Posts Tagged With: suspense

Happy Holidays!


Christmas tree

For my last post of this year I’d like to wish everyone a joyous holiday season.

Happy Holidays to all!




If you’re looking for a fun read during the holidays, take a look at my two books. I featured Wyoming Escape last week. This time I’m spotlighting FOREWARNING.


Forewarning Cover 2



 When Kasey Edwards finds a badly injured man, she knows she has to take an action that terrifies her—to use her abandoned energetic healing skills to save his life. Following her husband’s suicide, she had closed her healing practice and retreated to her ranch. Now she is thrust back into the world she rejected and into unexpected danger. Her old friend Jim Bradley, who has long been in love with her, pushes her to return to her work. When criminals looking for her patient invade the serenity of her world, she must use her skills to save all three of their lives.


Here’s an excerpt from when she is waiting at the hospital:


With each step down the deserted hall to the waiting room, the band around Kasey’s chest drew tighter. The frantic desire to scurry back to her ranch, to run from what she had done, almost made her turn around. She suppressed the urge. She needed to find out if the man would be okay, to find out if she had helped—or hurt—him.


She stopped in the ladies room to wash the blood off her hands and clean up a bit. Her mother’s brown eyes and heart-shaped face stared back at her from the mirror as she dried her hands. But the auburn hair she smoothed and gathered into a low ponytail again was her father’s legacy, as was her empathic sensitivity. He possessed an uncanny ability to understand animals and deal with their problems and had been known as a “horse whisperer” long before the term became popular.


His ability to feel emotions extended to people as well as animals, for which Kasey was grateful. Her breath caught as she thought of his gentle love and support. He’d helped her understand and deal with her sensitivity, showing her it was a gift rather than a curse. How often during this past year she’d wished she could turn to him for help, as she had as a child. That wasn’t possible. He had his own pain to deal with, and she couldn’t burden him with hers.


Leaving the restroom, she continued down to the waiting area. Tonight was the first time she’d been to the hospital since Brian’s death, and the small, chair-filled lounge stirred up painful memories. Memories of the man who had been her life. To her relief, the room was empty, and she chose a seat in a corner where she wouldn’t be easily seen.


Exhaustion dropped her into the chair with unexpected force. She tried to focus on the television in the corner; instead the night’s events kept playing over and over in her mind. The blood on the man’s too-pale face. The raw, charred skin of his palm. Her hands focusing healing energy. Her hands focusing healing energy.


Her legs began a restless dance, so she jumped up to walk off some of the tension. What she really needed was to go for a run. Since that wasn’t possible, she returned to her chair and started a deep breathing exercise—in for four counts, hold two, out for seven counts and hold for two. Eventually the rhythmic pattern took effect. Her eyelids closed, and her head flopped to the side in a restless doze.


Jim Bradley paused at the door of the waiting room and gazed at the sleeping woman. Damn, she’s lovely. Not that Kasey would agree right now, of course, given her mud-stained jeans, green rubber boots and ratty sweatshirt. To him, she looked wonderful. He let the desire he always suppressed when around her thrum freely through his body. For this moment, he didn’t have to be on guard. For this moment, he could just enjoy looking at her and contemplate a time when he could let her know his heart. Soon, he hoped. Soon.


Kasey shifted in her chair and Jim quickly brought his feelings under control, directing his thoughts to the surgery he had just completed. Now was not the time to reveal his yearning. She had enough to deal with tonight. He pulled his shoulders back and headed into the room.


“You’re going to a get a heck of a stiff neck if you stay kinked like that much longer.”


I hope you enjoyed this excerpt and want to read more. FOREWARNING is available on

                   Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple, Kobo, and Smashwords





photo credit: <a href=””>PKMousie</a&gt; via <a href=””>photopin</a&gt; <a href=””>cc</a&gt;
Categories: energetic healing, Forewarning, healing, Horses, Mystery, Paranormal, Romantic suspense, suspense, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

Free For Christmas!



Christmas is coming and WYOMING ESCAPE, my tale of danger and romance set on a Wyoming dude ranch, is free on kindleunlimited.



Wyoming Cover - 5.3x8.

Mikela Richard’s morning run turns horrific when she stumbles upon a dead body and then is chased through the woods. The next day is even worse when she discovers a second body in her office and realizes a dirty cop is responsible. With a past experience that makes her distrust the police, she goes on the run until she can unravel the mystery of the strange computer thumb drive she found in her car.


She ends up working as a cook at a Wyoming dude ranch where she meets Shawn Saunders, a Marine home on medical leave. Shawn recognizes the type of fear in Mikela’s eyes—it’s one of the things he’s come home to forget. Even though he knows it’s a bad idea, he can’t stop himself from trying to help her, while she’s even more afraid to let him. 


Here’s a short excerpt from when Mikela visits a new foal one evening:
A few minutes later, the old wooden floorboards creaked beside her. “That’s the loosest I’ve seen you since you got here,” a soft, male voice spoke from the shadows.


To her surprise, Mikela wasn’t startled. Somehow she had known he was there. Not raising her head, she shifted, resting her cheek on her arms.


“Babies have a way of doing that,” she responded. “They sleep so sweetly, all your cares seem to melt away when you watch them.”


She straightened as Shawn came to stand beside her. “Watching over your family?”


“Something like that. Enjoying the quiet and getting back into the rhythm of things. It takes some time to adjust to normal life after I return. The horses help a lot.” He leaned down and rested his arms on the top of the stall door, a soft expression on his face as he watched the pair sleep.


“How long do you have?”


“Eleven more days.”


“Then back to Afghanistan?”


“Unfortunately, yes.” He shifted, still keeping his gaze on the sleeping foal. “Let’s talk about something else.”


“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to … remind you of unpleasant things.” She automatically put her hand on his arm in a comforting gesture.


He placed a big paw on top of hers. “No problem.”


They stood joined for a long moment. Then Mikela gently pulled away. His touch set her pulse racing, made her want what she shouldn’t. She couldn’t afford to give in to the attraction tugging at her. He was so different from the men she usually encountered. Certainly poles apart from the one she’d married. She shook her head. Let’s not go down that path tonight.


Mikela knew she should leave, but her feet didn’t want to cooperate. She remained beside him, absorbing the peace and calm of the horses and his quiet solidity. When she put her hand back on the stall door, he reached over and covered it again. This time she let it stay, accepted the connection. Suddenly she felt herself aching to be held, to be enveloped in strong arms, to feel protected. The horror of the last two weeks suddenly pushed its way to the surface. Tears welled and began to stream down her face.


At the sound of her sob, Shawn spun around and reached for her. “What’s wrong, Mike?”


The soft concern in his voice released the damned up flood. She shook her head and started to turn away, but the next thing she knew she was pressed against his warm, hard chest as he rocked and murmured to her.


“It’s okay. Whatever the problem, it’ll be all right.”


When she tried to pull away, he kept her close and ran his hand up and down her back, soothing and gentling her. The comfort he offered was too enticing. She collapsed against him and let herself go. Several minutes passed before her sobs quieted. She took a shaky breath and became aware of his musky scent and the dampness beneath her face. His shirt was wet from her bawling. Embarrassed, she stiffened and tried to step away. But he didn’t release her.


“Sure you’re done? Sounds like you burst a water main. Might be more coming.” He pressed her head to his chest. “You’re fine where you are. Get it all out.”


Mikela relaxed against him. She’d already made a fool of herself—staying in his arms a little longer couldn’t make it any worse. When her breathing had returned to normal and her face was dry, she raised her head and drew back. This time he let her go.


“All better now?” he asked. “Want to talk about it?”


“Better, yes. Talk, no.” She wasn’t up to coherent speech yet. She knew she’d have to give some explanation, but certainly not the real one. “Sorry.”


“What’s to be sorry about? We all need to let go once in a while. It clears the air. I’ve seen things I’d like to cry about too.”


She tilted her head to see him more clearly. “I thought it was okay for guys to cry now.”


“Civilians, maybe. Marines, no way. Not in public anyway.”



I hope you enjoyed this piece and want to read more. WYOMING ESCAPE is available for the Kindle on Amazon.
Categories: adventure, animals, Books, Christmas, Cowboys, Dude ranches, fear, Horses, Mystery, romance, suspense, Uncategorized, Wyoming | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Onion Domes and New Writers


MaryPat Hyland.

My guest this week is Mary Pat Hyland, an award winning journalist and author of eight books, including a three-book chick lit series, a parody, a suspense novel, and a family saga . Her latest,  In the Shadows of the Onion Domes, is a short story collection inspired by the characters, gossip and local lore of the Triple Cities in upstate New York.  In addition to her writing she enjoys Gaeilge—the Irish language, music, dance, gardening, Finger Lakes wines and cooking. Today she’s giving us some good advice about writing.


Be sure to click the link at the bottom of this post to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway.


Five Pieces of Advice to a Beginning Author

1) Never tell someone the plot of your novel or story until the first draft is completed. Why? We write for an audience and if you get a response from someone and it’s positive, then why bother to do the hard work of writing it. You got the affirmation you needed. I speak from experience, unfortunately.

2) Always have a small notebook or smart phone nearby so that you can jot down story ideas when they occur. Inspiration is capricious and you must grab it like the string attached to a helium balloon, or else the idea will swiftly drift away.

3) Believe in yourself. It’s much easier to say than to put into practice. You will get one-star reviews and harsh criticism from editors. That’s a given. Listen carefully though, sift through it and discern what the correct advice is and do what needs to be done to improve the work. Sometimes, you should ignore both, though. No one on this earth will write the way you do, for your life experiences and influences are unique. Make sure to maintain your voice in whatever you write.

4) Do not become a writer for the sole purpose of creating a bestseller. That’s pretty shallow when you think about it. Write because there’s a story within that needs to be shared with this world. Write because it’s the drive that makes you get up in the morning and makes you curious about everything in the world around you. Write for the sheer joy of creative expression. Write because you have to empty your mind of the chatter from the characters lurking around in your gray matter. Write to live. Write!

5) Read a lot. Read often. Read varying genres from around the world. Read the classics; read pulp fiction. Read poetry; read plays. It is through this process that you will realize what you enjoy, see how other authors approach similar situations and how they define characters through choices of voice and description, learn to recognize characteristics of good writing and do it because it’s a good workout for your brain.



oniondomes_cover_kindleBy the confluence of the Susquehanna and Chenango rivers in New York’s Southern Tier lies a verdant valley called the Triple Cities.

The shoe factories that originally drew thousands of immigrants from across Europe have long moved on.

What remains are the distinct ethnic flavors of a gritty community determined to overcome economic woes, adapt to the rapid changes in society and find true meaning in life.

Consider these eighteen stories as pages ripped from a sketchbook. Some are quick studies; others are more detailed portraits inspired by observed characters, whispered gossip, overheard conversations and the local lore of the residents whose neighborhoods are framed by the gilded Orthodox Church domes that span this valley.

You’ll find that each tale has its own tone: some are humorous or poignant, others are surprising and haunting.





The Author’s eStore



Mary Pat is giving away an autographed copy of In the Shadows of the Onion Domes, six copies of her other ebooks and a piece of original art created by the author. Unfortunately I can’t figure out how to display the Rafflecopter entry form, so please go to:



Categories: Books, Giveaway, New York, Onion Domes, Short story, Triple Cities, Uncategorized, writing, writing advice | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments

Using Animals To Promote Plot and Theme

DJ Adamson.

My guest is D.J. Adamson, an award-winning author who has recently released her noir mystery novel Admit to Mayhem.  Her family roots grow deep in the Midwest where she sets much of her work. She juggles her time between her own desk and teaching others writing at two Los Angeles Colleges. Today she’s going to talk about how to use animals in your stories to reveal character and theme.



I remember Stephen King once saying that if you were writing horror, you need to put a dog or child into the plot because the vulnerability of someone innocent creates horror without a need for a lot of words or description. In his novella Secret Window, the protagonist finds his dog on his doorstep, killed. Horrible! Immediately the reader feels the protagonist is threatened by someone evil. And the reader is waiting for the next horrible act. Blake Synder’s book Save the Cat! The Last Book on Screenwriting You’ll Ever Need picks up on another animal use. Synder states that if the character does something nice, like saving a cat, then the character is immediately endeared to the reader. By the way, I think the Cohen Brother’s offered a giggle to Synder’s book by having their character in Inside Llewyn Davis literally save a cat and carry it around most of the movie. A joke the audience may not have gotten, but those of us who write immediately understood.

I use a cat in my novel Admit to Mayhem, a Lillian Dove Mystery series to do both what King and Synder suggest. I want the use of Bacardi to say something about my protagonist:

Cat Bacardi’s my cat, named for his brown and yellow coloring and my first drinking preference of rum and Coke. At the age of twelve, if you add enough cola, you forget all about the sweet tang of rum. Plus, Bacardi’s hair frizzed out from his body as if he’d stuck his claw in a light socket. When my hair was shorter, I’d woken up many a morning with that same look.

My protagonist Lillian Dove is a recovered alcoholic with a 5 year sobriety; however, sobriety is not a dominate theme in the book. This is not another novel about a protagonist that cannot keep sober (be it alcohol or drugs). Instead, Lillian’s objective in the novel and series is to take on life anew, with all its emotional, behavioral, and mystery challenges. With the description and affinity to her pet, I wanted the reader to get a feel for Lillian’s troubling past without doing a lot of backstory.

The overall plot of the novel begins when Lillian discovers a house fire and she becomes the only eyewitness to criminal arson. She is in jeopardy from someone who wants to stop her from identifying them. The plot is paced with events to create Lillian’s angst, but again, I wanted to offer my reader the vicarious ability to feel her anxiety and fear. So, I put Bacardi in jeopardy:

        It came to me then what was missing.

       “Where’s Bacardi? Bacardi’s missing.”


        “My cat.” I got down on my hands and knees and looked under the couch. Dust bunnies but no Bacardi. “Bacardi, where are you?” …I got in my car and drove one block after another, up one street and then the next, calling his name out into the night… “Bacardi?” I followed behind them, “Here kitty, kitty, kitty.”

        When I did get back to the condo, I couldn’t stay still. I searched each and every cranny I could think where he might possibly have crawled. Then I went back outside.

        I went without the Mustang this time. I walked and walked and walked the night away, calling.

        Several cats answered my calls. They patted quietly up to me purring as they rubbed against my legs. Others merely meowed back a hello. None were Bacardi. I know Bacardi’s yowl. It wasn’t until I came dragging back to the condo, exhausted, with a voice hoarse and feelings of failure that I allowed myself to truly take in the idea, “What if he never comes back? What if something bad happened to him?”


Pike is the major antagonist, and while Lillian may be threatened by Pike, and her mother may be threatened, having him possibly taken Bacardi is almost more than she can emotionally handle.

My novel is an amateur-sleuth novel which I classify as a soft-edged Midwest Noir. But no matter whether a writer is developing a conventional mystery, cozy, thriller or horror novel, the use of animals can help offer themes and provide movement of plot.




With a contrary attitude to life and an addiction for independence, Lillian Dove admits she has not been a success in life. In fact, she considers failing as one of her addictions. Yet, when she comes across a suspicious house fire with a history of arson and murder, she instinctively attempts to help someone trapped. Lillian becomes the only possible eyewitness to criminal arson, and her life begins to spiral out of control.



You can get Admit To Mayhem at:


To learn more DJ and her books, go to:




Categories: animals, Cats, Mystery, writing, writing characters | Tags: , , , , | 8 Comments

Cathy Perkins


Cathy Perkins.

My guest this week is the award-winning author Cathy Perkins. Using her background in the financial industry, she writes predominately financial-based mysteries, while also exploring her characters’ relationships. Her most recent book, CYPHER, released this month and is currently on sale for .99 on Amazon.

When not writing, Cathy can be found doing battle with the beavers over the pond height or setting off on another travel adventure. A native of South Carolina, she now lives in Washington with her husband, children, several dogs and the resident deer herd.


So Cathy, if you were an animal, what kind would you be?

Oh, I’d definitely want to be one of our dogs.  We aren’t sure if our dogs are part of the family or if we’re part of their pack, but the result is the same—one big happy unit. The Lab and the Puppy hang out in my office during the day, snoozing on giant beds, gnawing on marrow-packed bones, and placing their heads on my thigh to claim pats and back scratches. (If ignored because I’m paying too much attention to that small box, aka the computer, they’ll lift my hand off the keyboard with their nose.) On weekends, we’re all in the mountains at our place on the river, which our kids and their friends—along with all the family animals—have dubbed Best Dog Park Ever.

Can I join your pack. Sounds wonderful.

What’s your favorite dessert?

Ice cream is my weakness, with Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Fudge Brownie way up there in the deliciousness register. I will venture out of the strictly chocolate category for Cherry Garcia.

I knew we were kindred spirits. Cherry Garcia is my downfall too.

What’s your favorite room in your house?

My favorite room is actually the main room of our small weekend place in the mountains. The cabin has wonderful views of the river and surrounding mountains. It’s cozy with a fireplace for the winter and windows all around to let in delightful breezes and the sound of the river and songbirds the rest of the year. Heavenly! It’s compact, but filled with carefully chosen furnishings. We really hate leaving on Monday mornings.

Sounds delightful. Can I visit?

How do you develop your stories?

Most of my stories start with a “what if?” Without giving away the plot and all the twists, my most recent release, CYPHER, starts with, What if a hitman killed the wrong person?

The “whys” line up from there—why was the killer sent to murder the heroine? Why wasn’t she home? Why was her friend there and mistaken for her? The characters grow and become three-dimensional as I think through the implications and how that character will react to events unfolding around him or her. In CYPHER, both Cara and David have to fight for what they really want, and each has to trust the other, something that doesn’t come easily for them.

Because I love tightly plotted stories that twist and turn, I generally outline the major story lines. I’m always surprised when I finish the first draft and find small setups and details that my subconscious added. During edits, I weave these bits into the story to build out a suspect or enhance a theme.

Can’t wait to read it.

What’s your next project?

I’m working on a lighter story right now, set in the Cascade Mountains of Washington state instead of South Carolina (where my other stories are set). The starting point for my WIP occurred while cutting up with a friend. We riffed off the opening—there’s a body in the beaver pond. Oh, dam(n).

Oh my, watch out for those beaver ponds!

What types of books do you like to read?

I’m a voracious reader. Mysteries, thrillers and suspense are my ‘go-to’ stories, but I also enjoy literary, fantasy… I’ve been on a women’s fiction binge lately. So many of those stories delve deeply into relationships.

My stories are predominately mystery/suspense, but I tend to make them more character-driven than strictly action-oriented. I enjoy the way the characters’ internal conflicts play into the external plot, raising the tension and the stakes when it’s personal.




Cara Wainwright thinks life can’t get tougher when her mother’s cancer becomes terminal—until she returns home from the hospital and finds a courtyard full of police officers and her houseguests dead.

Greenville, SC Detective David Morris, is unsure if Cara is the suspect or the intended murder victim. Searching for insight into her family, their mounting secrets, and the conflicting evidence from multiple crimes, his attraction to Cara complicates his investigation. Is the lure need, manipulation—or real?

While David pursues forensic evidence, Cara pushes for answers about her father’s possible involvement, for at the center of the mystery stands Cypher—the company her father built and will take any measures to defend.

When the assassin strikes at the heart of the family, Cara and David have to trust each other and work together to stop the killer before he eliminates the entire Wainwright dynasty.



“This took place in your home. Is someone trying to hurt you?”

She met his eyes. “I don’t know.”

He waited for more.

Her hands rose and fell in a frustrated gesture. “Don’t you think I’ve asked myself that a thousand times? Ever since it happened, I’ve asked why? Was it random? Were they after me? One of them?” A flush climbed her cheeks, but her eyes didn’t waver. “Natalie looks a lot like me. She was in my bed.”

She stopped, her lips pressed tightly together. He was intently aware of her—how she held her head, her hands. The way she stood and sat. He didn’t want to be aware of her on that level, knew it couldn’t go anywhere. He also recognized the sensation wasn’t going to go away.



Your can get CYPHER at the following sites:


You can contact Cathy at:

Twitter                 @cperkinswrites

Categories: adventure, animals, Books, dogs, Mystery, nature, outdoors, romance, Romantic suspense, Uncategorized, writing | Tags: , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Judy Alter


Judy AMy guest this week is Judy Alter, author of the Kelly O’Connell mysteries and the Blue Plate Cafe mysteries. She has authored over sixty! books for adults and children, many of them about women in the American West. Today she answers questions and tells a little about her life and writing.



If you were an animal, what kind would you be?

If I was an animal, I’d like to be a dog—well cared for, of course, not homeless or in the fight pit. Dogs embody so many qualities that humans sometimes need more of—loyalty, unconditional love, protectiveness. I’ve had dogs—sometimes three or four at a time—all my life, and I don’t think I could live without one. It surprises me that they don’t play a major role in my fiction.

Who are the important people in your life? Have they influenced your writing?

The important people in my life are my four grown children, their spouses, and my seven grandchildren. Over the years they have been my cheer team, leading me always to try to do better. Also, their antics have supplied me with material. My oldest daughter said of one of my books, “It’s highly autobiographical.” And of course they’re a big part of my cookbook/memoir: Cooking My Way Through life With Kids and Books.

What’s your favorite room in your house?

My favorite room in my house is my office. I hate to admit to being a computer addict, but I am—it’s the first place I go in the morning and the last place at night. If I’m doing chores around the house, after an hour or so I think I better check my computer. When I eat alone (and I often do), I eat at my computer. My dog has her favorite (filthy) chair in there and keeps me company.

What is your writing process?

My writing process is haphazard at best. When I finish a novel, I go through a brief period of agony wondering what to do next. Then an idea begins to rattle around in my head, and after a week or so I make rough notes. It may be another week or two before I type those first words—they have to come to me as inspiration—but then I’m off and writing, with a goal of 1,000 words a day. My notes are rough enough that you’d definitely call me a pantser. I also don’t have a regular writing time but mornings mostly go to errands and busy work—at my desk or around the house—and I do my best writing after supper. During the school year I keep one of my grandsons after school, and we do homework.

What’s your next project?

My next project is to continue working on my marketing plan for The Perfect Coed, which launches mid October as my first indie published work. I’ve made a good start on advance buzz but have to keep it up. Ideas for the sequel are at the rattling around in my head stage.

What prompted you to write your books?

The reason I write cozy mysteries is because I enjoy reading them. They make up the bulk of my pleasure reading, though, often when a review is assigned, I read women’s fiction and memoir and historical fiction and nonfiction.




Deception in Strange Places

DECEPTION-JALTER-mdA Kelly O’Connell Mystery, Book 5


A woman desperately seeking her biological mother, a televangelist determined to thwart that search, a hired hit man, and in the midst of it all, a reclusive diva who wears Chinese silk gowns and collects antique Chinese porcelain. No one is telling the whole truth, and Kelly doesn’t know who to trust. She has gotten herself involved in a dangerous emotional tangle, and Mike doesn’t tell her to back off this time, even when events take them from Fort Worth to San Antonio.




“Someone’s trying to kill Ms. Lorna,” Keisha said calmly, never lifting her eyes from the keyboard.

It was not yet nine o’clock on an early September morning, and I had just delivered my two daughters to school—Maggie is now in middle school, but Em is still at the local elementary school. I was not in the mood to talk about killing and possible murders. The idea that someone was trying to kill our neighborhood diva/recluse seemed impossible, and I didn’t want to think about it. I wanted coffee. “Did you say the coffee’s ready?”

“Kelly O’Connell! You know darn good and well what I said. Someone’s trying to kill Ms. Lorna.” Now she had raised her eyes and was staring at me, a bit defiantly.

I sighed. “And you know this how? Your sixth sense?” Keisha really does have the sixth sense—it’s saved my life a couple of times. But I get a bit weary of her parading that sixth sense for everything. I like to tell myself I’m grounded in reality. My husband, Mike, would scoff at that but I don’t tell him.


Find Judy’s books at:



Turquoise Morning Press:


Learn more about Judy at:

Web page:
Twitter: @judyalter


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

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:

Amazon author page:


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.



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=””>Bradford Timeline</a> via <a href=””>photopin</a&gt; <a href=””>cc</a&gt;
Categories: anthologies, Cats, fear, history, Jack the Ripper, Maine Coon cats, Mystery, suspense, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | 12 Comments

Wildlife in Suburbia




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!





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! 



Buying Time available at Amazon
Twitter: @KellyLCochran
The Series:


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

Blog at