Tuesday, July 31, 2018



Honolulu landlord Wilson McKenna can smell a scam from across the room. So when one of his tenants loses everything in a work-at-home scam involving a new perfume, he’s shocked. With his wedding just weeks away, McKenna has to make a tough decision. Does he evict a woman who’s down on her luck? Or take time out from wedding planning to help his tenant?

Turning the case over to his PI-in-training friend Chance Logan seems like the perfect solution—until Chance tells McKenna he needs a wingman for a visit to fragrance entrepreneur Skye Pilkington-Winchester. McKenna’s sure he can keep everyone happy by helping Chance this one time. But nothing is ever as easy as it seems, and soon McKenna’s up to his board shorts in hot water. His tenant’s simple fragrance scam might involve industrial espionage, Skye’s assistant is murdered, and McKenna’s bride-to-be accuses him of having cold feet.

As McKenna and Chance dig deeper, it seems so much of what they’re being told doesn’t pass the sniff test. And the only way to get his life back is to find the dead girl’s missing boyfriend, unmask a killer, and finish up in time for the wedding. Other than that, it’s just another day in paradise.

Book Details;

Title: The Scent of Waikiki

Author: Terry Ambrose

Genre: Cozy Mystery

Series: Trouble in Paradise, book 9

Publisher: Satori (July 19, 2018)

Print Length: 330 pages

On tour with: Great Escapes Book Tours


 McKenna is a former skip tracer who moved to Hawaii after losing his job and the woman he loved. After several years of being miserable, he found his purpose when one of his tenants got him involved in a murder investigation. He’s been chasing killers ever since and now works with Chance Logan, who wants to become a private investigator.


McKenna, how did you first meet Terry?
We met on a lovely summer day while he was visiting Kauai. He was looking out through the slats of the blinds at all that gorgeous sunshine and got the brilliant idea to write a mystery series about a broken-down, former skip tracer. He thought we hit it off right away. Me—not so much. I mean, who wants to hang out with a guy who knows exactly how to make you miserable?

Sounds like you might like to dish about him?
So glad you asked. Terry might think he’s in control of my stories, but he doesn’t get it. What happens on the page is my business. He keeps butting in and trying to make things worse for me. Personally, I think he’s got some sort of mental thing going on that he’s only happy when I’m not.

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

Because I keep winding up chasing down bad guys and all these mystery readers would rather read about it than go out and solve their own crimes.

Tell us about your favorite scene in the book.

I don’t want to give away the good stuff, but my favorite scene was once my least favorite. I met this guy named Steward Johnson, and he decided to kidnap me so we could chase down a bad guy. I thought Steward was a nutcase at the time. Well, he probably is, but that’s another issue altogether. While I didn’t like careening around the streets of Honolulu, now that I look back on it, I can laugh about the whole thing. Sort of. Maybe not. You know what? I have a little planning to do. Call it a revenge trip for my writer. Anybody know a good stunt driver?

What do you like to do when someone's not reading about you?
I’m a landlord and have landlord stuff to do. Lately, it seems I have to do all of that in between books. So don’t think just because I’m not chasing some bad guy that I’m not busy. Besides, I’m getting married soon and that’s going to keep me busy for a while. I’m also thinking about starting an anti-junk mail service. For a small fee, we’ll follow the mail truck around and throw all the junk straight into a recycling bin. Nice, huh? My customers will have the ultimate in convenience and  peace of mind. They’ll never have to look at another piece of junk mail and it will all be properly recycled.

Brilliant! If you could rewrite anything in your book, what would it be?
Anything? Well, I’d make myself taller, about ten years younger, and give me some of those kung fu voodoo moves my friend Chance Logan has. Come to think of it, I might just swap places with him. He’s got money, brains, and good looks. I love it. Somebody give me a pen, I’ve got rewrites to do.

Tell the truth. What do you think of your fellow characters?
It’s kind of like real life. I like my friends and don’t like the bad guys. My friend Chance and I get along really well. He and I banter back and forth and occasionally I even let him win a couple of those. And Benni, my bride-to-be is phenomenal. Of course, I’m head-over-heels in love with her and she’d probably beat the crap out of me if I didn’t say that. So, she’s phenomenal. Loving. Caring. Is that enough, honey? Looks like we’re good.

What impression do you make on people when they first meet you? How about after they've known you for a while?

When I first meet people, they usually think I’m a grumpy old coot. After they get to know me, they realize I’m not really that old.

Ha! Tell us about your best friend.
Chance Logan has turned into one of my good friends. On the plus side, he’s young, filthy rich, and wants to be a private investigator. He’s not without his faults, though. He’s been through a number of careers—most of which ended badly. The worst was probably when he decided he wanted to be an actor. He landed the role of leading man in an action-adventure movie, but then he got drunk one night, stole the studio’s helicopter from the set, and crashed it. Chance doesn’t like to talk about the incident for some reason, but I say let bygones be bygones. It’s not like he burned down the set . . . wait, maybe I’d better ask him about that.

What do you like best about Chance Logan?
Chance has lots of money. That makes him a great sidekick because it’s like traveling with a human ATM. In the old days, back when I was skip tracing, I had to pry information out of people in any number of ways. With Chance around, I just say, “Cash please.” Next thing you know, some guy who was reluctant to talk is singing like a lark.
The thing I like least about Chance might be his lock-picking skills. I mean, who spends two minutes working on a lock when you’re standing out in an open hallway? He needs to get it together because I’m too old to wear an orange jumpsuit. Have you ever thought about how much those things must itch on a hot summer day?

Describe where you live.
Honolulu is a typical big city in many ways. But it’s also distinctly Hawaiian because the mishmash of cultures that make up Hawaii all come together here. Of course, we have a fabulous beach, world-class shopping, and great restaurants—most of which I never bother with because we also have so many tourists. Let’s face it, those of us who live in paradise can do all the cool stuff anytime we want. The tourists only have a couple of weeks. As a result, we go about our daily lives trying to avoid the tourists who are having all the fun. Maybe we need a tourist-free day so us locals could enjoy the place once in a while.

Describe an average day in your life.
I’m a landlord so my typical day is pretty boring. The apartment complex I manage only has twenty units, so it’s not a huge job to deal with the tenants. I sometimes have to arrange for plumbers and pest exterminators and window washers. But by and large, I have time during a typical day to be inquisitive about any number of things, and that sometimes involves a murder.

What makes you stand out from any other characters in your genre?

You mean other than those loud aloha shirts we wear here in the islands? I’m funnier than most of those other amateur sleuths. And a lot of them are women. Don’t get me wrong, I’m getting ready to marry a woman. So I like women. But I’ve been known to be a tad snarky at times—okay, a lot snarky.

Will you encourage Terry to write a sequel?

Encourage? No. Demand? Now we’re talking. It’s expensive living in paradise. So if I’m going to stay here, he’s got to keep writing stories about me. On top of that, I kind of like the attention. I have fans . . . so that’s kind of fun. Imagine that—me—with fans.


Terry Ambrose is a former skip tracer who tracked down deadbeats for a living. He’s long since turned his talents to writing mysteries and thrillers. Several of his books have been award finalists and in 2014 his thriller, Con Game, won the San Diego Book Awards for Best Action-Thriller. He likes cool photography, funny mysteries, and finding the oddest things while walking on the beach. He’s currently working on the Seaside Cove Bed & Breakfast Mystery series.

Connect with Terry:
Website  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Goodreads 

Buy the book:

Sunday, July 29, 2018



Adina can’t resist snooping when someone she knows turns up dead. Again.

When a colleague at a prestigious think tank meets a violent death, Adina’s not convinced any of the obvious suspects disliked him enough to want him dead. Can the young research assistant and a lovable rescue pup help the police put together the pieces of the puzzle?

Killer Reputation is the third mystery in the Adina Donati, Accidental Sleuth Series by Cassidy Salem. The books are standalone reads and can be read in any order.

Book Details:

Title: Killer Reputation

Author’s name: Cassidy Salem

Genre: Cozy Mystery

Series: Adina Donati, Accidental Sleuth Book 3

Publisher: C. Salem (June 15, 2018)

Print length: 182 pages
On tour with: Great Escapes Book Tours



Things you love about writing: The opportunity to create characters who can be anything and everything you want them to be and do anything, including things as an author I might never dare to do.
Things you hate about writing: Outlining. I know it’s a good practice, but it doesn’t seem to work for me. When I tried to write to an outline, I found myself lacking motivation to write. After all, I already knew what would happen in the end. Over time, I have become more of pantser – I let the characters decide where the story will go.

Easiest thing about being a writer: There is nothing easy about being a writer.  It is hard work, challenging and satisfying, but not easy.
Hardest thing about being a writer: The pressure to publish more books. I am not a fast writer. Sometimes, I feel like I might be the slowest writer on earth.

Words that describe you: Optimistic, energetic, driven.
Words that describe you but you wish they didn’t: Klutzy, clumsy, obstinate. 

Favorite foods: Chocolate and cheese cake. And don’t get me started about the delights of chocolate cheese cake.
Things that make you want to throw up: The smell of pickles. Any kind of pickles. When we have company, my husband always asks one of our friends to put them out for me. 

Favorite music: I am a great fan of folk music and 70s rock, however I enjoy most genres of music.
Music that make your ears bleed: Off-key karaoke. I find it painful to listen to.  

Favorite beverage: Diet Coke. (Yes, I know it’s not good for me but it’s a hard habit to break.)
Something that gives you a pickle face: The smell of pickles! Baked beans, broccoli, and most cooked vegetables. (Hint: I am a picky eater).

People you consider as heroes: People who volunteer and take time to help others, even when they don’t have to.

People with a big L on their foreheads: Anyone who thinks it is okay to abuse helpless animals.  

Last best thing you ate: A wonderfully seasoned vegetarian lasagna. 

Last thing you regret eating: The ridiculously large portion of Reese’s Cheesecake I ordered  at the Cheesecake Factory when I visited San Francisco last month. Not because it wasn’t good. It was divine – I simply shouldn’t have finished it.

Things you always put in your books: Dogs. I love dogs and they can add color to any storyline.  
Things you never put in your books: When I started writing fiction, I made a conscious decision not to include any graphic descriptions of violence or sexual encounters in my books. 

Favorite places you’ve been: Norway. So many fjords and waterfalls, and all that lush greenery. Absolutely gorgeous.  

Places you never want to go to again: Athens. No offense to any Greek readers in the audience. I actually loved other parts of Greece. It’s just Athens was hot and crowded, and very polluted. My sinuses were not happy.

People you’d like to invite to dinner:  My extended family – a reunion of sorts. I actually have first cousins whom I have never met. Invitations aside, it’s not likely to ever happen as we are dispersed throughout the United States and abroad. But it would be cool.
People you’d cancel dinner on: Any politician running for office. 

Favorite things to do: Traveling and seeing new places, especially out in nature. Recently went on road trip to Southwestern U.S. and hiked in several National Parks in Utah, Arizona and Colorado – it was totally amazing. We even celebrated my birthday at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. 

Things you’d run through a fire wearing gasoline pants to get out of doing: Standing in front of a group of strangers naked, or undergoing any number of those unpleasant and/or invasive medical exams. 

Something you wish you could do: I always wanted to learn to speak five languages. This is probably why the main character in my books, Adina Donati, speaks English, Italian, Spanish, French, and Hebrew.
Something you wish you’d never learned to do: Play games on Facebook. I am too easily tempted by the likes of Candy Crush . . . 



Cassidy Salem has always been an avid reader. She is especially fond of mysteries (both cozy and traditional) and police procedurals. Over the years, her favorite mystery authors have included Agatha Christie, Kathy Reichs, Mary Higgins Clark, and John Grisham.

When she’s not reading, she enjoys music and spending time with family and friends, and travels with her husband and son whenever possible. Her travels have taken her to destinations throughout the United States, Europe, and Scandinavia.

Cassidy Salem is the author of the Adina Donati Mystery Series, which includes Think Murder, Dying for Data, and Killer Reputation. Cassidy co-authors, together with Christa Nardi, a YA mystery series, which includes The Mysterious Package, Mrs. Tedesco’s Missing Cookbook, The Misplaced Dog, and Malicious Mischief.

Connect with Cassidy:
Blog  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Goodreads  |  Amazon

Buy the book:


Friday, July 27, 2018



The latest emotional rollercoaster of a novel from a master of tearjerkers and family fiction.

Mac Anderson holds life in the palm of his hand. He has a beautiful wife, three loving children, a comfortable home, and a successful career. Everything is perfect—or so it seems. Tragically, Mac is destined to learn that any sense of security can quickly prove false. Because an invisible enemy called Post Traumatic Stress Disorder has invaded Mac’s fragile mind and it is about to drop him to his knees. He does all he can to conceal his inner chaos, but to no avail. Left to contend with ignorance, an insensitive justice system, and the struggles of an invisible disease, he loses everything—most importantly his family.

One shoebox might store an old pair of sneakers. Two shoeboxes might contain a lifetime of photographs. But in Three Shoeboxes, a father’s undying love may be just enough to make things right again.

Book Details:

Title: Three Shoeboxes

Author:  Steven Manchester

Genre: Women’s fiction

Publisher: Fiction Studio Books (June 12, 2018)

Print length: 285 pages


A few of your favorite things: My family, a sunny day with some time to write, kindness.
Things you need to throw out: Old regrets and fears

Things you need in order to write: Time (mostly), just a little bit of inspiration.
Things that hamper your writing:
 Lack of time (period).

Things you love about writing: Creating something that never existed; connecting with other people and reminding them that none of us is ever alone.
Things you hate about writing: The first twenty minutes are usually painful (sometimes, it’s hard work); and when I finish a book that I’ve grown to love the characters (it’s hard to say goodbye).

Hardest thing about being a writer: Selling yourself and your work (I’d prefer others do that); I don’t love the business side.
Easiest thing about being a writer:

Words that describe you: Empathetic, loyal, committed, determined, hard-working, kind.
Words that describe you but you wish they didn’t: Compulsive; intense.

Favorite foods: Seafood, pasta—and anything that relieves my terrible sweet tooth.
Things that make you want to throw up: Meat fat; Jell-O (must be a texture thing)

Favorite song: "The Dance" by Garth Brooks.
Music that make your ears bleed: Most rap.

Something you’re really good at:
 Making people laugh in person; making people cry in books (and horseshoes).
Something you’re really bad at: Drawing; cooking (though I wish I wasn’t)

Something you like to do:
 Visit Italy.
Something you wish you’d never done: Honestly—nothing; every step has gotten me to where I am.

Last best thing you ate: Lobster tacos
Last thing you regret eating: Ice cream (too much of it).

Things you’d walk a mile for: To spend time with my kids
Things that make you want to run screaming from the room: Being in the company of people who talk about other people.

Things you always put in your books: Name of deceased family member and friends (to honor them).

Things you never put in your books: Anything that would hurt someone.

Things to say to an author: Thanks…and can I write a review for your latest book?

Things to say to an author if you want to be fictionally killed off in their next book: I could write a book, too . . . if I had the time.

Favorite places you’ve been: Greece and Paris.

Places you never want to go to again: Iraq and Kuwait.

Best thing you’ve ever done: Marrying my wife, Paula

Biggest mistake: Hurting someone’s feelings (that’s always the biggest mistake).

Most daring thing you’ve ever done: Went to war; worked in a prison for 10 years.

Something you chickened out from doing: Karaoke.


Mac jumped up, panting like an obese dog suffering in a heat wave. His heart drummed out of his chest. Startled from a sound sleep, he didn’t know what was wrong. He leapt out of bed and stumbled toward the bathroom. He couldn’t breathe. He couldn’t think. There’s something wrong, he finally thought, I…I need help. He searched frantically for an enemy. There was none. As he stared at the frightened man in the mirror, he considered calling out to his sleeping wife. She has enough to worry about with the kids, he thought, but was already hurrying toward her. “Jen,” he said in a strained whisper.
She stirred but didn’t open her eyes.
The constricted chest, sweaty face and shaking hands made Mac wonder whether he was standing at death’s door, cardiac arrest being his ticket in. I have to do something now, he thought, or I’m a goner. “Jen,” he said louder, shaking her shoulder.
One eye opened. She looked up at him.
“It’s happening again,” he said in a voice that could have belonged to a frightened little boy.
Jen shot up in bed. “What is it?”
“I…I can’t breathe. My heart keeps fluttering and I feel…”
“I’m calling an ambulance,” she said, fumbling for her cell phone.
“No,” he said instinctively, “it’ll scare the kids.”
She looked up at him like he was crazy.
“I’ll go to the emergency room right now!” Grabbing for a pair of pants, he started to slide into them.
Jen sprang out of the bed. “I’ll call my mom and have her come over to watch the kids. In the meantime, Jillian can…”
Mac shook his foggy head, halting her. “No, I’m okay to drive,” he said, trying to breathe normally.
“But babe,” she began to protest, fear glassing over her eyes.
“I’ll text you as soon as I get there,” he promised, “and then call you just as soon as they tell me what the hell’s going on.”
Jen’s eyes filled. “Oh Mac…”
He shot her a smile, at least he tried to, before rushing out of the house and hyperventilating all the way to the hospital.
I’m here, Mac texted Jen before shutting off the ringer on his phone.
The scowling intake nurse brought him right in at the mention of “chest pains.” Within minutes, the E.R. staff went to work like a well-choreographed NASCAR pit crew, simultaneously drawing blood while wiring his torso to a portable EKG machine.
As quickly as the team had responded, they filed out of the curtained room. A young nurse, yanking the sticky discs from Mac’s chest, feigned a smile. “Try to relax, Mr. Anderson. It may take a little bit before the doctor receives all of your test results.”
For what seemed like forever, Mac sat motionless on the hospital gurney, a white curtain drawn around him. I hope it isn’t my heart, he thought, the kids are still so young and they need…
“Who do we have in number four?” a female voice asked just outside of Mac’s alcove.
Mac froze to listen in.
“Some guy who came in complaining of chest pains,” another voice answered at a strained whisper. “Test results show nothing. Just another anxiety attack.”
No way, Mac thought, not knowing whether he should feel insulted or relieved.
“Like we have time to deal with that crap,” the first voice said. “Can you imagine if men had to give birth?”
Both ladies laughed.
No friggin’ way, Mac thought before picturing his wife’s frightened face. She must be worried sick. But I can’t call her without talking to the doctor. She’d…
The curtain snapped open, revealing a young man in a white lab coat with a stethoscope hanging around his neck.
This kid can’t be a doctor, Mac thought, the world suddenly feeling like it had been turned upside down.
“Your heart is fine, Mr. Anderson,” the doctor quickly reported, his eyes on his clipboard. “I’m fairly certain you suffered a panic attack.” He looked up and grinned, but even his smile was rushed. “Sometimes the symptoms can mirror serious physical ailments.”
Mac was confused, almost disappointed. So, what I experienced wasn’t serious? he asked in his head.
The young man scribbled something onto a small square pad, tore off the top sheet and handed it to Mac. “This’ll make you feel better,” he said, prescribing a sedative that promised to render Mac more useless than the alleged attack.
“Ummm…okay,” Mac said, his face burning red.
The doctor nodded. “Stress is the number one cause of these symptoms,” he concluded. “Do you have someone you can talk to?”
Mac returned the nod, thinking, I need to get the hell out of here. Although he appreciated the concern, he was mired in a state of disbelief. I’m a master of the corporate rat race, he thought, unable to accept the medicine man’s spiel. If anyone knows how to survive stress, it’s me.
“That’s great,” the doctor said, vanishing as quickly as he’d appeared.
My problem is physical, Mac confirmed in his head, it has to be. He finished tying his shoes.
Pulling back the curtain, he was met by the stare of several female nurses. He quickly applied his false mask of strength and smiled. A panic attack, he repeated to himself. When put into words, the possibility was chilling.
The nurses smiled back, each one of them wearing the same judgmental smirk.
With his jacket tucked under his arm, Mac started down the hallway. Sure, he thought, I have plenty of people I can talk to. He pulled open the door that led back into the crowded waiting room. That is, if I actually thought it was anxiety.
Mac sat in the parking lot for a few long minutes, attempting to process the strange events of the last several days. Although he felt physically tired, there weren’t any symptoms or residual effects of the awful episodes he’d experienced—not a trace of the paralyzing terror I felt. And they just came out of the blue. He shook his head. How can it not be physical? He thought about the current state of his life. Work is work, it’s always going to come with a level of stress, but that’s nothing out of the ordinary. He shook his head again. I just don’t get it. He grabbed his cell phone and called Jen. “Hi, it’s me.”
“Are you okay?” she asked, the worry in her voice making him feel worse.
“I’m fine, babe.”
“Fine?” she said, confused. “What did the doctor say?”
“He said it’s not my heart.”
“Oh, thank God.”
Her reaction—although completely understandable—struck him funny, making him feel like the boy who cried wolf.
“So what is it then?” she asked.
He hesitated, feeling oddly embarrassed to share the unbelievable diagnosis.
“The doctor thinks it was a…a panic attack.”
This time, she paused. “A panic attack?” she repeated, clearly searching for more words. Then, as a born problem solver, she initiated her usual barrage of questions. “Did they give you something for it? Is there any follow up?”
“Yes, and maybe.”
“What does that mean?”
“He gave me pills that I’d rather not take if I don’t need to. And he suggested I go talk to someone.”
“Talk to someone? You mean like a therapist?”
“I’m pretty sure that’s what he meant.”
“Oh,” she said, obviously taken aback. “Then that’s exactly what you should do.”
“I don’t know…”
“Is there something bothering you I don’t know about, Mac,” she asked, “because you can talk to me, too, you know.”
“I know, babe. But there’s nothing bothering me, honest.” He took a deep breath. “For what it’s worth, I don’t buy the anxiety attack diagnosis.”
“Well, whatever you were feeling this morning was real enough, right? I could see it in your face. It wouldn’t hurt anything for you to go talk to someone.” She still sounded scared and he hated it.
“Maybe not,” he replied, appeasing her. In the back of his head, though, he was already contemplating how much he should continue to share with her—or protect her from. “I need to get to work,” he said.
“Why don’t you just take the day off and relax?” she suggested.
Here we go, he thought. “I wish I could, babe,” he said, “but we have way too much going on at the office right now.”
“And maybe that’s part of your problem,” she said.
“I’ll be fine, Jen,” he promised. “We’ll talk when I get home, okay?”
“Love you,” he said.
“And I love you,” she said in a tone intended for him to remember it.
Excerpt from Three Shoeboxes by Steven Manchester.  Copyright © 2018 by Steven Manchester. Reproduced with permission from The Story Plant. All rights reserved.



Steven Manchester is the author of the #1 bestsellers Twelve Months, The Rockin' Chair, Pressed Pennies and Gooseberry Island, as well as the national bestsellers Ashes and The Changing Season, and the multi-award winning novels, Goodnight, Brian and The Thursday Night Club. He has written A Christmas Wish (Kindle exclusive), Wilbur Avenue (novelette), and Just in Time (novelette) while his work has appeared on NBC's Today Show, CBS's The Early Show, CNN's American Morning and BET's Nightly News. Three of Steven's short stories were selected "101 Best" for Chicken Soup for the Soul series, and he is the produced playwright of Three Shoeboxes. When not spending time with his beautiful wife, Paula, or their four children, this Massachusetts author is promoting his works or writing.

Connect with Steve:
Website  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Goodreads  | Amazon

Buy the book:
Amazon  |  Barnes & Noble

Check out Steven's guest post and short story from May 2018 on A Blue Million Books.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018



In this sequel to Where is Pidge?, our young hero decides to audition for the school musical along with her canine buddy Maverick. Not everyone thinks Pidge can learn to sing or Maverick can be trained, but Pidge believes. Through their theatrical escapades, Pidge discovers that singing requires hard work, and that Maverick might not be ready for his stage debut after all. And by the end, Pidge understands that being a star is all a matter of perspective, and unconditional love matters more than fame.

Book Details:

Title: Pidge Takes the Stage

Author: Michelle Staubach Grimes

Genre: Children's fiction

Publisher: Pidge Media, LLC / February 2018

Print length: 32 pages


Who are you?
Michelle Staubach Grimes - a daughter, a sibling, a wife, a mother, a friend, an aunt, a cousin, a confidant, and an author/writer.

Do you have another job outside of writing?
Raising children.

Where’s home for you?
Dallas, Texas

What’s your favorite memory?
The birth of my first child – Jeffrey Michael Grimes.

What’s the dumbest purchase you’ve ever made?
Chocolates at the checkout line of the grocery store which claim they help with anxiety.

What’s the most valuable thing you’ve learned?
You must work hard in life if you want success.

Who would you pick to write your biography?
Emily Giffin.

What do you love about where you live?
We live close to my parents, siblings, and in-laws.

What is the most daring thing you've done?

What is your most embarrassing moment?
My leather pants ripped when I did the splits recently.

What choices in life would you like to have a redo on?
I wish I started writing books earlier in life.

What makes you nervous?
I worry about my kids when they are away from home.

What makes you happy?
When all my kids and husband are home.

What makes you scared?
That I will never write another book.

How did you meet your spouse? 
Through his brother in New York City.

What are your most cherished mementoes?
My wedding ring and my journals.

What brings you delight?
Spending time with friends and family.

What’s one of your favorite quotes?
“Unspectacular preparation equals spectacular results,” by Roger Staubach.

If you could live anywhere in the world, where in the world would it be?

What would you like people to say about you after you die?
She was kind and empathetic.

What’s your favorite line from a book?
“I lean in closer, kiss his cheek, and whisper, ‘You’ll always be my baby, Finch. And no matter what, I will always love you.’” From All We Ever Wanted by Emily Giffin.

What would your main character, Pidge, say about you?

She’s crazy.

Are any of your characters inspired by real people?
Yes. Pidge was my mom’s nickname, so the character is named after my mom, but she doesn’t have my mom’s personality. My middle daughter (Gracie) was a tomboy when she was young – I modeled Pidge after her. And we had a bernese mountain dog named Maverick.

Is your book based on real events?
In Pidge Takes the Stage – they aren’t real events. However, in Where is Pidge?, a child really did get stuck in the laundry chute as Pidge does in the first book.

Are you like any of your characters?
I believe my core story is Pidge’s experience in the first book – Where is Pidge?  I grew up with four siblings and often felt lost in the shuffle. It took me some time to find my way in life.

What book are you currently reading and in what format?
I’ve Been Thinking by Maria Shriver (hardcover) and Kidnapped - The Tragic Life of J. Paul Getty III by Charles Fox (paperback).

What would your dream office look like?
A very long desk, many built-ins for all my drafts and notebooks, comfortable chairs, and bright colors.

Why did you decide to self-publish?
I decided to self-publish because I didn’t want to wait three to four years for my book to reach the public. I am happy with my decision to self-publish, however it can be frustrating at times. Certain publications, etc. will not give you the time of day if you are self-published.

What steps to publication did you personally do, and what did you hire someone to do?
Self-publishing is like creating your own business. I incorporated my company as Pidge Media, LLC.  That of course requires the assistance of a lawyer. I had to hire an illustrator (Bill DeOre), design company, printing company, distribution company, PR firm, and part-time assistant to manage the bookkeeping and my schedule.

What are you working on now? Pidge Book Number 3. However, I have also pulled out from my notebook closet a novel I drafted a few years ago. I’m considering re-writing that novel.


Michelle Staubach Grimes was born in Pensacola, Florida in 1968 and moved to Dallas, Texas in 1969. After graduating from Ursuline Academy in 1986, she moved to Washington, D.C. and received her B.A. in History (1990) and J.D (1994). She returned to Dallas in 1994, practiced law for a couple of years, and worked for a year in sports marketing. Michelle married John Grimes in 1997 and became a stay-at-home mom with the birth of her first child, Jeffrey, in 1999. Two daughters followed, Gracie and Emma. Michelle began journaling years ago and enrolled in the Southern Methodist University Creative Writing Continuing Ed Program in 2012 to hone her writing skills. After falling in love with creative writing and studying “story” through the SMU program, Michelle launched her first children’s book, Where is Pidge? in April 2015.  Michelle launched her second children’s book, Pidge Takes the Stage, in February 2018.

Connect with the author:
Website  |  Facebook  |  Twitter 

Buy the book:

Amazon  |  Barnes & Noble  |  Books-A-Million  |  Indiebound

Monday, July 23, 2018



An innocent math professor runs for his life as teams of hitmen try to prevent publication of their government’s dark history.

College professor Sam Teagarden stumbles upon a decades-old government cover-up when an encoded document mysteriously lands in his in-box, followed by a cluster of mini-drones programmed to kill him.

That begins a terrifying flight from upstate New York, to Washington, to Key West as Teagarden must outfox teams of hitmen equipped with highly sophisticated technology. While a fugitive, he races to decode the document, only to realize the dreadful truth—it’s the reason he’s being hunted because it details criminal acts committed by the U.S. in the 20th Century.

If he survives and publishes the decoded document, he’ll be a heroic whistle blower. But there is no guarantee. He may also end up dead.

Book Details

Title: Flight of the Fox

Author’s name: Gray Basnight

Genre: Suspense/Thriller

Publisher: Down & Out Books (July 23, 2018)

Print length: 381 pages


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

It was originally called The Dear John File, but the publisher correctly worried that it may be misunderstood as a romance novel.  I changed it to Flight of the Fox, which I think is better, and certainly more intriguing.  

Tell us about your series. Is this book a standalone, or do readers need to read the series in order?
This is definitely a series. Flight of the Fox is the first title. The sequel is now in progress. It too will explore a subject rooted in history that some readers may find controversial. Meantime, number three in the series is cooking somewhere deep in my cerebellum.  

Where’s home for you?
New York.

Where did you grow up?
Richmond, Virginia.

What’s your favorite memory?
Saturday bus trips by myself to downtown Richmond for a movie, followed by a long exploration of my favorite book store on Broad Street where I purchased paperbacks priced between 50 cents and $1.95. I typically came home with two to four books each trip. 

If you had an extra $100 a week to spend on yourself, what would you buy? 
I truly have no idea.  I need nothing at all except peace on Earth and coffee.

What’s the dumbest purchase you’ve ever made?
An expensive mountain bike which taught me that biking in the mountains is…um…difficult. It also taught me that riding a mountain bike in the city is…um…not fun.  

What’s the most valuable thing you’ve learned?
Be tolerant and cultivate your garden.

What do you love about where you live?
In all modesty, New York City is the greatest city in the world.  The reason why is because it is the world in miniature.  

Have you been in any natural disasters?
Not really. I was around for Superstorm Sandy which hurt many and damaged a great deal of property. I personally suffered little impact, except for the prolonged power outage.

What is the most daring thing you've done?
I do it every day by sitting down to the keyboard to write.

What is the stupidest thing you've ever done?
Sitting down every day at the keyboard to write.

What’s one thing you wish your younger writer self knew?
If you want to be a writer, put your butt in the chair for four to six hours a day, that’s the only rule. 

If someone gave you $5,000 and said you must solve a problem, what would you do with the money?
This question is a real challenge. My inclination is to give it to a worthy charity, but that doesn’t completely solve any particular problem in its entirety. So, how about this—I’d buy a restaurant’s services for a full meal period, either lunch or dinner. Then I’d bus in all the homeless and hungry people I could find in need of a full meal. It’s not a solution to hunger. I’d rather teach a homeless person to fish than buy a homeless person a fish. But for five-grand, hey, abatement of hunger is at least a worthy temporary solution.   

What makes you nervous?
Drivers who behave as though the highway were their own personal NASCAR track and cops who do nothing about them because they focus only on speeders.

What makes you happy?
My golden retriever, especially when she misbehaves by trying to steal food from the kitchen counter by stealth. 

Who are you?
I am an American who believes in the promise of America, and I’m a writer.

How did you meet your spouse? Was it love at first sight?
I met her in Studio Three at WOR Radio in NYC and liked her immediately because she popped her knuckles. Naw, not really love at first sight.  How about: like at first sight.

What are your most cherished mementoes?
My well-preserved comic book collection which I keep safe in a New Jersey rental storage bin. It’s all Silver Age with a lot of Superman, Superboy, Uncle Scrooge, Blackhawk, The Haunted Tank, Herbie, and many others.  

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

What’s one of your favorite quotes?
“The difference between the right word and the almost right word is like the difference between lightning and the lightning bug.”  - Twain

If you could live anywhere in the world, where in the world would it be?
Paris, in the Montmartre neighborhood.

What would you like people to say about you after you die?
He was a good writer.

What’s your favorite line from a book?
“I could be bound within a nutshell and count myself king of infinite space, were it not that I have bad dreams.”  - Hamlet

How did you create the plot for this book?
By inventing the characters and letting them take me on their journey. Oddly, the subject of the book was born in 2011 while watching Ellen DeGeneres interview Clint Eastwood about his movie “J. Edgar.” At the time, I’d been wracking my brain for an event, or a period in history that could spark a thriller in the mold of alternative history. I found it during that interview. Long story short: Mr. Eastwood said the “jury is still out” as to whether J. Edgar Hoover was gay. I believe Mr. Eastwood was mistaken about that. And—that—sets up the plot for Flight of the Fox

Is your book based on real events?
In part, yes. It’s loosely based on my emotional reaction, and my continuing bitterness over Vietnam, the assassinations of two Kennedys, Dr. King, and finally—9/11.

Who are your favorite authors?
So very many: Daniel Dafoe, Conan Doyle, Jules Verne, H.G. Wells, Somerset Maugham, Graham Green, Erich Maria Remarque, Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner, Truman Capote, Carson McCullers, Sylvia Plath, Saul Bellow, Isabel Allende.

What book are you currently reading and in what format?
Tangerine, by Christine Mangan in hardback.

Where and when do you prefer to do your writing?
Morning and afternoon, in solitude.

What’s the best compliment you’ve ever received about your writing?
As a freshman at North Carolina Wesleyan College, after taking a composition assessment test, the chairman of the English Department called me into his office and told me I displayed superior writing skill, that he was impressed, and that he hoped I’d work on developing it. That did it for me. I was eighteen-years-old. In that moment, I became committed to writing. 

What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever had to write?
I worked for several years as a broadcast news writer at 1010 WINS, a major all-news radio station in New York City. It was a terrific place to hone both journalistic and fundamental writing skills. Cranking out accurate, well written stories in a highly abbreviated format under intense time pressure can be likened to the Marine Corps of writing. It’s a difficult, challenging job because if you get it wrong or write it poorly—you will hear from the newscaster who must read your stuff.  

Where is your favorite library, and what do you love about it?
New York Public Library, the main branch on Fifth Avenue. Shy of the Library of Congress, it’s the best for research. And the Rose Main Reading room is spectacular. Whenever I go there to sit and write for a few hours, I feel like I’ve stepped back into history. My laptop is plugged in, but I’m sitting in a 19th Century cathedral of scholarship.

You can be any fictional character for one day. Who would you be?
Robinson Caruso. He’s one of the great didactic and heroic figures of literary fiction, the ultimate example of playing the hand you were dealt. He not only played it and survived, but he prevailed.      

What’s the worst thing someone has said about your writing? How did you deal with it?
In 2013, I attended a Q&A literary panel in NYC. Well-known editors and agents were on the dais.  Afterward, without knowing me or ever reading anything I’d written, an editor with a large and well-known publishing house said to my face: “I doubt you could write anything I’d be interested in.” As for dealing with it, I’m still trying. 

What would your dream office look like?
I already have it: a tiny walk-in closet loaded with books and knickknacks. I call it my in-utero hideaway.

What are you working on now?
A sequel to Flight of the Fox as mentioned above. I’m also fine-tuning a YA manuscript about a sixteen-year-old girl named Junior Binét with a genius IQ. Readers who love Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson will recognize Junior as a contemporary, female version of Jim Hawkins.  



The officers spotted him while straining to hold their K-9’s. One of them pointed, yelled an order, and all three released their dogs.
That’s when Teagarden ceased being a smart fox. In that moment he became a dumb fox. He could think of only one thing.
And that one thing was as dumb as they come.
He bolted as hard as his creaky knees could manage. The nearby presence of a subway entrance helped. Once underground, it was dumb luck that a train was entering the station at that moment.
Paying the fare never occurred to him, but getting over the turnstile wasn’t pretty. There was no way he was going to jump it like an ordinary fare beater. His lousy knees forced him to pause, hoist his weight to sit on the turnstile edge, pull up his legs, spin his butt, and delicately slide over to stand down on the opposite side.
The police dogs had no such limitations. All three were in the station and plowing under the turnstiles as the train doors opened. Their momentary confusion amid the waiting crowd gave Teagarden enough time to move down the platform by one car-length.
As he entered the train, he saw the K-9 trio casually stepping aboard the adjacent car as though it were their daily commute. In the crush of passengers, the conductor must not have noticed because he closed the doors and the train pulled from the station before the pursuing cops caught up.
Unbelievable. If anyone ever makes a movie about this, no one will think this scene remotely possible.
It was a downtown N-Train. “N,” as in nuts. “N,” as in nasty.

Excerpt Copyright © 2018 Gray Basnight. Used with permission of Down & Out Books.


Gray Basnight worked for three decades in New York City as a radio and television news producer, writer, editor, reporter, and newscaster.  He lives in New York with his wife and golden retriever, where he is dedicated to writing fiction. His published work includes a detective/romance novel, The Cop with the Pink Pistol; a Civil War historical novel, Shadows in the Fire; and now Flight of the Fox, a run-for-your-life thriller. Works in progress include YA and literary fiction. Like most with a passion for writing, it’s been with him all his life, or at least from second grade when, at the age of seven, reading took hold and never let go. When not writing, Gray is reading and thinking about the current project or ideas for the next manuscript. 

Connect with Gray:

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Buy the book:
Amazon  |  Barnes & Noble  |  Down & Out Books

Thursday, July 19, 2018



Professional organizer Maggie McDonald manages to balance a fastidious career with friends, family, and a spunky Golden Retriever. But add a fiery murder mystery to the mix, and Maggie wonders if she’s finally found a mess even she can’t tidy up . . .

With a devastating wildfire spreading to Silicon Valley, Maggie preps her family for a rapid evacuation. The heat rises when firefighters discover the body of her best friend Tess Olmos’s athletic husband—whose untimely death was anything but accidental. And as Tess agonizes over the whereabouts of her spouse’s drop-dead gorgeous running mate, she becomes the prime suspect in what's shaping up to become a double murder case. Determined to set the record straight, Maggie sorts through clues in an investigation more dangerous than the flames approaching her home. But when her own loved ones are threatened, can she catch the meticulous killer before everything falls apart?

Book Details:

Title: Disorderly Conduct

Author’s name: Mary Feliz

Genre: Mystery

Series: Maggie McDonald Mysteries, book 4

Publisher: Kensington Lyrical (July 10, 2018)

Print length: 233 pages

On tour with: Great Escapes Book Tours


Things you love about where you live: I live next to the Pacific Ocean on Monterey Bay and share my backyard with hundreds of species of birds and whales, seals, sea lions, sea otters, and many other oceanic creatures.
Things that make you want to move: We live in a tiny condo with zero storage. And by the end of the summer, we’re ready for the summer people to go home.

Things you never want to run out of: Patience, love.
Things you wish you’d never bought: Fancy china

Words that describe you: Nature lover, dog and cat lover, gardener, bird watcher.
Words that describe you but you wish they didn’t: Plump. Overscheduled.

People you consider as heroes: Annie Jump-Cannon and her fellow under-sung female astronomers, Martin Luther King Jr., The Parkland School Teens, those who stand up for the little guy, even when they’re scared or tired or have other things to do.
People with a big L on their foreheads: Those who are self-righteous or convinced that they have all the answers.

Last best thing you ate: A ripe Watsonville strawberry, warm from the field.

Last thing you regret eating: A cookie that looked pretty but wasn’t worth the calories or carbs.

Things you’d walk a mile for: A latte.
Things that make you want to run screaming from the room: Pomposity. Overly sweet scented candles.

Things you always put in your books: Dogs, humor, irony, and one or two characters who’ve are suffering personally from aspects of a complex social issue.

Things you never put in your books: Torture. Sex. Overt violence.

Things to say to an author: I love your books. Your books remind me of Louise Penny.

Things to say to an author if you want to be fictionally killed off in their next book: “I read your book…”.  “Oh, I bought your book last year, but I haven’t read it yet. I don’t know why.” “I’m not much of a reader…

Favorite places you’ve been: Almost any beach in the off-season.
Places you never want to go to again: Almost anywhere with long lines, crowds, and heat. If they’ve got all three, I probably won’t go, no matter what the draw.

Favorite genre: I’m a promiscuous reader and read in many genres, but mystery is my favorite.

Books you would ban: Anything with torture or violence against women or animals.


Mary Feliz writes the Maggie McDonald Mysteries featuring a Silicon Valley professional organizer and her sidekick golden retriever. She's worked for Fortune 500 firms and mom and pop enterprises, competed in whale boat races and done synchronized swimming. She attends organizing conferences in her character's stead, but Maggie's skills leave her in the dust. Address to Die For, the first book in the series, was named a Best Book of 2017 by Kirkus Reviews. All of her books have spent time on the Amazon best seller list.

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

Buy the book:
Amazon  |  Barnes & Noble  |  Kobo

Tuesday, July 17, 2018



The past is never past. Sometimes it repeats itself. And sometimes it comes back to pay a visit. Blu Carraway, flush with cash and back in business, never had it so good. Or so he thought.The reality is his love life is in shambles, his business partner is spending too much time with women half his age and not enough time on the job, and someone close goes missing. Blu’s business partner goes off the rails, his friends show their true colors, and he realizes that getting closure sometimes means walking away from everything. With a case from the past gone wrong twice, a loved one in trouble, and an unanswered marriage proposal, it’s a bad time to be in it for Blu Carraway Investigations.

Book Details:

Title: Bad Time to Be In It

Author: David Burnsworth

Genre: Mystery

Series: Blu Carraway Mysteries, book 2

Publisher: Henery Press (July 10, 2018)

Page count: 254

On tour with: Partners in Crime Book Tours


David, where did you grow up?
I’ve lived in the south since I was nine so I’ll say Atlanta, Georgia.  I loved the big city life and set one of my books (Big City Heat, Henery Press 2017) there. My wife and I reside in South Carolina, which I’ve called home since 2000. It’s the longest I’ve lived in any state. As a side note, our state flag is my favorite!

What do you love about where you live?

Where my wife and I live in South Carolina, we are close to two major cities and three hours from the ocean.  The cost of living is reasonable, unemployment is low, and it isn’t insanely crowded. Plus it’s the south. There’s so much grand history and ugly baggage here to keep me busy writing books for a long time.

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

A used Porsche 911 in about 500 weeks. It’s my dream car and sooner or later I’m going to have one. I don’t care if I’m fulfilling the cliché of mid-life-crisis with it or not.

What is the stupidest thing you've ever done?
I didn’t study hard enough in college. On the flip side, I didn’t give up which I thought about doing several times. At some point, I realized that graduating was the best thing I could do, so I gritted my teeth, straightened up, and made it through. It turned out to be one of the best things I’d done.

What’s one thing that you wish you knew as a teenager that you know now?
Life is short. Planning to do something “some day” never really happens. For me, it took my wife basically saying it was “time to write your book now.” If she hadn’t, I might still be thinking about doing it instead of authoring five novels and working on a sixth.

What’s one thing you wish your younger writer self knew?
I should have started writing seriously thirty years ago. Looking back, I suppose I wasn’t ready. It takes quite a bit of toughness, if I can call it that, to put something out there. I didn’t have it then. Some days I don’t have it now. Some people are great. Some are not. In the end, I’m glad I keep going.

Do you have another job outside of writing?
I’m a degreed engineer, and I have worked in manufacturing for twenty years. I feel it is important for America to continue to make things and get better at it so it is a vocation for me as well as my livelihood. Engineering is all about problem solving. That helps me with my writing. What doesn’t help is being structured. I am a “seat-of-the-pants” writer as opposed to an outliner. The problem solving comes in when I have about two-thirds of a book not necessarily in any kind of sequence and need to put it all together.

How did you meet your spouse?
Our German teacher set us up. No joke. We were living two hundred miles apart at the time.

Would you rather be a lonely genius, or a sociable idiot?
Depending on the day, I’d say I’ve been both.

What would your main character say about you?
Blu says, “He mostly gets it right, but sometimes I have to spell things out for him.”

Sometimes it feels exactly like I’m telling Blu’s story, but since I’m not him, it takes a while to figure out why he’s doing what he’s doing. Since I don’t outline, Blu has carte blanche in the story. It’s the “why” that throws me for a loop. Sooner or later, he shows me what he’s up to. But, damn if the man isn’t frustrating when he takes his own bloody time about it.

Who are your favorite authors?
John Sanford, Robert Crais, James Lee Burke, Michael Connelly.

What’s one pet peeve you have when you read?
I have to be able to get into the book within one page. Some readers struggle through an entire book. I don’t have the time and figure if I’m not getting it, it’s not for me. It’s not that the book is bad, it’s that I’m not the right reader for it.

Do you have a routine for writing?
I just completed the first draft of the manuscript for my next book. My routine was to write 1000 words a day. I wrote 75,000 words in eighty days, and it was the most stress-free writing I’ve done in a while.

Where and when do you prefer to do your writing?
I’ve trained myself to write anywhere, but I prefer my home office. It’s on the first floor, and my desk faces the window that overlooks my front lawn. We live on a cul-de-sac so there isn’t a lot of traffic.

What would your dream office look like?
It would be similar to my current one except it would overlook a wildlife refuge or a body of water. Or both.

What are you working on now?
I’m in the middle of the second draft of my next Blu Carraway book. It should be out in the spring of 2019, and I’m really enjoying the story.


Chapter One

Belize City, Belize, August, mid-Monday

Paco squinted as he stared out over the courtyard, the afternoon sun a brilliant blaze. Sounds of local women selling vegetables, cheap pottery, and trinkets to tourists filled the air. The clinking of dishware. Some of the vendors were lucky enough to have an umbrella or canopy to shield them from the burning heat. Most weren’t.
The pavement baked Paco’s feet through his cowboy boots.
He lifted his straw hat, one with an orange band he’d bought from a local Mennonite child, and wiped his brow. The air tasted of salt, dust, and tamalito grease.
His two partners, a Belizean Creole called Lin and a Jamaican named Peter, were already in position. Lin nodded at him from the other side of the square. Paco checked on Peter and found him fifty meters due east scoping out the three young women they’d come for.
Well, really it was just one of them they wanted. The other two women were going to be a bonus. The contract was to grab the woman with the family name of Kincaid, make a phone call when they had her at their hideout, and then do whatever they wanted with the other two. And eliminate any resistance.
The stupid chicas had only one guard with them. Some tall, middle-aged Bufon Paco guessed was half-Cuban, half-gringo, who wore sunglasses and dressed in light-colored fatigues and military style boots. He looked fit but was most likely nothing but an easy target. In the three days Peter, Lin, and Paco had tracked the women, the man with the sunglasses always kept watch from behind.
The past two nights Paco had dreamt of shooting the man through those sunglasses.
Using the sleeve of his shirt, Paco wiped his forehead one more time and then replaced his hat. He watched Peter wait until the women and the man passed and then fell in behind them.
God, the women were beautiful. Suntanned white girls in their early twenties. Perfect teeth. Curled, long hair. Linen blouses, short shorts, and sandals. After he shot their protector, his dreams ended with tying each of them to a bed, the fear in their eyes giving him immense pleasure.
And today was the day his dream would come true.
Paco watched the group pass through a crowd of old people in bright clothes unloading from a tour bus.
Except Peter didn’t emerge behind them when the women came through the other side of the gray-haired mass.
Neither did the sunglass-wearing guard.
Paco smiled and thought, good, Peter took him out already.
He nodded at Lin who gave him a thumbs-up.
The women perused another row of vendors.
He and Lin followed, coming from opposite ends.
The women were just ahead. Paco caught sight of their toned caderas and thanked his god again for tight American shorts. He picked up his pace as he threaded through the crowd.
After about forty meters, something didn’t seem right any more. He should have caught up to them by now. And Lin should have joined him.
Paco stopped, checked his phone. No messages.
Looking around, he thought he spotted the women turn down an alley.
Where were Peter and Lin?
It didn’t matter.
He had to get the woman now. Especially with the guard out of the picture.
Paco knew he could handle her by himself, even if the other two females had to die to make things easier. He sprinted after them, cut down the alley, and found himself alone with nothing but a dead end. The only noise he heard was the market from which he’d come.
An abandoned car on blocks with its hood open mocked him. Dust kicked up from his boots as he skidded to a stop. Paco turned around. No one had followed him.
He turned back and looked straight down the barrel of a revolver.
His eyes would not—could not—keep from staring at the black hole in front of him that brought death. Where in the hell did this come from? There had been no sound.
A man’s voice said, “Esto es donde dar la vuelta y a pie.” (This is where you turn around and walk away.)
Thinking fast, Paco said, “Que buscaba para mi hija.” (I was looking for my daughter.)
The thumb of the hand holding the revolver cocked the hammer back.
Anyone else would have soiled his pants at this. But Paco knew the man had made a very big mistake. Other peoples’ mistakes, and Paco’s awareness of them, were how he had survived this long. The cocked pistol an arm’s reach from his face had caught him off guard. If it had been five feet away, the perfect distance for control,he would have had a problem.
But this close—
Paco swung an arm at the hand with the pistol and ducked the other way, all in one motion just like he’d done before.
Except another gun fired.
Paco felt an inferno of heat and lead tear through his leg. He screamed and crashed to the ground.
A large, military boot kicked him in the face. It jolted his focus off the pain in his leg for a second and onto the sunglasses of the man from his dreams. Paco spotted a second pistol in the man’s other hand. He hadn’t seen the second gun because he couldn’t tear his eyes away from the first. The man had outsmarted him.
The man smiled down at him and said, in Spanish, “Who hired you?”
The pain flooded back. Paco seethed out a “Piss off.”
The man with the sunglasses put his large boot on Paco’s injured leg and stepped down hard.
Paco had never felt pain so great in his thirty-three years on this earth. He tried to scream, but nothing came out. He swam in a horizon of white noise.
The pressure on his leg let up. The boot kicked him in the ribs, ripping his concentration away from his leg once more, long enough for him to breathe.
“Your two friends won’t be joining us. Tell me who hired you. Do it now. I won’t ask again.” Paco’s mind recovered enough from the pain to formulate a last desperate plan. He slipped a hand behind his back and pulled out a derringer.
Before he could aim it, the man standing over him blasted his hand from two feet away. And Paco felt a different twinge of pain that almost matched the firestorm in his leg. He lifted his hand to where he could look at it. Two of his fingers were missing.
Then he saw nothing.

Chapter Two
Charleston County, South Carolina, August, mid-Monday

Mick Crome sat on a stool at the inside bar of the Pirate’s Cove on the Isle of Palms. He finished off a second pint while staring at all the liquor bottles lined up on the shelves in front of him. They had a habit of staring back. Maureen, his sometimes girlfriend and bartender a hundred miles north up in Myrtle Beach, was pissed off at him. He couldn’t chill and watch her tight rear end as she poured drinks tonight. Maybe not tomorrow night, either.
The current bartender serving the beers, a friend named Brack Pelton, wasn’t exactly his type. At six feet and with a perpetual suntanned complexion, Brack looked like he should be tending bar in the Bahamas, not owning two watering holes in the South Carolina lowcountry.
Pelton asked, “You want another one, Mick?”
Even inside the place, the smell of the Atlantic Ocean directly behind him cleaned out his sinuses. The song streaming on the bar’s sound system, “Paradise City” by Guns and Roses, was a real classic.
Crome nodded, hooked a boot heel on the bottom rung of his stool, and pulled a vape pen out of the breast pocket of his weathered leather vest.
He couldn’t figure out what exactly he’d done wrong with Maureen but was sure it might have something to do with the two women he traded vodka shots with the night before. Mainly because neither of them was Maureen. Maureen hadn’t taken too kindly to him cancelling their date so he could follow a lead only to end up getting drunk and crashing at another woman’s pad. She didn’t believe him when he’d tried to explain that nothing had happened. The lead was legit, but even he knew he should have just gotten the information over the phone.
What did people say in times like this? C’est la vie?
Pelton set a fresh pint of draft down in front of Crome. “Haven’t seen you or Blu around in a while. How’s it going?”
The kid, Pelton, meant well. If Crome hadn’t taken a liking to him, and if he hadn’t watched a video of the kid, empty handed, take on an armed giant of a man and win, he might have picked a fight with him just for fun. But the kid had saved his best friend’s daughter and was an unofficial partner in the private investigation firm Crome co-owned. Unofficial because just about everything Crome did was unofficial. The official side was handled by his main partner, Blu Carraway.
Crome said, “Blu’s on a security job. In Belize, the lucky bastard. Should be back in a day or two.”
A voice from behind him said, “Hi, Crome.”
It was female and familiar. Damn.
Anyone else would have been a welcome change to his wandering thoughts, a defense mechanism he used to avoid thinking about Maureen.
Hell, Maureen in her most pissed-off state would have been a welcome companion compared to—
The female voice interrupted his thought. “Aren’t you going to invite me to sit down?”
Crome saw the smirk form on his own face reflected in the mirror behind the bar. He also saw the strawberry-blond curls, red lipstick, and tight dress of his newest problem. “It’s a free country.”
Harmony Childs pulled out the stool next to him and sat. “That bad-ass biker routine won’t work on me, Sugar. You’ve seen me in my underwear.”
Twenty years his junior, nuttier than a pecan tree, driven, and drop-dead gorgeous, Harmony was the very cliché of Kryptonite for him. She was also one of the two women he’d traded shots with last night.
It was true; he had seen her in her underwear. But not out of her underwear, thank God, or he and Maureen wouldn’t have lasted this long.
Harmony said, “Don’t tell me you’ve still got a hangover. I’d hate to think you couldn’t hang with us, given your propensity for bars and liquor.”
She really was beautiful. And she’d matched him shot for shot, unless the bartender was feeding her and her friend water instead of Citron. But that couldn’t be because he’d watched all their shot glasses get refilled from the same bottle.
“Not on your life, Dolly,” he said.
Pelton came over, grinned at the young woman, and said, “What’ll it be, Ms. Harmony?”
If Pelton’s wife caught him doing anything more than casual flirting, she’d string him up by his testicles. Especially if it was with Harmony. Or her cohort, Tess Ray. Which reminded Crome, when there was one, the other wasn’t far behind.
Tess pulled out the stool on the other side of Crome and sat. “Sorry I’m late. There was another double homicide in North Charleston.”
Shorter than Harmony, with shoulder length blonde hair that fell in layers, Tess wore dark-rimmed glasses, a business dress with no sleeves, and medium heels.
She’d been the second woman from the night before. Two women to one man, a bottle of vodka, and all he had to show for it was a nasty headache, a stiff back from the couch he’d crashed on alone, and a pissed off girlfriend. Must be his lucky day.
Crome opened his mouth to say “howdy” but got cut off before he could start.
“It would be nice if your partner was around,” Harmony said.
“You guys make good copy. Maybe you all could give us something besides gang violence to report on.”
Harmony and Tess were eager-beaver news correspondents who’d recently gone independent.
Tess asked, “So when is Blu due back in town? Soon, right?”
Every damn woman who’d ever laid eyes on Blu Carraway fell in love with the bastard.
Again, Crome opened his mouth to speak, and again got interrupted. This time by the other local lady killer, Pelton’s dog, Shelby.
At the sight of the chow-collie mix, Harmony and Tess both slid off their stools and swarmed the mutt. The damned canine seemed to be eating it all up, dancing around between them, his wagging tail high in the air.
The song ended, and in the lull before the next one began, Crome checked his iPhone, the one that felt like an old-fashioned pair of handcuffs restraining him from freedom. The one that came with the business of running a private investigation firm. The one that his partner had made him take.
He’d missed a call.
The number wasn’t familiar, but whoever had called left a voicemail. He listened.
It sounded like Maureen. “Mick? I’m in trouble. Please help—”
A man’s voice cut her off. “Listen Crome, it’s payback time. You took from me so I’m taking from you. I’ll be in touch.”
His phone showed a text message. He tapped to open it up and stared at a picture of a scared Maureen with a gun to her head.
Billy Idol’s “Eyes Without a Face” started playing, blowing a hole through the world.

Excerpt from Bad Time To Be In It by David Burnsworth.  Copyright © 2018 by David Burnsworth. Reproduced with permission from David Burnsworth. All rights reserved.


David Burnsworth became fascinated with the Deep South at a young age. After a degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Tennessee and fifteen years in the corporate world, he made the decision to write a novel. Bad Time To Be In It (July 2018, Henery Press) will be his sixth. Having lived on Charleston’s Sullivan’s Island for five years, the setting was a foregone conclusion. He and his wife call South Carolina home.

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