Friday, March 30, 2018



To Rick Atwood’s dismay, the police find a body on the beach near his Seaside Cove B&B. The dead woman held a pottery shard from an ancient rice bowl, which the cops believe is a clue to her murder.

The chief suspect is Flynn O’Connor, a female archaeologist known for her hatred of treasure thieves. Trouble is, Rick’s daughter Alex sees Flynn as a role model and will not believe her friend is a killer.
Alex pressures her dad as only a ten-year-old can to prove Flynn is innocent. The mayor is also making demands—for Rick to stay out of the investigation. With his daughter and the mayor at odds, Rick sees trouble brewing. He knows too well how much Alex loves sticking her nose where it doesn’t belong. Especially when there’s murder involved.

Book Details

Title: Clues in the Sand (A Seaside Cove Bed & Breakfast Mystery) 

Author: Terry Ambrose

Genre: Cozy mystery, 2nd in series

Release Date: March 15, 2018

Paperback: 191 pages

Touring with: Great Escapes Book Tours 


Alex is ten years old, in fifth grade, and is fascinated by murder. When she was younger, her dad was a reporter in New York. He let her “help” write his stories, a practice he sometimes regrets now that Alex firmly believes he got his best ideas from her. Alex believes she and her dad can solve any crime—even when the cops don’t have a clue.


Alex, how did you first meet Terry?

(Eyeroll) - Seriously? It was totally boring. He was like, I’m gonna write this bed and breakfast mystery story and your dad’s gonna be the hero. And I was like, no way. Daddy’s good at solving crimes, but he really needs my help. I told my author person if I was gonna be in this story, he totally had to give me a bigger part.

Want to dish about him?
I’m only ten and Daddy doesn’t like it when I say bad things about other people. But, just between you and me, he was totally clueless when he started writing the first book in the series. He had no idea my dad and Marquetta liked each other so much. Doh. How could he have missed that? To be fair, Daddy was kinda clueless, too. I got them both straightened out. But man, it was a lot of work!

Tell us about your favorite scene in the book.
I don’t know if I have a favorite scene, but my favorite parts are where I get to write in my journal. I never thought about keeping a journal until Marquetta gave me one for my tenth birthday. Marquetta’s our cook and is gonna be my mom someday if she and Daddy can ever stop being so lame (eyeroll!!!).

What do you like to do when you are not being actively read somewhere?
Me and my best friend Robbie Sachetti like to hang out when we’re not going to school. We’re both in fifth grade and can text each other when the teacher’s not paying attention. Robbie doesn’t say a lot and my dad calls him a “man of few words.” I totally don’t mind it when Robbie’s kinda quiet 'cause he’s got these dreamy blue eyes that make me go all mushy inside. I’m gonna marry Robbie when we grow up. Just don’t tell him that!

If you could rewrite anything in your book, what would it be?
I’d totally rewrite my scene in the attic because it, like, shows I do get scared. I wasn’t supposed to go in the attic, but when I found out it was unlocked and there might be clues to why Marquetta’s so secretive about her past, I just had to go up there. It wouldn’t have been a big deal except my author was too cheap to add a couple more lights, so it was super dark up there. I’m totally gonna get back at my author for making me do something so scary.

Tell the truth. What do you think of your fellow characters?
Daddy’s the best dad in the world. And Marquetta, she’s like, my hero. She’s strong and loves me a lot, just like I love her. I totally don’t like Miss Potok because she just wants to cause trouble. She’s one of our guests and is trying to find the treasure before anybody else. I also really like Miss O’Connor. She’s a lady archaeologist and is trying to save the past from people like Miss Potok.

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

The worst thing was when my mom left us. That was a few years ago, and it took me and Daddy a long time to get over it. That’s one reason we moved to Seaside Cove. What I learned is that me and Daddy didn’t have to settle for someone who cared about her career more than us. It wasn’t until we got here that we realized our lives could go on without my mom. 

Tell us about your best friend.

I already told you more than I should’ve about Robbie Sachetti, so I’m gonna tell you about Marquetta. She’s been at the B&B for a long time. She even ran it after my grandfather, Captain Jack, died. When me and Daddy moved here, she started teaching us the business. She’s pretty and is the best cook ever because Captain Jack sent her to a fancy cooking school when she was eighteen. Marquetta has taught me how important it is to write down my innermost thoughts. That’s why she gave me my journal. I totally want Marquetta to be my mom someday, so I keep trying to get her and Daddy together. I may be just a kid, but I seem to be the only one who knows how this romance thing works!

What’s Terry’s worst habit?
He totally thinks it’s funny to call me Nancy Drew, but that’s so lame. She was, like, sixteen when she got her first case. She had a really cool car and could drive. I won’t even be able to get my learner’s permit for another five years! Hello! Author person, get a clue!

How do you feel about your life right now?

My life right now is awesome. I’m in my second book, Daddy and Marquetta are spending more time together, and I got to do all sorts of cool stuff to solve the murder. Living in Seaside Cove rocks! We might not have a lot of super fun stuff to do, but the locals are awesome!

Tell us about the town where you live.
Seaside Cove is, like, really small. But, we have all the important kinds of places. The businesses on Main Street are in old houses, which is awesome. We have an ice cream shop and that’s, like, my favorite place in town. It’s run by our mayor, Mrs. Carter, and she can be kinda pushy at times. Deep down I know she’s okay. She just wants what’s best for the town.

Will you encourage Terry to write a sequel?
He’s totally gonna have to write some sequels! There’s a lot going on in Seaside Cove. There’s, like, this whole big Christmas thing coming, and then they’ve gotta start bringing up all the treasure from the San Manuel. That’s the Spanish galleon that sank a super-long time ago. I’m gonna make him keep writing sequels until Daddy marries Marquetta. He might have to keep going after that because having a baby sister would be awesome!


Terry Ambrose has written more than a dozen books, several of which have been award finalists. In 2014, his thriller, Con Game won the San Diego Book Awards for Best Action-Thriller. He’s currently working on the Seaside Cove Bed & Breakfast Mystery series.

Connect with Terry:
Website  |  Blog  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Goodreads  |  Amazon   

Buy the book:

Wednesday, March 28, 2018



Moving to Sedona was the only way Ivy could think of to start over. She would meet her high school sweetheart and work on making things right between them. Her psychic abilities were gradually becoming a curse and she needed a new start. Little does she know that when she applies for a waitressing job at a local, upscale French bistro, she will come in contact with the dark and mysterious Eli Dubois. What she doesn’t realize is she has just walked into the middle of the Vortex Murders, which involve a great deal of paranormal activity. Elijah’s army of seers are being murdered, one by one, which seems to be magnifying Ivy’s special abilities. 

Eli's best friend, Jake, arrives on the scene and reveals the secret that changes everything. With nowhere to turn, Ivy leans on the two men who offer her solace. And who is the old woman in the shroud? Is she a vision, a dream, or is she real? Only time will tell.

Book Details

Title: Ivy Vines, Visions

Author: Judy Serrano

Genre: Paranormal Romance

Series: Ivy Vines, Book 1

Publisher: Judy Serrano (November, 2013)

Page count: 267

On tour with: Pump Up Your Book


Things you need in order to write: My flashdrive and my Macbook. That is really all I need.
Things that hamper your writing: My job. That about covers it.

Things you love about writing: I love to travel in my imagination. I love to wear formal gowns, drip with diamonds, live in a mansion, meet handsome men, and travel to exotic locations.
Things you hate about writing: Not one thing.

Hardest thing about being a writer: The hardest thing about being a writer is that I cannot do it full-time. I dream my storylines, and I think about them all day long. It is painful sometimes to be stifled and unable to find the time to devote to it.

Easiest thing about being a writer: The actual writing. I can put down 5,000 words in an hour. I love it. 

Things you love about where you live: I love how my children are well-loved in their school district. They are achievers with big hearts and the district cherishes them.
Things that make you want to move: I want to move closer to the city. To go anywhere or do anything, it is a considerable drive.

Things you never want to run out of: Ideas.
Things you wish you’d never bought: My hair straightener. I never use it.

Words that describe you: Strong, intuitive, intelligent, creative, loving, loyal and hardworking.
Words that describe you but you wish they didn’t: Stubborn, perfectionist, and impatient.

Favorite foods: Salmon, shrimp, crab, lobster, and hot wings. Yes, I said hot wings.
Things that make you want to throw up: Kale, seaweed, cactus, greens, and squid.

Favorite music: Country and contemporary Christian.
Music that make your ears bleed: Screemo and anything Metallica.

Favorite smell: apple cinnamon.

Something that makes you hold your nose: Broccoli.

Something you’re really good at: Music, writing, teaching
Something you’re really bad at: Math (lol).

Something you wish you could do: Balance a checkbook.
Something you wish you’d never learned to do: I’ll have to get back to you on that one.

Something you like to do: Sing and write.
Something you wish you’d never done: Quit college as a young person.

Last best thing you ate: Ballerina pasta at the Hilton.

Last thing you regret eating: A piece of dried seaweed given to me by someone at Costco.

Things you’d walk a mile for: The best hot wings in town.
Things that make you want to run screaming from the room: Spiders.

Things you always put in your books: Romance
Things you never put in your books: Swear words.

Things to say to an author: Your books rock!

Things to say to an author if you want to be fictionally killed off in their next book: I hated your main character.

Favorite genre: Romantic suspense or paranormal romance
Books you would ban: If there is no love in it at all, I am doomed.

Favorite things to do: Write, sing, watch sitcoms or Hallmark movies, read a good book.

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

Things that make you happy: My family.
Things that drive you crazy:
My family.

Best thing you’ve ever done: Married my husband.
Biggest mistake: Not meeting him ten earlier.

Most daring thing you’ve ever done: Climbed rocked with no ropes
Something you chickened out from doing: Auditioning for The Voice.

The last thing you did for the first time: Took an important test for my career
Something you’ll never do again: Go back to school.



My heart was beating almost out of my chest as I drove to the restaurant to see Simone. I checked my rear view mirror often; just to be sure I wasn’t followed. I parked the car and ran as fast as my legs would carry me to the front door. I felt like I was burdened with cement weights around my ankles as I forced my body to keep moving forward. Trying to catch my breath was futile when Eduardo met me at the entrance. I was in no mood for his pretentious smile and flippant tone, but still he would not let me pass.
“I need to see Simone,” I told him, barely able to form the words due to the lack of air in my lungs.
“Will that be one for lunch or two?” he asked me.
I almost punched him. “Two,” I answered, regaining my composure. “Simone is off in a few minutes. She’ll have lunch with me, I’m sure.”
“Very well then,” he answered. He slowly took out two menus and sat me at a table by the window.
“Thank you,” I managed. “Please tell Simone I’m here.”
He made an unfavorable face at me and walked away. I looked out the window and began to recapture a normal breathing pattern. I noticed an old woman walking by the creek. She had her head covered by a black scarf, and she was wearing what looked like a black cloak over her body. It was warm out, being early September, and that’s why her clothing caught my attention. She took off the scarf and looked at me. When our eyes touched, I could feel my blood pressure rise. My face got warm. Long grey curls cascaded down, past her shoulders, and her expression got very grave. Her nose looked like a misshapen staircase and she had a mole on the left side of her face along her jaw line. She pointed her finger at me, slowly straightening it out as far as it could go, and I felt a surge of fear strike through my body. I stood up quickly, pushing my chair back with the backs of my knees and felt a hand on my shoulder. I let out a shriek, that was certainly noticeable, and when I turned, it was Simone’s hand on my shoulder.
“Ivy, what is it?” she asked. “The last time I heard you scream like that…”
I dismissed her, mid-sentence, knowing exactly what she was going to say. Since that day. The day we don’t dare talk about or even remember if we can help it. I turned my attention back to the creek but the old woman was gone. I could feel her.
“It’s nothing I told her. Are you done with your shift yet?”
“Yes, I’m done,” she answered. “Eduardo is making me change my clothes first. So, sit tight and I’ll be right back.”
I sat back down and looked out the window again. A breeze blew open one of the side windows unexpectedly, and I almost fell out of my chair. I could hear a faint humming. It was all too familiar. There was still no old woman, but I knew she was there. She was watching me somehow. Simone finally came back and sat beside me. “What’s going on, Ivy? I haven’t seen you this unraveled in a very long time. It’s a little disconcerting to say the least.”
“He’s after me,” I told her. “He knows I’m here.”
“Who knows you’re here? Ivy, you’re not making any sense.”
“Lucifer,” I whispered, leaning into her so that no one else would hear me. “He thinks I know.”
“He thinks you know what?” she asked, looking at me as though I had gone mad.
“When Jesus is coming. He thinks I know.”
“Do you?” she asked. “Do you know?” A hiss filled the air in the room as the wind picked up and gushed through the open window. I drew a breath but I dared not answer. She was listening. 


The Easter’s Lilly Series:
Easter’s Lilly
Brother Number Three
Relatively Close
Memoirs of a Mobster
The Lost Years
The Last Fall

The Linked Series:


Judy Serrano graduated from Texas A&M University-Commerce with an MA in English. She is the owner of Make Cents Editing Services, and was an adjunct professor at a local college. Currently she teaches high school English and is a freelance writer for certain on-line publications. Judy also writes romantic suspense and paranormal romance novels. She is the author of The Easter’s Lilly Series, The Linked Series, and Ivy Vines, Visions.

Although originally form New York, Judy resides in Texas with her husband, four boys, two dogs and now five cats. She sings and plays guitar when she has time and enjoys singing with her very musical family in church when she is able.

Connect with Judy:
Website  |  Blog  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Goodreads  |  Make Cents Editing

Buy the book:
Amazon  |  Barnes & Noble  

Monday, March 26, 2018



Francis Hoyt, arrogant, athletic, brilliant, manipulative and ruthless, is a master burglar. He specializes in stealing high-end silver, breaking into homes that seem impenetrable. He’s never been caught in the act, although he has spent some time in prison on a related charge, time he used to hone his craft and make valuable connections.

One day, Charlie Floyd, brilliant, stubborn, an experienced investigator, who has recently retired from his job with the attorney general’s department for the state of Connecticut, receives a phone call from Manny Perez, a Cuban-American Miami police detective. Perez, who’s worked with Floyd previously, wants to enlist the former investigator in his efforts to put an end to Francis Hoyt’s criminal career. Floyd accepts the offer and they team up to bring Hoyt to justice.

As Floyd and Perez get closer to their prey, Hoyt finds out they’re after him and rather than backing down, he taunts them, daring them to bring him in. As the story develops, the stakes get higher and higher, until the three men confront each other in a stunning climax.

Book Details

Title: Second Story Man

Author: Charles Salzberg

Genre: Literary Crime/Suspense
Series: Henry Swann

Publisher: Down & Out Books (March 26, 2018)

Print length: 296 pages


Charles, what’s the story behind the title of your book?

The novel centers around three characters. First, and most important, because without him there’d be no story, is Francis Hoyt, a master burglar. He’s literally a “second story man,” who breaks into the homes of the wealthy. In winter, he’s based in Florida. In summer, he moves north, following his prey. He began his career breaking into homes at dinnertime, when he knew his victims would be home, along with their valuables, and most probably downstairs, dining. His “second story,” is that as a result of a bad decision, he’s spent some time in prison, but now that he’s out, he’s changed his modus operandi. Now, he works late at night, when his victims are asleep.

The two men after him, Charlie Floyd, a recently retired Connecticut state investigator, is in search of his “second story,” wondering what he’s going to do with the rest of his life. Manny Perez, a Cuban-American Miami police detective, is living his “second story,” in his adoptive country, now trying to make up for a mistake that got him temporarily suspended from the force.

How did you create the plot for Second Story Man?
I don’t write with an outline. In fact, I never know what’s going to happen from one page to the next. I start with an idea or a character—in this case it was Francis Hoyt, the thief, after reading about two master burglars, the “dinnertime bandit” and the “silver thief.” Once I had the character, I borrowed two other characters from an earlier novel, Devil in the Hole (which was based on a true crime, a man who murders his three kids, wife, mother and family dog, and disappears), shook everything up, and then saw what happens.

Are any of your characters inspired by real people?
In this book, only Francis Hoyt, who’s an amalgam of the “dinnertime bandit” and the “silver thief,” in terms of the way they worked. But everything about his character was totally invented. But I do sometimes use the names of people I know in my novels, and this is no exception. People seem to like the attention, even if it’s negative.

Is your book based on real events?
Partially. Some of the thefts I describe that happened before the book begins, are based on real events.

Sounds very intriguing. Where’s home for you?
Born and raised in New York City. And the most time I’ve spent away from it was four years of college and one year of law school. I get a little antsy when I’m away from the city for more than five or six days.

What do you love about where you live?
I could easily say everything, including all the things that non-New Yorkers (and sometimes New Yorkers) complain about, but that would be avoiding the question. I love the energy. I love the diversity. I love the various neighborhoods. I love the interesting people I meet and associate with every day (most of them having come from somewhere else). I love that it’s a city that never closes down. I once came home from a Jerry Lee Lewis concert around two-thirty in the morning, when everyone should be asleep, only to find my neighbor was on her way out. It’s a city where if you’re bored there’s something wrong with you. And, I love the anonymity. I can live in a building for ten, twenty years, and maybe know one or two neighbors, and then only to say hello. I love that your lifestyle is, for the most part, unjudged by my fellow New Yorkers.

If you had an extra $100 a week to spend on yourself, what would you buy?
I know this might sound a little ridiculous, but I really do have all I want (and need). But if a hundred bucks were burning a hole in my pocket I’d probably spend it on books and movies.

Excellent choice! 
What’s the most valuable thing you’ve learned?
Two things, no good deed goes unpunished (thanks to Clare Booth Luce for that insight), and we are all our own worst enemies.

Who would you pick to write your biography?
There’s no way my life has the makings of anything anyone would want to read, which is perhaps why I’m drawn to writing. But if I had to choose, I’d pick my friend, T.J. Stiles, who writes wonderful biographies, including two of my favorites: one on Jesse James and the other on George Armstrong Custer.

What dumb things did you do during your college years?
My problem isn’t the dumb things I did it’s the dumb things I didn’t do. I was a shy kid, a year younger than anyone else in my class, because I skipped a grade in junior high, and so I led an incredibly boring and low-risk college life.

What is the most daring thing you've done?
Quitting a job in the mailroom of New York magazine after three months with no other job in sight, having sold not one word of what I’d written, to start my life as a freelance writer. I look back and ask myself, “What the hell was I thinking?”

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

What’s one thing that you wish you knew as a teenager that you know now?
That not everyone is judging you all the time like you think they are. The truth is, they’re probably not thinking about you at all.

What makes you bored?
I don’t think I’ve ever been bored in my life. There’s always a book to read, a newspaper to read, a movie to see, a TV program to watch, a magazine to catch up on. Or just being lost in my own “deep” thoughts. By the way, sometimes these thoughts are like, “What should I have for dinner tonight?”

What is your most embarrassing moment?
It would be impossible to answer this since I’m pretty much embarrassed every moment of my life.

What choices in life would you like to have a redo on?
I don’t think about that too much, because all the choices I’ve made have made me who I am, but I guess the choices would pretty much all center around relationships with women.

If someone gave you $5,000 and said you must solve a problem, what would you do with the money?
I can’t imagine any problem that could be solved by throwing $5,000 at it, but I would probably donate it to something like Meals on Wheels. My mother benefited from that program, and it’s more than just feeding the elderly or infirm. It’s about giving them daily contact with another human being, and having someone who actually keeps tabs on them. I might split it with visiting nurse services. Or, I’d give it to a friend in need.

What makes you nervous?
Pretty much everything, but certainly any level of success, since I think it’s always going to disappear.

What makes you happy?
Anything going right makes me happy. Seeing my friends and family happy, makes me happy. Being able to get up every morning and do whatever I want, makes me happy. Not having to wear a tie and jacket to work every day (or ever), makes me happy. See, it doesn’t take much.

What makes you scared?
Prejudice. And clowns.

What makes you excited?
Getting published. Having people enjoy my books. Seeing my students get published. Waking up every morning. Seeing friends.

Do you have another job outside of writing?
I teach writing.

Who are you?
I’m still working on the answer to this one.

If you could only save one thing from your house, what would it be?

Would you rather be a lonely genius, or a sociable idiot?
Can I be both?

What’s one of your favorite quotes?
 "What if a much of a which of a wind should give the truth to summer’s lie.” A line from an e.e. cummings poem. It not only feels good to recite, but think about what it means.

And two more, both from Shakespeare: “Those were pearls that were his eyes.” And, “What fools these mortals be.”

What would you like people to say about you after you die?
“You know, I kinda miss him now that he’s gone.”

What’s your favorite line from a book?
I’ve got so many, but the one that comes to mind is: “I am an American, Chicago born – Chicago, that somber city – and go at things as I have taught myself, free-style, and will make the record in my own way: first to knock, first admitted; sometimes an innocent knock, sometimes a not so innocent. But a man's character is his fate, says Heraclitus, and in the end there isn't any way to disguise the nature of the knocks by acoustical work on the door or gloving the knuckles.” Saul Bellow, The Adventures of Augie March.

What would your main character say about you?
“What a sucker.”

Who are your favorite authors?
Vladimir Nabokov, Saul Bellow, Philip Roth, Bernard Malamud, Dashiell Hammett.    

What book are you currently reading and in what format?
I usually have two or three books going at the same time, and though I prefer reading paperback or hardcover to digital, I wind up reading both ways. Right now, I’m reading my friend, David Swinson’s Crime Song, Ranger Games, by Ben Blum, and The Friends of Eddie Coyle, by George V. Higgins. But I’ve got a stack of other books to catch up on, and when I go on vacation I always bring my Kindle and read them on that.

Do you have a routine for writing?
I wish I did. I’m horrible about that. I’ve never, ever missed a deadline, and that includes all those years working as a magazine journalist, but I am very undisciplined in terms of carving out particular times to write. I just do it when I feel like it. Fortunately, I’m a very fast typist—90 words a minute—and I can focus really well when I sit down to write.   

What’s the best compliment you’ve ever received about your writing?
When Devil in the Hole came out a writer friend of mine, Ken Wishnia, asked me to come speak to his college class. They all read the book. As soon as I got there one young woman stood up and said, “You know, I feel really guilty because after reading this book I felt sorry for the murderer.” That was the best thing anyone could have said, because I wanted to write a human character, someone who’d committed a horrendous crime, murdering his entire family, but could still be, on some level, someone you could feel for, not simply a monster. Monsters are stereotypical. People are much more complicated than that. And during the same class, another young woman stood up and said, “Your book is the first book I’ve read all the way through since junior high school.”

If you could be a ghostwriter for any famous author, whom would you pick?
I actually was a ghostwriter and I’d never do it again.

What are you working on now?
I’m working on the next Henry Swann novel, tentatively called, Swann’s Down, which might be the last. Of course, I said that about the last one, too. The truth is, if I come up with an idea, I’ll probably write a sixth.


Swann’s Last Song
Swann Dives In 
Swann’s Lake of Despair
Swann’s Way Out 

Devil in the Hole

Triple Shot


Charles Salzberg is a novelist, journalist, and acclaimed writing instructor. He is the author of the Henry Swann detective series, including Swann’s Last Song which was nominated for a Shamus Award for Best First PI Novel and Devil in the Hole, which was named one of the best crime novels of 2013 by Suspense magazine. He has taught writing at Sarah Lawrence College, Hunter College, the Writer’s Voice, and the New York Writers Workshop, where he is a Founding Member. His writing has appeared in the New York Times Book Review, Los Angeles Times, Esquire, New York Magazine, and GQ. He lives in New York City.

Connect with Charles:
Website  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Goodreads 

Buy the book:

Saturday, March 24, 2018



Chocoholic Charity Penn must smoke out the killer to stop her newly inherited beachside chocolate shop from going up in flames in Dorothy St. James’ decadent follow-up to Asking for Truffle.

Chocolate shop owner Charity Penn is finally settling into life in the quirky South Carolina seaside town of Camellia Beach cooking up chocolate treats. She’s even helped organize the town’s lively beach music festival which has brought rollicking crowds eager to dance the Carolina shag. That is, until one of the band’s lead singers is found dead beside a beach bonfire.

While also trying to balance the amorous attention of music star Bixby Lewis, in town for the festival, and her quest to perfect a new hot flavored bonbon, Charity dives into the investigation. Though it’s more spice than sugar when she discovers a threatening note, comes across decades of age-old secrets, and Bixby comes into the line of fire when a gas grill explodes on the deck of a beachfront house.

Now Charity must turn up the heat and catch the killer before her chance melts away in Playing With Bonbon Fire, the delightful second Southern Chocolate Shop mystery served up just right for fans of JoAnna Carl and Joanne Fluke.

Book Details

Title: Playing with Bonbon Fire, A Southern Chocolate Shop Mystery

Author: Dorothy St. James

Genre: Cozy Mystery, 2nd in series

Publisher: Crooked Lane Books (March 13, 2018)

Page count: 352 pages
On tour with: Great Escapes Book Tours


Charity Penn grew up in Chicago and worked in advertising in Madison, Wisconsin. She never felt as if she’d found her home until she moved to Camellia Beach, South Carolina and inherited the Chocolate Box, a bean-to-bar chocolate shop on the island. Although she’s not much of a cook, the self-described chocoholic knows how to pair flavors with different varieties of chocolates to create the most amazing mouth-watering candies.


Charity, how did you first meet Dorothy?

Dorothy St. James was wandering around in a funk when I met her. She wanted to get back to writing after taking a few years off to be a full-time mom, but she wasn’t sure what to write about. Every character she’d interviewed made her doze off before the interview was over. (She was taking care of a 2 ½ year-old at the time and tended to doze off easily from lack of sleep.) And then I walked in with my arms filled with emotional baggage and personal mysteries, and Dorothy immediately sat up and took notice.

Want to dish about her?
She’s a neurotic one, my writer. I mean, I thought I had problems, and then I started telling my life story to Dorothy St. James. And I was all like, “Whoa, stop obsessing over where to put that dang comma already. Just write what I’m telling you and not worry so much about how it’s coming out until the edits.” She’s nice, though. She truly wants my story told right. She wants the truth about everything to come out. Sometimes that scares me.

Why do you think that your life has ended up being in a book?

My life is a mess. Or at least it was. I was a walking, living version of a car wreck. People were rubbernecking all over the place to see what was going on in my life. Of course all that drama has ended up in a book. Honestly, I’m surprised it took this long to happen.

There are also these pesky murders that keep happening around me. I hate it. I can’t stand to see my friends in danger, so of course I do my best to help the police conduct their investigations. Detective Gibbons is capable, but he doesn’t live on Camellia Beach. He hasn’t heard the conversations I’ve heard. And sometimes he doesn’t listen to me like he should, which is all the more reason why I’ve needed to take matters into my own hands once or twice.

Tell us about your favorite scene in the book.
I loved, loved, LOVED it when Bixby Lewis (yes, the Bixby Lewis who is the hottest pop star in the country right now) kissed me. It does amazing things to a woman’s ego to be kissed by a hunky rock star. I get tingly all over just thinking about it.

What do you like to do when you are not being actively read somewhere?
When I’m not solving mysteries on the pages of a book, I’m either making chocolate or eating it. Chocolate is my passion. Getting everyone to taste high-quality chocolate from the more flavorful cacao beans is my mission. Not all chocolates are created equal. The complex flavors you get from a specially sourced cacao bean will make you think you’ve found Nirvana.

If you could rewrite anything in your book, what would it be?
Let’s be honest with ourselves—we all sometimes make stupid decisions that we regret. I’m not too proud to admit that I might have made a mistake or two along the way. One recent one that really makes me blush is how goofy I acted around the famous and gorgeous pop star Bixby Lewis. He gave me one kiss and, apparently I lost my mind. It wasn’t my best moment. I cringe when I think about it. I acted like a silly fan-girl. I wish I had stayed cool. If I could do it again, I’d like to rewrite all of that. Some things might have happened differently if I had.

What’s Dorothy’s worst habit?
She keeps upping the stakes. I solve one problem, and bam! what I did to solve it creates an even bigger problem. I’m mean, give me a break already! I’m working hard here.

How do you feel about your life right now?
While I don’t like that people keep getting murdered around me—that’s not good—I love my life. I’m blessed. I’m truly blessed. I’m living on an idyllic Southern island. I own the best chocolate shop in the world. And I’m surrounded by people who love me.

What, if anything, would you like to change? That’s easy. My family. Let’s just say they’re not friendly people and leave it at that.

Describe the town where you live.
I live in the small town of Camellia Beach, which is located a few miles outside of the historic city of Charleston, South Carolina. At first glance, the town isn’t much to look at. The buildings could all use with a fresh coat of paint. Everything looks rusty and old. But the people who live here are gems. They’ve welcomed me with open arms and are always happy to help out with anything. And the buildings in the town don’t dominate the landscape, like has happened to some beach towns. The houses and businesses are generally one-story. The quaint small cottages that have been torn down nearly everywhere else can still be found on Camellia Beach. Also, ancient oaks trees and tall grasses are still a large part of the island. It’s wild and beautiful here. I have truly found a paradise here in Camellia Beach.

What makes you stand out from any other characters in your genre?
I grow and change (hopefully improve) with each book. I’m not a static character. I don’t always make the best decisions. But I’m trying. I’m really trying to improve. And there is nonstop action on the page. This isn’t your grandmother’s cozy mystery.


Mystery author Dorothy St. James was born in New York but raised in South Carolina. She makes her home on an artsy island community in South Carolina with her husband, a neurotic dog, and fluffy cat. Though writing has always been a passion for her, she pursued an undergraduate degree in Wildlife Biology and a graduate degree in Public Administration and Urban Planning. She put her educational experience to use, having worked in all branches and all levels of government including local, regional, state, and federal. She even spent time during college working for a non-profit environmental watchdog organization.
Switching from government service and community planning to fiction writing wasn’t as big of a change as some might think. Her government work was all about the stories of the people and the places where they live. As an urban planner, Dorothy loved telling the stories of the people she met. And from that, her desire to tell the tales that were so alive in her heart grew until she could not ignore it any longer. In 2001, she took a leap of faith and pursued her dream of writing fiction full-time.
Known for the White House Gardener Mystery series, Dorothy is going back to her roots and setting a mystery series in a Southern beach town much like the one she’s called home for the past 20 years. The Southern Chocolate Shop Mysteries combine her love of fine chocolates, quirky Southern charm, with a dash of danger.

* Dorothy St. James is the alter-ego of the award-winning multi-published author, Dorothy McFalls. She enjoys writing in several different genres. Her works have been nominated for many awards including Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award, Reviewers International Organization Award, National Reader’s Choice Award, CataRomance Reviewers’ Choice Award, and The Romance Reviews Today Perfect 10! Award. Reviewers have called her work: “amazing,” “perfect,” “filled with emotion,” and “lined with danger.”

Connect with Dorothy:
Website  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Goodreads 

Buy the book:
Amazon  |  Barnes & Noble

Thursday, March 22, 2018



Leaving behind a failed career as a magazine editor and an embarrassing stint on a reality baking show, newly divorced lifestyle entrepreneur Hope Early thought things were finally on the upswing—until she comes face-to-face with a murderer . . .

Hope’s schedule is already jam packed with recipe testing and shameless plugs for her food blog as she rushes off to attend a spring garden tour in the charming town of Jefferson, Connecticut. Unfortunately, it isn’t the perfectly arranged potted plants that grab her attention—it’s the bloody body of reviled real estate agent Peaches McCoy . . .

One of the tour guests committed murder, and all eyes are on Hope’s older sister, Claire Dixon—who, at best, saw Peaches as a professional rival. And suspicions really heat up when another murder occurs the following night. Now, with two messy murders shaking Jefferson and all evidence pointing to Claire, Hope must set aside her burgeoning brand to prove her sister’s innocence. But the closer she gets to the truth, the closer she gets to a killer intent on making sure her life goes permanently out of style . . .

Includes Recipes from Hope’s Kitchen!

Book Details

Title: The Uninvited Corpse
Author’s name: Debra Sennefelder

Genre: Cozy mystery, 1st in series
Publisher: Kensington Publishers, March 27, 2018

Page count: 304 pages
On tour with: Great Escapes Book Tours


A few of your favorite things:
Coffee, my treadmill and chocolate cake.
Things you need to throw out: My scale, my old iPod and old phones.

Things you need in order to write: Silence, my computer and an outline.
Things that hamper your writing: Noise, my computer and noise.

Things you love about writing: I love creating stories and I love the freedom I have as an author to create those stories.
Things you hate about writing: Having to wear so many hats because the job involves more than just writing. Taking care of all the other tasks means less time writing. But writing is the most important thing a writer can do.

Favorite foods: Pizza, chocolate anything and mashed potatoes.
Things that make you want to throw up: Seafood.

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

Favorite smell: Cookies baking in the oven. Heaven.
Something that makes you hold your nose: Seafood cooking.

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

Something you’re really bad at: Photography

Last best thing you ate: I made a grilled chicken salad with a creamy dressing. Delish.
Last thing you regret eating: Vanilla ice cream. I was sick, and I had a small container to use for a recipe to post on my blog, but I decided to dive into the container. It was a brand I never bought before, and it was awful. I have no idea how anyone could make bad ice cream but they did.

Things you’d walk a mile for: My dogs. I have two adorable and precocious Shih-Tzus, Susie & Billy.
Things that make you want to run screaming from the room: My dogs. There are days I’m definitely outnumbered by the Shih-Tzus.

Things to say to an author: I couldn’t put your book down.

Things to say to an author if you want to be fictionally killed off in their next book: You should write a book like Fifty Shades.

Things that make you happy: My dogs. 

Things that drive you crazy: My dogs.


Debra Sennefelder, author of the Food Blogger Mystery series and the Resale Boutique Mystery series, is an avid reader who reads across a range of genres, but mystery fiction is her obsession. Her interest in people and relationships is channeled into her novels against a backdrop of crime and mystery. When she’s not reading, she enjoys cooking and baking and as a former food blogger, she is constantly taking photographs of her food. Yeah, she’s that person.

Born and raised in New York City, she now lives and writes in Connecticut with her family. She’s worked in pre-hospital care, retail and publishing. Her writing companions are her adorable and slightly spoiled Shih-Tzus, Susie and Billy.

She is a member of Sisters in Crime, International Thriller Writers, Womens Fiction Writers Association and Romance Writers of America.

Connect with Debra:

Website  |  Blog  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Goodreads 

Buy the book:
Amazon  |  Barnes & Noble 

Wednesday, March 21, 2018



Swiss-American police officer Agnes Lüthi is on leave in Lausanne, Switzerland, recovering from injuries she sustained in her last case, when an old colleague invites her to the world’s premier watch and jewelry trade show at the grand Messe Basel Exhibition Hall. Little does Agnes know, another friend of hers, Julien Vallotton, is at the same trade show—and he’s looking for Agnes. Julien Vallotton was friends with Guy Chavanon, a master of one of Switzerland’s oldest arts: watchmaking. Chavanon died a week ago, and his daughter doesn’t believe his death was accidental. Shortly before he died, Chavanon boasted that he’d discovered a new technique that would revolutionize the watchmaking industry, and she believes he may have been killed for it. Reluctantly, Agnes agrees to investigate his death. But the world of Swiss watchmaking is guarded and secretive, and before she realizes it, Agnes may be walking straight into the path of a killer.

Tracee de Hahn's next mystery, A Well-Timed Murder, is another magnetic mystery that will engross readers from the opening page to the stunning conclusion.

Book Details:

Title: A Well-Timed Murder

Author: Tracee de Hahn

Genre: Mystery

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press /Minotaur Books (February 6, 2018)

Series: Agnes Luthi Mysteries #2

Page count: 340 pages

Touring with: Partners in Crime Book Tours


Tracee, what’s the story behind the title of your book?
It’s a play on words and ideas. Well-timed in how the murder occurred, and how it is investigated, and because it is a book about a dead watchmaker. Ultimately my protagonist, Agnes Lüthi, learns that timing is everything in the pursuit of criminals and love.

Tell us about your series. Is this book a standalone, or do readers need to read the series in order?
A Well-Timed Murder is the second in the Agnes Lüthi series, but it can absolutely be read as a standalone. In it, we pick Agnes up in the weeks following Swiss Vendetta. She is coming off sick leave and is not quite ready to go back to work when a friend asks that she investigate the death of a watchmaker. He died as the result of anaphylactic shock from peanut allergy and the authorities have ruled it death by natural causes. However, his adult daughter isn’t convinced. Once Agnes is involved she quickly learns that the world of Swiss watchmaking is secretive, but is it deadly?

Where did you grow up?
I was born in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, and lived most of my life in Kentucky. I was fortunate at various times to spend several years in Europe– in Switzerland where my husband is from, and in Venice and Paris. 

Awesome! I live in Kentucky. Who would you pick to write your biography?
Someone who would ultimately not write it. I haven’t influenced the world in a way that makes me a public figure and I wouldn’t want to expose others in my life – family, friends – to the scrutiny that goes into a biography.

What choices in life would you like to have a redo on?
I don’t believe in a redo. I suppose that if I’d caused an accident that resulted in harm to someone, or something along those lines I would absolutely think if I could do it all over again I wouldn’t have left the house that day, or I’d have hit the brakes sooner, etc. However, if you are talking about other kinds of decisions, then I think that we don’t know the consequences. There is no way to predict ‘what if’s’ so I don’t try to with redos.

If you could only save one thing from your house, what would it be?
My dogs, first and absolutely foremost. After that, my computer since I never fully trust the cyber backup. After that the choice would be too hard, but possibly an icon from the Muscovite school that’s been in my husband’s family for centuries.

If you could live anywhere in the world, where in the world would it be?
If I could truly live anywhere I’d probably be peripatetic. Late Fall in India (preferably at the Umaid Bhawan Palace Hotel in Jodhpur), a winter month in an alpine ski village, then return to the States for a few months, followed by time in Switzerland – maybe a house on the square within the castle walls of Gruyères, near where my husband attended boarding school? Afterwards, late summer and fall in France, maybe a few weeks in Paris then six weeks in the countryside? Then back to the States before starting all over again.

How did you create the plot for this book?
There are so many interesting aspects of life in Switzerland, which is where my list starts. One of my husband’s childhood friends inherited his family’s watchmaking business, and I found that fascinating. From there it was a matter of saying when and where. (After all, this is a mystery so someone dies!) Baselworld is the annual trade show in Basel. Really the most prestigious watch, jewelry and gem show in the world, and that seemed a perfect setting to launch a watch-themed murder. After visiting the show and other watch-related places I developed the details of the plot, continued with research and it grew from there.

Are any of your characters inspired by real people?
The marquise Antoinette Vallotton de Tornay (Julien and Daniel Vallotton’s aunt) is a continuing character inspired by my mother-in-law. Both women were young during the Second World War and both were engaged in the war effort. My mother-in-law was the daughter of Swedish and Canadian diplomatic families and married a Baltic baron. These life experiences, I believe, contributed to her strong sense of duty and history. Ironically most people ask me about Agnes’s mother-in-law, usually in a whisper, afraid that SHE is based on my own mother-in-law. Thankfully, no.

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?
If Agnes Lüthi found out I was going to kill her off she might talk her mother-in-law into asking me over for dinner. Then Agnes could slip a poison mushroom into my soup . . . possibly hoping her mother-in-law would be accused.

What book are you currently reading and in what format?
Currently I’m re-reading a few Charles Todd books (mainly from the Ian Rutledge series). I like to re-read portions of a series to look at the overarching arc of the story and see any changes in style, etc. I recently finished She Rides Shotgun by Jordan Harper, in hardcover and can’t say enough about this great book. On my nightstand in hardcover, The Mitford Murders by Jessica Fellowes and The Chalk Man by C.J. Tudor. In paperback, Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow, Moriarty by Anthony Horowitz, The Hanging Girl by Jussi Adler-Olsen, By Gaslight by Steven Price, and Harpoon by Nitsana Darshan-Leitner and Samuel M Katz.

Wow! That's a list! Do you have a routine for writing?
Panic, then get to it.

Where is your favorite library, and what do you love about it?
The State Library at Potsdammer Platz in Berlin is my favorite public library – partly because of the beautiful space created by architect Hans Scharoun, and partly because of the role it played in the film Wings of Desire by Wim Wenders. The library that I would most like to call my own personal library is the 18th century Biblioteca Joanina in the historic center of the University of Coimbra, Coimbra, Portugal. Today it houses a portion of their collection and is such a perfect ‘vault’ that the antique books are safe there, helped by the dense oak construction and the resident bats, who every night eat any insects that appear.

What would your dream office look like?
Pretty much like my office now. Great windows to one side with a chair in front for reading, bookcases facing my desk with some favorite pieces of art above, and a fireplace behind me. The majority of my books are on utilitarian shelves in the attic (which is a full finished floor, not a garret!). That is also my annex office– a door used as a desk, plenty of wall space to hang notes, all too far from the ground to be disturbed (plus, great windows and natural light!)

Sounds like my dream office! What are you working on now?
Agnes’s next adventure takes her from Switzerland to Paris tracking the killer of a famous chef.


There was a crowd but none of them mattered. Agnes Lüthi had eyes for only one man, the one she’d nicknamed the Roach. The one she’d only dreamt of finding in Switzerland.

She moved quickly despite her injured leg, focused on her destination, closing her umbrella when she reached the high canopy. A chain of busses discharged passengers in front of the Messe Basel Exhibition Halles, and they flowed past her toward the doors as if the world’s premier watch and jewelry show might sell out of goods if they dallied. She had never before been to Baselworld, but from the look of the well-dressed crowd judged it was a fitting place to find this particular man.

She was within grasping distance of a door handle when Marcel Aubry appeared from behind a kiosk. He was cloaked in a long, belted raincoat and had a finger pressed to his ear, listening. Before she could speak, he grasped her wrist with his free hand, and pulled her behind the advertising stand, out of sight of the glass front of the lobby.

“Slight change of plan,” Aubry said, his voice low and hurried. “The Roach is headed this way.” He frowned, listening to the voices in his earpiece.

Agnes moved closer to Aubry; it felt like stepping into a shadow. He was a big man, not exactly fat, but big enough to make her feel slim. She could hear the scratch of a voice broadcast from his earpiece, but not the words. Her pulse quickened. They’d worked together for years in financial crimes. Despite that, she’d never seen him run a field operation. This was an important arrest for him, one he’d not leave to others. She was thrilled to be included.

“Did you ever think you’d see us catch him?” Aubry said to her, still focused on the chatter in his ear.
“No, and I don’t believe it yet today.” She’d had the Roach in her grasp three times, only to have him scurry back into a crack at the last moment. All of Europe and half of Asia was looking for him. In addition to Swiss francs, he’d stolen millions of euros, yen, dollars, and pounds—all electronically. Despite his methods, she’d always believed that he occasionally appeared in person at a place he’d targeted. Now it looked as if her suspicions were proving true.

“This time he’s definitely here,” said Aubry. “Problem is, the place is littered with exits and there’s a record crowd. Feels like half the world’s come to Baselworld. Good for the economy, bad for us, since on-site security doesn’t want a fuss disturbing their clientele.” He nodded. “Anyway, I’m glad you’re here to see it.”

“I was nearby when you called. I left my mother-in-law at the Beyeler Museum like a bride at the altar. She may not forgive me.” Agnes watched the crowd stream into the building, oblivious of the police operation. Aubry had orchestrated a smooth intervention despite having to move quickly.

“Your call was the best news I’ve had in weeks,” she added. “A few days ago one of my kids accused me of missing the criminals.”

Vincent – her oldest – had phrased it more bluntly: that she liked spending time with the bad guys more than with them. Before she could protest, her youngest son had added that at least she wasn’t a criminal herself. They’d all laughed. It was true, she did miss work. Surely that wasn’t a bad message for the boys? Their father had had a strong work ethic.

Aubry pulled his wrist up and spoke into a microphone, asking a question. He looked at her. “When are you officially back on the job?”

“Three days. Monday.” She gave her wool jacket a downward tug and straightened the matching skirt. Her stint in hospital had melted a few kilos away. Nearly being killed wasn’t the easiest diet, but it was no doubt effective. A few more kilos and she would consider thanking the man who had knifed her.

Aubry held up his hand, listening to chatter in his earpiece. “Any minute now,” he whispered, as if they could be overheard. “He’s heading to the lobby. It’s perfect. Fewer civilians and more space gives us an advantage.”

“He’ll run.” Agnes shifted weight off her bad leg. Critically, she eyed the long bank of doors. The building’s sleek overhang soared across the street, sheltering trams, taxis, a restaurant, and a flower stall. She hoped Aubry really did have all exits covered. She had a vague notion that the five or six halls of the Messe Basel facility were connected by upper corridors and enclosed walkways. It was a large complex.

Aubry tapped his thigh impatiently. His gaze strayed to her leg. “How’s life in violent crimes?”

A voice sputtered in his ear and Aubry listened, sparing her the need to answer. “He’s on the move,” Aubry said quietly.

Agnes tensed.

“Now,” Aubry shouted, running to the doors and yanking one open.

Two men in suits moved from another angle and Agnes spotted their earpieces. The men broke into a half run, and a few bystanders gasped while others pulled out mobile phones set to record video. The officers pushed ahead toward the turnstiles leading to the show, and Agnes followed. Aubry put a hand to his earpiece and stopped her. He angled his head down and she could hear voices talking on top of one another. Someone yelled and Aubry flinched.

Suddenly, in the distance, car tires screeched. There was a loud thump and a scream, followed seconds later by other shouts. Agnes turned toward the noise and Aubry followed. They ran to the right side of the building, ignoring the drizzle. The side street was closed to all but exhibitors’ vehicles and Agnes pushed her way through the gathered crowd. What she saw stopped her in her tracks. Aubry, close behind, collided with her.

The street was dedicated to instruments of luxury and speed, and in the middle of the road a gleaming red Ferrari had struck a man. He lay in a shallow pool of rainwater a meter from the front bumper. Both car and man were broken. The hood of the car was dented and smeared with blood. The man’s leg was angled midcalf, and the fabric of his pants was split by a bone. Blood spilled from the back of his head, pooling around his hair, missing with rain and running in rivulets to the curb. Agnes recognized the man immediately. She put a hand to her mouth. A second glance at the unique shape of his ears confirmed it: the Roach.


Excerpt from A Well-Timed Murder by Tracee de Hahn. Copyright © 2018 by Tracee de Hahn. Reproduced with permission from Tracee de Hahn. All rights reserved.


Tracee de Hahn is author of the Agnes Lüthi mysteries, which were inspired by her years living in Switzerland. Prior to writing full time she practiced architecture and was head of university alumni relations at a major west coast university. She and her Swiss-architect husband live in southwest Virginia with their Jack Russell Terriers.

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

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

Tuesday, March 20, 2018



Death is the closest thing to omnipotence we will experience in our brief time on this planet. It is an all-encompassing power, binding everything, and providing a cold certainty to an otherwise uncertain existence. The firm grip of this assurance reaches much further than the extinguishment of life; it greedily claims the hope and happiness of those who remain. It is a definite ending, but is it also a provable beginning?

Linda Granger did not see death coming.

Sleep shielded her from the unfolding horror. The looming headlights and the panicked screams of her husband were beyond her conscious state. When her head shattered the windshield, the dream about her son ended, sending her into what’s next. Linda was gone before the car rolled seven times and wrapped around a large oak tree. Her husband, Stephen, was not as fortunate. He died two minutes later. Linda had fallen asleep from emotional exhaustion. She died with regrets.

Book Details:

Title: Death Theory

Author’s name: John D Mimms

Genre: mystery, thriller, paranormal

Publisher: Draft 2 Digital
Publication (January 30, 2018)

Paperback: 320 pages

Touring with: Partners in Crime Book Tours


Things you need in order to write:  Quiet and coffee.
Things that hamper your writing: Interruptions and football season

Things you love about writing: Creating a whole world to play around in, also touching people emotionally.
Things you hate about writing: Editing.

Hardest thing about being a writer: Finding the time to write without interruptions.

Easiest thing about being a writer: Coming up with stories. I have a hundred of them swimming about in my head

Things you love about where you live: I live on a mountain with lots of privacy and a beautiful view.
Things that make you want to move:  When it snows, I can’t leave.

Things you never want to run out of: Iced tea, coffee, and books.
Things you wish you’d never bought: An above ground swimming pool. It is a money pit

Favorite foods: Mexican, Seafood, and steak.
Things that make you want to throw up: Anchovies.

Favorite smell: Apple cinnamon
Something that makes you hold your nose: The list is long and obvious.

Something you’re really good at: Writing.

Something you’re really bad at: Singing.

Something you wish you could do: Travel to Europe.
Something you wish you’d never learned to do: Change a diaper.

Things you always put in your books: Trains
Things you never put in your books:  Graphic sex.

Favorite places you’ve been: Disneyworld and Virginia.
Places you never want to go to again: Green Bay.

Favorite genre: Science fiction, thriller, historic.

Books you would ban: Bodice ripper novels (sorry ladies). I do like Nicholas Sparks, though.

Most daring thing you’ve ever done: Scuba diving.

Something you chickened out from doing: Bungee jumping.


Death is the closest thing to omnipotence we will experience in our brief time on this planet. It is an all-encompassing power, binding everything, and providing a cold certainty to an otherwise uncertain existence. The firm grip of this assurance reaches much further than the extinguishment of life; it greedily claims the hope and happiness of those who remain. It is a definite ending, but is it also a provable beginning?


Linda Granger did not see death coming.

Sleep shielded her from the unfolding horror. The looming headlights and the panicked screams of her husband were beyond her conscious state. When her head shattered the windshield, the dream about her son ended, sending her into what’s next. Linda was gone before the car rolled seven times and wrapped around a large oak tree. Her husband, Stephen, was not as fortunate. He died two minutes later. Linda had fallen asleep from emotional exhaustion. She died with regrets.

Chapter 1

Jeff’s sheets were drenched in sweat. He strained to hear because he wanted to continue the conversation he had been having. The bass drum of his pulse throbbed in his ears, making hearing impossible. He sat up and glanced about frantically. Where had she gone?

As sleep gave way to the waking world, dread filled him. He remembered the terrible truth. These muddled conversations with his mother had become nightly occurrences since his parents’ accident. The last words he shared with his mother were over the phone, and they were harsh. The next time he picked up the phone, mere hours later, it was the Missouri State Police asking him to come to the hospital. It has been over a year since the terrible night, yet the pain had not gone away. In some ways, it grew worse.

Jeff rolled on his side as tears streamed down his cheeks. In his dream, he told his mother he loved her. He wondered if she could hear him. Somehow, he believed it might be possible. His grieving heart longed for a way to communicate with his late parents.

Jeff rolled over and tried to go back to sleep. It was impossible. He eventually got up and opened the blinds. It rained last night and a steamy mist shielded the street from view. This was the perfect morning to stay in bed and he almost did if not for two things. His sheets were soaked and he was excited about today. Even though he needed extra sleep, since he would be staying up all night, he just couldn’t hold back the excitement of investigating with his fourth paranormal group in as many months. Missouri Spirit Seekers claim to do purely scientific investigations, but the three previous groups he joined did as well. He hoped this time would be different.

They would be investigating Pythian Castle tonight, the most ‘haunted’ location in Springfield, not too far from Jeff’s alma mater, Missouri State. The castle was a very cool historical site, but to Jeff, it was another opportunity to find answers for life’s greatest mystery -death.

Although the investigation was still twelve hours away, nervous anticipation consumed him. He hoped this was not another séance based, sage burning, ghost hunt like most of the others. His previous groups were as far away from science as one could get.

Jeff brewed a pot of coffee and microwaved a bowl of instant oatmeal, before sitting down to watch his recording of the show which started him on the path to paranormal investigation. He viewed it often, but it had become a ritual to watch on the day of an investigation. If Jeff were counting, this would be his eighty-third time to watch.

The show starred two men, who were electricians by trade, investigating haunted places using the scientific method. They gathered measurable scientific evidence in their investigations. In this particular episode, they were investigating the catacombs underneath an old church in Baltimore.

What peaked Jeff’s interest were the Electronic Voice Phenomenon the men captured on their digital recorders. He wondered if EVP’s are actually the voices of the dead. The guys on the show didn’t commit one way or the other, they just presented the recordings.

“You up above,” a disembodied voice said.

“The way through,” another one whispered.

The most eerie utterance of them all said, “Come down here among us.”

Jeff’s reaction was the same every time he watched; chills intermingled with hope and fear ran up his spine.

Jeff reached into a box under the coffee table and retrieved his digital recorder. He held it in his hands as if it were an object of holy veneration. Jeff recorded his own EVP one night several months earlier at the scene of his parent’s accident. Short, incredible, and heart-breaking; his mother seemed to call his name from beyond. The EVP was still on his recorder, even though he had backed it up to a dozen sources. He would never delete it from any device. Never.

A loud thud rattled the blinds on the front door. Jeff jumped, almost dropping the recorder. His alarm lasted only a moment when he recognized the sound of the newspaper carrier’s rattle-trap station wagon puttering up the street. He peeled back the blinds in time to see the tail lights disappear into the mist. Jeff was still in his underwear with a gaping fly, but he figured his rural setting, coupled with the fog, would spare him any indecent exposure charges.

Jeff scooped up the paper, almost losing his balance on the wet concrete, and then backed through the door. He plopped down on the sofa and began to unfold the massive log of news. He was heading straight for the sports section when an article caught his eye. The title read:

Springfield … the Most Haunted City in Missouri?

The Kansas City Royals box scores could wait. Jeff dove right into the article. The ghosts of Phelps Grove Park, Bass Country Inn, Drury University, Landers Theater, Springfield National Cemetery, University Plaza Hotel, and Pythian Castle were all mentioned prominently by the author. Jeff had investigated Phelps Grove Park with one of his previous groups. One of the members claimed he saw the infamous spectral bride near the bridge, but Jeff had no such luck. He never had success when it came to firsthand experiences. Either everyone else is lying or perhaps Jeff is walking ghost repellent. He didn’t think they were lying, at least not everyone who made a paranormal claim. His recording of his mother was enough to keep faith in the paranormal.

He read the claims of Drury University with great interest. There were allegedly several ghosts, in a few buildings, which had taken residence there since the school’s founding in 1873. The saddest one was a little girl who died in a fire. Her phantom laughter could be heard from time to time in one of the women’s dorms.

Jeff enjoyed a good ghost story since he was a kid, but these were more than merely a spectral yarn. Each story offered a small glimmer of hope.

He didn’t read about Pythian Castle; there was no need. He had spent so much time researching it the last couple of weeks, he could recite the history word for word. The shadow spirits who allegedly resided in the basement intrigued him the most. They had been reported so often over the years, there was little doubt that something unusual was occurring in the depths of the castle.

Jeff finally checked the box scores, lamenting another loss by his favorite team. He scanned the comics before tossing the paper on the floor. He trudged to the bathroom and took a long, hot shower. Afterward, he put on a fresh pair of boxers and a T-shirt before stretching out on the couch. He fell asleep watching Netflix. If he dreamed of his parents again, he did not remember.

Jeff arrived at Pythian Castle an hour before dusk. The rainy morning had given way to a perfectly clear early evening. The ghostly apparition of the full moon glowed in the eastern sky as the sun began to dip. The large tower on front of the castle cast a long shadow over his truck as he pulled in and parked. He ascended the stone steps onto an expansive porch where a very large woman with a mystical fashion sense met him at the front door.

“Hello … Jack?” she said.

“Jeff,” he corrected. “You must be Swoosie.”

Swoosie half-nodded and half-bowed. She reminded him of a fortune teller he visited one time, just for kicks.

“Would you like a charm for protection tonight?” Swoosie asked, reaching into a velvet bag and retrieving what appeared to be a tiny silk pillow.

“No, thanks … I’m good,” Jeff said. He couldn’t help smirking a little.

Swoosie noticed.

“Suit yourself,” she huffed. “Spirits can pick up on those less experienced in this field. They tend to prey more on them.”

“Good,” Jeff said. “Maybe I will get some good evidence.”

Swoosie narrowed her pudgy eyelids and motioned for a man who was milling about awkwardly, studying old pictures on the wall. 
“Preston,” she called with a snap of her fingers.

He was a middle-aged man with a greasy ring of dark hair circling a large bald spot. His clothing was a mish mash of suit pants and a Molly Hatchett T-shirt. The shirt and pin stripe pants were riddled with stains.

“How are you?” Preston asked breathlessly. It seemed his pot belly was a strain for him to carry.

“Fine, Preston,” Jeff said. “Nice to meet you.”

“Oh … I think Mr. Leach is preferable,” Preston said. “I could be your daddy.”

“Not likely,” Jeff thought.

“I’m putting the two of you together tonight since you are both new to this,” Swoosie said. “You know … strength in numbers.”

Both men’s puzzled expressions testified their bewilderment of Swoosie’s logic as if to point out that it would make more sense to put them with an experienced investigator.

“I’m a fairly experienced investigator,” Jeff said. “Tonight, makes my twentieth investigation.”

Swoosie’s condescending smile let him know she still considered him a novice. She turned and then waddled over to a sofa in the foyer where her daughter and a couple of other men waited. Their familiar banter showed them to be a clique.

“Okay, Mr. Leach,” Jeff said. “Where should we start?”

This group didn’t set up night vision cameras or environmental equipment as he hoped. Each member was only armed with a flashlight, digital recorder, and maybe a camera. Jeff was sure most of them carried a silk charm pillow in their pocket.

“I think they want us to go the basement,” Mr. Leach said impatiently. “Didn’t you hear what Swoosie said?”

Swoosie was much larger than Mr. Leach, yet she seemed a bit more agile as he watched his partner shuffle down the corridor.

“Okay,” Jeff mumbled before following him down the stone stairs to the basement.

They picked a far corner in the dark, dingy basement, and then set their digital recorders on a wooden table. The musty smell of old buildings had become synonymous with ghosts in Jeff’s mind. Even though he knew better, he sometimes entertained the idea of it being a ‘ghost odor’.

The sun was beginning to set through one of the basement windows, so they agreed to wait until full dark before beginning their session.

“Hey … you know this used to hold POWs during World War Two?” Jeff said, nodding at the old cells across the room. The iron doors had been removed many years ago on all but one.

“It was an orphanage at one time, built by the Knights of Pythias,” Mr. Leach countered.

“Really?” Jeff said, a little confused at why an orphanage would be more interesting than a POW prison.

“Yeah, can you imagine how many kids died here?” Mr. Leach mused.

Jeff’s stomach twisted. His partner seemed a little too gleeful about dead children.

“Yeah,” Jeff said distantly. He watched the last rays of the sun disappear behind the shrubbery outside. When it was completely dark, he said, “Well, shall we get started?”

Jeff jumped when a flashlight beam flared in his eyes.

“Can I ask you something, Jeff?” Mr. Leach asked, lowering his flashlight.


“How did you get into paranormal stuff?” Mr. Leach asked.

“Curiosity,” Jeff began and then anger began to simmer. He didn’t know why the question upset him so, it was benign and practical. Perhaps it was his partner’s tone. “It’s really nobody’s business,” Jeff snapped.

“Fair enough,” Mr. Leach said. “What did your fiancée say about it?”

Jeff glared at Mr. Leach in the darkness. How did he know he had a fiancée?

“What makes you think I had a fiancée?” Jeff asked, pointedly.

“I know things,” Mr. Leach replied. His coy response echoing from the darkness sounded like the prelude to a horror movie.

Jeff was angry. Mr. Leach seemed to have no boundaries. Jeff’s fiancée was a sore spot. She had been a former fiancée for almost a year.

“Why don’t you tell me her name?” Jeff said, a little too loud. Shushes hissed from deep in the darkness as his voice echoed off the stone walls. It seemed the whole building heard his question.

There was a very long pause. Jeff almost thought he was alone until the answer startled him.

“I can’t see that,” Mr. Leach answered. “Only events and feelings.”

“What are you … some kinda Jedi Master?” Jeff asked.

“I’m psychic,” Mr. Leach wheezed. His last word echoed about the basement, bringing more shushes from around the building.

“Oh,” Jeff whispered. He had encountered these people before; every paranormal group seemed to have them. Out of the dozen or so self-proclaimed psychics Jeff had known in his life, there was only one he believed legitimate. An old shut-in, who he delivered prescriptions to while in college, told him some interesting things about his life that came to pass a short time later.

“So, where is my fiancée?” Jeff asked.

There was a long silence before Mr. Leach replied flatly. “With another man, I’m afraid.”

Jeff didn’t say anything. He knew she was with another man now. Lurid images filled his head as to what they may be doing right now. Acid boiled in his guts and his heart began to pound. He didn’t expect this answer; he was looking for more of a geographical location. She had been with this schmuck for six months, two weeks, and three days, but he wasn’t counting.

“Does that shock you?” Mr. Leach whispered.

“You’re the psychic … you tell me,” Jeff barked. “Look, I just want to focus on the investigation, can we do that now?”

More shushes ensued followed by a booming female voice asking them to be quiet. Swoosie had some lungs.

They were so engrossed in their argument, neither man noticed the single cell door slowly swing open and a black shadow dart down the passageway. The air grew thick and uncomfortable, but both men thought it was from their awkward conversation.

Mr. Leach didn’t answer. A moment later, Jeff heard the beep of a digital recorder turning on. The small red recording light resembled a one-eyed demon in the complete darkness. Jeff knew he hurt the guy’s feelings, but he didn’t care. Mr. Leach had trodden on areas of Jeff’s life where he wasn’t welcome. In fact, no one was welcome. His fiancée had been the last living member of anything resembling family for Jeff. She had tried to get him to see a shrink to cope with his parent’s death, but he refused. Thus, the wedge between them was forged.

On the surface, Jeff seemed to recover. He tried to move on with his life. His preacher once told him that time is a river, washing away all pains and transgressions. Yet, for those who grieve, time is often an ocean. It ebbs and flows, sometimes exposing the pain lurking beneath the surface of our consciousness with each experience.

“Truth,” Jeff thought.

He finally turned on his digital recorder and began to alternate questions with Mr. Leach.

Is anyone with us?”

“Are you angry?”

“What is your name?”

“How old are you?”

“Why are you here?”

“When did you die?”

They repeated this process several times in different areas of the building. They never heard anything. Hopefully, there would be some evidence on the recording.

Jeff found it difficult to focus. Of course, he was tired, yet it was much more than fatigue. Mr. Leach had upset him, there was no denying it. The thing bothering him the most was the image running through his head; His fiancée and some faceless man with a Chippendale’s body were in bed together. He tried to push it aside and focus on the reason he was here. When he turned his thoughts to his parents, it did not help. He kept seeing the make-shift white cross memorial at the site of his parents’ crash. The same cross where he had recorded his mother’s voice. It wasn’t only the mental image distracting him. His mother’s one-word response echoed in his head after every EVP question – “Jeff”. A few times he thought he heard her voice coming from the darkness – “Jeff”.

Jeff knew it was fatigue, it had to be. If not, Mr. Leach would have heard something.

Jeff left Sunday morning frustrated. He sat in his truck and watched the last act unfold in what had been an all-night circus. Swoosie, her daughter, Mr. Leach, and a few other men sat in folding chairs arranged in a circle on the front lawn. They had asked Jeff to join them, but he respectfully declined. They burned sage while performing a cleansing ritual.

“We can’t have any spirits following us home,” Swoosie’s daughter proclaimed. “This’ll keep ‘em put.”

The obese Swoosie sat with her back to him. Her butt dangled on either side of the stressed chair as the legs sank into the soft and dewy sod. She swung a burning leaf around her head, making her resemble an elephant trying to douse the flames of a burning tree.

Jeff realized the only way he would get anywhere is starting his own team. He turned the ignition, causing his lights to fall on the group. They turned and glowered as if he farted and belched in church. He smiled and waved as he shifted the truck into gear.

Missouri Spirit Seekers,” Jeff muttered as he left the gate, “seems more like shit seekers.”


Excerpt from Death Theory by John D. Mimms. Copyright © 2017 by John D. Mimms. Reproduced with permission from John D. Mimms. All rights reserved.

Read an in-depth interview with John Mimms.


John D. Mimms is a business owner, paranormal researcher and author. John served as the Technical Director for a TAPS (The Atlantic Paranormal Society) family paranormal research group in Central Arkansas. During his four-year tenure with the organization, he helped supervise over 100 investigations and wrote more than sixteen technical articles. Paul Bradford, of Ghost Hunters International fame, read one of John's articles titled A Christmas Carol Debunked live on the air of the Parazona Radio program on Christmas Day 2009. John also wrote a definitive technical/training manual, which is a comprehensive guide on equipment usage, investigation protocol and scientific theory for paranormal research.

In 2009 John decided to couple his knowledge of paranormal phenomena with his lifelong love of literary fiction. John's first published work, The Tesla Gate, is the first installment of a three-part, heart-wrenching, sci-fi/paranormal drama. 
Book 1 of this unique, ground-breaking story released July 2014 through Open Road Media. In January 2016, Open Road Media released The Tesla Gate Book 2: The Myriad Resistance. Book 3: The Eye of Madness is slated for release September 27, 2016. Though fictional, the trilogy is based on scientific, paranormal theory.

Publishers Weekly declared about The Tesla Gate in the March 3, 2014 issue 
"...touching sci-fi story that takes the reader on an unlikely road-trip adventure . . . a fast read with some entertaining ideas and a real emotional core in the relationship between father and son."

The Examiner proclaimed in June 2014
"Entertaining as well as poignant, this book is extremely imaginative in its basic premise as well as the many colorful and emotionally compelling events that take place."

John resides and writes on a mountaintop in central Arkansas with his wife and two sons.

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