SECRET EXPOSURE MYSTERY NOVEL REVEAL

Latest novel just out, third in the Paula Mitchell, PI, series–Kindle edition. Print version coming soon.

Front cover finalClick on Cover to see on Amazon

Here’s the description:

Did Simon Langford abuse his son and kill his wife? Paula Mitchell, a Rhode Island private investigator, is hired to prove he’s an innocent man.
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When Simon refuses to answer Paula’s questions, she interviews his friends and acquaintances. Trouble is, they’re almost as secretive as Simon, and she’s sure some are lying. When Simon is arrested for his wife’s murder, Paula knows she needs to work fast, or Simon will go to prison, probably for life. And might never see his little boy again.

After old flame Steve comes back to town, Paula is excited about the rekindling of their romance. Events turn dangerous, though, and Steve’s need to protect Paula might get in the way of her solving the case.

Paula’s frustration escalates until the day she discovers some answers from an unexpected source that provide a surprising breakthrough. But when she acts on the information, she puts her own life in danger.

Hope everyone will check it out!

A BROKEN LIFE, A PAULA MITCHELL, PI, NOVEL SPOTLIGHT

Since the third novel in the Paula, PI, series, Secrets Exposed, will be out soon, I decided to do a spotlight in case you missed the second book, A Broken Life, and might enjoy knowing more about it.

ABrokenLife_200x300First, here’s a short description of A Broken Life:

While in the middle of investigating a domestic case, Rhode Islander PI Paula Mitchell finds an old friend, ragged and homeless. Paula learns that Martha Hendricks is the victim of identity theft. Three years earlier a woman, with ID confirming her as Martha, was busted on a drug charge. After Martha’s boss found out about it, he fired her.

Soon Paula begins to receive threatening phone calls. The doctor Martha worked for is murdered. And Martha disappears–until Paula finds her, beaten and left for dead, in her own backyard.

For two days, Martha is unconscious. As Paula investigates further, she learns more about the doctor’s employees, meets Martha’s old boyfriend, and one of her former roommates. Paula’s suspect list grows. When she’s almost run down in a parking lot, her lover pleads with her to stop her investigation.

Paula refuses. Not only is Martha in danger, but if Paula doesn’t push harder for answers, she knows she’ll be the next person on the killer’s hit list.

And here’s an excerpt to showcase Paula at work:

Straight-arming the door, I strode into the [convenience] store. Looked around. The only customer was male, about five feet eight, with short brown hair, brown eyes and a pointy little nose. My accident-prone tail [from the other day]. Surprised, I stopped in the doorway, staring a moment before I could think what to do. My gun felt heavy at my side, and I longed to pull it out, point it at him and call the police. But it was too risky, no one’s life was in danger, and I hated to point a gun at someone without a damned good reason.

Deciding to play it cool, I walked farther into the store, picked up a candy bar, a box of doughnuts, and watched the guy out of the corner of my eye. He said something to the cashier, then sauntered toward the door, head down. Maybe he felt me staring, because suddenly he looked up, saw me, and took off. I dashed out after him, the clerk yelling behind me. When I reached for the door handle of the Taurus, I realized I still had the candy and doughnuts in my hand. I heard the other car start up and back away. Throwing the goodies on the ground, I jumped into my car and took off after him, squashing the candy and doughnuts under my wheels.]

He drove to Chartersford Avenue, with me right on his bumper. He tried to time the lights so he could get through and I’d be stuck, but I managed to stay with him all the way up to Springton, and then through several other small towns until we were out in the country. I had memorized his license number by that time, as well as the back of his head.The sound of a train whistle wailed in the distance. The car ahead slowed down as we approached a crossing. Behind me, I heard another sound—a siren. Lights flashed in my mirror. Thank goodness, I thought, the police. I looked ahead again and saw what the guy was trying to do. He wanted to get through the crossing and have the train block me. Don’t do it, I thought. Remember your luck with the bus. This would be much worse. I wanted to close my eyes, but I couldn’t.

The whistle hooted again, the train almost upon us. The guy made his move, getting through, and I had to stop. I turned around and motioned frantically toward the police car.

But the police officer took his time climbing out, his notebook in hand. He sauntered over to me so slowly that I became impatient and jumped out of the car.

“Hold it right there!” he yelled at me, drawing his weapon.

“Officer,” I shouted, standing still, putting my hands up. “You have to catch that guy.”

As I raised my arms, my jacket pulled away to reveal my gun. Now the officer stopped walking, too. “Use two fingers to take out your weapon,” he said, his voice hoarse, “and place it on the ground.”

“Officer,” I pleaded. “I’m a private detective on a case. We need to catch the man I was following.”

“Yeah, and I’m the Easter Bunny. I’ve heard them all now. Do as I said. Get that weapon on the ground, then turn around and spread-eagle against your vehicle.”

Shaking my head, I used my thumb and forefinger to gingerly lift my gun out of its holster, and bent down a little so I wouldn’t have to drop it far and damage it. After I straightened up, I hugged my Taurus and uncomfortably let the officer search me for more weapons. Did his hands linger a little longer than necessary? It was hard to tell under these circumstances.

“Okay,” he said when satisfied, still shouting over the noise of the train. “Now show me some identification.”

“In my purse,” I said through wooden lips, as I reached inside the car for my bag.
When he saw my PI license his only comment was, “Huh. Well, anyway, you’re under arrest.

“What for?” I demanded.

“Shoplifting,” he shouted.

The train chugged along until finally the caboose came into view. I gaped at the police officer a moment before collecting what wits I had left. With one final, mournful toot of its horn, the train disappeared around a bend. I looked at the road ahead, and of course, the guy in the car had disappeared. My only real lead in the case.

“Officer, you don’t understand.” I almost whimpered with frustration. “What town are you from, anyway?” The lights in the strobe bar on his cruiser still rotated maddeningly.
“Taylor,” he said. He had his gun back in his fist, pointed at me. Overkill for a shoplifter, but not one with a gun, I guess.

I gaped some more. “You came all the way from Taylor to arrest me out here for shoplifting?”

“The clerk at the convenience store thought you might be impersonating a police officer. That’s a serious crime. I see now that you are a private investigator, but there’s still the charge of shoplifting.”

“I can explain that.”

“Of course you can,” he said in a soothing voice, as if I were a young child or mentally deranged.

“Really. Listen, it’s a long story.” I realized that I’d like to sit down. My legs felt a bit weak, my usual delayed reaction to stress. And having a gun pointed at me twice in two days definitely counted as stress. Plus, I’d lost the guy. He’d probably ditch the car now. And what was his relationship to the woman with the two kids? So many questions, so little time. I’d have to make the long story short.

“Look,” I pleaded. “The guy I was following followed me the other day. He crashed into a bus, and when I confronted him, he pulled a gun on me. There’s a report about it in Springton, if you don’t believe me. So, when I saw him in the convenience store, I had to try to talk to him, find out what it was all about. I’ll pay for the merchandise I took. It was completely unconscious—I didn’t realize I had the stuff in my hands until I got out to the car, and then I had to go after him. You see?” My legs felt even weaker now, but I forced myself to stand straight and tall.

“Yeah, sure,” he said.

“You can check it out. Call Detective Brudder in Springton.”

“You know him?”

“Of course,” I said impatiently. I’d come to the conclusion that this guy wasn’t the brightest light in the police station.

“You a friend of his?” he asked, his gun lowering slightly at the thought.

“Yes,” I lied, silently asking my mother’s forgiveness. One of her favorite stories had been about George Washington and the cherry tree.

“Okay. I’m going to call in. You come with me to the car.”

“And leave my gun on the ground here? My car in the road?”

He stood considering these matters seriously for a minute. “I’ll get your weapon,” he said finally. “People can get around the car. I’ll leave my lights on.”

Good thinking. At least something about you will be bright. After he retrieved my gun, I trod to the police car, its lights making me crazy. He put me inside the cage. No door handles and metal netting between him and me. I felt like a hamster with a broken wheel, getting nowhere.

The officer called in, and the dispatcher patched him through to the Springton police station. I could hear Lil for a moment, then Brudder’s deep growl came over the speaker. Thank goodness he was there. Or maybe not. It would be just like him to deny that he even knew me. I held my breath.

After explaining what had happened, the officer waited a moment during the silence over the line. “You still there, sir?” he finally asked.

“Yeah,” Brudder replied. “Thinking. Look, I know Mitchell. She’s all right. Wouldn’t do anything totally stupid.”

I couldn’t believe my ears. I realized he didn’t know I could hear him. I almost blushed.

“She did have a guy point a gun at her the other day,” he continued. “If she thought she saw him again, she’d do almost anything to catch him. So, her story’s probably solid. Plus, she has this lawyer friend who can cause you a boatload of trouble. Son, I’d let her go with a warning. And tell her to get back to that store and pay for the merchandise. Any questions?”

The officer glanced back at me with a resigned expression. “No, sir. Thank you, sir.”

“Right. Now, get the license number and a description of the car from her so I can put out an updated APB on the guy.”

“Yes, sir.” He turned to me, and I told him what I knew about the car while he wrote it down slowly in his notebook.

After they signed off, I heaved a sigh of relief. The officer let me out of the car, gave me back my gun. He didn’t apologize, but I didn’t think he needed to. He had been doing his job. And he’d done it by the book. Glad that no one had come along the lonely road while all this was happening, I climbed back into the Taurus debating driving down a ways to see if I could spot the Chevy Nova.

Deciding it was probably futile, I made a U-turn and headed back to Springton, passing the officer sitting in his patrol car, writing in his notebook, his colored lights still flashing.

*****

A Broken Life is available in both Kindle edition from Amazon and in paperback from most other on-line bookstores. You should also be able to order it through your local bookstore.

FIFTY SHADES OF GRAMMAR CHART FOR A CERTAIN BOOK

Grammarly is at it again, this time with a neat graph about the controversial grammar in Fifty Shades of Grey. Here’s the graph:

Fifty Shades of Grammar

For more details and commentary about the graph, go here:

Fascinating stuff. Except, it doesn’t address the overuse of the same words I’ve seen pointed out in reviews. I admit, I only read part of the first chapter before giving up–you know just where the story is going, after all. But it’s fascinating to know that what reviewers are pointing out as errors are accepted in other work, or at least overlooked. You have to admit, Grammarly did a greatjob with this.

CONTEST TO WIN MY UPCOMING SUSPENSE NOVEL

Today I need your help. My next book is almost ready to be published. I have written three descriptions and have to choose one for the back cover and to put up everywhere it’s needed. Because this novel, BLACKOUT, has two main characters and switches between their points of view, I wrote one from each viewpoint, and one that includes both.

COVER BY DEREK MURPHY

Please pick the one you like best and “vote” in the comments section of this blog. Cutoff is midnight Wednesday of next week. I will have a drawing for the winner, who will receive a copy of BLACKOUT as soon as it’s published. The winner can choose between a Kindle edition, a PDF file, or a trade paperback, signed copy. Check my blog next Friday to see if you’re the winner and get in touch with me privately about what version you would like and where to deliver it to.

Now for the descriptions:

1. Two VPs:

Who is Alice Strong? Even Alice doesn’t know the answer to that question. Her life seems to have begun as she walked along a dark, lonely road. She got lucky when a nice young man picked her up and delivered her to the home of a woman in Valleyview, California, who takes in lost souls. Alice knew enough to claim she’s eighteen, but for reasons unclear even to her, she won’t admit to anyone that she’s lost her memory.

Betty Cranston, director of nurses, reluctantly hires Alice to work at Merry Hills Nursing Center, only because she needs aides desperately. She’s surprised at how agitated Alice becomes when she finds a dead patient. After all, people die in nursing homes on a regular basis. But Betty doesn’t like the way the resident is posed with her hands folded on her chest, as if laid out for her funeral. When two more are discovered in the same manner, Betty is convinced someone is murdering her patients. She hates the fact she’s begun to suspect certain people, including Alice Strong. With her own mother a resident, Betty’s worries increase and a desperate measure is taken to catch the killer in action.

Bit by bit, Alice remembers pieces of her life before her blackout. As she does, the murderer makes a surprising move that puts Alice and Betty’s mother in jeopardy.  When the final memories tear into her, feelings of helplessness and sorrow become overwhelming. Will Alice have the fortitude to save both Betty’s mother and her own life?

 2.  Betty’s VP

Betty Cranston, director of nurses at Merry Hills Nursing Center, is happy with her job. She does her best to make sure the residents, including her mother, are happy and well cared for. Everything’s going great until, one after another, residents turn up dead, all posed as if laid out for a funeral.

Everyone is a suspect.  It could be the husband of one of the victims, the new girl, Alice, who’s suffering from amnesia, or one of the nurses turned “angel of mercy?” Betty’s unsure of what action to take–the police don’t believe there’s a threat and the nursing home wants to keep things quiet. Terrified for her mother and her own safety, Betty only knows she’s got to get to the bottom of this horror before somebody else dies, maybe even her own mother.

3. Alice’s VP

Who is Alice Strong? Even Alice doesn’t know the answer to that question. Her life seems to have begun as she walked along a dark, lonely road. She got lucky when a nice young man picked her up and delivered her to the home of a woman in Valleyview, California, who takes in lost souls. Alice knows enough to claim she’s eighteen, but for reasons unknown even to her, she won’t admit to anyone that she’s lost her memory. Reluctantly, she accepts a job at the local nursing home, and on the second day, discovers a dead woman. She knows she over-reacts, but can’t help herself. When yet another woman dies soon after, Alice becomes aware that the Director of Nurses, Betty Cranston, believes they are being murdered and that she suspects Alice. Alice begins to wonder if she might be the killer because she’s already lost her memory once. Could she be murdering patients without remembering?

Bit by bit, Alice puts together pieces of her life before her blackout and comes to understand her past. As she does, the murderer makes a surprising move that puts Alice and Betty’s paralyzed mother in jeopardy.  When the final memories tear into her, feelings of helplessness and sorrow become overwhelming. Will Alice have the fortitude to save both Betty’s mother and herself?

Now, please vote for #1, 2 or 3! Thanks for your help with this.

A SHORT HISTORY OF GETTING MY STUFF PUBLISHED

Organized to Death is my third published novel. My first one was put out by a small press that gave me a contract for three novels. They published Sara’s Search on time and with a cover I loved. When the month of June came around to publish the second novel, though, it didn’t happen. Several months went by. Promises were made to publish it in October. It had a cover (I didn’t love it as much as the first one, though), it had been edited, and the galleys had been proofed. Christmas came and went, and all of January. I found out that several other writers with the same publisher were having the same problems. Royalty checks stopped. The publisher no longer answered phone calls or emails. We all became quite concerned. And unfortunately, as a group, we decided to pull our books and ask for the rights back to those already published. Of course, the publisher’s reputation was ruined, and we all left, sadder but wiser.  Some writers went with other small presses, and several had bad luck with them, as well. I wrote some more novels. I sent them to NY agents. Nothing happened. I was reluctant to try another small publisher. (Another one, WriteWay, had shown interest in another of my books before I placed Sara’s Search , but they went bankrupt before any contracts were signed, so I was leery—authors there, as far as I know, never got their rights back.) By this time I had the one published novel and over fifty short stories as publication credits. Didn’t matter.

Then something unexpected happened. Ebooks, thanks to Amazon, started to become popular. Writers who had no luck with NY publishing decided to strike out on their own and get their books up for ebook readers. This was not too difficult to do. I watched and waited. I saw that some readers were unhappy with the books coming out because they were poorly written, had glaring spelling and grammar mistakes, and were badly formatted. I also noticed that many of the covers did not look very professional, and many were too dark to be able to read the title and/or authors’ names on the tiny thumbnails used on-line. So I decided to hire a professional cover artist, and between us, this is what we came up with:I still like it. Next, the authors I read about who were successful hired professional editors and proofreaders to go over their manuscripts. And finally, if they couldn’t do a good job themselves, they hired yet a third person to format the work for them.

This is what I did with all three of my novels. Sara’s Search, of course, already had a graphic designer, Clint Gage, do the cover (and I got the rights for that, as well) and an editor pointed out everything that needed fixing. For Revelations, I hired Anne Victory to do the editing, and Derek Murphy to do the cover (he also did the cover for Warning Signs, my short story collection). I admit to formatting all three of those books myself (no need for an editor for the short story collection—they’d already been published, so edited). For Organized to Death, I again used Anne and Derek and because there are so many different sized Kindles out there now, decided to use a professional formatter, Jason Anderson who did a great job on both the ebook and print formatting. I will be using all three again, if they’re available, for my next books—hopefully three more next year.

Someday I may change the cover for Sara’s Search because it’s too dark to show up well in a thumbnail. I also want a new paperback version, so that would need to have a back cover.

And that’s it so far. I’m open to questions, and if they’d take  a long-enough answer, that could become another blog post. So, ask away.

 

INTERVIEW

What is the working title of your book?

Organized to Death, not just the working title, but the actual title.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

I wanted to be a professional organizer several years ago, but things happened, and it didn’t pan out. But I have a lot of books about the subject, read lots of stuff on-line, and studied it quite a bit. So, I decided that since there are not a lot of novels out there with professional organizers in them, it would be a great thing for an amateur sleuth, in her 20s, to be. Because she is going to get involved in places that are disorganized, and everyone has something to hide, as Agatha Christi says. Of course, for a mystery series, that hidden something will usually be about a murder. But other surprises and secrets will also be uncovered beneath all the clutter.

What genre does your book fall under?

Mystery, amateur sleuth.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

I have no idea. I do a lot more reading that I do watching movies and TV, so I’m not up on the current stars.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Tina has a new job to do, an old flame to seduce, and a murder to solve.

And here’s the description: Back in her hometown of Newport, RI, Tina Shaw, twenty-nine, is picking up the pieces of her shattered life. She begins her first job as a professional organizer in a house filled with cardboard boxes and clutter, only to discover a dead body in an eerily neat baby nursery. She fears this career move may be a short one until the handsome but spooky new doctor persuades her to reorganize his office left in disarray by the former physician.

Ignoring the doctor’s obvious interest in her, Tina begins seeing her former boyfriend. When he protests against her new profession, she realizes what a control freak he is. Then there’s another old flame who is making her hotter by the minute. As she works through the office clutter, she learns the doctor has a possible motive for the killing. But when someone else is shot, the doctor has a solid alibi–Tina herself. Drawn unwillingly into the case, she searches for answers as her list of suspects multiplies. When the killer begins targeting Tina and her friends, she works harder to learn the murderer’s identity before someone else is found dead.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

It should be out in the next week or so, for Kindles and trade paperback. I’m self-publishing this one and the rest of the series because of the uncertainty and problems with NY publishers publishing ebooks—the when, the how much to charge, and the royalties “offered” to writers. The publishing industry is in disarray with many bookstore closings and NY not reacting quickly enough to the expanding ebook market. All my self-published books have been or will be professionally edited and have a cover designed by a professional artist.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

About six months.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Any popular books about amateur sleuths with unusual professions, or even usual professions such as hairdressers, mystery shoppers, chefs, etc.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

Life! Messy life.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

There’s some humor and quirky characters, including Tina’s Uncle Bob who is deaf and has a golden retriever service dog.

And that’s the end of my interview, but there’s more. Other writers are answering these questions on their blogs. Let’s go see how their answers compare to mine!

On November 24, John Floyd will describe his forthcoming short story collection, Deception, at SleuthSayers: http://www.sleuthsayers.org/2012/11/the-next-big-thing.html

Also check out:

B.K. Stevens at http://www.untreedreads.com/?page_id=999

and

Frank Zafiro at http://www.frankzafiro.com/blog/

for their interviews.