Monthly Archives: July 2012

Toot! Toot! 2012 Edgy Christian Fiction Lovers Blog Tour Is Here!

And I mean right here! Right now! Crime Fictionista blog is thrilled to be part of this year’s tour!!!

PERILOUS SHADOWS: (Historical Romantic Thriller, late-1940s ~~ dead coed/news professionals hunt a killer)

Pioneer newspaper woman Kiera Devane is on a mission to prove a woman can do a man’s job, as she hunts a young coed’s killer? Ace radio broadcaster Argus Nye lost one love to a murderous fiend and his pulse races as he tries to protect Kiera from herself as much as from this killer. (Sweet romance, warm intimacy, sophisticated themes)

Kiera was doted upon by loving parent, but they were killed when she was a girl and she was shipped off to live with a socialite aunt who had little time for her. In her aunt’s house, she learned life could be cold and cruel. As a result, she grew up to be an independent and demanding professional woman.

Argus Nye, still bereft from the loss of his first love, can’t understand why this female reporter is mesmerizing him. As she takes chances with her life trying to catch a killer, he’s determined to protect her.

What Makes This A “Hot” Summer Read? ~~ This is an exciting read. Heroine Kiera Devane is a character that grabs the reader and doesn’t let go. And any woman who’s faced a lot of trials in her life would want a man like hero Argus Nye in her life and on her side. The story has a bunch of twists and turns. Readers have told me they were surprised to find out who the killer was. All this makes a “hot” summer read.

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon/Kindle. http://is.gd/egHcSR

Barnes and Noble/Nook. http://is.gd/RJF2zy

GOODBYE NOEL: (Historical Romantic Thriller, mid-1940s ~~ murder/mayhem/romance) Won the 2011 Grace Awards Mystery/Thriller/Romantic Suspense category

The first body is found under a trimmed Christmas tree, the second as they ring in the New Year (1947), the third goes head long out a window. Will a young pediatric nurse determined to make it on her own be able to care for an infant whose mother was murdered and escape the killer who has struck again? Can she trust the stalwart village detective with her life and her heart as he works to catch this killer before somebody else dies? (Sweet romance, warm intimacy, sophisticated themes)

Pediatric nurse, Katrina Lenart, grew up strong willed and independent minded, while sharing her mother’s flair for high fashion. When the police chief gives her an orphaned baby to care for, her maternal instincts take over and she’s willing to fight anyone who might not have the infant’s best interests at heart, even the man she’s growing to love. After an attempt is made to kidnap the baby, she and the resolute village detective team up and do some sleuthing, undercover at a cult as well as at a fancy ball.

Detective Ian Daltry is a widower with a child and is not interested in a new love. Hunting a killer who stops at nothing has placed him in the position where he must protect a beautiful young woman he’s drawn to. Is there’s something he’s overlooked in analyzing the case? Will he find out what that is before this ruthless murderer kills someone he loves?

What Makes This A “Hot” Summer Read? ~~ Think Christmas in July for fast paced novel set over the Christmas/New Years holidays (1946/47). It’s a thriller for any season with a vicious killer on the loose and bodies piling up. If you like a story where the killer turns the tables and starts to hunt the good-guys, this one’s for you!

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon/Kindle.  http://is.gd/o9OjxU

Barnes and Noble/Nook. http://is.gd/kvedMy

BURNING HEARTS: (Historical Romance Thriller, mid-1940s ~~ arson/murder, action, and romance in equal measure)  Finaled in the Grace Awards 2011 Romance/Historical Romance category.

Can a sheltered young seamstress, disillusioned by the horrors of WWII, escape an arsonist/murderer who has killed her employer and mentor, while trying to decide if she can trust the dashing war hero who’s ridden into town on his Harley—who some say is the murderer?  (Sweet romance, sophisticated themes)

Erica Brogna’s parents doted on her and taught her to think for herself. Many boys she grew up with had fallen in the WWII, shaking her childhood faith. In rides a handsome stranger, at the hour of her most desperate need. A woman who is her close friend and mentor is trapped in a burning house. After making an unsuccessful rescue attempt, Erica stands by as this man rushes into the inferno and carries her friend’s lifeless body out.

Lorne Kincade can’t out run his past on his Harley Davidson WLA, the civilian model of the motorcycle he rode in the war. He’s tried. He’s been a vagabond biker in the year since the war ended. His Uncle Ivar bequeathed him a ramshackle cottage in Sanctuary Point, on the South Shore of Long Island, NY and now he’d like to hope for a future again, repair the miniscule place, and settle down. The only problem is, a young woman with hair the color of mink is starting to get under his skin and that’s the last thing he needs.

What Makes This A “Hot” Summer Read? ~~ For those who love a sweetly clean murder mystery with tons of thrills and action and packed with romance…not to mention a deranged killer…this is it! Lorne and Erica are strong characters with moral conviction. It’s a good read.

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon/Kindle.    http://is.gd/kw3T4I

Barnes and Noble/Nook. http://is.gd/oILMDz


Writing The Cozy Mystery by Nancy Mehl

Ask almost any reader to explain what defines a mystery novel and most will respond with definite characteristics they feel should be present in this popular genre. However, ask the same reader to explain the elements of a “cozy” mystery and you may see a look of confusion creep across their face. So just what makes a mystery “cozy?”

 

The most fundamental elements in cozy mystery are fairly easy to define. First of all, there will be a basically bloodless crime that may happen “offstage.” In other words, by the time our amateur detective arrives on the scene, the dirty deed has already been done. Now, our sleuth, who is usually female, must solve the mystery because of circumstances she cannot avoid. In other words, the crime involves her directly in some way. This is true with any mystery, but in a cozy, many times the reasons behind her involvement are much more personal. Other signs that you’ve cracked open a cozy involve a small, confined setting; the lack of profanity and sexual content; a protagonist with an interesting hobby or job; and memorable, quirky characters. Also, many cozies are drawn with a touch of humor. Some go further, actually adding some giggles to the usual nasty business of murder and mayhem. Now let’s look a little more closely at each of these elements.

 

One very important trait of a cozy mystery revolves around “location, location, location!” Cozies take place in confined settings, thereby drawing upon a small cast of characters and suspects. In other words, the killer can’t be someone passing though town who simply decides to “off” a few of the town’s gentle citizens!  The “investigation” needs to involve only the characters presented within this setting. You can use a small town, a ship, even an old hotel or isolated castle. This restricted location keeps the mystery contained – and the world out. Since cozies are not police procedurals, many times the setting will actually cut down on official involvement. For example – a woman goes to visit an old friend who has turned an old Victorian-styled church into a bed and breakfast. Someone staying at the inn is murdered while a storm rages outside. The bridge to town is washed out, leaving our protagonist, the surrounding characters, and the murderer caught like rats in a trap. Of course, since our characters can’t get out, the police can’t get in. Now the fun begins! One caveat: if you draw law enforcement into your story, you need to be as accurate as you can. Again, police in rural towns may not be as “by the book” as say, detectives in New York City, but don’t fudge the details past the limits of believability. For my “Ivy Towers Series,” I consulted an actual deputy sheriff who worked in rural areas of Kansas. This helped me to “keep it real” for my readers.

 

Addressing the overwhelming glut of mysteries on the market with language and sexual scenes that would have caused my grandmother to “swoon,” brings a mixed bag of opinions from mystery authors and readers alike. However, I believe cozies should be “gentle” mysteries. In keeping with this idea, no “harsh” profanity or lurid “boudoir” passages should be present. Usually, cozy mysteries are selected by readers who specifically want to avoid graphic words and images. Of course, in an inspirational cozy, this point is non-negotiable. No profanity allowed at all! In fact, various inspirational publishers have different standards. One publisher bans the use of “Holy cow!” while another has no problem with it. In my book, “There Goes Santa Claus,” upon finding a dead Santa Claus that has fallen off his roof, Amos Tucker greets the sight with “J-Jumpin’ Jehosaphat, Ivy. I think we just killed Santa Claus!” Many of today’s contemporary mystery novels might have offered language a little more colorful!

 

Now, on to s-e-x. Cozies should contain little or no sexual content. In inspirational cozy, there can be romance, but sex only occurs between married couples – and it definitely happens offstage! Remember the old black and white movies where the couple kissed, the camera swung away from them, and in the night sky behind them fireworks exploded? You got the idea without the embarrassing details!

 

A current trend in cozies gives our amateur detective an interesting hobby or job that adds an element of interest. Of course, this isn’t always true. Although Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple was an interesting character, her creativity expressed itself most clearly in her mental acumen. However, today’s heroines can be hairdressers, interior designers, cooks, quilters or may be characterized by some other specific professional or personal involvement. And “county coroner” doesn’t work here. It’s difficult to make that funny. In my “Curl Up and Dye” mystery series, my protagonist, Hilde Higgins, is a hairdresser – for funeral homes. That’s about as dark as you can get. One side note: I came up with this idea because I was joking with my agent one day about all the “hooks” being used by mystery authors. We agreed that the hairdressing sleuth had been done. My mention of someone who worked in a funeral home brought the revelation of another author who was already writing a similar series. As a joke, I mentioned a hairdresser who works for funeral homes. The concept got burned into my imagination and the “Curl Up and Dye” mysteries were born.

 

Another “cozy” element involves likeable, “quirky” characters drawn with humor, who appear to have something “mysterious” in their backgrounds. These characters can all be possible suspects. Be careful though, not to paint a picture of someone who seems completely innocent and then surprise your reader at the last minute by making him the murderer. Mystery fans, including cozy mystery fans, ask you to play fair. Hints must be dropped and clues must be scattered! And whatever you do, pick up all your clues by the end of your story and explain. Mystery buffs don’t like to be left hanging. Never forget a cozy mystery is still a mystery and as an author, you must play by the rules.

 

In conclusion, cozy mysteries are stories presented as gentle gifts to be unwrapped while the reader snuggles under their favorite quilt and sips hot tea or cappuccino. Inspirational cozies should not only warm the heart but should also touch the spirit.  They will never shock the reader or cause them to upend their cappuccino. (A little laughter might cause a small spill – but in a cozy, this reaction is perfectly acceptable!)

 

Author Bio:

Nancy Mehl lives in Wichita, Kansas with her husband Norman and her very active puggle, Watson. She’s authored twelve books and is currently at work on her newest series for Bethany House Publishing. The first book, “Inescapable,” releases in July of 2012. All of Nancy’s books include a touch of “mystery.”

Her cozy mysteries include: (The Ivy Towers’s series) In the Dead of Winter, Bye, Bye Bertie, For Whom the Wedding Bell Tolls (which won the Carol Award for mystery in 2009), and There Goes Santa Claus. (The Curl Up and Dye Mysteries) Missing Mable and Bumping Off Binky. *All of these cozies are available as ebooks.

Purchase Links:

INESCAPABLE ~  Lizzie Engel is used to running away. At eighteen, she left her Mennonite hometown, Kingdom, Kansas, with plans never to return. But five years later, the new life she built is falling apart. Lizzie knows she’s being followed, and she’s certain the same mysterious stranger is behind the threatening letters she’s received. Realizing she’ll have to run again, the only escape Lizzie can manage is a return to the last place she wants to go

Amazon (including Kindle). http://tinyurl.com/8xmu7wu

Barnes and Noble (including Nook). http://tinyurl.com/6lqmgpd

Nancy’s Web site is: www.nancymehl.com. Her blog is www.nancymehl.blogspot.com. She is also very active on Facebook.

 

 


The Cover for PERILOUS SHADOWS, plus excerpt

Perilous Shadows Blurb: (historical romantic thriller, late-1940s)

 

Pioneer newspaper woman Kiera Devane is on a mission to prove a woman can do a man’s job, as she hunts a young coed’s killer? Ace radio broadcaster Argus Nye lost one love to a murderous fiend and his pulse races as he tries to protect Kiera from herself as much as from this killer.

 

Kiera was doted upon by loving parent, but they were killed when she was a girl and she was shipped off to live with a socialite aunt who had little time for her. In her aunt’s house, she learned life could be cold and cruel. As a result, she grew up to be an independent and demanding professional woman.

 

Argus Nye, still bereft from the loss of his first love, can’t understand why this female reporter is mesmerizing him. As she takes chances with her life trying to catch a killer, he’s determined to protect her.

 

Excerpts:

Chapter One

 

Sanctuary Point

South Shore of Long Island, NY

Late August, 1947, early afternoon

 

It shouldn’t be this hard to come up with something. Argus Nye sat in his chair and stared blankly through the doorway of his miniscule office into WSAN’s empty hallway. He scratched his head and a sandy brown lock tinged with gray fell into his face. His hunt for a good local news story had come up empty, making him antsy. This wouldn’t do. After all, he had to live up to his rep as the Scottish Scoop Sniffer.

With one swift movement of his legs, he shoved his chair away from the desk and it hit the back wall. The old wooden chair’s wheels squeaked. One day he’d have to bring in a can of oil. The radio station sure wasn’t going to get him a new chair. He stretched, rubbed his eyes, and stood.

He didn’t want to center the broadcast around last night’s auto fatality on the Southern State Parkway. An hour of that would get dry fast, if he could even stretch it to an hour. He could. He’d done it before.

His stomach growled. Might’ve been a good idea to have had more than coffee for breakfast. With a movement practiced over time, he jutted a hip out and his thigh skimmed the corner of his desk. Then he propelled himself through the narrow doorway. The leather bottoms of his wingtips clapped against the linoleum flooring all the way to the tiny kitchenette.

The aroma of fresh coffee enticing him, he marched toward the two-burner stove, where Jim Heaney stood. “Any coffee left?” Last thing he needed.

His boss had one hand on the chipped Formica countertop. The other held a black and white speckled enamel coffee pot. “Argus, you gave me a start. I was lost in thought.” The large man put the pot down on the stove. “Grab a cup and help yourself.” He opened the small refrigerator’s door, and took out a bottle of milk. “Not much left here.”

“Go ahead. I take mine black with a wee drop o’ sugar.” Argus deadpanned and poured, tossed two heaping spoons of sugar into the dark liquid, and stirred.

Jim rolled his eyes. “Yeah, I think I knew that.” The big man paced back and forth and took a swig.

“Something got you down?” Argus sipped, grimaced, and stirred in another spoon of sugar.

“Thanks for asking. I’m not sure I did the right thing bringing that coed from Adelphi Women’s College in for the summer intern position.”

“Clarissa? She’s a perky little lassie.” All pink frilly blouses and swirly skirts. “Now what’s got you thinking it was wrong taking her on?”

“She has these big plans… aspirations of someday writing a gossip column, even having a radio show featuring celebrities with a few society pieces thrown in the mix.”

Lars Kronen, a thin man with a large Adam’s apple and bony hands, walked in, picked up the coffee pot, and shook it. “Empty. This always happens ’cause my farm report’s after most folks’ lunch, so the coffee’s gone. I’ll ask Anna to make another pot.”

Argus took another swallow. “Clarissa’s sure at the right college to make society contacts so she can move into a gossip show.”

Lars banged the pot on the stove. “Women don’t belong in radio.”

Argus took another sip. “When Kiera Devane subbed for me last fall, the lass did a fine professional job. Come to think of it, didn’t she also attend Adelphi College?”

“I hear that Devane woman would stab her grandmother for a story.” Lars grunted, turned on his heel, and left.

“At least Kiera had some credible news experience behind her when she subbed for you. This girl has no such thing, but she’s full of big ideas for herself.” Jim ran his hand over a head of thick graying hair.

Argus laughed. “That’s why Clarrisa’s here in the summer intern position, to get experience. She’ll sharpen pencils, go out for sandwiches, help Anna with little things. What kind of trouble can she get into?”

“I just don’t want her parents blaming me for turning her into a Kiera Devane.”

Argus chuckled. “Little chance of that, laddie. This one’s all fluffy and cute, while by all accounts Kiera’s ferocious and…”

Screams coming from the reception area pierced the air.

“It’s Anna.” Argus ran down the hallway with Jim on his heels.

As they raced past Lars’ office, the farm reporter poked his long face out, Adam’s apple bobbing. “Is that Anna? What’s going on?”

Another shriek.

Argus pumped his arms to pick up his pace.

Anna’s body shook as she sobbed. She stood in front of the double-door closet in the front office — palms pressing both sides of her head, fingers tightly clutching her wavy, caramel hued hair. “On the floor. In the closet. My God, no… no.”

A smell Argus couldn’t put his finger on permeated the room. Sweat? Not quite decay. A window fan above the secretary’s desk drove hot air around the room, increasing the stench.

Argus rushed to the distraught secretary, put his arm around her shoulder, and followed her stricken gaze down. “Oh, my word. It’s Clarissa.”

He turned Anna away from the closet and sank down on one knee, feeling beneath the girl’s lush blond hair for the carotid artery. “No pulse. She’s dead.” He stood and shoved his trembling hand into his pants pocket.

Anna batted at errant strands of hair that kept falling into her face, as she choked down wracking sobs. “I went into the closet for paper clips and found Clarissa, lying in a heap on the floor.”

Argus took the secretary by the hands, and led her a few steps away from the closet. He rubbed her back. “There, there.” Those were the best words he could come up with. He dare not try to tell her everything would be all right. Not this time.

Jim closed the closet doors almost all the way. He glanced behind him. “Lars, would you take Anna into my office and stay with her?” It wasn’t a request.

The farm reporter took the secretary by the arm and led her down the hallway. She wept all the way.

Argus crossed the room and tapped Jim on the shoulder. “Try not to touch the doors. They’ll want to take fingerprints. Though my prints are probably there as well.”

Jim shoved both hands into his pockets. “Too late now. Most of us will have prints here. Mine are all over this closet, I’m sure.”

The front door swung open, letting in a ray of bright afternoon light. Paul Gregorski, the sportscaster, removed his white, summer fedora, sauntered in, and came to a stop. “What’s going on?”

Jim turned his large frame toward the new arrival. “Paul, we have a bad situation. Clarissa’s dead. Use the phone in your office and call the police.”

“What? Clarissa, no.” The glazed look in the sportscaster’s eyes reflected shock. He slowly nodded. “I’ll call.” He craned his neck to catch a glimpse of the crumpled body, and then rushed down the hall.

“Argus, I’d like you to wait here with me for the police.” The big man hefted himself on top of the secretary’s desk. His voice shook.

“Aye, that I will. What a tragic turn of events.” Argus sank into an upholstered chair wanting this all to be a bad dream. “Someone has to phone Clarissa’s family.”

Jim nodded. “I’ll do that.”

“Aye, of course.”

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon (including Kindle) http://tinyurl.com/847moxx

Barnes and Noble (including Nook) http://is.gd/RJF2zy

Desert Breeze Publishing, author page http://stores.desertbreezepublishing.com/-strse-template/NikeChillemi/Page.bok


CLEANSED BY FIRE by James R. Callan ~ an interview

Someone’s burning churches. What an interesting premise. And so, I’m thrilled to have James R. Callan here today sharing about his exciting novel CLEANSED BY FIRE. 

First let’s take a sneak peek at what the story’s about…

Churches are burning and a man is murdered, plunging a small Texas town into a state of fear. Father Frank DeLuca, pastor of Prince of Peace Church, is thrust into an impossible dilemma when he hears that another church will be burned. But the disturbing information comes to him via the confessional, and church law forbids him from telling anyone—even the police.

He doesn’t know which church, when, or by whom. Still, he can’t sit idly by, and no law prevents him from looking into the matter himself. The crimes have set the town’s residents on edge, fraying the bonds of trust. Is the mysterious newcomer with ties to the drug scene involved? What about the man who says maybe the churches deserved to burn? Or the school drop-out into alcohol and drugs who attacks the priest with a knife? 

Countering this are a young widow whose mission is to make others shine, and a youth choir determined to help those whose churches have been destroyed by the arsonist.

Father Frank’s investigation leads him dangerously close to the local drug scene and he soon discovers the danger has come to him. Can he save his own church? Can he save his own life.

Nike: Wow! That’s intriguing. Sounds like a real page turner. However, there’s usually a personal story about what motivated the author to start writing. James, how long have you been writing and what started you on your writing journey?

James: I’ve been writing for perhaps fifteen years.  But the first part of that time was strictly  non-fiction books.  I had intended to write when I was in my 20’s, but couldn’t support a family on writing. So I took a thirty year detour as a mathematician. Then one day I said, I don’t have to support a family anymore.  I can go back to my first love, writing.

Nike: Tell us something about your main character in CLEANSED BY FIRE we won’t glean from the blurb.

James:  Father Frank has to struggle with his temperament. When he sees problems caused by man, he has to work to keep his temper under control.  One of his problems is to remain true to his role as a minister of God, while part of his nature wants to retaliate.

Nike: What motivated you to write CLEANSED BY FIRE?

James:  There were several church burnings in east Texas a couple of years ago. While they finally caught and convicted two men, they never found a motive other than, “Can we get away with it.”  I wondered what could be a motive for burning churches. Cleansed by Fire came from that.

Nike: Would you consider yourself a “panster” – or a plotter? Or are you a combination of both?

James:  I’m a little of both, but more of a plotter.  I need to have an idea of what the outcome might be.  Often, as the book takes shape, this changes.  But I need an idea at the beginning of what the end could be.

Nike: What was the toughest thing you’ve encountered in this wacky world we call publishing?

James:  Marketing.  It seems that today, no matter who publishes your book, you are responsible for the lion’s share of marketing.  That’s tough for me.

Nike: What is the one thing you’d like your reader to take away from CLEANSED BY FIRE?

James:  I’d like the reader to say, “That was a good mystery. I really enjoyed it and look forward to another mystery by James Callan.”

 James R. Callan took a degree in English, intent on writing.  He went to graduate school in mathematics to support a family.  He worked in mathematics and computer science, receiving grants from the National Science Foundation and NASA, and being listed in Who’s Who in Computer Science and Two Thousand Notable Americans.

But writing was his first love.  He has published a number of books and picked up some awards along the way.  Cleansed by Fire is the first of the Father Frank mysteries.  Murder a Cappella, also published in 2012, is another mystery which Callan wrote with one of his daughters, Diane Bailey.

Callan lives with his wife in east Texas and Puerto Vallarta.  They have four grown children and six grand children.

James’ website:  http://www.jamesrcallan.com

James’ My blog:  Http://www.jamesrcallan.com/blog

 Amazon (including Kindle) http://amzn.to/LXPsKe 


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