New Release Mondays: A Promise to Kill by Erik Storey

Author Name: Erik Storey

Book Title: A Promise to Kill

Book Genre: Thriller

Release Date: August 15th, 2017

Synopsis: Clyde Barr, the drifter with lethal skills, is wandering and runs across an elderly sick man—a Ute Indian from a nearby reservation—Clyde’s dream of solitude is quickly dashed.

In the remote Utah desert, surrounded by enemies, with no law enforcement presence, and with communication effectively cut off, Clyde must find a way to save his new friends, defeat a biker gang, and, hopefully, escape with his own skin.

Excerpt: I smiled, found a baseball-size rock, and stuffed it in the sock. I stood and took my improvised blackjack with me as I worked through the brush toward Jury. Of course, what I was about to do might have been easier if I’d held on to my pistol, but I’d left it in the ranch truck, which was now burned to a crisp. And besides, firing a shot would have alerted the other Reapers.

Placing my feet ever so carefully, I felt a little bit like David with his slingshot about to take on Goliath.

At that moment Jury was standing by the back of the semi’s trailer, his tattooed arms folded, staring at the moon. He was wearing only his vest and jeans. A soft, warm breeze rustled his goatee, and he somehow looked even bigger in the gray light.

Seeds and pollen from the sagebrush fell like snow as I worked my way closer, covering my shirt and hat brim. I wiped some stray ones from my face and focused on the muscular man twenty feet in front of me. He was still staring up, grumbling something to himself, and I moved from the brush to the wide-open spot where the truck was parked.

I gingerly took two steps, being careful to put my foot down softly and feel for anything that would make noise. Three more steps and I’d be right behind him, where a well-swung sock would drop him. But sometimes luck isn’t on your side.

About the author: ERIK STOREY is a former ranch hand, wilderness guide, dogsled musher, and hunter. He spent his childhood summers on his great-grandfather’s homestead or in a remote cabin in Colorado’s Flat Tops wilderness. He has earned a number of sharpshooter and marksman qualifications. He and his family live in Grand Junction, Colorado. He can be found online at erikstoreybooks.com.

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Interview With An Author: Karen Randau

Some authors are still doing their “before” jobs…Karen Randau is one of them. She works full-time as a content marketer for an international humanitarian aid organization that helps people in developing countries to pull themselves out of poverty.

Her Rim Country Mysteries series currently has three novels published by Short On Time Books: DEADLY DECEIT (2016), about a woman whose husband was one of fourteen people killed in a movie theater shooting; DEADLY INHERITANCE (2017), about the same women who has remarried and gets locked in a Viking burial cave with a lit stick of dynamite while honeymooning in Scotland; and DEADLY CHOICES (2017), about the same woman finding the mother she hasn’t seen in twenty-five years only to discover she holds a devastating secret.

When she’s not working or writing, Karen enjoys spending time with her grown children, playing with her dog, and hiking with her husband.

Judy: Tell us a bit about your protagonist, Rita Avery.

Karen: Rita Avery is a middle-aged woman who has seen her share of heartache. In Karen Randau’s debut novel in the Rim Country Mysteries series, DEADLY DECEIT, Rita is a shallow person who is most concerned with how she looks and what her neighbors think of her. That changes when she’s celebrating her 30th anniversary with her Marine husband. As the lights go down in a movie theater, a gunman shoots Rita’s husband in the face. He’s one of fourteen people murdered that day. In DEADLY INHERITANCE, Rita has found love again and honeymoons in Scotland. By DEADLY CHOICES, Rita has decided to reconcile with the vegetarian hippie mother she hasn’t seen in twenty-five years. That visit forces Rita to face the tumultuous childhood she fled when she married at age eighteen. She has learned to defend herself, stand up for herself, and trust her instincts. She has transformed from shallow to a deep thinker who cares more about the positive impact she can have in the lives of others than she cares about designer clothes.

Judy: What or who inspired you to become a writer?

Karen: Writing has always been an important part of my life, debuting in elementary school when my teacher taught me to print Run Spot Run. I processed most of my major life events by writing about them. English was my favorite subject in school, and I have a degree in journalism. A coworker inspired me to write novels when I described disturbing thoughts I’d been having. I asked if she thought I’d lost my mind, and she said she thought I had a novel begging to get out of me. She was right. Novel writing has given me an outlet for creativity I’ve locked up inside myself my entire life.

Judy: Describe your writing process and/or a typical day in your life. 

Karen: I’ve never been good at outlining, but I’ve learned to force myself to do it because it provides a roadmap that keeps me from wandering aimlessly all over the place when telling my story. I now write an outline for the whole book, and then use most of it up in Act 1.Then, I outline from turning point to turning point. I need silence when I write. I lock myself up in my home office and get lost in my work. Sometimes, an entire day will have passed before I realize it. On the rare occasions when I write to music, I want it to be something inspiring that sweeps me up into the melody and the lyrics – providing inspiration for a scene I’m writing.

Judy: What advice and/or resources would you recommend for aspiring writers?

Karen: Writing what you know about can include a lot more than you might think. Everything that has happened to you in your life provides fodder for character development and sensory details that bring a book alive. If you’re in a critique group, consider their input as nothing but opinion. If more than one person finds the same issue with your writing, then it’s time to take it seriously. Most important, most authors find that writing is a way to feed and nurture themselves. Don’t let that go. Write what you enjoy, and don’t take on so many projects as once that you’re too stressed to have fun.

Judy: What’s next?

Karen: I’m currently working on the fourth novel in the Rim Country Mysteries series, DEADLY PAYLOAD, with a tentative publication date of early 2018. In it, Rita teams up with a homeless veteran who the town’s people call Crazy Mary. Together, Rita and Mary unravel the mystery of why so many birds are dropping out of the skys, and then why many of the town’s residents have become critically ill, including Rita’s husband, Cliff.

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New Release Mondays: Starting Over by Sheri S. Levy

It is my great pleasure to present fellow Barking Rain Press author Sheri S. Levy’s excellent sequel to SEVEN DAYS TO GOODBYE.

Author: Sheri S Levy

Book Title: Starting Over

Book Genre: Young Adult

Release Date: August 1st, 2017

Synopsis: Trina Ryan’s challenging summer starts off with a puppy fueled energy burst as she takes on another service dog for training—an eight-week-old Labrador named Colton. And to help explore another dream, she’s taken a job at the barn next door in exchange for riding lessons with the barn’s schooling horse. It doesn’t take long for Trina to butt heads with Morgan Hart, an award-winning rider with a gorgeous thoroughbred named Knight–and a demanding, nasty demeanor with both people and her horse.

Adding to the list of frustrations is the difficulty in maintaining a long-distance relationship with Chase, her boyfriend from last summer, while trying to deal with unwanted attention from a new boy in her puppy training class.

At least best friend Sarah still has her back, but Trina wearies of Morgan’s constant insults and her heartless treatment of Knight, she decides to use her dog training skills to look underneath Morgan’s hostile attitude and develop a sense of trust.

Slowly, Morgan’s angry shield cracks enough to where she’s able to share a troubling family secret. Can Trina help Morgan confront her family problems and make a fresh start?

Excerpt: Sarah squinted. “What’s that racket?”

“Sounds like a big diesel truck. Let’s get closer.”

I clasped my hands together. “Oh, I bet that’s the new boarder. I forgot she was coming today. Let’s go look.”

The truck slowed onto Mrs. Brown’s drive. Sarah’s forehead creased and she screamed over the noise. “Do you know how old she is?”

“Mrs. B said she’s in the ninth grade.” As the commotion lessened, I added,

“And, her mother bragged to Mrs. B about all of her winnings since she started

riding. Ooo! I can’t wait to see her ride. Maybe, she’ll even ride with me.”

The engine turned off and a tall, dark-skinned man leaped from the driver’s

side. At the same time, a long-legged, skinny girl in black riding pants and shiny

black boots stepped down from the front passenger door. The sun gleamed on

her brown face, poufy bangs, and ponytail. She waved her dressage whip in the

air as if it were a sword.

“Dad, what are you doing? Look! You’re too close to the fence. Pay attention!”

I turned a wide-eyed look at Sarah, whose mouth hung open. Without a

word, Sarah grabbed my arm and pulled me closer.

Her father opened the trailer’s top half doors and latched the panels to

each side. From the rear of the trailer, a stately, black horse kicked and neighed.

Standing on opposite sides of the trailer, the dad and the girl each pulled a

clip out of the lock and set the ramp on the ground.

After a frantic snort, he lurched forward.

She screamed at the horse. “Knight, walk! Get off the trailer!” Her whip

slapped at the air.

Holding my breath, I clutched Sarah’s arm.

The father rushed over and pulled the whip from the girl’s hands. “Morgan,

quiet down! You’re frightening Knight. Give him a chance.”

She jerked the lead line. “Knight, you stupid horse! You know better.”

“Oh my gawd!” My eyes widened, and I shook my head. “How could anyone

treat their horse like that?” I patted my chest. “And what’s she doing at my barn.”

About the author: Sheri Levy taught Special Ed for sixteen years and a Family Learning GED and Parenting class for nine years. After retiring, she began writing. Her first magazine article was published in The Clubhouse Magazine in 2011, and won an award in the DWAA Special Interest Category. This gave her the confidence to continue writing. Her first novel, SEVEN DAYS TO GOODBYE, won in the DWAA, Special Interest Category, 2015.

In addition to writing, Sheri volunteers with PAALS, learning about service dogs. She enjoys doing school visits and writing workshops. Her book proceeds go to PAALS. Find Sheri at www.sherislevy.com.

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New Release Mondays: Sleuthing Women II: 10 Mystery Novellas

Author Names: Lois Winston, Allison Brennan, Laura Griffin, Maggie Toussaint, Jonnie Jacobs, Heather Haven, Vinnie Hansen, Camille Minichino, Mary Kennedy, Judy Alter, Rita Lakin

Book Title: Sleuthing Women II: 10 Mystery Novellas

Book Genre: Mystery (women sleuths)

Release Date: September 5, 2017 (available for pre-order)

Synopsis:  Sleuthing Women II: 10 Mystery Novellas is a collection of ten mysteries featuring murder and assorted mayhem by ten critically acclaimed, award-winning, and bestselling authors. Each novella is a tie-in to an established multi-book series—a total of nearly 700 pages of reading pleasure for lovers of amateur sleuth, caper, cozy, and female P.I. mysteries.

Excerpts: 

Frosted, A Moreno & Hart Novella by Allison Brennan & Laura Griffin—Three years ago LAPD Detective Scarlet Moreno and rookie cop Krista Hart were nearly killed during a botched sting operation. Now, they’re best friends and partners in the Orange County private investigation firm of Moreno & Hart. But their routine assignments are anything but safe.

Crewel Intentions, An Anastasia Pollack Crafting Novella by Lois Winston—Craft editor Anastasia Pollack receives a desperate call for help from former fashion editor Erica Milano, now in Witness Protection. Erica is being stalked and is afraid to notify the authorities. She once saved Anastasia’s life. Will Anastasia be able to return the favor before the stalker strikes?

No Quarter, A Cleopatra Jones Novella by Maggie Toussaint—Amnesia, the doctor says when accountant Cleopatra Jones wakes in a distant hospital. Hours later most of her memory returns. Detective Jack Martinez visits Cleo’s nearby wealthy client, only she’s dead and broke. To Cleo’s horror, she’s a murder suspect. Will she totally recover her memory before the killer returns?

What the Widow Knew, A Kali-O’Brien Novella by Jonnie Jacobs—Attorney Kali O’Brien takes on the case of a young woman accused of murdering her much older, very rich husband. As evidence mounts and other possible suspects are eliminated, Kali’s doubts about her client’s innocence grow. Meanwhile, Kali is also grappling with her feelings for longtime boyfriend Detective Bryce Keating.

The Magnesium Murder, A Periodic Table Mystery by Camille Minichino—While freelance embalmer Anastasia Brent prepares the body of a young bride-to-be, she learns the girl’s mother suspects foul play. Once again Anastasia is pressed into service as a sleuth, following a trail of clues in search of a murderer and justice.

Honeymoons Can Be Murder, A Lee Alvarez Novella by Heather Haven— When PI Lee Alvarez goes on her honeymoon with bridegroom, Gurn Hanson, they find a dead woman practically on their doorstep. Kauai breezes may be soft, but there are gale force winds of accusation against Gurn. Will Lee find the real killer before her new hubby gets sent to a Hawaiian hoosegow?

Smoked Meat, A Carol Sabala Novella by Vinnie Hansen—Baker and wannabe sleuth Carol Sabala visits her mother for a family Christmas get-together. It’s murder, in more ways than one.

A Deadly Fundraiser, A Talk Radio Novella by Mary Kennedy—When radio talk show host Dr. Maggie Walsh and her pals start digging up clues in a scavenger hunt at a glitzy fundraiser, the game suddenly turns deadly. Will Maggie and her team be able to crack the case and solve the crime?

The Color of Fear, A Kelly O’Connell Novella by Judy Alter—Kelly receives a written kidnap threat targeting her infant daughter, Gracie. Kelly’s assistant Keisha narrates as Kelly and her family plot their precautions, but as time passes and the threat still looms, fear takes a toll on the family…and on Keisha.

Papa’s Ghost, A Gladdy Gold Mystery Novella by Rita Lakin—Gladdy and her girls accept an assignment iat a famous resort in Key West, thinking it will combine business with pleasure. Once they arrive, Gladdy suspects something is strange. Not only is their client an unexpected shock, but so is the case of murder they are expected to solve. Can they succeed when a whole city is against them?

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Poll: What Would You Ask a Reviewer?

Last week, I wrote about my Bouchercon 2017 Panel: Reviewers Recommend. Thanks to all who took the time to respond. I’ve created a poll with some of those suggestions. Please select the top 3 questions YOU would like answered. Poll closes on September 7 at noon EST. And if you can, please share this post on Twitter, Facebook, etc. Thanks!

New Release Mondays: Earthbound by Val Tobin

Author Name: Val Tobin

Book Title: Earthbound

Book Genre: Speculative Fiction

Release Date: April 17, 2017

Synopsis: A spirit refuses to cross over and becomes earthbound when she discovers the shocking details behind her death.

Excerpt: I moved to the machines monitoring my vitals, breathing for me, and pumping fluids into me. I touched the heart monitor.

It beeped.

“Oh, God. Oh, Daddy. Mom! The machine.”

The fear and despair in Silver’s voice forced me away. No time to experiment—not if it made them think there was a problem.

Rory leaned over my bed and put two fingers on my neck.

“Her pulse is steady. Maybe it’s a problem with the machine.”

My invisible touch had affected the heart monitor. I filed the information away for later.

Later. Hah.

Who knew what later would bring? When my body died, would I disappear? Or would that be when the famous tunnel appeared and my dead relatives came to collect me? Where the hell were they, anyway?

At the very least, my grandmother should have shown up to guide me through this. I’m certain I was her favourite—my sisters always told me so. I didn’t want to think about my sisters yet, though, so I pushed them out of my mind.

Another frantic cry from Silver yanked me out of my head. Any of the machines that could make noise were doing so, and my body flopped and twitched like a landed fish.

Richler shot into the room, other medical personnel right behind him. He rushed to the bed and yanked the blanket off me.

“Get these people out of here,” he snapped at a nurse, though she was already ushering my family out.

I can’t say why, but I followed them. The logical thing to do would have been to stay there to see if they succeeded in keeping me alive. But I was conditioned to listen to authority, and when he said get out, I left.

The last thing I heard was Richler shouting, “Clear!”

About the Author: Formerly a software/web developer, Val Tobin now spends her time writing. She is also a Reiki Master/Teacher and Angel Therapy Practitioner® with advanced training, certified by Doreen Virtue in Kona, Hawaii. Val contributed a story to Doreen Virtue and Grant Virtue’s book Angel Words, published by Hay House. She has written numerous novels and some short stories available on Amazon and at other retailers. In April 2016, Val received her master’s degree in parapsychology. Find out more about Val on her  website.

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Bouchercon 2017 #1: Reviewers Recommend

This post will be the first of several dedicated to Bouchercon 2017 Toronto, which will be held from October 12-15, with some special events starting on the 11th.

Although I now live about 90 minutes northwest of the city, I still consider Toronto my home patch, since I was born and raised there. So I’m pretty excited to be part of this massive celebration of all things mystery.

Today, however, I’m looking for your input. I’ve had the great fortune to be assigned a panel on Sunday, October 15th from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. It will be my first time as a moderator! and the topic is Reviewers Recommend, described as Reviewers Discuss their faves. Here’s the prestigious list of panelists:

Margaret Cannon (Toronto Globe and Mail)
Andrew Gulli (The Strand Magazine)
Erica Ruth Neubauer (Publishers Weekly, Crimespree)
Steve Steinbock (EQMM)

Marsali Taylor (mystery people and Mystery Readers)

Are you nervous for me yet??? Yeah, I thought so!

Now…pretend that you’re in the audience. What question do you want me to ask?

Ready…set…GO!

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New Release Mondays: The Church of the Holy Child by Patricia Hale

Author Name: Patricia Hale

Book Title: The Church of the Holy Child

Book Genre: Mystery/Suspense

Release Date: August 15, 2017

Synopsis: When a missing woman is found dead, her husband is charged, but when a second body appears showing the same wounds questions arise and what looked like a slam-dunk becomes anyone’s guess. The bodies are piling up, and one person knows where the killer is. Father Francis, a priest at The Church of the Holy Child, listens to the killer’s disturbed account of each murder and wrestles with the vows that bind him to secrecy.

Excerpt: His breath was warm on my neck, his lips hot and dry. His tongue searched the delicate skin below my ear. Heart quickening, back arching, I rose to meet him.

The phone on the nightstand vibrated.

“Shit,” Griff whispered, peeling away from me, our clammy skin reluctant to let go.  He swung his feet over the edge of the bed and flashed me his bad-boy, half-smile. “Cole,” he said into the phone.

At times like this, cell phones rate right alongside other necessary evils like cod liver oil and flu shots. I leaned against his back and caressed his stomach, damp dunes of sculpted muscle. Not bad for a guy north of forty. Griff still measured himself against the hotshots in the field. But in my book he had nothing to worry about; I’d take the stable, wise, worn-in model over a wet behind the ear, swagger every time.

He pried my fingers from his skin and walked toward the bathroom still grunting into the phone.

I slipped into my bathrobe and headed for the kitchen. I have my morning priorities and since the first one was interrupted by Griff’s phone, coffee comes in a close second.

Twenty minutes later he joined me dressed in his usual attire, jeans, boots, tee shirt and sport jacket. Coming up behind me, he nuzzled my neck as I poured Breakfast Blend into a travel mug. Coffee splashed onto the counter top.

“Gotta run,” he said taking the cup from my hand.

“What’s up?”

“Not sure yet. That was John. He said he could use a hand.”

“Sobering up?

Griff flinched like I’d landed one to his gut.

“Sorry,” I said. “Cheap shot.”

“Woman found dead early this morning.”

About the author: Patricia Hale received her MFA degree from Goddard College. Her essays have appeared in literary magazines and the anthology, My Heart’s First Steps. Her debut novel, In the Shadow of Revenge, was published in 2013. The Church of the Holy Child is the first book in her PI series featuring the team of Griff Cole and Britt Callahan. Patricia is a member of Sister’s in Crime, Mystery Writer’s of America, NH Writer’s Project and Maine Writer’s and Publisher’s Alliance. She lives in New Hampshire with her husband and two dogs. Find her at  www.patriciahale.org

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