Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Looking for a Few Good Writers

I guess it is obvious by now that I love to write. I love to sit down at my kitchen table with my laptop and create stories that I really hope people will find entertaining and allow them a place to go and escape into for a few hours.

Right now I am currently working on three different books (Haunted Hills, a new Nikki book, and a new Michaela book). I also have several books outlined waiting for me to get to them. All of these ideas gave me a thought. I'm curious if there might be a couple of writers out there who would like to collaborate on a couple of projects. One of the books that I really want to get out there is a YA with horses (of course) and a little paranormal activity. The other book (series) is a group of thrillers with both some paranormal stuff and a little romance thrown in there, and finally I have another mystery series set in Hawaii (road trip?).

My idea of working with another writer would be a serious collaboration. This would not be ghost writing on anyone's part. Think Child & Preston. If anyone is interested in this and wants to know more of what I am thinking about, please e-mail me at michele@michelescott.com and we can go from there.

I am also going to put an excerpt from each of these projects here. This is all unedited, first draft work so keep that in mind.

The first excerpt is from INTO THE RING (this is the YA idea and it would be helpful if you liked horses :) for this book):


CHAPTER ONE

            My name is Vivienne Taylor and I don’t like being afraid. The really dumb thing is I have been totally freaked out over something that I really shouldn’t be. Well, maybe I kind of have a right. I am moving fifteen hundred miles away from my family, my friends and my horses. But it’s to have a chance to finally live out my dream. So, I would think I’d be a little more excited and a little less totally messed up in the brain—like a swirly, twirl of colors blending in a circle until I get dizzy kind of messed up. I toss up my arms, shrug my shoulders and say, “Whatever.”  My mom says it’s just nerves and that’s normal. But my mom and I both know that I am so not normal. And if the kids at my new school, or I mean Academy find out how not normal I am, it could be really not very good. Yup. Dizzying, colorful swirls not good.
            I’m not idiotic enough to think that I am going to walk into the Fairmont Riding Academy for Young Equestrians and be welcomed with open arms by all of the rich kids there. Kids with horses that cost more than our house. Kids who drive cars from Germany. Kids that think Target is something they shoot at while out on expensive weekend hunting vacation with their fathers, not a place where people can buy comforter sets that include sheets for under fifty bucks, cool T-shirts and some very pretty smelling candles. That would be crazy.
I have to face it, I am different from them. My mom is a single parent of my seven-year-old brother and myself. She’s worked her butt off as a large animal vet to make sure that I have had the proper training as a three-day eventer, because like me, my mother is a dreamer. And she knows how important my dream of one day being an Olympic rider is. Thus, the working her butt off. And now all her hard work and mine seems to be paying off.
A month ago, I received the letter from the Fairmont Academy letting me know that I was the recipient of their annual scholarship. Me? Me! I am one of the lucky few who will ever get this opportunity. Kids like me don’t have the kind of money to attend Fairmont, and the only chance I would ever have is through the scholarship. So, I should be totally excited and not so freaked. But I am dizzily, swirlied screwed up and I have been unable to sleep very well since getting the letter. And I know, I know so bad that I am really going to miss home—even my pain of a little brother.
I will especially miss Dean.
            “Sweetie, wake up. I need your help.” My mom’s voice filled with tension as she walked into my room in the middle of the night. I knew immediately what she needed. “I’m sorry, Vivvie? You awake?”
            “No worries, Mom. I was up. Just thinking.” I picked up my jeans off the floor and pulled them on over the boxers I liked to sleep in (they originally belonged to Austin Giles—long story, which I will tell later and I am pretty sure I can guarantee that it’s not what you’re thinking) turned on my light to find my Thomas Jefferson High sweatshirt. “What about Cole?” I asked about my brother.
            “I’ve put Sadie and Georgia in his room with him. I wish Grandma was here, but something tells me the two Rotties will be better protection than your grandma would should trouble arise. I’ll meet you in the truck. Lock the door behind you, Shnoopy,” she said, calling me her favorite pet name for me, which I’d finally just accepted after seventeen years of her calling me it. Admittedly I do kinda like it, but wouldn’t share that feeling with just anyone.
            “What do we have?” I asked as I climbed into the truck
            “Thirteen-year-old mare down out in Albany. Owner went to bring her in from pasture for the night and noticed she was severely bloated and seemed to be having problems breathing.”
            “That could be a number of things.” I zipped up my sweatshirt and pulled my hood on. It was cold for a late August night, or maybe that was just me. I tend to always be a bit chilled.
            My mom glanced at me at me as she punched in the horse owner’s address on the GPS, her blue eyes looking weary. “That’s why I’m bringing you.”
            I nodded. I reached into the back seat and grabbed a Diet Pepsi that I knew I’d find amidst reports, bandages, books, junk food, dog leashes and their toys. Being a large animal vet kept my mother on the run, and although she could detail a report to clients like nobody’s business, she didn’t always have the best organizational skills in the world when it came to keeping the house or her truck clean. I made an effort to do both for her once a week. “Want one?” I asked holding up the soda can.
            “I’m good on the caffeine. I was actually up late working on some reports and had a couple of cups of coffee to keep me going. I had a feeling about tonight. Why were you still awake?”


*The next excerpt is from the paranormal type of thriller. I've tentatively titled it HEAR NO EVIL. 


CHAPTER ONE

            Eleven-year-old Hope Mitchell was running for her life. She should’ve listened to her mother, listened to the rules…and now they’d found her. But God, being holed up in the compound. Day in. Day out. Her mother always crying. The doctors. “What do you hear Hope?” “If you focus here and listen, do you get anything?”  No I don’t get anything.  Leave me alone. Leave me alone was what she always wanted to shout.  Then the teachers.  “You can do better than that, Hope. Here’s the correct way to write the character in Chinese.  No, that’s not how you say it in French.”
            She thought she had them fooled. Thought if she played dumb, they’d let her and her mom go. They had with that other kid—Joey Reynolds.  Or at least, she saw them all get into a car one day and leave. One of the doctors and a teacher and Joey and his mom.  Everyone knew that Joey didn’t have the gift. It didn’t take much or long to figure that out. Did they drop him and his mom off somewhere with a house and a pool and a neighborhood with normal kids who didn’t see or hear or know things that no one else did?
            Feet pounded behind her and her heart raced.  She couldn’t let them catch her.  Tears started to cloud her vision.  No.  Don’t cry. Can’t cry.  Keep running.  Get safe and tell someone.  Tell them where mommy is.  Would anyone believe her?  It didn’t matter.  They had to.
            “Hope.  Stop.  Come on.  You’re a little girl.  You’ll get lost out here.  There’s hungry animals,” one of the men yelled.
            Bushes scraped against her legs, scratching them.  The smell of sage tickled her nose.  She hated that smell—sweet, sour, strong.  The teachers burned it all the time in the meditation room saying it was good for to clear out any negativity.  Negativity? Who were they kidding? They had to burn a lot of sage for that in that stupid place.
The mountain ahead of her was huge.  How could she climb it? 
The men continued shouting.  “It’s okay. Stop, Hope. Stop. We won’t hurt you. Your mother wants you to come home. She could get sick without you.” 
One of the voices came closer. The tears started again and this time they wouldn’t be shoved down. What if they hurt her mom? But if she didn’t find help, if she didn’t tell someone, then Mom and her would be trapped in that place forever. She could see it in her mom’s eyes—the fear, like her own. Her mom tried to act like it was all good, like they were normal and that they should feel lucky they were so well taken care of, but her mother wasn’t kidding anyone, least of all Hope. She wasn’t exactly a stupid kid. No. She had to find a way out to save her mom.
The feet were right behind her. She sped up and ran as fast as she could. Don’t let them get me. I’m faster. I can do it. I can beat them and get my mom and then we’ll be okay. We’ll get a house. We’ll get a dog. I’ll go to a real school. 
            She pushed ahead and the voices grew farther away, still yelling for her.  If she could get over that mountain she knew, she just knew she’d find somewhere safe to go because on the other side of that mountain was a highway. She knew it was there because she could hear people sometimes in their cars talking to each other, listening to the radio, or speaking on their cell phones.
            Her chest ached and her stomach hurt so bad. Don’t barf.  Can’t barf.  Keep running.
            She hadn’t fooled them at all.  Had she?  Trying to play dumb, getting bad grades, sitting in the headmaster’s office being punished.  They told her to stop it, they knew what she was doing and they knew she wasn’t dumb at all.  If she helped them she could go back to her apartment and be with her mom.  But if she didn’t help them…  They never said what would happen, except that she might not ever see her mom again, and so she told them everything she’d heard.  It was scary.  She didn’t understand it, but after she told them, they let her go back and be with her mom and she was so happy to see her and be held by her.  Mom smelled like peaches and vanilla from this lotion she bought at the compound store, and that night she’d made Hope tacos—her favorite.  Then they’d laughed and watched Survivor on TV.  That’s what she was now—a survivor—and she’d win.  She had to.  It was worth way more than a million dollars.
            And now, since she’d told them, they wanted more and more from her.  But she was smart.  Wasn’t she?  She’d watched, waited and planned how to get out and away.
No alarms had gone off.  No dogs. Nothing. She’d done it, made it under that super small space she’d seen in the fence the other day when she’d walked home with her friend Teresa Spiro. And then, ten minutes later, the men shouting and running after her.  How did they know?  How did they find her?
When she’d crawled under the fence it cut into her back.  The pain meant nothing now. Not compared to the blood flowing in her ears, making it sound like a river was rushing through them, and her heart still racing and her feet thudding along the ground.  No, pain did not matter. Freedom mattered. Hope understood that a price couldn’t be put on freedom. The voices were yet farther away. She was halfway up the mountain. She was getting out. She was going to make it!
            “Where is she?” one of the men yelled.  Then lights, bright flashlights scanned the side of the mountain. “There. Right there. Get her.”
            Keep running. Don’t look back. But she did. She looked back, and then she tripped.
            A fierce hot pain shot through her leg like nothing she’d ever felt—not like a bruise or a scrape.  A white flash rushed in front of her eyes.  Her mind dizzied into a swirl of bright lights, shouting voices and her own voice telling her to get up and run.  Keep going.  She got to her knees.  Oh God.  It hurt.  Her leg twisted up and would not follow directions. Stupid leg.  “Mom, Mom, Mommy?”  The tears came freely as a man stood above her and knelt down.
            “You’re okay.  We’ll have that fixed up soon.”  He lifted her up and walked toward three other men.
            She didn’t recognize these men. They weren’t any of the guards she was so afraid of.  Maybe they were here to save her. That had to be it. Thank God. Yes. The man was so nice. That’s why they were here.  She sighed and even with the shooting pain soaring up her leg and throughout her body she breathed a sigh and leaned against the man’s chest.  His heart thumped through his army green shirt.
            Then her relief suddenly changed when she heard one of the other men already inside his car speaking into a cell phone.  “We’ll have her on the helicopter in fifteen.  She’s hurt. Looks like a broken leg. Have a doctor meet us at the airstrip.  Yes, we’ll be in Malta by tomorrow.”
            She squeezed her eyes shut and started to squirm.
“Hey, some sedation over here.  She’s agitated.”  Another man joined them. They kept walking at a fast clip.  The man held on tight to her as she tried to wriggle out of his grasp.  His voice raised, not so gentle this time.  “Knock it off kid.”
They rolled up her sleeve.  Alcohol burned her nose as someone rubbed it onto her arm with a cotton swab.  Then the sting of the needle.  The pain in her leg lessened, a tickle fluttered and settled through her body, numbing it.  Closing her eyes, she knew that these men were not from the compound.  She would’ve been so much better off if they had been. 
Hope Mitchell was quite aware that the one thing she’d been warned of, that all of the kids had been warned could happen to them if they ever tried to leave, had happened to her.   

*** Finally, this next excerpt is from the mystery that I have no title for yet. :)
Chapter one
            “We can’t live here! This place is disgusting. I can’t believe you brought me here. You’re such a jerk. I hate you!” Leila’s fifteen-year-old daughter Taylor shouted at her and then stormed away toward the beach,
            Leila Reynolds stood there staring after her child, arms crossed in front of her. She sighed heavily. She’d heard worse onslaughts than that in recent times. She was on a few people’s hate list. Had been called bitch and a few other callous words by her mother and her daughter—and the names her ex-husband had called her, well, no need to go there… so jerk and being hated, hmmm, well not so bad. Now as far as their new home, Taylor was sort of right and this was more upsetting then her teenager’s angst.
            The forty-two-year old mother had so looked forward to arriving back here on the big island of Hawaii and starting over in her Aunt Kiki’s bed & breakfast—a place that held many fond memories from her childhood for Leila. She’d pretty much spent every summer from the time she was six-years-old in Hawaii with her aunt. And now Kiki was gone and guilt washed over Leila as the fact that she hadn’t been to see her Aunt in twelve years reminded her how quickly time passed, and how much things can change in such a short amount of time. Things like falling in love, having a child with the one you are so deeply in love with, working at a career so hard and being at the top of the game…and then bham—all changed in one moment, one instant. One sentence. “I don’t love you anymore.” Well two really. The one that followed was something like, “I’m on love with someone else.” Leila shut her eyes tightly for a brief second and with the shake of her head attempted to rid herself of that one moment in time—only six months ago. She was pretty sure it was a moment she would never forget.
 Leila had gotten married, lived the high life in New York building her reputation as a top chef and she’d had Taylor. The demands of day to day life had kept her away but she’d talked to Aunt Kiki every week and not ever—ever—did her favorite aunt let on that things had been rough for her. Apparently they had been. Obviously.
            Leila took in a deep breath and surveyed the grounds of the property before venturing into the house. The view was still there—with the Pacific Ocean just down a pathway. The carefree breeze coming off the ocean carried with it a freshness of salt and water, earth and wind, so pure and natural that a breath truly felt like one of fresh air.
The B&B sat just high enough to make the ocean appear as a never ending line of blue. She turned back toward the house where she’d spent days exploring and feeling carefree as a girl. It looked like something out of a ghost story now—haunted and morose. Weeds surrounded it. The rose bushes were dormant and dry, but stood tall against the house. Plumeria was out of control but gave off that amazing floral scent that when she closed her eyes she could envision the home in a better light—painted crisp butter color, a swing on the cottage style place that was reminiscent of old Hawaii. Now the paint was chipping off, the place overgrown and the swing only hanging from one chain. “What happened, Kiki?” she whispered. “What happened to this place? What happened to you?”
            She walked around to the back side where she spotted the barn not too far off in the distance. The once tucked away but illustrious vacation spot had been known for accommodating trail rides for the occupants. She spotted about ten horses out in the pasture. The barn appeared to be pretty much in the same state as the house. Leila shook her head again trying to imagine what had gone on with Kiki. Was she depressed? Was she flat broke and too prideful? Was she sick? That thought horrified Leila and the guilt consumed her yet again.
            “Hey you? Need a room?” A slight looking man walked out the front door and stood on the porch. He brought his hand up to cover his eyes from the sun. Leila walked toward him. He took a few steps down off the porch.
            “Hi. I’m Leila Reynolds.” She took him in. He was anywhere between fifty and eighty—either a man who hadn’t aged well or who had done decently. He was average height, thin, bald, hazel eyes and hunched over slightly. He looked like he was at least part Hawaiian.
            “Hmm,” he grunted.
            “And you must be?”
            “Jones,” he said.
            She nodded. “Yes. Jones. The attorney informed me that you are the ranch manager. Right?”
            “Uh huh.” He shrugged.
            This was definitely going places. Like nowhere—quickly. “Yeah. Did you get my messages? I called the main line and left messages and I had a phone number for you as well but it just rang and rang.”
            He stared at her for a moment. “Guess you should come on inside then. Place is yours.” He turned his back and climbed the steps, opening the screen door. Leila didn’t move, she was so taken aback by him. Without turning around, Jones grumbled, “You coming or what?”
            “Uh yes. Thank you.” Leila followed in behind him.
            She took a step inside and caught her breath as memories flooded her. The place smelled exactly as it had when she was a child—tropical with a little age to it, and the coastal sea air blending into the mix. The furniture was a bit worse for wear—she was pretty sure that had also remained the same for nearly thirty-five years. There were dust bunnies along the hard wood floors that Leila knew were original Koa. This place had once been so pristine. What had happened here? “How many guests come here, a month?” she asked.
            Jones shrugged. “Maybe two, three.”
            Her jaw dropped. “What? What happened to business?”
            He shrugged again. “Lots of fancy, big resorts to stay in now. No bother to come out here.”
            “Sure there is. That’s the attractiveness of this place. It always has been. It’s off the beaten path with amazing views. It’s charming, plus there are the horses and Kiki always made such delicious food.”
            “Kiki stopped cooking some time ago.”
            “She did?” Leila couldn’t believe what she was hearing. It was Aunt Kiki who had inspired her to become a chef in the first place. She’d made extraordinary dishes that people from all over raved about and came up to the place just to eat and stay for a night. Even the locals would do so. “Why? Was she sick?”
            “No. She stopped cooking. Look, you know where the bedrooms are. Have your pick. I sleep out at the barn. I have to go and feed the animals. I will see you in the morning.” With that Jones slipped out the back kitchen door. Leila watched him make the trek to the pasture and begin bringing the handful of horses into the barn. She could also see three dairy cows grazing.
            She shook her head and tried to take it all in. First off, Jones was a strange man, and she had a feeling he knew more about what had been going on with Kiki before she died. Leila couldn’t swallow the pill that her ant had just given up her cooking, a favorite past time and on top of that allow this place to become so run down.
            “What happened here, Kiki?” she said aloud. “What happened to you?” Leila knew in her gut that the answer to those questions were not good.


So, if anyone out there is interested in getting together and working on one of these projects with me, let me know. Otherwise, I'm going to keep on at the pace I am and eventually the ideas will all make it out there. :)

Cheers,
Michele
P.S. All of you new Kindle owners, many of my e-books are at rock bottom prices right now. Happy Hour is at .99 and all the A.K. Alexander books are between .99 and 1.99. The Nikki books are still at the publisher pricing. Sorry. I have no control over that.



Thursday, December 15, 2011

We All Need a Little Help

As with most professions, we need others to help us in what we do. Doctors need nurses, techs, etc. Lawyers need paralegals, assistants, etc. Jockeys need grooms, vets, owners, etc. Writers need editors, copy-editors, etc...

I am pleased to have a wonderful woman and talented editor/copy-editor here to guest blog today: Jennifer Meegan. I have had the pleasure now of working with Jennifer on two of my books (THE CLOVER SIBLINGS AND THE EVIL OF DESMAL, which is a YA fantasy written under my name, and my latest release COVERT REICH written under my pen name). Jennifer did a great job on both books. I am not easy to work with from the standpoint that I make a gazillion mistakes when I write. I don't know how to type. I hunt and peck, so you can imagine the typos. I am terrible with grammar. I will admit it. I know when my good friend Jessica Park *FLAT OUT LOVE fame reads this blog she cringes when she sees all the grammatical errors. I tend to write fast and furious when writing a story. I love to story tell, so for me an editor and a copy editor are essentials.

Therefore, without further ado, let me introduce you to Jennifer:

My name is Jen Meegan and I've been lucky enough to edit two of Michele's draft manuscripts, including her most recent, "Covert Reich", published under her A. K. Alexander pseudonym. I've been providing editing services to ebook writers since 2010 although I don't formally advertise my services (no web site, no blog -- yet). Most folks find out about me via word-of-mouth or author blogs like this one. I stumbled into this gig when one of my favorite YA ebook authors -- Amanda Hocking -- posted a request for editing help on her blog for her first zombie novel, "Hollowland". I volunteered to help her out...free of charge...and had so much fun, I decided to see if I could find additional paid editing opportunities. And the rest, as they say, is history.

My background? I've been editing and copy writing for high tech companies (Yahoo!, SAP, and lots of startups) for over 15 years. This included everything from web sites to blogs to ads to marketing collateral...you name it. High-tech freelance editing/writing definitely pays well but, let's be honest, it's boring as hell. I'm a voracious reader with a literature background and a huge anal-retentive streak that serves me well in my editing role. I'm also a speed reader...which is pretty handy when a project requires a fast turn.

Word on the street is my fees are very reasonable considering the quality of work I do. I typically charge between $100-500 per manuscript, from start to finish, depending on the length of the book and how rough the draft is and the amount of time I'm given to work my magic. Some folks simply use me to scrub a final draft (fix punctuation, spelling, basic grammar errors), others use me to whip a rough draft into shape and provide structure, improve flow, and insert suggestions. I've even been known to do a partial "ghost write" of a book. I can be as hands off/hands on as an author wants me to be.

A few other tidbits: I live in the Silicon Valley with my Irish husband, two little girls, a high school exchange student from Belgium, and two cats. I'm bi-lingual (French/English) and well traveled. I am a HUGE history buff and a foodie. I love to read just about any type of book but I seem to be getting a lot of editing request for YA urban fantasy (vampires, werewolves, fairies, etc), thrillers, and chick lit/romance. 

Anyway, if you or someone you know are looking for an editor who can take your work from good to great (without blowing your entire self-publishing budget), drop me a line: jennifer.meegan@gmail.com.

--
Jen Meegan
Freelance Copywriter and Copyeditor
Low costs, high quality, fast results

Links to:
  COVERT REICH http://tiny.cc/p23tw (.99 cent holiday special for Kindle owners)
THE CLOVER SIBLINGS AND THE EVIL OF DESMAL (also only .99 for the holidays) http://tiny.cc/w506o

FLAT OUT LOVE by Jessica Park: http://tiny.cc/514i1

Saturday, December 3, 2011

A Few of My Faves and a Chance to Win a Kindle Fire!

It's been a few days since I've posted. I have been in plotting mode for the next book and am happy to say that as of yesterday I now have a 16 single-spaced detailed outline and 50 pages on the new book (Haunted Hills). This one has some of the same kind of humor as a Nikki book, which for those of you waiting for a new Wine Lovers' Mystery, you will be pleased to know that there will be Book #7 out in early July!

Today, I am giving some "Plugs" for a few things (favorite books, favorite blog, and new e-reader), so if you feel like I am trying to sell you on some stuff, well, fine. I am. The first things is for you writers out there. A friend called me this week as she is in the middle of writing her first novel. She told me that she felt stuck and that she isn't sure where the book is going and that she keeps rewriting pages over and over. I asked her, "Do you have an outline?" She does not. My suggestion to her was to pick up any of James Frey's book on writing. Each time I start a new book, I take a little refresher on writing with one of his books. The current one I'm using is HOW TO WRITE A DAMN GOOD MYSTERY. I Love this book! Here is the link to it on amazon. http://tiny.cc/4o7pq . Frey has books on How to Write a Damn Good Novel, Thriller, etc. I now have his library on my Kindle Fire, which is definitely one of my most favorite new things in the world! I never thought I would say that as I figured I would remain a dinosaur and only read print books. I was wrong. I bought the original Kindle and liked it, but now with the Kindle Fire I can see photos in my cookbooks (Love any cookbook by Giada and Rick Bayless), it is light and easy to travel with. Because I love this book so much and because I would love to see my books hit the top ten Kindle Sales list this month, I am offering a Kindle Fire to one lucky winner if either COVERT REICH or DADDY'S HOME hits the top ten list (DH is in the top 30 for pyschological thrillers right now)! Just keep checking to see, and anyone who writes in the blog comment section that they bought a copy is automaticallly entered. This is an honor system, so I will trust you when you say you purchased it. I can't say I got this idea myself. Actually my good friend and a huge supporter of my work Lori Gondelman from http://www.lorisreadingcorner.com/ (for readers this a must blog to follow) gave me the idea as she so kindly surprised me this morning by offering an Ipod shuffle to her readers and touting Jessica Park's amazing book FLAT OUT LOVE and COVERT REICH. If you have not read Jessica's book, it is excellent and not one to miss. It has been on the top 10 Kindle Book Sales List for a couple of weeks now and it deserves to be #1! Check it out for yourself. http://amzn.to/tGQdWC. For those of you readers who Love humor, you can't miss anything by my friend Gayle Carline. This lady is hysterical and also a horse lover like myself. Her Peri Minneopa Mysteries are fun, funny, and are excellent mysteries. Check her books out! http://amzn.to/vtHvFr. And for those of you who love Noir type of mysteries you can't miss Jeff Sherrat. http://amzn.to/tGnijL. Anyone who enjoys to have the pants scared off of them needs to read a horror novel by my friend and for many years freelance editor Mike Sirota. http://amzn.to/ugE7Wg His book FIRE DANCE kept me turning pages and scared to death! And finally one last book of mine to plug :). For you readers of women's fiction, check out a copy of HAPPY HOUR. This book has received stellar reviews and is the kind of book that will make you laugh, cry, get a little angry, etc. It is the kind of book that will remind you of what is really important in life. It's a must read for the women in your life. And, for a very short time the publisher of this book ZOVA has graciously agreed to lower the price to .99 cents for Kindle and e-book readers. http://amzn.to/s3yjXF 

So, there you go! A few of my favorite books and a cool contest. You in?

Enjoy your weekend.

Cheers,
Michele
http://www.michelescott.com/

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Cast of COVERT REICH

I hope everyone had a great weekend! Mine was a bit crazy. My horse Will had a mild colic, which kept me from much sleep. I got up every couple of hours to check on him. I am happy to say that he is much better and all systems are working (horse people will know what I mean--if not, you probably don't want the details). I also worked like crazy to format COVERT REICH, which I have to admit has left me a bit drained. I write, not format for all of the various e-readers. It is not easy! My hats off to all the techies out there.

I am pleased to say though that release day is finally here. The Kindle version is up now for .99. The Nook, Ipad and print versions will be available very soon.

Now, for the fun stuff! When I write a book I like to think about who might play in the movie or TV show. Yes, I am aware that this is very wishful thinking but it is still fun. So, I have casted a few roles for COVERT REICH. I am still trying to figure out who would play Eric and Julio. See if you agree with my current cast of characters. And, I am posting Chapter Fourteen. If you have not had a chance to read the chapters that are up already I hope that you will, and that it entices you to get a copy. Kindle Purchase Links: http://www.amazon.com/Covert-Reich-ebook/dp/B006BHWSJM/ref=pd_rhf_gw_p_t_2 and the U.K. Link: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Covert-Reich-ebook/dp/B006BHWSJM/ref=pd_rhf_gw_p_t_1

Here is my all star-cast for COVERT REICH:


Dr. Kelly Morales--Jennifer Lopez













Detective Tony Pazzini
















Gem Michaels

















Peter Redding
















Detective Simmons

















CHAPTER FOURTEEN


Pazzini sat behind his desk, blinking eyes that had gone blurry. He attempted again to focus on the overload of paperwork. What a night. The murder at County was one he knew would be eating at him for a while. Bizarre cases always did. He suddenly felt much older than his forty-two years.

But being a cop was what he knew best. He lived for the job and his son, Luke. And the job took away from time with his kid. It wouldn’t be so hard if Anna were still here. But she wasn’t, and even with the help of his parents, he still felt he was in some way cheating Luke.

He took a large gulp of Coke and a sharp spear of burning acid shot through his stomach. Pazzini instantly regretted the decision to put jalapenos and onions on the hot dog he’d devoured earlier, after wrapping the hospital crime scene.

The stress of the job, plus the onions and hot peppers—which in all honesty, he could never get enough of—didn’t do much for the ulcer his doctor had warned him about. The burning sensation in his gut never left him alone these days. This morning it was much worse than usual.

“Jeez, Pazzini, what’d ya do? Hit Cotija’s Taco Shop last night?” Simmons taunted.

“Nah, wise ass. I had a dog with a heap of the good stuff on it.” He looked up from the paperwork and smoothed down his slightly wavy black hair, thinking he should probably comb it. He winced when his palms hit the back of his head. He could’ve sworn there had been more hair there a few months ago.

“Oh, man, that’ll do it every time. Wish I had some antacids for you. But I got a message instead.” Simmons winked at him, smacking on the tobacco chew Tony swore never left the side of his cheek. His stained teeth substantiated that theory.

“What’s that?” Tony asked, irritated by Simmons’ twang, which could only come from a cowboy wannabe. Simmons swore he was Texas born and raised. It was his story, but Tony knew the truth. He was really from Nebraska. Tony stared at the idiot for a few seconds, his annoyance growing at Simmons’ ridiculous overgrown goatee that was eons out of date. It wouldn’t hurt if he trimmed his shoulder length hair and took the earring out as well. Freaking Rhinestone Cowboy. Please.

“Boss man wants to see you, dude.”

“Dude? Seriously Simmons, you gonna catch some waves now?”

Simmons ignored him, “What d’ya do now, Paz?”

“Hey, dude, shut the hell up. Don’t call me Paz. It’s Pazzini. I can spell it for you if you like.”

Simmons held up his hands. “Hey, man, sorry. You know, no offense. Didn’t know it bugged you. Note to self.”

Tony nodded and slid out of his desk chair, heading toward his boss’s office.

“Dragging your feet a little, aren’t ya?” Simmons laughed.

That stopped the exhausted detective in his tracks. He faced Simmons. “Dude, this isn’t Texas, Nebraska, or Bum Fuck Egypt. This is L.A., and in case you hadn’t noticed, it’s you, not ya. And another thing, do you think you could lose the look? Your look? It went out with disco.”

Simmons abruptly stormed out of the room lined with desks and detectives. The place reminded Tony of a classroom, except it was far more cluttered, and instead of sweaty kids, it smelled of sweaty adults and stale air. At the moment, only a few actual detectives were sitting at their desks, mulling over reports, doing the tedious work. They had all stopped to watch the scene.

“Oh come on, Pazzini, sure the kid is an odd duck but do you have to be such a hard ass?” Barkley commented. He was an older detective who had been on the force for thirty years and was inching close to retirement.

“I just think people should be who they really are. FYI, Simmons isn’t even from Texas. He’s from fucking Nebraska!” Tony yelled back as he reached the chief’s office. Barkley was probably right. Maybe he was being too hard on Simmons, but he was exhausted and his nerves were on edge.

Standing outside Linden’s door, he couldn’t help the pang in his stomach, which he knew wasn’t entirely due to his earlier lunch. Pretty much every time he stepped into this office, his boss had a bone to pick with him. Usually, Tony had to admit, the chief was right. He had a hot button and had been known to rough up a few dope dealers and scumbags here and there. Linden always covered his ass, but not before he tore him a new one. But Pazzini couldn’t think of anything he’d done lately to warrant the usual warning…unless it had to do with Dr. Morales. He might have been a little rough on her, but he would have figured her too tough to call in a complaint about him. In any case, he’d just been doing his job. But had he pushed the doctor too hard? He didn’t think she was a killer, but those questions had to be asked. Then again, beauty could blind people from the truth. And Kelly Morales was definitely good looking.

He turned the handle on the door and peered inside Linden’s cramped quarters. The office reminded him of his grandfather’s fishing cabin up in the Sierras. At least in the way it smelled—musty, old.

Linden lifted his head up off his desk. His blue eyes were bloodshot.

“Hey, boss. Simmons said you wanted to see me.”

“Yeah. Sorry. I’m getting some shut-eye. Tired these days.” He rubbed his bleary eyes. “Think I’m fighting a flu bug. Carol is home with it.”

“That’s too bad.” Tony didn’t buy the flu thing at all.

“Anyhow, I wanted you in here because I need to know what happened at the hospital last night. I’m getting some heat from upstairs and from the mayor’s office. That sort of thing. Hospital people are upset, and the CEO over there is going nutso. I got some broad calling me every hour asking if there’s any news. I told her as soon as I know something, I’d give her a ring. And I don’t even want to talk about the media. That pain in the ass Gem Michaels from The Times has been calling about a statement and information.”

Tony tried not to smile. Gem was a tough as nails reporter, and she could be a pain but Tony liked her. She was honest. No hype. Just the facts.

“Not good, Chief.”

Tony sat down in the cracked vinyl chair across from his boss. Kind of a joke, really. The only reason the guy still had any real power was because his dad was good buddies with the commissioner. It wasn’t a secret Linden was burnt out. However, he still did merit some respect. At one time, he’d been one of the finest. He’d solved more homicides than anyone else on the force. But then he was shot while on duty and now could walk only with the help of a cane. That explained the ever-present alcohol—self-medication. He’d been put behind a desk and Tony knew it had nearly killed him.

“Any suspects?” Linden asked, the faint smell of whiskey wafting off of him.

Tony took note of the coffee cup resting on Linden’s desk and wondered what was really in it. “Nothing out of the ordinary. I’m checking into the usual things. The ex-wife, colleagues, friends, anyone associated with him who might hold a grudge. Nothing stands out at the moment.”

“No one saw anything?”

“No one coming forward, anyway. We’re still questioning people, obviously. This is going to take some time, sir.”

“We don’t have time, Pazzini. You’re telling me no one in that entire hospital spotted anything out of the ordinary? Some doc gets rubbed out in the middle of a busy hospital like County, and no one sees a thing?”

“He wasn’t in the middle of the hospital, sir. He was in the morgue, and I don’t think it’s quite as bustling as the rest of the building. I’m working on it. If anyone did see anything, they aren’t talking yet. Forensics is still over there this morning. I just received a roster of everyone who was working during those hours. But like I said, this is going to take time. We are questioning everyone. Then there were visitors in the building until eight o’ clock. We need to look at the sign-in sheets. At this point, the killer could be anyone. Oh, and we’re also checking all security cam footage.”

Linden rubbed his eyes again. He looked wiped out…or very hung over.

“What we know, or can surmise at this point, is the suspect was alone and locking up for the evening. The morgue is on the bottom floor of the hospital. The perp came from behind and zapped him with a silencer. Then slit his throat. Our big problem is how many people are in and out of that place daily—dead or alive. DNA is everywhere. It’s a hospital. The crime scene was contaminated before we even walked in the door.”

Linden nodded and leaned back in his chair. He folded his hands together and placed them under his chin. “You spoke with a woman doctor.” He looked down at some notes. “Dr. Morales? I understand she had a dinner date with the vic.”

“Yes.”

“Tell me about her.”

“Her story checks out. She was at the restaurant waiting for him. Busboy confirms seeing her. She claims they had some patients to discuss.”

Linden made a face. “What? This guy is the morgue man and she’s in the NICU. What patients could they have in common?”

“I would assume an infant...or mom. It happens. Maybe she needed to talk pathology with him. I don’t know. It seemed plausible to me.”

“Guy is taking her to Tuscany’s to talk business? He’s gonna fork over that kind of cash on a business meeting? I don’t buy it. He was looking to get a piece of ass.”

“I think he might have been looking in the wrong place,” Tony replied.

“Ice queen?”

“No. I think she’s respectable, is all. I think they were friends. Seems like there was a mutual attraction between them and if the poor guy hadn’t been killed, they may have wound up in a relationship. But at the stage they were at, it wasn’t happening yet.”

Linden studied him and clucked his tongue. “She must be a looker.” Tony didn’t respond.

Tony understood his boss’s implications. “Please. I am a professional. Dr. Morales answered my questions and was cooperative. That’s the bottom line.” He sighed and thought carefully about what he was going to say next. He wanted to prove to Linden he hadn’t been blinded by the doctor’s good looks. “I did get the feeling, though, that she could be hiding something.”

“Why do you say that?” Linden He picked up his mug and took a swig.

“Just a hunch, that’s all.”

“Yeah, well, you need to trust hunches. Sometimes gut reactions solve cases. Stay with her a little longer.” He sighed and rubbed his eyes again. “I want an arrest on this, Pazzini. And soon. My oldest kid just got accepted at USF. Place is not cheap. My youngest needs braces, and my wife wants to go on a European vacation. She seems to forget I’m not Donald Trump. And between us, I am ready to retire from this place. But before I do, I need to go out on a high note, if you know what I mean.”

“Right.”

“Get back to me as soon as you have something. I’ll make some calls, see if I can keep the politics at a minimum. You’re working with Simmons on this.”

“What?” Pazzini asked. “You’re kidding, right? You can’t do that to me. Come on…”

“Does it look like I’m kidding? You’re going to need a partner on this one.”

“I do my best work alone.”

“Not this time,” Linden said. “He’s a good cop. He’s a little different, but he’s sharp. You can tolerate his idiosyncrasies.”

Tony rolled his eyes and walked out of the office. “Damn,” he muttered under his breath. He had a front-page homicide with no real leads, and now he had to work side-by-side with the urban cowboy.


Friday, November 18, 2011

Chapter Thirteen of COVERT REICH

Since Thanksgiving is next week and I am already having issues with my jeans (I swear they must have shrunk in the wash), I am heading out to the YMCA where they are offering a ZUMBA class. I am sure I will be completely coordinated and and will not drop after three songs. I am positive. Wish me luck.

In the meantime, here is Chapter Thirteen of COVERT REICH

Have a wonderful weekend.

Cheers,
Michele

CHAPTER THIRTEEN


Kelly locked the house up behind her. She’d fed Stevie T and left a light on in the entry and kitchen since she planned to get home late. Her shift would start at nine and go for 12 hours. Leaving at 6:00am would give her enough time to visit her horse, and maybe get some perspective out on the trail.

The rich scent of earth, dew, and freshly cut hay hit her as she stepped out of her Land Rover. Nickers and whinnies echoed across the grounds from the equestrian center. It was breakfast time and the horses were definitely ready to eat. She knew her timing wasn’t the greatest, but it was the only time she had until the weekend to visit.

Kelly let out a low whistle as she walked down the barn aisle. A big bay mare popped her head out and turned to face Kelly. Sydney nickered a gentle hello. Kelly smiled. “I’m happy to see you, too.” In fact, she was more than just happy…she was relieved. Tears welled in her eyes. She was exhausted and reeling from Jake’s horrible death. This was the only place she could come and find peace, even if only for a short while.

“Hey big girl.” Kelly slid a hand down Syd’s face. She reached in her pocket and brought out the apple slices she’d prepped at home. Syd took it eagerly. “I hope this makes you feel a bit better about being late for breakfast.” Kelly knew it wasn’t kosher to take Sydney off her feed schedule, but she’d only be an hour behind by the time Kelly was finished with her.

She took Syd out, put her in the cross-ties, and quickly groomed her. After tacking the mare up and putting on her helmet and gloves, she led her out to the mounting block and got on. A few minutes later, Kelly and Syd were walking along at a leisurely pace on one of the back trails behind the equestrian center. Tree branches reached across the wide path, leaves blowing gently in the slight breeze. The sun shone strong overhead with only a puff of cloud here and there, dotting the powder blue sky. For the first time in 24 hours, Kelly felt like she could breathe again. And, more importantly, think.

In the 30 minutes it took her to arrive back at the center, Kelly had gone over the current situation multiple times. She needed to get a hold of the charts on the two other women who died like Lupe Salazar. Unfortunately, Jake had been her primary connection in the morgue. She really didn’t know the other pathologists well, and she had been out on the days those women came in. She may have a difficult time getting access to their charts. God she wished that Dr. Pearson was around. He was a far more amicable man to deal with than Pierce Brightman. Joe Pearson was a good doctor. He was nearing retirement so it was kind of surprising he was now on vacation. However, as a doctor and especially one who worked the NICU Kelly understood the pain one endured when a little one was lost, and Pearson had apparently lost two within a week.

She wondered if the chief had suggested Pearson take time off, as Eric had indicated. Brightman had been OBGYN on both Lupe Salazar’s case and one of the other young women. One thing was certain, she would need to speak with him. Amicable or not. Kelly knew she needed to have a chat with Brightman to get his take on all of this. Would he have the same strange reaction Jake had with her? The reaction Kelly was sure had gotten him killed. How much did she want to look into this? Paranoia was beginning to get the best of her.

However, there was right and there was wrong. And it was right to find out what had happened to Lupe so at the very least she could help Baby S. And then there was Jake.

Kelly played Jake’s conversation with her over and over in her mind. She thought about Lupe Salazar and Baby S and what the reports detailed. She would need to see if the other women and baby charts matched up in any way. Kelly sifted through her theories, most of which were conspiratorial and bizarre. But at the end of the trail, she was no further into making sense of anything, leaving her frustrated and confused.

She put Syd away and headed toward her car, when she spotted a familiar face—Dr. Tamara Swift, her vet. Tamara was tall, very thin with long blonde hair, which was always pulled back and tucked under a ball cap. She had warm hazel eyes and a golden glow, likely due to her time spent outdoors in the sun. If she hadn’t been a vet, Kelly was certain she could’ve made one heck of a volleyball player. The moment Kelly saw Tamara, an idea began to form. “Hey Tam,” she said, quickening her pace.

“Hey there.” Tamara took a step back. “Wow, Kel. You okay? You look a little…”

“I know,” Kelly said holding up her palms. “I can’t go into it right now. Um, but I need a favor.” Tamara had become more than just Kelly’s vet over the years, she was also a friend. Kelly had actually introduced the vet to her now husband who Kelly had interned with. She’d been in her wedding. They had barbeques together, drank wine, enjoyed each other’s company.

“Sure,” Tamara replied.

“It’s dicey.”

“How do you mean?”

“I need some blood work sent in for some tox reports.”

“Something wrong with Syd?”

“No,” Kelly replied.

“What are you talking about then?”

Kelly sighed. “Okay, I can’t go into details here, but if I can get you the blood, can you help me?” For a second she started to rethink her request. Could she get her friend into any trouble? Or worse, would she be putting her in any kind of danger? She shook her head. “You know what, Tam, never mind. It’s silly. I never…” Kelly closed her eyes and fought back tears.

Tamara put an arm around her. “Hey, hey, Kelly? What’s going on? It takes a lot to make you cry. Hell, I remember last year when you broke two of your ribs after Syd dumped you going over that double oxer?” Tamara pointed to the jump arena. Kelly couldn’t help but laugh. “No tears then, right? I mean you kept saying how you were fine and you could get right back on, until you nearly passed out.”

“That hurt like hell.” Kelly smiled.

“Okay, so what’s this all about?”

“I don’t really know to be honest with you.”

“Let’s start with why you want the tox reports.”

Kelly knew if she was going to ask Tamara for help on this, she owed it to her to tell her everything she did know.

“So, your friend Jake, the pathologist, he was murdered after he basically warned you there was something sinister that caused this girl’s death?”

Kelly nodded. “Yes.”

“What about the police? Did you tell the detective who interviewed you last night about any of this?”

“I told him we were going to meet and discuss some patient cases.”

“I don’t understand. Why didn’t you tell him about this?” Tamara asked.

“Because it sounds crazy, doesn’t it? The detective was kind of, I don’t know…not a jerk, but also not exactly gentle. I mean he was prying and asking things about my sex life.”

“Why?”

“He thought I was hooking up with Jake, I guess. Look, I know I need to tell the police, but I needed a sounding board first to hear me out and let me know if it is as crazy as it sounds.”

“It does sound a bit strange, but you’re a grounded person, Kelly. You’re a good and respected doctor. The police might find it odd, so I can understand where you’re coming from.”

“Do you see why I want some kind of proof there is something behind the deaths of these pregnant women, something that got Jake killed?”

“And you think the tox reports may show something more?”

Kelly shrugged. “After hearing Jake talk about this, I don’t know if I can trust the tests that were already run, and I don’t know if everything was done thoroughly. I mean inconclusive means simply that.”

Tamara nodded. “I’ll do it for you.”

“Please be careful. I have no clue what we’re dealing with.”

Tamara gave her a hug and said, “Hopefully, we’ll find out.”

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Chapter Twelve of Covert Reich

I hope everyone is having a wonderful week! Here is Chapter Twelve. Also, if you didn't get a chance to click over to the YouTube link to watch the book trailer, no worries. I have posted it here today. Those of you who know me, know that many of my books include a horse or two. Thisbook is no exception. :) Here it is:CHAPTER TWELVE video

Stunned, Kelly mindlessly flipped through the channels on her TV trying to find a distraction. But the only thing that seemed to help was her cat, Stevie T (short for Stephen Tyler). He was curled up on her lap, purring away. Kelly stroked the long yellow fur on the tabby whose only purpose in life was to sleep, eat, and soak up attention. She scratched behind his ears. “Wish I was you,” she said. The cat opened his green eyes slightly and let out a soft meow, likely in protest that Kelly had spoken. “Sorry.”

She finally settled on HRTV to watch some horse racing. Horses were in her blood. She had been around them all her life, and even had one—Sydney, a mare—that she kept at the LA Equestrian Center. She tried to ride at least three days a week, when her busy schedule permitted.

Kelly had been born in Puerto Rico where her father worked as a groom and breezing race horses in the hopes of becoming a jockey. An opportunity came along when she was three and Raul moved his family to Lexington, Kentucky. In Lexington, he was able to work his way up from grooming race horses to training them. Now he trained and managed his own small stable. With any luck, he could end up with a future winner in his barn.

As a teen, Kelly breezed horses on the track before dawn. She’d thought long and hard about vet school vs. medical school, but in the end, she knew healing humans would be easier on her than trying to heal animals. She’d always formed attachments more easily to animals than people. However, as she’d grown in her role as a pediatrician, she realized being a human doctor was as tough as she’d thought being a vet would be. Emotions were emotions and they could get the better of her if she let them.

This train of thought led her right back to Baby Salazar lying in the NICU, and then to Jake. She tried to focus on the race—mud flying everywhere under pounding hooves, spraying like bullets into the eyes of the jockeys and horses.

Jockeys were an interesting lot. They worked so hard to make weight. They did everything from working out, starving themselves, taking diet pills, and even using cocaine to sharpen their focus and reaction time. Cocaine addiction amongst jockeys was high. It was one of the things her father did not like about racing. He’d recently fired one of the best jockeys to come through his stable for drug use.

Addiction. It would have been so easy for Kelly to piece all of this together if Lupe Salazar had been addicted to something. Kelly could treat addiction. She would know exactly what she was dealing with and how to handle it.

She needed to figure out the missing pieces. But as the emotions of the day finally caught up with her, she began to shut down. As she listened to the announcer and pounding hooves on the TV, she dozed off. Tomorrow she would see what she could figure out. She would do what she always did when she needed answers—make an early morning visit to the L.A. Equestrian Center, and, if time permitted, take Sydney out for a short trail ride before work. Syd had a way of helping her see things in a different light. Now it was time for sleep.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Chapter Eleven COVERT REICH

Here is Chapter Eleven of COVERT REICH my friends. This chapter involves one of my favorite characters in this book--Gem Michaels. To me Gem is savvy, fun, and the kind of woman I would want to be friends with. I hope you enjoy! Have a great Wednesday!

Cheers,
CHAPTER ELEVEN


Georgia Michaels—Gem for short—ran her fingers through her pixie cut, wondering how many grays were hidden beneath the Clairol Golden Blonde she’d been using since she was twenty-one and first spotted one of those nasty buggers. That was eighteen years ago, and she had no doubt the stress of raising two teenage boys—not to mention the strain of her job—had turned her hair snow white by now. There was a time, before she’d had the boys, when she’d wanted to become an international correspondent. But her hopes and dreams of interviewing and producing stories for CNN were dashed when her first son came along. She’d taken mothering as seriously as she’d taken anything in her life, and although Austen hadn’t been planned, she’d fallen in love with him at first site and loved being a mom.

But kids grow up, divorces happen, and finances dwindle. For the past few years, she’d gotten back into reporting and her dreams were alight again with possibilities for the future. Probably too middle-aged and not pretty enough to be on television, but she still had brains and brawn, and could sniff out a good story and hunt down information like nobody’s business.

Gem stared at the computer screen in front of her. Deadline, deadline, deadline. Jesus, it’s just another homicide. Write the damn thing, and get it to Stu before he hunts you down.

But God it was hard getting back into the swing of things. Gem had just returned from a week in Puerto Vallarta. Finally! Vacation. With a handful of forty-something divorcees drinking a shit-load of margaritas and eating way too much good food. Five pounds heavier and craving salt, lime, and tequila…the last thing Gem wanted to do right now was her job.

Homicide, schmomicide. They were all the same. So-and-so was killed at such-and-such location, by whomever using whatever—if they even knew that much. At least this one had some intrigue to it. It wasn’t the typical boy-meets-girl, fall in love, girl falls out of love, boy goes psycho and blows her brains out story. No. This time one of the top pathologists in the state had been offed right in the middle of County Hospital. Whoever toasted this guy was a total nut job or at least had some real balls. Or was some kind of hired hand. Maybe the doctor owed the wrong people some cash? Could be anything.

Gem was checking into the ex-wife. From what she’d heard, the split between Dr. Hamilton and his ex had been messy. The wife made off with most of his money and was living large. Of course the death of her ex meant those alimony checks were going to stop rolling in. On the other hand, if she had an insurance policy on the doc, or if he had failed to change his beneficiary over on an existing policy, well, then…that could certainly be reason enough for murder.

Or maybe it wasn’t about money. Gem had done enough checking into this thing to discover Dr. Hamilton had eyes for a pretty pediatrician who ran the neo-natal intensive care unit at County—a Dr. Morales. Gem wondered who had instigated the divorce between the Hamiltons. The ex could have a whopping jealous streak.

She looked at the blank screen that stared unforgivingly back at her. One would think this wouldn’t be a problem to write. This was her place, her people. Noises from the newsroom, people dashing about, crazed writers high on caffeine or nicotine (or both) typing away as their minds raced at a clip their bodies could certainly never keep up with, always poised to pounce on the next big story...Jesus, she should be able to write this story in her sleep.

Big story. This one had the feel to it, like a lion hiding in his den waiting to come out for the hunt. The photo of the guy was really all she had at the moment other than the usual rumor and conjecture from a handful of hospital employees—all filled with speculation. She had insiders at the police station, but the strange thing was, no one was talking. At all. The cops had given a brief statement, and that was it. Detective Pazzini, who Gem thought was a decent cop and a helluva good-looking one, told the media once forensics was finished investigating, the press would receive clearance from the hospital and get a detailed report. Great. A lot of good that did her right now.

Her phone buzzed and snapped her back to the here and now. “Yeah?”

“It’s Goldman.” She cringed. It was her boss, Stuart Goldman. “How’s your story coming? About finished? It’s a front pager. We have to go to press in a couple of hours.”

“Just about. Without the police saying much, it’s a little on the light side.”

“Well, you have to give me something. This guy was an important member in the community. Loved and respected. Go on that.”

“Right,” she replied, holding out her hands and looking at the light pink, chipped polish on her fingernails. The call from the boss was the motivation she’d needed. Gem turned off everything else around her and went to work, pounding out the best story she could. Once finished, she opened up her e-mail and attached the story to send to Goldman. She buzzed his office and let him know it was on the way.

Before heading out for the evening, she figured she’d better take a look and see if she had anything interesting in her inbox. She really was back now. E-mails aplenty. Her numero uno rule while down in Mexico was no computer and no cell phone.

Ah. L.A. was too far from Puerto Vallarta.

She scrolled down and saw the typical story pitches, lots of forwards from her book club friends, who she had consistently asked to stop sending her those damn jokes and chain letters. There was a short e-mail from her mom reminding her to make reservations early for her and the boys to fly back to New York for Christmas. The usual stuff. Except…one e-mail caught her eye. It was from ChemMadderhorn@gmail.com. At first she figured it was one of those skanky ads for Viagra or Cialis. God knew she received a ton of those, even with the filters on, but it was the subject line that grabbed her. “Your Neighbor, Chad.”

She opened the e-mail and read the short note. Watch your neighbor. Three years ago, San Diego, Ca., Petersen family.

“Oh my God,” she heard herself whisper. “What is this?” She knew about the Petersen family. Everyone in Southern California and pretty much in the U.S. had heard of them. And Gem had met her neighbor, Chad. But there was no way he’d been connected to that grisly, horrible crime. No way. She went to delete the e-mail, thinking it was some sick joke, but something held her back—her gut, her instinct, her sixth sense. She wasn’t sure what, but she closed her e-mail and opened her documents on the Petersen family.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Chapter Ten of COVERT REICH

I finally finished the book last night! I am sooooo happy. Right now I have three readers doing a read through for anything I missed or messed up on. I know I keep moving the date back on releasing the book but I want it to be as good as it possibly can be (especially after some of the lashings I received in UK amazon reviews for Mommy, May I? Yeah--remember that bad? When I uploaded a first draft version by mistake. Face palm! Big time! Word to the wise--when you name your files make sure it's really clear which draft it is.

So, until I get the book out I am continuing to upload chapters. Hope you are enjoying.

DISCLAIMER * This chapter (book) is rated R and is not suitable for audiences under 17. :)

Have a wonderful Tuesday.

Michele
A.K. Alexander



CHAPTER TEN


Mark Pritchett loved watching the pretty doctor. Everyone loved watching pretty Dr. Morales. But he was by far the most skilled at watching without her ever knowing. Hell, he’d been watching her long before he’d gotten word only a few hours earlier to keep an eye on her.

That’s who he was—a watcher.

He couldn’t wait until he got the go-ahead to take care of her. They would want that, wouldn’t they? The Brotherhood wouldn’t just want him to keep an eye on her and then do nothing about it.

Mark wanted so badly to prove himself to The Brotherhood. He was tired of being a peon. He was worthy of so much more. He could do so much more for the cause. He knew he could. If only they’d give him the chance.

For now, Mark would bide his time. It wasn’t as if his assignment was a bad one. Keeping an eye on certain docs was easy, and he’d been doing a damn fine job of it. Watching them and reporting back in. Smooth as silk. He knew he should be happy they trusted him. There were not many of them who had been placed in a position like this. Out of all of the guys who could have been chosen, they’d chosen him.

There had been a handful of doctors on his list to watch, and then he was told to watch Dr. Morales. Closely. He’d about split a nut. She was gorgeous. But an ice-cold bitch. Like they all were. Women. From his mother to his fat-assed sister to the ex-girlfriend he should have killed for being the most annoying, pain in the ass on Earth.

Then there was Dr. Morales. Kelly…

Damn, he would have loved to see her face when the bad-ass detective told her about Hamilton. Priceless. He wondered what Hamilton had done to get himself iced. One thing he knew for sure was when you fucked with The Brotherhood, they didn’t mess around. Obviously.

Mark snuck inside a supply room and stuck his hand inside his elastic-waist pants, wrapping his palm around his already hard cock. He looked down. The tattoo above his navel made him smile—his identity.

Everything that swastika stood for, he stood for.

Thinking about the various ways he would destroy Dr. Morales excited him. He tightened his grip and moved his hand faster. Little Miss Big Shot doctor. Now that would be something, wouldn’t it? That would really be proving himself. Death. Murder. Yes. With the good doctor, he would look right into her eyes. He would make it a slow, torturous. A begging-for-mercy kind of thing. He would so enjoy that.

He thought more about Dr. Morales and the things he was going to do to her. It was pure ecstasy. He leaned against the wall, slid down to the floor, and finished himself off. He couldn’t wait much longer. But waiting was a must because Mark knew no matter how bad he was, the people he worked for were far worse.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Chapter Nine of COVERT REICH and New Book Trailer

Happy Monday! I think there should be three day weekends. Two days is just not enough. But it is only two days, so I am back to work and I am sure you are as well. I have the draft of the new book trailer of COVERT REICH now available. Hope you will check it out and let me know your thoughts. Here is the link. Once it goes permanently live I will cut and paste into the blog and on my site. http://youtu.be/iGkcXr8og-c

And, here is Chapter Nine of the book. As I promised, I will keep uploading new chapters until the book becomes available. At this rate you might get the entire book before I can have it exactly the way I want it. Just kidding. It will be out before Thanksgiving and I am hoping readers will purchase for their e-readers or order the paperback. As mentioned before this book is an adult book! There is a lot of violence, a lot of swearing from some very evil characters, and it is never my intention as a writer to offend. Therefore, if this kind of thriller is not your thing then please pick up a Nikki Sands book or my novel Happy Hour. They are all light, fun, and with no real violence, swearing and all that stuff.

Have a wonderful Monday.

Cheers,
Michele

CHAPTER NINE


Redding sat back in the plush leather seat inside the chartered jet, waiting for take off. He swirled the ice around in his scotch and soda. He was headed back home, his work done in Germany. Hopefully. Something worried him about Horner though. He couldn’t put a finger on it. Other than the chemist still hadn’t produced what they wanted. They were on a timeline. Next year was an election year and it was vital to stay on schedule. Would Horner be able to get the job done? Redding sensed the guy was struggling. Maybe losing it. Peter sighed heavily. There were always going to be problems with a project like this. It was staying on top of the problems that mattered. Staying organized.

He remembered his father—Tim Redding. The Reddings had adopted him when he was three –years old and George had loved him and been an amazing teacher. He was the one who had explained the order of things. “You have to keep your soldiers in line, Petie. Here is the thing: when fighting a war—and trust me, we are fighting a war—you have your minions down on the bottom. Now they may not seem all that important. But they are. They’re like fleas—they can be disposed of and most easily replaced within the ranks. But the problem is, they can also be broken down the easiest by the enemy. They will almost always talk when push comes to shove, so it’s very important to be sure you have a solid foundation.

“Next are your henchmen. These guys recruit the minions. Minions do little jobs. You can control their minds. Henchmen do more difficult jobs. They have to be discrete, trustworthy. Then there are the helpers. They are your confidantes and partners. Then there’s you—the leader, son. You are a leader.”

Peter took a sip from his drink. “Yes, Dad, I am,” he muttered. His cell phone rang. It was a henchman calling. A very important henchman with very important connections. Connections who put a lot of money into Frauen Pharmaceuticals and Peter’s back pocket.

“Our little problem taken care of?” Peter asked.

“Yes, sir.”

“Good.” He leaned back in his leather chair and sighed. “And the girlfriend?”

“I don’t think she knows any more than what we heard, but we can’t be too sure.”

“No, we can’t. No loose ends. I want to know her every move.”

“Anything else, sir?”

“No. Money will be wired to your account. Good work.”

“Thank you, sir. Good night.”

Peter hung up the phone. The jet engine roared down the runway. Hamilton. The good doctor. A minion. Not one who believed in the cause, though. A minion by force, just like Horner. There were only a few of those who Peter kept a close eye on. They could ruin everything he’d worked so hard for. Everything his dad would have been so proud of. Men like Hamilton and Horner scared him, but he needed them—or guys like them. Hamilton was easy to dispose of. Dumb fuck should’ve realized his office would be wired. Horner was another story. Once the job was finished on the chemist’s end, Peter would feel much better when they’d gotten rid of him.

He took another long sip off his drink. He didn’t like setbacks and these bumps in the road were definitely setbacks. This Dr. Morales better not be a problem. He didn’t want to have her killed, too. He didn’t need a body count adding up. Body counts alerted cops and cops sniffing around anything was never good. The Hamilton case would never be solved. The henchman who had taken care of the doctor was good at taking care of problems. He’d proven it when he had been involved with the Petersen fiasco. The young man had orchestrated the whole thing. A job well done.

But God how Redding had hated all of that bad business, however, he’d soon realized that when Andrew Petersen had blown him off that he would need to make a strong and definite impression on his next victim—Dr. Horner. Yes, the young man had done a nice job there, and now with getting rid of Hamilton he’d once again proven he had the grit to get things done. His name was Chad Wentworth and he was vital to the cause at the moment. He had connections Redding had tapped into. Nice political connections. And to think Chad had been discovered guarding the double doors outside The Brotherhood meeting in Valencia only four years ago. He had come a long way. And so had Chad’s major connection. Redding smiled and held his drink in the air, cheering himself.

“So fuck it,” he said aloud. “Fuck it! This little setback is good for the character.” However, Redding knew any setback—minor or major—was not good for this project. Peter hated problems and loose ends. Hopefully Dr. Morales would keep her nose out of things. She would be much better off that way. The lights flickered from the city below, growing more distant as the plane reached cruising altitude. The alcohol began to ease tension from his shoulders and from his mind. But he couldn’t relax completely. He knew too many casualties would quickly alert the calvary, and the goddamn calvary was not invited to this war, because Peter Redding was determined to win.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Chapter Eight

Today Alex and I race up to LA (the word race should make you laugh if you know Southern California Freeways at all). It typically takes us three hours up and three hours back on a Friday. It just is what it is. However, the good news is that he is doing very well. The bad news is, I am still trying to finish the last minute edits on the book. Should be next week.

Here is Chapter 8 of COVERT REICH. Hope you enjoy!

Kelly was now following the man toward a private room to talk. Following the detective. Tony Pazzini. Her heart raced and every nerve pumped adrenaline. He still hadn’t told her anything other than he needed to speak with her in private. However, her gut told her what was coming.


This was about Jake. It had to be.

As they headed down the hall, they passed an orderly who dropped a handful of charts. Kelly bent down to help pick them up. The detective grabbed her arm. “I think he can handle that.”

“I was only trying to help.”

He touched her shoulder. “I understand but what we need to discuss is important.”

She turned to him, hands on her hips. “I’m not going any further until I know what this is about.” She needed to know. She needed to hear it.

“Look, I just need to ask you some questions. I’d like to do it in private.”

Anger, fear, and confusion stirred a vicious brew inside her. Kelly was terrified of what he was about to tell her. She nodded.

“Follow me.”

Once inside the doctor’s lounge, she turned and faced him, crossing her arms. “Okay. Now can you tell me what is going on here?”

“Did you have an appointment with Dr. Jake Hamilton this evening?”

“I did. We were supposed to have dinner together.”

“He didn’t show up,” the detective stated.

Kelly closed her eyes for a second. “No. I was on my way downstairs to see him when you came off the elevator.” Beads of perspiration formed on her top lip.

“I am sorry, but Dr. Hamilton was found murdered about an hour ago.”

Blood drained from her face as her stomach twisted into a knot that made her want to vomit, leaving a sour burn in the back of her throat. She gagged from the wine that came back up. Her hands shook, and a cold descended upon her, chilling her whole body. The detective reached out and took her elbow as she collapsed onto the yellow sofa. She put her face in her palms, too stunned to cry. Too stunned to think.

Only one thought came to mind: She was the reason Jake was dead.

She knew that with the most painful certainty.

The detective poured her a glass of water. “Do you think you can answer a few more questions for me?” he asked. “I’m sorry to do this now, but it’s necessary.”

She nodded. “I’ll try.”

“Okay. Thank you. So, you did plan to meet with Dr. Hamilton this evening?”

“I did.” She was tearing up again.

“What time was your dinner set for?”

“Seven-thirty,” she answered, barely audible.

“Where were you meeting?” He jotted a note down on his pocket pad.

“Tuscany’s.”

“Was this a date?”

“No. Dr. Hamilton and I were friends.” Her gaze fell to the ground. She didn’t want him to know she had considered the possibility of being more, but now…

“So you were not romantically involved with Dr. Hamilton?”

She hesitated. “No I just told you that it wasn’t a date.” She took a sip of her water and ran her fingers through her light brown hair. She eyed him. He’d hit a hot button. He gave her a weak smile. “We planned to meet for dinner because we needed to discuss some patient cases we were working on.”

“A dinner date to discuss business, then?” He decided to ignore the edge in her answer.

“Yes. Some patients, as I said.”

“Did you plan on going home with him?”

She frowned. “No. That actually had not crossed my mind, Detective.” Heat was rising in her face.

“Were you sexually involved with Dr. Hamilton?”

She frowned, her eyes narrowing. “I am not that kind of woman, and I don’t see the relevance to that sort of questioning. I told you, he was a colleague and a friend.”

“I’m working a murder case. Everything is relevant. I don’t judge what kind of woman you are, Doctor. Honestly. I am only trying to establish facts. Friends and colleagues can mean one thing to one person and a something else to another. And then once you quantify it as a relationship, we are at another level.”

“What are you, a detective or a relationship expert?”

This got a slight laugh out of him. “Well, actually, in my line of business you become a little bit of everything, I guess.”

She frowned. “I still don’t understand your questions.”

He paused for a second. “I’m gonna lay it on the line.”

“I wish you would.”

“When I have a murder case, I have to flesh everything out. I’m sure you can appreciate that. And the thing is, I can’t discount anything. Many times these cases wind up being crimes of passion or at least the victim knew the assailant.”

She crossed her arms, the frown on her face deepening. “Wait a minute, are you suggesting I murdered Jake?” She let out a soft cry. “Oh my God! As I said our relationship was a friendship and one of mutual respect. I liked him. I liked him a lot.” The tears welled in her eyes again. ”He was an excellent doctor and a decent man. He was also my friend.” She wiped her face with the back of her hand, and tried hard to contain her emotion. “We were not intimate. We’ve never been. I don’t know where things were headed, Detective. But what I can tell you is there is no way in hell I killed Jake.” She shook her head vehemently.

“Hey, I’m sorry if I offended you. I am only doing my job. What do you say we get back to the questions and I can let you go home?”

“Fine. Ask away.”

“Where were you between seven-fifteen and eight-fifteen this evening?”

“I left the hospital, drove to the restaurant, and waited there for Jake. When he didn’t show up, I came back here. I think you know the rest.” She stated it matter-of-factly and wiped the last of her tears away.

“Can someone verify they saw you at the restaurant?”

“I assume so. A hostess seated me. A waiter waited on me.”

“Okay, good.”

“Are we finished? I would really like to go home now.”

“Yes. I’ll probably need to speak to you again. Some time tomorrow. I may have more questions.”

“I will be here.” She left after that, holding back more tears, choking back emotion, feeling harassed, and convinced she had in some way caused her friend’s murder.