Posted in Dystopian, excerpt, fiction, Guest Post, Science Fiction on June 19, 2017

Synopsis

In Christopher David Rosales’ first novel, ‘Silence the Bird, Silence the Keeper’, he creates a completely unique vision that seamlessly blends tropes of magical realism and dystopian fiction in a portrait of power in America that we’ve never seen before. Imagine it as the communal love child of Marquez, Bolaño, and Orwell, a child who inhabits an America that resembles Pinochet’s Chile, and yet feels uncannily (and frighteningly) familiar to present day Los Angeles. A world in which street assassin Tre, a young and much beloved brother and son, finds himself caught in a city where all its citizens, even its most dangerous, are potential targets in the on-going power struggle between an authoritarian military regime and a not-so-community friendly guerrilla force. As Percival Everett says, “This novel treats revolution, love, betrayal and magic with equal adeptness and intelligence. In a world that is at once ours and foreign Rosales makes characters that will be remembered when the novel is done.

Guest Post

Action & Suspense in Literary Fiction

I did not submit a whole chapter. It stops somewhere before we know the main character’s fate. Why?

In all of my stories and books I challenge myself to give my readers everything. You want love? You got it. Horror? Action? Crime? Yep. Even camp and melodrama, and especially sex. Who doesn’t want sex?

But this gets real messy, real fast. Not the sex; the writing.

Because readers approach reading with expectations, and much of the time those expectations are based on popular genres that are strictly defined. The hardboiled detective vs. the armchair detective. The mystery (whodunnit?) vs. the thriller (look at them doing it!) vs. the suspense (what are they going to do and when?!). There’s the chest-heaving romance that’s all passion and pecs and no penetration, and then there’s the quasi-eroticism in which the BDSM stands for Bored and Dying for Something to Masturbate to.

And let’s not forget self-serious: (she wasn’t sure why she did it, or even what exactly one could call what she did, and she never would be sure, would she? But surely she’d have to live through this day knowing she knew nothing. Or did she?).

None of what I’m saying about this balancing act we call writing and reading fiction is new. It remains, however, hard.

Brief interruption: I’m going to use the word literary soon.

When I write “literary,” I don’t use it as an evaluative word. It doesn’t mean better. It means I wasn’t relying on my own or a reader’s preconceived expectations for a popular genre, but rather was relying on character alone. Genre fiction often relies heavily on character–too–but it rarely relies on character–just. For a definition of “literary”-crap, see above: “self-serious”.

So how do we use elements of popular genre fiction, like Action and Suspense, in “literary” fiction. I chose today’s excerpt from my first novel, Silence the Bird, Silence the Keeper, because it is a chapter in the middle of a “literary” project in which I try to provide action and suspense. I want bullets to fly, sure, but I want hearts to pump out of sympathy instead of spectacle. So I do what Ron Carlson tells us all to do in Ron Carlson Writes a Story, a must-have craft book for every writer. I try to stay close to the character. I take inventory of the objects, people, and location, and stay close to them, return to them, round them out. What I don’t do is make the bad guys bad and the good guy good. The “good guy” has just stolen from these “bad guys” in my scene. His motorcycle isn’t great, it’s ragtag and rusty. There are civilians populating the scene by living everyday lives with each other; they’re not propped up to take a bloody shot to the gut to demonstrate the “bad guys” mean business. In fact, the scene doesn’t try to “mean” anything.

But by sticking to details, I hope to remind readers it’s in their nature to observe. As the main character rides his motorcycle in an attempt to escape, his spit hits his helmet’s visor, a stop sign takes a bullet, he hardly notices but can’t help notice the hot sun reflected in the puddle in the road. I don’t know what’s going to happen to him as I collect these details about his environment. And that means I am engaged in action and suspense.

That’s it, after all. Action is a collection of concrete definable terms happening to or being happened to by a character. Suspense is the delicate distance between our prediction of what will happen and our knowledge of what has. By writing in both those states, I hope my reader will read in both those states. By abandoning a preconceived notion of what should happen in a plot, I hope I give my reader something new. It’s unpredictable to them because it’s unpredictable to me.

Excerpt

Tre leaned his bike into the turn and wound his way through the frozen traffic. We always said he leaned into everything that way. He didn’t ever seem to be trying too hard at anything at all.

He flipped up the visor of his helmet and checked his watch. Tapped it once or twice. “Piece of shit.” When he flipped the visor down the sunset shimmered pink across it.

Slowing each time he passed a luxury sedan, he’d crane his neck to see the plates. He stopped behind a long brown car with dark windows, checked the license number scribbled on the back of his hand against the license plate on the sedan. The scribbles across his hand had smeared with sweat, but they were clear enough to see they didn’t match.  He rode on, calling different curses for each different rich man’s car he passed. Passat equaled pussy. Fiat equaled faggot. Benz equaled bends over and takes it in the ass. He laughed, fogging his visor, and relished the blindness. When the fog retreated and revealed the crowded street, he closed his eyes—his right elbow clipped hard against a sideview mirror but he kept them closed. Since his parents had begun to pawn the family keep-sakes he’d felt invincibly dead. Like the elimination of personal property was a slow and steady lowering of the coffin of their hope.

A horn honked twice and his eyes opened wide on a jeep changing lanes right in front of him. He swerved around it, barely, and a woman inside shouted, “You’re going to kill someone.”

“I hope so.” He shouted spit onto his visor, and flipped her off.

The traffic was heavy in the intersection, and everyone was honking but no one going anywhere. Thankfully, this included his target in the brown sedan. Using the balls of his feet, Tre stepped his bike up alongside the rear window, took the .38 from his waistband, and shot three times through the closed backseat passenger window.

Inside the white starburst of glass a bloody head slumped out of sight.

The driver kicked his door open and peeked his head out. Tre cut a mock salute across his helmet. The driver left the door open when he ran, looking back only once, and casually. He slowed to a jog, and then a walk three cars down.

Tre set the kickstand, left the bike running. He opened up the rear door and ducked inside over the dead man. He felt around for wallets. A lot of these guys kept two, one just for these sorts of occasions and a real one… here, right along the warm inner thigh. Something shiny caught Tre’s eye even through the dark visor. A wristwatch—Rolex—and he traded the man’s watch for his. He took the time to put his broken watch on the man’s wrist, laughing, and to adjust the thick-wristed man’s watch to his own. Then he removed all the cash from the wallets, but not the cards, and put them back too. It was important that the hit not look like a robbery. Whoever had hired him wanted to send some kind of message. But, still, all dude needed now was a coin on each eye—he wouldn’t miss the paper money.

Outside, the horns honked when he mounted the bike. No sirens yet. He heeled back the kickstand and lurched forward, then rolled, easing his way through the maze of metal. A few people inside the cars he passed ducked their heads. Most of them watched, heads tilted out their windows.

Tre lowered the kickstand, dropped the remaining cartridges into his pocket, took off his helmet, and tucked it with the pistol into his backpack. Then he made sure he’d brought the right romance flick. On the cover, a man and woman faced each other across a wide night sky, and a carrier pigeon hovered between them, pinching in its beak a bannered note reading the title.

He zipped up his backpack and went to the door of the girl’s house. There was no one around. And beside that, none of the streetlamps worked so no one could see him anyway. He checked the Rolex, pressed it to his ear and listened. He couldn’t hear the watch’s delicate turnings over the sounds of the naked-bellied children playing like faint shadows in the street, the neighborhood dogs whining from a safe distance for him to feed them, or the music on the radios inside all the windowless houses.

From the porch, he stared at his red motorbike parked alone in what was left of the street mostly dirt now. The occasional tuft of grass or chunk of asphalt. The bike looked strong on roads like this. Rode over them with ease, after the mods: the stolen tires, the halogen bulbs. Sure it was used up. Scratched. Frankensteined out of junkyard parts and spray-painted bright red to hide the bolts and stitches. Sure it had seen better days. Still, around here, Tre was somebody because of that thing.

She opened the door, wearing a peasant style blouse that made a wing of the arm blocking his entrance. Her pink tongue licked her lips, not horny but hungry. “You’re late.”

“So long as your period ain’t.”

“That might be how you talked to hoodrats before but that ain’t how you talk to me.”

“Okay, okay.” He kissed her dark cheek, unzipping the bag as he did so, and then tugged out the VHS tape. He’d got it out of someone’s house just this week. They’d had DVDs but no one he knew had a player, and he hadn’t had room on his bike for something that big. “I brought popcorn, too.”

She smiled, showing white teeth; rare, anymore. Kissed him again.

He licked his lips. She was wearing that peppermint lip-gloss he’d gotten her.

“Where’d you get the money for popcorn?” she asked.

“I got a job.” He knew she wanted to ask him for more details but would stop herself. Girls had to, around here. Love didn’t require good men and good women; just men, and just women. “Are you going to let me in, or what?”

“Where’d you get the money, I said.”

So this one was different.

“Give me a chance to explain?”

About the Author

Christopher David Rosales’ first novel, Silence the Bird, Silence the Keeper (Mixer Publishing, 2015) won the McNamara Creative Arts Grant. Previously he won the Center of the American West’s award for fiction three years in a row. He is a PhD candidate at University of Denver and has taught university level creative writing for 10 years.. Rosales’ second novel, Gods on the Lam releases in June, 2017 from Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing and Word is Bone, his third novel, is forthcoming 2018 from Broken River Books.

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Posted in Cozy, Giveaway, Guest Post, mystery on June 6, 2017

Marriage Is Pure Murder (A Blossom Valley Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
6th in Series
Kensington (May 30, 2017)
Mass Market Paperback: 352 pages

Synopsis

Wedding bells are ringing at the O’Connell Organic Farm and Spa in California’s postcard-perfect Blossom Valley. The entire staff is pitching in to send one of their own down the aisle. But no one knew the nuptials could turn up so many secrets—or that marriage and murder could go hand in hand . . .

Dana Lewis is marrying Jason Forrester, a talented reporter and the love of her life. She couldn’t dream of a better venue than the farm where she works, and her friends are determined to give her the wedding of her dreams. Even her florist, Bethany Lancaster, is making sure she has just the right flowers. But Dana’s happiness wilts when she finds Bethany shot dead—and discovers her friend was a busybody with a blackmail list longer than a cathedral veil. With so many enemies, finding Bethany’s killer seems all but impossible. And when Dana herself is eyed as a suspect, she’ll have to chase down the culprit faster than she can say, “I do”—or she’ll be trading in her wedding dress for prison stripes . .

Guest Post

The Joys of Research

by Staci McLaughlin

One of the fun aspects of writing the Blossom Valley Mysteries is the research I get to do. A large part of each book takes place on the organic farm and spa where Dana, my main character, is not only the marketing guru but also a Jill-of-all-Trades. She helps Zennia, the cook, prepare and serve healthy meals to the guests of the bed-and-breakfast, fills in for the manager at the front desk when he’s called away on business, and even occasionally cleans out the pig sty for Esther, the owner. All of these jobs have required research on one level or another, particularly when it comes to Zennia’s cooking.

When Dana first started working at the farm, she was downright terrified of the healthy but unusual dishes that Zennia created for the guests. One dish that made her cringe was tofu fish sticks. Strips of tofu were first rolled in a combination of mayonnaise and milk before being rolled in a mixture of dry ingredients that included sea vegetable flakes. Apparently the flakes were supposed to provide a taste similar to traditional fish sticks.

While I wasn’t brave enough to make my own tofu fish sticks, even in the name of research, I did try a wheat grass shot, another thing Zennia absolutely loves, thanks to all those vitamins and minerals. I didn’t have my own wheat grass machine, but I managed to find a little packet of dried powder at the health food store. With my expectations high, I dumped the powder in water, stirred up the mixture, and took a good, long sip. The flavor reminded me of when I was a kid and used to wrestle with my sister on the lawn and end up with a mouthful of grass. The thick, goopy liquid was green like grass and smelled like grass, so I’m not sure why I expected it to taste any different.

After the wheat grass experiment, I decided to take a less hands-on approach and stick with the more traditional way of finding out information, namely through internet searches. One of my secondary characters in the series is a pig named Wilbur, who Dana likes to bounce ideas off of when she’s trying to solve a mystery. He usually doesn’t provide much of a response, other than the occasional oink, but she still finds it useful to talk to him. During one conversation, I wrote that Wilbur wagged his tail in reply to something Dana had said, and that got me thinking.

Do pigs even wag their tails, or was I breaking the laws of animal science? After searching online, I found out that pigs do indeed wag their tails, much like dogs. The same article mentioned that pigs also wag their tails to indicate they are looking for a fight, but Wilbur is a very even-tempered pig who gets along with all of his pig pals, so he only wags his tail when he’s happy.

Through research, I’ve also learned about different flowers in wedding bouquets, what sorts of tricks monster truck drivers can do, how communes are organized and run, and how to offset carbon footprints.

I can’t wait to find out what I’ll need to learn for Dana’s next adventure. Heck, if I’m feeling brave, I might even try those tofu fish sticks.

About the Author

Staci McLaughlin graduated from the California State University, East Bay before becoming a technical writer for a number of years. Now she is a stay-at-home mom and a cozy mystery writer in my spare time (Ha!). Once she can wrangle the kids into bed, my husband and I enjoy watching scary movies and playing both board games and video games.

She is currently a member of Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime, as well as a contributor to the LadyKillers blog at http://www.theladykillers.typepad.com/. She lives with my family in the San Francisco Bay Area.

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May 30 – Laura’s Interests – REVIEW

May 31 – Island Confidential – INTERVIEW

June 1 – Bookworm Cafe – REVIEW

June 1 – Queen of All She Reads – SPOTLIGHT

June 2 – Brooke Blogs – REVIEW

June 2 – Books,Dreams,Life – SPOTLIGHT

June 3- Readeropolis – SPOTLIGHT

June 3- Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – SPOTLIGHT

June 4 – Teresa Trent Author Site – SPOTLIGHT

June 5 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – INTERVIEW

June 6 – I Read What You Write – REVIEW

June 6 – StoreyBook Reviews – GUEST POST

June 7 – My Journey Back – REVIEW

June 8 – Bibliophile Reviews – REVIEW

June 9 – Melina’s Book Blog – REVIEW

June 9 – Mystery Thrillers and Romantic Suspense Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

June 10 – Texas Book-aholic – REVIEW

June 10 – A Holland Reads – GUEST POST

June 11 – Varietats – REVIEW

June 11 – Cozy Up With Kathy – INTERVIEW

June 12 – Girl with Book Lungs – SPOTLIGHT

Posted in Cozy, excerpt, Giveaway, Guest Post, Historical, mystery on May 20, 2017

Mrs. Odboddy: Undercover Courier

Cozy Mystery
2nd in Series
Elk Grove Publications (February 8, 2017)
Print Length: 199 pages
ASIN: B06WCZMFGN

Synopsis

Asked to accompany Mrs. Roosevelt on her Pacific Island tour, Agnes and Katherine travel by train to Washington, D.C. Agnes carries a package for Colonel Farthingworth to President Roosevelt.

Convinced the package contains secret war documents, Agnes expects Nazi spies to try and derail her mission.

She meets Irving, whose wife mysteriously disappears from the train; Nanny, the unfeeling caregiver to little Madeline; two soldiers bound for training as Tuskegee airmen; and Charles, the shell-shocked veteran, who lends an unexpected helping hand. Who will Agnes trust? Who is the Nazi spy?

When enemy forces make a final attempt to steal the package in Washington, D.C., Agnes must accept her own vulnerability as a warrior on the home front.

Can Agnes overcome multiple obstacles, deliver the package to the President, and still meet Mrs. Roosevelt’s plane before she leaves for the Pacific Islands?

Mrs. Odboddy: Undercover Courier is a hysterical frolic on a train across the United States during WWII, as Agnes embarks on this critical mission.

Guest Post

While researching events during WWII for my humorous mystery/adventure, Mrs. Odboddy Hometown Patriot, and Mrs. Odboddy Undercover Courier, I found some interesting facts about life in the USA. during World War II:

Rationing: Because vital supplies were needed for the troops, ration stamp booklets were issued to American housewives. Many items including meat, sugar and fresh fruit were in short supply and could only be purchased with the appropriate ration stamp.

Due to blockades affecting Brazilian ships attempting to bring coffee and sugar to the USA during part of 1942-43, coffee was rationed to one pound per adult every six weeks. (This alone was reason to go to war.)

Eggs were in short supply and costly, resulting in many resident chickens in suburban backyards.

Tires: A citizen was allowed to purchase only five tires during the entire war. By today’s standards, that sounds sufficient, but despite a 35 mph national speed limit, bumpy roads and poor quality rubber led to multiple flat tires. Doctors and public safety professionals were allowed additional tire and gasoline stamps. Gasoline was rationed to four gallons per week per adult. Folks relied on car pool, buses, bicycles or walking. Men working out of town often boarded away from home and came home only intermittently.

Such shortages of food and other supplies led to black market ration books or ‘arrangements’ between friends willing to sell stamps they didn’t need.

Victory Gardens: Citizens appeared unpatriotic if they didn’t plant a victory garden. Suburban front yards were soon converted to rows of cabbages, zucchinis, tomatoes and carrots. Vegetables with a high yield requiring limited growing space became the main ingredient of Meatless Monday meals. Mrs. Roosevelt planted zucchini in the White House Rose Garden.

Watch Towers: Ever fearful of another Japanese air attack on the West Coast, and the limited availability of newly discovered radar technology, volunteers became the ‘early warning system’ in watch towers every several miles along the California and Oregon coastline.

Train Travel: Though trains traveled all the way across the U.S.A. there was no direct line and travelers often had to change from one train to another, with hours long layovers of hours or days between connections.

These events are highlighted in both of my novels. In Mrs. Odboddy Undercover Courier, Agnes and Katherine travel from California to Washington D.C. to accompany Mrs. Roosevelt on her Pacific Island tour. Carrying a package to the President she believes contains secret war documents, it is no surprise to encounter a man she believes is a Nazi spy. When she is witness to his ‘committing murder,’ she is sure she will be next on his hit list. Join Mrs. Odboddy on her hysterical romp across the USA. Filled with laugh and suspense, you will enjoy a bit of history along the way.

Excerpt – Mrs. Odboddy Undercover Courier

“Do you want to order some breakfast, Grandmother?” Katherine said.

“No, thank you. Just coffee. Well, maybe a muffin…with jam. That would be nice.”

The waiter nodded and turned away.

“Wait! Maybe a bowl of stewed prunes for my digestion…” Agnes lifted her head and sniffed. “And, a couple strips of bacon. It smells so wonderful.”

The waiter made notes on his tablet. “Is that all, ma’am? Are you sure you won’t be requiring something else?”

“No, thank you. That’s fine. I’m not really hungry.”

“I can see something has upset you, Grandma. What is it this time?”

Agnes shook her head. She leaned across the table and whispered. “It’s Irving. I think he killed Geraldine last night, and now he’s coming after me!”

“What?” Katherine’s voice rang through the dining car.

Heads turned and passengers stared.

“Katherine. People are staring.” Agnes lowered her head. “I said, Irving killed Geraldine. Last night, I saw him throw her fur cape off the platform. This morning, he told me she left the train at the water stop in the middle of the night. How ridiculous is that? Who would get off at a water stop? That’s hogwash.”

“Really, Grandmother! Here-We-Go-Again is leading the pack by a nose, running down the track…

“It’s the only explanation that makes sense. He killed her. I had just stepped out onto the platform. That’s when I saw him throw off her fur cape. We have to notify the authorities.”

Katherine shook her head. I-Can’t-Believe-This has taken the lead, running neck and neck with Here-We-Go-Again…“You’re not serious… Grandma, you’re always imagining… I mean… Sometimes you get carried away and… There must be a logical explanation. You can’t accuse someone of murder just because you saw him throw something off the train. Maybe it wasn’t Geraldine’s fur cape. Maybe it was something else, like his newspaper.”

“And, maybe Hitler will get religion and stop invading European countries, but I’m not going to hold my breath. Don’t you think I know the difference between a newspaper and a fur cape? I may be forgetful, and I have arthritis in my left hip but I’m not blind. I know what I saw and Geraldine is not on this train. What other explanation is there? Now that he knows I saw him, he’ll probably come after me.”

Katherine crossed her arms. …and Good-Grief-What-Now? is three lengths ahead of You-Have-Got to-Be-Kidding…“Stop being melodramatic. I’ll not have any part of this.” Katherine’s brow knit and she scowled. How many times had they been through this nonsense? Grandma saw boogie-men everywhere she turned and wasn’t shy about making accusations, even though she was always wrong. Most of the time.

“Here’s your breakfast, Mrs. Odboddy, just like you ordered.” The porter lowered the tray to the table and whipped off the silver lid. The aroma of bacon mixed with strawberry jam rose from the plate.

Agnes sniffed. “Ahh! Smells wonderful. Thank you so much.” She grinned at the porter.

He filled their coffee cups, set the cream pitcher on the table and backed away.

Katherine avoided her grandmother’s eyes and didn’t speak. The only sound was the murmurs from nearby tables.

Grandmother bit into her muffin. “So, are you going into town with me to report the murder, or not?”

Now, what should I do? Let Grandmother wander the streets of Albuquerque alone or encourage her poppycock by going with her on a fool’s errand? I’ll have to go and try to change her mind.

Katherine glanced at her watch. “It’s nearly 7:30 A.M.” She retrieved her purse. “I’ll meet you on the station platform and we’ll go into town together. Now, don’t go off half-cocked on your own. Promise?”

Agnes nodded. “If you say so. There’s not much time to shop if I go to the—”

Katherine turned on her heel and stomped away. She glanced back to see Grandmother waving at the porter. She’ll probably order waffles and eggs, because she isn’t very hungry.

About the Author

Elaine is a member of Sisters in Crime, Inspire Christian Writers and Cat Writers Association. She lives in No. Calif with her husband and four house cats (the inspiration for her three humorous cozy cat mysteries, Black Cat’s Legacy, Black Cat and the Lethal Lawyer, and Black Cat and the Accidental Angel).

Mrs. Odboddy’s character is based in no way on Elaine’s quirky personality. Two more Mrs. Odboddy adventures will publish in the near future. Many of Elaine’s short stories have appeared in magazines and multiple anthologies.

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May 17 – Maureen’s Musings – REVIEW

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May 18 – Socrates’ Book Reviews – REVIEW

May 18 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT, GIVEAWAY

May 19 – Laura’s Interests – REVIEW, CHARACTER GUEST POST

May 19 – Books,Dreams,Life – SPOTLIGHT

May 20 – StoreyBook Reviews – GUEST POST

May 21 – Community Bookstop – REVIEW

May 22 – Brooke Blogs – CHARACTER GUEST POST, GIVEAWAY

May 22 – Books Direct – INTERVIEW

May 23 – Texas Book-aholic – REVIEW

May 23 – Cozy Up With Kathy – GUEST POST

May 24 – Island Confidential – CHARACTER INTERVIEW

May 24 – Author Annette Drake’s blog – INTERVIEW

May 25 – Bibliophile Reviews –  REVIEW, GUEST POST, GIVEAWAY

May 26 – Back Porchervations – REVIEW

Posted in Cozy, Giveaway, Guest Post, mystery on May 18, 2017

A Perfect Manhattan Murder (A Nic & Nigel Mystery) by Tracy Kiely
Cozy Mystery
3rd in Series
Midnight Ink (May 8, 2017)
Paperback: 240 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0738745244
E-Book ASIN: B01LXJQVDI

Synopsis

The play’s the thing, but it’s the star-studded after-party that sends sparks flying

Thrilled that their friend’s Broadway debut was a rousing success, Nic and Nigel Martini, along with Nic’s college pal Harper, are trying to enjoy the exclusive after-party. Unfortunately, all the champagne and repartee in the world aren’t enough to overlook the churlish behavior of Harper’s husband, Dan. Nic is shocked the next morning when she learns that Dan’s been murdered. Nigel thinks the world may be a better place without him.

Still, Harper’s their friend and they’re intent on helping her any way they can. The Martinis will stop at nothing—with the possible exception of cocktails and walks with their bull mastiff Skippy—to see that the killer ends up behind bars.

Guest Post

The Life of a Writer – Now in Technicolor

I have three children, all of whom I adore and all of whom produce an ungodly amount of laundry. To pass the time while I neatly fold it (so that they can, in turn, cram it in their drawers or leave it on their floors), I tune into some show like Hoarders or Dr. Phil. Don’t judge. You’d be surprised at how these shows can make you feel practically giddy that your biggest complaint at the moment is too much laundry. The subject on Hoarders is pretty much always the same – too much of everything. Tuning into Dr. Phil, however, is a crapshoot. He tackles everything from weight loss to drug addiction. However, the ones that I like to pair with my laundry deal with parenting.  They usually are titled something like, “Families on the Brink,” or “Children Out Of Control.” After a brief introduction Dr. Phil, the camera will pan to a fairly normal looking couple. The husband usually looks Very Serious and the wife looks Very Sad. When prompted, they will haltingly tell of their inability to control their children and how it is ruining their once happy lives.  Dr. Phil will nod sympathetically as they tell their tale of woe before turning to the audience and saying something like this: “Well, we wondered what a day in the life of this family was really like so we placed cameras all throughout the house. You won’t believe what we saw.”

Cut to a grainy image of the wife – now looking like a well-dressed Tasmanian Devil on crack – screaming at her fourteen-year-old while the father shouts his own profanities and slams his fist into the counter.

I always have the same reaction to these shows – which is jaw dropping disbelief. Not at the rotten behavior of the parents – let’s face it – if you have kids, then you have had that moment when you‘ve done and said something stupid. And if you have teenagers, then odds are you’ve lost your temper and shouted. Loudly. But for God’s sake! Who in their right minds would ever let someone put cameras in their homes?  That action right there, and not than the yelling and swearing, is what bespeaks a sick mind.

I would like to tell you that were you to watch me write, you’d see this: I enter my beautifully decorated (and spotless) writing area. It has a view of the early morning sun bouncing off the rolling ocean. I am showered. My hair is artfully pulled back into one of those carelessly looking soft buns that actually take hours to perfect. I am wearing white linen pants and a light sweater. As I sit at my antique desk, my golden retrievers flopped loyally at my side. I take a sip of my hot tea and begin typing with a quiet intensity. I remain that way for three hours.

However, such a scene exists only in my mind. Were I actually to allow cameras in my home, here is what you’d see.  I enter the kitchen. It is a disaster of dirty breakfast dishes and open cereal boxes. I have not showered. I am wearing torn sweatpants and an old t-shirt. My hair is best left to the care of trained professionals. I stumbled to my desk off the kitchen. My writing area overlooks the backyard, which is littered with soccer balls, lacrosse balls, nets, and what appears to be a pair of dirty socks. Both of my golden retrievers push runs past me; one with a pair of shoes in his mouth, the other with what appears to be my checkbook. After a lengthy chase, I finally sit at my desk. I type. Then I read. Then I chase the dogs again. Then I type. Then I have an idea that needs verification and so I look it up on the Internet. Then I see that Nordstrom’s is having a sale of sorts and so I bop over to that site for a while. Then I think maybe having some chocolate might be a good idea because I just read that dark chocolate is a “super food.” From there I wander over to the cupboard to see if we have any. We don’t. But we do have milk chocolate. I wonder if that counts. I decide it does and eat it. I resume my seat at my desk and reread what I’ve written. (This is usually where the cursing occurs.) Then I repeat everything again.

Were you to be forced to watch this you would begin screaming yourself. It’s a bit like that odd adage – you might like sausage, but you sure as hell don’t want to see how it’s made.

I would say it’s the same with books. You might like them, but you don’t want to watch them made.

About the Author

Tracy Kiely is a self-proclaimed Anglophile (a fact which distresses certain members of her Irish Catholic family). She grew up reading Jane Austen, Agatha Christie, and watching Hitchcock movies. She fell in love with Austen’s wit, Christie’s clever plots, and Hitchcock’s recurrent theme of “the average man caught in extraordinary circumstances.”

After spending years of trying to find a proper job that would enable her to use her skills garnered as an English major, she decided to write a book. It would, of course, have to be a mystery; it would have to be funny; and it would have to feature an average person caught up in extraordinary circumstances. She began to wonder how the characters in Pride and Prejudice might fit into a mystery. What, if after years of living with unbearably rude and condescending behavior, old Mrs. Jenkins up and strangled Lady Catherine? What if Charlotte snapped one day and poisoned Mr. Collins’ toast and jam? Skip ahead several years, and several different plot ideas, and you have her first mystery Murder at Longbourn.

While she does not claim to be Jane Austen, Agatha Christie, or Hitchcock (one big reason being that they’re all dead), she has tried to combine the elements of all three in her books.

 

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May 8 – Sleuth Cafe – GUEST POST

May 8 – deal sharing aunt – INTERVIEW

May 9 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – REVIEW

May 9 – Author Annette Drake’s blog – SPOTLIGHT

May 10 – Babs Book Bistro – REVIEW

May 10 – A Blue Million Books – GUEST POST

May 11 – Rainy Day Reviews – REVIEW

May 11 – Books Direct – SPOTLIGHT

May 12 – Books,Dreams,Life – SPOTLIGHT

May 12 – T’s Stuff – INTERVIEW

May 13 – 3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, &, Sissy, Too! – SPOTLIGHT

May 14 – Brooke Blogs – SPOTLIGHT

May 15 – Queen of All She Reads – REVIEW

May 16 – Celticlady’s Reviews– SPOTLIGHT

May 17 – Island Confidential – SPOTLIGHT

May 17 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf -SPOTLIGHT

May 18 – StoreyBook Reviews – GUEST POST

May 19 – Bibliophile Reviews – REVIEW

May 19 – I Read What You Write – REVIEW

May 20 – Varietats – REVIEW

May 20 – Mystery Thrillers and Romantic Suspense Reviews – REVIEW

May 21 – Cozy Up With Kathy – INTERVIEW

 

 

 

Posted in Cozy, Giveaway, Guest Post, mystery on May 16, 2017

The Connecticut Corpse Caper (A Triple Threat Mystery Book 1)

Cozy Mystery
1st Book in Series
Self Published
Print Length: 317 pages

Synopsis

The antics of seven inheritance recipients during a week-long stay at a Connecticut estate are detailed by protagonist Jill Jocasta Fonne. The will of her aunt stipulates that if anyone leaves early, his or her share will be divided among those remaining. As it happens, one does leave—permanently—when he dies just hours after arrival. Guests and staff alike have secrets to share as Jill and her colleagues, Rey and Linda, discover when they step out of their chosen professions into the roles of amateur sleuths. But are these secrets the reasons that bodies start appearing and disappearing? Others soon join in the sleuthing, and the bumbling and stumbling—and mayhem—begin.

Guest Post

The Non-P.I. Lives of the Triple Threat Gals

TV and book private eyes are often portrayed as living glamorous and/or exciting lives.  In reality, investigative work is as routine as making lunch.  That’s not to say there aren’t thrilling or even dangerous adrenalin-pumping moments; Rey, Linda and I can certainly attest to that.

Today, I thought I’d share something more personal about the Triple Threat Investigation gals—no, not the romantic components, because they don’t exist.  As Rey has frequently stated of late: men are as useful as broken doorknobs.  While Linda and I may not necessarily agree with the analogy, we do agree that we have no interest in, or time for, serious commitments.

We’re as different as the Kardashians and sometimes as silly and contentious as the Three Stooges.  There’s no question, though, we do love and respect one another (most of the time).

Melodramatic Rey can lunge at someone or something like a Roman soldier thrusting a duel-edged sword.  Yet, while she’s headstrong and pushy, she can also prove loving and kind (not that she’d necessarily want people to view her that way).

Linda leans toward the academic and serious.  She loves to blog and is always eager to learn something new.  And is that gal fit!  Jillian Michaels has nothing on her.

I’ve been described as “determined”; I’m like a dog with a bone.  It’s true, because when I latch onto something, I can’t let go.  I enjoy jogging and boxing, and dislike swimming with a passion.  It’s something I truly suck at, but it’s a “must do” (that dogged side of me), so I get to a pool when time allows.

All three of us have causes, too.

Saving the monk seal is Rey’s.  Maybe it’s that actress background, but she can cite facts without a blink or breath—such as an already woefully declining Hawaiian monk seal population is threatened by sharks, food limitations, marine debris, and shoreline habitat loss, among other things.  As a volunteer, she helps place signs, is happy to educate beachgoers, and even does beach clean-up (this from a woman who once wouldn’t be seen in public without a spanking new manicure).

Linda’s cause is homelessness, which continues to increase on Oahu.  Too many individuals and families live on the streets, in plastic tents and tiny shanties.  Some call the base of a banyan tree “home sweet home”.  This past January, she started assisting with the annual homeless count and is helping feed folks in a soup kitchen one afternoon a week.

My focus is animals.  Button, as you know, is a rescue crossbreed.  Since my first visit to the shelter, I’ve become acutely aware of animal abuse, which is both distressing and infuriating.  Happy to donate money, supplies and time, I also volunteer one day a week.

The three of us have come a long way since the move to the South Pacific.  We’ve developed professionally and have grown personally.  We love our private-eye careers . . . and we love giving back.

Aloha.

About the Author

Tyler Colins is primarily a writer of fiction and blog posts, and a sometimes editor and proofreader of books, manuals, and film/television scripts. She’ll also create business plans, synopses, film promotion and sales documents.

Fact-checking and researching, organizing and coordinating are skills and joys (she likes playing detective and developing structure).

Her fiction audience: lovers of female-sleuth mysteries. Her genres of preference: mysteries (needless to say), women’s fiction, informative and helpful “affirmative” non-fiction.

She aims to provide readers with smiles and chuckles like the ever-talented Janet Evanovich and the sadly passed and missed Lawrence Sanders, the “coziness” of Jessica Fletcher, and a few diversions and distractions as only long-time pros Jonathan Kellerman and Kathy Reichs can craft.

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May 16 – StoreyBook Reviews – GUEST POST

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May 18 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – INTERVIEW

May 19 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT, EXCERPT

May 20 – A Blue Million Books – GUEST POST

May 21 – Valerie’s Musings – REVIEW, INTERVIEW

May 22 – Lisa Ks Book Reviews – REVIEW

May 23 – I Read What You Write – REVIEW

May 24 – Fantastic Feathers –  SPOTLIGHT

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May 26 – Lori’s Reading Corner – GUEST POST

May 27 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – SPOTLIGHT

May 28 – Cozy Up With Kathy – INTERVIEW, EXCERPT

Posted in Cozy, Giveaway, Guest Post, mystery on May 6, 2017

A Stone’s Throw
Solstice Publishing (March 8, 2017)
Paperback: 322 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1625265463
ASIN: B06XGNXQCS

Synopsis – Book 1

Widowed librarian Alicia Fairmont needs answers…

After her husband is killed in a hit and run accident, Alicia travels upstate to his hometown of Cobble Cove, New York, hoping to locate his estranged family and shed light on his mysterious past. Anticipating staying only a weekend, her visit is extended when she accepts a job at the town’s library.

Secrets stretch decades into the past…

Assisted by handsome newspaper publisher and aspiring novelist, John McKinney, Alicia discovers a connection between her absent in-laws and a secret John’s father has kept for over sixty years. But her investigation is interrupted when she receives word her house has burned and arson is suspected, sending her rushing back to Long Island, accompanied by John.

Back in Cobble Cove, cryptic clues are uncovered…

When Alicia returns, she finds a strange diary, confiscated letters, and a digital audio device containing a recording made the day her husband was killed. Anonymous notes warn Alicia to leave town, but she can’t turn her back on the mystery—or her attraction to John. As the pieces begin to fall into place, evidence points to John’s involvement in her husband’s accident. The past and present threaten to collide, and Alicia confronts her fears…

Between A Rock and a Hard Place
Publisher: Solstice Publishing (October 12, 2016)
Paperback: 316 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1625264534
E-Book ASIN: B01M59PPBY

Synopsis – Book 2

Librarian Alicia McKinney has put the past behind her…

Two years ago, Alicia discovered both a terrible truth and lasting love with John McKinney in the small town of Cobble Cove, New York. Now a busy mother of twin babies and co-author of a mystery series, Alicia couldn’t be happier.

Alicia’s contentment and safety are challenged…

Walking home alone from the library, Alicia senses someone following her, and on more than one occasion, she believes she is being watched. Does she have a stalker? When the local gift shop is burglarized, the troubling event causes unrest among Alicia and the residents of the quiet town.
John and Alicia receive an offer they can’t refuse…

When John’s sister offers to babysit while she and John take a much-needed vacation in New York City, Alicia is reluctant to leave her children because of the disturbances in Cobble Cove. John assures her the town is safe in the hands of Sheriff-elect Ramsay. Although Alicia’s experience with and dislike of the former Long Island detective don’t alleviate her concern, she and John take their trip.

Alicia faces her worst nightmare…

The McKinneys’ vacation is cut short when they learn their babies have been kidnapped and John’s sister shot. Alicia and John’s situation puts them between a rock and a hard place when the main suspect is found dead before the ransom is paid. In order to save their children, the McKinneys race against the clock to solve a mystery more puzzling than those found in their own books. Can they do it before time runs out?

Written in Stone
Cozy Mystery
3rd in Series
Solstice Publishing (April 3, 2017)
Print Length: 215 pages
ASIN: B06Y1JTHJ8

Synopsis – Book 3

Alicia McKinney is confused . . . .

Was the strange email her husband received from the fictional detective in their mystery series a threat? Did the killer mistake the woman shot in the library for Alicia or the victim’s twin sister?

Cat vs. Dog . . .

After Sneaky goes missing from the library, will he turn up before a young girl becomes ill with worry over his disappearance? And will he return in time to outsmart Fido by being first to find the perpetrator’s smoking gun?

Alicia is worried . . .

While waiting for the killer’s next move, Alicia has other concerns. An old flame of John’s is in town and her friend, Gilly, has adopted the role of Miss Marple to aid her sheriff boyfriend in his investigation.

When all clues point to one of her co-workers, Alicia joins Gilly in searching for the answers to the mystery.

Will they survive . . . .

or is their ending written in stone?

Guest Post

When Your Pet is Missing, A Part of You is Lost

Have you ever lost a pet? It’s an awful feeling to wonder what became of your fur baby who ran out of the house for the first time or just didn’t come back from his or her usual nightly ramblings. Having always had animals, I’m more than familiar with this heartbreaking experience.

When I was ten, a gray and white cat came to our door. My mother, who had a soft heart for stray and feral animals, took her in and tried to find her owners. However, after noticing her bulging stomach, we realized she was pregnant and that was most likely the reason she had been evicted from her home. Not surprisingly, she wasn’t claimed. We kept her, and I named her Kitty. After a short time, she gave birth in our closet to three kittens – two boys and a girl. It was near Halloween, and I named one of the male cats Pumpkin, even though he was gray and not orange. Although my mother said we could keep all the cats, Pumpkin was the one to whom I grew most attached. I still remember the day he and his brother left our hour and never came home. My mother said that they had probably followed a female cat’s trail and lost their way. I was upset with her that she let him roam. I was worried he’d been hit by a car or met some other horrible end. My only consolation was that I still had Kitty and her daughter. My mother spayed them both and kept them inside. They lived with us for 15 and 16 more years.

Another cat of mine went missing when I was much older and already married with a daughter. Although he was strictly a house cat, Stripey enjoyed sitting on the window when the screens were on to let in the nice warm air during the spring and summer. One day, we accidentally left the window open when we went to work, and Stripey knocked out the screen and escaped. My experience with Pumpkin returned to me as I faced my crying daughter when she found out Stripey was missing. I helped her put up signs on telephone poles in the neighborhood and at the library where I worked. We searched for him under bushes, near houses, and through surrounding streets with no luck. What made it harder was that it had recently rained, and I worried that the scent that helps cats find their ways home would have washed away. At the suggestion of my neighbor who knew our cat was missing, we placed some cat food on a paper plate by the back door of our screened-in porch and opened it wide enough for a cat to fit through. The inner door to our house was locked overnight. When I woke in the morning, Stripey was standing there looking at me through the glass. My daughter and I were overjoyed that he was back.

Having experienced both the loss and recovery of a missing cat, I knew that I could use those real-life memories to portray what happens to Sneaky the library cat in my third Cobble Cove Mystery, Written in Stone. When Sneaky disappears from the comforts of his upstairs cat room that is accessible from the staff lounge through a cat flap, Alicia and Laura, the two librarians closest to him, are consumed with both worry and guilt. Alicia, my main character, can’t get him off her mind as she walks through town. She is particularly worried about the effects of his disappearance on a young girl, Angelina, who is fighting leukemia and who enjoys seeing him at the library’s storytimes. The girl’s father, also concerned for his ill daughter, puts up a reward for information leading to Sneaky’s recovery. Even as more pressing matters occur in the book including a murder, a threat on her life, and the appearance of a beautiful woman from her husband’s past, the missing cat remains uppermost on Alicia’s mind. Will Sneaky be lost forever like Pumpkin; or, like Stripey, will he be reunited with his Cobble Cove friends?

About the  Author

debbie-delouiseDebbie De Louise is a reference librarian at a public library on Long Island and has been involved with books and writing for over thirty years. She received the Lawrence C. Lobaugh, jr. Memorial Award in Journalism for her work as Features Editor on the Long Island University/C. W. Post student newspaper, the Pioneer. More recently, Debbie received the Glamour Puss Award from Hartz Corporation for an article about cat grooming that appeared on Catster.com. She has published a short mystery in the Cat Crimes Through Time Anthology and two novels,CLOUDY RAINBOW and A STONE’S THROW, the first book of her Cobble Cove cozy mystery series. Her short stories, THE PATH TO RAINBOW BRIDGE and DEADLINE appear in the anthologies, REALMS OF FANTASTIC STORIES and PROJECT 9, Vol. 2 published by Solstice Publishing. She is currently working on a psychological thriller, the third Cobble Cove Mystery, and a new pet-related cozy series. She lives on Long Island with her husband, daughter, and two cats.

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May 7 – Lisa Ks Book Reviews – REVIEW, CHARACTER GUEST POST

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May 12 – deal sharing aunt – INTERVIEW

May 13 – My Reading Journeys – REVIEW

Posted in Cozy, Guest Post, mystery on May 3, 2017

Till Dirt Do Us Part by Teresa Trent
Cozy Mystery
Pecan Bayou #7

Approximately 219 pages

Synopsis

Not everything stays buried. When Betsy, a notorious brown thumb gets roped into a gardening contest sponsored by the Pecan Bayou Gazette, she finds herself digging up more than weeds. She is ridiculed by the garden club ladies, and now her heart breaks for a newly single mom whose world has just collapsed. The Happy Hinter is back so take some time to revisit the cozy little town Pecan Bayou, Texas. Grab a glass of sweet tea before you turn the dirt in the garden and sit a spell with all your favorite characters who dole out heartfelt caring and compassion with a side of humor. Till Dirt Do Us Part includes bonus recipes and helpful hints from Betsy’s column!

The book is FREE during the tour, so download your copy now!

Guest Post

Everyone Has a Story To Tell

By Teresa Trent

 

It always amazes me whenever I tell someone I’m a writer that within a few minutes they tell me about a book they have bubbling up inside of them. It seems everybody has a story to tell, but they don’t know where to begin to tell it.  Sometimes, their first thought is to have me tell it, but my mind is too crammed full of my own stories!  Here are some ideas for would-be, wanna-be, wish-to-be storytellers.

  1. Take your story idea to the mat. Time to ask the hard questions. Be mean and find the holes. For instance, you have this great idea about a dog that solves crimes. Ask yourself—how does he tell anyone what he has deduced? How does he defend himself against a killer? What happens when a squirrel interferes with his thought processes?
  2. Write the story from start to finish. I’m not talking book-length, but a few pages. There will be plot holes in your story, but that’s okay. This is your first road map. One thing you should know about writing is you’re never really finished. I’m sure some day my tombstone will read, “Teresa Trent—Currently in her second draft in her eternal existence.”
  3. Once you have written your story, find someone who will give supportive, constructive criticism. Don’t let anybody stomp on your dream.
  4. Revise your story again to fix problems and then you are ready to start the writing process. This means breaking that story down into scenes. I write scenes first and then assign them to chapters.

This all sounds so simple, right? Writing is a simple thing, but organizing, tweaking, and finding inspiration is something else.  Now it’s time to move from inspiration to discipline. Writing a book can take months that can lead to years. Writing for me is work, but it’s a job I dearly love. So, go ahead and let that story inside of you come bubbling out. Who knows? Maybe you’ll knock me down a peg on the Amazon sales list!

About the Author

Teresa Trent lives in Houston, Texas and is an award-winning mystery writer.  She writes the Pecan Bayou Mystery Series, is a regular contributor to the Happy Homicides Anthologies. Teresa is happy to add her Henry Park Mystery Series to her publishing credits with Color Me Dead, the first book in the series. Teresa has also won awards for her work in short stories where she loves to dabble in tales that are closer to the Twilight Zone than small town cozies. When Teresa isn’t writing, she is a full-time caregiver for her son and teaches preschoolers music part-time. Her favorite things include spending time with family and friends, waiting for brownies to come out of the oven, and of course, a good mystery.

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May 1 – Laura’s Interests – REVIEW

May 1 – 3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, &, Sissy, Too! – SPOTLIGHT

May 1 – Brooke Blogs – CHARACTER GUEST POST

May 1 – I Read What You Write – REVIEW

May 2 – A Blue Million Books – INTERVIEW

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May 2 – A Holland Reads – CHARACTER GUEST POST

May 3 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – INTERVIEW

May 3 – Rainy Day Reviews – REVIEW

May 3 – Books,Dreams,Life –  REVIEW, INTERVIEW

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May 4 – Cassidy’s Bookshelves – SPOTLIGHT

May 4 – Sleuth Cafe – SPOTLIGHT

May 4 – The Self-Rescue Princess –  CHARACTER INTERVIEW

May 4 – Community Bookstop – REVIEW

May 5 – Valerie’s Musings – SPOTLIGHT

May 5 – Mystery Thrillers and Romantic Suspense Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

May 5 – Island Confidential – CHARACTER INTERVIEW

May 5 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – SPOTLIGHT

Posted in excerpt, Giveaway, Guest Post, Thriller on April 25, 2017

Title: Chasing Hindy
Author: Darin Gibby
Publisher: Koehler Books
Pages: 284
Genre: Thriller

Synopsis

ADDY’S DREAM AS a patent attorney is to help bring a ground breaking energy technology to the world. Addy’s hopes soar when she is wooed by Quinn, an entrepreneur, to join his company that has purportedly invented a car that can run on water using an innovative catalyst. After resigning her partnership to join Quinn, Addy discovers things aren’t as they seem. The patent office suppresses the company’s patent applications and her life is threatened by unknown assailants if she doesn’t resign.

When she is arrested for stealing US technology from the patent office she realizes Quinn has used her. Now, Addy must find a way to clear her name while salvaging her dream of propelling this technology to the world, all while powerful forces attempt to stop her.

Guest Post

How I Come up With Book Ideas

(Or, How I Came up with the Idea that a Car Could Run on Water)

Ideas for books come in the strangest ways. For me, they often just seem to fall out of the sky, usually at the most unexpected times. I’ve written books or articles from ideas that woke me up in the middle of the night, from thoughts that came to me while running triathlons, and while taking hikes deep in the Rocky Mountains. I’ve even had some ideas come while sitting on a ski lift during a freezing blizzard.

The genesis behind Chasing Hindy came from a surprising source—a hypnotist. When I was in high school, we had an assembly where a hypnotist put a group of volunteers under hypnosis. One of the questions he asked them was what would be the fuel of the future. What fuel would people pump into their tank? Almost without exception they all said, “water!” The hypnotist then told the audience that every time he asked that question he received the same answer.

That was several decades ago, but I’ve always wondered whether that could possibly be true—and why all these people thought we’d all be driving cars that used water. In the following years, I realized that a car wouldn’t run on water per se, but from hydrogen that is extracted from water. The question, of course, is that if we know how to produce hydrogen, why aren’t there hydrogen cars? The answer is quite simple. As an engineer and patent attorney I know the science behind extracting hydrogen from water. The problem is that it takes more energy to do this than to just run a car on gasoline, or even electricity.

But what if somebody invented a way to make it happen? That’s the germ of an idea that led to Chasing Hindy.

Then, of course, is finding an idea for a main character. For me, a good character is far more difficult than finding a story idea. Not only does the character need to make the story line happen, but the readers need to relate to what the character is experiencing. I struggled with such a character for years, and, in fact, rewrote the book several times with other characters that just didn’t seem to work.

What made the story finally click was my discovery of Addy—a patent attorney with a dream to change the world. I decided on a female character (who was also a patent attorney) for several reasons. Perhaps the main reason was that female patent attorneys are in short supply and I wanted to encourage women to enter the profession. So I created Addy to hopefully show what a difference one person can make, and through her experience more women would want to become patent attorneys.

Excerpt

ADDY FELT LIKE jumping out of her car and doing a quick happy dance in the middle of stalled traffic. Her excitement at becoming  the  newest—and  youngest—partner  at  the intellectual property law firm of Wyckoff & Schechter was nearly overwhelming.

She grinned at the shadow on the hood of Hindy, her treasured retrofitted cherry red Shelby Mustang. The shadow was created by a barrel-sized, hydrogen-filled balloon that floated above the Mustang’s roof. Gawkers pointed and laughed as the Shelby eased down El Camino pulling the tethered balloon as if in a Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. The balloon—which on one side sported her law firm’s logo, and on the other Hindy in giant cursive script—was just an advertising gimmick to show her passion for alternative energies. It was only strapped to the roof on calm, sunny days when she was travelling at slow speeds using routes that avoided overpasses. The retrofitted Mustang was  really powered by four electric motors using electricity produced by solar panels and a conventional fuel cell.

At first, the Wyckoff partners questioned Addy’s prudence in strapping a floating balloon to the roof of any vehicle, but they’d come to admire the effectiveness of her marketing innovations. They even lifted their champagne glasses at the end of her mentor’s welcome speech acknowledging that her Shelby was responsible for bringing in increasing numbers of the “green” companies sprouting like weeds all over the Silicon Valley— inventive, entrepreneurial companies in need of legal advice and support for their patents.

While  the  traffic  inched  forward,  Addy  chuckled  with excitement. “Hindy, ol’ pal,” she said, patting the dashboard, “you and I are going places now! Next time some overzealous cops accuse you of being a traffic hazard, I’ll stare them down and inform them they’re messing with the partner of a highly prestigious law firm.”

Traffic  momentarily  loosened  and  Addy  eased  Hindy forward, careful not to snap the lines tethering the egg-shaped balloon. Addy sang along with Zissy Spaeth, pop rock’s newest and most flashy star, as Zissy belted out her latest hit, Light in Your Eyes, over the radio. In the corner of her eye she noticed a blaze of neon orange.

Her heart stopped. In the car next to her someone was pointing a bazooka-sized gizmo at her balloon. She blinked, trying to clear her vision.

A  flare shot  out,  aimed  straight  at  her  floating ball  of hydrogen.

Even in the late afternoon sunlight, it was impossible to miss the explosion. The dirigible burst into a giant fireball, then slowly deflated and floated down toward the Shelby’s crimson hood.

Addy  stomped  on  her  brakes,  hoping  the  balloon’s momentum would shoot the flaming mass forward. The fireball, safely secured by its fluorescent yellow nylon tethers, crashed down onto the windshield, blocking Addy’s view. She screeched to a halt, slammed her shoulder into the door, flung it open, and darted out, catching the heel of her pump on the doorjamb, which sent her sprawling headlong onto the pavement.

She heard tires squeal and at least a half dozen blaring horns. Stinging pain shot up from her elbow and knees. Thank goodness traffic had been just inching along.

Ignoring the pain, she bolted forward, arms raised, ready to yank the still-burning fabric off the windshield. Before she got close enough to grab it, the sweltering heat from the flames scorched her cheeks, and she shielded her eyes with her forearm. Just when she reached the hood, a breeze lifted the infernal blob and propelled it directly at her, the nylon cords now seared through.

She braced herself for the fireball when she felt arms wrap around her chest and yank her back, barely in time to avoid the searing molten mass of goo about to descend on her head, threatening to fry her face and melt her hair.

“Are you crazy? What are you thinking?” a deep voice bellowed in her ear, still holding her tight.

Together they watched what was left of the blimp float like a falling leaf onto the grassy shoulder, just like the Hindenburg did almost eighty years ago.

“Someone clearly doesn’t like you, short stuff,” her rescuer said, now standing next to her stroking his goatee, his face hidden behind dark sunglasses and a low-riding Dodgers cap. “More like out to get you. That was some kind of flare the driver shot at your blimp. I tried to spot his license plate, but it was covered up. Snapped a picture with my phone, though,” the man said fishing it from his pocket. “You can kind of see a tattoo on his forearm. The police will love this.”

Before she could thank him, someone cried out, “Call a fire truck! The grass!”

Brush fires in California were no joking matter. Addy could smell the smoldering grasses. A strong breeze fanned the flames, pushing the fire toward a row of redwood trees.

Then she heard a whiny voice coming from the milling crowd of stranded passengers who’d gathered to find out what was holding up their homeward commute. “I’ve seen that blimp before. I knew it was trouble,” the whiner complained.

“Yeah, but at least she’s part of the solution,” said someone else. “Her car doesn’t use gasoline. Look at what you’re driving,” he said, sneering at the whiny woman’s crossover SUV.

Addy’s knees buckled, her head spinning. She plopped down onto the pavement and hugged her bare legs. This couldn’t be happening.

Why would someone try to destroy her car?

About the Author

In addition to a thriving career as a novelist, author Darin Gibby is also one of the country’s premiere patent attorneys and a partner at the prestigious firm of Kilpatrick Townsend. With over twenty years of experience in obtaining patents on hundreds of inventions from the latest drug delivery systems to life-saving cardiac equipment, he has built IP portfolios for numerous Fortune 500 companies. In addition to securing patents, Gibby helps clients enforce and license their patents around the world, and he has monetized patents on a range of products.

Darin’s first book, Why Has America Stopped Inventing?, explored the critical issue of America’s broken patent system.  His second book, The Vintage Club, tells the story of a group of the world’s wealthiest men who are chasing a legend about a wine that can make you live forever. His third book, Gil, is about a high school coach who discovers that he can pitch with deadly speed and is given an offer to play with the Rockies during a player’s strike. Gil soon discovers, however, that his unexpected gift is the result of a rare disease, and continuing to pitch may hasten his own death.

With a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering and a Master of Business Administration degree, he is highly regarded in Denver’s legal and business community as a patent strategist, business manager, and community leader. He is also a sought-after speaker on IP issues at businesses, colleges and technology forums, where he demonstrates the value of patents using simple lessons from working on products such as Crocs shoes, Izzo golf straps and Trek bicycles.

An avid traveler and accomplished triathlete, Darin also enjoys back country fly-fishing trips and skiing in the Rocky Mountains. He lives in Denver with his wife, Robin, and their four children.

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Posted in Christian, Giveaway, Guest Post, mystery on April 24, 2017

DEEP EXTRACTION

An FBI Task Force Novel, Book 2

By DiAnn Mills

  Genre: Contemporary / Mystery / Christian

Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers

Date of Publication: April 4, 2017

Number of Pages: 413

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A pacemaker should have saved oil and gas magnate Nathan Moore’s life. Instead, it provided his killer with a seemingly perfect means of execution.

A bombing at one of Nathan’s oil rigs days earlier indicates his death could be part of a bigger conspiracy, a web Special Agent Tori Templeton must untangle. But her first order of business is separating the personal from the professional—the victim’s wife, her best friend, is one of the FBI’s prime suspects.

Clearing Sally’s name may be the biggest challenge of her career, but Tori finds an unexpected ally in the newest member of the task force, recently reinstated Deputy US Marshal Cole Jeffers. As Tori and Cole dig deeper into Nathan’s personal and business affairs, they uncover more than they bargained for. And the closer they get to finding the real killer—and to each other—the more intent someone is on silencing them for good.

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Praise for Deep Extraction

“Combined with intense action and stunning twists, this search for truth keeps readers on the edges of their favorite reading chairs.”  Romantic Times

“Mills many fans will devour” Library Journal

Goodreads readers praise Deep Extraction

“This was truly an amazing, suspenseful read that can be held up as an example of what good Christian suspense should be.”

“DiAnn Mills’ writing is evocative of an excellent crime show. Sharp and to the point. Just how I imagine law enforcement work, think and talk.”

“Mills’ has captured the rush of adrenaline along with a good romance. Suspense and adventure are the real stars of this book.  Her motto is, “Expect an Adventure,” and she achieves it in this book.”

 

 4 Ways the FBI Assists Other Agencies

The FBI works with local, state, federal, and tribal law enforcement to investigate and share information to help solve and prevent crime. Through the following services, they are an integral federal agency dedicated to the wellbeing of the United States and global allies.

“The most effective weapon against crime is cooperation…the efforts of all law enforcement agencies with the support and understanding of the American people.”  J. Edgar Hoover

In my new series, FBI Task Force, I needed accurate information as to how the FBI assists other agencies. The following came from my friend Shauna Dunlap, Special Agent/Media Coordinator for Houston’s FBI.

  1. The FBI’s National and local Joint Terrorism Task Forces (There are JTTF’s in each of the 56 field offices) These small groups of agents do everything required to run down leads, train, gather intel, and everything in between.
  2. Under the Attorney General Guidelines, the FBI is able to assist local, state and other federal partners investigating federal crimes or threats to national security or for example. we assist other agencies investigating violent acts or mass killings as noted in federal law: 28, USC 530c 9b) (1) (M) (i)
  3. Intelligence Information Sharing
  4. Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS)

Isn’t it good to know that trained people are working together to keep us safe?

DiAnn Mills is a bestselling author who believes her readers should expect an adventure. She combines unforgettable characters with unpredictable plots to create action-packed, suspense-filled novels.

Her titles have appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists; won two Christy Awards; and been finalists for the RITA, Daphne Du Maurier, Inspirational Readers’ Choice, and Carol award contests. Library Journal presented her with a Best Books 2014: Genre Fiction award in the Christian Fiction category for Firewall.

DiAnn is a founding board member of the American Christian Fiction Writers; a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association; International Thriller Writers, and the Faith, Hope, and Love chapter of Romance Writers of America. She is co-director of The Author Roadmap with social media specialist Edie Melson where she continues her passion of helping other writers be successful. She speaks to various groups and teaches writing workshops around the country.

DiAnn has been termed a coffee snob and roasts her own coffee beans. She’s an avid reader, loves to cook, and believes her grandchildren are the smartest kids in the universe. She and her husband live in sunny Houston, Texas.

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20-Apr Missus Gonzo Review
21-Apr Books in the Garden Guest Post: 4 Agencies You Didn’t Know Worked With the FBI
22-Apr Chapter Break Book Blog Review
23-Apr Texas Book Lover Excerpt: Chapter 1, Part 1
24-Apr StoreyBook Reviews Guest Post: 4 Ways the FBI Assists Other Agencies
25-Apr Forgotten Winds Review
26-Apr Blogging for the Love of Authors and Their Books Guest Post: 6 Ways the FBI Investigates a Potential Threat
27-Apr Margie’s Must Reads Guest Post: 9 Crimes the FBI Investigates
28-Apr Reading By Moonlight Review
29-Apr My Book Fix Blog Guest Post: 10 Ways to Show Character Growth and Change
30-Apr A Novel Reality Promo
1-May Books and Broomsticks Review
2-May The Page Unbound Guest Post: 10 Ways to Show You’re a Strong Woman
3-May Momma On The Rocks Excerpt: Chapter 1, Part 2
4-May Syd Savvy Review

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Posted in Giveaway, Guest Post, Interview, mystery, suspense, Young Adult on April 20, 2017

EVIDENCE OF THINGS NOT SEEN
By Lindsey Lane

 

  Genre: YA /  Mystery / Suspense

Publisher: Farrar Straus Giroux

Date of Publication: December 16, 2015

Number of Pages: 240

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Tommy Smythe is missing.

Fact: Tommy was good at physics and less good at basic human interactions.

Fact: Tommy recorded his thoughts and observations in a notebook.

Fact: Tommy believed in the existence of parallel universes.

Fact: Tommy was adopted.

The facts are simple. The conclusions to be drawn from the facts are not simple. Did he run away to find his birth parents? Did he slip through a wormhole and enter one of the multiple universes he believed in? Did he simply wander off?

Only one thing is certain: until a possibility is proven true, all possibilities exist.

Told through multiple perspectives, here is a story about how residents of a small town seek answers to the mystery of a teen’s disappearance.

Amazon  *  BookPeople

Praise

“In her first novel for teens, Lane offers a gripping and genre bending mosaic.” – Publishers Weekly

“Complex and Rich” – Horn Book

“This is the kind of book you tuck in with and escape into, and it will stay with you long after you finish the last lines.  Haunting and beautiful.” – Jennifer Mathieu, author of The Truth About AliceDevoted, and Afterward

“The narrative jiggers between unexpected opposites—joy and fear, love and violence, grief and hope—all the while holding forth the constant idea that the world offers us credible evidence of what seems impossible if we only know where to look.”  J.L. Powers, author of Amina, This Thing Called The Future, and the forthcoming Broken Circle

“Ever look at a pearl and notice that its one color is, in fact, many colors? That’s the beauty of EVIDENCE OF THINGS NOT SEEN, the stunning debut novel by Lindsey Lane.” – Conrad Wesselhoeft, author of Adios Nirvana, Dirt Bikes, Drones and Other Ways To Fly

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A Dead End That Changed My Direction

Guest Post by Lindsey Lane

In a way, the beginning and ending of every book must be discovered.

Let me explain. For Evidence of Things Not Seen, there were a few beginnings. There was the beginning when I woke up from a dream where I saw a boy standing in a pull out by the side of the road. I wondered what that boy was doing there, so I began writing into the dream, into the place by the side of the road, into that landscape and its people.

But there was also the beginning several years before when I wrote a play called The Miracle of Washing Dishes, which was a play about the epiphanies characters had while washing dishes. The epiphanies and the dishes held the play together. I think the play was a success because people like to witness epiphanies. They like to feel their world can be shifted even if they are too afraid to do it themselves.

There was also the beginning when Alexander Calder’s mobiles touched my work and I realized that I could fracture a storyline and that all the fragments would still hold together and tell a complete story with spaces for the reader to enter in and make it their own.

These few beginnings above informed me as a writer. They brought me to the place of telling this particular story. The boy led me into the world of the pullout where everyone who came there had some sort of epiphany. The characters each had their own gossamer thread and, because the center of the story was missing (Tommy), the threads wobbled (like pieces of a mobile) as they do when some thing has gone missing from our lives. Each time we come to the pages of our manuscripts, we bring our history as well our intention to tell a true and honest story. We quarry for the best nuggets and we line them up one by one leading the reader deeper into the world we have created.

But where do we take our readers once we have them traveling the bloodlines of our stories? Where do we want them to land? What feeling do we want them to have as they step away our stories? Comfort? Despair? Promise?

My original ending had a bow on it. Luckily enough, an agent was reading my manuscript and she was quite enthused about it. She kept emailing me all the way along, saying how much she liked each chapter and how deep and finely woven each character was. When she got to the ending, she wrote, “With the tenor of this book, I don’t believe you can wrap things up so neatly. “

I took another look.

If each story line shakes the characters to their core and brings them to a revelation, could I really wrap the whole kit and caboodle in a bow?

I knew that I didn’t want to land in a place of despair. That wasn’t the essential truth in each character. Each epiphany, each revelation was meant to be positive. You see, essentially, I believe that people treat people like they want to be treated and that given a choice, we fall on the side of good. But at the same time, there is a natural anxiety in being alive. We don’t know what will happen tomorrow. We don’t know what will happen when we wake up in the morning. We can feel afraid. Or we can live with the mystery and find the promise that something good might happen. That’s where I landed the book: there is promise in the mystery.

Lindsey Lane is the author of the young adult novel Evidence of Things Not Seen (Farrar Straus Giroux) and the award-winning picture book and iTunes app Snuggle Mountain (Clarion/PicPocket Books). She is represented by Erin Murphy Literary Agency. Before she received her MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts in 2010, Lindsey was a features journalist (Austin Chronicle and Austin American Statesman) and an award-winning playwright (The Miracle of Washing Dishes). Lindsey is a featured presenter at schools and conferences and universities and also teaches writing at Austin Community College, Writers League of Texas, and the Writing Barn. She lives in Austin, Texas but loves to travel, especially to the ocean. She loves books, films, good food and her cadre of dear friends. Her idea of a perfect evening is having a dinner party at her home with friends from around the world and discussing everything under the sun while eating, drinking, and laughing.

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CHECK OUT THE OTHER GREAT BLOGS ON THE TOUR

4/12 Video Guest Post Forgotten Winds
4/13 Playlist Texas Book Lover
4/14 Review Reading By Moonlight
4/15 Excerpt Take Me Away
4/16 Author Interview Missus Gonzo
4/17 Review It’s a Jenn World
4/18 Scrapbook Books in the Garden
4/19 Review CGB Blog Tours
4/20 Guest Post StoreyBook Reviews
4/21 Review The Page Unbound

 

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