Posts Tagged ‘women’s fiction’

Mystery

Date Published: May 17 (available for presale now)

Publisher: Tirgearr Publishing

Tucson, Arizona – Eighteen-year-old Matt Garrison is harboring two terrible secrets: his involvement in the drowning death of his 12-year-old cousin, and a night of drunken sex with his best friend’s mother, Crystal, whom he finds dead the following morning. Guilt forces Matt to act on impulse and hide his involvement with Crystal. 

Detective Winston Radhauser knows Matt is hiding something. But as the investigation progresses, Radhauser’s attention is focused on Matt’s father. Matt’s world closes in when his dad is arrested for Crystal’s murder and Travis breaks off their friendship. Despite his father’s guilty plea, Matt knows his dad is innocent and only trying to protect his son. Devastated and bent on self-destruction, Matt heads for the lake where his cousin died—the only place he believes can truly free him. Are some secrets better left buried?

Redemption Lake is a novel of love and betrayal. It’s about truth and lies, friendship and redemption, about assuming responsibility, and the risks a father and son will take to protect each other. 


Excerpt

For the next hour and a half, he drifted in and out of sleep. Cradled by the night sounds of the desert outside the open window, each time a memory emerged, his thoughts thickened and folded back into sleep. At one point he heard water running for a bath. A little later, he heard a car outside. Oh God, please don’t let it be Travis. He stumbled to the window and opened the curtains. In the street, two long rectangular taillights moved away, turning south onto Oracle Road.

Matt leaned against the wall, staring at the sunflower sheets on Crystal’s bed. The same bed he and Travis had jumped up and down on when they were eight. The digital clock read 10:38 p.m. His head throbbed. He needed to close his eyes. Crystal would wake him in time to leave before Travis got home. He fell back onto the bed.

When he woke up again, the room was very dark. He wore only his boxers and a white T-shirt his mother had insisted upon—claiming his usual dark one would show through his tuxedo shirt. As if the color of his T-shirt could ruin her perfect wedding. But he’d been ingenious and found another way to ruin things for his mother. He turned toward the empty space beside him. It took a few moments for him to realize where he was. He closed his eyes, shook his aching head to clear it. Crystal was his best friend’s mother. What the hell was he doing in her bed?

He thought he heard the sound of the front door open, then close again. Oh God, please don’t let it be Travis. His eyes adjusted to the darkness. One event at a time, he remembered everything.

Fully awake now, he shot from the bed, rocking for a few seconds before he achieved balance, then hurried to the window. The moon hung over the mountaintop, its light silver and unforgiving. Crystal’s driveway was empty. Whoever he’d heard, it wasn’t Travis. On the other side of the street, an engine started. This time the taillights were round. Definitely not Crystal’s Escort. The car turned north on Oracle Road.

Matt let out the breath he’d been holding and glanced at the digital clock—its red letters told him it was 11:20 p.m. He needed to get dressed and leave. The dance ended in forty minutes and Travis would head home. He grabbed his tuxedo pants and shirt from the chair. His hands shook so hard he could barely work the fly and the button on his trousers. He slipped into his shirt, then sat on the edge of the bed. As if he had the flu, his head throbbed and his stomach felt queasy.

He rushed down the hallway toward the bathroom. And when he did, he saw the puddle of blood on the floor beside the bathtub.

He hurried across the room, jerked open the pale green shower curtain.

Crystal lay naked in a bathtub filled with blood-colored water. Her hair, her beautiful blonde curls, had been chopped off, shorter in some places than others, as if a small child had done it. Some of the curls were floating on top of the water.

For a strange moment, everything remained calm and slow.

Her head was propped against one of those blow-up pillows attached to the back of the tub with suction cups. The tint of her skin was pale and slightly blue. Crystal’s eyes were open and staring straight ahead—looking at something he couldn’t see. Blood splattered the white tiles that surrounded the tub. It dripped down them like wet paint. One of her hands flopped over the side of the tub. A single thick drop fell from her index finger into the crimson pond congealing on the linoleum floor. It covered her neck and shoulders. Tiny bubbles of frothy blood still oozed from the gash in her neck.

An empty Smirnoff bottle sat in a puddle of blood on the tub’s rim beside a straight-edged razor blade.

The bathroom was so quiet. Nothing but the sound of his own breathing. He clenched and unclenched his hands. His body grew numb. “Oh no. Oh God, no,” he said, the words thickening in the air in front of him. His head filled with strange sounds—the drone of insects humming, violinists tuning their strings. “What have I done?”

The contents of his stomach rose. He crouched in front of the toilet and heaved until nothing more came up. Then he started to rock, back and forth, muttering what he already knew was a useless prayer. Please, just let her be okay. He said it over and over like an unstoppable mantra. If only he could keep saying the words, maybe he could reverse this unthinkable thing.

Maybe she was still alive. He straightened up and stepped over to the bathtub to check Crystal’s neck for a pulse. As he bent closer, he smelled the metallic scent of her blood as it mixed with her perfume and the stale, metabolized smell of alcohol seeping through her skin. He placed two fingers on her neck, searching for her carotid and pressed. His fingers slipped into the gaping hole. It felt wet and warm. He screamed and jerked them out. They were covered in blood.

He swiped his hand on the front of his shirt, then checked the other side of her neck for a pulse. Please, just let her be okay. Nothing. He shook her by the shoulders, then tried again. Still no pulse. At that moment, he stopped his mantra.

Though he knew she was dead, he held her hand—soft and still warm. It belonged to Crystal, who’d taught him to line dance, who liked hot buttered popcorn with cheddar cheese grated on top. Crystal, who was sometimes irresponsible and drank way too much. Crystal, who’d cheered for him at bat in Little League, cheered just as loud as she had for her own son. Crystal, who’d always be sitting in a bathtub of blood. “I’m sorry.” He squeezed her hand, then let go. “And I swear to you, Travis will never know what happened between us.”

Struggling to his feet, he headed for the kitchen phone to call 911. Halfway to the bathroom door, he stopped. Blood smeared the front of his white shirt. And there was still blood on both his hands, drying beneath his fingernails. His body was slick with fear. He smelled it, tasted it, and felt it coming out of his pores like sweat. His mind told him to call the police, to tell the truth. His heart told him to keep his promise to Crystal. It was the last thing she’d ever ask of him.

He dropped his chin and stared at his shirt. Holy shit. If anyone saw him like this, they’d think he’d killed Crystal. The thought stopped him. Had he? Was he capable of doing something so heinous?

The bubble of panic in his throat got bigger. He hurried across the bathroom to wash his hands. There were more clumps of hair in the sink and a hardened blue streak of toothpaste. He used toilet paper to pick up the hair clumps and dropped them into the trashcan. Looking at the uncapped tube beside Crystal’s toothbrush, he felt as if something had been cut out of his chest.

He grabbed the sides of the sink, stared at himself in the mirror. The face staring back resembled no one he’d ever seen before. Was it the face of a murderer? Had he just pushed someone else to her death? He shook his head—breathing in short gasps, like a swimmer gearing up for a plunge. His lungs burned as if he were being swept away by a strong current.

When the memory of his cousin’s death surfaced, as it often did, Matt used his fists to hammer the stranger’s face he saw reflected in the medicine cabinet. The mirror fractured, sending out long cracks in every direction. The face split into interlocking parts like an abstract puzzle. One jagged sliver fell into the sink, breaking in half. It left a black and empty space in what had once been the mirror.

He held onto the sides of the sink again and rocked slowly in front of it, still staring at the blood on his hands and under his fingernails. “You’re all right,” he said, but could barely hear the words, the sounds inside his head were so loud.

In his mind he saw himself letting go of the sink and getting as far away from this nightmare as possible. But it would destroy Travis to come home and find his mother like this. Matt had to intercept him.

He washed his hands, then rinsed the blood from the sides and bowl of the sink, recapped the toothpaste and tucked it into the medicine cabinet. He wrapped the shards of mirror in toilet tissue, careful to avoid getting his fingerprints on the glass, and placed them in the trashcan, jagged sides down. There were no towels in the bathroom, so he wiped his wet hands on his pant legs. Panic rolled in, sucked him under.

What should he do? Call the police? His father? 911? If he did, there’d be a recording of his voice and he’d have a lot of explaining to do. The police often suspected 911 callers. They might take his DNA. What if they found semen inside of Crystal? What if they matched it to Matt’s DNA? If that happened, they’d know. It would be in the newspapers. It would hurt Travis. He couldn’t let that happen.

He hurried back into Crystal’s bedroom. Hands shaking, he sat on the edge of her bed and put on his socks and shoes. Then, as if he were someone else, running through an obstacle course, he went into the kitchen and gathered the empty beer bottles. He took them out into the garage and carefully placed them in their cardboard carriers. Next he wiped the kitchen table, closed the open drawers, loaded the dishwasher, emptied the ashtrays, then made Crystal’s bed with fresh sheets. He tossed the sunflower sheets into the washing machine and started the cycle, careful to wipe his prints from the lid and dial. With the same cloth, he wiped down the edge of the plastic shower curtain, then pulled it closed—the way he’d found it. For the most part, his fingerprints were easily explained. He’d spent almost as much time in Travis’ house as his own.

Matt stood in front of the coffee table. He heard the candles guttering, smelled the wax melting. He blew them out, then picked up the clothes Crystal had discarded in the hallway beside the bathroom door. Folding them neatly, he then placed them on the chair beside her window. He grabbed her red cowboy boots from the living room and set them beneath the chair. It was the least he could do for Travis.

The clock on the stove read 11:45 p.m. The Narrow Way didn’t allow opposite sex teenagers to spend unsupervised time together. Jennifer’s parents would pick her up from the dance. That meant Travis would be leaving for home soon.

If Matt hurried, he could intercept him, convince him to spend the night with Matt and his dad. He raced into Travis’ bedroom, jerked open the drawer where he kept his T-shirts. Surely he had a plain black or a dark blue one somewhere. Matt lifted the stacks of folded shirts until he found one, then ripped off the tuxedo and stained T-shirt, slipped Travis’ shirt over his head, then grabbed his jacket from the kitchen chair and hurried outside.

On the back deck, insects clustered around the light fixture, high-pitched, insistent and frantic. The sound reminded him of Crystal’s voice when she’d pleaded with him not to tell Travis. Why hadn’t he agreed?

In the carport, Matt unlocked the trunk of his Mustang, a restored nineteen sixty-seven Grande that had been his mom’s first car, and dropped both the jacket and the bloodstained shirt inside. Silence ballooned into the night air around him, a strange silence with a ticking heartbeat. Then he remembered the cufflinks. Crystal had tucked them into his shirt pocket. He checked. They weren’t there. He plunged his hands into his pants pockets and then the tuxedo jacket. No cufflinks. He didn’t have time to go back inside. He had to stop Travis from coming home.

When he climbed into the front seat, he looked out through the windshield, but the dome light inside the car and the darkness outside had changed the glass into a mirror. He turned away. His face was the last thing he wanted to see.


Susan Clayton-Goldner was born in New Castle, Delaware and grew up with four brothers along the banks of the Delaware River. She is a graduate of the University of Arizona’s Creative Writing Program and has been writing most of her life. Her novels have been finalists for The Hemingway Award, the Heeken Foundation Fellowship, the Writers Foundation and the Publishing On-line Contest. Susan won the National Writers’ Association Novel Award twice for her novels and her poetry was nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

Her work has appeared in numerous literary journals and anthologies including Animals as Teachers and Healers, published by Ballantine Books, Our Mothers/Ourselves, by the Greenwood Publishing Group, The Hawaii Pacific Review-Best of a Decade, and New Millennium Writings. A collection of her poems, A Question of Mortality was released in 2014 by Wellstone Press. Her novel, A Bend In The Willow, was published in January 2017. Redemption Lake, the first in a 3-book detective serieswill be released May 17, 2017. Prior to writing full time, Susan worked as the Director of Corporate Relations for University Medical Center in Tucson, Arizona. 

Susan shares a life in Grants Pass, Oregon with her husband, Andreas, her fictional characters, and more books than one person could count. In her spare time, Susan likes to make quilts and stained glass windows. She says it is a little bit like writing, telling stories with fabric and glass.

 

Contact Information

Website: http://susanclaytongoldner.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/susan.clayton-goldner

Twitter: https://twitter.com/SusanCGoldner

Blog: http:///susanclaytongoldner.com/my-blog—writing-the-life.html

Goodreads: :  https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/33150434-a-bend-in-the-willow

 

Purchase Links

Amazon: Buy it on Amazon

Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/redemption-lake-susan-clayton-goldner/1126040153?ean=2940154076378

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/redemption-lake-2

 

Giveaway

An e-book of my first novel, A Bend In The Willow

 

About the Book

Title: Spoonful Chronicles

Author: Elen Ghulam

Genre: Women’s Fiction

Thaniya Rasid grew up in the Middle East dreaming of becoming a surgeon. Now living an ordinary life as a mother, wife and a hospital lab tech in Vancouver, Canada, she garners unexpected fame as youTube’s Queen of Hummus when her video demonstrating the recipe goes viral. How could blending chickpeas in a food processor generate so much excitement? And how could her life have ended up so far away from all her expectations?

To make sense of the unlikely events that have brought her to this place, Thaniya turns to food, curating memorable eating experiences of her life, searching for clues. Between her childhood aversion to cucumbers, her search for an authentic Iraqi kubeh in the city of Jerusalem, her 10-year tomato wars with her husband Samih, a mood altering encounter with a blood pudding in Edinburgh, and a Kafkaesque nightmare involving a cauliflower, Thaniya unravels repeated patterns occurring in her life. The secrets of love, friendship and destiny hidden in her cauldron of mishmashed cultures begin to reveal themselves.

Between lust and disgust there is a thin line. Spoonful Chronicles is the beguiling story of one woman taking hold of her fate by uncovering the clandestine geography of this divide in her heart.

 

Author Bio

My name is Elen. I am an Iraqi-Canadian. Please allow me to tell you a story of a curious event that happened to me. I was a perfectly happy computer programmer doing the nerdy stuff that computer programmers do. You know! Geeky stuff. Like the normal stuff that an Iraqi-Canadian would do if they worked as a computer programmer. When one day, out of nowhere, the inspiration to write hit me over the head. It came at me fast and furious and turned my life topsy turvy. I was always an avid reader. Ok I was a bookish geek. But the idea that I would try to write never even occurred to me, until the violent incident with the muse. Since then I have published a memoir called “Don’t Shoot! … I Have Another Story to Tell You“. Which Was followed by a novel called Graffiti Hack. That one tells the story of a hacker who installs lavish graphical designs on commercial websites. Imagine the trouble she gets in? Well I had to. I was writing the story, so I had to imagine every last bit. A third novel is on it way. I don’t know where all these ideas come from, they just pop in my head and I write them down. In addition to writing, I am a flamenco dancer, I enjoy painting and I love to cook. Somehow all these activities inspire each other.

I am a married mother of three, living in a pink house in Vancouver BC
Really I just love telling stories and I love listening to stories.

 

Links

www.ihath.com
https://twitter.com/ElenGhulam
https://www.facebook.com/ElenGhulamAuthor
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCOKZboCaeSr9tSzXXZm-Ugg

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Spoonful-Chronicles-novel-about-food-ebook/dp/B01N7VI35H/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1486205667&sr=8-1&keywords=spoonful+chronicles

 

Book Excerpts

Excerpt 1:

It came to me gradually. In spatters and smudges. Like a Jackson Pollock painting. Splash here. Drip there. Seems accidental. You stand back and look. The horror of the furtive activity attacks you. My name should be Sabbah. Nobody ever said this within my earshot. It was a little niggling suspicion.  A faint whisper in my head. It grew and multiplied. Now it is a scream. I know it in my toes. I feel it in the frazzled ends of my hair. I never dared ask directly. It is as obvious as the sun in the sky. I should be sitting here, declaring to you proudly that my name means morning in Arabic. A name that implies light, brightness, the first call to prayer of the day and the cock-a-doodle-doo of a proud rooster breaking dawn. Since my sister’s name means night in our language, I have surmised my parents worried about the negative connotation that would be assigned to her in relation to me.  Imagine my parents introducing us to their friends:

And here are our daughters: Night and Day.

They are as different as light and darkness.

People might have sniggered at the too matchy matchy extremes.

“Oh you called your daughters Night and Morning,” those with comedic aspirations would have continued. “If you have a third daughter you should call her Noon.”

Instead I have this nothing name. It reeks relativity without embodying substance. My name is Thaniya.

Excerpt 2:

“Hello, pleasure to meet you.” I was disappointed to hear him speak in English. I replied in Arabic: “It is a pleasure to meet you as well.”

Rafid paused and then switched to Arabic. “Affirmative. It has been my forefather, who has furnished me with voluminous tales about her, which is your forefather. It is now that I see, I feel knowledge for her family even though your face I only see now.”  His Arabic was a code red disaster zone. He had inverted the feminine with masculine pronoun, his accent was terrible, his diction most ridiculous. In that first ten seconds of meeting him I realized that I could never share a life with somebody who spoke so poorly. If this had been a comedy show, a fifth grader would be peeing himself laughing right now. I had given him a test and he had failed in the most spectacular manner possible.

Rafid was slim, tall, clean-shaven, dark and handsome, stylishly dressed in a sky-blue cotton shirt and black slacks. Everybody in the room was clamoring to grab his attention. He sat confidently on a chair in the middle of the living room, gesturing elegantly with his index finger when he spoke. He listened attentively when spoken to, placing the fingers of his hand gently against his cheek. He was altogether the prince of any young woman’s dream. Except when he addressed me; then his atrocious Arabic had turned him into a Shrek-like green ogre.

 

Excerpt 3:

Every morning, no matter how hectic my schedule, I wake up early to prepare a pot of coffee. I pour the black liquid into a see-through glass cup. Then I add milk one drop at a time. I watch milk drops lazily swirl around in my cup. I never mix my coffee with a spoon. I just sit there and watch two extremes doing a gentle dance together. A blob of white rises to the top, then it is elegantly pushed into halves. The blackness of the coffee caresses and sways. Whiteness pushes blackness away and then takes hold of it wanting to conquer it. “You are mine,” whispers whiteness. “You can never conquer the idea of me,” responds blackness.

Slow.

Playful.

Passionate.

I finally take a sip. My coffee is smooth. It flows over my tongue like honey. It gives me hope. Opposites don’t have to come with jagged edges and sharp sudden starts. One day, I will learn to dance like milk in a cup of coffee. Without a stir. No violent mixing shall occur. Flavours mixing at will, giving of their sweetness gently.

Milk unmixed in coffee is at least a possibility.

 

Excerpt 4:

Just yesterday a patient shrieked with delight when I entered her room: “Oh My God! I can’t believe it. Hummus lady!”

I was taken aback. “Excuse me?”

“You are hummus lady, in the video. You saved my marriage.” The skinny young woman looked at me with awe as if I was a deity of some sort. This understuffed scarecrow told me that she had married an Egyptian. They had been fighting for months. Finally, he told her it was over and walked away. She accidentally found my video on YouTube and decided that instead of eating a tub of ice-cream, she would make a tub of hummus. When her husband came home to pick up his things, he encountered the plate of hummus. One taste led to another. His wife found him licking the plate clean. She sat down at the table without a word. Her husband began to cry. “This tastes exactly like the hummus I used get in the public market of Alexandria,” he told her. They talked things over. Cried together. And decided to fight to stay together. Experts might tell you that a marriage should be based on respect and shared values. But if you listen to Thaniya Rasid, you would forgo all that and entrust your life partnership to a flatulence-inducing legume.  I suppose marriages have been based on shakier ground.  This must be the mushiest. “Why don’t you make more videos?” asked the woman.

I shrugged. “I’m not sure cooking is my forte.”

“Oh it is, it is, there is magic in these hands!” She grabbed both my hands as if rubbing invisible lotion into her own hands.

I wanted to tell her: “Leave your husband, he’s an asshole.” But instead, I grabbed her chart and focused on the medical task at hand.

Excerpt 5:

You know what shakshuka is, right?

 

It’s a favorite among students, bachelors and those that don’t know how to cook and those who can’t be bothered to cook. In short, shakshuka is the Middle East’s version of Kraft Dinner. Unlike mac and cheese out of a box, it is a dish you will continue to crave years past your student days and many clicks after the honeymoon of your marriage turns into mustard-sun.

The shakshuka wars started in my household on the fifth week of my marriage and have spanned ten years, traveled to two continents and have yet to reach a peaceful resolution.

It all started when, after returning from our honeymoon, Samih decided to make shakshuka for dinner one night.

I took one bite and screwed up my face. “This shakshuka is all wrong!” A rather arrogant proclamation from somebody who didn’t know how to boil an egg.

“Wrong how?” Samih smiled, bemused, the way you would be entertained with a cute three year old saying a four-letter word that they didn’t understand. I hate it when Samih treats me in a patronizing way.

“It’s too oniony,” I said in the same tone I might have used to say “Smoking causes cancer.”

“You just don’t know what shakshuka is supposed to taste like, that’s all.” Samih tore a piece of pita bread. Folded it to create a scoop. Drenched the bread in the tomato massacre on his plate. Placed the dripping bundle into his mouth. “I bet the taste of tomato with the eggs seems unfamiliar, you’re probably used to scrambled eggs instead,” Samih said with a full mouth. Bits of masticated poached egg stained red flashed behind his teeth with each chew.

“I know the difference between shakshuka and scrambled eggs. I know how it’s supposed to taste and this tastes wrong!” I placed my fork down and pushed my plate away.

“I am certain your mother never made shakshuka.” You know an argument is going sideways when your mother gets mentioned.

 

On a hilarious journey that takes Layla from the Southeast to the Middle East and back, she finds out a little more about herself and what she is looking for in life and in love.

Book Details:

Book Title: Middle South by Maya Nessouli Abboushi
Category: Adult Fiction, 215 pages
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Publisher: Lanier Press
Release date: March 8, 2017
Tour dates: April 17 to May 5, 2017
Content Rating: PG-13

Book Description:

Layla has recently moved out of her parents’ home in the Atlanta suburbs and into an apartment in the city to assert her independence. Between her job as a feature writer for a small newspaper and her social life, Layla has little time to think about marriage and children, much to the dismay of her Lebanese parents.On a hilarious journey that takes Layla from the Southeast to the Middle East and back, she finds out a little more about herself and what she is looking for in life and in love.

Buy the Book:

 

Meet the Author:

 

 

Maya Nessouli Abboushi is a Lebanese American born and raised in the United States. She lives in Atlanta with her husband and three children. This is her first novel.

Connect with the author: Facebook ~ Twitter ~ Instagram

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My Writing Process for Middle South

Middle South came easy for me. I think the novel was brewing in my brain for years. I just opened my computer one day and started writing. I knew that the world had a skewed perception of Arab Muslims. I wanted to change that. I also just wanted to write something funny about an average American girl who readers could relate to. I had been reading a lot of women’s fiction at the time, and it occurred to me that I could do it too.

            The hard part for me was finishing it. I let life get in the way. I had three children over the course of five years, and it consumed me in the most beautiful way. From time to time, I would return to Middle South, but every time I got writer’s block, I would put it away for too long and forget about it. I saw it only as a therapeutic hobby for a long time. When my mother passed away, it motivated me to finish it. I needed something to occupy my mind. I also realized that life is short, and you should never let your insecurities keep you from realizing your dreams.

            As far as research, it was minimal. I had to brush up on the Lebanese political climate in 2005. I had to fact-check when it came to certain places in and around Beirut. Most of the people and places in the novel either came from my imagination or were an amalgamation of people or places I’d known in my life.