Mystery Authors Rosemary & Larry Mild Share Their Favorite Books

Larry’s Favorites:

  1. Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett. Follett whisked me back to the twelfth century to teach me what life was all about in those times: how the church owned and rented the lands, how knights were financed to go to war, how wool was processed, how monasteries were managed, and how the flying buttresses came to be the standard for the great cathedrals of medieval England. The interactive story is told by the characters. It’s fodder for the curious and fun to read such an engaging story about the people who lived there in those times.
  1. The Eight by Katherine Neville. Starting with the Moorish invention in the time of Charlemagne, Neville weaves the history of chess and the roles it played into a modern adventure-suspense and quest story. You are taken to the times and places so seamlessly: France, Italy, Turkey, and North Africa—the Atlas mountains, and all the time stops in between. It was one of the most memorable rides through history I’ve ever experienced. I commend her on her research.
  1. Shogun by James Clavell. What an adventure—a British ocean-navigator stranded in seventeenth-century Japan, land of strange laws, customs, rituals, and ideas. A militant people, who viewed the stranger from the West as unclean and uncultured, gradually learn that he has value and something can be learned from him to the point where they can’t release him to go home. The book reveals so much about a top-down feudal/Samurai system that I had a hard time putting it down.
  1. Uhuru by Robert Ruark. How about a trip into Kenya where humbled African families are subjugated by a harsh, white-supremacist society? Now travel deeper into the jungle, where a secret Mau Mau reactionary group imposes a tortuous ritual to ensure fealty to the group. Follow the young man, who is torn between his oath to the Mau Mau uprising and his entree into freedom, love, and a place in black society. The book helped me to begin to understand the cruel plight and unfair trials facing these people. Uhuru, meaning freedom in Swahili, remains unforgettable, right along with Ruark’s Poor No More.
  1. The Source by James Michener. I enjoyed the way Michener peeled back the layers of the earth like the much-clichéd onion and created a fictional story for each layer. A character, a relic, a plot for each layer made me feel that I was in Israel for the archaeological dig at this tell—being surprised along with the fictional discoverers. I especially appreciated the story of the deformed man who engineered the tunnel between the besieged fortress and the wadi source of drinking water. I got a sense of what it might have been like had I been there.

Rosemary’s Favorites: 

  1. The Day of the Jackal by Frederick Forsyth. In 1962 a French secret army organization sets out to assassinate President Charles de Gaulle—in revenge for him granting Algerian independence. The most unlikely assassin is chosen: an obscure, blond Englishman. Breathlessly, we follow this sophisticated killer, dubbed “the jackal,“ on the way to his mission. Forsyth’s command of detail—strategies, murders committed along the way—took me inside the killer’s head and kept me up half of many nights. But it was worth it!
  1. Strangers on a Train by Patricia Highsmith. A successful but naïve young architect meets a friendly fellow named Bruno during a long train ride and reveals more of his unhappy marriage than he means to. But friendship is hardly Bruno’s intent. He proposes a sinister exchange of actions, trapping the architect in a psychological web fraught with deceit and violence. This astonishing novel is so compelling that I keep re-reading it and getting myself sucked in over and over again.
  1. The Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe. I love reading about monumental arrogance taken down, This novel portrays the rise and fall of Wall Street’s top bond trader, who considers himself a “Master of the Universe.” In truth, he lives in luxury at the mercy of his wife, who “hemorrhages money.” Wolfe opened my eyes to the real New York City of the 1980s: a hungry prosecutor in the Bronx; ruthless politicos and judges; gold-digging mistresses, and justified outrage in Harlem.
  1. Girl With a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier. In class-conscious seventeenth-century Holland, Jan Vermeer’s wife hires a young penniless maid, who quickly becomes a source of fascination for the painter. That fascination turns into an obsession. The novel was meticulously researched. I felt like I was walking the streets of Delft, then spying on the painter in his studio. Best of all, it delves into Vermeer’s bewitching, mercurial personality and the havoc he wreaks on his family as he paints the now-world-famous “Girl With a Pearl Earring.”
  1. A Map of the World by Jane Hamilton. This exquisitely written book is set on a serene farm in Wisconsin. Alice’s biggest problem that morning is her five-year-old’s temper tantrum. But catastrophe strikes; the impossible happens. The story is told first by Alice, and then by her husband. What I loved about it are the insights and observations, told in language remarkably simple, but pin-point fresh—couched in a gripping plot with hold-your-breath suspense.

 

mild5ROSEMARY AND LARRY MILD, cheerful partners in crime, coauthor mystery, suspense, and fantasy fiction. Their popular Hawaii novels, Cry Ohana and its sequel Honolulu Heat, vibrate with island color, local customs, and exquisite scenery. Also by the Milds: The Paco and Molly Murder Mysteries: Locks and Cream Cheese, Hot Grudge Sunday, and Boston Scream Pie. And the Dan and Rivka Sherman Mysteries: Death Goes Postal, Death Takes A Mistress, and Death Steals A Holy Book. Plus: Unto the Third Generation, A Novella of the Future, and three collections of wickedly entertaining mystery stories—Murder, Fantasy, and Weird Tales; The Misadventures of Slim O. Wittz, Soft-Boiled Detective; and Copper and Goldie, 13 Tails of Mystery and Suspense in Hawai‘i.Cover ARt

ROSEMARY, a graduate of Smith College and former assistant editor of Harper’s, also delves into her own nonfiction life. She  published two memoirs: Love! Laugh! Panic! Life With My Mother and the acclaimed Miriam’s World—and Mine, for the beloved daughter they lost in the terrorist bombing of Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland. On her lighter side, Rosemary also writes award-winning humorous essays, such as failing the test to get on Jeopardy; and working for a giant free-spending corporation on a sudden budget: “No new pencil unless you turn in the old stub.”

LARRY, who was only called Lawrence when he’d done something wrong, graduated from American University in Information Systems Management. In 2019 he published his autobiography, No Place To Be But Here: My Life and Times, which traces his thirty-eight-year professional engineering career from its beginning as an electronics technician in the U.S. Navy, to a field engineer riding Navy ships, to a digital systems/instrument designer for major Government contractors in the signal analysis field, to where he rose to the most senior level of principal engineer when he retired in 1993.

Making use of his past creativity and problem-solving abilities, Larry naturally drifted into the realm of mystery writing, where he also claims to be more devious than his partner in crime and best love, Rosemary. So he conjures up their plots and writes the first drafts, leaving Rosemary to breathe life into their characters and sizzle into their scenes. A perfect marriage of their talents.

THE MILDS are active members of Sisters in Crime where Larry is a Mister in Crime; Mystery Writers of America; and Hawaii Fiction Writers. In 2013 they waved goodbye to Severna Park, Maryland and moved to Honolulu, Hawaii, where they cherish quality time with their daughters and grandchildren. When Honolulu hosted Left Coast Crime in 2017, Rosemary and Larry were the program co-chairs for “Honolulu Havoc.”

Over a dozen worldwide trips to Japan, China, Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, Cambodia, Burma, Great Britain, France, Italy, Israel, Egypt, and more have wormed their way into their amazing stories. In their limited spare time, they are active members of the Honolulu Jewish Film Festival committee, where Larry is the statistician and recordkeeper for their film ratings.

Links to Site  and Social Media:

https://www.magicile.com

https://www.facebook.com/rosemary.mild.1

https://www.linkedin.com/in/rosemary-mild-930

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Interview with Patrick Stull, author of Encounters

American artist Patrick Stull has spent the last eighteen years mostly creating imagery about the lives of women. He searches for what lies beneath the surface of his subjects, empowering each one he encounters. He has recently ventured into the realm of surrealism, creating powerful imagery that reflects on our humanity while dealing with the meaning and power of art.

His latest book is the fine art photography book, Encounters.

Visit his website at www.patrickstull.com.

Book Description:

With photography at its base, Stull offers a nuanced explication of his encounters to allow the viewer an opportunity to form a relationship with his art. While looking within ourselves, exploring our own feelings, he hopes that he will inspire greater humaneness in response to his art.

ENCOUNTERS is the second in a series of six large-format books in which artist, photographer and author, Patrick Stull explores a wide range of experiences. Using light and the physical body, the written word and his artistry he creates imagery that examines aspects of the lives of women.

Compiled over the last 18 years, the images in ENCOUNTERS, Stull says, are meant to “inspire and challenge the observer while always empowering the subject.”

Stull brings a powerful sense of the surreal and the spiritual to his work as he plots a course along the many paths of the human experience. His imagery runs from the ghostly and ephemeral to the flowing and fiery.

As much as he concentrates on the human form, Stull never forgets to focus on the humanity of his subjects. His choice of the coffee-table style book format draws the viewer into an experience both intimate and universal.

Stull’s first book in his series, titled EVOLVE, was published in 2006. A third book, titled HIDDEN DIMENSIONS, is completed and awaiting publication. Future titles in the series include DHARMA, BEING DIFFERENT, and YOGA, A HEALING MOMENT.

Stull hopes that his readers come away from the book with “a love for art and a respect for the female who gives us life and challenges us to be better human beings.

Women seem to play an important role in your photography. What is it about women that makes your photography portraying them so unique?

Patrick: Women allow me into their lives in the most intimate, artistic ways. Then I use light, the camera and other elements to present their bodies and talents, while sharing their stories.

I haphazardly fell into photographing women, working with them and explicating their lives and bodies with the camera. Photographers dedicate their lives to many different areas of interest. I have spent almost two decades working with women, in all stages of life and in many circumstances. Women are the most amazing and fascinating subjects. They inspire me to continue my work. If they trust you, they allow you to enter their worlds of fashion, their moments of creating new life, their pain of being raped, the challenges of being a female dancer or performer and the misogyny to which they are subjected.

Of all your photography, what would you say is your very favorite?

Patrick: This is a challenging question. It’s like asking me to choose between my children.

My portrait work is the most exciting thing for me to create. A portrait is more intimate than photographing any other part of the body. Portraits allow me the privilege to peer into a woman’s soul. She exposes herself in a way that’s most intense. The face, the eyes, skin and hair tell all. If I had to choose the one image that has penetrated my artistic being, it would be the family portrait of three females, together. The image is a side perspective of mother, daughter and granddaughter.

The power of the image is that of presenting the passage of time, allowing one to connect to the process of life. The viewer journeys from youth to the aging matriarch. Everyone that views the image has different reactions. Some see it as confrontational, others love its power as I do. No matter what, the image penetrates my being and has a disruptive humanistic message that connects me to women, my nature and my ultimate purpose, that of discovery.

And what a stunning cover. Why did you choose this particular photo?

Patrick: The cover of a book is one of the most difficult things to decide upon. I think I had at least ten of them during the process. I wanted something that was mysterious like a woman’s personality.

Have you always had an eye for beauty through the lens of a camera?

Patrick: I think I was born with an interest in visual composition. My relationship to the camera began in my late teens. As long as I can remember, I was fascinated and intrigued by its magic and power. Needless to say, “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” That said, my focus is to present something captivating and it is up to the audience to determine “beauty”.

What message are you trying to convey with your photography that you hope people will ‘get’?

Patrick: I would like the viewers to reflect on their humanity, the power of art and a woman’s uniqueness. Photography stops time, unveils our natures and most of all offers a voyeuristic relationship to the world. Encounters, as with any art, is about the viewer. It is what they bring to the viewing experience as their eye’s transverse the images. The reality and power of the images, hinge on how emotionally they impact the viewer’s psyche. My wish is that the viewer acquires a deeper appreciation and respect for their own humanity, their bodies and this amazing creature we call female.

Is there anything you’d like to tell your readers and fans?

I created Encounters to share my love of photography, the written word and the female form. The book is a labor of love – a letter to all from which I hope to inspire motivation toward a greater sense of our humanity – in thought and in our daily actions toward one and other. With the greatest respect, please enjoy.

_______________________________________

 

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Review: From Idea to Reality: An Entrepreneur’s Guide to Meaningful Business Growth, by Jean Paulynice

From-idea-to-reality-FRONT-CoverTitle: From Idea to Reality: An Entrepreneur’s Guide to Meaningful Business Growth

Author: Jean Paul Paulynice, MBA

Publisher: PAULYNICE CONSULTING GROUP, LLC

Publisher’s contact info: INFO@PAULYNICECONSULTING.COM

Website: https://www.jeanpaulpaulynice.com/

Genre: Self-help/Inspirational

Publication Date: June 2019

ISBN: 978-1-7330427-1-0   (Hardback)    $19.99

ISBN: 978-1-7330427-2-7   (Paperback)  $14.99

ISBN: 978-1-7330427-7-2   (eBook)         $7.99

Find out more on Amazon.

Jean Paulynice draws from personal experience, revealing the secrets he shares with clients and provides you with essential information as if he were your own personal coach guiding you along the way.

By using this workbook, which has ample space for notes, you’ll be able to brainstorm, self reflect, and develop a plan/strategy, as well as become aware of not only your strengths but also your weaknesses and obstacles. In addition, you’ll be able to join a community of like-minded entrepreneurs.

Written in an engaging, conversational style, “From Idea to Reality” will help push you forward and gather momentum, improving your chances of discovering and fulfilling your true potential and increasing your chance of success. No matter your type of entrepreneurship, this book will be helpful if you’re starting out or would like to take your business to the next level.

 

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Interview with YA Fantasty Author Shami Stovall: ‘I define success by the reaction people have when they finish a novel’

Shami Stovall relies on her BA in History and Juris Doctorate to make her living as an author and history professor in the central valley of California. She writes in a wide range of fiction, from crime thrillers to fantasy to science-fiction. Stovall loves reading, playing video games, entertaining others with stories, and writing about herself in the third person.

Website: https://sastovallauthor.com/

Blog: https://sastovallauthor.com/blog/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/@GameOverStation/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SAStovall/

KNIGHTMARE ARCANIST BOOK BLURB

In a world populated by mythical creatures, those who bond with them are known as arcanists—their magic stemming from the connection they forged. Phoenix arcanists gain flames and healing, unicorn arcanists speak with horses and manipulate poison, or even basilisk arcanists who control flesh and stone.

But those wishing to bond must first prove themselves.

Gravedigger Volke Savan, desperate to leave his tiny home island and impress the most beautiful girl he’s ever known, breaks every tradition of the bonding ceremony just to become an arcanist. But when the only creature who will bond with him has a sinister requirement, Volke is put to the ultimate test of worth.

A fast-paced flintlock fantasy for those who enjoy How to Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell, Unsouled (Cradle Series) by Will Wight, and Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan.

ORDER YOUR COPY:

Amazon

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07QMKVFJM

Q: Thank you for this interview. Can you tell us a little bit about your writing background?

Thank you for having me!

My writing started when I began playing Dungeons & Dragons for the first time. If you’re the Dungeon Master (the person running the game) you have to make up the story. People thought my stories were so fun and engaging that they encouraged me to write novels.

At first, I wrote them for only my friends. I figured it wouldn’t go anywhere, but the more my friends read, the more they encouraged me to branch out. Soon I had an agent, and I was publishing with a full blown publishing house!

Life is crazy. Sometimes you just have to let it take you where it wants. That’s why I’m here to showcase my novel, Knightmare Arcanist!

Q: What fact about yourself that would really surprise people?

My father’s family is from Spain.

You see, I have the complexion of mayonnaise, and a bizarre first name, so people assume my family is from Scandinavia or something, but most of my family is Spanish.

Q: How do you define success in regards to writing and publishing books? 

I define success by the reaction people have when they finish a novel. If they liked it, they’ll let you know. If they thought it was okay, they’ll likely not say anything. And if they hate, they’ll also let you know! So, in my experience, I’m successful whenever someone gushes over my story or characters.

Q: Can you tell us about your new book? What’s it about and why did you write it?

My new book, Knightmare Arcanist, is about a gravedigger who just became an adult. He wants to wield magic (who doesn’t?) and be just like his hero, Gregory Ruma. But before he can become an arcanist, he has a pass a trial of worth.

I wrote the novel because I had a ton of great ideas for it. I thought, “What if it turns out Gregory Ruma was evil? And only the main character knew it?” – It created a lot of interesting scenarios in my head.

Q: When you are not writing, how do you relax?

I play video games or Dungeons & Dragons.

Q: Please tell us why we should read your book?

  • Because you want a good story.
  • Because you like action and/or adventure.
  • Because you like mythical creatures (phoenixes, dragons, unicorns, etc.)
  • Because you enjoy stories similar to “How to Train Your Dragon” and “Percy Jackson.”
  • Because my fortune teller advised you do it.

Q: What kind of advice would you give other authors just getting their feet wet?

Keep at it! Writing takes a lot of hard work and practice. And make sure to have beta readers and a writer’s group! Very helpful as well.

 

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Review: It’s Time to Start Living with Passion! My Journey to Self Discovery, by Jean Paul Paulynice

Beyond the Books

START-LIVING

Title: It’s Time to Start Living with Passion! My Journey to Self Discovery

Author: Jean Paul Paulynice, MBA

Publisher: PAULYNICE CONSULTING GROUP, LLC

Publisher’s contact info: INFO@PAULYNICECONSULTING.COM

Website: https://www.jeanpaulpaulynice.com/

Non-Fiction

Genre: Self-help/Inspirational

Publication Date: May 30, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-7330427-9-6 (Hardback)      $16.99

ISBN: 978-1-7335601-9-1 (Paperback)    $9.99

ISBN: 978-1-7330427-0-3 (eBook)           $3.99

ISBN: 978-1-7335601-2-2 (Audiobook)   $3.95

Do you feel as though you’re on autopilot, going through the motions every day—wake up, go to work, come back home, have dinner, sleep, repeat—without real meaning, depth, and purpose in your life?

Even if you have a fulfilling job and earn a good salary, that doesn’t mean you’ve found your passion in life. The problem is, finding your passion can be elusive, especially in our present society where we are constantly seeking external validation from others and are being judged in public platforms more than ever (i.e…

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First Chapter Reveal: The Desire Card by Lee Matthew Goldberg

 

Title: THE DESIRE CARD
Author: Lee Matthew Goldberg
Publisher: Fahrenheit Press
Pages: TBA
Genre: Crime/Suspense

BOOK BLURB:

Any wish fulfilled for the right price. That’s the promise the Desire Card gives to its elite clients. But if the Card doesn’t feel like they’ve been justly compensated, the “price” will be more menacing than the clients could ever imagine.

Harrison Stockton learns this lesson all too well. Harrison has lived an adult life of privilege and excess: a high-powered job on Wall Street along with a fondness for alcohol and pills, and a family he adores, yet has no time for. All of this comes crashing to a halt when he loses his executive job and discovers he has liver cirrhosis with mere months left to live.

After finding himself far down on the donor list, Harrison takes matters into his own hands. This decision sparks a gritty and gripping quest that takes him to the slums of Mumbai in search of a black market organ and forces him under the Desire Card’s thumb. When his moral descent threatens his wife and children, Harrison must decide whether to save himself at any cost, or do what’s right and put a stop to the Card.

THE DESIRE CARD is a taut international thriller that explores what a man will do to survive when money isn’t always enough to get everything he desires. It’s the first book in a series followed by PREY NO MORE that focuses on other people indebted to this sinister organization, where the actual price is the cost of one’s soul.

PRAISE:

“Careful what you wish for, especially from a nefarious shadow organization, in this gripping start to Lee Matthew Goldberg’s fast-paced, highly compelling, buzz worthy new series. If you love characters morally compromised, richly drawn, and constantly surprising, you’ll love THE DESIRE CARD. I burned through the first book and can’t wait to get my hands on PREY NO MORE to see where this endlessly exciting story takes me next! Loved it!” – Daniel Palmer, critically acclaimed suspense author

ORDER YOUR COPY:

Amazon

Chapter 1

HARRISON SAT OUTSIDE THE OFFICE OF THE MANAGING DIRECTOR AWAITING HIS FATE. The end of the month meant slash and burn time, but he had successfully avoided the axe for twelve months now. Something told him this wasn’t going to be lucky number thirteen. After almost twenty years of dedication, he swore he wouldn’t beg, wouldn’t give that fucker Thom Bartlett any satisfaction in letting him go. Thom, with his faux British accent even though he lived in the U.S. since he was two, his nose up the CEO’s ass at every chance, his chastising of Harrison’s “extracurricular activities,” even though Thom was just as guilty of similar vices. Harrison stared at this fucker’s door, as if by monitoring he could will it to stay closed and ensure that he’d forever remain a part of Sanford & Co.’s Mergers and Acquisitions team.

A sharp pain in his abdomen caused him to pitch forward. His stomach churned as a flood of bile crept up his throat. Thom’s door now appeared so out of focus that for a second Harrison forgot where he was.

“Bad lunch?” his buddy Whit whispered, from a nearby seat.

Thom’s ancient secretary glanced up at them from her fury of typing and went back to punishing the keys.

Harrison clutched his stomach and let out a stifled belch. The air now smelled like he’d been dining on garbage. His chronic halitosis had only been getting worse. He could barely recall the last time he’d kissed Helene like when they were young with an appetite to devour. At most he received a peck while she held her breath. It’s not like her body hadn’t also changed, and yet he still found her a knockout: whip-smart and sophisticated, alluring whenever she was in deep thought and chewed on the earpiece of her reading glasses. Only once had he participated in a particular “extracurricular activity” outside of their marriage. It was something he instantly regretted—but she had been treating him like a pariah in the bedroom for almost a year, and he found himself in the arms of another. So now he let her give those little digs about his hygiene, one of the small pleasures she seemed to have during the scant few hours a day when he was home.

Whit seemed to inch his chair away from Harrison’s death burp and occupied himself with the new Breitling hanging from his wrist. Here the two were about to be sliced up and gutted and Whit had spent last weekend dropping $10K on a watch. Sure Harrison indulged in more luxuries than most and hated his old Tag enough to go splurging, but unlike Whit, he had two kids in uptown private schools to worry about.

“Drinks at Mobeley’s later tonight?” Whit asked, placing his hand on Harrison’s shoulder. “Whatever the outcome of this summons might be?”

Harrison nodded with tired eyes.

“You’re a VP here, Harry. Higher up on the rung than me. You’ve got a better chance of surviving.”

Whit’s hand still massaged Harrison’s shoulder, but his encouragement was not convincing. He had probably expected a similar consoling reply, except the room was spinning too much for Harrison to care.

“You’re not looking well,” Whit said. Thom’s secretary seemed to glance up from her typing again to nod in agreement. The two of them caught each other’s eye, as if they were conspiring against him. Well, we couldn’t all look like Whit. Just a few years younger but still with a full head of thick black hair only slightly graying at the temples, something that made him appear even more distinguished. Pecs and abs that he never shut up about. A terror on the racquetball courts who slaughtered Harrison every time. The son of a well-known surgeon at N.Y.U Medical with a hot Japanese wife barely out of her twenties whose goal in life was to be at his beck and call. Whit had been made an Associate two years earlier than Harrison and was able to maintain a rapport with the higher ups that Harrison could never manage: calling the CEO Dougie to his face instead of Mr. Sanford and still having a job the next day.

The secretary picked up the phone on her desk while still typing away.

“Certainly, Mr. Bartlett,” she chirped into the receiver, and then turned her disapproving gaze to Harrison. “Mr. Bartlett will see you now, Mr. Stockton.”

Harrison gathered up his briefcase and overcoat. He had to hold onto the seat as he stood, his feet pivoting and almost sending him to the ground.

“Gotta watch those martini lunches,” Whit said, slapping Harrison on the back and pushing him toward his doom.

Harrison put one foot in front of the other slowly, avoiding Thom’s inevitable decision for as long as possible.

Even if he wound up getting let go today, an outsider looking in might assume that his life was still going well: two decades of marriage, healthy kids, and a fantastic New York apartment; but he felt like he’d just been going through the motions for too long. A major chunk had been missing, a spark of excitement, adventure, and meaning. He couldn’t put his finger on what it was, just that he desperately longed for it to exist.

As he put his hand on the doorknob and turned, he tried to think of what would make him happy, something he wanted more than anything that would cause him to shoot out of bed every morning with a smile.

He squeezed his eyes shut, willing this desired vision to appear, but all he saw was darkness.

Who in their right mind didn’t covet Thom Bartlett’s office? High floor with downtown skyline views, fluffy clouds outside of the windows, a wet bar that Harrison eyed. Some good Scotch had already been opened. Harrison had forced himself to keep sober during a gobbled lunch of an Italian sub without his trusty flask to chase it down. Now his hands trembled at the thought of that Scotch burning his throat.

“Can I offer you something?” Thom asked, indicating the bar with a grand sweep of his arm, as if to say, yes, I have a bar in my office, which you, dear sir, never had here and regrettably never will.

“I might as well,” Harrison coughed, scooting over and pouring two shots worth into a glass. He sat across from Thom and put the comforting drink to his lips.

Thom fiddled with a stack of papers in a folder on his desk. He looked up at Harrison through the thick frames he kept low on his sloping nose, almost touching his top lip.

“So Sanford & Co. has become swollen lately. We’re too big for our own good right now and need to restructure–”

“Just spit it out,” Harrison said, knocking back half the glass of Scotch.

“I’m sorry, Harrison. We’re going to have to let you go, effective today.”

Thom delivered this news while fixing his Windsor knot, which Harrison figured had taken him numerous tries that morning to perfect. Harrison wanted to grab him by that knot and choke his tiny little bird head until it popped off.

“I’ve given practically twenty years to this firm,” he said, running his hands through his thinning hair. “I sleep here, I eat here. I barely exist at home anymore.”

“It’s the same for all of us, mate.”

“I’m not your fucking mate,” Harrison said, finishing the rest of the Scotch and starting to sway.

“Old boy, I am not the villain here. Every firm on the Street has been feeling this strain since the economy collapsed. Now we are offering you a solid severance package, which I think is more than generous. I’ll also save you the spectacle of having security escort you out.”

“What was Sanford’s reason?” Harrison asked quietly, not wanting to hear the answer but knowing that he’d be unable to leave without one.

Thom had already started pushing the folder across the desk, shutting Harrison up, getting this over with. His face looked exhausted from delivering executions.

“We’ve heard from some clients,” he said, taking off his glasses and pinching the bridge of his nose.

“Heard what…?”

“Have you looked at yourself in the mirror lately, huh, Harry?” he asked, his voice rising to the level of an uncomfortable squeal. “Your skin, mate…sorry, but you’re looking rather yellow, and your eyes, well there’s this permanent creaminess to them… I’m just using the client’s words–”

“Which client?”

“Which one hasn’t mentioned this is more like it.”

Harrison went to respond but now Thom was on a roll.

“As a VP, this is a face-to-face business. I go for manicures, mate, you think I like it–it’s a requirement. Maybe if you cut back on the drink….”

“I’ve advised some huge mergers here over the years.” Harrison pointed at Thom with his empty glass. “I didn’t realize this was only a pretty boys game.”

“You’ve let some messy pitchbooks slide through recently, as well.”

“Shouldn’t the analysts be blamed for creating them?”

“Don’t think they haven’t been dealt with, too.”

“So maybe I’ve gotten lax with a couple of pitchbooks for smaller clients, but never any of the big ones.”

“When…was the last time you’ve been to a doctor, Harry?”

“Doctors,” Harrison said, brushing them all away with a flick of his wrist. He had always believed that no matter what, doctors tried to find something wrong with you so you’d give them more business. And yeah, his skin had developed a yellowish hue as of late and sometimes his gut felt like it was rotting. Varicose veins had multiplied along his thighs and there were moments when he’d lose balance and have to go and dry heave in an empty stall once no one else was around, but he was a professional drinker just like his dad had been, and that son-of-a-bitch had put back a liter of gin and a pack of smokes a day up until the ripe old age of eighty-eight. Hell, who needed to live longer than that anyway? Life could be brutal, and if some booze, some smokes and some pills provided a relief from the banality of it all, then screw any doctor who’d tell him otherwise.

Thom tapped on the folder to indicate that it was time to wrap this up.

“I have to make sure that you understand what’s in the package,” he said, pushing it closer to Harrison until it practically fell off the desk.

Harrison opened it up and flipped through: six months pay, benefits as well, blah, blah, blah. He closed it shut and went to throw it in his briefcase.

“Tut tut,” Thom said, wagging his finger. “There’s something you missed that Mr. Sanford wanted to make sure you saw.”

Harrison re-opened the folder and spied a card clipped to the first page.

[]

“What the hell is a Desire Card?”

Thom reached over and un-clipped the card.

“You have been a valued employee here. Mr. Sanford wanted to make sure you understood that we’re not parting on bad terms. This is what’s best for everyone.”

Thom handed him the card. Harrison turned it over and over with his stubby fingers.

“It’s like…a phone or something too?”

“Of sorts, just to keep their network as secure and exclusive as possible. We didn’t include this in everyone’s package, so you know. This is an organization that Mr. Sanford has a long history with, very hush-hush obviously, very elite. If you want something…anything…they have the power to make it happen.”

“Can they get me my job back?”

“Cute, Harrison, don’t ever lose that charm.”

Thom reached over to take the empty glass away.

“So tonight, Harry, instead of drowning your sorrows in a bottle, give the Card a try and have them ring you up a girl I guarantee you’ll enjoy. Or whatever else you wish. We promise we’ll give a glowing report to any future job prospects so consider this the start of a paid vacation.”

Thom stuck out his hand to shake, the nails manicured, no rogue cuticles to speak of; but the hand was delicate and unassuming, not someone with the power to hold Harrison’s life in his palm, just a meager messenger. Harrison slipped the Desire Card in his pocket and shook Thom’s hand, squeezing hard as Thom grimaced.

“And see a doctor,” Thom replied, giddy now that this ordeal was over.

“Watch out, you’ll be gutted next,” Harrison said, rising and feeling his legs give out. He collapsed back into the chair as Thom let out a spurt of a laugh.

“You all right there, mate?”

“Piss on England.”

Harrison gave standing up another try. He gripped Thom’s desk for support. Thom looked worried that Harrison might take the whole desk down with him, but Harrison was doing his best to maintain even though it felt like he was viewing Thom through the wrong end of a telescope.

“You can go ahead and send Mr. Carmichael in,” Thom said, fixing his Windsor knot again that had become slightly askew. “Best to Helene and the children.”

Harrison slung his coat over his arm and gripped his briefcase as he headed for the door. After a few steps, his vision became cloudier and he could feel the creamy tears falling from his eyes. They stung his cheeks as he grappled with the doorknob and lurched into the hallway.

In the front office, Whit was leaning over the secretary’s desk; the two engaged in hushed words that stopped once Harrison emerged. Harrison ran his finger from one side of his neck to the other. Whit gave him a solemn nod back, but Harrison couldn’t hold it in any longer and puked up the barely digested Scotch.

“Oh my!” he heard the secretary say.

He stared at his sickness bubbling on the floor, a mix of half-chewed capicola and salami in an amber soup with specks of dark red blood throughout, the clots of blood so dark they looked like tar. He wiped his mouth and trudged past all the onlookers toward the elevators outside, glad that a part of him would remain embedded in Sanford & Co.’s carpet.

As the elevator arrived and he stepped inside, he wished for the undoing of everyone involved in his termination, knowing that only their collective downfall could get him to shoot out of bed with a smile.

 

Lee Matthew Goldberg is the author of SLOW DOWN and THE MENTOR (St. Martin’s Press), which was acquired by Macmillan Entertainment with the film in development. He has been published in multiple languages and nominated for the 2018 Prix du Polar. The first two books in a thriller series, THE DESIRE CARD and PREY NO MORE, are forthcoming from Fahrenheit Press in winter 2019. His pilots and screenplays have been finalists in Script Pipeline, Stage 32, We Screenplay, the New York Screenplay, Screencraft, and the Hollywood Screenplay contests. After graduating with an MFA from the New School, his writing has also appeared in the anthology DIRTY BOULEVARD, The Millions, The Montreal Review, The Adirondack Review, Essays & Fictions, The New Plains Review, and others. He is the co-curator of The Guerrilla Lit Reading Series (guerrillalit.wordpress.com). He lives in New York City. Follow him at www.leematthewgoldberg.com and @LeeMatthewG.

 

 

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Interview with Michael Houtz, Author of Dark Spiral Down

After a career in medicine, Mike Houtz succumbed to the call to hang up his stethoscope and pursue his other passion as a writer of fast-paced thrillers. A rabid fan of authors such as Clancy, Mark Greaney, Vince Flynn, and Brad Thor, Mike loves series writing with strong characters, fast pacing and international locations, all of which explode into action in his debut novel, a 2017 Zebulon Award winner. When not at the keyboard, he can be found on the firing range, traveling for research across the globe, or trying out the latest dry-fly pattern on a Gold Medal trout stream.

He lives at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado.

His latest book is the thriller/international/action novel, Dark Spiral Down.

Website: www.mikehoutz.com

Twitter: www.twitter.com/michaelhoutz

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/author.mikehoutz/

https://www.facebook.com/mike.houtz.77

 

Q: Welcome! Can you tell us a little bit about your writing background?

Wonderful to join you. Well, it’s a short story! Actually, my earliest memories of writing goes back to grade school. Somewhere in a box in the basement, I have a writeup from an early grade-school teacher asking where I’d come up with such a wild story on a prompt she gave the class. Most of the kids offered a three or four sentence response. Mine was nearly four pages. I dabbled here and there until my mid-twenties. I halted those desires for my medical career. I’ve been purposefully writing, after I took an early retirement, for three or four years now. I’m not ever winning any literary awards, but that same vivid imagination never left me. I’m trying to become the writer my imagination deserves.

Q: What fact about yourself that would really surprise people?

I’m a picture of contrasts. I suppose folks who don’t know me would form an opinion on my personality based on my practicing medicine and writing—cerebral endeavors largely populated by people of culture enjoying wine tastings. I ended my martial arts career undefeated in 5 years of combat competition. I have National titles in wrestling and represented our country in the sport. I’m a slightly polished knuckle dragger.

Q: How do you define success in regards to writing and publishing books? 

This is the most important question I’ve seen in all my interviews. Bravo. I tackled this subject on the first day I considered writing as a career. I also pose this very subject to every new writer I interact with. My answer, and everyone should have their own, started as a bucket list item. I wanted to check off that line stating I’d traditionally published a book. One. On day number two, I changed my mind. My current definition is I want to entertain and create emotional responses in readers. Nothing is more satisfying to me than when someone tells me in an excited voice about something in the story that shocked them or created an adrenalin rush for them. That’s my success.

Q: Can you tell us about your new book? What’s it about and why did you write it?

How many pages do I get?

The protagonist, Cole Haufner, is a twenty-six-year old professional mixed martial arts superstar. Considered the best pound-for-pound fighter in the sport’s history he holds a unique attitude with his career—he HATES fighting. Growing up in a Shaolin temple in Southeast China, he carries a serene spirit and calm outward persona. Planning to attend medical school, his plans abruptly change when his newborn son suffers a congenital heart condition and requires extensive medical care. He turns to the one skill that can provide for his son—the employment of his renowned martial arts skill. At the peak of his success in the octagon, tragedy strikes and he’s left alone in the world save for his brother, an American Delta Force operator who goes missing on a mission. Cole follows a clue back to his childhood home and becomes embroiled in a desperate fight between the remnants of his brother’s Delta unit and North Korean commandos hell bent on acquiring a stolen device capable of changing the world or destroying it depending on who manages to escape with this invention.

A few years ago, I retired early from a career in medicine. No surprise, my first writing effort started with a medical thriller. I felt, and still do, the story has a strong premise and has the potential to do well. Somewhere around that same time, I read an appalling account of a child whisked away from his father to South America by his ex-wife. The courts in that part of the world were manipulated by the new boyfriend, an attorney, and the father struggled mightily against unsympathetic ears. From all accounts on subsequent research, I discovered the dad was a good guy with no history of violence, and he’d been a loving father to his son. His journey for the return of his son spanned years. Imagine dropping off your child with a spouse for visitation and never seeing them again. Having two sons around the same age, the account really hit me hard. I imagined someone rescuing the boy and bringing him back to the only home he’d known. I woke up one morning, shoved the medical thriller in a drawer, and let the anger and sympathy pour out into the novel. From that spark, my own personal life mission changed too.

Q: When you are not writing, how do you relax?

With my two sons, I don’t know how to relax. When not writing, I’m shuttling my kids to practices or traveling for their competitions, getting in a workout, or working with my German Shepard, Saber. Sometimes I can sneak in time at the shooting range or hit a Colorado stream for native trout. It’s a fast and furious life, but I’m grateful for all of it.

Q: Please tell us why we should read your book?

If for no other reason, you’re joining a growing group of people providing support to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children network. My mission is to bring light to the horrible crime committed upon children by an adult unlawfully removing them from their home and taking them to a country that does not recognize our laws on child custody. Every book sold supports that effort both financially as well as creating awareness.

Plus, if you’re anything like me, seeing a character employ a really nasty skill set in these horrible situations is very satisfying. When the courts fail, Cole begins his brand of justice.

Q: What kind of advice would you give other authors just getting their feet wet?

First, answer question three. How will you “know” when you’re successful. Everyone will have a different answer. Why are you spending hours, day in and day out, for years, writing? Is it a fun hobby or are you shooting for Bestseller status. Your answer will likely change over time, but you should have an initial idea.

Secondly, any timeline you’re giving yourself just double it. There are so many different factors to publishing out of your control. The industry moves like a glacier. I had one of the fastest turnarounds I’m aware of from the first sentence to book release, and it took nearly three years. If you’re a relatively unknown, prepare for a long haul.

Finally, the difference between published authors and those who don’t reach that mark is those published writers never quit. Take all the “no” responses and collect all the rejections into a nice big ball, because you will get them, and vow to shove it up their rear ends. Never surrender to other people’s failures projected onto you.

About the Book:

COLE HAUFNER is a reluctant superstar in the professional mixed martial arts world. After his latest fight, his wife and child perish in a car crash. His grief deepens when his brother, BUTCH, a Delta Force operator, is absent from the funeral and reported missing by two furtive strangers who show up unannounced at the burial. Despairing, and acting on a tip, Cole travels to his childhood home in southeast China, looking for his brother.

Butch and his teammate, HAMMER, are the sole American survivors of a gun battle between their unit and North Korean commandos, both sides fighting over possession of a stolen suitcase containing a miniaturized fusion device that could either provide unlimited clean energy or be converted to an undetectable bomb seven times more powerful than a nuclear explosion. Leading the North Koreans is the sociopath, Commander PARK. Pressed into helping the Koreans is a disgraced former CIA operative, BARRETT JENNINGS.

Cole meets with the uncle who raised him, MASTER LI, and is warned to stop his search for Butch. Barrett discovers Cole’s identity (with the help of a genius computer hacker, LILLY), which opens a twenty-year-old wound when Barrett was blamed for the disappearance of Cole’s father, along with the man’s invention. Barrett enlists the 14K organized crime syndicate to help capture Cole. Hammer, separated from Butch during the fight for the device, thwarts the gang’s attempt to kidnap Cole, and the two then set off to find Butch and the device. All parties converge on the city library where Butch, now disguised as a monk, is attempting to communicate with the Pentagon. Barrett and Park capture Butch, while the 14K gang nabs Cole.

Danger mounts as Chinese authorities begin investigating foul play within their borders. Cole fights his way free of the gang and reunites with Hammer.  Both men find Barrett’s apartment and discover Lilly (the man’s stepdaughter), who divulges Barrett’s identity and plan. Cole clashes with Hammer, who is willing to sacrifice Butch in order to recover the fusion device. Lilly offers her help in exchange for her and Barrett’s rescue from Park’s grip. Meanwhile, Barrett discovers the true nature of the case the North Koreans are pursuing and, sensing he and Lilly are to be assassinated by Park once he has the device, frees Butch. Butch, trusting Barrett was sent to rescue him, leads the turncoat to the site where he hid the device. Barrett, hoping to make a quick fortune selling it, shoots Butch before escaping with the case.

Cole, along with Hammer and Lilly, arrives at the location of Butch and finds him gravely wounded. Butch fingers Barrett for shooting him and for stealing the case. Cole wants only to save his brother but Butch makes him promise to kill Barrett and recover their dad’s invention. The revelation that the device is his father’s scientific discovery propels Cole forward to fulfill his brother’s mission. Cole is forced to abandon Butch at a hospital. Cole pursues Barrett to a remote dock where the ex-CIA man is planning to escape China by boat. With the Chinese military now actively looking for Cole, Cole confronts Barrett and Park sparking a gunfight. Barrett kills Park. As Barrett turns the gun on Cole, Hammer kills Barrett. Cole, Hammer and Lilly escape via the boat, and the fusion device is safely returned.

ORDER YOUR COPY:

Amazon

https://amzn.to/2UpXJmK

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