New Release Mondays: Adrift by Micki Browning

Author Name: Micki Browning

Book Title: Adrift

Book Genre: Mystery & Suspense

Release Date: January 10, 2017

Synopsis: Marine scientist Meredith Cavallo thought adjusting to a laid-back life in the Florida Keys would be a breeze after life in the Arctic, but when a ghost-hunting documentary leader vanishes during a midnight dive, she’s caught in a storm of supernatural intrigue.

Determined to debunk paranormal explanations and salvage her reputation, Mer launches her own investigation. When someone tries to kill her, she knows the truth is about to surface. Maybe dead men do tell tales.

Excerpt: Mer fought to keep the unconscious diver on the surface, and they bobbed in the water just beyond the back of the LunaSea. She’d get only one chance to get him on the boat without injury.

She imagined carrying him like a sleepy child, his arms draped over her shoulders. Only she had to grab the ladder, find her footing and wedge her leg between his, or the force of the rocking boat would slam them back into the ocean.

“Here it comes, Cavallo,” Leroy, the captain, said. “Get ready.”

Mer inhaled and felt the power of the water swell beneath her. As the wave ebbed, she swam toward the boat, planted her foot, and drew her arms in to pin the diver against the ladder. Another wave hit, raising the LunaSea’s stern into the air. Gravity pulled at Mer, doing its best to drag her back into the sea. She gripped the ladder. Her biceps strained until Leroy seized the diver under the armpits and hauled him onto the deck like a gaffed fish.

Before Mer could readjust, the swim step plummeted and hit the water with a teeth-jarring thud. She held tight as the boat righted itself, and then clambered up the ladder.

Emergency equipment littered the deck like flotsam. Mer dropped her gear on the bench.

Leroy leaned over the now conscious diver. His tense face made Mer’s pulse race.

The diver clawed at the oxygen mask on his face. “Tell her!”

Mer brushed the man’s hand aside and resettled the mask. “Tell me what?” she asked her captain.

“He says he was diving the Spiegel Grove shipwreck.”

“Impossible,” she said. “We’re five miles away, and the current’s going in the wrong direction.”

“That he was diving the Spiegel and there was a—” Leroy struggled to find the right word. “Presence.”

“A presence? You mean like a ghost? Please.” She pursed her lips.

He shook his head. “I know. Except just after you went in the Sea Dragon radioed they’re missing a diver off the Spiegel.” He nodded toward the diver. “This one.”

About the author: Award-winning author Micki Browning worked in municipal law enforcement for over two decades and is an FBI National Academy graduate. She retired as a division commander – wonderful fodder for her current career as a full-time writer.

Her mystery, Adrift, set in the Florida Keys, won the 2015 Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence and the Royal Palm Literary Award for best unpublished mystery and unpublished book of the year.

Micki resides in Southern Florida with her partner in crime and a vast array of scuba equipment. She’s currently working on Beached, the second Mer Cavallo Mystery. Learn more at www.MickiBrowning.com.

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Before They Were Authors: Dawn Barclay

I was introduced to Dawn Barclay through  Mystery Thriller Week, an initiative to support authors by promoting their books.

Dawn’s debut novel, written under the pseudonym of D.M. Barr, is Expired Listings. Before we find out what Dawn did before becoming an author, here’s a bit about her book:

Someone is ‘deactivating’ the Realtors in Rock Canyon and almost no one seems to care. Not the surviving brokers, who consider the serial killings a competitive boon. Not the town’s residents, who see the murders as a public service. In fact, the only person who’s even somewhat alarmed is Dana Black, a kinky, sharp-witted yet emotionally skittish Realtor who has no alibi for the crimes because during each, she was using her empty listings for games like Bondage Bingo with her sadistic lover, Dare. And yet, mysteriously, all clues are pointing her way.

Judy: What was the best job (besides being a writer) that you ever had, and how has it influenced your writing?

Dawn: All of my previous jobs involved communications and sales & marketing which is probably why I enjoy promoting my book as much as writing it. I loved working as a reporter and editor at Travel Agent Magazine because I was around erudite people, but since that involved writing, I’ll skip that. I loved working in Sales, Marketing and Public Relations for Barclay International Group (short-term apartments and villas around the world) because I grew the company from nothing to a major player during its time, and I also got to host press trips with amazing people who went on to write articles about the company in Vogue, Good Housekeeping, Diversion, etc.

Judy: What was the funniest thing that ever happened to you at work?

Dawn: The one time I let down my hair on a press trip (I was working as a travel writer), I stayed out late and drank and had a great time. When the reporter from a major NY paper filed *his* story, I discovered he had alluded to my entire night of semi-debauchery for all the world to read.

Judy: What made you decide to become a writer?

Dawn: I LOVE being read. It’s probably why I spent years writing for magazines at minimum wage. I remember back in the fifth grade, I had read Harriet the Spy (one of my favorite books!) and everyone was writing slam books where we wrote down what we really felt about other people. Someone stole mine and I grabbed it back and ripped it up…and then helped them piece it back together so they could read what I had written!

Judy: Tell us a bit about yourself and where we can find out more about you.

Dawn: My background includes stints in corporate communications, marketing, travel journalism, meeting planning, public relations and real estate. I was, for a long and happy time, an award-winning magazine writer and editor. Then kids happened. Now they’re off doing whatever it is they do (who knows, they won’t friend me on Facebook) and I can spend my spare time weaving tales of debauchery and whatever else tickles my fancy. My first novel, Expired Listings, can be found at http://www.expiredlistingsnovel.com.

New Release Mondays: A Fatal Twist by Tracy Weber

Author Name: Tracy Weber

Book Title: A Fatal Twist

Book Genre: Cozy Mystery

Release Date: January 8, 2017

Synopsis: Yoga instructor Kate Davidson’s life takes a chaotic turn when she agrees to be the doula for her pregnant best friend and foster two puppies. The chaos worsens when Kate finds the dead body of a philandering fertility doctor and Rachel, one of her yoga students, fleeing the scene. Kate is convinced her student is innocent, and she sets out to find the real killer before her testimony condemns Rachel to a life behind bars.

Excerpt: I peeked down the hall, toward the sound. Four doors away, a fiftyish man in a white doctor’s coat leaned over a woman wearing a black cocktail dress and red stilettos. The female, a mid-thirties Hispanic woman with heavily lined, deep cocoa eyes, gave him a sultry pout.

“If not here, where? I’ve been waiting in that hotel room for hours.” She nuzzled his neck. Her right hand lay flat against his chest. Her left explored significantly further south.

The man’s voice turned low and throaty. “You’re killing me.” He reluctantly pushed her away, exposing designer glasses, a handsome face, and perfectly tousled, George Clooney-like hair. “I told you I’d call as soon as I could leave, and I will. But we can’t be seen like this. Not here. Especially not now.”

She ran a burgundy fingernail down the center of his sternum. “So what if someone sees us? I’m tired of sneaking around. It’s time for you to get a divorce. Past time.”

The man flashed a conciliatory smile. “Patience, Mariella. Patience. I told you. As soon as the lawsuit is settled, I’ll leave her.”

She grabbed his lapels and pulled him closer. “In case you haven’t noticed, patience isn’t my strong suit.”

This time, he didn’t resist her. Their show zoomed right past PG on the fast track to R.

And they were blocking my way back to Rhonda’s birthing suite.

Fabulous.

What was I supposed to do now? I considered tiptoeing past the two lovers, hoping they wouldn’t notice me. I considered announcing myself loudly, in hopes that they’d scurry away. I even considered spraying them both with the nearest fire extinguisher, in an attempt to cool them down before the building ignited.

Their show was that hot.

About the author: Tracy Weber is the author of the award-winning Downward Dog Mysteries series. The first book in the series, Murder Strikes a Pose, won the Maxwell Award for Fiction and was nominated for the Agatha award for Best First Novel. She loves sharing her passion for yoga and animals in any way possible. Tracy and her husband Marc live in Seattle with their crazy German shepherd pup, Ana. When she’s not writing, Tracy spends her time teaching yoga, trying to corral Ana, and sipping Blackthorn cider at her favorite ale house.

For more information on Tracy, visit her author website

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New Year’s Resolutions

I’m not a huge believe in New Year’s Resolutions, mostly because I think if you want to do something, you should do it or plan to do it NOW and not on January 1st. That said, I do set annual goals, b0th personally and professionally, which I suppose is pretty much the same thing. Here, in no particular order, are some of my professional goals:

2017 Goodreads Reading Challenge: I’ve committed to read 48 books, or 4 per month. It’s ambitious, but not unrealistic, and Goodreads keeps track of my progress. You might wonder why this is a professional goal, but reading really is the best teacher.

Short Stories: In 2016, I completed two short stories and started a few others. The completed stories were accepted in a blind judged competition through Sisters in Crime Toronto, and are included in a fine collection titled The Whole She-Bang 3. This year, I’m planning to write and complete four short stories. You might think writing short stories is easy, and I suppose for some people they are, but I find them incredibly challenging to write. Doubling my previous year’s output is ambitious for me.

Sequels: I’m hard at work on the sequels to The Hanged Man’s Noose and Skeletons in the Attic. It’s a challenge, working on two series at the same time, especially since the Glass Dolphin mysteries are written in third person, alternate POVs, and the Marketville mysteries are written in first person. But what a wonderful problem to have.

Conferences: Malice Domestic in Bethesda, Md. (Washington, DC) at the end of April and Bouchercon in Toronto in October. The Canadian dollar is really weak right now (about .75 US) so Malice was a real debate for me, but something inside me said “you must go.” As for Bouchercon, I’m on the volunteer committee, which is a wonderful experience in itself. My current task is gatekeeper/coordinator for the Passport to Murder anthology.

School: I’m a graduate of Gotham Writing School’s Fiction Writing Program. This year, I’m planning to take their introductory course in writing scripts. This is a bit of a dabble approach to see which, if any of the disciplines, is something I’d like to try more seriously. I haven’t decided WHEN this year, but it’s on the docket.

Audiobooks: Skeletons in the Attic will be release in audiobook format in 2017, date TBD. I’m hoping to get a contract for The Hanged Man’s Noose with the same publisher. Cross your fingers and toes! 

Novella: I have an idea percolating for a novella comedic mystery series. Not sure how far I’ll get with this, but I’m jotting down notes now.

Support Other Authors: One of the best things about being an author is that it gives me a voice to support other authors. I already have New Release Mondays assigned out through March, as well as several author interviews on alternate Fridays. I hope you enjoy these, and that you find new great reads as a result. Authors supporting authors. It doesn’t get better than that.

Newsletters: I don’t have a schedule for these, but I do send out three or four a year, if I have news to report. If you haven’t signed up, you can do so here. Note: if you have signed up to receive my blog by email, that doesn’t mean you have signed up for my newsletter. Anti-spam legislation requires separate sign ups.  I NEVER sell/give out  your email address.

Will I achieve every goal? Maybe, maybe not, but I do know that without goal setting, I would have never taken that first creative writing class, written that first short story, or taken a leap of faith and left my corporate day job to become a successful freelance writer and editor, and eventually, an Amazon International bestselling author. The sky, as someone once said, is the limit. Believe you can and you’re halfway there.

Happy New Year!

Judy

 

New Release Mondays: The Inheritance by Jacqueline Seewald

Author Name: Jacqueline Seewald

Book Title: The Inheritance

Book Genre: Romantic Mystery

Release Date: December 1, 2016

Synopsis: Jennifer Stoddard, a thirty-five-year-old widow with an eight-year-old son, receives a surprising letter which will change her life. Jennifer’s grandmother has passed away and named Jen as sole heir to her estate. To claim her inheritance she must return to Bloomingvale, the town in the Midwest where she grew up. Jen is informed by her grandmother’s attorney that to inherit she must meet the condition of living in her grandmother’s house for two years. Since the estate is substantial, she agrees. However, there are those who will stop at nothing to make certain that Jennifer does not inherit.

Jennifer is forced to call on old flame Police Chief Grant Coleman for help and protection.

Excerpt: Late that afternoon as Jen left the house and started to drive away, a strange sound whizzed across the open front car windows from the driver’s side through the passenger side. She was startled by the sound. Her heart began to pound. Jen glanced over at the thicket of overgrown shrubs and trees to the side of the grounds that led back into woodlands. Had the sound been a bullet? If so, it had nearly hit her. Her hands shook on the driver’s wheel as she took off at high speed.

One block away she heard the police siren and saw the flashing lights. She groaned. Not again! He signaled with his hand, pointing his index finger for her to pull over. It was all she could do not to burst into tears.

Grant Coleman approached the car like a gunfighter in a spaghetti western. “I thought you learned something the first time,” he said. “Guess I was wrong. License and registration.” He held out his hand with a bored, impatient gesture.

“I have a very good reason for speeding.”

The smile was more of a smirk. The man was infuriating! “I’ve heard them all, but you can try.”

“As I left my grandmother’s house, a bullet passed through my car. I had the windows rolled down. So they weren’t broken, but it just missed hitting me.”

He stared at her. “Maybe it was a kid with a Beebe gun. Are you certain it was a bullet breezing by you? How familiar are you with weapons?”

“Not familiar at all, but I know what I heard.” Jen swallowed hard. “I think someone might have intended to shoot me.”

He let out a loud laugh. “In Bloomingvale? I doubt that very much.”

“So you’re not taking this seriously?” She folded her arms over her chest.

“Admit it. You’re just looking for an excuse to keep me from writing you another ticket.” His intense gray eyes bore into her like the steel blade of a dagger.

Jen raised her chin and stiffened her spine. “You are so wrong. Why don’t you check the area near the house, just to see if you can find anything.”

“Waste of time.” He leaned toward her and she felt his breath on her cheek which caused her to shiver. “Tell you what I will do though. I won’t write you a ticket this time because that’s the most creative excuse I’ve ever heard.”

“So glad I managed to amuse you,” she said.

Jen watched him drive off. He was probably still laughing, the sexy jerk. Several people had come out of their houses and were staring at her. Jen managed to restart her car and drove off before others gathered. She certainly didn’t want to make a spectacle of herself. Letting out a shaky breath, Jen wasn’t certain now if she’d really heard what she thought she had. A professional law enforcement officer didn’t think anything of it. She supposed it might have been nothing at all. Maybe it was a child with a Beebe gun as he suggested. But try as hard as she might, Jen couldn’t convince herself.

About the author: Multiple award-winning author, Jacqueline Seewald, has taught creative, expository and technical writing at Rutgers University as well as high school English. She also worked as both an academic librarian and an educational media specialist. Seventeen of her books of fiction have been published to critical praise including books for adults, teens and children. THE INHERITANCE, a romantic mystery, is her latest novel. Her short stories, poems, essays, reviews and articles have appeared in hundreds of diverse publications and numerous anthologies such as: THE WRITER, L.A. TIMES, READER’S DIGEST, PEDESTAL, SHERLOCK HOLMES MYSTERY MAGAZINE, OVER MY DEAD BODY!, GUMSHOE REVIEW, THE MYSTERY MEGAPACK, LIBRARY JOURNAL, PUBLISHERS WEEKLY and THE CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR. She’s also an amateur landscape artist and enjoys listening to blue grass music. She loves hearing from readers. Her writer’s blog can be found at: http://jacquelineseewald.blogspot.com

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Happy New Year

My Goodreads: 2016

Thanks to Goodreads, and the Goodreads Reading Challenge,  I’m able to keep track of the books I’ve read in 2016. Knowing I’d have a busy year of writing, my goal was to read 36 books, an average of three books a month. By the time I ring in the New Year, I should be at 40, and so in 2017, I’m going to up my “want to read” quota to 48 books, or four books per month. I love a challenge, and reading truly is the best teacher. It’s also an inexpensive getaway to another place and time.

While many of the books I read this year were terrific and earned a 5 star rating, I thought I’d share (in author alphabetical order) five of my favorites. If you’re interested, you can see all the books I’ve read here, along with my posted reviews/ratings.

The Widow by Fiona Barton

Neshoto Junction Homicide by Gail Baugniet

A Season for Killing Blondes by Joanne Guidoccio

I Let You Go by Clare Mckintosh

Red Line by Brian Thiem

Wishing you a 2017 filled with great books! 

After Christmas Sale! The Hanged Man’s Noose

December 26th through January 15th. Save 33% off any e-book version of The Hanged Man’s Noose on Amazon, Kobo, B&N, GooglePlay and iTunes, or buy directly from the publisher using the coupon code. You can also save 33% of the print version (publisher only). Click on the image to be directed to the Barking Rain website.