Malice in Memphis presents BLUFF CITY MYSTERIES: Meet . . . ME

MARK YOUR CALENDARS:

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!

Malice in Memphis presents: Bluff City Mysteries – Meet Missy Royer

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.

Malice in Memphis presents – Bluff City Mysteries: Meet Carolyn McSparren

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.

Malice in Memphis presents: BLUFF CITY MYSTERIES – Meet Jim Paavola

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.

Malice in Memphis presents: BLUFF CITY MYSTERIES. Meet Elizabeth Ann Smith

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?

EShttp://www.facebook.com/ElizabethSmithBooks

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.

Merry Christmas!

Due to the Christmas holiday weekend, I’m going to step away from the computer for a few days; the interviews for BLUFF CITY MYSTERIES authors will return next week.

Instead, I’m going to concentrate on finding creative ways of loving up my little family.  Don’t you just love the reminder that Christmas brings?  That God has love for us all,  and he demonstrates that love (without actions, its just words, right?) through the gift of His son.  I’m looking at my child right now as I write this and the enormity of that sacrifice overwhelms me.  I’m not sure that I’d be willing to even consider offering up my child even if I knew his life could save the world.

There’s a lot going on in the world, Ferguson, New York . . . Memphis.  Images all over the internet and other media are so depressing and show just how unlovable human beings can be.  But apparently, God sees something in us worth sacrificing for and I’m doing my best to follow His example.

For my Christian friends, I pray you a very Merry Christmas.  I pray that you turn aside anger, bitterness, conflict and strife and for just a little while, look beyond all that and see the God in your loved ones, the beauty that makes them worth fighting for, worth sacrificing for . . . worth loving.

For my friends celebrating Hanukkah, God bless you.

Have a blessed weekend and I’ll see you back here next week.

-a

Malice in Memphis presents: BLUFF CITY MYSTERIES. Meet Kristi Bradley

kindlebcmMuch love and heartfelt thanks to those of you who celebrated with us last week during the release party for BLUFF CITY MYSTERIES.  Dee Price was the winner of the autographed hard cover copy of BLUFF CITY MYSTERIES.  Congrats, Dee!  We are still offering a $10 Amazon gift card for the next person who posts a review of the book on Amazon.

Malice in Memphis is now gearing up for our first in-person author reading/signing.  On December 31st, yes, New Year’s Eve at 6pm, we hope to see you at the Spaghetti Warehouse on Huling.  We will be on hand to answer questions, read excerpts from the book as well as sign.  Paper and hard cover copies will be available for purchase on site.  You may also purchase in advance, in E-book and print form at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Dark Oak Press.

Today, I have the distinct pleasure in introducing you to Kristi Bradley.  Born and raised in Memphis, Tennessee, wife, mother of three, step-mother of one, grandmother of two, owned by three cats, two dogs and a guinea pig, and employed at a local underground construction equipment company just to feed the brood. You’d think that would keep her busy jut no, she also performs the duties of Vice President for Malice in Memphis and is co-coordinator and literary chair for Mid-SouthCon, a local sci-fi/fantasy convention. When not involved in one of those activities, reading or spending time with her family and friends, she writes and paints her own versions of reality. Kristi has two submissions in BLUFF CITY MYSTERIESMurder in Midtown and Voodoo Village are her first publications.

Thank you so much for joining me today, Kristi.  I love that you chose the urban legend surrounding Voodoo Village as the backdrop for one of your stories.  Located deep in south Memphis on a deserted, overgrown and darkened road, Voodoo Village was founded by Wash Harris in the 1960s as Saint Paul’s Holiness Temple. Every since their arrival there has been over fifty plus years of unsubstantiated rumors of ritualistic sacrifice and dark magic.  The family has always denied these allegations and none of it has ever been substantiated.  Still, the Harris family continues to jealously guard their privacy behind chain-linked fences and gates overflowing with unusual and shocking imagery, which Harris claimed to be symbols of God.

A.S.  So, Kristi, what else can you add about the mystery surrounding Voodoo Village?

K.B.  Those who dare to visit Voodoo Village will find a small, peculiar, fenced-in compound nestled among the trees. On first pass, the gate may be closed. On second pass, the gate may be open, beckoning entrance.

Just remember…

You may enter.

But you may not leave.

A.S. Okay, now that’s just spooky.  Tell us about the story you created.

K.B.  An impromptu visit to Voodoo Village doesn’t go as planned, leaving one person missing and  prompting lots of questions but few answers.

A.S.  I think you’ve got spooky and scary down pretty good.  What inspired you to write this story?

K.B.  I volunteered to write this story for our former Malice in Memphis president, Phyllis Appleby, who wanted a story about Voodoo Village included our anthology.  The idea, I can only blame on the darkest recesses of my mind.

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

K.B.  Besides mystery, I’ve also written in the Fantasy and Romance genres.

A.S. Describe your writing process? Favorite aspect? Least favorite?

K.B.  My writing process is pretty simple. I research first, then plant butt in chair and write. I don’t plot, I let the story flow naturally and see where it takes me. And the journey never ends up where I first think it will. That’s the fun part.

A.S.  What’s next for you?

K.B. I am currently working on two ghost stories for the next Malice anthology and I’m shopping an urban fantasy manuscript, as well as a paranormal romance short story to various editors and publishers.

A.S. Good luck with that process.  I’ve read the short story and found it compelling.  Where can our readers connect with you?

K.B.  Find me on Facebook! Kristi Bradley.

Before we leave, let’s take a quick glimpse into VOODOO VILLAGE by Kristi Bradley.

“The gate is open. An invitation to enter,” Randy said.

“What?” Molly cried. “We can’t go in there.”

John hesitated. Randy kicked his seat. “Sure we can.”

John floored it.

Molly gripped the seat as the car bounced down the pitted drive. Movement caught her eye from one of the crosses, and vanished as quickly. She couldn’t stop her gasp. “We need to leave! This is private property.”

The car continued down the debris-lined, curving path, past several buildings and a variety of old cars, trucks and miscellaneous junk. She begged John to turn the car around, even tried to get Randy to intervene, but he just laughed at her. Dread landed like a lead weight in her belly.

“Look, John. The road goes into the trees,” Randy said.

John took the hint, steered down the foggy path.

“Don’t,” Molly shouted, ducking as brush hit the vehicle.

The car jerked to a halt, lost power, plunged them into total darkness.

I hope y’all enjoy reading Voodoo Village as much as I did.  You can find it among a whole host of mystery short stories in BLUFF CITY MYSTERIES now available from Dark Oak Press.

 

BLUFF CITY MYSTERIES virtual release party

We are having a party, ya’ll and each of you are cordially invited. After years of hard work and dedication, the first anthology from Malice in Memphis, a mystery writer’s group, BLUFF CITY MYSTERIES is here and we want to celebrate!  Kristi has already cracked a bottle!

Please stop by the BLUFF CITY MYSTERIES Virtual Release Party Facebook page this Saturday, December 13, 2014  from 11am to 2pm central time. This will be a great time to meet and greet the authors.  This is the holiday season and so you know there’ll be games and gifts, and a chance to win an autographed copy of BLUFF CITY MYSTERIES.

Hope to see you there!

Malice in Memphis presents: BLUFF CITY MYSTERIES – Meet Juanita Dunn Houston

kindlebcm  As many of you already know, BLUFF CITY MYSTERIES released November 26, 2014!  It’s currently available in E-book and print form at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Dark Oak Press.

Today, I am talking to Juanita Dunn Houston, another of our BLUFF CITY MYSTERIES authors.  Juanita was born and raised in Memphis and where, except for a fourteen year break while her husband served in the military, she continues to reside her with aforementioned hubby and a fur baby named Sugarbee.

Juanita serves as secretary for Malice in Memphis and is the editor of the Malice in Memphis monthly newsletter, Malice’s Dead To Writes.  In addition to being a talented writer, Juanita expresses her creativity through machine embroidery, sewing and, her latest passion, painting.

Juanita’s story, MUTINY ON MUD ISLAND, takes us on a tour of the River Terrace restaurant (love that place!) on Mud Island, a small inlet peninsula just off the bluff in downtown Memphis.  The story shows us that murder can happen even in the prettiest of places.

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

JDH: I am not sure if this is little known or not but there is a museum along the riverwalk and river boats located inside the main building. Also Mud Island and the museum were used in the movie “The Firm” including the monorail.

AS: Why did you choose that setting?

JDH: I was attending the Pirate Faire a couple of years ago and realized that with so many people in costume it would be easy for a killer to be hiding in plain sight and never know who to suspect. I used to work downtown years ago and it has always held a fascination for me.

AS: What other genres have you written in?

JDH: I stick pretty much to mysteries as that has always been my favorite genre.

AS: What is your favorite way to off someone in your stories/novels/works in progress?

JDH: This pretty much depends on my mood but I like to find some unique ways to kill off my characters.

AS: What’s next for you?

JDH: I hope to write a couple of ghost stories for the next anthology which is based in the West Tennessee area. I also plan on working on some paintings.   For the most part I think I am a better painter than writer (and I am not that good of a painter), lol ,though I do have fun editing and producing the newsletter.

AS: Where can your readers find you? Facebook, Twitter, Blog, Website?

JDH:  You can find me on Facebook under Juanita Dunn Houston and Juanita D. Houston, Artist.

Thank you, Juanita.  One last thing before you leave, let’s take a sneak peek into MUTINY ON MUD ISLAND:

Lee Wallace’s body stared up at the early dawn sky without seeing it. His throat had been cut with a rapier sword, and he had bled out into the Mississippi. Wallace had been making his last rounds before his shift ended, to make sure Mud Island was prepared for the Pyrate Faire. Members of the Mid-South Buccaneers would be arriving in a couple of hours to set up. Lee Wallace never heard the person come up behind him as he walked the back of the amphitheater.

The killer looked out over the water trying to assess if he could be seen from the other side. But at that hour, it was doubtful anyone was awake, let alone out. He checked his watch which read 4:55. Soon the whole island would be bustling with people in costumes setting up as well as visitors. People would arrive to shop and enjoy a day at the Pyrate Faire. These types of festivals and fairs always drew a lot of people so it probably wouldn’t take long for the body to be found.

That was fine with him. He had originally thought this would be his first and only kill, but since he had really enjoyed it, he decided that this was going to be the first of many.

Thank you for joining us today and check back weekly to learn more about the authors of BLUFF CITY MYSTERIES.

It’s so much better when we take our time

I have participated in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) every year since I first learned of its existence in 2010 and most years, met the 50k word count goal.  I value this month for many reasons that I won’t list here but I primarily participate because it helps to improve overall productivity  as well as gives me a much needed degree of accountability.

NaNoWriMo forces me to insert butt in chair every day and because of the required word count that mean sacrifices, e.g., family time, play time, housework.  One month out of a year, okay, I’ll make that sacrifice for my art, but I  cannot realistically write that way the rest of the year.

Besides, as Chris Abani so blithely dismissed during my VONA workshop, the first draft of your work in progress is, “just notes”.  NOTES??!! I thought.  Two-hundred and twenty-nine pages of NOTES?

Yep, pretty much.  So, at the end of NaNoWriMo 2013, I had two hundred and twenty-nine pages of a beginning, middle and most-of-the-end, and when I looked at them for the first time in January, I finally understood what he meant.  I’d anticipated that revisions would be a breeze and would involve primarily spell check and line edits.

Not so.

You’ve heard the saying “writing is revision” or “writing comes with the re-write”?  I’ve found out just how true this is.  While I skipped, flipped and jumped to have a near-completed draft last November, the REAL story, the one that’s been in my head for the past couple years?  That story emerged in my revisions.

This is a much slower process and does not always involve sitting my butt in the chair for hours on end.  Sometimes, ideas comes while I’m at work, sitting in church, talking with my kid, bathing the dog.  There may be days when I never reach my computer and there may be days that I never leave my office but I am ALWAYS writing and revising.

I chose not to participate in NaNoWriMo this year though it was very tempting, I always get a huge headstart on whatever project I’m working on.   And it is for this reason, that I will continue to participate in future years.  However, the real work happens now on a two week schedule with accountability coming from my critique group, MemphiSlores.  Think of it as the difference between a microwave vs a slow cooker or crockpot.

Two recent articles helped to clarify this process for me.  The first one,  “Like Slow Food, Slow Writing Deepens the Flavor of Your Words” (Grub Street).

I began to notice that the final version of each message illuminated truths about myself and my situation that were not clear in the first draft. This slower writing process allowed elements to come forth that could not be revealed in a quick Facebook post or even a conversation. –Marie Pechet

Today’s Daily Post, talks about “Gestation of Ideas: On Vertical Writing and Living”, an article by Nick Ripatrazone.  He makes several good points but the one that struck a chord in me was his explanation about horizontal vs. vertical writing.

Vertical writing, in contrast, values depth over breadth. Stories are written when they are ready to be written; they are not forced into existence by planning or excessive drafting. Horizontal writing seeks to move across the page; vertical writing seeks to dig into the page, to value the building of character and authenticity over the telegraphing of plot. The folly of horizontal writing is that it convinces writers that fiction writing operates on a production model. If they simply sit at the desk and pound out page after page, the story will come.  –Nick Ripatrazone

There is no absolute right or wrong process when it comes to writing a novel, I imagine the ways are as varied as the writers who produce them.  Vertical writing (how cool is it that it has a name?!) is how I write.

What about you?