Betty Jean Craige – Fairfield’s Auction

This week, I’m welcoming back, scholar, translator, teacher, and novelist,

Betty Jean Craige.

BJ Craige

Betty Jean Craige is University Professor Emerita of Comparative Literature and Director Emerita of the Willson Center for Humanities and Arts at the University of Georgia.

She received her B.A. in Spanish Literature from Pomona College (1968) and her M.A. (1970) and Ph.D. (1974) in Comparative Literature from the University of Washington.  She taught at the University of Georgia from 1973 to 2011.

Dr. Craige has published books in the fields of Spanish poetry, modern literature, history of ideas, politics, ecology, and art.  She is a scholar, a translator, a teacher, and a novelist.

In 2010, Dr. Craige published in both hardback and audiobook Conversations with Cosmo: At Home with an African Grey Parrot. In 2011 and 2012 she published a weekly Sunday column in the Athens Banner-Herald titled “Cosmo Talks.”

Dr. Craige’s essays have appeared in PMLAThe Chronicle of Higher EducationThe Atlanta Journal-Constitution, andThe Athens Banner Herald.

Dr. Craige has received the University of Georgia Alumni Society Faculty Service Award (1994), the Albert Christ-Janer Award for Creativity in Research (2003), the Blue Key Service Award (2010), and the Women’s Studies Faculty Award (2011).  She has also received awards for teaching, including the Honoratus Medal from the Honors Program.  The title “University Professor” was granted to her in 1995 as “highest recognition for significant impact on The University of Georgia.” On May 13, 2004, she received the Governor’s Award in the Humanities.

On December 20, 2003, Dr. Craige delivered the graduate and professional schools’ commencement address at the University of Georgia. On January 27, 2012, she gave the University’s Founders Day Lecture. On September 17, 2013, she accepted the Jeannette Rankin Fund Founders’ Award. In March of 2014, UGA’s Comparative Literature Department honored her by establishing an annual lecture in her name.

Dr. Craige was Co-Founder and Co-Director of the Delta Prize for Global Understanding. Most recently she has written a murder mystery titled Downstream, published by Black Opal Books on November 26, 2014.

         Her latest mystery is:

Fairfield’s Auction

A Witherston Murder Mystery

Things were always dangerous in a blizzard, but his was beyond the normal—something strange was definitely going on…

On a cold winter evening in the small mountain town of Witherston, Georgia, antique dealer Hempton Fairfield auctions off rare Cherokee artifacts, Appalachian antiques, and a young African Grey parrot. Late that night, a blizzard stops traffic for a three-mile stretch of the Witherston Highway, prohibiting anyone’s arrival or departure and stranding an eighteen-wheel semi full of chickens. The next morning two bodies are discovered in the snow, the chickens are running free, and the parrot is missing, leaving a number of unanswered questions. What happened? Where’s the parrot? How did the chickens escape the stranded truck? Who rightfully owns the remnants of the thousand-year-old Cherokee civilization? Who killed the two men? And, most importantly, how many more bodies will turn up before the killer is caught?


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

Other works by BJ:

Lorca’s Poet in New York: The Fall into Consciousness.  Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1977

Literary Relativity.  Lewisburg: Bucknell University Press, 1982

Reconnection: Dualism to Holism in Literary Study.  Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1988  (cloth and paper)  Winner of Frederic W. Ness Award

Laying the Ladder Down: The Emergence of Cultural Holism.  Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1992.  (cloth and paper) Winner of Georgia Author of the Year for Non-fiction

American Patriotism in a Global Society.  SUNY Series in Global Politics.  Albany: State University of New York Press, 1996 (cloth and paper)

Eugene Odum: Ecosystem Ecologist and Environmentalist.  Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2001. (paper edition, 2002)

Conversations with Cosmo: At Home with an African Grey Parrot. Santa Fe: Sherman Asher Publishing, 2010. Foreword Reviews Book of the Year Silver Award (Category Pets) (2011)

            Conversations with Cosmo: At Home with an African Grey Parrot. Red Planet Audiobooks, 2010

Parola di Papagallo (Italian translation of Conversations with Cosmo). Mediterranee, 2013


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Radine Trees Nehring – A Portrait to Die For

On my blog this week, I’m welcoming author, Radine Trees Nehring.


For more than twenty years, Radine Trees Nehring’s magazine features, essays, newspaper articles, and radio broadcasts have shared colorful stories about the people, places, events, and natural world near her Arkansas home.

In 2002, Radine’s first mystery novel, A VALLEY TO DIE FOR, was published and, in 2003 became a Macavity Award Nominee.  Since that time she has continued to earn writing awards as she enthralls her original fans and attracts new ones with her signature blend of down-home Arkansas sightseeing and cozy amateur sleuthing by active retirees Henry King and Carrie McCrite King.

What is it about the Ozarks?

    When John and I bought acres of Ozarks hills and hollows in 1978, there were no houses along our road. We wanted a country location and this was definitely it. Camping in wooded areas in New England, Oregon, and across Canada during our August vacations had awakened something amazing inside both of us. We were a city-dwelling-career-oriented couple from Tulsa, Oklahoma, who had fallen in love with sparsely populated country locations. The city? Careers? We wanted out!
In 1988 we left the city and moved to our Ozarks land and the weekend cabin we had built there. John and friends went to work expanding the cabin into a full-time home while I discovered an interest in writing about what I had fallen in love with–the Arkansas Ozarks. In a surprisingly short time my essays and articles featuring the natural world where we now lived began selling to newspapers and magazines in the United States and some other countries. The Ozarks area, it seemed, was peculiar enough that stories arising there were of interest in many places.
Therefore, you know me to be honest when I say that my love for the Arkansas Ozarks can be credited for the development of my writing career.
After my non-fiction book, “Dear Earth: A Love Letter from Spring Hollow,” was published in 1995, I decided to try writing the type of fiction I enjoyed reading–the cozy mystery novel.
This month “A Portrait to Die For,” the newest novel in my on-going mystery series featuring Carrie McCrite, Henry King, and their unique family and friends, will appear.
Have I left the Ozarks to write these stories?
Not on your life. Every Carrie and Henry adventure is set in a well-known and loved Arkansas location. Together, readers and I have attended a wedding in a haunted hotel in Eureka Springs, been prisoners in a historic bathhouse in Hot Springs National Park, explored collapsing abandoned mines along Buffalo National River, and “enjoyed” many other special places popular with Arkansans and tourists.
This year we’re visiting a location that combines my love of art and of the Ozarks. “A Portrait to Die For” is set in and around Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas. Art Crime? Yes. A cast of characters pulled into danger after Carrie McCrite discovers peculiarities in a pair of paintings on loan to Crystal Bridges? Oh, yes. Add family troubles, an agitated Iraq vet, inept hit men, and a talented forger, and you’ve got high adventure in one more exciting and real Ozarks location.
Okay, Crystal Bridges is not in the country. But it is set in a large, mostly untouched park.
Join me there?

A Portrait to Die For

Carrie discovers two versions of a supposedly original portrait in a loan exhibition at Crystal Bridges of American Art, where she does volunteer work. When the reporter who interviewed Carrie at the museum is abducted, Carrie must choose between honoring her promise to stop crime-solving–or work to find the woman who was her son’s college friend.

FC 300- A Portrait to Die For. - A

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Nadine and I would enjoy hearing from you, so please feel free to leave a comment.

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Kait Carson – Death by Sunken Treasure

This week, I’m hosting author, Kait Carson

KaitCarsonNo Regulator

Kait learned to read at the age of two. Had to, her father wouldn’t read her Prince Valiant in the Sunday comics. Her two favorite books are still Dr. Seuss’s A Fly Went By and Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women. Dr. Seuss was the first book she remembers reading, and the Alcott introduced her to Jo March, and exclamation points. Both changed her life.

Kait’s working life proved just as varied. A seasonal job selling fine china and glassware in the Washington, DC area soon morphed into a move to New York City and a job with a high-end Italian gold jewelry import company. The call of the tropics took her back to Miami and a job working for one of Miami’s most colorful characters as he and his Dallas Cowboy owning partner developed a national restaurant chain. A stint with the fledgling Miami City Ballet provided more grist for the journals. That led to years working with estate planning law firms and lessons learned in the front lines of litigation. She wrote five novels during this time, honing voice and characterization, learning scene and setting. The books, some masterpieces of head hopping, live under her bed. She loved them all.

Today she’s combined her love of scuba diving with her love of writing to create a new series, the second book releasing this month: Death by Sunken Treasure.

My name is not Kait.

Nope, I’m not going to share my real name. There’s a reason I don’t use it in my writing. Oh, I’m nobody famous. That’s what most people think. If an author uses a pen name, either she writes in multiple genres (think JD Robb/Nora Roberts) or she’s famous and trying to hide her identity (think JK Rowling). Wait, that’s a lot of initials. Hum, maybe I should opt for a new pen name. KD Carson? Nah.

Kait Carson is legacy of my first book, Zoned for Murder. Shakespeare knew his stuff when he wrote the famous line in Henry VI, ”The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.” Or as I tell my boss, there’s a reason for all those lawyer jokes. In Zoned, the first victim was a lawyer. And I work for a, what do you call a group of lawyers? A murder would be appropriate, but that’s reserved for crows. Passel? Not sinister enough, but it will have to do. I work for a passel of lawyers. Now I’ve written a book where I’ve killed one. My beta readers spent more time trying to figure out who the cast might be in real life then giving me feedback on the book. It turned into a cottage industry.

The truth is the book is fiction. I killed no lawyers I knew, had heard or, or read about. I killed a figment of my imagination. And that corrupt law firm he worked for? Well, that wasn’t the same firm I worked for, or any firm I’d ever heard of, but an awful lot of people thought it was. When my boss read the book, he took me aside and said, “Kait, they’re going to think this is me. So, to protect my boss, and my firm, and to stop the questions…I became Kait Carson. Now I can slay lawyers with impunity.

In addition to giving me the freedom to write about lawyers, and the legal system as I do in my Hayden Kent books, Death by Blue Water and Death by Sunken Treasure, I made another discovery about having a pen name. This one quite useful. Kait and I have a similar resume. What you read about Kait in the bio section of my books and on social media is true and correct. Except, Kait’s younger. I like that. And she’s brave. I am a jellyfish coward when it comes to personal appearances, putting myself forward, marketing, the bugaboo of authorship in the twenty-first century, scares the heck out of me.

Kait loves to talk. She likes nothing better than standing before a group of people fielding questions and talking about her books. We share dyslexia so neither of us like to read at these events, but public speaking. Piece of cake. Give her a microphone and she’ll go all day. Radio shows, no problem. She’ll charm the host and have him eating out of her hand in no time.  Kait is not me. While I like public speaking, it better be about a topic other than me. I’m useless when it comes to thinking on my feet. Mine is the way of the plodder, I’m not witty, fun, or particularly sparkly. Kait is.

Since Kait and I also happen to share a body, and are relatively sane, none of this makes a lot of sense. As Dolly Parton famously said, “People think I’m a dumb blonde. I know I’m not dumb, and I also know that I’m not blonde.” Well, in my case, I know I’m not Kait, and I also know that she doesn’t exist. Not in the birth certificate sense of exist. Except…When I have go out on the road, appear at bookstores or conferences, meet book clubs in libraries, I slip behind the façade and become Kait. I gave her all the qualities I wish I had and the wishing made it so.

It’s fun to tap into another part of your personality. To be able to set your fears aside and have a great time without second guessing yourself. In that sense, Kait exists. Really, she does, but…

I am not Kait.

Death by Sunken Treasure

When Hayden Kent’s mentor and friend discovers her son Mike’s dead body, dressed in full scuba attire, washed up on Pigeon Key, she needs Hayden. Her paralegal and dive skills may help unravel the tragedy of Mike’s last days. He’d recently discovered a sunken Spanish galleon and rumors that he hit the mother lode ran through the Keys like wild fire.

Hayden’s dive on the treasure site uncovers gold, and clues that Mike’s death was something far more sinister than an accident. When two different wills, both signed the day Mike died, are delivered to the courthouse, the suspect list grows, as do the treats against her. The danger escalates as she tries to save herself, discover the motive, and find the killer.


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Channing Whitaker – Until the Sun Rises – One Night in Drake Mansion

This week, it’s my pleasure to host screenwriter, filmmaker, and novelist,

 Channing Whitaker.


Channing Whitaker is a novelist, screenwriter, and filmmaker originally hailing from Centerville, Iowa. An alum of Indian Hills Community College, Channing went on to study cinema, screenwriting, literature, and mathematics at the University of Iowa.

Post graduation, Channing began his career in the production of television news, independent films, and commercial videos, as well as to write for websites, corporate media, and advertising. His 10-year career in writing has taken Channing from Iowa, to Alaska, Oklahoma, and currently to Texas.

Channing has written five feature-length screenplays, co-written another feature screenplay, and penned a novel. In that time, Channing has also written and directed over 50 short films.

The April 2015 publication of Channing’s debut novel, “Until the Sun Rises – One Night in Drake Mansion,” comes in tandem with the first production of one of Channing’s feature screenplays, “KILD TV” – a horror mystery. “KILD TV” has already filmed, and will premier in March 2016 release.

Until the Sun Rises – One Night in Drake Mansion

Eighty years ago, a wealthy Midwest family returned home from a magic show, after which neither they, nor the magician, Malvern Kamrar, were ever heard from again. When several bystanders died in their mansion, the house was sealed. After nearly a century of rumors and haunted stories, for a live TV event the mansion will be opened, allowing five contestants to spend one night and win their share of a million dollars. The contestants: a psychic, a high-tech ghost hunter, a Hollywood scream queen, a local woman, and a skeptic, fuel excitement as each tries to solve the mystery. Upon entering, the journal of the family patriarch, Vinton Drake, is discovered, illuminating the mystery, rooted all the way back to Vinton’s service as a medic in WWI, when he first met the magician. Departing from the familiar haunted house tale, this story explores the very nature of belief in the supernatural, with consequences more frightening than any ghost story. Intensity sours when the contestants discover their lives, and thousands more, are in genuine peril. Is the mansion haunted? What fate befell Malvern and the Drake family? And will the contestants uncover the truth in time to save themselves?

Excerpt: Until the Sun Rises – One Night in Drake Mansion

Taken from the 3rd chapter.

In the last row, Vieve struck pay dirt—boxes and boxes of candlesticks. “You were right. There are hundreds of candles here, plenty to light the whole house.” She waited, expecting Harlan to show up, or at least reply with praises for her discovery, but she heard nothing. Concerned, she took care to be perfectly quiet. She didn’t even hear Harlan checking boxes or shuffling items across the way.

She stepped out of the isle and anxiously scanned the third row across the way. Panic mounted as she checked the other isles. The small light cast from her helmet and basic flashlight hardly lit the room, but Harlan was nowhere to be found. As she double-checked the isles on both sides, she shrieked his name again and again. Finally, she dashed to the kitchen doorway where she was abruptly grabbed from behind.

Vieve screamed primally. She instinctively brought her arms up to protect her face and midsection, ready to fight for her life.

“I’m here, I’m here,” Harlan said. “I didn’t mean to startle you.”

Vieve shoved him away. “Where were you? You scared the hell out of me! I was worried you’d—”

Harlan drew closer and grasped her trembling hands. “Calm down. Everything’s OK. I’m sorry. There was another door in the corner, obscured by the shelves. I stepped in, just for a minute, but it seems we couldn’t hear each other.” Vieve was slowly calming. “Let me show you.” He released her flashlight hand and took his own light out from under his arm. Still grasping her with one hand, he led her down the end isle on his side. At the very back, blocked by the shelving sides, was a small section where racks were omitted. Behind it, a narrow door was sunk into the brick wall. The door was peculiar compared to the rest of the house. With a half dozen vertically running planks, it was rough, had no finish, and looked more like a makeshift fence gate than a door in a mansion. They opened the door and stepped through.

Harlan pointed his light to the ceiling. It was completely glass, though all that could be seen were piles of leaves and accumulated debris outside. The walls of the room were windowless and lined with rugged, unfinished benches and cabinets. Harlan opened one, showing Vieve it was filled with tools. He pulled out a chisel. “I think this was a wood shop. Maybe Vinton was a woodworking hobbyist.”

“Or someone in the house was. They had more help than just the nanny.”

“Look down here at the end.” He escorted her to the far end of the room, where a hodgepodge office was arranged. Papers were pinned on the wall, a desk was cluttered with documents, a file cabinet was jammed so full it couldn’t close, and there was a small couch and record player in the corner. “I bet the office up front was for show, and well-kept, and this is where Vinton really did his work.” Vieve agreed as she skimmed through the loose papers. Harlan shined his light on a large hand-drawn map on the wall. At the bottom, “Entrance” was marked, then a narrow hall or shaft began with long rooms extending off it, both left and right. Immediately after, another pair of chambers started, and so on and so on for ten rooms.

Vieve looked up to see what had caught Harlan’s eye. “It’s a coal mine. Room-and-pillar format. They mine out all of these long chambers, but they leave enough material between each room to support the ceiling. If you go too wide, they collapse. If you go too narrow, then you lose out on the mineral resources you didn’t mine out.”

“Must have been one of the Drakes’ properties.” Harlan panned the wall with his light. There were dozens of smaller maps throughout. Then Harlan looked down at Vieve and the desk. “Anything interesting?”

“Business contracts, state permits, progress reports, nothing unexpected.”

Harlan scanned the desk then made a very audible “Hmm” sound. Vieve turned, waiting for his thoughts. “This desk looks hand made.”

“Wasn’t everything back then?”

“True, but the Drakes could have afforded a master craftsman’s piece. This seems to have a number of little flaws, like the work of a novice. If Vinton dabbled in woodworking, I have to wonder if he made it.”

“Could be.”

“When I was a kid my father loved to woodwork, and I always helped. I still do when I get home to visit.” Vieve smiled. “I’ve always planned to take it up myself once I’m out of school for good, and actually have free time.” Harlan saw Vieve was growing impatient. “Whenever we made a piece of furniture like this, we always added a secret compartment, a drawer with a false bottom or something similar, for fun mainly, but something only the builder would know about. My parents’ house has several dozen hiding spots.”

“So you think Vinton might have put something like that in this desk?”

“A secret second office through a concealed door in the pantry—there’s no reason not to check.” Harlan handed Vieve his flashlight. All lights shone on the desk. There were three drawers along the side. Harlan pulled the top drawer completely out. He sifted through its contents briefly and then upended it, scattering objects and notes everywhere. Vieve jumped. Harlan shot her an apologetic smile as he knocked on the bottom of the drawer both from inside and outside. He repeated this inspection with the second and third drawers but found nothing.

Next, Harlan pulled out the pen tray just under the top of the desk, the last drawer in the piece, but found nothing of interest there either. Finally, Harlan cleared the jumble from the desk surface, placed one ear down on the desktop, and proceeded to knock on it gently, moving his knuckles steadily to span the entire surface.

“A-ha.” Harlan ceased knocking. “Let’s see.” He slid his hands inside the cavity where the pen tray had sat. They barely fit. He had to strain to press them in far enough, but after a few moments a mechanical click sounded. Vieve looked on curiously as Harlan grinned with satisfaction and a hatch swung down, up underneath the desk where one’s legs would fit. It was hinged at the back and folded up flush with the bottom of the pen tray. When hanging down it had a file compartment, open on top and positioned at the very back, against the wall. “It wouldn’t be much of a haunted mansion without hidden rooms and secret hiding places, huh?”

Harlan leaned down on his knees and beckoned for light. He reached back to the compartment and came out with a leather-bound volume. Both of their minds raced with anticipation. Harlan started to open it, but paused. “I hope it’s not just an accounting ledger.”

“Will you open it already?” When he turned the cover, a slip of paper fell to the floor. It was jagged along one side like a page torn from a small-bound pad. Harlan thumbed through the first few pages, each filled with handwritten paragraphs, as Vieve retrieved the scrap.

“It looks like a journal of sorts.” Harlan looked to Vieve, but she didn’t respond. Her focus was locked on the note. “Vieve?” She finally looked up with wide eyes and handed Harlan the slip.

No one heard my voice. Panicked screams had filled the air. I stood and declared, “Dead. He’s dead.” When I released his wrist, it too sounded the drum as it landed on the stage floor. “That’s the second time he has died in my hands.

 They looked at one another, both drunk with excitement. Harlan grabbed Vieve’s hand and pulled her to sit on the small couch. With both helmets and flashlights compounded, the pages of the journal lit up brightly. The first page had a title in all caps:


A byline below read: “By Vinton Drake.” They both leaned in eagerly as Harlan turned the page.

Until the Sun Rises

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J.J. White – Deviant Acts

This week I’m hosting author, J.J. White

jj white 1

White is an award winning novelist and short story writer who has been published in several anthologies and magazines including, Wordsmith, The Homestead Review, The Seven Hills Review, Bacopa Review, and The Grey Sparrow Journal. His story, The Adventures of the Nine Hole League, was recently published in The Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine, #13. He has won awards and honors from the Alabama Writers Conclave, Writers-Editors International, Maryland Writers Association, The Royal Palm Literary Awards, Professional Writers of Prescott, and Writer’s Digest.

I Can’t Type—Don’t Ask Me

I can’t type. It’s true. But I’m not the first author to write all his works in longhand. Nabokov wrote Lolita on index cards, boxes of them, I imagine, unless he wrote in tiny little letters. Capote was more traditional, writing on a pad, usually while in bed smoking a cigarette and sipping coffee. Joyce Carol Oates used a pencil for her prose and probably still does. I use a pen, which is easier on the fingers than a pencil, but the difference between me and the aforementioned, other than they’ve had a bit more success than I have, is that I don’t type it up afterward. My lovely wife, Pamela, tackles that chore. That could be the reason I married her. She was attractive, intelligent, single, had a three-year-old car, two hundred dollars in her savings account, and she could type. I was attending college at the time and had just paid a secretary a dollar per page to type my twenty page report on an IBM Selectric. (Okay—I’m old)  So, I couldn’t lose by proposing marriage to Pamela, who was practically perfect in every way and had the ability to read my writing.

I hated typing from an early age. Six to be exact. I analyzed my mother’s Underwood and concluded some idiot must have designed the thing, since none of the keys seemed to be in any logical order. I remedied that by writing the alphabet on a sheet of white construction paper and cutting each letter into a circle the size of a typewriter key. Then I glued them to the keys, this time in their proper order. No more ridiculous QWERTY. ABCDEF made more sense to me. It took me to “H” before I figured out gluing different letters to the keys didn’t change the letter the keys typed.

I have written ten novels, three hundred short stores, many magazine articles, several golf columns, bad checks, a hurried last will and testament on a 737 during a thunderstorm, and all in longhand. Sadly, I have never looked at a computer monitor and typed a word on the keyboard at the same time.

Here is how I write. I bullet a chapter outline, let it fester in my head the rest of the day, and then, when the words seem ready to burst out of me, I write them down on a pad of college-ruled paper. I’m pretty much done at that point. My next step is to staple the handwritten pages together, meekly hand them over to Pamela and ask her nicely to interrupt her viewing of Downton Abbey to type them up and then email them back to me so I can do a first edit. She frowns, hits pause on the DVR (thank God for DVRs) and reluctantly transforms my horrible, handwritten twenty pages into twelve or so neatly typed pages.

 My friends call her a saint and I have to agree. My handwriting has been described as looking like a chicken stepped in a puddle of ink and had a seizure on a pad of paper. Yes—a saint.

At this point, I mark up the hard copy, just like Nabokov and Capote did, except I change pretty much everything. And that’s just the first draft.

Still, I believe writing in longhand is my only option. My brain and my pen have found some kind of equilibrium and if I tried to change, it might alter the space-time continuum and annihilate the universe.

By the way, my agent and publisher complain I don’t promote my books properly and spend too much time writing guest blogs. So, to appease them, I’ll now do a shout-out for my latest book, Deviant Acts, a cool crime fiction tale on sale for less than the cost of a large popcorn at the movies.

But don’t buy my book because I said to, buy it as kudos to my poor wife, Saint Pam, who must suffer my apoplectic scribbling and make sense of the chaos.

DeviantActs cover

His crime fiction book, Deviant Acts, was released by Black Opal books in November, and will be followed by his Historical Fiction book, Nisei, in 2016. He was recently nominated for the Pushcart Prize for his short piece, Tour Bus. He lives in Merritt Island, Florida with his understanding wife and editor, Pamela.

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Deviant Acts on Amazon

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

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Lorraine Nelson – Daydreams and Night Scenes

On my blog this week, I’m welcoming author, Lorraine Nelson

LN 2

Lorraine Nelson is a multi-published, award-winning author of romantic suspense who lives in rural New Brunswick, on the east coast of Canada. Always a bookworm, she’s read many novels of romance and mystery over the years, finally deciding to put her pen to work at writing one.

“To write romance and romantic suspense is my dream come true, although my mom says I was born with an avid imagination and pencil in hand, crafting stories from an early age. Now my children have grown and have lives of their own, I have time to indulge my passion for writing.”

Lorraine enjoys spending time with her three sons and six grandchildren. When not at the computer, you can find her spending time with family, gardening, baking and, of course, reading.

Daydreams and Night Scenes

A night of love. Fantasy or Fateful Alliance?

Miranda Stuart is lushly built, hauntingly beautiful, career-oriented, and extremely intelligent, but thanks to a teenage crush on Alex Denning, a man who was way out of her league, she acts out of character when they meet up years later at a posh resort. She determines to have her fantasy night in his arms. When the night’s magic should have begun (unbeknownst to him) our dashing, billionaire playboy enters the scene with bright lights blaring and another woman in tow. Had she just set herself up for blackmail?

Here is an excerpt from Chapter 1 of Daydreams and Night Scenes

Miranda Stuart (Randi to her friends) sidled up to the bar and ordered her favorite predinner drink, a Long Island Iced Tea. She’d taken a much-needed break from the convention activities ongoing at the posh luxury resort. She hadn’t drawn a complete breath since arriving, hence the need for a touch of liquid refreshment.

Randi perched on a padded stool and sipped her drink while facing a mirror that spanned the full width of the bar. She didn’t pay much attention to the reflection of clientele in the popular nightclub until he came into focus.

Her eyes zeroed in on absolute power and raw sexuality radiating from the drop-dead gorgeous man. Stopping now and then to engage in conversation, he towered over everyone as he circled the room drawing inexplicably closer to where she sat.

This couldn’t be happening. Randi couldn’t believe billionaire playboy, Alexander Denning, had casually straddled the stool beside her. He was the only chink in her armor of collective cool. Alex had been her first real crush and he didn’t even know she existed.

Averting her eyes, she caught a look at herself in the mirror. She, who had fought her way to the top in a man’s world, who had perfected a calm, efficient, and sophisticated façade, was looking as giddy and star struck as a teenager on her first date…and all he had done was sit beside her.

Taking a sip of her drink to cure her dry throat, she swallowed too quickly and began sputtering and choking. When he handed her a napkin and patted her back for good measure she felt the touch of his large, gentle hand all the way to the tips of her toes.

“Better now?” Alexander asked as she came up for air.

“Yes, much better. Thank you,” she stammered in embarrassment.

“No thanks necessary. My name is Alex,” he offered, giving her time to compose herself. “You made quite an entrance earlier,” he remarked.

“Me? Make an entrance? You’ve must be joking.”

“Not at all. Every eye in the room followed the sway of your hips and those endless, long legs as you strutted toward the bar. The women in envy, I suspect, and the men with their tongues hanging out.”

“Now I know you’re poking fun at me. Does this line of flattery actually work on the women you connect with?” “It’s not flattery. It’s fact. And this is the first time I’ve tried this approach so, you tell me,” he responded with an engaging grin, “is it working?”

Daydreams and Night Scenes cover_TAKE 4

Lorraine’s books are listed on her website. You’ll find blurbs, excerpts, reviews, and purchase links there.

She loves to hear from readers. You can keep up with Lorraine’s releases by visiting her at the following locations:

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Cheryl Hollon – Shards of Murder

Today, it’s my pleasure to welcome back author, Cheryl Hollon.


Cheryl Hollon writes full time after she left an engineering career of designing and building military flight simulators in amazing countries such as England, Wales, Australia, Singapore, Taiwan and India. Fulfilling the dream of a lifetime, she combines her love of writing with a passion for creating glass art. In the small glass studio behind her house, Cheryl and her husband design, create, and produce fused glass, stained glass and painted glass artworks. Learn more at

She is a member of Sisters in Crime, the Florida Chapter of Mystery Writers of America and the Tampa Chapter of the Romance Writers of America. A mystery conference addict, she regularly attends SleuthFest in Florida, Malice Domestic in Washington, D.C., and New England Crime Bake in Dedham, MA. Cheryl and her husband live in St. Petersburg, FL in a 1920’s Craftsman Bungalow.

When did you decide to become a writer?

There were two separate moments when I began to think I might want to be a writer.

The first was when I had just started working in the flight simulation industry as a computer systems engineer. A large part of the business of staying in business for a military subcontractor is to write proposals for future work. This entails a lot of writing to very restrictive parameters regarding length and subject matter. The deadlines were quick and the mountain of requirements to be addressed was higher than Mt. Everest.

The method for getting the proposals in on time was to split the work into pieces so that multiple engineers could each write a segment and then our boss compiled it into a single submission. On my first proposal, the boss called a meeting to critique the different entries and, as you can image, the quality was all over the map.

When she came to my part of the proposal, there was a long silence. I began to panic thinking that my entry was so horrible she was shocked speechless. Then she looked up and said, “You can really write. Are you sure you’re an engineer?”

The second moment was when I was deep in my black & white photography phase. I had an old Haselblad medium format camera and hand developed the film along with making my own prints.

It was a lot of work and required care and finesse to create a fine art print. After working for days in the darkroom, I finally had a set of three images to submit for a show to be displayed in our local theater lobby. But, part of the entry form required a written synopsis describing each photograph and its meaning to the photographer.

My favorite print is a haunting image of a homeless woman dressed head-to-toe in unrelieved white moving slowly through the spring flower market in Boston. I wrote a tiny abstract and titled it “Wishing for Daffodils.”

At the exhibit opening, my husband and I found my photographs and he read the text beside the woman in white. He looked at the print and looked back at me. “You should be a writer.”

There you have it – when my husband and my boss both suggested that I should be a writer – I believed them.

About Shards of Murder:

When a glass-making competition turns deadly, glass shop owner Savannah Webb must search for a window into a criminal’s mind…

As the new proprietor of Webb’s Glass Shop, Savannah has been appointed to fill her late father’s shoes as a judge for the Spinnaker Arts Festival, held in downtown St. Petersburg, Florida. With her innovative glass works, the clear winner is Megan Loyola, a student of Savannah’s former mentor.

But when Megan doesn’t show up to accept her $50,000 award, rumors start flying. And when Savannah discovers the woman’s dead body on festival grounds, the police immediately suspect her of murder. To keep from appearing before a judge herself, Savannah sorts through the broken pieces of glass scattered around the victim for clues as to who took this killer competition too far. . .

Shards of Murder cover

“Cheryl Hollon clearly knows her glass craft, but better still, she also knows how to craft a good mystery.” –Sheila Connolly, New York Times bestselling author

“A fresh and original new series!” –Krista Davis, New York Times bestselling author

You can visit Cheryl and her books at:

Other books by Cheryl Hollon:

Pane and Suffering (Webb’s Glass Shop mystery 1)

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Pane & Suffering

Shards of Murder

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

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Alexandra Sokoloff – Cold Moon

This week, it’s my pleasure to host author, Alexandra Sokoloff.

Alexandra Sokoloff is the Thriller Award-winning and Bram Stoker, Anthony, and Black Quill Award-nominated author of the supernatural thrillers The Harrowing, The Price, The Unseen, Book of Shadows, The Shifters, and The Space Between; The Keepers paranormal series, and the Thriller Award-nominated, Amazon bestselling Huntress/FBI Thrillers series (Huntress Moon, Blood Moon, Cold Moon), which has been optioned for television. She has also written three non-fiction workbooks: Stealing Hollywood, Screenwriting Tricks for Authors, and Writing Love, based on her internationally acclaimed workshops and blog (, and has served on the Board of Directors of the WGA, West (the screenwriters union) and the board of the Mystery Writers of America.

Alex is a California native and a graduate of U.C. Berkeley, where she majored in theater and minored in everything Berkeley has a reputation for. She lives in Los Angeles and in Scotland, with Scottish crime author Craig Robertson.

Alex belongs to several online readers groups and there’s a question that has been coming up frequently, lately:

Is Crime Fiction entertainment?

This is a thorny issue, right? But I’m glad to see it being discussed. For me – no. I DON’T read crime fiction for entertainment. When I pick up a crime novel as a reader, I want to see intelligent treatment of societal evils that focuses on bringing awareness to problems and proposing activist solutions.

That’s my goal as an author, too.

My Huntress Moon series is intense, page-turning psychological and procedural suspense.  I worked as a Hollywood screenwriter for ten years before I wrote my first novel. I’m well aware that I need to deliver a satisfying genre experience to my readers. If they’re not biting their nails and staying up way past their bedtimes, I’m not doing my job.

But within the context of a ripping thriller, I am writing about issues I care passionately about and want to eradicate for good – meaning the good of everyone on the planet. Violence against women. Child sexual abuse. Human trafficking.

The last thing I want to do is show these scenes in a way that anyone could get pleasure out of. The few times I show anything on the page, it’s very brief and absolutely not there for entertainment.  I think we all understand that rape is horrific – we don’t need to see graphic scenes to understand that. And I am very suspicious of any book that starts with a beautiful woman obviously being set up to be raped and tortured. Sexualizing rape and torture is not solving any problem – it’s actually contributing to the atrocity of sexual abuse.  Personally I won’t support any book or author that sexualizes scenes of abuse.

I suppose as an author you can avoid these tough issues by writing cozies, or another genre entirely. But I don’t read cozies, and I wouldn’t know how to write one. I used to teach in the L.A. County prison system. I want to explore the roots of crime, not soft-pedal it. For better or worse, my core theme as a writer is “What can good people do about the evil in the world?”

So my choice is to confront the issue head on.

The fact is, one reason crime novels and film and TV so often depict women as victims is because it’s reality. Since the beginning of time, women haven’t been the predators – we’re the prey. Personally, I’m not going to pretend otherwise.

But after all those years (centuries, millennia) of women being victims of the most heinous crimes out there… wouldn’t you think that someone would finally say – “Enough”?

And maybe even strike back?

Well, that’s a story, isn’t it?

So my Huntress Moon series is about just that.

The books take the reader on an interstate manhunt with a haunted FBI agent on the track of what he thinks may be that most rare of criminals – a female serial killer.

And here’s what’s really interesting. Arguably there’s never been any such thing as a female serial killer in real life. The women that the media holds up as serial killers operate from a completely different psychology from the men who commit what the FBI calls “sexual homicide”.

So what’s that about? Why do men do it and women don’t? Women rarely kill, compared to men — but when it happens, what does make a woman kill?

Within the context of my Huntress series I can explore those psychological and sociological questions, and invite my readers to ask – Why? I can realistically bring light to crimes that I consider pretty much the essence of evil – and turn the tables on the perpetrators.

And I’ve created a female character who breaks the mold – but in a way that makes psychological sense for the overwhelming majority of people who read the books.

Whoever she is, whatever she is, the Huntress is like no killer Agent Roarke – or the reader – has ever seen before. And you may find yourself as conflicted about her as Roarke is.

Because as one of the profilers says in the book: “I’ve always wondered why we don’t see more women acting out this way. God knows enough of them have reason.”

So what do you think?

Readers, do you read crime fiction for entertainment? Are you looking for something that goes farther and examines the root of crime, and maybe even solutions? Are you concerned about scenes of violence against women being presented as sexualized entertainment?

Authors/writers: is this an issue you grapple with? Have you found ways of exploring real-life issues of violence against women and children that both fulfill the conventions of the thriller genre and avoid brutalization for entertainment?

 I’m always interesting in hearing!

  • Alex

Please feel free to leave a comment.




SALE ALERT:  The first three books in the HUNTRESS MOON series, and my supernatural thriller BOOK OF SHADOWS are all on sale on Amazon UK this month for just 99p each.

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Blood Moon:

Cold Moon:

Book of Shadows:


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Weslynn McCallister / Jamie Cortland

This week, I’m hosting author, Weslynn McCallister, writing as, Jamie Cortland.


Weslynn McCallister, pseudonym, Jamie Cortland was born in Evansville, Indiana and raised in Roswell, New Mexico. Today, she lives in the southwest.

 A published novelist and an award winning poet, she is a member of Sisters in Crime, the Mystery Writers of America, and is a founding member of the Florida Writers Association.

Why I Love to Write

Since I was a young girl, l have always loved to write; poems, short stories and later, newsletters for large groups. My ambition was to write a best seller.

When I began, I wasn’t sure what genre I wanted to settle upon, I tried romance, mystery and even a 450 page sci-fi. I did well with each. Finally, I settled upon romantic suspense which I love to read.

I enjoy forming my characters which must be strong and believable no matter how outrageous. You can read books on creating characters, take classes, but I recommend you become familiar with both Janet Evanovich and Darynda Jones novels.

A master with creating characters, Darynda Jones has written the Charley Davidson paranormal series featuring Charley Davidson, a real bad ass of a detective who just happens to be the grim reaper. Her boyfriend, Reyes is none other than the son of Satan.

Janet Evanovich who features some fantastic characters in her Stephanie Plum series has a partner, Lulu, who is a former “ho” while Stephanie’s boyfriend, Joe Morelli, handsome and sexy is the hero. Compelling, dangerous and questionable Ranger, competes for Stephanie’s attention while often saving Stephanie’s neck.

What I haven’t mentioned about writing that I particularly like to do is research. When I wrote “Watt’s Deck,” a time travel romance written under my given name, Weslynn McCallister, my research took me to Tombstone, Arizona on a wild journey through time into the late 1800s and days leading up to the OK Corral shootout. I wish I could actually have traveled through time, but I had to rely upon re-enactments, research books and visiting the cemeteries and dance hall saloons.

“Dying to Dance” completely immersed me into the wonderful, glamorous, and fascinating world of  Ballroom Dance. I left no stone unturned , spent many hours on the dance floor and finally became an advanced bronze student of ballroom dance, both national and international.

I have no doubt that my next novel will introduce me to more fascinating places.” Currently, I am reading “Sixth Grave on the Edge” by Darynda Jones.

Dying to Dance

Char and Diana Mansville, two sisters in their early twenties, lose their parents in a tragic accident. Finding themselves on the brink of financial disaster, they re-locate to southwest Florida to live with their aunt, a beautiful and wealthy ballroom dancer. Once there, they meet handsome and charismatic Roland Donovan, who is a sociopath and involved in a deadly insurance scheme. Stricken by Diana’s beauty and charm, he sets his focus upon her and relentlessly begins his pursuit of her.

Dying to Dance 3D Book Cover

Website URL: Weslynn McCallister, Author

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What Lies Within

Dying to Dance

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

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A C Burch – Homeport Journals

On this Valentine’s day, I’m hosting author, A.C. Burch.


A.C. Burch is a long-time Provincetown resident who spent his early summers on Cape Cod and since then, the sand has never left his shoes. His first visit to Provincetown sparked a romance with the town and forged a love of the sea that continues to this day—most summer days will find him sailing on Cape Cod Bay. A.C. trained as a classical musician, but his passion for the arts extends to photography, the art scene in Provincetown and Miami, as well as the written word. His literary icons run the gamut from Jane Austen to Agatha Christie by way of Walter Mosely and Patrick Dennis.

The Gift of Earth, Wind & Fire

The world has lost a great talent with the death of Maurice “Reese” White, the driving force of this iconic group.

I first learned of his passing from a tweet Bette Midler wrote… “Maurice White, a founding member of Earth, Wind and Fire, has died. Great music, energy, great spirit. The Lord must need a band up there.” Bette’s words are perfect. I cannot begin to improve on them. What I would like to share is the profound impact Earth, Wind & Fire had on my sense of self.

I grew up in a rural setting. There were just over 100 students from 3 towns in my graduating class. From an early age, I was an outcast who knew I was different. Everyone else seemed cut from the same bolt of cloth: athletes, farm-boys, and punks who bullied me relentlessly. When I saw the parents of these kids, they were adult versions of the same. It soon became clear why. The town had been a static farming community for centuries—and in the late 60’s and early 70’s it still remained smug, self-satisfied, and ignorant of any other way of life. My great-grandfather had built a summer cottage 60 years before, and my mother had owned her own place since the 30’s. Yet, when my family moved there in the late 50’s, we were still considered outsiders.

Being tall and un-athletic, with bright red hair and an Irish complexion, I knew I’d never fit in. There was more to it than just that. Though I didn’t recognize it at the time, my tormentors saw in my gentle ways a nascent homosexuality I’d yet to recognize in myself. In those days, that was all it took to be cast from the herd. There has to be something better than this, I constantly told myself. As I reached my high school years and began to contemplate college, the future looked grim. What if being an outsider was just my lot in life and this is what it will always be like?

At first, college seemed an escape, but then a different, and perhaps more insidious form of harassment showed its face as students competed for prime performance slots. Sarcasm, mockery, and intimidation were all within bounds and, in my unsophisticated case, an extremely effective weapon. Refusing to give as good as I got, while still placing well in auditions, I drew a lot of fire. The problem must be me, I thought. What is it about me they hate so much? The isolation and tension of my circumstances took its toll. I grew reticent, angry, uneasy in crowds, and perpetually on edge.

As a budding musician, I kept up with trends outside my core focus of orchestral music. And I found Earth, Wind & Fire. At first, their music drew me because of it’s phenomenal brass section. I played the trumpet and was naturally drawn to the riffs and on point pyrotechnics. It wasn’t long before I was paying close attention to words of inspiration from songs written by Maurice and his brother Verdine. Those lyrics, delivered by Phillip Bailey’s soaring falsetto, gave me chills.

Here’s a sample from the song “Mighty Mighty,” written in 1974.
“Everyday is real, don’t run from fear
‘Cause better days are very near
There are times when you are bound to cry
One more time, head to the sky…

Walk around, why wear a frown?
Say, Little people, try to put you down
What you need is a helpin’ hand
All the strength, at your command…

We are people, of the mighty
Mighty people of the sun
In our hearts lies all the answers
To the truth you can’t run from…”

By 1975, I was beginning to realize my discomfort with my “truth” was part of the problem. People sensed my lack of authenticity and timid efforts to compensate for it. That, combined with rampant prejudice, was ensuring I’d have the same experience wherever I went. I realized I was trying to accommodate a world that would never accept me. At this crucial moment, Reese spoke again with these words from “That’s The Way of the World.”

“You will find peace of mind
If you look way down in your heart and soul
Don’t hesitate ’cause the world seems cold…”

Though the struggles chronicled by Earth, Wind and Fire were not mine by birth, I certainly resonated with the fight. The prevailing, white male culture seemed to be setting all the rules. Even though I, too, was a white male, I would never be an insider. Over time, I began to see that as a gift, though in my twenties, I just wanted to escape. When I graduated from college, it was to the lyrics to “Getaway.”

“So you say you tried but you just can’t find the pleasure
People around you givin’ you pressure
Try to resist all the hurt that’s all around you
If you taste it, it will haunt you…

Watch for the signs that lead in the right direction
Not to heed them is a bad reflection
They’ll show you the way into what you have been seeking
To ignore them you’re only cheating

So come, take me by the hand
We’ll leave this troubled land
I know we can getaway…”

I watched for the signs, and they did show the way. When my first partner—a kind, loving, man of color who knew more of oppression and hatred than I could begin to imagine—came into my life, I was at peace. The year we moved in together, Reese spoke again—perhaps most powerfully—in the 1978 release of “Fantasy.”

“Every man has a place
In his heart there’s a space
And the world can’t erase his fantasies
Take a ride in the sky
On our ship, fantasize
All your dreams will come true right away…

You will find other kind
That has been in search of you
Many lives has brought you to
Recognize, it’s your life now in review…

And we will live together
Until the twelfth of never
Our voices will ring forever, as one…

I found my “kind.” The path laid out by Reese’s lyrics led me to loving friends of all ages and lifestyles who have contributed to a rich and rewarding life. Reflecting back, I’m taken with the fact that his words seemed to arrive at just the right moment. To this day, whenever I listen to Earth, Wind & Fire, I feel a connection to the young man who was struggling to make his way. It’s as if a large part of my personal struggle lives on within the music. When I listen now—from that much better place—I am grateful for the choices I made and the strength I found.

Godspeed, Reese White, as you start a new gig “up there.” Thanks for showing me the way. I can think of no better send off than your lyrics from “Shining Star.”

“Shining star come in to view
Shine its watchful light on you
Give you strength to carry on
Make your body big and strong
Born a man child of the sun
Saw my work had just begun

Found I had to stand alone
Bless it now I’ve got my own
So, if you find yourself in need
Why don’t you listen to these words of heed…

You’re a shining star
No matter who you are
Shining bright to see
What you could truly be.”

Homeport Journals

Fleeing New York City and an abusive partner, would-be writer Marc Nugent finds work at HomePort, the Provincetown mansion of Lola Staunton, a fabulously wealthy recluse. Aided by an attractive-but-unattainable artist and an all-too-available cross-dresser, Marc investigates accusations of rape and murder that have estranged Lola from a childhood friend for more than sixty years. Past and present converge when a long-lost journal reveals tales of infidelity, adultery, and passion that mirror the life Marc has recently abandoned. When his ex-lover arrives in search of revenge, Marc must confront his past, his notions of family, and his capacity for love.

Evocative, funny and heartfelt, The HomePort Journals will be to Provincetown what Tales of the City is to San Francisco. – William J. Mann Author, The Men from the Boys series.

A cockeyed, full-hearted Provincetown fantasia, The Homeport Journals combines history and romance with a dash of wit and a firm belief that in some magical places there is always a second chance- for love and for art. -Heidi Jon Schmidt Author, The House on Oyster Creek

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