Author Eugenia Lovett West Introduces FIREWALL An Emma Streat Mystery

 

 

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Former opera singer Emma Streat has survived the murder of her husband and the destruction of her beautiful old house. Now a full-time single mother, she struggles to move forward and make a home for her two sons. Because of her detection skills, she has become a go-to person for help–so, when her rich, feisty, socialite godmother is blackmailed, she turns immediately to Emma. Soon, Emma founds herself thrust into the dark world of cybercrime. Mounting challenges take her to exclusive European settings where she mixes with top people in the financial and art collecting worlds and has intriguing and emotion-packed experiences with men–including her dynamic ex-lover, Lord Andrew Rodale. When she is targeted by a cybercrime network using cutting-edge technology, it takes all of Emma’s resilience and wits to survive and bring the wily, ruthless criminal she’s hunting to justice. Action-packed and full of twists and turns, this third book of the Emma Streat Mystery series does not disappoint!

 

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Excerpt

 

 

Chapter 1

 

Excerpted from Firewall: An Emma Streat Mystery by Eugenia Lovett West. Copyright © 2019 Eugenia Lovett West. All rights reserved. Published by SparkPress. 

March 25

 

A spring blizzard was cascading snow over Boston’s Public Garden. I poured my first cup of coffee and went to the living room window of my temporary apartment. People going to work struggled along the paths, heads bent, feet slipping. I watched, glad that in a few days I’d be on an island in the Caribbean. Lying in the sun with a man. Finding out if a dynamic former relationship could be renewed.

 

My phone on the counter sounded its little chime. I picked it up and saw that the call was from my godmother, Caroline Vogt. She never called before noon, but today the gravelly tuba voice reverberated in my ear.

 

“Emma, I need you, and I need you now.” 

 

This was demanding, even for Caroline. I took a deep breath. “Why do you need me? Are you still down in the Keys?” 

 

“I’m back in New York and something has happened.” 

 

“What?”

 

“Oh God, I can’t believe it, but someone’s trying to blackmail me.”

 

Blackmail? When?” 

 

“Just now. I was simply sitting in my bed, eating my breakfast, and the doorbell rang. Minnie went to open it. No one was there, just a note shoved under the door telling me to pay a million dollars to an account in a Miami bank. Pay it today. If I don’t, my dirty little secret will go to the media tomorrow. All the media.” The tuba voice wobbled. 

 

I shifted the phone. Caroline’s usual reaction to trouble was assault mode. Strike back. Never show weakness. This call for help was totally out of character—and the timing couldn’t be worse.

 

“Look. I can see why you’re upset,” I said, trying to apply calm. “Blackmail is nasty, but it happens. The dirty little secret bit— everyone has secrets and that person is just trying to scare you. If you’re really worried, I think you should call the police or a detective. Someone who has real expertise.” 

 

“No. Absolutely not. I won’t have strangers prying into my business. You’re the person we all trust in a crisis. You found Lewis’s killer. You exposed those virus terrorists and saved your niece Vanessa. You have credentials. You have to find this bastard before he comes back and wants more.” 

 

“Wait. Let me think.” I pushed back my hair. No way did I want to be the family detective, involved in another crisis, but Caroline was now in her eighties, a mega heiress from Chicago, a fixture in New York society. Divorced four times, no children. I was the closest thing she had to family and she was frightened. I must go, but with any luck I could still get to that island. Spend three days sorting her out, then fly there from New York. 

 

“Emma?” 

 

“I’m here. Listen. It’s snowing hard in Boston, a freak storm, but I’ll try for a flight today. Failing that, I’ll take the train. I’ll let you know. Relax, no need to be paranoid. Love you,” I said and clicked off. 

 

A siren went shrieking down Arlington Street, the sound that signaled trouble. I sat down on the stool at the counter and reminded myself that I owed Caroline. She had been my unfailing support from the day I was born. She had taken the place of my dead mother. Fourteen months ago she had given me a stern lecture: 

 

“You’re still young. You survived losing your rising opera career. You’ve done a superb job bringing up those two hunks of boys, but now they’re off to college. Cut the cord and let them go. You’ve got the money and the energy to do something important. Different.” 

 

Good advice, but three days later, my husband was murdered and my world had gone up in flames along with my beautiful old house on the Connecticut River. I still had Jake and Steve, but creating a new life wasn’t easy. It was time, past time, to move forward. 

 

I took a deep breath and picked up a pad of paper. First, call the airlines, then cancel this morning’s appointment for a haircut. Start packing. 

 

By now experience should have taught me that one small incident can spiral into a tsunami of trouble. But no siren sounded, warning me that by helping Caroline I would be targeted by a network of cybercriminals. No way of knowing that her call would take me to many countries, lead to heartbreak, and nearly cost me my life. 

 

Excerpted from Firewall: An Emma Streat Mystery by Eugenia Lovett West. Copyright © 2019 Eugenia Lovett West. All rights reserved. Published by SparkPress.

 

 

Eugenia Lovett

 

 

About the Author:

Eugenia Lovett West is the author of Firewall: An Emma Streat Mystery. Eugenia was born in Boston, Massachusetts. Her father was Reverend Sidney Lovett, the widely known and loved former chaplain at Yale. She attended Sarah Lawrence College and worked for Harper’s Bazaar and the American Red Cross. Then came marriage, four children, volunteer work, and freelancing for local papers. Her first novel, The Ancestors Cry Out, was published by Doubleday; it was followed by two mysteries, Without Warning and Overkill, published by St. Martin’s Press. West divides her time between Essex, Connecticut, and Holderness, New Hampshire, where she summers with her large extended family. For more information, please visit http://www.eugenialovettwest.com

 

 

Glenfinnan Railway Viaduct in Scotland with the Jacobite steam train against sunset over lake

Book Recommendations with Regan from Peruse Project

 

IT’S TELEVISION TUESDAY

 

 

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Book Recommendations with Peruse Project

 

 

 

 

Regan @peruseproject

 

 

 

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Interview with Neel Mullick Author of Dark Blossom

Dark Blossom

 

 

Sam returns home from a business trip a day before his son’s thirteenth birthday and is looking forward to being with his family, when his world is cruelly shattered in one fell swoop. Initially he thinks he can cope with the loss, but finally seeks the help of Cynthia, an experienced therapist, to regain his equipoise. What he does not know is that Cynthia herself is trying to cope with a debilitating divorce and the sinister shadow of her ex-husband over her daughter…

What happens when doctor and patient find themselves in the same sinking boat? Moreover, when they are rowing in opposite directions–one clinging to the past, and the other unable to get rid of it! In the midst of it all is Lily, Cynthia’s daughter, who harbours a secret that has the power to explode the lives around her.

 

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Interview with Neel Mullick

 

Dark Blossom. I love the title of this book. Was this your first fiction book? What’s the story behind it? (No pun intended)

Thanks! To be honest, the title appeared to me in a dream. And since I’m being honest, I must also admit that I fell into writing rather serendipitously as well. Dark Blossom is indeed my first work of fiction and both the story and the characters were more or less cleaved by an imagination that had run amok at a time when I was struggling with empathy in my life.

While the characters are all very different from me and the ordeals faced by them are exaggerations of what I was going through, my innate spirit wanted to describe their experiences and interactions in a way that was entertaining for readers. This duality of finding entertainment and perhaps even levity in daily strife exists in everyone including my characters and the title from my dream captured that essence. Here’s a snippet from my book launch on that topic: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iodpyiw4Z7Y&t=3s

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What do you enjoy most about storytelling?

Given how and when I fell into storytelling, I soon found writing to be an unbridled expression of empathy. First, I needed it for my characters to allow them a full and vibrant range of expression and then, for my readers to help them partake of such expression in a riveting way. So writing afforded me a double dose of empathy if you will – and it helped fill that personal void in my life too.

In retrospect though, there is one other thing about writing and storytelling that I enjoyed as much. Call me a masochist, but I fell in love with playing around with language – its syntax, semantics, and subtleties, all of it! How a word here instead of there, a moved punctuation, or a replaced synonym can affect the way people understand intellectually and perceive viscerally is all very fascinating. As a life-long learner too, I think I have fallen in love with this process of reflection followed by articulation.

 

 

Which came first idea, theme, or character?

If I were to think about just the idea and the characters, I would have to say it’s a judicious mix. In order for a story to take place, not only must the idea be important to the characters but also they must have something important to say about it. Once this scaffolding is in place, then the idea might change less and the theme is driven by its interplay with the characters, but it’s the characters that really have to evolve the most. They have to – to fight increasing stakes, win small battles, and eventually come out on top at the end of the war!

 

 

What’s your method for character creation?

Good stories take place at the intersection of personal authenticity and people’s perceptions. Ergo, good characters must be borne from a place of sincerity. If that’s not the case, then it will be difficult to convince readers. Once I am able to make this genuine empathic connection with my characters, I follow a five-step process to give them substance – Read, Research, Reflect, Rest, and Repeat. First, I read and research a lot and this includes conversations with people who might provide inspiration. Then I let it percolate by backing off completely after a period of reflection, of course. Lastly, I find myself having to go back to the start of the loop at times when I get stuck.

 

What can you tell us about Sam?

Phew! Now that’s a toughie. Let me explain. Part of the inspiration behind the novel is my belief that the solution to a rapidly fracturing world lies in peeling enough layers to discover the similarities, rather than judging on mere superficialities. And Sam’s character is supposed to catalyze readers to reflect on how we judge the motives of those around us. In fact, I have even incentivized such reflection with a contest at www.WinTrip2NY.com.

So while Sam’s loss and his tribulations are real, his characterization has been somewhat abstract. Let it suffice to say that he is an immigrant who has assimilated well and is unsure about how to cope with a very deep loss.

 

Who is Cynthia and what role does she play in the story?

Cynthia is a psychologist and she finds herself alone with her patient and her daughter in a sinking boat. Moreover, they all seem to be rowing away from one another. While trying to heal from a debilitating divorce, Cynthia is helping her patient, Sam, who is struggling with the worst kind of loss there is. She is also trying to mend her relationship with her daughter, Lily, who is not only fighting her own demons but also holding on to a secret that has the power to explode the lives around her.

 

 

What was your experience writing the point of view?

From the very beginning, I wanted to narrate the story from Cynthia’s perspective. This was daunting since I am neither a woman psychologist nor do I share a cultural background with her. So I knew I was trying to fill shoes much larger than my own and I had to both step out of my comfort zone and dig deep. And I’d like to believe that I have grown much as a person because of it. So not only was the process personally gratifying but also her perspective turned out to be most relevant for the plot.

 

 

Was it easy writing about flawed characters? 

Aren’t we all?! But yes, confronting these flaws, let alone embracing or articulating them, is never easy. Fortunately, I strongly believe that such duality exists in all of us and I’m quite comfortable with both my flaws and my struggles with them. Even though writing about these flaws in characters that are different from me wasn’t easy, the fact that I enjoyed this process helped me immensely. Now, as to whether or not I was able to do justice to such expression – I think I’ll let readers be the judge of that.

 

 

What’s next for you?

I have only recently started researching and outlining my next novel. It’s also going to be narrated from the perspective of a young woman, Abigail, who has just started her first job as a nanny at a prominent bureaucrat’s home. The story starts with her charge, six-year-old Stewart, fighting for his life in the pool. And Abigail soon discovers that June, the boy’s older sister, may have been the one who pushed him in.

 

 

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Neel Mullick is the author of Dark Blossom. The Head of Product and Information Security at a Belgian family-office technology company, Mullick is a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University and INSEAD. He mentors female entrepreneurs through the Cherie Blaire Foundation for Women, is involved in raising a generation of digital and socially aware leaders with Nigeria’s Steering for Greatness Foundation, supports improvement in the quality of life of domestic workers through Peru’s Emprendedoras del Hogar, and works with IIMPACT in India to help break the cycle of illiteracy plaguing young girls from socially and economically impoverished communities. Dark Blossom is his first novel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Author Karen A. Wyle releases her new novel: Water to Water

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Two young Vushla questioned what everyone knew about death. What should they do with the answer?

When the time comes for Vushla to die, they go into the ocean and are dissolved away. Or so Terrill has always believed, and still believes after taking part in his father’s final journey. But when he meets a young Vushlu who lives by the sea, Terrill must confront information that calls this fundamental belief into question. Will the two of them discover the truth? And what should they do with what they find?

 

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Questionmark at the Wall

 

 

 

*How did you come up with the title for this book? It sounds rather poetic.

–The idea came from a familiar phrase in the English Burial Service: “ashes to ashes, dust to dust.”

 

*What exactly is a Vushla?

–The Vushla (plural — singular is Vushlu) are one of the sentient species on a planet humans haven’t found. They could be described as a cross between a centaur and a tortoise: their general body configuration is that of a centaur, and they are largely covered by many small plates of a hard substance they (and their neighbor species, the Weesah) refer to as armor. The armor is often moved as part of gestures and body language. I envision them as roughly human-sized.

 

*Tell us how the idea for this book came about.

–That was a first for me. The way Vushla typically meet death came to me as an image in a dream. My husband contributed a key plot twist.

 

*What is the connection between the Vushla, water, and death?

–As described in the Preface and in the book blurb, when a Vushlu knows it is dying (I use “it” for unidentified Vushla and Weesah, and he or she for individuals of known gender), it tries to get to the ocean, where it swims or wades into the surf to dissolve away. If it dies on the journey, the friends and relatives accompanying it on the funeral journey hire fisher folk (who have custom-made waterproof suits) to carry the body into the ocean.

 

Whether there are other connections . . . you’ll need to read the book to find out. 🙂

 

*Was your approach different in writing this book?

 

The origin — a dream, as I mentioned above — was different. Otherwise, I did what I usually do: wrote a (very) rough draft during National Novel Writing Month, aka NaNoWriMo or NaNo; put it aside for a month or so; did multiple revisions and editing passes over the next nine months; sent it to beta readers and made more revisions based on their comments; did the final proofread/edits; and published it (as a preorder) on Amazon and Google Play and via Draft2Digital. (The paperback will, I hope, be ready by the release date of October 17th, at least on Amazon. B&N will take a little longer due to a cumbersome proofing process.)

 

*What comes first the idea or theme?

 

That’s an interesting question, especially this time around. What thematic concerns inspired that dream? I can’t say for sure. I certainly had both mortality and parent-child relationships on my mind, as my father died a little more than six months before NaNo began. (I don’t remember exactly when I had the dream, but I would guesstimate it was a month or so before NaNo.)

 

*What was your experience like writing Water to Water?

 

I can generally keep up with or stay slightly ahead of the pace NaNo requires (an average of 1,667 words per day), and this time was no exception. My confidence in the story fluctuated about as much as usual — which is to say, frequently but not to the point of either ecstatic certainty or profound gloom. I frequently consulted my general science adviser, aka my husband Paul Hager, on various aspects of world-building.

I approached cover design a little differently this time. I’ve most often collaborated with a particular designer, but that collaboration works best when I have some fairly definite starting ideas. This time, the one idea I had felt insufficient. I decided to spring boldly into the red, financially speaking, and invest in a cover from a designer (or rather, a group of designers) I’d long admired, Damonza. I am delighted with the result, which has gotten consistently favorable comment during the book’s Silver Dagger Book Tour (continuing through October 26th).

 

 

 

Karen A Wyle

 

Karen A. Wyle is the author of multiple science fiction novels, including The Twin-Bred Series: Books 1-3; near-future novels DivisionPlayback Effect, and Who: a novel of the near future; and YA near-future novel The Link. Her one novel (so far) outside the SF category is afterlife fantasy/family drama Wander Home. She has also published one nonfiction work, Closest to the Fire: A Writer’s Guide to Law and Lawyers, a resource for authors or for anyone interested in understanding more about American law.

Wyle was born a Connecticut Yankee, but eventually settled in Bloomington, Indiana, home of Indiana University. She now considers herself a Hoosier. Wyle’s childhood ambition was to be the youngest ever published novelist. While writing her first novel at age 10, she was mortified to learn that some British upstart had beaten her to the goal at age 9.

Wyle is an appellate attorney, photographer, political junkie, and mother of two wildly creative daughters. Her voice is the product of almost five decades of reading both literary and genre fiction. It is no doubt also influenced, although she hopes not fatally tainted, by her years of law practice. Her personal history has led her to focus on often-intertwined themes of family, communication, the impossibility of controlling events, and the persistence of unfinished business.

 

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