Pat McDonald: The Blue Woods Trilogy Sunday, Oct 25 2015 

From time to time Auntie M likes to mix things up. So today instead of a formal review, she’s introducing readers to a writer they may not have found. And being a series writer and a fan of reading them, Pat McDonald has a great one to seek out. Here’s her background and then in her own words, get to know this remarkable woman who has persevered despite a heavy medical condition to continue to write.

Pat_McDonald
British Crime Author Pat McDonald lives in a rural part of the Midlands, United Kingdom. She has an extensive career working as a researcher, project manager and programme manager within the British National Health Service and in law enforcement and the criminal justice system.

Her work encompassed Heart Disease, Mental Illness and Learning Disability (her formal publications under the name Pat Mounser). Her lifelong ambition has always been to become a writer of fiction; after all, fiction is a reflection of life of which she admits she is a long time voyeur.

“I am a people watcher, and nothing pleases me more than sitting in a public place observing the world as it passes by – hence my penchant for writing my novels in my favourite coffee shop, where I have met some extraordinary people.” She is now a full time novelist.

Her crime trilogy (nicknamed ‘The Blue Woods Trilogy‘ because of an over-active imagination at disposal of bodies!) consists of (1) Getting Even: Revenge is best served cold, (2) Rogue Seed and finally (3) Boxed Off.

Pat’s fictitious detectives D.I Luke Wariner and D.S Aidey Carter tackle a range of Major Crimes against a background of corruption and deception involving some of their own officers. Boxed Off, published in December 2014, brings the plot to its conclusion – or does it? “I only meant to write one book,” Pat confesses, “but I have a real difficulty in ending stories!” Well crime does go on!

Her current work in progress is a move to a different genre. It’s a Young Adult paranormal thriller about stalking, based in the North of Wales, UK, and has a hint of historical W.W 1 drama that is surprisingly haunting!

‘The Blue Woods Trilogy’

When I began writing fiction, I started by writing snippets of my own life which if I ever decide to write an autobiography would contribute as the basis to such a book. But I was far more interested in other people, having spent most of my life watching the world go by with all of its most interesting people.

That is why almost all of the ‘Blue Woods Trilogy’ was written in a coffee shop and other public places. Some of Getting Even was written on a plane out to Dubai and in United Arab Emirates hotels, what I call ‘real’ research; I was there so it had to go in the book.

I love to create my characters from snippets of conversations with strangers; such a character was Hugo Bott, the most unlikely person to become a Police Constable. Having spent seventeen years meeting police officers, I can honestly say my characters are my own creation, within the police setting I knew very well.

I like to take a real situation or setting and say “what if……” just for the sheer hell of it. I loved creating Hugo Bott because he is different with a twist and no psychosomatic testing in the days he was appointed, he became one of my characters.

I have been accused of having too many characters and hence too many personal situations, when what the reader wants is only the action and the thrills. My books are real life with a twist, and my disappointment with most crime books, films and dramas is that the police officers don’t seem to have a life outside of their work. Police officers do. Not only do they have to balance their home life against their work, it can often get in the way and influence it. One impacts on the other. I have tried to reproduce this and then add the – what if.

I don’t really do happy endings, life is not like that or if it is then I would say that these were charmed lives and I have yet to meet someone who has one. It doesn’t mean that my trilogy is all doom and gloom, far from it. I like to weave a theme through each one. The first is about revenge, but explores all facets of it; part of which is life has a natural justice. Rogue Seed was, yes, botanical – a plant growing in the wrong place by force of nature; but also it explores what would happen if a person grew in the wrong place and of course ‘Going Rogue’ is the police concept of going bad. Boxed Off was about finishing the books for me, making one’s life neat and tidy, but also about containing – a body, a person or in one scene people at a ‘rave’.

Finishing the trilogy left me wondering about a character in the first book who drops out of the plot. Needing to know what happened to her became my fourth book (although separate); Breaking Free allowed me to find out. You see I am a ‘free flow’ writer. I don’t plan my plots–they evolve. And so I decided what would happen if she, Livia Morrison, was to come back to the UK? It was my opportunity to explore another genre and is a mix that led me find my ending in Wales at Caernarfon Castle where the Royal Welsh Fusilier’s have their exhibition. This book is a combination of paranormal, historical and crime I wrote for my granddaughters and will be out during 2015.

I am currently editing this book whist I convalesce from a recent operation to remove a brain tumour and take up a new venture. Oh, did I mention the one I’m also writing? It is a humorous look at crime from the villain’s side…..working title ‘A Penny For Them.’

You can find Pat and her books here: Amazon: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Pat-McDonald/e/B00R372WK4/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1434467288&sr=1-2-ent

Face Book: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Pat-Mcdonald/502374626484358?ref=bookmarks

Twitter: @issyblack

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Polly Iyer: Indiscretion, a Kindle Scout Winner Sunday, Oct 18 2015 

Please welcome author Polly Iyer, who will describe for readers her experience with the Kindle Scout program.

Iyer Indiscretion

I just launched my Kindle Scout winner, Indiscretion. This isn’t my first book, but after my very first book, my debut written under a pen name, this is probably the biggest deal for me.

To win a Kindle Press contract, I first had to be accepted into the program. Then, for the next thirty days, my book had to remain “Hot and Trending,” as much as possible. I tweeted and Facebooked, and posted on the many loops I belong to, which really isn’t that many, to get people to nominate the book if they like the sample read.

Those thirty days were very stressful, especially when my book went off the H &T list. I’d give another push on social media and hope my fate improved. When the thirty days were over, I had some stats. I had 370 hours of Hot and Trending out of the 720 hours in the thirty days. That’s a little better than 50%. There were 2.195 page views. 51% came from the Kindle Scout site and 49% came from external links, mainly Facebook. Some came from my website, and others from the blog site, The Blood Red Pencil.

Surprisingly, very few came from Twitter. I always wonder how much of my tweets are actually read, or do they just turn into retweets. There’s always been a bit of the “preaching to the choir” element of Twitter, at least for writers. I know the couple of Facebook groups I belong to were very supportive, and most of them nominated the book. Nominations cost nothing, and if the book is finally selected, the nominators get a free copy two weeks before the book is released.

This is a good thing and a bad thing. Good because the nominations result in success for the book. Bad because so many people get it for free that when it goes on sale, many of my readers already have it. That means promoting it to readers who don’t know my work and hope they find me.

I don’t know what criteria the Kindle Press people use to make the final determination. I do know that people with more Hot and Trending hours than I had weren’t selected, and others with even less were chosen. I imagine part of their decision is based on a writer’s sales history and part on what the Kindle Press people feel has potential to be a good seller.

Then came the edits. Mine were fantastic. The editor found a big plot hole that all my previous readers and personal editors didn’t catch. Obviously, neither did I. It required a rewrite of nine pages and became a better book because of it. There were other edits, some a matter of style, others punctuation, some just nitpickers. I accepted those I agreed with and ignored the rest, which was my prerogative.

September 1st was release day. As I write this a few days before, I have already accumulated seven reviews from its pre-order status—all good, so I’m happy about that. Some say it’s my best book. I’m not a good judge of my work. I write them. It stands to reason I also like them, or I wouldn’t publish them.

I always create characters with a complicated past or present. Characterization is important to me. Besides the crime fiction part, Indiscretion goes deeper and more seriously into a deteriorating marriage, so it almost becomes women’s fiction in parts. That’s a little different for me, and it was also challenging to depict that part of the story and still interweave it into the mystery.

The following is the blurb:
Separated from her controlling husband, romance author Zoe Swan meets a charismatic art history professor on the beach and begins a torrid affair. But who is he really? By the time Zoe finds out, she’s on the run with her husband, his jewel thief brother, and a priceless painting stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. With the FBI and the murderer in pursuit, the trio heads to Boston. The only way to prove their innocence is to make a deal with the very people who want them dead.

If this sounds interesting to you, you can download it on Amazon. Happy reading.

Polly for Authors on the Air
Polly Iyer is the Kindle bestselling author of eight suspense/thriller novels: Hooked, InSight, Murder Déjà Vu, Threads, the Kindle Scout winner, Indiscretion, and three books in the Diana Racine Psychic Suspense series: Mind Games, Goddess of the Moon, and Backlash. Her books contain adult language and situations with characters who sometimes tread ethical lines. Polly grew up on the Massachusetts coast and studied at Massachusetts College of Art and Design in Boston. She lives in South Carolina. Learn more about her at http://PollyIyer.com and feel free to email her at PollyIyer at gmail dot com. She loves to hear from her readers.

Sarah Ward: In Bitter Chill Tuesday, Oct 13 2015 

InBitterChill

England’s rural Derbyshire is the setting for Sarah Ward’s debut mystery, In Bitter Chill, introducing introspective DI Francis Sadler, DC Connie Childs and their team. It promises to be the best of police procedurals, where the mystery is strong and setting as stark as the killings being investigated.

Thirty years ago two young children were kidnapped on their way to school. Rachel Jones was found wandering hours later, but her companion, Sophie Jenkins, never surfaced and no trace of her body was ever found.

On the 30th anniversary of what is surely Sophie’s death, her mother commits suicide, which reopens the cold case in hopes the original team overlooked something that might lead to resolution of the case.

Rachel has become a genealogist and a local history expert who lives quietly and would continue to do so but this reopening of the case on the heels of Mrs. Jenkins suicide disrupts the peace Rachel has created, bringing reporters at her door. Worst of all are her efforts to remember details of that horrific day, when the girls were coaxed by a woman into a car with disastrous results.

Then a former teacher of Rachel’s is found strangled in the same woods where the girls went missing, and suddenly no one in the area feels safe, least of all, Rachel Jones. As Sadler and Connie investigate the new and old cases, they uncover secrets long kept buried as the threat rises.

Ward does a nice job of letting the setting become another character, and gives us enough of the inner lives of Sadler and Connie, as well as Connie’s closest competition in the team, the almost-married Palmer, to make readers look for the next installment of this team. Destined to be a series readers will seek out.

Auntie M had the pleasure this past week to meet with Sarah Ward at the Bouchercon Mystery Convention. A blogger for Crimepieces, Ward’s love of crime fiction kept us talking about our favorites and how In Bitter Chill came to be written:

Sarah Ward: I was living and Greece at the time I wrote the book and having a bout of homesickness. It was incredibly hot, and I kept myself cool by thinking of the Derbyshire winter. It seemed natural to use that area, but Stephen Booth has stolen a lot of the popular places! So I made up a fictional town surrounded by the real ones and that’s worked well. I think being at some remove helped me write it, too, although having lived there I obviously know the area well. In the winter the tourists have gone and it’s deserted and feels isolated but very beautiful.

Auntie M: That certainly comes through, the majesty of the area as well as its bleak isolation. What about the sequel, which I hear is written and will be out next year? What it easier or tougher to write?

SW: I was back in Derbyshire by then and it seemed a bit harder to remove myself from the area as I wrote. It’s such a lovely area, with the Peak District National Park owned by private landowners. I’m quite proud of the fact that it was the first national park, this jewel of nature surrounded by South Manchester, Sheffield and Nottingham, great industrial areas.

AM: After you chose the setting, what prompted this particular storyline?

SW: I had a very similar incident happen to me when I was twelve and walking to school. A woman stopped and asked me to post a letter for her, which I did, and then wanted to drive me the rest of the way to school. I didn’t get in her car, but she was persistent until she finally drove off. I never told my parents about it, either. But years later I wondered what would have happened if I HAD gotten into that car . . . so I made the story revolve around two younger girls who had gotten into the car with the woman.

AM: Was there a kind of release in writing it down, exploring that episode?

SW: To a degree, but the most surprising thing about exposing secrets, which the book revolves around, is that people come up to me all the time at signings and tell me their secrets, completely without prompting. It’s usually family secrets of some kind, so I suppose the book has struck a chord with them.

AM: What about the relationships of Sadler, Connie and Palmer?

SW: I have a story arc planned, oh yes, but I’m not giving away secrets except to say there’s a surprise there–you’ll just have to read the next one to see what’s happening!

Hakan Oslundh: The Intruder Wednesday, Oct 7 2015 

Intruder
The isolated island of Sweden’s Faro is the setting for Hakan Oslundh’s crime novel, The Intruder.
Auntie M finds the Scandinavian writers have different conventions to their crime novels, a more leisurely developed pace that allows for the characters lives to be examined before the hunt for a perpetrator sets in. There’s a large sense of setting, too, which looms over the action and in this case, helps to narrow down the suspects when a truly horrific crime sets in.

But long before we get to the terrible act to come, there are small incidents occurring to this family with two small children. Malin Andersson is a food blogger; her husband Henrik Kjellander is a professional photographer who travels extensively on photo shoots with glamorous models, those print ads paying the bills and helping the couple renovate the house and outbuildings they’ve purchased on Faro. Their plan is to have an artists colony there, a place where other photographers will gather to recharge their batteries, refreshed by the stark landscape and Malin’s food.

The family returns to their home after a four week vacation that has allowed them to rent the house out for decent prices. But immediately upon their return, Malin is frustrated not just by the uncleanliness the last tenant left, but by missing times from the home. There are pieces of glass on the floor, too, found only when Malin steps on one and cuts her foot just as their daughter calls them to her room: someone has defecated in her toy basket.

And then Malin notices that family photos are missing, and when she finds one shoved amongst their linens she calls the police in fear, for the photograph has been damage in that all of their eyes have been poked out.

Gotland detective Fredrik Broman is sent to interview the couple. Just returning after a lengthy medical leave from fall that almost killed him, he’s finding his footing again at work and at home, concerned he doesn’t have what it takes to work at policing again. These incidents on Faro could be a joke, but Broman takes them as a warning. Then the couple’s daughter disappears at lunch from her school, and the action ratchets up.

Henrik has returned to the island under unusual circumstances. Estranged from his mother’s second family, a lawsuit between the two arms of the family seems the obvious place to look for suspects. When the incidents turn deadly, Broman and his team will find themselves rapidly trying to save this family as they exhaust all possible suspects, hampered by the remoteness of the setting.

The language is lovely; there is a depth of characterization of all of the participants Auntie M enjoys that makes the heartbreak later on particularly poignant. This mystery is rich with the psychology of the participants, filled with secrets of the past, and vastly enjoyable.

Lesley A. Diehl: The Eve Appel Mysteries Sunday, Oct 4 2015 

sporting_murder

Two of My Favorite Things

Lesley A. Diehl

How to put together two of my favorite things: a good laugh and a great bargain?

I think I’ve managed to do both in my Eve Appel mysteries: A Secondhand Murder, Dead in the Water, and A Sporting Murder.
dead_water
Eve, a fashionista from Connecticut, and her best friend, Madeleine, own a high-end consignment shop in rural Florida and, with Eve’s nose for being nosey, the gals get themselves into improbable situations.

In A Sporting Murder, Eve, Madeleine and a host of other characters including her grandmother, a hunky PI, a hunkier Miccosukee Indian, a mob boss, some cowboys and a lot of swamp denizens are at it again, this time involved in a favorite pastime of rural Floridians—hunting.

I plunge Eve into the midst of a game reserve where the quarry is not quite legal and sometimes horribly exotic. First a sportsman is found dead on the hunting ranch and a friend of Eve’s is accused of the murder. Then her Miccosukee friend Sammy’s nephew is found dead.
secondhand_murder

Eve suspects the hunting ranch owner is involved, but before she and Sammy can uncover evidence pointing to the guilty party, Sammy disappears. The authorities want to believe Sammy is just another Indian off on a drinking binge, but Eve knows better and, in her attempt to find him, she becomes the hunted.

Eve’s not finished being snoopy, however. Her fourth adventure chasing the bad guys and wearing designer shoes in the swamps of Florida will appear in 2016. Look for it! And my other books and short stories at my website: http://www.lesleyadiehl.com.

Buy A Sporting Murder at http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_c_0_17?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=a+sporting+murder&sprefix=A+Sporting+Murder%2Caps%2C505
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About Lesley: Lesley retired from her life as a professor of psychology and reclaimed her country roots by moving to a small cottage in the Butternut River Valley in upstate New York. In the winter she migrates to old Florida—cowboys, scrub palmetto, and open fields of grazing cattle, a place where spurs still jingle in the post office, and gators make golf a contact sport. Back north, the shy ghost inhabiting the cottage serves as her literary muse. When not writing, she gardens, cooks and renovates the 1874 cottage with the help of her husband, two cats and, of course, Fred the ghost, who gives artistic direction to their work.

She is the author of a number of mystery series (Microbrewing Series, Big Lake Mystery Series, Eve Appel Mystery Series and the Laura Murphy Mysteries), a standalone mystery (Angel Sleuth) and numerous short stories.

Visit her on her website: http://www.lesleyadiehl.com