Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Wicked Mouth on #Wicked Wednesday by Kimberly Packard #stormchasers


Please welcome Kimberly Packard to Wicked Wednesday with her wicked mouth!

I have to admit. I’m a sucker for a witty, wicked retort. Sometimes they’re only said in my head, because you know, appropriate behavior. I think my mom has a direct line into my brain (don’t all moms?) where she’ll remind me to not be a smart alec (I only asked her once if she’d rather me be a dumb alec. I got grounded…after she stopped laughing).

The heroine in my first trilogy had a dry sense of humor, but hers was much more restrained to fit the theme of the story. But then, I met Elaina, the heroine of my newest novel, Vortex. And, that’s when I came to realize that she is my spirit animal.

Elaina is a shove-her-sleeves-up-and-get-it-done kind of girl. As a storm chaser, she’s part scientist, part thrill seeker. She’s much more comfortable hanging out with guys, but also has a soft side, especially when it comes to her beloved yellow Lab, Nimbus. But, what I love most about Elaina is her sense of humor and quick wit.

For example, in the “meet cute” of her and fellow storm chaser/TV meteorologist, Seth Maddux, she catches him watching her while practicing yoga. And, in true Elaina fashion she couldn’t bite her tongue and let a prime time for a wicked comment to pass her by. Let’s take a look:
A man leaned on the gate behind her. His wavy blond hair reflected the fiery colors of the sunset. The crystal blue color of his eyes perfectly matched his polo shirt.
Elaina squinted, trying to make out the logo embroidered in white, frowning when the upside down words ‘Forecast Channel’ came into focus. “It’s rude to just sit there and watch,” she called out before hopping her feet between her hands and finishing the Sun Salutation.
“Didn’t want to interrupt your yoga.” His smirk morphed into a full smile. “What time is Pilates?”
Elaina tugged at the hem of her long-sleeved T-shirt and shoved the sleeves back up her arms as she walked toward him. “Studio’s all yours. Enjoy your Kegels.” Elaina reached for the gate, but he didn’t move.
His hands covered the latch and the fingers of one hand curled around it, holding her hostage in the smelly, algae-infested pool.
His eyes stayed on hers, but she could tell they wanted to roam.
Then again, who knew how long he’d been watching her. He’d probably already got an eyeful.
“That sounded like an insult.” The congeniality in his words was pulled tight over a challenge.
“You’re smarter than you look.” Elaina crossed her arms and narrowed her eyes. Challenge accepted. “It was definitely an insult.” She shot her gaze to the latch and back up at him. “Do you mind?”
“Seth Maddux,” he said, extending his top hand, but still keeping one over the latch. “Forecast Channel. I’m covering the outbreak tomorrow. Which tour group are you with?”
She scowled at his hand but didn’t reach for it. Typical male MO, to assume she was a passenger, rather than a driver.
Her momma had taught her about boys like this.
“The one you need to avoid.” Like a snake striking, her nimble fingers reached under his hand a flicked open the gate.
He stumbled back, standing aside as she pushed past him.
She was nearly back to her room when he shouted. “Hey, I never got your name.”
“Nope,” Elaina said over her shoulder. “You didn’t.”

When Elaina quipped about Kegels, I snickered and did a little mental fist pump for her. But then, Seth dishes it right back at her a few scenes later when he and Elaina officially meet:
She studied his shoes, sturdy hiking boots with the laces double knotted, before moving up the jeans, a medium dark wash, past the bright blue polo shirt before settling on the white embroidered logo. Forecast Channel. Does he have a million of these shirts?
Her face warmed as her gaze found Seth Maddux’s over-confident smile.
“I’m fine,” she managed to get through her gritted teeth. Her mouth twitched, wanting to say more, but her filter clamped down hard.
“I’m glad you’re here,” Dr. Pierce continued, seemingly oblivious to Seth’s self-satisfied face and her scowl. “Elaina Adams, Seth Maddux. Seth is a reporter with the Forecast Channel. Elaina is my brightest doctoral candidate.”
Seth’s smile widened. “We met, briefly, down in Texas. Thanks for that exercise tip, by the way, I feel tighter already.” He punctuated his sentence with a wink.
“Oh, uh, yeah, um,” the words tripped over Elaina’s tongue. Sweat pricked at her forehead. She might be the first case of spontaneous human combustion by humiliation.

So yeah, she can dish it, and she can mostly take it. But she might have met her match with Seth.
On the outside, this book presented itself to me as a fun little romp around tornadoes (words I never thought I’d put together), but when I dug deeper as I wrote it, I found it was about family, identity, secrets and digging deep to find courage. Without Elaina and Seth’s humor, it would have been a pretty heavy story.

Humor can lighten a tense situation. It can make a reader laugh, brighten their day and, most importantly, it can intensify a reader’s connection to the story and characters. 

Brief Blurb:

A close encounter with a tornado during the final months of Elaina Adams’s doctoral studies jogs a lost memory to the surface. Desperate to relive the vision and find answers, the storm chaser continually puts her safety at risk by placing herself in the path of dangerous storms. Vortex is a story of family, love, identity and determination set against the thrilling backdrop of Tornado Alley. 

You can read Vortex on Amazon (it’s available in Kindle Unlimited) here:

Thursday, March 21, 2019

WIP Update #RomanticSuspense #Series

My monthly all keep my on my toes. I'd hate to report that I'm stalled writing my latest book. Last time, I reported having to rewrite the first ten chapters which resulted in the first twelve chapters of the book. I'm happy to say, I started writing Chapter Twenty-One today. Of course, these are first drafts. Considering what else is going on in my life, I'm mildly happy with the progress. Yes, FDW is still one-handed, and he's now getting therapy.

Wine tasting in Jerome
To refresh your memory, the setting for this new WIP is based on a real-life mining town turned ghost town turned tourist town. I've named the town Joshua. The working title is Magpie MacKenzie, a Joshua, Arizona Novel. There is suspense, mystery, old murders, romance...plenty to keep you turning the pages. My favorite parts of the book to create have been the flashbacks to 1969. Here is a glimpse at one of the scenes...just a piece of it.

“Do you want to split?” She tilted her head to the side. “Go to my place for a glass of wine?”
He slid an arm around her tiny waist. “Sure. Groovy. But…”
She settled against his arm. “Come on.”
They walked across the street before she finally spoke. “You would want to know. You’re a
solid kind.”
He wasn’t sure that was good in her eyes, yet, she kept walking so, he swallowed down his apprehension. Her T-shirt had ridden up from her waist and the silky skin against his arm about undid him. Maybe it didn’t matter about Wil. He’d worry about him tomorrow.
“Wil and I used to be hooked up. But lately, he’s changed. His gold aura is tinged with brown. I can’t even get a clear sight of the gold anymore.”
With a nudge, she directed their path between two houses, and came upon a stone structure. The cottage was small and lower to the ground than most houses. There were no steps, just a small square of bricks in front of the white door. The walls looked as if they’d stacked ten-inch boulders and cemented them together. Flowers and small green plants rimmed the building around the foundation.
Stopping, she leaned into him, and tilted her chin upward. “Auras are an emanation or like the atmosphere surrounding a person. Any living thing for that matter. Auras have color.”
His mind was having trouble. Oxygen starved. Her breasts pressed soft against him, her breath floated warm, penetrating the shirt on his chest. “Ah-and the, uh, color means something?”
She smiled. “Yes, it does. Wil’s a lover of beauty, and has an artistic flare. He craved too much attention, which didn’t bother me much at first. But he also hates to be criticized, and now with the tinge of brown…”
“I sense deception.”

Haunted Hotel?
Back to Chapter Twenty-One. If you're interested in the setting I'm basing this series on, Google Jerome, Arizona. It has quite a history.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

How Can Death Be Beautiful by Stephen B King


I'm so happy to have Stephen because I know you'll enjoy his post. Read on!

On my last visit to Brenda’s blog, I spoke about the definition of the word wicked, and how it related to my all-time most evil murderer in Book 1 of my Deadly Glimpses trilogy: Glimpse, Memoir of a Serial Killer. There is no doubt PPP (spoiler alert) is very definitely wicked, and is going to make a staggering comeback in Glimpse 3 when he seeks revenge on Rick and Pat for his capture, and for their perceived infidelity.

In Glimpse 2: Glimpse, The Beautiful Deaths, the murderer, it could be argued, isn’t the most wicked person in the book. In fact, when Criminal Psychologist Patricia Holmes delivers her profile to the team of detectives, including her would-be paramour, Rick McCoy she asks a very pertinent question: “When is a serial Killer, not a murderer?” The answer to this riddle holds the key to the motivation of the man responsible for the deaths of six young woman, found deep in a cave system, fully dressed, and each with a garland of flowers on their chest.

The bodies show no visible cause of death, they were not sexually molested, and each in their own way were incredibly beautiful before they disappeared, approximately a year apart from each other. Pat believes the perpetrator is addicted to beauty, that he would be a collector of stunning things, like African butterflies, rare postage stamps, porcelain figurines or artworks. In abducting young women, she thinks he is trying to capture their essence; the one thing that sets them apart from others; their beauty.

So, if the killer is not wicked in any sense of the word, yet someone in this story is, so who is it?

Patricia Holmes postulates that we are all products of our upbringing, and that the human brain, when it fractures, does so because of cause and effect. If a parent tells a child often enough they are useless, they will believe they are. No matter how hard they try to please that type of parent, they always fall short, so they try harder. In fact, they are doomed to fail no matter what they do, because it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. She nicknames the man they are hunting Gordon, because she says that name symbolizes someone who is not a master criminal, or an evil psychopath, but a normal person who is a victim of his own childhood.

She goes further by saying that in her opinion, poor Gordon tried to escape his horrible parents but married someone far worse; a dominant woman who stifles his quest for beautiful things, and ridicules him for daring to even think of them.

Here then, is the true wickedness in the story. A woman, who Gordon thinks of as a health food Nazi, unknowingly pushes her husband into causing the deaths of six girls when he tries to bask in their beauty, and capture it by painting them.

My motivation for writing the Glimpse series is twofold. Firstly, to provide the reader with glimpses into the psyche of three Serial killers, from their own point of view, while the other half of each story tells of their capture. Secondly, it explores two people’s relationship who are married yet inexorably attracted to each other, when they are thrust together as work colleagues. If they act on their desires, what will the consequences be, not just for them, but their partners? Here then is another example of wickedness from the point of view of Patricia Holmes husband, and Rick’s wife as they watch their marriages slowly crumble, no matter what they try to do to stop it.

For Rick and Pat, is it lust, or love, and can they survive the outcome of their own desire?

Life is about consequences, as it should be, and if Rick and Pat act on their temptations, there will be dire, if not catastrophic results.

Glimpse, The Beautiful Deaths will be released on April 10th on Amazon (and where ever good books are sold) The link is:

The official blurb is:

Rick McCoy of the Major Crime Squad is trying to repair his marriage when he is sent to the South of Western Australia. A young girl's body has been found in a cave, with flowers on her chest. A search finds five more bodies. 

Beautiful criminal psychologist, Patricia Holmes, has recovered from her stab wounds inflicted by the serial killer PPP, and is brought in. Pat believes they are hunting a man who is addicted to beauty. When another school girl goes missing, they have only days before she too will die. 

As their desire for each other grows and the pressure on their marriages increase, they close in on the man responsible for the beautiful deaths. Meanwhile, in the high-security wing of the mental health hospital, PPP plans his revenge on Rick. 

If anyone would like to know more, I always respond and can be contacted via:
Twitter: @StephenBKing1
Facebook: @stephenbkingauthor

Thursday, March 7, 2019

In the Book...a Peek at Planning #character #writing

The first thing I do when I start writing a new story is make a CHARACTER SKETCH for everyone who will appear in the book. I often don't know everything about a character in the beginning. I'll have the name, age, where they're born, and where they fit in the story.

Once I get the gist of the story in my head and begin to write, the characters reveal more about themselves as the story progresses. So for instance, I didn't know the character Wil was married to Jillian for several chapters. Jillian's role is small so she didn't have much time to clue me in.

I'm sharing the sketch for Magpie today. She's the main female in my current WIP (working title: Magpie Mackenzie, a Joshua, Arizona Novel). Beware, it's highly possible not all of this will show up in the finished book. Knowing details helps to write the book, but could bore the reader.

Character Name: Magpie Muse MacKenzie    Nickname: Mags to Phaedra and Maggypie to her dad

Birth Date and Place: February 1975 Joshua, AZ

Character Role: Heroine

Physical Descriptions:
                Age: 43 
                Race: Caucasian
                Eye Color: Caramel with yellow specks or burnt sugar at other times
                Hair Color and Style: Light brown with strands of gold, just past shoulders and curly to the point of uncontrolled (Zack sees it as caramel like her eyes)
                Height/Weight/Build: 5’7”, 130, medium
                Skin Tone: very fair
                Style of Dress: very casual skirts or jeans or leggings, strappy sandals or boots, no underwear, tops vary
                Distinguishing physical traits or mannerisms: her eyes and hair, her favorite swear word is Sacrebleu.
She twists hair around her finger by her face when she’s thinking.

Personality Traits: curious, independent, logical but unorthodox in her thinking. Not afraid to try new things. She likes unusual and intellectual. Critical of herself.

Background: Born and raised in Joshua. Got a business degree from NAU. Married a fellow student after college and talked him into moving to Joshua. He worked in Copperdale in IT. Never really liked Joshua. They had twins, one boy and one girl. He finally left her for another woman he met through work when he was down in the city (Phoenix). He didn’t like the lifestyle of Joshua which he didn’t realize she was so much a part of because she was a business major. He’s now in Phoenix

GOAL: She’s determined to find out what really happened to Mark, her teen love who disappeared 28 years ago.

MOTIVATION: The remains of a murdered person are found. She’s attracted to Zack who looks like him. Her father is a suspect.

Internal Conflicts: Zack is younger, and she thinks of Mark when she sees him. She suspects her father murdered his girlfriend and her teen boyfriend 28 years ago.
External Conflicts: Her father is the cop’s number one suspect. Zack’s obsession with solving the mystery.

Occupation/Education: Is the owner of Magpie’s Mercantile. Went to college for 4 years. On Friday nights and sometimes Sat she sings at the Apparition Room.

Miscellaneous Notes: She was born a month early so her parents didn’t have a name decided on. They called her Baby until she was five. She announced she was too old to be called Baby. Her father came up with Magpie because she flitted around town and dragged home castoff treasures of others. (magpies are known for thievery but they are really just overly curious)

She likes to sing and has a lovely voice as well as being able to grind out rock songs. She loves to cook and loves making unusual lattes. She drives a four-year-old Suzuki SX4 (all wheel drive) maroon in color with a few dents. Her aura is yellow: The Yellow Aura individual tends to put their head above their heart when faced with difficult choices and decision making. They are unorthodox and unconventional thinkers and not afraid to experiment with different ideas and original concepts. To some the Yellow Aura seems a little eccentric with unusual interests and hobbies. They are attracted to anything which is considered avant-garde, intellectual or unusual. The main fault of a person who has a predominant Yellow Aura is that they can be overly critical of themselves and others.
Scent: herbal/earthy

If you'd like to meet characters from other books I've already published, click on over to Meet the Characters on my web page.

Monday, March 4, 2019

Murder? What if? by Judy Penz Sheluk #murdermystery #cozy


Today's guest, Judy Penz Sheluk, asked a great question for The Hanged Man's Noose...what if?

As the author of two mystery series and four novels, I shouldn’t have a favorite book, and yet, how can I not love the book that started it all? The Hanged Man’s Noose, the first in my Glass Dolphin Mystery series, is a cozy mystery, albeit without any cats, crafts, or cookie recipes. Set in the fictional town of Lount’s Landing, a town named after a real-life nineteenth-century Canadian politician hanged for treason, the book’s title comes from the name of the local pub. The premise—greedy developer comes to small town with plans to build a mega-box store on historic Main Street, thereby threatening the livelihoods of the independent shop owners—is one that resonates with many. I simply took the premise and asked: “What if someone was willing to murder to stop it?”

Blurb: Freelance writer Emily Garland is cash-strapped, newly single, and tired of reporting on the same old condo stats. When she’s offered a lucrative assignment in the village of Lount’s Landing, she decides to take a chance. All she has to do is relocate and uncover the real story behind a proposed redevelopment plan. What could possibly go wrong?

Plenty, as it turns out. Not everyone is happy with real estate mogul Garrett Stonehaven’s plans to convert an old schoolhouse into a mega-box store. At the top of the list is Arabella Carpenter, the outspoken owner of The Glass Dolphin antiques shop, who will do just about anything to preserve the integrity of the town’s historic Main Street.

But Arabella is not alone in her opposition. Before long, a vocal dissenter dies. A few days later, another body is discovered. Though both deaths are ruled accidental, Emily’s suspicions are aroused.

Putting her interview skills to the ultimate test, Emily teams up with Arabella to discover the truth behind Stonehaven’s latest scheme—before the murderer strikes again. 

Excerpt: Arabella Carpenter arrived at the Glass Dolphin to find a slender woman in a thin coat shivering by the front door. Arabella had made similar wardrobe miscalculations in November, a month where the prevailing Lount’s Landing winds could be as unpredictable as an eBay auction.

“Sorry to keep you waiting, but we’re not open until Saturday,” Arabella said, pointing to a sign in the window. Something was vaguely familiar about the woman, though she couldn’t stick a pin in it. Early thirties. Hazel eyes with a bit of a fleck. Dark brown hair tied into a ponytail, a red knit beret sloped back from her forehead. She wears it well, Arabella thought with a touch of envy. Her own attempts at beret wearing had resulted in the rather unflattering look of a Victorian shower cap crossed with a tea cozy.

Mind you, the Coach handbag Beret Girl carried was definitely a knockoff. The single rows of Coach’s signature C’s, versus double, the way the C’s didn’t quite line up at the center. It was a dead giveaway.

Arabella prided herself on her ability to spot the real from the reproduction. The antiques world was full of fakes. But not the Glass Dolphin. Within her walls, everything would be original, from the exposed beam ceiling and the carefully restored pine plank floors to the merchandise she sold.

Authenticity mattered. 

The Hanged Man’s Noose is available in trade paperback at all the usual suspects, in e-book on Kindle, Kobo, Nook, Google Play, and Apple Books, and in audiobook format on Audible, Apple Books, and Amazon. Regularly priced at $4.99 in e-book, Noose is currently on sale for .99 until March 10th.

Buy Links:


Friday, March 1, 2019

On Becoming a Warrior by Joanne Guidoccio #fearless #mystery #cancersurvivor


There are all kinds of fearless, and Joanne is an amazing kind of fearless. Anyone who stands up to cancer is a warrior.

When Lynda Carter assumed the role of Diana Prince/Wonder Woman in the 1970s television series, I made a point of watching each program. Eyes glued to the screen, I waited with anticipation for the inevitable displays of Amazonian power. I especially liked watching Diana fling the magic lasso and use her golden belt and bracelets to deflect bullets.

She was the ultimate warrior, one that I hoped someday to emulate.

Alas, I was the ultimate non-athlete who shied away from athletic challenges and activities. In my workplace and interpersonal relationships, I preferred to adopt a non-confrontational stance that served me well (or appeared to serve me well) for almost five decades.

All that changed on a beautiful Friday morning in mid-May, five months short of my fiftieth birthday.

I can recall almost every detail of that day, even what I was wearing: black capris with a striped, pink blouse that I had purchased the previous week. Within minutes of arriving at a medical building in downtown Guelph, I was greeted by a female surgeon who invited me into her office.

She tried to reassure me as she gave her diagnosis—Stage IIIB breast cancer—but her beautiful smile couldn’t quite reach Arctic blue eyes glistening with tears She mentioned margins and the inability to clear them, skirting around those unspeakable words: The tumor was inoperable.

She then spoke of having chemotherapy first to shrink the tumor, followed by a radical mastectomy and radiation.

Fate—disguised as a cancer diagnosis—had plunked an enormous mountain in front of me. I had no choice but to climb. While I did go through a brief period of anger and bitterness, I didn’t get stuck there. The speed at which everyone and everything moved didn’t allow me to wallow in self-pity or spend too much time lamenting past choices.

I read all the recommended literature, listened carefully to my healthcare team, showed up for all the treatments, and focused primarily on my well-being. It was the first time in my life that I was fully present for each day. As for the future, I don’t recall giving it much thought over the ten months of treatments.

At a luncheon I attended partway through radiation, I overheard one of my colleagues referring to me as a warrior. Bald and scarred, I was taken aback by the moniker but recovered quickly enough to thank him. While I wasn’t wearing a skin-tight superhero costume or flinging a magic lasso, I was surviving and somewhat thriving during the most challenging season of my life.

Postscript: In November of 2019, I will be celebrating 15 years of cancer-free living. 

About the Gilda Greco Mystery Series

A cross between Miss Marple, Jessica Fletcher, and Cher (Moonstruck), protagonist Gilda Greco brings a unique perspective to the amateur female sleuth.

The teacher-turned-lottery winner returns to her hometown, only to find herself embroiled in a series of murder investigations. Before you start imaging thrillers with high stakes and police chases, pause and take a yoga breath. The three novels in the series—A Season for Killing Blondes, Too Many Women in the Room, A Different Kind of Reunion—are cozy mysteries, written in the Agatha Christie tradition. All the crimes take place “off stage” with very few graphic details provided.

While the pace may be more relaxed than that of thrillers and police procedurals, there are no steaming cups of herbal teas, overstuffed chairs, or purring cats in these contemporary cozies. Prepare yourself for interfering relatives who don’t always respect boundaries, adult mean girls, deserving and undeserving men, multiple suspects, and lots of Italian food.

Buy Links

A member of Crime Writers of Canada, Sisters in Crime, and Romance Writers of America, Joanne Guidoccio writes cozy mysteries, paranormal romance, and inspirational literature from her home base of Guelph, Ontario. 

Where to find Joanne Guidoccio