I 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.
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?
I woke up with the premise in my head. I literally dream all my book.
How long of a piece is it?
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?
The 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.
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 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
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.
“Terrible. I’m in terrible trouble.”
Patrick 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.”
“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:
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.
To sample her work for free and subscribe to her newsletter go to:
Connect with Maggie
Maggie loves to hear from readers. You can contact her at MagCarpenter@yahoo, or through her website: http://www.MaggieCarpenter.com.
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!
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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