Monday, September 29, 2014

Interview With Author Amryn Cross

Interview With Author Amryn Cross

Please welcome Amryn Cross, author of the US Marshal's series of books. She has graciously agreed to answer a few questions about her debut novel, LEARNING TO DIE, and some personal questions about her as an author. 

In addition, she's giving away a copy of the ebook. All you have to do is comment, and leave your email address. You can spell it out if you prefer. For example: jane(underscore)doe(at)gmail(dot)com

Amryn Cross

Amryn Cross

Thank you so much for agreeing to join us on Sleuths and Suspects.

Where are you from?

I’ve lived in the Knoxville, TN area my entire life, and I wouldn't trade being a southern girl for anything. There’s something in the air around here, especially this time of year, that speaks to me. It’s where I learned, from an early age, to love God, SEC football, and sweet tea.

I hope to visit Tennessee someday. As a Texas girl, I understand the love of the south. Can you tell us your latest news?

I just released my debut novel, Learning to Die, from Desert Breeze Publishing. This book is near and dear to my heart because I’d never had a character speak to me quite as loudly as Kate James did in this book. It’s definitely a suspense novel, but it’s also Kate’s story, and I’m so excited to be able to share it.

Since I've had the privilege of being your critique partner, I love Kate, too. As soon as the book was released, I bought it and plan to start on it very soon. I'm so excited to read it. 
When did you first consider yourself a writer? 

This is a tough one to answer. Probably after I finished a draft of my first novel. Looking back on it now, I see all the problems with it, but it was the first thing I’d written with completely original characters that was of any substantial length. I tend to get bored with things easily, so when I disciplined myself enough to write a 100,000+ word manuscript, I knew I could do this. That’s when the hard work really began—learning the craft, researching new characters and locations, building a support community—but I wouldn't trade it for anything.

I have to say, I love your writing style. Do you have a job other than writing? 

Very few people are fortunate enough to land their one dream job, while I’m blessed to have two. Writing has always been a dream for me—one I didn't take serious until the last five years—but I always planned on having a career outside of it. My day job is as a forensic scientist for a crime lab, and it really is just as cool as it sounds. Thank God he knew exactly what he was doing when he put me there.

Being a forensic scientist must help your writing, in addition to being an awesome job. Who do you credit with supporting you the most in your writing journey? 

There are so many people who've had a hand in this process that I couldn't list them all. However, my family has supported me since day one and made me laugh when I sorely needed it (when you come home from your job working criminal cases and write about murders and suspense, things can get a little dark). My mom and my sister have read everything I’ve written and provided valuable feedback and encouragement. I sat down with the two of them when I began to write Learning to Die, and we plotted out the whole thing at my parent’s kitchen table. They were tossing out ideas faster than I could write them down! And my dad, who really doesn't like to read, believed in me just as much. As far as I know, he’s never read my stories, but his support is just as precious because he believes in me anyway.

Sometimes, those non-readers can be our biggest cheerleaders. Any words of advice for novice writers? 

Keep writing. Seriously, it sounds obvious, but it really wasn't to me. I was so proud for having finished my first novel, I threw all my energy into editing, pitching, and querying that novel. Unfortunately, that didn't leave me much time for writing something new. When I gave myself permission to move on from that story, amazing things started to happen. The only way you’re going to grow and improve as a writer is to write. Learning to Die was the second novel I wrote, and the difference between it and the first is amazing. And when I read the two manuscripts I finished since then, I see even more improvement. Just know that you’re never going to be perfect, but always push to be a little better.

Great advice. The more we write, the better we become. Tell us a little bit about your debut novel. 

Learning to Die picks up with Miami criminalist Kate James who’s hiding a big secret from everyone around her, and it’s slowly killing her spirit. She’s been through something traumatic and never really dealt with it because she had no one to turn to. Instead of processing and grieving, she’s made some bad choices and has reached the point where she’s sure that even God couldn't love this person she’s become.

Back Cover Copy:
Graham Shepherd is a US Marshal who is keeping a secret or tow of his own--at least one of which involves Kate. He's on a mission to save her in every way possible, and she resents it more than a little. Not a great combination since Graham is the marshal in charge of escorting Kate back to her home town to testify in a high profile trial.

Kate and Graham have two separate missions, which don't exactly mesh. Graham just wants to her alive, but Kate will stop at nothing to get justice for her brother. They have to learn to trust each other while staying one step ahead of a man who may be closer than either of them realize.

Purchase Links:

Monday, September 15, 2014

Dog Tags Giveaway (Author Heidi Glick)

Author Bio

Heidi Glick grew up in California but now calls Ohio home. Heidi taught science and edited science documents before becoming an author. She has a passion for writing books (suspense and nonfiction) from the perspective of a Christian worldview. When she's not busy discovering unique ways to wreak havoc upon the lives of her fictional characters, she spends quality time with her family. Her current project includes a co-authored devotional on infertility that is designed to bring hope and encouragement to others.

Dog Tags Blurb

When disabled ex-Marine Mark Graham reconnects with his best friend’s sister, he finds himself falling in love. But Beth Martindale’s presence is a constant reminder of events he’d rather forget. Mark wants to move forward, but the secrets surrounding her brother’s death as well as his own confinement to a wheelchair threaten to tear them apart. When a psychopath who calls himself The Knight fixates on Beth, Mark is determined to give her the protection he failed to give her brother on the battlefield, yet he discovers that a wheelchair isn’t the only impediment he has to keeping Beth safe. Will terror win or can Mark find the strength of mind and body to rescue Beth and find his own redemption?

To enter to win an autographed, paperback copy of Dog Tags:

Leave a comment for the author explaining your favorite fall activity, for example, I like to eat apple pie and ice cream!

Leave your email address (you may spell it out, for example, bobatdotcom).

The giveaway ends on September 29, 2014 and is open to U.S. residents only.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Interview and Book Giveaway With Wanda Dyson

by Jeff Reynolds

It's my pleasure to have one of my favorite authors and victims ... I mean interviewees, Wanda Dyson back for another interview. Since then she has released two new books, and we'll be giving away a copy of the winner's choice of those two titles, which Wanda will be telling you about. Like most authors, I really had to twist her arm to get her to talk about her latest projects. (And if you believe that, I'd sell you the oceanside property next door to us in Indianapolis.)

Besides her awesome suspense stories, she also has helped with an autobiography which ended up on Oprah. If you'd like to read the previous interview which includes that experience, here's the link:

Jeff Reynolds:  Welcome back to Sleuths and Suspects, Wanda. It's exciting to know you have two new books out this year, but any thing else new going on in your life you'd like to share?

Wanda Dyson: 
Well, it's been two years since I moved to North Carolina and purchased this house, and I'm STILL looking at white walls and trying to decide what color to paint. I would seriously like to get that done by the end of this year. That's the goal, anyway. In the meantime, the Lord has just been truly teaching me to rely on Him for everything. Since my husband died and writing doesn't bring in enough to pay all the bills each month, it's been a remarkable journey of watching Him provide each and every time. I'm slowly getting to the point of not stressing anymore about things. The Lord knows what I need and He's proving to me that He is the Lord that Provides, the Lord that Heals, the Lord that Saves, and the Lord that Loves.
JR:  When we bought our house, my wife picked out a color for our living room called Mr. Bluebird. Not just Bluebird, but Mr. Bluebird. But since this blog is about writing and not painting ...

Let me be a little atypical and start with the most recent release first. Hot off the press (probably an outdated expression in the era of e-books) is Retribution, the fourth installment of the Shefford Files. Could you give us a brief overview of the series and tell us about Retribution?

  Well, I guess we can still say that to some extent since I'm releasing my books for both e-book download and paperback.

The Shefford Files is about a famous crime psychic named Zoe Shefford who, in book 1, is called in on a child abduction case. She is caught between an athiest detective who doesn't believe in the supernatural and a Christian mother who does believe and won't allow Zoe on the case. In trying to defend her gifts as being from God, she begins to question everything she believes in. She convinces the cop the supernatural is very real and finds the Lord in the proecess.  Book 2 teams up Zoe and the detective, JJ Johnson once again, but now the attraction between them is something Zoe must resist since JJ still isn't a Christian. She tries to stay away from him, but when several co-ods are murdered, they have to work together in spite of their personal feelings and solve the case. Book 3 brings back FBI Agent Donnie Bevere from book 1, but now he needs their help in locating his missing wife. Together, the three bring down a rogue general and a foil a terrorist plot, and JJ finally gives his life to the Lord and asks Zoe to marry him.

And then the publisher closed the suspense division and in spite of their popularity, the Zoe and JJ books ended. Until now. I've had so many requests over the years for more of JJ and Zoe that I finally decided to bring them back.
Retribution finds JJ Johnson and the love of his life, Zoe Shefford, finally headed to the altar. Busy with wedding plans, when Zoe's instincts start raging that something bad is going to happen, she misreads it entirely, causing a fight with JJ that sends him off to Alaska to pick up a murder suspect. When the plane crashes in the heart of the Alaskan wilderness, Zoe realizes that she may have just made a deadly mistake. She teams up with FBI Special Agent Donnie Bevere to move heaven and hell to find JJ. Severely injured in the place crash, JJ realizes that between a raging blizzard, a hungry wolf, and no food, it will take a miracle to survive. But his life or death struggle to make it back to Zoe takes a deadly turn when he realizes the entire trip had been a well-planned trap and that the cop he's traveling with is a hired killer. Now, he must rely on the skills of a woman he put in handcuffs to keep him alive while praying that the woman he loves will find him in time.

JR:  That sounds very exciting. But I'm wondering if that's the first new book I need to start reading? Earlier this year saw the release of The Restoration. (Is this year sponsored by the letter R?) Would you like to tell us about this book?

WD: LOL... had I realized I'd be writing and releasing Retribution, I would released The Restoration under a different title, that's for sure. The Restoration was actually the first book I ever wrote. It was picked up for contract several times but never made it into print, so I figured why not go ahead and release it on my own. It's the story of a young woman who buys a home with the intention of fixing it up and living in it, only to discover the house has a unique history and there are some willing to kill to keep anyone from ever restoring the place. She and Max Trent, the contractor she hires, uncover a deadly plot that will force them to choose to trust God with their very lives to bring about His will, or take the easy way out. 

JR:  Wanda, while your two books starting with the same letter (first two letters, actually), I think that pales to another author (Pamela Meyers) having Love Will Find A Way and her contribution to the Love Finds You ...  series within a month or two. But I'm not interviewing Pamela this month, so let's get back to Wanda Dyson. You've written some series and some stand alone novels. Do you know when you start writing which it's going to be?

  I tend to write everything from page 1 with the idea of a it ending up as the first book in a series. Up until now, the publishers had the final say as to whether it went on to be a series or stayed a stand-alone. I've had many e-mails from fans who want more of The Prodigal Recovery Series and some who want to see more of Alexandria and Marcus (Judgment Day) but until I recover the rights from the publisher, I'm not free to write any more with those characters.

JR:  In an interview posted on this site a couple of weeks ago, author Sibella Giorello told my co-contributer Amanda Holland that art imitates life. I'll admit that watching the news can transform me into a conspiracy theorist. What are your words of advice in this world that can become a real life suspense novel at any time?

It sounds a bit cliche, but honestly, we have to trust the One who holds us in the palm of His hand and just rest in the assurance that He has and can keep us safe and sound. He can feed us in a food shortage like he did the Jews in the wildernerss, He can raise up an army of angels to fight for us like He did for Elijah. We tend sometimes, to see the world around us in one dimension and while there's a part of us that believes those Bible stories, there's a bigger part of us that stays one dimensional instead of truly trusting Him in every situation. We fret, we worry, we stockpile, we load our weapons and think about moving up into the mountains, away from it all, but He called us to bring HIM into every situation. When things turn ugly, He needs a people who will stand and say, "In the name of Jesus, I have what you need."

JR:  What's next on the agenda? You mentioned a historical suspense series last July -- any progress on that? Is there a sequel for The Restoration, or any chance for a new installment of Judgment Day (one of my favorite suspense novels ever)? And are the Shefford files officially closed?

  I've been asked to write the autobiography of a remarkable woman no one has ever heard of, but her life story will inspire thousands. Most people think that the Lord chooses extraordinary people like ministers and evangelists and missionaries to do extraordinary things, but this woman who could barely read and write because of deslexia, chose to believe at a young age that every word in the Bible was true. Over her lifetime, she raised people from the dead, led hundreds if not thousands to the Lord, and changed the life of everyone she met. She was just a simple farmer's wife but the Lord used her in powerful ways.

I haven't heard anything back from my agent about the historical series, so that's on a back burner for now. I want to see how
The Restoration sells. It's getting good reviews, so there's a strong possibility of a sequel. I did start one way back when, so I'd only have to go back and finish it up. Wouldn't take long. As for Judgment Day, I am trying to get the rights back to that so that I can do some more with Marcus and Alexandria. Keep your fingers crossed. And I don't think I'm closing the Shefford files just yet. I really do love those two and would like to see some more of them if the fans want more of them, as well. 

JR:  Thank you for your time, Wanda. Could you remind us about your websites for those who want to keep in touch with you?

  The website is for more information on any of my books, as well as updates for future releases, and they can always write me at or visit me at    And thanks for having me, Jeff. It's always a pleasure.

Jeff to reader: As I mentioned, we'll be giving away an e-book of either The Restoration or Retribution, the winner's choice. Four simple rules:

  1. Leave a comment. Obviously. We won't know you want to enter otherwise.
  2. Include your e-mail address. One entry in the previous giveaway I promoted disqualified themselves by not including their e-mail. Yes, you may get notifications, but us contributors don't have access to notify you. Of course, you can spell it out, like AuntDotKahm(at)Ant(dot)com.
  3. Which book would you prefer? 
  4. If you could write someone's autobiography, who would you want to work with and why?

Monday, September 1, 2014

Hog Insane: A Mystery Written by Carole Brown

By K. L. Bridgewater

Sleuths and Suspects welcomes back Carole Brown. Her latest book, Hog Insane, is a cozy mystery. Recently, I interviewed Carole Brown about writing and her latest book.

             1.)    How long have you been writing? Has it always been the suspense genre? What draws you to suspense?

I’ve written for almost as long as I can remember. Lots of my childhood books I read were mysteries (happy memories!), thus I composed many mystery short stories. I still adore suspense/mysteries. It’s a genre that intrigues me in reading and writing so it’s natural to do so.

2.)  Being a member of the ACFW and a Genesis Finalist, what is your favorite part of the organization?
Probably the fact that people are on the ball in providing up-to-date marketing/newsworthy information that is either interesting and/or beneficial to authors and readers. There are many talented, knowledgeable people within the group, and I must say, after being a member for numerous years, I give them credit for pushing me deeper into learning the current ropes of writing fiction. Without them I would never have met so many of my writing friends nor be at the place I am today. 

3.)  Tell me about your writing process. Are you a plotter or someone who writes without an outline?
Mostly a seat-of-the-pants author. I do have general ideas where I’m going; clues of what I want to include in the book, perhaps how it will end/begin. Certain items I know I’ll be including. I do a lot of research so that helps. But though I plot to a minor degree (in my eyes), I still love to see where the story goes. Of course, I have plenty of friends/critique partners that will jerk me back into line lest I stray too far! Lol

4.)  If there was one thing you could say to encourage unpublished writers, what would it be?
(What was the one piece of advice given to you that has improved or changed the way you write?)
The one that came at the time when I was ready to quit, was: don’t give up. God gave me the talent to write; use it. Keep writing. Be faithful. With no emotional feelings of victory, I followed that advice and the following spring, an editor asked for my ms of The Redemption of Caralynne Hayman. It was published in October, 2013. The following month my first mystery: Hog Insane released. Now I have the first book in a trilogy, a WWII book releasing this fall (With Music in Their Hearts). Hopefully also, the second book in my mystery series will be out soon. God is good.

5.)  Tell me a little bit about your latest book, Hog Insane. The title is different, so how did the title come about?
            I love intriguing titles sometimes. This novel started as a short story, and I wanted something that automatically drew people’s attention. Later I developed it into a novel.
Two things:
Ÿ  The bike figured into the events and clues and
Ÿ  my hubby’s family loves bikes
Here’s a blurb about it:
Denton Davies has a guilt complex over the death of his nephew who died in a motorcycle accident after he taught him to ride. He blames himself and insists he hates them. Of course, his wife, Alex who is a little more than strong-minded about daring activities, wants to ride one.
This is a minor subplot within the book, but ties the story together.  Here is the blurb about the book:
A dead body, a missing motorcycle, a strange key, and dope are at the bottom of the trouble Denton and Alex Davies, and Taffy, their Jack Russell Terrier, run into when they head for their first stop in the Smoky Mountains immediately after early retirement.
All Denton wants is to fish and recapture his wife’s love. Instead, they find the body of Anthony Risler with a bullet hole in his head. None of the campground people, or even the sheriff, pretend to like Denton and his snoopy questions, and everyone seems to be lying.
Denton figures Risler’s missing bike has to hide some kind of evidence that incriminates the murderer. Archie McGhee, the campground manager is self-centered and greedy enough to hide the motorcycle for the murderer, so why doesn’t he know where the bike is now? The Stillwells, although good-looking and popular, brag way too much to suit the Davies. The expensive S-shaped, ruby watch they foist onto Alex ought to play into the mystery, yet Denton can find no evidence of it. The drug-using, gun-toting man who chases Taffy knows more than he’s telling and raises questions in Denton’s mind even when forced to partner with the man.
Why is the sheriff ignoring obvious clues, and why would he leave a bribery note lying around where Denton’s suspicious eyes can see it? When Denton finds the keys with the strange looking C charm Alex and Denton realize only their pastor’s wife, back in Ohio, and the small, cherry-wood box Risler gave her, can provide the final clue they need to reveal the killer.
Denton wrestles with his personal demons of self-blame over his nephew’s death while riding a bike. Alex resents Denton’s riding roughshod over her feelings. When he thinks her love is fading, he’s determined to woo her back. But if he doesn’t find the young man’s murderer, their love may stretch to the breaking point.

Carole Brown’s debut novel is entitled The Redemption of Caralynne Hayman (Selah Award Finalist and Semi-finalist in the Genesis), and her second novel introduced the characters of Denton and Alex Davies in the first book of her new mystery series: Hog Insane.  With Music in Their Hearts releases November 2014.
Author Carole BrownBesides being a member and active participant of many writing groups, she enjoys mentoring beginning writers. She loves to weave suspense and tough topics into her books and is always on the lookout for outstanding titles and catchy ideas. She and her husband reside in SE Ohio but have ministered nationally and internationally. Together, they enjoy their grandsons, traveling, gardening, good food, the simple life, and did she mention their grandsons?
Please connect with her here:
Guys and Gals at Bits and Bytes:
Barn Door Book Loft:

Here is my personal review of Hog Insane:   

The characters in the story were a nice break from typical suspense stories, which I love. I enjoyed seeing a couple trying to solve a mystery together instead of focusing on their emotions while trying to piece together the puzzle. The story is told from Denton’s point of view, an older gentleman just wanting to fish and spend time with his beautiful wife. Even though they have been married for a while, readers will still hear Denton’s thoughts about his aging wife. He still finds her attractive and can’t believe she has chosen him to stay with.  Denton and Alex were life-like and mystery lovers who impressed me with their skill to solve the mystery before the sheriff.

The story line was thought out and enjoyable. I wondered who killed the poor biker as different obstacles came across Denton and Alex’s path. Even though, I figured out who did the killing before Brown actually showed us, I still enjoyed the story. The challenges to solving the mystery range from watching someone move the motorcycle to seeing a letter on the sheriff’s desk hinting at blackmail to a missing pastor’s wife. The intertwining of the clues left me impressed with Brown’s skill to weave together a good mystery for mystery lovers.  

If you are a fan of cozy mysteries, then I suggest going to Amazon and purchasing a copy for yourself. It is only $2.99, so it won’t hurt you. It is a full length novel and well worth the money.

I thank Carole Brown for giving me a digital copy of her book. I will be buying the rest of the books in this series as they become available. The opinions in this review are all my own.