for some of the young people here what my uncle did for me.”

“From the looks of things, you’ve been succeeding.”

He nodded. “Our outreach programs…”

“Like Hill’s Angels?”

The Reverend smiled. “Yeah, like that. During the day, they run our after-school programs, make visits and deliveries to shut-ins, that sort of thing. And at night, they go in groups on night patrols. The police tell me that crime in Ward 8 has gone down almost twenty percent since we started that program. You know, Jesus told us to visit the sick and the prisoners, all of that, but I’ve always felt that He’ll be even happier if we can keep people out of the hospital or prison in the first place. Don’t you think so?”

Fox nodded agreement.

“Reverend, I’m sure the FBI has been over this with you already, but can you think of any reason why you might have been targeted? Has anyone been making threats against you lately?”

He replied with a chuckle and a shake of the head. “I could show you a whole drawer full of fan mail. Of course, there are always the skinhead types that have nothing better to do than try to keep the black man down. When I talk about how being born again is the only way to salvation, I hear from the Jews and Catholics. When I talk about marriage and the family, I hear from gay rights groups. But you know what Jesus said, right? ‘Blessed are you, when men shall revile and persecute you, and utter all manner of evil against you falsely for my sake.’ By that standard, I must be the blessedest brother this side of the river!”

They shared a laugh.

“I was interested in your choice of texts this morning,” Fox said. The Reverend Hill had preached on the story of Joseph at the end of Genesis, and how his abduction into slavery at the hands of his brothers was a necessary first step on the road to saving both Egypt and Israel from a devastating famine. “Do you feel like Joseph? What good do you see coming out of this evil?”

He spread his hands. “Well, we can’t answer that question while we’re still prisoners, can we? All we can do is to have faith that it will, someday, somehow.”

Fox nodded, rose, and extended his hand. “Thank you for your time, Reverend. It was a pleasure meeting you.”

“Likewise.”

Fox’s hand was on the doorknob when Hill called after him, “Professor Fox. Any chance that I can see him? The suspect.”

Fox paused. “Why?”

The look Hill gave him over the rims of his glasses said, Do you really have to ask?

“I’ll see what I can arrange,” he promised.

♦♦♦

Thom’s family in Missouri had expressed the hope for a small, quiet funeral, but that proved to be no more possible than bringing him back to life. The ubiquitous “God Hates Fags” brigade, showing detective skills worthy of the FBI, had found out the time and place and shown up at the cemetery, with signs ranging from the wearyingly predictable No tears for queers to a devil gleefully proclaiming Thom is in “H.”

Anticipating them, atheist and gay rights demonstrators had also flocked to the site from as near as St. Louis and as far as Boston. The police erected a barrier between the protestors and counter-protestors, but the tension was palpable, and not just across the line. Relations between the atheist and LGBT camps were not always cordial, and angry words flew even between some on the same side, such as when a couple bearing the signs Homophobia is a sin and Jesus had two dads too passed too close to an atheist whose No God, no hate sign was somewhat belied by his neighbor’s Euthanize Christians.

Watching the drama unfold on CNN, Fox hoped that Thom could at least be laid to rest without bloodshed. But that hope, too, was dashed when the bearer of a sign reading Whoever is without sin, let him cast the first stone sustained a scalp wound as someone on the other side took him up on it.

Fox’s phone rang. He pressed the mute button on the TV remote and picked it up.

“Robin Fox.”

“Mr. Fox, this is Agent Kato. Sorry to bother you on a Sunday. Is this a good time?”

Not remotely. “Sure, go ahead.”

“Mr. Adler just called and said he had some important news. Can you come in?”

Fox looked back at the screen, and switched it off before the chaos got any worse. “I’m on my way.”

He arrived at the Hoover Building to find Kato alone in the conference room. “Evening, Mr. Fox. Sorry to interrupt your day off.”

“That’s all right. You saved me from having to watch Thom DiDio’s funeral become the flashpoint for a second Civil War.” He collapsed into a chair. “And let the record show that I was working today. This morning, I went to Anacostia to interview the Reverend Hill.”

“Really. You actually caught him there? Not fleecing his flock in Arlington, or jetting off to some fundraiser in Beverly Hills?”

“I’m not sure that’s quite fair. Yes, it’s clear that he loves the spotlight, and seems a little more fond of the sound of his own name than you would expect from a spiritual leader. But still, he’s serious about helping his community…”

“Oh, please. He’s branded himself as the miracle man of the mean streets—‘I found Jesus in jail, and look at me now’—but if he’s so serious about this one-man Harlem Renaissance he’s planning for Anacostia, then why isn’t he living there instead of a McMansion in McLean?”

“I take it this touches a nerve with you.”

“I’ve seen his type before. He’s no different from the one who conned my mother out of money that should have gone for my brother’s and my education, and did nothing for her in return except keep her terrified that my father was going to hell. In a way, I suppose I should be grateful to him. Thanks to him, I decided that I’d rather live my life one hundred percent natural, no added fear, no added guilt. And everything I’ve seen since has only confirmed me in that. If there really is a God up there, sitting back and allowing people to do all the things they do to one another, then I’d want to see him indicted as an accessory on about a trillion counts.”

A whistle came from the door. “And I thought the docket was crowded now.”

Fox turned toward Adler. “Evening, John.”

“Am I interrupting a theological discussion?”

“Not exactly. Agent Kato was just debriefing me about my visit to the Reverend Hill’s church this morning.”

“What did you find out?”

Fox gave him a brief recap of the interview. “He said he wants to see Harpo.”

“What for?”

“Presumably, he wants to offer forgiveness.”

“First things first,” said Adler. “We need to figure out who the hell Harpo is and where he’s from, and then start building a case against him. Once he’s been tried and sentenced, then there’ll be plenty of time for pastoral visits. Plenty of time.”

“And I hope,” said Fox, “you’re going to tell us we’ve just come a big step closer to doing that.”

“Would you believe we have? I’ve just gotten word from the Georgian Intelligence Service.” He beat a drum roll on the table. “They’ve caught Venera Goridze.”

Kato and Fox both applauded, and Adler acknowledged it with a theatrical bow. They exchanged high fives all around.

“They got her to admit that…”

“Got her to admit?” Fox suddenly remembered hearing that the Republic of Georgia, despite many vehement denials, was suspected of hosting a “black site,” a secret detention and torture facility for the CIA.

“Do you want to hear this, or don’t you? She freely chose to reveal, if you like, that she had stolen samples of Zagorsk from her old workplace. And last year, she made a little hop across the border to Turkey to make a sale, to someone by the name of Rashid Renclaw. The description she gave matched Harpo on nearly all points: age, height, hair color, eye color. The only difference was that she said he was handsome. But hey, maybe to a sixty-year-old Georgian woman, anyone looks good. And she said he spoke English with a British accent.”

“You don’t look quite as excited as I’d have expected.”

“Well, I’ve told you the good news. The bad news is that so far, we haven’t been able to get anything else on him. Even supposing that the first name is one he gave himself when he converted to Islam, we haven’t been able to track the surname down anywhere. Our best guess is that it’s a shortened form of this Polish name, which I can’t even pronounce.” He showed Fox on a piece of paper: Renclawowicz. “But in any case, no leads on it.”

Kato and Fox headed back into the interview room. Fox noticed that Harpo’s eyes looked less defiant than they had last time, and more dazed, as though he had gone through the night without any sleep. He also saw that some of the hair around his temples had been shaved.

“Good evening, Mr. Renclaw. Or may I call you Rashid?”

He continued to stare dully into the middle distance. Fox’s hopes sank a notch. Either Harpo was too exhausted to show any reaction, or that was not his name.

“Or should I say: Dzien dobry, Pan Renclawowicz?”

He showed no sign of comprehension. It was just as well; that greeting had all but exhausted Fox’s store of Polish.

“How was your trip to Turkey?”

No reaction. Fox’s hope began to evaporate. The We Know All approach was getting them nowhere. Either Harpo had been working hard at perfecting his poker face since their last interview, or nothing Fox was saying struck any chords with him.

Very well, he thought: if this was a case of mistaken identity, he would take it and run with it.

“Did those Syrians bother to tell you what they were planning to do with the sample you sold them?”

He said nothing, but looked slightly puzzled. Understandably so, since Fox had made that up on the spot.

“Or maybe you haven’t heard. You must not get much news in here,” he continued. “This morning, there was an attack during Divine Liturgy at the main Orthodox church in Aleppo. Using—you guessed it—the Zagorsk virus.”

He watched Harpo’s face very closely. Anyone faced with a groundless accusation like this would naturally proclaim his innocence, by facial expression if no other way. But once Harpo’s initial curiosity had passed, he showed no further reaction. Fox’s story was completely improvised, but it seemed to be coming as no surprise to Harpo.

“ISIS claimed responsibility,” he went on, “and Syrian intelligence is very anxious to know who supplied them.” He gave Harpo a hard stare. “What do you think we should tell them?”

Kato laid a hand on Fox’s arm. His mind raced to think of a subtle way to signal to her: Just play along.

She leaned toward him. “You can’t be serious. Threatening him with rendition to Syria?” She said this in a whisper calculated to be overheard, while giving his arm a conspiratorial squeeze. There had been no need to worry about her. She was a seasoned interrogator too.

“Hey, who’s threatening anyone with anything?” he countered. “All they’re asking for is information. Now, of course it’s possible that the two incidents are unconnected. But still, two attacks on Christian worship services, one week apart, both using Zagorsk—does that sound like a coincidence to you?”

This was supposed to be Harpo’s cue to protest: You’re making a mistake! I’m not Rashid Renclaw! I don’t know anything about any Syrians! But he kept his gaze on its accustomed spot on the floor.

“But if he won’t confirm or deny it,” Fox went on, “then all we can do is get back to the Syrians with what we’ve managed to find out on our own. We have a suspect caught trying to disperse Zagorsk at an American prayer rally, and we have Venera Goridze’s admission that she sold a sample to a Rashid Renclaw, who by her description sounds a lot like our boy here. They can make the call themselves.”

Once they were out of the interview room, Kato gave Fox a sidelong glance. “I would never have thought you’d be such a good liar.”

“I guess I should take that as a compliment,” he replied as they entered the conference room. “You’re not such a bad actress yourself. But unfortunately, we’re no further ahead.”

Adler was looking expectantly in their direction as they came through the door. They briefed him. “I’d say it’s a safe bet that Harpo is not Rashid Renclaw,” Fox concluded. “He didn’t even seem to recognize the name.”

Adler heaved a sigh of disappointment. “Well, at least now we have the name of someone else in his network.”

As intelligence went, it was a mixed blessing. It was something, but if Harpo truly had never heard the name before, it meant at least two degrees of separation between him and Renclaw. The network was suddenly starting to look bigger.

“He didn’t look like he had gotten much sleep last night,” Fox added.

“Well, I don’t imagine any of us did.”

“And another thing: Why was he missing hair around his temples?”

“We had the psych team in to give him an evaluation. They had to rule out the possibility that he was catatonic.”

“Rule it out how?”

“Electroconvulsive therapy.”

Fox jumped as though the same treatment had just been administered to him. “Shock treatment? Did they not tell you that plays havoc with a person’s memory? What good is it if we get him to talk, and he’s forgotten everything he’s done?”

“It only affects short-term memory. It’s long-term we’re interested in.”

“John, I’m a little bit unclear about the rules of engagement for HIG, but we haven’t established that Harpo is not an American citizen. If he turns out to be, and it gets out that these…‘enhanced interrogation techniques’ have been used on him, under the supervision of a CIA agent, no less…

Adler waved a hand. “It wasn’t an interrogation technique. It was a psychological diagnostic tool. Now, if it happened to have the unintended side effect of softening him up a little…”

Softening him up. The words opened a door to a long-disused closet in Fox’s brain, releasing a cascade of images and a whiff of a stench that he could perceive as clearly as if it were right there in the room. His stomach contracted at the memory.

“John!” Fox cut him off. “Just so we’re clear, if you’re going to be using torture, by whatever name you choose to call it, I want no part of it.”

“Well, thanks for letting me know. I’ll make sure you don’t have any.”

VIII. Blurbs, Reviews, & Testimonials

“Charles Kowalski takes a frightening idea to its logical (and terrifying) conclusion.  The kind of pulse-pounding, adrenaline-pumping adventure tale that I associate with the best of Clive Cussler, Frederick Forsyth, and Ken Follett.  If this book doesn’t have you flipping pages long into the night, see your doctor.  You may already be dead.”

— Jeff Edwards, bestselling author of Sea of Shadows and Steel Wind Rising

 

“A fast-paced thriller that will keep you breathless and wanting more. Robin Fox is one of the best heroes to come along in quite a while.”

— Leo J. Maloney, author of Termination Orders and Arch Enemy

“A fiendishly clever stew of mind games, bioterror, and a new breed of extremist malice. Mind Virus is one heck of a ride.”

— Barry Lancet, award-winning author of The Spy Across the Table

 

“ ‘Religion is the smallpox of the mind, and I am its Jonas Salk,’ states the evil mastermind who is behind a wave of global terrorist attacks in Mind Virus.  The villain (whose name shall not be revealed here so as not to spoil some of the fun) believes the optimum way to eradicate this virus of the mind is to kill the infected hosts—otherwise known as people of faith.  Enter religious studies teacher and Army veteran Robin Fox, whose job it unwittingly becomes to stop these international attacks and find the person responsible.  His task becomes all the more personal when colleague and friend (or more?) Emily Paxton is kidnapped and held as leverage to get Fox to stop interfering in the terrorist’s plans.

It is no wonder Charles Kowalski won RMFW’s Colorado Gold Award for Mind Virus.  It is a thoroughly researched, thoughtful novel regarding the nature of belief, and how what we believe governs how we treat each other, and in turn, how the way we are treated instructs what we come to believe.  Don’t let words like ‘thoroughly researched’ and ‘thoughtful’ fool you—Mind Virus is also well-plotted, nicely paced, and packed with action.  To wit, Professor Fox survives several attempts on his life, saves the Royal Family from a terrorist attack, and makes it from D.C. to Israel and to London and back during the Passover and Easter holidays.  Not bad for a week’s work.

In Mind Virus, Kowalski skillfully tackles some of the largest issues of our time—namely religion and terrorism and their respective roles in shaping who we are as a global people.  And who we are choosing to become as we move forward.  He adroitly weaves together Bible verses, deadly nerve agents, and the imminent murder of thousands of innocent people to create a brilliant, riveting read.  Hopefully we will see much more from Charles Kowalski in the years to come.”

— Five-Star Review from Colorado Book Review

Cover Reveal: Butcher by Leann Ashers

 

Butcher, the newest addition to the Devil Souls MC series by LeAnn Ashers is releasing August 3rd!

Add to your TBR: http://bit.ly/2jh5mIR

Blurb

He stalked me from the moment he saw me. He watched me day and night.

Butcher is what everyone calls crazy. They see all the tattoos and scars and to be honest, to most people he looks downright scary. He’s dangerous. He is after all the enforcer to the Devil Souls MC.

But to me? He’s just Butcher. I see him. I see who he really is. I see a man who will do anything for the people he cares about. I see the man who will protect and love me above everything else.  

I am just as obsessed with him as he is me. I will die for him and he would kill for me. 

What everyone doesn’t know is I have the same crazy inside of me…

 

Haven’t read this series yet?  

Now is your chance to get caught up!

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iBooks: http://apple.co/2nI6mYo

 

About the Author

LeAnn Asher’s is a blogger turned author who spends her days reading and writing She released her debut novel early 2016, and can’t wait to where this new adventure takes her. LeAnn writes about strong minded females and strong protective males who love their women unconditionally.

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Stonetree Trilogy by Ophelia Bell Book Blitz

Stonetree Trilogy
Ophelia Bell
(Black Mountain Bears #1-3)
Publication date: August 29th 2016
Genres: Adult, Paranormal, Romance

Gaia save the Queen…

Emma Stonetree’s father is missing. Worse yet, her uncle’s gone too, leaving her and her two cousins, Jasper and Jade, floundering for an explanation.

All Emma can think of are their fathers’ stories—tall tales of magic, mystery, and a whole host of shifter races. Stories she might not have believed, if not for her own research into the matter—research that hardly prepares her for the trials of magic she and her cousins will endure as they set off that Midwinter’s night to discover their roots.

Nor does it prepare the three for what they find on the other side of the mystical portal their fathers disappeared into: the ursa, a fertility-focused race of bear shifters, with customs that defy their human sensibilities. Except the trio swiftly learn they aren’t really human either, and once inside the ursa Sanctuary, they are just as bound by ursa laws as the earth is bound by the seasons.

Emma and her cousins must make a choice: accept their legacies as ursa royalty, accept the love they find inside the sanctuary, or reject their passions and retreat to their safe, mundane lives, never to return to the realm they were meant to inherit.

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99¢ for a limited time only!

EXCERPT:

“Where am I now?”

“In the Sanctuary, Princess,” Green-Eyes said.

She sat up, scrubbing her hands over her face, then raked her fingers through her tangled hair. A warm breeze blew through, tickling across her skin, the sensation way too pleasant and intimate. She shivered, glancing down her body and realizing she wasn’t wearing a stitch of clothing. Her stomach lurched, her entire body growing intensely warm at the realization she was buck naked. She immediately clutched her knees to her chest and looked wildly around.

“Where the fuck are my clothes?”

Brown-Eyes chuckled. “You left quite the trail of breadcrumbs. It was fun watching the striptease you gave us on the way in.” He let out a pleased sigh. “Gorgeous, really.”

Emma stared at him, shocked at the appraising look he gave her and uncertain whether she should be offended or flattered. At least until she gave him a once-over and realized he was just as au naturel as she was. She raised an eyebrow, then turned to look at her other new companion. Yep. Green-Eyes was as bare as a newborn. He was also definitely all hard-bodied man and not the least bit shy about it.

Seeing his naked body made her forget about her own. How in the world could a man so perfect actually exist? So perfectly messy, really. His brown hair was short, but a little shaggy, sticking out in all directions like he’d worried it over and over. He was well-muscled without being bulky, with a long, lean torso, his chest covered in a luxuriant layer of hair. Just enough to make her want to run her fingers down his chest and stomach, but not so thick that she’d think of him as actually furry. The hair tapered past his navel, the natural growth a kind of arrow pointing southward, and her eyes followed.

A throat cleared, but Emma found it difficult to tear her eyes away from the slumbering beast that was nestled between the man’s legs. Jesus, he wasn’t even hard and he was that big?

“See something you like, Princess?”

Um, everything?

 

Author Bio:

Ophelia Bell loves a good bad-boy and especially strong women in her stories. Women who aren’t apologetic about enjoying sex and bad boys who don’t mind being with a woman who’s in charge, at least on the surface, because pretty much anything goes in the bedroom.

Ophelia grew up on a rural farm in North Carolina and now lives in Los Angeles with her own tattooed bad-boy husband and four attention-whoring cats.

If you’d like to receive regular updates on Ophelia’s publications, freebies, and discounts, please subscribe to her mailing list: http://opheliabell.com/subscribe/

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Cover Reveal: Turned BY A Tiger by Felicity Heaton

 

Turned by a Tiger (Eternal Mates Paranormal Romance Series Book 12) by Felicity Heaton – Cover Reveal

Turned by a Tiger (Eternal Mates Romance Series Book 12)
Felicity Heaton
On the verge of bleeding out and hunted by his merciless torturers, Talon has no choice but to seek sanctuary at Underworld, a nightclub run by a jaguar shifter liable to kill him on sight for being a tiger shifter male. What he finds in the old warehouse isn’t the grim shadow of Death though but an angel of mercy, one who offers him salvation and revenge—one who happens to be his fated mate.

Tending bar at Underworld is never dull when you’re a mortal surrounded by immortals, but when a gorgeous tiger shifter covered in blood stumbles into the club, and set’s fire to her boss’s temper, Sherry’s entire world is in danger of being turned on its head. Something about the mysterious warrior has her stepping in to save him, something that ignites her heart and stirs her soul, and no matter how fiercely she fights it, she can’t hold herself back.

When Talon reveals the name of his captors, and his plan to head back in to save his friends, will Sherry be brave enough to embrace the feelings he stirs in her and step deeper into the world of immortals? And will Talon be strong enough to resist the lure of Sherry to protect his family’s secret or will he risk everything to claim his eternal mate?

 

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The special sneak preview for Turned by a Tiger begins on June 25th, exclusive to Felicity’s mailing list. Every subscriber is entered into the giveaway to win a signed personalised paperback copy of Turned by a Tiger, with a chance to win a copy in each of the three exclusive sneak peek chapters being sent out on the 25th, 27th and 29th.

Not only will joining her mailing list ensure you’re in with a chance of winning one of the signed copies of Turned by a Tiger, it means you’ll start receiving her newsletters, where she gives away 2 x $25 Amazon Gift Cards in each issue, and rewards subscribers with exclusive excerpts, teasers, flash fiction and cover reveals, and plenty of fun! Plus, you’ll receive FOUR FREE EBOOKS in her Series Starter Library just for signing up!

Join her newsletter at:  http://www.felicityheaton.co.uk/newsletter.php

 

Sherry knew the appeal of the no-strings-attached style of relationship, normally went in for that herself.

So why did the thought of a roll in the hay with Talon followed by a kiss goodbye leave her cold?

She busied herself with the coffee maker while Talon prowled around the small kitchen, taking up far too much space and making it impossible for her to pretend he wasn’t there and get her head straight.

And her heart.

She blamed it for her sudden desire to have more than a one night stand with a hot guy.

“Milk, Tony?” She poured two mugs of coffee.

He froze with his head in the refrigerator, withdrew and slowly turned towards her, the scowl back in place.

His deep voice rolled through the room, curled around her and did wicked things to her body.

“Talon,” he said with determination, with a hard edge that was both a demand and a command, one that thrilled her as she imagined him ordering her around in the bedroom in that same voice. “Talon. Say it.”

A sudden onset of nerves swept through her as she looked into his hard amber eyes, looked at him for all that he was, and realised that if she said his name, the flimsy barrier she had tried to construct between them by avoiding using it would fall.

Leaving her exposed.

He straightened to his full height, towering over her, at least the same height as Kyter’s six-five. Talon was broader though, heavy with muscle, cutting an imposing figure as he stared her down, silently demanding she do as he wanted.

“Tiger,” she blurted and went to face the coffee mugs again.

Talon moved in a blur of speed, suddenly pressed right against her, and had her cheek in his palm again, bringing her head back around to face his.

“Talon.” His tone could have made diamonds it was so hard, so sharp and pressing.

She swallowed hard, trembling from head to toe as she drowned in his amber eyes, watching the gold shimmering among the amber.

Her mouth turned dry.

She swept her tongue across her lips to wet them.

His gaze fell there, grew hungry and heated, and turned the fire up inside her.

“Talon,” she whispered.

His eyes shot to hers.

His throat worked on a hard swallow.

“Dear gods,” he muttered and just as quickly as he had closed the distance between them, he opened it up again, disappearing into the living room.

She stared at where he had been, reeling from the suddenness of his disappearance, and how shocked he had sounded. How pained.

What the ever living fuck?

 

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Book 1: Kissed by a Dark Prince (Only 99c at all retailers!)
Book 2: Claimed by a Demon King
Book 3: Tempted by a Rogue Prince
Book 4: Hunted by a Jaguar
Book 5: Craved by an Alpha
Book 6: Bitten by a Hellcat
Book 7: Taken by a Dragon
Book 8: Marked by an Assassin
Book 9: Possessed by a Dark Warrior
Book 10: Awakened by a Demoness
Book 11: Haunted by the King of Death

 

Felicity Heaton is a New York Times and USA Today international best-selling author writing passionate paranormal romance books. In her books, she creates detailed worlds, twisting plots, mind-blowing action, intense emotion and heart-stopping romances with leading men that vary from dark deadly vampires to sexy shape-shifters and wicked werewolves, to sinful angels and hot demons! If you’re a fan of paranormal romance authors Lara Adrian, J R Ward, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Gena Showalter and Christine Feehan then you will enjoy her books too.

If you love your angels a little dark and wicked, the best-selling Her Angel series is for you. If you like strong, powerful, and dark vampires then try the Vampires Realm series or any of her stand-alone vampire romance books. If you’re looking for vampire romances that are sinful, passionate and erotic then try the best-selling Vampire Erotic Theatre series. Or if you prefer huge detailed worlds filled with hot-blooded alpha males in every species, from elves to demons to dragons to shifters and angels, then take a look at the new Eternal Mates series.

If you want to know more about Felicity, or want to get in touch, you can find her at the following places:

WEBSITE | BLOG | FACEBOOK | TWITTER | GOODREADS | INSTAGRAM