Monday, February 20, 2017

The Mystery of the High-Pressured Sales Pitch

The mystery is why the salesman thinks it's always going to work.


Collin and I have been thinking about joining a gym/workout club/health club, whatever they're actually called these days, for a while now. I used to have a lifetime membership at one--until they went out of business. So call me skeptical. Fitness fads come and go. For a time, everybody seemed to be squeezing in exercise during their busy days of multitasking, with no time to drive to a gym, change, work out, shower, and drive home.

Maybe that's why the one I belonged to went out of business. I don't know.

I wish it were still around. When I was a member, it was a good distance from my home. Now, I live within walking distance of that location. There's a new one in the same plaza, but it lacks all the things I loved about the old one: steam room, sauna, whirlpool, pool. Still, Collin and I thought about joining. We both have arthritis and our doctors recommended exercise. We have equipment at home, but you know how that goes. 

At least we're not using them for clothing racks. Not yet, anyway.

The neighborhood club advertised free seven day passes, so we decided it would be a good time to try it out, see if they could help us, if we could stick with it. I made an appointment for us to get signed up last Friday. We were shown around by a pleasant young man who told us about the equipment and the classes offered. Not only do they not offer all of those wonderful things I miss about my old club, they also don't offer the massages advertised for other locations in the chain. If we wanted just the basics, we can do that at home!

After the tour, instead of giving us the seven-day passes, he pulled out a list of membership options. No matter how many times, I tried to steer him back to the passes, he kept pushing for a commitment--which we were not willing to make without trying out the facilities. Finally, frustrated, we left--and I voiced my opinion of the sales tactics on their Facebook page. I got an apologetic response and an offer of the promised passes, but we had already decided it would be  a waste of time.

I confess, this isn't the first time I'd had the same experience at other locations in this particular chain. Fortunately, I have no problem saying no.


Tuesday, February 7, 2017

What's Better Than Getting Something for Nothing?

Two of my novels are currently free (ebook editions only) at Amazon. If you haven't read them but would like to, now's the time!

Angels at Midnight Complete

From Publishers Weekly
Set primarily in the glamorous art milieus of San Francisco and Manhattan, Beishir's (Dance of the Gods) novel makes exciting stopovers in Monte Carlo, Venezuela, Big Sur and other exotic locales. The pages are rife with sizzling sex, suspense and conflict, expertly paced, as both hero and heroine are motivated to bend the law by a powerful need for revenge. Abby Giannini, who has changed her name to Ashley Gordon, loses custody of her son in a vicious court battle with her deceased husband's parents. Collin Deverell, heir to an oil fortune, trades his share in his late father's company for the rights to his mother's art and jewelry estate. But when his ambitious twin Justin defrauds him of his inheritance, Collin too has a score to settle. Collin and Ashley's joint quest for justice and lusty romance make for compulsive reading.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information Inc.

Amazon review by William Kendall on Aug. 10 2016

Format: Kindle Edition
The author published the book during her days with Berkley, and gives us two very sympathetic protagonists we can immediately connect with in an intricately plotted, well paced novel that explores themes of love, family, loss, revenge, and how far people will go for their own measure of justice. While our protagonists don't actually meet until halfway through the book, that's a good thing, as we get to follow them along parallel lines for more then a decade, getting to know them, sharing their triumphs and their despair.

Collin Deverell is one of two twin sons, heir to a fortune that his father, an oil tycoon, expects him to take part in. While his brother Justin readily involves himself in the family business, Collin has little wish to tie himself down to an executive life, preferring a carefree life of adventure and his love of fencing. With the sudden death of their parents on a business trip, Collin takes the chance to live life on his own terms, turning over shares in the family company and all responsibility to his brother in exchange for the family mansion, the art collection, and his mother's jewelry. He lives abroad for some years, rarely settling down, living his carefree life, seducing whatever woman crosses his path. When he returns home, he finds that the valuable paintings and jewels have all gone missing, sold off by his devious brother. Collin vows to take back what's rightfully his, even if it means breaking the law and going after some very dangerous people to do it.

Ashley Gordon is an artist from the Napa Valley in California who establishes a career for herself in San Francisco. After becoming a success in the art world and on the social circuit, she falls in love with Brandon Hollister. They're happy together, and Brandon wants to marry her, though she's puzzled by his complete estrangement from his parents. When we meet them, it's not hard to understand: Bradley and Claudia Hollister are downright nasty to the core. Ashley and Brandon marry, have a son, Robert and are happy together, until Brandon is killed in a plane crash. In the wake of her grief, Ashley is hit again when her in-laws launch a custody battle for their grandson, using bribery, lies, and their connections to take him away from Ashley. Ashley is, understandably, devastated.

It's into this mix that Ashley and Collin meet. Collin's been busy recovering what was stolen from him by becoming a thief himself, learning the trade from a master who saves his life. What started out for him as a mission to take back what's his becomes something more, as he discovers his father's company has been mismanaged by his brother, and is falling into the hands of a criminal syndicate who are readily dismantling it. The syndicate are made up of the same people who have possession of his property, and what began as thefts to recover property gradually shifts, as Collin realizes he does, in fact, have a responsibility to save the company his father built. And since Bradley Hollister is a member of the syndicate, Collin decides to enlist his former daughter-in-law as a partner to bring down the syndicate, save his family company, and restore Ashley's son to her custody.

It's a wise decision to keep the two from really meeting until mid way through the book. We, the reader, get to see both characters develop fully on their own, so we care about them and what happens to them (Ashley's loss of her husband and her son are particularly painful, which is one of the reasons the book works so well). When Collin and Ashley start working together, we see a growing connection between them, an emotional intimacy that comes across as very real. This is a testament to how human the two characters feel. They have depth, quirks, and flaws. As Ashley learns the tricks of the trade, of sleight of hand and the use of disguise, she and Collin find themselves drawn closer and closer. The bond and growing love between them comes across to the reader as the real thing. We come to root for them to achieve all they're after, and it's because of how well both of them have been written.

In every heist story, to root for the person pulling off the heist, it requires that the target be unsympathetic. Certainly having the target be a criminal syndicate is a very good way of having the reader dislike the target. And the primary targets, Bradley and Claudia Hollister, are more then worthy of our dislike. Both of them, particularly Claudia, are cruel and malicious. It's not hard to understand why their son broke ties with them, and as readers, we want to see them brought down, broken, and defeated.

Justin Deverell is another interesting character in the book. Early on it felt like he'd be the primary antagonist of the book, but as things go on, it's made clear that he's the dupe, the tool for the syndicate to dismantle the family company after they're done using it. I enjoyed the premise Norma used that Collin and Justin aren't the kind of twins we're used to in fiction... they have nothing in common but blood, barely speak for years, and ultimately are so far apart that it's doubtful they'll ever bridge that gap. There's no closer then blood mental connection sort of bond between these two twins, and it's a refreshing change.

There is a wild card sort of character I thought I'd make mention of. Anton DeVries, an insurance investigator, lurks in the background of the story. He first comes into the picture after Collin discovers the theft of his possessions. Through the rest of the book, he suspects Collin, looks for proof, and takes part in a pivotal moment towards the climax. He's an interesting character, something of a bloodhound, or a Javert to Collin's Valjean. DeVries is a good adversary, conflicted by catching a man who he knows to be morally right.

The attention to detail throughout the book is spot on, and perhaps never as much as during the various thefts that take place in the book. From training sequences in which both Collin and Ashley learn how to become thieves to the heists themselves, each act feels intricate, and brings a lot of variety to the table. An escape from a time lock safe and a judicious use of a mirror stand out particularly for me during the theft sequences. And the attention to detail also reflects itself in the early sequences featuring fencing and the artistic process.

Angels At Midnight is a beautifully written book that you'll enjoy reading. The plot and pacing of the novel keeps the reader on the edge. The details drawn out in the book about technique, places, and situations give it a very real world sensibility. And the characters really make the novel. Collin and Ashley are a winning couple that we can't help but sympathize with, to root for, and to cheer.

And who knows? Perhaps Robert has siblings... and all of them have grown up to take after Ashley and Collin's habit of breaking into high security vaults....

Final Hours cover - new
 
Amazon review by Mark R. Hunter on November 14, 2013

Final Hours fooled me: Despite the title, it isn’t really about the giant asteroid that’s about to wipe out human civilization. On the contrary, if there was ever a story that’s all about the journey, it’s this one.

Jamie Randall has to make a decision in the hours leading up to the apocalypse: Retreat to a secretly built bunker, where he might survive to continue his loveless marriage, or seek out the woman he’s loved for the last fourteen years and die with her? We soon know his decision – the story is about why he made it, and as we wait to know his fate the story flashes back to the events that led him there.

It turns out Jamie is – let’s face it – a jerk, although as we learn more about his history we get to know why. He married his wife to get ahead, to get revenge over those who once had power over him. The events that keep him in the marriage are believable, if tragic.

He’s rescued in every way when Kate appears, quite literally saving his life. The rest of the book is a love story, as Jamie woos Kate but is stymied again and again in his attempts to make her more than “the other woman”.

The truth is, Jamie probably doesn’t deserve either of the women at first, and by the time he starts trying to do the right thing he’s dug himself into a hole deeper than the one the asteroid’s going to make. Kate is practically a saint, while Jamie’s wife is trapped just as much as he is, and I kept rooting for a way for them to all get away happy.

That says something about the story – that we want to know how it all comes out, even though we already know it from the very beginning.


on July 14, 2009

Final Hours is a good book to spend an afternoon curled up with. The story follows a man named Jamie, who has heard that the end of the world is coming, and because his wife is the daughter of a senator, he and his family are secured a spot in a safehouse, where they will be most likely to survive. But Jamie does not want to go. Instead, he realizes that he must face up to his mistakes and do the one thing he's been wanting to do for the last fifteen years: spend his final hours with the woman he loves.

Forced to choose between his own happiness and the happiness of those he cares about, Jamie spends most of the book torn between the woman he loves and the woman he needs. His wife, the mother of his sons, was able to give Jamie everything he thought he wanted out of life, but when a free-spirited photographer named Kate saves his life, he begins to realize that maybe his priorities were wrong all along, and it's time to start living the way he now knows he needs to.

Despite some bad choices all of the characters make, they really are what makes the story golden. Everyone makes bad choices, and these characters are all willing to face up to their mistakes, which makes them all the more admirable. They're doing what they think is right in the current situation, and that's really what sets them apart. The story really makes you think about life and love, and what it really means to be alive. And most importantly, when everything is stripped away, what truly is important enough for us to spend our final hours doing?
 
 

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

And Now For Something Different....

It's a cover reveal!

My friend/fellow author/blogger, Hilary Grossman, has a new book being published soon. Hilary's a wonderful author, and her newest, Plan Cee, is a sequel to Plan Bea. (She's also doing a giveaway--a $10 Dunkin Donuts gift card! I've never done Rafflecopter before, so check it out at her Facebook page (listed below)....









Plan Cee:

Would you abandon your present for a second chance at your past?

Cecelia Reynolds has spent most of her life trying to forget the commitment-phobic man who broke her heart. It wasn’t easy, but eventually she did it, or so she thought…

As Cecelia and her husband gather for a friend’s wedding, her perfect world is thrown into complete turmoil. Even though it’s been twenty years since she last laid eyes on Keith Emerson, all it takes is one glance for her to feel emotions she thought were long gone. When Keith ends up officiating the ceremony, she quickly realizes his message of love is directed at her, not the happy couple. But can she believe him?

We live our entire lives thinking we know ourselves. But do we ever really?

As secrets and lies cause Cecelia’s world to spin completely out of control, she is forced to seek advice from the most unlikely ally. In the process, she must confront the demons of her past and the events that shaped her into the woman she is now. Will she finally learn the real meaning of love, friendship, and family?

While this book is a sequel to Plan Bea, it also reads as a standalone.
 
 
About the author: 

By day, Hilary Grossman works in the booze biz. By night she hangs out with her "characters." She has an unhealthy addiction to denim and high heel shoes. She's been known to walk into walls and fall up stairs. She only eats spicy foods and is obsessed with her cat, Lucy. She loves to find humor in everyday life. She likens life to a game of dodge ball - she tries to keep many balls in the air before they smack her in the face. She lives on Long Island.