Monday, January 22, 2018



A tale of love, manners, and the quest for perfect vowels.

From a new voice in historical romance comes this sparkling Regency tale, wherein the elegance of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and the wit of George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion collide. The results are clever, funny, and often quite unexpected . . .

Professor Fitzwilliam Darcy, expert in phonetics and linguistics, wishes for nothing more than to spend some time in peace at his friend’s country estate, far from the parade of young ladies wishing for his hand, and further still from his aunt’s schemes to have him marry his cousin. How annoying it is when a young lady from the neighbourhood, with her atrocious Hertfordshire accent and country manners, comes seeking his help to learn how to behave and speak as do the finest ladies of high society.

Elizabeth Bennet has disliked the professor since overhearing his flippant comments about her provincial accent, but recognizes in him her one opportunity to survive a prospective season in London. Despite her ill feelings for the man, she asks him to take her on as a student, but is unprepared for the price he demands in exchange. 

“With her clever mash-up of two classics, Riana Everly has fashioned a fresh, creative storyline with an inventive take on our favorite characters, delightful dialogue and laugh out loud humor. Teaching Eliza is certain to become a reader favorite. It’s a must read!” – Sophia Meredith (author of the acclaimed On Oakham Mount and Miss Darcy’s Companion)

Teaching Eliza
is a full-length JAFF novel of about 110 000 words. 

Book Details:

Title: Teaching Eliza

Author’s name: Riana Everly   

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency) / Jane Austen Fan Fiction

Paperback: 352 pages


Riana, what’s the story behind the title of your book?
Until about three weeks before publication, I had a different title for my novel. When the idea for combining Pride and Prejudice and Pygmalion first came to me, the title My Fair Lizzy popped into my head, and it seemed perfect! I had all the promo stuff ready, my cover art ready, a blog tour set up...

And then I discovered that another author, Barbara Silkstone, had the same idea, and the same title, and her publication date was before mine! I contacted her in a panic, and after an initial moment of “uh oh!” we started talking about what we should do.

The first thing I learned was that Barbara is a truly wonderful person. She had all sorts of ideas of how to deal with similar premises behind two books coming out so close together, and we did a little bit of joint publicity. While she never asked me to change my title, I decided that for both of us, it would be better to have different titles. Her novel was coming out in a few days and I still had three weeks, so I started scrambling.

The second thing I learned is that nothing is final until it's final. Mae, my cover artist, whipped together a new cover with the new title in record time. A quick email to the lovely people hosting my blog tour explained the situation, and since it was before publication, changing the information on my ISBNs was a simple matter. What at first seemed like a looming disaster turned out to be much ado about nothing, and I feel a bit like a winner in this because I got to know some terrific people in the process.

As for the new title itself, I played with a few ideas, but then I came upon an exchange in the text of Shaw's Pygmalion:

MRS. HIGGINS: You certainly are a pretty pair of babies, playing with your live doll.
HIGGINS: Playing! The hardest job I ever tackled: make no mistake about that, mother. But you have no idea how frightfully interesting it is to take a human being and change her into a quite different human being by creating a new speech for her. It's filling up the deepest gulf that separates class from class and soul from soul.
PICKERING: [drawing his chair closer to Mrs. Higgins and bending over to her eagerly] Yes: it's enormously interesting. I assure you, Mrs. Higgins, we take Eliza very seriously. Every week—every day almost—there is some new change. [Closer again] We keep records of every stage—dozens of gramophone disks and photographs—
HIGGINS: [assailing her at the other ear] Yes, by George: it's the most absorbing experiment I ever tackled. She regularly fills our lives up; doesn't she, Pick?
PICKERING: We're always talking Eliza.
HIGGINS: Teaching Eliza.
PICKERING: Dressing Eliza.
HIGGINS: Inventing new Elizas.

Teaching Eliza seemed perfect! This is the essence of the play and the novel – but what my Professor Darcy does not quite realize with his Eliza is that while he is shaping her speech and manners to become those of a lady in high society, she is having her own influence upon him. Unlike the Greek myth, Darcy doesn't fall in love with his own creation, but rather he falls in love with what was already there, now that his eyes have been opened enough to see what was always in front of him.

Where’s home for you?
Home has been a lot of places. I was born in Johannesburg, South Africa, but we left when I was a child, and I lived in the Middle East for a few months before coming to Canada. I grew up in the prairies, then lived in Montreal for a while, and finally settled in Toronto. It has taken a long time for Toronto to feel like home, but now – despite the weather and the awful traffic – I can't imagine living anywhere else.

What do you love about Toronto?

The thing I love most is how multicultural it is and how (for the most part) everyone gets along. There are parts of the city that are Chinese or Indian or Greek or Italian, and every community has its restaurants and shops, and everyone is welcome. When my sister-in-law married an Indian man, we all went down to Little India to buy clothing for the wedding. When we feel like vegan Chinese food, we have so many restaurants to choose from. I do much of my grocery shopping at a little Italian supermarket, where a lot of the products are European and where the old ladies talk to the kids putting out the produce in Italian, and where there is an entire aisle dedicated to olive oil.

Part of multicultural is CULTURE, and that's also something I love about this place. We have a terrific symphony, opera company and ballet, and we are home to, or within a short drive, of some of the best theatre in the world. From mega-musicals like Phantom of the Opera to tiny productions in basements under corner stores, this city is a dream for theatre-lovers, and in the summer we can often be found taking in three or four plays over a weekend at the Stratford Festival or the Shaw Festival, just a couple of hours out of town. This is something we've taken more and more advantage of over the last few years, and it's really wonderful.

What’s the most valuable thing you’ve learned?
Be confident. Don't listen to that little voice inside that says you can't. It's wrong. You can.

What makes you bored?

People telling me what I already know . . . and what they know I already know!

What makes you nervous?
Putting myself out there in the world. I'm a musician, so I'm comfortable on stage, but I have the music to hide behind. When it's just me, with nothing between me and the world . . . that makes me nervous!

What makes you happy?
Watching my kids grow up and seeing the amazing people they're becoming.

What makes you scared?
Heights! I am terrified of heights.

What makes you excited?
Planning new adventures, whether they are physical (such as trips to new places) or more internal (such as plotting out a new story).

Who are you?
This is a hard question. I am a lot of different things, or have been over my life. To my kids, I'm Mom, the person who feeds them and commiserates over problems and gets angry when no one cleans up the mess in the kitchen. To some people I'm the chef, who is always coming up with something new and hopefully edible in the kitchen, or the artsy one who gets everyone involved in a sewing project or who crochets little creatures to give to friends. My different hats include academic, musician, writer, researcher, taxi-driver for my family . . . the list goes on.

What I really am, at heart, is someone who is happiest creating things, whether from sound or food or words. And if some of what I create makes other people smile, then I'm all the happier for it.

How did you meet your spouse? Was it love at first sight?

I joke that we met after a concert where I was in the backup band. I was studying music in Montreal and a friend was giving her graduation recital. For one of the pieces on the program, she had chosen a Mozart horn quintet and asked me to join the quartet of strings, which I was delighted to do. At the party after the recital, she introduced me to another friend of hers, who had come to Montreal for the recital. We started talking and kept talking. He walked me home – an insane distance across town – and asked me out on a date the next night. We talked all through the night again, and when he finally headed off to catch his train back to Toronto, he sent me roses from the train station. We were engaged six weeks later and married less than a year after that. So yes, I guess that counts as love at first sight!

Wow! That's incredible! How did you create the plot for this book?
A couple of years ago we went to see a performance of Pygmalion at the Shaw Festival. I've seen a few productions of this play over the years, but this one was fascinating because it was set in the present. Henry Higgins took his notes on an iPad, and Eliza Doolittle's speech exercises were read into a computer, which displayed the audio waveforms and spectrograms of her voice. It worked. It worked brilliantly, and it got me thinking about how art can transcend its original context. In other words, a good story can work in different settings. Well, this is a key part of Pride and Prejudice variations, and I began to wonder how these two classic tales would mesh. 

As it turned out, they meshed beautifully. The characters mapped one onto the other so nicely, with only slight tweaks here and there to get them to suit the combined story. The two tales also allowed me to rethink old favourite characters and introduce new ones, and the story really wrote itself.

One of your characters has just found out you’re about to kill him off. He/she decides to beat you to the punch. How would he kill you?
Ask me this when I've got my mystery closer to publication! In Teaching Eliza, I suspect I'd do in nasty Mr. Wickham (even though he is so much fun to write about). He thrives on gossip and would surely hear the news of how I've maligned his character. He would lure me into some hidden part of Hyde Park with the incitement of some amazing plot twist and would have me pecked to death by wild pigeons.

Yikes! With what five real people would you most like to be stuck in a bookstore?
A.S. Byatt, Mary Wollstonecraft, Ludwig van Beethoven, Eleanor of Aquitaine (Eleanor’s court at Poitiers largely focused on courtly love and symbolic ritual and was reported to have attracted artists and poets, and to have contributed to a flowering of culture and the arts), and King David.

I would NOT want to be stuck anywhere with Agatha Christie because someone would not make it out alive!

What book are you currently reading and in what format?
I hope that by the time this is posted, I'll be reading Most Anything You Please by Trudy Morgan-Cole. She is a Newfoundland-based author and a friend, and I've ordered her latest paperback and hope to have it in my hands within a few days!

Where is your favorite library, and what do you love about it?
It's hard to choose a favourite, because so many places have their own unique charms. But there is a library in Toronto that specializes in children's books. The library itself is lovely, with open spaces and natural light, but what makes this building special is the entrance. The double doors are set into a deep arch, and are guarded by mythical creatures and woodland animals. One one side of the doorway is a griffin, and on the other is a winged lion, and smaller animals are tucked around each sculpture. It's just a lovely an whimsical entrance to the space, and it creates an aura of magic and wonder that kids should associate with books and reading.  

You can be any fictional character for one day. Who would you be?
Hermione Granger. I'd love to be able to do magic and do it well!

Why did you decide to self-publish? 
I decided to self-publish because of the greater control I have over my work and my schedule. It involves more work at my end, such as finding my own editors and cover artist, and learning the technical ins and outs of formatting material for electronic and print publication, but there is a satisfaction in that as well, and I can do it my own way.

Are you happy with your decision to self-publish?
I am happy with my decision. I have been writing for a while, but until Teaching Eliza, had not published anything.  One of my author friends has been encouraging me for a while to publish, and when I showed her the manuscript, she almost shouted at me to pick a date and just do it. I had a similar response from another author whose work I respect a great deal, and so I did it. I chose a date, took a deep breath, and plunged in. Being in complete control of the novel and all the details around publishing allowed me to do this: to set a goal some two months down the road, to organize the publicity I needed, and to see it through to completion. Even the change in title, which I mentioned above, was easy to manage because everything was under my control.

What steps to publication did you personally do, and what did you hire someone to do? Is there anyone you’d recommend for a particular service?
I did a lot of the work for Teaching Eliza myself, but I know my limits! I did not hire an editor, but I enlisted a small army of ridiculously intelligent and over-educated friends and other authors to offer feedback and proofread through various incarnations of the manuscript. I'm lucky to have some amazing authors as my friends, whose grammar and whose opinions I trust, and we trade off proofreading for each other. 

Where I did go to a professional was for my cover art. I can find my way around a graphic design program and can produce something that's nice, but I wanted more than nice. At the recommendation of an author friend, I found Mae Phillips at Coverfresh Designs, and she came up with the cover for Teaching Eliza, as well as for my upcoming novel. Her work is lovely and she was able to take my general ramblings (“something like this, but different”) and give them shape. I have every intention on going back to her for all future covers.

What are you working on now?
I am polishing another Austen-inspired novel for publication within the next few months, titled The Assistant. This one is a prequel to Pride and Prejudice, and tells the story of Elizabeth's favourite aunt and uncle, the Gardiners. For such a sensible and established couple, their courtship involved all sorts of adventures, from hidden identities and scheming relatives to adventure across the ocean! I have also completed the first draft of a murder mystery set in Austen's fictional town of Meryton that was a ton of fun to write. It will be the first of a series of six mysteries with the same two sleuths: Mary Bennet and a professional investigator from London.


Riana Everly was born in South Africa, but has called Canada home since she was eight years old. She has a Master’s degree in Medieval Studies and is trained as a classical musician, specialising in Baroque and early Classical music. She first encountered Jane Austen when her father handed her a copy of Emma at age 11, and has never looked back. 

Riana now lives in Toronto with her family. When she is not writing, she can often be found playing string quartets with friends, biking around the beautiful province of Ontario with her husband, trying to improve her photography, thinking about what to make for dinner, and, of course, reading!

Riana's debut novel, Teaching Eliza, was recently listed on a list of 2017 Favourite Books on the blog Savvy Verse & Wit, for which she is honoured and delighted and very proud!

Connect with Riana:
Website  |  Blog  |  Facebook 
Buy the book:
Amazon  |  Barnes & Noble  |  Universal Book Link 

Sunday, January 21, 2018



Another gripping Lorimer novel from Alex Gray, evoking Glasgow like no other writer can
When Kirsty Wilson lands a room in a luxury Glasgow flat owned by Swedish fellow student Eva Magnusson she can’t believe her luck. But Kirsty’s delight turns to terror when she finds the beautiful Swedish girl lying dead in their home and their male flatmate accused of her murder. Kirsty refuses to accept that he is guilty and, inspired by family friend Detective Superintendent Lorimer, sets out to clear his name.

Meanwhile, Lorimer calls on trusted psychologist Solly Brightman to help unravel the truth behind the enigmatic Eva’s life and death. But it is not long until another woman, bearing a marked resemblance to Eva, is brutally murdered. Horrified, Lorimer realises that Kirsty could be right. Is it possible that Glasgow’s finest detective has put the wrong man behind bars? And is there a cold-blooded killer out there orchestrating the death of the next innocent victim?

Book Details:
Title: The Swedish Girl
Author: Alex Gray
Genre: Mystery

Series: A DCI Lorimer Novel, #10 (stand alone)

Published by: Witness Impulse (January 9, 2018)

Paperback: 368 pages

Touring with: Partners in Crime


If I could go back to my younger self I would say, ‘Don’t worry about gazing at clouds!’

When I was little my teachers at school often had to bring me back from day dreaming, gazing out of the window. So many times I would be told that I had ‘ an overactive imagination’ as though that were somehow a fault that had to be corrected or a thing my elders wished I would grow out of. Now I would tell my younger self not to be fazed by such comments and to nurture that imagination as a gift from God.

The subject that caused me most heartache was arithmetic; all my family members seemed to find these arithmetical problems simple whereas they drive me to tears of frustration! I would tell my younger self not to worry as devices would be invented in time that would help me solve arithmetic puzzles!

The school I attended was fiercely competitive and my own lack of gaining subject prizes gave me a sense of repeated failure. It was only when I was at university and passing first in classes that I had any real sense of my own intelligence. I would go back to my younger self and tell me that achieving highest marks was less important than being kind and showing friendship to other children, something that tended to come naturally to a sensitive wee girl like me.

Being a writer was always part if who I was; one teacher at school recognised that when, aged eight, she told my parents that I would grow up to be an author. Many years later I was awarded a very special award by my old school for particular achievement in public life. I took that opportunity to tell the pupils not to worry about being first in class but to do their best, cultivate their individual talents and to cherish friendships. And, if they were so inclined, to gaze at clouds and try to see beyond them to a world where their imagination might grow into something real and special.

Read an excerpt:

From Chapter 9
Kirsty turned the key in the door and closed it behind her with a sigh. The hall was in darkness and there was no sound coming from the living room. Her shoulders moved up and down in a shrug of resignation; she was alone in the flat again. Then she remembered. Wasn’t there some party that Eva had mentioned? They’d all be there, wouldn’t they? Pulling off her thin raincoat and hanging it on the old-fashioned wooden coat stand, Kirsty sauntered into the bedroom next to the front door, unbuttoning her jacket. It was fair handy having this big room to herself, especially when she was working late shift at the hotel. Nobody would be disturbed by her comings and goings. She took off her shoes and tossed her jacket, bag and mobile phone onto the bed. Oh, it was good to be home. A wee cup of hot chocolate and some of her own gingerbread would go down well, she thought, already imagining her teeth sinking into a thick slab of treacly cake.
She stopped for a moment, listening. There was a swish then a click as the front door opened and closed again. Then, nothing.
‘Colin? Is that you back already?’ Kirsty wandered out into the hall, her bare feet sinking into the pile of the hall carpet, still thick and soft despite all their winter boots tramping back and forth. Eva’s father had spared no expense in doing up this flat for his daughter and Kirsty Wilson was grateful for those small luxuries that were absent from most of her friends’ student flats.
Frowning slightly, Kirsty padded down the unlit corridor, one hand out ready to flick on the light switch as she reached the kitchen. But something made her turn left into the living room instead, just to see if anyone was at home after all.
At first she imagined the girl had fallen asleep, sprawled out in front of the television.
Kirsty moved forward and bent down, expecting the girl to sit up and yawn. One hand reached out to touch the back of her head but then she drew back as though guided by some inner instinct.
She stood up again and stepped around the recumbent figure, unaware that she was holding her breath.
Then, as Kirsty saw the expression in the dead girl’s eyes, the thin wail escaping from her open mouth turned into a scream of terror.
* * *
Detective Superintendent Lorimer crouched over the body, aware of the sounds of voices coming from the hall. The dead girl was lying on her back, one arm flung out, the fist curled tightly in the moment of death. Her head was bent to one side, blond hair partly obscuring her features, but Lorimer could see enough to make him wonder about the cause of death.
‘Manual strangulation?’ he asked, glancing up at the consultant pathologist who was kneeling on the other side of the girl’s body. The on-duty pathologist tonight was his friend, Dr Rosie Fergusson. He glanced at her with his usual admiration for her calm efficiency, knowing how different she could be at home as a doting mother and as the wife of Professor Brightman, an eminent psychologist and sometime criminal profiler who had worked with Lorimer in the past.
‘Looks like it,’ Rosie murmured, her gloved hands smoothing the hair from the victim’s face, letting Lorimer see for the first time what Kirsty Wilson had found earlier that night.
Eva Magnusson still had that ethereal quality in death that had captivated those who had gazed upon her: Lorimer saw the perfect oval face with flawless skin and bow-shaped lips that were slightly parted as though she had been taken by surprise. He watched as Rosie reached out to close the dead girl’s eyelids, seeing for the final time those pale blue Scandinavian eyes staring out at a world that had proved less than kind.
Excerpt from Swedish Girl by Alex Gray. Copyright © 2018 by Alex Gray. Reprinted by permission of Witness Impulse, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.


Alex Gray was born and educated in Glasgow. After studying English and Philosophy at the University of Strathclyde, she worked as a visiting officer for the Department of Health, a time she looks upon as postgraduate education since it proved a rich source of character studies. She then trained as a secondary school teacher of English. Alex began writing professionally in 1993 and had immediate success with short stories, articles, and commissions for BBC radio programs. She has been awarded the Scottish Association of Writers' Constable and Pitlochry trophies for her crime writing. A regular on the Scottish bestseller lists, she is the author of thirteen DCI Lorimer novels. She is the co-founder of the international Scottish crime writing festival, Bloody Scotland, which had its inaugural year in 2012.

Connect with Alex:
Website  |  Goodreads  |  Twitter

Buy the book:
Amazon  |  Barnes & Noble  |  Harper Collins 

Thursday, January 18, 2018



When the Deringer pistol that shot Abraham Lincoln is stolen and ends up in the hands of a Russian military general, covert agent Blake Deco is tasked by the FBI to head to the Balkans to recover the historical weapon. Meanwhile, the United States media is abuzz with news of the mysterious disappearance of Hollywood movie star, Goldie St. Helen.

After Blake’s return from overseas, he receives a tip from a Mexican friend that a drug lord, obsessed with the beautiful actress, is holding her captive in Tijuana. With the help of a reluctant army friend, Blake mounts a daring rescue. What he doesn’t expect is to have feelings for Goldie—or that a killer is hunting them.

Book Details

Title: Gun Kiss

Author: Khaled Talib

Genre: Thriller 

Publisher: Imajin Books (December 1, 2017)

Paperback: 221 pages


Khaled, what’s the story behind the title of your book?
Gun Kiss is a metaphor for finding love during trouble times. It’s a story about a man who rescues a movie star from a drug lord, but as they fall in love with each other, their happiness is interrupted havoc. 

Where’s home for you?
I live in Singapore. I spent some years working in the Middle East, and I travel a lot. So, I’d like to describe myself as an international citizen, especially since I enjoy other people’s culture and food.

Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Singapore. I was born here. However, I feel like a foreigner nowadays. Things have changed. I don’t fit in. Then again, I never did because I’m a minority. Singapore’s culture and values may not necessarily be mine.

What’s your favorite memory?
The amusement park, and having cotton candy.  Magical place.

If you had an extra $100 a week to spend on yourself, what would you buy?
A couple of kindle books. Then I’ll save the rest and buy a nice pair of shoes at the end of the month. I like shoes.

What’s the dumbest purchase you’ve ever made?
An old, red Miata that was a guzzler.

What’s the most valuable thing you’ve learned?
Never stand at the edge; someone might push you. It happened to me once when I was standing at the edge of a pier. Lesson learned.

What is the most daring thing you've done?
I rescued a stranger from drowning. It happened in Malaysia. I gave him my life jacket. I didn’t realize how strong the current was until I had removed the life jacket. It took all my strength to swim back to the boat.

What is the stupidest thing you've ever done?
I answered a call and forgot I was frying some fries. The flame almost hit the ceiling, but thank God it got put out on time. 

What’s one thing that you wish you knew as a teenager that you know now?
How fast time flies.

What makes you bored?
People who talk about stocks and finance, business and computers.  People with no sense of humor.  

What is your most embarrassing moment?
A woman in a car at the gas station laughed at me as I stood outside searching my pockets for my cash card. I was so preoccupied in finding it that I forgot it was in my mouth. 

What makes you nervous?
Deadlines . . . I hate deadlines. I hate to rush. I’ve seen how rushing causes injury to people. People loose control when they are forced to rush. Total chaos. I hate it. 

What makes you happy?

Chocolates, a good movie, and traveling. The idea of going on a train journey always sounds nice.

Who are you?
An observer.

What brings you sheer delight?
Buying a perfectly-sized pants at the mall without having to adjust it.

Would you rather be a lonely genius, or a sociable idiot?
A lonely genius. Best to be heard of than laughed at.

What’s one of your favorite quotes?
"Writers have dual citizenship. They live in the seen and unseen world." It’s taken from The Little Book of Muses, a collection of inspirational sayings for writers. I wrote the book.

What’s your favorite line from a book?
"Nowadays people know the price of everything and the value of nothing." Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray.

What would your main character say about you?
Here’s a guy who knows how to dress up his characters.

How did you create the plot for this book?
I don’t pre-plan a story. I might have a character in mind, and as I go along, I’ll develop the plot. Sometimes, I’d make mistake and rewrite the plot. Sometimes it’s easier, sometimes it’s not. 

Is your book based on real events?
Yes, they are, although it’s heavily dipped in a jar of fiction. I collect stories from here and there, then make up my own. I try to imagine the situation, how it would have been and draw my own conclusions.

Are you like any of your characters?
My sense of humor. In Gun Kiss, you’ll notice that in the protagonist.

One of your characters has just found out you’re about to kill him off. He/she decides to beat you to the punch. How would he kill you?
He’ll probably toss me out of the window or poison the box of chocolate.

Who are your favorite authors?
Too many to list down! 

What’s one pet peeve you have when you read?
When my Kindle battery dies.

Do you have a routine for writing?
I write whenever I feel like it. It can be anytime of the day. But at times, I’ll need chocolate to boost my energy, in addition to a hot cup of coffee . . . with sugar.

Where and when do you prefer to do your writing?
At home, in my bedroom. I’m not one of those people who can concentrate at a café with a laptop. Knowing me, I’ll people watch instead of looking at the screen. 

What’s the best compliment you’ve ever received about your writing?
People repeatedly tell me that my writing feels like a movie. 

What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever had to write?
In Gun Kiss, I wrote a military battle scene. It was tough because I had to coordinate everything from various angles while managing characters and dialogue while everything was ricocheting and blowing around them. 

What’s the worst thing someone has said about your writing? How did you deal with it?
Someone left a comment on Goodreads and described my novel, Smokescreen, a “B-league thriller.” Then again, there are so many trolls out there. Well, I complained to Goodreads, of course, but at the same time I don’t really care. You find criticisms and trolls everywhere. Other writers get it too. Have faith in your readers. People can see what’s true and what’s not.  

What would your dream office look like?
Victorian. Like Sherlock Holmes’s.

What are you working on now?
I’m writing a murder mystery set at a winery in South Australia. I used to handle the public relations account of the South Australian tourism office, so I’m familiar with the State.


Khaled Talib is the author of Smokescreen, Incognito, and Gun Kiss. Born and raised in Singapore, Khaled is a former journalist with local and international exposure. His articles have been published and syndicated to newspapers worldwide, and his short stories have appeared in literary journals and magazines. The author is a member of the Crime Writers Association and the International Thriller Writers. Khaled's novel Incognito won the Silver award for the AuthorsDB Book Cover Contest 2017.

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

Buy the book:

Amazon  |  Barnes & Noble

Tuesday, January 16, 2018



Eli's trip to London with his Uncle Harry quickly turns homicidal when the older magician finds himself accused of murder. A second slaying does little to take the spotlight off Harry, instead making it clear that someone is knocking off Harry's elderly peers in bizarrely effective ways. But who? The tale takes an odd twist when the prime suspect appears to be a bitter performer with a grudge . . . who committed suicide over thirty years before.

While Eli struggles to prove his uncle's innocence--and keep them both alive--he finds himself embroiled in a battle of his own: A favorite magic routine of his has been ripped off by another, hugely-popular magician.

What began as a whirlwind vacation to London with girlfriend Megan turns into a fatal and larcenous trip into the dark heart of magic within the city's oldest magic society, The Magic Circle.

Book Details:

Title: The Linking Rings

Series: Eli Marks, 4th in series

Author: John Gaspard

Genre: Mystery, amateur sleuth

Publisher: Henery Press (January 16, 2018)

Paperback: 252 pages


Easiest thing about being a writer: Saying you're a writer.

Hardest thing about being a writer: Actually writing.

Things you need in order to write: An outline.
Things that hamper your writing: Writing the outline.

Things you always put in your books:
I like the word "snick," describing the sound of a door lock as it closes. Recently I've also tried to add in "Harry pocketed it" to each book, to trip up my audiobook narrator. (Apparently, Stephen Fry had a lot of trouble with that phrase. J.K. Rowling made a point of putting it in every one of the Harry Potter books after Fry was a bit rude to her).

Things you never put in your books: People keep begging me to not kill off Uncle Harry, so that's one thing that will never be in an Eli Marks book.

Things you love about writing: Just like filmmaking, editing is the best part of the process–once all the pieces are in place, the process of putting them together and refining them makes the arduous task of actually doing the initial writing almost bearable.
Things you hate about writing: The writing part. The coming up with ideas part is fun and–see above–the editing and shaping part is fun. But just like shooting a movie, actually writing the first draft can be a real slog. (Note: I'm writing these answers while in the midst of writing a first draft.)

Favorite books: I'm a big fan of audiobooks of all genres. Eddie Izzard's reading of his book, Believe Me, is a phenomenal listen and highly recommended.

Books you would ban: Ban is a strong word. Let's say avoid. The books I would avoid are (some, not all) audiobooks which are read by their authors. Many authors should really think twice before doing that. I know I did and have never regretted that decision--my narrator (Jim Cunningham) is fantastic!

Things you love about where you live: Spring, Summer, Fall.
Things that make you want to move: Winter.

People you consider as heroes:
People who adopt dogs (and, to a lesser degree, cats.) (That is, people who adopt cats. Not cats who adopt dogs.)

People with a big L on their foreheads: People who are mean to dogs (and, okay, to cats as well).

Things you never want to run out of: Chocolate chip cookies.
Things you wish you’d never bought: Chocolate chip cookies.

Favorite music:
I never get tired of the theme from Casino Royale. How can you not love that? I think I'd like it played at my funeral.
Music that make your ears bleed:  Jo Stafford's version of "Carioca." (To be honest, I really sort of like it. I'd also like that at my funeral.)

Favorite smell: Chocolate chip cookies
Something that makes you hold your nose: Tomato juice–I have no understanding why that is.

Biggest lie you’ve ever told: I never lie.

A lie you wish you’d told: Just did it.

The Eli Marks mystery series:


John is author of the Eli Marks mystery series from Henery Press.

In real life, John’s not a magician, but he has directed six low-budget features that cost very little and made even less – that’s no small trick. He’s also written multiple books on the subject of low-budget filmmaking. Ironically, they’ve made more than the films.

John lives in Minnesota and shares his home with his lovely wife, several dogs, a few cats and a handful of pet allergies.

Connect with John:
Facebook  |  Twitter  

Buy the book:

Listen to the first chapter of The Linking Rings

Sunday, January 14, 2018



Wedding coordinator Sydney Riley never thought she’d get caught up in a murder investigation, but she became an amateur sleuth when her boss was killed during Bear Week. Now she’s back, this time as the Race Point Inn hosts Provincetown’s venerable transgender event, Fantasia Fair… and murder is once again an uninvited guest!

It’s all hands on deck at the inn as visitors arrive for the week-long event and Sydney helps coordinator Rachel Parsons organize the occasion. Guest Elizabeth Gonzalez is attending with her spouse, Bob, who–as Angela–is taking a bold first step into a whole new existence. Angela, Elizabeth, and Sydney learn the ropes and politics from other guests, some of whom have attended annually for more than forty years.

But the next day, Sydney’s detective friend summons her to one of the town beaches where Angela’s body has been found–with a knife in her back, a knife stolen from Adrienne, the Race Point Inn’s diva chef.

Fair organizers and attendees try and carry on as Provincetown is overrun with police, press, and rampant speculation. Sydney, her boyfriend Ali, her friend Mirela, her boss Glenn, and a host of Fantasia Fair participants scramble to find out who killed Angela–and why–before the killer strikes again.

Book Details

Title: Murder at Fantasia Fair: A Provincetown Mystery

Author: Jeannette de Beauvoir

Genre: Cozy Mystery, 2nd in series

Publisher: HomePort Press (September 28, 2017)

Paperback: 282 pages

Touring with: Great Escapes Book Tours


Things you need in order to write: Silence. My MacBook. Um, did I mention silence?
Things that hamper your writing: Music. Others love to write to music; I find it completely distracting!

Hardest thing about being a writer: Keeping the seat of your pants in the seat of the chair.

Easiest thing about being a writer: When your characters are talking to you and telling you the story.

Things you love about where you live: I live in a cottage by the sea and get to start every day with a walk on the beach. How lucky am I?
Things that make you want to move: Tourists in the summertime, the inconvenience of isolation in the winter.

Favorite foods: Wine, bread, cheese, coffee, chocolate, shellfish.
Things that make you want to throw up: Hot dogs, tripe, yuck!

Favorite beverage: Red Bordeaux wine.
Something that gives you a pickle face: Gatorade.

Something you’re really good at: Driving—my mother taught me performance driving when I was young, and it’s served me well ever since.

Something you’re really bad at: Math. I count on my fingers. It’s really pathetic.

Things you always put in your books: Places. Real places. I think the location is as important as the characters.
Things you never put in your books: You know, I can’t think of anything! I try to stay open to whatever is going to make the story work.

Things to say to an author: I couldn’t put the book down, I was up until 4:00 reading it!
Things to say to an author if you want to be fictionally killed off in their next book: I don’t like to read.

Favorite places you’ve been: Montréal, my hometown of Angers (France), some fictional places (Ledwardine in Phil Rickman’s books, for example!).
Places you never want to go to again: Dentist’s office, middle school.

Favorite genre: Mysteries! Anything by Phil Rickman or Tana French. I especially like British authors; they tend to be smart and articulate.
Books you would ban: Bodice-ripper romances—they diminish women.

People you’d like to invite to dinner: The cast of Hamilton.
People you’d cancel dinner on: Anyone in the current US administration.

Things that make you happy: My cat, early summer mornings, a great book and glass of wine in a warm place during a snowstorm.
Things that drive you crazy: People who travel poorly: act as though they own the places they visit.

Best thing you’ve ever done: Bringing joy to people.
Biggest mistake: Taking myself too seriously.


Jeannette de Beauvoir grew up in Angers, France, but has lived in the United States since her twenties. (No, she’s not going to say how long ago that was!) She spends most of her time inside her own head, which is great for writing, though possibly not so much for her social life. When she’s not writing, she’s reading or traveling . . . to inspire her writing. The author of a number of mystery and historical novels, de Beauvoir’s work has appeared in 15 countries and has been translated into 12 languages. Midwest Review called her Martine LeDuc Montréal series “riveting (…) demonstrating her total mastery of the mystery/suspense genre.” She coaches and edits individual writers, teaches writing online and on Cape Cod, and is currently writing a Provincetown Theme Week cozy mystery series featuring female sleuth Sydney Riley.

Connect with Jeannette:

Website  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |   Goodreads  

Buy the book:


Friday, January 12, 2018



Why would a man, knowing his life was in danger, turn his back on his killer?

In pre-war London, Olivia Denis wins a plum assignment from her newspaper when she meets the glamorous French fashion designer, Mimi Mareau. Mimi has it all—wealth, talent, acclaim, and a British duke for a lover. But on her first visit to Mimi’s new Mayfair house of haute couture, Olivia finds something else—the body of an unknown man.

Mimi and her three French assistants say they don’t know the man, but is that true? As Olivia spends time around the salon, she learns at least one of the women knew the dead man and all four women are lying.

A British agent in possession of a terrible secret, an attempt on the life of a British leader, a fashion house in the middle of it all, while war marches closer. Can Olivia stop a murderer before he or she strikes again, or will time run out on the fragile peace, ending Olivia’s efforts? 

Book Details:
Title: Deadly Fashion (The Deadly Series) 
3rd in Series
Author’s name: Kate Parker       
Genre: historical cozy mystery
Publish date: (print 12/8/17) (ebook 1/11/18)
Publisher: JDP Press (December 8, 2017)
Paperback: 324 pages


Kate, what books do you currently have published?

So far I’ve published five Victorian Bookshop Mysteries about a young lady in the 1890’s in London who runs a bookshop while assisting in investigations with the secret Archivist Society. 

Deadly Fashion is the third of the Deadly series about a young widow who is a society reporter while secretly carrying out searches and smuggling for her boss, the publisher of the London daily newspaper where she works. These stories take place just before World War II, and in Deadly Fashion, the reporter finds a murdered man in the London fashion salon of a famous French designer.

In the spring, The Killing at Kaldaire House will come out, about a milliner in London in 1905 who is caught between the widow of the murdered man she found, a Scotland Yard detective who suspects she is guilty of murder, and her father’s family of conmen.  

Is writing your dream job?
How could it not be my dream job? After a terrible commute in the DC suburbs, I now go to work each day by walking across the house in my pjs. I get to dream up exciting tales of murder and mayhem and set them in the past. Digging through arcane sources online isn’t wasting time, it’s research. I’m my own boss…oh, wait. I named my publishing imprint after my husband, and now he’s decided he’s in charge of my career.  I let him think that. ;-)

This is the first job I’ve ever had that I wanted to go to work each day, and every day is different. Since I write mysteries set in England in the past, this necessitates research trips overseas, purchases of fascinating book reprints from the eras that I write about, and tours of sites that provide insights that make my stories come alive. I feel blessed to have this job.

And if I didn’t write, the voices in my head would never leave me alone.

If you could only watch one television station for a year, what would it be?
Most of the time when I watch TV, I’m watching PBS. Our local affiliate runs a lot of British and Australian  mysteries, including some I’d never heard of before they appeared in the TV lineup.

What do you love about where you live?
I live on the southeast coast of the US, and I love being where I can walk on the beach 12 months of the year. We seldom get snow, and if we do, it disappears in hours. Of course, since it is often hot out, and I love hot tea, air conditioning is essential to life as I want to live it. Our town has been around since colonial times and we are lucky enough to have some wonderful old buildings. Since I’m fascinated with the past, I love to stroll the downtown area. Small, friendly, and not too busy.

Where is your favorite place to visit?
London. Hand me a plane ticket and I’d go in a minute. Every time I go, I’m researching a different book and I’m looking for different buildings, museums, and tours. I can spend hours in the newspaper collection of the British Library, finding such gems as the real female German spymaster who’d been in and out of England twice. No one was quite sure what she looked like, no one knew her real name, and they couldn’t catch her. I used her as a model of the French assassin in Deadly Fashion. And from London, nowhere I need to research is too far by train. I love European trains.

What would you name your autobiography?
Dropping the Ball. Many, many years ago when my children were small and I was working outside the home full-time, I read an article called “Juggling.” That was when I knew if I was to write nonfiction on my methods, I would call it Dropping the Ball.

What’s your least favorite chore?
I hate washing dishes. The first time my husband of forty years came over to my house, he found a neat, clean house and a sink full of dirty dishes. He washed them for me, and I was instantly in love. He’s washed them ever since. He’s a keeper.

Sounds like it! What’s one of your favorite quotes?
George Eliot’s “It’s never too late to be what you might have been.” I suspect this has nothing to do with playing tennis or being a ballerina, but since I was retired before I was published, I’ll take this as my guiding star.

Where is your favorite library, and what do you love about it?
The British Library near King’s Cross in London. I could get lost for years in the newspaper reading room with all those fabulous issues, year after year, on microfilm. The gift shop on the ground floor is fascinating. And there’s a pub that does great lunches right across Euston Road. 

What are you working on now?
I’m getting The Killing at Kaldaire House, my 1905 story about a free-spirited milliner, ready to send to my editor. In my spare moments, I’m doing research for Deadly Deception, the fourth in the Deadly Series, that immediately follows Deadly Fashion. I know that Olivia, my heroine in Deadly Fashion, will be following another mystery with twists and turns as Europe prepares for war.


Kate Parker grew up reading her mother’s collection of mystery books and her father’s library of history and biography books. Now she can’t write a story that isn’t set in the past with a few decent corpses littered about. It took her years to convince her husband she hadn’t poisoned dinner; that funny taste is because she can’t cook. Now she can read books on poisons and other lethal means at the dinner table and he doesn’t blink.

Their children have grown up to be surprisingly normal, but two of them are developing their own love of creating literary mayhem, so the term “normal” may have to be revised.

Living in a nineteenth century town has further inspired Kate’s love of history. But as much as she loves stately architecture and vintage clothing, she has also developed an appreciation of central heating and air conditioning. She’s discovered life in coastal Carolina requires her to wear shorts and T-shirts while drinking hot tea and it takes a great deal of imagination to picture cool, misty weather when it’s 90 degrees out and sunny.

Connect with Kate:

Website  |  
Facebook  |  
Twitter  |  Goodreads 

Buy the book:
Amazon Barnes & Noble  |  iTunes  |  Kobo

Wednesday, January 10, 2018



Yoga instructor Kate Davidson is ready to marry her boyfriend Michael, so she’s disappointed when a special dinner doesn’t end with a proposal. But disappointment turns to dismay and outrage as she learns the real problem: Michael is already married and his green card-seeking wife is blackmailing him.

When his wife’s body is found—by Kate and her dog, no less—Michael is strangely unable to remember where he was the night she died. Since Michael has no alibi, Kate steps up to uncover what happened. What she walks into is a tangled web of deceit, obsession, and immigration fraud . . . with Michael trapped in the middle.

Book Details:
Title: Pre-Meditated Murder (A Downward Dog Mystery)

Author: Tracy Weber
Genre: Cozy Mystery, 5th in Series
Midnight Ink (January 8, 2018)

Paperback: 288 pages

Touring with: Great Escape Book Tours


A few of your favorite things: Dogs, Cats, Fuzzy slipper socks, Warm blankets, Seahawks tickets.
Things you need to throw out: Old clothes, Expired dog treats, All that stuff taking up space in the garage.  (Whatever it is!)

Things you need in order to write: Silence, Inspiration, A glass of champagne doesn’t hurt.
Things that hamper your writing: Music, My husband.  ;-)

Things you love about writing: Interacting with readers! Making new fictional friends, learning. Things you hate about writing: Writing first drafts. I’d rather have a root canal.

Things you love about where you live: The scenery, Green Lake.
Things that make you want to move: Traffic, cost, lack of parking.

Favorite foods: Black bean Pita burgers.
Things that make you want to throw up: Walnuts.

Favorite smell: My dog’s fur.

Something that makes you hold your nose: Cat litter boxes.

Something you’re really good at: Writing (I hope!).

Something you’re really bad at: Drawing or creating art of any kind.

Last best thing you ate: A chocolate chip cookie from Seattle’s Best Cookie Company.  YUMMERS!
Last thing you regret eating: A chocolate chip cookie from Seattle’s Best Cookie Company. I’ll be exercising it off for weeks.

Things to say to an author: “I love your work!”

Things to say to an author if you want to be fictionally killed off in their next book: “I have a great idea for a book. All you have to do is write it!”

Favorite places you’ve been: Cannon Beach, Oregon, Maui, Hawaii.

Places you never want to go to again: Ocean Shores, WA.  Most people love it. I call it “Shores of Hell.”

Favorite books: Anything by Susan Conant or Stephen King.

Books you would ban: Anything that tortures an animal.  I can’t stomach it.


Tracy Weber is the author of the award-winning Downward Dog Mysteries series featuring yoga teacher Kate Davidson and her feisty German shepherd, Bella. Tracy loves sharing her passion for yoga and animals in any form possible. Her first book, Murder Strikes a Pose won the Maxwell Award for Fiction and is a 2015 Agatha award nominee for Best First Novel.

Tracy and her husband live in Seattle with their challenging yet amazing German shepherd Tasha. When she’s not writing, Tracy spends her time teaching yoga, walking Tasha, and sipping Blackthorn cider at her favorite ale house.

Connect with Tracy:
Website  |  Blog Facebook  |  Twitter Goodreads

Buy the book:
Amazon  |  Barnes & Noble

Tuesday, January 9, 2018



Private investigator Delanie Fitzgerald, and her computer hacker partner, Duncan Reynolds, are back for more sleuthing in The Tulip Shirt Murders. When a music producer hires the duo to find out who is bootlegging his artists’ CDs, Delanie uncovers more than just copyright thieves. And if chasing bootleggers isn’t bad enough, local strip club owner and resident sleaze, Chaz Smith, pops back into Delanie’s life with more requests. The police have their man in a gruesome murder, but the loud-mouthed strip club owner thinks there is more to the open and shut case. Delanie and Duncan link a series of killings with no common threads. And they must put the rest of the missing pieces together before someone else is murdered.

The Tulip Shirt Murders is a fast-paced mystery that appeals to readers who like a strong female sleuth with a knack for getting herself in and out of humorous situations such as larping and trading elbow jabs with roller derby queens.

Book Details
Title: The Tulip Shirt MurdersAuthor: Heather Weidner

Publisher: Sandpiper Productions

Pages: 264

Genre: Mystery – Female Sleuth
Touring with: Pump Up Your Book


A few of your favorite things: Books, chocolate, my two Jack Russell Terriers.
Things you need to throw out:
 Old clothes (I tend to keep stuff until it comes back in style).

Things you need in order to write: Chocolate, Paper/Pen or Laptop, Music (loud for writing; calmer for editing).
Things that hamper your writing: Distractions (Usually the Internet) – I’ll go to research something and get lost in the world wide web.

Hardest thing about being a writer: Balancing the writing life with all the other things life throws at you.
Easiest thing about being a writer:
 Getting in the zone and writing; plotting a new mystery.

Things you love about where you live: I love that we are central to just about everything in Virginia. I can be at the beach, mountains, or in Washington, DC in a few hours. I love taking day-trips. Virginia has so much history, beauty, cultural sites, and wonderful restaurants.
Things that make you want to move: We usually have moderate temperatures, but we do have a few cold snaps. And during winter, I always get the urge to move somewhere warm.

Things you never want to run out of: Chocolate, iced tea, electricity (I am not a ruffing-it kind of girl).
Things you wish you’d never bought:
 I have some clothes that have inspired buyers’ remorse. It looked good in the store…

Words that describe you: Creative, energetic, sassy.
Words that describe you but you wish they didn’t: Tired (I try to cram a lot into twenty-four hours. I have to take a break once in a while).

Favorite foods: Pizza, cheese, apples, chocolate, french fries.
Things that make you want to throw up: Broccoli, Brussel sprouts, carrot/raisin/mayonnaise salad, the smell of eggs.

Favorite beverage: Dr. Pepper (once in a while); iced tea, iced coffee.

Something that gives you a pickle face: Broccoli, Brussel sprouts, the smell of eggs.

Something you’re really good at: Scrabble and Yahtzee.

Something you’re really bad at:
 Cooking when multiple dishes have to come out hot and ready at the same time – Cooking stresses me out.

Last best thing you ate: Chocolate Fudge Pie.

Last thing you regret eating: Greasy tacos.

Things you’d walk a mile for: Caffeine.
Things that make you want to run screaming from the room: Too much talk radio or TV; Golf on TV.

Things you always put in your books:Pets (usually dogs).
Things you never put in your books: People who hurt/endanger animals.

Things to say to an author: I liked your book, and I left you a review online.

Things to say to an author if you want to be fictionally killed off in their next book: Here’s my idea for a book. You should write it. I don’t have time.

Things that make you happy: A fully edited/finished manuscript, when my husband finishes his latest classic car project, and my two crazy Jack Russell Terriers
Things that drive you crazy: Telemarketers, paper cuts, people who leave their grocery carts in parking spots instead of returning them.


Heather Weidner’s short stories appear in the Virginia is for Mysteries series and 50 Shades of Cabernet. She is a member of Sisters in Crime – Central Virginia, Guppies, Lethal Ladies Write, and James River Writers. The Tulip Shirt Murders is her second novel in her Delanie Fitzgerald series.

Originally from Virginia Beach, Heather has been a mystery fan since Scooby Doo and Nancy Drew. She lives in Central Virginia with her husband and a pair of Jack Russell terriers.

Heather earned her BA in English from Virginia Wesleyan College and her MA in American literature from the University of Richmond. Through the years, she has been a technical writer, editor, college professor, software tester, and IT manager. She blogs regularly with the Pens, Paws, and Claws authors.

Connect with Heather:
Website  |  Blog  |  Facebook  |  Twitter Goodreads  |  Instagram  |  Pinterest  |  LinkedIn  |

Buy links:
Amazon  |  Barnes and Noble  |  Apple  |  Kobo 

Monday, January 8, 2018



Benjamin Ferrin Macon-Jones has it all: a luxurious lifestyle in Toronto and the love of an intelligent, ambitious woman…until that same woman refuses his marriage proposal, tells him he’s a detriment to her career, and leaves him. Unable to deal with his cantankerous family trying to be supportive, he quietly slips away into the Canadian countryside.

Lou Upjohn has problems of her own. She’s a recluse and agoraphobic, staying safely within the walls of her ancestral home in small town Saskatchewan and depending on Ike, her best and only friend, to deal with the outside world. Only Ike’s just married another woman and now he’s moving to Vancouver. Before he leaves, he hires the new guy in town, Ferrin Jones, to run her errands and do her yard work. Lou isn’t happy, but even she has to admit the stranger looks mildly interesting.

Both their lives could be changed forever if she only has the courage to open the door.

Book Details
Title: Along Came Jones

Author: Victoria Bernadine 

Publisher: Love of Words Publishing 

Pages: 324

Genre: Chick Lit/Contemporary Fiction

Touring with: Pump Up Your Book


A few of your favorite things:  Cats, books, summer, Cary Grant, David Tennant, Broadchurch, Star Wars.
Things you need to throw out:  My old dishes. YOU GOT NEW DISHES FOR A REASON!!

Things you need in order to write: Something that makes me say, “Hm.  I wonder what happens next…”
Things that hamper your writing: Working for a living.

Things you love about writing: The sheer bliss of the ideas taking shape on the page/screen when I’m writing the first draft.
Things you hate about writing: Editing aka smoothing out all the rough edges of that first draft that was so much fun to write.

Things you love about where you live: Low crime rate, high standard of living, free health care, and the Canadian attitude.
Things that make you want to move: An extraordinarily cold winter…or a mild winter…or a normal winter…winter.  Just winter.

Things you never want to run out of: Pens and paper.
Things you wish you’d never bought: Every gadget that just sits gathering dust.

Words that describe you: Funny and friendly.
Words that describe you but you wish they didn’t: Lazy, or, more politely, procrastinator.

Favorite foods: Garlic, perogies, steak, potato chips.
Things that make you want to throw up: Liver.  UGH.

Favorite music or song: Country music; favourite song at the moment is "Somewhere on a Beach" by Dierks Bentley.
Music that make your ears bleed: Nothing really makes my ears bleed, although I’m not overly fond of jazz or rap or screaming metal.

Favorite beverage: Coca-Cola Classic.
Something that gives you a pickle face: Pepsi…but any port in a storm and at least it’s a cola.

Something you like to do: Travel, especially to a tropical location in the dead of winter.
Something you wish you’d never done: I wish I’d never learned about contracting and procurement, which is my day job. I’m sure I could have found something more exciting to do…right??

Things you always put in your books: Witty banter. At least, I hope it’s witty banter.
Things you never put in your books: Graphic violence. I mean, I have novels with violent events in them, but nothing graphic.

Things to say to an author: “I love your book!" (I’m easy.)
Things to say to an author if you want to be fictionally killed off in their next book:  “You don’t know anything about Character A! They would never have done such a thing!”

People you’d like to invite to dinner: Robert Downey Jr. and David Tennant. I’ve seen/read their interviews; I’d just be sitting there with my mouth hanging open and wondering what the heck they’re talking about now.
People you’d cancel dinner on: Politicians. Any of them.

Favorite things to do: Writing and reading.
Things you’d run through a fire wearing gasoline pants to get out of doing: Cleaning house.

Things that make you happy: Warm weather, cats snuggling close and purring, writing, reading, movies.
Things that drive you crazy: People who ask for my advice, don’t follow it, then expect me to clean up the mess they would have avoided if they’d listened to me in the first place. Hm. I seem rather passionate about this one.

Best thing you’ve ever done: I quit my job and took a year off work.
Biggest mistake: Not doing it sooner, or more often.

Most daring thing you’ve ever done: Ziplining, given I have a fear of heights.
Something you chickened out from doing:  FINISHING the ziplining course, because there was a “jump into a hole” thing at some point and…no. Just no. I stopped half-way through and went for a beer instead.


“Marry me.”

Olivia laughs.

“What?” she teases with a fond, slightly mocking smile.  “Are you ‘proposing’ because you think it’s what people are supposed to do on New Year’s Eve?”

Ferrin smirks his lopsided, endearing smirk as he lowers himself to one knee and proffers the small, square velvet box he dug out of the pocket of his tuxedo.

The beautiful brunette laughs again.  “Oh, Ferrin, get up—you’re being ridiculous!  And the joke really isn’t all that funny.” 

Olivia glances at the crowd of beaming friends and family surrounding them and Ferrin watches as realization slowly dawns on her face.  Her gaze snaps back to his as realization morphs into horror, and Ferrin feels a corresponding sick, sinking feeling grow in his stomach as her expression changes.  His own smile slips away and his face freezes into an expressionless mask.  Their spectators’ hissed in-drawn breaths and sudden, uncomfortable silence barely register given his complete and utter focus on Olivia.

He knows what she’s going to say before she says it, but like any impending disaster, he can’t seem to look away.

“Oh, my God,” she whispers.  “Oh, shit!”  She bites her lip, then says in a rush, “I love you, Ferrin, I really, truly do...but I can’t marry you.”  Her voice breaks; her eyes fill with tears.

The silence that follows seems to grow and envelop them in a stifling cocoon built from his humiliation and suddenly terrified heart.  Ferrin hears, as if through cotton wool, subdued voices and the shuffling of feet as their family and friends gather their things and leave the apartment.  In some distant corner of his mind, he’s mildly surprised they're all leaving so quietly...or maybe he just can’t hear them across the yawning divide that’s opened between him and Olivia.

As the door closes, she whispers, “Get up.  Your knee must hurt.”

Does it?  He can’t tell over the crushing pressure in his chest, his stomach, his head, but he struggles to his feet anyway, like she asks, because she asks, aching and sore and suddenly ancient.  He straightens and becomes, as always, self-consciously aware of how big he is in comparison to her, and how his bulk looming over her always makes her edgy.  He automatically slouches his shoulders, trying to minimize his size, trying to make her comfortable.

“Say something,” she begs, and her voice breaks.

His voice is cracked, hollow, distant, as he says, “Is this it?”

‘It’, he thinks with despair.  Such a tiny word with such a huge meaning.

She hesitates, then nods, not quite looking at him.

“This can’t come as that much of a surprise.  Not if you’re honest with yourself.”

Ferrin can’t seem to make his brain work.  He shakes his head, trying to force something—anything—loose so his world—his life—will start to make sense again.

“I—I—no.  Yes.  Why?” he asks, and winces at just how lost he sounds.

Olivia sighs and says, very gently, “I want other things in life than you do, Ferrin.  My career means everything to me and I want to make it to the top of Macon-Jones Enterprises, or as high as I can get without being a blood relative.”

Finally, finally, anger flares inside him.

“And I’m holding you back?  In my own family’s company?”

Olivia hesitates.

Ferrin’s eyes widen.  “You really believe it,” he breathes.  “When have I ever stood in your way, Olivia?”

This time her sigh is long-suffering.  “You’ve never stood in my way, no, but you’ve never actively helped me, either.”

“I didn’t think you wanted me to!  If I recall correctly, you told me so in no uncertain terms when we moved in together.  That’s only a couple of years ago!  What’s changed?”

“I didn’t want you using any undue influence with Abram to get me promotions I didn’t deserve,” Olivia snaps, her own anger flaring.  “That didn’t mean I didn’t want you to help me at all!”

Ferrin snorts.  “Nobody has undue influence with Abram.  You should know that by now!”

“Abram isn’t the point!  The point is that I could have used your support when some of my projects came up for a vote before the Board.  Instead, you, as always, stayed out of it and gave your vote to the first cousin who asked for it, without any regard to how the decision would impact my career or my projects!  Half the time, you didn’t even bother asking me how I wanted you to vote!”

“I never ask anyone about the projects or how they want to use my vote!  The cousins know how I play the game and it works well for all of us.  Why do you think I’m the only one any of them will talk to without a witness present?”

Olivia throws her hands up in the air as she whirls and paces away.  “There!  That’s exactly the problem!”

He takes a step back, blinking.  “What?  The fact that I’m friendly with all my cousins?  That’s a problem?”

“No!”  She brushes a hand over her face in exasperation.  She turns to him, and now he recognizes that look on her face.  It’s the one she has when she’s getting ready to lecture him on what, exactly, he’s done wrong, and what he needs to do to avoid making the same mistake again.

She says, “It’s not the fact the cousins all like you that’s the problem; it’s the reason they all like you!  You’re such a goddamn fixer, itching to solve everyone’s problems that you’ve become a complete pushover!  I don’t want to hurt you, Ferrin, but, let’s face it:  you’re a sucker.  You’re gullible.  And I hate to say this, but you’re also a bit of a wimp.  You’ll do whatever anybody tells you to do, and that’s proven in spades by your so-called ‘business investments’!  All anybody needs in order to get money out of you is a sob story and a half-assed idea!”

His mouth sags open as he rocks beneath her barrage, every word slamming into his heart and his gut and his mind.

“What the hell?” he chokes.

Olivia deflates, pity in her eyes.

“Look,” she says, and now her voice is calm and firmly matter-of-fact, the way Ferrin has so often heard her speak whenever he’s forced to attend a board meeting with her, “I’m going to be CEO someday of a multi-billion-dollar multinational company.  Your family’s multi-billion-dollar multinational company.  It’s ruthless and cutthroat, and a spouse’s strengths and talents are just as important to an executive’s rise as the executive’s own skills and talents, especially in Macon-Jones Enterprises.  You know how outright Machiavellian your family can be, and that’s when they’re arranging Christmas!  If you think they’re ruthless in their personal lives, they’re ten times worse in the boardroom, trust me!”

“Yes, I know,” Ferrin says drily, and is almost glad he’s starting to feel something—anything—now.  “I have met my cousins and I’ve even been to a board meeting a time or two.  Abram seems to have done all right without a spouse to support him.”

She snorts.  “He’s Chair and he was handed the job by your great-grandfather!  He’s never had to prove anything to anybody!”

His laugh is harsh and barking.  “Now you’re the one who’s forgotten what my cousins are like!” He waves his words away.  “Doesn’t matter.  You knew when we met that I do everything I can to avoid anything to do with the company.”

“You’re not supposed to avoid it by giving your vote to whichever cousin gets to you first!  Besides, you’re your father’s only surviving child, the last of your particular branch of the family!  You out of all your cousins shouldn’t avoid the company at all!”

Ferrin flinches.

She grimaces.  “I’m sorry; that was low...but you know I’m right.  You could wield enormous influence and power in the company, and not only with the family when they want something, if you’d just take an interest!  If you would listen to me, let me guide you, advise you so you don’t believe everything you’re told, and let me stop Carson, Dyson and Jack from constantly distracting you, you could be the next Chair of the Board instead of Jack!”

“So I’m not only gullible and a wimp, I’m also so stupid I can only trust you to advise me?” he says, incredulous.

“Of course not!  But you’re wasting your potential—and your birthright!  Your father was Abram’s second-in-command, for God’s sake!  All you have to do is step up and follow in his footsteps!”  She runs a hand through her hair and groans.  “Face it, Ferrin, I’m never going to be CEO if I remain allied with you, not unless you change your approach to the business.”

Ferrin rears back and stares.

“‘Allied’?” he says slowly.  “Is that what the last five years have been about, Olivia?  An alliance?”
“No!  Of course not!  I love you.  I do!  You’re a wonderful man, Ferrin.  But you’re...” She spreads her hands and shrugs helplessly.

“Weak,” he says flatly, “and obviously a little stupid.  Have I got it right?”

“Ferrin…”  She takes a step towards him, but he quickly retreats.  She stops and stares at him, her large, brown eyes brimming with tears.  For once, he’s unmoved.

“I’m sorry I’ve been such a disappointment to your professional ambitions,” he grates out, a bitter twist to his lips.  He turns and heads for the exit.

“Where are you going?”

“I have no idea,” he says, and slams the door behind him.


Victoria Bernadine (a pseudonym) is, as the saying goes, a "woman of a certain age." After twenty-something years of writer's block, she began writing again in 2008.

Victoria enjoys reading all genres and particularly loves writing romantic comedy and post-apocalyptic science fiction. What those two have in common is anybody's guess.

She lives in Edmonton with her two cats (The Grunt and The Runt). Along Came Jones is the second novel she felt was good enough to be released into the wild.

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