#Excerpt “The Pepper Tree” by Dave Freedland


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Thriller, Mystery, Police Procedural

 

 

Publisher: Aakenbaaken & Kent

 

 

A Southern California landmark primarily known only to law enforcement earned a reputation for crime scenes of the most unspeakably vicious homicides. Infamous serial killers had chosen this location to discard and display their victims as trophies of their horrific deeds. Lieutenant Scott Hunter must lead a team of detectives to identify and capture a perpetrator who’s targeting young women, and has chosen this landmark to showcase his victims.

This story is a work of fiction, but the Orange County location is real. So notorious, in fact, that those officers working the graveyard shift need only radio their activity at a site bearing two words, and they are immediately dispatched a back-up officer to the “pepper tree.”

As a young patrol officer, Hunter had been introduced to the “terror at the tree” on an evening when he turned his police cruiser down that dusty road separating asparagus fields, and discovered a corpse hanging from a low-hanging limb. But now as the leader of the Robbery/Homicide team, he received that most dreaded call interrupting the stillness of the night, a body dump.

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EXCERPT

Chapter 1

Like the mast of a majestic clipper ship rising vertically through the horizon, the trunk and its heavily leaved branches interrupted the monotonous plane of the two-lane roadway. Interstate 405 ran parallel to Barranca Road, giving motorists driving northbound from Sand Canyon to Jeffrey Road an expansive view of the tree and its surroundings. Bordered by asparagus fields, Barranca was seldom traveled, but the pepper tree announced its presence, and the density of its foliage shielded the most unspeakable of crimes.

By day the tree was odd; almost enigmatic. Why one, rather than a row? By night, it was an ominous adversary; in particular, to the officers of the graveyard shift. Most activities observed were cars with fogged windows, or simply the impromptu beer bust. But for the serial killer, it seemed to be a magnet that hypnotically drew the perpetrator toward the culminating acts of his horrific crime. It was the kind of place training officers, would admonish trainees to pay particular attention to possible ambush, proper illumination, and the avoidance of passing in front of spotlights, and backlighting you as a target.

This evening was going to prove to be the very thing about which Officer Jim Janowitz had been warned. When his flashlight revealed the woman’s leg, the history of this site flashed before him within a millisecond. Serial killer Randy Kraft had been convicted for the murder of a man whose body had been dumped at this very spot. The newspapers had sensationalized the crime by sharing that a four-foot twig had been stuffed into the victim’s body cavity. Two months prior to the discovery of Kraft’s crime, Gerald Shill had chosen this tree to dispose of a prostitute he had shot to death. Now this.

Janowitz hit the high beams and directed his driver side spotlight across the hood of his cruiser, while with shaking hands he radioed for back-up.

The spotlight illuminated her entire body from feet toward the crown of her head, as she lay prone, and nude from the waist down. Her dark hair, draped over the shoulders of a blue long-sleeved blouse, was matted with blood that sparkled from the beams of light projecting from the idling patrol car. With his flashlight in his left hand, he got out of the patrol car leaving the door ajar.

As he awaited the arrival of what would soon become a busy crime scene, Janowitz surveyed the open field leading from the tree to the freeway, straining to see any signs of human shadows that might have fled upon discovering the approaching sedan bearing an overhead light bar. He rounded the trunk and ducked below the flashing amber caution light, carefully stepping toward the body, scanning for threats, while trying to avoid trampling evidence. He swept the immediate perimeter ensuring there was no further danger, and checked the victim to confirm that she was, in fact, deceased.

The familiar roar of an accelerating V-8, signaled to him that help was on the way in the form of the Area 4 car, manned by Officer Karl Peterson.

As Peterson’s cruiser approached from the north, he could see the tree awash in the lights beaming from his partner’s patrol car. The scene appeared surreal – a pale, mannequin-like figure lying face down in the dirt, at the base of a huge tree, with a slender uniformed officer standing over the body.

You call a supervisor?”

I phoned Austin. I heard him radio that he was Code 7 (meal) at Denny’s and figured he didn’t hear my call; the reception’s so bad there,” Janowitz responded, gesturing with his cell phone.

Let’s get a unit to block Barranca at Sand Canyon, and another to block it off at Jeffrey. I’ll call it in, and you can start setting up a cone pattern for the crime scene.”

Roger, that.”

Austin can make the call for the homicide team.”

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Sergeant Richard Austin’s supervisor’s unit lumbered down the potholed, graveled asphalt of Barranca Road. The 20-year veteran was in a sour mood. Although he was the senior supervisor in Patrol, he was forced by policy to rotate onto graveyards for a three-month stint, and he had just sat down for dinner when this dead body call came out. He had a feeling that he would be standing a long time, and his back would be smarting from the weight of his Sam Browne gun belt. It was day three of his 4-day work week, and it looked as if his uniform wouldn’t make it to day four before needing dry cleaning. Austin slowly strode from his unit toward Janowitz after glancing at the body.

Are you sure she’s dead?”

I checked carotid, no pulse. I looked for lividity, and saw signs of blood pooling on the exposed extremities – knees, thighs…”

This is Irvine, Janowitz, America’s safest city; we generally frown on this type of activity.” Austin responded sarcastically.

The sergeant then began to approach the body, tracking across the dirt shoulder of the road.

Sarge, careful, there’re some footprints around her that aren’t mine.”

I’ve handled more dead bodies than you’ve taken petty theft reports Junior.”

Janowitz hoped Austin’s bluster was compensation for the sobering scene that lay before them. Viewing bodies was, unfortunately, part of the job, but what appeared to be a beautiful girl being discarded at the foot of this tree seemed, well, monstrous.

Austin reached over and separated several strands of the victim’s dark brown hair glued together with dried blood, revealing what appeared to be an entry wound.

Well, Janowitz, looks like this young lady has a bullet hole in her skull. I’ll call Homicide.”

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About the Author

 

Dave Freedland is a 34-year decorated law enforcement professional having served with the Irvine (California) Police Department. Following a competitive athletic career culminating with the award of “UCLA’s Most Valuable Gymnast,” he graduated 1st in his Sheriff’s academy class. As a SWAT team leader and commander for over 25 years, he supervised operations for numerous barricade and hostage incidents, and was the recipient of several awards including “Police Officer of the Year” and the “Meritorious Service Award.” He retired at the rank of Deputy Chief, and currently holds a 6th degree black belt in Japanese Shotokan karate. His first novel, Lincoln 9, was Oak Tree Press’ best-selling book on Amazon in 2015. His second novel, The Pepper Tree, published by Aakenbaaken & Kent, received a 2018 manuscript award from the Public Safety Writers’ Association.

 

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#BookBlitz “Anguished (A JD Pickens Mystery, Book Four)” by George Encizo

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A JD Pickens Mystery, Book Four

Mystery

Published: June 2021

Publisher: Gatekeeper Press

Murder and mayhem hit close to home for Sheriff JD Pickens. Someone viciously attacked his father from behind, and his best friend, Leroy Jones, was shot in the back and left for dead. Several other attacks forced Pickens to seek outside help, not only for solving the crimes but for his peace of mind. Never before had Pickens and his deputies had to deal with so many harsh realities of life.

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Other Book in the JD Pickens Mystery Series:

Descent Into Hell

JD Pickens Mysteries, Book 1

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Murder on Grange Road

JD Pickens Mysteries, Book 2

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Murder Knows No Boundaries

JD Pickens Mysteries, Book 3

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About the Author

George Encizo is an award-winning author and has written seven novels. Encizo is a retired banker and lives in Tallahassee, Florida. When not writing, he enjoys a cup of coffee on the back porch with his wife communing with nature.

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#BookBlitz “Key West Dead (A Jake Wolfe Novel)” by Mark Nolan

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Mystery-thriller and romantic suspense

 

 

Date Published: 03-31-2018

 

 

A beach wedding, with a hidden explosive device waiting to murder the newlyweds.

A kidnapped teenaged girl, strapped with an IED vest that turns her into a suicide bomber.

A former Marine and his girlfriend, along with their trained K-9, who volunteer to hunt for the bomb-maker.

There is trouble in paradise at Margaritaville Resort, where Jake and Sarah try moving in and living together for the first time to see how it goes. Suddenly they have far more than just their progressing relationship on the line. Now their very lives are at stake.

When a murderer begins threatening his friends, Jake vows to hunt him down and stop his crime spree. He and his former war dog, Cody, are soon following the twisted trail of an elusive bomb-maker whose explosive devices are wreaking havoc among the Florida Keys residents and tourists.

The killer is not amused by their interference in his plans, and he soon adds Jake, Sarah, and Cody to his list of targets.

With the islands under constant attack and everybody a suspect, the chase is on in a race against time, as the clock keeps ticking down toward a final heart-stopping confrontation that will bring the trio of Jake, Sarah and Cody face-to-face with death.

Will Cody’s trained nose be able to hunt down the criminal in time, so Jake can stop his bombing spree before he detonates “the big one?” And will Jake and Sarah’s relationship survive their life-threatening ordeal so they can sail away together to sunny islands? Read Key West Dead to find out what happens next.

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About the Author

Mark Nolan is the Amazon Bestselling Author of the Jake Wolfe Series. Subscribe to his reader newsletter at marknolan.com for updates, specials, giveaways, and news.

 

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#BookBlitz “Empire City: No Woman’s Land” by George Valvis

EmpireCity copy

Welcome to the book blitz for Empire City: No Woman’s Land! Read on for more details and stay tuned for the blog tour the week of August 23rd!

EmpireCity_1bEmpire City (The Empire City Trilogy)

Publication Date: February 2021

Genre: Dystopian

What Would Life Be Like If Women Were Banished From the World?

It is the year 2206.

All that remains of the world are the Americas. Empire city has banished all women for three generations now and men have absolute control, using female synthetics as companions/servants.

After graduating from the Academy of Justice, Jason Brown, a charismatic hover jet bike racer and the future leader of the city, has to complete his Crii, a mandatory trip of self-awareness in the wildlands beyond the walls of the city for 100 days.

The unexpected events that take place on this trip alter his perception of the world and he is now faced with an impossible dilemma.

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About the Author

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George Valvis is an adventurer/entrepreneur/sports enthusiast, turned writer in order to give the world this epic trilogy and much more.

Growing up on a farm by the river Nile, he learned from a young age to live without fear and to respect nature. After completing his International Business & Management Master’s degree in England, he joined the army, jumped off planes, dived to the depths of the ocean, raced stand up Jet skis, traveled the world for business purposes and started a family. His passion for technology, adventure and the future is evident in his books. Having a deep knowledge of ancient mythology, literature and history, combined with his adventurous nature and personal life experiences, enabled him to write these uniquely original stories

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#BookBlitz “Everybody Has a Story… These Are Ours…” by Audrey N. Lewis

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Fiction/Short Stories

 

Date Published: May 23, 2015

Publisher: Pressing On Press, Inc

 

 

This amazing collection pulls together seven independent stories, weaving them into a compelling, thought-provoking collection. Family relationships and friendships. Finding out place. This series of narratives explores events, experiences and memories. While focusing on the women (mother, sister, daughter and wife) — the men in the stories (father, brother, son and husband) provide intriguing counterpoints.

Lexi’s mom struggles to understand her daughter. Abigail, now grown, remembers her nanny Chamele and the life lessons she shared. Claire, the empty-nester and her “girls night out” group has an unusual twist. Then Megan – lost but not forgotten. In each story, you will find, nothing is exactly as it seems.

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About the Author

 

Audrey N. Lewis is the award winning author of Everybody has a story… These are ours…, a collection of seven short stories. Additionally, she has had several short stories and poems published in Short Story Town, Weird Mask Magazine, Evolving, and Cephalopress, Active Muse and Dissident Voice.

She is a mother, friend, daughter, wife. She is a dreamer who has climbed mountains, camped out on billboards in Times Square, and spent 23 years volunteering as the founder and executive director of a not-for-profit. She creates fairy houses and dream catchers. She weaves stories that address everyday life events in not-so-typical ways, making readers question, “what if.” She is the square in a box of circles. A rule-breaker, a risk-taker, and a giver.

 

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#BookBlitz “Blind Pony: As True A Story As I Can Tell” by Samantha Hart

BlindPony

All that glitters is not gold… Get an inside look at the darker side of the entertainment industry and the life of Samantha Hart in Blind Pony.

56303766Blind Pony

Publication Date: March 15th, 2021

Genre: Memoir/ Biography

When your mother names you after your father’s affair, you might wish you were living someone else’s life.

For Samantha Hart, growing up on a farm in rural Pennsylvania had been no childhood idyll but rather a violent, surreal nightmare. A twisted vision of pastoral life part Faulkner part Dante. At fourteen years old, she ran away in search of her father, a character she only knew as Wild Bill. Discovering he wasn’t the hero she dreamt he’d be, she was on her own.

Arriving in Los Angeles at the peak of LA’s decadence where money, drugs, and good times flowed, she floated through a strange new world of champagne-soaked parties, high-stakes backgammon tournaments, and a whirlwind of international escapades flogging nude photographs. When a wealthy playboy mistakes her Pittsburgh accent for being British, it begins a spiral of white lies leading Sam to question everything she thought she knew about herself and who she could be.

Blind Pony is a story of healing and hope, a coming of age narrative intersecting themes of recovery, redemption, forgiveness, and the struggle it takes to define life on your terms.

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Excerpt

”A FAREWELL TO THE FARM”

I opened the door to the barn with a bit of trepidation. The smells that once pervaded my senses—new-mown hay, leather, and living animals—had turned to a dank, musty odor. I held Vignette’s hand as we stepped carefully past the empty stalls, ready for something sinister to jump out at any moment. We ventured toward a stable in the back, and above us was the plaque I carved with a wood burner, the name “Misty.” Misty was born when I was eight years old and was the offspring of my beloved pony, Princess.

“Follow me.” I darted up the narrow wooden stairs. Vignette stayed close on my heels as we headed to my grandfather’s abandoned workshop to rummage around for something to pry off the sign. The remnants of a moonshine distillery sat cloaked in dust in an open cabinet, and as I breathed in the musky air, I could feel my grandfather’s presence and hear the nasty whistling sound he made when he was coming for me.

“Mommy, are you crying?”

“No, honey, got some dust in my eyes. Let’s get out of here.”

I grabbed the crowbar, intent on rescuing Misty’s sign. It was a relic from my childhood, and I was unwilling to leave it to the wrecking ball.

“So, Misty was your pony, Mommy?”

“No, but she was my pony Princess’ baby, just like you are my baby. That’s why I got to name her and made this sign for her. Look, I have a scar on my finger where I burned myself making that sign.”

“That must have hurt. I love you, Mommy.”

“I love you, too.” Equal measures of joy and sorrow overwhelmed me, conjured by a place I thought I would never see again. We traipsed outside so I could stow the plaque inside the car, and Vignette spotted an old tractor.

“Look at this cool tractor, Mommy! Can I climb on it?”

“Yes, but be careful,” I said. My mind drifted. I could almost hear the chatter between my sisters and me as we saddled up at the corral to take our horses out for trail rides.

Princess was blind in one eye, so she kept a slower pace than the other horses as we galloped up past the oil rig with its rhythmic chugging and stench of old black oil. The sound of thundering hoofs would ring in my ears, and by the time we reached the top of Gobbler’s Knob, the view would be invisible through the thick cloud of dust, and I’d be as blind as Princess.

The past was so vivid, I almost forgot I wanted to capture this moment with Vignette. As I went back to the car to retrieve my camera, the familiar sound of the gravel crunching beneath my feet unspooled memories of a story my mother had repeated to me throughout my childhood.

Late one night, Bill Butter pulled into the gravel driveway well past midnight. Dean Martin’s just-released record “Volare” blared over the car radio. Bill continued his drunken crooning after turning off the ignition,

though, in his stupor, he left the headlights on. My mother, Clara, peered out the upstairs window to see her husband silhouetted by the car’s lights, stumbling up the stone path, cigarette dangling from his mouth, and a bottle of whiskey clutched in his hand. Annoyed and embarrassed by his returning from these late-night trysts with other women, which had become too frequent, she climbed back into bed, pretending to be asleep, and got tangled up in her oversized flannel nightgown.

A gust of frosty Pennsylvania wind followed Bill up the stairs to the bedroom. He pulled his pants down just far enough to expose his stiffened penis, then threw himself on top of his wife while endeavoring, with frustration, to unravel the nightgown.

Clara realized her best option for keeping their small children from waking was to make way for the inevitable drunken thrust between her naked thighs. When he found his way to an orgasm, he hollered out the name of his current mistress, Pammy Sue, and unceremoniously deposited the seed that would grow into a girl destined to be nothing but trouble. The first sign of said trouble began the very next morning with a dead car battery.

Nine months later, my mother gave birth to her fourth child on the first day of fall. Dad thought I would be a boy, and he named me Sam. Maybe he hoped I would be a boy so he could stop hearing about Pammy Sue. As luck would have it, he pulled four aces. I was his fourth daughter.

My mother’s frozen heart determined to immortalize her husband’s infidelity and spelled it out on the birth certificate. But for as long as I knew my dad, he never called me by any other name but Sam. I always thought the name suited me. My mother prodded me so often with the reason my name was Pammy that my official name repulsed me.

Vignette tugged on my sleeve and snapped me back to reality. “Mommy, mommy, can we go now? I’m hungry,” she moaned. “Me too,” I said, and we went back into the car. I threw my camera on the back seat along with the “Misty” sign, figuring I had enough memories of the place. Nothing could change what happened here.

As my daughter and I drove down Clever Road, I glanced back at the old farmhouse in the rearview mirror one last time. It would soon disappear forever, along with the lilac and forsythia bushes and delicate lilies of the valley that poked through the spring thaw each year. The springhouse and the old maple tree where I hugged my grandmother for the last time would be gone.

But they would live on in my memories, along with many things I wished I could forget

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About the Author

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Samantha Hart’s career has spanned music, film, and advertising, earning her a reputation as an award-winning Creative Director. Her creative marketing campaigns brought prominence and Academy Awards to films such as Fargo, Dead Man Walking, and Boys Don’t Cry while earning cult status for independent features, Dazed and Confused, Four Weddings and A Funeral, and Priscilla Queen of the Desert.

With her partner, Sam built a successful company in the advertising industry, Foundation, with over forty employees and offices in Chicago and Los Angeles. Foundation earned distinction as an early disrupter of the traditional production and post-production models combining the two under one roof.

In 2017, Sam launched Wild Bill Creative which is a creative ideation company working with brand clients, non-profits, and start-ups.

Sam currently lives in Los Angeles with her husband, director James Lipetzky, and their sons, Davis and Denham.

Samantha Hart

Giveaway: Signed Copy of Blind Pony (Canada and US only) Closes July 18th

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#BookBlitz “Standing In My Shadow” by C.S. Arnold

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Mystery

Published: March 2021

Publisher:ReadersMagnet

There was a ‘presence’ in her bedroom that was always welcoming–she felt no terror.

Linda Grainer has been forced to live in boarding schools since she was five years old. Just before her college graduation, she was called home because her father, an archeology professor, was killed in an automobile accident. Her mother had died at her birth, so she was now alone in the world with questions and no one who had answers. The search for her past leads her to explore the western desert with Brett McAllister, her father’s graduate assistant. Linda disappears: and in Brett’s search for her, they discover secrets that they will never be able to reveal. The shadow figure in Linda’s troubling past steps into the light, bringing complications that may make Linda disappear forever. Brett’s love for Linda stands between the evil that wants to take control of her life and her escape to the real world with him.

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About the Author

C. S. Arnold is the author of several children’s books and this is her first novel for young adults. She is married and has two sons, a daughter-in-law, a granddaughters, and twin grandsons. She lives on a farm in Tennessee with her husband, a few black cows, a Cavalier King Charles, and two cats.

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#BookBlitz “Summer” by Lynn Mapp & Janis McCurry

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The Matchmaker Chronicles Duets, Book 1

Chick Lit, Romance, Romantic Comedy, Women’s Fiction

Publisher: Mapp & McCurry LLC

Mothers. Meddling. Matchmaking. What could possibly go wrong?

Best friends Rina Thorn and Maggie Barnes decide it’s time to help their not-even-looking-for-love children find their happily ever afters.

Ander Thorn will do anything for his mother Rina—except get married. But when he collides with his mother’s beautiful home renovator, more than walls come tumbling down. Noelle DeWitt refuses to give into her attraction to the arrogant and aggravating man. At first. Time and proximity chisel her resolve. She falls hard for a commitment-averse Ander, which poses a dilemma because she wants forever.

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Police officer Finn Riley reluctantly agrees to help his neighbor Maggie find a husband for her daughter, Jennifer. After he meets her, Finn puts his name at the top of the soul mate list. Romance is on Jennifer’s backburner until she meets Finn. Their strong attraction seems impossible to ignore until Jennifer discovers he’s been helping her mother in the crazy matchmaking scheme. Can their relationship survive when it began with deception?

Other Books in the Matchmaker Chronicles Duets series:

Autumn

The Matchmaker Chronicles Duets Book 2

Winter

The Matchmaker Chronicles Duets Book 3

Spring

The Matchmaker Chronicles Duets, Book 4

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About the Authors

Lynn Mapp is a daughter, sister, friend, wife, mother, teacher, writer…obviously a multi-faceted diamond, princess cut. Lynn was a navy brat, born in San Diego, California. While she was born in California, her Idaho roots are deep. Her mother and grandfather were Idaho natives. She has always looked for happily ever afters, the light after the darkness. Families and humor are central in her life and her stories.

Janis McCurry – I was born and raised in Boise, Idaho, nestled in the beautiful Treasure Valley. I’ve never wanted to live anywhere else. We have four distinct seasons, mountains, lakes and deserts. My sisters and I were close growing up and we all still live in Boise. I could no more leave out a family connection than I could the romances I put in my novels. I write contemporary romance because I believe in happy endings, whether with a first-time love or a second chance love. An inveterate reader and moviegoer, I like romantic comedies, drama, and adventure themes.

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#BookBlitz “Where Are We Tomorrow” by Tavi Taylor Black

wherearewetomorrow

I am so happy to share this novel with you all today. It’s called Where Are We Tomorrow by Tavi Taylor Black. Read on for more details!

Copies of Where Are We Tomorrow are available in exchange for honest reviews until October. Book reviewers can request a copy here or in comments!

56929822._SY475_Where We Are Tomorrow

Publication Date: May 31st, 2021

Genre: Contemporary Fiction/ Women’s Fiction

Publisher: Touch Point Press

Alex Evans, a thirty-six year old touring electrician, discovers through an accidental pregnancy and then the pain of miscarriage that she truly wants a family. But to attempt another pregnancy, she’ll have to change both her career and her relationship; her partner Connor, ten years her senior, isn’t prepared to become a father again.

When Alex is implicated in an accident involving the female pop star she works for, she and three other women on tour rent a house together in Tuscany. While the tour regroups, confessions are made, secrets are spilled: the guitar tech conceals a forbidden love, the production assistant’s ambition knows no limits, and the personal assistant battles mental issues.

Through arguments and accidents, combating drug use and religion, the women help each other look back on the choices they’ve made, eventually buoying each other, offering up strength to face tough decisions ahead.

TRIGGER WARNING: MISCARRIAGE/ ADDICTION/ GRIEF

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Excerpt

Inside the concrete arena, programmed lights whirred and spun in rhythm; eleven thousand fans watched, mesmerized, as vibrant magenta and violet beams sliced through midnight black. On stage, the band regurgitated the same set as the night before, and the night before that. They’d performed the set in Mexico City and Guadalajara. As far south as Santiago and Lima. The road crew for Sadie Estrada’s Home Remedy tour knew each dip in volume, each drop in the beat. They knew exactly, down to the second, how much time it required to step outside and suck down a Marlboro. These time-zone travelers planned bathroom breaks by the songs’ measures; no one missed a cue to mute the stage mics, to hand out room-temp bottled water for set breaks, to pull up house lights.

Behind heavy velvet curtains, separated from the frenzied pace of the show, Alex unscrewed the cover of a moving light to expose the core: circuit boards and capacitors, motors connected to color wheels. Deep bass, feedback, and the fevered pitch of collective voices penetrated the curtain, the familiar, almost comforting reverberations of life on the road. Alex continued her diagnosis, removing the light harness as a mother removes a soiled diaper— routinely, with a touch of tenderness. While she located and replaced the broken part, she kept an ear to the music, alert to the final measure of the set, ready to repack her multi-wheeled toolbox, move on to the next city, set up again.

Alex ran the light through all its functions, testing and retesting once she’d replaced the gobo wheel. The body of the light panned and tilted, working fine. A small victory.

“Sure you know what you’re doing, little lady?” Alex turned at the familiar voice of the tour’s production manager.

“Funny,” she said. “Very original. For that, you get to help me put it away.” Alex waited for another barb, one about her not being able to lift the seventy pounds by herself, but Joe simply helped her flip and crate the unit, a harder task for him at 5’2” than it was for Alex, a good five inches taller.

The arena crackled in anticipation of the show’s climax. Thousands of voices swelled and surged, a unified congregation. The body of the moving light settled into the carved Styrofoam, and Alex tucked its tail inside the handle. As she slammed the case shut, Joe’s laminate got caught inside the box, and he was jerked down by the lanyard around his neck. He freed the latches and yanked it clear, smoothing the wrinkles from the photo of his two young children, a wallet-sized clipping he’d taped behind his backstage pass. Joe caught Alex eyeing the photo.

“When are you gonna give in and pop out a few yourself?” Joe asked.

Alex breathed slowly, letting a brief sadness settle into her body, though her face wore a practiced, blank expression. She gestured into the smothering dark, into the roar of the crowd and sweat-filled air. “And give up all this?”

Available on Amazon, Bookshop and IndieBound!

About the Author

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Tavi Black lives on an island near Seattle where she designs sets for the ballet, works as the tour manager for a musical mantra group, and has founded an anti-domestic violence non-profit organization. Before earning an MFA from Lesley University, Tavi spent 14 years touring with rock bands. Several of Tavi’s short stories have been shortlisted for prizes, including Aesthetica Magazine’s Competition, and the Donald Barthelme Prize for Short Prose.

Tavi Taylor Black | Instagram | Kirkus Reviews | Indie Reader

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#BookTour “The Perfect Murder” by Kat Martin

Perfect Murder cover

Congratulations to Kat Martin on the release of The Perfect Murder! A romantic suspense perfect for the beach or pool! Read on for details and a chance to win a $25 Amazon e-gift card!

The Perfect Murder

Publication Date: Today 🎉

Publisher: HQN

New York Times bestselling author Kat Martin is back with her most thrilling novel yet in the Maximum Security series—The Perfect Murder.

The eldest of the three wealthy Garrett brothers, Reese Garrett is in the middle of a major purchase for his multimillion-dollar oil and gas company, Garrett Resources. The Poseidon offshore drilling platform venture will greatly enhance the company’s value.

But when Reese is on a trip out to see the rig, his helicopter crashes, leaving him hospitalized and two men dead. It’s discovered the chopper was sabotaged, and Reese is determined to find out who’s behind the crash—and whether he was the intended target. Then, when his lover, Kenzie, is accused of her ex-husband’s murder—a man with a vested interest in the Poseidon deal—clues start pointing to a connection that puts Reese, Kenzie and her young son in the sights of a killer.

From the Texas heat to the Louisiana bayous, Reese and his brothers must track down the truth before the body count gets any higher.

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Chapter One

Galveston, Texas: Last Day of July

Seconds after the chopper lifted off the pad, Reese felt the odd vibration.  Along with the pilot and co-pilot and five members of the crew, the Eurocopter EC135 was headed for the Poseidon offshore drilling platform. 

For a moment, the ride leveled out and Reese relaxed against his seat.  As CEO of Garrett Resources, the billion-dollar oil and gas company he owned with his brothers, he was always searching for the right investment to expand company holdings, the reason he was flying out to the platform.

For months he’d been working with Sea Titan Drilling, the owner of the offshore rig, to complete the five-hundred-million-dollar purchase, an extremely good value when the average price of a similar rig was around six-fifty. 

The vibration returned and with it came a grinding noise that put Reese on alert.  The men in the cabin began to glance back and forth and shift nervously in their seats.  A sharp jolt, then the chopper seemed to fall out of the sky.  It climbed again, began to dip and sway, dropped then climbed as the pilot fought for control.

The pilot’s deep voice rumbled through the headset.  “We’ve got a problem.  I don’t want you to panic, but we need to find a place to set down.” 

There was definitely a problem, Reese thought, as the vibration continued to worsen.  The chopper was out of control and the whole cabin was shaking as if it would break apart any minute.  His pulse was hammering, his adrenalin pumping.

 Along with the men in the crew who rode back and forth from the rig every few weeks, he stared out the window toward the ground.  They were no longer above the heliport.  Clearly the pilot was looking for an open space big enough to handle the thirty-six-foot blade span.  All Reese could see were the rooftops of warehouses and metal commercial buildings.

The chopper kept shaking.  The crew was grim-faced but resigned.  The pilot did something to take the pitch out of the rotors and the chopper started falling.

“No need to worry,” the pilot said.  “We’ll auto-rotate down.  I’ve done it a dozen times.”

Auto rotate down.  Reese knew the concept, the technique helicopter pilots used to land when the engine failed.  The trick was to find a safe place to hit the ground. 

Both engines went silent.  The blades were flat now, the wind whistling through them, tying his stomach into a knot.

“Brace for impact,” the pilot said.  Below them, Reese spotted an open flat slab of asphalt in the yard of a small trucking firm–the only possible landing site anywhere around.  Trouble was it didn’t look wide enough to handle the blades. 

At the last second, the pilot flared the helicopter in an effort to slow the descent, then the ground rushed up and the chopper hit with a jolt that wracked Reese’s whole body.

For an instant, he thought they were going to make it.  Then one of the spinning rotor blades hit the corner of a building and tore free.  The Plexiglas bubble shattered as the long metal blades exploded into a hundred deadly pieces, careening like knives through the air, slicing into buildings and the cabin of the helicopter. 

Reese didn’t feel the impact.  One moment he was conscious, then the world suddenly went black.

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About the Author

Kat Martin head shot (high res)

New York Times Bestselling author Kat Martin, a graduate of the University of California at Santa Barbara, currently resides in Missoula, Montana with Western-author husband, L. J. Martin.  More than seventeen million copies of Kat’s books are in print, and she has been published in twenty foreign countries.  Fifteen of her recent novels have taken top-ten spots on the New York Times Bestseller List, and her novel, BEYOND REASON, was recently optioned for a feature film.

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