BOOKS TO WATCH OUT FOR!

Friday, January 30, 2009

Mystery Author Doug Hewitt Kicks Off THE DEAD GUY VIRTUAL BOOK TOUR

Join Doug Hewitt as he tours the blogosphere in February ’09 to promote his new mystery novel, The Dead Guy (Aberdeen Bay).

The Dead Guy is a high-octane, pedal-to-the-metal Detroit murder mystery that uncovers an international crime ring involved with auto insurance scams.

Doug Hewitt was born and raised near Detroit, Michigan and now lives in North Carolina. Along the way, he did a four-year stint in the Marine Corps and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in mathematics. He has been writing short stories for over 20 years and has been getting them published for most of that time, with over 80 stories in print. His stories have appeared in anthologies such as The Dead Inn and 100 Wicked Little Witch Stories. He has appeared in the premier issue of Apex Digest and has seen his chapbook, Slipstream, published by Scrybe Press.

He turned his attention to longer works and had his first novel SPEAR published in 2002. The Midwest Book Review calls SPEAR “a thrilling and deftly crafted novel.” After being remarried in 2004, he and his wife, Robin, founded HewittsBooks.com. In addition to authoring a non-fiction parenting book, The Practical Guide To Weekend Parenting, Doug and Robin teamed up to write The Joyous Gift of Grandparenting.

Doug returned to his original passion, writing fiction, and wrote The Dead Guy, which St. Martins author Lynn Chandler-Willis calls a “high-octane, pedal-to-the-metal ride through the criminal underbelly of the automotive world.” You can visit Doug Hewitt and read a free PDF chapter of The Dead Guy at www.HewittsBooks.com.

“I’m thrilled to represent such a gifted and talented writer,” says Dorothy Thompson, CEO and founder of Pump Up Your Book Promotion. “His book is one of those books that I know everyone is going to enjoy and it’s such an honor to put this particular type of book on virtual book tour. I wish him luck and hope that others will follow his tour to find out just how great a person Doug Hewitt really is – not only as an author, but someone who has great undiscovered talent.”

Doug’s virtual book tour is brought to you by Pump Up Your Book Promotion, an innovative public relations agency specializing in online book promotion. You can visit his personal tour page at http://tinyurl.com/dylqbs to find out more about his tour in February.

If you would like to book a virtual book tour with Pump Up Your Book Promotion, you can visit our website at www.pumpupyourbookpromotion.com.

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Dirty Little Secrets - Pt. III- A Short Story!

Today is the third installment of Marta Stephen's short story, Dirty Little Secrets! If you haven't read Part I and Part II, please do so now. If you'd like to read the final installment, visit Sam Harper's blog here!

Thank you, Marta (and Sam!) for allowing us to post it!

Dirty Little Secrets
A short story by Marta Stephens
Author of the Sam Harper Crime Mystery Series
© Marta Stephens 2009 all rights reserved


Part III
On the Outside Looking In

The brass nameplate permanently attached to the brick façade of the Stanley building read, “Jacob D. Stanley, Attorney At Law.” Harper pulled open the door, unbuttoned his overcoat, and instantly felt his steps sink into the thick pile of burgundy carpeting. Except for the middle-aged guy waiting in the pinstriped suit with his nose in the New York Times, the lobby was empty of clients. Overstuffed chairs and lush tropical plants that didn’t belong in Massachusetts in January or any other time of the year, lined the path that led directly to the knockout redhead sitting behind the desk.

She glanced up from her filing and offered a practiced smile, but her eyes were immediately drawn to the badge secured to Harper’s belt. The blunt cut of her hair fell just at the shoulders, the blue of her eyes matched her blouse, and looking down from his vantage point of six feet up and standing well over her head, the bit of visible cleavage was a distraction he didn’t need at the moment. Harper was trained to hone in on the details, but he wondered what the hell he was thinking. Now she was looking him straight in the eyes.

“Mr. Stanley is expecting me—Sam Harper, homicide.”

“Have a seat, Detective. I’ll let him know you’re here.” A take-me-home smile eased across her lips as she disappeared down the hall.

* * *

“Yes, I appreciate your predicament.” Jacob Stanley polished his reading glasses then placed them back on the bridge of his nose. “But the attorney/client privilege doesn’t end when the client passes. You know that.”

“Yes, I do, but—”

“It continues on in perpetuity. I can tell you this, Mrs. McGuire was of sound mind when she changed her will.”

“Her family doesn’t agree. Any idea why she didn’t let them in on it?” Harper asked.

“I assume you’ve had the pleasure of meeting them, right?” Stanley paused for a moment. “Yes, of course you have. Regardless of what you’ve heard about Catherine McGuire, she had a soft spot for her children, the irony is, they never appreciated it.”

“So what was her motive?”

“You need to understand that my job was never to persuade Catherine to do anything she hadn’t already set her mind to. I was here to advise her on the legality of her actions and the ramifications thereof, not meddle in her private life. Her personal affairs were off limits.”

“You have to admit, the whole thing seems strange,” Harper said.

“Maybe to the average person it does, but there was nothing routine about Catherine McGuire. Perhaps she faced her own mortality and didn’t like what she saw. I do think she felt alone much of the time.”

“Is that when she hired Allison Pike?”

Stanley thumbed through a few pages in Mrs. McGuire’s file then stopped and flipped back and forth between two pieces of paper. “Ms. Pike was employed last year on December 27. Catherine changed her will eight months later—hardly a hasty decision.”

“What about Pike’s background? Anything suspicious?”

“Not that I’m aware of.” Stanley signaled Harper to wait while he picked up his phone. “Beka, could you come in a minute?”

Within seconds, the redheaded beauty walked in, took three sheets of paper from Stanley’s hand and left the room. She returned minutes later with a set of copies.

“Here,” Stanley said. “Maybe that will help clear up some of your questions.”

Harper studied the list of references Allison Pike had submitted to her former employer then whistled at the salary noted at the bottom of the page. “Can’t say I blame the McGuires for being upset. A hundred grand a year is a chunk of change for driving an old woman around and keeping her calendar. Pike had a sweet deal going, why would the family suspect her of wanting to stop the gravy train?”

“I’m sure it’s a ploy to contest the will. Like I said, Detective, no one forced Catherine McGuire’s hand. She came to see me of her own free will with a clear mind and conscience. I’m sure Ms. Pike will be glad to fill you in on anything else you need to know. Her phone and address are at the bottom of the second page.”

“Thanks.” Harper folded the pages lengthwise then handed the attorney his business card. “If you think of anything else.”

“I will.” Jacob Stanley paused for a moment then frowned. “Have you ever missed a chance to do something and later regretted it?”

“Yeah, once or twice. Why?”

Stanley removed his reading glasses again and placed them on top of his desk. “I was out of town on business this week when my secretary called to say that Catherine had phoned twice on Monday to speak with me—wouldn’t leave a message—Catherine never would. Anyway, I was having a heck of a time with cell phone connections and assumed whatever Catherine wanted could wait a couple of days until I got back. It didn’t quite work out the way I had planned. Haunting, wouldn’t you say?”

* * *

The information Harper received from attorney Jacob Stanley two days before led him to the front door of a 1930s bungalow on west 43rd. When he knocked, he expected to meet a middle-aged spinster with orthopedic shoes on her feet and a hard look in her eyes. Instead, Allison Pike stood in the threshold dressed in white close-fitting slacks, a red cardigan sweater, and waves of flowing dark hair swept over one shoulder.

She smiled and ushered him into the sitting room where the mellow sound of Etta James drifted through the air. He hadn’t intended to agree to coffee, but the temperature outside was ten below and he couldn’t say no to the warmth emitted from crackling log in the fireplace.

Allison brought in a tray with a carafe, two mugs and the usual condiments. She did the pouring and left him to fix his own. She grabbed one of several throws and curled up in the overstuffed loveseat across from his. Harper noticed the zest in her style; every move triggered a spark. There was no hesitation in her voice, no concern in her eyes—not even when Harper informed her of the McGuires’ accusations.

“I can’t say that I’m surprised,” she said. “They were against Catherine’s decision to hire me from the beginning.”

“Tell me about it. Start with how you two met.”

“A painter friend of mine had his oils featured in a gallery downtown during the spring arts festival. Catherine and I were drawn to the same painting. That one,” she said, pointing to a large landscape rendition hanging on the opposite wall. “I’m a nut about impressionist style, aren’t you?”

Harper took a drink of his coffee while he mulled around the abrupt redirection and chose to ignore it. “Then what?”

“We developed a friendship. Catherine often invited me out to her home. What began as the occasional visit quickly became weekly chats. Sometimes after dinner, we’d talk for hours. Next thing I knew, she had the housekeeper prepare a room for me so I could stay overnight.” Alli brushed back a strand of hair from her eyes and studied Harper’s face as if waiting for his immediate reaction.

“Did the family object at that point?” he asked.

“I’m not sure if they were even aware of our friendship. That’s the point, Detective. They never called on her except to ask for money so they didn't know what was going on in her life. Trust me, none of this was planned. In spite of having a family and wealth she didn’t have what she needed most, love—a sense of belonging.” She paused for a moment. “She called me her guardian angle. The true is, I’m the one who was saved.”

“Why’s that?”

“It’s personal and I’d rather not go down that road, but suffice to say that she was lonely and I needed a sense of belonging too.”

Allison’s words echoed the same sentiment Jacob Stanley expressed in their meeting on Wednesday, but just like two wrongs don’t make a right, neither did the word of a lawyer and the sole beneficiary of the McGuire fortune equal the truth. “I understand you were hired last year on December 27, is that correct?”

“Yes, I think that’s right.”

“You two met in the spring and what, eight, nine months later she hired you as her personal assistance? What happened that December?”

“They left her alone.” Allison raised a slender hand to her lips then turned toward the fire that had now engulfed the massive log in the hearth. “Those vile, ungrateful … if it hadn’t been for me, she would have been alone over the holidays.” She wiped a tear from her eye and slipped into an uneasy silence.

“Ms. Pike?”

She looked up, tears glistened in her eyes. “That set the stage for what happened next.”

“Go on.”

“A few months later she called to say that she needed to see her lawyer and wanted me to drive her to his office. That’s when I found out she had been discussing a change in her will. The meeting was simply for the purpose to sign papers. The last thing I expected was that she made me her guardian.”

“You could have backed out.”

“Not likely. No one ever backed out of a Catherine McGuire order.”

“Is that what it was? An order?”

“It felt like it.”

The flair of confidence Harper saw in her a moment before vanished. She threw back her head and closed her eyes as if the question had awakened an unpleasant memory.

“So your duties were more that of a caretaker; you dispensed her medication, took charge of her meals—”

“She insisted.”

“Managed her appointments too?”

“That’s right.”

“Jacob Stanley said he missed a couple of calls from Mrs. McGuire the day before she died. What was that all about?”

“I wouldn’t know.”

“You just said it was your job to keep track of her appointments.”

“Not all of them. She was a tyrant in that respect. You wouldn’t understand.”

“Try me. She paid you a hundred grand. Why didn’t you know?”

“I didn’t need the money,” she said, placing her half-empty mug on the tray, “but I could use a drink. Care for one?”

The sudden change in her tone didn’t escape him. Harper told her he’d pass on the drink then rose to his feet. While she tinkered around in the kitchen, he examined the collection of books on the nearby shelf. Allison Pike’s tastes varied from the literary classics of Mary Shelley and Earnest Hemmingway to modern fan fiction, history, and travel. Then one book among several caught his attention. He was thumbing through 200 pages that listed a detailed assortment of poisons, their sources, and their affects on the human body when Allison walked back into the room with a glass of wine.

“Interesting,” he said.

“I also have books on psychology, military strategies, religions of the world, emergency first aid, and the history of rock and roll.” She took a sip then a few more steps until she was inches away. “My interests are varied. What’s your passion?”

He waited to give her an answer, not because he needed to think twice, but because one good tease deserved another.

“Justice, Ms. Pike, and the terms of Catherine McGuire’s will. Have a seat.”

End Part of III

To be continued.
Read the conclusion of “Dirty Little Secrets” today, Friday, January 29, 2009 at http://samharpercrimescene.blogspot.com

Marta Stephens is the author of the Sam Harper Crime Mystery series published by BeWrite Books (UK)
THE DEVIL CAN WAIT – (2008) Top Ten, 2008 Preditors and Editors Reader Poll (mystery)
SILENCED CRY (2007), Honorable Mention, 2008 New York Book Festival, Top Ten, 2007 Preditors and Editors Reader Poll (mystery)

For more about this author go to:
www.martastephens-author.com
http://samharpercrimescene.blogspot.com
http://mstephens-musings.blogspot.com
http://murderby4.blogspot.com

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Dirty Little Secrets - Pt. II - A Short Story!

If you're following along, yesterday we posted a short story by Sam Harper, a character in a book written by Marta Stephens titled The Devil Can Wait.

As promised, here is Part Two of his story. Stay tuned for Part Three tomorrow!

Dirty Little Secrets
A short story by Marta Stephens

Author of the Sam Harper Crime Mystery Series
© Marta Stephens 2009 all rights reserved

Part II Meet the McGuires

Jack’s right. Harper thought, as he reached for the knobs on the double doors to the great room. Death had a way of bringing out the cut-throats in families. There was always at least one person convinced he’d been screwed, ignored as a child and who drummed up a host of old baggage to get his just reward—revenge on the unsuspecting.

His thoughts flashed to his mother’s untimely death six years before and the hit and run driver who was never apprehended. His younger brother, Paul, never forgave the two homicide detectives in the family, he and their father Walt, for failing to find the guilty. Harper shoved the unwelcomed memories back, deep into the distant crevice from which they came, but that old familiar sting was as relentless as ever. He cursed under his breath at his inability to let go of his anger or to wipe his father’s pain from his memory. “Damn it,” he said under his breath and heaved open the doors.

The discussion he heard moments before immediately ceased—heads jerked up as he stepped into the room. He recognized the McGuire siblings from years of newspaper photographs. Both had their mother’s eyes and their father’s distinctive Roman-shaped nose. But the brother and sister had developed their own wicked tongues putting the heat that spewed out from the roaring flames in the hearth to shame.

Four sets of probing, dry eyes scrutinized Harper’s moves as the uniformed officer handed him a slip of paper. It contained the names of those present and a sentence or two each had offered up as the utmost truth.

“Well, it’s about damn time.” The man who rose to his feet and took a step too close to Harper was Clinton McGuire, a man in fifties sporting an expensive tan and touch of gray along the temples. “Can we just move on?”

“Have a seat, Mr. McGuire,” Harper said as he finished reading the note.

“We demand answers.” Clinton shoved his hands into his pockets and leaned forward as if to make a point. “Now!”

Harper ignored the man’s outburst and continued to read through the officer’s scribbles. He glanced up at the patrolman and gave him a nod. “Thanks, I’ll take it from here.”

“We’ve been sequestered in this damned room for over two hours. I want—”

“I understand Mr. McGuire. You have my deepest condolences. Now, would you please take a seat?”

“Yes, Clint. Shut the hell up and sit down.” Evelyn Gunter raised a crystal tumbler to her lips and took a sip of what Harper knew to be fine distilled liquor. He watched her squirm a bit in the wingback chair near the fire and take a deep breath. Mrs. Gunter was impeccably groomed from her over-sprayed hair down to her Gucci slippers. A well-manicured hand held on to the glass while the other gripped the arm of the chair a little too tight.

“Evelyn Gunter?”

“Yes. Of course, who else would I be? For what it’s worth, that’s Mr. Gunter,” she said, pointing to the man on the couch. “Jesus, Vic, sit up and act as if you have some sense for a change.”

Vic’s elbows were resting on his knees; his posture made it clear that seconds before his head had been buried in the cup of his hands. Harper took note of the bloodshot eyes and the rumpled shirt and hair and tucked those facts in the back of his mind.

The slender woman on the other end of the couch who was coiling her finger around the silk printed scarf hanging from her neck seemed neither drunk nor vile at the moment.

“I’m Sylvia,” she said. “Just thought I’d mention it in case you’re interested. I’m with him.” She nodded toward Clinton and rolled her eyes. “But trust me, I’m nobody around here.”

“Wonderful, Sylvia dear. Now that we know who the hell we are, can we please get to the bottom of things?” Clinton paused for a moment. “Detective?”

That was the first thing Harper had heard thus far that made any sense. “Let’s start with you Mrs. Gunter. I understand you found your mother.”

“Yes, that’s right. I—”

“She’s embellishing the truth again, Detective. Eve didn’t go in to mother’s room until after Nelly cut loose with a blood-curdling scream,” Clinton said, curling his lip.

“Who’s Nelly?”

“Why the ... I’ve checked on mother every morning since we arrived long before you ever woke from your booze-induced slumber.” The look in Evelyn’s eyes could have burned a hole through Clinton’s heart like a red-hot poker.

“Hell, she was still alive in the morning.”

“Who is Nelly?” Harper asked again.

Evelyn and Clinton continued to argue. Vic took a few unsteady steps to the bar at the other side of the room and poured himself a straight shot of bourbon. Sylvia pursed her lips and persistently played with her scarf, rolling it up and down then letting it slip through her fingers.

“Enough!” Harper yelled. “Everyone sit down and keep your mouths shut until I give you permission to speak.” Harper looked them square in the eyes. “Bicker all you want, but not on my time. Do I make myself clear?” With their incessant backbiting momentarily quashed, he broke the silence, “You, Mr. McGuire. Who is Nelly?”

“The housekeeper, Nelly Blount. She’s been with the family for years. She’s the one who found mother.”

“And when was that?”

“Just after lunch.”

Amazingly, the others nodded in agreement about the time. Harper glanced at his watch. It was ten of two which figured right since he had been the last to arrive at the scene. Harper was almost afraid to push his luck, but the next logical question needed to be asked. “And what makes you think your mother was murdered?”

“Allison Pike. A cold, self-serving extortionist.” Evelyn narrowed her eyes as words and spittle shot from her lips.

A crease rippled across Clinton’s brow and for the first time, he seemed to be in a pensive state of mind. “Mother hired Alli about a year ago as an assistant to help keep track of her appointments, take her places, run errands, that sort of thing.”

“She had us for chrissakes, mother didn’t need her.” Evelyn mumbled the words between gulps of booze. “Oh yes, Alli seemed sweet enough at first, but that didn’t last.”

“How so?”

“She was subtle, I’ll give her that,” Evelyn said. “Alli gushed at every word mother said and lavished her with attention. Mother certainly loved getting attention.”

“Yes.” Clinton leaned back in his seat and crossed his left foot over his knee. “She seemed so efficient, we never questioned her motives at first. It was almost a relief that someone was taking care of things. I mean … mother was sharp and had never been shy about dismissing an unworthy employee so …”

Evelyn nodded in complete agreement with her brother then added: “But then it got so that Mother quit returning our calls. We made countless trips into Chandler over the past several months to see her. Recently, there was always an excuse as to why we couldn’t—everything from mother taking a nap to her being in the tub.”

“Befriending an elderly person isn’t a crime though,” Harper said.

“Alli didn’t just befriend our mother,” Clinton said, “she formed a wedge between us.”

“You want to know what the real stinky beef is all about?” Vic slurred his words. “The old lady changed her damned will. Cut these two vultures, and us,” he flung a finger at Sylvia then poked himself in the chest, “right out.”

“He’s right,” Sylvia said. “With one bitchy stroke of a pen she disinherited us and made Alli her guardian. The woman even insisted on dispensing mother’s medication and overseeing the food preparation. Can you believe it? After kissing up to the old bag all these years she cozies up to a complete stranger. What a hideous slap on the face.”

Evelyn raised a slender finger to her eye and dabbed the first tear Harper had seen since entering the McGuire mansion. The conduct he witnessed in the past twenty minutes validated Jack’s comment about money, death and greed. What else had Jack said about the McGuires? Oh yeah, royalty—my ass, he thought. Harper had a good picture of how things were, but even if these four’s suspicions were right, all the hatred in the world didn’t make it so or answer the why or how.

“Money is no object, Detective,” Clinton said. “Do what you must to convict her.”

“That could be construed as a bribe, Mr. McGuire. So I’ll just pretend I didn’t hear it. But I wouldn’t be too concerned if I were you. If your mother was murdered, I’ll know and whoever did it won’t be able to shake me off.” Harper let them hang on to his words as he started for the door then turned. “One last question. Had your mother always been opposed to autopsies?”

Each of the four searched the other three’s faces.

“What an incredibly strange thing to ask,” Evelyn said, raising the glass to her lips and draining its content. “Mother never mentioned it, why?”


End of Part II

To be continued.
Friday, January 29, 2009 at The Writer’s Life http://thewriterslife.blogspot.com

Marta Stephens is the author of the Sam Harper Crime Mystery series published by BeWrite Books (UK)
THE DEVIL CAN WAIT – (2008) Top Ten, 2008 Preditors and Editors Reader Poll (mystery)
SILENCED CRY (2007), Honorable Mention, 2008 New York Book Festival, Top Ten, 2007 Preditors and Editors Reader Poll (mystery)

For more about this author go to:
www.martastephens-author.com
http://samharpercrimescene.blogspot.com
http://mstephens-musings.blogspot.com
http://murderby4.blogspot.com

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Dirty Little Secrets - Pt. I - A Short Story!

I have a special treat for you while you weather out these cold winter days!

Marta Stephens, author of The Devil Can Wait has created a wonderful character blog called Sam Harper Crime Scene after the main character in her book, Sam Harper. Well, Sam has been blogging up a storm and told Marta to ask if he could post a little story he wrote here at The Writer's Life. How can you turn down a tall dark and handsome character in a book? Not me.

So, here is Part One of Dirty Little Secrets. Stay tuned for Part Two on Thursday and Part Three on Friday!

Dirty Little Secrets ~ Parts 1-3
A short story by author Marta Stephens


© Marta Stephens 2009 all rights reserved

Sam Harper turned left off Willow Boulevard into a winding private road he had driven past all his life but never entered. In the distance, the McGuire mansion, a sprawling two-story home, stood like a limestone monument to the family’s ego. Its stately structure and steep-angled roof was nestled against a backdrop of tall, lanky pines. Harper imagined a flawlessly, well-groomed lawn would grace the property at the first sign of spring. For now though, the tree branches were heavy from last night’s snowfall. Up ahead, the usual gathering of city cars were parked on the circle drive in front of the home’s entrance. Among them was the van driven by the head of forensics, Carter Graves. The medical examiner’s vehicle assigned to Jack Fowler was situated immediately behind the van. Inside the home, uniformed officer Jason Culp was the first to greet Harper as he walked through the door.

“This way, Detective.”

Harper swept a glance around the foyer. Polished hardwood floors and thick Persian rugs ran the length of the vast open space. A massive staircase curved upward along the right side of the room near a wall flanked with multi-paned windows from the base of the staircase to the vaulted ceiling.

Voices seeped into the hallway from behind a set of closed double doors situated to Harper’s immediate left.

Three feet away, the dutiful officer Culp was directing him to go in the opposite direction. "Detective? The body’s upstairs.”

Three generations of McGuires had forged the city of Chandler, Massachusetts into an industrial Mecca at the turn of the century. On their way to success, they drove every viable competitor and a Fortune 500 company or two out of town. They secured their wealth and brainwashed every man, woman, and child into thinking Chandler would fall to ruins without them. Of course, they were wrong. After the family moved the business out West, Chandler not only survived, it flourished. But in everyone’s eyes, the McGuires continued to reign supreme. Harper wasn’t as surprised to receive today’s phone call as he was that a murder had taken this long to touch the lives of the McGuires. He unbuttoned his overcoat and asked: “What do we have?”

“Upstairs, first door to the right,” Culp said, gesturing with a nod in that direction. “It’s Catherine McGuire.”

“Old lady McGuire? She’s what? In her eighties?”

“Eighty-three. The daughter--”

“Evelyn Gunter?”

“That’s the one,” Culp said, “claims she called the station as soon as she found her. Forensics and the doc are up in her room right now.”

“Who else is here from downtown?”

“My partner’s questioning the family in there.” He pointed to the doorway that had intrigued Harper a second before. “Lorenzo and Wade are standing by and waiting for orders.”

Harper pulled on a pair of latex gloves and made a move toward the stairs, but the look of consternation on Culp’s face made him stop. “What?”

The officer’s glance made a wide upward sweep. “Nothing like any homicide I’ve ever seen.”

“What do you mean?”

“The old lady died in her sleep. I’m no genius, but the sheets aren’t even wrinkled.”

“And you know this how?”

“I saw her with my own two eyes, Detective. My partner and I were the first to arrive. Not a mark on her—nothing out of place. Doesn’t feel right.”

“You think someone tampered with the scene?” Harper asked.

“Not according to them.” Again Culp gestured toward the door, “and no one was in the house who shouldn’t have been here—I checked.”

“For instance?”

“Seems Mrs. McGuire’s health was failing so the son and daughter arrived on Tuesday.”

“Three days ago.”

“Yeah, something like that.

“Is that it?”

“No, the housekeeper has a room on the first floor off the kitchen,” he said, thumbing over his shoulder, “and then there’s Mrs. McGuire’s assistant. Her room is upstairs too.”

Harper leaned an ear toward the doors leading into the great room and listened to the loud, muffled voices. “Thanks. I’ll keep it in mind.”
* * *
Carter was taking particular interest in the glass of water and the sizeable collection of medication bottles he found on Mrs. McGuire’s nightstand. Jack was standing over the body. He pushed his reading glasses to the top of his head, wrinkled his nose and pursed his lips. He didn’t bother to look up when Harper entered the room.

“False alarm?” Harper asked.

“Not if the family has anything to say about it,” Jack said.

“You don’t sound convinced.”

Jack Fowler shrugged a shoulder without hiding the look of disgust that washed over his face.

“Your word is the only one that counts. Remember?”

“Yeah ... so I hear.”

The hesitation in Jack’s tone spelled nothing but trouble in Harper’s mind. He’d been down this same road with the ME more than once. It meant long hours of work with no guarantees they’d find the killer. Catherine McGuire was laying face up on the bed. Beneath the full-length pink nightgown was a frail body. In life she’d been a five foot tall, vivacious woman and the power behind the McGuire fortune. Now her pale boney arms and hands were limp at her sides. The gold and red quilted spread beneath her barely registered the slightness of her weight. Officer Culp’s observation knocked a little louder in Harper’s head. As he studied the tranquil expression on her face and the neatness of her room he had to admit that neither jibed with the usual murder scene.

“Do we have a case or not?”

“No way to tell without an autopsy,” Jack said.

"And you'll push this one to the top of your list, right?"

"Not going to do one."

“What are you saying?” In all the years Harper had worked with Jack, he’d never once seen the ME sweat in the middle of January. "Answer me. What's the problem?"

“My hands are tied, that's what. We’re dealing with the McGuires, Harp.” Jack walked around the bed to Harper’s side and lowered his voice. “They’re the closest thing this city has to goddamn royalty.”

“Easy, Doc. The walls might hear.”

“Hell, you don’t tell the McGuires what to do, least of all when the corpse is one of their own.”

“You’re dancing around the May Pole,” Harper said. “Spit it out.”

“According to Mrs. McGuire’s appointed guardian—her assistant, she left explicit instructions in her will—no autopsy. From the collection of meds we found on the nightstand, she wasn’t opposed to medical attention, but she didn’t like doctors poking around or getting stuck with needles. Certainly didn’t want anything to do with getting cut up—as if she’d know the difference now.”

“She obviously hadn't planned on anyone pulling the plug ahead of time. Don't see why you're worried. Wills can be contested, especially if there's reason to suspect she’s been murdered. Give me something to take to a judge and we’ll—”

“Impossible.” A frown rippled across Jack’s brow. “If she was murdered, the evidence is inside. I’d have to examine the organs and that’s not going to happen if I can’t take the body.”

“Let me get this straight,” Harper said. “The family reported her death as a murder right?”

“Yeah.”

“Doesn't seem to be any evidence of foul play.”

“Right, and based on the apparent lack of it, I can’t rule her death a homicide,” Jack said.

“Then what do they know that you and I don't? Are you really going to let a little thing like a will stand in your way? Personally, I’d be more worried about what the living will do to you than the dead.”

“It’s not that simple.”

“Come on, Jack. This city’s leading family is yelling murder downstairs. You’re not really thinking of disappointing them, are you?”

Jack Fowler didn’t respond.

“Rational people don’t call the cops without a reason. Last will and testament or not, they’re going to expect me to investigate her death and I can’t do it without you giving the word.”

“Odd choice of words, Harp—rational. We’ve worked together what, six, seven years? How many times have we seen this type of thing before? You know being rational and levelheaded never enters the equation when there’s money involved. If there was an ounce of civility in her heirs, her death just wiped it clean away and replaced it with greed and suspicion. Hell, if they’re not accusing one another right now, it’s because they’re trying to get their stories straight and cover their tracks.”

“All the more reason to talk to a judge. But let’s say you’re right, then why report it as murder? All they needed to do was force their mother’s doctor to issue the death certificate stating she died of natural causes.” Harper slipped off his coat and glanced at the corpse again. “They could have split the dough after the wake before anyone questioned them. I mean, look at her. Who would have known?” Harper hooked a finger beneath the collar of his coat, flung it over a shoulder, and turned to leave.

“Where’re you going?” Jack asked.

“Where do you think? Into the lion’s den to find the killer.”

* * *

Jack’s right. Harper thought, as he reached for the knobs on the double doors to the great room. Death had a way of bringing out the cut-throats in families. There was always at least one person convinced he’d been screwed, ignored as a child and who drummed up a host of old baggage to get his just reward—revenge on the unsuspecting.

His thoughts flashed to his mother’s untimely death six years before and the hit and run driver who was never apprehended. His younger brother, Paul, never forgave the two homicide detectives in the family, he and their father Walt, for failing to find the guilty. Harper shoved the unwelcomed memories back, deep into the distant crevice from which they came, but that old familiar sting was as relentless as ever. He cursed under his breath at his inability to let go of his anger or to wipe his father’s pain from his memory. “Damn it,” he said under his breath and heaved open the doors.

The discussion he heard moments before immediately ceased—heads jerked up as he stepped into the room. He recognized the McGuire siblings from years of newspaper photographs. Both had their mother’s eyes and their father’s distinctive Roman-shaped nose. But the brother and sister had developed their own wicked tongues putting the heat that spewed out from the roaring flames in the hearth to shame.

Four sets of probing, dry eyes scrutinized Harper’s moves as the uniformed officer handed him a slip of paper. It contained the names of those present and a sentence or two each had offered up as the utmost truth.

“Well, it’s about damn time.” The man who rose to his feet and took a step too close to Harper was Clinton McGuire, a man in fifties sporting an expensive tan and touch of gray along the temples. “Can we just move on?”

“Have a seat, Mr. McGuire,” Harper said as he finished reading the note.

“We demand answers.” Clinton shoved his hands into his pockets and leaned forward as if to make a point. “Now!”

Harper ignored the man’s outburst and continued to read through the officer’s scribbles. He glanced up at the patrolman and gave him a nod. “Thanks, I’ll take it from here.”

“We’ve been sequestered in this damned room for over two hours. I want—”

“I understand Mr. McGuire. You have my deepest condolences. Now, would you please take a seat?”

“Yes, Clint. Shut the hell up and sit down.” Evelyn Gunter raised a crystal tumbler to her lips and took a sip of what Harper knew to be fine distilled liquor. He watched her squirm a bit in the wingback chair near the fire and take a deep breath. Mrs. Gunter was impeccably groomed from her over-sprayed hair down to her Gucci slippers. A well-manicured hand held on to the glass while the other gripped the arm of the chair a little too tight.

“Evelyn Gunter?”

“Yes. Of course, who else would I be? For what it’s worth, that’s Mr. Gunter,” she said, pointing to the man on the couch. “Jesus, Vic, sit up and act as if you have some sense for a change.”

Vic’s elbows were resting on his knees; his posture made it clear that seconds before his head had been buried in the cup of his hands. Harper took note of the bloodshot eyes and the rumpled shirt and hair and tucked those facts in the back of his mind.

The slender woman on the other end of the couch who was coiling her finger around the silk printed scarf hanging from her neck seemed neither drunk nor vile at the moment.

“I’m Sylvia,” she said. “Just thought I’d mention it in case you’re interested. I’m with him.” She nodded toward Clinton and rolled her eyes. “But trust me, I’m nobody around here.”

“Wonderful, Sylvia dear. Now that we know who the hell we are, can we please get to the bottom of things?” Clinton paused for a moment. “Detective?”

That was the first thing Harper had heard thus far that made any sense. “Let’s start with you Mrs. Gunter. I understand you found your mother.”

“Yes, that’s right. I—”

“She’s embellishing the truth again, Detective. Eve didn’t go in to mother’s room until after Nelly cut loose with a blood-curdling scream,” Clinton said, curling his lip.

“Who’s Nelly?”

“Why the ... I’ve checked on mother every morning since we arrived long before you ever woke from your booze-induced slumber.” The look in Evelyn’s eyes could have burned a hole through Clinton’s heart like a red-hot poker.

“Hell, she was still alive in the morning.”

“Who is Nelly?” Harper asked again.

Evelyn and Clinton continued to argue. Vic took a few unsteady steps to the bar at the other side of the room and poured himself a straight shot of bourbon. Sylvia pursed her lips and persistently played with her scarf, rolling it up and down then letting it slip through her fingers.

“Enough!” Harper yelled. “Everyone sit down and keep your mouths shut until I give you permission to speak.” Harper looked them square in the eyes. “Bicker all you want, but not on my time. Do I make myself clear?” With their incessant backbiting momentarily quashed, he broke the silence, “You, Mr. McGuire. Who is Nelly?”

“The housekeeper, Nelly Blount. She’s been with the family for years. She’s the one who found mother.”

“And when was that?”

“Just after lunch.”

Amazingly, the others nodded in agreement about the time. Harper glanced at his watch. It was ten of two which figured right since he had been the last to arrive at the scene. Harper was almost afraid to push his luck, but the next logical question needed to be asked. “And what makes you think your mother was murdered?”

“Allison Pike. A cold, self-serving extortionist.” Evelyn narrowed her eyes as words and spittle shot from her lips.

A crease rippled across Clinton’s brow and for the first time, he seemed to be in a pensive state of mind. “Mother hired Alli about a year ago as an assistant to help keep track of her appointments, take her places, run errands, that sort of thing.”

“She had us for chrissakes, mother didn’t need her.” Evelyn mumbled the words between gulps of booze. “Oh yes, Alli seemed sweet enough at first, but that didn’t last.”

“How so?”

“She was subtle, I’ll give her that,” Evelyn said. “Alli gushed at every word mother said and lavished her with attention. Mother certainly loved getting attention.”

“Yes.” Clinton leaned back in his seat and crossed his left foot over his knee. “She seemed so efficient, we never questioned her motives at first. It was almost a relief that someone was taking care of things. I mean … mother was sharp and had never been shy about dismissing an unworthy employee so …”

Evelyn nodded in complete agreement with her brother then added: “But then it got so that Mother quit returning our calls. We made countless trips into Chandler over the past several months to see her. Recently, there was always an excuse as to why we couldn’t—everything from mother taking a nap to her being in the tub.”

“Befriending an elderly person isn’t a crime though,” Harper said.

“Alli didn’t just befriend our mother,” Clinton said, “she formed a wedge between us.”

“You want to know what the real stinky beef is all about?” Vic slurred his words. “The old lady changed her damned will. Cut these two vultures, and us,” he flung a finger at Sylvia then poked himself in the chest, “right out.”

“He’s right,” Sylvia said. “With one bitchy stroke of a pen she disinherited us and made Alli her guardian. The woman even insisted on dispensing mother’s medication and overseeing the food preparation. Can you believe it? After kissing up to the old bag all these years she cozies up to a complete stranger. What a hideous slap on the face.”

Evelyn raised a slender finger to her eye and dabbed the first tear Harper had seen since entering the McGuire mansion. The conduct he witnessed in the past twenty minutes validated Jack’s comment about money, death and greed. What else had Jack said about the McGuires? Oh yeah, royalty—my ass, he thought. Harper had a good picture of how things were, but even if these four’s suspicions were right, all the hatred in the world didn’t make it so or answer the why or how.

“Money is no object, Detective,” Clinton said. “Do what you must to convict her.”

“That could be construed as a bribe, Mr. McGuire. So I’ll just pretend I didn’t hear it. But I wouldn’t be too concerned if I were you. If your mother was murdered, I’ll know and whoever did it won’t be able to shake me off.” Harper let them hang on to his words as he started for the door then turned. “One last question. Had your mother always been opposed to autopsies?”

Each of the four searched the other three’s faces.

“What an incredibly strange thing to ask,” Evelyn said, raising the glass to her lips and draining its content. “Mother never mentioned it, why?”

* * *

The brass nameplate permanently attached to the brick façade of the Stanley building read, “Jacob D. Stanley, Attorney At Law.” Harper pulled open the door, unbuttoned his overcoat, and instantly felt his steps sink into the thick pile of burgundy carpeting. Except for the middle-aged guy waiting in the pinstriped suit with his nose in the New York Times, the lobby was empty of clients. Overstuffed chairs and lush tropical plants that didn’t belong in Massachusetts in January or any other time of the year, lined the path that led directly to the knockout redhead sitting behind the desk.

She glanced up from her filing and offered a practiced smile, but her eyes were immediately drawn to the badge secured to Harper’s belt. The blunt cut of her hair fell just at the shoulders, the blue of her eyes matched her blouse, and looking down from his vantage point of six feet up and standing well over her head, the bit of visible cleavage was a distraction he didn’t need at the moment. Harper was trained to hone in on the details, but he wondered what the hell he was thinking. Now she was looking him straight in the eyes.

“Mr. Stanley is expecting me—Sam Harper, homicide.”

“Have a seat, Detective. I’ll let him know you’re here.” A take-me-home smile eased across her lips as she disappeared down the hall.

* * *

“Yes, I appreciate your predicament.” Jacob Stanley polished his reading glasses then placed them back on the bridge of his nose. “But the attorney/client privilege doesn’t end when the client passes. You know that.”

“Yes, I do, but—”

“It continues on in perpetuity. I can tell you this, Mrs. McGuire was of sound mind when she changed her will.”

“Her family doesn’t agree. Any idea why she didn’t let them in on it?” Harper asked.

“I assume you’ve had the pleasure of meeting them, right?” Stanley paused for a moment. “Yes, of course you have. Regardless of what you’ve heard about Catherine McGuire, she had a soft spot for her children, the irony is, they never appreciated it.”

“So what was her motive?”

“You need to understand that my job was never to persuade Catherine to do anything she hadn’t already set her mind to. I was here to advise her on the legality of her actions and the ramifications thereof, not meddle in her private life. Her personal affairs were off limits.”

“You have to admit, the whole thing seems strange,” Harper said.

“Maybe to the average person it does, but there was nothing routine about Catherine McGuire. Perhaps she faced her own mortality and didn’t like what she saw. I do think she felt alone much of the time.”

“Is that when she hired Allison Pike?”

Stanley thumbed through a few pages in Mrs. McGuire’s file then stopped and flipped back and forth between two pieces of paper. “Ms. Pike was employed last year on December 27. Catherine changed her will eight months later—hardly a hasty decision.”

“What about Pike’s background? Anything suspicious?”

“Not that I’m aware of.” Stanley signaled Harper to wait while he picked up his phone. “Beka, could you come in a minute?”

Within seconds, the redheaded beauty walked in, took three sheets of paper from Stanley’s hand and left the room. She returned minutes later with a set of copies.

“Here,” Stanley said. “Maybe that will help clear up some of your questions.”

Harper studied the list of references Allison Pike had submitted to her former employer then whistled at the salary noted at the bottom of the page. “Can’t say I blame the McGuires for being upset. A hundred grand a year is a chunk of change for driving an old woman around and keeping her calendar. Pike had a sweet deal going, why would the family suspect her of wanting to stop the gravy train?”

“I’m sure it’s a ploy to contest the will. Like I said, Detective, no one forced Catherine McGuire’s hand. She came to see me of her own free will with a clear mind and conscience. I’m sure Ms. Pike will be glad to fill you in on anything else you need to know. Her phone and address are at the bottom of the second page.”

“Thanks.” Harper folded the pages lengthwise then handed the attorney his business card. “If you think of anything else.”

“I will.” Jacob Stanley paused for a moment then frowned. “Have you ever missed a chance to do something and later regretted it?”

“Yeah, once or twice. Why?”

Stanley removed his reading glasses again and placed them on top of his desk. “I was out of town on business this week when my secretary called to say that Catherine had phoned twice on Monday to speak with me—wouldn’t leave a message—Catherine never would. Anyway, I was having a heck of a time with cell phone connections and assumed whatever Catherine wanted could wait a couple of days until I got back. It didn’t quite work out the way I had planned. Haunting, wouldn’t you say?”
* * *
The information Harper received from attorney Jacob Stanley two days before led him to the front door of a 1930s bungalow on west 43rd. When he knocked, he expected to meet a middle-aged spinster with orthopedic shoes on her feet and a hard look in her eyes. Instead, Allison Pike stood in the threshold dressed in white close-fitting slacks, a red cardigan sweater, and waves of flowing dark hair swept over one shoulder.

She smiled and ushered him into the sitting room where the mellow sound of Etta James drifted through the air. He hadn’t intended to agree to coffee, but the temperature outside was ten below and he couldn’t say no to the warmth emitted from crackling log in the fireplace.

Allison brought in a tray with a carafe, two mugs and the usual condiments. She did the pouring and left him to fix his own. She grabbed one of several throws and curled up in the overstuffed loveseat across from his. Harper noticed the zest in her style; every move triggered a spark. There was no hesitation in her voice, no concern in her eyes—not even when Harper informed her of the McGuires’ accusations.

“I can’t say that I’m surprised,” she said. “They were against Catherine’s decision to hire me from the beginning.”

“Tell me about it. Start with how you two met.”

“A painter friend of mine had his oils featured in a gallery downtown during the spring arts festival. Catherine and I were drawn to the same painting. That one,” she said, pointing to a large landscape rendition hanging on the opposite wall. “I’m a nut about impressionist style, aren’t you?”

Harper took a drink of his coffee while he mulled around the abrupt redirection and chose to ignore it. “Then what?”

“We developed a friendship. Catherine often invited me out to her home. What began as the occasional visit quickly became weekly chats. Sometimes after dinner, we’d talk for hours. Next thing I knew, she had the housekeeper prepare a room for me so I could stay overnight.” Alli brushed back a strand of hair from her eyes and studied Harper’s face as if waiting for his immediate reaction.

“Did the family object at that point?” he asked.

“I’m not sure if they were even aware of our friendship. That’s the point, Detective. They never called on her except to ask for money so they didn't know what was going on in her life. Trust me, none of this was planned. In spite of having a family and wealth she didn’t have what she needed most, love—a sense of belonging.” She paused for a moment. “She called me her guardian angle. The true is, I’m the one who was saved.”

“Why’s that?”

“It’s personal and I’d rather not go down that road, but suffice to say that she was lonely and I needed a sense of belonging too.”

Allison’s words echoed the same sentiment Jacob Stanley expressed in their meeting on Wednesday, but just like two wrongs don’t make a right, neither did the word of a lawyer and the sole beneficiary of the McGuire fortune equal the truth. “I understand you were hired last year on December 27, is that correct?”

“Yes, I think that’s right.”

“You two met in the spring and what, eight, nine months later she hired you as her personal assistance? What happened that December?”

“They left her alone.” Allison raised a slender hand to her lips then turned toward the fire that had now engulfed the massive log in the hearth. “Those vile, ungrateful … if it hadn’t been for me, she would have been alone over the holidays.” She wiped a tear from her eye and slipped into an uneasy silence.

“Ms. Pike?”

She looked up, tears glistened in her eyes. “That set the stage for what happened next.”

“Go on.”

“A few months later she called to say that she needed to see her lawyer and wanted me to drive her to his office. That’s when I found out she had been discussing a change in her will. The meeting was simply for the purpose to sign papers. The last thing I expected was that she made me her guardian.”

“You could have backed out.”

“Not likely. No one ever backed out of a Catherine McGuire order.”

“Is that what it was? An order?”

“It felt like it.”

The flair of confidence Harper saw in her a moment before vanished. She threw back her head and closed her eyes as if the question had awakened an unpleasant memory.

“So your duties were more that of a caretaker; you dispensed her medication, took charge of her meals—”

“She insisted.”

“Managed her appointments too?”

“That’s right.”

“Jacob Stanley said he missed a couple of calls from Mrs. McGuire the day before she died. What was that all about?”

“I wouldn’t know.”

“You just said it was your job to keep track of her appointments.”

“Not all of them. She was a tyrant in that respect. You wouldn’t understand.”

“Try me. She paid you a hundred grand. Why didn’t you know?”

“I didn’t need the money,” she said, placing her half-empty mug on the tray, “but I could use a drink. Care for one?”

The sudden change in her tone didn’t escape him. Harper told her he’d pass on the drink then rose to his feet. While she tinkered around in the kitchen, he examined the collection of books on the nearby shelf. Allison Pike’s tastes varied from the literary classics of Mary Shelley and Earnest Hemmingway to modern fan fiction, history, and travel. Then one book among several caught his attention. He was thumbing through 200 pages that listed a detailed assortment of poisons, their sources, and their affects on the human body when Allison walked back into the room with a glass of wine.

“Interesting,” he said.

“I also have books on psychology, military strategies, religions of the world, emergency first aid, and the history of rock and roll.” She took a sip then a few more steps until she was inches away. “My interests are varied. What’s your passion?”
He waited to give her an answer, not because he needed to think twice, but because one good tease deserved another.

“Justice, Ms. Pike, and the terms of Catherine McGuire’s will. Have a seat.”

To be continued.
Read the conclusion of “Dirty Little Secrets” on Friday, January 30, 2009 at http://samharpercrimescene.blogspot.com

Marta Stephens is the author of the Sam Harper Crime Mystery series published by BeWrite Books (UK)

THE DEVIL CAN WAIT – (2008) Top Ten, 2008 Preditors and Editors Reader Poll (mystery)

SILENCED CRY (2007), Honorable Mention, 2008 New York Book Festival, Top Ten, 2007 Preditors and Editors Reader Poll (mystery)

For more about this author go to:
www.martastephens-author.com
http://samharpercrimescene.blogspot.com
http://mstephens-musings.blogspot.com
http://murderby4.blogspot.com

Friday, January 23, 2009

Interview with Historical Fiction Author Lloyd Lofthouse

As a field radio operator, Lloyd Lofthouse was a walking target in Vietnam in 1966. He has skied in blizzards at forty below zero and climbed mountains in hip deep snow.

Lloyd earned a BA in journalism after fighting in Vietnam as a U.S. Marine. Later, while working days as an English teacher at a high school in California, he earned an MFA in writing. He enjoyed a job as a maitre d’ in a multimillion-dollar nightclub and tried his hand successfully at counting cards in Las Vegas for a few years. He now lives near San Francisco with his wife, with a second home in Shanghai, China. Lloyd says that snapshots of his life appear like multicolored ribbons flowing through many of his poems.

This link takes you to Lloyd's 'Vietnam Experience' page filled with photos. He took many of them. Since Lloyd still has to edit the photos so they load faster, this page may load slow for older computers.

This link will take you to a media piece from a Southern California newspaper that Lloyd copied and posted on his Website that will give you an idea about his teaching years.

If you are interesting in learning more about Lloyd's teaching experience, you are welcome to read about it at AuthorsDen. 'Word Dancer' is a memoir of the 1994-1995 school year. He kept a daily journal that year. He is using that journal to write 'Word Dancer'. Everyday, when he arrived home, Lloyd wrote an entry in that journal. It sat on a shelf in his garage for fourteen years gathering dust. Spiders moved into the binder and built a nest. After all those years, Lloyd forgot he'd written it. When he was cleaning the garage, he found it again. Lloyd started reading, remembering and writing. Everything he writes in 'Word Dancer' happened. He's using a primary source as his guide. Memory may be faulty, but a daily journal written the day an event took place is as accurate as it can get from the author's point-of-view.

Accomplishments: Lloyd's short story "A Night at the Well of Purity" was named a finalist for the 2007 Chicago Literary Awards.

As a teacher, Lloyd found satisfaction in the number of students that published nationally and internationally while attending his English and journalism classes.

You can visit his website at www.mysplendidconcubine.com.

Welcome to The Writer's Life, Lloyd. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how long you’ve been writing?

After serving in the United States Marine Corps and fighting in Vietnam, I earned a BA in journalism. Eventually, I ended in the classroom teaching English literature and journalism. During those thirty years in education, I had a few part time jobs to make ends meet. One job was a maitre d at the Red Onion, a Southern California nightclub. I started writing my first manuscript in 1968. I’ve heard that ‘close’ only counts in the game of horse shoes, but ‘close’ helps in writing too. Most of the novel-length manuscripts I wrote during the last four decades made it by the readers and ended in an agent or editor’s hands. Opening an encouraging, personal rejection slip signed by an editor or agent kept the fires lit. Working days as a teacher and nights at jobs like the one at the Red Onion made writing a challenge. However, getting up at three in the morning to squeeze in an hour or two helped. Along the way, I took writing workshops for seven years out of UCLA and started a MFA at Cal Poly, Pomona that I completed at another university.

Can you please tell us about your book and why you wrote it?

My Splendid Concubine is a passionate love story set in China during the turbulent 19th century. Robert Hart arrived in China in 1854 and left in 1908. During those fifty-four years, Hart became the most powerful Westerner to live and work in China. No one has matched him yet. There isn’t much known about his early years in China, because he burned some of his journals in an attempt to hide the love story with Ayaou, his concubine. That hidden love story motivated me to spend nine years researching and writing this historical fiction novel. I agree with the Writer’s Digest judge that wrote, “...the novel is as much a study of the complexities of love as it is anything else.”

What kind of research was involved in writing My Splendid Concubine?

Researching My Splendid Concubine was a long trip. I started by reading Robert Hart’s surviving journals and letters (published by the Council on East Asian Studies, Harvard). My first trip to China was in 1999. The most recent was in September and October 2008. While there, we hunt for information and visit locations. That was tricky and time consuming. While writing the novel, I also researched the history, culture and people of China.

How much input did you have into the design of your book cover?

The publisher allowed some say in the selection of the cover and the final design. We went back and forth a number of times and several changes were done due to my suggestions. I guess that paid off since a Writer’s Digest judge wrote, “I was struck by the beauty of the cover, and I certainly was not disappointed by the book’s contents.”
Has it been a bumpy ride to becoming a published author or has it been pretty well smooth sailing?

The journey to become a published author has been a bumpy, forty year ride.


For this particular book, how long did it take from the time you signed the contract to its release?

Only a few months. I spent eight years writing the novel before I signed the contract.

Do you have an agent and, if so, would you mind sharing who he/is is? If not, have you ever had an agent or do you even feel it’s necessary to have one?

I don’t have an agent at this time. However, over the four decades I’ve been writing, I’ve had several. Although I do not feel it is necessary to have an agent, it depends on the goals of the author. If an author wants to reach the big traditional publishers, an established agent that does not charge a reading or handling fee may be a great help since most larger publishing houses do not accept unsolicited manuscripts.

Do you plan subsequent books?

I’m working on two right now: Our Hart, the sequel to My Splendid Concubine, and a memoir about one year (1994 -1995) as a teacher in the rough barrio high school where I taught and witnessed drive-by shootings. After the memoir, I want to finish a thriller/mystery I started some years ago that takes place in a nightclub similar to the Red Onion where I was a maitre d’.

Are you a morning writer or a night writer?

It doesn’t matter what time it is. I write morning, noon or night. There have been times I get up at two or three in the morning to write for a few hours. Most of the time, I start around nine or ten. Right now it’s after eight at night.

If money was no object, what would be the first thing you would invest in to promote your book?

I’d pay for the services of a top advertising, public relations firm to coordinate a mass media campaign including newspapers, magazines, television and the Internet along with an old fashioned, multicity book tour doing author events and signings in book stores. The goal would be to build name recognition as an author and put My Splendid Concubine in front of the reading public. Since money is no object, I’d produce a movie with a top name director and actors too. A movie tie-in is a great way to generate book sales.

How important do you think self-promotion is and in what ways have you been promoting your book offline and online?

Self-promotion is important. If most authors do not promote their work and the publisher doesn’t, who is going to hear about the book. I’m sure there are exceptions but not many. My self-promotion started when I mailed a thousand postcards to independent bookstores coast to coast. It took weeks to generate the mailing list. My next step was to contact local independent bookstores. That resulted in several author events. The first one was to standing room only. While that was going on, I hired a Florida company to arrange talk radio appearances. That resulted in being a guest on thirty-two radio talk shows reaching millions of listeners in one hundred and thirty countries. I’ve mailed copies of My Splendid Concubine to reviewers in the United States, China, England and Australia. That has results in some great reviews from around the world. There are copies and links to those reviews at www.mysplendidconubine.com where I also set up links to several Podcasts of radio talk shows I was on. Right now, I’m about half way through a two month virtual book tour organized by Pump Up Your Book Promotions. I plan to keep promoting My Splendid Concubine for three years. I have two years to go. Another step was to submit the novel to writing competitions. That resulted in My Splendid Concubine winning an honorable mention in fiction at the 2008 London Book Festival.

Any final words of wisdom for those of us who would like to be published?

If you love writing do not give up. Keep improving your writing craft. Find a support group of fellow writers in your local area. Join them. Seek constructive criticism. Read books of all types. Also read books on the craft of writing. Take writing workshops at local universities or adult education programs. Never stop growing as a writer even after publication. Join on-line writing groups like those at Authors Den, EditRed or Writer’s Café.

Thank you for coming, Lloyd! Would you like to tell my readers where they can find you on the web and how everyone can buy your book?

My pleasure. Thank you for having me. Everyone may find me through www.mysplendidconcubine.com where there are also links to buy the novel and information about China.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Interview with Career Strategist Robert Patterson, Sr.

Born in Cincinnati, Ohio Reverend Robert Patterson, Sr. is the father of six children (5 sons one daughter) and the loving husband of Mrs. Linda Patterson. He is a grandfather as well as a great grandfather.

As a member of Walker Chapel AME Church (The Fifth District), he has served in various capacities, from the Usher Board to the Steward and Trustee Boards. He has taught both Sunday School and Bible Study and has served in each department to the best of his abilities

His life reads like a road map, he is a Vietnam ERA Veteran (U.S.M.C 1961-1970), A Graduate of San Diego State University (Class of 1975). He has served as a Cable Television News Reporter, (Oceanside, CA.) Host of “Behind the Truth”, Employment Counselor Specialist, (Operation SER), Counselor-Testing Specialist, Metropolitan Area Advisory Committee (MAAC). Coordinator of Manpower, CETA Area Training Center (at Palomar Community College), Transitional Assistance Program Instructor (TAP) and was Director of Personal Affairs (Camp Pendleton, CA) and Coordinated the first ever Sickle Cell Anemia Testing in Oceanside, just to name a few of his many accomplishments.

Reverend Patterson is a strong advocate of education and cultural awareness. He likes teaching and having the interaction and discussion of both Bible Study and Sunday School with the congregation in order to get down to the nitty gritty and still be brief, be specific, and be seated.” As he is fond of saying, “The day that you stop seeking knowledge, is the day that you most surely are dead.”

We interviewed Robert to find out more about his new book, Five Steps to C.A.L.M. (Career and Life Management).

Welcome to The Writer's Life, Robert. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I was born in Cincinnati, Ohio and I am the father of six children (5 sons and one daughter) and the loving husband of Mrs. Linda Patterson. I am also a grandfather as well as a great grandfather, and an ordained minister in the African Methodist Episcopal Church.

My humanitarianism has allowed me a plethora of opportunity to help others obtain their goals. And now with this illuminating book Five Steps to C.A.L.M. (Career and Life Management) thousands more will benefit!

I am a strong advocate of education and cultural awareness. Furthermore, I like teaching and having the interaction and discussion of business forums, bible studies, as well as the networking and fellowshipping with my congregation in order to get down to the nitty gritty and still be brief, be specific, and be seated.” As I am fond of saying, “The day that you stop seeking knowledge, is the day that you most surely are dead.”

In my opinion Five Steps to C.A.L.M. are certainly not just another well thought-out plans and stratagems or antic dotes to be applied to a resume. On the Contrary, the many talented hats worn by myself have wrought this latest fascinating opus. Inside Five Steps To C.A.L.M., each page unfolds a literal transducing of business intellect with a stimulating application for all businesses as well as businesspersons new and seasoned. This evolutionary book is a must read! And it speaks to all avenues of business. My exhausting business experiences, to name a few, range from Job Match; Employment Counseling Specialist; Military Counseling Testing Specialist; T.V. News Reporter; Corporate America, and manpower Coordinator. He has been able to assist hundreds in their business thinking.

AND SURELY! -This new read will awesomely impact more future business minds for years to come!


Can you please tell us about your book and why you wrote it?

A father once told his young son, who was going out into the world on his own, “Son, whatever you want to become, be The Best.” This course teaches you how to be “The Best.”

It begins with instructions on how to put “The Best” of you on paper  Writing Your Resume. Then, later presenting “The Best” of you in person  Preparing for an Interview.

You’ll begin with the basic Resume Content, noting what should and should not be included in your Resume. After mastering the content, then begins the formatting of the Resume.

I have thoughtfully provided you with a Resume checklist. Some of the questions are as follows:

1. Is the Resume two pages or less?
(Do you realize the importance of this question?)
2. Are the dates consistent on the left (or right) side, and limited to years?
3. Does the language “flow” (neither stiff nor stilted)?
Are Action Verbs used to your full advantage?

I would like to make a comment here; this is one of the many sections that you will utilize not only in your job search but also in your everyday associations.

C.A.L.M. gives you access to nine different categories for Action Verbs. They are listed under the headings of:

Communication Skills
Creative Skills
Detailed Skills
Financial Skills
Helping Skills
Management Skills
Manual Skills
Research Skills
Teaching Skills

You’ll be surprised how many Action Verbs from this section you will be able to include in your Resume, which will help make it more impressive to your employer.

Didn’t I tell you that employers would be impressed with your Resume? Now, you have been called for an interview! The next section of the book takes you into “Interviewing Techniques.” What other book walks you through an all-inclusive “Pre-Interview” session? Well, C.A.L.M. does, and once you have completed this lesson, you will indeed be CALM during your interview, no matter how many people may be on the panel of interviewers.

Included in the “Interviewing Techniques” section are Fashion Recommendations, which takes you step by step through the protocol for the business interview dress code, how both men and women should dress when going to an interview. Remember, your Resume may have “opened” the door, now your personal appearance may get a “foot” in that door. Here is where you put the lessons you have learned from C.A.L.M. into practice. Here’s where you sell The Product – Yourself! Don’t worry. C.A.L.M. has fully prepared you for any of the possible questions that you may be asked during the interview. You are ready for them, and you will remain CALM.

C.A.L.M. guides you step-by-step through the entire interview: from the Beginning of the Interview, during the Interview, and through the Closure of the Interview. After completing this course of study, you will glide through your interview with confidence and a sense of achievement. You will have left a favorable impression with the employer, and all because you put into practice your C.A.L.M. course of study.

While the employer is checking you out, C.A.L.M. also instructs you on how to compile a checklist of pertinent company information. Information that is important to you in helping you decide whether or not you would want to work for this firm or company.

The author has thought of everything in preparing you for the job search. He has included a web-site listing for those of you who want to do your job-hunting via the Internet.

C.A.L.M. answers all the questions you may have ever had in your previous job search. The “Who,” the “What,” the “Where,” and the “How.”

If you are willing to strike a Faustian Bargain, that is, willing to sacrifice anything to satisfy a limitless desire for knowledge, then C.A.L.M. is, without a doubt, the course of study for you.

What kind of research was involved in writing Five Steps to C.A.L.M. (Career and Life Management)?

I did my research throughout all the fifteen years that I was teaching my seminars as a motivational speaker and receiving feed back that I was getting from the seminar participants.


How much input did you have into the design of your book cover?

I had a great deal of impute into the design of my book cover because it had to reflect what the title was implying.


Has it been a bumpy ride to becoming a published author or has it been pretty well smooth sailing?

Having my path already set before me I would say that it was pretty smooth. Remember that you must first plan your work and then you work your plan.

For this particular book, how long did it take from the time you signed the contract to its release?

I would say about a year.

Do you have an agent and, if so, would you mind sharing whom he/she is? If not, have you ever had an agent or do you even feel it’s necessary to have one?

No, I don’t have an agent at this point in time. However, in today’s global market I would think that it would be a good idea if one can find that agent who could share you views on what path you would prefer to take.


Do you plan subsequent books?

Yes, I will be publishing any book look for it some time early 2009.

Are you a morning writer or a night writer?

I am a morning writer, right after meditation.


If money was no object, what would be the first thing you would invest in to promote your book?

To answer that question I would invest in a very good PR person.


How important do you think self-promotion is and in what ways have you been promoting your book offline and online?

In today’s global market I would find it very difficult in self-promotion. You can’t promote beyond cyberspace market on your own.

Any final words of wisdom for those of us who would like to be published?

We all have a gift. I would advise everyone to look inward and ask yourself this question:
What do I want to do. Not what do I want to be.


Thank you for coming, Robert! Would you like to tell my readers where they could find you on the web and how everyone can buy your book?

Author’s website: http://www.rpatters.com
Author’s Blog: http://www.fivestepstocalm.wordpress.com

I would like to say thank you for having me here and would like for all of you to think about this: To anyone who buys and takes the time to read my book. This is not a book that you would read and then put down to say that you have read it. On the contrary, this is a book that you will be reading for some time because it is a workbook that intended to guide you through your career path in life. It is a book that you will need to keep with you at every turn in your career and life management.



Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Vivian Eisenecher’s new book holds key to richer and happier life

As anyone will tell you, all self-help books aren’t the same. There are hundreds of books that can tell you how to live a richer and happier life, but none stands out more than a book I recently read, Recovering Me, Discovering Joy: Uplifting Wisdom for Everyday Greatness by Vivian Eisenecher.

Vivian’s path in life was not easy, but she found the key to a richer and happier life and wants to share her story with you in the hopes it will help at least one person out there who has been hit with the sometimes fatal disease, alcoholism.

My family was hit by alcoholism every which way you turned. I grew up with alcoholism, although for some odd reason, I never succumbed to the disease, nor did I have any inclination to drink more than one drink or I was just as tipsy as someone who had half a six pack or more. Go figure.

But my mother did, my grandmother did, my aunts, uncles, you name it, fell into the wrath of alcoholism and it was an uphill battle for them. Some never made it out of it and still some died because of it.

That’s why it is so important to have a book out that will help those of us who are fighting those alcohol demons, whether they want to admit they need help or not.

In a recent interview, Vivian says, “Some alcoholics when diagnosed with alcoholism put the drink down and never go back to it. If alcohol is causing problems in their lives, they know they’re better off without it. There’s no underlying force driving them to drink again.

With others like me, alcohol serves such a profound purpose that we stubbornly hang on to it even when it’s destroying our lives. It was four very long, unnecessary years after being diagnosed with this insidious disease before I could convince myself to walk away it.”

What happens if one walks away with doing nothing and continues to let the disease consume them?

“Left untreated," she says, "not only does anxiety and depression affect ones quality of life but they can lead to substance abuse and other negative behaviors. Both indeed complicated my recovery and prolonging my active alcoholism.

“It took the successful treatment of not only alcoholism but also my chronic low-grade depression and my social phobia for me to recognize that these two lifelong disorders were ‘triggers’ for my alcoholism. They were the ugly underbelly of the beast. Substance abuse was a mere symptom of two underlying disorders that were not discernible to anyone, not even me. My groundbreaking book, Recovering Me, Discovering Joy gives an inside look at my experience, strength and hope. Above all else it chronicles how I finally conquered my alcoholism.”

Vivian Eisenecher is on tour with her latest book, Recovering Me, Discovering Joy: Uplifting Wisdom for Everyday Greatness (KTW Publishing). If you would like to schedule an interview with Vivian, contact Dorothy Thompson of Pump Up Your Book Promotion at thewriterslife@yahoo.com. You can visit the author’s website at www.recoveringme.com.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

World’s most remote jungles set tone of new book by William Petrick

There are many elements that come into play when writing your book. There is character development, fine-tuning the plot and choosing where you want your story to unfold, among many other fun things we as writers know we have to have for our story to make sense.

For author William Petrick, the setting of his book became a crucial part of his whole book as it set the tone of the story as well as providing us with a glimpse into the lifestyle of its inhabitants. He chose the Maya Mountains of Belize and Guatemala.

Why writers choose different settings becomes a personal thing to each one. They might have lived there, traveled there or fantasized about being there. But one thing is for certain – the setting they choose is determined before anything else.

“Many readers have asked me why I chose to set the novel in the Maya Mountains of Belize and Guatemala,” William says. “The simple truth is that I’d visited years ago, wandering through the Mayan villages and the pristine jungle and the experience never left me.

“Soon after I finished a short story called ‘Shooting Harlem’ about a producer and TV crew struggling in New York’s urban jungle, I wanted to keep the characters and story going. What would happen to these people if they were to practice their craft in one of the world’s most remote jungles (a real jungle)?

“Naturally, I had the Maya Mountains in mind and soon I was off and running. As the novel progressed, my work as a documentary producer took me to jungles in Costa Rica and Thailand, rain forests that deepened my knowledge and understanding of what I’d experience in Belize. I also began to meet people who spoke casually of ‘jungle fever,’ the feeling they get when they are about to embark on another trip there, usually coming from a city somewhere. Their senses became heightened, their instincts reaching what they described as fever pitch. I was shocked when I felt that, too, on one of my last trips.”

William Petrick is on tour with his latest book, The Five Lost Days (Pear House Publishing). If you would like to schedule an interview with William, contact Pump Up Your Book Promotion at thewriterslife@yahoo.com. You can visit William’s website at www.thefivelostdays.com to find out more about him and his book.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Interview with Children's Book Author Linda Thieman

Linda Thieman (pronounced TEE-mun) writes the Katie & Kimble chapter book series (RL3) and runs the Katie & Kimble Blog (http://www.katieandkimbleblog.com). She is a former English language teacher who has created a set of reading skills worksheets and classroom materials that teachers and homeschoolers can download from the Katie & Kimble Blog free of charge. The materials correspond to the first two books in the Katie & Kimble series and are guided by the standards set for third grade reading skills in Iowa school systems. Linda lives in Sioux City, Iowa. She hopes to publish Katie & Kimble: The Golden Door (book 3) in 2009. You can visit Linda's website at http://www.katieandkimbleblog.com/.

Welcome to The Writer's Life, Linda. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how long you’ve been writing?

Sure. When I was 12, I started writing stories with neighbors as characters, and then the next year, I started writing a Partridge Family mystery which was based on the old TV show. I’ve come to believe that both were excellent exercises in character development because I didn’t have the burden of creating characters from scratch. I could see a character that already existed and try to capture that person on the page.

Can you please tell us about your book and why you wrote it?

Katie & Kimble: A Ghost Story is the first chapter book in a series for ages 7 to 10. Katie, who is almost nine, moves into an old house out in the country with her family and soon discovers that the ghost of a 10-year-old girl, Kimble, is living there, too. Kimble gradually reveals herself to Katie and then once they meet, Kimble asks Katie to help her find out what happened to her mother. The books are lively and funny, but also pack a real emotional wallop.

When I was considering moving into children’s fiction, I wanted to do something that was a bit different. Over the years, I’ve grown tired of storylines where children are independent because their parents are just simply out of the picture—gone, dead, neglectful, abusive. I wanted to portray a girl who was growing in independence because her parents encouraged her to do so. So, over the course of several books, Katie’s parents actually become rather well-developed characters.

What kind of research was involved in writing Katie & Kimble: A Ghost Story?


There are a number of historical and cultural references in the book, so I took great care to make sure I had customs and timing and history and logistics as accurate as possible.

Since Kimble and her mother died during the Great Influenza of 1918, a pandemic that killed more than 600,000 Americans, I wanted to make sure I had the timing of that correct. You know, which month did the flu spread and when did most of the deaths of the young, healthy people take place.

I also wanted to get Kimble’s look right, so after years of searching, I met up with a gal who owns an online costume gallery and she ended up helping me with an appropriate and realistic dress pattern for Kimble, plus the right hair style, the right print on the material (plaid), and the right accessories and shoes!

There is also a place where Katie’s mom tells her about the story of Hanukah since Kimble is Jewish and has left a dreidel (a spinning top) as a present for Katie. So I made sure I had the Hanukah story correct. And then later, Kimble teaches Katie how to play dreidel, so I needed to make sure that I had the Hebrew characters correctly named, identified, and the corresponding meaning within the game correct.

How much input did you have into the design of your book cover?

Oh, I hate to admit it, but I designed the thing in Word. Seriously. I wanted bright, vibrant colors that make a person feel alive, and that is really hard to come by. It’s not the usual style for children’s books. And there were only a few colors to choose from in Word.

I based the design on books I had at the same level as the Katie & Kimble books. Then, when my illustrator signed on, I said, I’d like this picture and it needs to be this size. And I sent her a copy of the template from Word so that she could see the true colors and the color scheme I was going for.

After that, and a lot of trouble, I hooked up with a graphics artist who was a friend of mine, and he smoothed out all the problem areas and made the covers interchangeable. So, now when we get to the cover of the third book, Katie & Kimble: The Golden Door, he can just insert the new picture, change a few little things, and we’re good to go.

Has it been a bumpy ride to becoming a published author or has it been pretty well smooth sailing?

Well, I’ve actually been published since I was a sophomore in high school. That year, I wrote a letter about the POW / MIA situation, sent it in to one of the local TV stations, and replaced Paul Harvey reading it on the news one night. Then, through the years, I’ve published in professional newsletters and journals, I’ve done advertorials, radio ad copy, blog posts, lots of magazine articles as a freelancer, and some magazine articles for kids, too.

For this particular book, how long did it take from the time you signed the contract to its release?

I had always been interested in self-publishing. I feel that the Katie & Kimble: A Ghost Story series is different enough that doing it on my own is well worth it. I had approached several publishers over the years, had a couple of nibbles, but then print on demand (POD) just exploded on the scene and I knew it was time to birth the Katie & Kimble series into reality. I first tried CafePress. Too expensive. I then tried Lulu. Less expensive, but still not right. Then in March, 2008, CreateSpace started offering POD books, and I was in heaven. I could get my price point down to $5.95 in order to be competitive with other books at this level, AND since CreateSpace is an Amazon company, you automatically get your books posted on Amazon. A huge boon.

Do you have an agent and, if so, would you mind sharing who he/she is? If not, have you ever had an agent or do you even feel it’s necessary to have one?

I have had an agent at a couple different times in my career. One of my friends who is an author recommended her, but she was the kind of agent to whom one has to pay a fee upfront. But since she came so highly recommended, I purchased her services. I think she submitted to two publishers during the six month period. I would not do that again. I suppose at some point I’ll have to get an agent, but I am not looking forward to it. I would hope that someone who represents me “gets” my vision for my little stories of healing and love, but that seems rather hard to come by.

Do you plan subsequent books?

Yes, since the beginning, I’ve had outlines for the first six Katie & Kimble books. Since each story builds on the previous story or stories, I need to know where I’m going. Right now, I’m in the middle of writing the third book in the series, Katie & Kimble: The Golden Door, which I hope to bring out in the fall of 2009.

Are you a morning writer or a night writer?

It sort of depends on whether or not I can sleep. I like to harness my best energy for writing when I first get up, but so often when I’m trying to sleep, ideas come through and scenes present themselves fully formed, or I start hearing dialog in my head, that I pretty much jump out of bed and run to my office to write the things down as quickly as possible.

If money were no object, what would be the first thing you would invest in to promote your book?

Great question! Even if I had an advertising budget of, say, some outlandish figure like $5 million, I’d still want to get the most bang for my buck. For example, taking out an ad in People Magazine for just one week costs close to a quarter of a million dollars. With that kind of money, I think I’d rather take a page from Obama’s book and blanket the Internet with ads. I’d also send out copies to public libraries and contact the children’s librarians, although I’d no doubt have to hire someone to do that for me, which is where all that money would come in handy.
How important do you think self-promotion is and in what ways have you been promoting your book offline and online?

As much as I don’t like self-promotion, I think it is necessary. Truly, no one cares about getting your work out to the world the way you do. People may be interested and supportive, but only the author has that inner drive. And maybe the author’s mother!

Being a former English language teacher, I had created a large number of teaching materials over the years and really loved doing it. So, part of my original plan was to create a set of free downloadable classroom / homeschooling materials to go with Katie & Kimble: A Ghost Story. So I worked up seven or eight samples. The idea was to approach school systems. Hadn’t really done much about it, but in 2008, my mom decided the time was now and she had a school district in mind. So the two of us worked together to formulate an approach and to decide which materials to include. So my mom approached that first school system, and she scored big time there. They bought classroom sets of both books, Katie & Kimble: A Ghost Story and Katie & Kimble: The Magic Wish. They also liked the sample activity pages and as I had offered to write a complete set, they took me up on my offer. For both books! So during the summer of 2008, I dedicated two or three months to doing nothing but writing 84 pages of reading and language skills materials based on the national standards for third grade. And we’ve continued to have success in approaching school districts.
Any final words of wisdom for those of us who would like to be published?

Stick to your vision and don’t give up. I had a colleague who had written a powerful novel. Then he got an agent who demanded a huge rewrite. He’d had some storyline about hostages being taken by South American extremists and the agent thought the plot was just simply too unrealistic. So he bowed down to her opinion, did an enormous, exhausting rewrite, and the next thing we knew, that “unrealistic plot” made international news when it came to pass in reality.

Thank you for coming, Linda! Would you like to tell my readers where they can find you on the web and how everyone can buy your book?

Certainly. Thank you. The first two Katie & Kimble books are available at Amazon.com. And you can find ME on the web at the Katie & Kimble blog. The Katie & Kimble blog is “kid friendly” and is closely monitored, and young readers can post comments and ask me questions. Plus there are an enormous number of free activities related to the Katie & Kimble: A Ghost Story series available to download.