Why I Write Gothic Mysteries by Blair Yeatts – Guest Blog and Giveaway

VBT_ThisMadnessOfTheHeart_Banner copy

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Blair Yeatts will be awarding a $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Why I Write Gothic Mysteries

Answering 1000’s of blog-tour interview questions about This Madness of the Heart, along with composing a few blog posts, had the curious result of making me think more about what I write—instead of just creating a massive sense of blog-overdose. So at the moment, anyway, this seems like an intriguing question.

I didn’t know I was writing “gothic” mysteries when I wrote them. New York Times Bestselling author Gail Godwin pointed out my new genre to me after taking a look at Madness. What came to my mind when she used the word was a hazy recollection of formulaic mid-20th C books by Victoria Holt, and I knew (or at least hoped) that Madness had little in common with these. I was so profoundly puzzled that I went to the Internet to look up “gothic” novels. Here I give you the elements of a gothic novel, according to Robert Harris (http://www.virtualsalt.com/gothic.htm):

1. Setting in a castle, mansion, or other mysterious/haunted structure: Madness focuses on a haunted plantation and a likely-to-be-haunted old chapel and Victorian mansion.
2. An air of mystery and suspense: yep.
3. An ancient prophecy or curse: The whole Durham family in Madness is under an old Vodun curse.
4. Dreams, visions, portents of evil: Miranda is a true dreamer and has more than one prophetic dream.
5. Supernatural events: definitely, especially on All Hallows Eve.
6. High emotion: Madness has its fair share of this, but not, I hope, to the point of being overwrought.
7. Women in distress: Well, yes, but not in the helpless, screaming, soon-to-be-ravished sense; Madness has a more feminist take on female distress.
8. Women threatened by tyrannical male: Ditto
9. Metaphors of gloom and horror: Not so much, but some
10. Gothic vocabulary chosen to enhance mood: Yep.

So much for gothic: apparently Godwin chose her word well. But why would I have written a gothic novel, when I intended to write a mystery? To the best of my knowledge, the last gothic novel I read was Anya Seton’s Green Darkness somewhere around 1980—and I’m not even certain it was gothic! Sure, I’d read and loved Mary Stewart as a teenager, and they were definitely gothic, but I can hardly remember them now.

Maybe asking why I wrote mysteries would be easier. I’ve always loved mysteries. I owned the whole Nancy Drew corpus as a young teenager. That morphed into a taste for Agatha Christie, and eventually for people like Dorothy L. Sayers, Ngaio Marsh, Elizabeth George, Martha Grimes, Elizabeth Peters, P. D. James, Nevada Barr, and Charles Todd. But why did I read mysteries, and these writers in particular? I know I wasn’t like JFK, who liked mysteries as puzzles. I cared very little about figuring out whodunit: I enjoyed the ongoing characters and watching how their minds worked. Maybe even more than that, I liked the reassuring structure of the sleuth who would always return in the next book: horrible things happened, and they couldn’t be undone, but sense could be made of them, evil vanquished (more or less), and life would go on. That’s probably a good summary of my idea of a good fiction read: complex, clever, likeable characters who survive serious violence and evil (perhaps from book to book), and bring resolution and meaning in the end, even if there’s not exactly a happy ending. In fact, that’s not a bad description of the three Miranda Lamden mysteries I’ve completed.

I often call my books mystery/thrillers because the definition of “mystery” seems too constrictive—apparently real mysteries emphasize whodunit plotting, deceptively likely villains, alibis, and timing. I prefer to go my own way. My personal definition of a mystery would be a story involving a murder/murders/violent crime and the adventures and difficulties had by the main characters in figuring out how and why it happened. This doesn’t mean that the readers—or the characters—are ignorant of the guilty one’s identity, although they may be. The book’s action consists of solving the puzzle behind the crime, but the puzzle is always more complex than the simple identity of the villain.

So now we return to the original question: why gothic mysteries? I suspect the answer lies in why I included “gothic” elements in my books (and they all have them) without knowing they were gothic—or even being a reader of gothic fiction. It’s a question of definitions, points of view, and simply how people make sense of the world. As a retired professor of religion with a mystical bent, spirit is part of my world. It’s woven into every piece of reality, every human being, and into non-human nature as well. I could no more write a book about life and death, danger and insight, without including “spiritual” elements than I could write the same book in Mandarin. But what to me is normal and universally present in reality . . . is “gothic,” “supernatural,” “unrealistic,” and “overwrought” to many of the people who spend their time sorting ideas into literary categories.

I think I may create a new genre: “Spiritual Mysteries,” maybe. Or “Murder and Spiritworld.” Even “Dimensional Mysteries.” You get the idea. Labels may be necessary, but they sure can suck the life out.

MediaKit_BookCover_ThisMadnessOfTheHeartBad religion can be deadly. So Miranda Lamden, small-town religion professor, discovers in This Madness of the Heart. The dark hollers of Eastern Kentucky offer fertile soil for shady evangelist Jasper Jarboe, new president of Grace and Glory Bible College, as he beguiles the small mining town of Canaan Wells with his snake-oil charm.

When Miranda isn’t teaching at Obadiah Durham College, she’s investigating paranormal phenomena—or enjoying a turbulent romantic relationship with backwoods artist Jack Crispen. JJ’s inquisition-style gospel has alienated her long since, but when he announces his plan to transform her forest home into an evangelical Mecca, complete with neon cross and 40-foot Jesus, Miranda girds her loins for war. But JJ isn’t finished: he goes on to launch an attack on her friend and fellow professor Djinn Baude with an avalanche of vicious rumors. Not only does he accuse Djinn of demonic communion with the old Voudon witch whose curse killed the college’s founding family, but he also smears her with insinuations of lechery and vice.

With JJ’s urging, hate boils over into violence and tragedy, sweeping Miranda up in its flood. One death follows another as a miasma of evil overwhelms the tiny community, and only Miranda can see clearly enough to halt its spread.

This Madness of the Heart is the first in a new series of Gothic mystery-thrillers featuring Professor Miranda Lamden, whose spiritual gifts have drawn her beyond university walls to explore the mysteries of other world beliefs. Her unique vision brings her into repeated confrontations with evil, where too often she finds herself standing alone between oblivious onlookers and impending disaster.

Enjoy an Excerpt:

I had to stop him! Now, before the damage was done!

I never even got to try.

Like a sullen current of arctic air pouring through a cracked door, cold snaked down over us, coiling around my senses, freezing my anger, congealing my blood: an implacable sister to the malevolence in the garden. I ground my teeth to stifle the scream begging to be born. Even so, a small voice spoke from outside my fear, detached and curious.

“This cold is not the same,” the voice observed. “There’s a difference. It’s not threatening so much as warning, ‘Keep off! Stand clear! Don’t interfere!’”

Immobilized by fear, I was incapable of interfering.

At first I thought my teeth were chattering. A split second later I realized the wind had dropped without warning, the riot of sound had ceased, and a clicking sound had filled the darkness. “Tch-tch-tch-tch-tch-tch-tch-tch-tch-tch-tch-tch-tch,” the sound ran on and on—no more than a field of insects, of snakes, singing in the night.

The light from JJ’s lantern brightened, bloomed, and died, shooting soft rainbows into the night. Cold weighed even more cruelly upon my breast, pressing me against the rough wall at my back, blotting all light from my eyes. Then the clicking stopped, and in the utterly empty dark, I heard the sound of stone rasping on stone, of crumbling brickwork tearing loose from rotten mortar, and the hollow thunk of heavy masonry falling ponderously onto yielding clay.

A soft sigh whispered through the grove. Then there was silence.

About the Author:MediaKit_AuthorPhoto_ThisMadnessOfTheHeartBlair Yeatts grew up in the midst of a large, old southern Virginia family, much like the family of her main character. She followed her parents into a career in academia and taught religion at the college level in Kentucky for many years. Her special areas of expertise are psychology and Earth-based religions, in which she has done considerable research.

From childhood, Ms. Yeatts has been a fan of mystery fiction, starting with Nancy Drew and moving through Agatha Christie to twentieth century giants like Dorothy L. Sayers, P.D. James, and Nevada Barr. She is fulfilling a life’s dream in writing her own mysteries.

Ms. Yeatts shares her home with her photographer husband, two cats, and a dog. She has a lifelong love of wild nature, and prefers to set her stories in rural areas, where threads of old spiritual realities still make themselves felt. Her first three books take place in different parts of Kentucky and Tennessee.

Twitter | Website | Facebook | Booklife | Goodreads | LinkedIn

Buy the book at Amazon or get it for FREE from Smashwords.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Sound of Running Horses by Donna Ball – Spotlight and Giveaway

BB_TheSoundOfRunningHorses_Banner copy

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Donna will be awarding a $25 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

MediaKit_BookCover_TheSoundOfRunningHorsesStill recovering from the traumatic events of the past year, newlyweds Aggie Malone, police chief of Dogleg Island, and Deputy Sheriff Ryan Grady are looking forward to a carefree day of picnics, pirates and buried treasure with their precocious—and uncannily perceptive– border collie, Flash. But when Flash discovers a body in a shallow grave on the deserted Wild Horse Island Nature Preserve, a tangled knot of conspiracy, murder and deception begins to unfold, revealing that the things that are buried are often the most dangerous and the only pirates you have to fear are the ones that live next door.

Fifteen hundred miles away, an ex-con and a fifteen year old girl embark upon a crime spree that will earn them the nicknames “Bonnie and Clyde”. As they make their way inexorably south, Aggie, Grady and Flash are thrust into the middle of a murder investigation that leads to the arrest of one of their neighbors and the attempted suicide of another. When a search of the dead girl’s belongings reveals a priceless emerald bracelet and two of the islands most popular residents go missing, the puzzle becomes even more complicated. Grady and Aggie struggle to put all the pieces into place while Flash, ever obsessed with understanding the human condition, wrestles with a more painful dilemma: how do you tell the good guys from the bad guys when they are so often the same person?

Enjoy an excerpt

Tracy heard the sound of a car engine rounding the corner at the intersection of Pine and Park, and in another moment she saw the flash of headlights. Her heart slammed and she shrank back against the building, but as the car turned into the park near the streetlight she noticed the distinctive primer-gray passenger door and heard the familiar thrum of the stereo’s sub-woofers. She snatched up her backpack and ran into the light.

Steve leaned over to push open the passenger door for her and she climbed in, tossing her backpack into the back seat. The car smelled like stale cigarette smoke and spilled beer, the best smells in the world to her. Steve wrapped an arm around her neck and kissed her hard. Then he grinned at her. “Ready for an adventure, baby?”

She replied breathlessly, “Ready!”

Tracy Ann Sullivan was fifteen years old. A year ago she had never smoked a cigarette, or shoplifted condoms from a drugstore, or even made out with a boy for longer than a few minutes. Until now, the furthest she had ever been from home was summer camp. She was a basically a good girl. If anyone had told her that within a week she’d be wanted for grand theft auto, armed robbery, and murder, she would have laughed.

But that was exactly what was going to happen.

About the Author:MediaKit_AuthorPhoto_TheSoundOfRunningHorsesDonna Ball is the author of over a hundred novels under several different pseudonyms in a variety of genres that include romance, mystery, suspense, paranormal, western adventure, historical and women’s fiction. Recent popular series include the Ladybug Farm series by Berkley Books and the Raine Stockton Dog Mystery series. Donna is an avid dog lover and her dogs have won numerous titles for agility, obedience and canine musical freestyle. She divides her time between the Blue Ridge mountains and the east coast of Florida, where she lives with a variety of four-footed companions.

Website

The Sound of Running Horses, Book Two in the Dogleg Island Mystery series, is available July 15 2016. Buy it from Amazon.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Murder Most Yowl by Quinn Dressler – Guest Blog and Giveaway

7_1 quinn dressler MurderMostYowl_headerbanner

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by the publisher. Enter the Rafflecopter at the end of the post for a chance to win a $25 Amazon GC.

*****
Hi everyone.

My name is Quinn and I’d like to thank Long and Short Reviews for giving me the chance to introduce myself and chat with you all about writing, or in this particular case, procrastination.

While writing is the greatest fun in the world, I love creating new characters and thinking up exciting and scary adventures to put them through, it’s really hard.

I found a perfect example of the trials writers go through while watching an episode of the classic Dick Van Dyke Show. In the episode “A Farewell to Writing” Rob is full of jealousy when his friend finally finishes his novel. Rob vows then and there to spend the rest of his vacation completing his long worked on book. He rushes out to buy new supplies, but keeps being interrupted every time he begins to write.

First the phone rings and he wants to know who’s on the line. Then he listens in as his wife, Laura, and her friend trade gossip. He ends up jumping away from the typewriter every time he hears a noise rather than write.

Exasperated, Laura sends him off to work in a remote cabin where he won’t be disturbed. Trouble is there are plenty of intriguing distractions if one wants to find them, even in the woods. Rob spends more time playing, first with a paddle ball, then dressed up as cowboy, than writing. The ultimate end is when he builds a wooden trash basket so he can rip the, mostly, blank page from the typewriter, wad it into a ball and toss it away.

I highly recommend the episode to anyone who wants to be a writer or knows a writer. It’s a hilarious example of just how hard it is to transcribe your thoughts to paper, or in this modern world, to the computer screen.

For me, like Rob, the hardest part is to get going. I know how hard it is to paint a picture with words. For me it’s easy to create an intriguing character and to find compelling and exciting problems for him to overcome. It’s when I try to bring my fictional world to life that I face my hardest writing task. I can so clearly picture the most intimate details of a scene easily in my mind, then when I put stylus to screen, my brain struggles to find the right words to describe my vision.

Description is hard.

Still, I’ve made great progress since I first started writing four years ago. In addition to getting advice about how to make words sing from other authors, I’ve decided to take a fresh look at the world during every day.

For example, while I take my daily walk, got to get rid of those extra pounds, I no longer just glance at the houses and people as I go by. I think, how would I describe this block if I were setting a scene.

Instead of a dingy block with no sidewalks, I’d think: She had no choice but to walk down the middle of the street. This block was developed during the 1950s where the automobile was king. No one ever envisioned the need to walk, anywhere, ever again.

See…

That’s my challenge. Writing is a work in progress. No matter what I’ve achieved, I will always work to be better.

At least I’m doing better than poor Rob. I’ve actually finished my first book. Check out Murder Most Yowl, published by Dreamspinner Press and available on Amazon.

Let know how I did. You can reach me at any of the links below.

Until we chat again.

Quinn

7_1 quinn dressler MurderMostYowlFSCat-sitting is a dangerous business.
Cameron Sherwood turned his back on law enforcement the night his investigation led to the death of an innocent gay man. Now Cam spends his time running a business that caters to his favorite animal, cats. But when Cam stumbles upon the body of a friend while feeding her feline, he can’t walk away. Dealing with a sexy yet stubborn sheriff, a matchmaking sister, and a terrifying blind date, Cam must somehow track down a killer, all while keeping the cats around him fed with his gourmet cat treats.

Enjoy an excerpt:

As I stepped into the living room, the small of my back itched. My hand whirled around my side, reaching for the Glock 23 that no longer nestled between my belt and my skin.

This was ridiculous.

I hadn’t carried a gun for three years, not since I handed my boss a paper that clearly stated, right under the NCIS logo, that Cameron Sherwood was no longer available to do his dirty work. I no longer faced armed terrorists or drug dealers with alarming frequency. These days the worst adversary I came across was a puffed-up cat sporting unsheathed claws.

So why did I reach for a nonexistent gun?

Everything looked normal. Fran Welch always kept her living room in pristine shape. I didn’t care for her color scheme. White furniture on top of a cream carpet was a little too sterile for me, but she didn’t pay me to criticize her taste.

She did, however, pay me to take care of her cat while she was gone. Speaking of Mr. Muffin Tops….

“Here, kitty, kitty, kitty.” I jiggled the plastic bag up and down. “I have your favorite treats.”

Nothing.

Where was that cat? Usually I only had to shake the bag once. The spoiled boy would appear out of nowhere, twining himself between my legs. Then he’d open his mouth, ready to accept any morsel of tuna, sautéed in salmon oil, which happened to drop his way.

Not today.

A breeze whipped through the open door, causing the drapes to flutter. The rest of the room was dead still.

“Here, Mr. Muffin Tops. Come on, boy.”

Nothing.

Ms. Welch trusted me to care for her baby while she was in New York. I had to find him.

I shut the front door, then moved farther into the house. I kept an eye on my feet, not wanting to step on anything important. A habit I picked up years ago while walking through crime scenes.

Crime scene?

Why was I being so cautious? So a cat didn’t come when I called. That didn’t mean I was walking into trouble. The small of my back needed to get with the program.

I scratched my back, then made myself walk like a normal person, not caring what I stepped on. Ms. Welch might have shut the cat up in the kitchen when she left this morning, although she never had before.

When I stepped into the hall, the itch intensified into a full-fledged hackle. There on the left, the den door hung open, a sure sign that something was wrong.

Ms. Welch’s den was her workroom, the place where she planned her fabulous parties, and like any work area, it was a mess. She left the door open once and I accidently got a look inside. We were both mortified, and immediately pretended that it never happened. Ms. Welch’s home was her showcase. She never wanted visitors to see anything as ordinary as a pile of papers on the desk. She certainly wouldn’t leave on a trip without pulling that door closed.

Back in stealth mode—I couldn’t help myself—I tiptoed toward the den. Now I really missed my Glock. I searched the hallway for another weapon. An oil painting of a ship sailing through a hurricane hung on the opposite wall. Such a small ship was doomed to be swamped by the intense waves surrounding it. I hoped I wasn’t about to suffer the same fate.

I bunched my fingers into a fist and looked through the open doorway. My caution was justified. The den was a disaster.

Ripped from their shelves, dozens of Ms. Welch’s books littered the floor. Scattered papers covered every surface of the room, and the drawers of the filing cabinet hung open and empty. A broken vase lay next to a smashed computer monitor, the desktop covered with fragments of glass and pottery. Someone had torn a photograph of Ms. Welch into pieces. She smiled at me from one large fragment, her heart-shaped pendant around her neck.

A quiet yowl came from the right. I risked a step inside. A huddled mass of fur lay on the rug under the window.

“Mr. Muffin Tops!”

His legs twitched as he tossed from side to side, like he was groggy and trying to clear his thoughts. Blood pooled on top of his head, coating the orange fur between his ears with red.

“Oh, God.”

I had to get him to a vet. Forgetting about being careful, I crossed in front of the desk, then stopped cold.
Ms. Welch lay on the floor, between the workspace and the cat. Her skirt hiked up, revealing far too much of her leg, her blood seeping into the beige carpet.

Blood from a very big hole in her chest.

About the Author:7_1 quinn dressler

Quinn’s always been thinking up stories. A shy kid, she conjured up adventures while walking home from school. At first she only kept her tales to herself, then she shared them through fan fiction and short stories. She got a job with local TV stations, passing on noteworthy events to viewers on the evening news, winning a Golden Mic and three Emmy awards. Now as long as her cats don’t help her by walking on her keyboard, she’s working on writing more stories so everyone can enjoy them.

Blog | Facebook | Dreamspinner Author Page | Twitter | Goodreads
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Drop Dead Handsome by M.K. Scott – Spotlight and Giveaway

BB_DropDeadHandsome_Banner copy

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. The author will be awarding a prize to multiple winners such as $50 Amazon Gift Cards, $15 Target or Groupon Gift Cards and other GCs and books to randomly drawn winners via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Dilapidated Victorian house appears "haunted"The Painted Lady Inn is open for business and limping along in the B and B world. A high school reunion package assembles Donna’s least desirable classmates, including the backstabbing cheerleader, her narcissistic high school crush, and Arnie, whose cheesy poem had everyone calling her, hot mama. It’s all something she liked to forget. These are the normal guests.

An octogenarian self-proclaimed sleuth, Father Christmas, a dognapping couple, and a pair who is copying everything in the Inn to set up their own competitive establishment rounds out the group. Maria, the sister-in-law, has a matchmaking agenda for Donna. Daniel, her brother, finds himself serving as a referee with one guest’s multiple wives.

High school reunions can be murder. Detective Mark Taber is on the trail of the murderer, when he isn’t interfering in a smitten Arnie’s determined bid to woo the no nonsense innkeeper.

Enjoy an excerpt:

“Hello. Welcome to The Painted Lady Inn. Thanks for choosing the Lady for your weekend getaway.” She held the smile in place, questioning her choice of a name for her bed and breakfast. Daniel remarked it sounded like something out of a horror movie, as if it would come to life.

The woman didn’t answer, but took two more steps closer, then placed her bag on the floor. “I’m glad to be here before the sun sets.”

“You made it.” Her cheeks were starting to ache from continually smiling. Well, that and acting like a genial innkeeper. Why couldn’t she’d just be normal Donna Tollhouse?

“Yes, yes, I did.” The woman glanced around the foyer that had several open doors to the front parlor, library, and dining room. Her lips pursed as her eyes flicked upward.

No dust anywhere and the floors gleamed where they weren’t covered by a floral runner.

“May I have your name, please?”

The woman gave a nervous laugh, which seemed out of place.

“Lorena, Lorena Fitzgerald.”

Convenient, since she was the first name on the list. Her hand gripped the heavy reunion basket and held it out to Lorena. “Compliments of the inn for your stay.” The woman’s French tipped manicured hand wrapped around the basket handle beside Donna’s. “Enjoy the reunion.”

Lorena’s eyes widened. “There’s a reunion? What type?”

Donna had relinquished the basket unaware that her guest didn’t merit it. Too late to take it back too, especially since the woman was now poking through it making pleasurable noises. With her luck, the couple out antiquing would hear about it and expect one too. Well, she did have a couple cases of Reunion Red.

“Ah yes, the local high school is having a reunion. Thirty-one years.”

Lorena fanned her free hand in front of her as if overcome by the thought of a reunion. “Thirty-one years. Goodness, I’ve only been out of school barely twenty years.”

Taking a page from Detective Taber’s book, she ran a hand over her face, hoping to hide her smirk. Okay, the woman looked good, but not that good. A woman in her thirties would wear something a little more playful, edgy, or even more casual. The shoes and sweater set declared her mid-forty. Once she recovered her innkeeper face, she dropped her hand.

About the Author: MediaKit_AuthorPhoto_DropDeadHandsome
M. K. Scott is the husband and wife writing team behind The Painted Lady Inn Mysteries. Morgan K Wyatt is the general wordsmith, while her husband, Scott, is the grammar hammer and physics specialist. He uses his engineering skills to explain how fast a body falls when pushed over a cliff and various other felonious activities. The Internet and experts in the field provide forensic information, while the recipes and B and B details require a more hands on approach. Morgan’s daughter who manages a hotel provides guest horror stories to fuel the plot lines. The couple’s dog, Chance, is the inspiration behind Jasper, Donna’s dog. Murder Mansion is the first book in The Painted Lady Inn Mysteries. Overall, it is a fun series to create and read. Drop Dead Handsome is the second book in the series. Killer Review should be out in October 2016.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Pinterest | tsu

Buy the book at Amazon, Amazon UK, Amazon Canada, Amazon Australia, Amazon Mexico, or Smashwords. Forthcoming on KOBO, iTunes, and Barnes and Noble.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sparkles by Michael Halfhill – Spotlight

6_29 michael a

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by the publisher to celebrate the release of Michael Halfhill’s debut novel Sparkles.

6_29 michaelA life cut short; unsolved robberies plaguing Philadelphia’s Jeweler’s Row; a cryptic message scrawled on a paper napkin; a Romanov prince; a young man held captive in Iran; a terrorist cell bent on revenge; and an opera company due to mount a rarely performed production of Handel’s Alexander’s Feast. What do these have to do with Jan Phillips?

One plunges Jan into a prolonged sadness. One leads him on a race to prevent a nuclear disaster. One offers Jan the promise of renewed love. One leads him to reluctantly wield his power as a Mundus master. One is bent on shattering thousands of lives beyond repair, while one unknowingly holds the key to the mystery that has baffled Philadelphia’s finest. Follow Jan as he untangles this Gordian knot that will alter his life in a way he never thought possible.

Enjoy an excerpt:

Jan wandered around the home he had shared with Michael in a quiet daze. He stared at the bare living room as if searching for something he had lost, at last coming before the huge wall of thick glass that overlooked the broad Delaware River. Jan looked at his reflection as if seeing it for the first time. Ever young; that’s how people described him. At forty-eight, Jan still possessed smooth pale skin, luminous gray eyes, and hair the color of new corn silk. His only flaw, if there was one, was his five foot seven inch frame. Yet that too was toned to youthful hardness. Even Michael would gently mock him, Don’t you ever age?

Jan gazed up at the velvet night sky as a light rain began to fall. The gleaming lights from the distant New Jersey shoreline broke through the window’s dense glass, but without their usual cheerful effect. They twinkled brightly, as if nothing had happened. But something had happened and no one came to tell him it was all a mistake and that Michael was alive and waiting for him downstairs in the car. His solitude was real and complete, and Jan found himself unable to live alone in the sprawling riverside loft. Even now, though empty of all their furnishings, the rooms whispered, screamed, laughed, and wept with him. Powerless to will them away, his mind clawed back from the walls years of conversations, as if they had occurred only moments ago. And then there was Mundus. Mundus—global, secret, immensely influential, with only three goals: peace, tolerance, and balance—it was the one constant in an inconstant world. The fourth-floor ultra secret command center that kept Jan connected with his Mundus global counterparts was safely relocated. There would be no need for him to return here.

Effendi?”

Jan turned to see Amal standing nearby, a light raincoat draped over his forearm. Dear faithful Amal. He had been with Jan for many years, attaching himself like a protective barnacle. An Egyptian and a devout Muslim, Amal was troubled by Jan’s behind-closed-doors relationship with Michael, yet he loved his master too well not to serve him. Although he had a room of his own in the sprawling loft, Amal chose instead to sleep on a cot just outside Jan’s bedroom door. He never complained. He rarely spoke.

“Forgive me, Effendi… we should… it is time to go.”

Jan took one last look at the deserted space. Was it his imagination, or did he just see Michael slip out the door?

About the Author:I was born in February 1944 three months before the end of WWII. Until the age of 16 I lived with my family in a small coal town in W.Va. I was raised a Catholic and as I child I was very devout. Until college, Capuchin monks and nuns—mostly from Italy and Ireland, meted out my education. That probably explains why my Latin has a decidedly Italian accent. When I was sixteen my father moved the family to Delaware. I finished college just as the Viet Nam War began to engulf our nation. I joined the army and trained as a tank gunner. After leaving the army I returned to Delaware where I built a career in analytical science. I retired after 37 years with the DuPont Company. I’ve traveled throughout Europe, Central America and Asia. All of my books derive from my experiences (at least emotionally) from my loathing of war and violence; my understanding of life choices and the consequences that flow from these—those we anticipate and those that are unexpected.

Facebook | Website

Buy the book at Dreamspinner Press.

The Quirks of Writing by Julie Burns – Guest Blog and Giveaway

VBT_ThePurse_Banner copy

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Julie will be awarding 1 printed book of The Purse or 2 ebooks (The Purse and a second of their choice) from RRPI to a randomly drawn winner (international) via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

The Quirks of Writing

To regular human beings, writers seem a bit odd. Why spend all that time coming up with a story and thinking, thinking, thinking? Doesn’t it get old? My answer is no. Never.

There are writers who write every day, and no matter what they write, they absolutely, without a doubt, must write! There are times when I have written every day while in the thick of the story, but most often, I am thinking about writing and not actually doing it. Many writers would scold me for not writing and that’s okay. Each writer is different. It doesn’t mean my goal is any less valid or attainable.

For me, I have to have pen and paper and a computer to write. Much of my book The Purse was written on paper and then typed on the computer. In the process of typing it from paper form, I came up with new plots, new characters, and new resolutions. A writer, artist, or any creative person will tell you the end is unknown. I had other ideas as I wrote my book, and the finished product is nothing like I originally intended.

During the process of writing, one of the tools I discovered was helpful was a dry erase board. I used three of them in my upcoming second novel, Dreamers and Thieves (February 2017). This helped me keep track of characters and was basically a timeline of events and happenings. I also kept track of hair and eye color so I would not forget as I wrote. Those discrepancies are important and easily missed in editing, but often noted by readers.

To be a writer means thinking differently than most. I will take my quirkiness and run with it.

When Lydia Blackwell visits her dying father for the last time, he reveals the deeply hidden truth about her mother. After the funeral, the stranger Derek Meade gifts her with a gorgeous antique purse. But before she has the chance to connect with the man who knew her father intimately, Lydia finds Derek murdered in his home.

Lieutenant Sonja MacIntosh is assigned to investigate Mr. Meade’s death, but her career on the force never prepared her for Lydia Blackwell. As Sonja works to solve the murder, Lydia takes the greatest risk of her life in leaving Chicago to search for clues to her mother’s past. Their instant attraction surprises them both, but even through the chaos Lydia can’t deny the intensity of her feelings for the strong willed Lieutenant.

Lydia’s possession of the antique purse throws her already chaotic life into a whirlwind of kidnapping, blackmail, vengeful mob bosses, and mind-numbing revelations. Through it all, Lydia must find the strength to accept herself – and those closest to her – despite their darkest secrets.

Enjoy an excerpt:

As she walked into the bedroom, the smell of her father’s cologne lingered even through all the sickness that had been in the air. Stepping over to the deep walk-in closet, Lydia opened the double doors to reveal her father’s suits, ties, and shoes. She made a mental note to have Rosita donate her father’s clothes so they didn’t hang like a shrine. She stared at every inch of the closet until her eyes fell on a small shoebox buried on the top shelf. Lydia retrieved the step-ladder from within a hidden compartment in the closet’s wall and stood on it to pull down the shoebox. Without thinking, she strolled over to her father’s bed, sat down, and went through all the memories kept in the cardboard box.

Many were just baby pictures of Lydia, and then she discovered a picture of her mother when she was pregnant. How beautiful she was; she looked so happy and carefree. What in the world could have happened? More questions, no answers. Lydia decided to keep the picture with her. Digging deeper yet into the box, she also found pictures of her father and Derek together. They made a handsome couple, though it was still difficult to believe her father had been involved with a man. At least true love hadn’t escaped him as she’d previously thought.

About the Author:

Julie A. Burns is a native Iowan born in Marshalltown, Iowa and raised in Davenport, Iowa. After her parent’s divorce at age 7, she took to writing, whether it was her diary or poems about people she met or situations that bothered her. After graduating from high school in 1983, she spent time working as a Nurse’s Aide in different nursing homes in Iowa. In 1989, she gave birth to a daughter, Brittany and raised her as a single parent. In the same year, she enrolled at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa. She graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology in 1994. Since then, Julie has spent time working with developmentally disabled adults and the mentally ill throughout Iowa and also in Wyoming, where she lived for 6 years. Julie currently lives in Waterloo, Iowa with her spouse. When she’s not writing, she enjoys being a grandmother to 3 year old Sophie.

Facebook ~ Twitter ~ RRPI Author Page ~ Smashwords Author Page
 

Buy the book at Amazon

a Rafflecopter giveaway
 

Of Cats and Cozies… by T.C. Lotempio – Guest Blog and Giveaway

NBTM_ClawsForAlarm_Banner

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. T. C. Lotempio will be awarding a $25 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Of Cats and Cozies…..

Most of the mysteries on my bookshelf, I confess, are cozy mysteries. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the genre, cozies are a subgenre of crime fiction where the crime and the detection takes place in a small town. Remember the old Murder She Wrote series? That’s a good example of a cozy. The detectives in such stories are nearly always amateurs (cue JB Fletcher) sometimes retired lawmen or women. The majority of the detectives are of the female persuasion, and often hold jobs that bring them into contact with the other residents of their town. More often than not they’ll have a contact on the local police force who’ll help them out with a clue or two.

The killers aren’t usually hard boiled serial killer types, and once unmasked, are most often taken into custody with little or no violence. If there is violence, it happens off-screen…no grisly murder scenes depicted in any cozies! Foul language is also kept to a minimum. The murders are generally members of or related to someone in the town wherein the murder occurs and the motives – greed, jealousy, revenge – often are deep rooted.

Cozies frequently revolve around a theme – for example, Diane Mott Davidson’s revolves around cooking, Parnell Hall’s around crossword puzzles, Monica Ferris’ needlework…you get the idea. Animal lovers are also well represented, as well, which brings me to my cozy mystery series, debuting in December from Berkley Prime Crime…..think Jessica Fletcher with a cat and you’ve got it!

My series is the Nick and Nora mystery series. Nora is Nora Charles, ex-crime reporter turned restaraunt entrepreneur. She’s returned after a 12 year absence from reporting on crime in Chicago back to her hometown of Cruz, California, to take over her deceased mother’s sandwich shop. Shortly thereafter, Nora finds a surprise waiting outside her door – a stocky, black and white cat. She takes the cat in and names him Nick (after Nick Charles, the Thin Man, of course). She later finds out that the cat did in fact belong to a PI, Nick Atkins, who is currently MIA – she also finds out that Nick has many talents, among them the ability to spell out words with Scrabble tiles – plus, he’s got a nose for scenting out crime.

Here’s the teaser, taken from the back of the book:

MediaKit_BookCover_ClawsForAlarm
Nora Charles doesn’t believe in fate, even if she is a crime reporter who shares a name with a character from The Thin Man. In fact, she’s moving back to Cruz, California, to have a quieter life. But after finding an online magazine eager for material, and a stray cat named Nick with a talent for detection, Nora’s not just reporting crimes again. She’s uncovering them…

Back in her hometown, Nora reconnects with old friends and makes some new ones, like Nick, the charming feline who seems determined to be her cat. But not everything about Cruz is friendly. Writing for a local online magazine, Nora investigates the curious death of socialite Lola Grainger. Though it was deemed an accident, Nora suspects foul play. And it seems that her cat does too.

Apparently, Nick used to belong to a P.I. who disappeared while investigating Lola Grainger’s death. The coincidence is spooky, but not as spooky as the clues Nick spells out for her with Scrabble letters—clues that lead her down an increasingly dangerous path. Whether fate put her on this case or not, solving it will take all of Nora’s wits, and maybe a few of Nick’s nine lives.

The saga continues in Book 2, CLAWS FOR ALARM, with Nora’s search for Nick’s missing owner derailed by her sister’s getting jailed for the murder of her art professor. But, who knows what will happen in book 3, CRIME AND CATNIP, due out this December?

I hope you’ll join Nick and Nora on some of their adventures, but even if a crime solving cat isn’t your cup of tea, I’m sure that there are many other cozies out there that are. Sample the genre today – I think you’ll be very pleasantly surprised!

Enjoy an excerpt:

Nick trotted along beside me as we made our way deeper into the warehouse. Suddenly, he froze, tail upright, the hairs puffed and fluffed out like a giant fan.

“What’s wrong?” I whispered, even though I knew he couldn’t answer. We stood in silence for a moment, and suddenly, I did hear something. A very faint sound, from far away . . . like a door closing.

“Come on,” I hissed. I lifted my head, sniffed at the air. It smelled pretty stale, but there was another scent, cigarette smoke. I racked my brain, trying to remember if I’d seen either Julia or Samms smoking.

Nick’s tail swished, and he pawed at arrows painted on the ground. He trotted ahead of me at a brisk pace, and I fell into step. We followed the painted arrows along a white-tiled hallway down to a door with a shade pulled all the way down. A sign placed haphazardly in the window proclaimed it CLOSED.

I tried the door, which seemed to be stuck. I looked at the doorframe, which appeared to be less than sturdy, and checked it for alarm wires. Seeing none, I raised my leg and gave the door a swift, hard kick. It clicked open an inch, and I pushed it all the way open. We walked into a tiny office not much bigger than a postage stamp. A large metal desk and battered file cabinet took up the majority of the space. Another door at the far end stood partway open. Nick suddenly tensed, and I saw the hairs on his back rise. His tail fluffed out, and he started to growl, deep in his throat.

I frowned. “What’s wrong? What do you sense?”

Nick reared up on his hind legs and then shot through the partially open door. I had no choice but to follow. The room I now found myself in appeared to be a slightly larger version of the previous office. Nick crouched in front of a large metal desk, and as I entered, he shifted his body slightly. I caught a glimpse of two feet, very still, shod in the pair of eggplant Louboutins I’d admired earlier in the evening.

“Oh crud,” I cried. “Please tell me that’s not what I think it is.” I walked around Nick and peeped around the edge of the desk. I saw a twisted figure in a white raincoat bunched up around shapely legs, a tumble of dark hair covering its face, the neck bent at an unnatural angle.

“Shoot,” I said.

“MA-ROW!” Nick yowled.

I heard a sound behind me as Nick dived under a nearby chair. My heart started to beat wildly in my chest. The last time he’d pulled something like that I’d been caught next to a dead body and hauled off to the police station. His fat rear had barely wiggled out of sight before the door slammed back and I found myself looking first down the barrel of a .45 and then, as I raised my gaze, at the grim, unsmiling face of Detective Leroy Samms. He looked at me, then at the feet, then back to me again. He lowered his arm, slipped his gun back into his shoulder holster. “Well, well. Look what the cat dragged in.”

I responded almost automatically. “He didn’t drag me. I walked in on my own.”

One eyebrow quirked. “Pardon? It’s an expression, Nora.”

“Oh, sure. I knew that.” The queasy sensation in my stomach was getting stronger, and I really felt like gagging. I started to push past Samms, but his strong fingers reached out and encircled my elbow in a grip of steel.

“No need to run off.”

I pressed my palm against my cheek. “I—I’m not. I just felt a little . . . squeamish.”

“Of course you do,” he said, still not cracking a smile. “I’ve got some Pepto back at the station. Fix you right up. Then we’re going to have a chat, you and I.” His grip on my elbow tightened. “Ms. Charles, you’ve got some explaining to do.”

About the Author: MediaKit_AuthorPhoto_ClawsForAlarm

Born in New York City, T. C. LoTempio is the national bestselling author of Meow If It’s Murder, the first in the Nick and Nora Mystery series. She has been a staff reporter at the young adult magazine Susabella Passengers and Friends for more than a decade. When she isn’t reporting or writing novels, she and her cat Rocco fundraise for Nathan Fillion’s charity, Kids Need to Read.

Blog | Website | Facebook

Buy the book at Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Role of Critics and Criticism by Colleen J. Shogan – Guest Blog and Giveaway

VBT_HomicideInTheHouse_Banner copy

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Colleen J. Shogan will be awarding a $50 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

The Role of Critics and Criticism

Anyone who writes, acts, or produces creative content has to deal with critics and criticism. The two are actually distinct, at least in my mind. Criticism can be quite helpful to a writer. After I’d written a draft of my first novel in my mystery series, Stabbing in the Senate, I sent it to a handful of agents. One wrote back to me and said he liked it, but there were some big flaws I needed to fix. He offered me valuable criticism. If I hadn’t changed the beginning of the book to fast-forward to the action, I don’t think it would have ever been picked up for representation or publication.

I’ve found that fellow mystery writers typically offer this type of constructive criticism. The best criticism points to examples, perhaps in other books, which can show the writer how to move forward. General comments, such as “this is bad writing” or “show, don’t tell” means nothing if there isn’t concrete instruction for improvement.

Critics are a different story. They often label creative enterprises as “trite” or “shallow” without providing evidence detailing why their opinions are valid. Literary critics engage in this type of behavior at times, but in this day and age, everyone has credentials to be a critic. All that’s required is an Amazon or Goodreads account.

If someone writes a negative review, I don’t ignore it. I read the review and oftentimes, the reviewer has a point. There’s nothing wrong with those types of exchanges, because hopefully as writers, our work continues to get better as time goes on.

What is disappointing is when a critic asserts an opinion without substantiating his or her thoughts with examples or explanation. When that happens, I find it helpful to watch this scene from the Academy Award winning movie, “Birdman.” In it, Michael Keaton goes off on a critic who is threatening to trash his new play. His diatribe is probably the best invective against an unhelpful and mean-spirited critic. Keaton’s character also reminds creative people that we have the more difficult job because we actually produce content for other people to enjoy and consume. That task is ultimately more burdensome than reacting or opining.

Ignoring criticism isn’t a viable option, especially if the goal is to write more interesting stories over time. However, ignoring critics that assign nasty labels without substantiated claims is recommended.

MediaKit_BookCover_HomicideInTheHouseDuring a government shutdown, Kit’s congresswoman boss is found standing over the dead body of a top staffer she tangled with in front of the press. The police are about to name her as the prime suspect. The weapon was the Speaker’s gavel, an item entrusted to the congresswoman the previous night. The killer knows Kit is on the case. Can she solve the mystery in time to save her job and her life?

Enjoy an excerpt:

Smartphones are great time wasters. I fiddled with various apps as I waited. The next level of “Angry Birds” was within my grasp when I heard footsteps and voices across the hallway. I got up and stood in the doorway to greet my boss.

From the look on her face, she was not pleased. She charged like a linebacker to the exit of the Speaker’s lair with Jack Drysdale on her heels.

“Stop, Congresswoman Dixon. You’re not listening to reason!” From behind, Drysdale placed his hand on Maeve’s left shoulder in an attempt to prevent her from leaving the suite.

Maeve had impressive reflexes. She turned her body toward him and grabbed his wrist with her right hand. “Don’t touch me! Is this how the Speaker’s staff treat members of the House?” Her voice was loud and filled with vitriol.

The gaggle of reporters who had been relaxing inside the anteroom trailed behind me. This was better than a boring pen and pad session. One of them murmured, “I think that’s Dixon from North Carolina.”

This was not a good development, but Maeve didn’t know that the press had a front row seat to her implosion.

Maeve clutched Drysdale’s wrist for several seconds until she let it go. Apparently her physical assault didn’t intimidate him. He ran ahead and stopped directly in front of her.

Stretching his arms out wide to slow her down, Jack made his last stand. “I apologize. I shouldn’t have done that. Please come back in the office so we can sort this out. You’re a valuable part of this caucus and the Speaker wants to work with you on this deal.”

Maeve shook her head. “You guys in House leadership are typical politicians. You can’t take no for an answer. I’m not ready to make a decision. Now get out of my way.”

Unmoving, Drysdale locked eyes with Maeve. She didn’t look away and squared her shoulders. I could almost feel the tension around me as the reporters anxiously waited for the outcome. What was Maeve going to do? Knee him in the groin if he didn’t back down?

After a moment that seemed like an eternity, Drysdale gave in and stepped aside. I breathed a deep sigh of relief and hurried into the hallway to catch up with her. As we exited the corridor, I glanced back to the doorway where I’d been standing. Every reporter was on his or her phone, ostensibly calling in the most salacious story of the shutdown thus far. A junior member of Congress and the Speaker’s top aide had nearly come to blows in the Capitol. A high school reporter could make that story fly.

About the Author: MediaKit_AuthorPhoto_HomicideInTheHouseColleen J. Shogan has been reading mysteries since the age of six. She writes the Washington Whodunit series published by Camel Press. A political scientist by training, Colleen has taught American politics at Yale, George Mason University, Georgetown, and Penn. She previously worked on Capitol Hill as a legislative staffer in the United States Senate and as the Deputy Director of the Congressional Research Service. She is currently a senior executive at the Library of Congress. Colleen lives in Arlington, Virginia with her husband Rob and their beagle mutt Conan.

Twitter | Website | Faceook | Goodreads

Buy the book at Amazon.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Two Cozy Mysteries from Lyrical Press – Spotlight and Giveaway

BBT_TourBanner_Lyrical_Cozy

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. The authors will be awarding digital copies of both books on the tour to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

MediaKit_BookCover_MurderAtTheMansionFortunes, fineries, and foul play . . .

It’s whale-watching season in Redwood Cove, and B&B manager Kelly Jackson’s battening down the hatches for the tourist rush at Redwood Heights—a Victorian-style estate owned by her boss. And due to recent jewelry thefts, her duties include keeping track of the many dust-covered artifacts spread throughout the property. But when Kelly finds Sylvia Porter’s lifeless body, menial tasks don’t seem so terrible.

Enlisting the help of a ragtag group of brainy retirees, aka the “Silver Sentinels,” Kelly’s on the hunt for clues hidden behind the mansion’s glamorous façade and for a killer who may want to make history of her next!

Enjoy an excerpt:

“Welcome, everyone. My name is Lily Wilson, and I’ll be leading the tour today. If you have questions, please don’t hesitate to ask them. There’s a sign-in sheet on the check-in counter. We’ll be starting at one o’clock, which is in five minutes.” She turned in my direction and said, “I’d like to introduce the manager of one of Resorts International properties, Kelly Jackson. She’s in charge of Redwood Cove Bed-and-Breakfast.”

The members of the group smiled an acknowledgment. A short man in a denim shirt and khaki pants raised his hand. Lily smiled at him and asked, “Is there something you’d like to know?”

He pointed to the entrance to the parlor. “What is that shield above the doorway?”

“Redwood Heights was built by Reginald Brandon. That’s the family coat of arms,” Lily said. “There is an official Brandon crest on file. However, Mr. Brandon wanted to design his own to reflect life in the West. On his shield he chose to put the silhouettes of two rearing stallions, symbols of strength. Rifles instead of swords crossed over the top of them—the weapons of that era. Tall redwood trees filled in the area behind them and were the source of his wealth. You can see his motto for loyalty and honor on the banner.”

I enjoyed her explanation. It added another dimension to an object that had just been an interesting piece.

A tall woman with a long brown braid down her back pointed to a picture. “Is this Mr. and Mrs. Brandon?”

“Yes, that picture is of the Brandons,” Lily replied. “The woman in the picture is the second Mrs. Brandon. As with many wealthy families and historic estates, there are questionable stories in their past. Redwood Heights is no different.”

“How so?” asked the woman.

“We don’t have any pictures of the first Mrs. Brandon. She was the belle of glittering New York high society who found herself in remote Redwood Cove. She disappeared not long after arriving. Some say she ran off with a lover. Rumors cropped up that she took a sizeable amount of Brandon’s money, changed her name, and left to enjoy San Francisco’s growing attractions.”

The cadence of Lily’s voice took the story beyond a runaway wife. Her tilted head and arched eyebrow led you down a path of mystery and intrigue. The visitors moved a little closer.

Lily leaned toward them and whispered, “Some say she never left at all.” Her words lingered in the dead silence.

Everyone was still—frozen in that past time. Goose bumps popped up on my arms. Someone coughed, and the spell was broken.

“After a time, Brandon married again. They had no children and, alas, the house went to a distant cousin.”

I’d been mesmerized by the tale. Snapping out of it, I looked around. Sylvia still wasn’t there.

“The tour will meet in the parlor. Restrooms are down the hallway to your right,” Lily instructed the group.

I walked up the carpeted stairs to the second floor, running my hand over the smooth oak railing. It had taken hundreds of polishings to develop the fine patina and rich glow.

Sylvia’s room was the first door at the top of the staircase. I knocked quietly. When there was no response, I knocked harder. She must really be a sound sleeper. I tried the door, but it was locked. I rushed downstairs, retrieved her room key, and glanced at my watch. If Sylvia hurried, she’d still have time to make the start of the tour. Arriving back at her door, I knocked again.

“Mrs. Porter, it’s Kelly. The tour is starting in a couple of minutes.” I got no response, so I unlocked the door and peeked in. Sylvia was sitting in front of her dressing table, her back to me.

I opened the door a little farther. “Mrs. Porter?” I stepped inside the room. In the filtered light from the curtained windows, Sylvia’s image reflected in the mirror. Her eyes were closed, and her head rested on her shoulder. She must have dozed off before making it into bed for a nap.

My attention was drawn to a brooch on the left side of Sylvia’s blouse as I approached her. I hadn’t noticed it before. It was a lovely piece—a large egg-shaped pearl surrounded by a burst of red.

I touched Sylvia’s shoulder. No response.

“Mrs. Porter?” I gently shook her.

Sylvia’s head rolled forward and hung down. Her dangling hair covered the side of her face.

I gasped, and my heart began to pound. I looked more closely at her. The burst of red wasn’t part of a pin—it was blood.

About the Author: MediaKit_AuthorPhoto_MurderAtTheMansion

Janet Finsilver and her husband live in the San Francisco Bay Area. She loves animals and has two dogs—Kylie, a Rhodesian ridgeback, and Ellie, a boxer/coonhound mix. Janet enjoys horseback riding, snow skiing, and cooking. She is currently working on her next Redwood Cove mystery.

Website | Author Page | Facebook | Twitter

MediaKit_BookCover_TeaCupAndCarnageThe quaint coastal town of South Cove, California, is all abuzz about the opening of a new specialty shop, Tea Hee. But as Coffee, Books, and More owner Jill Gardner is about to find out, there’s nothing cozy about murder . . .

Shop owner Kathi Corbin says she came to South Cove to get away from her estranged family. But is she telling the truth? And did a sinister someone from her past follow her to South Cove? When a woman claiming to be Kathi’s sister starts making waves and a dead body is found in a local motel, Jill must step in to clear Kathi’s name–without getting herself in hot water.

Enjoy an excerpt:

Limping home, I saw Greg’s truck parked at City Hall. I went in through the side door that took me to the police station. Amy kept going, heading home to shower before returning to her job as city hall receptionist.

Greg stood by Esmeralda’s desk and raised his eyebrows when he saw me. “Rough workout? I’m glad I was too busy to go today.”

“Oh, you’ll get yours. Don’t think demon trainer didn’t notice you were gone.”

“Okay. So why are you here?” He pushed a curl back out of my face. “Too far to walk home after the workout?”

“You’re just mean, you know that right?” I sank into the couch. It did feel amazing just to veg for a second or two. Okay, so Greg could have been right about my real motives for the impromptu visit. “Actually, I wanted to know about your call-out last night. I’m assuming this was a murder and not an old guy dying in his sleep.”

“And you deduced that from?” He watched me closely.

Shrugging, I sank deeper into the cushions. No wonder Greg didn’t mind sleeping in his office every so often. The couch was amazing. “No one blabbed, if you’re thinking of blaming Toby. You didn’t call, and you’re still wearing last night’s clothes.”

He chuckled. “You’re right. I guess I’m more transparent than I thought. We don’t know much about the murder, except the guy checked in a few days ago under a false name. Of course, the motel doesn’t ask for any verification or even a credit card. Cash only out there.”

“So he’s not a local.” For some reason, this made me feel better. Sure, it was sad someone had died, but people died all the time. I just didn’t want it to be one of my friends.

“Not that I can tell. But I think it’s the biker who’s been racing up and down Main Street. He fits the description.” Greg shrugged and grinned. “And, there’s a bike parked outside his room. Yep, I’m a trained investigator, I notice these things.”

“Big guy?” I thought about how the elderly woman had almost been smashed by the rider just a few days ago.

“Nope. He’s tall, maybe six feet, but if he weighs more than a hundred fifty soaking wet I’ll buy you dinner.” Greg groaned as he stood and walked across the room to his desk. He pulled me to standing. “I hate it when you do that.”

“Do what?” Now that I was upright, my stomach growled reminding me I hadn’t eaten all day. I dug into my tote and pulled out a protein bar.

“Trick me into telling you more than I should.” He pointed to the door. “Out of here. I’ve got work to do.”

I took a bite of my protein bar as I walked out. Pausing at the door, I turned back to look at him. He was already typing into some document. “I take it I won’t see you for dinner?”

“Not tonight. But I’ll be over on Sunday at the latest.” He paused. “Are you working the festival that day?”

“Just the morning shift. We’re closing the main store and only running the food truck that day.” I adjusted the strap on my tote, feeling the weight on my screaming shoulder blade. I walked out of the office and wondered how bad the murder had been. Just because it was a stranger that lay in the morgue, didn’t mean someone from South Cove hadn’t been involved or known the guy.

Or why else would he have been here?

About the Author: MediaKit_AuthorPhoto_TeaCupsAndCarnageNew York Times and USA Today best-selling author Lynn Cahoon is an Idaho expat. She grew up living the small town life she now loves to write about. Currently, she’s living with her husband and two fur babies in a small historic town on the banks of the Mississippi river where her imagination tends to wander. Guidebook to Murder, Book 1 of the Tourist Trap series, won the 2015 Reader’s Crown award for Mystery Fiction.

Website | Author Page | Twitter | Facebook
 

 

 

 

Buy the books at the following suppliers:

TEA CUPS AND CARNAGE: AmazonAppleGoogle, KoboNook

MURDER AT THE MANSION: AmazonAppleGoogle, KoboNook

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

 

Ten Things People Don’t Know About Stephen Leather – Guest Blog and Giveaway

NBTM_NewYorkNight_Banner copy

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Stephen Leather will be awarding a $50 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Ten Things People Don’t Know About Stephen Leather

1) I can fly a plane. I got my pilot’s licence while I was living in Baltimore, Maryland.

2) I have parachuted four times. The first three times were with the RAF freefall team. I jumped from a Rapide biplane which meant climbing out onto the wing before jumping.

3) I have a brown belt in Shotokan karate. My kicks aren’t very good, though.

4) I have a cat called Peanut Butter who sits next to me while I am writing.

5) I do almost all my writing while sitting in front of the TV. I was a journalist working in noisy newsrooms for ten years or so and I still need noise around me while I write.

6) I am one on Amazon’s Top 10 UK independent publishers and my book The Basement is one of the Top 10 bestselling self-published UK eBooks of all time.

7) My self-published book The Basement has topped the Kindle charts in the US and the UK.

8) I tried my hand at writing erotica because I figured that eReaders would see more people buying sexy stories (because no one can see what you’re reading on an eReader). The stories are available but they don’t sell very well.

9) I was once the Business Editor of the South China Morning Post

10) Martin Campbell (who directed Bond movies Goldeneye and Casino Royale) is making a film of my book The Chinaman starring Jackie Chan and Pierce Brosnan. It’ll hopefully be in cinemas by the end of the year.

MediaKit_BookCover_NewYorkNightTeenagers are being possessed and turning into sadistic murderers. Priests can’t help, nor can psychiatrists. So who is behind the demonic possessions? Jack Nightingale is called in to investigate, and finds his own soul is on the line. New York Night is the seventh novel in the Jack Nightingale supernatural detective series.

Enjoy an excerpt:

Cheryl Perez pulled the cork from the bottle of Chianti and sloshed it into a glass. She drank some and went through to her sitting room. She pulled open the drawer of a side table and took out the framed photograph of herself and Eric. It had been in the drawer for over a month – a new record. The photograph had been taken on New Year’s Eve three years earlier. They’d flown to Vegas for the weekend and seen in the New Year at a show in the MGM Grand. The casino’s logo was in the bottom right hand corner of the photograph. They were both a little drunk and they were holding hands either side of a champagne bucket that Perez was fairly sure contained their second bottle. Maybe their third. They had got so drunk that they had collapsed on the bed in their clothes and woken up the following morning still clothed and wrapped in each other’s arms. ‘You bastard, Eric,’ she whispered. ‘How could you leave me?’

She took the photograph over to the dining table and stood it in the middle. She sat down, drank some wine and then picked up one of the two pencils there. She drew a cross on the page, dividing it into quarters. She wrote YES in the top right and bottom left quarters, then wrote NO in the top left and bottom right. She took another drink of wine, then smiled lopsidedly at the photograph. ‘I know, I know, it’s stupid and my soul will burn in Hell, but I have to try, don’t I?’

About the Author:MediaKit_AuthorPhoto_NewYorkNightStephen Leather is one of the UK’s most successful thriller writers, an eBook and Sunday Times bestseller and author of the critically acclaimed Dan “Spider’ Shepherd series and the Jack Nightingale supernatural detective novels.

Before becoming a novelist he was a journalist for more than ten years on newspapers such as The Times, the Daily Mirror, the Glasgow Herald, the Daily Mail and the South China Morning Post in Hong Kong. He is one of the country’s most successful eBook authors and his eBooks have topped the Amazon Kindle charts in the UK and the US. In 2011 alone he sold more than 500,000 eBooks and was voted by The Bookseller magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the UK publishing world.

Born in Manchester, he began writing full time in 1992. His bestsellers have been translated into fifteen languages. He has also written for television shows such as London’s Burning, The Knock and the BBC’s Murder in Mind series and two of his books, The Stretch and The Bombmaker, were filmed for TV.
,

Website | Twitter

Jack Nightingale, the main character in New York Night has his own website. (NOTE: It’s addictive!)

You can buy New York Night at Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, or Smashwords.

a Rafflecopter giveaway