Loretta Giacoletto – LETHAL PLAY


Author: Loretta Giacoletto

ISBN: ISBN 978-1-4524-4094-1

Page count: 325

Genre: Mystery

Price: $4.99


Author Bio:

Loretta’s published novels include this soccer mom mystery and an Italian/American family saga—both filled with bawdy characters caught up in problems they must take responsibility for having created.   In LETHAL PLAY a grieving widow is suspected of killing her son’s coach, a man who had more enemies than friends.  FAMILY DECEPTIONS follows two generations of earthy characters who learn to thrive and/or survive through a series of misdeeds, the worst against those they love the most. In addition to the horror anthologies, Damned in Dixie and Hell in the Heartland, her short stories have appeared in numerous publications including The MacGuffin, Futures Mystery Anthology Magazine, The Scruffy Dog Review, Allegory, and Literary Mama, which nominated her story “Tom” for Dzanc’s 2010 Best of The Web.


Tell us about your book:

Newly widowed Francesca Canelli would do anything to help her son Matt realize his dreams. Financially strapped and emotionally devastated, she accepts a sexual proposition from an influential youth soccer coach who promises to help Matt secure a coveted scholarship. Their bargain quickly sours when the coach abuses her, demeans Matt, and threatens to renege on the deal.

The coach with more enemies than friends soon winds up dead, his battered and naked body found hanging from a goalpost crossbar. In the ensuing investigation Francesca becomes the prime suspect. Now she’s playing games with the detectives, her vulnerability fading as she fights to keep herself out of jail and her family intact. But then Francesca discovers she’s not the only person who really knows what happened that night the coach died. She has no choice but to strike a new bargain but will it resolve her ever-growing problems?


How long did it take to write the book?

Two years and then some


What inspired you to write the book?

Fifteen off-and-on years of watching high school and youth soccer.


Talk about the writing process. Did you have a writing routine? Did you do any research, and if so, what did that involve?

As a rule I spend six hours a day on writing—several in the morning, the rest in the afternoon. Writing in the evening doesn’t work because it keeps me from sleeping at night.  In the ideal world I’d complete the first draft before messing with what I’ve already written but in my world I write until I get stuck and then revisit my previous chapters. With LETHAL PLAY I wrote and rewrote it six or seven times before I was satisfied with the results. In terms of research, I was fortunate to interview a detective with the St. Louis County Police Department who provided a wealth of information on police procedures, as did several soccer players on the technical aspects of soccer and behind-the-scene conditions.


What do you hope your readers come away with after reading your book?

A better understanding of youth soccer players, their overwrought parents, and the relentless competition for coveted athletic scholarships


Where can we go to buy your book?

LETHAL PLAY is available as an eBook through Amazon Kindle, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble and other eBook Distributors.


Any other links or info you’d like to share?
My website


Excerpt from book:

The opening chapter: The night was too quiet, laboring under a murky sky that offered momentary glimpses of February’s moon. It cast a faint light over Missouri’s Show Me Soccer Park, deserted except for a St. Louis County Police car cruising through the stark winter landscape of the complex. The vehicle turned onto a narrow service road that ended behind the main field and parked on a large rectangle of asphalt. Two uniformed police officers exited their sedan, strolled over to a nearby SUV, and inspected the vacant interior with their flashlights.

“Rex Meredith,” said Officer Raymer. “He must be somewhere around here, probably designing some amazing new strategy for his team.”

“Since when do soccer coaches work in the dark?” asked his sidekick, a probationary officer with barely two weeks under his belt.

“Good point, Baker. I’ll switch on the lights; you check out the field.”

While Raymer headed for the utility building, Baker walked a hundred feet or so to where he stood beside the pitch, a field of turf that enthusiasts of youth soccer considered the finest in the Midwest, perhaps the entire country. He waited another minute before the area transformed from a silhouette of geometric forms and eerie shadows to a panorama of bright lights which seemed out of sync with the unnerving calm. He took his time scanning the entire pitch, starting with the south goal and ending at the north, whereupon he did a double take, shifted his stance, and then looked again, allowing the distant scene to finally register within his brain.

“Holy Mother of God,” he managed to yell in a voice shaking with disbelief. “We have a huge problem over here.”

“Rookies. Dear god, why me.” Raymer shook his head but still came running. He stood beside Baker and squinted, trying to adjust his eyes to the glaring lights before addressing the north goal. There, hanging from the crossbar was the figure of a man swaying with the slight breeze. He appeared to be wrapped in mesh, probably stripped from the goal post. White socks covered his feet dangling fifteen inches above the ground, and nearby an orange water cooler lay turned on its side.

“What now?” the rookie asked, his voice reduced to a quiver that made Raymer wanted to haul off and stuff some guts down his throat.

“For starters, don’t piss your pants,” Raymer said. “Instead, get your ass to the car and call for backup. While you’re there, grab a roll of yellow tape and meet me at the goal.” He hurried onto the field, yelled from over his shoulder. “And make it snappy, Baker.”

One look at Rex Meredith told Raymer the man was beyond saving. Raymer figured the rope squeezing Meredith’s neck must’ve been the same one used to anchor the net to the post. His neck was stretched like that of a dead bird, head bent to the side, his face swollen and battered, a deep gash cutting a diagonal across one eyebrow. Blood had oozed from his nostrils and both corners of his mouth. His eyes were wide open, locked into a sightless expression, of what—disbelief, desperation, regret? The stench of feces and urine sent a message to Raymer, urging him to toss his coffee and donuts, an invitation years of discipline had taught him to ignore. Still, observing the aftermath of violent death never came easy, especially with the victim someone he once knew. As did most everyone connected with youth soccer in the St. Louis metropolitan area.

“Baker, dammit where are you,” he yelled.

“Right here, sorry.”

Where, dammit. He jerked around to see Baker stopped within two feet of the goal, his head leaned back for a better view of the deceased, like some hayseed gawking at a piece of museum artwork. Raymer waited for the anticipated reaction and Baker didn’t disappoint him. The rookie doubled over, hands to his mouth and seconds away from tossing his donuts.

“Dammit, Baker, don’t even think about contaminating this area,” Raymer said. “Take your business elsewhere, and be sure to mark the site after you’ve finished.”

As usual, Baker obeyed. He stumbled over to a patch of frozen grass where he emptied his stomach with four gut-wrenching heaves, and then sectioned off the area with tape. “Sorry ‘bout that,” he said on his return.

“Quit apologizing and help me tape the crime scene. You did call for backup, didn’t you … never mind.”

Raymer already had his answer. The sound of sirens wailing into the night announced the arrival of two more police cars plus an emergency van carrying the paramedic unit. One of the paramedics checked the victim’s vital signs, confirming what everyone already knew: Rex Meredith, the illustrious coach of St. Louis’s nationally-ranked boys soccer team, was indeed dead. His body continued to hang from the crossbar while a team of crime scene investigators collected evidence, starting with one of them snapping photographs, first an overall view before moving in for medium range shots, and finally, close-ups of the deceased. The investigators tagged every scrap of paper, every bit of fiber, strand of hair, footprint impression, and scruffy dirt pattern before depositing their findings into paper bags and cardboard boxes.

Two CSI worked in respectful silence as they unwound the netting from Meredith’s body. After releasing his body from the crossbar and onto a stretcher, they wheeled it over to a woman with arms crossed over her chest and boot-laden feet stomping the frozen ground. Having already observed Rex Meredith from a suspended position, Dr. Hannah Cooper now spent a few minutes studying him from a lateral perspective.

“This must’ve been some fight,” she said through puffs of cold air, “one-sided, judging from the lack of trauma to his hands or knuckles.” She leaned in closer. “What’s this on his left pec? The tattoo of a winged horse in flight, how befitting for the coach of Pegasi United.”

She touched her fingertips to her lips, as if to say goodbye.

“I take it you knew the deceased,” said one of the first responders.

“You’re standing in my light, Detective.”

“Sorry, Doc.” He moved three feet to the left.

She slipped on a pair of surgical gloves and began her preliminary examination while the offending detective hovered with no further comment. He waited a good five minutes before opening his mouth again.

“Is it too soon to ask?”

The coroner ripped off her gloves, stuffed them in her coat pocket. “The body’s still warm and rigor mortis hasn’t started yet. Given the outdoor temperature, I’d set the time of death around ten­ forty-five, give or take a few minutes.”

“Life and death minutes,” he said. “Raymer got here around eleven.”

“A tough break for Rex.”

“So, how well did you know him?”

She lifted one shoulder. “He coached my kid some years ago, but only for one season. According to Rex, our David didn’t have what it takes; he’d never meet the standards of an elite soccer team.”

“Too bad, it must’ve been a real downer.”

“Nah, we got David on another team right away. He’s still playing with the Dynamos and loving every minute. My husband never misses a game. I see as many as my work permits, which puts me in the category of a lackluster soccer mom.”

“That’s a bad thing?”

“Not in my book. Poor Sunny, she’s Rex’s wife … widow, the epitome of soccer moms—such unwavering dedication. I don’t envy the detectives who have to make that home visit. As for me, I’ve done all I can, at least for now.” Looking around, she raised her voice. “Anybody from CSI?”

A squat woman in her mid-thirties answered the call. “Right here,” Fran Abbot said. “Can we bag the hands yet?”

“Be my guest.” This time Dr. Cooper patted the deceased’s shoulder. “Dammit, Rex, I hate seeing your life end this way.”

“You think he offed himself?” Fran asked while securing a paper sack around Meredith’s right hand.

“After the beating he took and all that netting, it seems doubtful,” Dr. Cooper replied. “Still, at this stage anything is possible. I’ll know more in the autopsy room.”

Fran moved to secure the left hand. “Whoa, you said something about the deceased having a wife.”

“Yes, there’s a problem?”

“No wedding ring on his finger.”

“So maybe he didn’t wear one,” the detective said, holding up his left hand. “I don’t.”

“So maybe he took it off, leaving a telltale band of white in its place,” Fran said. “As is the case with certain husbands inclined to fool around.


Ben Sussman – The Four Horsemen

Title: The Four Horsemen

Author: Ben Sussman

ISBN: 0615381898

Page count: 294

Genre: Thriller/Adventure

Price: $3.99 (Kindle), $16.99 (paperback)


Author Bio:

A Los Angeles native, Ben Sussman departed the left coast on a writing scholarship to New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. After earning his Bachelor of Fine Arts, he returned to Hollywood where he held positions at Creative Artists Agency, Paramount Pictures and Disney.

Returning to his first love of writing, Ben sold the screenplay FINISHING SCHOOL to Twentieth Century Fox/New Regency and wrote on assignment for Walt Disney Pictures & Touchstone Television. THE FOUR HORSEMEN is his first novel.

He currently resides in Los Angeles.


Tell us about your book:

They are real. They are the harbingers of the Apocalypse. And we have only one chance to stop them.

THE FOUR HORSEMEN is a race-against-the-clock thriller featuring Andie Sullivan. As the world’s only “culturalist,” she is employed by corporations and wealthy individuals to break through the barriers with any culture around the globe. Now, she faces the most challenging and dangerous assignment of her career.

Hired by a ruthless businessman to infiltrate the mysterious tribe who serve as the protectors of the Four Horsemen’s ancient secret, Andie is plunged into a mysterious world where every answer only opens the door to more questions. With a shadowy government force and a brutal terrorist also vying for the Horsemen’s unfathomable power, Andie and her makeshift team must collect them all and unlock their mysteries before time runs out.


How long did it take to write the book?

9 months


What inspired you to write the book?

After being a working screenwriter for several years, I wanted to capture the action and pace of a movie on to the pages of a book.  This was a story that would be perfect for the big screen but I wanted it to be enjoyed by a large audience if the vagaries of Hollywood stopped that from happening.


Talk about the writing process. Did you have a writing routine? Did you do any research, and if so, what did that involve?

I have always treated writing with great structure, i.e. like a job, with standard hours whenever possible.  Outlining is essential to know where you’re going from the very beginning.  Research for this book was extensive but everything flows from the plot.  I begin with the notion that this is pure fiction and escapism, then layer in the factual research after that.


What do you hope your readers come away with after reading your book?

A great time that leaves them wanting more!


Where can we go to buy your book?

Amazon is the best place:

http://www.amazon.com/THE-FOUR-HORSEMEN-ebook/dp/B003XKNG1E/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1280508886&sr=1-1 (Kindle)

http://www.amazon.com/Four-Horsemen-Ben-Sussman/dp/0615381898/ref=tmm_pap_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1280508886&sr=1-1 (Paperback)


Any other links or info you’d like to share?
My website – http://www.bensussman.net/


Excerpt from book:

The wind carried screams in its tail.

Rivkah heard them and burst from her tent, knowing that they belonged to her mother.  As she ran, sand stinging her eyes, blue scarf flapping, she heard others from the tribe emerge with her.  Feet flying over the dunes, she scanned the ground, searching.

Suddenly, she stumbled on a bulky object and pitched forward, crashing hard into the ground.

A moan rose up from where she had fallen.  Rivkah crawled on her hands and knees until she found a heap of rags on the desert floor.

“Mother?” she asked, her voice tinged with fear and incredulity.

The shadowy shape stirred and Rivkah found herself staring into the face of a woman she hardly recognized.  Her mother’s blonde hair was stringy and matted with dirt.  The fine lines and planes of her face were covered in filth.  It had been four days since her mother had left for the mountains and they had apparently been cruel ones.  Upon seeing Rivkah, however, her lips were broken by a weak smile.

“My child,” Miryam struggled to say.  “I told you I would return.”


Cynthia Kolko – Fruit of the Vine

Title: Fruit of the Vine

Author: Cynthia Kolko

Page count: 352

Genre: Commercial Fiction / Mainstream Fiction

Price: $15.95


Author Bio:

Cynthia Kolko graduated from Hamilton College with a bachelor’s degree in English. She has worked as a corporate, advertising, and editorial writer, and as a broadcast scriptwriter. She brings her keen ear for dialogue, off-beat sense of humor, and penchant for eccentricity to her first novel, Fruit of the Vine.

Cynthia lives with her family in her hometown south of Rochester, New York. She enjoys gardening, birds, history and winter, and is an accomplished percussionist. She is currently busy crafting her next novel in addition to some short stories and a non-fiction book.


Tell us about your book:

A novel set in New York’s panoramic Finger Lakes wine country, Fruit of the Vine is a darkly comic, irreverent tale of responsibilty and renewal.

Jemison “Jem” Loud is a young, string-bean of a vineyard worker who drinks beer with his buddies and bemoans his lot in the small rural town of Sawhorn, New York in the early 1990s. A fire at the old opera house on Main Street brings to Sawhorn Joe Silla, a brash self-serving entrepreneur hell-bent on forcing the traditional town to progress his way. When Jem’s father dies, Jem inherits a historic farm which Joe Silla has in his sights for development. As Jem struggles with what to do with the property and uncovers his own family’s secrets, he confronts the tangled shoots of nature and nurture: what is inbred, what our culture feeds to us, and what we cultivate from it all, the Fruit of the Vine.

A rich cast of characters all sow the seeds of personal growth in Jem until he becomes a man ready to tackle the future, and real love, head on. With the cynicism and wit that living off the land begets, Fruit of the Vine paints a vivid portrait of contemporary life in rural New York, illuminating the contrast between the bucolic setting and the hard-edged folks who inhabit it.


How long did it take to write the book?

Two years


What inspired you to write the book?

I wanted to write the kind of story I would like to read, something a little gritty, with compelling characters in a rural setting. New York’s Finger Lakes region inspired the book, not particularly for the beauty of the lakes themselves, but for the beauty of the perhaps less-appreciated empty spaces and timeworn towns that speak of the region’s history. I was also inspired by the various working stiffs I have known from this area, and by small-town bars.


Talk about the writing process. Did you have a writing routine? Did you do any research, and if so, what did that involve?

I write whenever I can, mostly late at night when everyone else is asleep and I have the house to myself. Also, a few evenings per month, I take a laptop to the Pittsford Library. For Fruit of the Vine’s research, I drove around, visited some wineries and talked to some people, but mostly, I just made the whole thing up.


What do you hope your readers come away with after reading your book?

I hope they will enjoy the book first as an entertaining activity. My second goal is to highlight rural New York State, and third to provoke thought.


Where can we go to buy your book?

The book will be released at the end of May 2011. It can be pre-ordered now at www.bn.com. Soon it will be available at amazon.com, plus select retailers. The ISBN is 193618527X.


Any other links or info you’d like to share?”¨





Excerpt from book:

A dark-haired man stood, gaze tethered to the charred building, the sky salted with snowflakes that dissolved in the air by the frozen thousands before hitting the flames. Jem recognized the man’s stance, designed, subconsciously or not, to let everyone know he was hot shit, at least in his own mind: balls pitched forward, shoulders back, pecs pushing his man-breasts taut against the inside of his shirt, arms hanging wide. It was Laura’s brother-in-law, Joe Silla, the first name seldom mentioned without the last, the two forming an irresistible, easy-to-utter combination of vowels and consonants that sounded like the name of a B-movie monster. Jem pointed a hitchhiker thumb toward the man.

“Back in town?”

“House is done. They just moved into it,” said Laura.

Her older sister Sandra’s home sat in a freshly carved out subdivision whose brick-fronted houses featured two-story foyers hung with oversized glittering chandeliers like gilded octopi. Doorbells played classical music snippets.

“Where’s Sandra?” asked Zack, whipping his head around.

Laura pointed to a frowning blonde in a knee-length fur. A fireman waving both hands like a crazy orchestra conductor bellowed at the assembled crowd.

“Everyone go home! Move out of here! Keep this place clear!” the fireman yelled.

“See you on the farm,” Laura said.

Jem watched Laura retreat, her parka sitting high enough on her waist to reveal the back pocket slits of her wool pants, the dressiest thing Jem had ever seen her wear, prom night included. With each step, alternately, one of Laura’s butt cheeks pushed against the fabric of her pants so that the rounded outline could be glimpsed. Left, right, left, right.

“Give it up,” said Zack.

“I could get her if I wanted to,” said Jem.

“Too bad Joe Silla beat you to Sandra,” Zack said.

“Not my type either,” said Jem.

“Bullshit. You’d do a tree if it wasn’t for the splinters.”

Jem stood with gloveless hands in his pockets, looking at the blackened, smoldering opera house, still spitting sparks.

“Wonder what’ll happen to the place now?”

“Who cares?” answered Zack. “It won’t affect me. Won’t affect any of us.”

The cops re-opened Main Street. Sawhorn seemed to return to normal almost as quickly as the fire had erupted. The tavern refilled. People started vehicles, scraped ice from windshields.

Not a few Sawhorn residents hoped the oncoming year might offer something of a different existence, a break from the staid, an improvement that still allowed the comfort of the usual. It was a noble dream, yet change wasn’t something one could order up just the way you wanted it, like a beer. Sometimes change came at you with the force of water from a fire hose. And damn if you weren’t prepared for a soaking.