Saturday, November 16, 2019

"Betrayal of Faith" by Mark M. Bello


INTERVIEW and EXCERPT
Betrayal of Faith
(Zachary Blake Legal Thriller Book 1)
by Mark M. Bello

Betrayal of Faith (Zachary Blake Legal Thriller Book 1) by Mark M. Bello

Mark M. Bello stops by today for an interview and to share an excerpt from Betrayal of Faith, the first book in the Zachary Blake Legal Thriller series, currently ON SALE for only $0.99 (save $4.00). Also available: Betrayal of Justice and Betrayal in Blue.

Betrayal of Justice by Mark M. BelloBetrayal in Blue by Mark M. Bello

Description
Can one have faith when faith itself is corrupt?
Spotlight meets The Firm in this Award-Winning first installment of the Zachary Blake Legal Thriller series ...
Zachary Blake - once Detroit’s King of Justice, his partners stole his practice - his wife kicked him out and took everything. He spends his time getting plastered at the local strip club or hustling traffic cases. Things are about to change ...
The Coalition - the church’s super-secret organization whose leader will stop at nothing to protect it. Will these evil actors thwart justice once again?
Jennifer Tracy - a woman of deep faith and grim determination whose children have fallen victim to a vicious predator. Will the unconscionable evil of The Coalition victimize Jennifer and her boys a second time?
The three converge in Detroit for the trial of the century.
This compelling and realistic courtroom action drama spins a web of greed, power, and unspeakable acts of betrayal - will victims and perpetrators get the justice they so richly deserve? Bello keeps you guessing until the jury speaks ...

Book Video


Excerpt
Chapter One
It was a beautiful spring day in Michigan. Flowers were beginning to bloom, and buds were blossoming on once-barren tree branches. The snow disappeared for another season, and the temperature climbed above sixty degrees for the first time. Jennifer Tracey drove her 2013 Chevy Tahoe south on Farmington Road toward the church. She thought, what a great weekend for a camping trip. The boys needed this. I hope they like Father Gerry.
She pulled into the parking lot of Our Lady of the Lakes Church and School, parked, exited the old truck, and headed for the rectory. She spotted the group almost immediately. Actually, she spotted a bunch of backpacks, camping equipment, pop bottles, shoes, socks, and other debris strewn across the lawn of the rather impressive two-story brick home. She was the first parent to arrive, not surprising considering she was a half-hour early.
Jennifer was excited to see the boys. This was their first overnight since Father Bill’s transfer. Father Bill was the only man the boys warmed up to since their dad, Jim, passed away. My God! Has it been three years already? She remembered the day of the accident like it was yesterday—a phone call from the plant with shocking news and the rush to Botsford Hospital. The family gathered for an all-night, prayer-dominated vigil until, finally, the doctor came out of surgery shaking his head—“I’m terribly sorry. We did all we could.”
She remembered trying to explain to the boys, nine and eleven, that their father was called to heaven and that God worked in mysterious ways. Jake, her sensitive nine-year-old, wanted to know if he could visit. Kenny, her eleven-year-old, sat stunned, staring at the sky with piercing green eyes, wondering why the Lord chose to take his father when he needed him most. Life seemed so unfair.
Jim’s loss was incredibly hard on the boys. They were bitter and sullen until they met Father Bill. Bill transferred from a parish in Pennsylvania when Jim’s accident occurred. After Jim’s death, Bill made the boys his special project and, in a short time, became something akin to a ‘substitute’ father. He took the boys to Detroit Tiger ball games, played ball with them, took them camping, and even let them sleep overnight at the rectory. They became altar boys and were beginning to adjust to life without their father reasonably well. Then, one day last month, Father Bill came by the house and announced he’d been transferred to a parish in Virginia. He spent three years in Michigan, and it was time to move on. The boys may as well have heard Father Bill had died, like their dad. Father Bill’s farewell celebration was more like a wake. He took the boys aside and tried to explain that he was required to do God’s work wherever the church sent him. He said he’d try to visit as often as possible, but the boys were unconvinced. The looks on their faces when Father Bill drove off were almost as sad as the day they heard the news of their father’s death.
That was why this outing with Father Gerry was so important. Gerry was Bill’s replacement and had been at Lakes—the parish nickname—less than a month. This camping trip was Gerry’s first chance to spend extended time with the boys away from parish responsibilities. Jennifer knew it would take some time, but she hoped the boys would at least like him.
She climbed the porch steps and knocked on the door of the large bricked colonial. It was a typical suburban Michigan home—two stories with red, white, and black reclaimed brick and white aluminum siding. The grounds were massive since the house stood on church property. The lot was heavily treed, and the grass had been freshly trimmed. Jennifer could smell the fresh-cut grass, one of the beautiful smells of spring in Michigan.
Father Gerry came to the door and invited her in. Boys were running all over the house, chasing each other. The noise was deafening. Jennifer scanned the crowd but could not locate Jake or Kenny.
“Nice to see you again, Jenny,” Gerry chirped.
“Nice to see you too, Father. How was the outing?”
“The boys had a great time. They’re still having a great time, as you can see. Jake and Kenny are in the backyard. I’ll go fetch them for you.”
“Oh, don’t trouble yourself, Father. You have your hands full here. I’ll get them.”
“No trouble at all, Jenny. Wait here. I’ll be right back with the boys.”
Jennifer would have preferred to get the boys, given the noise level in the house. Instead, she walked out onto the front porch to wait in the sunshine. In ‘no time,’ as Jake would say, Father Gerry appeared with her two sons. The contrast between Jake and Kenny and other boys was absolutely startling. Her boys were sullen, gloomy.
“Here they are, safe and sound,” Father Gerry reported. “Boys, say ‘hi’ to your mom.”
“Hi, Mom,” Kenny managed, his voice barely audible.
“Yeah, hi, Mom,” Jake grunted.
“What’s the matter with you guys?” Gerry inquired. “Did I tire you out that much?” To Jennifer, he advised, “I ran these kids ragged—hiking, calisthenics, canoeing, all night stories, you name it. They’re tired. Take them home and put them to bed. They’ll be fine in the morning.”
Jennifer was shocked. The other boys were none the worse for wear. What was wrong with hers?
“Thank you, Father,” she managed. “I’ll do just that.”
The Tracey family climbed into the wagon, and Jennifer headed for home. The boys sat in the backseat together. Usually, they fought over who would sit in front. Jennifer’s concern level increased.
“Did you guys have a good time?”
No answer.
“How was Father Gerry? He seems quite nice. Is he as good a camp director as Father Bill?”
No answer. Jennifer was almost in a panic.
She adjusted her rearview mirror to look at her two silent sons. Kenny was glaring at Jake fiercely with one finger to his lips, silently ordering him quiet. A single tear ran down Kenny’s cheek. The family drove home in silence. Something was terribly wrong.
[Want more? Click below to read a longer excerpt.]


Praise for the Book
“The author, Bello, knocks it out of the park on this one. The book is a bit long but with Bello's writing style it absolutely leaves you hanging for more. I highly recommend this book and series to anyone who likes well thought out story driven thrillers.” ~ Rory
“This book was able to hold my attention from beginning to end.” ~ the-librarian
Betrayal of Faith by Mark M. Bello was remarkable and I was hooked from the first chapter! […] it is truly captivating and impressive! Bello is clearly a talented author and he creates a name for himself when it comes to thrillers and suspense novels. I’ve been waiting for an author like Bello to come along and give a new spin to legal thrillers. After this novel, Bello has definitely gained a new fan and I will be reading the rest of the books in this series! Highly recommended!” ~ Amazon Customer
“Mark M. Bello’s Betrayal of Faith is one of the best books I’ve read recently. This suspenseful novel was extremely well-written – this author had the experience and solid research base to create a compelling and realistic story about corruption, secrecy, and the lengths institutions will go to protect their own. […] Bello developed his characters extraordinarily well; there was depth and believability throughout this novel. I am anxious to read the second installment in this series, and highly recommend this 1st novel in the series to anyone who is interested in reading a well-written, intriguing, and fast-paced novel.” ~ Angie D.
“Tragedy and religion collide in this riveting novel by Mark M. Bello. More of a call-to-action than weepy melodrama, Bello tactfully crafts a story around a painfully sensitive topic, while still conveying a sense of outrage that the topic deserves.” ~ Amazon Customer


Interview with the Author
Author Mark M. Bello joins me today to discuss Betrayal of Faith, the first book in the Zachary Blake Legal Thriller series.
For what age group do you recommend your book?
The book contains mature subject matter but is about endangered teenagers and sensitive social issues. In my judgment, it is appropriate for people 16 year of age and older. Parents should monitor what their children read and discuss the issues raised in this novel. If it was a movie, I would rate it PG 13. If a television show, TV MA.
What sparked the idea for this book?
The book is loosely based on an actual case I handled when I practiced law.
So, which comes first? The character's story or the idea for the novel?
For me, the idea came first. After the conclusion of the case the novel is based upon, I told myself that I would one day write a book about it. The completed novel was a crossed off “bucket list” item. The brave mother, Jennifer Tracy, is based on my client, who championed justice for her boys and wouldn't permit the church to resolve the case quietly and confidentially. Eventually, her persistence got the offending priest defrocked by the church. I was proud to represent her and her boys.
What was the hardest part to write in this book?
I had a lot to say. I found it difficult to keep the book in the 100,000-word range. Otherwise, as a first-time novelist, I found writing the novel exciting - words seemed to roll off the computer keys. I have since written five more, and I am working on my seventh. Once I have an idea of what I am going to write about (usually, a newsworthy criminal or civil justice system issue), I do not find it too difficult to express myself on the pages of a novel.
How do you hope this book affects its readers?
I hope my books bring awareness to the various social justice issues that face real people in America today. My book topics have centered on social justice issues like clergy abuse, white supremacy, police shootings of minorities, school shootings, and sexual assaults by the entitled wealthy and powerful men. I am currently writing a novel about the immigration crisis in America. I hope people will read these novels and better understand these issues from the eyes of the victims and minorities in this country.
How long did it take you to write this book?
About a year, once I was able to sit down and apply myself to writing rather than practicing law full time.
What is your writing routine?
Once I develop an idea (again, usually “ripped from the headlines”) the process becomes somewhat easy. I have fits and spurts, but once I get going, I find it relatively easy to expand an idea into a full-length novel.
How did you get your book published?
I made some mistakes as a first-time author. I spent a lot of money and time trying to find an agent and a traditional publisher Eventually, I self-published.
What advice do you have for someone who would like to become a published writer?
I knew very little about self-publishing and was taken advantage of. This was an expensive lesson. New authors should know that their work can be self-published without expensive assistance from some of these companies that offer publishing assistance to self-published authors. Some of these are good companies; some are predators. Buyer beware - do your homework before shelling out thousands for things you can do yourself.
What do you like to do when you're not writing?
I like to spend time with my family. I have been married for over 40 years and have four adult children and eight beautiful grandchildren. I like to travel, watch sports and I like to read, primarily in the genre (legal thrillers) I write.
What does your family think of your writing?
They have been very supportive, and they claim to love my books (who really knows, though?).
Please tell us a bit about your childhood.
I was born and raised in Detroit and Southfield, Michigan. A solid, middle-class upbringing. My parents emphasized education, education, education, and I am a lawyer because of their persistence. I was always proficient in English and literature, and perhaps my success in those classes resulted in my career as a novelist following my retirement from the practice of law. Now, if I could only sell some books ...
Did you like to read when you were a child?
I liked Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, the Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, and the Dr. Seuss books. I am reading Dr. Seuss to my grandchildren. What a tribute to a fabulous writer - his work transcends time.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
Again, I didn't see myself as a writer, but once I wrote the first book and found it to be an interesting endeavor, I began to look at additional social justice issues to write about. Basically, if an issue inflames me, I am compelled to write. Readers will sense that from my writing and my subject matter.
Did your childhood experiences influence your writing?
My parents raised me to care about those who maybe needed more help than others. That's why I chose the law as a career. My career as a lawyer has had more influence on my writing than my childhood has. On the other hand, if it wasn't for my parents, I probably wouldn't have become a lawyer, so ...
Which writers have influenced you the most?
Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
I have received nice comments and reviews of my work, but no direct contact from readers.
What can we look forward to from you in the future?
Betrayal of Justice: About white supremacy, an innocent young Muslim woman accused of murder, and a bigoted President of the United States.
Betrayal in Blue: About a white supremacist who seeks revenge against a police officer and a community and a clash between two police departments.
Betrayal in Black: An innocent black man is gunned down by a white police officer. Criminal and civil cases are filed, and a city is torn between two competing forces. Is this the rogue act of a racist cop or an example of a larger more institutionalized racism issue?
Betrayal High: About a school shooting, bullying, and the conspiracy to keep guns flowing regardless of the constant and consistent carnage they are responsible for.
Betrayal Supreme: About a candidate for the United States Supreme Court who must confront a woman who accuses him of sexual assault as a teenager.
Untitled Novel: A tale of two different immigrants and the perils of hailing from a foreign country in today's America, whether you are a citizen or not.
As you can see, I like to write fiction about factual, newsworthy issues, and tie them into the criminal or civil justice systems.
Anything else you would like to add?
Thanks for the opportunity to tell people about myself and my work. Readers can go to the website, become a fan, and sign up for more exciting discounts, prizes and special offers in the future.
Thanks so much for stopping by today, Mark. All the best with your upcoming releases!

About the Author
Mark M. Bello
Mark M. Bello is an attorney and award-winning author of realistic fiction and political legal thrillers.
Retired from handling high profile legal cases, Mark now gives the public a front-row seat watching victims fight for justice in our civil and criminal justice systems. Mark's award-winning Zachary Blake Legal Thrillers mirror our times and the events that shape our country.
In addition to writing captivating legal thriller novels, Mark writes a civil justice blog and co-hosts a weekly podcast, Journey into Justice. He has written articles for numerous publications and made guest appearances on radio and talk shows.
In his spare time, Mark enjoys traveling and spending time with his family. He and his wife Tobye have four children and eight grandchildren.

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Friday, November 8, 2019

"Christmas Cupcakes and a Caper" by D. E. Haggerty


REVIEW and GIVEAWAY
Christmas Cupcakes and a Caper
(Death by Cupcake Book 4)
by D. E. Haggerty

Christmas Cupcakes and a Caper (Death by Cupcake Book 4)  by D. E. Haggerty

Christmas Cupcakes and a Caper is the first holiday novella in the Death by Cupcake series by D. E. Haggerty. Grab your copy now for only $0.99! Also available: Never Trust a Skinny Cupcake Baker (read my blog post), Bring Your Own Baker (read my blog post), and Self-Serve Murder (read my blog post).


Christmas Cupcakes and a Caper is currently on tour with Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours. The tour stops here today for my review, an excerpt, and a giveaway. Please be sure to visit the other tour stops as well.



Description
It’s all candy cane cupcakes and peppermint coffee until you find a dead elf on your doorstep.
Only the elf wasn’t a real elf, because elves don’t actually exist – not even at Christmas time. A college student dressed like an elf decided taking a nap in sub-zero winter temps was a good idea. It wasn’t. Anna, the pink-haired baker extraordinaire of Callie’s Cakes, is convinced the student’s death was not an accident. She drags Callie and Kristie along with her as she attempts to discover who killed the elf … um … student.
Will the gals of Callie’s Cakes find the killer before Christmas is ruined?
Cupcakes not included, although you’ll find recipes for all the delicious Christmas cupcakes Anna baked.


Excerpt
“Holy cow, batgirl, these cupcakes are the bomb.” The chocolate cupcakes with buttercream frosting are decorated with red and green sparkles for the Christmas season and look absolutely scrumptious. I grab one and rip the paper liner off before shoving half into my mouth. I moan as the taste of chocolate and fluffy cream combine to create heaven in my mouth but then the heavenly cream melts and a burn replaces it. My eyes water and I start to cough. “What the heck did you put in these?” I somehow manage to ask.
“Too much?” Anna scrunches up her nose and frowns at the cupcakes as if the things have let her down.
I wave a hand in front of my face to cool the heat now spreading across my face. “Um, yeah. Just a bit.”
“Huh.” She wrinkles her nose. “The original recipe called for six teaspoons of Irish Cream in the frosting and two teaspoons of whiskey in the ganache filling. Sounded like way too little.” She grabs a pencil and starts scribbling notes on a piece of paper.
Throwing cupcakes away, anything chocolate really, is sacrilege, but there’s no way I can finish this thing. I toss the remaining cupcake in the trash with a shake of my head. “Remember,” I tell her as I walk to my office. “We don’t have a liquor license.”
I’ve nearly reached my office when Kristie pushes the swinging door into the kitchen open. “I hate to interrupt your loving on some cupcakes, but we have a problem.”
“I got this,” I shout to Anna and start to follow Kristie.
“Um, I think both of you are going to want to see this.”
Well, now she has my attention. “What’s going on?”
“You have to see it to believe it.”
I motion for her to lead the way as I follow her through the door with Anna hot on my heels. I stop when I see the room is empty. “Why haven’t you opened yet?”
“That’s what I needed to show you.” She points to the front door.
As the door is glass, I immediately spot the problem. There’s an elf sitting in front of the door, leaning his back against it while obviously passed out. I roll my eyes. Typical. This time of year brings out the drunks, which is saying a lot in Wisconsin. “I got this.”
I march to the door and unlock it. As soon as I pull the door open, the elf falls backwards. I jump out of the way, and his body lands with a thump in the doorway. Ugh. I hate dealing with drunks. Not that we get too many drunks coming to Callie’s Cakes. We are a cupcake bakery and not a bar after all. “Come on, dude. Time to move on.” I gently prod him with my foot, but he doesn’t move or make a sound. “How much did you drink?” I lean over and squeeze his shoulder. No reaction. Uh oh.
[Want more? Click below to read a longer excerpt.]


Praise for the Book
“A label on the cover promises laugh out loud fun and for a story that is a little over 100 pages with three spunky heroines, it definitely makes good on that guarantee.” ~ I Read What You Write
“There are some twists and turns and a bit of a shocker at the end ... D. E. Haggerty has a new fan of this fun cozy series.” ~ My Reading Journeys
“This book is humorous and kept me engaged from the first page to the last ... Anna cracks me up – she is petite but a force of nature. Let’s just say you shouldn’t mess with her.” ~ Storeybook Reviews
“Filled with witty banter, colorful phrases and misdirections, can the women avoid the men attempting to protect them while they get to the bottom of a dead elf delivered to the cupcake shop.” ~ Laura’s Interests
“It is always fun to revisit with Callie and her friends and as an additional bonus these a quick reads that are ideal for a commute or whilst waiting for an appointment!” ~ A Wytch’s Book Review Blog
“The easy rapport between the three women is very well written, drawing us into their inner circle of friendship and teamwork. The story is written with the perfect blend of drama and humor – and cupcakes!” ~ Book Babble

My Review
I received this book in return for an honest review.


Callie and the girls are back! This time, they investigate the murder of an elf found dead on their doorstep.
This is a quick, fun read, perfect for getting in the mood for Christmas. It comes complete with seven delicious cupcake recipes as made by Anna in the book. I can’t wait to try them!
This is the first holiday novella in the Death by Cupcake series. I look forwarding to spending more holidays with these girls.

About the Author
D. E. Haggerty
I grew up reading everything I could get my grubby hands on, from my mom’s Harlequin romances to Nancy Drew, to Little Women. When I wasn’t flipping pages in a library book, I was penning horrendous poems, writing songs no one should ever sing, or drafting stories which have thankfully been destroyed. College and a stint in the U.S. Army came along, robbing me of free time to write and read, although on the odd occasion I did manage to sneak a book into my rucksack between rolled up socks, MRIs, t-shirts, and cold weather gear. After surviving the army experience, I went back to school and got my law degree. I jumped ship and joined the hubby in the Netherlands before the graduation ceremony could even begin. A few years into my legal career, I was exhausted, fed up, and just plain done. I quit my job and sat down to write a manuscript, which I promptly hid in the attic before returning to the law. But practicing law really wasn’t my thing, so I quit (again!) and went off to Germany to start a B&B. Turns out running a B&B wasn’t my thing either. I polished off that manuscript languishing in the attic before following the husband to Istanbul where I decided to give the whole writer-thing a go. But ten years was too many to stay away from my adopted home. I packed up again and moved to The Hague where, in between tennis matches and failing to save the world, I’m currently working on my next book. I hope I’ll always be working on my next book.

Giveaway
Enter the tour-wide giveaway for a chance to win a $10 Amazon gift card.

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