Native Tongues

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By Daryl Anderson, author of DEATH AT CHINA ROSE

Daryl AndersonSeveral years ago my husband and I were driving in my hometown of Baltimore, searching for a cross street.

“You just passed our turn!” I said, a little too gleefully. Like most husbands, mine fancied himself an expert navigator, so naturally I enjoyed pointing out the occasional wrong turn.

“No,” he said calmly, “that was Belair Road.” My husband pronounced the street name as most people would—Bel-air, with two syllables. “You said we’re looking for Blare Road.”

My glee vanished. “No, that was the road.”

“But—”

“Just turn around,” I said, sinking into my seat.

You see, we native Baltimoreans tended to shorten words whenever possible. I’d simply pronounced the name of Belair Road as I had all my life—Blare.

Well, if accents are troublesome in real life, they’re even more problematic in fiction.

In my latest novel Death at China Rose, PI Addie Gorsky connects with her friend and fellow Baltimorean Thelma Sky. As readers of Murder in Mystic Cove know, Thelma is an authentic Baltimore hon, with a beehive hairdo that the Florida humidity can’t touch and a Bawlmer accent thicker than a cheesecake from Hoehn’s Bakery in Highlandtown.

I love the sound of my native tongue, but if I replicated Thelma’s open-voweled intonations phonetically, the result would have been downright confusing, if not unintelligible. Just check out the short list of Baltimorease—all of which might have come out of Thelma’s mouth—and you’ll see what I mean.

Jeet?—a polite inquiry, as in Jeet enuf?

Zink—where you warsh the dinner dishes

Aspern—what you take for a headache, usually after drinking too much Natty Boh

Baffroom—where you find the tawlit and the baffroom zink

Kilt—a murderous act, as in He got kilt!

Po-leese—a police officer

Pleese—plural for above

Tarred—extreme fatigue, as in I’m really tarred.

Woorder—what you drink when you’re thirsty

Aigs—what you eat for breffist, often with a glass of arn juice from the Sunshine State.

Merlin—the state where you find Bawlmer.

It can be a tricky business, but the myriad beauty of regional speech is worth communicating—whether it’s the syrupy drawl of the South, the lilt of the West Indies, or the nasal tones of working-class Baltimore. But rather than strive for perfect mimicry, a smart writer suggests the different speech patterns, sprinkling non-standard English into the dialogue with care.

Now that you know a little bit about my native tongue, I’d like to know about yours. Are there any phrases or pronunciations that are peculiar to your city or state?

After all, dialect is one of the more delightful differences that people share—don’t you think?

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In this swamp of double-dealing, almost everyone has an agenda.

When Harry Pitts—owner of the rundown China Rose Fish Camp–is beaten to death in his home, the bloody scene suggests a frenzied, random act of violence. But PI Addie Gorsky believes the crime is connected to another case—the disappearance of Harry’s daughter, eleven years ago.

All murders begin in the past, but Addie soon realizes that this case is rooted in old Florida, back in the time of wily pirates and proud conquistadors, and the trove of treasure that legend claims is buried in this backwater.

Addie dives headfirst into the wild heart of China Rose, surrounded by grinning gators, killer bees and gaping cottonmouths. But these predators pale in comparison to the cunning two-legged killer Addie is hunting…and who soon begins hunting her.

Carina PressAmazon | Barnes & Noble | GooglePlay | iBooks |Kobo

Daryl Anderson is a USA Today bestselling mystery author of the Sunshine State Murders, a series of mysteries set in north Florida and featuring resourceful PI Addie Gorsky. Daryl lives in Gainesville, Florida with her husband and three dogs. When not plotting homicide, she enjoys gardening, vegetarian cooking, and cycling. Connect with Daryl at her website, Facebook, Blog, and Goodreads.

Victory Doesn’t Come Easy

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By Angela Highland, author of VICTORY OF THE HAWK

There’s a lot of what gets called grimdark in the fantasy genre these days—gloomy, dystopian-type stories. If you’ve read my work, you probably know by now that I don’t write that. Real life has enough dark and depressing aspects about it that I want to avoid excessive grimness in my fiction, both in what I read and what I write.

And indeed, the very title of the third book of my Rebels of Adalonia trilogy, Victory of the Hawk, carries in it an implicit optimism. Victory, after all, is right there in the title. The reader can rightfully expect that the Hawk of the title—in this case, my character Kestar Vaarsen—will be achieving some kind of victory. But since this is in fact a fantasy trilogy, you can also expect that he’s going to have to work very, very hard to win it.

By book three of this story, Kestar will already have had his position in Adalonian society upended. He’s exiled from his rightful estate, disgraced in the eyes of his holy order, and on the run from his own Church. But I’m not done with overturning his world. In Victory, Kes will find the very tenets of his religious beliefs challenged, as well as the nature of his own existence. How he and the rest of the main characters ultimately win the day and what it will cost them… well. I’ll leave that to you, readers, to discover if you choose to read my book.

If you are new to the Rebels of Adalonia series, do go back and pick up book 1, Valor of the Healer, and book 2, Vengeance of the Hunter, so that you can get caught up on the story arc for Faanshi, Julian and Kestar. My healer has proven her valor. My hunter has sought his vengeance. Now in book 3, my Hawk will gain his victory, and in so doing, shake the realm of Adalonia to its very core.

What hard-won victories in fiction have been most meaningful to you as a reader? I’ll need to go with Tolkien, both The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, as well as the first four Elfquest graphic novels. Tell me about your favorites in the comments and I will choose a randomly selected winner to receive the entire Rebels of Adalonia trilogy!

9781426899690-COVAs war rages across Adalonia, their only hope is a sword named Moonshadow, the weapon that first saved the elves from the Anreulag.

Julian

Julian yearns to confess his love to Faanshi, the elven healer who captivated him since their first chance encounter. Though he fears she and Kestar share a deep connection, he must thrust such worry aside as danger descends upon them and their uneasy elven allies…

Faanshi

Faanshi’s connection to Kestar is inexplicable, born of her magic and their shared elven blood. She knows his every thought and desire, but her heart lies with Julian. She’ll have to find a way to tell him soon, even in the midst of rebellion…

Kestar

Though he knows not why—only that it involves his own recently discovered elven heritage—Kestar has risked the lives of everyone around him. For the Anreulag, the Voice of the Gods, has been freed of Her magical prison and will kill all in Her path until he is found.

Book three of Rebels of Adalonia

95,000 words

Carina Press | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | GooglePlay | iBooks |Kobo

If you’d like to know more about Angela’s work, come say hi to her at angelahighland.com, or follow her on Facebook or Twitter!

What We Want–Greatest Hits

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This month’s What We Want post is something a little bit different–we’ve collected some of our favorite submission calls to let you know we’re still eager to acquire in these genres! So whether you write mystery, male/male, romantic suspense, paranormal, contemporary, or a little bit of everything, we want to hear from you! Here’s some insight on what our editors are looking for in these genres.

Erotic Romance: 

Bring the heat! Alissa Davis, Freelance Editor, is looking for erotic romance with strong dialogue and great sexual tension—bonus points for heroes and heroines who rock at talking dirty.

Mystery: 

Keep us guessing. Deborah Nemeth, Freelance Editor, would like to see action-packed capers and slick heists with clever twists.

Contemporary Romance: 

Step right over that line. Angela James, Editorial Director, is looking to acquire a dark contemporary romance featuring one or more of the following: capture fantasies, anti-heroes and -heroines, mercenaries on a mission, sexually charged dialogue.

Romantic Suspense: 

Thrill us! Senior Editor Kerri Buckley would like to acquire romantic suspense stories set in Eastern Europe, as well as a super sexy romantic suspense series in which an assassin or a spy falls for his/her mark.

Male/Male: 

Make it emotional. Rhonda Helms, Freelance Editor, is looking for a male/male gothic romance, dark and emotional and intense.

We hope this post inspires you! Carina Press is always open to submissions. To review our submissions guidelines, click here. To submit a manuscript to Carina Press, click here.

 

#CarinaLibs

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By Angela James, Editorial Director, Carina Press

Social media can be dangerous, fun and inspiring. While I was writing this month’s Dear Reader letter, I mentioned on Twitter that I was a bit stuck in my opening. Who can blame me after writing over forty letters? So author and reader @AudraNorth challenged me to make this one different by creating a Carina Press April Fools fill-in-the-blank letter (there’s a name for it but it’s trademarked so…fill-in-the-blank letter it is!). Challenge accepted and the game is afoot. We have seven releases this month, so you have seven chances to play—and win—starting right here! Fill in the blanks for this picture in the comments to make a silly, sexy, or serious sentence.

041215-#CarinaLibs-Death-at-ChinaRose-FB

See the schedule below for when you can play the game on Twitter and the Carina Press Facebook page this month for a chance to win free books and other great prizes! You can read the full letter in all of this month’s releases. Have fun and #CarinaLibs on!

Rules: Each giveaway closes at 11:59 p.m. ET on the dates listed below. One winner will be randomly selected from all eligible comments and announced on the corresponding social media post on the following day. Open to residents of the US and Canada, excluding Quebec. For full official rules, click here. Good luck!

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April 15–16, 2015

DEATH AT CHINA ROSE by Daryl Anderson → Fill in the blanks in the comments or on Facebook HEREGAME COMPLETE! 

April 18, 2015

VICTORY OF THE HAWK by Angela Highland → Fill in the blank by responding to this tweetGAME COMPLETE!

April 20, 2015

SECOND POSITION by Katherine Locke → Fill in the blanks by responding to this tweetGAME COMPLETE!

April 22–23, 2015

AN INCONVENIENT MISTRESS by Caroline Kimberly → Fill in the blanks on Facebook HEREGAME COMPLETE!

April 27–28, 2015

A DANGEROUS LEAP by Sharon Calvin → Fill in the blanks on Facebook HERE!

April 29–30

NOBODY’S HERO by j. leigh bailey → Fill in the blanks on Facebook HERE!

May 1

QUICK PIVOT by Brenda Buchanan → Fill in the blanks on Twitter HERE!

Author Spotlight: Daryl Anderson

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If you’re an animal lover and a mystery fan, this is the spotlight for you! Daryl Anderson shares how she uses animals in her storytelling below, and don’t forget to check out Death at China Rose.

Mysteries and Furry Friends by Daryl Anderson

Sometimes I think mysteries have gone to the dogs…and cats and turtles and any other animal that comes to mind. As an animal lover, I like the trend, but that’s not why my own mysteries are littered with animals—used properly, our four-legged friends can add a lot of dramatic juice to the narrative.

In Murder in Mystic Cove I used the construct of the animal witness when the victim’s beloved dog Jinks was sole witness to his master’s brutal murder. This significantly upped the suspense factor. By definition, an animal witness is a silent witness, and so it’s up to the sleuth—and clever reader—to decipher whatever clues the animal brings to the mystery.

My latest novel Death at China Rose takes place at a shabby north Florida resort that’s home to killer bees, rattlesnakes, and a seven-foot gator named Big Ben. Unlike Jinks, most of the creatures aren’t characters per se, but part of the foreboding setting—though Big Ben somehow managed to take a big bite out of the plot.

So I won’t squawk if a mystery’s crammed with our furry and scaly friends, just as long as they serve the story.

About Death at China Rose:

9781426899874-COVIn this swamp of double-dealing, almost everyone has an agenda.

When Harry Pitts-owner of the rundown China Rose Fish Camp-is beaten to death in his home, the bloody scene suggests a frenzied, random act of violence. But PI Addie Gorsky believes the crime is connected to another case-the disappearance of Harry’s daughter eleven years ago.

All murders begin in the past, but Addie soon realizes that this case is rooted in old Florida, back in the time of wily pirates and proud conquistadors, and the trove of treasure that legend claims is buried in this backwater.

Addie dives headfirst into the wild heart of China Rose, surrounded by grinning gators, killer bees and gaping cottonmouths. But these predators pale in comparison to the cunning two-legged killer Addie is hunting and who soon begins hunting her.

Don’t miss Murder at Mystic Cove, available now!

 By now from CarinaPress.com or from online retailers including:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Google Play | iBooks

Follow Daryl Anderson on her website!

Series Spotlight: Rebels of Adalonia

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Have you been reading Angela Highland’s Rebels of Adalonia series? If not, now is the perfect time to start! We have 5 reasons readers are sure you’ll love this series below and well as more information on the 3rd book, Victory of the Hawk!

5 Reasons to read the Rebels of Adalonia series

When I finished this book I wanted to read the next one right away!” –Amazon review, Valor of the Healer

Very good read, kept my attention from the first scene.” –Amazon review, Valor of the Healer

The fast plot keeps readers on their toes with suspense, drama, action, magic and romance.” –Barnes and Noble review, Vengeance of the Hunter

This book was full of wonderful world building. The plot moved forward at just the right pace.“– Goodread review, Vengeance of the Hunter

If you want a tale filled with action and adventure and enjoy a fair sprinkling of magic then this trilogy could well be right for you.“–Goodreads review, Vengeance of the Hunter

New, from the Rebels of Adalonia!

23595412Victory of the Hawk

As war rages across Adalonia, their only hope is a sword named Moonshadow, the weapon that first saved the elves from the Anreulag.

Julian

Julian yearns to confess his love to Faanshi, the elven healer who captivated him since their first chance encounter. Though he fears she and Kestar share a deep connection, he must thrust such worry aside as danger descends upon them and their uneasy elven allies…

Faanshi

Faanshi’s connection to Kestar is inexplicable, born of her magic and their shared elven blood. She knows his every thought and desire, but her heart lies with Julian. She’ll have to find a way to tell him soon, even in the midst of rebellion…

Kestar

Though he knows not why—only that it involves his own recently discovered elven heritage—Kestar has risked the lives of everyone around him. For the Anreulag, the Voice of the Gods, has been freed of Her magical prison and will kill all in Her path until he is found.

Get your copy at CarinaPress.com or at these online retailers:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Google Play | iBooks

Check out the rest of the series:

About Valor of the Healer:

{8A7D24DB-D680-4CF6-971D-923BFE0A7978}Img100The Rook

An assassin hired by vengeful elven rebels to kill the calculating Duke of Shalridan, Julian walks into a trap and barely escapes with his life. Healed by a beautiful captive in the dungeons, he’s enthralled and vows to free her from the duke’s clutches.

The Hawk

A Knight of the Hawk duty-bound to cleanse elven magic from Adalonia, Kestar has a secret–and heretical–ability to sense the use of magic from afar. He knows something suspicious is happening in the duke’s keep, but he has no idea how deep the conspiracy goes.

The Dove

A half-elven healer with no control over her magic, Faanshi is the goddess’s to command. She’s always been a pawn of the powerful, but after healing two mysterious and very different men, she faces a choice that may decide the fate of the whole kingdom…

About Vengeance of the Hunter:

{6D0DA440-CD03-4435-97CA-F8113A584EFD}Img100The Knight

After nearly being destroyed by a conspiracy within his Order, Kestar faces a crisis. The Knights of the Hawk have always stood against elven magic, but how can he proceed after discovering his own elven heritage? How will his Order react when they discover the truth?

The Healer

Free of the shackles of the Duke of Shalridan, Faanshi sets out to pursue her destiny with the elves–and finds herself at the head of an open rebellion. But her goddess isn’t done with her yet, and controlling her magic turns into the fight of her life. One she cannot win without both Kestar and Julian by her side.

The Hunter

Rattled to his core after Faanshi healed his eye and hand, and haunted by guilt and a growing love for the elven healer, Julian flees. As he seeks retribution against shadows of his past, convinced of his own unworthiness, he’ll need all of Faanshi’s faith to turn him from the path of vengeance to help save Kestar, and the whole of Adalonia.

Turning Pointe Chapter 4

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Chapter Four

Aly

I stretch in my flats, bouncing on the balls of my feet in the hallway. Every inch of my body screams from the tension and stiffness acquired during the long flight. My stomach growls, the only noise in the hallway, until I turn and knock on Zed’s door again. The hotel hallway doesn’t smell pleasant and my room smells like smoke, despite it theoretically being a non-smoking room. If he’s not ready, I’m not spending another moment here. I’ll walk to the studio by myself, if I have to.

Adrian pulls open the door and gives me an easy smile. “He’s doing his hair for you.”

“Oh, God,” I mutter and then yell over Adrian’s shoulder, “Zedekiah! I don’t care what your hair looks like!”

“Now I know you’re lying,” Adrian stage-whispers and I grin despite my anxiety about getting to the studio on time.

“What? Oh, for fuck’s sake, McKinley,” Zed yells back from somewhere inside the room. “Aly, give me a hot second.”

“What about a cold second?” I say, but I’m not sure if he hears me until he appears, breathless next to Adrian in the doorway, and shakes his head.

“God, that was almost a joke. Look at you trying to keep up with me, the master of puns,” he teases, then leans forward, pressing a kiss to my forehead. Adrian smirks at my blush, and I shoot him a warning look. Zed, oblivious, bends down to tie his shoes, his ballet bag slung over his shoulder. “Adrian, you’re sure you’re not coming?”

“It’s not even an official class. You two are just nuts,” he points out, like he’s not surprised that we’re dashing off to steal a few minutes of dance from the day before the company dinner. “I’m taking a nap.”

“Your body adjusts to travel better when you don’t take naps upon arrival in a new time zone,” I remind him. “It’s like staying hydrated on a plane.”

Zed laughs and takes my hand, lacing our fingers together. “He knows, Kitten. Come on. We only have an hour and you’re going to take forever to warm up.”

Sometimes I wait for the alarm registering in my body, something that’ll tell me that Zed knows me too well. I keep searching for the bells that will bring up the gates. But around Zed, I throw caution to the wind. I’ve danced Giselle more than once. I should know the fate of girls who fall for the charming prince. I’ve waited seven years to feel distrust and it’s never happened.

Outside, the setting sun lights up the crystals of snow clinging to the tree limbs overlooking canals. Our shoes soak straight through, and I wish I’d thought to bring something more waterproof. It’ll be hell to warm up tired, aching feet that are also soaked in freezing water. Dozens of people had turned the frozen canals into long, narrow ice rinks. For a brief moment, I want to join the skaters in their colorful, wild, improvised dance on ice.

Then I remember that this is my first tour for the company and I’m supposed to be the American prodigy. Prodigies don’t get injured doing something stupid. Prodigies put their careers ahead of everything else, including recreation, school, and romance.

Bikes swerve through traffic, traveling faster than they do at home in Philadelphia, and the mopeds make me jump more than twice. Zed stops on our walk to take a dozen photos of different old buildings and to read off the Lonely Planet app on his phone. In the edge of the last warm light along our walk, he stops to pull me against his side and take a photo.

“Aly,” he says, studying the screen. “You could stand to look a little happy.”

“I look happy!” I protest. But I don’t look happy. I look tired and really cold. I roll my eyes. “Fine, take another.”

He takes two more, goofing off in the second one, just to make me laugh. He stares at the second for a moment and then passes me the phone. His oversized aviator sunglasses and his scarf frame his strong jaw, his dark hair a shock over his light skin, and he’s pressing a kiss to my temple. My hair’s so light it gets lost in the sunlight, but it’s my expression I can’t stop staring at. My face is scrunched up as I’m laughing, but my smile is genuine, broad.

I touch his side with two light fingers. “Send that to me when we get home?”

“Yeah,” he says, his voice a little hoarse. He sounds like he does after a big performance. “Of course. I think the studio’s this way.”

The Dutch National Ballet is one of the best in the world, and they’re gorgeous to watch. They’ve loaned us rehearsal space for our week as guest artists, but it’s hard not to just stand at the windows and doorways of their classes and watch them. In return, their students crowd the doorway when Zed and I begin to stretch next to the mirrors.

Zed looks over my head and hides a smile behind his arm. “They’re all here to see the famous Alyona Miller.”

I curtsy dramatically. “I am rather famous, you know.”

“You got like six hundred likes on your plane selfie. I don’t even know how that’s possible,” he says, studying his reflection in the mirror as he arches his feet and lays his torso flat on the floor. “And your humility. It blows me away.”

“Oh, shut up and stretch,” I tell him, nudging him with my foot. I just catch his smile as he ducks his head so I relax and smile too. I like when we’re like a ballet, full of twists and turns but always reaching for each other.

We don’t have much time, so we breeze through our barre work. I lift my chin and check my lines in the mirror, meeting his eyes. He looks calm and confident, his white shirt stretched across his strong chest, his ripped abdomen pressing against the material with every breath, his feet turned out slightly even at ease.

“Remember when we got our first pas de deux?” Zed’s hand returns to the barre and he counts off exercises silently, his lips moving just enough for me to follow his lead. All these years, I’ve been following, and he’s never noticed.

“Ugh. Yes. And you were mad about it! You were dating Dana.” I snap a little bit, on purpose, just to see him smile. We turn, Zed following me now. I step into an arabesque and he grabs my foot, lifting it a little higher. My hips ache. “She was absurd. So clingy. Where’s she dancing now?”

“Jealousy’s unbecoming,” he says, not taking my bait, and then lets go of my foot. “And you know there’s no competition. I wasn’t mad. I just didn’t know who I was more afraid of—you or Dana.”

I stick out my tongue. “Always me.”

His hand catches mine, and out of pure instinct, I let him quickly turn me twice away from the barre. “I’m not scared of you, Alyona.”

I think he should be, but selfishly, I’m glad. I shake my head at him, stepping a safe distance away to my starting place. I’m glad we’re dancing together again, but I’m more than a little bit terrified. I want to know what dancing with Zed feels like in front of an audience, a real one, not just at school. I want witnesses to what Zed makes me feel when we dance together.

Zed dances the pas de deux like a dozen love letters tossed into the air. Like watching The Notebook in bed with a pint of ice cream. It’s dancing in the rain and splashing through a fountain in the middle of the night. It’s someone who stops, looks up at the sky and takes your hand to trace the constellations with your finger. He turns this pas de deux from something tense and erotic into something more like a challenge that can’t end any way but with a kiss.

“Aly,” he says, and I realize I’ve been standing in the center just staring at myself for who knows how long. “You alright?”

I clear my throat. “Yes. Sorry. Count off from the top?”

He doesn’t even blink. He nods and returns to his position. He’s waiting for me. If only life was as well choreographed as this dance, I think, and take my first step toward him.

Sometimes, we dance this pas de deux as an inquiry. Today, we dance it like a dare. His offered hand is almost sly, like he knows I’ll have to say yes, and my returned hand is defiantly reluctant. I slow my breathing. We have no music, but Zed counts off softly, and on the fourth count, I look over my shoulder. This moment, when our eyes make contact across the stage…it stings my palms and kick-starts my heart.

When we meet in the middle of the studio, in a series of moments where neither our hands nor our eyes ever part from each other, I can’t handle the intensity in his expression, the way he pushes a little into my wrists. As my partner, he’s only supposed to support me, keep me from falling off balance, allow me to do movements I otherwise couldn’t do. Today, his touch feels like a gauntlet thrown into the precious space between us.

Our fingers fight wars with each other, and the electricity between our eyes could light cities. He throws his weight into his front leg, his arms taut, as he braces against me, arching away, and then swiveling back on the ball of his foot. The pas de deux contains no acrobatics, huge jumps, or fast turns, but it’s one of the hardest to dance with its hyperextended legs, its huge movements and staying on pointe for long periods of time. Without pointe shoes tonight, we stay in demi-pointe.

Halfway there, in every way. This is almost enough.

And not at enough at all. Here, dancing with him, all the carefully drawn lines in our relationship are erased. Here, I let go, so when I look at him, neither of us can look away. When Zed lifts his chin, his lips part a little and I can’t help but stare at the tiny vertical lines from where they chap and split because he worries at them.

The next time he pulls me close, our noses brush together and our hands collide, the heel of my hand pressing against the bottom of his wrist. He catches my hand firmly, swiveling his hip, his knee brushing along the inside of my knee. I look at the inside of his wrist, at the tendons that bend away from his joints, the streaks of glistening sweat.

I think about his arms, over my head, pressing my hands down into a mattress. I suck in a breath and fall flat to my feet, stepping away from him so he’s forced to drop my hands. I don’t care what he’s saying because it’s all I can do to press my palms to my eyes, push the images from my mind, focus instead on the dance.

“What’s wrong?” Zed asks, squatting next to me.

“You’re not staying with me!” I snap, and rise to my feet, not looking at him as I pace away a few steps. I wipe my sweaty palms on my leotard, and when I look in the mirror, I tell myself the color in my cheeks is from the exercise.

“You have to stay with me. You’re getting ahead of me and it’s throwing me off.” My chest seizes up at the sound of desperation in my voice.

Zed’s brow knits together. I want to hold his head, press my mouth against the lines on his forehead and apologize. Then he tilts his head and his face relaxes, his eyes suddenly brighter. I can’t move at the sudden, quiet understanding in his expression.

“Okay,” he says, his voice so soft I know it’s meant for only me. “I get it. I’ll stay with you. From the top?”

This time, there’s no challenge. When Zed offers his hand, it’s an invitation that I accept.

A Giveaway and a Trial … Science Fiction Style!

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By Timothy S. Johnston, author of THE VOID and T.D. Wilson, author of THE EPHERIUM CHRONICLES: ECHOES

Today on the Carina Press blog we feature two Science Fiction authors: T.D. Wilson (The Epherium Chronicles: Echoes) and Timothy S. Johnston (The Void). To reveal a bit about each book, they have decided to put a central character “on trial.” Readers are encouraged to ask their own questions below, and Captain James Hood and Homicide Investigator Kyle Tanner will try their best to answer!

Want to win a copy of The Epherium Chronicles: Echoes or The Void? Comment on this post with the book you want to read and your preferred format (.EPUB, .MOBI, .PDF). Two copies of each book are up for grabs. The contest ends on Sunday, April 12th at midnight. If you win, you’ll be notified via email.

And now … on to the trial!

Character on Trial: The Void’s Homicide Investigator Kyle Tanner

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“MY NAME IS Lieutenant Kyle Tanner. I hunt killers for a living.”

As I said it the person sitting across from me snorted. Disbelief flashed across his features. His face was angular, his eyes dark pits. There were deep lines in his forehead. “But you are a killer,” he growled. “Why look any farther than the nearest mirror?”

It was a common attitude; I’d faced it all my professional life. But because I worked for a military dictatorship, and there was little freedom in this society of 2403 AD, I’d had to endure civilian scorn on a daily basis. It was numbing.

“Look,” I sighed, glancing around. The room we were in was dark, the only illumination a spotlight directly above my chair. It was blinding. Where the hell am I right now? “I know the CCF is difficult at times. But—”

“They are killers! They arrest people for expressing their beliefs. You call that—that—difficult?”

It was hard to argue the point; he was absolutely correct. “I catch murderers,” I mumbled. “Not innocent people.”

“You execute anyone you want!”

I sat up straighter. “Not true. I sift through the evidence and punish the guilty.”

My inquisitor shook his head. His look was one of pure derision. “The CCF kills people they deem dissidents. They destroy families. They torture and murder to maintain control. Every dictatorship does that.”

I studied him in silence for a long minute. His assessment was spot on, however not every CCF officer did those things. I hunted killers and gave families closure. I wielded incredible powers to question and detain and arrest without due process, but I didn’t abuse that power. Instead I used it to heal those in pain. To capture psychopaths. “There are those in the military who enforce the dictatorship, without question. But I am not one.” I looked down and considered my next words. My voice was a rasp. “I don’t agree with the society we live in…but I…I manage.”

His voice softened. “You seem conflicted.”

It was hard to admit, because in the real world such a thing could get me killed. But here, in this place answering these questions, I was isolated and alone.

And safe.

“I am.”

“But why do you work for them?” he asked.

“It’s my life. But—”

“Yes?” the inquisitor prodded.

“I won’t work for them forever.”

He frowned. “What do you mean? How long have you been a Homicide Investigator?”

“I’ve traveled the solar system catching killers for fourteen years now.”

“But you are thinking of leaving?”

I fixed my eyes on his cold, dark pupils. “My girlfriend and I are talking about it.”

For the first time, he seemed lost for words. His eyes had widened. “But then you’ll be hunted, won’t you? You’re an officer in the military. If you run, they’ll kill you.”

I hesitated. To verbalize these thoughts was the hardest thing I’d had to do. I’d lived in this society my entire life. You never questioned it, and you definitely didn’t try to escape. “I can’t handle this existence anymore. It’s a chance we’ll have to take. And to answer your question, yes, if we run, they’ll try to kill us.”

He paused and stared at me for long heartbeats. “Good luck to you then. I hope you can escape this life.”

If I survive this last mission, I wanted to say. Then I’d decide what to do.

Do you have a question for Inspector Kyle Tanner? Are you curious what it’s like to live in a repressive society with little freedom? Why he’s done it for so long? Why he chooses to interact with psychotic killers? Or, how finding the love of his life changed his outlook on society? Ask below, and Lieutenant Kyle Tanner will be happy to answer.

Thanks for spending time with Homicide Investigator Kyle Tanner today.

Character on Trial:  The Epherium Chronicles: Echoes’ Captain James Hood

CARINA_0315_9781426899201_TheEpheriumChronicles (2)“MY NAME IS James Hood, Captain, EDF Armstrong.

I regarded the man sitting across the table from me in the cramped office aboard the Armstrong. He was young, not more than twenty-five, but he had a level of seriousness that went far beyond his age. It was the same for all of the EDF’s investigators.

“Well Captain,” he began while reading the displayed information on his data pad, “you’ve had a rather full and decorated career. Your list of accolades goes on and on.” He focused his dark brown eyes on my face.  “I guess we’re going to have to add conspiring with the enemy to that list.” The EDF had a standard protocol to conduct a follow up with an investigator after a major engagement. The idea was to present a new perspective to commanders in the field, but a small percentage of them turned the process into a witch hunt.  This guy was one of them.

“Excuse me?” I challenged, but my kept my temper under control. What the investigator had insinuated was treason plain and simple. He wanted to provoke me and I wasn’t biting. “You’ve obviously read my report from the battle. What gives you the impression I would ever do anything to comprise my ship, the lives of the colonists or my crew?”

“It’s simple. Upon discovery of the Cilik’ti…Kree was its name I believe, you chose not bring in more seasoned personnel to conduct a proper interrogation. Instead, you had an inexperience junior officer take the lead with help from one of the colonists, who may have already been compromised by behavioural modification during her time in the Embrace sleeper chambers aboard the Magellan.

He leaned forward onto the table. “A proper interrogation could have gained the knowledge that an imminent attack was coming against the colony and the EDF could’ve been better prepared. In short, you let that thing play you, Captain. Now, after the dust has settled, you’ve taken the lead to develop a diplomatic exchange with the alien and his “rogue” Cilik’ti friends.  A role that clearly doesn’t fit you. Tell me where I’m wrong?”

I snarled at first, but drew it back. I could see from a high level where he might find that a believable scenario, but his conclusions were based on the lack of details. Fortunately for me, I had them. “First of all, I find your charge of conspiracy and treason ludicrous. I have the full trust of Admiral Grant and Admiral Tramp. Both have agreed with every action I have made since I took command of this ship.”

The man just stared at me. I decided to take it a step further and leaned toward him. “As for you incompetence charge with handling Kree’s interrogation, let me dissect your overall assessment. First, we’ve never had a Cilik’ti held captive for interrogation before. Any of them captured during the war just expired without warning, like turning off a switch. Based on all our intelligence and the research of my junior officer, Lieutenant Wells, the Cilik’ti use telepathic communication. We knew that Kree was in contact with his people the entire time. Any harsh act of coercion to force him into revealing military secrets would have resulted in his quick death, quite possibly followed by ours at the colony. Second, Kree is a worker among the Cilik’ti, not a soldier. He was sent there to study and managed to provide a way for humans to communicate with his species.”

I leaned back into my chair. “Kree and the N’lan are not rogues.  The Cilik’ti are far more complicated than we ever realized, and the N’lan hold a critical place of power amongst their people. Frankly, without their help, I wouldn’t be sitting across this table talking to you right now.”

The man frowned. “I wonder about that too, Captain.  Perhaps your actions are justified, but I fear for our future. Another war could be disastrous for us all.”

I snorted. “For once we agree. But I think you need to spend more time investigating who is behind the theft of Epherium’s data on the colonists. The stealth frigate that attacked us in that asteroid field and left with an agent that was planted in my crew is still out there. That’s the real threat.”

The man closed the cover on his data pad and stood. “Thank you for time, Captain. I think you’ve provided me with valuable insight for my investigation. I’ll contact you if I have any more questions.”

Do you have a question for Captain James Hood?  Are you curious about what he feels about his crew?  What does he think of his new alien “friends”?  What does think about Epherium and their use of sleeper chambers to reprogram criminals into colonists?  Ask below, and Captain Hood will be happy to answer.

Thanks for spending time with Captain James Hood today.

The Fatal Series by Marie Force

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Mixing romance and politics can be FATAL…

The Fatal Series by bestselling author Marie Force, now available in print with bonus content.

FATAL AFFAIR | FATAL JUSTICE | FATAL CONSEQUENCES | FATAL DESTINY | FATAL FLAW | FATAL DECEPTION | FATAL MISTAKE | FATAL JEOPARDY | FATAL SCANDAL | FATAL FRENZY

Fast-paced political intrigue, gritty suspense and a romance that makes headlines.

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FATAL AFFAIR: BOOK ONE OF THE FATAL SERIES

Includes the never-before-published prequel novella, ONE NIGHT WITH YOU.

Walking the thin blue line… 

Detective Sergeant Sam Holland of the Washington, DC, Metro Police needs a big win to salvage her career—and her confidence—after a disastrous investigation. The perfect opportunity arises when Senator John O’Connor is found brutally murdered in his bed, and Sam is assigned to the case. Matters get complicated when Sam has to team up with Nick Cappuano, O’Connor’s friend and chief of staff…and the man Sam had a memorable one-night stand with years earlier. Their sexual chemistry still sizzles, and Sam has to fight to stay focused on the case. Sleeping with a material witness is another mistake she can’t afford—especially when the bodies keep piling up.
Print: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | TargetIndigo | Harlequin
ebook: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | GooglePlay | iBooks | Kobo | Carina Press

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9780373002580_prdFATAL JUSTICE: BOOK TWO OF THE FATAL SERIES

She looked into the dead face of the man she’d dined with the night before…

Standing over the body of a Supreme Court nominee, Lieutenant Sam Holland is hip-deep in another high-profile murder case. The fact that she was one of the last people to see Julian Sinclair alive just complicates things even more. On the plus side, her relationship with Senator Nick Cappuano is heating up—but it’s also attracting a lot of unwanted media attention and blinding flashbulbs.

The pressure is on for Sam to find Sinclair’s killer, but a new lead in her father’s unsolved shooting puts her in unexpected danger. When long-buried secrets threaten to derail her relationship with Nick, Sam realizes that while justice is blind, mixing romance with politics has the potential to be fatal…
Print: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Target |  Indigo | Harlequin
ebook: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | GooglePlay | iBooks | Kobo | Carina Press

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9780373002597_prdFATAL CONSEQUENCES: BOOK THREE OF THE FATAL SERIES

Includes the novella FATAL DESTINY

Politics can be murder…
Lieutenant Sam Holland has no sooner accepted Senator Nick Cappuano’s proposal than she’s back on the job. A woman has been found brutally murdered and evidence points to Henry Lightfeather, a senator and close friend of Nick’s. While Sam investigates, Nick stands by his friend—complicating his own bid for reelection, and causing tension between the couple.

As Sam’s investigation reveals a scandal that rocks the capital, Nick and Sam discover that the biggest threat to their future might be someone from her past.
print: Amazon | Barnes & NobleIndigo | Harlequin | Target
ebook: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | GooglePlay | iBooks | Kobo | Carina Press
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9781426892158_fatal_destinyFATAL DESTINY: A FATAL SERIES NOVELLA.

With the week of their wedding finally upon them, Washington, D.C., Police Lieutenant Sam Holland and her fiancé, Senator Nick Cappuano, are at odds. In the aftermath of a tragic loss, they struggle to reconnect as the big day draws near, but their work keeps pulling them apart. When a new clue into a cold case surfaces, Nick asks Sam not to take any foolish chances before the wedding and to leave it alone for the time being.

Sam agrees, but she can’t let it go entirely and winds up trapped in an explosive situation. Then an unwelcome visitor from her past threatens her future happiness… With trouble at every turn, will Sam survive long enough to walk down the aisle?

ebook: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | GooglePlay | iBooks | Kobo | Carina Press

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9780373002696_prdFATAL FLAW: BOOK FOUR OF THE FATAL SERIES

The honeymoon’s over, and now someone wants them dead…

Back from their honeymoon, Senator Nick Cappuano and DC Police Lieutenant Sam Holland are ready for some normalcy after the whirlwind of their wedding, but someone has other plans for them. When Sam discovers wedding cards containing thinly veiled death threats, she’s not sure if she or Nick is the target.

Already on edge, Sam and her team start investigating a series of baffling murders. The victims are well liked with no known enemies, and the murders are carried out in a clean and efficient manner. Unable to find a clear motive for the deaths, she feels as if she’s chasing her tail.

With no obvious connection between the victims, Sam soon suspects that she may be the ultimate prize in the killer’s clever game. When the danger starts to hit a little too close to home, she has two goals: find the elusive murderer and manage to live long enough to enjoy her happily-ever-after.
print: Amazon | Barnes & NobleIndigo | Harlequin | Target
ebook: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | GooglePlay | iBooks | Kobo | Carina Press

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9780373002702_smpFATAL DECEPTION: BOOK FIVE OF THE FATAL SERIES

Murder comes to the White House…

The wife of the White House deputy chief of staff has been beaten to death, and their one-year-old daughter is missing. DC police lieutenant Sam Holland is in charge of the murder investigation, but she’s forced to collaborate with Special Victims Unit detectives as well as thorn-in-her-side FBI special agent Avery Hill. Then, a cold case of her father’s resurrects old hurts—a distraction Sam cannot afford.

As Sam’s investigation heats up, so does Nick’s political career—and the heat carries over to their bedroom. Will Sam put the pieces together in time to catch a killer and find the baby, or will ambition, greed and lies prove fatal?
Available in print July 2015: Amazon | Barnes & NobleIndigo | Harlequin
ebook: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | GooglePlay | iBooks | Kobo | Carina Press

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9780373002719_smpFATAL MISTAKE: BOOK SIX OF THE FATAL SERIES

A critical error. A Cinderella season cut short. A star player murdered.

DC is recovering from angry riots after one player’s mistake blew the DC Federals’ chance at the World Series, and Lieutenant Sam Holland is determined to unravel the twisted web of motives behind the star center fielder’s death. Was it a disgruntled fan, a spurned lover or a furious teammate?

While Sam digs through clues, her husband, US Senator Nick Cappuano, fights for his political life in the final days of his reelection campaign as financial irregularities threaten his future. It’s a distraction Nick can ill afford with Sam in the midst of another high-profile murder investigation and both of them trying to help their adopted son, Scotty, cope with the murder of a ballplayer he admired. Determined to bring the killer to justice, Sam must root out the truth before another mistake proves fatal.
Available in print August 2015: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indigo
ebook: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | GooglePlay | iBooks | Kobo | Carina Press

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9780373002726_smpFATAL JEOPARDY: BOOK SEVEN OF THE FATAL SERIES

The most personal case yet…

Washington, DC, police lieutenant Sam Holland and her husband, US Senator Nick Cappuano, have been looking forward to a quiet Thanksgiving with their son. But any thoughts of a restful holiday are dashed when Sam and Nick return home to a gruesome scene: Sam’s seventeen-year-old niece Brooke, barely conscious and covered in blood on their front stoop.

With lines between personal and professional blurring in this emotionally charged, deeply personal case, Sam is relying on Nick more than ever for support. But when suspicious images from the night in question appear on social media, Sam begins to wonder if her niece is telling her everything she knows about what really happened. And when Nick questions her tactics—and her ethics—as she races against the clock, Sam will need to decide how far she’s willing to go to prove Brooke is a victim, not a murderer.
Available in print September 2015: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indigo
ebook: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | GooglePlay | iBooks | Kobo | Carina Press

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9780373002733.inddFATAL SCANDAL: BOOK EIGHT OF THE FATAL SERIES

Someone’s keeping deadly secrets…
As a new year dawns in the capital city, dual scandals rock the Metropolitan Police Department—and Lieutenant Sam Holland is right in the middle of them. Chief Farnsworth is catching heat for the way he handled a recent homicide investigation, and Detective Gonzales is accused of failing to disclose an earlier connection to the judge who decided his custody hearing.

When Gonzo’s fight for his child turns deadly and he has a shaky alibi, Sam must defend two of her closest colleagues. All while her husband, Vice President Nick Cappuano, settles into his new office at the White House.

Nick begins to wonder if the president is using him for a political boost, and his worries mount over a complication in the plans to adopt Scotty at a time when Sam is being put through the wringer by the always-rabid DC press corps. As the evidence against Gonzo piles up, Sam suspects someone is gunning for her—and her team.
Available in print January 2016: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indigo
ebook: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | GooglePlay | iBooks | Kobo | Carina Press
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9781459290297_fatal_frenzyFATAL FRENZY: BOOK NINE OF THE FATAL SERIES

Sam and Nick’s story continues in Fatal Frenzy, Book 9 of the Fatal Series! It’s inauguration day in Washington, and nothing goes according to plan for the nation’s second couple in the next installment of the New York Times bestselling series.
Available in ebook September 2015: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | GooglePlay | iBooks | Kobo

The Best Book Boyfriends

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By Sybil Bartel, author of IMPOSSIBLE PROMISE

I would love to think I am sly and cunning about hiding my book boyfriend addiction, but in reality, I might like to swoon, a lot. Okay, more than a lot. Confession time—I LOVE book boyfriends! They’re perfect. But have you ever asked yourself who makes the best book boyfriend?

I would be lying if I said it was one single, earth shattering, time stopping, perfect, single character. Because, let’s be honest, there are so many to choose from, I couldn’t possibly pick just one! But there are elements, ingredients if you will, that make the perfect combination.

I like my book boyfriends to be alpha, so alpha they make your knees shake. And tall, and strong and swoon worthy gorgeous, but in a rugged way, an alpha way. Do you know the type? Presence in spades, dominant, and so consuming, he makes you forget all other men?

That’s Blaze.

He’s a six-foot-four Force Recon Marine. His stare is penetrating. He’s cunning and ruthless. He’s fiercely protective. He lives by a code of honor, and he loves hard. Oh, does he love hard. Everything about Blaze makes my knees shake, even the flaws—because of the flaws. Because that’s the secret ingredient to a perfect book boyfriend—the flaws. Rough when you wanted sweet, guarded when you wanted vulnerable, distant when you wanted more. It’s all about making you want more—those perfect imperfections that keep you turning the page.

Impossible Promise wasn’t an easy book to write. Sometimes it made me sad, sometimes I was so frustrated I had to walk away, but in the end it was Blaze’s flaws that made me fall in love with him. And ooh, would I love to tell you what they are, but I don’t want to spoil it for you! However, I will say this: I love my book boyfriend to be everything swoon-worthy. I want him to be the best alpha I’ve ever read. I want my heart to race as I turn the pages. And I want a vulnerability I can wrap my arms around.

So, the best book boyfriend? I know he’s out there. I’m giddy with excitement at just the thought of discovering him. It makes me believe in hope every time I read those first two tantalizing words, the ones that have me quivering in anticipation. Chapter One. Those two words get me every single time, because maybe, just maybe, they’ll lead me to my ultimate quest. I know the best book boyfriend is out there—I’ve met him a hundred times over. And I can’t wait to meet him again. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy Impossible Promise. I hope Blaze becomes one of your book boyfriends!

XOXO – Sybil

9781426899676-COVThree years ago, Layna Blair listened in horror over a telephone line as her parents were murdered. When the killer said she was next, Layna panicked and made a deadly deal—his secret in exchange for her life. She’s paid the price every day since, becoming a prisoner in plain sight.

Marine Sergeant Blaze Johnson offers Layna a way out—her freedom, his rules, no questions asked—and she takes it, despite knowing what her keepers do to people who get too close. She doesn’t know Blaze is fighting his own demons or that beneath his warrior façade is a man on the verge of breaking.

Embarking on a wild revenge mission with Blaze and his smooth-talking best friend, Talon, is not what Layna signed on for. But attempting to run when Blaze has made no secret he intends to make her his is a reckless mistake. With the killer closing in, it’s up to Blaze to save them all—and to Layna to realize that she’s risked the one thing she can’t afford to lose.

Book one of two

93,000 words

Impossible Promise is available now!

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | GooglePlay | iBooks | Kobo

To find out more about Sybil Bartel, be sure to follow her on Twitter (she loves to hear about your favorite book boyfriend!), like her on Facebook, and visit her website.