Winter Blogfest: Peggy Chambers

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This post is part of Long and Short’s Review Winter Blogfest. Leave a comment for a chance to win a signed copy of Secrets of Sandhill Island..

BaaBa’s Snickerdoodles

Mistletoe hung over the front door – fresh from the woods where my grandfather hunted. He found it high in the trees and brought it down with one crack shot; then bundled it for the house, with plans for Christmas kisses.

In the living room stood the fragrant evergreen with silver icicles draping from bough to fragile balls frosted with spray-on-snow from years gone by. My grandfather’s baritone voice sang carols by the wood burning stove as the tea kettle on top spewed steam to moisturize the air.

The kitchen smelled of cinnamon, oranges, and pine. In the tiny house in northeast Arkansas the kitchen was always the hub of the family gathering. My grandmother baked her famous Snickerdoodles – moist in the middle and crisp on the outside. The coffee pot perked on the antique stove for the adults, a bent and scalded pan heated hot chocolate for the kids. Sometimes she had cinnamon sticks to stir the chocolate – never marshmallows. I don’t know why.

BaaBa’s Snickerdoodles
Mix together:
1 Cup soft shortening
2 eggs
Sift together and stir in:
2 ¾ Cups sifted flour
2 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp soda
½ tsp salt

Chill at least two hours (overnight is better). Roll into balls the size of a small walnut (black walnuts, English walnuts don’t grow in Arkansas). Roll in a mixture of 2 tsp. sugar and 2 Tbsp. cinnamon. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake until lightly brown but still soft (8 – 10 minutes) in 400-degree oven.

My grandparent’s home was a haven of love and security especially at the holidays. What they lacked in material goods they made up for in family love and hospitality. Family was everything and all were welcome. Merry Christmas wasn’t just a phrase – they meant it for everyone.

Wishing you the joy at Christmas my family felt. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you and those you love.

On a tiny island in a ramshackle beach house, Meg, an heiress, is hiding from her family’s dubious past. Her true love, Evan, died thirty years ago in a storm at sea, she thought. Did her father really have her lover killed and if so does everyone on the island know about it but Meg?

Alex must try to befriend Meg’s son Jon if he is ever to win Meg over. And with his past problems with women, he wonders why he even tries. After all, he is just a starving artist and has little to offer her.

Now that Alex has warmed her heart again, Meg realizes she has friends and a life outside her vegetable garden. But, who is blackmailing her?

About the Author: Peggy Chambers calls Enid, Oklahoma home. She has been writing for several years and is an award winning, twice published author, always working on another. She spends her days working in an office and her nights and weekends making up stories. She has two children, five grandchildren and lives with her husband and dog. She attended Phillips University, the University of Central Oklahoma and is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma. She is a member of the Enid Writers’ Club, Oklahoma Writers’ Federation, Inc., Oklahoma Women Bloggers and Ozark Writers’ League. There is always another story weaving itself around in her brain trying to come out. There aren’t enough hours in the day!

http://www.peggylchambers.com”>Website | Facebook | Twitter

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Winter Blogfest: Jo A. Hiestand

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This post is part of Long and Short’s Review Winter Blogfest. Leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of the mystery “On the Twelfth Night of Christmas,” a copy of the companion cookbook “Cider, Swords and Straw,” a silver charm (drummer drumming), London graphics fashion scarf, and a Union Jack-design tea towel..

A Toast to Twelfth Night
by Jo A. Hiestand

I love customs. I love knowing how, when and why they started. I like the link going back all these centuries, making me part of the long line of revelers.

One tradition I like is Twelfth Night. January 5. Not to be confused with Epiphany, which is January 6. Twelfth Night marks the last of the twelve days of feasting and merry-making during the Christmas season.

Most of us know the song the “Twelve Days of Christmas.” This is what the song is marking down—the twelve days of the Christmas season, from Christmas Day, Day #1, to Twelfth Night.

Twelfth Night, lying between the end of the old year and the new one, was a perfect time for fortune telling, to see what the new year would bring. If an apple peeling was thrown over an unmarried girl’s shoulder, the peeling would supposedly fall into the shape of the initial of the first name of her future husband.

Twelfth Night in England was also a time for wassail, the potent apple-based drink. Wassail comes from the old Saxon word Was Haile! To Your Health! Wassail is made with ale, roasted apples, eggs, sugar, nutmeg, cloves and ginger. It’s drunk hot. Wassail is also known by the name “Lambs Wool” because the apples, after sitting in the hot liquid for so long, tend to soften, lose shape, and appear as little balls of whitish lambs wool. Another version of the name suggests it comes from the Irish ‘la mas nbhal,’ meaning ‘the feast of the apple-gathering.’ La mas nbhal is pronounced ‘Lammas ool’ and evolved into ‘lamb’s wool.’ Each person would scoop an apple out of the wassail bowl and, on eating it, express his wish for future luck to all present.

Apples were important to a farmer’s economy. To ensure a good apple crop the following autumn, the custom of wassailing the apple trees developed. It occurs either on Twelfth Night or New Year’s Eve. A bowl of cider is carried to the apple orchard. Large portions of mulled cider are poured onto the roots of the largest tree there. Slices of toast that have been soaked in the wassail are placed on the tree branches, perhaps to tempt the birds into eating the bread and sparing the apple buds. People blow horns, bang on kettles and fire guns to frighten off malicious spirits.

Toast is very important in the wassailing of the trees and also in the wassail drink itself. Pieces of toast are floated in the wassail bowl as the drink is served; this is where our phrase “to present a toast” or “to toast someone” comes from.
During the Twelfth Night celebration, a traditional cake is eaten. In addition to the usual cake ingredients, the cake uses white rum, raisins, citron, candied orange peel, cinnamon, nutmeg, lemons and almonds. It is iced with a frosting of rum, sugar, butter, egg yolks, and almond extract. Prior to baking, a dried bean and a dried pea are inserted into the batter in the cake pan. When baked and presented at the table, the cake is cut and a slice handed to every guest.

The man getting the bean in his slice becomes Bean King; the woman receiving the dried pea in her slice becomes Queen. They are king and queen for the duration of the night’s festivities and preside over the revels that follow. The King and Queen direct people to go on ludicrous errands or perform funny things, usually outside each person’s character.

The Lord of Misrule presided over this festival, which symbolized the world turned upside down. On Twelfth Night the King and all nobility would take the part of peasants, while they, in turn, played at being the aristocracy. At midnight the merriment of the Bean King and Queen and the evening’s comical commands ended, and the topsy-turvy misrule would reverse to normality. The world was set right again, each person in his or her proper station in life.

It all seems like it was glorious fun. I, for one, offer a toast to it all.

DS Brenna Taylor and DCI Geoffrey Graham are summoned to investigate a drowning in a wintry pond during a family 12th Night party. The case quickly turns personal for the CID team, for one of their own detectives becomes prime suspect, and Brenna finds herself caught between the police investigation and her belief in DS Mark Salt’s innocence. Yet even her faith is strained when Mark’s parody of “The 12 Days of Christmas” hints that he was having an affair with his murdered sister-in-law, Mercedes. It’s easy to believe Mark’s guilt: he attracts women like Christmas presents entice kids. As the investigation progresses, other ‘attractions’ in his past are revealed, and Mark’s guilt intensifies with each one. Had he accidentally killed Mercedes to stop her from leaving the family business–or was the motive personal, perhaps involving the woman with whom he had a brief, passionate affair, the fiancée of Mercedes’ brother? Now that Brenna finally views Mark as a human being, will she lose him if he’s charged with murder?

About the Author: A month-long trip to England during her college years introduced Jo to the joys of Things British. Since then, she has been lured back nearly a dozen times, and lived there during her professional folk singing stint. This intimate knowledge of Britain forms the backbone of both the Taylor & Graham mysteries and the McLaren cold case mystery series.

Jo’s insistence for accuracy, from police methods and location layout to the general feel of the area, has driven her innumerable times to Derbyshire for research. These explorations and conferences with police friends provide the detail filling the books.

In 1999 Jo returned to Webster University to major in English. She graduated in 2001 with a BA degree and departmental honors.
Her cat Tennyson shares her St. Louis home.

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Winter Blogfest: Joanne Guidoccio

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This post is part of Long and Short’s Review Winter Blogfest. Leave a comment for a chance to win an ebook of A Season for Killing Blondes..

EARTH FRIENDLY GIFTS

When selecting a gift for a special friend or relative, I try to think and act with the Earth in mind. Instead of spending countless hours searching for that perfect item or gadget that will eventually be relegated to a drawer or closet, I stop and consider what would be appreciated. Mindful gift giving that creates deeper connections and honors environmental values does not require a lot of money or effort.

Consider the following tips:

• Find out what your friend or relative has always dreamed of doing. Writers, artists, and actors would appreciate sessions with professional coaches. Book time in a recording studio for your favorite vocalist or musician.

• Provide opportunities to try out new hobbies or interests. These could include gift certificates for yoga and Pilates studios, golf lessons, scrapbooking, horseback riding, scuba diving sessions, and hot air balloon rides.

• Give parents and grandparents gifts that have sentimental value. You could ask a local artist or artistically inclined relative to paint a picture of the family house or cottage. Have the picture framed and presented at a family gathering. Alternatively, you could commission an embroidered or calligraphic family tree.

• Invite all the children and grandchildren to spend a day scrapbooking or organizing pictures into collages at your parents’ home. Have all the supplies on hand and clear several large tables. Encourage everyone to share the stories behind the pictures and interact as they prepare the scrapbooks and collages. Prepare a simple lunch and have snacks on hand.

• Help the college student in your circle. Fill a reusable bag or basket with Fair Trade, organic coffee and chocolate, green tea, healthy snacks (almonds, walnuts, and pecans), a nut cracker and a cookbook. Include gift certificates for health food stores, organic restaurants and other green retailers in her new community.

• Create gift baskets that support her favorite pastime. If she is a gardener, fill an attractive watering can with seeds, kneeling pads, a gardener’s tool belt, gloves, a pruning kit, and other hand tools. Gourmet cooks will appreciate receiving the latest kitchen gadgets, books, platters, bowls and other items that will improve and enhance their culinary creations.

• Give gift certificates for her favorite restaurant, movie theatre, health food store, beauty salon or spa. If finances permit, give certificates for massages, reflexology and Reiki sessions.

• Release expectations. We all want our efforts to be appreciated, but sometimes, the gift does not fit or it is simply not liked. Consider including a variation of the following message on the card: “This gift is given to you because it reminded me of your unique self. This gift is given freely with no expectations. If, at any time, this gift no longer brings you smiles and good feelings, feel free to pass it along to someone else, thereby practicing a more clutter free life and feeling the joy of letting go!” (Professional Organizer, Marlo Nikkila)

Hours before the opening of her career counseling practice, Gilda Greco discovers the body of golden girl, Carrie Ann Godfrey, neatly arranged in the dumpster outside Gilda’s office. Gilda’s life and budding career are stalled as Detective Carlo Fantin, her former high school crush, conducts the investigation. When three more dead blondes turn up, all brutally strangled and deposited near Gilda’s favorite haunts, she is pegged as a prime suspect for the murders.

Frustrated by Carlo’s chilly detective persona and the mean girl antics of Carrie Ann’s meddling relatives, Gilda decides to launch her own investigation. She discovers a gaggle of suspects, among them a yoga instructor in need of anger management training, a lecherous photographer, and fourteen ex-boyfriends.

As the puzzle pieces fall into place, shocking revelations emerge, forcing Gilda to confront the envy and deceit she has long overlooked.

About the Author: In 2008, Joanne took advantage of early retirement and decided to launch a second career that would tap into her creative side and utilize her well-honed organizational skills. 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 paranormal romance, cozy mysteries, and inspirational literature from her home base of Guelph, Ontario.

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Channeling your inner Jess Fletcher by T.C. Lotempio – Guest Blog and Giveaway


This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. T. C. Lotempio 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.

Channeling your inner Jess Fletcher
T. C. Lotempio

If you’re a fan of mystery series, and MURDER SHE WROTE in particular, you might have heard of something called “Cabot Cove Syndrome”. Which is a term for a locale or a person whom death and mystery seems to stalk – ad nauseum!

Not a funny thing when you’re a writer of said mysteries! Plotting a mystery, particularly a murder mystery, is hard enough work! How many bodies can one stumble on before you get a “body magnet” label attached to you, as Nora Charles in my Nick and Nora series has! (although sometimes it’s hard to tell whether she or her cat, Nick, is the body magnet).

Becoming a BM could be construed as a problem when writing a cozy series. How does one avoid boring the reader? Well, one way is to alternate the murder weapon – this time, a gun; next time, a knife, the time after that, poison—and so on. Alternate the mode of discovery as well. And even though the Nick and Nora series always starts out with a murder in its prolog, sometimes it’s good to wait a bit to have a murder occur in the body of the story until readers become invested in your characters! If they build up a rapport with your sleuth, they might be a tad more forgiving as to why so many folks come up dead in his/her balliwick!

Expand your character’s horizons, if at all possible. If you can send your sleuth on a trip to stumble across dead bodies, all the better! To quote Wikipedia:
— From a statistical perspective, coincidences are inevitable and often less remarkable than they may appear intuitively –

In short, where murders occur – and why – are just one of those things you can’t explain, one of life’s little mysteries. Which is my response when cynical readers remark on Nora’s penchant for coming across a dead body – or two, or three.

Sit back and enjoy the ride, and if you have to, channel your inner Jessica. You might end up solving the crime right along with our sleuth!

While catering a gala for the Cruz Museum, Nora Charles agrees to look into the disappearance of director Violet Crenshaw’s niece, a case previously undertaken by her frisky feline friend Nick’s former owner, a private eye whose whereabouts are also currently unknown.

As Nora and her curious cat Nick pull at the string of clues, they begin to unravel a twisted tale of coded messages, theft, false identities, murder, and international espionage. Nora dares to hope that the labyrinth of leads will not only help them locate the missing young woman, but also solve the disappearance of the detective. That’s if Nora can stay alive long enough to find him…

Enjoy an Excerpt:

“Yes, so you needn’t worry about anything, Nora, other than preparing your excellent food,” Nan remarked and then added with a twinkle in her eye, “unless you think the grimoire and its history might make a good story for that magazine you write for.”

“NOIR. It might. I’ll ask Louis.” Louis Blondell, the owner and editor of the online true crime magazine I wrote part time for, was always eager for any article that smacked of mystery – plus I owed him two articles already. I tucked the tip about previous theft attempts away, determined to do a bit of research on my own regardless of whether or not he’d be interested – although knowing Louis, I was sure he would be. “I can name some of the sandwiches and main dishes after the more popular characters in Arthurian mythology. I’ll just need to do some research on them – and I know just the person to help me.”

“Splendid!” Nan clasped her hands in front of her. “And several food critics will be there – they’re patrons of the museum – so it will be a wonderful opportunity for your shop, Nora. Why, you might generate more business than you can handle.”

“An increase in business is not a bad thing.” Violet glanced at her watch and rose. “We’d best get going. The exhibit manager is waiting for us back at the museum. Apparently there are many cases to unload. At this rate we may have to move the exhibit the Red Room.”

Nan shrugged into her fleece jacket. “We’ll give you a key to the kitchen, so you can just stop in anytime to look it over or whatever. You can pick it up later, and do let me know if there’s anything you’ll need.”

Nan bustled out the door, Violet trailing at a slower pace. She paused to lay her hand on my shoulder. “I hear you’ve become quite the sleuth. I heard what you did for your sister, and I read the account of the Grainger case. Very impressive. Like that sort of work, do you?”

“I do. Then again, I enjoyed tracking down leads when I was a true crime reporter so I guess it’s really not that much of a stretch.”

She nodded. “Well, then, when you’ve got a bit of time to spare, stop by my office. There’s a matter I’d like to discuss with you that the sleuth in you should find quite a challenge.” She looked at me, and I caught a glimmer of a twinkle in her eye. “It involves a disappearance, and there’s even the possibility it might also involve…a murder.”

About the Author:While Toni Lotempio does not commit – or solve – murders in real life, she has no trouble doing it on paper. Her lifelong love of mysteries began early on when she was introduced to her first Nancy Drew mystery at age 10 – The Secret in the Old Attic. She (and ROCCO, albeit he’s uncredited) pen the Nick and Nora mystery series from Berkley Prime Crime – the first volume, MEOW IF ITS MURDER, debuted Dec. 2, 2014. Followed by #2, CLAWS FOR ALARM. #3, CRIME AND CATNIP, is out this December. She, Rocco and Maxx make their home in Clifton, New Jersey, just twenty minutes from the Big Apple – New York.

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Five Musts Every Story in Florida Glare Should Have by T.S. O’Neil – Guest Blog and Giveaway


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

Five musts every story in Florida glare should have
1. Location, Location, Location:

About five years ago, I wrote a book about a casino heist on the high seas and found out some time later that I had inadvertently written my book, “Tampa Star, “in the literary category commonly referred to as “Florida Glare.” What the hell is Florida Glare you might ask? It’s a subgenre that can trace its ancestry back at least to John D. MacDonald’s hard-boiled “Salvage Consultant,” Travis McGee—living on his yacht, The Busted Flush, at a marina in Fort Lauderdale. Other notable Florida Glare authors are Charles Willeford, Elmore Leonard, (both deceased), and Carl Hiaasen—just to name a few adherents to the genre. What makes Florida Glare a distinctly different subgenre? Well, for starters, as hinted at by its name, Florida is always the backdrop. Therefore, any book in the Florida Glare subgenre needs to take place, at least partially, in the Sunshine State.

2. Unforgettable Characters:

David Barry describes the particular genre as “South Florida wackos—all heavily armed, all loquacious, all barely aware of one another’s existence—blunder through petty crime, discover themselves engaged in actual murder, and then move in unconscious unison toward the black comedy of a violent climax.” Another attribute that defines the genre is a plethora of uniquely bizarre characters, such as Puggy, the tree-dwelling, Frito-eating Hippie in “Big Trouble” or Hoke Mosley, the seemingly overmatched, plodding gumshoe who appears in several of Charles Willeford’s books or my hero, Char Blackfox, a Seminole Indian Former Green Beret, wounded by a dead guy in Vietnam.

3. Murder and assorted mayhem:

Assorted bodily harm is one of the chief components of any book in the subgenre; whether it’s when a narco-trafficker makes “soup” from a recalcitrant trademark counterfeiter, in my latest novel, “Mexican Hat Trick,” or when Congressman David L Dilbeck clubs a strip club patron with a bottle in “Strip Tease,” mayhem and sometimes murder are part of the landscape in Florida Glare.

When transferred to film—we get such classics as Willeford’s “Miami Blues “and Hiaasen’s “Strip Tease”—both containing bone breaking mayhem as well as large doses of greed and sex. Lesser examples are films such as “Big Trouble”—which borders on outright comedy. Another indicator of the subgenre is that rather than intricately woven and planned intrigue, we get thugs blundering into situations that erupt into explosive mayhem. As in “Miami Blues,” when a Hare Krishna tries to cajole the wrong passerby out of spare change and gets killed for his trouble, or when thugs in “Big Trouble,” stumble on a nuclear bomb in the back of a bar frequented by a hippie who lives in a tree. Seemingly isolated acts of mayhem—as when Fred Frenger, the antagonist in “Miami Blues,” breaks the finger of a man in the Miami Airport, causing his untimely demise, but unknowingly setting in motion a series of events that will ultimately result in Frenger’s own undoing.

4. Sex, drugs and…

Well, it is Florida, where bales of marijuana wash up on our beaches from time to time, and Miami lawyers were known to finish lunch with a shot of Cuban coffee and a line of coke. I devoted a lot of verbiage to sex in my first couple of books, but I think that some amount of sexuality (of all sorts) is woven into the plot of any Florida Glare novel as the state oozes with it. People moved down to Florida to escape the blue-nose attitudes of those in the North. There are probably more strip clubs here than in any other state in the union. Outside of the clubs, the state is basically one big beach party were scantily clad co-eds are always frolicking half-naked in the sand—at least in my imagination.

5. Hilarity usually ensues:

Some of the dark humor is belly laugh-inducing, and that’s part of the lure of the genre—if not the underlying theme. Of course, some authors are funnier than others. Dave Barry writes a more comedic version of books within the genre, and I like to think I can get the reader to chuckle on occasion. Carl Hiaasen contribution to the genre includes the aforementioned “Strip Tease, “as well as “Lucky You,” “Tourist Season,” “Skinny Dip” and “Bad Monkey.” They are all solidly written sometimes amusing novels without a recurring cast of characters. In my opinion, you have to at least smile at the absurdity of Hiaasen’s character, Congressman David L Dilbeck, wearing Cowboy boots filled with petroleum jelly in “Strip Tease.” The bottom line is that Florida Glare represents a sometimes funny, but usually entertaining subgenre of books that offer most readers a welcome distraction from humdrum reality.

Mexican Hat Trick reunites Retired Sheriff’s Department Detective turned Private Investigator, Eidetic Eddie Doyle with Former Force Recon Marine, Michael Blackfox, in a rollicking tale of murder, counterfeiting and kidnapping south of the border. A rogue’s gallery of new villains, including a pathological ex-French Foreign Legionnaire, a bloodthirsty drug kingpin, and a conniving corporate attorney, conspire to corner the counterfeit apparel market. Mexican Hat Trick is Florida Glare—south of the border.

Enjoy an Excerpt:

Jesus Juan Carlo Rodriguez Mendelevich or Chewy for short was scared. The portly man sweated profusely in the noonday sun. His body generated rivulets of sweat that cascaded down his corpulent frame in continuous flows. Part of the cause was Torreon’s climate; the other was his nervousness. Chewy had scheduled the meeting at Casa Portofino, a restaurant in one of the more upscale and tranquil areas of the city. The neighborhood was a series of walled compounds, behind which sat multi-story villas protected by shotgun-toting security guards. Chewy waited under the blue canopy of the Mediterranean style white stucco building, hoping to see whether the man he was scheduled to meet arrived alone as was agreed. He was expecting a Gringo named Eddie Doyle, an emissary sent by the owner of the clothing company Chewy supplied.

Torreon was a dangerous place—there were over a thousand murders the previous year. Most were drug related as the Zeta cartel called it their territory and home—while other gangs disagreed. It was also the industrial heart of Mexico with much of the manufacturing scattered around the city in a series of walled and guarded industrial parks.

Chewy was the product of a May-September romance between a Jewish immigrant and a Mexican seamstress. His father, Isaac, a talented and well-connected tailor, had fled the Soviet Union in the early fifties. He had served many senior officials within the Communist Party ¬¬—a connection that would save his life. In the aftermath of Stalin’s death, a plot had been discovered to seize power by assassinating select high party officials. A group of Jewish doctors was implicated and vilified. Some were executed, others imprisoned—Isaac had been a non-practicing Jew, but nonetheless was swept up in the purge that followed. He escaped via a connection he had with a Mexican diplomat.

Over the remainder of his life, Isaac Mendelevich had grown a one tailor shop into a lucrative cut & sewn operation that employed over sixty seamstresses. Chewy had neither his father’s patience nor his virtue, but he did have higher aspirations.

For the past eleven years, Chewy’s company, Estrella de David S.A., had served as a foreign contractor of an American apparel manufacturer. The cloth was cut in El Paso and shipped to his Estrella Fabrica Una in Torreon—he only had one factory, but he could still dream big. His seamstresses rapidly turned the fabric into shirts and pants, he paid them poorly and reaped the reward. He had developed a pretty lucrative gig—the work was good, and Chewy prospered. He lived in a three level walled home outside of town, drove a late model Range Rover, and vacationed in a rented villa in Tuscany.

The Range Rover handled Torreon’s rough streets better than the Ferraris or Lamborghinis he saw in Italy—still, the Rover was not as stylish. He was originally pissed when he found out the Chinese had copied the storied vehicle and sold the counterfeit version, called the Landwind X7 for half the price of the original. But that anger gave way to grudging admiration after he involved himself in a similar pursuit.

Chewy dated the better-looking members of his staff—oblivious to the warning about fishing from the company pier—apparently, there is no similar expression in Spanish. The work was lucrative but limited. He often finished the entire consignment that the North American manufacturer shipped him in record time, which left him with an idle factory. He had plans for an early retirement to his own villa in Italy or along the Spanish Coast, and that took serious money.

Before his current girlfriend, Angelina, came to work for him—she had been employed for a short time in a factory stitching counterfeit shirts. The shirts were such good quality that they were often sold in the same retail shops that sold originals. She liked the work—the factory was in an old warehouse close to her home, the pay was in dollars, and they fed her lunch. Sure the work was hard—twelve hour days using old sewing machines, learning the strange stitching design and getting yelled at when she screwed something up, but they let her bring home the leftover tamales, and they paid her each day in currency.

On her one month anniversary a team from the Prosecutor’s Office arrived—all dressed in black military-style uniforms and carrying automatic weapons. The two Mexican Americans running the factory were summarily arrested—cuffed and stuffed as the gringos say, and carted off in a detention vehicle, not doubt to the infamous Gómez Palacio prison.

The gringos’ arrests left a vacuum in the market and after some subtle inquiries, Chewy filled it with a vigor. He now produced a regular run of clothing, in this case, a trademark known as Mountain Man (MM) and then produced a second line of high-quality fakes. The clothing line had a distinctive trademark—an inch high double M with crossed legs. The patterns were the same, and much of the output was repurposed seconds or new jeans made with locally bought denim. The quality of his counterfeits was high enough to fool the trademark inspectors and even some of the manufacturer’s investigators.

They filled a container of legitimate product for which Mountain Man’s in-country manager paid in cash a sum that was both gratifying and underwhelming. His shop floor otherwise idle, he would put his seamstresses to work with remnants and leftover sundries, to turn out another line of high-quality counterfeits. He knew others were doing the same. The fake jeans went straight into a shipping container that arrived on a regular basis—he assumed they were exported as he never saw them in the ‘Tianguis’ or local flea markets.

Chewy was initially happy. That together with what he was earning in regular work meant he was garnering over one-half million dollars a year. Still, it was not enough. The villa in Italy that he wanted costs over two and one-half million dollars and his prolific use of cocaine, 100% agave aged Tequila and high-class prostitutes, limited his ability to save. He needed, as the computer geeks say, a killer app—something lucrative enough to put him over the top. Two million dollars would get him there, and he figured that the information he had to share was well worth that price.

About the Author:TS O’Neil graduated with Honors from Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts with a Degree in Criminal Justice and graduated with High honors from the University of Phoenix with a Master’s in Business Administration in Technology Management. He served as a Rifleman with the Marine Corps Reserve, an Officer in the Military Police Corps of the United States Army, and retired from the Army of the United States (AUS) as a Lieutenant Colonel in 2012. He is a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom. TS is currently employed as a Senior Security Consultant, specializing in Information Security. He lives in Seminole, FL with his beautiful wife, Suzanne. He has written four books, Tampa Star, Starfish Prime, Mudd’s Luck and Mexican Hat Trick.

All are available on Amazon.com

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What You Don’t Know by Elka Ray – Q&A and Giveaway

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This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Elka Ray 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.

What books/authors have influenced your writing?

After a childhood spent devouring everything from literary classics like “Treasure Island”, and “The Wind in the Willows” to ‘80s trash – i.e. “Flowers in the Attic, “Sweet Valley High”, etc – I became a literary snob as a young adult. I read good literary fiction – Michael Ondaatje, Rohinton Mistry, Alice Munro – and wrote bad literary fiction: short stories full of beautiful phrases and zero action, or never-ending novels with heavy (but important) themes. Yawn. So it was a big surprise when a chick lit mystery snuck into my brain to become my first published novel, “Hanoi Jane”. Suddenly, I couldn’t stop writing – or reading – genre fiction, especially thrillers and mysteries.

No one wants to wade through bad writing. But all the beautiful prose in the world can’t save a lame story. The books that have stayed with me the longest could all be classified as “genre fiction”: the melodramas of Dickens; the science fiction of John Wyndham, Ray Bradbury and Margaret Atwood; Andrew Piper’s ultra creepy ghost story “The Lost Girls”; and the super-smart psychological mysteries of Daphne Du Maurier, Tana French, Harriet Lane and Belinda Bauer. These women prove that genre fiction can teach us as much about the human condition as any literary novel.

Tell us something you hate doing. Why?

Many writers are introverts and I’m no exception. I hate public speaking. “Writers’ Festivals” strike me as a cruel joke. I’d rather be home writing – or reading.

Share a funny incident in your life.

I’d like to share a humiliating motherhood story, although it’s a bit dirty. Readers with a low tolerance for offensive language and mild sexual content – cover your eyes and look away.

When my son was about two he had a decent vocabulary but bad pronunciation. I usually knew what he was saying but strangers had trouble understanding him. We’d just moved to a new neighborhood and were in a cafe/playground popular with parents and small kids. Instead of sitting at separate tables, patrons sat close together at long picnic benches.

My son toddled over from the sandpit and yelled: “Mommy, do you like pussy?”

I blinked and froze. All I could manage was a feeble, “What?”

His question unanswered, my little boy yelled even louder. “Mommy! I said do you like PUSSY?”

To my left a guy with two small girls was looking at me sideways. I went bright red, racking my brain as to where my two-year-old could have heard such a thing. Frustrated by my lack of response, he bellowed: “MOMMY! I LOVE PUSSY! AND DADDY LOVES PUSSY TOO!”

If I’d whipped off my top to reveal a latex bra, the guy beside me couldn’t have looked more shocked. I jumped up and hustled my son back over to the sandpit, thinking: “Be quiet! You’re never going to get invited to any playdates!”

It took many more agonizingly embarrassing minutes to figure out what he was saying. At that time, he was besotted with a toy train character called Thomas the Tank Engine. One of the other toy trains is called “Percy”. Find me a toddler who can pronounce that name properly. Like they couldn’t have called it “Bob” or something…

What’s your pet peeve?

Emails marked “URGENT” that aren’t. My fingers itch to hit delete.

Who was your favorite hero/heroine?

She’s by no means a heroine, but Miss Havisham – the bitter old lady in Dickens’ “Great Expectations” is one of my favorite fictional characters. Having been jilted at the altar, Miss Havisham spends the rest of her life lounging around in her tattered wedding gear, poisoning the mind of her adopted daughter, Estella, whom she teaches to mistrust and manipulate men. Miss H is the worst sort of woman – both hateful and pathetic. But she tells us a great deal about life in Victorian England (when this book was written), back when a woman’s only “career” choice was to make a good marriage.

mediakit_bookcover_whatyoudontknowAn American lawyer dreams of killing his trophy wife in Thailand. A Vietnamese soldier goes mad in a haunted forest. A bereaved mother’s trip to Cambodia ends in tragedy – or does it?

Take a spine-tingling journey from the jungles of Sumatra through Bangkok’s seedy bars to the seemingly sedate streets of Singapore. Your traveling companions are a slew of dark emotions – fear, grief, jealousy, greed, lust and revenge. And your destination?

With flashes of black humor and hard-to-forget characters, these ten stories shine light into the dark corners of Southeast Asia.

Enjoy an Excerpt:

“Kyle?” I yell. I’m sure my son is gone, sucked down to the bottom.

Blinking against the blood, I see him lying face down on the deck. He’s got himself wedged against the boat’s sides like a rock climber. I call again and he twists his head. I must look pretty bad, because he gasps. “D—dad?”

The boat is still rocking, but not enough to tip. Water sloshes back and forth. Kyle pushes himself onto his hands and knees. We both look around. Beneath the streaks of rain, the sea is dead calm. No swell. No big whitecaps. Nothing.

“Shit. What happened?” says my son. His face appears bleached. “What was that?”

I’ve been boating in these waters for going on two decades but can’t explain what hit us. If it was the wake from a big cargo ship there’d have been more waves. That wave came from nowhere. Was it a whale? I shake my head. “I…I don’t know,” I say.

The engine has stalled. My hands are shaking so hard I have trouble restarting it. It roars to life once, twice, only to cut out.

“Daaaad! You’re flooding it,” says Kyle, his voice a hysterical whine. “It won’t start! It won’t start! You’ve flooded it!”

I grit my teeth. “Fine, you try.”

If he hears, he doesn’t respond but just hugs his knees. “My god. My god. She’s here. She’s here.” He says it over and over again.

“Shut up!” I yell, and my son stops. He presses his palms to his cheeks. I force myself to count to ten before trying the motor again, terrified that Kyle’s right: If the motor is flooded, we’re stuck out here.

About the Author:mediakit_authorphoto_whatyoudontknow At the age of eleven, Elka Ray co-founded the Double Trouble Detective Agency. She’s been on the lookout for mysteries ever since. Elka’s latest book, “What You Don’t Know: Tales of Obsession, Mystery & Murder in Southeast Asia”, takes readers on a darkly suspenseful tour of the Far East. Her first novel, a fast-paced romantic adventure titled “Hanoi Jane”, was published by Marshall Cavendish in English and DT Books in Vietnamese. Elka’s next novel, the thriller “Saigon Dark”, will come out with Crimewave Press in November 2016. Elka is also the author and illustrator of a popular series of bilingual kids’ picture books about Vietnam.

Elka divides her time between Hoi An in Central Vietnam and Canada’s scenic Vancouver Island. When she’s not writing, drawing or reading she’s in – or near -the ocean.

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Character Interview with Nicky and Noah from DRAMA CRUISE by Joe Cosentino

Long and Short Reviews welcomes back Joe Cosentino who is here with Nicky and Noah to talk about the 3rd book in the Nicky and Noah series, Drama Cruise.

It is my pleasure to welcome my leading characters, Nicky Abbondanza and Noah Oliver from Drama Cruise, the third Nicky and Noah mystery by Joe Cosentino, published by Lethe Press. Thank you for stopping by to chat with us today Nicky and Noah.

Noah: It’s good to leave the books and stretch out.
Nicky: Noah is pretty stretched out already.
Noah: Nicky, in front of everyone?

Nicky and Noah, throughout the Nicky and Noah mysteries (Drama Queen, Drama Muscle, Drama Cruise) we’ve watched your relationship grow from flirtatious to quite serious.

Nicky: I’m a one-man man, and that man is Noah Oliver.
Noah: Right back at you, Nicky.

Tell us about the Nicky and Noah mysteries.

Nicky: They’re funny, theatrical, sexy, wild, and wacky with a solid mystery in each book.
Noah: The first two Nicky and Noah mysteries are set in an Edwardian style university founded originally by a gay couple (Tree and Meadow) whose name the university bears: Treemeadow College. The clues and murders (and laughs) come fast and furious, there are enough plot twists and turns and a surprise ending to keep the pages turning, and at the center is a touching gay romance between Nicky and me.
Nicky: In the first novel, Drama Queen, it is winter, so white snow, cherry wood mantels surrounding blazing fireplaces, and hot chocolate are in abundance. College theatre professors are falling like stage curtains (while I direct the college play production), and Noah and I must figure out whodunit and why.
Noah: In the second book, Drama Muscle, it is fall, so gorgeous leaves of amber, violet, and scarlet blanket the campus. Nicky is directing the college’s bodybuilding competition, and bodybuilding students and professors are dropping like barbells. In each book Nicky and I eavesdrop, seduce, role play, and finally trap the murderer, as pandemonium, hilarity, and true love ensue for a happily ever after ending—until the next book.

Was Drama Queen, the first Nicky and Noah mystery, well received?

Nicky: Reviewers called Drama Queen hysterically funny farce, Murder She Wrote meets Hart to Hart meets The Hardy Boys, and a captivating whodunit with a surprise ending. One reviewer wrote it was the funniest book she had ever read.
Noah: Not to mention the readers of Divine Magazine voted it their Favorite Mystery Novel, Favorite Humorous Novel, and Favorite Contemporary Novel of 2015. I always liked that magazine.
Nicky: When the ebook reached eighteen on the Amazon bestsellers list in its category and the paperback and audiobook with all twenty-four roles played by Michael Gilboe sold like tickets to Les Mis after the Tony Awards, it was time for another Nicky and Noah mystery. They liked us! They really liked us!

Did Drama Muscle, the second Nicky and Noah mystery do as well?

Nicky: Readers really liked the bodybuilders. And reviewers said the book packs a laugh a minute, is a romantic romp, and the coziest of cozy mysteries. It won a Rainbow Award Honorable Mention, but I don’t have a big head.
Noah: Actually, he does. And one nice thing about the Nicky and Noah series is that each book is a totally contained mystery. So readers don’t need to read one before being able to enjoy another.

Tell us about the storyline in Drama Cruise, the third Nicky and Noah mystery.

Nicky: Drama Cruise takes place in summer as Noah and I go on a ten-day cruise from San Francisco to Alaska and back. We must figure out why college theatre professors are dropping like life rafts as I direct a murder mystery dinner theatre show onboard ship starring Noah and other college theatre professors from all over the world.
Noah: Complicating matters are our both sets of parents who want to embark on all the activities on and off the boat with us.
Nicky: Martin Anderson, our department head, and his husband are also along for the rocky ride. As in the first two books, there are a slew of colorful, hysterically funny victims and suspects like the cruise director who talks endlessly about her glory days as a theatre major in college, the ship’s doctor who is looking for the secret of life, our porter who wants us to adopt him, and the captain of the boat who insists he has seen the ghost of his former sea captain.
Noah: The theatre professors are equally as colorful, including an alcoholic who believes he has seen a mermaid, a hypochondriac looking for love, a comic with a cat of nine tails in her closet, and a Shakespearian actor who can’t keep his hands off his volume of the Bard—or off anyone else.
Nicky: And who is the mysterious Professor Nan Joy Hassahl?

I’ll never tell. How was life on the cruise to Alaska?

Nicky: We had amazing meals—
Noah: After amazing meals. And we saw fantastic ocean views of glaciers.
Nicky: We also embarked on land excursions to a tramway over the mountains, a totem pole park, a log climbers show, a frontier habitat, and a Native American village.
Noah: Our cabin sported a private balcony with amazing views.
Nicky: The private view was amazing all right. Ruff!
Noah: Nicky!

Any plans for the Nicky and Noah mysteries to become a television series?

Nicky: Rather than Logo showing reruns of Golden Girls around the clock, and Bravo airing so called reality shows, I would love to see them do the Nicky and Noah mysteries. Can’t you see Matt Bomer as me?
Noah: Neil Patrick Harris as me?

I want to play Martin Anderson. Nicky, I described you as having dark hair, green eyes, a Roman nose, a muscular body, and an enormous manhood. Does that help you solve the murders?

Nicky: It doesn’t hurt.
Noah: Guess again.
Nicky: Good one, Noah. I have to flirt my way into some places to get certain information. But even more, Noah and I use our theatre skills, including playing other people, to get clues.
Noah: Most of all Nicky uses his smarts, always a fine asset in an amateur detective.
Nicky: And in the third novel I get some help from Noah, our department head Martin, his husband Ruben—
Noah: And my parents who are pretty funny.

There is a great deal of humor in the novels.

Nicky: Since you come from a funny Italian family, Joe, you can’t help yourself. Also, we help you think of clever things to write about us.

Noah, what do you like most about Nicky?

Noah: Nicky has such an amazing never say die attitude, wit, smarts, and perseverance in the face of adversity. He is genuinely concerned for others, and he wants to help them.

Nicky, what do you like most about Noah?

Nicky: Noah’s gorgeous blond hair and blue eyes, kind heart, sweet disposition, and commitment to me.

Noah, what do you like most about your parents?

Noah: How much they love Nicky.
Nicky: Almost as much as your mom loves her camera.

Who else did you enjoy having on the cruise?

Nicky: I love Martin’s sense of theatricality, and his inquiring mind, meaning he’s a gossip. I also like how Martin and Ruben throw loving jibes at one another yet are totally in love, and can read each other like a book—no pun intended.
Noah: Jeff, the hypochondriac professor and Neem the ship’s doctor were sweet.

Which character do you like the least?

Nicky: Captain James Vessel is quite vocal about his homophobia due to what he calls his, religious freedom. Religious freedom means you are free to practice whatever religion you like, not take away someone else’s civil rights. But Vessel is in for a huge surprise as the book commences.

Are you happy to be in a gay-themed series?

Nicky: Obviously gay stories are part of my life. Also, there are still many untold stories about gay people. Go to the mall and look at the movie posters sans any gay characters on them. However, just as your Jana Lane series with its gay supporting characters has huge crossover appeal for gay people, the Nicky and Noah series with its straight supporting characters has a tremendous amount of crossover appeal for straight people. Besides, everybody likes a clever mystery, a sweet romance, and a good laugh.

Since you mentioned it, hint hint, tell everyone about my Jana Lane mystery series.

Nicky: Joe created a heroine who was the biggest child star ever until she was attacked on the studio lot at eighteen years old. In Paper Doll Jana at thirty-eight lives with her family in a mansion in picturesque Hudson Valley, New York. Her flashbacks from the past become murder attempts in her future. Forced to summon up the lost courage she had as a child, Jana ventures back to Hollywood, which helps her uncover a web of secrets about everyone she loves. She also embarks on a romance with the devilishly handsome son of her old producer, Rocco Cavoto. In Porcelain Doll Jana makes a comeback film and uncovers who is being murdered on the set and why. Her heart is set aflutter by her incredibly gorgeous co-star, Jason Apollo. In Satin Doll Jana and family head to Washington, DC, where Jana plays a US senator in a new film, and becomes embroiled in a murder and corruption at the senate chamber. She also embarks on a romance with Chris Bruno, the muscular detective. In China Doll Jana heads to New York City to star in a Broadway play, enchanted by her gorgeous co-star Peter Stevens, and faced with murder on stage and off. In Rag Doll Jana stars in a murder mystery television show, and once again life imitates art. Since the novels take place in the 1980’s, Jana’s agent and best friend are gay, and Jana is somewhat of a gay activist, the AIDS epidemic is a large part of the novels. Like Nicky and Noah’s mysteries, they have interesting characters, a strong plot with lots of twists and turns, and a satisfying but shocking ending.

How about my MM novels and novellas?

Nicky: Noah and I aren’t in them. Pout. Your MM romance novellas are published by Dreamspinner Press. They are AN INFATUATION (Divine Magazine Readers’ Choice Award 2nd Place for Best MM Romance), A SHOOTING STAR, A HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS, and THE NAKED PRINCE AND OTHER TALES FROM FAIRYLAND. There is also your MM series COZZI COVE: BOUNCING BACK, COZZI COVE: MOVING FORWARD, and the upcoming COZZI COVE: STEPPING OUT taking place on the Jersey Shore and published by NineStar Press.

Like Drama Queen and Drama Muscle, is Drama Cruise available as an ebook and paperbook?

Nicky: Yup. This gives the reader an option to read it on a Kindle, Nook, or computer, or with book in hand on the train, at work (when nobody’s looking), or in bed.

How can your readers get their hands on Drama Cruise, and how can they contact us?

Noah: The purchase links for Drama Cruise are below, as are your contact links, including your web site. Joe loves to hear from readers, everyone, since it gives him a break from hearing from Nicky and me!

Will there be more Nicky and Noah mysteries?

Nicky: You tease. As you know, Drama Luau releases in six months, where Nicky directs a luau show in Hawaii, and muscular hula dancers start dropping like grass skirts. It’s a riot. You’ll never guess whodunit.
Noah: But you did, Nicky.
Nicky: With your help, Noah.

And mine. Thank you!

Nicky: It is our joy and pleasure to share our stories with you. So take your front row seat. The boat is leaving from port. Lights up and ahoy matey! Alaska here we come!

12_6-joe-drama-cruiseTheater professors and couple, Nicky Abbondanza and Noah Oliver, are going overboard as usual, but this time on an Alaskan cruise, where dead college theatre professors are popping up everywhere from the swimming pool to the captain’s table. Further complicating matters are Nicky’s and Noah’s parents as surprise cruise passengers, and Nicky’s assignment to direct a murder mystery dinner theater show onboard ship. Nicky and Noah will need to use their drama skills to figure out who is bringing the curtain down on vacationing theatre professors before it is lights out for the handsome couple. You will be applauding and shouting Bravo for Joe Cosentino’s fast-paced, side-splittingly funny, edge-of-your-seat entertaining third novel in this delightful series. Curtain up and ship ahoy!

Enjoy an Excerpt:

The stunning movie star’s long jet-black hair created a silky fan on the cold marble floor. Surrounding her were a crowd of guilt-ridden faces: her possessive husband and producer, her handsome young paramour and co-star, her aggressive agent and female lover, her jealous sister and stand-in, and her makeup man who knew all her secrets (and she knew his). A detective arrived on the scene, took one look at the murdered beauty, and fell in love.

“Nice job, people! Let’s take ten.”

That was me, Nicky Abbondanza, Professor of Directing at Treemeadow College, a white stone Edwardian-style private college in the quaint and picturesque village of Treemeadow, Vermont. And how did I become the director of a murder mystery dinner theatre show on a ten-night June cruise from San Francisco to Alaska and back? I spotted an online ad seeking theatre professors to present theatrical workshops for passengers on a cruise, culminating in a murder mystery dinner theatre presentation on the last evening. Okay, technically my colleague and fiancé Noah Oliver, Professor of Acting at Treemeadow, spotted the ad in an educational journal, but I applied for my department head and mentor, Martin Anderson (producing the show), my Noah (acting in the show), and me (directing). Martin’s husband, Ruben, came along for the ride.

Martin and Ruben are a sweet, elderly couple (don’t tell them I said that) who have been together forever and have two grown daughters. For our part, Noah and I are both tall, but the similarity ends there. I have dark hair, long sideburns, a Roman nose, and a pretty pumped body thanks to the gym on campus. Noah has exquisite curly-blond hair, sky blue eyes, a smooth build, and the most loving heart on land and sea. I am just a tad older than Noah—but what’s seven years? A lot when you are thirty-six and your lover is twenty-nine.

Oh, there’s one other little thing. Actually, it’s not so little. I have a thick nine-and-a-quarter inch penis—flaccid. Luckily, Noah is very open (pardon the pun) to my anatomical quirk.

After flying from Vermont to New York to San Francisco and waiting on endless security lines in the airports, the four of us got to the boat, where we waited on a long security line to come onboard. After unpacking in our cabin then getting a quick lunch at the bountiful buffet, Noah and I made our way through the sea of polyester, and somehow remained awake during the life boat drill.

Then we dodged photographers, dollar signs shining in their eyes like paparazzi at a closeted gay movie star’s mansion, and headed to our first rehearsal. As the dining room was occupied with guests eating lunch, we rehearsed in a nautical themed lounge onboard ship.

After an hour and a half of rehearsal, it was break time. While the other professors scattered like televangelists near an IRS building, Noah and I sat on a cozy loveseat next to a gas brick fireplace. Noah looked amazing in an aqua polo shirt and white pants, while I was a bit more toned down in yellow slacks and a cranberry hoodie. I took Noah’s soft, warm hand in mine, and said adoringly, “I can’t believe we’re here.”

Noah responded, “My first cruise.”

“My little virgin.” I kissed his cheek.

He looked out of the porthole and kissed the cleft in my chin. “The sky and the water are gorgeous.”

“I hope we get to the deck to see them.”

“We won’t be rehearsing all day, Nicky.”

“Don’t you need a break, handsome, young paramour character?”

Noah snuggled his shoulder into my chest. “I’d rather wallow away the minutes with my intended.”

We shared a warm kiss.

About the Author: 12_6-joeBestselling author Joe Cosentino was voted Favorite Mystery, Humorous, and Contemporary Author of 2015 by the readers of Divine Magazine for Drama Queen. He also wrote the other novels in the Nicky and Noah mystery series: Drama Muscle and Drama Cruise (Lethe Press); In My Heart/An Infatuation & A Shooting Star, A Home for the Holidays, The Naked Prince and Other Tales from Fairyland (Dreamspinner Press); Cozzi Cove: Bouncing Back, Cozzi Cove: Moving Forward, Cozzi Cove: Stepping Out Cozzi Cove series (NineStar Press); Paper Doll, Porcelain Doll, Satin Doll, China Doll, Rag Doll (The Wild Rose Press) Jana Lane mysteries; and The Nutcracker and the Mouse King (Eldridge Plays and Musicals). 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 Head of the Department/Professor at a college in upstate New York, and is happily married. Joe was voted 2nd Place for Best MM Author of the Year in Divine Magazine’s Readers’ Choice Awards for 2015, and has won many Rainbow Award Honorable mentions including for Drama Muscle. Upcoming novels are Drama Luau (fourth Nicky and Noah mystery) and Cozzi Cove: New Beginnings (fourth Cozzi Cove beach novel, NineStar Press).

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Praise for DRAMA QUEEN, the first Nicky and Noah mystery by Joe Cosentino from Lethe Press (Divine Magazine’s Readers’ Choice Award for Best Mystery, Best Crime, Best Humorous, Best Contemporary novel of 2015):
“Without doubt the funniest book I have read this year, maybe ever” “brilliant” Three Books Over the Rainbow
“I cannot stop laughing. Drama Queen is Hardy Boys-meets-Murder She Wrote-meets-Midsummer Murders, with a side of parodic, farcical, satire.” “Who-dunits don’t come more whodunnity than this.” Boy Meets Boy Reviews
“I’m hoping that this is just the start for Nicky and Noah. If Jessica Fletcher could have so many murderers in Cabot Cove, why shouldn’t the same hold true for Treemeadow College?” Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Reviews

“This fast-paced, hilariously funny, entertaining novel will have you on the edge of your seat as you try to figure out who-dun-it!” Joyfully Jay
“a murder mystery, a comedic romp, an investigative caper, and a love story all rolled up into one nifty little novel” The Novel Approach
“I am not used to reading books that make me snigger out loud, but in Drama Queen Joe Cosentino has struck a great balance between his use of tongue in cheek humour and a compelling mystery which we want to see solved.” Divine Magazine
“I love this story, just the right mix, of fun, hilarity and mystery in the mix. The storyline is fresh and well thought out, and the dynamic of the characters is through the roof! Bike Book Reviews

Praise for DRAMA MUSCLE, the second Nicky and Noah mystery by Joe Cosentino from Lethe Press, Rainbow Award Honorable Mention:
“reading these books is like watching a fabulous comedic, murder mystery, action, adventure, romantic film.” “I was giggle snorting and laughing so much I had to stop reading. Joe Cosentino’s writing is absolutely flawless. He’s a master storyteller and will keep you guessing and utterly riveted until Drama Muscle’s highly satisfying ending. This is an absolute gem of a book, and series.” Divine Magazine
“Book 1, Drama Queen was always going to be a hard act to follow with its belly ache laughter approach but in this “smirkathong” – yes I was smirking throughout the book, my top lip still aches – the author succeeded in delivering another comic classic!” Three Books Over the Rainbow
“a perfect balance of humor and romance into a continuously twisting plot.” “Cosentino will keep you entertained and guessing until the very end.” 3 Chicks After Dark
“As with the first book, there are laugh out loud, completely funny sections. And enough of the mystery and suspense that keeps me reading” “I look forward to the next story” The TBR Pile
“laugh out loud funny” “Readers will be on the edge of their seats waiting for the killer to be revealed.” “As a romance, readers will love seeing Nicky and Noah settling in to living together in their Victorian home.” “I highly recommend this series.” Joyfully Jay Reviews
“This is a wonderful addition to the series! I fell in love with Nicky in the first book and he just gets better. Filled with humor and action. Noah evolves in this story, his character grows into a more mature yet still adorable sidekick to Nicky. They are perfect together, in detective work and in family situations. I hope that there are more to follow.” Crystals Many Reviewers
“This book is a comic romp that simultaneously celebrates and lampoons a mash-up of genres: the bloodless murders (in this case six) of Agatha Christie and her ilk, the screwball movie mysteries of Nick and Norah Charles (it’s Nick and Noah here), and the simile-rich voice-overs of film noir– all updated for a gay context.” Elisa Rainbow, Rainbow Awards

Skeletons in the Attic by Judy Penz Sheluk – Spotlight and Giveaway

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This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. The author will award a $10 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn host via Rafflecopter. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000040_00072]What goes on behind closed doors doesn’t always stay there…

Calamity (Callie) Barnstable isn’t surprised to learn she’s the sole beneficiary of her late father’s estate, though she is shocked to discover she has inherited a house in the town of Marketville—a house she didn’t know existed. However, there are conditions attached to Callie’s inheritance: she must move to Marketville, live in the house, and solve her mother’s murder.

Callie’s not keen on dredging up a thirty-year-old mystery, but if she doesn’t do it, there’s a scheming psychic named Misty Rivers who is more than happy to expose the Barnstable family secrets. Determined to thwart Misty and fulfill her father’s wishes, Callie accepts the challenge. But is she ready to face the skeletons hidden in the attic?

Enjoy an Excerpt:

Leith Hampton placed the will in front of him, smoothing an invisible crease with a well-manicured hand, the nails showing evidence of a vigorous buffing. I wondered what kind of man went in for a mani-pedi—I was surmising on the pedi—and decided it was the kind of man who billed his services out for five hundred dollars an hour.

He cleared his throat and stared at me with those intense blue eyes. “Are you sure you’re ready, Calamity? I know how close you were to your father.”

I flinched at the Calamity. Folks called me Callie or they didn’t call me at all. Only my dad had been allowed to call me Calamity, and even then only when he was seriously annoyed with me, and never in public. It was a deal we’d made back in elementary school. Kids can be cruel enough without the added incentive of a name like Calamity.

As for being ready, I’d been ready for the past ninety-plus minutes. I’d been ready since I first got the call telling me my father had been involved in an unfortunate occupational accident. That’s how the detached voice on the other end of the phone had put it. An unfortunate occupational accident.

I knew at some point I’d have to face the fact that my dad wasn’t coming back, that we’d never again argue over politics or share a laugh while watching an episode of The Big Bang Theory. Knew that one day I’d sit down and have a good long cry, but right now wasn’t the time, and this certainly wasn’t the place. I’d long ago learned to store my feelings into carefully constructed compartments. I leveled Leith with a dry-eyed stare and nodded.

“I’m ready.”

About the Author:mediakit_authorphoto_skeletonsintheatticAn Amazon International Bestselling Author, Judy Penz Sheluk’s debut mystery novel, The Hanged Man’s Noose (Barking Rain Press), was published in July 2015. Skeletons in the Attic (Imajin Books), the first book in her Marketville Mystery Series, was published in August 2016.

Judy’s short crime fiction appears in World Enough and Crime, The Whole She-Bang 2, The Whole She-Bang 3, Flash and Bang and Live Free or Tri.

Judy is a member of Sisters in Crime, Crime Writers of Canada, International Thriller Writers and the Short Mystery Fiction Society.

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SKELETONS IN THE ATTIC is on sale on Amazon for only $0.99 (reg. price $4.99) from December 1 – 15, 2016.

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What Happened to Rose by Helga Zeiner – Spotlight and Giveaway

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This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Helga Zeiner will be awarding a $20 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.

mediakit_bookcover_whathappenedtoroseCarola’s life is perfect – or so it seems. Her husband, her friends, her staff don’t see the emptiness of a loveless existence. Every day is the same, until the day when she has enough. Without warning she leaves her home country of Germany to start a new life in the Canadian wilderness.

But she is not equipped to handle the hardships of a lonely existence in a remote cabin. A five-day snowstorm brings her close to her breaking point. Searching for means to survive, she discovers the written confession of the previous cabin owner who wants to clear his conscience by admitting to a terrible sin he committed involving a girl called Rose.

When the storm subsides, Carola begins to ask questions but nobody is willing to talk. Nobody wants to tell what happened to Rose, but Carola becomes obsessed with finding out the truth.

Will Rose finally get justice? If you love mystery and suspense, with an added romance bonus, this new novel by an Amazon bestselling author will keep you turning the pages all night long.

Enjoy an Excerpt:

It started to snow. Thick and heavy.

Deep in thought, she registered the brake lights of the car in front of her a nanosecond too late. Carola hit the brakes hard, and felt her truck fighting the slippery road. She managed to slow down enough to avoid crashing into the rear bumper of the car in front of her, but the right front wheel of her truck slid over the shoulder, hit the snow bank covering the ditch and came to a stop.

She moved into first gear and accelerated again. The truck buried itself deeper. Now both wheels, front and back, slid into the ditch. Leaning sideways, the truck would not right itself without being pulled.

Shit. Shit. Shit.

She hit the steering wheel with her bare hands.

She switched the hazard lights on, climbed out of the cab, walked to the side of the road to avoid oncoming traffic, and pulled out Maria’s cell.

No reception.

Shit, again.

Fat snowflakes danced around her face, seriously reducing visibility and muffling most sounds. Standing by the roadside was getting dangerous.

A pickup passed. A guy leaned across the passenger seat, the window slid down.

“Can I help you?”

About the Author:mediakit_authorphoto_whathappenedtoroseHelga Zeiner is a German born Canadian author. She left her home town Augsburg at age eighteen to explore the world. In the following fourteen years she has lived and worked in Australia and Asia, writing in her spare time.

Several of her thrilling novels have been on the Amazon bestseller list and enjoy an enthusiastic fan base. 
She now lives with her husband on a country estate in the wilderness of British Columbia, devoting all her time to writing.

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The Background of King Peso by Carmen Amato – Guest Blog and Giveaway

vbt_tourbanner_kingpeso

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Carmen Amato will be awarding a $50 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.

The Background of King Peso

KING PESO is the 4th novel in the Detective Emilia Cruz mystery series. Emilia is the first female police detective in Acapulco, taking on Mexico’s drug cartels and culture of machismo.

We lived in Mexico at a time when the drug wars were really beginning to heat up. One Christmas Eve a junkie with a gun stumbled into midnight Mass and headed for the altar. Our priest dug through his robes, pulled out a few pesos, and pressed them into the man’s hand. Several congregants gently propelled the drug-addled man back down the altar steps and out the rear door.

Christmas mass continued but we were all shaken. As if the addict had been a prophecy, Mexico’s news grew worse in the new year: shootouts in major cities, multiple drug seizures, rising numbers of dead and missing, the murders of mayors, governors and journalists.

Now I’m back in the US showing what’s going on in Mexico with a fearless style, an unforgettable woman, and a little salsa fresca from my own experiences.

mediakit_bookcover_kingpesoKING PESO is the fourth book in the sensational Detective Emilia Cruz mystery series recently optioned for both television and film. Emilia is the first female police detective in Acapulco, where Mexican drug cartels battle for control and politicians are bought with blood money.

Three cops are murdered, execution style. Emilia worked with them all.

Her partner’s wife is killed in a home invasion. Was he the real target?

Is Emilia the next?

She hopes to be assigned to a task force to investigate the killings, but is instead directed to a new police unit championed by Acapulco’s ambitious mayor and overseen by a shady union strongman. But when Emilia stumbles upon a falsified report, she will conduct a private investigation, even as another murder victim carries a stark message for her.

Home is no refuge for Emilia; hotel manager Kurt Rucker has a shocking secret that could tear their relationship apart.

Unexpected help comes from a frightened attorney and a famous movie star, but each new clue to the murders unravels the one before. Meanwhile, Emilia’s ongoing hunt for a missing girl, a continuing series subplot, leads to the infamous El Pharaoh casino, a place she knows only too well.

What do a casino and a cop killer have in common? Emilia bets on her partner, but his gamble could cost both their lives.

Enjoy an Excerpt:

“I think I’m on the task force,” Emilia said. “Because I worked with all three victims.”

She’d crossed paths professionally with all three of the murder victims, although none had been a close colleague. She hadn’t even met Salinas, just talked to him a couple of times on the phone. But he’d been honest with her and done what he said he would do. A rare and rapidly disappearing commodity these days.

“Who else worked with all of them?” Kurt asked. “Silvio? What does he think?”

“Franco worked with Vega on the arson case, too.” Franco Silvio was Acapulco’s senior police detective and Emilia’s perpetually surly partner. “But he never met Salinas or Espinosa. He wasn’t invited to the meeting, either. None of the other detectives were.”

“Even Loyola?” Kurt asked.

Emilia shook her head. Loyola, who was junior to Silvio, had been made acting lieutenant of detectives several months ago. He now rarely worked cases. “Not invited. He only knew Vega from the arson case.”

“What are you telling me, Em?” Kurt paused. “That you’re a target, too?”

“I don’t know. Maybe.” Emilia stared at the lights twinkling in the dark ocean as the unseen swimming dock bobbed. “The El Trio killer could be another cop. Someone on the inside who is being specific about their victims.”

“I can’t believe you waited to tell me, Em,” Kurt said, exasperation and sudden anger in his voice. “You live here. If you’re in danger, that means everybody in this hotel is in danger. I have to know things like this.”

Emilia bristled. “I’m telling you now, aren’t I?”

Kurt turned to look at the ocean again, elbows propped on top of the wall. “I guess what I’m trying to say is that I wish you were invested enough in us . . . in this relationship . . . to tell me things when they happen. Not a week later. Because you’re thinking how things impact us. Not just you.”

Emilia concentrated on the pinpoints of light out in the bay. Why did they keep having the same conversation and why was it always so hard?

About the Author: mediakit_authorphoto_kingpesoCarmen Amato is the author of romantic thrillers and the Detective Emilia Cruz mystery series set in Acapulco which was recently optioned for film. Originally from New York, her experiences in Mexico and Central America inspire many of her books. For a copy of the Detective Emilia Cruz Starter Library, visit her website.

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