Tag Archives: Vashti Quiroz-Vega

"The Reckoning Squad" Cover Reveal

27 Jan

Hi, everyone! I’m excited to have Suzanne Burke as a guest on my blog today. I’m also ecstatic to be hosting the cover reveal for her new book, The Reckoning Squad. I’m a fan of Suzanne’s work, and I’ve already pre-ordered my copy. Enjoy the post!

The Reckoning Squad

By

S. Burke

Available to Pre-Order NOW.
Release Date:  Monday FEBRUARY 24th, 2020.
Mystery>Psychological Thriller & Suspense >

It is such an exciting time for an author when releasing a new book! I would be remiss in not sharing my heartfelt thanks to the marvelous people who gave of their time so readily to beta read my latest book. Their valuable insights helped me enormously when crafting “The Reckoning Squad”

At long last, I’m able to share the cover and blurb for “The Reckoning Squad” my latest Psychological Thriller.

“The Reckoning Squad ” is due for release on Monday, February 24th, 2020.

It is NOW available for Pre-Order.

I have many good friends sharing this cover across the blogosphere today and tomorrow, so you’re likely to see it pop up in various places. Thank you to everyone participating in my cover reveal splash, and to everyone dropping by to share in my excitement.   Here’s my new baby . . .

With much gratitude to Eeva Lancaster at The Book Khaleesi for the cover creation.

Cover Created by Eeva Lancaster at The Book Khaleesi

Presenting “The Reckoning Squad” A Psychological thriller.

BLURB:

The Reckoning Squad was the new name being whispered in the darkened corridors of the powerful in Washington. The name was whispered with awe, and the whispers grew louder.

Twenty people had been carefully vetted and recruited to undergo specialized training. Training engineered to break them utterly, intended to shatter everything they once believed themselves capable of surviving. Only the best of them made it through the twelve weeks of hell. They now formed a cohesive black-ops unit, known as The Reckoning Squad.

Their facility is breached, and the team’s numbers are decimated. The survivors know that they’re in a fight for their lives. They have been betrayed from within. Trust has now become a rare commodity. They want answers.

The betrayers don’t understand just what they’ve unleashed.

But they are about to find out.

The Reckoning Squad are coming, and they have just rewritten the rules.

#

Here’s an extract from the Prologue.

Prologue.

New York: November 8th, 2003.

Chastity Adams checked the time, ran a brush through her long blonde curls and hurriedly grabbed her school books. She shoved them into her backpack and slipped on her gloves. One quick look from her bedroom window was enough to tell her just how windy it was outside. The last of the fall leaves still clung bravely to the branches all the while knowing it was futile. The others swirled in small angry spirals across her backyard. She grabbed her coat, pulled on a beanie, and loosely draped a scarf across her shoulders. Chastity was unaware of how pretty she looked with her long curls falling in a soft curtain around her. Her mind was too busy to cloud it with vanity.

She suddenly recalled a decision she’d made yesterday.

Chastity hurried down the hallway to her brother Nathan’s room and knocked on the door.

Nathan stood looking down at her from his 6ft 3ins, rubbing his eyes and leaning on the wall. “What’s up, squirt?”

Chastity ignored the nickname, she’d be thirteen in a couple of days then she’d ask her big brother to quit using it, “I was just wondering if you had some gloves and maybe a beanie or scarf you don’t ever wear.”

“Why would you need them?”

Chastity flushed a deep shade of pink, “There’s this boy at school, he kinda always looks cold. He’s still wearing the same stuff he was wearing back in June. It’s way too cold now for shorts and a tee-shirt. So, I figured maybe his folks just didn’t have enough money to buy him some warmer stuff, you know? I mean he could have one of mine, but he already gets picked on enough and adding bright girl colored stuff would just make it worse.”

“You off on another one of your missions to save the world, squirt?”

“I’m not! But it just doesn’t seem right that some folks have too much and some folks never have enough. That’s all.”

Her brother looked at her closely and nodded. “Okay. I guess I have some stuff I don’t really need.”

His sister flung her arms around him. “You are the best brother ever! You wouldn’t maybe have an old hoodie as well?”

Nathan knew he’d lose an argument with his kid sister. He had never been able to deny her anything. And the little minx knew it.

His eyes followed her as she left the room with her donated bootie. He tried to shrug off the thought that his friends may start looking at his kid sister a little differently, and soon.

Then he grinned and was comforted by the knowledge that the squirt was capable of laying them out flat on the ground, courtesy of the karate lessons she’d undertaken since the age of five. If she didn’t dissuade them they’d have to come through him. That wasn’t about to happen. This whole big brother thing had suddenly altered in a way he hadn’t anticipated happening quite so soon.

***

Travis Wilson shivered as he stepped outside and hurriedly locked the front door behind him. The baggy shorts and tee-shirt he was wearing gave him no armor to fight off the cold November wind. He steeled himself to brace it, picked up his violin case and hurried to catch the school bus.

He climbed on and made his way quickly down to the back corner and grabbed the window seat. He spoke to no one and kept his eyes averted, but he couldn’t shut his ears off from hearing the nasty comments from the other kids that sat nearest to him. “You going away to a beach somewhere, freak? Don’t much like your choice of swimwear.”

The guy had secured himself a good laugh with that one.

Then the other comments started. Kids seemed to grow braver when they formed a pack. Travis knew they weren’t allcruel, not normally, but the need they had to belongtrashed all over their distaste at what they were doing. Driven by the desire to be considered popular inspired them to be as cruel as they could be. Their words lacerated his already damaged soul and Travis felt his face darken with the shame of it. He didn’t respond either by word or action, knowing they’d soon become bored with their bullying of him and move their spiteful tongues on to some other kid they deemed to be weak and an easy target.

He looked out the window and sighed with relief when he spotted Chastity Adams and her best friends readying to climb onboard at the bus stop. Chastity was different from the rest of them. He always felt a little better about his day when she’d seek him out and give him a smile. He looked across at her then, just as she turned. He knew she had caught the wistful look on his face. She simply smiled across at him and turned back to her chattering best friends.

He caught the smile and burned it into his memory. He would remember it when the darkness descended again. It would help keep him warm.

***

Purchase The Reckoning Squad on Amazon.com

Again, my grateful thanks to the generous folks sharing my Cover reveal with you today.

I’m looking forward to hearing your thoughts.

Suzanne Burke Amazon Author Page

On TWITTER.

My Blog

Poetry Friday ~ Calm & Present

17 Jan

Hi, everyone! A warm welcome to my blog.

Colleen’s Poetry Prompt Challenge. It’s the second week of the month! That means Synonyms ONLY!

Here are your two words:

“CALM & PRESENT”

Photo by Aziz Acharki @acharki95
He always soothes me
generously giving me
the best gift of all
being present in the now
securing my existence
Photo by Becca Tapert @beccatapert

Have a Happy Friday and weekend!

Poetry Friday ~ Wild Fire

10 Jan

Hi, everyone! Welcome.

Since September, 17.9 million acres of Australia have burned in one of the country’s worst fire seasons on record. That’s an area larger than West Virginia, and more than eight times the area that burned in California in 2018, the state’s most destructive year for wildfires. 

The fires have now killed at least 27 people and destroyed almost 2,000 homes. The blazes turned skies orange and made breathing the air in Sydney as bad as smoking 37 cigarettes. Those are just the impacts on people. The destruction of the country’s land and biodiversity is harder to fathom. An estimated 1 billion animals have been lost, and scientists fear long-term damage to many sensitive ecosystems. 

Though rain brought firefighters a slight reprieve Wednesday, the AP reports that hot and windy conditions that will keep the fires burning are expected to return later this week. 

It’s a disaster that’s particularly ominous: In a warming world, extreme fire events like this one will only grow more likely to occur. – Australia Fires: 7 Things Everyone Should Know About The Brushfire Disaster.

Photograph by Cris Saur @crisaur

What is happening in Australia right now is devastating. I feel terrible for the families that have lost loved ones and are suffering through this hellish brushfire disaster. The number of animals that have perished in the fire is perturbing. 1 Billion animals dead! The firefighters that are putting their lives at risk every day battling the flames are amazing. It is easy to feel helpless, especially if you live on the other side of the planet, but there are things we could do to help.

  • If you’re in Australia, Givit has a list of specific items needed by people and organizations affected by the bushfires.
  • People with emergency response training can sign up to volunteer in Queensland.
  • The World Wildlife Fund is collecting donations to restore habitats for koalas impacted by the fires.
  • You can donate to the Australian Red Cross’s fire recovery and relief fund.
  • You can also donate directly to the New South Wales Rural Fire Service, the Country Fire Service Foundation in South Australia, and the Country Fire Authority in Victoria.
Photograph by Mark Galer @markgaler

Colleen’s 2020 Weekly #Tanka Tuesday #Poetry Challenge No. 159, #Poet’sChoice

I chose to share this beautiful and heart-wrenching poem by Philip Salom dedicated to the men and women who fight these fires. Below is part one of the poem. You can read the rest of it here.

Bushfire

As if going into battle, the knapsack 
full on my shoulders, its pipe and nozzle
slung up like a rifle.
We fought along the river, seeing shrubs
explode, riddled with fire,
eerie sounds of trees shrieking
like things alive, feral, flames like faces
spilling down into the ferns.
We staggered, sick with the hammering heat,
dousing endless flames that slammed at us
like nightmares, sullen ghosts
groping at our limbs. We plunged
into that day's red thunder,
subsumed like suiciders who stare into
the rifle, gulp the flame. Individuals
meandering in something huge.
We choked in smoking semi-darkness,
shadows through the lead-coloured
air of limbo.

Now the aching blistering weight
of the knapsack pulling my shoulders.
Exhaustion worries the scorched end
of some unity: thought and action
fused into one. Sagging now,
heavier than the slopping drums
behind the tractors coming in.
We see the new men walking in
and seem to meet our earlier selves
but are more certain and more tired.
I, older than my youth, seeing these men
as if they were children.
Photograph by Liam Pozz @liampozz

Enjoy the rest of your day!

What Happened to Flying Cars?

3 Jan

I hope everyone has had a great start to the new year.

I remember all the promises of technological advances for this period. By this time, we were supposed to have flying cars, robots in every home, and teleportation, among other things. So what happened?

I have no doubts that the technology for flying cars is already out there. They probably have not figured out a way to implement it without us killing each other in transit. I mean, we have trouble operating a car on solid ground. I do not think we’re ready to drive amongst the clouds. How would you know which lane you’re on? Where would they put the traffic lights, yield, and stop signs? I could see it now, vehicles crashing into skyscrapers and firefighters getting cars out of trees.

I love to travel; it is one of my passions. Traveling and reading give me the tools I need to write, especially for worldbuilding and characterization. Although I enjoy visiting new countries and enjoying the people and culture, I’m not too fond of airports and airplanes, so I was looking forward to teleportation. To be able to enter a pod and in seconds, be transported to another country––what a dream. Of course, what is probably delaying the process are the test subjects. I don’t know about you, but I would not want this technology tested on animals or people, so there’s the problem the scientists are facing. The last thing I want to hear on the news is that they tried to test teleportation with a human subject and only hamburger arrived on the other side. Gross! What if the other scientists are vegans? We wouldn’t want to offend anyone, would we?

Seriously, although we did not get every technological advance promised for this decade, we did get a plethora of cool things. I own an iPhone, and it’s like walking around with a calculator, compass, dictionary, camera, and computer in my pocket––among other things. If someone had told me in 1999 that my phone would speak to me, answer questions, and assist me with specific tasks, I would have thought that person was talking about something he or she read in a SciFi novel. How about gene therapy, reversing paralysis, Wi-Fi (devices powered by the air!), Nanotechnology, computers that are figuring out how to do things no programmer could teach them (anyone thinking SKYNET?), 3D metal printing, artificial embryos? Wow! We’ve come a long way since 1999, but have we gone too far in certain areas?

Let me share with you the 10 Breakthrough Technologies of 2019, curated by Bill Gates.

1. Robot Dexterity – Robots are teaching themselves to handle the physical world. (SKYNET comes to mind again)

2. New-Wave Nuclear Power – Advanced fusion and fission reactors. (This reads scary. Did anyone see the drama miniseries on HBO, Chernobyl?)

3. Predicting Preemies – A simple blood test can predict if a pregnant woman is at risk of giving birth prematurely. (This I like. I worked in the NICU (area in the hospital that provides care for premature infants and seriously ill babies) for a while, and it was heart-wrenching.)

4. Gut Probe in a Pill – A small, swallowable device captures images of the gut without anesthesia. (Another good one. Anesthesia is not suitable for everyone.)

5. Custom Cancer Vaccines – The treatment incites the body’s natural defenses to destroy only cancer cells by identifying mutations unique to each tumor. (It’s about time.)

6. The Cow-Free Burger – Both lab-grown and plant-based alternatives approximate the taste and nutritional value of real meat without the environmental devastation. (I do not eat beef, but I did once, and I do miss a good burger. Maybe I would try the plant-based one––lab-grown does not sound appealing.)

7. Carbon Dioxide Catcher – Practical and affordable ways to capture carbon dioxide from the air can soak up excess greenhouse gas emissions. (How do plants feel about this? Plants need carbon dioxide for photosynthesis, right?)

8. An ECG (Electrocardiogram) On Your Wrist – ECG-enabled smartwatches, made possible by new regulations and innovations in hardware and software, offer the convenience of a wearable device with something closer to the precision of a medical one. (Well, it’s practical, but that means ECG techs will be obsolete in the future.)

9. Sanitation Without Sewers – Energy-efficient toilets can operate without a sewer system and treat waste on the spot. (What does it use concentrated sulfuric acid?)

10. Smooth-Talking AI (Artificial Intelligence) Assistants – New techniques that capture semantic relationships between words are making machines better at understanding natural language. (SKYNET)

There you have it. We cannot teleport to Bora-Bora, but there were so many advances in the last twenty years I cannot wait to see what this new decade has in store. Please excuse my somewhat weird sense of humor. I wish everyone happiness, good health, love, and prosperity in this new decade.

What are some of your goals for 2020?

Poetry Friday ~ Give & Shake

13 Dec

Give and Shake are this week’s prompt words chosen by Colleen Chesebro ~ The Fairy Whisperer.

*The catch is that we can only use the synonyms to these words in our poems.

Colleen hosts a challenge that anyone could participate in called, Colleen’s Weekly Tanka Tuesday Poetry Challenge every Tuesday, and you have until Sunday to create a post featuring your Haiku, Tanka, Haibun, Etheree or Cinquain poem. She is an author and poet, and also does book reviews and so much more on her blog. Be sure to check it out.

Photo by Jaakko Kemppainen @jaakkok

The

planet

is dying

Man has planted

seeds of pollution

The world breaks and quivers

as the sun’s flames cease to burn

You’ll welcome Hell’s raging fires

when days turn to nights and our bones freeze

And December will be the cruelest month

Photo by Todd Diemer @todd_diemer

Have a great Friday the 13th!

Poetry Friday ~ The Love of Books

6 Dec
Colleen's Weekly Tanka Tuesday Poetry Challenge

The first of the month is ‘Poet’s Choice‘ at Colleen’s Weekly Poetry Prompt Challenge. I chose to share a poem by Julia Donaldson, that’s sure to make you fall in love with books.

I Opened a Book
By Julia Donaldson
I opened a book and in I strode.
Now nobody can find me.
I’ve left my chair, my house, my road,
My town and my world behind me.
I’m wearing the cloak, I’ve slipped on the ring,
I’ve swallowed the magic potion.
I’ve fought with a dragon, dined with a king
And dived in a bottomless ocean.
I opened a book and made some friends.
I shared their tears and laughter
And followed their road with its bumps and bends
To the happily ever after.
I finished my book and out I came.
The cloak can no longer hide me.
My chair and my house are just the same,
But I have a book inside me.

I hope you enjoyed the poem. It’s one of my favorite poems about books and reading. I also wanted to share my reviews for a book and two short stories I read recently.

Click on image to buy on Amazon

The Altar Boy is a true to life coming-of-age story. Carl Sanders grew up in the 1960s in a Catholic household. The Catholic Church was revered in those days, and so were its clergymen, but for Carl and his family, a priest brought nothing but pain.

I didn’t like Carl’s mother; she was selfish and hypocritical. His father was not perfect either, but he did try his best to keep the family together and didn’t deserve what happened to him.

Looking at the life of this Catholic family in the 60s through Carl’s eyes as a young boy was both hilarious and heart wrenching. Carl’s mischievous antics made me laugh while his fear, confusion, and unconditional love for his mother chipped away at my heart. Prepare yourself for a rollercoaster of emotions.

If you enjoy stories with well-developed characters that make you feel an array of emotions, this book is for you.

Click on image to get your .99¢ eBook on Amazon!

The Author, Rhani D’Chae in Zombie Dawn, brilliantly chronicles the dawn of the zombie apocalypse. The author wasted no time building tension and providing an overall sense of horror from the beginning. I sat at the edge of my seat until the end of the story and then wanted more.

This is the story of a small neighborhood where everyone knows each other. The kind of neighborhood where you can leave your doors and windows open and youngsters can walk the streets at night without fear. That is until an elderly man named Elmer Duncan dies of seemingly natural causes only to open his eerie milky eyes as he was reanimated as a zombie. From this point, the story escalates into a chaotic set of events that’ll have you quaking in your chair. I enjoyed the author’s writing style and read it in one sitting. The story is well written, fascinating, and descriptive. If you’re a fan of zombies or horror, you will enjoy this short story.

This short story is FREE on Amazon Kindle! Click to get your copy.

This short story is a metaphoric expression of the author’s life growing up in an abusive household.

Her mother was a narcissist, and the author did a great job of relating the frustration she underwent dealing with a person who lacked the ability to love and feel empathy for others, including herself. Others were blind to her mother’s abuse because, as a narcissist, she knew how to cover her tracks well. The author’s father and other family members and friends unknowingly defended and enabled her mother, adding to the detriment of the child.

This is an inspiring, powerful, and compelling read that many readers will relate to whether they have suffered abuse at the hands of a narcissist or not. In the end, the daughter escapes her abusive prison.

Connect with these authors on social media!

@psteph55 on Twitter
@ChristinaWinds on Twitter
@rhanidchae on Twitter

Just a quick reminder that all my eBooks are on sale for .99¢ through Sunday! Get your eBooks!

Click on image to go to Amazon and get your .99¢ eBooks!

I hope you enjoyed today’s post! Let me know what you think in the comment section below. Thank you for a visit, and have a Happy Friday and weekend!

Poetry Friday ~ Photo Prompt

22 Nov

It’s Colleen Chesebro’s Middle of the Month Poetry Photo Prompt Challenge!

This month we will use a photo chosen by last month’s “Photo-Prompt” Poet of the Week ~ Linda Lee Lyberg.

My contribution this week is a Butterfly Cinquain. I hope you enjoy it.

She yawns
spreading her wings
blinding the stars with light
chasing away the dark shadows
of night
angel of dawn
heralds another day
clouds set aflame with amber glow
birds rise

As Thanksgiving Day approaches, I wanted to thank everyone that follows and visits my blog. I’m grateful for your friendship and support. I get excited whenever I post a poem, story, or article in anticipation of your visits and comments. Thanks for being so great!

Happy Thanksgiving Day!

Poetry Friday ~ Grace & Style

15 Nov

I’m always striving to be a better writer. My goal is to make sure my writing is the best it can be. I want every book I publish to be better than the one before.

Writing every day is a good way to realize my goals. Reading every day is also extremely important. I used to read only books in my favorite genres, but now I read books of all genres because I realized that they help with the different aspects of my writing. I used to read only books by famous, proven writers, but I’ve learned that there are excellent indie writers out there. I read more indie books than ever now and truly enjoy them.

I’ve also discovered some helpful and informative books that have helped me grow as a writer. I will be sharing some of those with you today.

Immensely helpful and illuminating to any aspiring writer, this special edition of Stephen King’s critically lauded, million-copy bestseller shares the experiences, habits, and convictions that have shaped him and his work.

DeSalvo describes the work habits of successful writers (among them, Nobel Prize laureates) so that readers can use the information provided to develop their identity as writers and transform their writing lives. DeSalvo skillfully and gently guides writers to not only start their work but immerse themselves fully in the process and create texts they will treasure.

The Elements of Style by William Strunk and E.B. White is a classic. Reviews all those rules you should only break if you have a really good reason.

Good Prose—like Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style—is a succinct, authoritative, and entertaining arbiter of standards in contemporary writing, offering guidance for the professional writer and the beginner alike. This wise and useful book is the perfect companion for anyone who loves to read good books and longs to write one.

There are of course many more writing books out there but these are informative and beneficial to new writers as well as experienced ones.

I write from the heart
Through the darkness of genres
I purge my sorrows

To all my writing friends participating in NaNoWriMo Happy Writing and may the Muse be with you!

Poetry Friday ~ It’s time to check your “virginity” again.

8 Nov

Hello, everyone! Welcome.

Have you heard about rapper T.I.’s podcast interview in which he revealed that he checks his daughter’s virginity? I saw this on TV, but it’s all over the internet. In case you haven’t heard, this is the gist of it: Grammy-winning rapper T.I. (Clifford Harris) told a podcast that he forces his teenage daughter to undergo an annual virginity test at the Gynecologist. The day after her birthday, he takes her to get her hymen checked to ensure that she’s still a virgin.

To say I was outraged by this is an understatement. Firstly, how backward and ignorant do you have to be? Having sex isn’t the only way a hymen gets torn. It can happen in many different ways. Secondly, what lessons is he teaching his daughter? That she’s only worthwhile if she’s a virgin? Her entire worth as a woman is based on her virginity status? Her word has no meaning because instead of asking her if she’s sexually active and trusting in what she tells you, you need medical proof? Why doesn’t he make her wear a chastity belt?

As if this yearly ritual wasn’t humiliating enough, he revealed everything on a podcast heard by thousands of people. His daughter is eighteen. Even if you don’t know who rapper T.I. is or listen to his music, you need to know that this goes on right here in the USA. And you know what? Even if you’re a fan, you have to admit this is insane.

To top it off, T.I. has a fifteen-year-old son who disclosed that he’s sexually active, and the rapper is fine with it. What? It’s okay for his fifteen-year-old son to have sex, but his eighteen-year-old daughter has to prove her virginity by going to a gynecologist and getting her hymen checked? This is a huge double standard, and I can’t stand it.

I guess T.I. doesn’t care if his son impregnates several girls his daughter’s age or younger, and either he doesn’t know or care about all the sexually transmitted diseases his son could easily catch. Why can’t this man talk to and educate his children, so that they can learn to make the right decisions on their own?

I understand some fathers are overprotective with their daughters, but in my opinion, this is going too far. Deyja Harris is T.I.’s daughter, not his property. And his fifteen-year-old son is in danger of contracting aids, herpes, hepatitis, among other diseases – not to mention getting someone pregnant.

What is your opinion on this subject?

“It’s the first of the month, and you know what that means! Poets choose your own prompt words.” Colleen’s 2019 Weekly Poetry Challenge No. 152

A
woman
who speaks her
mind is not a
bitch. She doesn’t need
men to validate her.
She’s not his sex toy or a
baby machine. She’s who she wants
to be. Society won’t make a
puppet of her, because she’s a woman.

Thanks for the visit. Please, let me know what you think in the comment section below.

Poetry Friday ~ Spell & Treat

25 Oct
Vashti Q-the writer next door-Vashti Q-poetry friday-tanka-spell-colleen chesebro-poetry challenge

Hi, everyone! Welcome to my blog.

Spell and Treat are this week’s prompt words chosen by Colleen Chesebro ~ The Fairy Whisperer.

*The catch is that we can only use the synonyms to these words in our poems.

Colleen hosts a challenge that anyone could participate in called, Colleen’s Weekly Tanka Tuesday Poetry Challenge every Tuesday, and you have until Sunday to create a post featuring your Haiku, Tanka, Haibun, Etheree or Cinquain poem. She is an author and poet, and also does book reviews and so much more on her blog. Be sure to check it out.

I dance around flames
Outstretched arm cast magic charm
But now you’re the witch
making me forget my name
Your sweet, sweet love is to blame

Poetry Friday-Friyay-Vashti Q-the writer next door-vashti quiroz vega-tanka-poetry

I hope you enjoyed the Tanka. I used magic charm and sweet as synonyms for spell and treat. Thanks for the visit!

Poetry_Friday-Vashti Quiroz Vega-Vashti Q-The Writer Next Door-tanka-I put a spell on you

Have fun
and be safe!