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Author Interview, Crooked Cat Books, New release

Opening Scene: Hunter’s Revenge

Val Penny is the next author to be featured in my Opening Scene series, specifically for her next mystery set in Scotland, Hunter’s Revenge. Here’s how she pitches the book, the second in her Hunter series: “Hunter by name – Hunter by Hunter's Revenge Covernature: DI Hunter Wilson will not rest until his friend’s death is revenged.”

I read the first in this series and was hooked. But then again, I am a huge fan of mysteries set in the UK. She is also a fellow author at Crooked Cat Books.

Hunter’s Revenge has a Sept. 9 release.

Here are the links to buy Hunter’s Chase and Hunter’s Revenge: myBook.to/HuntersChase and myBook.to/HuntersRevenge. 

So how does Hunter’s Revenge begin? Here’s a description from Val.

 DI Hunter Wilson is called to the scene of a murder. He is shocked to find the victim is his friend and colleague, George Reinbold. Who would want to harm the quiet, old man? Why was a book worth £23,000 delivered to him that morning? Why is the security in George’s home so intense? Hunter must investigate his friend’s past as well as the present to identify the killer and identify George’s killer.

Hunter also finds a new supply of cocaine from Peru flooding HMP Edinburgh and the city. The courier leads Hunter to the criminal gang, but Hunter requires the help of his nemesis, the former Chief Constable, Sir Peter Myerscough and local gangster Ian Thomson to make his case. Hunter’s perseverance and patience are put to the test time after time in this taught crime thriller.

Here is an excerpt from the prologue of Hunter’s RevengeHunter's Revenge Banner

The last thing Georg did on his eighteenth birthday was kill a man.

He really hadn’t meant to kill the Stasi officer in front of him, but it was him or Georg – and Georg did not want to die. It was the first time he’d seen a corpse. The streets were slick with ice. The man lost his balance and cracked his head on the pavement. Georg stared down at the body: there was blood and brains all over the pavement. He looked into the officer’s eyes. They stared blindly to heaven, but Georg knew there wasn’t a Stasi officer on earth who was going there. He looked away from death and towards his friends in horror, but when they saw what had happened, they scattered. Georg picked up the officer’s gun and began to run.

More Stasi officers appeared as the boys fled.

Georg was out of breath when he got home.

“What’s the rush, son?” his father asked.

“Shit, Dad! It’s bad.”

“You’re drunk! No language in this house, boy,” said his grandmother.

“Dad, the boys and me were leaving the bar to come home and we saw a Stasi officer”

“So?”

“We were laughing and having fun.”

“And?”

“For a laugh I knocked his hat off.”

“Idiot! You know Stasi have no sense of humour. Ever. So what next?”

“He pulled his gun and told us to stand silently against the wall.”

“And you apologised and complied, I hope.”

“I panicked and punched him. He slipped on the ice and fell over. He hit his head on the ground, and when I checked him, he wasn’t breathing. He was dead. I just took his gun and ran.”

The silence in the room was deafening.

“You did what? You fucking idiot! Did you really punch a Stasi officer? Are you mad? You know we don’t even have to openly engage in resistance to draw the attention of the Stasi and incur its retribution. Just failing to conform with mainstream society can be enough. Shit! I sired a fool.” Georg’s father’s red face reflected his rage.

“And now you are here,” his grandmother added. “You ran home, leading them straight to us. We will all die now. Thank you.”

“What is all the noise?” Georg’s mother came through from the kitchen, drying her hands on her apron. His twin sister Ingrid and younger brother Wilhelm followed her. They looked bewildered. Their father rarely raised his voice, especially not to Georg.

As his father explained the issues, Georg’s mother burst into tears.

“They will kill him,” she whispered. 

About Val Penny:

Val Penny is an American author living in SW Scotland. She has two adult daughters of whom she is justly proud and lives with her husband and two cats. She has a law degree from Edinburgh University and her MSc from Napier University.

She has had many jobs including hairdresser, waitress, lawyer, banker, azalea farmer and lecturer. However she has not yet achieved either of her childhood dreams of being a ballerina or owning a candy store. Until those dreams come true, she has turned her hand to writing poetry, short stories and novels.

Her crime novels, Hunter’s Chase and Hunter’s Revenge are set in Edinburgh, Scotland, published by Crooked Cat Books. The third book in the series, Hunter’s Force, follows shortly.

Val Penny on social media:

www.authorvalpenny.com

www.facebook.com/valerie.penny.739

www.facebook.com/groups/296295777444303

twitter.com/valeriepenny

 

 

 

 

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author, New release

Isabella May’s New Book: Costa del Churros

Today author Isabella May pops in to talk about her latest romantic comedy Costa del Churros. Here goes:

Muchas graciasfor hosting me on your blog today to talk about my brand new novel bit of body textwith Crooked Cat Books! COSTA DEL CHURROS will launch on September 19 and is another romantic comedy which fuses all things foodie, travel and spirituality. I’m keeping my fingers (and paws!) crossed that it’ll have as good a reception as its predecessors…

Why write about Spain?
My first two books, Oh! What a Pavlova and The Cocktail Bar centred much of their activity around the quirky and mystical town of Glastonbury, UK. But in actual fact I live in Spain nowadays and much as I relished the opportunity to write about the place where I spent my childhood through to late twenties, it was high time for a change of scene – as well as to prove to myself that I am not a One Trick Pony. Or should that be Cat?

Is Costa del Churros based on a fictional or real part of Spain?
Yes, Costa del Churros refers to the Costa del Sol, here in the gigantic province of Andalusia, where I live. I have traveled all over the country, but nowhere seems to make, eat or embrace churros (fried donut strips, often eaten dipped in a thick, velvety chocolate sauce and/or sprinkled liberally with sugar) with the aplomb of the people in this region. The churros play a central role throughout the book, used as a code word that brings four – very different – women together for flamenco lessons with their highly exuberant teacher, Carmen.

Here’s the blurb:

The rain in Spain doesn’t mainly fall on the plain…

Brits abroad Belinda, Julia, Laura and Georgina need more than the sweetness of churros with chocolate dipping sauce to save them from their unsavoury states of affairs.

Cue Carmen Maria Abril de la Fuente Ferrera, the town’s flamboyant flamenco teacher! But can she really be the answer to their prayers?

One thing’s for sure: the Costa del Sol will never be the same again.

Are these four women based on people you know?

Not per se!

But Belinda, Julia, Laura and Georgina are definitely a beautiful fusion of some of the kaleidoscopically colourful characters I have met here over the past seven years. I wanted to paint a truthful picture of expat life in Spain (and quite possibly this will extend to other areas of the Mediterranean too). It’s all too easy to assume that a life in the sun is all soaking up its rays, sand, sea and sangria, but in actual fact, we take ourselves wherever we go! There’s absolutely no running away from your problems when you are home from home, be they romantic, financial, self-esteem based, or all of the above. Often, as soon as the novelty of the new lifestyle wears off, those issues are only exacerbated…

I thought it would make for an interesting (and comical) read to throw four women from four completely different backgrounds together, to add a little magic (a la Carmen) and to watch the fireworks – from a very safe distance.

Tell us a bit about Carmen Maria Abril de la Fuente Ferrera…

Well, she was a joy to write.

And I think all of us could do with a Carmen in our lives. Not only is she a talented flamenco teacher, but she has watched the way Franco’s repression of the female has gnawed away at her mother, and at the lives of countless women around her. So Carmen’s mission is one of empowerment. And she’s particularly passionate about encouraging women to have their cake and eat it. Truly, I’d love for nothing more than to click my fingers and magic her up every time I witness a female friend or family member declare in a café/restaurant/gelateria ‘Oh! I really shouldn’t indulge… I’ll start the diet again next week!’

For Carmen is the antidote to any and all of that prescribed female behaviour, an advocate for positive body image on beaches and sun-loungers the length of the coast. She’s a breath of fresh air injecting a much-needed confidence boost to all four of the main characters in the story.

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Links to connect

If your tummy has started to rumble… here’s that all important Universal Amazon buying link: mybook.to/costadelchurros

You can find out about Isabella May’s other books, and follow her quirky cake and cocktail posts at these places:

www.isabellamayauthor.com

Twitter – @IsabellaMayBks

Facebook – www.facebook.com/IsabellaMayAuthor/

Instagram – @isabella_may_author

About Isabella May

Isabella May lives in (mostly) sunny Andalucia, Spain with her husband, daughter and son, creatively inspired by the sea and the mountains. Having grown up on Glastonbury’s ley lines however, she’s unable to completely shake off her spiritual inner child, and is a Law of Attraction fanatic.

Cake, cocktail, and travel obsessed, she also loves nothing more than to (quietly) break life’s ‘rules’.

Costa del Churros is her third novel.

 

 

 

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Chasing the Case, New release

I Killed Off the Husband

Of course, the husband in this case belongs to Isabel Long, the protagonist in my new mystery, Chasing the Case. My own is alive and well, thank you.

But when I wrote this book, I made Isabel a widow. Her husband, Sam, had died of natural causes and not by anybody’s hand. Oh, why not?

Chasing the Case is written in the first person, so I will admit there is more than a little of me in Isabel. We’re both nosy smart asses. She and I live in a small, Chasing the Case cover copyrural town. I was a longtime journalist, and so was she. But she is an amateur P.I. and I’m not. I just get to write about one.

For those who might be wondering, I didn’t start this book thinking I would have a widow as my main character. Like so many other things, it just happened.

Isabel was happily married to Sam, a skilled woodworker who was kinda deaf from power tools. He was a nice guy and a good dancer.

For those who know me, Sam sounds a little bit like Hank, my real-life spouse. Well, as I’ve said before, you take what you know and have your way with it. Most of my adult fiction has a character who is a carpenter. I joke that in this one, I bumped him off. Hank didn’t mind.

Anyway, Isabel loved and grieved for Sam when he died — it was actually the start of her bad year. (The end to her long-time career as a journalist was also a part of that year.)

She chose to mourn him properly before deciding “to do something foolish,” as she says.

And that’s where the book starts. Besides giving a go at being a private investigator, Isabel gets interested in a man. I’m not going to spoil the story by telling you who, but I like the guy. I bet you will, too.

I also believe you will find the inscription Isabel chose to put on Sam’s gravestone amusing. But that’s too far into the book. I offer instead an excerpt about Sam from the first chapter. Here, Isabel is digging a grave in the back yard for a pet cat that loved Sam. It’s late October, but the town is getting hit with an unexpected early snow.

I dip the shovel into the hole and eyeball the depth. I figure I have at least a foot to go. I’ve reached a rocky patch, but if I need to, I’ll get the crowbar from the shed. That’s the way Sam would do it, so I follow his advice. The crowbar is hanging where he left it.

Sam was a master woodworker although he was too humble to say that about himself. Anyone who hired him to build a staircase or do finish work in their house always got more than their money’s worth. He did the same when he built this house.

His workshop was in the basement. I could hear him banging around down there, building something beautiful. I haven’t had the heart to do anything with his tools. Sometimes I take my coffee down there, especially the first months after he was gone, just like I used to when he was alive. I’d bring him a cup. He’d light up a cigarette, the only place in the house he smoked, and tell me what he was doing.

Yes, I miss him like hell.

We met in Boston, got married pretty fast, and started having kids. We moved to Conwell with the first, Matthew, because we wanted to raise him in the country, and then had two more close together. After taking a break to be with the kids when they were little, I started writing for the Daily Star as a correspondent, covering my town and the ones around it. I got paid, first by the inch, and then by the story. I used to be a reporter in Boston, not the Globe or Herald but something a lot smaller and now nonexistent – a victim of the big crash in 2008 and the rise of online news. At the Star, I went from correspondent to staff reporter to editor, and as I joke, clawed my way to the top, where I liked it until the paper got sold.

Sam and I made a good life here for our kids and us. He was a trustworthy guy, a little deaf from the power equipment and used to keeping things inside. But he was kind, hardworking, and a great dancer.

Yup, it still hurts.

THE NITTY GRITTY: Like what you read? Chasing the Case is available from Amazon. Here’s the link: http://mybook.to/chasingthecase 

You can pre-order the Kindle version, which has an official launch of May 18, or buy a paperback now. Thanks for your support.

By the way, if you’re on Facebook, join me for an online launch party that day, 2 p.m. Eastern Time Zone for online discussion and contests.

ABOUT THE IMAGE ABOVE: That’s an alleyway that leads to the Shelburne Falls Candlepin Bowling Alley in Western Massachusetts.

 

 

 

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books, Fiction, hippies, New release, short stories

Professor Groovy, Class Is In Session

I just got word Professor Groovy and Other Stories is now available on Kindle. How much fun is that?

As I’ve mentioned before, the four stories are a prequel of sorts to Peace, Love, and You Know What. Michelle Gutierrez designed the cover you see above that reflects that relationship in a creative way. (Thanks, Michelle.)

Lenora Dias, one of the novel’s main characters, is the prominent figure in each story. We get a taste of the late sixties via her point of view.

For those who haven’t read the novel, Lenora is the first of her Portuguese family to go to college at the fictional Westbridge State. She goes hippie big time, but is levelheaded enough to stay out of too much trouble and to graduate on time. A serial romantic, she falls hard in love and suffers for it. She is the queen of her little tribe of hippie friends.

In one story in this collection, Lenora has an encounter with a professor who enjoys having no boundaries with his students. Yes, you could call him a dirty professor.

In another, Lenora reveals a secret and in another, a liar. Then, there is her raucous summer fling with a guy back home.

Yes, these stories were inspired by my experiences long ago, but they are strictly from my imagination. I wrote them before I started Peace, Love, and You Know What. I guess you could call them practice runs although two did get picked up by publications.

I opted at this point to go with Kindle only because the short stories total 10,000 words. In the future, I may incorporate them with other stories to make a heftier book worth printing.

The price to read Professor Groovy is 99 cents, which I believe is fair.

Don’t have a Kindle? You can download the free app to your computer, phone or tablet. Anyway, here is the link on Amazon Professor Groovy

Thanks for reading my fiction.

 

 

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