author, Mystery, New release

JD Spero’s New Book: The Secret Cure

JD Spero’s new psychological thriller The Secret Cure is set to launch May 17 — although Kindle readers can pre-order now. A fellow author at darkstroke books, JD offers an intriguing pitch about her novel The Secret Curebelow plus its first chapter. I’ll cut to the chase and offer you the link to buy it on Amazon:  http://mybook.to/thesecretcure.

FIRST ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Johannah Davies (JD) Spero’s writing career took off when her first release, Catcher’s Keeper, was a finalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award in 2013. Her small town mystery series has won similar acclaim. Boy on Hold won 2020 IPPY Gold for Best Mystery/Thriller ebook and Boy Released was a 2021 Indies Today Finalist. Her YA fantasy series, Forte, is also a multiple award winner, and is the topic of classroom visits in schools across the country. Having lived in various cities from St. Petersburg (Russia) to Boston, she now lives with her family in the Adirondack Mountains, where she was born and raised.

NOW THE PITCH:  She’s getting better. He has no clue. That’s exactly the way she wants it.  To pull off the perfect revenge, her cure has to remain a secret

In her mid-30s, Rosalie Giordano is in the prime of her life. Long saved from the manipulative hands of her mother, she’s been married to her fairy tale hero for ten blissful years. Vincent is sweet and strong, and stunning as hell — and completely enamored of her.

Just as they begin to plan for a family, Rosalie is diagnosed with a mysterious virus that renders her temporarily paralyzed. As days stretch to weeks, then months, she learns not only is her condition chronic, but the love of her life is having an affair.

As her health improves, a slow burn of vengeance simmers in her heart. With the help of her homecare nurse, she regains full mobility. While hiding the truth from her husband, she uncovers the extent of his betrayal … and learns he is not at all who he seems. Their planned anniversary trip overseas gives her the perfect occasion for revenge.

But at the fancy Sicilian resort, Rosalie is not the only one with a score to settle with Vincent. And in the end, she’s not the only one with blood on her hands…

CHAPTER ONE  ROSALIE

Time goes by in the murk. Am I sleeping or is this real? Like weeds sprouting, images rise up to torment me.

Spotlights warm a stage. Our dance builds with an orchestra’s crescendo. A duet? But I’m alone. He spins me out and lets go – into the abyss of backstage. Feels like a black hole.

Makes me wonder. Is this a sick play on grief? Or, worse, the tug of desire? Or just some dumb dream?

What the hell, Vin? Pull me back.

Speak of the devil, Vin bursts into the guest room where Cate has me set up. “Good morning!” he calls, his mouth a bullhorn.

I blink him into focus, shaking away my dream-haze. I’m awake, then. This is real. As the pieces of my shitty reality clunk into place, my spirit plunges. Down that black hole again.

Cate blushes hard in my husband’s company. Usually chatty, she falls into a tizzy around him, like a middle schooler.

But don’t be fooled. Rumor has it she was a war nurse over in Iraq. One tough Tootsie-Roll, saving soldiers and all that.

Now she takes care of me.

“How’s our Rosalie?” Vin’s smile is constipated. He’s faking it. There’s zero reason to happy, asking that question.

But, oh, he’s such a hunk. With those dark eyebrows and olive skin, he gets hunkier with age. Not fair.

What do I look like these days? Am I still blond or all hoary now? Are my lips ghostly pale? Is it too much to ask for Cate to throw some makeup on me, drape me in some bling?

Cate fans her face. “Oh, she’s good, I think. I was about to give her some breakfast.”

Vin comes to my bedside with jarringly loud footfalls, like he’s got taps on his shoes. Strange, I’d never noticed that when I was a normal, moving person.

He’s dressed for work, a button-down and khakis. What time is it? Seems like after nine, close to ten even. What the hell do I know? I’ve given up keeping track of clocks, biological and otherwise.

“Please do,” he says to Cate, leaning in. Will he kiss me? My breath stops in anticipation of it. My smile fills my mouth and my whole head. Can he see it? Can he see my grin?

Must not. He’s frowning. “How’s the muscle tone?”

“As expected. But I did think I felt some movement in her fingers when I massaged her this morning.”

As prescribed, Cate focuses her daily massages on where the paralysis started—in my hands. In those early days, I tried to clap away the pins and needles. But when it crawled up my limbs and usurped my whole body, I was colossally screwed. Doctors were baffled. Vin was pissed. And me? I went numb. Not from the illness, but from a gripping, hollow terror.

I haven’t moved in months, despite Cate’s optimism. Her massage this morning didn’t do squat. Cate has made an absolute art of hyperbole.

Still, Vin’s eyes go wide, and he lets out a laugh. Listerine-scented. Touching. He made the effort to breathe fresh breath on me.

“No kidding.” His grin goes to his eyes, and a million starbursts behind them. Definitely not faking it now. I would melt if I weren’t already melted onto the bed. Oh, what I wouldn’t give to loop my arms around him, to pull him down to me, to feel the warm weight of his body on mine.

He rests a hand on my forehead and sweeps it over my hairline like he used to. Heavenly sensations pour through my body.

“She likes that, Mr. Giordano.”

Oh, shut up, Cate. Give me a moment with my husband, will you?

He does it again, brushes back my hair, and I nearly orgasm right there in front of everyone.

Vin has a different idea. “Maybe we could go out for ice cream tonight to celebrate.”

Ice cream? Please, no. I might be a temporary-invalid, but I’m still a sexual being with needs and desires.

Vin, honey, take me out for a Martini, and then bring me home and make mad passionate love to me, like old times.

Like old times…

Sigh. As my condition worsened, Vin’s anger turned desperate. How could he save his damsel in distress? Luckily we lived near Boston, home to the best hospitals in the country, so he took me on a proverbial white horse to Mass General. After an MRI and lumbar puncture came clean, they zapped my fingers and toes with tiny electric shocks. What’d they find? My nerves were under attack by my own immune system. My own personal ‘friendly fire’ (leave it to Cate to put it into war terms.) The disorder is officially called Guillain-Barre Syndrome. In the rarest of cases, it affects the whole body for an indefinite amount of time.

Lucky me.

At least I’m off the ventilator.

“Ice cream!” Cate shouts, and I try to flinch.

Then, as if to rub salt on my soul-sucking weakness, Cate lifts a bulky contraption into the middle of the room. With a grunt, she wrenches the thing open. Ah, it’s my special wheelchair, the reclining one with the head support Vin rented from the medical supply company.

I hate that thing.

Cate, however, seems overjoyed. “Don’t you worry, Mr. Giordano.” She pushes up her sleeves. Is she puffing her chest? “We can go wherever we want with this handy dandy wheelchair. And ice cream is just what the doctor ordered!”

I blink at her and say nothing. Can’t, really. What an asinine figure of speech. No doctor in his right mind would order me an ice cream. Swallowing has become a terrifying prospect, so forgive me for not cheering for frozen fucking dessert.

All Vin’s attention is with Cate now, his hand tucked in his pocket. My skin tingles from where he touched me. “I’ll try to be home at a reasonable time, but I do have an appointment after work.”

All those tingly vibes fall away. The black hole wants to swallow me. Rage breaks out in my pores. Because I know all too well Vin’s ‘appointment’ is with his therapist, Anastasia, whom he’s been seeing since I got sick. Their therapy sessions have become more common the longer I’m immobile. Always at the end of the day, always a good, generous hour. Who is this Anastasia? And what is she up to with my husband, really?

So, Vin likes his secrets. Well, I have my secrets too. They live in my blood and run through my veins, filling me with a bulletproof drive to get through this thing. Because I will get through. My god, I was a dancer. My body knows how to move. And it holds a muscle memory stronger than any diagnosis. I will move again. And when I do, no secret is safe.

I can feel it now, the slow, satisfying burn of a buried secret emitting steam from my ears, fire from my nose, laser beams from my eyeballs.

Cate nods, still about the ice cream, still puffing her chest, a dopey half-grin on her chubby face. Vin clomps out of the room like a brontosaurus.

I hate them both.

JD SPERO’S SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS:

Website: www.jdspero.com

Twitter: @jdspero

Instagram: @johannahspero

Facebook.com/jdspero

 

 

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Isabel Long Mystery Series, Killing the Story, Mystery, New release

A Healthy Obsession

I’m talking about writing fiction. I just can’t help myself and hopefully, there is no cure for it.

In college and a few years afterward, I was a poet. When I read the poems I’ve kept, I still like what I wrote. But I kicked that habit when I started having kids, lots of kids, six in all, now all adults. By then, I was more interested in prose although I couldn’t manage more than a few paragraphs and letters to friends. I read what other people wrote and thought one day I would do the same.

I honestly believe each kid I had is the equivalent of one or two books each.

Then, I got a job as a correspondent for the hilltown where I lived for a daily newspaper. Over the years, I covered more hilltowns, and then it became a full-time job. It wasn’t fiction, but I was writing and better yet, immersing myself in rural Western Massachusetts, which is the setting for most of my  books. And I was learning how to sustain prose.

It wasn’t until I became an editor for the same newspaper, that I started writing fiction. I didn’t write down the date, too bad, but from that day on, I couldn’t go without writing. Yes, I was hooked and pretty darn fast.

I estimate I overcame a 25-year writer’s block.

My fixation has led to completed books, published and unpublished, for adults and young readers.

Killing the Story is the fourth book in my Isabel Long Mystery Series, which started when I decided to try writing a mystery. All of my other books, save the ones for young readers, are what I would call literary fiction. But after I finished the first, Chasing the Case, I was fixated on the characters, the setting, and coming up with a story that would have twists and turns that would fool readers about who might have dunnit. (I will admit I don’t know either as I solve the cold case along with my protagonist, Isabel Long and her sidekick, her mother.)

In Killing the Story, Isabel is investigating the death of a small town newspaper editor. Was it an accident or murder? She’s determined to find out despite obstacles thrown her way by the local police chief. But then again, he and the victim have a dark history.

The book, which was officially released Aug. 26, just completed a blog tour that garnered some great reviews. Now NewInBooks is giving it a push.

And so, I am onto the next mystery. This one is called Working the Beat. I started this week, getting up at 5 a.m. to write before I head to work. (I am the editor-in-chief of a daily newspaper.) As of this morning, I hit the 3,700-word mark. Isabel is just about to find her next case. Damn, I’m excited.

Interested in reading Killing the Story? Thank you very much. Hopefully, you, too, will get hooked on my series. Here’s the link on Amazon: Killing the Story

ABOUT THE PHOTO ABOVE: Lobsters awaiting their doom in a tank during a recent visit to Cape Cod.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Isabel Long Series, New release, Redneck's Revenge

Getting Ready for Liftoff

The official launch of Redneck’s Revenge, the next book in my Isabel Long Mystery Series, is getting oh so close. It’s a week away — Wednesday, Sept. 26 — as I write this. The launch may even be closer if you are reading this another day.

And I am using this post to remind my dear readers about the launch party on Facebook.

What the heck is a Facebook launch party? To tell you the truth, I had never heard of them until I signed with Crooked Cat Books, which is based in Europe. Suddenly, I was attending virtual launch parties via Facebook for fellow authors around the world. Really, it is the only practical way to do it since they live in various parts of Europe, Australia, and the U.S.

My first was May 18 for the launch of Chasing the Case, the first in the Isabel Long Mystery Series. I prepared contests and discussion prompts. Honestly, I didn’t know what to expect, and I was chuffed, as my UK friends say, when so many people from different parts of my life played along.

I am hoping for the same Sept. 26. The party starts 2 p.m. in the eastern time zone in the U.S. I will be actively partying until 4 p.m. But I will leave everything up for 24 hours for friends living in other parts of the world and those who have a boss looking over their shoulder. I will pop in as well, especially later in the day when the Aussies join the party.

This is a public event. The more the merrier. Here is the link to say you are interested or plan to go: Redneck’s Revenge Facebook launch party

About those those contests: I will be giving away signed editions of Chasing the Case and my other books, plus a couple of lucky winners will have their names used in the fourth Isabel Contest 1Long book I will start after I finish the third — Checking the Traps. (The names of few winners from May’s party appear in Checking the Traps. Paul Roberts and Sue Lehman have pivotal roles in that mystery. There’s also a little girl named Helen, plus dogs named Gus and Apples.)

Don’t worry if you are new to this. It’s not really different than commenting on regular Facebook posts, except you might win a prize and my gratitude for your support.

LINKS: Here are the links if you are inclined to buy my books. Both are available in paperback and Kindle.

mybook.to/chasingthecase

mybook.to/rednecksrevenge

 

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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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