Wednesday, November 30, 2011


Hi Readers, it’s the 6th day of our fabulous MYSTERY WE WRITE HOLIDAY BLOG. Remember, our 15-member tour-group will be giving away over 50 FREE BOOKS during this 2-week period. For a chance to win one (or more) mystery, visit each blog and leave a comment.

Today I’m delighted to present Pat Browning as my guest author. Pat draws ideas from her exciting personal experiences and uses them to conjure up her mysteries. She’s been a newspaper reporter and columnist, a travel agent, a correspondent for a travel magazine and a globetrotter. Wow! I’m breathless just thinking of all these things.

Pat Browning
Browning’s mystery ABSINTHE OF MALICE was published by Krill Press. (An earlier version titled, FULL CIRCLE, was published by iUniverse. ) An extensive excerpt can be read at Google Books --

Absinthe of Malice

Now Pat’s going to amuse us with tales of her some past experiences, including what she sometimes cooks for breakfast.



By Pat Browning
Iwas going through three days' worth of mostly junk mail when I remembered that I was frying potatoes for breakfast. Rushed to the kitchen, lifted the skillet lid. Sizzle, sputter and snap. The spuds were just this side of burned. Dark, dark brown. Just like I like 'em.

It has something to do with growing up in Oklahoma. I picked up some new eating habits in California, but they didn't always replace the old ones. I still like my steaks well-done and I like my country fries crisp. Don't just drag the potatoes through the grease on their way to my plate. I want them crisp, darn it, CRISP.

Fred Harris wrote the perfect description of old-time Okie cooking in his mystery, COYOTE REVENGE:

Most of Mama's recipes, if she’d ever written them down, would have probably started out with: "First get the grease hot.” All the meat we ate—home-cured ham and sausage, newly killed chicken and meat-locker steak—was salted with a heavy hand and then fried nearly stiff. She salted and fried potatoes and mealed-okra, too, in plenty of lard. And Mama’s string beans or a mess of greens always went into the pot with a good dose of bacon drippings that she’d saved in a tin can on top of the stove. Then, salted generously, too, they were boiled to kingdom come.”
(End Quote)

The North Canadian River runs through Central Oklahoma.

Harris grew up in Walters, Oklahoma in the 1930s and ‘40s, which may be why he nails that time and place. mostly, though, I think God gave him perfect pitch.

I lived in Walters in the late 1930s. Harris’s writing fits my memories down to the last fried pork chop and we remember some of the same people. 
Coming to a bookstore near you: Mr. or Ms. Famous Author, reading from his or her latest novel. Question and answer period will follow; refreshments will be served.

 If you see such a notice in the newspaper or on a telephone pole, move heaven and earth to get there, and learn from a pro. Rules Number One and Two: Serve refreshments; drop a famous name if you know one.

Harris is a star of considerable magnitude in the worlds of politics and academia. He’s now Professor Emeritus of Political Science at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque but he's a former U.S. senator from Oklahoma and a former presidential candidate. He has written 17 non-fiction books, plus a couple of mysteries.

I first met him when he signed copies of COYOTE REVENGE at the Full Circle Bookstore in Oklahoma City. It was another example of perfect pitch.

We were seated on the mezzanine, not far from a coffee cart. The host circulated with a carafe of wine. Harris told a couple of funny stories about writing the book and the tips he got from Tony Hillerman. He opened the book and read the first chapter aloud, then answered questions before taking his place at a signing table.

  Fred Harris signs a copy of COYOTE REVENGE for Tom Lucas, Cleveland County District Court Judge, at the Red Dirt Book Festival 2007

Blabbermouth me, I told him about my sojourn in Walters, and about the little red-headed boy who chased me into the cloakroom and gave me my first kiss, along about the 4th or 5th grade. I remembered the kid’s name, and so did Harris.

Well … some things a girl doesn’t forget. I wonder if that red-headed kid is still around …
Jackie, thanks for hosting me today. It was great fun!

The pleasure is all mine, Pat. I loved your stories about some of the famous people you’ve known and I know my readers have been entertained, too.

Here’s a little more information about Pat and her books:

ABSINTHE OF MALICE can be ordered through any bookstore or online from and Barnes & Noble.

Barnes and Noble, print and Nook

Amazon, print and Kindle

 The second book in the series, METAPHOR FOR MURDER, is a work in progress. ABSINTHE takes place on a Labor Day weekend. METAPHOR picks up the story the week before Christmas. Log line: Small town reporter Penny Mackenzie tracks an offbeat Christmas story and finds herself in the middle of a murder and the mysterious desecration of an old Chinese cemetery.

Remember Readers, our 15-member tour group is giving away over 50 FREE BOOKS during this tour. For a chance to win one (or more) mystery, visit each member’s blog and leave a comment.

I’ll be giving away a signed copy of THE INCONVENIENT CORPSE and another of FOXY STATEHOOD HENS AND MURDER MOST FOWL, a collection of 3 novellas. My story, “The Spinster, the Pig, and the Orphan,” is a Historical Mystery set in 1889 Guthrie, Oklahoma Territory. To get your name in the hat for my free books, leave a comment below.

Thanks to everyone who stopped by today.

Also Hugs,

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


Welcome Readers to the 5th day of our MYSTERY WE WRITE HOLIDAY BLOG TOUR. Today I'm delighted to present John M. Daniel as my guest writer. His stories have appeared in dozens of  literary magazines. His thirteen published books include four mysteries: PLAY MELANCHOLY BABY, THE POET'S FUNERAL, VANITY FIRE  and his latest BEHIND THE REDWOOD DOOR, recently published by Oak Tree Press.

John M. Daniel

A true Renaissance man, John has worked as a bookseller, a free-lance writer, an editor, an entertainer, a model, an innkeeper, and a teacher. He and his wife, Susan, live in Humbolt County, California, where they are small-press book publishers. Today he's going to do a bit of bragging about the birth of his latest brainchild, BEHIND THE REDWOOD DOOR.


By John Daniel

As I write this post, long before it will show up on Jackie’s blog, I have just received a first look at the cover of my new book, Behind the Redwood Door, which will be published in November. By the time you read this post, the book will be born, and I’ll be handing out cigars.

I am knocked out by that cover! I knew there were a few (all right, more than a few) scary moments in the novel, but I could never have imagined such an ingenious way to represent threat! Those fierce red eyes glowing and glowering in the treetops! I thank the artist for turning a quiet, peaceful forest into a nightmare. Be afraid…

The unfolding story is about a feud between the gentle Websters and the Connollys, who have always run Jefferson City and County with fists of iron. The Connollys are the dark side, and a crime writer must not be afraid of the dark. We must face our monsters. In Behind the Redwood Door, I (thanks to Guy Mallon, my intrepid shrimp of a bibliophile sleuth) face the bullies, not only in the present timeline—in which a teenager is hazed and a good man is stabbed to death behind the Redwood Door saloon—but in the past, when the Connollys landed on the rocky redwood cost of northern California and started pushing people around, generation after generation.

I admit it: I am afraid of bullies. They’re monsters. They’re our worst enemy. When you read Behind the Redwood Door, you’ll probably face some of the unwelcome visitors to your own nightmares. But then you’ll cheer when the bullies are…oops, I’ll stop there and skip the spoilers.

Anyway I want you to know, in light of the dark forest on the cover, that this novel is also romantic, light-hearted, even funny at times, if I do say myself. It’s about sweet, friendly, kind-hearted people…mostly. As with all of my crime novels, Behind the Redwood Door is about love as much as it’s about death. It’s just that this time the duel between love and death is turned up to nine.

Here’s my newborn monster. Ain’t he adorable?

I love this line, John:

'...the duel between love and death is turned up to nine.'

Your baby isn't a monster at all, but complicated and fascinating. I can hardly wait to download my copy, or perhaps I'll call your 1-800 number and order a signed copy.
Behind the Redwood Door is sold by Amazon and Barnes & Noble. It can be ordered by your local independent bookseller, or bought directly from the publisher at For an autographed copy, call John at 1-800-662-8351. 
Thanks John for such an interesting article, and thanks to my readers for stopping by. Be sure and leave a comment on today’s post and your name will go into a drawing for FREE BOOKS. I’m giving away a signed copy of my cozy mystery THE INCONVENIENT CORPSE and another signed copy of the anthology THE STATEHOOD FOXY HENS AND MURDER MOST FOWL containing my novella The Spinster, the Pig and the Orphan. The book celebrates a Land Run in 1889 Guthrie, Oklahoma Territory.
There will be others books given away by each of our authors, so be sure and visit and comment on each blog.
Hugs to all,


Monday, November 28, 2011


Welcome to the 4th day of our MYSTERY WE WRITE HOLIDAY BLOG TOUR featuring 15 dynamite mystery writers. If you leave a comment on each of our blogsites, you may win one of the 50 plus books that will be given away either during the tour or immediately following our last post on December 8th.

Today I’m featuring award-winning author Alice Duncan who lives with a herd of wild dachshunds (enriched from time to time with fosterees from New Mexico Dachshund Rescue) in Roswell, New Mexico. She's not a UFO enthusiast; she's in Roswell because her mother's family settled there fifty years before the aliens crashed. Alice no longer longs to return to California, although she still misses the food, not to mention her children, one of whom is there and the other of whom is in Nevada.

And now Alice is going to tell us why she prefers to live in the past, at least on paper.


Alice Duncan, award-winning author

Every now and then, when I’m sitting and ruminating about things whilst dachshunds cavort on, around, in front of and behind me (I’m serious about that. It gets downright annoying at times), I wonder why I can’t seem to force myself to write contemporary stories. The conclusion I inevitably come to is that I don’t like life as it is and prefer to make up life the way it probably wasn’t a long time ago. I mean, sure, people make up mysteries and romances about modern-day people, but I’m someone who not only doesn’t follow trends, but actually had to be told what a “Jimmy Choo” was. In other words, I’m hopeless in today’s world and like to get as far away from it as is humanly possible, as often as possible.

Therefore, I write historical novels. For several years I wrote historical romances set in the Old West (or my version of it). I had help in this endeavor from my mother, who grew up in Roswell, New Mexico, in the teens and twenties. Yes, I’m old. But my mother was old when she had me, her mother was old when she had her, and there’s room for at least three more generations in the spaces between my Swiss maternal grandmother and me. I won’t even talk about my paternal great-grandfather, who was a deserter from the Confederate Army. At least, I won’t do it here.

 Anyway, Mom used to tell me stories about growing up in Roswell, and it sounded as though she lived in the wild, wild west. When she was a little girl, ranchers ran cattle down Second Street (the main east-west street in town); she and her three brothers and one sister lived in a three-room house made of adobe brick; her mother (having been widowed two days after my mother was born) earned a living for the entire brood as a seamstress; my uncles occasionally went out on the desert and captured wild burros, which they’d then ride until they got bucked off; there was no electricity in town; and there weren’t even any trees to block the relentless spring winds. Heck, I wrote an entire novel (COOKING UP TROUBLE) about the spring winds here in Roswell (Mom said she’d sometimes arrive at school with her legs having been sanded raw by the blowing dirt, dust and pebbles), and another one (PECOS VALLEY DIAMOND) that began with kids running to stay under the shadows made by clouds so that they could be cooler during the vicious summer heat. Today when the wind blows, which it does constantly during the springtime, the only vicissitude I endure is finding shingles that used to be on my roof in my front yard. And, lucky me, I have air conditioning.

Hmm. The Good Old Days don’t sound like a whole lot of fun, do they? Well, they probably weren’t for the folks who lived in them. However, when it comes to history, a novelist can fudge a bit. In my western historical novels, for instance, I leave out the cholera epidemics, floods (Roswell is in the middle of the desert, the soil is like clay, and it takes a long time for water to soak in. Before a couple of dams were built in the thirties by the CCC, the place flooded once or twice a year), ptomaine poisoning due to lack of refrigeration, lack of antibiotics, etc. Mom told me about tent revivalists who used to visit town and the Chautauqua folks who’d lecture in Roswell, etc. Therefore, I decided to give Annabelle Blue, heroine of PECOS VALLEY DIAMOND (available on Kindle and Smashwords) and PECOS VALLEY REVIVAL (published in January of 2011 and a finalist in the New Mexico Book of the Year Awards), a lot of the stuff my mom used to talk about only without the grime, illness and so forth.


·         PECOS VALLEY REVIVAL (featuring Annabelle Blue and set in Roswell, NM, in 1923):

Oddly enough, once I moved to Roswell, I became nostalgic about Pasadena, California, where I’d lived for most of my life. Mind you, it was the smog, crowds, expense and general chaos of So. CA living that drove me away from it (I recall trying to shop for Christmas dinner after work once, and finding no parking anywhere even close to the market, much less in its parking lot, which was full to bursting. It was quite frustrating), but it used to be a beautiful, serene place where wealthy easterners wintered, and refugees from the motion-picture industry fled to escape their hectic lives. Of course, all those rich folks needed people like me (poor ones, in other words) to do their chores for them, so I decided to give Daisy Gumm Majesty, heroine of my “Spirits” books, a working-class background and a strong work ethic learned from her parents. The fact that she learned quite early in her life that rich folks can be just as gullible as poor ones, and that they sometimes have a good deal more money than sense, only added to the fun with Daisy, who’s a phony spiritualist. The latest Daisy book, GENTEEL SPIRITS, was published in July of this year.

·         GENTEEL SPIRITS (featuring Daisy Gumm Majesty, and set in Pasadena, CA, in 1922):

I chose to set my historical mysteries in the 1920s, because so very much was going on then. Women, after decades of trying, finally got the vote in 1920 (in Turkey, by the way, women got the vote in 1918. Go figure); the world had lately endured two ghastly crises (the Great War and the 1918-1919 influenza pandemic); radio was being invented and improved upon almost daily; baseball was truly the great American pastime; the sale and consumption of alcohol was outlawed, giving rise to bootlegging and the murdering gangs who fought for control of the illegal stuff; and young people had begun questioning the values of their elders with a vengeance. The last item on that list is probably as old as the human race itself, but in the twenties the rebellion of the “Bright Young Things” seemed to take on an almost hopeless ethos. After years of war, illness and death, lots of young people concluded there wasn’t anything they could do about life, so they might as well party (if you need proof of this, read F. Scott Fitzgerald’s books).

Unfortunately for her, Daisy Majesty, my favorite character to date in any of the books I’ve written, and who has appeared in five books to date, suffered through the worst of what life had to offer, too, but she couldn’t waste her life partying because she had a war-injured husband to care for and support. Although I have a lot of fun with the “Spirits” books, Daisy has many burdens to bear.

So now I get to write about both Roswell, NM, and Pasadena, CA (and Los Angeles, CA, in my Mercy Allcutt books), and still pretend that life was better in the Good Old Days. It’s mega-fun!

·         FALLEN ANGELS (featuring Mercedes Louise Allcutt and set in Los Angeles, CA, in 1926):

Alice would love to hear from you at And be sure to visit her Web site at http//

 ·         PECOS VALLEY REVIVAL (featuring Annabelle Blue and set in Roswell, NM, in 1923):

·         FALLEN ANGELS (featuring Mercedes Louise Allcutt and set in Los Angeles, CA, in 1926):

·         GENTEEL SPIRITS (featuring Daisy Gumm Majesty, and set in Pasadena, CA, in 1922):


 Thanks for chatting with us today, Alice. You've given us a lot of fascinating information that makes me want to read each of your books.

 Remember Readers; leave a comment on each of our blogs. This group is giving away over 50 books total, either during the tour or immediately afterwards. I’m giving a signed copy of my cozy mystery THE INCONVENIENT CORPSE and a signed copy of THE FOXY HENS AND MURDER MOST FOWL. Names will be drawn by random from those who take time to leave a comment.

Don't forget to click in tomorrow.



Sunday, November 27, 2011


 Welcome to Day Three of our MYSTERY WE WRITE HOLIDAY BLOG TOUR. A special thanks to today's guest Wendy (W.S.) Gager, a newspaper reporter turned novelist. Today she’s going to tell us how a wanna-be romance writer started murdering folks instead of sending them off to Happily-Ever-After.
The Birthing of the Mitch Malone Mystery Series
  By W.S. Gager

How can the best and worst days of your life be on the same day, the same minute? It was more than six years ago when I met with a woman who was critiquing the novel I’d spent the last six months writing and editing. I was so nervous. I was sure it was perfect and the next best seller but writers always carry that secret fear that no one will get what you are saying.

 I had written my first romance. I’d chosen romance because I had read thousands of Harlequins and knew I could easily copy the formula of the heroine’s journey. I’d researched publishers, book lines and editors and was so ready to submit. This was my last step. A bit of editing from the critique and I was ready.

“Honey,” the woman said grabbing my hand to keep me from bolting from the booth with her next words. “You’re not a romance writer. You are a mystery writer.” I was crushed and managed to get through the rest of the meeting, but I don’t remember much of what she said. I took the marked up pages home and set them on my desk and didn’t look at them for a week. Then I sucked it up and started reading. She was right and pointed to several parts that demonstrated it.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that what I enjoyed about writing the first book was about the crime that had brought my couple together and that they had to solve to have the happily-ever-after moment. The Mitch Malone Mystery Series was born a few months later. I searched for contests to enter to get feedback on my manuscript because I didn’t know anyone in the mystery community. I won the Dark Oak Mystery Contest in 2008 for A CASE OF INFATUATION garnering a publisher contract as the prize. I’m still stunned by how fast that book was published. I wasn’t ready and could hardly believe it.

My third book is A CASE OF HOMETOWN BLUES and the ideas for mysteries just keep coming. While I wanted to die after with the initial comment about my romance manuscript, it was the best critique I could have received. I am a mystery writer and I challenge you to see if you can figure out whodunit in my books. Let me know what you think?

“A Case of Hometown Blues” Birdseye view:

When Pulitzer-winning reporter Mitch Malone's editor presses him for a favor, Malone breaks his vow to never return to his hometown. It seemed simple enough--lead a seminar for Flatville, MI's newspaper, keep a low profile and get back to the city post haste. But memories of his parents' death swarm him, and, to avoid solitude, he stops for a beer. In the crowded bar, Mitch is dismayed to see many of his former classmates--including the still-lovely Homecoming Queen, Trudy. Once the object of his teenage crush, Trudy joins Mitch. He quickly realizes she is upset and inebriated. Always the gentleman, Mitch sees her safely home, and returns to his B&B, still trying to shake memories of his parents' sad demise. The next day, he is stunned to learn Trudy was murdered and he is the prime suspect. The locals treat the murder charge as a slam dunk, and Mitch realizes he must track down the real killer to keep his butt out of jail.

A CASE OF THE HOMETOWN BLUES by W.S. Gager (Oak Tree Press, $14.95)

The third book in this series finds Mitch Malone, twice nominated for a Pulitzer Prize Investigative Journalism Award, returning to his hometown of Flatville, MI, to give a seminar on investigative journalist techniques. The seminar is the same weekend as Malone's high school reunion. When a classmate's body is found and Malone becomes the prime suspect he realizes he must track down the real killer to keep his butt out of jail.


buy link:

Leave a comment each day on all of our blogsites. The group is giving away over 50 books, either during the tour or immediately afterwards. I’m giving a signed copy of my cozy mystery THE INCONVENIENT CORPSE and a signed copy of THE FOXY HENS AND MURDER MOST FOWL. Names will be drawn by random from those who take time to leave a comment.

Saturday, November 26, 2011


Good morning Readers,

Today we will hear from the award winning mystery author Madeline (M.M.) Gornell: what inspires her, what she likes best about writing and what she wants her readers to experience while reading her books.

Madeline has published three mysteries: The  PSWA awarding winning novel Uncle Si’s Secret (2008), Death of a Perfect Man (2009), and her latest release, Reticence of Ravens (2010)her first Route 66 mystery. Reticence of Ravens is a 2011 Eric Hoffer Fiction finalist and Honorary Mention winner, the da Vinci Eye finalist, and a Montaigne Medalist finalist.

I'll bet you'd also be interested in knowing that Madeline is a potter with a fondness for stoneware and reduction firing. She lives with her husband and assorted canines in the Mojave in a town on internationally revered Route 66.

Now I'm turning things over to Madeline.
Thank you, Jackie, for hosting me on your blog!

Since it’s early days on our tour, and since you’ve graciously let me talk about whatever I want, I thought I’d offer my answers to the three questions I’ve asked all my fellow tour members to answer for my blog. Seems only fair. I picked these three because they were representative of many that come up when I’m talking to readers at events—especially at festivals and fairs.

My questions were:
  •  What/who inspires you and your stories?
  •  What do you most like about being an author?
  • What do you most want readers to take away from your novels--what you want them to think and feel when the last page is read?
Inspiration? My inspiration for writing initially came from—and has been reinforced throughout my life by—all the great mystery authors that have led the way. My earliest memories are of falling in immediate love with Agatha Christie—her style, her plots, her protagonists. She was my rock star! Now, I’m continually inspired and re-energized by P.D. James. (I am an admitted and unashamed anglophile)

For each of my novels, my inspiration and first kernel of an idea has come from a location that has reached out, grabbed me, and wouldn’t let go. That sounds a bit silly, and it’s not the whole story, but truly, so far, I’ve been inspired to start a story because a location said, “Me! Me! Write about me!” From the location, I’ve then wondered—who would have lived there, or come that way? What is their story? And in the case of my first, Uncle Si’s Secret—the compelling thought at a particular place along the Snoqualmie Valley Trail on my dog walks kept returning—“What a perfect spot for a murder!” (Another reason why exercise is good for you)

I don’t just like being an author, there’s nothing else I rather be doing. Truth be told, I certainly could do without the promotions part, but I love developing an idea (usually as I go), creating characters, devising the murder mystery—and surprisingly as my writing adventure moves forward—love rewriting! Making it all come together—my ideas(plot and philosophical), words, phrases, hints, clues… Thank goodness for my great editors! Of the bits-and-pieces that come with writing, I particularly enjoy meeting readers, authors, and especially hearing people say they liked by book(s)!

Reader Wishes? First off, I sure hope they enjoy reading my book and are taken away for a few hours into an interesting world that captivates them—either because it’s so different from theirs, or because they can identify with the characters and locations. Especially with Route 66 and the desert, hoping the “feel” of the place came through.

Then there’s my wish they find themselves in my characters mind (the protagonist’s especially)—feeling and hearing their voice.

My most cherished hope, is that when you close one of my books, there’s a smile on your face, and thoughts, questions, ideas beyond who the murderer was remain with you—at least for awhile.

Jackie, thanks for letting talk about what keeps me going as an author. Thanks so much for the visit!
You are so very welcome, Madeline. I've really enjoyed your thoughts on writing and I'm sure our readers have, too. You're welcome on Cozy Mysteries and Other Madness anytime.

Lies of Convenience, Madeline's next Route 66 mystery, will be released soon. It's a tale that fictionally connects murder, truths untold, and Chicago’s Lake Michigan with California’s high desert on the opposite end of The Mother Road.

Madeline’s books are available at, Barnes &, and Smashwords, in paper and e-book formats. You can visit her online at her website, or her BLOG, or email her directly at

Reticence of Ravens is available at:

Remember Readers! Our MURDER WE WRITE Holiday Blog Tour Writers are giving away over 50 FREE books. To be eligible for all drawings, visit each blogsite and leave a comment.

I’m giving away signed copy of THE INCONVENIENT CORPSE and another of FOXY STATEHOOD HENS AND MURDER MOST FOWL. To get your name in the hat for my free books, leave a comment below.

And be sure to check in tomorrow to meet a new Mystery Writer.



Friday, November 25, 2011


Hi Readers, are you in a mood to travel? Vicariously, of course and via our Cyber-Bus which is loaded with 15 outstanding mystery writers including me.

This is the 1st day of our Holiday Mystery Tour, and readers, do I have a treat for you!

Timothy Hallinan, an Edgar and Maccavity nominated author tells us how his latest Junior Bender novel LITTLE ELVISES was conceived and birthed. And what a story his article 'Picture Perfect' tells! Keep reading, because now I'm letting Timothy drive:
Picture Perfect
By Timothy Hallinan

 The most frequent question at bookstore events is, “Where do your ideas come from?”

Well, most of the time, they appear out of thin air.  But once in a great while something from what I try to think of as “real life” prompts a story development.  Here's an example.

Some time ago, my wife and I had the good fortune to make friends with someone whom I'm not going to name, but she had been famous for several decades due to a series of very funny books she'd written for a large audience of women who, like her, hated to cook and do housework.

We had mutual friends, but we met her face-to-face for the first time in Hawaii, when I was on my way to Asia to write and my wife was accompanying me as far as Bali.  What we had feared would be a slightly awkward lunch turned into a prolonged, delightful, and highly lubricated lunner, comprising lunch, dinner, and many, many drinks in between. 

 We were in love with her when we left, and remained so for years and years.

 She was in her early seventies when we met, and more vigorous than either my wife or I, who were in our late forties.  Ten years later, we got a note from her saying she was going to marry.  (Her first husband died before we met her.)  Enclosed were three pictures of her and her husband-to-be.

They scared me silly.

She (let's call her Margaret) was sitting on quite a bit of money; she'd sold a very large number of books.  And she was now in her eighties.  The pictures she'd sent us were Polaroids, and she looked ecstatically happy in all three of them.  I couldn't tell you how happy her fiance looked, because we couldn't see his face.

In any of the pictures.

In the first, he had his head down, and his features were obscured by the bill of his cap.  In the second, he'd turned his head as the shutter snapped, and he was a blur.  In the third, he was kissing Margaret on the cheek and her profile obscured most of his.

I immediately called to congratulate her and to grill her diplomatically about him.  She'd known him forever, she said; he'd been a friend of her husband's and was, in her words, richer than God.  I relaxed and offered an unnecessary blessing, and the two of them lived happily until Margaret passed away.

 But in the nasty, nefarious part of me that makes bad things happen to good (if imaginary) people, those photographs had taken root.  I thought about them almost every time I wrote a book, but the opportunity to use them never came up until my new ebook, LITTLE ELVISES.

The hero of LITTLE ELVISES is a Los Angeles burglar named Junior Bender, who moonlights as a private eye—for crooks.  That's a good way to make dangerous enemies, so Junior lives in a succession of dreadful motels in an area—the San Fernando Valley—that's especially rich in dreadful motels.

His first day on his new case has been a bad one; he's just been shot at.  Already unhappy at this turn of events, he becomes even more unhappy when he sees there's a light on in the room adjoining his, which gives him pause, because he's rented it, too.  (An adjoining room can be used as an escape route.) 

But the room's occupant turns out to be Marge, the surviving owner of Marge 'n Ed's North Pole, the motel of the week, and Marge has a problem: her daughter has disappeared after running off with a man of whom Marge instinctively disapproves because he wears a pinkie ring.  Junior tries to fob her off with assurances until:

“Look at these.”  Marge dug into a purse the size of a saddlebag and came out with two color snapshots.  She dealt them at me, giving each of them an expert, Vegas-worthy flick that carried them from one bed to another.  I picked them up and found myself looking at two shots of the same couple.

The female was clearly the issue of Marge's loins, if the pronounced nasal apparatus and the long upper lip were any indication, but the man was a complete mystery.  In one shot, he was shading his eyes from the sun, and he'd tilted his hand down until nothing showed but his mouth, and in the other, he'd turned his head away at the last moment, creating an interesting modern abstract where his face should have been. 

Not good.

Marge said, “Tell me about that.”

“Okay,” I said.  “I'll think about it.”

And he does.

So it took 30 years, but I finally got to use Margaret's Polaroids.  And they lead Junior toward a monster who preys on the lonely and the unhappy.  And, at the end, a big surprise. 

Okay Guys, I'm back in the driver's seat again.
I know you're dying to learn more about Timothy, so here's the scoop on him:

Timothy Hallinan is the Edgar- and Macavity-nominated author of the traditionally-published Poke Rafferty Bangkok thrillers (most recently THE QUEEN OF PATPONG), and the Junior Bender mysteries, which are ebook originals.  The newest Junior book is LITTLE ELVISES.  Earlier this year, Hallinan conceived and edited a volume of original short stories by twenty first-rate mystery writers, SHAKEN: STORIES FOR JAPAN, which is available for the Kindle at $3.99, with every penny of the price going to the 2011 Japan Relief Fund.  (Please buy it.)  He lives in Santa Monica and Southeast Asia, and he is lucky enough to be married to Munyin Choy.  His website is


Thanks a million Timothy for this fascinating story. Of course we're all dying to know who 'Margaret' was, but then again we all love solving mysteries.
Timothy will give away a set of his Poke Rafferty Bankgkok thrillers at the end of our Holiday Tour. To get your name in the hat for the drawing, make a comment on each of the 15 participating blogsites. Our group is giving away more than 50 books during the 2-week period.

Thanks to everyone for stopping by, and please leave a comment. You'll be glad, because, besides the other author's books, you'll be in a pool to win a copy of THE INCONVENIENT CORPSE or STATEHOOD HENS AND MURDER MOST FOWL.

See you tomorrow!