Wednesday, January 28, 2015

What Do You Want From a Book?

While we may not ask the question in so many words, it’s calculated in the background of our mind every time we choose a book to read. We have expectations about the storyline and how it will make us feel. If it’s a non-fiction book we want to come away having learned something. If it’s fiction we want to escape reality for a bit and take up with imaginary characters. We want to get lost in a world that’s not ours.

Really, then, we are not buying books, we are buying outcomes.

Focusing on the fictional aspect, we likely decide on a police procedural novel to enter the world of crime scene investigation. We want to be a part of the investigation, solving the case alongside the characters. We want to be thrown off by red herrings, be side-swiped by the twists and turns, and by the end we expect that the murderer face justice. We don’t just want the novel coming at us. We want to think as we read and anticipate what might be coming next. We want to solve the case before our beloved characters.

Another expected outcome from a fictional book is that we want to fall into the world the author’s created. We want to find relaxation as our minds drift from our reality to another dimension. We want to live through the characters. As we become absorbed by the story, we expect to find a sense of peace that comes from not adhering to a schedule. If we are unwell or in pain—emotionally or physically—we want the book we’re reading to take our mind off these matters.

As an author, it means so much to me to hear from my readers. Some of you have written in to say that you’ve faced a great lost and found comfort in my books during your time of grieving and loneliness. Others have told me how my books let them forget about their chronic pain. I also know that for every one of these emails I receive there are more of you out there that I haven’t heard from, but who I am touching just as greatly.

I thank you, readers, for this. Your entrusting me with your personal life, letting me know that I made a difference for you—this is a gift for me.

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Monday, January 26, 2015

How to Take a Vacation Without Leaving Home #amreading

One of the best things about reading a book is their ability to transport you from one place to another. Depending on the book you're reading, it could take you to another planet or time dimension. With my latest release, fly to Jamaica for the price of a coffee (if you go with the electronic version) or order yourself a paperback and settle into that recliner and relax.

You might be wondering why I published Valentine's Day is Murder in January and not on February 14th. Here's the reason. It's for you glorious paperback lovers! You have the time to order a copy and receive it in time to read on Valentine's Day itself. So what do you say?  You can buy a copy off Amazon or save 15% off retail list by ordering it through Createspace. Either way, I hope you 'buy the ticket' and enough the ride.

Buy on Amazon
Buy on Createspace (Enter discount code: YDXTX3Q8  to receive 15% off)

Interested in other paperbacks of mine? Visit the Paperback Store on my website for more links to the Createspace store. Whether you buy one title or all of them, the code takes 15% off the entire order.

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Monday, January 19, 2015

Pineapples & Alibis, An Excerpt of Valentine's Day is Murder

Chapter 4
Pineapples & Alibis

“There was no answer in her room. She may be out by the pool.” The front desk clerk lowered the phone’s receiver and gestured toward a wall of windows that faced a pool, and, beyond that, the sea.
“Thank you,” Sean said.
“No worries.” The clerk smiled and flipped some papers over that she had been working on when they had approached her to call up to Meredith’s room.
Tourists, clad in bathing suits in a spectrum of colors, dotted both the poolside and the beach. It had Sara wishing all she and Sean had to do was enjoy the scenery.
The sun was beating down, the warmth all-encompassing, but thankfully, the humidity wasn’t extreme. Sara still wished to slip out of her dress to reveal the bikini she wore underneath. The thought of the rays kissing her skin was almost too much to dismiss from her mind.
She scanned the horde of vacationers and spotted Meredith lying out on a lounge chair. She sat up as if she sensed Sara watching.
“There she is, Sean.” Sara nudged her head toward Meredith.
“She doesn’t look too upset, does she?”
Sara put a hand on Sean’s shoulder. “We’re not going to assume she’s behind this.”
He stayed put. “She’s not behind this and yet she’s new to his life and he’s never gone missing before.”
“We promised on the flight we would give her the benefit of the doubt, unless something came up to convince us of her involvement.”
“I’m starting to rethink that decision.”
“If Jimmy trusted her—”
“Yes, then we should too.”
“That’s right.” Sara pressed her lips, hoping she conveyed more conviction than she felt at times—this being one of those times.

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Thursday, January 15, 2015

New Release Party: Valentine's Day is Murder

My first release of 2015 is officially here! Valentine's Day is Murder is live and ready for instant download. If you prefer to read paperback, you have time to order it, have it shipped, and receive it in time for Valentine's Day.
"This is a fast-paced novella, giving one no time to lay on the beach, unless it is YOU, the reader, enjoying this well written suspenseful thriller."--Nancy Silk, Amazon Reviewer
Here's the overview:

Jimmy finally takes a vacation--and a chance on love--only to be abducted. His female companion originally thinks he had cold feet about their relationship, but Sean and Sara know there’s more to it. Jimmy isn’t the type to just up and disappear, let alone leave a lady stranded.

Setting out on their private jet, Sean and Sara reach the tropical paradise of Ocho Rios, Jamaica with sightseeing as the last thing on their minds.

With a gold coin being their initial tie to Jimmy’s kidnapper, Sean and Sara even speculate about the involvement of pirates. Yet as the hours pass, and there’s no word from Jimmy’s captors, Sean and Sara will need to figure out the real motive before it’s too late.

With help from their friend, Adam, back in Albany, the pieces come together and not a moment too soon.

Strap in for an adventure that will take you to the beautiful island of Jamaica and have you wanting a piña colada.

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Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Q and A about Valentine's Day is Murder - What to Expect

Imagine this…the sun warming your face, the ocean breeze through your hair, and your toes in the sand. Your sun-kissed skin and the smell of coconut oil and salt water fill the air. Immerse yourself further with the sights of a break-taking beach and crystal blue water that stretches to the horizon. Sip on a fresh piña colada as you lounge by the pool. Be tantalized by the aroma of cooked garlic shrimp and fine dining. Listen to the chirping of the birds and tree frogs. Inhale the lush vegetation of paradise. Interact with the hard-working, beautiful people of this island who have the attitude of “no worries, be happy,” and where everything is “no problem.”

Yet, here in the middle of paradise, your sweetheart vanishes without a trace. You are left all alone thousands of miles from home, in an unfamiliar country.

This is what happened to Meredith. She took a chance on finding love with Jimmy, a friend of Sean and Sara McKinley, but he disappeared at dinner. With nowhere else to turn, she calls the McKinleys for help, figuring that if anyone can find Jimmy, it’s them.

This sets the stage for my upcoming release, Valentine’s Day is Murder.

Why did I choose Ocho Rios, Jamaica?

I wanted to base the book in a location I had visited myself. Although, it was years ago—I was a teenager—I still remember it clearly. I recall the smells, the scenery, and sounds. I can still conjure up the feeling of the country. Combining this real-life experience with Google Earth, I realized that my memories of the terrain were spot on.

The restaurant where Jimmy disappears was based on one we dined at. I smile at those happy memories. Our waiter introduced himself as Paul, adding that it was a Bible name. My mother found it beautiful that he added that, seeing as most people in America would never add such a comment. I still find amusement at a comment my father said to the waiter about the moon. It was a very dark night and we couldn’t see it. My dad was joking when he said to the server, “Do you have a moon in Jamaica?” You should have seen the man’s expression.

During our visit, a cruise ship was docked and my mother wanted to take a tour. We weren’t allowed due to the risk of castaways, but it never hurts to ask.

To Jamaicans, we are all rich. A woman and her daughter befriended us and I remember they were carrying on about how wealthy we must have been. My mother corrected her to say that wasn’t true. The Jamaican woman said, “Do you have a house?” My mother said, “Yes.” “Do you have a car?” “Yes.” “Then you are very rich.”  It put things into perspective.

We took a trip down one of the rivers on a wooden raft and I remember a young boy who swam out to try and sell something he or his family made. There’s a funny story in this outing too. Well, maybe not funny for my dad, although, he saw humor in it later on.

For this trip, my mother, sister, and I were on one raft with a guide, while my dad, another tourist man, and their guide were on another. They were in the lead. We went through a small patch of rougher water…and really it wasn’t that big or that rough, but it was enough for the raft my father was on. It busted apart!

My father, the tourist, and the guide went flying into the water. My father sort of leaped because he didn’t want to land on the other men. It was funnier to watch—at the time—than it was to my dad, of this I am sure. But no one was hurt and they got another boat. Still smiling at this memory now. Thank you, Dad.

Mom and Dad paid for my sister and I to get our hair braided. The process wasn’t a fun one, but the result most certainly is—tight braids, colored beads, and a piece of island flair. The only drawback was the sunburned sculpt and the chlorine of the pool. Still, it was a process I repeated as an adult in ’99 in the Dominican Republic.

As for the cooked garlic shrimp mentioned at the beginning of the post, it was a weakness of ours when we were there. They were delicious! I’d love to know if the guy or his family is still selling this on the beach. They were hot and succulent. The fact that they were left for the consumer to peel was all part of the experience. We couldn’t get enough of them. If I inhale deeply enough…aaah.

What were some challenges I faced writing the novella?

I’d say the largest challenge was keeping this novella PG-rated. I want the McKinley novellas to also appeal to the Christian market. Without any foul language or graphic violence, the series is already at an advantage in this regard. But with adding in a love interest for Jimmy and a getaway to a tropical island, well, I had to be careful. I changed things up so that there is no mention of premarital sex. In fact, Jimmy and his friend Meredith, although interested in each other romantically, stayed in separate rooms.

What can readers expect when they read this novella?

Throw in gold coins and talk of pirates—“ARGH Matey”—you have a clean mystery with action and adventure overtures.

Must I read the others in the series before this one?

No, although, of course, I’d love you to. But to understand the storyline and the characters, you can start with this novella and go back. Each episode in the McKinley Mystery series stands alone.

Where can I get a copy?

Valentine’s Day is Murder is available from the following retailers. It is available in eBook and print formats.


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Monday, January 12, 2015

Limited Time Offer - Found Innocent is #Free

For a limited time--from January 12-15th--enjoy Found Innocent for free!

That's right. If you're a Madison Knight fan, be sure to download your copy before this offer is gone. If you haven't read any of the other Madison Knight novels, you can still pick up a copy and enjoy. Each book in this series is stand alone.

Here's the overview:

There's one code when it comes to the wall of blue…and Madison Knight may have to cross it.

Any good cop knows you never report a brother for mishandling a case or accuse him of misconduct, but in order to find justice, Madison may not have a choice.

Lacy Rose had one goal for her twentieth birthday to be found innocent of past sins but her life is cut short.

When Lacy's remains are found in a garden and the investigation becomes connected to a closed case, Madison must face her past. The lead detective on that case was Madison's ex-fiancé. At the risk of jeopardizing departmental relationships, and churning up the attention of an old flame at the same time, Madison must push hard before the guilty are found innocent.

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Sunday, January 11, 2015

#SampleSunday Valentine's Day is Murder Excerpt

Excerpt from upcoming release, Valentine's Day is Murder:

Chapter 2
Time Flies

Sean sipped his orange juice as he peered out a window that overlooked the backyard. The morning was overcast and would be downright gloomy if it wasn’t for the white blanket of snow clinging to the bushes and the trees. He had an odd realization—how depressing it would be if the snow were black, red, pink, or, essentially, any other color.
He was in the sitting room, with the dark wood trim and piano, both of which Sara had fallen in love with at first sight. She was holed up in her office, a room of the house she had claimed for her writing. He was glad to see that she was back to her craft and taking it more seriously than ever.
This left him with one concern. Valentine’s Day. It was a few days away and he wanted to make it memorable for Sara. But it was tough to devise a plan that would surprise the imagination of a novelist. He had given her jewels and a top-of-the-line desktop computer with a large monitor for Christmas.
And if the pressure of a memorable Valentine’s Day wasn’t enough, the end of this month marked one year since the day he’d proposed—and Sara’s birthday. Tagged onto that, the start of March was their wedding anniversary. Time had flown.
The last two months had been particularly busy as they set out organizing their private investigator firm. Obtaining their PI licenses had proven easy, given the advantage of their past experience. They renewed their licenses and registered a couple semi-automatic handguns. They were ready to go. The only things left were deciding on a name and setting up shop.
Sara came into the room. “Good morning, darling.”
“How’s the book coming along?”
“Oh, it comes.” She went over to him and kissed his forehead, but he tugged her down into his lap, swept his fingers through her hair, and took her mouth.
She put her hand on his chest, and pulled back. “Someone’s in a great mood this morning.”
“You have no idea. I was just thinking about how far we’ve come and how fast time goes.”
Sara let out a puff of breath. “I agree. Can you believe it’s almost been a year since we got married? It’s unbelievable to me.”
“It feels longer?”
She batted his chest and angled her head. “You want me to feed your ego? It’s been the best twelve months of my life, Sean.”
She pressed her lips to his, and he didn’t want the display of affection to end, but the shrill ring of the phone on the side table was enough to disrupt them.
“Let Helen get the phone. Now, where were—” He put his hand to the nape of her neck and drew her to him.
“Sara? Oh, I’m terribly sorry.” Helen, their housekeeper, stood in the doorway, her hand beneath her chin, and her eyes screwed up toward the ceiling. Her face was flushed when she looked back at them. “It’s for you, Sara.”
“Thank you.” She reached for the handset while remaining on Sean’s lap. “Hello, this is Sara McKinley.”
Sean played with her hair, twirling the long chestnut strands around his fingers.
“What do you mean gone?” Her eyes cut to him before she got up, paced a few steps, and stopped. “You have no idea where he is?”
Sean sat straighter and aligned eye contact with her.
“He just disappeared at dinner? And you haven’t seen him since? We’ll be there as fast as we can. Stay put, all right? Everything will be fine.” Sara lowered the receiver to its cradle. She appeared peaked.
Sean took her hand. “What is it?”
“Jimmy. He’s missing.”
“Yes. Meredith said she’d excused herself to go to the washroom and when she came back he was gone. They hadn’t even finished their meal.”
“He never came back to the resort?”
Sara shook her head. “What could have happened to him, Sean? I can’t see him leaving her there. Did someone take Jimmy?”

“I don’t know, darling, but we’re going to find out and get him back.”

Valentine's Day is Murder releases January 15th, but is available for pre-order from the following retailers:

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