Blog Tour: THE DEVIL’S WORK by Mark Edwards – An Extract

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Today I’m delighted to be hosting a stop on THE DEVIL’S WORK Blog Tour.

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THE DEVIL’S WORK is the latest thriller from the fabulous Mark Edwards. Here’s the blurb: The Devil’s Work follows Sophie Greenwood, a young mother who unwittingly accepts a job at the office from hell! Re-entering the workforce after having her first child, Sophie thinks she’s found her dream job in the marketing department of an iconic children’s publisher. But very quickly Sophie comes to find that someone is out to get her and that the dream job may turn out to be a nightmare. A mouse nailed to her front door… A stranger following her home in the shadows… Unexplainable whispers in the office late at night… As her life begins to fall apart at work and at home, Sophie must confront dark secrets from the past and race to uncover the truth about her new job… before it kills her. What is her ambitious young assistant really up to? And what exactly happened to Sophie’s predecessor?”

And now … THE DEVIL’S WORK by Mark Edwards – an extract:

As soon as the cold air hit her face she realised how drunk she was. Disorientated, Sophie took a wrong turn and ended up walking in a circle before she found the bus stop. As the bus rumbled through Brixton she became sure she was going to throw up so she disembarked. Home was thirty minutes away but the walk should sober her up a little, make the world stop spinning.

As she neared Brockwell Park she became aware of footsteps behind her. She turned but couldn’t see anyone there. Jesus, now she was hearing things. Since Josh – who was still in hospital, recovering slowly – had been attacked she’d felt more wary walking by herself. That must be what was happening now. She was jumpy because of what had happened to Josh. There wasn’t really anyone following her.

She crossed the street so she was close to the shops, where she felt safer. The jolt of adrenaline had sobered her up a little and she no longer felt like she might vomit. Soon, she was turning in to the street where she lived. She paused to rummage through her bag for her keys – and heard footsteps behind her.

Somebody was following her.

She started walking again, quickly, casting a look back over her shoulder. It was a man, featureless in baggy clothes, a hood obscuring his face. At least, she assumed it was a man – it was hard to tell.

The man started to walk faster too.

She found her phone and decided not to call Guy, in case it made the man run at her, so she punched out a short text instead, her fingers shaking, praying Guy would see it immediately.

On our road. Man following me. Come out!

She further increased her pace, scrabbling in her bag for her keys, unable to find them. The man behind her increased his pace too.

She panicked, running towards her flat, abandoning the attempt to find her keys. She would hammer on the door. But what if Guy had already gone to bed? He was probably sulking because she’d stayed out so late. He’d be in bed, Daisy beside him, with his earplugs in. He’d already told her she’d need to sleep on the sofa. Oh, God, the man was jogging behind her, so close, just twenty feet away now. He was going to grab her, pull her into the alleyway, rape her . . .

She reached the door and raised her fist to bang on it.

It opened.

She threw herself inside, a sob breaking in her throat as Guy stepped past her. The man, whose features were still cloaked by darkness, stopped moving.

‘I’ve called the police,’ Guy yelled, going out onto the front step. ‘They’re on their way.’

The man stood still and silent for a moment, then turned and jogged away, back up the road. The darkness swallowed him.

‘Have you really called the police?’ she asked, after Guy closed the door.

‘No. Do you want me to?’

She shook her head. ‘What’s the point? He’ll be long gone by the time they get here.’

 

The next morning, Guy went outside to put the bins out. He came back in almost immediately, looking like he was going to throw up.

‘Those bins smell rancid, don’t they?’ Sophie said.

‘No, it’s not that.’ He rummaged beneath the sink and found the Marigolds and a carrier bag.

‘What are you doing?’

She went to follow him as he headed back outside but he said, ‘Wait there.’

She hesitated, then decided she had to see what it was. She heard a cry of disgust come from Guy, who was by the front door. She reached the doorway and clapped her hand to her mouth.

A large white mouse had been superglued to the front door, its nose pointing to the ground, tail stiff with rigor mortis. Its eyes were closed, front teeth protruding, a look of pain frozen on its face.

 

To find out more about Mark Edwards and his books hop over to his website at http://www.markedwardsauthor.com and follow him on Twitter @mredwards

THE DEVIL’S WORK is out today! Buy it from Amazon here

And be sure to check out all the other great stops on THE DEVIL’S WORK Blog Tour:

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CTG Interviews: Jenny Blackhurst about BEFORE I LET YOU IN

Before I Let You In

Today I’m delighted to be joined by brilliant crime writer and all round fabulous person, Jenny Blackhurst. Jenny’s debut novel – HOW I LOST YOU – was a runaway bestseller, and with her second novel – BEFORE I LET YOU IN – just out as an eBook and coming out in paperback on 3rd November she’s kindly agreed to come into CTG HQ to let me grill her.

Welcome Jenny!

Your fabulous second novel BEFORE I LET YOU IN was published in eBook on the 28th August, can you tell us a little bit about it?

It’s the story of Dr Karen Browning, a psychiatrist who finds that her new patient knows a little more about her and her close knit group of friends than she should. Who is Jessica Hamilton? And what does she want from Karen and her friends? It explores the friendships women have and how they can sometimes be, let’s say less than healthy…

The relationship between Karen and Jessica is a rather complicated one (!) what inspired you to write about these great characters?

A walk to Tesco! I can’t drive so I do a lot of walking with my son who is two now and while he naps in the pushchair I create characters in my head. I loved the idea of a relationship where the normal roles you would expect to see are reversed – Karen is usually very in control – as you see from her relationships with her friends – and so I enjoyed having Jessica take her out of her comfort zone. I guess I saw Jessica as a psychopath and Karen as a control freak and I wanted to put them up against each other to see who came out on top.

Your debut novel, HOW I LOST YOU, was a Number 1 Kindle bestseller, can you tell us how you found the experience of being a debut author?

I’d had nothing to do with the writing world before I got the contract for How I Lost You, I wrote it in kind of a bubble, didn’t know any other authors and didn’t expect anyone to ever read it so going from that kind of isolation to suddenly everyone having an opinion on something you created out of your head is a big thing to take on board. There was a point where I thought ‘I never want to do this again’. Then I got more involved with other authors and my experience completely changed. Crime writers are amazing – it’s like having a huge support network and helped me to enjoy what I was doing and remember what I loved about writing.

And, coming back to BEFORE I LET YOU IN, how did you find the writing process the second time around and can you tell us a bit about how you like to write?

The actual writing process was so much harder – it’s a different ball game when you’re writing for a contract rather than for yourself. With How I Lost You I never had any worries or insecurities – I thought it would stay as a Word document on an old laptop so it didn’t occur to me to worry about what others might think. A second book comes with so much more pressure – more so when people enjoy your debut and say they can’t wait for the next! Saying that I feel like I’ve learnt so much since How I Lost You was published that I really enjoyed putting those things into practice for my second.

I use Scrivener to write now – it’s an amazing tool and now that it integrates with Scapple and Aeon it has everything I need. I plotted Before I Let You In out before I wrote it but it wasn’t until the end that I realised it wasn’t the story I’d set out to write – without giving too much away the real story behind the words shone through in the last few chapters. That was a real epiphany in Tesco café so despite my gruelling plotting I had to rewrite about 50% of the book!

 

Jenny Blackhurst Author Photo

What’s your approach to research – do you research things up front or wait until the story is written and check facts then?

Up front usually – procrastination is my worst habit when I’m writing so if I think something needs checking I’m straight to Amazon to buy the books or Google to look for answers. With my third I’m trying to curb the habit – I’m making use of the notes tool in Scrivener so I can avoid pulling myself out of the writing, and I find myself typing @look this up@ in the manuscript fairly often now.

As a reader (and a writer) what do you love most about the crime fiction genre? 

I love the whydunnit. You can give me any character as your villain but I want to know what drove them to their actions. I think that’s why I lean towards psychological thrillers; procedurals are quite often about the who. Having said that I love a good procedural when the mood takes me.

And what books, aside from your own, would you recommend as must-reads?

There are SO many. This year has been brilliant for books – I’ve particularly loved Lie With Me by Sabine Durrant, The Darkest Secret by Alex Marwood, Willow Walk by Susi Holliday and He Said/She Said by Erin Kelly. Little Black Lies by Sharon Bolton was amazing, I See You by Clare Mackintosh, You Sent Me A Letter by Lucy Dawson and What Goes Around by Julie Corbin. Also I’ve just finished Local Girl Missing by Claire Douglas and that was great. Can I keep going? I could talk about books all day…

Finally, what does the rest of 2016 have in store for you?

I have a book to write! The mysteriously titled Book Three is underway… And more reading of course.

 

Big thanks to Jenny Blackhurst for coming round to CTG HQ and letting me grill her!

BEFORE I LET YOU IN is out in eBook now – buy it here from Amazon

And be sure to follow Jenny on Twitter @JennyBlackhurst to stay up to date with all her news!

Are you an aspiring Crime Writer? Check out the Richard & Judy/Bonnier Zaffre ‘Search for a Bestseller’ competition

 

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If you’re a new crime writer looking for a book deal this might be the competition for you!

Richard Madeley and Judy Finnigan have launched a “Search for a Bestseller” competition to find a new bestselling writer. The prize is a £50,000 publishing deal (for world rights) with Bonnier Zaffre and specialist advice from literary agency Furniss Lawton.

Supported by WHSmith the competition is open to unpublished writers. To enter, you need to submit 10,000 words, plus a synopsis of your novel. It must be a piece of original fiction and be aimed at adults. For the full terms and conditions click here: www.richardandjudy.co.uk/rjbestseller.

You’ve got until the 31 May 2016 to submit your entry via Richard and Judy’s website. The couple will lead the selection process, helped by editors from Bonnier Zaffre and agents at Furniss Lawton.

At the launch of the competition, Mark Smith, Chief Executive of Bonnier Zaffre said: ‘We are very excited to be teaming up with Richard and Judy to search for their next bestseller. At Bonnier Zaffre, we work closely with debuts and are proud to be involved with authors at every stage of their careers.’  And Richard Madeley said: ‘Judy and I are so excited to host the “search for a bestseller” competition, it gives us a chance to keep doing what we both love- reading and discovering a fantastic title for our devoted Book Club audience. We can’t wait to read the submissions!

Sounds like a great competition – good luck to all who enter.

 

The #DistressSignals Blog Tour by Catherine Ryan Howard: Extract Seven

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Today I’m hosting an extract from Catherine Ryan Howard’s thriller – DISTRESS SIGNALS.

Here’s what the blurb says: “‘There’s no evidence of a murder, but a person is missing. And what’s a missing person minus a body? Not a murder. Oh, no. Never a murder. It’s a disappearance.’ The day Adam Dunne’s girlfriend, Sarah, fails to return from a Barcelona business trip, his perfect life begins to fall apart. Days later, the arrival of her passport and a note that reads ‘I’m sorry – S’ sets off real alarm bells. He vows to do whatever it takes to find her. Adam is puzzled when he connects Sarah to a cruise ship called the Celebrate – and to a woman, Estelle, who disappeared from the same ship in eerily similar circumstances almost exactly a year before.  To get the answers, Adam must confront some difficult truths about his relationship with Sarah. He must do things of which he never thought himself capable. And he must try to outwit a predator who seems to have found the perfect hunting ground…”

By following each stop on the DISTRESS SIGNALS Blog Tour you get to read a bit more of the novel. If you’ve not read extracts 1-6 yet there’s still time – check out the fabulous blogs hosting the previous extracts on the poster above. If you’re all up to date, read on …

EXTRACT SEVEN

I was expecting one of Sarah’s trademark eye-rolls and a sarcastic remark. Maybe a reminder that I was now, technically speaking, a big-shot Hollywood screenwriter and could surely hold my own in conversations about Things Adults Do instead of standing on the periphery, smiling at the right moments but otherwise only moving the ice-cubes in my drink around with a straw. Or perhaps Sarah would point out that I didn’t need to go to this thing, that it was a work night out, that she’d been going by herself until I’d moaned about spending the night before she left for nearly a week home alone, prompting her to – eventually – say, fine, tag along.

But instead she turned to face me, wrapped her arms around my neck and said: ‘I would never abandon you.’

‘Well, good. Oscar night will be stressful enough without having to find a date for it.’

I kissed her, expecting to feel her lips stretched into a smile against mine. They weren’t. I moved my mouth to her jawline, down her neck. There was a faint taste of something powdery, some make-up thing she must have just dusted on her skin. I brought my hands to her waist and went to un-tuck the towel.

Ad,’ Sarah said, wriggling out of my arms. ‘I booked a cab for eight. We don’t have time.’

I looked at my watch. ‘I suppose I should take it as a compliment that you think that.’ I turned to leave.

‘Oh, Ad?’

I stopped in the doorway.

Sarah was in front of the mirror, twisting to check her hair. Without looking at me, she said, ‘I meant to tell you: the others aren’t exactly delighted about me being the one to get to go to Barcelona. They’ve all been milking it with their honeymoons and their maternity leave but God forbid I get to have a week out of the office. I mean, it’s not like I’m off. I’m there to work. Anyway, I’ve been trying not to go on about it, so . . .’

‘Don’t worry,’ I said. ‘I won’t bring it up.’

I smiled to myself as I crossed the hall into the living room. Honeymoons and maternity leave. Now that I’d sold the script, we could finally start making our own plans instead of being forced to watch as the realisation of everyone else’s clogged up our Facebook feeds.

But first . . .

I collected Mike’s card from the coffee table, then dropped into my preferred spot on the couch. It offered a clear line of sight to my desk, which was tucked into the far corner of the living room and so, crucially, was only a few feet from the kitchen and thus the coffee-maker.

A stack of well-thumbed A4 pages were piled on it, curled sticky notes giving it a neon-coloured fringe down its right side. I got a dull ache in the pit of my stomach just looking at it. The rewrite. I had to start it tomorrow. And I would. I’d drive straight home after dropping Sarah at the airport and get stuck in, make the most of the few days and nights that I’d have the apartment to myself.

Sarah emerged from our bedroom, wearing a dress I hadn’t seen before.

The money from the script deal hadn’t arrived yet but, since I’d learned it was on its way, I’d been melting my credit card. Sarah had supported me for long enough, paying utility bills and covering my rent shortfalls with money she could’ve been – should’ve been – spending on herself. That morning I’d sent her into town with a giftcard for a high-end department store, the kind that comes wrapped in delicate tissue and in a smooth, matt-finish gift bag.

‘This is just a token,’ I’d said. ‘Just a little something for now, for tonight. You know when the money comes through . . .’

‘Ad, what are you doing? You don’t know how long that money is going to take to arrive. You should be hanging onto what you’ve got.’

‘I put it on the credit card.’

‘But you might need that credit yet. I really wish you’d think before you spend.’

‘Look, it’s fine. We’ll be fine. I just wanted to . . .’ Sarah’s mouth was set tight in disapproval. ‘Okay, I’m sorry. I am. It’s just that I don’t want to wait to start paying you back for . . . For everything.’

She’d seemed annoyed. Disappointed too, which was worse. But then, later, she’d come home with a larger version of the same bag, and now she was twirling around to show me the dress that had been inside it: red and crossed in the front, the skirt part long and flowing out from her hips.

‘Well?’ she asked me. ‘What do you think?’

She looked beautiful in it. More beautiful than usual. But with the new hair, not quite the Sarah I was used to.

‘Nice,’ I said. I pointed to my jeans and my dark, plain T-shirt.

‘But now I feel underdressed.’

‘Change, if you want to.’

Our buzzer went. The cab was here.

‘No, it’s fine,’ I said. ‘Let’s just go.’

Aside from the clothes Sarah was wearing when I drove her to the airport the next morning, that red dress was the only item I could tell the Gardaí was missing for sure.

 

Want to know more? Visit www.distresssignalsbook.com for more info and follow Catherine Ryan Howard on Twitter @cathryanhoward

DISTRESS SIGNALS is out now. Follow this link to buy it from Amazon – Amazon link

 

CTG Reviews: SOLOMON CREED by Simon Toyne

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What the blurb says: “A plane crash in the Arizona desert. An explosion that sets the world on fire. A damning pact to hide an appalling secret. And one man bound to expose the truth. He is Solomon Creed. No one knows what he is capable of. Not even him.

When Solomon Creed flees the burning wreckage of a plane in the Arizona desert, seconds before an explosion that sets the world alight, he is acting on instinct alone. He has no memory of his past, and no idea what his future holds. Running towards a nearby town, one name fires in his mind – James Coronado. Somehow, Solomon knows he must save this man. But how do you save a man who is already dead?”

Highly atmospheric, this cinematic literary thriller plunges the reader deep into the Arizona desert and a town seeped in the blood of a violent history that has continued to haunt it into the present day.

The historical storyline telling of the town’s origins weaves between chapters of the present day mystery which poses the questions: why did the plane crash in the desert? Who was on it? Who caused the crash? Why is Solomon Creed there? And just who is he?

Solomon Creed is an intriguing character – a man with no memory of the past but an instinct for survival and escape. The present day storyline follows his journey as he struggles to uncover just who is he and why he’s ended up in this small town in the desert. And as he seeks the truth about himself, he begins to uncover a web of lies, secrets and hidden treasure dating back to the very inception of the town.

Played out against an epic backdrop, SOLOMON CREED is an atmospheric, intense and complex mystery, perfect for fans of both historical and contemporary literary thrillers.

 

To find out more about Simon Toyne pop over to his website at  www.simontoyne.net and follow him on Twitter @simontoyne

And to check out SOLOMON CREED on Amazon click here

[With thanks to Harper Fiction for my copy of SOLOMON CREED]

 

CTG Reviews: The Maze by Daniel Pembrey

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What the blurb says: In the latest Harbour Master story, maverick Amsterdam cop Henk van der Pol roves further afield, to Rotterdam, Antwerp and Brussels – investigating a maze-like set of cases involving diamonds, fine art, drugs and high-class prostitution. What connects the cases, and what risks must Henk run to uncover the criminals? Impeding him is his rival and boss Joost, who has an equal but quite separate interest in the investigation’s outcome. Upon discovering the connection between the cases, Henk must confront challenges at a higher and more dangerous level of the Dutch state.”

The Maze is the second story in Daniel Pembrey’s popular Harbour Master II novella series, and the first in the series that I’ve read.

It’s also the first crime book with a Dutch detective lead character that I’ve read in a very long time and I really enjoyed reading a story set in different cities to those I often read about.

Henk van der Pol makes for a great lead character – he’s strong willed, courageous and determined to unravel the cases he encounters and serve justice – no matter how complicated they might be. Which is good, because The Maze sees him challenged by a spate of seemingly unrelated cases. As Henk digs deeper into the evidence he begins to see a pattern, but encounters trouble and obstruction where he least expects it – within the police service. As he connects the cases, and sees the potential political implications, he has to call in favours from those in his past in order to bring those responsible to justice – and to stay alive.

Henk’s wife, Pernilla, and daughter, Nadia, feature strongly within the story as Henk tries to balance his family responsibilities with his work and his wife becomes anxious as their daughter becomes increasingly distant. As the investigation takes him from Amsterdam to Rotterdam, Antwerp and Brussels, and his wife becomes increasingly concerned, Henk is torn between his competing priorities.

A fast paced, page-turner of a story – this crime thriller a fabulous read. At 108 pages it’s perfect to read in one sitting on a lazy Sunday afternoon or a long train ride, or to enjoy in daily instalments.

Highly Recommended.

 

To find out more about Daniel Pembrey’s books hop on over to his website at http://danielpembrey.com/books/

You can also follow him on Twitter @DPemb

 

[many thanks to Daniel Pembrey for my copy of The Maze]

Re-blog: David Khara stops by to talk about The Bleiberg Project

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Last year David Khara, author of The Bleiberg Project, dropped by the CTG blog to talk about the launch of his new conspiracy theory action thriller eBook. As The Bleiberg Project – the first in the Consortium Thriller series – has now come out in paperback we thought we’d re-blog the interview and excerpt. 

But, before we get started with the interview, here’s a little taster of the book (please note contains strong language):

Excerpt:

“Besides work and getting high, what do you do all day?”

No answer. You’re out of luck, pal. I’m pig-headed. “The journey will seem shorter if we talk, don’t you think?”

He sighs. “When I’m not on an assignment, I paint.” I can’t help laughing. “You think that’s funny?”

“I’m picturing you on a stool with your palette and brush, gazing at a green valley or a snowy mountaintop. Sorry, but with your look and build, it’s funny!”

“If you’re just going to make fun of me, the trip is going to seem very, very long.” He clams up.

“There’s no harm in a little fun. OK, I’ll stop,” I snort, laughing even louder. Why do giggling fits always hit at inappropriate times?

“What about you? Besides driving home from clubs dead drunk, what do you do?”

Bastard. That’s below the belt. On second thought, I guess I deserved it. “I try to survive. I thought about blowing my brains out, but I’m too much of a coward. So I drink. I smoke like a chimney. Every day, I destroy myself a little bit more.”

“Suicide isn’t a sign of bravery, but of giving up. We all make mistakes. You don’t judge somebody by the number of blows they can give.”

“What do you judge somebody by, Mr Freud?”

“The number of blows they can take.”

His words hit home. “You’ve taken a lot, right?” I ask. A long, long beat.

“More than you can ever imagine.”

Why am I not surprised? This guy’s been around the block. I’d bet my life on it. “How do you do it?”

“Pardon me?”

“Blowing guys away like that. How do you do it?”

“Who said it was easy?” He sighs heavily. A long awkward silence.

(Excerpted from The Bleiberg Project by David Khara. First published in French as Le Projet Bleiberg, ©2010 Editions Critic. English translation ©2013 Simon John. First published in English in 2013 by Le French Book, a digital-first publisher specializing in best-selling mysteries and thrillers from France.).

And now, for the interview …

So David, your new book, The Bleiberg Project, is a thriller with links to World War II. What was it that inspired you to write a novel along that theme?

The whole idea for The Bleiberg Project idea came while I was driving to my office, listening to the news. A pharmaceutical company was doing research on an orphan disease that touched fewer than 100 kids in Europe. A man said that the study was being ended because the budget was 50,000 euros short. I was stunned. These companies make tons of money, amazing profits, and 50,000 euros is a drop in the ocean. When I got to my office, I started looking into the subject and found articles establishing links between Nazi and Japanese scientists during WWII and pharmaceutical companies. I also found information about how Allied governments were interested in the results of immoral and incredibly cruel human experiments. Through my research, I realized the world we live in rose up from the ashes of war, and was built on the corpses of 60 million victims. I wanted to write about it, through entertainment to make it more bearable.

What research do you do to ensure the atmosphere, locations and characters feel authentic?

The answer is pretty easy: 1000 hours listening to survivors, watching documentaries over and over again, and reading biographies. The point was not for me to merely tell the stories. I needed to get in the minds of both victims and criminals. I wanted to be there with them. This inspired many of the characters of the series, even those set in the present day. And everything that happens in the past is, at one point or another, is based on the truth.

Tell us a little about your writing process, do you plot out the story events before sitting down to write, or do you drive right in and see where the story takes you?

It is a very delicate mix of both. I’ve got a few dots I need to link together to get the whole picture. I do not use notes, nor do I write an outline. I know what I’m going to write, and since the novels are built as puzzles with chapters taking us back in time, I have everything in mind before starting. That means I constantly think about it. There is just no day off when I start working. Still, the absence of a written script gives the characters some space to explore unplanned directions. My job is then to make sure they don’t stray too far from the plot and my goals.

How do you organise your writing day: do you have a favourite time and place to write?

My writing day is a well-established ritual. I write in my garden, a cup of coffee on the left side of my computer, and my cigarettes (bad, I know) on the right side. I put sunglasses on, then headphones because I need music to keep me in the mood of each chapter. With that, I’m ready for 6 to 8 hours of intensive writing. I usually work from 10 in the morning to 6 in the evening, with a break for lunch. When I’m not in the mood for writing, I go back to my research.

And what’s next for you, are you planning your next novel, or already well into the writing of it?

The Morgenstern Project, the third book in the Consortium thriller series, was just released in France, so I’m traveling a lot for book signings and interviews. My next novel is planned, and I’ll start writing it pretty soon and it is about time because I’ve had it in mind for three years now and lots of readers ask for it. The Bleiberg Project movie production should move to a new phase soon, which will have a direct impact on my schedule. 2014 will be a very busy year, believe me.

A big thank you to David Khara for dropping by to talk to us. To find out more about David and The Bleiberg Project, you can check out the link below:

Web page: http://www.thebleibergproject.com