Saturday, 16 February 2019

'The Pre-Honeymoon': A Fun, Free Read

Hello and welcome to another of my free quick reads. This one has a splash of romance, in keeping with the month of Valentines. Happy (romantic) reading, everyone…




“My Dearest Callie,
Congratulations on your engagement. I’m thrilled to hear you’ve found a man you’d like to spend the rest of your life with and, with that in mind, I want to offer you a very special wedding gift you should both adore. I want you to come and visit me here on Tubu Island. You’ve been dreaming of visiting for ages, so here’s your chance! I’ve enclosed the plane tickets and all the information you need for a wonderful pre-honeymoon.
Yes, my dear, you read that right! There is one condition: you and your betrothed MUST take the honeymoon BEFORE your wedding, not after. Everything is arranged. My good friend, pilot Douglas Smith, will meet you on the mainland and fly you across. It’ll be such fun and so perfect for a young couple starting life together.
xo Aunty Mona
PS: Don’t forget the sunscreen!”

“Is your aunt completely batty?” Alex asked, dropping the handwritten letter on the coffee table  with a quizzical smile. “A pre-honeymoon? Who’s ever heard of such a thing? Write back and tell her, thanks old lady but, in case you’ve completely flipped, the honeymoon comes after the wedding not before.”
Callie retrieved the letter and scanned its contents again. “I think it’s really sweet,” she said. “Besides, it’s a lot more exciting than the honeymoon we’ve got planned.”
“Hey, there’s nothing wrong with two weeks in Adelaide, you know we can’t afford much more, especially if we want to buy our own house one day.”
“I know.” Callie was weary of this conversation. They’d had it so many times before. If it were up to the young receptionist, she’d blow the entire honeymoon budget on three action-packed days sailing the Great Barrier Reef or hiking through rainforest. But Alex wanted a luxury hotel in a city he knew and loved, and one they could afford to spend more time in.
“Besides, that’s where we met, it’s special.”
It had become his mantra.
Callie padded into the kitchen to put the kettle on. It was a pokey little room in a tiny little flat, and she’d be glad when they had the money to move out.
“You’re right, Alex,” she called out from over the bubbling water, “but what’s to stop us from having a bit of fun beforehand as well? After all, it won’t cost us a cent.”
“It’s not really about the money,” he called back. “I just think it’s so, well, rude to hand us a gift with conditions. She sounds like a bloody lawyer.”
“She used to be!” Callie laughed at the thought. If anyone met her Aunty Mona today they’d be shocked by the revelation. No one could be further from a barrister than this wily, wild-haired woman, yet she had fooled herself — and the bar — for 25 years before she suddenly swapped it all for a secluded life on the tiny private island.
“What is this place, anyway?”
Callie sighed wistfully. “Only a paradise away from heaven. Tea or coffee?”
“Tea, thanks, but make it weak or I’ll be up all night. So where is it?”
“The tea?”
He groaned aloud. “No. The island.”
“Sorry!” She giggled, her smile dropping as she returned with their drinks. “It is a bit of a trek away, two flights, in fact, right in the heart of the Pacific Ocean, but gee it’s worth the effort, it really is. It’s just so—”
“Hey, Antique Roadshow’s on!” Alex grabbed the TV remote control. “Sorry,” he added quickly. “I didn’t mean to interrupt but we love this show. Come, curl up with me.”
As he pulled the sound up, Callie dropped back onto the sofa but she couldn’t concentrate. She reached for the letter and read it again. It had her intrigued. She had not seen her aunt since her mother’s funeral, five years earlier, but wrote to her regularly, keen to keep in touch with the last surviving member of her family. Callie never knew her father, and there was no one else. For that reason alone, she always felt the need to stay connected to the older woman despite their distance. 
And so she had written on a regular basis, her letters bursting with details of her daily life, dreams and aspirations. In the past year Callie’s letters had become preoccupied with stories of Alex — how they had met (at a work conference), where they liked to eat (usually at home), and all his little eccentricities (there were plenty to share!). She took great delight writing of the time they went out driving and, eager to find a hotel for the night, stumbled across a quaint B&B in a picturesque village.
“Except poor Alex found the place a little ‘too quaint’ and couldn’t believe there was no TV!” she had scribbled. “So he moved us straight into a posh hotel up the road. It was pricier but, as Alex so rightly pointed out, it had all the mod-cons. Even a pool! (Although it was mid-winter, so of course we didn’t use it.)”
In turn, Mona would respond in her trademark manner: an envelope containing nothing but a crushed flower, a book of poems, a postcard with only the word “love” scrawled across. While the average person would find her correspondence odd and even a little curt (Alex certainly did), Callie was thrilled by anything she could get, and today, in Mona terms, she had practically been sent a novel.
“I wonder what the weather is like there now,” she said, mostly to herself as Alex seemed strangely intrigued by an old clock on the screen. “I think it’s the dry season, so it shouldn’t be too stormy.”
Eventually he turned to her. “Look, darling, I hate to kill your buzz but try to think about something else, we’re obviously not going.”
It was said with such certitude that Callie couldn’t help scowling.
“Why not?” she asked.
“Why not?”
“Yes, why the hell not?”
“Okay, don’t get cranky! It’s just so damn impractical that's why. Surely if you ask her to let us come at a later date, maybe in a year or so, it’d be better.”
“Better for whom?”
“I’m sorry?”
Callie jumped up and returned to the kitchen to hunt for some chocolate.
“What’s gotten into you?” Alex called after her.
She stormed back into the lounge room, hands firmly on her hips.
“I’ll tell you what! In two months we’re getting married, on the date you wanted, in the church you used to attend, in the suburb you grew up in. Then we’re going on the honeymoon you chose—”
“But you don't have any special church and you hate your childhood suburb! As for Adelaide? That’s where we met, it’s—”
“SPECIAL! I know!”
Alex shrank back in his seat, his expression wounded and she sat down and grabbed his hand. "I'm sorry. I don’t mean to be a brat, it’s just that we haven’t even talked about it, you just decided.”
“So let’s talk.” He turned the sound down. “Neither of us have been given permission to take holidays before the wedding and there is so much to organise.”
“What’s to organise? Everything’s in place, and you’re the boss, right? You can give us both an early holiday.”
“But… but…”
“But what?”
He shook his head irritably. “It’s just plain crazy!”
“So what?! Let’s do something crazy before we become a boring married couple. Look at Jan and Thomas, they’ve been stuck with a mortgage and kids since I can remember. What was the last crazy thing they did? And your brother and his wife, and Mara and that accountant guy she married last year? These people don’t do anything with their lives.”
“These people are happily married, they don’t need to do anything with their lives.”
Callie threw her hands in the air with exasperation. “I never ask you for much but I’m asking you for this. I know it sounds insane and maybe it is but for some strange reason I want this. I need this. And I need to do it with you. So please, please, let’s be a little crazy and just go!”
Alex looked into his fiancee's eyes and saw that she really meant it. He didn’t understand why this was so important to her but he was not worried. He had two months to change her mind.



“You’ll get a killer view from your side!” the pilot called out from the cockpit of the tiny six-seater Cessna, which was now winging its way to Tubu Island. Callie shoved her face against the foggy glass, eyes wide. 
They had already spent two hours in the air but it was the final 20 minutes in this tiny, vibrating tin can that made them gasp with delight when the island finally came into view. It looked spectacular, dotted with coral on one side and laced with beaches on the other.
“This is going to be the best holiday ever,” Callie said, gripping her seat for the final descent. 
As soon as they landed, a local man appeared to help load their luggage onto the back of his wooden trailer, before suggesting they do the same, offering them cushions to soften their ride. Then he revved up the attached tractor and hauled them across the island, through long grass and past swishing coconut trees, up a slippery embankment and into the thickness of a rainforest before a final descent down, back into the blazing sun and the final grass road along the beach to Mona’s house. 
While the cushions offered only a little relief from the rocking and swaying and chugging of the tractor, the couple felt no discomfort. All they could see was the giant adventure in front of them, and each other.
“Welcome, welcome to my humble island,” Mona called out as the tractor rattled to a halt just beneath a plump mango tree in front of the house. Callie jumped from the trailer and threw her arms around her aunt.
“It’s so great to see you!” she said, hugging her tight.
“And you,” Mona replied, glancing over Callie’s shoulder to the dishevelled man still sitting silently in the trailer. “Oh how lovely! You decided to stay?”
The man smiled shyly. “Yes, well, Callie and I had such a fun flight, she persuaded me to take a few days off and hang here with her. I hope you don’t mind."
Mona did not seem at all surprised by the extra guest, just crinkled her craggy features into a glowing smile and said, “Of course I don’t mind! In fact, I’ve already made the bed up. Welcome, Callie and Douglas, welcome to you both!”
Then, she quickly pulled her niece aside and said, “And Alex?”
“Alex who?” Callie replied, feeling an odd mixture of sadness and relief.
Later that day, as Callie lolled in the luminous waters out the front of the house, watching as the young pilot fired up the barbeque on the beach, a freshly caught fish in one hand, a sunburnt smile on his lips, she turned to her beloved aunt and said:
“Thanks for the wedding present, Mona. It was exactly what I needed.”


~~~

DID YOU KNOW: Tubu is based on a real island, Doini, in Papua New Guinea, where I spent many happy childhood holidays? It's also the setting of my stand-alone family mystery called An island Lost, which is available as an eBook and paperback @ Amazon @iBooks, @kobo, @nook...
Download it here




Monday, 10 December 2018

Sign Up To Get Free Quick Reads +WIN a Murder Mystery!

This festive season I'm offering my readers regular 'quick reads' for free AND, as a bonus, a free eBook of their choice. 


All you have to do is sign up to my newsletter and I'll send you my short stories with tantalising twists. From mystery and intrigue to romance and relationships, they're a simple way to thank you for all your support and keep the silly season light and er, silly!

And, because I can't help myself, I'm also offering THREE subscribers a chance to win one of my eBooks for free. That's any of my crime fiction—the choice is yours.

For more info and/or to sign up for my fortnightly newsletter, click here: calarmer.com

And stay tuned for more deals and steals, stories and thrills!
xo Christina


Tuesday, 27 November 2018

5-Minute Murder Mystery (My Free Gift To You!)

Hello and welcome to the first of my free quick reads. Every few weeks I’ll send you a short story with a twist. From mystery to romance, they’re a simple way to thank you for your support and keep the silly season light. Happy reading, everyone!


The Other One

My sister has always been deemed more beautiful, and I can’t understand why. We’re identical twins. We’re supposed to look the same. 
Yet for some reason men find her more attractive. Hell, everyone’s more attracted to Kara—old women, toddlers, even the Alsatian next door gallops across, tail wagging like a windsock when my ‘better half’ comes around. He offers me little more than bare teeth, and it bugs me.
Or, at least, it did until a few months ago, when Kara showed up dead.
They say a handsome young lad found her body. That’d be right. He alerted the police, they called in the fire brigade who, in turn, called in the Search and Rescue squad. Lots of handsome lads then, scurrying about. She was hard to get to, apparently, stuck in a tree, halfway down a cliff. Just dangling there, like a dripping carcass in a butcher’s shop window. For all to see.
The irony of it hit me. Kara wasn’t much of a show pony, never ostentatious, no siree. Her image was what they called ‘sophisticated’. Subtle make-up, stylish shoes. I gather she spent all she earned at that over-paid PR job on her high-end pumps. I’ve got them all now, of course, but they aren’t taking me where I thought they would.
I’m more your ‘cheap and cheerful’ type anyway—bright opshop clothes and sparkly chemist cosmetics, thick blonde highlights I get from a box. So kill me, I’m frugal. I have to DIY. You can blame all the bitchy bosses who keep ‘letting me go’, like they’re doing me a favour with their high standards and disappointed smiles.
Bit like the guys I’ve tried to date.
I had a boyfriend once, quite a passionate character. Until he met her. Of course Kara would not be tempted by someone so ordinary, but she might as well have. He never looked at me the same way again. I mean, we continued going out for a bit, but the fire had been doused, I could see it in his cold, wet eyes. Eventually he left me dangling, like I knew he would.
Dangling. It’s a funny word, don’t you think? Ugly. Humiliating. Out of control.
Kara was never normally out of control. She spoke well, she made friends easily, she drank just enough, never put on weight. She was School Captain and University President. Of course she was! She had been in love, but she never fell there like the rest of us. She sauntered up to it instead, opening the door for it, offering it a seat. And she always left them, a few expected tears, and happiness again.
“I love being single,” she told me once. “I love being on my own.” I’d noticed. Apart from our eight months wedged together early in the piece, we’d never been close. I smirk at the thought of poor, classy Kara stuck in the slimy environs of our mother’s womb, her limbs entangled with mine, unable to get away. No wonder we were premature—she led the charge, desperate to make her escape.
Last holidays Kara got away from me for good. She was pushed from a cliff. Then she really was all alone. And now, in death, as she lies rotting beneath the worm-infested soil, she rests all alone. Except for the constant stream of visitors, of course. Mum can’t bring herself to leave Kara’s grave. Has practically set up a camp site. Old boyfriends have driven miles to pay their last respects, weeping over her headstone, leaving perfectly healthy roses to wilt without water and die. And I watch this all from a distance, disbelieving and dismayed.
I’m still here, guys! The other one. Give me a second of your time, hand the flowers over. Look at me!
One man has complied. A lovely policeman by the name of Jones. Talked to me a lot, asked all sorts of questions, mostly about me. I liked that. It was refreshing. Revealing, too. He discovered that I did it. He locked me up and threw away the key.
It’s not so bad in here. I have a cell-mate called Sharon, and she’s not going anywhere.
~~~~~~

Tuesday, 6 November 2018

Agatha Christie Book Club 3 - 99c Sale

A dead body lying on a blanket… Sound familiar? (This one's for true Agatha aficionados)

In what will likely be my last Agatha Christie Book Club sale this year, I've discounted my third and newest book club adventure, Evil Under The Stars, down from $3.99 to just 99c for the eBook.
The biggest of all three adventures, that's a lot of bang for your buck, folks—although in this case, it's more a quiet suffocation in a park full of people, including our book club friends, who never heard a thing.
Find out what happens, how they managed to miss the murder, and what they do to redeem themselves and solve an impossible crime. This one's for TRUE Agatha Christie fans. While my book is a very modern mystery, there are some sneaky little clues from the original book that true Christie aficionados just might spot. Test your own prowess against mine!
For more info and retailer links, read on…
Evil Under The Stars: Agatha Christie Book Club 3
The champagne is flowing, the movie is showing, and a killer is lurking just blankets away… When the Agatha Christie Book Club reunite to watch Evil Under The Sun at a moonlight cinema, they quickly find themselves face-to-face with evil under a star-lit sky.

A woman has been strangled in a public park, with hundreds of witnesses and not a suspect in sight. How did no one see the killer lurking? How did no one hear the victim scream? And how could the gang have been lounging just metres away and missed the whole event?

When local detectives hit a brick wall, the book club do what they do best, channelling their inner-Miss Marple to help out. What eventuates is a true a battle of wits between our amateur sleuths and the Homicide Squad, with newcomer Detective Inspector Liam Jackson caught firmly in the middle.

From the author of the #1 best-selling Agatha Christie Book Club, this one’s for true Christie aficionados looking for a contemporary twist on the classic whodunit.

NB: This book follows British English spelling and usage, and contains some Australian slang. Clean read: no graphic violence, sex, or strong language. Genre: humorous, cozy mystery series, amateur sleuths, international mystery, police procedural
Purchase: @Amazon @Apple
Get in quick: sale ends next week!
Happy (book club) reading, everyone.
xo Christina

Tuesday, 2 October 2018

How I Went From Christie to Creepy + Win up to 25 eBooks



Okay, I might stand out like a sore thumb, right (pick my book, anyone?) but when it comes to mystery writing, it turns out I fit right into a whole new category — the paranormal mystery genre. Who knew?
Have you ever read a paranormal mystery? I stumbled into the genre by accident, and am so glad I did!
It was a warm and sunny day, two years ago (well, I’m guessing it was warm and sunny; this is Australia, folks, it’s almost always warm and sunny). I was sitting at my desk and conjuring up a new crime novel, and I wanted it to be different to anything I’d done before. I kept thinking: what do I love best about murder mysteries? It’s not the murder, not really. I’m not a macabre kind of person (as we’ve discussed before). And it’s certainly not the sinister build up to the murder. Sometimes, while reading, I find myself thinking, “Come on, just stick the bloody knife in and let’s get on with it!”
No, it’s all about the CLUES.
I love ’em. Each and every one of them. And I especially love when they’re camouflaged with stinky red herrings—the kind that send you barrelling down the wrong alleyway and lead you further away from the truth.
So why not write a story with the murder already over and done with, and the victim presenting the clues like a narrator from above? Seemed like such a fun, fabulous way to write a book. So I did it.
The first, Do Not Go Gentle, was such a lark, I wrote a second one: my very latest: Do Not Go Alone, which brings us here, folks.
Today, I’m proud to announce that I’ve teamed up with 25 other paranormal authors—authors who’ve been writing this genre for years—to offer you the chance to winup to 25+ paranormal mystery eBooks AND gain access to free and 99c bookswhile you’re at it!
Just click on the image above, or here, and explore a new genre with me. It might be a little spookier than you’re used to, but gee it’s a lot of fun.
Happy (creepy) reading everyone!
xo Christina
Now on sale for just 99c!
“There’s a bullet in my head and it’s really messing with my hairstyle…” So begins the second in the new Posthumous Mystery series. This time the victim is 27-year-old party girl Maisie who really shouldn’t be dead. Her party’s still pumping she’s missing all the fun. As she hovers overhead watching her loved ones splash about, Maisie begins to wonder: who hated her just enough to slaughter her in the middle of her own soiree then return to the pool as if nothing has happened? Can you help uncover a killer before the creepy dead people convince Maisie to cross?

Sunday, 2 September 2018

Monday, 27 August 2018

It's Launch Day And 3 Subscribers Get My Book For Free (woohoo)

"There's a bullet in my head and it's really messing with my hairstyle…" 



So begins the second in my Posthumous Mystery series. This time the victim is 20-something party girl Maisie May who really shouldn't be dead. There's a pool party going on and she's missing all the fun.

As Maisie hovers overhead watching her loved ones splash about, she begins to wonder: who hated her just enough to shoot her then return to the pool as if nothing has happened?
Can you help Maisie uncover a killer before the creepy dead people lurking by the tunnel convince her to cross?

This is a fun, light-hearted whodunnit with lots of dark humour and a heart-wrenching twist. It's a stand-alone mystery, the follow-up to my first Amazon best-selling Posthumous Mystery Do Not Go Gentle and is now available (see more links below).

But First—Did YOU Win a Free Copy?

Last newsletter I casually mentioned that I'd love to hear your feedback on the cover and there might even be a prize in it for you. A few of you emailed me back with some lovely thoughts—"awesome", "cute" and "DEathLICIOUS" were my favourite responses—so I'd like to thank the following subscribers with a free e-copy of my new book: Linda M, Jackie T and Vicki & Q. I'll be in touch soon.

In the meantime, here's how ALL my beloved subscribers can get their own copy of the book. Just click on a retailer below:
@Amazon
@iBooks
@nook
@kobo
@smashwords and elsewhere

Thanks, once again, for all your support. I do hope you love it, I hope you find time to review it, and I'd love to hear your thoughts. Feel free to email me back or subscribe to my newsletter for news, views, discounts and prizes: calarmer.com

Happy reading everyone.
xo Christina