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Wednesday, September 2, 2015

New Mystery Releases 9/1/15

It is the first day of the month, and we already have a "first Tuesday" with a wealth of new mystery releases! Included in today's new releases are:

  • Victoria Abbott's The Marsh Madness, the 4th book in the Book Collector cozy mystery series
  • Susan Wittig Albert's The Darling Dahlias and the Eleven O'clock Lady, the latest in her Darling Dahlias historical cozy mystery series
  • Josie Belle's All Sales Final, the fifth book in her Good Buy Girls cozy mystery series from Berkley Prime Crime
  • James Benn's historical mystery The White Ghost, the 10th book in his Billy Boyle series
  • Jenna Bennett's Busman's Honeymoon, the Savannah Martin honeymoon novella
  • Catherine Bruns' Tastes Like Murder, the debut of her Cookies & Chance culinary cozy mystery series from Gemma Halliday Publishing (has a short term special debut price of only 99c for Kindle!) 
  • Andrea Camilleri's A Beam of Light, the 19th book in his Inspector Montalbano series
  • Carol Carson's Uneasy in New Orleans, the debut of her Big Easy humorous cozy mystery series
  • Maia Chance's Cinderella Six Feet Under, the second book in her Fairy Tale Fatal cozy mystery series 
  • Erika Chase's Law and Author, the fifth book in her Ashton Corners Book Club cozy mystery series
  • Margaret Coel's The Man Who Fell From the Sky, a Wind River mystery
  • Stephen Dobyns' comic suspense novel Is Fat Bob Dead Yet?
  • Kay Finch's Black Cat Crossing, the debut of her Bad Luck Cat cozy mystery series from Berkley Prime Crime
  • Sabrina Flynn's historical mystery A Bitter Draught, the second on her Ravenwood Detective Agency series
  • Angie Fox's The Skeleton in the Closet, the second book in her Southern Ghost Hunter series 
  • Shelley Freydont's Trick or Deceit, the fourth book in her Celebration Bay cozy mystery series
  • Eva Gates' Booked for Trouble, the second book in her Lighthouse Library cozy mystery series
  • Nancy Haddock's Basket Case, the debut of her Silver Six Crafting cozy mystery series from Berkley Prime Crime
  • Dianne Harman's Murder at the Cooking School, the seventh book in her Cedar Cove cozy mystery series (bargain priced at 99c for Kindle)
  • Cora Harrison's A Shameful Murder, the debut of her Reverend Mother mystery series set in 1920s Ireland
  • Lily Harper Hart's Deadly Storm, the 12th book in her Hardy Brothers Security series 
  • Heather Haven's The Chocolate Kiss-Off, the third book in her Persephone Cole Vintage mystery series
  • David Lagercrantz's The Girl in the Spider's Web, the fourth book in Stieg Larsson's Lisbeth Salander/Millennium series
  • Joyce and Jim Lavene's Be My Banshee, the debut of their Purple Door Detective Agency mystery series
  • Molly MacRae's Knot the Usual Suspects, a Haunted Yarn Shop cozy mystery
  • Summer Prescott's Murder by Lime, the fourth book in her Key West culinary cozy series
  • Deanna Raybourn's A Curious Beginning, the debut of her Veronica Speedwell Victorian historical mystery series
  • Eric Rickstad's Lie In Wait, a small town Vermont mystery from the author of The Silent Girls
  • Denise Swanson's Murder of an Open Book, the 18th book in her Scumble River cozy series 
  • MJ Trow's Secret World, a Tudor historical mystery featuring Kit Marlowe
  • Lois Winston's Revenge of the Crafty Corpse, the third book in her Anastasia Pollack Crafting cozy mystery series

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

The Thorny Rose Detectives— Imperfect Perfect Couple...a Guest Post By Lauren Carr

We are so excited to bring you not only a guest post from Lauren Carr, author of the Mac Faraday and Thorny Rose mysteries, but also an excerpt of Lauren's latest novel, Kill and Run.  The first book in the Thorny Rose Detective series, Kill and Run is due out September 4th!

The Thorny Rose Detectives— Imperfect Perfect Couple
Guest Post
By Lauren Carr

Have you ever met the perfect couple? You know the type. The man is eye candy to the ladies. The woman has a perfect figure and a fabulous wardrobe.

Not only that, but they actually sync with each other. They are able to communicate without words. They each know what the other is thinking and are in complete agreement.

In other words, they never argue.

They complement each other. Where he is weak, she is strong.

I’m talking about the type of couples that make you look at your own spouse and think, “Cupid had to have been SUI (Shooting Under the Influence) when he shot those arrows to bring us together.”

The reality is this—there’s no such thing as a perfect couple. That’s okay.

Imperfect couples have more fun—especially when they are in the early phases of learning about each other. Some of my husband’s and my funnest times have been when we were learning amazing and scary things about each other. After twenty-six years of marriage, our fondest memories are of those less-than-perfect moments where we would discover something new, exciting, and Oh-My-Gosh-Are-You-Kidding-Me? about each other.

One fight that I still love to tell people about today occurred on our first anniversary.

My mother had rented a beach house on the Outer Banks for us to vacation at for a week. In October, the weather was still warm enough to lay out on the beach. Yet, it was off season, so we pretty much had the place to ourselves.
This was when I discovered that my husband does not like laying out on the beach doing nothing! Before we left to go on our vacation to relax, my husband had made a list of everything we were going to do during our week long getaway. By day four, we had completed everything on his list. Yet, we still had three days left to our seven day rental—which was all paid for by my mother!

“Okay, so we completed everything on our list. Now we can lay on the beach and relax,” I replied when my hubby said he was ready to go home.

Showing me his list, he said, “We did that on Saturday. Time to go home.” 

Yep, sure enough, he had checked off “Lay on the Beach.”

“Then let’s do it again,” I said.

“You mean lay on the beach all day, every day, for the rest of our vacation … doing nothing?”

You would have thought I had suggested robbing a bank—naked!

That was when I discovered, one year after we were married, that my husband will never make a good beach bum. If I want to do nothing on my vacation, I need to do it alone or take one of my less energetic friends along.

This is the case for Lieutenant Murphy Thornton and Jessica Faraday, my newlywed detectives of the Thorny Rose Mysteries. They are not in perfect sync with each other. A graduate of the Naval Academy, Murphy is an officer who prides himself of being in perfect control—especially when it comes to his diet. He is a pescatarian. He eats fish, but no other meat. He believes in clean eating, staying away from dairy, refined sugar, and other goodies. Meanwhile, Jessica enjoys chocolate Pop-Tarts for breakfast.

Married only four months, they are still in the discovery phase of their relationship, which leads to some lively, even sexy banters in Kill and Run, which you can enjoy in this excerpt below:

On Pennsylvania Avenue, Jessica Faraday restrained herself from checking the time on her cell resting next to her clutch bag on the table top. It was way after seven o’clock and she was alone at the table for two at the Four Seasons. She had reserved a table next to the windows that provided an excellent night view of Washington, D.C., in all its dazzling glory.

She was alone—just her and her purple martini.

Murphy was late.

Suck it up, Buttercup. You married a hunk who is passionate about doing whatever it takes to make things right. The gold of her wedding band caught in the glow of the lit candle on the table. She wrapped her fingers—tipped with elegantly painted fingernails sporting hand-painted violets—around the stem of her martini glass and took a sip. If it means being late for your celebratory dinner, so be it. This is only the first of probably a long line of missed dates.

Her violet eyes lit up at the sight of the handsome man in his white uniform rounding the corner with the host. When he flashed his charming grin, complete with dimples in both cheeks, her heart skipped a beat. Catching her breath, she wet her lips and smoothed her raven hair. Geez, Jessie, this isn’t your first date.

As they neared the table, Jessica noticed that Murphy was not alone. While he had his hat tucked under one arm, his right hand clasped that of a slender girl with a head full of ash blonde curls and the saddest red eyes one could imagine. Her tiny frame and face made her light brown eyes appear that much bigger.

As they grew closer, the maître d’, a short, jolly man by the name of Francesco, was telling Murphy in a thick Italian accent that they would move them to a bigger table.

“Thank you very much.” Murphy slipped some money to the host. He flashed an apologetic grin in Jessica’s direction. “I’m sorry we’re so much trouble.”

“No trouble at all, sir.” Francesco flashed a smile at the sad young girl. He then directed them to a table for four in the middle of the restaurant, away from the windows that Jessica had requested. “Suitable for you, Mr. Murphy?”

Placing his hand on Jessica’s shoulder, Murphy kissed her quickly on the ear before whispering, “I’ll explain.”

Seeing the girl’s tear stained face, Jessica cut him off. “No need.” Grabbing her purse, cell phone and martini, she told the host, “That table is excellent. Thank you so much, Francesco.” She saw Murphy sigh with relief.

“Anything for you, Miss Jessica.” With a grin, Francesco dropped the linen napkin into Jessica’s lap.

“This is Izzy Crenshaw,” Murphy introduced the girl while holding her chair for her. “Izzy, this is my wife, Jessica.”

Wordlessly, Izzy looked Jessica up and down. In her colorful soft dress, long bare legs, and high-heeled shoes, Jessica was a complete contrast from the girl clad in jeans and a faded Hard Rock Café t-shirt.

“Izzy is in my protective custody.” Murphy took a seat between them.

“You’re protecting her from what?” Jessica asked while Francesco offered her the wine menu. The maître d’ had learned from their many dinners at the restaurant that Jessica would order the wine for herself, while Murphy drank only water with lemon.

“Right now, the system,” Murphy said. “You should have seen the place they put her. She has no family—”

“You have no family?” Jessica asked the girl.

“That is so very sad,” Making a “task-tsk” noise with his tongue, Francesco shook his head.

Signaled by the snap of Francesco’s fingers, the server hurried over with three menus for them.

“Mom used to have a sister,” Izzy said to Murphy. “She died before I was born. Mom told me that I was just as head-strong as she was.” Her voice trailed off.

Jessica and Murphy exchanged heartfelt glances.

“I’ll have water and a plate of lemon wedges,” Murphy requested from the server before asking Izzy in an upbeat tone, “What would you like, Izzy? You can get anything you want.”

Seeing the girl’s sad expression, the server said, “Even if it’s not on the menu. Our chef is world famous. He can cook you anything. You name it.”

Izzy stared at the menu without opening it. “I’m not hungry.”

“Have you had dinner yet?” Spotting a dessert cart being wheeled passed the table, Jessica asked the server, “Do you have your delicious chocolate lava cake and a scoop of ice cream?” The server rushed to the kitchen to check on the item.

“It’s okay, honey,” Murphy told Izzy, “I wasn’t hungry for the longest time when my mother passed away. When you’re ready to eat, then you’ll eat.”

“She has to keep her strength up,” Jessica said. “We can’t take her home and put her to bed without dinner.”

“She’s in mourning,” Murphy reminded her.

“Which is why we need to feed her,” Jessica said. “Chocolate makes everything better. It won’t solve the problem or take away the hurt, but it does soften the sting of the pain.”

“Bull,” he replied. “That’s nothing more than an old wive’s rationalization for endorsing gluttony. Grief is no excuse to pack yourself full of processed dairy products and refined sugar.”

“One little lava cake for one dinner isn’t going to kill her,” Jessica said.

They both observed Izzy staring at her plate seemingly without seeing it. She didn’t appear to have any interest in the outcome of their discussion.

“What happens when she crashes?” Murphy asked Jessica. “She downs a tube of chocolate chip cookie dough and begins the cycle over again. Before she’ll know it, she’ll be a depressed obese diabetic with heart disease.”

“It’s cake,” Jessica said, “not heroin.”

The server arrived to announce that the chef would be glad to prepare the lava cake with a scoop of ice cream. “Would you like me to put in the order for the young lady?”

In unison, Jessica said “yes” while Murphy said a resolute “no.” A glare from Jessica prompted Murphy to back down. With a roll of his eyes and a shrug of his shoulders, he gave in and the server hurried off to put in the order for the lava cake.

For the first time since Murphy had met her, a hint of a smile crossed Izzy’s face. With the tilt of his head, he caught Jessica’s attention to point out the small breakthrough in the young girl.

At the sight of the young girl’s sadness easing slightly, Murphy was reminded of the surprise that Jessica had promised. Reaching across the table to caress her fingers with his, his eyes met hers. A soft, reassuring smile came to her lips.

Unable to wait any longer to learn her surprise, Murphy excused them both for a moment, took Jessica by the hand, and led her to the lounge. Making sure he kept Izzy, his responsibility, in his line of sight, he pulled Jessica close and kissed her long and hard on the mouth.

When she came up for air, Jessica breathed, “What was that for?”

“For being understanding about Izzy.” He gazed into her face. “You reminded me of what made me fall in love with you so fast.”

“I thought it was my body that made you fall hard for me.” She winked up at him. 

Mystery—The Next Generation

Five women with seemingly nothing in common are found brutally murdered in a townhome outside Washington, DC. Among the many questions surrounding the massacre is what had brought these apparent strangers together only to be killed.
Taking on his first official murder case, Lieutenant Murphy Thornton, USN, believes that if he can uncover the thread connecting the victims, then he can find their murderer.
The case takes an unexpected turn when Murphy discovers that one of the victims has a connection to his stepmother, Homicide Detective Cameron Gates. One wintry night, over a dozen years before, her first husband, a Pennsylvania State trooper, had been run down while working a night shift on the turnpike.
In Kill and Run, best-selling mystery author Lauren Carr delights her fans by merging the son and daughter of the detectives from her two popular series for a new series—the Thorny Rose Mysteries. Fans were introduced to Murphy Thornton, the son of Joshua Thornton from Lovers in Crime Mysteries, and Jessica Faraday, the daughter of Mac Faraday from the Mac Faraday Mysteries, in the widely-acclaimed and best-selling Three Days to Forever, which was released in January 2015.
The match-up surprised even the author. “I thought long and hard about bringing Murphy and Jessica together,” Lauren confesses. “I had developed each of the characters separately. Murphy appeared in my very first book, A Small Case of Murder. At that time, he was only sixteen and his mother had recently passed away. Jessica appeared briefly in Old Loves Die Hard and I had no thought while writing that book of pairing her up with Murphy. I was as surprised as anyone when their characters ended up being a perfect match in Three Days to Forever.”
A perfect match they are! Lauren Carr’s newest series is hot and sexy, like her newest detectives. Lauren warns, “Some readers may be surprised to see that I push the envelope just a little bit more in The Thorny Rose Mysteries than I do in my other series. Due to the combination of my detectives’ youth and the environment (the Nation’s Capital), it was virtually impossible to keep things completely pure.” Some readers may notice a few more curse words (no F-bombs allowed!) and sexual references, which Lauren will confine only to the Thorny Rose Mysteries. “What can I say?” Lauren says with a sigh. “Washington, DC, is not Spencer or Chester.”
In this first installment of the Thorny Rose Mysteries, the Lovers in Crime join newlyweds Murphy Thornton and Jessica Faraday to sift through a web of lies and cover-ups. Together, can the detectives of the Thorny Rose uncover the truth without falling victim to a cunning killer?

About the Author
An Amazon All-Star author, Lauren Carr is the creator of three popular mystery series: the Mac Faraday Mysteries, The Lovers in Crime Mysteries, and now the Thorny Rose Mysteries. Kill and Run is the first installment of The Thorny Rose Mysteries. Each of Lauren Carr’s mysteries have made Amazon’s best-seller ranking internationally.
In addition to her series set on Deep Creek Lake, Lauren Carr has also written the Lovers in Crime Mysteries, which features prosecutor Joshua Thornton with homicide detective Cameron Gates, who were introduced in Shades of Murder, the third book in the Mac Faraday Mysteries. They also make an appearance in The Lady Who Cried Murder.
The owner of Acorn Book Services, Lauren is also a publishing manager, consultant, editor, cover and layout designer, and marketing agent for independent authors. This year, several books, over a variety of genre, written by independent authors will be released through the management of Acorn Book Services, which is currently accepting submissions. Visit Acorn Book Services website for more information.
Lauren is a popular speaker who has made appearances at schools, youth groups, and on author panels at conventions. She also passes on what she has learned in her years of writing and publishing by conducting workshops and teaching in community education classes.
She lives with her husband, son, and three dogs on a mountain in Harpers Ferry, WV.
Visit Lauren Carr’s website at www.mysterylady.net to learn more about Lauren and her upcoming mysteries.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Why Self-Publish? A Guest Post and Giveaway from J. Frank James

Author J. Frank James is joining us today to share a guest post on the benefits of self-publishing as well as an excerpt from his new book, Dead Money Run, the first book in the Lou Malloy Crime Series.  He is also offering a free Kindle copy of Dead Money Run to one lucky reader who loves a good hard-boiled thriller.  Check out the giveaway details at the end of this post to find out how to enter.  UPDATE:  Congratulations to Barbara Hawk for winning the free copy of Dead Money Run!

Why Self-Publish?

by  J. Frank James

This is a question that has no simple answer. After publishing my tenth book, the answer that best fits my situation is simply it lets me control my future as a writer. By that I mean, I am the master of my own fate. I am not sure everyone would agree with me and there are a lot of environments that do not accept a self-published manuscript from a promotion standpoint, but trust me, it is the future.

If writer is looking for instant cash, it is going to happen regardless of what you are going to do in the way of publishing. However, if you want to get the real experience of writing and see it in print, then by all means self-publish.

Is self-publishing for everyone? No. The publishing houses still have the edge in promoting a book, but that is not going to last long. Amazon is the five hundred pound gorilla and they will only get larger. Eventually, they will larger than all the other publishing vehicles combined. That said, you might as well get on board.

So what is the future of self-publishing? Quite simply, the sky is the limit. Today, you can produce your own cover, produce the written copy, market you product as writer and generally go direct to your reader. As a preparation, there are several things that I would recommend. One, get a good website for yourself. There are a lot of web providers who will provide formats to get this accomplished. One that I would recommend is a company called Powweb, www.powweb.com. Powweb has a product called Weebly. There you will have access to templates that will allow you to build your site and control the content without a whole lot of trouble. If I can do it, anyone can. Next, there is the marketing. Make sure you put your book on Amazon’s Kindle Select program as well as their Createspace unit. Kindle Select is Amazon’s ebook format and Creatspace is the paperback product. The good thing about these services is that they allow you to self-market your book as well as track sales and so forth. It is a no brainer.

After you have muscled your way through this process, we yourself a good proofreader. Make sure they have experience in the genre in which you write your book. A proofreader who proofs technical journals is not someone you want to proofread fiction. Trust me. I have been there and done that. Next get a publicist. Now here this election can get tricky. Don’t over pay for the service, but don’t get taken to the cleaners either. Expect to pay on average around $1,000 per month. Some will want more during the first three months of the exercise. They do this because to properly promote a book from the initial stage there are is a lot of upfront effort necessary to get things off the ground.
Well, you are now ready to put your first book out there for the world to see. What’s next? Why the next book, of course.

Excerpt from Dead Money Run


The warden was a small man, but dressed neatly. Everything about him was neat-from his hair to his shoes. He was almost too neat.
“So what are your plans, Lou?”
When I walked into the room, the warden turned over a little hour-glass full of sand. We both watched it for a few seconds and then looked at each other. This was the first time I ever met the man. What did he care about me now? Since he never cared before, I figured the man was just looking for information. Perhaps he wanted to give me a warning. I didn’t say anything.
“Do you ever think about time, Lou?”
“After fifteen years, what do you think?” I said.
He smiled and said, “Most valuable thing we have and no one seems to mourn its passing until it’s too late.”
I had nothing to say to that. Conversations with a prison warden came with a lot of maybes. While in prison I trained myself to watch a man’s hands. If he rubbed his hands in a washing motion, he was lying. If he messed with his fingernails, he wasn’t interested in the conversation. The warden was rubbing his hands as if he had touched something distasteful.
“I haven’t given it a lot of thought, Warden Edwards.”
“Call me John, Lou. We’re friends now,” Edwards said while rubbing his hands in a determined kind of way.
So now we were friends. I wanted to tell him he was a liar, but my better judgment stopped me. Probably a good way to delay my release-things get lost, papers go unsigned. Things happen.
“Okay, John,” I said.
“You know, we never found the fifteen million,” he said.
“I didn’t know you were looking for it.”
I watched his eyes flicker briefly. I seemed to hit a sweet spot.
“No, Lou. You misunderstand,” he said as he caught himself. “There is a reward for the recovery of the money. Did you know that?”
Edwards said it more as a statement than a question. I said nothing and waited. Edwards shifted in his chair and started to rub his hands again.
“It would be in your best interest to tell them what you know.”
“Who’s the ‘them’ John?” I asked.
“They’re the people looking for the money.”
I thought about that for a few moments. The statement covered a lot of ground.
“Since I didn’t take the money in the first place, I don’t have anything to tell them. They need to ask the people that took it,” I said.
Edwards was smiling now and he stopped rubbing his hands.
“There are some people that think you do.”
“I can’t help what people think.”
“Ten percent,” he said.
“Ten percent of what,” I said.
“The money, Lou. Ten percent of fifteen million is a lot of money.”
“I hadn’t heard about that,” I said.
“Yeah, it seems the Indian casino had insurance. The insurance company that paid off on the claim put up a ten percent reward for the return of the money. A million five is a lot of money.”
“I hope they find it,” I said.
Edwards blinked his eyes signaling he was moving on to something else.
“Sorry to hear about your sister,” he said. “I understand they are doing all they can to find her killer.”
Edwards was a real card and running out of things to say. On any other day, in any other place, he would be dead or wishing he was.
“Thanks, John. Your words are real comforting,” I said and returned my gaze to the little hourglass and the sand as it accumulated on the bottom.
I had nothing else to say except make him happy. Make them all happy. Just one big happy group sitting around smiling at each other; happy, happy, now let’s just get the money and spread it all around and we can go on being happy. In the meantime my sister lies in a hole feeding worms. I had money on the worms being real happy. No word on how my sister felt.
Edwards looked disappointed when I didn’t add to our conversation.
“Lou, it might be a good idea for you to help them find the money. It could be a big windfall.”
Now we were getting somewhere. Just like all the rest of the treasure hunters, the miserable bastard was just in it for the money.
“Windfall for who, John? Me or you?”
As if tasting a lemon, Edwards twisted his face and, at the same time, waived his hands at an imaginary fly.
“I’m not sure what you mean, Lou. I’m just trying to give you a head start. If it was my decision, you would still be with us. Fifteen million dollars is a lot of money to lose.”
“It still is,” I said.
I sat and watched Edwards shift in his chair some more. We had nothing left to talk about. I could feel him working out in his mind how he was going to present his failure to get a lead out of me on the money.
“So, what are you going to do now?” Edwards said.
Finally, I had enough.
“Leave. Isn’t that what we all do?”
His smile vanished. He knew he was wasting his time on someone who had maxed out. He also knew he couldn’t hold me. There would be no parole violation with the threat to re-incarcerate me. No work release effort to rehabilitate me. Just a new suit made in the prison cut and sew area and a hundred bucks was the sum total of it. That probably hadn’t changed since the 30s. I wondered if Al Capone wore the suit they gave him when he got out.
We were both looking at the little hourglass of sand now. The sand had drained from the top of the glass to the bottom. Suddenly, as if being shot out of a cannon, we both stood up. Edwards stuck out his hand. I turned and left the room. I didn’t shake his hand. I didn’t want to touch him.

About the Lou Malloy Series

Lou Malloy learns of his sister's death right before he is released from prison, having served 15 years for the theft of $15 million from an Indian casino. He wants two things: to keep the $15 million, which no one has been able to find, and to track down and punish whoever killed his sister.   

Lou Malloy teams up with Hilary Kelly, a private investigator. In no time, Lou has found the hidden $15 million, recovered guns and ammunition hidden with the money, and murdered two low-level mobsters and fed them to the crocodiles.

As the body count rises, the story grows more complex and his sister's death becomes more mysterious.   

Praise for Dead Money Run:

"Dead Money Run is a hard-boiled thriller. It is a book of short chapters and almost unrelenting excitement as Lou and Hillary Kelly avoid cops, kill mobsters, and try to unravel the mystery of who killed Lou's sister and why.” - Reviewed by Wally Wood at BookPleasures.com

“Fans of James Ellroy and Elmore Leonard are going to love James’ ingenious capers, devious characters and wry humor. The entire book goes down like a strong yet smooth shot of bourbon.” - Reviewed by BestThrillers.com

"DeadMoney Run by J. Frank James is a pure adrenalin rush from the very beginning. Yes, it is very violent with some strong language, but filled with excitement that keeps the reader wanting to know what comes next." - Reviewed by Paul Johnson for Readers' Favorite

“J. Frank James did a very nice job constructing a fast moving plot for Dead Money Run. It is intriguing and thrilling. However, the reader should be prepared for a bit of gruesome violence. Yet, the violence doesn’t override the mystery and suspense within the story. Hold on to whatever it is that you’re sitting on as you read this story, because James is about to take you on a wild ride.” – Reviewed by Red City Review

About the Author:

J. Frank James has a passion for writing, and he certainly has the knowledge and experience to write realistic crime thrillers, thanks to his extensive background in law. Jim attended law school, where he was a member of the law review. He even went on to pass the state bar and started his own law practice that specialized in complex litigation. Jim's experience in law helps lend credibility to his crime fiction books. He has also traveled extensively and gains inspiration for his crime thrillers from his travels. From observing other cultures and gaining new experiences, Jim is able to infuse new life into his books and develop believable characters that readers can identify with.

J. Frank James writes crime thriller novels that are gripping and suspenseful. He is the author of the Lou Malloy Crime Series and the Indigo Marsh Detective Series.

J. Frank James is also an artist and he creates all of his own book covers.

To learn more, go to http://www.jfrankjamesbooks.com/

Connect with J. Frank James on Twitter, Goodreads, and Facebook.

Win a Kindle Copy of Dead Money Run

Please comment below to enter the giveaway!  Share this post on social media for a second entry; just comment and let us know you did so.  Please Note:  If you are commenting anonymously, please leave your full Facebook name or email address so that we may contact you if you are the winner.  Winners will be chosen via random number generator at noon EST on Tuesday, July 21st.  The contest is now closed!  Thanks for entering!

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Interview with and Excerpt from Joe Cosentino, author of the Nicky and Noah series

Joe Cosentino kindly joins us today with a Q&A and excerpt from his recently released mystery/comedy/romance, Drama Queen, featuring sleuths Nicky and Noah.   In addition to being an author, Joe is a talented actor and theater professor.  Drama Queen takes advantage of his experience and gives us a funny and entertaining peek into the theater world. Thanks for stopping in, Joe!!

Hello, Joe. Thank you for interviewing with us today.

My pleasure.

When did you start writing?

I’ve always been a storyteller. As a kid I was the star of the plays in my friend’s garage. We forced our poor, unsuspecting parents to watch every one—including the lavish musicals! After college I became a professional actor, working in film, television, and theatre opposite stars like Rosie O’Donnell, Nathan Lane, Bruce Willis, Charles Keating, Jason Robards, and Holland Taylor. Moving on to playwriting and ultimately writing novels seemed like an obvious next step.

How was it acting with all those celebrities?

In each case, I worked with them before they became famous, and in each case they were gracious, hard-working, kind, and very funny. I did an AT&T Industrial with Rose O’Donnell, A Midsummer Night’s Dream onstage with Bruce Willis, Roar of the Greasepaint onstage with Nathan Lane, a Commercial Credit Computer commercial with Jason Robards, NBC’s Another World with Charles Keating, and ABC’s My Mother Was Never a Kid with Holland Taylor.

Is Drama Queen your first novel?

I wrote a mystery/romance series about an ex-child star, the Jana Lane mysteries. Paper Doll is out now. Porcelain Doll and Satin Doll should follow soon. I also wrote the well-received An Infatuation, an MM romance novella published by Dreamspinner Press.

How did Lethe Press come to publish Drama Queen?

I noticed Lethe Press publishes many humorous, theatrically-styled gay books, and the company has been successful for fourteen years. After I submitted the manuscript, Steve Berman offered to publish it, saying he had great fun reading it. I think like all my writing, DramaQueen has amazing crossover appeal and will be enjoyed by gay and straight people alike. A good story is a good story. Funny is funny. A great mystery is a great mystery.

How many books have your written so far in this series?

Three: Drama Queen, Drama Muscle, and Drama Cruise. In Drama Queen, Nicky and Noah have to uncover why college theatre professors are dropping like stage curtains while Nicky directs the college play production—a murder mystery. In Drama Muscle, Nicky and Noah have to find out why musclemen are dropping like weights in the Physical Education department while Nicky directs the Student Bodybuilding Competition. In Drama Cruise, Nicky and Noah go on a cruise to Alaska, and discover why college theatre professors are going overboard like lifeboats while Nicky directs a murder mystery dinner theatre show onboard ship. In the fourth novel (not written yet), Drama Luau, Nicky and Noah will go to Hawaii to direct a luau show, where muscular hula dancers are dropping like grass skirts.

Why did you write a mystery/comedy/romance series?

Can’t we all use a good laugh, a challenging brain twister, and a bit of romance? Drama Queen is the kind of book I like reading. It is funny, theatrical, sexy, wild, and wacky with a solid mystery full of plot twists and turns at its center.

How do you think up all the clues, red herrings, and surprises in the novel?

I’ve read every Agatha Christie novel and play many times. She is a genius at outlining when and where to give the reader what information. I love the inversion in her books, where she uses sleight of hand to lay out all the information, but not in a straight forward manner. The reader becomes the sleuth to put all the pieces of the puzzle together. I tried to do the same in this series.

Since you are a college theatre professor, is the series based on you, your colleagues, and students?

Do you mean if anybody at my college ticks me off, I kill him/her in the series? Hah. To be honest, I like my colleagues and students too much to murder them in my books. Martin Anderson, Nicky and Noah’s department head, is based on me. He’s a loyal, hardworking department head and professor who fully supports his faculty colleagues, office assistant, and the students in his department. Like me, he is also a little bit, well quite a bit, of a gossip. My knowledge of theatre is also very evident in the series. The other characters and the location came from my head.

Who was your favorite character to write in Drama Queen?

Nicky has such amazing wit, perseverance in the face of adversity, and smarts. I love his sense of determination in not only nabbing the murderer, but also getting his man—Noah. Nicky knows that he wants and how to get it. He is genuinely concerned for others, and he wants to help them. He also has no problem taking on the role of hero. Finally, he is a one-man man, and Nicky is proud to admit that man is Noah Oliver.

Which character was the hardest to write?

Loptu Lee, the Playwriting professor is a scream. She has two different personalities, either of which come out at the most inopportune times and places.

What are the rules for writing a good mystery?

Here are my rules. Give the clues early. There’s nothing worse than reading a mystery and not getting any clues until the end. That’s cheating. Camouflage your clues and put in a number of red herrings. A mystery should have more than mystery. Like any novel, it should have interesting characters, a strong plot with lots of twists and turns, and a satisfying ending. In my case, it also needs a heavy dose of wacky humor.

Is Drama Queen available as an ebook and paperbook?

Yes, this gives the reader an option to read it on a Kindle, Nook, computer, or with book in hand on the beach or in bed. The audiobook should be out in about a month.

Do you see this as a TV series?

Yes! And I want to play Martin Anderson. Couldn’t you see Matt Bomer as Nicky and Neil Patrick Harris as Noah? This will give The Hardy Boys a run for their money.

How can your readers get their hands on Drama Queen, and how can they contact you?

The purchase links for Drama Queen are below, as are my contact links, including my web site. I love to hear from readers!!!

About Drama Queen
It could be curtains for college theatre professor Nicky Abbondanza. With dead bodies popping up all over campus, Nicky must use his drama skills to figure out who is playing the role of murderer before it is lights out for Nicky and his colleagues. Complicating matters is Nicky’s huge crush on Noah Oliver, a gorgeous assistant professor in his department, who may or may not be involved with a cocky graduate assistant...and is also the top suspect for the murders! You will be applauding and shouting Bravo for Joe Cosentino’s fast-paced, side-splittingly funny, edge-of-your-seat, delightfully entertaining novel. Curtain up!

Purchase the paperback from Lethe Press or Amazon 
Purchase the ebook from Smashwords
Purchase the Kindle edition from Amazon

Excerpt from Drama Queen

With the student actors and technicians sitting in the front of the theatre (obliviously texting on their phones), my student stage manager, SuCho, screamed for everyone’s attention, and for me to come to the front of the theatre house to give them my notes. This thankfully sent David off to his office in a huff.

After I had given my first few notes, I noticed Noah Oliver standing in the back of the theatre. Noah is tall and lean with curly blond hair, blue eyes, and the sweetest smile I have ever wanted to kiss in an Assistant Professor. While I teach Theatre History and Play Directing, Noah is our department’s specialist in Acting, and for good reason. Noah is a terrific actor, a creative and passionate teacher, and a wonderful colleague. More importantly, I have had a crush on him since the moment he made his entrance into our humble campus three years ago. Noah is single, gay, and seems to really like me. Why don’t I ask him out? Noah is twenty-eight years young. As a junior professor in my department in need of my vote for tenure this year, if I make a pass at him it could be considered attempted coercion on my part.

It was difficult for me to concentrate on giving my notes to the students since Scotty Bruno, my graduate assistant and Assistant Director of the play, was talking, laughing, and obviously flirting with Noah in the rear of the theatre. I had reason to be concerned. Scotty has bleached blond hair, contact lens turquoise eyes, ultra-white bonded teeth, and muscles as if sculpted by Michelangelo, housed in multi-colored, stuffed shorts and tank top (in winter) that were not unnoticed by Noah. Unless I was becoming nearsighted, I could have sworn that Scotty whispered something into Noah’s ear then handed Noah a box. What the heck is in it? Love letters? Condoms? My heart on a silver platter?

“Any notes for me, professor?” Paul Amour, my leading man, sat front row center and winked at me. Identifying as bisexual, Paul uses his charms with men and women alike to get their attention. Tall with shiny, wavy black hair climbing down his neck, chiseled features, and a body like a Greek god, getting attention wasn’t too difficult for Paul.

“You were like terrific tonight, Paul. I really believed you were like the murderer!” Ricky Gonzalez, Paul’s co-star and last onstage murder victim, sat next to Paul like an art dealer admiring the Mona Lisa. Ricky is shorter and darker than Paul with a smaller but equally cut physique. After he graduates from college and gets over his crush on Paul, Ricky will no doubt make some guy a wonderful husband.

“Thanks, Ricky.” Paul squeezed one of Ricky’s abdominal muscles.

Ricky beamed like a floodlight.

Kayla Calloway and Jan Annondale, who play murder victims one and two in the play, sat on the other side of Paul to reward their peripheral visions. Zaftig, giggly, and insecure, they hung on Paul’s every word, wishing they could hang on Paul.

“Your fight scenes were totally awesome tonight, Paul,” said Kayla.

Jan added, “And you really like aced your cool monologue at the end of the play.”

Before Paul could sign autographs, I said, “I have five more pages of notes tonight, people. Can I have everyone’s attention?” 

About the Author

Joe Cosentino is the author of Drama Queen the first Nicky and Noah mystery (Lethe Press), An Infatuation (Dreamspinner Press), Paper Doll the first Jana Lane mystery (Whiskey Creek Press), and The Nutcracker and the Mouse King (Eldridge Plays and Musicals). He has appeared in principal acting roles in film, television, and theatre, opposite stars such as Bruce Willis, Rosie O’Donnell, Nathan Lane, Holland Taylor, and Jason Robards. His one-act plays, Infatuation and Neighbor, were performed in New York City. He wrote The Perils of Pauline educational film (Prentice Hall Publishers). Joe is currently Head of the Department/Professor at a college in upstate New York, and is happily married. His upcoming novels are Drama Muscle the second Nicky and Noah mystery (Lethe Press), A Shooting Star (Dreamspinner Press novella), A Home for the Holidays (Dreamspinner Press holiday novella), and Porcelain Doll the second Jana Lane mystery.

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