Tag Archives: mystery author

A Conversation with ‘Saving Grace’ Pamela Fagan Hutchins

Pamela Fagan HutchinsPamela Fagan Hutchins writes award-winning mysterious women’s fiction and relationship humor books, and holds nothing back.  She is known for “having it all” which really means she has a little too much of everything, but loves it: writer, mediocre endurance athlete (triathlon, marathons), wife, mom of an ADHD & Asperger’s son, five kids/step-kids, business owner, recovering employment attorney and human resources executive, investigator, consultant, and musician.  Pamela lives with her husband Eric and two high school-aged kids, plus 200 pounds of pets in Houston. Their hearts are still in St. Croix, USVI, along with those of their three oldest offspring.

Her latest book is the mystery/women’s fiction, Saving Grace.

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Saving GraceQ: Thank you for this interview, Pamela. Can you tell us what your latest book, Saving Grace, is all about?

Thank you! Saving Grace is the story of Katie Connell, a Texas attorney whose life is one train wreck after another: too many Bloody Marys, a client who’s the Vanilla Ice of the NBA, and a thing for a Heathcliff-like co-worker. She takes refuge from it all on the island of St. Marcos, where she plans to investigate the suspicious deaths of her parents. But she trades one set of problems for another when she is bewitched by the voodoo spirit Annalise in an abandoned rainforest house and, as worlds collide, finds herself reluctantly donning her lawyer clothes again to defend her new friend Ava, who is accused of stabbing her very married Senator-boyfriend.

Q:  Can you tell us a little about your main and supporting characters?

First, there’s Katie. Oh, Katie, Katie, Katie. She’s the main character, a 30-something lawyer who vacuums her rugs backwards and is as much a danger to herself as the bad guys.

Nick is the object of her unreturned affections, an investigator in Dallas with a penchant for surf boards and bass guitars.

Ava is an island seductress who convinces Katie to become her new best friend and a second for her vocal duo.

Rashidi John befriends Katie when he introduces her to the jumbie house Annalise on one of his popular-with-the-ladies rainforest botany tours.

And then there’s Annalise, a giant abandoned house in the rainforest who shows her magical side to a chosen few, and, boy does she ever choose Katie.

Q: Do you ten­d to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?

I steal most of my characters from people whose big imprints on life inspire my creativity. But if fiction is life without the boring parts, my fictional characters are those people without them either. Their fictional bads are badder and their crazies are crazier.

Q: Are you consciously aware of the plot before you begin a novel, or do you discover it as you write?

I am a planner and a plotter, but the novel takes me wherever it ultimately wants to go. Kind of like my kids do, in real life. In Saving Grace, a character named Zane McMillan shows up who wreaked havoc on my carefully constructed outline. I had a heck of a time keeping him from hijacking the whole book. I love it when that happens.

Q: Your book is set in the Virgin Islands.  Can you tell us why you chose this area in particular?

The islands are magical. I lived on St. Croix for six years, and the people and the places just burned into my brain and my heart. I had no choice in the matter: Saving Grace set itself there.

Q: Does the setting play a major part in the development of your story?

The island setting, and the rainforest jumbie house Annalise in particular, are pivotal to the story. In the islands, Katie can embrace the magic in herself and the world around her, whereas she is much too pragmatic for that kind of nonsense back in Texas.

Q: Open the book to page 69.  What is happening?

Katie is throwing caution and common sense to the wind and is about to make an offer to purchase a half-finished abandoned house in the rainforest because she believes she and the jumbie spirit offer each other a chance at mutual salvation.

Q: Can you give us one of your best excerpts?

Sure, here’s one I really like:

We had hiked for nearly two hours when Rashidi gave us a hydration break and announced that we were nearing the turnaround point, which would be a special treat: a modern ruin. As we leaned on smooth kapok trees and sucked on our Lululemon water bottles, Rashidi explained that a bad man, a thief, had built a beautiful mansion in paradise ten years before, named her Annalise, and then left her forsaken and half-complete. No one had ever finished her and the rainforest had moved fast to claim her. Wild horses roamed her halls, colonies of bats filled her eaves, and who knows what lived below her in the depths of her cisterns. We would eat our lunch there, then turn back for the hike down.

When the forest parted to reveal Annalise, we all drew in a breath. She was amazing: tall, austere, and a bit frightening. Our group tensed with anticipation. It was like the first day of the annual Parade of Homes, where people stood in lines for the chance to tour the crème de la crème of Dallas real estate, except way better. We were visiting a mysterious mansion with a romantic history in a tropical rainforest. Ooh là là.

Graceful flamboyant trees, fragrant white-flowered frangipanis, and grand pillars marked the entrance to her gateless drive. On each side of the overgrown road, Rashidi pointed out papaya stalks, soursop, and mahogany trees. The fragrance was pungent, the air drunk with fermenting mangos and ripening guava, all subtly undercut by the aroma of bay leaves. It was a surreal orchard, its orphaned fruit unpicked, the air heavy and still, bees and insects the only thing stirring besides our band of turistas. Overhead, the branches met in the middle of the road and were covered in the trailing pink flowers I’d admired the day before, which Rashidi called pink trumpet vines. The sun shone through the canopy in narrow beams and lit our dim path.

A young woman in historic slave garb was standing on the front steps, peering at us from under the hand that shaded her eyes, her gingham skirt whipping in the breeze. She looked familiar. As we came closer, she turned and walked back inside. I turned to ask Rashidi if we were going to tour the inside of the house, but he was talking to a skeletally thin New Yorker who wanted details on the mileage and elevation gain of our hike for her Garmin.

Q: Have you suffered from writer’s block and what do you do to get back on track?

I’m in a perpetual state of writer’s block, or recovery from it. The first thing I do when I feel it coming on is change locations or go outside. If I can’t nip it in the bud, I talk it out with my husband/muse. If it persists, I force myself to write something else — anything to keep me writing. I am a big believer that creativity happens when you’re putting in the work. I had a huge episode of block while writing the sequel to Saving Grace. It took me two months of other writing before the block broke and I could get back to the islands.

Q: What would you do with an extra hour today if you could do anything you wanted?

I’d love to say I’d run six miles or snuggle in the front of the fire with my husband, but it’s a lie. If I had an extra hour, I’d keep writing, but I’d at least play footsie (very vigorously) with him on the couch while I did it.

Q: Which already published book do you wish that you had written and why?

I wish I had written Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry, because of the characters: unforgettable, flawed, and larger than life. Gus and Woodrow, oh, how I love thee.

Q: What kind of advice would you give other fiction authors regarding getting their books out there?

More than ever, a fiction author must be fearless and relentless. The number of books published a year is growing exponentially, and you can’t just write yours and hope someone else will sell it for you. You need a marketing plan and an entrepreneurial spirit. It doesn’t hurt if you have a lot of support, too.

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Read-a-Chapter: Saving Grace by Pamela Fagan Hutchins

Read a Chapter is *NEW* added feature at As the Pages Turn! Here you’ll be able to read the first chapters of books of all genres to see if you like them before you buy them. Today we are featuring the mystery, women’s fiction, Saving Grace by Pamela Fagan Hutchins. Enjoy!

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Saving Grace

Click on cover to purchase at Amazon!

  • Paperback: 278 pages
  • Publisher: Skipjack Publishing (September 24, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0988234807
  • ISBN-13: 978-0988234802

If you’re at all inclined to be swept away to the islands to fall in love with a rainforest jumbie house and a Texas attorney who is as much a danger to herself as the island bad guys, then dive headfirst with Katie Connell into Saving Grace.

Katie escapes professional humiliation, a broken heart, and her Bloody Mary-habit when she runs to the island of St. Marcos to investigate the suspicious deaths of her parents. But she trades one set of problems for another when she is bewitched by the voodoo spirit Annalise in an abandoned rainforest house and, as worlds collide, finds herself reluctantly donning her lawyer clothes again to defend her new friend Ava, who is accused of stabbing her very married Senator-boyfriend.

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Chapter One

Last year sucked, and this one was already worse.

Last year, when my parents died in an “accident” on their Caribbean vacation, I’d been working too hard to listen to my instincts, which were screaming “bullshit” so loud I almost went deaf in my third ear. I was preparing for the biggest case of my career, so I sort of had an excuse that worked for me as long as I showed up for happy hour, but the truth was, I was obsessed with the private investigator assigned to my case.

Nick. Almost-divorced Nick. My new co-worker Nick who sometimes sent out vibes that he wanted to rip my Ann Taylor blouse off with his teeth, when he wasn’t busy ignoring me.

But things had changed.

I’d just gotten the verdict back in my mega-trial, the Burnside wrongful termination case. My firm rarely took plaintiff cases, so I’d taken a big risk with this one—and won Mr. Burnside three million dollars, of which the firm got a third. That was the total opposite of suck.

After my coup at the Dallas courthouse, my paralegal Emily and I headed straight down I-20 to the hotel where our firm was on retreat in Shreveport, Louisiana. Shreveport is not on the top ten list for most company getaways, but our senior partner fancied himself a poker player, and loved Cajun food, jazz, and riverboat casinos. The retreat was a great excuse for Gino to indulge in a little Texas Hold ’Em between teambuilding and sensitivity sessions and still come off looking like a helluva guy, but it meant a three and a half hour drive each way. This wasn’t a problem for Emily and me. We bridged both the paralegal-to-attorney gap and the co-worker-to-friend gap with ease, largely because neither of us did Dallas-fancy very well. Or at all.

Emily and I hustled inside for check-in at the Eldorado.

“Do you want a map of the ghost tours?” the front desk clerk asked us, her polyglot Texan-Cajun-Southern accent making tours sound like “turs.”

“Why, thank you kindly, but no thanks,” Emily drawled. In the ten years since she’d left, she still hadn’t shaken Amarillo from her voice or given up barrel-racing horses.

I didn’t believe in hocus pocus, either, but I wasn’t a fan of casinos, which reeked of cigarette smoke and desperation. “Do y’all have karaoke or anything else but casinos onsite?”

“Yes, ma’am, we have a rooftop bar with karaoke, pool tables, and that kind of thing.” The girl swiped at her bangs, then swung her head to put them back in the same place they’d been.

“That sounds more like it,” I said to Emily.

“Karaoke,” she said. “Again.” She rolled her eyes. “Only if we can do tradesies halfway. I want to play blackjack.”

After we deposited our bags in our rooms and freshened up, talking to each other on our cell phones the whole time we were apart, we joined our group. All of our co-workers broke into applause as we entered the conference room. News of our victory had preceded us. We curtsied, and I used both arms to do a Vanna White toward Emily. She returned the favor.

“Where’s Nick?” I called out. “Come on up here.”

Nick had left the courtroom when the jury went out to deliberate, so he’d beaten us here. He stood up from a table on the far side of the room, but didn’t join us in front. I gave him a long distance Vanna White anyway.

The applause died down and some of my partners motioned for me to sit with them at a table near the entrance. I joined them and we all got to work writing a mission statement for the firm for the next fifteen minutes. Emily and I had arrived just in time for the first day’s sessions to end.

When we broke, the group stampeded from the hotel to the docked barge that housed the casino. In Louisiana, gambling is only legal “on the water” or on tribal land. On impulse, I walked to the elevator instead of the casino. Just before the doors closed, a hand jammed between them and they bounced apart, and I found myself headed up to the hotel rooms with none other than Nick Kovacs.

“So, Helen, you’re not a gambler either,” he said as the elevator doors closed.

My stomach flipped. Cheesy, yes, but when he was in a good mood, Nick called me Helen—as in Helen of Troy.

I had promised to meet Emily for early blackjack before late karaoke, but he didn’t need to know that. “I have the luck of the Irish,” I said. “Gambling is dangerous for me.”

He responded with dead silence. Each of us looked up, down, sideways, and anywhere but at each other, which was hard, since the elevator was mirrored above a gold handrail and wood paneling. There was a wee bit of tension in the air.

“I heard there’s a pool table at the hotel bar, though, and I’d be up for that,” I offered, throwing myself headlong into the void and holding my breath on the way down.

Dead silence again. Long, dead silence. The ground was going to hurt when I hit it.

Without making eye contact, Nick said, “OK, I’ll meet you there in a few minutes.”

Did he really say he’d meet me there? Just the two of us? Out together? Oh my God, Katie, what have you done?

The elevator doors dinged, and we headed in opposite directions to our rooms. It was too late to back out now.

I moved in a daze. Hyperventilating. Pits sweating. Heart pounding. My outfit was all wrong, so I ditched the Ann Taylor for some jeans, a structured white blouse, and, yes, I admit it, a multi-colored Jessica Simpson handbag and her coordinating orange platform sandals. White works well against my long, wavy red hair, which I unclipped and finger-combed over my shoulders. Not very attorney-like, but that was the point. Besides, I didn’t even like being an attorney, so why would I want to look like one now?

Normally I am Katie Clean, but I settled on a quick brush of my teeth, a French shower, and lipstick. I considered calling Emily to tell her I was no-showing, but I knew she would understand when I explained later. I race-walked to the elevators and cursed them as they stopped on every other floor before the Rooftop Grotto.

Ding. Finally. I stopped to catch my breath. I counted to ten, took one last gulp for courage, and stepped under the dim lights above the stone-topped bar. I stood near a man whose masculinity I could feel pulsing from several feet away. Heat flamed in my cheeks. My engine raced. Just the man I’d come to see.

Nick was of Hungarian descent, and he had his gypsy ancestors to thank for his all-over darkness—eyes, hair, and skin—and sharp cheekbones. He had a muscular ranginess that I loved, but he wasn’t traditionally handsome. His nose was large-ish and crooked from being broken too many times. He’d once told me that a surfboard to the mouth had given him his snaggled front tooth. But he was gorgeous in an undefined way, and I often saw from the quick glances of other women that I wasn’t the only one in the room who noticed.

Now he noticed me. “Hi, Helen.”

“Hi, Paris,” I replied.

He snorted. “Oh, I am definitely not your Paris. Paris was a wimp.”

“Hmmmmm. Menelaus, then?”

“Um, beer.”

“I’m pretty sure there was no one named Beer in the story of Helen of Troy,” I said, sniffing in a faux-superior way.

Nick spoke to the bartender. “St. Pauli Girl.” He finally gave me the Nick grin, and the tension left over from our elevator ride disappeared. “Want one?”

I needed to gulp more than air for courage. “Amstel Light.”

Nick placed the order. The bartender handed Nick two beers beaded with moisture, then shook water from his hands. Nick handed mine to me and I wrapped a napkin around it, lining up the edges with the military precision I adored. Nick sang under his breath, his head bobbing side to side. Honky-tonk Woman.

“I think I like you better in Shreveport than Dallas,” I said.

“Thanks, I think. And I like seeing you happy. I guess it’s been a tough year for you, losing your parents and all. Here’s to that smile,” he said, holding his beer aloft toward me.

The toast almost stopped my heart. He was spot-on about the tough part, but I did better when I kept the subject of my parents buried with them. I clinked his bottle but couldn’t look at him while I did it. “Thanks, Nick, very much.”

“Want to play pool?” he asked.

“Let’s do it.”

I was giddy, the sophomore girl out with the senior quarterback. We both loved music, so we talked about genres, bands (his old band, Stingray, and “real” bands), my minor in music at Baylor, and LSD, AKA lead-singer disease. Over a bucket of beers, we swapped stories about high school, and he told me he’d once rescued an injured booby.

“An injured booby?” I asked. “Implants or natural? Eight ball in corner pocket.” I sank it.

He gathered the balls out of the pockets and positioned them in the rack while I ground my cue tip in blue chalk and blew off the excess. “You’re so land-locked. A booby is a bird, Katie.”

I rolled his use of my real name back and forth in my brain, enjoying how it felt.

“I was out surfing, and I found a booby that couldn’t fly. I carried it back home and took care of it until I could set it free.”

“Oh, my gosh! How bad did it smell? Did it peck you? I’ll bet your Mom was thrilled!” I talked fast, in endless exclamation points. Embarrassing. I was a Valley Girl on acid, like Oh-My-Gawd. “It was in shock, so it was calm, but every day it got wilder. I was fourteen, and my mom was happy I wasn’t in my room holding some girl’s real booby, so she was fine with it. It smelled really bad after a few days, though.”

I broke. Balls clacked and ricocheted in every direction, and a striped one tumbled into a side pocket. “Stripes,” I called. “So, your mom had caught you before holding a girl’s booby, huh?”

“Um, I didn’t say that . . .” he said, and stuttered to a stop.

I was more smitten than ever.

“Damn, I Wish I Was Your Lover” was playing in the background. I hadn’t heard that song in years. It got me thinking. For months, I had been fighting off the urge to slip my arms around Nick’s neck and bite the back of it, but I was aware that most people would consider that inappropriate at work. Pretty small-minded of them, if you asked me. I eyed the large balcony outside the bar and thought that if I could just maneuver Nick out there, maybe I could make it happen.

My chances seemed good enough until one of our colleagues walked in. Tim was of counsel at the firm. “Of counsel” meant he was too old to be called an associate, but he wasn’t a rainmaker. Plus, he wore his pants pulled up an inch too high in the waist. The firm would never make him a partner. Nick and I locked eyes. Until now, we’d been two shortwave radios on the same channel, the signal crackling between us. But now the dial had turned to static and his eyes clouded over. He stiffened and moved subtly away from me.

He hailed Tim up. “Hey, Tim, over here.”

Tim waved to us and walked across the smoky bar. Everything moved in slow motion as he came closer, step by ponderous step. His feet echoed as they hit the floor, reverberating no . . . no . . . no . . . Or maybe I was saying it aloud. I couldn’t tell, but it made no difference.

“Hey, Tim, this is great. Grab a beer; let’s play some pool.”

Oh, please tell me Nick didn’t just invite Tim to hang out with us. He could have given him a short “hey how ya doing have a nice night I was just leaving” shpiel, or anything else for that matter, but no, he had asked Tim to join us.

Tim and Nick looked at me for affirmation.

I entertained a fleeting fantasy in which I executed a perfect side kick to Tim’s gut and he started rolling around on the floor with the dry heaves. What good were the thirteen years of karate my father had insisted on if I couldn’t use it at times like these? “Every woman should be able to defend herself, Katie,” Dad would say as he dropped me off at the dojo.

Maybe this wasn’t technically a physical self-defense moment, but Tim’s arrival had dashed my hopes for the whole neck-bite thing, and all that could have come after it. Wasn’t that reason enough?

I cast out the image. “Actually, Tim, why don’t you take over for me? I was in trial all week, and I’m exhausted. We have an early start tomorrow. It’s the last day of our retreat, the grande finale for the Hailey & Hart team.” I handed my pool cue to Tim.

Tim thought this was a fine idea. It was clear women scared him. If I had hoped for an argument from Nick, though, I didn’t get one. He reverted to his outside-of-work “Katie who?” act.

All I got from him was “Goodnight,” with neither a Helen nor a Katie tacked on.

I grabbed another Amstel Light from the bar for the plod back to my room.

Reprinted with permission from Saving Grace by Pamela Fagan Hutchins. © 2012 by Skipjack Publishing

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Guest Blogger Lauren Carr: Ten Things About Lovers in Crime Mysteries You May Not Know

Ten Things About Lauren Carr’s Lovers in Crime Mysteries You May Not Know

By Lauren Carr, author of ‘Dead on Ice’

1)     The Lovers in Crime Mysteries take place in Chester, West Virginia, which is a real small town in the most northern point of West Virginia. In the Northern Panhandle, if you go a mile in any direction, you end up in another state (Pennsylvania or Ohio).

2)     Lauren Carr grew up in Chester, West Virginia. Many members of her family still live there.

Dead on Ice sm3)     Joshua Thornton’s stone house on Rock Spring Boulevard is a real three-story stone house that Lauren used to dream about living in when she grew up in Chester, West Virginia.

4)     Rock Spring Boulevard is a fictional street in Chester. Lauren Carr changed the name because she didn’t want people driving by and bothering the real homeowners.

5)     Irving, Cameron Gates’ cat, is based on Duchess, a Maine Coon that Lauren Carr used to have. Duchess was the reverse of a skunk, all white with a black stripe down her back. Irving is marked like a skunk, all black with a white stripe down his back.

6)     The real Hancock County prosecuting attorney’s office is located in the corner of an abandoned school house across the street from the courthouse, which is where Lauren Carr has placed Joshua’s office. Though now, with up to date technology, Joshua usually works remotely from his home.

7)     Cameron and Joshua’s passion for ice cream is based on Lauren’s own addiction. She has an ice cream sundae every night before going to bed.

8)     Cameron never gains a pound in spite of what or how much she eats—unlike Lauren Carr.

9)     Joshua and Cameron’s “place”, favorite hang-out, Cricksters, is a real retro diner located in Chester, West Virginia. The Home of the Pink Cadillac is located at 2363 Lincoln Highway. Lauren loves to visit there when she is in town.

10) The next Lovers in Crime Mystery, Real Murder, was inspired by a dream Lauren had while recovering from a concussion, which she got when she fell off a horse. Real Murder will be coming this Spring and is dedicated to Peter Pan, the horse Lauren fell off of.

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Lauren Carr fell in love with mysteries when her mother read Perry Mason to her at bedtime.

Lauren CarrLauren is also the author of the Mac Faraday Mysteries, which takes place in Deep Creek Lake, Maryland. The first two books in her series, It’s Murder, My Son and Old Loves Die Hard have been getting rave reviews from readers and reviewers. Lauren’s fifth mystery, Shades of Murder has been receiving rave reviews since its release.

Lauren’s sixth book, Dead on Ice, has just been released. Dead on Ice introduces a new series entitled Lovers in Crime, in which Joshua Thornton will join forces with homicide detective Cameron Gates.

The owner of Acorn Book Services, Lauren is also a publishing manager, consultant, editor, cover and layout designer, and marketing agent for independent authors. This spring, two books written by independent authors will be released through the management of Acorn Book Services.

Lauren is a popular speaker who has made appearances at schools, youth groups, and on author panels at conventions. She also passes on what she has learned in her years of writing and publishing by conducting workshops and teaching in community education classes.

She lives with her husband, son, and two dogs on a mountain in Harpers Ferry, WV.

Visit her websites at www.acornbookservices.com and www.mysterylady.net.

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Read-a-Chapter: Deadly Plunge by Greg Messel

Read a Chapter is *NEW* added feature at As the Pages Turn! Here you’ll be able to read the first chapters of books of all genres to see if you like them before you buy them. Today we are featuring the mystery fiction, Deadly Plunge, by Greg Messel. Enjoy!

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  • Paperback: 420 pages
  • Publisher: Sunbreaks Publishing (October 8, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0985485922
  • ISBN-13: 978-0985485924

Former baseball player and newly-minted private investigator, Sam Slater is hired to find out why a rich, politically-well connected San Francisco man, Arthur Bolender,  suddenly ended his life by plunging off of the Golden Gate Bridge. All those who know Arthur say unequivocally that he did not commit suicide.  However, Bolender’s body was found floating in San Francisco Bay and his car was abandoned in the traffic lane of the bridge.  Meanwhile, Sam’s romance with glamorous TWA stewardess Amelia Ryan continues to blossom and deepen. She is now his secret fiancee. Amelia also eagerly helps Sam solve his cases when she’s in town. The key to unraveling the mystery seems to be a strange old Victorian-style house. Bolender’s widow, a rich, seductive socialite named Maggie Bolender, was not even aware that her husband owned the house. What is really going on behind the doors of the mysterious house?  Finding the answers will plunge Sam and Amelia into a dangerous world of political intrigue in the exciting sequel to “Last of the Seals.”

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Chapter One

When a jumper leaps off of the Golden Gate Bridge it takes only four seconds to hit the waters of San Francisco Bay.

From the pedestrian walkway on the iconic bridge there are breath-taking vistas of the beautiful city. The water below looks shimmering and soft.

It is not.

Instead of gently leaping into the hereafter, the jumper dies the same death he or she would suffer if being hit by a fast-moving car.

There is still something deceptively appealing to those who want to escape life’s problems.

A leap over the railing 245 feet above the water will seemingly work magic in a troubled life. In just four seconds financial problems are over. In four seconds a hated spouse vanishes. In four seconds a broken heart will stop hurting. In four seconds all of the problems with a job or an obnoxious boss disappear.

The water of San Francisco Bay is a frigid 47 degrees and the wind can be bone-chilling on most nights.  There are believed to be more suicides at the Golden Gate Bridge than at any other site in the world.

Those who want to end it all even travel long distances to San Francisco to jump off of the Golden Gate Bridge. Rental cars, belonging to suicide victims, have been found in parking lots at the end of the bridge’s span.

The impact of hitting the water is horrendous.  The jumper’s body is falling at a rate of 80 miles per hour when it slams into San Francisco Bay and essentially stops. However, due to inertia, the internal organs keep traveling, tearing loose from the body.

Autopsy results for jumpers commonly show lacerations to the liver, heart, spleen, and aortas. The skeletal structure takes a pounding as well. There are usually broken sternums, pelvises, necks, and skull fractures.

Some have survived jumping off of the Golden Gate Bridge, but not many. Death is almost certain and happens quickly.  Generally, the impact of hitting the water kills the jumper. Occasionally, the jumper is knocked unconscious.

There have been times when the person jumping off of the bridge briefly survives and can be seen flailing around in the water, trying to stay afloat before succumbing to extensive internal bleeding.

Not all jumpers are detected. Some bodies are never found and apparently wash out to sea.

Generally the shattered body of the person plunging off of the bridge is picked up by the Coast Guard and taken to Fort Baker on the shoreline of San Francisco Bay.  It is there that the Marin County Coroner’s office begins tying up loose ends. The body is identified, relatives are notified, and there is an autopsy.

After the body is retrieved, it is placed in a long carrier with handles and covered with a yellow tarp to await the arrival of someone from the coroner’s office. Any personal items are placed on top of the corpse.

On a rainy Monday night in January 1958, Scott Perkins, a young stockbroker was leaving San Francisco, carefully heading across the Golden Gate Bridge to his home in Marin County. Scott had stayed much later at the bachelor party for his friend than he had intended. Tomorrow was a workday and the last thing he needed was to start his Tuesday with no sleep and a hangover.

After work on Monday, Perkins had met a group of friends at a bar on Van Ness for dinner. It was a bachelor party for his co-worker and friend, Michael Smith. But things had gotten out of hand. It was now nearly midnight and he had way too much to drink.

Scott’s hope was to carefully drive over the bridge to the exit near his apartment building without hitting anything or encountering a cop. If either of those things did occur, Scott was undoubtedly on his way to jail.

He was in the home stretch.  Scott slowly navigated his red 1953 Ford through the streets of San Francisco and had successfully found the on-ramp to climb onto the Golden Gate Bridge.

Now all he had to do was to drive straight across the bridge and take the off-ramp near his house, just over a mile into Marin County.

There were very few cars on the Golden Gate Bridge at this late hour on a Monday night. Suddenly, Scott spotted a car in the traffic lane just ahead of him. Struggling with his slow reactions, Scott thought of switching lanes to go around the slow-moving car but for some reason he didn’t.

Then to his horror, Scott realized that the car was stopped in the traffic lane.  He slammed on his brakes.

Scott winced, praying that he had hit his brakes in time. It was going to be close.

He then heard a sickening thud and felt the impact. Scott’s Ford slid on the wet pavement into the back of the giant fins of a 1957 red Chrysler New Yorker.

Hopefully, it was just a fender bender.  Scott glanced over at the nearby lane to make sure there were no cars coming. He bailed out of his Ford and went to survey the damage.

Scott’s Ford had a broken headlight and maybe a small dent in the front bumper.  The back of the Chrysler had more damage. The taillight on the driver’s side of the Chrysler was broken and the large fin was crumpled.

Scott staggered forward to see if the driver of the Chrysler was all right.

Why was this car stopped in the middle of the Golden Gate Bridge? It wasn’t stalled. The engine was still running and the automatic transmission was in park.  He couldn’t see the driver.

In his confused state, he opened the door of the Chrysler. There was no driver. He glanced into the backseat, which was empty. The scene was surreal to Scott Perkins in his altered state. For some reason Scott could hear Connie Francis singing, “Who’s Sorry Now?” Then he realized that the radio was playing and the windshield wipers were running.

Where was the driver?

Scott was sobering up quickly. He was mystified at the abandoned car.

It was then that an explanation occurred to him. He glanced towards the nearby pedestrian walkway and the railing of the Golden Gate Bridge.

The driver had apparently stopped his car and jumped off of the bridge.

Reprinted from Deadly Plunge by Greg Messel. © 2012 by Greenbriar Book Company

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Interview with Linda Schroeder, author of ‘Artists & Thieves’

Linda Schroeder divides her time between the bright sun of California and the high mountains of Colorado. She has a Master’s degree in English and one in Communicative Disorders/Audiology. In addition to her novel, Artists & Thieves, she has published a college text.

Her early interest in English expanded to include language disorders and she began a second career as an audiologist and aural rehabilitation therapist working with deaf and hard-of-hearing children and adults.

Currently, she studies and practices Chinese brush painting, celebrating the vitality and energy of nature. She follows art and art theft blogs and writes her own blog about art and sometimes includes reviews of novels. She is working on two more novels, a second Mai Ling novel about the Diamond Sutra, and a Sammy Chan art mystery about the forgery of a Goya painting.

You can visit her website at www.artistsandthieves.com.

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Q: Thank you for this interview, Linda. Can you tell us what your latest book, Artists & Thieves, is all about?

Artists & Thieves won the San Diego Book Awards in the action/suspense category. It is an art mystery. A priceless Chinese bronze bowl is looted from a dig by smugglers and sold to an art collector in Monterey. Mai Ling is an artist who works undercover for Interpol recovering stolen art. She discovers that this bowl belonged to her ancestor in China and her grandfather is duty bound to return it to China. So she is on a quest to get the bowl, not for Interpol but for her grandfather. Four others are also after the bowl.

Q:  Can you tell us a little about your main and supporting characters?

Mai Ling is a Chinese/American who is twenty-five, clever, agile, witty. She is an accomplished Chinese brush painter and a martial arts expert. She knows the world of art smugglers.

Mai’s best friend is Angelo, a flamboyant, arrogant, emotional artist. He is preparing to turn Monterey’s Custom House into a representation of a 1840 sailing ship. He has inside information which helps Mai steal the bowl.

Mai’s counterpart is Hunter. He has flaming red hair and rides a Harley. He is an antique dealer in Rome. He is in love with Mai but he is also in competition with her to steal the bowl.

Angelo’s counterpart is Cypress. She owns a flower shop in Carmel and resells stolen items from it. She is also after the bowl.

Q: Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?

My characters are both. I know someone who is similar to every one of my characters. I use some defining personality traits from them. But the details of their lives, their relationships and emotions are unique to the imagined fictional characters.

Q: Are you consciously aware of the plot before you begin a novel, or do you discover it as you write?

I discover as I write. I don’t work from an outline. I start with a general idea of a character and a situation. As I write, I add details and find interesting relationships between characters by saying, “What would surprise the reader at this point?” Those “Aha!” moments turn the plot and set up the interconnections between characters. I get a first draft this way but the following drafts are rewrites which tighten plot events, develop the characters more, and add descriptions.

Q: Your book is set mainly in Monterey, California.  Can you tell us why you chose this city in particular?

I lived in Monterey for ten years. I know its history and its landmarks. And it is now a major tourist destination, so many people also are familiar with it. It has different aspects within just a few miles of territory.

Q: Does the setting play a major part in the development of your story?

Absolutely. The setting reflects the characters. Mai lives by the ocean. Like her life the water is sometimes calm, sometimes dangerous. Angelo lives on Fisherman’s Wharf in an artist’s loft. The wharf is full of colors and smells. He is conscious always of sensory input.  Cypress lives in Carmel, part elite establishment, part used-to-be hippie enclave. She straddles both worlds. Mai’s boss lives in Pebble Beach in a wood and glass house designed by a famous architect. It reflects his education and his affluence.

Q: Open the book to page 69.  What is happening?

This is the beginning of the chapter, Ghosts. Mai is on the road, traveling to Locke, a historic Chinese farming town on the Sacramento river. Her grandfather spends the summers there. She had been on her way to her gallery exhibition in Monterey but has been urgently summoned to Locke by her grandfather; she doesn’t know why. Neither does the reader. This is the point on the plot line where the task she faces is revealed.

Q: Can you give us one of your best excerpts?

This is a point leading to the climatic confrontation between Mai and the smuggler who now has the bowl. Mai is rushing on foot in blinding fog to get the bowl:

“At last she reached the sea. Long bands of glowing light stretched up and down the coast, eerily luminescent in the fog hanging over the waves. The red tide’s tiny organisms sparkled, ebbed and flowed in the ocean’s easy motion. When she’d enjoyed the display Tuesday on her evening run, hundreds of cars filled the beach lots. Now all was strangely empty. Why? The power outage? Road closures? Whatever the reason, the unexpected emptiness grated against her already strained nerves, reinforcing her fear that Toni’s studio would be empty and the bowl already spirited out of the city.

In the sea’s light, Mai ran the short distance to the two story warehouse which was Toni’s ocean view studio. No cars were parked in front. She rattled the front door. A bolt held it tight. A metal shutter secured the only window. A gull screeched a sinister warning. A burst of panic tightened her throat. Maybe she was wrong. How the hell would she find Toni if she wasn’t here?”

Q: Have you suffered from writer’s block and what do you do to get back on track? 

I often get stuck “discovering” which way the plot should go next, what the reader needs to know to keep the story moving forward. When that happens I take note cards and write “what if” events, one per card, and reasons why a character might or might not do that.  I have a critique group which usually meets weekly. The deadline to have a scene ready to be analyzed gets me motivated to put something down on paper. Sometimes I keep that scene, sometimes that scene doesn’t work at all and I put it in the “out-takes” folder.

Q: What would you do with an extra hour today if you could do anything you wanted?

I love walking in the surf at Torrey Pines beach. The ocean goes to a far horizon. The open distance is beautiful and inspiring.

Q: Which already published book do you wish that you had written and why?

I wish I had written Michael Chabon’s The Final Solution. It is an elegant Sherlock Holmes tale, very odd.

Q: What kind of advice would you give other fiction authors regarding getting their books out there?

We are lucky today to have many options. We can hunt for an agent, hope for a big press, hunt for a small press, or self publish either print or ebook. Explore the possibilities. But do not let your book sit unread in a desk drawer.  We are storytellers and stories must be read. We only become better writers if someone reads our writing. So crank that book out any way you can. It will not be easy or trauma free. But having a book to sell is worth it.

 

 

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Let’s Play Book Trivia with Mystery Author Kim Smith!

It’s time to play Book Trivia! Periodically, we scour the Internet for interesting authors who would like to play Book Trivia with us. By answering our book trivia questions, we get to learn things about the author no one else knows! So, let’s get ready…let’s play…

Today our guest author is Kim Smith, author of cozy mystery Avenging Angel, A Shannon Wallace Mystery.

avenging-angelKim is best known for her contributions to the writing world as the admin of Writers4Writers.com, a place created with the sole purpose of helping other writers find a place to nestle in and make friends. When the site grew large enough to make it on its own, Kim went solo and began her own ventures into the world as a writer.

Kim has since published a number of short stories at such places as Gryphonwood Press, Micro Horror, and Long Story Short. Recently, her first short story using the characters from her book, AVENGING ANGEL, came out at Mouthfull of Bullets. You can purchase your copy of the magazine at: http://www.mouthfullofbullets.com.
In 2009, Kim will have three more shorts coming out including another Shannon Wallace story.

Kim is a member of EPIC.

You can find more about Kim and the books at http://www.mkimsmith.com.

Thank you for playing Book Trivia with us, Kim! Here are your questions:

book71If Tom Hanks, in the movie Cast Away, unearthed a copy of Avenging Angel, A Shannon Wallace Mystery, how would that help Tom find a way off the island?

Well, the book is set close to Memphis, and everyone knows that Tom’s character worked for Fed Ex in Cast Away and Memphis is the home of Fed Ex’s hub. So his character would just need to click his heels and say “home, home, fly Fed Ex home”.

book72Everyone knows rock star idol Brittany Spears is always in trouble with everything you can think of. In what way could your book help her and set her life back on track?

Brittany would have no chance of getting into trouble if she hung out with Shannon and her friend, Dwayne Brown. Dwayne was raised by a Bible-believing Grandmother who would “slap all the hide off him” if he did anything she disapproved of, and he still fears her. He’d show Brittany the light.

book73You have a chance to appear on the hit talent show for authors, American Book Idol, with judges Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul, Randy Jackson, and Kara DioGuardi determining whether your book will make it to Hollywood and become a big screenplay. What would impress them more – your book cover, an excerpt or your best review – and why?

An excerpt because it would show them the stuff in this fabulous book and how the characters live and move and give them an idea of why they want to make it three dimensional and put it on the big screen. Besides which, I already have Sandra Bullock, Eddie Murphy, and Antonio Banderas lined up for the leading roles.

book74Hulk Hogan, the famous wrestler and star of his own reality show, has invited you and your book to appear on his show. One catch. You have to read a passage out of it to convince him you are star material. What part would you read?

The part where Shannon has to fight her way through a scene or die. I think he would appreciate her spunk. Either that or he would expire laughing at her bad timing.

book75They’ve invented a board game using the theme of your book. What would the title of it be that would be different from your book and which retail store would they place it to make the most sales?

“DVDland” and it would be in adult bookstores because the content would be mature.

book76The Arbor Day Foundation has decided to pick one tree in your honor because of your writing brilliance. What kind of tree is it and why did they choose that particular tree in relation to your book?

Japanese maple. It’s so much like me, short, full, and colorful.

book78President Barack Obama has become the author of several books and he has requested your presence at a special hush hush meeting to discuss ways to promote it. Through luck of the draw, you were chosen. What would be the first thing you would tell Barack?

Dude, you gotta get out more. No one knows who you are! Get a Bebo, Blogspot, Facebook, Gather, Livejournal, Myspace, Squidoo and Twitter. Oh yeah, Twitter will make you famous.

book79Finally, you just got word that your book has received the 2009 NY Times Bestselling Book Award and you have to attend the ceremony at the Four Seasons Hotel in Manhattan. Anyone who’s anyone will be there and it’s your shot for stardom. On stage, you must give an acceptance speech. What would you say and who would you thank?

As the laughter and applause died, I would say, “You love me! You really love me!” Then, I would thank my family, my friends, my editor and my publisher.

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