The Showcase is a special feature of the Author's Spotlight. It is designed to highlight Spotlight author's NEW releases and their soon to be released novels.
The HBS Author's Spotlight SHOWCASES M. R. Cornelius's New Book: Up To No Good.
Best Selling Author Marsha Cornelius writes speculative fiction.
Up To No Good
Author: M. R. Cornelius
Barnes and Noble
Rachel is about to turn forty and is underwhelmed with her life. Because she and her husband, Brian, work together, they have little to talk about. And the heat between the sheets has definitely cooled. Her only diversion these days seems to be the usual neighborhood gossip. She likes to think she's inquisitive. Brian says she's a snoop.
Lately, her nosy nature has escalated. She's gotten it into her head that a house down the road might be used to make adult films. Her clues? The blinds are always drawn, and there are never any garbage cans at the curb. She’s determined to get to the bottom of the mystery, but if her snooping keeps uncovering unexpected dirt, it may very well be the last thing she ever does.
Excerpt from Up To No Good
At first, I think it’s a huge grub all bloated and draped over some dead leaves. As the three of us get closer, I see it’s a used condom on the side of the road. Ellie’s dog Oscar strains against his leash to get a sniff, his white, kinky-haired snout twitching.
“Ewww. That’s gross,” Ellie says.
“I don’t believe it,” Sarah says, bending at the waist to get a closer look. I think she’s just showing off her tight glutes since she started that intense 90-minute workout on YouTube. She straightens and looks my way. “Rachel saw one a couple days ago over on Twin Branches, didn’t you?”
I nod in agreement. But also because a little voice in the back of my head warns me that if I don’t do something with my own butt soon I’ll be requesting one of those extender seat belts on future airplane flights.
The three of us have been walking on Saturdays for a few years now so I’m kind of used to Sarah’s gorgeous body. I’ve even soothed my jealousy with the standards: Some women are just born beautiful. She’s got an amazing metabolism.
Lately, I’ve added a new rationalization; she’s five years younger than me. She’ll be struggling too when she gets to be . . . I can’t even bring myself to think . . . Forty.
Ellie drags Oscar away before he tries to eat the damn thing. “Who would decide to have sex right in front of the Richardsons’ house?”
Her question diverts me from depressing thoughts of my approaching birthday.
“Probably kids who can’t do it at home,” I say. “Teenagers who let their lust run rampant last night.”
I envision a high school boy with rumpled hair, a pretty girl with perky breasts, wrangling in the back seat of a car. Then the girl morphs into a trim, sexy me and the teenage boy turns into a faceless man with a bodybuilder’s bare chest and shaggy hair. We are entwined in each other’s arms. Soft music plays on the car radio as he kisses my neck; a gentle breeze blows through the open window as his fingers ruffle through my hair. Then as he slowly skims his fingers across my breast—
“That’s pretty desperate, in November,” Sarah says.
My face flushes.
“It’s been really warm the last week or so,” I stammer. “Maybe the Indian summer roused primal urges.”
“And they’re going to have sex on every street in the subdivision?” Ellie asks.
How many streets would that be exactly? And how many different positions? The faceless man’s hand roams up along my inner thigh. His breathing grows heavy as I run my fingers through the thatch of hair on his rock-hard abs. A perimenopausal flush ignites in my belly and heads south.
Sarah snorts. “Maybe it was Stan Richardson. He’s got a girlfriend on the side and she texted him to meet her out front.”
Ellie giggles, too. “I don’t see how Stan could reach around that gut of his to get a condom on.”
The vision of naked Stan Richardson replaces my bare-chested lover who unfortunately gets incinerated by my pseudo-hot flash and is reduced to ash.
“Maybe Marcy has had it with Stan and she’s got herself a boy toy,” Sarah says.
We all glance at the Richardsons’ house. It’s one of three basic designs in our starter-home subdivision. Like thousands of others, Brian and I bought into the American dream of owning a home in suburbia. Unfortunately it was right before the economy tanked so like most of our neighbors, we’re living in a house that’s currently worth less than our mortgage. It makes for lively conversation at community gatherings, particularly among the men. They hate getting caught with their financial underwear around their ankles.
Brian and I chose the floor plan of our house because it had a separate formal dining room. Don’t ask me why that was important. I guess I had visions of throwing elaborate dinner parties with exotic food and stimulating conversations. My background in journalism is partly to blame. Back then I just assumed everyone wanted to discuss Pat Conroy’s most recent book, or the situation in the Middle East. All these years later, we’re still in our starter-home but my dining room table is currently piled with clothes that need folding.
I count back to determine just how many years that is. Fifteen. Then I’m reminded that we bought the house when I was twenty-five, which means next month I’m going to be . . . Forty.
“Maybe it’s some creepy single guy who still lives with his mother,” Ellie says.
Her suggestion gets my mind going in a different direction. Sound bites of television interviews play in my head.
He seemed like such a nice guy.
He was always quiet . . . Kept to himself.
“Maybe it’s a serial killer,” I say. “He brings his victim here, rapes her, kills her, then dumps her someplace.”
Sarah gives me a scowl. Or at least I think she does. She’s just gotten a new facial treatment where they injected her own fat into the wrinkles between her eyes, so it’s hard to tell.
But her head definitely wobbles with skepticism. “I haven’t seen anything in the paper about any dead bodies.”
“Maybe he’s burying them.”
“Come on, Rachel. What about missing women in the news?” Ellie asks.
“They could be hookers, or runaway teenagers,” I offer. “We should save the condom for evidence. DNA.”
“Ewww!” Ellie says again. “You’re going to pick that up?”
“I’ll get a glove, and put the condom in a Ziploc bag. The police can keep it on file. This could be the most crucial piece of evidence in a heinous crime.”
Sarah glances at me over her sunglasses. “The only heinous crime here is your imagination.”
Oscar pulls on his leash, prodding us to move along.
At the corner, Ellie pushes the crosswalk button and the traffic light at the entrance to Hamilton Farms changes. We hustle over to Braxton Lane.
Ellie has Oscar trained not to take a dump until he gets outside our subdivision. His favorite spot is the first house on Braxton, a rental that has seen better days. The pressboard siding is buckled and mold has invaded giving the beige paint a green cast. The front porch railing is a bit askew.
We’ve been speculating lately that the house is vacant. It’s hard to tell because every single Venetian blind is drawn tight. Personally, I don’t know how someone can live with no daylight coming in, but Sarah insists that lots of people keep their blinds shut so the sun doesn’t fade their furniture.
Braxton Lane is one of those odd streets that started out as a country road decades ago. A few families built one-story ranches but still held on to their farming roots, adding small barns, and chicken coops, and turning the whole side yard into a giant garden.
Then urban sprawl oozed its way into Mansell County. The large farms were snapped up for subdivisions full of starter homes with two-car garages—that is if one of them is a sub-compact. And the connecting roads like Braxton Lane have become a hybrid of country and city with new homes right next to the old.
This first house on the street was designed to look like the homes in our subdivision: two stories, a token gable on the roof, but builder’s grade flooring, fixtures and appliances.
The original owners took some pride in their new home—added some landscaping, kept the lawn mowed—but they didn’t stay long and ever since the house has been a rental.
If you ask me, it’s the perfect site for a porn house. I ran the idea by Brian a couple weeks ago but he didn’t really get it...
Speculative Fiction, Thriller, Science Fiction
M. R. Cornelius
M. R. Cornelius
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After working for fifteen years as a cafeteria manager in an elementary school, I turned in my non-skid shoes for a bathrobe and slippers. Now I work at home, writing novels, ranting on Facebook and Twitter, and occasionally whisking a Swiffer across dusty surfaces.
Like thousands of others, I thought I could write romance, but soon discovered I was a dismal failure. I did increase my repertoire of adjectives such as throbbing, pulsing, thrumming, vibrating, hammering, pumping . . .
I live in the country north of Atlanta with my husband, and two molly-coddled cats. My two grown sons occasionally visit for clean laundry and a hot cooked meal.
Author's Book List
Habits Kick Back
Prescription drugs are so common in the future they’re called supplements, and dispensed at meals like side dishes. Just like everyone else, Luna takes pills to curb her appetite, increase her memory, focus her concentration, improve her mood, even suppress her sex drive.
By her sophomore year in college, however, she’s beginning to wonder what life is like outside this drug-induced state. The perfect opportunity to break out of the mire comes when she sees a picture of a medallion from the 5th century. She’s not sure where she’s seen it, but she hopes once her mind is clear, she will find the artifact.
When she stops taking supplements, she discovers food tastes delicious, her friend Sal is suddenly sexy, and the search for the lost medallion turns into a real adventure.
Hopefully, all her new habits don’t get her killed.
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Frank Barnes is content living on the streets of Atlanta. A soup kitchen and a makeshift shanty sure beat his days as a POW in Vietnam. But Chloe Roberts can’t handle the eviction that sends her into the hell of homelessness. With no family or friends to turn to, Chloe and her children are sucked into the traumatic world of night shelters, and dangerous predators.
When they bump into each other at a soup kitchen, Frank offers Chloe a glimmer of hope that she can pull her life back together. She rekindles his lost sense of self-worth. But they will not meet again until Frank is riding high in his new life as a working stiff, and Chloe has hit rock bottom.
By helping Chloe rebuild her broken life, Frank banishes the demons from his own past. Unfortunately, the past comes strolling back into their lives, threatening to destroy the happiness they have finally found.
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The Ups and Downs of Being Dead
Fifty-seven year old Robert Malone is the CEO of a successful clothing store chain and married to a former model. When his doctor tells him he is dying of cancer, he refuses to go quietly. Instead of death, Robert chooses cryonics. He knows it's a long shot. His frozen body will be stored in liquid nitrogen for the next seventy-five years, and then he'll wake up in the future. That is, if technology develops a way to bring him back.
He's willing to take that gamble.
What he doesn't realize is that he won't lie in some dreamless state all that time. His soul is very much awake, just like the others who were frozen before him. And like these souls in limbo, Robert begins a new kind of life outside his physical body.
He discovers that he can ride in the cockpit with the pilots, but he can't turn the page of a magazine. He can sit in the oval office with the president, but he can't prevent a child from dashing in front of a car. He doesn't work, or eat, or sleep. He can't smell, or taste, or touch. These obstacles make it difficult to experience love, and virtually impossible to reconcile with the living.
Over the next several decades, Robert Malone will have plenty of time to figure out The Ups and Downs of Being Dead.
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A deadly influenza virus rages out of control. There is no easy-fix vaccine. No eleventh-hour containment. Only death.
With no workforce, power plants are unmanned so there’s no means of communication; police and fire departments have collapsed so no one is safe; looters are scavenging everything from big-screen TVs to canned peas.
When Dr. Taeya Sanchez finds herself unceremoniously dismissed from an emergency medical facility in New York, she decides to steal the hospital’s armored van for a midnight escape.
Unfortunately, Rick DeAngelo, a driver for the hospital, has already stocked the van for his own getaway.
Thrown into an unfriendly alliance, these two must pick their way across the dangerous wasteland of America in search of a safe haven. And as the miles roll by, they discover that the living should be feared much more than the festering corpses out there.
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