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Tested To The Extreme

Lisa Towles Author Interview

The Ridders follows a self-proclaimed wreck of a human being who is given a seemingly simple task that spirals wildly out of control. What were some ideas that sparked your imagination while writing?

I like the idea of taking common occurrences and making them uncommon, and then watching what our characters do under duress. I’m always fascinated to see if my characters crumble under the pressure, rise to it, or even thrive, maybe, ignited by some previously unseen inner force. I think that’s the case with BJ.

What were some obstacles you felt were important to defining BJ’s character in the story?

His feelings about his family are tested to the extreme in this book. So love and loyalty turned out to be not only obstacles but liabilities for him, to the advantage of his pursuers. BJ’s a searcher, and that means he cares about the truth and authenticity far more than safety, certainties, and predictability. And so reconciling the truth of his relationship with Lacy was also an important turning point for him.

I find that authors often ask themselves questions and then let their characters answer them. Do you think that’s true?

I love these insightful questions! Definitely – one of the questions I like to ask (my characters and myself) is “what would happen if…” I love, when reading thrillers or watching movies, the author or director is following the predictable formula and then yanks the rug out. This story follows the path of a young private investigator trying to prove himself. But in his pursuit of worthiness, he proves that he’s way over his head. I think the questions that came to mind while writing this book were “How far will you go to find the truth” and, more importantly, “What will you risk to find those answers?”

When and where will this book be available?

All retail book stores and it will be released on November 30th 2022 by Indies United Publishing. It will be published in paperback, hardcover, Kindle, and audiobook formats.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Tiktok | Website

Brock “BJ” Janoff and his older brother Jonas run a private investigation firm in Venice, CA. BJ is randomly approached by a stranger on the street with a proposition he can’t refuse – one million dollars to deliver a single envelope to a hotel lobby. They pay him up front, which sounds good on the surface, but now BJ’s life is in danger if he doesn’t deliver the envelope in time. Obsessed with the envelope’s contents and the “why me”, BJ follows clues to investigate the players behind what he believes is an organized crime scam. When an act of brilliance changes the balance of power, the safety of everyone he loves is in jeopardy. And the more he digs, the closer he gets to truths he can’t bear to face – about the elusive Bilderberg Group, his missing father, and about the fate of everyone he loves.

What would a real war on drugs look like?

Antim Straus Author Interview

Camp David Conspiracy follows a reporter who works to uncover the link between politicians, the drug cartel, and unexplained overdoes. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

The idea for this novel came to me when reading how mad cow disease (BSE) caused beef demand around the world to plummet. People were afraid to eat beef for fear of “catching” mad cow. Similarly, tainted product scares with spinach, Tylenol, cantaloupe, apple juice, and even the Chipotle restaurant chain caused the public to avoid these products in mass.

I asked myself the question: “Would fear of dying from tainted cocaine cause users to avoid cocaine use?” From there, I structured a conspiracy story where overdose deaths suddenly and mysteriously start occurring across the US; and how users, sellers, the cartels, and the government would react.

This book was first published in November 2018. Today—in the world of “real life imitating fiction”— fentanyl laced opioids, heroin, cocaine, and even “legal” painkillers are causing overdose deaths to skyrocket. Could the Camp David Conspiracy storyline be taking place in real life?

Was there anything from your own life that you put into the characters in your novel?

I was a journalism major in college. And though I never worked as a reporter, I am impressed with investigative reporting—the ability to put small facts together to uncover a broader story.

Geoffrey Wines, the central character in the Geoffrey Wines Series is based on a specific personality, but his actions are a conglomeration of great journalists like Woodward, Bernstein, and high-profile investigations over the years.

In writing any character, I tend to have one person in mind, who I adopt and embellish.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

At the time I wrote this book, drug use and the drug wars across America continued to rage as the government’s war on drugs showed little progress in deterring people who enjoy the use of drugs. Meanwhile, cartels and sellers earn billions of dollars meeting this demand.

I show how each level of this supply and demand equation works to everyone’s advantage; except the authorities who are hamstrung in tracking and convicting the cartels and sellers.

While the book posits a realistic approach, it also asks: “What would a real war on drugs look like?”

I try to answer this question with historical references to a real war (WWII)—while reporter Geoffrey Wines unearths the most brazen plot he could ever imagine.

What story are you currently in the middle of writing?

I am writing the third book in the Geoffrey Wines series. (The second book: Disorder – A Novel launched on March 1, 2022). It will include the current journalistic relationship between Geoffrey Wines and President Osbourne. I will keep its storyline quiet until publication, currently anticipated for early in 2023.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Instagram | Website

Geoffrey Wines, Metro Reporter for the Washington Post loves his gritty beat of reporting on drugs and gangs in the DC area.

He instantly knows things are not right when drug overdoses in DC and other metro areas start to spike. His suspicions heighten when five DC gang-bangers overdose from a new brick of cartel-delivered cocaine, and then confirmed when a prominent DC Attorney suffers the same fate. What could be so lethal? So undetectable? And who could be behind it?

Wines and his inner-city intern begin to connect the dots that lead someplace neither would suspect. Their probe takes them from the depths of inner-city Washington DC tenements to Cartel kingpins to the highest reaches of the US Justice Department. In the middle of their exploration,

Wines discovers human frailties and friendships that are unshakable as everywhere he looks, there are good guys, bad guys and some who straddle the thin line in-between. In this gray-space he unravels the Camp David Conspiracy.

It’s Prime For A Serial Killer

BJ Taylor Author Interview

Requiem follows a unique team from the U.S. Marshal department as they hunt a serial killer using some unconventional methods. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

First, the setting is urban, maquiladora, twin manufacturing plants or twin fruit/vegetable plants. I know this area of Reynosa and McAllen, TX very well. I built three industrial plants in three years with twin plants in Reynosa and in Hidalgo County, across the River. I know the worker schedules and hardships. There are multinational plant managers in Reynosa which often do not take into consideration local worker culture. At the same time, the manufacturing plants for automotive parts and scientific instruments must maintain international quality control procedures. It’s prime for a serial killer.

Did you create an outline for the characters in the story before you started writing or did the characters personalities grow organically as you were writing?

The story flows organically from the land of the border and the characters that live there. Most of the inhabitants of the RGV (Rio Grande Valley) and their families have lived there long before Americans invaded this area a little over a hundred years ago. For a better understanding of the borders, recall the hyper-aggressive American forces that took this area by force without reparations. It’s helpful in understanding the real problem with immigration. Within the last fifty years, recall the United States manipulation of the governments of all of Central America and Mexico, and the internal chaos that ensued. These tactics caused social and political unrest, in Central America and Haiti especially, pushing those citizens to flee. Because of our manipulative foreign policies, we need to better understand the sea of humanity surging to the border and understand that, as Americans, we are morally obligated to help the immigrants who have suffered due to our foreign policies.

Did you do a lot of research to maintain the accuracy of the Native American shaman practices?

No, I know a number of Native Americans.

What can you tell readers about book three in the series and when will it be available?

Hallelujah is available now on Amazon. Requiem will release June 21 and Reservoir will follow on July 26. All can be found on Amazon.com.

Author Links: GoodReads | Website

The souls of the dead cry out for help in “Requiem”…
U.S. Federal Marshal Gabriella Zamora, and her team, brought shocking revelations to the surface when they solved the case of a U.S. Border Patrol Agent murdered on a remote highway in Texas. Coming face-to-face with those who wished to destroy them should have earned Gabe and her special ops team a brief rest. Instead, within hours of their success, an even more terrifying challenge is assigned…a mission to stop a serial killer whose brutal attacks on women working in Mexico warehouses are escalating with each new victim.
Gabe, along with Marshal Alex Ranslow—a Native American shaman who ‘sees’ things others cannot; Sam DeSilva—the team’s IT genius; and Cyn Beauvoir—a woman with the power to take down an entire gang, race to the Rio Grande Valley where their hunt begins.
The team soon finds themselves thrust into a war involving drug kingpins, political enemies, and a psychotic mind. Not only will this Borderland Mystery test the strength, wit, and courage of the marshals, it will also be the catalyst that forces Gabe to deal with past relationships that were, most likely, better off left for dead.

Camp David Conspiracy

The war on drugs in America is raging. Everyone, from low-income communities to the high-end politicians, lawyers, and doctors, enjoys the hard-hitting high that comes from cocaine, heroin, and other recreational drugs. Unfortunately, federal government organizations like the DEA and FBI are at a loss on how to stop this profitable and overly active industry. It is not until President Osbourne’s best friend loses his son to a mugging gone wrong by a drug addict looking for cash to pay for his next hit that he takes the war on drugs seriously. Too seriously. Casualties on both sides of this war reveal corruption and conspiracies from every angle. Author Antim Straus writes a fictional piece based on the history of the War on Drugs in Camp David Conspiracy.

The author has a solid understanding of politics and the war on drugs, and it is clear the author has done his research. Character development is one of the highlights of this novel. The story follows several characters from the White House, the Cartel, reporter Wines, drug dealers, and many more. I really enjoyed this approach because I was able to see from each character’s perspective how drugs personally affected their lives. The author’s ability to create a wide cast of characters is one to be applauded, as each character was very different and believable.

The author seamlessly changes perspectives between characters within each chapter; I always knew who was talking and whose thoughts readers were listening in on. In addition, the author explains in detail concepts like buyers, sellers, dropping packages, runners, etc., which allows the reader to understand the criminal side of drug dealing. I felt like I was watching a crime show, and I found it hard to put this book down. I also liked how pieces of the news articles were inserted into the book, fully immersing the reader in the drama.

I feel this book is more of a crime thriller than a political thriller, and I only mention this as it may deter other readers from picking up this enticing book. Camp David Conspiracy is a raw, gritty, and intense read that takes the reader into a deep dive into the drug operation and the war on drugs. This is the first book in Antim Straus’s Geoffrey Wines Series. I look forward to reading the second book in the series Disorder.

Camp David Conspiracy is a riveting political thriller novel that will have readers on edge with each suspenseful chapter. This crime fiction book is filled with intimate details of how drug rings are conducted and the conspiracy of those in high political places.

Pages: 335 | ASIN : B07KDW9L9Z

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Requiem 

Requiem is BJ Taylor’s riveting continuation of The Borderland Mysteries, a fantastic crime fiction series portrayed in a unique format. Suspicious activity is occurring yet again around the territorial border. It’s up to U.S. Federal Marshal Gabriella Zamora and her team to investigate and uncover the mystery, protecting the civilians with value and honor.

A series of murders have been recorded: young Mexican women are being viciously murdered by a possible serial killer creeping into the area of the maquiladoras near the border. The industry of the maquiladoras is very important to the U.S.’s economy, bringing a new dimension to the problem at hand. Again, the team is involved in the investigation of a crime that could have relevant political and economical implications. This time the crime seems riskier and poses a real danger to the team: will they find out the truth behind everything without suffering any damage?

One of the most intriguing elements of this book is Gabriella Zamora’s team. They are diverse and unique, each of them bringing something new and different to this enthralling story, thus turning it into a very dynamic and gripping narrative. Through this series, the attachment to the characters continues to grow progressively, showing true potential for future books. The plot presented is a little more complex than in the first book as the crimes become more serious. However, the characters’ charm makes the whole plot an adventure worth following.

There is tension and a true sense of mystery that keeps the reader captivated at all times, flying through every page. This is not your typical mystery series though, there are creative elements in the story that make it stand out from the conventional books of this genre. One of these elements is the connection with spirituality that some of the characters have, each of them remaining faithful to their culture and illustrating in a beautiful manner the spiritual aspect of peoples’ lives on the border. The author has portrayed these spiritual beliefs in a respectful and beautiful manner.

Requiem is a suspenseful mystery novel that will draw readers in from the start. Diversity, culture, family, and strange enigmas are key elements in this stunning book. This is a thrilling crime adventure with a compelling plot that deals with friendship and morals; perfectly balancing the good and the bad of humanity.

Pages: 159 | ASIN : B09VWG44ZT

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Hallelujah

Hallelujah by BJ Taylor is the first book of the Borderland Mysteries, a beautifully engaging story surrounding culture, justice, and humanity. U.S. Federal Marshal for Texas, Gabriella Zamora, is needed to find out what really happened in a car accident that caused the death of one Border Patrol Agent and the severe injury of another. Theories and unfounded rumors are spreading as the President of the United States see this event as an opportunity to boost his campaign against illegal Mexican immigrants. Even though no one knows what really happened, people are starting to believe that the agents were purposely killed by immigrants near the border and see this occurrence as a danger to national security that needs to be addressed immediately.

Gabriella Zamora and her team are willing to work on this task and find the truth behind the brutal accident, committed to protecting immigrants from falsehoods exposed on social media by certain political agencies. This realistic book deals quite accurately with the way our current world uses politics and distorts the truth to fit a given agenda. Serious themes such as racism and homophobia are dealt with respect and in a delicate way that exposes how cruel and inhuman it is to declare war on a group of people based solely on who they are or where they come from.

The plot is presented as a mystery that needs to be solved. We follow the assigned crew as they interview people and follow clues, trying to figure out what happened. The characters are diverse and have very distinct personalities. The culture that is part of the borderland territories is an important aspect of this gripping book and is showcased beautifully. Different elements such as spirituality, art, and culture are displayed quite freely, giving the story some uniqueness and creativity. Parts of the book are also centered around the song Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen, which was a unique approach that worked well with the story.

When the world of politics pervades everything, Gabriella Zamora and her team seem to know their job is to remain grounded, staying connected to the natural world and their culture as they devote their lives to protecting humans and fighting for justice.

Hallelujah is a fast-paced short story, easy to read, and leaves readers wanting to figure out what new mysteries will be brought to light in the second book. This political thriller covers realistic situations and relevant topics to the world today.

Pages: 98 | ASIN : B09VC6L3HY

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Unravel How Disinformation Travels

Antim Straus Author Interview

Disorder follows a reporter that sets out to solve the mystery of how an unlikely candidate is rocketing to the top of the polls. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

This book is a combination of three fictional storylines that miraculously merged early one morning. I had plotlines for a book entitled “The Election” – about a rigged election; another for a “Fixer series” – about a mysterious person who manipulates events for pay; and a third called “The Cure” – about a plan put in place to reacquaint Americans with our national values.

At the time I was not looking to write a second book (sequel to Camp David Conspiracy) featuring reporter Geoffrey Wines, nor President Osbourne. Yet, that morning, the three merged with Geoffrey Wines and President Robert Osbourne becoming the vehicle to tell a story that centers on the disfunction that disinformation wreaks on our society.

I will add this book was well on its way before the 2020 election, the false narrative about the election results, and the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on January 6. It also predated the start of the anti-Covid vaccine disinformation campaigns. During its writing, the WSJ “Facebook Papers” were released; information about the Pegasus spyware / cell-phone hacks reported; and several academic papers were released detailing the actual flow of disinformation during the 2016 election.

Ironically, almost to the day of the book’s March 1 release: Russia invaded Ukraine; Putin’s motivation discussed; and his use of disinformation on both the Russian and Ukraine people reported.

Each of these events only fortified the storyline’s premise.

What scene in the book did you have the most fun writing?

I loved writing the dialogue scenes between Geoffrey Wines and President Osbourne. The banter back and forth was fun to write, giving each a voice and cadence to their speech.

The single scene I most enjoyed writing was when an unknown person enters Jimmy Olsen’s home and tries to penetrate the hallway leading to his operations center. I just love the way the entire scene unfolds, the nerd humor, and its ramifications later in the book (and this book’s sequel).

I also enjoyed writing the Washington Post newsroom interchanges as Wines and Olsen explain their findings to the paper’s editors. A lot of conflicting, yet important agendas come to play during these scenes.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

The most important theme is the pervasiveness of disinformation throughout American society and how it is disseminated to the public in a falsely credible fashion. I try to show this in different ways throughout the story to ensure it sticks with the reader.

My introduction to this phenomenon occurred maybe ten years ago when I heard from a relative that one party was threatening to outlaw outdoor BBQ grills. It was a preposterous claim, but it always stuck with me. Later, a friend at tennis one night was telling about a political party trafficking kids from a Washington D.C. pizza parlor and how Sandy Hook was a hoax. This too stuck with me. Then in the throes of the 2016 election, I remember people questioning how social media could possibly have any sway in the election.

This book attempts to unravel how disinformation travels from its source — to social media — to mainstream media — to finally how our elected politicians give these lies credibility for personal and partisan advantage. We see how the public’s sources of news are highly segregated based on political persuasion and witness its impact in creating disorder in our society. The book tries to explain how and why we as a nation seem to be dealing with two sets of facts when trying to make personal decisions regarding Covid vaccines or understanding why gasoline prices are rising.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

I am writing the third book in the Geoffrey Wines series. It will include the current journalistic relationship between Geoffrey Wines and Jimmy Olsen. I will keep its storyline quiet until publication, currently anticipated for early in 2023.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Instagram | Website

Strange events rock the presidential election primaries when an unlikely candidate emerges. Intrigued and suspicious, Geoffrey Wines, Washington Post’s Pulitzer Prize winning reporter will stop at nothing to uncover who is manipulating the candidate’s surprising rise to the top.
Joining in his quest is James Olsen, the paper’s new media correspondent. With the young and talented writer and computer hacker at his side, Wines unearths the shocking scheme. But the Post’s editors will stop at nothing to keep the truth buried.
Watergate meets The Pentagon Papers in this thrilling tale of deception and determination reaching into the very ethos of our national government.

If the political drama of Watergate, Monica-Gate, The Pentagon Papers, or the exposé books by Bob Woodward excite you, then you will be entranced by DISORDER from beginning to end.

The Future is a Memory

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“The basis for our political systems is the right of the people to make and to alter their Constitutions of Government. But the Constitution, which at any time exists, ‘till changed by an explicit and authentic act of the whole people is sacredly obligatory to all.”

The great George Washington said these words in 1796, and how applicable they are today. Washington’s words lead off the book The Future is a Memory, a slickly written and satisfying political thriller by C. Ross. It begins with Madame President Rebecca arguing with her chief of staff and others in the future world of 2039, in which no nuclear weapons exist but life is still mighty complicated.

Oftentimes books that take place in the future depress me, but this one has a timeless feel that is no doubt applicable today. Politics, fortitude, bravery, civic-mindedness, the rights of individuals—it’s all here. The Future is a Memory is exciting and makes you think.

The story follows a group of accomplished and dedicated women, including President Rebecca, who come together in varied ways to bravely stand for freedom. Ultimately, it’s President Rebecca who must make a decision that will affect the course of the world. I told you it’s an exciting read with twists and turns.

One portion of the novel caught my eye right away: “The North Atlantic Treaty Organization, NATO, was effete and had been for years. However, its purpose was to defend Western and Eastern European countries from middle Asia’s third and fourth worlds.” Substitute Russia with “middle Asia’s” and we might as well be talking about political strife in 2022!

I liked the personality of the tough and wise President Rebecca, who appreciates flowers as much as the next gal but doesn’t have a man to receive them from, sadly. She always looks at her job through the prism of the past, calling to mind major U.S. events such as the Civil War, the ratification of the 13th Amendment, and the reunification of the great Union. Despite her sharp mind, life seems lonely at the top for President Rebecca. Her lady cohorts in crime have different personalities but are equally courageous, though surprises abound.

I wasn’t sure how this book would conclude; it kept me glued throughout. Some of the prose toward the end gave me chills, and I wish people would think in a more civically minded way. Issues like citizenship, the preservation of life, and the pursuit of happiness unrestricted are concepts that people don’t seem to care much about these days. Everyone is so individualistic, and this book drives home that we all should think beyond just ourselves if we want democracy to survive.

The Future is a Memory is a riveting and thought-provoking political thriller by C. Ross that will inspire patriots but also entertain readers with a dystopian future that’s eerily reminiscent of reality. This book will take you on a contemporary hero’s journey, following a collection of heroic women that persevere in the face of adversity.

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