Toot my horn, that is. She’s been posting about the importance of promotion, and I was so happy about the kind comments I got about ‘Angels on Crusade’, I decided to continue. (I know you don’t come to my blog to hear about my books, lol. You come for stories about personal trainers in my cereal box…) but today I just got word that Virtual Murder is available at Powells!
(here is the note I got in my e-mail this morning!)
by Jennifer Macaire
is now available in TRADE PAPER at $14.95. To learn more about the book, please proceed to:
Your best chance to get this book is to order it online immediately — phone or
walk in ordering will not be as effective as the lightning fast power of the
OK – a word or two about this book. It’s science fiction, it’s not romance, although it’s pretty hot and sexy, lol. It’s for ages 16 and up. It was a finalist for the EPPIES and in the paperback version it’s paired with a never-before-published novella called ‘A World Between’ that is more romance but is definitely sci-fi and is a really, really cool story if I may say so myself.
Here is an excerpt of Virtual Murder:
Where are you off to, lady? For I see you,
You splash in the water there, yet stay stock still in your room.
~Walt Whitman, Song of Myself
He had blond hair, bleached almost white by salt water, and turquoise chips for eyes. Dressed in the Virtual Tours uniform of khaki shorts and a white button-down Oxford shirt with the sleeves rolled up, he also wore a whistle around his neck for no other reason than aesthetics. A red bandana flirted insolently out of his back pocket.
He put one hand over his eyes, shading them from the bright sun. With the other, he motioned to the gangplank, calling in a loud voice, “Welcome to Virtual Tours. I’m Mitch, your tour guide for this leg of the voyage. This way, ladies, please watch your step. The boat will be leaving in five minutes. Take your assigned seats. The number on your ticket corresponds to the seat number, clearly indicated on the front of each chair. Can I help you, ma’am? That’s right, third seat on the left. You’ll have a magnificent view of the island as we cruise by Redhook.”
When all the tourists were boarded, he waved to the captain and jumped into the cabin. He strolled down the aisle, making sure everyone was seated. Pausing in front of a woman wearing a red sundress, he flashed a brilliant smile. “Hello, Rhonda. I saw you in the sending room at the tour headquarters. I hope you have a pleasant trip. If there’s anything you need, don’t hesitate to ask.”
Rhonda blushed and leaned over to the woman next to her. “My, isn’t he a nice-looking man?”
The woman smiled at her in a conspiratorial manner. “They’re all gorgeous! The Virtual Tours Agency goes out of its way to please their clients, in this case overworked career women, like us.”
“I still can’t get over it. I feel exactly as if I’m sitting on a boat, speaking to you. I can even smell suntan lotion, sea air, and the diesel fuel from the boat’s engines. I’m having a hard time believing it’s all an illusion!” Rhonda gave an amazed laugh.
“Okay, I’ll prove it. What seat are you in?” the woman asked.
“The first seat on the left, window seat, with plenty of leg room and a superb view. Why do you ask? You’re sitting right next to me, in the aisle.”
“No, dear. I’m sitting in the first seat on the left, next to the window, and you’re sitting on the aisle. We both asked for the same seat, and the Virtual Tours gave it to us.”
“Well, I’ll be! I’m Rhonda, by the way, from Nashville. You must be a regular virtual-traveler. It’s my first trip,” she said with a nervous smile.
“My name’s Veronique. I’m from Paris,” she said. “If you have any questions, don’t be afraid to ask. I’ve been doing these trips for three years now, once every six months.”
“That’s wonderful.” Rhonda settled back in her seat. “Oh, look at that view! The sailboats in the harbor, the sunlight sparkling on the waves and the islands in the distance, it’s all so romantic. I can’t wait to get to Tortola. I’m staying in the Sea Cow Hotel. Are you staying there too?”
“No, I’m going on to Virgin Gorda, but I’ve been to the Sea Cow. It’s wonderful. Ask for the stuffed grouper, it’s divine.”
“How do they make everything seem so real?” asked Rhonda.
“Everything is real, in a way. Even this boat, the ‘Bomba Charger’, is an actual ferryboat making its way from St. Thomas to Virgin Gorda, stopping in Tortola. It’s extremely sophisticated from what I gather, which is why virtual tourism costs nearly as much as a real trip does.”
“It’s a two-week adventure, with all food and drinks included in the deal!” quoted Rhonda.
“You’re getting everything intravenously, chérie, don’t forget. And in reality, it only lasts for two days. On your virtual trip, you won’t sleep but a few minutes a ‘night’, although you’ll feel as if it’s been a full, eight hours. We won’t get stiff either; electrodes take care of stimulating our muscles for us while we sleep.”
“I know,” Rhonda giggled. “I was nervous when they explained that part to me. I hate thinking of my body lying back at the institute, with all those wires and tubes in it. But I always wanted to go to the Caribbean, and this seemed like the perfect plan.”
“It’s a great idea. Especially for people like me, who work practically non-stop. You cram two weeks into only two days. I feel so refreshed after these trips. I’m even more relaxed and toned than after a real vacation, believe me. The scenery is unspoiled, no waiting in dreary lines, and we can do anything we want from scuba diving to hang-gliding in total security. Our guides take care of our slightest wish.”
“Our slightest wish?” Rhonda felt a spark of interest and twisted in her seat to get a better look at the blond man. “Do we get to ask them out on dates?”
“No!” Veronique shook her head emphatically. “You can’t even get near them. I’ve tried, believe me. But they don’t let you touch them; it’s against Tour rules. It’s frustrating, especially at the beach, when they’re strolling around in their bathing suits.” She sighed. “But there are other people. I’ve met a few other tourists and even dated one for a while after I got back from the virtual trip.”
“You exchanged names and addresses?”
“And he wasn’t, you know, disappointed?” Rhonda asked.
“Why?” Veronique sounded amused. “Don’t tell me you’ve chosen a virtual body for your trip?”
Rhonda nodded, reddening. “I’m not as young as this! When the tour operator asked for a photo of me, I sent them one of me in my twenties. I wanted to feel young again. It’s amazing what the brain can do. I feel as if I’ve gone back in time.” She hesitated a moment. “Forgive me if I’m being rude, but…is that your real body?”
Veronique shrugged. “Give or take a few pounds, wrinkles and gray hairs. It’s true our brains can imagine us young again, but we can’t choose a completely different body. It would be impossible to keep up the illusion. As soon as we saw something that captured our attention, we’d change back to the body our brain was familiar with. That’s why the tour guides are all so young and handsome in real life, too.” She winked at Rhonda. “You’ll meet many people on your virtual trip. The trick is learning which ones are real and which are simply computer-generated images. There’s nothing as embarrassing as finding out you’re flirting with a figment.”
“That’s what people created from a computer program are called. Real people’s projections are called virtuals.”
Rhonda was dismayed. “How can I tell the difference between a figment and a virtual? I thought everyone was based on a real person!”
“Well, figments usually wear white uniforms. The best way to be sure is to ask, but if you don’t want to appear rude, just ask if he’s been on many trips before. A figment will reply that he’s part of the program.”
“I can’t thank you enough for your advice,” said Rhonda. “Can you touch someone in this, um, world?”
“Of course. Try, touch my arm!” Veronique grinned, patting her arm.
Rhonda reached over and touched her forearm. She could feel everything-the woman’s skin, her gold bracelet and even the fine hairs on her arm. “Amazing,” she murmured. “How do they do it?”
“Sensor devices, implants. It’s all done through the brain, all highly sophisticated. You’ll taste the food, feel the sand on the beach, splash in the ocean and burn in the hot sun. The only thing that isn’t the same is making love.” Veronique lowered her voice. “As you probably have heard, it’s a Net prohibition. It’s about as exciting as filing your nails.”
OK – I wanted to add that the whole first chapter is on excerpt at my website http://www.jennifermacaire.com – just click on ‘My Books’ and ‘Virtual Murder’