NOT YOUR USUAL SUSPECTS

A group blog featuring an international array of killer mystery, suspense, and romantic suspense writers. With premises and story lines different from your run-of-the-mill whodunits, we tend to write outside the box. We blog several times a week on all topics relating to romantic suspense and mystery, our writing, and our readers. We welcome all comments and often have guest bloggers. All our authors can be contacted separately, too, using their own social media links.

We find our genre delightfully, dangerously, and deliciously exciting - join us here, if you do too!


Julie Moffet . Clare London . Cathy Perkins . Jean Harrington . Daryl Anderson . Nico Rosso . Maureen A. Miller . Sandy Parks . Lisa Q Mathews . Sharon Calvin . Lynne Connolly . Janis Patterson

Monday, June 30, 2014

Meanwhile, Somewhere Else in the World

Just one moment. Before I follow Rita's lead and take us on another mystery trip, I want to pause for this:

Cue angels singing....doughnuts. Spanish doughnuts. Now I remember that machine! Mmmmmm. Thank you, Rita.

OK. Enough of that. We need to get a move on, Mystery Fans.


Time to board the ship of the imagination. 
This is a place I know you've heard of...but I bet it doesn't look anything like what you'd expect.



(Remember how I said I make my family wait while I compose my shots? Yeah. That happened here.)



This is a place that draws mystery readers. It's creepy and sad and fascinating and horrible.


(I shrunk that one so you couldn't read the street sign. No cheat codes, people. Seriously.)

Guesses?

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Some more Where In The World Am I

Hi all. Now that we're back from that short commercial break called Thursday are you ready for the next round of Where in the World Am I? 

I'm sticking to one country so it shouldn't be too hard. 
  
This is a palace. Can you tell me where? Oh and there are bullet holes in the walls where people were executed during the revolution.



The heart of the city.



What is this dude doing? Cooking Churros
                            Churros con chocolate

The Plaza _________????

This leads to a garden that was featured in the movie Knight and Day.


The Cathedral is where??


Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Summer Vacation Fun

Lets Play Where In The World Am I.

Besides hanging off the side of a hill what quaint
Mediterranean village is this ?

Can you guess what hill this is?
                            Answer: The Palatine Hill. One of the seven hills of Rome.
 

I would have added more but the blogger gawds wouldn't let me.
HA! I tricked blogger. Here's a hint as to what country.

Rita, who likes traveling.

The first is the Cinque Terre on the upper Italian coast. Look at the picture see the tower on the hill? To the left is a palm tree. Our room was right below the tree. It was 45.00 a night. Why so cheap? Because we had to climb 144 of the steps in the picture below to get there. Doing that after several bottles of the local wine is not easy.  


Monday, June 23, 2014

When World’s Collide


Elliot Mills is a former FBI agent, now working as a history professor at the fictional Puget Sound University. He’s slowly -- and not always happily -- adjusting to his change of career -- he’s also adjusting to moving in with his new lover.

 


Now in print!
Christopher Holmes is an author of cozy mysteries, currently suffering writer’s block and career burnout. He’s slowly -- and not always happily -- adjusting to his changed circumstances. He’s also adjusting to moving in with his new lover.

 

What else do these two men have in common? Well, one thing they don’t have in common is each other. They don’t know each other, they certainly aren’t adjusting to moving in with each other! They are the main characters of two very different series. Elliot stars in the All’s Fair series from Carina Press. Christopher is the Holmes in the Holmes & Moriarity series. So I was startled to realize how many similarities there are between them. Especially because the ideas for both books were conceived years ago at very different times. Had circumstances not required me writing these books almost back-to-back, I might not have even noticed how oddly similar they are.

 

And yet, at the same time, I feel they are very different characters and very different books.

 

Coming in September!
 
Elliot is tough, cool, controlled, competent, and a little sarcastic. Kit is not strong,  nervous by nature, impulsive, introspective, and a LOT sarcastic. They are different as two men can be -- especially in their taste in other men. But as I write that, I suddenly realize that they share another unexpected and complicated likeness: their sexual proclivities.

 

Though I write Male/Male romance, sex is not a major element in most of my work, so the fact that both men turned out to be sexual submissives startled me. But of course, again, even in their similarities, they are unalike. Elliot is completely comfortable and at ease with his desires and needs. Kit is fighting every step of the way. He’s not even convinced he needs or wants to be in a relationship.

 

Authors, are you surprised to find common threads of theme, character dynamics, and favorite plot twists in your work? What do you do to keep your stories from being too similar?

 

Readers, how similar is too similar for you?  

 

 

===================================================


Josh Lanyon is the author of the Carina Press titles Stranger on the Shore and the upcoming Fair Play.


Find Josh on:
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Sunday, June 15, 2014

Writing with Children


Writing is an astronomically difficult task on my best day, in solitude, with coffee. Writing this summer has been a spectacular challenge. Summers are busy. Far busier than the school year. And I am the lucky driver of the Lindsey bus. (My kids are 5, 8 & 11)We are on the go most mornings and we top off the lessons or activities with a picnic before coming home. It's lovely and we're making lots of memories, but the writing isn't happening. The exercise is basically not even on my to-do list. My to do list is made of child transport and laundry. Even my meals are looking more like sandwiches three times a day than the well balanced plates I used to make. 

During the school year, things are different. I have six solid hours Monday through Friday to work with- write, clean, promote etc. For example: Monday is an errand day and everyday start with a run. I follow a routine and it keeps me sane. There's time to write everyday. There's time for everything everyday and I am the master of my domain. *dances*

Except this isn't the school year.

This is summer and I am floundering. I'm getting farther behind on my manuscripts by the second and the next two months don't look any better. Weeds and grass are growing. My garage needs purging. My ceilings need painted. I've got lots and lots of real life stuff to do in between swim and tennis lessons. And camp and kids college. And no less than six birthday parties. Not to mention if the kids are home too long, they start arguing over anything from how many raisins are in a box of Raisin Bran to the colors on a rainbow according to art class. So, you see my troubles?

They are good problems to have. It’s true. I know. But, the summer has officially killed my writing life and made me a little bananas. As an author, the bananas show. As I’m writing this post, it is literally closing in on midnight on the night of my post deadline which was set long long ago. My overflowing brain is maxed to capacity. My imagination is running wild. My deadlines are creeping closer. I'm headed for a panic attack. Let me just say, there will be weeks of back-to-school writing in August when I finally get the opportunity to empty my brain. There will also be a mad dash to meet deadlines, but at least it will be fun work. 

So, for now, I'm keeping a balance - sort of. I'm making summer memories with my small children while they still want me around and fending off deadlines with a short stick. Is anyone else juggling life and a houseful of children on summer vacation? If so, I'm right here with you. Hang on to your sanity a couple more months because sadly, these days will be gone too soon. 

xoxox

Julie



Friday, June 13, 2014

Why it Matters

A few weeks ago, I posted to a local arts list about a free podcast of a short story of mine. The story, The Verdant Gene, is science fiction and part of the Fiction River: Moonscapes anthology. I was very pleased that the publishers decided to feature my story that week, as they had a great selection of stories from which to pick.

A day or so later, a fellow I know slightly wrote to tell me that he had loved the story and that it was “first rate.”


I actually got tears in my eyes. Isn’t that silly?

It was kind of him to take the time to let me know what he thought. We probably wouldn’t know each other if we passed each other on the street, so he needn’t have said anything and I would never have known that he had listened to the story, let alone whether or not he liked it. But he made a point of telling me that he had liked it, and why. That’s true generosity.

Maybe his compliment meant so much to me BECAUSE we don’t really know each other. Does that make sense? Of course your mom will tell you she loves your stories. And co-workers and friends. I mean, what else are they going to say? But when someone you don’t know (or barely know) makes the effort to tell you they liked your story—wow. It matters.

Readers have no idea what power they wield. One sincere compliment can make your month. (And when you’re 60,000 words into your latest novel and they all seem like crap, that compliment can help keep your butt in the chair.)

So, Dear Reader, have you ever told a writer that you enjoyed her story? Why or why not? And writers, do you react differently to a compliment from someone you know, versus someone you don’t?
 
Oh, and if you like great short stories, in all genres, check out the WMG Publishing series of themed anthologies. Highly recommended.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Moving times and a new book...

I should have moved house on May 23 but, on May 22, when everyone had sorted things out with utilities companies, cancelled phone/broadband, etc., the solicitors announced a ‘slight hitch’. We were then told we’d move on June 9. Living out of a suitcase soon loses its appeal so I was relieved to hear it. However, that date was also dismissed. We’re now hoping to move on June 12. Fingers crossed!

It’s been ridiculously stressful but the plus side is that, because all my belongings, apart from my trusty MacBook Air, are packed away in boxes, I’ve had nothing to do but work. Also, as I’ve struggled to get an internet connection for most of the time, I haven’t been distracted with social media. Our house is cleaner than it’s ever been, and I even completed the first lot of edits for Dead Simple in record time - yay. 

On the rare occasions I’ve been able to get online, I’ve been looking on Amazon where Dead End, coming to a device near you July 7, is available for pre-order. I love seeing that a new book’s available. Until that moment, the story is just a file and not a real book. But yes, Dead End is a real book. Official. :)



Here’s an excerpt:

        “Someone wants me dead.” It still sounded ridiculous. Hell, it was ridiculous. It had to be. “I’ve had a couple of phone calls at the office from some jerk saying it’s payback time and that I’m going to die. I know it’s a long shot but I wondered if you had any ideas.”
        Pikey’s eyebrows had risen with each word. His fork hovered level with his mouth. “You’re kidding. What else have they said?”
        “Nothing. The calls have been brief and to the point. No background sounds that I could make out. No clues as to an identity. Nothing. Just a quick ‘it’s payback time and you’re going to die.’”
        “Payback time? Who have you upset recently?”
        “How long have you got?” 

        Pikey mopped up egg yolk with a piece of fried bread. “When was the first call?”
        “Two weeks ago. Before then, though, Bev took three odd calls at the house. No one said anything but she had the feeling someone was on the other end, listening.”
        “Hmm.”
        “What’s that supposed to mean?”
        “I can give you the name of someone recently released from prison. Someone who threatened to get you—and me, come to that.”
        “Come on then. Out with it.”
        “Leonard King. Remember him?”
        “Oh, Christ. How could I forget?”
        Dylan could remember every detail of the night he and Pikey had thought they were about to sort out a domestic dispute. It was one of the last things they did together as coppers.
        They’d been on their way home, their stint finished for the day, when they’d heard that a huge fire at a furniture factory and two bomb scares were keeping uniformed officers busy. London was in chaos, and as he and Pikey had been less than two minutes from the property where the domestic was supposedly in full swing, they’d agreed to go and sort it.
        From the moment they arrived, they’d known something was wrong.
        The front door to the three-storey terraced house was open and, when they’d stepped inside, expecting to find a husband and wife in the middle of an alcohol-fuelled tiff, they quickly realised it was a setup. There was no domestic dispute.
        Instead they’d stumbled into a professional drug factory where millions of pounds’ worth of heroin had been processed. It was one of the biggest Class A drugs seizures the U.K. had seen.
        Of course, they hadn’t known that at first. They’d been too busy relieving Max Rickman, one of the U.K.’s most violent, of the samurai sword he’d been wielding...


Dead End, the latest Dylan Scott mystery, will hit the virtual shelves on July 7. Oh, and did I mention it was available to pre-order from Amazon? :)


Meanwhile, I’m getting back to the most disastrous house move ever. If you can’t get hold of me, you’ll know I’m fighting my way out of a pile of boxes. Wish me luck!

Friday, June 6, 2014

Vacation

It's been almost three years since I have taken time off for vacation. The last couple of years any time off has been for family matters, so, it was with great enthusiasm that I embarked on my journey to a cabin in the mountains.
  
A beautiful lake. Crystal blue skies. A hot tub on the back deck. No internet. Climbing mountains and splendid vistas...

You know that nagging feeling that you aren't feeling quite right?  That nagging feeling that you toss aside even as you're pulling out of your driveway?  Well, by the first afternoon that nagging feeling had manifested into a fever. Throwing ice into the hot tub wasn't exactly an option.  Over the next 24 hours I resorted to such tricks as sticking a water bottle in the freezer and putting that on my head.

As I lay in bed with a water bottle precariously balanced on my forehead, I stared up at the ceiling...which seemed to be moving.  I came to realize that it was a network of carpenter ants traveling back and forth. Soon I began to recognize the distinct PLUNK sound they made when they fell to the ground. It's not good when ants are big enough to make a sound when they fall.

By the second night I was armed with a sandal and used it to smoosh about a hundred ants in the cabin. Then it came time for bed.  There were eight ants on the bedspread and one under the pillow.  I realize that I'm in the woods, and if I were camping ants would have been part of the atmosphere.  But this was a nice cabin. Heck, it had a hot tub!  And I had a high fever!  

We made it through that night with the lights on, listening to PLUNK, PLUNK, PLUNK, armed with our shoe weapons. First sign of daylight, we packed up the car and headed home where I proceeded to cave into the plague.

Since then, I've noticed that every other commercial on TV seems to be about ants. :)

Maureen (who seems to have misplaced a lung)

www.MaureenAMiller.com

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Monday, June 2, 2014

Starting in the middle?

I recently read about a method for writing a novel that involves starting in the middle, at the "mirror moment," when the hero or heroine is deciding who they are and what they have to do. Ms. Skeptical here thought that sounded like a strange way to go about starting a novel, so I decided to see what was right smack in the middle of one of my books. As it happens, the trade paper version of Son of the Enemy was released today, so I grabbed it out my box of author copies and turned to the very middle of the book. 

(This is a teaser, but not really a spoiler…)

John is an FBI agent on leave, spending time with Hannah, the daughter of the woman his father was convicted of murdering twenty-three years ago. He received an anonymous note, telling him 6-year-old Hannah was the only witness to the crime, and the only one who can possibly lead him to the real killer. John lies to Hannah about who he is, hoping she'll let him get close enough to probe her earliest, most horrific memories. 

Before John came along, Hannah had been dating Bradshaw, a wealthy businessman with mob connections. Unbeknownst to John, the FBI sent an agent to recruit Hannah's help in taking down her former lover. The agent spotted John, and now his boss, Walter, has called him away for an urgent meeting.

Walter has kept John waiting more than two hours, and is suspiciously understanding about the fact that John has been keeping company with Hannah. John learns about the Bradshaw investigation and asks Walter what the FBI wants from her.

"So what is it exactly that you want her to do?”
“Drop in unannounced during a meeting he’s having with some persons of interest and place a bug on him.”
John froze. “A bug?” He knew how hard it was to get a judge to agree to let them bug a residence or a person. They had some serious s**t on Bradshaw, then.
“It’s a nanotech device. Tiny. Won’t activate until she leaves, so there’s very little risk.”
Like hell. “I’ve never heard of a device like that.”
Walter shrugged. “It’s brand new.” He sipped his coffee. “So, what would you have done if she’d told you about it? Would you have played the protective boyfriend?”
“If you’re asking if I would stand in the way of a bureau investigation the answer is of—” Suddenly Walter’s words sank in. “What did you say?”
“I said—” Walter hesitated for a fraction of a second, and John knew. “What would you do if she told you—?”
Son of a bitch.
“No,” John said. “That’s not what you said. You said, ‘What would you have done if she had told you.’” He leaned forward, careful to keep his hands under the table so he wouldn’t be tempted to put them around Walter’s neck. “That means it’s a done deal. She agreed to do it, didn’t she? Is that what you wanted to tell me? Are you ordering me to back off?”
Walter laid his forearms on the table and leaned toward John. “You still haven’t answered my question. I think I know the answer, though. I think you would have tried to talk her out of it because you’re involved with her and you’ve lost your objectivity.” He stared hard at John. “I’m right, aren’t I?”
“I haven’t lost my objectivity,” John said in the calmest voice he could muster. “But maybe the FBI has. What if she succeeds? You don’t think Bradshaw’s going to realize it was Hannah who brought the bug in?”
Walter sat back. “Bradshaw cares about her. He wouldn’t hurt her.”
John was incredulous. “You don’t know that. And what about all the other guys in that meeting? Organized crime doesn’t like witnesses, Walter. They hunt down witnesses and kill them. Sometimes they torture them first. You think it’s objective, not to mention ethical, to put an innocent woman in that position?”
“[We] explained it to her. She went in with her eyes open. If there’s a problem, we can put her in the witness-protection program.”
John nearly lost it then. “Oh, that’s just great. She gets to give up her life, her family, all her friends, and start over somewhere else. And you—” He stopped and gripped the edge of the table. “What do you mean, ‘She went in with her eyes open’? Went in? Are you saying—”
It all fell into place in that instant.
“Holy f**k. You kept me here waiting for you so I’d be out of her way. Jesus Christ. She’s there right now, isn’t she?” When Walter didn’t answer, John stood and leaned all the way across the table so he was in the SAC’s face. “Isn’t she?”
“It was the best way,” Walter said.

John is a devoted FBI agent, even though he's hidden some things from the bureau in his efforts to free his father. Now he's at a crossroads: Does he interfere with an ongoing FBI operation or leave Hannah to take her chances in a house full of dangerous men? If he interferes, he'll forfeit his career and blow his cover with Hannah, his only lead in solving the crime that put his father in prison. If he doesn't interfere, Hannah could be hurt—or possibly killed.

I'm fascinated that this moment happened right smack in the middle of my book. It's the right place for it, and it's a game-changer. Maybe I'll take a stab at plotting my next book starting in the middle. How about you? Have you ever started a project in the middle?

—Ana Barrons

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