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Category Archives: Contemporary

The Radio Murders: The Caller by Chuck Collins

In 37 years as a broadcaster and Addy Award winning writer and producer of commercial radio, I noticed something bubbling just beneath the surface of every successful performer: a desire to push the art to the very limit. When I was able to take some time to follow a passion for writing, I used radio as backdrop for a story that had been growing in my soul for decades. In 2002 The Radio Murders began.

“You are only as good as your last show.”  Bill ‘Crash’ Kradich is a competent talk show host in an industry that is rapidly changing. He knows that the only way he can survive is to take his show national. But the field is crowded and he needs something to stand apart from the rest. As if on cue, a murder in his family puts his show, his Chicago radio station and his future on the national stage. His sister, and only family, is both victim of an apparent abduction and suspect in the murder of her husband. Soon after, a disturbing pattern emerges implicating some of Kradich’s closest associates. Meanwhile the victim, Peter Janich, has crafted a swindle against a secret and dangerous force known only as The Collectors. What happens next is a torrent of bad choices leading to worst consequences.

The nationally syndicated Radio Murders with Bill Kradich is born, but at what price?

EXCERPT

Part One, Chapter 28

Molnar and Flowers found Harris Richards cooperative and genuinely in the dark about Rivillo’s involvement in the Janich murder. He handed them off to the station program director, and Kradich’s direct supervisor, Jerome Bennett, whom Richards called ‘Jerry.’

“By the way, call me Jerome. Harris is the only person on earth who calls me Jerry.” The men exchanged introductions as they walked into a large glass lined conference room in the interior of the studio complex. Flowers looked with amazement at the layers of casual activity visible through shared interior windows that exposed nearly the entire operation.

“You mentioned Dani hadn’t arrived at the station yet?” Molnar sat down at the wide table and began the interview.

“Yes, she is usually here by now. We have a standing appointment at ten to discuss the Crash Kradich show. I was about to call her when you arrived.”

Flowers watched Bennett carefully. “I don’t have to tell you, Jerome, this is a serious matter. We’re not totally convinced Renko was acting alone.”

“I pulled his file,” Bennett clicked a few keys on one of the computers that were scattered on nearly every surface. “He’s from Racine, no next of kin listed, but I know he has a father, whether he’s still alive I can’t tell you.”

“Did you ever get a hint that Rivillo was capable of committing a serious crime? Someone you would consider unstable?” Molnar asked.

“You know, in this business you run into some strange characters.” Bennett reared back in his chair. His thin frame seemed to sink into the soft leather.

“There’s always something bubbling under the surface. Could Renko do something stupid? Absolutely! Could he hurt anyone? That I find hard to believe. He was bordering on OCD and I think he was completely dependent on Crash, Dani and his girlfriend.”

Bennett scratched his black beard with nibbled fingernails as he spoke. “Everybody knows if you want to screw with this guy’s head just move something around in his studio or do anything out of the ordinary.”

“Did you know him to have money problems?”

“Detective, we work in radio, only the top guys are getting rich from this pricey little toy. I’m sure he lived paycheck to paycheck like most of us.”

“Jerome, we have to tell you that there’s evidence that this crime involves more than just Renko.” Flowers explained. “You might want to prepare yourself.”

“What do you mean by that?” Bennett was incensed.

“We mean that we have reason to believe that if Rivillo was involved in this murder he sure as hell didn’t act alone.”

Molnar said. “Now either this guy has some secret life even you don’t know about, or there is a real stink in this place.” Molar leaned forward, trying to disarm the programmer.

“You suspect Kradich had something to do with this?”

“You don’t seem surprised.” Flowers said.

“Nothing that guy does surprises me.” Bennett looked at the shiny surface of the conference table then up, past the detectives. “Have you ever heard of Guerilla Radio, detectives? ”

“C’mon, Jerry.” Molnar quipped. “We aren’t here for a class in radio. Is this guy off the reservation or did your evening show suddenly go psycho?”

Psycho.” Bennett let out a little chuckle. “Some might think it’s the equivalent. It’s the way some do radio. The way some of us were taught.”

Bennett continued. “Had a boss once who told me, we don’t go to work, we go to war. And it’s only gotten worse.”

Bennett rose from the chair and walked to the windows of the conference room. Large, boney hands disappeared into the back pockets of his jeans and he looked at the line of studios. “People listen to the radio ready to pounce, they want to hate you and love you at the same time. I counsel those who want to do this silly job to be ready. You are now a target, I tell the kids. Even the veterans need reminding. Your biggest fan is predisposed to despise you, yell at you while driving on the expressway, and call you every name in the book.”

Bennett turned, his face twitched into an odd smile that melded into his usual sullen expression. “Or worse, not give a shit at all.”

He pointed, without looking up, toward the acoustic tiles and the recessed lights in the ceiling. “We have dozens of satellites shooting hundreds of radio shows down to cities all over the world, and every one of them, every no-talent buffoon with a microphone is falling all over himself trying to out-gross, out-shock or out-disgust the next guy. Whether you’re talking about some guy who practically has sex on the air, having strippers measure his dick with a ruler, to another pair of geniuses who compel people to do profane and dangerous things for a t-shirt, to the guy who slaughters an animal under the pretense of proving a point.”

The programmer leaned his knuckles on the conference table. “There is no point to it, detectives. It’s become de rigueur, a constant circus, ugly and perverse, with all nine rings of hell in every car, every kitchen, on every so-called smart phone, filling every willing ear.”

“That’s quite a speech, Jerry.” Molnar said. “Where do you and your station fall in all this? What ring of the perverse circus, as you put it, does the Crash Kradich show perform?”

Jerome Bennett sat down. A weight seemed to push him down. He took a deep breath. “Do I think a clown like Kradich could be involved in murder? Why not, Detectives? Like I said, this is war. How far a leap would it be to murder?”

He watched the investigators’ eyes. “And don’t call me Jerry.”

Molnar smiled and looked at Flowers. “That could be probable cause. Enough to serve a search on this place and his apartment, Jerome.”

“You know, I was out of this for a while. Had enough to move to Mexico and live on the beach with enough fish, beer and pussy to last a lifetime. I must have been nuts to come back.” Bennett stroked his beard and soaked in the memory.

“Can we see where Rivillo works?” Flowers asked.

“I’ll be happy to show the detectives, Mr. Bennett.” Torsha Lofton, KCI news director, was in the conference room door. It was as though she had been there all along.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

CHUCK COLLINS: Broadcaster; Writer; Photographer; People Lover; Story Teller; Gadgetphile; Husband; Father; Recovering Alcoholic; Human.

Why read The Radio Murders: The Collectors and soon The Radio Murders: The Caller? The idea of talk radio going beyond any reasonable limits has never been explored quite like this. While the mystery is captivating, it is the people you will come to know that makes reading worthwhile. The Radio Murders is home to some of the most interesting and vivid characters you will find in a mystery/thriller series. As one critic put it, “the reader is rewarded.”

You can purchase The Radio Murders at My Bookstore, http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/chuck_collins
at Amazon, http://www.amazon.com/The-Radio-Murders-Collectors/dp/0557394937/ref=sr_1_8?ie=UTF8&qid=1330895536&sr=8-8
Barns and Noble (Nook and Hardcover) http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/the-radio-murders-the-collectors?store=ebook

Chuck Collins
Author, The Radio Murders
Operations Director
Rubber City Radio Group
Program Director 1590WAKR
Akron, Ohio
Twitter: @chuckcollins

 

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Dead Comic Standing by Karen Vaughan

Forced to endure someone who uses your personal foibles as fodder for a comedian’s act can take its toll on your psyche, especially when that comic is your ex-girlfriend. Hank Cavanaugh has had enough. Only, what can he do? At the threshold of his endurance, Hank swears the comedians in town better stand up and take notice when he starts slashing his way through the comedy clubs.

 

EXCERPT

 

Prologue     Present Day 2008

He slammed his glass down on the bar.

The barkeep filled the glass and passed it to the dude.

“Good show” the bartender said, nodding to the comic on stage.

“He’s okay, but I’ve seen much better,” the stranger replied.

“You know comedy?”

“I was comedy, years ago. Then I started my own club, hosted the best up-and-comers.  I guided Carey, and Myers, on their way up. I was the Simon Cowell of the comedy world. I discovered more new talent than Cowell can shake his finger at.”

“So what happened?”

“I lost it, son. I lost my faith in humor. Too many bad things happened to accept that laughter can pull you through the worst. Sometimes it can be a curse.”

The stranger looked up at the comic who was finishing his routine, before turning back to the bartender. “That kid probably does have talent. He could be destined for Last Comic Standing. The problem is I am just too jaded to see it.”

“So what actually made you lose your vision?”

The man took a sip of Scotch, and said, “My wife died of cancer—a quick death.  We didn’t see it coming.You’d think that would be enough for a guy to have to deal with…But then five years ago, some asshole lost his sense of humor, and all hell broke loose.”

Summer 2003

Chapter 1     Back in the Day

An up-and-coming comic was just exiting The Laff Attak. The comedian usually left through the alley after his sets, usually two per night, 30 minutes per set. Like other wannabes, he worked two clubs per week whilst working part time at an upscale Coffee Emporium. This guy didn’t want to spend the rest of his career as a part-time Barista /Comic. Oh no, this dude had plans, he was going to be the Robin Williams for the next generation. Well, skip the ‘Na-noo-Na-noo’ bullshit that Robin had to tout, in his early years.

In the meantime, bills had to be paid and the comic had a wife to support as well.  Debbie worked as an insurance adjuster for a huge HMO management company. She technically supported him and his “hobby.”  At least it was a marginally paying hobby.

The young man walked around the corner down another alley, a supposed short cut on his way home. He feared nothing, although he would never have let Deb do this, day or night. Her argument was why should he? Did he think he was “Iron man” or something? The young dude lit up another smoke, a filthy habit and Deb hated it. Another reason she thought he might die young. She just didn’t get the part about a good smoke, after coming off stage. Comics had to be the worst chronic smokers. He had to do it here because once he stepped into the house, no more ciggies. He might as well smoke now ‘cause Deb wouldn’t let him smoke after sex. Smoking brought him back from the adrenaline high of being ‘on.’  No matter what shit hit you throughout your day, you hit the stage running with a smile, ready to show the crowd the time of their miserable lives. He stood in the shadows taking a few pulls on the Camel, dropped it and ground it into the asphalt with the other discarded cigarette butts. Debbie, as much as he loved her, had her phobias. She was convinced that some guy would jump out of the shadows and knife him to death, when, in reality, the worst killers came wrapped in cellophane and cardboard.

The next step he took into the alley was his last. A hand holding butcher knife came out of nowhere.  If this weren’t the end for real, he would have found a place in his act for the scenario. He felt the knife blade plunge into his stomach, and he went down on his knees, and then fell onto his back.

“Fuck man, if you want my wallet, just ask.” Dave was gasping for air.

“It’s not about the money, asshole.  I just didn’t know how else to tell you……”

“What?” Dave croaked weakly.

The stranger grabbed the hilt of the knife, and yanked it out of his victim’s gut.

He looked straight at him and said,

“YOU JUST AIN’T FUNNY!”

Then the killer slit the young man’s throat.

©   Karen Vaughan 2008

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Karen Vaughan is also the author of the novel Dead on Arrival. She lives in Peterborough, Ontario, with her husband, Jim, and their two cats. Her hobbies include crafting and, of course, enjoying the humor of stand-up comics.

AVAILABLE IN KINDLE AND PAPERBACK.

 

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God Does Have A Sense of Humor by Rob Ballister

At the Crossroads of Humanity is found many challenges and conflicts. Author Rob Ballister has focused on those times in his life when his belief in God and his sense of humor have saved his life. In this special book, he delivers a touching and entertaining portrait of his journey through dating, growing up in New Jersey, and surviving cancer. Along the way, he learns that God Does Have a Sense of Humor. Follow him: 

Through surgeryMy understanding was that the doctor, while hopping up and down on one foot and singing the national anthem, was going to remove my lymph nodes using a butter knife, a hacksaw, and some 10W-30 motor oil.

Into the confessionalThere sat Father Riener, who was technically old enough to have been one of the original apostles. As I began reciting my list, Father began falling asleep. Being only in the fourth grade, I did exactly what I did at home when my younger sister fell asleep. I kicked him.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Image of Rob Ballister

A native of Martinsville, NJ, Rob graduated the United States Naval Academy in 1994 with a Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering, and served on the Joint Staff for six months before heading for flight school in January 1995. He was redesignated as a Civil Engineer Corps officer in December of that year, and his first CEC duty station was at Marine Corps Base Quantico, VA, as deputy head of the planning section. Following that tour, he moved to California for duty with the Navy Seabees. While with Naval Mobile Construction Battalion FORTY, he served as Charlie company commander, Air Detachment officer-in-charge (during two separate deployment cycles), and Civic Action Team Pohnpei officer-in-charge. His experience as company commander earned him the Pohnpei OIC billet during his second deployment, where he led a team of Seabees on humanitarian missions in a third world country. He also deployed to operations in support of the US Support Group East Timor. After his battalion tour, LCDR Ballister transferred to Engineering Field Activity Chesapeake, where he worked in the construction office at Andrews Air Force Base. During this tour he was also assigned temporarily to the White House Military Special Programs Office.

Rob has also done extensive work with community youth, beginning well before his military career when he coached little league baseball for three seasons while still in high school. At Quantico, he coached three sports over five MWR seasons, and recently resumed his coaching “career” in San Diego with the local MWR organization as a basketball coach. In addition, he has been a volunteer religious education teacher for four years, and has taught math, english, military drill, religious doctrine, morality, and a variety of sports to children ranging in age from 6 to 17.

In addition to his undergraduate degree, he holds a Masters of Science in Civil Engineering from the University of Maryland, and is a registered professional engineer in the state of Maryland. He is also a member of the Society of American Military Engineers.

The publishing of “God Does Have a Sense of Humor” was the culmination of over ten years of writing and re-writing Rob’s experiences from his life, including his military experience and his surviving cancer. Rob is married to his beautiful wife, Ivy, and they reside in Maryland with their daughter Kyla and their dog Toby.

Book is available at the Military Writers Society of Amerca.

 

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Stairway to the Bottom by Michael Haskins

In Chapter One of Stairway to the Bottom, the fifth in the Mick Murphy Key West Mystery series by Michaek Haskins, we see the beginning of Mick’s dilemma. At the moment, he isn’t even aware he is at the crossroads of his life.

Chapter One

If I hadn’t gone to watch the comedy showcase at the Key West Fringe Theater, I wouldn’t have silenced my cell phone. If I hadn’t silenced my cell, I would have answered Dick Walsh’s first call at 1:10 A.M., and then things might not have gone so badly. If is a damn big word for only having two letters.

I unplugged the cell from its charger in the morning and the lighted screen reminded me it was on silent mode and that I had five messages.

Each of Dick’s messages was more frantic and pleading than the last. He needed help, but didn’t say for what. By the third message, he was cussing but still wanted me to call and that was at 3:15. He didn’t sound drunk, like most three-in-the-morning callers do. He sounded scared.

The fifth and final message came at 5:36. He had calmed down, asked me to come by his house as soon as possible and gave me the address. His composed voice assured me I would understand the problem after I arrived and he would be in touch later.

“Mick, I need you to believe me, it isn’t what it looks like. Please help me,” his message ended with a quiet plea.

I dressed quickly in last night’s clothing and swallowed cold water from a bottle out of the cooler. Before I got into my Jeep and drove to Dick’s house on Von Phister Street, I called his cell but it went to voice mail and I left a message. We were playing phone tag.

Von Phister is a narrow, tree-lined street in a quiet neighborhood of old and new houses. Dick’s was an old two-story house with a large gumbo-limbo tree in front and two more in back. He actually had a decent-size backyard, something that is at a premium in Key West.

The house was dark. It was almost six-thirty, about an hour since his last call. The sky was a light gray with a reddish-purple sunrise pushing the dawn westward. Only a large yellow tomcat crossed my path on the empty street.

I parked in front and noticed Dick’s scooter was gone. I went up the steps to the wraparound porch, rang the bell, and then knocked. Nothing. I looked into the living room window. Nothing. I knocked again and when no one answered, I tried the door. It was unlocked so I went in.

The stench that greeted me in the hallway was familiar. The smell of death was strong and that told me somewhere in the house, death was very recent. Death, if left alone long enough cloaks all other odors, especially in the tropics – violent death even more so.

I called Dick’s name but no one answered. I walked into the living room and it looked lived in – a big screen TV, stereo with CDs stacked next to it, a sectional sofa set. A hallway led to a kitchen, small dining room, and bathroom. The stairway on the right went upstairs to the bedrooms.

Dick used the dining room as his office – medium-sized desk that was too big for the room, a computer, a printer, and a two-drawer file. I walked through into the kitchen. There was a table for two off to the side, dirty dishes in the sink and a woman’s body on the floor.

She lay face down and a large part of her head was gone. Pieces of shattered skull, along with parts of her brain and blood, tarnished the otherwise clean kitchen wall.

Blood and human waste soaked the tile floor and stained her clothing.

The stench of death filled the kitchen. I didn’t bother looking for a pulse.

An automatic with a silencer attached lay on the floor, her arm stretched out toward it as if reaching for the gun that had a small stream of brownish blood curled up next to it.

I ran upstairs to check the two bedrooms, calling Dick’s name. Both rooms were neat and the beds made. Nothing broken or seemingly out of place. Dick’s closet looked full with only a couple of empty hangers in the mix. The guestroom closet was empty.

Dick shot this woman, I thought as I looked down at her body. Whose gun was it on the floor? I didn’t touch anything, though I wanted to. My curiosity was getting the best of me.

I’m Liam Murphy, a semi-retired journalist and fulltime sail bum, some say. Key West has been my home for almost eighteen years. Before that, I lived in Southern California and reported on Central American civil wars and when they ended I covered the drug wars for a weekly newsmagazine so a dead body wasn’t something that frightened me, it intrigued me.

In Key West, I’ve made friends with all kinds of characters, including the chief of police, Richard Dowley. We have a two-sided relationship. One side is Richard the cop, the other is Richard the friend. He considers me a friend but always thinks of me as a journalist. He says I only have one side. I called him on my cell, sure of catching him at home, and knew I’d be talking to his cop side.

I told him where I was and what I’d found.

“What are you doing at that nut’s house?” I could hear him banging around in the kitchen.

When I explained about the messages and Dick’s plea, he sighed loudly enough

 for me to hear on the phone.

“Don’t touch anything and I’ll call it in,” he said. “Best thing is go outside and wait for the first unit, and I’ll make it there too.”

“Okay, Richard, but tell the ambulance it doesn’t have to hurry,” I said and he hung up without replying.

Outside, I sat and waited, thinking of Dick’s last message telling me it wasn’t what it looked like. It looked like murder.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Michael Haskins has lived in Key West for more than 15 years. He came to the island as the daily newspaper’s business editor/writer and after five years left to take the newly created city position as public information officer. He’s written seven Mick Murphy Mysteries and had three Mick Murphy short stories published as well. Two in the series have appeared in the Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine and one in the Saturday Evening Post

Michael’s Mick Murphy Key West Mysteries are popular with locals and with the many visitors to the island, who often write after reading a book and comment on how it helped them remember the good times they had in Key West.  

To find out more about the author and sample his published writing, go to www.michaelhaskins.net

 

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Running with Chaos by Elicia Clegg

Elicia Clegg’s suspenseful novel “Running with Chaos delivers an unsettling rendition of a pivotal moment when three characters stand at the crossroads of destiny and freewill.The following excerpt features one of the three main characters. Sam is at a crossroads of epic ramifications. She has been warned. She either allows eight-year-old Raven Clayton to die, or allows for a stranger to take her place. As you will read, Sam will go against everything she has been taught to break the chain fate has already forged. 

. . . . .

Sam stood outside of Animus’s house for nearly five hours. She warned her several times of the ramification of what was to happen, yet Sam’s mind was made up.  Sam finally started walking toward the elementary school, wishing it would hail in order for the Earth to suffer as she now did. Each step she took brought her further and further from her circle of friends. She felt trapped in this new reality, no longer rational, running off pure emotion. Something wasn’t right, but this didn’t matter. She loved Raven, she couldn’t explain why, but when she heard her laugh it was the first time she had felt alive. She liked this sensation. To her, killing him equated saving her. Even if time had to stop, she would complete this.

The night air was not cold, yet it chilled her all the same. Unaware of what her heart demanded, Sam walked on with raw intent. She paused as she reached the school. Time had frozen and somehow shifted backwards.  She didn’t know how, but her group and Erin were suspended during this shift. She half surmised they were all shifted to another dimension, but this, this could not be, so her mind accepted time was bent, and a handful of people were the only ones to know.

A life for a life.

The words Animus had said; her intent not an evil one, although the outcome would remain the same. They could not create a paradox. A child was killed. It changed the community, and it changed the life of the murderer. Too many had been touched; another child would have to take Raven’s place. his was equality, this was Sam’s job.

“This is not right, it couldn’t be right.”

“You are not the judge of right or wrong,” Animus’s words stung and endured in her mind.

“Then who is?”

She stepped on the same curb she would be stepping on in approximately eleven hours. She would shield herself from the pain, walk away, and let an unknown person take Raven’s place. The morning wind picked up; the smell of death swirled all around. She had to close her eyes. Concentration built in her mind; she could see and feel everything as though time did not exist. And then she heard the new mother’s tears mixed with the fathers; their shallow breathing, a pain so agonizingly real that even now Sam could feel it.

No, no, no. Her mind screamed. She clutched at her chest. She couldn’t do this; something had forever changed inside of her. She could no longer live like this, she was no longer levelheaded, and no longer did she understand the delicate balance she herself had pledged to keep.

She waited, catching his murderous scent. The vengeance which had seared through her soul the day she killed Chuck now boiled up again, frothing and foaming out, covering her with the hatred of wickedness. She was the hunter and her prey’s disgusting lust lingered in the air making his location easy to find. She walked quickly, never hesitated as she navigated down the streets. At first walking until he was closer and then she ran. Her speed that of a trained sprinter. He was so near, she wanted to weep from the strong emotions flowing in and out of her.

“You are not the judge of right or wrong,” Animus’s words stung again. 

“I am this morning!”  Sam yelled into the vast emptiness of the morning hour as though someone, anyone could hear.

Her body stopped. She didn’t need to catch her breath, just take hold of her wild thoughts and keep them in check. She felt him, her body turning toward a small house. The trim was neat, painted yellow, baiting salesmen to come. The front door was red, commanding power. Even if he lacked it, he would not let the world know he was nothing more than a poltroon. The yard, green and cut to an enviable length, dawned tiny yellow flowers, most appropriate for a man who envied all those around him. 

She wanted to vomit, perfection, order, no chaos, just order. She could not put the scale in check, for inside, in his mind, chaos ran free, equality, order, utter disorder… she could not go against her nature, against her job, but then again, she hadn’t been feeling like herself lately, and she felt, maybe she could twist herself inside enough to change everything. Her dramatic mood of disgust was conspicuous to her, clearing out her mind, clearing out the ability to follow orders blindly. She would and could do this. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Elicia Clegg, who was born in the small town of Spanish Fork, Utah, affectionately known as happy-valley, moved at age four to Ogden, Utah; a town riddled with a dark past of opium dens, brothels and businesses with underground tunnels constructed for criminals’ and prostitutes to escape police raids. Not only was Elicia’s environment surrounded in historical intrigue, her family has long whispered about a Curse as many have died in strange events. To name but a few: her grandfather was thrown off a building in New York City, her great-grandfather “fell” off the historic Radisson in Ogden, her father was shot in the head, her brother died in a work explosion, her great-uncle had a truck load of lumber crush him to death, her maternal great-grandfather was hit by car and died, a cousin who served two tours in Vietnam died on route home from his heart bursting, her maternal great-great-grandfather disappeared without a trace, and her grandmother, while volunteering, was stabbed to death at the State Mental Health Institute. 

It is no wonder she grew up with an overactive imagination and soon began to write many psychologically-thrilling suspense novels including Vexation, Castigate My Sins, and Running with Chaos.

 

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Rain Dance by Joy Dekok

At thRain Dancee crossroads of humanity, Joy Dekok tackles the topic of abortion, a very controversial issue amongst Christians. The shape of her novel began with these questions: What happens when a Christian woman facing a childless future and a woman seeking an abortion are waiting to see the same doctor?

What if after that “chance” encounter they are unable to forget each other? What if they find themselves drawn together in spite of their drastic differences by their surprising similarities? Can a woman who can’t have children and one who chooses abortion be friends? What if they somehow find the courage to become friends? What if abortion is more than a controversial political issue? What if infertility is more than a private crisis?

Rain Dance delves into the often silent battles and surprising hypocrisies found in the lives of women facing the personal crisis of abortion and infertility. In this sensitive and unique story, Joy Dekok takes readers into the lives of two fictional women to see if there are answers to these and other difficult questions.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Joy Dekok is the author of several books currently in publication. She and her husband live on 35 acres of woods and field in Minnesota on thirty-five acres of woods and fields, just north of Rochester. Joy doesn’t believe in easy answers or that she has God figured out. She is a seeker who has been found, but who continues to seek to know God better. She loves Him more because He has both made Himself known to us, and is so big He is still a mystery. Joy has been writing most of her life and as a popular speaker shares her heart and passion for God with women. In her own words: “I’m dedicated to writing with integrity – my faith demands it and the story, which is both plot and character-driven, required it. I didn’t choose this topic. It chose me one day while I was cleaning the house. I told God I thought it was a great idea and I hoped He’d find an author for it. Although I argued with Him for almost a year, I realized, He already had His author. Me. You can be pro-life and not be militant. As a Christian who is pro-life or an atheist who is pro-choice you can admit your hypocrisies. Jesus loves post-abortive women and so do I.”

SELLING POINTS

Publisher and editorial director Joan Shoup contracted Rain Dance because it fits the editorial guidelines and the commitment of Sheaf House to publish novels written with excellence, that are unafraid to dive deep into the heart of sometimes “untouchable” topics, and offer a powerful redemptive message for readers.

Rain Dance is the perfect fit for Sheaf House,” Joan says. “The author has written a beautiful story her test readers and reviewers love. She didn’t shy away from the difficult and refused to end the novel with ‘happily ever after.”

Readers can buy Rain Dance from the author at www.booksbyjoy.com.

Also available in paperback at Amazon and on Kindle for $2.99.

 

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A Hint of Murder: The Writer by Lia Fairchild

A Hint of Murder: The WriterTo demonstrate her protagonist‘s moment at the crossroads of humanity, author Lia Fairchild has submitted an excerpt.

EXCERPT

Since the first body was discovered, she’d had nothing but heartache, worry and guilt. Alicia Fairfield prayed it was a coincidence; that the murdered young woman had nothing to do with the story she had created. A story that was played out on the big screen just last week. Perhaps making Vegas Vendetta, her tenth bestseller, into a movie had been a mistake. The Las Vegas Showgirl was fatally stabbed the night of the premiere. Alicia and her agent Edward spoke to the police the next day before Alicia returned to her million-dollar home snuggly perched in the rolling hills of Marin County.

Clutching the bottle tightly, Alicia closed the medicine cabinet and stared at herself in the mirror. A pair of icy blue eyes gazed back at her as she smoothed down her straight blonde hair. At forty-five, she was just beginning to show the signs of aging. For a moment, the stranger in the reflection hypnotized her but she tore herself away from the image and left for the kitchen. She passed through her dining room, decorated to perfection, and her hallway adorned with gorgeous paintings, some of them her own creations. When she reached the sink she filled a glass with water and took it along with the pill bottle to the other side of the counter. Setting them down next to her laptop, she took a seat at the end barstool.

Alicia glanced down at the morning paper, and reread the headline. “Copy Cat Killer Strikes Again.” The article detailed the killing of the showgirl and linked it to the recent murder of a nurse found dead behind a free clinic in Novato. A source told the paper that a page from A.J. Field’s novel From the Shadows had been left with the nurse’s body. The pen name was Alicia’s attempt to have a private life and keep her family—mainly her mentally ill son—away from public scrutiny.

Alicia set the paper down and turned to her laptop. Mesmerized by the blinking curser, she contemplated what she would write. For the first time, these would be her words. It was possible two lives had been taken because of the words she’d written in her novels. Should these be the last words anyone would ever read from A.J. Field?

The white page grew blurry as tears welled in her eyes. She rested her hands on the keyboard, sighed and began to type the incoherent thoughts that scattered in her mind:

To my dearest David, a beloved son that never found happiness, I am truly sorry. And, my agent Edward, thank you for years of support and friendship. I would never have made it this far without you. To all my faithful fans out there, I’m so grateful I enriched and heightened your love of reading. As I truly believe that our decisions

A loud pounding at the door startled Alicia and made her jump. She sat frozen wondering what to do. The pounding came again accompanied by a loud grumbling voice. “Alicia! Alicia, open the door! It’s me, Edward!”

Fearing the dreadful tone in his voice, Alicia grabbed the pills and stashed the bottle in her purse. She raced to the door and opened it.

“My God, Alicia!” her agent said out of breath and leaning on the door jam. At sixty, he wasn’t in the best of shape. “Why haven’t you answered my calls?” He didn’t wait for an answer and stepped into the foyer. “Are you all right?” Glancing around the area, he cast a concerned look upon her and waited for answers.

“Edward, I’m fine. I just needed some time to think.” Her voice was calm; believable. Alicia grabbed him by the arm and led him to the kitchen. “Let’s get you something to drink, have you rest a bit.” Even though she saw him as a big brother—he was more than ten years her senior—she often felt the need to take care of him.

Alicia went to the refrigerator and pulled out a pitcher. “Tea?” she asked as Edward took a seat at the bar.

Nodding with a smile, he watched as she poured the tea. Then suddenly, Alicia gasped as she realized she hadn’t closed the keyboard before running to the door. Her hand shook uncontrollably and her calm cover had been blown. Tea splashed over the glass onto the counter causing Edward to go to her.

“Let me help,” Edward said. He removed the pitcher from her hand with care and set it on the counter. Instinctively he took her in his arms and held her close.  “You’ve heard the news I take it,” he said in a gentle tone. “It’s okay, Alicia. You don’t have to be afraid. I’m here.”

She barely made a sound, yet Edward’s shirt dampened beneath her cheek. Surprisingly she had never let him see her like that and wasn’t sure how he would react. His gentle voice and strong arms were comforting and different from his routine business demeanor.

Edward walked Alicia into the next room, rubbing her back. “Here…let’s sit and talk.” He had grown expert in dealing with Alicia during difficult writing times.  Whenever she had a notion to quit it all and concentrate on her painting, or was conflicted over a storyline or character, he always skillfully talked her down. But this was different. How could he tell her everything would be all right when there were two innocent girls that had been murdered? Killed in almost the exact circumstances of her last two novels.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

I am a native Californian who loves reading, writing, movies and anything else related to the arts. Writing is something I’ve thought about all my life, so the completion of my first novel, “In Search of Lucy” is truely satifisfying. I hold a B.A. degree in Journalism and a Multiple Subject Teaching Credential. My most enjoyable moments are spent with my family, traveling, spending time outdoors or simply laughing and being together.

 

 

SELLING POINTS

What people are saying about “A Hint of Murder: The Writer

“Wow! All I can say is wow!!”

“I was convinced I had all the answers to the murders. How totally wrong I was. Exceptionally well written and worthy of FIVE stars.”

“I love a good murder mystery. And this one’s a good one.”

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Other A Hint of Murder mysteries available or buy The Anthology

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