New Release Mondays: Barn Shadows by Laura Wolfe

Author Name: Laura Wolfe

Book Title: Barn Shadows (Dark Horse, Book Two)

Book Genre: Young Adult Mystery

Release Date: March 14, 2017

Synopsis: A year after her tumultuous exit from the prestigious Foxwoode Riding Academy, Brynlei returns determined to win Foxwoode’s Top Rider Award. When she accidentally unearths an antique doll, a series of inexplicable occurrences force her to question whether her condition as a “Highly-Sensitive Person” is to blame or if something more sinister is at play. Could a decades-old tragedy and the dangerous happenings at Foxwoode be more closely entwined than she ever imagined?

Excerpt: A jolt of anxiety rushed through her as she held the doll, her chest heavy. She gulped back a feeling of overwhelming sadness. Who used to love this doll? How long had it been buried underground? Surely it had been special to someone. The abandoned toy seemed to have an energy all its own. Although it was silly, Brynlei felt as if she had saved it from something. If she hadn’t tripped on its hand, the forgotten doll might have been lost forever under the cement foundation of the new barn.

“Looks like an antique.” Brynlei brushed more dirt off of the dress, the fabric so thin in spots that she could almost see through it. Rebecca had a knack for finding discarded items at garage sales and later selling them on eBay for hundreds of dollars. This doll could be worth something, especially if she restored it.

“Dolls creep me out.” Anna took a step back. “Get that thing away from me.”

“How old do you think it is?” Brynlei ran her fingers over the molded hair. “1920s or ‘30s?”

“Dude. I have no idea, but she looks like she’s seen better days.”

The sound of laughter and chattering erupted from around the bend. Brynlei hid the doll between her arm and her body, darting to the safe side of the construction tape. She didn’t want to explain her rare find to anyone else. Anna bolted after her and they resumed their journey toward Cabin 5. They passed the wiry construction foreman and the heavy-set driver of the bulldozer who now sat on a bench eating egg sandwiches, nodding at the girls as they passed.

“Don’t tell me you’re keeping that thing,” Anna said when they were a safe distance away.

“I’m going to fix it up when I get home and sell it on eBay.” Brynlei squeezed the doll against her chest. “Rebecca makes money selling antiques all the time.”

“Okay. As long as you don’t sleep with it—that’s where I draw the line.”

Brynlei laughed. “Relax. I’m going to hide her in my suitcase. You’ll never see her again.”

 About the author: Laura Wolfe is a lover of animals and nature. When she is not writing, she can be found playing games with her highly-energetic kids, riding horses, or spoiling her rescue dog. She lives in Michigan with her husband, son, and daughter. Laura’s YA mystery, Trail of Secrets (Dark Horse, Book 1), was named as a Finalist in the 2016 Next Generation Indie Book Awards—First Novel category. Laura holds a BA in English from the University of Michigan and a JD from DePaul University. She is an active member of multiple writing groups, including Sisters in Crime, International Thriller Writers, and the SCBWI. For more information, please visit: www.AuthorLauraWolfe.com.

 

 

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Publication News!

I’m beyond excited to announce that the sequel to THE HANGED MAN’S NOOSE has been picked up by Barking Rain Press for publication in March 2018. If you’re wondering what that has to do with golf, here’s the first hint: the title is A HOLE IN ONE, and yes, the murder takes place on a golf course…more details closer to publication.

Those of you who know me personally (or have friended me on Facebook) know that I’m a passionate (if not particularly good) golfer. I wish I could say I was allowed to write off some of my golf games in the name of research, but alas, such was not the case. That said, I’ve played plenty of nasty par 3s that served as a template for the crime scene.

What happens now that the contract has been signed? That depends on the individual publisher. With Barking Rain, it means that I’ve had to break down the manuscript into 52 separate .rtf documents (one per chapter). The co-editors have been assigned (thank you Ti Locke and Anita Lock for taking this on) and our deadlines have been set for each stage of the editing process as we prepare for ARCs (Advance Reader Copies) by October 31st.

Stay tuned. The journey has just begun. FORE!

 

 

If you haven’t read THE HANGED MAN’S NOOSE, you can find it at all the usual suspects in trade paperback, Kindle, Kobo, and Nook. Read some of the reviews here. 

 

 

New Release Mondays: 50 Shades of Cabernet by Various Authors

Book Title: 50 Shades of Cabernet

Book Genre: A Mysterious Anthology

Release Date: March 20, 2017

Synopsis: Pour yourself a good mystery is the theme for this anthology of short stories, each blending a mystery and a glass or more of cabernet. When eighteen mystery writers combine their talents, the result is the perfect “flight” of stories that range from light-bodied puzzles to sparkling cozies and heavier tales of deceit and murder. While cabernet is the featured wine, this anthology will appeal to connoisseurs of all varietals–in both wine preference and mystery style.

Excerpt: From Love the Wine You’re With by Teresa Inge

“Get up, Em!” Jules Riley yelled at her sister passed out on the couch.

Em opened her eyes and rubbed her throbbing head. “What time is it?”

“Five o’ clock. You’ve been hungover all day.”

Em twisted her aching body into a vertical position. “How did you get in here anyway?”

“The door was unlocked… I’m serious, Em. You missed a big event today.” Jules was regretting hiring her sister to coordinate events for her event-planning business.

Em ran her hand through her long blonde hair.

Jules pushed a pair of stilettos, earrings, an empty bottle of cabernet and a Post-It note to the back of the couch and sat. She snatched the note, read it, then slapped it against Em’s arm.

Em grabbed the Post-It. “Jax broke up with me?”

“Yes, another boyfriend sick of your partying.”

Em slumped on the couch. “My life sucks! My boyfriend dumped me on a Post-It, and all I do is plan events that I don’t enjoy and book trips that I don’t take. Ugh!”

“That’s what we do. We plan events for our clients and not for us to party. Now listen up. You need to be at Virtually Yours by three o’clock tomorrow for the wine tasting.” Jules turned toward the door. “And clean this place up. It reeks of wine.”

About Teresa Inge: Teresa grew up reading Nancy Drew mysteries. Combining her love of reading mysteries and writing professional articles led to writing short fiction and a novel. Today, she doesn’t carry a rod like her idol but she loves hot rods. If she’s not signing books, she’s at a car show with her husband or serving as president of the Sisters in Crime, Mystery by the Sea chapter in Chesapeake, Virginia. Visit Teresa at www.teresainge.com

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Interview with an Author: Ronnie Allen

Ronnie Allen is a New York City native transported to rural central Florida nine years ago. She taught in the NYC school system for 33 years, with licensure as a school psychologist, and is also a holistic health practitioner specializing in alternative therapies. Ronnie uses her skills and education in her novels. Being a New Yorker, one of the things she misses are New York City restaurants. To compensate, Ronnie created a character in her first book, Gemini, who loves to cook and is professional chef caliber in her home kitchen as well as being the love interest for the protagonist, and now his wife. Vicki Trenton shares some of her recipes, becomes an interval part in solving the murder case in Scorpio, the third novel, and has her own subplot in Libra. Ronnie is the author of The Sign Behind the Crime Series, with Gemini book 1, and Aries as book 1 (Black Opal books, 2015, 2016). Scorpio is coming in September 2017 and Ronnie is writing Libra now.

 

Judy: Tell us a bit about your main character, Dr. John Trenton.

Ronnie: Dr. John Trenton is a forensic psychiatrist who works with the criminally insane at a hospital in Manhattan. Psychic and clairvoyant since he was a toddler, John uses his skills in profiling cases for the NYPD. He actually has the skills that I teach to my clients. Suave and sophisticated, Trenton was once known as New York City’s most eligible and desirable bachelors. That is until he met the woman he grew the worship, Victoria Elizabeth Marin. A female psychopathic killer is dumped in his lap, wrecks havoc in Manhattan, and goes after his wife and unborn child. He fights almost to his death to rescue his love. Trenton goes through his own personal transformation in Gemini re-evaluating his beliefs on what makes him a worthy man.

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

Ronnie: I definitely am a plotter who lets their characters run free once I start to type. I can plot a few months before I even start chapter 1. I could write anytime of the day, but I start on my iPad. When my chapter is a solid first draft, I will upload it to my main docx on my laptop. Very often I’ll write poolside, and I can block out people talking around me, children playing in the pool, but music throws me out of my writing and my deep POV. I do like to have a tall glass of iced coffee near me.

Judy: What’s the best writing advice you have ever read or been given? 

Ronnie: The best writing advice I have been given and that I give is to listen to your critique partners and beta readers if what they are telling you resonates with you. Take a good hard look at your manuscript if several people tell you the same thing, and that will include agent or editor rejections. My philosophy is why keep submitting the same manuscript that’s getting a lot of rejections without looking at it? People’s stubbornness will keep that manuscript from being traditionally published.

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

Ronnie: As a writer, I truly believe that Google is our friend. If you’re writing in our thriller and crime genre, the FBI and DEA websites are wonderful sources with articles, procedures, and other topics that we need to read for credibility in our novels. I’m very big on research, and believe that if you’re writing crime scene investigation, police procedures, medical themes, these facets have to be portrayed credibly. Readers who are experts in the field will call the author out.

 

Find Ronnie on her website, Facebook, Amazon, and Twitter

New Release Mondays: Run Dog Run by Kathleen Kaska

Author Name: Kathleen Kaska

Book Title: Run Dog Run

Book Genre: Mystery

Release Date: March 11, 2017

Synopsis: Animal rights activist Kate Caraway travels to Texas for a much-needed rest. Before she has a chance to unpack, her friend’s daughter pleads for Kate’s assistance. She has become entangled in the ugly world of greyhound abuse. On the case for only a few hours, Kate discovers a body, complicating the investigation by adding murder to the puzzle. Now, she’s in a race against time to fine the killer before she becomes the next victim.

Excerpt: The rocks along the bottom of the creek bed seemed to disappear. Kate felt the ropy, gnarl of tree roots instead.

The cedar break. She was approaching the road and soon the water would pass through the culvert. She knew that she would not make it through the narrow tunnel alive. Her lungs screamed for air. With one final attempt, she grabbed hold of a long cedar root growing along the side of the creek bank and hung on. Miraculously, it held. She wedged her foot under the tangled growth and anchored herself against the current. Inching her way upward, she thrust her head above water and gulped for air. But debris in the current slapped her in the face, and leaves and twigs filled her mouth, choking her. Dizziness overcame her ability to think—exhaustion prevented her from pulling herself higher.

She must not give in. Fighting unconsciousness, Kate inched her way up a little farther, and at last was able to take a clear breath. Her right arm hung loosely by her side, the back of the shaft had broken off in the tumble through the current, but the arrow was lodged in her arm. Numb from cold water and exhaustion, she lay on the bank as the water swept over her, and then, as quickly as it had arrived, the flow subsided and the current slowed. If she could hang on a few moments longer, survival looked promising. As thoughts of hope entered her mind, Kate feared that her pursuer might not have given up the chase. Perfect, Kate Caraway, just perfect. You screwed up again, she chided herself as the lights went out.

About the author: Kathleen Kaska is the author of eight books and is an avid birder. It was her passion for birds that led to the publication The Man Who Saved the Whooping Crane: The Robert Porter Allen Story. Her Classic Triviography Mystery Series includes The Alfred Hitchcock Triviography and Quiz Book, The Sherlock Holmes Triviography and Quiz Book, and The Agatha Christie Triviography and Quiz Book. Kathleen also writes the award-winning Sydney Lockhart mystery series set in the 1950s.

Run Dog Run is Kathleen’s her first mystery in the new Kate Caraway animal rights series. Find out more about Kathleen at www.kathleenkaska.com. A percentage of the proceeds of the sale of Run Dog Run will be donated to the Greyhound Project, Inc.

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One Writer’s Journey: Exercising the Writing Muscle

At the Essa Public Library in Angus, ON

This past Saturday, I was invited to a “Meet the Local Author” event at the Essa Public Library in Angus, Ontario. There was a terrific turnout, and I was able to chat with a number of attendees before and after the event. One of the most common questions I get asked, both at events, and during author interviews, is if I have any writing advice. In my February 17th post, I talked about becoming a professional writer, with a nod to  the queen of the amateur sleuth mystery, Agatha Christie.

But what if you’re not quite ready to become a “professional writer?” What if you just want to hone your craft? Here’s the best advice I can give you:

Make time to write every day. The writing muscle is like any other muscle; the more you exercise it, the stronger it becomes.

If you exercise regularly, you know the truth of this statement. Exercise regularly and you start to feel better. Stronger. Suddenly, you’re making better food choices. You’re parking as far away from the mall entrance as you can, instead of circling around the wheelchair accessible parking, looking for a spot right next to it. You’re in control and proud of it.

You also know that a couple of days off can lead to a week off, which can lead to a month off…and before you know it, you’re sitting on the couch, eating junk food, watching reality TV, and feeling sorry for yourself. What the heck happened to that buff-body-in-progress?

The same thing can happen with writing. As long as you’re writing every day—even if it’s just for thirty minutes—you’ve got a work-in-progress. Maybe it isn’t perfect, maybe it’s not even very good…but as every day goes by, it gets better, easier. It becomes something to look forward to, instead of something to avoid. It becomes part of your daily routine.

You don’t have to start big. Even marathon runners start with that first mile and gradually add more distance every week. Writing is no different. Think of it as a word marathon and don’t forget to enjoy the journey!

SPECIAL UPDATE: The Kindle version of Skeletons in the Attic is on sale for $1.99 (regular price $4.99) until March 15th. Find it on Amazon.  US & UK only.

New Release Mondays: Bitter Harvest by Wendy Tyson

Author Name: Wendy Tyson

Book Title: Bitter Harvest

Book Genre: Cozy Mystery

Release Date: March 7, 2017

Synopsis: As summer slips into fall and Winsome prepares for its grand Oktoberfest celebration, beer isn’t the only thing brewing. When the town’s pub owner is killed in a freak accident, lawyer-turned-organic farmer Megan Sawyer suspects something sinister is afoot in Winsome—but no one is listening. Megan must plow through Winsome’s fixation with autumn festivities to harvest the truth—before another dead body marks the season.

Excerpt: CHAPTER ONE

The harvest moon glowed bright overhead, a burnt offering to the demons plaguing Megan’s peace of mind. The woods beyond Washington Acres felt inviting—until nightfall. It was early October, the start of fall foliage season, and by day the leaves on the oaks, birch, and mountain ash shone bright in a rainbow of reds, golds, and deep oranges. But once darkness hit, the ghosts emerged. Or so it seemed.

Halloween was just a few weeks away, and the pace on the farm had finally lulled to a more comfortable frenzy. Most of the summer crops had been picked and sold, and what was left had been canned, frozen, stored, or donated. The fields were being turned over and planted with cover crops like clover and daikon radish. The fall bounty was just coming in, and Megan had enough pumpkins to supply a dozen fall festivals. Autumn had been kinder than the previous spring, and the October air was cool but not cold, dry but not arid. The farm’s coffers, too, were full—well, at least not empty.

Megan should have felt content. Pleased, even.

Then why this feeling of unrest? Megan opened the door to the porch and stepped outside into the chilly night. Overhead, the stars were eclipsed by the reddish, eerie moon. Gunther and Sadie, her dogs, ran out behind her. Gunther, a Polish Tatra Sheepdog, took off for his nightly rounds, checking on the chickens and goats and monitoring the perimeter of the farm just as he’d been trained to do. Sadie stayed pressed to her side. Megan reached down to pat Sadie, taking comfort from the dog’s warm presence.

But she couldn’t shake the image of the chair.

Oh, she knew very well that it was just a chair. A battered red Adirondack, the kind you see at homes all across America. Nothing scary about that. Except this one wasn’t parked on a patio, or beside a pool in some suburban lot. It sat alone at the top of Potter Hill, in the woods—the same thick woods that bordered her property.

About the author: Wendy Tyson’s background in law and psychology has provided inspiration for her mysteries and thrillers. Originally from the Philadelphia area, Wendy has returned to her roots and lives there again on a micro-farm with her husband, three sons and three dogs. Wendy’s short fiction has appeared in literary journals, and she’s a contributing editor and columnist for The Big Thrill and The Thrill Begins, International Thriller Writers’ online magazines. Wendy is the author of the Allison Campbell Mystery Series and the Greenhouse Mystery Series. Find Wendy at http://www.WATyson.com.

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Before They Were Authors: Diners, Shoe Sales & Desk Jobs by Catherine Dilts

Catherine Dilts is the author of the Rock Shop Mystery series, set in the Colorado mountains, while her short stories appear in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine. Catherine’s day job deals with environmental regulatory issues, and for fun she fishes, hikes, and runs. In her starry-eyed youth, she lived in the delusion that writers could earn a living and was spectacularly uninterested in pursuing a career, knowing that she would soon be rich and famous. She took the type of jobs Elaine Viets uses as a backdrop in her Dead End Job mystery series. Only sometimes not as glamorous!

Here’s Catherine’s story:

My attempt to wait tables in a deli had been an abysmal failure. I lacked the people skills and attention to detail required in the service industry. I received the telltale penny tip more than once.

So far, my stint in the shoe department of a retail store was heading for the same disaster. The manager chided me more than once for the horrifying rate of “shrinkage” during my shift. Perhaps I didn’t take the customer theft of cheaply made shoes seriously enough.

I would check on a customer, turn my back, and when I returned, there would be a ratty pair of shoes in the slot where a new pair of shoes had recently resided. Darn it, they got me again! Sadly, many times the abandoned shoes were child sized. What were these people teaching their kids?

I had a conversation with store security one evening. The rent-a-cop told me about a shoplifter he’d caught. The woman was on parole for, you guessed it, shoplifting. The paltry items included in the $18 haul that would send her to jail included flip flops. Seriously? She ruined her life for flip flops? The security guy assured me that shoplifters weren’t in it for the goods. They craved the thrill of their thievery.

My disgust with the human race had reached a new low. I was determined to help bust one of these miscreants. As this was a chain department store in a poor neighborhood, I soon had my chance.

The man was homeless. That was the obvious explanation for his ratty clothes and unwashed condition. I could smell him two aisles away. I crept near. He didn’t notice me. Probably not due to my policing skills, but rather to his inebriated state.

It was winter in Colorado. The smelly criminal selected a pair of work boots. I had to admire his choice. As if he had a job to wear them to. He loosened the laces, then slipped off his own decrepit excuse for footwear.

The man’s feet were disgusting. Filthy, covered with sores, and in bad need of a podiatrist’s attention to his scary toenails. He glanced about, then pulled the boots on. He hastily tied the laces and headed out of the shoe department, inexplicably taking his disintegrating shoes with him.

I debated calling security. Dropping the proverbial dime on the thief. Then I thought of him facing the cold winter day in his rotting shoes. He had selected work boots. Maybe he planned to sober up and get in line for day labor shoveling snow.

I turned away, knowing he would escape with the boots scot free. I would like to say I made a quasi-moral decision, but the reality was, if they caught him, I would have to handle the boots those icky feet had occupied.

My career in shoe sales ended after that episode. I decided to return to college after a long absence. The degree eventually led to my current career – a desk job in EHS – Environment, Health, and Safety. I monitor product compliance to a plethora of environmental regulations.

Both jobs have influenced my writing. My stint in dead end jobs gave me a keen awareness of the struggles of the minimum wage worker. Environmental compliance opened a world of ideas for stories involving hazardous materials. A recently finished and as yet unpublished story combines both, as a homeless man inadvertently reveals the location of a hidden chemical dump.

Now that I am published, in novel and short story forms, I am keenly aware of the income level of authors who don’t hit the NYT bestsellers list. I’m still hopeful, but I’m not quitting the day job until my writing income equals my salary. Or until I retire. Whichever comes first.

Gotta go. Time to save the planet for another eight hours.

You can learn more about Catherine and her books at http://www.catherinedilts.com/

Catherine’s latest mystery, Stone Cold Blooded – A Rock Shop Mystery, published by Encircle Publications LLC, is available in paperback, and in e-book for Kindle http://amzn.to/2d0uMDB and Nook http://bit.ly/2dHtm4G