Sunday, December 30, 2012


BLONDE DEMOLITION is free today and tomorrow. Please go down load it

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Free book

Last day to get my thriller Incendiary for free. (Dec 26).

Friday, December 21, 2012

Luke Murphy

Excerpt from Dead Man`s Hand

In a pool of sweat, he shot up in bed. "Jesus!"

Pain bolted through his swollen right knee, but the emotional pain from a shattered ego hurt even worse. It was the same pain and nightmare that had visited him many nights over the last four years. He was the only one to blame for USC's humiliating loss and his own humiliating personal downfall.

Removing the sweat-soaked sheets, he hobbled across the room, dodged the strewn clothes on the floor, stepped into the bathroom and quietly closed the door behind him. He flicked on the light and squinted as the sudden brightness blinded him. Then he reached for the bottle of Percocet, his loyal companion in these isolated, agonizing nights.

He shook three of the blue painkillers into his hand, his steady diet of Percs. When he couldn't get enough from his doctor, he bought extras from a dealer. He downed the pills, chasing them with a mouthful of water. They would take some time to kick in, but relief was on its way. The drugs, along with his secret hopes and plans, were all that kept him from slipping over the edge.

He used his hands on the vanity to hold his weight and stared into the mirror. At twenty-six, he already had the hair and face of a stranger.

"You should let your dreadlocks grow long," his boss suggested. "More intimidating."

The patchy facial hair was Calvin's decision. The overall effect was menacing—just right for his line of work.

His sharp brown eyes, which at one time had won him glances from beautiful women in college, were usually hidden behind dark sunglasses. Unseen eyes were intimidating too and when he took them off to stare at a victim, he could use his eyes to look like a madman.

He closed them now and shook his head in disgust. "You look like shit. Hell, you are shit."

The press had certainly thought that, four years ago. Always ready to tear down a hero, they had shown no restraint in attacking him for his egotistic, selfish decision and obvious desire to break his own school record. One minute he was touted as the next Walter Payton, the next he was a door mat for local media.


What happens when the deck is stacked against you…

From NFL rising-star prospect to wanted fugitive, Calvin Watters is a sadistic African-American Las Vegas debt-collector framed by a murderer who, like the Vegas Police, finds him to be the perfect fall-guy.

…and the cards don't fall your way?

When the brutal slaying of a prominent casino owner is followed by the murder of a well-known bookie, Detective Dale Dayton is thrown into the middle of a highly political case and leads the largest homicide investigation in Vegas in the last twelve years.

What if you're dealt a Dead Man's Hand?

Against his superiors and better judgment, Dayton is willing to give Calvin one last chance. To redeem himself, Calvin must prove his innocence by finding the real killer, while avoiding the LVMPD, as well as protect the woman he loves from a professional assassin hired to silence them.


Luke Murphy lives in Shawville, Quebec with his wife, two daughters and pug.

He played six years of professional hockey before retiring in 2006. Since then, he’s held a number of jobs, from sports columnist to radio journalist, before earning his Bachelor of Education degree (Magna Cum Laude).

Murphy`s debut novel, Dead Man`s Hand, was released by Imajin Books on October 20, 2012.

For more information on Luke and his books, visit:, ‘like’ his Facebook page and follow him on Twitter!/AuthorLMurphy

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Authorsday: Lia Davis

Interview and Giveaway with Lia Davis

How did you pick the genre you write in?

I’d always loved creative writing. When I started reading paranormal romance about four years ago, I fell in love with the genre. That was also when my muse perked up and said, “Hey! We can do this.”

Now I’m working on two paranormal romance series and loving the worlds far more than I’d believed I would. What was the best writing advice someone gave you?

Write what you love to read. Write EVERY day, even if it’s only for 30 minutes. And join a critique group. Writers are awesome people and great for support.

If you have a day job, what is it?

I do have a day job. I have a BS in accounting and currently work in the accounting/finance department for a vendor management software company.

What do you consider your strengths in terms of your writing?

My ability to create lovable and believable characters. I write them as they come to me.

What do you consider your weakness and what strategies do you use to overcome it?

Grammar and vocabulary. I use to struggle with reading and spelling when I was in school. But I’m learning, and I have the app on my phone.

What’s your favorite food?

Pasta! And anything chocolate.

What’s your favorite thing about your book?

I love the interaction between Khloe and Jagger.

Who is your favorite character in your book?

Khloe is in this one. She’s fun and I never really know how she’s going to react to something.

What was the hardest scene to write?

I still have a hard time writing the love scenes. They take me the longest to write.

What was your favorite scene to write?

Fight scenes. I love the fast pace and the action.

Thank you so much for having me. It was a pleasure being here.

Title: Death’s Storm, The Divinities, book 2

Author: Lia Davis

Technical genius and demi-goddess--aka Divinity--Khloe Bradenton relies on no one for help, and she definitely doesn’t need comfort from anyone other than her twin. After her parents died by the demons’ hands over two years ago, she has graciously stepped up to her place in the war between demons and witches. When a creature far more dangerous than the ones responsible for killing her parents claims he is her guardian, she is torn between her desires for the dark predator and the painful loss she has endured at the hands of her enemies.

One of the last death demons still in existence, Jagger has pledged his life to the Goddess Hecate. Charged with the guardianship over the Divinities, he is never to approach them, but to aid them from a distance. When the firestorm, Khloe, sacrifices herself to save her twin and best friend and becomes the prey, he has no choice but to reveal himself to her. He is taken by surprise when the need to claim her as his own emerges. A desire he has never felt before could be more dangerous than the demons out to destroy them.

Now Available at Amazon | B&N | ARe | Kobo

Author Bio:

Lia Davis is a mother to two young adults and two very special kitties, a wife to her soul mate, a paranormal romance author, graphic designer, and co-owner to Fated Desires Publishing, LLC. She and her family live in Northeast Florida battling hurricanes and very humid summers. But it’s her home and she loves it!

An accounting major, Lia has always been a dreamer with a very activity imagination. The wheels in her head never stop. She ventured into the world of writing and publishing in 2008 and loves it more than she imagined. Writing and designing are stress relievers that allow her to go off in her corner of the house and enter into another world that she created, leaving real life where it belongs.

Her favorite things are spending time with family, traveling, reading, writing, chocolate, coffee, nature and hanging out with her kitties.

Author website | Fated Desires Publishing | Books Amour | Heartthrob Haven Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | G+
Lia will be giving away a swag pack to TWO lucky commenters. Please be sure to leave your email address in your comments.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Christmas Dare

by Joan Chandler

Self-professed Christmas addict Gia Dixon, and by-the-book Ethan Castle have been best friends all their lives. When tragedy strikes Ethan’s family, Gia’s the rock he depends on to pull him through the darkest days. Then, a shared, long-forgotten memory leads to an unexpected yet tender kiss. Can a simple Christmas dare help them find true love?


Funny how times had changed, Gia thought to herself. How was it possible to have gone all these years and not have thought of him romantically? Yet now all she wanted to do was steal a minute alone to kiss him again. Or more.

She saw headlights coming down the road and opened the door, preparing to walk out to meet him.

“No, ma’am,” she heard Ethan call out. He was already getting out of his Jeep and motioned for her to turn around and go back inside.

She was unsure what to make of it, but did as he asked. Then she heard the doorbell ring. Slowly she opened the door, and saw his smiling face. She backed up a step to allow him to walk inside.

“We may be taking things slow, but I’m still going to do it the right way. When I ask you out on a date, I’ll park and come to your door. If this were seven years ago and you were living at home, your dad would have kicked my ass if he ever caught me letting you just walk out to the curb to get in my car.”

Gia could easily recall the many times her father had complained about that when other boys had done it to her.

“How right you are. My mistake.” She laughed. “From now on I’ll expect to be courted properly according to the Henry Dixon Dating Manual.”

“Besides, stealing a quick moment alone behind closed doors gives me the opportunity to do this.” He pulled her into his embrace to softly kiss her.

When their lips parted, she commented, “I don’t think Daddy had that in mind when he made up that particular rule. But you score extra points for showing initiative.”


AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Joan Chandler is a Florida native who has lived in the Deep South all of her life. She is married with two children who are her pride and joy. She lives a double life of sorts, holding down a nine-to-five job during the day, and writing steamy romance at night—often with her black cat curled up in her arms as she types.

When she’s not spending her spare time working on her next novel, she loves to go camping, sharing girls’ night out with her friends, walking her two dogs, and watching football.

Twitter account: @joanchandler1
Find me on facebook: Joan Chandler
Previously published works are Perfectly Imperfect, and No Regrets. Both are available at:
Barnes & Noble:
Joan will be awarding a $25 Amazon or Barnes & Noble gift card, winner's choice, to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour, and a $10 gift card to Bath & Body Works to a randomly drawn host.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

ExcerpTuesday: Jodie Pierce


The Queen is once again ruling her subjects only this time it is a school for the ‘different’ children in Scotland. A school full of vampires, witches, warlocks, elves and fairies, one that is feared and hated by all who attend. A new group of witches and warlocks show up to her gates and cause all kinds of havoc within the school. Vampires and witches are at odds and only a few can see the survival of the school. An ancient lover and the Queen are reunited but at what costs? A new, as well as an old lover unite to attempt to take the Queen off her throne. Will it work? Will the Queen maintain her horrendous rule over the students? Can the spells woven work and change history? All will be told in the end.


The people of the land considered you condemned if you entered The Queen’s Land. Children who were different were sent here for an upbringing designed to nurture their abilities. The children it The Magikal Vampire Kingdom and were terrified of going there. They often hid their abilities as long as possible so as not to be disparaged in this place. Students came to her school for guidance and segregation from humans and their homes around the continent. Many traveled several days and nights to get there on horseback or by car for the more wealthy families, most without the love and support from their parents and family. They felt doomed and alone until they arrived and found others like themselves. They found a common bond that they otherwise would never have had.

The vampires stayed to themselves. The rest of the students were too scared to befriend them, so they had their own group…minus the fairies, who also kept to themselves. They were obsessed with flying and had no time for outsiders or distractions. So, finally, the witches, warlocks and elves teamed up for a volatile marriage. Nonetheless, they each learned from the others in many different ways and of course, academically. They knew the rumors of the place being hell for children. Once you entered, you rarely came out for one reason or another.

The Magikal Vampire Kingdom tried to mimic what they could of the human world, so as to be prepared should the humans finally accept them. The school could not have a ton of students, running around like crazy, acting inappropriately and ultimately scaring their new friends. Upon being taken into the Queen’s Land, each student would be marked with a bite mark tattoo on the inside of the right bicep. It was as if the Queen herself personally put her mark on every one of them. It was a mark that could never be removed or hidden from others. Even as an adult, the mark would still be present and label you as an outsider in any community you entered. It was a mark that told others you were special and to be avoided at all costs. Consequently, most students tended to stay at the school as long as possible, even as adults, and became advisors or teachers.

Author Bio:

Jodie Pierce is thirty-seven years old and lives with her hubby, John in Cleveland, Ohio along with four beautiful step-children. She has had a fascination with vampires since they were introduced to her as a child and has had a long history with them. It wasn't until she started reading the Anne Rice vampire books that she was truly inspired. She was an exchange student in Brasil in high school so you can find some of her experiences from there in her stories. Many of her stories have historical or researched facts as she also enjoys research and learning about new places. She has published four short novels(Eternal Press), a short story in "Midnight Thirst 2", an anthology(Melange Books), has three self-published books and has several short stories that she still works on. She's always busy with the next great vampire story as her mind is non-stop and even plagues her dreams.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Holiday Blog Hop

The holidays

When I was a kid, every New Year’s we were either at my Uncle Paul’s house in Maryland or he and his wife were at our house.

Sometimes my Uncle Eddie would be there with his family, too. If we stayed in Maryland, I got to stay with Uncle Eddie because he had kids. Cousins!!! We played marathon games of War and when electronic football first came out, we played marathon games of that. We would manage to shove 15 people at a table that only sat 8. When I try to do this my DH doesn’t get it. This was what I grew up with. It’s normal to me.

Ah. Good times.

These days my house is the gathering place. My sister and her husband drive up from North Carolina. My DH’s brother drives in from Michigan. My nephew makes the trek from Minnesota and every other year, my other nephew and his wife come in from Alaska.

A house full. And I love it. Everyone cooks or cleans up. No one pulls any more weight than anyone else.

Best of all, we all like each other. I am so lucky to not have any drama at holiday time.

Excerpt A View to a Kilt

“There’s a pack of reporters out there.”


Gazing past him out the two sets of glass doors, she saw the news vans. Damn. She bit her lip, glancing from him to the door. She sighed. “Is there another way out?”

He nodded and she found herself following the man. She took two steps, then stopped short. Am I crazy?

He turned to look at her.

“What? The other door is this way.”

“Who are you?”

He smiled and saluted. “Gus Macpherson, a friend of Lieutenant Bob Carnes.”

Her eyes narrowed, but he looked like the type of friend Bob might have. With his erect posture and constantly scanning eyes, “Cop” might well have been stamped on his forehead. She looked around the hallway then back at Gus. “If you touch me, I’ll scream.” Just in case she assessed him incorrectly.

He put his hands up. “These will not come anywhere near you.”

“Okay, lead on.”

He continued in the direction he had indicated earlier. Some part of her brain registered a nice butt in worn jeans. The thought went no further. The tall man led her through the emergency department, down a hallway to the Main Entrance.

She stopped by the door, arms crossed. “Won’t there be reporters, here?”

The redhead shook his head. “Take a look.”

No news vans.

“You’re right,” she said, but when she looked up the man had disappeared.

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Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Autumn Jordan

Thank you, Chris, for hosting me today. I guess we’re here to talk about romance novels.

Why do millions of readers—I say readers because men actually makeup a good percentage of romance readers— head to their favorite book store each week and purchase books? I know why I do. Because I want to be whisk out of my world and become engrossed in a story about the meeting and growing relationship of two people.

A plot is very important, but a story with the simplest of plots can become a best seller if the characters come to life. Bringing them to life is a writer’s priority and we do that through emotion.

In my recent release, Seized By Darkness, I dug deep into the emotions I felt for my mother, my father and my children. Why those relationships? Because Seized by Darkness is about a young

girl of sixteen, on the cusp of starting her life, disappearing. She is kidnapped off the street she walked every day. I drew on a realm of emotions I would feel if I had experienced a similar circumstance. I actually sat in a dark sectioned of my basement, listening to silence, and thinking about my family and how my disappearance would affect them. They’d search. My mother, who is a sweetheart, would be broken hearted and my father who has always been the protector would feel as if he’s failed. And he wouldn’t know how to comfort my mom.

My chest tightened and I could barely breathe as my thoughts turned to my children. I honestly don’t know if I could keep it together if one of them were abducted.

After some reflecting, I decided to begin Seized By Darkness with Nicole eight years after she was snatched. She now has a son from the Russian mafia monster that plucked her, as a virgin, from the trafficking mill and has kept her as his own. Nicole is strong, the way I hope I would be. She has never given up hope that she would be free and she’ll do anything to have her life back and ensure her son will not grow into a monster like his father.

She is also fragile. Nicole hopes not, but wonders whether her family has forgotten about her. Her faith has been broken. And, she knows, without a doubt, that no man will ever look at her, much less love her, after she has been made a whore.

Enter U.S. Marshal William Haus. He is the man fairytales are made of. Strong, intelligent and has a heart the size of the Utah salt flats and just as warm. You thought I was going to say drop


dead handsome, but you can see that he is without a doubt fine. But, Will has issues of his own, and as Nicole and he work to bring down the trafficking ring, his feelings for Nicole grow and he has no choice but to face his past.

Emotional? Yes, Seized By Darkness is filled with passion, mine.

If you’re a writer, how do you discover your character’s emotions? And if you’re a reader, do you have any comments or questions?

Seized By Darkness is available from Amazon and B&N in both digital and print format.

Amazon UK:
Amazon USA:

BLURB for SEIZED BY DARKNESS (material is copyrighted):

The old air conditioner, which did little more than act as a fan pushing warm air into the room, rattled in the window, pulling Nicole from a fretful sleep. Under her long hair, sweat beaded the nape of her neck. She stretched and peeled away from the damp sheet under her. Through heavy lashes, she noticed a boot tapping the air at the base of the single-sized bed and her heart shot into her throat. Clutching the sheet to her bare breasts, she rolled and scrambled to the opposite side of the bed, only to be pinned, faced-down onto the mattress by the intruder.

“Let me go.” She thrashed and kicked back, striking air. Her breasts squished into the mattress springs. She ignored the pain, reached behind her, and grabbed fists filled with the assailant’s long hair. With all her might, she yanked hard.


She winced, her ear ringing with the attacker’s cry.

He dropped his weight from his elbows, forcing the air from her lungs. His fingers locked around her wrists and tried breaking her hold on him. “Damn, Katrina. Stop pulling. You’re ripping my hair out.”

Every muscle of her body went stark still, except for her eyes-they widened. “Will?” Over her shoulder, she peeked through her auburn strands and caught a glimpse of Will’s cheek plastered against her bare shoulder.

“Yeah. It’s me. Christ. Now let go.” His hot breath caressed her sensitive skin, sending tingles down her spine.

Nicole became aware of the softness of his hair between her fingers, his musty scent bombarding her nostrils on the cusp of each sharp breath she inhaled, and every inch of his hard body pressing against her backside. Warmth pooled between her legs and she closed her eyes against her body’s reaction to him. “You first.”

He let go of her wrists.

Nicole slid her arms close to her body and pushed against the mattress, trying to topple his weight from her, so she could roll over, but he kept her pinned in place.

The discounted, thin sheets she’d bought at the local Dollar-Mart and his clothing were the only barrier between his hot flesh meeting hers. The knowledge caused the room to grow warmer. “I let go. Now get off of me.” She bucked against him. A mistake. She laid still.

“Not until you tell me what were you reaching for?”

“What?” She glanced at him and then scanned the nightstand next to the bed. “Nothing. I don’t have a gun if that is what you’re thinking. I was just trying to get away.”

“Not until you promise me you won’t try to run.” Will arched up and bore his weight on his elbows. His strong thighs held her legs in place while his hard ridge pressed against her backside.

She fisted the sheet below her, trapped her lip between her teeth, and wrestled with the fire mounting low in her belly. Not to go dizzy with want, Nicole remained still. “I’ll scream if you don’t. My landlord has great hearing, and, he has a huge shot gun.”

“You don’t want to do that.”

She struggled to push up on her elbows again. “Why not?”

“I’ll have no choice but to flash my badge and haul your ass out of here, sheet optional.”

“Ha. Ha.”

“I’m glad you find the situation funny,” his warm breath caressed her neck.

She struggled against his weight and her desire for him. “I mean it. I’ll scream.”

“Go ahead. I doubt anyone will hear you.”

Brushing her hair from her face, she peeked over her shoulder and saw amusement dancing in his eyes. “Why’s that?” she asked between clenched teeth.

“Your landlords, Malcolm and Hilda Handwerk, they’re near eighty and both have hearing aids. Also, about twenty minutes ago, they left to go to the market and their closest neighbor is a half a mile away.”

“How do you know who my landlords are?”

“It’s my job to find shit out.” His warm breath tickled her ear. “Now, if you promise not to run, I’ll let you up. We need to talk.”

She sighed. Her breasts flattened against the lumpy mattress as she caved. “What choice do I have?”

“We all have choices. Take your time. I’m quite comfortable.”

Without seeing his face, Nicole knew Will grinned——from ear to dimple. Frustration should be what she felt, but with Will’s hard muscles pressed against her backside, frustration wasn’t the term she’d use to describe her condition. She’d never wanted a man before, but from the moment she’d laid eyes on Will she had wondered how delicious having him inside her would feel. If she rolled over under him, she could experience a man she truly wanted. She felt Will’s hard reaction to her and knew he wanted her too.

But doing so would cement the notion in Will’s mind that she was indeed a whore. She didn’t want that. She closed her eyes and took in the memory of his body on hers—that would have to be enough. “I promise. Now, please, let me up.”

“I knew you were a smart lady.” The bed springs creaked and the air surrounding her cooled as Will pushed himself up and stepped back off the bed.

To learn more about Autumn Jordon please visit
(All pictures have been purchased by Autumn Jordon for the use in promotion of Seized By Darkness)

Monday, December 10, 2012

The Next Big Thing

The Next Big Thing Blog Hop

I was invited by Willa Blair to join the blog hop The Next Big Thing. Go check out her blog post. Here are my answers to the questions.

What is the title of your next book?


Where did the idea come from for the book?

Someone once told me a story idea they had about a police photographer who was an arsonist. If there is a series of arsons, the police take pics of the crowd watching the fire. If they spot someone in all of the pictures, that is probably the arsonist. But what if the arsonist was the person taking the pictures? So my question, was what if the person starting the fires was the person investigating the fires?

What genre does your book fall under?


Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Josh Brolin for the hero. Amy Adams for the heroine.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

A firefighter and an EMT must join forces to stop a serial arsonist.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency? Or are you with a publishing house?

It is published with Imajin Books.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

Three months.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Demolition Angel by Robert Crais

. Who or What inspired you to write this book?

I am fascinated by fire and investigating them.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

The hero is a firefighter. Enough said.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Authorsday: Sally Carpenter

1. How did you pick the genre you write in?

I’ve written nonfiction, science fiction and plays but mystery is the genre where I’ve had the most success getting published.

2. Do you plot or do you write by the seat of your pants?

I plot. I need to know who done it and why and the ending so I can make the clues and red herrings fit and work up to the climax. To me, writing like taking a trip: you can plan out the route in advance and get there quickly and efficiently, or start driving aimlessly and end up in the wrong direction or at a dead end.

3. What drew you to the subject of “The Baffled Beatlemaniac Caper?”

I love the book “Bimbos of the Death Sun,” which is about a murder at a science fiction fan convention, and I love the Beatles, so I thought, why not a murder that takes place at a Beatles fan convention?

4. Did you encounter any obstacles in researching it?

No. I already knew about The Beatles from reading about them and playing their music for years. My protagonist is a former teen idol, and I had attended teen idol concerts and collected records. I read autobiographies by several real-life teen idols and that helped tremendously.

5. What was the worst advice you’ve gotten? Did you know it at the time?

When I finished my book, the first one in the series, someone told me that publishers don’t buy the first book you’ve written and that I should write another one with the same character. But I eventually published this book.

6. Why did you pick the publisher that ultimately published your book?

My experience is that agents and larger publishers were not open to unpublished authors, and that getting an agent was a long and arduous task, so I looked at small presses that took new, unagented authors. I heard about Oak Tree Press from the Sisters in Crime listserv. OTP loves new authors.

7. If you have a day job, what is it?

I work in the editorial department of a weekly community newspaper. I process press releases, proofread, write headlines and photo captions, layout the ads and occasionally write local play reviews.

8. What do you consider your weakness and what strategies do you use to overcome it?

I procrastinate. A deadline will get me moving.

9. What’s your writing schedule?

Because of my day job I write in the evenings and weekends. I try to write a scene at a time. I handwrite first drafts and then type them into the computer and revise.

10. What place that you haven’t visited would you like to go?

Vatican City and also England.

Author Bio:

Sally Carpenter is native Hoosier now living in Moorpark, California

She has a master’s degree in theater from Indiana State University. While in school her plays “Star Collector” and “Common Ground” were finalists in the American College Theater Festival One-Act Playwrighting Competition. “Common Ground” also earned a college creative writing award. “Star Collector” was produced in New York.

Carpenter also has a black belt in tae kwon do.

She’s worked as an actress, college writing instructor, jail chaplain, and tour guide/page for a major motion picture studio. She’s now employed at a community newspaper.

She’s a member of Sisters in Crime/Los Angeles chapter. Contact her at Facebook or

Book Blurb:

In the 1970s, teen idol Sandy Fairfax recorded ten gold records and starred in the hit TV show “Buddy Brave, Boy Sleuth.” Now he’s a 38-year-old recovering alcoholic, desperate for a comeback. He takes the only available job offer, a guest appearance at a Beatles fan convention in the Midwest. What looks like an easy gig turns deadly when a member of the tribute band is shot and the police finger Sandy as the prime suspect. Sandy starts sleuthing to find the killer while filling in for the deceased musician at a concert and dealing with the fans.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

ExcerpTuesday: Judy Alter

A big-box development, an injured husband, and a stalker. Kelly O’Connell has her hands full in Trouble in a Big Box.

I remember September 2, 2010 clearly. Mike called about eleven and asked if I wanted to meet him for lunch. For him, it would be breakfast. Mike is a patrol police officerand works the late afternoon and evening shift, so he usually gets up around ten in the morning. We agreed to meet at eleven-thirty at the Old Neighborhood Grill, before it got crowded. When I got there, Mike had already secured a booth and ordered. We talked about the girls and their school activities. Maggie was showing promise in ballet, which Mike said would make her walk funny the rest of her life, and Em was taking great pride in her art work, which was probably above average for second grade, not that that’s saying much. And we talked about how our beloved Fairmount neighborhood was getting back to normal after being held hostage to fear of a serial killer who targeted older ladies. We neither one mentioned that my mom and I came close to being the final victims of Ralph Hoskins. There was no need to talk about it.

Mostly, we were happy. We were newly married, young—at least young in heart, since we were both soon headed out of our thirties. But we had become a family with my two daughters, Maggie now ten, and Em, now seven. We were in love, and we were happier than two people have a right to be. Maybe I should have recognized that, but neither of us had any way of knowing that Mike was about to be fighting for first his life and then his mobility, I would be stalked by a vengeful enemy, and a big-box store would threaten our idyllic Fairmount neighborhood. No, for the time, all was peaceful, and I assumed it would stay that way. Foolish optimism on my part. It’s not just being married to a police officer that gets me into trouble. It’s me.

After lunch, we parted—me to go back to my office, O’Connell and Spencer Real Estate, and Mike to get ready for his patrol. He kissed me on the nose and turned toward his car. I simply stood and watched him walk away, thinking what a lucky female I was. I will always remember the way he walked that day, because it would be almost a year before I saw him walk unassisted again, and he never again walked with the same casual self-confidence


Kelly O’Connell has her hands full: her husband Mike Shandy is badly injured in an automobile accident that kills a young girl, developer Tom Lattimore wants to build a big-box grocery store called Wild Things in Kelly’s beloved Fairmount neighborhood, and someone is stalking Kelly. Tom Lattimore pressures her to support the big box, and his pressure turns to threats. Kelly activates a neighborhood coalition to fight the project and tries to find out who is stalking her and why. Mike is both powerless to stop her and physically unable to protect her and his family from Lattimore’s threats or the stalker. After their house is smoke-bombed and Kelly survives an amateur attack on her life, she comes close to an unwanted trip to Mexico from which she might never return.


An award-winning novelist, Judy Alter is the author of three books in the Kelly O’Connell Mysteries series: Skeleton in a Dead Space, No Neighborhood for Old Women, and Trouble in a Big Box. With Murder at the Blue Plate CafĂ©, she moves from inner city Fort Worth to small-town East Texas to create a new set of characters in a setting modeled after a restaurant that was for years one of her family’s favorites.

Before turning her attention to mystery, Judy wrote fiction and nonfiction, mostly about women of the American West, for adults and young-adult readers. Her work has been recognized with awards from the Western Writers of America, the Texas Institute of Letters, and the National Cowboy Museum and Hall of Fame. She has been honored with the Owen Wister Award for Lifetime Achievement by WWA and inducted into the Texas Literary Hall of Fame at the Fort Worth Public Library.

Judy is retired after almost 30 years with TCU Press, 20 of them as director. She holds a Ph.D. in English from TCU and is the mother of four grown children and the grandmother of seven.

Follow Judy at or her two blogs at or

Friday, November 30, 2012

Melissa McPhail

I would like to thank Chris for generously hosting me on his blog.
“The louder he talked of his honor, the faster we counted our spoons.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

I’m fascinated by the concept of honor. One of the reasons I love writing fantasy is the prevalence of themes like honor and nobility and the myriad ways in which different authors explore these ideals.

In Cephrael’s Hand, my character Trell remembers nothing of his previous life prior to waking in the Emir’s palace in Duan’Bai five years ago. Honor is the only thing Trell has had to hold onto in the intervening years, and this shield of honor has become a reflection of his sense of self. His greatest fear is that he once led a dishonorable life, and he suffers beneath this dread because his sense of honor is all he has left.

Trell’s character offers me a chance to explore honor in many forms, yet it’s not only through Trell that we touch upon this theme in Cephrael’s Hand. Indeed, every character faces some test of their integrity—or many of them—as the story unfolds, even as we do in our daily lives.

Honor is a word people often have difficulty defining except by giving examples. As a fantasy author, this fact intrigues me. It makes me wonder if indeed the word can’t be adequately defined without applying it toward an action.

Like good and evil, honor is a word best understood through exploration of our choices and viewpoints. Is it possible that what seems honorable to one man might appear treacherous to another? Or is honor an absolute, looking the same from all sides? Can honor be a curse and dishonorable acts open us to salvation? Or does the violation of one’s honor inevitably turn a twisted path to our own eventual ruin? How do we determine what's honorable when even the noblest of intentions can lead us astray? Good and evil, right and wrong, honor and dishonor…these concepts reflect iridescent shades of gray. How do we define them in an absolute, black and white sense when they depend so heavily on the mores of the group involved to delineate them?

These are the kinds of questions I ask myself, and they're the types of issues my characters also face. I see fantasy as a metaphor for life in this world, and I seek with my novels to create a reality where realistic characters struggle with real problems—problems that anyone might face at some point (though perhaps without such potential life or death outcomes). Honor requires exploration—even in our own lives, it can be a difficult mountain to summit. Tackling such subjects in a fantasy setting allows us to look at difficult concepts far removed from our own daily struggles, giving them a new cast, a different perspective. It allows us to view the world from a distance and learn from (or pass judgment) with impunity. And if we take some lesson from a character’s struggles and apply it to our own lives, all the better.

Being able to explore the many facets of honor as it plays out against a fantastical backdrop is just one of a host of joys in writing (and reading) fantasy.


"All things are composed of patterns..." And within the pattern of the realm of Alorin, three strands must cross:

In Alorin...three hundred years after the genocidal Adept Wars, the realm is dying, and the blessed Adept race dies with it. One man holds the secret to reverting this decline: Bjorn van Gelderan, a dangerous and enigmatic man whose shocking betrayal three centuries past earned him a traitor's brand. It is the Adept Vestal Raine D'Lacourte's mission to learn what Bjorn knows in the hope of salvaging his race. But first he'll have to find him...

In the kingdom of Dannym...the young Prince Ean val Lorian faces a tenuous future as the last living heir to the coveted Eagle Throne. When his blood-brother is slain during a failed assassination, Ean embarks on a desperate hunt for the man responsible. Yet his advisors have their own agendas, and his quest for vengeance leads him ever deeper into a sinuous plot masterminded by a mysterious and powerful man, the one they call First Lord...

In the Nadori desert...tormented by the missing pieces of his life, a soldier named Trell heads off to uncover the truth of his shadowed past. But when disaster places him in the debt of Wildlings sworn to the First Lord, Trell begins to suspect a deadlier, darker secret motivating them.


Melissa McPhail is a classically trained pianist, violinist and composer, a Vinyasa yoga instructor, and an avid Fantasy reader. A long-time student of philosophy, she is passionate about the Fantasy genre because of its inherent philosophical explorations."

Ms. McPhail lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, their twin daughters and two very large cats. Cephrael's Hand is the multiple award-winning first novel in her series A Pattern of Shadow and Light.





Twitter @melissagmcphail


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Thursday, November 29, 2012

Authorsday: James R. Callan

1. When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

I had planned to be a writer when I was in college, and I took a degree in English. But after graduation and marriage, I found I could not support a family writing. So, I went back to graduate school in the field of mathematics. That led to a thirty year detour, until one day I said, “All the kids are out of school and self-supporting.” And I returned to my first love, writing.

2. How did you pick the genre you write in?

I read in a lot of areas, but my favorite is mystery / suspense. So, that’s mostly what I write in. I wrote some non-fiction books at first because that’s what I knew, what I’d been doing for thirty years. But now, I pretty well stick to mystery / suspense.

3. Do you plot or write by the seat of your pants?

I plot. I am not tied to the plot, but I need a structure to really get started. Of course, once into the book, it often takes turns that were not in the original plot. It may end differently – a different solution, different bad guy. And that’s okay with me. But, I start with a plot.

4. How many rejections have you received?

I can’t count that high. But not so many lately.

5. Describe Cleansed by Fire?

Churches are burning and a man is murdered, plunging a small Texas town into a state of fear. Father Frank DeLuca, pastor of Prince of Peace Church, is thrust into an impossible dilemma when he hears that another church will be burned. But the disturbing information comes to him via the confessional, and church law forbids him from telling anyone—even the police.

He doesn’t know which church, when, or by whom. Still, he can’t sit idly by, and no law prevents him from looking into the matter himself. The crimes have set the town’s residents on edge, fraying the bonds of trust. Is the mysterious newcomer with ties to the drug scene involved? What about the man who says maybe the churches deserved to burn? Or the school drop-out into alcohol and drugs who attacks the priest with a knife?

Countering this are a young widow whose mission is to make others shine, and a youth choir determined to help those whose churches have been destroyed by the arsonist.

Father Frank’s investigation leads him dangerously close to the local drug scene and he soon discovers the danger has come to him. Can he save his own church? Can he save his own life?

6. What was your favorite scene to write in Cleansed by Fire?

There have been a couple of encounters between Fr. Frank and a big, burley man named Harley who has said that maybe the churches deserved to be burned. Finally, Harley catches Fr. Frank as a gas station and challenges him to “fight like a man.” While Fr. Frank is tempted, he knows fighting would send the wrong message to the teenagers watching. So, he suggested an arm wrestling match. Harley takes him up, sure of a quick victory. But Fr. Frank played college basketball and has stayed in good shape. The match stretches out with neither man able to gain the advantage for quite some time. It was a fun scene to write.

Of course, the one, short scene written from the point of view of the arsonist was satisfying to write, and I think I caught the mind-set of the arsonist.

7. What do you do when you’re not writing?

I read, work around our property, and travel. Oops, most important, I spend time with my wife.

8. What is your favorite quote?

“The fault … is not in our stars, but in ourselves, that we are underlings.” From Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare.

9. What is your favorite food?

Ice cream, of most any variety.

10. What is your favorite writing reference book?

A good thesaurus. In a ninety or ninety-five thousand word book, it’s easy to use certain words over and over. And while I have a good vocabulary, sometimes it helps to have my memory jogged for a different word. I keep a large thesaurus within arm’s reach of my computer keyboard.

James R. Callan’s books can be found on Amazon at:
His website is href="1.
His blog is at href=""> and he blogs each Friday, often interviewing an author.


After a successful career in mathematics and computer science, receiving grants from the National Science Foundation and NASA, and being listed in Who’s Who in Computer Science and Two Thousand Notable Americans, James R. Callan turned to his first love—writing. He wrote a monthly column for a national magazine for two years, and published several non-fiction books. He now concentrates on his favorite area, mysteries, with his sixth set to be released in 2013.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Authorsday: Jonnie Jacobs

1. How long have you been writing?

I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember and even sent a short story to Seventeen Magazine when I was in 8th grade. (It was rejected.) But I didn’t start writing seriously until I was on maternity leave twenty plus years ago. The first book I wrote garnered lots of rejections and has never been published. The next book was Murder Among Neighbors, the first in my Kate Austen suburban mystery series and was published in 1994. Since then I’ve published thirteen mystery novels and multiple short stories.

2. How did you pick the genre you write in?

I write mystery novels — the Kate Austen suburban series, the Kali O’Brien legal thrillers, and two non-series books. As an attorney, I’m intrigued by the way that a given set of facts can support two or more plausible scenarios about what happened. Mystery novels are like that. We read to get to the bottom of the puzzle, to past the misdirection and learn the truth about what actually happened. And I like the fact that in fiction, we actually do get to the truth. Real life is sadly less precise. I think of the mystery as the bones on which to hang the human drama that’s key to all storytelling. So character, relationships, past secrets and such are as important to me as plot.

3. What drew you to the subject of your most recent book, Paradise Falls?

Paradise Falls is the story of a woman whose teenage daughter disappears, and what it does to her family when she suspects her seventeen year old stepson of being responsible. It is also the story of the female detective whose own daughter was murdered some years earlier. The starting point for this book was the notion of divided loyalties in blended families, and I tried to come up with a situation that would pose a major challenge to the various relationships. I was also drawn to the idea of missing and murdered children. As a parent, I can think of nothing worse, and I’ve often found myself working through my own fears in my books.

4. Do you plot or do you write by the seat of your pants?

I am definitely in the “seat of your pants” camp, although not by choice. I would love to be able to plot it all out ahead of time but find that I can’t. Until I’m into the story, living what’s happening alongside the characters, I can’t imagine what will happen next or how they will react. I did once manage to plot a book, and while it was actually a pretty clever plot, by the time I’d finished the outline I’d lost all interest in the story. Writing it felt like connecting the dots in one of those children’s games. That book never got written.

I don’t think there’s just one way to work. Authors need to find what works for them. And it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. While I don’t plot, I do usually have some vague notion of the direction of the story when I start and it becomes more refined the further along I go. I can usually plot out a chapter or two ahead of myself so I’m not working totally in the dark.

5. What was the best writing advice someone gave you?

There are actually two pieces of advice that have helped me. The first is to read widely (especially in your given genre) and to read critically. Note how successful authors handle plotting, transitions, dialogue etc. And note what doesn’t work for you, as well. The other piece of advice was to write a first draft without worrying too much about word choice or even the fleshing out of a difficult scene. Once you have a book down on the page, you can (you must) go back and revise, rewrite, edit etc.

6. What do you do when you are not writing?

When I started out, my non-writing time was devoted to family (my children and husband, and of course, errands and housework.) Now that my kids are grown and my husband is retired I have a much more flexible schedule, which is both good and bad (bad because we travel often and it’s harder to find time to write.) I love the out of doors – hiking and skiing in particular. I’m also a quilter and novice knitter. And a big, big reader.

7. Have you experienced writer's block? If so, how did you work through it?

Some days I am really into the story and the words come easily. Other days, I have trouble getting words on the page. If I’m having trouble with a scene I will sometimes just start typing, a sort of stream of consciousness to myself. Why am I having trouble here? What is the character feeling and why? What’s the worst thing that could happen to her? Another trick is that I’ll put two (or more) characters on the page and let them start talking. This isn’t generally dialogue I’ll end up using, but it helps me get back in touch with the characters, which for me are what drive the story. The key is to get the words and thoughts flowing and re-connect with my characters.

8. What do you consider your strengths in terms of your writing?

I struggle with plot, but dialogue comes more easily. In fact, my first draft of a scene is often nothing but dialogue. I have trouble thinking in the abstract, but once my characters are interacting with each other and whatever is happening, I begin to flesh out how the action with proceed. Some authors are visual. They say they see their book almost as if it’s unfolding like a movie. I tend to hear my book. I hear the characters talking and then I build in the setting.

9. What do you consider your weakness and what strategies do you use to overcome it?

As I noted before, plotting does not come easily to me in the sense that I can’t work a plot out in my head until I’m moving through it. This means I do a lot of rewriting and tweaking. I also have trouble with “little” things, like moving a character from one place to another. If it’s a big move, I’ve learned to just make a scene break and move to the new scene. But getting a character out the front door or from bedroom to the kitchen is sometimes a real challenge!

Another difficulty is that I’m a wimp at heart. I have a hard time with anger and I hate putting my characters in danger, even when I know they will be okay in the end. And it’s almost impossible for me to write a truly evil character. I know such people exist, but try as I might, I end up “humanizing” my bad guy (or gal).

10. What do you enjoy most about writing?

When I was young I enjoyed playing with dolls and making up stories about them. When I was in high school I sometimes made up books to write book reports about (even though I was an avid reader). Now I get to make up stories for real. The characters do what I want them to (nobody else does), they say what I want them to say, and I get to work things out the way I want (not always true in the real world.)

Paradise Falls

Caitlin Whittington is the second girl in the town of Paradise Falls to disappear. With her daughter's disappearance, Grace Whittington makes some unsettling discoveries about her stepson, Adam. When she uncovers information that implicates him, the fault lines of a happily blended family crack.

Detective Rayna Godwin, hampered by memories of her own murdered daughter, suspects that there is more to the string of unsolved disappearances than meets the eye.

Paradise Falls is the story of a family torn apart by divided loyalties and a dedicated detective who meets her worst fears head on.


Jonnie Jacobs is the author of thirteen novels, including the newly released, Paradise Falls. She is an active member of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, and has served on the Edgar awards committee. She is a frequent lecturer on both the craft of writing and the world of mystery fiction. A former practicing attorney and the mother of two grown sons, she lives near San Francisco with her husband and now writes full time. You can visit her on the web at

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

ExcerpTuesday:Gerrie Finger Ferris

The Last Temptation

Bradley Dewart Whitney strode into the small room adjoining the judge's chamber like he'd come through the curtain on a catwalk to model his expensive summer suit. I expected him to swirl, he had that kind of narrow-eyed smirk. If it wasn't for his tanned forehead being too high, he would have been GQ perfect. He hadn't spared his bucks on hairdressers, either. He was layered and highlighted, blond and artfully tousled. I resisted the impulse to brush back my own brown strands which hadn't seen scissors in six months.

A gleam grew in his gray eyes. I'd given him the once-over, and, evidently, he thought I liked what I saw.

I got to my feet and stuck out a hand. "Good afternoon, Mr. Whitney." I'm nearly six feet tall and he was a little shorter.

His fingers brushed my palm. "Good afternoon to you, Moriah Dru." He pursed his lips and laid a forefinger in the cleft of his chin. "Dru is an abbreviated form of Druaidh – the ancient Druid priesthood – the guardians of the old faith."

Did he have this knowledge filed in his brain, or had he done research on me? I said, "Daddy never told me that."

He pointed the forefinger toward the ceiling. "Ah, but you're a descendant, Miss Dru – it's apparent in your fair skin and shining blue eyes."

Usually, I tell anxious new clients to call me Dru, but I didn't see much anxiety in him. "Have a seat, Mr. Whitney."

Before he sat, he looked at the chair as if it had cooties on it. Why the word cooties came to mind is a mystery because I don't deal much with children. I work with parents or guardians because their kids are long gone.

He sat and folded one knee over the other, then plucked at the crease of his pants to make sure it hung freely down his leg. He shot his shirt cuffs and adjusted his collar. I waited. He could begin whenever he finished his grooming. He flicked at hair falling on his forehead, then leaned forward as if he remembered why he was here. "We are being confidential, are we not?"

"Of course."

"No reporters, no other snoops?"

"Not unless you call the judge a snoop."

His mouth twitched. "We must have her, I suppose."

I picked up the first item in the file, a photograph of a beautiful blonde woman and her look-a-like daughter. "I'd like to go over the basics with you." His eyes didn't blink when he nodded. I continued, "Kinley's eight years old. You're her custodial parent. She was visiting her mother, Eileen Cameron, in Palm Springs, California. She was scheduled to come home Sunday afternoon."

The Last Temptation

Kinley Whitney and her mother, Eileen Cameron, have vanished from Eileen's Palm Springs home. Kinley's custodial father, Bradley Whitney, lives in Atlanta, and through the court, hires Moriah Dru to find and bring his daughter home. He's a rich academic and right away, Dru senses something amiss with him. Where did his money come from? Dru's lover and partner, police Detective Lieutenant Richard Lake looks into his records.

The investigation takes Dru to Palm Springs where she meets a host of glitzy suspects, including Dartagnan LeRoi, a cop; Arlo Cameron, a Hollywood B-movie director, married to Eileen; Heidi, Arlo's widowed next door neighbor; Eileen's hairdresser, a cross-dresser named Theodosia; a donut-maker named Zing; an Indian princess Contessa (Tess) Rosovo, who befriends then betrays Dru; and Phillippe, a self-styled Phony Frenchman who claims he's a Cardon Bleu chef. Phillippe says everyone in "The Springs" is an actor. He certainly is.

So is Tess. She makes a mistake when she takes Dru to a moon lodge for a ceremony. Dru sees a young girl in a wig. Tess notices Dru's attention to the girl and poisons Dru with datura. Dru wakes up on the high desert floor during a monsoon and nearly dies.

Bradley fires Dru, who goes back to Atlanta. A PI named Bellan Thomas comes to her office. He's looking for Eileen, who'd hired him to dig up dirt on Whitney so she could gain custody of Kinley. Bellan wants to team up with Dru if she'll pay him for his information. Dru pays and learns how corrupt Whitney is

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Authorsday: Elaine Orr

How long have you been writing? I wrote simply for pleasure for years, and in the mid-1980s I started taking classes, initially in play and screen writing. I wrote with the intention of selling at some point, but didn't have a timeframe. I wish I had set one earlier.

What was the best writing advice someone gave you? The late Davey Marlin Jones was director/movie critic for decades. I took some classes from him at the Writer's Center in Bethesda, MD. It's pretty basic, but one evening when we were peppering him with questions he just looked around the room and said, "You know they call them shows, not tells." Anytime I get too wordy I think about that.
What was the worst? Did you know it at the time? The 'write what you know' business. What I know is boring. Half the fun of writing is picking a setting or subject that you can learn something about as you write, or prepare to write. I didn't know squat for years, so I didn't know it was not the best advice for me.
How did you pick the genre you write in? I think cozy mysteries picked me - though that's not all I do. My mother read all the women mystery writers of her day -- Mary Stewart, Phyllis Whitney, Victoria Holt, some Agatha Christie. Then she'd see an article about how no one had eggs delivered to their door anymore and she'd say something like, "That's too bad. If you were writing a mystery you could deliver messages in the egg cartons." So I guess I was introduced to the genre early.
How many rejections have you received? I could paper a bedroom, or a New York efficiency. These are largely books prior to the Jolie Gentil series. For a long time I kept the rejections, especially any that offered encouragement. At some point I decided that there was something to learn from the process, but it dealt more with publishing than writing. About six years ago I stopped sending anything out, and just wrote what I wanted.
Why did you decide to self-publish some of your fiction? I've published nonfiction with a traditional publisher, and it's neat to work with industry professionals and have someone besides me market my book. Mostly I picked a setting (New Jersey beaches) and developed characters I wanted to work with over time, and I let some of my characters have a sense of humor similar to mine. This is what I'm going to write for now, and I knew the Jolie Gentil series probably would not sell millions of copies, so why might a publisher buy it? If I were 30 I might be willing to shop it around for a good while, but I'm 60, and I didn't feel like waiting. I realize that sounds a bit arrogant, as if I assume a publisher would want the books if I just pushed hard enough. I enjoy what I write, and people do buy the books. Of course, all of this is possible because of e-books and print on demand. I would never have considered loading up my garage with 50 boxes of books and driving across country to sell them.
Do you inject any real-world events in your books? Interesting question, especially now. I had a low-grade hurricane in Any Port in a Storm, and I'm considering using the aftermath of Sandy in a future book. It is a life-changing event for the Jersey shore, and my early thinking is that I would trivialize it by ignoring it.
Who is your greatest cheerleader? Hands down, my sister, Diane. But I'm still mom's favorite daughter. My husband's supportive too, but I've known her longer.
What three things would you want with you on a desert island? Ice cream, ice cream, and chocolate ice cream.

Bio and blurb stuff

Elaine L. Orr has written fiction and nonfiction for many years and introduced the Jolie Gentil cozy mystery series in 2011. Her fiction varies from cozy mysteries to coming-of-age stories to plays. Her nonfiction includes material on caring for aging parents and carefully researched family history books. Elaine grew up in Maryland and moved to the Midwest in 1994. Any Port in a Storm is the fourth in the Jolie Gentil series.

Any Port in a Storm

Jolie Gentil heads the Talk Like a Pirate Day fundraiser for the food pantry and tries to learn who's breaking into the houses she appraises. A newcomer to Ocean Alley is leading high school kids into trouble in those houses. Jolie's mad and lets folks know it. When a corpse turn up under the makeshift pirate ship, Jolie's looking like a suspect. And who wants a murder suspect appraising their house?

Jolie and reporter George Winters try to solve the murder and learn who wants to frame Jolie. Plus, Jolie has to put up with Scoobie's pirate limericks and Aunt Madge's blossoming love life. And what about her own?

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

A Bridge to Treachery

From Chapter 23 A Bridge to Treachery - Larry Crane

Lou got to his knees and scrambled under the trailer toward Frawley’s body. He reached across him, for his carbine. Immediately, the police threw another fusillade of fire. Lou was caught in the middle of the searchlight beam. He scrambled back to safety behind the tire as bullets screeched around him, careening off the concrete in a shower of sparks, miraculously failing to ignite the gasoline. By the weight of it, he judged the magazine of the carbine to be almost full. Back toward the center of the bridge, the police cars were creeping forward. Lou crouched behind the front tire of Mack West, gathering his strength for a sprint. He got to his feet and plunged out into the darkness adjacent to the bridge railing. He pumped his legs with all of his strength. He saw the dark form of his drenched jacket in the roadway ahead.

The headlights of the approaching squad cars created angular shafts of light through the wheels, undercarriage, and stanchions of Mack East and the three-quarter ton full of napalm drums. He dove for his jacket, grasping the machine beneath it in both hands. He whirled the handle once; nothing. Then again, harder. Again. On the third twist, the center of the bridge seemed to heave up in a ball of yellow and crimson flame. A thunderous roar enveloped the bridge and sent shocks through the girders and the concrete surface, throwing Lou to his back.

Globs of thickened aviation gasoline arched through the night--clearing the overhead cables—and then plunged to the inky river below. The massive ball of flame slowly rose off the surface of the roadway and engulfed the cables and lights above.

Lou got to his feet and turned back toward the western end of the bridge, racing back toward Mack West. For nearly a full minute, the center of the bridge was aglow with intense seething light; yet no one fired at him. He went right to the truck, hugging the side of the roadway and the railing. The air in his lungs seemed to swell in his chest until he couldn’t catch his breath. And still no one fired.

Back in the shelter of Mack West, Lou sank to his knees behind the front tire. The entire bridge and the mountains on either side of the Hudson were lit by flaming napalm that now stuck to the overhead cables and slowly dripped in globs of orange flame to the roadway. He’d stopped them. He became aware of the pulsing, rug-beating throb of helicopter blades. He looked out to the north of the bridge and saw a military HU-1B hovering at the level of the roadway, its landing lights gleaming. Red lights flashed on the tail boom. He was receiving no fire. The cops must have been holding off to keep from accidently hitting the chopper or firing into their comrades closing in from the east side.

Slowly the craft moved forward, dipping its nose and gaining altitude. It ascended above the bridge, swinging back to the eastern side. Thirty seconds later, Lou heard throbbing directly overhead. The chopper hovered out in front of him, by the traffic circle, and descended to the ground. There was no firing. It was the perfect time to go.

He reached the end of the railing. Instinctively, he veered to the right, across the narrow strip of grass. He dove headlong into the underbrush, still holding the carbine. He crawled on all fours over roots and rocks and under bushes and low hanging branches that grabbed at his weapon and held him back. He reached the cut.

It was steeper than he thought. He started down the embankment on his rump, warding off boulders and stumps on his way down with his feet, but soon he began tumbling and sliding in a cascade of rocks and water. The pool at the bottom was not deep and it was no colder than the rain.

At first, it was absolutely black in the cut. Gradually his eyes adjusted, but there was no moon and no reflective surfaces to magnify what little light existed. He was shielded from the open ground a hundred and forty feet above him at the level of the bridge. He heard no sound except the splashing of water at his feet and his own deep breathing. The rain still came down steadily, unrelenting. For that he was thankful. It would mask all of his movements. There wasn’t much time. He didn’t know if they’d seen him dart off under the cover and confusion of the helicopter landing. The only thing to do was to strike out west, shielded from view until he was far from this place.

“Hello...” he heard from the other side of the stream. It was a half whisper. “Is it you?”

“Come over here,” he said softly. “Over here. I’m holding out my hand.”

He heard her stumble into the water and stifle a screech. Then his hand was holding hers; pulling her across. She rushed to him, clutched at his shirt, and wrapped her arms around him.

“You don’t look dead,” she said.


Former Colonel Lou Christopher is an ex-Army Ranger retired from the military and contentedly working as a New York investment broker. After being assigned a number of lucrative accounts and becoming accustomed to living the good life, he discovers there is a pay back. His former military skills are requested under a threat of losing everything he has.

Handed a group of misfits to assemble into a military strike team, he is coerced into leading the team on a mission of domestic terrorism. At the center of a bridge outside of Manhattan, his strike team is caught in the act and unexpectedly becomes engaged in a deadly firefight. It's then that he learns the mission was a political maneuver from the highest levels of the U.S. Government-and ultimately realizes he has been betrayed by his superiors. Learning his team was considered nothing more than collateral damage and intended to be killed and left as scapegoats, he uses his unique military expertise and engages in a fight for his life.

As the strike team is decimated, he and a female teammate elude the opposition forces to survive and escape, turning the tables on his superiors. Using his distinctive set of military skills, he now becomes the hunter and vows to extract his revenge and bring them all down.


Transplanted to Maine mid-westerner Larry Crane brings an Illinois sensibility to his writing. Larry graduated from West Point and served in the Army before starting a business career on Wall Street. His writing includes articles for outdoor magazines, plays, short fiction, and his most recent thriller novel, A Bridge to Treachery. In his spare time, Crane is a hobbyist videographer for his local Public Access Television Station and is a volunteer at his local historical society. Larry and wife Jan live in splendid isolation on the coast of Maine.

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Thursday, November 8, 2012

Authorsday: William Shepard

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

This was an early realization, and had to do with storytelling. Around a campfire, I was always engrossed in what a storyteller had to say. It almost seemed like magic. I had an uncle who was a gifted storyteller. He and my aunt had foster children, and when anyone misbehaved, the worst punishment was that the child was sent to bed, after dinner but with no story! That led to a fascination with storytelling, which only grew when I eventually realized that a writer could actually invent the stories being told! It was a new world.

How did you pick the genre you write in?

The genre I write in, diplomatic mysteries, didn’t exist, so I invented it! The best advice that writers are often given is to write about what they know. I was a career diplomat for twenty-five years, and it struck me that a diplomat with a talent for sleuthing could span two cultures, solving crimes while his day job is at an American Embassy. It seemed crucial to write about places I had actually served in, for authenticity of background. That is why I have written about Bordeaux, Budapest, and now about a trip by the Secretary of State to six European capitals aboard Air Force Two. The genre grows and becomes more familiar with each book, and of course, continuing characters help weave the overall story together.

Describe your book.

The first book in the series, “Vintage Murder,” is set in Bordeaux, Paris and Washington. Robbie Cutler, my protagonist, is assigned to the American Consulate General in Bordeaux, where I served as Consul General. The Basque terrorist ETA organization is beginning to terrorize the great vineyard owners of Bordeaux, and Robbie Cutler helps solve the puzzle of who is behind the killings that ensue. For readers who like a sophisticated mystery with more than a touch of old fashioned romance, this is an inviting beginning to the diplomatic mystery series.

What’s your writing schedule?

I write in the weekday mornings, Monday to Friday, and often use the weekends to polish or expand what I have written during the week. My goal is one chapter per week. But to get that far, I first plot the entire book, in very general terms. That gives an idea where we are headed, and keeps the overall plot on track. After the first draft I polish the book, chapter by chapter, at least once, probably twice, or more for more compelling chapters. All of this takes perhaps 6-9 months. My wife then reads the book and gives an overall reaction, with particular attention to matters of continuity. It’s better to find out right then, that the store owner I had in chapter 4 aged 40 has mysteriously become 65 in the next chapter, which takes place the following week!

What authors do you admire?

Balzac is a great author who pushes emotions and events to their logical conclusion, which is often to extremes, and he is a master storyteller. He lived at a time when society was collapsing and reinventing himself. That may be why his plotlines are so contemporary, and why his characters are strangers to compromise. He would have been very comfortable, I think, with the plotlines of the television series “Dallas.” And Charles Dickens had a far ranging imagination. In “Nicholas Nickleby,” for example, he surfaces and leaves more plotlines than the average gifted writer could use in a lifetime! When, 150 years or so later, a poor person has the temerity to ask for “More, please,” everyone who is literate recognizes the reference. That is immortality for a writer.

What other time period besides your own would you like to experience?

Tudor England, particularly under Elizabeth I, must have been a fascinating place, and terribly dangerous. It was a great age of discovery and travel, as England struggled to join Spain as a great power. I refer to this period several times, in the back story of the fourth diplomatic mystery, “The Saladin Affair.” The established religion in a generation became almost a badge of treason! The Tower was always ready to welcome those who weighed the shifting currents of power incorrectly. Yes, it would be fascinating to experience that age of adventure – but I wouldn’t want to have been a permanent resident there!

What do you do when you are not writing?

We live on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, and I greatly enjoy crabbing. As a dinner treat with a chilled glass of good white wine, that’s a gourmet treat! We like to attend summer theater and concerts, and are regulars at the twice a year dinners of our local Sherlock Holmes Society. That’s probably where I got the idea to write some new Sherlock Holmes and Professor Moriarty adventures in my Ebook, “More Coffee Break Mysteries: The Sherlock Holmes Edition.”

What is the one thing your hero would do that you wouldn’t?

In the fifth book of the Robbie Cutler Diplomatic Mystery series, now being written, Robbie volunteers for a TDY assignment in Afghanistan, tracking the Taliban. It’s uncertain at this point how he emerges safely, if he does. I had two assignments in wartime Saigon, but I doubt very much that I would have volunteered for Kabul (which I have visited, incidentally).

What was the hardest scene to write?

In the second book of the diplomatic mystery series, “Murder On The Danube,” a wounded freedom fighter is packed off in a train towards Russia with other freedom fighters (this actually happened). Since he is in a surreal atmosphere, and sliding in and out of consciousness, I decided to write this chapter in stream of consciousness. It fit perfectly, the mood and perception of what such a person would have been going through.

What was your favorite scene to write?

In the third book, “Murder In Dordogne,” Robbie is confronted with a former French Nazi named Dorlot, and must find out what he knows in order to advance his investigation. Dorlot keeps trying to drag Cutler into his perverse world, and Robbie must resist, while mining Dorlot’s memories to solve an actual crime. It was an enjoyable chess game, which advanced the plot colorfully and realistically.

William S. Shepard’s Series of Diplomatic Mysteries

Now residents of Maryland’s Eastern Shore, the Shepards enjoy visits from their daughters and granddaughters, fine and moderate weather, ocean swims at Assateague, Chesapeake Bay crabs, and the company of Rajah and Rani, their two rescued cats.

Prize winning mystery writer William S. Shepard is the creator of a new genre, the diplomatic mystery, whose plots are set in American Embassies overseas. That mirrors Shepard’s own career in the Foreign Service of the United States, during which he served in Singapore, Saigon, Budapest, Athens and Bordeaux, in addition to five Washington tours of duty.

His diplomatic mystery books explore this rich, insider background into the world of high stakes diplomacy and government. His main character is a young career diplomat, Robbie Cutler. The first four books in the series are available as Ebooks. Shepard evokes his last Foreign Service post, Consul General in Bordeaux, in Vintage Murder, the first of the series of four “diplomatic mysteries.” The second, Murder On The Danube, mines his knowledge of Hungary and the 1956 Revolution. In Murder In Dordogne Robbie Cutler and his bride Sylvie are just married, but their honeymoon in the scenic southwest of France is interrupted by murders.

The most recent of the series, The Saladin Affair, has just been released as an Ebook. Robbie Cutler has been transferred to work for the Secretary of State. Like the author once did, Cutler arranges trips on Air Force Two – now enlivened by serial Al Qaeda attempts to assassinate the Secretary of State, as they travel to Dublin, London, Paris, Vienna, Riga and Moscow!