“Monday Mystery” – BLIND MAN’S BARGAIN

In the mood for a mystery with a great twist right at the end? You might want to check out Tracy Winegar’s latest, BLIND MAN’S BARGAIN.

Final BMB cover

Synopsis

When a blind old man hobbles into Nelson Rune’s private investigation office, the young PI doesn’t expect to be hired to solve a forty-five year old murder mystery.

Harry Fletcher claims he adored his wife, Caroline — so why did he go to prison for her murder?

With the help of Cleo, his pretty neighbor, young Nelson will sift through clues of Harry and Caroline’s marriage to clear Harry’s name and find the real killer.

Tracy Winegar seamlessly weaves a story of love and secrets, opportunities and regrets in a novel that surprises to the very last page.

Excerpt

Nelson reviewed everything he had pertaining to Harry Fletcher’s case and had come to the conclusion that there was nothing that he hadn’t overlooked in his own trove of records and evidence. He determined that he would have to figure out a way to actually look at the evidence from that night. He would have to try to talk his way into being allowed to see it; that’s what he would do. But how?

When he inquired into the matter, he was told that no one was allowed access to evidence, even to a case as old as the Fletcher case. It was an irritation, much worse than a burr under a saddle. To come so close to wrapping it up, to nearly having all of the loose ends neatly tied, and then be rebuffed was more than he could bear.

And then it dawned on him. As he struggled with sleep one night, the answer came to him in a soft sibilant murmur to his brain, as if someone else had given him the solution to his problem. If he wanted to see the evidence, he was going to have to steal it…

SAMSUNG DIGIMAX A503

Bio

Tracy Winegar enjoys cooking and gardening in her free time. She loves all things vintage and considers several family heirlooms to be her prized possessions. She’s also always on the lookout to score pieces to add to her growing Jadeite collection. Tracy lives with her husband and four beautiful children in Northern Utah. Although she doesn’t mind living in the desert, she still misses the green of the Midwest where she was born and raised. Her philosophies of life, love, and family are deeply anchored in those small town Indiana roots.

(If you want to know more about Tracy, check out my earlier interview with her here.)

BLIND MAN’S BARGAIN can be purchased online from Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

Originally posted 2014-09-08 09:34:38.

“Thursday Thriller” – THE GREENLAND BREACH

I interviewed French thriller writer, Bernard Besson, a few months ago and in that interview he talked about his upcoming eco-thriller THE GREENLAND BREACH. It’s out now and here’s a closer look at it.

GreenlandBreach800-194x300Synopsis

A cracking ice cap, rival multinationals, cutthroat espionage…

What is really at stake with global warming? The Arctic ice caps are breaking up. Europe and the East Coast of the Unites States brace for a tidal wave. Meanwhile, former French intelligence officer John Spencer Larivière, his karate-trained, steamy Eurasian partner, Victoire, and their computer-genius sidekick, Luc, pick up an ordinary freelance assignment that quickly leads them into the heart of an international conspiracy. Off the coast of Greenland, a ship belonging to the French geological research firm Terre Noire is in serious trouble. The murder of an important scientist jeopardizes evacuation. On land another killer is roaming the icy peaks after researchers, while a huge crevasse splits Greenland apart. In the glacial silence of the great north, a merciless war is being waged. Global warming and subsequent natural disasters hide international rivalries over discoveries that will change the future of humanity.

Excerpt

Greenland, the north face of Haffner Bjerg, 6:30 a.m. Lars Jensen felt the ground tremble beneath the snow. He straightened up and abandoned his position, petrified by what he was seeing to the west, toward Canada. The last phase of global warming had begun just as a big red helicopter flew past from the east. It doubtless belonged to Terre Noire, the Franco-Danish oil-and-gas company that was carrying out geological surveys. From the rocky slopes of Haffner Bjerg, events were taking an unimaginable turn worthy of Dante. With a sound as ominous as the crack of doom, the Lauge Koch Kyst had begun to tear away from Greenland and plummet into Baffin Bay in the North Atlantic Ocean. A colossal breach a mile and a half deep was opening up in the middle of the island continent. The trench ran for miles, as if an invisible ax had just split the ice cap in two. Terrified, Lars backed away, forgetting what he had come to the top of the world to do. He’d guessed that his presence on the slopes of Haffner Bjerg had something to do with the death of the Arctic. The advance wired from an anonymous account on the island of Jersey was every bit as incredible as the cataclysm under way. A mist shot through with rainbows rose from the depths of the last ice age. Behind the iridescent wall, thousands of years of packed ice raked the granite surface and crashed into the sea, stirring up a gigan- tic tsunami. He pressed his hands to his ears to muffle the howling of Greenland as it began to die. It took Lars awhile to get a grip. His hands were still shaking as the thunderous impact reached him. It was even more frightening than the ear-splitting sound. Greenland was plunging into Baffin Bay. In a few hours, the coasts of Canada and the United States would be flooded. He fell to his knees like a child, overcome by thoughts that had never before crossed his mind. An abyss was opening inside him, and it was just as frightening as the one in front of him. It wasn’t until his fitful breathing slowed and his lungs stopped burning that he was able to get back to the tawdry reality of his own situation. He lay down again on the hardpacked snow. With his eye glued to the sight of his rifle, he found the trail that the dogsled had taken from the Great Wound of the Wild Dog. That’s where the team would emerge, heading for Josephine and the automated science base that sounded the great island’s sick heart. The Terre Noire geologists were known for their punctuality, but at two thousand euros an hour, he would wait if he had to. Say what you like, the end of the world was good business.

Author

Besson_240_small-206x300

Bernard Besson, who was born in Lyon, France, in 1949, is a former top-level chief of staff of the French intelligence services, an eminent specialist in economic intelligence and Honorary General Controller of the French National Police. He was involved in dismantling Soviet spy rings in France and Western Europe when the USSR fell and has real inside knowledge from his work auditing intelligence services and the police. He has also written a number of prize-winning thrillers, his first in 1998, and several works of nonfiction. He currently lives in the fourteenth arrondissement of Paris, right down the street from his heroes. Widely distributed in bookstores, THE GREENLAND BREACH is also available online from Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

Originally posted 2014-05-01 06:00:34.

“Wednesday Writer” – Alysia Ricks (aka Alysia S. Knight)

Alysia Ricks writes under the pen name Alysia S. Knight. Why? Believe it or not, I forgot to ask her, but I do know one other thing about her that doesn’t come out in the interview below: she once had to have a pap smear by flashlight when the power went out. Ugh! What kinds of stories does she write? Ones with heroes for all times, whether it’s a sweet romantic suspense, a YA, or an adventure story.

Alysia S. Knight

ME:  What were the best and the worst parts about growing up in Wyoming? And how does Wyoming figure into your love of travel today? (I’d love a picture of you as a young girl there.)

ALYSIA:  Unfortunately I don’t really have any pictures of me little. (Okay, either she didn’t like the way she looked or her parents were too busy to take pictures…too bad either way.)

I enjoyed growing up in Wyoming. My parents loved the outdoors so I spent a lot of time in the mountain. We camped, hiked, fished. (Yep, sounds like they were too busy. :D) I went with them when they went hunting, though I never hunted for myself.

We also collected rocks and fossils which flowed over into vacations. I have panned for gold, garnets and sapphires in Montana. I’ve also dug opals in Idaho and picture mud in Oregon, plus many more things.

(I’ve got to admit I’ve never heard of picture mud before, but here’s a couple of visuals for you…if this is what she’s talking about.)

SONY DSCpicture mud(I’m not sure why you’d want to dig this stuff up, except the different textures are interesting…Any comments, Alysia? Am I totally off base?)

NOTE: Since I first posted this, Alysia clarified that the substance she was digging for is basically petrified mud and is called Biggs Jasper. Here’s what it looks like:

biggs jasper(Now that looks like something worth digging for!)

ME:  Going on, you say you are the writer who hated English and can’t diagram a sentence to save yourself. Why did you become a writer, and when did you know you would be one? Was there a particular person, whether it’s an author or a teacher, who influenced you in this direction?

ALYSIA:  Though no one knew it, I actually started writing my own Hardy Boys books in Jr. High and High School, my favorite thing to read growing up. (Me too!…at least in Jr. High) Unfortunately, I thought it sounded foolish for me to want to be a writer, especially being English challenged.

(We know better now, don’t we? No dream is foolish.)

I didn’t start writing again, besides the occasional poem, until I was almost thirty. I read a five book series and was really enjoying it until I got to the last book. In it the main character did this big flip from the first four. By the end, I was so disgusted and upset I remember throwing the book down and saying I can write a better ending than that.

I sat down and wrote My Lady. I still really love the story. I’m debating on putting it up for a free read either on my website or somewhere. (Please do.) The blurb for it is – Things are not always as they seem, and love can’t always be denied, but it can be a great adventure if you survive. Obviously, by the way Lady Aliea made her way to the court dressed as a boy she doesn’t quite see herself as a proper young woman for the prince to want to marry. Falling in love with Prince Jonathan causes endless problems for their friendship, especially when someone wants Jonathan dead and Aliea for himself.

After that, writing became my sanity. I finished a couple more books and was starting to get more serious about my writing so I went to a workshop. There someone said, “If you want to write you should read 2,000 books.” I took that literally and in the next two years read close to 2,000 books. (Now that’s dedication, and only goes to show that people do listen at these workshops.) Yes, that is about three a day.

I didn’t sleep much in those two years, and I didn’t write either. I would not suggest this to anyone. I learned a lot, but the main thing, besides that fact of barely surviving, was – If I read, I don’t write. Now reading is my reward to savor when I finish a goal. (Much better plan.)

ME:  When and how did you discover your love of painting? And if you had to choose between painting and sports, which would it be and why? (Please provide a picture of one of your paintings… or of you playing a sport.)

ALYSIA:  I don’t think I could choose between the two, they are both part of me. I grew up playing sports and still continue. I started painting for an ‘out’ after my first daughter was born. Also, my father, who was in his seventies, had just started painting and I decided if he could do it, I could too. My father was a talented ‘Jack of All Trades’ type man. (It certainly sounds like it. What? No picture again? I’m beginning to wonder if you have something to hide.)

ME:  How did you meet your husband, and what job was it that took him to forty countries? Also, of all the countries you’ve visited, where have you had the most memorable (either good or bad) experience? (And I must have a picture of the two of you traveling together.)

ALYSIA:  My husband and I met in college. He’s was a mechanical engineer and did automotive R&D, which had him traveling to Europe for a while. Then he got his masters in business and became a project manager with the Asia-Pacific area.

I have been to some wonderful, beautiful places; met some great, very nice people. It is really hard to pick one. Phuket Thailand was amazing with Phang Nga Bay where you’ll find James Bond Island (featured in “The Man With the Golden Gun”). Wow! I would love to go there again. I wrote a book there, hopefully it will be out next year.

IMG_0405(Phuket, Thailand)

 

IMG_0444(James Bond Island)

Also, Angkor Wat in Cambodia, it is spectacular. One of the places I always dreamed of going and it didn’t disappoint. I love old ruins. 

IMG_0911(Angkor Wat)

Ankor 23

(Love this root system among the ruins!)

(Anyone else notice that when it comes to places pictures aren’t a problem? I say she’s either shy, or  her husband’s actually a covert operative. :D)

ME:   You’ve piqued my interest about your trip with your son deer hunting. Which son was this? Please provide a brief version of what happened. (And a photo, if possible…not holding my breath on that, though.)

ALYSIA:  It was my oldest son’s first deer hunt, and he was twelve. He’d been out a couple times and they hadn’t got his deer. It was the last day he could go out and no one else could go out with him, so it was just us two. We were out hiking the hills about forty miles from our house. I suggested we go to an area where I thought I saw a buck a couple of days earlier. (I’ll add that no one believed I saw a buck that size in that area. I was on my own at the time scouting.)

Anyway, we spooked out this deer, a nice size four point. I’ll add here that, the way we term it, that’s four on each side. My son makes the shot and brings it down. The problem is: it’s a big deer, and the thing slid down in some brush when it dropped because we were on a steep hill. We had no cell phone connection, it was going to start getting dark in a half hour, and all we had to do was get it over a thirty foot drop. We had to decide- do we clean it first or try to get it down the drop and part way off the hill before dark?

We went with moving it because I didn’t want to face the drop in the dark. (Smart move!) So we belayed this deer down the shale-covered hill with my son, who was twelve, and his friend, who was eleven, on the rope, and me doing what could best be called a controlled slide with the deer because my son was afraid of getting the antlers broken.

Luckily, we got it to the bottom and far enough down the hill that we could call his cousin, who came up with a four wheeler, helped clean it and took it the rest of the way down.

(YAY! Now that’s what I call “tough mothering.”)

It really was an adventure. My son was extremely proud because he got the biggest deer of anyone he knew that season. Yes, he mounted the antlers and hung them on his bedroom wall, and yes, they are still there.

(So, where’s the picture to prove this story?)

ME:  How long have you been writing, when was your first book published, and how does it compare with what you’ve produced since? Exactly how many books have you had published and how many novel-length manuscripts have you finished?

ALYSIA:  O boy, this is a loaded question. I’ve been writing for over twenty years now, getting serious the last five. I didn’t start trying to publish until about then. My first book was published almost two years ago, LETTING LOVE WIN.

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I have three books out right now, PAST TO DIE FOR and TEMPERATURE RISING being the other two. They are all sweet romantic suspense. Actually, I just finished my twenty-third full length manuscript. (I’d say you’re prolific!)

62821821344743ME:  You specialize in sweet romantic suspense, but also write YA and adventure. What do you think of the YA genre as it currently stands? What’s good about it and what’s not so good?

ALYSIA:  I actually haven’t tried to publish any of my YA as of yet. Hopefully I will soon. I love writing YA and reading it. I think there needs to be more good winning over evil, standing up for what is right, and adventure in life. I loved to escape into it and think that is still needed for youth and everyone today. I believe that is why so many, shall we say, non-YA read YA.

ME:  What are you working on now and how would you describe your writing process?

ALYSIA:  I guess every writer has to do an Altantis story (Really? I guess I’d better get busy), so I just finished mine. My hero, Jareon follows an escaped criminal, Lysias, who tried to take over their world, to earth. Jareon knows he will never get to return home but what he doesn’t know is that in giving up his world he finds his destiny and love. Now he just has to keep her safe, stop Lysias, and survive. It was a really fun book to write.

For my next book I’m just starting a suspense that is a sequel to my novel Whistleblower, which hasn’t yet been published. It is called Mindblower. Zack, the twin brother of the hero from the first book, is pulled in to rescue Skye, a remote viewer for the government whose handler is selling her out to a drug lord in a foreign country when her project is terminated.

ME:  Finally, please describe your writing space in the voice of one of your main characters. (And I must have a photo of said space, whether it’s an office, a meadow, or a chair.)

ALYSIA:  Since I’m living in Skye’s world right now I’ll let her tell you.

For a moment Skye drifted then the images cleared around her. Light filled the room. It was comfortable, a large desk was centered one wall, position so the person sitting at the desk could turn and gaze out the window easily. The wall over the desk held several framed letters but what drew her attention was the collage of picture, mountain scenes, sunsets, and tigers interspersed with what had to be family. There were plaques with quotes on believe, dream and reaching you mountains, but there was no one there.

She made her way back down the hall, down the stairs, toward the back of the house reaching where the oak table sat in a bay window between the kitchen and family room it showed more signs of activity. An open bag of mini M & M’s, a power cord and mouse, plus pile of hand written note cluttered the end of the table in front of the window.

(Yes! M&Ms. I knew I liked you, Alysia, even without the people pictures.)

Skye looked around the room then out the window to find the person she’d been searching for sitting on the deck. A young yellow lab leaned against her leg. Her attention focused on the laptop in front of her. Her fingers moved over the keyboard, paused then continued. She was definitely not a fast typist, but she smiled at whatever it was she was writing.

Skye moved forward and glanced down at the page to find her name there and prayed this woman could really see her safe. Skye’s mind slipped free, racing back over the miles to her small room that was turning into her prison.

“Please, let someone help me.” The words escaped her as the image a Zack Masters filled her mind. Could he really be the hero coming for her, or was it all a fantasy.

(Nice!)

You can read a lot more about Alysia on her website, and her books are available on Amazon.

Next Wednesday, I’ll be talking with Arizona writer, Virgil Alexander, who combines his love of history with his mystery novel writing.

Virgil Alexander

 

Originally posted 2014-04-30 14:32:53.

“Monday Mystery” – ADRENALINE RUSH and GRAVEDIGGERS

Today I have a double dose of mystery to announce–two thrillers from the same author, Cindy M. Hogan. Let’s have a look at ADRENALINE RUSH first.

Adrenaline RushSynopsis

A madman with a mission is kidnapping groups of thrill-seeking high school seniors across the country, and it’s up to Christy to stop him.

To do so, she must take on a fearless alter ego and infiltrate a group of adrenaline junkies bent on pushing life to the limit. Death-defying stunts are only the beginning: two groups fit the profile, and Christy must discover the real target before it s too late.

If she chooses the wrong group, more people will disappear. But choosing right puts her as the prime target with no guarantee that she’ll get out alive.

Excerpt

     As I hurtled toward my destination at 500 miles an hour, I pulled out a notebook, placed it on the shiny mahogany table in front of me, and scribbled a quick to-do list. Pick out an outfit. Get folders and notebooks. Switch into fourth period drama. I chewed on the end of my pen. Oh yeah–just one more thing. Get kidnapped.

     According to my pre-mission briefing, kidnappings were up in the States by five percent over the last five years. The significance of which didn’t hit me until I found that the statistics for kidnappings had remained static for a good thirty years. The spike caught the attention of the FBI, and they put their best men on it. The problem? Right when they thought they’d discovered the pattern of the kidnappers, it seemed to change.

     We hit some turbulence, and the force of it pulled me out of my reverie. I sucked in a deep breath, my hands resting on the soft leather side arms of my big comfortable seat as the Gulfstream jet jumped. I let the rollercoaster feeling wash over me like a wave, forcing myself to enjoy every last tingle. I only had this flight and a few hours tonight to assume my new thrill-seeking alias–the one that would lure the kidnappers and save the day before the pattern changed again. I might as well make the most of it.

Reviews

Thrilling, heart pounding, an Adrenaline Rush indeed!” (Konstanz Silverbow, Author of Only Half Alive)

“Jeremy and Christy have a chemistry akin to a younger version of Alias’ Vaughn and Sydney Bristo.” (S.M. Anderson, author of Copied)

“Hunger Games move over – Adrenaline Rush has arrived.” (D.K. Holbrook, reviewer)

ADRENALINE RUSH is available on Amazon in both paperback and Kindle.

 

And now for her second release, GRAVEDIGGERS.

GravediggersSynopsis

Seventeen-year-old Billy thinks his father’s murder will never be solved until he stumbles across an old ammo box while digging a grave in his small-town Tennessee cemetery.

What he finds leads him to question everything he knows, and his search for answers will uncover more than he bargained for: lies, secrets, and conspiracies, and behind them all, a dangerous truth.

 

Excerpt

Why did people have to die in June when it was so dang hot? I jumped on the top edge of my shovel, forcing it into the ground, the metal pressing into the soles of my feet through the holes in the bottoms of my shoes. The muggy late afternoon air sent sweat dripping into my eyes. I wiped my sleeve across my face.

Henry, my best friend since forever, and I had dug three graves in just over two weeks. The average for the Halls, Tennessee cemetery was only one grave a month for the six years we’d been working there. It was hard to believe it would be my last year of digging graves, but I was totally excited about going away to college. Even though I hated sweating to death and would rather be playing baseball, I was stoked about the one hundred bucks I’d earn. I’d finally have a few extra dollars to buy new shoes. I’d seen an awesome looking pair of Nikes at the thrift store just the other day. They had probably belonged to Mikey, Mayor Clement’s youngest son. I didn’t want to have to wear his cast-offs, but I needed every penny for college. Mikey tended to wear something only a few times before tossing it aside anyway. No such luck for me. Use ’em up and wear ’em out was our family’s adage.

 

Reviews

“A thrilling mystery with spine-tingling hints and bone-chilling secrets. Hogan has a knack for creating killer scenes that make her books irresistible. Don’t miss this one!” (Rachelle J. Christensen, Author of Wrong Number and Caller ID)

“Mystery, adventure, danger, and a touch of romance fill the pages of Gravediggers.” (Angela Woiwode, reviewer)

“Friendships are tested to the limit and secrets and lies are uncovered in this unpredictable mystery.” (Susan Tietjen, reviewer)

 

GRAVEDIGGERS is also available on Amazon in both paperback and Kindle.

 

Author

Cindy M. Hogan graduated with a secondary education teaching degree and enjoys spending time with unpredictable teenagers. More than anything she loves the time she has with her own teenage daughters and wishes she could freeze them at this fun age. If she’s not reading or writing, you’ll find her snuggled up with the love of her life watching a great movie or planning their next party. She loves to bake, garden, and hang out and play outdoors.

Cindy Hogan

Originally posted 2013-11-04 11:43:58.

“Monday Mystery” – Mysteries, Suspense Novels, and Thrillers Are Like Driveways

This past week, we had our driveway torn up because of cracking and appearance issues.

photo 3 of driveway

We discovered, in the process, that the pipe for the sprinkler system had been placed just under the concrete surface where it was likely to bear the most weight and wear down.

photo 2 of drivewayphoto 1 of drivewaySo before the new driveway can be poured, a trench needs to be dug and a new pipe fitted to lie more deeply under the ground.

Brian, the guy doing our new driveway, explained that you’ve really got to watch out for builders cutting corners and getting away with it simply because it’s out of view. As he put it, “They come in here ready to pour concrete and they don’t care what’s already there. They’re just going to cover it up.”

Writers can’t be like that. We may be ready to pour out a whole novel’s worth of words, but we’ve got to make sure we’ve laid the proper foundation first. Why? Because our readers will hold us accountable. Particularly when it comes to mysteries, suspense, and thrillers. We have to place certain clues in the right places and in the right ways (there, but not too obvious) and we also have to be sure and include red herrings to keep things complicated enough. After all, our readers are going to be tearing up our “driveways” as they devour our stories and there had better not be any unacceptable surprises.

What kind of driveways are we constructing in the first place? Asphalt? Concrete? One made out of block pavers? It’s pretty easy to tell the difference between all three.

But where do you draw the line in terms of genre between mystery, suspense novel, and thriller?

Author and former literary agent Nathan Bransford came up with these distinctions:

  • Thrillers have action
  • Suspense has danger, but not necessarily action
  • Mysteries have mysteries (something you don’t know until the end)

Still confused? I am. After all, I think THE BOURNE IDENTITY and THE DA VINCI CODE has all three elements.

Another agent, Jessica Faust, says there are three different kinds of mysteries: the cozy (usually involving an amateur sleuth and not too many bloody bodies), the mystery (grittier and darker…definitely more blood), and the suspense/thriller (the darkest of the three…more about stopping a killer than solving a crime). Check out her explanation here.

There’s a fascinating post by novelist Janet L. Smith describing the conclusions of suspense master, Alfred Hitchcock:

  • Suspense has no relationship to fear
  • It’s the state of waiting for something to happen
  • Therefore, the viewer or reader must be informed of an awful, impending event in order to be held in suspense, rather than merely surprised when it happens

Smith points out that a mystery, on the other hand, “is a novel of revelation, with action more mental than physical.” In this case, the audience is not kept informed.

And here’s one final analysis by Maeve Maddox.

Let’s say Mystery is Asphalt, Suspense is Concrete, and Thrillers are those driveways built with block pavers. What kind of driveway do you specialize in, and why? Please let me know in a comment below. I’m interested to find out which is most popular these days.

 

Originally posted 2013-07-22 17:40:31.

Contest Author Interview – Cindy Hogan

(NOTE: If you haven’t yet heard about the contest I’m running through September 24th, go here to see the entry details, as well as the 50+ different prizes, and please think about entering. After all, there’s no limit on number of entries and there are many ways to enter. If you’ve already entered, remember that leaving a comment about this interview earns you yet another entry!)

I’ll have to admit up front that this was my toughest interview. Why? Because Cindy doesn’t have anything about herself on her blog. Either she’s old-fashioned and doesn’t believe in bragging . . . or . . . she’s just too busy. Personally, I think it’s more the latter, topped off with a touch of humility. Anyway, I had to research other interviews to even get an idea of what makes this terrific indie writer tick. She’s definitely into suspense and, as you know, I LOVE suspense! (Why do you think I have a whole article about it in my menu?) Let’s stop the suspense for now and get to know her a little better, shall we?

Me:  You and I have something in common besides writing. As children, we both wanted to be archaeologists. I had to pick up a lot of dried sheep droppings before I found something of value on a tel outside Baghdad. How about you? Did you ever find anything ancient? And has your interest in history carried over into your writing?

Cindy:  I used to dig in my parents’ back yard and found a ton of stuff buried under the old pine trees: bottle caps, bottles, keys, unknown metal objects, bags that used to have the family pet in them (not ours, luckily) and bottle openers. Once I even found some money. I cherished all my treasures and made up stories about the people that lost them. I did find some animal bones a couple of times, but never found out what animal they came from. The hunt for something more is all over in my writing. Discovery always plays a role. One day, I will be writing a suspense novel with archaeology in it for sure.

Me:  I get the idea you’ve traveled a lot. Tell us about your most favorite and least favorite vacations.

Cindy:  You might think I’d say my adventures to Europe, but actually, my favorite vacation ever was in the good old USA. My hubby and I stayed in Tuscon at the Sheraton Conquistador resort. (Me: Nice!) It was more than amazing. I could walk straight out to the pool from our room and order whatever I liked poolside. I read and read and read.

(Heaven!!!)

The worst was a trip to New York. We planned to go for a day (My husband loves to do that), so we caught the red eye. Unfortunately, I can’t sleep on planes. My husband snores away. We went to a fun café, T-bones, for breakfast and then explored the city. I was so tired and beat by the time we flew home that I got totally sick on the plane and barfed all over in the bathroom. That was the worst.

(I can only imagine. Three days in NYC wore me out.)

Me:  You’ve lived in the southeast and the northwest. What are the biggest differences between the two areas, and where do you tend to set your stories?

Cindy:  The south is muggy and hot and outdoor activities are brutal. In the summer it’s too hot and in the winter it’s too cold. It’s a cold and a heat that goes right through you. Not my favorite place because I love the outdoors. There are too many awful bugs there, too.

I loved Oregon but in the end, I need four seasons and Utah is the place for that.

A novel I’m working on right now is set in the south and the first book in my new series is set in Oregon. The second book in this new series is set right here in Utah. I also have plans for one in New York and one in Germany. So many stories to tell and so little time.

(I knew she had the travel bug! Even in fiction. Here’s a look at the first in her “Watched” series, which is being offered as a prize for my contest:)

Me:  What would be the top three books on your Suspense list (besides your own)?

Cindy:  Crud. I hate this question. (Me: Oops, sorry.) I read so many books, it’s hard to pick favorites. I did just listen to THE REMBRANDT AFFAIR by Daniel Silva and really liked that.

(Hmm. I’ll have to check that out.)

Me:  Is your life as fast-paced as your fiction and why or why not?

Cindy:  This past year has been a whirlwind for sure. I’ve always had my hands in multiple things at one time. I don’t slow down often, but sometimes I have to. I like to be busy. I start my day at five and end it around eleven. There’s no time for TV or playing around these days. I’m either writing, reading, or critiquing.

Me:  Please describe your writing space (and provide a picture, if possible).

Cindy:  My writing space is perfect for me. I’m surrounded by windows so there’s no chance of claustrophobia setting in.

(We got lucky. She provided two pictures. The first, I suppose, as her desk looks before she sits down, and the second after she’s turned on her computer. Am I the only one curious about what is in that glass dish to the right of the monitor? It looks like bags of something.)

Me:  What exactly is in your big writing bag and why does your husband hate it? (I’d love a picture of that, too.)

Cindy:  Everything is in my writing bag. You’d be surprised at what I can stuff in there. Feel privileged, not everyone gets a sneak peek. :D 

My husband hates it because it is so darn huge.

Chapstick, pens, pencils, notebooks, loose paper, stapler, tissues, meds, gum, laptop, Nook, ward calling list, 2 calendar books, newsletter sign-up, sunglasses, lotion, sanitizer, bookmarks, sunscreen, iPod, headphones, digital recorder, jump drives, band-aids, mirror, glue stick, sticky notes, cell phone, keys, wallet, pictures, folders, and other miscellaneous spy items that if I disclosed would put us all in danger.

(Okay, then. But glue stick, really?)

Me:  Finally, what are the most important characteristics for writers who want to be successful going the indie route like you?

Cindy:  Hard-working, friendly, curious, and flexible.

And there you have it. The keys to success in indie publishing.

(I should have asked her what kind of daily exercise regimen she goes through to keep strong enough to carry around that bag. No wonder she got sick in NYC! Can you imagine what the TSA people thought of that bag when they screened it at the airport?)

Originally posted 2012-09-12 06:00:28.

The Suspense of “Moleskine Mondays”

Present word count of WIP:  59,112

Whether you’re writing suspense, romance, fantasy, or science fiction, or simply in need of a handy sketchbook, nothing beats a Moleskine notebook for jotting down ideas and sketching on the go.

Where did these notebooks originate? According to Wikipedia, these kinds of notebooks were standard in 19th and 20th century Europe and used by such writers and artists as Oscar Wilde, Vincent Van Gogh, Pablo Picasso, Ernest Hemingway, and Henri Matisse.

Today’s Moleskine notebook is designed to look like those used by the English novelist and travel writer, Bruce Chatwin. In fact, he gave the books their nickname in The Songlines. His original supplier, a stationery store owner in Paris, told him in 1986 that the last notebook manufacturer, a small family-owned establishment in Tours, France, had gone out of business. He said, “Le vrai Moleskine n’est plus” (“The real Moleskine is no more”). He quickly bought up the remaining stock.

So if they died out, how is it that we have them today? Apparently, the Italians came to the rescue in 1997 (long after I left Milan). Two years later, they started distributing beyond Italy in Europe and the U.S., eventually expanding into Asia.

Anyway, they eventually got bought out, appropriately enough, by a French investment fund, though the items continue to be designed in Italy. Today, Moleskine products range from notebooks to bags, computer cases, reading glasses, pens and pencils, booklights, and reading stands. They are available in more than 53 countries and usually found in bookshops.

So what do I mean by “Moleskine Mondays?”

Every Monday, I’m going to try and blog about things having to do with the business of writing. I chose “MOLESKINE” as an acronym to summarize those things:

1. Media – things like…

  • moleskin notebooks, PCs, iMacs, iPads, Typewriters, Netbooks, Laptops, pens, etc.

2. Organization – things like..

  • office layouts, outlining methods, filing methods, planners, etc.

3. Libraries – I love personal libraries, so this will include..

  • cool ideas for personal home libraries (with pictures) and how best to organize them.

4. E-readers – you guessed it…

  • reviews (pros and cons) about each kind of e-reader as well as news of developments in the digital age.

5. Software – this means…

  • reviews (pros and cons) about the different software writing programs available on the market and their prices.

6. Knowledge – this will cover…

  • the best resources for research information and/or training for writers, whether it’s a website, a book, or a writing conference.

7. IPad Apps – naturally, these posts…

  • will review the different apps a writer might find useful and why or why not they work.

8. Networking – I’ll discuss…

  • the various social networking possibilities online, as well as how best to build relationships with agents, publishers, bookstores, book clubs, online reviewers, schools, and libraries (I’ll be wanting a lot of input here since so many of you know so much more than I do).

9. Events – you know, ideas for all those writer events like…

  • book signings, book club appearances, book launches, school appearances, conference presentations, etc.

How cool is it that my favorite number happens to be 9 and there are exactly 9 letters in MOLESKINE? Believe me, I’m going to welcome a ton of input and shared experience each Monday. Though I’ll try to post in order by letter, you won’t know the exact topic until you read it. That’s where the suspense comes in. I’ve just covered Media with this post about Moleskine notebooks, so next Monday it will be something about Organization.

What do you think about “Moleskine Mondays?” Did I leave anything out about the business of writing and, if so, can it still fit somewhere in my acronym?

Originally posted 2012-06-25 16:40:44.

“Monday Mystery” – 3 Romantic Suspense Novels, All for only $.99

TTT Too Deep 3-D cover

I try not to toot my own horn too much, but today my book, THE RECKONING, is available in ebook form in a box set, which also includes Christy Barritt’s HOME BEFORE DARK and Julie Coulter Bellon’s ALL FALL DOWN. Titled TOO DEEP, the set features suspense novels with a touch of romance. And the whole set is on sale beginning today for only 99 cents!

Here’s a peek at each story:

HOME BEFORE DARK by Christy Barritt

Home Before DarkSynopsis

Nothing good ever happens after dark. Those were the words country singer Daleigh McDermott’s father always repeated. Now her father is dead, and Daleigh fears she’s returned home too late to make things right. As she’s about to flee back to Nashville, she finds a hidden journal belonging to her father. His words hint that his death was no accident. Small town mechanic Ryan Shields is the only one who seems to believe that Daleigh may be on to something. Her father trusted the man, but Daleigh’s instant attraction to Ryan scares her. She knows her life and career, however dwindling it might be, are back in Nashville and that her time in the sleepy North Carolina town is only temporary. As Daleigh and Ryan work to unravel the mystery, it becomes obvious that someone wants them dead. They must rely on each other—and on God—if they hope to make it home before the darkness swallows them whole.

Christy Barritt

Bio

Christy Barritt is an author, freelance writer and speaker who lives in Virginia. She’s married to her Prince Charming, a man who thinks she’s hilarious–but only when she’s not trying to be. Christy’s a self-proclaimed klutz, an avid music lover who’s known for spontaneously bursting into song, and a road trip aficionado. She’s only won one contest in her life–and her prize was kissing a pig (okay, okay… actually she did win the Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Suspense and Mystery for her book Suspicious Minds also). You can find out more about her work here.

ALL FALL DOWN by Julie Coulter Bellon

All Fall Down

Synopsis

Ring around the rosy, a pocket full of posies, ashes, ashes we all fall down… That simple rhyme turns negotiator Claire Michaels’ current hostage situation into an international incident. As the crisis escalates, Claire realizes she’s dealing with an al-Qaeda operative with the potential to attack America. Can she overcome her scars of the past in order to get the hostage out alive and possibly stop an assault on U.S. national security? Navy SEAL Rafe Kelly is on leave to recover from a knee injury he suffered during his tour in Afghanistan and he doesn’t expect to be fighting terrorists on his home turf. But when he is taken hostage and his brother is kidnapped, Rafe teams up with a hostage negotiator in order to stay alive and get his brother back. The situation quickly turns from desperate to deadly. Will Rafe be able to save himself and his country without anyone he loves getting caught in the crossfire?

Julie Coulter Bellon

Bio

Julie is married with eight children and ten published books. She loves to travel and her favorite cities she’s visited so far are probably Athens, Paris, Ottawa, and London. She would love to visit Hawaii, Australia, Ireland, and Scotland someday. She loves to read, write, teach, watch Castle, Hawaii Five-O, and eat Canadian chocolate. Not necessarily in that order. Her website can be found here.

THE RECKONING by Tanya Parker Mills

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Synopsis

Journalist Theresa Fuller has epilepsy, but this hasn’t slowed her search for stories of injustice to broadcast to the world. When she and her cameraman, Peter Cranston, are captured inside Iraq, she is cut off from her medication. Seizures resume, and dreams and visions of her American childhood in Baghdad begin to trouble her. Tormented by the relentless Colonel Badr, she is forced to focus on her own father’s death years before in a Baghdad prison. The strain of her own captivity is relieved only by her growing attraction to Tariq al-Awali, the Iraqi captain who took charge of her capture. The more she learns of him and his family, the clearer her haunting dreams become, and the more puzzling her past. Before American bombs begin to fall, and all of Iraq is thrown into even darker chaos, Theresa must find a way to escape the cruelty of Colonel Badr, and save those she cares for most.

(I don’t think you need my author photo and bio here. It would be redundant. But do check out my book trailer in the side menu. :D)

If you can spare a dollar for three great, exciting reads, here’s the link to order the set on Kindle. It would also be a terrific Christmas gift for your friends who are into suspense. If you wait too long, the price will go up.

Originally posted 2014-11-10 10:49:07.