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VBT – Gun Kiss

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Gun Kiss
by Khaled Talib

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GENRE: Thriller

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Teaser_Gun Kiss

BLURB:

The United States media is abuzz with news of the mysterious disappearance of Hollywood movie star, Goldie St. Helen.

Ex-Delta Force Blake Deco receives a tip from a Mexican friend that a drug lord, obsessed with the beautiful actress, is holding her captive in Tijuana.

With the help of a reluctant army friend, Blake mounts a daring rescue.

What he doesn’t expect is to have feelings for Goldie—or that a killer is hunting them.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000040_00069]

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Excerpt:

Clad in tactical black, Blake rested on his chest in the dark chaparral. He watched his curly-haired friend beside him maneuver the tiny dragonfly drone with his phone. The luminous screen showed its flight path toward Dai Lo’s hacienda in the northeastern outskirts of Tijuana, nothing around it for miles.

The drone sent back images of the 375,000 square feet compound, including some of Dai Lo’s men patrolling. It hovered in front of the three-floor mansion built with stacked balconies and double-hung windows. It then swooped down to a porch with three tall columns under a pediment. Finding no entry point, Jack raised it up again.

“I’m going to circle behind,” Jack said.

“Do that,” Blake responded.

“You going to kill Dai Lo?” Jack asked.

“Not unless I have to. I’m not an assassin,” Blake said.

“So why did you give Chavez the impression you will?”

“If Chavez knew what I was thinking, he wouldn’t give me the weapons. Then how are we going to save the actress?”

“You better know what you’re doing, Blake.”

“If you still want to go on that European tour, start thinking positive.”

The tiny drone went around the mansion and flew past a lit pool, buffeting over a garden and an annex connected by a sheltered catwalk. It moved sideways until it came to a lit corner window on the third level. The visual zoomed closer to the windowsill and sent back an image that left both men recoiling with gasps.

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AUTHOR Bio and Links:

AuthorPhoto_GunKiss

Khaled Talib is a former journalist with local and international exposure. He has authored three thrillers since 2014.

The author’s works have been praised by NY Times bestselling author Gayle Lynds, NY Times bestselling author Ruth Harris, USA Today bestselling author Jon Land, NY Times bestselling author Keith Thomson, K.J. Howe, and Jon McGoran.

His debut thriller, Smokescreen, was listed as one of the six “boundary-breaking indies” in 2016 by the IndieReader. His second novel, Incognito, won the Silver Award for the AuthorsDB Book Cover Contest 2017. Gun Kiss is his third novel.

Khaled, who is also a member of the International Thriller Writers, resides in Singapore.

Authors website : http://www.khaledtalibthriller.com
Twitter account: https://twitter.com/KhaledTalib
Author Facebook account: https://www.facebook.com/khaled.talib/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/khaledtalibbooks
Author Amazon page: https://www.amazon.com/default/e/B00DYPSB72?redirectedFromKindleDbs=true
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6940359.Khaled_Talib

Gun Kiss (YouTube) Book Trailer

GUN KISS Buy links:

The book will be on sale for only $0.99.

Author website direct: http://khaledtalibthriller.com/books/
Amazon Kindle
https://www.amazon.com/Gun-Kiss-Khaled-Talib-ebook/dp/B07CVGKQY6
Smashwords
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/823918
Kobo
https://www.amazon.com/Gun-Kiss-Khaled-Talib-ebook/dp/B07CVGKQY6
B&N
https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/gun-kiss-khaled-talib/1127553149?ean=2940155243199
Ibooks/Apple
https://itunes.apple.com/nz/book/gun-kiss/id1380716623?mt=11

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RAFFLECOPTER GIVEAWAY

Khaled Talib will be awarding a Amazon Fire 7 8GB tablet to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. The prize is limited to U.S. and Canada only.

Enter to win a Kindle Fire – a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Interview With … Khaled Talib

Welcome Khaled. Tell us about you as a person.

I’m intuitive and stubborn, but that doesn’t mean I won’t offer a lending ear. I’m considered serious by many, but that’s because I know who will appreciate my humor and who won’t. I’m not loud and I like my privacy, so when people obtusely ask me personal questions, which is common where I live, they’ll never see me again.

If you could hang out with one famous person for one day, who would it be and why?

George Clooney. I like his style and temperament. I enjoy watching him in all kinds of movies. He’s a cool and sensitive guy. I remember reading about him once settling the bill of another customer at a restaurant in Berlin. He thought he and his friends were noisy and he was concerned that they might’ve disturbed the customer’s peace.

What’s the story behind your latest book?

Gun Kiss is an accidental book. After completing my second thriller, Incognito, wasn’t sure if I could write another book. I couldn’t sleep one night because my legs were cramping. While rubbing them with an ointment, I watched an old comedy starring a famous actress.

Suddenly, an idea came to write a novel. I started working on it immediately. It’s a fun and breezy novel set in southern California. I can’t say what movie or which actress inspired me to write the book, at least not now. It’s my little secret.

Gun Kiss is a story about a former Delta Force soldier who runs a taco restaurant in Sunset Boulevard. He wears a few hats. He gets into trouble after rescuing a famous movie star from an obsessed drug lord in Tijuana. He finds himself falling in love with her, but their moments together are constantly interrupted by the drug lord stalking them and killing everyone around them to exact revenge.

What is your writing process? 

I can write anytime with music or without. Sometimes I listen to music with a certain tempo to boost my energy level, especially for action scenes. When I do listen to music, it doesn’t have to be something that was recently released. It could be from any era. After all, music is music. I also stockpile chocolates to boost my endorphins. I don’t force myself to write if I’m tired. I’ll just take a break and watch some TV and resume the next day.

Tell us about your main character:

Blake Deco is a fictional character. He lives in Hollywood Hills and he’s been trying to break into the movie business as a screen writer. He’s not been successful. He joined the army for a while before setting up a taco restaurant in Sunset Boulevard. Blake is a slightly tense personality with money concerns. He’s worried about the restaurant’s overheads. So, he also moonlights for Homeland Security and the FBI as an artefact hunter. In the beginning of the story, he is tasked by the FBI to recover the Deringer that shot Abraham Lincoln, which has been stolen by a Russian military general in the Balkans. At the same time, he’s compassionate, which explains why he decides to rescue the abducted movie star. It wasn’t part of any assigned mission, but something he chose to do on his own.

If your book was to be turned into a movie, who would play the lead role and why.

James Marsden. I see him as Blake Deco. His expressions are not rigid and he’s capable of expressing different emotions. My protagonist is complex; he can be funny and angsty at the same time. He’s also action-driven and well-toned. He’s neither big nor small.

What are you working on next?

I’m working on a thriller set in South Australia. It’s called Spiral. I used to manage the public relations account of the South Australian Tourism Commission for the Singapore office. My duties included bringing journalists to the State, so I’m familiar with the region. Spiral is a mystery thriller that introduces a Sydneysider working in a Clare Valley vineyard. One night, he stumbles on a dead body…

What advice do you have for other writers who want to get the word out about their book?

You can’t afford to detach yourself from the marketing and promotion side. It means spending time every single day creating awareness through social media platforms, advertising on book promotion sites, and pitching to book bloggers. I also manage an email newsletter that goes out to my subscribers. I feel the newsletter is most important because you’re in direct contact with your readers.

What is your favorite book on your shelf right now?

The Bone Shroud by Jean Rabe. It’s a thriller about an archivist at the Chicago Field Museum who travels to Italy to attend the wedding of her brother. However, the occasion turns into a desperate search for historical relics, and a struggle to stay ahead of a killer.

Do you have any special/extraordinary talents?

I create my own book trailers. Please let me know what you think of the one I did for Gun Kiss.

You are given the choice of one super power. What super power would you have and why?

If I could be like Superman and fly, I would protect every child on earth.

Any final thoughts?

I want to write more stories. I hope I can.

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VBT – Three Brothers

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About the Author

Joerg H. Trauboth

Joerg H. Trauboth (Wikipedia) was born just outside of Berlin in 1943 during an air-raid. He discovered his love for writing early in his career as an officer and was awarded top honors by the General Inspector of the German Bundeswehr. Along the way, he flew over two thousand flight hours as a Weapons Systems Officer and instructor in the Phantom RF4E (in which he survived two critical lightening strikes). After a training in George AFB (CA), Major Joerg H. Trauboth flew the  Phantom F4F  and finally – followed by another conversion training in Cottesmore (UK) –  the Tornado aircrafts. Trauboth became a General Staff Officer in the Military Academy of the German Armed Forces in Hamburg-Blankenese and enrolled as LtCol  in the NATO Defense College in Rome. He has served in the German national operational headquarters as well as in the NATO Headquarters in Brussels as the German representative in the areas of Crisis Management, Operations, and Intelligence.

At the age of fifty, he retired early from his post as a Colonel in the German Air Force to become a Special Risk Consultant at the Control Risk Group in London. He was trained and engaged in negotiating extortion and kidnapping situations in South America and Eastern Europe.

The former Colonel, eager to start making money on his own soon founded the Trauboth Risk Management company. He received a startup award and quickly made a reputation for himself internationally as an top-notch crisis manager in Europe. During his time as CEO, he conceptualized crisis prevention strategies for a number of European companies and employed a 24-hour task force to protect them from product tampering, product recalls, kidnappings, and image crises. He was also a co-founder and the first president of the European Crisis Management Academy in Vienna and wrote a standard reference book on the subject of crisis management for companies at risk of threat.

Today Joerg H. Trauboth is an author, filmmaker with more than 75.000 youtube clicks, and an enthusiastic Grumman Tiger pilot. (See this latest night flight-video here. And if you want to know who his favorite Co-Pilot is, have a look here.)  The crisis manager and active pilot has served as the European Director and President of the US – based international American Yankee Pilots Organization.

His advice on crisis management is continually sought after and he is present as expert in radio and television interviews regarding his opinion on  international crisis situations.

Joerg H. Trauboth has been  53 years married with Martina. They have two sons, three grandchildren, and both live near Bonn, Germany. In addition, Trauboth voluntarily contributes his expertise to the Crisis Invention Team of the German Federal Foreign Office in Bonn and reads from his fiction and non fiction books on readers’ tours followed by discussions with his readers about the dramatically changing world.

Joerg’s latest book is the thriller, Three Brothers.

WEBSITE & SOCIAL LINKS:

WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK | YOUTUBE

About the Book:

Title: THREE BROTHERS
Author: Joerg H. Trauboth
Publisher: Ratio Books
Pages: 581
Genre: Thriller

Three Brothers

BOOK BLURB:

Marc Anderson and his two commando brothers Thomas and Tim are highly respected elite soldiers in the secretive German Commando Special Forces, the KSK. Together with the American Navy Seals, they successfully rescue the crew of a downed American F-15 tactical fighter jet in the Hindu Kusch Mountains under a barrage of heavy fire from the Taliban. However, their next mission – in Northern Iraq – to save two German hostages taken captive by the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, ends in disaster for the three brothers in arms. The perfectly laid-out strategy of Operation Eagle is betrayed, causes Marc, Thomas, and Tim to narrowly escape death. The German Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) starts the hunt for the informant.

The devoted commando brothers decide to leave the KSK and start a new career together as security advisors with a family-owned company based in Cologne. But the terrorist activities of ISIS continue to determine their fate. The brothers are faced with one of their greatest challenges when ISIS kidnaps company heir Johannes Ericson and his partner Karina Marie. Moreover, the terrorists demand a ransom and extort the German government to immediately suspend its military intervention in the fight against ISIS. It is a race against time to save the couple from assassination.

Joerg H. Trauboth has written more than just an exhilarating novel. Three Brothers unites the current omnipresent threat of terrorism with the author’s first-hand experience as a crisis manager and a military and terrorism expert. The result is an unrivaled political thriller. In this gripping novel, Trauboth foretells possible scenarios for our society in light of the rise of radical Islamic terrorism. Read the full chapter 1 here …

Three Brothers is the English translation of the successful German thriller Drei Brüder (ratio-books), highly appreciated by thousands of readers, as well as military organizations and government officials alike. Jörg H. Trauboth’s storytelling skills can be compared to those of Tom Clancy and similar authors as James Patterson. The German version of the novel will also soon be available as an audio book.

Drei Brüder has been translated into English by (US native) Leanne Cvetan.

ORDER YOUR COPY:

Amazon

Youtube Link:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7uym8p3rlv0&list=PLGeO_Iw6CFgDpDRmMuqKHUTjqxCeZ-ESP

YouTube Code:

Book Excerpt:

Afghanistan

For the last five hours, a group of six men have been trudging through the dark, barren landscape of the vast Hindu Kush Mountains. The distant howling of a lone wolf accompanies them as does the cold wind, but the men don’t seem to feel the sting.One of them stops abruptly. Marc Anderson, captain of the German KSK Special Forces Commando, raises his hand to his neck and decisively whispers into his throat mic.

“George, I see her. The nose of the aircraft is at eleven o’clock, the tail at two.”

George, the short, wiry Navy Seal One squad leader from Ohio, folds down the night vision lens mounted on his helmet.

For whatever reason, the fighter jet did not explode, but the debris is still smoldering.

“Copy that, I’ll inform Bagram Air Base.” “Charlie Force from Echo Force – over.” “Echo Team – go ahead – over.”

“We found the jet – now searching for the crew – over.” “Roger Echo Team – we’re waiting for your response – over.”

As unorthodox as it is, the Navy Seals insisted on having German elite soldier Marc Anderson with them on the mission. He is one of the few soldiers who knows the area, located deep in the hinterlands of Afghanistan, better than anyone else on account of a number of earlier missions in the region. At only 27 years old, the tall, slender soldier from the southern German town of Calw has already achieved legendary status among the American and British Special Forces. Together with the Navy Seals, he has succeeded in rescuing and retrieving American soldiers from behind enemy lines, securing himself a formidable reputation as both a leader and a team player.

But Anderson refused to do the job on his own: “Only if I can take my commando brothers with me,” he told the commanders at Bagram Air Base. “Only with Thomas and Tim.”

“OK, Marc, agreed.”

The Seals know full well what “Band of Brothers” means. Elite soldiers throughout all the Special Armed Forces are not just comrades, they are brothers. On this mission – the search for a U.S. fighter jet gone missing along with its crew – the Seals have three German brothers. Nationalities play no role, however, only professionalism and unconditional trust. Marc also agreed to the mission since he and George have worked well together on previous missions.

Echo Force, made up of U.S. Seals One, Two, Three, and the German KSK soldiers Marc, Thomas, and Tim, had parachuted in during night. They chose a landing site six and a half miles from the F-15E Strike Eagle’s last known position in the hope of not being discovered by the Taliban. There were no exact coordinates of the crash site. What’s worse, they weren’t able to receive any location transmission from the crew. The pilot had only managed to transmit “No engine – Mayday – May- day – Bailing out!” at the last minute as they lost altitude.  A hasty final message, nothing more. Everything seems to have happened very quickly. The crew must have needed to abandon the aircraft immediately, there would have been no time for discussion.

After a successful landing, they spent the next five hours systematically scouring the possible search site of twelve square miles at almost ten thousand feet altitude.

Marc was a true pathfinder in this unwieldy and perilous terrain. The Americans trusted him whole-heartedly, and with good reason, as he proved once again. He immediately found the wreckage of the F-15 in the pitch-dark of night and undetected in this hostile territory. They operate meticulously together, as though they have done this a million times before: Marc out in front, checking the terrain, giving signals, the other five men following, step for step, crouched down, secure, silent. The stillness of the dark magnifies every word and any misstep on the gravel is a potential giveaway for the Taliban.

While George now relays the coordinates to the American intervention force standing by, Marc scans the crash site with his telescope. The F-15 was not shot down but crashed due to technical problems. That seemed clear. However, the crash would have been heard all throughout the Hindu Kush Mountains. It was very possible that the Taliban has already taken the crew captive and were now waiting for the Navy Seals. That’s how it typically happened at least.

“Thomas, please report.” “Left is clear.”

“Tim?”

“Right is clear.”

Slowly, and securing all sides, the spotter team moves toward the crash site.

“I’ll take it from here, Marc.”

“Okay, George, you’re in command.”

George leads the troop within 300 yards of the wreckage. The aircraft’s nose and cockpit are stuck in the ground like a giant arrow. Bent, but incredibly, still intact.

And exactly right there where there’s that tiny patch of earth, he thinks to himself.

“Can you see anyone in the cockpit?” asks Marc.

“Negative, can’t see anything through the glass, but the canopy is missing.”

“Thomas and Tim – the two of you to the wreckage and report back. The rest of you wait here,” whispers George into his throat mic.

The two Germans start to move. Just like the old comedians Ole and Axel, or like Laurel and Hardy, Marc thinks. Thomas, a tall, strapping blonde, built like the Hulk. Next to him, Tim, also in excellent physical shape, only considerably shorter and, who with his signature black goatee, looks like an Afghan.

They cautiously approach the front section of the wreckage on both sides. The rest of the group tensely watches every move their two German brothers make. It is absolutely silent, save for that wolf. The cold wind that tirelessly blows in this region goes completely unnoticed as they all lie on the ground and watch. The night is not just dark, it is black. Pitch-black. No stars shine, no light reflects off the ground. Barren cliffs, a few shrubs, no trees at this altitude. They see only whatever appears in their night vision devices. The little bit of light available is electronically magnified as a green image of the area. They are used to this artificial picture.

“Option one:” says George, “they are still strapped to their seats and then it’ll be a mess. Option two: one of them is still there and the other managed to get out. Or option three: they both made it out.”

“The only question is, why they aren’t answering,” Marc whispers in George’s direction. George whispers back, “which means option one.”

Thomas and Tim reach the nose.

“Thomas on Seal One: no one in the cockpit, ejector seats missing, the crew ejected.”

“Understood, good news, do you see their papers?” They shine a light inside.

From the distance, the three Navy Seals and Marc are blinded as the light from the two KSK soldiers flash in their goggles like bright strike of lightening.

“Maps and a kneeboard,” reports Tim.

“Okay, take that with you. Thomas, you prepare an explosive.”

First Sergeant Thomas Heinrich, a six-foot tall ball of muscle and the explosives expert takes off his 80-pound knapsack which belongs to his profile as though it has grown attached to his back. His comrades have only ever seen him with either a heavy bag or on a bench press. And always with a combat knife under his pillow.

While he lays the explosive, his shorter friend Tim secures the immediate area surrounding the jet. Neither of them speaks a word to the other. They don’t need to. They know each other better than any old married couple. That’s also the reason George sent them to the wreckage site.

In less than four minutes, Thomas prepares the cockpit with explosives for remote ignition.

“Finished, George.”

“OK men, now slowly retreat.”

A few minutes later, the group is complete again. Six men, two nations, one team.

They hide between some boulders and use their night vision devices to establish any other possible reference points. Cliffs, ridges, gaps. Where could the parachutes be? And the ejector seats? At least the seats are big enough to spot, if they are here.

George waves to Marc to come over. “What do you suggest?”

“According to the radar, the F-15 was flying on an easterly course. That means we need to look for the men to the west. The weapon systems operator shot himself out first, so we should be able to find him to the west of the wreckage, but the pilot should be here closer to it.”

George nods in agreement. The person in the rear always activates his seat first, otherwise he runs the risk of getting hit by the seat of man before him.

Marc refers to the digital map with a scale of 1:50,000. Mountains, rivers, nothing else. To these westerners, the unforgiving, cold Hindu Kush Mountain range is a barren and alien landscape.

“I think we should go this way” “Okay, boy scout, you take over.” “Affirmative.”

These standard procedures are the pre-requisites of a functioning team. One man takes the lead and the others confirm. It is the case in the cockpit and is no different in Team Echo Force, currently led by Marc Anderson.

He speaks softly to the group.

“Seals One, Two, and Three, you take the left side. Thomas, Tim, and I will take the right. I will be in the middle. Keep a distance of no more than 30 meters between you. Everyone has contact with his neighbor.”

They disperse.

“In position,” each of them confirms one after the other. They now stand in a line of approximately 160 yards across. Each one by on his own, but they can each see the soldier on either side of them. Their brothers in times of crisis.

Marc looks at his compass, 270 degrees. They start to move. After thirty minutes they reach a long, narrow ridge.

“Down,” Marc radios quietly to the others. They lay flat on the ground. Marc slowly pushes himself against a bare cliff. He lifts his head, weighed down by a heavy helmet, ever so slightly to get an overview. In front of him is an open area with large, round boulders and steep cliffs, interspersed with deep cracks that he can barely make out in the almost non-existent light of night. The white glow he sees above it through his night vision device is the snow at twenty thousand feet.

Marc laboriously searches the area. Nothing. No ejector seat, no parachute. Only this sea of rocks and sparse vegetation. A wretched green world of artificial reality through the lenses of his night vision device.

“We can’t take the straight path, Gentlemen. There is a rift two hundred meters in. The end of the road.”

The group continues westward, securing the way as they go. George suddenly stops.

“Do you hear that, Marc?”

Their radios give off a faint screeching that intensifies and then fades again.

“The distress signal, George! Gentlemen, we have contact!” The troop knows that this is the signal pilots activate upon ejecting and is only transmitted for a few minutes per hour.

“Five minutes past each full hour, that’s right, just as we discussed. That’s our man, George!”

“What’s the bearing, Marc?”

“Eleven o’clock. The source is pretty damn quiet. He must be lightyears away.”

The men of Echo Force can feel their pulse quickening. They’ve made contact with one of the crew! They keep formation and continue their search. They still do not have the location coordinates. Unexpectedly, they are forced to stop. A dark and terrifying 25-feet-wide abyss stretches out before them, like a hungry, open mouth.

The tone of the distress signal abruptly increases its shrill intensity from one second to the next.

Startled, George turns down the volume. “He must be right here.”

“Tim to Marc, I see a parachute in the opening, about 20 meters down.”

“Everyone, round up – go to Tim,” Marc whispers into his mic. “George, you take over!

“Affirmative!”

They crawl over to him, very close to edge of the rift, and shine a light down. They can see something that doesn’t belong there. The remnants of a parachute hanging from the ledges of two cliffs. The laser device measures 23 meters.

There is something else. George gasps as he recognizes it in the green light. Not that someone is hanging lifelessly from the shreds of the parachute, but the never-ending emptiness that continues below. George knows at once it will be a challenge getting that poor guy out of there without him falling completely into the abyss.

“But is he okay?”

He shines his light at the figure. “Are you okay down there?”

“Are you Americans?” answers a weak voice from the depths.

George beams. He’s alive!

“Yes, my friend, we will fly down from Heaven and get you out of there.”

“It’s about damn time! I’m freezing my ass off here!”

He seems to be all right, George thinks and calls into the cavern:

“Did you have to pick this one to fall into?”

“I love rifts, but even this is a bit too big for me!” George proudly looks over to Marc.

“That is one cool dude hanging there. Talks like a real Texan. Let’s get him out!”

George looks at his team. He would likely need two soldiers down there. One to secure against any further falling and the other for the recovery. Navy Seal One knows that Tim and Thomas have the most experience in these kinds of rappelling situations, thus, the German friends are called to take over once again.

“Tim and Thomas, start the descent.”

A few moments later, the inseparable team descend into the darkness of the rift. The Navy Seals secure them from above. Marc and George direct light into the chasm to allow the two as much orientation as possible. But the light is quickly lost in the dark. They need to be careful not to touch the parachute or the straps. Still, the descent lasts less than sixty seconds.

“We have him,” radios Tim.

The Texan is hanging freely. Completely unhindered. There is nothing there he could have grabbed onto to slow down his fall. One false move and the shreds of his parachute would flatter behind him as he fell to his death at the bottom of this seemingly bottomless pit.

Once he had stopped falling, he cautiously reached for his flashlight with a haunting suspicion. A sharp pain in his upper right arm. What was wrong? He touched his shoulder with his right hand.

Intense pain.

Fear.

No false moves!

It took him a while until he finally got hold of his flashlight. What he saw underneath terrified him. He saw nothing.

The beam of light did not allow him to even faintly guess at the depth of the chasm below. It was like the secret entrance to Nirvana. Was it 50 meters, 1000 meters? He would try banging against the wall a few times and then…

Oh, my God…

He shined the light upward. The parachute seemed to be caught pretty good between two sections of rock. He had only gradually been able to convince himself that he can trust the anchoring above him. He talked to his parachute, gently begging it with loving words to hold strong. Something clipped his head. And again. A number of times.

Bats?

Doesn’t matter, don’t move! This damn pain. The cold.

His torso felt like it was dying off under the tension of the straps. Would his rescuers even hear his distress signal?

As he looked up through the narrow window-like opening to the sky and saw a few stars, he started to find hope. They had practiced a rescue mission behind enemy lines a number of times. He knew that the CSAR team must be on their way. And here they are! Thank God! They were able to locate him in this godforsaken rift.

“Nice to meet you!” Tim calls to him and grabs his straps to latch him on to his own. But the Texan can only stare at Tim, whose fuzzy, black goatee sprouts out over the chin strap of his helmet.

“You are not an American, you’re a Taliban!” Tim laughs.

“No, I am your friend Tim from the German Mountain Rescue Team!”

The American looked dubiously at Tim’s face.

Then Thomas joins in. “And I am Thomas, old friend! You can call me Tom, but just for today. Nice place you got here.”

“I’m going to free you now from the parachute,” says the suspected Taliban, “and then I’ll hook you to the elevator going up. Hold on to me. Are you ready?”

The American nods.

He jolts downward and lets out a scream so loud it must have woken up all of Hindu Kush.

“Fuck, something’s wrong with my shoulder, watch out.”

The burly Texan clings to Tim’s slender frame, his face is twisted in pain.

“Thomas on George, dislocated or broken right shoulder. No blood.”

Tim grabs him by the hips and uses his feet and back to repel off the walls of the cavern.

“Let’s go, Cowboy! Bringing you up to mama!”

The three arrive at the top only a few moments later. As Echo Force secures the area behind them, George and Marc welcome the rescued man.

“I’m George, Navy Seal. You are among friends. Are you the pilot or the weapon systems operator?”

“Les Miller, WSO. Have you found my pilot Buddy already?”

“Negative. How much time was there between you each ejecting?

“Two seconds at the most.”

George thought for a moment. Buddy was not at the wreckage, at least not in a direct line with Les.

“Then Buddy must be here in the vicinity. We need to search again.”

“Charlie Force from Echo Force. We have Les.” “Copy that, Echo Force – we are standing by.” “Can you run, Les?”

“How fast do you think you could run after having your balls crushed for the past seven hours?” He casts an eye at Tim: “Watch your Taliban there, I don’t trust him!”

He then pulls a clump of something out of his pocket and gives it to his new friend from the German Mountain Rescue Team.

“What is it?” “Chocolate, Taliban!”

“How’s your shoulder, Les? Do you think you need a shot?”

“Depends on what you plan to do with me. I certainly can’t crawl on the ground.”

Buddy McAllen is not far away. In fact, they almost trip over his ejector seat. The wind fills his parachute, causing it to pull away from the long, slender body of the American pilot and then deflate again. Buddy is shaking. The right side of his head along with his short blond hair is covered in blood. George sees a large dark stain on Buddy’s olive-green flight suit just above his right hip and, underneath him, a rather large pool of dried blood on the ground.

“That doesn’t look good,” George signals to Marc, “he must have hit against that sharp rock in the dark.”

“Buddy, can you hear me?” George jiggles him. Thomas takes a water bottle out of his knapsack and carefully pours a fine trickle of water over his neck. The American does not move. Marc smacks him gently on the cheek and tries talking to him.

“Buddy, we are your friends, can you hear me, you are almost home. I will just take a look at that leg.”

“Charlie Force from Echo Team. We have Buddy – need a medic – ASAP!”

George reads off the coordinates from his mobile GPS and waits for confirmation.

“It’s our lucky day, boys! We have both men, secure radio communication, and Charlie Force will be here in fifteen minutes.”

He looks at Buddy, who is badly hurt, then adds: “But we’ve got a real bad situation here.”

The troop is highly-visible from the front. There is no natural protection. Behind them is a hill with an unobstructed view of them from above. Buddy is sitting out in the open, propped up against a large rock as though he were a Thanksgiving turkey. It’s a miracle he hasn’t been discovered already.

The rest of the squad lays flat on the ground while Thomas attends to Buddy’s wounds. He inspects the deep wound on Buddy’s thigh, dresses it with a compression bandage, and wraps him in a thermal foil blanket. He’s lost a lot of blood and could suffer a circulatory collapse. Thomas is a medic, but Buddy needs more than Thomas has in his first-aid kit.

“His pulse is very low, George.”

“Buddy, don’t fall asleep. What is your wife’s name?” George asks.

Buddy opens his eyes slowly. For the first time. “Linda…my girlfriend.”

“Where does Linda live, Buddy?” “New Jersey.”

George’s face lights up. Buddy is pale, moaning, and breathing heavily.

“Tell her that I love her,” he whispers.

“You can tell her that yourself when you see her at Bagram, Buddy, do you hear? What do you think about that, Buddy? Buddy, say something!”

Buddy looks at George with blank eyes. His lips start to make a shape. George put his ear to Buddy’s mouth.

“Les…is he okay?”

George waves WSO Les to come to him. “Keep him awake, Les, and encourage him.” Les’ brawny stature leans over his pilot.

“Buddy, man, don’t give up, Linda needs you. I need you in our fucking F-15. You aren’t going to leave me hanging, are you, Buddy? How do you want your hamburger when we get back to Bagram, Buddy? How about a big Texas burger with cheese and peppers and Mexican toppings? Do you want mustard on it, or ketchup?”

Buddy opens his eyes again slightly and softly smiles. After all, Les, whom he has been flying with for the past six months just described his absolute favorite dish.

Then his eyes close again. Thomas and Marc nod to each other. His condition is critical. Buddy must get an IV within the next thirty minutes, or that’ll be the end of it.

Tim’s green goggles wander over the horizon from right to left, left to right.

“We are not in a good location, not good at all.”

“We can’t move,” whispers Marc, “Charlie Force is expecting us to be at these coordinates.” Marc additionally scans the area which appears more like the ugly landscape of an alien planet through the infra-red residual light amplifier.

Marc is not interested in the regular green hue of his night vision device. He is looking for a glaring green, the white of clothing, and black. People.

“Oh man, we are not in a good location, not at all. Like sitting ducks,” Tim repeats himself.

Marc shivers.

“Taliban at ten o’clock!”

In the telescope he could see  the outline of a group of  men approaching. Five, six? They seem to be searching for something and were gradually coming closer.

The faint lull of voices could be heard through the hazy early morning sunrise.

“Charlie Force – Tangos in the area,” George radios quietly to the approaching troop.

“Roger – Five minutes to go – Stay where you are.”

The Echo Force lies as flat on the ground as possible, partially protected by a handful of small boulders. Thomas pulls Buddy down, he groans loudly. It can start at any minute. The Americans are individually equipped with rapid-fire weapons from the Navy Seals’ secret weapons arsenal, the Germans with G 36KA2s. Encounters with the enemy are practiced a thousand times. But it still causes their blood to race through their veins, and their pulse to increase, the adrenaline runs high.

George sees one of the Afghans throw his arm in the air. A sign?

Now loud shouts. More Afghans!

George contemplates when it’s the right time. “Fire only at my command!”

He doesn’t like long-distance fighting. The others don’t either. They all nod to their leader.

“Two tangos at three o’clock, behind the rock, thirty yards,” Seal Two radios.

“Okay, I have him.”

“Four tangos at ten…,” adds Seal Three.

Suddenly, the cracking sound of a missile being shot from a rocket-propelled grenade breaks the silence. It misses Echo Team by only a few feet. George studies the situation. That was close. Really close! A moment later, Taliban fighters abandon their concealment positions and charge the men.

“FIRE!”

The elite soldiers systematically take aim at each individual enemy fighter.

Bull’s eye! A direct hit!

Dark, black blotches appear in Marc’s night vision goggles 20 meters out.

Blood. Blood is black. Aim. POP!

Tango at three o’clock! The information is conveyed through hand signals and head movements.

Precision shots.

Short drumfire. The casings rattle out the right side like a waterfall.

Targets to the front, on the side, upright, crouching, jumping.

Just like in the training room. Only now with short screams. The team acts with clockwork precision.

The distance between them and the enemy fighters is becoming shorter and shorter. There are too many, many too many…

“Gentlemen, they want us use up all our ammunition,” Marc says. But a guy like Marc always has enough.

He, along with Tim and Thomas, are regarded as best sharp shooters in Calw, the hometown of the German Special Forces. And he never wastes magazine cartridges with sustained fire. Even if thirty men were attacking him. That would cause his G36 to overheat and lose accuracy.

Marc does not like inaccuracy.

One of the Taliban kneels against the side of a rock. He’s looking for a target. Through his night filter 80 attachment, Marc only sees the warhead of the bazooka. An ugly, spiked, green tube. About a hundred yards out.

Short artillery fire from the bar magazine. Directly to the head. The Afghan whirls through the air. In the green visor, black blotches. His head is gone.

George nods to him.

He knows that killing people is a very disconcerting legal problem for the Germans. Germans do not shoot to kill suspects. But this is a fight for survival! The rules of engagement are fulfilled – and they are alone among themselves.

Buddy groans and tries to sit upright. Thomas forces him back down.

“He needs an IV, George, or he’s gonna die!”

“Tell him he’ll be on his way home to Linda in five minutes.” Shots scream over their heads.

“Did you hear that, Buddy? We’re gonna be on our way in a few minutes, just hold on. Linda’s waiting for you.”

George and his two Seals fire to the front, the Germans cover the hill behind them.

They are surrounded. It’s getting pretty damn close!

George feels fear creeping up inside of him that his troop won’t make it out of this goldfish bowl. He has no solution. They need help immediately.

“CHARLIE FORCE – ECHO TEAM IS UNDER HEAVY FIRE!” “ROGER ECHO TEAM – WE ARE…”

The sentence gets swallowed by noise. The sound of a helicopter! The most beautiful noise an elite soldier can  ask for in a desperate situation. From out of nowhere, two AH-64 Apache attack helicopters appear in the sky over the valley. They are rather more heard than seen. Air-to-ground missiles whoosh out of the missile pods on either side of the helicopters at the small groups of Taliban fighters, followed by bursts of fire from the 30-millimeter aircraft cannon. George’s anxiety from a moment ago instantly disappears now that his fire-spewing dragons have arrived. Special night vision sensor, target acquisition system – don’t look directly at it or you’ll go blind!

A new roar of thunderous noise.

The long silhouette of a monster appears and comes closer. The Chinook transport helicopter hovers heavily some feet above the ground. Rattling bullet fire percolates from the behemoth. Fifty life-saving yards away from the elite soldiers. Each yard is one too many! There are still too many Taliban. The pull of the tandem rotors kicks up stones and dirt in the air.

Why always these huge machines? Marc wonders, I hope this works out.

The leviathan lowers itself to the ground, first landing on its rear wheels, then the front.

It hits the ground, bounces, and finally comes to a halt on the lightly sloping, rocky ground. Charlie Force troops immediately jump out of the Chinook equipped with their night vision devices.

They kneel on one leg and take aim.

The Apaches rotate toward the target like remote-controlled robots to provide Echo Force cover from the fire.

Marc flips onto his back and assesses the situation for the forces. Next comes the most dangerous endeavor among all this pandemonium for them and the helicopters as this is a potentially perfect opportunity for an extraordinary ball of fire from only one of the Taliban rocket launchers.

The three Seals carry Les and Buddy, who in the meantime has lost consciousness, to the Chinook amidst the fire from the Apache helicopters.

Mission accomplished.

The medic rushes to Buddy with an IV and oxygen mask in hand. Buddy now has a chance of survival. Hopefully.

One of the Americans outfitted with a wire waves hectically at the door of the Chinook.

“GET IN, GET IN!”

“TIM, TANGO BEHIND YOU!”

Marc can’t help him. His brother is standing directly in the line of fire.

As sprightly as a cat, Tim shoots from the hip. The Taliban throws up his arms as he falls to the ground. His AK-47 flies into the air like some grotesque circus act.

“Thanks, Marc.”

Tangos on all sides. Echo Force runs, bent over, toward the helicopters.

Look, assess, shoot, new magazine, go!

Each of them secures a radius of sixty degrees.

Six times sixty. No sector is left unsecured. One for all and all for one.

Only more ten yards to the Chinook.

Charlie Force and Navy Seals One and Two are in and give cover to George and the three Germans, with assistance from the two death machines hovering nearby.

Thomas kneels down under the protection of the helicopter and activates the mobile device. In the distance they hear a massive explosive and the entire valley quakes. The echo reverberates for a long time as though the entire Hindu Kush is about to burst.

Mission accomplished.

Anything that was hidden must be destroyed now. The U.S. jet fighter would be reduced to only a heap of metal shards.

“HURRY UP, HURRY UP!” one of the Americans was still waiting in the door of the Chinook, wildly waving his arm. The giant monster is in danger. It wouldn’t be the first time soldiers had to be left behind.

Tim and Thomas make it in with a powerful leap, George and Seal One are right on their tails.

Marc is still on the ground. As always. First his troops, then him.

The monstrous helicopter starts to ascend. George waves to him in desperation.

Marc throws his weapon over his shoulder and sprints to the door, George grabs hold of his arm and pulls him in. Half hanging in the doorway,  Marc shoots his last rounds  of ammunition in the direction of the muzzle flash from the ground.

The three helicopters with Echo Force and the rescued F-15 crew disappear through the hazy valley.

Seal One proudly slaps his German friend on the shoulder from behind in acknowledgment.

Marc Anderson is currently at the zenith of his career, albeit unaware that his biggest challenge still lies ahead of him and that his luck as an elite soldier has now, as of today, just run out.

VBT – Monsterland Reanimated

TourBanner_Monsterland2

Monsterland Reanimated
by Michael Okon

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GENRE: Young Adult Fiction/Thriller

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BLURB:

After Monsterland has imploded, the entire world is thrown into chaos. World leadership is gone, economies have collapsed, and communications are non-existent. Wyatt must go beyond the boundaries of his small town to reestablish contact with the outside world, and alert the government about a traitor-in-chief.

During his journey he discovers a new threat released from the bowels of the defunct theme park.

When an army of relentless mummies, a life-sucking ooze called The Glob, and a hybrid reanimated Behemoth rise from the depths of Monsterland, who will survive?

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BookCover_monsterLand2

EXCERPT

A bright moon painted the desert’s surface pewter. Here and there, dark spots soiled the landscape like oil spills. Most of the bodies had been taken before the troops were ordered to leave. They carted away the corpses, bulldozing the zombies into mass graves, until radios chirped with urgent orders deploying the soldiers to the bigger threats that erupted in the main cities like a chain of angry volcanos.

Monsterland was extinguished, its carcass left for the vultures to pick, the exhibits silent as a tomb.

The dead president and his equally dead entourage were whisked away on Air Force One, along with the dark-clad special operatives that came and left like the brisk desert wind that now howled through the empty streets.

A gate screamed in the silence, slamming with a reverberating smash. The uneven gait of someone with a physical challenge filled the void. The scrape and plod of his limp echoed against the wall of mountains framing the theme park. His labored breathing huffed as he made his way down the streets.

A door creaked loudly as it was blown by the wind. He stopped, his distorted figure silhouetted in the pale moonlight, his body turning silver. He looked at the broken glass littering the pavement like diamonds, then up to the still, pre-dawn sky. He considered the sun peeking over the jagged horizon in the east, its golden light painting the dips and hollows of the hills. Soon the coming day would chase the darkness away.

Time was the enemy now. He had to move faster, or it would be too late. He picked up his pace, lurching along the winding road. A keening howl ricocheted through the streets, bouncing off the walls. It sounded like a … no, he thought, it couldn’t be. The werewolves were all dead. Destroyed by Vincent Konrad when he made their heads explode.

The old man paused, listening for it again, and was not disappointed when the animal whimpered. He gauged it to be inside the defunct vampire exhibit. He moved toward the entrance. The storefronts had been destroyed. A few body parts lay on the pavement, as if people had discarded them in a rush. He heard the scraping of paws on the street and a shiver went down his crooked spine.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

AUTHOR Bio and Links

AuthorPhoto_MonsterlandReanimated

Michael Okon is an award-winning and best-selling author of multiple genres including paranormal, thriller, horror, action/adventure and self-help. He graduated from Long Island University with a degree in English, and then later received his MBA in business and finance. Coming from a family of writers, he has storytelling in his DNA. Michael has been writing from as far back as he can remember, his inspiration being his love for films and their impact on his life. From the time he saw The Goonies, he was hooked on the idea of entertaining people through unforgettable characters.

Michael is a lifelong movie buff, a music playlist aficionado, and a sucker for self-help books. He lives on the North Shore of Long Island with his wife and children.

Website:
http://www.michaelokon.com/

Amazon Link:
https://www.amazon.com/Michael-Okon/e/B0752THRZV/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

iBooks Link:
https://itunes.apple.com/us/author/michael-okon/id1292020808?mt=11

Kobo Link:
https://www.kobo.com/us/en/search?query=Michael Okon&fcsearchfield=Author

Barnes & Nobel Link:
https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/monsterland-michael-okon/1126998959?ean=9781614755944

SmashWords Link:
https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/MichaelOkon

Email:
michaelokonbooks@gmail.com

Twitter:
https://twitter.com/IAmMichaelOkon

Instagram:
https://www.instagram.com/iammichaelokon/

Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/iammichaelokon

Snapchat:
https://www.snapchat.com/add/iammichaelokon

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RAFFLECOPTER GIVEAWAY

One randomly chosen winner via rafflecopter will win a $50 Amazon/BN.com gift card.

Enter to win a $50 Amazon/BN GC – a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Interview Short

Who would play you in a film of your life?
Someone with a ridiculous six pack. Maybe Channing Tatum or Chris Evans.

Have you ever read or seen yourself as a character in a book or a movie?
Yes. Many of my characters share traits I have, like being terrified of flying.

What is the single most powerful challenge when it comes to writing novel?
Completing your characters arcs. If you don’t, you fail.

What do you consider your biggest failure?
Being overweight in my 20s. I wish I would have learned about diet and health in my 20s. I would have never touched sugar or carbs.

VBT – Wheels Up

Wheels Up Banner

About the Author

Jeanine Kitchel, a former journalist, escaped her hectic nine-to-five life in San Francisco, bought land, and built a house in a fishing village on the Mexican Caribbean coast. Shortly after settling in she opened a bookstore. By this time she had become a serious Mayaphile and her love of the Maya culture led her and her husband to nearby pyramid sites throughout southern Mexico and farther away to sites in Central America. In the bookstore she entertained a steady stream of customers with their own Maya tales to tell—from archeologists and explorers to tour guides and local experts. At the request of  a publisher friend, she began writing travel articles about her adopted homeland for websites and newspapers. Her travel memoir, Where the Sky is Born: Living in the Land of the Maya, and Maya 2012 Revealed: Demystifying the Prophecy, are available on Amazon. She has since branched into writing fiction and her debut novel, Wheels Up—A Novel of Drugs, Cartels and Survival, launched May 2018.

Jeanine Kitchel

WEBSITE & SOCIAL LINKS
WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK (Personal) | FACEBOOK (Page)

About the Book

Title: WHEELS UP: A NOVEL OF DRUGS, CARTELS, AND SURVIVAL
Author: Jeanine Kitchel
Publisher: Independent
Pages: 294
Genre: Thriller

Wheels Up

BOOK BLURB

Layla always wanted to run the family business. But is she willing to kill for it?
When her notorious drug lord uncle is recaptured, Layla Navarro catapults to the top of Mexico’s most powerful cartel. Groomed as his successor, Layla knows where the bodies are buried. But not all the enemies. She strikes her first deal to prove her mettle by accepting an offer to move two tons of cocaine from Colombia to Cancun by jet. Things go sideways during a stopover in Guatemala whe Layla unexpectedly uncovers a human trafficking ring. Plagued by self-doubt, she must fight off gangsters, outsmart corrupt officials, and navigate the minefield of Mexican machismo. Even worse, she realizes she’s become a target for every rival cartel seeking to undermine her new standing. From her lush base in the tropics, she’s determined to retain her dominant position in Mexico’s criminal world. If she can stay alive.

ORDER YOUR COPY:
Amazon

Book Excerpt

Chapter 1
Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico
Present Day
The Gulfstream jet, loaded with two tons of Colombian cocaine, careened over dense Yucatan jungle as Layla stared out the compact window, horrified. If they weren’t running on empty and destined to crash, it might have looked lush to her, even beautiful.
Without fuel, the engines starved into silence, she heard only the whooshing sound of the aluminum plane as it cruised over mangrove swamps and fast-approaching mahogany trees. All thoughts of her hasty departure from Guatemala to escape Don Guillermo’s wrath had vanished along with any hopes of safely landing in Cancun. They were going down.
Layla gripped the armrests, dropped her head between her knees, and prepared for the worst.
#
Three weeks earlier, Layla was sitting at the crowded bar in Bucanero’s Cantina in Ensenada, on Mexico’s west coast, while she waited for Clay Lasalle, Canada’s biggest pot dealer, to show up. Carlos, her bodyguard and sometime lover, was with her, but rather than relieving the stress, his overbearing presence just added to the pressure.
With the recent recapture and imprisonment of El Patrón, her notorious uncle, Layla had catapulted to the top of the Culiacan Cartel as his replacement. Now she was facing her first deal without her uncle’s guiding hand. To calm her jitters she resorted to the one thing that never failed her: tequila shots.
“Don Julio, por favor!” Layla called to the paunchy bartender over the clamor of the rowdy, alcohol-fueled crowd—mostly tourists in shorts and Hawaiian shirts. Above the polished mahogany bar a framed poster-sized photo showed a nude blonde being ushered out of the century-old watering hole by two Mexican policia. Of course it’s a gringa, Layla thought, Mexicans treaded more carefully in shark-infested waters. She waved a two-hundred-peso note as the bartender passed by with a tray of margaritas.
“Momentito!” he promised.
Carlos stepped away just as she downed her second shot. Though he’d given her his “cuidado” or “be careful” look before heading to the restroom, she ignored it. When a handsome gringo sat next to her and started talking, she was all in.
By the time Carlos returned, Layla was too busy chatting with her neighbor to worry about her bodyguard’s glare. Carlos hated outsiders as much as seeing her drink, but she needed to chill. Tequila shots and flirting were a mindless diversion. The agave centered her, allowing her to distract herself without losing her edge before the meeting.
“You’re from Chicago?” she asked. “I’ve been there.”
The man gazed at the dark-haired Latina by his side. “What did you think?”
She gave a dismissive shrug. “Too cold.” Her intelligent almond-shaped eyes were the color of charcoal. “I prefer Mexico.” A sardonic smile highlighted her cheekbones, making her face even more appealing.
Layla turned back toward her bodyguard and focused on the shot glass the bartender placed in front of her. Poor Carlos. Coming to Baja always rattled him. It wasn’t only the jaw-breaking drive from Culiacan on dodgy Mexican roads. It was Ensenada—far from the safety of Sinaloa, well out of their comfort zone. But for Layla, Bucanero’s Cantina qualified as northern Baja’s one saving grace. The dive bar brought back memories of her wild, reckless early years. At thirty-five, Layla still had plenty of the right stuff. Her five-foot-six frame seemed mostly legs and Carlos’s rare compliments always focused on her tiny waist. She emphasized her striking physique by wearing low-cut tops but her most notable feature was the cascade of curly dark hair that spilled over her shoulders.
She downed her last tequila shot, scooted off the wooden bar stool a step ahead of Carlos and moved towards the empty dining room. The cantina was not the best place for a meeting, but it suited their needs: an easy landmark near the border with a back room for business. Layla slipped into the barely lit room, accepted a menu from the waiter, and handed him a two-hundred-peso note.
“Our associate arrives soon. We need privacy. Close the restaurant,” she ordered. “Your manager knows.”
He nodded, pocketed the bill, and turned towards the kitchen.
Layla walked across the worn wooden floor to a corner table in the back. She took a deep breath to steady herself before sitting down. Things would escalate into a full-scale argument once Carlos reached the table. She could already hear him scolding, “Bosses keep to themselves, especially in public.”
When Carlos had a bad day, everyone had a bad day. He could easily vie for title of most miserable man on the planet. Too bad the sex was so good. Hijole! He had the body of a male model but two sizes larger, with café au lait skin. So handsome, but so disagreeable. Granted she shouldn’t have given that gringo the time of day, but tequila made her bold.
Layla opened the menu, waiting for her bodyguard’s interrogation to begin.
Carlos banged a cheap wooden chair against the table before sitting down. “What the hell do you care about Chicago? It’s not Madrid, not even Barcelona! That guy was boring! Are you so starved for conversation you have to talk to a gringo?”
Layla silently perused the bill of fare.
“I’ve had it,” he said, his voice rising. “I’m tired of my life. Am I just your bodyguard and nothing more? Everyone, everyone, told me to keep it strictly business, even your uncle. But I didn’t listen. I thought it would be that one drunken one night stand, and now I’m fucking chained to you because of this goddamn job!”
His powerful hands clenched into fists as he rubbed them over his knees. “If only I could’ve left you in Guadalajara. But I’d have never made it out of the city before taking a bullet from your uncle.”
That was accurate: You didn’t quit the cartel, the cartel quit you. She looked at the menu, avoiding eye contact, glad the waiter hadn’t yet returned. “Should we order?”
He glared at her. “Are you acting like this conversation isn’t happening? Do you want me to walk out of here, meeting or no meeting?”
Best not to test him. He’d do it, and then she’d be without a bodyguard. The drone of his voice, the bullying, started to sink in. Chinga! She had no trouble working the cartel mob, but Carlos ran her. He was as overbearing as her two brothers. Reynoldo who should have been running the cartel had died trying, and Martín, her other brother, wasn’t up to the task. Now with one brother and two cousins dead, Layla found herself atop the Culiacan Cartel.
She looked up and said in as soothing a tone as possible, “Carlos, let’s not fight, okay? We’re here for business. I need you with me. You’re not only the man who protects me. I love you.”
She did love him, though his bad attitude and barking complaints—usually aimed at her—were tiresome. He shifted his perfectly-proportioned body forward, staring at her with eyes she’d been lost in a hundred times. He surprised her by grabbing her hand, a little harder than necessary. They never touched in public.
“After this meeting, we’ll talk about you and me.” He scowled. “I don’t know why you drink so much—and with strangers.”
These macho men! “Okay, okay. I’ll let up on the shots. One last Pacifico while we wait.”
The waiter came and they ordered. She checked her watch, 10 p.m. Lasalle would be showing up soon. She’d met him once before in Miami and sparks had flown—there was no denying they had chemistry.
Layla changed topics. “So, what does he want?”
“Chinga! Who cares?”
She backpedaled. “Carlos…”
He gave her a cold look but couldn’t hold back his opinion. “Routes for coke or pot.”
The meal went smoothly. Layla pushed an enchilada around her plate and watched Carlos demolish an order of chilaquiles, three tamales, and a couple chicken enchiladas. As he piled it in, a rare calm settled over him. He was well into his second beer when Clay walked into the restaurant. Layla saw him first, but Carlos looked up the moment Clay crossed the threshold. As a bodyguard, Carlos’s instincts were flawless.
The thirty-something Canadian smuggler was six feet two, a looker with brown shaggy hair and an easy smile. Though his frame was solid, almost hefty, he moved like a cat. Spotting Layla, he gave a nod as his long strides brought him across the room.
He let his knuckles graze the table as he flashed her a warm smile. “Layla, it’s been a long time. Good to see you again. And this is…”
“Carlos.”
“Carlos, hola. Clay.” The Canadian extended a hand.
Carlos rose from the booth. “A pleasure.” He spoke in Spanish. “I’ll be close by,” he said to Layla.
“Have a seat.” Layla slid over to allow room for Clay. Not much had changed about the northern grower since she last saw him—still that laidback air even though he controlled the lion’s share of Canada’s pot sales.
“Something to eat?” Layla continued in English, though she knew Clay spoke passable Spanish.
He shook his head. “Just a Pacifico.” She gestured toward her beer and the hovering waiter sprung into action.
“Long drive?”
“Not bad. Been waiting long?” Clay asked.
“No.”
They silently watched the waiter set down the bottle of beer and retreat from the room.
“Salud,” said Clay, raising his bottle. “Layla, I’m glad you could meet with me. I’ll get right to the point. I want a partner to move a couple tons of coke to Cancun by air—a regular run. I heard you lost a yacht recently, so a partnership could work out well for both of us.”
How did Lasalle know about the navy seizing their yacht?
“Cocaine…”
“Boats are fine, but flying’s faster and we can carry more. Plus I’m dealing directly with FARC. Gotta hand it to ’em. For a guerrilla army in the Colombian jungle, they know how to run those cocaine fincas. And we can get better prices from them than anyone’s gotten before.”
He took a swig of beer.
“Interesting,” she said without emotion. “How will you manage those good prices?”
“A combined order with you.” He paused and waited for her reaction.
She said nothing.
“The airport manager’s on board,” he said, “Already allowed some of my flights through.”
She leaned back against the worn naugahyde booth, settling into the game of cat and mouse. “What kind of planes?”
“A Gulfstream and a DC-9.”
Layla raised an eyebrow. “Who owns them?”
“A couple guys in Lauderdale run a shield for drug planes by providing American registration to the cartels. It’s complicated—big money down, more than what the plane’s worth. In return these guys maintain the plane registration, and hire Vietnam vets to do the cartel runs.”
She nodded.
“If the plane’s seized, the pilots deny responsibility. These hooked-up guys can reclaim the plane because their corporation holds the lien,” Clay said.
Layla slid forward, placed her elbows on the table and picked at the label on the empty beer bottle in front of her. “How can they do that? Someone must hold the original papers.”
“They disguise ownership by sheep-dipping it—you know, a fake identity—and pass it on to straw owners. It’s a slick process, an old scheme used by the CIA.”
“The CIA? Come on, Clay,” she said with a slight frown. Do I look naïve? She flipped her dark hair over one shoulder. Clay’s gaze shifted to Layla’s long elegant neck.
He caught himself, looked away, and readjusted his long legs under the table before speaking. “These vets couriered traffickers from Colombia to Miami for the CIA. Talk about walking the line. They did time for trafficking, but they’re back, and they’re hotshot pilots.”
“Your shipments came in with no problem?” Layla asked.
“Like I said, I have connections, and the players, they’ve worked it out.”
“Does that include the Gulf Cartel?”
He nodded.
“Hmm. I’ve got to think things through,” Layla said. “When’s your next run?”
“Got a few details to sort out. I hear you’re growing the European market—this’ll get you a lot closer to that trip across the pond.”
Layla gave him a cool smile. “If I didn’t know better I’d think you were spying on me.”
“Layla,” Clay said with a chuckle. “I’m just trying to keep up with you.”
She looked at him a second too long before she continued. “Can I get back to you?”
“Sure.” Clay finished off his beer. “Let me know where and when.”
#
Layla and Carlos left Ensenada immediately after the meeting, heading out on the road to Culiacan. Carlos high-powered the black SUV through the moonless night while Layla closed her eyes and imagined the impact of bringing in new business on her own. In a four hundred billion dollar global industry, she could begin to stake out her territory.
“By working with us, FARC will see Clay as a real player,” she confided to Carlos.
“Basta! Always business!” Carlos said, still in a huff.
Layla composed herself before responding. “Yes, it is. Business that allows you to drive a new Escalade, wear expensive suits and five thousand peso boots, and drink Don Julio and Dom Perignon. Let me remind you: My uncle’s in prison and he’s left me in charge. Get used to it!”
She leaned against the window, pulling as far away from Carlos as possible. Always fighting. She turned her attention to the darkness outside. It was a lonely two-lane road, not used much even in the daytime. Though she couldn’t make out the mountains that surrounded them she knew they were there.
They rode in silence, absorbed in separate thoughts. Carlos concentrated on dodging potholes. Layla contemplated moving powder with Clay.
The rules were changing and in this game they all had to stay ahead of the curve. She was anxious to run the idea by El Patrón. But they had a long drive ahead.

Guest Post

Why I Decided to Write Fiction

I write about Mexico, the Maya and the Yucatán. I’ve always loved Mexico. It was my home for 15 years and once I moved there and opened my bookstore, there were just too many untold stories that needed telling.

At first I was cajoled into writing by a publisher who wandered into the shop one day and started quizzing me on various pyramid sites and eventually got around to asking how I ended up there, pretty much the middle of nowhere—a fishing village on the Mexican Caribbean coast. He asked me to write an occasional column about Mexico life for his publication and I obliged. As a former journalist with two non-fiction books under my belt, travel articles were an easy assignment.

But after my last book, I realized I could reach a wider audience by writing fiction, and still discuss big ticket issues. Now, in 2018, I’ve watched the creeping dominance of Mexico cartels for more than a decade. Living in Mexico gave me an insider’s view to the damage being done and the effect the cartels have on every level of society.

Speaking and reading the language is an immense benefit. If I missed a bit of gossip, Mexican papers provided the back story—they’re newsy but a strange combination of fluff and gore. During my early years in Mexico, locals feared the Russian mafia. That idea may seem quaint, but it was a real thing. That worry fell to the wayside when cartels entered the picture. Primarily centered inland or on the west coast, Cancun’s treasure trove of tourist dollars beckoned. Though relatively safe—as are all major Mexican tourist destinations— a sleeping giant lies nearby. How could I not write about it?
—Jeanine Kitchel, author Wheels Up—A Novel of Cartels, Drugs and Survival

Movie Review – Get Out (2017)

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Get Out (2017)

A young African-American visits his white girlfriend’s parents for the weekend, where his simmering uneasiness about their reception of him eventually reaches a boiling point.

Director: Jordan Peele
Writer: Jordan Peele
Stars: Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams, Bradley WhitfordLil Rel Howery.

Plot: Chris and his girlfriend Rose go upstate to visit her parents for the weekend. At first, Chris reads the family’s overly accommodating behavior as nervous attempts to deal with their daughter’s interracial relationship, but as the weekend progresses, a series of increasingly disturbing discoveries lead him to a truth that he never could have imagined.

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Review: Sometimes I get to watch a movie that is sinister right from the start, and this film makes no difference.

Tagline: Just because you’re invited, doesn’t mean you’re welcome.
My Tagline: Guess who’se for dinner!

Get Out is the story of a young interracial couple, Chris Washington (Daniel Kaluuya) and Rose Armitage (Allison Williams), meeting her parents for the first time. By all counts, her parents have no idea that Chris is black. They appear to be friendly and progressive, if not awkward, but everything at their upstate house is not what it seems.

Done in a style that I would put in “true Hitchcock”, Jordan Peele wrote and directed this horror/thriller flick. While Jordan is no stranger to world of film (49 credits as an actor, going back to 2006), this was his first shot at directing a feature film. I will say that his directing debut certainly made the grade.

Imagine this: You go with your girlfriend to meet the folks at their country house. Soon after you arrive, you think you are seeing ghosts, but you are not. People brush off your instincts, and leave you wondering if you are going insane. You know you got to get out of the house and head back to the city, but you cannot leave. Everyone has it in for you, and are “bidding” on your body in a family game of “bingo”. Your girlfriend is the only way out of the madhouse, but then you discover that she is in on the scheme too.

What scheme does Rose and the rest of the Armitage family have in mind for Chris Washington?

That folks, I am not saying. You just need to watch this film for yourself and see the thriller unfold.

IMDB Rating: 7.7
My Rating: 9

VBT – My Name is Nelson

About the Book

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Title: My Name is Nelson

Author: Dylan Fairchild

Genre: Thriller

President Andrew MacIntyre was having a pretty good first year in the Oval Office.  Suddenly, during what should have been a peaceful Christmas season, he’s facing one of the worst national security crises in American history.  And it’s being masterminded out of a sleazy, New Mexico strip joint? What the hell?

Is this a political thriller?  Or is it science fiction? A zany comedy?  Perhaps it’s a love story. Whatever it is, it’s a riveting page-turner with a little sex appeal, and a lot of laughs.  If “Doctor Strangelove” can find the humor in nuclear war, then surely there’s a little bit of laughter lurking in unmanned aviation, as well as some serious, heartfelt moments.

It’s little wonder White House National Security Advisor Chet Addington* said this was, “Pretty much the best novel ever.”**

* Absolutely, positively, not a real person

** He’s been known to be wrong about stuff

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Author Bio

Auth Pic Dylan Fairchild

Dylan Fairchild is the pen name of a Virginia-based indie author.  He usually lurks in a different genre.

“My Name is Nelson” is the author’s first thriller.  It’s a genre-busting blend of humor, action, political-military intrigue, romance, and science fiction.  “The Indie View” awarded it “five-plus” stars and said “in terms of sheer storytelling mastery, it’s one of the best books we’ve seen in a while.”  The book is dedicated to “all the men and women who work so tirelessly to protect our nation.”

The author can be found on Goodreads.com, and he is happy to reply to any questions, comments, or witty ridicule of his photo.

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17762343.Dylan_Fairchild

Buy from Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/My-Name-Nelson-Pretty-Novel-ebook/dp/B07B4KCTYR/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1526230345&sr=8-1&keywords=my+name+is+nelson

Giveaway

Win a $25 amazon gift card during the tour.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

VBT – Snakes Can’t Run

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Snakes Can’t Run
by Ed Lin

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GENRE:   FICTION/Mystery & Thriller

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BLURB:

Set in New York City in 1976, Snakes Can’t Run finds NYPD detective Robert Chow still haunted by the horrors of his past and relegated to tedious undercover work. When the bodies of two undocumented Chinese men are found under the Brooklyn Bridge underpass, Chow is drawn into the case. Most of the officers in his precinct are concerned with a terrorist group targeting the police, but Chow’s investigation puts him on the trail of a ring of ruthless human smugglers who call themselves the snakeheads. As Chow gets closer to solving the murder, dangerous truths about his own family’s past begin to emerge. Steeped in retro urban attitude, and ripe with commentary on minorities’ roles in American society, this gritty procedural will appeal to fans of George Pelecanos and S.J. Rozan.

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EXCERPT

The mind is a funny thing. After I got on the wagon and fell in love with a girl, I started seeing my father out in the streets. I didn’t literally see his ghost walking around, but I’d see his nose in profile on another guy’s face. Sometimes I’d be walking behind someone who had his slouchy shuffle, his spotted ears, or the back of the head that looked like an elderly porcupine with spikes gone soft and white.

One time, a hand reached out to my shoulder and touched me exactly where he used to touch me from his chair after dinner to ask me to get him a beer from the fridge.

Of course it wasn’t my father. It was an older guy who wanted to know if I was the guy whose pictures used to be in all the Chinese newspapers. The man was almost completely bald and had two light brown spots on the top right of his head that looked like an imprint from a woman’s high-heeled shoe.

He called me the Sheriff of Chinatown. I tried to get away from him as soon as possible, but he was one of those people who liked to say good-bye and then ask another question just when you’re about to part. The guy ended up grabbing both of my hands twice before I was able to make the corner and get away. I checked that my wallet was still in my pocket, though, just in case he had been working me with a partner. I guess he was genuinely glad to meet me.

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AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Ed Lin Author Photo

Ed Lin, a native New Yorker of Taiwanese and Chinese descent, is the first author to win three Asian American Literary Awards and is an all-around standup kinda guy. His books include Waylaid and This Is a Bust, both published by Kaya Press in 2002 and 2007, respectively. Snakes Can’t Run and One Red Bastard, which both continue the story of Robert Chow set in This Is a Bust, were published by Minotaur Books. His latest book, Ghost Month, a Taipei-based mystery, was published by Soho Crime in July 2014. Lin lives in Brooklyn with his wife, actress Cindy Cheung, and son.

Twitter: https://twitter.com/robertchow
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Ed-Lin-80513225734
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/edlinforpresident/
Website: http://www.edlinforpresident.com/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/112827.Ed_Lin

Buy Links: https://www.harpercollins.com/cr-123754/ed-lin-1

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RAFFLECOPTER GIVEAWAY

Ed Lin will be awarding a limited edition print copy of the book to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

Enter to win a limited edition print copy of the book – a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Book trailer

Thanks for being my guest. Tell us about you as a person.
I am a punk-rock kid. I grew up listening to Husker Du, Black Flag and other bands whose very names would not be appropriate to print on a family-oriented site. Apart from the music, I really love the attitude about it, that maybe you don’t know how to play your instrument or sing, but if you really want to be a band and make music, you’ve got no excuses. Later on, I had that same attitude when I wanted to write my first book. I dedicated myself to sitting down at that keyboard nearly every night for half a year to bang out a first draft.

If you could hang out with one famous person for one day, who would it be and why?
I wouldn’t need the whole day, but it would be great to split a pizza with Dashiell Hammett. He was a man of such integrity and a great writer to boot. I wonder what toppings he’d like. Maybe he’d eat it with a knife and fork.

What’s the story behind your latest book?
Snakes Can’t Run is the sequel to This Is a Bust, and is a continuation of the New York Chinatown mystery series set in the 70s. The cop narrator, Robert Chow, is on the hunt for snakeheads, human traffickers. He’s not going to like what he finds.

What is your writing process?
I listen to music, but nonvocal stuff. Surf and drag music is great because it’s so energetic. Instrumental jazz is awesome, too, and I’m a big supporter of WBGO in Newark–that station plays all the good stuff and it’s as close as any Internet connection.

Tell us about your main character:
Robert Chow is a Chinese American guy who fell in with the wrong crowd early on. He was drafted to serve in Vietnam and although he returned physically well, Chow still has PTSD. In the first book he had to solve himself to save his life. Now he’s able to help others.

If your book was to be turned into a movie, who would play the lead role and why.
This is an answer loaded with landmines–I am friends with many Asian American actors who could very well play the lead. Can I demur and say that I would love for Mahershala Ali to play Chow’s African American partner? Ali has a quiet gravity that he showed in Moonlight and also a bit of playfulness embedded in his House of Cards character.

What are you working on next?
I write a mystery series set in Taipei for Soho Crime. So far, they’ve published Ghost Month and Incensed. I’m now on the third.

What advice do you have for other writers who want to get the word out about their book?
Don’t be a hypocrite–talk about the books and writers that you love, who maybe aren’t so well-known.

What is your favorite book on your shelf right now?
I really love this book The Secret Origins of the Bible by Tim Callahan. It details all these stories that have their origins in ancient Mesopotamia that didn’t become apparent until excavations and translations were made in the 20th century. It’s part mystery, part history, part fable and part faith. A great book.

Do you have any special/extraordinary talents?
I play bass, but not well. Oh, actually, I’m pretty good at Street Fighter II, the old arcade game. If we’re ever near a Street Fighter II cabinet, please challenge me!

You are given the choice of one super power. What super power would you have and why?
I’d want to be able to help young children see logic. I have a four-year-old who just doesn’t understand when I try to explain things to him!

List 5 things on your bucket list.

In no order: See those Incan walls; make it down to New Orleans for the Ponderosa Stomp; get a TV with 1080p display capability that still has an s-video port (I still have a laserdisc player); finish Panzer Dragoon Saga; organize the storage cage.

Where can readers find you on the web?
http://www.edlinforpresident.com

Any final thoughts?
Don’t consider this my final message. I’ll always be back. Have a great day, guys!

Book Tour – Latent Image: A Xandra Carrick Thriller

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Title: Latent Image: A Xandra Carrick Thriller
Author: Joshua Graham
Publisher: Redhaven Books
Pages: 437
Genre: Thriller

For fans of Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Sandra Brown, David Baldacci, Brad Thor, and Nora Roberts.

New York Times bestselling author Joshua Graham returns with a new thriller, Latent Image: A Xandra Carrick Thriller.

At the height of President Jennifer Bradley’s inaugural parade, a bomb detonates, followed by shots from a sniper’s rifle. She survives despite the numerous casualties including the Chief White House photographer. The authorities apprehend the only surviving suspect, but before they can interrogate him, he dies mysteriously while recovering in the hospital.

In an effort to hunt down those responsible and prevent future assassination attempts, Special Agent Wade Masterson of the Secret Service recruits photojournalist Xandra Carrick for a dual-role position as the President’s Photographer and clandestine assistant operative.

Xandra’s uncanny gift of second-sight through the lens of a camera thrusts her straight into the center of a deadly terrorist plot that runs far deeper than anyone in the intelligence community ever imagined.

But she may already be too late.

In a tale of vengeance, honor and sacrifice, Xandra must draw upon all she has to stop an insidious plot which threatens to bring the country to its knees with a biological weapon that will decimate the nation’s population.

For More Information

Latent Image

Book Excerpt:

WASHINGTON, DC

January 23

2:28PM EST

IN THE CROSSHAIRS OF THE SNIPER’S SCOPE the target shifted in and out of view. The motorcade drifted down Pennsylvania Avenue, Secret Service agents flanking its side, while Vice President Phillip Marsden and his wife Gwen waved to the cheering crowd on either side of the street behind the cold 16-gauge steel tubing of the barricades.

Neither of them was the target.

The sniper swung his scope back to the west, where the glare of the sun blinded him momentarily. He grunted, blinked and reestablished his view. The cold January wind bit at his bare fingers as he felt the trigger and anticipated the diversionary strike his partner would unleash half a block away.

Tuning out the trumpet strains of marching bands, the steady drum beats, and the crowd’s applause, he initiated a silent countdown just as Jennifer Bradley, the nation’s newly re-elected president strode past the designated spot.

…four…three…two…one…

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About the Author

Joshua Graham

JOSHUA GRAHAM is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of Beyond Justice, Terminus, and Darkroom, the winner of the International Book Award, Forward National Literature Award, USA Book News Best Books Award, and host of Thriller Radio. His award-winning novel DARKROOM hit 3 bestseller lists on Amazon the night of its release.

CBS NEWS described DARKROOM as a book with “action, political intrigue and well-rounded characters…a novel that thriller fans will devour.”

PUBLISHERS WEEKLY described BEYOND JUSTICE as: “A riveting legal thriller…breaking new ground with a vengeance…demonically entertaining and surprisingly inspiring.”

Suspense Magazine listed BEYOND JUSTICE in its BEST OF 2010, alongside titles by Scott Turrow, Ted Dekker, Steven James and Brad Thor.

Many of Graham’s readers blame him for sleepless nights, arriving to work late, neglected dishes and family members, and not allowing them to put the book down.

Josh grew up in Brooklyn, NY where he lived for the better part of 30 years. He holds a Bachelor and Master’s Degree and went on to earn his doctorate from Johns Hopkins University. During his time in Maryland, he taught as a professor at Shepherd College (WV), Western Maryland College, and Columbia Union College (MD).

Today he lives with his beautiful wife and children on the West Coast.

Sign up for exclusive updates, interviews, and to be entered for giveaways by subscribing to Josh’s newsletter: www.joshua-graham.com/GIA

For More Information

Author Interview

Joshua, thanks for being my guest today. Tell us about you
First, thanks for having me on your blog and hello to everyone out there! Something about me? I think the most curious thing about me is that I’ve worn so many different hats throughout my life. Being an author is just the latest. Aside from being a husband, a father, a follower of Jesus, and a man blessed with the greatest friends on the planet, I have worked as a professional musician, college professor, IT professional, Director of Operations in a call center, and a business owner. I received my Bachelor and Masters Degree from the Juilliard School (I’m a cellist), and my Doctorate from Johns Hopkins University.

Recently, I got into fitness with my son and because he joined his school’s cross country team, I wanted to support him and train with him. I have always hated running (I’m more into weight lifting), but he’s pushed me to run with him and to date, I’ve done a couple of 5K races with him. I never see him until the finish line and he’s been waiting at least 10 minutes for me to arrive, but I consider it a huge accomplishment for me to simply make it to the end without falling flat on my face!

What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
These days, it’s not so much inspiration as it is commitment. Each day, I get out of bed so I can get the kids ready for school and drive them there. After that it’s the gym, writing, taking care of administrative tasks for home or business, and then back to picking up the kids, taking them to sports or debate practice, etc. In short, I am committed to serving my family.

In a more broad scope, I believe that fulfilling my God-given purpose every day is what keeps me going. There are seasons in life where that is more exciting and rewarding than others, but like running a 5K, you have to keep going no matter if it’s uphill or downhill, no matter if you can sprint it, or walk it. You never quit. And in the end, completion is its own reward.

If you could hang out with one famous person for one day, who would it be and why?
Since you didn’t mention whether this person needed to be alive or not, I would say C.S. Lewis. Not only was he an amazing story teller, but the depth of his mind could only be matched by his uncanny gift for expressing the most profound ideas with the simplest words.

What’s the story behind your latest book?
What triggered the idea for the opening scene of LATENT IMAGE was watching the inaugural parade for President Barack Obama (his 2nd term). As a thriller writer, my imagination kicked in immediately. POTUS smiling and waving, Secret Service surrounding him, scanning the permiter…what a shock to the world it would be if something happened right there. That inspired the opening pages of my book.

Tell us your writing process
That’s almost like telling you about my entire digestive process—I think. Seriously, though. I used to struggle between writing organically, and by a strict outline. I have found that I can do both effectively. I start out with a macro-level outline, then fill in details. This is my initial blueprint, though I know very well that I can and will make changes as the story and character development dictates. However, it’s much better to make the changes when you have an outline because you can then go back and fill in the new details (a setup for a new payoff, for example) and not have to search your entire manuscript for where it needs to happen.

Look, if you’re building a house, you’ll want to make major changes at the blueprint level. And even if you’ve already started building, the blueprint will help you see what you can or can’t do, without scrapping the entire thing and starting from scratch.

When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?
I’ve enjoyed writing since I could do it. Loved creating stories, telling them, making people laugh, or hold their breath, or cry. But it was after the publication of my first works of fiction, when the editor invited me to his professional writers workshop that I decided, I would love to make this my full-time career, God willing.

Well, I was so blessed, and now I am a full-time writer.

Tell us about your main character:
Xandra Carrick is an award-winning photojournalist on the cusp of her third decade of life. She’s strong-willed, but really wants to do what’s right. A few books ago, she discovered that she has the extraordinary gift of second sight (precognition). In other words, she can see things about the past, present, or future through photographs she develops in the darkroom. Though she still finds keys to mysteries in the darkroom, her abilities have transcended that. She can now see visions—answers to dark secrets—without the need of her camera.

But some secrets were meant to be kept.

This of course puts her in moral and ethical dilemmas. She ends up uncovering conspiracies which put her in the crosshairs of dangerous people.

Will she step up and use her abilities? Did I mention that she’s strong-willed?

What are you working on next?
I am currently wrapping up the finale of The Führer’s Daughter with my esteemed co-author Jack Patterson. After that, more Xandra Carrick, and possibly other projects.

Do you have any special/extraordinary talents?
I have the superpower of eliciting groans from humans and pets of all ages, shapes and sizes with my puns. You could call me a PUNdit of humor. Or not.

Other than that, not really. I play the cello, and I can bench press about 360 lbs. Just not at the same time. For now.

Who are your favorite authors?
C.S. Lewis, Dean Koontz, Stephen King, James Rollins, Preston & Child, Steve Berry…the list goes on.

What do you like to do with your free time?
That’s very funny. Free time?

I sometimes watch movies, hang out with friends playing cards and eating too much dessert, go places with my family just to be together. I guess working out and running could be considered to be done on my free time, but it’s really not. It’s scheduled and an obligation for me.

Tell us about your plans for upcoming books.
I’m hoping they will all hit big bestseller lists, but that’s up to the readers out there to decide. For more information about my upcoming releases, and to receive a free ebook, and the opportunity to be entered in my monthly giveaways, please subscribe to my free newsletter here: www.joshua-graham.com/GIA

Where can people find you on the web?

I hope everyone will visit my website www.joshgraham.net

You can connect with me on facebook: www.facebook.com/j0shgraham

On twitter: www.twitter.com/J0shuaGraham

Any final thoughts?
If you have a favorite book/author, please support their efforts by recommending them to your family and friends, and leaving reviews on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Goodreads, etc.

Thanks very much!

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