Excerpt From RUBICON RANCH: SECRETS

RRBookThreemidsizeThe body of a local realtor is found beneath the wheels of an inflatable figure of a Santa on a motorcycle. The realtor took great delight in ferreting out secrets, and everyone in this upscale housing development is hiding something. Could she have discovered a secret someone would kill to protect? There will be suspects galore, including a psychic, a con man, a woman trying to set up an online call-girl service, and the philandering sheriff himself. Not only is the victim someone he had an affair with, but he will also have to contend with an ex-wife who has moved back in with him and a jilted lover, both with their own reasons for wanting the realtor dead.

A new chapter will be posted every Monday on the Rubicon Ranch blog. If you don’t want to miss further chapters, please go to the blog and click on “sign me up” on the right sidebar to get notifications of new chapters.

We hope you will enjoy seeing the story develop as we write it. Let the mystery begin! Whodunit? No one knows, not even the writers, and we won’t know until the very end!

Excerpt from Chapter 2 by by J J Dare

Moody turned to see where everyone was staring and saw a police photographer taking pictures of a figure under a giant Santa decoration. How fitting for this place, Moody thought. A typical Rubicon Ranch gift—death.

In the light of the camera flash, she recognized Nancy Garcetti. The real estate agent looked as cold as she had in life. Moody stared at the clever handiwork of a realtor assassin. Out in the open and trampled by the crowds, what evidence was left to uncover the killer? Since the police department had been inept at running the Morris fans out of Rubicon Ranch, how in the world would they solve this crime?

Moody smiled as she thought of Sheriff Bryan interviewing the plastic Santa. Of course, with his wife in town, the sheriff was being kept on a tight leash. One of the deputies would probably end up taking the Christmas decorations downtown for a talk. The bulbs and wreaths would have to come in, too, as material witnesses.

Moody sighed. Sinclairs didn’t have feelings like normal people. Moody knew this and her smile faded. No matter what she did, no matter what she had to do, no matter what candy coating she put on, she would never fit in with the rest of the world.

She’d visited Jake regularly and, though she detested her brother, he was all that was left. Only he knew what it was like to be a Sinclair. There was no one else she could talk to. Well, the groupies, but they were worshippers, not compatriots.

“Morris did it,” she heard someone whisper behind her.

“Yeah, he did. Looks like something he’d do,” another voice answered.

“Dead don’t stop Morris,” the first voice said with a laugh.

“All he’d need is an arm and hand. Is that one of the pieces still missing?”

Seriously, these people were complete and utter morons. Sinclairs were special, but not that special.

However, wouldn’t it be something if this murder could be pinned on Morris? Although he’d been identified, Morris had been an anomaly during his lifetime. What if he really could come back? His books suggested it was possible.

***

Click here to read more:
Rubicon Ranch: Secrets ~ Chapter 2: Mary “Moody” Sinclair — by JJ Dare
Rubicon Ranch: Secrets ~ Chapter 1: Melanie Gray — by Pat Bertram

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Rubicon Ranch: Secrets — The Story Begins!

RRBookThreemidsizeRubicon Ranch is a collaborative and innovative crime series set in the fictional desert community of Rubicon Ranch and is being written online by the authors of Second Wind Publishing. The very first chapter of the very first book (Rubicon Ranch: Riley’s Story) was posted on October 24, 2010, and we are still going strong! In fact, we are getting better and better. Seven authors, including me, are involved in the current story — Rubicon Ranch: Secrets, which is shaping up to be a psychological thriller.

The body of a local realtor is found beneath the wheels of an inflatable figure of a Santa on a motorcycle. The realtor took great delight in ferreting out secrets, and everyone in this upscale housing development is hiding something. Could she have discovered a secret someone would kill to protect? There will be suspects galore, including a psychic, a con man, a woman trying to set up an online call-girl service, and the philandering sheriff himself. Not only is the victim someone he had an affair with, but he will also have to contend with an ex-wife who has moved back in with him and a jilted lover, both with their own reasons for wanting the realtor dead.

Although some of the characters were introduced in Rubicon Ranch: Riley’s Story, the first collaboration in the series, and further developed in Rubicon Ranch: Necropieces, Rubicon Ranch: Secrets is a stand-alone novel, so don’t worry if you are new to Rubicon Ranch. A new chapter will be posted every Monday on the Rubicon Ranch blog. I’m posting the first chapter here, but if you don’t want to miss further chapters, please go to the blog and click on “sign me up” on the right sidebar to get notifications of new chapters.

We hope you will enjoy seeing the story develop as we write it. Let the mystery begin! Whodunit? No one knows, not even the writers, and we won’t know until the very end!

(If the Christmas theme seems unseasonal, well . . . considering how long it takes to write a book at the rate of a chapter a week, in a few months, the season will catch up to us!)

Excerpt from Chapter 1: Melanie Gray
by Pat Bertram

Sunday, December 22; 7:05pm

Melanie Gray typed THE END, then sat back and studied the words on the computer screen. She’d found no satisfaction in telling the story of famed horror writer Morris Sinclair’s macabre life and death, and she felt no elation now that she’d finished the task. The evil man should have been buried in unhallowed ground and left to rot rather than be immortalized in a book, but she’d needed the money her publisher had offered. With the generous advance, she would be able to devote herself to finding out who killed her husband five months previously and, more importantly, why the murderer wanted Alexander dead. Morris had wooed death his whole life, so it was no surprise that death had come for him, but Alexander’s murder could not be so easily dismissed.

Tears stung Melanie’s eyes. She scrubbed the tears away, furious at herself for still grieving. She’d always considered herself a strong woman, up to any task, and yet she couldn’t write “the end” to her grief.

Damn you, Alexander! How could you do this to me?

She rose stiffly, stretched to get the worst of the kinks from her body, and tottered to the front closet for her coat. Except for a few hours of fitful sleep each night during the past nine weeks, she’d spent all her time at the computer, and she was sick of it. Sick of Morris Sinclair. Sick of death. Sick of Rubicon Ranch.

She opened the front door and blinked at the shadowy figures gliding through the darkness. Morris’s fans had descended on the neighborhood when news of his demise had hit the airwaves, and they had stayed when they learned that not all of Morris’s body pieces had been recovered. Dressed as vampires and zombies and ghouls of every imaginable—and unimaginable—ilk, they roamed the neighborhood and the nearby desert looking for necropieces in some sort of grisly treasure hunt.

Melanie hesitated, wondering at the wisdom of going out so late in the evening, but the twinkle of Christmas lights adorning a nearby desert willow made her set aside her caution.

Alexander had always loved Christmas, and no matter where in the world they happened to be living, he managed to find a tree and decorate it. If Alexander still lived in her memory, he’d want her to wander through the neighborhood so he could see the lights.

Smiling at the whimsical thought, she locked the door behind her and strolled down the driveway to Delano Road. Even with half the houses lit up with holiday decorations, the neighborhood seemed dark. Too many people had left the area, temporarily abandoning their homes, though the flickering of candlelight through closed curtains hinted that squatters had taken up residence in some of the empty houses.

Melanie stood at the curb, trying to decide whether to go right or left. “It’s your fault, Alexander,” she murmured. “Until you died, I never had a problem making decisions.” But now, it didn’t make any difference whether she went north or south, whether she left Rubicon Ranch or stayed. Without Alexander, everything seemed uniformly bleak.

A house across the street all at once came ablaze with thousands of small white lights. Melanie cut across the road and headed for the brightness, wishing Alexander could see the decorations for real. Lights outlined the driveway, every bush, every rock, and dripped from the eaves like dazzling falls of lace.

She walked leisurely, savoring the radiant display on Alexander’s behalf, then hurried past the next dwelling, which was dark, and slowed again at the following house to look at the whimsical blow-up figure of Santa on a motorcycle.

After the brilliance of the lights at the first domicile, she had to wait a moment to let her eyes adjust to the relative dimness of this scene. And then she wished she hadn’t hung around to get a better look. Santa, with a wide grin and an upraised hand, seemed to be gleefully running over the prone body of a woman. A mannequin, it looked like.

Melanie drew in a sharp breath. Who would create such a morbid tableau for Christmas? But then, seeing a vampire with glowing teeth run past her, she sighed. Anyone in this insane neighborhood could have done it. After Morris Sinclair’s demise, Rubicon Ranch had become a bacchanalia of death, a celebration of the worst in humanity.

A car moved along the street behind her. The headlights illuminated the scene as clearly as if it were day, and suddenly something seemed wrong. So very wrong.

The woman being run over by the cheery Santa looked stiff in the way of death, not stiff like a mannequin.

Melanie told herself to continue on, to forget the gruesome sight and enjoy the rest of the decorations, but her leaden feet refused to do her bidding. Finally, wishing she were anywhere but here, she crept closer to the scene.

She caught a faint whiff of death—like meat just beginning to go bad—and her heart beat faster.

Click here to continue reading →

***

Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” All Bertram’s books are published by Second Wind Publishing. Connect with Pat on Google+

Celebrating Read-An-Ebook Week

Second Wind Publishing is joining with smashwords.com to celebrate Read-An-Ebook Week. All Second Wind titles are on sale for half-price at Smashwords from March 6 through March 12. That means each book is only $2.50! There is no limit to the number of ebooks you can purchase at this price.

You can find the Second Wind ebook catalog here: Second Wind at Smashwords. Select the titles you want and use coupon code RAE50 to get the discount when you check.

The sale expires 11:59pm on March 12, so hurry, you don’t want to miss out, especially since my books are included in the sale! (Just click on the title to go to the book’s Smashword page.)

Daughter Am I: When twenty-five-year-old Mary Stuart learns she inherited a farm from her recently murdered grandparents-grandparents her father claimed had died before she was born-she becomes obsessed with finding out who they were and why someone wanted them dead. Along the way she accumulates a crew of feisty octogenarians-former gangsters and friends of her grandfather. She meets and falls in love Tim Olson, whose grandfather shared a deadly secret with her great-grandfather. Now Mary and Tim need to stay one step ahead of the killer who is desperate to dig up that secret.

More Deaths Than One: Bob Stark returns to Denver after 18 years in Southeast Asia to discover that the mother he buried before he left is dead again. He attends her new funeral and sees . . . himself. Is his other self a hoaxer, or is something more sinister going on? And why are two men who appear to be government agents hunting for him? With the help of Kerry Casillas, a baffling young woman Bob meets in a coffee shop, he uncovers the unimaginable truth.

A Spark of Heavenly Fire: In quarantined Colorado, where hundreds of thousands of people are dying from an unstoppable disease called the red death, insomniac Kate Cummings struggles to find the courage to live and to love. Investigative reporter Greg Pullman, is determined to discover who unleashed the deadly organism and why they did it, until the cost — Kate’s life — becomes more than he can pay.

Crime Writing Contest

Circalit has just announced a competition to find the next big crime fiction blockbuster, with winning entries being submitted to the leading literary agency, A.P. Watt. They are hosting the competition online where the public can read all submissions and vote for their favourite novels. The top submissions will be read and considered for representation by A.P. Watt. The competition is free, but you do need to create an account at Circalit and post your work online.

Raoul Tawadey, founder of Circalit, commented, “There is a wealth of literary talent across the globe, only a fraction of which gets the recognition it deserves. Crowd-sourcing is a great way for the publishing industry, which thrives on new talent, to find novels with a proven readership. We hope this competition will give talented new writers an opportunity to get their work noticed, and demonstrate the power of the internet to create a global talent pool.”

To enter your manuscript, please visit http://circalit.com.

Since this is a new site, I don’t know much about them, but it might be worth checking out. Best of luck!

Buy Your Child A Book Project – A Program of the Piercy Charitable Foundation

My guest today is the Piercy Charitable Foundation, explaining the Buy Your Child a Book Project:

Buy Your Child a Book Project encourages authors, educators and publishers to develop literature and programs that increase the number of heroes of color in children’s books.  Focusing on such topics as creating diversity in children’s literature, the shortage of age-appropriate books for children of color, the translation of brain research to the classroom and other educational innovations, the foundation seeks to encourage the creation of heroes of color in literature as well as for other social platforms, including the entertainment industry, schools, communities and businesses.

We believe that literacy and reading programs can solve many of society’s problems. With teen dropout rates in some parts of our country reaching almost 60%, our programs present students with age appropriate reading materials to encourage reading and to build resources that focus on inspirational role models for minority students, especially for children between 6–14 years of age.  

Encouraging Literary Heroes of Color

Our annual Buy your Child a Book Conference took place at the Barnes & Noble Booksellers store in Santa Monica November 6, 2010. Featuring some of the most respected contributors in their fields, the program offered new information on current heroes of color literature for the classroom, presentations by established authors, the corporate support of Barnes & Noble Booksellers, and innovative approaches to storytelling by one of Hollywood’s most notable producers. Other upcoming conferences will be held in Atlanta and Washington D.C. This year’s conference was in conjunction with Barnes & Noble Booksellers, McKesson Enterprises, the Los Angeles Academy of Media and Technology, the Los Angeles Urban League, the Milken Family Literacy & Youth Training Center, SP Turner Group, and the Publishers Association of Los Angeles.

The conference keynote speaker was Charles F. Johnson, a veteran television and film producer with more than 30 years in Hollywood. He began his career with The Rockford Files, progressing into many successful TV series franchises including: Magnum,PI, Quantum Leap, JAG and NCIS. NCIS achieved status as the number one series on television in 2010 and continues to expand its reach in syndication while still being in current broadcast. It has also garnered a successful spin-off NCIS: Los Angeles, which Charles was important in developing as the most successful spinoff at CBS. Soon to be released is Charles’ latest feature endeavor, Red Tails, the story of the Tuskegee airmen, the first African-American pilots to fly in a combat squadron during World War II. Charles has joined with George Lucas in this project. They are co-producing and the film which will be in theatres this fall. Charles has taken an interest in the charter school community and has a deep concern for children’s education especially at-risk children in the inner city.

If you or your organization would like to organize a Buy Your Child a Book conference in your community, please contact us at:  

Piercy Charitable Foundation
8306 Wilshire Blvd. #1213
Beverly Hills, CA 90211
(866) 604-3852 • www.bycabfoundation.org

Let’s Celebrate Blog Jog Day!

Welcome to Blog Jog, a one-day trot around the highways and byways of the blogosphere. Feel free to look around before you move on to the next blog in the jog. If you don’t know where to start exploring Dragon My Feet (which started out as a place to post things I did to procrastinate and evolved into a book blog), you can scroll down to see the latest posts, or you can check out one of my favorites: More Deaths Than One by Pat Bertram. If you are a writer and would like me to post information about your book, leave a comment, and I’ll get back to you.

Everyone who leaves a comment on this post will be entered in Second Wind’s best contest ever — a chance to win a copy of every title Second Wind will publish in 2011, including my own upcoming release, Light Bringer

Light Bringer tells the story of  Becka Johnson, who had been abandoned on the doorstep of a remote cabin in Chalcedony, Colorado when she was a baby. Now, thirty-seven years later, she has returned to Chalcedony to discover her identity, but she only finds more questions. Who has been looking for her all those years? Why are those same people interested in fellow newcomer Philip Hansen? Who is Philip, and why does her body sing in harmony with his? And what do either of them have to do with a shadow corporation that once operated a secret underground installation in the area?

So, be sure to leave a comment, then jog on over to visit Virtual Book Touring and Carol Denbow, author of How to Organize a Virtual Book Tour.

You can find the entire list of participants for Blog Jog Day at: Blog Jog Day.

Note: If you don’t wish to receive notices of future Second Wind book releases and contests, please mention that in your comment. You will still be eligible for this contest.

Free Ebooks!

cover-mdtosFree ebooks! Just stop by the Labor Day GiveAway at the Second Wind blog before September 12, 2009, mention the name of a Second Wind book that you’d like to read, and you might win an ecopy. http://secondwindpub.wordpress.com/2009/09/06/labor-day-giveaway/
 
Now is your chance to read More Deaths Than One or A Spark of Heavenly Fire!
 
More Deaths Than One: Bob Stark returns to Denver after 18 years in Southeast Asia to discover that the mother he buried before he left is dead again. He attends her new funeral and sees . . . himself. Is his other self a hoaxer, or is something more sinister going on? And why are two men who appear to be government agents hunting for him? With the help of Kerry Casillas, a bafsparks-coverfling young woman Bob meets in a coffee shop, he uncovers the unimaginable truth.

A Spark of Heavenly Fire: In quarantined Colorado, where hundreds of thousands of people are dying from an unstoppable disease called the red death, insomniac Kate Cummings struggles to find the courage to live and to love. Her new love, investigative reporter Greg Pullman, is determined to discover who unleashed the deadly organism and why they did it, until the cost — Kate’s life — becomes more than he can pay.