Author K.B. Owen on One of Her Favorite TV Detectives – Columbo

Like most of the other writers I adore today, I first met Kathy “K.B.” Owen on social media back in 2011.  We hit it off… talking about writing and pop culture, particularly Survivor.

Author K.B. Owen
Author K.B. Owen

But Kathy and I share something greater than our minor obsession for the popular “Outwit, Outlast, Outplay” reality television program—we both LOVE mysteries.  I keep an eye on Kathy’s blog because I know I can count on her publishing some fabOoolous posts, featuring some of the literary and television sleuths I grew up reading and watching… like Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys, Perry Mason, and even Scooby Dooby Doo.  She has also introduced me to a few 19th century historical facts, from clothing, to holiday celebrations, to true crime.  I’ve never been one who’s big on the past, but the stories Kathy shares are fascinating!

However, Survivor, mysteries, and 19th century facts aside, Kathy is also a wife and mother, who squeezes in gardening where she can between writing and taking care of her beautiful family.  She’s one of the most genuine and supportive people I have met and I’m lucky to call her a friend.

Since it’s technically Tele-Tuesday here at The Ooo Factor, Kathy is here to talk about one of her favorite TV detectives of all-time (and one of my dad’s) – Columbo.

But Kathy is also here to share a tad about her latest release, Unseemly Pursuits.

Before we jump into Kathy’s TV guest post, check out the blurb for her latest historical mystery:

A deadly secret that won’t stay buried…

UnseemlyPursuitsCover 266x400It is the fall of 1896, and Miss Concordia Wells is hip-deep in the usual tumult of a lady professor’s life: classes, clubs, student pranks, and the unending drama generated by the girls she lives with on campus.  Complicating this normality is the new Lady Principal, whom the students have nicknamed “the Ogre.”  The woman seems bent on making Concordia’s life miserable.

And then there’s the exotic spirit medium, Madame Durand, who has befriended Concordia’s mother and has started a “Spirit Club” on campus.  Madame’s prognostications of doom are at first only mildly irritating – until events take a sobering turn.  An ancient Egyptian amulet donated to the college mysteriously disappears, the donor is found murdered, and his daughter – Concordia’s best friend – confesses to killing him.

Desperate for answers, Concordia unravels a 20-year-old secret, closely guarded by men now dead.  But such secrets can be dangerous for the daughters left behind, including Concordia herself.  Can she make sense of the mystery that has bound together their fates, before it’s too late?

*****

Hi Tiffany, thanks for having me! I’m so glad you asked me to talk about one of my favorite tv detectives:

Columbo

Publicity photo 1973, Margie Korshak Associates. Wikimedia Commons.
Publicity photo 1973, Margie Korshak Associates. Wikimedia Commons.

Some interesting facts about Peter Falk and the Columbo series:

1.  Bing Crosby was first offered the role of Columbo, but he didn’t want to commit to a series.  He joked that it would interfere with his golfing.

2.  In 1968, the first 90-minute pilot (Prescription: Murder) aired, co-starring Gene Barry. The regular tv series ran from 1971 to 1978, and was part of the NBC Mystery Movie anthology, which included McCloud and McMillan and Wife.  Columbo was brought back in 1989 (this time for ABC) for 5 more continuous seasons.  The 13th and final season aired 5 episodes between 1998 and 2003.  It has won multiple Edgars, Emmys, and Golden Globes. There were 69 episodes in all, directed and written by different talent over the years.

3. The first regular episode was directed by a young Steven Spielberg. As Peter Falk later told Spielberg’s biographer:

Let’s face it, we had some good fortune at the beginning. Our debut episode, in 1971, was directed by this young kid named Steven Spielberg. I told the producers, Link and Levinson: “This guy is too good for Columbo” … Steven was shooting me with a long lens from across the street. That wasn’t common twenty years ago. The comfort level it gave me as an actor, besides its great look artistically — well, it told you that this wasn’t any ordinary director.

4.  William Link and Richard Levinson, the show’s creators, did something that was unusual for the time in a mystery series:  instead of a “whodunnit” format, where the progress of the episode moves towards the revelation of the murderer, it was a “how’s-he-gonna-catch-em,” where we see right away, in the opening scene, who did it, why he did it, and how, and then the rest of the episode is the detective hounding, questioning, and drawing the net tighter and tighter around the murderer, until he cannot escape.

5.  One of the cool things about the series is the star-studded guest-murderer cast.  Here are a few of the well-known names:  William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy (they were in separate episodes), Robert Conrad, Johnny Cash, Eddie Albert, Anne Baxter, Dick Van Dyke, Dabney Coleman, Faye Dunaway, Janet Leigh, Ricardo Montalban, Roddy MacDowall.

photo from Wikimedia.org, according to Creative Commons licensing
photo from Wikimedia.org, according to Creative Commons licensing

Columbo’s appeal:

1.  The suit: It looked like it was purchased from a thrift shop, and then perpetually slept in.

2.  The car: It certainly stood out among the Mercedes, BMWs, Cadillacs and Ferraris that typified the wealthy and famous of southern California (which seemed to be the demographic Columbo perpetually found himself working with). Columbo’s car was always breaking down, making a clatter when it did run, and had various parts breaking off.

It took me a while to figure out that it was a Peugeot. According to http://www.columbo-site.freeuk.com, Columbo drove a 1959 Peugeot 403 convertible. And Peugeot only made 504 of that body style in 1959. So when Columbo called his wife’s car “just transportation” – implying that his car is special – he was right!

Columbo’s car, via MSNautos
Columbo’s car, via MSNautos

3.  The “dog”:  Of course Columbo had to have a bassett hound, one of the best sniffer dogs out there.  But it wasn’t your typical bassett hound. “Dog” was a shuffling collection of neuroses and odd behaviors.

4.  The cigar:  It rarely seemed to be lit, did it? Columbo certainly chewed on and spoke around it, though.

5.  The game:  Ah, the wonderful cat-and-mouse interaction that goes on between Columbo and the murder suspect.  The persistence, the squirming, the murderer’s initial coolness and control inevitably giving way to exasperation, rage, and mistake(s) that will prove his undoing.  Masterful!

6.  The humor:  Who doesn’t love those odd little personal side-tracks and idiosyncrasies that peek out when Columbo works a case?  The lethargic “Dog”  (yep, that’s his name, “Dog”) Columbo feeds his ice cream cone to; the never-seen but always-talked-about wife and her personal habits;  the expired driver’s license, which requires Columbo to take another road test with a DMV examiner (hilarious!); the police gun certification that requires him to go back to the shooting range (even though he never carries his gun); his car always breaking down…the list goes on and on.

Oh, there’s just one more thing….

Columbo’s demeanor:  fumbling (does the man ever have a writing implement on his person?), self-effacing, overly-polite, rambling off-topic.  These characteristics make an effective smoke screen (to the murderer…not us, of course) for his sharp mind and keen attention to detail.

Here’s a short clip, just for fun:

Are you familiar with the Columbo series? Do you have a favorite episode or feature from the series? Tiffany and I would love to hear from you!

*****

About K.B.

K.B. Owen taught college English at universities in Connecticut and Washington, DC and holds a doctorate in 19th century British literature.  A long-time mystery lover, she drew upon her teaching experiences to create her amateur sleuth, Professor Concordia Wells.

Unseemly Pursuits is the second book of the series.  The first book, Dangerous and Unseemly, was published in early 2013.

K.B. currently lives in Virginia with her husband and sons, and is busily planning the lady professor’s next adventure.

An Unseemly Giveaway

The Unseemly Swag Kit
The Unseemly Swag Kit

During K.B.’s Unseemly Pursuits book tour, which goes through the first week of March, there’s a giveaway at each blog stop (including here!).  The winner, randomly drawn from the commenters at each stop, will get a free ebook copy of Unseemly Pursuits.  At the end of the tour, she’ll hold another random drawing from among the ebook winners for the final prize: a special Concordia Wells series swag package! It includes customized mug, keychain, JellyBelly mini-tin, and signed paperback copies of the first two mysteries: Dangerous and Unseemly and Unseemly Pursuits. You can read, sip your coffee, and snack on candy in unseemly style. Check the sidebar on the home page of kbowenmysteries.com for the full tour schedule and other info.

But if you can’t wait to win, here’s where to buy Unseemly Pursuits:

Kindle

Paperback

Nook

Smashwords

Kobo

iBooks

*****

Tiffany A. White is the author of the YA mystery Football Sweetheart series available on Kindle and Nook.  She is available for contact via Twitter, Facebook, Google+, or via email at tiffany {at} tiffanyawhite {dot} com.

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Fall’s Must Read New and Recent Releases

Fall is my favorite time of year, especially when the weather actually cools once the sun goes down.  For me, there’s nothing much better than curling up in my comfy chair, throwing a blanket over my legs, lighting a candle, and reading a great book on those cool fall nights.  So today, I’ve decided to share six new releases that are must reads on my bookshelf.  If you’re looking for the next bestseller in the young adult, mystery, suspense, fantasy, and thriller genres, check these out and help support six fabOoolous authors!

*****

Skeleton’s Key by Stacy Green

Cage Foster can’t catch a break. The discovery of a dusty skeleton in the antebellum home he’s caring for is bad enough. But the unearthing of two fresh bodies, buried during his tenure at Ironwood Plantation, may land Cage on Mississippi’s death row. Even worse, the one person certain of his innocence is a pushy Yankee newcomer, a woman who talks too fast and still believes in the romance of the Old South.

A specialist in historical renovation, Dani Evans intends to restore Ironwood to its former glory while she rebuilds her life after the death of her mother. Death, hidden treasure, and falling in love with a murder suspect were not part of the plan. The lure of the infamous Ironwood treasure cache convinces Dani the skeleton is the key to unraveling the legend, and that the treasure itself is the motive for the murders.

Cage is certain an old grudge is setting him up for murder, but the evidence against him is mounting and time is running out. Dani believes she can find the truth before Cage is arrested, but her search for answers will uncover a descent into madness that should have stayed buried.

Skeleton’s Key is now available!

*****

BlackOpal_Ebook for BN

Black Opal by Catie Rhodes

I’m Peri Jean Mace, and I see ghosts. Between the ghosts and my own dumb choices, my life is a puke-inducing screamer of a roller coaster ride.

My latest dumb choice catapults me all the way from East Texas to South Louisiana. So far, it’s been a trip to the bad crap zone. My boyfriend and I got into a fight because he’s a lying jerk. A ghost trashed my car because she wants her murder solved. The boyfriend’s ex-wife—who’s still sniffing around—loves the drama because she’s a…never mind.

I’d love nothing more than to take the next bus back to Texas. But this teenage ghost is my boyfriend’s sister who went missing twenty years ago. Her family needs to know what happened.

Now I’m stuck in this huge house with people I didn’t even know existed twenty-four hours ago. They’re nice enough, but talk about awkward. This family’s secrets could be the basis of a tell-all tabloid soap opera.

Trying to solve this murder might be another one of my dumb choices. There’s more suspects than ants on ice cream. The killer has gotten away with this for twenty years, and it seems like any clues would be long lost.

But every conversation reveals another secret. Little bits and pieces lock together as I close in on a horrifying truth.

How far will a murderer go to protect a secret? My guess is pretty durn far.

Black Opal is now available!

*****

Almost Matched-AOPeart-high

Almost Matched by Angela O. Peart

Twenty-five-year-old Natalie Davenport lugs substantial baggage. One boyfriend after the next has been a total disaster, leaving Natalie distrustful toward the male population in general. So when Colin Hampton crosses her path, she’s cautious. Her heart (and some other body parts!) nudges her to go for it, while her head wants her to run for the hills.

Colin is one of those gorgeous guys who attract women, no matter the age or marital status. With a successful career at a popular Seattle radio station, hard body, and charming personality, he is the complete package. But something dark lurks in the corners of his soul; some murky experience that has changed him—maybe for the better, but maybe for the worse.

Will he steal her heart and stomp over it like other guys did?

Will she let him into her heavily fortified world despite herself?

Or will they settle somewhere in the middle—establishing the emotional boundaries to protect them from falling in love?

Almost Matched will be available this weekend!

*****

Broken Spell Fabio Bueno

Broken Spell by Fabio Bueno

Be careful what you wish for.

Skye wanted to find the Singularity. She got what she sought, but to protect the most powerful witch alive, Skye had to betray her coven. Now she regrets entangling her boyfriend Drake in her hidden world.

Drake yearned for Skye, but now he finds out that getting the girl is just the beginning: keeping the girl is the hard part. When tragedy strikes, Drake faces an impossible choice that could destroy his family and his shot at love.

The vicious Night covens seek retribution at all costs. Wicked Jane has returned, scarred from her last confrontation with Drake and Skye, and holding a baffling secret that may change everything.

Dangerous alliances arise. The Veil is about to be broken.

Falling in love has never been harder.

Broken Spell is now available!

*****

Dreamsnatcher-AngelaWallace-500x750

Dreamsnatcher by Angela Wallace

Lexa has spent the past five years training the princess of Teltania in dreamwalking, but with Taryn’s eighteenth birthday approaching, the girl has increasing royal duties and Lexa is getting ready to retire yet again. This time she’s looking forward to settling down and sailing with Sir Neil Duram—until his ship barely survives a raider attack.

The raiders have been hounding Teltania’s coast and their victims are falling into comas. With Neil’s crew at risk, Lexa sets out to find a cure. But things aren’t what they seem. She discovers that the comatose have been snatched from their dreams and stolen into the dreamscape.

The scattered cases soon become a potential plague, and Lexa has to find the connection between the waking world raiders and the dream snatchers. Is there a third dreamwalker out there, or something much more sinister? Lexa’s desperate search for answers will drive her to the edge in order to save everything she cares about.

Dreamsnatcher is now available!

*****

chainofshadows_final

Chain of Shadows by Steven Montano

****BOOK 6 OF THE BLOOD SKIES SERIES****

The barrier between worlds has been broken, and the invasion is about to begin.

Eric Cross, burdened by the loss of those who’ve died under his command, must lead his recently reunited mercenary team against the shadow wolf sorcerers known as the Maloj. Bound to dire artifact blades and charged with protecting the Kindred, Cross seeks help from the enigmatic White Mother, leader of the Southern Claw.

But sinister forces bring his vessel down in a strange and distant land, and soon Cross and his allies are beset by undead armies vying for control of the deadly region called the Chain of Shadows. Trapped in a desert waste where wielding magic is dangerous and nothing is as it seems, Cross’s team will pay the ultimate price in their battle to finally get home…

Chain of Shadows is now available!

*****

Don’t these books sound fabOoolous!!  I’ve met all of these authors, either in person or online in writing communities, and I can’t wait to read their latest releases.  I hope you do too!

Have you read any of these books?  If so, please share your thoughts…  Do you have any other new releases that you think the rest of us should read or that you can’t wait to crack open?  I’d love to hear from you!

And remember to check out my YA Mystery novel, Football Sweetheart… available on Kindle and Nook!  Reviewers agree that FS is perfect for teens and adults alike and hard to put down!

Summer’s Must Read New and Recent Releases

Summer is here!  And with the hot and humid weather comes one of my favorite pastimes… grabbing a book and heading out to the pool for a little R&R.

So today, I’ve decided to share seven new and recent releases that are must reads on my bookshelf.  If you’re looking for the next bestseller in the young adult, mystery, suspense, fantasy, or thriller genres, check these out and help support six fabOoolous authors!

*****

city_of_scars

It’s been three decades since the Blood Queen led her legions on a brutal campaign of conquest and destruction, and the Empires are still struggling to rebuild.  Now, in the distant aftermath of the war, the real battle is about to begin.

Haunted by the crimes of his past, fallen knight Azander Dane ekes out a mercenary existence as he drifts from one city to the next.  His latest job is to hunt down Ijanna Taivorkan, a powerful outlaw witch desperate to escape her destiny.

Dane and Ijanna find themselves in Ebonmark, the City of Scars, where deadly crime guilds and shadowy agents of the White Dragon Empire prepare for a brutal confrontation.  Pursued by apocalypse cults, mad alchemists, exiled giants and werewolf gangs, Dane and Ijanna soon learn a deadly lesson – in Ebonmark, only the cruelest and most cunning can survive.

City of Scars is the first volume of The Skullborn Trilogy, an all new epic fantasy adventure from the author of Blood Skies.

*****

Three years after a fanatical cult attempted to murder everyone important to him, Connor Maitland is still attempting to put his life back together. Accompanied by his business partner Alison and their new recruit, he is making a living as a jack-of-all-trades running a security company, sailing charters, and even photographing weddings; whatever it takes to get by.  Connor’s world was finally coming back together until the cult resurfaced in an effort to finish what they started.

After a violent attack, Connor finally has a lead on the founders of the cult and their motivations. The investigation is hindered when they are forced into taking a case to protect a family from a disturbing neighbor. As reports of residents disappearing begin to surface, Connor is caught between his desire to learn the truth about the cult and the need to save the family.

Connor is learning that sometimes high school memories do more than haunt you…

*****

FbM_Final cover

Prequel 1 to the Forged Series, Forged by Magic: Origins is a collection of short stories, featuring the characters from the Forged series. This is the first of two prequels to the series. Each story is told from a different character’s point-of-view.
Find out how the Amulet and the Dasht-e Kavir have been created, and how the powers of the Universe opened the gates to other dimensions, inadvertently releasing unworldly supernatural creatures into the Human World.

AND

cover design: Jeannie Ruesch

Forged by Legacy: Beginnings is the second of two prequels to the series. It is a collection of short stories, each told from a different character’s point-of-view.

These stories explain some of the behind-the-scenes facts from The Forged series. Do you want to know how the protagonists, Jatred and Jasmira fell in love? And what really happened during the deadly plane crash? How about the reason behind Savannah and Logan’s breakup? Or how do the teens shape shift for the first time?

Forged by Legacy: Beginnings answers all these questions—and more.

*****

The Silver SickleThe end of humanity will come through the Silver Sickle . . .

Farissa lives every moment with reckless abandon, for it may be her last. Any day now, the alien goddesses will harvest her and take her to the mysterious Silver Sickle, never to return. She’s accepted that. What she can’t accept is this new idea of freedom Zel has planted in her head. She’d give almost anything to be with Zel, but how can she run from her destiny if it means putting the whole kingdom in danger?

Everyone in the desert kingdom believes the goddesses are immortal, but Zel has invented a way to kill them. Now all he has to do is convince Farissa to run away with him and plant a seed of hope in her heart that she’s not destined to die. Little does he know that one seed of hope could change the course of the future.

*****

FIRELANDS CoverEighty years in the future, America has devolved into a totalitarian theocracy. The ruling Josephites clone the only seeds that grow in the post-apocalyptic climate, allowing their Prophet to control who eats, who starves, and who burns in the ritual fires that atone for society.

Subsisting on the fringes, Archer risks violation and death each day as she scours the forest for game to feed her people. When a Josephite refugee seeks sanctuary in her home, Archer is driven to chance a desperate gamble—a gamble that will bring down the Prophet and deliver seeds and freedom, or end in a fiery death for herself and for everyone she loves.

Seeds are life . . . Seeds are power . . . Seeds are the only hope of a despairing people. What will Archer do for the seeds of freedom, and what will she justify in their name?

*****

Serena knows her late uncle wasn’t crazy. So when she inherits his sprawling Carolina mansion and leaves the big city to restore both his home and his name, she uncovers a mystery that could cost much more than her sanity. As the house slowly reveals its dark secrets, and the extent of her peril becomes evident, she’ll settle for escaping with her life—if it isn’t already too late.

*****

Don’t these books sound fabOoolous!!  I’ve met all of these authors, either in person or online in writing communities, and I can’t wait to read their latest releases.  I hope you do too!

Have you read any of these books?  If so, please share your thoughts…  Do you have any other new releases that you think the rest of us should read or that you can’t wait to crack open?  I’d love to hear from you!

And, remember to check out my YA Mystery novel, Football Sweetheart… now available on Kindle and Nook!  Reviewers agree that FS is perfect for teens and adults alike and keeps everyone guessing until the very end!

FootballSweetheart_Digital

Here are some of the most recent reviews…

five stars“Football Sweetheart is a great mystery read for all ages! I was hooked right away, and had trouble putting it down. It definitely brought back many high school memories. The author does a wonderful job of capturing West Texas’ passion for high school football! Can’t wait for the next book in the series! Loved it!” ~ Carissa

five stars“Great adventure/mystery in the style of Nancy Drew. Written around the background of high school football, clues are all over and there’s several people you think might have done it. The ending is a great emotional wrap up to the story.” ~ Nigel

five stars“I really enjoyed this book and am looking forward to the next books in the series. Being from the West Texas area I could really relate to the characters and felt like each were my friends back in high school. The mystery was very interesting and kept me reading. I brought the book along on a vacation and found myself reading all night to find out the conclusion. Tiffany is an astonishing author from whom I am looking forward to further reads.” ~ Jami

Author Catie Rhodes on Ghosts, Hauntings, and Forever Road

Like most of the other writers I adore today, I first met Catie Rhodes on social media back in 2011.  We pretty much hit it off immediately… talking about writing, TV, mysteries, movies, and more.

Author and Blogger Catie Rhodes
Author and Blogger Catie Rhodes

Some of you may recognize Catie’s name from our Original versus Remake monthly blog series.  She almost always covers the classics, also known as the originals, and she lets me review the newer films—luckily for me, my selections usually include eye candy…  No film is off-limits for our series; but if you leave it up to the two of us, we’ll almost always choose a horror or slasher flick.  Why?  Because that’s what we like.  I’ve only met a handful of people who like gore and psychological thrillers the way I do, and Catie happens to be one of them.

But what really drew me to Catie, besides her personality, was her love of true crime, ghosts, and hauntings.  Her blog, Long Roads and Dark Ends, is one of my favorites out there.  She has introduced me to plenty of haunted Texas spots, and one day I will go on a spooky tour.  Hopefully with Catie…

After a year or so of our chats on Twitter and Facebook, we extended our friendship to email and texts.  I cannot express how much I adore this girl.  We’ve never met in person, despite only living four hours apart, but I know we will.  It’s actually probably a blessing that we don’t live any closer; it’s likely we’d meet for coffee and desserts too much and not get enough writing done.

But before I ramble on, here’s a little bit about Catie in her own words:

Catie Rhodes grew up in the piney woods of East Texas where there wasn’t much to do other than daydream and make up stories. She decided to turn her love of lying into writing fiction after getting fired for telling her boss the President was on the phone. (That’s actually a lie, but it got your attention, didn’t it?)

The truth is, Catie knew from an early age what she wanted to do when she grew up. She just went down a lot of dead end streets on her road to becoming a writer. Her travels and trials taught her life is short, and one has to go for the gusto or get left behind.

Drawing on her East Texas roots, her love of true crime, and her love of the paranormal, she writes the kind of stories she wishes the bookstores sold. Catie relishes being that kid your mother warned you about, the one who cusses and never washes her hands after petting the dog.

She lives in the overcrowded, overly noisy, and overrated Houston, Texas suburbs where all the houses look exactly the same.

Before we jump into the interview, check out Catie’s blurb for her debut ghostly suspense novel, Forever Road

Enjoy!

Seeing Ghosts Is Rough, But Owing A Ghost A Favor Flat Out Sucks.

Forever Road by Catie RhodesMy name’s Peri Jean Mace, and I’ve seen ghosts ever since I can remember. Don’t get too excited. Seeing across the veil branded me as a loony during my growing up years, and I learned to keep my yap shut about it.

Now I’m not sure I can anymore.

See, my cousin up and got herself killed the very same day I promised her a favor.  Now she’s back in spirit form and determined to make me pay. If I don’t solve her murder, she’s going to haunt me forever. Talk about the debt collector from hell.

That’s not my only problem. An obnoxiously hot cop wants to arrest my best friend for the murder.  My bigmouthed archenemy holds a clue to the killer’s identity. And there’s this mean—and ugly—woman who wants to beat me up.

None of this can turn out good.

*****

When you were a little girl, did you dream of one day writing a bestseller, or did you have something else in mind?

The earliest memories I have are of wanting to be a doctor. By the time I was twelve or so, however, I wanted to write a bestseller. I loved making up stories much more than I loved science.

Where do you find the inspiration for your stories?

Life, current events, TV, folklore, ghost stories, true crime…you know, the normal stuff.

Who are a few of your favorite authors?

Stephen King, Larry Brown, Jim Thompson, Charlaine Harris, Kim Harrison, Billie Sue Mosiman, Todd Brown, Joe Lansdale, Robert R. McCammon.

When I was a teenager, I devoured Jackie Collins’s and V.C. Andrews’s novels.

The cover art for your book is amazing.  Did you design it yourself?

Thank you, and no. lol

The illustration on the cover is by Kimberlee Ketterman Edgar of Darkstar Artwork. I had very clear ideas about what I wanted and was lucky enough to work with a professional dedicated to helping me achieve my vision.

Indie Author Services did the lettering on the cover.

Many writers imagine a celebrity or familiar face when developing their characters.  Did you have anyone particular in mind when writing Peri Jean and why?

Peri Jean looks a whole lot like Winona Ryder when she wore her hair in a pixie cut. I’m not sure why I chose Winona Ryder. That’s just who felt right.

Speaking of celebrities, who are you thinking of at this very moment?

Paul Walker, who looks a lot like Dean Turgeau, the male lead in Forever Road.

Paul Walker… serious eye candy

Besides writing, what other hobbies do you enjoy?

Research. I love to find a topic that grabs my interest and learn everything I can about it. This hobby is probably clearly evidenced in my blog posts on true crime and paranormal.

I wouldn’t be myself without asking about television – what are your four favorite television programs airing today? 

Only four?! You’re cruel, girl. Just downright cruel.  In order:

1)      Breaking Bad

2)      The Walking Dead

3)      The Killing

4)      Sons of Anarchy

I think I see a pattern…

What is your favorite movie of all-time?

Another hard one!

Kill Bill Volumes 1 & 2

Okay, I cheated a little since that’s technically two movies. But it’s only one title. Sort of. Fine…I cheated.

Epic Movie…

What snacks do you order when at a movie theater? 

Sweet Tarts and bottled water. Count on me to live large.

You blog about so many interesting haunted and spooky locations.  Which spot was your favorite to visit and did you sense anything out of the ordinary? 

I used to visit New Orleans, Louisiana a lot. One place I found deliciously creepy was St. Louis Cemetery No. 1. Marie Laveau is supposedly interred there. At least, there’s a grave with her name on it.

A photo from my trip to New Orleans in 2008... I've actually been to St. Louis Cemetry #1!!
A photo from my trip to New Orleans in 2008… I’ve actually been to St. Louis Cemetery #1!!  Catie should be so proud…

Though I saw nothing in St. Louis No. 1, the place had a great spooky vibe, and I could smell death. At the time we went, we were advised not to venture into the cemetery alone and couldn’t afford to take the tour again. But I’d love to go back and let my husband (the photographer) take some good pictures.

And while I can't remember if I took a picture of her grave or not, I definitely visited her Voodoo store... And yes, I bought a doll.
And while I can’t remember if I took a picture of her grave or not, I definitely visited her Voodoo store… And yes, I bought a doll.

Being a fellow Texan, any haunted locations I should visit? 

Next time you go out to the Hill Country, go to Longhorn Caverns in Burnet, Texas. Gorgeous place. Many of the structures were built by the Civilian Conservation Corps during The Great Depression. It is also supposedly very haunted. If you feel like it, do a google search on “Longhorn Caverns + Catie Rhodes” and view my ghost picture from our visit.

*****

Isn’t Catie great?

Need more Catie?  I mean, seriously… who doesn’t want to go to a haunted location with her?  I do!  Be sure to catch up with Catie at her website, or follow her via her Pinterest, Goodreads, Twitter and Facebook accounts.

Do you have a question for Catie?  Have you read Forever Road yet?  How about this—do you believe in ghosts?  Have any haunted tales to tell?  We’d love to hear from you! 

Before we go, Forever Road is on sale for 99 cents today and tomorrow (July 5th and 6th).  Be sure to grab a copy if you haven’t already… and check out Catie’s short story, Haste, while you are there.

Haste by Catie RhodesShe just murdered her cheating bastard of a husband and his whore. All that’s left to do is not get caught. Or is it?

A short story about rage and consequences.

Summer Book Crush – 50+ Books, 50+ Authors, All 99 Cents!

Hot sun, hot sand, cool drinks, dark tans. Ahhhh. But your summer won’t be complete until you land a new BOOK BOYFRIEND, right? Lucky for you, we’ve got you covered!

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SUMMER BOOK CRUSH offers 50+ titles in many genres. This means 50+ chances to (fictitiously) fall in love. And the best part? Each of these gems is only 99¢, but for a limited time only. The SUMMER BOOK CRUSH event starts on June 26th and ends (yes, even the best things in life end at some point) on June 28th. So don’t wait up! Mingle with our BOOK BOYFRIENDS and invite all your friends to participate too. There are plenty of BOOK BOYS to share!

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Find your summer’s fling between the pages of a book. And don’t stop on one – after all we have many BOOK BOYFRIENDS for you to mingle with.

Who’s your Football Sweetheart crush?  Is it Bobby?  Scott?  Coach McWilliams?  Or Eric?

* HAPPY READING * HAPPY SUMMER *

To purchase for the Kindle, click here.

To purchase for the Nook, click here.

Who doesn’t love buying a book for under $1?  Be sure to take advantage of the lower price while it lasts!

*****

High School Football can be MURDER

Aimee Freeman is looking forward to the start of her senior year. She knows her best friend Ella has been keeping secrets from her all summer long, but with football season right around the corner, the student trainer decides not to worry about it—they’ll have plenty of time to catch up on the field.

Then Ella goes missing, and Aimee realizes those secrets might be the key to finding her. As the case unfolds, Aimee discovers more than one person may have wanted to harm Ella. Was it Ella’s current boyfriend, a social outcast the entire city seems intent on blaming for her disappearance? Or her ex-boyfriend, the beloved star quarterback who has harassed Ella since their breakup? The list of potential suspects continues to grow after Aimee reads Ella’s journal, but she must first break her best friend’s secret code to reveal their identities.

Unbeknownst to Aimee, her investigation has not gone unnoticed. Ella’s abductor is watching and waiting. Will he decide Aimee needs to be silenced—making her the next target?

*****

And remember, Amazon makes it easy to give as a gift!

Author Nigel Blackwell and His Paris Love Match

Like most of the other writers I adore today, I first met Nigel Blackwell on social media back in 2011… that’s how I usually start off with my author interview introductions.  But not this time!

Author Nigel Blackwell
Author Nigel Blackwell

Nigel is one of the very few writers that I actually met in person before stalking on Twitter or Facebook.  One Saturday morning, sitting on the floor of a nearby community college’s writer’s workshop, I met Nigel.  We shared lunch and talked about our writing journeys—kind of odd for strangers, but his kindness and generosity made me feel right at home.  He shared tips, such as craft books that I needed to read, and helped me understand the importance of loglines.  We were instantly friends.

Soon after, I joined Nigel’s local writing group and he was one of the very first (and few) I bounced plot and story ideas off of while writing Football Sweetheart.  He has since helped me with the logline for FS2, and most recently, helped me with my very first book trailer (to be released soon).  Seriously, his generosity goes on for days and days—he is simply a gem.

Oh, and did I mention he’s British?  I could listen to Nigel talk for hours.  I mean it… hours.

But before I ramble on, here’s a little bit about Nigel in his own words:

Nigel Blackwell was born in rural Oxfordshire in England. He has a love of books, a PhD in Physical Chemistry, and a black belt in pointing out the obvious.

As a teenager he toured Europe and loved seeing the wonders of the world and the people in it. Since then he has been fortunate enough to travel across Europe, North America, the Middle East, and Japan, and hasn’t been anywhere that doesn’t have the potential for a story.

He now lives in Texas with his wife and daughter, where they enjoy the sunshine and listen to the coyotes howl at night.

Before we jump into the interview, check out Nigel’s blurb for his debut suspense novel, Paris Love Match

Enjoy!

Paris Love Match

Getting a taxi in Paris can be hell.
Piers Chapman expected a boring business trip to Paris.
Paris Love MatchWhat he didn’t expect was to fight over a cab with a beautiful girl.
After a bad meeting, Sidney Roux just wanted to hail a cab, go home, and have a glass of wine.
She didn’t expect to fight over a cab with some pompous British tourist.
Neither of them expected another man to jump in their cab.
Or to be involved in a gun fight.
Or a car chase through the streets of Paris.
Or for the man to die.
But they’re thrust together when the mob demands they return what the dead man stole.
Will Piers and Sidney work together?
Will they find what he had stolen?
Will they stay alive?
And will they do the last thing they expected?
Will they fall in love?

*****

When you were a small boy, did you dream of one day writing a bestseller, or did you have something else in mind?

When I was five I wanted to drive a train. My dad worked for Great Western Railways. I thought that was so cool, and at age 15 I did drive a train. Ok, it was at the Cotswold Wild Life Park and it used to come of the tracks regularly, but hey, I was a train driver.

When I grew up, I don’t think English teachers in the UK considered anything younger than 100 years old worth teaching! I read a lot even in my elementary school days. At age 12 we had to read Chaucer. I didn’t understand a word! I much preferred the likes of HG Wells, Ian Fleming, Arthur C Clarke, Asimov, and anything that didn’t require translating! That was when I started writing. I used to go through pens like there was no tomorrow; it drove my parents nuts, but they were very supportive. I never gave the idea of writing serious thought. Science and math were pushed hard at school, and that’s the way I went. I’ve been really happy over the past few years to get back to creating stories.

Witney Green - close to where Nigel grew up (photo courtesy of Nigel Blackwell)
Witney Green – close to where Nigel grew up (photo courtesy of Nigel Blackwell)

Where do you find the inspiration for your stories?

I wish I knew. I think everyone has ideas for stories, it’s whether you can fashion them into something that has a purpose. For me, that always takes work.

Once I’ve got an idea and I’m writing, I find that I dream about my stories. Usually between 3am and 5am I have these vivid dreams, like I’m running about as one of the characters. I keep a pad by my bed and write stuff down. I don’t turn the light on, so sometimes it’s hard to read when I get up!

Who are a few of your favorite authors?

Lee Child, definitely. His style is crisp and sparse, yet eloquent in so few words. He makes a gripping story from a handful of ingredients and a well-paced revelation of character motives.

Other authors are Paul Wilson (the Repairman), Caleb Carr, Michael Crichton (Esp Great Train Robbery which has great style, atmosphere, and attention to detail), Dean Koontz, and … It’s a never-ending list, which is a good thing, right?

The cover art for your book is amazing.  Did you design it yourself?

LOL. No! I’m an engineer. If I had designed it, it would have been 46pt bold courier on a white background. The ISBN number would have been on the front, too. I mean, everyone loves those 13 digit numbers, don’t they?

Actually, the cover was done by Sarah Hansen at Okay Creations using a great picture my publisher, Jillian Dodd, found. The models in the picture were also in a whole series of related shots that suited the theme of the book, and worked out well for things like the book trailer.

Many writers imagine a celebrity or familiar face when developing their characters.  Did you have anyone particular in mind when writing Piers and why?

Not really. I’m actually terrible at recognizing people, so images don’t stick very well.

Speaking of celebrities, who are you thinking of at this very moment?

Angelina Jolie. My mother survived breast cancer twice. My sister fought it for twelve years. I feel very sorry for her, and hope her preventative surgery is successful. As a celebrity figure she gets a lot of attention, but she does help raise awareness for all those people who face cancer without such public support.

The very beautiful and brave Angelina Jolie and her man, Brad Pitt, in Mr. and Mrs. Smith

Besides writing, what other hobbies do you enjoy?

I love skiing and I love being out on the mountain in the cold air. I used to like surfing, but being in the middle of Texas put paid to that pastime! Of course, dog walking seems to have taken over my life recently.

I wouldn’t be myself without asking about television – what are your four favorite television programs airing today? 

Four?! Unfortunately, I don’t have the time to see much TV. Top Gear would certainly make the list. Sad, I know, but how they take seemingly easy things and effortlessly turn them into a major disaster always makes me grin.

What is your favorite movie all-time?

Arrrggghhh. Just one? Now I’m the other way round to the TV question. Probably The Third Man because of the acting, the atmosphere, and the photography. Oh, and there’s Alien, Gregory’s Girl, 2001, Despicable Me (love the minions!), Romancing the Stone, Indiana Jones, anything James Bond, and … what’s that you say? Oh yeah, sorry, but how can anyone stop at just one?

Jack and Joan… love this movie!!

What snacks do you order when at a movie theater? 

Popcorn. With Butter (even though it’s probably some concoction from a chemical plant).

No doubt… I actually try to stay away from the “butter” at the theater.

You’re originally from England… share a bit about your hometown/region and tell us what made you decide to move to The States.

I grew up in a small town in Oxfordshire. There was very little to do there and unlike everywhere else around it, it wasn’t picturesque (and that’s putting it mildly). The rest of Oxfordshire, however, is beautiful. The UK varies dramatically in just 50 miles. From the rolling countryside of the Cotswolds, to the rugged hills and mountains in Wales, to the wonderful coastline around Devon and Cornwall. I miss that variation.

Montage of the UK - photo courtesy of Nigel Blackwell
Montage of the UK (photo courtesy of Nigel Blackwell)

I came to the US with my job. It was only supposed to be for six months, but 15 years later I’m still here and a US citizen. I love the open spaces and sunshine in Texas. Yes, it gets hot, but I can’t help but smile when the sun is shining.

I consider you one of my favorite Brits (and Donna Newton, of course!!)… and if you haven’t already noticed, I love getting lost in translation with British sayings… have any new ones for me? 

Well, thank you!

After the weekend with Donna at the DFW writer’s conference there aren’t many saying left!

There’s “tosh,” which means rubbish (as in that’s tosh); “give it some welly,” means to speed up, or use more muscle to get something done; and to “get shirty” means to get annoyed. Another favorite of mine is to be “at her majesty’s pleasure,” which means you’re in prison (they’re called Her Majesty’s Prisons). And if you know all those I’d say, “well stone the crows,” which means I’m amazed (though in your case I wouldn’t be!).

Nigel, I get shirty way too often.  LOL.  Thanks for the new phrase!

Lastly, you recently adopted a beautiful dog… tell us a little bit about her and how you instantly fell in love. 

Ha ha! I didn’t instantly fall in love. An Alsatian attacked me when I was young, and I haven’t wanted to be near a dog since. But my daughter’s wanted a dog or cat for a long time, and some friends of ours were moving into a smaller place and couldn’t take her. When I went round to see her I was hyperventilating, but she’s really well-behaved and it’s worked out well for both of us. She’s a cutie, loves to walk and is unbelievably obedient. Though she does consider a large portion of the kitchen floor an extension of her sleeping area.

Sideni - photo courtesy of Nigel Blackwell
Sideni (photo courtesy of Nigel Blackwell)

*****

Isn’t Nigel great?

Need more Nigel?  I mean, c’mon… we all need more Nigel in our lives… catch up with him at his website, or follow him via his Twitter and Facebook accounts.

Do you have a question for Nigel?  Have you read Paris Love Match yet?  Have any fun (and clean) British sayings you’d like to share with us that might get lost in translation over here in the states?  We’d love to hear from you! 

Be sure and stop by Goodreads for a chance to win a copy of Paris Love Match!

Spring’s Must Read New and Recent Releases

Spring is here!  Heck, summer is almost here in Texas already!  And with the warm weather comes one of my favorite pastimes… grabbing a book and heading out to the pool for a little R&R.

So today, I’ve decided to share six new and recent releases that are must reads on my bookshelf.  If you’re looking for the next bestseller in the young adult, mystery, suspense, fantasy, thriller, and historical romance genres, check these out and help support six fabOoolous authors!

*****

Forever Road by Catie Rhodes

Seeing ghosts is rough, but owing a ghost a favor flat out sucks.

My name’s Peri Jean Mace, and I’ve seen ghosts ever since I can remember. Don’t get too excited. Seeing across the veil branded me as a loony during my growing up years, and I learned to keep my yap shut about it.

Now I’m not sure I can anymore.

See, my cousin up and got herself killed the very same day I promised her a favor.  Now she’s back in spirit form and determined to make me pay. If I don’t solve her murder, she’s going to haunt me forever. Talk about the debt collector from hell.

That’s not my only problem. An obnoxiously hot cop wants to arrest my best friend for the murder.  My bigmouthed archenemy holds a clue to the killer’s identity. And there’s this mean—and ugly—woman who wants to beat me up.

None of this can turn out good.

*****

Two weeks before junior year, Darcy hops a plane to Orlando for a little R&R with her best friend Dylan and his family. Fresh off the heels of solving three murders in Valley, you’d think she’d sit back and enjoy the vacation capital of the world…maybe if you’re a noun. Darcy Walker, however, is nothing but verb.

Before her feet hit the Orlando soil, she’s meddling in the disappearance of a five-year-old boy who vanished six months earlier.

With authorities still no closer to solving the case, Darcy is shanghaied by her impulsivity and runs headlong into that proverbial burning building, convinced she can bring him home.

She travels down a road that not only follows this missing child but branches off into the corrupt and sinister world of mob activity when she tampers in a case on which Dylan’s detective grandfather is working.

After a near disastrous midnight meeting in a warehouse and a date with a mechanical bull, Darcy realizes she might’ve bitten off more than she can chew. Add the boiling flirtationship with her best friend and the appearance of his romantic rival, and she is in over her head.

Will she survive a life of flirting with death too easily? Or will her flirtationship with Dylan become the actual death of her instead?

For a girl with a habit of finding dead bodies, No Brainer gives Darcy Walker more of the same…surprising twists and turns…and running for her life.

*****

Getting pregnant as a teenager and being coerced into giving her baby up for adoption left a festering scar on Jaymee Ballard’s life. Trapped by poverty and without many allies, Jaymee nearly gives up hope of getting her daughter back after her best friend is murdered. Now, four years later, a wealthy woman with legal connections hires her as a housekeeper, and Jaymee gathers the courage to seek her help. But Jaymee’s last chance ends up in a puddle of blood in one of the historic antebellum mansions in Roselea, Mississippi.

I just murdered your wife…again.

An unsigned letter consisting of six horrifying words turns Nick Samuels stagnant life upside down. Stuck in emotional purgatory since his wife’s unsolved murder four years ago, Nick is about to self-destruct. The arrival of the letter claiming credit for his wife’s murder and boasting of a new kill sends Nick to Roselea, where his and Jaymee’s worlds collide.

Jaymee and Nick realize exposing the truth about her daughter’s adoption is the only way to solve the murders. Up against years of deception, they rush to identify the killer before the evidence–and Jaymee’s daughter–are lost.

But the truth doesn’t always set the guilt-ridden free. Sometimes, it destroys them.

*****

When her kingdom’s former enemy suspects their princess is a budding dreamwalker, Lexa is drafted out of retirement and sent to Teltania to train the twelve-year-old girl. But hidden agendas complicate her mission, and Lexa doesn’t know whom to trust. Meanwhile, her own dreamwalking powers are waning when she needs them most. Can Lexa decipher the mysteries at every turn, or will the dreamscape claim yet another dreamwalker?

*****

Paris Love Match a Novel by Nigel Blackwell

Getting a taxi in Paris can be hell.

Piers Chapman expected a boring business trip to Paris.
What he didn’t expect was to fight over a cab with a beautiful girl.

After a bad meeting, Sidney Roux just wanted to hail a cab, go home, and have a glass of wine.
She didn’t expect to fight over a cab with some pompous British tourist.

Neither of them expected another man to jump in their cab.
Or to be involved in a gun fight.
Or a car chase through the streets of Paris.
Or for the man to die.
But they’re thrust together when the mob demands they return what the dead man stole.

Will Piers and Sidney work together?
Will they find what he had stolen?
Will they stay alive?
And will they do the last thing they expected?
Will they fall in love?

*****

Gold. Massacres. Soldiers. Indians. Can Charlotte survive life on the trail or will the wildness of the west tear her family apart?

With Sanderson’s job as an Indian Agent beckoning from California, Charlotte must leave behind her life in Arkansas to follow the man she loves, and whose child she is carrying, in search of a place they can call home.

From Quanah Parker to Wyatt Earp, Charlotte and Sanderson rub shoulders with some of the American West’s most notable characters as they stumble into Government conspiracies, endure a hard pregnancy, and survive nature’s fury — all while struggling to remember what truly makes a home is love.

*****

Don’t these books sound fabOoolous!!  I’ve met all of these authors, either in person or online in writing communities, and I can’t wait to read their latest releases.  I hope you do too!

Have you read any of these books?  If so, please share your thoughts…  Do you have any other new releases that you think the rest of us should read or that you can’t wait to crack open?  I’d love to hear from you!

And, remember to check out my YA Mystery novel, Football Sweetheart… now available on Kindle and Nook!  Reviewers agree that FS is perfect for teens and adults alike and keeps everyone guessing until the very end!

FootballSweetheart_Digital

Here are some of the most recent reviews…

five stars

“This was a great YA book. There was mystery, murder, chaos and football. This book kept me in guessing mode throughout the whole book down to the very end. I definitely recommend this to everyone. I can’t wait for the second book.” ~Jlaselle

five stars

“I must admit, I am not much of a reader. However, when I heard about Football Sweetheart, I had to check it out. As soon as I began reading, my phone was glued to my hand during any free time. The story grabbed my attention from the start and I looked forward to having a break so I could get back to it. It was entertaining and very easy to read. It brought back a lot of high school memories for me and I thoroughly enjoyed every bit. I can’t wait for the next book to come out.” ~MJ22

four stars

“Such a great book! I can’t wait for more from this series. Just when I thought I had part of it figured out something would happen and I’d be back to square one.” ~Baferg

four stars

“Tiffany White’s novel is snapshot of the religion of West Texas football. She blends her unique perspective as a football trainer with murder, mystery, and suspense. Laced with female teen culture, this novel will appeal to those who enjoyed the Nancy Drew mysteries.” ~S. Mullins