Q&A with Dan Klefstad #author of Shepherd and the Professor @danklefstad #SundayBlogShare

Welcome, Dan. Good to have you here today. Tell us a little about yourself.

I’m the host and editor of the “Read With Me” book series on NPR station WNIJ (archive: http://northernpublicradio.org/term/wnijreadwithme-book-series). I’ve interviewed dozens of authors, two of whom inspired parts of Shepherd & the Professor. For me, each interview is a master class so I guess it made sense that I’d try to write my own stories.

What is your least favourite part of the writing process?

Starting. Staring at a blank Word .doc, trying to make order out of imaginary chaos. I consider it a victory if I write one sentence that first day. Some days I’ll settle for one word. But if it’s the right word, then I’m off to the races!

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

Look up the word “exposition.” Now find a more interesting way to do that. Continue reading

Feature ~ Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

Today I’m featuring a new Contemporary  Fiction release ~ Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng.

About the book

Everything I never told youLydia is dead. But they don’t know this yet.

Lydia is the favourite child of Marilyn and James Lee; a girl who inherited her mother’s bright blue eyes and her father’s jet-black hair. Her parents are determined that Lydia will fulfill the dreams they were unable to pursue – in Marilyn’s case that her daughter become a doctor rather than a homemaker, in James’s case that Lydia be popular at school, a girl with a busy social life and the centre of every party. But Lydia is under pressures that have nothing to do with growing up in 1970s small town Ohio. Her father is an American born of first-generation Chinese immigrants, and his ethnicity, and hers, make them conspicuous in any setting.

When Lydia’s body is found in the local lake, James is consumed by guilt and sets out on a reckless path that may destroy his marriage. Marilyn, devastated and vengeful, is determined to make someone accountable, no matter what the cost. Lydia’s older brother, Nathan, is convinced that local bad boy Jack is somehow involved. But it’s the youngest in the family – Hannah – who observes far more than anyone realises and who may be the only one who knows what really happened.

Everything I Never Told You is a gripping page-turner, about secrets, love, longing, lies and race.

Celeste has very kindly shared the thoughts and ideas that prompted her to write her debut novel, Everything I Never Told You. 

My husband was reminiscing about his school days—in particular, about a friend who’d been a bit of a troublemaker in his youth. When they were seven or eight, my husband said, he’d been playing at this friend’s house and his friend had pushed his own little sister into a lake.  

It was a funny anecdote with a happy ending: the parents pulled the sister from the water, the friend was in big trouble.  But I kept thinking: what had this brother-sister relationship been like before that day? What would it be like after? And—this was the question that haunted me, perhaps because I’m a writer, perhaps because I’m a morbid thinker, perhaps simply because I’m a terrible swimmer—what if the parents hadn’t been there?

The story grew from that little seed. Lydia, drowning, was the first image I wrote.  I pictured the lake in my own hometown, a beautiful pool we called the Duck Pond.  It is small enough to see across, but a boy in my grade had nearly drowned in it when he was six or seven, and it had always seemed a bit sinister to me after that.  I imagined it at night, when it would be very quiet and the lake water would be almost black, and imagined Lydia plunging below the surface.  Then I tried to trace the story back, to figure out how she’d gotten there, and why she’d been at the pond that night.  

As the novel developed, the particulars changed: Lydia, the girl in  Everything I Never Told You, is sixteen when she drowns, and the circumstances of her death aren’t immediately clear.  But it all started with that image of a girl falling into the water.  

About the author

celeste-ng-headshot-photo-credit-kevin-day-photography-920x614Celeste Ng grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Shaker Heights, Ohio, in a family of scientists. Her fiction and essays have appeared in One Story, TriQuarterly, Bellevue Literary Review, and elsewhere, and she is a recipient of the Pushcart Prize. Currently, she lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with her husband and son.

http://www.celesteng.com 

@pronounced_ing

Praise for Everything I Never Told You 

“If we know this story, we haven’t seen it yet in American fiction, not until now… Ng has set two tasks in this novel’s doubled heart—to be exciting, and to tell a story bigger than whatever is behind the crime. She does both by turning the nest of familial resentments into at least four smaller, prickly mysteries full of secrets the family members won’t share… What emerges is a deep, heartfelt portrait of a family struggling with its place in history, and a young woman hoping to be the fulfillment of that struggle. This is, in the end, a novel about the burden of being the first of your kind—a burden you do not always survive.” — ALEXANDER CHEE, THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW

“[A]n accomplished debut… It’s also heart-wrenching. Ng deftly pulls together the strands of this complex, multigenerational novel. Everything I Never Told You is an engaging work that casts a powerful light on the secrets that have kept an American family together — and that finally end up tearing it apart.’ — LOS ANGELES TIMES

‘The mysterious circumstances of 16-year-old Lydia Lee’s tragic death have her loved ones wondering how, exactly, she spent her free time. This ghostly debut novel calls to mind The Lovely Bones.’ – MARIE CLAIRE

[A] moving tale… of daughters for whom cultural disconnect is but the first challenge – VOGUE

“Both a propulsive mystery and a profound examination of a mixed-race family… [an] explosive debut.”— ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY

A “cleverly crafted, emotionally perceptive debut … Ng’s themes of assimilation are themselves deftly interlaced into a taut tale of ever deepening and quickening suspense.”— O MAGAZINE

‘Emotionally involving […] Lydia is remarkably imagined, her unhappy teenage life crafted without an ounce of cliché. Ng’s prose is precise and sensitive, her characters richly drawn.’

PUBLISHERS WEEKLY (STARRED REVIEW)

‘Ng constructs a mesmerizing narrative that shrinks enormous issues of race, prejudice, identity, and gender into the miniaturist dynamics of a single family. A breathtaking triumph, reminiscent of prophetic debuts by Ha Jin, Chang-rae Lee, and ­Chimamanda Adichie, whose first titles matured into spectacular, continuing literary legacies.’ LIBRARY JOURNAL (STARRED REVIEW)

‘I couldn’t stop reading Everything I Never Told You . . . the writing is so smooth and keenly observed. The portrait of each member of the Lee family, the exploration of their mixed-race issues and the search for the killer of their sister and daughter, Lydia, pulled at my heartstrings to the very end.’ – UWEM AKPAN

New Release ~ Blond Cargo by John Lansing. Interview and Excerpt

Ahead of the release of Blond Cargo (Jack Bertolino #2) on Monday 20th October, I’m very pleased to welcome John Lansing to Between The Lines.

John, where did the inspiration for Jack Bertolino’s character come from?

Jack Bertolino is an amalgam of all my favorite detectives that I’ve read about in books, written about on television, seen in film, met in real life, or just wanted to be. I’ve always been drawn to flawed characters that were interested in reinventing themselves. Maybe because of my own personal demons and varied career paths. 

I wanted to write about a detective who was standing at the crossroads, recovering from a nasty divorce, retiring from the NYPD, leaving the old neighborhood in Staten Island, and moving west to find some peace in his life.

It certainly didn’t work out the way he planned. Twenty-five years of taking down drug dealers, money launderers and thieves, came back to haunt him and shook up his newfound state of bliss in Marina del Rey, California.

What’s more important, character or plot?

This question also encompasses question #4.

When I first began writing, I was writing scripts for network television. In that arena, an outline was imperative. First of all, you would never get an assignment until a story, and then the outline was approved. And then once you were green-lit, if another script fell out of the schedule, you might be asked to turn in a finished script in a week’s time. An almost impossible feat without a concise outline. 

When I started writing books, my process changed. I began with a premise, which dictated the characters I’d need to tell the story, and they defined the plot. No outline. Flying without a net. Frightening and exhilarating, but it seems to be working. It’s not a better way, just different.

If you have well defined characters that people can empathize with, care about, you can lead them most anywhere. But ultimately, it’s the plot that shows the audience how your protagonist responds to conflict, how he thinks, what makes him tick, and why you should care about him.

So, long winded answer, I think it’s a 50-50 split.

This is your second novel, did you find the process any easier/different this time round?

The only process that’s been easier for me the second time around is the marketing of the book. When I wrote The Devil’s Necktie, I didn’t know what a blog was. I’d never heard of a blog tour. I didn’t have a clue what social media was all about, and it was damn intimidating. It was a difficult learning curve, but I’m starting get the hang of it. 

Writing a book is difficult work. There’s no other way to say it. It’s gratifying when you’re in the zone and the words are flying off the page, but it’s not for the faint of heart. But as I was telling someone, it’s the only discipline in the creative arts where you don’t have to be hired to ply your craft. You can write a book on a napkin, on a plane, in a one-room shack, all you have to do is commit to writing every day, and you can end up with a completed first draft. I think that’s pretty cool.

Could you describe your writing day, and do you work to a structured outline or where ever the characters take you?

When I’m writing a book, it’s pretty much a 24/7 kind of thing. The characters are bouncing around in my head most of the day. I’m problem solving in my sleep. I sometimes wake up with the answers and head for the computer. I write the scene, pour some coffee, walk the dog, and then rewrite the work.

My biggest production occurs in the afternoon. And then the dog demands another walk. I’ll get a little lunch, take a hard look at what’s on the page, and I might do a simple step outline for the next sequence, just to keep things straight in my head. It’s only a road map. Nothing is set in stone. I like to end the day, having some idea of the direction I want to take the next day.

Are you planning more Jack Bertolino stories?

I’m knee deep into the third book in the Jack Bertolino series. And in November, Chris Sulavik at Tatra Press is publishing my short story, The Test. It’s a coming of age tale, set on Long Island in 1963 that deals with race, violence, social politics, and young love.

That’s good to know! What piece of advice would you give your younger self?

This is a hard question. I began my career, out of college, as a theatre actor before getting into television and film. I started writing for television and moved behind the camera, creating for the first time in my life instead of interpreting. Writing novels is my third career.

I think the best advice I could give to my younger self would be to pick up a pen every day. Fight the negative voices. Make writing a habit. It might be the only habit you have that can enrich your life.

On your bucket list?

Bucket list, huh? To have ten Jack Bertolino novels published in the next eight years. Okay, and to find the time to travel more. There’s too much of the world I haven’t seen.

Best gift you ever received?

I think the best gift I’ve ever received was getting cast as an understudy for Danny Zuko in the first national tour of Grease. It was a life changer. I rode that train until I won the title role. I spent a year playing Zuko on Broadway. It was a gift that set me on a life course, which allowed me to become a writer. All of my past experiences come into play when I’m sitting in front of my computer.

If you won the lottery what would you do first? 

Well, now that I’ve won the lottery, I can afford to take that time to travel I was talking about on my bucket list. Maybe spend a few months at a time in another country where I can get Jack Bertolino involved in new cases in exotic locals.

Thanks so much, John, for taking the time to share your thoughts

BlondCargoJack Bertolino’s son, Chris, was the victim of a brutal murder attempt and Vincent Cardona, a mafia boss, provided information that helped Jack take down the perpetrator of the crime. Jack accepted the favor knowing there’d be blowback. In Blond Cargo the mobster’s daughter has gone missing and Cardona turned in his chit. Jack discovers that the young, blond, mafia princess has been kidnapped and imprisoned while rich, politically connected men negotiate her value as a sex slave. 

A sizzling whodunit for fans of James Patterson and Patricia Cornwell, Blond Cargo taps into the real-life crime world to deliver a thrilling, action-packed story that will keep you on the edge of your seat until the explosive, unprecedented finale.

Excerpt from Blond Cargo:

Jack carried a Subway turkey sandwich, a tall unsweetened iced coffee, a bottle of water, and a smile as he keyed the security gate that led to the dock in Marina del Rey where his boat was moored. The marina was always quiet during the week. Just the way he liked it.
He stopped to admire his twenty-eight feet of heaven before stepping onto his boat’s transom and then . . .
“Yo, Mr. B.”
Jack never forgot a voice, which explained his reluctance to turn around.
“Yo, yo, Mr. B.”
Miserably persistent, Jack thought. He turned to face Peter Maniacci, who was dressed head-to-toe in black. With his outstretched arms draped over the chain-link fence, Peter looked like an Italian scarecrow. The black circles under his eyes belied his youth. The sharp points of his sideburns, his boots, and the .38 hanging lazily from a shoulder holster added menace to his goofy grin.
So close, Jack thought. His only worry that day had been
whether to eat his sandwich dockside or out on the Pacific with a view of the Santa Monica Pier.
“How you doing, Peter?”
“How you doin’?”
Jack let out a labored sigh. “We could do this all day. What’s up?”
“That’s funny, Mr. B. How’s the boy? How’s his pitching arm?”
Jack’s face tightened. He wasn’t happy that Peter knew
any of his son’s particulars. When he didn’t answer, Peter continued.
“Hey, nice boat. I used to fish for fluke off the north shore. Long Island. I think I must be in the wrong business.”
“Count on it,” Jack said. “What can I do for you?”
“My boss was wondering if you could spare a few minutes of your time.”
As if on cue, a black Town Car materialized behind Peter and came to a smooth, silent stop. The car rose visibly when Peter’s boss, a thick, broad-shouldered man, stepped out of the rear seat.
Vincent Cardona. Expensive suit, the body of a defensive linebacker—fleshy but muscled. Dark, penetrating eyes. Cardona looked in both directions before leveling his feral gaze on Jack. An attempt at a smile fell short of the mark. A thick manila envelope was tucked under one beefy arm.
Jack had been aware there would be some form of payback due for information Cardona had provided on Arturo Delgado, the man responsible for the attempted murder of his son. He just didn’t think it would come due this quickly. He opened the locked gate and let the big man follow him down the dock toward his used Cutwater cabin cruiser.
As Peter stood sentry in front of the Lincoln Town Car, Jack allowed the devil entry to his little piece of paradise.
“How’s your boy? How’s the pitching arm?” Vincent asked bluntly. Just a reminder of why he was there.
“On the mend.” Jack gestured to one of two canvas deck chairs in the open cockpit of the boat. Both men sat in silence as Jack waited for Cardona to explain the reason for his visit.
Jack wasn’t comfortable with Cardona’s talking about Chris, but the big man had taken it upon himself to station Peter outside Saint John’s Health Center while his son was drifting between life and death. Cardona’s enforcer had scared off Delgado, and that might have saved his son’s life. The unsolicited good deed was greatly appreciated by Jack. The debt weighed heavily.
“It rips your heart out when your children have problems and you can’t do nothing to help,” Cardona said with the raspy wheeze of a man who had abused cigars, drugs, booze, and fatty sausage for most of his life.
“What can I do for you?” Jack asked, not wanting to prolong the impromptu meeting.
Cardona, unfazed by Jack’s brusqueness, answered by pulling out a picture and handing it to Jack.
“Angelica Marie Cardona. She’s my girl. My only. My angel. Her mother died giving birth. I didn’t have the heart to re-up. I raised her by myself.”
Mobster with a heart of gold. Right, Jack thought. But Cardona’s wife must have been a stunner because Angelica, blond, early twenties, with flawless skin and gray-green eyes, didn’t get her good looks from her father. Cardona’s gift was her self-assured attitude, which all but leaped off the photograph.
“Beautiful.”
Jack Bertolino, master of the understatement, he thought.
“And doesn’t she know it. Too much so for her own good. You make mistakes, my line of business. Whatever.”
“What can I do for you, Vincent?” Jack said, dialing back the attitude.
Cardona tracked a seagull soaring overhead with his heavy-lidded eyes and rubbed the stubble on his jaw.
Jack would have paid good money to change places with the gull.
“I shoulda never moved out here. L.A. I’m a black-socks- on-the-beach kinda guy. East Coast all the way. Never fit in. But I’m a good earner and the powers that be decided they were happy with the arrangement. Everyone was happy except Angelica and me.
“She turned thirteen, didn’t wanna have nothing to do with her old man. Turned iceberg cold. I tried everything— private schools, horses, ballet, therapy, live-in help; nothin’ worked. She closed up tighter than a drum. I finally threatened to send her to the nuns.”
“How did that work out?”
“I’m fuckin’ sitting here, aren’t I? On this fuckin’ dinghy . . . no offense meant,” he said, trying to cover, but the flash of anger told the real story. “I hear you’re an independent contractor now.”
It was Tommy Aronsohn, his old friend and ex–district attorney, who had set him up with his PI’s license and first client, Lawrence Weller and NCI Corp. But Jack Bertolino and Associates, Private Investigation, still didn’t come trippingly off his tongue.
And thinking of the disaster up north, he said, “We’ll see how that goes.”
“This is the point. I haven’t seen my daughter in close to a month. Haven’t heard word one since around the time your son was laid up in Saint John’s,” he said. Reminder number two. “It’s killing me,” he continued. “I’m getting a fuckin’ ulcer. Then this.”
Cardona pulled out the L.A. Times with the front-page spread reporting on the woman who had died when her boat crashed on the rocks at Paradise Cove. As it turned out, a second woman down in Orange County had washed up on the beach a few weeks earlier at the Terranea resort, scaring the joy out of newlyweds taking photos at sunset. Talk about twisted memories, Jack thought. As if marriage wasn’t tough enough. He’d already read both articles with his morning coffee and hadn’t bought into the pattern the reporter inferred.
“And the connection?”
“I got a bad feeling is all. She’s never disappeared like this before—not for this long anyway,” he said, amending his statement. “And then . . .” Cardona said, waving the newspaper like it was on fire. “It says here they were both blonds. Both about Angelica’s age. They could be fuckin’ cousins. Could be nothing.”
“Did you file a missing-persons report?”
Cardona gave him a hard side eye. “Jack, don’t fuck with me. We take care of our own.”
Jack thought before he spoke. “I’m not one of yours.”
“Semantics.”
“What about your crew?”
Cardona flopped open his meaty hands. “I get angina, I don’t call my cousin Frankie, who has a certain skill set but stinks when it comes to open-heart surgery. Look, I get it. You were on the other team. But this is straight-up business. One man to another. One father to another. I need you to find my girl. You got my number. Use it, Jack. Money’s no object. Find my baby.”
Strike three.
Jack didn’t answer. He stared out at the navy-blue water of the marina, past row upon row of beautiful yachts, symbols of dreams fulfilled, and knew they were empty notions compared to family.
Cardona hadn’t actually spoken the words you owe me, but they filled the subtext of everything he’d said. He was not subtle. The big man had reached out when Jack was in need, and Jack had accepted the offer. Now Vincent Cardona wanted his pound of flesh.
“This is everything I know. Last address, phone numbers, phone bills, e-mail accounts, bank, credit cards, friends and whatnot. The whole shot,” Cardona said, holding the manila envelope out in Jack’s direction.
“I have other commitments,” Jack stated.
“You look real fuckin’ busy, Jack, if you don’t mind my sayin’.” His eyes crinkled into a sarcastic grin. Vincent Cardona does charm.
Jack accepted the overstuffed envelope with a sigh.
“If she don’t want to come back, fine. No funny business, no strong-arm bullshit from my end. You got my word. I just need to know that my blood is alive. I’m fuckin’ worried and I don’t do worry too good. Sleep on it, Jack. But do the right thing.”
Cardona’s eyes locked on to Jack’s. Jack remained silent. He’d take a look. No promises, not yet.
Vincent’s knees cracked and the canvas chair squeaked like it was in pain as he stood up. He covered a belch behind his fist and rubbed his gut as he moved stiffly past Jack. The boat rocked when Cardona stepped off and walked heavily away, his Italian leather shoes echoing on the wooden dock.
The weight of the world. Jack could relate.
Peter Maniacci opened the gate for his boss and then the door to the Lincoln Town Car, which plunged to curb level as the big man slid in. Peter ran around to the other side of the car and tossed Jack a wave like the queen mum. He jumped into the Lincoln, which lurched forward before Peter could slam the door shut.
Jack walked into the boat’s deckhouse, grabbed a bottle of water, and downed two more Excedrin. He stretched his back, which was going into a spasm from yesterday’s violence, and chased the pills with a Vicodin to stay one step ahead of the pain that he knew was headed his way.
Jack had already decided to take the case.

About the author

JohnLansingJohn Lansing started his career as an actor in New York City. He spent a year at the Royale Theatre playing the lead role in the Broadway production of “Grease.” He then landed a co-starring role in George Lucas’ “More American Graffiti,” and guest-starred on numerous television shows. During his fifteen-year writing career, Lansing wrote and produced “Walker Texas Ranger,” co-wrote two CBS Movies of the Week, and he also co-executive produced the ABC series “Scoundrels.” John’s first book was “Good Cop, Bad Money,” a true crime tome with former NYPD Inspector Glen Morisano. “The Devil’s Necktie” was his first novel. A native of Long Island, John now resides in Los Angeles.

The Devil’s Necktie may be found at Amazon US and Amazon UK and my review is here

Blond Cargo may be found at Amazon US and Amazon UK

 

Author Spotlight ~ D.C.J. Wardle

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Spotlight on D.C.J.Wardle

 

About the author

D.C.J. WARDLE is the author of humorous novels ‘Trading Vincent Crow’ and ‘Vincent Crow: Export’. In January 2013 he was the author of the month on http://www.lovewriting.co.uk.

wardleHolding post-graduate qualifications in development management as well as community water supply engineering, over the past fifteen years, he has worked in developing countries in Africa and Asia, managing emergency and development programmes.

 

 

 

About the book

Vincent Crow: Export

 

51ySPEnR9LL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_SX385_SY500_CR,0,0,385,500_SH20_OU02_This is the hilarious follow-up to Trading Vincent Crow – in which we were introduced to Vincent, who was determined that he had to trade-up his life every three months for a new and better one. This meant a new job, new girl, new wheels, new pad, new threads – until he reached the top.

In D.C.J. Wardle’s new novel, Vincent Crow: Export, we re-visit Vincent – to see that his unique but ad-hoc approach to self-improvement has inspired him to journey east. He has the chance for a completely new beginning as he throws himself in to the unexplored depths of the Asian business world, with support from his unlikely benefactor, Jonathan Fairchild.

Inevitably, the cascade of disaster that permeates Vince’s haphazard approach to personal advancement means that this new chapter of his life in a foreign country is anything but straightforward. The challenge of starting from scratch in an exotic land, with no initial contacts or appreciation of the culture and customs, could be overwhelming for the most seasoned of entrepreneurs. However, Vince has the added complication of bringing his nan along for the adventure, which may not be one of the most astute decisions that he has ever made…

Excerpt from Vincent Crow: Export

Vince had only ever been to Wales when it came to being ‘abroad’.

When you’re about ten, and you’re comparing far-flung foreign adventures into the unknown with other compatriots of a similar level of life experience, then Wales definitely counts in the ‘abroad’ stakes. No doubt about it. When you’ve reached your twenties, however, and are suffering some backpacker’s tedious monologue of their egotistically mind-broadening ‘year out’, which included six-months discovering themselves spiritually in remote corners of Peru by banging on a drum with some other stoned teenagers, then bringing up Wales isn’t going count as proof of an equal footing. Even if you do have photographic evidence that demonstrates you were there for a whole week at the beach, and it didn’t rain once, the first time that had happened ‘in, like, ever’ (or at least since pre-Cambrian times).

As Vince stepped off the plane at Feiquon’s international airport, he decided that Wales really was a very different kind of abroad to the one he was in now. In retrospect, he now realised that the conversation he’d once had with an arrogant young returnee from Peru at the bar in the Carrot and Jam Kettle, where he defended the notion that a weekend camping in the Mumbles was a comparable adventure to a trek through the Peruvian rainforests, was based on a marginally floored hypothesis.

The wall of Feiquon heat and humidity that engulfed him on the steps of the plane was a shock to the system. He was mopping the sweat from his brow before he’d even descended to the tarmac. The uncomfortable stickiness was almost worse than working in the kitchens at the Carrot and Jam Kettle on a busy Friday night in the summer, stench of chip-fat aside.

Behind him Natalie was liberally applying her new duty-free perfume, and behind her his nan was standing in the oval doorway of the plane with a lighter in one hand and a cigarette in the other. The limited pace at which her aging frame could propel her forward in a straight line meant that the distance from the aeroplane steps to the door of the immigration lounge was definitely at least one fag’s-worth.

Buy the book on Amazon UK and Amazon US

Saving Raine ~ Book Spotlight, Excerpt and Giveaway

As part of the Saving Raine blog tour I’m pleased to be sharing a book spotlight and excerpt, as well as a little bit about the author, Frederick Lee Brooke.

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FrederickLeeBrooke-AuthorPhotoFrederick Lee Brooke launched the Annie Ogden Mystery Series in 2011 with Doing Max Vinyl and following with Zombie Candy in 2012, a book that is neither about zombies nor sweets. The third mystery in the series, Collateral Damage, appeared in 2013.

Saving Raine, the first book in Fred’s entirely new series, The Drone Wars, appeared in December, 2013.

A resident of Switzerland, Fred has worked as a teacher, language school manager and school owner. He has three boys and two cats and recently had to learn how to operate both washing machine and dryer. He makes frequent trips back to his native Chicago.

When not writing or doing the washing, Fred can be found walking along the banks of the Rhine River, sitting in a local cafe, or visiting all the local pubs in search of his lost umbrella.

Find Frederick Lee Brooke on his websiteFacebookTwitter, and Goodreads.

 tt10339471fltt

SavingRaineCoverMatt, Raine went to California because her parents thought it was safe. It’s not. You’ve got to get her out as soon as possible. She could die, Matt.

When 19-year-old Matt Carney gets a cryptic message from his father telling him to go to California and save his girlfriend, Raine, he doesn’t hesitate—he grabs his AK-47, revs up his blue pickup, and gets ready to make the 2,300-mile road trip.

But cross-country travel in 2021 isn’t easy—or, sometimes, even possible. The U.S. has become a near-military state: 17,000 checkpoints severely restrict interstate movement, Predator drones target innocent civilians without cause, and explosions rock cities daily. Matt and his stepbrother, Benjy, face deadly attacks from a corrupt government, ruthless local law enforcement, and bloodthirsty terrorist groups as they embark on their trek. They’re about to find out that their trip is much more than a private journey, and their success could change the face of the country—forever.

Can Matt and Benjy outrun the drone missiles raining down on their heads? Can they avoid assassination by government officials hell-bent on taking over what little is left of the country? Can they outsmart the deadly schemes set in motion against them?

 Break the rules.

Save the girl.

He only gets one chance before she’s gone forever.

Excerpt from Saving Raine (The Drone Wars: Book 1)

The pickup lights cut a path through the darkness as they shared a bag of tortilla chips. All at once, Matt’s eyes picked up a familiar form in the grass by the side of the road. He pulled over fifty yards ahead.

”What’re you doing?” Benjy asked.

Matt got out without answering, and walked back up the road. Benjy followed. They found a small doe sprawled in the ditch, eyes staring.

“Is it dead?” Benjy asked.

“Dead and delicious,” Matt said. “Can you lift her?”

His stepbrother studied the deer, trying to figure how to pick it up. He bent down, then stood again.

“You sure it’s dead?”

Matt prodded the deer with his boot. “Even if she weren’t, they don’t bite.”

Benjy worked his left arm under the animal’s neck. With his right hand he grabbed one of the hind legs, just below the knee. When he stood up, he managed to get about half the deer off the ground before collapsing. 

“She’s too heavy. I can’t.”

“Let’s do it together,” Matt said. He picked up the neck and the front legs while Benjy lifted the hindquarters. Matt could’ve thrown the animal in the back of the truck himself, but getting Benjy to help somehow seemed right. Although he was tall for fourteen, Benjy’s arms and legs were thin as twigs.

Off in the distance, another car was coming. They jumped in quickly, and Matt hit the gas. After a brief stretch at high-speed, they entered a town and had to slow down. The car tailing them had caught up, an old red Chrysler. The other driver rode him close, his high beam lighting up the truck interior. Matt looked away from his mirror, but the lights blinded him just the same. People shot each other over less.

“Want me to check him out?” Benjy asked.

“You’ve got your own Viper?”

“I brought two Vipers and two Tornados,” Benjy said. He rolled down his window and released a small quadcopter. Then he studied his Jetlink.

“What’s a fourteen-year-old doing with four drones?”

“These are just the ones I decided to bring.”

Matt looked at his stepbrother, unbelieving. Where had Benjy been hiding all these drones? He himself, like most people, owned one all-purpose Viper. “Well, what about those guys back there?”

“Two men. Skinheads. Maybe locals, picking a fight.”

They had reached the end of town, and the speed limit was back up to 50 mph. Matt gradually increased to 40 mph as the Chrysler rode up his tail. The road was deserted.

“Why doesn’t he pass?” Benjy asked.

Matt rolled down his window. “Get ready to take the wheel.”

“What? I can’t drive.”

On the next straightaway, the Chrysler made its move and pulled alongside. Matt met the gaze of the man in the passenger seat, whose shaved head gleamed in the ambient light.

“Pull over to the side. Pull over now.”

Matt had the slingshot ready while Benjy guided the truck with one hand on the wheel. In a split second, he could kill the man, whose impassive face was less than six feet away.

Something made him decide not to shoot. Maybe there’d been enough killing for one night. Maybe it was the fact that the man didn’t show a weapon. Maybe he was just tired. He retook the wheel, braked, signaled, and pulled over. 

The skinheads got out and walked back to the truck, two men in black leather. Still no weapons. He got out to meet them.

 

 

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Author Spotlight ~ Ronald Probstein

spotlight-thRFP1Spotlight on Ronald Probstein

Author Profile

from Amazon

One of America’s foremost engineering scientists, Ronald Probstein is Ford Professor of Engineering, Emeritus at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His undergraduate training was at New York University’s night school and his graduate work in aeronautical engineering and physics at Princeton. He has played a principal role in some of the most important scientific and technical achievements in the post World War II era, involving spacecraft and ballistic missile reentry physics, hypersonic flight theory, comet astrophysics, desalination, synthetic fuels, and the electrokinetic remediation of soil. For these achievements, he has been honored as a member of the National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, International Academy of Astronautics, and awarded an honorary doctorate from Brown University. Author, editor, lecturer, inventor, Professor Probstein has ten critically acclaimed scientific and technical books to his credit. Born in New York City in 1928, he lives in Brookline, Massachusetts with his wife, Irène. He has one son, Sidney, and three grandchildren.

41Hp+Qfrs1L._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-v3-big,TopRight,0,-55_SX278_SY278_PIkin4,BottomRight,1,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_About the novel

If you’re going to live outside the law, you’d better be honest. This seeming paradox was the operating principle of Sid Probstein’s life. Guileless and endlessly optimistic, he was known as Honest Sid around his stomping ground of New York’s Broadway. Sid wasn’t a tough guy, or even a bad guy. He just never had the patience for the “straight” life, grinding out a living at some monotonous desk job. He was the quintessential American dreamer, always sure that the good life was just one big score away, a man who never stopped believing in his own good luck, even when the evidence said otherwise. He had all the tools, he was charming, good-looking, quick-witted and decent, but he had an obsession he couldn’t escape. Honest Sid is the story of an American archetype as seen through the eyes of his son, Ronald, who loved him, and who almost lost him. It follows Sid’s adventures in the world of bookies and bettors,  fighters and fixers, players and suckers set against the often romanticized backdrop of Depression era New York. It is also the passionate tale of the great and tempestuous love between Sid and his wife Sally, and of his son Ronald whom he idolized.

Honest Sid may be purchased from Amazon UK
 and Amazon US