Tag Archives: Mystery

March Featured Books – Find New & Amazing Authors!!! #BookWorm

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

Beth Leighton moved to Scotland to marry the love of her life. But then he betrays her and she is fatally shot. However the Archangel Remiel interferes, and she awakes to find herself in 18th century England. Alive but confused and lost, she wants to go home. Despite a roguish and handsome highwayman.

Christopher “Kit” Locke is haunted by his past mistakes and lives on danger’s edge, not caring if he lives or dies. He will leave that choice to Fate. Intrigued by the spirited Beth, he is drawn from his spiraling descent and is enlisted to help steal an evil artifact, the Viper’s Eye, a demonic soul-stealing jewel.

While the Archangel and the Duke of Hell battle it out, both Beth and Kit must also fight evil. When the stone seeks Kit’s soul can Beth’s love keep him from falling victim to the Viper’s Eye or will she lose Kit to Hell’s fire?

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Caryn Orlane has law enforcement in her blood; her father was a cop, and his father, too. She’s a federal agent in northwest Montana, protecting the old forests and keeping the peace.
Levi Bradshaw also believes in protecting the forests, but has a very different MO. He’s the leader of a group of eco-warriors, determined to save the trees of the Bitterroot by legal—and illegal—means.
When they meet in the woods at gunpoint, their encounter ignites a spark of interest, despite operating on opposite sides of the law. When their worlds turn on them, they only grow closer. If they don’t work together, can either survive?

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After one concussion too many, Ben Leit is done as the NFL’s golden boy quarterback. Then his father, who was about to expose a bombshell sports scandal, is murdered.

Mimi Fitzroy, CIO for Rex Sports International, panics as she discovers thousands of stolen emails that prove Rex is breaking federal laws—big time. As Ben and Mimi work together to find a killer, they also find a connection they weren’t expecting and didn’t want.

They are headed for an explosive showdown in Seattle…and not everyone will walk away.

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1972 – Vietnam, the pill, upheaval, hippies.
Wyoming rancher Cooper Byrnes, deeply attached to the land and his way of life, surprises everyone when he falls for vagabond hippie Cassie Halliday. Fascinated and baffled, he cannot comprehend his attraction—or say the words she wants to hear.

Cassie finds Coop intriguingly different. As she keeps house for him and warms his bed at night, she admits to herself she loves him but she misinterprets Coop’s inability to express his feelings.

Parted, each continues to think of the other, but how can either of them reach out to say, “You were ‘always on my mind’?”

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In the sleepy coastal Maine town of Penhallow, a stranger dies on a train, drawing Historical Society Director, Rachel Tinker, and curmudgeonly retired professor, Griffin Tate, into a spider’s web of archaeological obsession and greed. With the help of the victim’s rival, they set out to locate the Queen of Sheba’s tomb. Their plans are stymied when a tug of war erupts between the sheriff and a state police detective who want to arrest the same man for different crimes. It’s up to Rachel to solve a mystery that includes two more murders, if she wants to unlock the soft heart that beats under Griffin’s hard crust.

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“Lessons From Rejection” by Olive Balla

Please help me welcome Olive Balla with an article all writers should read…

“Lessons From Rejection” by Olive Balla

For the umpteenth time, I click my cursor through the terse, to-the-point emailed responses to my latest barrage of agent queries. Thanks, but no thanks; Unfortunately, your work is not a good fit for our agency; and finally, the dreaded: This is in no way meant to reflect on the quality of your writing, keep it up.

“I’m seventy years old; the clock’s ticking,” my internal doomsday prophet intones. How many increments of a typical six-month waiting period do I have left? I don’t even buy green bananas.

Driven by the desire to hit that sweet spot required to find an agent willing to take a chance on my writing, I ask, “What does a good fit look like?”

Apparently, as the old saying goes, it’s different strokes for different folks. One agent’s pot-o-gold is another’s anathema. The bottom line is, how tough would an agent find it to sell my story? The shifts in the industry over the past decade alone have made it harder than ever to sell anything even remotely considered cliché, passé, overdone, or not edgy enough. To quote an agent who spoke at a writer’s convention I attended, “Please, don’t send me another story about vampires or kid wizards.” It’s a market-driven business; fads quickly come and go – emphasis on GO. To be marketable, a novel must not only be well-written, it must sizzle and pop with unique plot, peopled with and acted out by unique characters.

The latest series of rejections compelling me to action, I spend the day researching books on Amazon, paying careful attention to the back covers and blurbs to get a feel for what’s selling. Then I read my manuscript out loud, in hopes that getting another sense involved may help me spot gaps in the plot or highlight weak verbs and wonky sentences. Regardless of how many times I’ve edited, I edit again, searching for typos, misspellings, and over-use of be, am, is, are, was, were, been, or has been and have been.

If I’m still happy with my plot and character arcs, I seek and destroy anything written in passive voice – the use of which will doom even a great story.

I then move on to the Query letter. Does it sing? Does the Hook really hook? I re-read Query by C.J. Redwine and invest a day re-working my Query letter. I search the pages of the latest Guide to Literary Agents, highlighting the agencies I’ve not yet queried.

After doing everything I know to do, and as the melody of Cast Your Fate to the Wind – a golden oldie from the seventies – floats across my memory, I send out another barrage of Queries. Then I square my shoulders, open the Outline Template on my desktop, type in a working title, and begin another story.

 

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. Panic sent her running to the door where she pounded against the unyielding wood 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. Jillie snatched up the broken shovel handle and took a position in front of the door. With her legs slightly bent,, she balanced on the balls of her feet as she’d seen a martial arts professional do on television. She gripped the pole in both hands as if it were a sword, aimed its broken, pointed end at the door, and waited.

Olive Balla is a retired educator and author of two mystery/suspense novels An Arm and A Leg and Jillie published by TheWild Rose Press, Inc. A New Mexico native, Ms. Balla lives in the village of Los Lunas with her husband, her bossy puppy, and her pesky Internal Editor.
Find Olive Here:

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#HobbyCareerPassion: A Passion For Paranormal by Robert Herold

Welcome to my weekly feature where authors share about the hobbies, careers, or passions of their characters.

I’m pleased to introduce today’s guest, Robert Herold…

A Passion For Paranormal

We all feel a little unnerved when the power goes out, when we are plunged into darkness, when we are booked into a room on the 13th floor, or when 13 is missing from the elevator options, and most especially when people we know pass away. People have huddled around fires since ancient times to keep away their fears, both real and imagined. Today, when the power goes out, we cluster around that scented candle on the coffee table, or that flashlight app on one’s cell phone—until the battery wears out. Are we really so different from those in the past?

Imagine it is 1885, the beginning of the modern era. Science is making new strides in hitherto unexplored areas: chemistry, physics, psychology, even applying the scientific method to the hereafter – exposing frauds and maybe, just maybe, proving the existence of life after death. This was a passionate sideline for William James, a real figure from history. He was a famed Harvard professor, father of American psychology, and brother to the famous writer Henry James (author of The Turn of the Screw, among many others).

Professor William James helped found the American branch of the Society for Psychical Research, who applied the scientific method to investigations of the supernatural. Eventually the group in America became headed by a dogmatic skeptic and James had a falling out. Using this as a springboard, I imagined he then started his own investigative group, The Eidola Project (eidola being a Greek word for ghost). Some real investigations, including those that are downright spooky, are woven into the story, especially while he is building his team of paranormal researchers.

In addition to William James (age 42), the Eidola Project consists of Annabelle Douglas (age 28), one of the first graduates of The Harvard Annex (later known as Radcliff), Sarah Bradbury (age 18), an authentic medium, Edgar Gilpin (age 26), a brilliant African American physicist and graduate of Howard and Yale Universities, and Nigel Pickford (age 39), one of the youngest Confederate officers, who in the years following the Civil War is plagued by paranormal visions & has become a drunken derelict. Each contributes to the group, but each has his or her own peculiar baggage and set of weaknesses.

Professor James directs The Eidola Project from Harvard, sending them off on various missions, and occasionally joining them (akin to “Rupert Giles,” a character in the TV show Buffy the Vampire Slayer). The Eidola Project are intrepid explorers of the supernatural, but in doing so, they enter the darkness and become ensnared in a dangerous investigation of a haunted house, where they encounter all sorts of things that go bump—or worse!

 

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-eidola-project-robert-herold/1133990920

Blurb:

It’s 1885 and a drunk and rage-filled Nigel Pickford breaks up a phony medium’s séance. A strange twist of fate soon finds him part of a team investigating the afterlife.

The Eidola Project is an intrepid group of explorers dedicated to bringing the light of science to that which has been feared, misunderstood, and often manipulated by charlatans. They are a psychology professor, his assistant, an African-American physicist, a sideshow medium, and now a derelict, each possessing unique strengths and weaknesses.

Called to the brooding Hutchinson Estate to investigate rumored hauntings, they encounter deadly supernatural forces and a young woman driven to the brink of madness.

Will any of them survive?                                                                

Excerpt:

Sarah retrieved the lamp and twisted the peg. The outhouse door swung open on its own, and she gasped.

“Momma?” Sarah asked as she held out her lantern. No. A ruined version of Molly stood in the doorway.

Before her disappearance, people often commented on the sixteen-year-old’s beauty, but in the last twenty-eight days birds pecked out her pretty blue eyes, and maggots now swam in the sockets. Molly’s head hung to the left at an odd angle. Her skin looked mottled with patches of gray, blue, and black. A beetle crawled out of Molly’s half-opened mouth and darted back in.

Sarah’s heart leaped to her throat, and she jumped back. She lost her footing, fell onto the outhouse seat, and dropped the lantern to the floor. She bent to retrieve it; thankful the glass globe did not break. Sarah looked up and saw an empty doorway.

Impossible, she told herself. Must’ve dozed off, had a nightmare, and woke up when I dropped the lamp. Her heart still pounded in her chest, and Sarah took a deep breath to calm herself.

Holding the lamp before her once more, she crept out… 

Available at:

https://www.amazon.com/Eidola-Project-Novel-ebook/dp/B07YRB4F99/ref=sr_1_1

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-eidola-project-robert-herold/1133990920

Animated Book Trailer (17 seconds!): https://youtu.be/SZovJ-MZQ5Y         

About the Author:

The supernatural always had the allure of forbidden fruit, ever since Robert Herold’s mother refused to allow him, as a boy, to watch creature features on late night TV. She caved in. (Well, not literally.)

As a child, fresh snow provided him the opportunity to walk out onto neighbors’ lawns halfway and then make paw prints with his fingers as far as he could stretch. He would retrace the paw and boot prints, then fetch the neighbor kids and point out that someone turned into a werewolf on their front lawn. (They were skeptical.)

He has pursued many interests over the years (among them being a history teacher and a musician), but the supernatural always called to him. You could say he was haunted. Finally, following the siren’s call, he wrote The Eidola Project, based on a germ of an idea he had as a teenager.

Ultimately, he hopes the book gives you the creeps, and he means that in the best way possible.

https://robertheroldauthor.com/

https://www.facebook.com/RobertHeroldauthor/

https://twitter.com/RobertHerold666

 

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Filed under Author Blog Post, Hobbies...Careers...Passions

February Featured Books – Find New & Amazing Authors!!! #BookWorm

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

Princess Marina Hersher is on her way to marry the prince of Brenalin when her caravan is attacked. Dressed as her servant, she decides to keep her identity a secret from the attackers. She is knocked unconscious and is rescued by the dragon, Narud. He is a creature not seen on Feldsvelt for thousands of years. During the days that follow, Marina learns more about the dragon, and finds companionship.

Duran Abass is the high prince of Brenalin and can go no farther than the dragon’s lair. Dragon and man hold a silent battle for control of their shared body in the cave where Narud intends to keep the princess. The princess knows nothing of this struggle or the dragon’s intent, but learns to love them both.

Together, Marina and Duran and even the dragon, Narud, join forces to battle against the sorceress for their lives and love.

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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?

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Corinne Taylor has a secret. And it must be protected. If her mother discovers what Corinne has been hiding, Hell will not describe the place in which she will find herself. Beulah, Corinne’s mother, has proclaimed herself “queen” of Pike’s Run, and no one crosses her, especially not her daughter.

And while Corinne does what she can to guard her secret, her best efforts aren’t enough. War comes to Pike’s Run and the Taylor household when Beulah learns of her daughter’s betrayal. The battle that ensues forces Corinne to seek help from a new arrival.

Jonathan Pierce, a successful lawyer, has come to Pike’s Run looking to find solace from his past. When Corinne asks for his support, her innocence and bravery call to the needs within his broken spirit, and he can’t turn her down. She is capturing his heart, but if she ever learns of his cowardice, she will reject him, killing any hope he has left of finding love.

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Simon MacKay, the last Earl of Cleitmuir, was murdered two hundred years ago because of his family’s dangerous legacy. Alone and cursed he haunts his home in order to protect the lost treasure. A pastime that leaves him angry and embittered until he meets a feisty American Tourist. Not only is Laurel sexy and beautiful, she can also see him in his ghostly form.

Antiquities expert, Laurel Saville, leaves Chicago to visit her best friend in the romantic Scottish Highlands. She is saved from a tragic fall by the ghostly Simon. Once she realizes she is not crazy, she pledges to help him find his family’s missing artifact. A pledge hindered by treasure hunter Alex Mackenzie, a descendant of the clan that murdered Simon.

Laurel risks everything, including her life, to help Simon resolve the issues keeping him earth bound. But will she lose him forever or is there a way Laurel can keep him with her on this earthly plane?

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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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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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Why Do We Do That Voodoo We Do? by Olive Balla

Please help me welcome Olive Balla, an author with whom I had the pleasure of working with at The Wild Rose Press on a few books, the most recent being her fantastic suspense novel, Jillie.

WHY DO WE DO THAT VOODOO WE DO?

I tap the screen of my laptop and find a writer’s blog entitled Why Do You Write? Since the process of establishing a “motive” is central to my Suspense/Mystery genre, this gives me pause. I chew on the question, a frown creasing my forehead.

Other authors seem to have no problem defining their motivation, so why can’t I? It’s not a trick question – it’s something I should probably know.

Did my inability to name a consistent tune to which my Writer Spirit dances signify a lack of imagination? Was it a death knell to my aspirations to write something worth a few hours of someone’s life?

One blogger claims his raison d’etre is a drive for pure creative expression. His stories offer the perfect venue for building other worlds peopled with folk of his conjuring.

Yup, I say to myself, that’s a cool reason to write. Maybe I just feel the need to do me some creating.

Another writer vows she has no choice but to obey a powerful Inner Command to write. I consider the implied nobility of that statement. Maybe that’s why I write. I DO sometimes feel compelled. No, really.

What might happen to a writer who ignores such a command; would she expire? Would she explode into unfulfilled bits of gelatinous non-writer? I sigh.

With a grateful heart, I find one blogger who admits to purely mercenary motives. Time to get new carpet for the living room? No problem, just whip out a blockbuster. If only.

As a retiree living on a clenched-butt fixed income, that thought sets off a responsive gong. Perhaps paving a pathway to a gratifying payday is my true motivation after all.

Yet another blogger says his writings are borne of angst. His words, a therapeutic outlet, offer catharsis to his existential pain.

Then there is the writer who believes he has important information for the world, words of wisdom, answers to the mysteries of the human condition. And there are indeed those writers whose words change the course of history.

But alas, pleased to un-dangle participles and duct-tape split infinitives, I don’t have anything of such magnitude to say. One writer’s nuggets of gold are another’s horse puckie.

Then my hard-nosed Internal Editor sends up snarky questions on the quality of my own writing. Was my plot tight enough? Did my dialogue sing? Should I have included at least one scene of graphic sex? Or horror of horrors, did my characters behave uncharacteristically?

Perhaps I write to justify my mother’s never-flagging faith in my abilities, while jabbing a finger in my dad’s eye for suggesting I get a real job.

By the time the self-doubt and reflection are said and done, I arrive at a near-epiphany: Sometimes I write for all the above reasons but sometimes I write for none of them.

Mostly I write because I want to. If someone escapes a less-than-perfect reality for a nano-second by reading something I’ve written – that’s just plain cool.

My Internal Writer sighs. The tightness in my neck relaxes, and I bang out another scene.

 

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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Filed under Author Blog Post

Author Interview & An Excuse For Murder by Vanessa Westermann

Please help me welcome today’s guest, Vanessa Westermann…

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

I’m half-Canadian, half-German and was born in Germany. I moved to Canada two years ago and currently live in Ontario.

Why did you choose this genre?

I’ve always loved reading crime fiction, starting with Nancy Drew mysteries to Agatha Christie and Tana French. It’s not the violence of the crime, but the emotion that motivated it that intrigues me – the why, rather than the how.

I wanted to write a traditional village mystery, with its puzzles and quirky characters, but include the suspense of a thriller. In order to accomplish this, An Excuse For Murder is told from two points of view: from the perspective of Gary Fenris, a haunted former bodyguard who commits murder and then has to live with the consequences, and from the perspective of Kate Rowan, a bookstore owner who discovers the body. The characters are linked by danger and uncertain romance.

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

Besides being a writer, I’m an English teacher and have also taught creative writing to young adults. I love teaching. Having the chance to inspire students and make a difference in their lives is wonderful.  There’s never a dull moment. And I get to spend my day talking about books.

What was your first job?

My first job was in Karstadt Oberpollinger, a department store in Munich, Germany. I worked in the store’s pop-up Christmas market. Besides having to listen to two recently released pop albums being played over and over again at the MAC cosmetics counter, it was a lot of fun.

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

My favorite book of all time would have to be The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde. Literary detective, Thursday Next, is on the trail of a criminal mastermind who is kidnapping characters from classic works of fiction. In this alternative version of 1985 London, people are obsessed with books – there are museums devoted to famous authors and “HyperBookworms”, i.e. Thesaurean maggots. The Eyre Affair is surreal, witty and gripping.

I was lucky enough to interview Jasper Fforde about his latest standalone, Early Riser, on my blog: https://www.vanessa-westermann.info/Fforde-interview

What’s your favorite childhood book?

My favorite childhood book is I Capture The Castle by Dodie Smith and my favorite picture book is The Balloon Tree by Phoebe Gilman.

What do you want readers to come away with after they read An Excuse For Murder?

After they read An Excuse For Murder, I would like readers to come away with a sense of hope: that Gary will lay his ghosts to rest and that he will solve another crime with Kate. I would be thrilled if my characters linger on in readers’ minds after the last page has been read, and that Kate, Gary and Marcus feel like old friends.

Would you rather have a bad review or no review?

I would have to quote Oscar Wilde on that one: “There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about and that is not being talked about.” I would rather have a bad review than no review.

What is your favorite quote?

“The trouble with real life is that you don’t know whether you’re the hero or just some nice chap who gets bumped off in chapter five to show what a rotter the villain is without anyone minding too much.” ― Sarah Caudwell, The Sirens Sang of Murder

If you could spend time with a character from your book, whom would it be? And what would you do during that day?

I would love to have tea with Kate in The Old Fire-hall Café and then help her stock books in her bookstore, while discussing the mysterious behavior of the late Mr. Wendell.

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

The toughest criticism given to me as an author was by an editor who described an early version of An Excuse For Murder as a “woman-in-danger novel”. I was horrified that I had given the impression that my female protagonist needed saving. I revised the novel, making sure that Kate showed strength and courage in every decision she made and every action she took. The best compliment I received was from Barbara Fradkin, in her praise quote for An Excuse For Murder: “Kate Rowan is the perfect heroine for our times; wit, charm, and spirit balanced by impressive skills in self-defense and lock-picking.“ Taking the tough criticism to heart, and making those changes, led to the best compliment.

How did you come up with the title?

The book was originally titled The House of Silent Words. In that earlier version of the manuscript, the focus was on Kate and the other tenants living in the fairy-tale house, owned by Kate’s great-aunt. Gary Fenris was just a shadowy figure on the sidelines. During revisions, Gary became a protagonist in his own right and the title had to reflect that change. An Excuse For Murder stems from Gary’s storyline and emphasizes the theme of revenge.

Blurb:

As a former bodyguard, it should be easy for Gary Fenris to kill, especially when the motive is revenge. But Gary has made two mistakes in his life. The first was letting the woman he loved die on his watch. The second was thinking vengeance could bring him peace.

Local bookstore owner and amateur lock pick Kate Rowan loves nothing more than a good mystery. Her curiosity soon leads her down a trail of blackmail, obsession and death. Despite the risk – or maybe because of it – Gary finds himself drawn to Kate. When danger strikes, Gary is forced to face the fact that he used love as an excuse for murder. And he’s got one last score to settle.

 Excerpt:

The ghost of her laughter teased across his skin, raising the hairs on his arms.

There she was, vibrant as though she was in the room with him. “Don’t tell me you don’t like it.” She gave her new dress a twirl, barefoot and beautiful, all ready for a night out but for the heels she would wait to put on to the last. Her toe-nails were painted red. The arch of her foot flexed strong and graceful with the movement. Her blonde hair shone in the light of memory. She stopped short, the soft blue fabric swinging against her legs, and grinned at him.

It went straight through him. He raised the bottle of Scotch to his lips, holding on to the vision. It wavered beneath the intensity of his gaze.

Then there was nothing on the floor but scuff marks and the shimmer of dust. His trainers, mud-caked from that morning’s eight kilometer run, took up the space where her heels should have been. He had almost forgotten the way she used to toe her shoes off, always sliding the left one off first for some inexplicable reason.

The wall was cold and hard against his back, the Scotch smooth and warm.

There was no other choice. He’d made his decision two years ago. It was time.

Tomorrow, he would commit murder.

 Buy links:

Amazon | B&N | Indiebound | Kobo | Books-A-Million

 

Bio:

Vanessa Westermann is a former Arthur Ellis Awards judge, and has given a talk on the evolution of women’s crime writing, at the Toronto Chapter of Sisters in Crime.

Her book review column entitled “Vanessa’s Picks” was published in the monthly newsletter of a popular Toronto mystery-specialty bookstore, from 2012 to 2016. The column was developed into a blog, featuring literary reviews and author interviews.

While living in Munich, Germany, Vanessa attained an M.A. in English Literature and went on to teach creative writing.

Vanessa currently lives in Canada and is working on her next novel, while drinking copious amounts of tea.

Readers can find her blog at www.vanessa-westermann.info and follow her on Twitter @VanessasPicks.

Contact links:

Website & Blog | Twitter

 

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Filed under Author Blog Post, New Release

Author Interview with Julie Howard ~ New Release: Crime Times Two

#WRPbks, #AHAgrp, #99Cents

Please help me welcome Wild Rose Press author, Julie Howard…

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

My heart is torn between two states where I’ve lived most my life: California and Idaho. Because of this, I do believe you can call two places your home. I’ve lived in Idaho for the past fifteen years and it’s where I plan to stay, but California is still tops on my vacation list. I’m married with two children and a little sheltie who is my constant companion.

Where did you get the idea for your Wild Crime series.

My Wild Crime series came to me when we first moved to Idaho from the urban crush of California. My husband and I were taking a driving tour of the state to get to know our new home and I was struck by how remote many homes were. I mean REALLY remote. I imagined the stories of the people living in these houses far up in the mountains, up a dirt road, cut off during the winter snows. The what if scenario played in my mind: What if a woman moved out there with the wrong sort of man? What if she believed her only escape was killing him? What if he was murdered? I knew I had to write this story.

What book have you read that you wish you had written?

Anything by Charles Dickens. I get such a kick out of the characters he creates and how dead-on he captures certain personalities.

What was your first job?

When I was in high school, I typed up divorce documents for a lawyer. I must have helped split up dozens of marriages. I hope there weren’t too many typos.

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

Sleeping. That’s eight perfectly good hours, wasted!

Would you rather have a bad review or no review?

I’d much rather have a bad review. I spent a career as a journalist and worked with some pretty tough editors. The tough ones taught me the most. If I need to work harder or better or differently, I’d rather know so I can make the adjustment and move on.

What is your favorite quote?

“The flies have conquered the flypaper.” From John Steinbeck’s The Moon is Down.

If you were stranded on a deserted island and you could have 3 (inanimate) objects, what would they be?

A beach chair, a good book and a bottle of wine. Why worry?

If you could be a character in any of your books, who would you be?

Oh, I love the little five-year-old girl in my books. She’s the daughter of the main character and is a feisty spitfire. She’s so much fun to write and I know she’ll go on to be a strong woman. Wait…she’s imaginary…

Have you written any other books that are not published?

I’ve written a historical fiction set during WWII that is inspired by family stories. It’s in final editing stages, but I’m having trouble letting go. This one is close to my heart and I want it to be perfect – and of course nothing can ever be perfect.

Who is the most famous person you have ever met?

I’ve met a few since I was a journalist and worked in Las Vegas for a while. My most interesting interview was with Oscar winner Patricia Neal. She was in movies with Ronald Reagan and was married to (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) author Roald Dahl.

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

We are all stronger than we think, and there is always a path forward.

Tell us about your favorites…

Movie – Bandits

Music – Modern folk

Place you’ve visited – Istanbul

Place you’d like to visit – the Philippines

TV show from childhood – Gilligan’s Island

TV show from adulthood – Fargo

Food – anything Mexican

Sports team – Boise State Broncos (football), of course

Which do you prefer: Board games/card games or television? Board games, especially playing with my kids.

 

Thank you, Julie. I loved getting to know you, and your book sounds fantastic. Congrats!

Now, Julie has a question for readers…

If you were on a deserted island and could only have one book to read over and over, what would it be?

Julie Howard’s Wild Crime series continues with the release of book two, “Crime Times Two.”

When divorce is out of the question, can murder be forgiven?”

Blurb from “Crime Times Two” (coming Oct. 8, available for pre-order now)

Meredith knows three things: First, the man in the library begged her to help him. Second, he was afraid of his wife. Third, now he’s dead.

While the evidence first points to a natural death, Meredith is certain there’s more to discover. People are tight-lipped in this small mountain village, and the man’s wife isn’t talking either. Then a second death occurs, with remarkable similarities. It’s time to talk about murder.

As a slow-burning relationship heats up in her own life, Meredith struggles with concepts of love and hate, belief and suspicion, and absolution and guilt. Nothing is clear cut…

She must decide: Is guilt, like evil, something you can choose to believe in?

Excerpt from “Crime Times Two”

Jowls quivered under the man’s weak chin, and Meredith noted the stained and frayed shirt of someone who spent a lot of time alone in dark rooms, sending out a better version of himself into the virtual world. His eyes were anxious and beseeching at her as though she should have a clear understanding of him and his life.

Somehow, over the past hour and a half they’d been sitting next to each other – him playing video games and sharing his life story and her ignoring him the best she could – she had become his confessor and friend.

Meredith gave him what she hoped was an impartial-though-quasi-friendly smile. She reached for her purse and papers and rose from her chair. “Well. Nice talking with you.”

The man was lost in his own train of thought and seemed only slightly aware that Meredith was leaving.

He shook his head, morose.

“To make a long story short,” he summed up, “I think my wife is trying to kill me.”

 

About the author

Julie Howard is the author of the Wild Crime series. She is a former journalist and editor who has covered topics ranging from crime to cowboy poetry. She is a member of the Idaho Writers Guild, editor of the Potato Soup Journal, and founder of the Boise chapter of Shut Up & Write. Learn more at juliemhoward.com.

http://www.facebook.com/juliemhowardauthor

http://juliemhoward.com

BOOK SALE ALERT! The first book in the series, “Crime and Paradise,” in on a 99-cent flash sale until Oct. 18.

 

 

The story follows a young abused woman who ends up in a remote Idaho town. When her husband is murdered, she becomes the prime suspect. The local sheriff develops an interest in her beyond the investigation, and together they uncover some unsavory secrets in their small town.

https://www.amazon.com/Crime-Times-Two-Wild-Book-ebook/dp/B07H4X7WQJ/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1537197504&sr=1-1&keywords=Crime+Times+Two

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Filed under Author Blog Post, Ebook Deal, New Release

Maggie Sinclair from Numbers Never Lie Shares the 10 Moments that Changed Her Life

Please help me welcome my friend and fellow author, Diane Burton. Be sure to grab your copy of Numbers Never Lie – It’s a great romantic suspense read!

(Check out the Rafflecopter Giveaway at the end of the post!)

10 Moments That Changed Maggie Sinclair’s Life

Thanks for having me here on your blog, Alicia. I’m so happy to have the chance to share my latest release, Numbers Never Lie, a romantic suspense, with your readers. Normally, I’d say you and your readers. But since you edited my book, I think you’ve already read it. 😊

I’ve already done my 10 Moments, so I thought it might be a good way to learn about a character. So here’s the “star” of Numbers Never Lie and the moments that changed Maggie Sinclair’s life.

  1. I was five the summer Drew Campbell moved to our neighborhood. He was eight, the same age as my brother, Jack. Those two became best friends and tried to shut me out. I wouldn’t let them. Later, only my prowess in baseball made them choose me for their team. At fifteen, I had the world’s biggest crush on Drew. He said I kissed like a guppy.
  1. At twenty-two, I married Roger Dodger. Actually, his last name is Dixon. I was young and stupid, and Drew was married by then. Roger was the king of lies, affairs, and abuse. Mostly emotional abuse. The second time he hit me, I said sayonara and got out of that marriage. After therapy, I took self-defense classes. Both helped my self-esteem that was at an all-time low. I learned that I was stronger than I thought.
  1. Also at twenty-two, I started teaching high school kids and coaching girls’ baseball. I love sharing my knowledge of my favorite game.
  1. My parents died when I was twenty-five. Mom got influenza that went into pneumonia. Six months after she died, Dad had a fatal heart attack. Jack and I figure he missed Mom so much he really died of heartache.
  1. Four years ago, I joined my best friend who’d organized a group of preteen girls and taught them how to camp. We were in Girl Scouts together, and she was a gung-ho outdoors woman. Last year, she moved, and I “inherited” the group. We can’t go camping without another chaperone. The girls’ moms don’t want to, and the dads are too busy. The girls feared their camping days are over, and they’d never get to camp on Isle Royale.
  1. Drew’s daughter said her dad volunteered to go with them on an overnight trip. The girls’ were ecstatic. I was torn between relief that the girls wouldn’t be disappointed and skittishness because I was still attracted to him, especially since his wife died.
  1. Returning from that trip and discovering my brother had died in a car accident. Devastated, crushed, stunned, lost. Those words aren’t strong enough to match how I felt.
  1. Investigating the accident. Too many inconsistencies made me suspicious. The sheriff blew me off. So did Drew, at first.
  1. Together, Drew and I discovered why Jack was killed and capture the bad guy.
  1. Drew and I are getting married. The camping group will give me away. According to Drew, our honeymoon will not feature camping.

NUMBERS NEVER LIE

A Romantic Suspense

By Diane Burton

Romantic Suspense

Length: approx. 80,000 words

Available at Amazon  http://a.co/gUmO9wZ

Free with Kindle Unlimited

Blurb:

A shocking secret brings danger to Jack Sinclair and his sister Maggie.

As kids, they were the fearless threesome. As adults, Jack’s an accountant; Drew, a lawyer; Maggie, a teacher and camping troop leader. Upon returning from a weekend camping trip, Maggie receives horrifying news. She refuses to believe her brother Jack’s fatal car crash was an accident. If the police won’t investigate, she’ll do it herself. Convincing Drew Campbell to help is her only recourse.

Drew Campbell was too busy to return his best friend’s phone call. Too busy to attend a camping meeting important to his teen daughter. Too busy to stay in touch with Jack. Logic and reason indicate Jack’s accident was just that–an accident caused by fatigue and fog. Prodded by guilt, he’ll help Maggie even if he thinks she’s wrong.

A break-in at Jack’s condo convinces Maggie she’s right. Then her home is searched. What did Jack do that puts Maggie in danger?

Excerpt

During lunch, Jack asked about the camping equipment in the garage. “I thought your camping days were over when Trish moved away.”

As it often did, Maggie’s eyes teared up at the thought of Trish Morrow. They’d been best friends since kindergarten. A natural born leader, Trish could get anybody to do anything—like conning Maggie into helping with the group of pre-teen campers. Last summer, after eight months of unemployment, Trish’s husband took a job in Denver. Trish and the kids followed, and there went the leader of the group.

“We’ve been meeting,” Maggie said around the lump in her throat.

“Suck-er.” Jack grinned. “How many volunteer jobs do you have now? Little League umpire, peewee hockey ref, high school girls’ baseball coach—”

“I get paid for that one,” she interrupted. “Can I help it if the girls wanted to get together to talk?”

“From the camping equipment you were loading into your SUV, it looks like you’re going to do more than talk.”

She shrugged. “They still want to go to Isle Royale. Their theory is if they practice camping all summer and into the fall, Trish will come back for the trip next summer. We’re going on an overnight camping trip tomorrow.”

“You got another mother to help chaperone?”

Maggie grimaced. “Not exactly.”

He dropped his sandwich. “You aren’t taking the girls by yourself? That’s crazy.”

“Add in irresponsible, brother dear. Which I’m not. I’d never take kids on a trip without another adult.” She eyed him with an appraising expression.

Jack held up his hands. “Don’t look at me. I’m up to my eyeballs in work.”

“Don’t worry. I wasn’t going to ask you, although it did cross my mind.”

Despite her brother’s usually super-neat appearance, he loved the outdoors almost as much as Maggie. Sports and scouts were his life when they were kids—just like her. While he went from Tiger Cubs through to achieving Eagle Scout status, she’d gone from Daisy Girl Scouts to earning her Gold Award. That made having a group of campers not affiliated with Girl Scouts a little weird. But, Trish didn’t like organizations with rules and regulations and, since Maggie hadn’t been in charge, she went along with her best friend.

Now her BFF was gone, and guess who was in charge?

“So, who’s helping you with the troop?” Jack pulled a couple of grapes off the stems and popped them into his mouth.

“Ellen’s dad.”

Jack started to choke. She jumped up ready to do the Heimlich until he laughed. She considered whacking him on the back on general principle.

“Drew? Drew Campbell? The guy whose idea of casual is loosening his tie?”

At least, Jack’s tired expression was gone. She tapped her short, no-nonsense fingernails on the table. “I’m so glad I could provide entertainment with lunch.”

He continued to laugh—almost braying.

“I’m loaning him your sleeping bag and backpack.” She worked hard not to smirk.

“What!”

“Consider it rent for storing your stuff in my garage. And basement.”

Technically, the house was half his, part of their inheritance. After their folks died, she was grateful to leave her one-bedroom apartment. Since Jack already had a condo and didn’t want the upkeep of a house, their home was all hers, along with storage for his belongings.

Jack frowned for a second. “My equipment? You’re loaning out my camping equipment?”

“He’s your friend. I didn’t think you’d mind.”

Jack started to laugh again. “Oh, God. I wish I could be there to watch.” He went off again, laughing so hard tears formed until he wiped them away. “Drew Campbell wimped out of Cub Scouts.”

 

Numbers Never Lie is available at Amazon.

 

About the Author:

Diane Burton combines her love of mystery, adventure, science fiction and romance into writing romantic fiction. Besides writing science fiction romance, she writes romantic suspense, and cozy mysteries. Diane and her husband live in West Michigan. They have two children and five grandchildren.

For more info and excerpts from her books, visit Diane’s website: http://www.dianeburton.com

Connect with Diane Burton online

Blog:  http://dianeburton.blogspot.com/

Twitter:  http://twitter.com/dmburton72

Facebook:  http://facebook.com/dianeburtonauthor

Goodreads: Diane Burton Author

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/dmburton72/

Sign up for Diane’s new release alert: http://eepurl.com/bdHtYf

 

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Filed under 10 Moments that Changed My Life