A group blog featuring an international array of killer mystery, suspense, and romantic suspense writers. With premises and story lines different from your run-of-the-mill whodunits, we tend to write outside the box. We blog several times a week on all topics relating to romantic suspense and mystery, our writing, and our readers. We welcome all comments and often have guest bloggers. All our authors can be contacted separately, too, using their own social media links.

We find our genre delightfully, dangerously, and deliciously exciting - join us here, if you do too!

NOTE: the blog is currently dormant but please enjoy the posts we're keeping online.

Julie Moffet . Cathy Perkins . Jean Harrington . Daryl Anderson . Nico Rosso . Maureen A Miller . Sandy Parks . Lisa Q Mathews . Sharon Calvin . Lynne Connolly . Janis Patterson . Vanessa Keir . Tonya Kappes . Julie Rowe . Joni M Fisher . Leslie Langtry

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Leslie Langtry...Possible Fraud...Definite Neurotic.

I had a book launch one week ago. MOTTO FOR MURDER, Book #6 in my USA Today Bestselling Merry Wrath Mystery Series, came out Tuesday, April 24.

I think there's a glamorous misconception on what goes on the day a new book is launched. Obviously, I was lounging on the settee in a formal gown, wearing a tiara and plucking bon bons from a box of Belgian Chocolates - as hundreds of fans paraded by, offering thunderous applause.

The truth is somewhat less interesting. I sat in my pajamas, nervously checking my sales stats, while eating cereal washed down with a Kickstart energy drink (which was not good considering my aforementioned nervous condition).

Somewhere in there I'm sure I let the dogs out about fifty times (occasionally letting them back in), did dishes and laundry, paid bills, and nervously checked my sales stats. Oh yes, and I distinctly remember stepping on one of the cats' unfortunately (and yet strategically) placed hairballs. Because cats are evil and have no respect for the creative process. But that's another blog post for another day...

I don't know a single author who doesn't sweat launch day. We're all convinced that this is the book that flops. The book that destroys our reputation and future sales. I know, it sounds crazy, but that's a concern with creative types. Well, the ones who are insecure, like me, that is.

You can all breathe a sigh of relief - this launch went well. Which probably means it's the next one that will screw up my career. I'm not kidding. I've written 20 books and I still worry. Clearly, I'm neurotic.

And I did get some Belgian Chocolates from a friend who stopped by (and also a burger from Wendy's which was much appreciated - Thank you, Susan).

If you know an author who's launch is forthcoming, please be kind. And maybe get her some bon bons and a double cheeseburger.

I can guarantee that she'll thank you for it.

Leslie Langtry

Monday, April 23, 2018

Retreating to Advance

By Cathy Perkins

The weekend marked the 10th anniversary of our writing retreat. Wow, ten years. Ten years ago, Rachel Grant, Rebecca Clark, Courtney Milan, Darcy Burke and I were Golden Heart finalists and staged our first retreat. (We invited Elisabeth Naughton to join us several years ago and Kris Kennedy couldn’t come this year.) We’re all multi-published authors now, but we’re also friends. We’ve seen each other’s children grow up, celebrated successes and consoled losses.

The primary focus of the weekend is writing. Usually silence reigns except for the clicking of Elisabeth’s keys, but there are lighter moments too. We reviewed the 432 pictures from Darcy’s photo shoot and picked favorites for book cover potential. Of course, we had to stage our own “shoot.” 

This is our “thoughtful” pose. 

Yeah, not.

One of the most helpful things for me was the business discussion. We talked about goals for the upcoming year and mouths gaped as Darcy described her publication schedule. “I treat it like a job, because that’s what it is,” she explained. In order to meet her schedule, she sets—and meets—daily word counts. 

Her comment echoed Steven King. I listened to On Writing during the drive to Portland. (We change the location every year, but the house is always in the Pacific Northwest.) King said he goes to his writing space every morning and doesn’t come out until he has at least 1500 words on the page. Some days he’s done by noon. Others, he’s there until dinner time.

That’s my takeaway from this year’s retreat. Consistency. Discipline. Sure, I wrote nearly 15,000 words this weekend. Some of them will turn out to be lousy, but the first draft of my latest novel is nearly complete and editing will deal with the clunky sections. But every day since I’ve been home, instead of checking email, social media, and the news when I get up, I write. I’m roughly two scenes away from reaching “The End.”

And then the editing will begin…and the plotting of the next book.

Thanks Darcy. And Steven.   

What about you? Writing retreats? Daily habits? What gets that enormous challenge you're facing done? 

In other news, I'm pretty excited about the cover for the next novel in the Holly Price series.
IN IT FOR THE MONEY releases later this spring. And if I can keep the discipline going, there will be new adventures for Holly and her half-sister, Keri. (Hah, you didn't know about her, did you?)

An award-winning author of financial mysteries, Cathy Perkins writes twisting dark suspense and light amateur sleuth stories.  When not writing, she battles with the beavers over the pond height or heads out on another travel adventure. She lives in Washington with her husband, children, several dogs and the resident deer herd. 

She's hard at work on the next book in the Holly Price series and a new series set in the Cascade mountains.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

A Day In Charleston

I had the chance to visit Charleston, SC recently. For those who have never been there, it's a colorful port city with a tiny taste of New Orleans about it. It was a quick trip because I was on a tight deadline to complete BENEATH. But sometimes looming deadlines crush the inner muse. The pressure to write has a reverse effect and you find yourself penning such useful lines as, "She ate a piece of cake."

My day away started with a little seafood at Fleet Landing. Just traveling a few hours south and I was blessed with 80 degree weather on a winter day. 

The architecture was beautiful. The ambiance relaxing. It was a shame that the book I was working on was a young adult adventure under the ocean. None of what I was seeing in Charleston could make its way into the book. Well, except for the seafood. :)

So this refreshed writer went home and ended up being early on her deadline!

How about you, whether you're under a deadline for a book, or a deadline in everyday you find stepping back for a few moments clears the brain?

Here is the end result of my little vacation...


From USA TODAY bestselling author Maureen A. Miller comes this young adult adventure that will plunge you deep into the Atlantic Ocean.   

It was Stella Gullaksen’s final break before starting her freshman year at college. Joining her best friend, Jill, and Jill's family aboard the STARKISSED, Stella wakes to a violent storm that capsizes the boat over a hundred miles off the New Jersey shore.

As the waves haul her under Stella knows that she is going to die. Instead, an unusual current drags her deep into the underwater canyons of the Atlantic Ocean. Powerless against the raging waters, she is suddenly sucked into a ventilated cave. One by one, Jill and her family also emerge in the sunken cavern.

With only a faulty diving flashlight to keep oblivion at bay Stella and her best friend's brother, Colin, search the cave in hope of finding a way back to the surface. What they discover, however, is that they are not alone. There are other survivors in this subterranean grotto–survivors spanning decades of maritime disasters.
Will this discovery prove salvation, or have they all been condemned to the same fate? A grim finale at the bottom of the sea?

On an alliance forged by friendship and attraction, Stella and Colin battle to escape the danger that lies beneath.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Inaccuracies and Other Heresies

by Janis Patterson

I'm gobsmacked. And close to heartbroken. Things are all upside down and I don't like it.

The other night The Husband and I were watching a show on PBS - an historical drama that during this episode was stated as taking place in 1905. The story was interesting enough, the production was lush with excellent values... except... the leading woman's clothing was not from 1905, one outfit especially noticeable because it was considered almost scandalously avante garde in 1915. (How do I know? Because I'm working on a book set in 1916, and have written one set in 1919, and I am a dedicated and close to fanatical researcher.) Of course I made a comment. The Husband grunted.

A few minutes later the main characters - still in 1905 - were hurtling down the road in a 1916 touring car. Didn't look anything like a car made in 1905. I made a disparaging and angry remark, and then the world went upside down.

"It's just a story, it's not important."

I couldn't believe he said that. I mean, this man is a scientist, a decorated (and thankfully retired) Navy officer and a respected historian of both WWII and the War Between the States. Accuracy is his middle name. I've seen him lose his temper when a TV show makes a mistake on a gun's caliber or year of origin. And when some stupid TV show had a character putting a silencer on a revolver... let's just say his reaction was memorable. And loud.

"It's just a story..." Words to chill the heart of a good storyteller.

Maybe it's just a story, but as creators of those stories, don't we owe our readers the best we can do? Although I hate to admit it, a lot of people get great amounts of their information from stories, whether read or seen. If the information presented there is inaccurate, a lot of people are going to be believing inaccurate things. And - if they are caught out in being wrong, who do you think is going to be blamed? Not them, even though they failed to check factual sources or do due diligence. No, they'll blame the writer, because things in books or on TV just have to be correct, don't they?

Such egregious disregard of fact has all kinds of consequences, not the least of which is that for those who do know the truth you the writer come out looking like either an uneducated lout or a lazy idiot who can't be bothered to check his facts. Either way it doesn't reflect well on you. 

But wait, there's more... I think it all boils down to respect. The respect the writer must have for the reader, which should insure that every fact in our stories is as true as we can make it. I realize that there are some fine points that we have to extrapolate, or even guess, but when there is information available we should make the effort to find it. There is also the respect writer and reader should have for the truth. If you write fantasy, feel free to make up your own worlds and your own facts - but once you have, know you have to stick with them. That's not what I'm talking about, though. If you write stories set in the real world, whether current or historical, this world deserves the courtesy of being presented as is. No one benefits from a 1916 car driving through a 1905 landscape, or a revolver being subdued by a silencer.

There's one more thing - however obscure the fact, there's someone out there who will know the truth, and boy, will they enjoy calling you down on it!

Friday, April 13, 2018

Murder Comes to Elsyium--and it's about time!

It's a common analogy to compare writing a book to giving birth as both are long and arduous endeavors. For reasons I'll never understand, writing Murder Come to
was difficult--the equivalent of a marathon labor, though not quite as painful as the Polish woman who was in labor for  75 days. (Yes, I looked it up!)

But now that the book is done, I'm happy with the final product, which is what any author strives for.
And as the new mother forgets the pain of childbirth when she holds her infant in her arms, the difficulties of the past years fade when I look at my lovely cover! So I'm delighted and relieved to finally send Murder Comes to Elysium out into the big, bright world!

Find at Amazon (KU)
PI Addie Gorsky is still struggling with her father’s death when a friend asks her to look into the sudden death of his niece, Elena. The young woman died minutes after being discharged from Tender Mercies Psychiatric, one of the darker places in the Sunshine State.

Addie agrees to this small favor, despite Elena’s death from anaphylactic shock appearing like nothing more than a tragic accident.

Soon, Addie uncovers small discrepancies in Elena’s untimely death. Even more troubling is Elena herself, who was not the inexperienced college student described by her uncle, but a woman with a dark secret.

When a second person dies at the Mercies, Addie discovers a connection between the two deaths. A connection leading back to one of the most heinous crimes in Florida’s history and the horrific poisoning of seven small children.

Suddenly Addie finds herself in a deadly chess match with an unseen opponent, a grand master of murder always one step ahead. Somehow, she must find a way to defeat this ruthless killer before another life is lost.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

What Keeps You Turning the Pages?

As an author, I often contemplate what makes me want to read further in a book. What draws me into the story. I came up with three basic ideas, although there are many more.

Create Questions:

The best way to get lost in a book from the first page is to have a situation that produces questions. This usually happens in mysteries where a murder is discovered at the start and the reader doesn’t know who did the deed. Thrillers often take this a step further, with the murder either happening on the page and/or the likelihood of more killings occurring in short order if the killer isn’t stopped.

In my latest release, To Die Again, the novel opens with a purposeful accident in a bio lab which leaves people dead…but from a chemical gas impossible to produce in that lab.

Immediately questions are raised. Why would a killer use something not common to a bio lab to murder the occupants? Why make the murder obvious? Since there was more than one person in the lab, which one was the target? One scientist was anxious about the difference in her written lab notes versus the ones entered in the computer. Why would that be? And why was the usual lab technician absent that day instead of the one who usually worked with the scientist?

Set the Clock Ticking:
The questions can’t stop, and neither can the pace of the book. While a mystery might leave the identity of the villain unknown and have the hero collect clues to expose them, a thriller can unmask a villain early and show how they set out to defeat the hero or heroine. The bad guys are often the ones who “set the clock ticking” by hinting to their true dastardly plans or being two steps ahead or, even scarier, behind the good guys. In To Die Again, after the lab “accident,” the villain discovers the heroine has a secret that could change his future, and to gain it she must die by his hand. In the meantime, the heroine figures out why the villain set up the lab accident but has to prove it to authorities.

Another example of setting a clock ticking can be found in Julie Moffett’s No Room for Error. The villain caused Lexi Carmichael’s plane to crash in a remote island jungle. She and her cohorts survive only to discover the bad guys are on their tails and want something Lexi must keep safe. The clock is ticking, and they must move to survive all while trying to figure out who the villain is and what he really wants.

Add Complications:
Complications arise through characterization and through the story’s plot. But the bottom line is don’t make it easy for your good or your bad guys.

The villain should equally match or even be stronger than the hero. But don’t make it even that easy. Give the villain lots of advantages and the hero a few disadvantages. An easy advantage is to put the hero in the villain’s territory. The villain knows his house/business/island/ship better than the hero and, of course, will have it tricked up with booby-traps.

How do you add complications for the villain? Maybe he believes he is controlling the situation, but in reality, someone else is controlling him. Of course, both sides can have secrets within their own ranks, and the failure to share those, perhaps for very legitimate reasons, will create consequences.

In To Die Again, the hero is tasked to work with a new and rather unique FBI unit, one where everyone has secrets, only if he learns their biggest secret of all, the punishment is shattering.

In To Kill Again (coming next month), an elite soldier has to hunt and kill his villainous equal who is leaving a trail of corpses behind. It could take months to find him and, in that time, many more people could die. To save lives and shorten the timeframe, the soldier plans to take an untrained tracker who has uncanny abilities to locate the killer, but few fighting skills. The soldier must face off with the killer but is also responsible for his tracker’s protection. To make matters worse, the hero’s last tracker was killed, and rules forbid him using another. If the new tracker dies, he is out of the elite force forever. To up the stakes, give the villain one more advantage. Let him learn about the tracker’s shortcomings and that she is the soldier’s Achilles heel.

I hope this gets you thinking about what as a reader keeps you turning the pages?

Sandy Parks latest release is a thriller full of adventure with a dash of science fiction and romance. Available in ebook and print.

A woman who doesn’t die.
A human who isn’t easy to kill.
A man who murders for power.

Dr. Mona Signoretti has the rare ability to shield her Infinitas life energy from others, making her appear human. She uses that talent by going undercover for a special FBI unit to investigate one of her species suspected of developing a deadly toxin to gain power in the human world. If she fails, not only are humans at risk, but also the mission to save her race from destruction. When her role is discovered and her life-sustaining energy threatened, an all-too-human agent, Grant Thornton, is assigned to keep her alive—not an easy task in a world where enemies refuse to die.

If interested, you can find To Die Again HERE.

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