J.D.R. Hawkins

One bullet can make a man a hero… or a casualty.

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Release Day Blitz

The Sinners by Sourabh Mukherjee

~ Release Day Blitz ~

12th November

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About the Book:

The Sinners Cover copy

Vikram Oberoi is found dead in his penthouse. A few hours ago, his involvement in a sex scandal in NexGen Technologies made headlines across the world.

Who is behind the sinister conspiracy that destroyed Vikram Oberoi, the philandering India Head of NexGen? Rivals within and outside the firm? One of his many jilted lovers or the miffed wife? A mysterious conspirator laying out honey traps to sabotage his plans? Or, is it the ghost of a sinful past that continues to haunt the Oberois?

The Sinners is a fast-paced thriller with a shocking twist that unravels against the backdrop of corporate warfare, illicit relationships and ruthless seduction games.

Book Links:

Amazon * Goodreads

Read an Excerpt:

Agastya picked up the call from a private number after the third ring, taking his eyes off the monitor in front of him.

“Is this Agastya Bakshi?”

“Yes… who’s this?”

“Agastya, my apologies for calling you late. I assure you this won’t take too long. But, we need to talk in private. Where are you right now?” The male voice at the other end of the line sounded authoritative. Agastya could not recall having heard the voice earlier.

Agastya looked around the near-empty office and said, “I am at work, but we can talk. Not too many people around at this time of the night.” His curiosity, by this time, was at its peak. 

It was past eleven. It was the third time that week that Agastya had to work through the night. Hired a couple of years back, his work as an engineer in the Network and Systems Division of NexGen kept him rooted in front of computer screens through his days and very often, his nights. Agastya did not have much of a social life. A clumsy desk littered with pizza crumbs, empty cartons and soda cans, and a paunch growing at an alarming rate – that was what his life had been reduced to. But, he did not complain. Agastya loved his job.

“Great! Then let’s talk business. I’m sorry I cannot disclose my name. I belong to a private investigation agency that’s currently looking into the dealings of the company you are working for. There are reports of certain financial irregularities in the business.”

Agastya sat up straight in his chair.

“Okay! But, what – what do you want from me?” Agastya asked tentatively. “I work in Network and Systems. I don’t think you have the right number!”

“Agastya, I know who I am talking to,” there was an almost imperceptible hint of annoyance in the voice of the man at the other end of the line. He went on, “We need access to the e-mail accounts of some of the top guys in your company to check their correspondences. And I’ve been told that you are the right man for the job.”

Agastya took a sip of the cola that had already gone flat.

“Why – why me? You can speak to my Manager in the morning. He -“

The voice at the other end of the line did not let him finish.

“Agastya, this is a covert operation and we are a private agency. We cannot turn up at your office with an order to gain access to these accounts. Also, right now, we’re not sure how many of the big guys are involved and in what ways. For all you know, your boss – the Systems Manager you are referring to – might as well be a party! Let’s not forget that, he has access to all records of transactions. We do not want anyone getting alert and tampering with the data we are looking for. We cannot risk exposure. It’ll take us some time to complete the basic investigation. And I’d really appreciate your cooperation while we are at it. Once we have enough evidence at our disposal, we will make this official.”

Agastya thought for a few minutes. The whole thing could be a hoax, for all it’s worth!

“Look… how do I trust you?”

“I knew you’re going to ask, Agastya. We’ll be completely transparent with you. One of my agents will get in touch with you. You’ll be working with her. I want you to hand over the details to her in person. This is for reasons of safety. And also, to make sure that you put faces to names. We want to win your trust and make sure that you are comfortable working with us because, as I said, this investigation isn’t going to get over in a day. We’ll need to work together for a while.”

“I – I’ll need to think this through. What’s in it for me?”

“We’ll most certainly compensate for your time and your cooperation. And I can assure you that, you will have no reason to complain about the money. Don’t worry about that,” the voice sounded reassuring. Agastya did a quick mental calculation of the remaining EMIs for his new car. Almost at the same time, the full front-page advertisement of the upcoming apartment complex in South Mumbai flashed before his eyes.

The voice continued, “So I gather we’re good to go here, right?”

Agastya mumbled an uncertain “Well…”

The voice did not seem to care.

“Thanks for your co-operation, Agastya. Ruchika will get in touch with you shortly. Have a good rest of the night at work.” The man hung up.

Agastya looked disbelievingly at his phone. Agastya wondered if he should call someone and discuss. The next moment, he decided against it. The man did sound like he meant business. And, in any case, Agastya was the one in charge. He was the one who had access to the data the agency was asking for. He was willing to give it a shot if the money was good. If, at any point in time, he had any reason to doubt the authenticity of the agency, he could always step back. Maybe even report the guy to appropriate authorities. He could always make an honest confession.

He put the phone down on his desk and went back to monitoring the data backup jobs. In a couple of minutes, his phone buzzed 

“Hey, this is Ruchika” – said the Whatsapp message.

About the Author:

Sourabh Mukherjee

Sourabh is the author of two psychological thriller novels The Colours of Passion: Unravelling Dark Secrets behind the Limelight (Readomania) and  In the Shadows of Death: A Detective Agni Mitra Thriller (Srishti Publishers and Distributors); Romance Shorts, a collection of dark-romance short stories; a 2-part series Beyond 22 Yards (Srishti Publishers and Distributors) on stories of Love and Crime from the world of cricket and a 7-part series of short stories titled It’s All About Love (Srishti Publishers and Distributors). The titles in the series are The Gift, The Cookery Show and a Love Story, A Special Day, Masks, An Autumn Turmoil, The Hunt, The Death Wish.

A keen observer of human behaviour and cultural diversities, Sourabh loves travelling and has travelled widely across five continents. An avid reader of fiction, Sourabh is equally passionate about photography, movies and music.

Connect with the Author:

Website * Facebook * Twitter * Blog

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Giveaway:

A Paperback Copy of The Sinners by Sourabh Mukherjee.

Open till 25th November, 2019

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Spotlight – Justice Gone

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About the Book:

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When a homeless war veteran is beaten to death by the police, stormy protests ensue, engulfing a small New Jersey town. Soon after, three cops are gunned down.

A multi-state manhunt is underway for a cop killer on the loose. And Dr. Tessa Thorpe, a veteran’s counselor, is caught up in the chase.

Donald Darfield, an African-American Iraqi war vet, war-time buddy of the beaten man, and one of Tessa’s patients, is holed up in a mountain cabin. Tessa, acting on instinct, sets off to find him, but the swarm of law enforcement officers gets there first, leading to Darfield’s dramatic capture.

Now, the only people separating him from the lethal needle of state justice are Tessa and ageing blind lawyer, Nathaniel Bodine. Can they untangle the web tightening around Darfield in time, when the press and the justice system are baying for revenge?

Book Links:

Goodreads * Amazon

AFA-WINNER-TRANSPARENT-BACKGROUND copyWINNER NIEA copy  RF silver-shiny-hr copy

Winner of Three Awards:

2019 American Fiction Award

National Indie Excellency Award – Best Legal Thriller of 2019

Silver Medal Winner 2019 – Readers’ Favorites Awards

Chosen by Wiki.ezvid.com among their list of 10 Gripping and Intelligent Legal Thrillers

Reviews for Justice Gone:

The courtroom scenes are wonderfully written…the characters are well described and the author paints a picture of each in the mind of the reader…Strong plot, strong characters and a strong writing style that I really enjoyed. This one is a definite “thumbs-up.” Strongly recommend! I look forward to reading additional works by N. Lombardi, Jr.

Kim M Aalaie, Author’s Den

One of my favorite suspense novels of the year. It will make you question the legal system.

The Eclectic Review

The courtroom action is excellent, trimmed to the most gripping parts of the trial, with plenty of emotional impact…a fairly realistic portrayal of the way small-town US society works…a fast-moving story with plenty of dramatic moments, and a big twist in the final pages.

Crime Review 

Read an Excerpt:

“What does voir dire mean?” Penny asked out of the blue. “The judge said something about…”

“It means that I and the prosecutor get to question each prospective juror directly. Only the judge has that authority, we lawyers have to ask permission to do so.”

They entered the visitation room, a cramped stuffy space bounded by the same pea-green walls, with a wooden table and straight-backed wooden chairs in the middle of the room. It was dimly lit and windowless. They found Darfield already standing by the table, and after greetings, along with hugs on the part of Tessa and Penny, they all sat down.

“I think it’s time I made a proper introduction,” Emily Bodine said. She smiled appealingly. She was a comely woman of about thirty, with honey-brown hair combed sensually around her glossy oval face and down to  her  shoulders, and  possessing jaunty blue eyes, a cute button nose, and alluring lips. She wore a brown lawyerly, Chanel-style pants suit. “You already know I’m Nat’s daughter and his co-counsel.”

“Not as flamboyant as me, but she gets the job done,” Bodine put in.

“Thanks, Dad. Closest thing to a complement that I’ll ever get from him,” she told the others with a fleeting grin before getting down to business. “Today was the formal arraignment, and now we are entering the discovery phase.”

“What’s that mean, exactly?” Darfield wanted to know.

“It means that the State has to turn over all its evidence to us including a list of witnesses they intend to call, the exhibits they intend to admit, things like that…so we can prepare our case. And we have to do likewise.”

“When is the trial going to be?” Tessa asked, getting to the issue that was a priority on her mind.

“Yeah, I’d like to know that, too,” Darfield said.

“Well, I don’t expect before the end of the year. We have the holidays coming up. It has to be within one hundred and twenty days, you heard the judge. Maybe sometime in February.”

Tessa was upset. “February! And Donald will be locked up until then?”

Bodine intervened. “Well, it’s like six of one and half dozen of the other. We’ll at least get sufficient time to prepare. It could have been worse if we waived the right to a speedy trial. Could have been a year or more because the State’s got a weak case and they’d use that time to bone it up.”

Darfield patted her arm. “Don’t worry, Tessa, I can make it all right.”

Bodine continued. “As Emily already mentioned, this is the discovery phase, so the more time the better. You see, most prosecutors play this disgusting game in collusion with the police, to take their time with the paperwork and to withhold things until we have to file motions repeatedly complaining to the judge to get hold of what they got, even though by law we are one hundred percent entitled to it. Oh, yeah, by the way, you got a source of funds?”

Tessa backed off, and sort of shriveled up. “We assumed you were working pro bono.”

“Well I am, but that means I’m only waiving my fees. There are still expenses to pay; you don’t expect me to dig into my own pockets for those, do you?”

“What expenses?”

Emily explained. “Phone calls, photocopying, transport, investigation costs…”

“Investigation?”

“Yes, that’s a must if we’re going to trial. And then there’s the experts.”

“Experts?”

The elder Bodine once again took the reins. “Look, they don’t have any evidence that Donald killed those three men. They need eyewitnesses, and they don’t have any. And the only forensic evidence is going to be based on ballistics. So they’re going to get some expert, who works for the government of New Jersey and who is loyal to the prosecution, and get him in the witness stand and give the jury a whole mumbo-jumbo about how Donald’s weapon is tied to the bullets they found. Except it’s gonna be bullshit. But the jury will eat it up; even if they don’t understand what he’s saying, ‘cause he’s an expert, and if we rely just on my cross-examination, me, a lil ol’ lawyer, a blind one at that, trying to rip apart his testimony, it always appears as a lack of respect when I attack his credibility. I mean he’s the expert, ain’t he? That’s why we need our own expert to show up the other guy, and let me tell you, they don’t come cheap.”

“We’ll do a fund-raising,” Penny said. “How much will we need?

“Shoot for a hundred thousand,” Bodine advised. “Shit!” Darfield blurted.

“There is something that we must consider right from the start,” Emily said. “This case hinges on jury sentiment. There’s nothing else when you come right down to it. And that’s not in our favor. Asarn County is ninety-percent white and is very conservative,  as  well  as  generally  supportive  of  their  local police.”

“I thought I saw a few people outside holding signs,” Penny said. “I think they were supportive of Donald.”

“That’s the last thing we want!” Bodine remonstrated loudly, banging his cane on the floor.

The door opened and a uniformed jailer appeared. “Is there a problem in here?”

“No officer, I was just making a point.”

“Well, could you make it a little more quietly, please?” “Yeah, now shut the door.”

The guard shot Bodine a harsh glance before closing the door. “Little  pipsqueak.”  He  pointed  his  cane  toward  the  far corner,  where  a  camera  was  suspended  close  to  the  ceiling. “They can see everything going on—closed-circuit television. Can’t hear us though… He damn well knew there wasn’t any problem, just wanted to assert the little authority he has…now, as I was saying…any protesters showing up here are likely to be outsiders with a political agenda. The local community is still in shock over those cold-blooded murders; they’ve already forgotten  the  original  incident,  Felson’s  beating,  and  they’ll consider such shenanigans as insensitive liberal nonsense…and if the jury should be exposed to these types of demonstrations, they’ll turn against us.”

“You have to realize,” Emily broke in, “that this is all about assigning blame. Three men are dead and someone has to be held responsible. They can’t just let it hang in the air.”

“What about my alibi?” Darfield shot in.

Bodine turned his head in the general direction of Darfield’s voice. “I sent someone down there, and we’ll get his report soon.” “What about this judge?” Darfield asked. “Is he going to be

the same one for the trial? Looks like a mean sucker.”

“Good question, Donald,” Bodine replied. “I would say yes, most assuredly. He’s an elected judge, and this is an election year.

“Is that good or bad?” Penny asked. “Not good.”

“There’s been a study done,” Emily said, “that shows that elected judges tend to have more convictions and give out stiffer penalties during their election years.”

“And,” Bodine added, “they usually run on a platform of being tough on crime. Last campaign, Tupelo had as his slogan, Vote for Judge Tupelo, ‘cause he just don’t let ‘em go. So the DA already has one up on us, he’s got the judge. But I have a way to put Tupelo on a leash. You see, there’s one thing a judge fears, and that is having their verdicts or their decisions overturned by either an Appeals Court, or worse, the Supreme Court. Makes ‘em look bad. And I’ll be threatening him with that from the get-go.”

“I noticed they dropped some of the charges,” Tessa said. “Surely that’s a good sign.”

“No, not really,” Bodine rebutted. “The police always overdo it, then wait for the DA to choose which of them they’re gonna run with. In this case, it looks like they want to concentrate their case on the most serious charges, and it also shows their confidence in getting a conviction. If they weren’t, they would have kept all those charges hoping for at least some of them to stick.” He addressed Darfield. “Make no mistake about it, son, you’re going to end up doing time for something. If you get acquitted, they’re going to bring you up again on reckless endangerment,  for sure. And that reminds me, if that’s what happens, we can rely on your PTSD as mitigating circumstances, but NOT, I repeat NOT for this case. The prosecution will no doubt bring that up, but for our part, we’re going to downplay that as much as possible.” Bodine cleared his throat, obviously dry from all this talking. “Now there’s one more thing before I go. This matter of isolation. My hunch is that they’re going to keep you in the same cell, but just add a bunkmate. And he’ll be the snitch. Do whatever you can to keep him away from you. They won’t put you in the regular bullpen, because there’s eight guys sharing a single area, and all eight would have to corroborate each other, you get me?” Bodine didn’t wait for an answer, “Otherwise I can call the others to the stand who would testify they didn’t hear shit. But if the State does what I just said, stick him in alone with you, it’s more work for me because without witnesses to contradict him, I’ll have to spend some effort at tearing up the little rat on the stand.”

Tessa sat upright and put both hands on the table. “What about this sequestering of the jury. I noticed you were quite upset.”

“First of all, we’re gonna be restricted when it comes to jury selection. Some of the most sympathetic won’t be able to do it, for example single mothers, those who might need medical monitoring, people who cannot be away for a long time… but what I’m really concerned about is that they’ll hasten deliberation, come to a judgment too quick ‘cause they’re fed up being treated like prisoners, which, mark my word, that’s how they’ll be treated. Now some of them may resent the State because of that, but some might feel some bond with the State because they’re the ones taking care of them. Remember, that in the trial proceedings the State goes first, they can take their time, but it’s gonna force us to rush a bit because by that time the jury members are getting unhappy living the way they’re living. If we want to go meticulously about our case, then the jury will blame us for  taking  too  long and  prolonging  their  suffering. Now, is there anything else before Emily and I take our leave?”

“When will you come back?” Darfield asked. “We’ll be back by the end of the week.”

About the Author:
N. Lombardi Jr, the N for Nicholas, has spent over half his life in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, working as a groundwater geologist. Nick can speak five languages: Swahili, Thai, Lao, Chinese, and Khmer (Cambodian).

In 1997, while visiting Lao People’s Democratic Republic, he witnessed the remnants of a secret war that had been waged for nine years, among which were children wounded from leftover cluster bombs. Driven by what he saw, he worked on The Plain of Jars for the next eight years.

Nick maintains a website with content that spans most aspects of the novel: The Secret War, Laotian culture, Buddhism etc.

His second novel, Journey Towards a Falling Sun, is set in the wild frontier of northern Kenya.

His latest novel, Justice Gone was inspired by the fatal beating of a homeless man by police.

Nick now lives in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Follow the Author:

Website * Goodreads * Amazon

 

A Grand Review

As I stated in my previous blog post, General Lee is one of my favorite personalities of the War Between the States. In this excerpt from my novel, A Beckoning Hellfire, protagonist David Summers, age 18, meets the general for the first time, and is awestruck by his encounter. This event takes place shortly before the Battle of Brandy Station, which took place on June 9, 1863, and was the largest cavalry battle to ever take place in North America.

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Later that evening, the men were informed that another Review was to be held, because General Lee had been detained from attending the day’s events. The troopers were required to polish their tack and metal two days later for the benefit of the Commander of the Army of Northern Virginia.

On June 8, the Review was held between Culpeper and Brandy like before, but no civilians were present this time. General Hood’s infantry came to watch the military exercise. While the cavalrymen rode past to take their positions on the open field of the Auburn Estate, the suntanned foot soldiers jeered at them.

“Come down off’n that horse!” one yelled. “I can see your legs a-danglin’!”

“Come out from under that hat!” another hollered. “I can see your ears a-wigglin’!”

“They’re jist jealous of us because we git all the pretty girls’ attention!” Michael yelled over at David and flashed a grin.

The horsemen reached the open field and lined up in columns, their regimental colors rippling above them. Ordered to halt, they sat with all eyes on their commanding officer. 

General Lee rode the two-mile line at a brisk trot. He searched out saddle-sore horses and deficient carbines, mandating corrective actions as he carried out his inspection. He came to a halt in front of Renegade. 

brandy station

“Is this the little horse that won the race I heard tell about?” he asked.

Stunned that the magnificent general was speaking to him, David’s heart leaped. He found it difficult to reply, let alone comprehend that General Lee was actually addressing him. The general, dressed in flawless brass and gray, his white beard and entire appearance immaculate, gazed at him intensely. He didn’t know if he was required to salute, so he just sat there, stupefied.

“Yessir,” was all he could finally manage to say. 

General Lee nodded, glanced over Renegade once more, and spurred his gray steed away. The cavaliers surrounding David turned to gawk at him. He looked at John, who winked at him. 

“Reckon he’s got plans for you!” Michael said, grinning as he raised an eyebrow.

David wondered what those plans were, and couldn’t help cracking a smile. Although he’d given up on his fantasy of becoming a Pony Express rider, he hoped now to be chosen for some dangerous, daring mission on behalf of the Confederacy, since the adventure he and Jake had dreamed about seemed to have eluded him thus far. His utmost desire was to receive a perilous assignment, one that no one else was willing to take, because he was prepared to lay down his life for his beloved country. If that happened, there would be no doubt that he would acquire exoneration for Tom’s death. He wanted to die in honor and glory, just like his father and Jake had done. But he hoped, most of all, that he wouldn’t be sealed in an unmarked grave and forgotten.

Sitting astride Traveller, General Lee watched from the top of a hillock. General Stuart, with his usual flamboyance, wore a long, black ostrich plume in his hat, and his horse, Virginia, was adorned with a wreath of flowers around her neck. Stuart signaled; the bugles blared. Twenty-two cavalry regiments wheeled into columns of four, and three bands commenced to play “The Bonnie Blue Flag” while General Stuart led the parade of prancing horses. The cavaliers walked their mounts down the length of the field before turning into a trot. An immense cloud of dust billowed up from the ground. There was no mock charge against the guns this time, so following the reviewing maneuvers, the men were congratulated and released.

They led their horses back to camp, and celebrated the splendor of their review. The supply and baggage trains had been loaded, awaiting the cavalry’s departure across the Rappahannock with the infantry, which was now encamped on the other side of a hill. Unbeknownst to David and his fellow cavaliers, however, an ominous presence lurked in the shadows. Morning would come much sooner than expected. 

Guest Post Article

The following is a guest post written by Melissa Chan of Literary Book Gifts.

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Pen and Pad or Laptop? Why the Platform You Write On Matters

It is undeniable that much of writing takes place brainstorming, jotting down ideas on fragments of paper, or just working through plots and characters in one’s mind. But when it comes down to getting the words on paper and into a cohesive draft, there are plenty of different ways in which this task can be accomplished. In recent years smartphones and other writing software have the ability to replace even the classic blank page document. Digital computers and the technology within them has come a long way and really made an impact on the ways it is possible to write.

It can be easy to say, “well this doesn’t matter, writing is simply one’s ideas and the way in which you get them out of your head into a book is not of any consequence.” But I’m not entirely sure this is true. Here are a few reasons why I think the platform you write on matters, perhaps they will help you consider how you write and how it might affect your finished work.

The interface

I am personally a fan of paper over the laptop. I’ve not written anything of substance just yet, but on the occasions that I have tried it to do so, I have had much more success with pen to paper. With ink and unlined paper I am seemingly able to get my ideas out faster. Although this may appear counterintuitive since like most people I can type at a much faster rate than I can write with a pen, it is something that works for me. The digital interface doesn’t allow for arrows, scribbling out parts of sentences while leave traces of what was left behind, or doodles on the edges. New writing programs may have advanced features such as notes in the margins, and embedded in-line notes but none compare to the simple ease of pen to paper.

How you write dictates where you write

There are definitely advantages of the laptop or other digital forms of writing. As I mentioned before, typing speed is a given. The computer can check your spelling and grammar as you write. It can also store thousands of pages of research and writings that you can quickly search through on demand. Instead of an entire library of notes, the laptop’s database can be accessed from a coffee shop, on vacation, or even miles above the ground on an airplane. Writing on paper can be portable. Notebooks of course can be carried everywhere and don’t require electricity to work. This I suppose depends on the need of an individual writer. Sitting on a park bench writing in a notebook is a much more different experience than a laptop, even on that same park bench. For those who write on a monitor with full keyboard and mouse at home, a notebook is perhaps the only way that they will be able to write out of the house.

In Conclusion

Before the rise of technology, authors had limited options for writing platforms. I wouldn’t be surprised if many contemporary authors elect to write directly on the computer because of it’s many benefits which include speed and efficiency. The platform in which an author writes is by no means as important as the writing itself, but as I am always interested in craft, and the human experience of creating art, it’s a question I have contemplated over the years. My conclusion is that the means of art creation does have an impact on the final outcome of any work of art, and that certainly includes literature.

I hope that some of my thoughts on writing platforms help you consider the way in which you write and how that influences your work as an author. Thank you so much for listening.

Melissa Chan is an occasional writer and the founder of Literary Book Gifts, a virtual gift shop for book lovers, readers, and writers. The store features authors and titles from classic books for all to appreciate.

How do you get your ideas into a finished book? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

(Special thanks to Melissa Chan for this article.)

 

Cover Reveal – Guardian Angel

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Guardian Angel by Ruchi Singh

The Man

Security expert Nikhil Mahajan is in mortal danger. Gravely injured and unable to see, he is in the midst of hostile strangers in an unknown place. Any hope of survival is fast fading away.

The Angel

Should an innocent man be allowed to die just because he had been in the wrong place at the wrong time? Someone has to intervene.

About the Author:

 

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Winner of TOI WriteIndia Season 1, Ruchi Singh is a novelist, and writes in two genres; romance and romantic thriller. A voracious reader, she loves everything—from classics to memoirs to editorials to chick-lit, but her favourite genre is ‘romantic thriller’. Besides writing and reading, her other interests include dabbling with Indian classical dance forms.

Blog | Official Website | Facebook | Goodreads Amazon | Twitter

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Speaking Engagement at UCCS

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Yesterday, I had the privilege of speaking to a group of students at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs (UCCS). This event was held in conjunction with NaNoWriMo. If you are unfamiliar of this acronym, it stands for National Novel Writing Month, which is held during the month of November. The object of NaNoWriMo is to provoke writers and prospective authors into writing a novel. Authors don’t have to finish their projects. The goal is for them to complete writing a total of several thousand words by the end of the month, and the NaNoWriMo website tracks their progress. Since its start, NaNoWriMo has grown internationally. I have completed the challenge three times. In fact, I even got a t-shirt several years ago to prove it!

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My audience at the Writing Center was very attentive as I told them about my journey as an author and how my writing has evolved over the years. It was fun to see their expressions when I explained how I was originally inspired to write about the Civil War, how I conducted research, chose characters, and constructed plot lines. We talked about my writing process in general, how much time I spend researching each book, and self-publishing vs. traditional.

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Because all the students are participating in NaNoWriMo, I was curious to find out what projects they’ve been working on. I loved their enthusiasm as they told me about their prospective novels. Most are writing fantasy and Sci-Fi, which I found interesting, since they are all in their late teens and early twenties. One attendee said his novel is historical fiction with a bit of fantasy thrown in. He said he heard that all a writer has to do is include a unicorn to make their story a fantasy and then that author doesn’t have to be completely historically accurate. I thought his analogy was amusing! Speaking at UCCS was a great experience, and I’m grateful to have participated. Seeing new writers bud is the best!

My Recent Speaking Engagement Featured in Local Press

Recently, I was invited to speak at a local event sponsored by the American Association of University Women (AAUW). This event, held in Colorado Springs, features local authors, and raises funds to provide college scholarships to women who could not afford to go to school on their own. It was heartrending to hear the stories about this year’s recipients, and I was very honored to be invited to speak on their behalf. Today, the local newspaper, the Colorado Springs Gazette, featured a story about the event, so I am sharing it here. I found the article to be very informative, except that my quote was taken out of context. The article is inaccurate in stating that I lock myself in a room, listen to Civil War music and lose myself in imagination. However, I thought the quote was quite amusing.

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Annual event celebrates local authors, awards scholarships

  • By:

Mary Taylor Young knows from personal experience that reading and writing is key to developing as a writer.

“People like reading things that are a part of their life. I try to find evocative words to create an image, so I read and write a lot,” the author told American Association of University Women’s Colorado Springs Branch (AAUW CSB) members during an Oct. 27 Author’s Day recognition breakfast.

Held at the Colorado Springs Shrine Club, the annual event celebrated the creative works of three local authors and raised money to provide college scholarships for local women. Authors J. D. R. Hawkins and Cindy Skaggs also were honored.

Since its inception, the AAUW CSB has presented numerous scholarships. In 2008, one $1,000 and one $500 scholarship were awarded and last year six $1,200 scholarships were presented. Proceeds will fund next year’s scholarships.

“Thank you for taking part in the success of these women which wouldn’t be possible without your support,” Scholarship Chair Char Gagne told the 100-plus guests who attended.

Branch President Nancy Holt welcomed guests, adding, “This room is full of women who love to read. Some love to write and are inspired by the authors who are here today.”

One of Colorado’s best-known nonfiction authors, Young has written about Colorado’s landscape and heritage for three decades. The award-winning author has penned 17 books including “Rocky Mountain National Park: The First 100 Years,” and “Land of Grass and Sky: A Naturalist’s Prairie Journey.”

For 16 years The Rocky Mountain News published Young’s “Words on Birds” column. The Friends of the Pikes Peak Library District named Young a 2018 Frank Waters Award winner for exemplary literary achievement.

Young’s passion for writing about the West originated from her family’s military roots and Rocky Mountain upbringing, she said. “My path to writing wasn’t a direct one. My dad was career Army and I lived in 10 different homes. Spending summers running through the mountains helped fix my path because writing originally wasn’t on my radar,” Young said.

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Known chiefly for her historical writing, Hawkins’ works include the Renegade Series: A Beautiful Glittering Lie and A Rebel Among Us, both John Esten Cooke Fiction Award recipients. She is a member of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, International Women’s Writing Guild, Pikes Peak Writers and Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers.

Holt praised Hawkins for the word imagery used to describe Civil War battlefields in her book, The Beckoning Hellfire. Extensive research, music and imagination were key elements for writing the book, Hawkins said. “I locked myself in my room, put on Civil War music and lost myself in imagination,” Hawkins said.

By contrast, it was stories about mob bosses, horse thieves, cold-blooded killers and the last honest man that inspired Skaggs to write. To date she has written seven romantic suspense novels that include “The Untouchables” trilogy and a novella for Entangled Publishing titled “Untouchable, An Untouchable Christmas, Unforgettable and Unstoppable.”

Skaggs encouraged prospective authors to appreciate editors and to attend book conferences to pitch their idea to agents. “Self-publishing is expensive and can cost up to $2,000 before marketing,” Skaggs said.

Local resident Cindi Zenkert Strange attended the event because, “I love books and writers, and wanted to hear from local and regional authors who represent different genres.”

A silent auction comprised of sports clothing, wine and wine glass, and cheese and party mix baskets also figured in the celebration. Perry Park rounds of golf, two-night stay at The Lodge, at the Club at Flying Horse were among the gifts up for grabs.

A fiber-fusion collage created by local artist Barbara Diamond, and paintings by Japanese artist Kazuko Stern and Heddy DuCharme also were available. “President-Elect Kathy Olson invited me to show my stuff to the public. I am glad I am here,” said Diamond who is an instructor at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center.

Founded in 1881, the AAUW promotes equity for all women and girls, life-long education and positive societal change. AAUW has more than 100,000 members in 1,000 branches throughout the nation. The event is held the last Saturday in October. “We’re non-partisan and welcome new members,” Olson said.

Hooked on Books volunteer Mary Ciletti handled book sales and Aspen Pointe Catering, the menu. To learn more contact Membership Vice President Melanie Hudson at 205-7639 or visit coloradosprings-co.aauw.net/scholarships/2017-authors-day/.

https://gazette.com/cheyenneedition/annual-event-celebrates-local-authors-awards-scholarships/article_e74ba01a-e835-11e8-8c59-2365de6bfe01.html

Book Blitz – Freefall

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The deep-space transport ship, the Vera Rubin, is light years from Earth when botanist Elle Silver begins to question the use of their space-travel drug, HCH.  Elle notices a growing number of her friends and  fellow colonists awaken from their 90-day sleep cycles exhibiting a variety of negative side-effects and she begins to believe the drug is the culprit.  Some of the effects are minor, dry eyes and lack of appetite. Other symptoms are a bigger concern on a tiny ship packed with colonists.  With each sleep cycle completed, more and more colonists awaken both confused and barely concealing a simmering rage – rage that could be a catastrophe on a ship as crowded as the Vera Rubin.  Elle needs proof, but she also needs a plan. If the drug that allows them to travel deep-space is at fault, what then?  Elle and her friends Ashok, Achebe and Jin-Hai are pressed to their limits to find a solution to their problem before the ship erupts into chaos… with light years left to travel.

Find FREEFALL on Amazon

https://www.amazon.com/Freefall-Amalie-Noether-Chronicles-1/dp/1999408616/

https://www.amazon.in/Freefall-Amalie-Noether-Chonicles-Book-ebook/dp/B07GT6NJGD/

Guest Post

As a guest writer for a post on books – I thought that rather than talk about my novel, FREEFALL per se…. readers like yourself might be interested in how the book came to be written. I think when we discover a book that really engages us, we begin to believe that writers are some mythical beings with a special ‘secret’ ingredient that allows them to write.

This could not be further from reality in my case and in many other writers’ lives too. The only ‘secret’ ingredient I might possess is a dogged determination to get my story onto the page. I learned determination and persistence from my mother. My mother also seeded in all her daughters an absolute love of reading and storytelling. Although, I continue to be the only writer in our immediate family, my sisters actively read books and even lead book club discussion groups too.

Growing up in a household of females (my father deserted us) was pivotal to my central attitude about life. I believe that there is very little that a determined girl or woman cannot accomplish. As a child, there was no one to tell me ‘girls can’t do that’ OR if my sisters did say it – I immediately set out to prove them wrong. This attitude is woven into the story of FREEFALL throughout the book.

The other tenant of the book is the importance of curiosity. I spent a fair bit of time alone as a child, poking into things, exercising my curiosity about how things worked, why they worked and even sometimes dismantling things to find out if I could make them work again. My single mother had very little extra money to fix toys that were broken or even buy new ones. So all of us girls became adept at putting dolls back together, or gluing tea sets that got broken or putting wheels back on wagons to get them working again.

In the book Elle reminds herself that curiosity is a good thing, it can lead to new ideas and discoveries of importance that might have gone unnoticed by others who never asked the question ‘Why?’ Asking yourself why and then setting out to find the answer can lead to amazing things. As you will see, Freefall reflects core values that I hold that women are smart, capable and caring – and can do almost anything if they try.

My own sense of adventure stems from my curiosity about life here, on this planet – which led to speculation about life – out there in another corner of the universe. Another core belief of mine is that you don’t have to have a degree from a university to write and write well. What you do need is the desire to tell an engaging story. The best place to learn how to do that is from inside a book where you can read, read, and read.

Once you’ve read a fair number of books, start mentally sorting them out into the ones you liked and the ones that were just okay – but not spellbinding. And finally, what about the books you didn’t like? Stack them up, and then start thinking about the ones you liked – What did they have in common? Do the same mental exercise with the books you didn’t like – What did they have in common? You will learn as much about writing from what you didn’t like – as from what you did. Once you know what you like in a book, you’re ready to start writing your own story.

It’s important to write something you would enjoy reading yourself, because if you’re writing a novel you’ll be spending days and weeks and months in the world you’re creating. So it better be a place that you look forward to visiting – you owe it to yourself to make it so. I truly loved every minute of writing Freefall. The editing portion was a challenge for me – because it is a bit like cleaning the house; necessary and important but certainly not thrilling to do.

Freefall came into being because I love good Science Fiction and Fantasy – and I hoped to write a story worthy of some that I have read. Also Freefall came into being because I was persistent enough to sit down every morning before going to work (and sometimes after work too) to continue writing Elle’s adventures with her friends. I would spend hours thinking about what would happen next, so that I would have a focus for the next days writing. And then, when I was done with the first draft, I willingly put in more time to fix the things that needed fixing to make the story more clear and uncluttered.

And of course you must be wondering, ‘Have I started the sequel?” Of course I have! I can’t wait to see what happens next in the Amalie Noether Chronicles. I hope you will join me in reading FREEFALL. Be assured – Elle’s adventures will continue in space in the next volume of the series.

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Author Bio:

Jana Williams is certain that fiction can change people’s lives – especially women and girls.  Her own life is testimony to that fact.  One of five daughters, she was raised by a single-mom who placed a high value on reading and storytelling.

The ability to read, coupled with a child’s innate curiosity about the world, and access to books to satisfy that curiosity can offer significant opportunity to a child. Like most writers Jana has bounced from job to job, absorbing stories, cultures and customs as she worked.  She has been a high-speed motion picture photographer, a VFX coordinator, worked in the film industry, and the publishing trade as a book seller – a publisher’s rep and now an author.

But her first love is reading…. and with each book of the Freefall trilogy sold Jana will donate funds to Literacy agencies around the world whose work is to bring the joy of reading to others.

Enjoy a good adventure story and help others learn to read at the same time !

Find/Like Jana on Facebook –  https://www.facebook.com/freefallthenovel/

Find Jana’s Writing advice – Twitter –  https://twitter.com/9YAVli0iT6ZZLTC

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Enchanted Waves by Ciara Lake

About the Book:

Enchanted Waves Cover

Tabitha Lock’s mundane life changes when her future walks out of the sea into her arms.

Attorney Tabitha Lock has put her career before everything, including her love life. Exhausted from too many late nights, early mornings, and endless days spent in court, Tabitha is at the end of her rope. Add to that the sensual dreams and voices that haunt her sleep, and she’s driven to the edge of her sanity.

Jax Aquila, Mer prince and son of Poseidon, is ordered to locate a mortal female in the twenty-first century. Although this woman is unaware of it, she has vampire heritage, but her immortality was forsaken to her due to the sins of her ancestor. Old hatred and prejudice toward vampires push Jax toward pursing his own agenda and avoiding his assigned task.

When Jax meets Tabitha, he has no idea this enticing woman is the one he was sent to find. The magic of their attraction drives him to pursue the beautiful woman. When he discovers the truth, can he accept Tabitha for what she is? And can Tabitha accept herself? As they struggle with the issues at hand, an ancient evil stirs, waiting in the darkness to reclaim their lost position among the immortals. When the evil ones make their move and Tabitha’s life hangs in the balance can Jax find her in time, or will she be lost to him forever?

Book Links:

Goodreads * Amazon

Read an Excerpt:

Calypso’s breasts heaved with each breath she took beneath the supple black leather. Stretching out beyond the full-length windows, lightning ripped through the night sky as Calypso opened the french doors and stepped out onto the patio. The subtle glide of leather-overheated flesh sent shards of heat through her.

A fine shiver raced over her body and she gasped. Somewhere out there he waited…the culmination of all her lust. From behind her the sound of Angrail and his mate’s passion could be heard and it fired her own. Long denied, her lust stirred, slithering through her body like some beast she longed to kill.

She closed her eyes, the image playing across her mind… Sweat slicked skin heaved with each swing of a massive blade. Thin, black lines danced across his chest, swirling down into the curve of a hip, the bulge of his shaft behind his pants teasing her. Muscles bunched and flexed with each step, each blow. Powerful, deadly, his essence called to her, seduced her with its warmth and need.

Calypso stepped to the edge of the balcony and peered over the ornate banister. Beneath her the roaring of the falls drifted upward in a silvery cloud of noise and mist.

She glanced over her shoulder, her fists clenching with emotion. Centuries of service, of loyalty, had been rewarded with freedom, yet she didn’t yearn for such a gift. Nay, she yearned for what was beyond her. Angrail was content, he was loved, and out of her grasp. Accepting it hadn’t come easy, long nights of bitter envy and tears had come before she’d realized it was necessary.

Come to me. As soft as the wind playing with her braid, the whisper slipped through the chinks in her armor and shot straight to her heart.

With a soft sigh, Calypso hopped onto the banister and inhaled a breath. Arms outstretched, she stepped into mid-air, years of training and skill set in her muscles. Fresh, sweet wind flowed along her body, wrapping her in a warm shawl of familiarity. Without a sound, she landed on the rocks below, her knees folding beneath her as her body coiled in to brace itself.

About the Author:

Ciara

Welcome to Ciara Lake’s World. Meet Gorgeous Werewolves, Vampires, Dragons, Mermaids, Wizards, Witches, Mythological Gods and Goddesses, Mere Mortals And More! Fiction has always been a passion of mine. Creating worlds and developing characters is a great way for me to relieve the stress and strain of my everyday world. In fantasy (paranormal) and sci-fi stories, the author has the unique ability to invent wonderfully exotic places and people. I do that in my books. These fantastic genres provide a limitless ability to be creative and inventive. My stories provide an escape into a special world filled with unique and otherworldly things. And there is always a happy ending.

Contact the Author:

Website * Twitter * Goodreads

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Book Blitz – India: Whose Country Is It Anyway?

About the Book:

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India’s rich diversity, both in its physical and natural aspects, is widely known. India has had a great past with achievements in literature, the arts, medicine and mathematics. 

Indians were sea-faring and they spread their influence through their philosophy, religion and military conquest too. But Like a cosmic phenomenon, decline is every civilization is inevitable. Indian civilization too declined. 

When a civilization rises, people are driven by idealism; when people are possessed of greed, it declines and falls. 

Indians today are possessed of excessive, abominable, putrefying greed. 

The author tells it all in an honest, engaging manner. He holds a mirror unto ourselves.

Book Link:

Amazon

About the Author:

I hail from a middle class family. Son of a soldier, I did my studies in Bengaluru obtaining a Bachelor’s degree (from St. Joseph’s College) in Science and then in Law from a different college. 

Though not very serious about studies, I took to books with keen interest in social sciences history in particular, literature and natural sciences (in general) and current affairs. I am drawn wittingly towards that abstract thinking – that is, philosophy.

Worked in a Government-owned Insurance Company – United India Insurance Co Ltd – as a Salesman (designated as Development Officer) and retired voluntarily a decade ago.

I spend time reading and writing, travelling both within the country and outside. I ardently believe in community work; I concentrate on education of children, obviously from poor background.  

Nationalism – i.e. love of fellow citizens – is my creed. I am passionate about friendships, am devoid of all other -isms.

Contact the author via eMail

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