Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Had someone died? #LoveUnderFire excerpt via @aplazar

Carmen passed two men in white uniforms urgently pushing an empty gurney along the hall. No smiles, no greetings. Just full speed ahead.
She’d never seen them before. Could they be weekend staff brought in to help in Rocco’s absence? 
Was someone ill? 
Worse, had someone died?
Were they ambulance attendants? 
The men didn’t look like the normal paramedics she’d seen around town. Then again, she’d only worked over a week here, and there were probably many workers she hadn’t run into yet.
When she reached the nurse’s office, she found Detective Ritchie sitting with Mrs. Hood and Nurse Blair. She passed through the room, trying to catch Ritchie’s eye. 
“Carmen?” The detective noticed, and crooked a finger in her direction. “Can you spare a moment?”
Mrs. Hood half stood. “This girl doesn’t have time for interviews. She’s needed in the next room.”
Ritchie held her hand palm out at Hood. “One moment, please. I need to share the latest news with her, and then she can be on her way.”
News? Carmen’s heart skipped a beat. Had they found Rocco?
Nobody was smiling with relief. In fact, the mood between the three women was somber. Far too somber. 
She approached Detective Ritchie. “Did you find him?”
The detective bit her lip. “Sorry, no.” She stood and took Carmen’s hand. “But we found his wallet.”
Carmen clutched Ritchie’s sleeve. All the emotion she’d so carefully tamped down while working that day suddenly burst out of her. “Oh my God. Where?”
“It was on the beach parking lot, covered with snow, so we assume he drove there the night he disappeared. Today, with the bright sun, it began to melt. Someone turned it in an hour ago.” 
The world spun. Carmen clutched the side of the desk. “Then where is he?” she whispered.
“We have two theories. Either he was attacked and robbed last night down by the beach…”
Carmen’s eyes blazed. “You mean they kidnapped him, too?”
“It’s possible.” Ritchie raised one eyebrow. “But the other option isn’t so nice. He may have walked into the bay.”
Mrs. Hood straightened her shoulders, looking puzzled. “Suicide?”
Nurse Blair sputtered, “Not our Rocco.”
Carmen felt the blood drain from her face. Had Rocco harbored a secret depression? Did he have demons he never shared? She wobbled, then blinked hard. “No. He wouldn’t have.” She locked eyes with Ritchie. “It makes no sense. Where’s his car, then? It would be in the lot if he did something that crazy.” She shook her head adamantly. 
Mrs. Hood snorted. “Ridiculous.”
“Someone may have stolen the car, especially if he left the keys in it.” 
“No. He was taken,” Carmen said.
Ritchie’s eyes widened. “What makes you think—”
An eruption occurred in the sunroom, visible through the window. Lolly was dancing on the puzzle table, kicking pieces gleefully all over the room. Evie—the mousy little nursing assistant—stood beside the table, wringing her hands and begging Lolly to get down. She didn’t seem to have much effect on the crowd, which now erupted into chaos. Magazines flew through the air, a table was overturned, and almost every one of the residents were either sobbing or shrieking with laughter, standing on chairs and clapping for Lolly. 
“Get in there,” Hood shouted to Carmen and Nurse Blair. “Now.” 
“Come back when you’re done,” Ritchie hissed. “I need to know what you meant by that.”
“Of course. Be back as soon as I can.” Carmen rushed into the sunroom at the same time that she saw her mother push through the visitor door with her usual basket of goodies. Shocked that Rosita would follow through on her daily routine while in the middle of the Rocco disappearance, she ran to her side. “Mom? What are you doing here?”
Rosita set the aromatic basket behind the television set and waved her daughter off. “I had to do something, Carmencita. I can’t just sit around all day and worry.” Before they could say more, Rosita walked steadily toward Lolly, who still danced like a Woodstock hippie on top of the table, head down with her long hair swirling about her, arms outstretched, and her feet propelling her in small circles. 
“Miss Lolly!” Rosita said firmly. “En el nombre de Dios! What are you doing?”
The residents stopped in their tracks, watching and shuffling back to their seats. Several eyed the basket of cookies. 
Lolly’s head shot up. “Rosita?” She flushed, slumped to a crouch on the table, and held out her hands. “Rosita, they’ve taken my Rocco.”
Evie helped a few residents back to their seats in front of the television. Carmen reached up to help Lolly down from the table. 
Once on solid ground, the woman ran to Rosita, falling into her arms. “Oh, Rosita. He’s gone. Everyone says they took him.”
Rosita’s eyes widened. “What did you say, Miss Lolly?”
“Who’s everyone?” Carmen leaned in closer. “Who took him, Lolly? What have you heard?”
Lolly’s eyes shifted in terror toward the nurse’s office. She whispered in Carmen’s ear, “The mean ones.”
“Do you mean Mrs. Hood?” Carmen glanced sideways at the woman who still sat with the detective with a haughty expression on her face. Could she have hurt Rocco? And why in God’s name would she?
“You said ‘the mean ones,’ Lolly. Who exactly do you mean?”
Lolly’s expression softened and she fixed her eyes on the basket. “Cookies? For me?”
“Yes, Miss Lolly. Snickerdoodles today.” Rosita exchanged a puzzled glance with her daughter, mouthing the words someone took him? 
Carmen put a finger to her lips. “I’m going to find out what happened. Can you stay with Lolly? Keep asking her questions, but don’t let the staff hear you.”
“Okay, cariƱo.”
Mr. Harvey sat on the ground, a dazed look on his face. A small scratch bled over one eye.
Carmen called to Nurse Blair, “I’m going to take Mr. Harvey down to his room to clean him up. Is that okay?”
Blair nodded impatiently, still trying to calm one of the more excited patients. “Fine, fine. Grab the first aid kit on your way there. But come right back once you get him settled.”
“Yes, Nurse Blair.”
Gently, she bent down to speak to Mr. Harvey. “Would you like to come with me? I can clean up that scratch and get you a Band-Aid.”
He looked up into Carmen’s eyes with relief. “Oh, yes. Please, Miss.”
“Call me Carmen, remember?” She smiled at him and helped him to his feet. “Come now. Let’s get you to your room.”
With hand gestures and a wave at Detective Ritchie that implied she’d return after tending to her patient, she slowly walked the shaking man down the hall.

Excerpt from The Asylum
By Aaron Paul Lazar
Included in Love Under Fire



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Sunday, August 19, 2018

The first bullet whizzed by my head

The first bullet whizzed by my head. I saw a flash of light but couldn’t make sense of what was happening even when the shell found a target behind me. I stood, frozen in place, on the front porch of the elegant private cottage Aunt Letty’s lawyer reserved for me. I hugged Marlowe who was barking fiercely and took a step backward into the foyer. Marlowe wriggled free and jumped to the floor. 
A hand holding a white Stetson whacked the porch light, shattering the fixture and the bulb. The owner of the Stetson bumped into me as he bounded indoors. That sent me sliding over the polished wood floor of my rustic chic suite. I yelped as I landed on my well-padded derriere. A barrage of bullets flew over my head. 
My heart raced as the shots sank into some surfaces and ricocheted off others. When I struggled to sit up, the stranger tackled me and forced me flat onto the floor. I fought to wrestle free. Marlowe snarled and pulled furiously at the man’s sleeve. 
“Stay down,” he said as he rolled off me. He shook his arm forcefully and Marlowe tumbled, end over end. Furious, I punched the man as he kicked the door shut with a firmly planted, exquisitely carved leather boot. In almost the same motion, he reached up and yanked the lamp off a table near the entry. As the room went dark, two bullets slammed into the heavy wooden front door and sent splinters flying. 
Moonlight streamed in through the sliding doors leading outside from the great room behind me. As my eyes adjusted to the darkness, I could see the shadowy figure straining to shove the sofa in front of the door. Marlowe had a grip on his pant leg, growling, and shaking his head as he tore at the fabric. 
Were Marlowe and I hostages? I wondered as my stomach roiled in terror. 
As my would-be captor peeked through the blinds he shut, I flipped over onto my belly and scrambled, crablike, toward the safety of my master suite. The door could be bolted from inside. I didn’t get far before he grabbed me and pressed me flat again, knocking the wind out of me. This time the bullets shattered glass and the maniac returned fire shooting at someone behind us. My heart sank realizing that he had a gun. 
In the distance, I could hear a siren blaring. As it drew closer, I heard shouts, and then footsteps. The footsteps came from the deck outside my bedroom. A minute or two later, tires screeched as a vehicle took off.
“I’ve told you, already—stay down.” When he rolled away, the intruder pulled a phone from a pocket. Then he handed Marlowe to me. “Take this and keep it quiet.” 
“Rikki,” he said almost immediately after he placed a call. “I’ve got a situation on my hands.” Those sirens blared now. I imagined them racing toward us up the long driveway leading from the roadway to the cottage. 
I considered making a run for it again while the madman spoke on the phone in a low voice. The sofa blocked the front door, but maybe I could escape out the sliding doors to the deck taking the same route the gunman had used. With my luck, running in the dark, I’d impale myself on an enormous shard of glass. A piece of glass might make a good weapon, though. With my free hand, I carefully explored the ground around me, searching for anything that I could use to hurt this guy. He hadn’t even flinched when I landed a blow earlier.
“How should I know? Hang on a second, and I’ll ask her.” No longer speaking in a whisper, his voice jolted me.
“My boss has a question for you.” The glow of light from his phone lit the space around him. He was leaning back on his haunches, squatting down like a catcher behind Homeplate. 
“Who wants you dead?”

Excerpt from Lily’s Homecoming Under Fire
By Anna Celeste Burke
Included in Love Under Fire


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Manes burning, tails flaring amidst a shower of sparks


Check this out on Chirbit

The two sconces, left and right of the chamber door, still hold the remnants, and the last glimmer of their flames. From time to time, an unsteady glow glances off the blade of Goliath’s sword. 
I have been lying here, under it, for ages, it seems. Even so, it is going to be a long wait till morning comes. I raise my head from the pillow and set the crown on my head, letting myself feel its weight—and my own vanity—one last time. 
It is then that I tell myself that there is a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot.
I unfurl the scroll and—without reading what is written in it—I scribble down my own thoughts. With waning strength I prop myself up, trying to catch a glimpse of what lies out there, beyond the sheer curtain that billows, time and again, over the far window. I strain my eyes, trying to detect a shape, a hint of color. 
Perhaps, before the edge of the sky starts turning pale, I will raise myself up, somehow. I will sneak out of the palace before the guards wake up, telling no one that I am heading off to a new adventure. This time, what I seek will be entirely different. 
It will be redemption. 
Before leaving this place I will take off this heavy thing, and let it roll into the corner. 
This crown does not define who I am. 
I will find my way out, away from here, out the gate and down the stairs, into the courtyard and beyond. There stands my golden chariot. Its design, which is of Hittite origin, is renowned for having four spokes, and for being pulled by a team of horses. Looking at it used to stir me into thinking that one day, when my time comes, I will ascend to heaven in it, leaving a blazing trail of fire beneath its wheels. 
That was such a lovely, awe-inspiring thought, especially when combined with another: I used to imagine my trusty soldier, Uriah the Hittite, standing there in the chariot. 
I could just see him, waiting for me to step in and take my place by his side before he lifts his whip, cracking it to ignite a sudden flash. Then the horses would bolt into flying away, manes burning, tails flaring amidst a shower of sparks.

David in A Peek at Bathsheba


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Friday, August 17, 2018

Support Pets for Vets

I am so excited for the upcoming release of my newest novel, Virtually Lace, in the Love Under Fire boxed set! Our pre-order link went live on Amazon on August 13th, and we hit #1 already, even as a pre-order! It's so exciting, and so great for our goal to raise money to rescue animals and pair them with veterans in need of companion pets.


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This collection of 21 new novellas are being offered for a limited time as a bundle, to support the nonprofit organization Pets for Vets. We're hoping to raise money for a cause that's important to all of us, while also sharing our stories with both current fans and new readers who find us via the box set.

Monday, August 13, 2018

A Tragedy of a Man and the Other Woman

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Aurora Dawn


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 A Tragedy of a Man and the Other Woman 

Overall  ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
    
5 out of 5 stars
Performance  ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
    
5 out of 5 stars
Story  ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
    
4 out of 5 stars
Reviewed: 08-07-18
This touching and often painful story chronicles the life of a young girl captivated by an older man who is obsessed by the wife he loved and lost to Alzheimers. Told as a first person memoir from the girl's point of view, this story has the same lyrical quality I've come to expect of Poznansky's work. Lenny, the broken and obsessive husband, Anita, the wife and Ben, Lenny's son by his first wife engage in the kind of psychological struggle only a family can, haunted always by the lingering ghost of his first wife Natasha.
This story, like most great dramas, isn't always easy to hear, but you'll find yourself unable to leave it alone and the gentle, compelling voice of narrator Heather Hogan makes it a listening pleasure.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

When Love Sparks Danger, get ready for an explosion!

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From around the edges of every day existence lurks betrayal, greed, and death.

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They want to trust in the power of love. But is it enough?

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Judith Lucci – RUN for your life
Stephany Tullis – Blue Lady's MISSION UNDER FIRE
Fiona Quinn – Cold Red
Anna Celeste Burke – Lily's Homecoming Under Fire
Margaret A. Daly- Monsters in my Closet
Linda Watkins - The Witches of Storm Island, Book I: The Turning
Tamara Ferguson - Two Hearts Under Fire
Suzanne Jenkins - Running with Horses
Inge-Lise Goss – Diamonds and Lies
S.R. Mallery – Tender Enemies
Jinx Schwartz - Baja Get Away
Uvi Poznansky - Virtually Lace
Kathryn Knight - The Haunting of Hillwood Farm
Stephanie Queen - Ace Under Fire 
Casi McLean - Reign Of Fire
Valerie J. Clarizio – The Code Enforcer
Chris Patchell - Deception Bay
Aaron Paul Lazar - The Asylum: a Carmen Garcia romantic suspense novel
Alyssa Richards - Chasing Secrets
K.M. Hodge - Summer of '78
Pamela Fagan Hutchins - Buckle Bunny


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Friday, August 10, 2018

Does it excite the nerves, fire signals up there, between regions of her brain?


Check this out on Chirbit

She is looking out the window. 
Perhaps she is immersing herself in the grays and purples quivering there, on the other side of the glass, reaching a blur in the cold October sunlight. Perhaps, with great patience she is waiting there, waiting for the night, for the darkest hour, which is when her image may finally appear. It will come to the surface in front of her as if it were a sunken spirit, rising from the deep. Out of nowhere. 
For now she seems lost, searching for something—perhaps her reflection—in vain. 
I worry about mom, about the little things, which to someone else—someone who does not know her as I do—may seem trivial, insignificant. I worry she is missing her pearl earrings. I must find them for her. The little hole in her earlobe has shrunk away, turning somehow to flesh. 
In a whisper I say, “Mommy?” and wonder how the air vibrates over the tender membrane of her eardrum, how it changes into noise, how she gets it when pitch rises, when it falls. 
Can she sense the change? 
At what point does it translate, somehow, into meaning? By what path does it penetrate, going deeper? Does it excite the nerves, fire signals up there, between regions of her brain? Does it make some sense, at least at times? Is there any point in talking to her? Is she listening? Can she detect the thin sound—scratched like an old, overused vinyl record—which is coming faintly from behind, from the far end of this space? Can she understand the words? Is there sorrow in her? Is there hope?



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"There is an air of mystery about the book that runs from the beginning to the final pages, but that also draws the reader in and makes the book difficult to put down." 
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