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?”

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Blog Hop with Aaron Paul Lazar

At Amazon Kindle

I'm taking part in a blog hop. This one is about the writing process and more. I've been invited by a wonderful author, Aaron Paul Lazar. This post is about Aaron. He is the author of the award-winning LeGarde Mysteries, Moore Mysteries, Tall Pines Mysteries, and his new love story, The Seacrest, available in Kindle, paperback, and audio.
    Here is a link to Aaron’s original blog piece.

   Aaron Paul Lazar writes to soothe his soul. An award-winning, bestselling Kindle author of three addictive mystery series, writing books, and a new love story, Aaron enjoys the Genesee Valley countryside in upstate New York, where his characters embrace life, play with their dogs and grandkids, grow sumptuous gardens, and chase bad guys. Visit his website at and watch for his upcoming releases, SANCTUARY(2014) and MURDER ON THE SACANDAGA(2014).

   "Aaron Lazar is a master storyteller. He sketches the relationship of man and wife in soft strokes, like a lovely pen and ink drawing on fine paper. A grandparent taking delight in the love of his grandchildren, is a pastel portrait framed in gold. Childhood friendships drenched in sepia tones are like old photographs in a long forgotten album taken from the shelf. Flowers in a garden, horses long gone from their stalls in a barn, the feel of leaf mold in the hands of a man who loves the earth—are sense memories so strong, that individuals spontaneously manifest themselves in complete fullness upon the page" - Natalie Neal Whitefield

   Here’s the cover of Devil's Lake - a new romantic thriller by Aaron Lazar, available at Amazon:
About Devil’s Lake:

After two years of brutal captivity, Portia Lamont has escaped and returned to her family’s Vermont horse farm—only to find her parents gone to New York to try an experimental treatment for her mother’s cancer, and her childhood friend Boone Hawke running the farm. Like the rest of her family, Boone has never given up hope that Portia would return. But when she turns up battered, skinny as a twelve-year-old boy, afraid of everything and unable to talk about what happened, he does the only thing he can—try to help her heal. He summons the town doctor and Portia’s parents, and sets out to put this beautiful, broken woman back together again. Through her family's love and Boone's gentle affection, Portia gradually comes back to herself, and starts to fall for her old friend in a whole new way. But one thing threatens her fragile hope for recovery: The man who took her promised that if she ever escaped, he'd kill her. Slowly. And someone is definitely watching her...waiting to make his next deadly move.

Next week I’ll post the questions for this exercise along with my answers. And at the end, you'll see a link to the author who will continue the hop and pass it on!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Images for Inspiration


Do you keep pictures of people, places, or things you use in your book? I do. Sometimes the picture comes first and inspires a part of the story. Sometimes the story comes first, as it did here. This charming cottage belongs to Sandy Foster, who took this photograph. She turned an old fishing cottage into her studio. It’s such an interesting spot that Trevor Tondro did a feature on it for The New York Times. My critique partner, knowing the main character in my WIP rents just such a tiny cottage, spotted the picture and sent it to me. I tracked down Sandy, who graciously gave me permission to use it. Since it’s January and there’s snow in the picture (although it’s supposed to be in the low 70s here today), I decided to post it today.
    Mine didn’t look quite like this, but the cottage is exactly right. Here’s the bit about the cottage, though it may change before the book is finished. and at
    “Thank you.” Madeleine followed her past the truck and down the drive to the tiny storybook house she’d seen from the road, watching Jean’s long gray braid swing in rhythm with her long strides. “I told you it was small. But it’s clean and warm. It was my daughters’ playhouse.” She stopped and waited for Madeleine to catch up. “It is small, but it’s charming. Who painted it?” Madeleine didn’t know if she could fit inside it. “I did. I’m a potter, but I dab a little paint here and there. It was sittin’ here empty, and I decided it might do for short-term rentals. My husband’s a carpenter. We fixed it up again and touched up the paint I did for when my girls was little. I wouldn’t offer it except to a woman, and a small one at that.” She glanced over at Madeleine, curious. NOTE: Prime Target will be available soon.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

My Writing Process

Aaron Paul Lazar, one of my favorite writers, tagged me for a Writing Process Blog Tour. If you haven’t tried his books, you’re missing something special. Aaron writes mysteries and more. One series features Gus LeGarde, a music professor, family man, gardener, and cook—a man you’ll want to know. Don’t Let the Wind Catch You, Tremolo: Cry of the Loon, and Double Forté are among his many books.
Now the blog about Ellis's writing process.
I’ll answer questions about my work and methods (or lack of) and will subsequently tag two wonderful writers to continue the topic.
 Q. What are you working on? 
I’m nearing the finish line with Prime Target, a suspense novel about a woman who becomes the target of a mob boss after witnessing her husband’s murder.
I’m also working on more stories about Will Porter’s Maleantes & More team (from Cold Comfort).  I think Will is up next—I have several chapters done and am in love with the characters, always a good thing. He’s assigned to protect Gwen Gordon (from Haunting Refrain) from a kidnap threat.
The next McGuire Women story is emerging from the psychic fog. Isobel (from Time of Death) will have a prominent role, but the main character is Aurelia’s child, who moves from the West to the Blue Ridge Mountains (home territory for me) looking for peace.
Q. How does your work differ from others of its genre?
I’m something of a cross-genre writer. My stories are primarily suspense but all have some kind of love story. Some readers prefer pure genre material, but I write what feels right for my story and characters. And what I like to read. :-)
My stories are linked: minor characters in one book become protagonists in another book.  In the Maleantes & More books, Will Porter operates a security firm. Ben Riley (Cold Comfort) is one of his employees.
Another book lurking in my mind is about another of Will’s men, Austin Cutter. Cutter is stunned to see a newspaper article announcing his engagement to Allison Gilmore, a woman he hardly knows.
Each book of the McGuire Women series (Haunting Refrain and Time of Death) features a different character from a family with a psychic streak.
All my books have mild adult language and situations, which I include in the descriptions because some people prefer not to read such books. To me it’s realism, but we all live in our own small world.
Q. Why do you write what you do?
These are the stories that pop into my head and also what I like to read. I set them in places I’ve been or live near because I can research the details more easily and because I find them intriguing environments. The characters have to appeal to me, and I usually fall in love with the hero. Some are beautiful, some are not, but all have qualities that draw me—kindness, honor, integrity—and a dash of vengeance. You pay goodness forward, but bad acts you pay back. Works for me and for my main characters.
Q. How does your writing process work?
Mine is an iffy process. I need silence to concentrate, but I’m learning to listen to music to help shut out other things. Early mornings when the house is quiet, no radio or TV, phone, or conversation, suit me best. Then I can think, get in the “zone,” so to speak. The more I write, the easier it comes. Write, write, write.
I’m slow, can’t help editing as I go, and I sometimes write myself into blind canyons. That requires backtracking and taking a different path. I WILL outline my next book before I start. :-)
That's it! Thanks, Aaron Lazar, for asking me to participate in this fun blog hop!
I’m passing the baton to:
Polly Iyer, suspense/thrillers, including Threads, Mind Games, and Goddess of the Moon. Polly's blog is on Goodreads.
Linda Lovely, mystery/suspense, featuring the Marley Clark Mysteries No Wake Zone and Dear Killer.