Author: GHott

Interview | Flight of the Tarantula Hawk by Michael Allan Scott (9/1-9/30)

Flight of the Tarantula Hawk

by Michael Allan Scott

on Tour at Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours in September 2014

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery / Thriller with a Paranormal Twist
Published by: Telemachus Press
Publication Date: 02/10/2014
Number of Pages: ~350
ISBN: 978-1-940745-00-8 / 978-1-940745-01-5
Series:2nd Lance Underphal Mystery, Can Be Read As a Stand Alone Novel

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Warning: This book is not for everyone! It includes Excessive strong language, Graphic violence, & Explicit sexual scenes.


Realtor Carla Simon has her first showing in nearly eighteen months. Recovering from a nervous breakdown, she arrives at the bank-owned foreclosure well ahead of her prospect. When her buyer pins her against the wall, it turns out to be the last house she’ll ever show.

Working on rebuilding his life, Lance Underphal attempts to bury his psychic curse alongside his troubled past. But when cryptic nightmares begin to plague him, he comes to know his struggles with the supernatural are far from over.

Lacking evidence, Homicide Detective Frank Salmon drags the reluctant psychic into the investigation. Underphal clues him in—this psycho is just getting started. Salmon assembles his crew and digs in.

Jack Jacobs, a PI and a shipmate of Salmon’s, fields a call from his girlfriend’s frantic daughter. She recruits him to locate her missing husband. Finding the husband’s Accord parked outside a long-vacant house, Jack senses he’s out of his league and calls Salmon.

Salmon’s manhunt ratchets up as Underphal’s predictions come to pass. Salmon, Jacobs and Underphal soon join forces, driven to stop the killings—a monumental task. And it’s not long before they disagree, each tracking their own suspect. All are led astray. A wild ride full of twists and turns, from a Goth-fest gone wrong to a shiny new morgue, they grapple with demons real and imagined.

As Lance’s dead wife Sonja whispers words of warning, he comes face to face with the murderer fresh from a kill. It’s only then he discovers it’s the murderer who’s stalking him. Lance wrestles with grim choices: Give up the chase and abandon his friends, or immerse himself in the killer’s dark past and risk annihilation. Lance’s only shot at redemption—face the horror and reveal its source.

Read an excerpt:

The Showing


Midday, and a crisp scent of fall fills the balmy air of late October. Sun-baked terrain has cooled, well below oven operating temperatures for several days in a row—the first time in nearly six months. Phoenix’s last Indian summer is finally laid to rest. Snowbirds and other migratory fowl flock to town, clogging the freeways and surface streets, swelling the resort hotels, RV parks, and the wallets of local merchants. A veritable desert paradise . . . almost, except for that fleshy, white underbelly that never sees the sun.

Crouched in the upscale suburb of Paradise Valley, a four-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bath contemporary ranch style sits vacant—its foyer littered with MLS flyers and Realtors’ business cards while dust bunnies breed in its corners. At the street, the “For Sale” sign declares it’s “Bank Owned”—a sign of hard times, blighting nearly fifty thousand homes in the Phoenix area alone.

Carla Simon fumbles with the lockbox’s key to open the empty house. Her hollow cheeks match the hunted look in her soft brown eyes. Nervously waiting in the foyer for her two o’clock showing, she smooths the front of her skirt with sweaty palms. It’s been a long time since she’s shown property—too long.

Carla waves vigorously, her greeting overly effusive as her prospect trudges up the walk. “Any trouble finding it?” she asks.

Her prospect seems distracted, answering, “No . . . no problem.”

Carla starts in, leading the way. “You’ll notice the hardwood flooring throughout the main living areas.”

They cross through the foyer.

As they enter the living room, her prospect suddenly grabs Carla from behind and pushes her face-first into the wall.

“OhMyGod! What are you doing!?!” Stunned, Carla struggles to make sense of it. This can’t be happening!

Her prospect spins Carla around, pinning her to the wall with a forearm. She stares at her attacker’s placid features in disbelief, frozen with terror. Her attacker’s wide eyes bore through her like red-hot lasers. Confusion scrambles her thoughts as she watches a hand rise over her head. Too late, Carla sees the gleam of a large hypodermic needle as it thrusts deep into her neck, penetrating the carotid artery. Carla’s eyes roll with panic as the stab of the big-bore needle pierces her throat, burning fluid swelling her neck.

Racing to the brain like a predator possessed, the poison’s fiery tendrils sizzle neurons, frying and then extinguishing cranial, optic and facial nerves. Burning numbness spreads, robbing Carla of all muscular control. Her eyelids droop as facial muscles go slack. Vision doubling, then blurring, then dark, the last image burned into the back of her fading retinas is her attacker’s retreat. Carla’s shrieks echo in empty rooms, soon to be stillborn in her useless larynx as paralysis sets in.

How is it possible? The ultimate betrayal. Her life had just started to turn around after all the hard work and struggle to regain her family, her career, her sanity. She needs to ask why, but deadened lips refuse to move.
Her dry mouth hangs open uselessly as her last breaths flutter from paralyzed lungs. Maybe she wasn’t meant to be happy. But why now? And why like this? Bladder and bowels let loose as her arms and legs go limp. She slides down the wall to slump into a spreading puddle of her own urine. Slowly tilting over, her torso topples to the floor. Her head, bouncing off the solid wood floor like a ripe melon.

No, No, NO!!!

Fully conscious while trapped in a cooling carcass, Carla screams hysterically to no avail; only silence and darkness ensue.

Pale moonlight floods vacant rooms, streaming through bare windows. The consciousness that was Carla Simon watches cold blue-white light creep across the hardwood floor to climb bare walls, exposing a swollen flyblown corpse. She’s lost all track of time. How many nights has it been? She tries to remember . . . where she is, how she got there. Hollow spots, holes, nothing there when she’s sure there must be. If only she could remember. Dr. Manson said there would be some confusion and short-term memory loss, common side effects of electroconvulsive therapy.
Melancholy haunts her as thoughts flit from question to question, too many loose ends. Did I lock the car? Did Howard make the house payment? Did Jimmy get his dinner?

A fine layer of dust coats the smooth planking, absorbing the lumber’s lustrous sheen. Dust motes gleam like tiny stars in the glowing blanket of moonlight that hugs the floor. Fragments whirl in Carla’s thoughts, fluttering like wounded birds. A to-do list half done, the white sheen of a prom dress, a plastic wristband from the hospital—shards of a shattered past, nothing left but scraps.

It’s so still she can almost hear the thrum of the cosmos, its pulse trembling at the edge of perception. The quiet house seems on the verge of telling her something, some deep revelation, a most intimate secret.

Something’s not quite right, but she dare not think about it. She’s certain that somehow it will miraculously all come to her and she’ll be okay.

Moonlight sifts through dust-streaked glass, exposing a void, an emptiness, as Carla absently reflects on her condition. But she’s been done with all her treatment for months now. Dr. Manson promised her it would be okay.

Cold light cuts through dead air with scalpel-like precision, illuminating tiny imperfections floating aimlessly in space. Yes, it will all be okay. Like gasping awake from a nightmare or coming to from a deep coma or a near-death experience—a grand mal seizure, like after an ECT treatment. Yet it has to be okay. How else could she still be seeing, hearing . . . thinking? It’s all just a bad dream, Carla’s sure she’ll wake up soon. Still, something’s not right. If only Dr. Manson had explained it to her, maybe then she’d understand. And she really needs to understand.

Wake-Up Call


Sixty miles northwest of Phoenix, just outside Wickenburg, it’s an unusually bright night for early November, the blood moon waxing full above a rugged mesa. A stiff breeze whips up into a gusty blow, kicking up dust and rolling tumbleweeds across the open desert to pile against long stretches of rusted barbwire fencing. As a lone coyote’s howl dies off, the cold wind moans, a bone-chilling song, echoing through the dry creosote and down the rocky ravines.

Gritty gusts vibrate the metal sheeting of an aging doublewide. Anchored against the elements, the weather-beaten trailer clings to a five-acre plot of raw desert. A ten-year-old Jeep Grand Cherokee is haphazardly parked nearby. The darkened trailer and old Jeep lie at the end of a narrow dirt track, the only evidence of civilization for miles.

And that’s fine with me. Just the way I like it. I’m snoring away in my new La-Z-Boy recliner, a half-empty longneck Bud sweating on the side table. A new fifty-two-inch flatscreen flashes digital images—my new surround-sound system, whispering the satellite TV’s endless monologue.

Dreaming, I catch my breath as a new reality unfolds:

A bright summer day, clear and hot. A large jet-black wasp appears overhead before I hear the hum of its Halloween-orange wings. A tarantula hawk headed straight for me. Flashes of raw panic. She’s enormous, big enough to carry me away. She lands in front of me, extending her hooked claws, wings flicking in anticipation. I rear back on hairy hind legs, baring my fangs and poking segmented forelegs at her in a valiant attempt to ward her off. She lunges, grappling with wicked claws, pulling me off balance and turning me over in one lightning-quick move. I flail wildly, arching my back, legs in the air, abdomen exposed and vulnerable. Holding fast, she thrusts her long black stinger deep into my belly, releasing her paralyzing venom. The shock-inducing sting slowly numbs me to the core as I silently scream from within its high-voltage spell. Her vile excretion robs me of all muscular control, leaving me to crackle in a hellish limbo. I can’t quite feel her dragging me away, but I fear the worst is yet to come.

A ringing in my head distracts me, growing louder, more insistent as the nightmare fades.

My cell phone’s obnoxious chirp drags me to semiconsciousness. I flail in my recliner, disoriented, trying to get my bearings. Grabbing my cell, I squint at the caller ID but can’t focus, my head spinning, drowning in dizziness.

The loud chirping stops and suddenly, it’s quiet. All that’s left is the ringing in my ears. As the ringing dies down, the dizziness fades. I decompress as the wind’s inhuman wail seeps through cracks in old weather stripping, competing with the TV’s mindless drone.

Thinking it through, it turns out the nightmare was more than just another bad dream. I know, having had more than my share. And “the worst is yet to come,” rings prophetic.


Q&A with Author

Writing and Reading:
Do you draw from personal experiences and/or current events?

Yes, I draw on both. The Lance Underphal mysteries are loosely based on real life experiences over a backdrop of current events extrapolated into a fictional reality.

Do you start with the conclusion and plot in reverse or start from the beginning and see where the story line brings you?

I start with an incident as an idea and throw together the basic plot and characters in the form of cryptic notes. I liken my process to my days as a jazz drummer—improvisation on a theme.

Your routine when writing?

I have to schedule my writing time. Otherwise, I’d never get to write.

Any idiosyncrasies?

Not so much, but I DO love to set the mood with music. The right piece of music is always a source of inspiration.

Is writing your full time job?

Yes. But so is book marketing and book publishing. Guess I’m the head cook and bottle washer of this outfit.

If not, may I ask what you do by day?

Additionally, I own and operate a commercial real estate company.

Who are some of your favorite authors?

I have a ton of favorites. Poe, HP Lovecraft, Asimov, Frank Herbert, Huxley, Heinlein are a few of the classic masters I love. When it comes to contemporary mystery, James Lee Burke and Michael Connelly are two of my faves.

What are you reading now?

Most of my reading these days is research for writing. However, here’s a few I’m reading now, mostly for fun: Creole Belle, by James Lee Burke; The Automatic Detective, by A. Lee Martinez; The Deep Blue Good-By, by John D. MacDonald; and Poe, by J. Lincoln Fenn.

Are you working on your next novel?

Two, actually. The 3rd in the series, Grey Daze, is with my editor now, and I’m nearly twenty thousand words into Operation: Cut-Throat, which will be the 4th Lance Underphal Mystery.

Can you tell us a little about it?

There are now three Grey Daze excerpts posted in my blog –

Operation: Cut-Throat adds elements of black-hat hacking, terrorism and international intrigue to the core elements of my paranormal murder mysteries. I can’t wait to see the ending, ha!

Fun questions:
Your novel will be a movie. Who would you cast?

In addition to Jack Nicholson or John Travolta as Lance Underphal, I’d cast Dwayne Johnson as Jake Jacobs.

Manuscript/Notes: handwritten or keyboard?

Keyboard, only. At sixty-four years of age, I don’t have enough time left to hand write anything.

Favorite leisure activity/hobby?

Leisure? What the hell is that? I spend my time creating . . .words and pictures—my joys.

Favorite meal?

Let me eat cake! CHOCOLATE cake! Yeah, baby! That’s what I’m talkin’ about!

Flight of the Tarantula Hawk – Book Trailer:


Author Bio:

Born and raised at the edge of the high desert in Kingman, Arizona, Michael Allan Scott resides in Scottsdale with his wife, Cynthia and their hundred-pound Doberman, Otto. In addition to writing mysteries and speculative fiction, his interests include music, photography, art, scuba diving and auto racing.


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It’s Time for a Book Blast | Chimeras & Mosaics

Track Presius Series, Books 1 & 2

by E.E. Giorgi

Book Blast



Book Details:

Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Published by: Quemazon Publishing
Publication Date: April 5 2014
Number of Pages: 406
ISBN: 978-0996045100

Purchase Links:


Haunted by the girl he couldn’t save in his youth, and the murder he committed to avenge her, Detective Track Presius has a unique gift: the vision and sense of smell of a predator. When a series of apparently unrelated murders reel him into the depths of genetic research, Track feels more than a call to duty. Children are dying — children who, like himself, could have been healthy, and yet something, at some point, went terribly wrong. For Track, saving the innocent becomes a quest for redemption. The only way he can come to terms with his dark past is to understand his true nature.



Chimeras is now a Reader’s Favorite 2014 Book Award Finalist!! Check it out here: Reader’s Favorite.


Read an excerpt:


It was one of those hot summer afternoons, with air made of cobwebs and a glare as sharp as pencils.

“Something’s wrong today,” I said.

“It’s L.A.,” my partner replied. “Something’s always wrong in L.A.”

A few hours later Johnny Carmelo was dead, his brains skewered by the whistling path of one of my bullets. He collapsed on the pavement, a red trickle of blood weeping down his face. They told me they weren’t going to clear me back to duty until the investigation was over. I left the next day. I drove up to the Sierras, camped in my truck, and hunted at night.

There are days I long to disappear in the wild, go back to the predator life I was meant to have. Kill the prey or be killed: it’s in my genes.

A chimera, that’s what I am. And this is my story.





Book Details:

Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Published by: Quemazon Publishing
Publication Date: 9/2014
Number of Pages: ~410
ISBN: 978-0-9960451-1-7

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Dubbed the Byzantine Strangler because of the mysterious mosaic tiles he leaves at the crime scene, a new serial killer is stalking the streets of Los Angeles. Racing to decipher the code encrypted in the tiles before the killer strikes again, Detective Track Presius faces a new challenge: the “awakened” genes that make his vision and olfactory sense so sharp are now taking a toll on his life. When a new set of tiles appears in his own backyard, Track makes a chilling realization: those very same genes that are threatening his life are drawing the Byzantine Strangler closer and closer. The line between hunter and hunted has suddenly blurred. Will Track be the next piece of the mosaic puzzle?


Read an excerpt:

MOSAICS – excerpt

A dark hallway with no windows opened to the right of the foyer. The smells changed—the staleness of a vacant place and the victim’s scent—feminine, ambitious, seductive. The wall displayed wrought iron sconces and a collection of photos of Amy—Amy in her graduation gown, Amy with friends, Amy with her cat. A pretty face, I noticed, whose beauty didn’t distract from an underlining drive for determination.

Her bedroom was orderly. There was a half-empty birth control kit in her nightstand drawer, but no boyfriend in her life, according to the friends and relatives interviewed, only an ex-husband who now lived in Oregon. Toiletries on her vanity table, regular clothes in her closet, a few garments in her drawers that told me she was no nun, but no distinctive masculine scent anywhere. If she shared her bed with somebody, she’d done a good job at hiding it. The sheets smelled clean and freshly washed.

The next door let to her home office, a small carpeted room with a couple of white bookcases, a table with a desktop and printer, a metal chair, and, on the opposite side, a futon, a laundry basket, and an ironing table folded against the wall. Through the window, the hills of Montecito glowed against the evening sky, a wavy fabric of glimmering lights.

I inhaled. The bookshelves were crammed with medical books, the desk buried under stacks of papers.

The sweet, foul smell of the tiles…

I sat at the desk, opened the drawers, sniffed the keyboard, then the computer screen.

Not here. Close, though.

The papers. He went through the pile of papers.

I rummaged through the folders not knowing what to look for, just tailgating a smell. Gloved fingers had brushed through printouts and graphs, tables, essays, research proposals…

Did he find what he was looking for? And if so, what?

Article after article of scientific jargon, each title some random permutation of the words immunodeficiency, vaccine, study design, therapy, antiretroviral.

“What are you gonna see in the dark?” By the office door, Satish flipped the light switch.


“On paper?”

“Yeah. And patterns, too,” I said. I sniffed the top right corner. I could follow the gloved fingers searching through the pile of papers, most likely a left thumb holding up the top ones so he could read the titles, and a right index flipping through. Until the trace stopped.

He found what he was looking for. Probably took it with him.

I inhaled and gave one last look around. Everything else seemed untouched.

“What did Gomez have to say?”

Satish shook his head sideways. “Autopsy’s scheduled for Thursday morning. Just got an invitation. Wanna join the party?” He smiled. Waited.

Amy Liu smiled too, from a silver frame on her desk, a man’s hand draping her shoulder, and a strand of black hair blowing over her face.

“Fine,” I said, walking past him out of the room. “I’ll keep you company on Thursday, but—”
He switched the lights off and followed me back to the foyer. “Uh-uh, Track. First things first. Tomorrow you pee in a cup and get your LAPD badge back.”

“I pee in a what?”

We locked the house, replaced the yellow crime scene tape. The air was tainted with a hint of humidity and the scent of jacaranda blooms. A handful of pale stars dotted the sky, the glow of downtown beneath them like a disoriented dawn. A broken streetlight strobed from farther down the street. The Latino music persisted. Yo sufrí mucho por ti, mi corazon…
Satish unlocked the car and slid behind the wheel. “Union mandated drug test. Your leave of absence from the department was longer than ninety days. Welcome back to regulations, Detective Presius.”

I made a face.

“Look at it this way. Whoever handles those cups has it way worse than you.” He started the engine and backed out of the driveway. “Shit happens, Track. Never forget that.”

“Hard to forget on days like this.”

I rolled down the window and let cool air blow in my face. The freeway droned in the distance, as another night descended upon L.A. Another murder, another killer on the loose.

It was June 2009, the beginning of summer.

Killing season had just started.



What Readers Think:



Author Bio:

E.E. Giorgi is a scientist, a writer, and a photographer. She spends her days analyzing genetic data, her evenings chasing sunsets, and her nights pretending she’s somebody else. On her blog, E.E. discusses science for the inquiring mind, especially the kind that sparks fantastic premises and engaging stories. Her detective thriller CHIMERAS, a hard-boiled police procedural with a genetic twist, is now available on Amazon.

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Alan Brenham Guest Author interview & giveaway

WELCOME Alan Brenham

Alan Brenham

Alan Behr served as a law enforcement officer and criminal investigator for seventeen years before earning a law degree from Baylor University. After obtaining his law license, he worked as a prosecutor and criminal defense attorney for twenty-two years. His personal and official travels took him to several European and Middle Eastern countries, Alaska and almost every island in the Caribbean. He has lived in Berlin, Germany while working with US military forces. After retiring from government service, he has authored two crime novels – Price of Justice and Cornered – under the pen name of Alan Brenham. He is presently working on two more novels. Alan and his wife, Lillian, currently live in the Austin, Texas area.

Connect with Alan Brenham:


Q&A with Alan Brenham

Writing and Reading:
Do you draw from personal experiences and/or current events?

I actually draw from both. Plot ideas are derived from current events and cases worked as a police officer. Use of current events such as human trafficking in my novel Cornered, or crimes against children and parental revenge as in my other novel Price of Justice, makes the plot more believable to readers. Hopefully, this raises questions for the reader to ponder, such as, what would I do if that happened to me or a member of my family.

Do you start with the conclusion and plot in reverse or start from the beginning and see where the story line brings you?

When I first began writing fiction, my starting point was always the beginning. In life, everything starts at the beginning. How it all ends will be a surprise. Why should a fictional story be any different? But for me, the result ended up being a quagmire or nightmare of disconnected scenes and character story lines. In short, it lacked a smooth flow.
But time and experience plus a lot of reading of other author’s novels, made me realize my style needed a drastic change. Now, it’s conclusion first but I don’t then do the plot in reverse. Once I’m satisfied with where and how the story will finish, I’ll frame the beginning – usually right in the middle of some major event. With a likeable beginning and ending in place – a framework, the story with its subtle clues and foreshadowing is easier to write.

Your routine when writing? Any idiosyncrasies?

I work from a home office. Armed with cups of coffee, I’ll start the day by re-reading the last scene written the day before so as to refresh my recollection. Then the typing begins. While I type, I love to listen to German polka music or instrumentals of my favorite tunes from days gone by. It also masks distracting sounds from the lawn care crew.

Is writing your full time job? If not, may I ask what you do by day?

It is. Having retired from government service, I spend my time either writing the next novel or reading/studying how other authors did it. Occasionally I have to pause and submit/answer emails or phone calls from other attorneys or police associates about various topics – some related to my writing and some not.

Who are some of your favorite authors?

This is a difficult question. A year or so ago, I’d have said it was Michael Connelly, John Sandford, and J.A. Jance. Now, having expanded my reading list to include many more authors, I’d list three – Michael McGarrity with his vivid descriptions of settings in New Mexico for his protagonist, Kevin Kearney; James Hayman with his “can’t put it down” stories about his co-protagonists McCabe and Savage; and Meg Gardiner, not only because she’s from Austin but for her full 3-dimensional descriptions of her novels’ characters.

What are you reading now?

I deviated from my favorites to read the next two books in my Nook’s queue – Class Dismissed by Mark Petry, and The Psalmist by James Lilliefors. I selected them because Mark’s a fellow author with the same publisher as me – it’s a way of supporting him plus he writes an interesting novel. Lilliefors is an author I know little about. I read the blurb about this book while searching for a crime novel to read/study.

Are you working on your next novel? Can you tell us a little about it?

Right now, I’m in the middle of finishing the third revision of Rampage, the sequel to Price of Justice. It follows Detective Scarsdale and his new partner, Tatum Harper, as they try to identify and catch a killer. The book uses themes of temptation, trust, and redemption.

In the wings, with an outline and the first two chapters written, is a stand-alone mystery-thriller about an assistant district attorney who finds the dark side just as enticing as the law.

Fun questions:
Your novel will be a movie. Who would you cast?

Believe it or not, when I start a new novel, I cast the characters so I can visualize them while I’m writing about them. That said, for my novel Cornered, Christian Bale would be my choice for the role of Detective Matt Brady; Sarah Jones is the perfect actress for the role of Dr. Tracy Rogers; Cassidy Freeman possesses the same snarky smile as Brady’s ex-girlfriend, Cassandra. The bad guys, Weaver and Chiles, would be played by Michael Rooker and Michael Mando, respectively.

Manuscript/Notes: handwritten or keyboard?

My manuscript is always, always done by keyboard. If I (a hunt and peck typist) had to write it by hand or on a conventional typewriter, it’d take me forever to get it done. But my notes and those 3AM epiphanies are all scribblings put on notepads my wife leaves in strategic spots around the house.

Favorite leisure activity/hobby?

My favorite activity is dating my wife. She’s a beautiful woman whose patience with me obviously knows no limits. My next favorite activity is watching pro and college football games. Aside from football, I have several favorite TV shows – The Originals, The Last Ship, Under the Dome, Motive, Murder in the First, and Bitten.

Favorite meal?

My wife says I’m an easy mark for a homemade chocolate chip cookie. Like a dog doing tricks for a dog biscuit.

ABOUT Cornered

He’s haunted by the memory of a kidnapping case gone wrong…

Not wanting history to repeat itself, Detective Matt Brady struggles to solve the disappearances of seven young women, but he quickly finds himself pitted against a criminal organization that knows as much about police procedure as he does—an organization that will do whatever it takes to stay one step ahead of him. His troubles are compounded when a young veterinarian injects herself into the investigation and is targeted to become victim number eight. When he tries to protect her, he finds himself in the crosshairs of a professional cop killer. Can Brady solve the case in time to save his new love, or will this investigation be the death of both of them?


Number of Pages: 320
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Publisher: Black Opal Books
Publication Date: July 19, 2014
ISBN-13: 9781626941380/9781626941373


I received a copy of this book, at no charge to me, in exchange for my honest review. No items that I receive are ever sold…they are kept by me, or given to family and/or friends.
I do not have any affiliation with or Barnes & Noble. I am an IndieBound affiliate. I am providing link(s) solely for visitors that may be interested in purchasing this Book/EBook.


Lorraine Ash Guest Author interview & giveaway

WELCOME Lorraine Ash

Lorraine Ash

Lorraine Ash, MA, is an author, journalist, and essayist as well as a writing teacher. Self and Soul: On Creating a Meaningful Life is her second book. Her first memoir, Life Touches Life: A Mother’s Story of Stillbirth and Healing, was published by NewSage Press and has circulated throughout the United States as well as in the Middle East, Australia, Europe, China, Canada, and Mexico. Lorraine also is a veteran journalist whose feature articles and series have won seventeen national, state, and regional awards and have appeared in daily newspapers across the country. Lorraine belongs to the Association of Writers and Writing Programs and Investigative Reporters and Editors. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, Bill.

Connect with Lorraine at these sites:


Q&A with Lorraine Ash

Writing and Reading:
Do you draw from personal experiences and/or current events?

As a memoir writer, I draw from personal experience. Like all our lives, though, mine is touched by issues and trends of the day.

Do you start with the conclusion and plot in reverse or start from the beginning and see where the story line brings you?

A memoirist has lived her story line. Though the story may have ended, in terms of what happened, it probably is still alive and kicking in the psyche of the writer. Indeed many people turn to memoir not only to witness and chronicle some important corner of life but to come to peace with what happened.

A well-constructed memoir poses a master question. It’s fair to say the writer does not, at the outset, fully know where that question may bring her. She usually knows, though, that it’s imperative for her to take the journey.
In a memoir, the journey follows the writer through what she experienced but also traces the shifts in her consciousness until she comes upon some master insight—a holy grail, if you will—that allows her to answer the question the best she can. Tracing those consciousness shifts while inching toward the insight makes for good storytelling, but it also can be therapeutic for the writer.

Everyone’s life, no matter how ordinary, can open into life’s big questions and grand themes. That statement is a revelation to some people. By virtue of having a mind and a heart, though, we’re hardwired to engage the big questions. Every life is important.

In my latest book, Self and Soul: On Creating a Meaningful Life, a spiritual memoir, I ask a question from deep in midlife, after I’ve had many disparate experiences, including the stillbirth of my only child and, less than a decade later, the parallel declines of my father, my industry, and the American economy. It seemed a good time to ask: What does it all add up to?

The question echoes one my father used to ask in his prime. He’d come home from his office, put down his two hefty legal briefcases, rifle through the mail, and mutter, “Where does it all take us in the end?” It’s a fair question.
Self and Soul takes readers to some interesting places in the world, including the hospital room where I lost my daughter, a caving expedition, an ashram, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater, and Sedona, Arizona. Yet it’s very much about interior landscapes. The book shows that some of the experiences that happen to a person—a “self,” if you will— can seem futile or hollow or random and become meaningful only when we take them inside us to the “soul” level. That’s where the magic happens.

Your routine when writing? Any idiosyncrasies?

When a project, whether it be an article, series, or book, starts to build in my mind, I’m always writing it, whether my hands are on the keyboard or not. I’m forever jotting down ideas, assimilating information, and turning over scenes in my mind. Also, my ear is always to the ground for any news or ambient story regarding the issue or theme.

As a full-time journalist, I write in the newsroom whenever I’m on duty. As a part-time author, I write on weekends and, better yet, on vacation days. Both of the latter instances have the advantage of offering a run of days in which to keep a flow going.

I don’t find it useful to write in small snatches of time and my most productive hours are definitely in the afternoon and night—sometimes into the wee hours of the morning.

Is writing your full time job? If not, may I ask what you do by day?

I write full time as a journalist and part time as an author, which is a wonderful balance. I’m enchanted by long-form journalism and narrative writing.

Who are some of your favorite authors?

In the world of memoir, I find myself resonating with the voices and writing styles of Cheryl Strayed (Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail), Caroline Knapp (Drinking: A Love Story), and May Sarton, whose journals are sublime.

What are you reading now?

In the moment, I’m re-reading I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by the great Maya Angelou. I’m wistful, I suppose, about her recent passing.

Are you working on your next novel? Can you tell us a little about it?

In my case, it would be the next memoir. I have conceptualized and mulled it, having resolved to start next year. I can say that it centers around my late father’s dementia. I can say with certainty that dementia is a huge issue in the United States.

Fun questions:
Your novel will be a movie. Who would you cast?

If the memoir Self and Soul were a movie, the dream lead would be Michelle Pfeiffer, hands down. Maybe we could get Kevin Bacon to lead the caving expedition, Ben Kingsley to play the swami, and Sela Ward to play the therapist. Perfection!

Manuscript/Notes: handwritten or keyboard?

I take notes many ways, depending on where I am when my mind illuminates with an idea—on my smart phone, PC, or a paper pad. From time to time, I’ll reach for my digital sound recorder, too.

Favorite leisure activity/hobby?

Spending time with my husband and friends, cooking, getting a massage, exploring the state of Maine.

Favorite meal?

There are so many and so much from which to choose, even for a gluten-free person like me—cavatelli and broccoli (with bacon and in a butter sauce), pineapple chicken, orange barbecue chicken over rice, filet mignon, saffron risotto with butternut squash, Cornish game hen, and a good old-fashioned meatloaf.
On my mother’s side of the family, there are a lot of great cooks. Indeed, my Great Uncle Primo was a chef at Asti’s, an Italian restaurant in New York City where the waiters were also professional singers who’d break into song for the patrons.

I consider the legacy of beautiful, healthful food to be one of my most joyful family legacies.

ABOUT Self and Soul: On Creating a Meaningful Life

Are you living a life of quiet desperation? Questioning what it means to succeed? Wondering if your efforts matter? In this uplifting memoir, Lorraine Ash uses her own life experiences to explore inner landscapes where the seeds of divine healing and insight reside. These are the landscapes on which we create our own meaning and find the resiliency to thrive in a changing and challenging world.

Self and Soul: On Creating a Meaningful Life is available as a digital audiobook. Find it at and as well as in the iTunes store.


Number of Pages: 176 pages
Publisher: Cape House Books
Publication Date: October 1st 2012
ISBN-10: 1939129001
ISBN-13: 9781939129000





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I received a copy of this book, at no charge to me, in exchange for my honest review. No items that I receive are ever sold…they are kept by me, or given to family and/or friends.
I do not have any affiliation with or Barnes & Noble. I am an IndieBound affiliate. I am providing link(s) solely for visitors that may be interested in purchasing this Book/EBook.


William Leibowitz Guest Author interview & giveaway

WELCOME William Leibowitz

William Leibowitz

William R. Leibowitz has been practicing entertainment law in New York City for a number of years. He has represented numerous renowned recording artists, songwriters, producers and many of the leading record companies, talent managers, merchandisers and other notable entertainment businesses. At one point, he was the Chief Operating Officer/General Counsel for the Sanctuary Group of Companies, a U.K. public company that was the largest ‘indie’ music company in the world (prior to its acquisition by the Universal Music Group). William has a Bachelor of Science Degree from New York University (magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa) and a law degree from Columbia University. He lives in the village of Quogue, New York with his wife, Alexandria, and dog, George.

Miracle Man was named the winner of “Best Thriller – 2014” at the National Pacific Book Awards. William wrote Miracle Man because of its humanistic and spiritual messages and because he feels that in our current times– when meritless celebrity has eclipsed accomplishment and the only heroes are those based on comic books, the world needs a real hero—and that, of course, is Robert James Austin.

Connect with William at these sites:


Q&A with William Leibowitz

Writing and Reading:
Do you draw from personal experiences and/or current events?
While “miracle man” is fictional, the conflict between the protagonist, Robert James Austin, and ‘big pharma’ was inspired by the continual bad behavior of the large pharmaceutical companies that is constantly in the news. Similarly, the political intrigue and shenanigans in the book are based on current events.

Do you start with the conclusion and plot in reverse or start from the beginning and see where the story line brings you?
Before I start writing, I do extensive outlining of the plot—starting from the beginning and moving forward chronologically. Once I have the story line I then give thought to how I might create flash-backs and flash-forwards to keep the story moving and to create/maintain reader interest.

Your routine when writing? Any idiosyncrasies?
Much of my first draft is done in long-hand, pen on paper. There’s something about that which makes me feel like I’m following an ageless tradition.

Is writing your full time job? If not, may I ask what you do by day?
I wish writing was my full time job, but it’s not. My ‘day gig’ is being a lawyer in the entertainment business.

Who are some of your favorite authors?
James Hilton, Oscar wilder, Daniel da Silva, Toni Morrison

What are you reading now?
Goodbye Mr. Chips by James Hilton, and the collected quotations of Albert Einstein.

Are you working on your next novel?  Can you tell us a little about it?
Many readers have emailed me asking for a sequel to “miracle man.” In fact, the ending of “miracle man” hints at more to come. I’m currently sketching out the plot lines—and all I can say is that readers have some very big surprises in store.

Fun questions:
Your novel will be a movie.  Who would you cast?
That’s a tough question because I’m not familiar enough with the current crop of actors/actresses to answer that. I think that’s a great question for me to pose to readers of “miracle man” –who would they cast for each of the key roles?

Manuscript/Notes: hand written or keyboard?
Once my first draft is done I move to the keyboard. I find that’s the easiest way to not only ‘fine-tune’ the writing, but also to move passages from one place to another to see if restructuring would be helpful.

Favorite leisure activity/hobby?
Gardening and watching my koi swim around in their small pond.

Favorite meal?
TA charcuterie platter—selection of cheeses, Italian meats, olives, crackers, pate and condiments. That coupled with a very dry Bombay gin martini.

ABOUT Miracle Man

If you had encountered the most intelligent individual in human history, how would you want them to use their gift? The possibilities would be endless, and the reach of this power could potentially save millions of human lives. In Miracle Man, William R. Leibowitz presents the story of Dr. Robert James Austin, an anti-hero genius with an IQ higher than Einstein and a tragic background, who has the mental capacity to find cures for diseases – making him the perfect enemy for big pharma.

Leibowitz recounts Big Pharma’s efforts to sabotage and destroy Dr. Austin, who has devoted his extraordinary intellect to finding cures for human ailments, which is costing the pharmaceutical companies a fortune as his discoveries eliminate the need for “cash-cow” drugs that treat, rather than cure.

Although the story could have become an obvious morality tale, it instead explores the depths of darkness that can accompany the gift of genius, and readers will enjoy the philosophical debate about what the true nature of disease truly is: disease itself, or the men who look to benefit from it. Leibowitz does this within the context of fast-paced action involving world-altering scientific breakthroughs, industrial espionage and political intrigue, mixed in with an extraordinary romance.

In the book, Leibowitz gives insight into:
• The depths of darkness that can accompany the gift of genius
• What cures for diseases means for the pharmaceutical industry
• How scientific breakthroughs are affected by political influence
• The corruption behind un-regulated industries that profit from man’s destruction

As Dr. Austin says, “No major disease has been cured in decades. The thrust is not to find a cure, but to create a treatment – a product that can be sold, again and again; ongoing treatments with drugs rather than cures. Keep selling those pills day after day rather than eradicate the need for them.”


Number of Pages: 430 pages
Publisher: manifesto media group
Publication Date: January 24th 2014
ISBN-10: 0989866211
ISBN-13: 9780989866217





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I received a copy of this book, at no charge to me, in exchange for my honest review. No items that I receive are ever sold…they are kept by me, or given to family and/or friends.
I do not have any affiliation with or Barnes & Noble. I am an IndieBound affiliate. I am providing link(s) solely for visitors that may be interested in purchasing this Book/EBook.


Guest Author Cate Beauman interview & giveaway


WELCOME Cate Beauman


Cate Beauman

Cate currently lives in North Carolina with her husband, their two boys, and St. Bernards, Bear and Jack. She is the author of the best selling romantic suspense series, The Bodyguards of L.A. County. Before her career as an author, Cate worked in special education for 12 years.

“I’m a pretty lucky girl; one day I woke up and my entire life changed. I saw the light, so to speak, and decided I was going to be a writer. Now, four years later, I’m currently working on my eighth novel, Reagan’s Redemption, which I plan to release in early spring of 2015. I’m very grateful for the support and success I’ve had.” – Cate


Writing and Reading:
Do you draw from personal experiences and/or current events?

I don’t typically write from by own experiences. I’m just not as exciting as the men and women of Ethan Cooke Security. I usually get ideas from crime documentaries or articles I read. Whenever I watch television or read magazines, I keep a pen and pad of paper handy. Inspiration comes in the strangest forms. Once I saw a femur bone on a TV show and it sparked an idea for a novel I want to write in the future.

Do you start with the conclusion and plot in reverse or start from the beginning and see where the story line brings you?

I typically have a general idea of where I want to take each story. I use a very vague outline that I build on as I get to know my characters better and come across plot holes.

Your routine when writing? Any idiosyncrasies?

My workday starts after the hubster and kiddos head off to work and school. I write until they come home then usually some more after everyone goes to bed.

I guess one might say I have a few idiosyncrasies. I’m kind of a neat freak, so I can’t write until my house is clean! And I always have to have a glass of water close by. It’s a little weird but that’s me!

Is writing your full time job? If not, may I ask what you do by day?

I’m lucky to say writing is my full-time job! I stay home and play in my imagination all day, so most of the time it doesn’t feel like a job at all.

Who are some of your favorite authors?

My all-time favorite is Nora Roberts. I love her work and her work ethic.

What are you reading now?

I would have to say I’ve mostly been reading over my youngest son’s homework! Life is pretty busy. I haven’t had the opportunity to read for fun since last winter!

Are you working on your next novel? Can you tell us a little about it?

Absolutely! By the time I’m ready to release a novel, I’m typically preparing to start the second draft on the next manuscript! Reagan’s Redemption, book eight in The Bodyguards of L.A. County Series, will chronicle Shane Harper and Doctor Reagan Rosner while they travel deep into the hills of Western Kentucky. Shane and Reagan encounter more than they expect while they both serve on The Appalachia Project, a humanitarian effort that will bring medical aide to a reluctant community.

Fun questions:
Your novel will be a movie. Who would you cast?

I’ll never tell (Cue creepy music!). I must admit I never ever share whom I see in the staring roles of my stories. One of my pet peeves is reading stories where I fall in love with the characters then look on the cover of the book and realize the people portrayed are not the ones I’ve imagined in my head. On more than one occasion I’ve frowned and said, “That’s not what they look like.” I want my readers to conjure up their own visions of the men and women of Ethan Cooke Security.

Manuscript/Notes: handwritten or keyboard?

Both! I have notebooks chalked full of notes, but I write each story on my laptop. Before I start a second draft, I add helpful hints for each scene in dark red font.

Favorite leisure activity/hobby?

Kayaking is my favorite outdoor activity. My family and I get out on the water whenever we can! I also like to make jewelry and cook and bake.

Favorite meal?

I LOVE eggplant parmesan. Toss in a piece of garlic bread and a salad and I’m in heaven!

Connect with Cate at these sites:





Jewelry designer Sophie Burke has fled Maine for the anonymity of the big city. She’s starting over with a job she tolerates and a grungy motel room she calls home on the wrong side of town, but anything is better than the nightmare she left behind.

Stone McCabe is Ethan Cooke Security’s brooding bad boy more interested in keeping to himself than anything else—until the gorgeous blond with haunted violet eyes catches his attention late one rainy night.

Stone reluctantly gives Sophie a hand only to quickly realize that the shy beauty with the soft voice and pretty smile has something to hide. Tangled up in her secrets, Stone offers Sophie a solution that has the potential to free her from her problems once and for all—or jeopardize both of their lives.





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I received a copy of this book, at no charge to me, in exchange for my honest review. No items that I receive are ever sold…they are kept by me, or given to family and/or friends.
I do not have any affiliation with or Barnes & Noble. I am an IndieBound affiliate. I am providing link(s) solely for visitors that may be interested in purchasing this Book/EBook.


Showcase & Giveaway of Murder Strikes a Pose

Murder Strikes a Pose

by Tracy Weber

on Tour August 2014

Book Details:

Genre: Cozy Mystery
Published by: Midnight Ink
Publication Date: January 8, 2014
Number of Pages: 288
ISBN: 978-0738739687
Purchase Links:


When George and Bella—a homeless alcoholic and his intimidating German shepherd—disturb the peace outside her studio, yoga instructor Kate Davidson’s Zen-like calm is stretched to the breaking point. Kate tries to get rid of them before Bella scares the yoga pants off her students. Instead, the three form an unlikely friendship.

One night Kate finds George’s body behind her studio. The police dismiss his murder as a drug-related street crime, but she knows George wasn’t a dealer. So Kate starts digging into George’s past while also looking for someone to adopt Bella before she’s sent to the big dog park in the sky. With the murderer nipping at her heels, Kate has to work fast or her next Corpse Pose may be for real.

Read an excerpt:

I laid my body on the cool wood floor, covered up with a blanket, and prepared to die.

Metaphorically, that is.

Corpse Pose’s ten-minute rest always soothed my stressed-out nerves, and for once I didn’t feel guilty about the indulgence. My to-do list was blank, Serenity Yoga’s phone was silent, and I had a whole blissful hour between clients to do my favorite activity: practice yoga.

Even my eclectic Greenwood neighborhood seemed uncharacteristically quiet, lulled by Seattle’s rare afternoon sun. The residents of the apartments above the yoga studio were off at their day jobs; the alcohol-addicted patrons of the block’s two dive bars slept off their Jim Beam breakfasts; the soccer moms shopping at next door’s upscale PhinneyWood Market purchased the day’s supplies in unusual silence.

I wiggled my toes under a Mexican blanket, covered my eyes with a blue satin eye pillow, and inhaled deeply. The ooey-gooey smell of Mocha Mia’s chocolate caramel cake wafted from across the street and filled my nostrils with sweet toffee-scented bliss—my all-time favorite aromatherapy.

Paradise. Simply paradise.

I released my weight into the earth and silently coached myself, exactly as I would one of my students. OK, Kate. Feel your body relax. Notice the random fluctuations of your mind and—

A vicious snarl ripped through the silence, startling me out of my catnap. I sat straight up, eye pillow falling to the floor with an undignified thump.

What the heck?

When had a dog fighting ring moved into the neighborhood?

A dog fight was the only plausible explanation for the commotion outside. Bursts of deep, frantic barking were followed by high-pitched yelping, all punctuated by the peace-shattering sounds of angry yelling. The phrases I could make out confirmed my suspicions. This had to be a dog fight, albeit one-sided.

“Control your dog!”

“Get that vicious beast out of here!”

And even a simple, “What the hell?”

I closed the door between the yoga room and the studio’s lobby, hoping to block out the intrusive sounds. Snarls, shouts, and an occasional ear-piercing shriek continued to reverberate right through the wall.

Undaunted, I imagined that the sounds were merely clouds floating across my mental horizon. Most of those clouds were dark and ominous, like the deep thunderclouds preceding a hailstorm. But every so often I heard a soft voice, more like the fluffy clouds of childhood summers. I couldn’t quite make out his words, but I could tell that the speaker was a man. From his tone, I assumed he was trying to calm beasts both human and animal.

It wasn’t working.

Neither, for that matter, was my attempted meditation.

I’d obviously have to shift tactics.

I tried drowning out the clamor with low, soft chanting. Then I increased the volume. But even as I belted out Om Santi, my favorite mantra for peace, I felt my jaw start to tighten. My fingernails bit deeply into my palms. My shoulders crept up to my ears.

An entirely different mantra began pounding through my head: Don’t get me angry; you wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.

A series of yelps and the words “I’m calling the cops!” zapped me like a cattle prod. I leapt from my mat and stormed across the floor, determined to put a stop to that infernal racket. I hurled open the door and came face-to-face, or rather face-to-snout, with the source of the commotion. Not more than five feet away from the studio’s entrance stood a paunchy, dark-haired man and the biggest, skinniest, meanest-looking German shepherd I had ever seen. Don’t get me wrong. I like dogs. I love them, in fact. It’s their human counterparts I could sometimes do without. But this frothing breast was no Rin Tin Tin. A long line of drool oozed from its mouth. Its sharp white teeth glinted in the sunlight, and its black wiry topcoat still stood on end from the prior scuffle. The dog was obviously rabid.
I didn’t recognize the man standing next to the frightening creature, but I did recognize his activity. He worked as a vendor for Dollars for Change, a well-regarded local newspaper that published articles about homelessness and poverty while employing those same homeless individuals as salespeople. Ordinarily I would have welcomed one of their vendors outside my business. If nothing else, supporting the paper demonstrated yoga’s principles of kindness and compassion.
But this was not an ordinary circumstance. I absolutely could not allow that disgusting dog to raise a ruckus outside my studio. The prenatal class would have a fit. Suffice it to say that pregnancy hormones didn’t always leave expecting moms in the best of moods. My moms-to-be liked their yoga practice. They needed their yoga practice. And they needed to be serene while doing it. If a noisy dog fight disturbed their peaceful experience, I’d be the one getting barked at.

Thinking less than yogic thoughts, I marched up to the pair, determined to put a stop to the chaos.

“What in the world’s going on out here?”

The human half of the dastardly duo held a leash in one hand, newspapers in the other. He smiled at me and said, “Sorry about all the noise. I’m George, and this here’s Bella. What’s your name?”

“Kate Davidson, but—”

“Well, nice to meet you, Kate. I’d shake your hand, but mine are full, so Bella will have to do it instead.”

The vicious beast walked up and calmly sniffed my hand. I prayed she wasn’t about to ingest my fingers.

“Bella, say hello!”

Upon hearing her owner’s command, the giant hairy monster-dog immediately went into a perfect sit and sweetly offered me her paw. Maybe she wasn’t rabid after all. Just huge and ill-mannered.

“Don’t mind Bella,” he continued. “She’s very friendly to people. She just doesn’t like other dogs much. She’d be fine if people kept their unruly mutts to themselves, but they think if their rude dog wants to play, Bella has to as well.” He shook his head in disgust. “I don’t understand some people!”

I tried to interrupt, to tell him that his dog was the problem, but he didn’t give me the chance.

“Bella and I are new to this neighborhood, and we’re supposed to sell papers near the market. I tried setting up by the north entrance, but there’s a pet store at that end. Pete’s Pets, I think it’s called? The owner was a nice enough guy and all, but selling there was a disaster with all those dogs going in and out. Bella wasn’t happy at all.” He shrugged. “So I guess we’re going to have to hang out here instead.”

I bit the inside of my lip and considered my options. Up close, George wasn’t exactly the paragon of health I wanted standing outside my business. His friendly smile exposed yellowed teeth in need of significant dental care, and if the sharp, ammonia-like smell was any indication, neither he nor Bella had taken a bath in quite some time. At three-thirty in the afternoon, I could smell whiskey on his breath, and I suspected this most recent drink hadn’t been his first of the day. It would also likely be far from his last. I only knew one thing for certain: if George didn’t frighten my students away, his loud, intimidating, fur-covered companion would.

I needed them to leave, but honestly, I didn’t want to say it out loud. After all, I taught yoga for a living. People expected me to be calm and collected at all times. I wasn’t allowed to be mean, or even irritated, for that matter. I hesitated as I tried to come up with the perfect words to make him want to move, if not out of the neighborhood, then at least across the street.

Fortunately (or perhaps unfortunately), one of my favorite students picked that very moment to walk up with her five-month-old Lab pup, Coalie. “Hey, Kate!” she said. “I hoped I’d run into you! Do you still have space in your Core Strength class tonight?”
Coalie was as rude and friendly as Labs everywhere. She couldn’t stop herself if she tried. She ran up to Bella, wiggling her entire body with glee, and covered Bella’s muzzle in sloppy wet puppy kisses.

Bella wasted no time. Faster than a 747 and stronger than a freight train, Bella pinned Coalie to the ground between her front legs, snarling and air-snapping on either side of Coalie’s neck. I heard the sound of canine teeth chomping together and imagined soft puppy bones shattering between them.
My student screamed. Coalie yelped. George grabbed Bella’s collar while I reached in between razor-sharp teeth to pull Coalie from the jaws of death. The three of us wrestled the two dogs apart, but not before my student almost died of heart failure.

“What’s wrong with you?” she yelled. “Keep that vicious monster away from my baby!”

George quickly apologized, but said, “No damage done. Bella was just teaching that pup some manners.” He pointed at Coalie. “See, it’s all good!”

Coalie, oblivious with joy, seemed unscathed and ready to dive in again. Tail wagging and butt wiggling, she pulled with all her might, trying desperately to get back to Bella.

Bella had other plans. She sat next to George, glaring directly at that pup with a patented Clint Eastwood stare. Go ahead, she seemed to say. Make my day. My soon-to-be-former student ran off as quickly as her legs would move, dragging the still-happy puppy behind her.

“See you in class tonight!” I yelled to her rapidly retreating back. I doubted I’d be seeing her any time soon.

Yoga reputation be damned. I had to get rid of this guy.

I put my hands on my hips and stood nice and tall, taking full advantage of my five-foot-three-inch frame. “Look. I can’t let you stay here with the dog. She’s obviously frightening people. You have to leave.” I paused a moment for emphasis, then added, “Now.”

George stood a little taller, too. “Look yourself, lady. The last time I checked, I’m standing on city property. I have every right to be here. You don’t own this sidewalk, and you can’t stop me from making a living on it.” He glared at me, sharp eyes unblinking. “We Dollars for Change vendors are licensed, and no matter how much you don’t like us, the city says we can be here.”

“There’s no ‘us’ I don’t like,” I replied, frustrated. “It’s your dog. And you may have every right to be here, but the dog is another story. What do you think Animal Control will do if I report a vicious dog attacking people outside my store?”

George stepped back, pulling Bella closer. Seattle had the toughest dangerous dog laws in the nation. We both knew what would happen if I made that call. “You wouldn’t do that!” he said. “Bella’s never hurt anyone.”

I planted my feet stubbornly. “Try me.”

George gave me a wounded look and gathered his papers, shoulders slumped in depressed resignation. “OK, we’ll go. But I thought you yoga people were supposed to be kind.” He shuffled away, shaking his head and mumbling under his breath. Bella followed close by his side.

“Crap,” I muttered, watching their slow departure. “Crap, crap, crap, crap, crap.”
He was right. Like all good yoga teachers, I had extensively studied yoga philosophy and tried to live by it. The teachings were clear: A yogi should respond to suffering with active compassion. And George was clearly suffering, whether he realized that fact or not.

Threatening to call the cops on George’s dog may have been active, but it wasn’t all that compassionate, to him or to Bella. I felt like a cad. My solution probably wasn’t what the teachings had in mind, but it was the best I could come up with on short notice.
“Hang on there a minute!” I yelled as I ran to catch up with him. Out of breath, I said, “You’re right. I overreacted, and I’m sorry. How many papers do you have left to sell today?”

George stopped walking. When he turned to look back at me, his eyes sparkled with an unexpected hint of wry humor. “About thirty.”

The calculations weren’t difficult. I wasn’t completely broke—yet—but thirty dollars wasn’t a drop in the bucket. On the other hand, my Monday evening classes were popular, and I had to get this guy away from the front door. Mentally crossing my fingers that the toilet wouldn’t break again, I said, “Wait here. I’ll be right back.” I hurried back to the studio and grabbed thirty dollars from the cash box.

“If I buy all of your papers, will you be done for the day?”

“Yes ma’am, and that would be very kind of you.” He gave me a broad, yellow-toothed smile. “Bella and I appreciate it very much.”
He took the money, left the papers, and wandered off, whistling. Bella happily trotted behind him.

“Well, that wasn’t so difficult,” I said, patting myself on the back. “I should follow the teachings more often!” I went back inside and finished my considerably shortened practice. I chose to ignore the quiet voice in my head telling me I’d just made a huge mistake.

Author Bio:

My writing is an expression of the things I love best: yoga, dogs, and murder mysteries.

I’m a certified yoga teacher and the founder of Whole Life Yoga, an award-winning yoga studio in Seattle, WA. I enjoy sharing my passion for yoga and animals in any form possible.

My husband and I live with our challenging yet amazing German shepherd Tasha and our bonito flake-loving cat Maggie. When I’m not writing, I spend my time teaching yoga, walking Tasha, and sipping Blackthorn cider at my favorite local ale house.

I am a member of Sisters in Crime, The Pacific Northwest Writers Association, and the Dog Writers Association of America.

Catch Up With the Author:

Tour Participants:


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Guest Author Christopher Meeks

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery
Published by: White Whisker Books
Publication Date: August 15, 2014
Number of Pages: 176
ISBN: 978-0-9836329-9-3
Purchase Links:


In A Death in Vegas, the president of BenBugs, a company that specializes in beneficial bugs for organic gardening, discovers a young woman dead in his Las Vegas hotel suite. She had worked as a sexy lady bug at his convention booth—and he had nothing to do with her death. While that’s being investigated, the FBI raids his booth on a money-laundering scam that he knows nothing about, either. Soon, the coroner doesn’t have good news. The police and FBI are against him—and his wife cannot be found. He flees to find the answers.


“With his tongue planted firmly in cheek, Christopher Meeks spins a charming and surprisingly sexy tale of murder, betrayal, and the importance of beneficial insects.”
Mark Haskell Smith, author of Baked and Raw: A Love Story

“I’ve never, ever wanted to go to Vegas. I don’t care if what happens there, stays there. But Christopher Meeks makes me want to go so I can find out who done it. A fun, exciting read, with Chris’s usual wonderful writing and great sense of humor.“
Jessica Barksdale Inclan, author of Her Daughter’s Eyes and How to Bake a Man.

“Christopher Meeks had me at page three. I couldn’t wait to find out how Patton Burch was going to explain the naked body he woke up to in his Las Vegas hotel room – first to the cops and then to his wife.”
Sam Sattler, Book Chase

Writing a Page-Turning Mystery:

I was able to talk to Mr. Meeks and asked him how he’s able to keep writing these page turners. Here’s what he said:
I’d been a short story writer forever when my new agent said, “Write a novel.” At this point, I had enough published short stories to make a whole collection, and I wanted him to send the collection out.

My agent said, “No. Write a novel.”

“Is postage the problem? I’ll pay postage.”

He said, “The problem is fifteen percent of nothing is nothing. Write a novel.”

Even though that collection of short fiction, The Middle-Aged Man and the Sea,” later did well—and it still sells—such was my introduction to novel writing. I was petrified. How does one write a novel? I soon learned there are many challenges to writing any novel, and my first one was to write any novel. I didn’t know how to keep a story going for that long. Do I write an outline first? Many problems hit me. I did nothing until a good friend said, “You know how to write short stories. Make each chapter a short story.” That’s how I structured my first novel, The Brightest Moon of the Century.

While it worked well, and I received great reviews, one thing I later realized: short stories usually end with a final beat, as did my chapters. You wouldn’t have to turn to the next chapter right away because each one ended on its own last note.

When I later read and then taught Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling for my children’s literature class, I was struck by how page-turning it was. When I reached the end of one chapter, I had to start the next. Of course, many mysteries are built similarly, but it took reading a children’s book to remind me of this. Her series was addicting, underscored when perfectly good adults would stand in line for up to a day to be the first to get her next book. If you’re a writer, wouldn’t you want people to stand in line for your book?

Thus, when I started my first crime book, Blood Drama, I wanted it to be page-turning. I’d learned a few things by that point. Here are some:

Write an outline. I never wrote outlines for short stories, but a novel needs it. You don’t want to go off on tangents, which take away from page-turning. The details of Aunt Bessie’s doll collection for ten pages may lose your reader. One thing I came to realize about outlines: I can imagine faster than I can write. When I think about what might go in a chapter, it plays out in my mind, and I can decide, “No, that’s not good enough” or “Yes, that’s great.” The best things become the briefest of notes.

Envision a reader. As you may sense with the above that part of the secret is to envision a reader. What will make him or her want to know what happens next? My friend Ehrich, an author, is great at this. He laughs when he knows he’s going to make his reader turn the page.

Write clearly and simply. I’m from the Ernest Hemingway school of writing. Clear, not flowery sentences tend to make the reading go faster. I’m not saying don’t write lyrically. If you study poetry, you can learn a lot about how to condense and offer imagery and lyricism while increasing clarity.

Pacing. The speed of your reader is hard to judge, and pacing is extremely hard to monitor in a first draft. My mantra is Ann Lamott’s in her fantastic book on writing, Bird by Bird: “Write a sh**y first draft.” In other words, don’t worry about perfection in your first draft. Jot the rudiments of the story down. Some people write long, and I tend to write short. That means you’ll have to expand or delete later on.

If you write five or more drafts as I do, you’ll feel the pacing. When you get bored, cut. If something later confuses you because the plot jumps, then you have to add something.

Emotion. Good books make us feel things. Part of page-turning is to make your reader feel the emotion in your scenes, which means your protagonist has to feel and express things. If I keep worrying about anything, it’s “What’s the next turn?” Turns are about going from one emotion to another, such as happy to surprised, or confused to clear. What action or realization will make that turn happen? Is it motivated?

Chapter endings. When I can, I do not end a chapter at an end point, but I end in the middle of a turn. There might be the sound of a footstep in the dark. Perhaps down the cheese aisle of a grocery store, a female hand snatches away a round of Gouda. Maybe lightning strikes, and there’s a scream. End of chapter.

You can have too many ideas beating around your head as you write. Just feel, know where your next turn is, and imagine what will surprise and delight your reader. Yes, there are many other things to consider, but not in a first draft. Write that first draft. Write a novel. Make it a page-turner.

Read an excerpt:


Under the hotel’s sheets, hands on his chest the way the dearly departed lay, Patton Burch blinked into the void of the ceiling, staring past it to the night before. He smiled. After drinking too much the previous evening, he had still remained the gentleman—except in his dreams where he’d made love to Chatterley. Should he feel guilty? Probably.

He turned. The other side of the bed was now empty. He’d slept so well, best in months, that he hadn’t heard her get up. The sound of the hotel’s shower, gentle as a rain, swept into the room. Chatterley’s clothes, which she’d slept in, lay as if hastily discarded on the floor. What if she was feeling better, amorous, even? He pictured her showering, comfortable in her body that men craned their necks for. The truth of the situation was that he was now sober, and she was young, vulnerable. The last thing she needed was an older guy taking advantage of her.

Patton lifted the sheets and saw his boxers were on. He didn’t remember getting out of his clothes. He did remember how Chatterley had trouble breathing last night, and between the drinking and another shot from her inhaler—a bronchial dilator, she called it—she’d been feeling sick again. She’d thought that strange. “I sometimes get shaky after using it,” she said. “It’s like having too much coffee, but I’ve never felt nauseous like this.” She wanted to close her eyes for a few minutes, so he’d offered his bed. “Thank you,” she said. “I just need to relax and catch my breath.”

That led to her falling deeply asleep on his bed. He let her be. He’d mixed himself another gin gimlet and watched a Star Trek rerun. Captain Picard was on a planet where he had a wife and family. He wasn’t a starship captain anymore but worked as an iron weaver, and no one believed him that there was a space vessel called the Enterprise. He came to love and accept his new family and let go of his past life.

After that, Patton had been too tired and dizzy to stay up. He remembered checking on Chatterley in the bedroom, hearing her breathe steadily and easily. He’d thought he’d just lie on the bed in his clothes, but here he was under the covers. He wasn’t used to drinking, but it was Vegas. Ah, the fantasy of it all: a woman like her in bed with him. But he had to let her go. He loved his wife—and he wasn’t like his father.

He could still smell grapefruit on the sheets. When he was a kid and even skinnier, for breakfast his mother would painstakingly cut each section of grapefruit halves for her family. Each pulpy chunk, cut from its heart wall, could easily be scooped up carousel fashion, one by one, and the sour sweet juice could be slurped. He loved that smell. In his dreams, there was something so pure and innocent about Chatterley’s small tight frame, naked and fruity, that their lovemaking seemed as fun as the first time he’d floated down a freshly snowed hill on a sled. In dreams, we get what we need.

Chatterley was showering now. Maybe he should step out and let her have some privacy. He sat bolt upright. Was his wife due in this morning? No. Maybe tomorrow. He held his chest, feeling the pounding of his heart. Calm down. Nothing had happened. As he thought about the situation more, it wasn’t as if he told Tess everything he did anyway. He’d snuck out to a few afternoon movies over the years and never mentioned them, and she certainly never asked. People could never be completely transparent to their mates.

The shower was completely steady sounding. He sat up, frowning. When someone’s in a shower, movement makes the sound vary. Wasn’t Chatterley in it? Patton turned his head toward the bathroom door. It was open. That’s why the sound was so loud. “Chatterley?” he said. No answer.

He swung his legs over the side and stood. They hadn’t closed the thick curtains against the daylight, so the western light, filtered by rare cloud cover, gave the beachscapes on the walls color. Outside, the gentle clay-colored hills far to the west looked flat. Considering that nothing green grew naturally in this area, Las Vegas was an unnatural place for a Lawn and Garden show, but this show was the biggest.

On her side of the bed on the floor, Chatterley’s purse was upside down with everything in it spread out, including a few coins, her friend Faith’s keychain, and a few panty shields. It was as if she had been desperate for something. Perhaps she’d merely kicked it accidentally. Then he saw her inhaler was in two parts: a small aerosol can and the blue plastic part that the can fit in. He picked up the can. It was empty. She must’ve been looking for another. Why hadn’t she awakened him to help?

He strode into the steamy bathroom. “Chatterley?”

The room had both a large whirlpool bathtub for two and a separate shower with a glass door. She wasn’t in either, though the shower was still on, pouring out steamy water. How could she leave it on? He turned it off, and the silence made her absence that much more profound. Did she step into the living room for a moment? Perhaps she’d put on a hotel robe and zipped to the pool. But without a suit? She could be topless in her panties, and the guests would love it. It was Vegas. She had beautiful breasts.

He could hear the air conditioner, a wide unit wedged into the wall near floor level in the living room, with its fan on high. As he moved toward the room, he was freezing with only his shorts on.

He stepped into the living room and saw her, near the Stratocaster, crouched naked on her knees before the long wide air conditioner. Her hands outstretched like a swimmer scooping the cool air. It looked erotic. “There you are,” he finally said, wondering about her intentions. He really couldn’t act on them. “Are you really that hot? Are you okay?”

She didn’t move. Was she asleep? Her head, between her arms, rested on the thick carpet. “Chatterley?” he said and kneeled down to her level. He touched her to wake her, and his first thought was she shouldn’t have been in front of the air conditioner so long because her skin felt downright cold. He shook her. “Chatterley.” She splayed onto her side. Her eyes were open. She didn’t appear to breathe. She stared skyward as if frozen in surprise.

Author Bio:

Christopher Meeks has four novels and two collections of short fiction published. His most recent novel before this was the acclaimed thriller, “Blood Drama.” His novel “The Brightest Moon of the Century” made the list of three book critics’ Ten Best Book of 2009. “Love at Absolute Zero” also made three Best Books lists of 2011, as well as earning a ForeWord Reviews Book of the Year Finalist award.

He has had stories published in several literary journals, and they have been included in the collections “Months and Seasons” and “The Middle-Aged Man and the Sea.” Mr. Meeks has had three full-length plays mounted in Los Angeles, and one, “Who Lives?” had been nominated for five Ovation Awards, Los Angeles’ top theatre prize.

Mr. Meeks teaches English and fiction writing at Santa Monica College, and Children’s Literature at the Art Center College of Design. To read more of his books visit his website at:

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