EM Kaplan – Dim Sum, Dead Some

This week I pleased to host author, EM Kaplan

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EM Kaplan is the author of un-cozy, un-culinary Josie Tucker mysteries. The newest snarky mystery, DIM SUM, DEAD SOME, was released in January 2015. She also has written a nascent fantasy/paranormal series, anchored by the novel, Unmasked.

EM Kaplan grew up in a part of Tucson, Arizona where there were no sidewalks. Like a tumbleweed, she roamed from Massachusetts to California to Texas, and is now settled in Woodstock, IL. She’s also been a Girl Scout, trombonist, toilet-cleaner, beginner ninja, hip-hop dancer, and subversive marketeer.

Dim Sum, Dead Some

Ivan Sorokin is missing. Who wants him out of the picture—his wife, his business partner, or the stripper who holds his heart?

Josie Tucker stands on Beach Street with her back to the San Francisco wharf. Above her, the Ghirardelli sign winks in the dusky twilight, seducing her. The ice cream parlor lights beckon like a lactose lothario, a casein casanova, trying hard to woo her. But her heart longs for dumplings, for dim sum.

Dim sum means “heart’s delight.” Imagine nibbling at a savory golden pouch stuffed with delicately seasoned meat. If a lover offers the morsel on the tips of exquisitely lacquered chopsticks late in the morning while reclining on silken cushions…that’s food for the heart.

Chinatown. Dim sum. Murder. Josie’s perfect ingredients for adventure.

Here is an excerpt from Dim Sum, Dead Some:

“I need you to talk me down from a ledge.” Holding her cell phone to her ear, Josie stood on the sidewalk on Beach Street with her back to the San Francisco wharf. Above her, the bright Ghirardelli lights winked at her in the dusky twilight, seducing her. The sign beckoned to her like a lover, a lactose lothario, a casein Casanova.

She shivered even though the temperature was nearly twenty degrees warmer than at home in Boston. Here, the sun was just now setting, night cloaking the bay in darkness, the lights shining on the water. She could hear the occasional squawk from an ocean bird, the low bellow of a boat horn on the bay. The air smelled like ocean and fish, and Italian food. She wasn’t far from North Beach, and the wind was blowing the aroma of garlic straight to her nose. She sniffed again. Maybe someone nearby was simmering clams in white wine—San Francisco was an olfactory paradise for a food critic. Especially one who couldn’t eat.

Josie’s hooded sweater and denim jacket were doing a good job of keeping out the wind and helping her to blend in with the smattering of tourists trying to be hipsters with their hands in the holes of their sweaters, just like the song. She was seeing a whole lot of funky, knitted caps and ferocious “statement” beards walking around the wharf this evening as she stood blinking at the Ghirardelli sign. She shivered again, not from the cold, but from the fact that she was about to do something very, very bad to her stomach.

On the other end of her phone, her boyfriend Drew said, “Are you anywhere near the Golden Gate Bridge?” His boyfriend status was a recent development for them. They had been long-time friends, college buddies who had recently discovered that they were better off dating. Much, much better off, she thought, her insides doing an unnatural happy wiggle from top to toe. Grouchiness was her natural state, but Josie and Drew were two flavors that perfectly complemented each other. Peaches and cream. Peanut butter and lemon grass. Bacon and beetroot. Bacon and, well, anything.

“Noooo,” she said, not able to keep the rise out of her voice, which made it sound like a question. She noted with amusement that he didn’t sound too worried. He didn’t believe for a second that she would intentionally harm herself. Should she be worried that he wasn’t worried? Maybe it was better not to overthink that one.

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Visit her at www.JustTheEmWords.com or write to her at JustTheEmWords@gmail.com.

website: www.JustTheEmWords.com

Amazon page: http://Author.to/EMKaplan

Twitter: @meilaan

Facebook: facebook.com/emkaplan.author

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

 

 

 

 

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Jeannette de Beauvoir – Asylum

This week, I’m pleased to host award-winning author, Jeannette de Beauvoir.

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JEANNETTE DE BEAUVOIR is an award-winning author, novelist, and poet whose work has been translated into 12 languages and has appeared in 15 countries. She explores personal and moral questions through historical fiction, mysteries, and mainstream fiction. She grew up in Angers, France, but now divides her time between Cape Cod and Montréal.

The Questions No One Wants To Answer

 Most people, I’d guess, read fiction for pleasure and for escapism. We all share the drudgery of getting up in the morning, usually in the same place, and going through the same progression of actions: shower, dress, coffee, feed the cat or the kids, summon energy for the day ahead. And many of us have days that also tend to become rote: work, lunch, work, home. Drop kids off somewhere; pick kids up somewhere. Plan and execute a menu. Clean the house. There’s no question that finding a few hours to curl up and travel vicariously, to live an adventure, to meet fascinating people, is a great way to relieve the pressures of daily life.

 And all of that repetitive activity can sometimes keep us from thinking too much about the Greater Questions of Life. We tend to face them only when they’re thrust in front of us: a death in the family, a friend arrested for a criminal activity, the decision to place an elderly relative in a nursing home. And that’s normal, I think: sometimes just getting through the day is enough without pondering life after death, the morality of cheating on income tax, the wrenching decisions made on the behalf of others. At the end of the day, picking up Socrates or Descartes or Kierkegaard to look for answers just isn’t an option.

Normal, yes. Healthy? Maybe not so much. I believe that we do need to think about these things, but maybe the person most likely to lead us there isn’t a philosopher—but a novelist.

It’s not a new idea. Storytelling has always been at the service of philosophy. Stories are used to reinforce cultural norms and principles in nearly every human society… and, often, to keep the monsters at bay. Fairy tales in particular help children explore dark places without any harm to themselves; and there’s a reason why so many of us read murder mysteries, stories with killing at their hearts.

 Which is not to say that I begin my novels by asking myself, “hmm, which difficult principle shall I explore today?” Rather, I consider the things that twist my mind, and find a way to talk about them, assuming that if they do that to me they probably do it to other people as well.

 Many years ago I picked up a newspaper and read about the arrest of John Demjanjuk, an auto worker accused of war crimes when, as a guard at the Sobibor concentration camp, he’d helped execute 27,900 Jews. What I remember most about the story was the interview with his adult son, who was loudly and constantly protesting his father’s innocence. Well, I thought, of course you would. You’d have to. Who could equate the warm kind father who provided for you and loved you and kept the monsters at bay when you were little—how could you possibly equate that man with someone who could commit war crimes? The mind boggles.

 I thought about that man. A lot. About what you’d have to go through to accept that these two sides could live in the same person, a person you loved. And so I wrote a novel called The Illusionist in which my protagonist is called upon to do precisely that.

 Because making “the” story into “a” story does two things: it allows us a little distance (it’s happening to the people in the novel, not to us) and it gives us the ability to think through some of these complex moral questions without the necessity of acting on them. Which means, perhaps, that when we are called to act, we’ll have had the luxury of thought already.

 I touch on a similar question in my most recent novel, Asylum. In collusion with the government, the Catholic Church—mostly through its convents—performed cruel and abusive acts on children. My own personal experience of growing up in a convent school could not have been further away from what happened to these orphans: to me, nuns were women who encouraged critical thinking, who loved their charges wholeheartedly, who gave selflessly of themselves in the service of others. To learn that nuns (even if not the same ones) beat children, allowed children to be used for experimentation and consigned to death, did not care for children… this was too much for my heart to bear. And so I allow my protagonist, Martine, to deal with it, and I try to learn—through her—to live with the unsettling contradictions of life.

 Storytelling affords us the luxury of dealing with monsters, both internal and external, in a way that defuses their power. The best storytellers reach into the human psyche to find archetypal fears and passions and bring them into the light. Novelist talk of betrayals and murder, of love and loss, of hatred and fear, and as we read their words we’re able to dip our toes into the waters of those Great Questions Of Life, find them cold, squeal a bit and pull the toe back out. Until the next time. And eventually, if we read enough, we’ll start incorporating these personal and moral ambiguities into our understanding of life, of ourselves, and of others.

 Will that make us better people? I don’t know. But it will make us people who are more equipped to at least take on the questions when we’re forced to deal with them.

 Not to mention giving us a great fictional ride in the meantime!

Asylum

Martine LeDuc is the director of PR for the mayor’s office in Montreal.  When four women are found brutally murdered and shockingly posed on park benches throughout the city over several months, Martine’s boss fears a PR disaster for the still busy tourist season, and Martine is now also tasked with acting as liaison between the mayor and the police department. The women were of varying ages, backgrounds and body types and seemed to have nothing in common. Yet the macabre presentation of their bodies hints at a connection. Martine is paired with a young detective, Julian Fletcher, and together they dig deep into the city’s and the country’s past, only to uncover a dark secret dating back to the 1950s, when orphanages in Montreal and elsewhere were converted to asylums in order to gain more funding. The children were subjected to horrific experiments such as lobotomies, electroshock therapy, and psychotropic medication, and many of them died in the process. The survivors were supposedly compensated for their trauma by the government and the cases seem to have been settled. So who is bearing a grudge now, and why did these four women have to die?

Not until Martine finds herself imprisoned in the terrifying steam tunnels underneath the old asylum does she put the pieces together. And it is almost too late for her…in Jeannette de Beauvoir’s Asylum.

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Read more at www.jeannetteauthor.com

Facebook URL:  https://www.facebook.com/jeannette.de.Beauvoir

Twitter: @authorjeannette

Buy links:

Amazon http://www.amazon.com/Asylum-Mystery-Jeannette-Beauvoir-ebook/dp/B00MSYOCNC/ref=sr_1_10?ie=UTF8&qid=1425064160&sr=8-10&keywords=asylum

 Barnes & Noble http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/asylum-jeannette-de-beauvoir/1119715822?ean=9781250045393

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

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Marcia Meara – A Boy Named Rabbit

This week, I’m pleased to host author, Marcia Meara.

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Marcia Meara lives in central Florida, just north of Orlando, with her husband of 29 years, four cats, and two dachshunds. When not working on her writing or blogs, she spends her time gardening, and enjoying the surprising amount of wildlife that manages to make a home in her suburban yard. At the age of five, Marcia declared she wanted to be an author, and is ecstatic that a mere 65 years later, she is finally pursuing that dream. She has published four books to date, and is currently working on a fifth, the sequel to Swamp Ghosts.

A Boy Named Rabbit

“Evil’s comin’, boy…comin’ fast. Look for the man with eyes like winter skies, and hair like a crow’s wing. He’s the one you gotta find.”

The remote mountain wilderness of North Carolina swallowed up the ten-year-old boy as he made his way down from the primitive camp where his grandparents had kept him hidden all his life. His dying grandmother, gifted with The Sight, set him on a quest to find the Good People, and though he is filled with fear and wary of civilization, Rabbit is determined to keep his promise to her. When he crosses paths with Sarah and MacKenzie Cole, neither their lives, nor his, are ever the same again.

The extraordinary little boy called Rabbit has the power to change the world for everyone he meets, and the resourcefulness to save himself from the one person his grandparents had hoped would never find him. His dangerous and bittersweet journey will touch you in unexpected ways, and once you’ve let Rabbit into your heart, you’ll never forget him.

Prologue Excerpt:

 “Shh, shhh….stop cryin’ now…listen sharp. I gotta tell you the rest…while I can still talk. You hear me? Listen now. Okay?”

Fighting back his tears, Rabbit nodded, and his gran continued, struggling for every word.

“You gotta…leave this mountain…come daylight.”

“No!” Terrified, he shook his head. “No, Gran! Grampa said never leave the mountain! He said people was bad, and I was to stay here, always. Safe from them!”

She patted his hand, catching her breath again. “He’s right about that…and wrong, too. Some people are bad. Your grampa knew…a lotta them kinds. But I was wrong…not to tell you this before, Boy. Some people are good…and kind. You got to…find those people, your new people…the good ones. And you will.”

“How do you know? What if I only find the bad ones, Gran?”

“I know…because I seen it. Look for the man…with eyes like winter skies. I seen him last night.”

“You had a Seein’ Dream?”

“I did. I saw you…with a man with winter blue eyes…an’ hair like…a crow’s wing. He’s the one…you gotta find.”

“Where? Where is he? How far do I gotta go? Can’t you come with me?”

She was wracked with coughing again, fighting for every breath as though it would be her last. “Let me lie down, Boy…just for a minute. Let me lie down…and catch my breath.”

He pulled the covers over her as she closed her eyes and sank back onto the cot.

“I’m not leavin’ you, Gran. I’m not.”

“No,” she breathed out on a faint sigh. “You can stay a while, yet…but I won’t make it through this night, Little Rabbit…and when I’m gone…promise me you’ll leave …you’ll find the man.”

His tears fell in earnest, and he sobbed in fear. “Aww, Gran, don’t leave me! Please don’t leave me here.”

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A Boy Named Rabbit: http://www.amazon.com/Boy-Named-Rabbit-Wake-Robin-Ridge-ebook/dp/B00SQ4PID6/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1422239995&sr=8-1&keywords=a+boy+named+rabbit&pebp=1422240002321&peasin=B00SQ4PID6

 Or:  http://tinyurl.com/pmwjzbn

 Boxed Set Books 1 & 2: Wake-Robin Ridge & A Boy Named Rabbit

http://www.amazon.com/Boxed-Set-Wake-Robin-Ridge-Rabbit-ebook/dp/B00SX7ZFD4/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1422577729&sr=1-1&keywords=Boxed+Set%3A+Wake-Robin+Ridge&pebp=1422577733279&peasin=B00SX7ZFD4

 OR: http://tinyurl.com/kpzzoa3

Wake-Robin Ridge: A Darcy’s Corner Novel

A Boy Named Rabbit: Wake-Robin Ridge Book 2

Swamp Ghosts: A Riverbend Novel

Summer Magic: Poems of Life & Love
Hunter: Riverbend Book 2 (due out in early fall, 2015)

You can reach Marcia via email at mmeara@cfl.rr.com
or on the following social media sites:

 The Write Stuff: http://marciamearawrites.com/

Bookin’ It: http://marciameara.wordpress.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/marcia.meara.writer
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/marciameara/
Tumblr: https://marciameara.tumblr.com/
Twitter: @marciameara

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

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Evelyn Cullet – Romancing a Mystery

This week I am my own guest author, and I’m excited to announce that my very first novel, Romancing a Mystery, has been updated, re-edited and given a different book cover. It’s now available on Amazon Kindle, and in print

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Romancing a Mystery is the first novel in my series featuring executive administrative assistant, Charlotte Ross, and her mystery writer friend, Jane Marshall.

In this novel, all Charlotte Ross wanted was a get-away vacation. She hadn’t counted on solving a centuries-old mystery or falling for a handsome aristocrat. 

A young woman in her prime, Charlotte is bored living in the small town where she grew up — and is tired of her controlling mother trying to marry her off to the oldest and wealthiest men in town. So when her mystery-loving friend Jane Marshall suggests a driving trip across England, Charlotte eagerly packs her bags. But Charlotte gets more than she bargained for. Just two days in, their car breaks down in a thunderstorm and the ladies take refuge in Blake Hall, an ancient aristocrat’s lair with a long and rumored past. As guests of the British aristocracy, these out-of-place Americans stumble their way through a fox hunt– encounter imagined ghosts–and find a mysterious clue to a centuries-old murder that has remained unsolved–until now, at least. 

This lighthearted mystery, influenced by the novels of Agatha Christie, Arthur Conan Doyle and Jane Austen, is smart, savvy and at times, warmly romantic.

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Here is an excerpt:

A thick blanket of clouds hung low in the sky. The rain had subsided again by the time they reached the tall iron gate, but the trees shuddered as if the violent wind was intent on shaking their branches loose.

After passing through, the gusty wind hurried everyone up the length of the long, circular driveway. Jane, the first to arrive at the front door, rang the bell.

“I hope someone answers the door soon. I can’t stop shaking,” Erin said, breathless.

Charlotte scanned the roiling clouds. The endless wait and the emerging thunderstorm left her sinking neck deep into despondency. Finally, she said what they all had to be thinking. “What if no one lives here?” She trembled at the prospect of having to spend the long, cold night, soaking wet, huddled in the doorway of an old, abandoned house.

“The bell might be out of order.” Jane lifted a large brass door knocker in the shape of a lion’s head and slammed it down against the ornately carved oak door. The wait seemed interminable. She was just about to knock again when the door was slowly opened by a short, elderly man.

“Can I help you?” he asked in a shaky octogenarian voice.

Charlotte started babbling with relief. “May we please use your telephone? I can’t get a cell signal. Our car died on one of the back roads, and now it’s stuck in a ditch of some sort. Can you possibly help us?”

“I’m sorry, miss. But there wouldn’t be any use trying to use the telephone. It’s out of service.”

Jane rolled her eyes. Erin appeared to be crying again, but it was hard for Charlotte to tell if the tears were real or just drops of rain dripping from her face. Her own tears bubbled up from inside, but she swallowed them back as the old man closed the door.

“Please.” She flung herself at the door jamb. “Isn’t there something—anything—you can do for us?”

The wild wind raged as a sudden violent gust ripped the door out of the old man’s hand, forcing it open, and pushing the girls in with it. His gray hair lay plastered against his head, and he grasped the front of his navy blue robe as if it too would be ripped away from him by the wind. “It’s not a fit night out for man nor beast.”

Amazon Print Book: http://tinyurl.com/ocqs9yz

Kindle edition: http://tinyurl.com/q653ksu

Thanks for reading my blog post. I’d love to hear from you, so please feel free to leave a comment.

 

 

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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.

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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

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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.

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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?

WhatIf-FRONT-300

 

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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