Thursday, March 29, 2012

Authorsday: Jackqueline Corcoran

1. When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
At seven years old, my mother tells me that I announced I wanted to be a writer.

2. How long have you been writing?
I started a novel when I was 17 but didn’t finish it. I finished my first novel when I was 20 and have written about 15 novels since then, but didn’t get published in fiction for 28 years after I started. That’s persistence!

3. How did you pick the genre you write in?
When I started out, I was still a teenager, so I wrote YA and middle-grade fantasy, but I turned to mysteries when I started reading mysteries – in my mid 20’s.

4. Do you plot or do you write by the seat of your pants?
I try to plot, but end up writing a lot by the seat of my pants. Each method has its advantages and disadvantages, but it’s hard not knowing what to write next.

5. What drew you to the subject of Backlit?
I’ve been around for awhile now and have had many adventures. This describes one part of my life when I was a lot younger.

6. Did you encounter any obstacles in researching it?
I always have some difficulties with the legal aspects of my stories. Luckily, my husband is a lawyer, so he referred me to a friend who could answer some of my questions.

7. What was the name of the first novel you wrote? Did you try to publish it?
My first novel was called A First and Last Choosing, and I did try to publish it in the days when you sent everything by post with self-addressed, stamped envelopes. It was never published.

8. What do you know now that you are published that you didn’t know pre-published that you wish you knew?
There is a lot more writer support now than there used to be. Critique groups and online support abounds, but those were the days before personal computers. I typed my first manuscripts on a regular, old typewriter. If the support had been available, I would have had more eyes on my work earlier.

9. How many rejections have you received?
Hundreds probably since they spanned over 28 years, and I still get rejected!

10. What was the best writing advice someone gave you?
I don’t know if I have a single best piece of writing advice. I learn all the time from writing itself, from reading craft books, and taking online classes.

Author Bio:
I was born to Irish and Welsh parents in England, but I’ve lived in the U.S. for most of my life – in California, Michigan, Texas, and now in Alexandria, Virginia with my family. In addition to my non-fiction, I’ve published Time Witch (middle grade fantasy, Solstice Publishing), A Month of Sundays (mystery, Whimsical Publications), and Backlit (mystery, Etopia Press). I have a YA mystery Memoir of Death coming out in May 2012. I am a blogger on Downtown YA, and my website is

Book Blurb: When photographer and Miami topless bar waitress, Liz Volpe, believes she has found the love of her life in federal public defender, Jules McAdams, she is shocked to wake up on his lawn one morning to find that he is dead and that she has been accused of his murder. Even as she doubts her own innocence, Liz must find the real killer or face life in prison.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Script vs Novel


It’s been said, for good reason, that the play is an actor’s medium, television a producer’s medium, film a director’s medium, and the novel a writer’s medium. With the exception of one’s editor, the author of a novel pretty much has free reign and the final say in how he or she wishes to tell a story.
Writing for film and television is different than writing a novel or a play. In a play, the story is essentially revealed through the characters’ dialogue. Even under the guidance of a director, it is the actor who ultimately conveys the essence of the play. (This was true, incidentally, in old-time radio as well).

In a novel, the author can rely on a combination of narrative and exposition to lay out the story. A visual medium, however, is just that. Visual. Here, the old axiom “show don’t tell” strictly applies.
For example, in a novel, a young, resolute ballerina might say, “I realize this is hard work, but I’m determined to make dancing my life’s work no matter what it takes.”
On film she’d say nothing. Instead, we’d see her removing her wrinkled waitress uniform and change into a leotard. She’d twist her long pony tail into a bun before sitting down and removing her shoes. We, the audience, would watch her slip worn ballet slippers over feet that are bruised and discolored. She’d walk into the dance studio, take a deep breath, and begin a strenuous dance routine. Her determination to dance despite all obstacles would be revealed without so much as a line of dialog.
A script can go on for pages without dialog. To some writers, this might seem easy. Personally, I find it challenging. My strength is in writing dialogue (I would love to have been a writer on one of those old radio shows). I preferred script writing for the soaps as opposed to writing story breakdown. I also find it more natural for me, in writing a mystery, to include a lot of dialogue in addition to exposition.
Writing a screenplay is a trickier proposition for me. I find that I have to constantly remind myself to convey a scene with as little dialogue as possible. I would probably have an easier time adapting a screenplay to a novel than I would adapting a novel into a screenplay.
Another thing to keep in mind is that to a film director, a screenplay is often no more than a blueprint. He (or she) will interpret the story as he sees fit even if that means completely overhauling the script. In contrast to a novel, a screenplay or a teleplay is usually a collaborative effort.
At the end of the day, whether one is writing a play, a novel, or a screenplay, it is imperative to keep in mind the particular medium for which one is writing.

Vivian Rhodes is a published mystery novelist, Emmy-nominated television writer, and connoisseur of all things mysterious. Her recently republished novel, Groomed for Murder is available as an e-book on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Vivian lives in Los Angeles and writes about all things nostalgia- from film noir to vintage toys- on her blog, Rhodes Less Traveled.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Masquerade Crew is sponsoring a mega giveaway!!!

Their adventure started a little more than six months ago. Since they posted their first author-requested review on October 1st, they're going to officially celebrate their six month blogaversary between now and April 1st, which is the first day of the A to Z challenge. They encourage you to come back for that because for 26 days in April they're going to post writing tips from some of their followers.

In the meantime, they're kicking off this party with a mega giveaway. Roughly half of the authors of their 5 star reviews have agreed to give away copies of their books. This is your chance to win up to 8 free books. Click on the book covers to go to their review.">" width="182" align="right" />


A Soul to Steal
by Rob Blackwell

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Spirits Rising
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Everything I Tell You Is A Lie
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Blood Passage
by Michael J. McCann

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Friday, March 23, 2012

Author Career Planning

Author Career Planning: What, Why and How Much?

The publishing industry has gone through a lot of changes since I first published. My first ebook was published in 1999 (it was on a disk!) and my first print book came out in 2001. I've written for traditional publishers, independent presses and e-publishers around the world and I think the biggest career mistake I made was not having a career plan.

It's difficult to make a career plan when you don't have the all the answers. For example, when will you make that first sale, or the one after that? Who is going to be your publisher? You just don't know. Release dates can be moved forward or pushed back, lines fold, editors leave, or the publisher suddenly stops buying your lighthearted paranormal and now only want dark romantic suspense. What can you do?

Not much. But here are some things you can answer when putting together a career plan:

1. What are you writing?

What emotional experience do you offer to the reader? Do you write sexy? Sweet? Scary? Cozy? Funny? Sad?  Can you deliver this in every story you write? Also, know your core story and the themes that frequently pop up in your work. This is something you can carry over if you change sub-genres or write different story lengths.

2. Why are you writing?

Define your goals and see if they align with your work schedule and your projects. Your goal doesn't have to be the bestseller lists. Do you want to receive special recognition, like a contest win or rise in your publisher's hierarchy? Perhaps your goal is to quit your job so you can write full-time. Start planning now. Find out if you can make enough income each year from writing by reading Sabrina Jeffries' "The Big Misunderstanding about Money" or Brenda Hiatt's "Show me the Money"

3. How much do you want to write?

Decide how many books you can comfortably write in a year and find a publisher that is ideal for your output. Most traditional publishers would like a minimum of one book every 9 - 12 months. Some publishers not only want a trilogy, but they want to publish it in three consecutive months. Harlequin wants at least three books a year from their authors.

If you are very prolific and your publisher only wants one book from you, you're going to be unhappy. Decide if you want to write for more than one publisher and how you can do it. Do you want to self-publish as well? Factor in the time it will take to produce, distribute and promote those titles.

While a writer can't control everything in her career, she can still be the driving force. When making a career plan, ask yourself these questions: What do I want to write? What do I hope to gain from a writing career? How much do I want to write? The answers may surprise you!

Bio: Susanna Carr writes sexy contemporary romance for Harlequin Blaze and Mills & Boon Modern. Visit her website at

Book blurb:

Julie Kent is looking for excitement in her life. She wants to save the world -- and earn a cool nickname while she's at it -- but her crime-fighting career has been more paperwork than perps. And if Eric Ranger has any say in the matter, she won't get out of her cubicle!

Eric is a battle-scarred agent temporarily helping his friend's security business. He wants to protect Julie from the world he knows. She reminds him of what he's been fighting for; he's attracted to Julie, but he won't touch her. He even goes so far as to let her think she isn't sexy enough to be a decoy on their current case.

But Julie turns the tables on Eric by making the first move. Trying out one sexy alias after another, Julie finds trouble wherever she turns. And though Eric is determined to be at her side to protect her, now he just can't keep his hands off her….

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Authorsday: Carol Preflatish

  1. What was the name of the first novel you wrote? Did you try to publish it?

The first book I wrote was called "CIA Man." My writing was horrible, but I still love the story. I did send it out to several publishers, but none took it. I've done some revisions on it, but it still isn't ready. I hope to be able to get it published some day because I really think the story is a good one.

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

My day job is working as a Human Services Consultant for State government. I sit at a computer all day reviewing public assistance cases.

  1. What’s your writing schedule?

I try to write for at least 45 minutes over my lunch hour at work. Then, for an hour in the evening, if I'm lucky. The weekends are the best for writing. My husband works on the weekend and that leaves me plenty of uninterrupted time to write.

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

I'd love to go to Colorado and see the Rocky Mountains. I love mountains and would love to go there to photograph them. I'd also like to visit the New England states. I think the pictures I've seen from there look wonderful.

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

I'm afraid I love to watch television, old movies especially and there are a few current shows that I hate to miss. I also love to watch NFL football. When my favorite teams are playing on Sundays, I have to take a break from writing.

  1. Who is your greatest cheerleader?

That would be my best friend, Sandy.  She has been so supportive of my writing; always encouraging me.

  1. What is your favorite writing reference book and why?

I have a very old English Composition textbook that I bought for fifty-cents at a book sale in high school. When I need to reference sentence structure or connecting words, I always check that book. I have no idea what the name of it is.

  1. Where do you write?

Most of my writing is done at my desk at home on my laptop. It's a small desk with very little space available on it right now. I also have an AlphaSmart word processor that is great to take with me when going somewhere. It's much lighter than my laptop and keeps me off the Internet when I should be writing.

  1. What was the hardest scene to write?

The hardest scene I've ever written was in my first book, yet unpublished. It was a fight scene with no dialogue. I had to describe the physical action of the fight and also show the emotions while it was going on.

  1. What else are you working on right now?

I have about four chapters finished on a contemporary romance that is about a millionaire who falls for his personal chef. I'm also working on a mystery series that is police procedural that I am hoping to self-publish. So far, about five chapters are completed with four books plotted.

You are welcome to make up your own questions if you like also. Anything you think will illuminate what you want your readers to know.

Author Bio

Carol Preflatish knew at an early age that she loved to write. In high school and college, her favorite classes were composition and creative writing. It wasn't until after she married and then became a parent that she decided to pursue it seriously. Always loving a good mystery, she's constantly thinking up ideas for future books.

Carol lives in southern Indiana, sharing her log cabin in the woods with her husband and their cat and dog. When not writing, she loves to read, watch football, and go camping with her husband.

You can learn more about Carol on her web site at and on her blog,

Book Blurb:

When writer Jaime Wilson visits Indiana to investigate an unsolved mystery, she finds herself becoming the next target and Sheriff Ben Hunter comes to her rescue. She didn't count on falling in love with him and he didn't think he would have to work so hard to keep her safe.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Review: Murder Unscripted

Murder Unscripted
by Clive Rosengren
ISBN: 9781935797197
a 2012 release from
Perfect Crime Books
111 pages, Trade Paper
Eddie Collins is a sometime Hollywood actor and a part-time investigator. He’s cast in the old style; a loner, divorced, he views the world through plain, cracked lenses. Nothing rose-colored here. He’s an authentic character, one you’d be likely to encounter on Sunset Boulevard. If you made the connection and bought him a drink, Eddie might tell you a story. Like this one.
When the scene opens, Eddie Collins is costumed as a cowboy, perched on a fake rock, chewing on yet another piece of chicken. He’s doing a TV commercial for an enterprise called Chubby’s Chicken. A telephone call to his office sends him, on behalf of his client, a bonding company, to the set of a murder. It turns out the deceased actress is Eddie’s former wife.
The novel benefits hugely from the author’s background. He’s a former theater, film and television actor who has appeared in numerous theatrical films and television dramas. Rosengren uses his considerable experience to infuse the novel with authenticity, but he never slides into the bitterness or the whining of too many journey-actors who made a living but never reached starring level. Eddie Collins has come to terms with his career and that’s why he’s become more of an investigator than an actor.
“Murder Unscripted,” is a short, fast, read, well-plotted and intrinsically solid. The characters are enjoyable to follow and the final emotional twists are logical and just right for the character and the tone of the story. I hope to see much more of Eddie Collins in the near future.
Carl Brookins, Case of the Great Train Robbery, Reunion, Red Sky

Monday, March 19, 2012

Facebook and Goodreads and Social Media, Oh My

Every author should have a Facebook Author Page. It’s a way to interact with fans without letting them see the high school pictures of you that Aunt Thelma posts and discussions with your nephews. The best way to migrate people to the Author Page is to make merchandise and content available to readers that is not available on the friend page.

There are a number of add-ons and tabs that can be added to the author page in Facebook. They are boxes that will show up as part of your newsfeed for the page or they are additional tabs that show up at the top of the page as well. One of these that is easy to use is GoodReads. is a site that catalogues your library as well as what you’re reading now. You can review books, tell others what you are reading and discuss books in general.

GoodReads also has a wonderful giveaway program. You can run contests from the site and specify how many copies you want to give away and how long you want the contest to run. GoodReads does maintain control of the information of their participants, so you can’t add all of these people to your mailing list when you’re done, but you can encourage them to go to your site and join. The program is limited to paper books at the moment, but there is some talk of opening it to e-books as well.

They also include a widget that can be shown on your website or other pages that is a click-through to the giveaway as well. This gets the word out to more people about the contest. It’s a very easy way to have someone else manage giveaways for you.

Since I write biographies as well, I use GoodReads to tell my readers what particular book by the subject I’m reading now. When I recently wrote my biography of Erle Stanley Gardner, all of my readers could see which book I was reading by Gardner and towards the end, I had a contest where the person who guessed when I would finish all the books won some books by Gardner and by me.

Jeffrey Marks is a long-time mystery fan and freelancer.  After numerous mystery author profiles, he chose to chronicle the short but full life of mystery writer Craig Rice. 
That biography (Who Was That Lady?) encouraged him to write mystery fiction. His works include Atomic Renaissance: Women Mystery Writers of the 1940s/1950s, and a biography of mystery author and critic Anthony Boucher entitled Anthony Boucher. It was nominated for an Agatha and fittingly, won an Anthony.  
He is the long-time moderator of MurderMustAdvertise, an on-line discussion group dedicated to book marketing and public relations. He is the author of Intent to Sell: Marketing the Genre Novel, the only how-to book for promoting genre fiction.

His work has won a number of awards including the Barnes and Noble Prize and he was nominated for a Maxwell award (DWAA), an Edgar (MWA), three Agathas (Malice Domestic), two Macavity awards, and three Anthony awards (Bouchercon). Today, he writes from his home in Cincinnati, which he shares with his partner and two dogs.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Blog Roundup

I've read some pretty amazing blogs this week.

Presumed Insane by JA Konrath
Mobile Writing Work Flow
Author Branding Plan
Support for Writer/Artist?

Blonde Demolition

You just can't hide from the past...

Mallory Sage lives in a small, idyllic town where nothing ever happens. Just the kind of life she has always wanted. No one, not even her fellow volunteer firefighters, knows about her past life as an agent for Homeland Security.

Former partner and lover, Trey McCrane, comes back into Mallory's life. He believes they made a great team once, and that they can do so again. Besides, they don't have much choice. Paul Stanley, a twisted killer and their old nemesis, is back.

Framed for a bombing and drawn together by necessity, Mallory and Trey go on the run and must learn to trust each other again―if they hope to survive. But Mallory has been hiding another secret, one that could destroy their relationship. And time is running out.

Buy here:

Amazon in print:

Friday, March 16, 2012

The Best Piece of Writing Advice

Rosemary McCracken, author of Safe Harbor

What was the best piece of writing advice you’ve heard?

I wrote several stories when I was a child. They were pretty awful, and at the age of nine or ten I had no idea how to make them better. So I stopped writing fiction.

If only I’d kept on! My writing and my storytelling abilities would have improved.

Instead, I became an avid reader and went on to study English literature in university. I wrote numerous academic papers, and I was told that I had a talent for putting words together. After university, I decided to become a journalist because that involved writing. And I’ve been writing and editing newspaper and magazine articles for the past thirty years.

            But deep down I wanted to write fiction rather than relate facts. I wanted to create my own stories.

            One day I overheard a conversation between a newspaper editor and a fellow reporter. This reporter was a terrific newshound. She could sniff out a good story and track down wonderful sources. But she had trouble writing a story, building an article out of her wealth of information. She’d get stuck on the first sentence and be unable to continue.

            “Just jump in and start writing,” the newspaper editor told her. “Don’t worry about the opening. You can come back and fix it. Turn off your internal editor, and write down the story as though you’re telling it to me.”

            Turn off your internal editor. The words resonated with me. As a journalist, I never had problems writing articles. I had to write to deadlines, and at daily newspapers, those were usually daily deadlines. I had no choice but to submit the article and move on to the next. I had no time to listen to internal editors when I had editors in the newsroom saying they wanted that article ASAP.

            But I remembered the internal editor I’d listened to as a child, and I realized that I was vulnerable to that voice when I was writing fiction. And that was because I was working completely on my own, without assignments, without feedback and without deadlines.

I decided to take another try at fiction writing.

            I tuned out my internal editor while I was writing. I focused on getting my stories out, sentence by sentence, page by page. Later, the following day or the following week, I revisited these pages with my editor’s voice turned on but firmly in check. I worked on tightening sentences and paragraphs, discarding entire pages if necessary.

I joined a writers’ group that meets once a month, which provides deadlines. I joined networking groups such as Crime Writers of Canada and Sisters in Crime. A few years ago, I left my full-time job at a Toronto newspaper and became a freelance journalist in order to free up more time for fiction writing. I submitted work to literary contests.

Slowly, I made progress. Two of my short stories were published. In 2007, a novel manuscript was shortlisted for Crime Writers of Canada’s Arthur Ellis Award for Best Unpublished Novel. In 2010, another novel manuscript, Safe Harbor, was shortlisted for Britain’s Crime Writers’ Association’s Debut Dagger. And last summer, I signed a publishing contract with Imajin Books. Safe Harbor has just been released as an ebook, and the paperback will be available on April 15.

I’m still vulnerable to my internal editor who likes to compare my writing – unfavorably – with the works of others. I need to tune out these comments, and with practise, it becomes easier to do. The voice will always be there, and it can be useful when I need to edit my work. But it has to be kept under control.


Born and raised in Montreal, Rosemary McCracken has worked on newspapers across Canada as a reporter, arts reviewer, editorial writer and editor. She is now a Toronto-based freelance journalist who specializes in personal finance and the financial services industry.
Rosemary’s mystery novel, Safe Harbor, was shortlisted for Britain’s Crime Writers’ Association Debut Dagger in 2010. It was released as an ebook by Imajin Books earlier this month, and will be available in paperback on April 15.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Authorsday: Alison Bruce

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

One day I sat down on the top step of our front porch and started thinking about what a bitch it would be if the world were to end on such a beautiful afternoon. I wrote my first short story about the end of the world and knew that I'd found something I loved doing – writing. I was twelve at the time. I've often added careers to my life, but I never gave up on that first ambition.

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

One genre? I can't limit myself to one genre! I write Science Fiction, Fantasy, Mystery, Romantic Suspense, Western, Historical Romance, Paranormal Romance... sometime more than one at the same time. The only thing I haven't is what you could describe as General Fiction.

The reason my first book published was a western was because that was the ms I was happy enough with to give to my publisher at short notice. Under A Texas Star was also a finalist in the TextNovel competition.

Deadly Legacy, coming out in April (knock on wood – have I mentioned I'm a tad superstitious?) is a mystery set in the near future. I love a mystery – you'll find one in Under a Texas Star too –  and I love the world building that fantasy and science fiction allow.

3.         What drew you to the subject of Deadly Legacy?

Jake Carmedy and Kate Garrett came to me many years ago in a dream.

Their world developed out of an interview I had with police chief about the future of policing. I extrapolated from that and the trend in business and services to downsize senior personnel and then rehire them as consultants. It was a bit like that day sitting on the porch – I started throwing what-ifs around.

Coming up with a mystery for my detectives to solve was the hardest part. I needed something that would bring private and police detectives together. My mother was the inspiration for that. She dealt with both as an insurance examiner.

4.         Did you encounter any obstacles in researching it?

I'm not a police officer or private detective and there is only so much you can learn from secondary sources. One of the biggest obstacles I had to overcome was finding subjects to interview. I tried contacting departments without much luck. The best result I had was an email from a Toronto homicide detective who pointed me to Practical Homicide Investigation by Vernon Geberth.

Then I was in a car accident. Strapped to a backboard, I gave my statement to an OPP officer. When we were done, he wanted to know if I had any questions. I asked if he knew anyone I could interview for research. He looked at me as if I was crazy, but he gave me a great contact.

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

That was another kind of accident. I approached Imajin Books because they were looking for editors. It just happened to be when the publisher, Cheryl Tardif, was about to put out a call for manuscripts. I sent her my resume and ms at the same time. A week or so later, she let me know that she wouldn't be looking at my resume because she was more interested in my book.

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

Like genres, I've got more than one. I am the Assistant Manager of Crime Writers of Canada and the Administrative Manager of the Arthur Ellis Awards. I'm also a freelance writer and editor and sometimes provide technical support for people who hate technology and have to deal with it anyway.

7.         Who is your greatest cheerleader?

I'm bless with some great cheerleaders. I have friends who have been critically reading my stuff for years. If our books are our babies, they are the godparents. My biggest cheerleaders are my kids, Kate and Sam. Not many ten year old boys will offer to carry around a western romance to show off to his teachers – my Sam did.

8.         What would you like to learn to do that you haven’t?

I learned how to assemble, disassemble, clean and shoot a semi-automatic rifle, and I've handled a Colt 45, which helped writing Under A Texas Star. Now I really want to be checked out on Sig Sauer (standard police issue in these parts) and maybe an assault rifle. 

10.       What was your favorite scene to write?

The hardest scene to write in Deadly Legacy was also one of my favourites. I can't tell you much about it because it comes at the end of the book. One of the legacies referred to in the title is the spirit of Joe Garrett, who's larger than life shoes are left to be filled by his daughter Kate. She makes a good start in that scene.

Now I think of it, the hardest scene in Under A Texas Star was also at the end – for different and steamier reasons.

Author Bio:

Alison Bruce has an honours degree in history and philosophy, which has nothing to do with any regular job she's held since. A liberal arts education did prepare her to be a writer, however. She penned her first novel during lectures while pretending to take notes.

Alison Bruce lives in Guelph Ontario and writes mysteries, westerns and fantasy – not to be confused with the Alison Bruce who live in Cambridge England and writes mysteries, or the librarian in Aberdeen, Scotland.

Book Blurb:

Deadly Legacy, Imajin Books, 2012 (coming soon)

2018: When Joe dies unexpectedly, he leaves his daughter Kate half interest in Garrett Investigations, his last case that ties to three murders, and partner she can't stand.

Jake Carmedy has lost a partner, mentor and friend, but grief will come later. First, he has a case to solve, one that has detoured from a simple insurance case to a murder investigation. If that isn't enough, Joe's daughter seems to want to take her father's place as his boss.

No matter how hard they try, Carmedy and Garrett can't avoid each other and they might be next on a killer's list.

Under A Texas Star, Imajin Books, 2011

Disguised as a boy, Marly joins a handsome Texas Ranger in the hunt for a con man and they must bring the fugitive to justice before giving up the masquerade and giving in to their passion. Inspired in equal parts by Louis L'Amour and Georgette Heyer, Under A Texas Star is a western mystery/romance, with a touch of humour and loads of adventure.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Excerpt from Finding Katie

WHEN I CAME IN with a box, there was Melosa and a very light-skinned woman who looked to be a mix of American Indian and Negro. She stood almost seven feet tall, weighed about ninety pounds, with hair of natural golden-blond. She wore a pair of jogging pants that were too small and looked like a new style of Capri pants. Her blouse looked like the shirt of a uniform, maybe a postal uniform. The sleeves were rolled up and exposed on her right forearm was a dollar-store tattoo of a crack pipe. Her shoes were used Keds that at one time had been white but were now gray. I suspect that everything she wore was second-hand. I also suspected she never had anything new in her life other than the drugs she took.

Sistah looked at me and uttered, “Hunh, he don’t look like no big hero to me. He looks like nothin’ but trouble.”

I proffered my hand, hoping she would return the courtesy but she ignored me. “Hi. I’m Preston Meadows.”

She turned and left the room, saying over her shoulder, “I don’t care who you are. I don’t need no white boy coming here who is able to find a job and work for a living. He ain’t nothin’ but trouble. You know what I am saying?”

Melosa followed her into the other room and I could hear her tell Sistah my story and that I needed a place to stay until I found Katie. When Sistah learned that it was Delgado that I was looking for her voice boomed a “HELL NO! That white boy will be bringing nothin’ but trouble here. Delgado stays away because I stay out of his bid-ness.”

Then I heard Melosa reply in Spanish. If Sistah wouldn’t help me then she would stop helping Sistah.

Then I heard the loud slapping of angry footsteps, and when Sistah banged through the door, she had her finger shaking at me. “I’m gonna let you stay here but you gotta work and I mean work. And if you piss off that Delgado and he comes here making trouble I’m gonna hurt you, you unnerstand?”

She jammed her hands on her hips and leaned that skinny body in close to me, and then stuck her face in mine and yelled, “WELL! What’s it gonna be white boy?”

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

ExcerpTuesday: Mary Reed

The year is 548 and Empress Theodora is dead, the victim of cancer. Or so everyone in Constantinople, capital of the Roman Empire, believes. Everyone except Emperor Justinian who orders John, his Lord Chamberlain, to find the murderer or suffer the consequences. John embarks on an impossible investigation. There is no sign of foul play, but many of the quarreling, backstabbing aristocrats at the imperial court had good reason to want Theodora dead. As if seeking a murderer who seems to be a figment of the emperor’s grief-deranged imagination isn’t difficult enough, John must also grapple with domestic upheavals. Will John be able to serve justice, his loved ones, and the emperor?

by Mary Reed & Eric Mayer


Theodora may have been dead to those at the Great Palace and to the
patrons of the inn within sight of the palace's bronze gates, but in
the empire beyond she still lived. Soldiers camped on the Persian
border traded coarse jokes about the former actress, thinking they
insulted a living woman. General Belisarius, beaten back by the Goths
in Italy, could continue to hope for a few days longer that the
empress might sway Justinian to send reinforcements. In Alexandria a
monophysite clergyman penned a homily on Theodora's piety, unaware
that she had already joined his heretical saints.
Now released into the city, word of her death flowed like a swiftly
lengthening shadow along Constantinople's thoroughfares. It reached
into taverns and baths, tenements and churches, bringing jubilation,
satisfaction, and even sorrow. Borne by worshipers, the shadow fell
across the encomium to her charitable works chiseled into the white
marble entablature of the church of Saints Sergius and Bacchus, and on
the lips of a garrulous ferryman it passed over the whitened bones of
her enemies scattered against the sea walls beneath the waters of the
By nightfall Theodora would be dead to all who dwelt within the area
bound by the capital's land walls. Weeks would pass before she died at
the furthest outposts of the empire, from the Danube in the north and
Egypt in the south, from Lazica east of the Black Sea to the
westernmost part of the African Prefecture. She would go on living for
several extra days in Syria, thanks to John the Cappadocian, the
former official she so hated. News traveled slowly there because the
Cappadocian had substituted plodding mules for horses as a
money-saving measure.
Another John the late empress had hated, the Lord Chamberlain to
Emperor Justinian, turned away from the newly widowed ruler as the
brief meeting of the imperial council ended.
John the Eunuch, as many called him but never to his face, was in his
early fifties, a tall, lean Greek, clean-shaven, with high, sharp
cheekbones and sun-darkened skin. Age had not grayed his closely
cropped black hair. He wore deep blue robes made of the finest cloth,
adorned only by a narrow gold stripe along the hem. Dressed less
elegantly, he could have passed for the mercenary he had been as a
young man or a desert-dwelling hermit.
"John, please remain." The emperor spoke softly. His bland round and
slightly puffy face looked too calm to belong to a man standing beside
the body of his newly deceased wife.


The husband and wife team of Mary Reed and Eric Mayer published several short Lord Chamberlain detections in mystery anthologies and in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine prior to 1999's well-received One For Sorrow, the first full length novel about their protagonist. Nine For The Devil is the ninth entry in this award-winning historical mystery series.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Excerpt of Blonde Demolition

This is an excerpt from Blonde Demolition. My latest thriller.

She glanced at Trey.

He raised a dark eyebrow. "You used to know when I was near."

     "Been a long time since I've had to watch my back."

His long slender fingers spread across his chest. "That hurt."

     "Truth does."

     Cal looked her way from the beer tent, his brows knit. The carnies didn't often stop to talk to the firefighters. Cal moved his big frame in front of her as if she needed protection.

     She noted that he looked tired. Maybe she shouldn't bring up her idea about finding her parents today. It could wait until the fair was over.

     His pace was slow but steady as he moved toward her. He tugged Mark, the new guy, along with him.

The idea always amused her when they circled the wagons around her. It was sweet how they protected her.

     They had no clue she could defend herself armed or unarmed. That information didn't go along with her trust fund reputation. No need to enlighten them.

     Trey's words brought her back. "Have you thought about it?"



     "I didn't come up with an answer."         She wouldn't be rushed. She would decide this in her own damn time. Not on someone else's schedule.

     "Better soon."

     "You better move on, Trey."

     He glanced back at the firefighters who walked his way. A sardonic grin creased his face. "Well, well."

     "Leave, Trey. I don't want to see anyone hurt."

     "Me or them?"

     He walked past her as if she didn't exist.

You just can't hide from the past...

Mallory Sage lives in a small, idyllic town where nothing ever happens. Just the kind of life she has always wanted. No one, not even her fellow volunteer firefighters, knows about her past life as an agent for Homeland Security.

Former partner and lover, Trey McCrane, comes back into Mallory's life. He believes they made a great team once, and that they can do so again. Besides, they don't have much choice. Paul Stanley, a twisted killer and their old nemesis, is back.

Framed for a bombing and drawn together by necessity, Mallory and Trey go on the run and must learn to trust each other again―if they hope to survive. But Mallory has been hiding another secret, one that could destroy their relationship. And time is running out.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Authorsday: Glynn Marsh Alam

How long have you been writing?


I began writing little stories as an elementary school kid. It came easy to me. I imagined a world and put in it those people I found fascinating. Some were real people, some imaginary.


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


The seat of my pants gets all the credit here. I cannot stand to outline or sit down and write out bios and scenarios. Maybe my brain is plotting, but to me it seems I’m letting the characters tell me what is happening and why. I start out with a germ of an idea, like what if a body was found in an underwater cave or a group of hurricane refugees set up camp together. I know I want to write a murder mystery. I know the ecology of the setting, and I go from there.


Why did you pick your publisher?


I was a member of Sisters In Crime/Los Angeles. Someone told me about a New York publisher that was opening a mystery line. I sent them the query and first three chapters. As luck would have it, the first person to read it was from Florida, and my books are set in Florida. They asked for the rest of the book and publication came soon after that.


Describe your book.


The latest book, Tide Water Talisman, is the eighth in the Luanne Fogarty series. She is an adjunct diver with the sheriff’s department because of her knowledge of the deep spring caves of North Florida. In this book, a group of Katrina refugees have decided not to return to their washed out homes but to set up a trailer village on the coast of North Florida. They open a cafĂ© and some shops in an abandoned motel and seem to thrive until a local store owner is found murdered and a fisherman is pulled from the water. Luanne and the sheriff’s deputies set up in the camp where they become involved with the rag tag locals and the occasional visitor.


What did you enjoy most about writing this book?


My joy is always in the characters and their interactions with the world they find themselves in, not always one they expected. The swampy terrain is a character, too, and I enjoy writing its dangers and its beauty into the plot.


What are some highlights of your writing experiences?


One thing I enjoy more than others is the research done in the field. I need to be in the swamps and on the water to get the senses working for my writing. The smell of damp earth, or the sudden silence of animals are part of my writing. I’ve visited slave graveyards, ridden on a hydrilla grass cutter, been inside oyster shucking houses, and the list doesn’t stop. Of course, on the other end--when the book is finished--I’ve enjoyed being nominated for the Barry Award for best first mystery and winning the Florida Book Award, gold for popular fiction.


Where do you see yourself going next?


I’d like to say I’ll keep on writing these novels, doing promotion, going on to the next one in the same way. However, the world of publishing is changing so fast that I wonder if even the publishers aren’t sure what will happen next. My publisher has put all my books on Kindle and they are doing very well there. High tech in the publishing business came on us so fast, that I’m not sure what will happen. As for writing, I will continue to explore the world of mystery, then like some of my watery characters, I’ll go with the flow.

Glynn Marsh Alam is a native Floridian from Tallahassee. She grew up among the oaks, kudzu, and tall pines as well as with alligators, snakes, and mosquitoes. After graduating from Florida State University, she joined the world of espionage and worked for NSA until moving to Los Angeles. There she received her masters in linguistics, taught writing and literature, and began her mystery writing career. After publishing several short stories in literary magazines, Glynn began her Luanne Fogarty North Florida series with Dive Deep and Deadly, which received a nomination for the Barry Award for best first novel. In 2010, Glynn published her ninth book. One book in the series has attracted the attention of Hollywood (Cold Water Corpse), and her seventh in the series, Moon Water Madness, won the gold medal in the Florida Book Awards for popular fiction. Her latest book, Tide Water Talisman came out in September, 2010. She has also published a literary novel, River Whispers. “All of my books take place around north Florida swampland, the most mysterious place I know. It has become the basis of my stories and the suspense in them.”