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!

**Visit our 2017 Grand Prize Draw to win Eleven Exciting Ebooks in one go! closes Dec 25**


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 . Vanessa Keir . Tonya Kappes . Julie Rowe . Joni M Fisher . Leslie Langtry

Monday, January 30, 2017

Why I Read.

I tried. I wrote a whole post on reader events and swag but the longer I looked at it the more I realized I couldn’t post it.

In light of what’s happened in our country the last few days, it felt disingenuous to talk about something on the fun/frivolous side.

Don’t get me wrong. I know the world continues to revolve and businesses must continue to run. Writers must continue writing, promoting and selling their books. But there is a time where we must stand up for ourselves and our beliefs. To lock out the real world and what’s happening in it doesn’t do any service to anyone. Will I lose readers because I want equality for all Americans? I guess the answer is yes. (Which truly astounds me, but...) The opening line of the constitution is "We the people of the United States..." Not "we the men" or "we the white guys in powdered wigs" or "we the christians." I don't understand the need of some people to dictate how others live their lives. Live and let live. It's not so hard to do. I don't understand what happened to compassion. 

Personally, my social media has been cut by more than half. I find it hard to post about books when so much upheaval is happening in the country. Don’t get me wrong, in this instance, I think upheaval is needed and is a good thing. Americans should voice their opinion peacefully when so much is at stake.

For instance... if Americans really embodied what the Statue of Liberty stands for then they should be furious with the current state of affairs. Here is a small – and widely known – section on the monument’s plaque written by Emma Lazarus:

 "Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"





Powerful words, are they not? 

To ban people because of their religion goes against everything our country stands for. There is NO religion synonymous with terrorism. None. Terrorists come in all shapes and sizes from all religions and all walks of life. To hold a whole race or religion accountable for the actions of a few is despicable.  America has plenty of its own homegrown terrorists like Timothy McVeigh, Terry Nichols, Eric Robert Rudolph, and most recently Dylann Roof among many others. But there was never a thought to ban the white guy.

America is made up of people from everywhere who have different beliefs. Why is that bad?

Let's look at some cliches: Strength in numbers. Divide and conquer.
They are cliches for a reason. We are being divided and prime for being conquered. 

To sit by and watch/let the country move in its current direction without speaking out is to condone it. I can’t do that. To me, this is not a Democratic or Republican issue. It is an American issue. It's about common human decency. I'll repeat that. 

Common human decency.

We are all part of the human race. We all bleed the same color. 

So I protest. I call, write and email senators and legislators. I do research and choose where I spend my money.

And I read. I’m so sick to my stomach by what’s happening that I NEED books to escape. I need to forget for just a few minutes everyday that the world has turned upside down. I need to believe that we’ll come through this and everything will be okay. Romance helps me believe that happily ever after is possible.

That’s why I read.


These views are solely my own as I cannot speak for any other participants of this blog.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Retreating

What is it about a writing retreat that makes us so productive?
Is it the creative energy in the house? 
Knowing other people are writing away (and you should be too)? 
Or is it because you left behind ____ (fill in your own blank) and you better make use of the time?

So what is a writing retreat? Basically, you go…away and write. 
A retreat can be an organized event someone else arranges, an off-season rental house with friends, or an inexpensive hotel room where you hole up and stash energy bars in your computer case.
A writing retreat isn’t everyone’s idea of fun. When my friends ask what I did while I was away for the weekend, I shrug and say, “I wrote.”
They’re mystified. They can’t fathom why I leave home to do that, when I have an office and a computer in my own house. Then again they also don’t have any idea that, when I say, “I wrote,” I mean I wrote eight plus hours a day. I wrote over 12,000 words on a new story. (Of course, they also can’t understand why I’d want to spend eight hours a day writing.)
But the point is, I can’t be that focused at home.
Unlike a writing conference, which can be wonderful in a different way, the point of a writing retreat isn’t classes or meeting editors and agents. Although, the group I go away with has shared marketing ideas and…maybe I should back up a bit.

Way back in 2008, a group of women from the Pacific Northwest finalled in the Golden Heart—and formed a bond based first on writing and then on friendship. Every year since then, we’re gotten together over the long Martin Luther King weekend for a writing retreat. While there’s tons of writing, there’s also laughter and stories, Courtney Milan’s lessons on branding, Rebecca Clark’s yoga sessions and Rachel Grant’s chocolate martinis.

I’m halfway through a new story, with most of the remaining scenes blocked out. I haven’t a clue about the title or cover. Hmm… wonder what the women are doing this weekend?


Have you ever been on a writing retreat? What do you think is the best part?



Wednesday, January 25, 2017

WORDS, WORDS, WORDS!





     In the award-winning musical, My Fair Lady, Eliza Doolittle--discovered in Covent Garden, declares that she’s sick of words, words, words—the street urchin transformed into a lady wants to be shown not told.

      Words according to Mr. William Shakespeare should: “suit the action to the word, the word to the action…”

      Writers treasure the gift of language—the spoken sounds that led to photographic symbols used to keep accounts. No one agrees on the origin of language but agree the written word evolved through visual methods developed in diverse societies. Towards the end of the fourth millennium B.C. in southern Mesopotamia, a huge increase in population occurred. The city of Uruk, surrounded by secondary settlements outgrew all the other inhabited locations and there were many places of worship ruled by a priest-king. The temple estate’s need for accounting and allotting of revenues led to the transcribing of figures on clay tablets. A century later, word-signs were added. Proto-cuneiform writing on clay and wood are thought to have existed in Turkey and Syria—clay was inexpensive and resilient and a reed or stick used to sketch hieroglyphics into the dampened clay. Writing practices advanced in many different cultures in the Bronze Age. Sumerian cuneiform, Egyptian hieroglyphs, Chinese logographs, Mesoamerican(Olmec and Maya) and about 2,000 B.C. the first alphabetic writing by Semitic workers in the Sinai.

     The pith and stems of the Papyrus was used in ancient Egypt as writing material manufactured around the 4th millennium B.C.E. Inexpensive and simple to produce, papyrus was insubstantial and by the 10th century was gradually being replaced by parchment. The invention of wood-pulp paper made writing less expensive.  In 1440, Johann Gutenberg invented printing from separately cast metal types. The press transformed the way populations defined the world they lived in and spread within several decades all over Europe. The exchange of ideas and increased literacy altered society and strengthened the arising middle-class.
     The first story ever written is believed to be The Epic of Gilgamesh written on 12 clay tablets between 1500 and 1200 B.C. and discovered in King Ashurbanipal’s library in Nineveh and is still available in hardback, paperback and eBooks. There is one imprint left on clay tablets and can be read at the British Museum. 
      For us, words may be savored, generate new ideas within our books, suggest plots, belong to a character—our job is to suit the action to the word, the word to the action. Words that show the antagonist’s motivation, and the protagonist’s will to champion a righteous cause. Words that draw the reader into time, place and action and keeps them turning the page.

Monday, January 23, 2017

THE LAST WORD



THE LAST WORD 

 


 

            A friend of mine has always joked that when he dies, he wants his ashes sprinkled over a girls’ dormitory. If that’s not doable, when his end is near, he’ll row out to sea with a jug of wine, drink it, and then all happy, he’ll pull the plug out of the bottom of the boat. Next day, the papers will read: Man Lost At Sea.

 Those two examples of someone trying to face up to his own demise are one way to approach the inevitable. But some people can face the end seriously enough to write their own obituary. Have you considered doing so? I mean, who better? You know yourself the best of anyone, and after all, you are a writer. Chances are, you’ll do a more in-depth job of it than a grief-stricken (hopefully) relative who’s dealing with all the last-minute details of your funeral. The flowers, the music, the eulogy, the after-service repast.

 Wanting to practice what I’m preaching, I’ve taken a stab at composing my own obit:

 Jean Harrington was a beautiful woman, a gifted novelist with a brilliant wit. She loved a party (true) and a good tale (whether true or not) and her entire extended family, with some notable exceptions (you know who you are), adored her. Jean was proud of her accomplishments, especially her children, grandchildren and her published novels (not including the ones under her bed). Etc., etc., etc.

 As you can see, my obit is a work in progress, but I’m determined to stick with the job to the bitter end. So I ask again, how do you feel about all this? Will you write your own farewell? Or leave the job up to Digger O’Dell and simply row out to sea with a jug of happiness?

 


Jean Harrington is the author of the award winning, tongue-in-cheek, Murders by Design Mystery Series. The five books in the series star an interior designer, Deva Dunne, who never met a house she didn’t love or a cold-blooded killer she didn’t hate. Jean’s books are available through Amazon.    

 

 

Friday, January 20, 2017

COLD SECRETS


So, I have a new release in eleven days time. I have to say that there were times when this book made me cry. Some of it was the awful things I did to my characters--apparently I am a closet sadist. Thankfully, most of the characters survived the experience. Most of them (told you, I'm a sadist!). 

The other reason it nearly brought me to tears was the hair-pulling frustration of trying to write while in the same room as two teenagers :) The reason I was in the same room as my awesome kids is my family spent three months of the latter part of 2016 in Tokyo. While the kids were doing schoolwork, I was busy running federal investigations and having red-hot sex on the page. Yeah, how to totally turn yourself off, LOL. Thankfully the kids did occasionally leave for French, Japanese class and swimming, and that's when I got the more intimate scenes polished. 

It wasn't easy writing on the move and I am so looking forward to going absolutely nowhere if I can help it this year. 

Here's the information about COLD SECRETS. I hope you enjoy!


SHORT EXCERPT:

Lucas grabbed a wooden chair from beside a vanity.
“Stand back.” Time to signal his need of assistance. He slammed the chair into the old sash window, and glass exploded into a million different pieces.
That should do it.
The men on the other side of the door went silent as they reevaluated the situation. Six agonizing seconds later, he heard the sound of a truck pulling up outside and a series of shouted instructions. Then the unmistakable sound of a breacher busting the front door out of its frame.
The troops had arrived.
“I’m an FBI agent. Help is on the way,” he told the two girls. They held onto one another as he went to the bedroom door and listened. He couldn’t hear anything on the other side, so he unlocked it and eased out, just in time to catch sight of one of the men he’d seen in the kitchen, fleeing into a bedroom at the rear of the building.
Dammit. There had to be another way out. He looked at Mia and Becca. He couldn’t leave them behind—but he shouldn’t take them with him, either.
No choice. He wasn’t letting them out of his sight, and he wasn’t letting these assholes get away.
“Follow me. We need to move fast, but quietly. Understood?”
Mia and Becca nodded, both desperate to get out of this hellhole.
He sprinted down the corridor and slid the last ten yards to the room where he’d seen the men disappear. For once his luck was holding, and the door had caught on the latch rather than closing completely. He peeked inside but the room was empty except for a couple of unmade beds. Where the hell did they go? He wedged the door ajar with a chair so his colleagues would know which direction he’d taken. A silk robe swung back and forth on a metal hanger inside the walk-in closet. He shoved the robe aside and ran his hand over the wood. A hidden door sprang open when he pushed against the panel. Bingo.
The opening on the other side was as black as Hades.
“It’s like Narnia,” Mia whispered.
“Only scarier,” Becca agreed.
“Keep close. Hold hands,” he instructed quietly. Lucas turned on the light of his cell and felt his way along. He found a handrail, his foot searching out the first riser of the stairs as they began their descent. They crept down the twisting staircase. Suddenly the thundering sound of footsteps got closer and closer. Then he realized it was the cops pounding up the stairs on the other side of the wall.
Becca tripped and he turned to steady her. “Easy.”
“Where are we going?” she asked, as if starting to doubt the wisdom of blindly following a strange man down a lightless tunnel.

Smart girl.


BLURB

When an international ring of sex traffickers kidnaps an eight-year-old girl in Boston, FBI Agent Lucas Randall heads undercover. But his rescue operation goes disastrously wrong and Lucas barely escapes with his life. Now the ruthless traffickers are hunting him down, along with everyone else who threatens their operation.

Computer expert Ashley Chen joined the FBI to fight against evil in the world—evil she experienced firsthand. She has mad skills, and deadly secrets, and once she starts working with Lucas, she also has big trouble, because after years of pushing people away, she’s falling for the guy. The feeling is more than mutual, but as Ashley intensifies her online pursuit of the trafficking ring, her traumatic past collides with her present and suddenly Lucas can’t tell which side she’s on. And as the case escalates into a high-stakes game of cat and mouse, it turns out Ashley isn’t the only one with something to hide.

If neither can trust the other with their secrets, how can they trust each other with their hearts?


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