Category Archives: Guests


Welcome to my blog! Today I have Jim Cort talking about the laws of robotics.

Here’s Jim!

How many times have you read in a science fiction story or seen in an SF movie a scene where a robot comes into the room? One character, obviously the country mouse, betrays uneasiness. The robot reassures him in his mechanized voice: “Do not be alarmed.  I am incapable of harming a human.” Incapable of harming a human? Who says so?

Isaac Asimov, that’s who.

Isaac Asimov (1920 – 1992) was one of the shapers of modern science fiction. He was a scientist first. He graduated from Columbia University in 1948, with a PhD in Chemistry and became an instructor in Biochemistry at the Boston University School of Medicine in 1949. He worked his way up to a tenured professorship, but all the while was pursuing a second career as a writer of science fiction.

SF had pretty much been adolescent fantasy fare since the inception of the pulp magazines in the 1920’s. The stories featured space rangers hot-rodding around the galaxy in hopped-up space ships, tough interplanetary gangsters, beautiful lady astrophysicists, and horrid bug-eyed monsters who menaced them. Those stories that featured robots usually followed the Frankenstein formula: the creation that turns on its master.

Asimov joined the growing ranks of science fiction writers who were also scientists or engineers. By the time he wrote his first story in 1938, the “space opera” model described above was being replaced by readable stories with believable characters and credible science, especially in the magazine Astounding Science Fiction, edited by John W. Campbell.

Asimov’s stories concerning robots were collected in the book I, Robot. The portrayal of robots in these stories is far removed from the mechanical monsters of the past. Asimov brings this about in large part by introducing the Three Laws of Robotics.

The Three Laws of Robotics are:

1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.

2. A robot must obey orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.

3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

Asimov said that editor John Campbell thought them up, and Campbell said Asimov did. The two men probably developed them together during various discussions of Asimov’s ideas. Whatever the truth may be, these laws became Holy Writ for the SF writers who followed.  The laws are so elegant; so logical; so simply stated, yet so potentially complex, that they became axiomatic for every story dealing with robots.  Writers treated them as a kind of natural law, like gravity.

three lawsThe laws are recursive, that is, they refer back on themselves in a strict hierarchy. Each law is subordinate to the law above it (with a lower number.) This is a common structure in computer programs (like the “if” clause) where an action is performed only if certain conditions are met. The flowchart shows the workings of the three laws when a robot is contemplating a certain action. The chart assumes the existence of one of the many “Fourth Laws” that writers have posited: “A robot may do as it pleases, so long as this does not conflict with the First, Second, or Third laws.”

Most of the stories in I, Robot work variations on the interaction of the three laws. In “Runaround”, we see how a conflict among the laws might be resolved. In “Liar”, the concept of harm is examined. In “Little Lost Robot”, Asimov explores what may happen if the delicate balance of the laws is upset by modification. In all of these stories, the robots are characters, not merely plot devices. (And, by the way, the 2004 movie with Will Smith has almost nothing in common with the book.)

If the Three Laws were all Asimov had done, his place in the SF Hall of Fame would be assured. But his career went from strength to strength. He continued to write stories and novels, and wrote numerous non-fiction works about science, literature, The Bible—pretty much anything that took his fancy. In the course of his career he wrote or edited over 500 books. He won eight Hugo and three Nebula awards, and one of his stories, “Nightfall,” was voted the best science-fiction story of all time by the members of the Science Fiction Writers of America (SFWA). In 1987 he was declared a Grand Master by the SFWA. Ten years later he was inducted posthumously into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame.

So the next time a robot tells you it won’t harm you, you can believe it.

Cindy here again!

I saw that movie. Haven’t read the book though. I think I should see if I can find a copy.

Until next time…



Meet the Villain: The Axeman of New Orleans + a giveaway

Welcome to the blog! Today I have Suzanne Johnson talking about the villain in her new book Elysian Fields.

Here’s Suzanne!

The first book that ever scared me was Stephen King’s IT. I was probably too young to be reading that particular novel, and the idea of something so evil it could change into whatever you feared most was terrifying. And seriously—did anyone read that book and not fear clowns?

Now I find myself writing my own brand of monsters, both paranormal and human. Or, in the case of the Axeman of New Orleans, both.

I knew that in my book Elysian Fields, I wanted to bring back a historical villain from New Orleans’ rich past. This member of the Historical Undead—which in my world are famous humans granted immortality by the magic of human memory—was going to be controlled by a wizard necromancer and out to kill my heroine, so he had to be Big, Bad, and Ugly.

New Orleans has been the per-capita murder capital off and on for hundreds of years, so there were plenty of baddies from which to choose. But I finally settled on the Axeman.

In 1918 and 1919, this never-identified killer committed attack after attack throughout New Orleans, usually hacking up his victims with an ax in the middle of the night as they slept, then leaving the ax at the scene. He wasn’t discriminatory—he attacked men, women, even children. He attacked in the French Quarter, and he attacked across the river on what today is called the Westbank.

That isn’t even the creepy part. After more than a year of attacks and deaths with no solid leads on who he was, the Axeman got cocky in March 1919 and wrote a taunting letter to the daily Times-Picayune, which ran it on the front page. The handwritten note, which claimed to be written from hell, was addressed to “Esteemed Mortal.” It claimed that “I am not a human being, but a spirit and demon from the hottest hell” and the efforts of the police “have been so utterly stupid as to not only amuse me, but His Satanic Majesty.” Then, he promised to kill again, at 12:15 a.m. on a particular date—unless a home was playing jazz music.

Jazz played all over New Orleans that night. And the Axeman didn’t attack. Well, until a few days later.

Seriously. You can’t make this stuff up! So I had great fun resurrecting the Axeman once again and bringing him to modern New Orleans to chase after my poor wizard heroine DJ.


Elysian_Fields-Hi-Res-Final            A creaking sound overhead stopped me cold. It was the squeaky floorboard in my upstairs sitting room, which lay at the top of the stairs.

            I relaxed my shoulders and took a deep breath to slow down my heart rate, which had begun to jackrabbit in erratic spurts. I was being paranoid. I lived in a house that had been built in 1879. It settled. It creaked. When the wind blew hard, it moaned. I was just jumpy.

            The floor overhead creaked again, followed by a thump and the re-acceleration of my heart rate. Holy crap. That was not the sound of a house settling.

            I slipped out of my silly red heels, grabbed my clutch bag, and tiptoed toward the back door. I’d drive my rental car to the Gator and hang out.  Chicken? Yes, but better fearful and breathing than brave and dead.

            I picked up the broken elven staff from the kitchen counter and, pausing on the back stoop, pulled my cell phone out of my bag and punched Alex’s speed dial. Voice mail. I tried Ken next, while walking gingerly across the gravel parking lot. He answered on the first ring.

            “It’s DJ,” I whispered. “Somebody’s in my house.” And now, walking heavily down my stairs. I ran toward the car.

            “Where are you?” Ken asked.

            “Trying to get to the car.” I fumbled the keys and dropped them in the gravel.

            “Drive to my place now—stay on the phone with me until you get here.”

            Finally, I had the key at the lock. “Okay, I’m getting—”

            Something jerked my head backward, throwing me off balance. Almost suspended by a fist in my hair, I looked up into the horrific face of the Axeman. I think he was smiling, but since burned flesh hung off his blackened face in gobbets, it was hard to tell. He looked mad, as in both angry and insane….

Now, here’s the scariest part of all…he’s being controlled by a wizard. Which means that while the Axeman might be a villain, there’s an even bigger villain pulling the strings. And he’s probably not a clown.

What’s the baddest villain you’ve encountered in your reading journey—human or otherwise? Leave a comment for a chance to win a $10 Amazon gift card.


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Buy on Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

Cindy here again!

Thanks for being here, Suzanne. I love a good villain. And yours sounds very creepy.

Don’t forget to comment for a chance to win a gift card.

Until next time…



Top 10 horror movie villains – part 1

Welcome back to the blog! Today I have Jeffrey Charles talking about one of my favourite topics. Horror movie villains. Below is the beginning of his top ten list.

Here’s Jeffrey!

A dark and spooky night with a full moon. A summer’s eve suddenly becoming as cold as a winter day. The shrill cry of pure terror from some poor, unsuspecting victim. These are the true loves of any horror movie villain. Over the years there has been a plethora of villains in every genre of film.

I thought of making a list about my favourite villains but soon realized if I didn’t narrow down my selections the list would need to be at least 100, not a simple ten. So what I have done instead is narrow it down to my top ten horror movie villains. So sit back, flick off your lights and enjoy!

10)  Pinhead – Hellraiser series. So to start my list I have chosen Pinhead from the Clive Barker created Hellraiser series. Pinhead, leader of the Cenobites, is as creepy as they come. After a decade of horror movies that seemed to always have a wise-cracking killer/monster Pinhead showed up to finally restore some true fear into the genre.

An iconic figure in the world of horror, most recognize Pinhead’s actual head most. Pale as the moon with completely black eyes and covered with pins he truly is a horrifying sight nobody would want to see in their dreams.

What Pinhead may have lacked in personality; despite his articulate way of speaking, he made up for in creativity. More specific, his creative forms of torture and maiming his victims. Throughout the series Pinhead just never seemed to be truly destroyed, making him that much more frightening.

9)   The Thing – John Carpenter’s The Thing. While one might think this to be outside the horror genre and more sci-fi, the film takes place on Earth and shows not just a horrific creature from another world but also the effects of cabin fever on a group of terrified men. I consider this one to be more horror than anything else.

The Thing is a strange alien creature found near an Antarctic research station. More of a giant parasitic life form, the Thing is able to completely transform into a replica of whatever living thing it has consumed. Animal or human it will imitate other life in order to kill and eat.

Now place it in a small research facility during a dangerous blizzard with several tired, armed scientists and watch the paranoia unfold. The idea of a malicious being with a never-ending appetite that can shape itself into any form is truly scary.

8)   Dracula – Dracula/Bram Stoker’s Dracula. This entry would be filled up alone on all the different forms of Dracula that have been portrayed over the years but all seem to keep the basic roots of the fiendishly clever vampire.

Originally vampires were always seen as ugly, disgustingly rotted corpses bent on draining blood from humans. Then along came Dracula. He wasn’t ugly at all, surprisingly handsome in fact. He also wasn’t stupid either, on the contrary he was extremely intelligent and cunning.

On top of being the greatest and most powerful vampire ever known, Dracula also had many tricks to help him. No, his chest did not get sparkly to attract his victims. Instead Dracula used his eyes to deeply mesmerize a victim. If he needed to get closer he could also turn into a bat or wolf. An absolutely horrifying being, Dracula could never be left off a list like this.

7)   Leatherface – The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. In a time when horror movies mostly focused on ghosts, demons and monsters Leatherface burst onto the scene and completely changed the landscape. Inspired by real-life serial killer Ed Gein, Leatherface usually wore the peeled off skin from his victims, especially their faces.

If his ignorance to hygiene wasn’t frightening enough, he was also a beast of a man. Standing somewhere around 6’5”-6’8” tall and weighing in the neighbourhood of 250+ pounds Leatherface towered over every victim.

Using his brute strength and experience from being a cow butcher, Leatherface easily dismembered all who crossed his path. On top of being able to pull anyone apart by hand Leatherface also used his favourite weapon; the chainsaw, to terrorize his helpless victims.

Well that is all I will leave you with for now, but I will return with entries 6, 5 and 4 in the next installment. Until then, pleasant dreams!

Jeffrey is one of sixteen authors with stories in Nefarious North.

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Cindy here again!

Great list so far, Jeffrey.  Can’t wait to see the rest of it.

Until next time…



Trouble with the Troubles

Welcome to my blog. Today I’ve got author Jim Cort talking about a savage period in Irish history. The Troubles.

Here’s Jim!

My novel The Lonely Impulse deals in part with the Troubles, that period of savage bloodletting and sectarian violence that ripped through Northern Ireland in the 1960’s and 70’s. Why the Troubles? Why Ireland? I am not of Irish descent. I have never been in a riot. I have never shot a large caliber firearm, or had one shot at me.

So why the Troubles?

I knew I wanted my protag to be an outsider, a stranger with no support system, so: a foreigner. I wanted him to be familiar with weapons, no stranger to violence, perhaps a disillusioned freedom fighter or guerrilla. But I also needed him to be from a culture I had half a chance of understanding. That ruled out Iraq and Afganistan. It ruled out India and Pakistan and most African countries, Mexico, Central and South America. I needed someplace I could tell the truth about, and not fall back on movie clichés.

It would also be nice if he spoke English.

That pretty much left me with Australia, Scotland, England, Ireland and Wales. Ireland seemed the best bet. Northern Ireland has suffered for decades from fanatics with guns and fanatics with bombs killing each other for no reason that makes sense to anyone else. In addition, there was much more research material on Ireland’s Troubles than there was on anyplace else’s. The Troubles was his backstory.

The story, in its bare bones, was simple enough. Milo Costigan sees his life as ruined because he can’t escape his violent past in the Provos—or the memory of the betrayal by his best friend. When a woman, who seems to know too much about him, tries to hire him to recover some property stolen from her employer and kill the man who stole it, he refuses. Then she plays a tape-recorded phone message of the thief’s ransom demand, and Costigan hears the voice of the man whom he has vowed to kill on sight if they ever meet again – the man he once called his friend.

I had to do my research. I didn’t have much access to the Internet, so I did it the old fashioned way. I read every copy of Time and Newsweek that mentioned Ireland, Belfast, the IRA, Provos, bombs, riots, and any other topic I could think of, from 1963 to the present day. I also read McClean’s, The Economist, and The New York Times. I read books by people who had grown up in Belfast, by journalists who lived there. I studied Belfast slang and speech patterns. I pored over maps of the city, noting various spots where the action would take place. Oh, yes—and I had to find out how a nuclear power plant runs.

If I hadn’t done all that research, I wouldn’t have been able to write a passage like this:

Trouble with the Troubles - Lonely Impulse coverHe thought of the Brit soldiers on internment night in August 1971.  He saw them again, breaking down doors in the dead of night and rousting everyone out.  He heard again the crashing of dust bin lids on the pavement, a signal the wives and mothers of the Falls had come up with to warn when the Brits were near— the “Belfast telegraph.”

Half the poor sods the Brits picked up that night were no more IRA than Edward Heath.  The Army took old Republicans and civil rights marchers.  They took old Mr. Lynch down the road, who was eighty and could barely see, and his son Jimmy, who was retarded.  If your name was on the list, they took you.  If your name wasn’t on the list, they insisted it was and took you anyway.  The Army took fathers for sons, brothers for brothers, and sometimes made no pretense of confusion, but simply said, “If he’s not here, you’ll do.”

They all wound up behind the wire at Long Kesh prison.  Their wives and mothers and younger brothers drove down the M1 to visit once a month.  The wives and mothers returned with stories of beatings and interrogations, and the younger brothers joined the Provos.  Half the internees were released within a few weeks, a tacit admission by the Brits of the blunders they had made, and many of them joined the Provos as well.

The book turned out well. Critics said, “Panic, treachery and carnage, in addition to nuclear extortion are all offered in this well written work”; (My goodness.) and “…a fast-paced, action-filled, character-driven thriller.”

I’d like to know what you think. You can find The Lonely Impulse here:

Cindy here again!

Fascinating post, Jim. Loved the approach you took to research. I had no idea there was a period called the Troubles in Ireland.

Until next time…



Villains – what makes them memorable?

Today I have Marian Lanouette talking about villains! What makes a good villain in fiction? read on to find out!

Here’s Marian!

book (119) book profile picAren’t we all a little villainous? Didn’t you take that last piece of cake when you knew your brother was saving it? Didn’t you make some snide remark about your best friend’s outfit to another person?

Today I’m not talking about those actions. I’m talking about the villains in books and movies that keep us coming back. Villains like Lex Luther in Superman and Max Cady in Cape Fear. When these bad guys scare the wits out of me I’m the happiest. Why? Because the writers did their jobs—they entertained us, scared us and had us going home thankful we didn’t have these characters in our life.

Nothing makes me happier than when a reader goes out of their way to tell me how much my bad guys creeped them out. Talk about a thrill.  Phil Lucci in Burn in Hell garnered me many compliments. I had one reader tell me she had a hard time sleeping the night Kyra met Phil. Ah, music to my ears. Violins peak, than fade out.

To develop characters with such flaws I research criminals and serial killers. Let me tell you I have never in my life dealt with such darkness.  In fact, for my WIP (work in process) the third book in the Jake Carrington Series, I had to stop the research after two weeks. These are sick men and women who are wired so differently than you and I. Knowing how their minds work while they live next door to you, until that fateful day when they turn their fantasies into reality—is how you build the tension in the books.

What I find so amazing about most is, in real life and fiction, how normal they appear until that moment in time when they reveal their true natures. It’s the threat of what’s to come that glues us to our seats in the movies. Or has us sitting up late into the night turning the pages to see if the villain gets what they deserve.

It’s the promise of the kill or the arrest that pulls you through the story. Ah, but there are times when I wish the bad guys would win. Have you ever wished for the villain to win?

Here’s a taste of Phil Lucci. What do you think?

Burn in Hell, A Jake Carrington Mystery.


BurninHell_500The guard led them down a long, tiled hallway covered in oriental rugs and expensive artwork on the walls. He opened a set of pocket doors and ushered them into a beautifully appointed office. A large, masculine cherry-wood desk stood as the focal point of the room. A floor to ceiling window behind the desk looked out onto the lake. It showcased the owner perfectly.

It said, ‘I’m powerful and dangerous, don’t waste my time.’ A marble statue stood in the corner—a toga-draped Roman woman pouring water from a pitcher. The couches and chairs were covered in soft, supple, beige leather. The walls were a dark tan and the rugs were red, pulling the whole room together. Why she took this all in she couldn’t say, but it was the man

behind the desk who really held her attention. Jet black hair framed beady, black

eyes and exaggerated an already prominent hawk-like nose in a narrow face. The face wasn’t handsome so much, as interesting. He looked ferocious.

“Ah, Ms. Russell, it’s a pleasure to meet you.”

As he stood to take her hand, she hoped she hid the surprise that he stood the same height as her—small for a man, at five feet four inches. Did he have the Napoleon complex to go along with his height—or lack thereof?

“Hi. I’m sorry. I don’t know your name.” Her eyes never left his face.

“I’m Phil.”

She tried to remove her hand from his, but he held on. Frightened, she tried a smile.

“What a surprise you are. Leave us, all of you,” he commanded.

“Mr.—” Joe tried to speak.

“I said leave. Including you, Angelo. We’ll be fine here, won’t we, Ms. Russell?”

“I…guess,” Kyra stammered, as they scurried from the room. I’m the sacrificial virgin being offered up to the gods.

“You’ll be okay, Ms. Russell. May I call you Kyra?”


“Yes, a surprise you are, Kyra, both in beauty and intelligence.”

They watched each other, assessing. “Why intelligence?”

Laughing, he answered. “Because you hold your tongue and observe. Not many women…no, that’s not true…not many people are smart enough to keep quiet and listen. Do you know why you’re here, Kyra?” He stared into her eyes.

“Yes,” she whispered, and looked away from his piercing gaze.

He let go of her hand, offered her a seat. “Please sit. Would you like refreshments?”

“No, thank you.” She took the single chair by the couch. His laughter unnerved her. What the f–k was amusing him?

“I like polite. Are you afraid I’ll sit too close to you?”

Small talk and flirting were not what she’d expected. “No. I don’t know what to expect from you, Phil.”

“Honesty. I like that too.”

He sat in the chair opposite her, never taking his eyes off her. Kyra adjusted her position and sat perfectly still, her hands folded in her lap, her eyes lowered, waiting…

The silence filled the room. She understood he’d talk when he was ready. A smart man. He waited also. Intimidation seemed to be his game and he played it well. Hell, it worked. Not going to lay his cards on the table until he made a decision about her. I don’t have all night. Hoping he got to it sooner, rather than later, Kyra reined in her temper. It took all her control to do it.

“Your color’s brightened. Are you hot?”


“Are you annoyed?”


“You’re sure?


“Did I do something to make you mad?”

“No, Phil. I’m nervous. I know what you want from me. I don’t have a choice, so I’d like to know how and when,” Kyra answered impatiently.

 * * * *

“I can see you’re nervous, but you and I haven’t spoken about anything, so I’m not clear on how you know what I want. Are you a mind reader, Kyra?” He watched her stare at the floor.


“Look at me, Kyra.” He waited until she raised her eyes to his. “Nobody, Kyra, knows what I think or what I need. It’s how I’ve succeeded in life. Do you understand?”


“It’s difficult to have a conversation with you if you’re only going to give one syllable answers.”

Her eyes drew his attention from the moment she entered the room. They held his interest—damn, they were mesmerizing. How she wound up here baffled him.

“I’m sorry. This is a first for me.” She shrugged.

He pressed a button on his desk. Moments later a maid walked in. “Yes, sir?”

“Bring a pot of coffee with some Danish.”

“Right away, sir.”

They sat in silence until the maid came back with the coffee. Phil moved around the room, trying to decide if he’d use her. Normally, he couldn’t care less about a tool. Make no mistake, she was a tool, but there was something about this one he wanted to get to know. Ah, but business was business. He cleared his mind, studied her some more. No matter how hard she tried to hide her nerves, they showed, along with her unhappiness. Her movements jerky while her gaze scanned the room like a cornered animal. Phil poured a cup of coffee and handed it to her.

“Thank you.”

“Kyra, why don’t you tell me why you’re here?”

 * * * *

Where to begin, she thought, sipping the coffee, ignoring the burn. Her head spinning with a dozen answers. “Joe Dillon’s my host at the casino—I’m in debt way over my head—he made me an offer to pay off my debt so I could start over again.”

She took a deep breath when she finished, looking into his eyes. Scared, not able to read him.

“Is this something you would normally do?”

What, is this man crazy? “No. He gave me two options. Neither appealed to me, both were absolutely out of the question, but I don’t have a choice.” She dropped her head in defeat.

* * * *

He liked she didn’t cry, didn’t apologize, or blame anyone else for her troubles. Kyra took the responsibility for her actions. “Then why are you here?”

Her head jerked up. “Excuse me?”

“I asked…why are you here? It’s a simple question.” His voice hardened.

“I told you I have no choice.”

“Who said?”

“I understood I had no choice when Joe presented it to me.”

“We all have choices, Kyra. You can choose one of the options Joe presented to you or walk away and never look back.”

If he hadn’t been studying her face he would have missed the shock and then the surprise that overrode it. She’s a bevy of emotions. He enjoyed watching her reactions. It would be easy to control her.

“Without any trouble?”

“What trouble could I cause you?”

“I don’t know. I don’t know you.”

“That’s right, you don’t.” He paused. “I understand you have a son. It must be hard to work full-time and be a parent.” He smiled benevolently.

“I don’t want to speak about my son.”

He’d frightened her. Phil liked fear, another element he used often in controlling people. “Normally, I can’t shut a mother up about her children.”

“Trevor doesn’t come into this, understand?” Ballsy too. “Are you threatening me, Kyra?” He smiled without humor.

“No,” she whispered.

“Good. If I decide to use you, you’ll have no say in anything. Anything, you got that?”


“Good. I don’t hurt children. I’m insulted that after spending less than half an hour with me you’d think I would.” Anger peppered his words.

“Trevor’s everything to me. I needed…I had to make sure.” Her voice quavered.

“I understand. But you understand, if we move forward, I own you. Own you, Kyra.” He stared her down.

She lowered her head, sat in silence. He noticed her hands shake, watched her gather her strength before she replied.

“I’d like to know what you mean by ‘own me.’”

“Exactly that. Do you need a dictionary?” Sarcasm dripping off his every word.

Visit Marian’s website Marian Lanouette
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Cindy here again!

Thanks for being here, Marian. I love a good villain. Your villain sounds very creepy. Must check out the book!

Until next time…


Stranger than fiction

Welcome to the blog! I’ve got Michele Drier talking about times when real life is stranger than fiction.

Here’s Michele!

Millions of people read mysteries—murder mysteries. They read thrillers, puzzlers, police procedurals, private eyes and cozies. The protagonist can be an antiques dealer, a real estate broker, a shoe designer, a private detective, a police, Secret Services or FBI officer.

But there’s always a body, or several bodies.

Readers may scoff at the situations the protagonists encounter and say, “Boy, this author has an imagination. That couldn’t happen in real life!”

Don’t be too sure!

There was the short story we ran about the man arrested for assault—on a horse. He was caught in a pasture with his pants down around his ankles. The horse didn’t testify.

Covering the cop shop doesn’t always result in interesting, bizarre stories, but a lot of the time it involves murder. And beyond the grisly serial killers, the mass murderers, are quirky ones.

The drug dealer whose pals shot him, stuffed his body in a sleeper sofa and were sitting on it watching TV when the cops arrived.

The real estate agent who was shot with a crossbow while waiting for clients in an empty house.

I spent about twenty years, on and off, in newspaper newsrooms around California. I didn’t cover the police beat, but I assigned the reporters who did, and I edited their stories. And what stories.

When I was at the San Jose Mercury-News, there was a rash of serial killings in the Santa Cruz Mountains. With typical gallows humor, somebody would say “any new bodies,” every morning and get a sour look. Six young women disappeared and the bodies of another woman and her friend turned up before Edmund Kemper turned himself in. He also killed his grandparents in an earlier spree.

In Modesto, a woman, her daughter and a friend disappeared from a motel on the edge of Yosemite National Park. We were the closest large newspaper and covered the disappearance, the search, the FBI work, the family, the discovery of the burnt car, finding the bodies, the murder of a young Park worker and the eventual capture of Cary Stayner.

As we covered murders over the years I thought this is what I’d use if I ever wrote a novel—how newspapers cover murders, how they play them, how much they interact with the police and how journalists dig to find facts.

Many of the stories are stranger than fiction…you can’t make some of this up.

One of my favorites: My police reporter covered an arraignment. The bad guy pled guilty. She wrote a brief. Then I watched her on the phone, getting agitated. When she hung up she said it was the bad guy, yelling at her for saying he pled guilty. Why? Because, he said, “I told you I was innocent!”

What’s your favorite stranger than fiction story?

LabeledForDeath_1600x2400 (3) About Michelle:  Michele Drier was born in Santa Cruz and is a fifth generation Californian. She’s lived and worked all over the state, calling both Southern and Northern California home.  During her career in journalism—as a reporter and editor at daily newspapers—she won awards for producing investigative series.

Her mystery Edited for Death, called “Riveting and much recommended” by the Midwest Book Review is on Amazon and the second book in the Amy Hobbes Newspaper mysteries, Labeled for Death, is published.

Her paranormal romance series, SNAP: The Kandesky Vampire Chronicles, is available in ebook, paperback and audible at ebook retailers.  All have received “must read” reviews from the Paranormal Romance Guild. SNAP: The World Unfolds, SNAP: New Talent, Plague: A Love Story and Danube: A Tale of Murder are available singly and in a boxed set at Amazon, B&N and Kobo. The fifth book, SNAP: Love for Blood rated 5 stars, is now out. She’s writing SNAP: Happily Ever After? for release in fall 2013 and a seventh book later in 2013.


Visit her website: or facebook page, or her Amazon author page,


Cindy here again!

Great post, Michele. It’s so true. Some things that happen in real life you couldn’t put in a book without people questioning if it could really happen.

Until next time…



Lynda Kaye Frazier interviews Mercedes Kingsley

Welcome to the blog! Today I’ve got Lynda Kaye Frazier interviewing her character Mercedes Kingsley.

Here’s Lynda!

My name is Lynda Kaye Frazier and I write Suspense Romances.I am interviewing Mercedes Kingsley. She is an FBI intern waiting on a response from her application to the Academy. She is struggling with her need to be an agent and her attraction to Jason Michaels, while hiding a secret that will destroy everything she has worked so hard to build.

Lynda: “Welcome Ms. Kingsley. I have asked you here to go over a few items in your application for the Academy. I’ve reviewed your paperwork and would like you to tell me about the incidents that led to your father’s retirement 10 years ago.”

Mercy; Mercy swallowed hard and rubbed her sweaty palms together. “ It was a botched kidnapping which had a devastating ending to my father’s career. “ They just don’t need to know what else ended that night.

Lynda; “Could I have details please, I need it for the application. You failed to give information that we will need for the review board.”

Mercy: “My father was an Agent but also owned a software firm. There were threats made to the company and I was kidnapped because of them. My Father, and his partner Ron Daily, found out where I was being held. My Dad did not follow protocol and came in without back-up. His actions saved me that night but his career died that night and so did my dream to be an agent. I could not apply for the Academy as long as my dad struggled to get his life back. But, as you have read, it’s been 10 years and I realized that being an agent was the only think I wanted to do. So I pursued the internship and applied to the Academy.” Mercy’s heart pounded in her ears as she fought to stay in control.

Lynda: “Are your parents fine with your decision? You know your father will be interviewed, and he is highly respected. His opinion will be taken into account.”

Mercy: “I know how this will affect my parents but they’ll back my decision. I didn’t want to tell them until I had my acceptance letter.” I didn’t want to tell them until I was in the Academy. Ron said they weren’t going to talk to my dad. What changed?

Lynda: “ I see that you had counseling after the kidnapping and treatment for anxiety, and you suffer from claustrophobia. Those are issues that need to be resolved before the board review. It will affect your ability to be an agent.”

Mercy: How did they find out? Ron said no one would know and I would have time to figure out a way around it. What else can go wrong? “My counseling was complete and I was released. I attached my past medical records in my application. My issue with claustrophobia is in the past. That should also be stated in my medical papers.”

Lynda: “It is. I just wanted to hear you say it, and make me believe it. During the Academy you will be working closely with Ron Daily and his team. Will that be a problem for you? I see you have a close relationship with them and a personal one with Jason Michaels. Have you read the rules Mercy? We have guidelines and if this is an issue I want to know now.”

Mercy; Mercy’s chest squeezed and her hands shook. She had to stop the panic attack before it starts. It will kill her application quicker than his kiss. The memory of that kiss still warmed her lips but she knew the rules and the pain she saw in his eyes as she walked away will always haunt her. “It will not be an issue. Agent Daily and his team have helped me during my internship, and that’s all. We have a close business relationship only. Mr. Michaels and I do not have any kind of relationship, nor do we plan on having one. We both are aware of the rules and what is at stake if any are broken.”

Lynda: “Ok as long as you are aware that they will also be interviewed”

Mercy: Mercy took a deep breath as the phone rang.

Lynda: “I need to take this. I believe I have everything I need. I will contact you when the board reviews your application. Make sure you discuss this with your family. We will be contacting them soon”

Mercy quickly left the room as her heart pounded in her ears. She had to find her parents and talk to them, but she had to see Jason first, if he’ll see her. Mercy swallowed past the fear in her throat. She has told so many lies to hide the truth, and a few secrets she’s not ready for anyone to know, and it’s all closing in on her, fast.


255780_233123696699257_100000048857857_1006263_4445872_n I’m an avid reader of romantic suspense and started writing about a year ago after a vivid dream. I know, sounds cliché, but that’s how it started.  I work full time at a Cardiology clinic, then at night you will find me in front of my computer. I grew up in Pennsylvania, but now live in Arkansas, surrounded by the Ozark mountains where I get to enjoy the four seasons without a long, cold winter. Other than spending time with my wonderful family, my favorite things to do are writing, reading and listening to music, but my most favorite is going to the beach. Surf, sand and a good book, my stress relief. ted his spot with Thomas Flanagan, but his


Lynda Kaye Frazier


Twitter- lynda_kaye 

Amazon Author page:
Writing is my passion, Reading is my Love.

He searches for information to tie the two together when he finds out they have kidnapped a fellow agent, Mercedes Kingsley, the only girl he has ever loved. Jason soon realizes they’re using Mercy to perfect their dosage and that his cover has been blown. He knows

Rescued from the Dark, Romantic Suspense

Published through Black Opal Books

Released February 16,2013


small   FBI agent Jason Michaels goes undercover with the Irish Mob to get information on their gun smuggling ring. While on assignment he realizes they have joined forces with a known terrorist group manufacturing drugs. He searches for information to tie the two together when he finds out they have kidnapped a fellow agent, Mercedes Kingsley, the only girl he has ever loved. Jason soon realizes they’re using Mercy to perfect their dosage and that his cover has been blown. He knows he has to save her so he takes off on a  journey that will take him up against his enemies, peers and the Agency that he loves, but is willing to give up to bring Mercy back to him.



She has no memory of their love…


Kidnapped by terrorists and sent into a drug-induced coma, FBI intern Mercedes Kingsley awakes with no memory of her ordeal—or the intimate interlude that left her pregnant. Convinced her child was fathered by her ex-fiancé, she walks away from the only man she has ever loved, determined to make things work with her ex, a man the FBI suspects is implicated in her abduction.


He knows the truth, but no one will listen…


FBI undercover agent Jason Michaels remembers what Mercy can’t and those memories are breaking his heart. Forced to keep his distance from his lover and their unborn child, Jason risks his life to protect Mercy from a cell of international terrorists who have vowed to get the secrets locked in her memory, no matter the cost. Can Jason convince Mercy to trust him until she remembers their past, or will he lose her to a man who will trap her in a nightmare world of darkness from which there is no escape?


E-book teaser:


He had to get her out of there, but with all the drugs in her system, would she even remember who he was?


Mercy was lying on the bed. Even in the dim light, he could tell she was pale. Her clothes were wrinkled and her shirt caked with what they forced her to eat. From the looks of the room she fought hard. Damn, he needed to get her out before the drugs took her from him.

“Mercy, wake up. Come on, open your eyes.” Nothing. She didn’t move. Okay, she’s not going to like this. “You need to wake up and take a shower, so let’s get both done at the same time.”

He took the chair into the shower and turned it on then went back to the bed. He picked up Mercy, and placed her under the fine mist of cold water. Just what she needed. He held her in the chair as the water flowed over her head, soaking her hair and drizzling down her shoulders. His back was pelted by the spray as he knelt in front of her, but he didn’t care. He shook her shoulders, and she stirred.

“Good, Mercy. Come on, open your eyes.” He struggled to hold her slippery, wet body in the chair. The T-shirt was soaked and her thin bra could not hide the effects of the cold water. He clenched his jaw tight at the thought of never being able to touch her, love her. She has to remember him, remember them. She struggled against his hold as she started to wake. “I’m not letting you up until you open your eyes. Come on, look at me.”

Her eyes flew open. They were filled will fear and confusion as she frantically searched the room. Then her head dropped and their eyes met and he knew.



An explosion ricocheted behind Jason Michael’s eyes as the pressure mounted in his head. The rush of panic consumed him. He struggled to move, tried to swallow, but nothing. His throat burned as the flames engulfed his lungs. He needed to breathe but couldn’t. Shit. He strained to make out the muffled voice, but the pounding in his ears erased all hope. His head started to spin and he succumbed to the realization, this was it, the end. He won. The flames dampened and his heartbeat slowed as the drums subsided, then the voice became clear.

“Give it to him now you son of a bitch. What were you thinking? We still need him.”

In a split second, Jason sucked in a breath, causing stabbing pains to shoot through his chest. Every muscle fiber burned as the cold blast of air shot through his lungs releasing the oxygen his body craved. He arched his back, raising his chest up to pull in more air when his head snapped to the side and the crack from his neck echoed in his ears. The pain ripped through his jaw, racing across his cheekbone. Before he could gather his senses, intense burning set his face on fire. What the hell?

The slap against his cheek stung, and his eyes snapped open. He wrenched upright, hitting his head on the roof of the SUV. His gaze darted back and forth looking for something familiar until he locked onto the ice-cold stare of the devil himself, Shaun Flanagan.

Damn, that was close. Jason could not blow his cover, even if it meant he would die as David Logan and not Jason Michaels.

“You’re finally awake, my boy. We almost lost you,” Shaun cold, emotionless laugh caused Jason’s blood to boil. “You stopped breathing, I think. It’s hard to tell with this new stuff. I hope you’re not too injured. We’ve got work to do.”

Jason’s vision blurred, but his other senses were sharp. Shaun had known exactly what the drug would do and the burn in Jason’s throat was a harsh reminder. Shaun’s sarcastic tone spoke volumes to him. He was evil and did not play by anyone’s rules but his own. Jason had spent the last two months undercover, playing their games and doing their dirty work to buddy up tight to this family. He’d earned his spot with Thomas Flanagan, but his son Shaun had issues trusting anyone, even his own father.

Jason’s anger burned inside of him, but he couldn’t afford to make mistakes, not now. He was too close. It’s time to step it up, but first the drugs had to stop. He rubbed his aching jaw with one hand, clenching his other into a fist to hide his visible shaking. He had to get control of this game before he lost everything.

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Cindy here again!

Great interview and loved the excerpt.

Until next time…



Windswept Shores with a wild boar problem

Welcome to my blog! My sister, brother in-law and niece just got back from the Bahamas. They go often. My niece is five and a half and she’s been there six times. I’ve been there zero times. Janice Seagraves includes an excerpt that shows a different side of the Bahamas.

Here’s Janice!

Windswept Shores's BookCoverPreviewBlurb: The sole survivor of a plane crash, Megan is alone on a deserted island in the Bahamas. Then she finds a nearly-drowned man. Another survivor, this time from a boat wreck.

With only meager survival skill between them, will they survive these windswept shores and can they find love?

Megan and Seth’s time on the island is far from idyllic. Food is one of their concerns, and another is the problems with the local wild boars that aren’t afraid of people.

Excerpt (BTW, Seth is Australian):

Hearing an odd noise, Megan and Seth exchanged a worried glance. It sounded again.

Megan pulled down the corners of her mouth, spitting out one word, “Pigs.”

Seth’s eyes widened. “Bill.” He thrust the eggs into her hands, heading to the ladder on the side of the boat.

“Where are you going?” Megan asked.

“They’re in Bill’s ashes. After his bones.”

“You can’t charge boars barehanded. They have long, sharp tusks.” She frowned, as she wondered what else she could say to keep him on the boat. “The last time I ran across a wild pig, I had to climb a tree.”

He slammed his fist on the boat’s railing. “I should have taken them out last night and buried them.” Opening a chest, Seth took out a spear-gun. “You know how to use one of these?”

“No, I’ve only seen them on TV.” She set the eggs on the swivel chair.

“It’s just like on the box. You point and pull the trigger.” Seth demonstrated, loading it with a long spear with a wicked looking barb.

“What are you going to do?” She took the spear-gun.

Seth pushed the sharp end away from him. “I’m gonna make a bullroarer.” He brought out some heavy duty fishing line, tying a pointed weight to the end of it. “If I get charged, shoot. But try not to hit me.”

“I’ll try,” she said softly.

“Try a little harder than that, love.” He grinned as he climbed down the ladder.

Megan scurried over to the side and aimed the spear-gun at the pigs.

Seth rounded the bow of the boat. He called out with a thick accent, “Oy, get away from there, you miserable drongo.”

The boar grunted at him, sounding like “Huh?” The sow snorted, her piglets hiding behind her.

“Well come on, take a gander at the big Aussie.” He spread his arms wide as the boar snuffled, trying to scent him. Seth unwound the cord from the weight, spinning it over his head. The weapon started to hum until it turned into a very odd loud buzzing noise.

Alarmed by the noise, the pigs snorted and squealed.

“What a gas bag you are, you and your dirty grubs.” He moved closer to the hogs.

The female and the babies acted nervous, as if they didn’t want anything to do with that odd whirling noise overhead. With a last loud squeal of dismay, they ran off.

The boar didn’t budge but pawed the ground.

“Seth, the boar is going to charge,” Megan warned. She kept a bead on it with the spear-gun.

“Steady now, Megz.” He edged closer to the boar. “Oy, you great big wanker, your missus left and so should you.”

The boar squealed and charged. Megan screamed. The spear-gun went off.


For the first time available as a trade paperback:
Trade paper back UK:
For the Kindle US:
For the kindle UK:

Janice Seagraves’s website:
Janice Seagraves’s blog:

Cindy here again!

Great excerpt, Janice! My family has never seen that side of the Bahamas. But they have tried boar. I think my niece actually liked it.

Until next time…


I, Sexy Robot

Welcome to my blog! Today I have an intriguing post by Kara Ashley Dey about robots. And the possibility of transferring our consciousness into a robot body. There’s also a give away!

Here’s Kara!

At some point NASA will face the truth: fleshy water bags are not meant to travel the vast, scary void called space. We humans will need a new plan, a new vehicle that doesn’t wrap us up tight like sardines or put us in time-wasting super-sleep until we reach our destination. The vehicle just might become our very bodies–made of the strongest metals, the most durable circuitry, and the longest lasting energy sources. Personally, I believe the strides in AI, social networking, DNA and gene mapping, and computer capabilities point to the probability we will travel the universe in robot bodies, our consciences having been transferred into compatible programs that will preserve our identities through the long trek to our next Eden.

We may have one universal body that directs a select amount of robots to do important jobs while we hurl through space. We may live in a virtual reality similar to the Matrix, so that we do not go mad during the 2,000-year trek. Or we may have individual bodies that work on physical repairs to our ship and that solve foreseeable problems as we come closer to our destination. For example, say tomorrow we figure out how to upload our consciousness into a computer. At this point in our evolution we may not know how to transfer our consciousness back into a fleshy water-bag. But give our computer-enhanced intellects 2000 years and I am pretty sure we will cross that bridge, no problem, when we get there. If we really want to transfer back into flesh, that is.

Good deviant that I am, the next thing I consider is the quality of life…like sex. If we travel the heavens as hyper-tin, will life be worth living without sexual pleasure? 2000 years’ worth, to guesstimate? Well, who says robots cannot experience sex? Pleasure is not solely for procreation. Virtual reality proves that sexual pleasure is created in the mind, though we may feel its effects through our entire bodies. A good, sexy book. A daydream. A picture. These stimulate. If sexual pleasure did not originate in the brain, men would never have wet dreams.

Apply this to our super space bodies and what is to prevent us from developing sensors spread out, over our Teflon skins? Currently, blood pumps to all the right places, swelling and expanding, stimulating and warming our body parts. But though these stimulations happen in different areas of our bodies, sort of like activating different feelers, it is the brain that interprets this information. If you decide to literally live in ‘the box’ all you would need is that brain, dreaming the fantastic dream. We might go 100 percent virtual or 50/50 Matrix/robotics, depending on how we choose to evolve.

What do you think about space travel? Warp speed, wormhole or thousand year exodus? How will our bodies handle it, if at all? What will happen with our sexual desires and quality of life? Answer any of these in comments. One lucky commenter will receive a $10 email gift card to either Amazon or B&N.

–Kara xx00xx

BIO for Kara Ashley Dey:

profile_port_03SMLLI’m a writer who likes fantasy, speculative and paranormal fiction with romantic elements. I also enjoy interviewing multi-talented artists and writers to find out what ‘makes them tick.’ Sharing experiences is a really great way to learn about the world and ourselves. Plus, I’m a firm believer in rejoicing in other people’s successes; it’s free and it feels great.

Living in Houston with my darling husband has taught me about the blessings of great neighbors and Texas BBQ. My favorite critics are my two plump cats that purr their pleasure at most everything I write.


To keep in touch:

Twitter: @KaraAshleyDey
Blog:  (latest reviews in games, movies and books)

Websites: (Romance Reviews and News) (Spell Caster interviews of multi-talented artists)

Latest book: Stealing Sky:

Book Blurb:

postcard_promo_001B_02When the powerful conquer weaker worlds, all that’s left is stealing sky.

The characters:

CASSIE BRINTMAN: Duke’s embarrassingly spoiled daughter to some, soiled scandalous socialite to others, Cassie is set on proving all opinions about her wrong. She only has to escape punishment on her Gran’s swamp planet and find a suitable husband on her own. But plots and plans which take advantage of the sweetest of farm folk are destined to go awry, and Cassie finds there are worse prison wardens in space.

SKAI WESTFORD: Returning home from his last tour of duty in the Duke’s Red Flag Squadron, Skai settles back to life with his father and brother on NuTierra Ba. The last thing he wants is feminine drama, but it seems his boss’s granddaughter has no concern for his wants or his family’s wellbeing. When he takes a stand against Cassie’s manipulative flirtations with his brother, Skai finds himself far from home and S.O.L.

Captain Alexxus: More than money drives this captain and her crew aboard Heaven’s Hand. None but those closest to her know the secret to her quest–a secret linked to the black eye-patch she rubs–her only tell to the horrors she has seen. She has a secret agenda that could destroy all of them.

Vixen: Captain Alexxus’s first mate, she will follow her beloved captain to the Eternal Tree of Eden or to the depths of hell.

Edmund Greene: The Duke’s Arrow. An assassin with a special interest in chasing down Heaven’s Hand, he’s intent on revenge and revisiting old addictions.

Cindy here again! 

Thanks for being here, Kara. Interesting questions you pose in your post. Not sure what I would want.

Until next time…



The Shadow Knows

Welcome to my blog! Today I have Jim Cort talking about a fascinating fictional character. The Shadow.

Here’s Jim!

The ShadowThe year is 1930. Street and Smith, publishers of Love Story, Western Story, Detective Story, and other pulp fiction magazines, is sponsoring a radio program called “Detective Story Hour”. This program dramatizes stories that will appear in Detective Story. The host of the show is an enigmatic figure known as The Shadow, portrayed by Broadway actor James LaCurto, and later by Frank Readick. “The weed of crime,” he tells us, “bears bitter fruit. Crime does not pay. The Shadows knows.”

The program would sign off with The Shadow urging listeners to pick up the latest issue of Detective Story at their favorite newsstands. And they did, sort of. Many people asked their news dealers for the magazine with The Shadow in it.

Trouble was, there wasn’t any such magazine.

But Street and Smith, ever on the ball, declared if the public wanted a Shadow magazine, they’d give them a Shadow magazine. They turned to a 33 year-old journalist and magician,   Walter B. Gibson. Gibson had worked with Houdini, Thurston, and Blackstone. More to the point, he could write fast, he could write well enough, and he knew how to make a deadline.

Gibson spent some time discussing the character with the editors. He was to be as mysterious as his name implied, a scourge of the underworld. This was a time when organized criminal mobs had seized the imagination of the public in fiction, in the movies, and, sadly, in their local newspapers. The Shadow, Master of Darkness, could pursue these mobsters, approaching them unseen in the shadows, (At this point, he could not make himself invisible. That came later on radio), exposing them, and dealing out vigilante justice.

Gibson’s Shadow was a master of stealth, of deduction, of disguise. He was fearless, relying on his wits and his twin .45’s to extricate him from any jam. In the guise of Lamont Cranston, man about town, he could glean the latest criminal news from Police Commissioner Weston. The Shadow also had a network of agents throughout the city. If you were in trouble, The Shadow would rescue you. Afterwards, you became his agent, using your unique talents and knowledge to assist his fight against crime when called upon.

These novels were brimming with action, unbridled invention, and startling twists and turns. The pace never flagged. The villains were unspeakably evil, and the Shadow was unfailingly heroic. The Shadow magazine gave rise to a whole class of magazines that came to be called the hero pulps: The Spider, Phantom Detective, The Avenger, Secret Agent X, and Doc Savage, just to name a few.

Gibson originally contracted to produce four novel-length Shadow stories each year. These were about 60,000 words apiece. The magazine became an unqualified success, and before long Street and Smith decided to make it a monthly. That meant twelve novels a year. The public clamored for more, and the magazine changed to a twice-monthly. Twenty-four novels a year. Gibson was averaging a million and a half words annually, and that wasn’t counting the work he was doing elsewhere. He had some help from Theodore Tinsley, Lester Dent, and Bruce Elliot, all of whom wrote under Gibson’s house name Maxwell Grant. But the bulk of the work was Gibson’s

How did he do it? He did it because he was a writer, not an author, a distinction Mickey Spillane used to make about himself. Gibson’s output was phenomenal, but by no means unique. Many pulp writers could match his numbers. When your markets paid only a penny a word, your only hope for a decent income was volume.

But more importantly, these men took pride in being professionals. They knew what was needed, and they knew how to do it. They were working men. No time to bother with Art or Inspiration, or Aesthetics—we’ll leave that to the guys writing Literature, the stuff that everyone praises and nobody reads.

The Shadow magazine lasted 18 years.  The final tally was 325 novels, of which Gibson wrote 282.  Are they great literature? Of course not. They were a popular product to fill a popular need, and the only ones who read them were people. People still read them today.

Nowadays you can find the Shadow’s adventures in several different reprints in bookstores, or on the Internet. Give The Shadow a try sometime. He knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men.

Do you?

Jim Cort has been writing since God knows when. He will soon have a novel, The Lonely Impulse, published by Smashwords.

Cindy here again!

Thanks for being here, Jim. Very interesting post. I want to read some of these Shadow novels. I will have to look for them.

Until next time…