Casualty of Court · character profile · fun · interviews · Meet the Cast · personality

Getting to know all about them

Leading up to the launch of Casualty of Court in Spring 2018, I’ve hired a team of experts to put my four key characters to the test.
Will they crack under the pressure?
What are they hiding?
Who can you – the reader – really trust?

Fear not, my team will get to the bottom of things. If there’s a secret to be told, they’ll find it. After all, they are professionals in their own fields. (Think of this as the interview stage in The Apprentice)

Detective Hugh Dunnitt heads up the enquiry.  There are two sides to every story, but can he read between the lines (or lies)? He will take into account the findings of the other interviewers before making the closing statement.

Here’s how it will work …

Firstly, Annie Skillsett will question them on their experiences. Are they up to the job? Do they have what it takes to be memorable characters? Do they have longevity in their sight?

Next, CeeCee Dedmann is on board to garner assistance from ‘the other side’. Who will each character choose to speak to, and why? What guidance will they seek?

Then, Dr Ed Case is looking to investigate their innermost thoughts. What drives them? What scares them? What do they hope to achieve?

Penultimately, Vikki Winner will look back on their accomplishments. Are they worthy characters? Do they warrant their places on the red carpet (ie in the next book)? Will they win over the readers and take a spot in the Hall of Fame?

Lastly, Detective Dunnitt will pass judgement. Who will triumph and who will falter? 2018 is to be a big year for them, but only if they can leave a lasting impression on the readers. There is a lot at stake.

Stay with me to find out more.

Thanks for reading 🙂

 

books · Contemporary Romance · cosy · historical fiction · murder mystery · mystery · recommended · serial killer · thrillers

My Best Books Calendar 2017

It’s been a wonderful year for book-lovers like me, so I thought a post about my favourite reads for 2017 would be appropriate. I had a real struggle getting this down to just twelve – still, that’s because I wanted a calendar style, so I have only myself to blame for the self-imposed limits. Doh! I’ll get on with, shall I?

It’s an eclectic mix from cosy mystery to serial killers, romantic comedy to historical fiction, legal and medical thrillers to contemporary women’s fiction. But, variety is the spice of life 🙂

Links to the books are below, and I’ll vouch for every single one of them. Not that I’m alone though, many of these have dozens – if not hundreds – of five star reviews, so if you choose any, you’ll be sure of a great story.

January – Winters Day – DM Wolfenden

February – Finding Miranda – Iris Chacon

March – The Seven Year Dress – Paulette Mahurin

April – The Devil’s Prayer – Luke Gracias

May – The Girl from Berlin – Ellie Midwood

June – Forbidden Colours – Nicole Fitton

July – The Wind in the Embers – Malcolm Logan

August – A Patriot’s Act – Kenneth Meade

September – Mirror, Mirror – Jessica Jesinghaus

October – Murder by the Book – Brigitta Moon

November – Plus Size Goddess – Cathy McGough

December – In the Best Interest of the Child – Felicia Denise.

So, feel free to go and fill your Kindle, your Nook or even your bookshelves.

As for me, I’m currently reading The Green Pearl Caper by Phyllis Entis, before settling down with a boxset of the 12 Slays of Christmas featuring Amy M. Reade – as you can see, my reading year is not yet over 🙂

The great news is that there are so many more fabulous reads to come.

Happy Reading everyone!

By the way, if you choose to read any of these wonderful books, please consider leaving a review.

Reviews keep writers writing.

Thanks for reading 🙂

Happy New Book Year x

Christmas · memories

Favourite Christmas Memories

The holiday season is often a time of reflection for some, with hearts and minds returning to memories of Christmases past. One of my favorite Christmas memories is from the year I was ten. Hospitalized with a non-malignant mass on my thyroid, I was one sad, little girl knowing my parents and eight siblings would […]

via Favorite Christmas Memories — Nesie’s Place

book review · dementia · Magic O'Clock · women's fiction

An extra special gift

It’s the season of giving, and this year, Magic O’Clock has been gifted something extra special too. A Five Star review by Jeannie Richards, courtesy of her Indies Helping Indies Book Review Project. (Fellow authors, you should check out Jeannie’s IHIBRP details on her website – you won’t regret it).

Magic (as I affectionately call it) is a little story about a father living with dementia while his daughter looks on, helpless and forgotten by him. The disease has stolen her hero from her – except at Magic O’Clock – 3pm – when glimmers of her dad shine resplendently through his tall stories and exaggerated adventures. It’s a story of hope, and a chance to remember that every second counts.

Here’s that lovely review I mentioned:

5.0 out of 5 stars: A Charming But Realistic Tale On Dealing With Dementia!
By Author JB Richardson December 22, 2017
Format: Kindle Edition – Verified Purchase
Seventy-year-old Archie Royle is the author’s dad—her storytelling hero who is stricken with dementia. At this stage in his life, Archie doesn’t know his own daughters or family anymore, and he lives in a world of his own time and making. But even though he struggles to recall the woman who stops in daily to chat with him and hear his stories, he seems quite happy existing in a place where time is irrelevant and hope is boundless.

At only 16 pages, “Magic O’clock” is a very short read, but Fellows’ fictional tale really packs a punch. While she stands by watching helplessly as her father’s condition continues to decline, she offers a unique insight into the world of dementia. This consummate master storyteller expertly demonstrates how Archie weaves an intricate web of wild and amazing adventures as she plays these imaginings against the vivid tapestry of his real-life events.

Certainly, Fellows mirrors her father’s talent and charisma in the telling of her tale. And, her deep and everlasting love for her dad shines through in this story within a story. I highly recommend this touching and charming tale to anyone who is dealing with a parent or loved one suffering with dementia. “Magic O’Clock” offer us the gift of peering out the proverbial window while gently and carefully revealing both the joys and sorrows associated with this disease.

***

To say I’m chuffed would be an understatement 🙂 It is indeed a wondrous sight to behold – trust me, I was (and still am) overjoyed at the kind words written about my short story. In fact, I’m overwhelmed by the impact Magic has had, and will hopefully continue to have, on readers.

For anyone living through this right now, all I would say is to cherish the memories you have, make new ones and find the joy in every moment you have with your loved one. Those memories you make will be the blessings that comfort you. Revel in them and hold them tight, save them for those times when you need your own Magic O’clock moment.

If you’d care  to see what the fuss is all about, you can find Magic here.  If you do choose to read it, I hope you enjoy it enough to leave a review. Reviews keep authors writing, and the sequel – Magical Memories – is already in the pipeline, with an April 2018 release beckoning (my dad’s birthday seems a fitting date, don’t you think?)

Thank you for reading 🙂

Merry Christmas everyone – Happy Holidays

army of authors · blog tour · Contemporary Romance

Army of Authors Blog Tour – Anna Belle Rose

More recent releases here, in the form of two Contemporary Romance novels :

That One Small Omission

by Anna Belle Rose.

Maggie Erickson-O’Brien always played it safe, always. That is, right up to the moment when she met the man of her dreams while on a work trip. A one-night stand led to dreams of forever, right up to the moment when she realized they could never have a future together. Months later, fate thrusts them together again, and he has to decide if her one small omission will doom their relationship. Can forever still happen?

***

Early reviewers call it “A Winner”, “a sweet romance about priorities” and say “it has it all”.

Here, Anna Belle, shares with us her journey to becoming an author.

The Long Road to Publication – by Anna Belle Rose

Years and years ago, actually decades ago, I was a stay-at-home mom for a bit, with my then youngest child who would not fall asleep at nap time. Over time, I realized that while he wouldn’t sleep, he would sit in his crib for a bit each afternoon, listening to Yanni at the Acropolis, looking at story books, and I could sit and write. And write I did. I wrote and wrote and wrote over many months. By then, my youngest was talking, and he somehow understood that Mommy was writing a book, and he kept nagging me to keep going. And I did.

Fast forward many years, and I’d keep opening the word file of that first novel, print it out, edit and revise, and eventually send it out to a few agents. Rejections would come in, and I’d put it away for a while, then that same son would poke at me again, and the process would start all over again. During this same time, I also started several other novels, and kept working on them in the same way. All of them were contemporary romances, heavily linked to life in Vermont, and all have gloriously happy endings – I mean, who doesn’t love a happily ever after?

Finally, late in 2016, I decided I needed to either get serious about writing, or give it up for good. So I pulled those two complete novels out again, and hired incredible professional editors to go at them. Then I started submitting them to a few agents, and a couple of publishing houses that didn’t require representation by agents. And on June 13th, a publishing contract arrived on the novel I wrote first, The Phone Call. And on July 13th, a contract arrived for my second, That One Small Omission. And joy of joys, on December 4th, a contract was offered on my third, More Than I Can Say.

On October 11, 2017, That One Small Omission was published in e-book and print versions, and on December 12th, The Phone Call will be published. The joy and excitement I feel each time I look at my mantle and see my first published novel is an emotion that I think only other authors can understand!

The Phone Call

Kat meets Alex during Christmas break, her senior year of college. After a romantic night at the opera, the attraction between them is palpable, but both know that the timing is not right. They exchange numbers and promise to stay in touch, but events out of their control leave them both waiting on a call that will never come. When fate seems to deal them a second chance, they must trust in each other to make their relationship work. A secret from Kat’s past threatens to destroy their newfound love. Is she strong enough to tell Alex the truth? Will he understand and accept it if she does?

***

You can get your copy of That One Small Omission and The Phone Call by visiting the author’s Amazon page here.

Should you choose to purchase either or both of Anne Belle’s books, please consider leaving a review afterwards.

Reviews keep writers writing.

Thanks for reading 🙂

Featured Author - Phyllis Entis · mystery · Mystery Authors International · Private Investigators · Uncategorized

Meet Damien Dickens … and immerse yourself in these mysterious capers.

Today’s release of the new cover for The Green Pearl Caper represents a milestone in the coming-of-age of the Damien Dickens Mysteries series. First published in the spring of 2015, The Green Pearl Caper has garnered numerous 4-star and 5-star reviews on Amazon, goodreads and other book retailer sites, and earned Library Journal’s SELF-e Selection […]

via How It All Began — Gone Writing

army of authors · blog tour · books · cosy · mystery · pets · short reads

Army of Authors Blog Tour – B L Blair

The Lost Macaw

by B L Blair

You don’t know how excited I am to feature this new release on my blog today.

Pets and Mystery go hand in hand, right? Well, they do in my world.

The Lost Macaw is the fourth novella in the Lost and Found Pets Mystery series.

Alexandra Prescott is a licensed private investigator specializing in finding missing animals. Reuniting pet and owner is more than just a job.

A former client hires Alex to find her lost parrot. The bright colored bird has flown away before, but this time there is evidence that Molly was kidnapped. The demand is simple—the bird for the pictures.

When her client suffers a stroke, Alex is left with a ransom note, a missing bird, and some very incriminating photos. She is in a race against time to solve the mystery of the lost Macaw.

***

This cosy mystery can be read in around two hours, so it’s perfect for a wintry evening in front of a warm fire.

Let me convince you  with an excerpt:

“Your little old lady is quite interesting, Alex,” Halie said.

“What do you mean?”

“She didn’t exist until about thirty years ago.”

“What?!”

“I did a preliminary background search on her. In general, she is clean. No debt. The house is paid off as is her car. The one thing that jumped out at me was the fact that she had a safe deposit box at four different banks.”

Luke raised one eyebrow. I got a sinking feeling. I had noted the bank accounts but hadn’t really given them much thought.

“Yeah,” I said, “I saw those.”

“So why does an eighty-year-old woman need four safe deposit boxes?”

“Why does she need more than one?” Luke muttered.

“Exactly,” Halie said. “So I dug a little deeper.”

“What did you find?”

“About thirty years ago, Joseph and Trudy Kearns purchased the house on Carriage. Back then, it was a new neighborhood, and the prices were cheap. They paid cash. They also opened a bank account, and Joe got a job working for the city. Those are the first records I can find for either one of them.”

“Trudy would have been fifty at that time. Her husband probably a few years older. What about birth certificates? Social security cards?”

“They had them, but conveniently, they were issued from a small county in Virginia where a massive flood destroyed all their records. The county office was in the process of moving the old paper records to electronic when the flood hit.”

“Let me guess. The Kearns’s records did not survive the flood.”

“Nope.”

“So the only records for them are the ones they had in their possession.” I paused a moment. “Do they look real?”

“Yes,” Halie replied.

“So they could be authentic.”

“Or really good forgeries. In some ways, it was easier back then.”

“Anything else?” I asked.

“Not really. Lives on a fixed income of social security and a small pension from her husband’s job. It isn’t much because he only worked for the city for twelve years before he had to retire.”

“Okay, thanks Halie.”

After ending the call, I looked at Luke. He had a perplexed look on his face that I had a feeling mirrored mine.

“Who the hell is Trudy Kearns?”

Intrigued? I bet you are – me too 🙂

You can grab your copy at any of these fine retailers: Amazon, Nook, iBooks, Kobo, and Smashwords. And, if you want to catch up on earlier books in the series, head on over to the author’s Amazon page where you’ll find the whole motley crew. 

With these being priced at only 99c, they’re sure to make great Christmas gifts too.

If you purchase any of the books, please consider leaving a review afterwards. Reviews keep writers writing 🙂

Thanks for reading 🙂

books · review · women's fiction

Book Review – Women’s Fiction

In the Best Interest of the Child
by Felicia Denise

Severely injured in an accident that forever changed her life, 10-year-old Olivia becomes another faceless, under-served child in foster care. With no time to mourn or grieve, the young girl is easy prey for uncaring social workers and ambivalent foster families.

Olivia quickly learns to hold her tongue and mask her emotions. Even when exposed to neglect, bullying, and assault, no one seems to care. Holding fast to the teachings of her late father, Olivia ages out of the system broken, but no longer a victim.

Now a successful child advocate attorney, Olivia is a passionate voice for children. However, a routine case assignment by the court plunges Olivia back into the trauma of her childhood. If she doesn’t face her demons, a child will be sent into foster care, and Olivia will lose the only chance at love she’s ever had…or wanted.

Foster care for her young client is not an option. But Olivia’s emotional scars run even deeper than she realized. Reconciling with her past means Olivia must confront the one woman she blames for her battered soul.

A woman who has no idea who Olivia is.

My thoughts:

You know the feeling when you settle down to watch a movie, one starring your favourite actor or actress, and then you realise the film is nothing like you ever expected of him/her? The same could be said of this book. I expected great things, but what I got was totally wonderful. This is a story full of heart, but grounded in pain and despair. Yet, the author finds hope and positivity in a case that could easily become just another statistic in a flawed system.

The unfortunate events that befall young Rena are far too similar for Child Advocate, Olivia Chandler, to brush aside. This time, the child she sets out to help will have a much more profound effect on her personal life.  For while Olivia is the best damn advocate any child could hope for, she is also a victim of the same system – the foster care system – that threatens to leave its mark on yet another young life.

Of course, Olivia will not let that happen and, aided by a team of professionals unswerving in their desire to make a  difference, she embraces the challenge with open arms and a wilful spirit.

But, she didn’t count on meeting the Bellamy family, whose resolve to care for Rena is just as strong as her own. However, this family is no ordinary family. This is a family who genuinely care, for each other and for those within their reach. And now, Olivia is in their reach – in the reach of one persistent, funny, gentle, caring and honest man – Bruce Bellamy.

The two of them fit – that’s all there is to it – they are meant to be, but that doesn’t mean things fall into place in an instant. Bruce is one resourceful chap, and his determination knows no bounds until Olivia can delay the inevitable no more. It is both hilarious and heartwarming to see these two – both with pain in their past – come together. Long may they reign!

This relationship develops as Olivia battles for Rena; her single-mindedness to act in the best interest of the child is impressive. Olivia is a force to be reckoned with. But, this case, this time, circumstances closer to home make her realise that she has to face up to her past and deal with her own demons. With Bruce’s help and encouragement she may now succeed. Fortunately, a second book awaits.

This is an engrossing read, with a cast of characters that liven up every page. You’ll find yourself laughing, crying, smiling and sighing as this story unfolds. A definite 5 star read. Bring on Book 2!

blog tour · book review · suspense · thriller

Blog Tour & Book Review

White Water, Black Death

by Shaun Ebelthite


 

“A cruise ship is the perfect target for a biological attack”. These are the chilling words emailed to the Seaborne Symphony in the mid-Atlantic.

Magazine editor Geneva Jones has been sent on the trans-Atlantic cruise to help secure a major advertising agreement from the CEO of the cruise line Rachel Atkinson, but her efforts to win her over are curtailed by a mysterious crew death. Geneva suspects foul play. Rachel insists its suicide. A former investigative journalist, Geneva can’t resist digging deeper, but what she finds is far more devastating. There’s an Ebola outbreak on the ship, everyone is trapped aboard and Rachel is trying to keep it secret.

Geneva knows enough about Ebola to be terrified, but she’s also onto the biggest story of her career. As panic surges through the ship, she becomes fixated on a single question. How was the virus brought aboard? The answer is worse than she could have imagined, and the greatest exposé she’ll ever get, if she can only prove it.

***

Fascinating or what? Here’s my review:

This story draws you in from the very first page. A virus has been purposely spread throughout the decks of the cruise ship Symphony. Immediately, the reader is intrigued – Who has done this? Why? What will happen to the crew and passengers?

On board, Geneva Jones, a magazine editor invited to give a write-up for CruiseCritique, hopes for a good story. She already has ‘history’ with the Cruise CEO, Rachel Atkinson, and theirs is not a harmonious relationship. If there is a scoop to be had, Geneva will find it.

However, Rachel plays a similar game to discredit Geneva and pours scorn on the headlines that reflect badly on her management. But, it’s clear, Rachel’s handling of the outbreak has been flawed, putting lives at risk even while she purports to be ‘doing her best’ and, towards the end, offering to help the doctor when passengers and crew members are dying at an alarming rate.

A series of spectacularly dramatic events unfold. A member of the ship’s crew ‘falls’ overboard, and searching for her is halted due to a MayDay call from another vessel. Knowing they cannot possibly save the crew member, the Captain forges ahead to rescue the occupants of the smaller boat, only for them to then die within days of being brought to the Symphony.

Panic rises as rumours of the virus spread throughout, and many jump overboard while the ship is waiting instructions to dock in Bermuda. Permission is denied them and those who tried to flee are returned to the ship, which has been instructed to head for Miami: a journey of three more days.

Geneva grows more suspicious with each passing hour, and as passengers succumb to the virus she knows there is more to the story than everybody is being told.

The story explodes further with even more intriguing sub-plots: a crew member suffers persistent sexual attack by one of her superiors; the Captain falls ill and is secretly shipped ashore; the adopted son of the CEO is on board for the first time and Geneva questions Rachel’s reasons for bringing him aboard… These are all tied up by the end and come together to enrich the overall plot.

This book has the potential to be a best-seller. The author clearly knows about the cruising world, yet it is the fear and panic that this Ebola outbreak causes, upon a ship with a captive audience, that drives the story forward at such a pace. Being completely believable as a potential source for terrorism, the threat posed makes for one humdinger of a thriller. It’s so feasible that it’s enough to put people off cruise ships for life.

My reasons for not giving it the full five stars lie not in the story itself – for that is a cracking read – but in aspects of the writing. There are times when it’s not easy to follow the dialogue and I had to flip back to track the conversations, and even then still wasn’t clear who was speaking. This put a dampener on my enjoyment of the book, slowing me down when I really wanted to race ahead.  There were other issues (the child’s name changing from Zack to Riley at one point, and different spellings of the cruise company’s name – Seaborne/Seabourn) Maybe I’m too demanding as a reader, but I want it all – a great story and clear writing.

However, on story alone, this is a five-star read with one heck of a twist at the end. Read it, enjoy it, but be prepared:

***

But if you still need a little more convincing, check out this excerpt:

Ebola. It sounded better suited to a field clinic than a cruise ship. If this was Ebola, she was utterly fucked. Emma knew without any doubt that she was right though. She’d been right before the WHO and CDC contacted them, before Bermuda closed its border, before the FBI launched its investigation.
She’d realised before anyone else what this was, but had been too afraid to accept it.
Little good acceptance would have done anyway. The virus was deadly in more than half of all infections, even with expert supportive care. A person could go from perfectly healthy to dead in a few days. Most of her patients were exposed to the virus more than a week ago, and began showing symptoms three to four days later. They had forty-eight hours left, if that.
According to Rachel, Miami was more than seventy four hours sailing at full speed.
Even if Bermuda had taken them ashore, they’d still die. Once the bleeding started there was very little any hospital could do.
And her patients were bleeding.
It started in the stools and urine, then the nose, ears and eventually the eyes. The young girl she’d examined just two days ago was bleeding from every orifice.
Emma could see the vague shape of her body on a mattress between a white sheet and the windows. She was trying to give the worst-off patients what privacy she could. They had to be stripped down to their underwear and constantly sponged in a futile attempt to control the fever.
Some sort of privacy was all she could give them.
The girl’s mother was with her, sponging her and periodically being sick in a wastepaper basket. There were no more buckets available, even the disposable vomit bags had run out. Emma had just a few boxes of paracetamol left and only one of Imodium, her last remaining Ovartin would be used to save as many as she could when they were within airlift range of the US.
All other medication of any use had run out during the night.
She was using 19th century means to treat the most deadly virus of the 20th century.
“You’re all right my baby,” the woman was telling her daughter, the girl was trembling violently. Emma didn’t need to see her face to know she would be looking at her mother with wide, terrified eyes. Dozens of her patients had given her the same stricken look in the last twenty-four hours.
Emma couldn’t remember their names, but their faces were there like skulls in Ntarama church.
“Fight it Megan, we’ll be home soon,” the woman said.
She hadn’t let her daughter see her cry. Her husband’s body was one of those wrapped in a sheet in a line with four others that had died during the night. They’d been placed next to the doors on the left of the lounge, nearest the bar. Crew in protective gear would come to collect them soon and take them to the hold.
“You’re going to be okay, Megan.”
The girl would be dead within the next two hours.
“Doctor?” Emma felt a hand on her arm, the fingers clutching nervously, almost politely. “Her temperature is getting worse.” The young woman, her sandy blond hair hanging in clumps in her face, was looking at her with a wild optimism that made Emma feel like a fraud. “Could you come and see her?”
And do what?
“Of course,” Emma smiled, following the girl to her friend. She’d been brought in during the night when the ‘clinic’ was being set up. She lay shivering on a bare mattress, dark stains all around her. Emma lifted her chart, little more than a sheet of paper from one of the cruise line’s notepads and pretended to examine it. ‘Lucy’ scrawled just below Seaborne’s elaborate goldleaf logo.
The vitals noted by Ryan showed a clear trajectory. She wasn’t bleeding from any orifices yet, but her temperature was dangerously high, her blood pressure dangerously low and her blood urea nitrogen and creatinine were elevated. Her kidneys were failing and she was haemorrhaging internally.
Emma couldn’t waste resources on her.
“I’ll get her something right away,” she told Lucy’s friend. The girl flashed a relieved smile, slipping her hands into two plastic bags. She put a damp cloth on Lucy’s pink forehead.
All Emma could give her were electrolytes.
“We thought she was just seasick, she’d been feeling iffy since before yesterday, but we thought maybe it was from the sunburn. We made her come to the pool deck party last night.”
Lucy’s friend wasn’t showing symptoms yet, but Emma had let her stay because she didn’t have enough healthy people to look after the sick. The girl was using plastic bags to protect herself.
It was shameful.
Emma made her way across the lounge, trying to muster a smile and a kind, reassuring word as she went. A teenage boy with acute diarrhoea and vomiting would be prioritised for antiemetics and loperamide. It would make his death more comfortable, but his mother thought it was treatment. A wife was told her husband would get diazepam within the hour. The woman was just a wrinkled face to Emma, they were all blurring into one swarming mass of people she couldn’t help. The woman’s husband had a rash over his chest and stomach that looked like a war-torn archipelago. A diffuse erythematous maculopapular rash that was also desquamate.
He wouldn’t survive the next three days. A sedative would ease his suffering.
It was inhuman.
Disaster triage, ‘resource allocation based on potential medical benefit’ was what medical textbooks called it.
She’d have to sedate most of her patients soon, she couldn’t keep this act up indefinitely.
Emma had crossed a line during the night, entering unexplored, ethically gray territory. She would have her medical license revoked for it. She was lying to her patients to keep them calm, giving them placebos because there wasn’t enough of the real thing.
She had to lie. Ebola was terrifying enough. Ebola without anyway for the ship’s doctor to treat it would cause total hysteria, endangering everyone on-board.
“Five more incoming,” Ryan sighed, a walkie-talkie held in a gloved hand that hung loosely by his side. They were probably both infected.
A patient could present with symptoms anywhere between two days and three weeks after exposure to it. A week was the average.
It was only a matter of time before he started experiencing nausea and an elevated temperature. Emma wasn’t throwing up yet, but she knew it would come. Fatigue was the first symptom. Extreme fatigue. The long hours she was working in the clinic masked it for the first day or so, now she could feel the tell-tale achiness in her joints, the oversensitivity of her skin. She wouldn’t be able to control the shivering soon.
“Ryan,” she thudded heavily across what had been the marble dancefloor a few days ago to where her nurse was checking someone’s temperature. “How many have we lost?” she asked in a whisper, tiptoeing around the truth, afraid to wake it.
“Forty-five.”
Emma had forgotten. He’d told her at sunrise. Emma never forgot details like this, but now she couldn’t hold onto to basic information. Couldn’t concentrate.
“Are the opiates still in the clinic?” Emma wasn’t sure why she was asking, she had the key to the medical stores and if she did need the morphine and acetaminophen and other painkillers she would get them herself.
“Yes,” said Ryan, but there was a question in his eyes.
Emma was looking for permission. She wanted to ease the suffering, but Morphine could be lethal to someone already presenting with low blood pressure.
“Doctor, you need to sit down. You need to rest.”
“I’m going to do another round.”
“Miss Atkinson is already…”
Emma tried to turn, but her feet wouldn’t follow her body’s lead. She stumbled awkwardly, almost falling into a row of patients lying on haphazardly arranged mattresses. They’d been in orderly rows last night.
A hand caught her arm, holding her up.
“One hand for the ship, doctor.” Rachel smiled at her like they were waiting for the dinner announcement. “I’ve asked some of the crew to clean things up a bit, I hope you don’t mind? I think the smell is what gets to people most. I know it does me.”
That smile again.
Emma’s opinion of the CEO had been low even before the emergency meeting in the captain’s office two nights ago. Now she was convinced she must be crazy. Worrying about the cleanliness of her lounge with death all around them, closing in like a creeping tide. She’d been going from one passenger to the next, making chit-chat and cracking jokes for the last hour.
“Of course.”
Emma hadn’t given sanitation a thought for hours. Early this morning some of the crew already quarantined in the lounge had volunteered to help, but she needed an army to empty buckets, clean up feces and vomit, hand out water and fresh towels, let alone actually try to treat any of the more than two hundred people now crammed into the room.
Even if she did have the medicine and equipment she needed, she didn’t have enough hands.
“You are going to sit here behind the bar and rest for half an hour,” Emma hadn’t realised Rachel was leading her to the other side of the lounge, through a maze of makeshift screens and mattresses. “We’re going to clean up, then I’m going to have a chat with you about what you need.”
“Medicine,” said Emma. “Need more. We’ve run out of…”
“We can get it airlifted from Bermuda,” said Rachel, handing Emma a bottle of water. “Have something to drink and close your eyes for a few minutes.”
Emma was sitting now. Perched on a footstool, her head below the bar’s countertop so that all she could see were bottles of water on shelves all around her. There were more than two hundred bottles of water stoked behind the bar, she’d noted it down somewhere. Rachel said there were another eleven thousand available in the hold.
“I’m going to have to start sedating patients soon,” said Emma. “As more die, those left are going to get increasingly agitated.”
“That’s not necessary yet.” Rachel was kneeling in front of her. “Doctor,” she waited for Emma to lift her eyes. “Promise me you won’t do that yet.”
Emma nodded, looking down at her gloved hands. The gloves were unnecessary now, serving as part of a costume rather than a purpose.
“Tristan?” Rachel was looking for a member of the cruise staff, her voice carrying over the moaning of a man nearby. “Is there any way for us to discreetly put out a call for volunteers to help here? The doctor’s overwhelmed, we need as many of our first aid people as we can get.”
“I’ll ask security to pass the word.”
“I’ll call Richard,” Rachel lifted the phone behind the bar. “We need to get supplies airlifted from Hamilton.”
Rachel was taking over her clinic, but Emma could only feel relief.
She hadn’t been alone like this since the day before yesterday. Was that the last time she slept? Emma couldn’t remember, but she could remember how many bottles of water there were. How many patients were there in the lounge now? She needed to ask Ryan. Should be keeping a runny tally. Why wasn’t she able to remember these details? Emma flicked through her notebook and found the page.
124
142
156
179
192
203?
Why had she put a question mark next to it? She must have intended to double check with Ryan. She’d do a headcount herself, he was as overworked as her. She made a note to find out the total number of Ebola cases throughout the ship.
Shouldn’t be sitting here doing nothing.
“…almost heaven, West Virginia, blue ridge mountain, Shenandoah river…”
Emma stood up, incredulous. Singing. Her patients were singing. It was just a few people at first, the Philipino staff mainly, who, despite being sick, had also volunteered to help in trying to keep the lounge clean.
“life is old there, older than the trees…”
They were being led by Rachel, standing in front of a group of children all singing along, clapping out of time. There were thirty-five children in the lounge. Emma could remember that. Almost all the children on-board.
“younger than the mountains, growing like a breeze…”
Most of them had been brought in by parents who weren’t sick yet. Emma had intended to enforce a strict quarantine, but couldn’t separate children from their parents.
Everyone was infected anyway. Quarantine was a plan that failed as soon as it started.
The voices grew, spreading through the lounge until everyone who had the energy was singing, joining in on the chorus, some filming on their phones.
“country road, take me home, to a place I belong…”
Rachel had lifted a small boy up, his hands in the air in glee, beaming at his dad like he’d won a prize. Jack, though his mother called him Jackie. She was feverish behind one of the curtains; she would likely die during the night. His father wasn’t showing symptoms yet. He might survive until they reached Miami. His son wouldn’t.
“West Virginia, mountain mamma…”
The doors closest to the bar opened, two security guards with tasers at the ready and ten crewmen in masks and gloves, come to remove the bodies.
“take me home, country road.”
Rachel caught Emma’s eye and launched into the chorus once more.
With most patients in the lounge distracted by Rachel and the children, Emma stumbled forward to help them lift the dead. She’d been focusing so much on what medication and treatments her patients needed, and dwelling on her inability to provide it, that she’d forgotten one of the worst parts about being ill.
Boredom.
She watched the first three bodies carried to one of the elevators on the other side of the lobby and tried to remember how many had died. What had Ryan said? She needed to see what was being done with the bodies, she had to make sure they were being treated respectfully.
She gestured to Rachel and then stumbled over to the lift, catching the alarmed glance of a passenger on a mattress closest to the door. By tomorrow, even Rachel wouldn’t be able to keep the flood gates closed. Panic was going to set in tonight. Several dozen people were unlikely to make it through to the morning and with death on every other mattress in the lounge, Emma and Rachel’s deception would be laid bare.
She wasn’t escaping, she would come back. She wasn’t abandoning them.
By tomorrow, she would be incapacitated anyway, and would be unable to control the diarrhea. She’d end up soiling herself like so many of her patients, whose shame she’d had to ignore as she or one of the crew helped them clean themselves.
It was absurd, but this was what scared her most. Not death.

Now you’re hooked, right? How about you add it to your reading pile in Goodreads? Click here to do so.  Or, maybe you’re ready to buy right now – here’s the Amazon link.

***

Shaun Ebelthite was born in Namibia, raised in South Africa and educated in Dubai in the Middle East where he is a maritime and cruise journalist. He has been covering all aspects of ocean transport for more than five years and runs the Middle East’s foremost online cruise magazine. He has had two children’s books published, and is now branching out into a new genre with his first thriller.

Cruise Arabia (https://cruisearabiaonline.com)

There you have it. A wonderful thriller awaits you. If you do choose to read White Water, Black Death, please leave a review afterwards. Reviews keep authors writing 🙂

Thanks for reading!

 

Author friends · book news · Christmas · Nativity

Never read my newsletter?

To be honest, you’re not alone.

This newsletter lark is a relatively new thing for me, and I thought I’d share the latest one with you because

From me to you at Christmastime.

It’s December already, where did the year go? Are you busy making plans for the holidays? I won’t keep you long.
Here in Spain, things are a little more relaxed. Okay, so isn’t everything? Christmas is not as commercialised as back in the UK; in fact when I first moved over here you couldn’t find Christmas decorations or a Santa’s Grotto anywhere. Of course, such tranquillity couldn’t last forever, and these days, at this time of year, Papá Noel is a more frequent sight. However, I’m delighted to say that the Spanish traditions are still the best part of Christmas for me.

Today, we’re off to the Plaza de la Constitución to see “Los Gigantes y Los Cabezudos”, aka the Parade of the Giants and the Bigheads. (Think “It’s a Knockout meets the Nativity … well, sort of) There are ten of these parades over the coming days and it gets crazier with each one.


Later in the week, the Belén will be installed in the Plaza. This is a Nativity scene on a grand scale – with moving parts and lights … I love it.(It’s the Dolls House fan in me – I can’t resist anything in miniature!) These photos are from last year … and it gets bigger and better every time.

Different, isn’t it? The detailing is amazing, and to walk around the whole scene takes some time and lots of elbow-dodging as people stop at whim to take photos. What do you think? Is there anything like this in your neck of the woods? There’s another reason why I love going to see these things … the Valor chocolate shop is right opposite the Plaza and they do the best, best, best hot chocolate on the planet.Trust me, I’ve sampled many – purely for research purposes, of course. (Valor is the Spanish equivalent of Cadbury – yep, just like my dogs, I can sniff out my favourite food blindfolded!)

So, apart from being rich in culture and tradition, December is when we down tools and spend more time seeing friends and family, exchanging gifts, eating too much, watching Christmas movies and partaking of a tipple or three with neighbours. But, in this Virtual world, we can’t do any of that, so I’m sending you some book recommendations that will entertain you when you can no longer get off the sofa (or you just want to bury your head in a good story and avoid talking to your family!)

My recommendations are all by authors whose books I’ve read myself, so I can guarantee you’ll enjoy these.

This first one is time-sensitive, as the offer expires on Dec 5th, but it’s such a great deal that I really wanted to include it. My good friend, Amy M. Reade, has written one of the books in this boxset of 12 Christmas-themed stories, and I’ve already put my order in.
Twelve never-before published Christmas-themed cosy mysteries from twelve best-selling authors:
Baby, It’s Cold Outside by Abby L. Vandiver
The Most Wonderful Crime of the Year by Judith Lucci
Stollen Time by Amy Vansant
Death by Rum Balls by Colleen Mooney
The Worst Noel by Amy M. Reade
The Case of the Curious Biscuit by Nell Goddin
Devil in a Black Suit by Colleen Helme
Frankincence, Gold and Murder by Kim Hunt Harris
A View to a Chill by Larissa Reinhart
Christmas Chocolate and Crimes by Cindy Bell
Home for the Holidays by Summer Prescott
Murder at the Holiday Bazaar by Kathryn Dionne

plus a bonus recipe book!
and, since all cosy mysteries have animals, ALL proceeds from the sale go to help animals in need! (That’s a “YES” from me every time)
Click here for The 12 Slays of Christmas and grab your 99p/99c copy (yep,12 books for less than a pound/dollar/euro! – a bargain indeed.)

***

Next up, is a short story by my fellow Brit and good buddy, DM Wolfenden – an author with a talent for gritty, psychological drama. I one-click most anything Dianne releases because I just know it’s going to be fab-u-lous! (Although, I do draw a line at her horror stories – jeez, she freaks me out with those!)
Take a look at Carly:

“Her cousin, Lisa, disappeared. Her family murdered in front of her. Held in prison for her kidnapper’s murder, she has to find a way to save Lisa.”

Read the reviews here and make up your own mind.
Amazon UK
Amazon US

***

How about another short story? I’m sure this one by my dear friend, Cathy McGough, will resonate with many of you.
Such a cool title – and this is the first in a new series, so grab it now and stay ahead of the game – Book 2 isn’t far away and you wouldn’t want to be left behind.

“Christina Langdon works at a Call Centre. For fun she hits the gym! When the CEO of Goddess Creator Fashions invites her to a modelling bootcamp, Christina is intrigued.
Join Christina on her Goddess journey. Who knows, you might even be inspired to start one of your own!”

As someone who has read – and loved – this story, let me give you an inside tip – save this until after Christmas when you’ll get so much more out of it!
Buy your copy from Amazon UK here, or Amazon US

***

My final treat for you is from the lovely Iris Chacon. If you’re in need of some Winter sunshine, you should read Iris’s books; they all come with that “Sunshine State of mind” since Iris is from Florida, and truly is the most positive and sunny person ever.
Her latest book is Lou’s Tattoos, and is released today, December 1st – so another scoop 😉 If you fancy a fun-packed story, with real Floridian humour, then buckle up and read on:

“Tattooist Lourdes O’Malley idolises photog Galen Randall, but when he pursues her, her motorcycle gang fan/clients mistake Randall for a mob hitman trying to kill Lou. Galen Randall fears no elephant, python, rhino or lion through his camera lens, but he’s deathly afraid of airplanes. A random seat assignment pairs him with Lou O’Malley and puts him in the crosshairs of a clumsy, well-intentioned, ill-informed bevy of biker buffoons.”

You can find out more and pick up an early copy here.
Amazon UK
Amazon US

***
I hope you’ve enjoyed looking through my Christmas plans and are tempted by some of these books.

Let me just wish you all a very MERRY CHRISTMAS and I’ll see you again in the New Year.

Stay safe, warm and smiling!

By the way, here’s the link if you fancy joining my mailing list for more of the same.

Newsletter/Mailing list

You’d be most welcome – and there’ll be no spam – ever!!!

As always, thanks for reading 🙂