May 112017
 

Code Blood

by Kurt Kamm

on Tour April 1 – May 31, 2017

Synopsis:

Code Blood by Kurt Kamm

Colt Lewis, a rookie fire paramedic, is obsessed with finding the severed foot of his first victim after she dies in his arms. His search takes him into the connected lives of a graduate research student, with the rarest blood in the world and the vampire fetishist who is stalking her. Within the corridors of high-stakes medical research laboratories, the shadow world of body parts dealers, and the underground Goth clubs of Los Angeles, Lewis uncovers a tangled maze of needles, drugs and maniacal ritual, all of which lead to death. But whose death? An unusual and fast-paced LA Noir thriller.

Stop by tomorrow to read my review

Book Details:

Genre: Suspense, Vampire
Published by: MCM Publishing
Publication Date: October 2012
Number of Pages: 233
ISBN: 0979855136 (ISBN13: 9780979855139)
Series: Code Blood is a Stand Alone Novel
Purchase Links: Amazon 🔗 | Barnes & Noble 🔗 | Goodreads 🔗

Code Blood Literary Awards:

  • Writer’s Type – First Chapter Competition. January 2011- First Place
  • 2012 International Book Awards – Fiction: Cross Genre Category – First Place
  • National Indie Excellence Book Awards – Faction (fiction based on fact) – Winner of the 2012 Award
  • The 2012 USA Best Book Awards – Fiction: Horror – Winner
  • LuckyCinda Publishing Contest 2013 First Place – Thriller
  • Reader’s Favorite 2013– Finalist – Horror Fiction
  • Knoxville Writer’s Guild – 2011 Novella or Novel Excerpt – 2nd Place

Read an excerpt:

Colt heard a small chopper. It sounded like a lawnmower. He knew it couldn’t be the AirSquad and looked up. A news helicopter circled overhead. He saw another coming up the coast from Los Angeles. In minutes, news crews in vans would arrive, extend their satellite transmission poles, broadcast pictures of the accident and fan out to find people to interview. In the process, several spectators would have a moment of fame on Los Angeles network television. The accident would be a good lead-in on the 11:00 p.m. Sunday night news, but the anchors would be disappointed that a Malibu celebrity wasn’t involved.

Moose joined them with the backboard and laid it down next to the girl’s body.

Brian checked the C-spine. “Ready guys? On my count.”

The men prepared to roll the girl on her side.

“Be careful,” Colt said.

Brian gave Colt a quick look and said, “One, two, three.”

In unison, they rolled her onto her side, Moose pushed the board in toward her and the men laid her back onto it.

Colt thought he heard her utter a faint moan. While Brian secured the head brace and straps across her body and prepared her for transport across the beach, he looked at her bloodied leg again. “Where’s the foot?” he shouted. “Does someone have her foot?” She still wore one delicate leather sandal.

“We can’t find the sucker,” one of the deputies told Colt.

“Can’t find it? How’s that possible?” Colt said. The girl needed her foot. They had to ice it down before the tissue started to die. It might be reattached. “It has to be here somewhere.” He went over to the damaged pickup.

The driver of the truck sat with his head down, behind the metal screen in the back seat of a black and white. A sheriff’s deputy stood outside, questioning him through the window and writing on his notepad. Colt interrupted. “Where’s the foot?” He was met with a shrug and a blank stare from the deputy. Colt looked at the driver of the pickup, a man about his own age, and hated him.

Colt walked around the pickup. Glass shards from a headlight and pieces of plastic lay on the ground. He knelt in a pool of green coolant dripping from the smashed radiator and looked under the front of the truck. The foot wasn’t there. He stood up and looked around.

Thirty or forty people stood in the parking lot watching the activity.

Excerpt from Code Blood by Kurt Kamm. Copyright © 2012 by Kurt Kamm. Reproduced with permission from Kurt Kamm. All rights reserved.

Author Bio:

Kurt KammMalibu, California resident Kurt Kamm has written a series of firefighter mystery novels which have won several literary awards. He is also the author of The Lizard’s Tale, which provides a unique look inside the activities of the Mexican drug cartels and the men dedicated to stopping them.

Kurt has used his contacts with several California fire departments, as well as with the ATF and DEA to write fact-based (“faction”) novels.

In his chilling and suspenseful multi-award winning novel, Code Blood, Kurt takes the reader into the connected lives of a fire paramedic, a Chinese research student with the rarest blood type in the world, and the blood-obsessed killer who stalks her.

Colt Lewis, a young Los Angeles County fire paramedic responds to a fatal accident. The victim dies in his arms. Her foot has been severed but is nowhere to be found. Who is the woman, and what happened to her foot? During a weeklong search, Colt risks his career to find the victim’s identity and her missing foot. His search leads him to a dark and disturbing side of Los Angeles…an underworld of body part dealers and underground Goth clubs. He uncovers a tangled maze of drugs, needles, and rituals.

Emergency medicine, high-tech medical research, and the unsettling world of blood fetishism and body parts make for an edgy L.A. Noir thriller.

Kurt has built an avid fan base among first responders and other readers. A graduate of Brown University and Columbia Law School, Kurt was previously a financial executive and semi-professional bicycle racer. He was also Chairman of the UCLA/Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center Foundation for several years.

Q&A with Kurt Kamm

Welcome!

Writing and Reading:
Do you draw from personal experiences?
My first writing instructor said, “write what you know.” I have found that you can ”know” a lot more by doing research. Today on the Internet, you can research anything, and see pictures of everything. In Code Blood, I have a scene at a funeral home. It would be easy to imagine one, but I searched for pictures until I found a unique looking place, a large house, which was much better than I could have ever imagined. Similarly, I have a scene at night on the Santa Monica Pier, and standing there at 10:00 P.M. after the shops closed, I saw and saw some pretty strange things. Also, joining chat rooms on various topics is very instructive. For Code Blood, I visited several very weird discussions where people were obsessing about vampires, discussing blood types, tattoos, and some things I would never have imagined. Personal experience can take you only so far, research and the Internet can take you anywhere.

When I finished Code Blood I had to laugh at some of the characters I had created, personalities who were not in my knowledge base when I began.

Do you start with the conclusion and plot in reverse or start from the beginning and see where the story line brings you?
I have heard that some mystery authors outline every chapter, some even every paragraph, before they begin their novels. I’ve never even been able to list my chapters when I start a novel. I begin with an idea and a couple of vague characters and just start writing. There are adjustments, and some deleting and pasting along the way, but my characters lead me. They live their own lives and tell me what to write.

In the case of Code Blood, a paramedic at a fire station near my house on Pacific Coast Highway told me a true story about responding to an accident where the victim’s foot had been severed. It took him almost 30 minutes to find it, lodged beneath a pickup truck which was involved in the accident. That started me thinking….what if some weirdo walked out of a nearby restaurant, saw the foot and picked it up? What if it was the paramedic’s first accident and he became obsessed with finding the foot. Voila, a plot.

Are any of your characters based on you or people that you know?
I think all my characters have personality traits or quirks which I have seen in my lifetime, but no character is specifically based on a single person I have known. Again, in Code Blood, I would be embarrassed to admit I know some of the characters.

Your routine when writing? Any idiosyncrasies?
I try to write 2-3 hours most days. I write in the afternoon, and need complete silence. From my kitchen window, I can look out on the Pacific Ocean. Years ago, I was a competitive cyclist, and still do very hard, 3 hour rides every other day. During those rides, my mind can just drift. I often solve plot problems, and advance the story while I am riding. It’s a very creative time, the challenge is to remember what I have thought about by the time I get home, exhausted. Also I keep paper and pen by my bed, because sometimes in the middle of the night I will wake up with an idea which will be gone in the morning if I don’t write it down.

Tell us why we should read this book.
I think it is a fun read, filled with interesting characters. Markus, a strange kid who thinks he’s a vampire, will be someone you will love to hate. Colt, the dedicated paramedic is someone you will love. The Russian body parts dealers? Well, let’s just say I had a ball imagining them. You will also get a good look at emergency medicine, high tech medical research, rare blood types, and the underside of Los Angeles.

Who are some of your favorite authors?/What are you reading now?
I have read everything by Hemingway and F Scott. I like Ewan McGregor, James Salter and Stuart O’Nan. Recent books, which I really liked include: The North Water, The Lost City of the Monkey God, Night of Fire, and The Devils of Cardona.

Are you working on your next novel? Can you tell us a little about it?
After 6 novels in 10 years, I’m taking a break.

Your favorite leisure activity/hobby?
I am an exercise freak. Riding my bike and weight workouts are a must. I also (surprise) read a lot.

Favorite meal?
I’m glad you asked. Markus’ favorite meal would simply be a tiny vial of dark red Bombay Blood, the rarest blood type in the world. He empty a few drops at a time onto his tongue, letting it rest there while he imagined all the incredible things it would do inside his body. (Poor Markus, what a fool.) As he swallowed, he would think of how valuable Bombay Blood is, and how much money he could get if he sold it.

Thank you for stopping by CMash Reads and spending time with us.

Visit his author website at kurtkamm.com 🔗 & on Facebook!

Tour Participants:

The Partners in Crime Blogging Team is loving the Code Blood Tour! Check out the other interviews, guest posts, reviews, and Giveaways!



Giveaway:

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Kurt Kamm. There will be 1 winner of one (1) $20 Amazon.com Gift Card. The giveaway begins on March 30 and runs through May 1, 2017.

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Apr 292017
 

Giacomo Giammatteo

A Kiss is Just a Kiss…

Or so states the line from “As Time Goes By,” the song made immortal when Dooley Wilson sang it for Ingrid Bergman in the movie Casablanca.

While a kiss might be “just a kiss,” most of the time, there are “special” kisses. I’ll bet you remember your first kiss and maybe a few others. Some kisses are so special you’ll never forget them.

When you’re writing about a kiss, you can’t just describe it and have it mean anything. No matter how great you are at describing a kiss, it has to mean something to the characters if you want it to have meaning for the readers. In other words, if a kiss is to have impact, it has to have a story.

Different Kinds of Kisses

Peck on the cheek
Reluctant kiss
Stolen kiss
Sloppy kiss
French kiss
Passionate kiss
Goodbye kiss
A kiss hello
A good-morning kiss
A good-night kiss
An I-want-you kiss
An after-the-fact kiss.
The list goes on and on. But no matter the kiss, it has to have a story. Think of some of the most famous movie kisses:

Gone With The Wind, when Rhett Butler proposed to Scarlett and kissed her while Atlanta burned in the background.

Pretty Woman, when, after proclaiming throughout the movie that she doesn’t kiss clients, Julia Roberts’ white knight finally came to get her and they kissed.

From Here to Eternity, when Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr shocked the movie-going audiences with their passionate kiss on the beach.

Casablanca, when Bogart reunited with Ingrid Bergman in his upstairs apartment.

The Princess Bride. Who can ever forget the “kiss to end all kisses.”

I was writing a scene the other night that had a kiss in it. I got to thinking about the different kinds of kisses and realized the one I was writing had no meaning. Then I thought of a story to get my point across. Of course the story was from one of the animals on our sanctuary. In order to appreciate it, though, you’ll have to get to know my dog…

Whiskers

I’ll start off the story by telling you flat out—if Whiskers were a human, she’d be a hermit. To call Whiskers independent would be a gross understatement. Aloof wouldn’t come close. Anti-social would be closer to the truth.

We have an animal sanctuary with forty plus animals, and twelve of them are dogs. Whiskers won’t sleep or eat with any of them. Dogs are pack animals; they’re supposed to want to live together. Not Whiskers.

We first met Whiskers when she was two months old. She was living in a drainage ditch under a little bridge. I used to joke that she was like the troll from the children’s story, Three Billy Goats Gruff.

For about a year or so she lived by herself on the street. One day she got hit by a car and couldn’t walk. We took her in and tended to her. For a month my son carried her outside every day to let her go to the bathroom. He took care of her until she was able to manage by herself again. She stayed with us after that, but it was on her terms.

Whiskers’ Rules

She wouldn’t drink from inside the house
Wouldn’t sleep with other dogs
Wouldn’t sleep inside at night
Wouldn’t live with other dogs
Wouldn’t eat with other dogs
Wouldn’t stay in the fenced area
In return for our generosity, Whiskers appointed herself guardian of our property, about 15 acres. Every night for the past ten years, she has stayed outside, through heat, rain, cold…it didn’t matter. She has fought with, and driven off, stray dogs; chased deer; fought coyotes; and even held her ground against wild pigs, though she stopped short of fighting them.

A Crippling Event

A few months ago, while I was writing, I heard a noise outside. When I looked, I found Whiskers dragging herself toward the house. Her back legs weren’t working; she was crippled. I carried her in, and the next day we took her to the vet. He didn’t give us much hope. We kept her in the clinic for two weeks, but she still couldn’t walk. We decided to take her home.

For three more weeks we gave her pills and carried her out every day. There had been slight improvement, but not much. She still couldn’t walk ten feet without falling down. We decided we’d give it another few weeks.

Disappearance

The next morning around 6:30, I fed Dennis, our wild boar, fed the horse, gave Whiskers her anti-inflammatory pill and took her outside, then went to the kitchen to make coffee. When I finished my coffee I went back outside to get her—she was gone!

I looked everywhere and couldn’t find her, so I got my wife and we both looked. Then we got the tractor and drove around the property—through the woods, around the pond… She was nowhere! I got that sick feeling in my gut. Something was wrong.

We started at square one. This time I walked every inch of the property, calling her name the whole time. After almost an hour, as I was making my way around the pond for the second time, I heard a whimper. I looked but couldn’t see her. I called her name, and again I heard a tiny whimper. It was coming from the pond!

Rescue

As you can see from the picture, the pond has been invaded by giant salvinia, a species of plant from South America that takes over in a matter of weeks. It is damn near impossible to get rid of.

When I got to the edge of the pond, all I could see was her nose, and, when she bobbed her head, a bit of her mouth. She went under just as I got there. I jumped in and briefly went under, all the time I worried that the giant salvinia might be much more than an invasive plant species. Images from Aliens which I had watched a few nights before came to mind. Suddenly the salvinia seemed to have “hands” or at least “grippers.”

I grabbed hold of Whiskers and tried getting to the shore. My headset fell off and submerged. My iPhone, always in my shirt pocket, went down for the third time, and I prayed that it was not the metaphorical “third time” like in the movies. All the while, Whiskers struggled to stay afloat in my arms, and I struggled to stay on my feet, as the bottom of the pond puts the definition of slippery to shame.

To top it off, I must tell you, I’m not a water person. I have no fish in my ancestry. Not anywhere. I grew up in the city, and while we had a public pool a few blocks from the house, I think it costs a dime to get in. Dimes were better spent on cigarettes in those days.

So there I was, slipping my way toward the very-steep bank, and struggling to keep Whisker’s head above water. Oh, and I wondered aloud, with more than a few curse words, why I ever wanted to live in the country.

I managed to get Whiskers to the side of the bank and push her up on it, but she kept sliding back. The floor of the pond had a steep slope and I couldn’t keep balanced. I finally found a foothold on a branch from a tree. I gave Whiskers one big push, stabilized my position, and managed to crawl out onto the ground next to her. While I lay there on the bank with Whiskers, I leaned in close and said, “You damn crazy dog. You almost killed us both.”

She let out a small whimper, and then she did something she has never done. Not once in the ten years I’ve had her—she reached up and kissed me.

That might not seem like much for you people reading this. It’s not much for any dog. But for Whiskers—it’s a lot.

Whiskers Has Never Kissed Anyone.

Not my son, when he carried her outside every day for a month after she was hit by a car.
Not my wife, when she spent days tending to Whiskers after a copperhead bit her and her face swelled until she looked as if she had a grapefruit attached to it.
Whiskers has never kissed my grandkids, my niece, or me. No one! Ever.
That kiss was magic! There’s no doubt in my mind what it was. It was a “thank-you” kiss.

The Bottom Line

If I told someone, “I got a kiss from my dog Whiskers today,” it wouldn’t mean much. But if they knew Whiskers, and what it took to get a kiss from her, it would carry a lot more weight.

So the next time you’re writing a scene with a kiss, think about Whiskers, and make that kiss magical.

PS. Now that I know what it takes to get a kiss from Whiskers…I hope I never get another.

Ciao,

Giacomo

Author Bio:

Giacomo Giammatteo

Giacomo Giammatteo is the author of gritty crime dramas about murder, mystery, and family. He also writes non-fiction books including the No Mistakes Careers series.

When Giacomo isn’t writing, he’s helping his wife take care of the animals on their sanctuary. At last count they had 45 animals—11 dogs, a horse, 6 cats, and 26 pigs.

Oh, and one crazy—and very large—wild boar, who takes walks with Giacomo every day and happens to also be his best buddy.

Visit Giacomo on his Website 🔗, Twitter 🔗, Facebook 🔗 and Goodreads 🔗 pages!

Whiskers and Bear by Giacomo Giammatteo

Book Details

Genre: Non-Fiction, Animals

Published by: Inferno Publishing Company

Publication Date: April 2017

Number of Pages: 150

ISBN:

Purchase Links: Whiskers and Bear on Amazon Whiskers and Bear on Barnes & Noble Whiskers and Bear on Kobo Whiskers and Bear on Goodreads

Whiskers and Bear Book Launch

Out of all the books I’ve written (almost thirty), this one is closest to my heart. For twenty-four years, my wife and I have run an animal sanctuary, providing homes for dogs, cats, pigs, horses, and even a wild boar. I don’t know how many animals we’ve had through the years in total, but at one time, we had as many as fifty-five.

A Plea For Help


I don’t often ask for help, but this is important. We have run this sanctuary for twenty-four years using our own money—no donations to speak of. The feed bill alone was more than a thousand dollars per month. And there are plenty of other bills, vets, fencing, shelter, medical supplies, and more.
In early 2015, I had two heart attacks followed by two strokes. The result was that it left me disabled. Now it is difficult to continue paying for everything.
I wrote this book in the hopes that it would sell enough to help with the funds, as all sales go to the animals. And I mean that—every penny goes to help support them—nothing for anyone else.

Synopsis:

Whiskers and Bear were two of the best dogs in the world. They didn’t always listen or even try to listen, but they were loyal to a fault, and they were the best of friends. They hunted all of their food, and they protected our animal sanctuary with no regard for their own safety.

Check out my review HERE.

And don’t forget to enter the giveaway. Click on WHISKERS & BEAR (in the sidebar) for a chance to win.

I am offering a $20. GC, either Amazon or B&N, whichever the winner prefers. Just a suggestion….if you enter the giveaway, please consider purchasing WHISKERS & BEAR. Thank you.

Read an excerpt:

Another Grave

I climbed up onto the tractor, a Kubota 4630, with a six-foot bucket on the front. It was a powerful machine, and we’d put it through the hoops more than a few times. What I mean is that my wife Mikki and I had dug a lot of graves.

I tied an old cloth diaper around my forehead and draped the end of it over the top of my bald head. There wasn’t much better than a cotton cloth for keeping sweat out of your eyes, or the sun from burning your head. I turned the key and revved the engine. After letting it idle a moment, I lifted the bucket and drove toward the south side of the property where Mikki was waiting for me. She’d already gotten a few blankets and a clean sheet. For this one, she’d brought a pillow, too.

I reached up and wiped my eyes. I was getting damn tired of burying things.

An old white pickup crept down the gravel driveway, coming to a stop near the fence.

A neighbor leaned out and hollered. “What’s goin’ on?”

I wished he’d have kept going.

“Nothin’,” I said, but not loud enough for him to hear.

The door opened, and he stepped out and walked over to the fence, using his right hand to shield his eyes from the sun as he peered over the top rail.

“What are you doin’?”

I could see there was no getting away from it. I muttered my answer a few times so my voice wouldn’t crack when I yelled.

“Diggin’ a grave,” I hollered back.

“A grave? Which one died?”

Which one? That’s what it had come to for most of the neighbors and relatives and friends. Which one died. As if it didn’t matter. As if having forty-five animals made it easier to deal with when one of them died.

He came in through the side gate and headed in my direction. He walked slowly, which gave me time to compose myself. It’s never easy to bury a friend, but this one…this one was special.

Mikki walked over to me. “He’s just trying to help.”

I nodded.

I don’t need his help, I thought, but the fact of the matter was I could probably use it.

It hadn’t rained in weeks, and the damn Texas ground was as hard as concrete. Even if the tractor did cut through, it could only go so deep; we’d have hand work to do at the bottom.

Our neighbor was about twenty feet away. He took off his hat and swiped at his forehead. It was a scorcher today and had been for a month or so.

“Who was it?” he asked.

I couldn’t say, but I managed to gesture toward Mikki. She lifted the corner of the blanket so he could see.

“Oh shit!” he said. “I’m sorry.”

“Thanks,” I said.

He unbuttoned his shirt and grabbed a shovel I had leaning against a small oak tree. “Might as well get this done.”

I nodded again. He was right, of course, but I was in no hurry to put another friend in the ground. I cranked the engine up a little higher, shoved the tractor into low gear, and positioned the bucket for the first scoop of dirt. The bucket hit the ground with a metallic thud. It didn’t do much more than break the surface.

“Whew!” the neighbor said. “Going to be a long day.”

“That’s for sure.”

“How long have they been with you?” he asked.

They. I thought about what he said. I would have laughed if not for the circumstances. Everyone referred to the two of them as one. They or them. Bear and Whiskers. Whiskers and Bear. It was a cold day in July if anyone mentioned one without the other.

I handed him my bottle of water; he looked thirsty.

“They’ve been with us a long time. A damn long time.”

***

Excerpt from Whiskers and Bear by Giacomo Giammatteo. Copyright © 2017 by Giacomo Giammatteo. Reproduced with permission from Giacomo Giammatteo. All rights reserved.

Follow Giacomo’s WHISKERS & BEAR tour with Reviews, Guest Posts, Interviews and a chance to win an eBook copy starting May 1st at Providence Book Promotions

Apr 262017
 

Big City Heat: A Brack Pelton Mystery

by David Burnsworth

on Tour April 24 – May 26, 2017

Synopsis:

Big City Heat: A Brack Pelton Mystery by David Burnsworth

Lowcountry bar owner and ex-Marine Brack Pelton heads to Atlanta in the wake of a panicked 3 AM phone call. A woman is missing and Brack’s friend Mutt is in danger. Brack’s old flame, investigative news correspondent Darcy Wells, now lives there and is set to marry another man. If Brack was honest with himself, and he usually wasn’t, he’d realize that the missing woman isn’t the reason for his visit. His Semper Fi buddy Mutt can handle himself just fine.

When Brack and Mutt team up to find the woman, the Atlanta underworld revolts, the two biggest players target them, and people start dying. Most people would size up the situation, call it impossible, and walk away. But most people are not Brack Pelton. Impossible situations are his specialty. He made it through Afghanistan and when the military commanders mistook suicidal tendencies for leadership qualities they promoted him. Can Brack succeed at finding the woman, protecting his friend, and winning the girl without destroying the Capital of the South? Not since Sherman’s march across Georgia has the city of Atlanta been in this much danger.

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery
Published by: Henery Press
Publication Date: April 25, 2017
Number of Pages: 212
ISBN: 9781635111996
Series: A Brack Pelton Mystery Book, 3
Purchase Links: Amazon 🔗 | Barnes & Noble 🔗 | Goodreads 🔗

Read an excerpt:

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me…
Psalm 23:4

Atlanta, Georgia, Wednesday night, Mid-May

Brack Pelton waited in his Porsche by a no-parking zone in a very bad part of the city and watched someone he thought he knew well climb out of an old Eldorado convertible. The man entered a ramshackle building with a neon beer mug shining through its one dirty window.

Easing away from the red-marked bus stop, Brack found a better location down the block and pulled in. Before getting out of the Porsche, he woke Shelby, his tan mixed-breed dog slumbering in the backseat, and pulled a forty-five from the glovebox. He verified a round was chambered.

Shelby licked his lips and gave a quick bark as Brack slid the pistol down the back waistband of his cargo shorts.

Patting his dog on the head, Brack asked, “Ready?” A needless question. Another bark affirmed Shelby’s stand on things.

“When we get inside, your job is to find Mutt. Okay?” Shelby licked his face. Brack knew that as long as their target hadn’t escaped out some back door, Shelby would find him. Mutt was one of his favorite people. Brack’s too. That was why tracking him like this went against everything he believed in doing.

Mutt was the one who often rode shotgun with Brack as they’d right Charleston’s wrongs. Now Mutt was the one in the crosshairs. Thanks to an early morning phone call from Cassie, Mutt’s girlfriend, a life depended on answers his friend would give. The forty-five wouldn’t come out unless trouble came up.

The barroom’s rusty screen door screeched open. Shelby darted ahead, already focused on his objective. Brack entered a time warp. Uncanny how even the sour bar wash fragrance and cigarette smoke were the same. Through the old familiar haze, he imagined Mutt standing behind a peeling Formica counter pouring drinks to patrons who could barely afford their rent. Somehow, Mutt had managed to replicate his termite-infested watering hole three hundred miles west of where his original joint stood before some spoiled neighborhood brat burned it down.

“You lost?” A very large African-American man wearing a soiled wife-beater chalking a pool cue confronted the white newcomer.

Meeting his gaze, Brack said, “No. I’m looking for a loudmouth Marine named Mutt. If he’s here drinking, the rounds are on me. If he owns this place, I’m going to beat the life out of him.”

“Big talk coming from someone in yo’ shoes,” he said. Four other men flanked him, two on each side, all with arms folded across their meaty chests. Five soiled wife-beaters in a row. A worn-out AC unit clicked and sputtered, failing to condition the polluted air in the establishment.

Shelby seemed to take longer than usual to find Mutt. Only one thing could sidetrack him. But no women had ever been present in the original Mutt’s Bar in Charleston. They’d been afraid to enter the place.

Maybe Atlanta women were different. Casually Brack removed the half-smoked cigar he’d been saving in his pocket and lit it. The only faithful friend he had left at the moment was his own adrenaline. Brack was angry at Mutt and wouldn’t mind working it out of his system on these five gentlemen facing him.

Three more joined them. Okay, these eight gentlemen.

Brack felt more gather behind him. His wayward dog better have a real good excuse for not warning him.

Taking a drag on the stogie, he exhaled a cloud of smoke to add to the carcinogenic fog. “It’s going to be a bad day for some of you.”

Chuckles echoed around the room, undoubtedly at his expense.

Mutt pushed his way through the gathering mob. A few inches over six feet, he’d replaced his boxed Afro with a close trim since the last time Brack had seen him. His clothes were of a more recent vintage, another change, and to Brack’s untrained eye, quite stylish.

“Opie, you always got to do things the hard way, don’t ’cha?” Brack couldn’t decide if he wanted to punch him or shake his hand. The fact that his friend sported a bridge that replaced his missing front teeth also caught him off guard.

Shelby was not with Mutt. From behind, Brack heard the gruff words, “You want us to take this cracker out back, Mutt?”

Mutt knew as well as Brack did that they were greatly outnumbered. But Brack figured Mutt also knew that a few of his patrons would spend the next few weeks in the hospital if things went south.

Before either of them could say anything, a husky female voice came from somewhere in the crowd. “You got the prettiest dog.”

All the men turned in the direction of the voice. Through a break in the undershirt line, Brack observed a heavyset black woman in a way-too-tight purple body suit. Clearly she’d fallen in love with his dog. Her extra-long orange day-glo fingernails scratched behind his ears.

Sitting on his haunches with closed eyes, Shelby flapped his tongue and panted in what Brack recognized as pure bliss. Two other women wearing similar attire also gave Shelby their full attention. Brack was about to get pummeled by eight or more hulks itching to right the wrongs of their world, yet his dog had managed to pick up what looked like all the women in the establishment.

The spokesman for the wife-beater ensemble said, “We ain’t finished wit you, white boy.”

Brack turned back to him. Mutt got between them. “Easy, Charlie. He’s my brother.” The men looked at each other as if Mutt and Brack could possibly be related. Of course, they weren’t in the traditional sense.

“Summertime” by Billy Stewart began to play somewhere in the room. A real classic.

Circling Shelby, the women moved their ample hips to the beat. The dog, in plus-sized heaven, spun around, not sure which lady to kiss first.

A fourth woman Brack hadn’t noticed until now came from behind the bar to stand beside Mutt. Almost as tall as Brack, with dark brown skin, a buzzed haircut, and toned figure bordering on muscular. Her inked-up arms momentarily distracted Brack.

The man Mutt called Charlie said, “I don’t care who you think he is. He ain’t got the juice to come in here talking about beatin’ you up.”

Mutt turned to his old friend. “You said you was gonna beat me up?”

“Something like that.” Brack cocked his head. “I get a call begging me to drive here from Charleston. It’s Cassie. She’s scared half to death because some men threatened her, and she doesn’t know what you do when you leave her house late at night. Put yourself in her shoes.”

The woman bartender looked at him. “You must be Brack.” Mutt interrupted. “Opie, I’ma tell you like I tol’ Cassie. What I do is my bidness. She ain’t got no right to ask.”

Charlie moved in like he was about to throw a punch. Before Brack could react, the toned female bartender grabbed Charlie by the shirt collar and said, “You really don’t want to do that.”

Mutt said, “Easy there, Tara. We all friends here.” She didn’t let go. Charlie backed off. Brack dropped what was left of his cigar on the floor, crushed it with his foot, and turned back to Mutt. “You better tell me what’s going on, or I will beat the ever-living daylights out of you.”

***

Excerpt from Big City Heat: A Brack Pelton Mystery by David Burnsworth. Copyright © 2017 by David Burnsworth. Reproduced with permission from David Burnsworth. All rights reserved.

David Burnsworth

Author Bio:

David Burnsworth became fascinated with the Deep South at a young age. After a degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Tennessee and fifteen years in the corporate world, he made the decision to write a novel. He is the author of both the Brack Pelton and the Blu Carraway Mystery Series. Having lived in Charleston on Sullivan’s Island for five years, the setting was a foregone conclusion. He and his wife call South Carolina home.

Q&A with David Burnsworth

Do you draw from personal experiences and / or current events?
Great question! I get ideas from both. For personal experiences, I wait until there’s been some distance. For current events, it comes down to what interests me. In BIG CITY HEAT, animal poaching plays a minor role. Profiting from the killing of endangered species angers me. Killing elephants for their tusks and rhinos for their horns are things that need to stop.

Do you start with the conclusion and plot in reverse or start from the beginning and see where the story line brings you?
I normally don’t have a plan and don’t know where the characters will take me. It’s their story and I do my best to stay out of the way and let them tell it.

Are any of your characters based on you or people that you know?
I do my best not to use people I know as characters in my books. Sometimes mannerisms or physical similarities show up, but I don’t want to offend anyone by getting too close to reality. But, there have been a few friends and family members that have expressed interest in seeing themselves in my books.

Your routine when writing? Any idiosycrasies?
I have a day job, so my writing life revolves around it. My wife goes to work before I do so I have about an hour in the mornings to myself and then I have some time in the evenings. We don’t have children so that leaves me some time during the weekends as well. Other than that, I have found that I can write anywhere on any laptop or CPU. Although I do prefer the desk in my office and write there when I can.

Tell us why we should read this book.
My books are my kids. I’m proud of all of them. BIG CITY HEAT came about because I spent my teenage years in Atlanta and wanted to visit the place that had the most impact on my life. If you like hardboiled / noir mysteries, I believe you will like my books.

Who are some of your favorite authors?
James Lee Burke, Elmore Leonard, Michael Connelly, Mickey Spillane, John Sanford, Lee Child, J.R.R. Tolkien, C.J. Box, Stieg Larsson, Spenser Quinn, to name a few.

What are you reading now?
I just finished THE HOBBIT on audio, a book I hadn’t read in years. And I’m reading one of Spenser Quinn’s YA books. I’m on the waiting list at my local library for the latest from C.J. Box and John Sanford.

Are you working on your next novel? Can you tell us a little about it?
I’m working on a new series also based in Charleston, SC. The first book in this new series, IN IT FOR THE MONEY, releases in September. I am in the middle of final edits for it and am about a third of the way into writing the first draft of the second book in the series which will be out in 2018. The series is based on a middle aged PI named Blu Carraway who handles mostly difficult and extremely dangerous jobs. To keep himself from crossing over to the dark side, he has a small island with wild horses that he takes care of.

Your novel will be a movie. Who would you cast?
Brack Pelton, my protagonist, is perpetually suntanned because he lives on the Isle of Palms and spends time at the beach when he isn’t hunting a killer or, for BIG CITY HEAT, in Atlanta. He’s mid-thirties, six feet tall, and about two-hundred and ten pounds. In the previous book, BURNING HEAT, another character describes Brack as looking “so much like that guy from mad men that I call dibs.”
Darcy Wells, Brack’s love interest is a lot like Elizabeth Shue in her twenties.
Mutt (Clarence Alexander) could be played by Denzel Washington.
Brother Thomas is a fifty-year-old African American preacher who stands tall at six-three and wide at three-hundred-and-fifty pounds.

Favorite leisure activity/hobby?
When I’m not working or writing, I enjoy spending time with my wife, Patty. We love vacation and plan and discuss our next adventure when flying home from the end of one. I enjoy reading and some television. And I am a car fanatic. I just wish I had the space and fundage for a garage full of classics.

Favorite meal?
When I lived in Charleston, it was peel-and-eat shrimp. My wife has since converted me to steaks, chops, and pasta.

Cheryl, thanks so much for what you do! God bless!

Catch Up With Our Author On:
Website 🔗, Goodreads, Twitter 🔗, & Facebook 🔗!

Tour Participants:



Giveaway:

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for David Burnsworth and Henery Press. There will be 1 winner of one (1) $15 Amazon.com Gift Card and 5 winners of one (1) eBook copy of Big City Heat by David Burnsworth. The giveaway begins on April 22, 2017 and runs through May 29, 2017. This giveaway is for US residents only. Void where prohibited by law.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Get More Great Reads at Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours

Apr 222017
 

Giacomo Giammatteo

Character Development

When I’m writing blog posts I try to use experience gained from my animals and apply it to writing. Whenever you can use real-life experience, I think it’s better.

While pondering the topic of character development, which I happen to think is one of most important parts of a book, I thought about some of the things I liked and didn’t like. Near the top of that list was uncertainty. I laughed as that came to mind, because I had plenty of examples of uncertainty from the sanctuary animals. This is one of the stories, and like all of the stories, it’s true. I have no need to exaggerate as the stories are crazy enough as is.

Big Dogs Don’t Bluff

How a Character Can Interrupt Your Story

Sometimes characters do things on their own. Things you don’t want them to do.

You shouldn’t be surprised. It happens in real life too. I learned that lesson the hard way, and once again, through one of my animals. This time the culprit was Briella, the giant Great Dane. It was back when I used to play online poker. After a night of writing, and before I had too much wine, I would sit in the chair with my laptop and play a little poker. Often Brie, or one of the other dogs, would hover over my shoulder. Occasionally they would offer advice. That night it was Brie.

During a game of no-limit hold-em, a player bet \(75. The next three people folded, leaving me to act. I was up a few hundred bucks and feeling lucky, so I made a bluff at the pot, raising \)250. The people after me folded. It was now just me and the original bettor. He called.


Brie the Bluffer

The next card came off, and I still had nothing. The other person bet $300. I stalled for a few seconds, as if I had a decision to make, but I fully intended to fold. Briella had a different idea. Before I could hit the fold button, her massive paw slammed on my laptop and raised—almost $900, which was all I had left. As I watched the clock tick down, waiting for the other person to make their decision, my heart pounded. Depending on this person’s decision I was either going to give Brie some extra treats, or, I was going to threaten to kick her ass. I say threaten because she is too big for me to actually do it.

Story Climax

Now, this would have been a wonderful story if the other person folded, but…they didn’t. They called and I, or should I say Brie, was caught bluffing. Of course we lost. After that, I never played poker with Brie sitting behind me; she’s far too unpredictable.

What Does This Have to Do With Writing?

Sometimes a character does what they want, regardless of what you had in mind for them. (I know that’s impossible, but the longer you write the more involved you become in your characters.) You thought you had your plot nailed down, and suddenly—wham—one character or another does something unexpected.
You might ask, How does this happen? It’s easy, and logical. When you write, you create a character based on a specific personality. As the story moves along, that character reacts to situations based on that personality. Sometimes it is not what you anticipated.

The title of this blog was Big Dogs Don’t Bluff. Unfortunately, I discovered they really do.

Ciao,

Giacomo

Tell me what you think

As a reader, or writer, how do you feel about unpredictable characters?
Click the Book Cover to Be Taken to a Page Where You Can Buy Any of My Books

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Author Bio:

Giacomo Giammatteo

Giacomo Giammatteo is the author of gritty crime dramas about murder, mystery, and family. He also writes non-fiction books including the No Mistakes Careers series.

When Giacomo isn’t writing, he’s helping his wife take care of the animals on their sanctuary. At last count they had 45 animals—11 dogs, a horse, 6 cats, and 26 pigs.

Oh, and one crazy—and very large—wild boar, who takes walks with Giacomo every day and happens to also be his best buddy.

Visit Giacomo on his Website 🔗, Twitter 🔗, Facebook 🔗 and Goodreads 🔗 pages!

A Plea For Help


I don’t often ask for help, but this is important. We have run this sanctuary for twenty-four years using our own money—no donations to speak of. The feed bill alone was more than a thousand dollars per month. And there are plenty of other bills, vets, fencing, shelter, medical supplies, and more.
In early 2015, I had two heart attacks followed by two strokes. The result was that it left me disabled. Now it is difficult to continue paying for everything.
I wrote this book in the hopes that it would sell enough to help with the funds, as all sales go to the animals. And I mean that—every penny goes to help support them—nothing for anyone else.

So How About Helping Out?


Skip the cup of coffee you were thinking of, or the pack of smokes, or glass of wine, and pick up a copy of Whiskers and Bear. I’d bet you’ll not only love reading about their exploits, but you’ll feel better about yourself for helping out. Even if you don’t read it—give it to someone who will.
And when you’re finished reading, don’t forget to leave a review.

Check out my review HERE.

And don’t forget to enter the giveaway. Click on WHISKERS & BEAR (in the sidebar) for a chance to win.

I am offering a $20. GC, either Amazon or B&N, whichever the winner prefers. Just a suggestion….if you enter the giveaway, please consider purchasing WHISKERS & BEAR. Thank you.

Giacomo will be back on April 29th….Don’t miss the 5th and final installment for Author Of The Month

Apr 202017
 

Her Secret

by Shelley Shepard Gray

on Tour April 17 – 28, 2017

Synopsis:

Her Secret by Shelley Shepard Gray

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Shelley Shepard Gray begins a new series—The Amish of Hart County—with this suspenseful tale of a young Amish woman who is forced to move to a new town to escape a threatening stalker.

After a stalker went too far, Hannah Hilty and her family had no choice but to leave the bustling Amish community where she grew up. Now she’s getting a fresh start in Hart County, Kentucky…if only she wasn’t too scared to take it. Hannah has become afraid to trust anyone—even Isaac, the friendly Amish man who lives next door. She wonders if she’ll ever return to the trusting, easy-going woman she once was.

For Isaac Troyer, the beautiful girl he teasingly called “The Recluse” confuses him like no other. When he learns of her past, he knows he’s misjudged her. However, he also understands the importance of being grateful for God’s gifts, and wonders if they will ever have anything in common. But as Hannah and Isaac slowly grow closer, they realize that there’s always more to someone than meets the eye.

Just as Hannah is finally settling into her new life, and perhaps finding a new love, more secrets are revealed and tragedy strikes. Now Hannah must decide if she should run again or dare to fight for the future she has found in Hart County.

Book Details:

Genre: Amish Fiction
Published by: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication Date: March 14th 2017
Number of Pages: 272
ISBN: 006246910X (ISBN13: 9780062469106)
Series: The Amish of Hart County #1
Purchase Links: Amazon 🔗 | Barnes & Noble 🔗 | Goodreads 🔗

Read an excerpt:

CHAPTER 2

Someone was coming. After reeling in his line, Isaac Troyer set his pole on the bank next to Spot, his Australian shepherd, and turned in the direction of the noise.

He wasn’t worried about encountering a stranger as much as curious to know who would walk through the woods while managing to disturb every tree branch, twig, and bird in their midst. A silent tracker, this person was not.

Beside him, Spot, named for the spot of black fur ringing his eye, pricked his ears and tilted his head to one side as he, too, listened and watched for their guest to appear.

When they heard a muffled umph, followed by the crack of a branch, Isaac began to grow amused. Their visitor didn’t seem to be faring so well.

He wasn’t surprised. That path was rarely used and notoriously overrun with hollyhocks, poison oak, and ivy. For some reason, wild rosebushes also ran rampant there. Though walking on the old path made for a pretty journey, it also was a somewhat dangerous one, too. Those bushes had a lot of thorns. Most everyone he knew chose to walk on the road instead.

He was just wondering if, perhaps, he should brave the thorns and the possibility of rashes to offer his help—when a woman popped out.

The new girl. Hannah Hilty.

Obviously thinking she was completely alone, she stepped out of the shade of the bushes and lifted her face into the sun. She mumbled to herself as she pulled a black sweater off her light-blue short-sleeved dress. Then she turned her right arm this way and that, frowning at what looked like a sizable scrape on it.

He’d been introduced to her at church the first weekend her family had come. His first impression of her had been that she was a pretty thing, with dark-brown hair and hazel-colored eyes. She was fairly tall and willowy, too, and had been blessed with creamy-looking pale skin. But for all of that, she’d looked incredibly wary.

Thinking she was simply shy, he’d tried to be friendly, everyone in his family had. But instead of looking happy to meet him or his siblings, she’d merely stared at him the way a doe might stare at an oncoming car—with a bit of weariness and a great dose of fear.

He left her alone after that.

Every once in a while he’d see her. At church, or at the market with her mother. She always acted kind of odd. She was mostly silent, sometimes hardly even talking to her parents or siblings. Often, when he’d see her family in town shopping, she usually wasn’t with them. When she was, he’d see her following her parents. With them, yet separate. Silently watching her surroundings like she feared she was about to step off a cliff.

So, by his estimation, she was a strange girl. Weird.

And her actions just now? They seemed even odder. Feeling kind of sorry for her, he got to his feet. “Hey!” he called out.

Obviously startled, Hannah turned to him with a jerk, then froze.

Her unusual hazel eyes appeared dilated. She looked scared to death. Rethinking the step forward he’d been about to do, he stayed where he was. Maybe she wasn’t right in the mind? Maybe she was lost and needed help.

Feeling a little worried about her, he held up a hand. “Hey, Hannah. Are you okay?”

But instead of answering him, or even smiling back like a normal person would, she simply stared.

He tried again. “I’m Isaac Troyer.” When no look of recognition flickered in her eyes, he added, “I’m your neighbor. We met at church, soon after you moved in. Remember?”

She clenched her fists but otherwise seemed to be trying hard to regain some self-control. After another second, color bloomed in her cheeks. “I’m Hannah Hilty.”

“Yeah. I know.” Obviously, he’d known it. Hadn’t she heard him say her name? He smiled at her, hoping she’d see the humor in their conversation. It was awfully intense for two neighbors having to reacquaint themselves.
By his reckoning, anyway.

She still didn’t smile back. Actually, she didn’t do much of anything at all, besides gaze kind of blankly at him.

Belatedly, he started wondering if something had happened to her on her walk. “Hey, are you okay? Are you hurt or something?”

Her hand clenched into a fist. “Why do you ask?”

Everything he wanted to say sounded mean and rude. “You just, uh, seem out of breath.” And she was white as a sheet, looked like she’d just seen a monster, and could hardly speak.

Giving her an out, he said, “Are you lost?”

“Nee.”

He was starting to lose patience with her. All he’d wanted to do was sit on the bank with Spot and fish for an hour or two, not enter into some strange conversation with his neighbor girl.

“Okay, then. Well, I was just fishing, so I’m going to go back and do that.”

Just before he turned away, she took a deep breath. Then she spoke. “I’m sorry. I know I’m not making any sense.”

“You’re making sense.” Kind of. “But that said, you don’t got anything to be sorry for. It’s obvious you, too, were looking for a couple of minutes to be by yourself.”

“No, that ain’t it.” After taking another deep breath, she said, “Seeing you took me by surprise. That’s all.”
Isaac wasn’t enough of a jerk to not be aware that seeing a strange man, when you thought you were alone, might be scary to a timid girl like her.

“You took me by surprise, too. I never see anyone out here.”

Some of the muscles in her face and neck relaxed. After another second, she seemed to come to a decision and stepped closer to him. “Is that your dog?”

“Jah. His name is Spot, on account of the circle around his eye.”

“He looks to be a real fine hund.” She smiled.

And what a smile it was. Sweet, lighting up her eyes. Feeling a bit taken by surprise, too, he said, “He’s an Australian shepherd and real nice. Would you like to meet him?”

“Sure.” She smiled again, this time displaying pretty white teeth.

“Spot, come here, boy.”

With a stretch and a groan, Spot stood up, stretched again, then sauntered over. When he got to Isaac’s side, he paused. Isaac ran a hand along his back, then clicked his tongue, a sign for Spot to simply be a dog.

Spot walked right over and rubbed his nose along one of Hannah’s hands.

She giggled softly. “Hello, Spot. Aren’t you a handsome hund?” After she let Spot sniff her hand, she ran it along his soft fur. Spot, as could be expected, closed his eyes and enjoyed the attention.

“Look at that,” Hannah said. “He likes to be petted.”

“He’s friendly.”

“Do you go fishing here much?” she asked hesitantly.

“Not as much as I’d like to. I’m pretty busy. Usually, I’m helping my father on the farm or working in my uncle’s woodworking shop.” Because she seemed interested, he admitted, “I don’t get to sit around and just enjoy the day all that much.”

“And here I came and ruined your peace and quiet.”

“I didn’t say that. You’re fine.”

She didn’t look as if she believed him. Actually, she looked even more agitated. Taking a step backward, she said, “I should probably let you get back to your fishing, then.”

“I don’t care about that. I’d rather talk to you.”

Her eyes widened. “Oh?”

“Jah. I mean, we’re neighbors and all.” When she still looked doubtful, he said, “Besides, everyone is curious about you.”

“I don’t know why. I’m just an Amish girl.”

He thought she was anything but that. “Come on,” he chided. “You know what I’m talking about.”

Looking even more unsure, she shook her head.

“First off, I’ve hardly even seen you around town, only on Sundays when we have church. And even then you never stray from your parents’ side. That’s kind of odd.”

“I’m still getting used to being here in Kentucky,” she said quickly.

“What is there to get used to?” he joked. “We’re just a small community in the middle of cave country.”

To his surprise, she stepped back. “I guess getting used to my new home is taking me a while. But that doesn’t mean anything.”

Aware that he’d hurt her feelings, he realized that he should have really watched his tone. “Sorry. I didn’t mean to offend you. I was just saying that the way you’ve been acting has everyone curious. That’s why people are calling you ‘The Recluse.’ ”

“ ‘The Recluse’?”

“Well, jah. I mean you truly are an Amish woman of mystery,” he said, hoping she’d tease him right back like his older sister would have done.

She did not.

Actually, she looked like she was about to cry, and it was his doing.

When was he ever going to learn to read people better? Actually, he should knock some sense into himself. He’d been a real jerk. “Sorry. I didn’t intend to sound so callous.”

“Well, you certainly did.”

“Ah, you are right. It was a bad joke.”

“I better go.”

Staring at her more closely, he noticed that those pretty hazel eyes of hers looked kind of shimmery, like a whole mess of tears was about to fall. Now he felt worse than bad.“Hey, are you going to be okay getting home? I could walk you back, if you’d like.”

“Danke, nee.”

Reaching out, he grasped Spot by his collar. “I don’t mind at all. It will give us a chance to—”

She cut him off. “I do not want or need your help.” She was staring at him like he was scary. Like he was the type of guy who would do her harm.

That bothered him.

“Look, I already apologized. You don’t need to look at me like I’m going to attack you or something. I’m just trying to be a good neighbor.”

She flinched before visibly collecting herself. “I understand. But like I said, I don’t want your help. I will be fine.”

When he noticed that Spot was also sensing her distress, he tried again even though he knew he should just let her go. “I was done fishing anyway. All I have to do is grab my pole. Then Spot and I could walk with you.”

“What else do I have to say for you to listen to me?” she fairly cried out. “Isaac, I do not want you to walk me anywhere.” She turned and darted away, sliding back into the brush. No doubt about to get covered in more scratches and poison ivy.

Well, she’d finally said his name, and it certainly did sound sweet on her lips.

Too bad she was now certain to avoid him for the rest of her life. He really hoped his mother was never going to hear about how awful he’d just been. She’d be so disappointed.

He was disappointed in himself, and was usually a lot more patient with people. He liked that about himself, too. And this girl? Well, she needed someone, too. But she seemed even afraid of her shadow.

Excerpt from Her Secret by Shelley Shepard Gray. Copyright © 2017 by Shelley Shepard Gray. Reproduced with permission from HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.

Shelley Shepard Gray

Author Bio:

Shelley Shepard Gray is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, a finalist for the American Christian Fiction Writers prestigious Carol Award, and a two-time HOLT Medallion winner. She lives in southern Ohio, where she writes full-time, bakes too much, and can often be found walking her dachshunds on her town’s bike trail.

Q&A with Shelley Shepard Gray

Welcome!

Writing and Reading:
Do you draw from personal experiences and/or current events?
I rarely write anything that I’ve had personal experience with, beyond being able to identify with the emotions the characters might be feeling. For my Amish novels especially, I incorporate the setting and the area into the plot. For example, Hart County, KY is riddled with abandoned caves and lots of isolated, hilly farmland. It seemed a perfect place to stage a series.

Do you start with the conclusion and plot in reverse or start from the beginning and see where the story line brings you?
As much as I yearn to be an organized plotter, I’m definitely a writer who starts a book with only the bare minimum in mind. It makes for a frustrating process, but it’s also a lot of fun for me.

Are any of your characters based on you or people that you know?
No. I always make up my characters. I almost always write about people who I would want to know, however. It’s rare for me to develop a particularly awful character. Usually even my antagonists have a lot of redeeming qualities.

Your routine when writing? Any idiosyncrasies?
I try my best to write ten pages a day Monday through Friday. I write another five on Saturday or Sunday. Yep, I definitely have an idiosyncrasy! I write down the ten page numbers I hope to get to each day and cross them off as they’re accomplished. I literally have a dozen notebooks filled with numbers and X’s. On a positive note, it’s very helpful for my family to see how my day is going. If I only have 2 Xs at four o’clock, they know it’s going to be a long night.

Tell us why we should read this book.
I love to write books about the Amish that are unexpected. HER SECRET is a mixture of mystery, suspense, and romance. It’s all interwoven with a thread of inspiration and features well-researched Amish characters. Nothing makes me happier than hearing that the book surpassed a reader’s expectations.

Who are some of your favorite authors?
I really love to read and I read a lot. I love to read fiction. My favorite mystery author is Anne Perry. I’m also a fan of Anne Cleeland. I’ve also been a longtime fan of Linda Howard, Lorraine Heath, and Karen Kingsbury. Boy, I could probably name another 20 authors. If I find an author who makes me care about the characters, I’m happy.

What are you reading now?
I just judged the RITAs, so I’ve been reading a slew of romances from all different genres. I’m also reading Sisters of Sugarcreek by Cathy Liggett.

Are you working on your next novel? Can you tell us a little about it?
I always write more than one book at a time. I’m currently writing HIS RISK, which is the fourth book in the Hart County Series. I’m also working on a contemporary single title romance for a brand new series. The next novel in the Hart County series is called HIS GUILT. It releases in July and features an Amish man who returns to Hart County with a dark past. I’m excited about it!

Fun questions:
Your novel will be a movie.
Oh, I’m never good at naming actors! I think Chris Pratt would be a terrific Isaac and a young Anne Hathaway for Hannah.

Favorite leisure activity/hobby?
We are dog people, so I love taking our dachshunds out for a long walk. I also love to bake.

Favorite meal?
I grew up in Texas, so my favorite dinner is always steak and a baked potato. Beyond that, I’m always up for a really good slice of coconut cream pie.

Thank you for stopping by CMash Reads and spending time with us.

Thank you for inviting me, Cheryl! This was a lot of fun!

Catch Up With Ms. Gray On:
Website 🔗, Goodreads 🔗, Twitter 🔗, & Facebook 🔗!

Tour Participants:



Giveaway:

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Wendy Corsi Staub and William Morrow. There will be 2 winners of one $25 Amazon.com Gift Card. The giveaway begins on April 15th and runs through May 2nd, 2017. This giveaway is for US residents only. Void where prohibited by law.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Get More Great Reads at Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours