Interview with a Villain by Olive Balla

I’m happy to have Olive Balla back on my blog. Today’s article is entertaining and informative…

Interview with a Villain       

Grinning as if I’d just won something, which I never do, I push my office chair back from the desk and toss another ball of wadded paper toward the trash can. Whoosh, it falls through the opening without touching the sides. A good omen; one which cannot be ignored.

“Woo-hoo!” I pump my fist up and down. My pulse quickens, and I glance at my watch.

Today’s the day. In precisely six minutes, I will interview a murderer.

I couldn’t do such a thing on just any day, you understand. It must be a day filled with good omens, a day in which I feel physically energized and psychologically pumped.

A day like today.

In preparation for the interview, I drag a woven, cane-bottomed dining room chair into my office and situate it directly across from my seat. The straight, ladder back should prove uncomfortable enough to keep my guest off balance, thereby ensuring more spontaneous responses to my questions. The distance of five feet between chairs, give or take a few inches, will allow unimpeded eye contact.

I take a deep breath and blow it out through puckered lips then drop into my chair. With less than two minutes to go I peer at the screen of my laptop. My mouth goes dry as I consider the questions that seemed insightful minutes earlier but now appear insipid and pointless.

Do they zero in on the villain’s motivation like a professor’s laser pointer, or are they so ambiguous as to allow room for sloppy evasion? Are any of them redundant? Will they elicit responses that help my Readers to understand human nature while chilling their bones?

I chew my thumbnail and shoot a look toward the office door. A shadowy figure stands in the opening, backlit by the hallway light.

“You’re early,” I say.

“Insightful,” the murderer says. “Anything else, or is that it?”

“Thanks for showing up.” I point to the chair opposite me. “Have a seat.”

The villain saunters to the rattan chair. She stares down at it, snorts then grins and shakes her head. “Such an obvious ploy. Contrived. Best be careful or I’ll disappear before you have what you need.”

“Sorry.” I hold my hand up, palm out as if to stop a charging rhino. “Is there anything you’d like to tell me?”

“No, no, no.” My murderer moves her index finger back and forth imitating a clock’s pendulum. “That’s not how this works. While allowing me freedom of expression is important, it’s up to you to ask the right questions. Otherwise, you risk making me predictable, or worse, cliché. When I have something unexpected to say, as I most assuredly will if you do this right, I’ll jump in and it’ll be up to you to keep up.”

“Okay.” I take a deep breath.

For the next hour or so, I shoot questions at my murderer, furiously typing her responses into my laptop. I’ve just finished memorializing her umpteenth impromptu stream-of-consciousness monologue when she falls silent. I glance in her direction just as her shadowy form retreats through the office door.

“Thanks,” I call out.

Wordlessly, she waves an arm over her head then is gone.

My pulse pumps like race car pistons as I review the transcribed pages that will set the stage for my suspense novel.

“Not at all what I expected,” I murmur.

The fragrance of lilacs suddenly fills the room. I breathe deeply, sensing another presence.

“My turn,” says my Protagonist.

“So it is,” I say. “Please, have a seat.”

 

Thank you, Olive. Love this! It’s a great idea for writers to interview their villains, and main characters, before writing their stories. 

Now, here’s Olive’s latest release, chock full of villains…

 

Blurb:
Eleven-year-old Jillie Ross escapes the vicious relatives threatening to flush away her beloved sister’s ashes if she doesn’t lead them to her dead father’s rumored treasure.
Determined to find her sibling’s ashes and honor them along with their parents’ remains, the feisty orphan must endure harsh weather, escape a stalker, and hide from the police. But how long can she survive when at least one family member wants her dead?
Excerpt:

Jillie dropped the metal lid as if it were red hot..Her stomach heaved, and something sour shot up her throat. She pounded against the locked, unyielding door until the muscles in her arms cramped.  She  fell to her knees and clawed at the floor, ignoring the pain radiating up her arms from torn fingernails...   

The sound of approaching footsteps made the tiny hairs on the back of her neck move. She snatched up the broken shovel handle and stood behind the door. With her legs slightly bent, she gripped the pole with both hands as if it were a sword, aimed its broken, pointed end at the door and waited.  

Bio:
A retired educator, Olive Balla began writing in her sixties. Her first mystery/suspense novel, An Arm And A Leg, was published just after her sixty-fifth birthday, and her second, Jillie, was recently published. Ms. Balla is a mother of three, grandmother to eleven, and great grandmother of seven. When she isn’t writing, she can be found making sawdust in her wood shop near Albuquerque New Mexico.

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#HobbyCareerPassion: ONEY, MY ESCAPE FROM SLAVERY by Diana Rubino

Weekly Feature: Learn about the hobbies, careers, and passions of characters in fiction books. I’m pleased to introduce my first guest, author friend Diana Rubino…

ONEY, MY ESCAPE FROM SLAVERY by Diana Rubino

Ona Maria Judge, known as Oney, was Martha Washington’s house slave. With the help of free blacks, she escaped, never to be recaptured. Her passion can be summed up in one word: freedom.

“I am a mulatto, and light-skinned enough to pass for white. My father, Andrew Judge, was a white indentured servant who got his freedom when I was a child. My mother, Betty, was a seamstress, and another slave of the Washingtons.

“Whenever I saw free blacks, an anger churned in my heart. Why are they free and me not? It was not fair that I was a slave. Although as Mrs. Washington’s waiting made I was not subject to any hardships, I was still her property. No human being should be property. Slavery is evil, and the Washingtons, who never said the word ‘slave’, were two-faced. What galled me was that Mrs. Washington said she felt like a slave, confined to the house whilst Mr. Washington went on travels. When I saw no progress towards emancipation of slaves, it made me more determined to master my craft so I could be self-sufficient someday. I became an expert seamstress.

“I planned my escape with the help of free blacks. It took over a year to plan the right time and to make sure a ship was leaving to bring me to freedom. But I hastened my escape when Mrs. Washington told me I’d make a nice wedding gift to her granddaughter Eliza, I thought she meant I’d sew her a negligee or a quilt for a wedding gift. But, no, she meant I’d be the gift.

“I swore whatever wedding gifts she gave to Miz Eliza, one of them would not be I.

“Whilst they were packing up to go to Virginia, I was packing to go, I didn’t know where; for I knew that if I went back to Virginia, I should never get my liberty. I had friends among the colored people of Philadelphia, had my things carried there beforehand, and on May 21, 1796, as the Washingtons ate dinner, I walked straight past them and out the front door. When I shut it, I left them—and my forced bondage— behind me.

“They knew I went to Portsmouth, New Hampshire and tried to get me captured a few times, but gave up. I am free now and choose to remain so.”

Blurb:

ONEY: My Escape From Slavery is a painstakingly re-imagined account of a true and painful story told generations on. At its heart is the paradox of liberty – for an individual, for a race, for a nation. In a modern world where cultures and histories collide, it is a timely reminder of perspectives on ‘slavery’ and ‘freedom’ that we may have become blind to. It is a big, strong, uplifting book with a soul.

Excerpt:

The hour finally came—while they ate dinner.

Nothing heavied my heart—not remorse, not guilt, not sadness upon fleeing my master and mistress. Raw thirst for freedom overcame all that. I walked straight past the Washingtons and out that door. When I shut it, I left them—and my forced bondage— behind me.

I tore through the muddy streets in pouring rain. Gasping for breath, soaked to the skin, my heart slamming in terror, I glanced behind me, again and again. No one pursued me—yet. I dreaded and expected pounding footsteps, a clap on my shoulder. But, I asked myself, who would chase me through the driving rain? No, it is not possible, I affirmed—they didn’t even know I’d left the kitchen.

At the Jones house I slowed and caught my breath. When Absalom opened the door, I staggered inside, laughing, sobbing, gulping for dear life.

I spent the night pacing the attic room, hands clasped. “I beg of you, dear God, walk beside me on this journey. See me through this safe. Don’t let them capture me. I only want to be your servant, no one else’s.”

As daybreak nudged away the darkness, I fell to my knees, weary with fatigue. “Thank you, dear God, for ending my final night of bondage.”

Mary forced a hoe cake down me and hugged me goodbye. Clinging to her, I poured my heart out. “I’m still a-scared, Mary, no matter what courage I got, I’m still a-scared.” I loved Mary so, but wished I’d been hugging Mamma right now.

“I know you are, dear, but you’ve got protection. And your freedom is worth a bit of fear.”

Purchase ONEY from Amazon: getbook.at/OneyJudge

About Diana

Diana’s favorite eras are Medieval and Renaissance England and all American history. A longtime member of Romance Writers of America, the Richard III Society, and the Aaron Burr Association, she recently completed a romantic thriller about Alexander Hamilton and biographical novels about Eliza Jumel Burr  and Nathaniel Hawthorne’s wife Sophia.

Connect:

www.dianarubino.com

https://www.facebook.com/DianaRubinoAuthor/

Twitter: @DianaLRubino

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Author Interview with Jayne York ~ New Release: If Wishes Were Horses

Please help me welcome today’s guest, Jayne York…

Good morning, Jayne. Thank you for joining me today.

Do you have another occupation, other than writer? If so, what is it and do you like it?

I’m a professional jeweler specializing in custom design and manufacturing. Writing is my second career, and just like my first, it fills all those gaping holes yearning for productive creativity.

What’s the main thing that you could get rid of in your life that would give you more writing time?

Distraction, I’m easily led astray.

What do you want readers to come away with after they read If Wishes Were Horses?

This is a story of lessons learned and the strength they bring. My main characters are both at turning points in their lives. How they handle the changes and the challenges is the crux of the story.

What actors would you like in the main roles if your book were made into a movie?

Debra Messing and Hugh Jackman.

Have you written any other books that are not published?

My WIP is a fast-paced heist enmeshed in a love story. Tentatively titled, “Midnight Acquisition”, I hope it will be out this time next year. After that, maybe a sequel to “If Wishes Were Horses.”

What is the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?

I was advised to put the MS under the bed and move on. But I believed in the story and kept at it until I had it the way I wanted it. The message there—trust your gut and listen to people with experience and a keen eye. The flip side compliment—another author called me a “Unicorn” because not only is this my first book, but my first pitch and was picked up by the first publisher I queried. Incredible luck all around, I know. Hope it holds going forward.

How did you come up with the title?

It was something my mother used to say to me all the time. Usually when I was whining about not having what I wanted.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

If I had to put a finger on the message; Remember to forgive yourself for doing the best you could when you fail. Life is a long road, and it’s full of potholes. So try to stay out of the weedy ditches.

 

BLURB:
Emily Converse never expected to return to Tamarack, Colorado. But she’s determined to rescue her drug-addicted brother and start a new life. Standing in her way, she finds her stepfather, a powerful US senator, looming over her future like the ever-present monster he’d been during their childhood. Meeting wounded retired Navy SEAL, Michael McCandlis, is a steamy surprise in her homecoming, though he’s adrift in civilian life. Together can they find a way to transform from victims to survivors?

EXCERPT:
Once upon a time, she’d run away from Tamarack like her heels were on fire, and now here she was volunteering to step back into the furnace. What was the definition of insanity? Doing the same things over and over, expecting a different outcome. Like if she managed to change, be stronger, be smarter, things would turn out better—different. It wouldn’t be that simple. She downshifted the Jeep to slow for the last of the S-shaped turns on the narrow ribbon of asphalt. The road led her past the pretentious granite columns that marked her stepfather’s compound. She wasn’t consciously holding her breath, but a trickle of fear dribbled down her spine just the same. Her molars ground together in determination. The past wouldn’t decide her present, not ever again. In spite of herself, images of her last day on his estate flashed through her mind like the herky-jerky frames of a child’s flip deck animation. Fear sharpened every visual, clarified every word, enhanced every touch. She’d run down the steps, racing for her car. He’d charged after her, smelling of alcohol and fury when he tried to stop her headlong rush toward an unknown future. They’d screamed out their mutual hatred, all the bitter dregs of their time together. She smirked when she remembered getting in the lucky shove that had landed him in a heap on the ground. It had been her first glimpse that Senator Ray Domenico was not the invincible, all-powerful monster she’d known him to be.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
I’ve been an avid reader and sometime writer all of my life. I’ve never been able to resist the draw of a good story, and that has been true in my professional life as well. I was raised as the third of three children in the Colorado high country. Early on I discovered the joy of creating handcrafted jewelry, which led to a forty-five-year career as a professional jeweler. Every customer, every piece has its own story. I’ve collected them like pearls in a strand, and I often use them as a jumping-off point for the tales I tell. If you’re looking for me, you’ll find me on the shores of a northern lake, hammering away on my latest story of love and life in the modern world. ~*~ Find Jayne online at: http://www.JayneYork.com

Website: JayneYork.com

Blog: JayneYork.com/What’sOnMyMind/

Email: Jayne@JayneYork.com

Twitter: @JayneYorkAuthor

Facebook: JayneYorkAuthor

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November Featured Books – Find New & Amazing Authors!!!

Looking for something new and fabulous to read? Try these…

 

 

In the two years since his beloved wife died, rancher Chad Rutherford has done the best for his family. But with his sister leaving the family ranch to get married, he needs to find someone to keep house and tend his kids so he places an ad for a mail-order bride.
Left on her own by her brother’s murder, spinster Vika Carmichael must find a way to life. An ad for a mail-order bride from a widower with small children seems like the perfect fit. Until she arrives in Gunnison City, Colorado, and wonders if room for her exists in their hearts.
Will two proud individuals find a way to work together, or will their marriage vow be broken by Christmas?

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Cassie O’Dey arrives in Virtue, Florida searching for information about Becca, the mother who abandoned her. While staying at the same bed and breakfast where Becca last stayed, Cassie encounters a familiar ghost.
Walker Thayner, a widower, has returned to Virtue to work on restoring the bed and breakfast his family has owned for generations. Hoping to find solace in his work, Walker has shut himself off emotionally. Despite his sullen demeanor Cassie finds herself drawn to him.
Even as hopes of a future in Virtue fill her heart, Cassie finds her thoughts drawn to the dark past of this small Florida town. Can she solve a murder that took place a quarter of a century in the past and put the ghost of Becca O’Dey to rest?

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When Professor Michael Peterson learns he has a terminal brain tumor and is faced with no other viable options, he promises complete confidentially to undergo an experimental and highly secretive operation in brain cell grafting.

While recuperating, he begins to have flashes of fragmented images that have no connection to his life. He soon realizes he is an unwilling participant in a murder plan initiated by his donor.

Drawn into a maze of deceit and danger, Michael must choose between keeping his word to the person who saved his life or making an attempt to save the life of a complete stranger.

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Rachel Mann’s reclusive life is thrown into disarray by the discovery of a young woman’s dead body in her field. She is forced to call Sheriff Seth Talbot for help. They both want to discover why the body was dumped on her property, but Rachel has insider information she is reluctant to share.

Seth is curious about why a young, attractive woman like Rachel would hide away from the world. What is she hiding? When a second body is found, he is forced to call in the FBI. As Rachel’s secret history is stripped away, exposing her tragic past, they struggle to find a way to protect the citizens of the county and their future together.

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Eleven-year-old Jillie Ross escapes the vicious relatives threatening to flush away her beloved sister’s ashes if she doesn’t lead them to her dead father’s rumored treasure.
Determined to find her sibling’s ashes and honor them along with their parents’ remains, the feisty orphan must endure harsh weather, escape a stalker, and hide from the police. But how long can she survive when at least one family member wants her dead?

******************************************

Sam Preston can’t believe his good fortune when he meets the mysterious Mariah who crashes his birthday party at his New York City hotel. Their attraction is immediate. He can’t wait to discover more about her after their passionate night together. He never gets the chance. She disappears before he wakes up, laying a false trail that leaves him frustrated. Mariah Stone and Sam have a past of which he isn’t aware. As children, they were friends until an unspeakable tragedy tore them apart. One night should have been enough to prove she had exaggerated their connection due to a childhood crush, but her plan backfired. Her mistake means now they will have to fight to understand how the past and present will influence their future.

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Crystal Rainey is aghast when she realizes her new year’s resolutions haven’t changed one whit from the previous year. Wanting to escape a future as dreary as a Pacific Northwest winter, she walks out on her dead-end office job, despite her tenuous savings account.
Stumbling across a job opening posted by a wilderness guide outfit, an intrigued Crystal bluffs her way into the position. With handsome fellow guide, the stalwart Conner Oakes, she leads a corporate retreat on a snowshoe hike to a majestic alpine chalet.
But when the company’s detestable owner turns up dead in the snow, she fears her new life and budding romance slipping away. She finally has something worth fighting for and is determined to solve the murder and grab her chance at happiness before it’s too late.
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PRE-ORDER for 99 cents – Regular Price $2.99

Boston ~ 1947

Iris Taggart should be ecstatic. She’s engaged to one of the wealthiest men in Boston, and he dotes on her. But, her marrying a rich man is her mother’s dream, not hers. Iris longs to be a nurse and care for others, and she’ll never have the career she wants if she marries a Boston Blue Blood. It just isn’t done.

Dante Morello returned from WWII a war hero, and now he’s a Boston detective working the South End Slayer case where a deranged killer is butchering the poor and homeless. Dante’s investigation leads him to reconnect with Iris—a girl he’s known most of his life—who is volunteering at the soup kitchen where the murderer finds his victims. When Dante learns Iris is in the killer’s sites, he’ll do whatever it takes to protect her, and not just because she’s woken something in his heart he thought he’d never feel.

But neither of them is prepared for how precarious life can be. When secrets are exposed, and a madman’s full intent is revealed, will their love…and their lives…be destroyed?

******************************************

Twice-widowed Jane Marsh ties the knot for the third time with longstanding fiancé Dale Capricorn. Jane’s ready for a celebratory reception at her uber-trendy condo in downtown Denver with champagne toasts, fancy dress, and her family and dinner club friends. Everyone knows she and Dale’s prettier and younger ex-wife Polly are “frenemies,” but Jane starts fresh and asks Polly to cater the event. However, after the last guest leaves, Jane discovers the ex-wife dead—and Jane’s the obvious suspect. If Jane doesn’t find the real killer, her third marriage certainly won’t be the charm.

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Petra Steele is wallowing in self-pity after being dumped at the altar, when her brother Nick invites her to come to the Peruvian Amazon. Before she even sets her suitcase down, she’s confronted with a murder victim. In a research station peopled with a quirky assortment of scientists, she is drawn to Emory Andrews, a big, gruff man with a secret past. That is, until his beautiful ex-wife shows up. More murders, more secrets, more mysteries ensue, all in the deeply romantic, sizzling jungle.

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A Creole beauty. Eccentric sisters and a black rose. One granny woman and a red button. Church suppers and bingo nights. A poet out of his element. Dreams of Mexico. The shadowy world of thoroughbred horse racing. If the Creek Don’t Rise is a collection of hard-used characters, tangled relationships, family angst, and fortitude. Step into the Deep South and experience the lives and hardships, hopes and dreams, of folk who have nothing except grit—and sometimes love—as their currency.

Eighteen tales and six postcard vignettes, highlighted with artwork by Susan Raymond, make this collection a skillful and moving exploration of the commonplace, the hidden, and the unforgettable.

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President’s Award for Best Published Book, 2014, Awarded by the Ozarks Writers League
Washed in the Water: Tales from the South offers vignettes of folks living the best they know how as they reach out for redemption. Set between 1950 and 1980, each tale stares at an individual as unique as the humid landscape of the South. Hard lives, daily survival, and lessons about getting on with the business of living reverberate among the characters.

“. . . compelling, wide-ranging stories. Hartney brings to mind both Caldwell and Allison, but her voice at last is her own. ‘Last Love’ is both gritty and warm, and ‘The Fig Trees’ is deftly nuanced.”
~ Robert Cochran, Center for Arkansas and Regional Studies, University of Arkansas

“This brief collection of stories deals with such diverse experiences as a river baptism and coon hunting while it embraces emotions of love, jealousy, and altruism. The seven southern tales contain some real gems.”
~ Pat Carr, author of One Page at a Time and The Radiance of Fossils

“No better voice of the south can be found than Nancy Hartney, with her touching stories of life looked at in a most extraordinary way. Hartney writes about people we can love or despise, but most of all sympathize with and enjoy.”
~ WILLA Award-winning author Velda Brotherton

 

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#TuesdayTestDay with Alicia Dean ~ Win a $5 Amazon Gift Card!!

 

Welcome to Tuesday Test Day! Each Tuesday, I share a snippet from one of my stories, along with three options. To enter, guess which of the three options the snippet is from.

Post your answer in the comments before Sunday evening at 5 p.m. CT. (You may respond here or on my Facebook page). Each Monday, I will randomly draw a name from all the correct answers and that person will win a $5 Amazon Gift Card. Winners will be announced in the next Tuesday Test Day post.

Last week’s winner is…

Jude Anita

Congratulations!! Please email me at Alicia@AliciaDean.com and I will send your $5 gift card. Thank you for playing!

(The correct answer was Liberty Awakened)

Which of the below stories is this snippet from?

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Jade’s voice wrapped around Luke in the semi darkness, sending a shiver up his spine. He didn’t recall that husky quality when he’d heard her speak before and wondered if it was due to her injury.

Her hair in the dim light of the kitchen reminded him of warm honey. Hazel in the light, her eyes now took on a deep green tint, like a jungle cat…a beautiful cat, trapped and forced into captivity.

He looked at her hands wrapped around the coffee cup and thought about how soft and fragile they’d felt when he’d held them in the hospital. He had an absurd urge to touch them once again, to slide his arms around her and hold her body against his.

Damn, where had that come from? He couldn’t afford to think about this woman like that. Couldn’t afford the luxury of desiring her, of wondering what her skin would taste like, what it would feel like to kiss her.

Her voice startled him out of his treacherous reverie. “I still don’t understand why he saved my life.”

He cringed inwardly, knowing she was talking about Smith, about him. “Could be several reasons. Maybe he wanted to keep you alive. Use you for leverage in case they got in a tight spot.”

She leaned her elbows on the table and pillowed her head in her hands. “God, it’s all so crazy. So confusing.”

He didn’t like her asking questions about El Lobo. It was important he not expose his undercover role. He might have to use it again one day. It could also possibly jeopardize the undercover agents still out in the field.

He should have known she would ask. He had hoped that the trauma of her injury would keep her from remembering but obviously, that hadn’t happened.

Jade rose from the table and moved to the window. She sipped her tea and peered outside. “It’s so quiet out here. And so dark.” She turned back to him. “How many agents did you say would be here at all times?”

“No less than four.”

“Will you be one of them?”

“Most of the time.”

Moving back to the table she sat down, a haunted look in her eyes. “How am I going to live with all this guilt?”

“What do you feel guilty about?”

“Allowing Bryce to do what he did. To hurt those poor girls.”

“It’s not your fault. My partner, Delia, helped the girls escape. I don’t think any of them were actually hurt.”

“What about the other times? I’m sure he’s done this before. How many other girls were there? Do you have any idea?”

Luke took his time replying, then reluctantly admitted, “I’m afraid we don’t. But, our government has contacted the Mexican government and they’re being very cooperative. They’ve agreed to let us send agents over there to investigate and have offered assistance in helping to locate any girls that may have been victims in the past. Or as many of them as possible.”

“Good,” Jade said quietly. Then she gave him a look of sympathy. “Delia? She was the woman Bryce murdered? She was your partner?”

Grief weighted his chest like a block of cement, but he kept his voice even. “Yes. We’re fairly certain your husband is responsible for her death.”

“You must hate me.” Her eyes shimmered with tears and self-loathing.

“You had nothing to do with it.”

“I should’ve stopped him.”

An image of DiMarco holding the blade to Jade’s neck flashed in his mind. He recalled the helplessness and the rage he’d felt as she slid to the floor, blood pouring from the wound. He gave himself a mental shake, wondering why the sight of her near death had affected him so profoundly when he’d seen more than his share of murder victims. Dragging in a breath, he said, “You did try and you almost died. Everyone did the best they could.” He didn’t acknowledge his role in Delia’s death. The fact that she wouldn’t have been out there, chasing the lead, if it hadn’t been for him.

She gave a brief nod, but her eyes were still haunted. “I’m just sorry it wasn’t enough for your partner.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*

~*~*~*~*~* ~*

~*~*~*~*~*~*

Good luck!

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OKRWA-IDA 2019 Ebook Winners!

Congratulations to Oklahoma Romance Writers of America’s IDA (International Digital Awards) ~~2019 Winners~~

#okrwaIDAWinner2019

 

Contemporary Novel

Christmas & Cannolis by Peggy Jaeger

 

Contemporary Short

Hot Spell by Mia London and Susan Sheehey

Erotic Novel

Highland Dom by Marie Tuhart

 

Erotic Short

Saddle Up by Roz Lee

Historical Novel

A Hand for the Duke by Meredith Bond

 

Historical Short

Red River Crossing by Maxine Douglas

Inspirational Novel

A Time to Push Daisies by Marion Ueckermann

Inspirational Short

Spider Gap by Kristen Joy Wilks

Paranormal Novel

Fae Touched by Lisa Rae Roman

Paranormal Short

Ghosts of Grace Cottage by Carolyn Wren

Suspense Novel

Zero Trace by Cara Carnes

Suspense Short

Cupcakes and Corpses by Polly Holmes

Young Adult Novel

Soul Catchers by Carrie Pulkinen

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Author Interview with ML Erdahl ~ New Release: Winter Takes All

I am very pleased to host today’s guest. I had the pleasure of editing this fabulous book, and of meeting the author face to face at a conference in Seattle. He’s funny and personable and very talented. Please help me welcome ML Erdahl.

 

Please tell us a little about yourself, where are you from? Where do you live now? Family? Pets?

My family were early homesteaders of Gig Harbor, WA.  They witnessed the city go from dirt roads and pristine forests, to the medium sized city that it is today.  I grew up there and attended college at the University of Washington in Seattle. Today, I live in Renton with my wife and a houseful of neurotic rescue pets.

Where did you get the idea for Winter Takes All?

 My writing story for Winter Takes All began with a genre swap suggested by my wife. Her favorite fiction genres are Mysteries and Thrillers, while mine is Fantasy.  She gave me Nevada Barr, Janet Evanovich, and Mary Daheim novels to read, and I gave her Robert Jordan. I loved the stories I was given, which were so different from the long epic adventures I was used to. I enjoyed the wit of the genre, as well as the concept of a ordinary person being forced out of their comfort zone to the point where they find themselves investigating a crime.

During the long bus rides to-and-fro work, I must have been inspired, because an idea for a cozy mystery percolated in my head. I began writing it down over the next year. After I’d finished my book, I read it back.  I’m not going to lie, it was pretty mediocre, but I could see the elements of a great story.  I began to study how to write fiction, and applying what I’d learned, re-wrote the entire book to its present incarnation.

The moral of this particular story for aspiring writers is to learn how to write, and then begin writing. I still believe that the best learning tool is to practice, but having an idea where you’re going will help you get there faster. Trust me on this.

Do you have another occupation, other than writer? If so, what is it and do you like it?

By day, I’m an environmental chemist. My company specializes in analyzing fuel spills. We’ve received samples from the Exxon Valdez to the Deepwater Horizon gulf spill. It’s a satisfying job in that I know I leave the world a cleaner place with my work.

What do you dislike that most people wouldn’t understand?

Being from the Pacific Northwest and of Norwegian descent, you’d think I’d like seafood, but I can’t stand the stuff.  Whenever I eat it, my wife accuses me of “making the face.”

What was your first job?

Mowing lawns.  I still like yard work, but I remember one old lady’s yard I mowed had so very many snakes. Harmless garter snakes, but they still gave me the heebie-jeebies.

What’s your favorite book of all time and why? What’s your favorite childhood book?

A favorite book is a tough one since I love two genres, cozy mystery and fantasy. Therefore I’m going to cheat and pick two, Janet Evanovich’s “One for the Money”, and Brandon Sanderson’s “Mistborn”. Both of those authors know how to write the most memorable characters.  My favorite childhood book was Shel Silverstein’s delightful poetry in “Where the Sidewalk Ends”.

What do you want readers to come away with after they read Winter Takes All?

I want people to read my novel and feel like they escaped on a wild ride. I want a reader to turn the last page and immediately download my next book to continue the adventure.

What genre have you never written that you’d like to write?

Someday I’d like to take a crack at my other favorite genre, Fantasy. All of the advice to authors is to stay in your lane and not switch genres, because you’ll lose your audience. However, I don’t think I want to let life pass me by without taking a shot at it.

Are your characters based off real people or did they all come entirely from your imagination?

For the most part, they are made up, but after I was done writing, I discovered my brain had also frankensteined bits and pieces of various people in my life. I recognized different attributes of friends and family in my characters.

What do your friends and family think of your writing?

They are my biggest cheerleaders.  My wife spends hours every day either helping me directly or doing more around the house to give me more time to write.  Furthermore, many of my family and friends were my beta-readers, who took time to not only read the earlier drafts, but give me valuable feedback. I couldn’t ask for a better support system.

How did your interest in writing originate?

In middle school, our English teacher had us free write for an hour once a week and I was hooked. After moving on from that grade, I continued writing short stories to amuse myself and my friends. However, it wasn’t until the last few years that I began to take writing seriously.  Reading books on writing from KM Weiland, Jane Friedman, and Stephen King has shown me how much effort needs to go into each and every sentence to make a compelling story. Instead of being intimidating, it has inspired me.

Your favorite…

Movie Shawshank Redemption

Music Eclectic

Place you’ve visited Venice

Place you’d like to visit Greece

TV show from childhood Night Court

TV show from adulthood Game of Thrones

Food Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese

Sports team Seahawks

Which do you prefer: Board games/card games or television? Board Games/Card games

Great interview, it was fun getting to know more about you, ML. Now, please tell us about your book…

 

Blurb:

Crystal Rainey is aghast when she realizes her new year’s resolutions haven’t changed one whit from the previous year. Wanting to escape a future as dreary as a Pacific Northwest winter, she walks out on her dead-end office job, despite her tenuous savings account.

Stumbling across a job opening posted by a wilderness guide outfit, an intrigued Crystal bluffs her way into the position. With handsome fellow guide, the stalwart Conner Oakes, she leads a corporate retreat on a snowshoe hike to a majestic alpine chalet.

But when the company’s detestable owner turns up dead in the snow, she fears her new life and budding romance slipping away. She finally has something worth fighting for and is determined to solve the murder and grab her chance at happiness before it’s too late.

Excerpt:

Not the most auspicious start to my guiding career, Crystal admitted to herself.

Conner sat back down, took a grateful swig of the coffee and sighed. “This could have gone better,” he said stating the obvious.

“What happens next?” Crystal asked.

“We wait until dawn, see if he turns up, and escort everyone out of here. Hopefully, Philip is waiting for us at the lodge, and we can drive this whole miserable lot back to the city a day early. In the meantime, I suggest we follow everyone’s lead and try to get a little shuteye.”

Conner’s radio crackled with Sam’s voice, “We’ve found the missing man from your group, Conner. He’s at the bottom of a cliff. I’m sorry to say this search and rescue operation has become a search and recover.”

Conner paled at the news.

“What does ‘search and recover’ mean?” Crystal asked.

“It means he’s dead.”

*************************

Buy Links:

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Apple Books

Biography:

ML Erdahl lives amidst the trees of the Pacific Northwest, where he pens humorous cozy mystery novels set in the wilderness he has spent his lifetime exploring. The only thing slowing him down is when his adorable rescue dogs, Skip and Daisy, demand to be petted and cuddled on his lap while he types. When he’s not wandering the mountains, you can find him gardening, reading, or searching for the best coffee in Seattle with his wife, Emily.

Social Media Links:

Website

Facebook

Instagram

Twitter

Goodreads

Bookbub

Pinterest

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M. S. Spencer is in the Spotlight with Orion’s Foot: Myth, Mystery, and Romance in the Amazon

Please help me welcome today’s guest, Wild Rose Press Author, M. S. Spencer….

 

A monster, a murderer, and a mystery lurk deep in the Amazon.

Thank you for having me today, Alicia! I’d like to tell your readers something of the inspiration for my new mystery romance Orion’s Foot.

My son had gone to Peru during his junior year in college, and I was lamenting the fact that I didn’t get to travel much anymore when a friend remarked, “Well, why don’t you go visit him?” Aha. I said. I shall set forth. So I hopped a plane and eleven hours later he met me at the Lima airport. Just like Petra Steele, my heroine in Orion’s Foot, we had a whirlwind tour of Lima, the capital city, a flight to Iquitos, a city set in the midst of winding waterways and dense jungle, and a boat ride deeper into that jungle.

Like Petra, I was greeted by a menagerie of exotic creatures, including capybaras, tapirs, pink dolphins, and monkeys—hundreds of monkeys! It was a great adventure. A lot of it is described in Orion’s Foot.

 

Blurb:

Petra Steele is wallowing in self-pity after being dumped at the altar, when her brother Nick invites her to come to the Peruvian Amazon. Before she even sets her suitcase down, she’s confronted with a murder victim. In a research station peopled with a quirky assortment of scientists, she is drawn to Emory Andrews, a gruff, big man with a secret past. That is, until his beautiful ex-wife shows up. More murders, more secrets, more mysteries ensue, all in the deeply romantic, sizzling jungle.

Excerpt: The Police Are Coming

“The police!” John glowered at Hector. “Did you call them?”

“No! You said not to. I don’t know what they’re doing here.”

“How close are they?”

“Still half an hour away. My cousin Luis told me they’re coming from the police substation in Nauta.” He faltered. “I…uh…I did send for Don César.”

“Don César?” Aguirre seemed confused. “Who’s he?”

“He’s the local shaman.”

“What!”

“What do we need him for?”

No one seemed happy at this news except Petra, who felt her interest piqued. A shaman! A real native witch doctor…Will he be naked? Or wear a necklace of shrunken heads? Visions of scalp locks and tattoos swirling in her head, she barely heard Nick.

“Perhaps he’ll be able to tell us what caused Lewis’s death.”

Aguirre laughed unpleasantly. “Great, he can chant and burn smelly plants. Maybe dance around the corpse jiggling shrunken heads on a stick.”

Aha, see? It’s not just me. She regarded Aguirre with approval.

Hector coughed. “Our shamans train in the arts of healing for many years. They know the flora and fauna of the rainforest better than anyone alive. Don César is a banco ayahuasquero—a master shaman. He is very skilled.” His mouth set in a prim line. “We here in Peru do not shrink heads. At least, not anymore.”

Ulp.

Aguirre said something under his breath.

Alex piped up. “What about the body? Should we leave it on the bed? Hide it from the police?” He looked toward John.

Emory wrinkled his nose. “He’s already been exposed to the air far too long.” He glanced at Petra. “The police will only have to follow the aroma to discover him.”

John jumped up. “It doesn’t matter. Let’s hide it, at least until we hear what they want.”

Nick ventured, “We could put him in the lab refrigerator.”

Emory nodded, but the others chorused a loud “No!”

Aguirre whined, “I have specimens in there. There’s one flower I think may be a new variety of bromeliad.”

Alex added anxiously, “And I have two caiman eggs cooling. They were almost ready to hatch. I want to see if lowering the temperature at this juncture in the incubation period will have an effect on the sex.”

“And what about my bottle of Stolichnaya?” This last question probably did not have the effect John anticipated. “What? I was going to share it during the celebration.”

Petra surprised everyone by asking, “Celebration? What celebration?”

Aguirre glared at Nick. “I can’t believe you brought her here.”

“I told you—”

Hector interrupted. “Excuse me, but what shall we do about the police? The shaman cannot come until tomorrow.”

Emory rapped the table. “Here’s a crazy idea. We tell them the truth.”

The sound of a motorboat pulling into the pier brought them to their feet.

 

 Orion’s Foot: Myth, Mystery, and Romance in the Amazon

M. S. Spencer

Wild Rose Press, October 30, 2019

First Crimson Rose Edition, 2019

442 pp; 101,601 words

Rating: Spicy (PG13)

Buy Links:

Wild Rose Press

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

ITunes

KOBO

Google Play

Indigo

Indie-bound

About the Author:

Although M. S. Spencer has lived or traveled in five of the seven continents, the last thirty years were spent mostly in Washington, D.C. as a librarian, speechwriter, literary editor, professional staff at a U. S. Senate committee and at the Dept. of the Interior, non-profit director, and parent. She holds a BA from Vassar College, a diploma in Arabic Studies from the American University in Cairo, and Masters in Anthropology and in Library Science from the University of Chicago.  All of this tends to insinuate itself into her works.

Ms. Spencer has published thirteen romantic suspense or murder mystery novels, with two more on the way. She has two fabulous grown children and an incredible granddaughter. She divides her time between the Gulf Coast of Florida and a tiny village in Maine.

Social Media Links:

Blog: https://msspencertalespinner.blogspot.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/msspencerromance

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/msspencerauthor

GoodReads: http://www.goodreads.com/msspencer
Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/msspencerauthor/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/msspencerauthor/

Linked in: www.linkedin.com/in/msspencerauthor

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/m-s-spencer

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Winner…winner… Congrats, Mary Preston!!

I am a few days late, but the winner of the $50 Gift Card for the A World of Gothic Giveaway is Mary Preston!! Please email me at Alicia@AliciaDean.com to collect your gift card. Congratulations!

Thank you to all who participated. I hope you had a Happy Halloween and if you purchased any of the books, I hope you enjoy them.

If you didn’t grab them while they were 99 cents,  I think most of them are still on sale, so it’s not too late. You can find all the links here:

Facebook Post

 

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#TuesdayTestDay with Alicia Dean ~ Win a $5 Amazon Gift Card!!

 

Welcome to Tuesday Test Day! Each Tuesday, I share a snippet from one of my stories, along with three options. To enter, guess which of the three options the snippet is from.

Post your answer in the comments before Sunday evening at 5 p.m. CT. (You may respond here or on my Facebook page). Each Monday, I will randomly draw a name from all the correct answers and that person will win a $5 Amazon Gift Card. Winners will be announced in the next Tuesday Test Day post.

Last week’s winner is…

Sue A.

Congratulations, Sue!! Please email me at Alicia@AliciaDean.com and I will send your $5 gift card. Thank you for playing!

(The correct answer was Smashing Pumpkins from Love Breaks)

Which of the below stories is this snippet from?

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She braced her hands on the door, intending to step back. Before she could, Eli lifted his head and whipped it toward her. He couldn’t have heard her, could he? She’d barely made a sound. Maybe he just sensed—

Her thoughts ceased when she took a closer look at Eli’s face. He stood in place, breathing heavily. She narrowed her eyes. God. No.

His features were somehow distorted, his skin had a gray cast and looked… crumpled. His eyes glowed red. Something dark and liquid—blood?—was smeared around his mouth, dripped off his… fangs?

“No!” She let out the cry before she could stop herself, then clamped a hand over her mouth.

Backing from the door, she shook her head violently from side to side. It couldn’t be. No way. She had to have imagined it.

A sound at the door told her Eli was coming out. She turned and fled. Her tennis shoes slapped the ground, the noise reverberating in her ears along with the word—vampire… vampire… vampire. Oh my God. Vampire… Bats… Drained

A hand landed on her arm. She screamed and stumbled, nearly falling to the ground. Eli pulled her up and whirled her around to face him.

“Let me go!” Terror strangled her vocal cords. She jerked at his hold, but couldn’t budge him. His face was back to normal except for the red eyes. Trembles shook her body.

“Calm down,” he said, so softly she almost didn’t hear him.

He wiped blood from his mouth. Blood. Oh God.

Nausea surfaced in her throat. She clutched her stomach, afraid she was going to throw up.

“Don’t touch me.” Her voice came out hoarse from her raw throat. She jerked her arm again, and this time he released her.

He held his hands out. “Liberty. Let me explain—”

“Explain what? That you’re a—a vampire?” She wrapped her arms around her body and backed away. “How is that even possible?”

Eli squeezed his eyes shut. When he opened them, the red was gone, and they glinted their usual silvery blue. The moonlight reflecting in them made them look like Christmas tinsel.

“It is what it is, sweetheart.” A muscle ticked in his clenched jaw. “I’m a vampire.”

He took a step toward her, and she took a step back. “Stay away from me.”

He shrugged. “You’re the one who came to my house in the middle of the night.” He was still moving slowly toward her. His eyes roamed over her body. “I can only guess why. ” His voice was low, hypnotic. He jerked his head toward his house. “I can send her packing if you’d like.”

“She—she’s not dead?”

His mouth curved in a slow smile. “Did she look dead? I assure you, a killing was not what you interrupted.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*

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Have fun!

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