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Virginia McKevitt Day 2 Feb 27th

Author Interview  Part 2

Has there been any other authors who have inspired your work or helped you out with your stories?
I was inspired by Anne Rice when I was younger. She had a business account with a company I use to work for and when I read her Vampire stories I was hooked. I haven’t had any help from other writers as I want this to be all me (scary, I know).

What can readers who enjoy your book do to help make it successful?
Review it, tell their friends about it, get their local library and book stores to carry it. If you love a
writer’s books, let the world know.

Do you have any tips for readers or advice for other writers trying to get published?
To readers I would say-writers are human too. Sometimes we write good, bad and ugly but we give it
our all. Readers are our life blood and without you we are dead in the water so if we make you happy,
let us know, if we don’t, let us know. If a writer is honest with themselves they will know the reader is only wanting the best from us.
To the writers out there-never give up, take good reviews as a gift and the bad ones as a closer look into what can make you better, but above all, never give up.

Do you have a favorite author? If yes, what draws you to that person’s work?
Dean Koontz. He scares the crap out of me, lol.
Can you remember one of the first things you wrote? What makes it memorable?
Not one particular thing but when I was very young I would rewrite the fairy tales I read to suit me. I
should have kept them, lol.

Where do you gather most of the inspiration for your work?
It comes from within. I kind of see my stories like movies playing in my head. The characters have a life of their own and I’m here to take notes.

Do you have any other interesting hobbies, pets or stories you would like to share?
I love gardening ( I was a professional landscaper before Katrina). I bred and raise Quarter Horses during most of my landscaping career, and I love art, though I hardly paint or draw anymore (my eyes just aren’t like they once were).

Favorite places to travel or visit?
I love New Orleans, my home town. I never get tired of going ‘Downtown’. Anywhere there is water, I love the restlessness of the ocean.

And now, before you go, how about a snippet from your book that is meant to intrigue and tantalize us:( Include links to were we can find your work)
I have to pick one, lol!
Where was she? Was she dreaming? Yep, you’re dreaming, and you know what that means. It’s going to get creepy and it’s going to be dark. Why is it always dark when the baddies come out?
She heard a clock chiming somewhere behind her. She reached for her Dropon. Come on! No weapon for God’s sake! Okay, take a deep breath and let your eyes adjust. She saw movement to her right. The hair on the back of her neck stood up. She turned to brace herself against her attacker and laughed. It was a mirror. It was her own vague reflection she saw coming at her.
Kristina relaxed a little. Find a lamp or a candle, silly. She heard something scrape against the floor. The sound was subtle, like someone pulling a piece of paper across a rough surface. Goose bumps replaced the hair standing up on her neck. This couldn’t be good.
She felt a light breeze against her shoulders. A window! She put one foot slowly in front of the other,
following the direction of the breeze. The scraping sound was getting closer. A curtain fluttered against her face.
Kristina felt for the window. There it was. She moved her fingers across the sill, feeling for the window.
It was the kind that opened like French doors. She pushed at the doors and they opened, spilling bits of light from the half-moon across the floor.
The scraping stopped. It was right there, close enough to touch her. Kristina turned around slowly. Her heart was thudding against her ribcage so hard it hurt. A snake….but she knew that already.
It was huge. Like the ones in a horror movie. She watched it slither closer and pull itself up to her full
height. It was strangely mesmerizing as it swayed back and forth, watching her every move.
Kristina backed towards the French doors to the railing. It felt cold against her hands. She leaned over
and looked down. That was a far way to the street.
“You can’t save them all.”
Kristina swung back around. “Tegrin?”
“You will have to choose. You can’t save them all.” The snake was moving its mouth but it was Tegrin’s voice she heard.
“If I kill you I can.”
Alexasia’s laughter echoed around the room. “You had better hurry, dear.”

Fracture The Secret Enemy Saga book three Secrets

Thank you Julie for letting me spend some time with your followers. I appreciate it so much. Here is
where you can find me:

Trace Conger Day 5 Feb 27th

Getting the Details Right

By Trace Conger

I like to ground my fiction in reality, and while most of my work is completely
fictional, there are certainly real world elements included throughout.

Here are a few things I’ve done (and you can do) to ensure my fiction is as
accurate as possible.

1) Maintain a network of sources.
I write about PIs, but I have little experience with law enforcement (except for that
little issue in college), but I still want to represent them as accurately as possible.
And that means getting out and talking to them.
I routinely speak to several PIs to get their feedback and insight on particular
issues. All it usually costs me is lunch. Authors can learn a lot from reference
books, but they also need build a network of live sources. Writing a police
procedural? You better know some cops. Need insight into a medical issue? Talk
to your primary physician. Most professionals are very accommodating with their
time and knowledge and will be happy to help.

2. Visit the locations you write about.
In THE SHADOW BROKER, I wrote a scene where my protagonist is interviewed
at the FBI’s Cincinnati field office. I contacted the FBI’s Cincinnati office hoping to
get a tour of their facility. Not surprisingly, they said “no” for security reasons. But
they were cool enough to connect me with a resource who told me all about the
Of course, he couldn't tell me everything I wanted to know, like whether they
used keycards to enter the building, but he gave me enough information so I
could paint an accurate picture of their meeting rooms, right down to the rails on
the walls they can use to handcuff criminals.

3. Use virtual resources.
If I can’t visit the locations in person, I do it virtually. I use Google Maps to
virtually visit a location so I can write about it intimate detail. I have a scene in my
novel that is set at a damn in Columbus, Ohio. I wasn’t going to be in the
neighborhood anytime soon, so I used Google Maps’ satellite view to get a birds-
eye view of the facility. 

I coupled this with online research to learn everything I could about the damn,
specifically the length. In my scene, one character ran across the top of the
damn, and I needed to know how long it would take him to get from one side to
the other, as well as whether he’d be out of breath once he got to the other side.
Turns out, given the length, he should have been out of breath, if not clutching
his chest and wheezing.

4. Experience it for yourself.
If you’re writing a crime thriller and your protagonist carries a .45, you might want
to get out on a range and fire one for yourself. You should know how heavy it is,
what the recoil feels like, how many rounds the clip holds, how the shells eject.
It’s important, and it’s easy to learn. It’s pretty fun too.

These tips shouldn’t come as much surprise, but what might come as a surprise
is that readers will call you on your mistakes. If you’ve written car chase through
New York City, you better know which way the streets run, or you’ll get e-mail
explaining just how wrong you are.

Readers are funny like that. They won’t let you get away with much.

Trace CongerThe Shadow Broker  


Virginia McKevitt Day 1 feb 26

Author Interview  Part One

First why don't you tell us a little about yourself?
Hi there! I’m Virginia McKevitt. I write fantasy novels focusing on adventure, mystery and romance with an element of magic intertwined. I’ve lived most of my life in the city of New Orleans whose very history is steeped in mystery and magic, along with a mix of religion and superstitions that have created a wealth of writing material for someone like me. Children’s fairy tales and imaginary friends were the building blocks that started this writer on a path to where she is today.
 I have so much to be thankful for but I would not be at this place in my life today if not for some pretty remarkable influences that charted my path. The first is my sister Anna, who started the whole fairy tale business in the first place. The stories she would read to me were a ride that I never got off of. Alice in wonderland is still my favorite escape of all time.
From childhood, through the teen years then on to Anne Rice, and my first vampire love Lestat. Growing up and living in New Orleans, what can I say, it is the perfect place to hone the paranormal fantasy mind and this legendary woman and her Vampire Chronicles fueled my imagination.
I began to write, but was too self conscious to share my stories, so I wrote for me. Time passed, works were put away and life went on, until Hurricane Katrina. The curse to so many was a blessing in disguise for me, though at the time I didn’t think so. She blew into town, destroyed my business and my farm, then moved me north, to Alabama, then to the Georgia mountains.
That decision changed my life. A box in the top of a closet, an unfinished manuscript, and a whisper in my ear. Finish what you started. That story, started in my twenties, is what you are reading today.
Thank you to my hubby Jeff who is the poster child for unselfishness and encouragement. I love you. To my family and friends who also encouraged me to take up the sword and do what I love, to write. A special thanks to the girls who help me take care of business; Lisa, Kathie, Theresa, and Gini, but most of all I want to thank the readers for turning the pages, falling in love and wanting more. To you I am forever grateful.
Book one of my series, Fracture The Secret Enemy Saga was released in March of 2012, followed by
book two, The Hunted in December of the same year. Book three, Secrets is due to be released early
summer of 2014. Fracture The Secret Enemy Saga was nominated for the 2012 RONE Awards for Best Paranormal Fantasy of 2012.
Ind'tale Magazine wrote; Virginia McKevitt writes a great sci-fi mystery thriller! She develops an
enticing, believable plot, and uses each character to contribute to the story line that both intrigues and
enthralls...leaves readers yearning for more.
Also in the works are three additional novels that are scheduled to be released following Secrets, this
Fall and early 2015:
Blood and Roses, a vampire novel
Aiden’s War, a shapeshifter thriller
Dixie Rampage, a supernatural assassin

Newest release?
The third in the series, Fracture The Secret Enemy Saga, titled SECRETS, was released last month and has been getting great reviews by pre-release readers.

Fracture The Secret Enemy Saga book three Secrets

What can we expect from your stories, action, drama, romance, sex, blood and guts?
Lol, all of the above. I love books, tv and movies that are character driven and full of action, so in that sense I want my stories to be the same. I write fantasy that is considered New Adult/Young Adult, so no Fifty Shades here, but there is steam just the same.

Do you have a favorite character in your stories? Who? and Why?
My favorite character is my male protag, Tegrin. He’s an assassin with nothing to lose, loyal to his king to a fault, a little tortured inside and a love for my female protag, Kristina, that he didn’t think he was capable of or deserved. What’s not to love, lol?

Give us an interesting fun fact or a few about your book or series:
I try to break up the tension in the story with humor by using some banter between Tegrin and the king, Kristina and other characters but what I really think is fun is the way Tegrin tries to understand modern day slang, after all he comes from a world that medieval at best.
See what you think:
“I don’t think you can make Tegrin angry,” she said. (Kristina is saying she doesn’t believe the king can do anything to make Tegrin mad at him)
He looked over his shoulder and raised his eyebrows. “Let me tell you about the time…”
Yorandt had Kristina’s undivided attention. Tegrin watched Kristina’s face as Yorandt told her of the time he pushed Tegrin into the river.
“We were very young, nineteen or so both of us, and I was very,” Tegrin cut in, “Unprepared.”
“We shall go with that,” Yorandt said.
“I challenged my guardian friend to a wrestling match.” Kristina’s eyes opened wide. “I know, silly me, but I was the king after all.”
“Hmm,” from behind them.
Kristina put her hand over her mouth. She loved this so much.
“He stood there like a statue, his arms crossed and shaking his head no.  The brat that I was could not
believe that he would deny my request. Without thinking, I shoved him.”
“And then what did you do?”
“He ran.”
“He is correct. I ran.”
“You didn’t?”
“I did. Look at him,” he said waving his free arm toward Tegrin. “He was huge, just like he is today.”
“I was not.”
“Well, you were close.”
Tegrin rolled his eyes. Kristina couldn’t hold it in anymore. Tears were streaming down her face.
“What happened?” she asked, gasping for breath.
“I turned around when I realized there were no thundering footsteps behind me. I am very quick on my feet, by the way.” He looked at Tegrin, who nodded. “He was sitting on the river’s edge, laughing. I shook my head in disbelief. How dare a guardian laugh at the king!  When he saw the anger on my face, he tried to stop laughing, but he laughed harder. The next thing I knew I was laughing too.” He looked at Tegrin with true love in his eyes. “Our bond is stronger than blood.” He patted her hand. “We are both very lucky.”

Trace Conger Day 4 Feb. 26th

Trace Conger

Trace Conger
Author Interview Part 2

Do you have any tips for readers or advice for other writers trying to get
First, just write a damn good book. Put your butt in your chair and write. A lot of
writers get caught up in all the details of publishing—how to land an agent, what
publisher to approach, should they go traditional or indie, how should they market
the book—before they even complete a manuscript. Before you worry about any
of these, and yes, they are important topics to consider, write the best book you

Do you have a favorite author? If yes, what draws you to that person’s
I’m a huge Stephen King fan, but I also really enjoy reading Joe Lansdale,
Elmore Leonard, and Jack Ketchum. All of these authors know how to tell a story,
and regardless of their genre, for me, the ability to tell a vivid story is what
matters most.

Can you remember one of the first things you wrote? What makes it
The first thing I ever wrote (and illustrated) was a picture book called “Henry the
Happy Pirate.” I was probably in the first grade and I’m sure it was horrible,
absolutely horrible. I remember my mother helping me make a black velvet cover
for it. That was awesome.

Where do you gather most of the inspiration for your work?
I’m not a huge believer in inspiration. I’m not sure if I’ve ever been inspired to
write. I’ve always enjoyed writing and I’ve enjoyed creating stories and
characters, so I guess that’s the “inspiration” behind why I do what I do. For me,
the story comes first and from that the characters, plot and themes emerge. It’s
all about telling a great story.

Do you have any other interesting hobbies, pets or stories you would like
to share?
I’m an avid woodworker and I have the scars to prove it. I love making Shaker-
style furniture, but I have two young children, so I haven’t been able to spend a
lot of time in my workshop. I try to steal away there any time I can. One of the
antagonists in THE SHADOW BROKER owns a woodshop, and it’s always wise
to stay away from criminals who own woodshops.

Favorite places to travel or visit?
While I love living in Cincinnati, I try to get out of Ohio as often as I can. Our lake
house in Maine is one of my favorite places to vacation. It’s a different world
there, and it’s easy to get lost in the way life should be.

What are you working on now?
I’m currently working on SCAR TISSUE, the follow-up novel to THE SHADOW
BROKER. It will be available later this year.
Where can users contact you?
Readers can sign up for my newsletter at to receive
updates, promotions, and free fiction.

They can also contact me at:

The Shadow Broker


Review of To Love or Not to Love Manhattan Dinner Club Book 4 by Jean C Joachim

To Love or Not to Love
Manhattan Dinner Club Book 4
Jean C Joachim

Miranda Bradford had given up on men. Weighed down by family “baggage”: a sick mother and a sister in design school, Miranda had become the responsible one. An aspiring playwright, she walked dogs to put food on the table. Not available for “over-night” dates, she was stamped “undesirable” by most men, despite her good looks. Until Penn Roberts came along. 

Drawn to her by a mutual love of dogs and laughter, he moved in quickly on the sexy, dark-haired beauty with the magnetic blue eyes. Attracted to him by his outward qualities, it was his loneliness and caring attitude that turned heavy-duty chemistry into love. 

A secret revealed soured her love to hate, or did it? Hope for affection, so long dormant, had buoyed her heart. But the truth had destroyed her dreams, leaving her bitter. Betrayal forced her to face her true feelings and make a decision whether TO LOVE OR NOT TO LOVE.

I totally loved this book.  I loved the characters & the story line..I couldn't wait to see what was gonna happen next. The characters are so real you can't help but love them.  This is the last book in this series & I was sad to see it end.  Amazing author & I can't wait to see what she's going to come up with next.
I rate this book 5 stars
Jennifer W

Review of What a Wolf Wants by Heather Long

What a Wolf Wants- Heather Long

Ryker is the packs protector and enforcer. He's out making sure the pack is safe when he catches the scent of Saja! He's a loner nut Saja gives him a taste of what it feels like to not be so lonely.

Ms. Long has a great sense of humor, this book made me laugh out loud at times. She took a short story and made it seem longer than it was. I love Ryker and Sajas personalities. This has action, emotion, and true love!! This is written splendidly

Bridgette G

Review of Breaking Ties by Jo Grafford

Review of Breaking Ties
by Jo Grafford

This book provided a sweet escape on a very dull winter afternoon.  The book begins with the introduction of Rose Payne, a clerk who is desperate to leave England after finding that a rich lord, with whom she'd fallen in love, had no interest in marrying her. Rose takes a job on a ship headed for America, 

During the voyage across the ocean, Rose grows closer and closer with tall, handsome Manteo, who will one day become chief of the Croatoans. Both are shunned by the ship's Puritan passengers, who believe red-haired Rose is a witch and Manteo is an unintelligent savage.

I absolutely loved this book. For a romance novel that contains no sexual situations, the book was very passionate.  I actually did not miss the blatant sex one finds in most romance novels, because reading about the growing feelings between the two main characters was much more entertaining than if they had just had sex multiple times throughout the book.

I'm a great lover of Masterpiece Theater, and this is just the type of novel that they would use to create a movie for their program.  I recommend it to anyone who likes classy romance with a historical spin.

Five stars


Trace Conger Day 3

Author Interview Part 1

First why don't you tell us a little about yourself?
I’m an author in the suspense, thriller and crime genres. Prior to writing full-time I
was a publicist, a copywriter, and a freelance writer. Now I tell lies for a living.

The Shadow Broker

Newest release?
THE SHADOW BROKER follows Finn Harding, a PI who recently lost his PI
license. To make ends meet he begins working for criminals who pay in cash and
don’t care if he’s licensed or not. He gets ensnared in a plot to take over a black
market information brokerage and finds himself entrenched deeper in the criminal
world than he ever expected.
With his own clients gunning for him, Finn (and his family) must evade a
psychopathic killer, special agents from the FBI’s cybercrime unit, and a Detroit
mob boss.

What can we expect from your stories, action, drama, romance, sex, blood
and guts?
Readers will get a lot out of my work. Because I write crime and suspense fiction,
I do include elements of violence and explicit language, but neither to excess.
Humor is another hallmark of my writing style. I can find humor is most any
situation and that trickles into my work as well. It’s mostly dark humor, but it’s a
significant part of my style.

Do you have a favorite character in your stories? Who and why?
Finn Harding, the protagonist in THE SHADOW BROKER, is my favorite
character at the moment, but that’s probably because he’s been in my head for
so long. We “go to work” together every day, and I feel like I know more about
him than any other character I’ve created.

Give us an interesting fun fact or a few about your book or series:
While THE SHADOW BROKER is a work of fiction, the original idea is grounded
in reality. A few years ago I met a retired PI who explained that she used to work
as a black market information broker for a very short time (to make ends meet).
In that role, she acquired illegal personal information for her clients who paid top
dollar. After learning that these shadowy individuals exist, I was intrigued and
disturbed at the same time. This was the genesis of my novel.

Has there been any other authors who have inspired your work or helped
you out with your stories?
Joe Lansdale and Elmore Leonard have been huge inspirations. THE SHADOW
BROKER has a similar feel to many of their works.
What can readers who enjoy your book do to help make it successful?
Independent authors depend on readers to help spread the word about our work.
Perhaps the best thing they can do if they like the novel is to tell their friends
about it. Readers can also help by reviewing my work on Amazon, Goodreads, or


Trace Conger Day2

I’M NOT SURE THE EXACT moment I became a criminal. It didn’t happen
overnight. There wasn’t one event or act that defined the point when I crossed over the
invisible line separating good guys from bad guys. It was a gradual transition. Like
watching your daughter grow up. One day she’s playing with her Disney princess dolls
on the carpet and the next day she’s packing up her car and heading to college. No, I
didn’t know the exact moment, but I had a good idea when it started.
I WAITED FOR THE NAVY-BLUE Ford Expedition from my window seat at Winans
Coffee on the corner of Eighth and Walnut in downtown Cincinnati. The coffee shop was
quiet except for the occasional steamer blast or whirring coffee grinder behind the
counter. Two coffee jocks snatched muffins from the bakery case and poured drinks for
the steady stream of caffeine addicts coming through the door.
My watch said I still had ten minutes. I sipped my coffee and yanked my bookmark,
an old receipt, from inside of Joe Lansdale’s Vanilla Ride. The story was good and I
hoped to finish it today, but reading Lansdale’s books, as good as they were, didn’t pay
the bills. According to the phone call I received yesterday, the man arriving in the
Expedition could.
I had just returned to my seat with my first refill, when the SUV slowed to a stop
across the street. From where I sat I could see directly through the front passenger
window. The driver opened his door and rocked back and forth, struggling with the
seatbelt and the tight confines of the driver’s seat. Once he was out, the SUV’s leaf
springs, now free from his weight, released their tension, snapping the vehicle upwards
like a slingshot. He reached back into the SUV and pulled out one of those red-and-white
refillable gas-station soda containers with a handle as long as my forearm and set it on the
vehicle’s roof.
The driver plunked some coins into the meter and walked around the SUV. For the
first time, I took him all in. He was the largest man I’d ever seen. Had to be over four
fifty. He wore a black-and-white suit, a custom job, and looked like a cross between an
undertaker and a limousine driver. The only thing missing was the black cap. He
lumbered down the side of the SUV toward the rear door. He shuffled more than walked,
and I couldn’t tell if his feet actually left the ground. He gripped the rear passenger door
handle and opened it with what I imagined was enough force to rip the door from its
metal hinges. He yanked the door open wide and a man about my size, thin and average,
stepped out. He checked the oncoming traffic and walked across the street toward the
coffee shop. The fat man took a few steps before turning back for the container he’d left
on the SUV’s roof and then double-timed it across the street behind the thin man. He
moved faster that I thought he could.
Both men came through the door, but only the big guy had to turn to his side when
he stepped over the threshold. From the earlier phone call, I had the impression these
guys might lean to the inconspicuous side, but the fat man crushed any chance of keeping
a low profile. He turned heads.
I tipped my hand in the air to identify myself, and both men approached the table.
The thin man leaned forward. “You Mr. Finn?” he said.
“I am.”
“I’m Bishop,” he nodded to the fat man. “This is Sam.”
Bishop surveyed the room. Winans wasn’t a big place, but most customers preferred
the dozen or so tables in the front of the coffee shop to enjoy the view of Eighth Street.
The room tapered toward the back, where at the moment only one chair had an ass in it.
“Let’s move to the rear,” said Bishop.
Fat Sam led the way. The elderly man sitting at the table looked up as the big man’s
shadow engulfed the entire section. Fat Sam picked up the guy’s coffee cup, snatched the
Cincinnati Enquirer from his hand and placed them on a table at the front of the coffee
shop. The elderly man didn’t speak. He just looked at Fat Sam, who returned the stare,
waiting for him to retreat. Then, he looked at me and Bishop, stood up and relocated to
his new seat near the front window.
Fat Sam moved two tables together and the three of us sat down. I set my coffee cup
on the table in front of me.
“Want something to drink?” I said.
“No. I don’t drink coffee,” said Bishop.
Fat Sam held up the forty-five-ounce coma-inducer in his hand. “I’m good,” he said.
“It’s diet.”
Bishop put his skinny hands on the table. “Thanks for meeting us,” he said, his voice
low. “As I mentioned on the phone, I need to locate someone. I got your name from a
contact in Boston. Who knew you were right here in my own backyard? He says you’re
good at that type of thing — finding people. And you’re sensitive to the needs and
position of people like me. That right?”
I leaned back in my chair. “I’d like to think so,” I said.
I’d never heard of Bishop and had no idea what he did, but if he needed me, he was
bad news. People like me are the last hope for people like him. I locate people who don’t
want to be found. And I understand that once I find them, they won’t be found again. I’m
sort of like Death’s GPS.
Bishop leaned in so that we were almost face to face. “I’m a straightforward person,
Mr. Finn, so I’m going to get right to the point. Someone is blackmailing me, and I want
to know who. I don’t need law enforcement involved, which is why we’re having this
I took a sip of my coffee, which was now lukewarm. “Do you have any idea who it
might be?” I said.
“No, he’s a ghost. All I have is a handle. Silvio1053. In my business, I work with
some unsavory individuals. Data thieves and hackers mostly, so he’s likely someone I’ve
worked with in the past or at least someone who knows my business.”
My ears perked up. “What business is that, exactly?”
Bishop paused for a moment and then looked at Fat Sam. He hesitated.
“Look, Bishop. You contacted me,” I said. “I only ask the questions I need answers
to, and that information doesn’t leave this table. But if you don’t want to tell me what I
need to know, I can’t help you, and we can save ourselves a fuckload of time and just part
ways now.”
Bishop nodded and then leaned in closer.
“I sell information, Mr. Finn. Illegal information that people pay a lot of money for. I
run an underground website, the Dark Brokerage. It’s a black market for sensitive and
personal information. Stolen information.”
“How exactly do you get this information?”
“Various ways. I have a network of providers who can deliver pretty much anything.
Hackers to crack sophisticated systems, lower-level cons with access to various
information sources. Even got high-schoolers eager to dumpster dive for a few extra
bucks. If there’s a market for it, I can usually get it.”
Bishop was an information reseller. Need to purchase a block of one hundred credit
card numbers? Bishop had them. A Social Security number for someone born in Illinois
in 1975? He could get it for the right price. All that compromised financial data from
those department store data breaches? It finds its way to people like Bishop, who
packages them up with a big pink bow and resells them. The concept was ingenious and
unsettling at the same time, and it made me question every type of information available
if you knew where to look.
“So where does the blackmail come in?” I said. “With all that information, shouldn’t
you be the one doing the blackmailing?”
“It’s not the information, but the way I sell it. Once someone logs onto my site, they
can browse the information available for sale or they can make a request for something
not yet available. But they have to log into the site before they do anything. It requires a
username and password, just like you have for logging onto your bank online. But my
user list is a who’s who of bad people. It’s a list that the authorities might be interested in.
And if that list ever made it out to the public, I’d be fucked.”
“That’s what Silvio1053 is holding over your head? Your user list?”
“Right.” Bishop explained in tech-nerd speak I didn’t understand that Silvio1053
somehow hacked the records from the Dark Brokerage site and threatened to go to the
Feds and reveal Bishop’s customers’ names, addresses and order histories unless he
ponied up fifty grand a month. He’d already paid one month’s sum, but it wasn’t a
business expense he wanted to continue to write off. And that’s where I came in.
“What can you tell me about this Silvio? What do you have to get me started?” I
“Not much. You’ve got to understand that I deal with a lot of shady people, so
secrecy is a way of life.”
“Kind of ironic that someone who deals in secret information can’t identify the
person blackmailing him.”
Bishop smirked. “I get the irony, thanks,” he said.
“How does he contact you?”
“Through e-mail,” said Bishop. “He’s using an encrypted account. Everyone I work
with does.”
Fat Sam looked up and I followed his eyes. Two hipsters in vintage T-shirts, tight
jeans, boots and thrift-store cardigans made a beeline for the table next to us. Fat Sam
stared them down with a look that said, “Turn around, or those sweaters go up your ass.”
They must have received the message because they stopped in their tracks and looked
around for a safer place to sit.
“This Silvio1053, you sure he really has something on you?” I said.
“He e-mailed me samples and they’re solid. He’s legit.”
“What about the first cash drop?” I asked. “Where did you meet him?”
“I didn’t meet him. It was all handled online.”
“So you’ve got a bank account number, a routing number or something? Maybe we
can trace him that way.”
“Not exactly. Ever hear of bitcoins?”
I knew about bitcoins, a type of digital currency. They’d been in the news lately. The
word was still out on whether they were completely untraceable.
“Heard of them, but never use them,” I said.
“It’s an anonymous currency. You convert your cash into bitcoins, purchase your
product and then the seller takes your bitcoins and uses an exchange to convert it all back
to cash. Completely digital and anonymous.”
Fat Sam swirled the tumbler in front of him. “Ain’t you gonna write any of this
down?” he said.
I glanced at him. “No paper trail,” I said and turned back to Bishop. “This keeps
getting more complicated.”
“Look, my entire business is based on invisibility. I’ve got names and details on
customers buying and selling illegal information. These people don’t want that info to get
out. Without anonymity for the seller or buyer, it all falls apart.”
“But they found out your identity? To blackmail you.”
“My guess is Silvio1053 cracked my administrator login and got into my customer
data. That’s why I think he’s someone who either sold information to me or purchased it
from me. He has some familiarity with the site and knows how it works. I’m not exactly
sure how he did it, but I can promise you that once you find him and I put a gun down his
throat, I’ll find out how and make damn sure it never happens again.”
Fat Sam slurped his diet whatever through his straw. “But you didn’t hear that gun
part,” he said.
“Right,” I said. “So there’s not a lot to go on. I’ll have to get creative.”
“This is why I need someone who specializes in this type of work,” said Bishop. “It’s
not your average case. And my Boston contact says you’re not the average guy.”
“Got that right,” I said.
Bishop nodded to Fat Sam, who dropped an orange file folder on the table. I hadn’t
noticed it concealed under the bulk of his black jacket.
“This is all the info I have,” said Bishop. “It’s got Silvio’s e-mails. There’s not a lot
there, but it might help. My number is in there, too, if you need to contact me. You’ve got
thirty days to locate him. I’ll pay you twenty grand for his identity and location. Half now
and half when you give me the info. You can’t find him in thirty days, then Sam here puts
you on the shit list.” He paused. “And you don’t want to be on the shit list.”
I was silent for a moment. “I don’t get an opportunity to turn down the case?” I said.
“Not after hearing everything I just told you,” Bishop answered. “Now you’re in it.”
Bishop nodded to Fat Sam again, who pulled an envelope from his cavernous jacket
and slipped it onto my lap under the table.
“This oughta get you started,” said Bishop.
“Okay,” I said, and we shook on it.
“Find this fucktard and maybe we can do business again.” Bishop stood up from the
table and Fat Sam followed. “If you’re as good as I hear you are, then I could use you on
a longer-term basis.”
“So what are we supposed to call you?” said Fat Sam. “You got a real name?”
“You’re not the only one who deals in anonymity,” I said. “Mr. Finn is good for
“Fair enough,” said Bishop. “Thirty days. Call me with updates.” Bishop and Fat
Sam left the coffee shop, crossed the street and disappeared into the navy-blue SUV.
I waited a few seconds and then ripped open the envelope that Fat Sam tossed in my
lap. Crisp hundred-dollar bills. A ten-grand down payment. I slipped the envelope inside
my leather messenger bag on the floor next to my feet. Morality doesn’t exist in my
business. There isn’t good and bad — just shades of both. The idea of Bishop or Fat Sam
pushing a gun down a blackmailer’s throat didn’t unnerve me. Criminals can kill each
other all day as far as I’m concerned. They’re just thinning out the herd. But Silvio1053
might be a hard man to find, if he were even a man at all.
I walked to the counter for a third cup of coffee. I needed the caffeine boost to get
my brain firing on all cylinders.

Ey Wade Day 5

I love photographers  who can tell a story through a single shot, Atsuko12, is one such an artist. As a matter of fact her photo of leaves reflecting through the folds of a wagasa, is one of the inspirations of When Clouds Touch. The ability to protect while being transparent enough to show life, is what drew me to the picture and bought this scene into my mind.~~
When Clouds Touch

"Tell me you love me, Paisley. " “Aishiteiru, Malachi. I love you.” Without a pause or a second thought, she obeyed his command. He paused for a moment after snapping the shot, living the dawning knowledge revealed in her eyes that the statement was true. What was said casually now showed intensely and beckoned him into that reality.
“Mujhe bhi tumse iskh huwa hai, I have also fallen in love with you.” Malachi fell to his knees, crawling to her as if being reeled in by a lifeline. Until their lips touched, melded, and their combined breath became a sustaining life force, one for the other.
He felt her hands caress his back, his chest, fingers at the buttons of his shirt and he mimicked them, his fingers steadier and quicker, released the buttons at the top of her dress, pulling short when the gap revealed the tiny lace bra underneath. He flicked its front opening, exposing her flesh to his view – a sight immediately covered with his mouth. His need to be closer overwhelming his conscious mind which was telling him to move slower. But it wasn’t his mind, ruling him, it was her hands doing the directing, creating the momentum and he followed her emotions, her rush to fulfillment by caressing her touching her until she lost her control and cried out for him to stop.

He rolled to his back, breathing hard, chastising himself for trying to rush her, expecting to see the sky and realized they were shielded from the elements by the red panels of the umbrella. Its protection allowing only the softest light from the sun through, casting a soft glow on everything. He watched her as she adjusted her clothing, loving the pink on her skin, like the shell of a pearl.

“Is this how it always is under your umbrella, Paisley? Glimpses of light, beautiful color, shadows of leaves, silhouettes of birds, peaceful?”
Paisley lay quiet for a moment, then reached over to button his shirt and rest her head on his chest. Looking through the paper and seeing the world for the first time through his vision. The change in perception made the world a different place, one she had never really noticed.

“I rarely look up when I’m walking. It would probably be a little dangerous. My wagasa had always been my protection, my way of hiding from the world while spying on its way of living. Basically, it has been a tool. You are constantly showing me its real duty is that of love, Malachi. I don’t think I will ever see it the same again. Sobo wanted me to be able to go out and enjoy myself, little did I know she meant, grab a guy and make love under it.”

“I’m sure that’s not what she meant and I better not catch you under this umbrella with anyone else but me.” Kissing her quick, he pulled her to her feet, grabbing blanket and umbrella and pushing them in her hands. “Let’s go, it’s starting to rain.”

Collecting the picnic basket, he followed her footsteps to the car, laughing as they barely closed themselves within before the downpour.


Sneek peek at Ilsa Madden-Mills

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Trace Conger Day 1

 The Shadow Broker

The Story Behind the Story: The Shadow Broker

By Trace Conger

THE SHADOW BROKER began as an untitled short story about two professional
killers who were hired to kill each other. I liked the idea, but as I got deeper into it, I
realized the story was growing beyond the confines of a short story. The story was
also changing. At first, these two men were gunning for one another, but as I kept
writing it, they turned less adversarial toward each other and instead turned on
their mutual employer.

I abandoned the idea after several months, because it was missing something, but I
didn’t know what. So I shelved it and focused on other projects. A few months later, I
met an ex-private investigator who told me that during a very slow period she
moonlighted as a black market information broker acquiring illegal personal
information for a few clients who paid very well.
As soon as she was back on her feet financially she returned to traditional PI work,
because she was putting her career (not to mention her personal freedom) at risk by
working with criminals. 

After learning that these shadowy individuals exist, I was intrigued and disturbed at
the same time. I started developing the character of Finn Harding (Mr. Finn) who
after loosing his PI license begins working for criminals. I really liked the idea of a
man who, after being shunned professionally, goes to work for the “other side.”
This new direction morphed with the original “Killer” story and what had been a
5,000-word short story turned into an 80,000-word novel. Many of the elements of
the short story remain, but THE SHADOW BROKER certainly took on a life of its

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