Deborah Mitton: A Murder of Crows Suspense Thrillers Sunday, Aug 25 2013 

Please welcome Canadian author Deborah Mitton with her exciting new historical series launching today on Amazon Kindle:

Deborah Mitton - Ebook 1 - JPEG                                 Deborah Mitton’s debut, Ten For The Devil, is an Historical Suspense – Thriller.  Deborah Mitton - Ebook 2 - JPEG

The title for my novel comes from a 1600 century poem – “A Murder Of One “– author unknown.  If you have ever counted crows, you most likely know the poem.  My next WIP is titled “One For Sorrow”.

Chief Inspector Michael McLaughlin has believed that is nemesis was dead.

Seth Shaw is not dead and is in very city that Michael is visiting. Ten For The Devil is a labyrinthine murder ride from an idyllic English village to the industrious shipbuilding port of St. John, New Brunswick in the newly formed country of Canada.  As Michael closes on a collision course with a serial murderer the city is in flames.

Michael was an eleven-year old boy when he witnessed the murder of a girl and the lives of the families – friends, of both our murderer and witness are intertwined throughout generations from 1850 to modern day.

My first novel is a dark tale of obsession, revenge, murder, a love curse, reparation and survival.Many are murdered trying to help Michael reach adulthood.

Our young boy grows up to join Scotland Yard and is obsessed with bringing Seth Shaw to justice. There is a sense of paranormal forces at work protecting our villain.

The story’s climax will occur during the fire of June 20, 1877 – in the city of St. John, New Brunswick Canada (now spelled Saint John). The fire was second only in size and damages to the famous the Boston fire.

Deborah Mitton retired after working for 44 years to take up writing.  She’s been married to her high school sweetheart for 42 years.  They have three grown children and nine grandchildren. She’s an avid reader and loves a good mystery! Here’s Deborah in her own words:  “I have the urgent need to put down on paper the voices in my head. Once their story is told, they are kind and leave me alone until there is another story that must be told.”

Susan Sloate: Stealing Fire Sunday, Aug 18 2013 

Please welcome guest Susan Sloate, multi-genre author, who has two new books coming out in 2013. She’s describing the genesis of her novel Stealing FireStealing_Fire_Front_7

My Cousin Fred & the Power of the Broadway Musical

By Susan Sloate

 

     Let me tell you about my cousin Fred. Fred was the failure of my family. (And no, I didn’t plan all that alliteration.)  This is my father’s side I’m talking about now. On my father’s side were all people who came from poor backgrounds, who determined they weren’t going to be poor in the future, and in the 1920’s, ‘30s and ‘40s rolled up their sleeves, started their own businesses, worked long hours, sacrificed, and yes, became very wealthy. (And God bless them; I didn’t realize for many years how much I owe them and how hard they worked to make my life wonderful. But that’s another story.)

     My cousin Fred, however, wasn’t a start-your-own-business kind of guy. He had another dream. To support that dream, he took a job in a shoe store in New York in the 1950’s.

     None of my relatives had a problem with the shoe store. They understood starting at the bottom. What they had a problem with was Fred’s dream: he wanted to be a (gulp) songwriter.

     What was worse, in my relatives’ opinion, was that he didn’t even want to write the music. Oh, no. Fred wanted to write just the words for these songs. Seriously.

     “You call that a career?” my aunts, uncles and grandparents would bellow. “What are you thinking? You got a good job at the shoe store; if you work hard, who knows, someday you might become the store manager. Think big, Fred!”

     I don’t know how Fred felt, hearing that ongoing vote of confidence, but he persevered anyway. He teamed up with a composer friend and they wrote their little songs. And eventually they met a young girl with a big voice who had lots of energy and ambition. She wasn’t all that pretty, but she could belt out a song.

     So all three of them worked together and eventually got their big break, with an off-Broadway show they wrote the score for and their singer friend starred in.

     Flop.

     I know; you thought it was going to end with their all showing up my relatives, right?

     My relatives took that failure as proof that they were right; Fred needed to focus on the shoe store. Fred took it differently.

     And my relatives finally did stop bugging him about his career in feet on the night he got them house seats for his new Broadway show … CABARET.

     Seriously.

     My cousin Fred was Fred Ebb, half of the musical team of Kander & Ebb, who also wrote the scores for CHICAGO, ALL THAT JAZZ, and the movie FUNNY LADY. And that energetic young girl they worked with? Her name is Liza Minnelli, and she introduced their most famous song, “New York, New York”. Start spreading the news, indeed.

     Kander & Ebb are not just a Broadway success story; they are legendary. (And I promise, all of the above is true. How can you not believe a family story?) Fred Ebb, sadly, is no longer with us. But for the purposes of this blog, what’s important to know is that by the time I was old enough to hear Fred’s story, he was already a Broadway superstar. Also, my mother had studied voice and planned to sing on the musical stage herself, and that was my first career dream as well. So I was raised with Broadway musicals—old ones, new ones, famous ones, not-so-famous ones, hits, flops. I knew their stories, I knew their stars, producers and creative teams, I knew how they came to be hits or flops. To this day, I can still sing more than a hundred show scores from memory. I’m praying someday someone invents a game show entirely about Broadway musicals. I’ll be a million-dollar winner. Guaranteed.

     So many years ago, when I sat down to write about a complex love affair I was living through and didn’t want my characters to have the same jobs or lives as we did, it was natural for me to set the story in the musical theater. I’d grown up in it; I’d actually written a musical at the age of 14 (book and lyrics), with a close friend. And yes, I still dream of writing for the musical theater. If you should really ‘write what you know’—well, it was something I knew, all right.

     The beginning of what I called for years my ‘baby novel’ was about two characters much like my love and me. I didn’t consciously think about it, but within just a few pages of starting to write, I found he had become a Broadway lyricist (no, not modeled on Fred, but I’m sure his story was at the back of my mind). I became the girl who was studying to be a singer on Broadway (which I’d once desperately wanted; funny how things change when you realize you have no talent). In real life, the guy was a novelist/screenwriter and I was working at becoming a novelist/screenwriter. It wasn’t the same thing, but on the other hand, it was.

     The novel which finally emerged from many years of writing, putting it down, and picking it up again is titled STEALING FIRE, and it’s just been published by Drake Valley Press. And the reason (apart from plain old fear and procrastination) that it hasn’t been published till now is just that I really had no idea how the story was supposed to end, and for a long time I wasn’t sure it mattered. I told myself for a long time that this was just therapy for myself during a tough period long ago, that it didn’t have any relevance for me now. It had nothing to do with the me of today.

     But it kept nagging at me. It’s hard to ignore 275 pages of passionate pleading, especially when you wrote the passionate pleas to begin with. You can’t just throw all that stuff out. But after it had languished for awhile, I took it out again when I stumbled on the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest (nothing like a contest to spur you to do something you should have done anyway). I had one week to get in my entry, and in that one week, I cut 100 pages, wrote 100 new pages (new scenes, connections between scenes) and basically finished it, though I still wanted to clean it up a little.

     I got it in with about 30 minutes to spare, panting all the way, and was thrilled when it was named a Quarter-Finalist in 2012. I promised myself I’d publish it, and when Drake Valley Press and I found each other earlier this year, all the stars seemed to align.

     STEALING FIRE is about the musical theater, yes, but it’s mostly about a love affair between unlikely soul mates, but soul mates nonetheless—people who have no business understanding each other so well, but because they do, they change each other’s lives. It’s about a love most of us only dream about, but few of us ever know. I’m grateful that what I lived through all these years ago is now down on the page for readers to experience along with me, and I hope they’ll believe such a love is possible—because I know from experience that it is.

     I think what I loved most about writing it was that since Beau was a lyricist, I got to write song lyrics again, something I hadn’t done for many years. The challenge, of course, is that I set up Beau as a really superb lyricist, far above other lyricists in the musical theater. So the lyrics I wrote for him had to be, of course, superb.

     Well… not sure I nailed that, but there are three song lyrics that Beau ‘wrote’ in the novel. Whether you’ll think they’re good or not is debatable. But wherever he is, I hope my cousin Fred is proud.

Susan Author Photo 2013HOW DO YOU RECOGNIZE YOUR SOULMATE?

In glittery 1980’s Los Angeles, Beau Kellogg, a brilliant lyricist now reduced to writing advertising jingles, yearns for one last Broadway hit to compensate for his miserable marriage and disappointing life.
Amanda Harary, a young singer out of synch with her contemporaries, dreams of appearing in Broadway musicals while she holds down a day job at a small New York hotel.
When the two meet in a late-night phone conversation over the hotel switchboard, it’s the beginning of something neither has ever found—an impossible situation that will bring them both unexpected success, untold joy and piercing heartache… until they learn that some connections, however improbable, are meant to last forever.
STEALING FIRE is, at its heart, a story for romantics everywhere, who believe in the transformative power of love.

 

   SUSAN SLOATE is the author of 20 books, including her latest, Stealing Fire (which went to #2 in its category on Amazon the day it was published), the upcoming JFK time-travel thriller Forward to Camelot: 50th Anniversary Edition (with Kevin Finn) and Realizing You (with Ron Doades), for which she invented a new genre: the self-help novel. The original 2003 edition of Forward to Camelot went to #6 on Amazon, took honors in 3 literary competitions and was optioned by a Hollywood company for film production.
     Stealing Fire has autobiographical elements, including Susan’s love for the musical theater. She is proud to be distantly related to Fred Ebb, the legendary Broadway lyricist of Cabaret, Chicago, All That Jazz, and “New York, New York”.
     Susan has also written young-adult fiction and non-fiction, including the children’s biography Ray Charles: Find Another Way!, which won the silver medal in the 2007 Children’s Moonbeam Awards. She has been a sportswriter and a screenwriter, managed two recent political campaigns and founded an author’s festival in her hometown outside Charleston, SC.

The Power of the Sidekick: Lise McClendon Sunday, Aug 11 2013 

 Please welcome guest Lise McClendon and her thoughts on the power of the sidekick in books.plan-x-mockup-12

 

 

 Do you have friends? Of course you do. Friendships make everyday life, which often ranges from routine to downright dull, more fun, more manageable, and more understandable. Even more than family, friends are there for you, to laugh and cry and buy you cake. friends-eating-cake-and-drinking-coffee

 

 You know how some friends teach you to be a better friend? They somehow know that being a friend is a skill and they want you to be happy and friend-full. These people, extroverts probably, are experts in friend-making from preschool on. Others, the introverts, the socially awkward, and, yes, many writers, must learn how to give, how to listen, how to share, how to celebrate the successes of others, and all the things that make a person a good friend. It doesn’t matter if you’re a natural or you have to work at it. Just fulfilling that need for friends is where it’s at. One of the joys of my life is figuring this friend thing out, and the incredible friends I’ve made over the years.

 

          women-friends

Characters in novels need friends, too. They may not think they do because they are Shane-like, the solitary hero who wanders into town and makes everything right. But scratch the surface of any good protagonist and you’ll find deep relationships. Maybe they aren’t strictly in the friend category; maybe they’re co-workers, husbands or ex-wives, dead brothers or high school teammates. But no one is truly alone. And when building a character and her past it’s important to remember that while she may go on her quest alone, she brings with her all her friends, at least in her head. Because a person, and a character, is the sum of all their experiences, and their relationships, good and bad, are a key element in that. Along the way she may make new friends, mentors and guides in Quest-speak, and even enemies can become helpers and friends.

 

Sherlock-Holmes-and-Watson

 

            The ultimate friend in fiction is the sidekick. The second man, the understudy. Their number is legendary, from Sherlock’s Dr. Watson and Crusoe’s Friday, to Don Quixote’s Sancho Panza and Tom Sawyer’s Huck Finn. Where would Harry Potter be without Ron and Hermione, or Spenser without Hawk? How could Dorothy have gotten home from Oz without her three sidekicks?

 

            The sidekick is a powerful figure in stories because he has so many vital roles. He contrasts with the protagonist, playing up the good qualities of the hero. The two of them can banter, discuss, and give information to the reader. The sidekick can be wilder, more carefree, rule-breaking or even criminal, moving the plot in ways that the hero in his goodness and single-mindedness can’t. But most importantly the sidekick makes the hero or heroine seem more human. The protagonist can appear bigger than life, a person without flaws, possessing superhuman strength or intelligence or both. The friend is the person who calls them on their crap, who brings them back to Earth, who reminds the reader that if the hero can have one loyal friend, they are maybe, just a little, like you and me.

 

  Even if you don’t give your hero a true sidekick, try to interject a friend somewhere. It makes your character more alive, more human, more connected to their world. In my new thriller, PLAN X, my heroine, Cody Byrne, is a cop with a little PTSD problem she’s hiding from everyone. Everyone, that is, except her best friend. Her friend makes one small appearance in the novel but Cody thinks about her often. It was important that somebody would know her so well that she can’t keep secrets from them.

Cody’s family is spread around the globe, her brother was killed in Afghanistan, and she’s both attracted to and afraid of relationships with men. So her friend’s loyalty and insight is one bright spot in her psyche. Cody ends up in London, tracking down the identity of the Shakespeare professor who’s blown up in Chapter One. There she meets her real sidekick, friend, and helper, the legal attaché at the US Embassy. But that’s halfway through the novel. Back home she needs a connection with somebody: a friend. Because we all need friends.

 

            Friends keep it real, both in life and in fiction. Who are your favorite sidekicks in fiction?

 

 LiseMcClendon

 

Lise McClendon is the author [as Rory Tate] of the new thriller, PLAN X. She has written two mysteries series and several stand-alone novels. Her website is www.lisemcclendon.com. You can find her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter as @LiseMcClendon. She gives a shout-out to her sidekicks including (but not limited to) Sherri, Emilie, Angie, Chris, Bess, Debby, Katy, Diane, Rena, Cindy, Susan, Helen, Melody, and Patricia. Love you, friends.

 

Terry Shames: A Killing At Cotton Hill Sunday, Aug 4 2013 

Auntie M is embarking on an adventure! She’s won a grant to attend St. Hilda’s Crime Conference in her beloved Oxford, site of the first Nora Tierney Mystery, The Blue Virgin (which is a finalist in the Murder and Mayhem Fiction Awards from Chanticleer Media).

After the conference she’ll be traveling around the south of England, researching settings for upcoming books in the series. In her absence, she’s arranged for a stable of great guests to blog in her stead. These kick off with the wonderful new release by author Terry Shames, A Killing At Cotton Hill.

 

Killing at Cotton Hill-3

It’s an honor to be a guest on Auntiemwrites. Auntie M writes fantastic reviews that I look forward to. I won’t be reviewing my own book, A KILLING AT COTTON HILL, today. Instead I’ll be sharing with you some thoughts on how and why it was such an easy book for me to write.

 

 

Because it took two years for my agent to place my book with a publisher, A KILLING AT COTTON HILL got a little fuzzy in my memory. So when I first saw the cover, although I loved the look of it, I wondered what it had to do with the book. Once I started rereading, I realized that the cover artist caught the undercurrent that runs through the book: Samuel Craddock early on says he feels like a rusted out old car. He has lost his wife and his focus in life.

 

 

Once I understood what the artist had in mind, I wondered what kind of car it was. After hours on the Internet looking at different grills, I finally ran into a man in a department store who looked at my cover and said with serene self-assurance, “It’s a 1962 or ’63 Dodge Dart. I know my cars.” I ran to look it up. No, it wasn’t. I turned to my audience, and held a contest to find out. Instant success: It’s a 1966 Plymouth Belvedere.

 

 

The exercise in reading the book for car references lead me to rediscover how much I love my characters. People have asked me where the character of Samuel Craddock came from and how I chose the setting. Unfortunately the real answer is lost. All I know is that I sat down and started writing and two months later, the first draft was done. It seemed effortless—even though most of it was written while I was aboard our catamaran, with lots of guests and activities to keep me busy. I got up every day at 6 AM and wrote for two to three hours, nonstop. I had heard of authors feeling like they channeled their characters, but this is the first time I had experienced it.

 

 

What I do know about the inception of the book is that I had decided that it was time to write a book that would sell. I had written six other novels, all of which had secured good agents, but none of them sold. This time I was determined to write, “the book only I could write.” I had written several short stories about Jarrett Creek, so I had a ready-made cast of characters. But who would be the focus of investigating crimes in the town? I had a vague idea that he would be someone like my grandfather, who was a force in the small town where he lived for almost his whole life. He was never in law enforcement, but he was smart and had his finger on the pulse of the town. The one-time mayor of town, he was called on for years afterwards to solve odd problems. I didn’t think an ex-mayor would be a particularly good investigator—but suppose I made him an ex-chief of police?

 

 

The rest, as they say, is history. Although the main inspiration for Samuel Craddock was my grandfather, there was another person stirred into the mix. Probably my closest friend for thirty years was a man from Kentucky who had a dry wit, a jaded view of people and a southern accent. He died a year before I started the book, and I missed him. So Samuel Craddock is really a blend of my upright grandfather and my droll friend Charlie.

 

Other characters in the book stepped from real life onto the pages. I know the killer in person—although as far as I know he has never really killed anyone. I know the model for Rodell, Jarrett Creek’s chief of police. He was a hard-drinking man. I know the murder victim and Samuel’s friend Loretta—and all the other people who show up. None of them is a direct match for a real person; they are blends of people. And these people aren’t all from my personal past–some are from stories I heard growing up.

 

I also know the geography of Jarrett Creek intimately. I can go there in my head and walk around. I know who lives in what house, the man who has a dog that barks non-stop, the woman whose elderly mother lives with her. I know who is stingy, who is generous, who is foolish, and who is kind. I know the people who have had hard luck, and those who laugh at their worries. And here’s the part that I can hardly fathom: I love all of them. I love their foolishness and their intelligence; their kindness and their selfishness. I even care about the bad people.

 

My hope is to convey through my writing that villains usually behave out of desperation. It doesn’t let them off the hook; but I hope readers understand and maybe have a bit of empathy for them the way Samuel Craddock does—even as he hands them over to the law.

 

 

A KILLING AT COTTON HILL: A Samuel Craddock Mystery                                 Blue

 

 

The chief of police of Jarrett Creek, Texas, doubles as the town drunk. So when Dora Lee Parjeter is murdered, her old friend and former police chief Samuel Craddock steps in to investigate. He discovers that a lot of people may have wanted Dora Lee dead—the conniving rascals on a neighboring farm, her estranged daughter and her surly live-in grandson. And then there’s the stranger Dora Lee claimed was spying on her. During the course of the investigation the human foibles of the small-town residents—their pettiness and generosity, their secret vices and true virtues—are revealed.

 

 

 

Terry Shames grew up in Texas. She has abiding affection for the small town where here grandparents lived, the model for the fictional town of Jarrett Creek. A resident of Berkeley, California, Terry lives with her husband, two rowdy terriers and a semi-tolerant cat. She is a member of Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America. Her second Samuel Craddock novel, THE LAST DEATH OF JACK HARBIN will be out in January 2014. Find out more about Terry and her books at www.Terryshames.com.

 

 

 

“…if you’re as fond of good writing as I am, it will be the characters in Cotton Hill that will keep the pages turning until late in the evening…”

                                                                 Mysteryfile

 

 

“Shames’ novel is an amazing read. The poetic, literary quality of the writing draws you in…”

 

 

                                                               RT Book Reviews

 

“Readers will want to see more of the likable main character, who compassionately but relentlessly sifts the evidence. Convincing small town atmosphere and a vivid supporting cast are a plus.”

 

 

                                                               Publisher Weekly

 

        

Terry Shames offers readers a wonderfully-told tale that kept me turning pages… what kept my interest more than anything was the writing. It was absolutely superb. 

                                                  Lee Lofland, The Graveyard Shift        

     

 

 

 

         A KILLING AT COTTON HILL enchants with memorable characters and a Texas backdrop as authentic as bluebonnets and scrub cedars. A splendid debut by a gifted writer who knows the human heart. 

                                                    Carolyn Hart, Agatha award-winning author of ESCAPE FROM PARIS

 

                                            

 

         Terry Shames does small-town Texas crime right, and A KILLING AT COTTON HILL is the real thing I has humor, insight, and fine characters. Former chief of police Samuel Craddock is a man readers are going to love, and they’ll want to visit him and Jarrett Creek often.”

                         Bill Crider, Anthony award-wining author of COMPOUND MURDER, a Dan Rhodes mystery

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Life of Guppy

the care and feeding of our little fish

dru's book musings

Reading is a wonderful adventure!

JoHanna Massey

“Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.” ― Carl Sagan

MiddleSisterReviews.com

(mid'-l sis'-tǝr) n. the reader's favorite sister

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Smile! Don't look back in anger.

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make Your House a home

K.R. Morrison, Author

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Wicked Cozy Authors

Mysteries with a New England Accent

Some Days You Do ...

Writers & Writing, my own & other people's; movies, art, music & the search for a perfect flat white - the bits & pieces of a writing life.

Gaslight Crime

Author and reviewer of period crime fiction

Crimezine

#1 for Crime

Mellotone70Up

John Harvey on Books & Writing - his own & other people 's - Art, Music, Movies, & the elusive search for the perfect Flat White.

A thrilling Murder-Mystery...

...now being made into a radio drama

BOOK SHELF

"Tell me and I forget-Show me and I remember-Involve me and I learn"

Past Offences: Classic crime, thrillers and mystery book reviews

The best mystery and crime fiction (up to 1987): Book and movie reviews

forensics4fiction

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