New Release Mondays: Avalanche by Kristina Stanley

Avalanche Cover FinalAvalanche (Mystery)

Release Date: June 25, 2016

Synopsis: On a cold winter morning, the safe at Stone Mountain Resort is robbed, and Kalin Thompson’s brother, Roy, suspiciously disappears. As Director of Security, Kalin would normally lead the investigation, but when her brother becomes the prime suspect, she is ordered to stay clear. The police and the president of the resort turn their sights on Kalin, who risks everything to covertly attempt to clear Roy’s name.

Excerpt: Fearless of skiing in the backcountry, Roy McCann climbed to the summit of Stone Mountain Resort and paused at the entrance to the Dragon’s Bowl. His muscles ached, and his calf cramped from the strenuous ascent. He released his boot from the binding of his touring ski and stretched his foot toward his shin, fighting the developing knot.

The first glow of morning light reflected off the run, and Roy searched the shadows for signs of another person. A two-kilometer crescent started above the tree line and ended in the forest, providing a steep powder run for only the most advanced skiers and snowboarders. The terrain also provided infinite hiding spots. So where?

The avalanche warning sign hanging from an orange safety line displayed a considerable danger rating. Logic said he should turn back. Not a chance. His need to finish what he started was stronger than logic.

He surveyed the precipice above the bowl. An overhanging mass of hardened snow extended along three quarters of the ridge, but the band of uncertainty was small. He could manage the terrain.

Prepping for a downhill run, he removed the climbing skins from the base of the skis. He ducked the line and traversed to his favorite entry point into the bowl.

The sun rose over the peaks, and his headlamp automatically switched off. Twelve hundred meters below, the chairlift operators began their morning ritual. The lifts rotated, and the rhythmic hum of machinery drifted toward him. His shift with ski patrol started at eight, so he’d better get his ass in gear. He’d done his best.

He jumped off the edge and attacked the run. Powder sprayed above his knees as he glided through each turn. A skier’s dream.

Several seconds in, the whumph of packed snow fracturing echoed across the Purcell Mountain range.


He jammed the edges of his skis against a mogul, stopped and checked the cliff directly above him. The morning sun glistened off the snow, momentarily blinding him. The rumble of a slide pummeling everything in its path reverberated through his bones.

Imajin author Kristina Stanley

About the author: Kristina Stanley is the bestselling author of the Stone Mountain Mystery Series. Her first two novels garnered the attention of prestigious crime writing organizations in Canada and England. Crime Writers of Canada nominated DESCENT for the Unhanged Arthur award. The Crime Writers’ Association nominated BLAZE for the Debut Dagger. Her short stories have been published in the Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine and The Voices From the Valleys anthology. She is also the author of THE AUTHOR’S GUIDE TO SELLING BOOKS TO NON-BOOKSTORES. Find Kristina at

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Interview with an Author: Jayne Barnard on Writing Steampunk

frontdraft5Jayne Barnard’s award-winning short fiction has appeared in many publications over the past quarter-century. Her first Steampunk YA novella, MADDIE HATTER AND THE DEADLY DIAMOND, came out from Tyche Books in October 2015. Her full-length mystery, WHEN THE FLOOD FALLS, won the Dundurn Unhanged Arthur Award (Best Unpublished First Crime Novel by a Canadian writer) in June 2016. She enjoys teaching vocal workshops and discussing psychological motivations at literary conventions.


Judy: Tell me a bit about Maddie Hatter.

Jayne: MADDIE HATTER AND THE DEADLY DIAMOND (October 2015, Tyche Books) is a lively mystery for adventurous women aged 12 to 102. A fledgling fashion reporter, Maddie is the last English journalist to have seen an eccentric adventurer, Baron Bodmin, before he vanishes into the Nubian desert in search of a legendary diamond. Hoping to break into investigative reporting, she and her clockwork sparrow delve into the baron’s pre-trip activities. But no men in 1898 Egypt will answer a young, female reporter’s questions. When the explorer’s airship turns up off Cornwall, adrift and deserted, she chases the story back to England and far beyond.

Judy: You’re visiting today to talk about writing steampunk. For starters, what exactly is steampunk?

Jayne: Steampunk is the late Victorian/early Edwardian world as if steam power, not petroleum, was the main source of power. As if the writings of Jules Verne, H.G. Wells, and other late-nineteenth-century writers of the fantastical were the truth instead of fictive imaginings. Think of amazing clockworks and mysterious steam-driven machines, incredible airships, larger-than-life heroes and villains, fabulous costumes and beautiful hats.

Judy: Is steampunk the same thing everywhere?

brass birdJayne:  Not quite. British Steampunk costumes tend toward recognizable Victorian wear with the addition of goggles and other odd, usually brass, accessories. Jules Verne’s ‘Around the World in Eighty Days’ and ‘20,000 Leagues Under the Sea’ are the forefathers of its Steampunk literature, and the modern, short-lived tv series, The Secret Adventures of Jules Verne, helped trigger the genre’s resurgence. American Steampunk has a strong frontier flavour. Costumes include a lot of leather and, often, exotic-looking fake weaponry. The movie ‘Wild, Wild West’ is an icon of the American variant. There’s a colourful diversity of Asian-rooted Steampunk as well, with its own styles and rooted in its own historical writings.

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

Jayne: My third-grade teacher, Mrs. Rinaldo, let me take a whole week to write out the suspenseful tale that came to me during a class exercise. I lived and breathed that story, all four scribbler pages of it. From that point on, I never quite stopped writing.

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

Jayne: Don’t write what you know; write FROM what you know. That gives you a firm base on which to build,  allowing you to write with confidence. Writing outward from there allows you to explore ‘what-ifs,’ keeping the story as fresh in your writing as it will be for the eventual readers.

Judy: Do you have a favorite author or series? A favorite genre?

Jayne:  I read a lot of historical fiction and non-fiction, often crime-related. Along the way I’ve gathered data about family life, social customs, and politics, which feeds my writing indirectly.

Judy: Do you read your genre when writing? If so, why? If not, why not?

Jayne: If Steampunk or other SF is on my desktop, history and mystery are on my nightstand, and the other way around. My mind needs a nightly break from the styles and constraints of that genre in order to work more effectively the following day.

Judy: What’s next for Jayne Barnard?

Jayne: I’m finishing the second Maddie adventure, which takes place in Gilded Age New York City. It will be released by Tyche Books in April 2017. Meanwhile Dundurn Press, sponsor of the Unhanged Arthur, is assessing WHEN THE FLOOD FALLS. And I’m always on the lookout for short fiction submission opportunities to break up the long slog through writing a novel or novella.

Jayne Barnard

Jayne Barnard

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New Release Mondays: Rum Luck by Ryan Aldred

9781432831899Rum Luck (Mystery / Humor)

Release Date:  June 22, 2016

Synopsis:  With death threats piling up on the rum-soaked bar, Ben and his friends take over a ramshackle cantina in search of a fresh start – or a quick end. An Arthur Ellis Award finalist and the first book in the Bar on a Beach Mystery series.

Excerpt: The clack of the lock echoed in his head like a cannon shot. A guard pushed open the door and ushered in a young woman wearing a business suit. If Ben didn’t know better, he would say she looked like—


“Hi, Ben.” She gave him a wan smile. “You look like hell.” Victoria, as ever, was class personified . . . a fashionista’s dream. An errant fleck of seaweed tickled Ben’s nostril.

“Please, make yourself at . . . home.” He gestured to the thin mattress that he had abandoned at some point during the night for the blessed coolness of the concrete floor.

Victoria glanced at the mattress, but remained standing. “Thanks, I’ll pass.”

“What are you doing here?” Was she some sort of withdrawal-induced hallucination?

“Miguel called me,” she explained with a shrug.

Her arrival cleared the fog from a dozen missed engagements. When they graduated—him to IT consulting and her to her father’s law firm—Ben had known his best friend from university would be busy trotting the globe and building her career. It took a few years to realize that meant she’d only be available to meet up between 3:08 and 3:11 p.m. when the moon was waxing gibbous.

Yet here she was. Ben would have to get Miguel a trophy that read “World’s Best Best Man” to thank his Colombian friend for his quick thinking. Except there was no best man, not after what had happened between Ben and Tara Whitmore, his former fiancée. “World’s Best Ex-Best Man” didn’t have quite the same ring to it, somehow.

“He said you needed me to take your case,” Victoria finished.

Case? It couldn’t be as bad as that, could it? “It’s great to see you. It’s been ages. But I’m sure they’ll let me out of here once I sober up and pay the fine.” He fought back against the fear creeping into his voice. “I don’t think Miguel meant for you to fly down from Toronto in the middle of the night . . .”

Victoria took a deep breath. “Ben, you’ve been arrested for murder.”

ryan headshotAbout the author: When not writing, Ryan Aldred runs a small Canadian charity that supports education in Afghanistan, Tanzania, Uganda, and other at-risk regions. He previously worked as a defense analyst and continues to serve as a Sergeant in the Canadian Forces Reserve. Ryan and his family live in beautiful Prince Edward County, Canada. He’s never met a beach he doesn’t like. Find Ryan at

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News, Views & Clues Newsletter & Poll


I’m just putting the finishing touches on my first newsletter of 2016.

If you’re not on my newsletter subscriber list (because of anti-SPAM laws, the “Follow blog by email” and “Newsletter” are separate opt-in lists), you can sign up here. Remember, you can always unsubscribe (though of course I’d miss you). In the meantime, I’ve created a Newsletter poll. There’s even a space for you to include personalized comments.

Thanks, as always, for your support on my writing journey. I couldn’t do it without you (well, maybe I could, but what fun would that be?)

New Release Mondays: Death on the Trek by Kaye George

small coverDEATH ON THE TREK (Mystery)

Release date: June 13, 2016

Synopsis: The Neanderthal tribe of Enga Dancing Flower must trek south to flee the approaching glacier, but the distance is long and the food is scarce. When a venerable elder drowns crossing a flooded river, Enga suspects that it was not an accident, and that a murderer travels with them.


Excerpt: Enga Dancing Flower watched the progress of the boy who was making his way down the hill from the Holy Cave. This was the last time he would bring the fire from the small mountain to the Paved Place for the nightly meeting in their long-time home, the last time he, or any of the tribe, would ever visit the Holy Cave. For many seasons, it had been the task of Akkal to tend both the permanent fire in the Holy Cave and the community fire in the village. When rain sometimes put out that fire, the black-haired Fire Tender diligently prepared the pit at the center of the meeting place and brought new fire down before the next meeting time.

The warm and cold times cycled, as they always did, and the most warm time was coming. The night breath of Mother Sky held only a trace of chill. The birds in the woods surrounding the village were making soft peeps while they bedded down so that they could rise up again with Sister Sun, completing that cycle, and sing at full voice.

The fire Akkal carried lit his face from below, its light throwing flickering shadows across his young features and glinting off his long dark hair and eyes. Smoke trailed after him.

The leader of the tribe, Hama, the Most High Female, had summoned them after they ate their evening meal, as usual. But this was far from the usual meeting. The meal had only been a few bites and that was not usual either. Although it took place at the normal time, soon after Sister Sun disappeared, this meeting was different. The tribe knew that this was their last time of no sun in the place most of them had lived for all their days. At new sun, they would depart. Most of the huge mammoth they had always hunted had fled.

Moons ago, before this last dark season, a group of males had journeyed far enough to see the gigantic, looming field of Great Ice. It was moving, very slowly, but the movement was toward them. The animals the Hamapa tribe depended on, which were mostly mammoth, were scattering. Some had migrated toward the ice, onto the barren, frozen land that lay before it, in its path. The tribe could not live in that place. Some animals had fled to places with more warmth. That was where they would go. This decision had been made after much discussion and pondering. The decision had not been easy, but all were satisfied that it must be so. They must depart.

Kaye George. Photo by Ron Whitfield.

Kaye George. Photo by Ron Whitfield.

About the author: Kaye George, national-bestselling and multiple-award-winning author, writes several mystery series: Imogene Duckworthy, Cressa Carraway (Barking Rain Press), People of the Wind (Untreed Reads), and, as Janet Cantrell, the Fat Cat cozy mysteries. (Berkley Prime Crime). Her short stories appear in anthologies, magazines, and her own collection, A Patchwork of Stories. She reviews for Suspense Magazine. She lives in Knoxville, TN. Find Kaye at

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