The Baying Witness

Sheriff Delton Ross shifted in his chair. Through his office window, he watched late-August heat waves rise from the department parking lot. Halfheartedly, the sixty-year-old Ross listened to the improbable tale coming from the mouth of Ennis Archer.

She was a local woman, a sister to Dave Fairmont, the man who had recently run off and abandoned his wife of the last thirty years. The whole town of Willow Grove had heard the story.

Dave had left a letter for Lila upon his departure, and she’d run around showing the entire town its contents.

Case closed to his mind; had been for months, except for Ennis.

“I’m telling you Delt, my brother wouldn’t take off like that. Not without getting in touch with one of us. The ones he really loved. Somehow, sometime.”

That was a fact, Ross thought. The Fairmonts had always been more of a clan than a family. They were a tough bunch to get inside. Still, it was odd that the man hadn’t been heard from.

“And then there’s Edgar,” Ennis continued with a firm nod.

“Edgar? Edgar who?” Ross couldn’t believe Lila had taken up with another man already. She hadn’t seemed like the type. Besides, he couldn’t think of a single man in Hartford County named Edgar. Where’d this fellow come from?

“He’s the neighbor’s dog,” Ennis added, as though she had read Ross’ thoughts. “That poor thing sits and howls over that rose garden of Lila’s, day in and day out. Lila’s even built a fence to keep the beast away from her land. But the dog just sits on the other side of that fence and howls, anyway.”Ennis’s hard, gray-green eyes gave the sheriff a look that said, “There, now. What do you think of that?”

Ross blinked before leaning forward in his chair. Ennis now had his full attention. “What kind of dog is it?” Ross asked, taking care to keep his deep voice neutral. An avid sportsman, Ross knew his dogs. This could mean something, but he sure didn’t want to get this woman any more riled up than she already was.

“Oh, heavens,” Ennis answered. “How on earth would I know?”

Ross bit back a sigh and slumped back in his seat. “Which neighbor of hers is it that has this dog?”

“Ed Bracken. He lives in the house just behind Lila’s.” Ennis studied the sheriff a moment, then asked, “You gonna go out there? You gonna follow this up?” Continue reading “The Baying Witness”

Mud Pie, a Delightful Free Novel

Oh boy, I  have another free book to recommend. It’s Mud Pie, written by Emma Lee Dole. It’s cute. It’s fun. And it’s a decidedly complicated mystery. I could not figure out who “dun” it  until the very last minute, and I read a LOT of mysteries.

It’s set in England, near Manchester, and features a young cook, Lannie Herron, being chased by an evil bunch of young thugs. They want to kill her for exposing their drug dealing. She is fleeing in hopes of escaping their retribution.

(Mud Pie, by the way, is a dessert, although I can’t really describe it since I’ve never had it. But needless to say, Lannie makes a great one.)

So there she is working in some small pub, praying to escape detection and death. Who said survival was easy?

The e-book is an engaging read full of rugby players, flirtations, and narrow escapes. I truly enjoyed it, and since it ended with her future not fully spelled out, I suggest Dole use this as the first  book in a series of Lannie adventures. I’d certainly read them for whatever that’s worth.

Mud Pie is available FREE for Nook, iTunes, and Kobo. I downloaded my copy at Smashwords.

I cannot end this post without also mentioning Widowmere, which is also written by Emma Lee Dole, and is also FREE. I read it. I loved it. But this book is heavy on description which bothers me not a whit. In fact, I reveled in the language used to tell this story. This tale features an artist as a protagonist who is as far removed from Lannie as possible. She’s sensitive, observant, romantic, and charming.

Widowmere begins when a beautiful young woman fills her pockets with pebbles and walks into the lake as the artist is painting the scene. It is more of a  literary mystery, but that bothered me not at all. This book is also available from the above outlets. Enjoy!

Ghosts?

B&BfinalWith my latest book, I’m moving into new territory — ghosts. Or, more accurately, a ghost. He’s Hetty Fox’s lost love who died when they were young. His presence gives Hetty a problem. She doesn’t believe in ghosts, and she doubts this thing hovering in the middle of her living room is real. So what’s she to make of it? Her first fear is that she’s losing her grip on reality. So before she stumbles off to help her friend, her order to her cat demands that he drive the thing out of their new home.

She should be so lucky.

But the ghost is also a bit of a challenge for me. Like Hetty, I’m not a big believer in ghosts. But I like this one. And in the end, I think Hetty will as well.

The other hangup is that I write mysteries, so there’s not only the reality of the ghost to solve, but there’s a murder to untangle as well. What fun.

Currently this novella is in edits, but it should go live soon. This is the first book in the series. I’m hoping Hetty and her charming ghost will have a long and happy run.

In the meantime, thanks for reading!

Death among the Roses Free Today

RosesThe first book in the Melanie Hart Cozy Mystery series is free today at Amazon. It features two female sleuths who track a deadly killer. There’s also a touch of romance mixed in with the murder. You may download your free copy today here.

Tales from the Dark Side of Love giveaway

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Valentine receives a rosary from the Virgin, by David Teniers III

It’s February, that month when the groundhog sticks his nose out of his hole and discovers love is in the air. (Well, maybe that’s not exactly how it works, but I think you get my drift.) Anyway, this year there’s even more reason to celebrate our escape from January’s frigid embrace. That’s because this February brings with it the Tales from the Dark Side of Love giveaway, offering readers a chance to win free books, or Amazon gift certificates, or a Kindle Fire HD.

The event has been organized by romantic suspense author, Bianca Sloane. And the idea for the giveaway tracks back, of course, to the presence of Valentine’s Day halfway though the month. But while many of us when we think Valentine’s Day picture chubby cupids with bows and arrows or red paper hearts with lace, the day’s origin actually stems back to the life an early Christian saint.

But poor St. Valentine. Apparently no one’s quite certain if he was one man or was perhaps a composite of two different people. For this reason Valentine’s name was dropped from the Catholic calendar of saints when revised in 1969. But his memory still lives on and he is lists among the saints allowed to be locally venerated. And for the less church oriented of us, he’s gained even wider recognition for his alleged support of love and loving couples. And our thoughts of love and hearts and flowers care little about his status as an officially sanctioned saint.

And the group of writers participating in the Tales from the Dark Side of Love giveaway aren’t looking at love quite so simply, either. We’re out to present to you the flip side of hearts and flowers.

To learn more about our perspectives and the prizes available to you, the reader, be sure to visit Bianca Sloane’s blog where you can enter the contest and possibly win one of those many, amazing prizes!

Three ways to win:

  • Tweet about the giveaway/promotion using the hashtag #DARKSIDEOFLOVE with a link back to http://www.biancasloane.blogspot.com/

  • Leave a comment on blog posts with email address. No email address means no entry.

  • Email Bianca Sloane at Bianca@biancasloane.com with the subject line “Dark Side of Love.”

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The Market’s Shifting

I’m old enough at this Indie Author game to remember when a free book pushed sales nearly through the roof. Perma-free, the big boys called it. That’s the free ebook in a series that sells the rest of the line. Golden days those were. Or so I’ve heard.

I didn’t manage to write quickly enough to capitalize on that particular marketing trick.

Or take another old saw (remember with ebooks, nothing is really all that old) that nothing sells the old book quite as well as a new book. In other words, the trick to selling well is to produce, produce, produce.

But the times, they are a changin’. Today, the even some of the best performing ebooks writers are noting that sales are becoming more of a challenge with each passing day. They claim it’s difficult to become noticed these days. And from what I’ve seen, I suspect they are correct.

Anyway, the mantra now is shifting from a strategy of getting your next book out there to advertising your current works under something I call pay to play. This means you buy advertising on popular ebook recommendation sites to push your work. Bookbub is praised widely. And other sites for book promotion are also mentioned in reverential tones. Once you pay. They include your book on their list, and sales result. Or so both writers and the site owners say.

I do not doubt them. Advertising is a widely respected, promotional game. But ebook margins make pricey ads a wee bit off-putting in some instances.

Then. there’s the other side of today’s complex market. Those reports say the book-selling market is fragmenting. They predict the entry of such awe-inducing names as Wal-mart and Costco into the future mix.

If those predictions are correct, this hungry, hairy, crazy market for ebooks is about to become hungrier and hairier and even crazier.

I believe it. I’ve seen changes occur in this business that I could never have imagined on my own.

I started off this journey three or four years ago, when I learned I could write a book and publish it as an ebook for free. When I learned that I sat back in my chair and said, “I’m going to do that.” (I’d always wanted to write and publish a novel, after all.)

And I did. And it was fun. And the book sold. But today’s books sell a little less well because so many people, I believe, are sitting back in their chairs and saying, “I’m going to do that.”

In sort, the ebook world is a crazy world. But I’m glad I’m in it. And I’m glad I’ve had what success I’ve had. After all, I didn’t even put a price tag on my first book for nearly two years. Why? Because, said I, who’s going to buy a self-published ebook by a no-name writer? But they did and it was good, and I had fun, and thank you all so much.

May the future, whatever direction it unfolds, be half as much fun as the past couple of years has been. And to those of you who’ve bought my books, thank you very much, and I hope you’ve enjoyed the ride as much as I have.