Sunday, October 30, 2011

Review: Murder in the 11th House.

by Mitchell Scott Lewis

ISBN: 978-59058-950-2

a 2011 release from

Poisoned Pen Press

A team of intrepid and intelligent agents in league with an astrologer take on difficult cases of potential injustice. The feeling one gets from this debut novel about the Starlight Detective Agency is one of a small team of right-minded individuals with varied skills united around common goals. When government doesn’t get it right, the agency will. And they’re not above bending the law for all the right reasons. How that affects the lawyer/daughter on the team remains to be seen. The agency does work with police in New York City whenever possible, and because of his wealth and reputation, that seems to be often, but David Lowell, Astrologer non parallel, is not above spending his considerable money and influence to right apparent wrongs.

Angry bartender Johnny Colbert has a loud confrontation with a judge in a small New York Courtroom. It’s a civil case but the judge is soon dead in spectacular fashion and the bartender has no alibi. Enter Lowell’s daughter, defense attorney, Melinda, who prevails on her father to attempt to solve the mystery of who killed the judge and why, thus, presumably, exonerating Ms Colbert. The why of the murder proves far more fascinating that the astrological explanations. There are many explanations, and in some detail. They tend to slow the pace of the story considerably.

But it doesn’t matter whether you believe in astrology or not, the writing is generally smooth and the story develops logically. All of the characters stay in character, even if it’s a bit of a stretch for the young idealistic attorney to countenance what she knows is marginally illegal activity on behalf of her client. Several of the characters, Sarah and the client in particular, are interesting and well-drawn. all in all a nice traditionally-styled crime novel for a pleasant reading afternoon.

-- Carl Brookins, Case of the Great Train Robbery, Reunion, Red Sky

Friday, October 28, 2011

Authorsday: Tory Richards

Do you plot or do you write by the seat of your pants?

I write by the seat of my pants. No discipline or planning here. Although I will make a cheat sheet. That came in handy when I wrote The Promise because the story took place during the holidays and included a very large family. I sometimes bounce back and forth between stories when I’m writing and keeping the characters straight keeps my editor happy.

  1. How many rejections have you received?

My fair share. Never counted them. It’s very frustrating receiving a rejection letter that doesn’t explain why they don’t want your book. Only one publisher took the time to give me advice, which paid off tremendously. Every author has received a rejection at some time or another.

  1. Why did you pick the publisher that ultimately published your book?

Well, I’m published with four different epubs. Whiskey Creek Press Torrid, Liquid Silver Books, Ellora’s Cave and The Wild Rose Press. All of them have longevity, a good reputation, and they treat their authors right.

  1. What do you consider your strengths in terms of your writing?

I’ve been told over and over by readers that they can easily picture a scene I’ve written and that I have a good knack for detail. I think I have a pretty good imagination with regard to setting up a scene.

  1. What’s your writing schedule?

I don’t have a set schedule. Writing is a hobby for me and I write when I feel like it.

  1. What three things would you want with you on a desert island?

A helicopter. A hot man. A hot man who happens to be a helicopter pilot.

  1. What place that you haven’t visited would you like to go?

Ireland. I’ve actually planned to go twice now but 911 and my daughter getting pregnant with my first grandchild got in the way. Some day, though.

  1. What do you do when you are not writing?

Working a full time day job. Spending time with my family.

  1. What would you like to learn to do that you haven’t?

I’ve always wanted to learn sign language. I had two sister-in-laws who taught themselves when they were teenagers so no one would know what they were talking about. They would sit at the dinner table and sign away. I think that peaked my interest, but for different reasons. I’ve since been in several situations where I had to arrange for an interpreter.

  1.  What’s your favorite food?

Any kind of sandwich.

Author Bio

Tory is a multi-published, best-selling author who lives in Florida with her three crazy cats. She likes to travel, preferably by cruise ship, and doesn’t like to fly but will if she has to. She collects antiques and art, loves chocolate (who doesn’t?) and good coffee.

Tory has wanted to be a writer since she was a kid, but life got in the way of her dreams. A few years ago, with the support and encouragement of her family, she decided to get serious. And she hasn’t looked back. Her erotic romances are laced with humor, suspense and sizzling sex.

Book Blurb:

Someone to Love Me

When Charlie's plane goes down in the remote Alaskan wilderness she knows she's in big trouble. She didn't have time to radio in her position. So it looks like her decision to surprise her parents on their wedding anniversary wasn't such a good idea. Now lost and in freezing temperatures, her chances of survival look bleak.

As Charlie heads out on foot, she faces a new danger when a white wolf appears. And right behind him is her salvation. A quiet mountain man with secrets, who takes her to his one-room cabin, where she finds herself stranded for the winter.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Author Excerpt: Vincent Zandri

From my bed, I shoot a glance at his wedding finger and see that it’s empty. Moonlight the observant. I also see that the sun’s rays haven’t quite tanned the white ring-line that remains. Another newly-separated-on-the-way-to-divorce cop. Big surprise there.

“Mind if I ask you a few questions, Mr. Moonlight?”
“Dick,” I offer. “Dick.”
“’Scuse me?” the uniformed side of beef breaks in. He’s obviously under the impression I’m trying to mess with his boss. Or maybe he’s just trying to pick a fight with the near dead, or the hardly alive.“That’s my name. Dick. As in, your boss may call me Dick, as opposed to a dick.”

Book Details:
Genre:Adult Suspense, Mystery, Thriller
Publisher: StoneGate Ink
Publication Date: August 13,2011

“Life sucks. Then you die. Or, if you’re Dick Moonlight, first you die and then you live.”

Dick Moonlight is dead.

Really dead this time, now that three President Obama-masked thugs dressed all in black and communicating only with hand-held voice synthesizers pressed up against their voice boxes have beat the life right out of him inside a dark, downtown Albany alley. What are the thugs after? A box. Size, weight, description unknown. They also want him to stay away from his newest and only client: a handicapped nuclear engineer of dubious Russian heritage by the same of Peter Czech.

But then, now that they’ve killed him, Moonlight’s problems seem to be over. In fact, as he undergoes an out of body experience, his soul floating above his train-wreck of a corpse inside the Albany Medical Center I.C.U., he feels pretty damned good. Great in fact. To make death all the more sweeter, his one true love, Lola, is standing by his bedside. With her long dark hair draping her chiseled face and big round Jackie O sunglasses hiding tear-filled eyes, she appears every bit the grieving sig other. Nothing could make the dead-and-gone Moonlight prouder.

But then something happens. Something bad. A man enters into the I.C.U. Some young guy. He takes hold of Lola’s hand, and pulls her into him. Together, the two share a loving embrace over Moonlight’s dead body. Now, what seemed like a peaceful death is anything but. Moonlight wants back inside his body so he can face-off Some Young Guy and find out if his true love has in fact been cheating on him. At the same time, he wants to find out the true identity of those thugs who killed him so he can exact his revenge. No doubt about it, Moonlight needs to live if he’s going to uncover some pretty painful answers and take care of business.

Like a little kid dropping down a playground slide, Moonlight slides right back inside his bruised and broken body. Opening his eyes the white light blinds him. He feels the pain of his wounds and the pain of his breaking heart.

Life sucks, then you die.

But Moonlight rises. 

Author Bio:
Vincent Zandri is the No. 1 International Bestselling Amazon Kindle author of THE INNOCENT, GODCHILD, THE REMAINS, MOONLIGHT FALLS, CONCRETE PEARL and the forthcoming MOONLIGHT RISES. He is also the author of the bestselling digital shorts, PATHOLOGICAL and MOONLIGHT MAFIA. Harlan Coben has described his novels as "...gritty, fast-paced, lyrical and haunting," while the New York Post called THE INNOCENT, "Sensational...Masterful...Brilliant!" In March, April and May of 2011, he sold more than 100,000 Kindle E-Books editions of his novels, and is rapidly closing in on the 200K mark all totaled. An MFA in Writing graduate of Vermont College, Zandri's work is translated into many languages including the Dutch, Russian and Japanese. An adventurer, foreign correspondent, and freelance photo-journalist for RT, Globalspec, IBTimes and more, he divides his time between New York and Florence, Italy.
Connect With Vincent:
The Next Stop:
October 27th-Review@Thoughts In Progress

Purchase Links: 

Friday, October 21, 2011

10-21-11 Ya Haven’t Lived…

By Rochelle Weber

“I’m here because the hormonal shifts of menopause overcame my bi-polar drugs.”

Eleven men, members of the Chicago VA chorus of which I was a member, slumped down in their chairs shaking their heads murmuring, “Oh no, she didn’t just say that,” in the opulent dining room in Minneapolis, Minnesota at the National Veterans Creative Arts Festival.  I’d been selected to give the woman’s view of my first experience at the Festival.  I’d been a member of the chorus since my first hospitalization for bi-polar disorder in Chicago in 2001.  I was diagnosed at the Washington, DC, VA in 1996.

“Ya haven’t lived until you’ve been the only woman on the locked ward at the VA.  As they say—the odds are good, but the goods are odd.”

During menopause I was hospitalized five or six times.  Back in the seventies when I tried birth control pills, I threw a blood clot in my lung.  Hormone therapy was out of the question.  Besides, I’m cold all the time.  I miss my hot flashes.  ;-(

I do not, however, miss my mood swings.  I’m a rapid cycler and most of the time I’m fairly normal.  Unfortunately, I moved away from Chicago where I got really good care to a more rural VA where they refused to change my meds even when it was clear they were not working.  They just kept increasing the dosage.  I kept “going off” on people and in between, I experienced increasing dementia—forgetting what I was doing, losing words, etc.  I’m a writer, I’m in Mensa and I was in my fifties.  I was terrified, and my daughters were so upset, they made me give up my apartment and move in with my eldest.

Bi-polar disorder is easy to misdiagnose.  People think of it as euphoric highs and crashing lows—going from periods of intense happiness and creativity to periods of paralyzing depression and, indeed, many bi-polar people are like that.  But it can also include horrible temper tantrums, spending sprees, going from sexual promiscuity to total lack of desire.  In really severe cases, people hear voices and it can be misdiagnosed as schizophrenia.  I spent several years on Prozac not realizing I was only treating half of my disease, because I didn’t realize my tantrums were the other half, until I had a roommate who was bi-polar and recognized the symptoms.  She gave me Patti Duke’s books, “Call Me Anna,” and “A Brilliant Madness.”  I read them on the pysch ward at the VA.  I was there for two weeks while they diagnosed me and regulated my meds.

Bi-polar disorder is caused by imbalances among serotonin, dopamine and other brain chemicals.  Scientists have also noted an increase in the lateral ventricles, and an increase in the rates of deep white matter hyperintensities of the brain.  It seems to run in families, but a definitive genetic link has not yet been established.  Lithium is the drug of choice for severe bi-polar patients, but I’ve never taken it because of its side-effects.  I’m on a combination of an anti-depressant and an anti-convulsant.  This is the third or fourth such cocktail I’ve tried in the fifteen years since I was diagnosed.

My current book, Rock Crazy, is about a Katie McGowan, a woman with bi-polar disorder.  Many of Katie’s experiences are mine.  Arguments with her mother are real, but mine took place when I was a teen ager and I was awake.  I believe my mom was bi-polar and self-medicated with alcohol.  I hit puberty when she hit menopause and “it was not a good match,” as Katie tells her friend, Annie.  We fought pretty hard when I was in high school.  But Mama was a good person.  She adopted me when my birth mother was asking around the neighborhood for a home for me.  (My birth mother may have been bi-polar as well.)  And I know she loved me and was proud of me because she kept the first story I ever wrote when I was seven and had chicken pox.  I still have it—the story, not chicken pox.  She was just sick, like me and Katie.  I hope you’ll read Rock Crazy and enjoy it.

Rock Crazy

Katie McGowan is bi-polar, and she’s run the gamut of medications, but nothing works anymore.  Everyone says her she should have a microchip implanted in her brain that can regulate her mood swings.  But Katie doesn’t want to be a robot.  In a tough love move, her husband, Scott takes her to the Moon—and dumps her. Katie’s stuck on that God-forsaken “rock,” and thinks she’s space sick. But she’s wrong; she’s pregnant. Now the surgery’s too dangerous and she has to go off her meds until the baby’s born.

Scott’s elated that he’s going to be a father and assumes Katie will take him back.  He has no clue how badly he’s hurt her, how thoroughly he’s broken her trust—or that he may not get her back at all.


Rochelle Weber is a Navy veteran and holds a BA in Communications from Columbia College in Chicago with an emphasis on creative writing.  Her non-fiction article, “Bulimia,” was featured in Hair Trigger 9 & 10, the acclaimed Columbia College student anthology.  Her first novel, Rock Bound, is available at Create Space, Smashwords, Amazon and  She edits the Marketing for Romance Writers Newsletter.  Rochelle fights her own battle with bi-polar disorder, quipping, “You haven’t lived until you’ve been the only woman on the locked ward at the VA.”  Her song, “It’s Not My Fault,” won a gold medal in the National Veterans Creative Arts Competition. She lives in Volo, Ilinois, with her elder daughter and granddaughter.  Her younger daughter lives in Paris, Illinois, and has a son and two daughters. Three cats and a bunny allow the humans to wait on them leg and paw.


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

How the View Through a Camera Lens Changed Three Lives

By Toni Noel

For ten years I studied landscape photography, standing behind a large format camera and ducking under a dark cloth to focus an image upside-down on a 4 x 5 inch piece of glass before closing the shutter and transferring the image to film. Later, I'd develop the negative in a dark room, dry the film and make a print. If I deemed the print suitable, I'd mount it to share.

In Decisive Moments, Amy Millington does the same thing, but the images for her show are to satisfy one of the requirements for her graduate degree in fine art. Only architect Charles Harding stands in her way. He owns the last home she's promised to photograph, a boarded up mansion on Harding Road, a sad-looking house that draws her back again and again.

Since the death of his caretaker, Charles has allowed no one to enter his childhood home, the scene of events so traumatic they've shaped the reclusive architect's life.

Enter Amy and Marta, Amy's five-year old daughter on a daddy search. Charles doesn't have a chance. Amy's grab shot of the roofline of his house snapped from the sidewalk and enlarged to hang in a place of honor at her gallery-show opening touches the homeowner's heart, and he lets her see the inside of his home.

Amy needs more. Her patience and Marta's persistence win Charles over. The boards come off the windows and he gives Amy a key to the front door. He still can't cross the threshold, but the woman who is quietly stealing his heart can photograph to her heart's content.


On her first venture inside, Amy senses a presence, smells Thanksgiving dinner cooking, hears children's voices. This house needs a family living under its roof again, she decides, but returns often to photograph, and eventually learns about the tragedy that happened in the study. When he was four,  his  mother shot his father, then turned the gun on herself while he played beneath the study window.

Amy's negative of the fireplace study looks as if a ghost walked in front of her camera, so Amy loads Marta in the car and makes one final trip to the house to retake the image she plans to hang in a prominent place in her graduate exhibit. Marta disappears while Amy's lost in her work. Charles helps her search, entering his house for the first time in years. He finds Marta in a secret room his father used as a wine cellar, where she has found the long-lost suicide note his mother left, and Charles learns his mother did not abandon him for lack of love.

Now Charles feels free to ask for Amy's hand in marriage, but she says, "No way." Her late husband's perceived infidelity broke her heart and turned her off marriage for good.  Charles insists she learn the truth, and her trip to Las Vegas to talk to his military friends eventually brings results. She learns her husband loved her dearly and hoped to someday have a child with her.

Charles makes one final play to win Amy's hand, a quiet dinner in a special location, forcing Amy to face  her own Decisive Moment.

 A boarded up mansion in Mission Hills inspired this novel.

Here's an excerpt:

 The receptionist on a mission to block her path was no match for Amy Millington. On a mission herself, she darted past.

Her destination loomed ahead, the two closed mahogany doors leading to the office of Charles A. Harding, Architect.

So far, so good.

Now to outsmart the sedately dressed secretary seated at the desk just outside those doors. This formidable woman screened the architect's calls and had, on a daily basis for the last two months, refused Amy's request for an appointment.

Failure to accomplish her mission meant postponing graduation for six more months. No way. Too much was riding on her master's degree. Maybe even a Guggenheim Fellowship. Amy's new career, for sure, and with it, a secure future for her daughter. No way would she allow Harding's secretary to stop her now.

Taking a deep breath, Amy charged around the woman's desk to the doors and yanked, sending one crashing back against the wall.

The dark-haired man seated behind a massive desk looked up, surprised. His finely tailored suit matched the toasted pecan color of his eyes. His white shirt seemed almost too harsh for his silk tie softly patterned in rust and bark.

Amy's heart beat erratically, making her lightheaded right when she needed to be at her best. She didn't have much time. Building security would show up soon.

She met the man's unreadable gaze and forced her best smile. Three more strides brought her close enough to inhale the woodsy scent of his aftershave. "Mr. Harding, I--"

His threshold guard interrupted. "I'm sorry, Mr. Harding. This young woman wouldn't stop."

He frowned, but a hint of curiosity lit his eyes. "Never mind, Julia." He nodded at his secretary and she left the room, though Amy noticed she didn't close the door.

Then he returned his attention to the blueprints on his desk. The nerve of him. Like a naughty child in the principal's office, he made her wait.

A fresh wave of irritation at all her wasted time washed over her. Weeks of thwarted attempts to see this illusive man, and what did he do once she'd breached his gates? Ignored her best smile. Ignored the stylish suit she'd purchased just for this moment, a suit bought with money she'd managed to cut from her school supply budget over the last six months. It looked like she wouldn't earn a second glance from this reclusive architect.

Finally he stopped shuffling the blueprints, rolled them up and stood. "Five minutes."

She extended her hand, ignoring his cold demeanor. "My name is Amy Millington." When he reluctantly offered his, she shook his hand, an artist's hand with long fingers, his smooth, uncallused palm unexpectedly warm.

"Charles Harding, but of course you know that."

Yes, she knew his name, and a lot more about him, thanks to her research. His presence seemed to fill the spacious room, crowding her. His quick gesture indicated she should take the chair near his desk. She sat, welcoming the chance to catch her breath and corral her thoughts.

He took his seat and cleared the space before him of work, giving her a moment to study him unobserved.

A stray curl tumbled over his forehead when he glanced down at his work, giving him a boyish look. He was definitely more good-looking than any photos she'd found of him, but he looked older than his years, and almost sad.

"So, Miss Millington, what's so important you couldn't wait for an appointment?"

"I wanted an appointment, but your secretary has refused to give me one each time I called. She insisted you were unavailable, that you would never make time to see me."

"Julia simply carries out my instructions." He opened a drawer, took out a yellow pad and slid the drawer shut. "What brings you to my office? Are you interested in building a home?"

Amy glanced at the framed renderings on the wall behind him. All were of rather sterile, contemporary dwellings built of stone and glass. Her artistic eye rebelled at those cold images created by the man seated across from her.

"House plans are not what I had in mind." She steadied her nerves and plunged on as she felt her five minutes ticking away. "I'm a grad student at UCSD just weeks from completing a master's degree in visual arts. Photographing architecture is my main emphasis. I came because of my interest in your great-grandfather's home designs."

Harding's frown returned so she hurried on. "He built six homes in Mission Hills. I've studied those designs, and over the past few months I've photographed the interiors of five of those homes as part of my graduate project. There's only one I still need. The house you own on Harding Road. At one time the man living there gave me permission to photograph the interior, but I'm now unable to reach him."

She watched as the architect's lips drew into a tight line, hardening his expression. A mouth revealed so much about a man.

With a deft motion, he slid open the drawer and stuffed the yellow pad inside. "I'm afraid what you're about to propose is impossible. The uncle you spoke to died." Harding came to his feet, ready to kick her out.

"But surely--"

"No." A muscle twitched in his strong jaw. "Five houses should be sufficient for your needs."

"Not photographing the sixth house will make my study incomplete. Please, could I--"

Irritation flashed in his eyes. "No one goes inside."

Why? It didn't make sense.

All right, time to try something else. "I'm sure you know the first C. A. Harding included ingenious details in his designs." To Amy's relief, his stiff stance relaxed a fraction.

"One interesting part of my research involved discovering the secret hidden in each of the homes he helped build. The house with the dumb waiter to the master bedroom is my favorite."

As if surprised to discover himself standing, Harding eased back into his chair.

Almost made him smile. Good. Maybe she could reach the real man beneath this hard shell. "Or maybe it's the house on Dixon Drive where shrubbery hides the outside stairs leading from the garden to the eldest son's bedroom."

Amazingly, Harding's sculpted lips twitched into a smile. What a difference a grin made in his looks. Gone was the grim set of his jaw, the skeptical frown. A cleft in his chin appeared. What could have made this handsome man so dour? So serious? Charles Harding needed to learn how to lighten up.

Ignoring the sudden tripping of her heartbeat as she realized she was staring at him, she hurried on. "I can just picture an adolescent son sneaking in late at night, no need to remove his shoes."

Leaning forward, Amy met the architect's gaze and smiled. "What about you? Are surprises hidden in your designs?"

"I'm more concerned with function. With practicality. My clientele demands modern efficiency for their money, clean lines and easy care. Hidden passageways are remnants of another time."

"That may be true, but what romantic times they were. Have you asked your clients if they might prefer something more imaginative? A design with a few soft curves to soften all the cold stone and glass?"

"What might seem appropriate in your art would be considered impractical in modern homes."

Modern designs held no appeal for her she'd learned. "Now, about photographing your house..."

Anger -- or was it something else -- flared in his eyes as he stood. "There is no chance of you ever photographing my house," he said, a note of finality in his voice.

"Here's my card, in case you change your mind."

He slid the card into his desk without a glance. "I won't."

She tucked her purse under her arm and headed for the door. Across the room a burst of buttercup yellow caught her eye. Her own reflection in glass. The only spot of color in the dreary room was her best suit.

Decisive Moments is available for download from all eBook stores and the publisher,

and from all eBook stores.


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

ExcerpTuesday: Gordon Kessler

Hill went to the front door and watched Chin’s van make a U-turn at the corner and head down the street.  The headlights flashed in Hill’s face, momentarily blinding her.  She winced.  The light burned her already blood-shot, weary eyes.

A silent moment passed before a sound came from outside.  The back yard.  Scratching.  Something was climbing over the fence.

The rifle.  It was still next to the back door.  Hill moved quickly toward the kitchen.  As she made it to the hall, the dog port began to open.  Hill stepped to the side, out of sight, before seeing what was coming through. 

She trembled, backing up to the wall next to the large window that was painted shut.  She could run for the door, but by the time she reached it, she’d be seen.  No way out.  Hide.  Where?  There was no place.  Behind the sheer curtain, maybe.  In the dark, she might not be seen if she was quiet and didn’t move. 

She pulled the curtain around her.  She could see through it, but it made the already dim room even dimmer.  The blowing fan was the only noise.  Nothing moved except the oscillating shadows of the fan blades beating the stale air through the room.  The green flash of the clock on the CD player caused an eerie, strobing light.

A dark shape slowly emerged from the hallway and moved into the room.  Large.  Huge.  Black.  
Sleep lightly tonight…

A madman has come to town seeking a diabolical revenge and large dogs begin attacking their masters for no apparent reason and with heinous results.

Animal Control Director Tony Parker must find out why and stop the murderous attacks. Meanwhile, Jezebel, a huge black Great Dane has killed her master and is loose, terrorizing the city and stalking Parker and his family. Parker and Sarah Hill, his beautiful and seductive young assistant, attempt to unravel the mystery and stop the terrible carnage while dealing with their own demons and lusty desires.

The attacks must be stopped. Jezebel must be found-and soon, you see--there is one other complication. Parker seems to have come down with an annoying little virus. No, it's not one of those irritating summer colds. It's certain death.

She's a murderess, huge and black as a hell-bound night.

Beware. Jezebel is on the loose!

Author bio:  Gordon A Kessler is a former US Marine parachutist, recon scout, and Super Squad team leader, with a bachelor's degree in creative writing. He is a Master Instructor for Johnson County Community College, National Academy of Railroad Sciences, and the BNSF Railway. He has taught novel writing for Butler County Community College, English Composition for Hutchinson Junior College and has previously indie-published the thriller novels Brainstorm and Dead Reckoning, and a book about the novel-writing craft, Novel Writing Made Simple.

He is a founder and current president of the Kansas Writers Association and tries to stay connected to writers and the writing industry by doing speaking engagements at writers conferences and for writers organizations, and does his own "The Storyteller" seminar in Wichita, Lincoln (Nebraska), Kansas City, and other Midwestern cities based on his Novel Writing Made Simple book.

His websites, and http://www.IndieWritersAlliance are landing pages for writers to help them in their writing endeavors. His author website is .

Other links:

Thursday, October 13, 2011

ExcerpTuesday: Marcia James

Marcia James Interview

1.                  How did you pick the genre you write in?

I love romance novels and their happy endings.  It's so much fun watching the hero and heroine falling in love and overcoming obstacles on their way to their happily ever after.  But I also enjoy reading mysteries, where good always triumphs.  So combining my two favorite fiction genres into my "Dr. Ally Skye, Sex Therapist" comic romantic mystery series has been a blast to write.

2.                  What drew you to the subject of Sex & the Single Therapist?

I have a sense of humor that's been described as "offbeat."  ;-)  And the premise of the series appealed to my slightly bent funny bone.  The idea of a female sex therapist/amateur sleuth offers lots of comic possibilities, especially if the homicide detective hero is a "meat-and-potatoes" guy sexually (read "prude"), who's not too keen on the heroine's profession.  Dr. Ally Skye's specialized knowledge, however, proves useful to the police when they're trying to solve sex-driven crimes.  I had a great time writing about these two very different characters who are drawn together by murder and an inconvenient -- put powerful -- attraction.

3.                  Did you encounter any obstacles in researching it?

The series is set in Las Vegas, which is known for its widely available legal and illegal sexual activities.  Dr. Ally Skye could solve a sex-related murder a day and probably not run out of different kinky crimes for years.  Researching sex in "Sin City" has been interesting, but it's also led me to some pretty disturbing websites.  I'd say the toughest part of the research is the crime scene and forensic procedures.  I don't go into graphic detail about the murders in my books, however.  The series is a comic one that is closer to cozy mysteries than to thrillers...IF cozy mysteries had lots of love scenes in them.  ;-)

4.                  What is the one thing your hero would do that you wouldn’t?

He would attend an autopsy.  I'm so squeamish about blood and such that I don 't even watch TV crime shows -- except for Castle because the gore is kept at a minimum and it stars Nathan Fillion.  Yum!

5.                  What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

I enjoy putting my characters into situations where they are "fish out of water."  In this series, Zack Crawford, the prudish detective hero, is uncomfortable being attracted to a woman he first mistook for a sex trade worker.  As their relationship progresses, he's worried she'll expect more than "vanilla sex."  When she jokingly offers to put an ice cube on his male G-spot, he tells her the only way he'd agree is if his G-spot was on his tongue and the ice was in a glass of Scotch.  He eventually discovers that lovemaking can be playful and even funny.  My heroine has a good time "loosening up" Zack a little.  ;-)

6.                  What was your favorite scene to write?

Zack and Ally's first love scene, although their first kiss scene runs a close second.  I LOVE writing love scenes.  The characters are so emotional and vulnerable that first time especially, and their physical love can often trigger a realization that their hearts are also involved.  Love scenes are a big payoff for romance readers, of which I am one.

7.                  What was the name of the first novel you wrote? Did you try to publish it?

The first novel I completed was a comic romantic mystery titled, Southern Exposure.  It won a contest and was requested in full by Harlequin for the now defunct Temptation line.  The editor held onto the manuscript for two years before rejecting it because they "had just published something too similar to it."  I'm turning that book into a single title.  My second manuscript was a comic romantic suspense titled, At Her Command.  It won six Romance Writers of America contests and ultimately found a home at Ellora's Cave.  At Her Command explores what could happen if the DEA, FBI, and Washington, DC police put operatives undercover at the same sex club -- without bothering to tell each other.  At Her Command is available in trade paperback and e-book, and Ellora's Cave has a great sale going on right now for the e-book (

8.                  Where do you write?

I have a home office where I do the majority of my work on my desktop computer.  The office is filled with too many files, books, and stuffed dogs (because all of my books feature 4-legged characters, particularly Chinese crested hairless dogs).  But the office is still a cozy "writer's cave."  If I go outside on a pretty day -- or when I'm on the road -- I work on my netbook.  And if I'm stuck in a doctor's office waiting room, I write long-hand in a print notebook.

9.                  If you have a day job, what is it?

I'm a freelance marketing consultant, though my fiction writing is my main profession these days.  I've always supported myself by writing -- as an advertising copywriter, a corporate video scriptwriter, a journalist, etc.  I also present author promotion online and in-person workshops.  I'm presenting two workshops at the 2012 RT Book Reviews' "Booklovers" convention.

10.              What do you do when you are not writing?

I'm brainstorming plots and "researching" love scenes with my husband and hero of many years.  ;-)


Author Bio:

Marcia James writes hot, humorous romances and finaled in eleven Romance Writers of America contests before selling her first romance, At Her Command.  Her short story, "Rescue Me", appears in Tails of Love, a Berkley anthology being reissued in December.  In her eclectic career, she has shot submarine training videos, organized celebrity-filled nonprofit events and had her wedding covered by People Magazine.  After years of dealing with such sexy topics as how to install traffic lights, Marcia is enjoying writing happily-ever-after novels.  She lives in Ohio with her wonderful husband and her virtual pet, Smokey, a Chinese crested hairless dog.

Sex & the Single Therapist Book Blurb:

A crime of passion…

            To clear a friend, sex therapist Ally Skye investigates a patient’s murder. Soon she's trading heated words and hot kisses with a sexy cop. Can this amateur sleuth solve the crime before the killer targets her?

A sexy complication…

            Cynical detective Zack Crawford has the murder to solve. He doesn't need a red-hot therapist haunting his dreams. Given Ally's job, she'd probably grade his performance in bed.

A dynamic duo…

            Zack and Ally form an uneasy alliance. Murderers, extortionists and psychos are no match for these reluctant partners. Crime-solving was never this sexy or this fun!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

ExcerpTuesday: Stephen Brayton

My mind wandered between thoughts of the handsome detective and noticing the stores and businesses I passed. The K-Mart had been turned into a Big K, but it never seemed to lose the appearance of twenty-five years ago. An empty building once a carpet outlet and

a convenience store. The exotic pet store. The small shack (also closed) that used to be a drive up dairy mart. A small strip mall with a pizza place, hair boutique, florist, and

accountant's office.

I imagined Cameron in a kitchen, white apron tied around his waist, a pot of steaming boiling water on the stove, and pasta at the ready. On the counter, fixings for a

homemade sauce: onions, peppers, mushrooms, meatballs. Beef maybe, purchased at the Coventry Meat Wholesalers there on my left. Coventry had been a Moline landmark

since before I was born.

I slammed on my brakes without thinking about the possibility of someone behind me.

What had I just seen? Damn it, Mallory! I berated myself. How could I have been so blind?

Coventry Meat Wholesalers! I'd passed the place three times in the morning. To and from Denny's with Grandma and a few minutes later on my way to meet Lawrence.

Going north toward the avenue I could possibly understand missing it. A stand of trees bordered the south side of the lot and you had to be almost at the driveway before you

saw the building. With me now facing south, not half a mile from Grandma's house, I saw most of the building, even with the sun down. When I drove Grandma to and

from breakfast, I must have been distracted by her asking, for the fourth time, where my parents lived.

I turned the car around in the driveway of a Gospel Assembly Church. I drove slowly north for my subconscious had also registered something else. There!

Tucked in the shadows, next to the building, barely illuminated by the streetlight was a white van.

Reversing direction again, I inched past the Coventry driveway. Yes, definitely Econoline and I could just distinguish a dark stripe framing the rear doors.

I'd found the place! It had to be. This couldn't be a coincidence. My heart raced and my blood coursed with adrenaline. With renewed hope my nerves tingled with

energy. In my soul, I knew I had found the destination of Cindy McGee after she'd suffered the vile photo session in Oskaloosa.