Author: Kelly K. Lavender
Published: November 13th, 2014
Word Count: 60,000
Genre: Suspense Thriller
Age Recommendation: 18+
Beautiful Evil Winter is about an international adoption in one of the most dangerous countries in the world. When Sophia and her husband Ethan set off to Russia to adopt a baby boy, little do they realize they are headed straight into the open arms of the Mafia. To make matters worse, an untrained, inexperienced adoption coordinator orchestrates the effort to complete the task and keep the American couple safe as they deal with ironfisted syndicate control of orphaned children. Beautiful Evil Winter is a modern-day odyssey about the human capacity for hope, the traumas that shape our lives, and the hardship we’ll endure for love. What will devoted parents do for their child? Anything.
- The Eric Hoffer Awards – Commercial Fiction - Honorable Mention. The Hoffer Awards spotlight “…writing of significant merit.”
- The National Indie Excellence Awards - The New Fiction Finalist
- Dan Poytner’s Global EBook Awards-Bronze Medalist Suspense
- Readers’ Favorite International Book Awards-Triple Genre Finalist- Suspense, Thriller and Romance Sizzle
- Readers’ Favorite International Book Awards-Honorable Mention Suspense
- Readers’ Favorite International Book Awards contestants include New York Times Best-Selling Authors and celebrities, comedian Jim Carey won an award this year.
Will it happen this time? The ban announced last night—will it ruin everything? Dad says Russian law takes effect the moment it’s ratified. I’m so worried, Ethan.”
I rub my eyes and lean my head back while the jet engines roar in the background. My head throbs and my hands sweat as we try to begin our 13-hour journey. We’ve been sitting on the tarmac for two hours due to a mechanical problem.
Ethan grabs my hand and squeezes it softly, leaning over to plant a kiss on my forehead. I gaze at his face, bags frame his red eyes. I look out the window to distract myself. It’s a sunny cold day, the sky clear of clouds and full of promise for flight.
“One step at a time, Sofia. We’re closer than we’ve ever been. Remember that,” he says soothingly.
Turning back to him, my body becomes rigid as anger spills over me like hot molten lava. “You’re thinking the same thing I am! We should be overjoyed at the prospect of meeting our son! This is a time for celebration, a time for effervescent bottles of uncorked champagne! But this do-it-yourself adoption is a nightmare! How much longer can we handle disappointment after disappointment? The closer we think we are—the farther away we are,” I vent.
The conversation with Natasha on the phone last night burns in my brain.
“Adoption very risky in Russia now. The ban make Mafia watch money very close.”
How could she say that on the eve of our trip?
I play back what Natasha said. “This trip big gamble for you. l work to keep adoption away from Mafia. If I do not, police arrest you for human trafficking or Mafia take you. Better to go to prison. My name not appear anywhere, only yours. Phone will be disconnected. And I never know you.”
“Hello, folks. This is your pilot I apologize for the delay. The maintenance crew is working diligently to insure the safety of our trip. Thanks again for your patience.”
I glance over at Ethan, who’s dozing now.
“Honey?” I place my hand on his arm, but he doesn’t stir. Guess the fatigue finally caught up with him. If he had a drink, he’d be comatose. I think I’ll go to the restroom before the plane takes off. “Be back in a minute.”
I carefully unclasp my seat belt and try to skitter by him without disturbing him. As I walk past the rows on either side, I glance at the tendrils of ear plugs reaching upward like small sun-seeking plants, and the hand-held devices, passengers attached to them like farmers admiring prized vegetables pulled from the fields.
As I reach the door, the occupied sign forces me to pause and begin to turn around.
Suddenly, I hear the click of the door unlocking.
What luck! I’ll just dash in and dash out. Hopefully, I won’t have to hold my breath to stay in there. My face twists in repulsion at the thought. A haggard looking middle ̶ aged man with a large paunch emerges and smiles too brightly at me.
That look—that look of recognition like I’m a favorite relative, but I’m not. His lids half close as he squeezes past me taking his slow sweet time. And he looks back at me before he stumbles down the aisle way.
I push the door open and inhale a shallow breath. The smell of pump soap greets me. All clear. I can breathe.
Ting, Ting. The strained voice of the stressed-out flight attendant echoes through the tiny bathroom cabin.
“Within the next twenty minutes, The Captain will be turning on the fasten seat belt sign. Until then, you can use your electronic devices. We apologize for the inconvenience”
Turning from the sink to the opposite side to grab paper towels, all 5’2” 115 pounds of me twists like a corkscrew to move around. A quick swipe of the towels, a glance at my nostrils, a push of the lever, and I’m free to escape into the main cabin.
As I near my seat, I notice that “Mr. Too Brightly” is sitting next to Ethan.
Damn! I have to sit next to him! Looks like comatose Ethan has just re-positioned himself to face the aisle way. Why doesn’t this plane offer two across seating instead of three?
My steps slow, but I don’t want to wake Ethan up to swap seats since he’s so tired.
As I stand next to our row of seats, Mr. Brightly realizes with a dazzling repugnant smile that I’ll be seated next to him.
“Don’t tell me you’re with that guy,” he says, gesturing at Ethan. “He’s out cold. Between the screaming baby and me trying to wedge past him, he hasn’t moved an inch.” He smirks, his smile now a beacon of light.
I grit my teeth and carefully squeeze by Ethan’s knees grabbing the headrest of the seat in front of me for support. Glancing back over my shoulder, I see him looking at Ethan. I focus on the seat space next to him, zeroing-in on the instructions on the pocket pouch for my seat. Someone scribbled in red pen, HELL A MILE HIGH. As I wiggle into my seat and grope for my seatbelt, he watches my every move.
About the Author
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Do your homework. Thoroughly research the different avenues to publication. Go to authorevents and talk to authors and aspiring authors. Read Guy Kawaski’s book, A.P.E.
I write because I like the challenge of developing and telling an entertaining, meaningful story that empowers women.
I would implode if I didn’t finish a story after all the work and thought invested.
I recently learned that only 1% of readers take the time to write a review of a book. If someone dislikes my novel, that’s okay because people have different tastes. I don’t like liver and onions, organ meats, habaneros or wasabi, but some people crave those flavors. My advice about criticism: first, look at the comments objectively to determine if they are balanced or spiteful; then, if the reviewer makes a fair point, grow from it.
I establish non-negotiable priorities at night for next the day.
Reading, horseback riding, travel, cars and training my Great Pyrenees for Therapet certification.
I share some common ground with Nicholas Sparks, both of us earned degrees in Finance, both of us graduated with honors.
Yes!! I had to write about the Mafioso.
Sophia Evans in Beautiful Evil Winter. She runs hot and uncensored almost always. There’s little guesswork and few games when she communicates.
The first novel, also the first published novel, that I wrote is Beautiful Evil Winter
The novel holds a special place in my heart. It still feels surreal to say that I am a Multi-Award-Winning Debut Author.
Yes, I consider profanity repellent, but I must stay true to the characters. It would be ludicrous for a Mafioso to say, “Oh, darn!” I don’t like to write violence, but I acquiesce for the sake of a legitimate, meaningful book. I do not use sex, violence or profanity in gratuitous ways.
I love to write Suspense and Commercial Fiction. I refuse to write horror.
I like both formats, but recent research indicates that a print book lends itself to a more memorable, more visceral experience. Surprisingly, readers tend to remember the details of a story more often with print books rather than ebooks due to the physical experience of turning the pages, the brain processes the information differently.