2020 Goals | Blogging, Social Media, and Personal Goals

There have been a lot of things going on in my life lately and so I’m just getting around to writing down my goals for 2020. My husband was in the hospital at the end of 2019 and recovery has been an adjustment for our family.  We are a tight-knit family and will get through this together. But this incident explains some of my personal goals for the year.  It is so important to be present in your life and make the most of every situation. Life always goes on, and it is the perspective that you see, that makes the difference.  You can play the victim or look at it as all being a part of God’s plan and things happen for the reason. We may not understand it all at the time, but we have faith.

Love your family and love, even more, when things get hard. ❤

My 2020 Goals

Reading Goals

 

  1. Read and complete 50 books. I am not counting my DNF towards this goal.more books
  2. Don’t over request books on NetGalley. This is a stretch for me. I really want to rein this in so that I can better manage my feedback ratio. Taking a break from blogging really damaged this percentage.
  3. Focus more on books that I own.  I have an extensive TBR list and it would be nice to check some of those off.

Blogging Goals

Happy Blogging

  1. Get on a posting schedule so that I can better balance my life and my blog.
  2. Review at least 90% of the books I read this year
  3. Post Monthly Updates/Recaps
  4. Participate in 3 readathons
  5. Build my readership up to more than 20 readers a day
  6. Participate regularly in First Line Fridays
  7. Participate in Blog Tours/Book Tours as my schedule allows
  8. First guest post on another blog.
  9. Set up metrics/stats

Social Media GoalsFor The Love Of Books

 

  1. Have fun with social media. I don’t want to fall into a trap of being stressed out by setting rigid posting expectations for myself.
  2. Cross-post reviews onto social Media
  3. Set up metrics/stats
  4. Learn and post to insta stories regularly. (I’m a little late to this, I know)

Personal GoalsLove

  1. Work on finding balance in my life.
  2. Remember to take life one day at a time
  3. Enjoy life, IN the moment
  4. Be present for my kids and husband
  5. Self Care
    • Journal daily
    • Drink more water
    • Exercise more
  • Listen to my body and better manage my chronic illnesses

What are your goals for this year?

Whatever they may be, don’t forget to

LIVE, LAUGH & LOVE

 

March Recap

Blog Update

The meaning of bibliovert

This year seems to be flying by! I don’t know how it can possibly be April already! Thank you to those of you that follow, read, comment and like posts on The Bibliovert.  I appreciate it!  This blog started as a way to keep track of the books I’ve read and to share my thoughts. It has become so much more than that because of you. I want to thank you for that support! ❤

Monthly Recap

Reading

In the month of March, I completed six books and didn’t finish one.

Readathon

This last weekend ( 3/30-3/31 ) I participated in a mini-readathon called #8inTwo.  This was coordinated through @25in5 on Instagram.  It was great fun! Saturday I was able to complete 4 hours and 20 minutes.  However, Sunday, when I went to pause my timer, I realized I had cleared it out. So, in all honesty, I’m not sure how much reading was completed on Sunday.  I do know that I didn’t make the full 8 hours. But, it was fun anyway. It was a great chance to interact with others that were completing this readathon and a good excuse to curl up with a book and read.

Reading Challenge Status (*through 3/2019)

Goodreads Reading Challenge *Click here for details on the challenge

  • My goal for this challenge is: 40Goodreads
  • Number of books completed this year: 14
  • Number of books completed this month: 6
    • Beautiful Bad by Annie Ward
    • The Perfect Girlfriend by Karen Hamilton
    • How Not To Write Bad by Ben Yagoda
    • The Bookshop by Penelope Fitzgerald
    • The Night Before by Wendy Walker
    • The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod
  • Number of books left to complete the challenge: 26

Beat The Backlist hosted by The Novel Knight (Any book published in 2018 or before  *Click here for more details on this challenge.)Button for the 2019 Beat The Backlist hosted by Novel Knight

  • My goal for this challenge is: 30
  • Number of books completed this year: 9
  • Number of books completed this month: 3
    • How Not To Write Bad by Ben Yagoda
    • The Bookshop by Penelope Fitzgerald
    • The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod
  • Number of books left to complete the challenge: 21

Library Love Challenge by Angels Guilty Pleasures (Any book borrowed from the library in  any format *Click here for details on the challenge)

  • Library Love 2019My goal for this challenge is: 12
  • Number of books completed this year: 6
  • Number of books completed this month: 1
    • How Not To Write Bad by Ben Yagoda
  • Number of Books Left to Complete: 6

Goals for April

  • Read 4 books
  • Continue with WWW Wednesday posts *hosted by Taking on a World of Words
  • Continue with First Line Friday Posts *hosted by It’s Not Hoarding If It’s Books
  • Work to be more interactive on Twitter and Instagram
  • I am going to attend my first book club! This is exciting, yet nerve-wracking.
  • I am jumping back into blog tours! I’m currently scheduled for one at this time, but there may be more depending on openings and availability that fit the niche of The Bibliovert.
  • Bookending Spring 2019 Event: I will be participating in this event that is put on by Sam and Clo, with the collaboration of some other amazing bloggers.  If you’re interested in learning more about this event, visit Fictionally Sam.

 

How are you doing on your reading goals for 2019?

What are your goals for April?

 

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Blog Tour: The Company of Demons by Michael Jordan |Excerpt, Q & A, & a #Giveaway

Book Cover

Author: Michael Jordan

Paperback: 344 pages

Publisher: Greenleaf Book Group Press (January 16, 2018)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1626344515

ISBN-13: 978-1626344518

Buy it here: Amazon |Barnes & Noble | IndieBound |Books-A-Million

 

Blurb

The brutal murder of a friend leaves lawyer John Coleman stunned and sends shock waves through the city of Cleveland. The technique of the killing recalls memories of the Torso Murderer, who dismembered at least twelve people decades ago and vanished–eluding even the legendary Eliot Ness. Jennifer, the victim’s beautiful daughter, hires John to handle her father’s estate, and romantic feelings for her soon complicate his already troubled marriage. When John finds himself entangled with a cold-blooded biker gang, an ex-cop with a fuzzy past, and the drug-addicted son of the dead man, he struggles to make sense of it all. But he cannot escape a growing sense of dread.

Excerpt

A deep breath helped to calm me. Oyster’s death had brought an ugly past alive. Just as I’d been assuring everyone, though, there was nothing wrong. My main task for the day was to pick Molly up after school and hope that she wouldn’t be too disappointed when she learned that we wouldn’t be visiting the skateboard park. We would head straight home for a quiet, uneventful spaghetti dinner. Cathy would have polished and set the oaken table. We would talk of things other than serial killers. She would remind me of her upcoming birthday dinner, with her sister and brother-in-law. Her parents would stare down at us from faded color photographs arranged in thin wooden frames on checkered blue-and-white wallpaper. There were photographs of my mom, too, with her tight-lipped smile.

One photo of my father, handsome in a blue uniform, hung on the wall. Whenever Cathy said grace, my eyes would wander to the particular picture, and I would recall games of catch, walleye fishing on the lake, our hikes through the Metroparks. We’d wander the trails there most Saturday mornings, just my dad and me. Afterward, he’d take me to Pete’s Hotdogs on Lorain, and we’d gorge on dogs stuffed into steamed buns and topped with local Stadium mustard and greasy fried onions. Those were the memories I’d try to focus on.

But I could never, ever block out the rest.

Questions and Answers From Mr. Michael Jordan

Your best virtue as an author.

Perseverance. Even when feeling really discouraged, I am able to sit down at my desk and continue writing.

Your most quirky author habit.

Rewarding myself with a square of chocolate or a cup of coffee when I think that I’ve written something that works.

If you could ask any other author, past or present, a question who would it be and what would you ask.

I would ask Edgar Allan Poe to tell me everything he could about writing The Raven.

When you aren’t writing…

I am feeling guilty about not writing!

Your ideal writing place.

Anyplace where it is quiet and I can be alone.

The book you’ve re-read the most.

Tarzan of the Apes

First thing you do when you finish writing a novel.

I never felt as though The Company of Demons was finished! I kept tweaking the manuscript until it was submitted to the publisher, then worked with the editor on further re-writes, and then dove into marketing!

 A secret talent you have.

I am oddly flexible.

One tip for aspiring authors.

When you think you’re done, you aren’t. Let your work sit for at least one month and then read it again, with a critical eye, from the opening sentence.

What kind of research do you do and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

For The Company of Demons, I read non-fiction works about The Torso Murderer, including contemporaneous newspaper and magazine accounts. This took place over several months as the plot began to develop. For my second book, a WWII thriller set during the closing stages of the war, the research has been far more complex as it takes place in a timeframe and setting that are foreign to me. For example, because the story is set in New Mexico, I’ve made five trips there to understand the culture, history, flora, fauna, and climate.

What does literary success look like to you?

When a stranger tells me how much they liked the book.

What inspires you?

A feeling that I am creating something unique that people will enjoy and remember. .

10 tips for becoming a better writer.

  1. Persevere.
  2. Apply ass to the chair and go to work.
  3. Research and get your facts straight.
  4. Seek out exceptional readers who will offer constructive criticism.
  5. Accept constructive criticism.
  6. Work with an editor.
  7. Rewrite.
  8. Rewrite again. And again.
  9. Show don’t tell—everyone recites this, too few do it.
  10. Persevere. Yes, again. You will become discouraged. See tip number 2 above.

About the Author

Author image

 

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Book Video

Michael Jordan obtained his undergraduate degree from Ohio Wesleyan University, with highest honors, and his law degree from George Washington University, where he was a member of the Law Review. A trial lawyer and arbitrator for over three decades, he has been recognized as an Ohio Super Lawyer and named to Best Lawyers in America. A member of the International Association of Crime Writers, The Company of Demons is his first novel.

An avid traveler, Michael has climbed Mt. Fuji, swam in The Devil’s Pool on the cusp of Victoria Falls, trekked a glacier in Patagonia, and visited numerous other countries. Yes—an international thriller lies in the future! He has also acted in several theatrical productions and his experience on stage is helpful in creating characters for his novels. He is currently working on his next book, a thriller set during the closing stages of WWII.

A native of Saginaw, Michigan, Michael and his wife, Linda Gross Brown, a soft pastel artist, divide their time between homes in Rocky River, Ohio, and Longboat Key, Florida. They enjoy traveling, pleasure boating, and very cold martinis.

Enter to win a $50 Gift card! Click on the link below!

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I would like to thank Michael Jordan and Goddess Fish Promotions for allowing me to be a part of this blog tour. 

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Blog Tour: Painless by Marty Thornly

PainlessTourBannerPainless by Marty Thornley Cover Image

Author: Marty Thornley 

Print Length: 284 pages

Publication Date: January 12, 2018

ISBN: 97819785120

Genre: Suspense, Thriller, Horror

Buy it here: Amazon

 

Blurb

PAINLESS is a page-turning psychological-horror novel, a front row seat to a clinical trial gone horribly wrong.

For Greg Owens, this was supposed to be a chance to end years of back pain and escape his reliance on pain pills. If it all worked out, he could maybe even get back the life he left behind as the pills took control.

Instead, as the patients are cured of their physical pain, they encounter a different sort of pain building inside them – obsessive thoughts, depression, self-destruction. The side-effects grow worse, and the suspense ratchets tighter. The patients want answers and violent revenge, setting them on a collision course with a crazed doctor, determined to protect his life’s obsession.

Excerpt

Streams of smoke and steam rise into the sky from the burnt underside of a car, wrecked and resting on its roof. The heat of the engine and exhaust distorts the air above, and the metal crackles as it cools in the breeze of early morning.

1965 Cadillac Coupe De Ville. Black. It still has that new-car shine. Even with the wreckage of the crash, it is evident the car was cleaned and cared for. The tires, still spinning, slowly come to a stop.

A small hand reaches from the broken back window. A boy drags himself carefully out of the twisted, broken door. Blood drips from his scalp, down his face and onto his suit—disheveled from the crash but cleaned and ironed just a couple of hours ago.

He stands and, though only seven-years-old, stumbles and braces himself against the car like a drunk who just pulled himself out of his own wreck. For a moment he looks out into the distance.

It is quiet here.

The pine trees lining this lonely stretch of road are swayed by an almost silent wind. Behind the seemingly endless forest, snow-capped mountains stand indifferently.

A woman moans in pain.

The boy moves forward, making his way around the back of the car, bracing himself on the tail light, the license plate, the bumper. He rounds the corner to the driver’s side. A woman’s head and arms hang out of the driver’s window. A pool of blood spreads around her.

“Mama?”

She tries to smile. Blood drips from her lips.

“Does it hurt?”

She reaches for the back of her neck. “I can’t… get it…” Her fingers grasp a shard of metal that has pierced her spine. “Agh!”

The boy moves aside her hair, exposing an angled fragment of chrome window trim—embedded deep in her neck, its bent and twisted length shooting through a ragged and bleeding gash of skin. As his fingers brush against the shiny protrusion, she closes her eyes and clamps her mouth shut—refusing the pain and stifling a scream.

“I… need… you to… pull it…”

The boy tugs. The metal moves.

“AHHHHHHHH!”

The boy hesitates.

“PULL IT!”

He tugs again. The chrome spike slides out of her neck. Blood splashes off the end and splatters his face.

A serene calm washes over Mama’s face.

“Thank you, baby. It doesn’t hurt anymore.”

“It doesn’t?”

Mama smiles. Her hand reaches up, wiping the blood from her son’s face with her thumb.

The boy smiles back.

Mama’s hand goes limp and drops away. Mama’s eyes gloss over.

“Mama?”

Mama is dead.

A drop of crimson pools at the tip of the sharp and twisted chrome, still held tightly in his fingers, finally building the critical mass to drip down into the dirt between his feet.

The boy stares down. Cold and calculating.

My review of Painless can be read here.

About the Author

Marty Thornley, Author of PainlessMarty started writing short stories as a teenager, inspired as much by favorite books and movies as the environment and characters that define the South Shore of Massachusetts. The pull of the movies dragged him first to film school and finally to Los Angeles, where he poked at the outskirts of the industry with screenplays and short films.

As his interest in a film career fizzled, he rebuilt himself bit-by-bit as a programmer. He spent the next decade building websites, finally realizing that something had been lost. His stories were collecting dust in the back of his brain while he sat through conference calls and code reviews.

So he returned to the woods of New England and the calming darkness under the trees. He returned to find the things that crawl in the undergrowth and turn them into words on the page. He dusted off one of his screenplays and turned it into his first novel. In the process, a dormant storyteller was awakened and is now seeking the next blank page to fill.

Website | GoodReads | Twitter

I would like to thank Marty Thornley and Xpresso Tours for allowing me to be a part of this blog tour.

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Blog Tour: The Savage Shore by David Hewson

The Savage Shore CoverAuthor: David Hewson

Category: Crime & Mystery – Police Procedural

Hardcover: 288 pages

Publisher: Severn House Publishers Ltd; First World Publication ed. edition (31 July 2018)

ISBN-10: 0300220413

ISBN-13: 978-0300220414

Buy it here:  Amazon UK | Amazon US

Blurb

Roman police detective Nic Costa has been sent undercover to Italy’s beautiful, remote Calabrian coast to bring in the head of the feared mob, the ‘Ndrangheta, who has offered to turn state witness for reasons of his own.

Hoping to reel in the biggest prize the state police have seen in years, the infamous Butcher of Palermo, Costa and his team are aware the stakes are high. But the constant deception is taking its toll. Out of their depth in a lawless part of Italy where they are the outcasts, not the men in the hills, with their shotguns and rough justice, the detectives find themselves pitched as much against one another as the mob. As the tension rises, it’s clear the operation is not going to plan. Is Nic Costa getting too close to the enemy for comfort – and is there a traitor among them …?

Excerpt

From: Part One

At three o’clock on a sweltering late summer afternoon Emmanuel Akindele sat behind the counter of the Zanzibar feeding Jackson the marmoset his first fierce cocktail of the day.

A thin, nervy thirty-year-old, Emmanuel had been rescued off Lampedusa the previous spring. Two thousand dollars that cost him to the Libyan people smugglers, pretty much all his family back home in a Lagos slum possessed. He’d thought himself dead already by the time the Red Cross boat came along and pulled him from a sea so cold it seemed to freeze his bones.

Now, in a kind of life, he spent hour upon hour with this sad and savage little animal, a miserable bundle of bone and fur, barely the size of a cat. Something trapped and helpless, and probably beyond hope. The creature kept thrusting a skinny arm through the bars of its rusty metal cage, holding out a grubby shot glass. A simian alcoholic and Emmanuel couldn’t think of anything else but to dull its senses in place of his own.

He’d inherited Jackson when the gang boss put him into the Zanzibar nine months earlier, after he’d earned what the mob men called promotion from pushing cheap counterfeit bags to the tourists on the beach at Locri. The creature was part of the furniture in the cramped, windowless bar, like the broken Playboy pin table, the cheap paintings of Marilyn Monroe, the satellite TV system with an illegal card to pick up premium sports channels from around the world.

He’d thought about letting the monkey go. About driving out of the grey and sprawling city to one of the bare back roads that led to the desolate hills rising from the coast. There the sparse tracts of scrappy brown vegetation reminded him of the countryside back home. He could see himself taking the cage out of the boot and watching the scrawny broken animal limp off into the dry, barren lower reaches of Aspromonte, the sprawling mountain that rose behind Italy’s extended toe like the humped back of a slumbering giant.

Jackson would be a corpse in a few hours, a day at most. Nothing foreign lived long in that bleak wasteland. Some things were dead before they even got there. The gang men who employed him, members of the Calabrian mafia, the ’Ndrangheta, saw the place, with its wildernesses full of snakes and spiders and, some said, wolves too, as their natural home. The worst thing that could happen to a man was to be told he was going for a ‘walk in the hills’. You never came back. This was where the mobsters took their victims, where they hid the men and women they kidnapped for money, slicing off a finger or an ear when they needed to raise the temperature a little. Even life in a cage, begging for drinks, getting laughed at by the scum who made up the Zanzibar’s clientele, was better than abandonment in that brutal, inhospitable expanse of desolate rock and thorns. 

 

About the Author

David Hewson ImageDavid Hewson is a former journalist with The Times, The Sunday Times and the Independent. He is the author of more than twenty-five novels including his Rome-based Nic Costa series which has been published in fifteen languages. He has also written three acclaimed adaptations of the Danish TV series, The Killing. He lives near Canterbury in Kent.

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Severn House Publishers | Love Books Group Tours

 

I would like to thank Mr. HewsonSevern House Publishers, and Love Books Group Tours for allowing me to be a part of this blog tour. Please feel free to stop by and check out the other bloggers that are on this tour!  See the list below!

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Blog Tour: Death By The River (Guest Post | Excerpt | Giveaway)

Death By The River Cover Image

Author: Alexandrea Weis & Lucas Astor 

Print Length: 366 Pages

Published by: Vesuvian Books

Publication date: October 2nd 2018

Genres: Horror, Young Adult

Buy it here:  Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo

Guest Post

Topic:  What kind of research do you do and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

In writing any story, I spend hours doing research. I always strive for accuracy in my portrayals of the characters, places, and events. In Death by the River, my medical background helped tremendously with the telling of Beau Devereaux’s descent into madness. Having medical experience, and a history of seeing people at their best and worst, made me a better writer. Nursing also taught me to research my tail off. And that, too, has carried over to my writing. Research is key to any story. If it is as close to reality as possible, it will draw the reader in and hold them throughout. Many times, I read a book and people have not bothered to get proper medical advice or looked up even the simplest of details related to medicine or the human body. Do your research as a writer. If you don’t, you will lose your audience. Seek out people who know the industry you are writing about, or at least check with Google. I have many writers who contact me to help them with medical questions, and I am happy to give them advice. This need for research also applies to locations.

I live in New Orleans, one of the most written about cities in the world, but checking websites and looking at pictures or webcams of Bourbon Street does not give you the subtle nuances that make up a city. You must immerse yourself in all the senses: the sights, sounds, tastes, and experiences of the people who live there. I do not mean you have to travel, but do your homework on a city or setting. To engage the reader, they need to feel they are there. For example, you can’t stroll through the French Quarter without describing the music coming through open french doors, the essence of cayenne, paprika, or alcohol lingering in the air. How do the people act? What is the weather like? What are their favorite foods, their culture, their heartaches as a community? To place a character in a hometown, know that town and the people in it. A reader who travels through your words to that destination and gets lost in the story will know you have done your research. In the end, being dogmatic about everything you put into a story and checking all the facts twice will benefit you and your audience. And you never know, something you learn might lead to a new plot twist, a new book, or even a great series.

Blurb

A High School “American Psycho”

SOME TRUTHS ARE BETTER KEPT SECRET.
SOME SECRETS ARE BETTER OFF DEAD.

Along the banks of the Bogue Falaya River, sits the abandoned St. Francis Seminary. Beneath a canopy of oaks, blocked from prying eyes, the teens of St. Benedict High gather here on Fridays. The rest of the week belongs to school and family—but weekends belong to the river.

And the river belongs to Beau Devereaux.

The only child of a powerful family, Beau can do no wrong. Handsome. Charming. Intelligent. The star quarterback of the football team. The “prince” of St. Benedict is the ultimate catch.

He is also a psychopath.

A dirty family secret buried for years, Beau’s evil grows unchecked. In the shadows of the ruined St. Francis Abbey, he commits unspeakable acts on his victims and ensures their silence with threats and intimidation. Senior year, Beau sets his sights on his girlfriend’s headstrong twin sister, Leslie, who hates him. Everything he wants but cannot have, she will be his ultimate prize.

As the victim toll mounts, it becomes crystal clear that someone has to stop Beau Devereaux.

And that someone will pay with their life.

WARNING: Readers of Death by the River will encounter situations of violence and sexual abuse which could be upsetting to the reader.

Abandon hope all ye who enter here …

Excerpt

Leslie clung to him, wishing they were outside. “What is this place?”

“The cells.” Derek kept his voice low.

She squeezed his bicep. “I’ve never been inside The Abbey.” Leslie peered into the dim, cavernous corridor ahead, with only patches of light coming through the thick stone walls. “I wish we hadn’t come.”

“It will be fine, I promise.” He patted her hand. “Nothing will hurt you. I won’t let it.”

They crept along, their feet hitting sticks and fallen pieces of plaster from the crumbling walls around them. Puddles of water dotted the uneven stone floor and dampened Leslie’s tennis shoes. Mounds of dead leaves lay swept to the side. The low ceiling had roots coming through it, and the walls were cold and slimy to the touch. Derek shined his flashlight into the first room on the left. It was a depressingly small space composed of four walls and no windows.

It reminded Leslie of a jail cell rather than a place where a person would choose to live.

Scraps of paper littered the ground of the next cell they came across; another had a rusty metal frame of a bed. Several of the rooms had cracks in their plaster ceilings along with patches of mold. When they stumbled on a few rat skeletons, Leslie turned her head into Derek’s shoulder.

At the end of the passageway, sunlight snuck through a break in the wall. The intrusion of light was a welcome sight and Leslie’s fear abated. The jagged opening allowed green leaves from the plants outside to reach in, and a few creeping vines jutted up toward the ceiling. Along the floor, a thick pile of dead leaves hid the lower part of the opening.

“There was a cave-in along the wall here.” Derek brushed the leaves aside, revealing a fairly large breach able to accommodate one person at a time. “The other cells past this point are too dangerous to explore. We can get out here and avoid going back through The Abbey.”

Derek turned off his flashlight and handed it to her. He pushed the leaves back, pulled the vines down, and kicked the debris at the bottom away, trying to clear the opening.

While he worked, a glimmering light from inside one of the cells farther down the corridor distracted her. She flipped on the flashlight and angled it into the tight quarters beyond the cave-in.

The walls in this portion of the cells had deeper cracks than the rest of the structure. The fissures ran along the entire ceiling and down to the floors. Patches of black mold were everywhere. What struck her as odd was the lack of debris. It appeared as if it had been freshly swept without any leaves or rat skeletons littering the ground.

Derek came up behind her. “What are you doing?”

Leslie headed toward the room where she’d spotted the strange light. “I saw something.”

The smell of rot and mold filled her nose. Her skin brushed against the slimy walls, and she cringed. But something compelled her to keep going into the section Derek had deemed too dangerous to explore.

“Leslie, stop.”

Naturally, she ignored him and pressed on, testing the floor with the toe of her shoe as she carefully progressed. Her heartbeat kicked up a notch, but this time a tingling sensation of excitement went with it. She felt like Indiana Jones exploring a lost tomb and waiting for a booby trap to jump out at her.

Her beam of light filtered into the room, and her heart crept higher in her throat. She rounded the edge of the wall and halted.

The cell was small without any windows, but this room appeared lived in. Along the far wall, below a pair of rusted pipes where a sink had once been, a green cot—army issue—had a pillow and green blanket neatly stacked on top. At the foot of the cot was a blue ice chest; on top of it, an assortment of red and white candles.

Leslie went up to the cot and caressed the blanket and pillows. Her foot tapped something beneath. She bent down and discovered an old CD player.

What’s this?

Footfalls came from behind her. She swerved the flashlight around to Derek, fuming.

“Did you do this?”

“Do what?” He shielded his eyes from the light and stepped inside.

She wanted to believe he had no idea any of this was here, but her suspicions couldn’t be silenced. The whole scenario seemed so well-planned.

“What the hell?” Derek came up to the cot and lifted the pillow.

She stood back, studying his reaction as he browsed the contents of the room. “I thought you said this portion was dangerous.”

“It is.”

About the Author

Lucas Author ImageLucas Astor is from New York, has resided in Central America and the Middle East, and traveled through Europe. He lives a very private, virtually reclusive lifestyle, preferring to spend time with a close-knit group of friends than be in the spotlight.

He is an author and poet with a penchant for telling stories that delve into the dark side of the human psyche. He likes to explore the evil that exists, not just in the world, but right next door behind a smiling face.

Photography, making wine, and helping endangered species are just some of his interests. Lucas is an expert archer and enjoys jazz, blues, and classical music.

One of his favorite quotes is:  “It’s better to be silent than be a fool.”  ~Harper Lee (To Kill a Mockingbird)

 

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Alexandrea Author Image
Alexandrea Weis is an advanced practice registered nurse who was born and raised in New Orleans. Having been brought up in the motion picture industry, she learned to tell stories from a different perspective and began writing at the age of eight. Infusing the rich tapestry of her hometown into her award-winning novels, she believes that creating vivid characters makes a story memorable. A permitted/certified wildlife rehabber with the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries, Weis rescues orphaned and injured wildlife. She lives with her husband and pets in New Orleans.

Website | Twitter |GoodReads

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Enter To Win:

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Vesuvian Media Group. There will be 1 winner of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card. The giveaway begins on October 1, 2018 and runs through December 3, 2018. Void where prohibited.

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I would like to thank Alexandrea Weis, Lucas Astor,  Vesuvian Books and Partners In Crime Book Tours for allowing me to be a part of this blog tour. If you would like to visit the other blogs on the tour check  click here to view the other participants

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Blog Tour: Chasing Monsters by Paul Harrison | Excerpt

Chasing Monsters_chosen.indd

Author: Paul Harrison

Print Length: 389 pages

Publisher: Urbane Publications Limited (October 4, 2018)

Publication Date: October 4, 2018

ASIN: B07H3Y5JGL

Buy it here: Amazon UK | Amazon

Blurb

The first thrilling book in the Will Scott series.

In a sleepy northern seaside resort, The Eastborough Police Force is shocked into action when a heavily mutilated body is found in a quiet suburb. Murder rarely happens in these parts. Within a short space of time, the body count begins to rise rapidly, as a serial killer runs amok.

DI Will Scott is tasked with finding the murderer. In so doing he treads paths he never expected to traverse and uncovers a web of deceit where no one can be trusted.

The killer relentlessly continues to strike terror across the community, but without warning, the killing ground changes. Where will the killer strike next …?

About the Author

Author PhotoPaul Harrison has spent much of his professional life working within the UK’s criminal justice system, primarily as a police officer. Working closely with the now-defunct FBI Behavioural Science Unit in Quantico, he gained a unique and remarkable insight into the minds of some of the world s most violent criminals. His conversation portfolio reads like a Who’s Who of murderers. As an author, he s penned thirty-three traditionally published books (mainly true crime) and completed his first novel last year. A seasoned event speaker, Paul is popular across the entire crime genre (fiction and non-fiction). He s in discussion with several TV production companies across the globe for future Crime related television series. Paul currently lives in Leeds.

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Excerpt

CHAPTER TWO

As he turned into Bessingby Gate, Will was confronted by a crowd of people who were standing across the road and effectively blocking it. Most of them were morbid onlookers satiating their sanguinary desires, and hoping to get a snippet of detail, no matter how farfetched, that they could turn into fact.

‘Why the fuck are these people here?’ he muttered to himself, giving his car horn three distinct blasts in an attempt to get people to move. The assembled throng begrudgingly parted, allowing his car to slowly move between them and up to the police cordon. As he parked up and got out of his car, he heard a voice he instantly recognised, ‘Will, Will, DI Scott.’ Looking up, the detective saw Lucien Palmer, local journalist on the Bridlington Free Press. The two men had grown up as friends, both respected each other’s professional position and never pushed the respective boundaries. Lucien wanted a story, whereas Will didn’t yet have a story to give him. He gave a nod of acknowledgement as he ducked and moved through the ribbon of blue and white police cordon tape.

It was a warm humid night which didn’t help with the crowd’s behaviour. Many had been drinking and were full of Dutch courage, shouting obscenities at the officers guarding the property. Jeff Powell, an experienced uniform sergeant, moved forward to greet the detective. ‘Sorry to call you out sir, but we had no option.’

‘No problem Jeff, we need to get this crowd well away from the scene, get the dog handlers down here to help move them.’ Both men moved slowly towards the front garden of the property.

‘Run me through what’s happened, who was first on scene and make sure we have full details of everyone who has been inside the house.’

‘The first officers to arrive were PCs Smith and Gaskell. They’re at the front gate if you need to speak to them. The only people to have entered the house are those two PCs and myself.’

Will approached PC Smith and asked what he knew.

‘Sir, pardon my French, but its fucking grim in there,’ he nodded towards the house.  Will frowned and thanked Smith for his thorough appraisal of the situation.

‘Jeff, can you arrange for a forensic tent to be erected outside the front door. Without seeing the internal layout, is it worth having a second one set up at the rear?’

‘Yes sir, I’ll get forensics to sort that once they get here.’

The detective was deep in thought. ‘I don’t suppose you know who the victim is, it’s probably going to be one of our usual CRO’s isn’t it? So next of kin are bound to be local. Can you get someone to speak with the immediate neighbours on each side of the property, Jeff?  Once they know anything, come directly to me, I

don’t want loose talk so the officer is to tell no one else.’

‘He’s not CRO sir, I’ve never clapped eyes on him before this evening. I’ll get all of that done straight away. Do you want me to take you to the crime scene and show you the body?’

Will was showing some reluctance in entering the house, he wasn’t good with the unique smell of murder nor with dead bodies, yet he knew he had to confront this one as senior investigating officer.

‘Yes please, Jeff, go and get an officer to speak with neighbours and visit those premises I mentioned, and I’ll grab us a couple of Tyvek suits.’

Minutes later, Scott and Powell were donning the high-density polythene forensic suits., They were far from flattering, but they were super-efficient at keeping crime scene areas sterile and free from cross-contamination. As they walked towards the bright red front door, Powell grabbed the detective by the left arm and stopped him in his tracks. ‘Sir, it’s like PC Smith said, it’s fucking gruesome in there, and it stinks to high heaven.’ Will nodded but in his own mind he thought the sergeant meant the house was unclean and smelled dirty.

He followed his colleague into the house, first passing along a tiny front hall and through a door on the left that led to the living room. He was surprised at how clean and smart it was, he couldn’t smell anything and wondered whether the uniform boys were taking the piss out of him. As he moved into the central area of the room, Jeff Powell stepped to one side, and pointed to an area directly in front of Will. ‘Here he is, the poor bastard’s really suffered.’

The detective’s eyes darted around the room, scanning his surroundings until they finally came to rest on the back of a man’s head. The body was seated in a wooden chair facing away from him. ‘Christ, what’s that fucking smell, has he burnt his bacon sarnies under the grill or what?’ Will gagged before stepping closer to the body, edging to a position where he was standing in front of the corpse. The sight caused him to take a deep breath. ‘Fucking hell Jeff, what is this? It’s like a scene from a slasher movie.’ He ran from the room, out into the front garden and doubled over, projectile vomited his spaghetti Bolognese dinner into the manicured green grass.

Jeff Powell emerged from the house soon after, and stood beside the detective, giving him a reassuring pat on the back, ‘I told you it was bad sir, it’s a little bit easier to stomach the second time you see it, you can kind of prepare yourself for the horror. Sir, DS Wright is here, I think you need to stand up.’

Daisy Wright was Will’s sidekick. The pair had worked together for almost two years. She slim with blonde hair neatly tied in a bun on top of her head.  Daisy had transferred on promotion to Eastborough from Northamptonshire Police two years previously. Like Will she was sharp, eagle eyed and intuitive – very little got past her.

‘You okay boss?’ she asked as she approached the doubledup form of her DI. ‘What do you think?’ he replied sarcastically. Jeff Powell walked away and left the detectives to talk between themselves. Daisy was writing down notes on a clipboard.

‘What have we got here, boss? Drug related? Have you heard about the other body in the mortuary? The police surgeon was examining it and discovered it’s got no hands and the tongue has been cut out.’

‘Christ, that sounds extreme,’ exclaimed Will ‘Two in one night. As you say, both probably drug related and territorial.’

Daisy nodded. ‘Yes, the other body was found on the beach, naked and tucked under the sea wall. Some kids found it. Poor buggers.’

Will took a deep gulp of the warm night air. ‘Daisy, this crime scene is anything but normal. Fuck, to be honest, I’ve never seen anything like this before.’ He shook his head in disbelief. ‘Get suited up, we’re going back inside. But be warned, this is the most disgusting sight you’re likely to see – this bloke is a real mess.’

Daisy had never seen her boss so shaken up and couldn’t imagine what the scene must be like to affect him so badly. Within moments, the pair entered the house, this time Will led the way. As they moved through the rooms, Daisy busily took down notes and points of interest that were identified by her boss. These areas would be further examined by forensics when they arrived. Reaching the body Will tentatively moved around the corpse until he was standing directly in front of it. He then gestured to Daisy to join him, warning her to get out of the house if she thought she was going to be sick. The smell was overpowering, it wasn’t bacon as flippantly suggested by Will a few minutes earlier but burning human flesh.

‘Think of it as an object, not a human being,’ he told his sergeant. ‘Try to detach yourself from your emotions.’ He glanced towards her and was surprised to see that she didn’t seem fazed by the horrific state of the body. ‘What do you reckon, what’re your thoughts?’

There was so much to take in. The corpse had been nailed to the chair and the floor, two large nails through the back of each hand and a further two through his feet through the carpet and into the floorboards. The body was naked, the clothes neatly folded on a sofa behind him. Dark red blood covered the groin area and pooled on the seat of the chair before dripping onto the carpet beneath. Moving up the body, Daisy noted the victim’s stomach had rows of symmetrical gouges. Both nipples had been removed, cut away, probably with a knife or scalpel. His face was simply a mess. Protruding from each eyeball was a slim wooden kebab stick, not that the eyeballs were recognisable, they had been burnt like the rest of his face. On a table nearby was a small kitchen blow torch, the obvious cause of the burning. Beside that was a cheese grater with what appeared to be human skin hanging from its rough cutting blades. The remains of the eyelids were open, only because they had been stapled into that position. As Daisy looked more closely, she thought his mouth had an odd shape about it. ‘There’s something in his mouth I think,’ she said as she pointed to a small trickle of blood running down the dead man’s chin.  Both officers knew not to touch anything until the forensics’ team had done their work.

Daisy took countless photographs of the scene and of the body in situ. She knew that forensics would be hours taking the crime scene and surrounding area apart, so it was useful to have something to work with. As she photographed all areas of the room she saw a flicker of light on a table full of papers. A laptop.

The computer lid hadn’t been closed properly, the machine was still on. She called Will. The two officers carefully opened up the screen part of the laptop, gently lifting it away from the keyboard, causing it to spark into life.

‘See if you can see what it is he’s been looking at, it might give us a clue what this bloke was up to.’

They saw a word document that held lists of names, dozens of them, none of them readily recognisable. ‘We need to seize this Daisy. Take plenty of photographs of it as we found it, make sure you record its exact position on the desk. This is so fucking weird, this guy must have been a dealer I reckon, maybe that list is all of his clients?  I can’t think of anything else that might warrant such a bloody awful death.’

Daisy agreed. Jeff Powell walked in.

‘Sir, I think we have a name for the victim,’ he said. ‘He’s not

CRO but he is known to us.’  ‘Who is it?’ enquired Daisy.

‘Allan Roberts.’

‘Will looked bemused. ‘Who the fuck is Allan Roberts when he’s at home?’

‘He’s a local councillor sir, you must know him. He’s the Crime and Disorder portfolio holder, a Conservative I think?’

‘Do we have a wife, a family, any relatives?’ asked Will.

‘Not that I know of sir, the neighbours say he lives here alone, although he does have regular visitors, but they don’t seem to stay long. He was last seen alive at about 3pm yesterday afternoon, carrying shopping from his car into the house.’

Behind Powell, a crowd of forensic officers all suited up arrived at the front door.  A gruff Yorkshire voice enquired, ‘Who is the SIO here? What have you got for us?’

Will stepped forward and ushered everyone outside the house, while he briefed Mark Daniel, the senior crime scene officer. He instructed that the body should remain in situ until he authorised its removal.

‘I want you to give this place a thorough going over please. The offender or offenders must have left their DNA all over that room. The victim has been tortured, suffering serious injuries. There is no way on earth that all of those injuries could be inflicted without leaving some trace behind. I’ve seized a laptop computer from a table in there. It may help us identify the killer or killers. I’ll show you where it was Mark, okay?’

Daisy returned to the police station ahead of Will. The forensics team were left to their scientific processes. The sheer logistics of the crime would create manpower issues for the general policing of the town and the place was packed with tourists. The presence of a second body at the mortuary added to the mayhem.

Acknowledging this, Will again approached Powell. ‘I want uniform to protect this scene until further notice, 24/7. Have we got any PCSO’s on duty or can we call some specials out to cover this Jeff. We can clear away the onlookers, take the road cordon right back in all directions and control entry and exit for the locals. I’d better get back to the nick, make some calls and arrange a press briefing. I’ll get some CID and spare uniforms down here for house to house. They can liaise with you.’  Powell nodded.

In the crowd Will saw his friend Lucien, still waiting to speak to him. He beckoned him through the cordon, away from prying ears. ‘Lucien mate, how are you?’ he said gripping the journalist’s outstretched hand.

‘I’m fine Will, how about you? I take it you’re duty officer this weekend? What’s going on – surely with all this fuss it’s got to be a

murder, another druggie I suppose?’

‘I’ll be honest Lucien, I don’t know. It’s early stages, we are obviously treating it as a suspicious incident, but I can’t say any more. I’m heading back to organise a press conference.  I’ll get the press officer to give you a call when it’s arranged and we have something to say. Please don’t promote any theories about murder or anything else. We don’t want panic, the bloody town’s busy enough already. We don’t want the curious and the morbid swarming in. I promise, once we know anything, you’ll be made aware. I have to go – my superintendent is waiting. Be safe, mate.’

As he made his way back a hundred thoughts were spinning through Will’s mind. Primarily, he needed to let Mel know he wouldn’t be home until tomorrow at the earliest.  As he pulled into one of the police parking bays in Ashville Street, a pale-looking Daisy Wright was waiting for him.

‘Christ boss, I’m shaking like a leaf. What we saw back there has just hit me. Who the hell would do something like that?’

With his arm on her shoulder Will and guided her up to the CID office.

‘Well, what the hell do we do now. Who do we notify first?’ she asked.

‘First things first Daisy. We have a mug of tea, and then we call home. Your fella needs to know that you won’t be home until God knows when, and I’m going to ring Mel. Then we prioritise our calls thereafter. We need a script to report it to the Chief and the

governors. They’ll ask the same questions and want to be absolved of any ownership or responsibility for the investigation, so we make it clear that everything is under control and that we’ll keep them updated. Don’t complicate matters by mentioning the other

body in the mortuary. We’ll deal with that shortly.’

‘I tell you what boss, if it is that Councillor Roberts, there’ll be loads of media enquiries, political interest and without doubt, interference.’

Will agreed and questioned the motive for killing a mere councillor in such a horrific manner.

‘If it is him, then he must have seriously pissed someone off. It’s not like his position is full time or controversial even, he’s an amateur politician living in a little Yorkshire seaside town. He’s hardly likely to be involved in anything of national importance. I always think that people connected to the local authority tend to be a bit wishy washy. Once we’ve notified everyone who needs to know we can start digging into his background. It would be a whole lot easier if he had previous for something.’

Buy it here: Amazon UK | Amazon

I would like to thank Paul Harrison, Urbane Books and Love Books Group Tours for allowing me to be a part of this blog tour. Please feel free to stop by and check out the other bloggers that are on this tour!  See the list below!

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Blog Tour: Arcam by Jason Minick

cover

 

Author: Jason Minick

Print Length: 396 pages

Publisher: J.Minick Books; 2 edition (March 25, 2018)

Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC

ASIN: B07C974VJL

Buy it here: Amazon UK | Amazon

 

Blurb

A FAST-PACED CRIME/CONSPIRACY THRILLER THAT IS FULL OF SUSPENSE:

DCI Jack Robson believes he is hunting a kidnapper…

Away from his posting in London, Robson is asked to lead an investigation in the south west of England. But what begins as a baffling local kidnapping mystery, quickly escalates into something far more sinister.

In pursuit of the perpetrators, DCI Robson joins forces with Inspector Emma Wilson and the rest of the regional CID team. Together, they attempt to make sense of the lack of evidence or motive, eventually getting drawn to the tiny island of Steep
Holm, in the Bristol Channel.

As the investigation progresses, Robson, Wilson and their colleagues find themselves facing something far beyond normal detective work. Unthinkable connections lead them to a conspiracy, so great it could change the course of humanity. The question is, can they intervene before it’s too late to prevent the appalling future that potentially lies ahead …

Excerpt

Excerpt of Arcam by Jason Minick

About the Author

Author

Jason Minick is an engineer living in the south-west of England. He has a passion for the written word and reading.

Jason is a fan of many genres. His debut novel, Arcam, is a crime/conspiracy thriller set in his favorite part of the UK.

He lives with his wife, Emma, and his three children, Lucy, William and Sophie. The family share their home with two very small dogs, Digby and Tizzie.

The author is currently working on the second book in the DCI Robson series, the sequel to Arcam.

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I would like to thank Jason Minick and Love Books Group Tours for allowing me to be a part of this blog tour. Please feel free to stop by and check out the other bloggers that are on this tour!  See the list below!

 

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Blog Tour: Stealth By Hugh Fraser

Stealth by Hugh Fraser, ‘Stealth’ is book 4 in the bestselling Rina Walker series, following ‘Harm’, ‘Threat’ and ‘Malice’.
Release Date: October 4, 2018

 

Author:  Hugh Fraser

Paperback: 360 pages

Category: Thriller, Crime

Publisher: Urbane Publications (October 4, 2018)

ISBN-10: 1911583662

ISBN-13: 978-1911583660

Buy it here: Amazon UK | Amazon

Blurb

‘Stealth’ is book 4 in the bestselling Rina Walker series, following ‘Harm’, ‘Threat’ and ‘Malice’.

When a step out of line means a fight to the death… London 1967 A working girl is brutally murdered in a Soho club. Rina Walker takes out the killer and attracts the attention of a sinister line-up of gangland enforcers with a great deal to prove. When a member of British Military Intelligence becomes aware of her failure to fulfill a contract issued by an inmate of Broadmoor, he forces her into the deadly arena of the Cold War, with orders to kill an enemy agent. Rina needs to call upon all her dark skills, not simply to survive, but to protect the ones she loves.

Guest Post By Author Hugh Fraser


Background to the Rina Walker Series

Black and white photographs of Roger Mayne and Bert Hardy

I have always collected the black and white photographs of Roger Mayne and Bert Hardy who captured so many evocative images of the poverty and dilapidation of the post-war inner cities. Roger Mayne’s series depicting the street life of Notting Hill and North Kensington in the 1950s I found particularly evocative, with Teddy Boys in their drainpipe trousers and drape jackets, and Teddy Girls in pencil skirts and tailored jackets with velvet collars, strutting their stuff, while raggedy little kids in threadbare clothes play football and hopscotch, or gather on the steps of the tenements. I became familiar with this world when I lived in Notting Hill as a student, in the early 1960s, also with the occasionally dangerous atmosphere of the pubs and clubs of the area where there’d often be a group of men in dark suits and Fedora hats, that one would treat with caution. With racial tension very much alive, in the period preceding the Notting Hill Race riots, there was frequently a certain tension in the air. It was in this neighborhood and this kind of poverty that I imagined my heroine Rina Walker growing up, the daughter of a recently murdered gangster and an alcoholic mother, forced into a life of crime at an early age in order to care for and support her two younger siblings and all too soon acquiring the skills and expertise of a contract killer.

About the Author

Author Photo_Hugh_Frazer-745x1024

 

Hugh Fraser is best known for playing Captain Hastings in Agatha Christie’s ‘Poirot’ and the Duke of Wellington in ‘Sharpe’. His films include Patriot Games, 101 Dalmatians, The Draughtsman’s Contract and Clint Eastwood’s Firefox. In the theatre he has appeared in Teeth’n’Smiles at the Royal Court and Wyndhams and in several roles with the Royal Shakespeare Company. He also composed the theme to Rainbow!

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I would like to thank Mr. Hugh Fraser, Urbane Publications, and Love Books Group Tour for allowing me to be a part of this blog tour. Please feel free to stop by and check out the other bloggers that are on this tour!  See the list below!

 

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Blog Tour: Missing Christina by Meredith Whitford | Excerpt & Author Guest Post

Missing Christine by Meredith Whitford

 

Author: Meredith Whitford

Paperback: 266 pages

Publisher: Endeavour Media Ltd (UK) 2017

ISBN-10: 1549555057

ISBN-13: 978-1549555053

Buy it here: Amazon UK | Amazon

Blurb

As death approaches, family secrets will be revealed…

As Jaques’s mother clings to life, he and his brother Toby wait for the inevitable.

‘Not long now,’ the Doctor says grimly.

As they deal with all the business of death, Jaques reflects on his relationship with the mother he loved.

She was fun, amusing, witty – she knew how to be happy.

She was a good companion, and she was his friend.

But as the family comes to terms with their grief, they discover secrets from the past that threaten to change everything.

Can the family manage to salvage Christina’s memory and the family ties that hold them together?

And is everyone in the family being honest?

From the talented Meredith Whitford, Missing Christina is a heartfelt, gripping tale of family strife and parental love.

Guest Post By Meredith Whitford

There’s quite a lot about synaesthesia in this novel. I put this in partly for the fun of it, and because my narrator insisted on being a synaesthete. As the plot developed, it turned out to provide the solution to an old mystery – something I hadn’t seen coming until I wrote that part of the book.

As I noted at the back of the novel, synaesthesia is a gift, a sort of extra sense, that makes us synaesthetes perceive letters of the alphabet, numbers, days of the week, months of the year, often names and sometimes musical notes, as having their own distinct colors. I feel a bit silly saying that I spent most of my life thinking this was normal –until I came across an article in a magazine saying it’s quite rare and is being studied. My family looked at me as if I’d gone mad when I asked them what color Monday is to them. Poor things, they live in a monochrome world, except that my son sometimes hears musical notes as colored.

Every synaesthete has his or her own colors. To me, my first name is blue, although the letters are sky-blue (M), red (e), dark blue (r), red (e), black and silver (d), dark grey (i) brown (t), purple (h). August is a rather dull month, mostly brown despite its lovely strong yellow A. September’s much more cheerful.

So far, studies show that about 1 in 2000 people are synaesthetes. I’m rather sorry for the others. Imagine not knowing that Wednesday is green! And that the title Missing Christina is blue.

Excerpt

Usually I like New York, but not today. Not in the mood today. Noise. Rush. Hassle. Hysteria. Not a good start, when I was fighting my own hysteria.

At least the Immigration guy was friendly. Looking from me to my passport photo he did a sort of double-take and said, “Hey, man – Jaques Randall! Sir, I’ve seen all your work!” I guess he was pronouncing my name phonetically, but he got it right, Jake-wez not Jakes or the French Jacques. As I’ve had to explain virtually from the cradle, I was named after the Jaques in As You Like It, because Mum was watching the play when she went into labor with me. “Over here for filming?” the passport man went on.

“No,” I said. “My mother’s dying.”

I hadn’t said that to anyone since I left home. Saying it to strangers would make it real. Also, it was a private thing.

Because of the background noise, Passport Guy caught only the word ‛mother’ and thought I was swearing at him. Welcome to America. He was nice, though, once he understood.

Toby was waiting for me at the hospital, and of course, I hoped, because you always do stupidly hope, that he’d give me good news, that Mum was better, was recovering, crisis over. But he took little running steps forward and flung his arms around me, a thing he hadn’t done since he was about six. I hugged him, stroking his back, then held his shoulders to look at him. It was over a year since he moved to New York, and we hadn’t met in that time – twenty-two now, he was taller and thinner, and without the puppy fat he was so like Mum it shocked me. He was pale and dark-eyed as if he hadn’t slept. I suppose he hadn’t. Nor had I.

“Any news?” It was the only way I could express it.

“They said ‘sinking, but not yet.’ Christ, I’m glad you’ve come.” His voice cracked on the words. He took a deep breath. “Ready?”

“Yeah. No. Just a tick.” I took out my phone and rang home. Silvia answered on the first ring, her voice tight with fear.

“What?”

“Me. Just to tell you I’m here. At the hospital, I mean.”

“Mum?”

“Don’t know yet.”

“Oh for God’s sake, why’d you ring if you’ve nothing to tell me? Toby’s already told me not to hope – what d’you think it’s like here?”

I’d had half the night to know what it was like at home, and said so. “Silve, how are Dad and Granny?” Dad had collapsed when he heard the news. Granny wasn’t much better. We’d called the local GP, who spends so much time ministering to Dad’s hypochondria that she might as well move in with us, and she had treated them and put them to bed.

“Gran’s being brave and that’s so heart-breaking I wish she’d take that quack’s pills like Dad. He’s been doped to the eyeballs since you left.”

Oblivion always was Dad’s first recourse in any crisis. Nevertheless, I said, “But what if he, well, has to come over here?”

Silvia’s voice gentled to sadness. “He won’t want to. You know that. But I’ll try to make him – get him to… Ring me as soon as – when –”

“All right.” No point in saying more. I disconnected and followed Toby down to Intensive Care or whatever it’s called. The nurses were expecting us, and they were kind in their distracted way. One, perhaps more senior or the one used to breaking bad news, said with welcome directness that there were signs that it wouldn’t be long now. Sinking, she said. Be prepared. Perhaps only an hour or two.

I took three long breaths, the way I do before going on stage, and went into Mum’s room. She’d been in quite a bad accident, hit by a taxi, thrown into the path of another car and then to the pavement, but most of her injuries were, let’s say, not visible to visitors. All the same, I had tried to be prepared for anything. Anything except this stillness, this absence. Mum was always a restless, untidy sleeper, and I had never seen her lying flat and straight, unmoving. Jesus, how often have I been in cop or hospital shows on TV, playing everything from the bloodily dying victim to the harassed but caring young doctor – so surely this was only another film set, the nurses extras, the ward a construction of flats and backing. Any moment now the director would call “Cut!” and Mum would sit up, pull off all these tubes and drips, wait for the make-up girl to touch up those signs of injury.

The chart on the end of the bed said “DNR”. Do Not Resuscitate.

I took the chair nearest the bed and held Mum’s hand. Her hands were like mine, square and long-fingered, although her knuckles were knotty with the beginning of arthritis. Her nails had been torn and broken in the accident, and that would have distressed her, for she always took great care of them, buffing them to a diamond shine. Holding that flaccid, cool hand I said, “Mum, it’s me, it’s Jaques. Sorry I couldn’t get here sooner.” They say that hearing is the last sense to go, and I suppose that despite everything I had expected some response, but the monitors beeped on without change. I kept on talking to her. I told her Toby was here, that Dad was on his way (a lie, but it no longer mattered), I told her Hugo had another tooth and was almost crawling. I think I even talked about the weather.

Nurses came and went. A doctor swept in, saying with the supreme tact of his kind, “Not long now.” The woman with him, a medical social worker I think she said, sat down beside me and clicked the top of her pen. She had already talked to Mrs, er, Lady Randall’s other son about this, she said, but was I quite aware…

I was. Mum was a vocal, often vituperative, supporter of voluntary euthanasia and opponent of arrogant medical meddling. She always said that once your mind goes, or your faculties, you’re no longer a sentient human being, and thus better off dead, and the medical profession could keep its hands, and its tubes and respirators and wonder drugs, well away from her. She’d signed one of those Living Wills and carried a card saying so. Also, she was an organ donor – another card in her wallet said so, as did her MedicAlert bracelet (allergic to morphine.) Toby had rung home about this, and Uncle Quentin, Mum’s cousin and solicitor, had faxed some sort of consent to the hospital for her organs to be harvested. Not that anyone used the word ‘harvested’, any more than they said  ‘corpse’ or ‘body’ or ‘dead’. Euphemisms rule. Our Loved One was Helping Others Even After Her Passing.

I signed forms, then said, “What exactly happens?”

“When your mother passes, you may have a moment alone with her. Then, I’m afraid, we must move quickly. Later you can see her again if you wish. I can make all the arrangements with the funeral home if you wish.”

Toby and I exchanged a helpless glance, he looking to me because I was the eldest, me to him because I was in a foreign country. Then, together, we said, “Make the arrangements.”

Mum died about an hour later. She made a sound, really just an exhalation, nothing more than “Eh…” I wondered if she was trying to say my name. Then she just ceased to be alive. Toby and I both saw it. Her face smoothed, she looked younger. Peaceful.

I didn’t know what to do. Well, you don’t, do you? You can’t just walk out. There’s a feeling that something is expected, even required. Actors are always conscious of the audience. Yet Mum was dead, I couldn’t speak to her, she was no longer there. I kissed her forehead, then her hand. I could think of nothing to say, or not allowed. To myself, to Mum, I said, I love you, I’ll miss you, you were a good mother, my friend, we’ll all miss you, I don’t know what we’ll do without you. Toby kissed her, and I saw his lips moving as he said his own farewell. Then nurses came, and that arrogant doctor, and quite gently but firmly and with some haste, we were eased out of the room.

We held each other, too numb for tears. It wasn’t real yet. Things like this don’t really happen. They happen on TV, in the America of film. This, now, had the same lack of reality, because it just could not be true. If this had happened at home I’d have felt shock, threat, grief, but not this unreality. America made it dishonest.

But of course, it was real. My mother was dead.

About the Author

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Meredith Whitford lives in Adelaide, South Australia. She has a husband, two adult children, two grandchildren, and usually two cats.
Educated entirely after leaving school, she finally went to university as a mature-age student. She has a BA in History, English and Classics from the University of Adelaide, and in 2011 completed a Master of Creative Arts (Creative Writing) degree at Flinders University, Adelaide. Her Masters thesis was a novella, “What Became of Winifred Wimsey?”, using characters from the crime novels of Dorothy L Sayers and Margery Allingham. In 2012 she began a PhD on Margery Allingham.
She has been Director of Between Us Manuscript Assessment Service (www.betweenusmanuscripts.com) since 1998.
When she is not writing or reading (and she usually is) her hobbies are cryptic crosswords, being pedantic, and sleeping.
She suffers from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS/ME). On the up side, she has the great good luck to be a synesthete.
She can be contacted at meredithwh@yahoo.com

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