SNEAK PEEK Maggie Carpenter’s “The Scarlet Stiletto”

IMG_4791I am thrilled to have been invited to participate in the “Death & Damages” box set anthology with a stable of talented bestselling authors like the one you are about to meet.

These amazing writers have graciously agreed to let my blog readers share in an exclusive interview AND get a sneak peek at the book they have contributed to the Death & Damages box set – 25 stories for 99 cents!

Today, we sit down with Maggie Carpenter, author of “The Scarlet Stiletto”


DAN: Tell my readers briefly about the story you are contributing to the Death & Damages anthology. What inspired your story?

MAGGIE CARPENTER: The Scarlet Stiletto is a murder mystery set.

Location: Manhattan

Year: 1938

Think Phillip Marlowe, the detective made famous by Raymond Chandler.

A gorgeous dame named Ruby rose walks into Patrick McGuire’s office carrying a paper bag. Inside he finds a bloody red stiletto. She came home to find her husband murdered, the heel of the shoe embedded in his eye. A gangland hit? He dabbled with the mob. A jealous husband? He wasn’t the most faithful of men? Or could the killer be Ruby Rose herself?

What inspired this story?

AASS.pngI woke up with the premise in my head. I literally dream all my book.

How long of a piece is it?

30,000 words.

Tell me a little bit about you. Where do you do your writing?

At home, sitting my couch, my dog curled up next to me. At night, in bed, and usually until I have trouble staying awake.

Do you ever collaborate with others?

I’ve published over 65 books, and can’t imagine a collaboration. I dream everything, and write like a maniac. I think I’d find a partner cumbersome.

Tell me a little bit about your process. What is the path from idea to finished story? Do you use critique partners? Do you have a favorite editor?

New Spy Cinema jThe ideas – they’re ever-evolving. Though I may have a loose plot in mind, I know surprises are waiting for me. (Smiling). I don’t outline. The story unfolds as I write.

What do you do for your cover? It’s always hard to find a good cover. How do you find yours, or the artwork?

THE COVER! Great question. In recent titles I have done my best to incorporate cover details in the story, but I have struggled with covers throughout my career. I have found help with images from one particular photographer, and Rebecca Hamilton has been a tremendous help, but I still find covers challenging.

ToKissACowboyNEW3What about your blurb and tagline? What is your process for arriving at a really killer tagline and then a blurb that makes readers want to buy the book?

I think I’ve found only a few killer tag lines, and some that were decent. What is the process? Endless hours refining the synopsis then whittling it down. The few killer ones popped into my head when I was riding my horse. True!


* EXCLUSIVE SNEAK PREVIEW *

The Scarlet Stiletto

Maggie Carpenter

  

CHAPTER ONE

New York 1938

Private Detective Patrick McGuire leaned back in his rickety chair, kicked his feet up on his desk, and dropping his hat over his eyes he let out a contented sigh. He loved his hat. It served many purposes, most notably it helped to shield his eyes from the pink and blue light that flashed through his window from the neon sign across the street. It had been a busy week and he was weary. Jimmy’s bar around the corner was beckoning, but he needed a quick snooze before heading out. Letting out a heavy sigh, he settled in to nod off, but heard the sharp clip-clop of a woman’s high-heels. He loved the seductive sound, and a smile curled the edges of his lips. His secretary, Gladys, had already left. With no-one to greet her, the woman would knock tentatively on his door. He’d slip off his hat, straighten his tie, then invite her in and listen patiently to her story. Doubtless another cheating husband. How many cases could he count? Three hundred and forty two? It was a private joke. He had no idea. Husbands suspected their wives more than wives suspected their husbands, but perhaps that was because—

“You have to help me!”

There had been no knock, and he hadn’t heard his door open, but a tall, willowy, blonde with bright blue eyes brimming with worry gazed down at him. Her pouty, crimson, kiss-me-now lipsticked lips grabbed his attention, and hastily sitting up and pulling off his hat, he told himself not to stare.

“And how can I do that?” he managed, reminding himself she was a potential client.

“You are Patrick McGuire, aren’t you?”

“Yeah, that’s me.”

“You have to help me,” she repeated. “I’m in terrible trouble.”

“What kind of trouble?”

Though obviously desperate, her voice was soft and feminine.

“Terrible!” she repeated.

“Excuse me?”

“Terrible. I’m in terrible trouble.”

AASSPatrick coughed. It wasn’t a real cough, but it was what he did when he was rattled. A huge fan of Sherlock Holmes, he considered himself a master of deduction with sharp instincts and an eye for detail, but he was finding it difficult to focus.

“Sit down and tell me who you are and why you’re here,” he said, doing his best to sound like the confident, competent private detective he was, or at least claimed to be.

“I’ve already told you why I’m here,” she exclaimed, dropping into the chair in front of his desk and looking at him urgently. “I’m in—”

“Terrible trouble, yeah, I got that part, but I need specifics. Let’s start with your name.”

“Ruby. Ruby Rose.”

“Ruby Rose! That’s quite a name,” he remarked, thinking how well it matched her lipstick. “Would you like a drink? It might help to settle your nerves?”

Without waiting for an answer he opened his desk drawer and retrieved his flask of scotch and two small tumblers. She might not want a shot, but he sure did, and taking his eyes off her would help him think. The impressive bump on the ring finger of her gloved hand told him she was married. Of course she was married. A gorgeous creature like her had to be married, and there was money. The fur collar on her thick wool coat appeared to be mink, but she’d left home in a hurry. Her hair was slightly mussed and her makeup wasn’t fresh, though she’d applied a coat of that ridiculously red lipstick before entering his office. Splashing the liquor into the glasses, he placed one in front of her. As she lifted it to her luscious lips to take a sip, he downed his in a single gulp, then poured himself a second.

“Now then,” he said briskly. “Details.”

“This will explain it,” she announced, her voice tremulous as she lifted a brown paper bag and placed it on his desk. “Prepare yourself.”

He hadn’t noticed her carrying the package. He chided himself. He’d been so taken with her baby blues, wavy blonde hair, and pouty scarlet mouth, she could have brought a suitcase into his office and he wouldn’t have seen it. He hesitated.  Based on her frantic demeanor, the innocuous brown paper bag could contain anything from a body part to a gun. Pausing to take a quick breath, he unfolded the top and peered inside.

“Why am I looking at a shoe?”

“A red stiletto to be exact.”

“You need to explain,” he said, lifting his gaze. “Why did you bring me a shoe?”

“I didn’t know what else to do. I didn’t know where to go.”

“Mrs. Rose—”

“Ruby,” she said hastily, cutting him off. “Call me Ruby.”

“What’s so special about this shoe, and please, as simply as you can, tell why you need my help?”

“Take it out. Take it out and look at it.”

Her voice was growing shrill, and hoping she wasn’t on the verge of hysteria he reached in and pulled it out. The shoe was glossy patent leather with an unusually high narrow heel.

“I don’t think I’ve ever laid eyes on a shoe like this. How can you walk?”

“Look! Look! Don’t you see it?”

“See what? It’s a red shoe with a very narrow, very high heel that’s clearly expensive, and—”

“Blood! It’s covered in blood!” she exclaimed cutting him off a second time. “It was sitting next to my husband when I found him.”

A sudden chill rippled down his spine.

“What do you mean, found him?”

“My husband. He’s dead,” she replied, abruptly whispering. “In our library. His head was—was—really messy. The fireplace poker—it was right next to my perfectly wonderful scarlet stiletto!”

Patrick downed his fresh drink in a quick swallow. The beautiful blonde sitting in front of him seemed to care more about her shoe than the fact that someone had smashed her husband’s skull with a fireplace poker. As the burn of the spicy liquor glided down his throat, the obvious question popped into his head.

“What did the police say? Why didn’t you give the shoe to them?”

“Are you insane? How could I call the police?”

“How could you not?”

“Isn’t it obvious. What kind of detective are you?”

She was staring at him with wide-eyes, ostensibly incredulous at his suggestion, but a healthy dose of skepticism was beginning to creep past her allure.

“Apparently the kind that needs things spelled out,” he replied, a frown creasing his brow. “Why were you afraid to call them?”

“Because they’d think I’d killed him of course! Don’t you see? Someone is trying to pin it on me. Why else would my shoe be there? You need to find out who, and you need to find out why.”

He paused, dropped his eyes to his desk, and decided, at least for the moment, to play along.

“Can you think of anyone who would want to hurt your husband?”

“Sure. There were plenty of people who didn’t like him. He was a businessman.”

“Ruby, you’re afraid to contact the police, and concerned about your shoe being at the scene, but you don’t seem very upset that your husband has been murdered.”

“How can you say that? My poor, Al,” she said woefully. “He was such a kind man.”

Patrick rose to his feet, and stepping to the window, he idly watched the blinking pink and purple neon sign. Everything about her was distracting. Her beauty, that mesmerizing red mouth, and the confounding conversation.

“If you were so worried about your shoe, why didn’t you get rid of it and then call the police?” he murmured to himself. “I don’t believe your ditzy act.”

“I didn’t hear you.”

“You weren’t meant to,” he replied, turning to face her, “and before I agree to help you we need to talk some more. Quite a bit more.”


About The Author

USA TODAY Bestselling author Maggie Carpenter has published over sixty romance novels.

Her heroes include amorous aliens, kinky cowboys, brawny barbarians, tempting tycoons, and Harley-riding bikers. Her smart, witty, strong-willed heroines bring unexpected challenge, mystery and humor into the lives of their passionate, take-charge men. Her most recent cowboy series, HUNKS and HORSES, can be found here:

AMAZON: https://amzn.to/2BSYL1Q 

Maggie has a history in show-business, but moved from Los Angeles to the Pacific Northwest to pursue her writing. She shares her world with a beautiful mare and an adorable mutt rescued from a junkyard in Tijuana.

To see a list of her books visit her Amazon author page.

http://www.Amazon.com/author/maggiecarpenter

To sample her work for free and subscribe to her newsletter go to:

 http://www.3FreeBooks.com.

Connect with Maggie

Maggie loves to hear from readers. You can contact her at MagCarpenter@yahoo, or through her website: http://www.MaggieCarpenter.com.

Social Media Links:
www.MaggieCarpenter.com
www.MaggieCarpenter.com/blog
www.Amazon.com/author/maggiecarpenter
http://pinterest.com/submaggie/
https://www.facebook.com/MaggieCarpenterWriter

https://www.facebook.com/MaggieCarpenterWriter

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC34D1JhwfFecUe6-ebPbC-w


Gang, please join me in thanking Maggie for sharing these authorly insights with us.

Click HERE to order your copy of Death & Damages TODAY and read the rest of this great story when it is released in the Death & Damages boxed set!

ORDER YOUR COPY NOW!

Danger lurks around every corner as these courageous cops, adventurous agents, and daring detectives hunt for the answers to stop the crimes by vicious killers.

But what if the damage is already done?

Inside these pages, you’ll find 25 adventures full of captivating conundrums, hair-raising homicides, and suspenseful secrets from today’s USA Today & Wall Street Journal bestselling and award-winning authors.

Become a private investigator yourself when you inspect plots of deadly assassins, cold-blooded killers, and bone-chilling suspense inside the pages of DEATH AND DAMAGES, an enthralling mystery and thriller boxed set.

Fans of Lee Child, James Patterson, Gillian Flynn, Paula Hawkins, and John Grisham will devour these puzzling mysteries and gripping thrillers.

Including Stories From…

  • New York Times bestselling author Patricia Loofbourrow
  • USA Today bestselling author Pauline Creeden
  • USA Today bestselling author John Ling
  • Award-Winning author Alexa Padgett
  • Siera London
  • USA Today bestselling author Shereen Vedam
  • Multi-Award-Winning author, Deborah Shlian
  • USA Today bestselling author Kelly Hashway
  • USA Today bestselling author JB Michaels
  • Maggie Carpenter
  • USA Today bestselling author Tiana Laveen
  • Angela Sanders
  • Award-Winning author Karen M. Bryson
  • Aime Austin
  • Lisa B. Thomas
  • USA Today bestselling author Fiona Quinn
  • Kerry J Donovan
  • Jane Blythe
  • Bestselling author Dan Alatorre
  • USA Today bestselling authors Muffy Wilson and Dariel Raye
  • Ja’Nese Dixon
  • USA Today bestselling author Terry Keys
  • Bill Hargenrader
  • Wall Street Journal bestselling author Judith Lucci
  • Award-Winning author Maria Grazia Swan

SNEAK PEEK Ja’Nese Dixon’s “Veiled Conspiracy”

IMG_4792I am thrilled to have been invited to participate in the “Death & Damages” box set anthology with a stable of talented bestselling authors like the one you are about to meet.

These amazing writers have graciously agreed to let my blog readers share in an exclusive interview AND get a sneak peek at the book they have contributed to the Death & Damages box set – 25 stories for 99 cents!

Today, Ja’Nese Dixon, author of Veiled Conspiracy


 

DAN: Tell us a little about the book you contributed to Death and Damages

JaNese-Dixon_2018
author Ja’Nese Dixon

JA’NESE DIXON: Veiled Conspiracy is a story about an acclaimed self-published author and conspiracy theorist who is offered a once-in-a-lifetime book and movie deal. A deal he plans to use as bait to find his wife’s killer.

Ooh, I sense intrigue already.

What inspired this story? (Hopefully not personal events.)

I don’t have a single moment that inspired this story. I had a lingering thought about the main character, Nicholas Hunt. I “observed” him and he had this constant edge of unease behind everything he did. It made me curious. For about six or seven months I let his story come to me, and boy did it.

How do you “observe” Nicholas Hunt, someone who I assume is a fictional character?

I guess my wording seems odd. But I have a series of questions that I ask and answer from the perspective of the character. Then over time little “holes” in my knowledge of the character begin to fill.

A thought here. A realization there.

“It all is jotted down in my notes.

This information may never reach the book, but it helps me to understand the character—his motivation, his struggles, his desires, etc.”

I equate it to getting acquainted with a new person, and that takes time. I have characters I’m “observing” after years of taking notes. And when it’s time, I will hopefully write his/her story too.

How is long of a piece is Veiled Conspiracy?

It is a full length novel, approximately 60,000 words or so.

Tell me a little bit about you. Where do you do your writing?

 I write mostly in bed. 🙂 I have an office but it’s in an open area. We—my husband, son, and I—work from home, so it can be extremely active and distracting. When it’s time to write I head to our bedroom with a mug of coffee, and noise-canceling headphones. I select a book specific playlist and get to work. From time to time I’ll go to Starbucks and work. But it doesn’t compare to relaxing and letting the story unfold with limited distractions.

A lot of authors are doing the playlist thing. What was the list you used for Veiled Conspiracy?

Okay, we’re entering the no-judgment zone. 🙂 But for some reason I listen to endless songs by Jay-Z when I’m writing suspense. Crazy huh?!
Here are a handful of the songs in the Veiled Conspiracy playlist:
    • What More Can I Say by Jay-Z
    • Decode by Paramore
    • American Dreamin’ by Jay-Z
    • Be Where You Are by Trey Songs
    • Run This Town by Jay-Z
    • Renegage by Jay-Z f. Eminem
    • Speeding’ by Omarion
    • I Know by Jay-Z
    • Encore by Jay-Z
    • Numb/Encore by Linkin Park & Jay-Z
    • Save Me from U by Dawn Richard
    • Get You by Daniel Caesar
    • Neu Roses (Transgressor’s Song) by Daniel Caesar
    • Get Right by Sammie
    • Right Now by Trevor Jackson
I don’t press play at the beginning…

“I usually pick a song that mirrors the feeling of the chapter and/or scene.

Then I play the song on repeat until the music becomes like white noise leaving the under beat to fuel the cadence of my typing.”

What does writing success look like to you? 

Veiled Conspiracy_low-res Writing when, how, and what I like and comfortably supporting my family while doing so. That would be success for me in my writing career.

Do you ever collaborate with others?

 Yes. I have for anthologies, boxed sets, and I have a couple projects in the works to co-write a few books.

Tell me a little bit about your process.

What is the path from idea to finished story? Do you use critique partners? Do you have a favorite editor?

 I’d have you here all day explaining my process, because it is a process. Let’s see….

I usually carry a book idea around as a thought for about three – eighteen months.

I think if a lot of writers were being totally candid, they’d say that same thing.

It depends on the characters and what I’m actively working on at the time. During this time I keep book specific notes in my phone—this means its on my iPad and my computer for further exploration.

 Once I know I have a solid theme, story arc, and at least one main character, I start outlining.

Finally! Another plotter. Bless you.

Outlining can take me from a week to months. Romance stories take me less time than my suspense books due to research.

 I let the story marinate for a while and continue to add notes here and there. Once I start writing it can take from two weeks to six months to write the book.

That sounds eerily similar to my process.

How clean is your first draft after all that?

 My first draft is usually pretty solid. I have layers to my editing process before I pass to my beta readers. Then I revise. Edit. Revise. Proofread. Revise. Publish.

 The time required for this phase of the project varies since I’m working with other people.

 But that’s the lifespan of a book project for me, in a nutshell.

janese-dixon_2018

What do you do for your cover? It’s always hard to find a good cover. How do you find yours, or the artwork?

I design my own book covers. I hope to work with other graphic designers in the future. But for now, I’m it. 🙂

They look good, so keep with it!

What about your blurb and tagline? What is your process for arriving at a really killer tagline and then a blurb that makes readers want to buy the book?

Please don’t throw tomatoes…

Never.

…but I write them before the book.

Whaaattt???

That may be fairly brilliant!

I write the killer blurb before writing the book as motivation and it holds me accountable to the essence of the story.

I take it back; that’s not fairly brilliant, that’s full-blown brilliant.

 Then once the story is done, I play with it. I also have a few key people around me to critique and provide feedback before sharing it with the world.

Words to live by. Anyone can – and should – follow that process. Great advice! Thank you!


* EXCLUSIVE SNEAK PEEK *

Veiled Conspiracy

Ja’Nese Dixon

CHAPTER ONE

Nicholas Hunt summarized his life in two words: Russian roulette. A deadly cocktail of guilt and grief laid the foundation for a plan of revenge. A plan to flush out his wife’s killer. A plan fueled by the pain he felt the day he lowered Ashley into the ground.

This morning he waited to meet with Olivia Peters, his agent and his deceased wife’s best friend, at his favorite brunch spot. Hoping they’d finally managed to land a publisher for his next novel, Confidential.

The bait he’d use to lure Ashley’s killer out of hiding.

He glanced at the Washington, D.C. skyline as the seconds ticked by at the pace of a intoxicated snail, tapping his index finger on the table marking time. The city grinds to a holy halt on Sunday’s—no politicians, no blog posts, no death threats. Even the bad guys seemed to rest.

Still he selected an outside table for the fresh air. He felt safer with his back to Potomac River. He watched entrances and exits for familiar faces, whether friend or foe, always wondering whether his time had finally come.

“Chill out.” He whispered to himself.

He shifted in his chair and bumped the edge of the table sending the fancy setting into a fit of chiming. The other patrons flicked annoyed glares in his direction. He gripped the table then fiddled with the lapel of his dress jacket. And just like that day, he ignored the stares, the wave of unease, and the uncertainty bubbling beneath the surface. Would he find her killer? Would pushing his work further in the spotlight make him their next target?

“Good morning. My name is Emily and I’ll be your server. Are you ready to order?” The obvious twenty something smiled with a slight tilt of her head holding a small white pad and pen in her hands.

“I’m waiting for someone.”

He returned her smile and with a nod she left. If he had a type, she’d be it. Flowing brown hair and legs for days. He figured she was close to his six foot height. But his life was commitment free and he planned to keep it that way.

One time to the altar and ’til death do us part sealed the deal for him.

He glanced at his watch again and back towards the entrance as Olivia cleared the doorway. She supported him through the best of times and the worst of times. It just sucked that the latter seemed to describe the past five years of his life.

Olivia approached, dropping her designer bag in the chair across from him. She reminded him of a Reese Witherspoon twin. Her petite frame, short stature, and blonde hair would stop any man in his tracks. He’d witness more than a few people get distracted by her innocent and sweet appeal. He chuckled knowing she wasn’t beneath using it to their advantage. The floral dresses and strappy stilettos disguised a stealth business beast.

“Why do you insist upon sitting outside in this heat?” She fanned her face. Olivia’s brilliant and a wee bit dramatic.

“It is a beautiful day and you could always use a little sun.” He dropped his head hiding his laughter.

“Sun at the beach, yes. This is beautiful but tortuous. Which reminds me, I’m going on vacation next month, you should consider taking one too.” She pushed her shades over eyes and positioned them like a headband exposing her secret weapon: silver eyes.

“Vacation? What’s that? I can’t remember the last time I took time off.” He leaned back as the waiter placed another menu on the table.

“Nick you’ve built a full time career as a blogger. You are respected by politicians on both sides of the party lines. People love your unbiased commentary and your dedication to representing the people.”

“I love what I do.”

“And you managed to continue your growth during the most uncertain political times of our country.”

Her steady flow of compliments probably meant she’s working up the nerve to give him the same speech. All work and no play. But that wasn’t for him, not anymore.

“Don’t you think it’s time you enjoyed your success a little?” Olivia rested her elbows on the table, a deep crease set between her eyebrows.

“Not until I sell Confidential.” He trusted few people after Ashley’s death and Olivia is one of them. But he couldn’t tell her the details of his plan without risking her life too.

In his blind ambition he made the fatal mistake of agitating the wrong group—the Dark Spider. And Ashley paid the price with her life. He learned a valuable lesson.

Words are powerful.

Words hold the power of life and death.

And his words are lethal.

Now, Nick wouldn’t rest until he found them. His tapping fingers drummed a cadence he’d perfected to summons the persistence he needed to subdue the hatred residing where love once lived.

His stomach stirred at the heavenly scent of waffles, roasted potatoes, and southern fried chicken. Time to eat.

He flagged down their waiter and Olivia placed her order making every possible modification. No oil, no bread, no cheese. What’s the point of having breakfast if you toss out the good stuff?

“And for you?” Emily pushed her hair behind her ear.

“I’ll have the three-egg omelet with everything, and avocado toast. Add I’ll take a Café Americano with heavy cream.”

Olivia shook her head in disgust.

“So, I assume you have good news for me since you demanded we meet in person.” Might as well get it over with. He removed his shades and placed them on the table.

Veiled Conspiracy_low-resOlivia pulled out a folder. A full plump smile lit up her face like a cat that got the fattest canary in the store. She dropped the massive file between them, and looked so satisfied he wouldn’t be surprised if she coughed up yellow feathers.

“I got the contract?” A tremor of hope shook through him.

“You…my favorite client, most certainly did!” Her glee cut through the silence on the balcony. The man at the other table glared their way. She dismissed him with an eye-roll sending his attention back to his tablet.

Signing a publishing contract large enough to push his blog to the national level was vital to his plan, without it, he would be at ground zero. The contents of the folder between them would tell him if all of it was worth it.

He skimmed the cover letter. Four years of blogging about everything from politicians to celebrities to get the attention of publishers. Now to see if they would pay him enough to walk off into the sunset. He rubbed his hands together before reaching for the document.

He hid the slight quiver of his hand by moving the glass aside, clearing a path to read. Had he achieved step one in his plan? Would he garner a big payday and execute his first tactical move against the Dark Spider?

“But, it’s not quite what we talked about.” She placed a hand over the answer to his prayers.

“You begged me to trust you with negotiating this contract.” He froze, the soft chatter of the crowded restaurant scores the soundtrack of his personal dooms day. He wiped at the bead of sweat running down his forehead, his eyes squint.

Would he regret his decision?

“Don’t give me that look. You started a bidding war.”

The churning and agitation he felt evaporated as she lifted her hand. He picked up the contract and got lost in the words on the pages.

The arrival of their food pulled Nick from reading. He was starving. His anxious nerves made it hard to eat once he talked with Olivia a few days ago.

Olivia bowed her head to pray, and he waited to hear her whisper Amen.

“So what’s the catch?”

Her fork was suspended in mid-air with a piece of melon on the end. Her eyes darted not making contact with his. He was hopeful but he didn’t expect the next phase of his plan to happen without resistance.

“There’s good news and bad news. Which do you want first?” She straighten in her chair, her back stiff. Business Olivia was ready.

“Take it from the top and leave nothing out.”  He grabbed the napkin roll. The utensils tumbled into his free hand, he placed them on the table and spread his napkin across his lap.

Olivia explained the details of an amazing deal. He listened as he inhaled his omelette.

“Your proposal started a bidding war and the best deal, by a long shot is with HST Flix.”

Nick whistled, lowering his fork with an unsteady hand. HST Flix streamed and produced original horror, suspense and thriller films. “But I’m pitching a book.”

“Good news: They want to buy the exclusive film rights.”

“Film rights, what about the book?”

“The publisher and the studio are offering a revolutionary deal.” She leaned closer to the table. “The contract is for Secrets, the book and movie, with the first right of refusal for Confidential.”

“What?” He pushed his plate forward unable to take another bite. Nick couldn’t stop the questions tumbling around in his head. “Why Secrets when we’re shopping Confidential?”

“They want to start with book one to create an audience for book two and three.”

“Book three?” He hadn’t considered writing a third book. Staying alive after the world reads his book consumed him.

“I had to bait them.” She winked and resumed eating.

His body tensed. I had to bait them. That was his plan too. He doubted whether he had enough content for more than one project.

“I figured it took you three years to write the first book. So, with research and interviews I believe requesting a few years to write is reasonable.”

“Three years? You must be crazy. It would take five easily, eight on the high end.” He leaned back in his chair, arms cross, his notorious friend time rearing its head. “So what’s the bad news?”

Olivia used the napkin to wipe the corners of her mouth before tossing it beside her plate. “They want Confidential, editor approved in nine months.”

“Nine months!” The man at the table next to them shot daggers in their direction. Nick didn’t care. “Are you crazy? Do you know how much work that will require?”

janese-dixon_2018“Hey, you asked for this deal and I’m giving it to you.” Her silver eyes flashed like lightning as she thrust her finger in his direction.

“How many figures are we talking?” He leaned back. It all hinged on the paycheck.

“Seven guaranteed with points on the movie and five once you sign the contract.”

He whistled.

“I’m in.” This deal would set him up for life. But could he do it in less than a year?

“I knew you would.” Her sweet-as-pie smile teetered on the line of sinister. “There are two bonuses one at the signing of your contract, the other with your submission. To ensure you meet the deadlines I think you should hire an assistant.”

Olivia reached in her bag and pulled out another manilla envelope and passed it to him.

“I don’t need an assistant, I have the guys.” Jackson his tech guy and Drake his researcher made up his team.

“We’d hire this assistant specifically for this project. Nick you can’t play around with this deal. It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I know her, she does great work.”

“You’re offering a personal recommendation?” That was a first.

“Yes. Her name is Kailei Rhodes. She is ex-military and skilled to assist with your research and update your author platform. We all know your blog is top notch and the industry standard. But your personal author platforms are lacking.”

“I’ll think about it.”

“Nick, please consider it.”

“Olivia. I said I’d think about it.” His voice dropped, done with this conversation.

This is what he got for working with friends. The color in her face shifted to a bright pink as she twisted the edge of her linen napkin between her fingers. The face she gets when she’s flustered.

He had no plans on hiring another somebody to add to his list of responsibilities. Not another somebody he’d expose. His heart could not bear it.

The breeze stilled, the voices around them faded. He asked and she delivered. But could he do deliver the book in nine months?

He pictured the affirmations taped to his mirror.

You are more than a conqueror.

Success is my middle name.

And then—Who better to bet on than Nicholas Hunt?

He’d find a way. Her deadline had just loaded his gun with five bullets and one blank: reverse Russian roulette.


About The Author

JaNese-Dixon_2018Ja’Nese Dixon pens tales of romance in various subgenres. But her favorites are the ones that manage to keep readers sitting on the edge of their seats lying to themselves about reading “just one more chapter”.

She is an avid reader and coffee drinker living in Houston, Texas with her husband and three children. Visit her at http://www.janesedixon.com.

Contact Ja’Nese:

Website: www.janesedixon.com

 Amazon Page: http://amazon.com/author/janesedixon

 BookBub: http://www.bookbub.com/authors/ja-nese-dixon

 Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/authorjanesedixon

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

 Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/authorjanesedixon

 


Gang, please join me in thanking Ja’Nese for sharing these authorly insights with us.

Click HERE to order your copy of Death & Damages TODAY and read the rest of this great story when it is released in the Death & Damages boxed set!

ORDER YOUR COPY NOW!

Danger lurks around every corner as these courageous cops, adventurous agents, and daring detectives hunt for the answers to stop the crimes by vicious killers.

But what if the damage is already done?

Inside these pages, you’ll find 25 adventures full of captivating conundrums, hair-raising homicides, and suspenseful secrets from today’s USA Today & Wall Street Journal bestselling and award-winning authors.

Become a private investigator yourself when you inspect plots of deadly assassins, cold-blooded killers, and bone-chilling suspense inside the pages of DEATH AND DAMAGES, an enthralling mystery and thriller boxed set.

Fans of Lee Child, James Patterson, Gillian Flynn, Paula Hawkins, and John Grisham will devour these puzzling mysteries and gripping thrillers.

Including Stories From…

  • New York Times bestselling author Patricia Loofbourrow
  • USA Today bestselling author Pauline Creeden
  • USA Today bestselling author John Ling
  • Award-Winning author Alexa Padgett
  • Siera London
  • USA Today bestselling author Shereen Vedam
  • Multi-Award-Winning author, Deborah Shlian
  • USA Today bestselling author Kelly Hashway
  • USA Today bestselling author JB Michaels
  • Maggie Carpenter
  • USA Today bestselling author Tiana Laveen
  • Angela Sanders
  • Award-Winning author Karen M. Bryson
  • Aime Austin
  • Lisa B. Thomas
  • USA Today bestselling author Fiona Quinn
  • Kerry J Donovan
  • Jane Blythe
  • Bestselling author Dan Alatorre
  • USA Today bestselling authors Muffy Wilson and Dariel Raye
  • Ja’Nese Dixon
  • USA Today bestselling author Terry Keys
  • Bill Hargenrader
  • Wall Street Journal bestselling author Judith Lucci
  • Award-Winning author Maria Grazia Swan

SNEAK PEEK Judith Lucci’s “Beach Traffic”

IMG_4792I am thrilled to have been invited to participate in the “Death & Damages” box set anthology with a stable of talented bestselling authors like the one you are about to meet.

These amazing writers have graciously agreed to let my blog readers share in an exclusive interview AND get a sneak peek at the book they have contributed to the Death & Damages box set – 25 stories for 99 cents!

Today, Judith Lucci, author of “Beach Traffic”

Here’s Judith.


29244563_10210450276645922_3230944039513961848_n

Hey Dan!

Thank you so much for inviting me to your blog. I’m so excited to be part of the Death and Damages anthology and meet another group of talented authors! As some of you may know, I write medical thrillers, crime thrillers and cozy mysteries. I also write romantic suspense. I love working with anthologies and boxed set because it allows me time to meet new people and find new readers! Hopefully, I’ll meet some of you!

One of the things I do is a writer is try to get social issues to the foreground. For instance, in my crime fiction set, Michaela McPherson Mysteries, I feature a police dog, a retired canine from the Richmond city police. His name is Angel and he is a central character in the Mic series. I feature Angel because I want my readers to know just how valuable these animals are, particularly to the police, the military and modern medicine. In my next medical thriller, book 7 of the Alexandra Destephano medical thriller series, I’ll have a medical dog who saves lives.

Tell us a little about the book you contributed to Death and Damages

Manhattan BeachMy contribution to Death and Damages is a new book which may become a series. It’s titled Beach Traffic and, quite frankly, it’s focused on the numbers of men, women and children who are human trafficked out of the United States each year and sold into slavery, placed in harems, sold as sexual slaves and placed in toxic work environments. The book features FBI agent Jane Anders, and CIA agent Paul Servo, both longtime operatives and protectors of human rights. I like these characters quite a bit and if the book does well, I’ll turn it into another crime series.. The book is close to 70,000 words and excited about it’s release in Death and Damages this fall.

What’s your writing process?

I write generally every morning when my brain is as uncluttered as possible.  Sometimes I write outside on my deckif it’s not too hot, sometimes in my living room and at other times in my office. I’m always joined by my four dogs who keep me company by snoring the morning away. My goal for each day is 3,000 words. Sometimes I do more, oftentimes I do less.

Do you do ever work with other authors?

newovelsI often collaborate with other authors. This summer I released a boxed set of cozy mysteries, Summer Snoops and Cozy Crimes that benefited non-kill animal shelters. The authors donated all profits to the shelters. So far, we’ve sold over 16,000 books and remain a number one bestseller on Amazon six weeks after the book released. Summer Snoops allowed me a wonderful opportunity to meet new authors. I’m currently involved with a 21 Volume collection of new, never-published Romantic Suspense entitled Love Under Fire This set releases on Veterans Day and the profits for this set will go to the national charity Pets for Vets. The authors in Love Under Fire want to help veterans live better lives and want to save the lives of animals. This set is clearly a win-win. This book is available for purchase on all platforms.

What about daily goals?

As I said earlier, I write every morning. My goal is 3000 words a day. I have a group of beta readers who critique my work and give me honest, often brutal feedback. I honestly don’t know what I would do without them.

Who do you use for covers?

Judith Lucci-Destephano FB Ads (47)My covers are designed by Margaret Daly of Margaret Daly Designs. Margaret just gets it when I tell her about what I want for cover. I’m so happy to have her. I work very hard on my blurb and tagline. I think those are critical to the success of any book. They have to be exciting and hook the reader into buying the book!

Any tips you want to pass along?

I thought I’d tell you a few things about me and what motivates me to write. Firstly, I love to read and for me reading after a hard day of writing is my payoff. I love thrillers, mysteries, and romantic suspense. I’m currently reading Liliana Hart and Leslie Wolf and Mary Burton. I write very much like these three outstanding women, so I love to read their stories. I don’t have one favorite author, but rather a lot of favorite authors. I also love historical fiction and Jana Petken, an Indy author who lives in Spain is one of my favorites. For cozy mysteries, I love the work of Cindy Bell and Anna Celeste Burke. From a romance perspective, I enjoy Suzanne Jenkins, Tamara Ferguson and Fiona Quinn.

What are you up to when you aren’t writing?

My hobbies include my animals and my art. I’m a dedicated animal lover-ask anyone. I also love children. I can’t imagine sitting around my house without a dog or cat in my lap. My animals are with me when I write and when I paint.  In short, they’re with me all the time.

I have several items on my bucket list. The first is to spend six months on the Spanish coast. I love spaying and I taught in Europe for many years. If I could figure out a truly safe way to get my animals to Spain, I’d be there. My dogs are older and are a short-nose breed, so I can’t fly them there. Maybe we’ll be able to find a ship.

I’m a registered nurse, college professor and former hospital administrator. Many of the scenes in my medical thrillers are true experiences that occurred over my 30 years of clinical practice. I’ve co-authored several medical surgical nursing textbooks, published numerous research articles and concept papers. I can assure you that making up stuff and writing the down is a lot more fun! I love to write fiction intermingled with my lifelong experiences in hospitals and kill people creatively using my knowledge of medications and medical equipment.

Wow, that’s a lot!

Any parting words?

Please buy Love Under Fire and help us give veterans and pets better lives. Also, you must buy Death and Damages because it’s an extraordinary group of authors who absolutely write great stuff! The link is below. Just think about it for only a dollar you can have about two dozen brand-new, never published novel to read all winter. It’s supposed to be a snowy season and you already have your blizzard reads (or your rain reads, depending on where you live).

Many thanks for having me on your blog, Dan.

You are very welcome!


* EXCLUSIVE SNEAK PEEK *

Beach Traffic

Judith Lucci

Fall Beach Reunion Turns Deadly for Many

Graduate student Kat Benson was excited about seeing her college boyfriend, heartthrob Liam Cross, at their Tulane University reunion on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Kat’s childhood friend, Heidi is looking for great sex and a fantastic weekend hookup. Federal and local law enforcement officials are concerned about a vicious murder on the beach and the disappearance of five women.

Chapter 1

The Egyptian and the short squatty American sat in cheap, woven aluminum chairs that overlooked the smooth waters of the Outer Banks Barrier Islands. The sun hung low in the horizon and a magnificent sunset was moments away. Neither man cared or even noticed.

Aapo el-Masri was a former Egyptian Seaman. He currently worked for one of the many members of the Saudi Royal family who enriched their coffers on the backs of women and children. Aapo picked up the hose of his hookah and inhaled deeply.

He smiled to himself. Life was good. He prided himself on being an independent contractor. He owned his yacht, hired his   officers, and delivered his cargo on time. Aapo was currently worth millions of dollars and if things went his way, he’d make millions more before he retired in the United States in a few years. He loved the West and the American lifestyle. His goal was to live it, but in the meantime, he’d do whatever he had to do to get there

Aapo smiled as he eyed his one-hundred-and-fifty-foot-yacht moored in the water a hundred yards away. The ship was hidden in the shadows of the island and by trees a hundred yards away. It was his ship and he was proud of it. His dark eyes slid to one side as he surveyed the man next to him. He could hardly believe he’d agreed to work with such an illiterate beast. The man was vulgar, ill-mannered, rude and irritating. He was also ugly. He personified everything people around the world hated about Americans. Squatty was loud, bossy, arrogant, crude and basically stupid. Plus, he couldn’t even speak correct English. Aapo el-Masri’s language skills were a million times better than the American. Squatty was a gun for hire for organized crime and struck el-Masri as the kind of man who worked for the Mafia. Unfortunately, Aapo and Squatty needed each other – Aapo needed good-looking guys and drugs and Squatty wanted women. It was a relationship of convenience that worked.

The American talked non-stop, slurped his beer and belched as Aapo nodded his head slowly and sucked on his hooka tip. He watched his ship rise and fall in the wake of the quiet sea. She was a beauty and from this distance, he didn’t have to listen to the cries that assaulted his ears when he was on board. Of course, he really couldn’t ‘hear’ them since the ship had millions of dollars of sound-proofing materials.  He also had a secret hidey hole beneath the lower deck where he stashed women who wouldn’t conform. If that didn’t work, he tossed them overboard into the dark, cold Atlantic. God forbid if he were ever boarded by the United States Coast Guard, one branch of the American service that turned his blood to ice. He’d had a close call just a few days ago.

“Are you listening to me? You, I’m talking to you, Raghead.” Squatty reached out and grabbed Aapo’s shoulder. “You, yes you, turban-top.” His voice was loud and whiny. Aapo hated the northeastern dialect of the United States and Squatty hailed from New York.

Aapo gritted his teeth but held his temper. His voice was quiet. “Of course, I am. What other choice do I have?” He shrugged his shoulders indifferently.  It took every inch of Aapo el-Masri’s patience not to reach over and rip out the stupid man’s heart. His fingers twitched in anticipation as his brain lit up with warmth at the thought. He imagined the man’s life blood spilled on the sand.

“Okay then, repeat it then,” the short man whined. “You know you don’t know.”

Aapo rose. His height and build were impressive. He stood over six feet four inches. His body was rippled from exercise and hard work. He glared down at the American. “We are ready for tomorrow night. I expect to see you at the assigned places along the way and throughout the evening with handsome men and beautiful women you’ve been tasked to gather.”

Even though the sun was setting, Aapo saw the short man roll his eyes and shake his head as though the Egyptian was an imbecile.

Aapo el-Masri’s blood boiled but he continued. “I expect things to go perfectly. If they do, I will be back in two weeks and we will do this again. Do you understand?” Aapo knew his tone was cold and arrogant but he didn’t like the little weasel American.

The short man stood. His beady eyes glared as he looked up at the handsome Egyptian. “Things will go well, as planned. But I will not work with you again. You are stupid.”

Aapo looked down at the obnoxious little man. “It would be my pleasure to never see you again. I don’t want you or your kind to help us in this business. We have turned our work into a trillion dollar a year business. However, we will need each other. You’ll see.”

The American sneered at him. “You need me. You don’t have my contacts. You could never recruit people to help you.”

Aapo remained silent. He knew the weasel was right.

Squatty stood.  “Remember, one woman is for me. I will take her to do as I please.”

“That is understood.” The Egyptian sneered at him, turned his head towards the sound of an engine. “How fortunate. Your transportation has arrived.”

The American nodded. “I will see you soon at the allotted place tomorrow evening. “Don’t screw up.” The threat was obvious. “Be sure there are no police around.”

The Egyptian chortled. “I assure you that if either of us makes a mistake we’ll both be history.” He lit a cigarette and inhaled deeply as the squatty man walked towards the Jeep that waited for him.

He shook his head. What an unbearable, repugnant moron.

Aapo-el-Masri promised himself he’d never work with the man again. Even if he had to kill him himself.

Chapter 2

The man waved the knife through the air like a child’s toy. It glistened in the moonlight. He murmured to himself. His speech was garbled, unclear. His victim, helpless and still, wondered if it was a ritual but mostly she was paralyzed with fright. Her eyes blazed with terror and shock.  The knife gleamed and reflected in the moonlight. For a moment, she was mesmerized by the shiny instrument of terror.

The maniac jerked the knife downward. It sluiced through the air.  He glared into her eyes as she felt pain sear through her body. Her mouth gaped open and her body flexed in protest. A soundless scream pierced the air. The woman’s lips parted, and her face contorted in agony but there was no sound.

The man looked at her, “Oh, did you feel that, my dear? Let me try another one. Your drug must be wearing off.”

He locked eyes with the young woman, her eyes gaping pools of agony as he slit her thigh with his knife. Then he held the weapon over her face and let the blood drip off on to her forehead and chest. Even paralyzed, she imagined the warmth of her blood on her face and as it rushed over her thighs.

The man moved his position and kneeled in the sand next to her shoulder. He whispered in her ear. “I don’t rape women. I don’t like to do that. I just like to hurt them.”

The woman’s eyes dilated with panic as she acknowledged her fate. She wished now she’d called her family earlier in the evening.  Seconds later she was thankfully unconscious as the man went about his gory work.


About The Author

About Judith Lucci: Dr. Judith Lucci is a USA today and Wall Street Journal best selling author. She is the author of the award-winning Alexandra Distefano medical thriller series and the Michaela Michaela McPherson crime series. Last year she won a gold medal for best political thriller violent tent, book 3 in her medical series, and the case of Dr. dude book one in the Michaela McPherson series. She lives with her family in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia and on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. She loves to connect with readers and writers.

Contact judith:

I’d love to know each of you better. Please visit my website at www.JudithLucci.com and join my mailing list for free book. Also, if you follow me on book Bubba, I’ll send you a copy of my first medical thriller.


Gang, please join me in thanking Judith for sharing these authorly insights with us.

Click HERE to order your copy of Death & Damages TODAY and read the rest of this great story when it is released in the Death & Damages boxed set!

ORDER YOUR COPY NOW!

Danger lurks around every corner as these courageous cops, adventurous agents, and daring detectives hunt for the answers to stop the crimes by vicious killers.

But what if the damage is already done?

Inside these pages, you’ll find 25 adventures full of captivating conundrums, hair-raising homicides, and suspenseful secrets from today’s USA Today & Wall Street Journal bestselling and award-winning authors.

Become a private investigator yourself when you inspect plots of deadly assassins, cold-blooded killers, and bone-chilling suspense inside the pages of DEATH AND DAMAGES, an enthralling mystery and thriller boxed set.

Fans of Lee Child, James Patterson, Gillian Flynn, Paula Hawkins, and John Grisham will devour these puzzling mysteries and gripping thrillers.

Including Stories From…

  • New York Times bestselling author Patricia Loofbourrow
  • USA Today bestselling author Pauline Creeden
  • USA Today bestselling author John Ling
  • Award-Winning author Alexa Padgett
  • Siera London
  • USA Today bestselling author Shereen Vedam
  • Multi-Award-Winning author, Deborah Shlian
  • USA Today bestselling author Kelly Hashway
  • USA Today bestselling author JB Michaels
  • Maggie Carpenter
  • USA Today bestselling author Tiana Laveen
  • Angela Sanders
  • Award-Winning author Karen M. Bryson
  • Aime Austin
  • Lisa B. Thomas
  • USA Today bestselling author Fiona Quinn
  • Kerry J Donovan
  • Jane Blythe
  • Bestselling author Dan Alatorre
  • USA Today bestselling authors Muffy Wilson and Dariel Raye
  • Ja’Nese Dixon
  • USA Today bestselling author Terry Keys
  • Bill Hargenrader
  • Wall Street Journal bestselling author Judith Lucci
  • Award-Winning author Maria Grazia Swan

HERE are your Horror Anthology COVER Finalists!

11 and 12 side by side

After much howling and gnashing of teeth, we derived two covers for you to choose from.

 

By virtue of their numbers, 11 and 12, you can correctly surmise that there were more than a dozen renditions of this.

There are very subtle differences between the two.

Very.

Subtle.

  • Higher clouds.
  • Lower clouds.
  • Blue clouds?

Can we see the eyes more???

(no)

BUT!

 

In the end, these were the best, so which is the best of the best?

 

For those of you who are excited, you may express your enthusiasm by sharing the info about this cover with all your friends and see what they think as they help us choose THE absolute best one.

If you can’t choose, then use 11 (because I like it best) and SHARE it with all your friends to help us generate some buzz. This amazing anthology is coming out very soon!

Here’s 11, solo.

Because I like it best.

Dark Visions eBook cover v 11 probably final

SNEAK PEEK Jane Blythe’s “Burning Secrets”

IMG_4791I am thrilled to have been invited to participate in the “Death & Damages” box set anthology with a stable of talented bestselling authors like the one you are about to meet.

These amazing writers have graciously agreed to let my blog readers share in an exclusive interview AND get a sneak peek at the book they have contributed to the Death & Damages box set – 25 stories for 99 cents!

Today, we sit down with Jane Blythe, author of “Burning Secrets”


DAN: Tell my readers briefly about the story you are contributing to the Death & Damages anthology. What inspired your story?

Gmail picture
author Jane Blythe

JANE BLYTHE: Burning Secrets is a story about a family who all had secrets who were murdered. One of the detectives working the case has recently adopted two little girls after an attack by a stalker left her unable to have children of her own. The family in her case also had adopted daughters and her fears about being a mother and one day losing her children start to get the best of her.

What inspired this story?

This book has the same characters as my Count to Ten series, and throughout the course of writing that series a character who was always intended to be a secondary character kept shoving herself forward! I thought she really needed a book o her own especially since she now has the family she had dreamed about for so long, I felt they all needed there time to shine!

How long of a piece is it?

Burning Secrets is approximately 45,000 words

Tell me a little bit about you. Where do you do your writing?

Usually when I write I sit on the couch with my two Dalmatians one on either side of me, laptop on my lap, with a favorite TV show, one I’ve seen before so its not too distracted, playing in the background.

What does writing success look like to you?

BURNING SECRETS ebookWriting books that people love! And secondary to that being able to make a living writing so that I can do what I love!

Do you ever collaborate with others?

I’m currently working on a book with a friend, we’re hoping to turn it into a series releasing one book a year, so far we’re about half way through the first draft

Tell me a little bit about your process. What is the path from idea to finished story? Do you use critique partners? Do you have a favorite editor?

I start out by writing my story in approximately 50 words, this helps me know exactly what the main plot is. Then I write my story in approximately 250 words, this helps me know the secondary story threads. Then I plot it out scene by scene, this helps me make sure I space out my information reveals so I don’t do an info dump, it helps me see any plot holes, and makes sure the story flows. Then I write my first draft, send it to my beta reader team, do my editing making any necessary changes, then it goes off to my amazing editing team, Mitzi Carroll and Marisa Nichols. When it comes back to me I always give it one final read through!

Count to Ten cover photo 1

What do you do for your cover? It’s always hard to find a good cover. How do you find yours, or the artwork?

I have an amazing cover designer, Amy Queau, who does all my covers for me! Sometimes I have an idea of what I’d like and she works with me to make it a reality, other times I just give her the title and let her go for it!

What about your blurb and tagline? What is your process for arriving at a really killer tagline and then a blurb that makes readers want to buy the book?

I usually go back to my 50 word story summary and take something from there for my tagline, and use my 250 word story summary to help me write my blurb. I usually ask a few people what they think of the blurb to see how engaging it is, often in my reader group

Is being a writer a gift or a curse?

A gift! Being able to weave a story that takes people out of their regular life and transport them to another world is an amazing thing to do!

How do you choose character names?

Thankfully most of main characters come to me with names because I hate naming characters!! For secondary characters I either ask my readers to pick names or I go on one of those top baby name websites and just randomly choose names!

How often do you write?

I write every day, unless I’m editing a book. If I don’t stick with writing at least one scene a day I get out of the habit of writing and I find it really hard to get back into it. So I set myself the goal of writing a scene a day, sometimes I’ll write two or three or even four or five, but so long as I get my one scene in I’m happy!

Besides writing, what are your favorite things to do?

Reading of course, and playing with my dogs, I also love to bake! I particularly enjoying decorating cakes and am the official cake maker for all family birthdays and Christmas!

How long did it/does it take you to write a first draft of a novel?

Depending on the length of the book and how many scenes if has, anywhere from two months if I only write one scene a day for an 80,000-100,000 word book, to about two or three weeks if I write a couple of scenes a day for a 60,000-70,000 word book.

Plotter? Or Pantser? And prepare to defend your position!

Plotter!!!!! All the way!! I have OCD and so my brain is very organised, for me planning is the only way I can write. I have a very detailed system that works for me and I couldn’t imagine writing without it. Sometimes there might be small things that I’m not sure of all the details but I have to know the main story, beginning, middle, and end, and how the scenes will play out. For me doing a detailed plan means I rarely have to do much editing because I’m able to work out any plot holes or problems in the panning stage so that when I start writing I’m able to just get going and write!

Coffee addict? Name your poison.

No coffee for me, I hate it, even the smell of it, but I am a huge fan of Diet Coke and might possibly be a little addicted to it!

What’s your favorite food?

Chocolate! #chocoholic

Count to Ten fun teaser

I hear you have some very exciting news! Can you share it with us?

My Count to Ten series, which has the same characters as Burning Secrets my book for the Death and Damages box set, has just been picked up by an Italian publisher, so the books will be getting translated and published in Italian!!

How did you choose the genre you write in? Or did it choose you?

I think it chose me! I’ve always been interested in psychology and the way the mind works, and why we do the things we do, so I think that drew me to the mystery/thriller/suspense genre, as I really love thinking about why my villains do what they do. And because I’m also interested in the journeys of the victims and how they rebuild their lives and find their own way to move on, for me it was a natural progression to combine the crime genre with the romance one, so I write romantic suspense!


* EXCLUSIVE SNEAK PREVIEW *

Burning Secrets

Jane Blythe

Silence could be the loudest—and most frightening—sound there was.

It was full of unknowns, and the more time you spent in it, the louder it got.

She carefully eased open the back door and crept inside.

It squeaked a little as she pushed it closed behind her, and she froze. Her ears strained for any signs that someone had heard her. If she was found sneaking into the house in the middle of the night, her life would be over.

Several seconds ticked by and nothing.

BURNING SECRETS ebookNo footsteps sounded, no lights switched on, no one appeared.

She was safe.

For now, at least, but tackling the stairs was going to be a lot harder; the house was old, and those things creaked if you looked at them wrong.

Step by painstakingly slow step, she crossed the kitchen, then began the even slower climb up the stairs. This wasn’t the first time she’d done this, so she knew which steps were the noisiest, and where the best place was to put her foot on each one to avoid the creaks and groans.

There was always the temptation to rush, but this was a case of slow and steady wins the race. It took close to ten minutes, but finally, she had made it all the way upstairs and into her bedroom. She closed the door, then leaned back against it and sighed in relief.

The longer she kept sneaking out after everyone else went to bed, the higher the chances that she would eventually get caught. Was that going to stop her? No way. If it was the only way she could get what she wanted, then she was going to keep doing it.

Besides, she kind of liked the adrenalin rush.

She liked to live life on the edge; it excited her, and she hated to be bored. Excitement was the spice of life, and she liked her life very spicy. Taking risks was as common to her as breathing; the bigger the risk, the better. Her mind was constantly spinning thinking up new ideas, new ways to push the envelope. Sooner or later she’d end up crashing and burning, but why worry today about something that wouldn’t happen until tomorrow?

It was her motto for life.

If she wasn’t scheming or plotting, then she may as well be dead.

Smirking to herself, she tiptoed to the en suite. She might be in the safety of her bedroom, but there were still several people in the house, and any one of them might be awake and hear her walking about. Her family was a nosy bunch, and if someone heard her up and about, they were likely to come and find out why.

She brushed her teeth, shimmied out of her clothes—leaving them where they fell—then stepped into her favorite pair of pajamas and ran a brush through her hair. On her way to bed, she paused to run a hand over her Halloween costume. There was only ever one person she went as, a character who was just like her, the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland. She’d loved the over-the-top, irrational, unreasonable queen and her off-with-their heads mentality ever since she could remember. When she was little, and all her friends were playing Disney princesses, she always gravitated toward the villains. Why be the good girl when you could be the bad guy? Bad guys always had so much more fun.

A giant yawn nearly split her head in two. She needed to sleep.

Leaving the costume hanging on the closet door, she went and climbed into bed and snuggled under the covers. Although it was nearly November, the weather was still warm during the day. It was only when the sun set and night came that you knew winter was just around the corner.

Her eyes were just starting to fall closed when she heard something that nudged her out of her half-asleep haze.

What was that?

It sounded like glass shattering.

Was someone else up and about tonight?

That was her first thought, and her second was how much had they seen? Not everything she did was something that she wanted to be public knowledge. In fact, most of what she did wasn’t something that she wanted to be public knowledge. She was about to get up and see who’d been snooping on her personal business when she both heard another sound and saw something.

Her irritation was quickly replaced by fear.

The sound was a crackling noise, and there was an orangey red glow outside her window.

Fire.

Was the house on fire?

The house was on fire.

On fire!

She was dreaming.

Yes.

That was it.

That had to be it.

Touching her fingers to her arm, she pinched herself as hard as she could, and yelped at the accompanying sting of pain.

She wasn’t asleep.

Maybe she was just imagining the sound of the flames.

Yes.

Yes.

Imagining things.

She did have an overactive imagination, as anyone who knew her would attest to.

On badly shaking legs, she wobbled her way from the bed to the window.

When she looked out, her brain still didn’t want to believe what it was seeing.

There were flames everywhere, and they were rapidly claiming more of the house with every second that ticked by.

She was going to die.

She was going to die.

She was going to die.

Her brain was stuck on that one thought. It couldn’t process anything else. It couldn’t try to move. It couldn’t formulate a plan. It could barely remember to breathe.

Breathe.

It wasn’t until that moment that she realized the room was already filling with smoke.

The fire shouldn’t be spreading this quickly, should it?

What did that mean?

“Eeeee!” she keened aloud. She was losing it. Burned alive was a horrible way to die. The best she could hope for was for the smoke to get her first.

The flames dancing around her house were mesmerizing.

Hypnotizing.

She couldn’t take her eyes off them.

They twisted and turned and leaped about, as though merrily enjoying a party. Only the party was her impending death.

“Hey.”

A hand clamped on her shoulder, and she let out a startled shriek.

“It’s me,” a hoarse voice whispered, and she relaxed.

Did it make her a horrible person if she was glad she wasn’t alone? She knew that meant that she wasn’t the only one who was going to lose their life tonight, but dying alone was everyone’s fear, right?

“Let’s go.” He put his hands on her arm and began to pull her toward the door.

He was right.

They had to go.

And yet for some reason, her feet disagreed.

They wouldn’t move.

It was like they’d been glued to the carpet.

“Come on,” he urged, tugging harder on her arm.

Her feet still didn’t move, but he was bigger than her, and his weight was enough to get her off balance and drag her along behind him as he staggered for the door.

As soon as they stepped out into the hall, her breath was stolen from her, and she broke out into an uncontrollable fit of coughing as her lungs protested the sudden onslaught of smoke. The others were out here too, down on their knees, coughing and wheezing, the sound rising above the crackling flames and adding to her growing fear.

Now that they were in the hall, the reality of how close she was to death became horrifyingly real.

The fire was everywhere.

Everywhere.

It was advancing quickly and was much more prepared for this war than they were. How were they going to get out?

They weren’t.

She knew that, but she was still clinging to denial.

Hope was a precious thing, an important thing, a vital thing. Without it, failure was inevitable, but as long as you clung to hope, there was always a chance.

So that was what she did. She grabbed hold of it with both hands and refused to loosen her grip.

The smoke was so thick out here that she could barely see more than a foot or so in front of her. It was like fog, and the only thing that cut through it were the flames.

She felt like she was trapped in hell.

A hand on her head pushed her down low. She’d forgotten that you were supposed to do that if you were trapped in a fire. The smoke rises, so the closer you stayed to the floor, the better your chances were of surviving.

Not that she thought their chances of surviving were very high.

As soon as she got down on all fours, she dragged in several ragged mouthfuls of the marginally clearer air, filling her lungs in preparation of what was coming next.

They all headed for the stairs, which were already partially consumed. The fire was spreading so fast. Like someone had doused the house in an accelerant then struck a match and thrown it in.

That was probably what had happened.

Who had done it, she had no idea, nor did it really matter. She was dead regardless.

Slithering along on her belly like a snake, she thumped painfully down each step. She couldn’t see, so she kept bumping her elbows painfully into either the wall or the railings as she tried to avoid the fire as it curled out toward her, trying to snag her in its burning grip. The heat was unbearable, and several times she got precariously close to the flames that were looking for any chance to latch on to her.

Somehow, against all odds, they made it down the stairs.

It was hard to find a safe path through the flames, but she had only one goal: make it to the back door. The door where less than an hour ago she had crept quietly through, hoping that no one heard her.

Now she wanted someone to hear her; she wanted someone to come.

The roaring inferno the house had become would no doubt have woken the neighbors, and she had no doubt that help was coming. Just like she had no doubt it would arrive too late. If she was going to be saved, it would be because she saved herself.

Remaining on her stomach now, she clawed at the floorboards with her fingernails to keep going. Every movement was an effort now.

Her body was sluggish.

Her brain too.

But now that she was so close, she was spurred on.

Her breath wheezed in and out of her chest; her eyes stung, and tears streamed down her cheeks. Her head pounded with a vicious headache, and she was coughing so much that it hampered her ability to move.

But she made it.

She made it to the door.

She wasn’t sure how, but she managed to lever herself up onto her knees, and her hands flew like magnets to the handle, and although it was hot and burned her palms, she barely felt it. Gone was fear. Gone for the moment was pain. All she wanted was to get out of this burning, smoke-filled hell and out into the fresh air.

Her hand turned, but nothing happened.

The door didn’t open.

She leaned against it, letting her weight push against it, but still, nothing.

Whoever had set the fire had obviously made sure that they wouldn’t be escaping.

They were trapped.

They were dead.

“No!” she screamed, banging her fists on the door.

It was so unfair.

She had done the impossible and made it through the fire to the door, and now she couldn’t get through it. There was no way she could make it all the way through the house to the front door. Even if she could, she probably wouldn’t be able to get through it anyway.

Exhausted, she sank down against the floor.

There was no reprieve from the heat now. It was stifling; the smoke was thick, and there was virtually no oxygen left in the house.

It wouldn’t be long.

Her eyelids were too heavy to hold open, and her chest hurt from wheezing so badly.

The flames were licking at her.

Then suddenly, they latched onto her pajama pants.

She gasped in pain as they quickly chewed through the thin material and began to burn through the flesh on her leg.

The pain was unlike anything she’d ever experienced, but it gave her already teetering mind the push it needed to fall into the abyss of unconsciousness.

Her final thought was that it seemed only fitting that she go out in a manner befitting the villains she had always associated so closely with.

She was going down in flames.


About The Author

photo-146

Jane has loved reading and writing since she can remember. She writes dark and disturbing crime/mystery/suspense with some romance thrown in because, well, who doesn’t love romance?! She has several series including the complete Detective Parker Bell series, the Count to Ten series, the Christmas Romantic Suspense series, and the Flashes of Fate series of novelettes.

When she’s not writing Jane loves to read, bake, go to the beach, ski, horse ride, and watch Disney movies. She has a black belt in Taekwondo, a 200+ collection of teddy bears, and her favorite color is pink. She has the world’s two most sweet and pretty Dalmatians, Ivory and Pearl. Oh, and she also enjoys spending time with family and friends!

Connect with Jane

Amazon – http://www.amazon.com/Jane-Blythe/e/B00J7LHUV0/

BookBub – https://www.bookbub.com/authors/jane-blythe

Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/janeblytheauthor

Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6574160.Jane_Blythe

Instagram – http://www.instagram.com/jane_blythe_author

Newsletter – http://eepurl.com/cymhDT

Reader Group – http://www.facebook.com/groups/janeskillersweethearts

Twitter – http://www.twitter.com/jblytheauthor

Website – http://www.janeblythe.com.au


Gang, please join me in thanking Jane for sharing these authorly insights with us.

Click HERE to order your copy of Death & Damages TODAY and read the rest of this great story when it is released in the Death & Damages boxed set!

ORDER YOUR COPY NOW!

Danger lurks around every corner as these courageous cops, adventurous agents, and daring detectives hunt for the answers to stop the crimes by vicious killers.

But what if the damage is already done?

Inside these pages, you’ll find 25 adventures full of captivating conundrums, hair-raising homicides, and suspenseful secrets from today’s USA Today & Wall Street Journal bestselling and award-winning authors.

Become a private investigator yourself when you inspect plots of deadly assassins, cold-blooded killers, and bone-chilling suspense inside the pages of DEATH AND DAMAGES, an enthralling mystery and thriller boxed set.

Fans of Lee Child, James Patterson, Gillian Flynn, Paula Hawkins, and John Grisham will devour these puzzling mysteries and gripping thrillers.

Including Stories From…

  • New York Times bestselling author Patricia Loofbourrow
  • USA Today bestselling author Pauline Creeden
  • USA Today bestselling author John Ling
  • Award-Winning author Alexa Padgett
  • Siera London
  • USA Today bestselling author Shereen Vedam
  • Multi-Award-Winning author, Deborah Shlian
  • USA Today bestselling author Kelly Hashway
  • USA Today bestselling author JB Michaels
  • Maggie Carpenter
  • USA Today bestselling author Tiana Laveen
  • Angela Sanders
  • Award-Winning author Karen M. Bryson
  • Aime Austin
  • Lisa B. Thomas
  • USA Today bestselling author Fiona Quinn
  • Kerry J Donovan
  • Jane Blythe
  • Bestselling author Dan Alatorre
  • USA Today bestselling authors Muffy Wilson and Dariel Raye
  • Ja’Nese Dixon
  • USA Today bestselling author Terry Keys
  • Bill Hargenrader
  • Wall Street Journal bestselling author Judith Lucci
  • Award-Winning author Maria Grazia Swan

SNEAK PEEK Patricia Loofbourrow’s “Drawing Thin”

IMG_4792I am thrilled to have been invited to participate in the “Death & Damages” box set anthology with a stable of talented bestselling authors like the one you are about to meet.

These amazing writers have graciously agreed to let my blog readers share in an exclusive interview AND get a sneak peek at the book they have contributed to the Death & Damages box set – 25 stories for 99 cents!

Today, we sit down with Patricia Loofbourrow, author of “Drawing Thin”


DAN: Tell my readers briefly about the story you are contributing to the Death & Damages anthology. What inspired your story?

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author Patricia Loofbourrow

PATRICIA LOOFBOURROW: Drawing Thin is a 48,000 word companion story to my Red Dog Conspiracy steampunk crime fiction series. When I wrote the first in the series, The Jacq of Spades, back in 2015, I thought it would be interesting to see the another side of the story. Drawing Thin covers much the same time frame as The Jacq of Spades, but from the point of view of the constable helping to investigate the caae.

Tell me a little bit about you. Where do you do your writing?

I write on a Windows 7 HP desktop at my desk in our computer room, which is one large room upstairs. My husband and daughter share the space.

What does writing success look like to you?

Writing really excellent stories which touch the people who “get” what I do. I want to give all the feels. Getting lots of money is good, too. 😉

Do you ever collaborate with others?

Putting out audiobooks is a collaboration of sorts, but if you mean on the story itself, not too often. The last collaboration I did was on the Army of Brass novel which came out in April.

Tell me a little bit about your process. What is the path from idea to finished story? Do you use critique partners? Do you have a favorite editor?

paix7webWhen I get an idea I think about it for a while to tease out the plot and likely consequences of the idea. I do the majority of my writing during National Novel Writing Month, which is where I got started writing novels in 2005. Then I revise until I feel it’s pretty good, then I send it to my alpha reader, who picks it apart and then I revise some more. Then it’s off to the beta readers, I edit and format it for print, then it’s off to my proofreader/editor Erin Hartshorn, who catches what I missed. I was a freelance editor for many years before I began writing novels, so there’s not usually much for her to do. Then I go over it again and format it for ebooks. Then it goes out to the world!

I’ve pretty much gotten this down to a science. 🙂

What do you do for your cover? It’s always hard to find a good cover. How do you find yours, or the artwork?

I have a cover designer for my main series, but for this one I did the cover myself. I get the images through iStock.

What about your blurb and tagline? What is your process for arriving at a really killer tagline and then a blurb that makes readers want to buy the book?

I’m really still learning how to do those, but if it makes me want to buy it, then I go with it until I figure out something better. 🙂

Best book to movie you’ve seen?

Jurassic Park. I think the movie was better than the book.

Where in the process do you create the story’s title? Do start with it? Do you know it before you begin? Before you end? Elsewhere?

I’m one of those people who need to know the title before I can really write the book.

How did you choose the genre you write in? Or did it choose you?

I suppose a little of both. I love science fiction, and have always thought of myself as a science fiction writer. I never would have thought I’d be writing crime fiction. But its far future steampunk crime fiction, so go figure. 🙂

What is the best part about being an author for you?

When you get someone who’s literally jumping up and down because they love the premise of your book so much. I get at least one at every live event I do, and it’s an amazing feeling.

How many unpublished or half finished manuscripts do you have?

A lot. A lot of them will stay that way. But I plan to publish some of them in the future.


About The Author

bunnyPatricia Loofbourrow, MD is a NY Times and USA Today best-selling science fiction writer, PC gamer, ornamental food gardener, fiber artist, and wildcrafter who loves power tools, dancing, genetics and anything to do with outer space. She was born in southern California and has lived in Chicago and Tokyo. She currently lives in Oklahoma with her husband and three grown children.

Contact Patricia :

Visit her website


* * * EXCLUSIVE * * *

Drawing Thin

Patricia Loofbourrow

Constable Paix Hanger had attended many crime scenes, yet something about this one unnerved him.

No blood splattered the empty alley, no bodies adorned the back rooms of this sad little fabric shop.

That was the problem, he decided.

The boy was just – gone.

He closed his notebook, putting it and his pencil into his pocket. The room was odd. He’d seen similar rooms before, this close to the Pot – minimal battered furnishings, nothing on the walls – but this room held an emptiness which pulled at his heart. No smell of food. No personal items lying about. Not even a toy or doll on the boy’s thin mattress.

Paix considered himself at that age. The boy was twelve, even if he looked ten: perhaps too old for dolls. But not even a book?

Forensics men dusted the open back door frame and back stair railing for fingerprints while others photographed the barren room and the child’s portrait. The family peered in from the doorway to their storefront, following their every move. The mother – in her middle forties with dark eyes and hair – and a young man – perhaps sixteen – who looked like her. Their clothes were well-made, too fine for a 2nd Street address.

Probationary Constable Leone Briscola stood in front of them, arms on the door-posts, blocking the way. “You think he ran off?”

Paix flinched at the outrage which flashed through the mother’s eyes. This would make things more difficult. He gave Briscola a sharp stare. “We don’t have enough evidence to say anything yet.”

Briscola’s swarthy cheeks reddened, his dark eyes dropping at the rebuke.

Paix strode to the open back door. Clouds covered the late December sky, yet Lady Luck had smiled upon them – it was mid-morning, with little chance of rain. Cases like these at night in a thunderstorm were much more difficult.

A team photographed the alley, while another collected every item in it – trash, half-eaten rats, bits of wood – each placed into its own brown paper sack, the top folded and sealed. Labelled. Catalogued.

If this were any other precinct, a detective or three would be ordering them around. But Precinct 1 was stretched too thin for that luxury. Their job was to do the preliminaries. Whatever detective was assigned would follow up on the case tomorrow.

The alley wall across the way looked like any other. Paix moved close to inspect it: graffiti, but no hairs, no fibers, nothing to speak of what happened here.

We should have cordoned off the entire alley, he thought, and examined the back stair first. Dozens of officers had walked these stairs, and others had trailed through the alley while they spoke with the family inside. “Photograph every shoe-print of every man here. And the family’s.”

“Yes, sir.”

It was routine, but he didn’t want to leave anything to chance. Those eyes in the boy’s tintype portrait haunted him.

Paix pointed to a fresh mark – a dog, stamped in red on the grimy brick wall. “Did you photograph this?”

“Yes, sir, but it won’t help much.” The photographer, a curly-haired man dark as a Diamond, shook his head regretfully. “Colors don’t show with this film. I called for an artist.”

“Good idea.”

Paix continued down the alleyway. No signs of a struggle suggested the boy knew his kidnapper – or was lured away. He turned to face his team.

Briscola stood facing him. “They’re done with the room.”

“Don’t ever make a determination in front of the family.”

Briscola’s cheeks reddened, and he stared past. “Sorry, Constable.”

Paix kept his voice low. “Sorry won’t mend this. It’s bad enough most of the force is on the take, or shaking down people for crossing the street wrong, or playing target practice in the Pot. You know how rare it is for someone to actually call us the day of a crime?” He turned away, trying to keep his anger under control. Then he faced his partner. “You’re a good cop. But you have to keep your mouth shut. Understand?”

Briscola’s head drooped. “Yes, sir.”

Paix clapped Briscola’s shoulder. “What do you see?”

The young man’s face steadied, his shoulders straightened.

It was encouraging. He hoped Briscola would survive.

“No signs of a struggle, sir. Nothing of his left at the scene. The family heard no noise – ” Briscola turned to Paix, astonished. “The boy didn’t cry out.”

“You’re right. Notice anything else?”

“Last night was Yuletide Center. Where are the decorations? The food? The gifts?”

Paix nodded. And the rest of her family. Where were they?

Good thing I was assigned this case, he thought. This woman was barely surviving. To have to choose between bribes and food …. “What else?”

He watched as Briscola struggled to find something, anything to say. Finally, Briscola shook his head.

“The mother. She’s hasn’t given her children a Yuletide, yet still wears a wedding ring.” Briscola’s eyes unfocused, blinked several times. Then he frowned, his mouth twisting. “She loves her children. It’s not that.” He hesitated. “Recently widowed?”

She took off her mourning garb, yet she kept her ring. “Yes, and by the look of things, newly arrived to Bridges.” Realization dawned as the pieces all fit together. “They’re running from something.”

The two officers returned to the house, and Mrs. Bryce offered them tea. As there were only three stools, the young man – Herbert was his name – lounged on his bed, watching them in silence.

That they were offered tea seemed encouraging. Perhaps she’d speak more of her troubles.

Paix said, “Was this your first voyage on the zeppelin?”

“No, sir,” Mrs. Bryce said stiffly. “We’ve traveled before.” Her accent seemed familiar but he couldn’t place it.

“Did you enjoy your trip here?”

They both flinched.

He decided to try a different approach. “Mrs. Bryce, what brought you to Bridges?”

She glanced away. “I had opportunity to own a business.”

He peered at her. She hid something. Why? “Anything you can tell us might help.”

The woman glanced at her son. “We owed money. Back in Dickens. We – I thought we’d be safe here.”

Paix nodded. Now he recognized the accent.

Financial refugees from Dickens were not unheard of. A dollar from Dickens was a small fortune in the slums of Bridges. “But why come here?” Fees from the local crime family, outrageous rents with little in return – this wasn’t the best play for a gentlewoman in financial distress.

She glanced away. “This was where opportunity lay.” She faced him, then set her teacup down, her manner formal. “Will there be anything else?”

Something wasn’t right here. He handed her his card. “Madam, I’m here neither for your money nor your favors. We want to be of service. But I don’t want to impose on you any further. If you think of anything which might be helpful, or if anyone contacts you about the boy, or if your son returns, please let us know.”

Her cheeks reddened, but she stood: it was time for them to leave.

The men in the alleyway were packing their gear away, but gave Paix their attention when he emerged.

“I want a door-to-door search in a six-block radius,” Paix said. “Four of you come with me: we’ll take the Pot. The rest finish packing then split into teams.” He counted quickly, then pointed to one of them. “You stay here and watch the house in case the boy returns.” He raised his voice to encompass them all. “Each team take search bags. Play it straight, men. The boy is here somewhere, and the clock is ticking.” If this were a kidnapping, as the mother seemed to think, every minute which passed without finding the child left less hope of him being found alive.

And he’d been gone several hours already.

Paix and his group strode to the corner, then turned towards the Hedge. David Bryce might have gone to some neighbor’s house, invited in with warm food and gifts. But the Bryce family had been in Bridges only a short time; his mother insisted she knew of no friends here.

Paix peered up and down the intersection before crossing 1st Boulevard. This didn’t feel right. If his hunch were true – the family was indeed running from someone – the boy would feel anxious, wary of strangers. He wouldn’t have left home without telling his mother.

Yet he didn’t cry out when taken. Why?

They crossed the wide, broken-down boulevard to one of the gaps in the Hedge, then the group slipped through.

Paix shuddered, the hair on his arms rising. They had crossed into the Pot.

“You two,” he pointed to his right. “up three. You two,” he pointed to his left, “up five. Six blocks to each side. Meet back at the wagons when you’re done.”

The men shifted a bit with sour faces, especially the ones asked to go six blocks into the Pot. But Paix had no qualms they would follow. He waited until they deduced his reasoning: he was senior, and had a new Probationary with him. They nodded, and he set off.

Paix was within his rights to order, to bluster, to demand. But he never liked to work that way. Men who understood and agreed meant men who’d follow orders – and come back alive.

The six men crept straight across the empty wide street paralleling the Hedge. Then they moved forward, one silent step at a time, nightsticks drawn, keeping to the center of the street. Broken glass lined the gutters, in places ground fine as sand. On either side, the bombed-out ruins stood eerily quiet.

At the first intersection Paix and Briscola stopped, while the other men pressed on. Paix whispered to Briscola, “Have you been in the Pot before?”

Briscola shook his head, face pale. The paper sack in his hand made a crinkling noise.

“They will try to kill you if they can.”

A whistle rang out, high and to the left. Briscola jumped at the sound. The rest, several yards ahead, didn’t even flinch.

Paix stopped, shouted with full force. “A boy’s gone missing. We need your help.”

Silence lay heavy in the air. Then across the street to their left, a boy emerged from a battered yet elaborately carved corner door. The boy was seven years old and blond, wearing the bright red jacket of his trade.

Two older boys, twelve or so with light brown hair, followed, the familiar bulge of a weapon at each boy’s side.

Briscola let out a loud breath. Paix relaxed, yet kept watchful. “Greetings, Memory Boy.”

“Good morning, Constables.”

Memory Boys remembered everything: heard, seen, or written. Paix thought this might be a curse rather than a blessing, although the families of these children lacked for nothing. “What have you heard of a boy missing?”

“Nothing,” the boy said. “What’s he like?”

Paix peered around. They were much too exposed. “Let’s get out of the street.” The older boys nodded; the group moved back against a wall. Far off ahead, two of his men turned right, their motions wary.

“Briscola, watch the windows.” Paix crouched to the Memory Boy’s height. The boy’s companions – from the look if it, his brothers – stood watching everywhere but them. “His name is David Bryce. He’s twelve, but small: he looks ten. Just arrived from Dickens. Dark hair and eyes, but light of skin.”

“I haven’t heard of him,” the boy said, “but I’ll listen.”

“Thanks,” Paix said. “And ask the Clubbs to watch as well.”

The boy smiled brightly. “However would I do that?”

“This is no game. Someone’s after the family, and I don’t want this boy taken from the city.”

The Memory Boy’s face reddened. “I’ll take care of it.”

The Clubb crime syndicate owned the only way out of this dome: the zeppelin station and by extension, the Aperture. If the boy was taken out of Bridges, the police would need to involve the Feds for permission to pursue him, and no one – least of all the Clubbs – wanted that.

And everyone knew Memory Boys reported the better information straight to the Clubbs. “Good lad.” He straightened. “Safe journey.”

“You too,” the boy said, and the three boys left.

Briscola said, “What now?”

Running across a Memory Boy had been incredibly fortunate. But they still had a lot of work to do. “Have you done a search before?”

“In training.”

“Then you know what to do.”

Briscola took one of the search bags from the paper sack, a fist-sized muslin bag filled with colored chalk dust then tied shut with twine. He tossed it into the middle of the intersection, leaving a bright pink bloom on the grimy cobblestones. “You always go right,” Briscola said, as if reminding himself.

Bemused, Paix followed him.

The two men searched the bombed-out buildings, looking under fallen boards, behind broken walls, down fetid basements. Eventually they reached the six blocks, then circled around to search the other side of the street.

No one interfered, for which Paix was grateful.

When they returned to the pink spot, the bag was gone. Stolen, most likely, perhaps to use as a toy or to color one of their filthy hovels. They two men moved on.

Once they’d searched the six blocks on the other side of this street, they moved to the next. Briscola marked it with a yellow bag this time.

By the time they were finished searching the second street it was well past midday. They returned to Mrs. Bryce’s home. The wagons – and the rest of his men – stood waiting.

No one had found anything. No one would talk with them.

It was business as usual.


Gang, please join me in thanking Patricia for sharing these authorly insights with us.

Click HERE to order your copy of Death & Damages TODAY and read the rest of this great story when it is released in the Death & Damages boxed set!

ORDER YOUR COPY NOW!

Danger lurks around every corner as these courageous cops, adventurous agents, and daring detectives hunt for the answers to stop the crimes by vicious killers.

But what if the damage is already done?

Inside these pages, you’ll find 25 adventures full of captivating conundrums, hair-raising homicides, and suspenseful secrets from today’s USA Today & Wall Street Journal bestselling and award-winning authors.

Become a private investigator yourself when you inspect plots of deadly assassins, cold-blooded killers, and bone-chilling suspense inside the pages of DEATH AND DAMAGES, an enthralling mystery and thriller boxed set.

Fans of Lee Child, James Patterson, Gillian Flynn, Paula Hawkins, and John Grisham will devour these puzzling mysteries and gripping thrillers.

Including Stories From…

  • New York Times bestselling author Patricia Loofbourrow
  • USA Today bestselling author Pauline Creeden
  • USA Today bestselling author John Ling
  • Award-Winning author Alexa Padgett
  • Siera London
  • USA Today bestselling author Shereen Vedam
  • Multi-Award-Winning author, Deborah Shlian
  • USA Today bestselling author Kelly Hashway
  • USA Today bestselling author JB Michaels
  • Maggie Carpenter
  • USA Today bestselling author Tiana Laveen
  • Angela Sanders
  • Award-Winning author Karen M. Bryson
  • Aime Austin
  • Lisa B. Thomas
  • USA Today bestselling author Fiona Quinn
  • Kerry J Donovan
  • Jane Blythe
  • Bestselling author Dan Alatorre
  • USA Today bestselling authors Muffy Wilson and Dariel Raye
  • Ja’Nese Dixon
  • USA Today bestselling author Terry Keys
  • Bill Hargenrader
  • Wall Street Journal bestselling author Judith Lucci
  • Award-Winning author Maria Grazia Swan

IN DEFENSE OF DELAYING – BUT

IMG_E2351
your humble host

There are those who will roll their eyes at that title, and know immediately what it refers to.

Most of the following was paraphrased from a PBS documentary I watched this morning by Ken Burns.

I started watching it last night, but Burns’ documentaries usually put me to sleep, and such was the case last evening. I enjoyed it enough prior to nodding off that, with a good rest under me, I was able to endure the balance this morning.


In 1881 The Prince and The Pauper by Mark Twain was released.

Between 1874 in 1884, Thomas Hardy published return of the native. Dostoevsky wrote The Brothers Karamatzov. Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island appeared, and Henry James’ Portrait of a Lady came out.

Meanwhile, Mark Twain started work on another book based on fond memories of his own childhood, Huckleberry Finn.

“I like it only tolerably well, as far as I’ve got,” he told Howells after writing the first 400 manuscript pages, “and may possibly pigeonhole it or burn it.”

He often put it aside for other things during the next seven years.

Abraham Lincoln declared the Emancipation Proclamation to try to idealize the struggle of the north against the south, and then in 1876 reconstruction died, the Ku Klux Klan came out, and Huckleberry Finn the book began.

Image result for huckleberry finn book cover originalHe started this thing and he must’ve run into difficulty.

And then he stops the book.

He put it aside for five years.

Then in April 1882, he decides to go down the river to New Orleans on a steamboat and write a book called Life On The Mississippi – not Huckleberry Finn. In May, he turns around and starts back up the river again, all the way to Minnesota. And then at the end of that, he goes back to Hannibal (Missouri, his childhood hometown) again in the next month what does he do? He picks up Huckleberry Finn.

What does that say to you?

What did he see going down the river?

He’s been off that river for 20 years, since before the Civil War. What do you think it was looking at? He was looking at the horrible failure of freeing the slaves. As in, what a mess we’d made of it.

Image result for mark twain bibliography

In the summer of 1883, Mark Twain returned to the manuscript with renewed energy.

It was a very different kind of story, told in the plain language his Missouri boyhood.

It would be his “masterpiece.”


The majority of the words above were gleaned from a PBS documentary, but it told me something important.

According to Mental Floss, Huckleberry Finn was written in two short bursts. The first was in 1876, when Twain wrote the 400 pages referenced above. In August 1883, he wrote, “I have written eight or nine hundred manuscript pages in such a brief space of time that I mustn’t name the number of days; I shouldn’t believe it myself, and of course couldn’t expect you to.” The book was published in 1884.

Why am I sharing this with you today? There’s always a reason. Mine is this:

It’s okay to put something aside.

aaa Tyree COVER 1I recently wrote 90,000 words for a complete novel in about 10 weeks. (You can order Double Blind HERE; it’s part of a 25-book anthology for 99 cents, but mine’s in there.) I kicked around ideas for an outline for a week or three before I started writing on July 2 of this year, and yesterday (September 15) I sent the finished book to two trusted friends in case there’s a fire at my house and it’s destroyed from my computer. I did not work on it every day, either; I took weeks off during that span. (Necessary weeks off, believe me.) Today I give it one last look and send it to the publisher, where it will not undergo any additional changes.

First draft to finished product in less than three months, and according to my CPs, it’s a great story.

Again, you can order it HERE as part of a 25-book anthology for 99 cents.

I have another one I wrote over a few months that has been “resting” for close to THREE YEARS now. Some of you know it; some of you have read it. It even has a cover.

aaa TWC BLUE 39 BEST v 1
the set aside WIP

Until this morning, I’d been embarrassed about that. It needs a rewrite, and things kept piling up on me that took me away from it, always with the promise of I’ll do it X – with X being “soon” and then it became Christmas then next Christmas then over the break and then again at the start of this summer… and now X probably means “it’ll be my next project, I swear” …right after I compile the anthology and probably another writing contest.

If you knew each reason (or excuse, depending on your disposition) for each delay, you’d agree they were substantial.

But three years? Come on.

But

As of this morning, I think it’s okay that I’ve waited. One of my CPs recently said of me (again paraphrasing), “Your writing is great. Imagine how good a piece you could write if you actually worked at it.” Or something like that.

I used to think I was holding my breath and delaying on releasing that Work In Progress.

I think it’s okay to wait – as long as you produce things.

Mark Twain produced a ton of stuff while he delayed Huckleberry Finn, and he was known to be a prodigious writer. Without knowing it, I’ve emulated that. I certainly emulated elements of my style from him, but I was unaware of the work ethic. Now I’m aware, and I’m glad that almost no one but my wife thinks I’m not a prolific writer. I’ve produced a ton of stuff during my hiatus from my WIP.

And I shouldn’t say emulated, either;

I should say I realized that a lot of things I was already doing

(and feared might be wrong to do but was a lot of fun for me)

was actually okay because other – better – writers had done it, too.

James Patterson validated some of my ideas a while back, and now so has Mark Twain (again). That’s confirmation, I guess. Fine. Confirmation it is.

Other authors delayed pieces, too – like JD Salinger – so apparently it’s not a crime as I’d made myself think.

When I take up my “set aside” piece again, which I will, it may not become a masterpiece, but it will definitely become better than it was.

We all will benefit from that.