Ellen M. Collier: FLAPPERS, FLASKS AND FOUL PLAY Book Tour

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“Boardwalk Empire” meets “The Great Gatsby” in this soft-boiled  historical mystery, inspired by actual events. Rival gangs fight over  booze and bars during Prohibition in 1920s Galveston: the “Sin City of  the Southwest.” Jazz Cross, a 21-year-old society reporter, feels caught  between two clashing cultures: the seedy speakeasy underworld and the  snooty social circles she covers in the Galveston Gazette.

During a night out with her best friend, Jazz witnesses a bar fight at  the Oasis–a speakeasy secretly owned by her black-sheep half-brother,  Sammy Cook. But when a big-shot banker with a hidden past collapses  there and later dies, she suspects foul play. Was it an accident or a  mob hit?

Soon handsome young Prohibition Agent James Burton raids the Oasis,  threatening to shut it down if Sammy doesn’t talk. Suspicious, he  pursues Jazz but, despite her mixed feelings, she refuses to rat on  Sammy. As turf wars escalate between two real-life Galveston gangs,  Sammy is accused of murder. Jazz must risk her life and career to find  the killer, exposing the dark side of Galveston’s glittering society.

Excerpt:
Why in the world was Agent Burton here? Everyone stopped working to watch him make his grand entrance. People don’t usually parade around in a newsroom: They sort of shuffle or stumble or stomp—unless a story’s really hot, then they’ll run. I felt like running away too, but I stayed glued to my chair, pretending to work, my heart racing. What did he want from me?

Burton seemed to enjoy the attention as he headed my way. He was hard to ignore: Standing before me, all six feet-plus of golden skin and hair, he towered over my desk. Looking up, I noticed the curious eyes watching us in the too-quiet newsroom. The reporters stopped typing, fingers poised over keys, hoping for a scoop. My boss stared with unabashed interest.

“To what do I owe this disturbance?” I adjusted my cloche, acting nonchalant.
He grinned at me, then looked around the suddenly still office. “I need to ask you a few questions. Can we go somewhere private?”
“What do you want?” I put on a brave face so the newsboys wouldn’t see me sweat.

Burton scanned the hushed room. “You really want to discuss it here, out in public?”

He had a point. Did I want the whole staff listening in on my private conversation? He probably wanted to discuss Sammy, who was no one else’s business.

“Let’s go outside,” I agreed. Head down, I followed him past a leering Hank, feeling like a naughty kid going to the principal’s office.

Nathan entered the newsroom, a camera slung over his shoulder, stopping to stare at Burton. “Jazz, is everything jake?”

“Everything’s berries.” I smiled to pacify him but, I admit, I had the jitters.

“I remember him. Your boyfriend?” Burton seemed amused.

“He’s the staff photographer.” I ignored his crack. “And a good friend.”

Outside, I felt safe among the throng of people and automobiles passing by in a rush. The hustle and bustle of the streets and sidewalks seemed almost comforting. I looked around for Golliwog, our resident stray cat, but she must have been making her daily rounds for scraps.
“How was lunch?” In broad daylight, Burton didn’t seem quite as menacing or intimidating. Besides, a group of hard-boiled reporters peered out the newsroom, spying on us.

“Fine.” I covered my growling stomach. “What brings you here?”

“Sorry to barge in that way.” He smiled, tugging on his hat. “But I had to get your attention. You wouldn’t give me the time of day the other night.”

“Can you blame me? A raid isn’t exactly the best way to meet new people.”

“I think we got off on the wrong foot.” He stuck his hands in his pockets, jingling some change. “Perhaps we can talk over dinner, instead of standing out here on the sidewalk?”

“Dinner?” Was he serious? “Just like that?” I snapped my fingers. “You waltz in as if you owned the place—like you did at the Oasis—and expect me to dine out with you, a total stranger, because of your badge? You’ve got a lot of nerve, mister.”

“I wouldn’t be a Prohibition agent if I didn’t.” He looked smug. “How about tonight?”

“Tonight? I usually work late.” I admit, I was curious. What did he really want?

“Every night?” He raised his brows. “Don’t they let you off for good behavior?”

“For starters, I don’t even know you and what I do know, I don’t like at all.” I squinted in the sun. “And I don’t appreciate the way you bullied us at the Oasis. I thought people were innocent until proven guilty, not the other way around.” I wasn’t usually so bold and blunt with strangers, especially lawmen. Maybe it was his youth, or maybe I’d finally found my moxie.

“You must mean Sammy. Fair enough.” He held up his hands. “If it makes you feel any better, my gun wasn’t loaded that night.”

“Small comfort now, after you scared everyone half to death.” So it was all an act?

Burton looked down at his boots, as if reconsidering his options. “I hoped you could get to know me over dinner, but how about a quick bite now? I haven’t eaten.”

“Why not?” I nodded, not wanting to let on that I was famished.

Burton stopped at a sandwich vendor on the corner, and tried to pay for my lunch and Nehi, but I pulled out a quarter before he did. It wasn’t a date!

“Where can we talk, in private?” He motioned towards the newsroom. “Away from prying eyes and ears.”

Anxious, I led him towards a city park and we sat on opposite ends of a bench, my clutch bag like a barricade, keeping my distance.

“So what’s the emergency? Why did you come by today, out of the blue? I hope I’m not under arrest!” I half-joked.

Author Bio:
Ellen Mansoor Collier is a Houston-based freelance magazine writer whose articles and essays have been published in several national magazines including: FAMILY CIRCLE, MODERN BRIDE, GLAMOUR, BIOGRAPHY, COSMOPOLITAN, COUNTRY ACCENTS, PLAYGIRL, etc. Several of her short stories (both mystery and romance) have appeared in WOMAN’S WORLD.

A flapper at heart, she’s the owner of DECODAME, specializing in Deco to retro vintage items (www.art-decodame.com). Formerly she’s worked as a magazine editor/writer, and in advertising sales and public relations. She graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in Magazine Journalism. During college, she once worked as a cocktail waitress, a short-lived experience since she was clueless about cocktails. Flappers, Flasks and Foul Play is her first novel, inspired by real people and places. Currently, she’s working on the sequel.

“When you grow up in Houston, Galveston becomes like a second home. I had no idea this sleepy beach town had such a wild and colorful past until I began doing research, and became fascinated by the legends and stories of the 1920s. I love the glamour and excitment of The Jazz Age, but Prohibition was also such a dark and dangerous time in American history. Jazz isn’t a debutante or socialite, she’s a reporter caught in between the two halves of Galveston society, struggling to do the right thing despite all the temptations and decadence of the era.”

Look for Ellen at the following haunts:
Website
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Andrew P.Weston: GUARDIAN ANGELS Book Tour

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In a series of terrifying events, otherworldly beings intervene to save innocent lives.

The world community reacts with relief as they realize that guardian  angels may in fact exist, and they are diligently protecting us.

But there are those who would seek to stop what they feel is a threat  against their livelihoods. How far will some go to battle the Guardians?  Is the fairy tale over before it even begins?

Guardian Angels is a powerful and compelling story about the catalyst  that has the power to unite society in the hope for a better future. The  spark of hope is fragile—can it last?

Excerpt:
Luigi decided to toast himself and his accomplishments again. Finding  his glass empty, he rang the bell for a top up, and continued to gloat,  firmly believing he was beyond accountability.

When the door to the study opened a few minutes later and Gianni, the  housekeeper, came in with his favorite Black Pearl Louis XIII cognac on a  silver tray, he insisted the old servant stay with him and drink to his  success. “Come, Gianni, stay, celebrate with me. Good times should be  shared with trusted friends.” The gesture wasn’t missed by Gianni. At  fifty-five thousand dollars a bottle, the cognac was one of the most  expensive in the world, and he quickly poured a generous helping into  two glasses. As he handed one to his boss, he paused momentarily to  savor the bouquet of the blended flowers, fruits, spices, and the deep  amber color of the aromatic liquid.

“You’re looking particularly pleased with yourself today, young Sir. Good news?”

“It’s the very best of news, Gianni, and one that appears to be  maturing with age.” He replied without looking away from the screens.

The old housekeeper tossed down his drink in one and shuffled to stand  deferentially behind his employer. He listened as yet more reports of  the suffering caused by the missile detonations were announced. “That  mess doesn’t look like there’s much to be happy about, Sir. Surely that  doesn’t please you, does it?”

“Aah, Gianni, sometimes, when you need to make a point, you have to  catch your enemy’s attention,” Luigi replied. “You have to ensure they  not only respect you, but fear you. I’m pleased because I’ve done just  that. Wouldn’t you agree, my old friend?”

When no reply was forthcoming, Luigi naturally assumed the old housekeeper must have been unable to hear his question.

Turning in his seat, he felt a peculiar throbbing, tingling sensation  in his teeth and sinuses. “I said ‘wouldn’t you agr . . . .’” Luigi’s  voice choked off in his throat as he caught sight of Gianni’s eyes. The  distinctive, familiar, lazy old eyes of his longtime employee seemed to  be undergoing some kind of metamorphosis. Gone was the semi-vacant,  un-focused faraway look he always seemed to display as he pottered  about. Instead, Luigi was looking into the hardest, most piercing eyes  he had ever seen, eyes that seemed to glow with an inner furnace to  match the cold look of rage chiseled onto his face.

The shock made him drop his glass onto the carpet, spilling about three  thousand dollars worth of the deep amber nectar. Transfixed he watched  as Gianni’s body straightened, grew, and bulked out.

As the years fell away from his face, he realized without a doubt that  he was going to fully shoulder the burdens his choices had wrought.  Before him stood his own personal living nightmare made flesh, dressed  from head to toe in black. Instantly he felt the fire rising within him,  straining for release.

The Guardian stepped forward, making the barest of gestures with his  finger as he did so, and Luigi found himself lifted into the air by some  unseen force. He was held motionless, helpless as a puppet awaiting the  commands of his master.

Nodding at the screens, the Guardian spoke. “Allow me to introduce  myself. I am Andrew, Guardian Lord of Shadow Operations. Did you  seriously think you’d get away with something like this?”

Luigi stared defiantly back, fighting to overcome his shock at the  Guardian’s presence, and surprised at the lack of access to his ability.

“Do what you want, asshole, at least the world sees you as the frauds I knew you were!” he hissed.

“Do what I want? I’d love to, but unfortunately my boss won’t let me.”

Luigi stared impotently back at his nemesis as he strolled closer.

Once he was standing in front of him, the Shadow Lord said, “As for  exposing us as frauds? Well, I really don’t know why you would think  that. We never said or intimated we could be everywhere at once. The  world’s a sad enough place as it is without you adding to it. All we are  doing is trying to help people avoid as much heartbreak as possible.”  Andrew pointed to the repeat bulletins on the screens. “So, once the  world finds out that all this was the deliberate act of some sick and  twisted psycho who didn’t care how many suffered, just so long as he  could score some points, how do you think they’ll react to you, Luigi?”

The point struck home. Luigi struggled in an attempt to slap the  Guardian across the face, to do something to help vent the building fury  inside him.

Helpless, he continued stewing as the Guardian moved so close he was  able to whisper in his ear. “And when they find out about your  abilities, can you even begin to imagine how they’ll react to that? You  worthless, spineless, pathetic little man. I really wish they’d let me  play with you before we throw you to the wolves.”

“Fuck off, asshole, you don’t scare me.”

“Scare you?” Andrew smiled wickedly. “Oh no, Luigi, that’s not my job.  That’s hers!” The Guardian gestured behind Luigi at the same moment he  let go with his telekinesis. Although Luigi only dropped about a foot,  he crumpled to the floor, becoming acutely aware that the strange  throbbing in his teeth was even more pronounced than before.

Turning, Luigi was met with a vision of such barely contained power and fury that he immediately soiled his pants.

Andrew squatted beside him. “Allow me to introduce you to the head of  our investigations branch. This is Victoria, our Lord Inquisitor, and  she’s very pleased to meet you after all the suffering you’ve caused.”

Victoria stood in front of the TV screens, wreathed in a visible static  discharge that blew the circuits of all the electrical equipment in the  office and made the hairs on Luigi’s arms and head stand on end.

Her eyes, so similar to those of the Shadow Lord, intensified in luminosity and turned from grey to white hot.

Luigi shielded his eyes and cowered on the floor in his own excrement. What a fool I am. He thought.

In reply to his thoughts, the Shadow Lord said, “Yes Luigi, what a  murderous, cowardly fool of a man you are. I think the whole world will  agree when they find out, eh?”

Author Bio:
Andrew P Weston was born in the city of Birmingham, in the UK and grew  up in the towns of Bearwood and Edgbaston. He eventually attended Holly  Lodge Grammar School for Boy’s where he was School Captain and Head Boy. He was an active sportsperson for the school, college and a variety of  rugby, martial art, swimming and athletics teams throughout the city.

On graduation in 1977 he joined the Royal Marines fulfilling a number of  specialist roles both in the UK and abroad. In 1985 he became a police officer with the Devon & Cornwall  Constabulary, and served in a variety of uniformed and plain clothed  departments until his retirement in 2008.

Over those years, he wrote and illustrated a selection of private books  for his children regarding the life of a tiny kitten, called, The  Adventures of Willy Whiskers, gained further qualifications in Law and  Religious Studies, was an active member of Mensa and continued to be an  active sportsperson, providing lessons free of charge to local  communities.

An unfortunate accident received on duty meant Andrew had to retire  early from the police force, but after moving to the sunny Greek island  of Kos to speed up his recuperation, he was at last able to devote time  to the Guardian Concept he had developed over his years in the  military and police.

When not writing, Andrew enjoys Greek dancing and language lessons,  being told what to do by his wife, Annette, and hunting shadows in the  dark. He also has a magnificent mustache collection.

Andrew is now contracted to Pagan Writers Press for three books. Fairy Tail, is a short, but dark and gritty erotic paranormal/thriller  with a twist. The second book, Guardian Angels is the introductory book to the Guardian Series, a sci-fi action/adventure epic set in the near  future. The latest short story, Blood Moon, is a paranormal action/thriller  set in the jungles of South America. Further work on the Guardian Series and a new paranormal series, The  Cambion Journals, has been completed and will hopefully be published  during 2013.

Look for Andrew at the following haunts:
Website
Blog
Facebook
Twitter
Goodreads

Buy GUARDIAN ANGELS at:
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