Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Book Review: Along Came A Spyder by Apeksha Rao

Title: Along Came A Spyder

Author: Apeksha Rao

Publisher: TreeShade Books






All 17-year-old Samira wants in life is to become a spy like her parents who are RAW agents widely known in the circle for their courage and bravery. Her parents too have trained her all her life for this profession until now when all they care is for Samira to become a doctor. But the headstrong teenager that Samira is, she is not to be deterred by anyone, lest her parents.
Samira’s lifelong dream seems to come true when she accidently stumbles upon a group of teen spies being trained by the government. She is ever so happy to be a part of this sisterhood dubbed “Spyder.” Will she be accepted by these teenagers who have taken upon themselves to fight and solve crime? But more importantly, does she have what it takes to be a real spy?

Apeksha Rao, in her debut novel, writes an amazing story of bravery and self-confidence, encouraging teenagers to think out of the box and never give up. Her use of language is easy but perfectly teen-y. It’s easy to relate with Samira and her new gang of teen spies. All the characters are memorable and adequately fleshed out.

With a quirky cast of characters, witty dialogue, and cool spy gadgets, Rao has spun an entertaining read that will likely satisfy adrenaline junkies.

An awesome series opener, especially for those who love spies. Don’t miss this witty teen spy’s story that promises a superb read.




Apeksha Rao is a multi genre author from Bangalore.

She is the author of Along Came A Spyder, which is the story of a seventeen year old girl who wants to be spy.

Apeksha has written many short stories based on the same series, The Spyders, which are available on this blog.
She is a voracious reader, and a foodie.

Apeksha's current works in progress: A middle grade book, a chick lit featuring a detective, and a horror novel (the writing of which is giving her sleepless nights).




I'd like to thank the author for letting me review the book. I do hope you end up liking the book when you read it. Thank you so much for stopping by, and happy reading!

  


* I received a review copy from the author in exchange for an honest review.


Friday, September 25, 2020

Author Interview: Apeksha Rao, author of Along Came A Spyder

 



Apeksha Rao is a multi genre author from Bangalore.

She is the author of Along Came A Spyder, which is the story of a seventeen year old girl who wants to be spy.

Apeksha has written many short stories based on the same series, The Spyders, which are available on this blog.
She is a voracious reader, and a foodie.

Apeksha's current works in progress: A middle grade book, a chick lit featuring a detective, and a horror novel (the writing of which is giving her sleepless nights).




  1. When did you first realize that you wanted to be a writer/ a storyteller?

  2. I used to make up stories even as a child and wrote my first story at the age of seven. But, it was only when I finished writing my first full-length novel that I realised how much I loved storytelling and decided to take it up full time.

  3. How did you come up with the idea for your current story?

  4. As a teenager, I used to fantasise about being an undercover spy, and I waited for someone to recruit me into RAW. Unfortunately, no one ever recruited me, so I got on with life. When I started writing seriously, this little idea of a group of teen spies kept knocking at my mind’s door, and I took it from there.

  5. What is your writing process? Do you follow a regular routine or do you have any weird, funny, or unusual habits while writing and what are they?

  6. First of all, writing makes me ravenous. I have to keep eating when I’m writing, otherwise, I get hangry. What with my kids’ online classes, and the on-going marketing of my debut novel, it’s getting difficult to carve out a writing schedule, but I’m trying to write for three hours every night.

  7. Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it?

  8. When I get stuck on one project, I work on another. Or I read.

  1. What are your current/future projects?

  2. I’m currently working on a historical adventure for kids and trying to outline a historical thriller for adults. 

  3. Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre? If you write more than one, how do you balance them?

  4. I think I was born a teenager, and I will die one. I don’t have to work at the YA voice because that’s how I normally think and talk, which is why writing YA came naturally to me. The trouble with that starts when I try to write other genres, but I’m working at that.

  5. Are you traditional or self-published, and what process did you go through to get your book published?

  6. I’m a hybrid author, actually. After I wrote Along Came A Spyder, I reached out to a literary agent, Suhail Mathur, of The Book Bakers, and he agreed to represent my work. He soon got me a traditional publishing deal with TreeShade Books, and my book was scheduled to release in April 2020. Due to the lockdown, we had to postpone the release, and I decided to release a novella on Kindle, The Itsy Bitsy Spyder, which was the prequel to this book. 

  7. What opportunities have being an author presented you with and share those memories? (i.e. travel, friends, events, speaking, etc...)

  8. First of all, I’ve been lucky to have met so many wonderful writers and bloggers through my literary journey, who have now become close friends.

  9. I’ve also had the opportunity to conduct a couple of sessions with school kids, which is great fun! Recently, I had my very first Insta-live interview, and I look forward to doing more of those.

  10. What do you do if inspiration strikes in an inconvenient place like (car, restaurant, bathroom/shower, etc..) and how do you capture that moment before it gets away from you?

  11. I have been known to grab a piece of tissue paper and scribble feverishly, while the rest of my family stared in surprise. 

  12. Once, I dreamt of a story idea and wanted to write it down as soon as I woke up. But I had an early morning flight to catch, so I carried my notebook along, and outlined the whole story while waiting to board.

  13. What is the easiest/hardest scene for you to write, why? (Love, action, fight, death, racy, controversial, etc…)

  14. I can write action scenes quite easily. But I really struggle with romance. Ask me to describe a murder from a serial killer’s POV, and I’ll do it easy-peasy. But, ask me to write a love scene, and I will just burst into tears.

  15. What are some events you have attended or participated in that has been a positive experience/influence on/for your writing?

  16. I recently attended a workshop on writing for middle graders, conducted by India’s foremost authorities on children’s writing, Sayoni Basu and Anushka Ravishankar. That was a big help.

  17. I’ve also been handpicked for Anita Nair’s creative writing mentorship program, which starts in October. Hoping to learn a lot from that, as well.

  1. Do you view writing as a career, labor of love, hobby, creative outlet, therapy, or something else?

  2. It started off as a labor of love, but now it is a full-time career.

  3. Were there any challenges (research, literary, psychological, or logistical) in bringing your book to life?

  4. The biggest challenge was the COVID -19 pandemic and the resulting lockdown. The printers shut down on the very day that my book was to go to print, and that was a huge setback.

  5. What makes your book stand out from the crowd?

  6. Along Came A Spyder is India’s first YA spy fiction, the first of its genre. It has really strong female characters and is loaded with snark and humour.

  7. What is the best piece of advice you have received, as a writer, till date?

  8. When I was a child, my uncle gave me some writing advice that really resonated with me. I was just starting to write, and like all kids, I was obsessed with Enid Blyton. I tried to write something that was set in a world like hers, and obviously, I struggled with that, because it wasn’t my world at all. I was whining about that to my uncle, and he told me to write what I know. That’s the best advice I’ve ever had. For we write best when we write what we know.




At 17, Samira Joshi has only one dream in life.

She wants to be a spy. And why not?

Spying runs in the Joshi genes. Her great-grandmother was famous for sticking her nose in everyone’s business. Her grandmother had a flourishing side-business of tracking down errant husbands and missing servants. Her parents are elite intelligence agents for RAW. Yet, they want their only daughter to become a doctor. When she sees a college friend being trapped by a pimp, Samira does some spying of her own, and discovers the existence of a secret sisterhood of teen spies — The Spyders. And, she wants in!

The question is, do they want her?






Thank you for this amazing interview! I wish you success for all your future works. Keep writing!









Saturday, September 19, 2020

Book Blitz: Anamika Khanna Falls in Love by Shraddha Sahi

 


About the Book:


How far would you go in love?

A few missed calls? Liking every post of his on FB? Landing in the hospital when you fall from a tree because you wanted to see into his room?
Anamika Khanna is madly in love with Rahul…
How can someone be so blind? Why can’t she see how much I love her? Will my confession jeopardise our friendship?
Vikram Lobo, the bookworm has developed muscles and lost the soda bottle glass-es. But he can’t stop his heart from skipping a beat when he sees Anamika.
Rahul, the high society Adonis wants nothing to do with the gauche, middle class weirdo who’s following him around. Until she moves into his league…
Laugh out loud at Anamika’s antics and follow her on the roller coaster that is her life!


Book Links:


Meet Vikram Lobo


If you had a free day with no responsibilities and your only mission was to enjoy yourself, what would you do?

I’d choose to be with Anu. She’s the sun and the stars and the reason for my heart to keep pumping. We’d probably go to Coffee Day - I’d have an espresso and she would order a frappe. And of course, she would realise she’s broke and I’d pay and she’d try to calculate how much this amount plus all the frappes of the past would total to!

If you could spend the day with someone you admire (living or dead or imaginary), who would you pick?

I would spend the day with Alistair MacLean - the writer. He’d teach me how to research a book and how he turns simple sentences into stories that come to life before your eyes. And He’d tell me about his Marie - the one in all his books!

What is your idea of perfect happiness? And, what is your current state of mind?

I would be the happiest man in the world if Anu realises Rahul is a stuck up ass and forgets her stupid infatuation.
Right now, I’m wondering why she can’t see the love shining in my eyes? She’s such a beautiful,   fiery, crazy girl - I just can’t stop loving her. I try to chat with other girls and respond to their flirting, but my heart just isn’t in it.

What do you consider to be the most overrated virtue and why?

Honesty is overrated. If I tell Anu how much I love her, she’ll stop being my friend. It’s better to lie than risk not having her in my life. Also if I tell her what a dirtbag Rahul really is, she’d never believe me. In her eyes, he can do no wrong and I’m just not being supportive.

Tell us 3 things about yourself that the readers do not know about

- I also stalked Rahul once just to see if I was taller than him - and I am! Take that, you arrogant Richie Rich!
- I’m even ready to join Dad in his sanitary ware shop if that means I can have a steady income to support Anu.
- I’ve begun writing a romance novel (under a pseudonym, of course!) - a far cry from the violent detective stories I always write. 



About the Author:

Words have been the centre of Shraddha’s existence for as long as she can re-member. Fed up with her constant demand for books, her parents asked her to write her own. And so, it began!

She’s an ophthalmologist with a specialisation in Glaucoma. She juggles her profes-sional demands with her new label of tennis mom and the larger than life charac-ters that live in her mind, demanding to be manifested.

She has written A Doctor in the House (Partridge), A Great Fall (Juggernaut) and The Case of the Counterfeit Currency (Mango Books) and also has an anthology of poems (F.I.S.T) (Pothi Books)

Shraddha finds herself attracted to stories about women – strong ones, funny ones & kick ass survivors. Her self-deprecating humor tends to stay with you long after you’ve shut the book.


Author Links:



 

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Release Day Blitz: My Heart's Regret by Shilpa Suraj


About the Book:

Samaira Reddy, the girl in the big house, the Bade Sahib's daughter, only wants one thing and one person...a life with her childhood sweetheart, her Rags.

Raghav Cherukuri has always been known as the driver's son. And has also always loved his Sam, the girl he can never have and never forget. And so, he leaves her and his life in Hyderabad behind.
But now, Raghav is back. A Chief Officer in the Merchant Navy, he is the success he’s always wanted to be. And yet, he has failed.
Samaira is meeting the ‘perfect groom’ her family approves of…A man whom Raghav can never be.

Can it finally be their time to be together? Or has their happy-ever-after passed them by?

This novella was previously part of the anthology Something Old Something New.


Book Links:



Read an Excerpt from My Heart's Regret:



“Why did you leave?” The question shot out of her taking them both by surprise. They stared at each other, a wealth of memories flooding the space between them. Years of hurt, months of pain and a million unspoken words crowded around them.
“Don’t.” He turned away from her, shaking his head. “Don’t do this.”
“Why not? You don’t think I deserve any kind of explanation?” 
He opened the rear door of the car in response. “Are you ready to go home?” 
“Home?” She laughed, a bitter sound that floated in the air. “Is that still home to you?”
“Are you ready to go back to your home?” The slight emphasis felt like a slap across her face.
“And that’s the truth of it, isn’t it?” She watched his face for a clue to his feelings. She found none. He was as stone-faced as ever.
“You don’t think of it as home anymore. When you left, you didn’t just leave to study and start your career. You left everything behind. Your home. Your past. Your…”
“Yes.” His acceptance cut her off mid-rant. “I left it all behind. The poverty. The insults. The humiliation. I left my life here behind.”
“Is that all you left behind?” The words sliced through the night like a knife.
Raghav just stared at her, his eyes a cauldron of bottomless emotion. On a growl of frustration, she slid down from the car and stomped towards the door he still held open. Yanking it from his hand, she slammed it shut. Then she walked around the front of the car to the passenger door and got in.
A storm was coming. A loud rumble of thunder could be heard and the wind was picking up outside the car. It blew a lock of his unruly hair into his eyes. 
He didn’t notice but she did. Even through the tears stinging her eyes, she noticed everything about him. 
Raghav continued to stand, motionless by the rear door, his tightly clenched fists the only evidence of the emotion raging inside him. The first drops of rain started to pelt down drenching him in seconds.
Finally, he moved towards where she was sitting. Leaning down, he rapped on the window to get her to put it down.
Samaira obliged, arching an eyebrow in challenge.
 “Get out.” The words were gritted out through clenched teeth.
“No,” she snapped the word out.
“Go sit in the back seat.”
“No,” she said again as she settled more comfortably into the seat. 
“Sam, if someone sees…”
“Let them.” She couldn’t care less.
“Sam, please.” The plea was quiet, but it sliced through. “For my father’s sake.”
Her heart broke at the words. She swiped at the tear that escaped and rolled down her cheek. Without looking at him, she stepped out of the car and got into the rear seat. 
Raghav slid into the driver’s seat and put the car in gear.
They drove home in silence, each lost in their own tortured thoughts. It wasn’t long before her house loomed in front of them. 
They were almost at the gate when she spoke, “Are you happy?”
His hands tightened on the steering wheel. “Are you?”
She laughed. The mirthless sound echoed between them as Ahmed Chacha waved them through the gates. “You’re not going to answer any of my questions, are you?”
Raghav sighed. “What’s the point of this conversation? Discussing the past is going to bring us nothing but more pain.”
“Alright. Let’s talk about the present. Why did you come back?”
Raghav brought the car to a halt outside her front door. “I came back for my parents.”
“Never for me,” she murmured. “You left me without a second thought.”
Raghav, who was holding her door open, froze at the soft words. She stepped out of the car and around his still form. She wasn’t going to beg him for answers anymore.
“The thing is, Sam,” the whisper reached her through the violent noises of the stormy night, “You left me first.”

About the Author:




Shilpa Suraj wears many hats - corporate drone, homemaker, mother to a fabulous toddler and author.

An avid reader with an overactive imagination, Shilpa has weaved stories in her head since she was a child. Her previous stints at Google, in an ad agency and as an entrepreneur provide colour to her present day stories, both fiction and non-fiction.

Contact the Author:

 

Sunday, September 13, 2020

Showcase: Airborne by DiAnn Mills

Airborne by DiAnn Mills Banner

 

 

Airborne

by DiAnn Mills

on Tour September 1-30, 2020

Synopsis:

Airborne by DiAnn Mills

Heather Lawrence’s long-awaited vacation to Salzburg wasn’t supposed to go like this. Mere hours into the transatlantic flight, the Houston FBI agent is awakened when passengers begin exhibiting horrific symptoms of an unknown infection. As the virus quickly spreads and dozens of passengers fall ill, Heather fears she’s witnessing an epidemic similar to ones her estranged husband studies for a living—but this airborne contagion may have been deliberately released.

While Heather remains quarantined with other survivors, she works with her FBI colleagues to identify the person behind this attack. The prime suspect? Dr. Chad Lawrence, an expert in his field . . . and Heather’s husband. The Lawrences’ marriage has been on the rocks since Chad announced his career took precedence over his wife and future family and moved out.

As more victims fall prey days after the initial outbreak, time’s running out to hunt down the killer, one who may be closer to the victims than anyone ever expected.

Book Details:

Genre: Romantic Suspense
Published by: Tyndale House Publishers
Publication Date: September 8th 2020
Number of Pages: 400
ISBN: 1496427173 (ISBN13: 9781496427175)

Airborne Trailer:

Read an excerpt:

Chapter One

Houston
Early July
Monday, 6 p.m.

Vacations offered a distraction for those who longed to relax and rejuvenate, but FBI Special Agent Heather Lawrence wrestled with the decision to take an overseas trip alone. Normally she arrived for a flight at IAH eager to embark upon a new adventure. Not this time. Her vacation expectations had bottomed out over four weeks ago after Chad had slammed the door on reconciliation. Was she working through her grief or avoiding the reality of a husband who no longer wanted her?

She waited to board the flight in a designated line at the gate. The hum of voices blended with airport beeps, and announcements swirled around her as though enticing her to join the enthusiasm. In the line beside her, passengers shifted their carry-ons and positioned their mobile devices or paper boarding passes. Ready. Alert. People eager to be on their way.

Heather offered a smile to those nearest her. An adorable little blond boy with an older woman found it hard to stand still. A middle-aged couple held hands. The bald head and pasty skin of the man indicated a medical condition. He stumbled, and the woman reached for him. A robust man held a violin case next to his heart. A twentysomething woman with pink hair and a man behind her with a scruffy beard exchanged a kiss.

Chad used to steal kisses.

If she pinpointed the exact moment when he chose to separate himself from her, she’d say when he returned from a third trip for Doctors Without Borders late last fall. He’d witnessed suffering and cruel deaths that had scarred him. She’d encouraged his desire to help others, not realizing their future would take a backseat. While he drove toward success, their marriage drifted across the lanes and stalled in a rut.

The boarding line moved toward the Jetway. Each step shook her to the core as though she should turn and try to reverse the past seven months. She’d ignored her and Chad’s deteriorating relationship in an effort to make him happy. A huge mistake. But she didn’t intend to add the labels beaten or weak to her dossier.

A cell phone sounded, and a man boarding in front of her stopped to answer it. His shoulders stiffened under a tan sports coat, and he talked in hushed tones. Heather dug her fingers into her palms and forced one foot in front of the other while the man pocketed his cell phone and proceeded into business class.

A flight attendant greeted her, a dark-haired young man wearing a wide smile, relaxed and genuine, an obvious sign he enjoyed his job. She returned the gesture. His black jacket with two rows of silver braid on the sleeves and black trousers were magazine perfect.

Heather walked to a rear aisle seat in business class and hoisted her tote bag into the overhead compartment. Although it held essentials for every emergency in case her luggage was delayed, the bulging piece weighed less than the burden on her heart.

Easing onto her seat, Heather pulled the brochure from her shoulder bag describing Salzburg’s music festival, a celebration of musicians past and present. First a layover in Frankfurt and then on to her destination. She’d rented an apartment for ten days within walking distance of the historical center. The flexibility allowed her to choose her itinerary and cook or dine out. From the online photos, the centuries-old building had just enough updates to be comfortable without damaging its historic charm. She’d have hours to explore Mozart’s roots, museums, the many churches, immerse herself in the culture, and think.

A female passenger, sporting red spiked hair and chin-length hooped earrings, stopped beside her. The woman carried a Venti Starbucks. “Excuse me.” Her German accent a reminder of the destination. “Would you mind holding my coffee while I store my carry-on?”

“Of course.” Heather held the cup while the woman shoved her small suitcase into the overhead bin.

“Sorry for the inconvenience. I wasn’t thinking when I bought the coffee.”

“It smells heavenly.” Heather stood to let the woman pass and then handed her the cup.

“Thank you.” The woman blew on the lid and took a sip. “I’m Mia.”

“I’m Heather.”

“Long flight ahead but soon I’ll be home.” She pointed to Heather’s brochure. “Salzburg?”

“Yes. For a much-needed vacation.”

“I’m from Frankfurt. Really missing my daughter and husband.”

“You’ll see them soon.”

Mia broke into a wide smile. “We’ve done FaceTime and texted, but I want to touch their faces and hug them.”

Heather continued to read the Salzburg brochure to avoid any personal comments from Mia, like whether she was taking a vacation solo. An elderly man wearing a straw fedora and a white mustache sat in the aisle seat across from Heather. He pulled his phone from his pant pocket and used his thumbs on the keyboard like a kid.

Mia placed her coffee on the tray and made a phone call. “Wie geht es meinem kleinen M├Ądchen?”

Heather translated the German. How is my little girl? The woman’s excitement resonated through every word. Love. Laughter. Priceless commodities that Heather didn’t possess. Yet this trip offered an opportunity to rekindle her faith in God and chart a course for the future.

While the attendants made their way through business class with drink orders, Heather longed to have confirmation she’d made the right decision to take this trip. No one knew of her vacation plans except her parents and Assistant Special Agent in Charge Wade Mitchell in Houston. No one needed to know the why of her trip until she made a few decisions.

Stuffing the Salzburg brochure into her bag, she snatched the aircraft’s information and confirmed the layout for 267 passengers, restrooms, exit doors, in-seat power, on-demand entertainment, and three galleys. She always noted the details of her surroundings, another habit of working so many FBI cases. Always be prepared for the unexpected.

If the trip had been FBI sanctioned, her present circumstances might not hurt so much. How ironic she worked the critical incident response group as a behavior analyst, and she wrestled to understand her own life.

Right on time, the flight attendants took their assigned posts while miniature screens throughout the plane shared the aircraft’s amenities and explained the passenger safety instructions. The captain welcomed them moments before the plane lifted into the clouds.

On her way. No turning back. She prayed for a safe journey and much-needed answers.

Food smells from business class caught her attention, a mix of roasted chicken and beef. Too often of late, she forgot to eat or nothing appealed to her. To shake off the growing negativity, she paid for Wi-Fi and grabbed her phone from her bag. Time to concentrate on something other than herself.

She glanced at the incoming notifications. No texts. Her emails were an anticipated list of senders when she longed for a change of heart from Chad. Sighing, she closed her eyes. Between her job, Chad, and stress, too often she fought for enough pillow time.

Two hours later, she woke from a deep sleep to the sound of a woman’s scream.

Chapter 2

Heather whirled toward the ear-piercing cry behind her. She released her seat belt and rushed back to the economy section. The overhead lights snapped on to reveal the middle-aged couple whom she’d seen at the gate. The panic-stricken woman beside him held a tissue to his nose. Blood dripped beneath her fingers and down her wrist.

Not a muscle moved on the man’s face, and his eyes rolled back into their sockets. Heather approached him in the aisle seat. Before she could speak, the woman gasped, a mix of sobs and a struggle for composure. “Help me. I can’t stop the bleeding.”

Heather used tissues from the woman’s lap to help block the blood flow. “Try to stay calm.”

The woman nodded. “I shouldn’t have let him talk me into this trip. He’s been so weak.”

From the front of the plane, the male flight attendant who’d greeted passengers earlier rushed their way. He carried two kits, one labeled first aid and the other biohazard. A female attendant trailed after him.

“Help is here,” Heather said to the woman. She moved aside for the attendant to administer aid. She prayed the ill man was undergoing a minor problem—an easily resolved issue—and for the woman’s comfort. But his lifeless face showed a grim reality.

“Sir, how do you feel?” Not a sound or movement came from the man. Blood flowed from Heather’s mass of tissues.

The male attendant twisted off the seal of the biohazard kit and searched inside. He drew out a pair of nitrile gloves and wiggled them on. The female attendant opened the first aid kit, ripped into a gauze package, and handed it to the male attendant, who applied it to the man’s nose. She opened the biohazard waste bag to dispose of the soiled materials.

The male attendant captured the woman’s attention. “Ma’am, I’m Nathan. Is this your husband?”

“Yes. He’s very hot.”

Nathan touched the man’s forehead. “How long has he been feverish?”

“He was fine when we boarded. Perhaps over an hour into the flight?” Her sobs subsided to soft cries. “Do something. Blood’s coming from his mouth.”

Heather touched her shoulder with a clean hand. “Take a deep breath.”

“How can I? Roy’s not breathing.”

“That’s his name?” His gentle voice ushered in compassion.

“Yes. I’m Catherine.”

He bent to speak to Roy. “I’m Nathan. Give me a few minutes to administer first aid.” He replaced the gauze on Roy’s nose for the second time and turned to the female flight attendant, who’d paled but didn’t tremble. “Leave the kits. Call the flight deck and tell them what’s happening.”

She rushed to the front of the cabin.

“This is my fault.” Catherine held Roy’s hand. “He finished chemo and radiation for lung cancer, but his doctor hadn’t cleared him for the trip.”

“Catherine,” Nathan said, “I know you’re worried, but try to stay calm. Has he experienced these symptoms before?”

“No.”

A voice spoke over the interphone. “If a licensed medical professional is on board, we have a medical issue. All other passengers, please remain in your seats.”

Within moments, a lean man arrived from the right side of business class carrying a leather case. “I’m a doctor.” Heather stepped back while he examined Roy and spoke to Nathan.

While the doctor stood over Roy with his back to Heather, Nathan turned to her. “We’ve got this handled. Please return—”

“No, please. Let her stay,” Catherine said. “If she doesn’t mind.”

Nathan frowned. “Okay, for the moment. Our manual states we have to keep the aisle clear around the patient.”

“I understand,” Heather said. “I’d be happy to sit with her, and I’m Heather.”

“Miss, if the pilots call our med service on the ground, I’ll need you out of way so we can relay instructions.”

The doctor and Nathan lowered Roy to the aisle and treated him. They blocked Heather’s view of the procedure, but the doctor rummaged for something inside the leather case. For the next ten minutes, she waited for the doctor to reassure passengers of the man’s recovery.

Catherine’s hysteria spun in a cloud of uncertainty that left unchecked often spread panic. She unfastened her seat belt and rose on unstable legs. “Please, tell me my husband is all right.” The female attendant gently urged her back onto the seat.

The doctor eased up from Roy and spoke reassuring words to Catherine. He peeled off his blood-covered gloves and tossed them into the bag. Had Roy succumbed to the lung cancer or a complication?

Nathan walked to a galley area. “Ladies and gentlemen, I am Nathan Howard, your lead flight attendant on board your flight today. We appreciate your concern for the man receiving medical attention. We will transport him to the rear of the cabin, where he’ll be comfortable. A doctor is tending to him, and the medical concern is under control. Thank you.”

Heather supported the airline’s protocol designed to keep everyone from alarm and terror while the crew addressed issues. Yet a few people craned their necks to watch the scene as though it was a morbid form of entertainment more interesting than the recycled movies on the screens in front of them.

Nathan returned to Catherine. “I know you’d like for the young woman to sit with you, but it would be easier for the flight crew and safer for her if we placed an attendant here. Can we do that?”

“I guess.” Catherine’s lips quivered.

Heather bent to speak. “I’m not far.” She understood how Catherine had latched on to her, a stranger, for moral support.

Nathan and the doctor picked Roy up and carried him to the rear. Roy was either unconscious or dead.

The female flight attendant sat in Roy’s seat and held Catherine’s hand. “I’ll stay with you for as long as you like.”

“Can I join my husband?”

“When the doctor is finished, I’ll escort you back.”

Heather returned to her seat—her mind weighed with concern.

“Gott hab Erbarmen,” Mia said.

“Yes, God have mercy.”

“You speak German?”

“A little. Spent a year in Frankfurt when I was in college.”

“The sound of it makes me long for home.” She hesitated. “What’s wrong with the man?”

“His wife said he’d recently completed chemo treatments for lung cancer. I’m sure the doctor is doing all he can. The airline has doctors on the ground, and they’ll consult with the doctor on board. Between them, they’ll figure out what’s best.”

“Do you work for the airlines?”

“No.” Heather smiled. “I’m with the Department of Justice.”

Mia rubbed her palms together. She’d already stated her desire to see her family. “Will the flight be diverted?”

“It depends on lots of factors. The man may just require rest.” Heather wasn’t going to state the excessive blood from Roy’s mouth and nose pointed to his death. By now the doctors at Medi-Pro-Aire, an advisory service for airlines, had been contacted and put in communication with the pilot.

“I read the airline’s cost to emergency divert range from $10,000 to upwards of $200,000,” Mia said.

“I don’t doubt the cost, but with this airline, the safety and welfare of the passengers always come first. They don’t blink at the cost of diversion. It’s on management’s mind post-action.”

“Can the pilots be called to the carpet for making a safety decision?”

“I’m sure their procedure is in place to protect the passengers.” Heather forced comfort into her voice. “We’ll be okay.”

Muffled voices around her prompted alarm.

A man shouted for help. “My wife has a terrible headache.”

A man in business class vomited.

“My son has a fever,” a woman said.

“Please, the man beside me has a nosebleed, and he can’t stop it.”

“What is going on?” Mia whispered. “All these people are suddenly sick. Frighteningly sick.”

Heather wished she had answers while horror played out around her.

“I’m afraid.” Mia’s face turned ashen.

“We have to stay calm.” Heather craved to heed her own advice.

Throughout the plane, people complained of flu-like symptoms. Another person vomited. Heather touched her stomach. A twinge of apprehension crept through her.

Nathan spoke over the interphone. “If you are experiencing physical distress, press your call button. Flight attendants will be in your area soon with damp paper towels. Use these to cover your mouth and the tops of beverages. As always, remain in your seats.”

Heather messaged ASAC Mitchell in Houston with the medical emergency report, including the symptoms.

He responded. The FBI, TSA, CDC, and Medi-Pro-Aire are on it. Are you okay?

Yes. People’s symptoms indicate a serious virus.

The doctor on board has given a similar conclusion.

She trembled as she typed. Looks similar to what Chad described in Africa.

The doctor said the same. Is the man dead?

I think so.

How many others are sick?

Heather surveyed the passengers within her sight and typed. From my seat, I see around ten in business class, and I hear the sick in economy. Will the plane divert?

No decision yet. Keep me posted. You are our eyes.

Beyond what the doctor on board relayed to those on the ground, ASAC Mitchell must believe she held the voice of reason and objectivity. The irony of their interpretation. The viruses were usually zoonotic or caused by insects, and the symptoms created intense suffering. She blinked to clear her head and not ponder the worst.

With panic gripping her in a stranglehold, she imagined what others were feeling. A man questioned why the plane hadn’t landed. A woman bolted to the galley and held her mouth. The man who held the violin marched to the business class restroom but fell face-first and vomited.

The elderly man across the aisle from her coughed. His nose trickled blood.

Heather grabbed tissues from her bag and handed them to him. “Will this help?”

“Tell me this is a nightmare.” He gripped her arm—fiery hot.

***

Excerpt from Airborne by DiAnn Mills. Copyright 2020 by DiAnn Mills. Reproduced with permission from DiAnn Mills. All rights reserved.

 

 

Author Bio:

DiAnn Mills

DiAnn Mills is a bestselling author who believes her readers should expect an adventure. She is a storyteller and creates action-packed, suspense-filled novels to thrill readers. Her titles have appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists; won two Christy Awards; and been finalists for the RITA, Daphne Du Maurier, Inspirational Readers’ Choice, and Carol award contests.
DiAnn is a founding board member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and International Thriller Writers. She is the director of the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference, Mountainside Retreats: Marketing, Speakers, Nonfiction, and Novelist with social media specialist Edie Melson where she continues her passion of helping other writers be successful. She speaks to various groups and teaches writing workshops around the country.

Connect with DiAnn On:
DiAnnMills.com, Goodreads, BookBub, Instagram, Twitter, & Facebook!

 

 

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Saturday, September 12, 2020

Release Day Blitz: Along Came a Spyder by Apeksha Rao

 


About the Book:

At 17, Samira Joshi has only one dream in life.

She wants to be a spy. And why not?

Spying runs in the Joshi genes. Her great-grandmother was famous for sticking her nose in everyone’s business. Her grandmother had a flourishing side-business of tracking down errant husbands and missing servants. Her parents are elite intelligence agents for RAW. Yet, they want their only daughter to become a doctor. When she sees a college friend being trapped by a pimp, Samira does some spying of her own, and discovers the existence of a secret sisterhood of teen spies — The Spyders. And, she wants in!

The question is, do they want her?




Book Links:

Read an Excerpt from Along Came a Spyder


I was being followed. I just didn’t know it. You couldn’t blame me, really. I was only sixteen at the time. For the past year, my parents had rarely been in the same place at the same time, for more than a month. So, when they whisked me off to Dubai for a family holiday, I was so excited that I forgot the basic counter-surveillance measures drilled into me by said parents. Like I said, I was only sixteen.
Yet, I was being followed, and I hadn’t realised it yet. Though I did realise that I needed to pee. I came out of the stall, washed my hands, and decided to fix my unruly hair. As I was pulling all of it up into a high ponytail, a woman came and stood next to me.
“I have something important to tell your parents.”
At first, I thought she was talking on the phone because she was speaking in Arabic, so, I didn’t respond.
“Samira Joshi, I have to talk to your parents, now.”
I turned to the woman, shocked.
“How do you know my name?” I mindlessly responded in Arabic.
“Shh! Keep your voice down, and turn back to the mirror.”
“Who are you and how do you know my name?” I asked softly, facing the mirror.
“That’s not the point. Will you do as I asked?”
 “I won’t do a thing until you tell me your name!” I said, belligerently.
“My name doesn’t mean anything to you. Just do as I ask,” she insisted.
“Take off your veil, then. I want to see your face.”
The woman was heavily veiled, in a niqab that concealed her face.
“No! Just tell your parents that I want to speak to them,” snapped the woman.
“Why should I do that? My parents are not fools, to meet a total stranger. You could be leading them into some sort of trap,” I argued.
The woman leaned towards me, and hissed, “You will do as I say, otherwise your country will be reduced to a pile of rubble! Is that what you want?”
I slowly backed away from her and rushed out of the loo. As I walked to the cafe where I was supposed to meet my parents, I kept looking back, half expecting that woman to follow. I spotted them waiting at a table. Ma was reading a book or pretending to. You could never tell with her.
Baba was people-watching, his watchful eyes taking everything in, down to the last detail. This was his favourite hobby. When I was a kid, dining out was just another lesson in spycraft. I had to observe and memorise everything about the room, from the number of waitstaff to the exits and cameras, as well as the details of all the other diners — how many people at each table, what they were wearing, and their expressions. When I got older, Baba would pick a table and I had to place a listening device at that table without being caught. That’s not as difficult as it sounds. You’d be surprised at what all you can do with a timely twist of the ankle.
I knew that the moment I opened my mouth, that blank, expectant expression would turn into disapproval and disappointment, and my holiday would be ruined. I was not wrong.
“Ma.”
That’s all I needed to say. Ma’s eyes narrowed.
“Samira, you’re breathing hard and your pupils are dilated,” she announced, leaning forward to peer into my eyes, in full spy radar mode.
“What have you been up to?”
There it was, the implication that I was responsible for whatever had happened, like they were used to me messing up all the time. Normally, this was where I would get defensive and I’d lose the argument even before I spoke. Not this time. I took a deep breath and spoke as dispassionately as I could.


About the Author:
Apeksha Rao is a multi genre author from Bangalore.

She is the author of Along Came A Spyder, which is the story of a seventeen year old girl who wants to be spy.

Apeksha has written many short stories based on the same series, The Spyders, which are available on this blog.
She is a voracious reader, and a foodie.

Apeksha's current works in progress: A middle grade book, a chick lit featuring a detective, and a horror novel (the writing of which is giving her sleepless nights).

Apeksha on the Web: