Saturday, July 4, 2015

Happy 4th of July!


I'm celebrating the 4th of July with an excerpt from Murder & Mayhem in Goose Pimple Junction. Small towns are known for their festivals and celebrations, and GPJ is no exception. So grab a glass of sweet tea and sit down a spell for a visit to Goose Pimple Junction and the town's 4th of July celebration. And don't miss the special on Heroes & Hooligans in Goose Pimple Junction. Buy it now through July 6 for just $0.99.


EXCERPT FROM MURDER & MAYHEM IN GOOSE PIMPLE JUNCTION

CHAPTER 14

Tess and Jack walked the few blocks to the town’s Fourth of July celebration, commenting on all the homes’ patriotic decorations. 

“The town sure is decked out,” Jack commented.

Flags hung on utility poles and street lamps that dotted the street, and every home leading in or out of town had a big American flag posted either on the house or lawn.

“I’ve never seen so many decorations in all my life.” Tess looked first one way and then the other, trying to take it all in.

“The women’s club sponsors a contest, and people really get into it, decorating houses in any way imaginable, ranging from tasteful to downright tacky.”

To prove his point, they passed a house where window boxes with red, white, and blue flowers spilled out over the sides and mini American flags sprouted among the foliage. Several houses had red, white, and blue bunting hanging from covered porches. Small flags lined the sidewalks leading up to some of the houses. Streamers decorated trees in one yard; in another, mini versions of the stars and stripes were attached to tree limbs, making them look like leaves. Tess was so engrossed in a lawn’s solid sea of mini Old Glories, she wasn’t watching where she was going and almost tripped over a dog. Jack caught her arm, and she silently dared him to comment.

“Do the businesses have a contest, too?” she asked, looking around the town square.
“Oh, yeah, each one has to outdo the other.”

Every business was in full regalia, with streamers, bunting, flags, or balloons decorating their storefronts. Some had red, white, and blue lights surrounding the doors. Almost all had a sign in their window wishing America a happy birthday.

Tess smelled the mingling scents of hot grease, barbecue, and popcorn, and saw five men dressed as Abe Lincoln and two as George Washington. Jack pointed out two people dressed as the Statue of Liberty wandering around. Crazy, creative homemade patriotic hats and glasses were on more heads than not. How someone could wear glasses with little flashing light bulbs, and walk straight, Tess couldn’t understand. She had never seen so much red, white, and blue in such a condensed space. No one dared wear any other color that day. Even Pickle sported a red T-shirt, this one with the words, “Lock Up Your Daughters!”

Jack saw Pickle’s shirt. “I’m not even going to touch that one.”

After waving to all of the parade participants, Tess and Jack meandered through the various booths, sampling barbecue, hot dogs, potato salad, and fried apple pies.

“Tess, I’m full as a tick on a fat dog,” Jack said. “Let’s go find a seat. I think the winner of the Miss Goose Pimple Junction Contest is about to be announced.”

Tess was too full to walk another step when they took seats next to Lou, who was dressed in red, white, and blue, and wore a headband with glittery red and blue stars on springs that looked like antennae.

“Well hi, y’all!” Lou said, reaching out to pat each of them. “Hireyew?”

“Lou, if I was any happier I’d be twins,” Jack said.

“Well, set yourselves down and get ready to feast your eyes, Jack,” Lou said with a wink. Looking at Tess she added, “And you?”

“I’m too pooped to pop,” Tess complained, adding, “How are you?”

“Aw, honey, I couldn’t be better. It’s the nation’s birthday, my family is here, and I’m having a good face day.”

“Yes, you are, Lou,” Tess laughed, “yes, you are!”

“What are you talking about, woman? You always have a good face day!” Jack said.

Lou took a break in the joking to lean toward Tess’s ear, whispering seriously, “You know what you’re doing, right?” Tess gave her a questioning look and Lou’s eyes went to Jack.
Their conversation was interrupted when a thirty-something brunette and a young girl, who looked to be about ten years old, sat down on the other side of Lou. The woman had brown hair and eyes that were so brown they were almost black. She had a pretty face, but her body was shaped a little bit like a pear. The little girl looked just like her mother, minus the pear shape.

“Aw, here are my babies now. Tessie, meet my new roommates. This is Martha Maye, my daughter, and this here is Buttabean, my granddaughter,” Lou proudly said. “Girls, this is Tess and Jack.”

Martha Maye leaned over her mother to shake hands and said, “Don’t worry, I didn’t actually name my child ‘Butterbean.’ That’s just our special name for her. Feel free to call her Carrie.” She smoothed Butterbean’s hair back. “I’m happy to meet you both. I’ve heard so much about you.”

“I’m glad to meet you, too, Martha Maye . . . and . . . ” Tess hesitated, while Lou looked expectantly at her, until Tess finished, “. . . Butterbean.” Lou punctuated her approval with a head nod and flashed a satisfied smile.

“May I ask why you call your beautiful granddaughter Butterbean?” asked Jack.

Lou and her daughter looked at each other, exchanging a meaningful glance. Finally, Martha said, “It’s a special name because it’s what Mama was called as a child.”

“And this little Buttabean is a special child.” Lou’s eyes suddenly glistened with tears.
“Even though any grandmother would say that, I have to agree with her.” Martha Maye combed her fingers through the little girl’s long brown hair.

“Lou, are you gonna do your usual commentary on the contest?” Jack asked, changing the subject.

“Well, honey, I don’t know if I should. Tessie here’ll think poorly of me if I go shooting my mouth off as usual.”

Tess looked to Jack for an explanation.

“See, Miss Goose Pimple Junction is not chosen on talent, looks, or brains, but more or less on popularity,” Jack explained. “Of course, whichever contestant’s father glad-handed the most voters might have something to do with the outcome, too.”

“What do you mean?” Tess asked.

“The contest is a parliamentarian’s nightmare. You saw the voting over at the Piggly Wiggly grocery store all last week, right?” Tess nodded. “Well, did you know anyone could vote each and every time they visited the store, if they wanted?”

Tess shook her head.

“It’s true,” Jack continued. “And the best seat in the house for the announcing of the new Miss Goose Pimple Junction is sitting next to Lou. She won’t sugarcoat anything, she’ll give you a commentary on each contestant, and she’ll entertain you while she’s at it.”

“In that case, Lou, please don’t censure yourself on my account.”

“All right, if you’re sure . . . ” Lou looked like she might need some more prodding, but the music started, and the mayor appeared on the makeshift stage.

“Afternoon, everyone. And Happy Birthday, America!” The crowd applauded. “Let’s warmly welcome the lovely ladies, our fine contestants for Miss Goose Pimple Junction.” Buck swung his arm out toward the women, who were walking onstage to applause and whistles.
“These beautiful young women don’t need an introduction, but it’s protocol, so I’m duty-bound to do it,” he continued. “Our first contestant is Araminta Lee.”

Araminta stepped forward, twirled around, in model fashion, and stepped back.

Lou put her hand up to the side of her mouth and whispered to Tess, “She looks like she made an ugly pie and ate every slice.” Jack leaned in, and Tess whispered Lou’s line to him.

“Cornelia Crump,” the mayor said into the microphone. Cornelia proceeded to step up and twirl.

“Land sakes, she can’t help that she’s ugly, but she could’ve stayed home,” Lou whispered.

“Julia Cole,” was the next contestant called. She stumbled a bit as she stepped forward.

“Bless her heart,” Lou said, “she’s so tall if she falls down she’ll be halfway home.”

By now, Jack was leaning over Tess’s lap so he could hear Lou’s commentary straight from her, since Tess had her hand over her mouth, trying not to laugh out loud.

“Nellie Baker.”

“Mmm mmm, look at her.” Lou shook her head. “She’s so buck-toothed she could eat an apple through a picket fence.”

“And last but not least, Frona Walker.”

“Aw, it’s not right to say what I think of poor Frona.”

“Lou, you can’t stop now. This is the last one,” Tess begged.

Lou took a deep breath, put her hand up to partially cover her mouth, and whispered, “She’s so ugly they had to tie a pork chop around her neck to get the dog to play with her.”

“And the winner is . . . Julia Cole.”

Lou leaned over Tess’s lap and whispered, “I know Julia’s mama is so happy. She was so ugly when she was born, her mama used to borrow a baby to take to church on Sunday.”

“Lou, you outdid yourself this year. Excellent work.” Jack patted her on the back, as the audience dispersed.

“I don’t understand,” Tess said, confused. “Why aren’t these women more . . . beauty queen-like?”

“Well, now see, there’s your problem. You’re thinking Miss Goose Pimple Junction’s a beauty contest. No, honey. This contest isn’t about how you look, it’s about who you know. Social prestige and power. That’s why I don’t mind making fun of the girls. There’s not a one was in it on account of their beauty or brains or talent, like a contest should be. It’s all political now. It’s just a crock of . . .  ”

“Mama!” Martha Maye interrupted. “Little pitchers have big ears.” She hitched her head toward Butterbean.

“Oh yeah, sorry, honey. Anyway, it’s all in good fun. Well,” she said, looking past Martha Maye. “Hidee, Henry Clay. I figured you’d be around.”

Henry Clay Price had quietly walked up to the group and was standing right behind Martha Maye. He had a wide smile on his face and a campaign button on his shirt that said, “Henry Clay Price for Governor.” Martha Maye turned, saw him, and promptly wrapped him in a friendly hug.
 
“Henry Clay. How long’s it been? It’s so great to see you.”

Henry Clay’s face turned bright red, but he looked extremely pleased to see Martha Maye, too. “What are you doing here, Martha?”

Lou jumped in and said, “It’s nice to see you, Henry, but we were just headed up to the watermelon seed spitting contest. Martha Maye, you and Buttabean are coming, too, ain’tcha?”

“Mama, y’all take Butterbean and gwon ahead, I’ll catch up directly. I wanna talk to Henry Clay a minute.”

Tess looked at Jack. He leaned into her ear and said, “She said go on ahead, and she’ll catch up directly.” He enunciated the words.

Tess nodded.

They all strolled off, leaving Martha Maye and Henry Clay behind. As they walked, Lou brought Tess and Jack up to date on her daughter and the candidate for governor.

“Martha Maye and Henry Clay — isn’t that cute how that rhymes?” She shook her head. “Anyway, they grew up together. He’s been sweet on her long’s I can recollect. They even dated, against my better judgment, the summer she was home before her last year in college. But it was right about then that she met Lenny, and he swept her off her feet and away from Henry Clay.” Her face grew hard. “That Lenny could charm the dew off of honeysuckle, let me tell you.”

“Did Henry Clay ever marry?” Tess asked.

“Oh, yeah. But his wife ran off with the mailman. Or something like that. I think it broke his heart when Martha Maye got married, and he married on the rebound. You wanna hear a funny story about your mama?” She looked down at Butterbean, who nodded her head. “When they were in junior high school, Henry Clay came up to her one day, out on our driveway. He handed her a note that said, “Will you be my girlfriend?” Well, she didn’t know what to do, so she said, ‘Wait a minute, I gotta go ask my mama.’ And in the house she ran. She asked me what she should do. I told her to tell him she already had a boyfriend. So she went running back out and told poor old Henry Clay, ‘My mama said I’m already seeing somebody and I can’t see two boys at once.’”

Everyone laughed at Lou’s story, and Tess said, “He seems like a nice enough fellow.”
“Henry Clay’s a banker, aspiring to be the governor. He’s made a good living for himself. He just worries me a little about getting on with Mart. He’s a nice boy, but he don’t have the sense God gave a chigger. He’s got too much book-smarts, and not enough common sense. And he’s a typical politician.” She stopped and looked at her granddaughter. “Buttabean, you wont a sno-cone? Hare,” she gave the girl some money, “go gitcherself one. It’s hotter ‘n a fritter out here.”

Just as Butterbean skipped away, Buck headed for their group and Lou scowled. “Now that’n’s one who could give Lenny a run for his money. Beauty’s only skin deep, but ugly goes all the way to the bone.” She sounded meaner than Tess thought was possible out of Lou. “I don’t have much use for either of them.”

“And a marvelous fourth of Joo-lye to y’all,” a jovial Buck said.

Then, just as soon as the cloud had come on her face, she brightened again, as Butterbean rejoined them, already sporting blue lips from the blueberry sno-cone she was sipping. “Let’s stop by and take a look-see at the baking contest. They shouldoughtta have the winners by now.”

“I noticed you took my suggestion and entered a pie, Miss Tess,” Buck smiled down at her, and Jack moved closer to her.

“Good idea, Louetta. Buck, if you’ll excuse us.”

They went to look at the myriad display of baked goods. Lou didn’t know that Tess had entered her apple pie. When she saw Tess’s name next to the blue ribbon, she exclaimed, “Well, butter my butt, and call me a biscuit!”

“I won?” Tess was shocked. A big smile came over her face, reality sinking in. “I won!”
“And look here, Granny, your peanut butter cookies won, too!” Butterbean said, with a blue mouth.

“And your fudge,” Jack said, moving down the line, “and your coconut cake, Lou. You two gals cleaned up!”

After reveling in their victories, they watched Clive and Earl battle it out in the watermelon seed spitting contest, with Earl being the victor. The next event was one for fathers and daughters.

“What do you say, Butterbean? Want to sneak in with me?” Jack asked.

They watched as some of the fathers in town, and Jack as a substitute father, donned goggles and had their faces lathered with shaving cream. The children were given squirt guns, and at the count of three, the race was on to see who would be the first to squirt their daddy’s face clean. Jack and Butterbean didn’t win, but they had a ball.

Just as Jack predicted, as they made their way through the crowd that day all of the ladies fawned over him, young and old. Tess was introduced over and over again, to some women who were clearly jealous, and others who were glad to see him “with such a nice girl.”

At dusk, Jack grabbed Tess’s hand and led her away from the heart of town and the crowd of people to a grassy hill where they’d be able to watch the fireworks alone. Tess protested, but Jack was persistent. She wasn’t sure the other night had been a good idea. Maybe she’d let her guard down because of the martini, but she pledged anew to keep her distance from Jack. There was still that matter of him cheating on his wife.

As Jack settled onto the cool grass at the very top of the hill, Tess towered over him. “Jackson Wright! What are you doing?”

Lying down, he put his hands behind his head and scowled up at her.

“I do believe you could start an argument in an empty house, Mary Tess.”

“Jack, what are we doing up here? People will think we’re being anti-social.”

“You wanted to spend time alone with me,” he said, now looking up at the sky with a serene look on his face.

“What?” she screeched.

“Well, that’s what you said . . . ”

“I said no such thing and you know it!”

“Oh. Maybe it was me who wanted to spend time alone with you, then,” he grinned, reaching out to pat the grass beside him. “Come on in, pretty lady. The water’s fine.”

“Jackson, I can’t believe — ”

“Shh, shh . . .  now just simmer down. Stop arguing and sit down and relax.” He looked up at her. “Please?”

Nothing was said as she sat down next to him, bringing her legs up to her chest and wrapping her arms around her knees.

“How’s the book coming?” he asked, scooting toward her.

“I haven’t had much time to work on it lately. Between the bookstore and researching Lou’s family . . . ”

“Hey! I meant to ask. Did you look any further online? Did you find anything?”

“Yes and no.”

“Yes and no?”

“Yes, I looked, and no, I didn’t find anything,” she explained.

“Damn.”

“Yeah.”

“So what’s our next move?”

“I don’t know. I haven’t figured that out yet.”

“Do you still think we shouldn’t approach Lou about it?”

“Yes, I have a hunch it’s still too painful for her even all these years later.”

“Hmmm. Maybe we could discreetly talk to Martha Maye. She might know something.”

“That’s a good idea.” Tess was genuinely enthused at the idea.

“Yep, I’m full of good ideas.” Again, he moved closer to her until their thighs were touching.

Just then a burst of vibrant white crackled and popped in the sky, raining down twinkling embers as it dissipated. They heard a thwomp thwomp thwomp sound signaling a second round of fireworks would follow the first, this one more brilliant and colorful. Tess couldn’t decide whether to look at the sky or at Jack. They were equally spectacular.



EZZIE SAYS . . .


BUY THE BOOKS!

Monday, June 29, 2015

FEATURED AUTHOR: WENDY TYSON


ABOUT THE BOOK


When image consultant Allison Campbell attends an award ceremony to honor a designer friend, she’s thrust into a murder investigation. Only this time, it’s personal.

A former boyfriend is dead, slain on the streets of Philadelphia. His widow claims he was meeting with Allison, yet Allison hadn’t spoken to him in years. Nothing about his death—or life—makes sense. When compromising photos from their past arrive at Allison’s office, they raise more questions than they answer.

Driven to find justice, Allison deconstructs the image her ex had created for himself, looking for clues about the man he’d become. As her hunt for the truth unveils secrets, Allison’s past and present collide—with deadly results.



INTERVIEW WITH WENDY TYSON

Wendy, how long have you been writing, and how did you start?
I’ve been writing most of my life. I penned my first short story when I was in elementary school — it was about a ghost dog, and I think my mother still has it in a drawer somewhere — and that was the start of my love affair with the written word. Despite years of learning and practicing craft, my journey to publication was long and winding. I had a number of short stories published after college, but I didn’t write my first novel (which remains unpublished!) until I was in my thirties.

Do you have another job outside of writing?
I’m an ERISA attorney.  I work full-time for a mutual fund company — quite a contrast to writing mysteries!

How did you create the plot for this book?
The book started with an idea for an opening scene. I had a vision of Allison receiving an upsetting phone call from someone in her past while attending an award celebration for a designer friend. I based the novel on that concept, working through the details and adjusting the plot as the idea developed.

How do you get to know your characters?
Great question. While in college, I took an advanced fiction writing class. As a class assignment, I had written a short story about a woman whose life unraveled when her husband left her for his mistress. In one of the scenes, I had my character make instant coffee. My classmates nailed me for that during the critique session. They said my character was the kind of particular individual who would take the time to brew coffee — she would never serve instant. I realized they were right, but back then, all I made was instant coffee. I had to go outside my own experiences to portray my character in an authentic way. It was a lesson I’ve never forgotten. 

Now, I live with my characters for a long time before I write a single word of a manuscript. I do a lot of freewriting about them, old-fashioned pen to paper, and once I have a firm sense of who they are, I play little games, quizzing myself about their preferences, likes and dislikes, etc. Details are critical.

Who are your favorite authors?
I’m an eclectic reader — I love everything from science fiction and horror to literary fiction and historical romance. My favorite authors, however, write mysteries and thrillers. Elizabeth George, Jonathan Kellerman, Agatha Christie, Harlan Coben, Donna Leon, P.D. James . . . just to name a few. 

What book are you currently reading and in what format?
The Girl on a Train, by Paula Hawkins, in hardcover. I just started it, and I can’t put it down.

Where and when do you prefer to do your writing?
Anywhere with a view! I especially like ski lodges. I enjoy having people around me — the background noise helps me focus — and I love the views. Big Sky in Montana is a favorite spot. My husband and boys ski and I write.

If you could only keep one book, what would it be?

Stephen King’s The Stand. I have read it at least a dozen times, and I learn something new about craft each time I open it.

Let's pretend you’re leaving your country for a year. What’s the last meal (or food) you would want to have before leaving?
My mother’s eggplant parmigiana! It’s long been a favorite, and if I’m leaving the country for a year and I can can’t convince her to join me, that’s what I’d choose.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I love to travel with my family, and garden/cook. Last year, my husband, kids, and I drove from our home in Pennsylvania to Montana, where we stayed for two weeks before driving home again. The time in Montana was wonderful, but the process of getting there — visiting points along the way in Wisconsin, South Dakota, and Wyoming — was pretty amazing. This year we’re heading to Europe and plan to spend time visiting (by car) several countries.
Gardening is another passion. We’re avid organic gardeners. Years ago, affected by the market downturn and concerned about the price of organic produce, we decided to grow our own vegetables. Our small garden plot now takes up most of our third of an acre yard and we enjoy our own vegetables year-round. 

What are you working on now?

I’m finishing up the first book in a new series. The novel is called A Muddied Murder, and it’s the debut in The Greenhouse Mystery Series, which will be published by Henery Press beginning in the spring of 2016. The series centers on a young, widowed environmental lawyer who returns home to rural Pennsylvania to care for her spirited, aging grandmother and launch the family’s organic farm and cafĂ©. In the first book, she and the town’s hunky veterinarian find the body of the local zoning commissioner in her barn — and she, of course, is compelled to find the killer. 

I’m also writing the next Allison Campbell novel, Fatal Facade, which is due out next summer. I’m thrilled to announce that I have a contract with Henery Press for three more books in that series. In Fatal Facade, Allison and friends head to Italy where Allison becomes entangled in the murder investigation of a beautiful, mysterious ex pat.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Wendy Tyson is an author, lawyer and former therapist whose background has inspired her mysteries and thrillers. Wendy has written four published crime novels, including Dying Brand,the third novel in the Allison Campbell Mystery Series, released on May 5, 2015.  The first in the Campbell series, Killer Image, was named a best mystery for book clubs in 2014 by Examiner.com. Wendy is also the author of the Greenhouse Mystery Series, the first of which, A Muddied Murder, is due to be released just in time for spring 2016. Wendy is a member of Sisters in Crime and International Thriller Writers, and she is a contributing editor for The Big Thrill, International Thriller Writers’ online magazine.  Wendy lives near Philadelphia with her husband, three sons and two dogs. Visit Wendy at http://www.watyson.com/.



Saturday, June 27, 2015

Featured Author: Rich Zahradnik

Drop Dead Punk

by Rich Zahradnik

on Tour July 2015

About the book

cover
Coleridge Taylor is searching for his next scoop on the police beat. The Messenger-Telegram reporter has a lot to choose from on the crime-ridden streets of New York City in 1975. One story outside his beat is grabbing all the front page glory: New York teeters on the brink of bankruptcy, and President Ford just told the city, as the Daily News so aptly puts it, "Drop Dead." Taylor's situation is nearly as desperate. His home is a borrowed dry-docked houseboat, his newspaper may also be on the way out, and his drunk father keeps getting arrested.

A source sends Taylor down to Alphabet City, hang-out of the punks who gravitate to the rock club CBGB. There he finds the bloody fallout from a mugging. Two dead bodies: a punk named Johnny Mort and a cop named Robert Dodd. Each looks too messed up to have killed the other. Taylor starts asking around. The punk was a good kid, the peace-loving guardian angel of the neighborhood's stray dogs. What led him to mug a woman at gunpoint? And why is Officer Samantha Callahan being accused of leaving her partner to die, even though she insists the police radio misled her? It's hard enough being a female in the NYPD only five years after women were assigned to patrol. Now the department wants to throw her to the wolves. That's not going to happen, not if Taylor can help it. As he falls for Samantha--a beautiful, dedicated second-generation cop--he realizes he's too close to his story. Officer Callahan is a target, and Taylor's standing between her and some mighty big guns.

Drop Dead Punk is book 2 in the Coleridge Taylor Mystery series.

Book Details:


Genre: Mystery
Series: Book 2 in the Coleridge Taylor Mystery series.
Published by: Camel Press,
Publication Date: ~ Aug. 15, 2015
Number of Pages: 254
ISBN: 978-1603812092
Purchase Links: Amazon Barnes & Noble Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

NOTE: FROM UNCORRECTED PROOF (ARC):
The great headlines of other newspapers were always to be despised. Not today.
The three ancient copy editors were on their feet, with Copydesk Chief Milt Corman in the middle. Taylor stopped his walk through the newsroom to find out why. If someone had made a mistake, it must be a colossal one to get those fat asses out of their seats. He looked over Corman’s shoulder. The copy chief held the Daily News. It was that day’s edition, Oct. 30, 1975. The 144-point front-page headline screamed up from the page.

FORD TO CITY:
DROP DEAD

Corman rattled the paper violently. “That’s a work of art. Tells the whole story in five words. He gave the city the finger yesterday.”

Jack Miller, one of the other old farts, moved back to his seat. You could only expect him to stand for so long. He settled into his chair for another day of slashing copy. “What do you expect from our unelected president? Veepee to Nixon. Goddamned pardoned Robert E. Lee two months ago.”

“Didn’t pardon him. Gave him back his citizenship.”

“Same thing. The barbarians are running the country and now they’re at our gates. We’re the biggest, most important city on the planet, and he’s going to leave us hanging to get himself actually elected to the job.”

Corman flipped open the paper to the Ford speech story across pages four and five. “Just listen to this bullshit. ‘I am prepared to veto any bill that has as its purpose a Federal bailout of New York City to prevent a default.’ He blathers on about using the uniform bankruptcy laws. On and on and on. How do you police the streets and pick up garbage under the uniform bankruptcy laws? A Federal judge trying to run the whole damn city? Chaos.”

“Ford’s from Grand Rapids.” Miller shook his big round head. “He doesn’t know from anything about this place. He’s talking to all the flatlanders—a nation that hates us.”

“Will you listen to this at the end? ‘If we go on spending more than we have, providing more benefits and more services than we can pay for, then a day of reckoning will come to Washington and the whole country just as it has to New York City. When that day of reckoning comes, who will bail out the United States of America?’ He’ll kill this city to keep his job.” Corman looked from the paper to Taylor. “You’re the crime reporter. Why don’t you go after this? Write the story about the man who murdered New York.”

Taylor laughed. “You can’t kill New York.”

“Rome fell.”

“Rome wasn’t New York. You know this is the same political bullshit. Made up numbers and budget magic and threats from Washington. New York will still be here long after. It’s a great headline, though. You guys should try writing ’em like that.”

He left the horseshoe copy desk before they could protest that wasn’t the style of the New York Messenger-Telegram. He knew all too well the three of them would kill to be headline writers at the Daily News. That paper wasn’t perpetually on the verge of failing like the MT.

Taylor gave New York’s financial crisis about thirty seconds more thought as he wound his way around the maze of the newsroom. To him, the crisis was background noise. The city had become a dark place since the Sixties decided to end early, round about 1968. Crime lurked in the darkness, and he covered crime. He was too busy with New York’s growth industry to pay attention to the mayor’s budget problems.

Heroin everywhere.

Corruption in the police department.

Buildings in the South Bronx torched by the block.

Those were the stories he went after, not failed bond sales and blabbering politicos. Problem was the damn financial story had pushed everything else off the MT’s front page. Taylor hadn’t had a decent story out there in three weeks. He needed the quick hit of a page one byline, needed it particularly bad this morning. The cops had called him at home last night. Not about a story this time. They’d arrested his father, reeling drunk in his underwear outside his apartment building. Taylor had been up until three a.m. dealing with that mess. A good story—a good story that actually got decent play—and a few beers after to celebrate. Now that would pick him up. For a day or two at least.

Make the calls. Someone’s got to have something. Now that Ford’s had his say, there must be room on page one.

He’d almost slipped past the city desk when Worth called out his name. Taylor tried to pretend he hadn’t heard and kept going, but Worth raised his high-pitched voice and just about yelled. Taylor turned and went back to the pristine maple-topped desk of City Editor Bradford J. Worth, Jr.

“I’ve got an assignment for you.”

That was always bad news. “Haven’t made my calls yet.”

“Doesn’t matter. Need you down at City Hall.”

Taylor brightened. Crime at City Hall. A murder? That would be big.

“What’s the story?” He sounded enthusiastic. He shouldn’t have.

“You’re to go to the pressroom and wait for announcements. Glockman called in sick.”

“C’mon, Worth. Not babysitting. You’ve got three other City Hall reporters.” Who’ve owned the front page for weeks.

“They’re all very busy pursuing the most important story in this city’s history. Your job is to sit at our desk in the pressroom and wait for the mayor to issue a statement on Ford’s speech. Or the deputy mayor. Or a sanitation worker. Or a cleaning lady. Anybody says anything, you phone it in. Rumor is they’re working on using city pension funds.”

Worth’s phone rang, and he picked up. “Yeah, I’m sending Taylor down. No, he’ll do for now.” He set the receiver lightly on its hook. “You’ve been down in the dumps since your friend Laura left us. Was it her going or the fact she got a job at the New York Times? Because you’ll never get there, not with the way you dodge the biggest stories.”

“Hey, you and I are both still here.”

Worth frowned. Ambition rose off the man like an odor as strong as the cologne he wore. He’d made city editor at thirty without ever working as a reporter. Everyone knew he wanted more, and to him, more meant the New York Times. He’d almost been as upset as Taylor when Laura Wheeler announced she had the gig, and Worth wasn’t the one in love with Laura. He had been sure he was leaving next.

“Both here, but I’m the one doing his job. Now get to City Hall.”

“You have to be able to find someone else.” Exasperation through grit teeth. “Crime is big for this paper.”

“I decide what’s big.” He picked up the phone, dialed an inside extension, and showed Taylor his back.

Sitting at City Hall waiting for a press release was the perfect way to ruin Taylor’s day, something the city editor liked doing so much it had become a bad habit.

Taylor arrived at his own desk to find the other police reporters gone, probably making their rounds.

The desk that had been Laura’s reminded him of her—of her dark brown eyes, her black hair, her beautiful face. She’d left an aching emptiness inside him. They’d lasted a month after she’d moved to the New York Times, and then she’d broken it off. She said she realized the only thing they had in common was the MT. She hadn’t been mean about it. And she wasn’t wrong. The paper had been their life during the day and their conversation at night. He wondered if it also had to do with his age, 34, and where he was—or wasn’t—in life. He pushed his hand through his short brown hair. He’d even found himself considering his thin, angular face, something he’d never done before. Was that it? Laura was beautiful. Taylor couldn’t think of a word for what he was.

He recently heard she’d started dating a guy on the foreign staff, Derek something. He wondered how old Derek was. Late twenties and optimistic, he guessed, unbowed by life. From a good family too, probably. It was always going to end. So why did it hurt like this?

Truth was Taylor had been living with emptiness for years before he met her. Over that time, he’d gotten used to it, let the job fill his life. Only, having her and losing her made him understand how much he disliked this lonely hole inside.

Really should leave right away.

The black phone in front of him was too much temptation. Worth couldn’t see Taylor from the city desk. He picked up the receiver, pushed the clear plastic button for an outside line, and dialed the number for Sidney Greene at 1 Police Plaza. Greene was perhaps the most discontented, dyspeptic minor civil servant Taylor had ever encountered. He leaked stories not to expose injustice or right a wrong, but to screw his bosses. He simply loved watching them deal with the chaos he created by tipping off Taylor.

“Anything up?”

“Oh, a real shit show. Officer down.”

Taylor flipped open a notebook. Even in the midst of this dark age of drugs, muggings, and homicides, a police officer murdered was still a big story. A page one story. “Where and when?”

“Avenue B and East Eighth, just in from Tompkins Square Park.”

“What happened?”

“That’s all I can do for you. They’re doing the headless chicken dance down here. You’ll be ahead of the others if you get to the scene quick. Not by much, though.”

Taylor left the newsroom for the Lower Eastside. He’d check for press releases at City Hall after visiting the scene of the cop’s murder. Worthless would have his head if he missed even one minor announcement. Screw it. Taylor couldn’t ignore a big story. A real story.

He hustled from the subway across the blocks to the crime scene. The day offered near perfect New York fall weather, with the air crisp and clear, tingling with energy. He unwrapped a stick of Teaberry gum and stuck it in his mouth. The temperature had dropped from yesterday’s high of 70 and would only make it into the mid-fifties today. Jacket weather—Taylor’s favorite. Not so hot he broke into a sweat on a good walk, and cool but not cold—he wasn’t fighting the brutal winds of winter that blasted down the avenues. Easy weather put New Yorkers at ease. He could sense it as he walked. More smiles. Sidewalk trees even showed off muted reds and gold. Taylor knew it was nothing like the color upstate but it would do.

Taylor’s press pass got him inside the cluster of patrol cars guarding the ambulance. A couple of fire engines had also rolled to the scene, which was a dilapidated brownstone with half its windows boarded, a missing door, and a huge hole in the roof. The place was a true Lower Eastside wreck in a neighborhood where hard luck meant you were doing pretty well for yourself.

Taylor climbed the cracked front steps. A “Condemned Building” sign was nailed to the open door. The first floor had few interior walls, only piles of rubble from when the roof had come down, bringing chunks of the next three floors with it. The smell of must mingled with the stink of garbage. Two uniformed and four plainclothes police stood around a uniformed body sprawled across a pile of plaster chunks and wood slats in the middle of what was once probably a living room. Off to the right in the front corner was a second body, guarded by no one.

Seeing an opportunity, Taylor moved closer to the body in the corner. The man, young and apparently startled by death, had taken one shot to the chest and one in the leg. Blood soaked a black T-shirt printed with big white letters Taylor couldn’t read unless he adjusted the man’s leather jacket, which was also covered in blood. The man’s heart must have pumped his life’s blood out in minutes. Faster maybe. His right hand was on his stomach and clutched a green leather purse with a gold chain strap. Taylor knew better than to touch anything. Instead, he leaned in and was met by the iron and musk odor of blood. The top of the man’s hand was tattooed with a spiral pattern, an eye at its center. The fingers were inked with the bones of a skeleton, like an X-ray of what lay beneath the dead man’s skin.

The face was young—twenties, probably early twenties— bony and pale, with a tattoo of a spider web that started below the shirt line and crept up his neck to his chin and right ear. His hair was short and spiky, in the punk style—as was his whole look. Many of them had recently moved into this neighborhood to be near the punk rock club CBGB and the other bars that were the heart of the punk rock scene. Many were squatters.

“Don’t touch nothin’.” A short chunky cop with a gold badge in his belt walked over.

“I’d never do that, Detective.” Taylor rose from his crouch.

“I’m very sorry about the loss of an officer.”

“Yeah, thanks. And who the fuck are you?”

“Taylor with the Messenger-Telegram.” Taylor tapped the laminated pass.

“The Empty, huh? Read it sometimes. At least you’re not the fucking Times. I hate those pricks.”

Five years since the New York Times interviewed Serpico and broke the story of massive corruption in the NYPD, and the paper was still on every cop’s s#*t list. At the time, Taylor had gone crazy trying to follow the Times’ scoops. He’d admired what the Times had done and hated being behind on such a big story. He didn’t need to tell the detective that, though. It was fine with him if the man liked the Messenger-Telegram. Taylor himself liked cops, the honest kind at least. When he’d started at the paper, police reporters were almost cops themselves. Or adjuncts, at least. They helped the police, publicizing successes, ignoring failures and drinking in the same places. Not anymore. Trust had been lost, and it wasn’t going to be won back anytime soon.

"What happened?”

“This jamoke holds up a woman for her purse when she comes up from the subway at Astor Place. Officer Robert Dodd and his partner give chase. The mugger runs across St. Mark’s Place, through the park and into this hole. They exchange shots. Both are killed. At least that’s what we can figure so far.”

“Dodd’s partner?”

“Couldn’t keep up. Poor Dodd was stuck with a meter maid. When little Samantha Callahan gets here, they’re both dead. What’s the point of having broads patrolling if they can’t back you up?” Lights flashed across the detective’s jowly face. He looked out the glassless window at the car pulling up. “Assistant chief. I’ve got to make sense of this for him.”

Taylor jotted down the name on the detective’s plate, R. Trunk. He dug out a business card and handed it to the detective. “Anything more comes up, call me. We take care of cops at the MT.” Laying it on thick never hurt. “Dodd’s a hero. His story should be told right.”

“Yeah, we’ll see. Your paper may not be awful. Doesn’t mean I trust you. Now get out of here. We got work to do.”

Trunk turned as another plainclothesman walked up. “Still haven’t got the kid’s gun.”

"Well, find the f#^*ing thing. Assistant chief ’s going to be on us like stink on s#*t.”

That was odd. If Dodd took out the mugger, the man’s gun would be right here somewhere. It couldn’t have walked away on its own. Taylor put that detail in his notebook. Anything odd always went in the notebook. He walked a wide arc toward the door to get a quick view of the dead officer. Dodd was a complete mess. He had to have been shot in the face. Taylor couldn’t make out the nose, the eyes, anything in the gore and blood. That meant he had to have shot the mugger first.

About the author

authorRich Zahradnik is the author of the Coleridge Taylor Mystery series from Camel Press. Last Words is the first novel in the series and was published Oct. 1, 2014. Drop Dead Punk will come out August 15. He was a journalist for 30-plus years, working as a reporter and editor in all major news media, including online, newspaper, broadcast, magazine and wire services. He held editorial positions at CNN, Bloomberg News, Fox Business Network, AOL and The Hollywood Reporter, often writing news stories and analysis about the journalism business, broadcasting, film production, publishing and the online industry. In January 2012, he was one of 20 writers selected for the inaugural class of the Crime Fiction Academy, a first-of-its-kind program run by New York's Center for Fiction. He has been a media entrepreneur throughout his career. He was the founding executive producer of CNNfn.com, a leading financial news website and a Webby winner; managing editor of Netscape.com, and a partner in the soccer-news website company Goal Networks. Zahradnik also co-founded the weekly newspaper The Peekskill Herald at the age of 25, leading it to seven state press association awards in its first three years. Zahradnik was born in Poughkeepsie, New York, and received his B.A. in journalism and political science from George Washington University. He lives with his wife Sheri and son Patrick in Pelham, New York, where he writes fiction and teaches elementary school kids how to publish the online and print newspaper the Colonial Times.


Connect with Rich:
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Thursday, June 25, 2015

FEATURED AUTHOR: DIANNE HARMAN




ABOUT THE BOOK

Liz Lucas, a 52-year-old widow, is beginning to think she’s been given a second chance at life by owning a successful spa located in a beautiful forest area on the coast north of San Francisco.

What could possibly go wrong? Well, for starters, discovering that a guest staying in cottage #6 at the spa has been murdered.


In order to save the spa’s reputation, Liz, along with her two dogs, Brandy Boy and Winston, sets out to find the killer. The cast of characters includes a handyman, spa employees, the bumbling police chief, the owner of Gertie’s Diner, the dead woman’s husband (the mayor), his girlfriend, and a Tiffany glass collector. One of them probably committed the crime, but it’s up to Liz to quickly find the culprit.


I'm happy to have fellow cozy mystery writer Dianne Harman here today. I asked her to tell us how she got started writing, and here's what she had to say . . .



GUEST POST BY DIANNE HARMAN


My daughter-in-law and I were at a spa in British Columbia for a few days. We both had the same facialist. She looked fabulous. I looked like a purple plum. My skin flaked off. I looked so bad when I got on the plane the stewardess asked what had happened to me. I began to concoct a story in my mind about how a facialist hated older women. The book came from that experience.

Murder in Cottage #6 is the first in the Liz Lucas Cozy Mystery Series. My Cedar Bay Cozy Mystery Series had done very well, and I wondered what would happen if I wrote another series. The book was an April and May Amazon All-Star, so it obviously worked. The second book in the series, Murder and Brandy Boy is also doing very well, and I’m editing the third in the series which goes by a working title of Murder and the Tarot Card Reader.
I live in Huntington Beach, California. Lots to love here with the exception of traffic! Fortunately we live near the beach in a pretty inaccessible area, so we can escape the crowds and the traffic.

I’m very fortunate to be able to make writing my full time career, albeit a career that began when I was in my late ‘60’s. Never would have thought I’d be doing this, but I absolutely love it. Most fun I’ve ever had.

My first book, Blue Coyote Motel, just happened. My husband and I were staying at a boutique motel for a wedding our son was in. It was October in Palm Springs, California, normally a beautiful time, but it was 107 degrees. For a reason I’ll never know, I turned to my husband and said, “Wouldn’t it be interesting if someone put a feel good drug in the air-conditioning and everyone felt good all the time?” He looked at me and said, “There’s your book.” I wrote the whole thing on my iPad and that was the beginning, really just a couple of years ago.

I started writing cozy mysteries because it was a genre in which I could combine my love of dogs and food. Lots of recipes and puppies and dogs in these books.

If authors write about contemporary life, I think parts of them are bound to seep in. I suppose if you’re writing science fiction or dystopian, that wouldn’t be as true, but I can’t help but put some of my experiences in my books. For example, I went trekking in Nepal and although I’m not the character in that book, one of the characters in Blue Coyote Motel does that. We took a motor home trip us the California coast and stopped at a place I think was called Jade Beach many years ago when our children were small. Murder at Jade Cove came from that experience. I would have to say parts of me are probably in all of my books, I’m just not in a book.

I decided to self-publish because a man whom I respect a great deal as an author sat down with me and told me what steps I should take to publish a book. He was adamant about self-publishing for several reasons. His publisher had declared bankruptcy and he lost quite a bit of money. He also felt I would have far more control over my projects and make more money. I’ve never been sorry I’ve done that.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dianne Harman draws her stories and characters from a diverse business and personal background. She owned a national antique and art appraisal business for many years, left that industry, and opened two yoga centers where she taught yoga and certified yoga instructors. She's traveled extensively throughout the world, most recently dividing her time between Huntington Beach, California and Sacramento, California, where her husband was a senator. An avid reader, Dianne brings the richness of her life experiences to her three series, Cedar Bay Cozy Mystery Series, Liz Lucas Cozy Mystery Series, and the Coyote Series.

Connect with Dianne:
Website  |  Blog  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Pinterest  |  Google+


Tuesday, June 23, 2015

FEATURED AUTHOR: JOANNE GUIDOCCIO



ABOUT THE BOOK

Hours before the opening of her career counseling practice, Gilda Greco discovers the body of golden girl, Carrie Ann Godfrey, neatly arranged in the dumpster outside Gilda’s office. Gilda’s life and budding career are stalled as Detective Carlo Fantin, her former high school crush, conducts the investigation. When three more dead blondes turn up, all brutally strangled and deposited near Gilda’s favorite haunts, she is pegged as a prime suspect for the murders.

Frustrated by Carlo’s chilly detective persona and the mean girl antics of Carrie Ann’s meddling relatives, Gilda decides to launch her own investigation. She discovers a gaggle of suspects, among them a yoga instructor in need of anger management training, a lecherous photographer, and fourteen ex-boyfriends.

As the puzzle pieces fall into place, shocking revelations emerge, forcing Gilda to confront the envy and deceit she has long overlooked.






INTERVIEW WITH JOANNE GUIDOCCIO


Joanne, what’s the story behind the title A Season for Killing Blondes?



While undergoing cancer treatments, I gravitated toward cozy mysteries. After devouring over fifty books in that genre, I imagined the following scenarios: What if a brunette lottery winner moves back to her hometown and finds herself involved in a murder investigation? And what if all the victims are blondes? Since I had plotted the story during the most challenging season of my life, I decided to use A Season for Killing Blondes as the title.



Tell us about your series.



A Season for Killing Blondes is the first book in the Gilda Greco Mystery Series. Based in Northern Ontario, these books feature a fifty-something Italian woman, her relatives, deserving and undeserving men, and food. Several ideas are percolating for Books 2 and 3 – Too Many Women in the Room and A Different Kind of Reunion. 



Where did you grow up?

I was born and raised in Sudbury, Ontario, also known as the Nickel Capital of the World and Slagtown. Growing up, I would sneak in to see the big coin, and while walking in the evenings, I take in a spectacular view of the slag dumping. Not exactly what most children would enjoy, but I was fascinated by the contrast between the darkening sky and the fiery colors.


What’s one of your favorite quotes?


"Life begins at the end of your comfort zone." -Neale Donald Walsch



Are you like any of your characters?
I identify strongly with Gilda Greco, the protagonist of the novel. So much so, that I used the first-person POV. Our similarities...Italian Canadian, born and raised in Sudbury, relocated to Southern Ontario, mathematics teachers, career development practitioners, yoga enthusiasts, non-foodies.
 One major difference – Gilda won a $19 million lottery. I’m still hoping.



Are any of your characters inspired by real people?


Having lived and taught in different cities throughout the province of Ontario, I felt free to “borrow” characteristics from former colleagues and students to create composite characters. While Gilda is approximately 70% me, the same can’t be said of the other characters. I would be very surprised if anyone recognized himself/herself in the novel.



Who are your favorite authors?


I have eclectic tastes and enjoy reading contemporary women’s fiction, cozy mysteries, thrillers, historical fiction, self-help, and memoirs. Some of my favorite authors include Ann Patchett, Ann Lamott, Ken Follett, Jane Green, Maeve Binchy, Gail Bowen, Louise Penny, Adriana Trigiani, Louise Hay, and Dr. Christiane Northrup.



What book are you currently reading and in what format?



I’m reading Lisa Genova’s latest release – Inside the O’Briens. Format – hardcover.



Do you have a routine for writing?


When I retired and started writing full-time, I expected to be inspired each day. Everything was in place—business cards, new computer, dreams of a runaway best-seller — but my underdeveloped writing muscles refused to budge. 
After some experimentation, I came up with a daily regimen. Nothing too dramatic, but it works for me. I like to sleep in each day and enjoy a leisurely breakfast. But after my second cup of coffee, I start writing. My goal – 1000 words a day. After I reach that quota, I’m free to meet with friends for lunch or coffee and plan other outings.



What’s the best compliment you’ve ever received about your writing?


I am grateful for the wonderful reviews I received for my debut novel, Between Land and Sea.

 My favorite comes from Colleen McConnell: 

“The novel is a classic wisdom tale with a twist and is reminiscent of Jane Austen.”




ABOUT THE AUTHOR

In high school, Joanne dabbled in poetry, but it would be over three decades before she entertained the idea of writing as a career. She listened to her practical Italian side and earned degrees in mathematics and education. She experienced many fulfilling moments as she watched her students develop an appreciation (and sometimes, love) of mathematics. Later, she obtained a post-graduate diploma as a career development practitioner and put that skill set to use in the co-operative education classroom. She welcomed this opportunity to help her students experience personal growth and acquire career direction through their placements.

In 2008, she took advantage of early retirement and decided to launch a second career that would tap into her creative side and utilize her well-honed organizational skills. Slowly, a writing practice emerged. Her articles and book reviews were published in newspapers, magazines, and online. When she tried her hand at fiction, she made reinvention a recurring theme in her novels and short stories. A member of Sisters in Crime, Crime Writers of Canada, and Romance Writers of America, Joanne writes paranormal romance, cozy mysteries, and inspirational literature from her home base of Guelph, Ontario.

Connect with Joanne:
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Sunday, June 21, 2015

Featured Author: Kevin Doyle




ABOUT THE BOOK

They kept to the shadows so no one would know they existed, and preyed on the nameless who no one would miss. Where did they come from, and who was protecting them? In a city that had seen every kind of savagery, they were something new, something more than murderous. And one woman, who had thought she had lost everything there was to lose in life, would soon find that nothing could possibly prepare her for what would come when she entered their world.

INTERVIEW WITH KEVIN DOYLE


Kevin, what’s the story behind the title The Litter?

It kind of seemed obvious. Once I had the main plot premise, along with the age of some of the participants, the word “Litter” just kind of popped into my head.

Where’s home for you?

I’m a lifelong Midwesterner. Born and lived most of my life in Wichita, Kansas. But for over a decade Columbia, Missouri, has been home.

What’s the most valuable thing you’ve learned?
That nobody owes anyone anything. It all has to be earned.

What do you love about where you live?
Columbia is a city of about 100,000 people, and it has a vibrant, engaged citizenry. There’s a ton of little hole-in-the-wall eateries, theatres and music venues. But at the same time, a short drive in any direction presents all sorts of outdoors opportunities.  It’s equidistant between Kansas City, St. Louis and the Ozarks, so you never lack for stuff to do.


What is the most daring thing you've done?


Considering that I’m terrified of heights, zip lining ranks right up there.

Do you have another job outside of writing?
Not even sure you could call writing a job, seeing as how it brings in very little money, especially when compared to the amount of work. My main career is as a high school teacher, English and public speaking.

What choices in life would you like to have a redo on?
If I had some way known that I would end up teaching (it was totally unplanned on my part), I probably would have gone into either social studies or foreign language. Fewer papers to grade.

What’s one of your favorite quotes?
I’m not sure who originally said it, but I saw it reprinted in Small Town, by Lawrence Block: "Witing is an occupation at which you can earn a fortune, but you can’t earn a living." 

If you could live anywhere in the world, where in the world would it be?
The Gulf Coast, probably Mississippi or Alabama. Already making plans to head down that way when I retire in about nine years.

My dad lives down there — in Alabama — and loves it. How did you create the plot for this book?
It sounds like a cliche, but I woke up one morning with a scene imprinted on my mind. It’s actually the final scene in part II of the book. Once I had that scene jotted down, I just had to go backward and forward to finish it up. I wrote about the first three or four chapters, then I flashed ahead and wrote the final chapter. Then I wrote the fifth, then the next to last, and went back and forth like that until I had it basically in shape.

Are any of your characters inspired by real people?
To the best of my knowledge, no. Though one of my students claims I owe him royalties because I used his last name for the name of a street in the book.

Who are your favorite authors?
Lawrence Block and Robert B. Parker are among my most recent favorites. Although Parker really began phoning it in around the halfway point. I’ve recently experienced a lot of Robert Crais and have just started reading Michael Connelly. I also have a huge soft spot for Arthur C. Clarke.

What book are you currently reading and in what format?

I do almost all my reading in paperback and hardcover. A few months back, I lucked out. Walking through one of our local used bookstores, I came across several copies of the Doc Savage Omnibus volumes. Doc Savage reprints were my absolute favorite reading as a kid, and right there were six volumes containing around thirty stories that I’d heard of but never read. I snatched them all up and for the last few months have been reliving my youth. Once I’m finished, I plan on re-reading Block’s When the Sacred Ginmill Closes. Then probably get back to Connelly.

Do you have a routine for writing?
No real routine. During the school year, I work it in when and where I can, usually trying to do at least a couple of pages a night.

What’s the best compliment you’ve ever received about your writing?
A review that showed up on Goodreads for The Litter. Paraphrased a bit, the reviewer said “This book scared the hell out of me.” Also, several people who read The Litter have commented that they had trouble sleeping for a while afterwards. The average seems to be two nights.

Yikes! Now that's scary. If you could be a ghostwriter for any famous author, whom would you pick?
Block, hands down. I would say Parker, but I doubt I could even come close to the job that Ace Atkins has done.

What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever had to write?
A short story of mine called “The Old Dogs.” It’s another one that came to me from a snippet of a dream. I woke up in a literal cold sweat (honestly) with my heart racing. I jotted down this one image I managed to retain, and the next afternoon started playing around with it. But the basic plot line was so disturbing that I could only write about half a page a day, and this was during the summer break, because I couldn’t stand any more than that. I managed to sell it right off the bat, but when it came out in magazine form it took me two or three attempts to sit down and read it because I knew where it was going and didn’t want to get there. It’s since been reprinted by another ‘zine, so it must have been halfway decent.

What’s the worst thing someone has said about your writing? How did you deal with it
?
An editor of a local lifestyle magazine, back when I was twenty and first trying my hand at all this, looked over an article I’d written and told me he couldn’t use it because “You’re not a very good writer.” In retrospect, it doesn’t sound that harsh, but at the time it sucker punched me. After a couple of days, I shook myself off and decided to learn the craft as well as I could.

How did you find your publisher and how long did your query process take?
This is probably going to tick some people off, but I really don’t get the whole self-publishing thing. I know things are changing, but to me it doesn’t really feel legitimate. Besides the fact of how expensive it could get. So for me, and I’m not one to dictate to others, traditional publishing was the only way to go.

That being said, so far I’ve dealt exclusively with small presses, just as I do with small magazines. As for finding them, I basically use Duotrope, which, for me, is well worth the yearly fee. 

One nice thing about the small presses is that there usually isn’t that long of a wait to hear back. When I sent One Helluva Gig to Vagabondage Press, it took them only a few months to send me an acceptance.

Once Gig came out, I was putting the finishing touches on The Group and felt a lot more confident that maybe something would happen. What I wasn’t prepared for, though, was that three weeks after I began submitting it, I received an offer from Barbarian Books. My first full-length mystery novel, and three weeks after sending it out I had an offer in hand.

My newest work, The Litter, took a bit longer, but not all that much. I finished it at the end of June of last year and began sending it out in July. It racked up several rejections before Night to Dawn made an offer a couple of days after Labor Day.

Bottom line, when it comes to sending books out and having them accepted, I’ve been very, very lucky.

I'll say. But I would respectfully disagree with you on self-publishing. My book is doing much better now, as a self-published author, than when a small press published it. I think there's room in the market for both. What are you working on now?
Currently, I’m working on a sequel to The Group. It focuses on the cops who were secondary characters in the first book, and doesn’t really include the original protagonist at all.  I had hoped to have a first draft finished before school broke for the year, but that didn’t happen, so right now I’m way behind.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

A high school teacher and fiction writer living in central Missouri, Kevin R. Doyle’s  short stories of horror and suspense have appeared in over twenty-five small press magazines. In 2012 his first e-book, a mainstream novelette titled One Helluva Gig, was released by Vagabondage Press. In January of 2014, Barbarian Books released his first full-length mystery novel, The Group, and in February of 2015, Night to Dawn Magazine and Books released his horror novel, The Litter.

Connect with Kevin:
Website  |  Facebook  |  Goodreads