Monday, August 27, 2012

A Little Murder -- A Little Mayhem -- A Little Faith: You Gotta Meet Lillian.

Lillian Duncan lives in Ohio with her husband, four parrots, one Jack Russell, and a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. She’s been a Speech Pathologist for over thirty years

She writes stories of faith mingled with murder & mayhem. Tired of having to skip over all the four letter words and explicit sex scenes of traditional suspense, she writes the type of books she loves to read—suspense with a touch of romance.

Whether as an educator, a writer, or a speech pathologist, she believes in the power of words to transform lives, especially God’s Word.

To learn more about Lillian and her books, visit: She has a devotional blog at: Her most recent releases are PURSUED (White Rose Publishing) and DECEPTION (Harbourlight Books).
Being innocent and proving it are two different things, especially when a powerful politician is involved 

Tessa’s life spiraled out of control after the death of her only child, and she finds herself in a dark alley on a cold wintry night where she witnesses a murder, and almost becomes his second victim. Homeless and alone, she knows the authorities won’t believe someone like her, leaving her only one option—to run.


Angry and loud penetrated her alcohol-induced sleep. Cold. Very cold. Shivering, Tessa pressed against the wall for warmth, but not wanting to be seen either.
She didn’t like people. Being alone was better. Not good to trust people. People hurt you, stole from you, did things to you.
She shuddered.
A man’s voice filled with rage broke through the fuzziness. “How could you betray me, Willie? You of all people.”
 “I don’t know what you’re talking about. What is it you think I did?” A different voice, confused.
Tessa opened her eyes to nothing but a blur. After blinking several times her vision cleared. Two men stood by a car parked in the alley.
A single light above the pizza restaurant’s door lit up the intruders  
She pressed further into the wall, willing herself invisible.
Her alley.
They should go away and find their own place. Something was in her arms. She looked down. Her baby. Had to keep Michaela safe. She couldn’t let her get hurt this time. Clutching the baby to her breast, Tessa wished the men would go away.
Her stomach queasy, she tried not to breathe in the fetid smell of the dumpster
“My wife, Willie” The man in a long overcoat said as he inched closer to the other. The anger and hatred in his voice scared her. “You remember my wife, don’t you?”
“Your w…w….ife?”  The man called Willie faced her. Older than her and dressed in nice warm clothes. “What about your wife?”
“I’m not going to play this game, Willie. I know. Did you really think I wouldn’t find out? She told me everything. She told me all about your affair. No wonder you kept coming home on the opposite weekends I did. I trusted you, Willie” Overcoat Man shook his head as if he was sad, but Tessa didn’t believe him. His body told a different story.       His clenched fists didn’t look sad—only angry.
She hugged Michaela closer. Keep Michaela safe. Maybe she could crawl to the end of the alley without being seen? It seemed like miles...but if she was quiet...maybe she could do it. Maybe they wouldn’t notice her since they were arguing.
“You, of all people, know I don’t tolerate betrayal or theft. You’ve seen what happens to people who betray me. I can’t believe you did this to me, Willie.”
Willie stepped back but the car blocked his movement. “This is ridiculous. I didn’t have an affair with your wife. That’s just crazy and I’m not listening any more. I’m leaving.”
 Overcoat man stepped closer to Willie. “She belongs to me. She’s my property. You shouldn’t have done it.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about. I swear. I don’t know who told you such a ridiculous thing, but it’s a lie. I…I…wouldn’t do that to you and everyone knows how much she loves you.”
The man threw his head back and laughed as if Willie had told a very funny joke, but she hadn’t thought Willie’s words were funny. Then, the laughing stopped.
Tessa couldn’t control her trembling.
Had to get away. Had to keep Michaela safe. Fumbling in the dark, she found her backpack. Her fingers curled around it and she moved to a crawling position
She hit the baby’s head on the dumpster.
The metal clang reverberated down the alley and to the men.
Oh, no. Not good for a baby to hit their head. She looked down. Her stomach twisted. Not Michaela. Just an old dirty doll. Still, she held its head to keep from hitting it again.
The Overcoat Man looked in her direction.
Tessa froze. Couldn’t breathe. If he saw her, he would hurt them. She cowered, hoping the darkness hid them.
After a moment, he turned back toward Willie. He placed his hand in his pocket. Tessa’s heart pounded like a locomotive, but she was safe. She’d kept Michaela safe—this time.
His hand moved out of his pocket. Something silvery and shiny glistened.
A knife.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

The Real Old Days

Looking at things the way they once were...
How I see it

By Paisley Kirkpatrick

Digging for gold from early dawn until dusk was definitely a backbreaking job, but those men who traveled across country and from around the world had the fever. They wanted their chance at that BIG gold strike. My great, great grandfather was one of them. Luckily for us, he kept a journal during his journey. It was so well written that it rests under glass in the Bancroft Library at the University of California, Berkeley.

Can you imagine a miner had to find an ounce of gold a day to just break even? Most miners barely found enough for daily expenses. The peak production of placer gold occurred in 1853. Every year after that, more and more men arrived in California, but less gold was found.  Thousands of disillusioned gold seekers returned home with little to show for their endeavors, glad to escape with their health. A fair share remained, searching for a job. They became the backbone to the settling of California. My grandfather ended up not going for the gold, but setting up his medical practice instead. A lot of fortunes were made not in the gold fields, but in supplying goods, meals, and comfort.

I found this rebuilding of the lives and communities an exciting time in history. My story Paradise Pines Series: Night Angel is set after the boom, when many miners, broke and looking for wages, stayed in Paradise Pines, a town developed during the gold rush. Some let disappointment send them into lives of drink and gambling. Others pulled together to rebuild their town and setup businesses, some of which still stand today in Placerville, the town I fashioned this community after. My hero anonymously gives aid to these downtrodden townsfolk by traveling through abandoned tunnels under the town. When the heroine comes to town with hopes of rebuilding her life, he wants to keep her in town and promises he'll make her dream of having her own music hall a reality.  

Paisley Kirkpatrick is one of the fellow authors I am pleased to share with your from Desert Publishing. Paisley, who writes her stories in a different and unique way also opens the doors for us to take another look at the past and how it became such a part of our lives today.

Check out more about Paisley and her writing over at

Monday, August 13, 2012

She Writes by the Seat of her Pants

From childhood, K. Victoria Chase enjoyed writing stories and plays and reading Christian romance. She received degrees in Criminal Justice and Diplomacy and worked as a federal law enforcement officer for several years before deciding to try her hand at writing a complete novel. Serial Games (Virginia Justice Book One) is the third completed work and the first published by Desert Breeze Publishing. Book two of the series, Marked by the Mob, will be released in November 2012. She has recently signed with Astraea Press for the first in her Santiago Brothers series, Rafael. Until she can make writing a full-time venture, K. Victoria Chase continues to work in the field of counterterrorism, identifying potential terrorists that threaten the United States and the world. She currently resides in Leesburg, VA and writes both clean and Christian interracial romance

Shirley: Welcome Tori. How did you come to be a writer?

Tori: I used to write short stories and plays when I was young, but when I was stationed in Colorado Springs, I started dreaming scenes of a love story and decided I needed to go ahead and do what I’d been considering for years: write a complete novel. Since I didn’t have any friends in Colorado (sad, I know), I had plenty of time to hammer out a 120k+ novel set in 1960s Alabama.

Shirley: Tell us how you come up with your characters.

Tori: This is a tricky question; they just come to me. Whether I’m listening to music or watching television, a shell of a character will come to me--usually a manly man (of course) and a strong heroine who needs to fall hard, haha.

Shirley: Of all the characters you've created, which is your favorite and why?

Tori:  Oh boy, another tough question. Hmmm, I’m writing a romance set in post-Apocalyptic United States, complete with zombies, and I’d have to say the hero, Roman, is my favorite character. He is a mix of hard and tenderness, a person who can make the tough decisions, but readily accepts the influence of a woman. I’m going to love writing his love story because he’s a man who needs a woman to love--you know the type? ;-)

Shirley: What accomplishment(s) are you most proud of, writing-related or not? 

Tori: Writing related, I just landed on Amazon’s Top 100 Multicultural Romance Bestseller list reaching #65 for my newest release, Rafael: The Santiago Brothers Book One. This is a Christian interracial romantic suspense and it’s a real pleasure to see a book with a clean romance with a religious theme right there with the spicy books.

Shirley: How long does it normally take you to write a book? How many books do you write per year? 

Tori: This year I’ve planned to write four books. As an e-published author, readers will forget about you if you don’t publish every quarter. I can write a book in as little as two months, and actually prefer a deadline since I’m such a procrastinator--and I work well under pressure. My first book took me eight months, the next thirty days, and the following three books I spent about two months or so on each.

Shirley: Wow! That's impossible for me! What kind of planning do you do before writing a novel?

Tori:  I write by the seat of my pants. Normally, I’ll start writing a kissing scene and then return to the beginning of the novel. After a couple of chapters in, I’ll write a short paragraph summary for each chapter detailing the main POV, the GMC (goal, motivation, conflict) and whatever backstory I need to introduce, then I’ll continue writing. Why the disorder? I’m too impatient  to write the summaries first! Only when I’m forced to chart some sort of a path will I, well, chart.

Shirley: In your opinion, what is the greatest danger or pitfall in the life of a writer?

Tori: I think not finishing the novel is the biggest pitfall. So many people are working on the same manuscript day in, day out, year in, year out. Just finish it. It won’t be perfect. People draft their stories over and over and you know what? By the time you write ‘the end’ (if you ever get there) the story would have changed. That’s one good thing about being a pantser (writing by the seat of your pants): you aren’t hindered by a sudden plot change and aren’t forced to restructure the whole plot--we just ‘go with it.’ I don’t mean to trivialize anyone’s writing process, but bestselling authors have said the same thing: finish the story. Honestly, you’re not going to learn every writing technique before you finish and you certainly won’t master them in your first manuscript; don’t get hung up on any excuse that has kept you from writing, ‘the end.’ Think about the amount of time you’ve spent on your current WIP (work in progress) and know that somewhere else, another writer has probably finished multiple stories and has published at least one, if not a few, AND is probably contracted on a few of them as well. That can be you. We want to read your novel, so finish it!

Shirley: What is the best lesson you have learned from another writer?

Tori: Other than write enough novels to publish one every quarter, and learning about Debra Dixon’s GMC book (wonderful tool), I’d have to say the best lesson was to submit my work often and to many industry professionals. If I hadn’t, and kept myself limited to CBA (Christian Book Association) agents/publishers, I wouldn’t be published today.

Shirley: I couldn't agree with you more. Tell us how you best reach new readers.

Tori: I still believe word of mouth is probably my biggest marketing technique. I know a few readers have found me on reader/writer forums such as Absolute Write and on Goodreads, but I’ve had just as many or more people tell me they’ve recommended my books to other readers. Plus, I blog fairly regularly on my publishing experiences.

Shirley: Good advice. If you were in the middle of a book signing, what would be the first question you would ask the potential reader?

Tori: How did you discover my book? I’ve read that social media (such as Twitter) does little to influence people to buy an author’s book, so I’d like to know if they bought the book because of a search in that category on Amazon, or if they heard about it through the reader “grapevine.”

Readers: Checki out how you can connect with Tori. And be sure to write in and answer Tori to get a chance to win a copy.

The Santiago Brothers Book One: Rafael

 The last time Detective Genie Green let a man humiliate her was her college sweetheart—never again. Yet, when former high school lothario Rafael Santiago returns to town as the consulting detective on her case, Genie’s rule of never allowing another man to best her is challenged. Can she trust him long enough to solve this case and get the glory?

Rafa can’t seem to outrun his delinquent past. When The Snakes, a criminal organization he used to belong to, begin murdering people from his hometown, he has a chance to right some of his past wrongs. Will arresting the murderers be enough to redeem him, or will a certain beautiful detective pay the ultimate price instead?

Buy Links:     Amazon     B&N     Publisher

Virginia Justice Book One: Serial Games 

FBI profiler Maggie Weston has a reputation for identifying the most gruesome of killers. But her reputation is put on the line when US Marshal Brandon Worth walks into her office with news the one case that haunted her the most, John Michael Burrows, has escaped federal custody. Brandon needs her help; she understands how Burrows thinks and the best tracker on the east coast isn't about to pass up her expertise. Maggie and Brandon have to work together to catch a serial murderer and the closer they get to Burrows, the more their hearts become involved. While insecurities and bitterness threaten a budding relationship between Maggie and Brandon, an elusive killer terrorizes a small Virginia county with a game he plans on winning. 

A Christian interracial romantic suspense.


     Maggie's eyes slowly traveled the width of the elevator door until they found Brandon's reflection in the mirrored panels lining the inside of the car. Broad shoulders rippled down to muscular biceps that contracted with the force he used to grip the rail behind him.
     She needed to assert herself now.
     I'm going to go over some of the documentation the district attorney's office faxed us to see if I might be able to find the missing link enabling Burrows to escape custody."
     Brandon's eyes narrowed. Obviously business wasn't what he wanted to hear, and how easily he could read her discomfort troubled her. He had an uncanny knack for interpreting her body language. What did that mean? Whatever it meant, she didn't have the time to analyze it now. She straightened her shoulders. "Knowing who helped him escape can perhaps shed some light on his next move."
     Brandon's level stare remained.
     Ok, he's not buying it. Regardless, I refuse to fall...
     "Do you forgive me?"
     "What?" The question about forgiveness startled her. He had apologized but she wasn't interested in discussing it. All she wanted to do was wash the smoke out of her hair and crash. It was going on midnight... or past it; she had lost track of time.
     In one stride he was in front of her, one arm around her waist, the other guiding her chin up. His lips were warm and smooth as they glided over hers. He pulled back and disappointment filled Maggie at the loss of his heat. She stared into the dark thunderstorm whirling in his eyes.
     "Do you forgive me?" His hoarse voice rumbled through to her inner core.
     The elevator bell chimed. Startled, Maggie nearly jumped at the ring. She turned to the console. Her numbered floor illuminated.
     "Saved by the bell." He released her.
     Maggie couldn't resist looking at him. His eyes were veiled but the confident smirk returned. As the elevator doors opened, Maggie wondered who would be the more difficult challenge to overcome: Burrows or Brandon?

Buy Links:     Amazon     B&N     iTunes     Publisher 

Readers: Drop us a line and let us know your thoughts.
See Tori's question for you up above in the red.


Monday, August 6, 2012

A Sure Strategy Toward Writing Successfully...

Excellent bit of advice about the true aspects of writing come our way from Dr. MaryAnn Diorio, one of A Pen for Your Thoughts contributing authors. MaryAnn is a widely published, award-winning author. Her novella, A CHRISTMAS HOMECOMING, will be released by Harbourlight Books in December 2012.

The ABCs of TopNotch Writing 
by MaryAnn Diorio 

            As I was growing up, I thought the writing life was a life of glamour, chocolate, and huge royalty checks.  When I became a writer, I had to make a major paradigm shift in order to survive and succeed in the writing profession.  Some truths I learned along the way—what I call the ABCs of TopNotch Writing—set me free to become the writer God created me to be.
            What are the ABCs of TopNotch Writing?  They are Attitude, Business, and Craft.  Every successful writer pays close attention to each of these in order to build a successful writing career.  Attitude, Business, and Craft form a three-legged stool that will wobble if one or more of the legs is missing.
            Attitude is your mindset toward your writing and toward life in general.  Well-known motivational speaker Zig Ziglar has said that “it is not your aptitude, but your attitude, that determines your altitude.”  So it is with writing.  It is not what happens to you that matters as you build your writing career; it is how you respond to what happens to you.  The circumstance may be out of your control, but your response to the circumstance is not.
            Business is the foundational structure through which you manage your writing career.  Consider the business aspect of writing as the stewardship side. It is here that you serve God in administering, investing, and multiplying the writing gift He has given you for the purpose of building His Kingdom.  The business aspect of writing involves planning, budgeting, and income generation.  It requires constant oversight as you care for the enterprise that the Master has entrusted to you. 
            Craft covers the artistic, creative aspect of your writing career, the aspect that employs the imagination to fashion stories, poems, essays, and articles.  Craft is where writers like to spend most of their time, and rightly so.  But focusing only on Craft while neglecting the Attitude and Business aspects of your writing career will cause your three-legged stool to wobble.  
            So there you have it.  A sure strategy to writing success: Attitude, Business, and Craft.  If you’d like to learn more about the ABCs of TopNotch Writing, check out my e-book for only $0.99 on Amazon at
We'd love to hear from you. What are your thoughts on the ABCs of TopNotch Writing? Drop us a line.