Monday, May 21, 2018



The big day has finally arrived, and Imogen, Iggy and the bakers head to the Fire Kingdom for Hank and Shaday’s wedding. Imogen is totally fine with it—or so she keeps telling herself.

Even the murder of a famous wedding guest can’t stop the impending nuptials. So when Imogen’s repressed feelings magically ruin her baking and she’s banned from the kitchen, she sets herself to finding the killer.

Her search leads her through the desert kingdom’s bustling marketplaces and the maze-like raid, to discover underground movements, shady characters, and more secrets about the people around her than she thought possible. Could the killer be the clever journalist or the rebellious palace maid? Perhaps it’s a member of the royal family.

With the Fire Kingdom’s people churning for change, a mysterious artifact missing from the museum, and a dastardly plot brewing, Imogen begins to feel the heat. When Horace contacts her and makes her a tempting offer, she struggles to choose between him and her new friends.

Imogen’s choice will have enormous consequences over a deadly plot that threatens the people she loves. Will she stop a killer and find a happy ending in the process? Or will an ancient legend come to life and destroy them all?


Title: Full Moons, Dunes & Macaroons

Genre: Cozy Mystery

Series: A Cozy Witch Spells & Caramels Mystery, book #5

Publisher: Self Published

Print Length: 248 pages


Horace is the leader of the Badlands Army and an antagonist who creates lots of issues for Imogen and her friends. With a troubled past and lots of secrets, he tiptoes the line between good and evil.


What do you like to do when Erin isn't writing about you?
Wouldn’t you like to know? I go wherever I want to, undetected through the kingdoms with my powers of disguise. I spend a good amount of time in the mysterious Badlands, home of the Badlands Army, though I have no home myself.

If you had a free day with no responsibilities and your only mission was to enjoy yourself, what would you do?
I don’t rest. And I won’t rest until the whole truth is brought to life. Getting revenge for my parents’ deaths and what happened to me is my life’s mission, and it consumes my every waking moment. I don’t have time for vacations.

Tell the truth. What do you think of your fellow characters?
I think Imogen needs to wise up to how mediocre her friends are. They’re part of the system I’m trying to take down. I think Imogen has potential—I’m trying to show her the truth, so that she’ll join me of her own free will.

What impression do you make on people when they first meet you?
People seem to find me either quite attractive or quite off-putting. There doesn’t seem to be a middle ground. I’d like to think that people come to respect me, though I can’t think of a single person who I’d say truly knows me.

What's the worst thing that's happened in your life?
After I lost my entire family as a boy, I was forced to be a child soldier in a roaming gang. I learned to trust no one and to be strong.

Tell us about your best friend.

I have no friends, only followers.

What are you most afraid of?
Failing to get my revenge on the man who owes me everything.

What’s Erin’s worst habit?

She wastes an inordinate amount of time on her furry companions. She provides her dogs food, housing, attention…and in return for what? Hair? Drool? They’re not even magical dogs.

How do you feel about your life right now?

I feel that I can almost taste my revenge. I’m pleased…except, I wish Imogen could understand me better.

If your story were a movie, who would play you?
Cillian Murphy.

Will you encourage Erin to write another book in the Cozy Witch Spells & Caramels mystery series?
Absolutely. I have more work to do.


Erin Johnson is a native of Tempe, Arizona, Erin spends her time crafting mysterious, magical, romance-filled stories that’ll hopefully make you laugh. In between, she’s traveling, napping with her dogs, eating with her friends and family, and teaching Pilates (to allow her to eat more).

Connect with Erin:
Website  |  Facebook  |  Twitter

Buy the book:


Saturday, May 19, 2018



Former pharmaceutical researcher Maggie O’Malley is losing sleep. Constantine’s aunt is a multitasking sleepwalker who, in addition to wandering her stately home, prepares meals, folds laundry and, one winter night, stumbles across her husband with his throat slit. 

It’s a rude and gruesome awakening that’s upsetting to Aunt Polly. And interesting to the police. 

Maggie and Constantine work to uncover who killed the cosmetic surgery mogul and why. As they dig into the lives of those who knew him best, they discover that the truth is only skin deep and doctoring perception is a treatment with deadly side effects. 

A gripping page-turner with more twists than a surgeon’s suture, 39 Winks is a tale of lies, betrayals and greed that will keep you up at night. And looking over your shoulder.


Title: 39 Winks

Author: Kathleen Valenti

Genre: Medical Mystery/Thriller

Series: Maggie O'Malley Mystery, book #2

Publisher: Henery Press (May 22, 2018)

Print Length: 298 Pages
On tour with: Great Escapes Book Tours


Things you need in order to write:
To write, I need a steady supply of coffee and licorice, not necessarily in that order. Peace and quiet also help, but those are in short supply when my children are around.
Things that hamper your writing:

For me, distractions are public enemy number one. Whether it’s Facebook, losing myself in another author’s book or going down the rabbit hole of research, distractions seem to lurk around every corner. They’re like Styrofoam. No matter how hard you try to get rid of them, they’re always there. 

Things you love about writing:
Creating the kinds of stories I love to read.
Things you hate about writing:
Deadlines! Like vegetables, they are a necessary evil.

Things you love about where you live:
I live in one of the most beautiful, amazing places on earth. (Of course, I could be a little biased.) It’s in a rain shadow at the foot of sleeping volcanoes and has so many recreational opportunities that it’s become one of the West’s favorite places to play.
Things that make you want to move:
All of these wonderful attributes have created growing pains for our area. Whether it’s burgeoning traffic or shrinking housing options, these changes can impact quality of life. Even paradise isn’t perfect.

Favorite foods:
Do wine and coffee count as foods? What if I freeze them? Seriously, though, other than my favorite diuretic beverages, I’m a big fan of pizza, chips, and the kind of candy kids tend to favor. (Think FunDip, Laffy Taffy, etc.). Other than my beverage choices, I have the palate of a seven year-old.
Things that make you want to throw up: 
I refuse beets, lima beans, and Brussels sprouts. Yes, yes, you probably have a special way to prepare them that I’ll just love. I’ll have to take your word for it.

Favorite music or song:
I’m a huge Led Zeppelin fan. In fact, before I was an author many of my social media handles were Led Zeppelin homages, making them now very embarrassing.
Music that make your ears bleed:
I’m not wild about country music. No disrespect to the genre. Just not my thing. Or thang, maybe.

Favorite smell:
I love the smell of lavender.
Something that makes you hold your nose:
Looking at roses: delightful. Smelling them? Not so much—at least for me. I find them to be too sweet and cloying.

Something you’re really good at:
Besides writing? (Shameless plug.) I’m a darn good flutist (although a bit rusty) and armchair psychologist. I can also hold my breath for a really long time.
Something you’re really bad at:
Parallel parking. Seriously. I have literally driven away in shame in order to find an alternative to my embarrassing 14-point parking maneuvers. 

Something you wish you could do:
I wish I could play the guitar.
Something you wish you’d never learned to do:
I wish I hadn’t learned to proofread. I automatically correct the grammar on reader boards, menus and pamphlets.

Things you’d walk a mile for:
I’d walk many a mile for a great book.
Things that make you want to run screaming from the room:
Conflict sends me running for the door.

Things you always put in your books:
My books always have humor. Sometimes it’s witty repartee. Sometimes it’s the gallows variety. 

Things you never put in your books:

I don’t really have sexy-time stuff in my books.

Things to say to an author:

“I love your books!” Or “How cool that you write!”

Things to say to an author if you want to be fictionally killed off in their next book:

“You wrote a book? What a cute hobby!”

Favorite things to do:

I love to hang out with my family and friends, read and do Jazzercise. (Not even kidding.)

Things you’d run through a fire wearing gasoline pants to get out of doing:

I find public speaking very painful, which is inconvenient since I now do a lot of author events. Fortunately, people are awesome and make me feel right at home. Which means I leave the gasoline pants at home.

Most embarrassing moment:

How to choose? I have so many. A memorable one involves sheerer-than-I-realized exercise leggings, white granny panties and being asked to demonstrate downward dog for a yoga class. I’m still mentally scarred. 

Proudest moment:

Having my debut novel, Protocol, nominated for an Agatha and a Lefty was probably my proudest moment.

Best thing you’ve ever done:

Having children is by far the best thing I’ve ever done.
Biggest mistake:

This isn’t the biggest mistake, but a memorable one featured a lunchtime makeover in which the artist “played up” my features by overdrawing them, after which I had to go to a client meeting.

Most daring thing you’ve ever done:
I’ve done some shipwreck scuba dives, which I found pretty daring.

Something you chickened out from doing:

I never finished working toward my pilot’s license.


Kathleen Valenti is the author of the Maggie O’Malley mystery series. The series’ first book, Agatha- and Lefty-nominated Protocol, introduces us to Maggie, a pharmaceutical researcher with a new job, a used phone, and a deadly problem. The series’ second book, 39 Winks, releases May 22. When Kathleen isn’t writing page-turning mysteries that combine humor and suspense, she works as a nationally award-winning advertising copywriter. She lives in Oregon with her family where she pretends to enjoy running.

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

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

Other books by Kathleen Valenti:


Thursday, May 17, 2018



"We could go to Elbe River." Kohler didn't have to say the rest. After a baleful stare, the captain did it for him. "You want to surrender to the Americans." Kohler gulped. In 1945, World War II is ending but not in favor of Germany. Hans Kohler is a young Mormon German who knows more about farming than being a soldier. A worn copy of the Book of Mormon is the only thing that brings him comfort. Captain Christoph Meier seems to be the perfect German soldier. His pristine Aryan features and strong family ties to the Nazi Party should have placed him at a far better post than this unit. Instead, he's leading broken veterans and inexperienced greenies. When the Russians attack their unit, it leaves Meier and Kohler trapped behind enemy lines. To get past snipers, the Nazi SS, and the Russian Army, they need to use all of their skills, including believing that God wants them to survive.


Title: The Road to Freedom

Author: Shawn Pollock

Genre: Historical/LDS fiction

Publisher: Cedar Fort (December 12, 2017)

Page count: 224


Shawn, where did you grow up?

I grew up in Cache Valley, in northern Utah.

What do you love about where you live now?

We have our pick of schools and music teachers for our kids, and tons of options for shopping (malls, Walmart, Target, Costco, Winco, Smith's, Rancho Market, Trader Joe's, Sprouts, lots of ethnic markets), hospitals, and pretty much anything we need within a few minutes of us.

Have you been in any natural disasters?

I don't think they qualify as disasters, but I've been in a lot of earthquakes.

If you had an extra $100 a week to spend on yourself, what would you buy?

I'd keep myself stocked in soda and download lots of songs from iTunes. Either that or save up for a trip to Japan.

What is the most daring thing you've done?
I went to Japan for a year to teach English. It's not too wild or risky but that's not really my nature anyway.

What is the stupidest thing you've ever done?
I shaved a week's worth of whiskers with nothing but cold water before a date (long story, but that was all I had available at the time). She was not the one, though, so it was all for nothing in the end.

What’s one thing that you wish you knew as a teenager that you know now?
That if you look and act pleasant, you can create a positive association between your presence and good feelings in people. I was more about being true to my sullen teenaged self, which did me no favors.

What’s one thing you wish your younger writer self knew?
The first draft doesn't have to be perfect, or even good. Just get words on page.

What makes you bored?
Going to lunch with coworkers and listening to them talk shop.

What is your most embarrassing moment?
When I worked as a bag boy in a grocery store, I drank a lot of soda one day on a break. Then I approached a customer, opened my mouth to ask, "Paper or plastic?" but all that came out was a massive burp. I was so mortified, I couldn't do anything except walk away laughing.

What choices in life would you like to have a redo on (other than drinking all that soda on a break)?
I'd like to go back to my college days and just relax and enjoy them. I was always so stressed about the dating game and putting my best foot forward socially that it felt more like work than fun.

Do you have another job outside of writing?
I also work as an instructional designer for a software company.

What are your most cherished mementoes?
All the pictures and crafts from my kids.

If you could live anywhere in the world, where in the world would it be?
I'd like to return to Cache Valley. I would also like to live by the ocean in various places as disparate as Puerto Vallarta or Maine.

How did you create the plot for this book?
My dad came up with the initial scenario. He had mapped it out to a certain point and had me take it over. There were certain plot points I wanted to hit, and I knew how I wanted it to end early on but "pantsed" everything in between. I think that's my favorite part of writing: working your way toward a destination without knowing the way, and constantly surprising yourself with what develops as you go.

Are any of your characters inspired by real people?
The character of Hans Kohler is loosely based on my grandfather. He wasn't German, but he was a big guy who grew up ranching and working outdoors, and who never had enough to eat during his time in the war.

Is your book based on real events?
It’s a historical novel, so while the main characters don’t participate in any real events, some of their experiences were inspired by real events. I also make reference to several real events in the course of the narrative.

Who are your favorite authors?
Steve Hockensmith is my favorite author. He writes really enjoyable mysteries that don't get into smut or excessive cursing.

What book are you currently reading and in what format?
I’m currently reading Fearless Jones by Walter Mosely, in hardcover.

Do you have a routine for writing?
I try to write between 9:30 and 10:30 every night. It's not my preferred time to write, since by then my brain's batteries are getting low, but the alternative is to get up at 6 AM and I'm not much of a morning person.

Where and when do you prefer to do your writing?
I write at the kitchen table because it’s the easiest place to set up the computer I prefer to use. I like to write after the kids go to bed (which is getting later and later).

What’s the best compliment you’ve ever received about your writing?
One of my English professors stopped me at the door as I was leaving class and asked me how I learned to write so well. There have been others but that was a pretty good one.

What’s the worst thing someone has said about your writing? How did you deal with it?
I've had the word "cliche" pointed at me a couple of times, which wasn't fun, but I couldn't exactly argue with it. I also turned in a chapter of my WIP to my critique group that had a lot of last minute changes that weren't very good and they let me know. These things are there for us to learn from, though, and to keep us grounded. I just tried harder next time around, and things worked out.

Why did you decide to publish with Cedar Fort?
Back in the early 2000's, I attended a League of Utah Writers meeting as a one-off thing, and a rep from Cedar Fort was there. She said they liked new authors, and I kept that in mind.

A few years later, I wrote a novel and sent it to various publishers. Most sent back the standard rejection, but Cedar Fort's letter included some personal feedback that I used when I wrote The Road to Freedom. That made them my first choice when I was ready to submit that novel. I've been happy working with them and feel like things have gone well.

What are you working on now?
I'm working on a novel with the working title Rise Up, My Love. It is a crime story with some elements of romance as well.


Shawn Pollock grew up in Cache Valley, Utah, served a mission in Japan, and graduated from Utah State University with degrees in Professional Writing and Instructional Technology. He works as an instructional designer in the software industry. His short story, "Hats," won first place in The New Era magazine's fiction contest. Any time not devoted to work and family goes to cooking, reading about history, and participating in the League of Utah Writers. The Road to Freedom is his first novel.

Connect with Shawn:

Blog  |  Facebook  |  Goodreads

Buy the book:

Amazon  |  Barnes & Noble

Sunday, May 13, 2018



He’d promised Sheriff Payne that he wouldn’t take any more matters into his own hands. So, when on a leisurely morning drive, SEAL-trained Thomas O’Shea sees two girls attacking a boy on a sidewalk, he opts not to intervene. When the boy is later murdered in the local hospital though, all promises are off. What seems at the start to be a simple case of gang activity turns out to be far more. Even O’Shea, who has seen more than his share of evil, could not have guessed what is about to transpire . . .

 “Move over, Jack Reacher!” -William Kent Kreuger


Title: The Face on the Other Side

Author: John Carenen

Genre: Mystery/Suspense/Thriller

Series: Thomas O’Shea Mysteries, book #3

Print length: 340 pages

On tour with: Great Escapes Book Tours


Thomas O’Shea, SEAL-trained private citizen, loses his wife and two teenage daughters, killed by a drunk driver. He moves from Georgia back home to Iowa to seek healing, in private. But he keeps bumping into questionable situations, begins asking questions, and uncovers bad things. And then people try to stop him, without success. He falls in love with Liv Olson, high school English teacher. He befriends an array of quirky characters in the small, northeastern Iowa village of Rockbluff.


Thomas, how did you first meet John? 
We met in a bar in Iowa City. He was buying.

Want to dish about him?

Sure, he’s as big softy who likes being my friend and hearing about my adventures.

Tell us about your favorite scene in the book.
That would be when I punch a psychopathic in the mouth.

I love it when that happens. If you could rewrite anything in your book, what would it be?
I’d punch the psychopath more than once.

Tell the truth. What do you think of your fellow characters? 
I love ‘em all but won’t tell them. That would be too emotional.

Do you have any secret aspirations that John doesn’t know about?  

I’d like to grow prize-winning roses, but don’t tell him that. He’ll think I’ve gone soft.

What’s the worst thing that’s happened in your life?  

Drunk driver killing my wife and two girls.

What’s the best trait your author has given you? 

A code about honor and making things right.

What do you like best about Lunatic Mooning?
I like best that he has my back.


I like least that he won’t tell me about his wife, wives, and/or girlfriends. Very private in that area. He’s an Ojibwe Indian, so what else can you expect? Very stoic.

What’s John’s worst habit?
He doesn’t write enough about me.

How do you feel about your life right now?
I’d say I’m at peace and hope that bad things go away in my adopted home town of Rockbluff, Iowa. At this point, I wouldn’t change anything. I trust God.

If your story were a movie, who would play you? 
Woody Allen. No! Seriously, I’d have xxxxxxx play me.

Describe the town where you live.
Rockbluff, Iowa is more of a village than anything else. Just a few thousand people in a picturesque place where a lovely river runs through it. Beautiful bluffs and beautiful people, except for the occasional bad ones.

What makes you stand out from any other characters in your genre?
I’d say my twisted, some say dark, sense of humor.

Will you encourage John to write a sequel?
I ordered him to, and he’s well on his way.


John Carenen, a native of Clinton, Iowa, graduated with an M.F.A. in Fiction Writing from the prestigious University of Iowa Writers Workshop and has been writing ever since. His work has appeared numerous times in Reader’s Digest (including a First Person Award), McCall’s, Dynamic Years, and other periodicals. He has been a featured columnist in newspapers in Morganton, North Carolina and Clinton, South Carolina. His fiction has appeared in regional literary magazines. A novel, Son-up, Son-down, was published by the National Institute of Mental Health. He is happily married to (long-suffering) Elisabeth, and they have two grown daughters, Caitlin and Rowe. When he isn’t writing, he thinks about getting in shape, cheers for the Iowa Hawkeyes and Boston Red Sox, and takes frequent naps. He has traveled extensively, having visited 43 states and 23 countries. He is a USAF veteran, having served in the Philippines and Massachusetts. A retired an English professor at Newberry College in Newberry, South Carolina, he is hard at work on another novel.

Connect with John:

Website  |  Blog  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Goodreads 

Buy the book:

Friday, May 11, 2018



Keller Baye and Rebecca Brown live on different sides of the Atlantic. Until she falls in love with him, Rebecca knows nothing of Keller. But he’s known about her for a very long time, and now he wants to destroy her.

This is the story of two families. One living under the threat of execution in North Carolina. The other caught up in a dark mystery in the Scottish Highlands. The families’ paths are destined to cross. But why? And can anything save them when that happens?


Title: Hiding

Author: Jenny Morton Potts
Genre: Psychological thriller

Publisher: Cahoots Publishing (February 1, 2018)
Print length: 325 pages

On tour with: Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours


Jenny, what’s the story behind the title of your book?
This is a book all about Hiding. Almost all of the characters are hiding from something. For some of them, their lives depend on it.

Where’s home for you?
Thaxted in Essex, England. It’s a little chocolate box town, and I’ve never lived anywhere I like as much as Thaxted.

Where did you grow up?
In the suburbs of Glasgow. Not terribly exciting, but in a lovely house with woods at the back for climbing trees and making dens. And a garden where I played with my older brother and sister late into the summer evenings.

What’s your favorite memory?
It’s the excitement of Christmas morning.

If you had an extra $100 a week to spend on yourself, what would you buy?
Books and bookshelves.

What’s the dumbest purchase you’ve ever made?
A massage machine which would have been better described as a torture chamber.

What’s the most valuable thing you’ve learned?
To solve problems (in a timely fashion).

Who would you pick to write your biography?
My partner.

What do you love about where you live?

The people, the cute pubs, the countryside around and the absurdly pretty architecture.

Have you been in any natural disasters?
Only childbirth.

What is the stupidest thing you've ever done?
Leaving my partner for six months.

What’s one thing you wish your younger writer self knew?
Editors are almost always right.

What makes you bored?
Nothing these days. I was almost always bored at school and have a horror (I mean, panic attack level) of being in a situation that might be boring for a long period. So I avoid that, of course. 

What is your most embarrassing moment?

Falling over at an interview.

What choices in life would you like to have a redo on?
Many things. I feel I have only been able to make really good decisions since turning 40.

What makes you nervous?
Public speaking

What makes you happy?


What makes you scared?
Right wing politics.

What makes you excited?
Projects: I love renovating stuff.

Do you have another job outside of writing?


Who are you?
A writer, first and foremost. That’s my identity. It comes before roles like wife, mother etc.

How did you meet your spouse? Was it love at first sight?
At work, for a wine merchant. No, not love at first sight though fairly quickly; but intrigue first.

What are your most cherished mementoes?
Paintings and sculptures of my son. Photos of my family. Silly things we bought in interesting places during happy times.

If you could only save one thing from your house, what would it be?
My son Flint’s pomegranate painting.

What brings you sheer delight?
Hearing a very funny line.

Would you rather be a lonely genius or a sociable idiot?
Lonely genius.

What’s one of your favorite quotes?
Victoria Wood is my most quoted writer. This is from a sketch where Julie Walters is a Brummie talking about what her mother likes best about living in Spain. (I am able to quote this a lot, since my mother lives in Spain.) “Well, she likes the majesty and grandeur of the landscape. But she’s not too keen on the bacon.”

If you could live anywhere in the world, where in the world would it be?
We are thinking of going to Corsica. It has to be Europe, in permanence, but I look forward to traveling more when my son is out of education.

What would you like people to say about you after you die?
She was fun.

Are any of your characters inspired by real people?
Many of the things Rebecca Brown does are tales of my own childhood. Ralph’s pursuits are true to my own Grampsie’s and many of the pleasures they share together are real too.

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?
Ideally, I’d be pushed off a Scottish cliff.

With what five real people would you most like to be stuck in a bookstore?
Joanna Lumley, Sara Pascoe, Bradley Walsh, Mary Dorcey, Jo Brand.

What book are you currently reading and in what format?
I am reading Once Upon a Rock by Sergiu Pobereznic on my laptop.

Do you have a routine for writing?
No, I just do it 9 to 5 or 6. No breaks and no days off during a novel.

Where and when do you prefer to do your writing?
Anywhere but I mostly do it in a cabin in the garden.

What’s the best compliment you’ve ever received about your writing?
I’ve been lucky enough to get lots of compliments. One recently which took my breath away was a review from another author which said as she read Hiding she knew that she would never be able to write as well as that. That’s an incredibly generous and poignant remark.

What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever had to write?
It’s hard to write about harrowing experiences when you have been through that yourself. I hesitate here, to say which.

Where is your favorite library, and what do you love about it?
I fantasize about becoming a member of the British Library in London and bumping into Jeannette Winterson there. But so far, I haven’t been.

You can be any fictional character for one day. Who would you be?
I think I would be Marin Strang and spend the day in bed with Lawrence Fyre from Piano from a 4th Storey Window.

What’s the worst thing someone has said about your writing? How did you deal with it?
I had someone say a book was ‘boring.’ I worried about it in that I thought it would stop people considering the book when browsing online. You just have to accept that your material can’t connect with everyone. You must just try to find a fit with your audience.

What would your dream office look like?
It would just be as it is, but with an en suite swimming pool.

Why did you decide to self-publish? Are you happy with your decision?
I just wanted freedom. Yes, I have the freedom I wanted. The downside is the amount of time I have to spend promoting rather than writing. But I quite enjoy aspects of it, such as this. You get asked such interesting questions. And they make you really think!

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 everything except formatting and cover design.

What are you working on now?
I’m completing a new thriller set in the Mediterranean and Cambridge. It’s called Just.


Chapter 2

Death Row
June 2021

There was a walk now. They passed doors, like random choices. They all looked the same, all the colour of pale nicotine. But some of those doors were in the business of living and some were not. As you walked past them, you could feel hope slipping away. Which door? Which one? It was like a game the devil might play as you entered hell. Eventually the passengers reached the end of their journey and were shown into another room which was similar in size to the last but with what looked like a window on one side. The window was dark for the moment, with a black blind pulled down and opposite, there was a gallery with seating. The seating was slightly raked, like a theatre. They were here for a performance.
‘That’s 11.30 gone now,’ someone said from the far end.
‘Show must go on.’ Keller mumbled.
There was a crackle and then an audio test from the speaker in the corner. Keller imagined that President Descher had arranged a televised viewing and that all over the State the people could see and hear this: factory workers, grandmothers, schoolchildren, stopping what they’re doing and watching. From the audio speaker, Keller recognised words from the phonetic alphabet, then the date, today, June 23rd 2021, the location, the prisoner’s name and number HCI 72259-931 and the time scheduled for execution.
Keller knew that the duration for the poison to act was ten minutes maximum and that the ratio to be injected was set against the inmate’s weight and height.
Somewhere behind him, Keller could hear mumbling about the victims’ families and an officer explained that they were seated separately, in another viewing room. He imagined that the families’ room was crowded, since eight victims had lost their lives that day.
At 11.45 am, the time was announced once more on the speaker and the blind was pulled up manually, revealing the execution chamber. Keller had forgotten who was seated directly next to him now, but whoever it was flinched.
The prisoner was already strapped onto the gurney. There was a sheet over his body but you could see where the constraint buckles jutted up into the clean white cotton. His left arm was exposed however and the intravenous tube was already in. He was clean shaven. Keller had never seen him without a beard. He could almost pretend he did not know him.
Three Harfield guards came into the chamber now. They did not look at the window, which to them was a mirror. Who would want to see themselves doing what they were about to do, even if it was their duty. The three guards were each handed a syringe. The content of one of the syringes was deadly and the other two contained a harmless fluid. The guards would never know who among them administered the lethal injection.
The condemned man’s chest began to rise and fall. He blinked rapidly and his Adam’s apple bulged in his throat, as he struggled to find an impossible place between dignity and the screaming of his nerves to stay alive.
Keller murmured, ‘There is nothing to do now but die.’
A man in the chamber who had been out of their view, moved into sight. He was dressed in a plain dark suit. He identified himself as Warden James and held up a chart. His hand was steady enough, his white knuckles though suggested a very tight grip on that chart.
Keller stared down at the inmate who seemed to be staring back, though Keller knew that the glass was one way and that all the condemned could see was a reflection of his own final scene. All the same, their eyes met.
Warden James turned to the prisoner. ‘Is there anything you would like to say or read before we administer this lethal injection?’
Keller frowned down at the neighboring lap. It was the redhead next to him, the PhD student, twisting that engagement ring. The girl who more than likely had it all, the girl who could not cope without her cell, was barely coping at all. Keller could feel her trembling against the length of his torso and the anger in his veins burned. The young woman held her hand up to her mouth and whispered into it, ‘God, dear God.’
The Warden lowered his eyes to Prisoner HCI 72259-931 on the gurney and blinked several times. He said to the inmate, ‘Go ahead, what do you want to say.’
‘I would like to ask a question.’
‘What is your question?’
‘I would like to ask a question and have it answered.’
Warden James looked around the room at the other officials.
‘Go ahead and ask your question.’
‘Not until you tell me that I will have an answer.’
Keller smiled and nudged the redhead. ‘You see? Make the most of every goddamned moment.’
The young woman was on the edge of her seat and on the edge of tears.
In the chamber, the suits and uniforms huddled and muttered amongst themselves and the Warden came free of the pack once more.
‘We shall try to answer your question. And cannot commit beyond that. I ask you therefore again, is there anything you would like to say?’
The inmate tried to lift his head but the strap across his brow was held tight. He cleared his throat and said in that thick Carolina accent that Keller thought he’d forgotten but which now reignited in his memory and ripped through his heart.
‘I want to know if my son can see me.’


Excerpt from Hiding by Jenny Morton Potts.  Copyright © 2018 by Jenny Morton Potts. Reproduced with permission from Jenny Morton Potts. All rights reserved.


Jenny is a novelist, screenplay writer and playwright. After a series of 'proper jobs,' she realised she was living someone else's life and escaped to Gascony to make gîtes. Knee deep in cement and pregnant, Jenny was happy. Then autism and a distracted spine surgeon wiped out the order. Returned to wonderful England, to write her socks off.

Jenny would like to see the Northern Lights but worries that’s the best bit and should be saved till last. Very happily, and gratefully, settled with family.

She tries not to take herself too seriously.

Connect with Jenny:
Website  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Goodreads

Buy the book:
Amazon US  |  Amazon UK

Monday, May 7, 2018



US Marshal James Creed has known loss, starting from the untimely death of his wife and daughter in a sudden fire. His work, chasing down and arresting outlaws across the Wild West, is all he has left to live for. Then one day, in 1876, the infamous killer Corwin Blake catches Creed by surprise and guns him down.

Creed awakes after a mysterious young woman resurrects him in a basement laboratory beneath a brothel. Half alive, Creed feels torn between his need for justice and his desire to fall back into the peace of death. Creed's instincts drive him to protect the city of Santa Cruz, California, from the outlaws it harbors while searching for Blake.

He uncovers a secret criminal organization, likely protecting Blake, determined to use resurrection technology for its own ends. The former marshal, now faster, stronger, and a more deadly shot than ever before, must work with a brothel madam, a bounty hunter, and the remaining marshals to uncover the criminal syndicate before they can misuse the machines of rebirth and create more mindless zombies. Meanwhile, he must also stop Blake, before the outlaw kills the only people he cares about.

His own death can wait.


Like its predecessor, Bodacious Creed and the Frisco Syndicate will be full of steampunk technology, gunfights, mystery, and well-rounded characters. These include the hero, the resurrected U.S. Marshal, James Creed, and the brothel madam and inventor, Anna Lynn Boyd. It will also include a full cast of supporting characters.

While the first novel took place in an alternate version of my home town of Santa Cruz, California, in 1876, the second will happen mostly in San Francisco.

What was San Francisco like at the time? Wild, rowdy, and dangerous. The author has done extensive research on the city and its most notorious criminal district, The Barbary Coast, where much of the tale will take place. In addition to historical crime, add a syndicate raising the dead with steam-based technology, and we have a formula for the sort of danger Creed was born to confront. His greatest challenges lie ahead.


Author: Jonathan Fesmire

Genre: Steampunk, Western, Science fiction

Series: The Adventures of Bodacious Creed (Book 1)
Bodacious Creed and the Frisco Syndicate (Book 2)

Publisher: Bodacious Publishing (August 18, 2017)

Paperback: 370 pages


Research from One Steampunk Western to the Next

My name is Jonathan Fesmire, and I love writing steampunk. Specifically, I enjoy writing Wild West steampunk, and when appropriate I like to get a bit of community involvement. That’s why, right now I’m running a Indiegogo to help me pay for editing, cover art, and my narrator’s initial fee for my next novel, Bodacious Creed and the Frisco Syndicate. Backers get some great rewards, like copies of the book in various formats, a deck of themed poker cards, a set of themed dice, the ability to name characters, and more. I ran a Kickstarter for the first book in the series, Bodacious Creed: a Steampunk Zombie Western, and that novel is doing extremely well.

When I mentioned the new campaign to Amy, she asked me how I’m approaching research for the new novel and how I balance research with writing in general.

If there’s one thing that’s certain about writers, it’s that we each approach our work differently. Some of us prefer to write our first drafts by hand, some to type them, others to dictate them. Some write books with practically no plan in mind, some create complex plot outlines before writing, and others have a general idea of a story and figure out the details as they go.

We may even change strategies from story to story, book to book.

You might suspect that I would approach the research for the second book in a series in the same way that I did the first. In the case of the first two books in The Adventures of Bodacious Creed, you’d be mistaken.

The first book is special in various ways. Let’s start with the basics. Like most steampunk fiction, it takes place in a past that never was, in this case, in Santa Cruz, California, in an alternate 1876. The world of U.S. Marshal James “Bodacious” Creed has steam-powered undead, automatons, a plethora of handy gadgets, and much more.

I was born in Santa Cruz and lived most of my life in the county. I thought it would be fun to take modern Santa Cruz and cast it back into the past, so the city in Bodacious Creed: a Steampunk Zombie Western, has many of the same streets, and the culture is a skewed reflection of the modern city.

From the outset, that makes the Santa Cruz in my alternate history markedly different from how the city was in the 1870s. Yet I wanted a touch of historical accuracy, so two men who were important in the real city at that time are characters in the book.

Most of the research I did for the first book involved learning about the Old West. I read about clothing styles, money and prices, and slang terms. I learned about the U.S. Marshal Service, though I made some changes to it for my world and read about prostitution in those days. I familiarized myself with where technology stood at the time. That gave me a starting point for devising new steam-based machines.

Research for Bodacious Creed and the Frisco Syndicate is following a more thorough path. While I wanted to honor modern Santa Cruz by creating a Wild West version of it, this next novel will take place primarily in San Francisco, which was crazy at the time.

I knew that I would want more people from history appearing in the sequel, so I started my research with a book called The Magnificent Rogues of San Francisco by Charles F. Adams. I learned about some of the most erratic, brilliant, conniving, and dangerous people to ever live in the City by the Bay. In reading about them, I also received a basic education in San Francisco history from the start of the California Gold Rush of 1849 to around the 1980s. One area that kept coming up as the epicenter of crime, a section of the city called The Barbary Coast. Think of it as old San Francisco’s red-light district, where criminals were seldom caught and a night rarely passed without a murder.

I moved on to researching the Barbary Cost in more depth. The first, and best book I found on the subject? The Barbary Coast by Herbert Asbury. This informal history book, published in the 1930s, has a wealth of information about the area. I’ve been reading through it with great interest, highlighting anything that might be useful in Bodacious Creed and the Frisco Syndicate.

Yet I needed more, and to my surprise, I found a television series from the 1970s for sale on Amazon. You’ll never guess what it’s called. Are you ready for it?

The Barbary Coast. The series stars William Shatner and Doug McClure, and it lasted one short season. As most good fiction does, it takes liberties with history and introduces new characters, but it provides a helpful look at life in San Francisco around the same period as my series.

I also contacted the San Francisco History Center at the San Francisco Public Library, which has a huge database with photographs, old newspapers, and more. The collection is amazing, and it’s helped me to better understand the city at the time.

I’ve just started putting everything together so I can write the novel. That means picking which historical characters I believe will be important to the narrative and figuring out how my characters will fit. The Indiegogo campaign will also have an influence on the story, since some backers will get to name characters and inventions and some will get to appear in the novel. What’s certain is that Creed’s future is uncertain as he heads toward the instability and danger of San Francisco’s Barbary Coast.

To view the Indidgogo campaign, go to


Jonathan Fesmire lives in sunny Southern California with his son. His writes "The Wild Steampunk Blog," located on his website. It covers steampunk, writing, art, and related topics, and also has many interviews with people prominent in the steampunk community.

Check out Jonathan’s interview and excerpt from Bodacious Creed in his first feature on A Blue Million Books.

Connect with Jonathan:
Website  |  Blog  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Goodreads  |  Amazon   |  YouTube  

Buy the book:


Saturday, May 5, 2018



. . . How far would you go to save your family?

Twenty-two years ago, Ike Rossi's life was shattered when his parents were murdered in cold blood. He surrendered his football scholarship and returned home to find their killer and raise his nine-year-old sister. Now, the crime of a local ten-year-old genius, Jack Cole, threatens to unearth old wounds rather than provide the closure Ike desperately wants.

When Ike meets Jack inside the Pittsburgh courthouse, he doesn't see a murderer but instead a boy who has been victimized by a system that has left them both without justice. Despite knowing the case will resurrect the painful demons of his parents' unsolved murders, Ike agrees to clear Jack's name. The court of public opinion and the district attorney have an airtight case. Worse, taking Jack's side thrusts Ike into the crosshairs of the most powerful family in Pittsburgh, the Falzones.

Now, with only days before the trial, Ike confronts the Falzones' crumbling empire to find the shocking evidence that could save Jack. At the same time, he races to decipher a series of cryptic clues from Jack's dead father that could hold the key to his son's freedom. But each step closer to the truth draws them further into danger, and as three fractured families collide, Ike is forced to choose between saving Jack--and saving himself.

The Victim of the System is a powerful and entertaining thriller about the justice system, closure and the abyss between them.


Title: The Victim of the System

Author’s name: Steve Hadden

Genre: Suspense/Thriller

Publisher: Telemachus Press (April 8, 2018)

Page count: 330 pages

On tour with: Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours


A few of your favorite things:
Two of my most favorite things are my guitars and my piano. The guitars are a great outlet for stress, and playing gets my creativity flowing. The piano is the same way, but it also comforts me to have it in the house. My parents had one in the house when I was growing up, and that’s where I learned. Music provides a great bridge for me to transition from the engineering, science and business to creatively writing.
Things you need to throw out:
This is an easy one. Living in the state of Washington, the key is to layer your clothing. But I accumulate clothes. I always think, “Hey, I might wear this again someday.” I have to have business clothing, outdoor wear, and casual clothing. But half my closet could probably go. I don’t throw clothes out, but I need to donate them.

Things you need in order to write:
This is pretty simple: My computer, iTunes and Spotify, my research, and a block of time, usually about three hours.
Things that hamper your writing:
Phone interruptions from the business world, and sad-eyed Labrador Retrievers.

Things you love about writing:
As a chemical engineer who’s perpetually curious, I love the research that goes into my books. I also love the moment I lose track of time when writing a great scene.
Things you hate about writing:
As an engineer and businessman, I like to get things done. Once I start a book, I love the act of writing, but hate to think about the hundreds of pages I need to complete to finish.

Hardest thing about being a writer:
I think one of the hardest things for a writer is the thousands of hours of solitude necessary to learn the craft and write a great novel. The commitment can be daunting, especially when you’re balancing a day job. But when you have that great book in your hands, somehow it all seems worth it.
Easiest thing about being a writer:
I think this varies from writer to writer based on my friends and acquaintances in the business. For me, once I’ve done the research, character backstories, and outline with key plot points, writing the words themselves comes relatively easy.

Things you love about where you live:
We live in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains outside of Seattle. We can see a 10,700-foot volcanic snow-covered mountain (Mount Baker) from our house. We live in the woods and take our two Labradors for a three mile walk along the trails most days.
Things that make you want to move:
While I have little desire to move from a place so beautiful, a sunny day at the beach in California might make me buy a lottery ticket.

Things you never want to run out of:
Other than the basic staples of life, I’d never want to run out of love, fun, generosity, and new ideas. I also never want to run out of milk and vanilla wafers!
Things you wish you’d never bought:
My first house, my first piece of carrot cake, and this hideous stripped t-shirt that made me look like a cross between a mime and a vintage French sailor. 

Favorite music or song:
My friends will tell you I love anything by the Eagles. I grew up with that music. I play the guitar and piano and love to play from their song book. But I also have a broad range of music I listen to including rock, jazz, pop, and country. My favorite song right now is “You’ll Be Back” from the Hamilton soundtrack. I loved seeing King George sing it at the play. 
Music that make your ears bleed:
Country Rap, unless it’s "The Devil Went Down to Georgia" by Charlie Daniels.

Something you wish you could do:
I love playing the guitar. I’m not that great at it, and I wish I could play like Vince Gill.
Something you wish you’d never learned to do:
I had to learn how to give a eulogy recently when my brother-in-law passed away at fifty-five from ALS. He was one of the greatest people I’ve known. While it was an honor, I wished I’d never had to learn how to do it in the first place. I wrote a blog about him the day after he died.

Last best thing you ate:
My wife bought a couple a Wagyu steaks last weekend and they were delicious. 

Last thing you regret eating:
We were in a Southern California hotel and they served duck liver pate instead of butter with the bread. When I was a kid my mother would serve us liver and onions, so anything with liver makes me gag!

Things you always put in your books:
I want to give readers a unique, intriguing, and unforgettable reading experience by including a little something from the edge of science and then extrapolate it just a little further. My books are not science fiction, but there is always an interesting bit of science in all my books.

Things you never put in your books:
I generally stay away from graphic sex or violence. I trust the reader’s imagination to fill in the blanks. 

Things to say to an author:
“Your book kept me up all night.”
“I told all my friends about your book.”
“Would you like to come to my party tonight?”
Things to say to an author if you want to be fictionally killed off in their next book:
For me, anything not vulgar or offensive is fair game. Ideas come from the strangest places, but my least favorite might be:
“I would have ended your book differently.”
“Here’s a book you should write.”
“I’m thinking about writing my novel while on vacation next week” (Unless you’re Stephen King!)

Favorite places you’ve been:
I loved the history in Northern Scotland, the waterfront in Seattle, the sunset from beaches in Laguna Niguel, California, the downtown area of Naples, Florida, the mountains surrounding Bogota Columbia, the christening of a ship Singapore, seeing the Amazon in Manaus, Brazil, and the view of Pittsburgh from Mount Washington.

Places you never want to go to again:
I’d probably never go back to visit Kazakhstan. I was there on business in the desolate western Kazakh Steppe to tour an oilfield. The people were great, as they are most places I’ve been, but the dry plains are not for me.

People you’d like to invite to dinner:
Because I love his music and history, I probably invite Don Henley of the Eagles. Because I love to find the joy and humor in things, I’d also invite the comedian Kevin Hart, along with Clive Cussler and R. L. Stein, two of the funniest authors I’ve met.
People you’d cancel dinner on:
I’m a lifelong Pittsburgh Steeler’s fan, so I’d probably cancel on Tom Brady and the Patriots . . . sorry Giselle.


Jack Cole knew they were coming for him next. He waited in the dense shrubs with a vengeful patience. He reminded himself he was here for a reason-one that justified the action. He fought back the dark sensation that this was wrong. Thou shalt not kill had been drilled into him at Saint John's. But this was the only way to end it-to be safe.
His hand shook as he gripped the heavy rifle and took aim at the front door of the mansion across the private cul-de-sac. He settled the jitter with the thought that this man had killed his dad.
He leaned back against the tree and braced for the kick. Then, through the bushes, he saw a sliver of light widen as the front door opened. He dropped his head and took aim through the scope. He'd been watching the lawyer's house for days.
The thick door swung open and his target stepped out, closing the door behind him. Jack hesitated when he came face-to-face with him through the scope. Still, he steadied the heavy rifle and squeezed the trigger.
The blast slammed his back against the thick tree. The kick felt stronger than it had when he'd fired it on his first hunting trip with his father, just two months ago. As he scrambled to regain his balance, he saw his prey-the man responsible for destroying what was left of his family-fall against the front door of the red brick home, his white shirt splattered with blood and his face paralyzed in shock. Blood smeared as the man grabbed at the door, apparently reaching for someone inside. Finally, the attorney collapsed with his contorted body wrapped around his large legal briefcase.
Jack stood and froze, shocked by the carnage he'd unleashed. When the door swung open and a panicked woman rushed out, he came to his senses.
In seconds, Jack secured and covered the rifle and began his escape. Halfway down the cul-de-sac, he was sure someone had called 911. As he calmly pulled the red wagon his father had given him on his ninth birthday, he heard the police cars responding. They raced through the expensive suburban homes toward 1119 Blackbird Court.
The two cars turned onto the cul-de-sac and slowed when the patrolmen passed a mom and her children standing in their driveway, gaping at the terrifying scene. At the deep end of the cul-de-sac, the police cars screeched to a stop. Their doors sprang open and two officers swept the area with their guns drawn. The other two rushed to the porch. The woman cradled the man's body, screaming wildly. Blood coated the porch and covered the woman's face and arms.
Jack fought the urge to run and wandered out of the cul-de-sac. Two other police cars and an ambulance raced past. Over his shoulder, he saw the paramedics rush to the porch. Then Jack turned the corner and lost sight of what he'd done-and he began to cry.

Six Months Later
Ike Rossi hated this place. Not because something had happened here. Instead, it was something that hadn't. It represented failure. A rotting failure that he placed firmly on his own shoulders. While it had been twenty-two years, the wound was as raw as it was on that dreadful day he'd tried to forget for most of his adult life. Now, after years of dead ends, he was here once again to close that wound. He waited on the hard bench in the massive lobby of the Allegheny County Courthouse flanked by murals of Peace, Justice, and Industry. Despite their ominous presence, he ignored them. He'd never found any of those here.
As nine a.m. approached, the lobby swelled with people making their way to their destinies. Their voices and the clicks of their best shoes echoed through the massive honeycomb of thick stone archways as they wound up the network of stairs leading to the courtrooms on the floors above. Nameless faces all carried their tags: anger, sadness, fear, and arrogance. Those who were above it all, those who feared the system, and those who just saw money. While he'd always heard it was the best system on earth, he was painfully convinced that justice deserved better.
Three benches down, Ike's eyes locked on a small boy who was crying and leaning into a woman's side as she tried desperately to comfort him. When he recognized Jack Cole from the flood of news reports over the last six months, he didn't feel the prickly disdain that had roiled in his gut as he watched the initial reports on TV. At first, he'd condemned the ten-year-old boy as another killer-one who took the life of someone's parent. But as the case unfolded he'd discovered the boy had lost his father. The constant wound Ike kept hidden in his soul opened a little wider. He knew what it was like to lose a parent.
According to the reports, Jack Cole's father had committed suicide as a result of a nasty divorce from Brenda Falzone Cole, the estranged daughter of one of the richest families in the country. Jack, a genius ten-year-old, had shot and killed his mother's family law attorney-not exactly what Ike expected from a kid. When he was finally identified in video from a neighbor's security camera and questioned, he shocked investigators by admitting the act.
Claiming he didn't have a choice under Pennsylvania law, the prosecutor was trying the boy as an adult. Jack faced a murder charge. Due to his young age, both sides wanted to fast-track the trial. It was scheduled to start next Monday, just a week away.
The boy looked up and caught Ike's gaze. Despite his best efforts, Ike couldn't look away. Tears streamed down Jack's face, but at the same time, his eyes begged for help. A mix of fear and generosity accumulated deep in Ike's chest. He knew the boy sought the same help he'd sought for himself years ago, but the prospect of exhuming that pain warned him to stay away.
Still, yielding to a magnetic force that had no regard for his own protection, Ike stood, smiled, and walked to the boy, ignoring the condemning stares from the people eyeing Jack. Reaching into his jacket pocket, he pulled out a small Rubik's Cube he carried to amuse distressed kids on long flights to distant oil provinces.
He stopped in front of the pair and asked the woman, "May I?" while he showed her the toy. The dried streaks down her cheeks told him she shared the boy's pain. He recognized her from the news reports but didn't want to remind her that millions of people were now witness to her custody battle with Jack's mother's family-and the progression of her devastating pretrial defeats at the hands of the district attorney.
"Oh, that's so kind of you," she said, nodding gently.
Ike gave Jack the toy and sat beside him. Jack's smallish build and timid posture made it hard to believe he was ten-and he'd killed someone.
Jack sniffled and wiped his nose with the back of his arm.
"Here, honey," the woman said as she handed him a Kleenex. Jack wiped his nose and immediately began twisting the cube, ignoring Ike.
"I'm Lauren Bottaro," the woman said. "This is Jack. I'm his aunt."
Ike reached out. "Ike Rossi."
Her eyes flamed with familiarity. She seemed stunned. "You're Ike Rossi?"
Jack handed the cube back to Ike. "Done!"
Ike wasn't sure what startled him more, the look on Lauren's face or the fact that Jack had solved the cube in less than a minute. "That's great, Jack." Ike offered Jack a high-five, but Jack awkwardly hesitated. Finally, he slapped it and Ike returned the toy. The tears were gone, replaced by a proud smile. Ike looked back at Lauren, who'd apparently caught herself staring at him.
She seemed to regain some composure, and a serious expression swept across her face.
"Mr. Rossi, can I ask what you do, now?"
Ike hesitated, hearing more than just that question in her voice.
He looked up and saw Mac Machowski, grinning.
"I'll tell you what he does."
Ike could have kissed Mac for the timely rescue.
Mac counted on his thick gnarled fingers. "He fixes things that can't be fixed. He keeps fat cats from getting kidnapped-or killed if they do-and he's the best damn investigator I've ever seen."
Ike noticed Jack had stopped playing with the Rubik's Cube and was listening intently to Mac, along with Lauren.
Ike smiled. "Mac, I'd like you to meet Lauren and Jack."
Mac tipped the bill of his Pirates cap to Lauren. "Ma'am." Then, extending his meaty paw, he knelt painfully and came face-to-face with Jack. "Nice to meet you, young man."
Jack nervously looked away but reached for Mac's hand and shook it.
"Jack. What do you say?" Lauren said.
Jack faced Mac. "Nice to meet you, sir."
Mac's joints creaked as he reached to the floor and pushed himself up. "You ready there, partner?" he said to Ike. "We gotta catch him before he leaves the courthouse at nine."
As Ike stood, Lauren rose with him. "So you're a detective?"
Ike threw a nod toward Mac. "He is-a retired homicide detective. I'm a private security and investigative services consultant in the oil and gas business."
Lauren tipped her head back, as if enlightened. "That makes sense now."
"What makes sense?" Ike said.
"I saw your name written on my brother's day planner."
The claim jolted Ike. "My name?"
Lauren nodded again. "Did you speak to him?"
"No, I've never talked to your brother." Ike was sure investigators would have checked the planner, but he'd never been questioned.
Jack reached up and tugged on Ike's forearm. "Can you help me?"
Those eyes were begging again.
Lauren gently pulled Jack's hand from Ike's arm. "I'm sorry," she said. "He's been through a lot."
Jack kept his eyes, now wet again, locked on Ike. "My dad wouldn't do that to me. He wouldn't kill himself."
Ike was frozen by Jack's stare. It was as innocent as any ten-year-old's. A primal desire to protect Jack stirred in Ike's heart. He didn't want to believe the kid-but he did.
Lauren hugged Jack. "It's okay, honey." She looked back at Ike and Mac. "We have no right to ask you th-"
A thick, towering woman with dark brown hair and a stone-cold stare wedged into the space between Mac and Lauren. She studied Mac, then Ike. "What's going on here, Lauren?"
Ike immediately recognized her from the news reports. Jenna Price represented Jack. For the last two months she'd been billed as a hopeless underdog, and the string of losses so far-other than prevailing at the bail hearing-supported that label. A basketball player-turned-lawyer, she was battling a DA who so far showed little mercy. She worked with her father in their tiny firm, and every talking head said she didn't stand a chance.
Lauren said, "Jenna, this is Ike Rossi and Mac … I'm sorry?"
"Machowski," Mac said as he shook Jenna's hand.
Jenna gripped Ike's hand and held it as she spoke. "My dad said you were the greatest quarterback ever to come out of western Pennsylvania."
Ike always had one answer to that comment to quell any further discussion of his accolades. "That was a long time ago."
"What are you doing now?" she asked.
Jack leaned around Lauren and nearly shouted, "He's a detective. He can help us!"
Lauren hugged him tight again. "Shhh."
"A detective?" Jenna said.
"A private security and investigative services consultant."
Jenna nodded and held her gaze but said nothing.
"We gotta go now," Mac said, looking at his watch.
Ike stepped back from Jenna. "Stay strong, Counselor." He nodded to Lauren. "Ms. Bottaro." Then Ike offered a handshake to Jack.
Jack sheepishly held out the Rubik's Cube for Ike. Immediately, Ike felt Jack's awkwardness.
"You keep that, Jack." Ike raised his hand for another high-five. Jack took the cue this time and slapped it. "Ladies," he said, turning with Mac and walking down the hall.
As they reached the stairs at the end of the corridor, Ike glanced over his shoulder. He could see Jack edging around the two women to keep his eyes on Ike, with the Rubik's Cube clutched in his hand. Ike turned back to the stairs.
"You okay?" Mac said. Ike nodded and started up the stairs to meet a man he despised. A man who might finally deliver the key to his parents' murder.

Excerpt from The Victim of the System by Steve Hadden.  Copyright © 2018 by Steve Hadden. Reproduced with permission from Steve Hadden. All rights reserved.


Steve Hadden was born in Columbus, Ohio but spent much of his childhood in North Severna Park, Maryland. Building a short-wave radio with his father (an electrical engineer), frequent trips to the US Naval Academy, and the gift of a chemistry set, sparked his interest in chemistry and mathematics at an early age. At the end of elementary school, Steve’s family moved to Columbus, Indiana where he developed his love for basketball and where his favorite book was Stranger Than Science by Frank Edwards. Two years later, Steve moved to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where his junior high school creative writing teacher sparked his interest in writing. Steve attended North Allegheny High School and fell in love with Clive Cussler’s Raise the Titanic.

He attended Penn State, graduated with a degree in chemical engineering, and began a career in the oil and gas business, where he’s worked in engineering, management, and advisory roles. He’s traveled to intriguing places around the world and met fascinating people. His experience in the oil and gas business ultimately led to the idea for his first thriller, The Sunset Conspiracy. His interest in biology and science formed the foundation for his next four thrillers, Genetic Imperfections and The Swimming Monkeys Trilogy. He returned to his hometown of Pittsburgh with his latest thriller, The Victim of the System, a story with a mind-bending scientific twist.

Steve now lives in the foothills of the Cascades outside of Seattle. When he’s not working on his next intriguing thriller, Steve is hiking the trails with his wife and two Labrador retrievers, playing guitar or piano, reading great books, listening to music, and consulting on business matters.

Connect with Steve:
Website  |  Blog  |  Facebook  |  Goodreads 

Buy the book:
Amazon  |  Barnes & Noble


This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Steve Hadden. There will be 2 winners of one (1) gift Card. The giveaway begins on May 1 and runs through June 2, 2018.

Thursday, May 3, 2018



1952 – a small Kentish village seemingly little affected  by the war years. Eleven-year-old Josie, mute from birth and who communicates through her writing, is on the verge of puberty and life in the wider world. It is a time of childhood innocence. She and her twin brother, Mitch, are thrilled when an American teacher arrives at their village school, suspecting him of being their long-lost father. Together with their two best friends they set about collecting evidence for their suspicions but soon find themselves embroiled in deeper, darker secrets which land Josie in a life-threatening situation.  As childhood recedes and mature thought begins to surface, Josie, who tells the tale, realizes that she is not the only one who has been unable to speak.


Title: The Silence of Knowing

Author’s name: Jenny Jackson

Genre: Historical mystery

Publisher: (November 2017)

Page count: 80


Jenny, what’s the story behind the title of your book?
The lead character is unable to speak - other characters have secrets and choose not to speak.

Where’s home for you?
The south coast of England.

Where did you grow up?
In north Kent about 20 miles from London.

What makes you nervous?

What makes you happy?

What makes you scared?
I’m claustrophobic so worried about being trapped in a lift (elevator).  I have been known to walk up eight flights of stairs rather than use one.

How did you meet your spouse?
We were brought up in the same small town and went to the same church. We were always good friends but didn’t get together until our early twenties.

What’s one of your favorite quotes?
"I have been told that Wagner’s music is better than it sounds." -Bill Nye

What’s your favorite line from a book?

"I like work; it fascinates me. I can sit and look at it for hours." -Jerome K. Jerome Three Men in a Boat

Are any of your characters inspired by real people?
The tramp, Stinky Jim, is based on a gentleman from my childhood who was called Smokey Joe. 

Is your book based on real events?
No, though of course the references to historic events are true.

What’s one pet peeve you have when you read?
Authors who overuse the f word as an adjective.  It is lazy writing.

Do you have a routine for writing?
I should do, but I don’t.  

What’s the best compliment you’ve ever received about your writing?
When my 11-year-old grandson read my book he told his mother that "It’s much better than I thought it would be."  I’m still laughing.

What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever had to write?
The eulogy for my mother’s funeral. 

Where is your favorite library, and what do you love about it?
I love accompanying my grandchildren to their local library in Loughton, Essex. They have been ticket holders since they were small babies, and it is one of their favourite places. The staff are great, and it always seems to be full of children. 

What would your dream office look like?

Any office would be a dream! Our house is too small to accommodate one, so I write at the dining room table.

Why did you decide to self-publish?
It is almost impossible to get a first book read by publishers. I was encouraged by my writing group, Shorelink, to get my book published, and this was the only way forward. 

What steps to publication did you personally do, and what did you hire someone to do?
I do not have a lot of spare cash and so researched self-publishing thoroughly before deciding on I have not regretted it and would definitely recommend their services.

What are you working on now?
A longer novel, same genre but with a male protagonist this time.


Jenny Jackson was born in North Kent a couple of months after the end of WWII and now lives on the south coast. She has been married for 50 years come the summer and has two children and two grandchildren.  This is her first book although she has been writing for most of her life! She worked in a senior school for over 20 years and now does voluntary work. She enjoys walking in the countryside and is somewhat addicted to strong tea but doesn’t like coffee at all.

Buy the book:
Amazon UK  |  Amazon US