Beginning January 1, 2013

Stop by the new site and take a look around.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Halloween Blogfest Heather Haven


Heather Haven

Cliff adjusted the eye-patch and scrutinized the perfect but expensive pirate’s reflection in the full length mirror. “You’re one handsome son of a gun, Cliffy Boy, if I do say so myself. Especially now that you’re a widower.”

The doorbell rang. He grumbled about early trick-or-treaters and went to the door.

“Damn it to hell.” Cliff looked down to see his dead wife’s recently vanished black cat run through the living room and out onto the terrace, the terrace from where he’d helped the wife who cramped his style to her untimely but necessary death.

The cat leapt onto the terrace railing and turned around.

“So you want to play, do you? Well, you’re dead meat, cat. I’m sick of dealing with you.” He moved forward.

“Now, Cliff,” a familiar, feminine voice chastised. “That’s hardly fair.”

“Who said that?”

“You know who I am.”

Cliff shrieked, turned, and fell back into the living room.

“Where do you think you’re going?”

Cliff found himself outside again, along the perimeter of the terrace.

The cat on the handrail let out a screech and struck. Thrown off balance, Cliff felt talons and fangs push him backward into space. Two sets of flickering green eyes burned into his as he fell. On the way down forty-two floors to the earth below, he thought of something odd. He’d never noticed before how his late wife’s eyes and those of the cat looked one and the same.


Leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of "Corliss," one of Heather's personal favorites.

About the Author:After studying drama at the University of Miami in Miami, Florida, Heather went to Manhattan to pursue a career. There she wrote short stories, novels, comedy acts, television treatments, ad copy, commercials, and two one-act plays, which were produced at Playwrights Horizon and well-received. Once she even ghostwrote a book on how to run an employment agency. She was unemployed at the time.

One of her first paying jobs was writing a love story for a book published by Bantam called Moments of Love. She had a deadline of one week but promptly came down with the flu. Heather wrote "The Sands of Time" with a raging temperature, and delivered some pretty hot stuff because of it. Her stint at New York City’s No Soap Radio - where she wrote comedic ad copy – help develop her long-time love affair with comedy.

Her first novel of the Alvarez Family Murder Mysteries, Murder is a Family Business, is winner of the Single Titles Reviewers’ Choice Award 2011, and the second, A Wedding to Die For, received the 2012 finalist nods from both Global and EPIC’s Best eBook Mystery of the Year. The third of the series, Death Runs in the Family, recently debuted and has already received rave reviews. All three books are published out of a Canadian publishing house, MuseItUp.

Heather’s most recent endeavor is a 1940s holiday mystery series starring a five-foot eleven, full-figured gal named Persephone Cole. ‘Percy’ Cole has the same hard-boiled, take-no-prisoners attitude as Sam Spade, Lew Archer, and Phillip Marlow, but tops it off with a wicked sense of humor. The first of the series, Persephone Cole and the Halloween Curse, takes place on New York City’s Broadway stage during World War II, three thousand miles and sixty-odd years away from the California Alvarez Family Murder Mystery series.

Heather Haven, writer
San Jose, California 95135
Heather's blog at:

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Halloween Blogfest: Neil Plakcy


Writing My Way Back Home
As I write this, it’s mid-September, and if I were back in Pennsylvania, where I grew up, there would already be a bit of a nip in the air. Instead, here in Florida, it’s still hot and humid, with temps in the eighties. Is it any wonder I like to return, in my head, to that small town where I grew up?

Suburbia and rural countryside live side by side in Bucks County. I grew up in a suburban neighborhood about a mile from the small town of Yardley. The population of our township then was about 10,000, with another 5,000 in Yardley itself. Though the population has grown, you can still travel from the Victorian gingerbread of downtown, past the suburbs built in the sixties and seventies, and then out into the countryside, where colonial-era fieldstone farmhouses still remain, dotted between newer developments of big houses and even bigger yards.

This is the area I write about in my golden retriever mysteries. I created a small town of my own, Stewart’s Crossing, and placed it just upriver from Yardley, between there and Washington’s Crossing, site of our first president’s Delaware adventure on Christmas Eve 1776. I like to mix in the old downtown, the suburbs and the farmlands, and to portray a place with a lot of history—both national and personal.

One of my favorite parts of autumn growing up was the Yardley Harvest Days Festival, and the flea market held on the grounds of the Friends Meeting House, on Main Street just beyond the old mill pond, now called Lake Afton. More than just a collection of used stuff, it was a way to reconnect with neighbors and friends, to help out local charities and celebrate the yellow and gold leaves of the towering maples and oaks that ringed the property.

The plain one-story meeting house transformed into a makeshift kitchen, where you could buy hot dogs, hamburgers, and Pennsylvania Dutch-style funnel cakes. Pick a homemade brownie or chocolate chip cookie for dessert from the bake sale and wander around the makeshift maze of tables displaying antiques, hand-crocheted tea cozies and old tools salvaged from someone’s garage.

Of course, there are always secrets lurking behind the shadows at the edge of the lot—every town, no matter how large or small, has them. And in my books, all it takes is a divorced guy with some computer hacking skills and a very curious golden retriever to unearth them.

Leave a comment to win an e-book copy of my first Golden Retriever Mystery, IN DOG WE TRUST—any format of the reader’s choice. Read more about my books at

About the Author:
Neil Plakcy’s golden retriever mysteries were inspired by his own golden, Samwise, who was just as sweet as Rochester, though not quite as smart. And fortunately he didn’t have Rochester’s talent for finding dead bodies. Now that Sam has gone on to his big, comfy bed in heaven, his place by Neil’s side has been taken by Brody, a cream-colored golden puppy with a penchant for mischief.

A native of Bucks County, PA, where IN DOG WE TRUST, THE KINGDOM OF DOG and DOG HELPS THOSE are set, Neil is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, Columbia University and Florida International University, where he received his MFA in creative writing. He has written and edited many other books; details can be found at his website,

Neil, his partner, and Brody live in South Florida, where Neil is working on a fourth mystery, and Brody is busily chewing something.

Buy links:

Monday, October 29, 2012

Halloween Blogfest: Judy Alter


Mysteries and Halloween

Tired of hearing reminiscences about the “good old days”? Well, bear with me if I give you one more. I grew up in the fifties on the South Side of Chicago—inner city neighborhood where today I wouldn’t let my grandchildren walk next door alone. But Halloween is one of my fondest memories. At the ages of ten or twelve, I was allowed to roam free, with friends, after dark—and roam we did, through those tiny dark alleyways between apartment buildings where anything (or anyone) could have jumped out at us. The streets were full of kids just like us, and our parents were home passing out treats. It was a grand time of freedom.

By the time my kids were that age, we let them go maybe in the block we lived on, and we stayed on the curb keeping a close watch. They had freedom—but not nearly as much. Today my grandchildren never go trick or treating alone. An adult always accompanies them. And, truth be told, I don’t like to be the adult left home alone to pass out treats. Alone in my own home, I’ve been known to turn out all the lights, bring the dog in, and ignore the doorbell. It made me feel like Scrooge but I also felt safe—some of those trick-or-treaters got pretty darn big. The last few years I’ve sat on my neighbor’s porch, where I can watch my house and enjoy the little kids who come with their parents and their fanciful costumes. They’re sweet, polite, and lots of fun. But there are those occasional over-age ones with an attitude.

To me Halloween is a sad reflection of how our world has changed and how childhood has changed. Kids don’t have the freedom to run and play throughout the neighborhood that older generations enjoyed. Back in the day, during the summer children flew out the door after breakfast, knew to reappear for lunch, and came home when Mom called out “Dinner!” or rang a bell. Unheard of today when we have carefully pre-arranged play dates for our children.

This changing world is reflected in the celebration of Halloween in my three Kelly O’Connell Mysteries—Skeleton in a Dead Space, No Neighborhood for Old Women, and Trouble in a Big Box. Each year the celebration of Halloween grows more constricted for the girls, as danger and threats surround their mother. One of the premises of the series is that danger lurks even in small, seemingly peaceful neighborhoods, and this is never more evident than at Halloween.

Leave a comment on this post for a chance to win a free copy of Trouble in a Big Box, the third Kelly O’Connell Mystery.

Judy Alter

Web site:
Blogs: and
Barnes & Noble:
Turquoise Morning Press:



Long and Short Reviews welcomes Nancy Springer, whose Dark Lies is coming out next month. Nancy is giving away ten signed uncorrected proofs of Dark Lies to randomly drawn commenters.

Nancy has been writing for forty years and Dark Lies is her fifty-fifth published novel. She also has many that have gone unpublished.

"I haven't kept track of that number—perhaps twenty?—because I seldom think about them. I mention them now lest anyone think once you're published you're 'in.' It's not so. Every new novel is as risky as the first," she told me. She was an English Literature major in college and thought she would "fulfill the manifest destiny of the English Literature major, which is to propogate their own kind."

She planned to take a Master's degree and teach in a college or university. However, she got married and her husband's plans changed hers and she found herself living the life of a housewife.

"Dialogues and daydreams filled my mind, so I tried to kill time by writing -- but what? The Great American Novel? I felt no authority. In college I had studied Chaucer, Shakespeare, Milton, Joseph Conrad, Hemingway, Steinbeck and so on and on -- not a single female novelist except Jane Austen," she told me. "The only thing women wrote, obviously, was romance, and everybody knew that was pulp. (Wrong! But that realization came later.) I got no farther than thinking about writing contemporary fiction; I kept running into a nameless and invisible wall. Finally, after several months, it occurred to me that if I were to attempt a fantasy novel somewhat like the works of J.R.R. Tolkien, at least no critic could tell me I had my facts all wrong. So my first published books were mythic fantasy -- ten of them in a row before I started to branch out into other genres."

She didn't immediately think of herself as an author, however. It wasn't until after she had published her first book, written a couple more, retained a literary agent, and signed a nice publishing contract.

"Not, in fact, until the morning I told my husband that, starting that day, I would put my writing first and housework second," she remembered. "I don't remember the date. I should have marked it on my calendar to celebrate on a yearly basis. That may have been the day I saved my own life."

Until that time, she was a "capital-W Wife" in a very traditional marriage, with two preschool children, no job, and no car she could use.

"We lived way out in the country. I raised a vegetable garden; I made my own clothes and those of my children; I cooked inexpensive, labor-intensive meals because we had no money; I did the dishes and the laundry and housecleaning; I played with my children and read to them, and only when I was doing that last thing did I not feel like hell," she admitted. "To help the miserable days pass, I daydreamed, keeping a typewriter set up (this was before word processors) and every once in a while I stole a few minutes from my 'duties' to type a few lines, sometimes a whole paragraph. Even after I was published, I was still a housewife who wrote as a hobby."

She doesn't remember what it was that gave her the courage to say she was going to write every morning for an hour or two before she made the beds, but she did—and went from being a depressed housewife to being a writer with her whole life ahead of her.

"What is your writing space like?" I wondered.

" This is a hoot. At first, circa 1972, my writing space was just spiral-bound notebook in my lap. When I had handwritten the first novel, I needed to type it (original and two carbons) but I didn't own a typewriter and we couldn't afford to buy one, so I offered to be church secretary in order to gain custody of an old Royal. It, along with a ream of paper, resided on a folding card table in one corner of my bedroom, right next to the bathroom.

We moved to another parsonage (Yep, that's why we were poor as church mice. My ever-so-traditional husband was a pastor.) and there was no room for a writing space for me in the bedroom or any other room so I managed to set up a tiny desk in the hallway outside the bathroom. By now I had inherited my older brother's portable Olympia typewriter, small enough to fit the space, and my husband hung a shelf on the wall so I could keep a few reference books within reach. I also taped papers to the wall -- character names, words I habitually misspelled, that sort of thing.

At the next parsonage, upstairs by the bathroom (of course) was the pastor's study, complete with cabinets, shelves, and a desk. My husband didn't want parishioners upstairs, so he set up his office downstairs, and I got the other one. To separate the room into my office and a playroom for the children, we put up a corkboard 'wall,' and wow, I ran amok tacking up maps and pictures of my imaginary worlds, filling the bookshelves, writing as long as I wanted while listening to my children totally trashing their play space. And for the first time I had money enough to buy a typewriter. An electric one.

It was the money from my writing that enabled my husband to quit the ministry, at which point, of course, we had to move out of the parsonage. It was the money from my writing that paid for the house we would live in while he started some kind of new career. The house was a tall, narrow "Vernacular Victorian" rather like a file cabinet. All of those old houses had an interesting floor plan upstairs -- a front bedroom right at the top of the stairs, a back bedroom that had been divided to install an indoor bath (claw-footed tub), and the room in between, which had no doors. It seems the boys were put in the front room with easy access to downstairs, but the girls were put in the back room, where they could not get out of the house at night without walking right past their parents' bed.

Anyway, the room with no doors became my office. Right outside the bathroom, as was becoming traditional. Another tradition was that I never put a clock in my office. The office was an area apart from time.

Because we were no longer living in a parsonage, I could undertake the previously unthinkable, such as tearing up the threadbare carpet, plus patching the cracked walls and painting them the color of my choice! I chose peach, and when it turned out a bit bright, sponge-painted it with a lighter shade -- beautiful. Plus a wallpaper border at the top. Plus a big bookshelf set up as a kind of room divider, books on one side and my desk on the other. I used the back of the bookshelf as the surface on which to tape my lists, my pictures, all my visual aids, including a complicated guide to WordStar, the writing program on my new computer. The desk had a special place for me to set my dot-matrix printer so that the fan-folded paper would flow down onto its own little shelf. I could print out a whole novel in less than a week!

After a while I got a daisy wheel printer.

After another while, my husband left the marriage just as abruptly as he had left the ministry.

After that I no longer felt so fond of my office, and I bought a laptop I could not afford and took to writing in restaurants.

But now I have a new husband, a new residence, and a new office that I like very much. It's in what might have been meant as a nursery, a bedroom too small for a bed, right next to the bathroom of course. As I write this, there's a pink crepe myrtle bush in full bloom outside my window. Beyond are the towering longleaf pines native to the Florida panhandle. I look up at them every time a hummingbird or butterfly passes by. As I type, Mayzie cat rests her chin on my left hand; she likes the feel of my knuckles working against her throat. In the half of the window that's not over the computer I have hung a corkboard so I can tack stuff up, but very little of it has anything to do with business. It's pictures, mostly. Above some low bookshelves I've arranged more pictures on the wall with poster putty -- horses by Marc, a wonderful purple cow print, some silly pix I made myself with crayon and stickers. Behind me is a wall so scarred up it deserved to be covered -- with a cloth shower curtain featuring the original E.H. Shepard Winnie-the-Pooh illustrations. Boxes of foreign editions are stacked in front of it. I hear wind chimes; I've hung them all along the eaves, and I always make sure that the one I can see from my office window is the prettiest.

I'm drinking Diet Pepsi out of a huge cup with Matisse-cut-paper-style tulips on it. Five plastic horses prance on the windowsill right above my laptop. Offices don't get much better than this."

About the Author:
Nancy Springer has passed the fifty-book milestone, having written that many novels for adults, young adults and children, in genres including mythic fantasy, contemporary fiction, magical realism, horror, and mystery -- although she did not realize she wrote mystery until she won the Edgar Allan Poe Award from the Mystery Writers of America two years in succession. DARK LIE is her first venture into mass-market psychological suspense.

Born in Livingston, New Jersey, Nancy Springer moved with her family to Gettysburg, of Civil War fame, when she was thirteen. She spent the next forty-six years in Pennsylvania, raising two children (Jonathan, now 35, and Nora, 31), writing, horseback riding, fishing, and birdwatching. In 2007 she surprised her friends and herself by moving with her second husband to an isolated area of the Florida panhandle, where the birdwatching is spectacular and where, when fishing, she occasionally catches an alligator.

Find Nancy online at,,1000015705,00.html,,9780451238061,00.html Dark_Lie_Nancy_Springer!/NancySpringerNovelist

In this gripping psychological thriller -- smart, chilling, and unrelenting -- Nancy Springer establishes herself as an exciting new suspense writer with a distinctive voice and some surprises up her sleeve...

To their neighbors, Dorrie and Sam Clark seem a contented couple in America's heartland, with steady jobs, a suburban home, and community activities to keep them busy. But they're not quite what they appear to be. For plain, hard-working Sam hides a depth of devotion for his wife that no one would suspect. And Dorrie is living a dark lie -- beset by physical ailments, alone within herself, and unknown to those around her, following the comings and goings of the sixteen-year-old daughter, Juliet, she gave up for adoption when she was hardly more than a child herself.

Then one day at the mall, Dorrie, horror-stricken, sees Juliet being abducted, forced into a van that drives away. Instinctively, Dorrie sends her own car speeding after them -- an act of reckless courage that pits her against a clever, depraved killer, and draws Sam into a dogged, desperate search to save his wife. In a confrontation that unites mother and daughter in a terrifying struggle to survive, Dorrie must face and conquer her own secret, tormented past.

Friday, October 26, 2012

GUEST BLOG and Giveaway: Jenn Nixon


This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Jenn will give away one backlist book at every stop for one lucky commenter, and she and Wild Child Publishing will be awarding a $10 Wild Child Publishing GC to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour. Click on the banner to see the other stops on the tour.

The very first publication I tried to promote was a POD book I’d written in early 2000 before I knew what I was doing as far as publishing was concerned. At the time, I was so excited that someone wanted to publish my book that I didn’t take the time to learn about the business. My first mistake. Being young and internet friendly, I thought I had an edge on other writers out there because I belonged to online groups and communities way before Myspace was a glimmer in Tom’s eye. When the book in question finally came out, I went on an internet spamathon. I hit up all the groups I belonged to and even some I had only just joined so I could promote my book. I was nice and friendly, telling the group members how excited I was to publish my first book and included the blurb, excerpt, and buy links. I must have spent two days posting to about 30 different places. I figured the sales would go through the roof, you know, because my family and friends would buy the book too.

Guess what happened?

I got slammed.


Not only did most of the group and community members call me out for joining the groups just to promote, they ripped apart my blurb and excerpt right in “public” for everyone to see and obviously didn’t buy the book. Mortified is the only word to describe how I felt.

I promptly took everything down, apologized to a few of the groups that I had belonged to, and crawled into a hole for a while.

But then something else happened.

One of the group members contacted me. She was very nice, honest, and helpful. Her first suggestion to me was to find a writer’s group. It was the best advice ever. I wish I still had her email address so I could thank her properly, but it got lost in the shuffle long ago.

The second thing that came from all of this was realizing that said book was pretty bad. Some of it was my fault, some of it was editing. Either way, I knew I had so much to learn about writing be it the process, submitting, editing, and/or dealing with publishers.

I took the advice and criticism to heart, joined a writers group, did hours and hours of research online, and eventually learned the correct way to promote without making an ass out of myself.

I think that first, extremely hard lesson helped me develop a thick skin rather quickly. I tend to be defensive when confronted, but when it’s online and it’s already there and you have to actually take the time to write a response back, it gives you moment to reflect and absorb what was said in the first place. Mostly everything the people in those groups said about my writing was true. It was crap. I freely admit it. One cannot get better if they don’t learn from their mistakes. I’ve learned.

I learned that everyone has an opinion. If the negative feedback is constructive, I’ll always listen. If the negative feedback is based on style, well, there isn’t much I can do about that. If the negative feedback is hurtful on purpose, I’ll just curse at the screen, take a deep breath, and then let it go. Being mean just to be mean is something I’ve dealt with for many years, so I will always take it for what it is, bullying.

Negative feedback can be a blessing in disguise too. As a writer, we are sometimes too close to a project to see the whole picture clearly. Editors, publishers, reviewers, and readers can all give valuable negative criticism if done correctly. And, as weird as this may seem, I can’t wait to get some more of it in the future. While I know you can’t please everyone all the time, honest and helpful negative feedback will only make me a better writer in the future.

About the Author:Jenn’s love of writing started the year she received her first diary and Nancy Drew novel. Throughout her teenage years, she kept a diary of her personal thoughts and feelings but graduated from Nancy Drew to other mystery suspense novels.

Jenn often adds a thriller and suspense element to anything she writes be it Romance, Science Fiction, or Fantasy. When not writing, she spends her time reading, observing pop culture, playing with her two dogs, and working on various charitable projects in her home state of New Jersey.

Find Jenn online at

Twitter: @jennnixon

To protect her family and find a killer, Felicia "Lucky" Fascino assumed her adoptive father's identity and joined the network of moral assassins to finish the job he began. Eliminating the man responsible for murdering her mother has consumed her for the last five years. Completing the job is the only way Lucky and her family can return to a safe and normal life. Lucky's uncle, Stephen Chambers, hasn't come close to tracking the killer. He announces he's stepping down as her handler to concentrate on the investigation and names Elizabeth, his daughter, as successor.

Keeping secrets is a family trait, and Elizabeth's addition to the business tests Lucky's ability to maintain the pretense that the job doesn't affect her despite the fact that all network hits are hardened criminals. While keeping her family at arm's length, Lucky begins to feel the weight of her career choice and reclusive lifestyle. Then a chance encounter with an enigmatic hit man during one of her jobs turns into a provocative and dangerous affair. Distracted by the secret trysts with Kenji Zinn and mounting tension within her family, Lucky starts to make mistakes that threaten her livelihood and almost claim her life. When her family is targeted, Lucky must make several rash decisions she believes can save them and preserve her own sanity.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012




More basically, why exit from a business with a good regular paycheck to a business where the financial rewards are uncertain? Why exchange a suit for a casual shirt and jeans? I get asked these questions a lot, and they are in fact questions I ask myself.

Let's start with a disclaimer. I haven't entirely abandoned the practice of law. This is work I've done for more than thirty years, and old habits die hard. Besides, I like it. More important is the fact that the legal work I do provides fuel for the novels I write. A criminal case or even a civil lawsuit involves a story, a narrative. Part of the function of a lawyer is to shape the narrative -- not to fabricate facts but to tell a story.

Creating fiction, however, does give me a license to do more than just shape the narrative of a case. In writing a novel I have the ability and the incentive to weave imagined events together, to create personalities and personal histories, to generate intrigue and conflict. In practicing law, I’m confined by facts -- and those facts can be extremely interesting given the nature of the work I do -- but there are no such constraints in writing fiction.

There's another factor. Law is a highly regulated business. No matter how independent you may be as a lawyer, there are people known as judges. They require you to do specific things on their schedule, not on yours. They want you to do things their way, not necessarily yours. They tend to have outsized personalities -- wearing a robe can transform a guy or gal who in civilian clothes is demure and shy into a muscled-up action figure. And there are also clients. They get to call you in the middle of the night.

The external controls on fiction-writing are different. Sure, an editor can set "deadlines" but those are more goals and aspirations rather than drop-dead dates. You can be disbarred for missing a judge-imposed deadline if you do that too often. The worst a publisher can do is get mad at you.

But the most important reason for transforming myself into a novelist from a practicing lawyer is the beauty of transformation. The stuff of a novelist's life is different from the stuff of a lawyer's life. Creating novels is a liberating experience; you can let loose your imagination. I find I can have a passion and a drive that, even though I’ve loved practicing law, I can't completely tap into in a courtroom. You hear commencement speakers constantly delivering to young graduates the trite mandate to "follow your passions." As you move through life and hit the jarring realities of jobs, families and obligations, you can get cynical about those conventional admonitions to follow your passions, live out your dreams, and fulfill your talents.

But those inspirational messages do have meaning, at least for yours truly. Even a lawyer can break out of the constraints of the life he or she has lived. There is something invigorating, even for a seasoned adult, in taking risks and having the courage to give up security and embrace something unknown, strange, exciting -- fresh.

About the Author:
Paul Batista, novelist and television personality, is one of the most widely known trial lawyers in the country. As a trial attorney, he specializes in federal criminal litigation. As a media figure, he is known for his regular appearances as guest legal commentator on a variety of television shows including, Court TV, CNN, HLN and WNBC. He’s also appeared in the HBO movie, You Don't Know Jack, starring Al Pacino.

A prolific writer, Batista authored the leading treatise on the primary federal anti-racketeering statute, Civil RICO Practice Manual, which is now in its third edition (Wiley & Sons, 1987; Wolters Kluwer, 2008). He has written articles for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The National Law Journal.

Batista's debut novel, Death's Witness, was awarded a Silver Medal by the Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA). And his new novel, Extraordinary Rendition, is now being published—along with a special reissue of Death’s Witness—by Astor + Blue Editions.

Batista is a graduate of Bowdoin College, where he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa, and Cornell Law School. He’s proud to have served in the United States Army. Paul Batista lives in New York City and Sag Harbor, New York.

When Ali Hussein—suspected terrorist and alleged banker for Al Qaeda—is finally transported from Gitmo to the US mainland to stand trial, many are stunned when Byron Carlos Johnson, pre-eminent lawyer and the son of a high-profile diplomat, volunteers as counsel. On principle, Johnson thought he was merely defending a man unjustly captured through Rendition and water-boarded illegally. But Johnson soon learns that there is much more at stake than one man’s civil rights.

Hussein’s intimate knowledge of key financial transactions could lead to the capture of—or the unabated funding of—the world’s most dangerous terror cells. This makes Hussein the target of corrupt US intelligence forces on one side, and ruthless international terrorists on the other. And, it puts Byron Carlos Johnson squarely in the crosshairs of both.

Pulled irresistibly by forces he can and cannot see, Johnson enters a lethal maze of espionage, manipulation, legal traps and murder. And when his life, his love, and his acclaimed principles are on the line, Johnson may have one gambit left that can save them all; a play that even his confidants could not have anticipated. He must become the hunter among hunters in the deadliest game.

Written by no-holds-barred-attorney Paul Batista, Extraordinary Rendition excels not only as an action thriller, but as a sophisticated legal procedural as well; tearing the curtains away from the nation’s most controversial issues.

Provocative. Smart. Heart-pounding. A legal thriller of the highest order.

Monday, October 15, 2012

GUEST BLOG: Sandra de Helen


This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Sandra will be awarding the winner's choice of a backlist eBook to a randomly drawn commenter at every stop, and a $25 Amazon GC to one commenter from the tour. Click on the tour banner above to see the other stops on her tour.

Lessons I learned from Shirley Combs:

. Observe, pay attention to details
. Get someone else to take notes so you can keep observing
. Have a day job that earns you money so you can pursue your true passion
. It'd be great if your clients in your day job can afford to hire you for your passion job too
. Network, network, network
. You don't have to wear high heels to make money
. You can impress people with your brain as much as you can impress them with your [fill in the blank]
. Science is totally cool
. People are so impressed when you can tell them about themselves from things you have simply observed
. Now you're going to expect me to dazzle you when we meet at a book signing. Me and my big mouth

10 things most people don't know about you

. I dropped out of school after 10th grade (well, I was kicked out for being preggers)
. I married at 15 (see above)
. I went back to school at 29, got a degree in Economics, finished a thesis towards my Masters
. I once lived at the bottom of the Grand Canyon on the Havasupai Reservation
. I've been to 4 continents, and 48 states
. I've taken the Nile River Boat Cruise (8 days)
. I've backpacked in the Olympic Mountains
. I've ridden a mule
. I've ridden a camel
. My sister keeps forgetting that what I write is fiction

About the Author:
Sandra de Helen lives and writes in Portland, Oregon. See more of her work at de Helen is also a proud member of the Dramatists Guild and International Centre for Women Playwrights.

Follow her on Twitter @dehelen
Read her blog
Like her on Facebook at

Tall, thin, androgynous Shirley Combs considers herself the world’s greatest living detective because she uses the methods and casebook of Sherlock Holmes to solve crimes of the gentry of the American city most closely resembling London, England -- in terms of the weather, at least. Sidekick/narrator Dr. Mary Watson both delights in and is frustrated by her partner’s behavioral resemblance to Sherlock. Combs is unemotional, analytical, and given to pacing through the night in the streets of the almost perfectly livable city of Portland, Oregon. Her ability to observe details and understand their relationship to a case is unmatched; her demands on Watson’s time are too.

Shirley Combs bills herself as the world’s greatest living detective, and why not? Taunted and teased as a child because her name sounded so much like Sherlock Holmes's, she developed an early obsession with the adventures and methods of Sherlock himself. She considered her fate sealed when she met up with Dr. Mary Watson. Shirley adds the technology of today to Holmes’s 100-year-old casebook and solves the mysteries of her much-beloved hometown. Mary Watson assists, and - of course - chronicles their exciting exploits. The planned series of novels incorporates and explores current events, types of people, social/economic situations that occur in Portland and the Pacific Northwest.

In their first documented adventure, Shirley is hired by 19-year-old Goldenhawk Vandeleur to investigate her wealthy mother’s untimely death. Timber heiress Priscilla Vandeleur Leoni, direct descendant of Sir Charles Baskerville, decides to spend the family fortune saving the old-growth forests of Oregon. She is a product of the 1960’s - former hippie and free-love advocate who gave birth out-of-wedlock, experimented with lesbian separatism, and married late. When faced with midlife, she tries to outrun her fears and give away her huge fortune. Haunted by a phobia of dogs, she is literally frightened to death by a pair of hounds.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

GUEST BLOG: pm terrell


This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. The author will be awarding a $25 Amazon GC to one randomly drawn commenter during the tour. Click on the tour banner above to see the other stops on the tour--remember the more you comment, the better your chances.

My Favorite Vacation Destination

I write my books while sitting at my office desk or in my living room and most of the time I am fine with that. The world seems to fade around me as the scenes I am writing become more vivid. Yet when I watched Love, Actually and I saw Colin Firth writing at the edge of a beautiful lake, something within me stirred.

My favorite vacation destination would be a simple cottage in a rural area of Ireland where I could write to my heart’s content. From the cottage windows or lawn, I could see the gently rolling green hills and the purple heads of lavender swaying to one side with the soft breeze. As I turn to face the other direction, the natural beauty of a pond greets me, the breeze skipping over the surface of the water like faeries dancing. The water reflects the blue skies above me as the clouds clear away from the mist that greets me each morning.

The mist is welcomed each morning like nature’s way of refreshing the endless variety of green grasses and trees; of watering the bounty of flowers that nod and greet me as I pass by. The mists clear the dust from the door and the cobwebs from my brain as I awaken to the wonder around me.

A meandering path barely wide enough for a car stretches off into the distance; a road that takes me to the nearest village when solitude is no longer needed. And on a lazy afternoon, I might wander into that village with its quaint shops, the pubs that smell of sweetbreads and rye, the sidewalk cafes that beckon me to sit and watch the leisurely pace of the residents.

This isn’t a tourist destination but a village tucked far away from the fast pace of ordinary life. It is a step back in time when life felt unhurried, when tasks at hand need not be rushed by the hands of the clock, where beauty is there to be admired and loved.

I return home for dinner; a dinner for two, of course, with sweet wine and sweeter lips… Candlelight, the warmth of a fireplace on a cool evening; and as a restful rain sets in, it’s the perfect time to curl up beneath scented sheets and to while away the evening in another’s arms.

Then tomorrow and each day of my vacation, I will perform exactly the same routine.

About the Author:
p.m.terrell is the award-winning, internationally acclaimed author of more than 16 books, including Vicki's Key, a 2012 International Book Awards finalist, and River Passage, 2010 Best Fiction & Drama winner. She is the co-founder of The Book 'Em Foundation whose slogan is "Buy a Book and Stop a Crook" and the co-chair of Book 'Em North Carolina Writers Conference & Book Fair. For more information, visit

Other places online to find the author:
Twitter: @pmterrell
Facebook: Patricia M. Terrell

In Secrets of a Dangerous Woman, Dylan Maguire is back in his first assignment with the CIA: to interrogate recently captured Brenda Carnegie. But when she escapes again, it's obvious she's had help from within the CIA's own ranks. With Vicki Boyd's assistance, Brenda is back in Dylan's custody. And now he must find out why some in the highest levels of our government want her dead while others are willing to risk everything to help her. And when he discovers Brenda's real identity, his mission has just become very personal.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012



Long and Short Reviews welcomes Zillah Anderson whose debut book The Inheritance has recently been released by No Boundaries Press. Leave a comment on this interview to win a download of the book. Her most recent book, Knocking Down Heaven's Door, is the story of a small town teen girl who feels misunderstood and is an outsider.

"For various reasons she gets stuck going to church camp one summer and struggles to balance out her views of religion with her awkward social life and her quirky love of classic rock. It’s an odd combination of themes, but the main character is so out there and snarky that it was a blast to write!" she said. "I’m not a total cynic. I like having stories that explore deep themes and can offer a little bit of hope. I think as we grow up we forget how our lives really were as teens and get scared about portraying anything that might be controversial or indecent in that age frame. Let’s face it – adolescence is awkward and controversial because you’re stuck with trying to balance out how you’re told life is supposed to be with what you’re actually going through. It’s when you’ve got to start figuring out what you really feel about things in your life, and getting to explore that through music and a smart-mouthed character was a lot of fun."

"How do you come up with the titles to your books?" I wondered.

"I try to tie into the theme without being too clever. The Inheritance refers to the fact that the two characters are father and daughter, and despite having a strained relationship the father has passed on a certain way of looking at the world to his daughter. With Knocking Down Heaven’s Door it’s a play on the Dylan song, but I wanted something that encompassed the classic rock theme, the spiritual theme, and the fact that the character is very blunt and can be in people’s faces. She’s cynical and snarky. She’s not one to just wait around for an answer."

Zillah has always loved stories and has been drawn to what happens to characters. She was always encouraged to read a lot of different types of books, and she's always had a pretty wild imagination.

"I feel like growing up in the eighties helped – the cartoons and kids stories were much more out there than things today," she explained. "It was perfectly fine for parents to take their kids to movies where the Care Bears battled Necronomicon-like books and My Little Ponies faced world-destroying ooze. As I grew up I started really getting fascinated by how people interact and react to each other. As young people we’re fed a lot of lines on how we’re supposed to feel about people and things, and what the 'right' way to approach a situation is. And those things just aren’t true. I love dealing with plots or subplots that bring up those interactions or uncomfortable feelings that people don’t want to admit to, and I like turning situations on their heads."

Zillah's a fan of clever plots and a lot of detail, but they have to come from somewhere. At the end of the day, stories about the people that make them up. Magic and romance are great, but Zillah wants to know how those things affect the characters—not just that A happens then B happens then C happens before a clever plot-twist and more narration.

"I want there to be tangents that give me a clue how these people react to things so later on when something intense starts to happen I’ll already know that it’s gearing up to be a fabulous part of the book because the characters are going to deal with it in a way that makes me want to read more," she said. "I feel like we’ve gotten into this age of formulas, where everyone’s looking for the next big thing and books can be five hundred pages without much really happening. It’s frustrating. At the end of the day, I’m a reader. I will read anything – it can be about regular people or abominable snowmen for all I care. If the characters are believable and the author is really working to make me care about them, then I’ll definitely stay with it to the end. If I feel like it’s more of a fleshed-out outline or things get bogged down by vague events that I’m supposed to care about then can’t, I’m not going to feel compelled to finish the book. And if that’s the case then I’m not going to just shrug my shoulders about that title, I probably will recommend other titles instead."

"Do you ever suffer from writer’s block?" I asked. "If so, what do you do about it?"

"Sometimes I move on to a different story if it’s not something that’s contracted. I tend to be a little creative ADD so at times bouncing from one thing to the other helps and makes me feel like I’m accomplishing something. Sometimes I just need to put it away and let the idea ferment on its own. Ideas are sneaky like that – they like to be missed and sneak up on you unawares, especially in the car or the shower. And sometimes, especially if I know I’m just procrastinating I really have to just focus and push through it and fix anything I deem unworthy later on. Sometimes it just takes getting things on paper. It’s like exercising: it’s good for you and there are days you just aren’t feeling it, but once you get started it’s almost always better."

"What advice would you give a new writer just starting out?" I asked.

"Read a lot and read everything. The point isn’t to read to figure out a specific formula – it’s to get a lot of different things in your consciousness and to see what works for you and what doesn’t. I will admit that I get frustrated with people who only read the hot YA-oriented releases. I love Harry Potter as much as anyone and I think it’s fairly well-written, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t read Dumas or Clive Barker or Shakespeare or nonfiction. Read outside your comfort zone, especially if you’re a new writer. And you definitely have to keep trying and not take rejection too personally. There’s no magic bullet. Even when you start to get published it’s up to you to promote yourself and put yourself out there. There’s no 'this is it – it’s gonna be great!' Like a lot of artistic ventures it’s a lot more work than people realize. That being said – it’s totally worth it but you’re going to have exhausting weeks just like anyone else. I firmly believe that if a writer’s stories are good enough they can get noticed and get published – but it depends on where they’re trying to submit to and how hard they’re trying. I submit mass amounts of things to different places at a time and keep track of it all in a file. If something gets rejected I look it over to make sure there’s no formatting errors that I’ve missed and send it right back out to somewhere else. It’s a lot like dating: you have the questionable places and the places that just aren’t the right fit for you right now, but if you really want it and keep trying you’re going to find at least one place that clicks with you."

About the Author: Zillah Anderson is a Midwest girl who’s a sucker for an unusual idea. Since a tender age she’s been fascinated by the strange and unusual and loves to incorporate even the oddest plot twists into her stories. Her story ‘Monster’ appeared in the 2011 Wicked East Press anthology Halloween Frights vol. III. Her e-books include The Inheritance and the upcoming Knocking Down Heaven’s Door, both with No Boundaries Press, and Power Chord with Rebel Ink Press. On her blog she likes to focus life irritation into alter egos and sometimes writes under the guise of Mary Sue and The Overlady. Never one to settle for the mundane road in life, she spends her time writing and plotting ways to achieve her true life purpose: total world domination.

Find Zillah online at


Kaylee has one night to re-connect with her ailing father, but they don’t have much to talk about. Inspired, she decides to read him a story that eerily mirrors their relationship. She wants to bury the hatchet so badly, but all she can remember are the pranks Zachary pulled and in an attempt to make parenthood interesting. But long ago Kaylee learned his Achilles heel, the one silly object that could undo him and change the balance in their relationship. Should she use it? Will she? Find out what happens when love and forgiveness become twisted by anger, retaliation, and disconnect.

Thursday, October 4, 2012



This post part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Jennifer will provide two $20 Amazon GCs and five copies of Thoroughly Modern Monsters, her short story collection to randomly drawn commenters during the tour. The grand prize to one randomly drawn commenter will be a $25 Amazon Gift card, a copy of These Hellish Happenings (her first novel) and a copy of Thoroughly Modern Monsters. Click on the tour banner above to see the other stops on her tour.

I live life with my hand constantly hovering over the panic button.

I’m not always the calmest person in the world. I occasionally, well… freak out. This is not very conducive to productive writing days (or productive days in general, for that matter). Whether it’s over a deadline or a spider I saw lurking in the corner of my bedroom, these freak-outs are not very appreciated.

However, just because I’m prone to panicking does not mean my characters are. The Beldam’s Eye focuses on two paranormal investigators, Mr. Bramble and Mr. Yeats. If you were to look up the phrase “cool as a cucumber” in the dictionary, you would most assuredly see Yeats’s face. He battles evil spirits without breaking a sweat!

Writing a character as calm and collected as Yeats has taught me a few tips about keeping my cool, tips which I will share with you.

1. Keep everything in perspective. They always say not to sweat the small stuff… and it’s all small stuff. This is mostly true. What seems like it may be the end of the world, probably isn’t.

2. Take it one step at a time. Yeats can get into some fairly sticky situations as a paranormal professional, but he remembers to take everything step by step, case by case. Looking too far ahead into the future can be overwhelming.

3. Music soothes the savage beast. If I’m feeling a little stressed, I put on my favorite tunes. Yeats prefers the grunge he listened to while growing up, while I prefer folk music, but you can listen to whatever floats your calm little boat.

4. Indulge every once in a while. It keeps you chilled out. Yeats smokes. I have asthma, so I don’t smoke, but the occasional piece of chocolate seems to work just fine for me.

5. When all else fails, just think of a calm, blue ocean in your mind. Yeats only resorts to this in dire situations (such as when his business partner is being held ransom).

And there you have it! I can’t thank Mr. Antony Yeats enough for his help. Through writing him, I have learned to keep my hand a good foot or so from the panic button, rather than hovering right above it.

About the Author:
Jennifer Rainey was raised by wolves who later sold her to gypsies. She then joined the circus at the age of ten. There, she was the flower girl in the famed Bearded Bride of Beverly Hills show until the act was discontinued (it was discovered that the bearded lady was actually a man). From there, she wandered around the country selling novelty trucker hats with vaguely amusing sayings printed on front. Somehow, she made enough money to go to The Ohio State University for a major in English.

Find Jennifer online at