What Inspired Me to be a Writer? by Rosemarie Aquilina – Guest Post

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Rosemarie Aquilina who is celebrating the recent release of Triple Cross Killer.

What Inspired Me to be a Writer?
Growing up, we didn’t have a lot of money, which translated to a shortage of toys and books. The few books I had I read so many times I could recite them—and I don’t usually memorize anything easily. Intrigued by each world I entered, and wanting to know more, I invented what happened next, what happened before, what was the untold backstory. My brother Joe, eleven months younger, asked me from the time we were toddlers, to tell him a story. We sat on the porch stoop or on the family room couch for hours as I made up stories. I treasured the sheer glee on his face at my stories and recall his inquisitive entertained boyish face still today. I still hear our laughter and feel the sheer thrill of the emerging story—one I hadn’t planned but one that simply emerged and developed as I told it. And so I also developed the “panster-writer” in me. I don’t plan, I just write.

I don’t remember a time I didn’t want to be a writer. From those earliest toddler telling memories forward, I knew I wanted to be a writer. I eventually became an English major at Michigan State University. I attended all the classes I could that allowed me to read, study, and dissect great authors of all genre. I discovered a love of Hemingway, Steinbeck, Keats, and, Bradbury. Because my father was worried I could not support myself as an author, I veered. I became a lawyer. My law professors constantly left me notes on my final exams, that this was not creative writing, which forced me to limit my creativity. However, in my free time, I kept writing. I never let go of my dream to be a writer.

It would be years before I became published, however I have several completed novels, reams of notes, lists of story ideas. During my many years of practicing law and now being a JAG Officer in the Michigan Army National Guard, a District Judge and now a Circuit Judge, I wrote. I took notes, kept inventory of interesting stories, twists of words, and possible outcomes and backstories of characters I created. My writing improved. I learned truly that writers must write about what they know even if it is fiction. Had I become a writer after law school, I would have been a black slate regularly going through the writer’s block experience, something I do not have to worry about now as my experiences have served me well. My father was right, although it delayed my writing. My life experiences have made me a better storyteller. Also being an lawyer, I developed a thick skin, professionally and personally. This greatly assisted me to find an outstanding agent and publisher. You see, I never got discouraged, when I received a rejection, I sent out five more query letters. At one time I had over one hundred query letters out to agents. It only takes one acceptance. And I am very happy I clung onto my goal of being a writer and I’m thrilled to be an author.

Have you ever wondered what really happens to Santa Claus letters? In Detroit and Sarasota some children’s letters are diverted and reviewed by Nick Archer, a religiously obsessed, narcissist. Nick responds, leaving a trail of devastation in the two cities.

In Detroit, co-ed partners and wise-cracking lovers, detectives Jaq McSween and David Maxwell, team up with Sarasota detectives Abel Mendoza and his partner, Rabbit, to find this daunting killer.

When Jaq’s friend, the lovely nurse, Rita Rose, takes a chance on love again, she gets caught in Nick’s web. Working with the ME, she joins in, adding her perspective when events take a sinister turn.

Can this diverse team of characters pool their insights, barbs, and taste for bad food to save Rita when she discovers the final clues or will she become the next victim?

About the Author:Rosemarie Aquilina is the mother of five children. Elected as a 30th Circuit Court Judge serving in the General Trial Division, after having served as a 55th District Court Judge in Mason, Michigan, she takes pride in public service.

In 1986, Judge Aquilina became the first female JAG Officer in the history of the Michigan Army National Guard, she retired in 2006 with twenty years Honorable Service. She is an adjunct law professor at both Western Michigan University—Thomas M. Cooley Law School and Michigan State University College of Law and has earned teaching awards at both institutions. Judge Aquilina is the former owner of Aquilina Law Firm, PLC, and former host of a syndicated radio talk show called Ask the Family Lawyer.

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Winter Blogfest: Joanne Guidoccio

This post is part of Long and Short Reviews’ Winter Blogfest. Leave a comment for a chance to win an ebook of Too Many Women in the Room.

A Different Kind of Dessert

Scalilli. Turdilli. Crostoli. Grispelle. Biscotti. Pizzelle.

I have fond memories of all those Italian desserts my mother and grandmother prepared during the Christmas season. They would start baking early in December and then make more batches as the month progressed.

While I enjoyed partaking, I was not overly thrilled with the amount of work involved. In fact, delicious and labor intensive would be two apt descriptions for many of the entrées and desserts that emerged from my mother’s kitchen.

One Christmas in the early 1970s, my mother presented a different kind of dessert. She placed a dish filled with unusual shapes on the table and said, “Help yourself to a snowball.”

A dessert that didn’t end in a vowel…definitely a first in our household! I couldn’t help smiling at the looks of surprise exchanged by my father and grandmother. But their skepticism was short-lived. Delicious and easy-to-prepare, Francesca’s Chocolate Snowballs became part of our family’s Christmas tradition.

Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients

4 ounces Kraft Philadelphia cream cheese, softened
2 tbsp milk
2 cups icing sugar
2 squares unsweetened chocolate
¼ tsp vanilla
Dash of salt
3 cups Kraft miniature marshmallows
2 cups coconut (amount may vary)

Directions

  • • Combine softened cream cheese and milk until well blended.
  • • Gradually add sugar.
  • • Melt chocolate and add to mixture.
  • • Stir in vanilla and salt.
  • • Fold in marshmallows.
  • • Drop rounded teaspoons of the mixture in coconut and toss until well covered.
  • • Place on baking sheet.
  • • Chill for 24 hours or until firm.

Makes 36 snowballs

When Gilda Greco invites her closest friends to a VIP dinner, she plans to share David Korba’s signature dishes and launch their joint venture— Xenia, an innovative Greek restaurant near Sudbury, Ontario. Unknown to Gilda, David has also invited Michael Taylor, a lecherous photographer who has throughout the past three decades managed to annoy all the women in the room. One woman follows Michael to a deserted field for his midnight run and stabs him in the jugular.

Gilda’s life is awash with complications as she wrestles with a certain detective’s commitment issues and growing doubts about her risky investment in Xenia. Frustrated, Gilda launches her own investigation and uncovers decades-old secrets and resentments that have festered until they explode into untimely death. Can Gilda outwit a killer bent on killing again?

About the Author: In 2008, Joanne Guidoccio retired from a 31-year teaching career and launched a second act that tapped into her creative side. Slowly, a writing practice emerged. Her articles and book reviews were published in newspapers, magazines, and online. When she tried her hand at fiction, she made reinvention a recurring theme in her novels and short stories. A member of Crime Writers of Canada, Sisters in Crime, and Romance Writers of America, Joanne writes cozy mysteries, paranormal romance, and inspirational literature from her home base of Guelph, Ontario.

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Winter Blogfest: David C. Dawson

This post is part of Long and Short Reviews’ Winter Blogfest. Leave a comment for a chance to win a digital copy of “The Deadly Lies.”

Christmas Started in July This Year

Christmas started in July this year. I’m not pleased. Don’t get me wrong. I’m a fan of Christmas with the best of them. Time for family, time for friends. Good food and wine. Time off from work and lots of good movies on the TV.

But July?

We were buying a new doorbell at the local hardware store when it happened. Our old one still works. Occasionally. It’s one of those wireless ones where you can choose between fifteen different ring tones, from the usual “ding dong” to a train whistle. Honestly. Why would you want to hear a train whistle every time someone arrives at your front door? We have the chimes of Big Ben.

And the doorbell works perfectly well. For about a week. Then it just stops.

“Do you know your doorbell’s not working?” It’s usually the grumpy postman who asks us that. For nearly a year now. So one Saturday morning in July, after Nick had dealt with the grumpy postman banging on the front door yet again, he came back into the kitchen and said: “We’ve got to get a new one”.

So there we were in the hardware store, testing all the different ring tones, and arguing over whether the Blue Danube waltz was a suitable ring tone for a front door. That’s when I saw it.

A snow covered Christmas elf about six inches tall.

He was at the back of the store, perched on a bag of birdseed. Smiling.

We had to leave. Well, really.

I’m not Scrooge. But starting Christmas in July? That Saturday was one of England’s few bright, sunny days, and there wasn’t a hint of snow in the sky. And yet there was a Christmas elf, smiling inanely at us, with a dusting of snow on his elf cap.

It wasn’t even Halloween.

So the doorbell still doesn’t work, and the postman is still grumpy every other week. We’ll have to go back I suppose; it’s the only hardware store for miles around.

By the time we do it will be packed with Christmas elves, and singing snowmen too. It’s August now.

Bah, humbug.

When Bernhardt is killed in a suspicious car accident, Dominic Delingpole discovers his ex-lover was part of a secret group plotting to rewrite the world order.
What is the mysterious Charter Ninety-Nine group? And will their planned internet assault force Dominic to choose between the fate of the world and the life of his lover?
Lies upon lies plunge Dominic and Jonathan into an internet crime that could destroy the lives of millions of people.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About the Author: David C. Dawson is an award-winning author, journalist and documentary maker. His debut novel, The Necessary Deaths, won an FAPA award in the best suspense/thriller category.

The sequel to The Necessary Deaths is published in December 2017. David is working on a romantic suspense novel for publication in 2018, and a one-off drama for British TV.

He has travelled extensively, and filmed in nearly every continent of the world. He has lived in London, Geneva and San Francisco, but now prefers the tranquillity of the Oxfordshire countryside in England.

In his spare time, David tours Europe on his ageing Triumph motorbike, and sings with the London Gay Men’s Chorus.

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Balancing Life and Writing by Ann Swann – Guest Blog and Giveaway


This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Ann Swann will be awarding a $10 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.

BALANCING LIFE AND WRITING

How does one balance life and writing? It’s a tightrope. You walk it every day, then you turnaround and head back the other way. If you have a family, if you have any sort of job, if you have any other responsibilities in your life, writing must sometimes take a backseat. It’s the nature of the beast. However, it’s my belief that it’s when you fall off the tightrope that the writing Muse sits up and takes notice. When you aren’t writing, when you are forced to do everything but write, that’s when the best words take shape in the back of your mind. That’s when the ideas flow. It isn’t that life prevents us from writing, it’s that life gives us something to write about.

My new novel, THE REMAINS IN THE POND, originated from an image of a skull sunk down in a weedy pond. I saw the image in a movie trailer or something; I don’t even remember what it was, something life threw at me somewhere along the way. All I know is it was a fleeting thing that had nothing to do with anything, but by the time my subconscious played around with the image for a few days, while I was busy doing ordinary life-stuff, an idea began to form about two girls—rivals for the same guy—who wound up at the old pond late one night. One girl returned home that night, and the other became known as the remains in the pond.

That’s how I balance life and writing. I don’t worry about it; I just allow nature to take its course.

Senior prom is the happiest night of Gabi’s life. Her crush has just revealed that he is every bit as infatuated with her as she is with him. When he has a car wreck and is transported to the hospital in a coma, Gabi feels as if she’s taken a knife to the heart. But his jealous cousin, Rose, sees her chance to give the knife an even harder twist. She convinces Gabi to meet her at a local parking spot outside town. It’s a night that will change several lives forever. One of the girls will return, and one will become known as the remains in the pond.

Enjoy an Excerpt

I pushed my glasses up and took a deep breath. “We were in love. I know that’s what teenagers always think, but in our case, it was true.”

The unsmiling detective simply stared at me and pulled out his little notebook. His burnished head gleamed under the fluorescents.

Why wasn’t he writing in that notebook? He just held it, as if he found nothing I said worth noting.

The room grew cold and I began to shiver. Probably some sort of tactic; turning down the temperature to make me uncomfortable. Just like this little waiting game. Waiting me out to make me talk. I’d seen enough crime TV to recognize these schemes. I took a sip of the Diet Coke he’d brought—to make me feel grateful, I suppose—and immediately regretted it because it made me need to burp.

I let the little bubble of gas explode in my closed mouth and began to talk to cover the sound. “We fell in love at prom. We were both with other people. I went with Asa and he brought Rose.” I sat up straighter in the hard-backed chair and hoped I’d said enough to placate him.

The detective sat chill, one ankle propped on the opposite knee. I got the impression he wanted to be my best friend.

I don’t know why I started talking again. I think it had something to do with the way he looked at me, as if he already knew everything I wanted to tell him, because yes, suddenly I did want to tell him. I’d held onto the truth for too long.

I wanted to tell him everything about that night.

About the Author:Ann has been a writer since junior high school, but to pay the bills she’s waited tables, delivered newspapers, cleaned other people’s houses, taught school, and even had a short stint as a secretary in a rock-n-roll radio station. She also worked as a 911 operator and a police dispatcher.

Ann’s stories began to win awards in her college days. Since then she’s published novels, novellas, and short stories. But even if no one ever bought another book, Ann wouldn’t stop writing. For her it’s the cathartic pause in a sometimes-crazy world. Most of the time, it even keeps her sane.

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Man of Honor by Chris Malburg – Spotlight and Giveaway


This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Chris Malburg will be awarding a $15 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.

There is a unit buried within the Chinese People’s Liberation Army. Unit 61398—the cyber warfare unit. Li Yong prepared his entire life for command of Unit 61398. Li Yong believed this was the ultimate honor and service to the State

Then America’s airliners started plunging from the sky. There is no honor in being the world’s worst mass murderer. How do you right the most terrible wrong? How do you prevent the State from slaughtering your entire family if you fail? How do you balance a moral imperative against a lifetime of homeland allegiance? How does Li Yong stop the unstoppable?

From Chris Malburg, author of God’s Banker, comes the Enforcement Division Series’ next riveting installment–Man of Honor.

Enjoy an Excerpt

“Getting colder,” Jack said and shuffled his boots over the icy turf. “By the time this is over all these people will be half frozen.”

Helen Kaito turned toward her husband and into the onslaught of wind and snow. Snatches of live broadcasts from breathless reporters floated on the wind and swirled around the crowd 200 strong. Just his way of preserving that stoic reserve, Helen thought. She pulled her scarf tight around her neck and stuffed both hands into her jacket pockets. Around them people stamped their feet in the snowy field hard against the banks of Elkhart’s St. Joe River. “How much longer?”

She watched Jack look around the field. Police officers stood in small groups talking quietly among themselves. Firefighters stayed near their rigs waiting to put their exhaustive training to work. The silence spoke volumes. No celebration here. “They told me it should happen about 4:10 pm.”

“My God, Jack…”

Jack nodded slowly. “I know, hon. It sucks.”

Helen watched the crowd searching the northeastern sky. Some pointed. At what? She checked her watch. Not yet. Too soon.

Jack unzipped his backpack and pulled out binoculars. Helen had given him the heavier items when they geared up back home. She took water—frozen by now—energy bars, extra gloves, socks, and the knit cap she knew Jack probably wouldn’t wear. Summer or winter, he liked the feeling of the breeze on his shaven head. “What?”

About the Author: Chris Malburg is a widely published author, with over 4 million words published in 22 popular business books and four novels. Simon & Schuster, Putnam, Wiley and McGraw Hill all publish Chris’ work which is consumed in most western countries. 

After Stanford Writers School, Chris began the fun side of his career. He has crossed the chasm into fiction with the fourth installment in his Enforcement Division series. Man of Honor is a cyber thriller about the storied Chinese PLA’s Unit 61398—the cyber terror division.

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Going Gone by Anita Dickason – Exclusive Excerpt and Giveaway


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

Code Name Trackers: The elite of the elite. FBI agents, each with a secret, an extraordinary ability that defies reason and logic.

An intricate scheme to kidnap the children of high-ranking politicians on Capitol Hill gets disrupted when private investigator Kerry Branson rescues one of the victims.

Teamed with FBI Tracker Ryan Barr, they discover the plot extends to the Office of the President and—the horrific plan has drug cartels and terrorist cells lined up to cash in.

Enjoy an Exclusive Excerpt

The footsteps came closer. A beam of light flashed over the ground. Pulling his knees tight to his chest, he wrapped his arms around his legs, tucked his head under his arms, and squished his eyes shut. Tears clogged his throat. Momma, where are you?

The harsh voice sounded over his head. “I don’t see him over here. I’ll circle the other way. The damn brat can’t get far.”

When the noisy steps faded away, Tristan scrambled from under the tree and ran. Pajama bottoms flapped around his bare ankles. Ahead was a break in the woods, and he raced toward the opening.

A shout echoed not far behind him. “He’s running toward the road.”

It was the man from the bedroom. Terror pushed him. His legs pumped, but he couldn’t go any faster, and it hurt to breathe. He had to find another place to hide, but where? It was getting dark, and the mist made it hard to see. Behind him, footsteps kept getting louder.

Ahead was a fence, a road—then—lights. A car. Could he reach the road before it passed? Dropping, he crawled under the barbed wire and felt a hand scrape the sole of his foot.

About the Author:Award winning author, Anita Dickason, is a retired Dallas Police Officer. Anita served as a patrol officer, undercover narcotics officer, advanced accident investigator, and SWAT entry/sniper.

Upon retirement, she became involved in a research project that dealt with the death of a witness to the Kennedy assassination. The research led to her first book, JFK Assassination Eyewitness: Rush to Conspiracy, that details the results of her reconstruction of the 1966 motor vehicle accident that killed Lee Bowers, Jr.

The project jump-started a new career as an author and publisher, and she started a new business: Mystic Circle Books & Designs, LLC.

As an author, her fictional works are suspense/thrillers with a touch of paranormal and romance. Characters with unexpected skills, that extra edge for overcoming danger and adversity, have always intrigued her. Adding an infatuation with ancient myths and legends of Native American Indians, and Scottish and Irish folklore creates the backdrop for her characters.
As a publisher, her diverse background has proven to be an invaluable asset. Assisting other authors to publish their works utilizes the gamut of her experience. Graphics design has become one of her favorite endeavors.

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If I Had Never Heard of Me, Would I Read My Book? by Anita Dickason – Guest Blog and Giveaway


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

If I’d never heard of me would I read my book?

What an interesting and intriguing question. One that lends itself to a high degree of introspection. My immediate response on reading it was to think, of course I would. But then, I had to step back and ask myself why. Why would I read my book?

My habits when perusing books in a bookstore or on line, are probably the same as most readers. I look at the cover, though, I probably examine covers more closely than most individuals. I am a graphics designer and design book covers. Errors in cover design have a way of popping out at me just as errors in a book grab the attention of an editor.

Still, if I find the cover intriguing, I’ll pick it up and turn it over, or if I am on line, move onto the synopsis. Does the description grab my attention, and more importantly, is this a book in the genres that I like to read? I gravitate toward crime thrillers with a touch of paranormal. I might even read the first page or two before making a commitment to buy or pass.

When I evaluated my book as objectively as possible, the cover does appeal. The owl’s eyes add a mystique that connects to the title Sentinels of the Night and would grab my attention. The blood red moon sinking into a red sea adds another level of intrigue. The synopsis adds to the mystery. What is the strange secret the FBI agent, Cat Morgan, is hiding and how does that tie into owls? What caused the controversy with a police chief when all she did was find a body? Then what is up with the carving on the body. All in all, it raised questions, that I would want answered.

Reading the first few pages, would tell me this was my type of book. A strong female lead character, with a strange twist on the paranormal, overcoming danger and adversity. Yep, it would be right up my alley. I would buy.

Thank you for hosting my book.
Anita Dickason

.FBI Tracker Cat Morgan has an unusual talent, one she has successfully concealed, even from her fellow agents. That is—until she finds a body with a strange symbol carved on the forehead during a stop in Clinton, Mississippi and crosses paths with the town’s rugged police chief, Kevin Hunter. Despite his instant attraction to the sexy agent, Kevin is suspicious of her presence at the crime scene and isn’t buying her dubious explanations. He wants her out of the investigation and out of his town.

The discovery of another mutilated body with the same symbol sends Cat back to Clinton, and this time she isn’t leaving. To stop the killer, Cat must find a way to overcome Kevin’s distrust and will face an impossible impasse—truth or lies. But will either one matter, when the killer fixates on her for his next sacrifice?

Enjoy an Excerpt

Overhead, a deep hoot echoed, followed by the flap of wings. Two owls settled on top of the railroad car. Perched side by side, the formidable talons that could crush the spine of their quarry in an instant clung to the edge. Tufts of hair that protruded like horns and the glow of huge golden eyes gave the birds a fearsome appearance.

Motionless, she eyed the large raptors while she pondered their intervention. A bewildering deviation from their normal behavior.

“Hmm … that was a rather … dramatic entrance, even for you.”

They blinked, and their bills clacked, as if in protest.

“Not that I am complaining, of course.”

Heads swiveled in unison as their intense gaze shifted to the body on the ground. A few seconds later, they refocused on Cat. The magnetic tug twitched in her mind, and an odd sense of approval mixed with fear flowed into her thoughts. Jeez, this is getting even more weird.

“I’m wondering, though, how do I explain this one to Ben? He couldn’t miss seeing you, and he’s already suspicious.”

Another blink, then their wings spread as they lifted off. No help there, not that she expected any.

Her gaze returned to the body. Without their warning—well, she didn’t want to think about what might have happened. As for Ben, she’d come up with some excuse to fob off his questions. She always did.

About the Author: Anita Dickason is a retired police officer with twenty-seven years of experience, twenty-two with the Dallas Police Department. She served in patrol, undercover narcotics, accident investigation and was on a sniper on the Dallas SWAT team.

Anita is the recipient of the prestigious Law Enforcement Professional Achievement Award from the State of Texas House of Representatives. Other awards include Officer of the Year—Texas Women in Law Enforcement, Officer of the Year—International Association of Women in Police, Runner-up Officer of the Year—Dallas Police Department, Officer of the Month—Dallas Police Department and multiple Police Commendations, Certificates of Merit and Citizen/Business commendations from the Dallas Police Department and the Dallas community.

Anita was a certified instructor with Texas Commission on Law Enforcement, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Her instructor certifications include Defensive Tactics, Batons, Spontaneous Knife Defense, Field Sobriety Procedures, Drug Recognition Expert program, and Accident Investigation.

She is a Past President of Texas Women in Law Enforcement, and Past Treasurer for the International Association of Women in Police.

Her first book, JFK Assassination Eyewitness: Rush to Conspiracy, is non-fiction and details the reconstruction of a 1966 vehicle accident near Midlothian, Texas that killed a key witness to the Kennedy assassination. The project opened the door to a new career, Author and Publisher. She owns Mystic Circle Books & Designs, LLC and provides manuscript and design services, helping other authors turn their manuscripts into a published book.

Her fictional works are suspense/thrillers and her plots are drawn from her extensive law enforcement knowledge and experience. Characters with unexpected skills, that extra edge for overcoming danger and adversity, have always intrigued her. Her infatuation with ancient myths and legends of Native American Indians, and Scottish and Irish folklore adds a touch of paranormal for the backdrop of her characters.

The experience of writing led to developing a knowledge of self-publishing and graphic design and a new business endeavor: Mystic Circle Books & Designs, LLC. It is a tossup of what Anita enjoys more, working on her books or helping another author publish their works. She has found an unexpected enjoyment in designing book covers, bookmarks, bookplates, etc. Email her for an autographed custom bookplate — anita@anitadickason.com

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Writing a Popular Cozy Gay Comedy Mystery Series by Joe Cosentino – Guest Blog and Giveaway

Long and Short Reviews welcomes back Joe Cosentino as he joins us to celebrate the release of his newest installment of the Nicky and Noah series, Drama Detective. Tell us why you like cozy mysteries for a chance to win an audio book of he first book in the series.

WRITING A POPULAR COZY GAY COMEDY MYSTERY SERIES
by Joe Cosentino
with the release of Drama Detective, the fifth Nicky and Noah mystery

I was a Broadway musical nerd as a kid. My bookcase was loaded with Broadway show albums, each of which I could sing from opening number to finale. My bedroom was my Broadway stage as I delighted my bureau, bed, and desk with my renditions of Tevye from Fiddler on the Roof, Henry Higgins from My Fair Lady, and even Mama Rose from Gypsy. When family members visited, I entertained them with “Welcome to the Theatre” from Applause. New friends were treated to “Getting to Know You” from King and I. While vacationing in Hawaii, my travel group marveled at my performance of “Bali Hai” from South Pacific. A widow in the crowd garnered my take on “What I Did for Love” from A Chorus Line.

Realizing the healing benefits of laughter, I was also quite the comedian. I often brought visitors to tears with stories of my family members, which I’m sure my parents “appreciated.”

When I wasn’t performing for friends and relatives, I read cozy mystery novels, especially Sherlock Holmes. I marveled at Holmes’ analytical mind, ability to separate clues from red herrings, and his nearly psychic methods of deduction. The warm and fuzzy settings of many cozy mysteries, humor, plot twists and turns, quaint characters, and shocking endings kept me awake until the wee hours of morning.

After working as a professional actor in theatre, film, and television, I became a college theatre professor/department chair. Though I loved and still love my job, I wanted an even more creatively fulfilling outlet. As I was observing others in the theatre building, it dawned on me that a college theatre department is the perfect place for a cozy mystery series. Realizing there aren’t many gay cozy mystery series out there, I decided to create my own. Of course I would combine my love for Broadway musicals, humor, mystery, and a bit of romance (I am of Italian origin after all).

So the Nicky and Noah mysteries feature adorable couple Associate Professor of Directing Nicky Abbondanza and Assistant Professor of Acting Noah Oliver who use their theatre skills (including impersonating others) to solve murder mysteries on the quaint New England campus of Treemeadow College. In Drama Queen (Divine Magazine’s Readers’ Choice Award for Favorite LGBT Mystery, Humorous, and Contemporary Novel of 2015) college theatre professors fall over like heavy stage curtains while Nicky directs the school play. Nicky and Noah must figure out whodunit. In Drama Muscle (Rainbow Award Honorable Mention 2016) Nicky directs the bodybuilding competition on campus. He and Noah must find out why bodybuilding students and professors are dropping faster than hundred pound barbells. In Drama Cruise Nicky directs a murder mystery dinner theatre show onboard a ten-day cruise to Alaska. Nicky and Noah must figure out why college theatre professors in the cast are going overboard like life rafts on the Titanic. Complicating matters are their both sets of hysterically funny parents who shadow the handsome couple. (The first three books are also available as terrific audiobooks!) In Drama Luau, Nicky is directing the luau show at a large hotel in Hawaii. He and Noah need to figure out why muscular Hawaiian hula dancers are going down faster than their grass skirts.

Now I combined my infatuation with Sherlock Holmes and musical theatre for the fifth Nicky and Noah mystery novel, where Nicky is directing and ultimately co-starring with Noah as Holmes and Watson in a new musical Sherlock Holmes play at Treemeadow College prior to Broadway. Also in the cast are their department head and best friend, Martin Anderson (who I want to play if there’s a television series), Martin’s husband Ruben, their office assistant Shayla, Nicky’s brother Tony, and Nicky and Noah’s son Taavi. Dead bodies begin toppling over like intoxicated actors at a curtain call. Nicky and Noah use their drama skills and more to figure out who is lowering the street lamps on the actors before the handsome couple get half-baked on Baker Street.

So grab your Sherlock Holmes hat, coat, and pipe. Take your program and your front row seat for the musical. The game is afoot in Drama Detective!

Theatre professor Nicky Abbondanza is directing a Sherlock Holmes musical in a professional summer stock production at Treemeadow College, co-starring his husband and theatre professor colleague Noah Oliver as Dr. John Watson. When cast members begin toppling over like hammy actors at a curtain call, Nicky dons Holmes’ persona on stage and off. Once again Nicky and Noah will need to use their drama skills to figure out who is lowering the street lamps on the actors before the handsome couple get half-baked on Baker Street. You will be applauding and shouting Bravo for Joe Cosentino’s fast-paced, side-splittingly funny, edge-of-your-seat entertaining fifth novel in this delightful series. Curtain up, the game is afoot!

“Joe Cosentino has a unique and fabulous gift. His writing is flawless, and his use of farce, along with his convoluted plot-lines, will have you guessing until the very last page, which makes his books a joy to read. His books are worth their weight in gold, and if you haven’t discovered them yet you are in for a rare treat.” Divine Magazine

“a combination of Laurel and Hardy mixed with Hitchcock and Murder She Wrote…Loaded with puns and one-liners…Right to the end, you are kept guessing, and the conclusion still has a surprise in store for you.” Optimumm Book Reviews

“adventure, mystery, and romance with every page….Funny, clever, and sweet….I can’t find anything not to love about this series….This read had me laughing and falling in love….Nicky and Noah are my favorite gay couple.” Urban Book Reviews

Enjoy an Excerpt

As if on cue, Corey slouched through the lobby double doors with Mark Melody at his heels. Corey’s blue and white striped polo shirt and tight jeans showed off his muscles. His cheeks were as red as his hair as he said, “I can take care of myself, Mark.”

In his black sweatshirt and slacks, Mark looked more like a stagehand than the author. “Christine in Phantom said she could take care of herself before she was abducted. And look what happened to her!”

She went on a theme park boat ride.

Corey and Mark stopped at a large sofa in a corner of the lobby as Corey said, “Look, dude, I grew up in foster care. I survived twenty-two years without parents. I don’t need one now.”

Mark seemed hurt. “I didn’t sing ‘Kids’ from Bye Bye Birdie to you. All I did was ask Harvey to lay off you.”

“Well, don’t. Nobody takes care of me, but me.”

Mark blinked back tears. “Doesn’t that get lonely?”

“What?”

“Building a wall around yourself? Hiding your feelings? Not getting to know the real you, like in the song, ’I Am My Own Best Friend’ in Chicago?”

“You don’t know me.”

“I agree. But I’d like to be your friend.”

“You don’t want to be friends with me.”

“Why not? Is Grease your favorite musical?”

Corey rested his hands in his head. “I don’t deserve to have a friend.”

“Everybody deserves to have a friend.” Mark sat on the sofa and rested Corey down next to him. “You seem like a good person to me, Corey. As good as Maria Von Trapp in The Sound of Music.”

Corey whispered (as I strained my ears to listen), “I did something bad, dude. Something really bad.”

“I don’t believe it.”

Corey’s gaze seemed haunted. “Believe it.”

Mark thought a moment, and then said, “Were you backed into a corner like Jean Val Jean in Les Mis?”

Corey slid to the edge of his seat. “Look, you’re a nice guy, Mark. But you don’t want to get involved with me.”

“Is it because I’m so old?”

Thirty is old?

“Or is it because you’re a big movie star, and I’m a musical theatre geek?”

Corey laughed with melancholy. “I did one indie film where my naked backside got more film time than my face.”

“I don’t care about that. And I don’t believe you’re a bad person.” Mark took his hand. “Please. Can’t we be friends?” His face lit up like a right wing politician at a Super PAC fundraiser. “Hey, let’s go back to the synthesizer and sing ‘Friendship’ from Annie Get Your Gun.”

Corey shook his head from side to side and flashes of auburn flew around his face. “For your own good. Don’t get involved with me, dude. I mean it.” He headed back into the theatre.

Mark noticed Noah and me and headed over to us like a puppy with his tail caught between his legs. “Did you hear all that?”
I stammered, “N-no, no-not at all. We-we were talking about…how great the show is going.”

Mark sat on the other side of me. “You heard every word, didn’t you?”

Noah and I nodded.

“I’m sure you think I’m a fool, but I’m not giving up.” Mark explained, “Like the song in South Pacific, I’ve always been a cockeye’d optimist.”

No pun intended.

Mark said, “Corey’s a good guy. I can tell. He’s just hurting about something. I wish I could help him.”

Noah patted his shoulder. “Corey was a pensive student when he studied at Treemeadow. I sensed he was struggling with something. I remember an activity I did with my acting students where they had to use emotional recall to remember a sad event in their lives. Corey burst into tears in class.”

“Why is he so unhappy?” Mark asked.

Noah shrugged. “I asked him and he wouldn’t tell me.”

Cutting to the chase à la Martin, I said, “Mark, do you have feelings for Corey?”

Mark’s eyes rolled around in his head. “Nicky, a guy as gorgeous and sexy as Corey would never be interested in someone like me.”

“Don’t put yourself down, Mark.” Noah added, “You’re handsome, sweet, and talented. As a matter of fact, you remind me of…”

My sweet Noah.

“…Nicky’s brother Tony.”

Why didn’t I drown Tony in our pool when we were kids?

“But I’m ancient, eight years older than Corey,” Mark said.

“That’s all right. Nicky’s seven years older than me,” Noah explained.

Speak up, sonny, I can’t hear you. Unable to hear any more about my sexy brother and my ripe old age, I said, “Mark, I didn’t ask you if Corey likes you, I asked if you have feelings for him.”

“I’ve known Corey only a short time, but I already like him very much. And it pains me to see him so hurt and depressed.”

Mark’s face dropped like a movie star’s at forty. “You guys must think I’m as foolish as Don Quixote fantasizing about his Dulcinea in Man of La Mancha.”

Noah smiled like a guardian angel. “Don’t ever be ashamed of caring about someone, Mark. It’s a noble thing for us to love, even if that love isn’t returned.”

I added, “And if it’s meant to be with you and Corey, it will be.” Rising, I said, “In the meantime, we have a show to open in just a few days.”

About the Author: Bestselling author Joe Cosentino was voted Favorite LGBT Mystery, Humorous, and Contemporary Author of the Year by the readers of Divine Magazine for Drama Queen. He also wrote the other novels in the Nicky and Noah mystery series: Drama Muscle, Drama Cruise (Lethe Press), Drama Luau, Drama Detective, Drama Fraternity, Drama Castle; the Dreamspinner Press novellas: In My Heart/An Infatuation & A Shooting Star, A Home for the Holidays, The Perfect Gift, The Naked Prince and Other Tales from Fairyland, The Perfect Gift; the Cozzi Cove series: Cozzi Cove: Bouncing Back, Cozzi Cove: Moving Forward, Cozzi Cove: Stepping Out, Cozzi Cove: New Beginnings (NineStar Press); and the Jana Lane mysteries: Paper Doll, Porcelain Doll, Satin Doll, China Doll, Rag Doll (The Wild Rose Press). He has appeared in principal acting roles in film, television, and theatre, opposite stars such as Bruce Willis, Rosie O’Donnell, Nathan Lane, Holland Taylor, and Jason Robards. Joe is currently Chair of the Department/Professor at a college in upstate New York, and is happily married. Joe was voted 2nd Place Favorite LGBT Author of the Year in Divine Magazine’s Readers’ Choice Awards, and his books have received numerous Favorite Book of the Month Awards and Rainbow Award Honorable Mentions.

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Giveaway: Post a comment about why you love cozy mysteries. The one that tips our Sherlock Holmes hat the most will win an Audible code for a free audiobook of Drama Queen, the first Nicky and Noah mystery, by Joe Cosentino, performed by Michael Gilboe, published by Lethe Press.

Interview and Giveaway: L.M. Pampuro

Long and Short Reviews welcomes L.M. Pampuro. Her book, Uncle Neddy’s Funeral, was voted Book of the Month – check out our review here. Leave a comment for a chance to win a $10 Amazon gift card as well as a copy of Uncle Neddy’s Funeral.

Ms. Pampuro has written five and a half works of fiction (the half is a novella) and has co-written two works of non-fiction. I asked which was her favorite.

“Picking a favorite is like picking a favorite child, it is hard to do so I am going to quote the best quarterback evah, Mr. Tom Brady, when he was asked which Superbowl win is his favorite. He replied, ‘The next one.'”

L.M. has been writing since she was a teenager, admitting to having notebooks of sappy lyrics she would sing in the bathroom mirror with hopes of someday learning guitar.

“The guitar playing didn’t happen. I started writing fiction in college, lost the urge for a while and then around fifteen years ago it came back when I was traveling a lot for business,” she said. Now I write something just about every day. A few years ago I met the great Jennifer Crusie at the Romance Writers Conference and I confessed to her that she was the reason I became a writer. Really, I think I was always a writer yet after reading Crusie, who is so incredibly funny, I started to take it a bit more seriously. We also share a warped sense of humor. Anytime I have prolonged writer’s block I reread Manhunting and take in live music. Like the bands I go see, Crusie doesn’t know me, yet she inspires me.”

“Do you ever suffer from writer’s block?” I asked. “If so, what do you do about it?”

“After finishing Uncle Neddy’s Funeral I couldn’t get started on anything new. I have 5000 words here, another 3000 over there, yet nothing I worked on clicked. My husband and I both teach so we have most of the summer off. (Anyone who teaches knows that you never get a full summer of leisure in). I read the Crusie. Nothing. We were going to concerts two, three times a week. Still nothing.

“In August we attended a four-day music festival. I was watching Magpie Salute, I turned to my husband and said, ‘I need to write.’ He looked at me like I was crazy. I made a few notes and maybe two or three bands later, I left him sitting on the rail and I took the shuttle back at the hotel. I wrote 20 pages that night and now have a work in progress that is actually going somewhere. I have to admit, I was getting worried.”

She rejuvenates going to live music events and dancing, as she says, “like a crazy person.” Movement and music are a release for her.

“Also, I love to ski and spend as much time on a snow-covered mountain as my schedule allows. As with at music events, I find myself making notes on the side of trails or struggling to speak into the voice recorder on my phone on a chairlift,” she said. “During both situations I am forced to stay in the moment. I think that is why ideas come at these moments. There have been times when I have left my phone behind yet I managed to cover a napkin with notes during a break. Of course sometimes, like my middle of the night notes, they make no sense.”

“If you could spend a day with anyone from history, dead or alive, who would it be,” I wondered.

“I would love to go to an art museum with Jerry Garcia. His music is the soundtrack to my life. It would be great just to walk through the galleries and chat about the artwork, the universe, and what inspires us. From what I have read about Mr. Garcia I think he would be the perfect museum/café date. Of course in his case, if he was still alive, the problem would be getting the guy to leave his hotel room… That would be another consideration.”

She is a total pantser when she first starts writing. With the first draft, she just lets the character lead the story where they want to go. The second draft, she reads over what she has and begins adding to it. Then she starts plotting and doing a rough outline of the story for the third draft. After that, she looks at the outline for hints where she can add more or what needs to be omitted.

“I am told there are more efficient ways yet I think creativity should flow,” she told me.

“Can you describe your writing space for us?” I asked.

“My writing space changes. I can edit at my kitchen table yet most of the time I am drafting I head out to different places. One of my favorites is this little café on Main Street in Middletown, Connecticut. They have the best house-made Chai tea and the owner lets writers (I assume the others are writing as they are sitting on laptops) hang out. Most of us will pack up if she gets people waiting for a table. She also is a reader and likes my writing so there is a bonus. I have taken my computer on many writing dates. Even when I go up north to ski there will be times when my husband stays on the slopes or goes out for a beer and I sit in the lobby by the fire pounding away. I need a comfortable space to draft.”

L.M. doesn’t have any regrets when it comes to writing, but she does admit that hindsight is always 20/20. If she had to do it again, she would put her ego aside earlier and listen to her critics, no matter how obnoxious. She would have also spent more drafts working on her first novel.

“I like the story, yet when I read it through my more experienced eyes, I see ways I would have changed it,” she confessed. “Along the subject of education, not that a degree is needed, I liked my graduate program a lot yet finding a more focused MFA program would have served my story better and given me more insight to the publishing world. (Of course that insight could have gone in a different direction and there never would have been an Uncle Neddy).”

Finally, I asked, “What advice would you give a new writer just starting out?”

“Write! Be selfish with your writing time and try to do it every day. Writing is like so many other activities; the more you do it the better you get. Also, from experience, listen to feedback. With my first book, Dancing With Faith, I had a professor at the time give snarky feedback. I won’t go into detail yet I will say she was downright mean. Because of the source I blew her off. Years later I had a critique completed by a pretty famous editor and she gave similar advice in a less rude way. If I had put my ego aside and looked at what my professor was trying to tell me, I would have had a better story earlier on. Oh – and don’t edit your own work! I know this is hard to believe yet every one of my books I had professionally edited.”

About the Author: L.M. Pampuro is the author of five novels: Dancing With Faith, Maximum Mayhem, The Perfect Pitch, Passenger – the only game in town, and Uncle Neddy’s Funeral. (All available at Amazon.com)

She is an avid skier, loves dancing to live music, and possesses a warped sense of humor.

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Giuseppe Vittorio Vaffanculo, a.k.a. Neddy, is an idiot. Not a bad person, he just holds himself in high praise. Neddy is the perfect target for Rayleigh O’Connor, member of the underworld organization The Shadow and soon to be Ms. Neddy number five. As part of the Vaffanculo-Cuzzuto clan, Neddy is the perfect mark Rayleigh needs to avenge the death of a comrade by killing Victor Cuzzuto.

All Victor Cuzzuto wants to do is finally retire to the beach, spend time with his family, and hand over the reins of his Federal Investigation branch office to his protégée.

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The Accident by Glen Ebisch – Spotlight and Giveaway


This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Glen Ebisch will be awarding a $10 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.

Karen Walker is an ex-homicide detective slowly recovering from the trauma of an automobile accident in which she was injured and her husband was killed when a drunk driver struck the car she was operating. After a year of surgeries and attempts to come to terms with her feelings of guilt, she finds herself living the narrow life of a semi-recluse.

Her seclusion comes to an end when an old friend from college, Clarissa Hammett, asks Karen to help in the search for her missing sister, Justine. Karen agrees, and she goes to live alone in the family’s summer home on the coast of southern Maine, which Justine was occupying at the time of her disappearance. Karen even goes one step further and takes on Justine’s job as hostess in a local restaurant, hoping to learn more about the missing woman’s life from her co-workers.

Conversations with the sister’s estranged husband, her present boyfriend, and a mentally disturbed young girl on the beach, lead Karen to believe that Justine’s disappearance was not voluntary and that, if still alive, she may desperately need help.

Enjoy an Excerpt

The doctor’s strong blunt fingers slowly probed my face, reaching beneath the skin to detect the alignment of the bones. Since he had reconstructed my face after the accident, this was his customary low-tech way of checking on his work. Following the light from the lamp he wore on his forehead like a third eye, he then examined my skin, evaluating the success of the cosmetic surgeon. He carefully studied the two fine scars on my left cheek, then sat back. He raised my chair until we were on eye level, giving me a false feeling of equality.

He smiled. “Everything looks as good as new.”

I nodded. New was exactly the word, I looked far different from the old. My cheekbones were now higher, giving me a more sculpted look; my nose, which had a small bump in the middle since a childhood fall from a tree, was now straight and slender; and aside from the two small scars, my skin was as taut and smooth as when I’d been a teenager. At the age of thirty-five I was starting out new and definitely improved. All the previous flaws that had served to humanize me were now gone, and I was almost perfect. Perfect on the outside at least.

About the Author:
I have been a professor of philosophy for over thirty years. Most recently I retired from teaching at a small university in western Massachusetts. For much of that time I have also written mystery and suspense fiction, starting with books for young adults and moving on to writing for adults. I have had twenty-eight books published, fifteen of them in the last fifteen years as time has allowed me to write more. All are cozy in nature and suitable for any reader.

I live in western Massachusetts with my wife. My hobbies include reading (of course) and going to the gym. We also look forward to traveling to Maine and Cape May, New Jersey for our needed dose of the beach.

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