New Release Mondays: Aftermath by Marilynn Larew

Author Name: Marilynn Larew

Book Title: Aftermath

 Book Genre: Thriller

Release Date: Feb. 17, 2017

Synopsis: It’s February, and Baltimore PI Anne Carter has a lot of work. EMT Charlie Magee says somebody is trying to kill him. Because he found a man on Hollins Street? And Vivian Rowlandson, whose husband Glenn, a retired lieutenant colonel of Special Forces, has disappeared, and she fears he may be having a blackout. Plus somebody’s trying to kill her, but she knows who that is.

 Excerpt: Mother! Jack wants to get married!”

Elizabeth’s message on the answering machine sounded increasingly anguished after the tenth repeat. Didn’t she know I had been out of town? Wasn’t it enough that I had spent the last twelve hours being very polite to a suspicious Philadelphia cop? That is bad enough to cause permanent colic; I do not have to practice marriage counseling at midnight as well. I fast-forwarded over Elizabeth and heard Jack’s voice.

“Pay no attention to her, Annie. We’ll work it out. You may hear from a buddy of mine from Viet Nam named . . .”

The doorbell shrilled over Jack’s exasperated voice.

“. . . Charlie Magee. He thinks somebody’s . . .”

The doorbell shrilled again insistently. . . trying to kill him. I told him you’d give him a price.”

Maybe if I turned off the light and crept up the stairs whoever it was would go away. I turned off the light, and the bell shrilled again. I was halfway up the steps when I heard a car backfire. Whoever it was quit ringing the bell and began to pound on the door. I slipped the 9 mm automatic out of its holster and went back down the steps cautiously. I looked at the silhouette on the glass in the top half of the door. It was a man, tall and slender. He heard the car return before I did and flattened himself against the area wall. A neat hole appeared in the glass just where his shoulders had been and not a whole hell of a distance from where my head currently was.

Bio: Marilynn Larew is a retired historian who taught for many years in the University System of Maryland. Besides American history, she taught the history of the Vietnamese war and the history of terrorism, topics she uses in her writing. She lives in southern Pennsylvania in a 200-year-old brick farmhouse with her husband Karl. She has also written The Spider Catchers and Dead in Dubai.

She belongs to the Sisters in Crime, the Guppies, and the Chinese Military History Society. Find her at www.marilynnlarew.com

Buy the Book

Malice Domestic Bound!

If all went according to plan, by the time you read this, I’ll be in Bethesda, MD, (or headed there) for Malice Domestic, a mystery reader’s conference. This will be my second Malice, and my second time in Washington, DC, and so, unlike last year, I have some idea of what to expect. I’m also hoping to get some sightseeing in. Last year, I saw the White House and the war memorials. This year, I’m planning on visiting Arlington.

So far, my schedule includes:

A Friday Breakfast with other members of Crime Writers of Canada.

A Friday Dinner with other members of Sisters in Crime — Guppy Branch.

A Saturday Breakfast with other members of Sisters in Crime International.

Saturday evening banquet, where I’ll be at the table hosted by Agatha nominee Jane K. Cleland.  I love her Josie Prescott series!I’m sure there will be a couple of lunches in there, not to mention some time at the bar sipping on wine!

It’s not all about food and drink, though. I’m part of a terrific panel of authors on Saturday  3 p.m. to 3:50 p.m.
Thrilling Suspense
Doris Ann Norris: Moderator
Lee Hurwitz
Lori Rader-Day
Eileen Rendahl/Kristi Abbott
Sarah Shaber
Judy Penz Sheluk

Book signing from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Sunday: Homeward bound, exhausted, but hopefully filled with new ideas and inspirations, and the memories of time spent with old and new friends.

I’ll be posting pictures on my Facebook Page! Hope you can stop by and check them out. Update next Friday!

New Release Mondays: No Rest for the Wicked by Martha Reed

Author Name: Martha Reed

Book Title: NO REST FOR THE WICKED – A John and Sarah Jarad Nantucket Mystery (Book 3)

Book Genre: Traditional Mystery

Release Date: February 23, 2017

Synopsis: When state archaeologists lift the lid on a suspicious steamer trunk buried in Nantucket’s landfill, Detective John Jarad’s world explodes. DNA holds the key to the island’s most notorious cold case crime, the Baby Alice Spenser kidnapping of 1921. Myriad family scandals emerge from the Spenser’s privileged and gilded past. Modern day events flare white-hot when a copycat kidnapper snatches a second child.

Excerpt: The fog had burned off at dawn, and the bright mid-morning sunlight streamed through the library’s mullioned windows. John was surprised to see that several of the cracked diamond-shaped panes had been mended with Scotch tape so old the vintage tape had yellowed. He resisted the urge to pick it off.

Moorhaven was a beehive of tension and forced inactivity. Jamison had cleared an antique partner’s desk to use as their command center. Extension cords snaked across the floor from every overburdened wall socket, powering their laptops, tablets, and phone chargers. A plastic drip coffeemaker sat on top of a mahogany lowboy chest of drawers pressed up against one wall. An hour ago, Jamison had glided in on silent feet to deposit a Nantucket basket filled with warm cranberry-orange muffins. Paper wrappers and buttery crumbs littered the desk. It seemed odd to John now, after learning about Moorhaven’s history that Jamison was the only staff member left in a house that used to hold dozens.

John felt wound up tighter than a clock. He shook out his hands to release the tension. The initial adrenaline rush from the kidnapper’s text message had evaporated, replaced by the steady hyper-awareness of a developing and active case. Addison had texted back confirmation that he had received the ransom message. Now they were waiting on a return response from Libby Spenser’s captors. John knew that suspense and delay were two psychological tactics criminals used in their toolkit, but knowing that didn’t help to curb his restlessness. He started to pace.

“Patience, Detective Jarad.” Chief Nunn looked up from her laptop. Her dark eyes glittered from under her half-closed lids. “I’ve been through this before, twice. It’s a waiting game. They’re working our nerves on purpose.”

About the author: Martha Reed is the author of the award-winning John and Sarah Jarad Nantucket Mystery series. Book 1, THE CHOKING GAME, was a 2015 Killer Nashville Silver Falchion nominee for Best Traditional Mystery. THE NATURE OF THE GRAVE, Book 2, won an Independent Publisher (IPPY) Honorable Mention for Mid-Atlantic Best Regional Fiction. Book 3, NO REST FOR THE WICKED launched in February of 2017. Martha recently completed a four-year term as the National Chapter Liaison for Sisters in Crime, Inc. Visit her web site www.reedmenow.com for more detail. You can also follow her antics on Facebook or on Twitter@ReedMartha.

Buy the Book

 

 

A Volunteer’s Perspective: Bouchercon 2017 Anthology

Bouchercon (pronounced Bough-chur-con) is a nonprofit, all-volunteer organization, which holds an annual convention in honor of Anthony Boucher, a distinguished mystery fiction critic, editor and author.

In 2017, Bouchercon will be held in Toronto. The first Bouchercon took place in 1970 in Santa Monica, California. Recent Bouchercons have been held in many cities across the United States, including Albany, NY, Saint Louis, MO, Raleigh, NC, New Orleans, LA, and Long Beach, CA.  Future conferences are scheduled for St. Petersburg (2018), Dallas, (2019) and Sacramento (2020).

Because Toronto is my home patch, I signed up as soon as registration opened in 2015, and checked off the “Volunteer” box. It wasn’t long before I agreed to take on the task of working on the Bouchercon anthology. These collections of short crime fiction are a means of fundraising for a local charity; the judges, the editor, and the authors do not receive any payment or royalties. The charity for A PASSPORT TO MURDER is Frontier College, a Canadian national literacy organization.

I learned a lot as a volunteer on this project. Here’s a bit of a rundown:

Step 1: Interview four publishers to determine the “Best Fit.” Important considerations included being an Mystery Writers of America approved publisher, past experience producing anthologies, and a commitment to contributing to the charity after publishing costs had been recouped.

Step 2: Selecting the publisher (with input from the Bouchercon Chairs and other volunteers). The publisher selected was Down & Out Books, who had published prior Bouchercon anthologies, and agreed to contribute all profits to Frontier College.

Step 3: Selecting three judges to read the submissions, and an editor. This responsibility fell primarily on the part of the Bouchercon Chairs, with input from the volunteer committee.

Step 4: Defining the guidelines and timeline. We were open to submissions from November 2016 through January 30, 2017. Here’s the fine print:

  • The story must include travel and at least a strong suggestion of murder or a plot to commit  murder
  • Story length: a maximum of 5,000 words
  • Electronic submissions only
  • Formatting requirements:
    • .DOC format, preferably double-spaced
    • Times New Roman or similar font (12 point)
    • Paragraph indent 0.5 inch (or 1.25 cm). Do not use tabs or space bar to create the indents
    • Include story title and page number in document header
  • Maximum of one entry per author
  • Open to writers who have been previously published, in any format, and those who have never been published
  • The story itself must not have been previously published in ANY format, electronic or print.
  • Please remove your name or any identifying marks from your story. Any story that can be associated with the author will either be returned for correction (if there is time) or disqualified.

Step 5: Set up an Excel spreadsheet to log all submissions. Author name, email, story title, story/batch number, date received, date to judges.

Step 6: Each story received was stripped of any identifying marks (yes, about 50% of authors left them in under “Properties.”) Log the story, author information (from entry form), and rename the stories, i.e. Batch 1, Story 1 would be B1-S1, and so on. Batches of eight stories were sent to the judges. Each story submission was acknowledged within a day of receipt.

Step 7: In all, there were 116 submissions, of which approximately half came in on the last two days. About a dozen came in during the last hour. Three came in after 11:55 but before 11:59 p.m. This surprised me (and the judges). It also served as a reminder to me: Don’t be so last minute! It’s just plain annoying and you run the risk of something going wrong (i.e. internet problems) and missing the cutoff. The latter “almost” happened to one author, who managed to squeeze in at 11:59 p.m. with a panicky email saying their internet had been down all evening. If it had been the next day, it would have been too late. (The dog ate my homework comes to mind as an excuse).

Step 8: The judges did their thing, reading and rating each story as the batches arrived. I did not read any of the stories. Two stories were disqualified for having known characters. One story, judged “the best” by all three judges, was rejected because it did not meet the travel criteria. It was my unhappy task to inform those authors of the decision. One story came in at 4,015 words. Since it was not a last minute submission, I returned it to the author, who managed to get it to 3,999 words. But had it been last minute, it would have been DQ’d.

Step 9: After the judges culled the list down to 24 stories, I submitted them, and their comments, to the editor,  John McFetridge. John pared the list down to 18.

Step 1o: Draft a rejection and acceptance letter, and send them out. It was more than a bit humbling to send myself a rejection letter, but the competition was fierce, and I know a lot of great stories from some very well-known authors didn’t make it in. I’m going to revisit that story, hopefully make it stronger, and find a new home for it.

What’s Step 11? Not sure…yet…but one thing is certain. My work on the anthology is not yet done. To see the list of authors who did make the cut, visit the website. Kudos to all who made it. It’s quite an accomplishment.

To register for Bouchercon, or find out more about it, visit the Bouchercon website

 

New Release Mondays: I Wish You Missed Me by Bonnie Hearn Hill

Author Name: Bonnie Hearn Hill

Book Title: I Wish You Missed Me

Book Genre: Suspense

Release Date: April 1, 2017

Synopsis: Farley Black, Kit Doyle’s former radio co-host, is missing. When Kit and her friend, former street person Virgie Logan, head north to California’s redwood country in search of the truth, a series of menacing incidents convinces Kit that she’s being watched. Someone is tracking her every move. As her unknown pursuer grows bolder and more reckless, Kit realizes she isn’t just looking for Farley – but running from a killer.

Excerpt: Megan puts on the large, white-framed sunglasses, even though it’s starting to get dark out. The dress Will insisted she wear is too low cut for an evening in a pub and too sexy, even for her. She ties his red bandana around her neck and makes a double knot, turning it into kind of a cowboy kerchief.

‘You ready yet?’ Will calls from outside the cabin. Then he walks inside and his boots squeak to a stop on the wood floor when he sees her. ‘Nice.’ He circles her slowly and then stops so they are eye to eye. ‘Very nice. But take your hair down, will you?’

‘I thought a ballerina bun would look better with this dress.’

‘You’re not paid to think.’ He grins and swats her on the ass. ‘Come on, beautiful. Time’s a-wasting.’

She shakes out her hair, pulls it behind her ears and over one shoulder. The cracked bathroom mirror makes her look as if she has five eyes. Megan blinks all of them and says, ‘Let’s go.’

He’s promised this will be the last one and she believes him. Will is many things but not a liar. Not to her, anyway.

They pause at the top of the stairs and the sound of the creek in back, combined with the redwood scent of the deck after a morning of rain, reminds her why she came here with him and why she stays. Not that she needs reminders.

‘What are you thinking?’ he asks.

Just like that, she remembers something. ‘I was supposed to help Priscilla and the other women make blueberry jam tonight.’

‘Like she will care if you don’t show up?’ He starts down the stairs. ‘Priscilla. Michael. I’ll never figure out these people.’

‘Good people,’ she reminds him. ‘They took us in with no questions.’

About the author: This is the third in the Kit Doyle series and Bonnie Hearn Hill’s seventeenth novel. A California native, Bonnie is passionate about how conflict changes us and both allows and forces us to discover new truths about ourselves. A mentor to numerous writers, Bonnie has appeared on a Central California television stations’s book segment for fourteen years. www.bonniehhill.com

Buy the Book

 

 

Before They Were Authors: Nalini Warriar

Winner of the 2002 QWF McAuslan Award for her first book, Blues from the Malabar Coast, Nalini Warriar spent her childhood in Assam and Mumbai. She worked as a molecular biologist before turning to writing. She lives in Napanee, Ontario. Her latest novel, Fireflies in the Night, has been chosen as ‘Best Indie Books 2016’ by Kirkus Reviews.

Here’s Nalini’s story:

I set my first novel, The Enemy Within, in the scientific world I’m familiar with. I wanted to portray the inner workings of a federally funded scientific research center and took all the liberty the setting allowed me to. I tried to keep the science part to a minimum but the story got away from me. I followed where the characters and story took me.

The novel is set in Canada-in French Canada-with a female protagonist who is a minority within a minority, a situation perfectly suited to the unique social and political climate in Quebec. I had plenty to work with, inspiration coming at me from all sides: my workplace, the malls and the community. It took me more than six years to find a publisher, partly because I was so out of the literary world in Toronto. And I wrote in English. Local presses did not ‘read’ English, in Quebec City, I must stress. The editors told me they didn’t know what to do with my book. Translation did not come to their minds. Plus my novel was not the story of the ‘immigrant experience.’ With a name like mine in Quebec City, they expected a story steeped in hardship, poverty, violence and I don’t know what else. I was unique. My book is unique. This was too much uniqueness for me to handle. So I moved away from Quebec and now am happy to call Ontario my home.

My second novel, Fireflies in the Night, was published in 2016. Kirkus Reviews gave it a starred review and it was chosen as ‘Best Indie Books 2016.’ It is a finalist in the Foreword Reviews Best Indie Books 2016. I couldn’t be prouder.

My latest book, Green Monkeys is a cozy mystery, and is about clinical trials and drug research.

I worked as a cancer researcher and around the time I hit my very own mid-life crisis, I remembered a forgotten dream: writing. I’ve loved books and the places they took me. As a child, I devoured fairy tales. Novels set in far off places are my adult fairy tales. In a house full of family and noise, words spoken in a language I hadn’t heard in decades, set off a series of memories. Working in a lab was a perfect balance. In science, the writing is factual, short and concise. And above all, there were guidelines in order to prepare a manuscript for submission to scientific journals. I found these same rules in the literary world as well. They were familiar, un-daunting.

Organization skills and discipline were a few of the other characteristics I took away from my science job and transposed into my writing. In the lab, I followed a protocol; I established parameters; analyzed the results and drew conclusions. This required organizing and following a timetable. At the end of the experiments, I wrote the article with a synopsis, and conclusion. Pretty standard stuff. I did the same with my writing: I organized pretty notebooks and pencils; booted my laptop; and poured over my notes. I always kept one in my lab coat pocket. I observed all the other stressed out crazy scientists, the rooftop terrace that I had my lunch on; and made notes about whatever and whoever struck. This was my raw material.

At home, after dinner, I sat down at my desk, plugged my ears with music and wrote with no obvious purpose. I like novels with good structure and a consistent voice. I disliked change of tense within a paragraph or chapter and I hated it when authors jumped from the first person to third person in their books. So I did none of the things I disliked and embraced everything I admired, aiming for a structurally sound base and strong characters.

Balancing science and writing came easily to me. I put up with science as it gave me the liberty to obsess about writing. I never thought about my science when I was creating. And science never gave me as much pleasure as writing. In the end, I ditched science and opted for writing full time.

 

Find Nalini Warriar on Facebook. Her books are available through all worldwide outlets of Amazon.

New Release Mondays: Edith Maxwell & Maddie Day

Today we have one very prolific author joining us for New Release Mondays. Welcome Edith Maxwell, aka Maddie Day, aka Tace Baker.

Book Title: When the Grits Hit the Fan (written as Maddie Day)

Book Genre: Cozy foodie

Release Date: March 28

Synopsis: When chef-carpenter Robbie Jordan and a friend go snowshoeing one morning in scenic South Lick, Indiana, and find a body frozen under the ice, police suspect her friend, who’d had a public tiff with the victim. To prove her friend’s innocence, Robbie absorbs local gossip about the victim’s past and slow-cooks her own ideas on the homicide—even if that means stirring up terrible danger for herself along the way . . .

Book Title: Called to Justice (written as Edith Maxwell)

Book Genre: Historical

Release Date: April 8

Synopsis: 1888 Quaker midwife Rose Carroll is enjoying Independence Day when a mill girl is killed. After a former slave is accused, Rose delves into the crime, convinced of the man’s innocence. A mill manager, an Irish immigrant, and the victim’s boyfriend come under suspicion. Rose delivers babies and hears secrets– only to be threatened by the murderer, with three lives at stake. Can she rescue herself, a baby, and her elderly midwifery teacher in time?

Book Title: Mulch Ado About Murder (written as Edith Maxwell)

Book Genre: Cozy foodie

Release Date: May 30

Synopsis: When a hydroponic farmer is found dead clutching rosary beads, organic farmer Cam Flaherty has a new murder to solve. There’s no shortage of suspects, including the dead woman’s embittered ex‑husband, the Other Man, and Cam’s own mother. Lucky for Cam, her father turns out to have a knack for sleuthing—not to mention dealing with chickens. Will he and Cam be able to clear her mom’s name before the killer strikes again?

About the author: Agatha-nominated and national best-selling author Edith Maxwell writes the Quaker Midwife Mysteries and the Local Foods Mysteries; as Maddie Day she writes the Country Store Mysteries and Cozy Capers Book Group Mysteries. She also writes award-winning short crime fiction and has stories in the 2016 Bouchercon anthology and the 2017 Malice Domestic anthology. Maxwell writes, cooks, and lives north of Boston with her beau and three cats, and blogs at WickedCozyAuthors.com, at Killer Characters, and with the Midnight Ink authors. Find her on Facebook, twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and at www.edithmaxwell.com.

Find Edith Maxwell’s Books

Find Maddie Day’s Books

Find Tace Baker’s Books

Before They Were Authors: Judy Penz Sheluk, Act I

One of the most common questions I receive when I attend author events is “What did you do before you were an author?” The question sparked the idea for a blog series, and so far it’s proven to be very popular with authors and readers alike. Because the reality is, none of us were born authors, and most of us have worked in a variety of jobs.

I was a teenager, about sixteen, when I got my first part-time job at a grocery store. It was called Sunnybrook Food Market and it was located at Midland and Lawrence in Scarborough, Ontario, about a mile and a half walk from my house, and a ten minute walk from school. To say Sunnybrook Food Market—long since out of business— was a discount grocery store would be putting a gloss on it,  but they were willing to train, and they paid us every Friday without fail.

Now you might be wondering how that job impacted my writing all these years later, and the short answer is, it didn’t, with one exception. There was another student there, Camilla. Once Camilla knew that I liked one of the stock boys, she made it her mission in life to date him. And she succeeded. Fast forward a few decades to The Hanged Man’s Noose and you’ll meet Camilla Mortimer-Gilroy. Those of you who have read the book know that Camilla is the woman responsible for breaking up Arabella and Levon’s marriage. Coincidence? I leave it for you to decide.

I left Sunnybrook a year later (not entirely my idea, if I’m being honest — it seems they actually expected me to pay for all the chocolate bars I ate). As for Camilla, I don’t know what became of her, and I don’t remember the name of the stock boy, but in my fictional world, they got married at eighteen and divorced at twenty. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it!