Tuesday, November 24, 2015



Operation Alpha Dog released November 23, 2015, now only 99 cents on Amazon

A 6-pack of Jonathon Stone Mystery Short Stories by James Moushon 
Mystery, Murder, Intrigue, and Espionage


Again we catch up with CIA Agent Jonathon Stone in a collection of his latest adventures. We follow Jonathon as he moves from trying to catch gun runners to solving a terrorist plot in the Los Angeles Harbor to an assassination in Palm Springs to stopping a NSA leak of information.

The collection includes a 6-pack of Jonathon Stone short stories. As always, Jonathon’s ops include a lot of mystery, lots of espionage, some thrilling events and suspense. Being a CIA agent working domestically has its unique situations, and Stone seems to take advantage of them.

Operation Hidden Truth

A plea bargain turns deadly and a known gun runner is the primary suspect. Jonathon Stone becomes involved with the FBI to try to catch the elusive terrorist. With espionage and government secrets in play, the DHS suddenly becomes a problem. Jonathon needs to be on top of his game for this op.

Operation Misdirection

A female CIA agent is found dead in a motel in Long Beach and her husband, a Long Beach detective, quickly becomes the prime suspect. Jonathon Stone is given the task of investigating the murder of one of his own. His findings reveal the dead agent’s unscheduled trips to the Middle East, a cover up by the FBI and espionage.

Operation Adrift

An empty cargo ship suddenly appears in the LA Harbor. Problem: apparently there are no passengers or crew. Jonathon Stone finds out that the ship was abandoned at sea and the CIA had been tracking the vessel from the Far East. The op seems to be stalled until Jonathon gets information from an unexpected source which leads him to a terrorist plot on American soil.

Operation Red Dragon
Jonathon Stone’s plans for a quiet gambling experience is interrupted by the sighting of a known gun for hire from Mexico. A casual weekend in the desert for Jonathon changes into an apparent assassination plot. With the FBI and the Secret Service involved, Jonathon tries to apprehend the elusive hit man before he can do damage.

Operation Runaway

NSA information leaked by a spy sends Jonathon Stone and his fellow agent, Chuck Chun to Hawaii to stop the flow of information. Is our suspect a whistleblower or is it espionage? Their assignment: neutralize and stop the flow of information. At a luau in Paradise, they get help from an unlikely source before Jonathon and Chuck can complete their mission.

Operation Deadline

A hit and run death of a man on the CIA’s watch list sends Jonathon Stone on another op. This time he teams with FBI Agent Jodi Shannon. They quickly find out it was a planned murder and the victim was part of an investigative reporter’s study of a Middle Eastern student group. Then, a second murder with a similar MO occurs and Jonathon is sent in a different direction.



My name is Jonathon Stone. Like a lot of single, All-American men I enjoy gambling and drinking and the ladies.

I am a writer for the Real Sportsman Magazine. At one time our offices were located in downtown Long Beach, CA. On the main floor was a complete magazine group with secretaries and a writing staff that produced a monthly magazine.

Being a writer is a realistic, workable cover because I am, in reality, a Special Agent for the CIA. I am assigned to the west coast based – Far East Operation Center located in San Francisco.

In the basement of that office building was a full blown CIA operation with a security setup and computer center.

About a year ago, our cover was blown and the staff was scattered to the wind. My boss, Russ Evans, changed my status to At Large and kept me in the Long Beach, CA area. Actually, Belmont Shore, if you want to be more specific.

I am what my fellow agents call an Asset On Call. I may show up anywhere in the world.
As a footnote, we also handle the Domestic Operation - Terrorism (DOT) division. It was formed to handle terrorist threats inside the U.S. after DHS took control of intelligence.
This group is not on the Company’s organization chart.

Jonathon Stone


James Moushon is a mystery writer and a published writer in the electronic document field.

Starting over 15 years ago, he helped lead the startup of the electronic forms industry in the creation, conversion, and usage of electronic forms by supplying that industry with a continuing source of published literature, software products, and training seminars. 

In 2003, Moushon changed his focus to ebooks and their development. 

He is the author of the Jonathon Stone Mystery Novels. He has published three books: Black Mountain Secrets, Game of Fire and Operation Alpha Dog, a collection of short stories featuring Jonathon Stone.

He is currently wearing two hats. He is a mystery writer and a book publishing blogger.

HBS Author's Spotlight is intended to help authors get exposure in the book publishing industry. He has interviewed and showcased over 450 authors to date.

HBS Mystery Reader's Circle provides information about the latest novels and what is coming next from a collection of bestselling and outstanding authors in the mystery, thrillers, historical fiction, and crime genre.

eBook Author's Corner is a collection of author advice and studies including marketing, social media, and other major topics created to help writers in today's ever changing world of book publishing.

He has spent the majority of his adult life developing computer systems and thinking about writing mysteries.

James's website is: www.jamesmoushon.com

To contact him, e-mail: james.moushon@gmail.com


Monday, November 23, 2015



A sultry novel in which an art thief finds himself out of his depth in a criminal maelstrom when he meets a beautiful woman with no past.
When Claude meets Maxine in the Caribbean, he falls for her. He does not expect he will start an affair with her back in London, then again he does not expect to have to call on the help of his old mate Spike, nor that will they become embroiled with Russian gangsters Vladimir and Grigory.

But then Claude will do anything to hold onto Maxine.

Peopled with thieves, hustlers, gangsters, gun runners and pimps, Wrong Crowd is a slick and action-packed ride into London’s low-life. East End villains, and the Russian Mafia collide in a fast-paced novel of deceit and criminal obsession that sparkles as it speeds towards its astonishing conclusion.


Richard, how did you get started writing and when did you become an “author?”
I always wanted to be an author from the age of seventeen. After working for an oil company and being a professor for many years in Universities, I decided to take a year out and write. I’d met the crowd surrounding the Beats and taught them while teaching English and American literature. I never looked back.

What's your favorite thing about the writing process?
There is no glass ceiling. I can always go on learning.

What books do you currently have published?

Apostle Rising, Mr. Glamour, Piquant: Tales Of The Mustard Man, One Lost Summer, Noir City, Meaningful Conversations, Confessions Of A Hit Man, Paranoia And The Destiny Programme and Wrong Crowd, also coming soon: Disembodied.

How long have you been a writer?
Professionally, seven years, otherwise all my life.

Are you an introvert or an extrovert?

What is your favorite movie?

It’s always hard to pick a favorite. I think No Country For Old Men is a classic that captures the novel well and has a cast of great actors.

Do you have a favorite book?
Many, but to name a few, Great Expectations,  Brighton Rock, Crime And Punishment, Blood Meridian.

What are you working on now?
A literary novel and then another Noir novel.


He is also a published poet and a produced playwright. His stories have been published in numerous paying magazines and over 34 anthologies, among them The Mammoth Book Of Best British Crime and The Mammoth Book Of Best British Mystery, alongside Lee Child, as well as the anthology of his stories, Piquant: Tales Of The Mustard Man. His novels have sold numerous foreign rights.
Richard Godwin was born in London and obtained a BA and MA in English and American Literature from King’s College London, where he also lectured.

Friday, November 20, 2015



Only a reality TV producer and an expert safari guide can stop a terrorist attack.

Every adventure starts at the fringes of civilization. For expert safari guide Mbuno and wildlife television producer Pero Baltazar, filming in the wild of East Africa should have been a return to the adventure they always loved. This time they’d be filming soaring vultures in northern Kenya and giant sea crocodiles in Tanzania with Mary, the daughter of the world’s top television evangelist, the very reverend Jimmy Threte.

But when a terrorist cell places them in the crosshairs, there is suddenly no escape and they must put their filming aside and combine all their talents to thwart an all-out al-Shabaab terrorist attack on Jimmy Threte’s Christian gathering of hundreds of thousands in Nairobi, Kenya.


Peter, how did you get started writing and when did you become an “author?”

Everyone who has ever written a letter is an author. The degree or measure of that title “author” is the only thing in play. As a literary agent, the term “author” means something commercial to me. As a creative person the term means something quite different. It is all in the generosity of what the author creates – that’s the measure of art or craft – generosity. The trick is to always be open, always be generous, always share with the reader, whoever he or she may be.

What's your favorite thing about the writing process?
Reliving experiences, remembering corner-of-the-mind details that are only uncovered during the process and, always, the sheer escapism of wallowing in the writing. Creativity, no matter how good or mediocre, is always rewarding – a sensation built into the human psyche. The trick is then to go back and polish, re-write, and re-write again.

And again and again. How long is your to-be-read list?
I read a couple of thousand words every few days, maybe 10,000 a week. That’s part of my job as a literary agent. Now, on my private reading list? Heck, how long do you have – that list is seemingly endless. I have favorite authors, past and present . . . and I always read their material first when I have time; Mary Glickman, Martin Cruz Smith,  James Church currently, Derek Lin (for mental well-being), Alexander McCall Smith, Joseph Kanon . . . and more.

Can you share some of your marketing strategies with us?
Most of that is down to the publisher – besides which I take time to answer all questions and, especially, I have been enjoying iReads with Laura Fabiani who has perfected a way to spread the word. Look, ALL publishing, major publisher or small, is about word-of-mouth, starting the conversation, connecting with readers.

You have a day job . . . how do you find time to write?
I binge at it. Sometimes I lose a 48-hour weekend. Sometimes I use part of what people would call vacation time. It is such a hedonistic pleasure (at first) why not wallow in it? Then the re-writing? That’s many many dark evenings.

If you could only watch one television station for a year, what would it be?
Interesting question. Probably any PBS station because that would cover most of what is important to me, from news to nature to good drama and comedy.

How often do you tweet?
When something occurs to me to respond to. I have to say that tweeting seems to me like spitting into the wind – sometimes it goes a long way, other times it hits you in the face.

How do you feel about Facebook?
I use this every day . . . news, contact with friends and acquaintances, updates on life.

What scares you the most? (Other than tweets hitting you in the face.)
That once again the male population has exceeded the female population . . . the last two times this happened (that we know of) was in 1910 and 1937 . . .

What five things would you never want to live without?
Okay, I will list things, not those people and animals I will not live without.
BBC Radio 4
The Internet
Encyclopedia Britannica (the one I cherish is long form – 1956 vintage).

Who would you want to narrate a film about your life?
Someone with a lot of patience . . . Bill Nighy?

3D movies are . . .

A marketing gimmick to try and strengthen against piracy.

If you had a swear jar, would it be full?
Sure, why not. Words are words, not social degradation. That being said, as words they should only be used as appropriate, not as punctuation.

What's your relationship with your TV remote?
I wear out batteries.

Do you spend more on clothes or food?
Food. I live in the desert southwest where clothes last longer than they did in Manhattan.

What choices in life would you like to have a redo on?
If I had been given any guidance early on, I would have majored in engineering and then astronautics, and helped with the space program. But when I was young, I do not think I had the same work ethic as I have now. Perhaps the reason life seemed to bumble forward.

What’s one of your favorite quotes?
Pretty much anything Teddy Roosevelt, Conrad, and of course Shakespeare came up with.
Teddy: The government is us; we are the government, you and I.
Teddy: The things that will destroy America are prosperity-at-any-price, peace-at-any-price, safety-first instead of duty-first, the love of soft living, and the get-rich-quick theory of life.
Conrad: Facing it, always facing it, that's the way to get through. Face it.
Shakespeare: We know what we are, but know not what we may be.

What would your main character say about you?
Familiar but not quite up to the task.

What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever had to write?
Telling an author that we’ve exhausted all the publishers and editors we can think of – sometimes more than 30 or 40 people – and cannot afford to continue trying to place their manuscript. Lately, this has been less horrible because there are direct-to-market possibilities – and we always try and help them set that up. This happens a few times a year.

Where is your favorite library, and what do you love about it?
Both the British Museum and the National Library. You could lose the rest of your life enjoying either.

You can be any fictional character for one day. Who would you be?
Providing I would have complete access – be in their shoes? Denis Neul in Brin’s The Practice Effect – what an upside-down world that would be.

What’s the worst thing someone has said about your writing? How did you deal with it?
“I don’t get it . . .” or “I don’t understand.” Then I feel really stupid and un-generous. Time to re-write.

Who would you invite to a dinner party if you could invite anyone in the world?
Currently living – and dinner is supposed to be fun, no? Assuming everyone could speak English . . . Well, probably an astronaut like Brewster Shaw (for perspective on the planet), Mbuno’s grandson who still guides I believe in Kenya, Sylvia Earle, Bill Nye, and Jane Goodall.

What's your relationship with your cell phone?
I only use it when traveling. Or for emergencies. That will change, I am sure. Technology doesn’t frighten, but it is invasive . . . and I already spend 6 hours a day at a computer or on the phone.

How many hours of sleep do you get a night?
I used to get by on 4 and cat naps (taxi rides, elevator trips) . . . now I try and get a solid 6.

What is your favorite movie?

I do not have one, I am afraid. There are too many I see again and again – comedies, romantic comedies, westerns, thrillers, Sci-fi. If I had to pick one to always amuse me it would be for the writing, the skill and the entertainment . . . something like Top Hat.

Do you have a favorite book?
The Encyclopedia Britannica.
Did the movie stink?

Ender’s Game.

Do you sweat the small stuff?

I micro manage everything. Always been a hindrance and a saving . . . of projects large and small.

Lightning round!
Cake or frosting? Cake
Laptop or desktop? Desktop
Chevy Chase or Bill Murray? Grew up with the former, so Chevy.
Emailing or texting? Email.
Indoors or outdoors? Outdoors whenever possible.
Tea: sweet or unsweet? British, sweet with milk.
Plane, train, or automobile? All three . . . train is nostalgic.


Peter Riva spent many months over thirty years in Africa, many of them with the legendary guides for East African white hunters and adventurers. He created a TV series (seventy-eight 1-hour episodes) in 1995 called WildThings for Paramount TV. Passing on the fables, true tales, and insider knowledge of these last reserves of true wildlife is a passion.

Connect with Peter:
Website  |  Blog  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |   Goodreads

Wednesday, November 18, 2015



Pieces Like Pottery is an examination of the sorrows of life, the strength of character, the steadfast of courage, and the resiliency of love requisite to find redemption. Offering graceful insight into the human condition, each linked story presents a tale of loss and love. Charged with characters mercifully experiencing trials in life, the book reminds us of the sorrows we all encounter and the kindness we receive, oftentimes from the unlikeliest of places.

What reviewers are saying

"Pieces like Pottery is molded like clay into some incredible pieces of stories which force the reader to ponder on their meanings. The book is something to be cherished and re-lived." - Devi Nair, The Verdict's Out

"The stories feel like seeing real life in print. They will entice you to come back to them again, and again, and again. I wish I could give this collection 10 stars instead of 5."  -Rajalakshmi Prithviraj, One Stop Destination

"A great collections of short stories. This was a beautiful book." - Alysia Minnot, Support Indie Authors


Dan, welcome to A Blue Million Books!I would like to first of all say thank you, Amy, for hosting me on your site. You have a wonderful site! This is a great place for us all to indulge in our shared love of reading and writing. Thank you for your excellent content and book suggestions. I am grateful to be here.

Thank you so much. That's very kind of you. How did you get started writing?
I can remember writing as far back as middle school. It’s something I have always enjoyed doing. One of the first poems I ever wrote was about my older brother and his basketball playing abilities. I still remember the opening lines and I wrote them as a kid nearly 30-years ago:

I’m Joe the King of Basketball,
I’m the king of the basketball court.
All my shots are always on target,
None of them are ever short.

I didn’t say it was any good! I don’t remember any more than that. To be honest, I’m not sure how I even remember those lines.

The point is, writing has been something I have always enjoyed doing and something I have always admired in other people. Story telling is a beautiful gift. I love learning to hone the craft.

Do you have a writing routine?
Once upon a time I thought I needed to write in a particular time and place. I would typically write at night and need to be in the perfect mood to do so. However, with a very demanding job, a wonderful wife, and two-year-old daughter, I quickly found that I was not finding much time to write at all. I had to begin writing anytime I could find a free 30 minutes. I was lucky I did too.

I think young writers always wait for the moment of inspiration to strike. These moments are amazing, but they are a great luxury. The truth, in my opinion, is that writing is as much about editing and revising as it is about the writing itself. I have so many pages of Pieces Like Pottery on the cutting room floor, so to speak. Maybe editing is a beautiful and inspiring process for some people, but for most writers I know, it is painstaking. There’s nothing inspirational about it for me. Having very little time to write each day helped me to begin taking my writing to the next level, to learn to hone it as a craft, rather than writing simply being an inspirational hobby. I had to find time to write whenever I could, regardless of whether the circumstances were perfect.

That being said, I still love to write at night over a glass of wine or a fine whiskey. Nothing beats that.

What’s more important – characters or plot?
I love characters. The most page-turning stories have a great plot, but the best stories have great characters. I really enjoy when a character has depth and complexity. I think good writers have a unique gift of empathy that allows them to tap into the “realness” of their characters. Good writers work hard to understand another person’s pains, hopes, dreams and fears, which allows them to create very compelling characters.

How often do you read?

There isn’t a day that I don’t read a portion of a book or a long-form magazine article. I love reading. I read everyday.

What do you know now that you wish you knew then?
Do what you do to the best of your ability. Be authentic and vulnerable. Don’t try to be what anyone else wants you to be.

Do you have any secret talents?

I used to perform at local venues, bars, and coffee shops playing guitar and singing, some covers and some original songs. But when it comes to secret talents, emphasis on talents, I can touch not only my nose with my tongue, but I can touch my chin with my tongue. Please everyone take a moment to be amazed.

Wow. I am amazed. What is the worst job you’ve ever had? What did it teach you?
I have had more odd jobs than I can count. I worked maintenance at a high school one summer. One of the tasks was to empty out the 15-year-old water from a boiler in the basement of the school. The only way to empty it was to syphon the water out through a narrow tube, but I had to suck the water up through the tube until it reached the syphon valve that would then automatically start pumping the water out. My co-worker was supposed to tell me when the dirty boiler water reached the valve, but he got distracted. I swallowed a mouthful of 15-year-old boiler water. Let me tell you, it still makes me queasy to this day. I was heaving and retching for quite awhile after that. I’m not quite sure what I learned from that, though, except that it’s a fairly funny story (for everyone but me).

We all have to work tough jobs so we can continue to do what we love — write. I’ve worked a lot of writing jobs too — blogger, ghostwriter, research assistant, editor, teacher’s aid, researcher . . . I didn’t enjoy all of those, but they have all helped me hone my craft.

What five things would you never want to live without?
Oh, good question. This is tough. Hmmm. My iPhone. My books. My guitar. Access to music. (If this were ten years ago, I would have said my CDs, but who even knows what a CD is anymore?) And . . . ummm . . . my wine or whiskey. I love a good glass of wine or whiskey.

What’s one thing you never leave the house without (besides your phone).
A memento I carry in my pocket that is a tribute to my father and reminds me of where I come from. When I reach into my pocket to grab my phone or my keys, I am reminded of my father, where I’m from, and who I am.

That's lovely. What’s your favorite thing to do/favorite place to go on date night?
I have an amazing wife. She makes me think, she makes me laugh, and she makes me a kinder person. I love spending time with her anywhere. I would say that I love going to a show or movie more than anything else, though. There’s just something about the shared experience of enjoying a concert or a play or a movie together that I absolutely love.

What’s your favorite beverage – I'm guessing wine or whiskey?
You’re starting to make me sound like I indulge too frequently here, Amy. I think we’ve established that I have an affinity for a good wine or whiskey.

Okay, no more beverage questions. What’s one thing that very few people know about you?

When I was younger, I used to play Star Wars with my three older brothers. My oldest brother would be Luke Skywalker. My second oldest brother would be Han Solo. My brother just older than me would be Chewbacca. They would make me be Princess Leia. I have no idea why I couldn’t have been C-3PO or R2-D2 or Lando Calrissian even. They always made me be Princess Leia. (shaking my head)

How do you like your pizza?
In my mouth. I love pizza. It doesn’t matter how it is prepared as long as it eventually ends up in my mouth. I can eat pizza hot, cold, thin crust, deep dish. I could eat it here or there. I could eat it anywhere. I could eat it in a house. I could eat it with a mouse. I could eat it in a box. I could eat it with a fox.

Sorry, what just happened? I blacked out for a moment. Did I mention I like pizza?

I'm starting to think you like pizza. Do you give your characters any of your bad traits (Let's pretend you have some.)
Yes, without question. I think every character an author creates is based on a real person or an amalgamation of real people. I also think an author will drop a little piece of himself or herself into every character they create. It is just too difficult to not let experiences and biases seep into one’s writing. There is certainly a piece of me, good or bad, in each character throughout Pieces Like Pottery. This made it particularly difficult to finish the book at times. I had to tap into both a sorrowful and a hopeful part of myself for these stories, which took an emotional toll at times. That being said, I didn’t create any of the characters in Pieces Like Pottery to represent me or to be a caricature of myself.

What is the most daring thing you've done?
Write a book (he says with a question mark)?

What is the stupidest thing you've ever done?
Write a book (he says with a question mark)?

It's amazing how often those answers go hand in hand. Can you share one of your favorite quotes?
"Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out." - John Wooden

Very true. For what would you like to be remembered?
Kindness. The great thinker Aristotle has a quote: “My best friend is the man who in wishing me well wishes it for my sake.” I hope people will say, “Dan always wanted the best for me. He was a kind man.”


Dan Buri's first collection of short fiction, Pieces Like Pottery, is an exploration of heartbreak and redemption that announces the arrival of a new American author. His writing is uniquely heartfelt and explores the depths of the human struggle and the human search for meaning in life.

Mr. Buri's non-fiction works have been distributed online and in print, including publications in Pundit Press, Tree, Summit Avenue Review, American Discovery, and TC Huddle. The defunct and very well regarded Buris On The Couch, was a He-Says/She-Says blog musing on the ups and downs of marriage with his wife.

Mr. Buri is an active attorney in the Pacific Northwest and has been recognized by Intellectual Asset Magazine as one of the World's Top 300 Intellectual Property Strategists every year since 2010. He lives in Oregon with his wife and two-year-old daughter.

Connect with Dan:
Twitter  |   

Tuesday, November 17, 2015



When the lecherous Kent Lovely, Mahina State’s one-man hostile work environment, collapses face-first into his haupia cheesecake, the faculty retreat goes from dull to disastrous. Now Professor Molly Barda has to fight to keep an innocent out of prison — and herself off the unemployment line.

Launch date: December 1, 2015. Preorder for $0.99 through November 30.


Frankie, what books do you currently have published?
The Musubi Murder is Book One of the Molly Barda Mysteries, and the events in that book happen after those in Defunct Adjunct. However, the books can be read in either order, and if you read Defunct Adjunct second, you might recognize some minor characters that will play a larger role later.

Can you share some of your marketing strategies with us?
Well, first I looked at what other people were doing. There are a lot of wonderful online resources, and an aspiring author wouldn’t go wrong starting with Blue Million Books! I also listen to the book publishing podcasts regularly — Rocking Self Publishing, The Creative Penn, The Author Hangout, Self Publishing Podcast, the Sell More Books Show, and a lot more.

I followed Simon Whistler’s tutorial and set up a Wordpress site. Then I claimed my author identity on Goodreads and Amazon, and got accounts on all of the usual social media suspects: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, LinkedIn. I run giveaways like the Rafflecopter giveaway that’s going on right now (see bottom of this post). The winner will get two signed books and a Mahina State University t-shirt. The giveaways are to entice people to sign up for my mailing list. Subscribers get advance notice of promotions, releases and events, and I’m looking at creating exclusive offers for subscribers in the future.

With all of that, I’d say that the best thing for me has been finding community. I write because I love to read, and finding like-minded readers is wonderful. So when I’m not touring with my own books, I’m hosting cozy mystery blog tours, and I get to meet all kinds of great new authors that way.

Yes you do, and I thank you for recently hosting me! You have a day job . . . how do you find time to write?
I think that except for those lucky mutants who only need four hours of sleep, you have time for only one non-day-job activity. Since I started writing, I’ve let other things fall off my plate, and I spend most of my non-work time on writing and related activities. Fortunately, since my day job is college professor, the things I read to keep up with my profession also inspire my writing. Stories about administrators going to jail for grade-fixing, or teachers forbidden to give failing grades, illustrate the kinds of conflicting goals and perverse incentives in our profession. When no one thinks they’re the bad guy, because in their own mind they’ve found a way to justify tampering with student records or redefining the meaning of “zero,” that kind of thing can give depth to a story.

If you had a swear jar, would it be full?
No, I think swear words should be reserved for special occasions. That’s the whole point of taboo words. When they’re overused, they lose their punch and you have to find new ones.

What’s the worst thing someone has said about your writing? How did you deal with it?
Well, one reviewer said that listening to my audiobook made her want to kill herself, but she finished it to find out who the murderer was. I was relieved that I’d only crushed her will to live temporarily. Probably the worst was a reviewer who seemed genuinely angry that the book had been published at all. She said a number of mean things about the characters and the plot, and then likened the humor to The Three Stooges. That really hurt.

I don’t understand the impulse to hate-read; with so many choices out there, why finish reading something you don’t enjoy? Why not just say something like, “The humor was too broad for my taste, so I didn’t finish it?”

I appreciate and use constructive criticism, but if a negative review doesn’t have any usable suggestions for improvement, then I just ignore it. I never respond to reviews.

What are you working on now?
I have the next four Molly Barda mysteries lined up:
Molly Barda and the Cursed Canoe
Molly Barda and the Black Thumb
Molly Barda and the Invasive Species
Molly Barda and the Blessed Event

I’m also bringing out a series of children’s books, starting with The Adventures of Alice Mongose and Alistair Rat in Hawaii.

The Alice Mongoose stories were written and illustrated by Mary Pfaff, known in her day as “The Beatrix Potter of Hawaii.” Mary’s granddaughter, Dorothy, is a major donor to Mahina State University, where my protagonist Molly Barda works.

And I’m trying my hand at fan fiction. I enjoy Jana De Leon’s books, and Kindle Worlds is now offering the opportunity to write in her Miss Fortune world.

Justin Lao, a grad student from Hawaii, visits Sinful, Louisiana to do fieldwork for his thesis in conservation biology. He planned to spend the summer poking through the woods and picking up swamp rat droppings. Instead, he discovers something that leads to Sinful’s darkest secret so far.

The title of my fanfic-in-progress is Sinful Science, and the talented Dani Alexander is doing the cover.

Lightning round:
Cake or frosting? Frosting, and a big spoon.
Laptop or desktop? Laptop allows for a quicker escape. Grab it and go.
Chevy Chase or Bill Murray? Can I choose Gilda Radner?
Emailing or texting? Email. Easier to find it later.
Indoors or outdoors? Indoors, definitely. I’m very indoorsy.
Tea: sweet or unsweet? Unsweet. I used up my sugar allowance on the frosting.
Plane, train, or automobile? Well, I live in Hawaii, so if I want to leave the state, it’s gotta be a plane.


Like Molly Barda, Frankie Bow teaches at a public university. Unlike her protagonist, she is blessed with delightful students, sane colleagues, and a perfectly nice office chair. She believes if life isn’t fair, at least it can be entertaining. Her experience with academic publishing has taught her to take nothing personally.

Connect with Frankie:
Website  | Facebook   | Twitter  |  Goodreads  

Monday, November 16, 2015



Boardwalk Empire meets Downton Abbey in this soft-boiled Jazz Age mystery series, inspired by actual events. Real-life rival gangs fight over booze and bars during Prohibition in 1920s Galveston, Texas — the “Sin City of the Southwest.” The series features Jasmine (“Jazz”) Cross, a 21-year-old society reporter, who feels caught between two clashing cultures: her brother’s seedy speakeasy underworld and the snooty social circles she covers in the Galveston Gazette.

Jazz longs to cover hard news and wants to be taken seriously by the good-old-boy staff, but the editors only assign her fluffy puff pieces. Still she manages to show up at most crime scenes, butting heads with seasoned male reporters, determined to make her mark.
As turf wars escalate between rival gangs, Jazz tries to protect her black-sheep big brother from violent gangsters, as well as threats from her not-so-secret admirer, Prohibition Agent James Burton.

Flappers, Flasks and Foul Play (2012)
Bathing Beauties, Booze and Bullets (2013)
Gold Diggers, Gamblers and Guns (2014)
Vamps, Villains and Vaudeville (2015)


Ellen Mansoor Collier is a frequently featured author on A Blue Million Books. See past interviews here and here. She has recently redone all four covers in her mystery series, and I asked her to share some thoughts with us about covers and marketing.

Ellen, I loved your originals covers, but I love the new ones too. Why did you decide to redo them? 

Thanks! I like using authentic Art Deco illustrations for my covers — all the covers except for Bathing Beauties are by French artist George Barbier. c. 1920s. Then a year after my first novel in my Jazz Age series, Flappers, Flasks, and Foul Play, came out I was perusing Pinterest and I found this photo of a flapper in a fancy frock with fur cuffs and huge buttons sitting in front of  a typewriter, holding a candlestick phone and I thought, “That’s Jazz!” Who else but a 1920s society reporter would dress that way to work? I imagined her rushing to her desk after an exciting social event and pounding out the story on her old typewriter, perhaps calling a source for  more information or a juicy quote.
I just updated and colorized the cover with a new background, a postcard showing Murdoch’s Bathhouse and the Galveston Seawall. Though the original Murdoch’s was destroyed during the hurricanes, it’s still standing after all these years — a tribute to the tenacity of the Galveston locals.

Later, I  came across a colorized photo of real-life bathing beauties in a variety of wacky outfits, and thought it was perfect for my sequel, Bathing Beauties, Booze, and Bullets.  BBB is based on the actual Miss Universe Pageant founded in Galveston in 1920 to compete with Atlantic City’s Miss America Contest — with a couple of twists. After that, I wanted to update all of my covers using vintage photographs so that readers who preferred “realism” could have a choice of illustrated or photographic sets. Also, I tend to be a bit matchy-matchy, if possible . . . it’s a Southern thing. Quite a few people buy a whole set as gifts or to keep.
What are some creative ways that you market your books? Do you have any marketing advice for indie authors?

I actually used to work in PR as well as advertising/marketing and sales, so I’ve come up with a variety of ideas — but executing them is difficult. Since I don’t blog or tweet (yet), I’ve had to create alternative ways to sell trade copies of my books. I’ve found out the hard way that it can be really depressing and demoralizing (not to mention frustrating) to market your own novels, especially if you’re an indie author.

At first, I was really ballsy and brave and even approached my local Barnes and Noble — the manager seemed quite interested until he found out I was an indie. As a journalist, I’ve been writing for and editing newspapers and magazines since high school, but no one seemed willing to read the actual story once they found out I was self-published.

Still, I persevered and realized that I had to think outside of the big-box bookstores, literally. Who can compete with thousands of books, besides best-selling authors with huge displays if no one has ever heard of you?

The local bookshop sold dozens of my titles and held book signings for me, but I had to place my books on consignment. So I began approaching gift/souvenir shops in Galveston that also sold books. I even dropped my books off at major luxury Galveston hotels who expressed interest but wanted too high of a percentage. At one hotel, I met the retail manager who told me I needed to contact their Houston headquarters — so I left my first two novels along with my contact info, but was too chicken to follow up.

Over a year later, after I’d written two more novels, I left a message with the merchandising manager — and he called me back the same day! Turns out the hotel retail manager actually read Flappers and enjoyed it so much, that she wanted to start selling it in their gift shops. When I talked to him, he asked about the publishing company, ISBN numbers, etc — and barely hesitated when I told him I was the publisher — then sent me a W-2 form, and placed a large order. I think he became interested later because then I had four novels to sell — so they could turn a decent profit. Finally my persistence paid off!

My advice to indies is: Discover what is unique and special about your novels and target your books to that market. e.g. If your book centers on a candy store or bakery or spice shop, locate shops in your area who might want to sell your books. If your novel involves pets or animals, perhaps a grooming salon or pet shop may want to display your books for sale. Better yet, find a chain who can place your books in several locations so you won’t be running all over town just to sell a handful of books.

Since my books are set in 1920s Galveston, I’ve approached local and regional stores as well as souvenir/gift shops. In addition, I’ve set up at a few antique shows and sold several books per show (usually 10-20). Not only do I make twice as much selling my novels directly, I’ve made new friends who come back for the latest titles. So far at these shows, I’ve been the only author who sells books along with vintage Deco items — and my books seem reasonable in comparison. LOL. A dealer friend who also specializes in 1920s-era items displayed my books at the International Quilt show in Houston — resulting in several sales. (If only my novels were about quilts!) A few dealer friends also display my postcards on their tables during major antique shows.

Why not ask your friends and contacts about various markets/shops that might be interested in featuring your books? They may even be willing to set up a book-signing or talk . . . I’ve donated my books to the Houston Vintage show, the Galveston Art League fund-raiser silent auction, and Miss Houston Vintage contest (held at the 1940 Hobby Airport) — not only is it a great way to make gain new readers and contacts, your books receive wonderful publicity and exposure. Once you find that unique niche, you may hit just the right target market for your novels. Good luck — and think outside of the big box shops!

The Jazz Age Mystery Series

Flappers, Flasks and Foul Play

Rival gangs fight over booze and bars during Prohibition in 1920s Galveston: the "Sin City of the Southwest." Jazz Cross, a 21-year-old society reporter, suspects foul play when a bank VP collapses at her half-brother Sammy's speakeasy. Was it an accident or a mob hit?

Soon handsome young Prohibition Agent James Burton raids the Oasis, threatening to shut it down if Sammy doesn't talk. Suspicious, he pursues Jazz, but despite her attraction she refuses to rat on Sammy. As turf wars escalate between two real-life rival gangs, Sammy is accused of murder. To find the killer, Jazz must risk her life and career, exposing the dark side of Galveston's glittering society.

Bathing Beauties, Booze and Bullets

It’s 1927 in Galveston, Texas—the “Sin City of the Southwest.” Jasmine (“Jazz”) Cross is an ambitious 21-year-old society reporter for the Galveston Gazette who tries to be taken seriously by the good-old-boy staff, but the editors only assign her fluffy puff pieces, like writing profiles of bathing beauties. The last thing Jazz wants to do is compare make-up tips with ditzy dames competing in the Miss Universe contest, known as the “International Pageant of Pulchritude and Bathing Girl Revue.”

She’d rather help solve the murders of young prostitutes who turn up all over town, but city officials insist on burying the stories during Splash Day festivities. After Jazz gets to know the bathing beauties, she realizes there’s a lot more to them than just pretty faces and figures. Jazz becomes suspicious when she finds out the contest is also sponsored by the Maceos, aspiring Beach Gang leaders and co-owners of the Hollywood Dinner Club, where the girls will perform before the parade and pageant.

Worse, her half-brother Sammy Cook, owner of the Oasis, a speakeasy on a rival gang’s turf, asks her to call in a favor from handsome Prohibition Agent James Burton—an impossible request that could compromise both of their jobs and budding romance. While Agent Burton gives her the cold shoulder, she fends off advances from Colin Ferris, an attractive but dangerous gangster who threatens Sammy as well as Burton. In the end, she must risk it all to save her friends from a violent killer hell-bent on revenge. Inspired by actual events.

Gold Diggers, Gamblers and Guns

During Prohibition in 1920s Galveston, the Island was called the "Free State of Galveston" due to its lax laws and laissez faire attitude toward gambling, girls and bootlegging. Young society reporter Jasmine (Jazz) Cross longs to cover hard news, but she's stuck between two clashing cultures: the world of gossip and glamour vs. gangsters and gamblers.

After Downtown Gang leader Johnny Jack Nounes is released from jail, all hell breaks loose: Prohibition Agent James Burton’s life is threatened and he must go into hiding for his own safety. But when he’s framed for murder, he and Jazz must work together to prove his innocence. Johnny Jack blames Jasmine’s half-brother Sammy Cook, owner of the Oasis speakeasy, for his arrest and forces him to work overtime in a variety of dangerous mob jobs as punishment.

When a bookie is murdered, Jazz looks for clues linking the two murders and delves deeper into the underworld of gambling: poker games, slot machines and horse-racing. Meanwhile, Jazz tries to keep both Burton and her brother safe, and alive, while they face off against a common enemy.

Vamps, Villains and Vaudeville

In 1920s Galveston, society reporter Jazz Cross is in for a surprise when she attends a traveling vaudeville show with her beau, Prohibition Agent James Burton, and discovers that an old flame acts in the production. That night, they find a stabbing victim behind the Oasis — her half-brother Sammy’s speakeasy — who’s identified as an actor in the troupe. When the victim disappears and later turns up dead, Jazz must help prove that Sammy wasn’t the killer. After a second vaudeville actor is found dead, Jazz discovers that the events behind the scenes are much more interesting than the outdated acts onstage.

To make matters worse, Sammy’s old nemesis demands that he settles a score and forces him into yet another illegal scheme involving the troupe’s money-making ventures. Can Jazz help solve the murders and prove her brother’s innocence—so he can escape the Downtown Gang for good?

A historical Jazz Age mystery inspired by real-life Galveston gangs and local landmarks.


Ellen Mansoor Collier is a Houston-based freelance magazine writer and editor whose articles, essays, and short stories have been published in a variety of national magazines. In the 1990s, she reviewed mysteries for The Houston Chronicle, which was like a crash course in writing novels. During college summers, she interned as a reporter for a Houston community newspaper and once served as a cocktail waitress, both jobs providing background experience for her Jazz Age mysteries.

A flapper at heart, she's worked as a magazine editor/writer, and in advertising/marketing and public relations (plus endured a hectic semester as a substitute teacher). She graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in Magazine Journalism and was an editor and writer on UTmost, the college magazine. During her senior year, she served as the president of WICI (Women in Communications, Inc).

Flappers, Flasks, and Foul Play is her first novel, published in 2012, followed by the sequel, Bathing Beauties, Booze, and Bullets, in 2013. Gold Diggers, came out in 2014, and last but not least, Vamps was released in 2015.

Collier loves to travel with her chemical engineer husband Gary and visits Galveston whenever possible.

"When you grow up in Houston, Galveston becomes like a second home. I had no idea this sleepy beach town had such a wild and colorful past, and became fascinated by the legends and stories of the 1920s."

Connect with Ellen
Website   |  etsy  |  Amazon author page


Sunday, November 15, 2015



Clutch is the laugh-out-loud, chick lit story that chronicles the dating misadventures of Caroline Johnson, a single purse designer, who goes through a series of unsuccessful romantic relationships she compares to various styles of handbags – the “Hobo” starving artist, the “Diaper Bag” single dad, the “Briefcase” intense businessman, etc.  With her best friend, bar owner Mike by her side, the overly-accommodating Caroline drinks Chardonnay, puts her heart on the line, endures her share of unworthy suitors and finds the courage to stand up for the handbag style that embodies what she ultimately wants – the “Clutch” or someone to hold onto.  


Welcome back to A Blue Million Books, Lisa. How did you come up with the idea for Clutch – comparing men to purses?

When I was writing the Click Trilogy, I was obsessed with NCIS reruns and would have the show on in the background as I wrote. There was an episode when one of the characters mentioned that men were like purses – something useless to hang on a woman’s arm. I started thinking about how men are like handbags and the idea grew from there.

What books do you currently have published?
Click: An Online Love Story - Fast approaching her 30th birthday and finding herself not married, not dating, and without even a prospect or a house full of cats, Renee Greene, the heroine of Click: An Online Love Story, reluctantly joins her best guy pal on a journey to find love online in Los Angeles. The story unfolds entirely through emails between Renee and her best friends (anal-compulsive Mark, the overly-judgmental Ashley and the over-sexed Shelley) as well as the gentlemen suitors she meets online. From the guy who starts every story with "My buddies and I were out drinking one night," to the egotistical “B” celebrity looking for someone to stroke his ego, Renee wades into the shallow end of the dating (cess)pool and endures her share of hilarious and heinous cyber dates. Fraught with BCC's, FWD's and inadvertent Reply to All's, readers will cheer, laugh, cry, and cringe following the email exploits of Renee and friends. And ultimately, they will root for Renee to "click" with the right man.

Double Click - Fans of the romantic hit Click: An Online Love Story will enjoy another voyeuristic dive into the lives of Renee, Shelley, Ashley, Mark and Ethan, as Double Click picks up with their lives six months later. Are Renee and Ethan soul mates? Does Mark ever go on a date? Has Shelley run out of sexual conquests in Los Angeles? Will Ashley's judgmental nature sabotage her budding relationship? Through a marriage proposal, wedding, new baby, and unexpected love twist, Double Click answers these questions and more. Readers will continue to cheer, laugh, cry and cringe following the email exploits of Renee and friends.

Right Click - Love. Marriage.  Infidelity. Parenthood. Crises of identity. Death. Cupcakes. The themes in Right Click, the third and final installment in the Click series, couldn't be more pressing for this group of friends as they navigate through their 30's. Another six months have passed since we last eavesdropped on the hilarious, poignant and often times inappropriate email adventures of Renee and friends. As the light-hearted, slice of life story continues to unfold, relationships are tested and some need to be set "right" before everyone can find their "happily ever after.

Can you share some of your marketing strategies with us?
My background is in public relations and marketing. In fact, before starting a career as a writer, I spent nearly 20 years working at public relations agencies, so I have a natural tendency to plan for this type of effort. Given the significant handbag theme in clutch: a novel, I reached out to handbag designers and am working with more than a dozen on 40+ giveaways of purses in every size and style to support the launch. 

How fun! Tell us . . . for what would you like to be remembered?
Aside being a great wife, mom, friend and citizen, I would like to be remembered for writing movies that people love to watch. The book actually started out as a screenplay that was optioned by a production company housed at one of the major movie studios.  Unfortunately, it fell out of development. I was eager to have this fun story with some of my favorite characters told, so I turned it into a short novel.

If you had a swear jar, would it be full?
It would be practically empty. Once I had kids – more than 10 years ago, I cleaned up my act.

What is the most daring thing you've done?
I went on a 10-course zip line in Costa Rica (and screamed the entire time!). I was so scared that I would only go in tandem with the guide.

What is the stupidest thing you've ever done?
See above!

Those two often are connected! Have you ever been to a fortune teller? What did she tell you?
When I was a junior in high school, there was a fortune teller at a bowling party I attended. She read my palm and told me I would marry a man named Steve one day. My husband’s name is . . . Steve. Spooky!

What’s the worst thing someone has said about your writing? How did you deal with it?

One of the Amazon reviewers for Click said it wasn’t worth the 99 cents she paid for the book. I reached out and offered her a refund. Then I sat down, cried, and ate some frosting from a can.  

What are you working on now?
In addition to promoting the new book, I’m looking into making connections within the motion picture industry to try and get a movie version made. As mentioned, the book started out as a screenplay that was under option at a major studio, but fell out of development. I’m eager to see if there’s interest from someone else on bringing this fun and quirky story to the big screen. So if you happen to be a well-to-do movie producer looking to make a new romantic comedy, please get in touch!

Lightning round:
Cake or frosting? Frosting . . . straight from the can (as noted above).  YUM!
Laptop or desktop? Desktop. I’m old school.
Chevy Chase or Bill Murray? Bill Murray all the way.
Emailing or texting?  Email. As mentioned above, I’m old school.


In addition to her new book, Clutch: a novel, Lisa Becker is the author of the Click Trilogy, a contemporary romance series comprised of Click: An Online Love Story, Double Click and Right Click. She’s written bylined articles about dating and relationships for “Cupid’s Pulse,” “The Perfect Soulmate,” “GalTime,” “Single Edition,” “Healthy B Daily,” and “Chick Lit Central” among others.  She lives in Manhattan Beach, California with her husband and two daughters.

Connect with Lisa:
Website  |  Facebook  |  
Twitter  |  Goodreads