Saturday 24 March 2012

Guest Blog: Barbara Scott Emmett - 'Don't Look Down'

Don't Look Down
by Barbara Scott Emmett

Amazon UK  £2

Amazon US  $2.99

Free from March 23-25 inclusive.

Read about Barbara's books at 


The wodge of blanket parched the moisture from her mouth, the prickly hairs caught in her throat. Lauren coughed and croaked and tried to force it out, pushing it with her tongue. She rolled around, trying to get her arms free, panic rising within her. She couldn’t breathe. She would choke.
The van doors slammed and the vehicle started up and sped across the motel car park. Lauren bounced around in the back as it jounced over the hard snow. She skidded to the right and banged her hip against a wheel-hub as the van presumably turned onto the road. As the speed increased, a wave of anger burned through her. How dare they! How bloody dare they! They must surely know by now she wasnt the person they wanted.
She struggled over onto her side and managed to unwind herself from the blanket a little. Another roll, and another, and she was more or less free of it. Jerking her arms outward, she threw it off and sat up. Her lip was bleeding again.
Hot from her exertions as well as her rage, she swivelled around to look to the front of the van, expecting to see through a gap or a window into the driver’s cab. What she saw instead made her overheated blood run cold as ice.
A man sat with his back up against the cab wall grinning at her. From his hand poked the greyish barrel of a Luger pistol, which she recognised from films. This was her very first encounter with a gun of any kind, never mind one pointed directly at her.
The man was new, not one of the previous goons – though his tanned skin suggested he was the same nationality as Brains and Muscle – whatever that was. Albanian perhaps, like the cleaner. His shining scalp was naturally bald, not shaven. His yellow eyes flat, dead. Lauren stared at him, transfixed. Had she seen him somewhere before? There was something familiar about him...
Without taking her eyes off him, she reached up and pulled pieces of blanket fibre out of the split in her lip. She spat out blood and lint, watching the gunman all the time, her breathing ragged. He watched her in return, a lazy grin hovering about his mouth. Lauren was overcome with hatred. Hatred of the gunman, hatred of all of them, whoever they were. Bitter seething hatred.
Ive already told the other two clowns Im not Katti, she said. ‘Cant you get it into your thick skulls? Youve got the wrong person.
But it is not Katti we want this time, said the man. ‘It is you, Lauren. You.
Shocked that he knew her name, Lauren fell silent. She shivered and briefly considered drawing the blanket around her again. She didn’t have her fleece on, and it was bloody cold. Checking her movement as foolish – she needed to be free of encumbrances in case an opportunity for escape materialised – she glanced around the van.
No, no, no, Lauren, said her captor. ‘No way out for you this time. This time, the professionals are on the job.
 Lauren was aware of a mad drummer doing paradiddles in her chest. ‘How did you find me? How did you know where I was?
Ways and means, Lauren.’ He lifted the Luger. ‘Ways and means.
Who are you? What do you want?
Lauren, Lauren, he said, shaking his head, like an indulgent father who is not prepared to put up with any more nonsense. ‘You are not in a position to ask questions, to demand answers.
I only want to know why you want me. Why me? What have I ever done to you?
The grin vanished from his face. ‘It is not what you have done, Lauren, he said. ‘It is what you know.
But I dont know anything! What do you imagine I know? I havent a clue why youre doing this. Or who the hell you are.
Nevertheless, you know too much about us. You have seen faces. Faces can be recognised. That is not allowed.
Not allowed? Lauren knew her voice trembled and did her best to prevent it. ‘But that’s not my fault. They should have covered their faces. So should you.’
You are absolutely right, of course. Nevertheless, you will have to pay for the foolishness of others.’
What are you going to do? Erase my memory?
The man smiled. ‘In a manner of speaking. The grin spread across his face; even the dead eyes flickered. ‘We are going to erase all of you. That will include your memory.
Lauren knelt on the ribbed rubber floor of the van, facing her executioner. She was very much afraid she was about to beg. Beg for her life.
Look, she said, as calmly as she could manage. ‘I have no idea who you are, who your organisation is, or what all this is about. She shrugged, reasonableness itself. ‘I dont even want to know. Its nothing to do with me. Im only here to visit my friends. Im British, for Gods sake!
The gun pointed directly at her. The man’s smile no longer reached his eyes. Lauren steadied herself as the van sped on.
I just want to go home. Please. I dont care who you are. I couldnt care less. She knew she was cowardly, but who said she had to be brave? Not her. She never claimed heroism. ‘Why dont you let me go? Drop me off somewhere. Anywhere will do. And Ill go home and youll never see or hear of me again.
His smile broadened. He shook his head. A look of genuine regret entered his yellow eyes. ‘If only that were possible, Lauren. If only I could do what you ask. A sigh escaped his lips.
But you can. You can. You dont want to shoot me. Think what a mess itll make of this nice clean van. And itll only be more evidence. These days, you know, DNA, forensics. Lauren heard the desperation in her voice. She knew she was failing. But she had to keep trying. She owed herself that.
Lauren, he said, as though to an obtuse child. ‘If it was my intention to shoot you here in this van, do you not think I would have done so by now?
He shook his head, disappointed in her it seemed: a father studying a bad school report, unable to reconcile it with the bright child he knew.
No, Lauren. Not here. Somewhere private, quiet. Somewhere lonely. I know just the place. And Lauren, he added, viewing her over the top of his gun. ‘Do not trouble yourself about the mess. It will be very very clean.

Friday 9 March 2012

Guest blog: Frances di Plino - 'Bad Moon Rising'

Bad Moon Rising is a dark psychological thriller.

Brought up believing sex with the living is the devil’s work, a killer only finds release once he has saved his victims’ souls. Abiding by his vision, he marks them as his. A gift to guide his chosen ones on the rightful path to redemption.

Detective Inspector Paolo Storey is out to stop him, but Paolo has problems of his own. Hunting down the killer as the death toll rises, the lines soon blur between Paolo’s personal and professional lives.

Excerpt from Bad Moon Rising

“Please, no. Oh God. No more. Please.”

Excited by her pleading, he pounded his fists into her face. He craved release, but couldn’t give in. Not yet. Not while she could defile him. Only when her swollen lids meant she could no longer see did he allow himself to take her throat between his hands and free her soul.

He waited for her death throes to pass, then relaxed his grip and moved down the bed to suck and caress her breasts. His heart pounded. Now. He had to move now before it was too late. Shifting position, he straddled her body. Arching his back, he emptied his hatred onto her breasts.

Shuddering, he slid from the bed and fell to the floor.

“I’m sorry,” he whispered. “So sorry, so sorry, so…”

His throat constricted. As tears flowed, he screamed. Thrashing wildly, he knocked against the chair holding the woman’s clothes. Her tights fell across his neck and he panicked, clawing himself free.

Fucking whore!

“God forgive me,” he sobbed. “She made me. Forgive me, God. Forgive me.”

Crawling to the corner cupboard, he opened the door and reached for the scourge. He braced himself, then flicked the nine-tailed lash, the tiny spiked ends digging into his flesh.

Each strike lifted him closer to purity, until he collapsed. Exhausted, he slept.

He woke at first light, ready for the next stage. Filling a bowl with water, he brought it to the bed, then scraped under each of the woman’s nails before washing most of her body in the warm water. He swabbed above and below her breasts, careful not to disturb his gift, the sign of her salvation. From under the bed he brought out a small black leather casket. He removed a fine-toothed comb and ran it through her pubic hair, placing the loose hairs in the envelope he’d already marked with a number four.

Detective Inspector Paolo Storey hunched deeper into his sheepskin. The cold suited his mood. A biting wind, typical for the dying days of February, gusted across the front of the criminal courts and played havoc with the press microphones. One of the reporters dropped his dictaphone. It bounced once before landing in the gutter. A spasm of disgust crossed his face as he reached down and brought it up, dripping with sludge. For the first time that day, Paolo felt like smiling. He didn’t like reporters, and that one in particular enjoyed knocking the police.

 He couldn’t understand why the press considered it was okay to have a go at the people trying to put criminals away. Lowlife cons had more rights than their victims. He tried to contain his anger but he was too mad at the world in general, and justice in particular.

Paolo and his Detective Sergeant, Dave Johnson, stepped back to allow the solicitor and Frank Azzopardi to pass. The reporters began yelling questions, each determined to be heard. Matthew Roberts stood beside his client, waiting for the noise to abate.

“Seems the bastard’s got away with it, sir,” Dave whispered.

Paolo turned his head slightly to answer; the icy wind was making his eyes water. “Yeah, that tends to happen when the only witness disappears, particularly when she’s also the victim. Ssh, let’s hear what Roberts has to say.”

 “My client, Frank Azzopardi, a well-respected businessman, has been the victim of yet another effort by the police to improve their conviction rates. He has been unfairly targeted, accused of attempted murder and grievous bodily harm, yet not one witness to the alleged attack has come forward. Even the supposed victim hasn’t felt it worth her while to follow up on her original statement. We have been told today that the Crown Prosecution Service cannot find sufficient evidence to bring the case to trial and that all charges against Mr Azzopardi have been dropped. We shall be making a complaint about the harassment he has suffered at the hands of an overzealous police force. Depending on the outcome of that complaint, we will consider our legal options. That is all, we have no further comment.”

Paolo knew they were most probably too far away for Roberts and the reporters to hear him, but he lowered his voice just in case.

“I could’ve written that speech for him,” he said. “He’s like Pavlov’s bloody dog. See a camera – badmouth the police.”

Bad Moon Rising is published by Crooked {Cat} Publishing.

Reviews: Jo Reed: and Judging Covers Book Reviews:

Frances di Plino is the pseudonym of columnist, editor, non-fiction author and writing tutor, Lorraine Mace. Writing as Frances di Plino gives her the opportunity to allow the dark side of her personality to surface and take control.

As Lorraine Mace, she is a gentler creature, being humour columnist for Writing Magazine and a deputy editor of Words with JAM. She writes fiction for the women’s magazine market, features and photo-features for monthly glossy magazines and is a writing competition judge for Writers’ Forum.

She is a fiction and non-fiction tutor for the Writers Bureau, and is the author of the Writers Bureau course, Marketing Your Book. She is also co-author, with Maureen Vincent-Northam, of The Writer’s ABC Checklist (Accent Press).

Thursday 8 March 2012

Guest blog: Nana Malone - 'Game, Set, Match' and 'Reluctant Protector'

Eleven years ago after reading Bridget Jones’s Diary, I lost my damn mind. Or so everyone told me. I decided I could do that - Put funny words to paper and have people pay me for it. When I told my family, they thought something must have been lost in translation. Oddly, “writer” sounded nothing like Engineer, Doctor or Lawyer. For a young girl from a strict Ghanaian family, writing as a profession wasn’t even an option. It was a hobby at best.

Armed with my laptop and a dream with not a lick of experience, plot, or character development in sight, I started with my first scene. Apparently that’s how these book things start...with a scene. Since then I’ve learned a little something. Or at least I hope have, for won't it be a shame if after the endless worshops on conflict, motivation and goal, plotting with mythic structure, plotting by motivation, character development, I still didn’t get it “write."

It may have taken me a little longer than I thought, but I finally got here. Who knew I wouldn’t write the book in month, sell it the next month and become a NYT bestseller overnight? Please refer to afore mentioned lost mind. Luckily I found some amazing writers over time that mentored me, critiqued for me, sent me mental Godiva to keep my muse going, and sent me mental hugs for every rejection. I must say, that was a lot of hugging.

Alright, so admittedly I was a little na├»ve. I was one of those people. You know the ones who think that writing romance is easy. I mean all I had to do was craft a lovable heroine, a sexy hero, a page-turning plot. How hard could that be? I didn’t know the hours I would give up because I couldn’t afford not to write, because my characters wouldn’t leave me alone until I told their stories.

And now that the big day is here, there’s elation and excitement, then there are the nerves and the fear. It’s like starting a new school praying somebody eats lunch with me. Then of course comes the realization that I wrote a romance…a hot romance…a hot romance that my mother in law and co-workers will read. *blush* `

Funny thing is, I’ve had more than one person ask me if I think I’ll write another one - Clearly, non writers. My answer, "Hell yes!" I’ve got the bug. It’s the hardest job I’ve ever had. It’s demanding. It’s broken my heart. But seeing Game, Set, Match on Amazon, and now Reluctant Protector as well, there’s no way I could not do this as again. It’s too addictive.

Author Bio:

My love of all things romance and adventure started with a tattered romantic suspense I borrowed from my cousin on a sultry summer afternoon in Ghana at a precocious thirteen.  I've been in love with kick butt heroines ever since.  With my overactive imagination, and channeling my inner Buffy, it was only a matter a time before I started creating my own characters.

Waiting for my chance at a job as a ninja assassin, I, meantime work out my drama, passion and sass with fictional characters every bit as sassy and kick butt as I thinks I am.  Though, until that ninja job comes through, you’ll find me acting out scenes for hubby and puppy while catching up on my favorite reality television shows in sunny San Diego.

Game, Set, Match and Reluctant Protector available on Amazon.