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.”

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Click here to contribute: NatAmGoGo

RUBICON RANCH: RILEY’S STORY — Chapter 8: Eloy Franklin — by Deborah J Ledford

Eloy Franklin limped into his two-story house. He closed the door behind him then dropped his cane into a brass umbrella stand. He winced as he straightened his back and squared his shoulders to regain his rigid military posture. Wringing his hands, cramped from holding their gnarled position for so long, he thought about the sheriff’s accusatory words.

He wondered if he held the clue the officer sought. He had witnessed little girl Riley earlier the day in question. She rode her bike right past him. Didn’t bother to lift her hand in return to his greeting. She hadn’t even looked his way. Typical. Young or old, no one ever did. That was fine with Eloy. He preferred it that way—invisible in plain sight.

The West Point graduate of class 1950 hated slipping into the hick monosyllables the man in charge of the investigation expected. If hotshot Sheriff Bryan had been one of his soldiers he’d have given him a stern dressing down, based solely on the look of disgust the cop had settled on “full bird” Colonel Eloy Templeton Franklin. But the retired regimental commander needed to keep up the guise. Had to appear stupid, feeble, clueless.

Click here to read the rest of the chapter: http://rubiconranch.wordpress.com/2010/12/12/chapter-8-eloy-franklin-by-deborah-j-ledford/

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Rubicon Ranch is a collaborative and innovative crime series set in the fictional desert community of Rubicon Ranch and is being written online by authors of Second Wind Publishing.

RUBICON RANCH: RILEY’S STORY — Chapter 8: Eloy Franklin — by Deborah J Ledford

Excerpt From “Crescendo” by Deborah J Ledford

cres_137x212One murdered woman.
A missing child.
The diabolic father who will do anything to get his son back.
The female cop who risks everything to keep the boy safe.

CRESCENDO– Redemption with a bullet

As the only female Native American officer on the Bryson City, North Carolina police force, Inola Walela, must always play her A game. All bets are off when during a routine traffic stop the passenger insists her son has been kidnapped but is struck by a car before Inola can glean any hard facts. An altercation ensues and Inola’s partner is felled by a bullet—possibly from her gun. On administrative leave, fraught with guilt for allegedly killing her partner, and obsessed with the possibility of a missing child out there somewhere, she defies the force and her fiancé, Sheriff Steven Hawk. Inola sets off on her own journey to find the missing boy.

EXCERPT:

Breath catching in her throat, Inola rose to her knees. She winced as more tires screeched. Metal scraping metal added to the cacophony of noise and confusion. “Jesus,” she muttered, taking in the scene: the woman face down on the highway, arms and legs splayed, blonde hair covering her face.

“Inola!” Cody screamed.

She whirled to see her partner struggling with the driver. One handcuff was secured to the offender’s wrist, but the other swayed loose. The two men battled for Cody’s weapon.

A single gunshot split the air.

Inola jumped to her feet, drew her pistol, took a Weaver’s stance and fired. The driver’s mouth opened and closed as he uttered a deep guttural moan.

Inola ran, feeling as though she glided above the roadway. She kept her Glock trained on the driver. He shuddered. Gasped. His body went limp and dropped to a sitting position against the cruiser’s bumper. She kicked Cody’s gun from the driver’s hand and holstered her weapon.

Hand to his neck, Cody grinned shakily and croaked, “Nice shot, partner.” A trail of blood fell downward. Crimson puddled on the white line of the road. Cody emitted an odd gurgle and slid down the cruiser’s grille to plop beside the driver.

It took a moment for Inola to realize the blood wasn’t coming from the prisoner. Thick claret seeped through Cody’s fingers, staining the neck of his uniform and T-shirt, dropping to his hands in his lap.

Fingers shaking, Inola fumbled for the mic on her shoulder. “Officer down! Officer down! This is unit five-one-eleven. Three down. I need three busses.” She strangled a sob. Fury and terror took over all capacity of reasoning. “My partner’s been shot! Officer eleven-seven-four is down. Please…please help me!”

She dropped to her knees and reached out to stanch the flow streaming from Cody’s neck. “Hold on, partner. Medics are on the way.”

“Gave…up,” Cody stuttered. His eyes locked on Inola’s and then he lowered his head.

She followed his gaze to something clenched in his hand. Cody waved a credit card-sized piece of plastic between his fingers.

“Gave…up…”

Inola’s stomach lurched as she took the slick, sticky card. Cody coughed and frothy blood bubbled from his lips. She gathered her partner in her arms and rocked him. “No, Cody. Dammit, don’t give up. Please! Please. Don’t give up.”

Hot wetness soaked the front of her uniform. She clamped a hand over his pulsating wound. His blood oozed between her fingers. Praying for the ambulance and backup to arrive, she glanced around. Her body convulsed as she took in the accident scene that resembled a disaster movie more than a real-life scenario. Cars were parked in a line along the exit ramp to her right. Gridlocked vehicles clogged each lane of traffic, stunned citizens stood a safe distance away. The ashen atmosphere muted every color as fat snowflakes fluttered from the sky.

The sound of footfalls alerted her that danger still loomed. She eased Cody to the ground, slid her Glock from its holster, pivoted toward shuffling steps.

A man approached, a woman’s limp body draped in his arms, blonde hair streaming downward, the hem of her flowered dress skimming the pavement.

Inola assessed the situation—Cody, the lifeless driver, the woman, the stranger. She was about to yell out to put the woman down. Didn’t he realize he had just tainted the scene by moving her? But the look of horror on his face stopped her protest.

“I didn’t mean to hit her.” He lowered to his knees and laid the woman at Inola’s feet. “Please, can you help her? I think she’s dying.”

Inola eased her hand out and carefully swept aside the veil of hair. Her stomach lurched at the sight of the right side of the victim’s head, flatter than it should be. She placed a shaking hand to the white as porcelain neck. No beat pulsated under her fingertips. “I’m sorry,” she told the man.

His shoulders slumped as he mumbled a few words Inola could not decipher.

She wrenched away and hurried back to Cody, pulled him to her lap and resumed clutching his neck. Although the blood had slowed, it continued a thick path and she worried he would bleed out right there in her arms.

“Cody, open your eyes, partner. I need you to stay awake until the medics get here.”

He didn’t stir. Sirens wailed, growing louder with each beat of Inola’s racing heart. Feeling every bystander’s eyes on her, she settled her gaze on the only person who could possibly understand the magnitude of what had occurred—who, too, would suffer the consequences of this unforeseen catastrophe—the man who had also killed someone that day.

***

Deborah_J_Ledford-114x160Deborah J Ledford’s latest novel of suspense, CRESCENDO, is book three of the Steven Hawk/Inola Walela series. Other novels include SNARE, Finalist for The Hillerman Sky Award and the NM-AZ Book Awards, and the classical-music themed STACCATO. Deborah is a three-time nominee for the Pushcart Prize and her award-winning short stories appear in numerous print publications as well as literary and mystery anthologies. Part Eastern Band Cherokee, she spent her summers growing up in western North Carolina where her novels are set. Deborah invites you to visit her website: www.DeborahJLedford.com  

Introducing the Authors of Second Wind Publishing

I thought a fun way to introduce the authors of Second Wind Publishing, LLC (or at least the ones who wanted to be introduced) would be to have them answer three simple questions so you can see how different authors perceive themselves and their writing. The questions:

1. What is writing like for you?
2. What is the most thrilling thing about getting published?
3. What is the most humbling thing about getting published?

Nancy A. Niles, author of Vendetta:

1. Writing is something that I can’t not do. It’s my best friend, sometimes a pain in the neck, but most times just something that I need to do for my own peace of mind.

2. The most thrilling thing about getting published is the encouragement it has given me to keep writing and keep allowing myself to express more freely and deeper.  I think all those rejection slips had an effect on me and now being published is having a strengthening and very positive effect on my writing.

3. The most humbling thing about getting published is knowing that for a few hours the people who read my novel will be taken away from their problems and be in my world. It humbles me to know that for just a short time I can give them a little escape from their troubles. It is quite a blessing.

Nichole R. Bennett, author of Ghost Mountain:

1. Writing is in my blood.  I don’t mean that I come from a long line of authors, because I don’t.  But I have to write.  I have to get those words out of my body and onto paper.  Some days those words flow and there is no stopping them.  Other days I struggle over each and every letter.  Either way, writing is something I have to do.  Just like eating or breathing.

2.  The most thrilling thing is knowing that I am living my dream.  Yes, it can be hard, but this is what I want to do and I’m doing it.  How many people can truly say they get to live their dream?
3.  I’m not sure there’s a humbling moment for me.  I knew going in that writing would take some thick skin and hard work.  I knew not everyone would like my work or appreciate the time and energy that it took to get where I am.  That’s okay.  I’m just grateful for the opportunities I have had and that there are people who do like it!

J. Conrad Guest, author of Backstop: A Baseball Love Story in Nine Innings and One Hot January:

1. I haven’t found anything that provides the level of satisfaction writing provides me—the highs of crafting a perfect sentence, of self-discovery and exploring the universal themes of love and loss, dying and death, salvation, redemption, and keeping my parents alive and making them proud.

2. As writers, I think we all believe our work is the greatest since Hemingway, and seeing our work in print is affirmation, a thrill, that our work has merit—even if it isn’t really as good as Hemingway.

3. I find nothing humbling about getting published (I write with publication in mind), save for the process. By the time I receive my first proof copy, I’ve gone over my manuscript a dozen times or more and have probably a half-dozen drafts. An editor has gone over it, found several typos I’ve missed, and made suggestions for changes—some with which I agree, but most I discard. So I find it maddening and, yes, humbling, when I start reading my proof copy and find ways to improve the narrative, to rewrite a passage and, worst of all, I find a typo! I’m a perfectionist, so, yes, it’s humbling to learn I still can improve upon the process.

Eric Beetner, co-author of One Too Many Blows to the Head and Borrowed Trouble

1. Writing is lonely and tiring. Even writing as a part of a team like I do with Jennifer is still lonesome. We live on opposite coasts and only communicate through email. I never show anything to anyone for critique. Never let early drafts out to the public. So having her around is also an act of real trust. We show each other our naked first drafts and still expect that we’ll respect each other in the morning.

2. I find that it is too easy to only hear from a friendly audience of family and friends so the biggest thrill for me is when a total stranger says or writes something good about my writing. I know it is genuine. Being published lets that person have exposure to my work and find something in it that resonates or entertains. That’s why we’re here, right?

3. Oh, brother, what hasn’t been? I’ve had signings at book stores I respect (and where I shop) I’ve been in panel discussions alongside authors I admire. I’ve met writers as an equal – a fellow published author, not just a fan. All that has made me feel grateful beyond words.

DCP_0851-136x150Lazarus Barnhill, author of The Medicine People and Lacey Took a Holiday:

1. A few years ago I came back to writing fiction after a self-imposed twelve-year period during which I did not write, and found about twenty ideas of books rattling around in my head. My first official act was to get a notebook and list the novels, outlining them to the degree they had “marinated” in my imagination. For me, writing is getting out of the way and allowing those stories that germinated so long ago to take root, flower and bear fruit.

2. The thrill comes from somebody you don’t personally know buying a book, or seeking you out intentionally at a book signing. It’s also thrilling when someone asks you a question about your story in such a way that you know they have read it with comprehension.

3. A couple things strike me right away. First is the praise I often get from my colleagues. When another writer whose work I admire compliments my work in a way that reveals I’ve accomplished precisely what I set out to do in the story—that is humble. The second thing is when people I know hunt me down and pester me until I get them a copy of one of my books. And sign it to them personally. I’m not accustomed to adulation.

lucy_balch-113x151Lucy Balch, author of Love Trumps Logic:

1. Writing is like I’m in a time machine. I can work for hours on a story and it always feels like much less time.

2. The most thrilling thing about getting published is the knowledge that, finally, I’ll have something to show for the five years I’ve put into this obsession. Maybe I haven’t been selfishly squandering huge amounts of time?!

3.The most humbling thing about getting published is the realization that so many good writers have not yet been given the opportunity to publish. Is my book worthy of the privilege? As an unpublished author, I can always tell myself that my book will be well received when given the chance. The reality might be different. I hope not, but it’s a possibility, and once a book bombs there is no going back to the fantasy of it doing well.

jwcomputercatmail2-133x157Juliet Waldron, author of Hand-Me-Down Bride:

1. I write historicals, so writing for me is like entering a time portal—or, sometimes, like stepping out of Dr. Who’s callbox after accidentally pushing the wrong button. I have an idea of what may be there when I first look around, but I often find the world I’ve entered to be surprisingly different from my preconceptions.

2. The most thrilling thing about getting/being published is having someone you don’t know leave a message or write a review that totally “gets” the book. Shows I wasn’t as off-base as I sometimes—in those dark 3 a.m. moments—imagined.

3) The most humbling thing about getting/being published is that we have so much competition, and that there is a great deal of good writing out there. After publication there is the (IMO) far less agreeable marketing to do. The playful creation is now complete.

TracyB_3-134x150Claire Collins, author of Images of Betrayal and Fate and Destiny:

1. For me, writing is a journey. I don’t always know the final destination until I start traveling, but it’s always a rewarding trip.

2. The most thrilling thing about being published is when people read what I’ve written and they like it. I write for myself because writing is almost a compulsion for me. Readers enjoying my writing is a bonus.

3. The most humbling thing? All of the work it takes to get the books out and maintain a normal life while still trying to write. I realized pretty quick that I wasn’t superwoman. I’m still trying, but someone keeps standing on my cape.

mickeypic_1_-124x149Mickey Hoffman, author of School of Lies:

1. For me, writing is like being in that space just after you woke up from a dream but you only remember half of the dream and you spend all your waking moments trying to flesh it out.

2. I had some stories to tell and now I feel like they’ll be heard. And it really is thrilling. I feel like I’m white water rafting and I don’t need a boat!

3. I’ll be awed that anyone would take the time to read what I’ve written when they could be doing something more valuable with their time.

Deborah_J_Ledford-114x160Deborah J Ledford, author of Staccato and Snare:

1. I am an entertainer. I don’t write for a cause or to pose my own thoughts or impressions on issues. My only function is to provide a suspense-filled, exciting ride the reader won’t want to stop until they reach the very last word.

2. The most thrilling thing about being published is seeing the words I’ve worked so diligently to craft actually in print. If what I present happens to be worthy enough for readers to tell others about Staccato, that’s all I could ask for.

3. Everything about being published is humbling to me. That readers would seek out Staccato, then take the time to escape from their lives for a while, makes me more grateful than anyone could possibly know.

Sherrie_-_book_2-120x154Sherrie Hansen Decker, author of Night and Day, Stormy Weather, and Water Lily:

1. For me, writing is like a dream vacation – a chance to escape the realities of my everyday life and travel to some faraway world where I can see the sights and meet new people.

2. For years, I wrote and wrote, wondering if anyone would ever read my words. What a wonderful feeling to be writing for readers who are eagerly awaiting my next release!

3. Every time I think I have a perfect draft, I find more errors glaring out from the pages of my proof. Very humbling . . .

Norm2-140x151Norm Brown, author of The Carpet Ride:

1. As a retired computer programmer, I see a lot of similarities between writing a novel and creating a complex software program. Both processes require an enormous attention to detail. All the little parts have to tie together in a logical way and a good flow is critical. And it’s hard work to get all the “bugs” out of a book, too.

2. The most thrilling thing for me was pulling the first copy of my book out of the box and holding it in my hands. It was exciting to see something that I actually created.

3. The most humbling thing for me about being published was discovering how much I have to learn about promoting my book. I’m still learning.

biopicsmall-136x139Jerrica Knight-Catania, author of A Gentleman Never Tells:

1. Writing for me depends on the day. Some days it’s the most wonderful romp through my dream land and other days it’s like getting a root canal.

2. Knowing that someone else believes in your work enough to put it in print is just about the most thrilling feeling. It’s great to hear friends and family say how much they enjoyed my work, but to have it validated by professionals is a whole ‘nother ball game!

3. I’m not sure I’ve been humbled at all! Haha! But I’ve never really had unrealistic expectations of myself or my work. . . . I’m prepared to correct mistakes and make cuts/edits as needed. I’m just grateful every day for the opportunities I’ve been given.

Lindlae_Parish_photo-129x151Dellani Oakes, Author of Indian Summer and Lone Wolf:

1. Writing is like a discovery process. I start with a beginning line, an idea or even just a character’s name and watch as the characters lead me where they want me to go.

2. I loved the fact that I finally was validated. Someone did think I was worth publishing and I wasn’t just “Wasting time with all that writing.”

3. Humbling? Wow, I think the most humbling – perhaps humiliating – step in the publishing process is all the rejection you get until someone finally says “Yes, we want you!”

Margay_touch_up-129x150Margay Leah Justice, author of Nora’s Soul:

1. For me, writing is like creating a baby. There is the conception (what a wonderful idea!), the writing/rewriting period (gestation, anyone?) and the birth (I can’t believe it’s finally here!). And then you nurture it for the next couple of years as you slowly introduce it to the public – and hope they don’t think it’s an ugly baby.

2. The most thrilling thing about getting published is the sense of accomplishment when you see it in print for the first time and you discover that people actually like it!

3. The most humbling thing about getting published is seeing the book in print for the first time and realizing that all of those years of struggling, writing, rewriting, submitting – all boil down to this one little book that you can hold in the palm of your hand.

Chris2-132x150Christine Husom, author of Murder in Winnebago County, Buried in Wolf Lake, and An Altar by the River:

1. Writing is multi-faceted for me. It is a joy, but also pretty hard work at times. I do much of my writing in my mind and when I finally sit down to get it on paper, it often comes out differently. I spend more time mentally forming plots and picturing scenes than I do writing them. I love having a whole day here and there to sit at my computer and concentrate on writing. If I have problems with a scene, I skip ahead to the next one so I don’t get frustrated.

2. The most thrilling thing about being published is getting my books out of my house and into readers’ hands–hoping people get some enjoyment reading them.

3. The most humbling thing about getting published is seeing mistakes and typos in what I thought was an error-free manuscript!

Amy_12_1-113x151Amy De Trempe, author of Loving Lydia and Pure is the Heart:

1. Writing for me is like unmapped journey, I never know what turns, obstacles or excitement is about to unfold.

2. The most thrilling thing about getting published is seeing my name on a book cover.

3. The most humbling thing about getting published is finding out how supportive and happy my friends and family really are for me.

maggiemed-138x150Mairead Walpole, author of A Love Out of Time:

1. In some ways, writing is a form of therapy. Not from a “work out my issues” standpoint, but rather it allows me to escape from the day to day stresses of the world. I can let the creative, sometimes a little off-beat, imaginative part of my soul off the leash and let it run. Some of my very early writing did dip into the realm of “working out my issues” and those stories will never see the light of day!

2. Can I channel my inner Sallie Fields and run around saying, “They liked it, they really liked it…”? No? Darn. Seriously, I think it is the whole – I did this – aspect. Someone read the book and thought it was worth publishing. That is pretty cool no matter how you cut it.

3. Opening yourself up to criticism, being vulnerable. Sure, you know that not everyone is going to love your book, and intellectually you know that some people will hate it and think you are a hack, but when someone actually expresses that to you it is a whole new experience. It can be very humbling.

IMG_4132-use-115x154Suzette Vaughn, author of Badeaux KnightsMortals, Gods, and a Muse, and Finding Madelyn:

1. I’m like a humming bird on too much caffine. I write in waves. When the wave hits I can put out several thousand words in an unbelievably small amount of time. Then when I’m not in humming bird mode I edit.

2. The most thrilling is probably the fact that there are people out there that I don’t know that have read my book and liked it. I had the pleasure a few times of meeting them and there is some twinkle in their eye that is amazing.

3. My son is always humbling. I recieved my proofs in the mail and my then seven year old son didn’t fully understand what it meant that I’d written a book. He flips through the pages looking for hand-writting. “I get in trouble when I write in books.”

jjdare-139x150JJ Dare, author of False Positive and False World:

1. Writing is like being in a triathlon for me. I power write for days or weeks at a time, then crash for awhile with the help of Tylenol and chocolate. Writing is a scary, exciting roller-coaster. It is exhilarating and draining, and Iwouldn’t do it any other way.

2. The most thrilling thing about getting published is the very act of being published! Something I wrote is out there, available for anyone to read. Holding the hard copy of my book in my hands gives me the good shivers. The other thrill is the pride in my family’s voices when they introduce me as “The Writer.”

3. The most humbling thing is feeling responsible for the places I take my readers. During the time they’re walking with and living the lives of the characters in my book, my readers are taking the same roller-coaster ride I took to write the
book.

pat-135x150Pat Bertram, author of More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I:

1. For me, writing is like the world’s longest crossword puzzle, one that takes a year to complete. I like playing with words, finding their rhythm, and getting them to behave the way I want. I like being able to take those words and create ideas, characters, and emotions.

2. Someday perhaps, I will find the thrill of being published, but to be honest it was anti-climatic. I am more thrilled at the thought of what the future might bring now that my books have been published.

3. I had no intention of answering these questions. After all, I was the one who collated all these mini interviews, but a fellow author said, “This is your party, too. People will tune in because of you. They want to know more about YOU. Don’t cheat your fans and followers.” Now that’s humbling.

Click here to read the first chapters of all Second Wind novels: The Exciting Worlds of  Second Wind Books

Snare by Deborah J Ledford

Title:                  SNARE
Author:            Deborah J Ledford
Publisher:        Second Wind Publishing
Release Date: December 21, 2011
ISBN#               13: 978-1935171577 

 

One rock star sensation.
Two men from her past want her dead.
Three others will risk everything to keep her safe.
Who will be caught in a trap?

SNARE – Revenge with a beat 

Native American pop singer/songwriter Katina Salvo’s career is about to take off.  There’s one problem: someone wants to kill her. Katina and her bodyguard, Deputy Steven Hawk, are attacked during an altercation at her first live concert. Could the assailant be a mysterious, dangerous man from her youth? Or her estranged father recently released from prison for killing her mother? 

Performed against the backdrop of the picturesque Great Smoky Mountains of North Carolina, and the mysterious Taos Pueblo Indian reservation, SNARE is a thriller fans of Tony Hillerman will appreciate. SNARE is Book Two of the Steven Hawk/Inola Walela thriller series.

Excerpt 

Katina nodded, thinking about the possibilities. She took up the moccasin Sylvie had been working on and ran a finger over the colorful beads. She knew her aunt held confessions from innumerable Pueblo people who had confided in her over the years, many of them long dead, their confidences still locked in Sylvie’s reverence. Katina cursed the stubborn pride that always steered her aunt’s conscience. All she could do was wait and hope Sylvie would reveal the hidden mysteries of Taima and her mother.

She knew she needed to be cautious as to how to begin, but instead, she blurted, “When did you last see Taima?”

Sylvie stubbed out the cigarette, her eyes on the winking red coal extinguishing in the saucer. “Friday night.”

The ringing grew louder in Katina’s ears. Her eyes scanned the floor as she whispered, “That can’t be.”

Sylvie motioned her head toward the front room, to the closed front door. “He was standing in the field, across the way. Just before sundown.”

The vision of Taima in the front row of the theatre entered Katina’s mind. “But he was at the theatre. I saw him in the wings, then during the concert. He’s the one who attacked Hawk.”

“That’s not true. Can’t be true.”

Leaning in close, Katina took Sylvie’s hand. “It is. You’re mistaken about seeing him. It was probably one of the Gomez brothers. They look a lot like him.”

“I know my husband, Katina.” Sylvie ripped her hand away.

“It was him, Sylvie. I smelled the campfire smoke in his hair and the leather of his boots as he stood over me with a knife in his hand dripping with Hawk’s blood.”

“I can’t . . . won’t believe that.”

“Hawk and I are going to find out the truth.”

“So that’s why you’ve brought him here.”

Katina held Sylvie’s anxious gaze, but didn’t speak.

“Most say Taima’s topepe. But . . .” Sylvie’s words, barely above a whisper, trailed off.

“He’s more than a troublemaker, Auntie. He’s a plague on the Pueblo. Cutting down viable trees instead of using fallen ones to make his precious drums. Hunting whenever and wherever he damned well pleases.” Katina leaned forward to study Sylvie who kept her eyes on the coffee mug. “You still love him, don’t you?”

Sylvie didn’t meet Katina’s eyes and she knew the truth.

“He blames me for my mother’s death. How can you love someone who hates me so much?”

“That was a long time ago, Kat. You don’t know him, now.”

Katina rose from the chair. “Oh, I know him. He’s just like my father. Both of them will stop at nothing to destroy me. If not my body, my soul.”

Katina bent over to kiss the top of Sylvie’s head. Katina closed her eyes, inhaling the scent of sage shampoo coming from her aunt’s hair. Resting her cheek on Sylvie’s shiny crown, she said, “If anything happens to me while I’m here, I won’t stand in Hawk’s way to make things right.”

Katina knelt down and with her fingertips, lifted Sylvie’s chin upward to meet her aunt’s dark eyes. “You can tell Taima that the next time you see him standing in the field, across the way.”

***

Deborah J Ledford’s latest suspense thriller SNARE received the nomination for The Hillerman Sky Award. STACCATO is Book One of her Deputy Hawk/Inola Walela series, both released by Second Wind Publishing. She spent her summers growing up in the Great Smoky Mountains of western North Carolina which is the setting for her suspense thriller novels and many of her short stories.
 
As well as a suspense thriller novelist, Deborah J Ledford is a three-time nominee for the Pushcart Prize. Her award-winning short stories appear in numerous print publications as well as literary and mystery anthologies. She is most proud of her stories that appear in the Sisters in Crime Chapter Desert Sleuths anthologies How NOT to Survive a Vacation and How NOT to Survive the Holidays (DS Publishing, 2009, 2010) and “The Spot” which is featured in Murder in the Wind (Second Wind Publishing, 2010). To find out more about Deborah, read the first chapters of SNARE and STACCATO, and a few of her previously published short stories, she invites you to visit her website

Click here to buy: Snare

Click here to read the first chapter: Snare 

Staccato by Deborah J Ledford — Excerpt #2

front-sta-195x304Three world-class pianists.
Two possible killers.
One dead woman.
Who is her murderer?
Who will be next? 

When acclaimed pianist Nicholas Kalman discovers his lover’s dead body, he sets out alone to find her killer. During his journey, he meets an unwitting female accomplice who soon becomes determined to help Nicholas wield his retaliation. Following a parallel path for justice, Steven Hawk, the deputy of a sleepy Southern county, is assigned to the case. Pursuing the investigation, Hawk finds himself entangled in a world of vengeance, greed and manipulation.

Performed against the backdrop of the Great Smoky Mountains of North Carolina, Staccato transports readers to a behind-the-scenes glimpse of professional musicians, the psychological twists and turns of its characters, and in the end, retribution that crashes in a crescendo of notes played at the literary pace of a maestro’s staccato. 

Staccato is the first novel of the Steven Hawk/Inola Walela thriller trilogy.

Excerpt:

Nicholas’s gaze fixed on the open door of the cement block building.

“You don’t have to do this, you know,” Hawk said. “Let her identification be left to her mother.”

Studying his shoes, he said to himself more than to Hawk, “No. I’ve caused enough pain to Aranka.”

Hawk nodded, took off his hat off and clutched its brim.

Nicholas gathered his courage and stepped to the door. After a few nervous breaths he crossed the threshold. The frigid, pungent room spooked him. He shuddered, drawing his jacket tight around his body.

Fully inside the cold, uninviting space, Nicholas’s eyes locked on Elaine’s lifeless body, laid out on an aluminum table in the middle of the room. Taking tentative steps, he reached out. He wanted to rest his trembling fingers on her cheek, smooth the hair from her forehead, but Hawk stopped him with a shake of his head.

Nicholas clasped his hands behind his back to resist the urge to ignore the deputy. He stared at the ashen, waxy, colorless face that barely resembled his lover. “Have you ever been in love, Deputy Hawk?”

“Yeah, sure.”

“I mean the sweaty palm, heart pounding, gasp at the sight of her when she enters the room, love.”

Hawk shuffled from one foot to the other. “No. I’m still lookin’ for that.”

“That’s what we had.”

“I’m sorry, Nicholas,” Hawk said. “I really am.” Then the deputy gently pulled the coverlet over Elaine’s body and head.

Nicholas straightened his posture and said, “Take me to Alexander Kalman.”

Clamping his hat back on his head, Hawk led Nicholas from the morgue.

He searched the group of officers and spotted Sampte right away—a foot wider and a head taller than any of the others, even as he leaned on a police car. Nicholas ran to him, grabbed the man he once considered a friend, and swung him around.

“Why?” Nicholas shouted. “Tell me, you bastard. Why did this happen?”

Sampte kept his chin tucked to his chest, refusing to look at Nicholas.

A flash of lightning lit the area, halting all action for a moment. A deafening crack, followed by a train-like rumble, resounded through the trees.

When Sampte raised his head, Nicholas searched the man’s eyes for any clues. Instead, he recognized the flat, resolved gaze, rivaling a look only Alexander could brandish.

To Nicholas, Sampte’s silence seemed louder than the thunder.

Deborah_J_Ledford-114x160Deborah J Ledford is a three-time nominee for the Pushcart Prize. Her award-winning short stories appear in the print publications Arizona Literary Magazine, Forge Journal, Twisted Dreams Magazine, AnthologyBuilder, and two Red Coyote Press mystery anthologies. Her latest stories appear in the Gulf Coast Writers Association anthology “Sweet Tea and Afternoon Tales” and the Sisters in Crime anthology, “How Not to Survive the Holidays.” A flash fiction piece is presented via podcast at Sniplits.

Click here  to read the first chapter: Staccato

Staccato by Deborah J Ledford — Excerpt #1

front-sta-195x304Three world-class pianists.
Two possible killers.
One dead woman.
Who is her murderer?
Who will be next? 

When acclaimed pianist Nicholas Kalman discovers his lover’s dead body, he sets out alone to find her killer. During his journey, he meets an unwitting female accomplice who soon becomes determined to help Nicholas wield his retaliation. Following a parallel path for justice, Steven Hawk, the deputy of a sleepy Southern county, is assigned to the case. Pursuing the investigation, Hawk finds himself entangled in a world of vengeance, greed and manipulation.

Performed against the backdrop of the Great Smoky Mountains of North Carolina, Staccato transports readers to a behind-the-scenes glimpse of professional musicians, the psychological twists and turns of its characters, and in the end, retribution that crashes in a crescendo of notes played at the literary pace of a maestro’s staccato. 

Staccato is the first novel of the Steven Hawk/Inola Walela thriller trilogy.

Excerpt:

No. It can’t be . . .

He didn’t have the courage to look at her closely, so he repositioned the body, then dragged the cloth sack beyond her shoulders.

The sweet scent of gardenias and rosewater hit him with blunt force. His gut churned, a lump formed in his throat, strangling his whimper.

Mind racing, he swept the hair from the corpse’s face. He cupped her head in his hands and bent inches from her. Blood slammed to his brain, ringing in his ears deafened him. He managed to utter a guttural growl.

God, no, not Elaine. The one person he trusted completely. She, who had unselfishly relished his triumphs and filled his days and nights with excitement and passion.

He could do nothing but stare at her beautiful, porcelain face, now turned ashen, expressionless. She had been his salvation. He mourned every time they were apart, rejoiced once they reunited. He would never see her again, be with her, love her.

Nicholas wrapped his shaking arms around Elaine’s body and rocked her. Tears coursed down his cheeks. He mumbled her name again and again. After a long time, he lifted her from the tumble on the floor, swept the bag from her body and crumpled the cloth into a ball at her feet. Placing her carefully in a seated position on the passenger seat, he smoothed her hair and took her limp head in his hands. He kissed his lover’s waxen forehead and released her limp body. Pulling the seat belt tight, he snapped her securely in place.

His entire body shook as he shut the door, then paced in front of the car and raked his hands through his hair. Thoughts of retribution filled his raging mind. Vows of revenge rocked the core of his being. He opened his arms and lifted his head to the misty sky. A wail of anguish emitted from deep inside him, rising in intensity until he expelled no more sound. He thrust himself forward and crashed his fists down on the hood of the Porsche.

The cacophony of sound echoed throughout the parking lot, mixing with his strangled sobs.

Deborah_J_Ledford-114x160Deborah J Ledford is a three-time nominee for the Pushcart Prize. Her award-winning short stories appear in the print publications Arizona Literary Magazine, Forge Journal, Twisted Dreams Magazine, AnthologyBuilder, and two Red Coyote Press mystery anthologies. Her latest stories appear in the Gulf Coast Writers Association anthology “Sweet Tea and Afternoon Tales” and the Sisters in Crime anthology, “How Not to Survive the Holidays.” A flash fiction piece is presented via podcast at Sniplits.

Click here  to read the first chapter: Staccato