ARC Reviews


Nelumbo Nucifera, by Cristina Slough. Psychological Thriller Release, Excerpts & Giveaway.

Title: Nelumbo Nucifera
Author: Cristina Slough
Genre: Women's Fiction/Psychological Thriller
Release Date: January 24, 2017

On the surface, Gaby Parker has it all; however, behind closed doors, is a woman who lives in constant fear of the man who was supposed to love her: her husband, Kyle. Beaten, desperate, and broken, Gaby realizes the only way to escape from her violent husband is to kill herself — on paper. Gaby is dead, and Riley Locklin is born, residing in the tranquil coastal town of Chesswick Bay Montauk where she hopes to start over and meets a man who shows her bruises aren’t kisses. Meanwhile, back home, Kyle is doing everything in his power to prove Gaby isn’t dead. But…police find her burnt-out car and remains? Kyle isn’t buying it; he knows she’s still alive. He launches his own full investigation to find his wife — and he’ll stop at nothing to claim her back. A female Detective assigned to his wife’s case doesn’t like him very much after discovering a domestic violence report - scorned by the history of her mother’s domestic abuse, she’s determined to send Kyle down for his wife’s murder. And then he finds her. Will Gaby finally take a stand? - NELUMBO NUCIFERA
This book contains themes that some readers may find disturbing. Contains possible triggers.
For every copy of this book sold 10p will be donated to The Katie Piper Foundation:
"Nelumbo Nucifera is a cleverly crafted book that will keep readers hanging on the edge of their seat and FEELING some very powerful emotions. It is not necessarily a romance rather, a psychological thriller with a romance added in making it the PERFECT read for fans of either genre." ~Pretty Little Books
Yellow tape still concealed Burbank Woods. The fresh woodland had been engulfed in a misty grey fog, the road stained in thick black soot with fractured pieces of glass that glistened in the early morning sunlight on the morning the car was found. Even days later the smell of burnt rubber and plastic hung in the air. The debris remaining of the mangled wreck made it tough to identify a possible victim—until one of the police officers discovered a licence plate, crumpled like a scrunched up piece of paper, but not too damaged that the numbers and letters couldn’t be read. After a simple enquiry, it was discovered that the car was registered to Mrs. Gabriela Parker, a woman who had been reported missing by her husband just a few short hours before. This wasn’t just an accident. Isla could feel it, taste it, smell it; there was so much more to this. From across the room, Isla saw him—the man she was sure was responsible for his wife’s disappearance. She knew that there was much more to this than what the sonofabitch was letting on. His arrogance infuriated her. He had a certain swagger in his walk, making a statement with every step.
“What the fuck is he doing here already?”
“Parker’s lawyer got the conference moved forward. They want optimum viewing time. People want to hear a statement from the husband,” Hardy answered, lifting a steaming polystyrene cup to his lips, gently blowing the steam before he took a loud sip.
“Of course they do. It just proves he’s even more of a slick sonofabitch. I wonder what kind of cock and bull sob story he is going to invent. This should be good.” Isla grabbed a notebook and a pen and headed across to the growing crowd. Kyle was surrounded by hungry journalists. She pushed her slender body through the sea of people.
“It’s almost time,” a PR woman shouted.
“It’s not a bad turn-out,” Hardy said to Isla.
“Middle-class white woman, wife to a powerful investment banker goes missing, a body that we can’t identify, yet. Of course it was going to be a good turn-out. These scum suckers live for the drama, don’t they?” Isla had a love/hate relationship with the press. It annoyed her how involved they became. They acted as if they, themselves, were cops. But, they also had their uses too.
Kyle’s dark hair was slicked back. He was dressed in business casual blues; he walked into the conference room. Isla could see the awaiting journalists perk up when he came in, nudging one another, pointing. Isla could lip read Marsha Henley’s lips. “That’s him.” Marsha Henley was a pit bull of a journalist. If there was blood, she could smell it for miles off. Over the years she and Isla had locked horns, but now they had reached a level of respect for one another—two women in a man’s world, fighting for truth and justice. The PR woman came into view again; she placed a cardboard poster of Gaby Parker on an easel. The blown up picture of Mrs Gabriela Parker showed a beautiful woman with flawless skin, full lips and dark chocolate eyes. She had a thick main of perfectly groomed crimson red hair that framed her stunning features. In the picture she was smiling. But it was a smile that Isla knew wasn’t real. She called it the “Stepford smile.” It was forced—nothing but a show. Behind that smile was a woman that was dying inside. The old cliché was true: Eyes are the windows to the soul.
“Lips may do the talkin’ but eyes do the tellin’.” That is what Isla’s mother had always said, and it was a truth that Isla had lived by. Even before she became a cop.
As soon as Kyle climbed onto the platform and took a seat on an aluminium chair, the room started to illuminate with cameras as they flashed repetitively. The scuffle of feet scraping against the floor and the constant clicking sound filled the room. Isla folded her arms across her body and kept her gaze on Kyle.
Let the world see what a great showman you really are.
When Kyle went to his car, the club was aglow with flashing blue and red lights. The wail of sirens assaulted his ears. Two ambulances were parked outside.
He caught a glimpse of a woman being carried out on a stretcher. Police had concealed the club with yellow tape. The last thing that he needed was to get pulled into this shit. To his relief, as the gate opened, he was able to get straight on the road. The timing couldn’t have been worse. Right now he needed Randy, but now he was embroiled with the night’s events. Kyle pulled out into the interstate. He pushed his foot down heavy on the accelerator; his pulse was beating hard in his chest. He tried to think back: Had there been any clues? He debated the pros and cons of going after her. If he found her, he knew that his rage would win and he wouldn’t be in control anymore. He imagined her, out there somewhere, laughing at him, thinking that she had gotten away with it. Meanwhile, he was under the microscope with the cops—especially with Detective Isla Bitch Morany. Even thinking about that woman made him want to punch something; he would love to wipe her smug know it all look off her face. But her badge protected her; it acted as a shield, because if she was working a normal job, there was no way she wouldn’t have had a fist or two to knock her back in line.
Kyle thought about the money he had parted with since this all began; he was satisfied that the bulk of his funds were off shore; Morany may have uncovered his dirty dealings, and they were enough to get him in hot water, but his reserves would be enough to save him, probably. He drove past a parade of billboards advertising the Love of God:
“Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.”
It felt as if that sign had been placed there especially for him. Things between him and Gaby had never been smooth, but he thought he had things in a structured order, and he was desperate to claw it back. He decided that he was going to do just as God had instructed: “Be wise as a serpent.”
  1. When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
When I was in primary school. At parents evening my teacher told my mum I would be wasting my life if I didn’t become an author. It made sense, I always loved reading and writing…
  1. How long does it take you to write a book?
It really depends. With my first, it was around three months. With my current title I started it with a first couple of chapters, and then took a six month break. But when I went back to it, I couldn’t stop and had 80,000 words completed in under three weeks. It was crazy. I would work into the night, go to bed, look after my three year old, go to my day job…and start all over again!
  1. What is your work schedule like when you're writing?
I sit at my desk and just let the words come to me. I have to listen to music. It is a must. Music puts me in the zone.  
  1. What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I honestly don’t think that I have one!
  1. How do books get published?
I study publishing houses and agents and submit to the ones that I think my work would fit. I am currently published with two independent publishing houses.
  1. Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?
Ideas come to me all the time. My mind, never, ever, shuts up. I carry a notebook around in my bag and jot down ideas as they come. For research, I google, I buy books to study a subject, and I talk to expert people. For Nelumbo Nucifera, I spoke to real women that had been in domestic abusive relationships. So, the information in the book is very raw, and very real. I also consulted an expert in the field of mental illness—a subject which is also highlighted in Nelumbo. I want my writing to really speak to people, so I want to bring them into the story by knowing my stuff!
  1. When did you write your first book and how old were you?
I started many books from the age of 10, but I never ever finished a actual book until I was 33, and that was the first book I published!
  1. What do you like to do when you're not writing?
I hang out with my husband and my son…they are my world! I also work at a hospital which I love. I enjoy reading and watching movies, seeing my friends, and travelling. Travel is something that I have always loved and want to do more of!
  1. What does your family think of your writing?
My family support me 1 million percent. They were the people that kept encouraging me to pursue the dream of becoming a published author. I couldn’t do it without them.
  1. What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
How much I can feel emotionally for characters that are born out of my imagination!
  1. How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?
I have written two books: Till Death Us Do Part was my debut, and Nelumbo Nucifera is my new release. I am currently working on my third. Till Death will always have a special place in my heart, because it was my first. But, Nelumbo Nucifera is my favorite, I feel like my writing was taken to another level. I also love the fact that I am able to donate to some really amazing causes with this novel.
  1. Do you have any suggestions to help me become a better writer? If so, what are they?
Always write about a story that you believe in. Market trends come and go, but writing from your heart is timeless. For the practical side, use the eye of a professional editor, and ask as many honest people to critique your work as possible. The bottom line is: never stop writing.
  1. Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
I have had some really beautiful messages from readers. Hearing from them is incredible and so empowering. The messages that I have received are usually because something in my book has resonated with them. The last message I received was from a reader who is married to a U.S. Marine, she said that my writing was so true to the feelings she had felt when her husband was deployed. Their story is so special, I am so delighted that my book fictional book felt real to real people!
  1. Do you like to create books for adults?
Yes. The only children’s story I have ever written is for my son!
  1. What do you think makes a good story?
Characters that I can relate to and a book that has me thinking about it long after I have turned the final page!
  1. As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
When I was really young. An astronaut and a vet. But from aged 10, a novelist!
  1. What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?
I have been to Stratford- upon-Avon (home of Shakespeare’s) several times. I have been to his house, and explored the area’s that he wrote. For my own writing, I rarely get into anything outside of my home, but when I do, it’s the beach.
  1. What is the first book that made you cry?
Marley and Me!
  1. What is the most unethical practice in the publishing industry?
Slating other author’s work or opinions. There are bullies out there, sadly I have seen it happen. Authors should always support one another not rip one another apart!
  1. Does writing energize or exhaust you?
Definitely energizes, even with little sleep after writing something I love, I am still buzzing.
  1. What are common traps for aspiring writers?
Sometimes an idea of a story might be good but may need several re-writes before it will be ready. Remember that your first draft should never be your last draft…
  1. Does a big ego help or hurt writers?
In my opinion it hurts them. I am unlikely to buy a book written by somebody who is up their own backside. It is important to engage with readers, they are your bread and butter, the fuel to your craft!
  1. What is your writing Kryptonite?
My phone! I end up checking Instagram when I should be writing.
  1. Have you ever gotten reader’s block?
I have started books which I have just not connected to for one reason or another. I like to give a book a chance, but if I just don’t feel it, I set it aside or give it away to somebody else who may appreciate it.
  1. Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?
No. I want to put my real name to the work I put out there. I may change my mind later down the line, but not for the foreseeable future.
  1. Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
I like to be original, I follow my heart when I write and hope that it will give readers something special.
  1. Do you think someone could be a writer if they don’t feel emotions strongly?
I think it would be tough, only because I pour emotion into my own writing. But every writer is unique.
  1. What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
I have a close community of author friends. They are amazing. We always bounce ideas off one another. We swap drafts and they give their opinion on what they think works, and what doesn’t.
  1. Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?
All of my books to date are standalones, I can’t see that changing anytime soon…but never say never!
  1. If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Take the opportunity to go and see the world. Freedom to come and go as you please is rare. Adventure nurtures the soul!
  1. How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?
I took my writing far more seriously. If something didn’t feel right in a chapter, I wouldn’t just leave it—I changed it. With my second novel, I used the delete button a lot. It wasn’t about reaching a word count, it was making the words count!
  1. What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
Investing in editing, and taking refresher courses.
  1. What authors did you dislike at first but grew into?
There are no authors that I disliked and then liked. I always loved Emily Giffin but one of her books didn’t hit the spot with me, but that would never stop me buying her future books.
  1. What did you do with your first advance?
  1. What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?
  1. What are the most important magazines for writers to subscribe to?
  1. What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?
  1. How do you balance making demands on the reader with taking care of the reader?
  1. As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
  1. What do you owe the real people upon whom you base your characters?
To give them a voice that readers want to hear!
  1. How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
I have a novel which I was working on prior to my debut that I just couldn’t connect with, I doubt that will ever see the light of day again. I am currently working on my third novel, I hope to complete that by early summer.
  1. What does literary success look like to you?
A strong fan base of readers that become your cheerleaders and will keep buying your books. Bestselling novels that everybody knows about…and the blessing to call writing your full-time job.
  1. What’s the best way to market your books?
  1. What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
For research, I google, I buy books to study a subject, and I talk to expert people. For Nelumbo Nucifera, I spoke to real women that had been in domestic abusive relationships. So, the information in the book is very raw, and very real. I also consulted an expert in the field of mental illness—a subject which is also highlighted in Nelumbo. I want my writing to really speak to people, so I want to bring them into the story by knowing my stuff!
  1. Do you view writing as a kind of spiritual practice?
I would consider myself a very spiritual person in general. I always have been. I keep journals, and that is the area of my writing that is very private, and where my spiritual roots are deeply embedded.
Novelist, movie addict, and animal lover, Cristina Slough is the author of:
Nelumbo Nucifera and Till Death Us Do Part. 
Cristina has always been a bookworm, rarely seen without a pen and paper in her hand, she loves delving into a literacy fictional world of her own. 
Although Cristina loves pink and fluffy, her writing isn’t. She loves to focus on raw human emotion and gritty story lines; she’s very fond of messing with her readers heads by weaving twists into her books.
Cristina is married to Adam, who runs a successful business; together they share their Bedfordshire home with their son, and several spoiled pets. As a family, they love to travel frequently, the United States being a firm favorite.

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