Mystery

Snakes and Alligators and Frogs, Oh My!

.

Ever had an alligator for a pet? How about a boa constrictor? My guest Susan Muller has had both and today she’s going to relate some of her adventures with exotic animals. Where do frogs fit into the picture? You’ll just have to read on to find out.

 

Susan Miuller.

Susan C. Muller is a fourth generation Texan who started her first novel at age eleven, but life got in the way and it wasn’t until many years later that she returned to that first love, writing.  Her novel, The Secrets on Forest Bend, has won several awards. The Witch on Twisted Oak was released in August, 2013, Voodoo on Bayou Lafonte in January, 2014, and Circle of Redemption in May, 2014.

She enjoys speaking to book clubs and writer’s groups and serves as president of her local RWA chapter.

Take it away Susan.
 

 

**********

Sorry, Kate, I’ve never owned a horse. But being from Texas I have been around them from time to time. I’ve even ridden a few. Of course, I always wanted one, but the expense, not to mention the time and effort, prevented me.

I have owned pets, though. And I’m not just talking dogs or cats, although I’ve had plenty of those. I don’t know what it is about boys–my daughter only had hamsters, gerbils, and kitties—but my son had a turtle named Mr. Turtle Green and a gold fish called Chicken Leg. I only realized last year that the poor fish got that name because he resembled, you guessed it, a chicken leg. Don’t know why it took me forty years to figure that out.

Later, my son got a baby alligator. Of course, alligators only eat live food. During the summer, my son held the flashlight while I caught teeny, tiny frogs and Al, the alligator, snapped them up. As the weather got cooler, the frogs grew too big and I had to improvise. I took a small cube of ground meet, tied a string around it, and jiggled it up and down in front of Al. After he clamped down on it, I had to get scissors and snip off the string hanging from the side of his mouth.

Later, as my son got older and Al had gone into hibernation for the last time, he talked his grandfather into buying him a boa constrictor. We named the snake Hercules because he was so strong. Snakes also only eat live food; generally white mice

Not all pet stores carry white mice or, even if they do, don’t necessarily have them when needed. So we got a large aquarium, put a cover on it, and bought two or three mice at a time.

Do you know what happens when you put two or three mice together? You get six or seven mice, and then twelve or fifteen. Many more mice than Hercules could eat in a month.

Hercules may have been strong, but he wasn’t the smartest snake in the world. The first time he tried to catch a mouse, he missed, injuring the roof of his mouth. Have you ever tried to find a vet who treats snakes? For a week, we had to swab the inside of his mouth with some stinky concoction. This was a two person job. My son held Herc, as we called him, and I swabbed with a Q-tip.

There have been many other pets over the years: a Great Dane and a Shih Tzu who were best friends, an Irish Setter who stole golf clubs and brought them home, a Weimaraner who got on the counter and ate only my regular cookies, forgoing my husband’s sugar-free ones, and a cat who roamed the neighborhood on garbage day, knocking the lids off cans until we had to buy several neighbors new cans with locking lids.

As I think about it, I might have saved money with a horse.

But, of all animals, I love dogs the best. When I needed someone to discover a body in my novel, The Witch on Twisted Oak, I picked a Border Collie. I even put the opening scene in her point of view. I thought I had come up with a brilliant new idea. Later I read Robert Crais’s best seller, Suspect, and realized there’s nothing new in the world.

Molly was only supposed to be in the first scene, but I fell in love with her and she became a major character in the story. Here’s an excerpt from The Witch on Twisted Oak featuring Molly and a cat named Bob who may or may not be a witch’s familiar.

Do you have a dog, or a cat, or a horse, or any other fur baby you love?

***********

.

WitchonTwistedOak_850 (1)A powerful psychic is brutally murdered.  Secrets are revealed.  An old enemy is out for revenge.

Detective Ruben Marquez is thrust back into his childhood memories when he investigates a gruesome murder that occurs only feet from his mother’s home.  Is the killer somehow connected to his own past?  Is the beautiful, mysterious daughter of the victim, someone he can trust?  Or is her revelation that she’s a witch a sign he should stay clear.  But how can he, when it appears she’s next on the murderer’s to-do list.

In the ultimate test of courage, he uses himself as bait to protect all he holds dear . . . his career, his family, and the Witch on Twisted Oak.

 

**********

Molly had spent fifteen minutes searching for Bob (a cat) and never figured out he was hiding behind a curtain. She had finally given up and made do with checking out the litter box. She watched Ruben with innocent eyes, but a pyramid of kitty litter sat on top of her nose.

Mamacita stuck her head out of the bedroom door. “I’m going to bed now. I’ll see you in the morning.”

Tessa stepped out of the bathroom, her face damp and shiny clean, the last traces of make-up removed. Although why she bothered to wear any with that skin he wasn’t sure.

“Could you wait a few minutes?” she asked Mamacita. “I’d like to feed Bob in there where he won’t be worried about the dog. And he won’t eat if there’s anyone around.”

Ruben almost cheered. He couldn’t have arranged things any better. It was almost worth having the cat around. Almost.

It took ten minutes and the efforts of both he and Tessa to convince Bob to stay in the bedroom and Molly to stay out of it. The dog lay with her litter covered nose pressed against the one inch gap at the bottom of the door, occasionally letting out a pathetic wine.

Mamacita scooted as far down the sofa, away from Tessa, as she could get. The only difference in her actions and the cat’s was that her claws hadn’t come out. He looked again. Well, maybe they had.

**********

Amazon:  The Witch on Twisted Oak:   http://tinyurl.com/pat8l65

Amazon author page:   http://tinyurl.com/khohbla

Website:  http://www.susancmuller.com/

Twitter:  @SusanCMuller

Facebook: Susan C. Muller, Author

 

 

 

 

Categories: alligators, animals, boa constrictors, Dogs and cats, Mystery, suspense, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | 21 Comments

My Dope-y Cat

.

Janis WilsonThis week’s  guest is Janis Wilson, who is working on her first novel.  GOULSTON STREET is a story of a woman’s attempt to solve the Jack the Ripper murders. Janis has a great deal of experience with the Ripper. She taught a class at Temple University entitled, “Who Was Jack the Ripper?” and has lectured on the Ripper. Last November, she was one of the delegates to the Jack the Ripper conference in Whitechapel. Go Janis!

Today she’s going to be talking about a much less gruesome topic—her Maine Coon cat, Loki.

 

*******************

I had always wanted a solid black Maine Coon, the fluffy cat with the regal bearing. They are called gentle giants because of their pacific nature and their impressive size. We wanted a black one because I have always had and loved black cats. They seem mysterious and glamorous.

LokiSo it was a pleasant surprise when my husband and I, motoring from Virginia to Canada on vacation, happened to spot a classified ad for just such an animal at a price that people who vacation in their automobiles could afford.

The ad appeared in the Washington Post and, as we were not immediately shopping for a cat, it was just black cat luck that we happened to spot it. We phoned the owner just before we left Washington but did not connect.

In New York, we were able to get through and explained why we could not immediately come and purchase the kitten. We agreed to stay in touch with the owner and to meet up on our return trip.

And so, having seen plays on Broadway and at the Stratford (Toronto) Festival, we turned the car southward and started making calls. The kitty lived in Maryland and we made arrangements to meet the owner in a shopping center near the interstate.

The advertiser described the van she would be driving and we pulled into a spot beside it. I climbed into the van to meet the prospective new member of our family. We wanted a cat that would get along with our other two kitties. The kitten permitted me to pet him. To my astonishment, he sat in my lap as if we were old friends. I knew we had a winner. I climbed down and gave a full report to my husband. He entered the van and also was taken with the sweetness of the little black cat.

As we had not been on the hunt for a cat, we had no supplies. I walked into a discount store and purchased a carrier to ensure the kitten’s safe passage to Virginia. Meanwhile, my husband hit the ATM to get cash for the transaction.

I returned to the van with a fist full of cash and departed with a crate full of cat. It struck me that, with my out-of-state vehicle, and my repeated ingress and egress into a windowless van with a couple of hundred dollars in cash, an onlooker might think a big drug deal was in progress.

In fact, it may have been. For the kitten, whom we named Loki, gave us so much pleasure in the ensuing years, that he acted as a mild sedative.

********

Here’s an excerpt from Janis’s Work-In-Progress, GOULSTON STREET.

 

jacktheripper“Lord, she was drunk. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anybody as drunk as she was, sliding down the wall and all. Drunk as she was, she still agreed to come along and have another gin with me and to do whatever I could pay her to do. I didn’t give her the chance to do her filthy business. I made her do the paying – with her worthless life.

I put on my cloth cap and walked to the news agent’s to purchase the Daily News. I smiled as I read the headline that said “More Murders.” The article went on to say two women had been killed in one night. The first one was on Berner Street, but this was a surprise to me. Now they think I’m even quicker than I really am.

They should know the first one wasn’t done by me. I wouldn’t have left her guts inside her. They should know my work by now. I get a whore and cut her throat and pull out her insides and walk off with the other parts. No whore deserves to keep her guts, so I take ’em out. No, sir, I did not kill the Berner Street woman, but I am glad they think I did. I worked on the one found over by the Imperial Club. Wonder what her name was? Doesn’t matter. I got to kill another whore and get my arms into the bloody mess of her belly. I was inside her up to my elbows. Nothing is more thrilling than cutting out the womb. It was lovely and warm when I put it in my sack. I had to take it home. It was too dark out for me to admire it properly. Besides, someone came out of the club and I had to run like a maniac to get away safe.

Why do these whores keep coming out? Because they know they deserve to die and that I am here to help them do it. Whores don’t have the courage they need to throw themselves in the Thames, so I help them to stop being a scourge on the community. Help them with my knife. I help the whole city with my knife.

Wouldn’t my boss be surprised if he knew I am the one they call “Jack the Ripper.” Shows they think I am English, naming me Jack. Like the Union Jack. But if I were English I would have been better treated. No tolerance for foreigners in this country. Probably some newspaperman made up that name, but it is all right. Now I have a title and people will remember me better. They will never find me for I am quick and nimble. They should call me “Jack be nimble”, for I can pull bellies apart in the blink of an eye and get my work done quicker than they can say “Jack Robinson.”

With Scotland Yard thinking I fixed two in one night, the peelers will be everywhere. I will have to lie low until people’s blood cools down. I’ll wait until no one expects me anymore. The papers say somebody who goes by the name “Leather Apron” has done my deeds. That was good for a laugh. Let them arrest him and I’ll go to the hanging. I will keep an eye on the newspaper to see if they get any better ideas about who I am.

*************

Website: JanisWilson.com

Death Knell V

Catch Janis’s short story The Devil’s Triangle in the Death Knell V anthology put out by the Delaware Valley Mystery Authors.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
**************************
Ripper Newspaper photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/bradford_timeline/6349438279/”>Bradford Timeline</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;
Categories: anthologies, Cats, fear, history, Jack the Ripper, Maine Coon cats, Mystery, suspense, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | 12 Comments

Wildlife in Suburbia

.

CochranKelly-1

.

Please welcome Kelly Cochran, author of Buying Time: An Aspen Moore Novel, the first in her humorous mystery series. Buying Time was a finalist in the 2013 Next Generation Indie Book Award and is currently, a quarter-finalist in the 2014 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest. Kelly is a lover of all animals and has even been known to have her husband capture and release spiders to the outdoors.

************************

My entire life I’ve lived in the suburbs. I’ve never had to wake up in the morning to feed the chickens, slop the hogs, or clean out the horse stalls, and therefore, I’ve never lived on acres of land that are a natural habitat for wildlife.  Animals, in the suburbs, include the neighbor’s dog, the robin on the perfectly manicured front lawn, or the relentless squirrel frantically digging to find the nut he was sure he’d buried under the mulch.

The only similarity between me, the suburban dweller, and those who live in rural settings with acres of land, is the wish to keep development to a minimum. So, when my suburban home, located only eight miles from the St. Louis city line, became a condominium complex for groundhogs, we protested and took action to stop the over-development of our community.

Gregory-1A call to a critter control company that relocates animals ended with traps being set in the front and back of our home. In the end, one raccoon, and two groundhogs were caught. One of those groundhogs was Gregory, who’d been a part of our lives for several years, even making it into our Christmas letter twice. I was sad to see him go, but the man said he would take all of them to a 300 acre property far from our home and release them. What animal wouldn’t love acres and acres to roam? The next time I saw the man he informed me that Gregory was now in a better place. Well, I’m not sure about you, but in my youth, when a person told you that someone was in a better place, they didn’t mean a 300 acre piece of land. I could only hope that Gregory was indeed living out the rest of his life on those 300 acres.

Two years later, I noticed leaves left over from the fall had been disturbed at the corner of our porch. My husband said it was just the wind. I didn’t give it another thought until the next day as I headed out the front door to the get the mail and I came across Eenie, Meenie, Miney, Moe, and Bob.

babies-1Although I thought the groundhog babies were adorable, my husband said they had to go. We kept an eye out for momma, but she never showed. Luckily the man we use to trim our trees said he’d take them to his house and keep them in one of his rabbit hutches until they were old enough to release in another location. Over a period of a week, we enticed them with cantaloupe and were able to trap a few. The others we ended up grabbing with our hands (gloved of course). By that time, the crew had grown to include a brother named Charley and two other unnamed siblings. Total count: Eight!

 

The truth is, even though I didn’t want our suburban lifestyle overrun with wild animals, I missed those little babies in our front yard….until I looked out at the pool in our back yard!

ducks-1

 

**********

BuyingTimeCover-1

Aspen Moore has a new life in a new city, complete with a new career. As a personal concierge, she sells her time to those who don’t have enough. One of the perks of her business is focusing on other people’s lives so she doesn’t have to face the demons in her own.

When Aspen’s most loyal customer dies and his suicide looks eerily like murder, she anonymously tips off the police so she won’t expose a secret she desperately needs to keep. But, murder and mayhem are a bothersome duo and she soon finds herself caught in a web of chaos.

A string of crimes, long enough to make a real detective sweat, threaten her livelihood and ultimately her life. Aspen’s only hope to untangle the mess before they cause permanent damage is to track down who’s responsible. Pursuing the truth means solving the mystery of a decade-old land deal, while juggling a quirky DJ and his dog, an eccentric paraplegic, a curious set of twins, and a flirtatious neighbor with spy gadgets.

.

Buying Time is a quarter finalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest.  Read the excerpt, see the fine reviewers’ comments that helped Buying Time advance in the contest, and leave your own review of the excerpt!  http://www.amazon.com/Buying-Time-2014-ABNA-Entry-ebook/dp/B00JOU31MG 

.

*****************************

Buying Time available at Amazon
www.kellycochran.com
Blog
Facebook
Twitter: @KellyLCochran
The Series: www.aspenmoore.com

 

Categories: animals, critter control, ducks, groundhogs, humorous mystery, Mystery, suspense, Uncategorized, Wildlife in suburbia, woodchucks | Tags: , , , , , | 16 Comments

A PARTY OF PEACOCKS

.

 

Alice Fitzpatrick

Today I’d like to welcome Alice Fitzpatrick author of the Kate Galway mysteries. Toward the Pebbled Shore, the first book in the series, was a semi-finalist for the 2012 and 2013 Unhanged Arthur Award 
for Best Unpublished First Crime Novel and a finalist for the 2013 Malice Domestic Best First Traditional Mystery Novel. Her novels are currently looking for their forever home with an agent and a publisher.

Take it away Alice.

************

That folly was past now—but still he could not visualize her except against the background of the great white house in Riverside Drive, with the peacocks and the swimming-pool and the gilded tower with the roof-garden. “The Incredible Elopement of Lord Peter Wimsey” by Dorothy L Sayers

I have always been fascinated by peacocks. As a Brit now living in Canada, I spend an inordinate amount of time during my trips home touring Georgian mansions and exploring ancient castles. For me, no British stately home is complete without a pride of elegant blue peacocks, their green trains trailing across a wide expanse of lawn. These iconic birds are as familiar as the maid in her black uniform and stiff white apron or the mistress in the morning room sipping tea in a sweater set adorned by a single row of pearls.

Having grown up reading the novels of Agatha Christie, when I came to write my own books, there was no question that I would choose the Peacock 3traditional mystery known as the cozy. These books are often set on a rambling country estate, a seemingly uneventful place. Yet it isn’t long before the shrieks of peacocks are announcing the discovery of a brutal murder.

Although not native to Great Britain, these magnificent birds have been in residence for almost two thousand years. It was the Romans who brought them to the island, and the peacocks have never looked back. They soon became a favourite of feudal lords, landed gentry, and aristocracy. At a time when powerful men were looking for conspicuous ways to express their social position, the exotic peacock was an impressive symbol. There was no more ostentatious display of wealth than a roast peacock, often served with full plumage, on a medieval banqueting table.

As far as I can determine, no peacock has ever figured prominently in a mystery novel. What these birds are experts at, though, is providing atmosphere and, if the writer is so inclined, symbolism.

Geoffrey Chaucer was one of the first British writers to use the peacock to refer to people who swagger and preen: “And yet as proud a pekok can he pulle.” Early Christian artists interpreted the many eyespots on the bird’s 200 tail feathers as the all-seeing eyes of God and the Catholic church. Because the peacock sheds these feathers annually and it was believed that its flesh did not decay, the peacock came to symbolize renewal and resurrection.

Peacock 5-1But to most of us, peacocks simply represent pride. Thus a peacock strutting through the garden of an estate allows the writer to pass comment on its inhabitants. My own novels, set on an island off the west coast of Wales, feature an abandoned gothic castle complete with peacocks who have reverted to their wild state. To the islanders, the peacocks are a reminder of the hubris of the rich Victorian industrialist who designed and built this architectural monstrosity.

So if you are looking to add a bit of exoticism or social commentary to your novel, look no further than a peacock. I’d like to say that they’d appreciate the gesture, but if they’re as vain as we believe they are, they’ve come to expect it.

*******************************

 Toward the Pebbled Shore

Kate Galway is no stranger to death. After all, she’d grown up under the shadow of her Aunt Emma’s suicide, her body having washed up on the beach the year before Kate was born. Now Kate has returned home to an island off the Welsh coast where she is forced to confront family secrets that are better kept hidden, including that her aunt was murdered and the killer is still on the island.

 

Eyespots 1DS Lazarus sat on the sofa in Kate’s cottage with Constable Byron Finch beside him. Lazarus had undone the top button of his shirt and pulled his blue and beige tie, wrinkled and puckered, to one side to get it out of the way. Lazarus was the kind of man who would look slovenly even if you put him in new clothes. What was it someone said about Dylan Thomas — he looked like an unmade bed? Lazarus wasn’t quite that bad — more like an untidy sofa — but it gave him the appearance of a man who coasted through life, quite content with his lot, happy to take orders, while ducking any responsibility.

Kate resisted the temptation to go over and brush what looked like toast crumbs from his jacket.

“So when was the last time you saw Hannah Sutherland?” he asked.

“The day Siobhan and I were attacked in her garden.”

“We’ve heard about this from the deceased’s sisters. I’d like to hear your version of the events. When was this?”

“A week ago — last Sunday. And no, we don’t know who attacked us. It was dark.”

“Were you at the Hall on a social call?”

She looked at Byron and, knowing what was coming, he lowered his eyes. “No, Siobhan and I were digging for a tea tin we’d seen Hannah bury in the garden earlier that day.”

“And why were you digging up a tea tin in the middle of the night?”

“Sgt. Lazarus, even on Meredith Island, eleven o’clock is hardly the middle of the night. But that aside, we thought that it might contain some evidence into the murder of my aunt.”

Lazarus glared over at Byron. “There’s been a second death? Why wasn’t I told?”

“It was over fifty years ago, sir.”

Kate was impressed with Byron’s ability to keep his voice steady and calm.

Lazarus leaned back. “Oh.” Painfully aware that he’d made a fool of himself, he focused his anger toward Kate. “Regular little Dorothy Sawyer, aren’t you?”

Kate resisted the temptation to smirk. “If you mean Dorothy L. Sayers, she’s the writer. That would make me Lord Peter Wimsey.”

Lazarus ignored her comeback and carried on. “Did you report the attack?”

“No.”

“Why not?”

“We have no police on the island. We handle things ourselves.”

Lazarus’s eyebrows descended and knit themselves together. “I hope that doesn’t mean you take the law into your own hands. The police force doesn’t hold with vigilantism.”

Kate was really getting tired of this fool. “What are you implying, DS Lazarus? That we convene secret courts in the pub at midnight, pass judgment in dark hooded cloaks, and then throw the offender from the highest cliff . . .” and Kate left the sentence hanging to allow the image to work its way into Lazarus’s brain.

*******

You can follow Alice at:

alicefitzp.wordpress.com
facebook.com/alicefitzp
twitter.com/alicefitzp
linkedin.com/pub/alice-fitzpatrick/55/4b5/5a.

 

 

Categories: Books, cozy mysteries, Mystery, peacocks, suspense, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | 18 Comments

Another Snippet

.

I’m back again with another small piece. Be sure to catch all the other snippets posted by the many talented authors via Snippet Sunday and Weekend Writing Warriors.

.

Here’s a following bit from the second chapter of Wyoming Escape.  Let me know what you think.

.

Wyoming Cover - 1600

One dead body is frightening enough. A second one, plus a dirty cop, sends chef Mikela Richards fleeing for her life. She hides on a Wyoming Dude ranch, but her attraction to an on-leave Marine threatens her fragile feeling of safety.

******.

Hiding her shaking hands under the table, Mikela offered a tentative smile. “I’m fine–just not good with loud noises.” Damn, when would she get over jumping at the slightest racket? How long before the memories of dead men stopped haunting her? She took a deep breath and willed her trembling to quiet.

Once she was sure she wouldn’t spill anything, she sipped at her cup and glanced around the small coffee shop. Not much to look at. Whoever was manning the stove knew their stuff, though. The scrambled eggs passing her table were fragrant with herbs and the coffee was the best she’d tasted in a week.

 
Categories: Cowboys, Dude ranches, Mystery, nature, Romantic suspense, suspense, Uncategorized, Western romance, writing, Wyoming | Tags: , , , , , , , | 26 Comments

Weekend Snippets Again

.

It’s been a while since I did a Snippet Sunday , so I thought I’d try it again.  I know I have lots of fun reading all the other snippets posted by the many talented authors via Snippet Sunday and Weekend Writing Warriors.

.

Here’s a bit from the second chapter of Wyoming Escape.  Let me know what you think.

.

Wyoming Cover - 1600

One dead body is frightening enough. A second one, plus a dirty cop, sends Mikela Richards fleeing for her life. She hides on a Wyoming Dude ranch, but her attraction to an on-leave Marine threatens her fragile feeling of safety.

******.

Mikela squinted against the bright Wyoming sun pouring through the cafe window and gave her breakfast order. Her last words were drowned out by a loud blast that shook the building and rattled the dishes. She clamped her hands over her mouth to stifle a scream while images of blood and death flashed in her mind. The waitress’ hoarse, smoky voice brought her back to the present.

.

“It’s okay, honey. Just old Cranky’s truck backfirin’ again. Wish he’d get the darned thing fixed.” The buxom woman peered at Mikela in concern. “You all right? You’re white as a sheet.”

.

*******.

 
You can find Wyoming Escape on Amazon
Amazon
Be sure to check out more fabulous snippets listed on Snippet Sunday on Facebook
and on the Weekend Writing Warriors website
.
Happy reading!
Categories: animals, Books, Cowboys, Dude ranches, Horses, Love, Mystery, nature, outdoors, Romantic suspense, suspense, Uncategorized, Western romance, Wyoming | Tags: , , , , , , , | 33 Comments

Sheep and Writing Stories

.

borrowed chickens.

Please welcome my guest KB Inglee. KB writes historical short stories which have appeared in several print anthologies.  Her story “Weavers Trade” placed second in Bethlehem Writers Roundtable. Many of her story ideas come from her job as historical interpreter at two living history museums near her Delaware home. And sheep are often her inspiration.

******

When I was 7 my sister was given riding lessons as a Christmas present. How can that be fair when I was the one who devoured every horse book in the library and turned our back yard apple tree into a whole stable of horses? The first story I wrote was about a horse named Star.

Imagine my surprise when I realized my first novel had not one single animal in it. It was set in a time when horses were common forms of transportation. I didn’t have so much as a cat in the kitchen.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIf you are going to write historicals, you need to do the things your characters do. I visited a living history museum near my home and discovered a flock of heritage sheep. I learned to give tours, tell the story of the family that lived there. My first published work (Farmer’s Daughter, Miller’s Son) is a kid’s look at the time period. I hand stitched a set of appropriate clothing. All the while I was longing to get my hands on the sheep. I wanted to do any animal type work my characters might have done: drive oxen, plow with horses, and raise chickens. I don’t remember when I was first invited to work with the sheep, probably I got to feed them when the regular shepherds were out of town. In ten years I worked myself up to head shepherd.

I was of an age where I was happy to move from 1200 pound animals with heavy feet with iron shoes to something smaller which didn’t break bones when it stood on my toes. I have been present at the birth of lambs, had had to put down old and sick animals that have been my friends for years. I can tell you how the industrial revolution changed agriculture and how the market value of sheep has changed over the years. I can process wool from the back of the sheep to the back of the person. I even butchered a sheep.

author vs sheepIf I have a muse at all, it is these animals. Like my protagonist they appear gentle but they will happily knock you down and walk over you if you are in the way. Like my protagonist they are patient and can stand around for hours waiting. If you have food, then they will push and shove to get to it, just as my protagonist will to find the answer to a problem.

If I am stuck for an idea or the way out of a plot problem, all I have to do is stand among the sheep. I can dig my fingers deep into the wool, listen to them breathe, watch them interact with each other and with me and the visitors. It may be a form of meditation.

There are still no animals in my narratives, but I have a whole flock involved in the writing.

*****

Here are some of KB’s stories, available on Amazon.

Joseph's captivity.

“Joseph’s Captivity”, Untreed Reads, 2012
A grumpy Joseph finds himself exiled, not to Egypt, but to an island
off the coast of Maine in the early colonial period.

Fish Nets.

“Netted”, Fish Nets, Wildside Press, 2013
A pile of string helps uncover a murderer

Magic Bullet.

“The Magic Bullet“, Death Knell V, Infinity Press, 2013
An article in French and an old gun provide the clues to solve a series of armed robberies.

Categories: animals, anthologies, history, living history, Mystery, outdoors, sheep, Short story, suspense, Uncategorized, writing | Tags: , , , , , | 15 Comments

99¢ E-BOOK SALE

99 book sale

Check out the awesome books–including Wyoming Escape!

.

If you enjoy eBooks, over 60 authors have come together to offer their books for .99 for four days only. Get ’em while you can.

.

http://99kindle.blogspot.com/

Categories: Books, Christmas, Mystery, Paranormal, Romantic suspense, suspense, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Jerrie Alexander

Jerrie Alexander.

Romantic suspense author, Jerrie Alexander, is my guest today and we’re going to switch it up a little. Instead of talking about animals, she’s going to answer some questions, both silly and serious, so we can get to know her better. And she’ll tell us who she’d like to play one of her heroes.

Before we get started I want to remind you of the two promotions I’m part of this month.

The Winter Wonderland Scavenger Hunt. http://tinyurl.com/n85tvtn

Indie Tribe Special Christmas Showcase. http://tinyurl.com/nxyqbxn

Now to get to our questions:

If you were an animal, what kind would you be? (Can’t stay entirely away from animals.)
Hmm, I wanted to say a dog, but only if I could pick my owner. We have a dog somebody threw away…literally. We found him in our back yard, too weak to lift his head. The vet said he’d been traveling and he’d been bitten by a much larger dog, which wouldn’t take much. Buddy weighs ten pounds. So maybe, I’d be a dolphin. They live as a family, seem to be happy, are playful, and protect each other. A bonus is that I love the ocean.

Who are the important people in your life? Have they influenced your writing?
Without a doubt, my family. We’re a tiny group as neither my husband or I came from large families, but we love each other!
They do influence my writing. My husband has always told me I could do or be anything I wanted. Who could go wrong with that kind of support? One of the last John Wayne type of character, a little of him is in every hero I write. Our daughter critiques my work. She’s invaluable.

What’s your favorite dessert?
Can you say sugar? 🙂 If it is sweet, I’m there. To pick one is like asking which one of my books is my favorite. If I have to choose, Tarimisu. Love it!

What books would you take with you to a desert island?
Other than, “How to Survive on a Desert Island?” Anything written by Linda Howard. I’d throw in a few Elizabeth Hoyt historical romances (she’s my go to when I need a break from romantic suspense.)

What prompted you to write your book? Did you want to say something specific?
I’ve always loved to write. Many, many moons ago, I thought I wanted to be a reporter and studied journalism. My desire to embellish quickly changed to fiction.

Specific? Maybe that women are strong, resilient creatures. My heroines, in spite of bad things happening to her or her loved ones, play a vital role in solving the problems.

What’s your favorite room in your house?
Our living room. There’s nothing special about it to describe. Couch, chairs, fireplace, and big screen TV. But at the end of the day, it’s where we put our feet up and relax together. It’s where we talk to each other.

What is your writing process? (How do you develop your stories?)
I’m a solid panster. I do a profile on each character. I have to  understand each personality, then I decide what the base issue is and to whom. But the story unfolds as I write. Sometimes it generates a lot of rewriting, but as hard as I’ve tried, plotting doesn’t work for me.

If you were a color (red, blue, green, etc.), what would you be?
Red! It’s always been my favorite color. To tell the truth, I have no idea why, but if there’s something on the rack that’s red, it calls to me. 🙂

Do you have any unusual writing habits?
I don’t think so. No ritual or lucky yoga pants. My friends and family would tell you differently. I agonize over the beginning of a new book. Searching for something new and fresh, I worry that I’ll never come up with a unique story line. So I’ll pour over FBI profile books and news stories until I find a scenario that I can make mine. I don’t guess that’s a habit…more of a quirk.

Coffee or tea? Beer or wine? Sweet or tart?
Coffee in the morning. Hot green tea during the day.
Most of the time it’s neither. I can drink one glass of wine. Drink two and the next morning, I’ll have a hangover. Hate that feeling!
Sweet! Blue Bell ice cream in particular.

If your book is made into a TV movie, who do you want to play the hero?bailey chase 1
Along with the character profile, I find a picture for each one. In my first book, The Green-Eyed Doll, Bailey Chase would be perfect. He plays Branch, the deputy on Longmire.

What’s your next project?
No Chance in Hell, book three in the Lost and Found, Inc series. It’s Marcus Ricci’s story and I’ve completed eight chapters so there’s a lot more to be done. Marcus carries a big guilt and hasn’t been happy for a long time. He’ll get there, but I make him earn it. 🙂

****************************

Jerrie’s latest book is Cold Day in Hell, book two in her Lost and Found, Inc series.

Cold-Day-In-HellEbook200x300Ex-Army Ranger Tyrell Castillo’s first mission for Lost and Found, Inc. goes awry when his contact is kidnapped, and he’s left scrambling for weapons and explosives. He’ll have to blow up a drug cartel’s compound, rescue the woman, and keep her safe while they cross the sweltering hot Colombian jungle.

Driven by the need for revenge, Ana Maria Vega Cisneros doesn’t want to be rescued. She wants revenge. She’ll risk her life to ensure the drug lord who killed her family suffers the same fate.

The cartel leaves a trail of blood on their hunt for Ty and Ana. When Ty receives the order to kill the drug lord with extreme prejudice, he and Ana will face the enemy head on. Can Ty protect the woman who’s hell bent on vengeance? The woman he’s grown to love?

.

Excerpt:

Ana Cisneros stood close to the window. Craning her neck to see outside, she was unaware he’d entered the room. With no time for introduction, he reached around and clamped his hand over her mouth.

As expected, he’d startled her. She fought, slinging her body back and forth like a wet dog. She kicked at him, so he whirled her around and jerked her body snug against his.

“Quit struggling. I’m here to help you,” he whispered, trying to sound reassuring. No doubt, with the flames outside casting an eerie glow, he looked like an alien. A man wearing night-vision goggles, geared up with a pistol on his hip and another in a holster strapped to his thigh, and a rifle over his shoulder would scare most anybody. Not to mention the machete sheathed on his back and the SOG knife in his hand. “Do you understand?”

He took the slight movement of her head as a yes and relaxed the pressure off her lips. His reward? She bit his finger and pummeled his ribs with her free fist.

What the hell? The lamb had attacked the lion. He reapplied the pressure while keeping one eye on the door.

“Stop that,” he commanded, impressed at her bravado.

Even through the lens on the night-vision goggles, he spotted a bruise on her cheek. Heat sizzled up his spine at the bastard who’d hit her.

He’d expected fear or panic to be oozing from her every pore, but didn’t sense either emotion from her. Waves of anger rolled off her.

He didn’t have time to reason with her. And from what he’d seen so far, sweet-talking her was out. “I’m going to remove my hand. If you fight me, I’ll tie and gag you. Got it?”

This time he got a full nod. The expression behind her eyes made him doubt her honesty.

“I don’t have time to argue, so you’ll have to trust that I’m the contact you were supposed to meet in Bogota.” Cautiously, he lifted two fingers from her lips and waited to see if she complied.

“I know who you are,” she hissed. “And you’ve ruined everything.”

“Me? I think you’ve cornered the market on screw-ups.” He quickly assessed her condition. Other than the bruise, she appeared to be unharmed. Long dark hair fell around her shoulders. She wore jeans and a T-shirt.

Damn, she was a little thing. Beautiful, bruised, and pissed. Protecting her as they crossed the sweltering jungle wasn’t going to be easy. This woman was going to make the next few days a living hell.

******

Buy Links:
Amazon:  http://goo.gl/nXU8QV   Available in print or Ebook
Barnes & Noble:  http://goo.gl/zTOA2i    Available in print

Contact Jerrie at:
Webpage – http://www.jerriealexander.com
Blog – http://www.jerriealexander.com/category/blog/
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/pages/Jerrie-Alexander /121521571355959?ref=hl
Twitter – http://www.twitter.com/jerriealexander
Goodreads – http://www.goodreads.com/jerriealexander
Google+  – https://plus.google.com/u/0/
Pinterest – http://pinterest.com/jerriealexander/

Categories: Books, Cowboys and Lawmen, lawmen, Mystery, outdoors, romance, Romantic suspense, suspense, Uncategorized, writing | Tags: , , , , , , | 25 Comments

Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?

spaceneedleMy guest today is Mitzi Flyte. Mitzi enjoys saying that she got her first writing rejection more than fifty years ago at the age of 12. (Now you know how old she is) That rejection didn’t stop her from writing. Even being a Registered Nurse didn’t stop her. Mitzi’s been published in short story and poetry anthologies and in the local newspaper. She also had an erotic novella published under a pen name (she was still employed at the time). Retired from nursing, Mitzi spends her time online and writing. And, oh, yeah, she’s returned to school to get a BA in Professional Writing. Mitzi lives in rural Pennsylvania with her husband and daughter who are also writers, an assortment of cats (not enough to be called “crazy”) and a dopey hound dog.

******

Before we get to Mitzi’s post, I’d like to put in a small promo for the Winter Wonderland Scavenger Hunt put on by Night Owl Reviews. A group of authors, including me, are offering gift baskets to lucky winners. Prizes include gift cards, signed books, eBooks, jewelry, swag and even a Kindle. This is your chance to find great authors and books and win something too. Visit their site and sign up.  http://www.nightowlreviews.com/v5/Pages/Articles/Winter-Wonderland-2013

******

“Who’s afraid of The Big Bad Wolf?”
“I’ll huff and I’ll puff and I’ll blow your house down.”small__5425196221

“My, Grandma, what big teeth you have…”
“All the better to eat you with…”

We grew up with these tales of wolves.

But are wolves really bad-actors?

Throughout history humans have feared the wolf because it is a large predator. At 100 pounds for a male and slightly less for a female, a wolf is about the size German Shepherd. They are usually a mottled gray in color but can be black, reddish brown and even white. They are pack predators that can and do target domestic herd animals such as goats and sheep. However, since records started being kept in the 1800s there has been no documented case of a healthy wolf attacking a human—any recorded attacks were by a rabid wolf or a wolf-dog hybrid. Wolves are naturally afraid of humans and tend to “disappear” into their surroundings when humans are nearby.

Throughout American history wolves have been feared by the farmer and rancher. Over the years that fear decimated the wolf population in North America, which is slowly returning. In parts of Europe wolves were hunted to extinction.

The wolf is a pack animal; the pack consists of an adult pair and their offspring. It takes a pack to raise the pups. The alpha pair may even “adopt” offspring of other wolves.

They have a wide area for hunting prey, are very territorial and will defend that territory to the death.

Humans have taught the wolf survival skills. During the 1800s when the bison were being exterminated by hunters, wolves learned to listen for the gunshots, wait until the bison was skinned and then they would go in to feed on the carcass. In more modern times when wolves were hunted from the air, they learned to avoid wide-open spaces when there was the sound of an airplane.

Once on the endangered lists, their numbers are growing; however, there continues to be a backlash against these animals. To learn more and to help in the preservation of wolves in the wild, go to:

https://www.facebook.com/wolfwatcher.org
http://www.lakotawolf.com/
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Lakota-Wolf-Preserve/249291433960
http://wolfsanctuarypa.org/

Inescapably, the realization was being borne in upon my preconditioned mind that the centuries-old and universally accepted human concept of wolf character was a palpable lie… From this hour onward, I would go open-minded into the lupine world and learn to see and know the wolves, not for what they were supposed to be, but for what they actually were.

-Farley Mowat, Never Cry Wolf

*****

small__2475444361The Guardian Prophecy by Mitzi Flyte– release February 2014

If everything we were told about wolves is false, then what about what we were told about werewolves.

Zoologist Kate Riley has spent several days testifying before Congress about the effects of climate change on North American animals and returns home to help an investigation of an unusual death, possibly done by a wolf. Kate owns a wolf preserve in the Pennsylvania mountains and can account for each one in the preserve. Patrick Brendan, another specialist, is brought onto the case and believes that the killer may be more than just an animal.

As the death toll mounts, Kate finds herself being stalked by memories of a distant past and a chilling evil. She begins to doubt Brendan and her own scientific knowledge. Is the killer more than an animal? Is Brendan more than who he says he is? And why is she drawn to a man who could be a murderer?

.

You can contact Mitzi at:

http://www.mitziflyte.com/
https://www.facebook.com/MitziFlyteAuthor

https://twitter.com/mitziflyte

.

.

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/tambako/5425196221/”>Tambako the Jaguar</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;
photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/ucumari/2475444361/”>ucumari</a&gt; via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;

Categories: Mystery, outdoors, Paranormal, Romantic suspense, Uncategorized, Werewolves, Wolves | Tags: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Blog at WordPress.com.