Our 5* Review for Double Blind by Dan Alatorre#FastPacedMurderMystery @savvystories

I love a good review!

anita dawes and jaye marie

Two detectives hunt a serial killer. The killer is hunting them.


A lone trucker is ambushed, shot, and brutally stabbed. A tourist meets the same fate while out for a jog. Facing two crime scenes that could have come from a horror movie, Detectives Carly Sanderson and Sergio Martin search for the crazed serial killer.

Five more attacks happen in a week, launching the entire city into a panic and causing the mayor to throw all of the city’s resources into stopping the rampage. But while the detectives work around the clock, they don’t know the killer has upped the game—by making them his next targets.


Our Review

At first, the killings seem random, just the actions of a deranged mind.

I found the descriptive powers of the author, combined with the smell of blood quite stomach churning as I searched for clues. I knew it would be a…

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In Defense of Christmas Music

OK, you asked for this.

Some people HATE Christmas music.

They are known by many names…


I like Christmas music. In fact, I love it.


img_2351-16Oh, there are lots of reasons to dislike Christmas music. It’s played too much at the mall starting at Halloween, for pete’s sake; and radio stations tend to beat it to death by ramming the same five songs down our throats. And some folks have to be too cool for school, and show how smart they are being contrarian, stating their disdain for Christmas music; while others who are not interesting enough in any positive way may feel the need to find attention by showing their uniqueness by lashing out at something others hold dear. Colin Kaepernick springs to mind.


There are other reasons to dislike Christmas music, should you so choose. I’m not saying any one particular person’s reasons are under indictment.




However, I’m going to venture out on a limb and say the reason radio stations dedicate a huge chunk of time to holiday music is because the vast majority of people like it.


And why is that?


Well… why do I like Christmas music?


First of all, because I like Christmas. I grew up in Ohio and sometimes the Christmas snow was so deep, as a child you would have to wade knee-deep through it to get to the car. Holy water at church was frozen solid at the Christmas midnight mass. We kids all got to hold real live lit candles in a procession through the church. (You wanna see adults on edge? Give 200 kids fire to play with in a centuries old gothic church after making them stay up til midnight. How we didn’t need fire extinguishers every five feet, I’ll never know.)

Occasionally, the snow was really deep. One particular the year we had what would’ve probably been called a blizzard if we lived anywhere else. Snowdrifts eight and ten feet high arranged themselves off our back porch—a two-story back porch. It was awesome.


On Christmas eve, my family would have a big dinner with turkey (like second Thanksgiving!) and we were allowed to open ONE present. With seven kids, mom put each child’s presents in designated wrapping paper: all the snowman-wrapped gifts were my sister Trish’s; all the candy cane ones were mine—like that. No tags, so we didn’t know which festively wrapped box went to which kid, should we find mom’s pre-Christmas hiding place for our gifts. Without a tag, the size and shape of the box didn’t tip off its future recipient that it was in fact a new G. I. Joe Jeep, as opposed to, say, clothes. (With seven kids, you need systems.) Of course, usually Trish had scoured the house for mom’s stash of presents, sneaked the Scotch taped edges up on enough gifts to determine the secret wrapping paper code for everyone, and then teased Ricky and I, her younger brothers, for weeks with “I know what you’re getting!”


Christmas eve was an event. After dinner, the whole family sat around the living room – we were never allowed in there the rest of the year – while mom and dad gave out one gift apiece. Many times it descended into a conundrum of looking for the right sized batteries for a toy that wouldn’t operate without them (oops), or a boy child opening a present to discover his sister’s new Barbie. So more gifts were opened, and often as not, all of them. But you never knew. Part of the magic of Christmas.


On Christmas Day, all my aunts and uncles and grandparents and cousins would come to our house to open presents, play all day, and eat a big Christmas dinner. The adults would play card games like canasta and gin rummy, and the kids would go into the basement and play monopoly or GI Joes and Barbies…


Or, of course, go play in the snow.


We had a creek behind our house, so if it had frozen, we might try to skate. That’s not skating rink ice, all smooth and nice; it’s creek ice, with ripples frozen into the surface and rocks sticking out. And thin spot where you would go through up over your boots. But we didn’t care. We’d play out there until we couldn’t feel our toes. (Three pairs of socks AND plastic baggies to between them to keep out the melted snow.) Our driveway was on a hill so we could ride our sleds down it into the yard, and if enough powder had fallen, we’d go out front and sled ride down the big long hill of Reister Drive for hours with the rest of the neighborhood kids.


I like Christmas music because in and of itself it is an amazing time machine. It can instantly take you back to those places – and to those people, some of whom are no longer with us. People like my mom. Or your grandmother. People who are special to us, sometimes in ways we didn’t even know about.


Christmas was special to them.


Christmas music was a part of that.


If I’m driving in my car alone, I might listen to Christmas music just because it kind of gets me in the Christmas mood. I want to teach my daughter good traditions, like peace on Earth and goodwill to men. And about angels and baby Jesus. And a trip to Bethlehem by an uncertain young mother and her husband. And about the Scandinavian traditions that gave us a jolly man in a red suit who brings toys to good children.


But I don’t wander too far. If I sing by myself, I might think about Irving Berlin, a Jewish kid seeing how cool it was when the Puerto Ricans in his New York neighborhood celebrated the holidays. And many years later he reminisced about the sheer joy of the occasion of a white Christmas. When Bing Crosby sang it, he was talking to thousands of World War II soldiers and sailors who would not be home with their loved ones.


They were dreaming of a white Christmas. At home with the people they cared about.


And so it is with me. I love Christmas music because when I hear Jingle Bells, I think about teaching it to my daughter a few years ago – and how many times we had to go over it before she could understand what the heck the words meant. (She was barely a toddler. I’ll cut her some slack.) Or gazing at her angelic face on her first Christmas. She was only nine months old, dressed in a red Santa onesie…


She’s not a baby any more, but that song takes me there, to when she was. Or to a white Christmas in Ohio with my parents. And I smile every time.


Sometimes through tears.


Because there’s one song that gets me every time. And because I’m not afraid to tell you about it, I will.


I’ve told you many times about how my mother went to church every Sunday and sang. Not in the choir, but next to us in the pew. She was a good singer, as all of us probably think our mothers are. Her favorite song was the Ave Maria. But that’s not a Christmas song.


Her Christmas song, the one that reminds me of her when I hear it, was Oh Holy Night.


See, that song starts out kind of slow and doesn’t speed up, but it builds its intensity a verse at a time. It starts by talking about the stars and the next thing you know it’s talking about the birth of Jesus. And that’s all well and good. I don’t like the thought of my life coming to an end and, like a light switch, being clicked off and going dark forever. The thought of never seeing my daughter again is too heavy on my heart to choose to believe that. Instead, I choose to believe there must be something more. If there is, and since none of the people I knew who have ever died have come back to tell me what the hell it is, I want there to be something more and I want there to be a heaven and I want there to be the people who I loved and who are no longer with us, I want them to be there. I like that.


And so when I’m driving around and Oh Holy Night comes on, I will try to swing it.


I kinda have to.


I will never be as good as any of the people who have recorded it, but that doesn’t matter. Neither was my mom.


And when they get to the crescendo part, where the performer is powerfully singing, “Fall on your knees, hear the angels voices,” it’s no longer a song. It’s a message to my heart, a command to my soul. Whether I’m singing or not, or driving in my car, or sitting in my office, I can’t get past that part without tears streaming down my face. I tell you this unashamedly, I will weep like a baby. FALL ON YOUR KNEES, HEAR THE ANGEL VOICES.


It’s not a verse from a song, it’s a command. Hear them. They are there.


And who are these angels? Well, maybe they are little winged cherubs like Michelangelo used to depict, floating around a bunch of wispy clouds. But maybe they are memories of my mother and your grandmother, people who cared about us and loved us. When I hear fall on your knees, and hear the angel voices, that is who I hear. Maybe it doesn’t matter if I don’t believe as strongly as they did about things; the message is what’s important. That we should be good to each other. It’s the time of year we remember that en mass. But more importantly, it makes us be close to those beloved people again in a different way than other times of the year. To my mother. To your grandmother. Christmas is different. Christmas memories of loved ones are special.


The different Christmases I celebrated as a child aren’t so very different from anyone else’s, but in my heart they certainly seem so. That’s the way it should be. That’s what I want to create for my child. That’s why I love Christmas music.


I sit here at my computer with tears forming in my eyes again, unabashedly so, and I tell you and the world: I love Christmas music.


God help me, I do love it so.


I need your help. This is BIG. Please help me reach this dream.


We may be within 100 sales of hitting the USA Today bestseller list.

I NEED SALES on APPLE iBooks to do it.

(Hold on if you don’t read on iBooks. Neither do I.)

We have sold THOUSANDS of books and I am so happy for your help in doing that. But we need sales from various sources to qualify as a USA TODAY BESTSELLER.

Specifically, APPLE SALES.

We are killing it on Amazon and Nook and Kobo, but for whatever reason our Apple device owners dropped the ball.

Here’s how you can help.

Buy the box set on Apple.

Right now, today. Click and do it, please.

Even if you read on something else, buy it on Apple (iBooks, iTunes). It’s a dollar.

I need you to spend a dollar on Apple buying this box set to help me reach this dream  of making the USA TODAY bestseller list.

Please do this for me.

We may not make it, but I don’t want a few iBook sales to be the reason.

Spend a buck on me and get this iBook, then ask five friends. Next week you could be friends with a USA Today Bestselling author.

You get my maxing new book Double Blind PLUS 20 other complete novels for 99 cents.

I won’t forget this favor!

D and D no 1 bestseller

10 Questions (more or less) with author Susan Mills Wilson


Here on the blog we occasionally like to feature other people. Even I get bored with me at times.

Ha! I almost said that with a straight face!

But we learn from any author who visits, and today we’ll be visiting with Susan Mills Wilson. Pull up a chair.

Susan is a native of North Carolina and lives in a small town just outside Charlotte, so she can enjoy having the best of both worlds. She writes a blog on a wide range of topics, is the leader of the Charlotte Writers Club Mystery Critique Group, and serves on the board of the Charlotte Writers Club. Susan has published five romantic suspense novels: Good Gone Bad, Her Lying Eyes, Hunt for Redemption, Cruz Control, andMeltdown.

On her blog is says, “She writes because she cannot imagine not writing.” I like that.

DAN: Do you remember the first story you read and if it had an impact on you?

SUSAN WILSON: The first book I remember reading was Alice in Wonderland. For my fifth birthday,

author Susan Mills Wilson

I received the children’s version with beautiful illustrations. It became my most treasured property.

But over the years the book that has stuck with me most is Ramona by Helen Hunt Jackson. I first read it as a teenager, and over the years, I have read it several times.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript for Twisted Fate?

Twisted-Fate-Front-Cover-from-AmazonI started doing research about two months before I started writing Twisted Fate. Most of my research focused on tornadoes since I had never experienced one. Once I began writing, it took me a year to write the first draft with the help of my writers’ critique group.

What’s a good writing secret?

I created a formula for writing each scene. I call it “hook, drag, hang.” It sounds crazy, but it works for me. I start off with a hook, keep the reader intrigued, and at the end of the scene, I use a cliff hanger, a problem to be solved, or a question to be answered.

My other secret is making sure I include tension in every scene. Of course in suspense writing, there’s always the typical fistfight, heated argument, or gunfire, but tension can also be in the form of an internal conflict, sexual tension between a guy and girl, or something even going on in the background like a driver doing something crazy in traffic or a diner at a nearby table, making a scene by throwing a glass of wine in the face of her date.

When you need help, are stuck, need to know what character should say, who are your go-to people?

Susam and Lady 304I interview my characters to get unstuck. I pretend I am a reporter and I ask my point of view character questions such as, “What did you do when that happened?” “What did you see?” “What were you thinking or feeling?”

What is the strangest place you’ve gotten a great story?

Once I was at a concert in a park and an idea popped into my head. When I noticed a church tower directly across the street, I turned to my husband and said, “That would be a great place for a sniper to fire into the crowd at the park.” He said, “You’re weird.” True, but a story was born, and I published Meltdown the next year about a sniper shooting into a park on the Fourth of July.

Which project took you farthest out of your comfort zone?

Besides people being gunned down by a sniper shooter, a scene for Cruz Control was gut-wrenching to write. It is where a man brutally beats his wife, and it seemed so real to me, I tossed and turned in bed all night. Although I have never been physically abused, I felt as though I had experienced what my character went through.

Wine or coffee when you write?

In the morning, I insist on drinking black coffee to get me going. I do my best writing at that time of day. However, I usually do the love scenes at night after I’ve had one or two glasses of wine.

One other tidbit, when I write fight scenes, car chases, or shootings, I listen to rock music, but when I write romance, I prefer slower, love songs. Michael Buble, Ed Sheeran, and Andrea Bocelli come to mind.

What’s your writing area?

As a fan of Jimmy Buffet music and a true Parrothead, I have transformed my writing area/office into what I consider to be Margaritaville. It helps to have a coastal Margaritaville Restaurant just a few hours away where I’m a sucker for a wall plaque or mug from the gift shop.

Answer this: “What I want a writer to get from my writing is…”

I like to write fast-paced suspense books which can be read in a short amount of time. Although I write to entertain, there is always a moral lesson in there somewhere. People don’t know their own strength or abilities until pushed to their limits. This is true of my characters.

Want to know more? Here are Susan’s links.

Susan Mills Wilson website

Susan’s Blog






Amazon Author Page


Book on Amazon: Twisted Fate

Gang, please join me in thanking Susan for stopping by and sharing these insights.

And grab your copy of Twisted Fate today!






“Everything seems pretty normal, for a serial killer thriller, but I have a feeling something is coming.”

“A twist that will make the mystery more difficult to solve.

And then….Dan Alatorre threw the fly in the ointment that I had been waiting for.

I do find Tyree, an ex cop turned private eye, especially likable. He is inquisitive and his cop instincts come in handy at every turn. He has become my favorite character. He’s a bit like Rockford with a little Magnum PI thrown in.

We do have plenty of twists and turns and a bright red herring that I kept stumbling over.

All in all, a great mystery, with plenty of chills and

I’d love to hang with the characters again.”

See Sherry Fundin’s full review on Amazon

Get your copy of Double Blind now.


eBook in boxed set


Already read it? Leave your review HERE

Volunteers needed: Who Would Like A Free Copy of my smash hit The Navigators?

TheNavigatorsFinalI redid The Navigators recently.

I took out the swear words and the sex scenes.

There were a LOT of swear words. Like, the F word appeared 50 (okay, 70) times! And a lot of other swear words appeared almost as much. I had a collage-age character who cussed a lot, and his friends cussed when they got excited.

I wrote it that way because I cussed a lot at that age. A friend read it recently and said it would probably sell better without all the swear words. I shrugged off her advice – for a while – but it was in the back of my head, taunting me.

Then I watched some movies.

Star Wars has very little cussing.

Harry Potter has very little cussing.

Jurassic Park has very little cussing.


Most of my favorite movies have very little cussing (although Goodfellas makes up for what Jurassic Park doesn’t have in the cussing department, as does Scarface). But as always, the great storytellers of our time were trying to teach me something. I just had to listen to the lesson.

I was at an event with kids recently, from college age through grade school, and they all wanted to read the cool time travel adventure, and time after time I told them no because it has lots of bad words.

Then I thought,

if Stephen Spielberg and George Lucas and JK Rowling can tell stories that the whole world enjoys without cuss words in them, then so can I.

And I did. My next book, Double Blind, a murder mystery, has none. You won’t notice it’s missing, either.

The stuff I redid in The Navigators made it better. The cussing was something I did a lot of at that age, but it was extraneous in the book – and for me at that age.

A good story doesn’t need a crutch like cussing. And it will appeal to a wider audience, too. So there’s that. I’m all about the sales, gang.

So, I need a few volunteers to read The redone version of The Navigators and make sure I didn’t miss any cuss words or sex scenes.

I’ll send you a free ARC copy to read; you report back. Maybe leave a review if you like it – which you will.

Contact me and let’s get started.

While we are at it, do we need a new cover for Navs? Comment below and let me know!