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Blog: Michele Scott
Welcome to my blog. I hope you will come back frequently and check out what is new. I’ll be covering a wide range of topics from the world of writing and things going on in my world as well as hosting guest bloggers and some other fun things.
As an author of both mystery and thrillers I do quite a bit of research into the criminal mind. It’s not exactly pleasant, but it is fascinating. I have been intrigued for years as to what causes someone to become a killer. Are they born evil? Does their environment dictate who and what they become? Is it a bit of both? I’d love to know your thoughts on this topic.
I decided to go straight to an excellent source to get his opinion. R.J. Parker has written seven books on the topic of serial killers. I am currently reading his book WOMEN WHO KILL http://tiny.cc/l75ac, and it is truly intriguing. This is a copy of an interview he did with William Cook. I hope you find it as interesting as I do. RJ also gives some great insight into self-publishing. To check out all of RJ Parker’s books, visit his blog at http://authorrjparker.blogspot.com/2012/01/unsolved-serial-killings.html.
Write a comment on this blog and be entered to win a Kindle Copy of your choice of one of RJ Parker’s books!
· How did you get into writing about True Crime?
I have been an avid reader for over 30 years and really enjoyed fictional stories that included serial murders. I also read all of John Douglas books, who is my FBI hero, and he coined much of the terminology used today when talking about serial killers. I don’t have much of an imagination so I never attempted fiction, and I wanted to write after reading thousands of books, so I decided to write on what I know best, serial killers.
· What draws you to a certain subject? That is, what are the essential things that you look for in determining what will make a good/valid True Crime story or book?
There have been many serial killers in our history, it’s not hard to pick certain individuals, there’s an endless list. In my first book, Unsolved Serial Killings, I focused on the ones that got away which really intrigued me. SK’s then could literally get away with murder because law enforcement lacked technical skills, not like today with DNA and Behavioral Science, Profiling etc. I also picked the topic of women because they are the least likely to become a serial killer, however, there have been many. People want to read about serial killers who killed many. They are not interested in the ones who only have 3 kills..they like 30 better. It makes for a better read, which is sad, but true. People are fascinated with true crime in numbers.
· As a True Crime author you deal with a lot of disturbing subject matter in your work, has this impacted on your own life in any way? If so, how do you distance yourself from the more negative aspects of life as a True Crime author?
When I was writing No Killing in the Hallways, I was an emotional wreck. Being a parent of two teenage girls in school, and to research and write about what happened at V. Tech and Columbine, was draining. My daughters haven’t read the book and I don’t want them to. My most memorable time was writing about Dahmer. The following is an excerpt from Case Closed: Serial Killers Captured and it broke my heart to write it:
“In the wee hours of May 27th, 1991, Konerak Sinthasomphone, fourteen, was discovered wandering naked on the street, heavily drugged and bleeding from his rectum. Two young women from the neighborhood found the confused young boy and called 911. Dahmer chased after the boy to take him back to his apartment, but the women stopped him. When the police arrived, Dahmer told them that Sinthasomphone was his nineteen-year-old boyfriend, and they’d had an argument while drinking. The two women were not pleased and protested, but the two police officers turned the boy over to Dahmer. The police later reported a strange smell inside Dahmer’s apartment, but did not investigate it. The smell was the body of Tony Hughes, Dahmer’s previous victim, decomposing in the bedroom. The two policemen did not try to verify the boy’s age and also failed to run the background check that would have revealed Dahmer as a convicted child molester, registered sex offender, and still on probation. Later that night, Dahmer killed and dismembered the young lad, keeping his skull as a souvenir. Author Note: Officers Joseph P. Gabrish and John A. Balcerzak were fired after this incident but appealed and were re-instated.”
· How do you choose your subject/s when it seems as though there are so many accounts of the same crimes available, especially the more notorious cases involving Serial Killers and high profile crimes? That is, how do you make your books stand out from the rest?
Many books are written about ‘a’ serial killer, but mine are compilations of serial killers or spree killers. If someone wants to read all about Bundy, they will buy a Bundy book. If they want to read about 15 or 20 summary files of various serial killers, I have good choices for them; Women, Unsolved, Children, Doctors etc., then if a person finds one or two that they would like to read more about, there’s books out there on individual cases.
· Do you plan to, or have you ever, interviewed any of the more infamous/bizarre criminals in your books? In terms of reliable source material, is it best as a True Crime author to stick to validated accounts like court transcripts and previously published materials?
I would love to interview a serial killer some day but I haven’t yet. The dregs of society I wrote about so far I think are all dead: either killed in prison, death sentence or old age. As for spree killers, they most always kill themselves. It is better to stick with Court documents, FBI archives etc., that are released under the Freedom of Information Act, unless, one gets the rare opportunity to interview a killer such as John Douglas has. He really wrote the book on SK’s and have interviewed and gotten into the minds of dozens of them.
· Where do you gather your source material from and what is the process you use when researching your subject before drafting your work?
I’ve contacted the FBI and have been given quite a bit of information, as well from their archives. Some things get blacked out however. The FBI policy on extracting information is that you have to rephrase or edit every paragraph, or, every 40 words. If the perp is captured and sentenced, than court documents is a great source and very explicit. If someone is interested in writing, those are two avenues plus, contacting the local police station that investigated the crime and if the case is closed, they will give you a summary of the crime but not crime scene pictures unfortunately.
· What are some of the issues involved with writing True Crime accounts? For example, are there copyright requirements involved in quoting news/source materials and using images etc?
If you obtain information from the FOIA FBI archives, you don’t have to source it. If you obtain bits and pieces from a newspaper article for instance, you have to source it. As for images, I only use images that are public domain. When you click on an image, it will state whether it’s copyright protected. If not, it’s public domain and free for the using.
· Do you ever worry that the people/criminals you write about revel in their notoriety and the infamy generated by media interest?
At this point, no, because anyone I’ve written about so far is already dead. Unless it’s an unsolved serial killer which I would have no idea how they feel about their notoriety. Most serial killers do like their moment in the media and enjoyed being coined a name, such as the Green River Killer or the BTK.
· I notice in most of your books, you always acknowledge the victims of the crimes you analyse. Most, if not all, of the crimes dealt with in your various case studies are crimes against others, ie. they all leave a trail of victims behind. How do you deal with the victimology of these cases? It must be hard to represent the victims in these cases while being impartial when outlining the crimes themselves, how do you find the ‘middle ground,’ so to speak?
Good question. I grew up in a Christian home, and I feel for each and every one of those victims. Yes I write about the killers and the killings because it’s a fact, I wish it wasn’t, but it did happen. However, they will not get the glory from me. At the end of each case file, I list the victim, their age, and sometimes a little info about them with a prayer for their souls.
· Have you ever had any mentoring or formal training as a True Crime author? There seems to be a certain type of instinct, or investigative style, needed to be effective as a writer in this genre – can anyone be a True Crime author?
Sure I guess anyone can be a writer, but it takes a different person to write about true crime. Not a harder person without feelings, because that’s not the case with us TC writers. But to be able to separate emotionally from the criminals and the victims. It’s tough. There isn’t any training for a TC writer really. If you have good organizational skills and can put your own spin on things, you can do it. I have two professional designations in management so I’m very organized. I guess those skills helped me in writing these books.
· Who do you look up to or admire as a True Crime author? Can you recommend any other authors/specialists in your field, and any other books, that stand out to you as exemplars of the genre?
First and foremost, John Douglas is my favorite. Since I was a young boy, I always wanted to be an FBI Agent from watching the show at the time, The FBI starring Efrem Zimbalist, Jr. (who is 93 years young). I found out in my early teens that I couldn’t be with the FBI because I was Canadian…what a disappointment, I still remember it. Getting back to John Douglas, I really enjoyed his books: Mind Hunters, Inside the Mind of BTK, Obsession, and The Cases that Haunt Us. He has other books, but those were my favorite and inspiration to write. Other great authors are: Gary King, Brian King, Ann Rule and Jack Olsen, just to name a few.
· What are you working on currently and do you have any upcoming projects you can tell us about?
I am working on a couple new books. One is about cops who turned serial killer and the other is Children who killed their parents. I am also going to write volume 2 of Unsolved Serial Killings but more international stories.
· Finally, what advice would you give for anyone thinking of writing True Crime and publishing in today’s market place? Is self-publishing the way to go, what would you recommend?
I wrote my books over many years and had no intentions of self-publishing. I was holding out for a publisher and the book was going to be about 500 pages, called, Playpen to Prison. However, a friend and famous NY best selling author of over 80+ books convinced me to self publish in November. I tell you, it’s been a learning curve because I no sooner had the books up on other markets, when I retracted them all after Amazon announced the Select Program. It’s been interesting and I have mixed views on this program. Self-publishing is definitely the way to go. Why spread the royalties around with agents and publishers? Like newspapers being replaced with the internet, paperbacks and hardcopies are being replaced by digital format and it only just begun, so I say, if you have a book to publish, get it edited and hop on the E-Book train. I also suggest not to put all your eggs in one basket. There are many venues out there and if you want more exposure, spread the book around. Currently, only people who own a kindle can buy my books which as I said earlier, is a learning experience.
Los Angeles, CA (PRWEB) February 08, 2012
Author A.K. Alexander has followed in the footsteps of several well-known self-published authors by breaking into the top tier of the Amazon Kindle bestseller list in the United States. Alexander previously topped the bestseller list in the United Kingdom, becoming one of the first self-published American authors to achieve that status.
A.K. Alexander has parlayed her success in the self-publishing industry on both continents by entering into an agreement with Los Angeles based publishing firm ZOVA Books for the film/television and foreign rights to her catalog of novels. ZOVA Books’ film/television and foreign rights are managed by Hollywood management and production company Circle of Confusion, executive producers of the acclaimed series “Mad Men” and “The Walking Dead.” Foreign rights are represented by Whitney Lee of The Fielding Agency in Beverly Hills, California.
Thriller “Daddy’s Home” is #4 on the bestseller list on Amazon behind the eBook for Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games trilogy (which is enjoying an extended run at the top of the charts in support of the release of the Hunger Games movie).
“Daddy’s Home” follows Crime Scene Investigator Holly Jennings as she tracks down a serial killer known as the “Family Man,” who preys upon single mothers and their innocent children.
“Like several successful self-published authors before her, A.K. Alexander has worked tirelessly writing, publishing, and marketing her books. It is an honor to be able to utilize our resources to extend her audience around the world and into different mediums,” said Matthew Pizzo, CEO of ZOVA Books.
For interviews with A.K. Alexander and media inquiries, please contact Matthew Pizzo atZOVA Books.
About ZOVA Books:
ZOVA Books is a publishing firm located in Los Angeles, California that publishes genre fiction titles, including works by New York Times #1 bestselling authors Michael Blake (“Dances With Wolves,” “The Holy Road,” “Into The Stars”) and Anna Lee Waldo (“Sacajawea,” “Watch the Face of the Sky”), as well as debut YA author Jessica Therrien (“Oppression”), Kirkus Star recipient Clive London (“Prince Albert and the Doomsday Device”) and upcoming works by Hollywood screenwriters Adam Kline and Brad Keene. ZOVA Books’ film, television and foreign rights are managed by Hollywood production and management company Circle of Confusion.
Just as I posted a first chapter of the next Nikki book, I thought I would go ahead and put the first chapter of the next Michaela book up. Readers write me weekly asking when there will be new books in both of these series. I assure those readers that they are coming! For anyone who does not know, I did switch my Michaela books from writing them under my name to my pen name A.K. Alexander. I did that so I would have some room to make them a bit more thrillerish. In this next book Michaela is going to try her hand at 3-day eventing with a new horse. As usual there will be murder and heart ache, and maybe a few laughs caused by a pregnant Camden! No more tequila for that lady! (I write lady laughingly, if you know the character, then you know what I mean).
Hope you enjoy this first chapter, and if you have not read the series, the print books are still available with my name, or get them for your kindle as an A.K. Alexander book. If any of that is confusing, e-mail me and tell me I’m a nut. We all know that anyway!
Have a happy Sunday.
Michaela Bancroft had to be crazy. What in the world had she been thinking? Who in the heck decides to get married during the holidays? Whose idea had that been? Oh yeah, hers and Ethan’s. What was their thinking? Wouldn’t it be great to get married on New Year’s after all they’d been through? Right? It was starting over. Starting fresh. She smacked herself in the head. Yes, brilliant. She set the box of Christmas ornaments aside, hearing Josh’s whimper through the baby speaker. “I’m coming, baby,” she said out loud.
Her best friend Camden was to blame for this Holiday wedding idea. If she hadn’t insisted on that margarita bar for her wedding out in paradise and if Michaela hadn’t caught the bouquet—although she was damn glad she’d caught it, and even happier to see the grin on Ethan’s face when she turned to look at him. Then the slow dancing and the kissing, and back in their suite at the resort, a New Year’s wedding in that moment sounded perfect. Now what sounded good was a good old fashioned Vegas wedding. Hmm…couldn’t do that. Ethan had already been there and done that with the mother of his son. But Summer had decided not too long after having Josh that marriage and motherhood was not her forte and ran off with some other guy. Michaela had tried to save her childhood friend Ethan—the same childhood friend she’d been secretly, madly in love with since she was a girl—she’d tried to convince him that Summer was bad news and always would be. But although, it was kind of obvious to those in the know that Ethan didn’t exactly love Summer, he was a good man, a man of his word and he made good on it by marrying the witch, after she’d told him she was pregnant
And, the witch lived up to her reputation and boy was Michaela glad she had. So, in reality, when she thought about it, A New Year’s wedding was a grand idea and all the holiday trappings would go along smoothly. They just would. Sure.
Michaela picked up Josh and cuddled the eighteen month old tyke who now called her Mama, and by every standard besides the biological one, Michaela had become his mother. Life was good.
“I’m here,” Camden’s voice rang out from below. “Where’s my God son?”
Michaela carried a sleepy, dark haired, big blue eyed boy down stairs to see Camden.
Camden’s latest hair color was bleached blonde and frequently worn pulled straight back. She’d also taken to wearing Wrangler jeans, cowboy boots and a silver belt buckle. Being married to Michaela’s right hand man at her ranch Dwayne had turned high fashioned, high falootin’ Camden into a regular old cowgirl. She even rode on a regular basis—something Michaela never expected to see.
The other funny thing that Michaela never expected from Camden was her adoration for Josh. Yes, Josh was an adorable baby and hard not to love, but Camden was not exactly maternal. Her idea of a home cooked meal was Hamburger Helper, packaged salad and a frozen margarita. But Dwayne had domesticated the divaesque Camden quite a bit. She’d fallen for Josh and she’d started cooking some—albeit, the food wasn’t exactly, hmmm, how to be tactful—gourmet.
Josh appeared to love his Godmother as much as she did him, as he reached out to her while she cooed his name, “Joshy, Joshy boy, come to Auntie Cam.”
They both held out their arms. “I’m feeling a little second fiddle here,” Michaela said.
“Don’t be silly. He knows who his mommy is.” Camden’s eyes locked on Michaela’s. Neither one said what they were both thinking. Michaela was hoping to adopt Josh after Ethan and her were married. She knew Summer didn’t want to be his mother. She’d abandoned Josh. But all the same, when it came to signing away any rights to the little boy, Michaela wondered if she would do it. “He knows exactly who his mommy is.” Camden tickled Josh’s tummy who let out a squeal of delight.
Michaela smiled. “Okay, well I should be home by lunch time. I’m going to run over to Winsor and take a look at that horse Devon Winsor called me about, and then swing by the florist. If I have time after that I was going to try and get some more Christmas shopping done.”
“Oh honey, it’s eight already. You’re going to need more than four hours to do all that.”
Michaela raised an eyebrow. “I thought you knew me better than that. I don’t need four hours to make decisions on whether or not a horse will fit for my program, what color flowers or types I need for my wedding, and as far as Christmas shopping, I have an idea already of what I’m buying everyone. I’ll be in and out in a gif.” She snapped her fingers. “I know if it was you, it’d be a whole ‘nother story.”
Camden shrugged. “What can I say? Auntie Cam likes to shop. Josh doesn’t think it’s a problem. Do you Joshy?”
The baby giggled.
Michaela kissed him on the cheek. “Okay, be back in a bit. Do not let him watch those reality TV shows you like.”
“Oh come on, he likes The Housewives of the OC. But he really likes the L.A. broads. Crazy!” She rounded her index finger in a continual circle by the side of her head.
“No. I mean yes, I am certain they are crazy and so are you. No on the watching of that stuff,” Michaela replied. “PBS or Discovery Kids. I’d prefer no TV time. Play with him.”
“You know I will.”
Michaela headed out and did a quick walk through the breezeway of the barn. Her three-year-old Leo had cast himself the other night in his stall and she’d had to poultice and wrap him to help sweat out the swelling. She knew Dwayne would have already checked him and likely had already rewrapped him when he’d fed that morning, but it was rare for Michaela to leave her home in the mornings without a quick hello and if she was leaving—a goodbye to her horses. Today was Monday, which meant a day off for everyone. The horses, Michaela’s students and herself.
Michaela trained horses with an emphasis on reining but she’d ventured out her comfort zone recently when one of her clients had brought over an appendix filly that she wanted to be trained as a hunter jumper. Michaela had done some jumping throughout the years but explained to the owner that it wasn’t what she was the best at. The owner didn’t care. She’d heard wonderful things about Michaela, going so far as to call her a horse whisperer, which kind of made Michaela cringe. She just did what she did best—train horses using empathy and kindness but setting boundaries where needed. One could never forget that horses were very strong animals–much stronger than Michaela’s one hundred twenty pound frame.
Leo stuck his had out of his stall as he heard his “mom” approaching. “Yes I do have a treat for you.” She rubbed his face and kissed his nose, his hot breath sniffing for the treat. She reached into the front of her jeans pocket and took out the horse treat. He nuzzled the palm of her hand as he sucked up the treat. “You’re not a horse. You’re a piglet. My piggy boy.” She undid the latch on his stall and went inside. The woodsy smell of shavings mixed with earth and horse smelled better to her than any floral type perfume ever could. She bent down and checked Leo’s wraps. As suspected Dwayne had beat her to the job.
Dwayne was probably already back in bed. He also took Mondays off and Camden revealed that his Mondays were about lying in bed and watching reruns of old shows like Gilligan’s Island, Three’s Company, and I Love Lucy. She said that he laughed all day and nothing made her happier than to hear him laugh.
Michaela closed Leo’s stall door behind her and headed on her way. Immediately the young horse started banging against his with his hoof–obviously he’d learned to beg. “No more. Knock it off,” she scolded him. His ears pricked forward and his eyes widened. She shook a finger at him. “You heard me.”
Michaela then proceeded down the breezeway that held twelve horses giving each one a treat and a kiss on the nose. Some were there in training and some were there for her lesson program. She gave lessons to kids, and also had developed a program for autistic children. She was busy but nothing gave her more joy than to be part of a moment when a kid had a breakthrough because of the horse. Horses happened to be gentle souls who for the most part understood how to help a person, grow, heal and be nurtured.
After her brief visit with the horses, she headed out to Winsor Riding Academy. Winsor was a high school prep academy and riding school close by that educated both local kids and kids who came from all over the country. It was a place for kids whose families had endless amounts of cash. Most of the kids at the school, trained in three day eventing, which Michaela loved to watch but didn’t know if it was an area of riding she would venture into. Especially the cross country jumping. Those riders had some serious cajones. Galloping through their course and jumping over stationary obstacles—usually wooden logs that when a horse hit, the log wasn’t going to go anywhere.
One of the owners at Winsor, Devon Winsor was an acquaintance and had given Michaela a call the other day about an older gelding they had in their stable. Apparently he was also an appendix—half Quarter horse, half Thoroughbred—and although he’d been an excellent 3 day event horse and a good school master, he was at an age where he needed to be taken off the jumps. Devon felt the horse would be a perfect fit for Michaela’s program. Michaela liked the idea of adding a gentle soul to the barn, one who could teach the beginners and also be great for her handicapped kids. This horse did sound like a good fit, but to now for sure, Michaela wanted to get over to Winsor Farms a little bit earlier than Devon and her agreed upon. She didn’t know Devon well enough to know how honest of a horse woman the lady was, and before she plunked down a few thousand dollars on a lesson horse she wanted to take a peek at him herself. Devon had told her that the horse was stabled in barn three, and that his name was Silverado. Michaela knew that the horses had name tags on their stall doors, so she figured it wouldn’t be a problem locating the horse.
Driving along the long driveway that led up to the academy, she noticed how empty the place was. Most of the kids had gone home for the holiday break. There were probably a few of the local kids that boarded their horses at the academy around, but Michaela didn’t really see anyone. Well it was a Monday before nine o’ clock.
Michaela smiled as she pulled up in front of the barns. Dr. Grace Morgan’s truck was out front. A friendly face. Dr. Grace was Ethan’s partner. He’d bought into her practice recently when he’d decided to make a move from his old partnership. Ethan had felt his former partner wasn’t willing to learn new techniques. He was grounded in an old way of thinking and veterinary medicine was changing all the time. The guy’s bedside manner was not pleasant as Ethan had heard from clients. That was enough for him to buy the guy out and find a new partner. So, when Dr. Grace wound up going through a divorce and somehow cutting her ex-husband who was also a vet out of the practice, Ethan thought it was a good opportunity.
Michaela agreed. Grace was well respected and well renowned in Indio and even in other parts of California and the nation. Grace was a cutting edge vet who did a lot of lab work and looked deeper than most for mysterious causes that ailed horses. She cared deeply for the animals and it showed.
Maybe if Michaela liked Silverado and since Grace was obviously already there, she could vet the horse for her. She called out Grace’s name as she entered barn three. No answer, so she hollered out into each one of the barns. She still didn’t get a response from anyone. Maybe Grace was up at the main house with Devon, but it was a long way to walk. Michaela checked her watch and realized she only had a few minutes to take a look by herself at Silverado.
She found the grey gelding down the aisle of barn three. He stuck his nose out to greet her. “Oh you are a cute guy, aren’t you?”
The horse in the stall opposite of Silverado kept banging against the door just as Leo had done earlier that morning for treats. “Ah, another begger,” she said, turning around to see what she figured to be a Dutch Warmblood. He was huge. At least seventeen hands, and had a wild look in his eye, as the whites showed through. He snorted and weaved back and forth.
Michaela turned back to the grey gelding. “Looks like your friend has some emotional issues to work through. But you, on the other hand look very sweet.” She liked his soft, kind eye. Devon told her that he was eighteen, but there was no sway to his back. He had great muscle tone and a very pretty face. She’d have to ride him to see how his disposition was with her on him. But so far so good.
The wild guy across the way though—he was something else as he became more animated with her standing there talking to the other horse. She finally took a step toward the large animal and spoke in calm tones. “Hey, hey there.” She squinted to read his name plate. Geronimo. Should’ve known. “Hey Geronimo. It’s okay. It’s alright, bud.”
The horse blew out another snort and held his head high and out of reach as she went to try and stroke him on the neck. It was then that she caught a glimpse of what was making him crazy. She took a step closer and the horse backed away. She closed her eyes and shook her head. This could not be. She swallowed hard.
“Oh my God,” she uttered, but she wasn’t even sure that the words came from her. It didn’t sound or feel like her. If Michaela could have guessed who was seeing this horrible scene, who was speaking, who was feeling, she would have prayed that it wasn’t her. But the second time she repeated the words, “Oh my God,” she knew that it was her and she was looking at Dr. Grace on the floor of Geronimo’s stall–dried blood all around her.
I get readers e-mails and I read each one of them. I want to assure my readers who have been sending me e-mails on a regular basis about Nikki and the gang that there is another Wine Lover’s Mystery in the works! The book will be out from ZOVA this summer. I’m going to give you a sneak peek here. This is the very, very rough draft of chapter one. I am not sure we have decided on the cover or title but this is one a friend did for me. I hope you enjoy!
Also, anyone who has not read THE CARTEL and you own a Kindle,there is a free version available for the next 24 hours!
“Guess where we’re going?” Derek Malveaux snuck behind his wife Nikki and wrapped his arms around her and whispered in her ear.
She set down the lettuce she was getting ready to rinse off to fix for dinner and turned around. “Are you taking me to dinner?” She smiled.
“Oh it’s so much better than that. Come on.” He took her hand. “Let’s go sit outside on the patio and I’ll tell you.
“Better than dinner out?” She giggled. “This must be good. Should I get us a bottle of wine?”
“Already on the table outside, and so is your sweater. It’s a little chilly.”
“Hmm, you’ve thought of everything. My interest is picqued.”
They went outside onto the back porch of their ranch style farm house that crested the top of a knoll where below them was a large pond, and beyond that rows of grapevines that had been cultivated for years in order to produce some of the best wines to come out of Napa Valley. Their Rhodesian Ridgeback Ollie followed them out and flopped his large self down at Nikki’s feet. A couple of ducks flew overhead and landed on the pond, a ripple effect spreading out across the water on the cool early December evening. “Ooh it’s cold out here,” Nikki said.
“It is December,” Derek replied with a grin. “And did you know we’re expecting rain next week.”
Nikki made a face. “Good for the vines.”
“It is, but cold Christmas. Brrr.” He ran his hands up and down his arms and then wrapped them around Nikki. “It’s no coincidence I asked you to come outside into the cold and told you about the rain on the way.”
“You’re acting weird.”
He reached into his back pocket and handed her a brochure.
“What’s this?” she asked.
“This is where we’re going for the holidays.”
“What?” Nikki looked at the cover of the brochure and then opened it. “Puerto Vallarta? Oh my gosh! Really?”
He nodded. “Yes. Remember the other night when we had dinner at Costa Azul and we were talking about how delicious the food is and the margaritas and how nice it would be to just get away and sit in the sun somewhere.”
“Yes.” She smiled.
“I took it to heart and got on the phone the next day and started making arrangements.”
“You are the best husband ever.” She wrapped her arms tightly around him and looked up at him. He planted his lips down on hers.
“Yoo hoo. Okay makey out session time is up. It’s time to get all rated G again, people. Little person on the premises. And what in the world are you two doing out here in the freezing cold?”
“Simon,” they said in unision.
“You’re favorite brother at your service, and tiny tot,” Derek’s brother stated.
His two-year-old daughter Violet reached out for Nikki. “Hello baby girl. Come see Aunt Nikki. You are getting so big. Where’s your Poppy?” she asked referring to Simon’s partner Marco. Violet called Simon Daddy and Marco “Poppy.”
“Poppy had to make a trek into the city. He says he had a doctor’s appointment, but he is such a bad liar. He went for Christmas presents. I just know it. Oh what do we have here?” He pointed to the brochure in Nikki’s hand and then grabbed it. “Puerto Vallarta, huh?” He wiggled his eyebrows. “So when we going?”
“We are not going,” Derek said. “We…” he pointed at Nikki and then himself, “Are going on a holiday vacation. Alone.”
Simon’s lower lip sunk into an immediate pout. “Wait a minute. You’re going away for the holidays?” He shook his head. “Uh uh. No I don’t think so. This is the first year that tiny tot even remotely understands who St. Nicholas is.”
“Santa Claus.” Violet laughed and clapped her hands. “Santa, Santa.”
“That’s right, sweetie girl, Santa,” Simon said. “But it looks like Uncle Derek and Auntie Nikki will be doing tequila shooters down south, and missing you getting the goodies out of your stocking.”
“Stocking. Tequila. Santa,” Violet said.
“Hmmm, somehow that doesn’t all work together. Look what you two made her say.”
Nikki looked at Derek imploringly. “Oh no. No. No,” he said. “I know that look. This is about you and me. Going away. Some sunshine. Fun. Fiesta time. Siesta time.”
“I know,” she said.
“You can still have all that,” Simon interrupted.
“It is Christmas, honey, and I don’t know. It just, well, it just wouldn’t really feel like Christmas without family.”
“That’s the point,” Derek said.
“Bah humbug,” Simon said.
Nikki now pouted.
“Oh God. I think I’m being ganged up on,” Derek replied. “Fine. We’ll all go.”
Simon hugged him. “You are so wonderful. Oh piñatas and tacos and what do you think they call Santa in Mexico?”
“Santa Claus,” Nikki said.
“Santa Claus,” Simon repeated with a Mexican accent. “I was going to mooch some dinner off the two of you but I think I’ll order a pizza and go see if I can find my pancho.”
“Pancho?” Derek asked.
“It’s gorgeous. It’s green and red with a little splash of yellow. Very festive.”
“Hmm. I can’t wait to see it.”
“You’ll love it. Tah tah. Call me with the details, Snow White. Say bye-bye to Aunt Nikki and Uncle Derek.”
Violet waved and her little voice said, “Bye bye.”
As Simon walked off the patio, Derek turned to Nikki and mouthed the word, Pancho.
“What did you just commit me to?” he asked.
“I’m sorry, honey. I really love being around family and Violet is so precious. We will have our alone time. We will.”
“This is my brother we’re talking about.”
“I know, but it’ll be great. You’ll see. Promise. Now let’s get out of this cold, start a fire and find a way to celebrate.”
“Any ideas?” he asked.
“A few. Oh and they include a pancho and a little salsa dance.”
I thought I would write a bit about one of my thrillers today and why I wrote the book that I did. MOMMY, MAY I? is a book that either readers seem to love or hate. There aren’t too many who are in between about it. I think those who love it are fascinated by the development of a serial killer, and those who hate it abhor such a topic. I do warn readers that it is graphic and disturbing. It is about a serial killer!
When I wrote the book I had recently finished a handful of thrillers that focused on the killer, but the thing that left me questioning always was; WHY? How does someone become so heinous, so evil? Are they born that way? Does their environment create them? I didn’t know the answers, so I started doing a ton of research. It was disturbing research and the answers were equally disturbing. Environment seemed to play a lot into what creates a serial killer.
I read books and essays, watched documentaries and even discovered there was a serial killer in my family’s genealogy, who I don’t really want to name as the guy is still alive and has tried to contact my uncle several times. YUCKY SCARY!
Anyway, after all of this I decided to write a book that intertwined the lives of some good characters with this horrible killer. The most important aspect for me was to detail out how this killer grew into what he did. It is disturbing. It is compelling form my point of view. It is a combination of research and imagination that make up the bulk of the book. It is certainly not a book for everyone. There is some animal cruelty in it, which was extremely difficult for me to write because if you know me then you know that I am a huge animal lover and have a bunch of animals who I treat like family. However, many of these types of killers begin their spree on innocent animals. That is the reality of it. There is a reference to incest. Again–not easy to write but a reality that many of these killers were abused as kids. And, I am certain what is most offensive is the fact that the killer in the story is a necrophiliac. Yes–disturbing, but not something I just pulled out of a rabbit hat.
Serial killers are sick, disturbed and completely heinous individuals. Writing a book with a character like this was not easy, but the story did come to me and the good characters in it are heroic and show the other side of humanity. There is plenty of evil in the world, but I also believe it to be true that there is more good.
I hope you have a wonderful weekend. If you have not read my thriller COVERT REICH or my children’s fantasy THE CLOVER SIBLINGS AND THE EVIL OF DESMAL, both books are available through Sunday for free for Kindle owners.
I guess it is obvious by now that I love to write. I love to sit down at my kitchen table with my laptop and create stories that I really hope people will find entertaining and allow them a place to go and escape into for a few hours.
Right now I am currently working on three different books (Haunted Hills, a new Nikki book, and a new Michaela book). I also have several books outline waiting for me to get to them. All of these ideas gave me a thought. I’m curious if there might be a couple of writers out there who would like to collaborate on a couple of projects. One of the books that I really want to get out there is a YA with horses (of course) and a little paranormal activity. The other book (series) is a group of thrillers with both some paranormal stuff and a little romance thrown in there, and finally I have another mystery series set in Hawaii (road trip?).
My idea of working with another writer would be a serious collaboration. This would not be ghost writing on anyone’s part. Think Child & Preston. If anyone is interested in this and wants to know more of what I am thinking about, please e-mail me at email@example.com and we can go from there.
I am also going to put an excerpt from each of these projects here. This is all unedited, first draft work so keep that in mind.
The first excerpt is from INTO THE RING (this is the YA idea and it would be helpful if you liked horses 🙂 for this book):
My name is Vivienne Taylor and I don’t like being afraid. The really dumb thing is I have been totally freaked out over something that I really shouldn’t be. Well, maybe I kind of have a right. I am moving fifteen hundred miles away from my family, my friends and my horses. But it’s to have a chance to finally live out my dream. So, I would think I’d be a little more excited and a little less totally messed up in the brain—like a swirly, twirl of colors blending in a circle until I get dizzy kind of messed up. I toss up my arms, shrug my shoulders and say, “Whatever.” My mom says it’s just nerves and that’s normal. But my mom and I both know that I am so not normal. And if the kids at my new school, or I mean Academy find out how not normal I am, it could be really not very good. Yup. Dizzying, colorful swirls not good.
I’m not idiotic enough to think that I am going to walk into the Fairmont Riding Academy for Young Equestrians and be welcomed with open arms by all of the rich kids there. Kids with horses that cost more than our house. Kids who drive cars from Germany. Kids that think Target is something they shoot at while out on expensive weekend hunting vacation with their fathers, not a place where people can buy comforter sets that include sheets for under fifty bucks, cool T-shirts and some very pretty smelling candles. That would be crazy.
I have to face it, I am different from them. My mom is a single parent of my seven-year-old brother and myself. She’s worked her butt off as a large animal vet to make sure that I have had the proper training as a three-day eventer, because like me, my mother is a dreamer. And she knows how important my dream of one day being an Olympic rider is. Thus, the working her butt off. And now all her hard work and mine seems to be paying off.
A month ago, I received the letter from the Fairmont Academy letting me know that I was the recipient of their annual scholarship. Me? Me! I am one of the lucky few who will ever get this opportunity. Kids like me don’t have the kind of money to attend Fairmont, and the only chance I would ever have is through the scholarship. So, I should be totally excited and not so freaked. But I am dizzily, swirlied screwed up and I have been unable to sleep very well since getting the letter. And I know, I know so bad that I am really going to miss home—even my pain of a little brother.
I will especially miss Dean.
“Sweetie, wake up. I need your help.” My mom’s voice filled with tension as she walked into my room in the middle of the night. I knew immediately what she needed. “I’m sorry, Vivvie? You awake?”
“No worries, Mom. I was up. Just thinking.” I picked up my jeans off the floor and pulled them on over the boxers I liked to sleep in (they originally belonged to Austin Giles—long story, which I will tell later and I am pretty sure I can guarantee that it’s not what you’re thinking) turned on my light to find my Thomas Jefferson High sweatshirt. “What about Cole?” I asked about my brother.
“I’ve put Sadie and Georgia in his room with him. I wish Grandma was here, but something tells me the two Rotties will be better protection than your grandma would should trouble arise. I’ll meet you in the truck. Lock the door behind you, Shnoopy,” she said, calling me her favorite pet name for me, which I’d finally just accepted after seventeen years of her calling me it. Admittedly I do kinda like it, but wouldn’t share that feeling with just anyone.
“What do we have?” I asked as I climbed into the truck
“Thirteen-year-old mare down out in Albany. Owner went to bring her in from pasture for the night and noticed she was severely bloated and seemed to be having problems breathing.”
“That could be a number of things.” I zipped up my sweatshirt and pulled my hood on. It was cold for a late August night, or maybe that was just me. I tend to always be a bit chilled.
My mom glanced at me at me as she punched in the horse owner’s address on the GPS, her blue eyes looking weary. “That’s why I’m bringing you.”
I nodded. I reached into the back seat and grabbed a Diet Pepsi that I knew I’d find amidst reports, bandages, books, junk food, dog leashes and their toys. Being a large animal vet kept my mother on the run, and although she could detail a report to clients like nobody’s business, she didn’t always have the best organizational skills in the world when it came to keeping the house or her truck clean. I made an effort to do both for her once a week. “Want one?” I asked holding up the soda can.
“I’m good on the caffeine. I was actually up late working on some reports and had a couple of cups of coffee to keep me going. I had a feeling about tonight. Why were you still awake?”
*The next excerpt is from the paranormal type of thriller. I’ve tentatively titled it HEAR NO EVIL.
Eleven-year-old Hope Mitchell was running for her life. She should’ve listened to her mother, listened to the rules…and now they’d found her. But God, being holed up in the compound. Day in. Day out. Her mother always crying. The doctors. “What do you hear Hope?” “If you focus here and listen, do you get anything?” No I don’t get anything. Leave me alone. Leave me alone was what she always wanted to shout. Then the teachers. “You can do better than that, Hope. Here’s the correct way to write the character in Chinese. No, that’s not how you say it in French.”
She thought she had them fooled. Thought if she played dumb, they’d let her and her mom go. They had with that other kid—Joey Reynolds. Or at least, she saw them all get into a car one day and leave. One of the doctors and a teacher and Joey and his mom. Everyone knew that Joey didn’t have the gift. It didn’t take much or long to figure that out. Did they drop him and his mom off somewhere with a house and a pool and a neighborhood with normal kids who didn’t see or hear or know things that no one else did?
Feet pounded behind her and her heart raced. She couldn’t let them catch her. Tears started to cloud her vision. No. Don’t cry. Can’t cry. Keep running. Get safe and tell someone. Tell them where mommy is. Would anyone believe her? It didn’t matter. They had to.
“Hope. Stop. Come on. You’re a little girl. You’ll get lost out here. There’s hungry animals,” one of the men yelled.
Bushes scraped against her legs, scratching them. The smell of sage tickled her nose. She hated that smell—sweet, sour, strong. The teachers burned it all the time in the meditation room saying it was good for to clear out any negativity. Negativity? Who were they kidding? They had to burn a lot of sage for that in that stupid place.
The mountain ahead of her was huge. How could she climb it?
The men continued shouting. “It’s okay. Stop, Hope. Stop. We won’t hurt you. Your mother wants you to come home. She could get sick without you.”
One of the voices came closer. The tears started again and this time they wouldn’t be shoved down. What if they hurt her mom? But if she didn’t find help, if she didn’t tell someone, then Mom and her would be trapped in that place forever. She could see it in her mom’s eyes—the fear, like her own. Her mom tried to act like it was all good, like they were normal and that they should feel lucky they were so well taken care of, but her mother wasn’t kidding anyone, least of all Hope. She wasn’t exactly a stupid kid. No. She had to find a way out to save her mom.
The feet were right behind her. She sped up and ran as fast as she could. Don’t let them get me. I’m faster. I can do it. I can beat them and get my mom and then we’ll be okay. We’ll get a house. We’ll get a dog. I’ll go to a real school.
She pushed ahead and the voices grew farther away, still yelling for her. If she could get over that mountain she knew, she just knew she’d find somewhere safe to go because on the other side of that mountain was a highway. She knew it was there because she could hear people sometimes in their cars talking to each other, listening to the radio, or speaking on their cell phones.
Her chest ached and her stomach hurt so bad. Don’t barf. Can’t barf. Keep running.
She hadn’t fooled them at all. Had she? Trying to play dumb, getting bad grades, sitting in the headmaster’s office being punished. They told her to stop it, they knew what she was doing and they knew she wasn’t dumb at all. If she helped them she could go back to her apartment and be with her mom. But if she didn’t help them… They never said what would happen, except that she might not ever see her mom again, and so she told them everything she’d heard. It was scary. She didn’t understand it, but after she told them, they let her go back and be with her mom and she was so happy to see her and be held by her. Mom smelled like peaches and vanilla from this lotion she bought at the compound store, and that night she’d made Hope tacos—her favorite. Then they’d laughed and watched Survivor on TV. That’s what she was now—a survivor—and she’d win. She had to. It was worth way more than a million dollars.
And now, since she’d told them, they wanted more and more from her. But she was smart. Wasn’t she? She’d watched, waited and planned how to get out and away.
No alarms had gone off. No dogs. Nothing. She’d done it, made it under that super small space she’d seen in the fence the other day when she’d walked home with her friend Teresa Spiro. And then, ten minutes later, the men shouting and running after her. How did they know? How did they find her?
When she’d crawled under the fence it cut into her back. The pain meant nothing now. Not compared to the blood flowing in her ears, making it sound like a river was rushing through them, and her heart still racing and her feet thudding along the ground. No, pain did not matter. Freedom mattered. Hope understood that a price couldn’t be put on freedom. The voices were yet farther away. She was halfway up the mountain. She was getting out. She was going to make it!
“Where is she?” one of the men yelled. Then lights, bright flashlights scanned the side of the mountain. “There. Right there. Get her.”
Keep running. Don’t look back. But she did. She looked back, and then she tripped.
A fierce hot pain shot through her leg like nothing she’d ever felt—not like a bruise or a scrape. A white flash rushed in front of her eyes. Her mind dizzied into a swirl of bright lights, shouting voices and her own voice telling her to get up and run. Keep going. She got to her knees. Oh God. It hurt. Her leg twisted up and would not follow directions. Stupid leg. “Mom, Mom, Mommy?” The tears came freely as a man stood above her and knelt down.
“You’re okay. We’ll have that fixed up soon.” He lifted her up and walked toward three other men.
She didn’t recognize these men. They weren’t any of the guards she was so afraid of. Maybe they were here to save her. That had to be it. Thank God. Yes. The man was so nice. That’s why they were here. She sighed and even with the shooting pain soaring up her leg and throughout her body she breathed a sigh and leaned against the man’s chest. His heart thumped through his army green shirt.
Then her relief suddenly changed when she heard one of the other men already inside his car speaking into a cell phone. “We’ll have her on the helicopter in fifteen. She’s hurt. Looks like a broken leg. Have a doctor meet us at the airstrip. Yes, we’ll be in Malta by tomorrow.”
She squeezed her eyes shut and started to squirm.
“Hey, some sedation over here. She’s agitated.” Another man joined them. They kept walking at a fast clip. The man held on tight to her as she tried to wriggle out of his grasp. His voice raised, not so gentle this time. “Knock it off kid.”
They rolled up her sleeve. Alcohol burned her nose as someone rubbed it onto her arm with a cotton swab. Then the sting of the needle. The pain in her leg lessened, a tickle fluttered and settled through her body, numbing it. Closing her eyes, she knew that these men were not from the compound. She would’ve been so much better off if they had been.
Hope Mitchell was quite aware that the one thing she’d been warned of, that all of the kids had been warned could happen to them if they ever tried to leave, had happened to her.
*** Finally, this next excerpt is from the mystery that I have no title for yet. 🙂
“We can’t live here! This place is disgusting. I can’t believe you brought me here. You’re such a jerk. I hate you!” Leila’s fifteen-year-old daughter Taylor shouted at her and then stormed away toward the beach,
Leila Reynolds stood there staring after her child, arms crossed in front of her. She sighed heavily. She’d heard worse onslaughts than that in recent times. She was on a few people’s hate list. Had been called bitch and a few other callous words by her mother and her daughter—and the names her ex-husband had called her, well, no need to go there… so jerk and being hated, hmmm, well not so bad. Now as far as their new home, Taylor was sort of right and this was more upsetting then her teenager’s angst.
The forty-two-year old mother had so looked forward to arriving back here on the big island of Hawaii and starting over in her Aunt Kiki’s bed & breakfast—a place that held many fond memories from her childhood for Leila. She’d pretty much spent every summer from the time she was six-years-old in Hawaii with her aunt. And now Kiki was gone and guilt washed over Leila as the fact that she hadn’t been to see her Aunt in twelve years reminded her how quickly time passed, and how much things can change in such a short amount of time. Things like falling in love, having a child with the one you are so deeply in love with, working at a career so hard and being at the top of the game…and then bham—all changed in one moment, one instant. One sentence. “I don’t love you anymore.” Well two really. The one that followed was something like, “I’m on love with someone else.” Leila shut her eyes tightly for a brief second and with the shake of her head attempted to rid herself of that one moment in time—only six months ago. She was pretty sure it was a moment she would never forget.
Leila had gotten married, lived the high life in New York building her reputation as a top chef and she’d had Taylor. The demands of day to day life had kept her away but she’d talked to Aunt Kiki every week and not ever—ever—did her favorite aunt let on that things had been rough for her. Apparently they had been. Obviously.
Leila took in a deep breath and surveyed the grounds of the property before venturing into the house. The view was still there—with the Pacific Ocean just down a pathway. The carefree breeze coming off the ocean carried with it a freshness of salt and water, earth and wind, so pure and natural that a breath truly felt like one of fresh air.
The B&B sat just high enough to make the ocean appear as a never ending line of blue. She turned back toward the house where she’d spent days exploring and feeling carefree as a girl. It looked like something out of a ghost story now—haunted and morose. Weeds surrounded it. The rose bushes were dormant and dry, but stood tall against the house. Plumeria was out of control but gave off that amazing floral scent that when she closed her eyes she could envision the home in a better light—painted crisp butter color, a swing on the cottage style place that was reminiscent of old Hawaii. Now the paint was chipping off, the place overgrown and the swing only hanging from one chain. “What happened, Kiki?” she whispered. “What happened to this place? What happened to you?”
She walked around to the back side where she spotted the barn not too far off in the distance. The once tucked away but illustrious vacation spot had been known for accommodating trail rides for the occupants. She spotted about ten horses out in the pasture. The barn appeared to be pretty much in the same state as the house. Leila shook her head again trying to imagine what had gone on with Kiki. Was she depressed? Was she flat broke and too prideful? Was she sick? That thought horrified Leila and the guilt consumed her yet again.
“Hey you? Need a room?” A slight looking man walked out the front door and stood on the porch. He brought his hand up to cover his eyes from the sun. Leila walked toward him. He took a few steps down off the porch.
“Hi. I’m Leila Reynolds.” She took him in. He was anywhere between fifty and eighty—either a man who hadn’t aged well or who had done decently. He was average height, thin, bald, hazel eyes and hunched over slightly. He looked like he was at least part Hawaiian.
“Hmm,” he grunted.
“And you must be?”
“Jones,” he said.
She nodded. “Yes. Jones. The attorney informed me that you are the ranch manager. Right?”
“Uh huh.” He shrugged.
This was definitely going places. Like nowhere—quickly. “Yeah. Did you get my messages? I called the main line and left messages and I had a phone number for you as well but it just rang and rang.”
He stared at her for a moment. “Guess you should come on inside then. Place is yours.” He turned his back and climbed the steps, opening the screen door. Leila didn’t move, she was so taken aback by him. Without turning around, Jones grumbled, “You coming or what?”
“Uh yes. Thank you.” Leila followed in behind him.
She took a step inside and caught her breath as memories flooded her. The place smelled exactly as it had when she was a child—tropical with a little age to it, and the coastal sea air blending into the mix. The furniture was a bit worse for wear—she was pretty sure that had also remained the same for nearly thirty-five years. There were dust bunnies along the hard wood floors that Leila knew were original Koa. This place had once been so pristine. What had happened here? “How many guests come here, a month?” she asked.
Jones shrugged. “Maybe two, three.”
Her jaw dropped. “What? What happened to business?”
He shrugged again. “Lots of fancy, big resorts to stay in now. No bother to come out here.”
“Sure there is. That’s the attractiveness of this place. It always has been. It’s off the beaten path with amazing views. It’s charming, plus there are the horses and Kiki always made such delicious food.”
“Kiki stopped cooking some time ago.”
“She did?” Leila couldn’t believe what she was hearing. It was Aunt Kiki who had inspired her to become a chef in the first place. She’d made extraordinary dishes that people from all over raved about and came up to the place just to eat and stay for a night. Even the locals would do so. “Why? Was she sick?”
“No. She stopped cooking. Look, you know where the bedrooms are. Have your pick. I sleep out at the barn. I have to go and feed the animals. I will see you in the morning.” With that Jones slipped out the back kitchen door. Leila watched him make the trek to the pasture and begin bringing the handful of horses into the barn. She could also see three dairy cows grazing.
She shook her head and tried to take it all in. First off, Jones was a strange man, and she had a feeling he knew more about what had been going on with Kiki before she died. Leila couldn’t swallow the pill that her ant had just given up her cooking, a favorite past time and on top of that allow this place to become so run down.
“What happened here, Kiki?” she said aloud. “What happened to you?” Leila knew in her gut that the answer to those questions were not good.
So, if anyone out there is interested in getting together and working on one of these projects with me, let me know. Otherwise, I’m going to keep on at the pace I am and eventually the ideas will all make it out there. 🙂
P.S. All of you new Kindle owners, many of my e-books are at rock bottom prices right now. Happy Hour is at .99 and all the A.K. Alexander books are between .99 and 1.99. The Nikki books are still at the publisher pricing. Sorry. I have no control over that.
As with most professions, we need others to help us in what we do. Doctors need nurses, techs, etc. Lawyers need paralegals, assistants, etc. Jockeys need grooms, vets, owners, etc. Writers need editors, copy-editors, etc…
I am pleased to have a wonderful woman and talented editor/copy-editor here to guest blog today: Jennifer Meegan. I have had the pleasure now of working with Jennifer on two of my books (THE CLOVER SIBLINGS AND THE EVIL OF DESMAL, which is a YA fantasy written under my name, and my latest release COVERT REICH written under my pen name). Jennifer did a great job on both books. I am not easy to work with from the standpoint that I make a gazillion mistakes when I write. I don’t know how to type. I hunt and peck, so you can imagine the typos. I am terrible with grammar. I will admit it. I know when my good friend Jessica Park *FLAT OUT LOVE fame reads this blog she cringes when she sees all the grammatical errors. I tend to write fast and furious when writing a story. I love to story tell, so for me an editor and a copy editor are essentials.
Therefore, without further ado, let me introduce you to Jennifer:
My name is Jen Meegan and I’ve been lucky enough to edit two of Michele’s draft manuscripts, including her most recent, “Covert Reich”, published under her A. K. Alexander pseudonym. I’ve been providing editing services to ebook writers since 2010 although I don’t formally advertise my services (no web site, no blog — yet). Most folks find out about me via word-of-mouth or author blogs like this one. I stumbled into this gig when one of my favorite YA ebook authors — Amanda Hocking — posted a request for editing help on her blog for her first zombie novel, “Hollowland”. I volunteered to help her out…free of charge…and had so much fun, I decided to see if I could find additional paid editing opportunities. And the rest, as they say, is history.
My background? I’ve been editing and copy writing for high tech companies (Yahoo!, SAP, and lots of startups) for over 15 years. This included everything from web sites to blogs to ads to marketing collateral…you name it. High-tech freelance editing/writing definitely pays well but, let’s be honest, it’s boring as hell. I’m a voracious reader with a literature background and a huge anal-retentive streak that serves me well in my editing role. I’m also a speed reader…which is pretty handy when a project requires a fast turn.
Word on the street is my fees are very reasonable considering the quality of work I do. I typically charge between $100-500 per manuscript, from start to finish, depending on the length of the book and how rough the draft is and the amount of time I’m given to work my magic. Some folks simply use me to scrub a final draft (fix punctuation, spelling, basic grammar errors), others use me to whip a rough draft into shape and provide structure, improve flow, and insert suggestions. I’ve even been known to do a partial “ghost write” of a book. I can be as hands off/hands on as an author wants me to be.
A few other tidbits: I live in the Silicon Valley with my Irish husband, two little girls, a high school exchange student from Belgium, and two cats. I’m bi-lingual (French/English) and well traveled. I am a HUGE history buff and a foodie. I love to read just about any type of book but I seem to be getting a lot of editing request for YA urban fantasy (vampires, werewolves, fairies, etc), thrillers, and chick lit/romance.
Anyway, if you or someone you know are looking for an editor who can take your work from good to great (without blowing your entire self-publishing budget), drop me a line: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Freelance Copywriter and Copyeditor
Low costs, high quality, fast results
COVERT REICH http://tiny.cc/p23tw (.99 cent holiday special for Kindle owners)
THE CLOVER SIBLINGS AND THE EVIL OF DESMAL (also only .99 for the holidays) http://tiny.cc/w506o
FLAT OUT LOVE by Jessica Park: http://tiny.cc/514i1
It’s been a few days since I’ve posted. I have been in plotting mode for the next book and am happy to say that as of yesterday I now have a 16 single-spaced detailed outline and 50 pages on the new book (Haunted Hills). This one has some of the same kind of humor as a Nikki book, which for those of you waiting for a new Wine Lovers’ Mystery, you will be pleased to know that there will be Book #7 out in early July!
Today, I am giving some “Plugs” for a few things (favorite books, favorite blog, and new e-reader), so if you feel like I am trying to sell you on some stuff, well, fine. I am. The first things is for you writers out there. A friend called me this week as she is in the middle of writing her first novel. She told me that she felt stuck and that she isn’t sure where the book is going and that she keeps rewriting pages over and over. I asked her, “Do you have an outline?” She does not. My suggestion to her was to pick up any of James Frey’s book on writing. Each time I start a new book, I take a little refresher on writing with one of his books. The current one I’m using is HOW TO WRITE A DAMN GOOD MYSTERY. I Love this book! Here is the link to it on amazon. http://tiny.cc/4o7pq . Frey has books on How to Write a Damn Good Novel, Thriller, etc. I now have his library on my Kindle Fire, which is definitely one of my most favorite new things in the world! I never thought I would say that as I figured I would remain a dinosaur and only read print books. I was wrong. I bought the original Kindle and liked it, but now with the Kindle Fire I can see photos in my cookbooks (Love any cookbook by Giada and Rick Bayless), it is light and easy to travel with. Because I love this book so much and because I would love to see my books hit the top ten Kindle Sales list this month, I am offering a Kindle Fire to one lucky winner if either COVERT REICH or DADDY’S HOME hits the top ten list (DH is in the top 30 for pyschological thrillers right now)! Just keep checking to see, and anyone who writes in the blog comment section that they bought a copy is automaticallly entered. This is an honor system, so I will trust you when you say you purchased it. I can’t say I got this idea myself. Actually my good friend and a huge supporter of my work Lori Gondelman from http://www.lorisreadingcorner.com/ (for readers this a must blog to follow) gave me the idea as she so kindly surprised me this morning by offering an Ipod shuffle to her readers and touting Jessica Park’s amazing book FLAT OUT LOVE and COVERT REICH. If you have not read Jessica’s book, it is excellent and not one to miss. It has been on the top 10 Kindle Book Sales List for a couple of weeks now and it deserves to be #1! Check it out for yourself. http://amzn.to/tGQdWC. For those of you readers who Love humor, you can’t miss anything by my friend Gayle Carline. This lady is hysterical and also a horse lover like myself. Her Peri Minneopa Mysteries are fun, funny, and are excellent mysteries. Check her books out! http://amzn.to/vtHvFr. And for those of you who love Noir type of mysteries you can’t miss Jeff Sherrat. http://amzn.to/tGnijL. Anyone who enjoys to have the pants scared off of them needs to read a horror novel by my friend and for many years freelance editor Mike Sirota. http://amzn.to/ugE7Wg His book FIRE DANCE kept me turning pages and scared to death! And finally one last book of mine to plug :). For you readers of women’s fiction, check out a copy of HAPPY HOUR. This book has received stellar reviews and is the kind of book that will make you laugh, cry, get a little angry, etc. It is the kind of book that will remind you of what is really important in life. It’s a must read for the women in your life. And, for a very short time the publisher of this book ZOVA has graciously agreed to lower the price to .99 cents for Kindle and e-book readers. http://amzn.to/s3yjXF
So, there you go! A few of my favorite books and a cool contest. You in?
Enjoy your weekend.
I hope everyone had a great weekend! Mine was a bit crazy. My horse Will had a mild colic, which kept me from much sleep. I got up every couple of hours to check on him. I am happy to say that he is much better and all systems are working (horse people will know what I mean–if not, you probably don’t want the details). I also worked like crazy to format COVERT REICH, which I have to admit has left me a bit drained. I write, not format for all of the various e-readers. It is not easy! My hats off to all the techies out there.
I am pleased to say though that release day is finally here. The Kindle version is up now for .99. The Nook, Ipad and print versions will be available very soon.
Now, for the fun stuff! When I write a book I like to think about who might play in the movie or TV show. Yes, I am aware that this is very wishful thinking but it is still fun. So, I have casted a few roles for COVERT REICH. I am still trying to figure out who would play Eric and Julio. See if you agree with my current cast of characters. And, I am posting Chapter Fourteen. If you have not had a chance to read the chapters that are up already I hope that you will, and that it entices you to get a copy. Kindle Purchase Links: http://www.amazon.com/Covert-Reich-ebook/dp/B006BHWSJM/ref=pd_rhf_gw_p_t_2 and the U.K. Link: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Covert-Reich-ebook/dp/B006BHWSJM/ref=pd_rhf_gw_p_t_1
Here is my all star-cast for COVERT REICH:
Dr. Kelly Morales–Jennifer Lopez
Detective Tony Pazzini
Pazzini sat behind his desk, blinking eyes that had gone blurry. He attempted again to focus on the overload of paperwork. What a night. The murder at County was one he knew would be eating at him for a while. Bizarre cases always did. He suddenly felt much older than his forty-two years.
But being a cop was what he knew best. He lived for the job and his son, Luke. And the job took away from time with his kid. It wouldn’t be so hard if Anna were still here. But she wasn’t, and even with the help of his parents, he still felt he was in some way cheating Luke.
He took a large gulp of Coke and a sharp spear of burning acid shot through his stomach. Pazzini instantly regretted the decision to put jalapenos and onions on the hot dog he’d devoured earlier, after wrapping the hospital crime scene.
The stress of the job, plus the onions and hot peppers—which in all honesty, he could never get enough of—didn’t do much for the ulcer his doctor had warned him about. The burning sensation in his gut never left him alone these days. This morning it was much worse than usual.
“Jeez, Pazzini, what’d ya do? Hit Cotija’s Taco Shop last night?” Simmons taunted.
“Nah, wise ass. I had a dog with a heap of the good stuff on it.” He looked up from the paperwork and smoothed down his slightly wavy black hair, thinking he should probably comb it. He winced when his palms hit the back of his head. He could’ve sworn there had been more hair there a few months ago.
“Oh, man, that’ll do it every time. Wish I had some antacids for you. But I got a message instead.” Simmons winked at him, smacking on the tobacco chew Tony swore never left the side of his cheek. His stained teeth substantiated that theory.
“What’s that?” Tony asked, irritated by Simmons’ twang, which could only come from a cowboy wannabe. Simmons swore he was Texas born and raised. It was his story, but Tony knew the truth. He was really from Nebraska. Tony stared at the idiot for a few seconds, his annoyance growing at Simmons’ ridiculous overgrown goatee that was eons out of date. It wouldn’t hurt if he trimmed his shoulder length hair and took the earring out as well. Freaking Rhinestone Cowboy. Please.
“Boss man wants to see you, dude.”
“Dude? Seriously Simmons, you gonna catch some waves now?”
Simmons ignored him, “What d’ya do now, Paz?”
“Hey, dude, shut the hell up. Don’t call me Paz. It’s Pazzini. I can spell it for you if you like.”
Simmons held up his hands. “Hey, man, sorry. You know, no offense. Didn’t know it bugged you. Note to self.”
Tony nodded and slid out of his desk chair, heading toward his boss’s office.
“Dragging your feet a little, aren’t ya?” Simmons laughed.
That stopped the exhausted detective in his tracks. He faced Simmons. “Dude, this isn’t Texas, Nebraska, or Bum Fuck Egypt. This is L.A., and in case you hadn’t noticed, it’s you, not ya. And another thing, do you think you could lose the look? Your look? It went out with disco.”
Simmons abruptly stormed out of the room lined with desks and detectives. The place reminded Tony of a classroom, except it was far more cluttered, and instead of sweaty kids, it smelled of sweaty adults and stale air. At the moment, only a few actual detectives were sitting at their desks, mulling over reports, doing the tedious work. They had all stopped to watch the scene.
“Oh come on, Pazzini, sure the kid is an odd duck but do you have to be such a hard ass?” Barkley commented. He was an older detective who had been on the force for thirty years and was inching close to retirement.
“I just think people should be who they really are. FYI, Simmons isn’t even from Texas. He’s from fucking Nebraska!” Tony yelled back as he reached the chief’s office. Barkley was probably right. Maybe he was being too hard on Simmons, but he was exhausted and his nerves were on edge.
Standing outside Linden’s door, he couldn’t help the pang in his stomach, which he knew wasn’t entirely due to his earlier lunch. Pretty much every time he stepped into this office, his boss had a bone to pick with him. Usually, Tony had to admit, the chief was right. He had a hot button and had been known to rough up a few dope dealers and scumbags here and there. Linden always covered his ass, but not before he tore him a new one. But Pazzini couldn’t think of anything he’d done lately to warrant the usual warning…unless it had to do with Dr. Morales. He might have been a little rough on her, but he would have figured her too tough to call in a complaint about him. In any case, he’d just been doing his job. But had he pushed the doctor too hard? He didn’t think she was a killer, but those questions had to be asked. Then again, beauty could blind people from the truth. And Kelly Morales was definitely good looking.
He turned the handle on the door and peered inside Linden’s cramped quarters. The office reminded him of his grandfather’s fishing cabin up in the Sierras. At least in the way it smelled—musty, old.
Linden lifted his head up off his desk. His blue eyes were bloodshot.
“Hey, boss. Simmons said you wanted to see me.”
“Yeah. Sorry. I’m getting some shut-eye. Tired these days.” He rubbed his bleary eyes. “Think I’m fighting a flu bug. Carol is home with it.”
“That’s too bad.” Tony didn’t buy the flu thing at all.
“Anyhow, I wanted you in here because I need to know what happened at the hospital last night. I’m getting some heat from upstairs and from the mayor’s office. That sort of thing. Hospital people are upset, and the CEO over there is going nutso. I got some broad calling me every hour asking if there’s any news. I told her as soon as I know something, I’d give her a ring. And I don’t even want to talk about the media. That pain in the ass Gem Michaels from The Times has been calling about a statement and information.”
Tony tried not to smile. Gem was a tough as nails reporter, and she could be a pain but Tony liked her. She was honest. No hype. Just the facts.
“Not good, Chief.”
Tony sat down in the cracked vinyl chair across from his boss. Kind of a joke, really. The only reason the guy still had any real power was because his dad was good buddies with the commissioner. It wasn’t a secret Linden was burnt out. However, he still did merit some respect. At one time, he’d been one of the finest. He’d solved more homicides than anyone else on the force. But then he was shot while on duty and now could walk only with the help of a cane. That explained the ever-present alcohol—self-medication. He’d been put behind a desk and Tony knew it had nearly killed him.
“Any suspects?” Linden asked, the faint smell of whiskey wafting off of him.
Tony took note of the coffee cup resting on Linden’s desk and wondered what was really in it. “Nothing out of the ordinary. I’m checking into the usual things. The ex-wife, colleagues, friends, anyone associated with him who might hold a grudge. Nothing stands out at the moment.”
“No one saw anything?”
“No one coming forward, anyway. We’re still questioning people, obviously. This is going to take some time, sir.”
“We don’t have time, Pazzini. You’re telling me no one in that entire hospital spotted anything out of the ordinary? Some doc gets rubbed out in the middle of a busy hospital like County, and no one sees a thing?”
“He wasn’t in the middle of the hospital, sir. He was in the morgue, and I don’t think it’s quite as bustling as the rest of the building. I’m working on it. If anyone did see anything, they aren’t talking yet. Forensics is still over there this morning. I just received a roster of everyone who was working during those hours. But like I said, this is going to take time. We are questioning everyone. Then there were visitors in the building until eight o’ clock. We need to look at the sign-in sheets. At this point, the killer could be anyone. Oh, and we’re also checking all security cam footage.”
Linden rubbed his eyes again. He looked wiped out…or very hung over.
“What we know, or can surmise at this point, is the suspect was alone and locking up for the evening. The morgue is on the bottom floor of the hospital. The perp came from behind and zapped him with a silencer. Then slit his throat. Our big problem is how many people are in and out of that place daily—dead or alive. DNA is everywhere. It’s a hospital. The crime scene was contaminated before we even walked in the door.”
Linden nodded and leaned back in his chair. He folded his hands together and placed them under his chin. “You spoke with a woman doctor.” He looked down at some notes. “Dr. Morales? I understand she had a dinner date with the vic.”
“Tell me about her.”
“Her story checks out. She was at the restaurant waiting for him. Busboy confirms seeing her. She claims they had some patients to discuss.”
Linden made a face. “What? This guy is the morgue man and she’s in the NICU. What patients could they have in common?”
“I would assume an infant…or mom. It happens. Maybe she needed to talk pathology with him. I don’t know. It seemed plausible to me.”
“Guy is taking her to Tuscany’s to talk business? He’s gonna fork over that kind of cash on a business meeting? I don’t buy it. He was looking to get a piece of ass.”
“I think he might have been looking in the wrong place,” Tony replied.
“No. I think she’s respectable, is all. I think they were friends. Seems like there was a mutual attraction between them and if the poor guy hadn’t been killed, they may have wound up in a relationship. But at the stage they were at, it wasn’t happening yet.”
Linden studied him and clucked his tongue. “She must be a looker.” Tony didn’t respond.
Tony understood his boss’s implications. “Please. I am a professional. Dr. Morales answered my questions and was cooperative. That’s the bottom line.” He sighed and thought carefully about what he was going to say next. He wanted to prove to Linden he hadn’t been blinded by the doctor’s good looks. “I did get the feeling, though, that she could be hiding something.”
“Why do you say that?” Linden He picked up his mug and took a swig.
“Just a hunch, that’s all.”
“Yeah, well, you need to trust hunches. Sometimes gut reactions solve cases. Stay with her a little longer.” He sighed and rubbed his eyes again. “I want an arrest on this, Pazzini. And soon. My oldest kid just got accepted at USF. Place is not cheap. My youngest needs braces, and my wife wants to go on a European vacation. She seems to forget I’m not Donald Trump. And between us, I am ready to retire from this place. But before I do, I need to go out on a high note, if you know what I mean.”
“Get back to me as soon as you have something. I’ll make some calls, see if I can keep the politics at a minimum. You’re working with Simmons on this.”
“What?” Pazzini asked. “You’re kidding, right? You can’t do that to me. Come on…”
“Does it look like I’m kidding? You’re going to need a partner on this one.”
“I do my best work alone.”
“Not this time,” Linden said. “He’s a good cop. He’s a little different, but he’s sharp. You can tolerate his idiosyncrasies.”
Tony rolled his eyes and walked out of the office. “Damn,” he muttered under his breath. He had a front-page homicide with no real leads, and now he had to work side-by-side with the urban cowboy.
Since Thanksgiving is next week and I am already having issues with my jeans (I swear they must have shrunk in the wash), I am heading out to the YMCA where they are offering a ZUMBA class. I am sure I will be completely coordinated and and will not drop after three songs. I am positive. Wish me luck.
In the meantime, here is Chapter Thirteen of COVERT REICH
Have a wonderful weekend.
Kelly locked the house up behind her. She’d fed Stevie T and left a light on in the entry and kitchen since she planned to get home late. Her shift would start at nine and go for 12 hours. Leaving at 6:00am would give her enough time to visit her horse, and maybe get some perspective out on the trail.
The rich scent of earth, dew, and freshly cut hay hit her as she stepped out of her Land Rover. Nickers and whinnies echoed across the grounds from the equestrian center. It was breakfast time and the horses were definitely ready to eat. She knew her timing wasn’t the greatest, but it was the only time she had until the weekend to visit.
Kelly let out a low whistle as she walked down the barn aisle. A big bay mare popped her head out and turned to face Kelly. Sydney nickered a gentle hello. Kelly smiled. “I’m happy to see you, too.” In fact, she was more than just happy…she was relieved. Tears welled in her eyes. She was exhausted and reeling from Jake’s horrible death. This was the only place she could come and find peace, even if only for a short while.
“Hey big girl.” Kelly slid a hand down Syd’s face. She reached in her pocket and brought out the apple slices she’d prepped at home. Syd took it eagerly. “I hope this makes you feel a bit better about being late for breakfast.” Kelly knew it wasn’t kosher to take Sydney off her feed schedule, but she’d only be an hour behind by the time Kelly was finished with her.
She took Syd out, put her in the cross-ties, and quickly groomed her. After tacking the mare up and putting on her helmet and gloves, she led her out to the mounting block and got on. A few minutes later, Kelly and Syd were walking along at a leisurely pace on one of the back trails behind the equestrian center. Tree branches reached across the wide path, leaves blowing gently in the slight breeze. The sun shone strong overhead with only a puff of cloud here and there, dotting the powder blue sky. For the first time in 24 hours, Kelly felt like she could breathe again. And, more importantly, think.
In the 30 minutes it took her to arrive back at the center, Kelly had gone over the current situation multiple times. She needed to get a hold of the charts on the two other women who died like Lupe Salazar. Unfortunately, Jake had been her primary connection in the morgue. She really didn’t know the other pathologists well, and she had been out on the days those women came in. She may have a difficult time getting access to their charts. God she wished that Dr. Pearson was around. He was a far more amicable man to deal with than Pierce Brightman. Joe Pearson was a good doctor. He was nearing retirement so it was kind of surprising he was now on vacation. However, as a doctor and especially one who worked the NICU Kelly understood the pain one endured when a little one was lost, and Pearson had apparently lost two within a week.
She wondered if the chief had suggested Pearson take time off, as Eric had indicated. Brightman had been OBGYN on both Lupe Salazar’s case and one of the other young women. One thing was certain, she would need to speak with him. Amicable or not. Kelly knew she needed to have a chat with Brightman to get his take on all of this. Would he have the same strange reaction Jake had with her? The reaction Kelly was sure had gotten him killed. How much did she want to look into this? Paranoia was beginning to get the best of her.
However, there was right and there was wrong. And it was right to find out what had happened to Lupe so at the very least she could help Baby S. And then there was Jake.
Kelly played Jake’s conversation with her over and over in her mind. She thought about Lupe Salazar and Baby S and what the reports detailed. She would need to see if the other women and baby charts matched up in any way. Kelly sifted through her theories, most of which were conspiratorial and bizarre. But at the end of the trail, she was no further into making sense of anything, leaving her frustrated and confused.
She put Syd away and headed toward her car, when she spotted a familiar face—Dr. Tamara Swift, her vet. Tamara was tall, very thin with long blonde hair, which was always pulled back and tucked under a ball cap. She had warm hazel eyes and a golden glow, likely due to her time spent outdoors in the sun. If she hadn’t been a vet, Kelly was certain she could’ve made one heck of a volleyball player. The moment Kelly saw Tamara, an idea began to form. “Hey Tam,” she said, quickening her pace.
“Hey there.” Tamara took a step back. “Wow, Kel. You okay? You look a little…”
“I know,” Kelly said holding up her palms. “I can’t go into it right now. Um, but I need a favor.” Tamara had become more than just Kelly’s vet over the years, she was also a friend. Kelly had actually introduced the vet to her now husband who Kelly had interned with. She’d been in her wedding. They had barbeques together, drank wine, enjoyed each other’s company.
“Sure,” Tamara replied.
“How do you mean?”
“I need some blood work sent in for some tox reports.”
“Something wrong with Syd?”
“No,” Kelly replied.
“What are you talking about then?”
Kelly sighed. “Okay, I can’t go into details here, but if I can get you the blood, can you help me?” For a second she started to rethink her request. Could she get her friend into any trouble? Or worse, would she be putting her in any kind of danger? She shook her head. “You know what, Tam, never mind. It’s silly. I never…” Kelly closed her eyes and fought back tears.
Tamara put an arm around her. “Hey, hey, Kelly? What’s going on? It takes a lot to make you cry. Hell, I remember last year when you broke two of your ribs after Syd dumped you going over that double oxer?” Tamara pointed to the jump arena. Kelly couldn’t help but laugh. “No tears then, right? I mean you kept saying how you were fine and you could get right back on, until you nearly passed out.”
“That hurt like hell.” Kelly smiled.
“Okay, so what’s this all about?”
“I don’t really know to be honest with you.”
“Let’s start with why you want the tox reports.”
Kelly knew if she was going to ask Tamara for help on this, she owed it to her to tell her everything she did know.
“So, your friend Jake, the pathologist, he was murdered after he basically warned you there was something sinister that caused this girl’s death?”
Kelly nodded. “Yes.”
“What about the police? Did you tell the detective who interviewed you last night about any of this?”
“I told him we were going to meet and discuss some patient cases.”
“I don’t understand. Why didn’t you tell him about this?” Tamara asked.
“Because it sounds crazy, doesn’t it? The detective was kind of, I don’t know…not a jerk, but also not exactly gentle. I mean he was prying and asking things about my sex life.”
“He thought I was hooking up with Jake, I guess. Look, I know I need to tell the police, but I needed a sounding board first to hear me out and let me know if it is as crazy as it sounds.”
“It does sound a bit strange, but you’re a grounded person, Kelly. You’re a good and respected doctor. The police might find it odd, so I can understand where you’re coming from.”
“Do you see why I want some kind of proof there is something behind the deaths of these pregnant women, something that got Jake killed?”
“And you think the tox reports may show something more?”
Kelly shrugged. “After hearing Jake talk about this, I don’t know if I can trust the tests that were already run, and I don’t know if everything was done thoroughly. I mean inconclusive means simply that.”
Tamara nodded. “I’ll do it for you.”
“Please be careful. I have no clue what we’re dealing with.”
Tamara gave her a hug and said, “Hopefully, we’ll find out.”