Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Research--the story begins

It’s fall here. It seems late. Colors are not spectacular this year; only a few bright leaves recently appeared on our sugar maple. 
Our sugar maple, just beginning to turn

No freezes in Greenville so far, but the first frost is supposed to arrive later this week. It was enough to get us to the mountains for a day. I’m starting a new book, tentatively titled Shallow Grave, that’s set in a fictitious county in North Carolina, and I’m ready to begin some research. I already have an idea for the cover--cart before the horse?--though it may change many times before the book is finished.

Many of the trees there are already bare, but patches of vivid golds and reds still caused us to pull out the cameras. The scenery in western North Carolina always interests me. It’s a land of steep rock faces, streams and waterfalls, and fertile valleys.

Maybe hay under protective cover
 Old barns with their mellow colors or weathered wood and often defunct equipment tell stories of their own. Near one, the bay of hounds from an array of small dog houses tracked our progress. 

A pulled-pork lunch on the patio at Hubba Hubba, a smokehouse in Flat Rock, kept us going all day. I should have taken a picture of the food, but I did get the pink Mandevilla growing up a stone chimney.

An excellent day outside—perfect weather, gorgeous scenery, and lots of information and ideas. I need to go back and talk to some of the law enforcement people in the area, but I have much to go on with.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Scottish Shortbread recipe

I'm posting this by request. It's truly scrumptious, melt-in-your-mouth shortbread. The recipe was given to me by my husband's cousin Mary, a delightful Scottish lady.


Yield:  1/2 cookie sheet

1/2 pound (2 sticks) butter
2 tablespoons rice flour (or very fine flour)
1/2 cup fruit sugar (very fine sugar)
2 cups flour

Double the amount for a large cookie sheet or just spread over half the sheet. Don’t spread the dough thinly. It should be fairly thick.

Beat butter until creamy. Add flour and work in well. Add sugar and rice flour and work in well. Knead with hands for a minute or two. Then pat into the tin. (I used flour on my hands and on a knife—otherwise the dough sticks to everything.) Mark with tines of a fork. (I had enough trouble without doing that.)

You can also roll mixture out and cut into shapes or leave it whole.
Bake at 275 degrees for about an hour. Small cookies take much less time.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Time of Death

Thanks to all who downloaded and helped with my promotion. I appreciated it!
Alex, the artist. After a tree falls on her house, she joins her aunt on an unspoiled island, but something wakens her family psychic streak. She draws eerily accurate scenes of violence, but she knows nothing about them.
Connor, the prosecutor. He’s building a case against a drug lord one piece of evidence at a time. For him it’s personal, and he can’t risk a relationship with a witness, especially a psychic who’ll blow his case out of the water. 
Rollins, the killer. He’s a cog in a much bigger wheel, and the witness to his acts of violence threatens his operation and his life. He’ll do anything to see that doesn’t happen.
When violence is near, Alex is compelled to draw the scene. While she relaxes on an unspoiled island near Charleston, South Carolina, violence disrupts the tranquil scene when a dead man takes shape on her sketch pad. She knows nothing about the man, but the killer believes she witnessed the murder and sets his sights on Alex. After seeing her drawing, the police think she's involved, and the prosecutor fears a psychic witness will destroy his case. Now, with danger at every turn, she must uncover a killer before he destroys her and her loved ones.

Ace Basin, near Charleston, SC. Dave Allen Photo
Alex smoothed the paper on her board and took a number 2 stick of Payne’s gray from the box, gazing toward the water. The bleached skeleton of a tree lay on its side, smooth and ghostly in the fog. Thin light from the morning sun touched the trunk, giving it a shimmering, ethereal glow. She began drawing, selecting pastels without conscious thought. She worked steadily, intent on capturing the scene before her.
When she was satisfied, she replaced the used sheet with a fresh one and shifted so she could see the old pier. The last wisps of mist hung there, creating the image of a translucent walkway floating above the water. The fog hid the broken board—senseless violence. She sketched without thought, her hand moving automatically over the paper. The pier faded from her vision as her fingers flew. A face, swollen and distorted, took shape under the charcoal.
She blinked, startled by what she’d done. Not the mist-shrouded wooden structure, but a dead face. The face that belonged to yesterday’s body, so misshapen she couldn’t tell if she’d ever seen it. Shaken, she ripped the paper off her board and crammed it into her bag. Later she’d examine it, think about what she’d drawn. Now she wanted only to get away. She packed her materials and hurried from the cove, heading toward Chicora’s breezier ocean side to clear the images from her mind, to concentrate on happier things.
P.S. I've turned comments on again, but spam is overwhelming so I've resorted to the dreaded Captcha Codes. Sorry. I wish there were a better way. 

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Meet My Character Blog Tour

This tour highlights two main characters from my new book, Prime Target.  I was invited to participate by my friend Charles Dougherty, author of the Bluewater  Thriller Series. You can read more about his books at Do take a look—they’re very good and take place in the Caribbean. Charles and his wife live on a sailboat there, and he knows what he’s talking about. His new book is Bluewater Bullion.

1) What is the name of your character? Is he/she fictional or a historic person?
My fictional characters are contemporary. Madeleine Schier is an ad exec and former concert pianist, and Charlie Dance is a former Navy Corpsman (medic).
2) When and where is the story set?
It begins in New York City, moves through the Kentucky mountains, and comes to rest on an apple farm near Hendersonville, North Carolina.
3) What is the main conflict? What messes up his/her life?
Madeleine is hiding from her husband’s murderer, adjusting to a different way of life, and Charlie is searching for purpose and a way to live with his damaged body and soul. Both characters suffer from PTSD. They don’t trust their situations or even themselves enough to live fully.
4) What is the personal goal of the character?
Madeleine wants to bring down the man who killed her husband and destroyed her life; she’s hiding from a killer, marking time until he’s brought to justice. Charlie, a natural caretaker, needs a purpose and a way to contribute, but he’s hindered by people’s reaction to him.
5) Is there a working title for this novel, and can we read more about it?
The title is Prime Target. There's a short excerpt two blogs before this one.
6) When can we expect the book to be published?
October 1. The eBook is available for pre-order on Amazon, and the print book will be out this week.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Blog Hop - Writing Process

Aaron Lazar, that silver-tongued devil, talked me into this. He’s a prolific writer who obviously manages his time better than I do mine. I love his books. You can find them at His latest two are

I’m participating because I have a free book promotion coming up September 24 and 25. It’s Time of Death. I hope you’ll take a look.
The blurb:  Artist Alex Jenrette is visiting on a small island off the South Carolina coast when she draws a murder scene—she has the McGuire psychic streak. The police think she was there and want to arrest her; the killer believes she’s a witness and wants to eliminate her. The prosecutor can’t get involved with her or he’ll risk his case.
1) What am I working on?
I’m putting in the final tweaks on Prime Target. It’s available now for pre-order and will be released October 1.
After witnessing her husband’s murder, Madeleine Schier flees her NY life, relying on her wits to  
survive in a dangerous world. Soon crimes once only on the nightly news become her new reality.
2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?
My books are suspense with varying degrees of romance, but they don’t fit the current definition of romantic suspense or of suspense. They’re more like the old Helen MacInnes and Mary Stewart, but they do have some adult language and situations.
3) Why do I write what I do?
These are the stories that come into my head. I don’t want to be limited to meeting the expectations of a particular genre. I know some readers are disappointed, but most seem to enjoy the differences. That’s the joy of self-publishing—I’m free to do it my way. I’ve had a foot in both camps—two very good publishers that I enjoyed working with, and now self-publishing. Maybe I’m a control freak, but this works for me.
4) How does my writing process work?
Slowly! I need quiet, so I write early in the mornings, but it often turns into an all-day session. It’s easy to get carried away with research, which I enjoy, but it can easily changes the direction of the story. I’m a pantser, which has its rewards but unfortunately requires deleting sections and reversing to make something work. I keep thinking I’ll outline the next one and work out the kinks ahead of time, but so far that hasn’t panned out.
Next up!
Buy at Amazon
I’m passing the blog to L.A. Sartor, who has a new book coming out this fall. She writes adventure-suspense and romance. Check out her blog and books. She’s at and her blog is An Indie Adventure/
Stop by and see her--she's a lot of fun. 

Friday, August 29, 2014

New release October 1--Prime Target

Pre-order from Amazon
At last my new book is finished. It will be released in eBook October 1, with the print version soon after that. Subjects are PTSD and human trafficking. 
 The Blurb

After witnessing her husband’s murder, Madeleine Schier becomes a killer’s target. She flees her upscale New York life to become a name on a tombstone, relying on her wits and imagination to survive in a world where danger is everywhere. One wrong move could be her last. Should she trust the damaged recluse who’s always near? Before long, her new life turns into her old nightmare when crimes that were once distant horrors on the nightly news turn up on her doorstep.
Excerpt from Chapter One

The door chime rang, followed by a sharp rap.
Madeleine jerked toward the living room. She saw Frank freeze. She didn’t think it possible, but his face turned whiter. What is it?
Knocks sounded again, harder, more insistent.
He seemed to wake up. “Hide! Get under the bed. Call 9-1-1,” he whispered. Frank started for the door, his steps stiff, jerky. “Who’s there?” he said into the intercom.
“Hey, Frankie. It’s me. Open up. We need to talk.”
Madeleine squeezed under the bed, then remembered her purse. She snatched the strap and pulled it close. The long vowels, the New England accent—Gerry Buhler’s voice. Through the open bedroom door she could see her husband, one hand on his chest, starting toward the apartment door. Before he reached it, it burst open.
No. In her fright, she hadn’t locked it.
She inched further back toward the wall, barely breathing. Lint balls from the thick carpet tickled her nose.
A youngish man, his unruly blond hair at odds with his gray suit, entered. Madeleine didn’t recognize him, but in his shadow stood Gerry Buhler. He kicked the door shut.
Awkwardly, she slipped her cell phone from her purse. Her shaking fingers barely hit the numbers, but she punched in 911, then focused on the narrow view from under the bed. Oh, God.
Buhler shook his long forefinger in Frank’s face. “I thought I could trust you, Frankie. You shouldn’t have done it.” He shoved Frank back into the room.
The 911 operator answered.
“Help me,” Madeleine whispered into the phone. “Two men broke into my apartment. Help me.” She gave her address but had to repeat it when the operator couldn’t hear her. “Hurry, hurry. They—oh, God, a gun.”
Buhler poked Frank’s chest with stiff fingers. “Tell me what you’ve done, who you’ve been talking to. Aaron saw you. Who were the guys in the parking garage? IRS? FBI? What have you done to me, Frankie?”
“I didn’t tell them anything. It wasn’t—”
The younger man stepped in and slapped him, snapping Frank’s head back.
“You got a wife, don’t you? Where is she?”