Buy Murder on the Last Frontier–Charlotte Brody Mystery #1
Buy Borrowing Death–Charlotte Brody Mystery #2
Buy Murder on Location–Charlotte Brody Mystery #3
Buy Caught in Amber!
Buy Deep Deception!
Category Archives: books out
Writers are often asked, “Where do you get your ideas?” For the Charlotte Brody Mystery series, my answer has been, “Local history.” For each book, I gleaned some bit of Cordova’s past and worked it into the story, with literary and artistic license, of course.
I used a local’s tale about the death of a “sporting woman” in Murder on the Last Frontier. In Borrowing Death, the cover up of a local businessman’s murder with a purposely set fire was an actual news item I read while perusing old editions of the Cordova Times.
The influence for Murder on Location, and its film-within-a-book North to Fortune, was a 1924 silent movie called The Cheechakos. This was the first full-length movie filmed entirely in Alaska. The man responsible for it, Austin “Cap” Lathrop, had hoped his film company, Alaska Moving Pictures, would produce more, but The Cheechakos was its only distributed work.
My Kid and I had the pleasure of attending a local screening of The Cheechakos while I was contemplating a premise for Charlotte’s third story. Kid suggested I have someone die during the filming of a similar movie, and Murder on Location was born. The idea of a Hollywoodland, California, crew experiencing Alaska sounds like a fun way to stage a murder, don’t you think?
In the Alaska Territory, suffragette Charlotte Brody is a newspaper reporter in the frontier town of Cordova. She’s a woman ahead of her time living on the rugged edge of civilization—but right now the most dangerous element she faces may come from sunny California . . .
An expedition has arrived in the frigid wilderness to shoot North to Fortune—an epic motion picture featuring authentic footage of majestic peaks, vast glaciers, homesteaders, and Alaska Natives. But the film’s fortunes begin to go south as a local Native group grows angry at how they’re portrayed in the movie, fights break out, and cast and crew are beset by accidents and assaults. Finally, production is halted when the inebriated director falls into a crevasse—and dies of exposure.
Soon Michael Brody—the town coroner and Charlotte’s brother—starts to suspect that Mother Nature was not responsible for Stanley Welsh’s death. Charlotte, who’s been writing about all the Hollywood glamor, is suddenly covering a cold-blooded crime story—and as springtime storms keep the suspects snowed in, she has to make sure the truth doesn’t get buried . . .
Pick up Murder on Location just about anywhere!
And other fine retailers!
Woo hoo! Borrowing Death, the second book of the Charlotte Brody Mystery Series hits the shelves, gets shipped from your favorite store, gets downloaded into your ereader of choice TODAY!
So very excited! I’ll be posting about the book, answering questions if y’all have them, that sort of thing over the next few days. But for today, I want to enjoy the fact Charlotte and company are out there again (still?).
What’s this second story about, you ask? Well, it’s November, 1919, and Charlotte’s been in Cordova for a few months. (ICYMI, in the first book, Murder on the Last Frontier, she’d just arrived in town that August/September.) Winter is setting in, but life is never dull in the Great Land.
Suffragette and journalist Charlotte Brody is bracing herself for her first winter in the frontier town of Cordova in the Alaska Territory. But the chilling murder of a local store owner is what really makes her blood run cold. . .
After three months in Cordova, Charlotte is getting accustomed to frontier life. She is filing articles for the local paper–including a provocative editorial against Prohibition–and enjoying a reunion with her brother Michael, the town doctor and coroner. Michael’s services are soon called upon when a fire claims the life of hardware store owner Lyle Fiske. A frontier firebug is suspected of arson, but when Michael determines Fiske was stabbed before his store was set ablaze, the town of Cordova has another murder to solve.
Her journalist’s curiosity whetted, Charlotte begins to sort through the smoldering ruins of Lyle Fiske’s life, only to discover any number of people who might have wanted him dead. As the days grow shorter, Charlotte’s investigation turns increasingly complex. She may be distant from the trappings of civilization, but untangling the motives for murder will require plumbing the very depths of Charlotte’s investigative acumen. . .
Here are some things that folks are saying about Borrowing Death.
“These new mysteries are a great mixture of history, mystery and a little bit of romance. The characters and setting are well-written and readers will be waiting impatiently for the next installment to come out.” ~Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion for Suspense Magazine (full review link coming)
An “entertaining follow-up…the reporter’s penchant for encouraging the aspirations of a local girl, hanging out with the town madam, snooping in neighbors’ houses, and employing hairpins as lock picks will satisfy.” ~Publishers Weekly (full review here)
In celebration of Borrowing Death officially being out in the world, I’m giving away a few items from Cordova or that represent Cordova and Alaska.
- Signed copies of Murder on the Last Frontier and Borrowing Death
- Copper River Fleece (local merchant) satchel with salmon and bear print trim
- Copper River Fleece forget-me-not headband
- 3 salmon-shaped chocolates (dark, milk, and white)
- 2 wooden bookmarks
- Alaska pin
- Wooden fish ornament
How do you win this lovely loot (over $100 in value)? I’m an old-fashioned sort of gal, so we’re doing this the old-fashioned way:
(1) Leave a comment below (Please play fair and leave just one comment/entry. Multiples will get tossed out) with a VALID email address. This is important! I need to be able to contact you.
(2) At the end of the giveaway, Tuesday, July 5, 2016 at midnight Alaska time, I’ll randomly choose a winner via a number generator, email that person and give them 48 hours to reply.
(3) If I don’t get a reply from that person in the allotted time, I will choose another winner. Sorry, but we can’t leave folks hanging, right?
(4) This is open to anyone, anywhere, but depending on your location the prize package could take some time to get to you. I’ll give you a heads up when it goes out and an estimated arrival date.
I promise not to spam you or do anything with your contact info except contact you personally as needed.
Anything else? If you have questions, shoot me an email at email@example.com with the subject line “BD giveaway question” or something like it so I know you aren’t spam, or on Twitter @CathyPegau
And if you simply CANNOT wait…
Buy Borrowing Death at these fine locations, in brick and mortar stores, and elsewhere:
Kensington Books http://tinyurl.com/BDKens
Amazon USA http://tinyurl.com/BDusAmazon
Amazon UK http://tinyurl.com/BDAmazonuk
Amazon Aus http://tinyurl.com/BDAmazonaus
Thanks so much!!! Good luck!
Hey, all! My fabu author friend Jody Wallace has a couple of books out that are on sale PLUS a giveaway of books and goodies! And she asks me some questions about my worst nightmares!!!!
But first! The books!!!
TANGIBLE and DISCIPLE are urban fantasies out with Samhain Publishing.
In the world of the Dreamwalkers, some dreams are so vivid they create monsters. The Somnium exists to destroy those monsters, keep them out of the public eye–and control the dreamers whose imaginations are nightmares manifest. But something has awakened in the dreamsphere. Something that’s beyond anyone’s worst nightmare.
Dreams don’t come true, but nightmares do.
When Zeke Garrett is reactivated to mentor the next dreamer that pops up on the Somnium’s radar, he’s sure it’s a mistake. The covert organization is still struggling to conceal the fallout from his last assignment, a fatal catastrophe.
From the first blast of her pepper spray, he realizes this neonati, whose nightmares manifest vampires straight from the pages of pop-culture, is more than he bargained for—a potential dreamwalker. But before her training can begin, he has to convince the stubborn, mouthy woman she’s not dreaming.
Maggie Mackey hasn’t slept well in a month, but that doesn’t explain how the monsters from her nightmares suddenly seem so real. Or why, when a team of intimidating, sword-wielding toughs rescue her, their leader captures her mouth in a swift, knee-weakening kiss.
Once he tears himself away, Zeke’s mental forehead smacking begins. Their embrace has confirmed they have a rare tangible bond, a phenomenon which fooled him once before. Somehow he must tutor the woman of his dreams without getting attached. Otherwise her nightmares could become his own.
Warning: Title contains lots of cussing, pop culture references and monsters with nasty, big, pointy teeth.
Conquer your inner demons…before they break free.
When student dreamwalker Maggie Mackey was first discovered by Zeke Garrett, now her mentor, their sexual attraction blazed off the charts, as did their tangible dreamspace bond.
Three months later, their relationship is as stalled out as Maggie’s training. Zeke isn’t sure what’s to blame. His clumsy mentoring, Maggie’s stubbornness, or something more sinister.
When the pair is summoned to a restricted outpost for troubled and sick dreamwalkers to investigate the deaths of several patients, a nightmare from Zeke’s past resurfaces to further complicate Maggie’s training. In fact, there’s a better-than-good chance she’ll be yanked away from him and reassigned to a curator. Disciples sent to curators are rarely heard from again.
To survive the secretive inner workings of their organization and the deadly new force emerging inside the sphere, Maggie and Zeke must confront their inner demons as well as their feelings for each other. Because in the world of the dreamwalkers, inner demons never remain politely inside one’s tortured soul. They prefer to manifest…and eat people.
Warning: Book contains sex, cursing, more cursing, T-Rexes, dire peril and explosives.
They sound amazing, don’t they??? So go get yours!
Digital versions of TANGIBLE (normally $3.49, on sale for $0.99)and DISCIPLE (normally $5.99, on sale for $1.99) will be on sale from January 18 – February 5 at online retailers. Jody will be giving away 3 trade paperbacks of DISCIPLE (#2) via Goodreads from January 22 – February 5.
Jody will also be giving away some crocheted earrings and some of her other books to newsletter subscribers. Signup for the newsletter here.
Just for Funnsies (did I spell that right?):
So. Jody is a BIG fan of interviewing people. She posed some question regarding dreams and things. Here are my answers.
Jody: The premise of the Dreamwalkers series is that certain human brains are so vivid that their nightmares can come to life and eat people. The heroes and heroines (so far) are the folks who fight these monsters and hide their existence from the rest of the world. Oftentimes these nightmares take the shape of popular culture creations, but sometimes there are classics.
What are the scariest movies, TV and books you can think of?
Cathy: I used to watch movies like “Halloween” and ones based on Stephen King novels, as long as they weren’t bloodbaths. The implied horror of “Silence of the Lambs” got to me, particularly the scene where Clarice is looking at the picture of what Hanibal did to the nurse. The utter shock on her face sets the imagination reeling better than any view of the picture by the audience could ever achieve. My kid enjoys those “Haunting” shows. I’m fine if there’s a ghost just messing around, but if the entity is a demon or something, I get a little wigged out. Also, anything with an evil doll is a no-go for me.
Jody: What monsters do you think your brain would create or has created in your books? (Caveat: real world human monsters don’t tend to get created, just things like vampires and mega spiders, and the size of the monster tends to be between 3-12 feet. If your nightmare is more of an “event”, like falling or appearing in public naked, I bet there’s a monster that represents that kind of horror!)
Cathy: Most of my nightmares involve being chased by…something. I never really see it, but if I managed to have it manifest I’d say it would be very spider-like. Probably a zombie spider. With an evil clown (is that redundant?) sidekick.
Jody: What kind of dreamwalker hero or heroine do you think would be required to dispatch your nightmares? (Romance optional!)
Cathy: Someone with a flamethrower. I never seem to have one handy in my dreams.
Jody: Bonus question: What pop culture monsters do you think the dreamwalkers have the most trouble killing?
Cathy: I’m leaving this last question up for any commentors. What do you say, folks? Which pop culture monster would give the dreamwalkers a run for their money?
While you consider, go buy Jody’s books and sign up for her newsletter and giveaways!
Jody Wallace grew up in the South in a very rural area. She went to school a long time and ended up with a Master’s Degree in Creative Writing. Her resume includes college English instructor, technical documents editor, market analyst, web designer, and general, all around pain in the butt. She resides in Tennessee with one husband, two children, one grandma, six cats, and a lot of junk.
Jody also runs MeanKitty.
Writers are often asked, “Where do you get your ideas?” Much of the time, in my case, something small sets off my brain. A commercial showing a bride flinging her veil out onto the road while she zoomed off in a convertible gave me the opening scene to one story (unpublished…for now). Watching a show about scam artists and thieves kicked off Rulebreaker, which led to Caught in Amber, which led to Deep Deception 🙂
The idea for Murder on the Last Frontier emerged after a conversation with a long-time resident of our town when my husband, daughter, and I went to investigate a local, little-known cemetery.
My husband serves on the city’s Planning and Zoning committee. At a meeting a few years ago, they were going over city land that could be sold or leased or what have you. A nice-sized plot in a residential neighborhood near the high school was marked “Not for Sale.” There were homes on either side of it, and it was large enough for a small house.
DH: Why is this plot not for sale?
Committee Guy: It’s a cemetery.
Committee Guy Who Had Been a Resident for 20 yrs: Really?
Like many people, I had been by that lot hundreds of times, either while trundling kids to/from school or our critters to/from the veterinarian whose practice is nearby. The lot is either overgrown with weeds or covered in snow most of the time, and there’s no sign of it being anything other than an empty lot. Little did we know it was far from empty.
One sunny spring Saturday not long after hearing about the cemetery, we were headed to the high school for some event and decided to check it out. Sure enough, among the weeds and saplings, a few graves. They had low headstones that were barely legible. One or two had those low iron fences around them. It was easy to see why if you were just driving or walking past you’d never know it was a cemetery.
As we made our way across the lot, we saw Marv, the man who owns one of the neighboring houses, puttering about his yard. He asked us what we were up to (in a nice way, as Marv is a nice guy, and it was obvious we were looking about, not out to cause trouble). We told him my husband’s P&Z committee story.
Marv smiled and nodded, saying not many folks were aware of it and that was fine by him. He gave us a neat little history lesson about the cemetery, including the unfortunate incident of some group coming in and “cleaning up” the old bits of wood which happened to be markers.
Then he told us another story.
Back in the 1930s or 1940s, a prostitute (yes, Cordova had a “red light” district for years, like a lot of towns) and her child were found murdered. One of them was buried in that little-known cemetery, the other in a different one (we have three, all fairly small). I don’t know if the woman had been pregnant or the child had been recently born or what the circumstances were, but it was quite sad.
We said our good-byes to Marv and went over to the school. We were kept busy at the event we attended, but I couldn’t shake the idea of the dead prostitute. My writerly brain locked onto its own scenario as to how and why this woman was killed.
And who would earnestly look into the murder of a “sporting” woman? I’m sure real-life local authorities investigated, but as a writer, I saw someone else–an outsider with her own secrets to keep–acting on behalf of the dead. She would need to stand up to convention and represent justice for all.
I had always been interested in the women of the suffrage movement and decided my protagonist would be a suffragette. Though they had their faults, I appreciated their bravery and efforts. The person mostly likely to really care about the death of a prostitute would be one who wanted all women treated fairly. She’d be an outsider, having come to Alaska Territory for her own reasons. She’d poke her nose into places it didn’t belong and stir up a few folks. That’s how suffragette and journalist Charlotte Brody was born.
The events and characters in Murder on the Last Frontier are, of course, fictional. I still haven’t hunted down the actual murder that set things off for the series. But I did go through a number of old editions of the local paper and came up with another murder for Charlotte. Borrowing Death (Kensington, July 2016) was also inspired by real events. And the third book Murder on Location employs the real-life occurrence of a movie crew coming to town.
So where do I get my ideas? Pretty much right outside my door.
Woo hoo! Today’s the day!!!!! Murder on the Last Frontier is officially out in the wide world!!!
Am I excited? Just a wee bit 🙂
MotLF has been getting some mixed reviews (You can find them at GoodReads and Amazon, mostly) but overall people seem to enjoy the series. The setting, Alaska in 1919, and Charlotte’s identity as a suffragette are often noted as the draw. That’s cool. I like being a little different ; )
Let’s start this grand day with a giveaway of some ARCs (Advanced Reader Copies). They aren’t the “out in the store” prints, having the disclaimer of some minor, uncorrected boo-boos, but those who have read them haven’t pointed out issues.
If you’d like an ARC, leave a comment saying so. Make sure there’s viable email address so I can contact you for your mailing address (DO NOT put that in the comment. We don’t want you to have issue.) I am willing to send wherever. Yes, internationally. I’ll give away 5 or 10. We’ll see 😉
Thanks for sharing this with me!
It’s been WAY too long since the lovely and talented Jody Wallace has visited. She has a new book out, THE WHOLE TRUTH (fab cover, isn’t it????), as well as a bunch of other fantastic stories. Jody is one of the most creative, smart and funny people I know.
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Recently, we got into a little conversation about writing “The End” and self-publishing. TWT is one of her indie offerings. She also has books out with Carina Press and Samhain.
JODY: So, Cathy, tell me about your recent accomplishment of writing “THE
END” on a new novel?
CATHY: Wait, I thought this was a guest post about YOU? OK, fine, I’ll start. In a few simple words, it was a relief. I was months behind where I wanted to be. But in my defense (pathetic as it is) there was a lot of research required.
What about you? How do you feel when those two little words get added?
JODY: Relieved that I wasn’t fooling myself all along about this book idea, since I just made a book out of it. I plan to write THE END on a manuscript this week, in fact.
CATHY: Yay to that! But I get what you’re saying. Sometimes, the more I read through a work in progress the more I think, “Man, this is the dumbest thing ever!” then the manic writer in me wakes up and is all, “Holy cow! This rocks!” I’m very VERY glad you put out THE WHOLE TRUTH. It’s definitely in the “This rocks!” category.
JODY: Thanks! It’s a very cross-genre book — light urban fantasy mixed with chick lit snark mixed with Southern fiction mixed with romance subplots –so I opted to self-publish it. Publishing a manuscript is kind of the ultimate THE END, or it used to be. Once you contracted it, you were forced to quit tinkering with it, aside from official edits or the anniversary revised edition twenty years after the fact.
Self-publishing is mostly like that–although the temptation is there to continue revising a manuscript once it’s published, because you have good ideas and because you can. I’ve found a few typos in my self-published work so far and, of course, I’ve updated the “About Me” section on occasion, but I’ve never given into the urge to really tinker.
Do you think you could resist that urge if you self-published?
CATHY: If I found typos, I’d fix them, or other formatting/mechanics issues. But I’d like to think that would be about it. Sure, after a book is out, I sometimes think, “Oh! I should have____!” but having it in someone else’s hands has helped me let it go.
What’s been the best aspect of self publishing for you?
JODY: I’ll get back to you on that when I get rich quick. Or slow. I don’t care. I just want a tornado shelter.
Until then, I can tell you a few things I like, without them being “the best”, right? I enjoy working with the cover artists myself instead of hoping the publisher gets it right. I appreciate being able to change my book blurb, my key words, and so on, tweaking that information, if not the book itself, to increase visibility. I also like being able to give free copies away willy-nilly. If only more people wanted them!
CATHY: I’d take a get rich slow scheme too. Well, in my lifetime, anyway.
Those are great aspects of self publishing. What about the not so great? (Other than the get rich too slow times). What do you find to be more frustrating compared to “traditional” publishing?
JODY: When you’re self publishing, it all comes down to you and the decisions you’ve made. So if your book doesn’t move, it’s you who made the “bad” calls, so to speak. Granted, publishing, especially self publishing, is so erratic that the same author could do the exact same thing with two equally polished books, and one could bomb and one could fly off the cybershelves. That’s partly true with traditional publishing, although in those instances, there are even more factors out of an author’s control than in self publishing. So you can change things in self publishing…but all the stress and blame are yours, too.
Why don’t you tell us about your latest project and then I’ll tell you about THE WHOLE TRUTH?
CATHY: Wait, aren’t you the guest? Why are we talking about *my* project? I can do that any time.
Tell us about THE WHOLE TRUTH. I’ve read this a while ago and LOVE LOVE LOVE it. Without spoilers, give us a little insight in to the types of folks who populate TWT.
JODY: I asked you first.
CATHY: *rolls eyes at Jody* Fine. It’s a cozy murder mystery set in 1919 Alaska, the town I currently live in, specifically. The story is sort of based on the murder of a “sporting woman” and her baby that happened in the ’30s or ’40s, but for some reason I decided earlier in the century sounded more interesting. It’s not like any of my other stuff. No space travel, ghosts or anything like that.
JODY: THE WHOLE TRUTH is what happens when you love chick lit, paranormal, urban fantasy, superheroes, snarky heroines, unexpected settings, office politics, food, cats and espionage all at the same time. Our heroine, Cleo, can see lies — a shadow forms in front of a liar’s face and mouths the true words. She thinks she’s the only person in the world like herself, but eventually, her unusual web searches and pointed commentary on internet blogs gets her caught, NSA-style, by a group of suprasensors who want to hire her.
But the group who hired her aren’t the only suprasensors in the world. And somebody out there seems to want to put suprasensors in comas. Or worse. It’s up to Cleo to get to the bottom of the mystery, and it really, really shouldn’t be up to Cleo, because she’s only a superhero in her abilities. Or that’s what she thinks
CATHY: I love Cleo. She’s a great snarky, reluctant heroine. My favorite kind :). And I’m sure once someone reads THE WHOLE TRUTH they’ll want more more more!
Do you have plans for other suprasensors’ stories?
JODY: That’s one of the worst pitfalls of self publishing and writing “on spec”, so to speak. You have to decide how to invest your energies. THE WHOLE TRUTH is not a short book. A sequel would consume months of my work-time to finish. (And by the way, anybody who snarks that books shouldn’t take that long to write can jump in a lake, because we’re ALL DIFFERENT, from process to product, thank God.) So, just like with any business, you have to decide if there’s enough probable profit to merit the project. Pleasure, yes, there would be pleasure in revisiting Cleo and the gang, but is that how I should spend six months of my time? Do my sales merit it? Or would I be better off investing my time in something else?
To make a long answer short, I don’t know.
CATHY: I can understand the reasoning behind that not so short response.
So while you’re busy promoting TWT and your other fab works, what are you writing? Can you share?
JODY: Letters to my children’s teachers. The book I’m about to write “THE END” on is the sequel to Tangible, which is through Samhain Publishing.
It was written on spec, it’s very long, and it’s taken a lot of time. I have no guarantee of a contract, but I enjoy working with my Samhain editor and have high hopes! After that? I want to write something short. What’s next for you?
CATHY: Good luck with the spec book! It’s great to have an editor who “gets” you, isn’t it?
For me? Good question I have a short, probably freebie SFR in mind as well as a longer SFR and a paranormal historical I’ve been chipping at. And others. I’m in a sort of limbo state, so I need something to really grab my attention. Unfortunately, what grabs *my* attention isn’t necessarily something that will be sellable ; P
JODY: I know that feeling well! And on that note…
Thanks so much for chatting with me, Jody!
Thanks for having me as your guest today, Cathy! I’m happy to say my new Science Fiction Romance novel, ESCAPE FROM ZULAIRE is available now. The story takes place in the same universe as WRECK OF THE NEBULA DREAM, but the two novels aren’t connected in any way. My heroine in the new book, Andi Markriss, does work for the same galactic shipping company that Mara was employed by in WRECK, but that’s the only tiny connection. Good old Loxton Galactic Trading – they like to hire strong willed, independent women who stay cool in a crisis.
Here’s the book’s blurb:
no images were foundAndi Markriss hasn’t exactly enjoyed being the houseguest of the planetary high-lord, but her company sent her to represent them at a political wedding. When hotshot Sectors Special Forces Captain Tom Deverane barges in on the night of the biggest social event of the summer, Andi isn’t about to offend her high-ranking host on Deverane’s say-so—no matter how sexy he is, or how much he believes they need to leave now.
Deverane was thinking about how to spend his retirement bonus when HQ assigned him one last mission: rescue a civilian woman stranded on a planet on the verge of civil war. Someone has pulled some serious strings to get her plucked out of the hot zone. Deverane’s never met anyone so hard-headed—or so appealing. Suddenly his mission to protect this one woman has become more than just mere orders.
That mission proves more dangerous than he expected when rebel fighters attack the village and raze it to the ground. Deverane escapes with Andi, and on their hazardous journey through the wilderness, Andi finds herself fighting her uncomfortable attraction to the gallant and courageous captain. But Deverane’s not the type to settle down, and running for one’s life doesn’t leave much time to explore a romance.
Then Andi is captured by the rebel fighters, but Deverane has discovered that Zulaire’s so-called civil war is part of a terrifying alien race’s attempt to subjugate the entire Sector. If he pushes on to the capitol Andi will die. Deverane must decide whether to save the woman he loves, or sacrifice her to save Zulaire.
So the idea for ESCAPE’s plot is based in a real life incident that happened in India in 1857. The events in India during this period go by many names, depending who’s telling the story, but one common term is the Sepoy Rebellion. I was always fascinated how so many British women and children in India at the time were caught totally unaware, suddenly in the middle of a really awful war, and the people they trusted and looked to for help were the very ones determined to kill them. I always wondered how it would feel to be in the middle of such a situation and what I’d do.
My novel is not a retelling of the Sepoy events in any way. Unlike WRECK, which was loosely based on the sinking of the Titanic, ESCAPE only takes the very basic idea and then runs with it. When the book starts, the heroine knows things aren’t quite right, she’s a guest at an isolated compound hundreds of miles from safety…and then one afternoon Sectors Special Forces Captain Tom Deverane shows up and says it’s time to leave now.
Here’s an excerpt from that conversation:
“I forget you’ve been out of the loop.” Sitting down, Deverane leaned forward, putting his hands on his knees and taking a deep breath. “Two days ago I got urgent orders, relayed from Sector Command, diverting me from my primary mission. The new priority was to come five hundred miles out of our way to extract you for a safe return to the capital city.” From the dry tone in his voice, Andi guessed how little he’d appreciated the change. “Now, if you could get your things together, I’d like to be on our way before dark.”
She blinked. Today? He wants me to leave now? Andi shifted back into the chair’s embrace, crossing her legs. “Get my things—what are you talking about? I’m the guest of Lord Tonkiln’s family, and I’m expected to present a significant gift from Loxton at the reception tonight with due ceremony. I can’t ride off with you on literally a moment’s notice without some compelling reason. Why is your Command issuing orders concerning me anyway?”
The captain got up in one smooth motion, like a great cat uncurling, paced to the fireplace and back, then half sat on the edge of a sturdy table. I bet he’s a person in constant motion—discussing anything in patient detail doesn’t appear to be his style. Well, I’m not one of his soldiers and I don’t take orders from him, so he’d better explain himself.
“Call me Andi.” And let’s get this discussion on a less military, more personal level so you stop trying to give me orders.
The quick, meaningless smile crossed his handsome face again, never reaching his eyes. “Andi. In case you haven’t heard, this entire planet is about to be embroiled in a devastating Clan war.”
Andi didn’t hesitate. “Ridiculous. The Obati and the Shenti have been at peace for four hundred years. Everyone has been satisfied with the status quo for four centuries. How long did you say you’ve been on Zulaire, Captain?” She raised her eyebrows, drumming her fingers on the arm of the chair. “You’ve been here—what? Two weeks?”
He drew himself up to his full height, probably a foot taller than she, hands clasped tight behind his back, and glared at her. “I’ve been here long enough to see that this place is approaching critical mass, which apparently escapes your scanners. You’re the only offworlder on Zulaire right now who isn’t military, diplomatic, or mining personnel. And all of them are either safe in the capital or behind the defenses of the West Vialtin mine. Except you.” His index finger stabbed the air in her direction. “Along with my men and me. I intend to correct that situation in short order. Now, if you will please get your things—”
This is ridiculous. Not intimidated but curious, Andi shook her head. “We would have heard something out here. My office would have gotten in touch with me.”
Deverane walked closer, leaned on the table. “Have you received any communications from the office, or anyone since you came out here?”
“No, but it’s the summer slow period. Even the Loxton office is all but closed.” She gave him a challenging glare. “Look, on the basis of what you’ve said so far, I don’t appear to need rescuing. You still haven’t told me anything to justify leaving tonight, missing the reception, insulting my hosts, and driving back to the capital like a prisoner.” Wishing the deep upholstery didn’t make rising such an ungraceful process, Andi left the chair.
“You aren’t getting the picture.” Jaw clenched, he took a few steps to stand next to her. The glare from his green eyes was scorching, and Andi recoiled from the intensity. Apparently taking note of her unease, the captain gentled his voice. “Though why that should surprise me, I don’t know, considering the warnings Lord Tonkiln and the other members of the Council have ignored.”
“Warnings?” Andi took a step back, crossing her arms over her chest.
“To get their families the hell out of this isolated, inde¬fensible spot and into safety at the capital.” Deverane took a deep breath. He walked over to stare at the carvings on the mantel. Andi got the impression from the rigid set of his broad shoulders he was trying to control his temper. After a minute, he came to sit near her again. “I was told your boss made numerous attempts to get in touch with you, right until the moment he and the rest of the Loxton staff took a ship offworld.”
“Dave left Zulaire? They’ve all gone?” Now Andi fell back into the chair, raising a small puff of dust from the plush cushion beneath her. A wave of nausea rippling through her gut, she ran a hand through her hair, looping the tendrils behind her ear. “I don’t understand any of this. Why would my boss and my co-workers leave without me? Why wouldn’t the Tonkilns tell me? You’re still not making sense.”
Deverane came to hunker down in front of her chair, caging her with his arms, invading her personal space. Inhaling sharply, she caught a whiff of musk and forest and man, threaded with some delicious spicy note. She glanced down at his hands, strong, capable, locked on the chair close to her body. As if to calm an upset child, his voice was soothing and low. “Relax. We can get you offplanet in a military transport once you’re safely in the capital.”
She lifted her head, gazing straight into his eyes. Half-formed thoughts chased each other in her mind. The longer he talked, the more nervous she got, but it was still all too much to take in. Loxton only pulled staff offworld in the most serious situations. I haven’t heard a whiff of trouble. Dave wouldn’t have left me behind. Would he?
Deverane touched her arm lightly. “There have been incidents all summer. People disappearing, vehicles abandoned on the transportway with no sign of the occupants. There have even been some small-scale massacres in isolated villages, both Obati and Shenti. The violence keeps escalating. Command thinks a full-blown war is only a breath away, waiting for some convenient incident to touch it off. Lord Tonkiln and the others have chosen to keep things quiet, leaving their families at risk out here in order to demonstrate their belief in their own supremacy. Putting on a pretense of things going along as usual. Or else they refuse to see what’s coming. Civilians.”
He might as well have said idiots.
Deverane frowned at her, three deep wrinkles marring the strong sweep of his forehead. “Are you prepared to take the same risk?”
He’s invading my personal space, damn it. I don’t intimidate that easily, pal. She pushed at his rock-hard shoulders. Standing, he moved away a pace or two, still keeping his eyes locked on her. Licking her lips, Andi smoothed down her silky skirt. “You’re insinuating my hosts have deceived me and deliberately put me in harm’s way? I find that insulting.”
Eyes closed, he pinched the bridge of his nose. “You’re a pawn to them.” Now he reopened his eyes and flung his arms out, hands wide open. “You mean nothing to them. If you’re going to refuse my offer of evacuation, then you’d better be ready to take care of yourself, because I guarantee you the Obati won’t.”
GIVEAWAY!!!! Veronica has kindly offered a $25 Amazon gift card to a random commenter. What do you think of this exciting new SFR! Comments will be open for the giveaway through Wednesday (9/4) evening and a winner will be announced Thursday (9/5). So comment now, people!
ETA: Thanks for dropping by and commenting! We have a winner…Jody W.! Congrats, Jody! Buy lots of cool books! : )
I’m not one to wear a lot of jewelry. Earrings, because I have five piercings to fill. My wedding ring, of course. A watch if I’m not typing, because otherwise it’s quite uncomfortable. And a necklace I bought several years ago.
Why is this special? Why do I never take it off, except to clean it (or take a picture : )? Because it’s a symbol of love. Each of those tiny stones represents someone: the birthstones of my children, my spouse and myself. No matter where I am, my family is with me. On a recent Tart Sweet post, Limecello asked about my five most prized possessions. My wedding ring and this necklace were first and foremost on my list.
Necklaces are worn by characters in all three of my Nevarro novels, but differ in significance. In Rulebreaker, Zia Talbot wears a gold ring strung on a chain. It matches another piece of jewelry she never removes. Liv sees them but doesn’t learn the meaning of them until later in the story.
“I’ve worn these rings…since I was a girl, waiting for the right person to share all I have and all I can be. I’ve found that person.”
For Zia, the rings are a symbol of the future life she wishes to live. Not one of riches and power—she has those—but of love.
The necklace Guy Christiansen gives Sasha James in Caught in Amber carries a completely different connotation. First, note that Guy is not the hero in Caught. When Sasha comes to him in an effort to help Nathan Sterling, Guy presents Sasha with a pinky-nail sized ruby strung on a gold chain. It matches the ring he wears. Here’s a bit of her reaction after he secures it around her neck.
The cold stone and metal chilled her while his warm fingers lingered at the base of her neck. “Just a token,” he said lightly.
His offhand manner didn’t fool her for a moment. She looked up. In his blue eyes was exactly what she’d expected: triumph. Satisfaction. Possession.
Guy sees it as a representation of love. Sasha knows it’s more sinister than that. But she has no choice in accepting it for Sterling’s sake. Slight spoiler alert: She doesn’t keep it : )
Genevieve Caine isn’t very forthcoming with information in Deep Deception, but the pendant she wears tells quite a bit about her character and motivations. It represents something she isn’t willing to share with Natalia Hallowell. At least not at first.
A silver pendant on a delicate necklace rested between her breasts. Gennie saw Natalia looking at it and quickly slipped it under her shirt.
The significance of the pendant isn’t a plot spoiler, but it has more of an impact if you read it in context so I won’t tell you anymore about it here. Suffice it to say, it’s an important piece of jewelry to Gennie, and becomes so to Natalia.
These pieces of stone and metal have more than monetary value. The emotions attached to each of them, for better or worse, make them more than what they are.
In celebration of my latest release, Deep Deception, I’m holding a giveaway for a silver locket reminiscent of Gennie’s pendant and a copy of the book. I will ship internationally! Just tell me if there’s something you own that holds more meaning and value than what it’s “worth.” If you want to share why, that’s great. If not, that’s okay too : )
If I asked you to name a famous ship wreck or ship sinking, you’d probably come up with the Titanic at some point in your short list, right? I mean, who wouldn’t, with all the books, movies and other discussion still surrounding the event, even 101 years later?
So true enough my SFR novel WRECK OF THE NEBULA DREAM is loosely based on Titanic, although set in the far future, on a space liner, but I also took inspiration from some other sinkings and wrecks in history. When I was deciding what to write for this guest blog at Cathy’s (and thank you for having me today), I researched famous shipwrecks in Alaska and found the “unsinkable” SS Islander, with water tight compartments, built for the luxury trade, which hit an iceberg (or a rock) on August 14, 1901 and sank in twenty minutes. Forty people died, possibly more since there were at least eleven stowaways. (VS sez that’s a lot of stowaways!). The ship is rumored to have gone down with great riches in the hold, just as Titanic took treasures of all kinds to the bottom of the Pacific, including a jeweled copy of The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. My own doomed Nebula Dream has unspecified wonders in its cargo hold.
Lifeboats and who gets into them are another constant theme when researching wrecks and sinkings. The biggest lifeboat, meant to hold 50, was reported to have left the Islander with only eight people aboard. Titanic’s lifeboats are legendary for being lowered underfilled. I always wondered about that, why the crew was so concerned about not putting too many people into the boats, until I just this year read several accounts of earlier tragedies at sea where the lifeboats did split as they were lowered, which the crew of Titanic must have known. My Nebula Dream has lifeboat problems of her own…
Even getting to a lifeboat didn’t always mean a person survived. In the accounts of the White Star Line RMS Atlantic, which sank in 1873 with terrible loss of life, all the women and children died, even though many were put into lifeboats but the life boats capsized or were smashed against the rocks. Interestingly, one of the crew members of the Atlantic was discovered to have been a woman in disguise as “Bill,” a sailor who liked his grog and tobacco, and who had done three voyages on the ship. Now there has to be a novel there, right?!
We writers LOVE doing research and it often takes us down rabbitholes, like I just did just then with the sailor who was a woman, sorry! Then we have to force ourselves back to the original topic we were pursuing. How about the White Star Line’s Republic, known as “The Millionaires’ Ship” because so many rich Americans liked to travel back and forth to Europe aboard her? When she had her mid ocean catastrophe in 1909, the Marconi crew broadcast the “CQD” emergency call and another ship did arrive in time to take off nearly everyone aboard. This explains a lot about why the passengers on Titanic just three years later were so sure they had plenty of time, weren’t in all that much danger and had no need to go into the tiny lifeboats. Even the Board of Trade expected there would always be another ship conveniently nearby to take the passengers from a disabled or sinking cruise liner. Well, the Californian was near the Titanic all right (within ten miles) but never got word of the sinking. One of those very sad “what ifs”.
I made sure the circumstances of my spaceliner’s wreck placed her far away from where she was supposed to be and amped up the difficulty of anyone coming to their rescue in time…
And one final thing, in a very old, low budget movie about a fictional shipwreck (not Titanic) which my parents allowed me to see on TV (and be traumatized by but hey, that’s par for the course as a kid!), a poor woman is trapped under wreckage as the ship sinks. Her husband struggles to get her free in time. (It’s “The Last Voyage” with Robert Stack and Dorothy Malone, if you’re interested.) I made sure to put a scene into WRECK where something similar occurs and my hero Nick has to come to the rescue of trapped children, thus exorcising my personal lifelong demons from viewing that movie!
Here’s the book’s story:
Traveling unexpectedly aboard the luxury liner Nebula Dream on its maiden voyage across the galaxy, Sectors Special Forces Captain Nick Jameson is ready for ten relaxing days, and hoping to forget his last disastrous mission behind enemy lines. He figures he’ll gamble at the casino, take in the shows, maybe even have a shipboard fling with Mara Lyrae, the beautiful but reserved businesswoman he meets.
All his plans vaporize when the ship suffers a wreck of Titanic proportions. Captain and crew abandon ship, leaving the 8000 passengers stranded without enough lifeboats and drifting unarmed in enemy territory. Aided by Mara, Nick must find a way off the doomed ship for himself and several other innocent people before deadly enemy forces reach them or the ship’s malfunctioning engines finish ticking down to self destruction.
But can Nick conquer the demons from his past that tell him he’ll fail these innocent people just as he failed to save his Special Forces team? Will he outpace his own doubts to win this vital race against time?
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Thanks for having me as a guest today, Cathy!
Some have asked about the title of my new release Caught in Amber from Carina Press. To be honest, it was one of the easier titles to come up with, if not the easiest. Which is unusual for me. Getting the title to fit the story can be a struggle. But this one popped into my head practically from day one of sitting at the computer and typing “Chapter One.” It fit. It was meaningful. I loved it.
To be “caught in amber” means to be addicted to a very powerful drug in my fictional world. It’s insidious, prompting the user to everything and anything for the next hit. Sasha James, the heroine of the story, did a lot of things she’d rather forget to score a dose. Not pretty. But at the time, she couldn’t resist the lure of the drug. And after a stint in rehab, it requires the help of nanobots to keep the need at bay.
Whether it’s physical or psychological, addiction is like that. A user doesn’t *want* to be a slave to the drug, but the pull is too strong. They are stuck, unable to break free without help.
And this is where the science geek in me comes in : ) The moment the phrase “caught in amber” hit my brain I thought of actual amber, of course. Critters stuck in beautiful golden resin, perfectly preserved. I imagined these creatures, millions of years ago, going about their business. At first, perhaps, their tiny legs were able to pull out of a thin layer of sap as it flowed. But then, intent on whatever they were doing, didn’t realize they were stuck until it was too late. More sap flowed, engulfing them, and eventually the viscous substance hardened. Caught, forever, in amber.
To celebrate the release of Caught in Amber, I thought along with a copy of the book I’d offer up a couple of super pieces of amber.
So how do you get these amazing bits of million-year-old copal and a copy of CiA? Leave a comment, with your email addy, telling me the best geeky thing about yourself. No geekiness is too big or too small. I WILL ship internationally, if laws allow. And if there are restrictions on the ebook file we’ll figure something out : ) The comments will remain open through February 3 and I’ll announce the winner on Monday, Feb. 4. Thanks for stopping by!