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Sneak Peek: Read Chapter One of RESURRECT (A Whitney Steel Novel – Book 3) #suspense #action #thriller

resurrectNEWCOVER

After two prominent scientists working at privately owned BSL-4 labs in Nevada and Texas are found murdered, no one makes the connection until investigative reporter, Whitney Steel, receives a lead pointing to an unspecified group plotting to unleash a biological attack using a new chimera virus known as “Resurrect”.
But when Whitney begins to unravel the truth as to who is behind the threat, enemies far and near surface, and a shocking discovery into the past changes her life forever in a race against the clock to stop the strike before thousands of innocent lives are lost.

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Read Chapter One

Dr. Matthew Fielding estimated he had six days to live.
He doubted he’d make it that long. Not judging by the harsh glint in the dark eyes staring at him through the clear visor. Inside the barren warehouse, the man wore a blue positive-pressure suit with its own air supply and clutched a gun awkwardly in his rubber-gloved hand. The spaceman-like suit would protect the man. For Fielding, on the other hand, it was already too late. Sweat trickled down the sides of his face, and his body trembled.
It had begun.
The high fever and chills were only the beginning. Soon, he’d experience the worst headache of his life, muscle and abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting. Already, his internal organs burned as if set on fire, the pain insufferable. An hour ago, he’d noted a purplish-red maculopapular rash on his chest and shoulders, followed by a five-minute nosebleed.
“Do you have it?”
Fielding coughed, then nodded. “They’re going to know the sample is missing.”
“I’m planning on it.” The man pointed the gun at a gray chest on a metal table against the brick wall. “Put the vial in there.”
Fielding lifted his shaking hand and pulled out a glass tube from his shirt pocket. He walked across the room, his legs weak and wobbly, and pressed the red button on the portable refrigeration unit.
The lid hissed open, and he placed the tube inside. He eyed a second sample already in the unit. Worry worked through his body. “What do you plan on doing with these? It’s not as if I’ll be around to find out. We both know that.”
The man waved the gun. “Close the lid.”
He did as ordered and heard the suction of the vacuum seal, confirming the component was secure. Whatever the man was planning, it wasn’t good. He’d learned that two days ago, after he’d come home from work to find the man in his home, threatening to kill his wife and daughter if he didn’t do exactly as instructed. He’d had no choice. He would sacrifice himself if it meant keeping his family safe.
“Thanks to you, a new chimera virus. Just think about how much you have helped us today.”
It was much worse than he thought. The man had what he needed: two different micro-organisms containing the necessary genes to replicate and create a new pandemic. Nausea boiled in his gut, and the room spun. He seized the edge of the table to steady himself and closed his eyes until the dizziness subsided.
He had worked in Nevada at Flatiron Sargasso Laboratories for the past fifteen years, one of only two privately-run CDC/USDA registered BSL-4 labs in the United States, researching some of the most dangerous pathogens in the world: smallpox, Marburg, Ebola, dengue and yellow fevers.
Fielding knew what the man was up to. He just didn’t know the target’s identity. Nor did he know which terrorist group the man belonged to, whether foreign or domestic. Not that it mattered, because he wasn’t walking out of the warehouse alive. He erupted into a coughing fit, his throat dry and raw. He yanked a crumpled handkerchief out of his pants pocket and wiped his mouth. Blood soaked the white cloth, indicating hemorrhaging had started. He noticed the two new large bruises on the outside of his hands and wrists caused by the bleeding under his skin. Fear paralyzed his limbs. If the man didn’t kill him first, shock, delirium and kidney failure would put him in a coma, followed by an agonizing death. Either way, he was a goner.
The man simply stood and observed, probably knowing he was in pain and his health was declining rapidly.
Coppery sour blood filled his mouth. He swallowed slowly, careful not to choke. “What’s…the other organism you’re using for the virus?”
“Smallpox. We’re calling the virus, Resurrect. Seems fitting, don’t you think? It’s been a while since the world has experienced a large smallpox outbreak.”
All the breath whooshed out of his lungs. Dear God. Bad enough Fielding had accidentally infected himself with Marburg while hastily trying to smuggle the sample out of the lab. He had to admit the security measures in place were lax at best, even after 9/11. The thought of this villain infecting unsuspecting innocent people made him glad he was going to die long before the guilt of what he’d been forced to do killed him.
As he watched two other men in suits enter the warehouse, regret plagued his conscience, and tears filled his eyes. Why hadn’t he spent more time with his wife, Janet, and his eighteen-year-old daughter, Scarlet? All those long hours, working at the lab and writing the dozens of scientific papers filled with research that had consumed years of his life. A waste of time. Time he wasn’t going to be able to make up for. He knew that now.
The two men glanced at him then lifted the unit containing the viruses and headed to the open warehouse door where a box van waited, engine idling. Gas-laden exhaust filled the warehouse. They trudged up the ramp and placed the unit on the floor in the back.
His blurry gaze shifted to the man with the gun, and he saw it. A spark of awareness the end was inevitable. He closed his eyes. Please forgive me…
A gunshot cracked. The thunderous boom echoed and vibrated throughout the warehouse a split second before the bullet shattered his forehead and bored into his brain.

©2016 Kim Cresswell (P) 2016 KC Publishing

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REFLECTION ~ Hot Summer Read

UP Authors Fiction Challenge Winner (2013)

Silicon Valley’s Romance Writers of America (RWA) “Gotcha!” Romantic Suspense Winner! (2004)

Honourable Mention CARWA’s The Writer’s Voice Contest (2006)

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BLURB

Florida investigative reporter, Whitney Steel, has lived in the shadow of her legendary father long enough. To prove herself she needs to find the “Big” story.

She found it.

Now it may kill her.

After Whitney receives a lead pointing to the world’s first cloned human, now a small child, she vows to unravel the truth. However, sifting through the facts proves to have dangerous results, including death threats and murder.

When Whitney is nearly killed, but is saved by undercover FBI Special Agent, Blake Neely, he refuses to let her get in the way of his own objective—at least not right away.

Caught in a lethal game between a billionaire obsessed with genetic perfection, his hit man’s thirst for retribution, and a Colombian drug lord fresh out of prison determined to make Blake pay for his twin brother’s death over a decade ago…

Can they save an innocent child before it’s too late?

Faced with tough choices, with deadly consequences for many—Whitney soon realizes that sometimes a story becomes more than just a story.

A reporter’s determination to expose an illegal human cloning project places an innocent child in the crosshairs of a master criminal. 

EXCERPT

WARNING: This book contains graphic language, sexual situations, and violence.

Chapter One
Mason Bailey gulped down his third Glenlivet. “I didn’t kill her.”

How many times had Whitney Steel heard those words? Dozens. But never from the mouth of a United States senator. For all she cared, the man could drink himself to Mars, but not until she got what she’d come for. An exclusive.

Under the awning shading the Pink Flamingo Club’s patio, she took a sip of her lime daiquiri, and couldn’t help notice the way the mid-afternoon sunlight brutally magnified every line on Mason’s tanned face.

“Of all the reporters in Panama City, let alone Florida, why me? We cut our ties years ago.” And our losses, she wanted to say, but didn’t.

“I know I can trust you.” His gaze darted across the street then back to her. “Besides, we were married once. That should count for something.”

Whitney straightened. Anger coiled in the pit of her stomach. “Give me a break. For a year and a half, I thought we were married. Too bad your girlfriends didn’t know about our little legal arrangement.” Especially, your twenty something assistant.

“Damn it, Whitney. I didn’t ask you here to rehash our past.” He yanked a monogrammed handkerchief from his jacket pocket and dabbed the sweat from his forehead. “I need your help. I know why Carmen Lacey was murdered.”

Her eyes widened. Now they were getting somewhere. “You have my full attention. Are we on the record?”

Mason shoved his empty glass aside. “Yes.”

Her heart thumped with anticipation. This story would be the topic du jour for months. Her ratings at WBNN-TV would soar, and finally her colleagues would take notice and treat her with the professional respect she deserved.

For the past twelve years, her colleagues said she’d had a free ride because of her father, an award winning war correspondent, and her ex-husband’s political connections. This time she’d prove them wrong.

She rummaged through her leather bag, placed her digital voice recorder on the table and gave the record button a firm push. “For the record, Senator Bailey, did you kill Carmen Lacey?”

“No.” He leaned back in the chair and loosened his pinstriped tie. “It’s true. I was the last person to see her alive. But there’s more to this than you think.”
Brown eyes that once set her heart hammering now conveyed a chilling,hollow look. Was it guilt? Desperation?

No. Fear.

Uneasiness slid down her spine. She stopped the recorder. “Mason, you’re scaring me. What the hell is going on? It’s been over three years since we last spoke. Then, out of the blue, you beg me to meet with you today. I know the police don’t believe you killed that woman.”

“But do you, Whitney? Do you believe I killed her? I need to know. It’s important.”

Stunned by the urgency in his voice, she answered carefully. “Of course not. You’re many things, but you’re not a killer.”

“Thank you. That means a lot to me.” He reached for his empty glass and tapped his chunky gold ring against the side.

Whitney turned the recorder on again.

“Carmen was a scientist working for a biotech company in Nevada. ShawBioGen. Heard of it?”

“Who hasn’t? They were one of the first to clone animals in the eighties. Caused quite a stir. But I don’t understand. What does that have to do with
Carmen’s death?”

He opened his mouth to answer.

The large window behind them dividing the patio from the main restaurant exploded. A storm of glass rained down, showering the patio.

There was no warning. Everything moved so fast, yet in slow motion as if part of a horrid nightmare.

Screams. Rushed, heavy, thumping footsteps.

A few feet away, a male waiter dropped the two plates of food in his hands. He froze.

“Get down!” Mason yelled.

Whitney dropped. She huddled into a ball under the table and squashed the side of her face against the patio stones. Amid the chaos, a gunshot echoed and the waiter ran for cover.

A bullet ripped through the man’s shoulder and spun him around, the force slamming his body against the restaurant door. He folded to his knees and howled out in pain.

More shots rang out. Debris spewed through the air. Food, glasses, plates. The sickening smell of deep fried food and scorched cordite assaulted her nostrils. She gagged.

Crimson snaked toward her hand. The warm, sticky liquid met her fingertips.

Blood. Lots of blood. But it wasn’t hers.

Her gaze snapped to Mason, lying on his back. Dark red blood pumped from a gaping wound in his chest, soaking his white shirt. She held her breath to keep from screaming.

He raised his arm and reached for her. “I swear—I didn’t kill her. I swear.”

“I believe you.” Whitney kept her head down and inched her body closer. She grasped his hand. “I do. Oh, God.”

Please don’t die. Her pulse roared so loud in her ears she couldn’t hear her own words. “You’re bleeding so much. Someone help us!”

Another bullet whizzed through the air and slammed into the bottom of wooden table leg.

Needle-like splinters from the wood slashed through her pants and drilled into her thigh like a hundred slivers. The pain knocked the breath from her. The world twisted and turned yellow. Darkness thickened and threatened to overpower her.

Can’t pass out…help Mason.

He gasped a ragged breath and shoved a key into her bloody palm and curled her fingers closed. “Don’t trust—anyone.”

She clutched the piece of metal. A knot wedged in her throat, one she couldn’t swallow. “I’m going to get help.”

“No—stay.” Blood bubbled at the corners of his mouth and trickled down his jaw. “They cloned…”

His eyelids slid shut.

“What Mason? They cloned what?”

Whitney lowered her head to his chest. “Oh, Mason, no.”

Reflection © 2013 by Kim Cresswell

 

Where to Buy

MuseItUp Publishing | Amazon | AmazonUK | Bookstrand | Smashwords | CoffeeTime Romance | Omnilit | ARe | ibookstore | Kobo | Barnes & Noble | Sony | iTunes

Now available in paperback at Amazon & Createaspace

“Cinematic writing, powerful visuals, sleek, fast, utterly sexy, notches above anything we have read before!” ~ UP Authors

“Action packed from page one…an impressively laid out passionate thrill ride!” -InD’Tale Magazine

__________________________________________________________________

REFLECTION is UPAuthor Approved

UP Approved-1Thank you UPAuthors.com!

reflection333x500

Excerpt
Mason Bailey gulped down his third Glenlivet. “I didn’t kill her.”

How many times had Whitney Steel heard those words? Dozens. But never from the mouth of a United States senator. For all she cared, the man could drink himself to Mars, but not until she got what she’d come for. An exclusive.

Under the awning shading the Pink Flamingo Club’s patio, she took a sip of her lime daiquiri, and couldn’t help notice the way the mid-afternoon sunlight brutally magnified every line on Mason’s tanned face.

“Of all the reporters in Panama City, let alone Florida, why me? We cut our ties years ago.” And our losses, she wanted to say, but didn’t.

“I know I can trust you.” His gaze darted across the street then back to her. “Besides, we were married once. That should count for something.”

Whitney straightened. Anger coiled in the pit of her stomach. “Give me a break. For a year and a half, I thought we were married. Too bad your girlfriends didn’t know about our little legal arrangement.” Especially, your twenty something assistant.

“Damn it, Whitney. I didn’t ask you here to rehash our past.” He yanked a monogrammed handkerchief from his jacket pocket and dabbed the sweat from his forehead. “I need your help. I know why Carmen Lacey was murdered.”

Her eyes widened. Now they were getting somewhere. “You have my full attention. Are we on the record?”

Mason shoved his empty glass aside. “Yes.”

Her heart thumped with anticipation. This story would be the topic du jour for months. Her ratings at WBNN-TV would soar, and finally her colleagues would take notice and treat her with the professional respect she deserved.

For the past twelve years, her colleagues said she’d had a free ride because of her father, an award winning war correspondent, and her ex-husband’s political connections. This time she’d prove them wrong.

She rummaged through her leather bag, placed her digital voice recorder on the table and gave the record button a firm push. “For the record, Senator Bailey, did you kill Carmen Lacey?”

“No.” He leaned back in the chair and loosened his pinstriped tie. “It’s true. I was the last person to see her alive. But there’s more to this than you think.”

Brown eyes that once set her heart hammering now conveyed a chilling,hollow look. Was it guilt? Desperation?

No. Fear.

Uneasiness slid down her spine. She stopped the recorder. “Mason, you’re scaring me. What the hell is going on? It’s been over three years since we last spoke. Then, out of the blue, you beg me to meet with you today. I know the police don’t believe you killed that woman.”

“But do you, Whitney? Do you believe I killed her? I need to know. It’s important.”

Stunned by the urgency in his voice, she answered carefully. “Of course not. You’re many things, but you’re not a killer.”

“Thank you. That means a lot to me.” He reached for his empty glass and tapped his chunky gold ring against the side.

Whitney turned the recorder on again.

“Carmen was a scientist working for a biotech company in Nevada. ShawBioGen. Heard of it?”

“Who hasn’t? They were one of the first to clone animals in the eighties. Caused quite a stir. But I don’t understand. What does that have to do with
Carmen’s death?”

He opened his mouth to answer.

The large window behind them dividing the patio from the main restaurant exploded. A storm of glass rained down, showering the patio.

There was no warning. Everything moved so fast, yet in slow motion as if part of a horrid nightmare.

Screams. Rushed, heavy, thumping footsteps.

A few feet away, a male waiter dropped the two plates of food in his hands. He froze.

“Get down!” Mason yelled.

Whitney dropped. She huddled into a ball under the table and squashed the side of her face against the patio stones. Amid the chaos, a gunshot echoed and the waiter ran for cover.

A bullet ripped through the man’s shoulder and spun him around, the force slamming his body against the restaurant door. He folded to his knees and howled out in pain.

More shots rang out. Debris spewed through the air. Food, glasses, plates. The sickening smell of deep fried food and scorched cordite assaulted her nostrils. She gagged.

Crimson snaked toward her hand. The warm, sticky liquid met her fingertips.

Blood. Lots of blood. But it wasn’t hers.

Her gaze snapped to Mason, lying on his back. Dark red blood pumped from a gaping wound in his chest, soaking his white shirt. She held her breath to keep from screaming.

He raised his arm and reached for her. “I swear—I didn’t kill her. I swear.”

“I believe you.” Whitney kept her head down and inched her body closer. She grasped his hand. “I do. Oh, God.”

Please don’t die. Her pulse roared so loud in her ears she couldn’t hear her own words. “You’re bleeding so much. Someone help us!”

Another bullet whizzed through the air and slammed into the bottom of the wooden table leg.

Needle-like splinters from the wood slashed through her pants and drilled into her thigh like a hundred slivers. The pain knocked the breath from her. The world twisted and turned yellow. Darkness thickened and threatened to overpower her.

Can’t pass out…help Mason.

He gasped a ragged breath and shoved a key into her bloody palm and curled her fingers closed. “Don’t trust—anyone.”

She clutched the piece of metal. A knot wedged in her throat, one she couldn’t swallow. “I’m going to get help.”

“No—stay.” Blood bubbled at the corners of his mouth and trickled down his jaw. “They cloned…”

His eyelids slid shut.

“What Mason? They cloned what?”

Whitney lowered her head to his chest. “Oh, Mason, no.”

Reflection © 2013 by Kim Cresswell

_______________

Praise

“Action packed from page one…an impressively laid out passionate thrill ride!” -InD’Tale Magazine

“I was looking forward to reading about Whitney and Blake. I anticipated a Booth and Bones relationship (from the Bones TV Series) and I wasn’t wrong…this book is definitely worth reading.” –Quality Reads UK Book Club

“A brilliant mixture of action, romance and mystery. Well worth a read…a very tough book to put down.” Jeep Diva

“Five-star page-turner! A truly edge-of-your-seat, never-a-dull-moment read! Reflection has a dramatic start and just never slows down.” Ellen Fritz at Books4Tomorrow

________________

Where to Buy
MuseItUp Publishing | Amazon | AmazonUK | Bookstrand | Smashwords | CoffeeTime Romance | Omnilit | ARe | ibookstore | Kobo | Barnes & Noble | Sony

Available in paperback at Amazon & Createaspace

LETHAL JOURNEY ~ Excerpt

lethaljourneyfinal-333x500A killer lurks in the shadows of Hyde Park, New York…waiting. A district attorneys’ journey into the past makes her a target and anyone she has ever loved.

COMING SOON!

Excerpt

September 1997

Rain pounded down.

Lauren squinted through the windshield, a backwash of water battered the glass. She flicked the wipers on high, and then tightened her hands around the steering wheel. With a quick glance in the rear view mirror, headlights inched from behind. Miles had gone by since she’d seen another vehicle on the dark road.

The vehicle appeared to speed up, fall back, and speed up again.

Her muscles tensed. “That driver behind us seems to be in big hurry.”

Her father leaned forward in the seat and peered into the side mirror. “He’s all over the road. Might be drunk or something.”

“He’s crazy driving like that in this weather. I’m letting him go by.” She downshifted the Jaguar and steered off onto the side of road and rolled to a stop.

As the van raced by, a giant wave of water pelted across the side of the car.

“Christ, he’s really flying.”

Taillights flickered and quickly faded ahead into the blackened night.

With a quick glimpse in the mirror, Lauren steered the car back onto the road, her grip relaxed around on the wheel. “That’s better.”

Her father repositioned himself in the leather seat and stretched his legs. “The Law Society’s dinner is next week. You going?”

God, the dinner. She’d bought a four hundred dollar dress for the occasion, a navy blue Lagerfield, and even toyed with the idea of having her long hair cut into something more
sophisticated―polished for a New York district attorney. “I’ll have to check my schedule.”

“Not good enough. I want you there, Lauren. My chance to show you off. Do some bragging, big time.”

She couldn’t help but smile. “Okay, dad. Okay.”

“And don’t forget to bring a date for protection. There’ll be dancing after dinner. Don’t want a bunch of drunken seedy lawyers groping you on the dance floor.”

Her smile faded as she remembered the annual dinner years before. She’d never forgotten a single detail of that night―how Eric held her in his arms, his lips gentle against hers, how his mouth devoured her willing lips, then pulled away and left her mouth burning for more…

“What else did you hear about Eric?”

“Not much. Christ, can’t even remember where I heard the news. Thought you didn’t want to talk about Brennen?”

“I don’t. I just wondered when he got back.”

She noticed her father straightened himself in the seat, his jaw tight. “Don’t know.” His voice turned hard. “Just heard he’s back.”

Probably nothing more than just a rumor.

He’d begged her to come with him and start a new life in Florida. She didn’t have the courage to start over, leave her father, leave her job. At the time, her career was at a crossroads, ready to take off.

Now three years later, she was taking on the most important case of her career—prosecuting Gino Valdino, boss of New York’s Valdino crime family, just like her father had done a decade before.

The heavy rains turned into drizzle. The sky split, lightening lit the road ahead.

In the distance Lauren eyed the exit sign to Hyde Park.

The whining squeal of an engine roared from behind.

She glanced over her shoulder.

“God, that van is back.” She clicked on the turning signal, slowed and steered the car onto the off ramp. Her eyes darted back to the side mirror.

Headlights raced behind them, close, swerving from side to side.

She grasped the wheel with a shiver of panic.

“I’m calling the police.” Her father grabbed his cell phone out of the glove box and turned it on. “Damn it, I can’t get a signal.”

“Keep trying.”

From the mirror, she watched.

The driver gunned the engine.

The van’s grill came into view, massive and powerful.

Close. Too close.

Metal connected, scraped against the bumper.

The van shoved the Jaguar ahead on the road.

Hit the brakes.

Useless.

The car pushed forward under the van’s control.

They had to escape. Somewhere. Anywhere.

High-beams blinded her.

Lauren blinked and turned her head. Her fingers dug deeper into the steering wheel.

The van rammed the back of the car.

Metal popped and squealed as the back window disintegrated into the back seat.

The seatbelt snapped across her shoulder, her head slammed back on the head rest, then forward. “Oh my God!”

The cell phone flew from her father’s hand. “What the―”

“Dad!” Like a sling shot, the Jaguar shot down the slick road.

She slammed on the brakes. The car slid a half circle, then spun out of control. A massive tidal wave of water washed over the car roof.

Her father grabbed the dashboard. “Watch out! The tree!”

Wood splintered. Metal buckled, popped and cracked. The air bag stuck her body like a fist, and smacked her head against the side window. She shoved at it, viciously. With every move, fiery pain shot through her face, down her neck.

The sickening sweet stench of gas and smoke filled her nostrils. Her head clouded. The world darkened.

Lauren heard her own voice, pinched and muffled, cry out. “Dad!” until her words drifted into silence.

Lethal Journey © 2013 by Kim Cresswell

BOOK TALK TUESDAY: Guest Interview with Charlotte Henley Babb

It’s my pleasure to welcome Charlotte Henley Babb, author of  Maven’s Fractured Fairy Tales!

Maven cover 333x500Fairy-Frogmother200x300mavenstiltskin200x300bubba-beast200x300

What is your book about?

Maven’s new dream job–fairy godmother–presents more problems than she expects when she learns that Faery is on the verge of collapse, and the person who is training her isn’t giving her the facts–and may be out to kill her. Will she be able to make all the fractured fairy tales fit together into a happy ending, or will she be eaten by a troll?

What inspired you to write this particular story?

Where are the stories for women of a certain age, the ones Clarissa Pinkola Estès calls The Dangerous Old Woman?  The Boomers are the first women to live to a ripe old age, many of us still with our mothers alive. Our only role models in fairy tales are bumbling grandmothers and evil witches.  I wanted to write about negotiating the second half of life. One of my great-unts is 97 years old. If I live that long, I have 25 years of adult life left. If I’m to spend it in a rocking chair, the porch will have wi-fi and I’ll be burning up the data with my tablet.

Describe your writing in three words.

Fractured fairy tales

Do you have specific techniques you use to develop the plot and stay on track?

I’m still learning outlining, so my main technique is character based—what would Maven do and why would she do that? Have I told enough backstory to make that plausible? When I know the motivations of all the characters, major and minor, the story is done, and just needs polish. This may take several drafts

Are your characters in the book based on anyone you know?

Yes and No – there are certainly traits that are from people I know, but for the most part they are just my imaginary friends.

Have you ever had difficulty “killing off” a character because she or he was so intriguing and full of possibility for you?

Ironically, I’m looking at two villains in my second novel, both of whom I’d like to redeem but one of which, and maybe both will have to die. They have chosen their path, they refuse to change, and there’s only one way out for them—at least that I’ve been able to see so far.

If your book was made into a TV series or movie, which actors would you choose to play your main characters?

If I could do a movie today, I’d have Kathy Bates play Maven, Judi Dench would play Fiona the Fairy Godmother Superior, and Queen Latifa would play Belle. Harrison Ford might be a good choice for Jones.

Who gets to read your drafts before they’re published?

Anyone among my friends who will listen!!! Actually, I’m a member of the South Carolina Writers’ Workshop and critters.org, and I get very good critique from them.

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve Googled?

Today?  “the cult of the Grandmother” and “the two million year old woman”  Last month I did a fair amount of research about women named Charlotte to celebrate my birthday month. I’m particularly fond of my blog post about Princess Charlotte of Monaco…trailer trash got nothing on the crowned heads of Europe.   http://charlottehenleybabb.com/princess-charlottefairy-tale/

What projects are you working on now?

Current WIP is That Darn Maven, in which Maven is punished for her antics in the first book by being transformed into a cat, who must grant three wishes to get her human form back, but none of the characters she meets are making any wishes.

 I’ve completed a couple of short stories to be released on Kindle when I get time to format and upload them. I’ve been working on the print version of Through the Veil, volume one of Maven Fairy Godmother, since my ebook publisher allowed the print rights to revert to me.

Is there anything else you would like to say to your readers?

I appreciate the kind words from readers on Amazon and Goodreads. It’s extremely gratifying  to know that some people get what I am doing and think it’s funny.  I’d love to know what stories they’d like to see fractured and whose point of view they would find interesting. I have a short story based on Sleeping Beauty that involves Maven and the Palace of the princess, rather than the princess herself.

Where can readers find you and your books online?

§  @charlottebabb  on twitter

§  http://www.linkedin.com/in/charlottebabb/

Short fiction can be found here:

Bubba and the Beast http://amzn.to/17lL7vq

Can a wish be granted across the veil? Trolls need love too, but can Maven find Grizelda’s true love without her wand and wings?

 MavenStiltskin         http://amzn.to/14Q9fa7

Maven takes a hike across the gender fence to see if the grass is greener, or the straw more golden, but there are some cats who just want to tangle his/her threads.

 Fairy Frogmother    http://amzn.to/10Jlv87

Maven’s favorite spell backfires and turns her into a frog. How can she grant the wishes of the prince, his rogue fairy godmother mom, and frog princess Medori, if she can’t even hold her wand?

Broke, busted and despairing over the mess her life has turned out to be, middle-aged Maven Morrigan is offered a job as a fairy godmother, a one-time-only last chance to make something of herself and to make the world a better place.

Not knowing whom to trust: her boss, her slithery familiar or her own Bump of Direction, she has to find her personal power by relying on herself, her real-world failures, and her sense of the absurd, to survive in this imaginary garden with real trolls in it, so her clients get their happily ever after.

(a scene from Maven Fairy Godmother: Through the veil)

A scratching noise caught Maven’s attention when it began to rattle the door. The latch moved, but not quite far enough to allow the door to open. Maven set her teacup down and pushed herself up out of her chair. She was stiff from sitting still for so long.

All right, all right, don’t have a hissy fit,” she muttered. “Are you going to let me open the door?” she said to the house.

The latch flew up, the door crashed back against the wall, and a wolf leapt into the room. Covered with twigs and leaves, as though he had penetrated the underbrush with his long nose, he panted heavily, his sides heaving. His paws left mud and smears of blood on the floor.

“Oh, NO!” he gasped. “A Grandmother!” He looked back out the door, where someone was coming after him. They could hear the shouts and stamping of someone coming through the woods.

“Calm down,” Maven said. “I’m not going to eat you. What’s wrong?”

The wolf turned to go back out.

“No, wait. Climb into bed.” Maven looked at the nightgown and the bonnet on the peg. Fairy tale people were pretty easily fooled, but surely not that easily. She threw the nightgown over his head and tied the bonnet over his ears. “Don’t wag your tail.” She threw the cloak over him too. Not too bad if they didn’t actually see him. “Roll over.”

“I’m not a dog.” The wolf growled.

“You’ll be dog food if they catch you. Shut up. Look sick.” Maven turned to face the fireplace. “All right, Hut. Make it dark and musty in here, and make a kettle of whatever kind of bad smelling stuff they use for medicine around here. I don’t want anyone chopped up on my watch.”

“I prefer to be called Cottage.” The walls sounded peevish.

“All right, Cottage, you can be the freaking Taj Mahal as long as you do what needs to be done. Fiona would not have gone to this much trouble just to aggravate me.”

“Don’t count on that.” A brownish smell began to bubble from the kettle, an herb that seemed vaguely familiar, but Maven couldn’t place it.

Before she could ask the cottage, the door, having latched itself again, shook with the blows of pounding fists.

Maven leaned heavily on her cane and made her voice croak like a frog. “Who’s there? I’m just an old crone here, go away.”

The door rattled with the heavy blows, shaking the latch loose again. Three hulking woodcutters came in, axe handles in hand.

“Where are you, Wolf?” He saw Maven leaning on her cane. “There he is now.” He grabbed her by her shawl, which came off, exposing her iron gray hair and her face.

“My, what small ears you have.” he exclaimed, pulling on one of them.

“Must be why you are shouting,” Maven said. She pushed against him to no avail. She stomped on the instep of his hobnailed boot, but it only hurt her foot.

“And what small eyes you have.” he said, turning her face between his thumb and forefinger.

“Big enough to see your face and remember it,” Maven said, her look being dark enough to kill if he had been bright enough to see it.

“And your nose isn’t long at all.” He began to look truly perplexed.

“It’s long enough to smell herbs cooking in a sick house.” Maven shook herself loose. “Now if you don’t want to be in the bed at your house, you’d better get on out of here.” Then kicking her self mentally for having a big mouth, she saw that they hadn’t seen the wolf in the bed at all.

“Can’t have a wolf running around, eating helpless grandmothers.” He stepped to the bed, his axe ready to fall and his cronies right behind him. “It’s for your own protection.”

“No!” Maven stretched herself up to her full height, drew in a deep breath, and pointed her cane at the woodcutters. Tulip had said she could turn anyone into a frog for self-protection, so she could do it to protect someone else.

She gathered her anger and forced it through the cane so that green sparkles flew out the end.

By the time the sparkles settled, three bewildered frogs sat on the floor beside their axes, one of which fell, narrowly missing the bed. The bed had seen it coming though, and dodged.

Maven shooed the frogs out, keeping their axes for future reference. She stacked them into a corner where they became a mop, a broom, and a pitchfork.

Thanks” she said to the Cottage.

Certainly,” it replied, less coldly than before.

“All right, you, get up.” Maven shook the wolf’s shoulder, only to feel it quivering. “You’re safe now, from the frogs.” She untied the bonnet and helped the wolf out of the nightgown. “How did they get on your trail? You must have done something to get their attention.”

“Humans. It’s always the wolf at the door; never mind what they do to us.” The wolf growled, slinking away from her towards the door. Yet he was afraid to go out.

Maven thought he looked pitiful, wavering. She dipped water out of the bucket into a bowl and set it on the floor. “Here, at least drink something and rest.”

“You aren’t afraid that I will eat you?” The wolf said. His legs shook, on the verge of collapse.

“You weren’t planning to, were you?” Maven said.

He slunk over to the bowl and lapped noisily until the bowl was dry.

Maven sat back in the rocker. She swirled the tea leaves again to listen to the wolf’s story. It was a different perspective, film noir, and at a 24-inch eye level, but it was clear he was a sheep in a wolf’s body.

“You are obviously a witch. Are you going to turn me into a frog too?” the wolf asked finally. “I’d probably be better at being a frog.” He laid his chin on his paws. “At least people wouldn’t be afraid of me.”

“Actually, I’m a fairy godmother. On vacation.”

What would a wolf wish for?

“That explains the brambles around the cottage.” He began to chew at the brambles in his paws. “I thought I would never get through. I don’t remember this cottage being here before.”

“That’s magic for you.” Maven shrugged. “Now, you rest here tonight. I’d be glad of the company.” She spoke to the kettle, and the medicine smell disappeared. She made more tea, and when a plate of meat appeared on the table, she laid it on the floor by the wolf. After he had eaten, he curled up by the hearth and went to sleep.

Maven moved closer to the fire as well, her legs cold and shakier than the persona warranted. She was so tired.

She picked up the bit of gossamer that had been her shawl before the woodcutter grabbed it and stretched it around her bare arms. No wonder she was cold. Her hemline had crept up at least a foot and her sleeves had disappeared. She tugged the rags down, making them slightly less ragged, and much warmer.

What had happened to her gossamers?

She had used her energy, her anger, to transform the frogs. Now she could see why she had to be careful. It hadn’t seemed like all that much energy, but the adrenaline pumping through her was hers, not the energy available in the cottage. She turned the rocker towards the fire.

She was very tired now, and finally feeling warm again, she drifted off into a nap.

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Charlotte Henley Babb, presently living in Spartanburg, SC, is originally from the Charlotte, NC, area. When she told her mother she wanted to be a teacher, her mom said, “You’d better find a job.” She thought her mother just meant that she had to pay her college tuition!

She is the first college graduate in the history of her family, and the second high school grad, after her mother. While she has done many other things, as her mom suggested, teaching has always supported her true vocation: writing.

Babb earned a Bachelor of Science in English/Education from Appalachian State University in Boone, NC, a Masters of Secondary Education from Winthrop University in Rock Hill, SC, and  a Master of Arts in Humanities from Pacifica Graduate Institute. Her studies have focused on writing, special needs learners, personal growth, and computer applications.

Charlotte’s new MA in the Humanities—Myth and Education, gave her a California perspective on her Southern heritage. She studies mythology to deepen her work with themes from ancient sources. Sharing perspectives with people from across the country lets her delve into the cultural notions that are as invisible as water is to fish, fertilizer for the soul!

For the first eighteen years of her work life, she taught remedial English at three rural high schools, mostly to students in technical programs or in the bottom quartile. She taught at Spartanburg Community College and Spartanburg Methodist College, as well as University of Phoenix since 2002. She is currently the web designer and social networks manager for Sherman College of Chiropractic. As her mom, suggested, she did finally get a ‘real’ job. She was the webmaster and newsletter editor for the Southeastern Writers Association from 2005 to 2011.  To supplement her income, she has worked various jobs:

§  computer support technician

§  cloth store associate

§  waitress

§  office temp

§  art, craft, and frame store

§  washing machine gasket inspector

§  newspaper ads designer

§  craft fair creative

§  technical writer of ISO 9000 procedures

§  telephone tech support

§  telephone tarot reader

Each job has given her more insight to the challenges involved being human and living in the human condition. She is a mistress of juggling time and energy. She still reads the Tarot, but not for money. She has one daughter, a freelance illustrator of fantasy and science fiction.

Fantastic interview! Thanks for stopping by today, Charlotte.

REFLECTION: Book Review – Books4tomorrow

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REVIEW: “REFLECTION” – by Kim Cresswell

Title: “Reflection”
Author: Kim Cresswell
Publisher: MuseItUp Publishing
Publication Date: January 25, 2013
Genres: Suspense, Thriller, Romance
Reviewed by: Ellen Fritz
Source: Received from author for review
Ellen’s star rating: 5/5

SUMMARY

Florida investigative reporter, Whitney Steel, has lived in the shadow of her legendary father long enough. To prove herself she needs to find the “Big” story.

She found it.

Now it may kill her.

After Whitney receives a lead pointing to the world’s first cloned human, now a small child, she vows to unravel the truth. However, sifting through the facts proves to have dangerous results, including death threats and murder.

When Whitney is nearly killed, but is saved by undercover FBI Special Agent, Blake Neely, he refuses to let her get in the way of his own objective—at least not right away.

Caught in a lethal game between a billionaire obsessed with genetic perfection, his hit man’s thirst for retribution, and a Colombian drug lord fresh out of prison determined to make Blake pay for his twin brother’s death over a decade ago…

Can they save an innocent child before it’s too late?

Faced with tough choices, with deadly consequences for many—Whitney soon realizes that sometimes a story becomes more than just a story.

REVIEW

A truly edge-of-your-seat, never-a-dull-moment read, Reflection has a dramatic start and just never slows down. When her ex-husband is killed while trying to tell her something important, investigative reporter, Whitney Steel, realizes that she may be on to the story of a lifetime. Too bad then that Nathan Shaw, Blake Neely and an enemy from her past want to prevent her obtaining the information for her story; and at the heart of all this, an innocent child.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book as it moves forward all the time with no lengthy descriptions or angsty inner dialogue. The romance in the story is tastefully written and skillfully distributed throughout the book so as to enhance rather than interfere with the main storyline.

The characters are fleshed out and vividly described thus giving the reader captivating mental images that truly makes the story come alive. I love a strong female protagonist who can hold her own, kick butt and doesn’t indulge in self pity. Whitney Steel is exactly that. Blake Neely, the male protagonist, is extremely realistic with his inner battles about keeping Whitney safe, the death of his sister and, ultimately, his own mission. Let’s not forget the bad guys in this story. Ruthless, mean and self-serving are just some of the adjectives that come to mind. Add to that vengeful and the author has some truly nasty but highly realistic antagonists to give our heroes a run for their money.

I highly recommend this five-star page-turner to those who love a suspense laden novel with constant action and well balanced romance. The extra complication at the end gives this book a unique quality, and, oops, let me stop before I give too much away! As the book has a slightly open end, let’s hope that we’ll soon see another book by the highly gifted Kim Cresswell.

Reviewed by Books4Tomorrow

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Where to Buy
MuseItUp Publishing | Amazon | AmazonUK | Bookstrand | Smashwords | CoffeeTime Romance | Omnilit | ARe | ibookstore | Kobo | Barnes & Noble

Now available in paperback at Amazon & Createaspace

COVER REVEAL – TEASER TUESDAY: The Avery Shaw Experiment by Kelly Oram & Giveaway.

Title: The Avery Shaw Experiment

Author: Kelly Oram

Publisher: Bluefields

Format: ebook

Genre: YA contemporary romance

Release Date: May 2013

Summary:

When Avery Shaw’s heart is shattered by her life-long best friend, she chooses to deal with it the only way she knows how—scientifically.

The state science fair is coming up and Avery decides to use her broken heart as the topic of her experiment. She’s going to find the cure. By forcing herself to experience the seven stages of grief through a series of social tests, she believes she will be able to get over Aiden Kennedy and make herself ready to love again. But she can’t do this experiment alone, and her partner (ex partner!) is the one who broke her heart.

Avery finds the solution to her troubles in the form of Aiden’s older brother Grayson. The gorgeous womanizer is about to be kicked off the school basketball team for failing physics. He’s in need of a good tutor and some serious extra credit. But when Avery recruits the lovable Grayson to be her “objective outside observer,” she gets a whole lot more than she bargained for, because Grayson has a theory of his own: Avery doesn’t need to grieve. She needs to live. And if there’s one thing Grayson Kennedy is good at, it’s living life to the fullest.

Teaser One – Avery


Grayson finally noticed Aiden and I on the couch. “What are you two dorks doing?”

“Learning about steroids,” I said cheerfully. “You should probably know that using them can cause acne, testicular atrophy, decreased sperm count, prostate enlargement and gynecomastia.”

Grayson looked rightfully appalled. “Gyneco-what-ia?”

“Enlarged breasts in men,” Aiden translated. “So you should lay off the juice before you have to start borrowing Avery’s bras.”

I gasped at the mention of my underwear and whacked Aiden’s shoulder hard.

Behind me, Grayson laughed. I knew he was about to deliver a comeback, but I refused to look at him. Seconds later his breath was warm on my neck. He whispered just low enough that his mother couldn’t hear what he said. “I like my bras colorful and lacey, Aves. Not sure your collection would do it for me.”

Total mortification. Grayson may be as close as family to me, but he was still one of the hottest, most popular guys in our whole school. Him discussing my bras in that low sexy voice that could stop a girl’s heart on the spot made my lungs constrict. Plus, he was right of course. My bras were all of the plain white cotton variety.

Teaser Two – Grayson


I started to leave the room but she stopped me at the door. “Grayson?” Her tone tugged at something inside me. “You really want to take me with you tonight?”

She sounded so small and unsure of herself. It was how she always sounded at school and around strangers, but never when she was at home with us. I think my brother had really broken her. I was seriously going to have to beat him sometime.

“You don’t have to if you don’t want to. I know I really freaked out on you earlier, but I promise I’ll be fine. Aiden’s right.” She swallowed back a lump in her throat. “I’ll manage without him somehow.”

“Aiden’s a tool. You can learn how to manage tomorrow. Tonight’s New Years Eve and for once in your life you’re going to spend it without Aiden or The Discovery Channel.

I knew I was making progress when she cracked a smile and asked, “What about Whootylicious in 7 B?”

I thought of the luscious booty I’d originally planned on seeing tonight and sighed. “That will be an unfortunate loss, but, like you, I will just have to deal.”

I winked and then decided I’d give her ten minutes before I came back and physically dragged her out of bed.

Other books by Kelly Oram
About Kelly Oram…

Kelly Oram wrote her first novel at age fifteen–a fan fiction about her favorite music group, The Backstreet Boys, for which family and friends still tease her. She’s obsessed with reading, talks way too much, and loves to eat frosting by the spoonful. She lives outside of Phoenix, Arizona with her husband and four children.

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