Friday, October 19, 2012

Spotlight & Giveaway: Excerpt from Touched by A.J. Aalto

Blurb -  

The media has a nickname for Marnie Baranuik, though she’d rather they didn’t; they call her the Great White Shark, a rare dual-talented forensic psychic. Twice-Touched by the Blue Sense--which gives her the ability to feel the emotions of others, and read impressions left behind on objects--Marnie also has a doctorate in preternatural biology and a working knowledge of the dark arts. She is considered without peer in the psychic community. 

Then her first big FBI case ended with a bullet in one shoulder and a chip on the other, a queasy heart and a serial killer in the wind, leaving her a public flop and a private wreck. When the FBI’s preternatural crimes unit tracks her down at a remote mountain lodge for her insight on a local case, her quiet retirement is promptly besieged by a stab-happy starlet, a rampaging ghoul, and a vampire-hunting jackass in tight Wranglers. Marnie figures the only real mystery is which one will kill her first. 

Too mean to die young, backed up by friends in cold places, and running with a mouth as demure as a cannon’s blast, Marnie Baranuik is about to discover that there’s no such thing as quitting time when you’re Touched.

The sheriff of Lambert County had once been a Denver detective working homicide, and it showed in the shrewd tilt of his gaze. He moved like a blank-faced panther across the hospital room, sinuous and agile, oddly predatory for one of the good guys. If I hadn’t checked his pupils for a primal hint of flash I’d have thought him a lycanthrope in human form, but he was one hundred percent man; werekin can’t hide the gleam of lycanthropy.
The cop had perfect posture, loose at the joints, a confident bearing that warned other males his body was well-tuned, a trained weapon he knew how to use. I assumed he did a lot of martial arts in whatever spare time a small town sheriff might be afforded. He was young for his office, thirty-five at most, a true red-head, pale skinned with a smattering of freckles, narrow chin on a boy-next-door face, with swampy green eyes that were an interesting blend of sympathetic and skeptical: skeptithetic. If he smiled, I suspected he’d be handsome, though I was pretty sure I wasn’t on his Smile-At list just yet. Probably, he thought I was a troublemaker. Maybe he was right. I sipped ice water through a bendy straw and watched him pull up a stool beside the cranked-up hospital bed.
“Marnie Baranuik,” he began, rolling one shoulder. A shoulder holster creaked under the whisper of his heavy nylon jacket. The zipper was open in case he had to shoot me. Verrrry comforting. “I’m Sheriff Hood. Do you know why I’m here?”
“I’m assuming someone called you about my stabbing,” I said between sips. “Did you happen to see two miserable-looking FBI agents out in the hallway? One nerdy beanpole with classic male pattern baldness, the other with big shoulders and a real jerk face?”
He looked at me thoughtfully for a beat before shaking his head.
“No, ma’am, I didn’t. And yes, I’m here about the incident at the Ten Springs Motor Inn.”
“Incident?” I asked, hearing blame.
“Rodney, the night clerk at the Inn, told me it was a homicide. Bit of a miscommunication.” A brief apologetic smile flickered across his mouth. I was right: Hubba hubba ooh-lala. “I’ve since learned that you have a pulse.”
He scooted the rubber-footed stool closer and propped his boots on the low rungs, letting his knees fall slightly apart. One of those knees started bouncing. He sucked on something minty, which clicked against the inside of his teeth, and I thought, nicotine fit. I’ve seen my share of them. The left cuff of his pants didn’t sit exactly right: ankle holster for a back up gun. I’ve seen my share of those, too.
 “You work for Gold-Drake & Cross out of Portland,” he began. “How come you’re living in my corner of Colorado?”
“I quit. I didn’t want to work with a bunch of weirdoes who actually believe in the supernatural.” Who, plain ole Mundane Me? I tried my winning-est smile. “I’m just a regular gal.”
Hood gave me his cop face, shuttered. The knee-bouncing stilled.  “In 2006, you wrote your dissertation on the comparison of black plague and crypt plague in Venice, 1630-1631, the rise of Yersinia sanguinaria at the lazarettos, and true and false accusations of vampirism. In 2008 you did a series of training seminars for the FBI and various state law enforcement agencies on preternatural crime prevention and revenant mental health crisis management.” His lips hinted at a smile again.  “Revenant?”
My shoulders crept up a notch. “It’s the term they prefer.”
“You mean vampires,” he clarified. “What sort of doctorate do you hold, exactly?”
 I gave my best scowl. “Don’t profile me, sheriff. It’s rude, and I’m sure your mother raised you better.”
“She did,” he said pleasantly, like he had all the time in the world to play games with me. I certainly wasn’t going anywhere, connected to tubes and beeping machinery, and unable to stand up on my own.
“I know damn well what I wrote my dissertation on. How much of my life did you research?”
“Got a hefty file. Looks like I’m in for a night of heavy reading. How about you save me some time,  tell me what’s not in there?”
“You’re not going to write anything down?” I asked. “For your incident report?”
“You haven’t really told me anything yet.” The smile reappeared and I was rewarded this time with a hint of straight white teeth. My brain melted like butter left on a hot stovetop.

About the Author
When not working on her horror novels, you can find her singing old Monty Python songs in the shower, eavesdropping on perfect strangers, stalking her eye doctor, or failing at one of her many fruitless hobbies. Generally a fan of anyone with a passion for the ridiculous, she has a particular weak spot for smug, pseudointellectual assholes and narcissistic jerks; readers will find her work littered with dark, imperfect creatures, flawed monsters and oodles of snark. ***
Check out A.J. at
Coming soon - Death Rejoices, book two of The Marnie Baranuik Files.
Coming October 2013 - Last Impressions, book three of The Marnie Baranuik Files

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  1. oooh - I can't wait to read it! Thanks for posting the blurt and excerpt to whet my appetite!

  2. I love snarky people. I especially love it in books. At first, the book sounded like a book I'm trying so hard to get through, but no- this is ten times better and I would love to sit down and read it.

  3. Wow! I love the easy entries for this giveaway! The book looks amazing and I would love to read it! Thank you so much for this amazing giveaway!! :D (Angie Edwards)

  4. This story sounds so good! I can't wait to read it!

  5. liked the excerpt thanks for the giveaway - regnod(at)yahoo(d0t)com


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