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Opening Lines: Ward Zero by Linda Huber

The final opening lines of 2018 is being looked after by suspense writer, Linda Huber.

Over to you Linda…

Writing Ward Zero… the dead ward

I enjoyed writing this book – as an ex-physiotherapist, I loved the hospital setting, modelling Brockburn General on one of the hospitals I worked in, back in the day. I could almost smell that special hospital odour as Sarah visited foster-mum Mim in orthopaedics, and the fustiness of the cellar as she lay there later on, bound and helpless, was equally present in my nose. Ward Zero brought back a lot of happy memories.
The best bit of all, though, was deciding on the cover image. The designer produced a fabulous image of a body, swathed in a white sheet and lying on a trolley. Perfect – but was this Sarah? It looked a bit masculine to me… So we began a hilarious back and forth of cover images, the body having a different bust measurement in each. Eventually, the one the designer christened ‘version supermodel’ was voted winner, and the cover – and the book – went to print.

Here are my first five hundred words:

Prologue

Thursday, 20th July

He stared across the table in the crowded restaurant and his mouth went dry. Sarah. She was so lovely, smiling at him with shiny blonde hair just tipping her shoulders, and her blouse an exact match for the blue of her eyes. And now he would have to kill her too. It was too much to bear.

He reached for his glass, fighting to keep the ‘I’m having the greatest time ever’ expression fixed on his face. But her last remark had confirmed it – she knew way too much. And he, idiot that he was, had just made a monumental mistake. Sarah was busy with her fritters; she hadn’t realised the significance of what he’d said. But she would, and the first thing she’d do was tell that bloody policeman. It was a risk he couldn’t take. Time to switch his emotions off.

He took a deep breath, forcing himself to smile back. All he had to do was keep her busy thinking about other things, and after dessert he would suggest a quick coffee at home. His home. Once he had her safely locked up he could organise her death in peace and quiet. It shouldn’t be too difficult – he’d already had a practice run.

When Sarah was gone too, he’d be safe.

If only he’d never gone to the hospital. He hadn’t wanted things to end like this, not for one minute.

Chapter One

Two weeks earlier: Tuesday, 4th July

Sarah stepped into the arrivals hall at Manchester Airport. What a brilliant feeling – back on British soil for her first long break in two years. And she was ready for it. Teaching in Switzerland and travelling round Europe in the holidays had been exhausting, if exciting. And now – where was Mim?

A glance round the waiting crowd failed to locate her foster mother’s strawberry-blonde head, and Sarah stood still. She hadn’t spoken to Mim since last week, but they’d texted yesterday. At least… Sarah frowned. She had texted her new flight time and Mim had replied with a smiley, which, when you thought about it, wasn’t typical. Mim had the gift of the gab even when she was texting.

‘There you are! Sorry I’m late – I had to park at the back of beyond.’

Sarah spun round to see a short, very pregnant figure beaming up at her, dark curls damp on her brow. ‘Rita! You’re huge! Come here!’

A lump came into her throat as she hugged the other woman, feeling the hardness of Rita’s bump against her own body. Lucky Rita.

Rita hugged back. ‘That’s pregnancy for you. Come on, let’s get out of this rabble.’

Sarah grabbed her case and turned towards the exit. ‘You’re on. But where’s Mim?’

She couldn’t imagine what could have kept Mim away from the airport when the two of them were supposed to be setting off on their long-anticipated tour of Yorkshire that very afternoon.

Rita took her free elbow. ‘Ah. Now don’t shoot the…

***

I’m sure you can guess the 501st word!

***

Ward Zero blurb:

Horror swept through her. Had she been buried alive?
On Sarah’s first visit to see her foster mother, Mim, in Brockburn General Hospital, she is sucked into a world that isn’t what it should be.
Someone is lying, someone is stealing. And someone is killing – but who? With a grieving child to take care of, as well as Mim, Sarah has to put family first. She doesn’t see where danger lies – until it’s too late.

If you think you’re safe in a hospital, think again.

Bio:
Linda Huber grew up in Glasgow, Scotland, but went to work in Switzerland for a year aged twenty-two, and has lived there ever since. Her day jobs have included working as a physiotherapist in hospitals and schools for handicapped children, and teaching English in a medieval castle. Not to mention several years being a full-time mum to two boys and a rescue dog.

Linda’s writing career began in the nineties, and since then she’s had over fifty short stories and articles published, as well as seven psychological suspense novels. Her books are set in places she knows well – Cornwall (childhood holidays), The Isle of Arran (teenage summers), Yorkshire (visiting family), as well as Bedford and Manchester (visiting friends) and her home town, Glasgow. Her latest project is a series of feel-good novellas written under her pen name, Melinda Huber.

After spending large chunks of the current decade moving house, she has now settled in a beautiful flat on the banks of Lake Constance in north-east Switzerland, where she’s working on another suspense novel.

Linda Huber’s website:  www.lindahuber.net
Universal Amazon link: getBook.at/WardZero

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LindaHuber19
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authorlindahuber/

***

Many thanks to Linda for seeing us out of 2018 in style!

See you next year!

Jenny x


Opening Lines: Here Casts No Shadow by Bronwen Griffiths

This week’s Opening Lines blog comes from Bronwen Griffiths. I’m delighted to be able to introduce the first 500 words (exactly) from

Here Casts No Shadow.

 

Here Casts No Shadow is a novel about war and conflict – told from a woman’s perspective.

I have no direct experience of war but I was on holiday in the southern Libyan Desert in February 2011 when the uprising against Gaddafi began. After a hair-raising time driving through military check-points, our small group was air-lifted out of the country by the Italian military. The consequences of that experience were life-changing, and fed into my first novel.

Here Casts No Shadow is set in a fictitious county also beset by war and ruled by a ruthless dictator. The inspiration for the book has come, in large part, from my campaigning work for Syria, and with Syrian refugees. But for me, what’s most important is that it’s the story of one woman and her fight for justice – a woman who must also face her own demons before she can move forward in life.

 

First 500 words

I’m in my apartment overlooking the square, watching the snow fall. The snow is like stars, you once said. Not stars, but birds, I argued; tiny flying birds.

You were so impatient that day. Do you remember? You kept asking me when the snow would come. ‘Will it be like a fairy tale? How many days will it snow?’ You wouldn’t stop. You were like that. A chatterer. Always asking questions. I never imagined a time when you wouldn’t talk at all.

A Saturday. Early January. Kaz in bed with a cold. Baby Moe yelling his head off downstairs in the kitchen. Ma banging pots. Pa out in the garden shed doing whatever he did out there. You were stood on tiptoes, at the window, your nose pressed against the glass. I was sprawled on the rug, pen in hand, planning a house –a house for Tam and me to live in overlooking the lake where Grandma lived. I so loved Tam. You just can’t imagine it, Pearl, how he dizzied me, how my heart danced every time I set eyes on him. I still love him, though he is long gone now. He kissed me once, in the summer before everything turned. It was one of those hot summer days, the likes of which we never have here; the soles of my shoes stuck to the asphalt, the air shimmered like gossamer. Tam ran down the university steps, where I waited for Kaz. He ran down those steps, flung his arms around my shoulders and kissed me smack on the lips. The kiss didn’t mean much, I knew that. I was only Kaz’s sister, someone Tam liked to flirt with. But I kept hold of the hope his kiss brought me. Maybe one day, I thought, maybe one day life could bring another possibility like that.

You never knew how I felt about Tam. You were too young. You still don’t know. There’s so much you don’t know. So much I should tell you.

 

We’d been out in the garden making snow angels and throwing snowballs, and dancing about like dervishes. Even Kaz had come out to join us, in spite of his cold. But Pearl slipped and got wet; she cried and said she was turning into ice, so Kaz took her back into the house. I was going to follow but then I saw a tall figure at our back gate. My heart jumped – just like the fish Kaz and I had seen leaping for insects by the old stone bridge – because it was Tam.

‘Hi, Mira.’ Tam was breathing fast, as if he’d been running. ‘Is Kaz home?’

‘He’s gone inside with Pearl.’ Don’t you want to talk to me?

Tam was dressed as always: in a long black coat and steel-tipped army boots without laces. He wore these clothes winter and summer. His one concession to the weather was a striped woollen hat: the dark, damp tendrils of his hair curled out from underneath it…

***

Here Casts No Shadow is available from all good bookshops as well via…

https://www.troubador.co.uk/bookshop/contemporary/here-casts-no-shadow/
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Here-Casts-Shadow-Bronwen-Griffiths/dp/1789013380

Bronwen Griffiths is also the author of A Bird in the House, (2014) and Not Here, Not Us – short stories of Syria, (2016). Her flash fiction and short stories have been widely published. She lives on the Sussex/Kent border.

www.bronwengriff.co.uk

https://twitter.com/bronwengwriter

***

Many thanks for your great opening lines Bronwen.

See you next week for some more opening lines.

Happy reading,

Jenny x

 

 


Opening Lines: STORM LOG-0505 by James D Mortain

This week’s Opening Lines come from fellow Devon based author, James D Mortain. It’s a pleasure to welcome James back to my blog to share the first 500 words from the very start of his acclaimed trilogy.

I am very grateful to have been invited back onto Jenny’s blog, this time with ‘Opening Lines’ to the first instalment of the Detective Deans Trilogy, STORM LOG-0505.

Here are the first 500 words…

Prologue

What made someone the ideal victim? he speculated.

Were they created that way, right from the start? Was it a case of nature or nurture? On the other hand, was it all down to luck, perhaps? Maybe they were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. He chuckled. There was no such thing as the wrong time. Everyone had a time, regardless of how it may play out.

He stared down intently at the washed-out family snap as if it was the first time he had seen it. The truth was, he had studied this photo many times before and with equal fascination.

He was alone. There was no noise from the TV or radio, only the sound of his own trancelike, metronomic breathing, eyes refusing to deviate from the photo as he gazed down at Mum, Dad and himself.

To anyone else it would be a classic family photograph: two children, a boy of about six and a girl of about eight, wearing woolly hats and scarves, frolicking in the snow with their parents. For him, though, it was more. It had always meant much more.

Back, then, to the question. He smiled, and closed the two halves of the black faux-leather photo album, carefully placed it into the box and slotted it in the correct position, the right way around, between number 3 and number 5.

He snorted joss stick-scented air through his flared nostrils and cast his mind back. The first was easy – he had been left with little alternative. The second fell somewhere between curiosity and education. And what of the next? He had been counting down her final days since they first met. She was… ideal, but she was not going to be alone. The one after her, he would leave to fate, and for the sporting hell of it.

 Chapter 1

 Carl considered himself fortunate to be with Amy. She was widely regarded as the university babe, especially amongst his mates. He would just smile, go along with what they would say, join in the banter so as not to lose face. If only they knew.

She was stunning, and fun – too stunning, and much too fun. He wished she were less popular, especially with the blokes. He despised the heads that would turn, the eyes that would undress her, the endless attempts to lure her. He carried a snail’s shell of doubt and suspicion. They had been together almost a year, and each month, each week and each day was increasingly destroying who he used to be. Who he should be.

His last conversation with Amy was on Friday afternoon in the university’s east car park.

‘So, you’re off to Devon again tonight,’ he said glumly.

She frowned. ‘You know I am.’

‘I was just wondering if something might have changed.’

‘No. But you know I’m back on Monday. We can meet up at lunchtime, if you like?’

Carl looked away.

‘God, what’s wrong with you?’ Amy nipped.

Carl…

 

BLURB

Detective Andrew Deans’ life was unremarkable, until the day he was handed his latest case.

Now, a psychic medium challenges everything Deans has been trained to believe, as the search for a missing student becomes the hunt for a savage murderer.

Forced to leave his wife at a time when she needs him most, Deans travels to a small coastal town where he is exposed to a supernatural dimension he could never have imagined existed.

Closing in on a unique killer, Deans must confront an even greater challenge – he can hear the voice of his dead victim.

Facing his own ‘spiritual awakening’, Deans’ life is in turmoil, but destiny has dealt its hand and Deans has placed those he loves most in ultimate peril.

***

STORM LOG-0505 is available in paperback (ISBN: 978-0993568701), on Amazon Kindle, and free on Kindle Unlimited. Click the links or visit my website to find out more. Amazon UK  Amazon US

Book 2 in the trilogy, DEAD BY DESIGN, is also available in paperback, on Amazon Kindle and free on Kindle Unlimited, and the final part of the Detective Deans Trilogy, THE BONE HILL, is due for release early 2019.

BIO

A former CID Detective with the Avon and Somerset Constabulary, writing came as a something of a spontaneous act, when in 2012, following a chance encounter in a Bath bar with SAS veteran, TV personality and author, Chris Ryan, the spark of creativity ignited. I wanted to create a main protagonist in Detective ‘Deano’ Deans whose strengths and vulnerabilities were in equal measure, but frequently at odds. Using real-life experience within a busy CID department to give gripping authenticity, the Detective Deans Trilogy is an atmospheric, powerful, riveting and often emotional story of life, love, loss, and a touch of the miraculous.

With Chris Ryan’s words, “write what you know” ringing in my ears, STORM LOG-0505 is a true-to-life crime thriller with a pinch of paranormal spice, set between the city of Bath and the North Devon coastline.

Visit my social media pages and check out my website for the latest news and a chance to read all future books for free!

Website: jamesdmortain.com

Email: jdm@manverspublishing.com

Twitter: @JamesDMortain

Facebook: James D Mortain – Books

Instagram: jamesmortain

Thank you, Jenny xx

Thanks for a great blog James.

Come back next week to read 500 words from Bronwen Griffiths

Happy reading,

Jenny x


Opening Lines: Life…; and Other Dreams by Richard Dee

I’m delighted to welcome friend and fellow member of the Exeter Author Association, Richard Dee, to my place today for this week’s ‘Opening Lines.’

Let’s get cosy, sit back and enjoy the first 500 words (exactly), of some fabulous fantasy fiction…

 

Hi everyone, my thanks to Jenny for the opportunity to post here. I’m Richard Dee and I mainly write Science Fiction adventures, although I also dabble in Cosy Crime and Steampunk. Up to now, I’ve kept to straightforward tales of adventure, corporate misdeeds and conspiracy. With the odd murder thrown in.

Life and Other Dreams, the story I’m sharing with you today is a hybrid, a dual-time thriller. It started with a dream I had, where I found myself living in a slightly different version of my real life. That gave me the idea for Rick and Dan, two men separated by half a galaxy and six-hundred years.

Or are they?

Rick lives here on Earth, now, with Cath. His life is boring, writing adverts for cat food and exotic holidays. When he’s asleep, he dreams vividly. In his dreams, he lives as Dan, spending his time with his wife Vanessa. They live in the future, exploring another planet, searching for valuable minerals on an alien paradise. However, Dan is oblivious to Rick, he has no dreams about Ricks life, as far as he is concerned, he lives on Ecias and has no alter ego.

When the two worlds start to overlap, Rick starts to question what is real. Events in his waking and sleeping lives are mirrored, similar people inhabit both and coincidences mount up.

Then disaster strikes in each world at the same time. In his dreams, Dan is accused of a crime he didn’t commit. Meanwhile, after one coincidence too many, Rick’s wife thinks that his dreams are hiding an affair and leaves him.

Is Rick going crazy, or can he be living in two places, two times, at once? And which one of them is the reality? Will one life carry on when the other is on hold?

The first 500 words are set on the planet Ecias, six hundred years from now…

“Whoa! Vanessa, what are you trying to do? What’s the rush?”

The words were torn out of my mouth as we raced over the bumpy road, the open top of the buggy meant that you had to shout, especially when Vanessa was driving. She approached driving like she approached everything else, flat out and head on, daring it to get in her way or spoil her fun.

I gripped the armrests firmly and felt the harness dig into my shoulders every time we bounced, the suspension was doing its best, but at this speed it was fighting a losing battle with the rough surface. The road had been cut through the forest; the uneven sections filled in and levelled with rows of hardwood logs, held in place with a hard-packed mixture of earth and stones. The road swerved around the bigger trees and clung to the hillside. It was the sort of journey that you could sell to adventure-seeking tourists. At best, it was only just wide enough for two vehicles to pass.

You were supposed to sound your horn and slow down at the corners, in case there was a lorry coming the other way. Vanessa, predictably, didn’t bother. She kept the speed on and we shot around the corners not knowing what would be in front of us. “You can see the lorries through the trees,” she had explained to me, “if you keep your eyes open and look in the right place.” Maybe that was right, I had to hope that it was.

On either side of us, the tall trees were in full leaf; the equatorial sunlight shining through them was casting shadows over the road, exposing us to patches of light and dark as we headed into town. The air was warm and still, at least it would have been if we hadn’t been moving so fast that it felt like a full gale in our faces. Ecias was a paradise, with amazing scenery and beautiful wildlife. It was how Earth had probably been before we humans had got our despoiling hands on it. The trees had large flowers as well as their leaves; they were a magnet for bees, butterflies and multicoloured birds that looked like Earth’s hummingbirds. If you were quiet you could get right up close to them. Like all the wildlife on Ecias, they had not yet learned to fear man or what he could do to a planet.

We raced past a large warning sign. Fixed to a huge tree, it informed us in red letters that five-hundred metres ahead there was a sharp right-handed curve. An arrow underneath the letters emphasised the point. The good news was that after we had got around it, we could start our descent down the side of the hill into Richavon.

We weren’t in any particular hurry. While it was true that the supply ship was due, it would be here for at least a day.  Vanessa just liked the exhilaration that speed…

My current plan is for the novel to be published in late February 2019. You can keep up with its progress and find out more about me on my website at richarddeescifi.co.uk. Head over there to see what I get up to, click the FREE STUFF tab or the PORTFOLIO tab to get all the details about my work and pick up a free novel or short story.

I’m on Facebook at RichardDeeAuthor  and Twitter at Richard Dee Sci-Fi 

***

Many thanks for visiting today Richard.

Come back next week for some opening lines from Rachel Brimble.

Happy reading,

Jenny x


Opening Lines: Vengeance by Roger A. Price

It’s that time again! Opening Lines blog day is upon us. This week I’m welcoming Roger A. Price to my place, with the first 500 words of his crime thriller, Vengeance.

Over to you Roger…

I’m thrilled to a guest on Jenny’s Opening Lines blog which serves as such a great opportunity for authors and readers alike, and I can only thank her for all the work that running her blog must entail. I’m an ex-detective from a CID and Specialist Ops background who can’t really talk about what I did, but love to use those experiences to drive my pen. Authentic, gritty and pacy, my novels don’t  let you rest for too long, hopefully. I hope you enjoy the opening to Vengeance, and thanks again to Jenny for having me stop by.

First 500 words

Chapter One

Jack Quintel didn’t need to be here, he’d requested his usual proof of death, but as he hadn’t used this killer before, he wanted to see it for himself. It took him a while to find a spot among the trees, and he was conscious of not flattening too many bluebells that were everywhere at this time of year. He knew the killer Charlie was no mug, nor was the target, Jim Reedly. If all went well Quintel planned to use Charlie again. The last thing he wanted was for him to realise he’d been here checking up on him; after all, he’d asked for his normal, if not unusual, evidence that the job had been done. He just wanted to satisfy himself, and watch the killer’s craft. Enjoy the show.

It was starting to go dusk so that would help; he just hoped Reedly wasn’t late home and it became too dark – he knew that wouldn’t bother Charlie, but he was beginning to wish he’d brought a pair of night-vison glasses.  It took a couple of minutes to settle himself as he took in the surroundings. The house was a fairly new build, but a grand affair nonetheless, detached in its own grounds with a tree-lined private driveway – the privileges of rank. Its location was handy though, Fulwood was an established district of Preston and had more than its share of such houses – especially on the eastern side of the city where a lot of the newer builds were situated. It wasn’t far away from the industrial unit Quintel had hired, or had had hired for him. That was in a traditional brown field estate behind a newish built Asda supermarket. Perfect; as it backed onto the M6 motorway. Quintel always liked an emergency egress from anywhere he used; he was cautious, he had to be.

Quintel passed the time trying to fathom out where Charlie would be. He guessed somewhere where the car would stop, somewhere near the house-front. He could see a turn-around in front of the property which would seem to be the obvious place, but he couldn’t see Charlie, which wasn’t entirely surprising, given the circumstances. He just hoped his suspicions were ill-founded; it was not that easy finding a good assassin. You couldn’t just type ‘killer wanted to join enthusiastic team’ into an internet search engine, well, not without a world of trouble landing on you. It was just that he had learned long ago not to ignore his hunches; he wouldn’t have reached his forties if he had.  The setting sun was dropping behind him now so he made sure he had good cover behind the oak trees. A peaceful vista, which was about to be shattered…

***

Blurb

Jack Quintel is a hit man. When a job comes in to kill the Deputy Chief Constable of the Greater Manchester Police Jim Reedly, he contracts it out to a new guy, Charlie Parker…
Watching in the shadows, Quintel sees Parker shoot out Reedly’s windscreen, then drag him into the woods and thinks the job’s been done.
But when Parker tries to pass off a pig’s heart as Reedly’s, things start to go very wrong. Jack’s right hand man Jason kills Charlie, who it turns out is an undercover police officer.
Detective Vinnie Palmer is with the Preston police. He was called in when they received the information about the impending hit.
Now he has to figure out how to clean up the mess.
And he wants whoever killed Parker bad. He finds the man who put Parker in touch with Quintel, a low life hood named Dempter, living in an estate in Preston.
He doesn’t know much, but motivated by money, agrees to be an informant for the police.
Christine Jones is a TV reporter. She and Vinnie had worked together before, chasing a serial killer.
They meet again at the warehouse where Charlie was killed, and realise their relationship could be more than professional.
But first, Christine wants to know what’s happening. Christine is working on a documentary about positive discrimination against non-Catholic officers in Northern Ireland since the peace process. She makes contact with a former police officer in Northern Belfast named Paul Bury, who feeds her some of the information she needs.
Meanwhile, as the bodies start to pile up in Preston, there’s another attempt on Reedly’s life, when a grenade is thrown at him at his brother-in-law’s funeral.
As Vinnie fights to keep Reedly alive, suddenly Christine’s life is in danger.
And they both start to wonder if the contract against Reedly has anything to do with her documentary on Northern Ireland. But how could it?
Filled with twists and turns and gritty detail, Vengeance is must read for crime fans everywhere.

***

LINKS:

Amazon UK Author Page: https://goo.gl/h2IYX8

Amazon UK for Vengeance: https://goo.gl/oxy9BI

Amazon US Author Page: https://goo.gl/tqFi0h

Amazon US for Vengeance: https://goo.gl/NSeSZi

Roger’s Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/CrimethillersbyRogerAPrice/

Roger’s Twitter:  https://twitter.com/RAPriceAuthor

Roger’s website: www.rogerapriceauthor.com

Bio

Roger spent thirty years in the police retiring as a detective inspector in charge of a covert undercover drugs unit which received national acclaim, before turning to the pen. His first two novels – By Their Rules, and A New Menace – are in their own series driven from the covert side of crime and his ‘Badge and the Pen’ series is too but with normal investigative fiction thrown in as well.

Vengeance is the second in this series which stars maverick DI Vinnie Palmer and his sidekick, investigative TV news reporter, Christine Jones. They are unlikely bedfellows, which makes their relationship interesting as they chase dark forces which only become even darker.

The third book in this series – Hidden – is written and will hopefully be next year. Roger’s novels can be read in any order as they work well as standalones too.

Roger is also developing an original TV drama script and is planning to adapt some of his existing novels into script too.

***

 

Many thanks Roger. Great opener.

Don’t forget to come out next week for some opening lines from Gilli Allan.

Happy reading,

Jenny x


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