Saturday, December 22, 2012

A Christmas Story

The Meanest Cop in Town


V. B. Tenery

Most small southern towns have a ritual teenagers follow on Friday nights. A place they gather to see and be seen. In my small town, it was the parking lot of a small shopping center that included various retail stores and fast food restaurants, then down the street four blocks to Braums.

Excited kids old enough to drive filled cars with friends and made a continuous circle through the shopping center, down the street to Braums and back again at the pace of a slow moving turtle.

One police office usually stood by his black and white in the parking lot like a tall blond Viking reviewing ships as they passed, making sure no laws were broken.

In the Christmas Season of 1989, I was the divorced mother of a teenage daughter who had turned fifteen the previous February and couldn’t wait to get her driver’s license.

We lived on a twenty-acre track that included my mother and father. I’d given Holly driving lessons since she turned twelve, using the private road between her grandparents and our home. She was a responsible driver and often drove her go-cart or my car on our property to visit Nanna and Pops.

On the Friday night before Christmas that year, we were visiting my sister who lived in town, and my daughter pleaded for me to let her take my car and join the throng at the shopping center. Making the dumbest decision of my life, I agreed, reasoning that she was a good driver. Bad choice I know.

An hour later, my sister and I sat in her kitchen with a fresh pot of coffee when the telephone rang.
It was Holly. Hysterical. “Mom, I wrecked the car . . . come as quick as you can. Please hurry.”

“Are you or anyone else hurt?”

“N-no, Mom. I’m okay. Just please hurry.”

“I’m on my way. Where are you?”

“In front of Braums.”

My sister drove me to the accident scene, and as we pulled to the curb, my heart tripped like a Chihuahua on speed. Broken glass littered the street, glittering like jewels in the streetlights, the pavement wet from busted radiator fluid. Oil and anti-freeze fumes filled the cold night air.

My car sat in the left lane, its nose buried in the rear of a VW bug, whose front-end had melded into the back drivers-side of a black pickup truck.

I spotted Holly on the sidewalk with a group of friends. She ran to me as soon as I stepped from my sister’s SUV. “Mom, are you mad at me?”

I pulled her into my arms. “No, I’m not angry. Just thankful you weren’t hurt. Have you spoken to the police yet?”

Eyes wide, she shook her head.

“Tell me what happened.”

She inhaled a shaky breath. “The black truck pulled out in front of the Bug to make a left turn. The Bug hit the truck and I hit the Bug.” She bit her lip and tears rolled down her face. “That truck came out of nowhere. It just darted right in front of the Bug. I couldn’t stop.”

Her hand trembled as she nodded toward the cop interviewing bystanders. The big Viking I remembered. “Mom, that’s Officer King.” She groaned. “He’s the meanest cop in town. He’s going to put me in jail.”

“No, darling. You don’t have to worry about that.”

But without a doubt, we were in a heap of trouble, and it was my error. Not Holly’s. Mine alone. I shouldn’t have let her take the car until she was licensed to drive. Even though it wasn’t her fault he would ticket her for rear-ending the VW and it would go on her permanent driving record.

We waited on the sidelines and after a while, Officer King strode over to Holly. “I need to see your driver’s license.”

She turned wide frightened eyes on me.

I steeled myself for what would come next and stepped closer to her. “She doesn’t have one.”

“Driver’s permit?”

I nodded. “Yes, but there wasn’t a licensed adult in the car with her.”

“Did she have permission to take the car?”

I nodded again.

He looked at me like lady-are-you-trying-to-redefine-stupid

“Do you realize your insurance company won’t cover damages with an unlicensed teenage driver behind the wheel?”

“Yes, I know.”

He gave me that look again, then turned and walked away.

“Officer, are we free t go?”He hadn’t told us to wait, or even that he’d be back.
Hands on his hips, he turned back to me. “Leave before I jail you for stupidly.”

For a moment I just stood there, unable to believe he hadn’t given me a ticket.

He didn’t move, still glaring at me.

“Y-yes sir. Thank you. I’m gone.”

A few months later I was having breakfast at a local coffee shop when officer King walked in. He bought a large coffee to go. We made eye contact and he walked over. He pulled out a chair at my table and sat down.

He grinned. “Has Holly been out driving lately?”

Heat crept up my neck and onto my cheeks. “Well, yes. But she has her license now.”

“How’d it go with your insurance company?”

“They totaled the car. But thanks to you and your accident report, they paid off the balance on the note.” My throat tightened and tears stung the back of my eyes. I was about to seriously embarrass myself by getting overly emotional. My voice cracked. “I-I really can’t thank you enough for your leniency that night. Holly’s driving record would have been ruined and my insurance rates would have more than doubled. Not to mention I would have had to pay off the balance of the car note. It was truly the second most thoughtful Christmas gifts I’ve ever received.”

"What was the first?"

"The birth of Jesus," I said.

He rapped the tabletop with his knuckles, and stood to leave. “I can't top that one."

Friday, December 14, 2012

The Mystery Genre: Then and Now

The Mysterious Affair at Styles
Agatha Christie

I cut my teeth reading English author Agatha Christie novels, sneaking them into my room after hours from my father’s collection. She became the Grande Dame of the mystery genre in what is called, “The Golden Age of Detective Fiction,” which some claim ran from the 1920’s to 1941. However, the genre is still alive and well into the 21st Century. The success of Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch, Robert Crais’s Elvis Cole, and Lee Child’s Jack Reacher are only a few examples of the genre's  longevity.

Agatha Christie’s first novel, The Mysterious Affair at Styles was written in 1916, was first published by John Lane in the United States in 1920, and introduced her soon-to-be- famous detective, Hercule Poirot. The setting of this first novel is Styles Court during WWI, and would later be used as the setting for the final Poirot novel Curtain.

The story is told in first person by Poirot’s friend, Captain Hastings, and features many of the elements that have become icons of early detective fiction largely due to Agatha Christie’s influence. It is set in a large, isolated country manor. There are a half-dozen suspects, most of whom are hiding facts about themselves. The book includes a map of the house, the murder scene, a particial copy of a will, plus many red herrings and plot twists. Classic Christie.

According to the Guinness Book of World Records, Agatha Christie is the best-selling novelist of all time. Her Hercule Poirot and Miss Jane Marple novels have sold roughly four billion copies. Her estate claims that her works rank third, after those of William Shakespeare and the Bible, as the world's most widely published books, and her books have been translated into at least 103 languages. And Then There Were None is Christie's best-selling novel with 100 million sales to date, making it the world's best-selling mystery ever, and one of the best-selling books of all time. In 1971, she was made a Dame by Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace.

Noteably one of the most versatile authors ever, her stage play The Mousetrap holds the record for the longest initial run: it opened at the Ambassadors Theatre in London on November 25, 1952 and as of 2012 is still running after more than 25,000 performances.[In 1955, Christie was the first recipient of the Mystery Writers of America's highest honour, the Grand Master Award, and in the same year Witness for the Prosecution was given an Edgar Award by the MWA for Best Play. Many of her books and short stories have been filmed, and many have been adapted for television, radio, video games and comics.

September 15, 1890 to January 12, 1976

Dame Agatha Christis

Friday, December 7, 2012

The Mystery Genre, Then and Now

A Study in Scarlet
Arthur Conan Doyle

This week the focus is on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of the cerebral detective, Sherlock Holmes. Readers first discovered this fascinating character on the printed page in A Study in Scarlet in 1886, published in Beeton’s Christmas Annual. The love affair between readers and Holmes has continued for more than a century in books, movies, and television.

Holmes, calling himself a “consulting detective” is the second such character to appear in the mystery novel genre. With his erstwhile partner, Dr. Watson and his super powers of observation, Holmes has sleuthed his way through 4 novels and 56 short stories.

In 1890, Sir Arthur decided to “slay” Holmes in the short story, The Final Problem in order to devote more time to writing his historical novels. The public outcry was so great he resurrected Holmes in his next to the last novel The Hounds of the Baskervilles.

An interesting fact emerged while researching this prolific author. Sir Arthur was a practicing physician. It was the unsuccessful start-up of a new practice that drove him to writing to supplement his income. Imagine if patients had flocked to his door, we might never have become acquainted with Sherlock Holmes. Today, numerous physicians have taken to writing mystery novels, including CBA’s own Dr. Harry Kraus and Dr. Richard Mabry. However, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was the first to put pen to paper and lead us a merry chase through a crime scene.

Although Sir Arthur wrote science fiction, historical, and non-fiction he is world renown for writing detective novels. But he felt that it was a political pamphlet The War in South Africa: Its Cause and Conduct, which resulted in his being knighted in 1902.

(May 1859 to July 1930)
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Sherlock Holmes novels are still in print today. A Study in Scarlet, The Sign of the Four, The Hounds of the Baskervilles, and The Valley of Fear. The 56 short stories are also avail in anthology collections on most bookstore websites.

Next week the mystery genre moves into the twentieth century.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Mystry Genre: Then and Now

Origin of the Mystery Genre

Have you ever wonder who wrote the first mystery novel? I have, and went on a quest to find the culprit who caused me to lose so much writing time. Alas, one cannot read and write at the same time.

Most scholars agree the first detective/mystery was the short story The Murders in the Rue Morgue, by Edgar Allan Poe published in Graham’s Magazine, 1841.

C. Auguste Dupin, the “detective” in this macabre tale is never referred to as a detective. He is merely a citizen who offers his help to the prefect de police. At the risk of censure, I will break a long-standing taboo of mystery reader that you NEVER, NEVER, NEVER reveal who-dun-it, because it robs the reader of the pleasure of solving the crime. I do so only because the killer is humorous by today’s standards. Anyone who can Goggle can find the answer and most reader have seen the movie. The murderer is . . . (drum roll please) . . . an orangutan banishing a straight edge razor, who kills the female victim trying to shave her face. He then strangles the daughter and stuffs her in a chimney. We can only assume the girl didn’t need a shave.

See what I mean about funny?

Even with the comic aspects, Dupin, the first true detective in fiction, became the model for many mystery characters such as Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot. Poe referred to the method Dupin used to solve the crime as “ratiocination.” Dupin states: "the extent of information obtained (at the crime scene) lies not so much in the validity of the inference as in the quality of the observation." Or, as Hercule Poirot would say, “Use the little grey cells.”

Despite the fact that my love of mysteries and those who write them keeps me away from the keyboard, I offer my sincere thanks to Mr. Poe and his orangutan.

The Mystery Writers of America’s coveted Edgar Award was named after this great American writer and poet.

Edgar Allen Poe (1809-1849)

Nest Week: The second my noveliest. 


Friday, November 23, 2012

New Release

Murder in Marietta


Deborah Malone

Trixie Montgomery’s back on the beat, facing her own spectral fears covering ghost sightings at the Marietta History Museum. With sidekick and best friend, Dee Dee, in tow, the women brave a sleepover inside the haunted museum to discover what lurks behind closed doors. When their worst fears occur and a dead body is discovered right under their noses, Trixie’s reputation both as a journalist and crime solver, are once again put to the test.

First introduced in the acclaimed, Death in Dahlonega, Georgia Author of the Year nominee Deborah Malone presents another delightful Trixie Montgomery Cozy Mystery.

Join Trixie and Dee Dee while they explore the charming streets, and tantalizing restaurants, along with the colorful—and sometimes spooky—characters, and find out who materializes as the culprit in Murder in Marietta.


“I adore Trixie and Dee Dee’s friendship, and feel like I’m along for the ride to find out how who-done-it. Add in Malone’s delightful details that make you feel as if you’re exploring Marietta’s streets and history, and you have the perfect blend of cozy mystery and armchair travel.” Beverly Nault author

Friday, November 16, 2012

New Release

Dead Wrong


Susan Sleeman


When her client and old college friend is murdered, P.I. Kat Justice knows the killer will come for her next. Her survival depends on finding her unknown enemy first…and working with homicide detective Mitch Elliot, her onetime crush.

It’ll take all her professional skills to ignore the sparks between them, but Kat can’t allow the handsome cop to get close. She’s seen too many people she loves die, so she vows just to do her job without getting emotionally involved. Yet keeping her distance may not be the best way to protect her heart—or their lives.


Friday, October 12, 2012

Adino-A Short Story



V. B. Tenery

(Published in Light at the Edge of Darkness anthology, The Writers Cafe, June 2007)

ADINO LEANED BACK BETWEEN his captors and expelled a deep breath. Even brave men aren’t immune to fear. Only a fool wouldn’t be afraid in his predicament.

The spacecraft slowed and hovered over the landing pad outside the Universal Court complex. The shuttle eased into the bay and docked at the harbor. Angry faces glared through the porthole. Nothing less than Adino expected.

The airlock doors slid open with a hiss. Shouts from the crowd pounded his ears.

“Adino, you bigot!”

“You’re not above the law!”

“ . . . killed Stycus, one of his own, he did!”

A white-suited Peace Enforcer transferred his shackles from the ship’s wall to the pair of guards at his side. The bonds consisted of two thin gold wires connected to handcuffs at his wrists. He could snap them apart with one hard jerk, but the implosion would blow him into the next millennium. Not his guards, not even his skivvies, just him.

Friends and foe lined the corridor as the guards led him to the cell designed for Peace Force criminals. Fierce murmurs lashed out as he passed. Barnabus stood at the end of the passage, his face grim. His gaze met Adino’s and then he looked away. He would be the prosecutions first witness.

His cell was a wide circular cubicle with no walls. A force field surrounded a bed, table, and two chairs. Inside the field’s edge, a metal enclosure contained the bathroom. The only place he could escape the camera’s prying eyes. The wall’s metallic surface reflected a virtual screen and keypad that allowed him to order meals.

A woman wearing the uniform of a Universal Court Attorney occupied one of the chairs. Without the severe spiked hairstyle, she might have been beautiful, with her doe eyes and perfect mouth.

She stood and waited as the guards removed his shackles. “I’m Dorcus.” She offered her hand. “I’ll be representing you at trial.”

He enclosed her smaller hand with his own. “Do you have a first name?”

Her brows creased into a straight line. “Dorcus is my first name. The court only uses identification numbers and our acquaintance will be too short to bother with last names.”

“I’m sorry.”

The frost in her eyes made his ears tingle. “Are you making fun of my name? My grandmother selected it. With a name like Adino, you shouldn’t smirk.”

“I wasn’t being rude. I meant I’m sorry we won’t have time to become friends. Dorcus is a Christian name. The Apostle Paul called her a disciple. However, having a Christian name could be a roadblock in your career path.”

She lifted one shoulder. “I’m not worried.” With a remote pen from her bag, she summoned a screen from the ceiling. With the remote she keyed in the date, June 12, 2519, his name, and ID number. The screen blinked twice before revealing the charges against him. “Your trial begins day after tomorrow, June 14th.”

“They take the right to a speedy trail seriously, don’t they?”

She nodded. “As well as speedy punishment. The trial won’t last more than two days. The nine court justices will adjudicate your case. I had to forgo a jury trial. I couldn’t fine thirteen unbiased jurors.”

Dorcus took the seat across from him. “I have to be honest with you. I don’t see how you can beat this. I’ve seen the video. Clement will be counsel for the prosecution. He’s mean and he has a personal vendetta against the Peach Force Warriors. Something to do with the arrest of his brother. But there’s one bit of good news. I’ve always found Chief Justice Jarvick to be fair.”

Adino closed his eyes and shook his head. “And you think I’ll get a fair trial? I’m charged with a hate crime—killing Stycus because of his religion. Need I point out there isn’t a Christian amount the nine justices?”

Dorcus’ gaze locked on his. “They may not be Christian, but they’re usually fair.” She held up a small silver disk. “Do you know what this is?”

He shook his head.

She pressed her thumb in an indention in the center of the case. Virtual images of Adino, Barnabus, and Stycus swirled around the force field wall. “This unit can also be voice activated. The court’s only evidence against you lies in this. Review it carefully. I’ll be back tomorrow to hear your side. You should consider a guilty plea. The court might decline the death penalty.”

He glared at her. “Thanks for the ray of sunshine. Why didn’t the court just send the Death Squad to meet me at the dock and saved the expense of a trial.”

A pink flush rose from her neck to her face. “I don’t believe in holding out false hope to clients.”

“Congratulations. You can go home with the assurance you succeeded.”

Anger flashed in her eyes and she hurried to the security exit to await the signal she could leave.

Adino’s anger ebbed and a pang of conscious came over him. “Wait a minute. I’m sorry. I’m taking my frustration out on you.” He ran his fingers through his hair and sat down on the bunk. “I need a favor. Would you bring me a Bible? They confiscated mine when I was arrested.”

She turned to him, the tension around her mouth relaxed, softening her features. “You know that will count against you. I have to register it in your name.”

“Nevertheless, I’d still appreciate it if you would bring one when you come tomorrow.”

She nodded. The aperture flashed, and she disappeared through the opening.

Adino set the disk aside. He messaged his temples with the tips of his fingers. He’d called his father after his arrest, but he was on Oman, a galaxy away. He wouldn’t arrive until after the trial.

Adino rose and knelt beside the bunk, recalling a memory verse he’d learned as a child. And when they bring you into the synagogues and magistrates, and powers, take no thought how or what thing ye answer, or what ye shall say. For the Holy Ghost shall teach you in that same hour what ye ought to say.

The one truth in this crazy universe Adino knew for certain—God kept his promise.

He rose at peace within, warmth settled over him like a heated shelter in the Frozen Zone. He grabbed the disk and watched the images until he fell asleep.

Dorcus appeared the next morning with the Bible as requested. She laid it on the table and surveyed his breakfast tray. “They gave you steak and lobster?”

Adino grinned and nodded. “Dinner and breakfast so far. Last night I ordered a hamburger, for breakfast I ordered sausage and eggs.” He waved a hand at the tray. “That’s what I received both time.”

“How nice for you.”

He leaned back in the chair and placed his hands behind his head. “Yeah, it looks like someone crossed the prisoners menus with those of the justices.” He chucked. “Somewhere last night, a judge got a hamburger that belonged to me.”

He watched her struggle to keep the smile in her eyes from reaching her mouth.

She lost the battle. “You didn’t have anything to do with the switch did you? I’ve heard you’re something of a technology wizard.”

Adino placed his hand over his heart. “Do I look like the kind of guy who’s corrupt the food supply of the Universal Prison system for personal gain?” He would have done so, but his cell unit was a dumb terminal.

She cast him a skeptical glance and dropped into a chair. “Let’s get down to business. Did you watch the data I gave you last night?”

That sobered his mood. “Yes and the view from my helmet weren’t included—the one that supports my version of what happened.”

She lifted one eyebrow. “The guards told me you destroyed your helmet recording.”

“Why would I get rid of it? Besides I didn’t have time. The guards surrounded me and grabbed by helmet within seconds.”

“What did your headset reveal that was different?”

He ran his hand through his short-cropped hair. “Stycus shouted at me. ‘I’ll kill you,’ and reached for his weapon. That’s when I fired.” My helmet had sound. Are you aware I tried to arrest him because he worked for the drug traders in the Draco galaxy?”

“No one argues that Stycuc wasn’t a criminal. They’re charging you with murder because his gun was still in his holster. That and the Prosecutor has labeled it a hate crime. They say you killed him because of his religion.”

He threw up his hand. “I didn’t even know he had a religion.”

Dorcus lowered her gaze. “He worshipped Baal. You spoken out publicly against Baalism.”

Adino clenched his jaw; the heat of anger overwhelmed his judgment. “If I’d known that, I might have killed him in cold blood. Do you know what those people do, Dorcus? They burn their children alive in sacrifice to that—that . . . stone statue. It a practice straight from the bowels of hell.”

Her face paled and she whispered. “Watch what you say. They record our conversations. I’m not always happy with the Universal Government, and I don’t like Baalism any more than you do, but it’s protected under the law.”

He stood, breathing hard, his hands balled into fists. “That includes every pagan belief under the sun except Christianity.”

“I’m an officer of the court, Adino. I didn’t pass these laws. Whether you like it or not, without me, maybe even with me, you’ll face the Death Squad before the weekend. For now, we have to come up with a defense strategy. Any ideas?”

“Just one. Call Victor Seacote as a witness. He’s a retired Peace Force General.”

“Did he see you kill Stycus?”


“The why should I call him?”

Adino lifted his shoulders and dropped them like weights. “Just trust me on this. It came to me last night. When that happens, I don’t ask questions.”

Dorcus crossed her arms. “Well I do. That’s my job. I can’t put a witness on the stand unless I know what he’ll say. Your life and my reputation are both at stake here.”

“Just do it, Dorcus. That’s all I ask. Talk to Victor before the trial.” He eased a heavy breath from his lungs. “What is the truth chamber? I heard about it, but never seen it in action?”

It’s a technological break-through in the judicial system. It can tell when someone is lying. It flashes red when a lie is told.”

“Then why can’t I testify in my own behalf?”

She shook her head. “I’ve already tried. The government thinks you people have found a way to cheat.”

Adino caught a glimpse of his profile in the table’s mirrored surface. A face gray with fatigue gazed back at him. “Yeah, we tell the truth. Imagine that. Something they will neither hear nor accept.”

She lifted her hand. “Regardless, we have to play by their rules. By the way, your name also has a biblical origin. I researched it last night.”

She seemed pleased with her newfound knowledge. “Adino was the mightiest warrior in David’s army when he ran from King Saul. Adino killed eight-hundred men with a spear in a single day.”

He gave her a pleased smile. “My father gave me the name. He’s a retired Peace Force Pilot. We make a good pair. A disciple and a warrior.”

Wrinkles formed between her eyes. “I’m no disciple.”

“Not yet.” The woman wasn’t completely hopeless. She had checked out his name in the Bible.

Boredom weighed heavy after Dorcus left. He paced the cell then read his Bible for a while. At last he resorted to pushups until exhausted, he fell asleep.

A familiar almost imperceptible hum reached through his sleep-fogged brain. The hair prickled on the back of his neck and jerked him awake. A sound he knew well. He had sent hundreds of the death droids into battle.

How . . . who? I’m safe. A detonation won’t penetrate the force field.

His gaze followed the tiny saucer-shaped X-720 as it hovered inches off the floor then moved inside the perimeter of his cell.

Someone had lowered the force field.

In an instant, Adino rolled off the steel cot, flipped the bed on its end, and threw the metal structure between him and the X-720 just as the droid fired. He reacted one second too late. The ray blasted a large chuck of flesh from his left shoulder. Hot knives seared his arm as sparks and blood showered down like rain drops and the air reeked of burned flesh.

Mind in hyperdrive, Adino plumbed his memory for a lecture the droid designer had given at the Academy. He should have paid more attention.

The droid had one flaw if memory served him. Unlike the death ray in the hand weapon, he could deflect the X-720’s beam and it had a ten-second lapse between flashes. Adino used the bunk for cover and lunged into the bathroom. Inside, he ignored the painful throb that ran from his shoulder to his arm and ripped the metal mirror from the wall. Meanwhile, the X-720 concentrated its power to cut through the metal barrier.

Adino hefted the heavy mirror, the surface wet from the blood on his hand, and waited for the next blast.

With the mirror in place, he stepped in front of the droid. The reflector slipped, and the blast singed the hair off his right temple.

He stumbled back to safety, wiped the blood off his hand, and counted to ten. This time, the ploy worked. The mirror held steady. The ray flew back at the tiny saucer and turned it into instant soup.

Guards swarmed into the cell block, weapon drawn.

Adino dropped the mirror and leaned against the wall. “Great timing, guys. I could have used you two minutes ago.”

In sick bay, he had time to consider who might have activated the droid. He had too many enemies to even make a guess. Someone hadn’t wanted to wait for the trial verdict, and whoever sent the droid had connections. The X-720 wasn’t available on the black market, and just anyone couldn’t waltz into the prison and lower the force field.

Had to be an inside job.

When he returned to his cell, someone had cleaned up the mess and reinstated the force field.

Adino lay back on his bunk and open the Bible that had somehow remained intact through the battle. He read for a while then knelt beside his band new bunk.


Guards hustled Adino into court at 9:00 the next morning. Dorcus sat at the defense table. Her smile vanished when she saw his bandages. “What happened?”

He gave her a wry smile. “You should see the other guy.”

Her brow furrowed. “Don’t be cute, Adino. Tell me what happened.”

He leaned in close. “Someone set a death droid on me.”

She took a deep breath, let it out, and stared at his bandages again. “Are you sure you’re able to stand trial? I can get a postponement.”

Adino shook his head. “No delay. I want it over with today, one way or the other. I won’t give them another shot at me tonight.”

Dorcus shuffled the papers on the desk into a neat pile. “Your premonition about Victor Seacote may help us. We at least have a chance with him in our corner. Although—he’s reluctant to publicly support your Christian philosophy.”

Adino and Dorcuz stood with everyone else when the nine justices entered, majestic in their black robes.

The chamber clerk called the court to order. Chief Justice Jarvick glanced from Clement to Dorcus. “Are you ready to proceed with the trail?”

They both answered in the affirmative.

Clement stepped forward. “Our first witness, Your Honors, is Barnabus,” Clement entered his ID number into the record.

Barnabus stepped into the chamber. A laser scanned his badge and a mechanical voice announce. “ID confirmed.”

Clement introduced a virtual disk into evidence. “Your Honors, this contains data taken at the crime scene by cameras in the area.”

Life-size images sprang up before the bench. Clement stood to the right of the chamber as the characters ran though the same grotesque movements Adino had seen his first night.

Clement stopped the disk. “Tell the court what you saw.”

Barnabus cleared his throat. “I wasn’t in the area, but I heard Stycus yell something, but it wasn’t clear. As you can see, I rushed in just as Adino fired the fatal shot.”

“Had Stycus drawn his weapon?”

Barnabus shot Adino a pained glance. “No, the weapon was still in his holster.”

“Then Adino didn’t shot Stycus in self-defense as he claims. He didn’t even try to arrest him.”

Dorcus jumped to her feet. “Objection, Your Honor. Defense is leading the witness.”

Justice Jarvick turned to Barnabus. “Objection overruled. You may answer the question.”

Barnabus’ spine straightened. “I can only tell you what I saw. I won’t speculate on what Adino’s intentions were.”

Clement moved on. “Had you ever hear Adino speak against Baalism?”

“Yes, off duty. He explained what Baal worship was and what it did to families—ever chance he got.”

“Did you know Stycus was a Baal worshiper?”

Barnabus shook his head. “No. He never mentioned it to me.”

“No further questions, Your Honors.” Clement returned to the defense table. “Your witness, Dorcus.”

“I have no questions for this witness, Your Honors,” Dorcus said.

“Prosecution rests, Your Honors.”

Dorcus rose from her seat. “Defense calls General Victor Seacote.”

Adino’s gaze followed his old friend as he made a grand entrance. Tall and straight, his spotless uniform adorned with medals, Victor entered the chamber. The laser flashed and confirmed his identity.

Adino recalled many evenings spent with the General and several other recruits. The General’s home was a hang-out whenever the troops came in from the field.

Dorcus moved to the lectern in front of the chamber. “General, you are acquainted with Adino, are you not?”

Seacote nodded. “Yes, Adino served as my lieutenant until I retired last year. He proved his courage in many battles, especially in the Gorgaii Wars.”

“Have you ever heard Adino speak against Baalism?”

Seacote shifted in his chair, discomfort lined his face. “Many times. I’ve joined him on occasion. You don’t have to be Christian to know that Baalism is evil.”

“Objection,” Clement shouted.

Justice Jarvick face was impassive. “Overruled.”

Dorcus pressed on. “General, when you heard what happen to Stycus, what was your first impression?”

Seacote glanced over at Adino. “I knew immediately, what had happened.”

Clement rose and with an elaborate sigh. “Objection. Please, Your Honor. He couldn’t know what occurred. He wasn’t there.”

“I’ll allow it, Counselor. Proceed, General.”

Dorcus turned to Seacote. “How did you know?”

“I knew both men well, they served under my command. And I knew Adino’s skill with that particular weapon.”

Dorcus make eye contact with each of the nine justices. “With your permission, I would like to ask the General to perform a demonstration before the court.”

The justices nodded in unison.

Clement rose as if to make an objection. Justice Jarvick scowled at him and he sat back down.

General Seacote stepped from the chamber and another Peace Force Warrior entered the area. The General introduced the man as Thaddeus.

Both men walked to the defense table and removed weapons from a box. Thaddeus took fifteen paces in front of the General and turned.

General Seacote held up the weapons before the bench. “This is a mock up of the murder weapon we use in training. It’s harmless, but it’s the same size and weight as the real thing. When I fire at the badge on the warrior’s chest, it will emit a loud ringing sound, like this.” He fired and the bell shattered the heavy silence.

Adino smiled. He realized what the General was doing. He personified the answer to s prayer.

Seacote addressed the court. “We will recreate what I believe happened at the crime scene.”

Both men placed a weapon in their holster.

Thaddeus yelled. “I’ll kill you,” and he grabbed for his ray gun. Before his hand reached the butt of the weapon, the bell on his chest rang. The old man had drawn the gun so fast, Adino didn’t see his movement.

Clement thundered to his feet. “So-he can draw his weapon fast. This is a waste of the court’s time. It proves nothing. He’s not Adino.”

“Objection overruled. Dorcas, I’m giving you some leeway here to make your point.”

“Thank you, Your Honor.”

The General returned to the truth chamber and Dorcas resumed her position. “General, how fast can Adino draw his death-laser?”

“He averages 31.6 milliseconds faster than me. That can be verified by records at the Peace Force Academy.”

“And how fast could Stycus draw?”

General Seacote grinned. “He averaged 16.7 milliseconds slower than Thaddeus, the soldier I used in this demonstration. This can also be confirmed by academy records.”

Clement was on his feet again. “Justice Jarvick, I object.”

The Chief Justice raised an eyebrow. “Overruled. General Seacote has served the space community with courage and honor and he sits in the truth chamber. Take you seat, Clement.”

Dorcas wended her way back to the defense table. “I have no further questions. Your witness, Counselor.”

Clement rose and moved toward Seacote. “General, are you a Christian?”

Seacote’s face hardened. “You know I’m not.”

“Just answer the questions. You’re very fond of Adino, aren’t you?”

General Seacote nodded. “Yes. He’s one of the bravest warriors I’ve ever been privileged to have at my side in battle.”

“Just answer the questions, General. Would you lie to save your friend?”

“I might, but you’re forgetting, Clement that I sit in the truth chamber.

Clement raised his hands and splayed his fingers. “No further questions.”

At closing arguments, Clement took thirty minutes. Dorcus took twenty minutes for her summation. She re-ran the video from the crime scene, and the one made during General Seacote’s demonstration. The court retired for deliberation.

Two hours later, the chamber clerk summoned everyone back into the courtroom.

Adino’s heart dropped into his stomach. The somber faces as the justice’s took their seats seemed to auger a guilty verdict.

Justice Jarcick called the court to order. “We have reached a verdict. Defense counsel has asked each judge to verify his decision by a voice vote. When the voting ended, it was three guilty, three not guilty. The vote had tied.

Adino swallowed hard. His life rested in Jarvick’s hands.

Jarvick gazed down at Adino. When he spoke, his voice was heavy, almost as if against his will. “I vote guilty. The death sentence will be carried out immediately.”

The spectators erupted in applause with only a few angry shots against the decision.

Shaken, Adino turned to Dorcas to confirm what he’d heard.

She nodded, her face distorted with disgust. She placed her hand on his arm and her eyes welled with tears. “I’m sorry, Adino—.

He placed a finger on her lips. “Don’t. You did your best. The outcome of this trial rested in the hands of a higher power that this court.”

Shouts and pounding outside the courtroom made Adino turn.

General Seacote, flanked by Barnabus and Thaddeus burst through a side entrance, weapons drawn. The General shoved two guards aside, took their guns, and stood behind Adino.

The General glared at the bench. “That death sentence won’t be carried out today, Jarvick. I heard about the death droid someone sent into Adino’s cell last night, and Clement just happened to be in the area. This trial was a charade from the start.”

He handed Adino a weapon. “Come Lieutenant, we’re taking you out of here.”

As the four men backed out, Adino glimpsed Dorcas’s face. Her gazed search his, then flew to the black robed men behind the bench. She stood rooted for a moment, her posture uncertain. Suddenly, she ran toward him. “Wait. I’m coming with you.”

He grabbed her hand and pulled her into the corridor, and fired the ray gun at the door’s lock. Heat from the blast fused the metals together, blocking egress. “General, I hope you have a plan. That door won’t hold them back for long.”

With the General in the lead the tiny band headed for the stairs that led to the roof, sealing the doors behind them at each level.

“Of course I have a plan,” General Seacote yelled over his shoulder. “But its success depends on your father’s skill as a pilot. He’s bringing the Pelonis to the roof. Your father arrived an hour ago.”

As they burst onto the roof top, Adino stared at the General. “You can’t hover a fighter ship.”

“I can’t, but your dad said he could hold it stationary long enough for us to board. If he can’t—we have a problem.”

Dorcas turned to Adino, her face pale.

He gave her hand a squeeze of reassurance and mentally crossed his fingers. “Don’t worry. Dad’s the best pilot the Force ever had, and he always does what he says he will do.”

Out of the corner of his eye, Adino saw the Pelonis approach the building. The ship made one pass and returned to stand almost motionless three feet from the roof’s surface. The side of the ship opened and Barnabus handed Dorcas through, then he and Thaddeus climbed aboard.

Barnabus reached for the General’s hand as the ship lifted off. The force of the take-off knocked General Seacote to the ground. Barnabus slammed hand back inside the aircraft bouncing against the far wall. The door closed and the Pelonis soared away.

Tight-lipped, the General held up his hand to indicate someone was speaking into his helmet.

After a moment, he turned to Adino. “Your father couldn’t hold the ship steady any longer. He’s coming back for us.”

Loud noises and blasts from the stairwell meant the door wouldn’t hold much longer, and a bright flash whizzed past Adino’s ear. A Universal fighter headed toward the rooftop, guns sending cement chips and rocks into the air around them. He and General Seacote took shelter behind a metal shaft. Seconds later, the Pelonis came into view and fired at the fighter ship, getting a direct hit. The fighter fell from the sky, but there would be more, and soon. The Pelonis settled into quasi-hover mode and the ship’s door banged open. Barnabus yelled, “Come on. Hurry.”

The General rushed from cover with Adino on his heels. Thaddeus pulled the General to safety inside and reached for Adino’s hand. At that moment, the roof door collapsed and Warriors spilled through the opening, weapons on full blast. Heat from the gunfire scorched the air around Adino. His fingers started to slip from Thaddeus’s grip, his legs still dragging the roof’s foundation. He sent up a silent plea. Lord, don’t let them leave me behind.

With all the strength he could command, he put both feet on the roof and shoved upward. Beads of sweat popped onto his brow and he hung in mid-air, Half in, half out of the ship. By some miracle, both arms and one leg landed inside. Barnabus grabbed Adino under the arms and pulled him aboard.

The General yelled at Adino’s dad. “Get us out of here, Frank.”

Breathless and shaken, Adino rolled to a sitting position, shook his head and grinned at the General. “So this was your plan, huh?”

Seacote gave his a slow smile, and shrugged. “It worked, didn’t it?”

Adino nodded. “Yeah, it did. But you left my heart and posterior back there on the roof.”

Nervous laughter filled the cabin as the Pelonis sailed out of reach of the ground fire, lifting into the atmosphere.

Adino strapped himself into a seat beside a shaken Dorcas. “Are you sure you know what you’re getting yourself into?”

She shook her head and heaved a deep breath. “No, but when I heard the verdict, I remembered something my grandmother use to say. ‘I’d rather be a servant in Heaven than reign in Hell.’ I could no longer represent clients in the Universal Court’s so-called justice system.”

Adino leaned close and whispered. “Look on the bright side. If they catch us, you may get my old cell with steak and lobster.”

She laughed. “That makes me feel so much better.”

He chuckled and yelled. “Where are we going, Dad?”

His father waved at him from the cockpit. “Wherever God leads us, son.”

Friday, August 31, 2012

New Release



         Lillian Duncan

Being innocent and proving it are two different things, especially when a powerful politician is involved. Tessa’s life spiraled out of control and she finds herself in a dark alley on a cold wintry night. After she witnesses a murder, she almost becomes his second victim, but manages to escape—just barely. Homeless and alone, she knows the authorities won’t believe someone like her, leaving her only one option—to run.


LILLIAN DUNCAN writes stories of faith mingled with murder & mayhem. She writes the type of books she loves to read—suspense with a touch of romance. Whether as an educator, a writer, or a speech pathologist, she believes in the power of words to transform lives, especially God’s Word.To learn more about Lillian and her books, visit: She also has a devotional blog at:

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Mystery Ladies of Summer-Featuring Fabulous Female Mystery Novelist-in July and August

Cooking the Books
       Bonnie S. Calhoun

After her mother dies from a heart attack, Sloane Templeton goes from Cyber Crimes Unit to bookstore owner before she can blink. She also "inherits" a half-batty store manager; a strange bunch of little old people from the neighborhood who meet at the store once a week, but never read books, called the Granny Oakleys Book Club; and Aunt Verline, who fancies herself an Iron Chef when in reality you need a cast iron stomach to partake of her culinary disasters. And with a group like this you should never ask, “What else can         wrong?”

A lot! Sloane begins to receive cyber threats. While Sloane uses her computer forensic skills to uncover the source of the threats, it is discovered someone is out to kill her. Can her life get more crazy?

Author Bio:
Bonnie S. Calhoun is Owner/Director of Christian Fiction Blog Alliance helping to promote Christian fiction with blog tours. She is owner/publisher of Christian Fiction Online Magazine, devoted to readers and writers of Christian fiction. As Northeast Zone Director of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), she was named 2011 Mentor of the Year. She is President of (CAN) Christian Authors Network, and also Appointment Coordinator for both the Colorado Christian Writers Conference and the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference.

In her spare time she is an avid social media junkie and teaches Facebook, Twitter, Blogging and HTML. Bonnie and her husband live in a log cabin on 15 acres in the upstate area of Binghamton, New York with a dog and cat who consider the humans as wait-staff.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Mystery Ladies of Summer-Featuring Fabulous Female Mystery Novelists in July and August

Perilous Shadows 

          Nike Chillemi

Pioneer newspaperwoman Kiera Devane is on a mission to prove a woman can do a man's job, as she hunts a young coed's killer? Ace radio broadcaster Argus Nye lost one love to a murderous fiend and his pulse races as he tries to protect Kiera from herself as much as from this killer.

Kiera was doted upon by loving parent, but they were killed when she was a girl and she was shipped off to live with a socialite aunt who had little time for her. In her aunt's house, she learned life could be cold and cruel. As a result, she grew up to be an independent and demanding professional woman.

Argus Nye, still bereft from the loss of his first love, can't understand why this female reporter is mesmerizing him. As she takes chances with her life trying to catch a killer, he's determined to protect her.

Interview with Nike:

1. You've led an American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) small critique group for a number of years. What have you learned from that experience?
I believe the way ACFW has set up their critique groups is genius. It's perhaps one of the best, if not the best large critique groups anywhere. I can't say enough about critique groups. In fact, I routinely urge authors to join a writers group of some kind where they can get feedback. This is especially true of newbie writers. Get into a group, submit your work. Get some other eyes on it. I've led an ACFW group for several years and it's one of the most rewarding things I've done. It's wonderful to see writers grow. It's fantastic when they query an agent about a work they've submitted to the group and the agent asks for a partial or the whole manuscript. I'm firmly committed to the critique group process. As a group leader, I try to encourage those in my group to find their voice and never let it go. Of course it goes without saying; no writer can take every suggestion made by the group. Nor should they. But if several members of the group make the same comment, it's something that ought to be looked at. It probably is a weakness in the work. I'm blessed with strong, serious writers in my group, and Virginia, you're one of them.

2. You're also active in several other groups. Edgy Christian Fiction Lovers is one. You've also been supportive of American Christian Fiction Authors, a new group begun by Shawna Williams. Tell us about that.

Well I think you can never have too many writers groups. The industry is huge. Groups spring up to address needs. Michelle Sutton began ECFL a few years back to encourage Christian writers who were penning what was then considered to be racy scenes. Now mind, these scenes were pale by general market standards and always involved a married couple. Still they rocked the Christian publishing world and writers who were creating these works needed a place to convene, set standards for themselves, etc. The big controversy now in Christian publishing is the use of "bad words." I believe ACFW recently gave a writing class on that subject. Shawna Williams set up American Christian Fiction Authors (ACFA) as a place for Christian authors who were square pegs trying to fit into a round CBA whole. They might be writing steamy novels, or Christian horror, etc. Right now the big controversy in Christian writing is the use of "bad language." I feel that I can use any word (or a modern variation) in my novels that's in the Bible. That's my standard.

Excerpt:  From Chapter 3

Argus walked Kiera out of the diner and took her elbow as her heels tapped down the cement steps. Her suit was austere, yet somehow she made it sizzle. He shifted his eyes away so as not to be caught staring, but not before taking a second look. "I'll walk you to your car."

"No, that's quite all right. I've been taking care of myself for a long time."

"Still, lass, I don't feel quite right."

"This is the Tastee Diner parking lot. It's well lit. What could happen?"

Argus rubbed his chin. "Oh all right, if you insist. I'll say good night here." He’d tried to be the gentleman, but she was skittish as a young filly.

"Trust me. I'm a big girl. I can take care of myself."

Fighting against an uneasy feeling in his gut, Argus walked to his car on the other side of the lot. Since Ada's death, he'd become overprotective toward women. Fishing in his pocket for his keys, he heard raised voices. One of them, Kiera's.

"Leave me alone. You cheated on me."

Argus dashed for Kiera's car, thinking he recognized the male voice, yet he couldn't quite place it.

"Give me another chance. You misunderstood. It meant nothing." Paul Gregorski, sportscaster at the station, had a hold of Kiera's arm.

A jolt like an electrical charge shot through Argus. "Let go of her if you know what's good for you."

Paul dropped the arm and turned to face Argus. "So, you bumped my show for your special report, and now you want my girl."

"My relationship with Miss Devane is purely professional." He would not allow the slightest insinuation.

Kiera squared her shoulders. "Look, Paul, I wish you well, but let's let bygones be bygones."

The sportscaster slanted his head toward Argus. "I don't want to discuss this in front of him."

"I'm not going anywhere unless Miss Devane asks me to leave."

Kiera pivoted away from them and pulled her car keys out of her purse. "I don't give a hoot what either of you do. I'm going home." She slid behind the wheel of the Pontiac, backed out of her spot, and gunned it out of the lot.

Argus watched her signal light flash a right. She made the turn and her taillights disappeared into the twilight. He laughed aloud.

Paul growled. "What's so funny?"

Argus shook his head and walked to his DeSoto, got in, and put the key in the ignition, but didn't turn it on. She'd never be mistaken for a Carmelite nun. Not in a million years. Blunt, not soft and feminine like his Ada had been. And where'd Kiera get that short Betty Boop hair-do? Not his style at all. No Sir. Where Ada was a sensitive and godly woman, this one was so hardboiled he couldn't imagine her on her knees praying. So, why was she so captivating?

Author Bio:

Nike Chillemi has been called a crime fictionista due to her passion for crime fiction. She was an Inspy Awards 2010 judge in the Suspense/Thriller/Mystery category and a judge in the 2011 and 2012 Carol Awards in the suspense, mystery, and romantic suspense categories. She is the founding board member of the Grace Awards and its Chairman, a reader's choice awards for excellence in Christian fiction. She writes book reviews for The Christian Pulse online magazine. BURNING HEARTS is the first book in the crime wave that is sweeping the south shore of Long Island in The Sanctuary Point series, published by Desert Breeze. GOODBYE NOEL, the second book in the series released in December, 2011 won the Grace Award 2011 in the Mystery/Romantic Suspense/Thriller category. PERILOUS SHADOWS, the third in the series released in July, 2012. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and the Edgy Christian Fiction Lovers (Ning).

Purchase links:
Amazon (including Kindle).
Barnes and Noble (including Nook).

Friday, August 3, 2012

Mystery Ladies of Summer-Featuring Fabulous Female Mystery Novelist in July and August


Dani Pettrey

A sabotaged plane. Two dead deep-water divers. One single clue.

Bailey Craig vowed never to set foot in Yancey, Alaska, again. She has a past, and a reputation--and Yancey's a town that doesn't forget. She's returned only to bury a loved one killed in the plane crash, but then dark evidence emerges and Bailey's own expertise becomes invaluable for the case.
Cole McKenna can face dangerous rescue dives. He can face the fear a murderer may be threatening his town. But facing the reality of Bailey's reappearance is a tougher challenge. She broke his heart... but doesn't seem to be the same girl who left Yancey ten years ago. And he's not the same guy she left behind.

Racing against the clock and a rising body count, Bailey and Cole must move beyond the hurts of their pasts to work together until the truth of what is hidden in the depths finally surfaces.

Dani Pettrey is a wife, homeschooling mom, and author. She feels blessed to write inspirational romantic suspense because it incorporates so many things she loves--the thrill of adventure, nail biting suspense, the deepening of her characters' faith, and plenty of romance. She and her husband reside in Maryland with their two teenage daughters. Visit her website at

Friday, July 27, 2012

Mystery Ladies of Summer-Featuring Fabulous Female Mystery Novelist in July and August

A Plain Death (Appleseed Creek Mystery #1)


Amanda Flowers

Now Available !
An unlikely friendship between a high-tech woman and a runaway Amish girl leads to murder. Her first day in Appleseed Creek, Ohio, Chloe Humphrey, befriends Becky, an ex-Amish teenager looking for a new home. While driving Chloe’s car, Becky collides with a buggy, killing an Amish bishop in the process. The case moves from accident to murder when police reveal a cut brake line. Now, Chloe and Becky’s handsome brother, Timothy, must discover who the real intended victim is before the murderer makes a second attempt.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Mystery Ladies of Summer-Featuring Fabulous Female Mystery Novelist in July and August

  Gone to Ground


   Brandilyn Collins

Amaryllis, Mississippi is a scrappy little town of strong backbone and southern hospitality. A brick-paved Main Street, a park, and a legendary ghost in the local cemetery are all part of its heritage. Everybody knows everybody in Amaryllis, and gossip wafts on the breeze. Its people are friendly, its families tight. On the surface Amaryllis seems much like the flower for which it’s named—bright and fragrant. But the Amaryllis flower is poison.

In the past three years five unsolved murders have occurred within the town. All the victims were women, and all were killed in similar fashion in their own homes. And just two nights ago—a sixth murder.

Clearly a killer lives among the good citizens of Amaryllis. And now three terrified women are sure they know who he is—someone they love. None is aware of the others’ suspicions. And each must make the heartrending choice to bring the killer down. But each woman suspects a different man.

Author Bio

Brandilyn Collins is an award-winning and best-selling novelist, writing her trademarked Seatbelt Suspense®--fast-paced, character-driven suspense with myriad twists and an interwoven thread of faith. She also has written the distinctive book on fiction-writing techniques, Getting Into Character: Seven Secrets a Novelist Can Learn From Actors (John Wiley & Sons).

You can read excerpts from all her books at her Web site:

Friday, July 13, 2012

Mystery Ladies of Summer-Featuring Fabulous Female Mystery Novelist in July and August

A Raleigh Harmon Novel:
The Stars Shine Bright
              Sibella Giorello

Available: July 17th !

After the FBI suspends her for bending rules, Special Agent Raleigh Harmon wants to redeem her career and re-start her life.

But when the Bureau offers her an undercover assignment, she's forced to take on a double-life. Sent to a thoroughbred horse track, Raleigh's supposed to find out who's fixing the races. But when horses start dying and her own life is threatened, she realizes something bigger—and more sinister—is ruining Emerald Downs. And she's never felt more alone.

Her sole contact with the FBI is Special Agent Jack Stephanson, a guy who jumps from jerk to genuine friend on any given day. And Raleigh' family support is out of the question. For one, they're off-limits while she's undercover, and her mother stopped speaking to her after a psychotic breakdown sent her to a mental hospital. To add insult to isolation, Raleigh's fiance keeps demanding they start their life together—now—precisely when she's being ordered not to be herself.

With only days left before the track closes for the season, Raleigh races to stop the killing and find out who's behind it and why, all the while dealing with her fiance and trying to figure out if Jack is friend or foe—or something more.

BIO:  Sibella Giorello 

Sibella Giorello grew up in Alaska and majored in geology at Mount Holyoke College. After riding a motorcycle across the country, she            worked as a features writer for the Richmond Times-Dispatch. Her stories have won state and national awards, including two nominations for the Pulitzer Prize. She now lives in Washington state with her husband and sons.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Mystery Ladies of Summer-Featuring Fabulous Female Mystery Novelist in July and August

Tidewater Inn
       Colleen Coble

Release Date: July 17, 2012

Welcome to Hope Beach. A place of intoxicating beauty . . . where trouble hits with the force of a hurricane.

Inheriting a beautiful old hotel on the Outer Banks could be a dream come true for Libby. The inn cries out for her restorer's talent and love of history. She's delighted to learn of the family she never knew she had. And the handsome Coast Guard lieutenant she's met there on the island could definitely be the man of her dreams.

But Libby soon realizes that the only way she can afford the upkeep on the inn is to sell it to developers who are stalking the island. The father who willed her the inn has died before she could meet him, and her newfound brother and sister are convinced she's there to steal their birthright. Worst of all, her best friend and business partner has been kidnapped before her eyes, and Libby's under suspicion for the crime.

Libby's dream come true is becoming a nightmare. Her only option is to find her friend and prove her innocence, or lose everything on the shores of Hope Island.

Author Colleen Coble’s forty novels and novellas have won or finaled in awards ranging from the Romance Writers of America prestigious RITA, the Holt Medallion, the ACFW Book of the Year, the Daphne du Maurier, National Readers’ Choice, the Booksellers Best, and the 2009 Best Books of Indiana-Fiction award. She writes romantic mysteries because she loves to see justice prevail and love begin with a happy ending.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Quote of the Week

“We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.”
—Ernest Heminway

Friday, June 22, 2012

New Release

Nothing to Hide

       J. Mark Bertrand

Release date: July 1, 2012

The Stakes Have Never Been Higher for this Homicide Cop. Publishers Weekly calls J. Mark Bertrand's writing "gritty and chilling." He returns once more to the streets of Houston for another twisting mystery featuring Detective Roland March. This time, a new case is launched by the discovery of a headless corpse...only the investigation quickly becomes complicated when a blood sample analysis brings a phone call from the FBI. The body was an undercover agent working to bring down Mexican cartels. The feds want the case closed rather than risk exposing other agents in the field, but March can't abide letting a murder go unsolved. And he doesn't have to dig long to figure out something isn't right. Someone is covering something up, and it seems that everyone has something to hide. Maybe even March, as the case soon intersects, unexpectedly, with the murder that led him to become a homicide cop, all those years ago.

Interview with J. Mark Bertrand. 

1. Your latest novel, Nothing to Hide releases July 1, 2012. Tell us how the Roland March character came into being. What inspired you?

I’ve always been attracted to anti-heroes, so the idea of a cop on his way out of homicide, marking time on dead-end assignments, wasn’t much of a stretch for me. It took a while to discover March’s voice, but once I had it, he kept revealing more and more layers. Each book in the series goes deeper into his identity.

2. What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why?

In Nothing to Hide, I wrote a series of chapters set in 1986, recounting March’s origin story -- the strange chain of events that led to him leaving the military and becoming a police officer. They were a lot of fun to write, because I got to explore his point-of-view prior to so many of the cataclysmic events that shaped the character we know so well. This is a fresh, innocent March … kind of hard to believe.

3. Your publisher, Bethany House, is a CBA house and I wondered if you have had success as a crossover novelist and if so, what do you attribute it to?

It’s true Bethany is a CBA publisher, but I don’t write my books with the tropes of evangelical fiction in mind. I try to explore big themes with a level of realism, which appeals to all kinds of readers. Sometimes readers realize belatedly that a book is CBA material, and they post negative reviews because they feel hoodwinked. In my case, it seems to run in the opposite direction, with people saying, “Don’t let the label fool you, this is good.” Why is this? I’d like to think it’s because they’re good novels, and that’s what matters.

4.Your book covers are distinctive, and immediately identifiable as a J. Mark Bertrand, Roland March novel. How much input did you have in that decision.

I gave a lot of input … but Bethany House deserves all the credit. Paul Higdon, the guru of all things creative at BHP, sat down with me and went over my preferences, then brought in FaceOut Studio, which did the actual design. (They won an award for it, too.) We’ve stuck with the look throughout the series.

5. When did you first start writing and when did you finish your first book?

I’ve been writing since grade school. My first novel was a spy thriller I wrote as an undergraduate. It was never published.

6. What authors are on your book shelves at home?

My shelves are extensive, so it might be easier to list who’s not on them! How about a representative sample. On the shelf nearest my desk, we have Graham Greene, Georges Simenon, Flannery O’Connor, John Gardner, Philip Kerr, Jim Thompson, John Le Carre, Ruth Rendell, P.D. James, Barry Unsworth, Walker Percy, Charles Williams and many more.

7. Were you influenced by any particular author?

Whether it shows up in my work or not, I couldn’t say, but I’d claim James Lee Burke, Graham Greene, and Simenon. There have been many more. There’s never been a single, strong influence, always a crown of them, ever shifting.

8.Tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published.

It was pretty easy. All I had to do was write a wonderful manuscript that editors loved and publication committees hated. That opened the door for my editor, Dave Long, who offered to take a detective series proposal to committee -- without my having written the manuscript. Bethany House gave the March books a thumbs up, and green-lit a collaboration with Deeanne Gist that came out in 2010, too, the same year as Back on Murder.

9. If you had to go back and do it all over, is there any aspect of your novel or getting it published that you would change?

I spent a lot of time thinking I was too busy to write. When I finally decided to do it, I wrote one novel that hasn’t been published yet, and every book afterward is either in print or coming soon. Turns out I had the time. If I could go back, I would have started much sooner.

10. Do you work with an outline, or are you a seat-of-the-pants writer?

Does it have to be either/or? Plotting is both a rational and intuitive process. I imagine we all pre-plan to a degree, but to me “seat-of-the-pants” implies something haphazard about the intuitive side of the process. Was Mozart a seat-of-the-pants composer? Climbing off my hobby horse, I’d say I pre-plan the aspects of a story that don’t come naturally to me, but when I write, I tend to keep most of it in my head (which is why I can’t multi-task when writing a draft … my mind is focused entirely on the page).

11. Have you written a book you love that you have not been able to get published?

Oh, yes. The aforementioned loved-by-editors, hated-by-committees masterpiece. In the open scene, the main character is viciously beaten. One editor said: “Christian readers can’t sympathize with a hero who suffers like that … and yes, I know how ironic that sounds.”

12. Are there certain characters you would like to go back to, or is there a theme or idea you’d love to work with?

Nostalgia and absent-but-idealized women are two themes that seem to come up a lot in my writing. The March novels are full of both, which is what gives them their brooding quality. As far as characters I’d like to return to … can I say, Roland March? Nothing to Hide is the last book with Bethany House, which means he’s going on hiatus. But I’d like to come back to him in the future (hopefully the not-too-distant future).

13. Have you ever worked in law enforcement and if so in what occupation? If not, how do you research the technical aspects of your Houston detective?

The closest I ever came was taking a bunch of private investigator correspondence courses as a teenager. I’ve always been fascinated by detectives, though, especially the idea of the investigator as the epistemological truth-teller (he has to ask not only what happened, but how can he know what happened). So I’ve kept abreast of the field for as long as I can remember. Whenever I’ve had specific questions, there have always been friends and readers to help out. People praise these books for their authenticity, but I would say the real authenticity is psychological. They feel real because the characters feel real, not because the details are accurate (though they are, to the best of my ability).

14. I know from your biography, you were once arrested for a crime you didn’t commit, want to tell us about that?

I was arrested at O’Hare Airport for assaulting a ticket agent in the First Class line. I wrote about the incident in my 2007 book Rethinking Worldview. For a writer, it was a fascinating experience. The jail scene in Beguiled, the novel I co-authored with Deeanne Gist, is based directly on my time in the Chicago PD lock-up. For the record, I was innocent.

15. You and your family made a move from Houston, Texas to South Dakota. What adjustments have you had to make?

I never considered myself much of a Southerner until making the move. Now I describe myself as a Southern ex-pat. The long Siberian winters are the biggest adjustment, but for me it was a welcome change. There’s nothing like a blizzard to keep you indoors when a deadline is looming.

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

I blog about the physical form of the Good Book at I also dabble in bookbinding. And I do a lot of reading, of course. Mostly when I’m not writing I think about writing.

17. You won the Grace Award for Back on Murder, in 2011. Any other awards on your trophy shelf?

Back on Murder was also an INSPY finalist, and Pattern of Wounds is up for a Christy Award this year for Best Suspense. If you ask me, Nothing to Hide is the best of the three, but we’ll have to wait and see if it garners similar acclaim.

18. Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?

Just write. And do a lot of reading, mainly of great books. Avoid conferences and workshops until you can separate good advice from bad, realizing that a lot of teachers are simply passing along earlier pedagogy, not engaging directly with the experience of writing. The next time someone tells you to “show, don’t tell,” ask them why Percy Lubbock thought the perfect embodiment of that advice was Henry James, who was far from a cinematic writer. If they can’t answer, don’t listen.

19. Is there anything that you would like to say to your readers and fans?

I owe my readers and fans a debt of gratitude. The March books aren’t made for the masses. They appeal to a particular kind of sensibility, and if you happen to be in that category, I’d say that makes you pretty special. It still amazes me when I meet people who love these books as much as I do, who relate to March and his friends just as strongly. All I can say, from the bottom of my heart, is thank you.

Friday, June 15, 2012

New Release

River Rampage
   Max Elliot Anderson

(Book #3 in the Sam Cooper Adventur Series)

Release date: June 1, 2012

Sam Cooper and his friends have the chance of a lifetime to go rafting down the mighty Colorado River. The rains have been heavy this season, turning the raging river even more treacherous. The boys’ become separated from the main group, their rubber raft is going flat, and now they’re on their own. They have their hands full with a crusty prospector, his gold mine, a gang of outlaw bikers, and a desperate river escape on their makeshift wooden raft. Think that’s the worst that could happen? Well, it isn’t.

The Sam Cooper Collection

#1 Lost Island Smugglers
#2 Captain Jack's Treasure
#3 River Rampage

Author Bio:

Max Elliot Anderson

Max grew up as a struggling reader. After surveying the market, he sensed the need for action-adventures and mysteries for readers 8 – 13, especially boys. Using his extensive experience in the production of dramatic motion pictures, videos, and television commercials, Mr. Anderson brings that same visual excitement and heart-pounding action to his stories. Each book has different characters, setting, and plot. Several books are published, with an additional twenty-nine manuscripts completed. Young readers have reported that reading one of his books is like actually being in an exciting movie. Books for Boys Blog: Author Web Site: 1.htmlMy Youtube Videos

Friday, June 8, 2012

New Release

Love in Disguise

          Carol Cox

Can she solve the crime before they uncover her true identity? Jobless and down to her last dime, Ellie Moore hears about a position with the Pinkerton Detective Agency and believes it’s the perfect chance to put her acting skills and costumes to use. Reluctantly, the agency agrees to give her one assignment, one chance to prove herself. Disguised as Lavinia Stewart, a middle-aged widow, Ellie travels to Arizona to begin her investigation. When the need arises, she also transforms into the dazzling Jessie Monroe, whose vivacious personality encourages people to talk.

Mine owner Steven Pierce is going to lose his business if he can’t figure out who’s stealing his silver shipments. In his wildest dreams, he never expected to receive help from a gray-haired widow . . . or to fall in love with her beautiful niece.

Then the thieves come after Lavinia and Jessie. Ellie isn’t safe no matter which character she plays! Should she give up and reveal her true identity? What will Steven do when he realizes the woman he’s falling in love with doesn’t really exist?

Author Bio:

Carol Cox is the author of nearly 30 novels and novellas. A third-generation Arizonan, Carol has a lifelong fascination with the Old West and hopes to make it live again in the hearts of her readers. She makes her home in northern Arizona, where the deer and the antelope really do play—often within view of the family’s front porch.

Friday, June 1, 2012

2012 Grace Award Finalist Mystery/Suspense Genre

The Witch Tree


         Karin Kaufman

Four days before Christmas in Elk Park, Colorado, genealogist Anna Denning discovers a client’s body. When she starts asking questions no one wants answered, she becomes the killer’s next target. Still grieving the death of her husband, Anna must draw on her wounded faith to enter a world of wicca and paganism—reminders of a past she buried long ago—and discover the secret of The Witch Tree.

Author Bio:

Karin Kaufman writes cozy mysteries with an edge. Her debut novel, The Witch Tree, is the first in her Anna Denning mystery series. A member of American Christian Fiction Writers , Karin lives near the foothills of the Colorado Rocky Mountains with Sophie and Cooper, her crazy but lovable shelter dogs.