Interview with Cher’ley Grogg Author of “The Secret in Grandma’s Trunk”

GROGGCher’ley writes different genres. The Journey Back–One Joy at a Time is a devotional book. Stamp Out Murder is a cozy mystery, The Secret in Grandma’s Trunk is a YA novel, Boys Will Be Boys is an anthology, Four Moons and Fair Ladies is a Christian Western Romance.

She has stories in Cowboys, Creatures & Calico and The C3 Anthology. Cher’ley is featured in “Small Town America” and “West Virginia Memories”. She has won contests and awards and is published internationally. Her poems, short stories and articles are published online and in print books. She drives an eighteen-wheeler, and enjoys photography, painting, fishing, reading, walking, dancing, and long, long baths. She loves the Lord, her husband, children, grandchildren, great-grandson, and her Cairn terrier, Tootsie.

What made you decide to be an author?

It’s a funny story. When my husband was in college, he was struggling with his English writing assignments, so I helped him. Each time I helped him, his instructors and another teacher would say, “You should be a writer.” He’d come home and say, “You should be a writer.” I was so busy at that time with my visual art that I put it off for years before I decided to give it a try, and I found that I enjoyed writing.

What do you like best about being a writer?

I love to create and to do research. I find a whole new world in the research I do for each book.

How do you think your life experiences have prepared you for writing YA Mysteries?

I was young once. LOL. I raised children and was around my grandchildren a lot. I know what young people like. This book reaches from Tweens-to Seniors. The two lead characters are 13 and 88 years old.

Have you ever felt as if you were being dictated to while you wrote a book–as if the words came of their own accord? If yes, which book did that happen with?

I think all of them to a certain degree. My next book which doesn’t have a title yet, it’s a Christian Western Romance, I say Christian because it’s void of sex and low language, but it has lots of adventure, most of it came to me in the wee hours of the morning before I got out of bed. Not exactly a dream, but in that dreamy time right before you stretch. I anxiously jumped up and started typing.

You’ve written 5 novels and are working on 3 more right now. What’s your favorite time management tip?

I’m not a good one for time management. If I were I wouldn’t be up after 10:30 at night answering these questions. I write in chunks. I may not write anything for weeks or even months, then I work fast and furious, getting up early and staying up late until I get the novel completed. I don’t always get the novel completed in one session. Right now I am almost finished with 2 of the novels, but I haven’t finished either yet.

Are you a plotter or a pantser, i.e., do you outline your books ahead of time or are you an “organic” writer?

I am both. I prefer a loose complete outline. It makes it easier to write if I know where I’m going, but it usually changes several times before I get to the end. In “Stamp Out Murder” the killer changed three times before I finally settled on one guy and wrote “The End.”

If you had one take away piece of advice for authors, what would it be?

Don’t shortchange yourself. I kept hearing write what you know, well I didn’t feel that would take me very far, but I had a lot of interests or even things I may be interested in somewhere in the future, so that’s why research is my friend. If I had only wrote what I felt I knew, what would it have been about—changing diapers? I’m being silly, but sometimes you hear certain things over and over and they may not apply to you, or you may be misinterpreting the meaning.

Do you listen to music when you write?

Sometimes yes and sometimes no. I like to watch Dancing with the Stars, or The Voice, or any show like those when I first set out to write, but within a short time I’ve shut everything out, so it really doesn’t matter what music is playing or what show is on, I don’t hear them.

Tell me more about The Secret in Grandma’s Trunk.

Brandon is not a quiet young man. He’s very outgoing and loud. He’s a leader and his boisterous personality works well for him, but not listening also gets him into a lot of trouble. Jordan his cousin is a female version of Brandon, but Jacob his brother is the opposite. He’s a quiet listener, a thinker. The 13 year olds get in a passel of trouble because of not listening, and Jacob quietly follows them. Here’s the Blurb: A teen’s life disrupts when his Great-Grandmother, a stranger comes to live with him and his family. She upsets his life so much that he stoops pretty low to get rid of her, including trying to find a way to get into the oversized trunk she has stored in his garage. Spunky Grandma keeps the key in a special place. The kids expect treasure, but discover a terrible secret instead, which puts Grandma in danger’s way.

How about an excerpt from The Secret in Grandma’s Trunk?

The fog lifted from the Ohio River. Two brothers sat on the dock behind their house. Brandon Dickens tossed a rock into the water and watched it sink. “I’m going to hate her.”

“Maybe, maybe not.” Jacob said. He crooked his head sideways to look up at his older brother.

“She’s not taking your room.” Brandon tossed another rock. The ripples spread across the water. A cool breeze morphed the circles into an oblong shape. “She’s really, really old. She probably stinks, you know, like old people do. Why does she have to come here?”

Jacob said, “Mom said if she doesn’t come to stay with us, she’ll have to go to a home. I don’t know what’s so bad about that. We live in a home.”

Brandon slowly released his big-brother-knows-more-than-little-brother sigh. “A home is not a house. It’s a big place where a bunch of old people live. By the time I get done with her, she’ll beg to go to a home.” Brandon seethed. He tried to get control of his emotions, but dread mixed with fear filled his very being. During the whole school year, he’d planned his summer vacation and now it was all going to change just because this old woman was coming to live with him and his family.

Jacob said, “What are you going to do? She is our grandma, you know.”

“She’s our great-grandmother. There’s a difference. We don’t know her.” Brandon looked across the river at the island he loved. His stomach churned. He wished he was out there right now. He didn’t want to deal with all this stuff. He had enough going on in his life.

Just then, the biggest moving van, the boys had ever seen, drove slowly down the street. They watched as it passed their house.

Where can readers find more about your stories, books and you on the Internet?
Website: http://cherleygroggauthor.weebly.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/cherleygroggfanpage
Twitter: https://twitter.com/cherley
Blog: https://writingwranglersandwarriors.wordpress.com/tag/the-secret-in-grandmas-trunk/
Buy Link: The Secret in Grandma’s Trunk

Thank you so much for being with us here today. I know my readers will enjoy your work and your interview.

Interview with Pavarti K Tyler, Author of The Sugar House Novellas

PavartiWhat made you decide to be an author?
It wasn’t really a choice. If you want to know the truth of it, I was one of those twi-moms :) I read all the Twilight books and got increasingly angry the more I read. By Breaking Dawn I was fuming. When Jacob imprinted on Bella’s baby I actually threw my book across the room (much to my dog’s dismay!). After finishing them, I started reading fanfiction but couldn’t quite get the closure I wanted. Talk about loving and hating a book! So I wrote my own fanfiction. Over 500,000 words later, my readers convinced me to try my hand at creating my own world and characters. Since then I haven’t looked back.

What do you like best about being a writer? What do you like the least? How do you think your life experiences have prepared you for writing?
My college degree was in dramaturgy (it’s a real word – I promise!). Even though the focus is different with a degree in theatre, the primary discipline I studied was research. I love research. I love to world build. It’s one of my favorite parts of writing actually. Other than school, my life experiences have very much influenced my writing. I traveled a lot in my twenties and have always been interested in multi-culturalism. Even though I don’t write in one genre, I think there’s a throughline in all my work about the things that separate us (race, religion, politics) vs. the things that bind us together (love, compassion, curiosity).

Have you ever felt as if you were being dictated to while you wrote a book–as if the words came of their own accord? If yes, which book did that happen with?
All my books are this way. I really only write to keep the voices in my head from becoming a diagnosable condition instead of a career :)

You’ve written three novels, three novellas and two shorts. Right now you’re getting ready for the release of your third short and are working on a fourth novel. What’s your favorite time management tip?
Sending my kids to school! I’m the only person I know who longs for the end of Winter Break and dreads summer vacation. Sign me up for summer camps and school! I love my kids, but trying to do this when they were younger and still home with me was a nightmare. Now that they’re in school, I’m ecstatic over all my blessed free time :) To keep me on task, I have a dedicated writing space and a progress tracking calendar that I use to keep track of my daily word count. It’s ridiculous, but extremely satisfying to put little glitter stickers on the day to show what I accomplished.

Are you a plotter or a pantser, i.e., do you outline your books ahead of time or are you an “organic” writer?
I do what I call “beat” outlines. Basically, I know the full arc of the story, Beginning Middle and End, but I don’t always know how I’m going to get from point A to point B. I then write a supper detailed outline of the next 3 chapters or so. Writing is just filling in the blanks between beats. When I get through, I outline the next chunk and so on and so forth. This allows me to plot as I go but also have an overriding structure holding everything together.

If you had one take away piece of advice for authors, what would it be?
Writing a book only has 2 steps
1 – Shut Up
2 – Write

Most of us only get in our own way by making it more complicated than that. Myself included!

Did music help you find your muse with this book? If yes, which song did you find yourself going back to over and over again as you wrote?
I create playlists for all my books :) You can listen to the Playlist for The Sugar House Novellas here: http://grooveshark.com/playlist/Sugar+House/101265461

It was a lot of fun to make and I listen to it a lot. When my kids aren’t home of course!

Tell me more about The Sugar House Novellas. TYLER_Sugarhouse Novellas
The Omnibus Edition of “The Sugar House Novellas,” includes novellas 1-3 and a bonus short story focused on one of the minor characters who turned out to be a fan favorite.

Enter the world of The Sugar House. Here you’ll meet the illustrious Madam Janice Cane and her brood of men and women who will fulfill your every fantasy. But can they find a way to fulfill their own?

Sugar & Salt
After over a decade working in the sex industry, Janice Cane retains no illusions about the nature of relationships. Everyone lies and everyone wants something. Still, a part of her longs for a connection.

Speed-dating becomes her addiction, a place to find a man for the night when she needs a quick fix, and her last hope that true love may still be waiting around the next corner. When a mysterious man entices both her intellect and her lust, she becomes entangled in an affair more complicated than she’d expected.

Protecting Portia
Jackson Grady met the love of his life. Unfortunately, he was running drugs for a pimp named Sasha at the time, who asked him to keep an eye on their new acquisition from Russia, the bedraggled beauty named Portia. She touched his heart and forced him to confront the kind of man he’d become.

Now, Portia and Jackson both work at The Sugar House. He continuously looks out for her, and longs for her with his every breath, but knows he is unworthy of such an angel. What will Portia do to win not only the heart, but also the body, of the man she loves?

Dual Domination
Caitrin’s a Dominatrix at the high class brothel The Sugar House, and an elegant burlesque performer with leagues of men and women falling at her feet. The Sugar House is her home, her hunting ground, but she’s never felt like she belonged. Only with her childhood friends and fellow deviants, Donovan and Raef, has she found her place.

Donovan prefers his women on the submissive side, and likes to create erotic art out of rope and the female form. When a crisis at The Sugar House puts a friend in trouble, he must confront his deeper feelings for the one woman he’s told himself he can’t have – Caitrin.

With their friendship in turmoil and The Sugar House on the verge of collapse, can these two friends find their way to each other?

Where can readers find more about your stories, books and you on the Internet?

Website: www.PavartiKTyler.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PavartiKTylerAuthor
Twitter: @PavartiKTyler

Buy Links:
The Sugar House Novellas Omnibus: http://smarturl.it/SugarHouse
Sugar & Salt, The Sugar House Novellas Book 1: http://smarturl.it/SugarSalt
White Chalk: http://smarturl.it/WhiteChalk
Consumed by Love: http://tinyurl.com/p38b67x
Dead Girl: http://smarturl.it/DeadGirl
Shadow on the Wall: http://tinyurl.com/75rbhwp
Your Road Map to Successful Author Events: http://smarturl.it/InPersonEvents

Pavarti, thank you so much for being with us here today. I know my readers will enjoy your work and your interview.

New Anthology Release: Call Me Valentino

Call me Valentine

Fall in love this Valentine’s Day as USA Today and Amazon Best Selling authors come together to bring you one sexy hero written in five different genres. Call Me Valentino uses the same hero set in five different worlds. Your new book boyfriend is a cowboy, an FBI agent, A Highland Laird, a real estate developer and even a vampire. Which Valentino will be your favorite?

 

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1xk1Cl8 Nook: http://bit.ly/1stSU8d Kobo: http://bit.ly/1z2QMXs

 

Interview with Mary Eleanor Wilson , Author of Somewhere Down the Road

Calvin and mommyWhat made you decide to be an author?

I didn’t really have any choice. Writing is the only thing I can really do. When I was a little kid, I used to listen to my parents read and then tell them what would have made it more interesting. As a bigger kid, I used to entertain my best friend with endless sagas and ongoing stories. I’ve done the same thing with my children.

What do you like best about being a writer?

I like the free use of my creativity. Being able to make something out of nothing is the best example of freedom I’ve ever experienced. Being a writer makes me real – not some fake daily desk jockey that I’ve always had to be before.

What do you like the least?

The not knowing. In the six days since my book was released, I’ve spent about half that time wondering how it’s doing and worrying if it’s being read.

How do you think your life experiences have prepared you for writing?

As a southern woman, born and bred in Kentucky, I have seen, heard, and experienced a lot of things that would be entertaining and even downright shocking to the outside world. I believe there is a little bit of us in all of our stories. It just so happens that I have a huge cache having grown up in an odd family in a part of the country most people overlook.

Have you ever felt as if you were being dictated to while you wrote a book–as if the words came of their own accord? If yes, which book did that happen with?

I generally begin by writing the book in my head. I start putting it down, just moving the story from my mind through my fingers and out to the keyboard. However, it never fails that I find my characters coming to life and demanding they get their say. I let them have it. They’re smart; they know what they’re doing.

You’ve published one novel and are working on a fourth novel to submit. What’s your favorite time management tip?

I have to block out time to write. Living on a farm and raising hunting dogs takes a lot of time. I try to write every day, but in planting/harvesting times I don’t always get to do that.

Are you a plotter or a pantser, i.e., do you outline your books ahead of time or are you an “organic” writer?

I figure them out in my head and then put them on paper, but I allow the story to take its own path. I’m always open to changes in direction.

If you had one take away piece of advice for authors, what would it be?

Be patient. It takes time. Things are much better now than they were 20 years ago. Believe in yourself, even if no one else does.

Did music help you find your muse with this book? If yes, which song did you find yourself going back to over and over again as you wrote?
There is a spiritual quoted in the book as Tassie, the main character, travels with a wagonload of slave children. The driver is singing about following the dipper gourd, meaning the Big Dipper. I hit upon that quite by accident one day as I was researching spirituals, and it stuck with me.

Tell me more about Somewhere Down the Road. sdr final cover

When the Civil War tears her family apart, Tassie Folden must journey from her Tennessee home to a new life with her aunt in Cincinnati. When she runs into trouble in dangerous territory, she is aided by a handsome Union officer. When their paths cross again, Tassie begins to wonder if her future might include him. But Major Micah Corchoran is the most secretive man she’s ever met. What is he hiding? And how can they have a future together if he won’t trust her?

Micah Corchoran uses his position in the Union Army to aid in a dangerous and secretive cause. Returning home from the war, he again encounters the lovely Southern belle he aided on the road. He’s already fallen for Tassie, but loving her could put his family at risk. Can he trust her with his secret?

When his secret comes to light and the schemes of a blackmailer are exposed, Tassie hopes her journey is complete. Does her future lie here or somewhere down the road?

How about an excerpt from Somewhere Down the Road?
Footsteps falling heavily behind her in the wet ground distracted her. Micah approached, his fair hair gleaming in the moonlight.

“What has you so fascinated, Belle?”

Tassie folded her arms across her chest. “I’ve told you before, I’m not a southern belle. I’m just a girl from Tennessee.”

“Oh, yes, our fugitive from Tennessee. I’m still waiting to hear how you ventured from Piney Gap to Elizabethtown, Kentucky, all while heading for Cincinnati, Ohio.”

“I suppose you’ll have to go on waiting,” she said airily. “Although, you may know more about my journey than you’re admitting.”

“Why do you say that?”

“Perhaps you could tell me why a man in a dark blue cape with red embroidered piping, an exact replica of your own, was seen stealing my horse several weeks ago?” Tassie leaned toward him in the moonlight, relishing the fact she had caught him off guard.

“My cape? How would you know anything about my cape?”

“The night Bill and I came through your checkpoint I looked back and saw you put it on. So, I figure whatever group of bloodthirsty Yanks you belong to is also the membership of the man I saw steal my horse. His cape was identical to yours.”

Micah raised his eyebrows. “The war ended, Tassie. I don’t know where any of those men are now. I’m sorry.”

“I think you know who he is, Major. And I think you’re covering up for whoever he is.”

Where can readers find more about your stories, books and you on the Internet?
Somewhere Down the Road is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and, of course, on The Wild Rose Press.

Facebook: Gloria Garner Haynes

Thank you so much for being with us here today. I know my readers will enjoy your work and your interview.

Character Interview: Dafydd Smith from The Case of the Reincarnated Lover

Reincarnated CVWhere are you from? Did you have a happy childhood?

I was born in sunny California, Monterey to be exact. I’m the last of nine kids, with six older brothers and two sisters. It was a happy enough childhood. Like most kids, I didn’t think about it at the time, but I love all my family, and I’ve got no complaints. I was home-schooled, and sometimes wish I’d gone to school like all the other kids, but when you can do magic, it’s tough to fit in.

Where do you live now and what do you do for a living? Is there something you’d rather be doing?

I moved to Washington D.C. just after I turned 21, and I guess you’d say I have two jobs. To pay the bills, I sell nutritional supplements. My mom sold Mary Kay, so network marketing runs in the family. However, I also use my magic to help people by getting rid of ghosts, finding lost objects, that sort of thing. No love potions, though. Those are just bad news. I love both my jobs, and, no, right now I wouldn’t change anything about them. Well, if a few more people signed up as my downline, I wouldn’t object.

What’s going on in your life right now?

At the moment, I’m helping out a fellow warlock whose having problems with an odd spirit. It’s vexing me and my partner because we’re not sure what’s up with this dude. Just that he’s bad news. Before that, we were stopping this master vampire who was trying to kill several of my friends. It’s all in a day’s work for a young urban warlock.

Is there someone special in your life?

Oh, yes! My partner, Paul, just became my lover, and well, you know what new love is like, right? Exciting. Scary. Sexy. But when he’s a vampire too, that just takes all the emotion and ramps it up to 11. Dating an older man is one thing. Dating someone who’s more than a century older than you and is a predator? That’s something else entirely!

How did you meet? What’s his/her family like?

I met him in a dark alley with his fangs sunk deep into a dude. (Could it have been more of a cliché if we’d tried?) He actually killed the guy right in front of me. Wouldn’t think it was the best beginning to a relationship, but it worked for us. Turned out the guy was a killer and probably deserved what he got. And Paul’s not nearly as scary, if you’re his friend, as it looked at first.

As to his family, I’ve never met them since he was turned into a vampire during the Civil War. He says he hasn’t kept up with his descendants, but I’m not sure I believe him. I’ve met some of his “vampire family,” and they range from mostly okay to completely homicidal killers. He’s promised not to invite me for a family dinner, which is good because, to that family, I’m barely an appetizer.

What’s keeping you two apart?

Nothing at the moment. Oh, he tried the inevitable “I must leave you to save you” crap, but I didn’t let him get away with it. The relationship is still pretty new, and we’re feeling it out. Warlocks and vampires do associate with each other, but you’d rarely call it a love match, unlike what he and I have, so yeah, we both screw up and do the wrong thing every so often. So far, we’ve been able to work it out. Assuming our chronicler doesn’t decide to hand one of us the “idiot ball,” we should do okay.

What one thing could you do that would make you feel like the relationship will work out?

That’s a good question. I guess it would be keeping good boundaries. As a warlock, part of my job is to keep people safe from supernatural monsters. Arguably, Paul’s one of those monsters. It helps that he’s in control of the predator part of him, but yeah, it’s caused problems in the past and probably always will. As long as we keep that in mind, we should be okay. Well, that, and the sex had better stay awesome. ;)

Any last comments?

This interview has been great, and I really appreciate it. I want people to remember, though, that it’s not just me and Paul. We’ve got some great friends who help us out, keep us sane and don’t hesitate to smack either of us around when we need it. In fact the next book is going to be about one of our new friends, and he’s way cool. Hope everyone likes him almost as much as they like me.

BUY LINK

The Case of the Reincarnated Lover, Book 3 in the Warlock Case Files. http://www.amazon.com/Case-Reincarnated-Lover-Warlock-Files-ebook/dp/B00JMO2XB4

Blurb:

My name is Dafydd Smith, and I’m a warlock. If you’ve been following along with our story, you know that I, along with my hot vampire partner, Paul, spend our nights (and sometimes my days) dealing with trouble in the supernatural world of Washington, D.C.

We’ve dealt with ghosts and werewolves, but now it’s another vampire who’s causing trouble. He’s killing others of his kind and upsetting the delicate balance of power in the local vampire community. To make it worse, the rogue seems to have some connection to Paul’s past. As if that weren’t enough, an old lover of Paul’s returns, but not in a way anyone could have anticipated.

And to top things off, I think I’m falling in love! Never a dull moment in my life. You want to find out more. You know you do.

Excerpt

Chapter 1

Saturday, May 1, 2010. Not Quite Midnight

Do the words “vampire” and “camping” go together for you?

Yeah, not for me either, so I was surprised when Paul suggested we go down to Prince William Forest State Park for an overnight trip. He said there was something he wanted to show me, and who was I to turn him down when he was so excited?

Now you should know that I am a city boy all the way. Bugs and dirt are not my idea of a good time. I’m more inclined to spend my weekends dancing the night away at gay dance clubs with Stephen, my boyfriend. And today was Beltane, traditionally celebrated with…well, let’s just say it’s a fertility rite, and I’m more than willing to continue the tradition, even though I’m not intending to be a father anytime soon.

I stumbled over yet another root and swore softly. “Why did I let you talk me into this again?”

Paul turned to look at me. His eyes gleamed in reflected moonlight. “Because we’re friends?”

I paused to take a drink from my water bottle. “Yeah, I guess that’s a good reason. How much farther are we anyway?”

“Almost there. It’ll be worth it. Trust me.”

I grumbled wordlessly under my breath but followed him. Yeah, the funny thing is I did trust him. I’m not sure my parents raised me to have a vampire as one of my closest friends, but they got over it when I told them.

We walked for maybe another ten minutes, and I tripped over yet another root just as Paul reached out a hand to stop me. “Quiet. We’re almost there. We’ll have to crawl from here.”

I shook my head, sure he was kidding. Crawl? As in along the ground? Putting me in contact with even more bugs and dirt?

He dropped easily to the ground and started slithering along, making absolutely no noise. I sighed and got down on my hands and knees and followed him, with considerably less grace and somewhat more noise. He looked back at me over his shoulder, the reproof evident in his eyes, and I tried to move more quietly.

After a few moments, he stopped me again and turned to whisper in my ear. “Just another foot or two. Very quietly now.”

I slid forward, barely breathing. I had no idea what I was supposed to see, but I heard the suppressed excitement in his voice, and I was pretty sure it would be good. As long as it wasn’t some weird kind of bug.

Nope, not a bug, although at first I wasn’t sure. As I slowly lifted my head, the clouds parted, and the moon, just a few days past full, shone silver on a small ring of stones in the exact center of a tiny clearing. Small forms danced in the air over the circle. There must have been close to a dozen of them, and they darted here and there. Their movements looked random at first. As I watched, however, I noticed some pattern to their dance, though the meaning eluded me.

“What do you think?” Paul’s whisper was barely audible.

I tore my eyes from the marvel in front of me to look at him. His eyes gleamed a shade just slightly darker than the stones in the clearing. His expression was a mixture of hope and awe.

“A fairy ring?”

About the Author: juli01

I’ve been writing fiction almost as long as I can remember, starting with fan fiction at 13 (before I even knew there was a term for it). In my late teens, I tackled my first novel: a thriller from the most sedentary kid you’d ever known. It was every bit as bad as you’re thinking.

A few years ago, I decided it was time to finally make my dream a reality. Inspiration for the characters in my Warlock Case Files series hit, and I started writing. Three published so far, and I’m loving it!

Author links, webpages, fan pages, and book trailers.

Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/Juli-Monroe/e/B006UECFFI/
Author blog http://warlockwriter.blogspot.com/

Confessions of a Literary Slut by Melodie Campbell

Melodie Campbell’s Land’s End Trilogy is currently in the Top 50 ALL Books on Amazon!  “Outlander meets Sex and the City ” or Why I Write Wacky Time Travel in addition to respectable crime!

Here’s why she writes that series:Lands End Trilogy

I am best known as a writer of comic crime capers, and in particular The Goddaughter series (Orca Books). However, I also have a second life as an author of racy fantasy…the sort of thing that has been called “The Princess Bride with Sex.”

Why? Why would a moderately respectable crime author swap genres and write a wacky time travel series, set in Arizona and Alternate-world Great Britain?

1. I like Arizona. Especially in winter. You can fly nonstop there from Toronto.
(Whoops – delete, delete. Of course, the real reason for using Arizona is I believe in accuracy of setting and doing research, which I take great pains to do once each year in February.)

2. I like Great Britain. And I like to be accurate. But you can’t travel to medieval Great Britain right now, at least not on WestJet. (WHY doesn’t someone invent a cheap time travel airline?) So I can’t be accurate, which bugs me a lot. But I can be silly, which is almost as good. Hence, Alt-world.

3. My cousin Tony’s family, the Clegg-Hills, used to own a Norman castle in Shropshire. Unfortunately it burned down in 1556. Damned careless of them. I had to make up what it would look like from family stories, which are probably dubious at best, and vaguely criminal, on reflection. Also, I hate being sued. Hence, Alt-world.

4. Fessing up, here. I actually didn’t mean to write funny time travel. I meant to write a serious whodunit that would get the respect of the Can-Lit crowd, and the more erudite members of Crime Writers of Canada. This ‘veering from plan’ is becoming a nuisance. Next book, for sure, will be a serious whodunit. Okay, maybe a whodunit. Okay, maybe a book.

5. Okay, I lied. The serious whodunit turned into a wacky mob comedy series that has won a Derringer and an Arthur. Still no respect from the Can-Lit crowd. So I might as well go back to writing wacky time travel.

Why? ‘Cause it’s a hell of a lot of fun.

Melodie’s bestselling Land’s End Trilogy (“OUTLANDER meets SEX AND THE CITY” Vine review) is on sale this week! If you were ever curious about her ‘other life’…’nuf said.

On Amazon:
http://www.amazon.com/Lands-End-Trilogy-Melodie-Campbell-ebook/dp/B00R41U0CQ/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1421332443&sr=1-1&keywords=the+land%27s+end+trilogy

Bio:Campbell-author-400
Billed as Canada’s “Queen of Comedy” by the Toronto Sun (Jan. 5, 2014), Melodie Campbell has won 9 awards, including the 2014 Derringer and the 2014 Arthur Ellis (Canada) for The Goddaughter’s Revenge (Orca Books). Melodie’s timetravel fantasy series, The Land’s End Trilogy, is a Top 100 Bestseller (all books.) Melodie has over 200 publications, including 100 comedy credits, 40 short stories, and seven novels. She is the Executive Director of Crime Writers of Canada.

Interview with Daniel Saunders from Dearest Darling by Andrea Downing

DearestDarling_w8647_300Hey there, Sharon. Thanks so much for having me here today, though I have to say it was difficult to get off the ranch.

Where are you from? Did you have a happy childhood?

Originally, I was from New York. I live in Wyoming now, out near Kelly and Jackson. Beautiful area but sort of isolated—not a lot of chance to meet women, you know. Anyway, I did have a happy childhood until my parents insisted I go to private school. Had to get a scholarship, you understand, as we couldn’t afford those fees, and as a scholarship student, well, you can imagine the way I was treated by the wealthier children. Especially one…

Where do you live now and what do you do for a living? Is there something you’d rather be doing?

As I said, I live now out near Kelly, Wyoming—I homesteaded land and also got more acreage under the Desert Land Act—which meant I had to irrigate it. I raise cattle and I also take easterners out on hunting trips—it supplements the income from the ranch quite well. I have to tell you straight out, though I was originally going to go to university and on to study law or finance, there really isn’t anything I’d rather be doing now. I’m out all day in the fresh air and, while it isn’t a luxurious existence, it’s a dang good one—with the bonus of being in the most beautiful spot in the country.

What’s going on in your life right now?

(laughs) Well…if I told you that straight out, I’d be giving away my story. Let me just say life is pretty dang complicated. I’ve been writing to this beautiful woman back east, and I’m hoping she’ll be my bride. Hoping might be the important word here.

Is there someone special in your life?

Well, that’s just it. See, this woman, I was expecting her to come; sent her tickets and all. Then this other woman showed up having received those dang tickets by mistake, and now my life is totally complicated ‘cos, of course, this other woman, Emily Darling, had to stay with me—I mean, where else could she go? She didn’t have two bits to her name. She’s pretty dang good-looking and she’s here, while the other lady, Ethel Darton, is back east, so now I’m totally confused. It’s a real difficult situation.

How did you meet? What’s her family like?

Guess I just told y’all how we met: she arrived on the stage when I was expectin’ the other woman. Just stepped off and stood there, that simple. As for her family, well, see, if I tell you ’bout that, I might be givin’ too much away. Lemme jus’ say she’s from a very upper crust fam’ly, the sort who had the money to go to my school—and I…well, I won’t say more. It’s lettin’ the cat outta the bag, so to speak….

What’s keeping you two apart?

You see, I can’t decide what’s the right thing to do. I asked this other lady to be my wife, after we’d been corresponding for so long—a year—and then this other lady—Emily—shows up and I have to decide what the heck is the right thing to do! It’s dang confusin’. First there’s no woman at all in my life, and now there are two! What’s a fella to do?

What one thing could you do that would make you feel like the relationship will work out?

(Laughs) Well, there’s the difficulty, Sharon! What can I do? Do I go back on my word to Miss Darton, the woman I proposed to and with whom I been correspondin’ this past year? Or do I say, heck, well, Emily is right here and I have feelin’s for her so, sorry Miss Darton, but… What the heck should I do? You tell me.

Any last comments?

Just I’m real glad to have this opportunity to air my worries with y’all and speak to folks about this. And I want to thank you for having me here today and hope y’all will read my story and find out how things worked out. Gotta get back to the ranch now. Thanks again, Sharon, for having me here!

About Dearest Darling: Stuck in a life of servitude to her penny-pinching brother, Emily Darling longs for a more exciting existence. When a packet with travel tickets, meant for one Ethel Darton, accidentally lands on her doormat, Emily sees a chance for escape. Having turned down the dreary suitors that have come her way, is it possible a new existence also offers a different kind of man?

Daniel Saunders has carved out a life for himself in Wyoming—a life missing one thing: a wife. Having scrimped and saved to bring his mail-order bride from New York, he is outraged to find in her stead a runaway fraud. Even worse, the impostor is the sister of his old enemy.

But people are not always as they seem, and sometimes the heart knows more than the head.

Buy Links:  Amazon  The Wild Rose Press

About the Author: Born in New York, Andrea Downing returned in 2008 from the UK ©nathandehartphotography-andreadowning copywhere she lived for most of her life. Having traveled extensively throughout Europe, Africa and Latin America, she now divides her time between NYC and the east end of Long Is., punctuated by frequent journeys out west—the area of the USA she loves best. Her first book, Loveland, was a finalist for the 2012 RONE Award for Best American Historical. Her 2013 short story, Lawless Love, was also a finalist for the RONE Award as well as the International Digital Awards. Dearest Darling, part of The Wild Rose Press Love Letters series, came out Oct., 2014. Also forthcoming Feb. 2015 is Dances of the Heart, a women’s fiction novel. All are published by The Wild Rose Press..

Buy Links:  Amazon  The Wild Rose Press

Excerpt

“Who the hell are you?” he blurted out.

The woman took a step back. “My name is Emily Darling—”

“Darling?” His eyes narrowed as his hands went instinctively to his hips.

“I received your letter,” she continued somewhat breathlessly. “I know…”

“Stop. Just tell me where Ethel is.” The blood rushed through his veins, pulling anger and uneasiness with it. “What’s happened to Ethel?”

“I know it wasn’t meant for me,” the blonde continued, “but—”

“But? But. Lady, are you telling me you received a dang letter meant for someone else, and you went and hightailed it out here with a train ticket and stage ticket meant for that someone else?”

This impostor’s eyes widened. Emily’s eyes, not Ethel’s…

“You know how the hell long it took me to save for that trip? You have any idea of the cost of all that?”

“I…I thought—”

“I don’t give a good gosh damn what the heck you thought. That money was meant for…” Total disbelief swallowed his tongue. Daniel took some paces and struggled to control his temper before he shot off his gun. “Damn!” he said at last. “Damn!” He stomped back to her. “Well, what the hell do you expect to do now— now that you’re here, may I ask?”

“Well…” Emily visibly gathered herself and straightened up. “Marry you, of course.”

Author links, webpages, and buy links.

WEBSITE AND BLOG: http://andreadowning.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/writerAndreaDowning
Twitter: @andidowning https://twitter.com/AndiDowning
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6446229.Andrea_Downing
Linkedin: http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=124888740&trk=nav_responsive_tab_profile_pic
AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE: http://www.amazon.com/Andrea-Downing/e/B008MQ0NXS/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

Buy Links:  Amazon  The Wild Rose Press

Writing the Underdog by D.A. Spruzen

noou_securedownloadAn underdog is the one no one would bet on to win. My protagonists usually fall into this category, but then so do those of many other authors. In some stories, the underdog climbs to success and in others, the top dog falls in ignominy. How does one paint with words an unforgettable portrait of a character who lingers in the reader’s mind long after the last page has been turned?

My character in Not One of Us (to reveal her name would be a spoiler) is the second daughter of a drunken pedophile and the victim of incest. They live in a rough section of New York City. He is convicted (falsely) of murdering his third daughter, a baby at the time. How does this girl succeed? The answer lies in her personality traits—high intelligence, drive, and a complete lack of empathy. Her upbringing has stunted her emotional growth. She thus feels entitled to dispose of anyone who gets in her way. Despite her depravity, readers have told me that after a while they find themselves wanting her to succeed, willing to bet on the underdog. I researched her psychological profile and entered her mind. This wasn’t as hard as it sounds. I simply worked out a logical solution to her problems, completely setting aside any idea of morality and humanity. I saw her friends and family as a caste of characters in her own legend (rather than my own as the author). I felt a fairly strong sense of attachment to her elder son who cherishes her, a more tenuous attachment to her other two children.

Every alternate chapter comprises this woman’s journal, starting with her miserable childhood, and eventually converging with the narrative. The reader sees how she thinks, understands how she rationalizes her crimes and regards others around her, including her children. The narrative part of the book opens just after a murder has been committed in an upscale suburb of Washington, D.C. The story unfolds in the voices of seven women (including the killer) who are founders of the Salton Symphony and call themselves the Symphony Slaves. This murder is not the last, and their small, secure world is rocked by fear and uncertainty. Will this pillar of the community manage to protect her façade and keep her comfortable place in society? The fact that there is a sequel set in Toronto, Lily Takes the Field, provides a clue that she gets a second chance! A third book set in Charlotte, N.C., Messenger of Love, is in the works. This lady gets around.

Crossroads: Two Novellas (“Crossroads” and “Mousetrap”) also depicts female protagonists whose lives have been marked by turmoil.

In “Crossroads,” Sophie and five other characters attend a reunion at Julian’s ancient inn near the Cevennes mountains in France. Sophie and three of the men had crossed paths at an army hospital in Hastings, England, during World War II, where Sophie nursed the men as they recuperated from their wounds. An act of cowardice and deceit all those years before precipitates a cascade of tragic events. None of them know that Sophie had married a Frenchman before the war who pulled her into a life mired in poverty and misery until she left after the death of her newborn. She taught English at a small private school in Montpelier, but returned to England and trained as a nurse when the Nazis invaded France. She found and lost love, and settled for security and reasonable contentment. She overcame and made do.

Mousetrap is the story of a newly widowed woman in her 40’s who, on the face of it, has been emotionally, and perhaps physically, abused by the men in her life—first her father, then her husband. The story opens the day after her husband’s funeral. At times, the lines between reality and fantasy become almost as blurred for the reader as for the protagonist. Did this underdog even finish the race? It’s hard to tell.

My small poetry collection, Long in the Tooth, is more personal than my fiction. It recalls many incidents from childhood—not all of them happy—and muses on the trials of aging. The poems are often humorous, and sometimes sad. There is not much sense of the underdog, though!
Spruzen_New_colorD. A. Spruzen grew up near London, England, earned an MFA in Creative Writing from Queens University of Charlotte, and teaches writing in Northern Virginia when she’s not seeking her own muse. In another life she was Manager of Publications for a defense contractor. Her short stories and poems have appeared in many publications, and she is currently seeking representation for her novel The Blitz Business, which is set in WWII England. The first two novels in The Flower Ladies series, Not One of Us and Lily Takes the Field are available at Amazon.com in paperback and on Kindle. Her poetry chapbook Long in the Tooth was published by Finishing Line Press in 2013. She is a former president of the Northern Virginia Writers club and has served on the boards of several local arts organizations. She is also an artist, working in watercolor and pastels.

Interview with JoAnne Myers, Author of Wicked Intentions

MyersJoAnne Myers lives in Ohio, and works at a local nursing home. The author of seven books, JoAnne also canvas paints. JoAnne enjoys time with relatives, her dog Jasmine, and volunteers her time within the community. JoAnne believes in family values and following your dreams. Her original canvas paintings, can be found at: http://www.booksandpaintingsbyjoanne.com

What made you decide to be an author?

I have always been able to write. It seemed to come easy for me. When you have stories in your head, they must come out somehow.

What do you like best about being a writer?

Putting stories together.

How do you think your life experiences have prepared you for writing paranormal stories?

Well I don’t believe in ghosts, but I do believe in evil spirits. If a person believes in God and goodness, then they must believe in evil. To me that is logical.

Have you ever felt as if you were being dictated to while you wrote a book–as if the words came of their own accord? If yes, which book did that happen with?

Yes I do have that feeling. I put myself into the characters role with what that character is doing at that moment, and write what I would do in that situation. The characters take me over.

You’ve written seven novels and are working on a screenplay for your detective/mystery Murder Most Foul?

What’s your favorite time management tip? Don’t rush yourself is the advice I can give to another writer. Take your time and allow the writing inspiration to happen. I think if you put a deadline on your book, that is just added pressure. Life is stressful enough without adding more. If you have a book inside you, it will come out, but it should happen naturally. Good things come to those who wait.

Are you a plotter or a pantser, i.e., do you outline your books ahead of time or are you an “organic” writer?

I am a plotter. I get the plot, then the characters, then the title, then the action between the characters.

If you had one take away piece of advice for authors, what would it be?

Never give up. If you want to write, then write, even if it’s bad. Don’t let others discourage you. You must write for you, What you enjoy. Not other people.

Do you listen to music when you write?

Yes, I have an old radio on my computer stand. It’s usually tuned for easy listening.

Tell me more about Wicked Intentions.

It contains seven bone chilling paranormal stories filled with intrigue, suspense, danger, and romance.

How about an excerpt from Wicked Intentions?

Dark Visions

Waking from a nightmare was not the ideal beginning for twenty-six-year-old Carrie Reynolds’ birthday. At least, it was not what she had hoped for. “What the hell was that all about?” she asked herself as she climbed out of her sleigh-like bed. She ambled to her vanity and examined her peaches-and-cream complexion in the tall mirror. “I look like a raccoon or hung-over from a drunken binge,” she whispered, concerned about the dark rings around her blood shot eyes. She quit primping to enter her adjoining bathroom and begin her morning ablutions, ending with a long, invigorating shower. Twenty minutes later, she was drying off when the telephone rang.

“Hello,” she answered cautiously, her voice barely rejuvenated by the hot water.

“Happy birthday, baby girl.”

“Thank you, Mom. How are you?”

“I’m great, but you sound tired.”

“I just had the strangest dream. More like a full-blown nightmare.”

“Oh, really! That is strange. What was it about?”

“It was about people yelling at each other, I think…and a loud noise—I think it was some kind of an explosion—then I woke up.”

“Did you get drunk last night?” her mother asked with a chuckle.

“Mom! You know I don’t drink liquor.”

“But you had Italian food and wine for dinner. Spicy food and alcohol…”

“No, Mom, that wasn’t it. It was nothing, I guess…but it seemed so real.” Carrie shook off the bizarre incident to ask, “So…who’ll be coming to my surprise party tonight?”

“What party! You think just because I love you—”

“I’ll be there…when? Sixish?”

“Perfect! See you then.”

After hanging up, Carrie talked to the air. “Mom, I love you, but you’re a ding-bat.”

Before leaving for the mall, she briefly put her Corgi, Mitzi, into the enclosed backyard, then fed her and locked her in her kitchen kennel. Mitzi was accustomed to being alone during the day while Carrie was at school, working or shopping, so it was no hardship. All that alone time meant she would be mighty eager to see Carrie on her return. Carrie liked to be enwrapped by her warm, undemanding love on coming home. Carrie quickly changed into her “shopping mall” outfit and bolted out the door, heading for the shopping center. While she allowed her car to defrost, she was shocked to be confronted by an unwelcome guest.

“Stick em up!” She swung around to find a tall, hooded man aiming a .44 Magnum at her face. “Give me your wallet,” he demanded. His deep voice approached a growl.

Willingly, she handed over her property. She included everything, even her gold and diamond watch, an early birthday gift from her maternal uncle, Doug Reynolds, police supervisor/trainer.

“Is that everything?” her assailant yelled, cocking his weapon.

“Yes! I swear that’s all I have,” she whispered, while scanning the area for anyone who could help her.

The robber also saw her searching for a rescuer. “There’s no one here to help you, pretty lady. It’s eight A.M. Most people are still in bed or gone to work.” He then gave the slim, dark-eyed girl a more careful once over and with a sick sneer added, “And I bet you’re a real devil under the sheets, uh?”

She immediately knew what he wanted and grew more horrified at her impending fate. “Oh, please, mister…just take my money and jewelry…and leave. I won’t tell anyone.”

“I know ya won’t,” he said, grabbing her arm and pulling her back toward her apartment.

“No!” she yelled and resorted to her as-yet-untried self-defense training. Abruptly applying a palm jab to his nose, she made him drop his weapon, but a kick on his shin only angered him.

“You’re gonna regret that, bitch!” he said again in a near-growl.

 

Where can readers find more about your stories, books and you on the Internet?
Website: http://www.booksandpaintingsbyjoanne.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/joanne.myers.927
Twitter: http://twitter.com/scooterismine/
Blog: http://www.booksandpaintingsbyjoanne.com/page2

Buy Links:  Melange Books   Paperback  Amazon

Thank you so much for being with us here today. I know my readers will enjoy your work and your interview.
Thank you for having me. I will be awarding two people who comment a paperback of their choice. The choices are: Murder Most Foul, Wicked Intentions, Loves, Myths, and Monsters, Poems About Life, Love, and Everything in Between, Twisted Love, Flagitious, and The Crime of the Century.

Interview with Dana King, author of The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of

Dana at GJ launch with GJ insertedDana King’s first Nick Forte PI novel, A Small Sacrifice, was nominated for a Shamus Award by the Private Eye Writers of America as Best Indie PI Novel for 2013. His first traditionally published novel, Grind Joint, was released by Stark House in November 2013, and was named by Woody Haut in the LA Review of Books as one of that year’s fifteen best noir reads. Earlier novels have received praise from authors such as Charlie Stella, Timothy Hallinan, Adrian McKinty, and Leighton Gage. His short story, “Green Gables,” was published in the anthology Blood, Guts, and Whiskey, edited by Todd Robinson. Other short fiction has appeared in New Mystery Reader, A Twist of Noir, Mysterical-E, and Powder Burn Flash.

Dana has worked as a musician, public school teacher, adult trainer, and information systems analyst. He lives in Maryland with his Beloved Spouse and The Sole Heir.

What made you decide to be an author?
That’s a harder question than it sounds. There was no “Eureka!” moment. About twenty years ago I “discovered” Raymond Chandler, and that put the bug in me, how he used the language to tell his stories. I started out writing short stories for friends and people I worked with, using them as characters. Those were well received, so I kept at it. The stories became more complex over time, and their construction started to engage more of my imagination when not otherwise occupied, and I let it run. I found I enjoyed the challenge of writing in the longer forms, so novels have been my main focus since.

What do you like best about being a writer?
First, it’s the wordsmithing, getting each phrase to come out as close to what I want as I can get it. I’m one of those oddballs who enjoys editing much more than first drafts. A close second is the company of other writers, whether it’s online, or, too rarely, in person. One of the perks of having writers as friends is one gets to deal with clever, often funny, people who think about things and are good at expressing themselves. That combination can’t help but be fun.

How do you think your life experiences have prepared you for writing crime fiction?
Honestly? Hardly at all. My reading and movie and television viewing are my formative influences. Since I got into writing I’ve had a few things happen that have helped—having a cop point a gun at you is a good way to develop empathy for anyone in a similar situation—but the key element for me is to try to get into each character’s head. It’s been said a writer’s job is to get the reader to empathize with the characters. If I can’t, how can I expect them to? The trick is to draw on the experiences of those we know and place them into some of the extreme situations my characters find themselves in.

Have you ever felt as if you were being dictated to while you wrote a book–as if the words came of their own accord? If yes, which book did that happen with?
Not so much dictated as watching a movie of the scene play out, and my job is to transcribe what’s happening. This is especially true in dialog, where, once I get people talking, sometimes it’s all I can do to keep up.

You’ve written five novels and are working on a sixth. What’s your favorite time management tip?
Make the writing a habit, something that gets done every day, just like washing the dishes and picking up the mail. Writing is not a glamorous endeavor, though having written may be, with good reviews and attaboys from writers you respect. It’s a matter of locking yourself in a room and getting the work done.

I am very lucky in that regard. My daughter is grown and in graduate school, and my day job lets me work from home, so commuting is not an issue. There’s no excuse for me not to find time to write. That said, writers with far more demands on their time than I have find ways to do it. “Wanting to be a writer” is not “being a writer.” That hour or so of TV before bed may have to go.

Are you a plotter or a pantser, i.e., do you outline your books ahead of time or are you an “organic” writer?
Plotter, definitely. In fact, that’s what I’ve been doing this month, outlining the next book. The outlines aren’t very detailed—often just a sentence or paragraph of what has to happen in each chapter—but I need to know what happens before I sit down to write it. Any spontaneous creative talent I have lies in the telling. Once I know what I have to accomplish in a chapter or scene, how I do that is left to the spur of the moment, so I guess I’m that much of a pantser.

If you had one take away piece of advice for authors, what would it be?
Set reasonable expectations for yourself. There are a lot more people who want to be authors than there are spots in publishers’ schedules. Give your best effort on the things you can control—primarily writing the best book you have in you—and take the rest as it comes. If you base your idea of success on sales or a Big Five contract, well, those things are out of your control. Keep an even keel. Before I was published, I used to keep my spirits up by reminding myself that I wrote better than some published authors I’d read. Once I was published, I switched to reminding myself there are better writers than me who are not published. All I can control is to give each book, and its potential readers, my best effort.

Do you listen to music when you write? Do you have a theme song for this book? What music did you go back to over and over as you wrote it, or as you write, in general?
I used to, but not any more. Much of my style has to do with how the words sound, so much so I’ll sometimes choose a less than perfect word from a definition standpoint, because another word sounds better in that spot, based on the rhythm of the sentence. I can’t do that and have any musical diversions. Sometimes I miss having music around, but I’ve become a better writer since I made the change.

Tell me more about The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of.
Russell Arbuthnot is a ham actor who bears more than a passing resemblance to Sidney Greenstreet and has come into possession of a statue that may, or may not, be one of the props from the classic movie, The Maltese Falcon. Arbuthnot has built a one-man stage show around it, but ticket sales are weak. Private Investigator Nick Forte is hired to serve as a bodyguard after Arbuthnot receives threats. The threats aren’t well documented, and the hiring is given great fanfare, so just about everyone assumes it’s a publicity stunt until Arbuthnot turns up dead, and the falcon goes missing. This is the kind of publicity Forte can do without, so he sets out to at least recover the statue. The book is my homage to Hammett and the movie, as well as the other classic detective stories of the period.

How about an excerpt from The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of?
My pleasure. How about Chapter One?

CHAPTER ONE
A Handsome Woman

 

There was a time when Sheila O’Donoghue would have been described as a handsome woman. She guarded the vestiges of the beauty she must once have considered her birthright the way a drunk protects his last bottle of gin.

Her methods were paying off. I couldn’t guess how many hours on the Stair Master kept her legs in the condition she managed to show at every opportunity. Her eyes were aquamarine and barely possible to avoid staring at. She had a disconcerting habit of making eye contact without looking at me straight on, always showing a slight left profile. Must have been her good side.

She sat in the chair across the desk not looking any more comfortable than anyone else who sat there. It’s wasn’t a bad chair. Getting comfortable shouldn’t be a problem. Maybe it was me. Good thing I’m not insecure.

“Are you familiar with the name Russell Arbuthnot?” she asked in a resonant voice that must have given great phone.
“No, sorry. Are you familiar with the name Larry Conway?”

“No.”

“Then we’re even.”

I got a hard look for a few seconds before a smile snuck up on her. She let it have its way and I got a tease of what she must have looked like twenty years ago. Anyone would fight to keep looks like that.

“I’m sorry,” she said. “That was businesslike to the point of coldness, wasn’t it? May we start over?”

“No apology necessary. I understand no one really wants to come here to see me, so I don’t pay much mind to first impressions. I didn’t help matters by being a smartass. Now that we really are even, why don’t you tell me why you’re here?”

She smiled a mouthful of even white teeth and relaxed her posture. “Thank you. I suppose I am a little nervous. I’m a theatrical agent. Russell Arbuthnot is one of my clients. I thought a man in your profession would be familiar with his one-man show. It opens at the Goodman Theater the day after tomorrow.”

“Now that you mention it, it does ring a bell. Isn’t he doing that Maltese falcon show? What’s it called—The Black Bird? Is that him?”

“Yes. He lives in Chicago. The Goodman performances are the beginning of a national tour.”

“I read good things about it. I’ve been meaning to get tickets for next week.”

“Would backstage passes be all right? Of course you’d be working, but you’d see every performance.” She sat forward, smoothing the skirt of her suit, directing my attention to her legs while letting me pretend I had a choice about it.

“What’s the gig?”

“Threats have been made.” She waited for eye contact before continuing. “Nothing specific. Some notes and a couple of phone calls.”

“Death threats?”

“As I said, they’re very vague. ‘Don’t sleep too soundly’ was one. ‘I want what’s mine.’ Things like that.”

“Do you know of anyone with reason to hurt him?”

She shifted in the chair and I saw exactly how well the suit that matched her eyes fit her. Sheila O’Donoghue didn’t just throw on any old thing when she left the house. “Russell has quite a taste for women, and his position and charm allow him to indulge himself regularly. He is not always as discrete as he might be.”

“Anyone in particular?”

“I’m his agent. We’re close, but I’m not privy to his extracurricular trysts.” Her tone left it open whether she disapproved of the trysts or of not knowing the details.
“Have you seen any of the notes?”

“No. Russell destroyed them as soon as he read them.”

“Why? They could be useful to the police.”

“He doesn’t take the threats seriously.”

“He took them seriously enough to tell you.”

“We’ve been together for over twenty years. There’s very little either of us doesn’t know about the other.”

“Except for his extracurricular trysts.” She gave me the look I should have expected. Some day I’ll learn to think of that before I say whatever it is I shouldn’t have said to prompt that reaction. “You took the threats seriously enough to come to me. Why?”

“Because I’m worried, and because I know Russell wants me to.” I gestured with my hand for her to continue.

“Russell’s self-image won’t let him show any concern over something like this, even if he has some. By telling me, he’s tacitly admitting he’s worried enough to allow something to be done.”

I didn’t answer right away and made myself look away from her eyes. My attention wound up on her knees, crossed demurely enough to deny purpose, even if we both knew better.

“What do you want done?”

“I want you to make sure no one carries out any threats until Russell leaves for his national tour in two weeks.”
“Then what?”

“We’re making arrangements with a national firm to provide security while he travels. We want someone local until then.”

“Why me? I’m just a one-man operation. A firm that could handle him on tour could just as easily do it locally.”
“You don’t want the job?”

“I didn’t say that. I’m curious what you think I can offer that they can’t? I can’t give him twenty-four by seven protection. I have to sleep and go to the bathroom once in a while.”

“Russell isn’t comfortable with the idea of a bodyguard. I’m hoping you’ll hit it off and get him used to having someone with him every waking minute. That should make everything more bearable for the four months he’ll be on the road.”

“What makes you think we’ll bond?”

She smiled without separating her lips. The victory of showing yet another man he had underestimated her filled her eyes. “Your background as a musician should make you better able to deal with an artistic temperament. At least that’s what I’m hoping.” My previous life as a musician is not common knowledge, for obvious reasons.

“He wants a pansy for a bodyguard?”

She sent me a more intense look. Her eyes were going to be a problem, as well as she knew how to use them. “Your adventure with Frankie Calabra was hardly the work of a pansy.”

“Ah,” I said, like it meant something. We played coy for a few seconds. She let me go first.

“He’s on the road for four months. Then what?”

“Then nothing, I hope. The threats can’t last forever.”

“Depends on whether you’re dealing with a crank or someone with an obsession.”

“You don’t seem very enthusiastic about this.”

“I don’t like to disappoint clients. I’m not sure I can deliver what you’re looking for.”

“Would ten thousand dollars make you any more sure?”

It took considerable self-control to keep from sitting up too quickly and breaking a knee on the desk. “For two weeks’ work?” I don’t like doing protection. It’s as tedious as a stakeout and you have to put up with the subject, but my fifteen minutes of fame from saving Frankie Calabra were over and bills had to be paid. Five grand a week relieves a lot of tedium.

“Yes.” She showed the same smile, but less of it. The full treatment would have looked smug. “I asked around and then talked to Russell. We think you’d be uniquely suited to ease his discomfort about having what he refers to as a ‘strong-arm man’ at his side.”

“Is that another fruity musician reference? You don’t think I can do strong-arm?”

This smile showed teeth. “Not at all. From where I sit, you seem admirably suited for it.” A lesser man would have blushed.

“When do I start?”

“You have to meet Russell first.”

“When and where?”

“Right now, at his home.” She stood and pretended to smooth her skirt again. That appeared to be her move, the way Michael Jordan liked to go right. When she turned for the door I saw a small lift scar under her jaw on the side she kept turned away. “He has a condo on Michigan Avenue near the theater. We’re expected.”

Confidence is an attractive trait in a woman. I gave Sharon a few calls to return, some reports to file, and the usual instructions bosses leave with secretaries. Then Sheila and I left to meet my new client and his ten thousand dollars.

Where can readers find more about your stories, books and you on the Internet?
Website: Launching January 2015)
Facebook: www.facebook.com/DanaKingBooks
Twitter: No Twitter. Most people think I’m a big enough twit already.
Blog: One Bite at a Time (http://danaking.blogspot.com )
Buy Links: The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of

Thank you so much for being with us here today. I know my readers will enjoy your work and your interview.