Tuesday, October 13, 2015

THE DROWNING GAME by LS Hawker Excerpt, Book Sale & Interview

Genre: Thriller/Suspense
Release Date: September 22, 2015


They said she was armed.
They said she was dangerous.
They were right.
Petty Moshen spent eighteen years of her life as a prisoner in her own home, training with military precision for everything, ready for anything. She can disarm, dismember, and kill—and now, for the first time ever, she is free.
Her paranoid father is dead, his extreme dominance and rules a thing of the past, but his influence remains as strong as ever. When his final will reveals a future more terrible than her captive past, Petty knows she must escape—by whatever means necessary.
But when Petty learns the truth behind her father's madness—and her own family—the reality is worse than anything she could have imagined. On the road and in over her head, Petty's fight for her life has just begun.
Fans of female-powered thrillers will love debut author LS Hawker and her suspenseful tale of a young woman on the run for her future…and from the nightmares of her past.

COME CELEBRATE WITH LS HAWKER AT HER RELEASE PARTY https://www.facebook.com/events/856594864448466/

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Sirens and the scent of strange men drove Sarx and Tesla into a frenzy of barking and pacing as they tried to keep the intruders off our property without the aid of a fence. Two police cars, a fire truck, and an ambulance were parked on the other side of the dirt road. The huddled cops and firemen kept looking at the house.

Dad’s iPhone rang and went on ringing. I couldn’t make myself answer it. I knew it was the cops outside calling to get me to open the front door, but asking me to allow a group of strangers inside seemed like asking a pig to fly a jet. I had no training or experience to guide me. I longed to get the AK-47 out of the basement gun safe, even though it would be me against a half-dozen trained law men.

“Petty Moshen.” An electric megaphone amplified the man’s voice outside.

The dogs howled at the sound of it, intensifying further the tremor that possessed my entire body. I hadn’t shaken like this since the night Dad left me out on the prairie in a whiteout blizzard to hone my sense of direction.

“Petty, call off the dogs.”

I couldn’t do it.

“I’m going to dial up your father’s cell phone again, and I want you to answer it.”

Closing my eyes, I concentrated, imagining those words coming out of my dad’s mouth, in his voice. The iPhone vibrated. I pretended it was my dad, picked it up, hit the answer button and pressed it to my ear.

“This is Sheriff Bloch,” said the man on the other end of the phone. “We have to come in and talk to you about your dad.”

I cleared my throat again. “I need to do something first,” I said, and thumbed the end button. I headed down to the basement.

Downstairs, I got on the treadmill, cranked up the speed to ten miles an hour and ran for five minutes, flat-out, balls to the wall. This is what Detective Deirdre Walsh, my favorite character on TV’s Offender NYC, always did when emotions overwhelmed her. No one besides me and my dad had ever come into our house before, so I needed to steady myself.  

I jumped off and took the stairs two at a time, breathing hard, sweating, my legs burning, but steadier. I popped a stick of peppermint gum in my mouth. Then I walked straight to the front door the way Detective Walsh would—fearlessly, in charge, all business. I flung the door open and shouted, “Sarx! Tesla! Off! Come!”

They both immediately glanced over their shoulders and came loping toward me. I noticed another vehicle had joined the gauntlet on the other side of the road, a brand-new tricked-out red Dodge Ram 4x4 pickup truck. Randy King, wearing a buff-colored Stetson, plaid shirt, Lee’s, and cowboy boots, leaned against it. All I could see of his face was a black walrus mustache. He was the man my dad had instructed me to call if anything ever happened to him. I’d seen Randy only a couple of times but never actually talked to him until today.

The dogs sat in front of me, panting, worried, whimpering. I reached down and scratched their ears, thankful that Dad had trained them like he had. I straightened and led them to the one-car garage attached to the left side of the house. They sat again as I raised the door and signaled them inside. They did not like this one bit—they whined and jittered—but they obeyed my command to stay. I lowered the door and turned to face the invasion.

As if I’d disabled an invisible force field, all the men came forward at once: the paramedics and firemen carrying their gear boxes, the cops’ hands hovering over their sidearms. I couldn’t look any of them in the eye, but I felt them staring at me as if I were an exotic zoo animal or a serial killer.

The man who had to be the sheriff walked right up to me, and I stepped back palming the blade I keep clipped to my bra at all times. I knew it was unwise to reach into my hoodie, even just to touch the Baby Glock in my shoulder holster.

“Petty?” he said.

“Yes sir,” I said, keeping my eyes on the clump of yellow, poisonous prairie ragwort at my feet.

“I’m Sheriff Bloch. Would you show us in, please?”

“Yes sir,” I said, turning and walking up the front steps. I pushed open the screen and went in, standing aside to let in the phalanx of strange men. My breathing got shallow and the shaking started up. My heart beat so hard I could feel it in my face, and the bump on my left shoulder—scar tissue from a childhood injury—itched like crazy. It always did when I was nervous.

The EMTs came in after the sheriff.

“Where is he?” one of them asked. I pointed behind me to the right, up the stairs. They trooped up there carrying their cases. The house felt too tight, as if there wasn’t enough air for all these people.

Sheriff Bloch and a deputy walked into the living room. Both of them turned, looking around the room, empty except for the grandfather clock in the corner. The old thing had quit working many years before, so it was always three-seventeen in this house.

“Are you moving out?” the deputy asked.

“No,” I said, and then realized why he’d asked. All of our furniture is crowded in the center of each room, away from the windows.

Deputy and sheriff glanced at each other. The deputy walked to one of the front windows and peered out through the bars.

“Is that bulletproof glass?” he asked me.

“Yes sir.”

They glanced at each other again.

“Have anyplace we can sit?” Sheriff Bloch said.

I walked into our TV room, the house’s original dining room, and they followed. I sat on the couch, which gave off dust and a minor-chord spring squeak. I pulled my feet up and hugged my knees.

“This is Deputy Hencke.”

The deputy held out his hand toward me. I didn’t take it, and after a beat he let it drop.

“I’m very sorry for your loss,” he said. He had a blond crew cut and the dark blue uniform.

He went to sit on Dad’s recliner, and it happened in slow motion, like watching a knife sink into my stomach with no way to stop it.

“No!” I shouted.

Nobody but Dad had ever sat in that chair. It was one thing to let these people inside the house. It was another to allow them to do whatever they wanted.

He looked around and then at me, his face a mask of confusion. “What? I’m—I was just going to sit—”

“Get a chair out of the kitchen,” Sheriff Bloch said.

The deputy pulled one of the aqua vinyl chairs into the TV room. His hands shook as he tried to write on his little report pad. He must have been as rattled by my outburst as I was.

“Spell your last name for me?”

“M-O-S-H-E-N,” I said.

“Born here?”

“No,” I said. “We’re from Detroit originally.”

His face scrunched and he glanced up.

“How’d you end up here? You got family in the area?”

I shook my head. I didn’t tell him Dad had moved us to Saw Pole, Kansas, because he said he’d always wanted to be a farmer. In Saw Pole, he farmed a sticker patch and raised horse flies but not much else.

“How old are you?”


He lowered his pencil. “Did you go to school in Niobe? I don’t ever remember seeing you.”

“Dad homeschooled me,” I said.

“What time did you discover the—your dad?” The deputy’s scalp grew pinker. He needed to 
grow his hair out some to hide his tell a little better.


LS HAWKER grew up in suburban Denver, indulging her worrisome obsession with true-crime books, and writing stories about anthropomorphic fruit and juvenile delinquents. She wrote her first novel at 14.
Armed with a B.S. in journalism from the University of Kansas, she had a radio show called “People Are So Stupid,” edited a trade magazine and worked as a traveling Kmart portrait photographer, but never lost her passion for fiction writing.

She’s got a hilarious, supportive husband, two brilliant daughters and a massive music collection. She lives in Colorado but considers Kansas her spiritual homeland. Visit her website at LSHawker.com. 

1.  When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
When I was eight years old, I wanted a pet snake, and my parents did not. I wrote a story in which I caught a snake, brought it home, and named it Horace P. Sweet (after the bus-line president in Dr. Seuss’s I Had Troubles in Getting to Solla Sollew). In this story, not only did I get the pet snake I longed for, but I was also older, wore cool clothes, and everyone admired my awesomeness. In other words, I had discovered the secret to true magic: I could do and be anything I wanted in fiction—live the life I wanted to lead, meet elves and fairies, drive a car. Plus, in my fiction, I was always better looking and cooler.
2.  How long does it take you to write a book?
Typically, it takes me three months to write a first draft. Revising and editing time varies. Since I got my book contract with HarperCollins, they’re giving me six months total for each of them!
3.  What is your work schedule like when you're writing?
I have to get up at 5:30 every weekday morning to get my youngest daughter off to school, so when she leaves at 6:15, I go down to my office and get to work.
4.  What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I have a couple of them. One is that every time I finish a manuscript, when I type THE END, I cry my head off, just blubber like a big ol' baby. Another is that I always put together a song playlist for each of my novels, and post them on my website and 8tracks.com.
5.  How do books get published?
Mine happened like this: On Super Bowl Sunday 2015, I signed with my agent, Michelle Johnson. By mid-March, she had gotten me a three-book deal with one of the largest publishers in the world. Within six months, it was available for sale. Traditionally, it takes much longer.
6.  Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?
I listen to a lot of podcasts and radio programs that deal with real-life stories. Then I take elements from several of these true stories, toss them into a blender, and fictionalize the crap out of them. Plus I always throw in some of my own true-life experiences, which are a little on the, um, strange side.
7.  When did you write your first book and how old were you?
I was 14 years old. It was called The Last Run, and it was about a bunch of kids who went on a ski bus every Saturday and rumbled with a rival gang of kids. I wrote it long hand in a pink Minnie Mouse notebook. It was terrible, but it was the second level of that magic I talked about earlier. I could conjure up a world that didn't actually exist, and not everyone can do that.
8.  What do you like to do when you're not writing?
I like playing with technology (I was a web designer before I started writing full-time) and discovering new TV shows to binge-watch (just finished Archer). Reading is high on my priority list, of course, as are movies. I'm also a huge music geek with a song collection in the six figures, and I keep trying to play electric guitar. I'm also planning to take up painting again.
9.  What does your family think of your writing?
They are just as excited as I am about it—and both of my daughters are writers as well. My husband is a whiz at helping me fill plot holes and come up with plot twists.
10.             What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
That they never go where you think they’re going to go. I always start out with an idea, with the end in mind, but my characters develop minds of their own and just do whatever they want.
11.             How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?
I’ve written five completed novels and four uncompleted ones. My favorite is always the one I’m currently working on, which is nice.
12.             Do you have any suggestions to help me become a better writer? If so, what are they?
Learn how to take criticism. Over the years, I’ve met many writers at conferences, and I’m always astounded by the ones who just won’t listen to agents and editors about what works and what doesn’t. Some writers have this weird, self-destructive arrogance that prevents them from growing and adapting to the industry, and then they spend all their time complaining about how unfair the publishing world is. DON’T BE THAT GUY/GAL. Also, recognize that talent is not enough. Always be working on your craft, always be improving and striving.
13.             Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
Since my debut novel came out very recently (SQUEEEEE!), I’m just starting to, which is so much fun. I had one blogger send me a list of actors she’d like to see play my characters in a film. I get a lot of “You made me stay up all night reading your book!” which is very gratifying!
14.             Do you like to create books for adults?
Yes, although I’ve written a YA novel which almost got published, and co-authored two children’s books, Follow That Germ and Follow That Food.
15.             What do you think makes a good story?
Believable, relatable characters, and surprises. I was reading a book recently where within the first chapter I knew what the "twist" would be at the end. I don't like predictability. I love to be surprised and astounded.
As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
I’m one of those freaks who knew from grade school what I wanted to be, and never wanted to be anything else but a writer. Okay, that's not quite true. I secretly wanted to be the lead guitarist of a rock band. And a linebacker in the NFL.
16.             What Would you like my readers to know?

I’d like them to know that I’d love to hear from them, and that I'm much taller in person.

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Since he'd died on his stomach, the EMTs had turned Dad onto his back. He was in full rigor mortis, so his upper lip was mashed into his gums and curled into a sneer, exposing his khaki-colored teeth. His hands were spread in front of his face, palms out. Dad's eyes stared up and to the left and his entire face was grape-pop purple.
What struck me when I first saw him—after I inhaled my gum—was that he appeared to be warding off a demon. I should have waited until the mortician was done with him, because I knew I'd never get that image out of my mind.
I walked out of Dad's room on unsteady feet, determined not to cry in front of these strangers. The deputy and the sheriff stood outside my bedroom, examining the door to it. Both of them looked confused.
"Petty," Sheriff Bloch said.                             
I stopped in the hall, feeling even more violated with them so close to my personal items and underwear.
"Is this your bedroom?"
I nodded.
Sheriff and deputy made eye contact. The coroner paused at the top of the stairs to listen in. This was what my dad had always talked about—the judgment of busybody outsiders, their belief that somehow they needed to have a say in the lives of people they'd never even met and knew nothing about.
The three men seemed to expect me to say something, but I was tired of talking. Since I'd never done much of it, I'd had no idea how exhausting it was.
The deputy said, "Why are there six deadbolts on the outside of your door?"
It was none of his business, but I had nothing to be ashamed of.
"So Dad could lock me in, of course."

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