Frankie Y. Bailey – What the Fly Saw

This week, it’s my honor to host author, Frankie Y. Bailey.

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Frankie Y. Bailey is a professor in the School of Criminal Justice, University at Albany (SUNY).  Her areas of research are crime history, and crime and mass media/popular culture. She is the author of the Edgar-nominated Out of the Woodpile: Black Characters in Crime and Detective Fiction (Greenwood, 1991).  She is the co-editor (with Donna C. Hale) of Popular Culture, Crime, and Justice (Wadsworth, 1998).  She is the co-author (with Alice P. Green) of “Law Never Here”: A Social History of African American Responses to Issues of Crime and Justice (Praeger, 1999).  With Steven Chermak and Michelle Brown, she co-edited Media Representations of September 11 (Praeger, 2003).  She and Donna C. Hale are the co-authors of Blood on Her Hands: The Social Construction of Women, Sexuality, and Murder (Wadsworth, 2004).  She and Steven Chermak are the series editors of the five-volume set, Famous American Crimes and Trials (Praeger, 2004). They also co-edited the two-volume set Crimes of the Century (2007).

Frankie’s most recent non-fiction books are African American Mystery Writers: A Historical and Thematic Study (McFarland, 2008), nominated for Edgar, Anthony, and Agatha awards, winner of a Macavity award. She is the recipient of the George N. Dove Award (2010). With Alice P. Green, she is the author of Wicked Albany:  Lawlessness & Liquor in the Prohibition Era (The History Press, 2009) and Wicked Danville: Liquor and Lawlessness in a Southside Virginia City (The History Press, 2011).

Frankie’s mystery series features Southern criminal justice professor/crime historian Lizzie Stuart includes Death=s Favorite Child (Silver Dagger, 2000), A Dead Man=s Honor (Silver Dagger, 2001), Old Murders (Silver Dagger, 2003), You Should Have Died on Monday (Silver Dagger, 2007), and Forty Acres and a Soggy Grave (2011). A short story, “Since You Went Away” appears in the mystery anthology, Shades of Black (2004), edited by Eleanor Taylor Bland.  The Red Queen Dies (Minotaur Books/Thomas Dunne), the first book in Frankie’s near future police procedural series set in Albany, New York, featuring police detective Hannah McCabe, will be released in September 2013.

Frankie is a member of Sisters in Crime (SinC), Romance Writers of America (RWA), and Mystery Writers of America (MWA).  She served as the 2009-2010 Executive Vice President of MWA and as the 2011-2012 President of Sisters in Crime (SinC).

What the Fly Saw

When the Watcher Becomes the Watched

Albany, New York, January 2020

The morning after a blizzard that shut down the city, funeral director Kevin Novak is found dead in the basement of his funeral home. The arrow sticking out of his chest came from his own hunting bow. A loving husband and father and an active member of a local megachurch, Novak had no known enemies. His family and friends say he had been depressed because his best friend died suddenly of a heart attack and Novak blamed himself. But what does his guilt have to do with his death? Maybe nothing, maybe a lot. The minister of the megachurch, the psychiatrist who provides counseling to church members, or the folksy Southern medium who irritates both men—one of these people may know why Novak was murdered.  Detective Hannah McCabe and her partner, Mike Baxter, sort through lies and evasions to find the person who killed their “Cock Robin,” But McCabe is distracted by a political controversy involving her family, unanswered  questions from another high-profile case, and her own guilt when a young woman dies after McCabe fails to act.

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Twitter:  @FrankieYBailey

Amazon: What the Fly Saw

We’d love to hear from you, so please feel free to leave a comment.


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Jackie Minniti – Jacqueline

This week I’m hosting author, Jackie Minniti


Jackie is currently a columnist for The Island Reporter in St. Petersburg. She is a member of the Florida Writers Association, the Bay Area Professional Writers Guild, and the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. Several of her stories have been included in Chicken Soup for the Soul collections. She lives on Treasure Island with her husband, John, and two noisy macaws and enjoys reading, walking on the beach, boating, and visiting her three children and six grandchildren in New Jersey. Jackie has been a featured speaker at schools, book clubs, women’s clubs, and libraries and writes a blog featuring Florida writers ( can be reached through her website:


A Guest Post by Jackie Minniti

My father, now 99 years old, is a veteran of WWII. As a Baby Boomer, just one generation removed from that war, I thought I knew a lot about it. I was aware of the players – the Axis and the Allies; I was familiar with the names of the famous and infamous; I’d learned about Pearl Harbor, the Normandy invasion, and the Battle of the Bulge; I’d read about the Holocaust and had a sense of its horrors. But it wasn’t until I decided to write a book about a little French girl named Jacqueline that I truly understood the amazing contribution made by our Greatest Generation.

In 1944, four years before my birth, my dad was a handsome soldier with the 127th General Hospital. Shortly after D-Day, his unit arrived in Rennes, France to set up a military hospital. There he met Jacqueline, an inquisitive 10-year-old who took a liking to him.  She began following him from the barracks to the hospital and back again. While neither understood the other’s language, they learned to communicate by teaching one another a few words and phrases punctuated with exaggerated gestures. Soon, a beautiful friendship blossomed, and the tale of that friendship was the only war story my father was willing to share. He told it so often, sometimes with misty eyes, that it became a part of our family lore.

After I wrote my first book, Dad began “hinting” that I write one about Jacqueline. I explained to him that it wouldn’t have a large enough audience, and there wasn’t sufficient material for a book. A few years later, someone suggested that I write it as a middle grade novel because his 6th grade daughter knew nothing about WWII. I still don’t know why it never occurred to me to write the story for young readers, especially since I spent years teaching reading in middle school, but once I started looking at the story from that perspective, all my doubts disappeared.

Never having written historical fiction, I realized that I needed to learn a lot more about WWII. I plunged into the research, and the more I learned, the more I realized how little I actually knew. I learned about the grinding oppression imposed on the French by their Nazi occupiers. I read about the horrors visited upon the Jewish population of France. I was moved by the bravery of clergy members and everyday citizens who risked their lives to save their Jewish neighbors. But most of all, I was awed by the incredible bravery, selflessness and sacrifice of the American GIs.

Looking back at these young men and women from the perspective of a sixty-seven year old, I was struck by their youth, many away from home for the very first time. I was humbled by their willingness to risk their lives for the country and values they held dear. I was by astounded by the humility and fortitude with which they endured hardships only their fellow GIs could truly understand.  And I was blown away by their determination to stare evil in the face and vanquish it at any cost.

 I became committed to ensuring that young readers understand the price that was paid for their freedom. We lose hundreds of our WWII veterans each day, and their stories are disappearing with them. It’s essential to preserve these stories for future generations so kids will appreciate the sacrifices made by our military and realize how blessed they are to live in the Land of the Free. Today’s students lack a thorough understanding of American history, and what they don’t learn from history, they’re doomed to repeat. Jacqueline is my personal effort to keep that from happening, and I sincerely hope it will inspire young readers to appreciate what their great-grandparents did for them. We owe these disappearing warriors (and all our veterans) a debt we can never repay.

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When ten-year-old Jacqueline Falna hears her mother’s scream, she is unaware that the axis of her world is about to tilt. Her father’s plane has been shot down by German fighters. In the midst of poverty, food shortages, air raids, and the grinding hardship of daily life under Nazi rule, she forms an unlikely alliance with David Bergier, a twelve-year-old Jewish neighbor who poses as her cousin after his family is “relocated” by the Nazis. When Rennes is liberated, Jacqueline meets an American soldier and becomes convinced that he has been sent to reunite her with her father. Based on a true story, “Jacqueline” is a tale of family, faith, unusual friendships, and the resiliency of the human spirit set against the backdrop of occupied Rennes in 1944. With the drama of fiction and the authenticity of personal history, “Jacqueline” is both a story about family and a family’s story.

Jacqueline cover

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Skype: jackie.minniti

Jackie and I would love to hear from you so please feel free to leave a comment.

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M. E. May – Unscrupulous

This week, it’s my pleasure to welcome back one of my favorite authors,

M. E. May

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Michele (M.E.) May attended Indiana University in Kokomo, Indiana, studying Social and Behavioral Sciences. Her interest in the psychology of humans sparked the curiosity to ask why they commit such heinous acts upon one another. Other interests in such areas as criminology and forensics have moved her to put her vast imagination to work writing crime fiction that is as accurate as possible. In doing so, she depicts societal struggles that pit those who understand humanity with those who are lost in a strange and dangerous world of their own making.

In creating the Circle City Mystery Series, she brings to life fictional characters who work diligently to bring justice to victims of crime in the city of Indianapolis. Michele also hopes her readers will witness through her eyes, the wonderful city she calls her hometown.

 And the Moral Is…

As writers, we all want to entertain and provide stories people will enjoy. So, do we not also have a responsibility to provide some small lesson for human kind?

I suspect that some new authors don’t give a second thought to the moral their stories contain. Not until an interviewer asks them about it. When I wrote my first novel, Perfidy, it took a while for me to see how I’d woven the futility of revenge into it. Of course, it would be difficult to write police thrillers without including some truth and justice, and to show how my characters accomplish this against all odds.

Now that I’ve become a seasoned author of five published novels, I start with a theme which is often the moral of the story. In book two, I dealt with one of the terrible results of child abuse; in book three, the conflict between doing what’s right and trying to save a loved one no matter the consequences was studied; and book four takes a look at the destructive behaviors which can be the result of fanatical religious conflict.

The fifth novel in the Circle City Mystery series, Unscrupulous, takes on more than one complicated issue. The crime is human trafficking of children. This in itself is horrendous enough to consider; however, the theme lies in how three children never give up on the idea they will survive and find a way back home, and of the determination of the police to save them.

Of course, as I have done in most of my novels, there are many other sub-themes mixed in with the personal lives of these detectives. In Unscrupulous, Sergeant Brent Freeman is lead detective and in the midst of this stressful case, he has to deal with the destructive emotion of jealousy.

Throughout the series, we watch as detectives deal with their families, colleagues, lovers, and friends. Lessons can be learned as we watch each character grow or fall—willing them to get back on track and try again.

I believe we need to show our characters as people. They need to have faults, values, and the ability to change as they live life’s lessons. I can truly speak for myself when I say that as a young twenty-something, I thought I had everything figured out. In the many years since that time, I have discovered that not all is black and white. I need for my characters to do the same. Their experiences must move them to the next level. Whether they move in a positive or negative direction will show readers a particular character’s strength.

To new authors, I would say, please keep your characters human. Never make your “good guy” too pure and perfect or make your “bad guy” so evil that a redeeming quality can’t be spotted. Human beings aren’t like this. You want to keep your readers’ attention and have them coming back for more. Readers must have a sense that a character can change or they will get bored.


Christmas is only a week away, but not all is merry and bright for Sergeant Brent Freeman and his partner, newly promoted Detective Anne Samuels. They find themselves facing more than a homicide when they discover the victim’s five-year-old daughter, Maricella, is missing.

When suspicion moves to human trafficking and gang involvement, the FBI sends in two of their best to assist in the investigation. In the meantime, two people who insist her mother didn’t want her anymore have transported a terrified little Maricella out of state. Fortunately, she finds solace in two older children. These two soon realize their captors are prepping Maricella for organ harvesting. Their main goal becomes to protect her at any cost, even if it means running away in the snow and bitter cold temperatures of December without any knowledge of the area where they’re being held. Can Maricella’s newfound protectors get her out of the house and to safety before the doctor decides she’s a transplant match? Will Brent discover where these unscrupulous persons are hiding the children before it’s too late?



Other titles by M.E. May:

Perfidy (Circle City Mystery, Book 1) – winner of the 2013 Lovey award for Best First Novel

Inconspicuous (Circle City Mystery, Book 2) – nominee for the 2014 Lovey award for Best Suspense novel

Ensconced (Circle City Mystery, Book 3)

Purged (Circle City Mystery, Book 4)

Learn more about Michele at

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Twitter:  @memayauthor

Amazon buy link – Unscrupulous:

Michele and I would love to hear from you so please feel free to leave a comment.

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Recap of 2015


2015 was another interesting year for me as an author, and as the host of a writer’s blog.

As an author, I didn’t have a new book released. But the contract ended for my mystery novel, Love, Lies and Murder with Wings ePress, and I didn’t renew it. Now I’m working on rewriting it. I hope to have the new version released sometime in January, 2016.

I was on two author panels at the Love Is Murder Writers Conference in February, where my latest mystery, Once Upon a Crime was nominated for the Lovey Award for best romantic suspense novel. Unfortunately, it didn’t win.

I’m sad to announce that after this year, all future Love Is Murder conferences have been cancelled. It was fun. I met a lot, and befriended some, of the great mystery authors who have attended the conferences over the years. It had a great run while it lasted. It will be missed.

As a blogger, I introduced many new and talented writers, and welcomed back some old friends. I’ve read and reviewed many of the novels that were featured.

I’d like to give all my guest authors a heartfelt thank you for being on my blog. As a bonus, I’m going to “tweet” each of your blog posts every day until the end of the year.

Here is a list of the awesome authors, and their wonderful novels, who appeared in 2015:

Sharon Love Cook – A Deadly Christmas Carol

Kevin Richardson – What If?

Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli – Snoop to Nuts

Patricia Gligor – Desperate Deeds, Unfinished Business, Mixed Messages & Mistaken Identity

Ralph Horner – Midnight Mist

EM Kaplan – Dim Sum, Dead Some

Jeannette de Beauvoir – Asylum

Marcia Meara – A Boy Named Rabbit  & Finding Hunter

Anne Rothman Hicks and Kenneth Hicks – Praise Her, Praise Diana

Dr. Betty Jean Craige – Downstream

F.M. Meredith – Violent Departures

Penny Peterson – Roses Are Dead My Love

Jan Christensen – A Broken Life: A Lighter-Side Mystery

Peggy Hanson – Deadline Yemen

Suzanne Burke – Logan & The Mystical Collar

L. Nahay – Red Moonglow on Snow

Jeanne Meeks – Gator Bait

Jackie Taylor Zortman – Footprints in the Frost

Marilyn Meredith – Not As It Seems

Cheryl Hallon – Pane and Suffering

M. E. May – Purged

Maggie Kast – A Free, Unsullied Land

Gerri Ferris Finger – Running with Wild Blood

Patricia Skalka – Death at Gills Rock

Carl Brookins – The Case of the Yellow Diamond

Anna Celeste Burke – Cowabunga Christmas

Jane Risdon – Wishing on a Star/Merry Christmas Everybody 

As always, I’d love to hear from you, so please feel free to leave a comment.

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Patricia Skalka – Death at Gills Rock


It’s mid-December, and  this week I’m welcoming mystery author, Patricia Skalka


A lifelong Chicagoan, Patricia Skalka is a former Reader’s Digest Staff Writer and award-winning freelancer, as well as one-time magazine editor, ghost writer and writing instructor.  Her nonfiction book credits include Nurses On Our Own, the true-story of two pioneering, local nurse practitioners.

Death at Gills Rock

After tracking a clever killer in Death Stalks Door County, park ranger and former Chicago homicide detective Dave Cubiak is elected Door County sheriff. His newest challenge arrives as spring brings not new life but tragic death to the isolated fishing village of Gills Rock. Three prominent World War II veterans who are about to be honored for their military heroics die from carbon monoxide poisoning during a weekly card game. Blame falls to a faulty heater but Cubiak puzzles over details. When one of the widows receives a message claiming the men “got what they deserved,” he realizes that there may be more to the deaths than a simple accident.

Investigating, Cubiak discovers that the men’s veneer of success and respectability hides a trail of lies and betrayal that stems from a single, desperate act of treachery and eventually spreads a web of deceit across the peninsula. In a dark, moody tale that spans more than half a century, Cubiak encounters a host of suspects with motives for murder. Amid broken dreams, corruption, and loss, he sorts out the truth. Death at Gills Rock is the second book in Patricia Skalka’s Dave Cubiak Door County Mystery series.





“Death at Gills Rock is a well-wrought, tightly plotted police procedural with a nuanced, brooding detective, set on the gorgeous lakefront of a frigid Wisconsin peninsula.”

—Hallie Ephron, New York Times best-selling author of Night Night, Sleep Tight

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Twitter: @PatriciaSkalka

Patricia and I would love to hear from you, so please feel free to leave a comment.


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Carl Brookins – The Case of the Yellow Diamond


Today, I’m pleased to host author, Carl Brookins

2009Carl Brookins

You may recognize Carl as a member of the popular Minnesota Crime Wave group of authors, but he’s also incredibly entertaining on his own. Carl is a man who wears many hats – all of them intriguing.

Before he became a mystery writer and reviewer, Carl Brookins was a counselor and faculty member at Metropolitan State University in Saint Paul, Minnesota. Brookins and his wife are avid recreational sailors. He is a member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and Private Eye Writers of America. He can frequently be found touring bookstores and libraries with his companions-in-crime, The Minnesota Crime Wave.

He writes the sailing adventure series featuring Michael Tanner and Mary Whitney. The third novel is Old Silver. His new private investigator series features Sean NMI Sean, a short P.I. The first is titled The Case of the Greedy Lawyers. Brookins received a liberal arts degree from the University of Minnesota and studied for a MA in Communications at Michigan State University.

The Case of the Yellow Diamond

A dead man on the floor of his office in Minneapolis won’t lead P.I. Sean Sean to journey to Yap Island to protect his new client. Bombs in lawyers’ cars only jostle him. This short investigator knows the value of research and asking questions in the right places. World War II, Asian diamonds and concrete in Des Moines combine to almost destroy a Minnesota family. In the end, Sean detects flaws in the plans and brings down a criminal enterprise.

thecase of the yellow diamond


The Case of the Yellow Diamond  is available on Amazon:

Come and enjoy a time of conversation with author Carl Brookins as he talks about translating his sailing adventures to fiction and creating fictional characters that feel like old friends. Brookins is a member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and Private Eye Writers of America. He can frequently be found touring bookstores and libraries with his companions-in-crime, The Minnesota Crime Wave.

Carl and I would love to hear from you, so please feel free to leave a comment.


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Jane Risdon – Wishing on a Star/Merry Christmas Everybody

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On this second week of December, I’m welcoming author, Jane Risdon.


Jane Risdon has spent most of her life in the International Music Industry. Married to a musician, with whom she eventually went into artist management, working with recording artists, song-writers and record producers, they’ve traveled and lived all over the world, including Hollywood, where they also provided soundtracks for TV series and Movies.

 She worked at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, when younger, garnering fascinating experiences which she’s utilizing in her writing. Jane writes mainly crime, though ventures into other genres when the story dictates, and she’s had several short stories published in various anthologies, including ‘In A Word: Murder’ published by Margot Kinberg in 2013.  She has contributed to ‘Shiver’ and ‘Wishing on a Star’ for her publishers, Accent Press, with whom she signed in 2014.

At present she is working hard on her crime series, ‘Ms Birdsong Investigates,’ which features a former MI5 officer who finds herself embroiled with Russian Oligarchs, People Traffickers and Ukrainian gun runners, after she ‘voluntarily’ retires. Jane plans to have this series completed and published in later 2016.

Wishing On a Star

Christmas comes but once a year … so get into the mood with this fantastic feast of festive tales from Accent Press! With some brilliant short stories from best-selling authors, there’s something for everyone: Yuletide laughs from Christina Jones and Tricia Maw, an Edwardian Advent from Caroline Dunford, some Christmas criminality from Bill Kitson and Marsali Taylor, and heart-warming episodes from Jane Wenham-Jones, Jane Risdon, and Jane Jackson, ’tis the season for jolly good reading!

Merry Christmas Everybody by Jane Risdon is based upon true events in a recording studio during the 1989 Christmas Period.

Twister are in the studio over Christmas recording their long awaited follow-up album. There are tensions in the studio with the band members at each other’s throats, and someone is messing with their recordings.  The band blames their super-star producer, whom they dislike, but whose name on the album will bring mega global sales. But it soon becomes clear that someone unexpected is trying to get a message of festive goodwill to them, but will it be too late to prevent violence flaring.

Excerpt from Merry Christmas Everybody by Jane Risdon

(From Wishing on a Star)

The track faded and no-one spoke; the only sound came from the creak of the recording engineer’s chair as it thudded upright from its reclined position where he had been leaning back, eyes closed, listening hard to the rough mix from the night before.

The others in the room jumped at the sudden noise but their eyes never left the huge monitors above the desk. At last Jonty, lead guitarist and leader of the band, said, ‘So you’re saying you haven’t been messing around with the track and you’re not having us on; right, Buff?’ He walked to the mixing desk and turned, resting against the leather padding, unlit cigarette hanging from the corner of his mouth. He crossed his long thin legs. ‘So, like, what’s the deal then?’

Buff swivelled his chair to face the rest of Twister, who were seated along the back of the studio wall, mugs of tea untouched. He glared at them, finally focusing on Gary. ‘I told you, I don’t know. I can’t explain it. I haven’t touched the mix since we finished last night and as far as I know, no-one else has been in here. Unless one of you is responsible – playing silly buggers – sodding time-wasting wind-up merchant.’


Jane has also published flash fiction stories, with pod-casts, and had her work used by a Canadian Voice over Actor or his CV and published on YouTube.  She writes a regular blog and has an Amazon Author Page with links where her books can be purchased.

Amazon Author Page:

Accent Press:

Janes Blog is:



Writing with award-winning author, Christina Jones – a friend from her music days – their novel, ‘Only One Woman,’ inspired their time in the late 1960s music scene, is due for publication by Accent Press in February 2016.

I will be happy to welcome Jane back, along with Christina Jones, as my guest authors when their new novel, Only One Woman, is released in February.


We would love to hear from you, so please feel free to leave a comment.

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Anna Celeste Burke – Cowabunga Christmas

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 On the first day of December, I’m welcoming back author, Anna Celeste Burke

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Life is an extravaganza! Figuring out how to hang tough and make the most of the wild ride is the challenge. On my way to Oahu, to join the rock musician and high school drop-out I had married in Tijuana, I was nabbed as a runaway. Eventually the police let me go, but the rock band broke up. Our next stop: Disney World, where we trained to be chefs. More education landed us in academia at The Ohio State University. For decades I researched, wrote, and spoke about a number of gloriously nerdy topics. Retired now, I’m still married to the same, sweet, guy and live with him near Palm Springs, California. I write mysteries set in sunny California! The Jessica Huntington Desert Cities Mystery series set here in the Coachella Valley and the Corsario Cove Cozy Mystery Series set in California’s Central Coast. Coming Soon: The Misadventures of Betsy Stark, also set in and around Palm Springs.

Cowabunga Christmas

“Are you telling us we’ve got a dead Santa on our hands?”

It’s a Cowabunga Christmas in Corsario Cove for newlyweds, Kim and Brien. Surf’s up at the exclusive resort they’ve chosen as their honeymoon destination. The Sanctuary Resort and Spa at Corsario Cove has everything: a spectacular location with scenic views of the Pacific Ocean, luxurious accommodations, 5-star cuisine, spa services, and a staff that aims to anticipate and meet your every need.

A romantic midnight swim in the Club Level terrace pool changes everything when an unexpected guest drops in wearing a Santa Suit with a couple bullet holes in it! Who killed Santa? Kim and Brien are soon swept up in murder and mayhem trying to unravel the mystery.

Here is an excerpt:

“I thought it might interest you to know that the guy we found in the pool was probably dead before he hit the water. He had been beaten to a pulp, and there were also a couple bullet holes in the Santa suit he had on. We won’t know cause of death for sure until the autopsy is complete, but the coroner’s almost certain the gunshots did it.”

“Are you telling us we’ve got a dead Santa on our hands?” I asked, in utter disbelief.

“Who would want to kill Santa?” Brien added, with an incredulous tone in his voice.

“Hold on, hold on. You have told him there’s not really a Santa, right?” I did not hide the rolling of my eyes this time.

“That’s not what he means, Detective. Who would want to kill this Santa—or any guy in a Santa suit for that matter? Have you and your crack team made the rounds, banging on doors to rooms above that pool? Besides ours, I mean—even though our room isn’t even directly over the pool. Whoever beat up Santa and shot him must have shoved him off one of them once Santa was dead, or nearly dead…whatever.”

“I agree with Kim, Detective. I bet that’s where you’ll find the crime scene you’ve been searching for—one of the rooms directly above the pool.” Brien was almost officious in addressing the detective, nodding his head up and down—a man in the know.

“Thanks for telling me how to do my job. We’re doing exactly that. We haven’t quite worked out the physics surrounding how far he fell given the shape his body was in, or which of the rooms would have provided the right launch trajectory. In the meantime, we’ve stopped maid service and we’re working our way through the rooms, floor by floor. By the way, I did catch that bit about ‘we’ve got a dead Santa on our hands,’ Ms. Reed-Williams. There’s no ‘we’ about this—I’ve got a dead Santa on my hands and I… ” he suddenly realized how ridiculous that sounded. I cut him off.


My ✰✰✰✰✰ Review

Surf’s Up!

All newlyweds, Kim and Brien Williams, want is a relaxing honeymoon at their glamorous 5-star hotel, and to get in some great surfing But life has other plans for the young couple. They soon find themselves in the middle of a murder investigation when circumstantial evidence links them to a man dressed as Santa, who is found dead in the hotel swimming pool.

Likable characters, fast-paced writing, and an interesting story make this book a delight to read. Well done Ms. Burke.

Join Anna Celeste Burke at…




BLOG PAGE:               !blog/c1dh1



Book Links:

Cowabunga Christmas! Corsario Cove Cozy Mystery 1 @

Jessica Huntington Desert Cities Mystery Series, Books 1-3 @

Love a Foot Above the Ground, Prequel to Jessica Huntington Series @

We’d love to hear from you, so please feel free to leave a comment. And when you do, you’ll automatically be entered to win a copy of Cowabunga Christmas to get you into the holiday spirit. 





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Maggie Kast – A Free, Unsullied Land

Today I’m hosting author, Maggie Kast

Maggie Kast

Maggie Kast is the author of The Crack between the Worlds: a dancer’s memoir of loss, faith and family, published by Wipf and Stock. She received an M.F.A. in writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts and has published fiction in The Sun, Nimrod, Carve, Paper Street and others.

A chapter of her memoir, published in ACM/Another Chicago Magazine, won a Literary Award from the Illinois Arts Council and a Pushcart nomination. A story published in Rosebud and judged by Ursula Leguin won an Honorable Mention in their fantasy fiction contest.

Kast’s essays have appeared in America, Image, Writer’s Chronicle and elsewhere. Her first novel, A Free, Unsullied Land, is forthcoming from Fomite Press in November 2015. An excerpted story, “The Hate that Chills,” won 3rd prize in the Hackney Literary Contests and is forthcoming in the Birmingham Arts Journal.

When Is Fiction Fact?

The firm line between fact and fiction is a feature of our time, but it wasn’t always so. While researching my new novel, A Free, Unsullied Land, I read books published in the 1930s, the time of my story. Among them was Lilo Linke’s Restless Days: a German Girl’s Autobiography.

Most reviewers read it as a document of life in Germany at the time. It describes extreme inflation and hunger during the years preceding Hitler’s rise to power, the author’s rejection of Nazi ideology and her travels with the young people’s outdoor organization called Wandervogel. But no one questions whether Linke made things up. The German Wikipedia page calls the book a Schlüsselroman or key novel. In English we name this genre using French, roman à clef, meaning a novel about real life overlaid with a façade of fiction. The key is the relationship between fact and fiction.

So is Restless Days true, and why does it matter? It’s hard, maybe impossible, to say where fact gives way to fiction in this book. Creative non-fiction has only recently been recognized as a genre, and its rules, namely “You can’t make this stuff up,” were not important to Lilo Linke’s readers. Some modern non-fiction writers, like Lauren Slater in her memoir Lying: a Metaphorical Memoir choose to ignore the rules and rely on metaphor rather than fact to make meaning.Lying I love the book and share it’s sense of truth revealed in metaphor, but I also share today’s desire to know what’s actual. And when I write I follow the rules as best I can. My memoir, The Crack between the Worlds: a dancer’s memoir of loss, faith and family, tells only what actually happened.

Fact plays a role in fiction as well, though not the way one might expect. Including an event in a story “because it happened” is the worst possible justification. Events must be believable, not true; like the actual world (verisimilar) but not themselves actual. But when stories are based on historical events, I find it thrilling to see the evidence, like photos of the people on whom characters are based.

In a historical novel like mine verisimilitude is especially challenging. I needed to get the smell and feel and sounds and tastes of the ‘30s in Chicago and I wanted my characters immersed in the historical events of the period, like the unfair trials and convictions of the so-called Scottsboro Boys. I wanted them to meet historical characters like W.E.B. Dubois.WEBDubois

Why my interest in the ‘30s? My mother died in 2003 and her saved letters came to me, most written in that time. In them I discovered a young woman I never knew, a bright, sassy, irreverent girl who drank in speakeasies, flirted with professors and galloped on horseback across the New Mexican desert. (Don’t look for that event in the book. Like so much that really happened, it had to be slashed.) In actuality that girl tamed herself to become my responsible mother. I wanted to give her a fictional life on the page, to take her on adventures she would never have dared, to reveal secrets she would never have spoken. Henriette Greenberg, my protagonist, is compounded of me, people of the period, people I’ve known, and people of whom I’ve dreamed. She is not my mother, and her adventures are entirely invented. I’ve described well-known places as accurately as I could, and I’ve searched for actual words spoken by the historical figures I’ve used. And occasionally, when the words in my mother’s letters were too deliciously expressive of both her gifts and burdens, I stole them word for word.

 Unsullied Land Cover 8-11-2015a

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Gerri Ferris Finger – Running with Wild Blood

My guest mystery author this week is Gerri Ferris Finger



Gerrie Ferris Finger is a retired journalist and author of several novels, six published in the Moriah Dru/Richard Lake series: The End Game, The Last Temptation, The Devil Laughed, Murmurs of Insanity, Running with Wild Blood and American Nights to be released May 18, 2016.  Ms. Finger lives on the coast of Georgia with her husband, Alan, and their standard poodle, Bogey.

The Moriah Dru/Richard Lake Series

I had been retired from journalism and writing another series for a few years when I read a Jack Reacher novel by Lee Child. Now let’s just say Reacher is so much larger than life, he’s on a physical plane all by himself. That caused me to search my brain for a woman in a series that was like Reacher. There may be a few, but lacking female Reachers in my reading, I created Moriah Dru.

Dru, a tall good-looking woman, began her career as a policewoman on the fast track at the Atlanta Police Department. She was approved for a slot at the FBI’s National Academy and takes the Yellow Brick Road challenge. Her prowess under the harshest conditions earned her a coveted Marine Corps’ yellow brick.

Back in Atlanta, she was partnered with Lieutenant Richard Lake. He was divorced, and they become lovers. When he was promoted, she got stuck with some unlovely partners who thought they should she share her bed, too. Not going to happen. Her good friend, a juvenile judge, urged her to leave the force and start Child Trace, a specialty child-finding private detective agency. In The End Game she is challenged to find two abducted sisters bound for the sex slave trade in Central America. With Lake’s help, they succeed. That book won the St. Martin’s Minotaur Best First Novel.

As her story progressed in the now five-book series, Dru’s self-defense skills, including expertise in martial arts, shooting, and out-thinking the bad guys, increased. My editor figured out which fictional character she is most like: Emma Peel of the original British “The Avengers” series on television.


One time I rode on a Harley Davidson. Just that once. At eighty m.p.h. I like to be enclosed. But I have to admit I have been fascinated with motorcycles and a culture created by generations of men hungering for the unencumbered wild life. Not all clubs (never gangs) are of the outlaw bent, but Wild Blood is.

A couple of years ago, my husband and I were on the highway from hell—I-95 from Georgia to Florida—and a string of bikes flew past us. (My husband is no slouch when it comes to speed.) That’s when the idea of writing a Moriah Dru/Richard Lake thriller/mystery that would feature a biker club came to me.

It’s so easy to connect murder with an outlaw club, but more than that, in Running With Wild Blood I was able to explore the mystique and romance of the culture. I learned many arcane things from my sources—shared by those who knew bikers, including outlaws

In my reporter days I met several scruffy-looking bikers at Bike Week in Myrtle Beach, S. C. They were the spokesmen (no women)—the front men or hail-fellows of the clubs. In the last few decades, the big national clubs have campaigned to clean up their image by sponsoring charitable bike events in places where they are welcome. In winter, Florida seems to be a magnet for Bike Weeks. Who doesn’t want to get the cold north wind out of their face?

While Running with Wild Blood reflects biker practices and traditions (including those with hearts-of-gold), the book centers on the heinous murder of an adventurous teenage girl and her missing friend. The Wild Blood Club is accused. After looking into the cold case, Dru has doubts about the club’s involvement. To clear them, if they can be cleared, Dru and Lake ride Lake’s Harley to a Florida Bike Week with Wild Blood. To be sure, the culture of cop and biker creates a lot of tension. Who would bet that hell wouldn’t break loose when another murder occurs?


My best to readers and riders alike!

You can find more information about Gerrie Ferris Finger and her novels at:


Gerri and I would love to hear from you so please feel free to leave a comment.



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