Tuesday, July 27, 2021




Violent crimes. Missing people. Dark secrets. Only one driven detective can unearth the truth.

Jack Lisbon travelled halfway round the world to escape his troubled past. Mutilated bodies were never part of the plan.

A body found in the mangroves at first appears to be evidence of a frenzied crocodile attack. But it soon becomes obvious this is a horrific murder.
And when a popular MMA fighter disappears, police now face a possible double homicide. The list of suspects grows longer, but no one in the closed fighting community is talking.

Can hard-nosed ex-boxer Detective Sergeant Jack Lisbon solve the mystery before the panicked town of Yorkville goes into total meltdown?

Join DS Lisbon and his partner Detective Claudia Taylor on a heart-thumping ride through the steamy tropics of Northern Australia as they hunt for a killer out of control.
Justice served with a side order of vengeance.

Book Details:

Title: Kill Shot

Author: Blair Denholm

Genre: thriller/mystery/police procedural

Series: The Fighting Detective

Published: December 9, 2020

Print length: 212 pages


1.     Where is your cell phone? Desk.

2.     Your hair? Tragedy.

3.     Your workplace? Conservation.

4.     Your other half? Treasure.

5.     What makes you happy? Words.

6.     What makes you crazy? Words.

7.     Your favorite food? Ice-cream.

8.     Your favorite beverage? Tea.

9.     Fear? Failure.

10.  Favorite shoes? Asics.

11.  Favorite way to relax? Beach.

12.  Your mood? Fickle.

13.  Your home away from home? Amsterdam.

14.  Where were you last night? Home.

15.  Something that you aren't? Perfect.

16.  Something from your bucket list? Iceland.

17.  Wish list item? Tesla.

18.  Where did you grow up? Brisbane.

19.  Last thing you did? Ate.

20.  What are wearing now? Jeans.



Fighting Detective Series

Fighting Dirty [permafree novella]

Shot Clock

Game Changer series


Sold to the Devil


Chapter 1

The searing heat prickled, nipped and stung. Beads of moisture dribbled from his forehead, infiltrated clenched eyelids and lashes. Fluids in his aching body were heating up. Humidity crushed like a ton of lead. Take shallow breaths; stay still to keep the core temperature down.

Bright tropical sunlight bore through the window, combined with the ambient swelter to turn Detective Sergeant Jack Lisbon’s bedroom into a torture chamber. Remember to close the venetian blinds next time, moron. And get the air conditioner serviced. Lying in bed now unbearable, he stood, wobbled a fraction. In his semi-delirium, he determined to take a cold shower before the Good Lord claimed him.

Lisbon tottered towards the bathroom. He rubbed his eyes softly as he went, wondered how red they’d be after last night’s binge. He’d stayed more or less sober for three years with the odd gentle tumble off the wagon. Last night’s call with his ex-wife had a bigger impact on him than he could have imagined. After he’d hung up the phone on Sarah, he cracked a bottle of Bundaberg Rum, intended as a gift for a colleague. He’d demolished half of it in an under an hour and headed off into the balmy night to continue the party.

At least that’s how he remembered it.

Bathroom reached, he turned the cold tap on full blast, splashed water on his face and neck, over his chest and under the armpits. The shock of the cold water took his breath away. He repeated the process two times. He must have looked like a tired elephant dousing itself.

Thoughts again turned to Sarah.

Why wouldn’t she let me speak to Skye?

His daughter was seven now, she needed contact with her father. Jack loved and missed her achingly. He’d turned his life around full circle. From alcoholic bent cop to paragon of virtue. Kept his ugly busted nose clean and earned rapid promotion, in a foreign country if you please.

What was the point of Sarah’s bloody-minded recalcitrance? She and the kid were a million miles away from him, far from his destructive influence, safely tucked away in their council flat in Peckham, South London. What harm would there have been in chatting with his daughter, for heaven’s sake? He was at his wit’s end with the situation and had no idea how to get Sarah to see reason. Constantly contacting her on the phone or Internet could be deemed stalking if she made a complaint. The last thing he needed was trouble with the job. It took four years to settle into life in Australia, now at last he was starting to feel at home. Don’t jeopardise it, Lisbon.

He pulled aside the mould-flecked plastic shower curtain, stepped over raised tiles into the small cubicle and reached for the cold tap. Relief would be like an orgasm.

Make that a delayed orgasm.

The mobile phone on his bedside table burst into life. The ring tone was The Clash’s driving punk anthem “London Calling”. A reminder of the life he left behind, his beloved job, a copper with the world famous London Metropolitan Police. He retraced his steps to the bedroom, snatched at the mobile. Sweat beaded on his brow like condensation on a bottle. ‘Yeah, wot?’

‘Is that how a senior officer with the Queensland Police answers the phone? How long have you been in Yorkville?’ Constable Ben Wilson’s poorly disguised voice was chirpy as ever. Jack usually appreciated the cheeky geniality, this morning it merely aggravated his hangover.

‘Long enough to know it’s you on the other end, Wilson.’ Jack scratched an armpit, scrabbled in his coat jacket for nicotine lozenges. He popped one into his dry mouth and started sucking like a hungry baby. Headed back to the cool refuge of the bathroom. ‘And watch the familiar tone, sunshine.’

‘Sorry, sir.’

‘Apology accepted. Bear with me one moment, will you?’

Headache worsening, Jack sat the phone down and spat the lozenge into a tissue. He fussed about in the bathroom drawers, flung little cardboard boxes, disposable razors and condoms about to reach their use-by date out of the way until he found what he needed. He picked up the phone, cradled it between neck and chin as he tore aspirin from its foil packaging, dropped two white disks into a glass of water.

‘Go ahead, Wilson. Why the hell are you disturbing me? I’m not rostered on until this afternoon.’

A cough on the other end of the line followed by a gulping sound. ‘Just so you know, sir, you’re on loud speaker. Detective Constable Taylor’s listening.’

‘Understood. Now answer my question. What’s going on?’

‘A car’s been found abandoned.’


‘Connors Road, edge of the industrial estate near the mangroves. Five clicks heading west, just after the point where it turns into a gravel track.’

‘An abandoned vehicle heading bush is no reason to get excited. Probably joy riders got sick of it and dumped the car when it ran out of fuel.’

‘Not likely. The keys were left dangling from the ignition, engine running, radio on and no one within cooee. Also, what the caller thought might be blood stains on one of the seats. Suspicious as all get out.’

Jack took a deep breath, pinched the bridge of his nose. ‘Right. Anything else?’

‘No, sir. DC Taylor and I are en route to the scene. The tip off came via the hotline.’

‘Has forensics been despatched?’

‘No.’ It was the voice of Detective Constable Claudia Taylor, sultry to match the weather. ‘We haven’t established a crime’s been committed. Could be an innocent explanation for it.’

‘Then why does it take three of us to check it out? Two’s plenty for preliminary work.’

‘I’m bringing Wilson along for the experience. He’s been stuck on desk duty for weeks and things are a bit quiet in the old town. Besides, I think he could become a good detective later in his career.’

‘Should I care?’ A short uncomfortable silence after his sarcastic remark. Make amends, Lisbon. ‘Sorry, I’m not feeling a hundred percent today. It’s great the lad wants to better himself. Most laudable.’

There’d been no baffling crimes in Yorkville for a while. The chance to investigate something unusual could be an interesting diversion. Even with the annoying Constable Wilson tagging along. ‘I’ll get there as soon as I can.’

‘Better hurry,’ said Taylor above the soft crackle of the two-way. ‘There’s a thunderstorm forecast.’

‘If a cool change comes with it, I don’t care if it’s a bloody cyclone.’ The cruel weather in the far north enervated the body like nothing Jack had ever experienced. Three years pounding the pavement as a uniformed cop in sub-tropical Brisbane was bad enough. Then he got the promotion he’d worked like a dog for in the capital: plain clothes detective. Only trade off, it was up here in the sweltering furnace of hell. The humidity was a killer, but he was gradually acclimatising. At least the fishing was good.

‘You know how to get here, sir?’ said Wilson.

‘Ever hear of GPS?’

‘Of course. See you soon.’

The ritual morning home gym work out and run would have to wait. Lifting weights and punching the bag would have been painful anyway, so the early call out was an excuse to skip it, at least until the afternoon.

He guzzled a can of icy diet cola to accelerate the effect of the aspirin. On went a lightweight cotton suit. Locked doors. In the car. Gone.

‘Nice change you joining us in the pub last night, Jack. It was a huge surprise seeing you lumber through the door half an hour from closing.’ Lisbon’s partner DI Claudia Taylor, crossed the road with a carboard tray containing two cups.

It was a surprise to Jack too. He didn’t remember meeting colleagues at the pub. Fuck. ‘Ah, yeah…’

‘Don’t worry. You didn’t do anything you’d regret.’

Thank God. Reputation intact.

‘You don’t look anywhere near as jovial as you did last night.’ She handed Jack a coffee. ‘Get this into you.’

‘Are you kidding? It’s too hot for coffee.’ He grunted and waved it away.

‘Come on. Don’t be ungrateful. It’ll put a spring back in your step.’

Jack took a sip, spat it straight out. ‘Jesus, I understand you have to sweeten service station coffee to make it drinkable, but seriously, how much effing sugar did you put in it?’ He handed her back the cup. ‘I’d be a diabetic by the time I finished that.’ The only spring caffeine induced in Jack was the desire to spark up a match and light a cigarette. The lozenges he consumed and the patches he wore under the suit helped; no tobacco for three weeks. He sucked in his guts, patted firming stomach muscles under his shirt. Don’t go back to your bad habits, son.

‘Whatever.’ She frowned as she tossed the contents of the second cup on the grassy verge, replaced the empty cup in the tray. ‘Here, you can’t refuse these.’ She handed him a pair of sky-blue surgical gloves and donned a pair herself.

‘Who called it in?’ Jack tugged on the gloves, wiped sweat from his forehead with a shirt cuff.

‘A truckie heading north to fetch a load of bananas.’ Constable Ben Wilson appeared from behind the abandoned vehicle. ‘Called the info line.’

‘Did he leave his name?’

‘Yeah. Don Hawthorne. Gave us some basic info. Got his number if you want to follow up.’

Jack nodded, scuffed black leather shoes in the dirt. He looked up. Dark cumulonimbus clouds were gathering in the east, the promised storm was building nicely. They’d have to work the scene fast. ‘Probably won’t be needing him further. Let’s have a closer look at the vehicle. You,’ he pointed at Wilson. ‘Check the immediate area for anything odd.’

‘Such as?’

‘Use your initiative, Constable. You want to be a detective, don’t you?’

Wilson trudged off in a huff.

‘He’s keen,’ said Taylor. ‘Give him a chance.’

‘Whatever. He was rude to me on the phone this morning.’

‘I’m sure he didn’t mean it.’

The statement hung in the air without comment as Jack opened the driver side door of the late model maroon Mazda 6 sedan.

The first thing to catch his eye was a dark stain on the passenger seat. ‘What do you reckon?’ he called over his shoulder. ‘Blood?’

Taylor peered inside the car. ‘Could be. Want me to get forensics down here? The whole scene looks dodgy.’

Jack shook his head. ‘Spidey senses tingling, are they Taylor? No, I’d like to know who the owner is first before we run at this like a bull at a gate. Have you called in the registration and VIN number?’

‘Not yet.’ Jack sensed a trace of annoyance in her reply, but she could suck it up. ‘I was busy getting the coffee you didn’t want.’

‘Do it now.’ Jack had learned to give commands like they were polite requests. If you stick the Australian rising inflection on any statement you can turn it into a kind of question. ‘I’ll have a shoofty through the interior.’

‘Can you pull the lever so I can find the VIN, please?’ Taylor’s tone was now brusque and businesslike.

Jack’s answer was the sound of the bonnet popping.

‘Thanks.’ She said something else Jack didn’t catch. With her head under the hood, Taylor sounded like she was underwater.

The first thing Jack examined was the dashboard, littered with receipts, dockets and assorted papers. He pressed a button to open the glove box, more papers fluttered out like falling leaves. He scanned a few but nothing grabbed his attention. It’d take hours to go through them all thoroughly; he’d leave them to the forensics team if he and Taylor decided it was worth calling them in. What else? On the floor, take-away wrappers, most from a famous fried chicken outlet, grease-stained white paper bags you get hot chips in. Maybe the mark on the seat was old tomato ketchup?

‘Got the number, Jack.’ Taylor dropped the bonnet with a thunk, walked around to the wound-down driver window and peered in over the top of a pair of designer glasses. ‘Just calling in now with the rego and VIN.’

‘It’s a wonder the officer who took the call didn’t ask the truckie for the number plate. We could have had the details before we even got here. Might have even spared us a trip.’ And I’d be lying on the couch watching classic title fights on YouTube.

‘Apparently the truck driver was already back on the road when he rang it in.’ Taylor ran fine fingers through her hair. ‘Didn’t bother to take note of the plates. Said he didn’t have time to hang around ‘cos his boss was riding his arse about deadlines. He’d seen the driver door wide open and no one inside or near the vehicle, so he stopped to check no one was sick or whatever.’

‘Haven’t there been attacks on women in this area lately?’ Jack asked.

‘You’re right. Maybe the truckie knew that too and it spurred him to do his civic duty.’

‘Maybe.’ Jack looked up from the debris. ‘Or he was seeing if there was anything in the car worth stealing.’

‘You’re a bloody cynical bastard.’

‘I grew up in South London, luv. Shaped my outlook somewhat.’

‘I’ve got a little more faith in people. According to the call transcript, the guy discovered keys hanging from the ignition and the engine idling. Had a quick look about, saw nothing else suspicious and thought the driver had headed into the scrub to ah…, how can I put it, evacuate their bowels.’

A laugh escaped Jack’s lips. ‘For God’s sake, Claudia. Can’t you just say take a shit?’

Taylor mumbled something.

‘Pardon?’ A receipt lay among the junk food debris. Jack held it up and squinted to read the faded ink. A generic cash purchase, unknown vendor, not paid for by credit or debit card. Not helpful.

‘I said no need to be crude.’

‘You think that’s crude? You should hear me when I lose money on a boxing match. I lose my fucking rag.’ Jack wrinkled his nose as he came up for air. The floor of the car gave off a mouldy smell to match the rubbish.

She ignored his remark. ‘Anyway, once the truckie was on the road again, he had second thoughts, wondered if the stain on the seat might be blood, and called it in. Hang on, I’m about to get the name of the vehicle’s owner.’

‘I’ll keep digging in this mess.’ Jack knew from long experience nine times out of ten a car left on the side of the road wasn’t a big issue. Usually it’s been nicked and the thieves scarper when the petrol runs out or they get bored. A sticker gets slapped on the windscreen and the owners are notified to come and pick it up. After a specified amount of time if no one collects, it’s towed away, sold at auction if it’s in good condition or crushed at the wreckers if it’s unroadworthy. Something felt wrong about this car, though.

Jack grabbed the lever under the driver seat and tugged, slid the seat back and peered underneath. More rubbish. A rummage in the front and rear passenger seats and floor spaces rendered nothing but more detritus. He stepped out of the car, popped the boot. Inside, a broad blobby stain on a piece of old carpet that looked like a Rorschach test. Could be blood.

‘Got a name.’ Taylor ended the call. ‘Terrence Bartlett.’

‘Say again?’ Jack’s inner voice told him he’d heard that name before.

‘Bartlett. Terrence Brian Bartlett.’

Yes. Jack did remember the name.


Excerpt from Kill Shot by Blair Denholm.  Copyright 2020 by Blair Denholm. Reproduced with permission from Blair Denholm. All rights reserved.



Blair Denholm is an Australian fiction writer who has lived and worked in New York, Moscow, Munich, Abu Dhabi and Australia.

Denholm’s new series, The Fighting Detective, starring ex-boxer Jack Lisbon, is now up and flying with the first two instalments, Kill Shot and Shot Clock. The series features heavy doses of noir crime with a vigilante justice twist. Expect at least six novels with Detective Lisbon, his fellow cops, and a host of intriguing characters.

Denholm’s debut novel, SOLD, is the first in a noir trilogy, featuring the detestable yet lovable one-man wrecking ball Gary Braswell. The second book in the series, Sold to the Devil, was released in June 2020. The final episode, Sold Dirt Cheap, will see the light of day in 2022.

Finally, Denholm is working on a crime series set in Moscow. Captain Viktor Voloshin is a hard-boiled investigator who has to fight the establishment in order for justice to be served, in his own special way. The first in this series, Revolution Day, will be published in October 2021.

Blair currently resides in Hobart, Tasmania with his partner, Sandra, and two canines, Max and Bruno.

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

Buy the book:

Friday, July 23, 2021



Managing an HOA can be murder.
Murder victims in separate Lowcountry homeowner associations seem to have only two things in common—they antagonized neighbors, and their dead bodies were posed to shock. Are HOA feuds provoking these murders? Kylee Kane, a retired Coast Guard investigator, agrees to help her friend’s HOA management company find an answer. After uncovering decades-old links between the murder victims, Kylee IDs the killer’s next target. Can she foil the third act in the killer’s death-as-theater game or will she be the next corpse on display?  

Book Details:
Title: With Neighbors Like These
Author: Linda Lovely
Genre: traditional mystery
Series: HOA Mystery, book 1

Publisher: Level Best Books (July 13, 2021)
Print Length: 326 pages



1.     Where is your cell phone? Off.
2.     Your hair? Short.
3.     Your workplace? Messy.
4.     Your other half? Supportive.
5.     What makes you happy? Friends.
6.     What makes you crazy? Bullies.
7.     Your favorite food? Cheese.
8.     Your favorite beverage? Lemonade.
9.     Fear? Heights.
10.  Favorite shoes? Walking.
11.  Favorite way to relax? Read.
12.  Your mood? Optimistic.
13.  Your home away from home? Park.
14.  Where were you last night? Couch.
15.  Something that you aren't? Bored.
16.  Something from your bucket list? Train.
17.  Wish list item? Massage.
18.  Where did you grow up? Iowa.
19.  Last thing you did? Exercise.
20.  What are wearing now? Shorts.



Kylee Kane
Friday, September 25, 6:30 p.m.

“Mom, are we eating at the kitchen table?”


Not again.

I look outside. Mom’s standing by the mailbox, tugging on the blue stocking cap that keeps her nearly-bald head warm.

Crap. I said I’d get the mail. She’s a stubborn old cuss. While her skin now looks like wrinkle-mapped parchment, those cagey blue eyes still flash.

Mom stops midway to the house to read something. A postcard? She looks up. Her expression is one I rarely see. Fear? Distress? Definitely bad news.

Ted’s Mustang pulls into the drive, and Mom stuffs whatever worried her into a pocket. Ted jumps out, and Mom’s thin arms embrace him.

Thirty years ago, Ted was my kid brother’s pimpled, bratty best friend, a snot-nosed pest. Last year, when we met up again in the Lowcountry, I couldn’t believe it. These days he could model for GQ. A lot happens when decades pass between sightings.

I open the front door. Mom’s slightly out of breath as Ted helps her up the stairs. While her cancer’s in retreat, chemo has taken a toll.

Ted glances my way and grins.

“Hi, Kylee. See you’re still having trouble getting your mother to behave. Bet you long for those Coast Guard days when you could give orders and know they’d be obeyed.”

“Yep, some days I’m sorry I retired,” I answer.

Mom waves her hand like she’s shooing flies. “Let’s talk about something interesting. Ted, what do you hear from your son?”

“Grant’s great, sends lots of love. Says your care package made life worth living last week. Freshman year’s tough at the Citadel.”

At six-feet, Ted towers over my five-foot-two mother. Though he’s forty-seven, three years my junior, only a hint of silver threads his thick black hair. His hazel eyes seem to change color with his mood or maybe it’s just the light. Tonight, they’re green.

Ted looks worried as he studies Mom. He was eight when his own mother died. After that Mom included him in all our family activities. He loves Mom as much as I do.

During our kitchen table dinner, he regales us with tales of HOA intrigue to lift Mom’s spirits. Since his management company has more than a dozen homeowner associations as clients, his supply of stories seems endless.

“Once upon a time, there were three neighbors,” he begins. “RulesALot is convinced his neighbor, DoggyDo, is harboring three mutts, one more than the two-pet-per-household limit. Since he can’t see over his hedge to prove it, RulesALot launches a spy drone. A pilot he’s not. His drone crashes in ToplessTina’s backyard, who’s suing him as a Peeping Tom. Of course, there’s only one question on every male owner’s mind: Did the drone snap photos of Tina’s tatas before it nosedived?”

Ted’s eyebrows wiggle up and down, and Mom laughs. “Your HOA stories are certainly entertaining.”

“Believe me, the stories are a lot funnier if you’re not expected to wade into the middle of the skirmishes. Never dreamed HOAs would be tougher to manage than U.S. embassies on hostile soil.”

Mom fiddles with her napkin. “Speaking of neighborhood feuds, I have a confession. I figured you’d be scolding me by now, Ted, since you manage our HOA …”

Ted and I look at each other. Uh oh.

“What did you do?” Ted asks. 

“I told the moron Hullis Island directors I’ll sue if they don’t let us vote on what happens to our deer. Emailed copies to all 1,123 owners.”

I reach across the table and squeeze Mom’s hand. Though I agree with her, she needs to focus on regaining strength, not leading a crusade. “Oh, Mom, kicking over a hornets’ nest isn’t part of your cancer recovery regimen.”

Mom’s eyes narrow. “Hey, everyone else bitched and nothing happened. Figured a lawsuit threat might make their little sphincters tighten, and they’d pay attention.”

Mom switches to a fake, shaky geezer voice. “I’m a little old lady, their nightmare plaintiff. Who’s going to go off on some sick, elderly lady?”

Ted’s eyebrows lift. “Exactly what did your email say?”

“Told ’em their plan to shoot our almost-tame deer with no vote on who, what, when, or how was plain wrong. Hullis Island is a nature sanctuary. They can’t unilaterally declare an open hunting season without an island vote to change our covenants.”

Ted shakes his head. “Myrt, I told the board the same thing, though a bit more diplomatically. The directors sided with Cliff, the board president, and his expert, some lawyer drinking buddy, who found a no-vote loophole after they’d tipped a few.”

He shrugs. “Welch HOA Management offers advice, but we’re hired help. Clients call the shots.”

“What loophole?” I butt in. “Don’t the covenants require a vote on any change to the island’s status as a nature sanctuary?”

Ted nods. “Cliff’s citing a provision that allows killing protected animals if they pose a threat to human life.”

I roll my eyes. “What? They say zombie deer are preparing to ambush humans? That exception allows trapping rabid raccoons or aggressive alligators, not shooting starving deer.”

“I cornered Barb Darrin, a director I thought had sense,” Mom says. “Her justification? Deer carry ticks, a health hazard, and they can crash into golf carts.”

Mom sighs. “Everyone agrees the herd’s out of control. Doesn’t give these arrogant SOBs the right to sanction a Wild West killing spree. Sure as shoot, some bozo will mistake a human or a big dog for a deer and fire away. You won’t be able to throw a rock without hitting some guy in camo with a high-powered rifle.”

Ted taps his spoon against his coffee mug. “Myrt, what aren’t you telling us?”

“Well…” She shrugs. “Seems one wannabe deer killer has no qualms about threatening old ladies.” She pulls the crumpled card from the pocket of her baggy sweater. “Found this love note in my mailbox.”

Good grief. That’s what she stuffed in her pocket.

Ted snatches what looks like some movie-maker’s idea of a ransom note. Black-and-white newsprint cut and pasted on a postcard.

“What a nice closing line.” Ted reads, “‘It’s time us hunters declare open season on diseased deer and busybody bitches like Myrtle Kane.’” He turns the card over to look at the front. “Did this come in an envelope?”

“No, just lying in the box.”

“Mom! This is dangerous. Either I’m moving back in with you or you’re coming to live with me.”

“Nonsense,” she scoffs. “It’s pure bluster. Took a year to convince you I’m healthy enough to live alone. Anyway, I get seasick just thinking about sleeping on your boat.  No-sir-ee, you can’t dynamite me out of this house.”

Ted raises his palm in a hold-it gesture. “Myrt, do you think Dan Finley pasted this up?”

She shakes her head. “While I’m convinced he’s our Grass Slayer, it’s not his MO to cut up newsprint and issue threats. More his style to use that big commercial sprayer of his to ruin the Quaids’ lawn tonight.”

I frown. “The Quaids who live cattycorner? What does Finley have against them?”

“They’re one of the couples leading the ‘Save Bambi’ drive.”

“But why would Finley do something tonight?” 

“The Quaids are in Savannah for their son’s wedding,” Mom answers.

Ted sets down his mug. “You may be right about Finley seizing the opportunity.”

Mom chimes in. “The deer have cost him big bucks. The poor starving creatures devour plants like I eat chocolates. Plants he’s guaranteed. His nursery and landscaping business is hurting. He blames folks like the Quaids, who put out buckets of corn to keep the deer alive.”

“Last week, herbicide messages were left on the lawns of two other deer lovers who were out of town,” Ted adds. “Dead yellow grass shows up quite nicely against a field of green Bermuda blades.”

“What kind of messages?” I ask.

Mom shrugs. “One lawn read, ‘Up yours!’ He was more artistic on the other lawn, drew a fist with an extended middle finger.”

I laugh in spite of my worries that Finley might be Mom’s new enemy.

Mom purses her lips. “Sure, it sounds like juvenile hijinks, but the anger’s palpable. Folks who golfed or played bridge together no longer speak. That’s why I’m adamant we need a vote. Then, win or lose, everyone has a say, and we can move on. It’s called democracy.”

“Speaking of democracy, I propose a kitchen vote,” Ted says. “All in favor of Kylee and me staking out the Quaids’ yard tonight raise your hands. That overgrown lot across the street offers a view of their place. Maybe we can catch Dan Finley at work.”

While I’m skeptical a one-night stakeout will succeed, that vacant lot also offers a perfect view of Mom’s mailbox. And I’m all for hanging around to catch anyone delivering hate mail.

Ted and I raise our hands. Mom harrumphs.

“Just what will you do if Dan Finley does drop by?” she asks.

“Video him doing the evil deed.” Ted smiles. “My new phone takes excellent photos in low light.”

Mom grumbles, but won’t argue with our kitchen table vote, a Kane family tradition.

“Just when do you intend to sneak off in the woods?”

Ted glances at his watch. “Say an hour? I doubt Finley would chance a drive-by while folks are still drifting home from dinner at the club.”

“Good. I’ll change into some old clothes and sneakers I left here before I was evicted.”

Ted looks ready for a Southern Living picture shoot in his tan chinos, button-down shirt, and polished loafers. “You sacrificing your HOA meeting duds for this outing?”

His hazel eyes twinkle. “Nope,” Ted answers. “I was a Boy Scout. Your dad, our scoutmaster, taught us well. I have running clothes in the trunk.”


Excerpt from With Neighbors Like These by Linda Lovely.  Copyright 2021 by Linda Lovely. Reproduced with permission from Linda Lovely. All rights reserved.



Dear Killer

Lies: Secrets Can Kill

Dead Line

Bones to Pick


A journalism major in college, Linda Lovely has spent most of her career working in PR and advertising—an early introduction to penning fiction. With Neighbors Like These is Lovely’s ninth mystery/suspense novel. Whether she’s writing cozy mysteries, historical suspense or contemporary thrillers, her novels share one common element—smart, independent heroines. Humor and romance also sneak into every manuscript. Her work has earned nominations for a number of prestigious awards, ranging from RWA’s Golden Heart for Romantic Suspense to Thriller Nashville’s Silver Falchion for Best Cozy Mystery.

Connect with Linda:
Website  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Goodreads

Buy the book:
Amazon Barnes & Noble

Tuesday, July 20, 2021




Sgt. Windflower is on a special assignment in St. John’s and adjusting to life in the big city. He is navigating traffic, a difficult boss at work and what seems like an epidemic of missing girls. He becomes more interested when he discovers that one of the girls is from Grand Bank. Then a girl approaches his RCMP van one night and he is pulled into the underlife of the capital city.

Safe Harbour is a twirling, swirling mystery in the foggy streets of one of the oldest cities in North America. There are outlaw biker gangs and overwhelmed local police officers who need the sharp eye and keen mind of Sgt. Windflower to help them cut through the haze and find the answers to the riddle of the missing teenagers who are hiding in plain sight of the authorities.

But it is also a story of a man and his family growing up together. There is plenty of good food, old and new friends. Share the joy and heartbreak of living so close to the Atlantic Ocean. Welcome back to Sgt. Windflower Mysteries where there’s always something good cooking and another seat at the table.

Book Details:

Title: Safe Harbour

Author: Mike Martin
Genre: mystery

Series: Sgt. Windflower Mysteries
, book 10
Publisher: Ottawa Press and Publishing (June 1, 2021)

Print length: 264 pages


1.    Where is your cell phone? Pocket.

2.    Your hair? Long.

3.    Your workplace? Home.

4.    Your other half? Joan.

5.    What makes you happy? Life.

6.    What makes you crazy? Life.

7.    Your favorite food? Pizza.

8.    Your favorite beverage? Coffee.

9.    Fear? Spiders.

10.    Favorite shoes? Loafers.

11.    Favorite way to relax? Reading.

12.    Your mood? Good.

13.    Your home away from home? Newfoundland.

14.    Where were you last night? Home.

15.    Something that you aren't? Young.

16.    Something from your bucket list? China.

17.    Wish list item? Piano.

18.    Where did you grow up? Newfoundland.

19.    Last thing you did? Walked.

20.    What are wearing now? Shorts.


Mike Martin was born in St. John’s, NL on the east coast of Canada and now lives and works in Ottawa, Ontario. He is a long-time freelance writer, and his articles and essays have appeared in newspapers, magazines, and online across Canada as well as in the United States and New Zealand.

He is the author of the award-winning Sgt. Windflower Mystery series set in beautiful Grand Bank. There are now 10 books in this light mystery series with the publication of Safe Harbour. A Tangled Web was shortlisted in 2017 for the best light mystery of the year, and Darkest Before the Dawn won the 2019 Bony Blithe Light Mystery Award. Mike has also published Christmas in Newfoundland: Memories and Mysteries, a Sgt. Windflower Book of Christmas past and present.

Mike is Past Chair of the Board of Crime Writers of Canada, a national organization promoting Canadian crime and mystery writers and a member of the Newfoundland Writing Guild and Ottawa Independent Writers.

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

Buy the book:
Amazon  |  Barnes & Noble

Friday, July 16, 2021



Geckos & Guns: The Pakistan Years is the latest installment of Sharon Bazant’s riveting travel memoirs. Following on the heels of her 2019, Nine Years in Bangkok: Lessons Learned, this new title Geckos & Guns tells of the time before Bangkok. It is a prequel that follows the first impulses of the Bazant family to break out of the mold, to leave their comfortable Canada home. With two teens in tow, they took a “hardship” posting for the United Nations in Islamabad. The book opens with Sharon and the kids joining Wayne in February 1991 and chronicles their five-year stay there. Bazant brings her gift for detail to the story and paints a beautiful backdrop with her words. 

Where Nine Years in Bangkok is a tale of Bazant’s personal soul journey, the focus of Geckos & Guns is the Bazant family’s time in Pakistan—a time of adjusting to new and different surroundings, of embracing cultural differences, and of recognizing imminent danger. In the five years the Bazant family spent in Pakistan, they learned to love the temperate climate and the stark beauty of the countryside, the spicy curries and the exotic weddings, but they also learned to negotiate constant power cuts, flash floods, trips into opium country, bombings, a family emergency and more. 

Bazant says, “I see each one of us clearly—our ‘selves’ of the past. I think about our experiences, some awe-inspiring, some traumatic, and the decisions we made that forged our future paths. We were younger more optimistic versions of ourselves. Did we make mistakes? Yes. Did we take some wrong turns? Yes. Did some of this form our future selves? Yes. The big question is: Would I do things differently if given the chance? I don’t know. We all did the best we could at the time.”

Book Details

Title: Geckos & Guns: The Pakistan Years

Author: Sharon Bazant

Genre: memoir

Series: Living As An Expat Series, book 2

Publisher: BookLocker (February 1, 2021)

Print length: 358 pages


Things you need in order to write: I need a comfortable, quiet room, a refreshing drink (diet soda, coffee, or ice water), a supportive office chair, a light airy space with views of nature, and inspiring music.  

Things that hamper your writing: noise, interruptions, and lack of inspiration.  

Easiest thing about being a writer: being able to sit down and live and breathe in a world of my own creation. 

Hardest thing about being a writer: having to promote my books. Marketing is a long, arduous albeit necessary journey. 

Things you love about where you live: I love the spectacular mountain and ocean views on the west coast of Canada. I also love the temperate climate and being able to get out in nature all year round. 

Things that make you want to move: in the winter months we sometimes have days and days of wet, dreary weather.

Words that describe you:
creative, adventurous, persevering, hard-working, reliable.
Words that describe you but you wish they didn’t: stubborn, argumentative, outspoken, blunt. 

Favorite foods: corn (or anything with the word ‘corn’ in it), chocolate, Thai food (all of it), ice cream, berries. 
Things that make you want to throw up: I am nauseated by liver, organ meats of any kind, garlic. 

Favorite music: I like almost every genre of music. I enjoy Latin beats, Rat pack tunes, opera, rhythm and blues, pop, rock and roll, and easy listening tunes.
Music that make your ears bleed: when I hear heavy metal music or modal, avant-garde jazz.

Favorite smell: I love the smell of roses and tuberoses.

Something that makes you hold your nose: I have an aversion to the smell of chicken and turkey excrement emanating from poultry farms.

Something you’re really good at: I am really good at teaching.

Something you’re really bad at: I am really bad at sewing.

Something you wish you could do: I wish I could be an accomplished artist like my husband.

Something you wish you’d never learned to do: I wish I had never learned to be such a fussy cleaner. I would like to be able to close my eyes when the house gets messy or a little dirty. I simply cannot do that. 

Something you like to do: I love to read, write, dance, and have cozy coffee chats with friends.

Something you wish you’d never done: I wish I had never taken a summer job at a clothing store when I was 19 years old. I was bullied by the manager, and I hated everything about it. I finally quit. It was the only job I ever quit.

Things you’d walk a mile for: any time spent with my grandsons. I would do anything for them.

Things that make you want to run screaming from the room: if anyone tried to force me to go skydiving. 

Things to say to an author: “I loved your book, and I am going to write a review.” 

Things to say to an author if you want to be fictionally killed off in their next book: “Your book is interesting. I could write a book just like it.” Or “It must be nice to have a little hobby.”

Favorite places you’ve been:
some of my favorite vacations: Santorini in Greece, Petra in Jordan, Masai Mara in Kenya, Dubrovnik in Croatia. 

Places you never want to go to again: I wouldn’t go to the favelas of Rio de Janeiro again.

Things that make you happy: reading a well-written book, dancing to my favorite music, watching a spell-binding movie, and playing with my grandchildren.

Things that drive you crazy: loud, grating noises, rude behavior, and situations where people have opposing opinions and no one will concede, not even a little. 

Proudest moment: witnessing all the achievements of my children and grandchildren.

Most embarrassing moment: when my ill-fitting half-slip fell to the floor in front of a classroom full of students.  

Best thing you’ve ever done: move from Canada to Asia when I was 42 years old. 

Biggest mistake: agreeing to take a job where I knew I wasn’t going to get any support. 

The last thing you did for the first time: took a cruise to Alaska. 

Something you’ll never do again: ride the Matterhorn at Disneyland. I was petrified. 


Sharon Bazant is a retired teacher living in the Fraser Valley near Vancouver, Canada. Geckos and Guns is her second memoir. Sharon has donned a variety of professional and personal hats as a seasoned world traveler and long-term expatriate. Some of her greatest adventures occurred during her years in Pakistan and Thailand. 

Connect with Sharon:

Website  |  Blog  |  Facebook  |  
Twitter  Goodreads  |  Book trailer

Buy the book:

Amazon  |  Barnes & Noble

Monday, July 12, 2021



Regency widow Lily Adler has finally settled into her new London life when her semi-estranged father arrives unexpectedly, intending to stay with her while he recovers from an illness. Hounded by his disapproval, Lily is drawn into spending time with Lady Wyatt, the new wife of an old family friend. Lily barely knows Lady Wyatt. But she and her husband, Sir Charles, seem as happy as any newly married couple until the morning Lily arrives to find the house in an uproar and Sir Charles dead.

All signs indicate that he tripped and struck his head late at night. But when Bow Street constable Simon Page is called to the scene, he suspects foul play. And it isn't long before Lily stumbles on evidence that Sir Charles was, indeed, murdered.

Mr. Page was there when Lily caught her first murderer, and he trusts her insight into the world of London's upper class. With the help of Captain Jack Hartley, they piece together the reasons that Sir Charles's family might have wanted him dead. But anyone who might have profited from the old man's death seems to have an alibi... until Lily receives a mysterious summons to speak with one of the Wyatts' maids, only to find the young woman dead when she arrives.

Mr. Page believes the surviving family members are hiding the key to the death of both Sir Charles and the maid. To uncover the truth, Lily must convince the father who doesn't trust or respect her to help catch his friend's killer before anyone else in the Wyatt household dies.

Book Details:
Title: Silence in the Library
Author: Katharine Schellman
Genre: historical mystery
Series: Lily Adler Mysteries, book 2
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books (July 13, 2021)
Print length: 352 pages



1.     Where is your cell phone? Nearby.

2.    Your hair? Long.

3.     Your workplace? Portable.

4.     Your other half? Supportive.

5.     What makes you happy? Summer.

6.     What makes you crazy? Clutter.

7.     Your favorite food? Watermelon.

8.     Your favorite beverage? Champagne.

9.     Fear? Gone.

10.  Favorite shoes? Kicks.

11.  Favorite way to relax? Reading.

12.  Your mood? Positive.

13.  Your home away from home? Beach.

14.  Where were you last night? Visiting.

15.  Something that you aren't? Discontent.

16.  Something from your bucket list? Greece.

17.  Wish list item? Books.

18.  Where did you grow up? Virginia.

19.  Last thing you did? Nap.

20.  What are wearing now? Stripes.


Katharine Schellman is a former actor, one-time political consultant, and now the author of the Lily Adler Mysteries (Crooked Lane Books) and the forthcoming Nightingale Mysteries (Minotaur/St. Martin’s Press). Her nonfiction and essays have been published on The Huffington Post, Mother Magazine, A Practical Wedding, and more. Katharine’s debut novel, The Body in the Garden, was one of Suspense Magazine’s Best Books of 2020 and led to her being named one of BookPage’s 16 Women to Watch in 2020. Katharine lives and writes in the mountains of Virginia in the company of one grown person, one small person, and the many houseplants she keeps accidentally murdering.

Connect with Katharine:
Website  |  Facebook  |  Twitter Goodreads  |  Instagram  
Buy the book:
Amazon  |  Barnes & Noble  

Saturday, July 10, 2021



This collection of recipes is the ultimate guide to utilizing fresh fruits and vegetables from backyard gardens to farmer’s markets - the freshest, purest source of food we can draw from. Loaded with lots of interesting tid-bits of historical and nutritional information, this book is more than just a recipe book - it is a way of treating yourself to the healthy, delicious rewards of one small garden.

Eating healthy is not always the easiest with the temptation of fast, easy food all around us. Sourcing your food from either your own backyard garden or a farmer’s market is the best, freshest way to ensure your food is full of nutrients and flavour. The next step of turning it into something inviting and appetizing is offered on every page of “From One Small Garden” - a collection of over 300 recipes developed over a span of 30 years of research and development. This book brings it all to the table in a pleasantly delicious way.

Award-winning authors Dave and Lillian Brummet began experimenting with recipes and compiling them into this book in the early '90's while living in the Okanagan valley in British Columbia, Canada. Over the next 3 decades the manuscript traveled with them to the Boundary region where they resided for 12 years, and then on to their permanent home in Creston. All through these travels, the Brummets re-tested the recipes, perfecting them for this collection.

The couple experimented with a vegetarian diet for a few years, went vegan for a short time, and finally settled down to a more balanced diet that included some animal protein with a huge array of fruits, grains, vegetables, wholesome breads and healthy desserts.

This collection of recipes is the ultimate guide to utilizing fresh fruits and vegetables from backyard gardens to farmer’s markets. Loaded with lots of interesting tidbits of historical and nutritional information, this is more than just a recipe book - it is a way of treating yourself to the healthy, delicious rewards of the freshest, purest source of food we can draw from.

It also has some natural concoctions for your pets, home and garden made from common ingredients in a well-stocked kitchen. You'll find ways to save water, tips for reducing energy costs, and frugal ways to extend your budget by reducing food waste. Learn how to make your own chicken coating, or taco seasoning, air fresheners and cleaning supplies - without the use of harsh chemicals. Reduce your exposure to carcinogenic chemicals and fragrances, save a bunch of money, and cut down on packaging and plastic bottles.

Book Details:
Title:  From One Small Garden - Over 300 Delicious Nutritious Recipes
Author: Dave & Lillian Brummet
Genre: Cookbook / health
Print length: 275 pages



A few of your favorite things: my husband, 3 dogs, and cat are somewhat important to me (she laughs), but when it comes to things, then I would have to say my computer and my cell phone are high on the list. My gardens are my joy, and so they too are high on the list. 
Some things you need to throw out: we spent the last 10 years slowly downsizing and organizing our belongings one drawer, one shelf, one box at a time and have pretty much let go of everything we won't be using. The garage/workshop areas could use a good go through, perhaps, as it can get busy there. If I were to name an emotion that I would like to let go - that would be my anxiety and stress.
Things you need in order to write: now that I have younger dogs I find getting YouTube positive mood/meditation music on—and not only do I perform better in the office, but the fur-kids calm down, play nicely by themselves with their many toys laying around the house, and sleep a lot. That is SUPER helpful. :) I almost always turn the phone notifications and volume off.
Things that hamper your writing: things that hamper me are numerous. Clutter is one—having a mess within my eyesight is too distracting, I have to get up and put it right before I can concentrate.
Easiest things about being a writer: is there an easy part about writing? (She laughs.) Writing is a challenging career choice - the term "writer" can be many things from a copywriter to an editor, offer services like coaching or workshops, advance other writers like PR and Publishing Agents do, which also requires creative writing skills. We might freelance - querying articles one at a time to numerous publications, juggling dozens of articles and dozens of queries every week so that we have a steady income. Perhaps we are staff writers or contributing writers . . . and receive a fairly steady paycheck. Maybe we are bloggers or . . . published authors. Perhaps our specialty lies in the product or book review genre.
Hardest thing about being a writer: once a writer is ready to publish - the hardest part comes in with deciding how this particular written piece will be delivered to the reader. Will we create a series, selling subscriptions where they receive one chapter at a time? Will it be in video? Will you publish audio or any of the numerous other ways to get the book to the reader?
Knowing who your audience is key: having a general idea where they go and what they do when they are online and the times they are likely to be online. Perhaps in the case of a cookbook or a how-to manual, your audience may only desire print copies, and so you may decline producing it in any other format. Maybe your audience is purely visual and so the video idea is where you need to go.
Things you love about where you live: Creston (Canada) is a small city in the heart of the Kootenay Region of BC (Canada). It is a lovely, pristine, mountainous, lake-ridden, natural environment - for the most part. The people here really do care, manage and stand up for their clean, natural lands and waters. There's a ton of nonprofits and it is said that up to 60% of the population volunteers in some way - either formally with an organization or individually, on their own.  There is a wonderful circle of food producers here too, which is a pleasant experience.
Things that make you want to move: the things that bother me are the very high property taxes and the limited city services (we still don't have curbside recycling). Summers can be very hot i.e. right now we are experiencing 38˚ C weather. ugh. Shopping is limited here, but there are larger communities a couple hours away.
Words that describe you: tenacious, dedicated, self-disciplined, clean, green, gardener, wife, dog-lover, cook, baker, writer, blogger, author, friend . . .  
Words that describe you but you wish they didn’t: anxious, nervous, afraid, worried, stressed, tired . . .  sometimes cranky (shhh, don't tell anyone - ha ha).
Favorite foods: I am a fan of soup and stew, smoothies, home-baked breads/pancakes/waffles, salads and chocolate - hold the ants. :) I love my own versions of ethnic foods like mild Thai or East Indian curries and Asian stir-fries, Mexican enchiladas, Greek salads, Italian sauces. 

Things that make you want to throw up: aside from tuna, orange roughy and cod—I will not eat most seafood, especially the bugs like lobster, shrimp . . . or slimy oysters, poor little octopi, etc. I also will not eat chocolate covered bugs like ants. Cashews and lamb are definitely off my list.

Favorite music: I could be listening to classical guitar one moment, Janis Joplin and Led Zeppelin the next moment, meditation positive vibe music and blues—lots and lots of blues or just listening to Dave drumming on, well, everything :)
Music that makes your ears bleed: I'm definitely not a fan of rap, acid rock, punk rock, old-fashioned country, most modern pop, busy jazz or opera. Pretty much everything else is exciting to me.  

Favorite beverage: I do love dark coffee with cream - but limit myself to only 3 - 4 cups per day now. Or I'll have Ginger Ale with white rum or vodka, or Corona beer. In the winter, I usually drink a lot of tea, brewed from our own dehydrated herbs usually. I really do enjoy lemonade in the summer.
Something that gives you a pickle face: I don't drink pop except if I'm making a wine spritzer (wine made from the juiced berries and fruits we grow in our gardens . . . mixed with Canada Dry Ginger Ale).

Favorite smell: my favorite scent is no scent at all—clean smells that way (or it should). My second favorite would have to be flowers like lavender, peony, iris . . . the smell of rain, my husband after a shower lol and the girls after a bath . . . the scent of freshly washed/dry dogs is lovely. I'm a big fan of fresh bed linen— it is so cozy when it is fresh.
Something that makes you hold your nose: Eucalyptus, cigar smoke, the smell of fresh tar, cat litter, canned pet food, cat barf . . . mold - they all make me gag.  

Proudest moment: my proudest moment was attaining an award from the Recycling Council of BC for our "outstanding work with the media to raise awareness about waste reduction." That was super cool.
Most embarrassing moment: . . . well, actually, I'm embarrassed a lot, however I'll share a recent experience that would fit into the category as a crazy bad one. First, let me say that I'm shy and struggle with mild dyslexia and an anxiety disorder . . .  I am afraid of spiders (I'm sure you can picture me doing the frantic spider web dance in the garden now) and I'm a bit on the clumsy side. That said, I get to enjoy a lot of embarrassing moments. My face has always been naturally flushed and rosy and so when I get warm, nervous, embarrassed—well my face just flares right up. Now that I'm in my 50's, I'm getting little veins in the areas that were always flushed. Yay. So knowing that—I'll tell you about an interview I did on a vodcast—which was, in this case, a live-stream podcast that utilized video. We had just released the new revision of Purple Snowflake Marketing - How To Make Your Book Stand Out In A Crowd (May 2021), and while the host fired the questions my way, I was also able to see myself on the computer screen. So I see the dogs playing and moaning at each other in the background, and it is getting warm this time of day, and I can see that I am flushed. Noticing that, I get embarrassed and get more flushed. Then I have a glorious hot flash (yay menopause lol)—and I'm really very flushed at this point. But the show had to go on, and so I had to pretend I was not aware and keep going. Luckily the hosts were exceptional and the interview experience itself was quite pleasant . . . in fact the hosts bought a copy of the book I just mentioned. Sadly it had just come out in a new edition and I had not received my author copies until a few days later . . . and there were a few errors, minor, but there just the same . . . and I was triple embarrassed about that. We fixed the minor grammar and typo mistakes immediately of course. I then reached out to apologize and explain to the hosts—in case they noticed the errors in the copy they had ordered. I thought 'how much worse could this have gone?" Holy, it was tough for me to sleep for a few nights. So there - now you all know my most embarrassing moment as a writer :)



Lillian and her husband Dave are the team behind Brummet Media Group, high-fiving cheerfully as they pass each other on the way from checking off one item or other from their long to-do list. After moving to their dream location (in the Kootenay Region of BC, Canada), they have been methodically converting the abused lot over to the little park it has become—and in doing so have gained certification with bee, pollinator and wildlife organizations. Their home, too, has become energy efficient via the many upgrades they have done. Their business includes Dave’s music studio and percussion accessory products and graphic design work as well as numerous award-winning non-fiction books and popular blogs.
Connect with the authors:
 Website  |  Facebook  |  Amazon 

Buy the book: 
Amazon USA  |  Amazon Canada  


Tuesday, July 6, 2021



Born a runt, Rascal is destined to be an underdog. Despite what looked like an unbreakable bond with the daughter of the family who bred her, Rascal’s devotion is discarded when she finds herself left roadside, with nothing but a few pieces of kibble to help her survive. Abandoned and alone, Rascal must learn to fend for herself and embark on a harsh and dangerous journey through the mountain wilderness of Southern California. Along the way, she encounters strangers who teach her about the good and bad of humans. But will she ever find a home that lasts? A Dog of Many Names is a courageous story of survival, seen through the eyes of an unforgettable dog, struggling between her greatest needs — to find her own strength, and to love and be loved.

Book Details

Title: A Dog of Many Names

Author: Douglas Green    

Genre: dog fiction

Publisher: Circuit Breaker Books (July 6, 2021)

Print length: 177 pages


A few of your favorite things:
my dog (duh!), my 1967 convertible Mustang, my record collection, my new book, and the chocolate in my kitchen!
Things you need to throw out: the scads and scads of old bills and papers I’ve saved because I’m not sure what I’ll get “in trouble” for not having saved for decades.

Things you need in order to write: peace and time.
Things that hamper your writing: lack of peace, lack of time!

Things you love about writing: everything, as long as my mind is clear.
Things you hate about writing: when I compare my writing to others’. I had a relative (first cousin twice removed) who released an acclaimed novel near the end of his years. When my mother phoned to congratulate him on the accomplishment, he responded, “Well it’s not Huckleberry Finn.”  I know that illness too well!

Easiest thing about being a writer: the physical act of writing.  Nothing to it - we learned it in kindergarten or so, and typing is even easier.  Alone we can write whatever we want, so no problem.  

Hardest thing about being a writer: getting it out there. And especially, the choices one has to make in doing so. The feature film I directed took a strenuous year to make. I then spent five years devoted to recuts, festivals, screenings, courting reviewers, etc.  Mostly fruitlessly.  (In comparison, I’m having a great time with this book – answering your questions is a hell of a lot more fun than cold-calling Miramax was!)

Things you love about where you live: Los Angeles. (I have to write about what it was like before the pandemic, the way we expect it to be again soon): the variety of people I interact with, the ability to get to great everything (from beach to skiing, from opera to tacos, from chiropractor to black box theater).
Things that make you want to move: the traffic that comes from that variety of people knowing how great things are here!

Favorite foods: sushi, chocolate, peaches, martinis.
Things that make you want to throw up: bad barbecue (I’m from Kansas City originally, so the bar is set high!)

Favorite music:
so much. Love early rock and roll, big band, grand opera, big fan of Bob Dylan, Linda Ronstadt, Roy Orbison, the Ink Spots. Got weepy when I recently learned Tony Bennett has Alzheimers.  (It’s no accident that I named my last dog Shirelle and this one Aria!)
Music that make your ears bleed:
there’s no type of music I hate, but I do get bored of anything after a while.  So I’d like a decade of not hearing “Benny and the Jets,” “Piano Man,” or “Hotel California,” so I could enjoy them again!

Favorite beverage: I love many cocktails, but I have to go with European Drinking Chocolate – not cocoa, but the thick-as-molasses jolt of hot ecstasy (and yes it’s just as sexy as that sounds!)

Something that gives you a pickle face: a few years back I directed a play written by a friend, in which the characters shared a drink called a Kir Royale, made of champagne and Crème de Cassis. If you’ve never tried one – believe me, it was much more fun watching the characters drink them in the play!

Something you’re really good at: complimenting and encouraging dancers and athletes.

Something you’re really bad at: dancing and sports.

Something you wish you could do: dancing and sports!
Something you wish you’d never learned to do: accept failure at them so easily. (As my favorite comic strip, Pearls Before Swine, said recently – I might be paraphrasing – “Failure is not an option. In my case, it’s a lifestyle!”)

Things you’d walk a mile for: love primarily. Though I’d exchange the Camel quote for Bruce Springsteen’s “Baby I’d drive all night just to buy you some shoes,” or Bob Dylan’s “I could hold you for a million years, to make you feel my love,” or Rod Stewart’s “I'd walk a million miles across broken glass or a red hot Arabian desert if I could just have one night in your long brass bed!”
Things that make you want to run screaming from the room: well, since you mention it, I stopped smoking about 15 years ago so the smell of cigarettes now nauseates me – including Camels!

Things to say to an author: your actual emotional reaction to their work, whatever it is.  Last week I met a woman who described reading The Teachings of Shirelle, saying at the first she just kept asking herself “Is he just going to talk about this dog and nothing else?” and then found herself falling in love with the dog, and then crying unstoppably.  I told her she was everything I’d written it for.

Things to say to an author if you want to be fictionally killed off in their next book: “It’s a nice book (play, movie, etc.) but next time you should do something with passion.  You know, like Oliver Stone.”

Things that make you happy: the laughter of children, my dog’s tail wagging circularly, rain.

Things that drive you crazy: drivers who stop at green lights, acclaim for bad writing, people choosing to believe ignorance is a virtue,

Proudest moment: The first public reading of my book The Teachings of Shirelle, to an audience of about eighty people – in a bookstore so we were surrounded by great authors as well!
Most embarrassing moment: oh the competition is fierce!  Of what I’m willing to admit – speeches I gave that didn’t work, romantic rejections, and showing up to work in torn or muddy clothes (I’m pretty clumsy).

Most daring thing you’ve ever done: as has been said for millennia, there’s a fine line between courage and stupidity. So the most daring but not stupid thing I’ve ever done? Probably a three-way-tie between putting-all-my-eggs-in-the-one-basket of making a feature film, changing careers when that didn’t work out, and pouring my heart into my first book and self-publishing it.

Something you chickened out from doing: some years back, I dated a woman who, for her 30th birthday, arranged for a skydiving party. I told her I couldn’t bring myself to do it.  Joined with them afterwards, taking a lot of flack for my cowardice. A few weeks later, she tripped on a sidewalk, and the fall broke her leg in three places.  I supported her in every way I could, but felt – not vindicated, but pretty damned glad I’d made the choice I did!

The last thing you did for the first time: answer your questions.

Something you’ll never do again: not know or appreciate you!  Thanks for all this!


The Teachings of Shirelle: Life Lessons from a Divine Knucklehead.


Douglas Green is the author of the widely-acclaimed 2015 book The Teachings of Shirelle: Life Lessons from a Divine Knucklehead, and runs the advice website AskShirelle.com, based on the wisdom in the book, which he was taught by his ridiculous dog. Released from decades in the entertainment business for good behavior, he directed the film The Hiding Place, and now works as a psychotherapist in Los Angeles, specializing in children and teenagers.

Connect with Douglas:
Website  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Goodreads  |  Instagram 

Buy the book:
Circuit Breaker Books  |  Amazon  |  Barnes and Noble

Saturday, July 3, 2021



Carra's memoir-writing class teaches seniors to resolve the regrets of their past. But to win over elder attorney Jay, will she follow her own advice?

Carraway (Carra) Quinn is a free-spirited English major confronting an unreceptive job market. Desperate for cash, she reluctantly agrees to her realtor stepmother's marketing scheme: infiltrate a local senior center as a recreational aide, ingratiate herself with the members, and convince them to sell their homes.

Jay Prentiss is a straitlaced, overprotective elder attorney whose beloved but mentally fragile Nana attends that center.

More creative than mercenary, Carra convinces Jay to finance innovations to the Center's antiquated programming. Her ingenuity injects new enthusiasm among the seniors, inspiring them to confront and reverse the regrets of their past. An unlikely romance develops.

 But when Carra's memoir-writing class prompts Jay's Nana to skip town in search of a lost love, the two take off on a cross-country, soul-searching chase that will either deepen their relationship or tear them apart forever.

Book Details:
Title: The Queen of Second Chances
Author: D.M. Barr
Genre: sweet contemporary romance
Series: Regret Thee Not series, book 1
Publisher: Champagne Books, (June 7, 2021)

Print length: 204 pages


1.     Where is your cell phone? Handbag.

2.     Your hair? Auburn.

3.     Your workplace? Couch.

4.     Your other half? Upstairs.

5.     What makes you happy? Massages.

6.     What makes you crazy? Hypocrisy.

7.     Your favorite food?  Lobster.

8.     Your favorite beverage? Milkshake.

9.     Fear? Death.

10.  Favorite shoes? Sandals.

11.  Favorite way to relax? Reading.

12.  Your mood? Curious.

13.  Your home away from home? Tahiti.

14.  Where were you last night? Bed.

15.  Something that you aren't? Inauthentic.

16.  Something from your bucket list? Maldives.

17.  Wish list item? AudiA8.

18.  Where did you grow up? Brookville.

19.  Last thing you did? Write.

20.  What are wearing now? Smile.



Chapter One

I couldn’t take my eyes off the man. He came barreling into the recreational center at SALAD—Seniors Awaiting Lunch and Dinner, Rock Canyon’s answer to Meals on Wheels—as I sat in the outer office, awaiting my job interview. He was tall, but not too tall. His expensive suit barely concealed an athletic physique that fell just shy of a slavish devotion to muscle mass. Early thirties, I estimated, and monied. Honey-blond curly hair, blue eyes, high cheekbones, chiseled features, gold-rimmed glasses, and of course, dimples. Why did there always have to be dimples? They were my kryptonite, rendering me powerless to resist. I nicknamed him Adonis, Donny for short, lest anyone accuse me of being pretentious. He was the stuff of every girl’s dreams, especially if that girl was as masochistic as yours truly. Men like that didn’t fall for ordinary girls like me, gals more Cocoa Puff than Coco Chanel, more likely to run their pantyhose than strut the runway. I leaned back on the leather couch, laid down my half-completed application, and prepared to enjoy the view. Then he opened his mouth, and the attraction withered like a popped balloon.

“I want to speak to Judith. Now. Is she here?”

The sharpness of his voice put Ginsu knives to shame. It was jagged enough to slash open memories of my mother’s own barely contained temper when refereeing sibling disputes between Nikki and me. Well, at least until she prematurely retired her whistle and skipped town for good. The attendant working the main desk looked fresh out of nursing school and had obviously missed the lecture on dealing with difficult clients. She sputtered, held up both hands in surrender, and retreated into the administration office, reemerging with an older woman whose guff-be-gone demeanor softened as she got closer. Her name tag read, “Judith Ferester,” the woman scheduled to conduct my interview. She took one look at Donny, sighed as if to say, Here we go again, and plastered on her requisite customer service smile.

“Mr. Prentiss, to what do we owe the honor of this visit?” she asked in a tone sweet enough to make my teeth hurt. “Judith, I thought we had this discussion before. I trust you to take care of my nana, but day after day, I discover goings-on that are utterly unacceptable. Maybe we shouldn’t have added the senior center, just limited SALAD to meal delivery. Last week you served chips and a roll at lunch? That’s too many carbs. This week, I find someone is duping her out of her pocket change. No one is going to take advantage of her good nature, not under my watch.”

I half-expected him to spit on the ground. Was such venom contagious? I didn’t want my prospective employer in a foul mood when she reviewed my application. I really, really needed this job.

“Mr. Prentiss,” Judith answered, her patronizing smile frozen in place, “I assure you that your championing of our senior center was well founded. The reason your nana isn’t complaining is that she receives the utmost care. She is one of our dearest visitors. Everyone loves her.”

“Tell me then, what is this?” Donny—scratch that, Mr. Prentiss—drew a scrap of paper from his pocket and flung it onto the counter. I leaned forward to make out the object of his disdain. Then, thinking better of it, I relaxed and watched as this melodrama played itself out. Judith glanced down at the paper.

“This? It’s a scoresheet. They play gin for ten cents a hand. We monitor everything that goes on here; your grandmother is not being conned out of her life savings. You have my word.”

Prentiss shook his head so vigorously his gold-rimmed glasses worked their way down to the tip of his perfect nose. He pushed them back with obvious annoyance. Even when he was acting like a jerk, his dimples were captivating. Would they be even more alluring if he smiled? Did he smile…like, ever?

“It’s not the amount that worries me. It’s the act itself. Many seniors here are memory impaired. How can you condone gambling between people who aren’t coherent? Could you please keep a closer eye on things? Otherwise, I’m afraid I’ll have to take my nana—and my support—to the center I’ve heard about across the river.”

Without waiting for Judith’s response, Prentiss departed as brusquely as he’d arrived. Ah, the entitlement of the rich. Walk over everyone, then storm off. He never even noticed my presence. Just as well, considering my purpose for being there. Even if I wasn’t sorry to see the back end of his temper, his rear end was pleasant enough to watch as he exited, I noted with a guilty shudder. Judith shook her head, rolled her eyes, and let out a huff. Then she noticed me.

“I’m so sorry you had to overhear that. I’m the director here. How can I help you?”

“I’m Carraway Quinn. Everyone calls me Carra. I have an appointment for the recreational aide position.”

Judith typed a few keystrokes into the main desk’s computer. “Ah yes, Ms. Quinn. Carraway, like the seed?”

“Something like that,” I said with a smile. They always guessed, but no one got it right. Some man would, one day. That’s what my mother said a million years ago, when she still lived within earshot. One man would figure it out, and that’s how I’d know he was the one for me. Not that it mattered right now. I had bigger problems than finding a new boyfriend.

“Tell me, would I have to deal with people like that all day?” I tilted my head in the direction of Prentiss’s contrail.

“What can I say? He loves his nana.” Judith shrugged, staring at the door. “Though I’ve never seen him lash out like that before. He’s usually so calm.” She quickly shifted into public relations mode. “Jay Prentiss is one of our biggest contributors. It’s only because of his generosity that we have this senior center and can afford to hire a recreational aide.” She beckoned me into the inner office. “Shall we proceed?”

I followed, but I had my doubts. I belonged in the editorial office of a magazine or on a book tour for my perennially unfinished novel, not at a senior center. This job was my stepmother’s idea, not mine. Calling it an idea was being generous; it was more like a scheme, and the elderly deserved better than someone sent here to deceive them. I was the embodiment of what Jay Prentiss worried about most. The interview lasted less than ten minutes, as if Judith was going through the formalities but had already decided to hire me. I was to start my orientation the following day. I shook her hand and thanked her, all the while wishing I were anywhere else. Afterward, I wandered into the recreation area, where I’d be spending most of my time. The room was dingy, teeming with doleful seniors watching television, playing cards, or staring off into space. A few complained among themselves about a jigsaw puzzle they were unable to finish because the last pieces were missing. I wondered how many had lost their spouses and came to the center out of loneliness, their children too busy with their own lives to visit. It was a heartbreaking thought. Jay Prentiss was complaining about carbs and gambling when he should have been concentrating on ennui. The seniors’ dismal expressions told me they were visiting SALAD more out of desperation than opportunity. It was clear they needed an injection of enthusiasm, not some aide looking to unsettle their lives. It came down to my conscience. Could it triumph against my stepmother’s directives and my plummeting bank account?

--- Excerpt from The Queen of Second Chances by D.M. Barr.  Copyright © 2021 by D.M. Barr. Reproduced with permission from D.M. Barr. All rights reserved.



By day, a mild-mannered salesperson, wife, mother, rescuer of senior shelter dogs, competitive trivia player and author groupie, happily living just north of New York City. By night, an author of sex, suspense and satire.

D.M. Barr’s background includes stints in travel marketing, travel journalism, meeting planning, public relations and real estate. She was, for a long and happy time, an award-winning magazine writer and editor. Then kids happened. And she needed to actually make money. Now they're off doing whatever it is they do (of which she has no idea since they won't friend her on Facebook) and she can spend her spare time weaving tales of debauchery and whatever else tickles her fancy.

The main thing to remember about her work is that she is NOT one of her characters. For example, as a real estate broker, she never played Bondage Bingo in one of her empty listings and has never offed anyone at her local diet clinic.

But that's not to say she hasn’t wanted to . . .

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