A Fair Exchange
A Fair Exchange
Who hasn’t wondered about their first love? What happened? What went wrong? Where are they now?
What if you got a second chance?
Amelia Armstrong is about to find out. What a shame her long-lost love, Matt, has returned (looking way too good and acting way too sweet) when her life is a shambles and she has finally decided once and for all to put herself and not whichever man is currently in her life, first.
How do you balance that desire to recapture that loving feeling with the need to finally be the best version of yourself? What if this really is the one, how do you choose when to stand your ground and when to cut your losses? Amelia takes a journey from Sydney to New York and back again trying to find the answers while negotiating with pop-divas, ex-lovers, crazy teenagers, a well-meaning cousin and the tabloids.
A Fair Exchange is a story about being a grown up when, maybe, you’d much rather be sixteen again.
It was not as if he was the first one to mention it. In the past week everyone who had entered my apartment had commented on the shiny new Vespa parked in the middle of the otherwise empty living room. In fact, each and every one of them had imaginatively said “Amelia you have a red Vespa parked in your living room!” And they all said it in a tone that implied I might not have noticed, as if it may have magically appeared there.
How could I not notice a vehicle parked in what was otherwise an empty room?
What amazed me was that the Vespa was what they chose to comment on.
Not that Nick had dumped me, after ten years, for a twenty-one year-old. Nor that he had moved out, taking basically all the furniture and leaving me with a great view over the beach and an enormous mortgage.
No one even commented about the fact that I, in turn, had quit the fabulous job that had always meant way too much to me.
No, they commented on the Vespa.
What I could not understand though was why it hadn’t bothered me until right then, when Matthew Blue commented. And when he did comment, why had I collapsed into this embarrassing sea of tears?
How had this happened? How had I become this sobbing pathetic figure of womanhood? And more importantly how had I ended up thirty-six and alone?
Didn’t I used to have so much potential? Everyone had said so, hadn’t they?
“Amelia Armstrong is something special.”
I was one of those shiny young girls who took risks and dreamed big. I was one of the smart ones who knew what she wanted and went after it. I was one to watch.
If I hadn’t been that kind of a girl I would never have met Matthew all those years ago. A different girl would not have found herself, on the other side of the world, at sixteen, staring into his dark and dreamy eyes.
So where was that girl right now, I wanted to know? And how had a girl with so much potential gotten it so horribly wrong?
To buy a copy of A Fair Exchange go to http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00JBPPC08
To celebrate the release I'm giving away a $25 Amazon Gift Certificate as part of my blog tour. Enter below for your chance to win. (It is running on US April 1st, apologies to Australian readers please come back later).
As I've discussed many times certain novels have their own soundtrack. These are the songs that remind you of the novel or that you listened to while writing it.
Every novel has it's own flavour. To be honest not all my books have a soundtrack. The novella I just completed I wrote in silence in a week. It was a week where I oddly had zero social commitments and those I did have got cancelled.
Silence. It's not a bad thing.
A Fair Exchange however is a bit different because it was inspired in part by my own experiences as an exchange student and so certain songs from that time, though Amelia is far younger than I am, the music that informed the book is from my own time.
This first song is Simple Minds - Don't You Forget About Me - from the Breakfast Club Soundtrack. It's co-incidental that the movie is 30 years old this week. I expected my US High School to be like this. It wasn't at all. (And sadly my hair still doesn't look like Molly Ringwald's hair in the movie, 30 years later I still wish it did).
I'm going to save a few up for the coming weeks but here is one that will seem very obscure, until you read the book, but it might just put a smile on your face this fine Monday. It's The Lumberjack Song from Monty Python, this version is from Concert for George in honour of George Harrison.
Next week I have my fifth book coming out and like all of my books at the time of launching it will only be available as an e-book.
When I launched my first novel I did have a grand fantasy of holding a book launch - you know in a book shop, surrounded by friends and relatives all drinking champagne. The truth is you can't do that with an indie published e-book.
Another truth, at least in Australia, is that publishers don't really hold book launches for their authors. If they have them they organise them themselves. So the fantasy isn't real for a lot of authors these days.
Instead I usually hold a virtual book launch.
So what is a virtual book launch?
A virtual book launch is an online event - usually held on Facebook . Authors invite readers, friends, relatives, reviewers to attend the event. so you R.S.V.P just like you would for any Facebook event.
Different authors then do different things at their launches. Some show photos of people who resemble their characters, some host loads of give aways, some just talk about the book.
Why have a virtual book launch? (If I'm invited what am I supposed to do?)
Authors hold a virtual book launch for the same reason they'd hold one in the real world. It's a way to let people know your book is out and it's a way to celebrate. Let's face it whether the book is made of paper or hangs in the ether the process of writing it and getting it finished and out into the universe is the same. It's lots of hard work and when the work is done the author wants to celebrate.
There's another reason and it has to do with sales and algorithms. If you say you're attending someone's book launch they want two things. They want you to post and say congratulations but they also want you to buy their book. Let's pretend I'm going to sell 100 books next week (I just chose that number randomly). In a perfect world I'd sell 30 odd books every day for three days, the algorithm which helps you find a book on Amazon, iBooks or where ever you buy your books works best that way. 100 books in one day is great (and no author would complain about that) but for visibility it's better that they are staggered. By having a book launch the author is hoping lots of the people they invite will but the book that week.
Now, just because you go to my book launch or anyone else's doesn't mean you HAVE to buy the book, it's always obligation free, I'm just telling you why the author holds them and what their hopes are.
This is the link to my virtual book launch next week. Please stop by.
Years after leaving Cayman because of her notorious serial killer mother, Angel Mason returns as an inspector on the police force. On the twentieth anniversary of her mother’s capture, someone is murdered in the same manner as her mother’s victims.
To complicate matters more, Angel’s old flame, Bren McDougal, is assigned to help her with capturing the killer, and soon it’s undeniably clear that the passion between them is hotter than ever.
As the killer repeats her mother’s deadly pattern, Angel must face the terrifying truth she’d been hiding for twenty years.
What people are saying
“Elke Feuer skillfully keeps you guessing in this twisty-turny romantic suspense story about a Cayman investigator tracking a copycat killer-one imitating the crimes of a her own serial-killer mother. Suspenseful and satisfying!” ~Francine LaSala, author of The Girl, the Gold Tooth, & Everything.
Angel Mason sat on the edge of her bed and squished the thick caramel carpet between her toes, assurance the deadly grip of another nightmare was gone.
On the nightstand her phone vibrated, startling her. It was Dustin Williams, Chief Superintendent. The time, 6:30 a.m., flashed in red from her clock. She cleared her throat and prayed there was no trace of the bottle of vodka she’d finished off the night before in her voice. “Inspector Angel.”
“Dead body at Galleon Bay.” He never minced words.
“Some tourist die in their sleep?”
“No, looks like she was murdered.”
Brittle silence hung in the air as the words echoed in her mind like a broken record.
“I’ll be there in half an hour,” she stammered.
“Good, I want this dealt with quickly. There hasn’t been a tourist murdered on the island since…”
“Since Meredith,” she finished for him.
“Yeah, and we remember how that turned out,” he said dryly.
The phone imprinted her hand as she squeezed it. No one had forgotten how it turned out, least of all her—no matter how hard she tried.
“I want you to collect the evidence,” Williams said.
“What? Why?” She didn’t normally question his decisions, but she hadn’t worked in forensics since she had been promoted to inspector.
“You’re the most experienced scene of crime officer we have.”
“I’ll take care of it, sir,” Angel assured him.
“Johnson, Sanchez, and Ebanks are already there controlling the traffic and crowd,” he said, his voice sounding miles away.
The phone went dead without a goodbye, not that she expected one. He didn’t converse beyond necessity, but she never took it personally. He was like that with everyone.
She went to the bathroom, took out the bottle of painkillers on the second shelf of the cabinet on the wall, and downed two.
As the pills made their way to her queasy stomach, she searched the cloud in her head for how she had gotten to bed last night. Leftover Chinese and drifting to sleep during the nightly news in a vodka-induced haze was all she remembered.
Horrifying screams and blood splattered across her hand paraded before her, remaining trickles from her dream, and the smell of blood filled her nose.
“No!” She gripped the edges of the porcelain sink to steady herself and clear her mind of the images. Her dreams were becoming more frequent and the vivid details lingering long after she awoke.
She let out the breath she was holding and splashed cold water on her face. The reflection in the mirror was an unwanted reminder that she couldn’t escape her heritage or the history that came with it, and there was nothing she could do about it.
Once she showered and got dressed, she pulled her hair into a ponytail. She walked down the short beige corridor to the living room and grabbed her keys off the hook on the wall. The cool morning air blew against her makeup-free face when she opened the door. She inhaled the salty air, and watched the sun peaking over the horizon of the ocean. They calmed her nerves as she made her way down the stairs and to her car. Starting the engine, she pulled out of the parking lot and towards the hotel where Meredith, her mother, had worked before she was arrested for murdering the guests.
Elke was born and raised on Grand Cayman and lives there with her husband and two kids who keep her on her toes. She has a sarcastic, quirky sense of humor not everyone gets, and is in a race to become the first Caymanian in space. When not writing, she's helping other writers in Cayman through her organization CayWriters.
Author of For the Love of Jazz and Deadly Bloodlines, book one in her Deadly Series scheduled for release in March 2014.
She stumbled into writing romantic suspense because of her fascination with serial killers, but also writes other genres because characters keep telling her their stories and she's a sucker for a crazy story.
You can connect with Elke:
After my week away I'm in a pretty good mood, even if it is a Monday.
A Fair Exchange will be out on April 1st. That's something to smile about. (And it has a fun cover too, right?)
I've finished a short story for an anthology coming out in May, minus the polishing of course.
I'm writing a novella that I hope will be out mid-year. For some reason this one is really flowing so I'm just going with it.
And I've also started another novel that I'm really enjoying. The idea came before my strip and the location is the Whitsunday Islands so I got started on that when I was away.
So on this Musical Monday here are a couple of upbeat songs to keep your toes tapping.
This first song Groove is in The Heart, is an old favourite of mine. It reminds me of one of my most amazing friends (who I loosely based the character of Justin on in Mr Right and Other Mongrels).
And another oldie - I'm a long standing Kylie Minogue fan and this song is just plain fun. (I may have owned gold hotpants back in the day, not quite this short though and ironically I wore them to see Madonna not Kylie, but that's another story). Anyway I feel upbeat and productive so the lyrics to this seem to fit.
I'm about to head off on a little holiday/vacation with my lovely husband to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary (yes, thank you for noticing I was a child bride).
I have an idea for a novel I think I'll start while we're away but of course the anniversary has me pondering what in real life love versus love in a romance novel looks like.
Like Cassie in Hearts Afire I actually met my husband on a tropical island off the Queensland coast. I was there on my own (long and not very fabulous story involving changed plans and my own battle with chronic fatigue syndrome) and he was there as part of a TV crew. We're both from Sydney but I don't think we would have ever met here so I guess it was, as they say, destiny.
We're very different people - like totally different - and I don't think many people thought we'd last long enough to get married and probably once we did marry doubted we'd last this long. And I can see why they felt that way. Since then we've done some crazy stuff together - he ran for office and I ran his political campaign (with a lot of help from my friends), we've built a house (maybe one day we'll even finish it) , we've travelled, we've volunteered, we've danced till dawn more often than I can count and of course we've had our beautiful daughter. That's the stuff that makes up the fabric of your life.
I'm quite romantic in the hearts and flowers sense. Heart shaped pancakes for breakfast on Valentine's Day (sure), the perfect gift (absolutely) while my husband is really not-so-much. Although in fairness I certainly do get bunches of flowers more than most women I know and he has embraced the all important - flowers from the petrol station don't count, rule and he certainly will notice how I look and says lovely things to me, a lot.
But I don't think that's what romance looks like really.
Romance is when you have morning sickness for 22 weeks and he gets you to hospital, gets you some meds and drives you around with a bucket in your lap for that whole time.
Romance is after you have that baby and you're miserable in hospital (on day 4) bringing you a bottle of wine and hot pasta to your hospital room because no one can regenerate on hospital food.
Romance is giving your mother a hand when she needs it. (New pathway, sure. Moving house, no problem. Want that light bulb changed, Ok.)
Romance is bringing you a cup of tea and all your favourite bits of the Sydney Morning Herald so you can read in bed on a Saturday morning.
Romance is showing up and helping.
Romance is designing and creating a mosaic mirror together.
Romance is picking you and your friends up after dinner so you can all enjoy an adult beverage or two.
Romance is being nice to your partner's friends and making them welcome in your home.
Romance is hanging in the hammock at the end of the day having a chat.
Romance is dancing like a maniac until 3am.
Romance is bringing extra hankies to a funeral because he knows you will definitely need them.
Romance is speaking kindly to you and about you.
Romance is dangling a child by their ankles and tickling them (or chasing them round the room or pushing them on a swing or playing My Little Pony with them).
Romance is telling every person he meets that you've written a book and handing them a postcard about it (it's embarrassing and romantic all at once).
So I guess you could say we have had a fairly romantic time of it over the years by my own definition anyway. It's just that it might not be such an exciting book to read.
This week I have been pondering the role technology plays in being an author in this modern day and age.
I'm not a luddite but I'm also not the first person to embrace a new technology. Some of that is my belief that half the gadgets and gizmos people have duplicate each other - if you're phone is THAT freaking smart you probably don't need a tablet and a laptop and a Kindle as well - and some of it is lack of knowledge.
I work alone and in small business, I'm self employed so I don't necessarily have the budget to go buy everything and also I have no tech support so if I get it and it doesn't work, I'm screwed. (Don't suggest I call my telecommunications provider. Every call to our Telco costs us four house minimum in time!)
Despite all that when I think about all the technology I've embraced in order to promote my writing it's no wonder it feels like it has been has quite a learning curve:
- a blog
- a website
- Facebook author page
- Facebook groups
- Google groups and other online forums
And I'm sure that list is far from comprehensive. There are lots more things I suppose I should be doing (Google+ I know you're out there but I am not quite sure what to do with you) but that's already quite a lot to be consistent (or semi-consistent) with. Each of these technologies has their own rules, rhythms and conventions and of course the rules change constantly (Hello Facebook, I'm talking to you).
It's a far cry from when Jo sent her book off to the publisher in Little Women, all bound up with brown paper and string and months later received a cheque to say her book was being published and later a printed copy. I'm sure she had more time to focus on her writing as a result (Well maybe not she did have to darn clothes by the fireside and perform all manner of tasks we no longer do...but you get my point).
Sometimes the technology overwhelms authors (this has happened to me from time to time). I think all you can do is embrace it as best you can, cross your fingers and hope that some of what you're doing helps your writing to find it's audience.