Thursday, November 28, 2013

A quick review: Artful Dodging

I am a die hard book junkie.  There is no cure, not that I would ever want one. For as long as I can remember, I've always been an avid reader.  While occasionally I'll dip my toe into unfamiliar subject matter, I'm quick to grab a thriller or mystery.  It's not unusual for me to get caught up in a series or want to read other works by an author I enjoy. 

When trying a new author, I'll give it an honest read. But if they haven't caught my interest within the first twenty pages, I may dump the book. Occasionally, I may find the setting, dialogue or characters unappealing and will catch myself not paying attention.

This was not the case with "Artful Dodging: The Torpedo Factory Murders" by M.S. Spencer.  Having read one of Spencer's other works recently, I was looking forward to this one.  Spencer weaves a good story, with an abundance of remarkable characters. The story takes place in Virginia, with most of the action occurring in the actual World War II torpedo factory which has been converted into artist studios.  Spencer wastes no time blending personal and professional conflicts, with flashes of jealousy, intrigue and deception.  Mix in a dash of the local scenery, various culinary delights and the right amount of passionate interludes and you've got a fast paced, engaging tale.

Now, one thing that Spencer and I share is the fun of creating memorable and meaningful character names. The heroine in this novel is named Milo. I must admit that's the first time I've seen it used for a female. But based on the description, her attitudes and behavior, Milo quickly became a woman that got my attention. It's easy to see why her romantic interest found her so irresistible. Like many authors, I wouldn't be surprised if some of the traits that make Milo such a great character were taken directly from the author.

Just to add a little irony here, my current work in progress, which has the temporary title of "Fleeing Beauty"
is the third book in the Jamie Richmond series. The story centers around the discovery of a storeroom filled with sculptures created by Jamie's late father. I'm basing details about the studio and storeroom on a smaller scale version of the Torpedo Factory, set in the Detroit area.  There are a number of old factories that have been converted into lofts and galleries. While I've had this idea for some time, it was ironic that Spencer's novel describes not only a similar locale for artists, but captured much of the same elements of the characters with a touch of that Bohemian lifestyle that I've been looking forward.

You can find "Artful Dodging" at the links below.

I'd give this book 4 stars.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Take a chance

Today I'm a guest on Dawn's Reading Nook, talking about writing and the relationships between characters. You can also find out more about my muse, that insistent sprite that follows me everywhere and some of the crazy ideas that she brings forth.

Last night I was at a fundraising event for a local charity. As one of the auction items, I had donated print copies of my two Jamie Richmond mysteries. To sweeten the deal, I offered to let the winner give me the name for a character in the third book in the series, which I'm currently writing.  I will determine whether the name becomes a crook, a sidekick, a new friend of Jamie's or someone making a cameo appearance.
I don't know who won the prize, so I have no idea what name I'll be given to include in the story.

But my question to you is, if you were the winner, what name would you like to see in print? Would it be an old lover, a favorite relative, someone you've always had a secret crush on, or a combination of people?

Give me a name and tell me why. I'll pick the best one and the winner will get to pick an electronic copy of any of my four novels:  "Desperate Measures"  "Devious"  "Fade Away" or "Vanishing Act"

Friday, November 8, 2013

What's in a Name?

There is an old adage that I think is credited to Henry Ford.  "Never complain, never explain".  I'm not sure how that applies but I've been remiss in posting anything for more time than I care to admit. I'm determined to post more frequently, it just becomes a matter of time.

Writing is still one of my passions. It's something I truly enjoy doing and while I may not be able to get in front of the keyboard on a daily basis, I don't think you ever really stop writing.  I find myself working on dialogue or plot twists while I'm driving, hiking the trails or sitting on hold.  And I'm a firm believer that inspiration can strike anywhere, any time.  Recently I was in the grocery store, wandering through aisles looking for a few elusive ingredients when an idea struck.  Imagine writing a parody or humorous piece about cooking. You could name all your characters after ingredients or spices.  Cory Ander, Mar Joram, Rosemary Sage and more.

Which brings me to names. Coming up with creative names for your characters can be a trick, but it can be such a blast, especially when the readers catch on.  The very talented M S Spencer does this with subtle style.

Today I'm a guest author on the Savvy Author blog, talking about character names. Stop by and see what you think.  And if you have any ideas for clever names, I'd love to hear them.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Author Interview and Tribute

I'm a guest today on Jamallah Bergman's website, talking about the creative process and sharing a bit from "Vanishing Act".  Stop by and check it -

I realized earlier that it's been a while since I posted anything. A lot has happened lately.  "Vanishing Act" is now available in paperback, which just doubles my pleasure, seeing the two Jamie Richmond novels in print. After all the time and energy, the sweat, the creativity and the countless revisions, to be able to hold your own book in your hands is an incredible kick. And it just makes me more determined to keep writing.

Last month, I was saddened to learn that one of my writing heroes had passed away. Elmore Leonard was in his eighties and he was still writing. This guy did for crime what Stephen King does for horror. I had the great pleasure of meeting him twice years ago. His whole attitude about writing just encouraged me to keep going.  More than a few of his novels ended up as movies as well, the best of which (in my eyes) was "Get Shorty". I still think that was the movie that reignited John Travolta's career.

Leonard was a Michigan guy, who still wrote out his drafts on a legal pad before pounding away at his typewriter. He had a way with dialogue and a penchant for strong, determined women. I like to think his efforts were part of the inspiration for Jamie Richmond. A collection of his novels are on the shelf, right above this computer. If you've never read any of his work, I'd encourage you to give him a try.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Weekend Blog Hop

It's the weekend!  I don't know what's happened to summer, but we only have one more weekend in August. I hope you've been able to enjoy it, wherever you are.

Secret Cravings Publishing is having a blog hop this weekend. 30 of their favorite authors, including yours truly, are offering you the chance to check out some of their works. Along the way, you might just win a free copy of a book that's being featured.  Since I've got two mystery/romance novels with SCP, I'm going to be giving away a copy of each one. But you have to answer a question at the bottom of this post.  So give it a try.  But first, here's a little bit about my novels.


Jamie Richmond, reporter turned author, is doing research for her next book. Attempting to capture the realism of a police officer’s duties while on patrol, she manages to tag along for a shift with a state police trooper. A few traffic stops and a high speed chase later, Jamie’s ride takes an unexpected turn when she witnesses the trooper being shot.  Although it is not a fatal injury, Jamie becomes obsessed with unraveling the facts behind this violent act. While she is trying to sort out this puzzle, she becomes romantically involved with Malone, another trooper with a few mysteries of his own. Now Jamie’s attention is divided between a blooming romance and solving the crime which is haunting her. Jamie begins to question the events that took place and exactly who could be behind the shooting. It was a devious mind. But who?

Here's a quick excerpt from the story.

The first time on the sofa was wild. There was no chance for foreplay. We both wanted it too much for that. Clothes were flung so far that I didn't find my red bra until two days later.  It must have bounced off the wall and slid behind the planter. After the initial rush, Malone introduced me to the romantic aspects of each room in my apartment.  At one point after a warm bath together, I was on my stomach in bed and he proceeded to drive me crazy by slowly making patterns down my spine with one solitary fingertip.
Each time after the first started out slow and tender. A kiss here, fingers stroking there. Malone was toying with me, bringing me to the edge of excitement now, his lips following his finger.  My whole body felt alive, energized with the reactions to his touch.
He kissed his way up my body, taking his time. A nuzzle here, another tantalizing kiss there.  My skin was singing. My face was flushed, probably as red as my hair.  At about the time I could actually feel my body starting to recover, he zeroed in on my breasts.
Now I can’t say this is true for all women. I can only speak for me. Maybe it’s because of the infrequency of romantic interludes. Or maybe it’s my age. Or maybe the moon was rising.
My breasts are small. I hinted at that before. There are fourteen-year old girls out there with bigger breasts than mine. To clarify the situation, all my bras are padded and yes, the cup size is A. I don’t know if that’s good or bad, but it’s what I’ve got and I’d never consider surgery to pump them up.  All I know is that when Malone starting stroking and kissing my breasts, it’s like there was a direct connection down below. I was immediately wet with anticipation yet again.
“What am I going to do with you,” I whispered my voice little more than a feathery gasp.
 “Whatever you would like, I’m open to suggestions.”

Vanishing Act

Jamie Richmond is still discovering her way in the romantic relationship with the mysterious Malone when her best friend Linda Davis comes home.  The beautiful Linda suddenly finds herself swept up in a whirlwind romance of her own with an older man, Dr. Vincent Schulte. But not everything is all champagne and flowers for Linda. She suddenly realizes she’s become the target of a stalker. The problem escalates. Jamie is determined to protect her friend, but even she is at a loss when Linda suddenly disappears one cold, snowy day.  The police are searching for clues. Despite Malone’s attempts to keep Jamie on the sidelines, she is driven to find out what happened to Linda and where she could be. Despite her best intentions, Jamie has once again put herself in danger while trying to unravel the mystery.

Here's an excerpt:

Linda and I had gone to the gym, as was our custom. Earlier in the day, she had found a childish Valentine’s card tucked under the windshield wiper on her car. There was no signature, just a cartoon character offering up their heart. It could have been from anyone. Or it could have been from her stalker. She had started to throw it away, but remembered the warning from Malone. So she was a little unnerved when we went to work out. But the physical activity, the pounding music, and the noise of the other women grunting and groaning through the moves helped to improve her mood. We bundled up afterward and were headed for the car. The lot had been crowded when we’d arrived, so we had ended up parking at the far end.
Talking quietly, trudging through the clumps of snow and ice, neither one of us heard him at first.
“It’s getting to the point where I just want to stay home,” she said quietly.
“You can’t hide, Linda. If you become a prisoner in your own home, then he wins. And you are much too strong a person to let that happen.”
She gave me a wan smile. “I know, Jay Kay, it’s just…”
“Hey!” a gruff voice snapped at us from only a couple of feet away.
Linda let out a shriek of surprise. She lost her footing on the ice and crashed to the pavement. Looking over my shoulder, I saw a blocky shape, hidden in the shadows beyond the reach of the overhead lights, gliding close to the back end of a parked car. He took a menacing step forward, one hand clutching something tightly and extending it towards us.
“Run!” I screamed at Linda for all I was worth.
“Hey,” he snapped again, still reaching for us.
I took a step toward him and planted my left foot on one of the few dry patches of pavement. Then I swung my right foot as hard as I could, as if I was about to nail a fifty yard field goal to win the Super Bowl. Without realizing it, I braced for the impact. To this day, I’d swear I was aiming for his crotch. But I missed.
Maybe the pavement wasn’t dry after all. Or maybe suddenly shifting my weight to make that kick caused me to lose my balance. Or maybe subconsciously I couldn’t really kick a guy in the balls. Or maybe he sensed what was happening and he took a step back. I’ll never really know.
In my peripheral vision, I could see Linda scrambling to her feet, already racing toward her car, clicking the remote control to unlock the doors. My leg continued its arc and just before making contact, my left leg shot out from underneath me.
My foot slammed into the bulky guy. I caught him square in the chest. With my body going horizontal, it must have looked like some kind of ninja move. Whatever it was, it was enough to take him off his feet, and he went down with a thud. I couldn’t be sure, but it looked like his head bounced off the pavement.
I landed on my side and scrambled immediately to my feet. I was crouched in a fighting stance, anger and adrenalin churning in my gut. The guy let out a low groan. He made no move to get up.
Suddenly lights flared around us. Linda had managed to start her car and pull it into the aisle. She lay on the horn, a long deep-throated wail that cut through the night. A few people who had been moving across the parking lot came running over.
Illuminated by the headlights, I looked down at the attacker. He was an older man, with a couple of day’s worth of stubble across his face. His left hand was pressed against his chest, roughly in the spot in which I’d kicked him. Slowly he raised his right hand in my direction as our eyes locked. His voice made a throaty rasping noise as he spoke.
“She dropped her glove.”

* * * *

 Malone was not happy. The look on his face told me everything I needed to know. I’d stepped over some kind of line.
 “Jamie, I told you I’d take care of this. You can’t be taking matters into your own hands.” His voice was tense. There was none of the tenderness, the humor or the calm that I usually associated with Malone.
“But Malone, I can’t leave it alone. We’re talking about my best friend.”
“I know who we’re talking about! But you can’t go running around like some renegade in a movie, trying to see that justice is done. This whole thing could have blown up in your face.”
“But I…”
“No buts, Jamie.” He leaned forward, looming over me. “You put an innocent old man in the hospital, attacking him like that. And the only thing he had done was to follow Linda out to her car because she dropped her glove.”
“But Malone…”
He threw up his hands in disgust. “You just don’t get it! You get this notion in your head that you’re right and to hell with everyone else.” I couldn’t remember Malone ever swearing before. He couldn’t look at me.
“I’m sorry, Malone.” My voice was little more than a whisper.
“Sorry might not be enough, Jamie. You could have killed that guy. And what if he’d really been after Linda? What if he was armed? Instead of just getting in your car, and calling for help, you could have been putting yourself in harm’s way.”
 I kept my eyes on the floor. There was no way I could look at him. It was all I could do to shrug my shoulders.
“No more heroic moves, Jamie.”
“We’ll do whatever you say, Malone. I really did think she was in trouble.”

Now here's your question:  What Hollywood star is the one that you most associate with, either their looks, their talent, their charm, their sex appeal, their attitude or their sense of humor. Pick the trait that matches you and tell me what your favorite role for this star was.

You can check out the other authors

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Work In Progress Part Two

Recently I wrote about my efforts with "WHY 319" a mystery about a serial killer. I'm currently in the editing phase, trying to make it as clean and error free as possible. At the same time, I'm working on a new story, what will be the third installment in the Jamie Richmond Mystery series.

In this book, Jamie's past is suddenly brought into sharp focus as a collection of art works created by her late father are discovered. It's been twenty-five years since his death, yet his popularity has never waned. With this story, I'm planning on reuniting some old lovers, working in some intrigue with a dash of danger and enough confusion to keep everyone guessing. And just in case you're curious, Malone and Jamie's relationship continues to bloom, with plenty of action to keep the romance alive.

Here's an excerpt for you to check out.  I'd appreciate any comments you'd like to share. In this scene, Jamie Malone and Ian are opening the first crate in the warehouse where the artwork has been discovered.

They eased the crate to the ground. Malone took the hammer and a small crowbar. Carefully he inserted the edge of the bar along the lid. He smacked it a couple of times with the hammer. Nails groaned at his effort. I watched him circle the box, working the edge of the crowbar in and loosening the lid from the sides. Ian took the other bar from me and moved behind Malone, prying up the sections. In less than a minute the lid was free. They stepped back so we could all see it.
     “Do you want to do the honors, Jamie?”
     I shook my head. My nerves were so bad I’d probably drop the lid on my foot. “Let Ian do it. He found the crate.”
     The kid glowed with delight. He started to reach for the lid.
     Both guys looked stunned. “Change your mind?”
“No, Eric, but I want to capture this on video. We’re going to record each crate being opened. I want to be consistent. I want to do it right.”
With their help it only took a few minutes to set up the tripod and the video camera. Once we were filming, I read off the crate’s code, indicated the date and time and who was present. Ian moved forward and lifted the lid carefully. Angling the camera, I could see that the contents were wrapped in burlap. Malone and Ian reached into the box and lifted out the sculpture. They set it in the center of the worktable. Malone pulled a knife from his pocket and gently cut through the coarse fabric. Once a rip was made, they pulled it apart. Malone tenderly lifted the sculpture off the table while Ian removed the burlap. I think my heart stopped. I know my breath did.
“It’s amazing,” Ian said. “This is so cool.”
“It’s just like the sketch in the file.” Malone said.
I stopped the video. Unhooking it from the tripod, I passed it to Ian. “Do a slow pan, top to bottom, then move around and capture it from every side. I’m going to take some shots with the other camera.”
Ian nodded and quickly accepted his new assignment.  Malone was staring at the piece. Then he set the hammer on its head and leaned the handle against the sculpture.
“What are you doing, Eric?”
He shook his head. “Wrong again, Jamie. I’m just giving it a sense of scale. With the hammer in the picture, you can tell roughly how big it is.”
“We should measure it,” I said, stepping past him to take a couple of photos. “Do you have a tape in the toolbox?”
“No, but I’ve got a couple at home. We can bring one tomorrow and get the dimensions. Maybe we should weigh it too.”
I glanced at him, eyebrows raised. Malone innocently raised his hands but there was no hiding the smirk on his face. Like many women, I refuse to have a bathroom scale in the house. If I really want to know if I’ve gained any weight, there is a scale at the gym. Or I can use the one at Vince’s office.
“I am not buying a scale.”
“You don’t have to. There’s an industrial one back in the corner of the storeroom, beneath the windows. Peter must have used it for the occasional shipment.”

Ignoring the slight flush of heat on my face, I moved around the table and shot more pictures. Ian completed his circuit and returned the camera to the tripod.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

The Charming Hero Blog Hop

Today I'm participating in The Charming Hero Blog Hop.  This is a chance for you to learn more about the guys who populate romance books and even win a free copy of one of my books.  Check it out.

- What your hero’s name and where does he come from?  
Malone is his name and he comes from the west side of Michigan. He doesn’t use a first name, only goes by Malone.

- What’s your charming hero’s profession?
 Malone is a sergeant with the Michigan State Police. In addition to being in charge of the crew on the afternoon shift (3:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.) he also patrols the roads. Malone is an excellent marksman, a sharpshooter with both pistol and rifle.

- Now, there’s a lot about our heroes that sets all women in a flutter. What’s your hero’s greatest weapon when it comes to seduction?
Malone has a killer smile, what Jamie, his love interest, refers to a low voltage smile, where the corners of his mouth turn up seductively and his cobalt blue eyes give you the impression that the devil is dancing inside them.

- If your hero resembled one or more celebrities, who would they be? (provide pictures, he could be a blend)
Think of a combination of Matt Bomer (the charming thief from the “White Collar” television series) and Colin Ferguson (the strong, self assured sheriff from the series “Eureka”). That’s Malone, a mixture of charm, strength and self confidence.

- Apart from being incredible charming, how would you describe your hero’s personality?
Malone has plenty of self confidence and his powers of persuasion have yet to fail him. He’s a smart guy and his intelligence and his strength of character are evident in all that he does. Malone can be a calming influence if the situation demands it, but he’s also a ‘take charge’ kind of a guy, a natural leader.

- Does your hero have a favourite saying or motto?
No, but if he did it would probably be something along the lines of ‘keep your eyes and ears open, so you don’t miss something good.’

- Post a scene of ten lines or less that captures your hero using his charm to win over both our readers and heroine.
Here’s a quick scene with Jamie and Malone from “Devious” the first book in the Jamie Richmond mystery series.

He just stood there, staring at me. I could feel his eyes tracing their way down my body. A chill ran up my spine, but I couldn’t move. “You are an incredibly beautiful woman.”
I blushed and lowered my eyes. “It’s just the gown.”
“Don’t do that.” His voice had taken on a thick, husky quality.
“Do what?”
“Downplay the compliment.” Malone reached out his right hand and took my left. We started dancing slowly, moving in perfect sync to the music. “Just smile sweetly, say, ‘thank you’ and accept the fact that I believe you are an incredibly beautiful woman.”
He twirled me around the apartment. “Do you have any idea how incredibly sexy this is? To come in that door and find you like this?”
“Malone, are you going to kiss me?”
That killer smile crossed his face. “I thought you’d never ask.”

Now here’s your chance to win a free e-copy of “Vanishing Act”, the second book in the series.
You have been given the gift of a magical twenty-four hours to be devoted to romance. You can spend this anywhere in the world, with anyone you choose, from a famous celebrity to the college boy who is spending the summer cutting lawns in the hot sun. Tell me who you’d be with, where you would go, and how you would spend those twenty-four hours.

You can also check out the other authors participating.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Work in Progress Part One

It's not uncommon for a writer to have more than one work in progress at any given time. In addition to stories that are actually starting to come together on the page, I often have ideas circulating in my head that may end up as part of a current piece or could take on a life of their own.  When things start going along those lines, it can get a little confusing.

Currently I'm working on two projects. One is a mystery about a serial killer and the efforts of the police to track down the killer before another murder occurs. After many years of starts and stops and countless revisions, I finally completed the first draft of this book. It's hefty. I've added in enough colorful characters, conflicts and misdirection that I think it works out well.  I've shipped this off to a couple of other writers to have them read it over and give me some feedback.  With their comments in hand, I'll polish the script and make it pretty.  Then the big challenge is to find it a new home. I really believe this one can attract the attention of a traditional publisher, so I want to go that route first.

To give you a taste, here's an excerpt from the new book, titled "WHY 319".  I'd welcome any comments.

The killer was already scoping out the next victim. It was almost becoming too easy. After all, it’s not like there was any shortage of targets out there to consider. They were everywhere. One plain Jane after another kept crossing the radar screen. Some nights it was like shopping for bananas, and they were visible in bunches.
            Tonight was one of those nights. It was as if someone was holding up a sign, steering them in this direction.  Like right now. Off to the left at one of those elevated stations, where you had to sit on a bar stool in order to reach the table was two perfect physical examples of the ideal target. Four women, each in their early to mid-twenties were crowded around the postage stamp-sized table. Two were ruled out immediately. They were chunky by the killer’s standards, flashing lots of cleavage with large breasts. For a nanosecond the killer wondered if the flesh was real or the results of surgical enhancement. It didn’t matter. They were unworthy of any further consideration.
            But it was the other two who caught the killer’s eye.  The one on the right was a bottle blonde which was obvious by the dark roots showing and the dark eyebrows. The other was a brassy redhead. She was tiny, almost doll like.  The killer was in a perfect position to observe her.  She was wearing high-heeled red boots that came up over her knee, sassy looking things that accentuated her legs.  The black skirt she was wearing barely touched the middle of her thighs, but it might have been longer if she was standing up.  She was wearing a heavy wool sweater that covered her from the throat to the waist. It was ivory in color and was loose enough to keep the goodies beneath it a well-guarded secret. With the boots and the short skirt, she was almost too good to be true. And upon reflection, the killer realized she was.
            While physically appealing, it was her manner and attitude that was a turn off. This was a girl who flaunted the little bits she had. As she sat on the stool, swaying to the background music, she kept crossing and uncrossing her legs, putting on a floor show of her own. Her hands were constantly in motion. Now they were slowly, seductively sliding down her arms, dropping below the table into her lap. They lingered for a moment then skittered down her legs to tug at the bottom of the skirt.  This was no timid child. She was well aware of her body. By the way she was moving she knew how to use it.
            The focus returned to the bottle blonde. This one had potential. Her wardrobe was a polar opposite of the redhead. Loose fitting slacks, with low heeled shoes that would have been rejected by a nun with an orthopedic condition, she wore a blouse buttoned to the neck and a jacket to help conceal her. The only thing that broke the mold for this plain Jane was the hair color. Perhaps she was letting it grow out after getting it dyed for the holidays.  Now the imagination kicked in, wondering what she would look like, sprawled naked on a bed, unable to resist, unable to stop, unable to do anything at all.
The killer’s body began to respond.
Yes, she could very easily be the next one.
            But first the stage had to be set. And it was a time for patience, because the plans were perfection, which was evident by the lack of awareness of the public or any progress by the police. Those bumblers in blue would never put it together, because of the meticulous planning. If by chance they somehow managed to get a clue, the misdirection was already in place.  So there could be no deviation from the plan. It had taken weeks of study, of carefully planning each and every move. Every step was plotted out. Every move was a smooth, choreographed motion. Every action triggered the next move in a series of reactions. Just reflecting on the past efforts was enough to make the killer smile.
            “What the hell are you grinning at?” Malcolm asked as he stepped up.
            “Just thinking about how good a night this will be,” the killer said.
            “I don’t want a bumpy ride tonight.”
            The killer turned and looked him right in the eye. “You got nothing to worry about, man. Everything will be smooth.”
            Malcolm hesitated a moment as he studied the killer, then nodded in agreement. “We can’t ever be too smooth.”

            The killer’s smile widened. “That’s me, man, I’m too smooth.”        

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Author's Hot Seat

Today I'm being interviewed on author Jan Graham's blog.  Jan refers to this as the Author's Hot Seat and after reading over her list of questions, I can totally understand why.

Stop by her site and check it out. You can also take a chance at winning an eBook copy of "Devious"

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Dreams to Reality

I can't speak for every author. I can only speak for me. Having been an avid reader since a young age, I've always been intrigued with a well written story. Over the years I've read some books that have captured my interest from the very first pages and others that have left me bored. As a writer, I always strive for the former, wanting to draw the reader in and take them along for what will hopefully be an enjoyable ride.

The other day I happened to check out the listings on Amazon for my two romance/mystery novels. To my delight I saw a 4 star review on "Devious". This reader enjoyed the book, liked the mixture of suspense and humor and even likened it to the works of Michael Connelly and Harlan Coben. That is great praise and amazing company to keep.

Late yesterday I received word from the publisher that "Devious" is now available in paperback. As a writer, it has always been my dream to have one of my novels published in paper format. While it is a definite kick to have a novel published as an eBook, there is something extremely gratifying to be able to hold a paperback in your hands and know that these words and ideas are yours. Over the years I've been able to do that with some short stories I've had published in small press magazines. Now I'll get to do it with one of my novels. A dream will become a reality. To quote John Travolta "ain't it cool!"

In less than three months, "Vanishing Act" the second novel in the Jamie Richmond series, will also be available in paperback. It's the achievement of a dream that inspires me to keep writing.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Free Read: Three to Get Ready

It's summer time and everyone is busy. You're being pulled in so many different directions, you just might pass yourself along the way. At least, that's the way it feels to me sometimes. While the idea of kicking back on your favorite patio chair, hammock or chaise lounge with a refreshing beverage and a good book to read still has its own appeal, chances are you might not have as much time to enjoy that as you'd like.  So, here's a chance to try some short stories for free!  That's right, free.

This Saturday and Sunday 6/22 and 6/23, you can download a free copy of "Three to Get Ready" on Amazon. There's a link at the bottom of the page.  These three are my favorite short stories, written in the spirit of "The Twilight Zone", "Night Gallery" and "Tales of the Crypt" where you just know something strange is lurking right around the corner.  This collection also includes a glimpse of "Fade Away" one of my novels.  Here's a little bit about each story. Enjoy!


A motorcyclist races across the desert in an attempt to escape his past takes a detour through a bucolic town that could have been crafted by Norman Rockwell. But this quaint little village is not what it appears.


An old man struggles to retain the memories of a long life, but time is definitely not on his side. When he is summoned to the mysterious Kaliber mansion, his curiosity gets the better of him. But will he remember what’s waiting for him in time?


A small group of passengers wait for the connecting train at a rural railroad station. For most, it’s just a brief stop on their way to someplace bigger. But two anxiously wonder what forces are behind this place in the midst of nowhere.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Lapses of Memory.

Let me state right off the bat that I never win anything.  Well, let's make that rarely. Once I won five bucks on a lottery ticket, after buying twenty bucks worth of tickets. To consider me lucky is a stretch of the imagination. Yet every once in a while, the stars align, the tides turn, or whatever influences you like occur and I win something.  It's been a while since I could say that.

A few weeks ago, I happened upon a post from fellow writer M.S. Spencer, whose latest book, "Lapses of Memory" was out. Part of the story includes long distance airplane rides that occur over several decades. Spencer was asking readers to share memorable plane experiences.  I related about a time when a flight was delayed for several hours and when we finally took off, the young lady in the seat beside me dug her nails into my  forearm, mistaking it for the armrest on the seat. I must have gotten a laugh out of Spencer, for a few days later, I learned that I'd won a copy of the new book.

When the book arrived, I had no intention of reading it right away. But I liked the concept and wanted to take a peek. An hour later I was still reading. Although I was in the middle of another novel, I put that one back on the shelf. By the end of the weekend, I'd finished "Lapses of Memory".  It's a very well written story.  So after trading messages with M.S., I ended up writing a quick review. She put a few personal touches to it and posted it on her blog. Check out the link below.

Meanwhile I need to get back to work on the third Jamie Richmond mystery.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Guest spot: Jennifer Labelle

It's a pleasure to have Jennifer Labelle stop by today to promote her new release "Meant to Be"

Who Wants a FREE Book?
Have I got your attention yet? J
It’s my birthday week, and I’ve decided to give you all a present to help celebrate my 33rd this past Tuesday June, 4th. What better way than to have my very first release up for FREE on Amazon for the entire weekend! (June 7th, 8th, and 9th)
I’d like to thank everyone for joining me here, and I hope you enjoy it! *coughs* Don’t forget, I’m always up for some new reviews too. If you have the time that is, in the meantime please check out the blurb and excerpt below and get your very own copy today before time runs out! J Spread the word…

Book blurb:
Jenna Baker is shaken up after her recovery with a near death experience. As if, being haunted with visions and losing her husband in a car accident weren’t hard enough. Could she be losing her mind? She finally moves on, only to have the husband she thought was dead suddenly reappear.
 After the shocking task of convincing Jenna that she’s not seeing his ghost, Tyler becomes overwhelmed with guilt for saving himself and leaving her to almost die. Jenna’s recovery takes its toll while Tyler’s vulnerability gets the best of him. He’s harboring secrets that will devastate her and as Jenna unravels the truth her life takes an unexpected journey.

He smiled again, taking the last plate from her to dry and shook off the extra suds. Drips of water and soap suds flew through the air getting her wet in the process, and he laughed at her shocked expression.
    “Oh, really,” she said in the mood to play. Taking the sprayer hose from the faucet, she turned it on and gave him a squirt. She laughed, and it was his turn to pause in shock.
    She could tell by his expression that this meant war and made a run for it, laughing the whole way. She made it into the living room before he extended his arm to catch her, swooping her up as if she was feather light.
“Got ye.”
    They both laughed, but when she turned to face him, he became serious suddenly. She knew then that the games were over. He brushed a strand of hair from her face and pulled her towards him. Slowly moving his face closer, his eyes sparkled and completely absorbed hers.
    The kiss started out slow, and she wanted him to take his time with it. She held back a groan when his mouth pulled away and pulled him tighter against her. Her adrenaline pumped faster, and she could feel the warmth coursing throughout her body. There was no thinking twice about it; her desire consumed her.
     Pushing him against the wall, she kissed him hard, wanting him in that moment more than she’d ever wanted anything. She liked where this was going, liked being in control, needed it in that moment.
Placing her hands on his chest, she slowly moved them down his beautifully sculptured abs. “Stay,” she whispered, taking a step back so that he could watch as she unzipped her dress. It slowly slid to the floor exposing her bare breasts and the sexy black thong she wore. She kicked it out of the way, pulled his shirt off, and pressed herself against him again, flesh against flesh.


Author bio:

Author contact links:

Best wishes,
Jennifer Labelle

Free Copy of Fade Away

On Friday, June 7 and Saturday, June 8, you can get a free copy of my mystery thriller Fade Away on Amazon. There's a link at the bottom of the page.

Here's the story line and an excerpt. I hope you enjoy it.

Vincent Tyrell is trying to put his life together after being discharged from the Army.  With no place to call home, he takes a job doing security work at a chemical plant in Raleigh, North Carolina.  Just as he’s about to settle into a comfortable routine, a deadly explosion rips apart the night, leaving Tyrell badly injured.  The explosion was the result of an experiment that went terribly wrong. But the chemical blast has a strange effect on Tyrell’s body.  The authorities are searching for him, blaming him for the accident. He’s desperately trying to find the men responsible, to see if they have a cure or a way to reverse the process. A cross country chase ensues. Will he find them before it is too late, or will he just Fade Away?

"What about him?" Bookman pointed toward me.
Duggan looked down. "He's good as dead anyway. You want witnesses to what happened here?"
"Hell no."
"Then we leave him. C'mon, before this whole freaking place explodes."
I watched in horror as they went through the door.  The fire closed in, melting the building around me.
Somehow, I had to pull myself away. My hands worked and my arms could support most of my weight. My legs felt like overcooked pasta. The door was only ten feet from where I'd been thrown, one hundred and twenty inches. I could crawl that in no time.
This is exactly what I had: no time. The building was collapsing all around me. Ceiling beams and light fixtures kept crashing down from above. The firemen had pulled back, beyond the reach of the heat.
It took a minute to roll over and start crawling. Visions of jungle warfare kept snapping back into my brain. How many miles had I crawled through swamps and sewage elbows and knees propelling me along?  If I had enough time, I could probably figure it out.  But if I didn't get my ass in gear, it wouldn't matter. I had to move, get beyond those ten simple feet. Distraction always worked well in the past. By focusing my thoughts on something irrelevant, my body would take over the task at hand and get it done. Rock music was a favorite tool. I turned my brain to selecting the perfect tune for my predicament and my arms went to work. To the strains of "Burning Down the House" I started to crawl.
My legs dragged along behind me like two useless sticks of wood. It was up to my arms to get it done, and damned fast. I reached for anything to pull myself along, grasping the base of one of the few machines that remained upright. I pulled carefully, not wanting to topple it.  If it fell and blocked my path, I'd never get around it. If it landed on my back, I'd be dead anyway.
The machine wobbled but held as I inched forward. The heat was increasing. What the hell were these guys working with that could burn so damn hot?  The door was closer. Only nine feet to go. My hands and arms did it all.  Reaching, probing, and pulling me along. Blood continued to seep into my eyes, clouding my vision.
Eight feet to go.
My heart was racing with the increase of adrenalin. I paused long enough to wipe some of the clotting blood from my face. My sight improved slightly and I risked a glance at the back of the building. It looked like a Vietnam village after an air strike had been called in.
Fire shot through a gaping hole in the roof.  Dense smoke billowed up toward the rafters, obliterating everything three feet above the floor. Where the solemn row of machinery had stood was now a twisted pile of smoldering black iron. If this wasn't hell, it was as close as I wanted to be. I turned my head and resumed my crawl. Mentally I hit the replay button on my brain's MP3 player and cued up the song again.
Seven feet to go.
I had just gotten past the spot where the computer consoles had been when I sensed my time was up. Somewhere near the loading dock a large oxygen tank had been resting on a wheeled cart.  The heat finally passed its safety point.  I heard a muffled groan and saw the tank explode. It shredded like a grenade, sending most of the metal shrapnel rushing directly toward me.
My screams were drowned out by the roar of the fire. I covered my head with my arms and prepared to die.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

A quick review

Recently I was delighted to see the following review posted on The Consummate Reader's site.  If you haven't seen it yet, I thought I'd make it easy for you and just include a bit of it here. There's a link at the bottom if you want to see the whole review.

Meanwhile, after years of false starts and the best of intentions, I've finally finished the first draft on my novel about the serial killer. "Why 319" is the title and that is also the message the killer leaves, written in lipstick on the bathroom mirror of the different motel room number 319 where the victims are discovered.  While I'm reviewing, revising and editing this story, I'm going to post parts of this story periodically to get some feedback. Any comments, good or bad, are always welcome.  Now for the review.

I loooooooooove mystery thrillers. I am a long time fan of James Patterson and his cop/mystery books. I liked how this book had a bit of a Stephanie Plum and Castle feel to it. Jamie Richmond, lead heroine, sounds like my kind of buddy. Jamie likes to write and jumps from job to job and is a free spirit. Resourceful and clever, yet clumsy, she managed to get a book deal and an advance on her second book. With a criminal mystery thriller in mind, Jamie contacts her ex-step-father, who also happens to be the captain of the police force. While researching her a character role for her next book, Jamie witnesses a shooting that leaves her escort incapacitated and bleeding on the road. Captivated by the mystery of the shooter, Jamie begins an investigation of her own, but someone doesn't want her to figure it out.

The mystery behind the shooter was thrilling and kept me guessing until the end.  
This book had everything! Steamy sex scenes balanced with a sweet romance, crime, mystery, and fantastic plot lines. Overall I give this book a......

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Contemporary Romance Blog Hop Part Two

Welcome to my blog.  It’s a pleasure to have you here.  Secret Cravings Publishing has many talented authors in their group, working on a wide variety of genres. This weekend’s blog hop focuses on contemporary romances. That’s where I come in. While most of what I write are mysteries, I enjoy mixing in a bit of romance to keep the characters real.

My second novel with Secret Cravings Publishing was just released earlier this week. “Vanishing Act” is the sequel to my earlier novel, “Devious” and you’ll recognize some of the same main characters. Jamie Richmond, my heroine, is still enthralled with the attentions of the mysterious Malone.  The story opens just after Christmas when Jamie’s best friend, Linda Davis, makes her first appearance.  With plans for a romantic New Year’s Eve filled with dining and dancing, Jamie sets up Linda with a blind date that turns out to be more than she ever imagined. Soon Linda finds her captivated by her own budding romance, to the delight and confusion of Jamie. But Linda has captured someone else’s attention too. A stalker suddenly makes their presence known and Linda’s normal life is thrown into a tailspin. When she disappears without a trace on a snowy Saturday, the police are baffled. But Jamie is determined to figure out two important things, who took Linda and where she is, before it’s too late. 
At the heart of this story is romance. Here is an excerpt from the story. In this scene, Jamie and Linda are on their way home from exercise class when they decide to stop for coffee and a chance to catch up.
We pulled into a coffee shop that she likes to frequent. I got a slice of iced lemon loaf and a cup of tea. Linda got a vanilla coffee and a raspberry muffin. I waited until we were seated at a little table far from the doorway or anyone else.
“So are you going to tell me what’s going on, Algae? You’ve been beaming a thousand watt smile since you picked me up.”
I saw the color radiate on her cheeks. She lowered her eyes and took a sip of her coffee. I waited. Finally she drew a deep breath and raised her face.
“I think I’m in love,” she said quietly.
I sat back in amazement. This was the same woman, who, not three weeks ago, had sworn that they were just getting to know each other, just going to take it slow. Suddenly she was talking love. Before I could respond, she waved a hand at me.
“Just be quiet and listen, Jamie. I know that’s difficult for you, but please just hear me out.”
I tore a corner off the pastry and popped it into my mouth, then closed my eyes to savor the lemony sweetness, and let it dissolve on my tongue. I imagined this was how a sunbeam would taste. When it was gone, I opened my eyes and gazed at her. I extended my right hand and just looked at her.
“Vince came over last night. I wanted to cook for him, so I made shrimp with angel hair pasta. You know the way I do it, with mushrooms, red peppers and fresh parmesan cheese.”
My stomach growled. It’s one of her signature dishes. I started to comment but Linda waved me quiet.
“So we had some good, Italian wine, a white one that really went well with the pasta. I had the stereo on, something soft like Diana Krall and Van Morrison. After dinner, we moved to the sofa. The fire was lit and we only had one light on low. I had been in a bit of rush to get dinner ready when I came home from work, so I hadn’t bother to change.”
She paused to sip her coffee. I couldn’t keep quiet. “What were you wearing?”
“You know that turquoise sweater with the cowl neck?”
I nodded. It does magical things for her eyes.
That and a black, wool skirt, some stockings, and those black leather boots that come up to mid calf.”
Linda loves boots. She has several pairs and usually likes the ones with a two-inch heel. I knew exactly the outfit she was describing. It could stop traffic any time of the day or night. Like she couldn’t do that already! I waited for her to continue. She took another taste of her coffee, and then started talking quietly again.
“So we’re on the sofa, sitting there, just listening to the music. He had an arm draped over my shoulders. And I mentioned that I had to get out of my boots. My feet were starting to cramp. That’s when things got…different.”
I wasn’t sure I wanted to hear this, but there was no stopping her now. “What do you mean, different?” I asked.
“Vince told me to move to the other end of the sofa. Then he slowly unzipped my boots and pulled them off me. My legs were in his lap. He started to massage my feet, chasing away the aches and pains. Then he moved up to my ankles. And the whole time, he just kept talking, keeping his voice very low and soft.”
“What did he say?”
Linda shuddered with the memory. “He told me all of the things he was going to do to me, all the ways he wanted to please me.”
I pulled back the sleeve of her jacket. Her arm was covered in goose bumps. “Do you really want to tell me this, Linda?”
“I’ve got to tell you, Jamie, because I still can’t believe it happened. It was like I was hypnotized. He was in total control of me. I couldn’t even move.”
Somehow no words found their way out of my mouth. I just stared at her so she kept talking.
“I swear he touched on every fantasy, no matter how dark, I have ever considered. And the whole time, he just kept talking softly, massaging my legs. I thought I was melting from his charms on New Year’s Eve. That was nothing compared to last night. Jamie, by the time he finally undressed me, I was so far over the edge, I didn’t think I’d ever make it back.”
I would have never believed my good and kindly doctor would be capable of fulfilling all her fantasies. And even if I had, I could never have imagined how dark these fantasies would turn out to be.

Sounds interesting?  A little mystery wrapped in a little romance. Or maybe it’s the other way around.  If you’d like to win a copy of the eBook, just answer the following question.  Include your email address in your response so I can notify the winner.
                Today’s question: What is your favorite romantic movie? Name the characters and if possible, some memorable dialogue or action that occurs.
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