Excerpt From “Murder, She Floats: A Damon Lassard Dabbling Detective Mystery” by Stephen Kaminski

uA suicide note found in a locked room. A shard of glass buried in a scoop of whipped potatoes. A pickle jar filled with poisonous spiders. Precious jewels yanked off of a woman’s neck but left at her feet. It’s just a week in the life of Damon Lassard when he boards The Vitamin of the Seas with his charismatic mother for a ‘relaxing’ Caribbean cruise.

After Damon’s acerbic dining companion is found floating alongside the ship and local police rule the death a suicide, the loveable amateur sleuth is left to find the killer himself. He encounters seductive sirens, cunning con artists, and fascinating family members en route to solving not only the murder but a handful of clever capers as well.

Murder, She Floats is the third book in the Damon Lassard Dabbling Detective Mystery series by Stephen Kaminski. It Takes Two to Strangle was the Winner of the 2012 Reader Views Award for the Mid-Atlantic Region and Don’t Cry Over Killed Milk was the winner of the same award for 2013 as well as a finalist in the 2013 Chanticleer Media Clue Awards.

EXCERPT:

Jack launched a half-inch sliver of glass from his mouth. The bloodied shard landed in a ceramic gravy boat.

“Oh my gosh,” Fava shouted. “Jack, are you all right?”

Jack coughed, and blood spilled from his mouth onto his plate. It slithered among the beef Wellington, mashed potatoes, and asparagus like lava finding recesses in rocky terrain. Jack swept a cloth napkin from his lap and crammed it into his mouth.

Houston rose to his feet and yelled for help. Niels sprinted across the dining room, followed by Kristjan and the mustachioed headwaiter, Charles.

Jack gathered a small clump of unswallowed food from his mouth into his napkin, wadded it up, and set it on the table. He snatched Fava’s napkin from her outstretched hand and pressed it firmly against the inside of his right cheek.

“That little spear was smack in the middle of my mashed potatoes,” Jack said through a mouthful of napkin. He pointed at the glistening spike floating in rich, brown gravy.

Charles and the waiters rushed to a stop beside Jack. Their eyes followed his finger and focused on the shard of glass in the gravy boat.

“My most sincere apologies, sir,” Charles gushed. “Let me clean this up and get you a fresh entrée.” He reached for Jack’s plate.

Jack caught Charles’s arm in midair. “Not so fast.”

The headwaiter’s face registered shock. “You’d prefer me to leave the plate, sir?” he asked. “I assure you it’s no trouble at all. Besides, there’s blood all over your food.”

Jack’s wrinkled eyes narrowed. He removed the red-splotched napkin from his mouth and tossed it on the table.

Without removing his grip from Charles’s arm, he turned to Fava. “Do you have your camera in your purse, dear?”

Fava looked just as confused as Charles. But she answered, “Of course. You know I carry it everywhere.”

Jack smiled. “Be a good girl and take photographs of everything here. That shard of glass in the gravy boat, my plate, both of our napkins, and the inside of my mouth.” He looked at Kristjan. “Go find one of the ship’s doctors. I need him to document the lacerations inside my cheek.” Jack focused on his tablemates. “If you all don’t mind, could I trouble each of you for a written statement, detailing exactly what you witnessed here?” He picked up his fork and delicately pushed around the bloodied food on his plate. The sight was repulsive, and Kitty turned away. But every other set of eyes around the table watched in horrified amazement as Jack pulled a second fragment of glass from the depths of his whipped potatoes.

Jack turned his head toward Niels and Charles. To Niels, he said, “I suggest you collect the other waiters and remove the plates from anyone else who ordered potatoes.” Then he directed his attention to Charles, finally releasing the man’s arm. “And you tell the captain to put in a call to corporate headquarters. They’ll want to get their lawyers up to speed. Had I swallowed that sliver of glass, it would have torn up my insides. I could have internally bled to death.”

http://www.amazon.com/Murder-She-Floats-Dabbling-Detective/dp/1939816491/ref=la_B009FK7BLW_1_3_title_1_pap?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1411404642&sr=1-3

***

27c14beabefb32f5b8db0e6935552676STEPHEN KAMINSKI is the author of the Damon Lassard Dabbling Detective series published by Cozy Cat Press. He is a graduate of Johns Hopkins University and Harvard Law School, and currently serves as an executive of a national health services organization.

Please visit his website: http://www.DamonLassard.com

 

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Call For Submissions

rangelSecond Wind Publishing is accepting short stories, essays and poetry for its upcoming anthology, Wind Through an Open Door.

All submissions should deal with the question: what happens to us when we pass from this life? Remembrances of lost loved ones, personal experiences, profound recognitions of the afterlife (or its absence)—regardless of religious persuasion—are all welcome.

There is no cost to submit an entry. There is a maximum of 7000 words for essays or short stories. All entries must be submitted no later than June 10, 2014. Those whose work is included in the anthology will receive two contributor copies. Additional copies will be available for purchase, with contributors receiving a 60% discount. Submissions and questions should be sent to mike@secondwindpublishing.com.

Best of luck to everyone!

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

Excerpt From “500 Miles to Go” by J. Conrad Guest

500 Miles to GoGail had been Alex Krol’s girl since high school. She fell for him before she learned that he risked his life on dirt tracks during the summer months to the delight of the fans who paid to see cars crash—the more spectacular the wreck, the taller they stood on their toes and craned their necks to see the carnage. When Alex makes his dream to drive in the Indy 500 come true and he witnesses the death of two drivers in his first start, he must ask himself if his quest to win the world’s greatest race is worth not only the physical risk, but also losing the woman he loves.

EXCERPT:

“I’ve never danced with a boy before,” Gail whispered in my ear as the band played “Goodnite Sweetheart Goodnite,” a Spaniels song that was popular. I couldn’t believe how wonderful Gail felt in my embrace.

“That’s okay,” I said, “I haven’t either.”

Gail laughed, the sound tuneful.

“You’re funny,” she said.

“Well, looks aren’t everything.”

“No, they’re not.”

“Although I have to say, you’re the prettiest girl I’ve ever seen.”

“Thank you.”

When the song came to an end, we made our way to the punch bowl.

“You know,” Gail said after taking a sip, “you’re my first date.”

“Ever?”

“Ever.”

“Not to call you a liar, but I find that hard to believe.”

“Oh, I’ve been asked once or twice.”

“Only once or twice?”

“Okay, several times. But I’m very choosy.”

“Huh,”I said, with a grin. “And here I thought I’d done the choosing.”

“I could’ve chosen to turn you down, you know.”

“True enough. So how come you said ‘yes’?”

Gail blushed and looked down.

“Oh, my… Be still, my beating heart,” I said. “Do you do that of­ten?”

“What?”she asked, looking up at me again.

“Blush.”

She rolled her eyes and said, “Unfortunately, yes.”

“Well, I think it suits you. I hope it’s something you’ll do only for me.”

Gail smiled and blushed a deeper shade. I came to her rescue – that’s who I was in my youth, a rescuer.

“So why did you say ‘yes’?”

“Promise me you won’t laugh?”

“Scout’s honor,” I said, holding up my right hand, palm out.

“I liked the way you looked at me yesterday when you asked.”

“How was I supposed to look at you?”

“I’m not expressing myself well.”

“That’s okay; I have that effect on people.”

Gail laughed. “I imagine you do.” And then, “It was obvious when you looked at me that y’all liked what you saw. But you were respect­ful.”

“Why wouldn’t I be respectful?”

“You didn’t leer at me.”

“Oh. My turn to apologize. Sometimes I’m slow on the uptake.”

“Telling me I looked like Gail Russell didn’t hurt your cause.”

“I’m very honest,” I said.

“And…”

“Uh-oh…, there’s an ‘and’?”

“I’ve seen you around school, and you seem one of the better boys.”

“I don’t believe you.”

“What, that you’re one of the better boys?”

“No, that you’ve seen me around school. That would mean I’ve missed seeing you, and I can’t believe that.”

“Do you always flirt so outrageously?”

“Only with you.”

“Good answer.”

Just then, the band segued into “Honey Hush,” a Joe Turner song that had been popular in 1953.

“Come on,” I said, taking Gail’s hand. “Let’s dance.”

The evening came to an end all too soon. We danced and talked and got to know each other, and we liked what we learned.

We held hands as we made our way across the parking lot to where her dad sat behind the wheel of his idling car, a 1950 Ford Zephyr Six.

We stopped about ten feet from the Zephyr Six to look at each other; I held both Gail’s hands in mine.

“What I wouldn’t give to kiss you,” I said.

“Why, Alex Król, what kind of girl do you take me for?” Gail said with a smile.

“The kind I’d like to kiss.”

Gail grew serious. “I know,” she said, glancing at her father, who was seated in the car with his hands firmly gripping the steering wheel. Perhaps he knew this day had been coming, when his little girl would grow up to meet the young man who might take his place.

Gail rose up on her toes to kiss me on the cheek.

“Another time, I promise,” she whispered. Then she gave me a quick hug, her breasts feeling firm against me, and made her way toward her father’s car.

***

J. Conrad Guest, author of: Backstop: A Baseball Love Story In Nine Innings, January’s Paradigm, One Hot January, January’s ThawA Retrospect In Death, and 500 Miles To Go has repeatedly demonstrated his ability to write stories of action, love, mystery and morality; tales that cross genres, seizing the imagination of the reader. Though his novels are varied and original, the reader will find that each is full of life’s lessons—full of pain and humor, full of insight and triumph.

Excerpt From “The Wilde Passions of Dorian Gray” by Mitzi Szereto

WildePassionsofDorianGray-Copy-Copy1What if Dorian Gray Faked His Death and Led a Secret Life?

Inspired by Oscar Wilde’s classic novel The Picture of Dorian Gray, Mitzi Szereto’s The Wilde Passions of Dorian Gray continues where Wilde left off with the Faustian tale of a man of eternal youth and great physical beauty who lives a life of corruption, decadence, and hedonism. The story begins in the bordellos of Jazz-Age Paris, moving to the opium dens of Marrakesh and the alluring anonymity of South America. In his pursuit of sensation and carnal thrills, Dorian’s desires turn increasingly extreme as he leaves behind yet more devastation and death. He ultimately settles in present-day New Orleans, joining forces with a group of like-minded beings known as the Night People. They inadvertently return to Dorian his humanity when he falls in love with a young woman he rescues from becoming their victim. Will she be his redemption? Or will she be his final curse?

EXCERPT:

Dorian Gray awakens as if from the grave. A great weight presses down on him from above, but when he looks up to determine the cause, realizes it’s his head, which feels so heavy upon the stem of his neck that he expects it to tumble off and land on the crumpled bedding beneath him. Even the air itself is heavy, as if he were trying to breathe through cotton wool.

He blinks several times to clear his vision, the effort of moving his lids far too strenuous an endeavor to undertake without discomfort; the upper lids feel as if cast-iron window weights have been attached to them. The bluish haze that blurs the objects in the lavishly appointed bedroom make him wonder if he has somehow developed shortsightedness as his puffy and burning eyes struggle to focus and make sense of his surroundings. He hears the sound of breaths being drawn in and then released in a steady rhythm that might have been soothing if not for his disorientation. Are they his or someone else’s?

Red velvet draperies cover the tall windows and they move sluggishly in the breeze as if they too, are affected by this overwhelming sense of heaviness that afflicts him. They remind Dorian of curtains in a theater and he expects them to swing open, revealing players on a stage. Instead they reveal irregular chinks of yellow light, which insinuate themselves inside the room, informing him that it’s morning.

The clarity of his vision slowly returns, bringing with it more detail. Embroidered silk cushions lie scattered across the wooden floorboards, as do overturned glasses and random bits of gray ash. The bed upon which he finds himself appears to be a tangled heap of arms and legs, the more slender among them of female origin. They crisscross each other in a haphazard pattern. Arms as white as the first winter snow. Arms as black as polished ebony. Some look as if they belong to the same body, though Dorian knows this to be physically impossible. Lying amid the jumble he detects the gentle curve of a woman’s breast and, unless he’s mistaken, the graceless wedge of a man’s foot.

That Dorian is inside a bedchamber becomes obvious to him. It might be his, though he can’t be certain. He seems to recollect a small man with a pencil-thin moustache and a worn yellow tape around his neck measuring the window frames with extravagant meticulousness, then afterward producing several swatches of fabric, one of which was red velvet. The memory’s returning to him in more clarity now. Monsieur Larouche, the curtain maker. His men finished hanging the red velvet draperies a few weeks ago.

As for the hours that have just gone past, they continue to remain a confused jumble of images in Dorian’s mind, though the fragrant after-scents of smoked opium and female pleasure tease at the edges of his memory like a tickling finger, gradually bringing him back to consciousness. Painted scarlet lips pulling on the tip of an opium pipe, then later, pulling on the tip of his manhood. Secretive openings being filled by inquisitive fingers as well as other objects not generally suited for the purpose. Yes, the mislaid hours of the night are finally being located!

At some point Dorian lost count of the number of times he spent himself, though he suspects it transpired at least once with each person present in the room and likewise with those who already departed to seek out the familiarity of their own beds. He squeezes his eyes shut and reopens them, the burning less troublesome now. Despite the tiny veins of red marring the sclera, their blue is as pure as the sky on a perfect spring day. Yet the tableau laid out before him is anything but pure.

***

Mitzi Szereto (http://mitziszereto.com) is a bestselling multi-genre author and anthology editor, has her own blog “Errant Ramblings: Mitzi Szereto’s Weblog” (http://mitziszereto.com/blog), and is the creator/presenter of the Web channel “Mitzi TV” (http://mitziszereto.com/tv), which covers “quirky” London. Her books include Thrones of Desire: Erotic Tales of Swords, Mist and Fire; Pride and Prejudice: Hidden Lusts; Normal for Norfolk (The Thelonious T. Bear Chronicles); Red Velvet and Absinthe: Paranormal Erotic Romance; Getting Even: Revenge Stories; and In Sleeping Beauty’s Bed: Erotic Fairy Tales. Her anthology Erotic Travel Tales 2 is the first anthology of erotica to feature a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. She divides her time between the UK and USA.

Book website: http://mitziszereto.com/wildepassionsofdoriangray/
Author website: http://mitziszereto.com
Amazon Author page: http://www.amazon.com/Mitzi-Szereto/e/B001JS3YLE/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1
Facebook Author page: https://www.facebook.com/mitziszereto.fanpage

 

Excerpt from “Don’t Cry Over Killed Milk: A Damon Lassard Dabbling Detective Mystery” by Stephen Kaminski

2337babcdf58e3d302d7df70fc3fee6a_kp32Jeremiah Milk lived a life filled with emotional extremes. Amniotic band syndrome—a congenital condition—left his fingers and toes malformed. Ridiculed as a child, he became an adolescent hermit. As an adult, Jeremiah’s wounds healed when he landed a position as a park ranger and married a woman who loved him despite his physical appearance. But fate ripped his life to shreds when his wife and infant son died on the same night in separate calamities. Shortly thereafter, the tides turned once more as an act of Jeremiah’s ostensible benevolence translates into a financial boon. The book on Jeremiah’s life closes without mercy when he’s found murdered at Tripping Falls State Park.

Damon Lassard—Hollydale’s loveable civic leader, amateur sleuth, and Jeremiah’s neighbor—springs into action. He’s obstructed by a prickly lieutenant, but wriggles information unknown to the police from a colorful bevy of suspects. Aided by his best friend Rebecca and his reluctant ally Detective Gerry Sloman, Damon engineers a deep dive into Jeremiah’s past to solve the crime. Along the way, Damon strengthens his relationship with the breathtaking Bethany Krims, cracks a local horticultural mystery, and tries in vain to tame his wickedly sarcastic mother.

“Don’t Cry Over Killed Milk” is the second installment in Stephen Kaminski’s Damon Lassard Dabbling Detective series.

EXCERPT:

Just after the furniture had been rearranged, Mrs. Chenworth arrived with Cynthia. A chorus of “Surprise!” filled the space.

Mrs. Chenworth put her hand to her heart and breathed in deeply. “Oh my! What a surprise, indeed!” She bustled forward like a corpulent Moses parting seas of people. “I had no idea anyone would throw me a party. But just in case, I made a dish for the occasion!”

Mrs. Chenworth pulled foil from the top of a pie tin and set the offering on the table among a crowd of plates laden with food. She turned to Lynne, who was standing beside her. “Apple pie and meatloaf are my two best dishes.”

Lynne looked down at a flaky, lopsided pie crust. “Which is this?” she asked with a wicked grin.

Mrs. Chenworth’s mouth shot open wide, but then she smiled and slugged Lynne’s delicate left shoulder. “Oh, you kidder,” the birthday girl said and turned to a cluster of chattering woman making their way toward her.

Lynne rubbed her shoulder. “That hurt,” she said to Damon.

“You deserved it, Mother.”

***

27c14beabefb32f5b8db0e6935552676STEPHEN KAMINSKI is the author of It Takes Two to Strangle, the first book in the Damon Lassard Dabbling Detective series. He is a graduate of Johns Hopkins University and Harvard Law School. Stephen has practiced law for over a decade and currently serves as General Counsel to a national non-profit organization. He is a lifelong lover of all types of mysteries and lives with his wife and daughter in Arlington, Virginia.

Don’t Cry Over Killed Milk is available in paperback or electronic format:
http://www.amazon.com/Dont-Over-Killed-Milk-ebook/dp/B00EV45NAS/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1378301709&sr=8-3&keywords=stephen+Kaminski

Website: http://www.damonlassard.com

 

New Opportunity for Literary Projects

Award-winning author, Deborah J Ledford has come up with an innovative way to finance her next project. IOF Productions Ltd. established the NatAmGoGo crowd funding campaign on Indiegogo to produce and distribute the audiobook version of her latest thriller novel, Crescendo from Second Wind Publishing.

The NatAmGoGo campaign will also benefit The Blue Feather Corporation, a Native American language and culture nonprofit organization.

The professional audiobook presentation will be narrated by TV and film actress Christina Cox, who has appeared in a variety of films and television episodes including NCIS, Dexter, 24, Castle, Chronicles of Riddick, Better Than Chocolate and Nikki & Nora. IOF Productions Ltd will record Crescendo in November at Costa Mesa Studios in Southern California for download and to purchase as CDs for a December 2013 release.

CrescendoWe are thrilled to have Christina Cox set to perform Crescendo. Her exquisite voice and acting prowess will truly bring my words to life,” Ledford says. “The audiobook will be recorded by an experienced staff, with the quality that will equal narrated books presented by top publishing houses.”

Contributor packages for the Indiegogo/ NatAmGoGo project include a PDF version of Staccato, the first book in the Steven Hawk/Inola Walela mystery series; autographed poster of the Crescendo audiobook cover signed by Christina Cox and Ledford; print versions of book series, including Staccato, Snare and Crescendo, signed and personalized by the author; a leather bound package containing all discs of the Crescendo audiobook with booklet signed by Cox and Ledford; a full content edit by Ledford of a manuscript up to 90,000 words, and hand-crafted jewelry created by a renowned Navajo, Hopi and Taos Pueblo artists.

Ledford spent her summers growing up in the Great Smoky Mountains of western North Carolina, where her novels are set. She met Floyd “Mountain Walking Cane” Gomez in 2006 while doing research for her award-winning novel, Snare. Several years later, Floyd expressed the need to protect languages and culture on reservations throughout the United States, which is why he is establishing the Blue Feather Corporation.

“The storytelling campaign is an effort to prevent the disappearance of Native American languages and culture,” says Arizona author Ledford, who is part Eastern Band Cherokee.

“Native tribal languages and ancient ways are dying on our nation’s reservations,” Ledford explains. “We want to ensure that ancient societies survive.”

The Native American nonprofit foundation will receive 50% of the royalties from downloads and sales of the Crescendo audiobook. “But once the funding goal is reached, any excess will benefit the foundation 100 percent,” Ledford adds. “We can’t let another language or culture disappear,” Ledford concludes. “‘Wado,’ which means ‘thank you’ in Cherokee.”

***

Click here to contribute: NatAmGoGo