So you think you have problems? Maybe you’re schizophrenic, manic depressive or suicidal. Perhaps you just lack the motivation to floss as often as you should. Okay, we’ve all got problems, but the animals in this collection of short stories really have problems. In fact, you could say they have issues. They cope with rejection, addiction, jealousy and egomania to name a few. Some have a persecution complex or are afflicted with existential angst. They are most certainly misunderstood. Each story is a bit of a mystery. The animal’s issue might be obvious, but not what the animal is. You have to guess. Every vignette is only a few pages long so no peeking at the ending. That’s cheating. If you have to cheat at animal stories, well what can I say, maybe you have more issues than these animals do. Just saying. . .

–Introduction to Animals With Issues


Animals With Issues has become my new favorite short story collection. My first introduction to this mixed up menagerie was the day Bill emailed me a draft of his latest short story. I’m reading about this guy in the middle of some existential crisis and wondering WTF??!  Then he – the guy – decided the only way to resolve his crisis was to take something that didn’t belong to him. Imagine my surprise when the guy got his head bashed in the rocks. It turns out that bears don’t like poachers. Okay, I guess you had to be there. But no you don’t, all you have to do is pick up a copy of the book. It is absolutely hilarious, clever and as snarky as the author is himself. I was so excited when Bill agreed to talk with us today. I don’t have the words to describe this brilliant writer, so I’m going to let him introduce himself:

Bill Runyan (1952 – not dead yet) was born in Boston, MA. He was subsequently moved to Delmar, New York. At the age of eight he was forcibly removed by his parents and transported to Memphis, TN where he has remained more or less ever since. He was educated in the sciences, obtaining a Bachelors in Biology and a Masters in Invertebrate Zoology. Then, of course, he was unemployed, so he became a computer programmer, whose programs often included jokes that were unappreciated. After an early retirement, he took up creative writing. Animals With Issues is his first short story collection and has made him a literary legend in his own mind.

A.S. The reviews and responses to this collection of short stories have been overwhelmingly positive: “fun, snark humor”, “hilarious, neurotic animals on parade”. As the author, how does that make you feel to know that your readers “get” you?

B.R. It makes me feel good. It would make me feel even better if they got their friends and relatives to buy the book. In fact they don’t have to get me at all if they buy the book. Actually, given a forced choice of being appreciated for my unique style and getting obscenely rich as an author, I’d choose the later. I’d like to make so much money that I could squander most of it on hookers and blow. Then I’d go to rehab and write a book about the experience and use that money to start the process all over again.

A.S. Since they don’t know you and for the sake of keeping all of our lives simple, I’m going to add that he is JUST KIDDING folks! Okay Bill, how did you come up with the concept for Animals With Issues? Did you know from the beginning that you were creating a collection? Or did you start with one, the ideas kept coming until one day you noticed that there were enough for a collection?

B.R.Our critique group, the MemphiSlores, was once a part of a larger organization called the Memphis Writers’ Collective. I found them on meetup and the write up for the meeting said they were going to do flash fiction. I didn’t know what flash fiction was so I looked it up and the definition I saw was that it was fiction of less than five hundred words. It was near Thanksgiving, so I wrote my first short story in the collection called “The Trial” about a turkey, but you don’t know that until the end. It was so well received that I decided to keep writing other animal stories in the same vein until I had enough for an anthology. Incidentally, I was the only one to bring a story to that meeting. Bunch of slackers.

A.S. Which of the animal shorts is your favorite? Why?

B.R. I vacillate between “My Trip to Tokyo” and “Art Appreciation.” Both of those stories have narcissist pseudo intellectuals as their central characters. I hate people like that, so I like to make fun of them. I have other stories in there with similar character types, but I think I did these ones particularly well. Sometimes I wonder if I am one and that’s why I can do them so well or am I such a narcissist that I just think I did them well and if I had really done them well my sales would be better and I would be in rehab now instead of writing answers to these interview questions.

A.S. Where do you find inspiration? Where do your ideas come from?

B.R. Telepathic communication with aliens whenever possible. If there is too much static I have to do it on my own. For that I use a technique that I read in a book called “Writing the Natural Way.” The author recommended a technique for creative writing where you think of words, draw circles around them and connect them to other circled words. I don’t know what is natural about his, but it seems to work. You can get a story that way. Really you can. For the animals stories I also poked around on YouTube for animal videos. The combination of that and the circles seemed to work.

A.S. Who are your favorite authors? Why?

B.R. Gabriele Rico because she wrote “Writing the Natural Way.” For non-fiction, I like Richard Dawkins for his elegant prose on evolution and Brian Greene for his elegant prose on cosmology. For fiction I like Mickey Spillane because he wrote the Mike Hammer novels, whose ridiculous main character I am presently spoofing in my own novel.

A.S. Tell us some little known fact about Bill Runyan? Nothing that will get you arrested!

B.R. I used to be an intellectual. As a child I would write letters to the government protesting atmospheric nuclear tests. Then puberty hit and that was the end of that. I didn’t care who got nuked if I could just have carnal knowledge of my English teacher. She never had her way with me, but I like to think she really wanted too, but was just too shy to ask.

A.S. You self-published this collection. Why was that the best choice for you versus the submitting to an established publishing house?

B.R. Most of these stories have links at the end that go to photos and/or videos that reveal what the mystery animal is. It wouldn’t work in a hard copy format. That was one reason. The other reason is that my genre is so unusual that I didn’t have a great deal of confidence that anyone would want to publish it. Mystery animal stories for adults? What kind of genre is that anyway? Who would want to mess with that? I didn’t see it and still don’t.

A.S. Have you gained/gathered any pearls of wisdom you might be willing to share along your road to publication?

B.R. I signed an exclusive deal with Amazon for the first three months. I’m two months in. If I had it to do over again, I wouldn’t have. They don’t do anything for you. At the end of the month I’m going to go with Screwpulp and Smashwords as well.

A.S. What are you working on now?

B.R. I am working on my first novel, tentatively titled “A Man Out of Time.” It is a comedic science fiction, noir detective novel. Once again I have carved out my own unique niche. That sounds creative, but it will make it much harder to publish if I try and go with an established publishing house. I intend to try that at first, but I’m not optimistic. Maybe I will self-publish again and guilt people into buying it. I’m thinking of dressing really shabby and standing on a street corner with a sign: “Famished author needs food. Buy my book or I’ll die of starvation. Do you want that or your conscious?” Then again that sign is probably too wordy, so it probably won’t work. Oh well, I’m having fun writing it. (The book not the sign)

A.S. How can readers get in touch with you?

B.R. First of all, I’m impressed you have readers. I’d love them to get hold of me and tell me how they found your blog in the first place. I’d love it even more if they bought my book which they can find on Amazon. They can get hold of me at runyanBill@gmail.com and tell me how much my work means to them and how it changed their lives for the better and I will write them back and congratulate them on making such an insightful purchase. Your female readers who find themselves suddenly seized by lust should indicate that in the subject line for faster service.

Bill, thank you so much for joining me today. Animals With Issues is now available at Amazon.com. If you have any questions or comments for Bill, feel free to leave them in the comments section below. He’ll be checking in from time to time.

You Can Re-Launch and Continue to Grow as a Writer.


If you’re in the Memphis area on Saturday, February 28 between 11 am and 1pm, the authors of BLUFF CITY MYSTERIES will be presenting and signing copies of our book at Bookstop Plus in Bartlett.  Come on out, we’d love to see you.

It has been my honor and pleasure to introduce you to my fellow authors of BLUFF CITY MYSTERIES.  I’ve been told that I need to come from behind the scenes and introduce myself as well as the two stories I have that are included in the anthology.

I write mysteries, suspense and thrillers.  I am well on the way with second round revisions for my first novel, KAOS, which is a thriller, set primarily here in Memphis.  I also have a mystery collection of short stories, THE MISADVENTURES OF MAMA LOU, featuring my favorite amateur sleuths, Mama Lou Metcalf and Ethel Mae Watson.  My short story, The Gazebo, won 3rd place in Southern Writer’s Magazine Annual Short Story 2013 contest.

When we conceived of the idea of BLUFF CITY MYSTERIES, we decided we would set our stories in various well known sites around the city.  I had just finished a tour of SLAVEHAVEN, formerly the Burkle Estates, now a civil rights museum sponsored by Heritage Tours of Memphis.  The house is listed on the Historical Register and is rumored to have been a stop on the Underground Railroad in the middle 1800s. The tour includes the cellar of the house, which is where runaway slaves were believed to be kept until they could be safely moved upriver to free states.

I stood in that cellar, or I should say, I stooped in the cellar – the ceiling was too low to accommodate my five feet six inches – and experienced such an emotional response as I imagined what it might have been like to live in that cramped space for days, maybe weeks at a time, where discovery could mean my life and the lives of everyone in that house.  Anyway, I knew I had to write about it.

NIGHT FISHING, is set on the Burkle Estate during the 1860’s, this is the second historical in the collection.  It tells the story of 13 year old slave Thadius and his 8 year old brother Jedidiah, who discover the body of one of the plantation owners on Burkle land.  Suspicions fall on Burkle himself, the boys’ friend and also slave, Big John and a Yankee upstart.  Thadius puts the pieces together and discover the real culprit.  Expect a surprise at the end.

Here’s a peek into NIGHT FISHING:

Jed adjusted the lantern again to focus the glow over the body. It was a white man, his face partially covered by long corn-colored hair. It was hard to tell exactly how tall he was, but Thaddeus estimated him to be about medium height. A dark riding coat covered a light colored shirt and trousers. Thaddeus averted his eyes from the dark stain that marred the silk shirt.

“Look at all that blood,” said Jed. Then as if the implication hit him, he said, “Let’s get out of here Thad.”

“In a minute.” The coat had spilled open to expose a bundle of parchment in the inside pocket. Thaddeus leaned over to grab for it but was distracted by a sliver of light glinting off metal. Parchment forgotten, he walked around to the other side of the body. A long barreled pistol lay just outside of reach of the dead man’s outstretched hand, the middle finger encircled by a band of gold.

Thad had a real bad feeling. He knew that ring. Fear gave way to nosiness as he dropped to his knees beside the body. He lifted the man’s hand then twisted the ring full around until the miniature coat of arms etched onto the stone face was exposed to the light. He knew that the color of that stone was dark green. That ring had been passed down for generations. Everyone in Shelby County, from plantation owners to the lowliest slave knew of it. He brushed aside the swatch of hair and aimed the light towards the man’s face.

Beauregard Cordova, favored son of one of the oldest families in Shelby County, stared up at him with empty eyes…dead eyes.

Most of the action in MIDNIGHT EXPRESS, takes place on a Greyhound Bus, the midnight express from Memphis to Atlanta.  My family took a lot of trips via Greyhound when I was a kid.  My best friend and I even took the bus from Memphis to Fresno California one summer while we were in college.  It never failed that we would meet some of the most interesting or creepiest people while traveling this way – if you come to the signing, ask me about the prostitutes in Los Angeles.

Anyway, the question came to my mind, what if serial killers traveled by Greyhound?  Could you recognize him – or her?

The bus had cleared the terminal and gathered speed on Union, past the Peabody Hotel, past Huey’s. The bus turned south on Second street and Simon smiled at the memory of him conquering the four-pound hamburger at Kooky Canuck’s, when Simon felt the bus slow.

The interior lit up with the blue and white strobe of police cars. He could just make out a snarl of parked police cars and the two uniformed patrolmen directing traffic. The street placard announced the intersection of Beale and Second Street. Simon craned for a better view, but saw nothing beyond pedestrian gawkers and a silent ambulance. The bus finally squeezed through the bottleneck, then gradually picked up speed until it reached the interstate cloverleaf.

The young man hadn’t moved. Not once during slow down or the excited chatter of the passengers. Unlike everyone else on the bus, he sat with his head pressed firmly into the headrest, eyes closed, fingers thrumming a rhythmic beat on his thigh.

Thank you for stopping by today.  Remember, BLUFF CITY MYSTERIES is now available for purchase online at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Dark Oak Press.  You can also pick up a paperback or hardback copy at Bookstop Plus, South Main Book Juggler, the Slavehaven Underground Railroad Museum and soon at Memphis and Shelby County Public Libraries.

If you have any questions or comments, I’d love to hear them, just leave your thoughts below.  We’ll see you next week!

Great News!

The BLUFF CITY MYSTERIES authors will be available to meet and greet and sign copies of our mystery anthology Saturday, February 28 from 11am to 1pm at Book Stop Plus.  They are located at 2810 Bartlett Road in Bartlett.  If you’re in the area, please stop by and say HI!

In the meantime, I’d like to introduce another of the BLUFF CITY MYSTERIES authors, Missy Royer.  Melissa Royer, ‘Missy’ to her her legions of fans, is a working mother of three and grandmother of two. When she isn’t enjoying playtime with her family, or working for ‘the repo man’, she serves as President of Malice in Memphis and co-coordinator of Literary and Speculative Fiction programming for Mid-South Con, a local sci-fi /fantasy convention.

In Trivial Pursuit, Missy tells a shocking story that reveals that sometimes, knowledge about pop culture and trivia can be deadly!

A.S. Where does your story take place?

M.R. The story is set in the Pink Palace Museum,  an award-winning medical exhibit, dioramas of Memphis from precolonial times, and historical artifacts showing the way people lived when Memphis was a bustling river town. The building was originally designed to be the dream home of wealthy entrepreneur Clarence Saunders.

A.S. What inspired you to write this story?

M.R. My main character is based on a friend that enjoys the Trivial circuit in the Memphis area.

A.S. What inspires you to write?

M.R. The love of reading.

A.S. What other genres have you written in?

M.R. Horror, Dark Urban Fantasy, and Poetry

A.S. Thank you for joining us today, Missy.  What’s next for you?

M.R. I am currently working on a ghost story for our next anthology, and I have a horror novel that keeps demanding to be written.

A.S. Never let it be said that I am one to block progress . . . get back to work, girl!  We can’t wait to read it.

Before we go, let’s take a sneak peek into TRIVIAL PURSUIT:

At that moment, Lloyd staggered in. He was still dressed in his lab gear-pale green scrubs with TGM Laboratories emblazoned on the front. Usually he was a meticulous dresser. He never dressed fancy, maybe slacks and a golf shirt, or a nice button up. Never had Greg seen him outside of home or office dressed like this. Greg went to him. “Hey, man, you okay? Where the heck is Mike?”

“He’s not coming, man. He’s dead.”

“What do you mean he’s not coming? Where…” Greg stopped. “Did you say dead?”

Finally lifting his head to meet the confused gaze of the man in front of him, Lloyd repeated, “Dead.” His words were barely a whisper, but Greg heard him loud and clear.

Lloyd’s neat-as-a-pin coif now looked like a rat’s nest, as though he’d been driving his hands through it. The front pocket on Lloyd’s scrubs was hanging open, one corner ripped from the shirt.

“What happened?” Ian asked.

“Was it a heart attack? Some kind of a wreck?” Mia whispered.

“They think he was maybe murdered,” Ian said. “At the Palace.”

BLUFF CITY MYSTERIES is available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Dark Oak Press.  You can also find paperback and hard cover copies locally at Book Stop Plus in Bartlett, South Main Book Juggler in downtown Memphis, and the Slavehaven Underground Railroad Museum, also downtown.  Check us out, you’d be supporting BLUFF CITY MYSTERIES as well as local businesses.

If you have any questions or comments for Missy, or any of the BLUFF CITY MYSTERIES authors, feel free to leave them below in the comment section.

kindlebcmBLUFF CITY MYSTERIES is out and about and making is presence known.  Thank you all again for the love and support you’ve given us in this effort.  In addition to its ongoing availability at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Dark Oak Press, you can now find paperback and hard cover copies locally at Book Stop Plus in Bartlett, South Main Book Juggler in downtown Memphis, and the Slavehaven Underground Railroad Museum, also downtown.  Check us out, you’d be supporting BLUFF CITY MYSTERIES as well as local businesses.

Today, I would like to introduce you to the BLUFF CITY MYSTERIES editor-in-chief and Malice in Memphis’s sergeant at arms, Carolyn McSparren. Carolyn has published seventeen novels in romance, romantic suspense, mystery and women’s fiction. Animals play a role in every one. She has won three Maggie Awards and has been twice nominated for the Romance Writers of America Rita Award. She has lived in Germany, France, Italy, and too many cities in the United States to count. She has one daughter, seven step-children, and too many step-grandchildren to count. She lives on a small farm outside of Memphis, where she rides her half-Clydesdale dressage horse and drives her Halfshire mare to a carriage.  

A.S. Where does your story take place?

C.M. I have two short stories in BLUFF CITY MYSTERIES: The Cinderella Murder takes place during a carriage ride downtown. Long Pig takes place at Tom Lee Park on the Mississippi during one of the barbecue contests.

A.S.  Tell us two or more little known facts about your location?

C.M. The carriages and horses for the downtown carriage rides live in what was once a livery stable way north on Main Street. You’d never know it was there, but it contains horses, tack, feed, carriages—all in perfect order.  Tom Lee Park is named for a gentleman who risked his life saving passengers after a riverboat exploded in the river.

A.S. Why did you choose those settings?

C.M. First, I love horses and carriages. Draft horses are my passion. I know the owners of the company that does the carriage rides and know how pampered those horses are. They are rotated out to a big farm every couple of weeks. Most get very upset when they are left at home. They love their jobs.  As for Long Pig, I do love the Mississippi and anything connected with it. My father used to say I was a Patrio-Fluvofile—a lover of the Father of Rivers. Made up word, but it works.

A.S. What is your writing process?  Favorite aspect?  Least favorite?

C.M. I write a hundred pages quickly, then let the ideas percolate for several weeks before I come back to finish the book. My favorite aspect is that when the book flows, there is no rush like it. My least favorite is that when it doesn’t flow, the writing process is miserable.

A.S. What is your favorite way to off someone in your stories/novels/works in progress?

C.M. Ooh, I can kill people practically anywhere. I look around for ways to commit murder everywhere In my latest mystery, the victim is shot with a crossbow bolt.

A.S.  LOL!  What’s next for you, Carolyn?

C.M. Ghost short stories for the next Malice Anthology. A new series mystery set in an equestrian enclave outside of Memphis.

A.S. Where can your readers find you?

C.M. I am on Facebook, but I don’t always keep up with it. I also blog every Sunday on Storybroads.com.

A.S. Thank you so much, Carolyn for visiting with us today.  Before we leave, I’d like to take a sneak peek into The Cinderella Murders and Long Pig.  Tell us about each story.

C.M. In The Cinderella Murder, a middle-aged carriage driver finds she knows a secret that has gotten one person killed and put her and her horse in danger.

Let’s take a look at THE CINDERELLA MURDER.

Human beings can’t smell fresh human blood. Only after it ages a tad can we catch the metallic scent.

Horses, on the other hand, are much more sensitive to dangerous smells. Several millennia as prey do that. The horse that didn’t run from that red stuff dripping off the fangs of the Saber Tooth tiger didn’t live to breed.

My eighteen-hand black Percheron gelding Samson reacted to the fresh blood just like Eohippus, his cat-sized ancestor. He didn’t like it. He didn’t intend to stay close enough to it to smell.

Unfortunately, he was pulling a fancy Cinderella pumpkin carriage through Saturday night traffic on Union Avenue in Memphis. He didn’t actually bolt. He snorted and bucked a little, but I was able to get him back under control before we hit a car.

The bad thing was that the blood was flowing from the skull of the woman who was sharing the bench seat behind me with Attila the Hunk, one of my favorite clients. No matter how far Samson tried to run from the smell, he dragged it right along behind him.

In Long Pig a team of barbecue cookers discovers that one of its members has been murdered in a particularly horrific way. The heroine has to find out who did the killing if she wants to stay alive herself.

Horrific?  Yeah, that’s one way of putting it.  Let’s take a look at LONG PIG.

He’s probably gone to the bathroom. Besides, did you want to spend the night down here on the river in the rain?”

Nate grumbled. Even if he’d been willing to babysit the porker, his wife, Maureen, would have had a conniption. He had enough trouble getting free of her long enough to pull the morning shift. If she’d known his partner was female, she’d have thrown a flat-out hissy fit, even though I’m long past nubile and even longer past hankering after good ole boys like Nate.

“At least the charcoal’s still lit,” I said. I stripped off my sopping poncho and hung it on one of the tent poles.

Nate sniffed. “I swear the fool’s let the coals get too hot. Boss Hog smells like his skin’s charring.” He grabbed the left hand of a pair of heavy asbestos gloves off a hook at the front of the cooker—the serious kind of mitts that reach almost to the elbows and can be safely dipped in molten lava. He carefully unhooked the clamp that fastened the vaulted lid of the cooker and lifted the lid.

And screamed. And dropped the lid.

Dear Reader, if you have any questions or comments for Carolyn, or any of the BLUFF CITY MYSTERIES authors, feel free to leave them below in the comment section.

Join us again next week, when we’ll meet Missy Royer, president of Malice in Memphis.

kindlebcmMalice in Memphis is a local group of mystery writers and as you’re doubtlessly aware by now, we have published our first anthology of mystery shorts, BLUFF CITY MYSTERIES. The two commonalities that run throughout all fifteen stories is that they are set in Memphis Tennessee and there’s an unsolved murder. What happens next lies strictly within the imagination of the individual writers.

SILVER STAR, penned by today’s guest, James “Jim” Paavola is one of those stories that linger long after you’ve turned the last page. It has been said that mystery writers, generally speaking, are on a quest for justice and fair play, factors which are woven throughout this short story.  The story opens with the nighttime discovery of a body in the shadow of downtown Memphis—behind the FedEx Forum, within two blocks of the sounds of Beale, four blocks east of the crowds emptying from the Orpheum Theatre, and across the street from the unassuming outline of St. Patrick’s Catholic Church.

Jim is a gifted writer and has published four full-length novels in his Murder in Memphis series . . . so far.  You can find each of them on Amazon, among other venues and they include:  They Gotta Sleep SometimeWhich One Dies Today?, The Chartreuse Envelope, and Blood Money

Dr. James “Jim” Paavola has been a psychologist for over forty years. His areas of focus have been children, adolescents, families, and the educational system. Jim began writing at age sixty-four. He is currently working on his fifth novel in the Murder In Memphis series—murders investigated by fictional Memphis Police Department Lieutenant Julia Todd. The stories are set in Memphis, and highlight topics of the day, such as the economic collapse, the stock market, bullying, retirement communities, the health insurance industry, money laundering, Mexican cartels, and proposed non-discrimination protection for the LGBT community.

A.S. Tell us two or more little known facts about your location?

J.P. St. Pat’s played an active role during the racial tensions of the 1960’s. It was one of the first churches in Memphis to enthusiastically seek and support a racially integrated congregation. The church clergy and members carried out a social justice agenda—feed the poor and tutor the children in one of the city’s larger housing projects. St. Pat’s was often the sight of planning sessions for protest marches and civic action. The iconic I Am A Man placards displayed in the Memphis sanitation workers’ strike were created by a St. Patrick parishioner’s printing company.

A.S. Why St. Patrick’s Cathedral?

J.P.  St. Pat’s has always been committed to actively serving victims of poverty and racism. The final steps of the murder victim in The Silver Star took him to St. Patrick’s in search of peace for his soul and justice for his victimization.

A.S. What inspires you to write?

J.P. Some form of bullying plays a role in each of my four books in the Murder In Memphis series—domestic violence, classic school bullying, abuse, and assault, as well as greedy individuals and companies who mercilessly rip people off . . . because they can. My novels highlight a ruthless hedge fund manager who seeks to regain her money at any cost; school bullies whose impact is felt across generations; a disreputable health insurance company that allows subscribers to die in order to pad their bottom line, and Mexican cartels whose disregard for human life knows no limits. The as-yet-unpublished/untitled fifth novel in the series involves hate crimes targeting homosexuals. 

A.S. What other genres have you written in?

J.P. To date, all my publications are murder mysteries involving the fictional Memphis police Lieutenant Julia Todd and her investigative team. I started writing in retirement, publishing my first novel at age 66. This was followed by three other police procedure books in the Murder In Memphis. I donate a portion of sales of these books to the non-profit organization supporting law enforcement in Memphis and Shelby County. The fifth book in the series is due out in 2015.  I’m also branching out into the paranormal mystery genre in the form of two short stories to be included in the next Malice anthology.

A.S. That is so awesome! Where can readers find you?

J.P.  Copies of my books can be found in Memphis at the main library, The Booksellers of Laurelwood, and The Trolley Stop Market. Paperback copies are also available at Amazon.com and B&N.com (if you click on the title links above, they will take you directly to the Amazon site). E-books are available at the usual dot com sites (e.g. Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, Sony, the Apple Book store, etc.). Signed paperback copies of my books are available at http://www.jamespaavola.blogspot.com. 

Thank you for talking with me today, Jim.  Before we go, let’s take a closer look at SILVER STAR.  The body of a nameless, one-armed, African-American male is discovered. A missing person report reveals an Iraq War veteran, a recipient of the Silver Star for heroism, who survived the war only to be murdered in downtown Memphis. His final minutes are spent trying to protect a young white girl from being assaulted. The bond between the injured girl and the dead veteran gives the girl courage to overcome her fear, help police find his killer, and deliver justice for them both.

Here’s an excerpt:

Back at the Regional Forensic Center, Bailey winced as he came through the door. The morgue’s antiseptic smell was strong, but not enough to mask the odor of death. Sales stared at the body.

“Doc, you okay?” Bailey asked, crossing the room.

“I’ve been in this business a long time,” she said quietly, her eyes glistening.

“This one getting to you?”

“I’ve seen lots of things, Sergeant. Horrific things. Every once in a while I feel such a strong bond.” She paused, shaking her head faintly. “Look at these scars covering his left side, his face and head. Chunks of his body gone, not to mention most of his arm. He’s obviously had major surgeries, and physical therapy would have hurt. He went through hell for his country, for us…for me. Then he comes back to Memphis only to run into an American terrorist. Yeah, he got to me. This John Doe screams for justice. Me, too. You find that SOB.”

If you, reader, have any questions for Jim or any of the BLUFF CITY MYSTERIES writers, feel free to leave them in the comments section below. 

Also, don’t forget: you can find BLUFF CITY MYSTERIES in both print and e-book at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and our publisher, Dark Oak Press and locally, the book is available at Book Stop Plus in Bartlett.

Join us next week, when we will meet Carolyn McSparren, novelist and editor for BLUFF CITY MYSTERIES.

kindlebcm Happy 2015!

I hope you’ll forgive us but we’re still celebrating.  Not just the dawn of a new year but the realization of a long held dream.

The publication of BLUFF CITY MYSTERIES!

BLUFF CITY MYSTERIES is an anthology of mystery shorts penned just for you by members of Malice in Memphis.  The book is now available in both print and ebook at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and our publisher, Dark Oak Press.

Today, I’d like to introduce you to another BLUFF CITY MYSTERIES author, Elizabeth Ann Smith.  Following a career in advertising, Elizabeth Smith turned to teaching. Most recently, she taught high school and decided that all the problems of the world could be easily solved simply by asking a teenager what they would do–something her two daughters tried to tell her many times.  Ann is the author of four novels including A BITTERSWEET BED and NOBODY’S BABY available now on Amazon (click links).

In addition to her talent as a writer, Ann is also a gifted artist.  If you flip through the introductions of each of the fifteen stories featured in BLUFF CITY MYSTERIES, you will find beautiful samples of her work; she sketched the  illustrations that represent the settings for each story. Presently, Ann lives in South Carolina with her husband, Don, where she continues to write stories of romance, mystery and suspense.

Ann’s story, An Artful Death is set in the James Lee House at the corner of Adams and Orleans in Memphis.  The James Lee House was built in 1848 and for many years was home to the Memphis Academy of Art.

AS:  Tell us two or more little known facts about your location?

ES: The house was built in an area once known as “millionaire’s row.” From 1925 to 1959, the 8,100 square foot mansion housed an art school, which was later known as Memphis Academy of Arts, then Memphis College of Art. After sitting vacant for over fifty years, it has undergone a major restoration and is now a bed and breakfast.

AS: Why did you choose that setting?

ES: As a child, I attended art classes there, and I’ve always been fascinated by this house. Even in its deteriorated state, it was beautiful. The incident with the fireplace mantle that I use in my story actually happened on a Saturday morning during class–minus the body, of course.

AS: What other genres have you written in?

ES: Romance, Mystery, and Suspense

AS: What is your writing process? Favorite aspect? Least favorite?

ES: If a one word description would do, I’d say, “Slow.” The first draft is handwritten, and I usually fill up four or five notebooks. I do revisions when I put it in the computer, and after that more revisions follow. I love the burst of energy and the excitement that comes with the initial writing process, and everything after that is not nearly as much fun. For me, revisions are just a part of the process.

AS: What’s next for you?

ES: I’ve just finished the first draft of a contemporary romance, and I’m halfway through the first draft of a romantic suspense with a WWII setting.

AS: Where can our readers learn more about you or just keep in touch?


Thank you so much, Ann for stopping by Angelyn’s Crimes of Passion today.  Before we go however, let’s take a sneak peak into An Artful Death.

The still life was supposed to be fruit in a bowl. At least that was the assignment my art instructor, Mr. Copeland, had planned for the Saturday morning class of twelve-to fifteen-year-olds. But that was before the intricately carved, French fireplace surround in the old Victorian house crashed to the floor. Marble dust exploded into the room, and the students’ screams turned into choking coughs. Frantically, Mr. Copeland motioned for everyone to leave the second floor classroom.

Just as I was about to join the stampede, the remaining part of the wall that jutted out to form the fireplace, cracked and fell from its lath skeleton. Inside sat a body completely coated in white powder. Within seconds the body fell to the floor.

And thanks to you, reader, for stopping by.  If you have any questions for Ann or any of the BLUFF CITY MYSTERIES authors, feel free to leave them in the comments section below.

Also, big thanks for your support of BLUFF CITY MYSTERIES.  Some of you have verbally informed us how much you are enjoying the stories.  If so, would you mind posting a review of your thoughts on Amazon, B&N and/or Dark Oak Press?  These days, an author’s success or failure is based in large part on reviews (of course, word of mouth sales don’t hurt either), so anything you can do to help will be appreciated.

Finally, our promotional campaign will be kicking off officially this month.  Please check back here or the Malice in Memphis website and FACEBOOK pages for a schedule of events.

We look forward to “seeing” you next week when we interview our next author, James Paavala.


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