Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Q&A: Leonard Bassad, Author of The Witch Port Video Game


Writer-actor-singer Leonard Bassed was born in the town of Middleburg, Mpumalanga and raised in Johannesburg.  He started taking vocal lessons at age eight and studied drama throughout his high school years.  A mentor encouraged him to pursue an acting career.  Leonard went on to complete acting classes in both South Africa and later Los Angeles.  Currently, when not writing or singing, Leonard continues to study acting techniques with the renowned Margie Haber Studio in Hollywood. In his free time, he enjoys travel, reading and movie going.  His latest book is The Witch Port Video Game.

WEBSITE & SOCIAL LINKS:


Facebook page for author: https://www.facebook.com/leobassed/
Twitter page for author: https://twitter.com/LeonardBassed
Thanks for this interview, Leonard.  Congratulations on your new book! Would you say it’s been a rocky road for you in regards to getting your book written and published or pretty much smooth sailing?  Can you tell us about your journey?

Thank you. The writing itself is the fun part of the process, the challenges came after the book was written. The Witch Port Video Game is my debut novel so each step to getting my work out there has been a growth point, I also chose to self-publish so in that sense my workload was doubled. My novel came about after I returned home to South Arica, after a trip I made to Los Angeles, California in the USA. The book was adapted from a script I wrote by the same name, which I planned to pitch to film/TV producers. Upon its completion however I had grown too attached to the characters and world I’d envisioned, and knew I’d have to see it through.

If you were to pen your own autobiography, what might the title be?

If I were to pen my own autobiography I would probably go with a self-title, and a logline like: The underdog takes center stage… Being a self-help junkie I definitely hope to share more of my story someday. I love learning about how some people go through dire circumstances and come out at the other end triumphant. We all have our own personal mountains to climb, and a truly beautiful thing is to watch someone conquer theirs.

When not writing, what do you like to do for relaxation and/or fun?

There is an old saying attributed to the Chinese sage Confucius that goes: “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” I whole-heartedly agree with this sentiment. It’s proven true in my case I’m fortunate in that I live my passions, I’ve always had an interest in storytelling but thought that would find expression through my songwriting and acting. My love of acting however inspired me to write the dream role, that I’d personally love to be cast in.

What makes your book stand out from the rest?

What makes my book and every other book ever written stand out from the rest is the author’s point of departure. No two people look at life through the same lenses, therefore each book is unique unto itself.  I’ve done the work, and I’m confident that my book will be a source of intrigue for its demographic.


Can you give us the very first page of your book so that we can get a glimpse inside?

CHAPTER 1 ‒ THEN AND NOW

SALEM MASSACHUSETTS, 1692 AD

Not so long ago in history, sorcerers were at liberty to practice their craft peacefully. Sorcery was ‘the thing’. Whether masters or apprentices; they all were encouraged to practice the craft, which they did openly. This regrettably is no longer true.
This story is a warning to those who possess the gift to turn away from the arcane or risk their lives; heresy is punishable by death.
My name is Martin Robinson, and I’m somewhat of a seer. I dream of things past, present and yet to come. Though I only see glimpses at a time, they remain a vivid sensory experience. This is one such recollection.
It’s on a windy autumn day, the sky a medley of pinks, oranges and yellows. The sun is about to make its long commute towards tomorrow. I see an old woman, conservatively dressed, in a dusty, almost farm-like kitchen, preparing a recipe of sorts from a book, as if reading from a bible, bound in leather, and placed in front of her. She’s not alone as I count, three other elderly fair-skinned women, wearing similar attire.
Reading a page from the book, of which the title spells ‘The Flight Broth’, the tall one mutters, “The directions are as follows... Begin the brew when the moon is full. Submerge the barbs of a wounded bird in the red of drunken men’s ale. Add a wing of bat, aconite and a black tourmaline to make one soar. Bring to the boil, and then let it wait. Serve it cold for Hades’ sake.”
I see three elderly men, possibly the women’s husbands, lying unconscious on the floor. There is also a young man in a corner. Odd and like misplaced furniture, he too is unconscious, but clutching a wide-eyed baby, seemingly fascinated by unfolding events.
Like by the flicking of a page, I see the same three women in a different setting… on the summit of a rocky hill, leaving a goblet with a crimson liquid, and something resembling a smudge stick, at the foot of a tall tree overlooking the sky-bled ocean. They seem in a hurry to get home, darting back into the greenery of the hill descent.


If your book was put in the holiday section of the store, what holiday would that be and why?

If my book was placed in the holiday section of a store, it would likely be placed in the Halloween section due to the subject matter. I strongly doubt it would be shelfed near the Christmas cards [he jokes].

Would you consider turning your book into a series or has that already been done?

Yes, I’d definitely love to have my book adapted for screen. In fact, that’s one of the things I hope to achieve with this novel. It would be trippy to see my words brought to life in a visual medium such as film/TV or some streaming service.

When you were young, did you ever see writing as a career or full-time profession?

I never thought writing could be a stand-alone profession until now, not unless you’re J.K. Rowling that is. I’ve always thought an author needs some degree of mastery over the subject matter they choose to write about. In my case as a fiction author it’s not so much a mastery over witchcraft but I do have an interest in the topics I write about, and an imaginative mind, these two elements combined make an intriguing read.

Did any of your books get rejected by publishers?

No. I chose to self-publish my book, because it was my debut novel, I wanted to maintain complete creative control of it. I wanted it translated as close to how I envisioned it as possible. There is a lot of waiting around associated with getting traditionally published, the actor in me wanted to take back some of my power and get my work out there.

What is your view on co-authoring books; have you done any?

No not yet, but I love the idea, not everyone is a writer, but everyone has a story to tell. In cases where the book is an autobiography and co-authored the reader is offered different perspectives to the same scenario or maybe it’s a fiction and the two writers feed off of each other creatively. I do plan to co-author a book someday but I’m not teasing details just yet.

What’s next for you?

I’ll continue doing press for my book The Witch Port Video Game, I’m already diligently at work on the sequel and look forward to sharing it with you all soon.

About the Book:

Leonard Bassed had no plan to write a novel titled THE WITCH PORT VIDEO GAME when he set out to create a movie script with a similar name.  “I had written the pilot script first and I kept the
same ending for the novel…everything from the script I wrote found its way into the finished book version of ‘The Witch Port Video Game,’ said writer-singer-actor Leonard Bassed.  “I was able to spend more time developing the characters and their world…the whole thing was just such an organic experience and extremely enjoyable, creative for me.”
THE WITCH PORT VIDEO GAME tells the story through the lives of three ordinary teens who live in the fictional town of Cradle Creek, USA – a small town they hope to one day escape, attracted by the bright lights and promise of the Big City.  All three are students at a prestigious performing art school with hopes of one day making names for themselves in the entertainment world.
Mr. Bassed continued about his story, “A chance encounter the three have with a girl named Bianca Morris threatens to derail their plans. Bianca introduces them to an enticing video game, ‘The Witch Port Video Game’.  This encounter, coupled with the arrival of the MacQuoid brothers sets in motion a series of bizarre events that spins their lives into chaos and disarray as the three head into a world of sorcery with an ultimate fight for survival.”
As a young boy growing up in South Africa, Leonard dreamed one day of working in the arts.  He wanted to write, to act, to sing.  While drawn to acting and song writing, he was also a good story teller.  “The auditions I would go out for as an actor were never reflective of the kinds of roles I was after to play. It was this realization that led me to writing the pilot script which I planned to pitch to TV and movie producers.  But, once I finished the script I’d grown too attached to the characters and the wonders of their world that ultimately led the script into the shape of a full novel,” he went on to say.
PRAISE
“While the book’s final moments leave us with a rather sudden, enigmatic ending, an end note does indicate a sequel Witch Port Igniting the Coven on the horizon. For those who enjoy the entertaining literary chemistry that results from inquisitive teens and their foray into the mysterious world of sorcery, Bassed’s venture should prove an intriguing reveal.”
--Pacific Book Review

“Filled with cheeky references to famous pop-culture stories of sorcery and mixed with some classic teenage angst, this book is a fast-paced, suspenseful story. The novel’s premise that some teenagers gain special powers through a video game is an updated, modern take on magic and suits the story quite well for a 21st-century setting. The author sets up the story mechanisms so that everything that happens through the students’ video game play also happens in real life. The author states that this novel was originally a screenplay, and those elements shine through, from the descriptive settings to the fast pace in which the action occurs on the page. It will be interesting to see how the protagonists grow with their powers in the sequel.”
--The U.S. Review of Books
Book can be purchased at the author’s web site at www.leonardbassed.com

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Book Watch: Witches Protection Program by Michael Oko



Witches Protection Program
Michael Okon
* Urban Fantasy *


Title: WITCHES PROTECTION PROGRAM
Author: Michael Okon
Publisher: WordFire Press
Pages: 200
Genre: Fantasy/Urban Fantasy



Wes Rockville, a disgraced law-enforcement agent, gets one last chance to prove himself and save his career when he’s reassigned to a 232-year-old secret government organization.

The Witches Protection Program.

His first assignment: uncover a billion-dollar cosmetics company’s diabolical plan to use witchcraft for global domination, while protecting its heiress Morgan Pendragon from her aunt’s evil deeds. Reluctantly paired with veteran witch protector, Alastair Verne, Wes must learn to believe in witches…and believe in himself.

Filled with adventure and suspense, Michael Okon creates a rousing, tongue-in-cheek alternate reality where witches cast spells and wreak havoc in modern-day New York City.

Praise:

Witches Protection Program is a great summer choice, ideal for beach or poolside reading, and with elements of romance, action, crime, and fantasy, there’s a little something for everyone to enjoy.”—Foreword Reviews

“…mixes predictable elements–corporate intrigue, sexy witches, cat familiars, car chases, family secrets, and steampunk weaponry–into an enjoyable story.’—Publisher’s Weekly

“Cleverly offbeat, often cheeky, and loads of fun.”Kirkus

WITCHES PROTECTION PROGRAM is a fun and quick read, and the out-of-the-norm narrative choices make the novel feel like something wonderfully subversive.” – IndieReader

Witches Protection Program is a unique gem, one that’s fast-paced with twists, action, and fun characters.” – Reviewed by Liz Konkel for Readers’ Favorite, Five Star Review

Witches Protection Program will hook you if not for the action, then the romance and if not for the romance, then the sheer humor, what with its funny dialogue.” – Liezl Ruiz, NetGalley Reviewer

★★★★★ORDER YOUR COPY★★★★★

Amazon → https://tinyurl.com/y6a7lq9m

 Barnes & Noble → https://tinyurl.com/yy34sbxm

 

______________________







______________________


The narrator filled in more information. “It wasn’t until this land became my land that the government decided to create an organization to protect women at risk. The Davina Doctrine went against everything that the Willas stood for. Even though they ran the risk of persecution, the Davinas chose to work with law enforcement to expose the evil deeds of the rival sisterhood. President George Washington established secret legislation under Title VI of the Control Act of 1792. The law was enacted to protect the good witches that exposed the evil deeds of their sisterhood.”  
The screen went dark. There was only a chair in the center of a dimly lit stage. A single spotlight focused on the top of the blond actress’s head. Wes was right; it was the actress he’d suspected. She had a hit sitcom and two Emmys, and there was some recent Oscar talk about her last movie.
“Yes. There are witches. Living among us. They are women who believe in using their power to protect love and life. And then there are some who use their powers for all the wrong reasons.”

The camera came to rest on her beautiful face. She winked saucily as she placed a triangular witch’s hat on her head. 

“Welcome to the WitchesProtection Program.”

Alastair smiled broadly. “I love that part.”
“That was Jennifer Anis—”


 

______________________






Michael Okon is an award-winning and best-selling author of multiple genres including paranormal, thriller, horror, action/adventure and self-help. He graduated from Long Island University with a degree in English, and then later received his MBA in business and finance. Coming from a family of writers, he has storytelling in his DNA. Michael has been writing from as far back as he can remember, his inspiration being his love for films and their impact on his life. From the time he saw The Goonies, he was hooked on the idea of entertaining people through unforgettable characters.
Michael is a lifelong movie buff, a music playlist aficionado, and a sucker for self-help books. He lives on the North Shore of Long Island with his wife and children.

★WEBSITE & SOCIAL LINKS★




 

Monday, September 9, 2019

Character Interview with Ameenah Yemini of The Wolf Queen by Cerece Rennie Murphy


We’re thrilled to have today Ameenah Yemini from Cerece Rennie Murphy's The Wolf Queen.  It is a pleasure to have here with us at The Literary Nook!
 
What is your name?

Hello. My name is Ameenah Yemini. I am the main character in Cerece Rennie Murphy’s story of The Wolf Queen.

What do you look like?

I have my father’s height so I’m tall, almost 6 feet, with dark skin and wild curly hair.  The beads in my hair are from my mother.  They are a sign that I am a daughter of Amalayki. A member of the Amasiti. A sorcerer.

Where are you today and what are you doing?

Today, I am at my farm at the edge of the Forbidden Forest. Oh, I love it here!  It’s quiet and isolated.  I grow fruits and vegetables in the fields behind my house and make fine leather goods in my workshop. Besides my occasional trips to Djobi to sell my wares, I never leave this place. It is my sanctuary. 

After I put the yellow lentils to simmer for tonight’s dinner, I will return to my workshop.  I’m working on repairing a leather satchel for a dear friend of mine. He will be here soon and I want to have it ready for him.

You come face to face with your worse enemy. How do you react?

When I first met the Hir, I was terrified and there was nothing but that terror to guide me, but the legacy of my mother helped me find my courage, a way out of my fear to something more.

You keep a photo album of memories from your lifetime. If you could only keep one photo, which one would that be?

Is a photo a picture? We don’t have photos in Yet, but if I had only one picture it would be of my family, whole, alive, and together.

Are you a morning person or a night owl?

I am a farmer, so I have no choice but to rise before the first sun, but the truth is I am a creature of the night.  At night, the forest calls to me.

What is your favorite piece of clothing?

The necklace my mother gave me, right before they took her from me.  I have worn it since I was five years old. She bid me never to take it off and I never have.

Do you have any phobias? What are they and how intense are they? How have they impacted your life?

Losing your family as I did, at such a young age, makes it hard to trust.  I crave solitude, silence.  Crowds frighten me. If I am completely honest, people frighten me. I have to work very hard to prepare myself to sell my wares and make my living.  A day in the crowded city of Djobi will take me six months to recover from. I wish I could be different, but it’s all I have known.

You move into a new home. What's the first thing you buy for it?

I built this house with my bare hands. I would never abandon it, but the first thing I made for it was the shelves for my leathers. If I am not organized, it is very upsetting to me.

What scares you?

Losing what I love. It has happened before. Your question makes me realize how much of my life is about making sure that it does not happen again.

How would your parents describe you?

I hope they would be proud of me, of the woman I have become, but truly I do not know. They have been dead for many years. It is still painful to think of them.

Who is your best friend?

My best friend is Nasir Ebibi. We grew up together, before my parents died. Though our lives have taken different paths, our friendship is where we meet. I treasure him greatly, though I am ashamed to admit I have never told him so.

Are you married or in a relationship?

No, I am not married, but if I were there is only one man I would choose.

When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I wanted to be as beautiful and as brave as my mother, but I wanted to run as fast as my older brother, Javeer.

About the Author

Cerece Rennie Murphy fell in love with science fiction at the age of seven, watching “Empire Strikes Back” at the Uptown Theater in Washington, D.C., with her sister and mom. It’s a love affair that has grown ever since. As an ardent fan of John Donne, Alice Walker, Kurt Vonnegut and Alexander Pope from an early age, Cerece began exploring her own creative writing through poetry. She earned her master’s degrees in social work and international relations at Boston College and Johns Hopkins School for Advance International Studies, respectively, and built a rewarding 15-year career in program development, management and fundraising in the community and international development arenas – all while appreciating the stories of human connection told in science fiction through works like Octavia Butler’s “Wild Seed,” Frank Herbert’s “Dune” and “The X-Files.” In 2011, Cerece experienced her own supernatural event - a vision of her first science fiction story. Shortly after, she began developing and writing what would become the bestselling Order of the Seers trilogy.  Order of the Seers was selected as one of The Best Kindle Books of 2014 by Digital Book Today.  To date, Mrs. Murphy has published nine speculative fiction novels, short stories, and children's books.

In addition to working on the 3rd book in the award-winning Ellis and The Magic Mirror children’s book series with her son and releasing her 5th adult novel, The Wolf Queen, Mrs. Murphy has launched NARAZU, an online platform designed to deliver the best in indie sci-fi content and comic culture to the fans who love it most. You can visit the new site at www.narazu.com.  Her current writing projects include the second book in The Wolf Queen duology and plotting a science fiction thriller set in outer space.  Mrs. Murphy lives and writes in her hometown of Washington, DC with her husband, two children and the family dog, Yoda.





About the Book:

Title: THE WOLF QUEEN: THE HOPE OF AFERI (Book 1)
Author: Cerese Rennie Murphy
Publisher: LionSky Publishing
Pages: 242
Genre: YA Fantasy

BOOK BLURB:
Once great and powerful sorcerers, the Amasiti were hunted to the brink of extinction by the Hir and his followers. For four hundred years, their legacy faded from memory waiting for the hope of Aferi to be renewed…

In the Land of Yet

At the edge of the Forbidden Forest

A young woman lives alone.

Forced to fend for herself after the brutal murder of her family, Ameenah Yemini has made a life for herself as a master tanner and farmer, only venturing into the world to earn her living then return to the safety and seclusion of her home.

Until a chance encounter brings her work to the attention of the powerful Hir

And her careful life begins to unravel.  

Drawn to the hidden magic that lingers in everything she touches, the new Hir insists on having her for himself, using the people around her to force Ameenah into his grasp. 

When she realizes that her greatest enemy may hold the key to a secret she thought lost to her forever, Ameenah is determined to reclaim her stolen past.  But, at what cost? As an ancient power waits to be unleashed, Ameenah's choices will make the difference between awakening a new magic or delivering it into the hands of evil.

ORDER YOUR COPY:



 

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Book Watch: Wolves At Our Door by Soren Paul Petrek & Giveaway!





Title: WOLVES AT OUR DOOR
Author: Soren Paul Petrek
Publisher: Editions Encre Rouge/Hachette Livre
Pages: 319
Genre: Historical/Action/Adventure



The Allies and the Nazis are in a deadly race to develop the ultimate weapon while supersonic V-2 rockets rain down on London. Madeleine Toche and Berthold Hartmann, the German super assassin who taught her to kill, search for the secret factory where Werner von Braun and his Gestapos masters use slave labor to build the weapons as the bodies of the innocent pile up. The Allied ground forces push towards Berlin while the German SS fight savagely for each inch of ground.

Finding the factory hidden beneath Mount Kohnstein, Hartmann contacts his old enemy, Winston Churchill and summons Madeleine to his side. While she moves to bring the mountain down on her enemies, Hartmann leads a daring escape from the dreaded Dora concentration camp to continue his revenge against the monsters who ruined his beloved Germany.

Together with the Russian Nachtlexen, the Night Witches, fearsome female pilots the race tightens as the United States and the Germans successfully carry out an atomic bomb test.

Germany installs an atom bomb in a V-2 pointed towards London, while the US delivers one to a forward base in the Pacific. The fate of the Second World War and the future of mankind hangs in the balance.

Read the first chapter at Booksie and don’t forget to give it a like!

 
https://amzn.to/2Z8tGOD

 

______________________






Helga Miller shut the door to her small flat in Saint-Omer. With seagulls reeling and crying in the sunny morning sky above, she felt as though she were on vacation. She loved the quaint architecture of the homes, the small shops, and the produce market. Things were scarce, but it was late summer, and the local produce was in. Fish was always available, and she had developed a fondness for it. She could smell the sea and loved the warm sand and relaxed atmosphere at the beach. It was as if there wasn’t even a war.

I’m not on holiday, she told herself, but it’s my first time out of Germany, and I’m not going to waste it. She’d wanted to help with the war effort, and now she had her chance. Even after the invasion, everyone back home still thought Germany would win—Hitler told them so, and the propaganda films left no doubt. Why wouldn’t she believe it as well?

Smaller than some of the other women she worked with, Helga prided herself on being athletic and trim. She went for long walks and did calisthenics daily. Her long hair, which she kept tucked under her hat while on duty, was dark, as was the hair of many people from Bohemia in southern Germany. She wasn’t much interested in the men she worked with. Older and serious, they paid little attention to her except to bark orders. They bored her. She liked the young soldiers stationed in the town and at her worksite. They were exciting and fun-loving, and girls like her from home were scarce.

Helga had been recruited right out of university, and while she knew that as a non-soldier, she would never be much of a threat to anyone, she was eager to work on such an important program. The big projects had political or military applications. The project she was working on combined mining and construction. It was unique.

She was on her way to La Couple, where she worked as a mining engineer. Helga knew the fighting was close, but the enemy army was still many miles away. She didn’t think about it much, but when she did, she had to admit it was a bit thrilling. Neither did she think often of the intended use of the facility once complete. At work she concentrated, paying no attention to the fact that rockets launched from there would fall on major cities—and their civilian populations. Allied bombs were falling on German cities, targeting military installations and civilians alike. She hoped the completion of the facility would stop those raids and help Germany win the war.

 Helga walked toward the train station where she would catch the short ride to her worksite. She disliked the frumpy white coveralls she wore, but they, like everything else, were mandatory. She felt as though she were dressed in a sack. How would she ever catch a man’s eye while wearing a tent?

She turned a corner and crossed over the car park toward the train station. It was a squat wooden building consisting of dirty windows, a ticket booth, toilets, and a kiosk that sold newspapers, cigarettes, and whatever sweets were available at a given time. Helga made her way over to the short line to buy a ticket for the next train. She noticed a young woman ahead of her with a mane of curly black hair cascading down the middle of her back. She didn’t have to see the woman’s face to know that she was beautiful; the way she held herself left no doubt. Oh, to have curls like hers . . . Helga fingered the correct change in her pocket and had it ready when she got to the window. She smiled at the man behind the glass. He gave her the same indifferent look he gave all the passengers, French and German alike. She was sure he’d been there before the war and would be there when it was over. His job was simple and didn’t require any conversation.

A rush of wind announced the arrival of the train. Helga moved forward onto the platform and waited for it to come to a stop. It was a tired old commuter train that had covered the same miles of track for years. With petrol scarce, people got around on foot, bicycle, or, for longer distances, train.

After waiting her turn to board, she found an empty seat in the middle of the car. Among the passengers who brushed past her was the young woman with the beautiful hair. Helga snuck a peek at her dark and angular, almost Gypsy-like, face; the lovely girl was almost certainly from the south. She watched men steal glances as she passed. She felt a twinge of jealousy. No man had ever looked at her that way; it wasn’t fair.

The train pulled out of the station and picked up speed. The windows were down, and the warm breeze carried a hint of salt from the ocean. The smell of seaweed and surf wafted through the car, carrying out cigarette smoke and lingering smells. Helga could stay in a place like this forever. With the weekend coming, she was planning to go down to the beach with another girl from work. Two days in the sun, a chance to chat with some young men, drink some local wine, have some fun. There were always young German soldiers about, on leave.

As the coastal scenery came into view, it seemed to shake from the train’s rattling. Seagulls cried down near the beach. The tide was out, revealing large expanses of sand and lowland areas. People were out digging clams and scraping mussels off the exposed rocks. The chalky cliffs were much like their counterparts on the other side of the channel in England.

No sooner did the train stop than the other passengers stood and eked out to crowd the passageway. Helga waited until the aisle was clear before she stood. As she made her way to the door, the car was empty, so it hardly stood out that the young woman was, like everyone else, gone.

Helga made her way from the train station toward the construction site. The path was a mixture of sand, gravel, and chalky white chips weathered away from the hillsides over millions of years. The path came to a wooded area. She could see other workers walking far ahead, but there was no one near her. She wasn’t in a hurry to get to work, especially on such a nice day. She’d be on time; there was no need to rush.

It was a blind corner in the path. No time to react. A dark figure slid behind her and placed a hand on her shoulder, another on her chin. With a furious jerk, the assailant broke Helga’s neck and dragged her body off the trail. The killer removed her work clothes and pulled them over her own. In less than a minute, the body was covered with grass and sticks. Unless someone from the trail was looking for Helga, she would never be seen.

The killer moved away, pulling Helga’s cap over her head, tucking in strands of curly black hair. Back on the trail, she headed toward the rear entrance of La Couple. She clipped the dead girl’s credentials to her coat pocket. She’d already observed that the guards never even checked the women coming and going from the facility. How incredibly stupid of them.

The guards at the entrance waved her through as she held out her identification. Hardly a glance in her direction. She stepped into the entrance, where, shielded from the summer sun, she was immediately cooled. Moisture clung to the walls and made the floor beneath her slippery. A sheet of water covered the tunnel, pooling in spots. This entrance mustn’t be completed yet, she thought. Touching the spongy chalk walls, she passed on into an area where concrete walls had been added and spanned in a curved ceiling overhead. The passageway was extremely wide. Wide enough to accommodate a small train. Not tall enough for a full-sized rail car, but certainly wide and high enough to transport something big.

The woman’s name was Madeleine Toche, and her inside-out knowledge of her business was nearly as legendary as her hatred of Germans. For this important operation, she needed to know what was inside so she and others could destroy it. Today was a reconnaissance mission. If an attack was ordered, it would come later.

Toche was an assassin, trained and deployed by the British Special Operations Executive, the SOE, and Prime Minister Churchill’s army of the shadows. She’d spent most of the past two years in France killing—Gestapo, SS officers, and troops. Stealth and patience were her strongest weapons. She’d often wait days in concealment, like a spider in its dark recess, until she sprung from a forgotten crack to kill, afterward slipping away. Her reputation spread far beyond Europe.

Raped at the hands of the SS after her beloved brother was killed when Germany invaded France, she’d vowed revenge. With the help of her father, she killed her assailant and escaped to England through Spain. Her young life had been a whirlwind of training with the British SOE and preparing for war.

A German Jew, a hero of the German army in the First War, trained her. His hatred of the Nazis for killing his wife and daughters propelled him down a road of destruction that made Madeleine’s pale by comparison. Those Jews that knew of him considered him a Gollum. A creature sent by God to kill the enemies of the Jewish people. A monster devoid of mercy. An instrument of unspeakable cruelty. Hatred lain bare.

Passageways led off the main corridor she was in, and down which she continued toward the cavernous space under the dome. Oily dust hung in the air. While the chalk was caked and fragile, the hum of diesel machinery and poor ventilation created a haze inside the tunnels. The place was light on security; if there were any other guards, she couldn’t see them. Electric bulbs strung overhead created a misty effect. She was happy with the additional cover.

The tunnel was a hive of activity. With tight schedules to keep, the workers inside remained intent on their tasks, often walking right past her without a glance or a greeting. No one would notice her in here. She stepped aside to allow a group of workers to go by.

The sound of nonstop drilling shook the structure. She walked past workshops and storage areas, all linked by railroad tracks that headed down toward a massive central hall looming ahead. Inside, it was brightly lit and crisscrossed with construction scaffolding.

She walked out into the space underneath the dome, towering seven stories above her. Full-sized train tracks led out of the cavern into a corridor much larger than the one she had just walked through. Machinery was being attached to walls in the middle of the structure beneath the dome. She could identify winches and tracks to move something horizontally above the tracks. But what in the world was this?

She left the dome area to inspect the remainder of the construction. As she passed one of the rooms, she noticed that the ceiling was much higher than the others. At least twice as tall. She paused and walked inside. Workers measured the floor, marking it at intervals to accommodate another set of tracks. A man looked up with a quizzical expression and then motioned her over. She would answer none of his questions; she promised herself as she pointed to her watch and shook her head. When he started in her direction, she turned and walked out of the room. He followed.

Madeleine picked up her pace and started back down the tunnel in the direction from which she had come. She ducked into a dark hallway leading off the main corridor. She flattened her back against the wall, hiding on the fringe of the light spilling in from the hallway. The man hurried in her direction. Just a little closer, she thought. He couldn’t see her in the dark. Once he was near, she darted out, ramming a fountain pen into his ear, pushing it in with the palm of her hand. His knees buckled, and he fell forward onto his face, crashing to the floor. Setting her clipboard down, she dragged his body further into the dark. And though his legs jiggled, she knew he’d been dead before he hit the ground. Finding a bin partially filled with rock, Madeleine pulled his body behind it. Turning, she picked up her clipboard and walked out into the main passageway. She had seen enough. Time to leave.

She walked toward the entrance she had come through, knowing she needed to be gone before they discovered the body. After all the missions she’d completed, and blood that had stained her hands, to get caught on a reconnaissance mission would be stupid. She knew she would find Jack at the top of the hill overlooking the compound. Just make it to the trees, and you’re home free. This is routine. Shoot your way out, but only if you have to.

Madeleine hurried to join a small group of workers leaving the facility. Neither guard at the entrance gave her any notice until she walked past them. Madeleine made sure to smile at the young guards. They couldn’t help but smile back. Just don’t speak to me in German, she thought, touching the pistol in her pocket. It had become almost involuntary. A reassurance that it was there if she needed it. She could feel their eyes on her body. The bulky uniform couldn’t hide everything. And the more they concentrated on her looks, the less they would think about security; it had worked in the past. The Germans just didn’t see women as threats. They’d think differently if they knew she had a five-million-Francs bounty on her head.

Walking out of the guards’ line of sight, Madeleine stepped off the path. She pulled off the white smock and hat and shook out her hair. She tossed the clothes further into the woods and then covered them with small branches. Soon she relaxed, the adrenaline in her body subsiding. She had much to tell her superiors about this successful mission. She couldn’t wait to reach the top of the hill and see Jack, her husband.



























 







Soren Petrek is a practicing criminal trial attorney, admitted to the Minnesota Bar in 1991.  Married with two adult children, Soren continues to live and work in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Educated in the U.S., England and France Soren sat his O-level examinations at the Heathland School in Hounslow, London in 1981.  His undergraduate degree in Forestry is from the University of Minnesota, 1986.  His law degree is from William Mitchell College of Law in St. Paul, Minnesota 1991.

Soren’s novel, Cold Lonely Courage won Fade In Magazine’s 2009 Award for Fiction.  Fade In was voted the nation’s favorite movie magazine by the Washington Post and the L.A. Times in 2011 and 2012.

The French edition of Cold Lonely Courage, Courage was published January 2019, by Encre Rouge Editions, distributed by Hachette Livre in 60 countries.  Soren’s contemporary novel, Tim will be released along with the rest of the books in the Madeleine Toche series of historical thrillers.

His latest book is the historical action adventure novel, Wolves at Our Door.



Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/soren.petrek

GIVEAWAY!


Soren Paul Petrek is giving away 15 Amazon Kindle copies!

Terms & Conditions:
  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • Fifteen winners will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive an e-copy of Wolves At Our Door!
  • This giveaway ends midnight September 27.
  • Winner will be contacted via email on September 28.
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply.
Good luck everyone!

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Thursday, August 15, 2019

Book Watch: The Red Carpet at Cannes by Duane Byrge


THE RED CARPET AT CANNES 
by Duane Byrge
* Mystery *


Title: THE RED CARPET AT CANNES
Author: Duane Byrge
Publisher: Independent
Pages: 235
Genre: Mystery



Veteran film critic Duane Byrge takes readers on a behind-the-scenes thrill ride at the legendary Cannes Film Festival in his new mystery, THE RED CARPET AT CANNES.

A longtime movie writer and editor for the Hollywood Reporter, Byrge turns to the thriller genre to tell the tale of Ryan Hackbart, who, like Byrge, covers the Cannes Film Festival for the fictional Hollywood Times.

Hackbart finds himself in the middle of a Hitchcock-style mystery as he becomes the prime suspect in the murder of the lead actress of the festival’s opening-night film. Interrogated but released, his passport is confiscated, and he is hounded by the world media. He must solve the murder before the culprit kills him or the police arrest him.

Aided by his female companion, Delisha, Ryan’s investigation thrusts Hackbart into the underbelly of the most glamorous film festival in the world and opens his eyes to what lies underneath the glitz and glamour.

After a long, successful career as a film journalist, Byrge decided to change to the novel format to tell his story.

“You can reveal truths within a novel that you can’t convey with the ‘facts’ of a news story,” Byrge explains. “It allows me to flesh out the full story of the events I have covered.”

THE RED CARPET AT CANNES will please mystery fans and film buffs alike. It’s a five-star travelogue straight into a celebrity universe of dazzling parties, high-end cuisine, superstar celebrities, high fashion, and movie-world politics.

CLICK HERE TO ORDER AT AMAZON

______________________






Ryan wrapped his arms around Delisha's shoulders. At the gold-handled door of their Carlton Hotel suite, he snapped in the entry card.  He pushed the door open, and Delisha turned, facing him. As the evening breeze snuggled in across the room, Ryan saw that the windows  had been left open.   The curtains fluttered, and he could see the brightly lit yachts.  A grand eruption  of pinks, blues,  silvers, and greens sparkled across the sky. The kaleidoscope of colors exploded as the fireworks shimmered down, and formed an aurora  of magical brilliance. Ryan envisioned Cary  Grant and Grace Kelly in  To Catch  a Thief at her door at the Carlton.  In  that incandescent flash of his mind's eye, that gloriously  romantic movie moment was no  longer an unattainable reflection for Ryan. Through the crazed magic of the Cannes  Film Festival, Ryan and Delisha had morphed into the forms of Cary Grant and Grace Kelly.  Ryan's all-time favorite movie moment from To Catch  a Thief  had entered into the frame of his  own life – he in his black tux, and she in her light blue gown.

























 









Duane Byrge has written for The Hollywood Reporter for more than 20 years. Starting out as a secretary for the entertainment industry newspaper while he was a graduate student at the University of Southern California, Byrge rose to serve in various capacities, including news editor and senior film critic. He serves as a consultant to the Chicago International Film Festival, where he brought Halle Berry to Chicago in 2001 for a career tribute.
A Wisconsin native, Byrge holds a Ph.D. in Communications, with an emphasis in Cinema, from the University of Southern California, where he has served as a lecturer. His Ph.D. dissertation was the basis for the book, “The Screwball Comedy Films,” which he co-authored. The book was re-released in hardcover in 1991 by McFarland Publishing and re-released in paperback in 2001 as part of the publication’s Classic Series.
Currently an assistant professor of Mass Communications at Virginia State University, Byrge teaches journalism, motion picture history and appreciation, and mass communications. He is working on a book on movie producers, “Before the Shooting Begins,” which will be published by the University of California, Berkeley Press.
 

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