Are you ready for this? Alana Lorens will have a new book out later this year, REMNANTS OF FIRE. Check out this new cover!
Here’s the quick story:
A bad divorce, a broken heart, a need to begin again.
These three things propel reporter Sara Woods to leave her comfortable position working for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and take the first news job that comes along, working as the new reporter for small-town Ohio’s Ralston Courier. Ralston is a sleepy little town that doesn’t seem to have much to offer this big-city girl, but her very first assignment is to investigate a dead body, a young woman found half-frozen on the side of a country road.
But soon the story on this body ties in with others, and she finds herself scrambling to come up with a common link among the dead other than the fact that they’re all young women Sara’s age.
Still recovering from a previous auto accident and struggling with chronic pain, she becomes a patient at the Goldstone Clinic, a local mecca of healing.
But all is not as it seems at the Goldstone, its doctors and nurses are all the picture of perfect beauty and health. Patients at the clinic first seem to get better, then they deteriorate. Sara enlists the help of Dr. Rick Paulsen, a doctor at the city hospital who shares her concern about the deaths of the young women, one of whom was his own patient. He teaches her through Eastern techniques how to access her internal power, skills she never knew she had, revealing secrets from her past.
Police officer Brendon Zale also takes an interest in Sara, but he acts like a stalker, watching her every move, and he won’t leave her alone. He always turns up at the most suspicious times, especially where the dead bodies are found. What’s his interest in Sara?
As she digs deeper into the story, and more young women die without explanation, she tries to choose allies wisely, but not till the last confrontation does she discover the identity of her true enemy.
By then, it’s too late.
REMNANTS OF FIRE is a supernatural mystery novel, and also a 2009 NaNoWriMo novel, and will be published by Dragonfly Publishing, Inc. (Formerly titled LOVE ME, KISS ME, KILL ME)
Phoebe Henderson is many things–a recent widow, a beautiful woman who’s looking for her next step in life, stubborn and determined–but most of all she’s her Cherokee grandmother’s granddaughter. Her grandmother taught her the ancient rituals, and has even come to Phoebe’s home in ghostly form to protect her against those who would take what belongs to her.
Perhaps the most important part of her grandmother’s legacy is the ability to keep an open mind. For when a mysterious, magical man enters Phoebe’s dreams, she find herself a new path back to life.
A sexy martial artist. A conniving oil man. A ghost on a mission. And a young woman caught in the middle of it all.
Seven years ago Phoebe promised her dying Cherokee grandmother she would solve this riddle: “Take care of the land and the land will take care of you.” Now she fights her former brother-in-law Jack for possession of her home and farm near Oklahoma City. Just as she is ready to give up, a sexy and mysterious Native American martial artist named Alex offers to help. Who is Alex and what is his connection to Jack? Why does Jack want the farm? Why has her grandmother’s ghost appeared after all these years? Instead of one riddle to solve, Phoebe now has a fistful of them.
“The Wayward Path” is the third novel in the Jefferson Chene mystery series, releasing August 3, 2022. These books are set in the Detroit, Michigan area, which is where I’m originally from. Detroit has a long history of crime and misbehavior, which always appealed to my story-telling mind.
I’m a fan of distinctive names. The backstory for Chene (pronounced Shane) is that he was abandoned at birth and found at the intersection of Jefferson and Chene in Detroit. A mix up on the paperwork led to that becoming his name. The character was raised in a Catholic orphanage. Never adopted, Chene has a little difficulty building relationships outside of the people he works with. He can be a little rough around the edges, but he’s good at what he does. A borderline insomniac, Chene believes his mind is too busy for sleep and his body adapts to that strategy. Chene became a cop and worked his way through the ranks of the Michigan State Police.
Metropolitan Detroit has a population of over 3 million people, and it covers almost 6,000 square miles, making it one of the largest metro areas in the United States. With so many smaller cities in this region, I wanted to have a squad of detectives who would cross those territorial boundaries and go wherever their investigation took them. This team would also be focused on getting results.
After creating the Chene character and others in the first book “Why 319?” I kept coming up with new story ideas. The feedback I got from readers was encouraging. I realized these characters had much more to tell. That’s what led to the latest book.
When Agonasti slips through their grasp, he reaches out to Sergeant Jefferson Chene. Their unusual friendship draws Chene into the thick of the case. Burdened with two reluctant FBI agents, Chene is working against the clock and the feds to find the real killer.
Chene senses they are getting close to the answers. Will he be able to solve the murder and clear the old mobster of this heinous crime before time runs out?
MacGregor escorted us to the conference room, knocked twice and opened the door. Standing at the end of the rectangular table was a tall, blonde woman. She was pacing by the window. Seated at the table was another agent in a dark suit. He had a stack of files before him. His dark hair needed a trim.
He shot a disgusted look at the interruption. “What?”
MacGregor hooked a thumb in my direction. “State cops have arrived. This is Sergeant Chene and Captain Cantrell. They are…familiar with Leo Agonasti.”
Pappy pushed MacGregor aside as he entered the room and dropped into a chair. “Y’all need us.”
Sedlak threw his pen down on the table in disgust. It skittered across the surface and was headed for the edge when Pappy stopped it with a fingertip.
“Y’all know where Agonasti is?”
Sedlak went rigid. “We’ll find him, Captain Cornpone. We don’t require any assistance from the locals.”
“So, you do need us.” I slid into the seat beside Cantrell.
The blonde had been watching this exchange with interest. She cleared her throat and took a step in our direction. “Your name is Chene?”
“That’s me. And you are?”
“Diana Trevino.” She sat beside me. “I represent Mr. Agonasti. He’s mentioned you occasionally in the past.”
Sedlak’s gaze was flicking across the three of us. He settled it briefly on Pappy. I thought there was a glimmer of recognition, but it may have been my imagination. Cantrell is definitely memorable.
“Why don’tcha take Miz Trevino outside and lemme have a minute with Mr. Sedlak. Mebbe we can speed things along.”
MacGregor was still standing in the doorway. He looked at his boss but got no signal that I could see. I stood and extended a hand to the lady. She took it lightly and grabbed her purse off the table as we exited the room. MacGregor followed and closed the door behind us. He waved at the group clustered around the desks. Banks came forward and escorted Diana Trevino to the restrooms.
“What the hell was that about?” he asked quietly.
“Looks like old home week. Give them a few minutes.”
“You think they know each other?”
I leaned against the wall. “How long has Sedlak been the assistant special agent in charge in Detroit?”
“Three years, maybe four. Why?”
“You think he and Pappy haven’t crossed paths before, between meetings, conferences and task forces?”
Mac shrugged. “Hadn’t really thought about it.”
“If Pappy didn’t know him, he would have shot him for that cornpone wisecrack. They were just playing for the audience. Chances are Pappy reached out to him while we were driving downtown.”
That brought a grin from MacGregor. “Well, that’s a twist.”
I watched Banks bring Diana Trevino back into the office area. She guided her over to the coffee urn.
“How soon can you give me a copy of the case file you have on this homicide investigation?”
Mac scoffed. “Seriously? What makes you think we’re going to share?”
“Pappy isn’t trading recipes for chicken fried steak. You don’t know where Agonasti is. His attorney wouldn’t share that information anyway, even if she knew. So I’d expect this to become a joint investigation within the next ten minutes. Might as well get me a copy. And don’t bother redacting it. I want the whole thing.”
“Damn, you’re cocky.”
I grinned. “There’s a difference between confidence and cocky. You should learn how to tell them apart.”
“Fuck you, Chene,” he said with disgust.
“That’s not very original. You need someone to write some fresh material.”
The conference room door opened and Sedlak waved us in. Pappy was rolling a cigarette slowly between his first two fingers. It wasn’t lit, which I took to be a courtesy on his part. If we were at the post, it would already be trailing smoke toward the ceiling.
“Agent MacGregor will provide you with a copy of our files on this investigation,” Sedlak said. “Probably easiest to give them a flash drive.”
“Make it two,” Pappy said. “May as well git started tonight.”
“You will keep us informed of any discoveries you make,” Sedlak said.
Pappy gave him a curt nod. “Course.”
“And if you learn the whereabouts of Leo Agonasti?”
“Y’all be second to know.”
MacGregor trotted off to make the copies. Pappy and Sedlak continued to stare at each other. I waited in the silence. Five minutes later, Mac returned and handed me a pair of flash drives. I passed one to Cantrell. He tucked it in his shirt pocket and pushed out of his chair.
“Chene, give Miz Trevino a ride home. Ah believe she be done here.”
Sedlak adjusted the knot in his tie. “Yeah, we’re done. For now.”
Can Catherine split her focus between the murders she’s been sent to solve and the passion that flares between her and Jacques whenever they’re near each other?
From Bethany: Who’s in control anyway?
We all have different Muses and we all create differently. I always allow my characters to drive the stories once I have an idea of what my plot is going to be. My plotting is a combination of the pantser and the plotter. I normally have a blurb that I work off of. I know the beginning and I know the end, it’s the middle stuff that I’m not real sure of. That’s where the characters take control. There have been times in the past where they take a left turn on me, and I’m not sure if it’s the right thing but I let them go just to see what happens.
Most of the time it makes the story stronger. The Power of the Tears is a perfect example. In the beginning I didn’t think I had enough to make a full-length book, but my characters were pushing me to write it.
Sometimes they know best.
I never thought of sending Jacques to Charlotte, but my characters did. It gave me a chance to introduce a new little wrinkle that added to the plot. I also never planned on hurting Catherine, my heroine, but it helped with the plot as well.
By the time I was done I loved the story and my characters. When my editor went through it, she said the same thing. She loved the story.
My characters didn’t lead me astray.
Now that the book is done and being released I realize I don’t want their story to end. I don’t think they want it to end either, so I know Jacques and Catherine will be in the background whispering to me until I come up with another story for them. Maybe in France…
STORYLINE for THE POWER OF THE TEARS:
Catherine is second in command in her pack and Max, her alpha, has made arrangements for her to visit a pack who has had three women murdered in a ritualistic manner. She isn’t looking forward to visiting a pack whose alpha believes women should only be mates and mothers. As the pack historian she has the knowledge needed to help the local sheriff solve the murders.
Jacques is the oldest son of the pack alpha, but an injury when he was young keeps him from shifting. He had to step back as the heir-apparent and let his brother rule. He’s now their sheriff. The moment he meets Catherine he wants something he feels he’s not worthy of. How could such a beautiful, successful werewolf want him?
The passion between them is powerful. Catherine starts to wonder if it’s interfering with her solving the murders. Jacques is determined to keep Catherine safe when it appears she may be the next victim. Can they solve the murders together? Can they have a happily ever after?
This book three in the Tears of the Wolf series and can be enjoyed independently.
Publisher’s Note: This paranormal romance contains elements of danger, suspense, mystery, sensual scenes, mild power exchange and a happily ever after.
Bio: Bethany Drake is a graduate of UNCC and a big fan of the 49er’s – the UNCC 49er’s. Owner of several cats she tells people it’s her crazy cat lady starter kit. She lives in her own little world, creating new worlds for her characters.
Authors talk a lot about being a “pantser” or a “plotter,” two schools of story process that involves how they write a novel. Do they write “by the seat of their pants,” diving into a blank page without a particular plan and allowing the story to develop organically one scene at a time? Or do they write an outline, either broad or detailed, with the ending well thought out before they even write the first word?
I definitely fall into that second category. I am a planner by nature. When I travel, I have already Googled the place extensively and have a list of historical sites and even restaurants I’d like to visit. I hate the idea I might miss something!
Writing an outline first helps, too, with the overall story arc. When I wrote my first book, I found myself a bit stuck in the middle. The plot started to drag. While I knew where I wanted the story to end up, I wasn’t sure how to keep the story interesting until I got there. I learned that if I wrote at least a brief outline with highlights of each chapter, I would get the tough work done early and this would also help me avoid writer’s block. Every morning, when I sat down to write, I knew what the next scene would be about.
Does this take the spontaneity out of writing? Not at all! I use the outline just as a guide. Most of the time, the story changes as I write. The characters I create demand that the plot move in a different direction. I frequently adjust the outline and keep moving forward. In my first novel, I even changed the murderer in my second draft as the original version didn’t make sense.
In my new release, The Three Widows of Wylder, the plot shifted somewhat from the first outline, but stuck fairly close all the way through. I didn’t feel bound to the original idea but I liked how it worked. I hope readers enjoy it too!
The Three Widows of Wylder
Tagline: Three women. Three terrible secrets.
Three women on the run.
After the death of her husband, Clara flees a hanging judge and seeks refuge with her brother in Wylder, Wyoming.
With secrets of her own and good reasons to flee, spoiled and vain Mary Rose joins Clara on the trek to Wyoming. Surely a suitable man exists somewhere.
Emma is a mystery. A crack shot and expert horsewoman, her harrowing past seeps out in a steady drip. She’s on the run from something, but what?
After the three women descend on Wylder, a budding romance leads to exposure of their pasts. As disaster looms, will any of them escape?
Emma stood, legs apart, one hand on the pistol at her hip. The covered wagon was the type used years ago by pioneers, before trains tamed the prairie, and they still lumbered across areas where tracks hadn’t been laid. Two women sat side-by-side, too focused on their argument to yet notice the camp they entered. Their one horse, overmatched by the heavy wagon, was damp with sweat, its mouth flecked with froth.
“We should have stayed on the main road.” The peevish one appeared much younger, curly gold hair topped by a large straw hat. She wore a light-yellow dress with lace at her wrists and throat, a perfectly inadequate outfit for travel. “Someone could have provided directions.”
The older woman had finely-drawn features, a few strands of gray threaded through her dark, uncovered hair. Dressed in sensible blue calico, she gripped the reins too tight and the poor horse gave a pathetic shake of its head. “The whole point was to avoid people,” she sniped.
Emma strode forward and seized the reins. “For God’s sake, you’re killing him.”
The two women gaped as though at an apparition. The horse, released from harsh hands, lowered its head and halted. Its sides heaved as flies drank at its sweaty flanks.
“Whomever let you two fools handle a horse should be whipped.” Tempted to dispatch the women to hell for their cruelty, Emma rested her hand on the pistol’s handle.
They two travelers spoke in tandem. “Who are you?” and “How dare you call me a fool.”
As Emma crooned into in the horse’s ear, her expert fingers undid the buckles at its shoulders and haunches. By the time the older of the two women climbed to the ground, the horse was unhitched and Emma led it to the creek.
“That’s our horse,” cried the one in yellow. “Clara, what is that insane girl doing? She’s stealing him.”
Emma halted, shoulders stiff. She turned and pointed the pistol at the one with lace at her throat. “I’m no horse thief.” She cocked the hammer. “Apologize.”
About the author:
Julie Howard is the author of the Wild Crime mystery series and Spirited Quest paranormal mystery series. She is a former journalist and editor who has covered topics ranging from crime to cowboy poetry. She is a member of the Idaho Writers Guild and editor of the Potato Soup Journal. Learn more at juliemhoward.com.
Today’s guest is LINDA GRIFFIN, author of THE REBOUND EFFECT. Welcome, Linda!
Can you, for those who don’t know you already, tell something about yourself and how you became an author?
I was an enthusiastic reader from day one. I read my very first Dick and Jane primer to everyone in the house, including two captive kittens, one tucked under each arm. Then I read it backwards. As soon as I figured out that somebody had to create the words I was reading, I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up—a “book maker.” I dedicated The Rebound Effect to Dick and Jane “who first ignited my passion for the written word.” I’ve been writing all my life and was first published when I was in college, but I’ve been able to spend more time on it since I retired from my position as fiction librarian for the San Diego Public Library. My stories, from short shorts to novellas, have been published in numerous literary journals. The Rebound Effect is my third published novel and the second with the Wild Rose Press.
What is something unique/quirky about you?
I enjoy washing dishes by hand, but only if somebody reads to me while I do it.
Tell us something really interesting that’s happened to you!
Earlier this year, our old, unused dial-up phone started calling 911. The police came to the door several times, once in the middle of the night, before we figured it out.
What are some of your pet peeves?
The puzzling notion that conjunctions somehow reverse the pronoun rules. Only a two-year-old would say “Me went to the store,” but I constantly hear things like “Me and him went to the store” and “She gave it to he and I.” Like Teresa, the heroine of The Rebound Effect, I also hate distracted driving and movie previews that give away too much of the story.
Where were you born/grew up?
I was born and raised in San Diego, California, and would never want to live anywhere else. I enjoy visiting other places, but San Diego will always be home.
If you knew you’d die tomorrow, how would you spend your last day?
Reading! And eating chocolate.
Who is your hero and why?
Jaycee Dugard, because she chose to live her life with strength and joy and purpose, helping others instead of dwelling on what was taken from her. I also very much admire former President Jimmy Carter for all the good work he does all over the world.
What kind of world ruler would you be?
A terrible one! Overwhelmed and confused.
What do you do to unwind and relax?
I love the three R’s –reading, writing, and research. I also enjoy movies, Scrabble, and travel. I’ve been to three countries and forty-eight states, most recently Hawaii. I like to visit art museums, galleries, and botanical exhibits too—beauty feeds the soul.
Describe yourself in 5 words or less!
Klutzy, independent, honest, and impatient.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
When I wrote my first story. I lifted the basic plot from a Nancy and Sluggo comic book and wrote “Judy and the Fairies”at the age of six.
Do you have a favorite movie?
I always find it impossible to choose just one favorite of anything, but the one I have watched most often is the 1968 film, No Way to Treat a Lady, with George Segal and Rod Steiger. Love, Actually may eventually overtake it, though.
Which of your novels can you imagine made into a movie?
I can see my forthcoming novel Guilty Knowledge as a movie, or better yet a TV series. I would cast Boris Kodjoe or Trai Byers as the hero, and his partner is one of my favorite supporting characters. I always enjoy writing dialog for tough, sassy women.
What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?
I’m not sure if it counts as a literary pilgrimage, but I went to England to visit the places described in the Poldark novels by Winston Graham. Cornwall is lovely.
As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
I have two. My sometime writing partner, Huxley, is a stuffed writer mouse from Starbucks. I consider him co-author of the novella “Starbucks” (Eclectica April/May 2015.). He named the characters and insisted that it not be a romance, although he is otherwise partial to bedroom scenes. My muse is a lizard named Sparkle. They can both be seen on my Facebook author page. Sparkle is in the cover image.
In the small town of Cougar, struggling single mother and veterinary assistant Teresa Lansing is still bruised from a failed relationship when Frank McAllister sweeps her off her feet.
Frank is a big-city SWAT officer who moved to Cougar only four months ago. He’s handsome, charming, forceful, very sexy, and a bit mysterious. He had his eye on Teresa even before they met and is pushing for a serious relationship right away.
Teresa finds his intense courtship flattering, and the sex is fabulous, but she doesn’t want her deaf six-year-old son to be hurt again. Her former fiancé cheated on her when he got drunk after being unjustly fired, but he loves her and her son, and the whirlwind romance is complicated by his efforts to win Teresa back.
And then there’s the matter of the bodies buried at Big Devil Creek…
I was born and raised in San Diego, California and earned a BA in English from San Diego State University and an MLS from UCLA. I began my career as a reference and collection development librarian in the Art and Music Section of the San Diego Public Library and then transferred to the Literature and Languages Section, where I had the pleasure of managing the Central Library’s Fiction collection and initiating fiction order lists for the entire library system. Although I also enjoy reading biography, memoir, and history, fiction remains my first love. In addition to the three R’s–reading, writing, and research–I enjoy Scrabble, movies, and travel.