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Guest Blogger Stefan Vucak: The Drive to Write

The Drive to Write…

By Stefan Vucak, author of ‘Cry of Eagles’

Bright sunshine has flooded the landscape with light and shifting shadows as the wind whips branches into restless frenzy. A thin tendril of steam is rising from my cup of coffee and I gaze at it momentarily, captivated by the patterns it makes. I am staring at the computer screen, at the paragraphs running into each other, making no sense as I search for inspiration. No, that’s not quite right. I am driven by inspiration to pour out the words clamoring to get out, my characters screaming at me to write down what they have to say. I just don’t hear them, my Cry of Eaglesmind wandering as I look out the window at the shadows, the light and the patterns they make. There is an avalanche of ideas waiting to be unleashed, but I have stumbled into a pothole and I am too weary to drag myself out. I take a sip of coffee, taking in the aroma and the satisfying taste, and sigh as I stare at the words across the screen…

It’s strange, but I always wanted to write. Ever since as a kid when I stumbled across an illustrated book of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, I was hooked. A whole new universe was opened for me, one I never knew existed, one far beyond the narrow confines of my childhood pursuits and shallow games. When I discovered a library not far from the primary school, I gladly plunged into that universe. Of course, reading led me to think that I could also create a universe of my own, something others could share and hopefully enjoy. It didn’t look all that hard. After all, it was simply putting down words on paper. Although the drive to write never left me, it was some years later that I could unleash that part of me and allow my imagination full flight. But like Pandora, I unleashed a part of me that ever since has given me moments of intense pleasure, soul-wrenching frustration and disappointment.

Part of the frustration was mastering the mechanical craft of writing, learning how to write good dialogue, not allowing myself to get swept up in flowery prose, how to plot, research…a raft of skills a writer needs in order to produce something good. And I am still learning. But why put myself through all that pain, accumulating a stack of rejection slips along the way, harboring murdering thoughts at authors whose crappy books are on the stands while stuff I produced cannot make it? Why put up with lonely hours cooped up in my study, bent over my notebook or pounding away at the keyboard, enduring cramped muscles, mental blocks, endless hours of tedious editing, simply to turn out that novel? Why do I write?

The answer is simple as it is complex. I am driven to write. It is a fire that burns within me and one I cannot quench. I tried to once or twice, but that urge to write, to create, never let go, could not be extinguished. It’s a curse and it is also a gift. Once I recognized that I could not change what I was, I accepted my fate and allowed myself to soar. All the frustration and tedious work, the attention to detail and the rewriting, it fades into insignificance when I look at the rewards of my creativity. When the words flow and I can hardly keep up with them, when my characters live and laugh and cry with me, and come alive on paper, when it all clicks and my spirit cries like an eagle high in the sky, the buzz of pure creation can be giddying and addictive. And it is addictive, far better than any smoky weed or pill.

I write primarily because I must and because I want to share with others the joy of my creations. Once that book is done, the moment of accomplishment passes, but there is always a sense of power, knowing I have left something behind that is lasting. The doubts about getting published, having the thing sell, marketing, all those things will weigh on me later. But even if one person reads what I have produced, I am satisfied, although I am egotistical enough to want as many readers as possible. Then there is a period when I must recharge and get ready for another book, more frustration, more loneliness, more tedium. Sometimes I really wonder why I put myself through all this.

I’m driven and I’m cursed and I must write. The passion and the drive that keeps pushing me is relentless and won’t give me peace. But I have ceased fighting the current and have accepted my destiny, because there is nothing more fulfilling in life.

I take another sip of coffee, now gone cool, flex my fingers and smile at the keyboard. I have come for you, I tell my characters…

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Stefan VucakStefan Vucak is an award-winning author of seven techno sci-fi novels, including With Shadow and Thunder which was a 2002 EPPIE finalist. His Shadow Gods Saga books have been highly acclaimed by critics. His recent release, Cry of Eagles, won the coveted 2011 Readers Favorite silver medal award. Stefan leveraged a successful career in the Information Technology industry and applied that discipline to create realistic, highly believable storylines for his books. Born in Croatia, he now lives in Melbourne, Australia.

WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK

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Read-a-Chapter: Shuffle Up and Deal by Susan DiPlacido

Read a Chapter is *NEW* added feature at As the Pages Turn! Here you’ll be able to read the first chapters of books of all genres to see if you like them before you buy them. Today we are featuring the erotica romance/romantic comedy, Shuffle Up and Deal by Susan DiPlacido. Enjoy!

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Shuffle Up and Deal

    • Print Length: 427 pages
    • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 145058859X
    • Publisher: Neon Fiction (March 3, 2010)
    • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.

Meet Izzy Santillo. She’s a charming-but-lonely thirty-four year old woman who loves poker and harbors a secret crush on the reigning king of Hold ‘em.

Meet Nick Nolan, the reigning king of Hold ‘em. On the tables, he’s fast and loose and almost always wins. But when it comes to women, playboy Nick holds his cards too close and always loses.

When Izzy and Nick meet in embarrassing fashion at a Las Vegas poker tournament, Izzy’s secret dreams turn into a public nightmare. But despite her humiliation, she may have finally sparked Nick’s interest in something other than cards. Before long, Nick takes a gamble on Izzy and raises the stakes when he offers to help her sharpen her game. But Izzy’s convinced that Nick is bluffing and will fold his hand after he’s had her on the flop. But a string of outrageous proposition bets and steamy trips on the poker tour, from Los Angeles to Miami, make these two fierce competitors realize that it may be time to put all their chips on the table. Will Izzy and Nick pair up? Or will they lose it all if they go all-in for each other? Sit down, ante up, and hang on, as Nick and Izzy get ready to Shuffle Up and Deal.

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Chapter One

“Izzy,” he whispers in my ear as he nudges me from behind.  It’s gentle, but I was in a deep sleep, so I’m groggy and slow to respond.

I had forgotten he was even here.  My boyfriend du-jour.  It’s an on and off relationship that, for tonight at least, is on.

He pushes his body closer, spooning me, wrapping an arm around my waist.  His breath is warm and sultry in my ear.  His erection is pressed against my thigh.  “You awake, Iz?”

“Mmm,” I mumble, slowly swimming back up from the depths of sleep to regain conscious thought.
His hand moves under the covers, caresses the front of my thigh and starts pulling up my nightgown.  His hand is sure and soft, the fabric silky as it glides across my skin.  “Wake up,” he urges as his hand moves back down, between my legs.

“Sleepy,” I murmur.  I could easily go back to sleep.  But the sad fact is that since we’re more “off” than “on,” I really don’t get much fun in the sack, so I’m happy to forego sleep for sex tonight.

“I’ll make it worth your while,” he says as he gently but firmly coaxes my thighs apart.  I’m mostly awake, but still hovering on the brink, too lazy to engage with him, but also lacking the will to resist, mostly just content to wait a few seconds and see if I’ll wake up enough or doze back off.  He moves back from me slightly, his hand holding my inner thigh, leveraging to pull that leg back as he agilely shimmies himself between my legs and rolls me on my back.  He’s warm and I like the weight of him on top of me, the warmth of his groin pressed against mine.  Awake enough now that I could engage, I still play it lazy and just sigh and keep my eyes closed.

“I know you’re awake,” he says, calling my bluff.  He kisses the side of my cheek, uses one elbow for support as he reaches between us to tug at my nightgown again.  Quickly, it’s up over my hips, so we’re skin on skin contact below the waist.  I grin, realizing he must not have just rolled over and started in on me.  He must’ve been horny enough and taken the time to pull off his boxers and pull on the condom before waking me up.

I decide to tease him a bit for it.  Asking, “What would you have done if I hadn’t woken up?”  What I’m hoping for is a little bit of dirty talk.

“I knew you were awake,” is all he says as he goes for the top of my nightgown, pushing the skinny strap to the side and then gliding his whole hand beneath the silk to cup my breast.  He gives a firm squeeze as the heat of his palm makes my nipple react as I keep my eyes closed in blind surrender, heightening the other sensations.  As my nipple hardens, he rubs and squeezes again, grinds his hips to press his erection right up against me.

A sigh escapes me.

“You ready?” he asks me.

“Doubtful.”

He goes to work kissing me.  He really is an excellent kisser.  He slips me some tongue as his fingers playfully pinch around my nipple.  He slides down, kisses my neck, warming me inside and out.

I’m getting tuned up, definitely.  Flushed skin, those wonderful quivery feelings running through my blood as he dips down and catches my nipple in his mouth.  No fooling around taunting me, he sucks.  And sucks.  It rocks me.

Taking a breath, he asks me again, “You ready?”
Eyes still closed, reveling in the dreaminess mixing with the rushes, I say, “Go ahead and check.”  That’s what I’m longing for now, for his hand to reach down and stroke me, build the heat right there.

But he declines.  Instead answering, “You’re ready.”  He scootches back up, reaching down and taking hold of himself instead of pleasuring me.  His skin is fevered, his shoulders taut under my hands, and already there’s a trace of humidity and salt in the air between us.  Though I can’t see it, I can feel his hand moving as he strokes himself a few times.  It drives me crazy with heat and I lift my hips in offering.

Wordless, he aligns himself and thrusts inside of me.  I was ready, and he glides in, filling me up, making me sigh again.

“Good to go?” he asks as he pumps a few times.

“Go,” I tell him, pulling his shoulders down closer to me so I get the full heat of his body.

“Going,” he says, picking up the pace quickly.  He props himself on his elbows for more leverage so I release his shoulders and raise my knees, wrapping my legs around his waist.  “Going harder,” he tells me as he pumps more furiously.

I still don’t open my eyes, instead reveling in the physical sensations and conjuring images of what we look like.  Hot.  We look hot.  It feels so good, him jacking away inside me, the heat between us.  Instead of watching, I imagine Nick’s face this way.  I’m fantasizing about him watching me.  I can feel beads of sweat forming at my hairline, I know my mouth tightens and muscles twitch when he suddenly goes harder, quite hard, quite deep.

I moan and then bite my lower lip as he starts panting above me.  I can imagine his face perfectly like this.  His deep blue eyes staring rapt as he makes me react beneath his control.  His well chiseled jaw, his normally serene, unreadable face betraying him now.  There’s no way he’d be able to keep that mask in place as he drives into me with power, as I clench tight around him and thrust back against him.

“Izzy,” he pants.

“Keep going,” I encourage him, but I can tell this late-night round won’t last much longer because he’s straining and panting, giving it to me with all he’s got.  So I take matters into my own hands.  I reach between us, the heat palpable to my hand, and slide a few fingers across my clit.  No fooling around, I press hard and rub furiously, already sensitive and responding.

“So hot,” he says, and I know he’s watching me.  He barely loses a pump but I know he’s watching me work myself into a frenzy beneath him.

God, imagining Nick watching me and getting off on it just prods me along.  Shameless, I’m utterly shameless about it.  I know just what he’d look like, hovering over me, his long, lanky frame, his buttocks clenching with each and every delicious pump.  His face betraying every ripple of intense pleasure.  “Oh,” I moan as I feel him tense, know he’s close.

I’m right on the edge, but I need a little more, just a little more time.  My hand strokes furiously, I buck against him.  “Keep going,” I plead with him.

“Close,” he says, and I know it’s my warning.

“Please.  Please!  Keep going,” I tell him again, setting myself on edge.  “Keep going, Nick!”

“Oh, no,” he grunts, then rasps my name.  Pained sounding, but still frantically pumping.

“Oh Nick!”

“No! Izzy!” he howls again, but his hips thrust, seemingly involuntarily.

“No,” I tell him, but I’m so close now it might not matter.  “Not yet, Nick!  Keep going!”

“Coming.” He says that quietly and the pumping stops, but my hand doesn’t.  Luckily, I’m there.  Just a couple more rough rubs and I erupt, coming with him still buried inside me, clenching around him, the mental image of his face watching me egging me on to milk every last aftershock.

Rapt in the hazy glow, I’m catching my breath as he pulls out and climbs off of me and rolls to the other side of the bed.  A harsh edge to his voice as he says, “You did it again.”

“Mmm?”  I ask distantly, still sprawled out and pleasantly holding my hand to crotch.

Over his shoulder, he hisses, “You said his name again!”

My eyes snap open and the glow evaporates.  Ashamed now, I close my legs and wiggle upright as I arrange the nightgown to hurriedly cover myself up.  Softly, I say, “I’m sorry.”  I reach out a hand but he moves away and sits up and gets off the bed.  He stalks over to the chair in the corner where his clothes are neatly folded and grabs his pants.

“Andy,” I say.  “Don’t go.  I really am sorry.”

“Hmph.  At least you do know my name.”

“Don’t be silly.”

“Silly!” He shouts it.  “You think it’s silly of me to be upset that my girlfriend called another man’s name while we were making love?”

I know he’s pissed, and I don’t blame him.  I feel guilty and deserve his anger.  And I will gladly grovel and make it up to him.  But right now it’s the middle of the night and I just want to defuse the situation, so I try to cajole him and lighten him up.  Coyly asking, “Would you rather I called his name while I was having sex with you?  Or would you rather I call your name while I have sex with him?”

He gives his shirt a snap in the air but doesn’t miss a beat.  Says, “That’s a flawed question, Isabella, and you know it.”

“Why?”

He does stop fiddling with his clothes as he looks at me and says, “It’s flawed because it’s unrealistic.  You can’t sleep with him.”

“I know!” I say cheerily.  “So it’s not like I’m cheating on you.”

Exasperated, “Please,” is all he says as he starts pulling the shirt on.  “I just don’t understand it.  You don’t even know this person.  What could you possibly be so attracted to?”

I know that this is not the place for me to respond honestly.  His tall, lanky body, his penetrating eyes, his beautiful little mouth, but, mostly, how incredibly sexy it is to watch him at the poker tables.  How, with just a glance, he can seemingly see and understand everything the other players are thinking.  And yet, I can never see the machinery in his mind working.  He’s completely unreadable.  Like the most glassy-surfaced lake that plunges to unknown depths.  All that intelligence and intuition are just…

Andy is staring at me, and I wonder if he can tell what I was just thinking about.  He looks cross. “You’re unbelievable,” he says, buttoning up.

Shit.  He could tell.

“Andy, please.  You’re right.  You’re absolutely right.  It was terrible of me and I’m so sorry.  But please don’t leave.  It’s the middle of the night and it’s cold and rainy out there.  Tomorrow is Easter!  Just come back to bed and I’ll make it up to you.”

He picks up his socks and shoes and takes a seat in the chair, but he stops dressing.  Says, “I just don’t even have a fundamental understanding of what you’re attracted to.  You don’t know him, Izzy!”

“I know,” I say with a shrug.  Then, “What attracts you to Jessica Simpson?”

“Stop it,” he says.  “There’s a basic difference between men and women and how we process attraction.  Men are visually stimulated.  Women intellectually.”

“Well, maybe I just have some male tendencies is all,” I say, lying.

“I don’t call out the name Jessica when we’re making love!”

“So you’d prefer I call out the name of someone I know, then?  Perhaps it’d be better if I’d fantasize about one of your friends?”

“Perhaps I’d prefer if you’d fantasize about me and call out my name!”

He’s got me there.  If I wanted to turn this around on him, I could start a real brawl by pointing out that it hasn’t escaped my attention how much attention he lavishes on Jennifer every time she’s around.  I could point out how I’ve caught him being visually stimulated by her while I was sitting right next to him.  But I don’t want to do that, because what I have done is wrong.  It’s not about winning this fight so much as about reassuring him and making it up to him.  I’ve hurt him.  Worse, maybe he’s worried because next week I’m going to Vegas, and there is a small chance I could run into Nick.

Realizing that, I feel even worse, and even somewhat flattered.  Maybe Andy’s just worried and jealous.  But I’d never cheat on him.  I just need to reassure him.  So I bite my tongue and measure my words and say, “Andy.  I am really sorry.  And you’re right about all this.  I promise I’ll stop thinking about him.  But for right now, you don’t need to worry anyhow.  Like you said, I don’t know him, so there’s no chance we’d ever be together.”

“Oh, don’t flatter yourself, Iz.”  With that, he starts pulling on his socks.

“What do you mean?”

“I mean, darling, that even if you did know him, you wouldn’t be sleeping with him.”  He pauses to pull on a shoe, then looks me in the face as he says, “Don’t get your hopes about that trip to Vegas.  Sure, you might meet him.  But remember, men are stimulated visually, Iz.”

I drop my gaze and pull the blanket up to cover myself, twice as ashamed of myself now.  Andy’s right, of course.  That’s why the comment stings.  There’s nothing Nick Nolan would ever see in geeky me.

Across the room, Andy rises, and I realize how badly I’ve screwed up.  He’s a decent, good-looking, smart guy, and I’ve alienated him by not appreciating what I have.  Worse, I’ve hurt him.  “I’m really sorry,” I whisper.

“And do you really have to be so slutty all the time?”

“Sorry,” I say, knowing what he means.

“I know we’re familiar and all, and it’s hot in a pornographic way that you like to get off.  But you’re just so selfish and slutty about it.  It’s pretty off-putting afterward.”

“You woke me up,” I say.

“I woke you up.  You got yourself off, though.”

“Someone had to do it,” I mutter under my breath.

“You know, babe, you should try appreciating me more.  I’m a great guy, Izzy, and I’ve been good to you over the years.”

“I know,” I answer.

“Sweet dreams, Isabelle,” he hisses as he walks out the door.

But that just sparks my anger.  He knows I hate that.  I know I shouldn’t, but I can’t help myself.  “Isabella!” I shout after him, just before the back door slams shut.

I stew in it a minute.  I’m a shit, without question.  But he does oogle Jennifer in front of me. I flop back on the bed and close my eyes and indulge myself with visions of Nick Nolan.  Sweet dreams, indeed.

 

Reprinted with permission from Shuffle Up and Deal by Susan DiPlacido. © 2010 by Neon Fiction

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Talking Books with Cynthia Gail, author of WINTER’S MAGIC

Please welcome my special guest, contemporary romance author, Cynthia Gail. Cynthia is here today to talk about her latest release just in time for Christmas, Winter’s Magic (Book 1 in the Music City Hearts series).
My husband and I live in the suburbs of Nashville, Tennessee with our teenage son and three dogs. Life is busy, but when I have free time, I love to read. A math/science girl at heart and a retail analyst by trade, I never thought I’d be writing romance. But one day, a story popped into my head and I had to write it down. The fantasy, escape, and wonder of just reading multiplied by ten-fold and I couldn’t stop my fingers from typing my own fairy tales.

I hope you enjoy my stories. Each one touches on modern day issues, fears, and challenges that women face every day. And each one illustrates that love is within reach if you let down those walls and allow your heart to open. Our lives and experiences are so much more meaningful when we have someone to share them with.

Cynthia’s latest book is the contemporary romance, Winter’s Magic (Book 1 in the Music City Hearts series).

Visit her website at www.Cynthiagail.com.

Why was writing Winter’s Magic so important to you?

Spring’s Surprise, now book #2 in the Music City Hearts series, was actually the first book I wrote. At the first draft stage, I hired an editor to give me feedback and direction. She suggested I take Beth’s character from book #2, create her own story, and plan a full series. I’d already fallen in love with writing, but the guidance and validation from a professional, award-winning author, stirred a deeper passion and I jumped right in.

What was the experience like writing Winter’s Magic?

It was so exciting to write with a purpose. I’m a planner at heart and I felt like I was finally on a path that I had confidence in. Beth is probably my favorite heroine in the series. She’s a strong woman, she’s worked hard to get where she is, and as a result, runs a successful, elite day spa. But even strong women have vulnerabilities. It’s how we face our weaknesses that counts and I think Beth handles adversity with a lot of grace and fortitude.

Can you tell us more about Beth Sergeant and Nick Chester?

Beth’s parents were middle-class, but found a way to send her to the most prestigious, private high school in Nashville, Tennessee. While the invaluable experience prepared her for college, she never felt as if she fit in.

After losing his parents to a car accident at a young age, Nick Chester was raised by his grandfather, the wealthiest man in Nashville. At the age of thirty, he’s built his own business and experienced enough of life to realize everyone has an agenda.

Despite her deep-seated insecurities, Beth can’t resist Nick’s charm and finally accepts an invitation to dinner. She proves she’s nothing like other women Nick’s dated and she slowly learns to trust him in return. But just as the last of their resistance crumbles and true love is within reach, challenges from Nick’s past threaten to destroy everything and force Beth to reveal her most guarded secret.

Are there any supporting characters we need to know about?

Sara and Jenny are Beth’s two best friends. Spring’s Surprise is Sara’s story and Summer’s Family Affair is Jenny’s.

Can you open to page 25 and tell us what’s happening?

This is the end of a scene where Nick realizes how different Beth is from other women in his circle. Due to his family’s status, he’s constantly pursued by women looking for prestige and money. But Beth isn’t pursuing him and he can tell by her genuine interaction with his grandfather that she’s someone special he simply has to know more about.

What about page 65?

In a previous scene, Beth’s bank calls a surprise audit of her day spa’s construction expenses, based on allegations from an anonymous source. Nick offers to use his grandfather’s influence to get the audit dismissed, but Beth won’t let him. She has nothing to hide and doesn’t want to ‘use’ his connections. In the scene on page 65, Nick’s ex-girlfriend makes a surprise visit to his office. During the conversation, he realizes she’s the anonymous source. Though he’d promised Beth that he wouldn’t interfere, he can’t stop himself, and calls his grandfather.

Now that Winter’s Magic has been published, what’s your next project?

Spring’s Surprise is under contract and expected to release in March or April 2013. I’m just starting to work with the first draft of Summer’s Family Affair and I’m outlining Fall’s Redeeming Grace.

Do you have anything else you’d like to tell our readers?

Christmas is my favorite time of the year. It’s no surprise that my first book had to celebrate the season. I hope you enjoy Winter’s Magic as part of your holiday collection.

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Read-a-Chapter: Deadly Plunge by Greg Messel

Read a Chapter is *NEW* added feature at As the Pages Turn! Here you’ll be able to read the first chapters of books of all genres to see if you like them before you buy them. Today we are featuring the mystery fiction, Deadly Plunge, by Greg Messel. Enjoy!

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  • Paperback: 420 pages
  • Publisher: Sunbreaks Publishing (October 8, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0985485922
  • ISBN-13: 978-0985485924

Former baseball player and newly-minted private investigator, Sam Slater is hired to find out why a rich, politically-well connected San Francisco man, Arthur Bolender,  suddenly ended his life by plunging off of the Golden Gate Bridge. All those who know Arthur say unequivocally that he did not commit suicide.  However, Bolender’s body was found floating in San Francisco Bay and his car was abandoned in the traffic lane of the bridge.  Meanwhile, Sam’s romance with glamorous TWA stewardess Amelia Ryan continues to blossom and deepen. She is now his secret fiancee. Amelia also eagerly helps Sam solve his cases when she’s in town. The key to unraveling the mystery seems to be a strange old Victorian-style house. Bolender’s widow, a rich, seductive socialite named Maggie Bolender, was not even aware that her husband owned the house. What is really going on behind the doors of the mysterious house?  Finding the answers will plunge Sam and Amelia into a dangerous world of political intrigue in the exciting sequel to “Last of the Seals.”

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Chapter One

When a jumper leaps off of the Golden Gate Bridge it takes only four seconds to hit the waters of San Francisco Bay.

From the pedestrian walkway on the iconic bridge there are breath-taking vistas of the beautiful city. The water below looks shimmering and soft.

It is not.

Instead of gently leaping into the hereafter, the jumper dies the same death he or she would suffer if being hit by a fast-moving car.

There is still something deceptively appealing to those who want to escape life’s problems.

A leap over the railing 245 feet above the water will seemingly work magic in a troubled life. In just four seconds financial problems are over. In four seconds a hated spouse vanishes. In four seconds a broken heart will stop hurting. In four seconds all of the problems with a job or an obnoxious boss disappear.

The water of San Francisco Bay is a frigid 47 degrees and the wind can be bone-chilling on most nights.  There are believed to be more suicides at the Golden Gate Bridge than at any other site in the world.

Those who want to end it all even travel long distances to San Francisco to jump off of the Golden Gate Bridge. Rental cars, belonging to suicide victims, have been found in parking lots at the end of the bridge’s span.

The impact of hitting the water is horrendous.  The jumper’s body is falling at a rate of 80 miles per hour when it slams into San Francisco Bay and essentially stops. However, due to inertia, the internal organs keep traveling, tearing loose from the body.

Autopsy results for jumpers commonly show lacerations to the liver, heart, spleen, and aortas. The skeletal structure takes a pounding as well. There are usually broken sternums, pelvises, necks, and skull fractures.

Some have survived jumping off of the Golden Gate Bridge, but not many. Death is almost certain and happens quickly.  Generally, the impact of hitting the water kills the jumper. Occasionally, the jumper is knocked unconscious.

There have been times when the person jumping off of the bridge briefly survives and can be seen flailing around in the water, trying to stay afloat before succumbing to extensive internal bleeding.

Not all jumpers are detected. Some bodies are never found and apparently wash out to sea.

Generally the shattered body of the person plunging off of the bridge is picked up by the Coast Guard and taken to Fort Baker on the shoreline of San Francisco Bay.  It is there that the Marin County Coroner’s office begins tying up loose ends. The body is identified, relatives are notified, and there is an autopsy.

After the body is retrieved, it is placed in a long carrier with handles and covered with a yellow tarp to await the arrival of someone from the coroner’s office. Any personal items are placed on top of the corpse.

On a rainy Monday night in January 1958, Scott Perkins, a young stockbroker was leaving San Francisco, carefully heading across the Golden Gate Bridge to his home in Marin County. Scott had stayed much later at the bachelor party for his friend than he had intended. Tomorrow was a workday and the last thing he needed was to start his Tuesday with no sleep and a hangover.

After work on Monday, Perkins had met a group of friends at a bar on Van Ness for dinner. It was a bachelor party for his co-worker and friend, Michael Smith. But things had gotten out of hand. It was now nearly midnight and he had way too much to drink.

Scott’s hope was to carefully drive over the bridge to the exit near his apartment building without hitting anything or encountering a cop. If either of those things did occur, Scott was undoubtedly on his way to jail.

He was in the home stretch.  Scott slowly navigated his red 1953 Ford through the streets of San Francisco and had successfully found the on-ramp to climb onto the Golden Gate Bridge.

Now all he had to do was to drive straight across the bridge and take the off-ramp near his house, just over a mile into Marin County.

There were very few cars on the Golden Gate Bridge at this late hour on a Monday night. Suddenly, Scott spotted a car in the traffic lane just ahead of him. Struggling with his slow reactions, Scott thought of switching lanes to go around the slow-moving car but for some reason he didn’t.

Then to his horror, Scott realized that the car was stopped in the traffic lane.  He slammed on his brakes.

Scott winced, praying that he had hit his brakes in time. It was going to be close.

He then heard a sickening thud and felt the impact. Scott’s Ford slid on the wet pavement into the back of the giant fins of a 1957 red Chrysler New Yorker.

Hopefully, it was just a fender bender.  Scott glanced over at the nearby lane to make sure there were no cars coming. He bailed out of his Ford and went to survey the damage.

Scott’s Ford had a broken headlight and maybe a small dent in the front bumper.  The back of the Chrysler had more damage. The taillight on the driver’s side of the Chrysler was broken and the large fin was crumpled.

Scott staggered forward to see if the driver of the Chrysler was all right.

Why was this car stopped in the middle of the Golden Gate Bridge? It wasn’t stalled. The engine was still running and the automatic transmission was in park.  He couldn’t see the driver.

In his confused state, he opened the door of the Chrysler. There was no driver. He glanced into the backseat, which was empty. The scene was surreal to Scott Perkins in his altered state. For some reason Scott could hear Connie Francis singing, “Who’s Sorry Now?” Then he realized that the radio was playing and the windshield wipers were running.

Where was the driver?

Scott was sobering up quickly. He was mystified at the abandoned car.

It was then that an explanation occurred to him. He glanced towards the nearby pedestrian walkway and the railing of the Golden Gate Bridge.

The driver had apparently stopped his car and jumped off of the bridge.

Reprinted from Deadly Plunge by Greg Messel. © 2012 by Greenbriar Book Company

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Interview with Kay Marshall Strom, author of ‘The Love of Divena’

Kay Marshall Strom

Kay Marshall Strom is the author of forty published books.  Her writing credits also include numerous magazine articles, short stories, curriculum, stories for children, two prize-winning screenplays, and booklets for writers.  Kay speaks at seminars, retreats, and special events throughout the country.  She and her husband Dan Kline love to travel, and more and more Kay’s writing and speaking take her around the word.

Her latest book is the Christian historical fiction, The Love of Divena.

To find out more about Kay, or for contact information, check her website at www.kaystrom.com.

Visit Kay at Twitter: http://twitter.com/kaysblab

Like Kay at Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=251622274091&id=738699091#!/profile.php?id=738699091

Pick up your copy of The Love of Divena at Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/The-Love-Divena-Blessings-India/dp/1426709102/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1348760002&sr=8-1&keywords=the+love+of+divena

Pick up your copy of The Love of Divena at the publisher’s website: http://abingdonpress.com/forms/ProductDetail.aspx?pid=7312

Q: Thank you for this interview, Kay. Can you tell us what your latest book, The Love of Divena, is all about?

The trilogy centers around an Untouchable family and the high caste landlords who own them. Set in rural India in 1990, this final book tells the story of a little girl abandoned by her father and left on the doorstep of her desperately poor grandmother. Practically every area of the grandmother’s life is bound up in the constraints of society: her outcaste status, her poverty, her religion. But Divena sees the promise of a wider world. The choices she makes rock the world of both families and shake the foundation of an entire culture.

The Love of Divena

The main character of each of the books in the trilogy has a name that means “blessing” in Hindi.  Hence the series title, Blessings in India. Divena, the main character in this book, loves her grandmother dearly, but she cannot accept the older woman’s resigned attitude of “This is how it has always been, and this is how it always will be.”  Adventurous and persistent—also desperate—Divena determines she will change her life.  She does, in ways her grandmother Shridula (book 2) and her great-grandfather Ashish (book 1) never could.

Divena’s grandmother is Shridula, the young mover and shaker of book 2 (The Hope of Shridula). But the years have weighed heavily on her. Trapped by poverty and her low status as a female outcaste, the spark of hope has long since faded away.  When she sees the scrawny waif left on her doorstep, she is overcome by memories. Yet she tells the child, “You did not want to be left in my doorway, and I did not want you left here because I have no money to buy food for you. But here you are, so we will live together.”  When she changes the girl’s name from Anjan (fear) to Divena (Blessing), she has no idea how prophetic that name is.

The other major character is the wealthy, educated young man being groomed to inherit his father’s land—and also his father’s village of bonded servants.  The family is Christian, though that means little to them beyond freedom from Hindu constraints. But the son is a far different person than his father. In his objection to his father’s oppression of the laborers, he is drawn back to his family’s true Christian roots where he finds more than he bargained for.

Q: Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?

Without a doubt, characters are inspired by people I’ve met on my nine trips to India. There really was a little girl abandoned by her father and left on her unsuspecting grandfather’s doorstep.  I think this reality base is important for a book such as this because so many people find it absolutely unbelievable that such oppression and abuses are still around today.

Q: Are you consciously aware of the plot before you begin a novel, or do you discover it as you write?

Yes and yes. I write out a basic chapter outline before I begin, sort of like a map to where I’m going with the book. But as I write, things change.  Some events seem contrived, so I change them.  Or I drop them altogether. Characters get pushy and begin to go their own way, to get themselves into more difficulties than I anticipated.  Thanks to discoveries along the way, I end up with a better book than the one I plotted in the beginning.

Q: Your book is set in South India.  Can you tell us why you chose this place in particular?

Several years ago I had the opportunity to travel throughout Ireland with the advance team of the movie Amazing Grace. Sam Paul, a team member from India, spoke about modern day slavery as it exists there. It is the most prevalent cause of slavery today.  On the last day of our time together as a team, Sam Paul asked me, “Why don’t you write about my people?  We need someone to speak for us. Why don’t you write about us?”  So I did.  I chose to set the story in rural South India because that is an area in which I have spent quite a bit of time and where I know a number of people.

Q: Does the setting play a major part in the development of your story?

Absolutely. Without the setting, there would be no story.  The location—as well as the Indian society in which it is immersed—forms the only world in which the story could exist.

Q: Open the book to page 69.  What is happening?

Oh, good spot!  Sixteen-year-old Divena has spent the past years trudging back and forth from the market with a basket of vegetables from her grandmother’s garden balanced on her head. In blistering heat and in monsoon rain. Lots of work for so few pennies earned.  Beckoned by the sweet fragrance of ripe mangos hanging on a tree, but warned by the tree’s owner not to touch them, Divena proposes a trade: some of her vegetables for a couple of mangos.  The woman drives a hard bargain, but the barter pulls Divena into a much wider world of possibilities. On Page 69, Divena makes her first foray into business.

Q: Can you give us one of your best excerpts?

Little Daniel stood up and scowled at his leaning block tower. “Not good!” he pronounced, and he kicked it over.  Joanna giggled and clapped her little hands.

“Would it not be wonderful if we could solve our problems so easily?” Ramesh asked with a laugh.  “If all of India could?”

Baruch grabbed his son and pulled the child to him. As Daniel squirmed, Joanna climbed onto her father’s lap.  “Here it is, right in my grasp,” Baruch Sundar said as he hugged his children.  “New hope for India.”

Q: Have you suffered from writer’s block and what do you do to get back on track?

I have to say, I don’t believe in writer’s block.  I mean, what happens if a dentist gets dentist’s block?  He gets busy and works on teeth.  When I get writer’s block, I get busy and write.  It helps that I generally have a couple of projects going.  If I’m stuck on one, I work on the other.

Q: What would you do with an extra hour today if you could do anything you wanted?

Mmmmm, what a delightful thought!  I think I would head out to our hot tub/spa and read.

Q: Which already published book do you wish that you had written and why?

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.  I love the way C.S. Lewis wrote a book that works on so many different levels.  Eight-year-olds are transfixed with the tale of talking animals and witches, families read the book together for its moral values, and theology students take entire courses on it.  What a gift to be able to write a book like that!

Q: What kind of advice would you give other fiction authors regarding getting their books out there?

It is a tough field today, with so many books out there. I would say, demonstrate your writing by blogging.  Offer to write guest posts for other bloggers.  Speak wherever you can—at the library, at service clubs, in your church or other associations—and always have your book on hand.  But remember, you must not come across sounding like an advertisement.  Your listeners will be asking, “What’s in this for me?”  What they want to hear from you is, “A wonderfully entertaining story, and even more.  Much, much more.”

Q: Thank you so much for this interview, Kay.  We wish you much success!

Thank you for talking with me.

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YA Fantasy Authors Ray East and Sam D on Voluspa Virtual Book Publicity Tour 2012

Pump Up Your Book is pleased to announce Ray East & Sam D’s Voluspa Virtual Book Publicity Tour beginning August 6 and ending on October 26 2012. Ray and Sam will be on hand during their nationwide tour talking about their book in candid interviews and guest posts! As an added bonus, Ray and Sam’s tour is also part of a Kindle Fire Giveaway! To find out more details visit their official tour page at http://www.pumpupyourbook.com/2012/06/24/pump-up-your-book-presents-voluspa-a-magical-world-virtual-book-publicity-tour-2012-kindle-fire-giveaway/.

Voluspa long bannerAbout Ray East & Sam D

Ray East and Sam D has moved to Voluspa and live in the Forest of Skotos with their 5 year old daughter and a pet Typhon. They visit Earth with the help of an Empath from time to time. Ray East did her masters in Phsychology from Univeristy of Sussex and has worked as a counselor for adolescents. Sam D used to teach at a SPJC before he moved to Voluspa.

Their latest book is Voluspa: A Magical World.

To get your copy of VOLUSPA: A MAGICAL WORLD by Sam D & Ray East at Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/VOLUSPA-A-Magical-World-Sam-D/dp/0985681608/ref=pd_rhf_ee_p_t_1

To get your e-copy of VOLUSPA: A MAGICAL WORLD by Sam D & Ray East for your Kindle at Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Voluspa-A-Magical-World-ebook/dp/B008BCZBTE/ref=tmm_kin_title_0

Order your copy of VOLUSPA: A MAGICAL WORLD by Sam D. & Ray East at B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/voluspa-a-magical-world-sam-d/1111523622?ean=2940014770675

To learn more about Sam D and Ray East, visit their website: www.magicalworldofvoluspa.com

Visit Sam D & Ray East on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/voluspa

Like Sam D & Ray East on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/worldofvoluspa

Follow Sam D & Ray East at Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/15592516-voluspa

About Voluspa: A Magical World

Centuries ago, war between aliens and humans almost destroyed the world. To prevent such a war from happening again, a mighty ruler then formed a secret society of nine powerful humans and aliens called the Bramhas. These Bramhas each wrote a book imparting ancient wisdom and knowledge. The possession of these books could bring about untold power and success. The nine books were hidden but the desire to possess those books, still cause men to fight wars and turn against each other. One such war was fought in the realm of Voluspa decades back; the consequences of that war still resonate in this magical land. Two young lovers get caught in this tussle and it changes their destinies forever.

Amy’s humdrum life takes a complete 180’ turn with the death of her stepfather. She goes to live with her grandmother – her only living relative, though she hasn’t seen her in the last five years. Among her mother’s childhood memorabilia, she finds a book ‘Legends of Voluspa’ that captures her imagination. She becomes so engrossed in the book that she starts dreaming about the places in the book till one night she finds herself inexplicably transported to the new world – Voluspa, as described in the book. Here she meets Drake, who unknown to her is a shape shifter. Chemistry cackles between the two from the very first and as they discover that they share a lot in common, a tenuous bond forms between the two. ‘I’ll keep you safe’ vows Drake and he remains true to his word as he befriends her and saves her from various troubles that befall her over the next couple of months.

In Voluspa, Amy discovers a new way of life. It’s a magical world inhabited by primarily four clans – Empaths, Morphus, Mendens and the Pulchrous. The Empaths have the power of mind, the Morphus are the shape shifters, Mendens are the healers while the Pulchrous possess physical perfection and strength. With the help of an old family friend, Amy takes her rightful place in the Empath clan. This marks a new chapter in Amy’s life. She realizes her own powers and subsequently starts going to a school to enhance the same. With Drake by her side, she makes some wonderful friends. However, her life is not all smooth sailing; trouble comes when she learns the truth about her biological parents. She realizes that her very existence is against Voluspan law which forbids the union between individuals belonging to two different clans. History threatens to repeat itself as she realizes that her predicament was not that different from what her mother had faced, decades back. She is totally in love with Drake, who belongs to the Morphus clan.

The enchanting world of Voluspa is far from Utopic; it has barely recovered from a devastating war fought twenty years back when the peace of the land is once again threatened by Gangrels, the evil army of aliens. The two young lovers soon realize that besides contending with forbidden love, they have to deal with other impediments. Ancient enmities, a past war, a much coveted book, all conspire against the two lovers. Gangrels reappear in Voluspa and Drake falls in the clutches of one such evil being who would stop at nothing to realize his fiendish ambitions. Amy and her friends cross realms, face enemies, deal with challenges, solve riddles and brave possible destruction, as they set off on an adventure to rescue Drake. The ‘Force of Sutra’ clashes with the ‘Elemental Force’ of the Gangrels as Amy and her friends are faced with an indomitable enemy. They use strategic warfare, pit adversaries among themselves and use every last drop of strength, skill and courage as they take on warriors far more ruthless and skilled than themselves.

As Amy embarks upon a quest to save Drake, her love for him is tested at every turn but she never wavers from her objective. Braving imminent death she manages to reach Drake – only to find a changed person. Gone is the man she is in love with, instead a dangerous stranger stood in his place. This Drake was teetering at the edge between becoming completely evil and retaining his own soul. He almost harms Amy but stops himself at the very last minute. His love for Amy proves to be stronger than the evil entity threatening to overpower him. However when chips are down, Drake comes through. He sets aside his personal well-being in order to save Amy, one last time. Drake is perhaps lost forever but hope dies last – Amy is determined to get back Drake, no matter what the cost.

About Pump Up Your Book

Pump Up Your Book handles all the aspects of virtual book touring from pre-buzzing your book before the tour starts to making sure buyers will find your book long after the tour is over. If you are the author of a newly published book, have an upcoming release or just want to give a previously published book new life, a virtual book tour with Pump Up Your Book is the answer. We welcome traditionally published, electronically published and self-published authors. Our esteem list of clients include Claire Cook, Caridad Pineiro, C.W. Gortner, Barbara Bretton, Cody McFayden, James Hayman, Karen White, Kathleen Willey, Lisa Daily, Lisa Jackson, Mary Burton, Nancy Thayer, Randy Sue Coburn, Ray Comfort, Sandi Kahn Shelton, Sheila Roberts, Therese Fowler, Hope Edelman, Wendy Wax, Jon Meacham, Shobhan Bantwal, Pat Williams, Jane Green, Judge Glenda Hatchett and cook show personality Paula Deen. We also represent Random House, Abingdon Press, Zumaya Publications, WND Books, Sheaf House Publishers, New Hope Publishers, Guardian Angel Publishers, Genesis Press, and Moody Publishing. Contact us to find out what we can do for you and your book!

If you’d like to interview Ray or Sam or review their book, contact Dorothy Thompson at thewriterslife(at)gmail.com. Pump Up Your Book is an innovative public relations agency specializing in online book promotion for authors. Visit us at www.pumpupyourbook.com.

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The Right Way and the Wrong Way to Promote Your Book Online: I Choose the Wrong Way by Susan Wingate

The Right Way and the Wrong Way to Promote Your Book Online: I Choose the Wrong Way

By Susan Wingate

Of late, every time I teach at a writing conference, the program coordinators slate a workshop with a title something like this: How to Blog Effectively or The Art of Blogging. You get the idea. They have rules like: never blog without knowing the topic you’ll be discussing; and, try to blog in your niche. Words of wisdom for sure however if your niche is writing or more succinctly, novel writing, well every Johnny out there has a blog about it. It seems the blogging market for how-to-write has become glutted.

For me, blog writing is secondary to novel writing and so I use my blog to grease my creative and technical skills. I like humor too so I sort of play around when I blog. I get silly even.

For instance, I broke out in a huge full-body rash this past April and because this new development sent me on an adventure to the doctor, I decided to blog about it. Wise in the eyes of blogging experts? I dare say not. But did it get noticed? Oh. My. Yes. That one blog post brought the most visitors to my website in months. Since then, I post everything and anything that comes to mind. Sometimes these postings are about writing but I always add a bit of humor to them. People like to laugh, plain and simple. Today’s blog, July 2nd, tells about the time my husband called me a hermit. Of course, my husband, Bob gives me tons of great fodder for writing. He makes me laugh because he doesn’t understand me. This paradoxical relationship makes for great humor. We’re terribly in love with one another but, still, he’s a businessman and I’m an artist. The rift between these two mindsets can seem as deep as the Mariana Trench.

Anyway, I tend to believe that people like to laugh. Writing funny makes me laugh too. Maybe it doesn’t meet The Idiot’s Guide to Blogging but if everyone’s laughing then we all win. Right?

About the Author:

Most recently, Susan Wingate’s novels, SPIDER BRAINS and DROWNING each reached Amazon Bestseller status in 2012. DROWNING won the 2011 Forward National Literature Award for Drama. She would love for you to read her books. You can find them all under the tab on this site labeled “Books”. SUSAN has written eleven novels, two short story collections, a few plays, one screenplay and tons of poems. Her latest 2011 novel DROWNING  (contemporary women’s fiction), won 1st place in the 2011 Forward National Literature Award and also won a finalist award for the category of Women’s Fiction/Chick Lit in the 2011 International Book Awards. A vibrant public speaker, Susan offers inspiring, motivational talks about the craft of writing, publishing and marketing, and how to survive this extremely volatile (e-)Publishing industry. She presents these lectures for private groups and at writing conferences, libraries and bookstores around the country.

To get your copy of SPIDER BRAINS by Susan Wingate:http://www.amazon.com/Spider-Brains-Love-Story-ebook/dp/B007KDAS0C/ref=la_B003CMMERK_1_6?ie=UTF8&qid=1339336080&sr=1-6

To view all books by Susan Wingate: http://www.amazon.com/Susan-Wingate/e/B003CMMERK/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

To learn more about Susan, go to her website: http://www.susanwingate.com

Visit Susan Wingate on Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/susanwingate

Like Susan Wingate on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/susanwingate.author

Follow Susan Wingate on Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/susanwingate/susan-wingate-s-books/

About the Book:

If one were to bake the story SPIDER BRAINS into a cake, they should sprinkle in Charlotte’s Web, toss in one Jellicle Cat, then stir in a little Spiderman—but as a girl and not in that goofy latex outfit! A tale of hope, transformation, transition and inspiration.

After her father’s death last year and, now, in the throes of a gnarly teacher’s whim as she thinks ahead to college (or really just dreams of getting into college), a small black arachnid bites fifteen-year-old Susie Speider on the finger. The bite sends her nights into fantastical dreams about taking revenge on a teacher who, ultimately, holds her college aspirations in the palm of her cold calloused hand. But, after Susie figures out the dreams are real, she ups the ante by visiting the teacher regularly… as the spider! And, oh, by the way! Who is that boy spider munching on flies, hiding over there in the corner? A story of loss and forgiveness, tolerance and kindness, Susie Speider deals with the death of her father while Matt Ryder–the new neighbor boy–has just lost his mother. Ultimately, SPIDER BRAINS poses some important questions about how to treat Attention-Deficit-Disorder.

 

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