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

This week, I’d like to welcome back authors, Anne Rothman Hicks and Kenneth Hicks.

Melange pic 2

Anne Rothman-Hicks and Kenneth Hicks have been married for a little over forty years and have produced about twenty books and exactly three children so far.

Their most recent novels—including PRAISE HER, PRAISE DIANA (Melange Books 2014)— have been set in New York City, where they have lived for most of their married lives. Anne is a graduate of Bryn Mawr College where, in nineteen sixty-nine, as the fabled Sixties were drawing to a close, she met Ken, who was a student at Haverford College. They don’t like to admit that they met at a college mixer, but there it is!

Their other novels set in New York include MIND ME, MILADY (Barbarian Books 2013) and KATE AND THE KID (Wings ePress 3013) and a middle reader/tween novel, THINGS ARE NOT WHAT THEY SEEM (MuseItUp Publishing 2014).  Other of their books include THEFT OF THE SHROUD, a novel; STARFINDER, a non-fiction book about the stars for children; and a series of books on individual names for children (for example Michael’s Book, Elizabeth’s Book, John’s Book, Jennifer’s Book, David’s Book, Amy’s Book.

                           Praise Her, Praise Diana

Call it life imitating art—author Maggie Edwards publishes a chapter of a book detailing seduction, murder and castration by a protagonist named Diana, and suddenly a woman code-named Diana begins to mimic her actions in real time. Women who have been abused find Diana to be an inspirational figure, and begin to fight back in her name. Soon violence erupting throughout New York City threatens to spiral out of control. As the police try desperately to identify Diana, Maggie’s high-powered lawyer, Jane Larson, finds herself at the center of an investigation that threatens to upend the entire world around her.

DIANA

Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Diana. You may have heard of me. The Huntress. Goddess of the moon. Beloved of virgins. Never been kissed.

So anyway, I met this guy in a bar near his apartment in New York City. He thought it was by chance—two people locking gazes across a crowded room. I knew better.

It was a dark, dirty place filled with the smell of all the stale beer that had been spilled onto the wooden floor over the course of a half-century or so. When I arrived, his eyes were already bright from several drafts, although he probably would have fought you if you told him he was drunk. He liked to fight. He played rugby just for the fun of hitting people and being hit, and wore his cuts and bruises like trophies.

All the same, he had a surprisingly engaging smile, marred slightly by a cap on one of his front teeth that didn’t quite match the rest. Too bad. His hair was brown and medium length. Slightly tousled, it fell in a cascade over his forehead. His skin was very white, nearly blemish-free, except for a swath of freckles across his nose and cheeks that added to his boyish appearance. You would have liked him at first. I’m sure of that.

He patted the seat next to him at the far end of the bar and bought me a drink. I was wearing a short skirt, high leather boots, and no stockings. A long down jacket was draped over my shoulders like a cape, reaching to the floor. He looked me up and down without apology, weaving this way and that, just a little unsteady on the barstool. He liked what he saw, apparently. With all the beer that had passed his lips that night, he didn’t notice I was wearing a blond wig. I was also wearing my blue contacts. He didn’t notice that either.

He told me a joke about dumb blonds and his hand slapped me on the naked part of my thigh as I pretended to laugh. A minute later, his hand returned to the same spot, tweaking me a little higher up the inside of my leg, like a mischievous child who is sure his antics will be forgiven. I pushed his hand away and he started describing his job and his boss, and I remember thinking, ‘I don’t care about your life, tooth-boy.’ And then there was that hand again, creeping upward along my thigh, and he was chattering away and grinning roguishly at me as though that five-fingered appendage was operating independently of the rest of him, finding its own way in the world.

“What’s with the coat,” he asked me.

I moved my shoulders as if I were shivering.

“I’m cold,” I said, hunching over the bar and pulling my arms together. This had the effect of pressing my breasts upward against the unbuttoned top of my shirt. His eyes were glued to that triangle of soft, inviting flesh. There was no subtlety in him.

“I could warm you up,” tooth-boy said, obviously proud of his wit.

“I’ll bet you could,” I said, and stood up.

The air was cool and the pale clouds of our breath were caught by a light wind and dispersed as we walked down a deserted side street, westward into a neighborhood of small buildings, passing a row of worn brownstone stoops that extended onto the pavement. I had put on my down coat with its neutral unmemorable color, and I now had a similarly nondescript knitted cap pulled low over my ears. I liked the anonymity of it—the sense that a person passing would see just a slightly drunk guy leading a girl to his apartment and that, if anyone were asked, no essential part of me would stand out to be described.

His arm was around my waist, and he leaned against me to steady himself as we walked. At one point he stopped and pulled me to him, kissing me with his open mouth and wet lips and thick rancid beer breath. His left hand pawed at the front of me but couldn’t get past the armor of my coat. “Not here, you animal,” I said to him and he laughed because he thought I was joking.

We lumbered along, trying to match our steps. There was no one on the street but an occasional rat skittering among the garbage cans. Soon we turned up the front stairs to his building and through the dingy foyer with its soiled carpeting and then up one flight where he struggled to get his key in the lock. Here I thought that if I wanted to leave I should do it now. Once I got inside, I knew I would not be able to stop myself. I was already thinking about a certain sunny meadow off a winding backcountry road on a beautiful spring day—the first really warm day of the year—and what was taken from me.

Diana Cover

Ken and Anne have a website (www.randh71productions.com) and a blog (www.randh71productions.com/blog) with the addresses as shown. In case you were wondering about the website address, “R” is for Rothman, “H” is for Hicks, and 71 is the year of their marriage. No secret codes or numerology anywhere.

I’m sure Ken and Anne would love to hear from you, so please feel free to leave a comment.

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Sally Carpenter – The Cunning Cruise Ship Caper

This week, I’m happy to host author, Sally Carpenter

Carpenter photo

Sally Carpenter is native Hoosier now living in Moorpark, Calif

She has a master’s degree in theater from Indiana State University. While in school her plays “Star Collector” and “Common Ground” were finalists in the American College Theater Festival One-Act Playwrighting Competition. “Common Ground” also earned a college creative writing award and “Star Collector” was produced in New York City.

Carpenter also has a master’s degree in theology and a black belt in tae kwon do.

She’s worked as an actress, freelance writer, college writing instructor, theater critic, jail chaplain, and tour guide/page for a major movie studio. She’s now employed at a community newspaper.

The Sandy Fairfax Teen Idol series is comprised of: “The Baffled Beatlemaniac Caper,” a 2012 Eureka! Award finalist for best first mystery novel; “The Sinister Sitcom Caper” and “The Cunning Cruise Ship Caper.”

Her short stories are: “Dark Nights at the Deluxe Drive-in,” in the 2013 anthology “Last Exit to Murder”; “Faster Than a Speeding Bullet” in the “Plan B: Omnibus” anthology; and “The Pie-eyed Spy” in the Nov. 23, 2013, issue of Kings River Life ezine.

She blogs at http://sandyfairfaxauthor.com.

She’s a member of Sisters in Crime/Los Angeles chapter. Contact her at Facebook or scwriter@earthlink.net.

The Cunning Cruise Ship Caper

Former ’70s teen idol Sandy Fairfax finds that making a comeback can be murder. Now he’s 38 years old and offered a gig aboard the SS Zodiac for a week-long cruise to the Bahamas. He asks his estranged sister, Celeste, who is blind, to perform with him. Celeste, also a musician, is angry at Sandy that he did not use his fame to promote her career years ago. They reconcile but there’s no smooth sailing aboard the ship. During a show Sandy finds one of the other shipboard performers in his dressing room, strangled with one of his scarfs. Soon he’s grilling potential suspects, including a burnt-out piano bar player, a Southern-fried magician, a blackmail victim, a ventriloquist with a sassy dummy and even a former flame. Will Sandy unmask the culprit before he sinks to the bottom of the Nassau harbor?

Here is an excerpt:

Sis turned off the Yamaha and we took the elevator up a level to the Nocturnal Deck, home of the Gemini Café and Bar. In honor of its name, the little restaurant had two molded plastic chairs on each side of the square tables and a pair of waitresses served each guest. At this time of day, the clientele consisted of mostly older adults in quiet conversation with their table mates—the young families and kids were no doubt by the pool. To my irritation, though, every table was occupied.

“Looks like we’ll have to eat in the dining room,” Cinnamon said.

“If we do, I’ll have to go and change clothes,” I said. That would waste precious time and Garvin might show up by then.

“Sandy, is that man waving at you?”

Sure enough, the occupant by the back wall was signaling for us to join him. Aaron sat by himself at a table. No, not really alone—Moze was perched on his knee.

“Who is that?” Cinny asked. “Is that someone you know?”

“Yes, I’m afraid so.” I said.

I wasn’t keen on having lunch with this guy and his doll, but maybe Cinny and I could eat quickly and finally be on our way together. So we sat, Sis on my right (we used this seating pattern at the home dinner table so my left arm wouldn’t bump her as I ate), Aaron—with Moze—directly across the table from me, and Cinny next to him. The ventriloquist was halfway through his shrimp salad. I could swear that Moze gave me the evil eye as I sat down—that’s eye, singular, because one of the sockets in his face was empty.

The dummy turned his head toward Cinnamon. “Hubba hubba! This must be the tasty dish I ordered!”

Cinny, understandably, pulled back and stared at the doll. “What is that?”

I said, “Ladies, let me introduce Aaron Goldstein. He does a ventriloquist act on the ship. And that’s Moze. This is Cinnamon Lovett, my choreographer, and Celeste Farmington, my sister.”

“Hi, everyone,” Aaron said. “Thanks for joining me. On these cruises it gets tedious to eat alone every day.”

“Alone!” Moze exclaimed. “What am I, sawdust? I’m your best buddy. And why do you want to associate with these lowlifes anyway?”

“I beg your pardon!” Sis said.

Aaron forced a smile. “Don’t mind Moze. He’s always joking.”

“And Aaron boy isn’t,” the dummy replied. “Especially when he’s on stage.”

Sis whispered in my good ear, “Why is that man so rude?”

“He’s a dummy.”

“I know that, but why—”

“He’s a ventriloquist’s dummy.”

“You’re kidding.”

A set of identical twins, two waitresses in short skirts and sailor shirts and hats, stopped by to take our orders. The gals wanted hamburgers, fries, salads and soft drinks. I skipped the fries for just a burger, salad and unsweetened iced tea. I still hadn’t worked up a taste for diet soda.

When the waitresses left, I said, “Aaron, can my sister take a look at Moze?”

He looked confused. “Sure, he’s right here.”

I sighed. I hate having to explain my sister’s disability. You’d think her sunglasses would have given the guy a hint. I nodded at Sis, pointed to my eyes and then at hers, hoping the knucklehead would get a clue without me having to draw pictures. I guess he did because his face lit up with a modicum of understanding.  I took my sister’s hand, reached across the table, and placed her fingers on the dummy.

She felt the wooden head and the natural hair. “It’s missing an eyeball.”

“Hey, watch it, toots,” Moze said. “Don’t go poking the other one out.”

“What happened to your eye?”

“I don’t know,” Aaron said. “I didn’t noticed it was gone until this morning. Maybe it fell out in the lounge after the show last night. Don’t worry; I have spares in my cabin. I’ll fix you up, Moze, when we’re finished eating.”

“I should hope so or you’ll have to introduce me tonight as the Cyclops.”

Sis said, “That’s amazing. Why did you bring that thing in here?”

As I’ve said before, my hermit sister is a bit fuzzy on conversational skills.

But fortunately, Aaron didn’t seem offended. “Moze goes everywhere with me. We’re a team. That’s why we work so well together.”

Moze jumped in. “Oh yeah? What about the time you were shacking up with that Jodie creature? All I saw was the inside of a box. Can’t tell me that witch was better company than me.”

Aaron looked at Moze. “I had to spend time with her. She was my wife.”

“But not for long!” Moze sounded ecstatic. “Her cutting out was the best thing that ever happened to us!”

“Moze, please.”

Good thing the waitresses arrived at that moment. The food provided a distraction from the Aaron-and-Moze show. The ventriloquist returned to his salad (fortunately, Moze couldn’t talk while his master ate) and we lit into our own dishes. First, I told Sis how the food was arranged on her plate so she wouldn’t have to paw around. She asked for the ketchup. A rack in the center of the table held plastic packets of condiments and paper napkins. I scooped up a handful of ketchup packets—Sis loves to soak her food—and placed them in her hand. Celeste set most of the packets beside her plate, tore one open, placed a hand on her fries and squirted the red stuff on the food. Out of habit, I grabbed some napkins and placed them in her hands so she could wipe her fingers. I glanced at the others. Aaron wasn’t watching and Cinnamon just smiled.

After a few moments, I resumed the conversation. “So, Aaron, were you married to Jodie while the two of you worked on the ship?”

“That’s right. Originally, Moze and I were part of the Starlight Ocean Revue. That’s where Jodie and I met. For a while it was fun doing the show together but—well, you know. People change. After we split up, my contract with the revue was cancelled. I’m sure she had a hand in that. A few months later, the cruise line gave me my own show. Last night was my debut as a solo act. It’s okay but the audience was nothing compared to the crowds I played to in the showroom.”

“We don’t need those turkeys.” Of course, Moze had an opinion on the matter. “We’re better off without that hussy and her lame vaudeville act. That revue is so outdated they’re still using candles for the stage lights.”

With Aaron literally talking out of both sides of his mouth, I had no idea how he really felt about anything.

I asked, “Did you love Jodie?”

“I was crazy about her,” Aaron said.

“But she didn’t give a tumble for you,” said Moze.

Cinnamon cut in. “Celeste, how is your food? My burger’s delicious.”

“It’s fine,” Sis replied.

Aaron continued undaunted. “When Jodie left me, I was so devastated, I couldn’t work. This cruise is my first gig since the divorce. My comeback, so to speak.”

“Really?” I said. “It is for me too. I haven’t done a solo concert in years.”

“Looks like we’re both starting over. Clean out the past, a fresh start.”

Moze said with a sneer, “Yeah, with Jodie the jerk out of the way, it’s full speed ahead, happy sailing!”

Aaron had finished his salad, so he excused himself, loaded the dummy into the black case, and left. The three of us breathed a collective sigh of relief.

Cinnamon watched him leave the café. “Interesting man, isn’t he?”

I said, “I’ve never met anyone who could carry on a conversation with himself.”

“I wonder if he knows Jodie is dead?” Sis said.

“That’s hard to say,” I said. “If he loved her as much as he claimed, seems to me her death would hit him pretty hard.”

Cinny, finished eating, wiped her mouth with a napkin. “What was it the dummy said right before they left? ‘With Jodie out of the way it’s full speed ahead.’”

“He could be referring to the divorce,” I said.

Sis said in a low voice, “Maybe Aaron killed her!”

“That sweet little man?” Cinny said.

“Don’t let him fool you.” I pushed my empty plate out of the way. “A guy who carries around a ventriloquist’s dummy like a pet has a dark side I don’t want to mess with.”

Cunning_Cruise_ebook

The Cunning Cruise Ship Caper is available on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Cunning-Cruise-Caper-Fairfax-mysteries-ebook/dp/B00PCPAQ5C/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top?ie=UTF8

 Read her blog: http://sandyfairfaxauthor.com/

Visit her Facebook page:  https://www.facebook.com/sally.carpenter.5

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

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Patricia Gligor – Desperate Deeds, Unfinished Business & Mixed Messages

This week, I’m delighted to bring back one of my favorite authors, Patricia Gligor.

Patricia Gligor

Patricia Gligor is a Cincinnati native. She enjoys reading mystery/suspense novels, touring and photographing old houses and traveling. She has worked as an administrative assistant, the sole proprietor of a resume writing service and the manager of a sporting goods department but her passion has always been writing fiction.

I’ve invited Patricia back to find out the answers to some questions I’ve been dying to ask her, so here goes:

What sparked the idea for your first novel?

Before I answer that question, Evelyn, I need to tell you that I see mystery everywhere. It all started when I was a little girl reading Judy Bolton and Nancy Drew mysteries and living in a big, old house with a woods behind it, extending as far as the eye could see. I developed quite an imagination and I was constantly coming up with “what if” scenarios to entertain (and often frighten) myself and my friends.

Fast forward years later. I was going for a walk one day, not far from where I grew up,  and I happened upon an old Victorian. Something about that house captivated me and I found myself gazing up at it and wondering what would happen if those walls could talk. Little by little, the plot and the characters came together and I wrote Mixed Messages, my first Malone mystery.

How personal is your writing?

On a scale of one to ten, ten being the most personal, I’d say my writing is probably an eight because every book I write contains bits and pieces from my life, whether it be something that I myself experienced or something I heard or read about.

Which comes first? The character’s story or the idea for the novel?

Although my novels are definitely character driven, the idea for my series started with setting – the old Victorian – and the story came next – a serial killer on the loose in what had always been considered a safe, peaceful neighborhood. And, when I wrote my third Malone mystery, Desperate Deeds, the topic was a missing child.

How do you get feedback while developing a novel? Do you use a writers’ group or friends or family?

I belong to a wonderful critique group and I’ve learned so much from the other members. But I don’t discuss what I’m writing with anyone else until I’ve finished writing it because I realized a long time ago that, if I talk about a story, odds are I won’t write it. I guess for me it’s all about getting the story out and I’d much rather see that happen on paper.

Have you ever been surprised by a controversy among fans or reviewers – for example, you created a character without thinking too much about what people would think of him, and found some readers loved him and some hated him?

Yes. Two examples immediately come to mind and both have helped me to show how my characters change and grow with each new book.

My main character’s husband, David, is an alcoholic and, in my first Malone mystery, he’s in the midst of active alcoholism. I’ve had readers tell me they didn’t like him which is something I hadn’t really thought about. However, if they go on to read the rest of the books in the series, they will come to realize that once David begins recovery in Alcoholics Anonymous, he is a very likeable guy.

My main character, Ann, is another example. I had one reviewer comment that she seemed a bit “wimpy.” Obviously, that reader knew little or nothing about the effects alcoholism has on the people who love an alcoholic. The tendency to “walk on eggs” and to keep their thoughts and feelings to themselves. Again, reading the next book, Unfinished Business, would clear that up because the reader would see that, thanks to Alanon, Ann is becoming stronger and more assertive every day.

Have you ever written anything that you thought would be controversial and found it wasn’t?

I honestly thought that some people would have an issue with the fact that I refer to alcoholism as a disease, which I firmly believe it is, but no one has voiced that to me. In conversations (not about my books), I’ve frequently heard people say that alcoholism is a weakness, an addiction, a habit, that a person could stop drinking if they chose to, etc. and they’ve argued that it’s not a disease. That upsets me and that’s one of the main reasons I’ve included it in my series. To make people aware that alcoholism is about much more than excessive drinking and to show them that there is help available.

Would you tell us about your upcoming novel?

Gladly, she says, with a big smile on her face. My fourth Malone mystery, Mistaken Identity, will be coming out early this summer, published by Post Mortem Press. In it, Ann and her two young children, Danielle and Davey, travel to South Carolina to vacation with Ann’s sister, Marnie, on Fripp Island. Ann is looking forward to a peaceful, relaxing vacation but, when she discovers a body on the beach, she finds herself involved in solving a murder.

I enjoy spending time with your characters and your new novel sounds like an interesting story. I’m looking forward to reading it.

Here are the other wonderful novels by this author:

Mixed Messages

Unfinished BusinessDesperate DeedsMixed Messages, Unfinished Business and Desperate Deeds, the first three novels in her Malone Mystery series, are available at:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B007VDDUPQ

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/patricia-gligor?keyword=patricia+gligor&store=book

http://postmortem-press.com

Visit her website at: http://pat-writersforum.blogspot.com/

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

 

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Ralph Horner – Midnight Mist

This week, I’m delighted to welcome back author, Ralph Horner

RalphTT

Ralph has had various short stories published since 2002. In August 2007 his short story, Pandora Spoxx was featured by Wild Cat Books in their monthly Startling Stories Anthology. In June 2008 his short story, Atalanta Alters The Tide Of Alida was published in the Heroes of Ancient Greece anthology by Night to Dawn Books. In March 2009 Ralph’s first novel, Tandem Tryst was published by Wings ePress. His second novel, Witch’s Moon was also published by Wings in December 2012. After Ralph’s short story was published in Night to Dawn’s October 2013 issue, his third novel, Midnight Mist, the sequel to Tandem Tryst, came out in December 2013.

Ralph is an active member of the Southland Scribes Writers Group in Orland Park, IL.

Ralph is also a professional entertainer, doing balloon art and magic since 1991. He can be contacted at bab3bear12@comcast.net. Website ralphehorner.weebly.com.

Midnight Mist

An enchanted ring sends Melody ahead one hundred years in time to reunite her with her true love. Jeff is overwhelmed to see her, but discovers that Alice, Melody’s mentally disturbed sister, has time-traveled with her. Jeff must locate Alice to regain possession of the ring, and at the same time protect Melody from her sister’s deadly attacks.

Here is an excerpt:

“Oh my God, Jeff!” Melody gasped. “What’s Alice doing to Helen in the kitchen?”

He cocked the gun and took Melody by the arm. She jerked away from him. “Please, not in there!”

Jeff whispered into her ear very softly. “I’ve got the gun. If you ever trusted me, trust me now.”

Melody placed her hand over her eyes. “Jeff, I don’t know if I can do it.”

Jeff felt terrible that he had to force her down the hall. He heard her taking some deep breaths, then she started to cry.

As they entered the kitchen, Jeff tried not to dwell on the fact he had never shot someone.

“Melody, step over to me, or your descendant dies.” Alice’s whispering tone was forceful.

“Let Helen go and she will,” Jeff returned, as Melody sobbed next to him.

“You’re being very cooperative, Jeff. Why are you giving up your sweetheart so easily?”

Is Alice becoming suspicious? “You’ve got the advantage; now let Helen go.”

“As soon as Melody is within my reach. And both of you men had better stay where you are.”

“Melody, start toward Alice.” Jeff’s heart was banging against his chest. “If she doesn’t let Helen go when you’re half way to her, stop until she does. Understand?”

“Just as you say, Jeff.” Melody replied, sobbing.

She slowly made her way toward her sister, crying harder. Jeff feared she might not have the nerve to continue. He folded his arms across his chest, tucking the barrel of the gun beneath his left armpit. With the room being so dark he had to take careful aim. He cringed at the thought of hitting Melody by mistake. Alice let Helen go and she dropped to the floor with a dull thud. Melody stopped.

“I’ve kept my part of the bargain, Melody. Now keep yours or I’ll kill her yet.”

 MidnightMistCover

All three novels can be purchased on Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, Kindle and Wings-Press.com

 My website is ralphehorner.weebly.com and I’m also on Facebook.

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

 

 

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Sharon Love Cook – A Deadly Christmas Carol

This week, I’m pleased host cartoonist and author of the Granite Cove mysteries, Sharon Love Cook.

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I am a writer and cartoonist living north of Boston. At my first writing job, I got to combine the two: At seventeen, I was a correspondent for the Gloucester Daily Times‘ (MA) supplement the Cape Ann Summer Sun, where I wrote about jelly fish invasions and volleyball tournaments. More recently, I’ve gotten to illustrate the covers of my Granite Cove mysteries: A Nose for Hanky Panky and A Deadly Christmas Carol. Currently I’m working on book #3: Laugh ’til You Die.

“Nose” was recently translated into German by Amazon Crossing, the company’s international department. As a result, I was given 25 complimentary copies. I’d be happy to send a free copy to anyone who reads German.

A Deadly Christmas Carol

When sultry Dionne Dunbar is run down in the street one winter’s night, Granite Cove Gazette reporter Rose McNichols is the only witness. Amid Christmas preparations in the New England fishing village, Rose alone is determined to discover Dionne’s secrets. Who wanted the woman dead? Was it a member of her mediums circle . . .  or one of her black book clients?

Here is an excerpt:

She pressed her foot on the gas and, at the same time, shifted into reverse. The Jetta roared back, slamming into the barrel with a loud BAM. In the rearview mirror, she saw it topple into the street. Rose swore out loud.

At least her car was freed, she thought, driving a few yards into the road. She got out to check the damage. The barrel was on its side, papers strewn all around it. She felt for the handles and attempted to right it, but the thing was too heavy. What was it filled with—bricks?

She dropped to her knees and rolled it toward the curb. Not only was the barrel heavy but it was tall. Panting in the cold night air, she gave a final shove. The barrel rolled and at the same time dislodged a large, dark mass.

She struggled to her feet. Had she dumped a pile of clothes on the street, along with all that paper? Worse, what if it was garbage? Peering into the dark, she remembered the LED flashlight in her glove compartment. She stumbled to her car and found it among a jumble of odds and ends.

She returned and pressed the switch, aiming the tiny beam at the barrel. The light reflected off a pair of high-heeled black boots silhouetted against the snow. She moved the beam southward and discovered that the boots were attached to a body.

This time, Rose was not reluctant to wake the Chitwicks. In fact, her screams woke the entire street.

 med

Places to find me:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00I8BS9OW

https://www.facebook.com/sharon.l.cook.58

www.sharonlovecook.com

cookie978@comcast.net

BOOK GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment and enter to win a print copy or an eBook of Sharon’s latest Granite Cove mystery, A Deadly Christmas Carol.

 

 

 

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Kevin Richardson – What If?

This week I’m pleased to host fellow Wings author, Kevin Richardson.

Kev Richardson - photo

A retired Australian journalist, Kev spent many years touring the world, writing travel articles for airline magazines. His many adventures and misadventures became the bases for his several Action/Adventure novels.

Several biographies of significant people have also come from Kev’s busy pen.

Two works have been finalists in the International EPIC Awards and all twenty-three novels have been awarded by professional reviewers, either 5 Stars or 5+ or 5++ Stars. Two, however, received from Conger Book Reviews USA, its first and only 10 Stars out of 5 reviews!!!

All works are available in Paperback or eBook.

Kev is twice married and now enjoys single life, writing on his experiences and studies, relaxing in the Himalayan foothills of exotic Thailand.

What If? 

Had Hitler not stabbed Russia in the back by attacking it in 1941, the face of the entire world could, today, be markedly different. Surely he would have been the stronger had he continued using the support of Russia’s millions working with him, than against him.

In that year, Britain was helplessly unable to further defend itself against the blitzkrieg that had already sacked Europe. Leaving Britain to maintain its manufacturing power, deliberately creating an eastern front as well as his western, was a dreadful mistake.

Without Britain, there could have been no D-Day and no US forces in Europe. Instead of shooting itself in the foot, denying itself the ability to back-up its ally Japan, in the Pacific, today’s world could be an entirely different place. Both the USA and Australia could be experiencing a vastly different life.

 Here is an excerpt:

Britain in mid 1941 was already helplessly staggering.

Factories had hurriedly converted manufacture of non-military goods to defensive armaments, and while German bombers rapidly reduced Britain’s manufacturing abilities, its agricultural produce was directed first to the military, leaving the civilian population suffering hunger pains. Its colonies began shipping tons of food and supplies, yet German U-boats sent increasing numbers of supply ships to the Atlantic Ocean’s sea bed, along with America’s shipments of desperately needed armaments.

Why Hitler, with all France’s northern seaports at his disposal, didn’t invade, has remained a quandary. Had his astoundingly easy successes in subjugating even more of Europe than had the Romans two thousand years prior, made him overconfident? It seems history proved that possibility, right.

So what would have been the war’s course had he not turned on Russia at that time but invaded defenceless Britain? Can we imagine what the combined might of the Axis Bloc’s multi-millions have done once Britain was out of the war? There could have been no D-Day and no US troop forces in Europe.

And could the United States as readily have outmatched Japan’s manufacturing if Germany had then, been supporting Japan against it?

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Kev Richardson… historian, novelist, biographer
Read synopses, awards and reviews on
www.kev-richardson.com

Did you go see my new website?

Purchase link: www.kev-richardson.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/kevrichoauthor

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

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Snoop To Nuts – Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli

My first guest author of the new year is, Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli.

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Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli moved to the shores of a little lake in northwest northern Michigan and never looked back. She lives, sometimes uncomfortably, with the crows and bears and turtles and finds her material in the villages and forests that surround her. With degrees from Macomb County Community College, Oakland University, and the University of Michigan, she now teaches creative writing at Northwestern Michigan College and at writers’ conferences around the country.

Her novels include: Gift of Evil (Bantam), Dead Dancing Women, Dead Floating Lovers, Dead Sleeping Shaman, and Dead Dogs and Englishmen (Midnight Ink), Dead Little Dolly, and A Tough Nut to Kill (writing as Elizabeth Lee), Berkley Publishers.

Elizabeth is also fascinated with the craft of the short story and hers have appeared in The Creative Woman, The Driftwood Review, Passages North,The MacGuffin, Quality Women’s Fiction (Great Britain), and elsewhere. With a grant from the State of Michigan she also created short stories that have been produced onstage as well as being read on NPR.
For many years she taught in the International Women’s Guild summer program at Skidmore College and appeared as a moderator and panelist at writing conferences. Her fascination with all things murderous began with a love for puzzles of all sorts, which was handed down to her by a mother who devoured mysteries. Sometimes playful, sometimes deadly serious, her books reflect a wide interest in women’s lives and futures.

Mystery writer and journalist with 7 published novels including her latest, the first in a series: A Tough Nut to Kill from Berkley Publishers/Penguin Group.

She teaches fiction writing at Northern Michigan College, was a reporter for the ROMEO OBSERVER, and has written for the DETROIT NEWS, Traverse Magazine, the British Literary Journal: Women’s Quality Fiction, and many others.

Her fourth novel in the Emily Kincaid series, DEAD DOGS AND ENGLISHMEN, was chosen one of the best mysteries of 2010 by Kirkus Reviews and the Christian Science Monitor.  Writing as Elizabeth Lee, the first in her Texas series: A TOUGH NUT TO KILL, is in stores and online now.  The second in the series is:

Snoop To Nuts

In this second installment of the Nut House Series, SNOOP TO NUTS, I’m afraid Lindy Blanchard and her grandmother, Miss Amelia, of the Nuthouse Store in Riverville, Texas, just got themselves and their whole family in trouble again.  For some reason people have the bad taste to die around the Blanchards.  This time it is Pastor Jenkins, the poor man only new to Riverville.

At the biggest pecan recipe contest of the year, held at the end of the state fair, the new pastor (a judge in the contest) dies, poisoned, with suspicion falling on Miss Amelia, this kind, motherly woman with claws of steel when it comes to her family, her pecan recipes, or anybody who would do harm to either one.

Clearing Miss Amelia takes Lindy and the family into some terrible dark dealings  and a lot of upheaval in the usually quiet town of Riverville.  Lindy wades through the town’s characters  and  a whole host of evil people to clear her grandmother and fix a few other problems bedeviling the Blanchards.

From the loose hog running the midway at the state fair to a triumphant celebration at the nuthouse—where Miss Amelia serves ironic treats like Cyanide Mini Cinnies—the Blanchards stand tall, and victorious, together.

Here is an excerpt:

The judging of the best pecan recipe has begun.  The contestants are stiff with fear and hope.  The judges make a slow entrance to the room to begin tasting the proffered dishes:

Miss Amelia stood tall, her pale eyes following the slow procession of the judges.  Her hands were clutched in front of her, one wringing the other.  From time to time, she turned to look around at the crowd, as if expecting to see someone, then she would turn back to smile nervously at me and Bethany and Mama, then back to the judges as they made their way toward her. Next to where Miss Amelia and the rest of us Blanchards waited, The Reverend Jenkins tasted Ethelred’s Pecan Surprise Tomato Puff and smacked his lips.  He smiled at the pale, almost fainting, woman, perspiration standing out on her high forehead, hands clutched at her breast. She tried to smile but ended by giving the man an unattractive grimace.

The pastor reached out to rest a hand on her shoulder for reassurance then moved on, throwing his plastic spoon and plate and napkin in the small garbage can under the tasting station.

“Miss Amelia,” the Reverend Millroy Jenkins nodded to Meemaw.  “Hear you’re the one to beat here.”

The pastor stuck his plastic spoon into Miss Amelia’s bowl then stuck the spoon in his mouth so that his lips closed right up to the spoon handle.  He hesitated a minute, standing with the spoon sticking from between his lips, then pulled the spoon back out, still half loaded with the Texas caviar.

He wiped his mouth with his paper napkin, cleared his throat, and gave Miss Amelia a half-hearted smile.   He dipped his head toward the rest of the family, wadded the paper napkin in his hand, ran it slowly across his mouth again, then threw spoon, napkin, and unused dish away.

As the pastor walked on to Suzy Queens’ Blessed Pecan Dip, the other two judges stepped up.  Eloise Dorrance, dipped her spoon into the glass bowl of Texas caviar and put it directly into her mouth.

For a moment her head came up and her eyes grew wide.  I took the woman’s reaction for wonderment but soon saw she was grasping for a napkin, sending a shower of paper to the floor.  She brought the napkin to her mouth and spit out the caviar.

I could feel my family stiffen around me.

 Miss Amelia said nothing.

When Eloise had passed, Mama, outraged, whispered, “What the heck’s wrong with these people?”

 SnoopToNuts

Miss Amelia wanted to lighten the dark mood in town after the murderer was caught so threw a party at the Nuthouse and served dishes named for poisons and such.  All sure to lighten the day though a few of the townsfolk didn’t get the joke as fast as others.

                              NIGHTSHADE NUGGETS.  

A nice touch of orange and pecans in an easy to make cookie.

1 cp. Shortening

½ cp. White sugar

½ cp. Brown sugar

1 egg, well beaten

2 tbsp Garrison Brothers Straight Texas Bourbon

1 tbsp grated orange rind

2¾ cp. flour

¼ tsp soda

¼ tsp salt

½ cp. Pecans, finely chopped

Cream together shortening, sugars, egg, the fine Texas bourbon, and orange rind.  Sift flour with soda and salt.  Add to creamed mix.  Stir in pecans.  Shape into a roll about 1½ inches around.  Chill.  Cut into thin slices, place on a greased cookie sheet, bake at 350 for 10 minutes.  Yields about 5 dozen cookies.

Writing under the name, Elizabeth Lee, Snoop To Nuts is available on Amazon and other book retailers.

Visit her website at: www.elizabethbuzzelli.com

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

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End Of The Year Thank You

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2014 was an interesting year for me as an author and as a blogger.

 As an author, my new mystery, Once Upon a Crime, was released by Wings ePress in September. I was on two authors panels at the Love Is Murder Writers Conference, and did some virtual book tours and several successful book signings. Along with that, I’m thrilled to announce that I’m a character in M. F. Meredith’s mystery, Murder in the Worst Degree.

 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 on my blog, and would’ve loved to have read them all. Unfortunately, because of time constraints, they had to go on my TBR list.

 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.

 If you haven’t had a chance read my blog, here is a list of the awesome authors, and their wonderful novels, who appeared in 2014:

 Evelyn David – Murder Doubles Back

Stefanie Stolinsky – Counterfeit Lottery

Christa Nardi – Murder at Cold Creek College

Madison Johns – Trouble in Tawas

Alyssa Maxwell – Murder at The Breakers

Ann McGinnis – Scarlet Revenge

Jeanne Roppolo – Grandma Goes to the Alaskan Wilderness

Anna Celeste Burke – A Dead Husband

D.M. Pirrone – No Less in Blood

Rita Monette – The Legend of Ghost Dog Island

Michele May – Ensconced

Marcia Meara – Wake-Robin Ridge

Penny Clover Petersen – Daisy&Rose Mystery Series

Sue Myers – Deception

F. M. Meredith – Murder in the Worst Degree

Patricia Gligor – Desperate Deeds

Jeanne Meeks – Rim To Rim

Skye Taylor – Falling for Zoe

PJ. Nunn – Private Spies

Deborah Garner – The Moonglow Cafe

Lynn Cahoon – Guidebook to Murder

Larissa Reinhart – Death in Perspective

Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli – Dead Little Dolly

Marja McGraw – What Are The Odds?

Lynette Hall Hampton – The Island

Christina Larmer – Words Can Kill

Diana Febry – Bells On Her Toes

Liz Mugavero – A Biscuit, A Casket

Sylvia Selfman – Murder She Typed

Evelyn Cullet – Once Upon a Crime

Lydia Ponczak – Reenee on the Run

Linda S. Reilly – Some Enchanted Murder

A.J. McGuire – Sedition

Laurinda Wallace – Family Matters

Marilyn Meredith – River Spirits

Marilyn Levinson – Murder the Tey Way

David K. Bryant – Tread Carefully on the Sea

Mary Jean Kelso – One Family’s Christmas

Nancy G. West – Dang Near Dead

Left of the Rising Sun – John Holland

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

 

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Left of the Rising Sun – John Holland

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On this festive Christmas week, I’m hosting author, John Holland.

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John Holland grew up in the Australian outback.  He has been a stockman, miner, roadworker, professional hunter, newspaper columnist and media officer for a politician.

His poetry and fiction are about life and the question of where we fit into an uncertain universe.

Left of the Rising Sun

~ Ten-year-old Buck Brown is the sole survivor of a plane crash in the interior of Australia’s Northern Territory. Watching the plane sink into the murky water of a remote outback billabong, he remembers the pilot saying they had been flying off-course for hours. Search parties will never find Buck, he decides. There is only one way out, to walk several hundred kilometres home.

With grim resolve, Buck sets out on a trek that will require resolve, knowledge, and ingenuity, a journey that will test his strength to the limit. He will be a participant in the elemental struggle for life and survival.

Buck’s gruelling trial will also teach him surprising lessons about friendship and loyalty. If he is successful it will be a trek that leads not only back to his family and home but also to a maturity not always achieved in a full lifetime. ~

Here is an excerpt:

~Buck took inventory. He was wearing a light shirt and drill shorts. The nights        shouldn’t be cold, though, so he wouldn’t freeze. He also wore new sandshoes and short socks. All he had in his pockets were a handkerchief, which might come in handy, and his beloved “army knife—” a Christmas present from his family. It wasn’t really an army knife, but it might be even handier. It was a folding knife with two cutting blades of different lengths, a serrated blade you could saw with, a tiny pair of scissors, and a tiny magnifying glass. The magnifying glass interested him the most. He should be able to use it to start a fire!

It was early afternoon, and the sun was still high. With the sun where it was, he could work out the direction he should take. Well…pretty closely anyway. Buck pointed himself along his chosen path and aimed for what looked like a gap between hills in the far distance. He knew enough to pick out a landmark and adhere to that direction.

Each morning he would have to pick out a new landmark to aim for that day. Home should be roughly east north-east. If he faced the first light of the rising sun each day and spread his arms directly outwards, his left hand should be pointing north, and his right hand pointing south. Bring his left hand around halfway to the sun, and that should be north-east. Bring it from north-east halfway to the sun again and that should be east north-east. Maybe that wasn’t the exact direction to head, but it would be pretty close. To make it easier he would just steer each day’s walk to a landmark picked out on the horizon not too far to the left of the rising sun.

Fortunately he would be travelling through mostly savannah country with quite a few hills. These would make good landmarks to steer towards if the hills were close enough to his chosen direction.

Daylight dimmed as Buck neared the first hills. He started looking for shelter and found a small waterhole near the foot of a hill. Time to stop before darkness made it impossible to keep to his path.

The water tasted like washing-up water, but it would do. He drank thirstily and then picked up some wood and grass as well as dried leaves, which he took up to a spot where the rock of the hill was slightly undercut and gave some overhead protection.

The afternoon sun was low and sluggish, but he might still have time for a fire. After crushing dry leaves and dead grass to a powder with his hands, he focused the beam from the magnifying glass on them. He concentrated hard to make sure he held the glass the exact distance from the powdered grass and leaves. When smoke started to curl from the powder, his heart lifted. After a few tries, and by using his breath to fan the smouldering pile of powder, he was rewarded by a small lick of flame. Quickly he fed it with dry leaves, grass, and twigs until it caught, and he could use the bigger sticks of wood he had gathered. Success! He could make fire!~

New Left Cover Smaller

Links:

Website:  http://poetrysansfrontieres.weebly.com/index.html 

Louisa Publishing:  http://poetrysansfrontieres.weebly.com/louisa-publishing.html

Blog page: http://poetrysansfrontieres.weebly.com/beyond-the-barricades—blog-page

Amazon link:  http://amzn.com/1502861933 

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/john.holland.56884

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

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Nancy G. West – Dang Near Dead

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On this third week of December, I’m hosting author, Nancy G. West

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Nancy studied business administration and English lit and is ambidexterous, which explains a lot. While writing her serious suspense novel, Nine Days to Evil, character Aggie Mundeen popped up and demanded that Nancy write a book about her…or maybe a series. Thus, the Aggie Mundeen mystery series was born. Aggie and Nancy still clash brains, but they’ve enjoyed every minute. Detective Sam, Aggie’s love interest, is a little nervous….Anyone who dreads aging, tries to stay fit or has loved the wrong man should appreciate Aggie Mundeen.

Dang Near Dead

Aggie and friends frolic on a dude ranch vacation with cowboys, dudes, heat, snakes, poison ivy, buried secrets and dangerous wranglers. When an expert rider flies off a horse and lies in a coma, Aggie believes it was no accident. Despite Sam’s warnings, Aggie probes secrets of the ranch, her ingenious methods strain her dicey relationship with Sam, and they discover that Home on the Range means murder.

Here is an excerpt.

They see the ranch:

                “We topped the hill and saw the entrance gate, bracketed on both sides by an eight-strand wire fence.  A four-by-eight-foot wood plank sign hung between wide gateposts.  BVSBar Ranch was scorched into the wood.  When our front wheels bumped over the first iron pipe of the cattle guard, the gate swung open.  A winding ranch road curved ahead.  Sun sparkling on limestone crushed into dirt beckoned us toward whatever lurked around the next bend….”

                Aggie and Meredith meet their cabin mates at the ranch:

                Chubby arms jingling with charm bracelets protruding from a floating tent of gauzy iridescent orange swept into the room.  Bleached hair tied high in a pom-pom bounced above crinkly, kohl-rimmed eyes and fire engine red lips.

                “Well, hellooo,” the apparition said. “We thought our suite mates would never come. I’m Jan Meisner, ‘Jangles’ for short.”

                A glow of southwestern turquoise flashed into the  room hanging on one of Jangles’ roommates.

                “I told Jangles not to wear those floatin’ hostess pajamas,”  she barked.  “This is a ranch. If she gets near brush, she’ll get snagged and leave half herself in the bushes.  I’m Rhonda Stone. They call me Stoney.  If we’re going to fit in at this ranch, we need to dress like it. We don’t want these ranchers to think we’re dudes.”  Stoney shook our hands like she was pumping a well.

                We heard a shriek from their cabin and rushed in to find their third roommate cringing on top of the wood table, clasping her knees.

                “There are bugs on my mattress! I’m sure they bite.  How can I possibly sleep on that foul pallet?”

                “Get over it, Mildred,”  Stoney said.  “We’ll knock ’em off your bed.”  Stoney turned to us and spiked her thumb toward the agitated woman.  “This is Millie Dietert.  She’s never been outside Dallas.”

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DANG NEAR DEAD, Aggie Mundeen Mystery #2                                                                                      Must Read.” Southern Writers’ Magazine November/December 2014

DANG NEAR DEAD release  video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I23CVLKG67Y

Henery Press Interview: http://henerypress.com/henery-press-chats-with-dang-dear-dead-author-nancy-g-west/

Henery Press: http://henerypress.com/authors-humorous-mystery-series-authors/nancy-g-west/

Amazon purchase link:  http://tinyurl.com/am975kk

Amazon Author Page http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B001KIYL1A

Barnes and Noble purchase link:  http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/dang-near-dead-nancy-g-west/1113852638?ean=9781941962169

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authorNancyG.West

Nancy’s Website: www.nancygwest.com/ 

Nancy G. West and Her Characters: http://stayyoungwithaggie.wordpress.com/

                       (Nancy & Aggie Clash Brains)

Amazon Author Page –  http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B001KIYL1A

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6442929.Nancy_G_West

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/pub/nancy-g-west/31/867/691

Las Mysteristas Interview: https://mysteristas.wordpress.com/2014/11/14/interview-nancy-g-west/

UniversalCreativity 14, Book Review:

http://universalcreativityinc14.wordpress.com/2014/09/24/book-review-dang-near-dead-by-nancy-g-west/

Get Lost in a Story, Interview: http://getlostinastory.blogspot.com/2014/12/get-lost-in-story-welcomes-nancy-g-west.html#comment-form 

FIT TO BE DEAD, Aggie Mundeen Mystery #1

RELEASE video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ShriTrVWFCM

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

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