Thursday, February 28, 2013

FIRST FRIDAY: Delaney! Iyer! Lovely!

It's First Friday! The day three talented authors give their take on a single photo in 150 words or less.

  The shoes called me through the store window, whispering my sister’s party was tonight, reminding me of that cute guy who never noticed me. I didn’t stand out at parties, and he always looked over my head, not down at me. I wanted him to notice me. What did I have to lose if I bought the shoes? Just half a month’s paycheck and possibly my balance. It was worth it.
  I looked amazing. My mirror told me so. So did the smile on the face of the cute guy as I entered my sister’s apartment. I smiled back and took a step onto her slippery white tile floor. My ankle went one way, the shoe another and my face met the floor. Was that my blood the shoe sat in?  My nose was flowing freely. But the cute guy was picking me up.
  I had been noticed.

  His nickname was Detective Superman. There’d never been a case he couldn’t crack, until what the media dubbed The Stiletto Murders came along, six vicious slayings ago. The victims were johns, and the murderer’s signature was always the same: a different stiletto posed near the body, blood drizzled around the bottom of the shoe. Neat, clean, no prints, no hairs, no DNA. Nothing but the victim’s unadulterated semen. The shoe, sold in every chain store in the city, offered no clue to the buyer.
  Except this time. This time, she’d left a calling card. For him.
  His heart pounded. Sweat beaded at his hairline, trickled down his back.
  “You all right, Detective?” the first cop on the scene asked. “You look pale.”
  “Fine, fine,” Superman said, sloughing him off. But he wasn’t. Not by a long shot
  He recognized the red stiletto. He’d bought the expensive shoes for her.

  A cherry-red stiletto? Crimey. The blood is dandy. Marley steps in it often enough. But no way would my heroine squash her D-width tootsies in my cover artist’s tribute to foot surgery. What possessed Judy—my early twenties cover artist? Her arches won’t collapse for a few decades. I didn’t expect Judy to read my book, just hoped she’d peruse the synopsis. Sigh.
  Okay, try diplomacy. As authors are pitifully aware, we’re less likely to sway book cover design than President Obama is to gain unanimous Congressional approval—of anything. Guess I could photograph one of my scruffy clodhoppers. While Marley and I are far from twins, we see bunion to bunion on footwear.
FREE today on Amazon!
  Hmmm. Or I could edit. After losing a bet, Marley can be en route to a costume party wearing Madonna breast cones and shiny stilettos when she slips on some blood. Marley would you forgive me?


  Kathleen Delaney writes the Ellen McKenzie mystery series. Dying for a Change introduces Ellen, who’s returned to her career as a real estate agent. Finding a dead body in the closet of the first house you show is a hard way to start. Life doesn’t get any easier for Ellen in Give First Place to Murder,  And Murder for Dessert, and Murder Half Baked.
  Kathleen has just finished the fifth, Murder by Syllabub. She lives in Georgia with a dog and cat and often a couple of grandchildren who love to visit. Or is it the pumpkin/cranberry bread they like?
Polly's Amazon Page

  Polly Iyer was born on the coast of Massachusetts. After studying at Massachusetts College of Art and Design in Boston, she traveled to Italy, lived in Atlanta, and now resides in the beautiful Piedmont region of South Carolina in an empty nest house with her husband, a drooling mutt named Max, and Joey, the timid cat. She writes crime fiction that always has a murder or two…or three, characters who cross ethical lines, and a hint of romance.

At Amazon
  Linda Lovely writes mysteries and romantic thrillers. Her Marley Clark series features a 52-year-old retired military intelligence officer. DEAR KILLER is set in the SC Lowcountry where Marley works as a security guard. NO WAKE ZONE moves to Lake Okoboji, Iowa. Marley will return to the Carolina Coast in book three. Lovely’s newest romantic thriller, FINAL ACCOUNTING, is a set in Atlanta and Jamaica.
  The author is a member of Sisters in Crime, Romance Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, and the South Carolina Writers Workshop. Click on book covers on Lovely’s website——for ebook and paperback buy links.

Join in! Add your 150-word vision in the comments. We love to read them.

Saturday, February 23, 2013



In an action scene, one in which the emotions are high and the reader is on the edge of the seat, the mood is tense, the writing tight. Use all the senses, the coppery taste of blood, the cold sting of the rain, the smell of old fish. Limit the number of adjectives (descriptive words). Cut any that aren’t absolutely necessary. Find strong verbs and let them do the work. Avoid adverbs ( –ly words).
Definitely trouble
The pacing in an action scene is fast. There’s no room for background or description, which will slow the action. Save these things for slower scenes and when you want to give the reader a little time to catch her breath.
In action, every word must count. Vary the length of your sentences, using short, terse statements and fragments mixed with longer sentences. Keep paragraphs short. Eliminate “and” as much as possible. Don’t use words that dilute the meaning, such as “almost,” “seemed,” and “nearly.” Make it hard and fast; give it some punch.
Take cover!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Interview with Jacqueline Seewald

Jacqueline is the author of a romantic mystery series featuring psychic librarian Kim Reynolds, a paranormal historical romance (Tea Leaves and Tarot Cards) as well as a number of short stories.

How did you decide to become a writer? Is it what you expected?
 I began writing as a small child. I always seemed to be making up stories. When I was able, I started writing them down. My mother bought me my first typewriter when I was eleven and taught me how to touch type.
Writing wasn’t what I expected. It’s a lot of hard work and not much glory. The writing itself is the easy, joyful, creative part. It’s the constant rewriting that’s hard. It requires lots of self-discipline.
What did you read as a child?
I read the usual children’s books early on. But when I turned ten I decided to read the classics, the great literature of the world.  I read books like The Three Musketeers for example. Later on, I enjoyed Jane Austen, Charles Dickens.

 Which comes first, plot or characters?
For novels, it’s the characters. They live in my head for a long time before I write a word.

 Plotter or pantser?
I guess a little of each, although I do try to outline a novel before I write it.
I like to know where it’s going so that there’s cohesion in the plot.

Who would you like to play your main characters in a movie?
A hard question to answer! I love George Clooney but think he’s now a bit too old for the lead male character Police Lieutenant Mike Gardner in the Kim Reynolds mystery series. As for Kim, there are a lot of actresses that could play her part well.

 Which of your characters would you least like to meet in a dark alley?
Probably Detective Bert St. Croix, Mike’s badass homicide partner—she doesn’t suffer fools. So if you’re a bad guy, watch out!

What’s coming out next?
The next new Five Star/Gale mystery novel comes out in hardcover August 2013. It’s completely different from any of my other novels. It’s written with my older son Andrew. Entitled The Third Eye, the novel is set in the Pine Barrens of New Jersey, an area I love and think is quite unique.

Anything else you want to say?
In the Kim Reynolds series, there are connected murders that need to be solved. The main characters become personally involved as in THE TRUTH SLEUTH when Kim initially finds the body of a murdered boy and later discovers another on the high school grounds.

At Amazon
Each novel in the series is an independent mystery. However, each develops Kim as a person and her life continues to change much as that of a real person.
I am pleased that THEINFERNO COLLECTION and THE DROWNING POOL are now available at low cost in all e-book formats. You can check them out at:

Harlequin Worldwide Mystery reprinted THE TRUTH SLEUTH, the third novel in the Kim Reynolds mystery series, in January 2013 so the novel is now available inexpensively as a paperback.

Could you give us a short excerpt from one of your books?

This is from the beginning of THE TRUTH SLEUTH:

Kim was developing an uncomfortable feeling of wrongness; a kind of prickling sensation slithered down her spine. She recognized the feeling for what it was but shook her head, trying to dispel the spasm of dread that suddenly gripped her. God, not this again! Would she ever be free of it?

Then Kim gasped, seized by a stab of pain. In her mind, she heard a silent scream, an astonished cry for help. She felt another’s panic and terror. She began to shiver and tremble.

“What’s the matter?” Bert asked, her dark brows rising then knitting together in concern.

“Someone’s been hurt.” Those were the only words she managed to choke out.

“Who? Where?” April asked, glancing around in confusion.

“Maybe we better have a look,” Bert said. Her height of six feet gave her an advantage over both Kim, who was five foot six inches, and April, who was barely five foot two inches tall.

The crowd was starting to thin out, many bikers revving up their engines in anticipation of leaving now that today’s entertainment was over. Kim led, Bert and April following behind her. Although she was not really certain where she was going, Kim plowed blindly through the garbage-strewn grounds. And then she saw him: a very young man sitting in an aluminum beach chair, head slumped forward as if he were in a deep sleep.

“He’s dead,” Kim heard herself say with certainty. Her voice sounded hollow, expressionless and faraway, as if it belonged to someone else.

“Oh, God, are you sure?” April asked, tossing her gold-tinted curls as if to deny Kim’s statement.

“Kim’s got this gift of knowing stuff like that,” Bert said.

More like a curse, in Kim’s opinion.

Bert knelt down, at first not touching the body. “I don’t think he’s breathing.” Bert’s voice had taken on a note of professional authority. She looked and sounded like the seasoned policewoman she was. Bert felt for a pulse, then shook her head. “Don’t touch anything. I’m calling this in.” There was a grim expression on Bert’s cafĂ© au lait features. She pulled a small cell phone out from the pocket of her black leather jacket.

Before Bert could make the call, Kim turned and faced her.

“There’s something I think you should know.”

“I’m listening.” Bert stood very still like a figure in a portrait.

Kim let out a ragged breath. “I think that boy was murdered.”

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Bring or Take?

"Bring me the ball, Willie."

Ever have a problem with bring and take? I see the two words misused more often than I would expect, but I have to stop and think about which one is correct sometimes too. It's all about the place of speaking.

When the verb to bring indicates physical movement, it means to move it in the direction of the speaker, to bring something to or toward oneself. It denotes movement toward the place of speaking or the point from which the action is regarded. If Max is doing the telling, he could see that Dave brings a cup with him (toward Max). "Bring the cup to me," Max said.
If no movement is implied, bring may be used to mean produce; for example, The new regulations could bring improvements to low-income housing.

Take, the opposite of bring, indicates movement away from the place of speaking. "Take this cup to Mary," Max said. He took the cards to the party. The action in both examples is moving away from the place of speaking, going toward another place.

Monday, February 4, 2013


Love and Not Destroy

I’m delighted to have author Sandra Carey Cody as my guest this week. I think she captured those feelings most of us have about our writing.
Is there a writer alive who doesn't dream of being Shakespeare or Austen or Faulkner or Cather? We all long to write something that people will read after we’ve been dead 100 years. We'd like to be a genius. But genius is a gift and is bestowed on only a few. What about the rest of us? Should we stop writing? Throw up our hands and quit? Does the world really need more books by mediocre writers? I say no - to both quitting and mediocrity. There’s a lot of territory between genius and mediocrity and that vast space is the arena where most of us play out our lives, hoping that our efforts will bring us closer to the Genius end of the field.
One of my favorite contemporary authors is Jane Hamilton and my favorite book by her is The Short History of a Prince. It is the story of a boy's journey to manhood and his reluctant realization that no matter how hard he works, he'll never be as good as he would like to be. The teenaged Walter McCloud wants more than anything to be a dancer, but eventually has to acknowledge that he doesn't have the talent. He lacks that magical element that would allow him to be in reality what he is in his dreams. He sees others, who don't work nearly as hard as he does, surpass him. If you've read the book, you may be shaking your head at this oversimplification of a complex novel, a story of a loving family, holding themselves together through the illness and death of a child. In short, Walter's lack of genius isn't the most important thing in the book. Neither is it the most important thing in most of our lives. Most of us have families, friends, neighbors who have needs that deflect our energy away from our writing.
Hamilton, talented though she is, must have experienced the feeling of not being as exceptional as she would like to be in order to have written The Short History of a Prince. In it, she captured the disappointment most of us feel at times of not being enough. If you feel inadequate, use that feeling. Create a character who’s striving to achieve a goal that is beyond his ability. You’ll have a very human human being – a good place to start any story.
William Faulkner said: "The writer’s only responsibility is to his art. He will be completely ruthless if he is a good one. He has a dream. It anguishes him so much he must get rid of it. He has no peace until then. Everything goes by the board: honor, pride, decency, security, happiness, all, to get the book written. If a writer has to rob his mother, he will not hesitate…." As much as I admire Faulkner, I can't live that way and don't believe that I am supposed to. I'm grateful for his passion and the legacy that it created, but I don't believe it's the only way to be a writer.
I'd love to be a genius, but have come to the conclusion that, since I don't get to pick that card, I can't worry about it. I'll do the best I can today and hope that, by so doing, tomorrow my best will be a little better.
Ernest Hemingway, arguably Faulkner's best-known contemporary, said: "We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master." I would add that none of us know what our legacy will be. As for me, I'll continue my apprenticeship and not let my lack of genius rob me of the joy of writing. Reading is one of life's great pleasures and writing should be too. 

A baby is found in a basket on the grounds of a small-town museum during their annual Folk Festival. Twenty-two years later, a homeless man is murdered in exactly the same spot. Connection? Or coincidence? Peace Morrow, the foundling, now an adult working at the museum, is haunted by this question and thus begins a quest that explores the nature of family, of loyalty and responsibility. As she tries to reconstruct the victim's history, his story becomes entangled with her own search for family roots, a journey that leads her through the dusty boxes in the museum's basement, to the antique markets in the northern part of the state and, ultimately, to the innermost reaches of her own heart.
Amazon Kindle:
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Sandra Carey Cody is the author of the Jennie Connors mystery series and the stand-alone mystery, Love and Not Destroy, She also writes non-mystery short stories. She grew up in Missouri, surrounded by a family who loved stories, whether from a book or a Sunday afternoon on the front porch. She's lived in various cities in different parts of the country, but wherever she's gone, books have been the bridge to a new community and new friends. She and her husband now live in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. To learn more, you can visit her website: or visit her blog She blogs at: